Today I Am Grateful-A Thanksgiving Reflection

Today I am grateful

For the darkness and the light,

For the struggles and the strife,

For the hearts who live in mine,

For the rain and bright sunshine.

Today I am grateful

For my partner and soulmate,

For moments small and great,

For morning’s singing birds,

For notebooks, pens, and words.

Today I am grateful

For cherished family love,

For those in heaven above,

For mornings, noons, and nights,

For taste, and smell, and sight.

Today I am grateful

For friends both near and far,

For dawn’s and dusk’s bright stars,

For food and drink aplenty,

For the dollars, coins, and pennies.

Today I am grateful

For rock bottom and the wins,

For forgiveness for my sins,

For the waves, the sea, the bay,

For each smile along my way,

Today I am grateful

For everything and how,

For the path to here and now,

For one more chance to give,

For one more day to live.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! Thanks for joining me on my journey. I’m glad you’re here.

With gratitude,

Jill

“Today I Am Grateful’” was posted on jillocone.com on November 25, 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.

A Storyteller on “The Storyteller”

A Storyteller on The Storyteller

The universe…just when I think it can’t amaze me any more than it has, it puts itself to shame and blows my socks off. One of the many recent cases-in-point: it led me to Dave Grohl’s recently published memoir, The Storyteller

Time is surely a trickster, and part of my brain thinks it’s perpetually 1998. Wasn’t it just a few months ago when I heard “Everlong” for the first time, then bought the CD so I could endlessly listen to it? 

I’ve always thought Dave was a cool cat and have had songs by both Nirvana and Foo Fighters on my playlist over the years, but I wasn’t what you would consider a super fan.

Until today. 

Well, superfan isn’t exactly the right word.

Fierce admirer is a much better way to sum it up.

My God, The Storyteller is honest, authentic, and I couldn’t put it down. My copy has over 100 sticky flags fanning off its pages.

The depths of both Dave’s incredible musical talent and his impressive energy are just two of the many factors that contribute to his overall awesomeness. Here’s someone who has lived his entire life by his terms, full of passion for music and for life, and when life threw him wrenches, he took them and created something even more beautiful from the debris that remained. 

Dave’s written voice is mesmerizing and his stories raw and honest. He speaks often about the universe and how it guided him along his journey, something I can wholeheartedly relate to. There are many references he makes in the book that I swear he wrote specifically for me, ones that mirror my own journey from my past to my present. We share a connection to The Beatles’ song Blackbird, we’ve both found solace (and ourselves) in Ireland, we’ve both Googled heart attack symptoms, and we are both survivors of life.

And most of all, we are both storytellers.

Dave is a laid-back and humble everyman, a devoted family man, the son of a teacher who finds inspiration from the people he meets along the way. Just as he is thankful and grateful for those who have inspired him, I am thankful and grateful that the universe led me to his book because he is now one of my inspirations, and maybe someday, the universe will conspire to allow me to tell him that in person.

I’ve selected a few quotes from the book that really spoke to me:

“To really see America, you need to drive it mile by mile, because you not only begin to grasp the immensity of this beautiful country, you see the climate and geography change with every state line. These are indeed things that cannot be learned from an old schoolbook under the cold classroom lights; they must be seen, heart, and felt in person to be truly appreciated. The education I was getting out here on the road proved to be far more valuable to me than any algebra or biology test I had ever failed, because I was discovering life firsthand, learning social and survival skills I still rely on to this day (e.g., knowing when to speak and when to shut the fuck up.)”

“The Storyteller” by Dave Grohl, Page 93

When Dave decided to follow his passion of music with the support of his mother, his experiences with touring and traveling taught him more than he ever could have learned from a book or in a classroom. I’m a tad bit envious he had the balls to follow his passion while young and discover life firsthand. I can’t change the fact that I was dissuaded from following my passion when I was young, but you know what? It’s not too late for me to change. I woke up this morning with a newfound zest for life and aspire to let my inner light shine as brightly as possible as a result of reading The Storyteller, and I want to get out there and see as many new places as possible. And off the record, learning when to speak and when to keep quiet is a lesson I actively promote and think every person who rants on social media for no read other than to complain needs to adopt. “I, I’m a street light shining, I’m a wild light blinding bright, Burning off and on,… It’s times like these you learn to live again… It’s times like these you give and give again… It’s times like these you learn to love again… It’s times like these time and time again…” (“Times Like These,” written by Taylor Hawkins / Nate Mendel / David Grohl / Chris Shiflett, Performed by Foo Fighters)

“Courage is a defining factor in the life of any artist. The courage to bare your innermost feelings, to reveal your true voice, or to stand in front of an audience and lay it out there for the world to see. … It is the courage to be yourself that bridges those opposing emotions, and when it does, magic can happen.” 

