Become to Believe

I sit here facing the onset of a new year, much like I did last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, and so on…

This time around, though, it’s different. 

Today, when I say that hindsight is 2020, that’s literally true.

Tomorrow, when I sing “20 20 24 hours to go…” as immortalized by The Ramones, that’s literally true.

When I wake up on Friday morning, my childhood fantasies about having a flying car by 2021 won’t be realized, but something better will have happened.

Together, we will have crossed the finish line from the most bizarre and unsettling year we’ve ever experienced as our next race through the calendar and around the Earth will begin.

Despite its challenges, 2020 also had its silver linings. My word for 2020 was BECOMING, and while it didn’t seem too fitting as the year unfolded and I felt so incredibly lost, the pandemic provided me with time: time to sit and be, time to think, and time to shift my priorities and appreciate what I formerly took for granted. I might not have been able to travel, but I felt the sunshine on my face and the rain hit my skin in my backyard. I wasn’t able to see loved ones and friends as much as I had hoped, but now I am more present when I am in the company of others. I experienced euphoria and sheer joy by witnessing the return of Boba Fett, my favorite Star Wars character since I was 9 years old, in Season 2 of “The Mandalorian” and enthusiastically look forward to seeing more of him “The Book of Boba Fett” series coming in 2021.

Most importantly, the pandemic provided me with time to write. Over the past year, journaling gave me the gifts of clarity, acceptance, and courage. I freed myself from the layers of self-perpetuated bullshit and scars and blindness and indecisiveness that essentially crippled me for years and realized I am meant to live and thrive, not just exist while unconsciously muddling through day after day after day like a lemming or a droid.

Words are my life raft, my passion and my purpose, and dammit, and I AM worthy of good things and fantastic experiences.

I am more ME today than I ever have been, and this time, without judgment and without shame. 

Wow, I can actually breathe now. 

My word for 2021 came to me earlier this month with unwavering certainty.

My word for 2021 is BELIEVE

This will be the year I wholeheartedly believe in myself and everything I do as I pursue my passion of writing with all of my heart and soul. 

I believe I can successfully market an exciting project that will come to fruition in early 2021. Teaser: It combines my love of the shore and summer with my passion of writing and thriving, and the universe suggested it was time to pursue making this idea a reality.

I believe I can finish the two novels I’ve walked away from over the past year and use my powerful voice to create two very different stories that each have a purpose and need to be told.

I believe I can be more active by walking, riding my bicycle, or practicing yoga at least five times a week. 

I believe I can learn to surf.

I believe I can overcome my terrible habit of pulling and clawing at my fingernails. 

I believe I can successfully weave words together about difficult topics and chapters of my life in hopes that others in similar situations or who might be battling similar demons will know they aren’t alone.

I believe I can build a life full of wonder and authentic experiences by getting out into our amazing world, whether close to home or on the other side of the globe (when the time is right). 

I believe I can trust both my intuition and the universe for guidance. 

I believe I can embrace my idiosyncrasies and celebrate my journey with delight.

I believe I can make my eyes shine.

I believe I can serve myself first while no longer disappointing ME.

I believe I can.

So I will.

May 2021 bring you good health and all that your heart desires. 

My love and light to you, as always.

Thanks for joining me on my journey. I’m glad you’re here.

With gratitude,

Jill

“Become to Believe” was posted on jillocone.com and on soulseaker.com on December 30, 2020. Views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the writer, who was not endorsed or compensated in any manner by any entity; views do not represent any employer. Copyright 2020, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

PUBLISHED IN “FROM THE SOIL: A HOMETOWN ANTHOLOGY”

From the Soil: A Hometown Anthology, Published on December 22, 2020

I am very excited to announce that my poem titled “Boro Kids” was selected for publication in From the Soil: A Hometown Anthology, published by Exeter Publishing.

From the Amazon Sales Page:

Our hometowns raised us all differently. Our roots absorbed different values and experiences that turned us into the people we are today. Whether we realize it or not, it influenced our art in some way. Our first anthology is dedicated to hometowns.

From the Soil-A Hometown Anthology is available for purchase on Amazon.com in Paperback for $15.00.

From the Soil-A Hometown Anthology is also available as an interactive .pdf version available for $5.

