Monthly Archives: February 2015

Week #24 – “Keep it shiny side up.” (Dedicated to Gregory Pellinger)

Spread light.  Spread love.  Spread Happyness.  (Photo credit: Grace Church)

(Photo credit: Grace Church)

[UPDATE 3/4: Due to inclement weather, Wednesday’s Candle Lighting for Greg has been moved to Sunday, March 8th at 7:00 p.m. ET.  Please join with us in lighting a candle for Greg — and to show his family just how far his light can shine!]

Week #24 – “Keep it shiny side up.” (Dedicated to Gregory Pellinger)

My hometown of Hopatcong lost another one of its own last week.  Gregory Pellinger…a “much beloved” senior at the high school…was killed in a motor vehicle accident last Thursday night.  Services were held this week…and on Wednesday, March 4th, Hopatcong will hold a candlelight vigil at 6pm to celebrate what would have been Greg’s 18th birthday.

I didn’t know Greg…but I know this:

As I’ve watched the outpouring of love and support — and of leadership — on Facebook, I’m reminded of what it meant to me and my family to have an entire town stand with us when the unthinkable, the unbearable, and the still unbelievable happened.

My brother taught me to ride a motorcycle.  Rob was a great teacher and a very careful rider: never sloppy, cocky, or reckless.  He knew full well the dangers associated with riding…and he always said to me in a somewhat serious tone whenever we’d head out: “Keep it shiny side up, Grace.”

“Keep it shiny side up.” 

As so it is with life.  There are two sides to every event.  There is the dark side, the gritty and very real underside, the side where the rubber meets the road.  But there is a shiny side, too.  The upside.  The majestic and beautiful side.

The leadership I’ve witnessed this week by students, alumni, teachers, friends, and family of Hopatcong has been the shiny side of this event.  While Greg’s family mourns…many move in to help.  While his friends struggle to understand…others show strength.  While a town comes to its knees in grief…a community carries it through.

I know this to be true myself.  And I know full well what it might mean to Greg’s family in the months (and probably years) ahead.

“Keep it shiny side up” acknowledges the darkness…but insists on the light.

Your assignment this week: When faced with a situation or event that seems negative, bleak, or dire — make a conscious effort to find the shiny side, as well.  Is there an opportunity for strength, for a challenge, for organization, for leadership, for a fresh idea, or for something only you can uniquely offer?  Be part of the solution…and “keep it shiny side up.”

And here’s a bonus challenge: On Wednesday, March 4th at 6pm ET — please join with Hopatcong and light a candle in Greg’s honor.  Share a photo to Greg’s memory page…and let’s let Greg’s family know how far his love, his light, and his happiness can spread!  [Update 3/4: due to inclement weather this candle lighting will now take place on Sunday, March 8th at 7:00p ET.]

Is a bad situation calling YOU to shine your brightest this week?

Spread Happyness — and share your thoughts in the comments!

(And rest in peace young man…knowing you are loved.)

2/27/15 by Grace Church
© Grace Church

Week #23 – “Fitness never takes a snow day.” (Rob Church)

Snow Day2

Text from Rob on 3/2/14: “Fitness never takes a snow day…”

[Editor’s note: Thanks to all who raised a glass for the first-ever Happyness Hour last week!  Over thirty people joined together at Castaway’s Tavern in Hopatcong — and several others toasted remotely from parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Florida, and one very special house-guest-loving-landlord currently on assignment in Cambodia!!!  Two nice big bags of food items were donated to West Side UMC’s food pantry — and a good time was had by all!  Looking forward to the next one already!  Way to go, Team Happyness!!!]

Week #23 – “Fitness never takes a snow day.” (Rob Church)

With all the snow recently…and perhaps the timing of the year…this text from Rob has been on my mind.  He sent it last year on March 2nd.  He was running windsprints at the track.  Many people admired Rob for his discipline…but his workouts were deeper than that.  They were a habit: as natural as getting up, getting showered, and brushing your teeth.  Anyone that knew Rob in high school can attest to the fact that he wasn’t born this way!  But as an adult, he got himself to a point where NOT doing it would be weirder than just getting it done!

Personally, I think of this text every time I head out to run on less than pleasant days.  I like to run outside…and being able to run along the ocean is a very special gift.  Checking the weather is simply not an option.  N’oreaster, blizzard, rain, heat, or humidity…I simply won’t let the weather be a deciding factor for me.  I learned that from Rob…

…and yet…

…I let a thousand things stand in the way of so much else!  I’m in the middle of a big cleaning/decluttering project right now.  A few major job changes, a couple of very busy summers, and more than one significant death in our household…I can track back the piles in my little home office space and kitchen to all of these major life events.  Reasons…maybe.  Excuses…I just can’t let myself get away with it any longer!  No more “snow days” for me, Rob!

What about you?  Are there things you are putting off for when the time is right, the weather is better, or the conditions are perfect?

