2023 #WriterWednesday Week 01: ME in ‘23

Welcome, 2023! I’ve set the intention to follow the example set by some of my favorite writers by honoring their tradition of #WriterWednesday and posting each Wednesday during 2023, and today marks my first post. 

In setting this intention, I am also allowing myself grace and forgiveness if I miss a week.

My word for 2023 is ME. 

Sorry, not sorry if that comes across as brazenly selfish, but as someone who typically puts the needs of others before mine, it is time for me to focus on MY social, emotional, physical, and mental well-being. Prioritizing my needs does not mean I am abandoning my core values of compassion, empathy, and kindness, nor do I plan to shirk my responsibilities.

I want to feel alive and energized instead of drained and depleted. 

Moving forward, when I face a task or a request that causes any sort of dismay in my soul or in my heart, my answer will be NO.

No, thank you. My needs come first. 

ME in ‘23.

In early December, I received a request from a small publisher for my completed novel’s manuscript with a deadline of January 1. I toiled all month, formatting it as they requested and ensuring it is the best it can be. At 10:12 am on December 29, 2022, with my heart full of love, light and hope, I emailed my full “Chapter One-A Novel” manuscript to the editor. I am manifesting positivity and goodness as I believe wholeheartedly the editor will select it for  publication. 

ME in ‘23.

My spring Jersey Shore Magazine assignments always accompany January’s arrival, so in between writing at least 150-words each morning for either posts or my next novel (tentatively titled “John Doe”), I intend to make progress each day towards those assignments. 

ME in ‘23.

After four years of living in limbo while also living through a pandemic, 2023’s arrival also heralded in a new chapter for my husband and I as we spent our first night at our old address in our new home as the calendar flipped its page. In “Avengers: Endgame,” Tony Stark said, “Part of the journey is the end,” and leaving our temporary place filled me with emotions I did not expect. I will take the comfort and the lessons that fueled my strength along the long and winding course to this moment and fill our new home with love and laughter while continuing to emulate my uncle’s example of being a good person. I am especially looking forward to celebrating life, especially my birthday next month, in our new home and surrounded by the people I love.

ME in ‘23.

I want to spend more time in nature this year, take more walks, see more sunsets and new places, and laugh alongside those I cherish more this year. And come the end of December, when I look back on 2023, I know I will say, “Man, this has been a great year.”

ME in ‘23.

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

With light and gratitude,

Jill

“2023 #WriterWednesday Week 01: ME in ‘23” was posted on jillocone.com on January 4, 2023. 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 of my employers. Copyright 2023, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

Grace and Contentment

I’m enjoying a rare moment of solitude and peace on this lazy October afternoon, a throwback of sorts to my carefree summer routine. In between sips of coffee, I write while relishing the sound of the screaming blue jay outside.

Like every educator, my to-do list of professional responsibilities went from zero to 150+ as the calendar’s page flipped from August to September. It’s been 42 days of nonstop go-go-go, and I’m left wondering if September even happened because it came in like a ferocious, pouncing lion and was over before I could even breathe.

My annual autumn lupus flare has settled in for its yearly nuisance fester. Energy depletion, fatigue, and pain are unwanted side effects, but I’m simultaneously grateful this year’s flare isn’t as debilitating as it could be. 

I’ve struggled here and there with keeping the ghoulies in my head at bay, but they are quiet today, and my soul is feeling the most at home and grounded in my body than it has in months. 

It’s a good day.

Autumn’s late afternoon amber bars of sunshine reflect off the changing leaves and absorb an invisible yet oddly satisfying aroma of Earth and fall time sweetness intermixed with the crisp autumn breeze heralding the beginning of the end of the year. 

Speaking of endings, I made the tough decision last month to gracefully end my querying journey with Chapter One-A Novel. I’ve got one holdout still in the trenches, but based upon the 200+ responses (or lack of responses thereof) I’ve received from my queries, I already know the answer. 