“Boro Kids” is a poem about growing up in my hometown of Point Pleasant Boro, New Jersey. I wrote it in early September 2015 as a tribute to my friend Roscoe, a fellow Boro Kid, who passed away after being dealt a bad cancer hand at the age of 43. The poem ended up resonating with many Boro Kids who grew up alongside us, so much so that several inquired about purchasing custom canvas prints of the poem over the years since. I reworked the poem for publication in the anthology so it differs slightly from the original version.

Thanks for joining me on my journey. I’m glad you’re here.

With gratitude,

Jill

“Published in “From the Soil-A Hometown Anthology” was posted on jillocone.com and on soulseaker.com on December 27, 2020. Views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the writer, who was not endorsed or compensated in any manner by any entity; views do not represent any employer. Copyright 2020, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

Published in “‘Tis The Seasons: Poems for Your Holiday Spirit”

I am very excited to announce that my poem titled “The Gingerbread Boy” was selected for publication in ‘Tis The Seasons: Poems for Your Holiday Spirit, published by Red Penguin Books.

From Red Penguin’s website:

“‘Tis The Seasons – Poems For Your Holiday Spirit” brings together poems by over thirty unique writers that celebrate the many facets of the holiday season. From the stuffing on Thanksgiving to the Christmas Carols we hold near and dear to our hearts, this collection is sure to put you in the mindset to give thanks, bake some cookies, light a fire in the hearth, and curl up with the words of our brilliantly talented and always moving authors.”

The book is available for purchase on Amazon.com in both Kindle ($2.99) and paperback ($4.99) versions.

The book makes a perfect holiday gift or stocking stuffer, and shipping from Amazon is very quick. I ordered copies on Saturday and they were delivered on Thursday. If you order, I hope you enjoy the poems by many talented writers, including “The Gingerbread Boy.”

Thanks for joining me on my journey. I’m glad you’re here.

With gratitude,

Jill

“Published in ‘Tis The Seasons: Poems for Your Holiday Spirit was posted on jillocone.com and on soulseaker.com on December 16, 2020. Views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the writer, who was not endorsed or compensated in any manner by any entity; views do not represent any employer. Copyright 2020, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

Thankful for 2020’s Roller Coaster

2020: What a long, strange roller coaster ride it’s been for all of us.

We collectively entered the queue together in January and followed the long path that snaked through February. We stored our belongings and removed our glasses, hats, and shades and reached the front of the line in early March. We sat next to each other in neatly arranged rows and locked in our seatbelts and harnesses. After a quick safety check, the car pulled away from the loading zone and rounded the curve to ascend the first massive hill.

We didn’t realize each click-click-click upwards represented a faction of life as we knew it being left behind us.

It became more difficult to see what was ahead of us the higher we climbed.

We reached the top, looked down, and…..bam.

Insert appropriate expletive here.

The drop was immense, like nothing we ever experienced before. Our stomachs were left 230 feet above us as we screamed in futility. Some of us worried, some of us cried, some of us laughed, some of us got sick, and some of us were unimpressed, claiming the drop was nothing, no big deal. They taunted, “Is that all you’ve got?”

The closures, the orders, the face coverings, the scrambling for necessary items, new rules and regulations, the rise of the essential and front-line workers, honk parades, eating outside in tents, sanitizing the whole shebang…everything its own hill with its own form of up-and-down-and-loop-and-invert.

However, if we looked hard enough, we were able to find a number of hidden silver linings along the metal tracks.

The coaster’s trail evened out a bit during summer and briefly morphed into a straight line. Smooth sailing, but we had to scramble mid-ride to leave the seats to our left and our right empty.

We expected the ride to end, but instead, found ourselves at the bottom of another enormous steel-tracked hill that looms even higher into the sky.

This is our location right now, today, on Thanksgiving 2020.

We’re ascending speedily yet ever-so-slowly and are currently near what we hope is the middle of that second, massive mountain with no hand to hold on either side and the path ahead completely obscured.

It’s dark. It’s cold. And it’s no longer fun.

Everyone is screaming, but nobody is listening. We scream louder and louder until we drown each other out and all that is left is white noise.

Some are still worried. Some are still crying. Some are still laughing. Some of us are sick. And some are still taunting.

We have no idea when we’ll reach the summit or accelerate at top speed on the downside while descending towards terra firma, or how many bumps we will encounter along the way to this bizarre ride’s finish line.

For me, the paradoxical roller coaster of 2020 has certainly had its ups and its downs, pun intended. Love and loss, gathering and isolating, fear and calm, laughter and tears, beginnings and endings, empty and full, lost and found… the full gamut of the human experience is thriving in 2020, that’s for sure.

