It is 10:08pm. My eye continues to heal. My mind is exhausted. My energy is lacking.
I’m currently sitting on the couch, wrapped in a blanket, and watching The Golden Girls. As the jokes over slices of cheesecake and Blanche’s latest date bring laughter from the tube, I find myself daydreaming as I hear the wind howl outside the window.
2020 certainly has been a year to say the least. And has been a year where I’ve had the opportunity to lay lower than normal and keep myself from being involved with “extra curricular activities.”
My mind is flooded with a million thoughts. Thoughts of things that need to be accomplished within the month, within the week, within the day, within the hours that are continuing to go “tick tock” on the grandfather clock keeping me company as I lay here writing this very post.
What will 2021 look like? When will be out of the woods with this pandemic? How is everyone in this world going to continue surviving after many of their livelihoods have been uprooted?
The negative energy of the world and its current happenings (many that have been happening for many months) are ones that I find myself struggling with on the daily to try and combat.
It’s not easy.
In fact, it’s probably the hardest thing in the world for me, especially given that I have the nickname “Mr. Sunshine.”
How does one keep going on with life when the threat of negativity, fear, unknown, and hatred linger around every corner?
It’s the million dollar question and one that only YOU, yourself can answer.
What’s my secret? Is there a secret?
No, there’s no secret.
For me, it’s all about finding the fuel that ignites me from within.
My fuel is helping people. My fuel is making sure those I care about in life are supported with love. My fuel is finding new ways to spread kindness.
On January 4, 2021, you will all find out what my newest tactic will be for sharing this love and happiness with the world.
It’s been weird not doing anything this year that emulate my principles of love and kindness; however, after the BIG year 2019 was for me, it felt appropriate to take a little break.
And, as all of the back-end work continues to come together in these last few weeks before the official release, I can honestly say that 2021 will be an even bigger year for me.
A HUGE undertaking that makes me excited, nervous, and every other adjective in the book.
But I can’t wait to share it with you.
So, if you haven’t already, mark your calendars for January 4, 2021.
Find your fuel. Find what makes your heart sing with so much love and happiness that you need to share it with others.
The world is a dark place with stories of coldness. The light inside ourselves can fuel the fire for others and ignite the waves and ripples of change that can make the biggest difference for you…for me…for everyone.
Find your fuel.
It’s time for us to ignite the fires within ourselves and go out to share that light with the world.
I sincerely hope that you and your loved ones were able to enjoy a safe and healthy Thanksgiving celebration no matter how different it might have looked.
It certainly didn’t feel like Thanksgiving to me–as this year has not even felt like a real year.
And to go along with that…2020 has certainly been a year to say the least.
It has been a year of firsts for me in several different aspects–some a bit comical and some a bit more serious.
Let’s start with the comical ones first, shall we?
-This year was the first year that I didn’t have Ocean Spray cranberry sauce sliced from the can at Thanksgiving dinner. And for those who don’t know, cranberry sauce is a VERY close second to my unhealthy addiction with mashed potatoes. Many thanks to Mama Welliver who was able to give me a “doggie container” of some slices that I will be enjoying throughout this week. Seriously, SO good.
-This year was the first year that I learned how to set an old-fashioned Victor mouse trap. There seems to be a little night critter visitor in the kitchen wrecking some havoc. so many thanks to my father for supplying me with the traps. And, many thanks to the homemade YouTube video that gave me the 1 minute lowdown on how to set it properly. There are currently now 4 of them perfectly placed (if I do say so myself) within the kitchen. And when that no, no Nanette nuisance is caught, I will be doing a happy dance…you can guarantee it. Or your money back. Also, I don’t know why, but the fact that I’ve heard a mouse makes me feel incredibly self-conscious that the house is a mess, which I swear it isn’t. Also, if you have any suggestions on how you may have caught mice (or a mouse) at your casa, let me know how you did it.
-This year is the first year that I put up an artificial Christmas tree at Sunshine Cottage. I’ve lived in this house for 4 years and have never found the energy to decorate. To go along with this, it is also one of the first years at the holidays that I’m not involved with a show at EPAC, which makes my heart so sad. I love the joy and thrill performing gives to me and doing it at the holiday season is always extra special no matter how busy and stressed I might get. I seriously CAN’T WAIT to get back to the art of performing and being involved at the theater. I miss my EPAC family like crazy.
And now we get to the serious “first” for 2020 that I experienced this week.
-This year was the first time that I ever stepped foot into an Emergency Room for medical treatment. Want to know the full story of how it happened?
Well, grab your trusty sidekick beverage and prepare yourself because I’ll give you the full lowdown.
It all started Sunday, November 22nd when my contacts started irritating me at church. I was tearing up, scratching, and itching. It almost felt like it was allergies for a moment. On the drive home, the light started to bother me and trying to keep my eyes fully open while driving into the sun was incredibly difficult.
I got home and immediately ran upstairs to the bathroom where I removed my contacts. Except the one in my right eye came out ripped and in two parts. Anyone else have that happen ever?
It is not pretty.
But the contacts were out. I put a cool, towel over my eyes to try and help with some of the itchiness and pain along with putting on my glasses to give my dealings with contacts a rest.
Fast forward to Monday morning where I woke up in a bit more pain and started to be irritated by looking at a computer screen. While working my part time job, I discovered that looking down was more helpful than looking up at light. So, I stood for a majority of my day on Monday, but I decided to call Teladoc to discuss my pain and symptoms with a doctor.
I discussed with them my symptoms and sent a picture of my eye and they mentioned that it sounded like a corneal abrasion, which basically is a fancy way of saying that the cornea had been scratched. This made sense, especially for the fact that it happened before many years ago when I removed a contact that was ripped. I was told that it would heal in a few days, so that was music to my ears. I went on with my day and cancelled all my extra curricular activities just to give my eye some rest. I also got some lubricating eye drops and edible cookie dough to soften the pain I was feeling.
I woke up Tuesday and opened my laptop to start work at my full-time job. And it was unbearable. The light (even with the laptop at a dark setting) and no lights on in my house was so painful and I had to cup my right eye in order to alleviate some of the pain. I was trying to type with one hand. I ended up taking the day off and basically slept all day.
I woke up after what felt like more sleep than I’ve ever experienced in my years on this Earth and I felt good. I went to bed Tuesday night feeling that the eye was starting to heal itself.
I was able to work Wednesday with minimal pain and made it through the day. By the time I clocked out at 5pm, I was feeling pretty good. Pain wasn’t terrible and I was ready to take on anything.
I started to feel some pain again on Wednesday night, but nothing serious, so I wasn’t too concerned. Light was beginning to become irritating again though.
Thursday morning I woke up and it seemed like everything had taken a 360 turn. The eye was very red, light was impossible in any format to not feel pain, and the pain was pretty great. I drove to Thanksgiving dinner at my parents with sunglasses on and an attempt at cupping my eye from extra light as much as possible. It was a struggle and looking back, probably something I shouldn’t have done.
