The Gift of the Forever Moment

If you happened to catch any of last night’s Field of Dreams game coverage, where the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox played the first ever MLB game in Iowa to honor the lasting legacy of the film “Field of Dreams,” perhaps you shed a tear at some point like I did.

Credit: Getty Images/Stacy Revere; posted by Newsday.com

Hopefully, you didn’t shed a thousand or more (and counting, I might add), like me.

Last night’s game was a throwback to a time when life was simpler and the good outweighed the bad. We collectively paused to enjoy a ball game between two teams, but there was more going on than just baseball.

And just like in the movie “Field of Dreams,” more was happening than just what we saw on the field.

It was a catharsis, an awakening, an emotional roller coaster ride highlighting the power of the present moment sprinkled with nostalgia and resulting in an experience unlike that of any other game I’ve ever watched.

The awe and wonder and excitement on each player’s face as they strolled around the original field and house from the movie set and the cornfields surrounding the play field… grown men looked like children with boyish grins full of innocence and authenticity, no matter which uniform they wore or how hard life may have treated them in the past.

We escaped society’s acrimony and noise for a few hours and, instead, focused on the gift of the forever moment and the treasure of a single day, as Kevin Costner so eloquently narrated in his introduction

Our imaginations are infinite..

Sculpting a baseball diamond from a farmer’s field in Iowa.

Longing for summer as seasons are painted on its canvas.

Once this game and this land touches you, the wind never blows so hard again.

“Hey, Dad?” Want to have a catch?”

“I’d like that.”

I’m Kevin Costner, and on this field, we once made a movie about dreams … of baseball and years gone by, and much more.

A tale of love, family, character.

The treasure of a single day.

America has embraced the heroes of our youth for over a century. Those who ran on grass so green it took your breath away…touching bases as white as clouds

Tonight, we pause time. 

In the warmth of August, two major league teams gift us the forever moment; the White Sox, the Yankees.

Come to our Field of Dreams and play ball.

Baseball united us last night, no matter what team we religiously cheer for, with every at-bat and every home run hit into the cornfield.

My team should have won, as the Yankees had the lead in the top of the ninth inning, but a swing by the Sox’s Tim Anderson scripted a Hollywood-style ending: a walk-off two-run homer to win the game in the bottom of the ninth, complete with fireworks.

Despite my team’s loss, I cheered and clapped and wept tears of joy because of the moment’s incredible magnitude, a culmination of the night’s immense emotions and how baseball, yet again, brought us all together.

“And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again. Oh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.” – Terence Mann

It was baseball that gave us something to look forward to, a diversion from the dark days after 9-11, when the crack of Mike Piazza’s bat as he launched a home run that was heard around the nation and when Derek Jeter became “Mr. November.” Sidebar: I highly recommend watching ESPN’s “30 for 30: First Pitch,” if you have already seen it, which tells the story of President Bush throwing the first pitch at Yankee Stadium during the 2001 World Series. Politics aside, it’s one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen, one that truly captures the gamut of emotions we all felt as we tried to move on with our lives after such a horrific event.

It was baseball that provided a reprieve from lockdown last summer as MLB players were some of the first professional athletes to return to the field. Even with silly cardboard cutout fans filling some of the empty seats and piped-in fake fan noise, we looked to the return of baseball games as a step towards returning to normalcy.

It’s baseball stickers that fill my planner every autumn when the postseason, my favorite sports time of the year, begins. Even when my Yankees do not move on or outright miss the playoffs, I root-root-root for sometimes the home team and sometimes the visiting team as each player on every field pursues their childhood dream of winning the coveted world series ring. 

Back to “Field of Dreams”…

The movie’s premise about a ball field in the middle of a cornfield where ghosts convened to play America’s game is incredibly unbelievable, but that’s the beauty of the film.

Many of our dreams seem unbelievable, like Ray’s, but he did the impossible, the unconventional. He followed his dream, built the field, and they came.

Ray Kinsella made the unbelievable believable.

And 33 years after Ray built his field of dreams on the big screen, Kevin Costner led the Yankees and Sox players onto a neighboring field in front of 8,000 fans in the bleachers and millions of us at home, all because of the lasting impression of a single film with a universal theme.

How many of us can say that about our own dreams? How many of us are willing to put in the work necessary to do the unbelievable like Ray did and make our dreams a reality?