In all honesty, I am most grateful for those ups and downs this Thanksgiving, for they have shown me what truly matters:

  • My loved ones…family, friends, colleagues, students…staying connected and relishing the time I am able to safely spend in everyone’s physical presence, especially my nieces and nephews.
  • My daily life and the glorious moments of sheer awareness and indescribable beauty that I’ve experienced as a result of slowing down. I am no longer a slave to a “to do” list but mindful, awake, and enlightened.
  • My true self… embracing the person I am becoming and becoming the person I am meant to be. I don’t believe I would have found her if the coaster was closed for maintenance or never constructed at all.

I am most grateful for the wisdom to never again take anything for granted, especially my health, and for all that I have and all that I am.

Hopefully, we will soon reach the end of this unsettling ride and emerge from its tunnel as unharmed as possible. I don’t know when that will be, but I DO know that next year’s Thanksgiving is going to be one hell of a shindig.

Wishing you good health and the happiest of Thanksgivings wherever your table may be this year.

 Thanks for joining me on my journey. I’m glad you’re here.

With gratitude,

Jill

“Thankful for 2020’s Roller Coaster” was posted on jillocone.com and on soulseaker.com on November 26, 2020. Views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the writer, who was not endorsed or compensated in any manner by any entity; views do not represent any employer. Copyright 2020, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

Forty Years Between

It’s November 15, 1980.

I am nine years old.

I listen to Casey Kasem’s Top 40 countdown for the week on my radio while I play in my bedroom. It’s yellow and green, my bedroom, with flowered, embossed wallpaper and a yellow shag carpet. My uncle had just given me the hottest toy of the year, my very own Rubik’s Cube, and I’m twisting and turning it in an attempt to make at least one side a solid color.

Song number 30 is the theme from the television show, “The Dukes of Hazard.” Waylon Jennings sings of those good-old boys as I put aside the cube in frustration and turn to my Fashion Plates. I am a kick-ass designer.

The song “Guilty” by Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb is song number 29. For some reason, I mentally return to walking through the interior of Tampa Airport then around my grandparents’ Florida community, “Hawaiian Isles,” located in Ruskin off Cockroach Bay Road. We were there in May, when Mount St. Helen’s volcano erupted. I feel the warmth of the Florida sun and smile at the fiddler crabs who wave to me with their enormous claws in unison from the little sandy beach along the Tampa Bay.

General Foods International Coffees Print Advertisement

The long-distance dedication is from Steve in Boonville, Indiana to Pam, because “this was the only way he could say how he felt.” The evocative notes of “Could This Be Magic” by Barry Manilow follow Kasem’s narration of Steve’s letter. I think of the advertisement I noticed in the latest issue of “US News and World Report” for General Foods International Coffee and fantasize about drinking the classiest of coffees with my future love next to me, undoubtedly just like Steve and Pam must be doing at that exact moment. I bet they chose Mocha Mint over Café Vienna. After all, isn’t that what being an adult is all about, sipping International Coffees and going on cruises aboard the Love Boat with Captain Steubing at the helm and Isaac the bartender serving up Mai Tais with a smile?

I need to leave the countdown for a while because I eagerly want to help my mother clean the bathroom. She bought a can of Scrubbing Bubbles at the Grand Union earlier that week and I cannot contain my excitement. I look over her shoulder with anticipation as she aims the can then covers the blue porcelain tub with the magical white foam. I expect to see the bubbles racing each other around the perimeter like they do on the commercial, but the bubbles just sit there and drip. Some of them evaporate before she even has the chance to wipe them up with her sponge. Maybe the tub was too big, maybe they need a smaller racetrack. “Try the sink!” I urge, and she does likewise after she’s rinsed out the tub. I am left disappointed yet again as none of the bubbles have giant eyes or a brushy bottom, and they most certainly do not race each other.

I skulk back to my room, pack up my Fashion Plates, and set up to play teacher as Kasem announces song number sixteen, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” by Pat Benatar. I dance around my room, recreating the little routine my friend and I made up to the song while roller skating a few days prior. We choreographed the routine in the street facing my house and perfectly hit each move, popping out our hips then skating left-then-right-then-roll with our arms punching out as we mimic the Aerobics craze sweeping the nation but on skates.  

Crack that Whip!