I didn’t eat much at Thanksgiving dinner and excused myself early to go lay down and sleep with an ice pack over my eye to try and give me some extra comfort. Resting and sleep felt good, so I drove home that night to give my eye even more rest. And on the way home, I called Infinity Eye Care at Spooky Nook to see if they had a last minute appointment that could get me some answers and relief.
Friday morning, I made it about 2 hours at work and went into the eye doctor for an appointment to find out what was happening. A HUGE thanks to Marissa for driving me to my appointment. Megan Tirburtini and her staff at Infinity Eye Care were SO amazing, kind, and compassionate with what I was going through so if you ever need an eye doctor, go there! I can’t wait to go back and get an official eye exam because Lord knows I’m due for one!
Megan took a few, thorough looks at my eye and was nervous not 100% sure what was in there bothering me. She called around to a few other specialists (in regards to possible culturing with what was in my eye) and she ultimately told me to go the Hershey Medical Emergency Room for a final diagnosis.
So, on to the Emergency Room I went…my first time ever. And many thanks to Mama Welliver for driving me there. After arriving around 12:30pm, answering all the pre-COVID screening questions and defining my emergency as an unknown eye issue causing pain, I took a seat in the waiting room.
The nurse called me back around 30 minutes later to triage me and take my vitals. I had some fun with them since I was trying to lighten the mood and just made sure to share my appreciation for all that they were doing because it is apparent they are exhausted with all that is happening in the world.
And more waiting.
Waiting in a mask with incredible eye pain that was even more irritated due to the light and causing my eyes to tear and nose to run was quite the experience.
Also, I have to say that some of the things I saw in the ER were unbelieveable. I saw human attitudes so poor toward the medical staff and front desk staff that made my heart sink. The season of thankfulness and it seemed that no one was feeling that way.
And these poor medical staff are doing all that they possibly can for everyone…and are exhausted. I can’t even imagine.
Also, total side note–I can’t begin to thank everyone for all of their love, support, texts, and messages while I was waiting to be diagnosed. Waiting in an ER alone (since my mom was not able to come in with me) was a whole new level of anxiety, especially with it being my first time in one.
Around 6:30, I was called back to finally be seen by a doctor. I failed the eye visual test as I could read nothing because my vision was so blurry in the right eye. It was actually embarrassing.
The doctor looked at my eye and mentioned that it appeared I had an ulcer. I also had some fun with him too because it seemed like a stressful environment he was experiencing. I was trying to spread some of that Mr. Sunshine sparkle and joy.
After he looked at my eye several times and poking and prodding, he decided to call the Ophthalmologist on call to come take a look. I was giving all the medical staff a run for their money.
My eyes are apparnetly just THAT beautiful.
After about 20 minutes, Dr. Grant Carlisle entered the room to take a look at my eyes to make the final diagnosis with a treatment plan.
My eye was swabbed 8 different times to be cultured for bacteria and would you believe that I didn’t blink at all while that happened?!
That’s right. Impressive. Dr. Carlisle was impressed too.
He made the final diagnosis that there was a pretty hefty sized ulcer in my eye directly on my pupil–something that he had not seen before.
He gave me two eye drops for treatment that would have to be put in about 14 times a day and mentioned that there would be several follow up appointments to make sure the ulcer was shrinking.
He also mentioned the first couple days of treatment would be painful. And he wasn’t kidding.
Around 8pm, I was officially discharged with paperwork–about 8 hours after I first had stepped foot in the door.
A HUGE thank you to the entire staff at Hershey Medical for their time, attention, and patience for all that they do. I can’t imagine working long hours day in and day out while dealing with cases of medical traumas constantly with little or no break.
God bless them.
Also, HUGE thanks to my Mama Welliver for waiting in the car out in the parking lot during this whole ordeal and driving me home to their house where Marissa met us to drive me home to Lancaster.
I cried on the way home because I had never been in so much pain before. If I could describe it, I would say that it felt like a knife had been put through my eye. I was wishing that it could just fall out because it was so bad.
I got home to find a cute note with some hot chocolate from a special and handsome friend, Ethan that was a welcome sight after what had been a very draining day.
Needless to say, I’m finally on the mend, my pain is going down a little bit each day, and I’m extremely thankful for my health, the healthcare workers, and everyone who helped me throughout this first-time ordeal of being in the ER.
Also special shout outs to Pastor Angie for dropping off some Dunkin’ coffee and pastorly joy on Saturday, Marissa for spending some time with me on Saturday evening while we ate frozen pizza and watched The Amazing Race, Abby for driving me to my parents’ house on Sunday and buying me my first Peppermint Mocha of the season, and to my dad gor driving me to Hershey for my follow-up appointment with Dr. Carlisle. Also huge thanks to Tim Rohrer at McElroy’s Pharmacy for helping secure the final third eye drop of my treatment.
This was definitely a traumatic experience for me to say the least and I don’t wish the pain I felt on anyone in this world.
I’m not always someone that takes my health seriously, but this has been a game changer for me espeically because all the doctors that I saw were thrown for a loop by never seeing an ulcer direct on the pupil in someone’s eye.
I guess they also got a first this year with me as their patient.
So, the moral of the story is to be thankful and grateful for the things you have in your life and to NEVER, EVER take anything for granted.
…Oh and…I’ll no longer being doing contacts, so I’m going to be a four eyes.
In case you needed to know, it is 32 days until Christmas…
And if that wasn’t crazy enough…Thanksgiving is THIS WEEK!
Like, how is that even possible?!
I literally can’t handle it.
As we all grasp with the reality that our Thanksgiving holiday celebrations will look different this year, it is impossible for me to not take a few moments to step back and look at the many blessings that I am extremely thankful and grateful for in my life.
As dictionary.com defines it, the word thankful is described as “feeling or expressing gratitude; appreciative.”
And in my life, I believe gratefulness is priceless.
And while I take the next couple of moments to share with you just a few of the things I’m thankful and grateful for in my life, I encourage you all to do the same.
Some of what I’m about to write in regards to things I’m thankful and grateful for are entities that I’ve shared previously in other blog posts; however, they are such important aspects of my life that I can’t emphasize enough with another share to you all.
I’m thankful and grateful for all of the essential and frontline workers that are fighting the pandemic and working exhausting hours day in and day out to fight what and navigate the waters of what this world is going through.
I’m thankful and grateful for my parents. I’m thankful for them having the courage to sit down and talk with me about my sexuality even though it was an uncomfortable territory at first. I’m thankful for your patience, understanding, and compassion that you have shown me every step of the way and continue to do each day…even throughout a pandemic. Without your guidance, I would not be the man I am today. I would be lost in this world of negativity, hate, and pain if it wasn’t for the constant love that you have used from your souls to raise me on the principles of love and kindness for everyone regardless of religion, social status, ethnicity, politics affiliation, or sexuality. I hope I continue to make you proud as I grow through the years ahead on the paths that await.
Secondly, I want to thank my brother. While you might not have been the most loving sibling to me during our time growing up, I truly wouldn’t want to have it any other way. Even though we may still have fighting battles of words and wit every now and then, you are someone that I look up to and truly admire. You are extremely hard working and I have thoroughly enjoyed watching you mature into a loving husband to Mindy. You may have the brain of smarts, but I have the brain of good fashion sense. Ha!
