Week 3 Challenges for “SEA”king ME and “SEA”king WE 2017

Two weeks down already, and I enjoyed completing my week 2 challenges. The quote I chose for myself to guide me this year is “Because you are good.” It was said by my 2.5 year old nephew in October, and I have made it my mantra. It’s amazing how much better life became when I acknowledged that I am worthy. And I am forever thankful to my little best friend for showing me what I couldn’t see for so long. For the WE challenge, I held open the door for others wherever I went. Ironically, I had my arms full of bags at one point and someone opened the door and marched right past me, even knocking into me, without extending the courtesy of holding the door for me. I didn’t let it bring me down, though, and instead of getting mad, I just went on about my day and actually held the door for this person the following day. My true colors of kindness are brighter than that person’s true colors of selfishness.

The challenges for Week 3 are below. These challenges are for those looking to better themselves and/or to put the “human” back in humanity in 2017. To learn more about the challenges, click here.





2017 Accountability Check 2: Progress Towards My Goals/Theme



Week 2 of 2017 was a productive week, despite scheduling a bit too much on my end. Since I’ve been feeling pretty good, I forget sometimes that I need to keep activity in check. My body is telling me to scale back a bit by allowing time for rest, and while I hate it, I need to follow its request.

2017 Goal #1: Finish my first novel C1 and find an agent/publisher interested in the story.

Progress Made This Week: I wrote solely on C1 from 6:15 to 6:45 am on Monday-Wednesday, which produced another 2,000 words. Thursday and Friday were spent revising what I have written so far. Total word count: 6245.

2017 Goal #2: Learning to Surf:

Progress Made This Week: I walked 1.25 miles on 3 days at an okay pace. Floor pushups are too difficult right now, so I began doing wall pushups: 4 days and I’m up to 15. I realize I still need to limber up my legs before returning to yoga class, as they were very stiff and in some pain after walking. Every day I take a few moments to stretch my legs, arms, and back.It might appear that my progress is lame, but for the limitations I experience, it was a good start.

Other Goals and Extraordinary Moments…

Yearly Money Challenge: I put $25 into my 2017 Wishes Come True account for Week 2.

Writing Every Day (outside of C1 work):

  • Completed considerable research and one of three interviews for articles I am currently writing for the 2017 Spring Issue of Jersey Shore Magazine. My topics are Beach Haus Brewery, Lakewood Blue Claws, NJ Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Museum, and Party/Charter Boat Fishing at the Jersey Shore. Holy crap how did I luck out with such awesome topics this go around? I’m so grateful (and I let my publisher know!).
  • Wrote a poem on 3 days
  • Wrote in my journal every day at least once. Completed nightly reflections & gratitude in my planner every evening
  • Wrote 3 SoulSEAker posts, including sharing my poem “Luna I Love”
  • Continued compiling editorial content for the Theater Calendar and Calendar of Events for the 2017 Spring Issue of Jersey Shore Magazine

A Year of Writing Dangerously: Read Days 8-15

Reading: Currently reading The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien in preparation for my NJVVM article

Postcards: Mailed one postcard to Finland. Total traveling postcards: 3 (the other two are on the way to Germany and to Russia).

Loving Life…Soul and Heart Happiness: Saw Rogue One with colleagues, saw two former students by complete coincidence and had a lovely lunch with one who I consider a kindred soul, experienced a vision from #65/27 which was enlightening on many levels, photographed two basketball games, celebrated my brother’s birthday with an awesome dinner and I liked what I ordered (and I found the perfect present for him I think), enjoyed the 65-degree breeze blowing on my face when literally days earlier it was only 20 degrees while I was shoveling 8 inches of snow (but I never complained about the cold), enjoyed the NFL playoff games

Weekly Declutter: Packed away all evidence of the holidays and relegated our tiny Christmas tree to the recycling center. I also boxed up another Amazon donation box for Goodwill with free shipping. That makes two boxes so far. It’s a wonderful program and free.

Surprise of the Week: Spotting the “Hidden Mickey” in Rogue One, which I’ve seen now three times. It’s a great movie, and you don’t have to be a Star Wars nut like me to understand the story line. I also learned that I will be welcoming a new NIECE this spring! I’m so excited to become an auntie again and can’t wait to meet her. I intend on spoiling her like a princess, albeit Princess LEIA style.

Extraordinary Lesson From The Ordinary Week: Listen to my body. As I referenced earlier, I’ve been feeling so good that I scheduled too much this week in the hours after school. I forgot to put my health first, and as a result, I experienced considerable pain and fatigue by the end of the week. Grrrr. There’s so much I want to do, and it’s a bit disheartening when I hit a reality check like this. However, thinking of my health when I look at my planner will result in a healthier balance of work and play, and will make what I do accomplish a bit more extraordinary.