I edited and revised both my manuscript and query letter countless times and tried my absolute best, but it’s time to wrap up this 8-year-long journey with pride and dignity. I wrote a novel, and nobody can take that accomplishment away from me. Maybe someday I’ll revisit it, but as Tony Stark said in Avengers: Endgame, part of the journey is the end, and it’s time for Chapter One-A Novel’s journey to end.

My writing journey, however, is not ending but merely shifting its course. I’ve begun working on my next novel (tentatively titled John Doe) while simultaneously researching and outlining three non-fiction books. Each project’s potential is infinite, teeming with unique possibilities, and will hopefully educate and inspire readers to see and think in new ways. 

At least, that’s my hope and the intention that fuels my progress.

I am walking in the JDRF One Walk this Sunday with my 11-year-old nephew who was diagnosed with Type-1 Diabetes a few years ago. It’s an honor to walk in his name and with a team comprised of treasured family and friends while giving back to The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, an organization that has helped and supported my nephew in numerous ways. Please support my quest with positive thoughts or a small monetary donation (if you are able to do so) by clicking here.

Thank you for joining me on my journey and for your support. I’m glad you’re here.

With love and gratitude,

Jill

“Grace and Contentment” was posted on jillocone.com on October, 2022. 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 of my employers. Copyright 2022, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

It’s Time for Peppers, Life, and Dolly

Oh, by gosh, by golly… August has been one exhilarating whirlwind, and I’ve relished every single moment. Electric pain radiates throughout my body and a shroud of fatigue lies heavy upon my shoulders, but I wouldn’t change a single thing.

The pain I feel means I am ALIVE and living my one wild and precious life.

I traveled with my family to Nashville to help my niece move into her college dorm for her sophomore year. Not including too many details for privacy reasons, but her school is two miles from the heart of the city. Before move-in day arrived, we explored the area, including parts of her campus we hadn’t seen, parts of Nashville we hadn’t seen, and the adorable town of Franklin. 

Video I took on Broadway Street near Nudie’s. This goes on ALL NIGHT.

The Nashville highlight for me was walking over The John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge towards Nissan Stadium, the home field of the Tennessee Titans, and hearing my favorite band, the Red Hot Chili Peppers! No ticket needed for this concert! The full moon rose alongside us and I literally danced and sang under the bridge (pun intended) to about three-quarters of their show. And I also scored a tour shirt from the merch trailer to wear to their NJ show (more details about this below).

As we strolled away from the stadium and towards the Broadway Street area, the chaos of Music City drowned out Anthony’s voice, John’s guitar, Flea’s bass, and Chad’s drums. If you ever want to feel alive, I highly recommend ensconcing yourself in the Nashville scene, as I actually sensed the festive atmosphere pulsing within my bones and reverberating in my muscles.

Sidebar: Should you find yourself in Nashville, take the time to wait in line for Hattie B’s Hot Chicken. My goodness, it’s worth it. Best fried chicken and crinkle cut fries I’ve ever had.

My niece is a strong and independent young woman who chose to give up part of her summer to be an orientation leader, and every day, she inspires me to be a better person. Her orientation obligations resulted in moving in earlier than the rest of the campus, so we had more room in the parking area, elevators, hallways, and her apartment. Her jam-packed schedule also gave us all less time to dwell on the sadness of farewell, and instead of saying goodbye when it was time to leave, I said, “See you soon.” 

We stopped at Dollywood’s Theme Park and DreamMore Resort in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, on the way home for a day stay over. Upon walking into the theme park, we noticed with curiosity that Christmas decorations were hanging from just about everywhere. We happened upon a sign announcing that filming for a holiday special would be taking place in various areas of the park throughout the day and didn’t think too much of it, until…..

Dolly! Photo courtesy of my SIL.

drum roll please….

WE SAW DOLLY!

That’s right, folks! THE one and only, along with JIMMY FALLON!

Completely unexpected and truly an amazing. My sister-in-law snapped pictures of them as my roller-coaster-partner-in-crime nephew and I spied Dolly while seated on a coaster, of course, but would you expect any less from us? 