“The Storyteller” by Dave Grohl, Page 355

I finally found the courage to be honest with myself about my writing, and I will be revealing my true voice in everything I write moving forward. I believe wholeheartedly that the magic WILL happen. “This is a call to all my past resignations…it’s been too long…” (“This Is A Call,” written by David Grohl, Performed by Foo Fighters)

“… I greet the world every day through the idealistic, mischievous eyes of a rebellious child who constantly seeks adventure and magic. I still find happiness and appreciation in the most basic, simple things. And as I collect more little lines and scars, I will wear them with a certain pride, as they almost serve as a trail of bread crumbs, strewn across a path that someday I will rely upon to find my way back to where I started.”

“The Storyteller” by Dave Grohl, Page 371

I have never felt as home in my own body as I do now despite collecting more lines and scars every day. They are my badges of honor, and I plan to follow the trail of bread crumbs spread along my journey until the day I die. Like Dave, I find happiness in the simple things, such as in the laughter of my nieces and nephews, finding a blue jay feather, or through playing with a cute, little toy. I might be 50 years old, but I’ll never lose my childlike wonder and appreciation for life’s little joys. “Blackbird singing in the dead of night, Take these broken wings and learn to fly, All your life, You were only waiting for this moment to arise…” (“Blackbird,” Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Performed by The Beatles, Dave Grohl

So, when you hear that parade coming down the street, spreading joy and love with every note, don’t just listen; join in the march. You never know where it may lead you.” 

“The Storyteller” by Dave Grohl, Page 304

I hear the parade and I am joining in the march with all of my energy and enthusiasm, Dave, and I cannot see where it leads me.  “All my life, I’ve been searching for something, Something never comes, never leads to nothing, Nothing satisfies but I’m getting close, Closer to the prize at the end of the rope…” (“All My Life,” Written by Taylor Hawkins / Christopher A. Shiflett / David Eric Grohl / Nate Mendel, Performed by Foo Fighters)

This is not a fangirl post. This is not a groupie post. This is an honest declaration of appreciation and gratitude for someone who has made a positive difference in my life through his words and by his example (and who will probably never read this).

Thank you, Dave Grohl, for lighting my light with yours. Congratulations on all of your achievements, especially for being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the second time, for overtaking my playlist with your music now in heavy rotation, and for writing one hell of a book. Most of all, thank you for being my hero. “There goes my hero…” (“My Hero,” Written David Eric Grohl / Nate Mendel / Pat Smear, Performed by Foo Fighters)

And thank you, Universe, for your awesomeness and for continuing to guide me.

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

With gratitude,

Jill

“A Storyteller on ‘The Storyteller’” was posted on jillocone.com on November 10, 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.

2,657 Days…

I’ve always been in tune with the universe and its breadcrumbs, even as a young child, but I spent more time ignoring them than following them. I’ve always known I am different, and for far too long, I tried to fit in through vices or by wearing a variety of masks, each of them a flat-out denial of who I really am in my heart and in my soul. I’ve always known I’m a writer, but I allowed doubt, indecision, and distractions to deny my calling. I’ve always known there’s a unique light shining inside of me, but I allowed too many sources of darkness to extinguish it over and over and over…

It’s time to let my light shine, and to hell with the consequences.

I am in tune with the universe.

I am different.

I am a writer.

I will live, and my light will shine bright forevermore.

For over seven years and counting, the universe has been leading me in a particular direction, and if you’ve been following me or personally know me, you’ll understand what I mean. I never questioned the breadcrumbs, but I did allow the path to become obscured, the reasons why no longer important because they no longer matter.

Today, I understand everything with crystal-clear clarity, all the signs and the ‘whys’ behind all the heartache and all the joy.