Week 2 Parting Request: My father would have loved this: A local high school student is in a contest where she can win sponsorship money to fund her passion of racing quarter-midgets. If you have the time, could you please visit this link and vote for her in memory of Dad? He would have voted every day for Madison. 

wordThis. Life. Is. Happening. In. 2017!

Until next time,






ICYMI: I boldly stated two of my 2017 goals when I announced my 2017 Theme, Onward, Writer!, along with a logo full of symbols to inspire me this year. One is to write my first novel (which I will be referring to as C1) and the other is to learn how to surf. I will be posting weekly accountability checks as a way for me to keep track of my progress. Sharing my progress is not meant to be taken as conceit or that I am aggrandizing myself. Rather, I hope to inspire you to make progress towards your goals and dreams this year. If I can do it, you can, too.









Week 2 Challenges for “SEA”king ME and “SEA”king WE 2017

How did your Week 1 Challenges for 2017 go? I put my letter in my planner, all ready for December 2017, and dropped off two bags of clothes I no longer wear at the bins near my local police station.

The challenges for Week 2 are below. These challenges are for those looking to better themselves and/or to put the “human” back in humanity in 2017. To learn more about the challenges, click here.




2017 Accountability Check 1: Progress Towards My Goals/Theme


I boldly stated two of my 2017 goals when I announced my 2017 Theme, Onward, Writer!, along with a logo full of symbols to inspire me this year. One is to write my first novel (which I will be referring to as C1) and the other is to learn how to surf.

I verbally shared both goals this week with my students, my colleagues, and my friends.  By letting others know about my goals, I will be better focused on them because I’ve acknowledged to others that they exist.

I will be providing weekly accountability checks right here so they are public as a way for me to be more accountable for my progress. Sharing my progress is not meant to be taken as conceit or that I am aggrandizing myself. Rather, I hope to inspire you to make progress towards your goals and dreams this year. If I can do it, you can, too.

2017 Goal #1: Finish my first novel C1 and find an agent/publisher interested in the story.

Progress Made This Week: I wrote solely on C1 from 6:15 to 6:45 am on Tuesday-Friday which produced about 2,000 words. On Saturday, I added details and revised/edited what I have so far. I also began reading Writer’s Digest books I purchased (market, literary agents).

2017 Goal #2: Learning to Surf:

Progress Made This Week: Stretched my legs slowly on Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Did 5 pushups on Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Looked at the schedule for a beginner’s Yoga class as the studio I attended for a brief time and plan on returning on Monday, January 16. Kept my legs moving as much as I could.

Other Goals and Extraordinary Moments…

Yearly Money Challenge: I put $20 into my 2017 Wishes Come True account for week one.

Writing Every Day (outside of C1 work):

  • Researched and scheduled interviews for the three articles I was assigned to write for the 2017 Spring Issue of Jersey Shore Magazine (topics I love and will share soon!)
  • Wrote a poem on 4 days
  • Wrote in my journal every day twice (one handwritten, one typed)
  • Wrote 6 SoulSEAker posts (I hope you aren’t getting sick of me!)
  • Worked on compiling editorial content for the Theater Calendar and Calendar of Events for the 2017 Spring Issue of Jersey Shore Magazine

A Year of Writing Dangerously: Read Days 1-7

Loving Life…Soul and Heart Happiness: Encouraged when I could, embraced the winter and let the snowflakes on my face, saw some wonderful former students who are now friends, watched the NHL Winter Classic, honored the legacy of a friend, planned a Rogue One outing for colleagues. Most of all, I am completely enamored with the bold actions of one of my deepest inspirations and look forward to our mutual support of each other this year-love you heart and soul, Mandi!

Weekly Declutter: Two bags of clothes dropped off to my local PBA’s collection box. Boxed up books to be donated to a local used bookstore. Boxed up donations using an old Amazon box that will be sent to a local NJ Goodwill Location, free of charge. What a great program!

Surprise of the Week: The marriage of two of my former students (now friends) has been publicly announced so I can yell my congratulations as loud as I want! Congratulations S & C! Love you both!

Extraordinary Lesson From The Ordinary Week: I’ve been leaving earlier for work so I can write when I am most alert and creative before my work day contractually begins. It’s just my luck that I was delayed each day by a different car in front of me doing 15 miles an hour below the posted speed limit. At first I started to fume, but then looked at it in a different way and saw each car as a metaphor for what has been holding me back in life. Now that I am focused and know what I want, I’m no longer concerned with getting there quickly. I just want to get there. Lesson Learned: Just take my time. I’m on the right path and will reach my destination no matter what obstacles might lie in the way.

Parting Week 1 Request: Please visit the Go Fund Me page for fellow writer Mandi Bean to learn all about her upcoming amazing opportunity, and if you can spare a buck or two, consider donating to her awesome goal. Thanks for your support!

wordThis. Life. Is. Happening. In. 2017!