We rode every coaster in the park, two of them twice, and by the luck of the draw, we were seated either in the back row or front row on about half of the rides. Here’s my Dollywood Coaster Report:

We also rode the train, which was a restored World War II coal-and-steam-powered train, and got drenched on the rapids.

And did someone say, “Cinnamon Bread?” Named the best cinnamon bread in America by Travel and Leisure magazine, the iconic pull-apart bread made fresh at the Grist Mill melted in my mouth and was so good it didn’t need any icing, nor did I care about the carbs messing with my sugar levels.

After our park day ended, we enjoyed the pool and hot tub area before retiring to our room for the night, and yes, I happily slept in a bunk bed. Every item on the buffet breakfast at Song and Hearth the following morning was simply delicious. 

In my humble opinion, Dollywood’s theming, from the smallest of details to every single aspect of each ride and coaster, surpasses its Orlando and Anaheim big name competitors. Both the theme park and the DreamMore resort were clean and meticulously landscaped, and every employee we encountered pleasant and helpful. An affordable escape off the beaten path with less crowds and more value than its big name rivals, Dollywood quickly became one of my favorite places. In 2023, a new coaster called Big Bear Mountain will be added to the theme park, and the new HeartSong Lodge and Resort adjacent to DreamMore will officially open for visitors, so I have two good reasons to return to Dollywood!

We tooled around Gatlinburg for a few hours before heading to Virginia with a quick drive through Virginia Tech on the way to our hotel for the night, and we rolled back into the Jersey Shore on Tuesday with a suitcase of wonderful memories.

By choice, I didn’t have time to rest. The day I had waited far too long for had finally arrived, and I woke up on Wednesday, August 17, ready to pop with anticipation like a kid on Christmas morning.

I had never seen my favorite band in concert prior to hearing them perform from a distance while standing outside their Nashville venue five days earlier. The reasons for this no longer matter because I finally crossed off the number-one item on my lifelong bucket list:

I SAW THE RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS LIVE IN CONCERT AT METLIFE STADIUM, AND IT WAS GLORIOUS.

RHCP Set List from MetLife Show on 8/17/22.

The ones who have provided the soundtrack to my life since my high school years took the stage with explosive energy and sheer delight. I jumped, and danced, and sang, and screamed, and got lost in the joyous moment of every song they played, which was the absolute best set list of the tour, By The Way (again, pun intended). 

My concert comrades and I stood for the entire show, and it was just an electric, epic evening, everything I could have wished for and more. Anthony, and Flea, and Chad, and JOHN who returned for the Unlimited Love album and tour, playing their hearts out with a palpable intensity and exuberance, and constantly expressing their gratitude to the audience… it honestly couldn’t have been any better. 

The Peppers’ music has been my constant companion since I was in my teens and carried me through some dark and dismal life episodes. There’s something about Anthony’s voice that simultaneously soothes and energizes me. Time and time again, their music helps me cope with whatever life throws at me, either as a result of my own choices or by happenstance, and on more than one occasion, I’ve felt like they wrote certain lyrics just for me.

And they are still here, rocking with as much fire and spirit as they did when they first came together as a band.

I cannot wait for the release of the Peppers’ SECOND double-album of 2022 titled Return of the Dream Canteen in October. I sincerely hope a tour to support Canteen album follows, and if one does, I will most definitely be there.

Special commemorative ticket from Paul O’Neill Day on 8/21/22.

Since the concert, I’ve enjoyed a jaunt to Six Flags Great Adventure with my brother, youngest niece, and two nephews, and witnessed the retiring of Paul O’Neill’s number before a much-needed Yankees victory over the Toronto Blue Jays at the house that Ruth built in celebration of my treasured friend’s birthday.

I’m still relishing my carefree summer days while trying my best to ignore my school emails and meet my upcoming magazine deadlines as summer’s end looms in the distance. There’s a time for everything, and I’ve learned to trust the seasons of both my calendar and my life. 

I will continue to wake up each day with a zest for living and an intention to experience something wondrous each day, no matter the date on the calendar, the temperature outside, or what’s on my to-do list.

