‘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.

Shine On…

We’ve once again arrived at the end of one year with the onset of another just lurking in the shadows, unbeknownst to us whether it may be the hero or the villain.

I’m wishing for the hero, because the last two years have been…. well, you know…

This time of year, for me, is more than just a time to lie around full of cheese and unsure about what day it is. 

For me, it is a time of reflection about what went right and what went wrong amid the sprinkles of real life mixed in with the gasps, the smiles, the frowns, and the tears that pepper each yearly calendar. It’s also a time of rejuvenation and illumination as I look ahead to what I hope to accomplish and experience within the blank boxes of the twelve months that lie in front of me.

I set specific goals for 2021 a year ago, like I do on the cusp of each new year. Not resolutions, because those rarely work for me, but attainable goals that I hoped to bring to fruition within the next 365 days. Two of said goals centered upon creative endeavors (one of which I’ve spent seven years honing and crafting) and were of utmost importance to my heart.

But neither venture reached the measure of success I had envisioned despite my best efforts.

Thus, I failed.

I thought I was close a number of times, and I followed the universe’s breadcrumbs as I always do. I believed in each, believed in myself, but that combined with my hard work wasn’t enough.  I sit here facing the fact that I am not where I thought I would be a year ago.

Thus, I failed.

It is true that both provided me with lessons and growth. I know what I did wrong and what I must do with each moving forward if either will be deemed a so-called “success,” but my mind ghoulies have had a field day during the latter part of this year in making me feel immensely vanquished. I still carried the weight of defeat and futility and disappointment upon my shoulders as we entered the last month of 2021.

During a poignant meditation session a few days ago, however, a bright light illuminated something brilliantly new, yet something that has always been there deep inside my soul. 

Yes, I may have failed by not attaining my desired outcome for those two goals, but I succeeded in finding the dawn of a new path now bathed in radiant light.

The light that beams from within me has melted away the overbearing weight I’ve burdened for far too long and shines upon a new route where I will no longer be focused on the outcome but on the journey. Exhilaration overpowers my trepidation and purpose outshines my pain as I forge ahead with curiosity and resolve.

2022 will be a resounding new beginning for me, a year when I will connect with my soul every single day and with the ocean. I will bask in authenticity while I act according to my soul’s desires and let my words become my light. My word for 2022 is SHINE, and that’s my intention, to shine as bright as I can while hopefully sparking the light in others.

And regarding those two “biggest” goals from the past year? I’m not sure I’ll encounter either of them along the coming year’s path. Maybe my journey will circle me around to revisit them, maybe not, but each of them assisted me with arriving at the here-and-now and brightened my core being. I am grateful, not regretful, for each as I step over 2021’s final boundary and forward into 2022.

The only reference to COVID I’ll make is that I am grateful it showed me what truly matters most: relishing the time I am able to both experience life and make memories with the people I treasure. 

My soul, it called me to write this for you…

Take 2021’s lessons and let them craft a new vision for the coming year. Listen to your soul’s deepest wishes and make them a priority. Focus on the internal rather than the external. Shine your light in all that you do, but don’t apologize for being human when your light may go dark for whatever reason…simply endure and emerge stronger once the light shines again. 

I wish for 2022 to provide you with whatever you most need and most desire. Shine on, dear one, and live bright.

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

With love and gratitude,

Jill

“Shine On” was posted on jillocone.com on December 30, 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.

As You Wish…

“As you wish.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boba Fett.

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

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

Fast forward to the here and now. 

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

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

Boba the freaking Fett. 

He lived.

Or should I say, he lives.

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

Holy. Freaking. Crap.

As I wished.

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

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

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

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

With love and gratitude,

Jill

“As You Wish” was posted on jillocone.com on December 29, 2021, with parts of it originally published in “A New Hope, Indeed,” on December 14, 2019 . Views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the writer, who was not endorsed or compensated in any manner by any entity; views do not represent any employer. Copyright 2021, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

Someday…

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

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

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

It’s not just you.

It’s not just me.

It’s all of us

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

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

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

And that will be an absolutely glorious day. 

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

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

I hope your heart does, too.

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

With love and gratitude,

Jill

“Someday” was posted on jillocone.com on December 26, 2021. Views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the writer, who was not endorsed or compensated in any manner by any entity; views do not represent any employer. Copyright 2021, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

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.

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.