Sun-dried Tomatoes | Inspired by Charm

Yesterday I noticed that my local Walmart no longer carries sun-dried tomatoes. Instead they now have a 5 x 5′ section dedicated to one brand of boxed macaroni and cheese. I tell you this for two reasons. First, I love sun-dried tomatoes, especially the ones packed in oil. (Extra healthful, right?) Secondly, the absence of sun-dried tomatoes at my local Walmart* seems to be a sign from the Universe. Let me explain.

*For anyone who doesn’t know, Walmart is my only option for food shopping unless I want to drive 45 minutes to the closest stand-alone grocery store.

Last week, I started writing this same post. At the time, I titled it “The Secret.” Not that I was revealing a secret, but in reference to the book The Secret, as in if you put it something out there, it comes (back) to you.

If you’ve followed IBC for some time (I’ve been doing this for 8 years now!), you know that every year around this time I write a post about bettering my life. Yet, year after year, I find myself in the same predicament. Over the past year, I’ve decided not to get super personal here on IBC because I felt no one needed to hear all that “stuff,” and besides, it wasn’t professional. (I even created Behind the Charm to share more personal things, but that hasn’t worked.)

I don’t want this post to be sad, so I’m going to keep the explanation to a few short sentences. In a nutshell, 2016 was an awful year for me personally. Through the IBC/work lens it was a wonderfully successful year with lots of amazing opportunities, trips, magazine features, etc. However “behind the charm,” I’ve been pretty miserable. In short, I’m lonely, often unmotivated, and carrying a couple extra pounds. I’ve also somehow managed to lose most of my friends. I could go on, but you get it.

I do love my job and am so grateful for the success I’ve had while getting to create day in and day out. I often find it hard to complain when, if you look at my life on the outside, it seems to be magical.

So, you’re probably wondering what all of this has to do with sun-dried tomatoes and why I’m writing about it here. I need your help and opinions. My question is this: With “nothing” left for me here in St. Mary’s, is it time for me to move?

Sun-dried Tomatoes | Inspired by Charm

Before you can answer, a few things to consider.

First, I love my home, but I’m not attached to it. It’s not in an ideal location, plus I’d like a bigger yard, etc.

Secondly, as I’ve mentioned before, my plan has been to buy my grandparents’ house when the time comes. My grandfather passed about two years ago and my grandma still lives there. Naturally, I want her to live forever, but as a result, that puts me in limbo.

Also, Is buying a house in an area that seemingly has little to offer me (e.g., no relationships, no friends, no sun-dried tomatoes) the best decision?

Another plan I’ve had is to purchase my grandparents’ home when the time comes, but also rent or buy a little condo near the beach so I can have the best of both worlds.

And if I do decide to leave St. Marys, how do I even begin to choose where to live? Given my job, the world is my oyster. However, what if I move, and I’m more lost and lonely than I am now?

As you can see, I’m confused. I also need to consider my two cats. I can’t just abandon them for half of the year if having two residences would be the best option. I also have no intention of getting rid of them. They are part of my life until they pass to Kitty Heaven.

Also, St. Marys is home. Being close to my family is a gift that I treasure. However, lately I feel like I have just a supporting role in their lives rather than a life of my own.

And speaking of a life of my own, I haven’t dated in years. It doesn’t help that I’m a bit of an introvert, but a guy trying to meet a guy in small town America is kind of tricky. Many young people want out of this place the day after they graduate. This has been a big issue for me because year after year, I want nothing more than to spend my life with someone.

So, in a nutshell, that’s my situation. (Also, I should mention I am chatting with someone about all of this “stuff” in trying to work things out. I’m not making any major life decisions tomorrow, I’m just getting the ball rolling.)

I decided to write this post in an attempt to open the doors. Maybe you have some thoughts or helpful suggestions? Maybe you’ve been through a similar situation? Maybe you know the “perfect” place where I should put down roots? Maybe you have an adorable condo for sale on the beach? Maybe you have a pool house I can rent for part of the year? Maybe you have a cute cousin I should meet? Or maybe you just have a can of sun-dried tomatoes I can buy?

I realize I have a lot of work to do on my own. Ultimately this is my life, and I’m the one driving the bus. I get it. However, in this particular instance, I wouldn’t mind a few backseat drivers.

As always, thank you very much in advance. Even if you have no advice to offer, I appreciate your kind thoughts and continued support of IBC.

Comments

  • Laura at

    This post was such a pleasure to read – while that’s probably a weird reaction to your confession of blah-ness, its nice to see reality shine through. We’ve all been there in one way or another and from this humble little IBC fan, I love checking in daily and seeing what you’re up to next; wherever that may be, with whoever that may be with – I’ll still be checking in

    Keep your chin up and never settle for less than sun-dried tomatoes. πŸ™‚

  • Nicole at

    Being your job requires a lot of living online that can be tough…moving could help but you still need avenues outside the computer and your home. Sounds like you are also talking to a professional which is great…maybe joining a hiking group, workout class or something that will get you moving physically and outside your comfort zone.

  • Kerry at

    I have found that moving away rarely fixes all the problems that you have where you currently are. I have been there, tried that and I have watched others do the same. So make sure if you do chose to move that you do so not to make things better. It really won’t help.

    While I know this doesn’t help, I have found that life takes us on all sorts of adventures if we put ourselves out there, willing to take on more challenges. I was at a crossroads for about 8 years, not sure what to do about a career and all of a sudden the perfect job fell into my lap. That lead to me going back to school, which lead to an even better job in the field that fell into my lap. I would have never imagined myself here even 5 years ago!

    I am not always happy and things aren’t always perfect but honestly, I find it easier to get up each morning and get moving. Try some new things- like Nicole stated above. Go outside your comfort zone- not easy, I know but so worth it! You just never know where it might lead you!

  • Lori at

    Thank you for sharing your story … I know for myself opening up to people is always the first step to working out what I’m struggling with … Have you considered Philadelphia ? Not too far from where you are now and close to the Jersey shore

  • JenW at

    First, I wish I were there to give you a hug…sometimes that just makes things a little brighter.

    Second, never be afraid to share the personal on your blog…yes, this is a business for you, but I EXPECT some personal things when I read a blog. I WANT to feel like I know a bit about the person…if all I wanted was impersonal posts and perfectly executed projects there’s a whole world of brand blogs out there to get decorating/DIY/cooking posts without the personal. I visit IBC because Michael Wurm writes this blog and I like his blog. So, please, don’t be afraid to show *you* here. Yes, there has to be a balance…but life isn’t only well staged and edited photos…sometimes it’s a struggle and that’s okay.

    Third, I don’t have any advice on where you should live. It’s a hard decision to make, but thankfully you don’t have anything driving you to make it. You can take your time and visit places and really get the vibe for them. Maybe there’s some non-sponsored travel posts in the future! Good luck finding the right place with creative individuals and cute single guys!

  • Patti at

    You are very brave to put this out there and also I really have no advice to share. But sometimes, something happens when we are needing answers. It may be an event or a random happening that helps us find our way and gives us the answers we need. I hope this is what happens to you and you can find some peace with whatever decisions you make. Life is hard sometimes. Oh and I love sun dried tomatoes as well. ?

  • Jackie at

    I say go for it! If you move and don’t like it you can always move back. Understand that could happen but if you never take the chance you just don’t know. It could be the greatest decision or it might not work out. But that would be alright, cause at least you tried. If it doesn’t work out, don’t beat yourself up. Fear holds us back. Fear of failure, fear of making the wrong decision, fear of being alone. Know that you are enough and trust that there is a “plan” for you, you just have to be observant and trust yourself to find your way. Good Luck!

  • Vanessa at

    Gosh Michael, I’m sorry you had an awful year-I’ve been there as well. And to be really honest…you don’t seem to love where you live-I have always kind of thought that, and I have followed you a long time. When you were in California and Hawaii and on your trips, you just seem “brighter!” I live in cold weather many months out of the year in MN…I can tell you that the place you live CAN help and hurt you-especially if you get down in the winter. People in my family have moved to Arizona and California and it has changed their health and their well being so much. I don’t have any creative ideas for places to move, but I think it is a sign-just in your writing that it is time. Your family will still love you-it might not work out “perfectly” but everything points to you leaving PA in my humble opinion. I believe in you and I think you can thrive just about anywhere…move some place warm! πŸ™‚

  • Jamie at

    I moved from home 10 years ago and I miss it more than I thought I would. If you think you will always wonder what things would be like if you’d left, I’d pack up those sweet cats and rent in a bigger city. By the time your grandmother’s home is available, you will (hopefully) know if you want to move back or not. Best of luck. Adulting is hard.

    • Kathleen at

      Great advice.