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

With love and gratitude,

Jill

“It’s Time For Peppers, Life, and Dolly” was posted on jillocone.com on August 24, 2022. 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 of my employers. Copyright 2022, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

Smashing the Boulder

I’ve been battling an unnecessary existential crisis, one of the many free gifts bestowed upon humans like me who are authentically human.

What began as nuisance funks the size of small pebbles rapidly combined to create one giant, overwhelming boulder. 

Innumerable legs, each with a different origin, protrude from this particular boulder, and they have been kicking me nonstop from every direction while the boulder’s crushing weight has squashed my sense of purpose. My futile attempts to defend myself or fight back provoke a harder and faster pummeling, and I end up reduced to a steaming pile of doubt and defeat.

The debilitating boulder, however, has now rolled into sacred soul territory by triggering a case of the summertime blues. 

I’ve waited all year for these two glorious months, dammit, and today, I wallow no more.

The only way around it is through it. 

As I crawl forward on my elbows, the megalith’s tentacles slightly loosen their grip around my ankles.  

Inch by inch, I will escape the squidmonster of stone’s grasp, then smash it to pieces. 

I will rise and stand victorious within its ruins, and my light will shine brighter than ever.

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

With love and gratitude,

Jill

“Smashing the Boulder” was posted on jillocone.com on July 1, 2022. 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 of my employers. Copyright 2022, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

Harbingers, Legacies, and Chapters

Image Made with Canva

I’m one of the first to arrive at my building, usually by 6:05 AM, because I write for at least 30 minutes in my classroom before I prepare for my school day. My writing mind is at its peak of fluency and creativity in the morning, and I’ve successfully used that time for its purpose on most days this year. Arriving so early provides me with a different vantage and experience than my fellow colleagues who roll into the parking lot later than me.

On Monday, I knew a yearly milestone I look forward to every year would happen this week, so I kept my sunglasses next to me on my ride into school instead of packing them away in my school bag.

With about five minutes left in my drive yesterday morning, it happened! I left the dark in my rearview mirror by sliding my sunglasses out of their protective case and onto the bridge of my nose! From this point forward, I’ll walk into school in the light.

It’s a simple turning point, but that harbinger delights me to no end. I can now breathe a bit easier knowing that summer dangles right in front of me.

But let’s back up a bit…

On the way from my house to my car yesterday morning, I listened to the sweetest singing coming from somewhere above me, a sound I haven’t heard since mid-September. I looked up to see a silhouette from high on my roof against the morning’s first light. 

The catbirds have returned, and their melodies are simply my favorites.

Spring is here, and it’s incredibly sweeter this year because it feels and looks more like how it is supposed to, like it did back before….. well, you know, the Thanos of our existence for the last two years.

I absolutely love spring after it’s done teasing us, as well as every single inch of summer. Having two events that usher in the spring actually occur on the same day was exceptional, especially since I haven’t been feeling all that great lately. Nothing to fret, just a nuisance lupus flare with associated fatigue and pain. I know it could be a hell of a lot worse, but it’s still frustrating to feel so depleted in the middle of the afternoon. I’m hopeful the flare is nearing its end and that things soon balance out for me.

On a positive note, this time of year also brings another celebration: the day when my students complete the yearbook. The legacy they build fills my heart with joy, especially when students from years past recognize the accomplishments of current students that I post in my social media because they remember the feeling of coming together to accomplish a common goal.

My students recently finished designing “The Chain” legacy board in our classroom, which includes photographs and staff yearbook spreads from years past along with a chain link for every student who has been a part of the program since the 2007-2008 school year. The chain drapes halfway around the classroom from the ceiling and is a visual symbol of that legacy. Each student is unique, each year is a different experience with a different book, but together, that chain is strengthened and lengthened by an experience like no other.

One of the chain’s names from the 2013 graduating class surprised me with a visit yesterday, and talking with him was medicine for my soul. Off the record, in my mind he just graduated despite being out of high school for almost 10 years already! Time is truly a thief and never fails to deceive me.

