Why should TIME Magazine get all the fun?
I've seen the memes flying around that President elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris shouldn't have been the Person of the Year...it should have been healthcare workers. I have immense respect and compassion for what our nation's healthcare workers have gone through this year, but when is the last time normal people were celebrated in a hugely public way that you can remember? Unfortunately, that's not how celebrity culture works, but it did get me thinking. I know some pretty extraordinary people in my own life who deserve some recognition for what they accomplished during this difficult and chaotic year. So I'm doing SJ's People of the Year to celebrate them, because I truly believe they deserve it.
First is a woman I've been honored to know for the past several years. From the moment I met her, I realized that Monica Anderson is one of those special people who just emits positive energy into the world. She is warm, welcoming, positive, and ready to work hard for her passions.
After experiencing pregnancy loss, Monica learned the hard way that there are very few resources to help women, and their families, heal from the experience. She was sent home to research on her own. Monica, being the strong person she is, felt that no other woman should have to navigate an experience like that alone again. She turned her own sorrow into the motivation to help others. In 2019, she started her own nonprofit, Remembering Cherubs, to give women, and their families, the resources they need to heal from pregnancy loss.
I was honored that she asked me to be one of the founding board members. Now, for those of you who don't know, it is hard work to start a non-profit and get it off the ground. Monica worked tirelessly to file the necessary paperwork, pay the fees, network and make partnerships, research, and assemble a team of board members to help make her vision a reality.
2020 was meant to be a year of aggressive fundraising. She led the board of directors in planning fundraising events throughout the year so that Remembering Cherubs could roll out the healing toolkits she'd envisioned from the beginning. And then Covid-19 struck. And it went on. And on. And on. Fundraising events had to be cancelled. Life circumstances hit me so hard that I had to step down from the board.
In the midst of setbacks like this, Monica turned her attention to what could be done. And she kept going. She's developed an online toolkit so that women and families could still get the help they need right now. She partnered with local organizations and started offering virtual events. Her goal to help women and families has never wavered. It's been difficult, for sure, but she is guided by a vision and purpose that is bigger than herself.
She's an extraordinary person and an inspiration and that's why she gets my vote for Person of the Year.
Dominic is another person I met a few years ago who also impressed me with his strong positive energy. He's the type of person that you just know has the capacity to do great things. And he absolutely is.
During this summer of protesting here in the US, Dominic was moved to start EQUAL i/T/ (This man is a born entrepreneur anyway, but he combined that with a passion for positive change with this.)
As he puts it on the website:
"Our philosophy is simple: we are all the same. The human race is one collective. When one of us are in pain, we all feel it. When one of us progresses or grows, we all elevate. If I had your experiences I'd be you and if you had mine, you'd be me. We choose not to judge someone for how they handle life, or for their outward appearance. We lead with love. And if you don our attire, you do too. Your energy has led you here. The same energy that this design with built on.
I Love You,
Owner & Designer of EQUAL i/T/"
I am very impressed with him for turning the feelings of those tumultuous protests, based on the ongoing racial tension the US just can't seem to get past yet, into action. I love his message. I love his spirit. I hope you will too. You can follow EQUAL i/T/ on Facebook. Another thing I need to mention about Dominic, is that he's also the owner of another excellent business, Organneck. Whether you're into diffusing essential oils or not, Organneck has high quality, unique jewelry that you'll love. He also offers custom designs, so you can get anything you want. Not only that, Organneck gives back to the local Michigan community. You can follow them on Facebook or Instagram.
And not only that, Dominic is releasing his first album! (He's kept very busy and productive this year!) Keep an eye out for that, coming soon from your favorite streaming services. The album title is: Ego vs. Higher Self.
Dominic is a person who knows how to hustle and he constantly impresses and inspires me with all that he does. Not only does he work hard, but he has a big heart and is absolutely a joy to know. For that reason, he's one of my People of the Year.
John Connon and Tim Rerucha
aka Cecil and Sureg'ay
It is said that laughter is the best medicine and if there was ever a year that desperately needed laughter, it's this one.
I'm lucky that John has been a friend of mine for over 20 years now. He's an actor, comedian, playwright, (soon to be novelist), chihuahua owner, and all-around fantastic person.
I've yet to meet Tim in-person but we're Facebook friends, so you know, we're practically besties. He's an actor, comedian, and a beekeeper! He also has Skippy, the cutest little dog you've ever seen. He's outspoken and in your face and I think he's pretty darn cool.
A few years back, John and Tim (along with the anonymous and lovely "Wine Boy") started an online show called Hot Topics with Cecil and Sureg'ay. Donning the personas of college kid, Cecil, and conservative married man, Sureg'ay, they'd dish on the hot topics of the day. Entertainment news. Sports. Pop culture. They were all over it. One of the hallmarks of the show was the "scarf slap." Whoever they called out for behaving badly would earn a scarf slap, much to the delight of viewers.
Life happened, as it does, and Hot Topics came to an end. (I was bummed. I really enjoyed the show.) However, through the wonders of modern technology, the show came back in the summer of 2020 with a new interactive format on Facebook Live! Past episodes can also be viewed on YouTube.
It was a hard summer, followed by an even more difficult fall, and we're heading into a still more difficult winter. Hot Topics, airing on Thursday evenings at 10:30pm, has become a weekly form of group therapy for the viewers. It's become its own little family (but is always open to more!)
There's been a lot of hot topics from the political arena...a never ending daily supply this year, but we've also laughed about sports (and/or the lack thereof) and entertainment news. We've run the gamut of emotions with Hot Topics this year. From rage, fear, and hopelessness over events in our world, but always bolstered by laughter and the assurance that we're there for each other. Is it weird to get that kind of support from a weekly web series? I think it's definitely unique. And it's been a weekly bright point during some really dark weeks this year. The show is goofy, definitely irreverent, but a lot of fun. A whole lot of fun. It may seem like an exaggeration to say, but these guys and their show have honestly helped me get through 2020. It gave me something fun to look forward to when there seemed to be literally nothing good going on around me. Not only are the hosts of the show a joy to watch, but the dedicated fans bring it all to another level. It's truly interactive tv and a fun experience. I wish these guys and their show nothing but success. I think they really deserve it, just for the joy they've brought me. I'm sure their other loyal viewers would say the same.
Because John and Tim decided to use the pandemic to resurrect the show and bring smiles and solidarity to people, they are definitely among my People of the Year.
Thanks for checking out my picks for People of the Year. If you like what you saw here, please spread the word. I don't have the readership and popularity of TIME Magazine, but Monica, Dominic, John and Tim absolutely deserve that level of publicity.
Happy (almost) New Year!