Carpenter Builds Story After Story

Matt Carpenter during the curtain call from the Yankees/Red Sox game on July 16, 2022, as posted by the New York Yankees’ Twitter account.

If you aren’t an avid Yankees or baseball fan, you might not recognize Matt Carpenter’s name.

But you should.

Carpenter’s journey this season is the story that America needs as we collectively navigate a world filled with acrimony and discord.

The three-time All-Star went from riding the bench in the minors earlier this year to one of the biggest phenoms in Major League Baseball.

And Carpenter is no spring chicken. He’s a 36-year-old veteran with more than a decade of playing time in the majors.

Back in May, the Yankees placed three players on the COVID list, which left holes on the roster that needed to be filled. The team took a chance and signed Carpenter after he was released by the Round Rock Express (Texas Rangers’ minor league AAA-affiliate) in hopes he’d fill one of those holes.

That hole has not only been closed, but now overflows with sheer awesomeness.

When Carpenter, with his old school Mattingly-esque mustache, stepped up to home plate in Tampa during his first at-bat as a Yankee on May 26, many skeptically asked, “Who is THIS guy?” Yankees fans can be harshly judgmental, and I plead the fifth about my opinion of the recycled veteran in that moment.

Well, his two at-bat appearances in that game, which yielded two runs scored in the Yankees 7-2 victory, combined with slugging his first home-run of the season the following night that helped the Yankees defeat the Rays 2-1, answered that question:

He is MATT CARPENTER, and he has been the living embodiment of baseball magic since. As he crushes his bat and sets new records, baseball fans across the nation stand with their mouths agape.

As of this post, he has had 75 at-bats in 30 games so far this season, with 27 hits, 13 home runs, and 31 runs batted in. Remember, he didn’t play for almost two months, and those numbers are only since May 26!

Make that 31 games, 77 at-bats, and 32 RBIs-he added another as I am writing.

Those numbers don’t lie. Carpenter is the real deal.

In last night’s 14-1 trouncing of the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium, Carpenter batted in 7 runs with TWO 3-run home runs, one in the first inning and the second in the fifth inning. Shortly after high-fiving his teammates in the dugout after home run number two, he answered the fans’ cheering for a curtain call with waves of authentic emotion riding his face as seen in the above image.

“You never know when the last time you’re going to put this uniform is or on what day that is and I felt like I might have had that a couple of times this year.,” Carpenter told FOX Broadcasting’s Ken Rosenthal after last night’s game. “To be here, and to be playing for this team, in this city, for this franchise, I don’t take it for granted. I come to the ballpark every day overwhelmed with joy and gratitude and, man, it’s just been a lot of fun.” 

Last night wasn’t Carpenter’s first multi-hit home run game this season. During the Yankees’ 18-4 victory over the Cubs at home on June 12, Carpenter also batted in 7 RBIs with two home runs. His performance in that game made him the first player in Yankees’ history to hit six home runs in his first 10 games with the team.

I’ve always rooted for the underdog, but the humble Carpenter tops them all. He’s tenacious, unassuming, and gives his all, no matter what. And the first words listed on his Twitter and Instagram bios of Christian, Husband, Father, all before NY Yankee, speak volumes about the type of person Carpenter is. 

What hits home (pun intended) for me is Carpenter’s determination and authenticity. He’s never sacrificed his values for his career nor forgotten his roots or taken anything for granted. He’s nobly faced setbacks by bettering himself in whatever way necessary as he strove to bounce back. While many major leaguers his age call it quits after being demoted, he chose to stay in the game and reemerged bigger and better than ever, all the while exuding gratitude that his name is on the Yankees’ roster. 

Today’s young people desperately need an example like Carpenter, but you know what? 

So do I. 

Trade out the baseball for words, and I aim to emulate Carpenter as I face my own strikeouts while querying my manuscript as a 51-year-old aspiring novelist. Like Carpenter, I’ve celebrated many successes in my early life and career alongside unexpected setbacks, and writing is no exception. He may be 15 years younger than me, but Carpenter is living proof that I am not too old to pursue my dream of publishing a book, and eventually, transitioning to full-time writer. It will happen if I mirror his tenacity and drive, but if I’ve done my best and it doesn’t happen? I’ll follow Carpenter’s lead and roll optimistically towards another opportunity that presents itself.

And, surprise! Carpenter is ALSO a writer! Read his farewell to St. Louis here, which he wrote for The Players’ Tribute after electing free agency in November 2021. Who knew?!?!?

Last Sunday (July 10), while sitting in Fenway Park with my nephew and sister-in-law, Carpenter blasted a 2-run homer in the third inning which gave the Yankees a 6-2 lead. I jumped in joy and cheered as loud as I could despite the Sox sharks swirling around me as I relished experiencing one of his home runs firsthand. Unfortunately, the team absolutely imploded in the seventh inning, and Sox fans rejoiced in their 6-11 victory over the Yankees. 

Whatever the future holds for Carpenter, there’s no doubt his accomplishments and his contributions have had an incredibly positive impact on his teammates and on his team’s current 63-28 record, which is the best in the majors. 