I’m thankful and grateful for my sister-in-law, Mindy. Mindy–you have brought even more grace, love, and support to our family and we could never thank you enough for that. I have been able to witness you as a hardworking mom who wants to give her family all the best no matter what the cost and that melts my heart. I know you’ve been through some very tough times that have rocked your emotions over the years and seeing how you have come out of those trials even stronger is such beautiful a thing.
I’m thankful and grateful for my niece, Mackenzie. She has brought a whole new level of smiles and innocence to my life that I adore like no other. I can’t wait to continue watching her grow up even though I wish time would slow down! I also can’t wait for all the selfies that await.
I’m thankful and grateful for all of my Singing Lions from my time at Penn State. I’ve said this before, but if I was not a part of your group…your family, I would have left. Thank you for offering an environment where everyone could be themselves without judgment. I truly value the friendships that I have created with you and those friendships are responsible for getting me through some of the toughest moments of my 4 year college life at University Park.
I’m thankful and grateful for my coworkers (at both the full time and part time locations) whom I get the pleasure of being around on the daily. Well, technically, we have not been around each other in person much this year, but the virtual time I’ve had with you has been quite special as well. Thank you for supporting me even through my moments of mistakes and failures. All of you bring so much to the table and have helped me grow emotionally and professionally. I only hope that we continue to push each other in our future growth paths together in making the lives of those we help day in and day out a bit better.
I’m thankful and grateful for all the incredible friends who have supported me throughout my life in different capacities. It doesn’t matter if our paths have crossed for a hot second (literally) in the past, have crossed paths in the present, or will cross paths in the future…each of those moments (or future moments yet to happen) is incredibly special in the evolution of Mr. Sunshine as a human being.
I’m thankful and grateful for Missy, Elyse, and Marissa who had the ability to put up with me for many years during our living arrangements…and what fun we had together! Even during these challenging times, we’ve still managed to find moments to laugh together and have fun. I’m incredibly glad and grateful our paths crossed in this lifetime and that we stay in contact. I also love that we can look back on all the memories we created and laugh hysterically until it hurts. I love that we can use other to vent, offer advice, guidance, or talk about boys. You are definitely three special ladies to me personally even if I don’t always acknowledge it.
I’m thankful and grateful for Abby. She is always so kind and generous to me even in moments when I’m drained and exhausted. I love that we have been able to grow closer over the past couple of years and I know our friendship will grow more and more with each passing year—and even during a pandemic we’ve been able to continue that friendship. Thank you for always offering me advice and kind words at the times when I need to hear them most. Truly a beautiful soul.
I’m thankful and grateful for Ephrata Performing Arts Center and all those I’ve met and had the pleasure of working with over the years. It is so special to me that I have access to a theater so close to home where the feeling of those around you is family. It is a safe place where I can be myself and find joy in the smiles I see on the faces of audience members when under the lights to perform. So many wonderful memories and moments have been created in that space and I know there are more to come. I can’t wait.
I’m thankful and grateful for Hank Angus and those from the Hope Express family that believed in me and helped me to uncover the definition of “being worthy” and keeping my passion with finding a cure for pediatric cancer alive. The kindness and generosity of everyone involved with this organization is immeasurable and I only pray that I can continue to strive and make a difference each day with sharing love and hope with everyone around me and igniting a fire within them to make positive change.
I’m thankful and grateful for the late Pat Kautter who was a true pioneer in the theater world. I was thankful to work with her on a few different shows in multiple capacities at the Ephrata Performing Arts Center. She was always the “theater mom” who encouraged me not to give up, be true to my identity, and give each moment 110%…even if it meant smiling as I tried to fake tap dance!
I’m thankful and grateful for my Grandma Neidermyer who left us back in 2006. More than a decade later, it still feels like yesterday when I was huddled around the bed witnessing your last breaths on this earth with all of the family crying tears of pain. I wasn’t ready for you to leave. Your gentle smile is one that is imprinted in my mind and your presence is one I feel from above, especially in moments when I’m struggling. Each day, I wake up and look at the very last picture we got together at the 2005 high school holiday concert that sits on my dresser. It was such a surprise to see you after the show and the smiles on both of our faces in this image are true joy. A moment I will never forget as long as I live.
I’m thankful and grateful for my personal trainer, Zach Musser. He has helped me stay motivated to better my body and mind physically and mentally. I’ve been seeing him for almost 2 years and I can’t begin to thank him enough for the lifestyle changes that he has helped me create for myself. Even if I give him attitude and sass during our early morning workouts, he never fails to push me harder with his undying encouragement and motivation, especially on those days when I just want to quit.
I’m thankful and grateful for my online health/life coach, Daniel Buckley. I’ve been working with him for about two years now and he has helped me to stay on track with logging my food and making sure that I stick to commitments that ultimately improve the health and longevity of my life. I’m thankful for his weekly check-ins that make me smile and the advice that he has offered me even on non-health related topics. If I ever get to Nashville, we ARE meeting up for a run!
I’m thankful and grateful for my roommate, James Oblak. I’m a firm believer in the fact that everything happens for a reason and James is living proof of that. While this pandemic has uprooted his career in NYC, he found his way to Lancaster and the rest is history. I will be the first to admit that even Mr. Sunshine has struggled amid all the “stuff” happening in our world and the negative entities that are thrown to us on the daily. These times have certainly been challenging and having another individual around me in my living quarters has been a blessing in a disguise. Sometimes, I can forget how important human connection truly is and having the ability to talk (or even not talk) with someone at the end of the day has been so rewarding and helpful for my mental health. I look forward to many more evenings of watching Schitt’s Creek, American Horror Story, The Golden Girls, or whatever else suits our fancy. I also can’t for the next episode of Coffee Talk With James Oblak. You are the best and I hope your stay (and continued stay) at Sunshine Cottage has been worth every minute!
I thankful and grateful for all the jocks and straight boys who got a kick out of making fun of me during the years of my childhood. Because of you, I learned to grow thick skin and realize that I shouldn’t give TWO HOOTS about what others think about me or my sexuality. And even though there are moments (mind you in today’s society…the 21ST CENTURY), that I still get stared at or name called, I often find it a bit more tolerable for me to move on and ignore it because of the harsh words that you threw at me growing up. I want to thank all the guys in my life that have decided that it is better to not tell me the truth up front. Damn it. Just be honest. Don’t tell me that “you are not gay” to only have me find out that you actually are and have a boyfriend. Also, don’t just stop responding if I reach out to you. Like, damn it. Just say “I’m not interested” and be HONEST. Ugh. These are the moments that happen in my life where I find it so hard to trust guys, which continues (and probably always will be) a struggle for me. And while dating is not a priority for me at the present time, these moments are what make it so hard for me to get over the tarnished view of gay men that has been painted in my mind.