  • Mary Wilding at

    I love the “realness” of this! I find that for every negative thought–I make myself think of a blessing and keep an open heart! Much love! Mary Wilding http://www.mytributejournal.com

  • Heidi at

    I enjoy your post so much and appreciate your honesty. I am going through a slab leak crises in my home where I am living with concrete floors and the whole downstairs gutted. I went through the holidays with no decorations, no kitchen and no furniture. Your blog gave me joy! I loved seeing your trees and party ideas. As soon as my drywall was repaired, a coat of ‘Dior’ paint went up on an accent wall and everyone thinks I am a brilliant designer-thanks to you! You will find your way. If you haven’t read the book ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho, I highly recommend it. It is a light read and a very inspirational life story. Also, I just came across this quote that I saved to my desktop “Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge” -Eckhart Tolle

  • Robin at

    Michael, thank for you sharing your beautiful post. You are so kind and humble.
    I’ve read some of your past posts, which had similar sentiments. I say go for it! Try somewhere new…you can always go back if it is where you’re meant to be.

    I’m familiar with 2 places that you might like to visit and check out. Philadelphia and Lancaster, PA. Both are relatively close to home for you, but probably have more opportunity to find some of the things you are looking for. Lancaster is a bit traditional and conservative but has significant art, cultural, and gay communities. I live nearby with my girlfriend, and if you’d like to come visit, we will gladly show you around!
    Philly is much more diverse and exciting, but expensive, too.
    Go visit both!

  • Monica at

    I wish you weren’t so far from Longwood Gardens, it’s such a refreshing place!
    Jamie’s idea about renting somewhere is good.
    How far are you willing to move away from your family? how important is it for travel (airports, highways) to be close by?
    Lewisburg? Philly? Pittsburgh? Cape May? Frederick MD? Ellicott City MD?

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      It would be ideal to be able to drive home. So, 5-6 hours max, perhaps. BUT that’s not SUPER important I suppose.
      And yes, one of the downfalls of this area is that it takes 3 hours to get to an airport. Living closer to an airport would be a huge benefit.

      xo Michael

      • Tina at

        Hi Michael, thanks for sharing yourself! From your blog, you seem to be a person who loves your family, loves to create, likes to travel, likes some culture/activity/shopping opportunities. It seems like you are perhaps in too rural an area. Something closer to a small city & an airport but still within driving distance of your family sounds ideal. I am an introvert also & know that it can be hard to put yourself out there. But it is certainly a bit easier if there are opportunities to do so, such as museums, concerts, groups to join, etc. You could always give it a try and move back if it doesn’t work out. I wish you so much good luck!

  • Heather at

    Sending you love and good vibes. It sounds like you are ready to move forward with your life. All of our lives have ebbs and flows, so before you something drastic I would suggest you do some self-reflection to make sure this isn’t just some lull that you will come out of. If not, I say go for it! We aren’t meant to stay stagnant. We are meant to grow and evolve as people. Your life is calling you to make a change. I hope you find what you’re looking for. ❀

  • Mel at

    Hi Micheal! I have been reading your blog for so long – I am sorry you are still feeling this way…I am no wisdom of the ages, but all I can say is in my experience, when I have taken action to make a change for the better things naturally fall into place is crazy wonderful ways. When you take out/change the “stuff” that is holding you back, life tends to fill it with the “GREAT stuff” that will catapult you forward. Xo

  • Amanda at

    I’m a longtime reader, but don’t think I’ve ever commented. This post made me want to reach out! Have you considered Pittsburgh? It’s a lovely city with an amazing up and coming art scene. It has all the opportunity of a larger city, but the culture and communities here have a small town vibe. It would be driving distance to your family and close to an airport. I came here 10+ years ago for a job thinking it would be temporary and I fell in love.

    I also own a lake house outside of the city and you can come and get your water/beach fix anytime you want! ?

  • Christy at

    I’m sorry to hear you’re so unhappy in your personal life. Ugh, it’s making me sad! I’m from rural PA originally, too. I knew some people from St. Mary’s in college (I went to Gannon). I can understand why you may be struggling there. I moved from PA to St. Pete, FL almost nine years ago, because my now husband found a good job, and it turned out to be a great decision. I love it here. We have gorgeous beaches, a rejuvenated downtown, a respected and celebrated LGBT community. I could go on. You may want to think about the possibility of relocating here. I’ve found that there are A LOT of people who have moved here from the north, so you tend to forge little “families” with your friends because most people’s loved ones are far away. It may be a good time for you to make a move and try it out. If it doesn’t work for you, you can always go back. What is there to lose?

  • Amina at

    I agree that sometimes “wherever you go, there you are.” It tends to be true that much of what you struggle with will follow you wherever you choose to go. However, I’m a very big believer in how much environment can influence mood too. If you already feel lonely, why not feel lonely in a new place, with new places and new energy and new potential? If you feel you’ve exhausted all the possibility of your current home, a new start invited the opportunity for something more- hopefully many somethings πŸ™‚

    I left Austin TX for Boulder CO knowing no one, with a room to rent I secured via Craigslist and a phone call. I was depressed and lonely and without community in many ways. I spent 7 years in Colorado getting a Masters, finding my husband and making an incredible group of friends. The transition was hard (never judge a move based on the first few months of adjusting to change!) I don’t think it was the place I chose, I think it was finally inviting possibility and change into my life that made it all happen. The fact you’re considering opening to that is so exciting!

  • Tanya at

    Hey, look at it as a job opportunity. A new house, especially a fixer upper, would give you at least a year’s worth of posts! It seems like it could be a risk worth taking. (I do hope you carry Dior Gray with you, though. Your dining room is what drew me in and draws me back! I’m usually a silent reader, but decided to comment today. That color never gets old!)

    Good luck whatever you decide!

  • Jen at

    I’ve been reading your blog for several months now but never commented. I just want to say how refreshing it is to see a bit of the person behind the seemingly-perfect life that shines through on the blog. I know that sounds like a terrible thing to say, because I’m genuinely sad to read about how you are feeling about your life. But what I mean is that often bloggers (and lifestyle bloggers especially) and Instagram celebrities, etc. appear to have it all. Looking in from the outside it can seem as though they’ve got everything figured out and their life is perfect. We know it’s not, but it can be hard not to compare and feel bad about your own life. I so appreciate the honesty. Thank you for sharing.
    PS – move to Toronto! πŸ˜€

  • loly at

    Thank you for sharing! You ideas, designs, projects and recipes (oh yeah, especially those!) are why I started following IBC but you are the reason I stuck around. So I sort of think of you as the friend I haven’t met yet in person, like if we lived closer we’d shop and gossip and have cocktails and stuff. I’m guessing a lot of your followers feel that way. Your charm and kind heart come through your blog. Point being – your happiness matters to all of us who follow you.
    So, two thoughts – one, your travel posts are awesome. I get a real feel for the cities you’ve written about and have wondered if you shouldn’t be doing more of them. Maybe there is a way to worth more companies and get paid to do more travel blogging? Definitely a way to explore and see if another area is the right fit.
    Two – as I was reading this I thought about Frederick, MD. I’m about 30 north (more rural) but have family there and really enjoy all that it has to offer. Then saw it mentioned in the comments! Kismet! It really is a fabulous funky quirky community. Great shops, arts community, food, nightlife, etc. The best part of this area in the proximity of Baltimore, DC, Philly, OCMD, anywhere on the eastern Shore for when you want more of it all. And a 20-30 min drive to smaller towns similar to where you live when you want less. And close to home for visits. Worth a visit anyway right??
    Whatever you decide, I wish you the best. Be true to who you are, follow your heart and light your light shine.

  • Angie D at

    Ohio is not that far! Akron and Columbus are both gay friendly cities and both offer interesting housing options. My son and his partner are finding great deals on houses to flip in Akron. Columbus has an exciting downtown revitalization as well as the “Short North” Both cities have colleges/ universities which offer life long learning opportunities. Columbus and Akron offer arts and entertainment, and excellent shopping for sun dried tomatoes. Both have airports for get aways too!

    • Gabby at

      And Put-In-Bay isn’t too far to get that “beachy” island feel. Michael could always move and when Grammy goes to heaven, reassess. Do you want to buy her house and move back home? Do you enjoy Ohio enough that you want to stay? Nothing is ever permanent, and that’s the beauty of this world. Ever changing. You may find someone to settle down with while in Ohio and find that while you both adore the city, you miss the simplicity of living a country life. You have the unique position to literally work from ANYWHERE, so there’s nothing wrong with exploring. Maybe you find what you are searching for beyond the confines of St. Marys PA…maybe you don’t. Regardless: St. Marys PA will always welcome you with warm and wide open arms. Continue to do your inward searching and questioning, if you aren’t meditating…now would be the time. I also second asking the universe for signs or little nudges…I know you will find what you are searching for. Much love to you <3

  • Mary at

    As a former St. Mary’s resident, I hear you. I will say, however, there is nothing to replace family!!!!!! I am happily married and live near Philly, but we both miss our family. Friends have come and gone and you have to begin again.
    Perhaps a weekly trip to Erie or even to Martins would cure the food blues.
    I do understand how hard it is to find a partner there and I am sorry for that.