In the quintessential ending scene of the movie, Ray Kinsella and his father, John Kinsella, finally have a catch with each other, making their private personal dreams come true.

How many of us have an ongoing list of the undone things in our life? How many of us, when presented with the opportunity, will make our undone things done?

Behind Ray and John, a line of headlights stretching for miles makes its way to the field.

Ray built it, and not only did he come, but they came. How many of us actually listen to our intuition and attempt to do the impossible?

The Field of Dreams game was so much more than a game.

It was, indeed, like I was dipped in magic water.

It was a pause in time, a gift of the forever moment that amplified the power of the present moment.

It was a reminder of who I used to be, who I am, and most importantly, who I can be.

It was a reminder to love unconditionally and to always treat others with kindness and compassion.

It was a reminder to never lose that sense of wonder or awe in believing each day, each moment, is a treasure.

It was a reminder of a simple moment’s lasting magnitude, such as having a catch with someone we hold dear, or spending time with those we love doing what we love.

It was a reminder to pursue my dreams, no matter how far-fetched they may seem, and to believe in the dreams of others.

It was a reminder of all that once was good and could be again.

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

With gratitude,

Jill

“The Gift of the Forever Moment” was posted on jillocone.com and on soulseaker.com on August 13, 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.

Floating Along …

I recently heard a song with lyrics that I don’t remember word for word, but they had to do with floating. Something like I’m floating along the waves and I’ll be back soon…

That’s been my theme this summer. 

I’m floating along the waves, and I’ll be back soon.

Floating along my summer waves has led me to much needed peace of mind, and I’ve floated along to some wonderful places and wonderful experiences with wonderful people in my life.

I floated along a whirlwind road trip dubbed “Roller Coaster Palooza” with my 16-year-old nephew and visited seven amusement parks in six days. We rode 29 different roller coasters, logged a total of 42 roller coaster rides (and several other rides, including Demon Drop at Dorney, which is just like the former Freefall ride at Six Flags Great Adventure and a ride I vowed to never try), traveled over 500 miles, and walked 31 miles. We visited Six Flags Great Adventure (our home park), Dutch Wonderland, HersheyPark, Knoebels, Dorney Park, Land of Make Believe, and Nickelodeon Universe at American Dream, which had the most intense coaster of them all, TMNT Shell Raiser. Boy, was that a doozie! We rode it three times and I recommend the back row, which was a smoother ride than sitting in the front row. My favorite coasters along the Roller Coaster Palooza Float Plan were Twister and Impulse at Knoebels, Steel Force/Talon/Hydra The Revenge at Dorney, HersheyPark’s Great Bear and Storm Runner, and Jersey Devil, of course. I actually think I’m ready to try Kingda Ka.

Maybe. 

I floated along several outings with friends, including riding the Circle Line around New York City like tourists and the least expected yet most exceptional event of the summer: seeing Guns ‘N Roses and Mammoth WVH in concert at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford.

You read that right. 

Guns ‘N Freaking Roses.

And it was THE Guns N’ Roses I grew up with… Axl, Slash, Duff (DUFF!), and Dizzy alongside newer band members.

While many people criticized Axl’s voice, I thought he was real and simply wonderful. They can still rock, that’s for sure, and to see Slash jam live….man, can he play the guitar! I loved every single part of the concert, including Mammoth WVF’s opening set. Wolf Van Halen and crew performed a hell of an opener. My favorite songs of the night were Mammouth’s “Distance” and GNR’s “November Rain” and their encore of “Patience” and “Paradise City.” I might not remember what the hell I did yesterday, but I remembered every word of the songs I grew up listening to, and I screamed them loud and proud…what a satisfyingly sensational evening.

I’ve been floating along the local streets on my morning bicycle rides up to the boardwalk with the ocean on my right then down to the Inlet, where the fishing vessels and party boats sailing out to sea provide the backdrop to the morning anglers and the diving terns where I write in my journal and stand for reveille at the Coast Guard Station, if I’m there, before heading back home and logging 5ish miles of activity.

I’ve been floating in the ocean’s waves, literally, by swimming and by fishing with my husband. I am enthusiastically eager for my first surfing lesson this weekend. The ocean, she’s always called to me, and I expect to make a giant mess of myself, but I don’t care. I’ll be doing something I’ve always wanted to try.