I’m thankful and grateful for Pastor Angie and my church family. Pastor Angie has heard it all already from me in the short time I’ve known her and she always has special guidance and wisdom to offer…and a cup of coffee too! She has been thrown quite the task of leading our faith community during such a challenging time and she done more than any of us would have ever expected. While we haven’t been able to gather in person as often as we would’ve liked during this time, she has supported us and gotten us to gather virtually through word, sacrament, and fellowship. I miss my choir so much. I miss being able to sing with my church family. I hope and pray for the day when we can all do that once again.
I’m thankful and grateful for my Tampa coworker, colleague, and friend, Harrison. Time and time again, he has made me laugh with his exceptional wit and sense of humor through video chat while also being able to talk me through my reactive emotions when I’m dealing with tough customers. He has a way with words and has helped me balance of some aspects of the DiSC scale that I’m pretty lackluster with. He deserves an award. If you ever get up here to Lancaster for an in-person visit, I will buy you a cup of Passenger coffee.
I’m thankful and grateful for all my blog post supporters who continue to come back week after week. I have thoroughly enjoyed writing content for you all over these past 2 years and I couldn’t be more humbled by your support, love, and kindness.
I want to thank my bestie, DMH. I know that I’ve said it many times before, but I’m so thankful that you were brought into my life a mere 6 years ago through what is one of the worst phone apps to this day. Our friendship has only gotten stronger since that time. You are one individual that I trust completely, which is hard for me to do these days because of the past I have experienced. Thank you for being a constant in my life amongst a world of change. Thank you for adding extra letters in your texts, never getting mad if I’m having reactive moments of emotion over aspects of my life, allowing me to word vomit in car travels to scary movies, not judging me for wanting to sing Josh Groban’s “Evermore” at the top of my lungs, knowing that sometimes all I need is a night of rummy playing to recharge, and for always being able to bring a smile to my face no matter what the situation. These are priceless things that I cherish greatly (more than you can ever imagine). For these many moments, I will never be able to repay you. I can only hope (well I don’t hope because I know for a fact) that our friendship will only continue to grow stronger as we grow older. . I’m very, very, VERY lucky to know you and have you by my side as a bestie. In today’s society, I think it is extremely important and necessary, especially in the gay community, to have a best friend that involves a platonic relationship. I think it is vital for both personal well being and emotional growth. We share something special and I hope that everyone in the world is jealous of it…because you know what…they should be–what we share as besties is not something many people have in this world. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the memories thus far and for the memories that I know are yet to come. While I know this year has been quite different in terms of how often I’ve had to opportunity to see you and hang out, I hope you realize how much of a special individual you are to me and how vital of a role you play in Mr. Sunshine’s daily grind.
I’m thankful and grateful for everyone in life that has been able to look past the walls of judgment our society has built up to realize that I, along with my fellow LGBT brothers and sisters, are human beings full of love to give. We are no different than you. Just because we love someone of the same sex doesn’t mean that we should be called inappropriate names, stared at constantly, or judged because we want to be happy. Quite frankly, I’ve been called the word ‘faggot’ enough in my life. I want anyone in the world who is struggling with their sexuality to know that it will be OK. I know that it can be scary territory to navigate, but I assure you that you are NEVER ALONE. There will always be people around to wrap warmth and support around you in the moments of extreme darkness when you want to give up.
This coming week as we all continue to look toward the celebration of Thanksgiving, let us take a few moments to reflect on the many blessings that we are both thankful and grateful for in our lives.
Well, another happy Monday to each and every one of you.
Did you know that it is only 39 days until Christmas??
That makes me just about pee my pants.
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to take a little respite from the daily life of Mr. Sunshine to travel to Wellsboro for some sightseeing at the PA Grand Canyon with my good friend, Abby.
Despite the numerous gravel paths that had to be traveled upon, I must say that the views offered to us were spectacular and jaw drop worthy.
The beauty was glorious. The feelings of peace and relaxation were priceless.
And the hosts we got to meet for our “home cabin stay” were perfect, friendly, outgoing, and every adjective in between.
So, if you’ve never had the opportunity to experience the views of the PA Grand Canyon, I highly recommend it.
…I HIGHLY recommend it.
Anyway, I digress.
It’s time to grab your favorite Starbucks holiday drink (mine is the Peppermint Mocha) and to cuddle up with your blanket in a cozy position as we get down to business with the latest and greatest from Mr. Sunshine!
Are you all situated?
Well, great! Because we are OFF!
As the days continue to carry on, I continue to struggle with so much about the world around us. I continue to be nervous and scared about the rising cases of COVID-19, I continue to feel for all the people the disease has affected–those whose have passed, those currently fighting it, and all the healthcare workers, essential workers, and frontline entities who are continuing to press forward and exhaust themselves as they try to keep everything under control.
I continue to struggle with my focus, especially about the holidays.
And if the struggle of focus wasn’t enough, I get anxiety when I turn around and look and see yet another person decorating for the Christmas holiday even earlier than the year before.
Disclaimer: I did start listening to Christmas music already AND also did some very minor decorating at Sunshine Cottage.
I caved. The stress of seeing others do it got the best of me. Mmmbyeee.
I will say that I’m still looking at getting both an artificial tree and some wreaths to complete the Christmas holiday at Sunshine Cottage for which I have never officially decorated in the 4 years I’ve lived on the street of fruit.
So, if you have any suggestions or recommendations in regards to artificial trees, wreaths, or any other fun & festive holiday decor, send it my way!
Getting in the holiday spirit has definitely been (and will continue to be) a challenge for me; however, here are three things that helped me to find that extra spark of seasonal joy this past week when I needed it most.
#1: Carrie Underwood and John Legend’s “Hallelujah” song from her new Christmas album. The melody is so incredibly beautiful and the lyrics really hit home. As I’ve sat here writing this post for you, I’ve listened to it about 20 times and the ability that it has to extract feelings of such raw, real emotion from my heart is just incredible. Do yourself a favor and take just 4 minutes to listen.
#2: Watching Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey on Netflix. I kept being blasted with ads about in on social media and each time I logged on to my Netflix account, it kept being shown as a “Top Pick For JP” so I thought it would be worth giving it a whirl. And it was worth every minute. I loved the storyline, the songs, the dancing, the casting, and the costumes. It was fabulous and just like the PA Grand Canyon, I HIGHLY recommend it. And here’s a trailer to get your curiosity peaked even more.
#3: Reading The Polar Express. I’m also a huge fan of the movie (it is one of my favorites to watch during the holiday season), but the book is equally as special and reminds us all that we must BELIEVE in the magic.
Well, there you have it folks. I hope that some of these entities that I’ve shared with you in this post will help you find some of the seasonal spark and joy that we could all use some more of right now in our lives.
Yet another Monday of 2020 has decided to poke its head out at us again.
Can you believe that we will be celebrating Thanksgiving in just about two weeks and that Christmas will be shortly behind that?
Anyone else having trouble focusing on Christmas gift shopping or anything that is Christmas related? Because I’m struggling SO much.
What a week it has been. It was one full of many emotions and I felt like I was riding a roller coaster going up, down, around, and all the directions you could possibly imagine. I had trouble sleeping, I was anxious all hours of the day, I had trouble focusing on my work, and I was glued to both the TV and phone checking constant updates about the election and the ballot counting in all the battleground states.