    As a side, could you tell me where this vase is from?
    Good Luck!

  • Shar at

    The smartest people always ask however many people they can for their opinions when they are looking for answers. I hope you get some good suggestions that will be helpful to you…being lonely is no fun. I would suggest trying to rent a place in various locations until you find one that suits you. Your job makes this so perfectly doable. One place that comes to mind is Asheville, North Carolina. Looks like it would be a 6 hour drive down from St. Mary’s for you. Not only is it artsy and eclectic, it also has a vibrant LBGT community and a world class food scene. Good luck, Michael!

  • Diane at

    I grew up in small town Ohio, and moved to Mississippi with my then new husband, 10 years ago. The sunshine has changed my life! Change can be scary, but it can also be SO good! Step out, knowing you can always go back. Good luck!

  • Kevin at

    I also had a terrible 2016, but you know what it taught me? And this is gonna be super geeky, but I’m going to quote Tim Allen’s character from “Galaxy Quest”: “Never give up, never surrender”.

    Put yourself out there, experience your wants and needs no matter how awkward or embarrassing they seem at the moment. Travel somewhere you’ve never been, get lost, ask for directions and meet people you never would have otherwise. Our world is pretty small (if you know what I mean) and sometimes you just need to expand your search.

    You never know; someone might just have some sun-dried tomatoes in their pantry. πŸ™‚

  • Angie at

    Your post touched my heart, especially the line about playing a supporting role rather than being a leading man. I hope you find your path.
    And you should move! Absolutely! Move to the beach! Move to the mountains a year later! Try on a new life for a year or two until you find your true self.
    Thanks for opening up, btw. I wish you the very best.

  • Linda at

    Thank you for being so open in your post today. I am a long-time reader, but don’t think I have ever commented. It does sound like you might be ready for a change of pace/change of location/new adventure! I am a life-long West coaster, and there are many, many fabulous gay friendly cities/towns here!!

    I agree with another commenter who suggested renting (of course, take your kitties!) for awhile and see what happens.

    Best of luck!!

  • Sarah at

    While I know it was just the final straw, re: specialty foods, never underestimate the power of Amazon prime! I live in a metropolitan area and couldn’t get: kraft marshmallow cream, pink and white frosted animal crackers, or peppadewe peppers. Each time it was amazon to the rescue!

    Good luck on figuring out where to live etc. It’s a hard decision!

  • nancy at

    Living in south central PA (and being from the San Francisco area) I’ve wondered before how you liked living where you did. I say move, you can always move back. My niece and my son both found their partners on line so I don’t think anyone should be afraid of that but I would think your chances would improve greatly if you lived where there are more people like yourself. I’m married with children and I even get lonely so I get that too. If you have lost friends you probably should figure out why (something you did, not really friends etc.) but it sounds like you’re doing that kind of work. It’s not easy making changes and taking chances but it can be done and I’m sure you’re up to the challenge. (And of course your cats go with you, even to the beach! My grand cat always goes.)

  • Kim at

    You are the best! I am new to your blog and IG but have been smitten from the start. Today’s post
    cements that. You are doing all the right things for change, seeking knowledge and advice from others
    and in general just throwing it out to the universe! With your positive approach to life I know it will all come together! I have seen Ellicott City, MD in the comments and it is an area you would love!
    Close to airports, highways, the beach, the mountains and there is a vibrant, creative environment in both DC and Baltimore which it lies between.

  • Elizabeth at

    I don’t have any advice for you (wish I did!) and while I wouldn’t recommend you moving where I live, I would be your friend in a heartbeat if you wee close ? Prayers that you find your way soon and that 2017 is a better year for you xx

  • Rachel Serene at

    I have followed your blog for many years and it’s one of the very few that I still love to read. Your style is always so fresh… I love everything you do! I love how you have shared your heart even though and your post makes me sad. I wish I knew you so I could give you a call of encouragement.

    I wanted to second what the commenter above said about St. Pete. When I was young we lived there and it’s still the best memories of my life. We lived in a little Key-West-style cottage two blocks from the beach in a sleepy town just north, called Ozona. It’s the type of town where people ride golf carts all around and sit outside with their neighbors drinking wine late into the evening. Even though the properties are close to the ocean, you can still get affordable real estate. Most of the homes need a little updating but I would follow that on your blog in a heart-beat πŸ˜‰

    Being a mid-westerner, that whole area feels familiar to me because there are so many transplants that have moved down there. Like the other person said, people make families with their friends. That was absolutely the case for us. My mom was a single mom in residency and the people she met became our life-long friends even after we moved back to Iowa.

    I could see you thriving in a place like this. Everything you could want is within minutes but it has a relaxing feel of a vacation, plus there are some really really excellent restaurants within walking distance. Dunedin is just south and it’s another great (yet slightly larger) community.

    My mom has a beach cottage in Ozona (nothing fancy but it’s very quaint) that you could stay in if you just wanted to check it out– seriously! If I could move, I would move there in a heartbeat.

    What do you have to lose? I love what another commenter said about it not having to be a forever decision. Go away for awhile, give yourself time to think and see if you want to make a permanent move.

  • Oscar @OscarBravoHome at

    Hi Michael! I don’t have much advice other than “go with your heart”! If your heart is telling you to go somewhere else, then do it! Nothing is permanent. You can always move back or move somewhere else! And get out there and mingle! I know right…easier said than done. Trust me, I’m extremely shy so I know how hard it is to get out there. But we have to. Especially those of us who have “digital lives”. I suck at giving advice but know that I wish you lots of happiness! And as far as sun-dried tomatoes go… maybe you can DIY it and post on the blog lol.

  • D. at

    I hate when life cycles all come at once. I vote renting for 2 months at a sunny location, one that has an active LGBT community, and use your blog contacts for introductions to those with the same creativity and life goals as yourself. If this area has all that you need, consider a permanent move. You can do this! Change can be awesome!

  • Chris at

    My advice would be to pray, focus on you and definitely listen to Marianne Williamson … all of her books are amazing! I’m personally listening to …you are a badass, by Jen sincere …another great resource. With the full moon and solar eclipse happening tonight it has everyone feeling a little off. Take a moment under the moon and give it all to God. Stay positive my friend it is just a season in your life; you will come out stronger on the other side. ????

  • Elle at

    Thank you for this post! It’s nice to read a lifestyle blogger who isn’t trying to maintain a perfect veneer. Everyone is struggling with something and there’s no shame in having it out in the open.

    I’m going to disagree with some of the other commenters and vote for staying in PA, but moving to a larger city. Pittsburgh is awesome! Philly too (though I have a feeling you’d like Pittsburgh better for some reason).

    Since you’re close to your family it seems like it’d be ideal for you to be within a couple hours drive of them. You could visit often and feel like you still had a support system within reach, but also your own life in a city that works better for you at this stage of the game.

    And purely selfishly, I’m excited by the idea of watching you decorate another house!

  • Rachel C at

    It takes a lot of courage to write a post like this. It’s a reminder that beautiful, perfectly arranged Instagram and blog pictures don’t tell the whole story.

    I don’t have advice or a brilliant plan for your life, but I’ll be here reading and supporting you from Knoxville.

  • Jill at

    Hi Michael,
    Your post touched my heart. I don’t have a pool house to rent or live by the beach, but I live in Colorado and have a guest room with an invitation to stay anytime. You could come and see how you feel about the Denver or Boulder area. We have some great sun-dried tomatoes, and more…

  • Jane at

    Hello Michael, like so many others I enjoy your blog. I’m sorry you’re going through such a tough time but I noticed you posted the same feelings one year ago on “Behind the Charm” and I’m wondering if Seasonal Affective Disorder (or S.A.D.) could be contributing to your dissatisfaction with your life. Something to consider? But the nuts and bolts of your predicament lie in the fact that you live in small town that provides little creative stimulation, have few friends and no love life (join the club btw). The only thing keeping you in St. Mary’s is you. So may I respectfully suggest the Lehigh Valley, PA., comprised of Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton. Fantastic cultural scene, very gay friendly, affordable homes, only a four hour drive back to your family. Philly is a short train ride away as is bus service to NYC. ABE airport offers daily non-stop flights to Tampa and Orlando for cheap. You would be close to everything but not have pay the heavy price tag for living in those major cities. Lastly, the people in the Lehigh Valley are fantastic, down to earth and friendly. Please consider spending a few weekends there to get the feel of the place before making a commitment. In my heart of hearts I think this would be ideal for you. I hope you take my comment with the kindness that was intended. I hope and will pray for you to find your place in this world wherever it may be. Wishing you nothing but peace and happiness.