I’ve been floating with my niece and checking off our “summer living lists,” savoring every moment we are together as she’s Nashville bound for college later this month. 

I’ve been floating with all of my nieces and nephews on our “special days” together as we laugh while creating memories.

I’ve been floating with family and treasured friends at baseball games, shopping jaunts, get-togethers, and meals together.

I’ve been floating my words and setting them free on paper and on screen. Despite most being unread by anyone except for me, they are there, collecting and forming something worthy, I hope.

Floating has cleaned out the gunk from my mind and the ghoulies from my soul, and I’ve floated back to myself. 

Before September’s hustle and bustle begins, I’ll be floating, still floating along the waves. 

I’ll be back soon. 

I promise.

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

With gratitude,

Jill

“Floating Along…” was posted on jillocone.com and on soulseaker.com on August 11, 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.

Straightening My Crown Alongside Nine Fantastic Women Writers

I am elated to share that my essay titled “Unlocking Level L” was selected for publication in the anthology Straightening Her Crown: Encouraging Words from Sister to Sister, published by Cheryl Barton Publishing, LLC.

My essay began as a scribbled post earlier this year to celebrate turning fifty years old. When the universe led me to the submission call for Straightening Her Crown, my instincts told me to submit it, and I always listen to both the universe and my instincts. A few days later, I received the acceptance email from Cheryl and I cried. Many other women would now read my words, and I hope each celebrates the milestone of turning fifty instead of dreading it.

From the Amazon description of the book, Straightening Her Crown is “a testament that not all women see each other as competition, but as a means to a smile. This book anthology is a symbol of love and devotion to seeing all women soar. Helping a woman keep her crown straight is not about self, but about being selfless with your heart. What is her crown? It’s not just a jeweled tiara on her head. It’s her self-esteem, her wealth, her health, her well-being; it’s her life. It’s everything that a woman is that, at times, may not represent her at her best.”

My work appears alongside the words from nine other sensational women, including Cheryl Barton, Treesa Boyce-Gaither, Nichole Wallace, Terry Beamon, JoAnn Wilson, Sally Quon, Michele Mekel, Shannon Scott, and Tamara Harvey.

You can order your copy of Straightening Her Crown: Encouraging Words from Sister to Sister from Amazon by clicking here. I’d be happy to sign your copy!

I’ve been wildly treading water the past few weeks but barely have kept my head above the waterline. The finish line is in sight, though, and I look forward to sharing more updates and more of my writing with you over the summer.

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

With gratitude,

Jill

“Straightening My Crown Alongside Nine Fantastic Women Writers” was posted on jillocone.com and on soulseaker.com on June 19, 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.

My Reality Is Living…And Writing…

A secret little spot I discovered on one of my more recent walks. Others have discovered it, too.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, so I figure an update is in order. My lack of posts should not be interpreted that I am not writing. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite. I’m working on editorial work for another round of deadlines, and I happily received three writing acceptances over the past month for three creative fiction/essay pieces. I’ll announce details as each publication is released. It felt great to sign my second official writing contract for one of the publications. The acceptances make the bitter pill of rejections easier to swallow, and believe me, there have been more of those than there have been acceptances.

I am also working on the draft of my second novel and a non-fiction book with my nephew, N. Research takes time, and the payoff will be our fact-finding research mission over the summer for our project, which will hopefully be ready to share near the holidays.

All of my nieces and nephews are the apples of my eye, and it’s been a month filled with birthday celebrations, graduation dress shopping, and baseball games. What a difference from a year ago when none of these events could happen. I relish the opportunity to support each of them and celebrate alongside them in person. Zoom birthday parties don’t cut it, and singing to each of them in person makes my heart beat the happiest. My monthly calendars have a lot more things written on them than they did a year ago, and for that, I am extremely grateful.

While my school has been open and I’ve been teaching from my classroom most of the school year (and days I was not physically present in my classroom I actively taught from my home), my students will soon return 5 days a week in a newly reconfigured classroom that can now fit them all safely. I am soooooo looking forward to welcoming them back while also teaching simultaneously to the students who will stay full remote. Sidebar: It drives me nuts when I hear the mantras “Open the schools!” or “Get those teachers back to work!” Ummmm, I HAVE been working the hardest I ever have, and my school HAS been open this entire time. To those who fling judgmental comments from your keyboard, please shut the hell up. Just shut up. I go above and beyond to do my job well (WITH health issues, I might add), so take your judgment and your diatribes elsewhere and find some other profession to hurl your hatred at. I’ve had it with you, and so have the countless educators who DO THEIR JOB just like me. JUST SHUT THE HELL UP and move on.