I’m sure I’m not the only one that was on this roller coaster ride.
And today, as Monday pokes it head out at us, we are greeted with breaking news that has changed history.
But politics is not the point of this week’s post and is not something that I normally like to engage about during conversation.
This week’s post isn’t about whether you are a Republican, Democrat, or whether your candidate won or lost.
If you are celebrating, I see you and I love you.
If you are grieving, I see you and I love you.
If you are angry, I see you and I love you.
I will be the first to admit that the world is broken. It is a scary place. It is polarized so much that it seems virtually impossible for anyone to meet in the middle about any topic no matter how complicated or simple it might be.
So, regardless of how you are feeling because of the results from this election, please don’t forget that love and kindness are always in season.
And please don’t forget that they are the fundamental elements that will help us to get through the tough times as we start to heal our broken world…
…And we will do that TOGETHER regardless of our skin color, religion, political affiliation, sexual orientation, social class status, or whatever other entity in between.
Whether you disagree or agree with someone, please do not forget love and kindness.
There are just two more months left until I embark on one of my biggest fundraising projects to date in my 33 years of life on this Earth. And while I have a renewed energy from the happenings of this past week, I know that some of my friends who might not be feeling that same way.
But I will continue to spread love and kindness to ALL each day that I live.
And I will continue to see you and love you no matter what.
My purpose on this Earth is to embody the entities of love and kindness regardless of who is in The White House.
So, please don’t forget love and kindness are always in season.
Well, hey there folks! A happiest of Mondays to you!
Is anyone else floored by the fact that it is officially November?!
That means that Christmas is like…
That means I need to start my shopping now.
LAnyway, on to the actual nitty gritty for this week’s post.
I’m not going to lie, but the last couple of weeks have been really hard for me. I’ve struggled to focus on projects that need my attention (mostly the Christmas Eve service at church), but couple this feeling with the entities of fear, anxiety, and uncertainty and you have the classic feels that I would bet some of you have felt at some point or another during 2020.
In times like these, it is really hard for me to find hope.
Mr. Sunshine even has moments of not always being able to see the hope.
But in the past week, there have been three distinct moments and entities that I used to find that hope that was so desperately missing.
HOPEful Moment #1: -Watching the movie Clouds on Disney+. It was a movie I had not heard about previously and when it came on the list of movies I would probably enjoy, I figured there was nothing to lose. I don’t want to give away any of the important plot details; however, I will tell you two things…the plot really resonates with fundraising efforts that I’ve participated in during the past AND I cried…more than once. And we all know that there is nothing like having a good cry during a movie. It makes us human and sometimes there is nothing better than shedding a few tears at the tube.
HOPEful Moment #2: -Alicia Key’s new song, called “Good Job.” I heard this song for the first time during my weekly dance fitness class I participate in called Oula (thank you, Jen) and I immediately fell in love with it. Oh, and by the way, you owe yourself a favor to check out Oula. The class is SO fun and I highly reccomend it. By definition, Oula “combines the depth and soulfulness of a mind-body practice with the carefree playfulness of a living room dance party. By integrating the mind, body and heart, our focus is on full being health and wellness in a fun and community-centered atmosphere.” And the music choices are empowering, freeing, and fun. This song brings out so many real emotions within my soul, especially with all that the world is going through. This song helps me center back to the fact that there is good happening in the world if we would just allow ourselves to see it. Take some time to listen and share with someone who you know needs the lyrics to feel inspired.
HOPEful Moment #3: -The last moment I experienced this week came from a place where I usually don’t find hope, but it proved me wrong. All the articles and details about the results with people getting out and voting early made me smile. And I can only pray that same feeling of hope carries through Tuesday when our Country makes a very big decision in regards to the leadership that we will have at The White House for the next 4 years.
As I sit here writing this for you, I would be lying if I said that I don’t still have some feelings of fear and uncertainty. Every. Single. Day.
But just as these three moments in my life from the past week provided me hope to sustain and get me through the week, I hope and pray that they will also bring you that same energy of hope I got to experience.
And I hope that those feelings of hope will continue on each day you live and that the next time you encounter someone in life struggling, that you will be that source of hope that is much needed by all individuals right now in this world.
And on this Monday, we are officially CELEBRATING 100 blog posts!
How exciting that I’ve officially hit 100 posts since this endeavor began back on August 28, 2018!
I can’t thank each and every one of you enough for your continued support, love, kindness, and for also coming back week after week to relish in the sunshine that I work so hard to try and keep alive in this world. It means the world to me.
So, thank you from the bottom of my heart for joining me on this journey and for continuing to walk with me as I continue navigating a path of sunshine, love, and kindness.
We continue to go through each day of our lives in what seems to be a never-ending dark world filled with opinions and polarization between people over an upcoming election, COVID-19, religion, politics, and just about every other topic in between that you can think of.
It still can be disheartening somedays.
And that is why for this week’s 100th blog post, I’m going for FUN and SMILES!
And the best way to do that is with fun facts about the one and only!
I know that several previous blog posts have involved these things I like to call rapid fire fun facts, but I promise by the end, you will hopefully be smiling from ear to ear and escaping from the dark world of uncertainty around you for just a few minutes.
So, grab your cheesecake, favorite beverage, and keep your arms and legs inside the car at all times because here we go…it could be a bumpy ride!
And before I forget, make sure you go over to both my Facebook page and Instagram (@mrsunshine827) to participate in the GIVEAWAY that is happening to celebrate 100 posts! There are four $25 Visa gift cards up for grabs! To find out how to enter, you must check out my Instagram/Facebook!
Okay, it’s time to start. And…inhale…exhale…
…Buckle up because HERE WE GO!
100. When I used to play Monopoly growing up, I always, ALWAYS wanted to buy the purple properties (Baltic and Mediterranean Avenue) because they only cost $60 each, which made it easy to build up the houses and hotels on them quickly to make those playing against me go bankrupt. Really Mr. Sunshine-esque isn’t it? Ha. Game of monopoly anyone?? You know how to reach me.
99. As I sit here writing this currently, I’m watching Shark Tank on Hulu, which I am mildly obsessed with. Seriously. LOVE that show.
98. Speaking of Shark Tank, I have a few clients who have pitched their ideas and have even gotten deals with the sharks!
97. My favorite color Sour Patch Kid to eat is blue.
96. My favorite type of fruit snacks to eat are the Welch’s mixed fruit ones that come in the blue box.
95. Earlier this year, right before Covid shut everything down, I threw out ALL of my CD’s that I had collected from over the years, which ended up being over 200 of them!
94. My favorite Real Housewives to watch on Bravo are the Orange County ones.
93. One of my first experiences on the stage was playing a character named Prof in an elementary school production that was called The Granny Awards.
92. Growing up when I was taking the bus to school, all I wanted to do was become a school bus driver because I was so obsessed with how the driver would push the buttons on the control panel to make the lights flash yellow and red.