  • Debi at

    Would love to know where you purchased your vase for the Tulips? Really love the style of it.

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      I found it in Curaćao at a cruise port while traveling last week.

      xo Michael

      • Melissa St Pierre at

        Brunswick, Maine, is a wonderfully diverse community but the winter is a fickle beast. Had a “mild” January but now digging out from a blizzard. You are more than welcome to bunk at our house if you want to come visit!
        Regardless, sending you positive thoughts and warm wishes as you go through this time. Transitions ar never easy– keep your chin up. You have a lot of fans out here!

  • Annie at

    Do it. Move. Every time I’ve made a big decision, it has always changed my life for the better. Of course it won’t be easy, but it’s not easy now.

    Some ideas- what about buying a small place in a popular, more urban area, do it up as fab as you would and then when the time comes to move to your grandparents home, rent it out as an Airbnb (if it’s too far away, you can have someone manage it for you). While you’re living there, soak up all that a city has to offer, find your man and then bring him home to the grandparents house when the city has used you up. Keep the rental property for some extra cash.

    Also, take a trip, get some sunshine. I just took a solo trip to a warmer city and I feel so refreshed. A new perspective, a cleaner diet and a little time to let my mind wander.

  • Abbi Peters at

    Hi Michael-

    Sorry to hear 2016 was tough for you- it ended horribly for me so I am looking forward to better things in 2017.

    Moving and traveling are fun and full of shiny possibilities. But at the end of the day loneliness can find you anywhere. After college I moved out to Los Angeles, I was determined to experience big city life. And although I was surrounded by people at any given moment I still felt alone and wound up meeting my soul mate through an online interaction- so I could have been living anywhere and still met him.
    Living in LA I had access to everything- within 10 miles or less – but that turned into a minimum of a 45 minute drive because of traffic. I lived 25 miles from work and it was a 3 hour commute.

    There’s a give and take anywhere you live. Nothing is perfect. And as I get older I realize that’s ok. As readers of your wonderful blog we’re discovering that too- because from a professional stand point you are living and working quite the life!

    But with all of that in mind if you are feeling the need to explore the other options and paths that new scenery will provide – do it!! My only suggestion is to do it from a place where you are not trying to fill a sense of loneliness but instead to enrich your life experiences. Setting the level of expectation that if I was only [fill in the blank] I would be happier usually sets oneself up for failure. Since you will always be looking for that next thing to make you happier. I write these words with love and from personal experience.

    You’ll find the answer that works best for you, as you’re doing it remember to count your blessings and smile.

    PS- Ridgway is 10 miles away (which actually equals about 12 minutes) and our grocery store does carry sun dried tomatoes and they will order anything else they you might not see on a shelf.

  • leslie king at

    Columbus OH!!! Significant gay community, wonderful arts communities, wonderful neighborhoods, and the nicest people in the world. I wish I still lived there :/

  • patti @ pandoras box at

    Change is good for the soul – but it doesn’t have to be permanent! If you don’t venture out of your comfort zone, you will never know how exciting other places can be. Vacations are great, however living in some of those areas might not be so wonderful. Do some research, go visit, find a rental…bounce around a bit. You will find what you are looking for! And as for losing friends, remember, to make friends, you MUST be one first – maintaining friendships is a lot of work, it does not just happen easily! Good luck in making some major decisions!

  • Ronda at

    Reading your post reminded me of me many many years ago. I found myself a bit restless in a tiny Southeast Missouri town. One day I placed a map of the United States on a table, closed my eyes, and placed my finger down on the map (which ended up being a slightly bigger town in Western California). Two weeks later, I left for an uncertain place with no job, no place to live, and no friends or family. I was lots younger and could not imagine such impulsive actions today, but I ended up living there for seven years. I experienced life in such a manner that I will cherish the memories for a lifetime. I found a place to live, got a job, and made a friend the first day I arrived. During that seven years I eventually became so home-sick that I had to move back, but home was, at that time, in Western Kentucky because my parents had relocated. The move to Western Kentucky was almost 40 years ago and once I arrived, knew I had made my way to the place I would stay. I met the love of my life and lived 25 wonderful years with him until he unexpectedly passed away 2 1/2 years ago. If I had never made the move back to the land of southern hospitality, I would have never met him and for that I am eternally blessed. I wish you luck in your decision and even though I do not know you personally, I will be praying that your choice will the right one. I jumped out on a leap of faith and even though it was a dangerous move for a young woman, I would not trade the experience for anything. Whatever you decide, know that you have family to come back to and friends with you in the form of your blog. God bless you, Michael, in your life moving forward.

  • FR at

    I think you are so brave for putting this out there. It’s so much easier to just pretend everything is as perfect as your blog, so good on you for admitting it isn’t. As a Penn State alum, I understand the issues with small town living and how it may be hard on you in such a lightly populated area.

    I live in North Carolina now, and while the news may make it seem like the state isn’t very LGBTQ friendly, that is really entirely driven by the rural areas. Come check out Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill. Great place to live with low cost of living, seasons, but a short winter. It takes about 8 hours to drive to State College, so I think Saint Mary’s would be a little further, but we have an awesome airport. You can also be at the beach in 2 hours and in the mountains in 3 hours.

  • Kathy at

    Someone mentioned Lancaster, PA. The downtown are is full of people, the arts, restaurants. I think you would fit right in and could easily find a fixer upper. You could walk to markets etc. Outside the city there is quite a lot also. Visit for a few days but not in the touristy area. I think you would like it.

  • Linda at

    How about moving in with grandma? This could be a unique opportunity if you like each other, as much as you love each other. Move some things in, put some others in storage…. and enjoy the time you have together. Just a thought πŸ™‚

  • Pam Clark at

    I stumbled upon your awesome blog last December. Your flocked tree, plaid ribbon and colored glass ornaments took poession of my souls and I HAD to have all of them! I can’t wait until next Christmas to put it all up!

    Your post today reminded me of the scene in The Dead Poets Society where Robin Williams stands on the desk and talks to the boys about how important it is to change your perspective now and again. As other comments have said, you will still be you, but a change of place or perspective can open many possibilities that one never even considered before.

    I, along with all your fans, look forward to your next phase. Best of luck.

  • Arlene at

    I am so sorry you are feeling this way and that so much has happened in your life in the past year! ❀ I definitely understand how you are feeling especially on the loneliness side of things. At 31 my friends are all in a place where they are married and starting families and I feel like I’m just treading water and waiting for my life to start.

    If you are looking for a possible place to start over I can’t speak highly enough of Columbus, OH. I live in the northwest part of the city (Dublin) but I think you would really love the downtown Short North area. It has one of the largest LGBT communities in the country, the city has so much to offer and is a really wonderful place to live. Plus it’s really not that far from where you are now so it would be easy to go home and visit your family!

    I’ll be thinking about you and hope you find your happiness and if I can answer anything about the city I love so much, please do not hesitate to ask!!

  • Sharon at

    I really have no advice for you as it’s a tough decision to move away or stay.

    Just sending hugs

  • Kimberly Westby at

    Why not move to Canada??, we are open, minimally judgemental. Actually move to Ontario, cats welcome.
    It’s insightful of you to reveal the ambiguity of your social side vs. your emotional side. Everything is not always how it appears to the others.
    Find an outlet, expressions is 9/10’s of felling well emotionally.

  • Laura at

    I’ve loved your blog for years. Your knack for color is pretty great. I think that somewhere like Pittsburgh would be a great place for you! It’s a city full of heart, just like you.

    As a longtime reader, you have commented many a time on being so far from things like Target, etc. I think the sundried tomatoes are the last straw, strangely. I think your happiness would expand tremendously with easier access to things you love.

    I do think you should stay in PA though. It is where your roots are and will always be.

  • Laura S at

    Thank you for being brave enough to share about your life! I know it is hard to do, but I have found that often just putting it out and verbalizing it can help tremendously! I am glad you are talking to someone professionally! And it sounds like you have a good family support system in place (I too love to cruise with my momma)! I would think bigger cities (not huge ones just bigger than it sounds like where you are now) might be a good start. I live in Richmond, Virginia and love it here, there is literally something for everyone and though you have the city vibes (great restaurants, clubs, unique shopping), you also get the hometown feel in the suburbs and even in the city. Its a perfect combination of city living and southern charm. But a few other options like that would be Savannah, Charleston, and even DC (though it is MUCH more crowded–which feels overwhelming to me). I hate to hear that you have lost many friends over the years, cause you just seem like an amazing person–but I think that happens sometimes as we age–just with moves, marriage, kids, etc. So hopefully you are able to add more to the bunch–making friends is that much harder past college age, but possible! Though it sounds like where you are has limited options. If you do move, other options may be “meet-ups” or even online dating. Though I am a big believer in making sure you are happy before getting into a relationship–cause that may be a temporary fix but ultimately you want to find happiness in yourself and not someone else. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the honesty and openness!