Sometimes life imitates art, and what a storybook ending it will be if he and his teammates hold the World Series trophy high in the air come November. 

No matter the outcome, I’ll remember this season as the one where Carpenter built his foundation to become an inspiration to me evermore.

Thank you, Matt Carpenter. Just….thank you.

Matt Carpenter’s Stats and Notable Achievements

  • Born: November 26, 1985 in Galveston, Texas
  • Married to Mackenzie since 2011, father to daughter Kinley and son Kannon
  • Positions: outfield, third base, first base, second base, designated hitter
  • 2009: Drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 13th round of the MLB draft (399 pick)
  • June 4, 2011: MLB debut; started at third base for the Cardinals
    • 2013, 2014, 2016: MLB National League All-Star Selection
    • 2013: led MLB in runs (126), hits (199), and doubles (55); NL Silver Slugger; finished 4th in NL MVP award; played with Cardinals in postseason (NL Champs, World Series-lost to Boston)
    • 2013, 2013, 2015: MLBPAA Cardinals Heart and Hustle Award
    • 2014: led NL in plate appearances and base-on-balls
    • 2015: Led NL in doubles, 8th in NL in home runs
    • 2015, 2016, 2018 (twice): NL Player of the Week
    • May 7, 2016: First walk-off home run (6-4 win over Pittsburgh)
    • April 27, 2017: First grand-slam vs. the Toronto Blue Jays in the 11th inning of an 8-4 victory (walk-off grand slam)
    • July 2018: NL Player of the Month
    • 2018: 3rd in NL in home runs
  • November 2021: Elected free agency and penned a farewell to St. Louis which was posted by The Players’ Tribune
  • March 2022: Signed to minor league contract and invited to spring training with Texas Rangers; played 21 games with their AAA-affiliate Round Rock Express
  • May 19, 2022: Released by Round Rock Express
  • May 26, 2022: signed by New York Yankees. The rest is history!
  • Sources: New York Yankees, ESPN, MLB, Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports, CBS Sports, NJ.com, The Players’ Tribune

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

With love and gratitude,

Jill

“Carpenter Builds Story After Story” was posted on jillocone.com on July 17, 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.

‘22-03 Fortnightly Focus: Receptive

2022 is truly a brand new year, and I have been very receptive to all the positive changes I’ve been experiencing since the calendar turned its page. I’ve returned to both yoga and meditation, and I am making a regular practice of writing and connecting with my soul. I’m learning more about reiki and am developing a 30-minute “Semester Reset” Mindful Session for my fellow educators. By being receptive to change, especially change in the right direction, my attitude and mindset have vastly improved. Another example is being receptive to things I know I cannot change, case in point is yesterday’s blizzard. I am most definitely not a winter person, but instead of complaining about the snow, I was receptive to accepting the forecast and enjoyed a rather peaceful and cozy day writing and watching Marvel and Star Wars movies. I couldn’t change the fact we got slammed with drifts higher than two feet in some spots, so why waste my energy barking about it? I made do by being receptive, and today, we move on.

I invite you to join me in embracing the word “receptive” over the next two weeks. The word “receptive” has many definitions, but for the purpose of our focus, I suggest using the definitions below, courtesy of Merriam Webster:

receptive: adjective. Willing to consider or accept new ideas

Being receptive to what is has allowed me to become excited about what can be. I’m no longer at war with my past. I have more energy at the end of the day, and while I still battle the occasional Lupus issue such as one hell of a butterfly rash across my face yesterday, overall I feel less fatigued. My soul tells me the positive improvements in my health are a result of being receptive to changing up my routines and going with the flow. 

The ocean is the perfect metaphor for going with the flow. She doesn’t care about the “to-do” list of others, such as the woman who booked a surf lesson or a wedding on her sands. She rages when she feels like raging, and calms when it’s the right time for her to be calm. She’s receptive to the influences of the moon, to weather systems, and to her changing tides, but to hell with us humans. She can cradle us or destroy us, coddle us or drown us, and we’re the ones that need to be receptive to her. 

I invite you to embrace the word “receptive” over the next two weeks and allow it to guide you. Consider new ideas and accept what comes your way. 

As always, if the time is not right for you to be receptive, it’s okay. No shame and no beating yourself up for having a bad day or for not making progress towards your goals, whatever those may be. All vibes matter in this space, as the human experience is made up of ALL vibes, not just good vibes. Embrace your reality and feel what you feel without guilt.

Wise Words About RECEPTIVE 

“You always have something to learn from people who have been through more than you. Be open and receptive to what they know.” – Zac Efron

“You can keep the body as well-oiled and receptive as possible, but whether you’re actually going to be able to go for the long haul is really not your own choice.” – Leonard Cohen

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

With love, light, and gratitude,

Jill

‘22-03 Fortnightly Focus: Receptive” was posted on jillocone.com on January 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 employer. Copyright 2022, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

‘22-02 Fortnightly Focus: Inquisitive

I’ve been extraordinarily inquisitive lately, so much so I’d probably be able to retire if I had a quarter for everything I’ve looked up using searches and the wealth of online resources provided by my local library. I bet I have amassed a year’s worth of knowledge and wisdom in these first sixteen days of 2022. The word “inquisitive” has many definitions, but for the purposes of this two-week focus, I suggest using the definitions below, courtesy of Merriam Webster:

inquisitive: adjective. tending to ask questions; having a desire to know or learn more; curious or inquiring.