I am also fully vaccinated. No major side effects, even with a compromised immune system, but I’d rather deal with side effects than contracting the virus again. I chose to get the vaccine because want to have a life. I want to do things. I want to keep those I come into contact with safer than they would be if I didn’t have the vaccine. Getting it was the right choice for me, and I completely respect your choice, too. (See what I did there? I didn’t condemn you if your opinion differs from mine. I still respect you! Imagine that…civility despite disagreeing! It CAN be done!)

My daily walks provide me time to enjoy the present moment and either take in the wonderfully colorful scenery painted by spring’s vivid palette if the weather is conducive to walking outside, or to reading if I walk inside on the treadmill. My walks have become a necessity for my peace of mind, and while the weight is staying put because of my medication, the activity is still beneficial to my mental well-being and to strengthening my legs. I’m battling a bit of a flare, and forcing myself to walk on days I’d rather stay put on the couch helps keep some of my Lupus symptoms at bay.

As Qui-Gon Jinn said in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, “Your focus determines your reality.” Right now, I have two focuses. One is to be a good person who squeezes as much life out of each day as possible. That focus trickles down to making as many memories with the people I love as possible and to being the best teacher I can for my students.

My other focus is writing. Writing writing writing writing writing writing writing. And then some.

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

With gratitude,

Jill

“My Reality Is Living…And Writing…” was posted on jillocone.com and on soulseaker.com on April 18, 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

Letting The Light In

I’ve been writing little snippets of recollections on sticky notes all week long as I planned to post today about reaching the pandemic’s year milestone.

Yesterday, I threw them all into the trash bin.

Thinking about this time last year, as things rapidly developed and our lives changed minute by minute and the overwhelming fear that crippled me….well, it actually made me shudder with anxiety.

Instead of rehashing the traumatic truth about where we used to be and how we got here, I am celebrating the light that has entered through the cracks over the past year, cracks that were formally invisible to my eyes. 

Do I like our current situation? Absolutely not.

Do I miss everything that’s currently on hold? More than anything.

Did I think we’d return to “normal” by now? Of course I did. 

But over the past year, I realized that “normal” does not exist, nor does a “new normal,” which is one of the worst phrases to come out of this year-long reality.

The light, though…

Sun’s First Light – Taken September 2020

The light shines on the goodness that surrounds me, goodness I was formerly too blind to notice. 

The light beams on the moments I can safely spend in the company of loved ones and friends, and those moments have more meaning today than they ever have. The light will eventually beam and create more opportunities to make wonderful memories.

The light glistens on my watch and my planner to highlight the value of my time, and I’ve learned to decline requests for my time that do not enhance my well-being or serve my purpose.

The light coaxes the words out of my soul and onto my journal or my screen. Instead of fighting those words and holding them back, they flow and release me from my self-deprecating prison. Some are crap, and some aren’t, and I’m taking those that aren’t and creating what I hope helps others to know they aren’t alone.

The light brightens the sound of laughter coming from those I love most.

The light illuminates my purpose and my passion, and has allowed me to see meaning in and understand my journey here on Earth so far, especially the hardest times, the most difficult of days, and the failures and rejections. The light also illuminates a clear path to my future that’s full of experiences I want to have and dreams I will make happen. I’ll be sharing those experiences and dreams with you soon.

The light flashed on a vaccine opportunity that I originally believed was not an option for me because of my medical issues and led me to said opportunity with a smooth experience and limited side effects. My desire to have a life outweighs my aversion to the vaccine, and while my choice is right for me, I respect it might not be right for you.

The light radiates on my gratitude for those who have gone above and beyond to help us all and on my resolve to celebrate the lives of those who we’ve lost to this horrible illness.

The universe works in very mysterious ways. I know she guides me with breadcrumbs, most of which validate that I am in the right place at the right time and doing what I need to be doing at that moment. Case in point: when I sat down this morning to write this post, I put my music on shuffle. The first song to play was “Namaste” by Beastie Boys. A sampling of the lyrics:

…A cold chill of fear cut through me

I felt my heart contract

To my mind I brought the image of light

And I expanded out of it

My fear was just a shadow

And then I voice spoke in my head

And she said dark is not the opposite of light

It’s the absence of light

And I thought to myself

She knows what she’s talking about

And for a moment I know

What it was all about.