  • Kelly S. at

    I went through two downsizing cycles at my job last year – one where I was laid off and one where I was safe after finding a new position – so 2016 was hard for me too. It helped me to intentionally focus on the good things in my life (husband, health, my family) and to rely on my faith. Faith is very personal and can support you in those down times so maybe explore that more as well? I am really glad you have a therapist – they are so worth it! Who doesn’t want someone to listen and then help you? You are so wonderful for thinking of your kitties in your move – I have a dog and a cat and they are my fur kids so any choices in my life are going to affect them too. Wishing you the best in 2017!

  • Dawn Spencer at

    Hi Michael. First, I want to say that I love your more personal posts. They help provide a “connection” that keeps me coming back. I get bored with perfect picture after perfect picture. And don’t even get me started on the seemingly endless barrage of “look at my new pillow” or “here’s what my living room looks like when I take three steps this way”. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy the pretty pictures and I do find inspiration in seeing other people’s living spaces. I just also really appreciate a blog that shares things that run a little deeper. So thank you. πŸ™‚

    Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming and the question of you moving. My vote is for moving. You are very fortunate to have a career that allows you to literally work from anywhere. I would totally take advantage of that if it were an option for me. I also feel like you are young and now is the time to try new things and experience different communities. So much easier to do now rather then later. The older we get, the deeper our roots become, and the harder it is to make moves like this. I always tell my grown children that it’s like transplanting a tree. It’s easy to transplant a sapling. If done properly, they can usually be moved with few negative consequences. But moving that 10-year-old oak tree is a completely different story. I do agree with someone who commented earlier about possibly renting in your new city. That seems like a total win-win. You can check it out and make sure you love it before making it more permanent. Renting would also provide you more flexibility when the time comes to purchase your grandmother’s home. For many years we were transferred every couple of years (or sometimes even every year) when my husband was working to establish himself in his profession. During that time we chose renting over buying since we knew another move was most likely in our future. Some of my very favorite spaces were created in rentals. Being forced to come up with solutions that were temporary, without looking temporary, and that were cost effective, required a huge amount of creativity. It was really a lot of fun and very rewarding to create a warm, fun, and welcoming space for my family, in what originally looked pretty bland and nondescript. My guess is that you would be the King of that kind of creativity and it would showcase your talent even more so.

    Having said that, I also agree with the comment that you can’t run from your problems, to an extent. I believe you would need to clarify what is at the root of your unhappiness and be very specific about it. And then determine if a move could have an impact on those things. From your post, it sounds as if it would, but I do think it’s worth spending some time evaluating each point to be sure the root of it could be solved with a move and would not be something that you would end up taking with you.

    Finally, my suggestions for where to move. Richmond, VA, Savannah, GA, Lexington, KY, or Dallas, TX, come to mind. Although, I have to say I think Dallas would be very hard to beat. Two large airports to make travel convenient ( Dallas is centrally located, which makes traveling in and out so much easier than being on one coast or the other), the climate is great (they experience all four seasons), the economy is strong with many corporations relocating their headquarters to the area, and tremendous potential for collaborations for someone with a blog. It’s a vibrant city with many areas to give you the community you crave, while still having access to restaurants, art museums, farmers markets (some of the very best!), concerts, and sporting events. Whole Food, Trader Joes, sun dried tomatoes abound. πŸ˜‰

    I apologize for the lengthy post. I have never taken the time to comment on a blog post before but I have followed you for a long time and have developed a soft spot for you. I’m a fan and will be cheering you on in whatever you decide to do. xoxo

  • Jen Berry at

    I say MOVE! As long as you’re not “running away” but simply ready to move on to a different and new life adventure, I don’t see anything that is stopping you but fear. It’s always scary to completely change what you’ve been used to for so long. As far as being near family, that’s what planes are for, and you might enjoy visiting them more if it was only a few times a year. I know I do (mine are in NC)!
    I live in a pretty progressive part of Kansas City Missouri–very LBGT friendly, beautiful historic homes begging to be reinvented by someone like you, a Whole Foods being built a few blocks away from me, Trader joes the other direction, and literally dozens and dozens of restaurants and bars within blocks–walking distance. And about 10 minutes from downtown KC. I’d be very happy to give you a tour if you are ever in the area!

  • Pam F. at

    Move to State College (since you shop at Home Goods and Target) and I’m sure that Wegmans or Trader Joe’s carries sun dried tomatoes! That way you can hire me to work with you part-time:-)

  • Karin K at

    TRAVEL. Travel to towns that you think you might want to move to. You can find out first hand if you even like them. Choose places that appeal to all your interests, and places that have a good LGBT community. I’m taking a stab in the dark here, but I am guessing that where you currently live probably has a reasonable cost of living, so maybe places like NYC, the DC area and San Francisco might be prohibitive. So branch out – research places online and take a long weekend here and there to explore. And then blog about it!! I LOVE your blog, and I genuinely wish you much happiness! (And grandma’s house could be rented if you are far away and very happy when the time comes). Besides, man cannot live with WalMart alone.

  • KIM PALMISANO at

    I wish I had advice to lead you in the direction that will make you the happiest. I feel we each create our own betterment and happiness. My advice would be to sit and create pros and cons lists for all the choices you have for the questions you ask. Build on those and let the pro’s take you in the direction that may lead to happiness.

    I too am in LOVE with Sun dried tomatoes. If I’m not eating my own (much cheaper but not quite as good as my favorite) these are my ultimate go to! http://bellasunluci.com/products.html
    If you haven’t tried their pesto, you are missing out! I make a killer home made pizza with both of these, a few other items and feta! http://bellasunluci.com/products/bella-sun-luci-sun-dried-tomatoes-in-pure-olive-oil-sun-dried-tomato-pesto.html

    Keep your head held high and your thoughts positive, you’ll follow the light of happiness!

  • DessertForTwo at

    I’ve read your site for a few years now, and since we have a mutual friend, I feel like I know you. (Isn’t the internet weird like that?)
    I’m sorry you had a bad year. I really am. But onwards and upwards, you know? Take your new realizations and build a new life with them. You seem like such a kind, warm, hard-working sweet guy, and I wish you all the happiness in the world.
    When I think about it, nothing great in my life has ever been handed to me. Everything I love has been hard-earned and fought for. When I started blogging, I thought someone would notice I was great and tell me so, and then ask me to write a cookbook. Big fat no–I had to get it on my own. When I wasn’t happy living in a red state, I picked up and moved to a blue state. And it changed me forever–the new people you’ll meet, the new experiences. It’s a huge thing. I can see you’re hesitant to move because it seems like such a big change, but can you rent out your house and rent an apartment in a new city? Is there a way to ‘test out’ living in a new place?
    My vote is San Francisco, but that’s just because it’s my favorite city on earth. Regardless, move to a big city with a big blogger population and you’ll be welcomed with open arms. <3
    Much love and happiness to you, Michael. And thanks for sharing <3

  • Julie at

    Friend, you know I want you to explore and find the best sundried tomatoes available. Life’s too short to eat powdered cheese. I know it’s scary, but often the biggest risks yield the best rewards and I’ll be there with you every step of the way. Don’t wait for your life to begin, make it happen!

  • Char at

    I recently discovered your blog and it has quickly become one of my “must reads” because your designs all seem so full of life and joy so I’m sorry to hear that life is not going well for you. A life time ago I had to decide to continue to do what was no longer bringing me joy or to take a huge leap and try something new. At the time, a very good friend pointed out to me, “nothing changes if nothing changes”. So I leaped and thru all the new ups and downs I have never regretted my choice. In my heart I knew what was right for me. I believe that you know what is right for you at this stage in your life.

  • EI at

    Everything in your post says Move! You’re not attached to your house. Your friendships are moving on. A community that doesn’t give you what you need. I’ve lost 2 dear friends to horrible diseases in the last 6 months, and I’ll tell you what, it makes you realize how precious every day is. Don’t waste another minute. Take vacations in the communities you are considering-subscribe to their local periodicals. and visit every venue that interests you. Grandma could live a long time-hopefully! Don’t put your life on hold waiting. Good luck and God bless! And I love your blog!

  • Marji at

    Dear Michael,
    Your open hearted blog post and the remarks which follow make my eyes fill up. So much sincere and honest love. I know you will find your way. You must be doing a lot right to have the kind of people here who care about you. Be open. You are wonderful. Some years are the trough. Others are the peak. Soak up the love in all these wise and friendly letters.

  • Sara at

    I vote for you to get the hail outta Dodge… To a city where there are young, unattached guys waiting for you. More stimulating, challenging and lots more fun. HURRY UP. πŸ™‚

  • Ardith at

    Hi Michael. Sometimes it’s one single, seemingly small thing that tips the balance toward a life decision. And, as others have said, you are not alone in finding yourself at this juncture. It just means it’s time to move on, whatever that may mean.