I’ve always been an inquisitive creature. For instance, every time our town’s emergency siren would sound to summon either the first aid or fire department starting when I was very young, I’d be concerned and want to know more. My empathy and curiosity combined to spark such questions as, “I wonder what happened. Who do you think is hurt? I hope everyone is okay.” I clearly remember such instances from very early in my life. Anyone reading this who grew up with me in my hometown may remember a certain siren that would blare three times every day at noon: long, short, long. I can still hear it in my mind. That siren was a time indicator, not an emergency indicator, and I was relieved when it was just those three blasts because nobody was in danger. Anyway, ever since I can remember, I’ve always desired to know more, then write about what I’ve learned and the connections I experience along my journey. My curiosity is one aspect I most appreciate about myself; instead of abandoning my childlike wonder as I matured, I nurtured it and allowed it to shine. I still do, and I always will.

At first glance, it might seem impossible that the ocean can be inquisitive, but if I look closer, I see the ocean is, like me, a living creature. She is alive with life. Each of her waves she reaches and spreads across the sandy land is an extension of her curiosity, and her waves are full of new knowledge when they retract back into her mass. She then imparts her learned wisdom upon us through our connection with her. We are both inquisitive, forever curious and always learning.

I invite you to embrace the word “inquisitive” over the next two weeks and allow it to guide you. Take some quiet time to connect with and ponder the questions lurking in your mind and in your soul, then vow to seek answers. Cultivate your curiosity and learn something, no matter how small it may be.

As always, if the time is not right for you to be inquisitive, it’s okay. No shame and no beating yourself up for having a bad day or for not making progress towards your goals, whatever those may be. All vibes matter in this space, as the human experience comprises ALL vibes, not just good vibes. Embrace your reality and feel what you feel without guilt.

Wise Words About INQUISITIVE

“When you are inquisitive, Jane, you always make me smile. You open your eyes like an eager bird, and make every now and then a restless movement, as if answers in speech did not flow fast enough for you, and you wanted to read the tablet of one’s heart.”

― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

“Be inquisitive. Open your eyes, open your minds to things you don’t necessarily know even exist. I think that’s an important part of learning and growing. The more [you]’re willing to ask, the more [you]’re going to get out of it.”

― Jay Rinaldi

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

With love and gratitude,

Jill

‘22-02 Fortnightly Focus: Inquisitive” was posted on jillocone.com on January 16, 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.

‘22-01 Fortnightly Focus: Initiative

Today I’m sharing a sneak peek into a new “initiative” that my soul has ignited. There’s much more to come, believe me, but for now, allow my soul to invite you to embrace the word “initiative” over the next two weeks and let it guide you. The word “initiative” has many definitions, but for this focus, I suggest using either of these definitions, courtesy of Merriam Webster:

initiative: noun. the power or opportunity to do something before others do; the energy and desire that is needed to do something

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/initiative

I’m looking at 2022 with intense initiative: I’m calling upon my soul’s energy and desire to shine my light, and the opportunity to do something for others while shining said light from within. In fact, this post is a living embodiment of that initiative.

The ocean’s initiative is her power and energy, which she uses to fulfill her intricate role: to rise and fall, to destroy and cleanse, to excite and calm, to cycle through highs and lows while teaching us all how to tread its waters. The ocean’s initiative is innate and natural. Her energy propels her massive presence yet her desire to allow its salt water to purify and teach us keeps her in check. Her waves are full of wisdom which she imparts upon us through even her lightest caress of our toes along her break line. 

For this challenge, look inward and contemplate an opportunity to do something meaningful or helpful for yourself or for others. What energy do you need to make it happen? If you don’t know the answer to either/both questions, take some quiet time over the next two weeks to connect with your soul and ask what it most desires. Perhaps it’s something as small as lowering the number of carbs you eat or increasing the number of steps you walk each day. Perhaps it’s something larger, an unfulfilled dream or wish that has been subtly tugging at your heartstring for a day, or a month, or a year, or a lifetime. Take the initiative to make progress, no matter how small the steps may be.

And if you cannot accomplish this task, it’s okay. No shame and no beating yourself up for having a bad day or for not taking those baby steps. All vibes matter in this space, as the human experience is made up of ALL vibes, not just good vibes. Embrace your reality and feel what you feel without guilt.

Wise Words About INITIATIVE: “The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.” ― Barack Obama

I’m looking forward to connecting with you a lot more this year. I hope you have a wonderful first week of 2022! Shine on!

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

With love and gratitude,

Jill

“‘22-01 This Week’s Focus: Initiative” was posted on jillocone.com on January 3, 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.

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.

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.