The Shine Amidst The Dark

Well, top of the morning and happy new week to you all!

After a three week sabbatical from blogging, I am excited to be back writing once again! I hope you were all able to get some time to catch up on past blogs, relish in your favorites, get the wheels turning in your brain for future topics you would like to see me write about, and enjoy the extremely hot sunshine Mother Nature has been throwing our way.

Before I dive in to this week’s post, I must take a moment to thank everyone for being patient and supportive throughout my weeks away. I definitely missed writing and sharing sunshine and joy with you all!

Yesterday morning started out like most Sunday mornings. My alarm went off bright and early at 6:30am…well, if you want to get technical, my internal clock woke me up at 6:15am before the alarm even sounded. Don’t you just dislike how that ALWAYS seems to happen?

Anyhoo, I got out of bed, headed to the bathroom for my daily morning ritual of putting in contacts, brushing my teeth, shaving my face, and putting on running clothes.

I opened the front door, walked through the breeze of the brisk morning air to get to my car, and headed to the office of my full-time job to do some running.

After completing 3.2 miles between a mix of parking lot laps and some road side sprints, I showered, put on church clothes, and headed to Wawa for my traditional morning coffee stop. Can you guess my traditional morning coffee order from Wawa?!

I mean…if you guessed cream and sugar, you are half right! Haha!

My official Wawa coffee order is a 24 oz. Hazelnut coffee with sugar and French Vanilla creamer. So, if you ever want to give Mr. Sunshine an extra boost of energy or smile, you know how to accomplish that with a quick stop by the Wawa hot beverage station.

My apologies…I digress. This is what we call “shiny ball syndrome.”

I got into my car, put on Martina McBride’s “This One For The Girls” to jam out to, and preceded to take a few sips of my delicious coffee as I made the final trek to church.

As I parked the car, I walked into the sanctuary where I was greeted with a huge smile by Vicar Angie–who was back for the first Sunday in 5 weeks since traveling to Tanzania. It was a moment of pure joy that mixed beautifully with the happy feeling I was already experiencing from the Wawa coffee and belting the lyrics to Martina’s song.

I began to prepare my music and get organized as members of the congregation started to trickle in. I decided to pull up my phone to check out because I hadn’t done so in awhile and wanted to get a quick update on what was happening in the world.

And as the webpage began to fully load, I immediately sunk down on the piano bench with a wave of emotion that started to bring tears to my eyes. The headline read:

“A Deadly Day In America.”

I quickly scanned the story that was now in the palm of my hand on the screen—not one, but two shootings in one day killing a total of 29 individuals and injuring several others in the states of both Texas and Ohio.

My heart sank. My eyes filled with tears.

It is moments like these that are the toughest for me to cope with.

The world is something that scares me because of the increasing amount of hatred, violence, and uncertainty we experience on the daily.

It is moments like these that make it both incredibly tough and draining to live out the Mr. Sunshine energy and positivity.

It is moments like these that make it even harder to be the shine amidst the dark.

How does one shine amidst the dark you might ask?

It is the million dollar question that doesn’t have an exact answer; however, I plan to describe to you all how I try to keep the shine alive.

Below are three things that I do within my life to help filter negative from world events and how I channel it into an energy of positivity, love, and kindness.

  1. Journaling: This is a very simple task that I’ve been doing on and off for a couple of years. While it is something that I would eventually like to do everyday, I usually end up writing in it when there is something negative occurring in either my life or the world. I take the negative emotions I’m feeling and word vomit…well “write vomit” them into a journal. I don’t filter what I say…I just write. I write what I feel and I write until I feel there are no more words left in me to come out. There is something so satisfying and rejuvenating about “letting it all out on the table” as they say…except…I’m writing it in a journal. Doing this allows me to filter negative energy into a place that is for my eyes only. I’ve found the most success with my journaling in places that are quiet and conducive to a meditation-like state of mind. The church sanctuary is a place where I’ve often found myself writing these thoughts, the comfort of my room at home, or in nature surrounded by only trees, sky, and air. Doing this is SO helpful. You should try it.
  2. Music: This is an aspect of my life that I often find myself turning to when the world around me is dark and cold. Music helps me find solace, peace, and comfort when turmoil seems to be everywhere. It is something that allows me to express emotion through the keys of a piano into an art that can be enjoyed by many. It is something that allows me to share emotion with those around me in hopes of helping them to dig deep into the emotions of their own personal life and be one-on-one with the notes they hear played and to feel something real and something raw.
  3. Work For A Cause: This one is the most important to me. While the world continues to throw curve balls of violence and negativity, it is up to us to swing our bats and hit those curve balls with elements of positivity, love, and kindness. And one of the ways I do that is by working for a cause. Those that have been with me since my Penn State days know that pediatric cancer research is a cause close to my heart. It is something that I’m extremely passionate about and will continue to fight for in my years of life on this planet until a cure is found. This year, I’m trying to run 1000 miles while attempting to raise $16,000 toward pediatric cancer research through The Four Diamonds Fund. The fire inside my soul is ignited even brighter during times of darkness. The flames inside me fire up even more because we are the ones that are responsible for change. We are the ones who can influences others through the facets of love and kindness. We are the ones who can spread positive energy like ripples in a pond to the communities around us. Gandhi once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Find a cause you are passionate about. Be the change. Don’t just think about. Go and do.

It doesn’t seem like the world will be stopping its curve balls of negativity toward us anytime soon. The headlines of mass casualty shootings, deadly weather events, and other violent acts in the world show no sign of slowing down.

So, tackle the curve balls by stepping forward and hitting it head on. Don’t step back. Don’t hide away. Don’t strike out.

It’s time to be the change.

It’s time to go and do.

It’s time to be the shine amidst the dark.

Sprinkle sunshine always,