    Also, as others have advised, figuring out what is at the root of your situation and subsequent unhappiness is wise…admittedly easier said than done when you’re trying to examine yourself. But, just as one small thing can create a chain reaction, so can one conscious decision.

    You’ve already made that one, by reaching out here. Congratulations on your bravery and openness. You are on the path that will take you where you want to go. Best wishes always, Ardith

  • Ann at

    First of all, after reading all the comments, I have to say that you have the most amazing readers. That in itself should make you smile…at least today. As for the rest, here is what I know. You have choices. Even though it’s not what you want, you are unattached and free. No job, kids, etc. to make moving difficult. You aren’t trapped or stuck…the sky really is the limit. So just soar.

  • Donna via Funky Junk Interiors at

    Hey M!

    I just found this post now via my email. Thank you for sending it along!

    Your instinct has been telling you to make changes for a long time now. But how do we know if they are the ultimate right choices for us?

    We don’t.

    And this is where trial and error, and taking big chances comes into play. Just like when you let your B&B go in lieu for your dream job. YOU DID IT! And are successful!

    If you can swing it, I’d consider renting elsewhere before you move somewhere. When we travelled to Maui together, you mentioned you loved it, but would like to see another area next time, yet I like to visit the same location time and time again.

    I think this mindset speaks volumes. You may not be the type that loves one spot for very long. So if that’s possibly the case, seems to me that perhaps renting short term is a good trial while hanging onto your current home?

    If I were to have a 2nd home, it would be in Hawaii. I’ve safely established I love everything about the climate, area, ocean, all that stuff. No question. I’d totally live there 6 months out of the year if I could swing it. (it’s all I could legally do if I wished to stay a Canadian citizen which I do)

    But I’ve been there repeatedly to establish that.

    I think with all your travels, if you dream of a place you’d love to visit again and again for varying reasons, you should trial out a more lengthly trip (like I go to Maui for 6 weeks), and really saturate yourself in that region. It’s truly the only way to get a true feel for a place.

    You will eventually meet people, establish relationships with locals, and so forth. Quick trips, while a refreshing break, do not achieve the same thing at all.

    Let’s just say, if I moved to Maui at this point, I’d have some basic roots already established.

    I vote to book a place to rent for a month. You can easily ship your cats from US place to US place with you if desired, but perhaps leave them at home the first round if you have a good house / pet sitter avail. You need carefree time to wander, discover, and just do you. πŸ™‚

    A house is just a house. But a home is where your heart is. Sounds like you need to grow your surroundings a little to discover where your heart ultimately leads…

  • Linda at

    Hi Michael, I think you sounded a familiar note with many people because we can all feel this way at times. Actually I have come to believe you have these moments to push you to a new place in life. You aren’t running away from problems, you are just looking for something new and fulfilling. I have lived in Maryland and currently live in Delaware near the shore. Two of our beach communities are Lewes and Rehoboth, which are both friendly to all people. Its not such a big move from St. Mary’s but enough to give you a new perspective. Lots of restaurants, houses you can renovate/redecorate and lots of activities and social life. My preference is Lewes, but Rehoboth is so close it is often hard to tell them apart, although Lewes is quieter without a boardwalk. Give it some thought, I think they are both great places to live, not far from your family, the #1 Farmer’s Market in the state, a great beach life but changes with the seasons as well. Come over for a visit! I’ll meet you for lunch!

  • El at

    Being the mother of a gay son I must insist you move to a Gay friendly and supportive community. Loneliness is an energy zapper.
    Since your job can be anywhere…take the plunge! Go for the adventure! Whats the worst that can happen?
    You can always move back…

    This was the advice I gave my son. He has never looked back. He is happy, healthy, successful and getting married next January.
    Try it. You may never look back either

    BTW He lives in Orlando and his support community is huge and it ROCKS!

  • Debra at

    Michael — I wish Amazon Prime could fix everything. It can’t — but it does have your beloved Sun Dried Tomatoes. BTW — I think that should be the name of your Autobiography (you’re welcome)! We are anxiously awaiting it’s release!
    Thank you for being open, honest, and real. Sometimes when we feel antsy it’s our “dreams” way of kicking us in the rear to remind us “Remember me? I’m still here and waiting on you!”
    I know you have something wonderful in store for you in your future. I can feel it. We’ll still be here — all of us.
    Can’t wait to ride the wave with you!

  • Christy H at

    I haven’t been a follower long, maybe a year or so, but I really enjoy your posts and go hunting for them when it seems like I haven’t received one in a while. I agree with all those that have commented on how I appreciate your honesty. I want you to know you have my support and prayers and I wish you all the best. We all deserve to be happy in this life.

  • JessB at

    I think your idea of splitting time between your grandmother’s and a condo is a great idea! You’ll have the best of both worlds that way. Plus, you can always drive the cats back and forth…use drugs for them if necessary! LOL

  • Hope Williams at

    Hi Michael. Like many others, I always ready but rarely comment. As with any job, they have the ability to both help and hinder us. I feel that part of you has not been challenged in a new, fresh, exciting way. I truly believe you need “new” right now in your life.
    When I turned 30, I was pretty much at a stand still personally and not a clue what to do. So my Christmas present to my self was a 32′ U haul, a trailer for my jeep and I headed north out of Fort Lauderdale. I’m 52 now, married 20 years, and my only regret was not having done it sooner. Best decision I ever made. (Maybe!) just kidding.
    One sure fire way to really get to know what you really want in/out of this life is to truly just jump in with both feet. This is your life. This is your one moment of your life. This is truly the only moment in your life that matters. Now. Take a chance on you.
    One saying I heard many years ago that helped me was simple and profound for me and I’ll share it with you and your readers;
    “Life is a search for answers. And everyone is looking.”
    I pray you enough for today.
    Be Blessed and Be a Blessing, Hope

  • Debi D at

    Please tell me where you purchased that great white vase. Also – wondering if you are talking about St. Mary’s Ga. I live in Fernandina Beach, Fl. So, hoping you are talking about S M, Ga as that means you got that great vase close to home πŸ™‚

  • Linda at

    I truly hope you are encouraged by all the lovely posts above. Yes, we are reading and caring and I’m a recent subscriber (and completely charmed and addicted!)! Have to add that my daughter, Ali, is a professional food blogger (Gimme Some Oven). In addition to her local friends, I know she has a lot of support from a network of blogger pals. They really “get it” when it comes to the blogging world. And she has built a network of trusted blogger friends. Sure, they are “competitors” but not in this forum. They share ideas, encouragement and lots more. Ali did a series of posts on being Single (the good, bad, just plain challenging parts of it) for several years and got amazing support from her readers. I know you will receive the same. Wishing you all the best and blessings in 2017.

  • Linda at

    My Walmart (blocks from my house – no judgement) also quit carrying sun dried tomatoes. Or so I thought. I found a produce guy and asked. They are now located in product section in zip top bag. Not in oil in a jar, but better than nothing.

  • Sandy Roggero at

    Hi, Michael! Love your blog, your recipes, the photography, etc.

    Probably others have shared how they made a new start. I hope my words can be encouraging, too. When I was almost 70, after living all my life on the West Coast (CA), I visited a friend in North Carolina. I had never thought of moving anywhere else, but within three months I had reduced a lifetime of hoarded treasures to 2 containers and moved across country. The move itself was so smooth I guessed it was “meant to be.” I am meeting lots of new friends, mostly due to the political issues of the day and getting involved in resistance measures.

    I hope you will find a path to your solution. Love your decorating ideas and photography. Hope life opens up for you soon!

  • KL at

    Thanks for sharing. I’ll chime in and say you only live once and take the risk. I’m from NJ and left in ’03 for SC, then FL –wanted predictable weather so I headed out to AZ and LOVED IT…no humidity, no winter, no bugs and great hiking ! I ended up back in FL because of the weather and low cost of living. Pick a place that has a a small city, I read philly above, Princeton right over the bridge in very nice…New Hope in bucks county in very liberal and gay friendly and you will still be near your family. IF you’re thinking furter south, n.carolina is hip and liberal in the Triangle area, Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill . Check out meetup.com to meet folks. Good luck to wonderful you.