This young man’s story inspires and encourages me, as the foundation he built while within our school walls for four years served as stable blocks to build an extraordinary life of purpose while living each moment to its fullest. Another instance of the student inspiring the teacher, and I admire the hell out of him.

In fact, his incredible influence is like gasoline fueling my already fantastically flaming fire as I am actively revising my novel, which I’ve worked on every day since deciding to dust the manuscript off. In between work and home responsibilities, meeting deadlines for my magazine publisher, submitting smaller works for possible publication, and managing my health issues, I am taking my time by dissecting each word to improve every sentence while refining my voice and making the plot more engaging for readers. 

This go-around has already been rewarding and enlightening because I can finally distance myself from the circumstances surrounding the manuscript’s birth. It’s no longer a means to cope with grief, but rather, my undeniable purpose: to write the story I am meant to write with passion and with love. To quote a line from my original vision from the universe, once I write chapter one, everything will fall into place. For those who don’t know the back story, I titled my novel Chapter One-A Novel, and I know without the shadow of a doubt that everything will fall into place when I am finally finished crafting its narrative. The wave is here, and I’m riding it full-out to create the very best novel I can. 

I’ve got several other ideas in the hopper, but finishing my manuscript needs to happen before I can wholeheartedly devote myself to other pursuits.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, and Smashing Pumpkins, along with Sirius’ Lithium channel, provide the soundtrack to my life right now. And check out RHCP’s new album Unlimited Love if you haven’t already done so. It’s deliciously captivating, a lyrical masterpiece, and the return of John Frusciante’s signature guitar riffs brings us full-circle back to the band’s early iconic sound.

Sublime spring, you’ll never know how joyful I am to see you arrive in all your glory. I’ve waited so long for you, and my heart beats with fervent anticipation about what your chapter will bring and what celebrations await me.

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

With love and gratitude,

Jill

“Harbingers, Legacies, and Chapters” was posted on jillocone.com on April 30, 2022. 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 of my employers. Copyright 2022, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

A Hole for Everlong

Taylor Hawkins, 1972-2022

I cannot do better than that thousands of other tributes out there, for each is spot on.

But I cannot fill the hole that now exists in my heart and soul, a hole I never expected or can explain.

I never met you.

I never had the opportunity to see you on stage whaling on your kit with infectious energy or belting out your favorite Queen songs with passion and sheer joy.

And I never expected to feel this gutted and empty after we’ve lost you.

The value of a single life cannot be weighed, cannot be summed up in succinct numbers or data or percentages.

The value of a single life, however, can be felt in my heart and in my soul, through its presence and through its absence.

We’re all better off because your feet walked our earth at the same time as ours, but now, we’re all left with a hole inside us that will remain Everlong.

I don’t know what else to say, except this:

Thank you, Taylor.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

With love and gratitude,

Jill

“A Hole for Everlong” was posted on jillocone.com on March 27, 2022. 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 of my employers. Copyright 2022, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved.

Heavy

The pressure,

It cripples 

My shoulders.

The anguish,

It crushes

My heart.

The long dormant

Scars that are

Too deep to

Scratch

Fire and 

Itch something

Fierce.

.

I’m fourteen

Again, 

With the 

Formidable

Red dread 

In my head

Reawakened…

The Day After.

Summertime boycotts.

Shall

We

Play

A

Game.

Creed’s loss.

Drago’s victory.

Wolverines become 

Targets of

Helicopter ambushes 

While we

Devour the

Juiciest 

Red apples and

Pray for 

Happily ever

After and

Peace.

.

Same as it ever was.

.

But this time,

Though,

It’s heavier,

With iron-clad threads 

Of clamoring dissonance

And pandemic fatigue

And the injustice of justice

Interwoven with

Humanity’s

Frayed strings

And compassion’s

Colorless fibers.

.

But this time,

Though,

It’s for real. 

The bombs

And the tanks

Purposely target

The beings 

Whose only crime

Is an address

On a certain street

In a certain country. 