Now Whip it, Into shape, Shape it up, Get straight, Go forward, Move ahead, Try to detect it, It’s not too late, To whip it, Whip it good! Song number fifteen makes me think of my most-recent sleepover at my roller-skating friend’s house. Her older sister is so cool, I want to be like her when I grow up. It’s in her rec room that we watch many episodes of “The Smurfs” and would witness the second-biggest televised wedding ever when Luke would marry Laura a year later.

John Lennon’s voice croons it’s just like starting over at song number ten of the week’s countdown. My dad recently bought John Lennon’s much anticipated new album, “Double Fantasy,” but he is only allowed to play it when my mother doesn’t have her favorite albums by Anne Murray or Rita Coolidge spinning on the record player in our olive-green family room.  

“Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen is song number four. My mind turns to those poor kids in Atlanta I heard about on the news, and I shudder while wiping away the tears from my eyes. Some of those kids are my age. I cannot understand evil or why anyone would want to take someone’s life away, let alone the lives of a bunch of children, and as a result, both my naivete and belief in goodness are forever bruised. I don’t yet realize why my young brain connects that song to those children.

Kenny Rogers. His hit, “Lady,” is song number one. I close my eyes and daydream about dancing to the song at my future wedding when I marry Boba Fett.

The countdown is over. I grab my diary and write about some of the songs. Later today after lunch, I’ll lace up my skates and roll along the newly paved street from my house to my friend’s house where will we make up yet another routine before getting ice cream without a care in the world.

……………………………………………………………………………..

It’s November 14, 2020.

I am forty-nine years old.

I listen to a replay of Casey Kasem’s Top 40 countdown from November 15, 1980, on my local radio station. Forty years have passed since it originally aired. I sit in the living room and write while the songs replay in succession. It’s brown and temporary, the living room, with paneling and ringed oval area rugs in all shades of browns and rusts. My uncle passed away almost two years ago, and it’s his living room I sit in. I’m twisting and turning and still try to come to grips with his passing.

Song number 30 is the theme from “The Dukes of Hazard.” Waylon Jennings sings of those good-old boys, now taboo and culturally inappropriate, as I put aside my grief and, instead, respond to a text message from my brother. I know nothing about fashion.

The song “Guilty” by Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb is song number 29. I picture with extreme clarity the baggage claim area of Tampa Airport and my walking route around my grandparents’ Florida community, “Hawaiian Isles,” in Ruskin off Cockroach Bay Road. I check Google Earth and it is still there. The eruption of Mount St. Helen’s is nothing compared to the events of 2020, but the fiddler crabs still wave to me in unison.

The long-distance dedication is from Steve in Boonville, Indiana to Pam, because “this was the only way he could say how he felt.” The evocative notes of “Could This Be Magic” by Barry Manilow follow Kasem’s narration of Steve’s letter. I wonder if Steve and Pam lived happily ever after, then I wrinkle my face at the recollection of the utter grossness of every single flavor of General Foods International Coffees I finally tried when I was in college, especially Mocha Mint. Being an adult is, in reality, all about avoiding cruises and the company of others in this COVID-19 world we are currently living, with both Captain Steubing and Isaac the bartender relegated to collecting unemployment.

I leave the countdown for a while because I am eager to spray the inside of my birdbath with FlexSeal. It’s a handyman in a can, and according to Phil Swift, it can fix anything. I spray the inside of the birdbath with the miracle-fix, eventually coating the crack with five layers while allowing for the proper drying time between applications. I expect the leak to magically be fixed, but the water ultimately still drips through it. I am left disappointed yet again as FlexSeal is most certainly not a handyman in a can.

I skulk back to my living room and unpack what I need for planning this week’s lessons, as I am a teacher, when Kasem announces song number sixteen, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” by Pat Benatar. I dance around my living room and recreate the little routine my friend and I had made up. I remember it step-by-step complete with the hip-pops and the skating left-then-right-then-roll with my arms punching out like the Aerobics people we now laugh at when we see them posted in our Facebook feeds.

Crack that Whip!

Now whip it, Into shape, Shape it up, Get straight, Go forward, Move ahead. Try to detect it! It’s not too late, To whip it, Whip it good! Song number fifteen makes me think of sleeping over at my roller-skating friend’s house, where we watched “The Smurfs” and the wedding of Luke and Laura. Our friendship has spanned trends, years, decades, and countdown after countdown. It was through this friend I met my husband, and that old house of hers is still standing. In fact, I walked past it on Halloween while trick-or-treating with my nephews and niece last month. I hope the pandemic won’t force my friend to cancel her and her family’s annual Christmas Eve get-together, where I get to see her cool sister, and her cool sons, each year.