Your assignment for this week: Pick ONE THING that’s been nagging at you since January 1st…and GET IT DONE this week!  Next Friday marks the end of February — and that means one-sixth of the year will be over.  Don’t let unfinished business take up any more of your precious time and rob you of your future happyness this year!  Trust me, I know it’s hard…especially when the excuses are so easy.  I’m in this with you!  Start small…think of that one thing at the top of your list of to-do’s that you can bang out this week…and get it done!

What habit “never takes a snow day” for you?

Spread Happyness — share your challenges, successes, to-do’s or TA-DA’s in the comments!

2/20/15 by Grace Church
© Grace Church

PS: Rob would often include silly or nonsensical quotes (accredited to him) at the bottom of his emails to me (he may have done this to you, too!).  I always envied his creativity…and I hope wherever he is, he enjoys being the one I am quoting this week!


Week #22 – Come On, Get Happy!!! (And give some, too!)

Get Happy! (Photo credit: Granny Church)

Get Happy! (Photo credit: Granny Church)

Week #22 – Come on, Get Happy!!!  (And give some, too!)

I hope you all had a chance to celebrate a “Rob Church Kinda Day” this week!

But if not — don’t despair!  There’s another chance — and it’s tonight at 7:30p ET!

The administrators of Rob’s Facebook Memory Wall have declared the first-ever Happyness Hour tonight — Friday, February 13th — at 7:30p ET!  Friends from all around are invited to gather in person (or remotely) in honor of Rob’s 41st birthday week — to celebrate his life, share stories, and raise a glass to HAPPYNESS!!!

The local event will take place at Castaways Tavern in Hopatcong, NJ (Rob’s home town) — but you are all invited to participate wherever you are by declaring 7:30p tonight YOUR Happyness Hour!

And we’re not just gonna GET HAPPY…we’re gonna GIVE SOME TOO!

At Castaways — we will be accepting donations of food items (specifically canned pasta sauces, peanut butter, and tuna fish) to benefit West Side United Methodist Church’s food pantry,  which serves local families in and around Hopatcong.  And if anyone wants to splurge — they also really need coffee!  For families with limited resources, coffee is a huge budget-buster and an absolute luxury.  A can or two goes a long way to bring warmth and comfort to the adults at the head of those households!

Your assignment this week: Spread Happyness — and pay it forward this Friday!  Whether you are celebrating with us in person — or across the miles — carve out time to make a toast to happyness, and share your experience with us in the comments (or on Rob’s Facebook Memory Wall)!  And then — make a donation to your local food pantry.  Your pantry may have specific needs week-to-week, so check in first to see what items are in demand and add a few of them to your shopping list!

A protein packed lunch, an after-school snack, spaghetti night, or the warm smell of freshly brewed coffee…these things were all central to Rob’s childhood.  With your help, we can be sure they’re part of someone else’s too!

Spread Happyness — and share your Happyness Hour celebrations (and donations) in the comments!

2/13/15 by Grace Church
© Grace Church

Week #21 – Have a “Rob Church Kinda Day!”


Happy Birthday! (Photo credit: Granny Church)

Week #21 – Have a “Rob Church Kinda Day!”

This Wednesday, February 11th is Rob’s birthday.  He would have been 41.  And you know what he would’ve done?

Whatever he damn well pleased!

I’ve celebrated a lot of birthdays alongside my brother…and there are two things I know for sure: He always took the day off from work…and he always did exactly what he wanted to do!  That didn’t always include seeing family, either.  Some birthdays he spent with other people.  Some he spent by himself.  But on that day above all others…he did whatever made him happy.  And that made those of us who knew and loved him happy, too!

For a lot of people, birthdays are a harsh reminder of getting older, losing steam, or giving up on dreams.  Not Rob…last year this time he was running windsprints at the track and told me he felt in the best shape of his life.  Over and over again, he said he was looking forward to his 40’s.

What a kick in the teeth.

Are you still alive?  Still breathing?  Well this week’s assignment is for you (and me too)!

Your challenge for this week: If you could do whatever you damn well pleased…what would it be?  Make a list, start a vision board, or fill a jar with ideas to draw at random.  Then, on Wednesday, February 11th…have a “Rob Church Kinda Day!”  You may not be able to take the entire day off…but set aside time to practice identifying (and doing) something ONLY for you!  Something that makes YOU happy.  Something that lets you hear Rob’s voice — or someone else who you know and love — saying “Good for you!”

With family, work, kids, parents, pets, jobs, PTA, churches, charities, and bills to pay…it’s easy to get lost in doing for others.  If you are waiting for the world to give you permission to take time for yourself…get comfortable!  Take permission instead…and practice doing ONE THING that pleases YOU this week!

Spread Happyness…have a “Rob Church Kinda Day!”  And share your ideas in the comments!

2/6/15 by Grace Church
© Grace Church