91. My favorite game that is played on the Price is Right is Plinko.
90. I just submitted what I believe is my 5th audition video and application to Wheel of Fortune to be a contestant. Let’s hope it works out this time!
89. My very first car that I drove was a red, Chevrolet Prism.
88. When I help decorate the Christmas tree at my parents’ house, I become a little bit of Martha Stewart and get super particular with how the garland is placed on the tree. It has to be perfect.
87. I call it garland and not tinsel. Come at me. Just like I call it soda and not pop.
86. A favorite childhood memory that I have growing up is having sleepovers at my grandma’s house at her cottage in United Zion and watching the Food Network.
85. Speaking of the food network, one of my favorite shows to watch was something called Ready, Set, Cook! I don’t think it exists anymore and that makes me sad.
84. I used to be OBSESSED with buying colored flip flops from Old Navy that matched my polo shirts. Needless to say, I grew out of that phase.
83. The current candle scent that is burning in my living room right now is called Cobblestone Paths. It is a Pennsylvania Soy candle from Divine Consign in Manheim. You should go there to explore all the scents. Just saying.
82. I’m terrible at wrapping gifts, so if you are lucky enough to ever get a gift from me actually wrapped and not in tissue paper or a bag, well then you should play the lottery because you are one of the lucky ones!
81. One of my favorite classic game reboots that ABC has brought back recently is Press Your Luck with Elizabeth Banks. It has the same energy and excitement that I remember from the original 80’s version.
80. My favorite blanket to sleep with at night is one that my good friend, Liz (my Penn State twinny) gave to me as a morale gift right before leaving on one of my running treks for The Hope Express.
79. Speaking of Express, I love buying underwear from Express is all colors.
78. My favorite actor portrayal of Santa Claus is Ed Asner in Elf.
77. I no longer get 6 cream and 6 sugar in my coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts. And if you must know, my order now comes out as “vanilla coffee with cream.” Believe it.
76. The current body lotion that I’m using is called Bourbon by Bath & Body Works.
75. As an adult, my sweets preferences have changed and I now like dark chocolate more than milk chocolate.
74. At Easter time, my favorite candy to get is Cadbury Creme Eggs. I love nothing more than eating the center of gooey sweetness! I also love that their commercials still haven’t changed in forever.
73. I don’t separate colors when I do wash. I throw everything in together.
72. My favorite Tootsie Pop flavor is grape.
71. Speaking of Tootsie Pops, it confuses me greatly that the grape packaging looks more like blue than purple. Does anyone else ever think this thought???
70. I don’t own a rake, which means Fall is a great season for landscaping at Sunshine Cottage.
69. My favorite day at the gym is leg day. Literally, LOVE legs.
68. While I love The Golden Girls, my favorite TV show theme song is the one from The Brady Bunch.
67. My favorite title in the Harry Potter series is Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire.
66. My favorite version of “O Holy Night” is the one that is sung by Celine Dion.
65. Speaking of Christmas songs, my least favorite is “Last Christmas.”
64. No matter how many times I’ve seen the series finale of The Golden Girls, I still cry.
63. The below video is one that I’ve been watching over and over again for the past two weeks and I can’t get enough of it.
62. One vivid memory I have from college was going to West Commons and getting half-baked chocolate chip cookies right out of the oven with soft serve vanilla ice cream. There was always a sweet lady that would greet us with a smile and we always called her “The Cookie Lady.”
61. One of the reasons I’m so terrified of clowns is because during elementary school, I was walking through the halls and one jumped out at me from a doorway and it scared me so badly. I think I even peed myself a little. TMI? Oh well…mmmbyeee.
60. My favorite restaurant chain to get pizza from is Domino’s, but I like the breadsticks from Pizza Hut better.
59. I’ve started putting protein powder in my morning yogurt and it is the worst. The WORST.
58. I like Kraft Cheese Nips much better than Cheez Its, but I can’t find Cheese Nips in stores anymore. And it makes me really sad. If you find some, please send them my way.
57. Some of the skinny jeans I own are so tight that I have to do a little wiggle and dance to get them on in the morning.
56. The scene of Monsters, Inc where Boo gets scared by Sully breaks my heart and makes me cry every time I watch it.
55. Speaking of crying, I’m extremely sensitive and everything makes me cry. And if I see someone crying, I start to cry. It’s just like yawning.
54. Elmo is my favorite character on Sesame Street.
53. One of my favorite moments from high school was during my senior year after the annual Christmas concert. My parents surprised me by bringing my Grandma to see me perform and it brought the biggest smile to my face. The picture we got was the last one we got together before she passed away and it is one that I keep on my dresser.
52. I don’t use fabric softener when I do laundry, but I do use Downy Unstopables.
51. I was a Boy Scout growing up and I only made it to Life Scout, which was one step below the highest rank of Eagle Scout.
50. I’ve never been stung by a jellyfish.
49. I just had to look up jellyfish to see if it was one word or two words.
48. I just watched the movie Hocus Pocus for the first time this past Friday.
47. I’ve seen Carrie Underwood in concert 4 times and Katy Perry in concert two times.
46. I usually do lots of Christmas shopping on Black Friday, but end up buying more for myself than others. Oops. Maybe this year will be different.
45. As a child, I had Lion King flannel sheets that I absolutely loved.
44. Spearmint gum is my favorite no matter what brand.
43. The song “Defying Gravity” is one that left me speechless both times that I saw Wicked on Broadway.
42. During freshman year of high school, there was a huge food fight and I couldn’t get under the table quick enough so I ended up with tuna salad and chocolate milk on my shirt.
41. I used to love watching the soap opera Passionson NBC. Their storylines were crazy and out there, but it was so addicting.
40. “Firework” by Katy Perry is still my favorite song to jam out to, especially if I need to get myself out of a funk.
39. This scene from Zootopia kills me me with laughter and cracks me up. If you ever need a laugh, just watch this. It is hilarious.
38. When I can’t sleep at night, sometimes I search YouTube for game show or TV news bloopers. They are the best. Try it. You won’t regret it. Here’s one of my favorites that had me laughing hysterically last night on my bed (the best one starts at 4:09 and runs for about 2 minutes):
37. I was a huge fan of Glee when it was on TV and to this very day, one of my favorite covers of a song they did is “Don’t Stop Believing.”
36. Going off of that, one of my favorite original songs from Glee is “Loser Like Me.” Look it up and jam out to it. It is so fun.
35. If I had the opportunity to do a musical again that I already participated in, it would be a five-way tie between Spamalot, Hairspray, Ragtime, Legally Blonde, and Peter and the Starcatcher.
34. If there is one musical that I have not had the opportunity to do that I would love to be a part of, it would be Mamma Mia!
33. I just celebrated my 4th year living at Sunshine Cottage in Lancaster.
32. The wallflower scent that is currently in my bedroom is called Ocean Waves and it smells DIVINE.
31. I have an almost perfect credit score and I would like to keep it that way.
30. I love macaroni and cheese, but only with cheese sauce. I can’t do powder. Yuck!
29. Prior to all this COVID-19 crisis, I had tickets to see Frozen on Broadway with my bestie and my heart breaks that I will never be able to see that since it closed and will not reopen when Broadway comes back to life after this dark time.