The missiles

Pierce the heavens

As the bullets

Pierce the skin

And the screams

Pierce the silence,

The lives of

The innocents

No consequence to

Him

Who values

Authority 

And 

Avarice

Above 

All and

Lives his

Happily ever

After no

Peace.

The Ukrainian/Galician/Balkan heritage in my lineage and in my soul called me to write “Heavy.” I stand with my ancestral brothers and sisters wherever their feet may touch the Earth but especially those in Ukraine.

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

With love and gratitude,

Jill

“Heavy” was posted on jillocone.com on February 26, 2022. 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 2022, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

The Value of a Soul

One of my students recently asked me if I would sell my soul for $50 million. 

I emphatically replied, “No, I most definitely would not.” 

They gasped wide-eyed, “But it’s FIFTY million dollars! You could buy anything you wanted!”

“My soul is worth far more to me than money,” I answered. “It’s not for sale at any price.”

“I’d sell mine! I need the money!”

“Do you know what kind of life you’d have afterwards?” I questioned.

“A rich one.”

“But another entity or person would own you and dictate your every move. You wouldn’t be YOU anymore, you’d be the pawn of someone or something else and your life as you know it would cease to exist.”

“That’s ok by me! My soul, it’s nothing, but money, money is everything!”

Our exchange left me disheartened, and I am struggling to find a way to show this student the immense value of their soul before our time together ends in a few short weeks. I’m even more disillusioned at realizing this is certainly not the only student in my classroom who believes his or her soul has no value.

As both a teacher and a lightworker, it is tremendously difficult to relate to such a mindset when my soul suggests I help when I can and to build someone up instead of tearing them down. I cannot grasp our culture’s ever-growing glorification of jackassery and shaming over compassion and empathy, nor the empty value placed upon “likes,” “followers,” and “influencers” who are driven by the almighty dollar instead of altruism.  

But this is what our world has become and the world our young people are growing up in.

What is another way my soul can model kindness and generosity when the mantra I repeatedly hear is, “What’s in it for me?”

How can I empower others, especially young people, in a society where perseverance or trying one’s best in the classroom are seen as detriments and the benefits from personal accountability and learning from failure are no longer revered? 

I’m sharing this with you today because I am confident that by putting it out there, I will attract a way to help my students be freed from the shackles of societal expectations and ego, and instead, spark their light so they can appreciate even a sliver of both their enormous potential and the abundant value of their souls.

I’m not giving up on any of them, for each has a uniquely vital and valuable light to shine in our world.

Please note that I intentionally used the pronouns “they” and “their” for confidentiality reasons. Thank you for joining me on my journey. I’m glad you’re here.

With love and gratitude,

Jill

The Value of a Soul” was posted on jillocone.com on January 23, 2022. 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 2022, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

As You Wish…

“As you wish.”

Most associate those words with Westley’s promise to Princess Buttercup in Rob Reiner’s 1987 classic film The Princess Bride.

However, Star Wars fans like me know those three words were first uttered on screen seven years earlier in the city of Bespin, the city in the clouds. I was nine years old when I heard the voice of the most spectacular bounty hunter in the galaxy speak those words in response to Vadar’s request that there be “no disintegrations” when hunting for the Millenium Falcon. 

As a little girl in the 1970s, I wasn’t a tomboy, but I also wasn’t a “girlie girl.” I fell in the middle, a misfit of sorts, and always sympathized with those toys relegated to the Island of Misfit Toys in the classic “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” especially the polka-dotted elephant. It might surprise some that this blonde-haired, blue-eyed beach-loving writer and educator has had Jedi dreams and a desire to join the rebel alliance surging through her blood since childhood. I am not ashamed one bit about my love of Star Wars, which began the minute I first heard the London Symphony Orchestra blare the main title while I read the quintessential opening crawler announcing that it was a period of civil war and that “rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire.”