Until next time,





What’s That You Say? I’m Embracing the Winter? No way!


Winter. A whole lot of cold and yuck. I’ve written before about my utter disdain for cold and that I’m 100% a summer girl.

I thought about something last week, though, that led to another thought, then another, then they morphed into a whole train of thoughts, one right into the other, like a hamster running in a wheel.  He starts slow and then gets going at a pretty good clip and just runs and runs and runs and runs and……..

That’s exactly how my brain works. It starts slow and then snowballs into the one giant mass of what-ifs and connections. While writing this, in fact, I have decided to name my brain hamster Dave. An entity that’s been with me for almost 46 years deserves a name and its own identity.

Now that Dave has fallen off his wheel, let me return to the point of my post…

I see the snow outside my windows, and I no longer cringe. I feel the coldness by the windows, and I no longer hurl expletives. Those who know me are probably asking, “Who IS this person, and where did Jill Go?” She damns the winter every chance she gets!”

Surprise! It’s still me, but I am no longer that cranky winter-hating curmudgeon. I have a better attitude about this winter for three reasons.

Number One: I finally know I am on the right path, one that coexists with a natural progression of life. I’m where I need to be right now, and with that, comes winter. I can’t do anything to speed up the seasons, and while I prefer summer over winter, this is where I am, in the beginning of January with a whole lot of winter ahead of us. I think about the line from Shakespeare’s Macbeth: “The night is long that never finds the day.” Well, despite how long it might take to arrive, that day is coming. It’s in my plan to march forward not despite the seasons or the weather, but because of the seasons and the weather, and along with that, comes the experience of living. Besides, winter will give me time to focus and write without the wonderful distractions summer provides.

Number Two: The cold and the snow make me feel ALIVE. I recall a classmate of mine named Scott, who passed away almost a year ago. We were never close friends by any means, but I learned a valuable lesson from the way he lived his life. In one of his final posts, he urged readers to embrace every moment and to experience all that is possible. From that post: “Go outside, take a deep breath, kiss the ground, touch the snow, ride a bike, have a swim, catch a wave, or many, walk around the block, jump up and down, spin around, just do something, BECAUSE YOU CAN!!!” I’ve never forgotten his empowering words since I first read them. As a result, I definitely have not complained as much as I did before about weather and things I cannot control. I went outside this morning as the snowflakes dance down from the sky and let them hit my face. Each one left an imprint of vitality on my face. I am, indeed, alive.

Number Three: It’s time to be cozy! I’ve recently become familiar with the Danish term Hygge (pronounced hue-gah) which is a feeling or mood that comes taking genuine pleasure in making ordinary, every day moments more meaningful, beautiful or special. I am taking each day’s gifts and embracing them while making life as cozy as possible with blankets, gloves, twinkling candles and lights, slippers, and a warm latte or tea while I write, read, and live. It’s a way of life that accompanies my desire to find the extraordinary in the ordinary this year, and a much more positive way to exist through the season that I least prefer. Plus, I love learning about new things, and since I am embracing something Danish, I know my very good friend M will be pleased (I know you are reading this, M! And thanks!).

Yes, I am embracing the winter with no more complaints or curses, no more banishing the season or hissing at the snowflakes or temperature.

I see how each ordinary moment in my journey is extraordinary, and so far, life has become much more grand.

wordMaybe you can join me?

Until next time,


PS: Dave (remember him? my brain hamster) is cozily cuddled up with his blankey and his beverage as he fuels up to accompany me in some serious writing output today. Good boy, Dave. Good boy.



My Ordinary Playlist of Extraordinary “To Live List” Sentiments

It’s here! It’s here! The second day of 2017 already has a different feel for me. I was hoping to catch the sunrise up at the beach this morning, but the weather gods thought differently. Instead, I sit here listening to the raindrops hit my windows, satisfied that fate had other plans for me.

After making my daily cup of peppermint coffee, I looked over my goals and my schedule for the week and the month. I then refined a few of the penciled-in daily tasks I will complete as I move towards making my future happen. I already was able to cross a few items off that I completed yesterday.

This is not my to-do list. Rather, it’s my To Live List.

That got me thinking…my To Live List needs a little more oomph, something that will help me stay positive and on the right path. Something to accompany it.

And there it is: My To Live List needs its own playlist.

I already had an idea of two songs to guide me this year, but two is not enough. I need a compilation of songs that are special to me: songs that hit MY chords of inspiration that are meaningful and exhilarating to my heart and my soul…songs that guide my journey and give me chills when I envision my future path, some of which actually make me tear up.

…ok, I’m a tad bit weepy here…shake it off, you’ve got this…Pardon this pause of being human…


I would like to share with you the first 10 songs on my list, and explain why each song will be a part of every single day in 2017. On the surface, the songs might seem common and ordinary.