It’s taken 2,657 days of faith and determination to ensure my novel, Chapter One-A Novel, is ready for publication, and it’s finally there. I’ve made this announcement before, albeit prematurely, but I assure you that this time it’s the real deal, and it’s the right time. Years of toiling to write and to revise have finally produced a wonderful and compelling story, one that will inspire others to trust the universe and believe in themselves, one that will illustrate the power of friendship and the triumph of personal ambition over setbacks and detours.

I am confidently querying agents and publication houses and wholeheartedly know I will be led to the right opportunity for me, and I will keep you informed along the way.

My only future request for you is to keep in mind that, when you read Chapter One-A Novel, you separate me from the main character as I am NOT Kelly Lynch. I am Jill Ocone, author and writer, and Kelly Lynch is her own person in her own right.

I’m working on five other writing projects (three novels and two non-fiction books), and look forward to bringing them to light like I did with Chapter One-A Novel but in far less time, for I am truly a writer now.

The wave is here. And I’m not sleeping, oh no…

On a side note, I am reading The Storyteller by Dave Grohl. Do yourself a favor and GET THIS BOOK. Dave Grohl has always been a cool cat, but I admire and respect him even more now. I’m planning on writing a post about this book soon.

And I’ll end my post with celebrating fact I scored tickets to my BUCKET LIST BAND, the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS! It’s finally happening in August, and I cannot wait!

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

With gratitude,

Jill

“2,657 Days…” was posted on jillocone.com on November 4, 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.

Published in “Stay Salty: Life in the Garden State”

I am beyond elated to announce that my piece titled “SynJersey” was selected for publication in Read Furiously’s forthcoming anthology Stay Salty: Life in the Garden State, which will be released on Tuesday, October 12, 2021.

The book features essays, prose, photography, poetry, and comics, all of which explore the fascinating stories that make New Jersey and its people some of the most interesting people you’ll ever meet.

I’m honored that my piece was selected for publication alongside many other talented writers and artists, as I don’t have to tell you how much the Garden State means to me.

From the Amazon listing:

The book you hold in your hand is as relaxing as a day at the Shore, as tense as the traffic you hit on the way down to get there, and as expansive as the Pine Barrens you find yourself lost in after that wrong turn off the Parkway. Stay Salty, the second volume in Read Furiously’s popular New Jersey Anthology series, once again reminds us of everything we love and hate (and love to hate) about the Garden State. Following the tradition of storytelling of The World Takes, Stay Salty features prose, poetry, comics, and photography that showcase the mysterious and fascinating elements that make up New Jersey and its inhabitants. Grab some salt water taffy and listen to voices from Sussex County to Cape May. Because in New Jersey, there’s always a story to tell.

Editors Stephanie Atzeni and Adam Wilson put forth their utmost effort in creating an anthology that is honest and beautiful.

To give you a bit of a teaser, here’s the first two lines of “SynJersey”:

Jersey.

She’s an addiction I simply cannot overcome.

You’ll have to buy the book to read the rest!

Stay Salty: Life in the Garden State can be ordered through any of the following links:

Click HERE to purchase through Read Furiously

Click HERE to purchase through Barnes and Noble

Click HERE to purchase through Amazon

Click HERE to purchase through Target

If you buy a copy, I’d be happy to sign it! I’m extremely grateful for your continued support!

Stay Salty!

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

With gratitude,

Jill

“Published in ‘Stay Salty: Life in the Garden Sate’” was posted on jillocone.com and on soulseaker.com on October 6, 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.

Published in “the leaves fall” (The Red Penguin Collection)

I am beyond elated to announce that my poem “The Impromptu Gig” was selected for publication in The Red Penguin Collection’s the leaves fall, a poetry anthology of autumnal poems.

From the description: With poems ranging in content from specific moments in nature, and the beauty within each one, to more abstract examinations of temperature, isolation, and progressing forward, this anthology is sure to be one that speaks to the hearts and minds of all who read it.

You can purchase your very own copy by clicking here. If you purchase, please consider leaving a positive review on Amazon if you are happy with the anthology! And I’d be thrilled to sign your copy!

Thank you for your support!

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

With gratitude,

Jill

“Published in ‘the leaves fall’” was posted on jillocone.com and on soulseaker.com on September 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.

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.

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

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

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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.