28. One of my favorite jams to pump me up for a run or workout at the gym is Katy Perry’s “Roar.”
27. I am a fan of a good power ballad to belt out and this is one of my favorites to watch and sing to. Celine Dion is also my favorite, power vocal diva (and also the classiest).
26. Speaking of this song, anytime I watch the movie Titanic, I have nightmares that I was on the boat with my family.
25. At Hollywood Casino, my favorite slot machine to play is one that is a penny machine and involves mermaids. It is so fun and I can spend hours sitting there without moving. Well, not hours, actually. The smoke gets to me after about an hour.
24. I just watched this below clip for about the 500,000th time and it cracks me up just as much as it did the first time. Ellen’s laugh is my favorite. You’re welcome.
23. Speaking of Five Second Rule, I bought this game and wanted it to be more like the version Ellen plays on her show, so I bought a buzzer box on Amazon to press similar to the one in the video clip above.
22. I don’t know how to change a flat tire, so if I ever get one, I’ll be calling Triple AAA.
21. My top 3 male celebrity crushes are Zac Efron, Ryan Reynolds, and Matt Bomer.
20. My favorite milkshake flavor at Sonic is hot fudge.
19. One of my favorite college professors at Penn State was Dr. Barbara Wade who taught CAS 100A, which was a Public Speaking class. At the end of the semester, she gave a few students books and the one she gave me was a Tony Bennett book, which I still have on my coffee table in the living room. She was an AWESOME professor.
18. The top thing on my “Things To Do” list that is kept on my Iphone is ‘tattoo ideas.’ This list was made at the beginning of the year and hasn’t changed since that original creation. A tattoo was something I wanted to do in 2020, but Covid kind of messed that up. I still intend to get one, but not sure when that will happen or what exactly it will be.
17. I have never seen the movie Miracle on 34th Street.
16. I haven’t played the organ for a church service since the beginning of Covid in March. I can’t wait to play it again once we have some in person worship services.
15. I really struggle wearing sweatpants. In fact, I had them on to start my work day on Saturday and didn’t even make it an hour before changing into skinny jeans. Like, I can’t do it.
14. I still do not like using a dishwasher. Handwashing is always first choice for me, especially with a farmhouse sink.
13. I love getting appetizers from restaurant menus as my actual meal/entrée.
12. I’m sitting on the couch writing this and drinking chocolate milk with some 100 proof peppermint schnapps in it that I’ve had for about 5+ years…maybe longer. True story.
11. I prefer Charmin toilet paper over Kleenex Cottonelle. Don’t ask me why. I just do. I’m a brand snob I guess you could say.
10. In the 4 years that I’ve lived at Sunshine Cottage, I have yet to decorate for Christmas with a tree–real or fake.
9. I’ve used Stitch Fix clothing boxes for the past 3 years and in those 3 years, I’ve had the same stylist named Brooke and have never returned any items I’ve received and there have been hundreds. Well played, Brooke.
8. The two women celebrities that I look up to as role models for my Mr. Sunshine personality are Ellen DeGeneres and Betty White.
7. I don’t like cheese on sandwiches unless it is melted.
6. Don’t ask me to ride a ferris wheel or airplane unless you have a Xanax to give me.
5. I’ve never understood why dentists will ask you questions that require answering when they have instruments in your mouth (that is wide open mind you) and prevents you from being able to answer.
4. As we come closer to Halloween (which is a holiday that I’m not a fan of), I have to say my favorite costumes from the past is a tie between Tim Gunn from Project Runway and Bob The Builder.
3. One of my favorite Super Bowl halftime shows was the one done by Katy Perry. 13 minutes of all her catchy tunes complete with pyrotechnics, dancing, bright colors, costume changes, and dancing sharks. And of course, my favorite moment was at the very end when she sang “Firework.”
2. I loved the episode of Saturday Night Live when Betty White hosted (because she was brilliant and didn’t miss a beat), but my favorite two skits from that episode were these:
It’s here…rapid fire fun fact #1! Are you ready?!
Can I get a drum roll?!
1. 2021 is going to be my BIGGEST year yet with the release and start of my newest mission and project that will be aimed at trying to spread some of the much-needed sunshine, positive energy, love, and kindness that this world so desperately needs right now. I hope you are as EXCITED as I am!
Well, there you have it.
100 rapid fire fun facts about yours truly, Mr. Sunshine. I hope that some of these got you smiling from ear to ear and brought you some joy to help you get through your day.
And please don’t forget to head over to my Facebook page and Instagram (@mrsunshine827) to follow the steps to enter the giveaway because we are CELEBRATING 100!
So, cheers to 100 posts and to hopefully 100 more!
Thankful for all of YOU who have given me constant support and for coming back week after week to join me on this journey.
Welcome to blog post #99 here at mrsunshinesmiles.com! How crazy is that?! This endeavor started back in 2018 and it is crazy to think that we’ve hit almost 100 posts!
Before we move on to the content of this week’s post, I must take a few moments to say a few words.
Yesterday was National Coming Out Day. A day that is so important to not only me, but so many others.
15 years ago, I lifted a huge weight off my shoulders and came out of the closet. I have no regrets. I don’t look back. Rather, I look forward to a day where I won’t be stared at or judged for liking the same sex. I look forward to many more days of trying to make the most of spreading kindness and showing love to everyone with the Mr. Sunshine nickname I wear proudly.
So, get off your high horse and look at me. Look into my eyes and see that I’m no different than you. Look at me as I wear my colors proudly. And, if you still feel the need to ostracize, seclude, judge, or bully me, I can only hope that you will one day see that me, along with my brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ community, are human beings filled with love in our hearts. And I’ll be damned if anyone is going to stop me from being myself.
For those struggling with their identity, please know there is a community of support and love for your true, authentic self. Take time to find it. Be kind to yourself. And reach out if you are struggling because there is a family of support to raise you up, lend you a shoulder, and give you a warm embrace. There are challenges and struggles, but I promise you there is love at the end of each one. I’ve been through the bullying. I’ve been through the struggle. I’ve been through the suicidal thoughts. But don’t give up. Hang on. Find your support system. There is love around you.
Be proud. Be love. Be YOU.
And, if you are reading this right now and need someone to listen or talk to, please do not hesitate to reach out. EVER.
Alright, time to get down to business! This week, I’m taking you on a “virtual” tour of one of my FAVORITE hidden gems in the town of Manheim.
May I have a drum roll, please?!
And that hidden gem is none other than…DIVINE CONSIGN!
This cute, quaint consignment shop is located right by the main square in Manheim and if you have stepped foot inside, you must make plans to do it ASAP!
My brother, Will and his wife, Mindy own the shop and together with their staff, they create a comfortable and enjoyable shopping experience for anyone who drops in.
They have so much to choose from and you will see below through some videos and pictures that I’m not joking!
Further down, I will show you some of the items that I’ve procured from the store over the years.
And…total side note, I definitely dropped about $165.00 just yesterday with a little impromptu trip I had to the store in preparation for this blog.