Nope. That’s the farthest from the truth.

My connection with each song, who now has a coveted and loved home on my Amazon music app, is very personal (yep, one way I put my Prime membership to work for me!). I carefully selected each song for a specific reason.

My goal in sharing these songs with you is not to “toot my own horn,” per se, but to hopefully inspire you to find the songs that will be the soundtrack to your 2017 life, songs which will make you come alive this year and fuel your passions as these songs fuel mine.

I present to you my Onward, Writer! My “To Live” Playlist.

img_0951Song 1: “Blackbird” by The Beatles. “Blackbird fly…Into the light of the dark black night…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…Yes, I have been waiting for this moment my entire life, and instead of waiting, now I am living and doing.

Song 2: “Gonna Fly Now” by the Rocky Orchestra. Hokey and stereotypical, but nonetheless important to me. There will be a moment later this year when I run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Instead of laughing, consider joining me! Let me know that you’re in and I’ll keep you posted about plans to make this happen!

Song 3: “Look Around” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. This upbeat song is a reminder to take a look around every day to see the extraordinary in the ordinary. You might find me happily jumping around like my 2.75-year-old nephew while listening to this song.

Song 4: “Rey’s Theme” from the Star Wars: The Force Awakens soundtrack. It’s no secret that I’m a huge Star Wars fan. The character Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, is one of my heroes because she’s strong and brave. Even though she doesn’t know what path to follow at first and wants to stick around at home, life (and the Force) has other plans for her. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I look up to her a lot, despite being more than half her age.

Song 5: “Training Montage” by Vince DiCola from the Rocky IV soundtrack. No explanation for this one is needed.

Song 6: “The Jedi Steps and Finale” from the Star Wars: The Force Awakens soundtrack. This one is hugely personal. Hugely! I cannot put into words the massive symbols and meaning this song has for me. Maybe someday, but not yet. You can read a blog post I wrote last January about that scene in the movie and some of my connections to it.

Song 7: “Can’t Stop” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Can’t stop the spirits when they need you…this life is more than just a read through… The spirits? Yes, especially SHE who is still guiding me. It’s time to LIVE as this is my one and only LIFE. Time to make my dreams come true!

Song 8: “Lose Yourself” by Eminem. I am not a fan of Eminem at all. However, I think you’ll agree with me that this song is legendary, one that will put my ideas into action and give me the kick I might need at times.

Song 9: “The Longest Wave” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The wave is here, my friend. The wave is here, in more ways than one. Did I tell you I intend to learn to surf this year?

Song 10: “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles. These lyrics are wrought with meaning for me and this part of my life’s journey: Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting…Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear…Here comes the sun, here comes the sun…And I say it’s all right…

wordThere are 93 other songs on the list, ones that I know will provide me with encouragement and guidance when I randomly shuffle the playlist. The universe is pretty good at selecting just the right song I need to hear at a particular time, and I wholeheartedly believe it still will guide me this year.

I’d love to hear what songs you have selected to be a part of your To Live Playlist for 2017! Please leave me a comment and tell me about one and what it means to you!

Until next time, 



“SEA”king ME and “SEA”king WE for 2017

Happy New Year! 2017 is going to be my year, and I hope to inspire you along my journey. Everyone I know gets so bogged down in img_0917their own schedules, full of busy-ness that ultimately benefits someone else. To that I say: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! As such I will be posting two challenges each Sunday to help you make 2017 your year, too.

“SEA”king ME to be Set Free: These will be simple challenges to inspire you to become your best self in 2017. The challenges will be featured on top of crystal aqua water from a photograph I took in Dublin.img_0918

“SEA”king WE for Humanity: These will be focused on something small you can do to help others and to set a good example while promoting humanity. The WE challenges feature a sunrise water image I shot in Florida.

All you have to do to play along is to complete the challenge sometime during the week, or hell, even the month if your schedule gets too crazy. The weekly challenge images will be posted each Sunday on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and when possible, I’ll write a post providing further insight into and/or ideas about the week’s challenges.

If you want, comment each week to let me know how the challenges are working for you. If not, no worries. There’s no judgment or scolding if you aren’t able to complete a challenge. However, I can guarantee you that you’ll feel pretty good if you do complete them.

I am committed to providing you with 52 weeks of ideas to make 2017 your best year, yet, both for yourself and to help those around you.

“No, this is not the beginning of a new chapter in my life; this is the beginning of a new book! That first book is already closed, ended, and tossed into the seas; this new book is newly opened, has just begun! Look, it is the first page! And it is a beautiful one!” – C. JoyBell C.

I hope you will join me for the new and beautiful chapters that await us in 2017!

Look for the Week 1 Challenges later today, which will be posted right here and also on social media!

With gratitude,