  • PJ at

    Thank you for being so open and honest. I have now lived in suburban and rural areas, east coast and west coast. I think one thing that has surprised me is that in the rural area in which I now live, I have met more gay guys than I did before. It seems that upstate New York may have something to offer you. Have you ever thought of running a bed and breakfast? If so, I know a couple that may be available. Loneliness is a tough road, but things will change if you get out there. Best wishes…

  • Michele at

    So touched to read such a heartfelt blog entry… most of us sure know how you are feeling, at certain points in our lives. And being a mom, I just want to hug you and say it will all make sense one day..life changes are just a part of living and there will be many of them. Not always easy. I get it.
    But what a coincidence that this sounds just like my daughter’s story in the past year, many paralells. So she confronted one of her biggest fears..to leave our home in upstate NY, in December, secure a nursing job and move to Center City area in Philly. My son went to college there and her frequent visits made it a more comfortable choice since she kind of ” knew” the area, tho she only knows one aquaintance of her brother, from when he lived there.
    We told her to go, give it a try, and if it doesnt work out, come back home! This way she will never have the regret in later years that she never experienced living the “city life” and on her own.
    It’s been a transition, she was extremely nervous as the move day came closer, and still can feel lonely, with many days coming to her apartment exhausted after a long work day, having to be an adult, lol.. cooking shopping cleaning etc for herself, but I think she feels that she overcame one of her fears of taking the plunge and doing this (Actually I love that area she lives in myself!)
    You have alot of good advice and opinions posted in the comments. Hopefully some of them may speak to your heart.
    You want me to check my Walmart for the brand of sundried tomatoes? I will send them to you! ❀

  • Lynne at

    My only suggestion is that since this is your hometown and you are stuck in a rut there, I think a change of scenery is called for. Go somewhere new and different….and larger population…so you can be a new you. This doesn’t mean changing, just starting over and being who you want to be when meeting new people. And definitely try the online thing. Both my son and his wife and her brother and his husband met online…one couple in Denver and one in NYC. It seems to be a good option, especially for those people who are not into the party scene.
    And anywhere with a “real” grocery store has got to be better πŸ™‚
    But whatever you do, we will be here cheering you on ! Hugs!

  • Cyndy Serdar at

    Thank you for your heartfelt post. I don’t have any advice about where to move to but, I just think that a person who is thrilled reading your post, trying your recipes, and loving your decor should be as happy as you make me. I used to tell myself as I was raising my children when a certain stage in their life would be trying that I could handle anything (within reason) for a year. I say rent your house out and try living somewhere for a year. If that place does not bring you what you desire then try another year in another location. I guess we sometimes bring our issues with us wherever we go but it sounds life you need to have more opportunities to meet friends and lovers.

  • Sonya at

    Buy a vintage camper, restore it and hit the road! Become a part of the “glamping” (glamorous camping). Who knows who God will put in your path. He has a good plan for your life. Lean in!
    S

  • Janet -shabbyfufu at

    As an older blogger and the mom of two young adults…and someone who enjoys your immense creativity- I would just tell you that the years fly by in a blink. They really do! Go for it and spread your wings beyond that safety net, because in the end we don’t regret what we’ve done, but what we haven’t done.

  • Kimberly at

    Hi Michael: I’ve been reading your blog for several years and every year I notice an underlying theme of discontent. Before I became a blogger, I was a mental health therapist for over a decade. I applaud you in your search for answers. When I was in a similar situation in 2008, I moved from Florida to Richmond, VA. It was the best decision I ever made. My health improved as did my attitude. Once my attitude improved, I started meeting really great, like-minded people. Maybe you need a temporary change of pace to re-evaluate? I’m very partial to Richmond because there’s so much to do and the mountains are a 90-minute drive away. The beach is a 90-minute drive and we have a major airport. The people are very welcoming and every store you could ever want is here. Maybe, make a list of people’s suggestions and plan a few road trips? Check the places out. A rental in a different town might be just what you need. P.S. Introverts rock. Just sayin’

  • beverly e at

    There’s a lot of wisdom and a lot of love in these comments for you to digest. You have many people who care about you and so many options to choose from:

    You can rent out your current house or sell it. You can rent an apartment/house or buy one in a larger city. You can move within a couple of hours from your family, for starters, and move further later or go for it and follow the sun! With modern technology, you can still stay close to your family wherever you are.

    Make a list of things that you want in a city and do your research. Find the best fits, and visit. Pay special attention to places that have classes you can take, social activities that you enjoy, and a place more open to your lifestyle. You will bloom wherever you plant yourself because you are ready for a new environment and new challenges.

    It sounds to me like you have already, however sub-consciously, made the decision to move. A small town setting can be so stifling and stagnation breeds discontent. Being unhappy can also affect your chances of meeting “the one”.

    We’re all rooting for you, Michael. Hopefully, next year (or sooner!), we’ll be reading a post about “How Sun-dried Tomatoes Changed My Life”!

  • Kimberly ~ Swoon Worthy at

    There is so much great advice above but I wanted to add something because I really loved your post and how heartfelt it was (as a sidenote, this is why I love blogs – not for the ‘perfection’ but that there is a real person behind it all who struggles sometimes just like the rest of us.). The best thing I ever read was, ‘If you don’t like where you are, move. You are not a tree.’ πŸ˜‰ There is a whole world of opportunity and change out there. I moved from a small town in PA myself (although the other side, the Poconos) a long time ago because I knew I wouldn’t find my happiness there – tiny towns have few options and it can get disheartening. It took a few moves to find the spot I finally settled and it ended up being England of all places. But in between, I had amazing experiences, met some fantastic people and completely took myself out of my comfort zone. I completely agree with the idea of possibly renting out your home for a while to give you options or renting in a new city. City living is SO different from country living but you have to force yourself out the door, build connections, make friends, find activities outside of your home. I can’t suggest where you can live but living near an airport is a good one (I currently live 15 min away from Manchester Airport and while I’m not thrilled to be in a flight path, I love that I can get on a plane without much hassle). I keep in touch with my family via Skype, Whatsapp, Facebook, etc. It’s actually not that bad, even though I’m currently living thousands of miles away! Technology can be great πŸ˜‰ I think it’s time for you to just get out and explore, even if it’s just for a year or two until you make a decision. I only wish you all the best – you seem like such a lovely person. xxx

  • Gloria at

    Hi Michael! I have followed your blog for years and have found it very inspiration. I appreciate knowing more about you, it’s important to be known and to be seen. I echo what many have already said, moving somewhere warm and vibrant would have a helluva impact on your wellbeing. It’s important enough to try. What if you tried out another city by renting a home for week or month? Bring your cats and set a new course. It might give you the perspective you need and connect you with other young creatives. We all need community, I know that for certain! Good luck on your journey!

  • Bernice at

    Hi, I’m sorry to hear that you are sad. The one thing you should realize that the only person who can make you happy is staring at you in the mirror. The another thing I noticed is all the long posts in response to your post. Obviously there are a lot of people that feel a connection to you from your posts that might not live anywhere near you. I think that says a lot. Your blog gives you the option to move where ever you too. I moved with my husband 200 miles away from where we grew up and lived for 40 years. Granted we had each other but we moved to a town where we didn’t know anyone and worked in an office where we didn’t know anyone. My parents lived an hour away and my husband’s lived 4 hrs away. It was tough for a while but 16 years later we finally realized that we have done things we probably would have never done if we didn’t move. If you want to live near the beach, research a place you would like to live and try it. You can always move back if it doesn’t work out. You can always be touch with your family by phone,Skype, etc. Your cats will get used to new surroundings, ours did. You only live once so you have to take a chance now and then. Good luck! We’re all cheering for you! β™‘

  • Bonnie at

    Michael, you are obviously so talented and gifted. I enjoy your emails so much. You are very creative and I always love the beautiful pictures that you include. I’m so sorry that you are feeling so lonely and unsatisfied. God has given you some great talents. Please talk to Him and ask Him for direction and I believe that He will guide you in making good decisions for your life.

  • KRS at

    I want to tell you two stories from the perspective of two people who have felt the way you are feeling. The first is for inspiration/motivation, and the second is for ideas. Story #1: My husband was in a predicament not unlike your own approximately nine years ago. He was single and living in a place that was not adequately feeding his soul or his interests, and given the disconnect he had with the larger culture of the area, he was having a very difficult time meeting someone with whom he could connect on a deeper level. After years of talking about moving and not doing it, he finally uprooted his whole life and moved to Brooklyn with a very thin safety net. Three months later, he met me at a housewarming party in Harlem. Three months after that, we were happily living together in Chelsea. He was also much more fulfilled by his new job, and we were constantly doing things he loved to do that were difficult to make happen in his old city. We’ve now been married for 7 years and are living in Brooklyn with our two children. Making the leap was scary but ended up transforming his life. It meant leaving behind his mother, with whom he is close, and his comfort zone, but it was worth it in the end. With that said, NYC is a VERY expensive place to live and not without its own problems. No place is perfect, but not all problems are equal. Maybe you are ready for a NEW set of problems in a place that helps you shed some of your larger existential struggles. It worked for him and may work for you. I say go for it. DO IT. But, not without a plan….