John Lennon’s voice croons it’s just like starting over at song number ten of the week’s countdown. When this countdown originally aired in 1980, nobody had the foresight that the song’s lyrics would prove hauntingly poignant with Lennon’s life less than a month away from being tragically cut short. Forty years later, and I can still picture exactly where I was standing when the special report first broke on December 8, 1980.

“Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen is song number four. My mind turns to those poor kids in Atlanta I heard about on the news, and I shudder while wiping away the tears from my eyes. Some of those kids were my age at the time. I still cannot understand evil or comprehend why anyone would want to take someone’s life away, let alone the lives of a bunch of children, and as a result, both my naivete and belief in goodness were forever bruised. I understand now why my brain connected that song with those children, who I still think of every time I’ve heard it since.

Kenny Rogers. He just passed away in March 2020 from natural causes at 81 years old right as the pandemic shut down our everyday life. His hit, “Lady,” is song number one. I cringe at hearing it and am incredibly thankful that my husband and I did NOT dance to this song at our wedding. What an awfully cheesy yet quintessential melodic auditory representation of the early 1980s. And speaking of Boba Fett, he didn’t turn out to be my husband after all, but….HE LIVES, DAMMIT!!!! Thank you, Jon Favreau!

The countdown is over. I grab my laptop and write about some of the songs as I reminisce about the simplicities of being a nine-year-old. Later today, after lunch, I’ll don my outdoor clothes and wield an electric blower as I form piles of fallen leaves and pine needles in my yard before doing laundry and paying the bills.
____________________________________________________________________________

 Thanks for joining me on my journey. I’m glad you’re here.

With gratitude,

Jill

“Forty Years Between” was posted on jillocone.com and on soulseaker.com on November 8, 2020. Views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the writer, who was not endorsed or compensated in any manner by any entity; views do not represent any employer. Copyright 2020, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

Having a Great Fall

It’s been a while since I’ve updated, and that’s by design.

This cartoon of Humpty Dumpty has resonated with me all season, especially his genuinely content smile.

With the current political acrimony, the societal climate that teems with apathy and an overwhelming lack of compassion, the pandemic’s fatigue and ever-changing orders, and the days speeding past one after another with little time to catch my breath, it’s been a challenge to keep my head above the water line.

So I did the irresponsible, especially for a journalism teacher, but my peace of mind matters more to me than current events.

I tuned everything out and, determined to have a great fall, I channeled the smiling Humpty Dumpty.

It might not seem like it because of my lack of recent posts, but I am writing every day, and I am writing a lot. I’ve already completed two of my articles for the Spring 2021 Jersey Shore Magazine issue and penned over 12,000 words on my next novel (I’ll call it JD for now). I’ve also filled up two journals since September and I’m almost done with the third. At the end of each day, I have a small pile of scrap papers and post-its filled with ideas or one-liners or insights and I’ll tape them into my journal, my idea notebook, or my planner.

Outside of writing, I’ve been relishing the season by watching the leaves change and feeling the temperatures wax and wane. Instead of looking at news feeds, I’ve looked at my surroundings. Instead of posting everything I’m doing on Twitter or Facebook, I’m more present in what I am doing, whether it is taking a walk, raking leaves, or sipping a cup of tea in the afternoon. I’ve read more this fall and fallen in love with new authors and unique voices who inspire me to be a better writer.

This time of year always produces a Lupus flare, and 2020 is no exception. However, making time to rest and saying “No” when I need to has had a notably positive effect on my well-being. I’m still flaring and nodding off to sleep heinously early, but this go-around is different. I ironically feel more grounded despite 2020’s tailspin of mayhem.

This bizarro-world we’ve lived in for eight months and counting now has been difficult it is true, but hidden inside the chaos are little pearls of wisdom and enlightenment.

Go with the flow.

Tune out the shouting.

Seek out the good.

Put my peace of mind at the forefront.

Be in the present moment.

Hone my voice through words, oh the words!

Words, my goodness they are flowing, nonsensically fluent words and lists and sentences and paragraphs of blather yet rife with meaning, words of liberation and enlightenment and passion-filled lyrical cacophony composed just for myself or for a future audience, thoughtlessly penned stream-of-consciousness diatribes of both nothing and everything at once…

Words. Glorious words.