…Clothes for all people!
…Housewares for your home
…Books to keep you occupied
…Candles (the BEST soy candles) to keep your casa and habitat smelling fresh!
…Cards galore for each and every occasion!
…And so much more!
Here are just a few of the items that I’ve procured over the years! (Not pictured are the multiple items of men’s clothing that my closet is full of also from the racks of this hidden gem.)
Divine Consign literally has anything and everything and everything in between! Their prices are so reasonable and the quality of what you get is perfection.
This pandemic has caused havoc and chaos for a lot of us in this world and sometimes we just need a little break to do some retail therapy.
So, the next time you need to do some retail therapy, take your feet and skip over to Divine Consign.
Will, Mindy, Mackenzie, and the entire staff is ready to greet you with a warm welcome for a safe shopping experience.
Hidden gems are few and far between and the town of Manheim has one that is absolutely beautiful.
Well, here we are celebrating the end to another weekend and the start of yet another week.
And, in case you didn’t know, the tenth month of the year has officially started and Mother Nature has been making herself known to us through the crisp, cool morning breezes and exuberant colors of leaves that have started to change on the branches of trees which surround us every which way we look.
Sometimes, when Mother Nature decides to blow some fierce winds to make the tree branches sway back and forth, I almost feel like I can hear the gentle breeze talking to me.
Anyone else ever experience this?
And as the leaves begin to fall on the very ground that we walk (which by the way, I am NOT a fan of raking leaves), and display their multiple colors, shapes, and sizes swirling around in the fierce winds of Fall (and to give you a visual…I think of the colorful leaves moving through the blustery air during the sequence of “Colors of the Wind” in the Disney movie Pocahontas), I can’t help but think to myself that the world around us–which just so happens to be made up of multiple entities of different shapes, sizes, and colors is continuing to head down a violent path of both darkness and coldness.
An Historic Upcoming Election.
These just happen to be the first couple of entities that came to my mind when writing this blog post; however, the list goes on and on.
And the world continues to feel like it is spiraling out of control toward an abyss of darkness.
But if you are like me, you continue to strive each day to search for answers, guidance, love, support, kindness…and everything in between.
It can be hard some days to find that energy to smile, to put forth a positive energy, to keep the optimism of brightness glowing.
But gosh darn it, I try.
And in the coming year of 2021, I will embark on a journey with my biggest project/undertaking to date that will hopefully give the world just a little bit of the much-needed love, kindness, sunshine, and smiles it needs. I got to meet with a crucial entity that will be a part of my mission in the new year and I can say…without a doubt…150% that I am filled with even more enthusiasm and passion to bring this project to all of you. And the entity that I will be working with is one that I couldn’t be more thrilled about.
I promise you that the reveal on January 4, 2021 will be one that is worth the wait. And it will be something that each and every one of you will be able to participate in…because I will need your support.
Any guesses as to what the project might be?
Well, the only hint you are getting this week is that there are two key words in the title of this week’s blog that may or may not have something to do with it…
So, circle your calendars if you haven’t already for January 4, 2021.
Because until then…my lips are sealed.
Oh, and please register to VOTE if you haven’t already.
And the next time you are out walking amongst the crisp, cool morning breezes and you see the leaves of multiple shapes, sizes, and colors fall in front of you, remember that this world needs YOU to be the light and sunshine.
Well, here we are experiencing yet another Monday of the quarantine months.
And while it doesn’t feel like it, the first day of Fall is officially on Tuesday! That means time for Pumpkin Spice everything.
And by everything…I actually mean…EVERYTHING.
Yes. I pulled out the all caps for that word. To give it the extra emphasis it needed to make my point.
And now that I said Pumpkin Spice and wrote the words, all that I want right now is a PSL in my hand…
So if you want to make me happy and earn extra points with Mr. Sunshine, bring me a PSL…
Time to officially move on to writing about this week’s blog topic.
Do you have your PSL? Your coffee? Your warm morning beverage and sweatshirt to cuddle with as the brisk breeze comes through the open windows?
Well good! Because, here we go!
The term silver lining is defined as the following:
-A sign of hope in an unfortunate or gloomy situation; a bright prospect.
The list goes on and on.
There are so many things in this world around us that cause incredible fear, darkness, and uncertainty–entities that would definitely fall under the “unfortunate or gloomy situation” portion of the silver lining definition listen above that you just read.
I’m not sure how all of you feel, but I know for me there are days when it feels like a silver lining is out of reach–or frankly doesn’t even exist.
And for Mr. Sunshine, that is a heavy statement to write.
This past weekend, I got to be a part of the official installation service for Angela Hammer, who has become the official Pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Penryn.
A monumental moment that hasn’t happened for our faith community in more than a decade–installing an official Pastor.
It was a silver lining.
The silver lining that restored some shine in my soul, light in my life, and faith in humanity.
Since the beginning of March, our faith community has been challenged to find ways to reach out to the surrounding world to uncover needs and to help meet those needs through creative ways of faith, love, kindness, and outreach.
This has been proven through our free food pantry outside the church building, homebuilt libraries at the church and surrounding community areas to encourage reading, discussions about social-challenging topics relevant to our daily lives, outdoor worship services, and multiple facets of educational resources for all ages via Zoom.
While I realize that religion is not everyone’s thing and that the church has gotten a “bad wrap” in the world–I promise you the community of faith at St. Paul Penryn is different.
We welcome ALL. We support ALL. And we find ways to meet the needs and be a beacon of hope to anyone regardless of their skin color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or social status.
We are a safe place.
A silver liningfor those who may have lost their faith in the church.
There is no doubt that the times we are living in are dark and challenging for every single human on this Earth.
Our faith community could be just the type of silver lining you are looking for in your life.
The silver lining YOU need.
Or the silver lining that someone else in your life needs.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve struggled with the fact that the Christmas Eve service this year (my favorite one to plan) will not look the same as year’s past.
It is something that I start to plan in the early months of Summer as I listen to music samples for the choir, play through piano solo pieces, and come up with a theme that brings it all together.
It has been a tough emotional journey to grasp the reality that all of that will look different on December 24, 2020.
But, on the flip side, it also presents the silver liningand opportunity to think outside the box in respect to making a meaningful worship experience for the entire community to enjoy on Christmas Eve–one early service that will take place indoors and one later service that will take place outdoors.
How can you be a part of this silver lining?
Over the next couple of weeks, I will be looking for individuals who are willing to be a part of the service (one or both) in regards to special music whether it be via an instrument or voice.
Want to be a part of this experience? Please, please, PLEASE reach out to me and let me know. There are also plenty of opportunities to get involved even if you are not musical.
Our faith community has an opportunity to create a silver liningwith our Christmas Eve traditions this year for a world that is in great need of hope and light.
With the Fall season happening this week (tomorrow if you are reading this on Monday), the phrase and motto “turn over a new leaf” often gets thrown around.
So, please turn over that new leaf in your life and help our faith community meet the needs of the surrounding world by creating a silver lining that can be experienced and enjoyed by ALL.
Helping to create a silver liningfor others could be silver lining you need.