    Which leads me to my second anecdote. The second story I want to share is my own, and this is more to provide some logistics for pursuing a move/finding your spot. There was a period in my own life when I was feeling in a rut after a bad breakup and a career shift that I was uncertain about, and I felt that some of my struggles stemmed from the place I was living. Similarly, there was no particular obvious place for me to move, and I didn’t want go somewhere only to discover that I was miserable there. So, here is what I did, and I encourage you to try it (because it was also a ton of fun and really good for me in other ways): I made a plan to travel to a series of cities that had interested me and to experience them not as a tourist but as a resident might. Air B-n-B could be your friend here. I stayed in affordable, residential neighborhoods that appealed to me (after much research) and wandered around. I did things I thought I might do if I actually lived there. To figure out the destinations, I asked myself what I thought was most important for feeding my soul and personal well-being. From those answers, I made a list of places that fulfilled a priority set of criteria for me, and I explored them one by one. This process helped me quickly eliminate some places that I had thought were front-runners and carried so many amazing surprises/cultivated so many new connections and friendships. Here was the twist: It gave me a whole new appreciation for where I lived, and it made me realize that the change I needed was in my job, my self-care, and my approach to living/personal relationships. I ended up staying and meeting my husband as a result. But, the process was a good one and led me down a surprising path to happiness.

    A somewhat random-seeming destination to throw on your radar: Woodbury, NY (in Nassau County, Long Island). Stay with me….It is well known for being at the epicenter of a very strong LGBTQ community, and its a quick hope to all the culture and creativity of NYC while offering a small town vibe and equally easy access to a ton of beaches (including the Hamptons). The houses are also adorable and affordable. The Long Island LGBTQ Center there offers a great connecting point and way to become integrated into the fabric of a place in which you have no existing familial connections or friendships. Just an outsider’s suggestion to add to your list.

  • Kathleen at

    You need fun! Give Miami a try then visit home 4 times a year and stay with Grandma.

  • Suzin at

    Grow you’re own tomatoes and then dehydrate them yourself! They taste amazing in stir fry’s and sauces and it is so rewarding do it all from the dirt up! πŸ™‚ As we all get on with age I can only tell you that if it doesn’t make me happy I’m not doing it so stop waiting around for everyone and everything to happen, and do what is going to bring YOU happyness!

  • melissa at

    Hi Michael, I can totally relate to your predicament…because I was in the same boat a few years ago (and we only live a couple hours apart!!) It sounds to me like you have lots of soul searching to do before you make any huge leaps. (BTWs – I read “The Secret” about 10 years ago on the recommendation of a friend of mine and even went so far as to make a vision board. I ran across that vision board last year and its amazing how much of it came true). I hope that you find the answers that you are looking for – I for one love your blog and ideas (dessert tonight is courtesy of YOU!) Good Luck and chin up – you’ll figure this out!

  • Carol at

    Michael, maybe you could approach your life like a whole house redo. You wouldn’t tackle the whole house at once, you would make a plan and work on the most important room first (relationship, location, etc). Like decorating, life is sometimes trial and error and the parts that were the most difficult turn out to be the best.

  • Deb (PaperTurtle) at

    Hey there, Michael. I read this blog post on my phone the other day and have been thinking of you ever since. I’ve followed your blog for several years now, and I’ve known of your personal struggles here and there. I just want to tell you that you are doing an amazing job! I want you to know that you are worthy of love and a wonderful life. The beauty you create in your home and that you share on this blog are a reflection of your beautiful soul. It looks like you’ve received a lot of great advice here in the comments, so I’ll add my two-cents worth. :o) As a longtime yoga practitioner and now, yoga teacher, I’m going to suggest yoga for you. i’m not sure what the availability of yoga classes are in your community, but I think it would be life changing for you to get yourself to a yoga studio and practice in that setting. Yoga will take you on an inward journey to remember your self-worth and divine purpose. Also, move to Arizona! Lol. Or someplace sunny! You are young and capable! A serious change of scenery would be amazing for you – seriously push you out of your comfort zone. And, what the heck? You can always go back if you choose. You have unlimited options and opportunities! You are loved and you are worthy of that love! There are brighter days ahead…don’t be afraid! Shake things up and make some major changes! And keep smiling! xo

  • Melissa Leach at

    Thanks, Michael for being real. Honesty goes a long way,,,especially when you are honest with yourself. You are young, have no regrets. Move on and live!!!

  • Susan at

    Michael, you were such a beautiful person. It’s funny because when I was traveling to see my daughters college I noticed a sign for St. Mary’s in Pennsylvania. I googled it and thought what a cute quaint small town . Not long thereafter I found your blog. Let me just say that you are a beautiful person with a lovely soul that comes right through my iPad. I have to say I did wonder about what kept you in such a small town. Now reading this blog entry I understand. You should do a feature on your grandparents house at some point. I assume it is also in St. Mary’s.
    Why don’t you lease a house in another area for a year and rent out your home and see how you like it. You of course will bring the cats. Honestly Michael when I first read your blog I thought you must be living in an area around New York City. Have you been to Brooklyn? It is the headquarters for Etsy. There are tons of creative single men in the area. There are hot spots like Williamsburg and Greenwood Heights. It’s right across the bridge from Manhattan but it’s a location in enough itself. It has all the shopping you would want. It is a little pricey but why not try it for one year. It certainly would feed your soul on a creative level. There’s a beautiful park called Prospect Park where my sister lives. Why not do an Airbnb there for a weekend and see what you think. Yes it is drastically different than St. Mary’s, but there are many good people there I think you would like it. Then you can just see what happens. Give yourself one year of adventure. Thank you so much for sharing. You were such a lovely and special guy

  • Leslie at

    So many good comments and suggestions..so this 66-year old will add hers. My first marriage lasted 17 years, produced two children, and was filled with loneliness. After my divorce I was single 11 years before I married again — I did not date very much in those single years but I learned one valuable lesson: my Creator filled the loneliness and was/is my constant companion. I urge you to take the 31-Day challenge. Find a month with 31 days in it, and read one chapter from the book of Proverbs each day. It will fill the emptiness, draw you closer to the loving God who created you, and will give you clear direction in choosing which road to take. Jeremiah 29:11 says “I know the plans I have for you, plans for good and not for evil…to give you a future and a hope.”. Sending prayers and asking the Father to give you clarity and direction.

  • Angela at

    I admire your honesty and your ability to put your real self out there. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers, my friend. Here’s to new adventures!

  • Brocanteuserose at

    Hugs. Just hugs for you. oh and hugs for the kitties. πŸ™‚

  • Nancy at

    Michael, I want to say that I love your blog for all the obvious reasons. It is always full of beautiful home decor, great affordable diy ideas, and yummy recipes, but I also love it for the personal posts you share. I have a son who happens to be gay and has lived away from home since college. He has lived in 3 different cities in the last 4 years, due to job transfers. He now lives in Bethesda, Md., working out of Gaithersburg, Md.. He spends most of his free time in D.C. He has struggled with his social life and work life and not being happy with where he has lived in the past, however, things seem to be looking up right now. I have never shared personal information like this online, I guess I feel like I can relate to your situation because of my son. I hope you find what makes you happy very soon, because you deserve it.

  • Phoebe K at

    Michael, I just wanted to offer my support and understanding. My mom and I think that you are just the cutest and I’m sorry that you’ve been struggling lately. My sister is in a similar situation. She’s living in our small hometown in Ohio and feels like there’s no one there with whom she can connect. She wants to date but doesn’t know where to start. She likes to say, I don’t want to go on a first date at a tractor pull! My advice to her was to get a part time job somewhere fun. Sitting around the house will rarely result in anything happening. Just getting out and about is a good place to start.

    I am a big advocate of either making the best of it, or changing it. I think that a new residence, at least for part of the year, would be a great change for you. I spend a lot of time in the Sarasota area in Florida, and it’s great! It’s a liberal, artsy community with warm weather and lots to do. Maybe you could find somewhere to rent for a bit?

    Good luck! You have a lot of people here who truly care about you. <3

  • Maria at

    Dear Michael
    I just read this blogpost today and even though I can’t help you I had to write and tell you that I think you are great, I love the way you expressed your situation and I wish you the best. Oh and reassure you that it’s going to get better. You’ll find your way to happiness.
    Love, Maria

  • Frances at

    Hi Michael, I’m on my wife’s Instagram she loves your blog and I loved this entry. We have 5 kids (14,12,10,8,6,) and live on Long Island, about 40 minutes from Manhattan, you should stay with us anytime, summer may be best. Our life is chaotic and we are constantly in the middle of something. I think staying with us would be frightening, exhausting, and refreshing. Our house is big enough that you would have enough personnel space to observe and/or being part of our daily chaos. You would probably get a few good laughs, which is always a good thing, Anywho think about it, we’re pretty normal, I’m a school teacher and guidance counselor and my wife is an account and works in Manhattan. We could also checkout houses and neighborhoods together. All the best to you. Lance

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