Star Wars was deliciously different from anything I had ever experienced and provided me with a new way of seeing things. It was the first time I had been exposed to a strong woman who wasn’t being molded into a future wife or mother. Leia was a princess, that’s true, but she had a purpose much greater than her title. She wasn’t searching for a prince or seeking admiration. Instead, she was fighting for a cause she believed in with fierce determination and ultimate fearlessness.

Leia was my inspiration, she still is, and I adore her. 

I’ve learned life lessons from all the characters in the Star Wars franchise, but there’s one who stands above the rest, one who has lived in my heart ever since I first witnessed his on-screen swagger and cunning dauntlessness. 

Boba Fett.

The baddest-ass misfit mercenary ever to travel to the Outer Rim and beyond. 

Of course I bought into the supposed myth that after falling into the Sarlacc in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, the Sarlacc spit Boba out because it could not digest his armor, a myth that circulated well before the Internet existed. There was no way someone as bold as Boba would meet his fate in such an undignified manner! I also loved seeing him as a youngster in Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones despite the devastating loss of his father, Jango, at the hands of Mace Windu, and was ecstatic at finding him added to Star Wars: A New Hope in 1997

Fast forward to the here and now. 

With the pandemic clouding our world over much of the past two years, Disney+ has provided me with a lot of levity and plenty of escapes from reality through exclusive series that tell the stories of many favorite Star Wars and Marvel characters.

Case in point: The Mandalorian. Din Djarin and Grogu are one hell of a duo, but my heart yearned to see my boy again…and wouldn’t you know, my wish was granted! I knew those were Boba Fett’s boots in Season 1, Episode 5 of The Mandalorian, and when my long-lost hero and his iconic ship Slave-1 finally graced the screen in Season 2, I went absolutely bananas. 

Boba the freaking Fett. 

He lived.

Or should I say, he lives.

Seeing him on-screen again (excellently portrayed by the ever-talented Temuera Morris, who played Jango in Attack from the Clones) in several Season 2 episodes with Fennec Shan at his side as they helped Din and Cara Dune protect Grogu pleased me to no end, but then the unbelievable happened: a credits scene in The Mandalorian’s season 2 finale episode depicted Boba and Fennec taking over Jabba the Hut’s throne on Tatooine then revealed that The Book of Boba Fett would be coming soon.

Holy. Freaking. Crap.

As I wished.

A little over a year has passed since that monumental Mandalorian moment, and today, thanks to the commitment and imagination of Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni (and a host of others), today I’ll be watching the season premiere of The Book of Boba Fett through the innocent eyes of that little, blond-haired nine-year-old. 

He is Boba Fett, and from what I’ve been told, he intends to rule with respect.

Today my dreams come true, and I shamelessly become a child once again.

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

With love and gratitude,

Jill

“As You Wish” was posted on jillocone.com on December 29, 2021, with parts of it originally published in “A New Hope, Indeed,” on December 14, 2019 . 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 2021, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

Someday…

I tried to write a post this morning that I hoped would provide you with contentment and encouragement, but I feel like I failed. Here’s the best I can do …

Most of us have had to pivot our plans this holiday season, which left our hearts mourning the loss of so many cherished traditions. 

The magic…it’s been different for certain this go-around. Those who were able to celebrate the season felt it just as much as those whose plans are currently on hold. 

It’s not just you.

It’s not just me.

It’s all of us

We’re all in the same boat with COVID as our captain, and we need to do our best to keep ourselves and those we love safe.

It’s just how it is right now, but you know what?

Eventually, that COVID captain will retire. He will someday relinquish the helm and leave his boat tied up to the mooring forevermore.

And that will be an absolutely glorious day. 

We will once again be able to celebrate life’s little and big moments with those we treasure, and our sense of the value of the present moment will be earnestly renewed. Our hearts will be happier, our hugs will quadruple in warmth, and our souls will be teeming with joy and love tenfold. 

Someday, that day will come. My heart believes in it.

I hope your heart does, too.

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

With love and gratitude,

Jill

“Someday” was posted on jillocone.com on December 26, 2021. 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 2021, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.