In spite of 2020’s disorder, parts of me WERE put together again like letters put words together, and words have helped me keep order.

Words have made all the difference.

Like Humpty Dumpty, I had a great fall, and will continue to do so.

I hope you do, too.
____________________________________________________________________________

 Thanks for joining me on my journey. I’m glad you’re here.

With gratitude,

Jill

“Having a Great Fall” was posted on jillocone.com and on soulseaker.com on November 8, 2020. Views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the writer, who was not endorsed or compensated in any manner by any entity; views do not represent any employer. Copyright 2020, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

Capsized

I take my first steps into today’s morning, and my feet are immediately submerged.

The water, it rises second by second and minute by minute.

The sharks, they start circling then snap at my legs as a jellyfish entangles my ankles with his long, slimy tentacles.

He stings my skin something fierce, the discomfort searing deep to my core.

The water, it reaches my neck as I attempt to steady myself, but the swift-moving current knocks me off balance.

A blue-claw crab with a hint of yellow threaded through its pinchers pinches my fingers as I struggle to stay afloat, but it’s not enough.

I’m not enough.

I desperately flail my arms, but the tide is too fierce.

I furiously kick my feet, but the water is too thick to tread.

I scream for a lifeline, but instead, impractical directives are haphazardly imparted to me from a blindness on high.

Unable to meet the demands I face, my head inevitably goes under.

I sink ever so slowly at first, then the full force of the ocean drags me downward.

Trapped.

I’m trapped and I’m drowning.

The water is dense in my lungs, and I cannot breathe.

I fail to stay afloat.

I fail.

The gulls, they see me, but they don’t help me.

Nobody helps me.

The gulls, they cackle their insinuations that the well-being of an inadequate singleton like me is irrelevant in such an immense body of water.

They mock me in unison, then take flight in every direction with no regard for my existence.

Along comes an octopus who glowers as he pummels my torso with each of his heavy-foot legs, then after three cycles of strikes, he disappears into the background.

But he is never really gone.

I am breathless… depleted… abandoned by all except for the sharks who feed on my flesh and the jellyfish who intensifies his sting.

Just as I begin to black out, a surge arrives from nowhere and heaves me onshore.

I crawl, gasping and spent, then unsteadily gain my footing on the saturated sand surrounding my bed.

I survive.

I weep as I drift asleep only to become submerged again by the vast ocean of unsustainability with my first steps into tomorrow’s morning.

____________________________________________________________________________

 Thanks for joining me on my journey. I’m glad you’re here.

With gratitude,

Jill

“Capsized” was posted on jillocone.com and on soulseaker.com on October 4, 2020. Views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the writer, who was not endorsed or compensated in any manner by any entity; views do not represent any employer. Copyright 2020, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

Sublime

Sometimes,

There are

No words

To describe

The incredulous

Beauty of

Our world.

The rising sun

Stretches her hues

To dapple

The current,

The ocean’s color

As the light

Shimmies

And dances

Atop the waves

Divine.

How could I

Have been

Created by

The same being

Who built

And I bask in

Such beauty?

The day begins,

The sublime sunlight

And in the

Sheer glory of

Being alive.

Taken September 7, 2020


 Thanks for joining me on my journey. I’m glad you’re here.

With gratitude,

Jill

“Sublime” was posted on jillocone.com and on soulseaker.com on September 7, 2020. Views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the writer, who was not endorsed or compensated in any manner by any entity, and do not represent the views of any employer. Copyright 2020, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

Long Live The King

I awoke yesterday morning to pouring rain pelting the house and a slew of notifications that had nothing to do with COVID, the Yankees, or politics, notifications that stabbed my soul and made me audibly gasp with sorrow.

“Actor Chadwick Boseman dies from colon cancer at age 43”

Rarely does a celebrity’s passing shatter my core, although I freely admit I cried when Carrie Fisher, Chris Farley, Robin Williams, and Tom Petty died.

This one, though. 

This one walloped my heart hard as the clouds outside my window wept all day long.  

Not T’Challa.

T’Challa, the soft-spoken king who packs as much strength and fierceness as any of his fellow Avengers.

T’Challa, the wise and noble warrior with unmatched agility and one hell of a necklace.

T’Challa, one of many legendary and inspirational characters brought to life on the screen by the extraordinarily talented Chadwick Boseman.