Songwriters: Horovitz Adam Keefe / Diamond Michael Louis / Yauch Adam Nathaniel / Nishita Mark Ramos. Namasté lyrics © Brooklyn Dust Music, Polygram Int. Publishing, Inc.

I know what it was all about.

As I said earlier, normal doesn’t exist. What does exist is change: Routines change. Circumstances change. Expectations change. Opportunities change. Schedules change. People change. Persevering while adapting to change is essential to survival.

I also exist, as does my purpose, and what hasn’t changed is my authentic desire to thrive despite change and to strive for my words to speak to others.

The fresh air and sunshine, the clouds and the snow, the singing birds, the ocean’s rollers and mountain’s peaks, and all of nature’s miracles, are still here a year later. They always have been, and they always will be if we allow the light in through the cracks.

And someday, we’ll be able to look back on all of this and celebrate our collective strength and victory over the pandemic with joyous light and fireworks, but you don’t have to wait that long…

Today, celebrate your light. Celebrate your perseverance. Celebrate your life. Celebrate you.

____________________________________________________________________________

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

With gratitude,

Jill

“Letting The Light In” was posted on jillocone.com and on soulseaker.com on March 14, 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

You Are Loved

For those who are alone or feel alone…

For those with many friends or only a handful…

For those who are stressed or at peace…

For those who are tired or energized…

For those who are unsure of their place in this world or are where they belong…

For those with a dozen roses or none…

For those who received a thousand valentines or none…

For the young and the old and the in-between…

For every race and religion and size and every single human who reads this…

You are loved.

Happy Valentine’s Day, from my heart to yours.

____________________________________________________________________________

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

With gratitude,

Jill

“You Are Loved” was posted on jillocone.com and on soulseaker.com on February 14, 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.

So I Created Something…

Long-time followers and those close to me know that two of the many things I absolutely love are writing about the Jersey Shore and journals/notebooks/planners.

It’s Beautiful! And I Made It!

An idea combining those two loves has been brewing in the back of my mind for a long time now, and a few months ago, my intuition told me it was time to make this idea a reality.

As such, I am pleased to introduce you to the 2021 Shore To Be Awesome Summer Journal.

https://jillocone.com/2021-shore-to-be-awesome-summer-journal/The 2021 Shore To Be Awesome Summer Journal will help you take back your summer while you LIVE and THRIVE.

Just because we may still be living through a pandemic this year doesn’t mean you cannot have an awesome summer. It’s all about perspective, and the 2021 Shore To Be Awesome Summer Journal will help you focus on what you can still enjoy and the memories you can still make.

The journal has two main sections, as well as vision boards for the summers of both 2021 and 2022. You can bullet journal or record your daily memories on the monthly calendars for May through September and the weekly pages starting with May 24 and ending with September 12. My favorite section is the Living List section. Modeled after a bucket list, this section contains checklists and charts to keep a tally of the things you’ve done and enjoyed during the summer. There’s plenty of room for journaling and reflecting throughout the journal, too.

The 2021 Shore To Be Awesome Summer Journal sports a glossy cover and 88 beautifully designed, functional, full-color pages with saddle-stitched binding. The Journal easily fits in a small purse, backpack, or beach bag because of its convenient size of 8.5 x 5.5 inches and .5 inches thick.

You can learn more about the 2021 Shore To Be Awesome Summer Journal by clicking the links and joining the communities below.

2021 Shore To Be Awesome Summer Journal Website

ETSY Listing To Purchase With Shipping

ETSY Listing To Purchase With Local Delivery to 08723, 08724, 08730, 08735, 08736, 08738, 08742, 08750

2021 Shore To Be Awesome Summer Journal Facebook Page

2021 Shore To Be Awesome Instagram Page

If you have any questions about the 2021 Shore To Be Awesome Summer Journal, would like information about how to pay with cash or VENMO instead of using ETSY, or would like to offer it for sale in your local business, please email me at jillocone@gmail.com.

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

With gratitude,

Jill

“So I Created Something” was posted on jillocone.com and on soulseaker.com on January 23, 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.

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.