Chadwick Boseman grew up in South Carolina and wrote his first play when he was a junior in high school. He graduated from Howard University in 2000 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Directing. As a college student, actress Phylicia Rashad not only was one of Boseman’s professors but also a mentor. She secured funds for him and fellow students who had been accepted to the prestigious Oxford Mid-Summer Program of the British American Drama Academy in London. 

After earning his degree, Boseman taught drama and wrote several more plays while securing small television roles. However, in 2013 he landed his breakout role as Jackie Robinson when he was cast as the trailblazing professional baseball player in the film 42.

The roles kept on coming, and over the course of the next seven years, he would portray several other characters, most notably Thurgood Marshall and James Brown.

So, that’s Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall, and James Brown.

Three strong African-American men who changed history portrayed by an African-American man who also changed history and redefined the word “hero.”

Then there’s The King.

King T’Challa, also known as Black Panther, a hero in every sense of the word whose inspiration transcends race, age, and gender.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw King T’Challa/Black Panther on screen. While I admired his dignified demeanor, his comforting accent, his care for his people, and his badass maneuvers, what made the biggest impact on me was the aura of goodness surrounding T’Challa that I could actually feel as I watched the movie, an aura undoubtedly created by Boseman through the phenomenal application of his craft. And every time I’ve seen T’Challa/Black Panther on a screen, I’ve experienced that same feeling.

And all the while, Boseman kept his diagnosis quiet. 

We’ve come to learn through his passing that, over the last four years, Boseman not only filmed ten films during and after surgeries and treatment, he visited children who were suffering from cancer while he quietly battled the disease himself.

Nobody knew.

Talk about noble.

Boseman spoke at the Howard University Commencement in 2018 at the height of his health battle. It’s an amazing speech in its own right, but as someone who has long struggled to find purpose, the speech’s closing speaks to my heart:

…You would rather find purpose than a job or career. Purpose crosses disciplines. Purpose is an essential element of you. It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history. Your very existence is wrapped up in the things you are here to fulfill. Whatever you choose for a career path, remember, the struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose. When I dared to challenge the system that would relegate us to victims and stereotypes with no clear historical backgrounds, no hopes or talents, when I questioned that method of portrayal, a different path opened up for me, the path to my destiny.

You can read and/or view the entire speech here.

In the thousands of tributes posted within the last 36 hours, Chadwick Boseman was over and over referred to as the personification of grace and dignity.

That’s a perfect summation of this amazing human, who ironically passed away on Major League Baseball’s annual Jackie Robinson Day.

Death makes us all examine the trajectory of our own lives a little closer. When we choose to adjust our journey and live a better life as a result, that’s how we honor the legacy of those who made a difference in our lives and in our world.

I look at how Chadwick Boseman lived his life and all he accomplished despite the shitty hand that life dealt him. He never sought attention for himself but, instead, redirected the attention on others. He made people feel good about themselves and showed us what it meant to live in grace and goodness. 

Looking forward to my own future, I have no excuse for not aspiring to accomplish my goals. I will keep Chadwick Boseman’s inspirational example of dignity and perseverance close to my heart as I allow destiny to reveal the path to my purpose.

What better way to honor the legacy and the impact of a true King?

Thank you, Chapman Boseman. 

Rest in power, King.

Wakanda forever.

Wakanda forever, indeed.

Thanks for joining me on my journey. I am glad you’re here.

With gratitude,

Jill

“Long Live The King” was posted on jillocone.com and on soulseaker.com on August 30, 2020. Views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the writer, who was not endorsed or compensated in any manner by any entity; views do not represent any employer. Copyright 2020, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

American Writers Review 2020-A Reading this Thursday 8/27 at 6:30 PM

I am pleased to be one of the readers participating in the Asbury Book Cooperative Book Reading from the 2020 American Writers Review and Art in the Time of COVID-19 this Thursday, August 27, at 6:30 PM which will be broadcast live on Zoom. I’ll be reading my poem “Nightfall” published in the 2020 American Writers Review.

Hard copies of the 2020 American Writers Review are on sale at the Asbury Book Cooperative, located at 623 Cookman Avenue in Asbury Park. The volume is also available for purchase on Amazon by clicking here.

If you’d like more information or to join/attend, please see the links below. Hope to see you on Thursday!

Asbury Book Cooperative is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: American Writers Review – A Reading
Time: Aug 27, 2020 06:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89371338943

Meeting ID: 893 7133 8943
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