Live Life to the Fullest

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A classmate that I went through middle and high school with passed away earlier this week at the age of 44 from a long illness.  He was on my mind all month as I saw various posts on social media about his situation.  We had a lot of classes together from 7th grade through senior year, but we never ran with the same crowds.  I haven’t seen him or talked to him since we graduated in 1989.

He didn’t know that I admired his intense love of the ocean and his unique spirit.  He was a very avid surfer and skilled skateboarder.  It came as no surprise to me that he led a very interesting life, splitting his time between New Jersey and Costa Rica, living on his own terms with a focus on experiences versus material possessions.  He followed his passions intently and did his best to bring harmony and love to those around him.  He accomplished more in his 44 years on Earth than most who live twice as long do.  As many are mourning his loss, I send my condolences to his wife, his mother, his brothers, his family, and his friends and pray for their strength and peace.

Last night, several classmates shared a status that he posted on January 22, 2014, which really struck a cord with me:

“We really take the small things in this life for granted and forget how amazing and fragile our bodies and this planet is! Tomorrow begins the sixth week of my suffering, after 104.7 degree fever, then waking up 3 days later unable to use my legs, I sure have learned to appreciate even the most simplest things that each day presents, the sun, a hummingbird, the feel of grass between my toes, and I could go on… I don’t want people to feel sad, want to help, try and cheer me up, say they are sorry, there is enough sorrow in the world and we all have to play the hand we are dealt. What I Want people to do is not take life for granted!! 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!!! “the man who lives life to the fullest has the least fear of death”.’ – Scott Domanic.

Thank you, Scott, for your wise words.  May the light continue to shine on in all of our journeys, illuminated by your example.

 

 

 

Something to SEA: Rainy Day Clicks for 1/30/2016

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Hello and welcome!  It’s been a long week here, digging out from last week’s blizzard and dealing with other factors of life that are a bit messy right now.  Today I am thankful to be able to finish writing several articles because I am under deadline, but I had a moment to share this week’s roundup of interesting links for you.  Once my articles are complete, I look forward to writing here more, and to putting my list of goals for my next birthday year together.  Have any ideas?  Please share!  Hope your day is a good one!

My List of 10 Things I Will Do While I’m 44 – 13 days left, then I am transitioning my “Living 44” site into SoulSEAker.  Any suggestions as to what should be on my big 45 list?  Please leave your ideas in the comments section.  Please remember that finances are very limited and that I have Lupus/Fibromyalgia (which are pretty active right now).

7 Positive Ways to Deal with Regret – perfect as my birthday is approaching.

“Mean” Joe Green and Coke Kid Reunite Almost 40 Years Later – I remember the original commercial very well.

Exactly The Right Words, Exactly The Right Way: Reagan’s Amazing Challenger Disaster Speech – We were home on a snow day and I remember seeing the explosion live on a grainy console television.

Mayim Meets a Human Rights Hero – I teach a George Orwell essay set in Burma (now Myanmar) and this is an excellent site from Mayim Bialik featuring a young person who is making a difference there.

How I Learned to Write Every Day – some good advice for fellow writers like me who have difficulty finding time to write

8 Things to Look For in “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens” – contains spoilers, but hopefully you’ve seen it by now.

When Dreams Change: It’s Okay To Let Go And Move One – been there…

Feeling Sad?  Try These Quick Pick-Me-Ups – from Dani at Positively Present

and finally…

Susannah Conway’s new book “Londontown” is available for preorder!  And if you haven’t read her book “This I Know,” here’s a link for that book…it honestly changed my life and I am grateful to have stumbled across her work.  Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic is another book that had a very big influence on me.

Have a swell week my friend!

Until next time,

Jill

 

Inspiration Surrounds You

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Take a look around you.

Right now.

You are surrounded by inspiration.

There’s Hope…Faith…Perseverance…Joy…Determination…Endurance…Peace…and Love.

You might have to look beyond the surface, but it’s there.

It might be found in the person sitting next you.  Or behind you.  Or across from you.

Or inside you.

Thinking about all you have overcome, all you have seen, all you have endured, and all you have learned…

You’ve come so far.

You might not see it.  But I do.

It’s there.

Right there, in your heart.  In your eyes.

You are strong.  You are important.  You matter.

Yes.  You do.

Something to SEA: Blizzard Day Clicks for 1/23/2016

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Yeah, we’re in the thick of a nasty blizzard here in New Jersey.  It’s a terrible storm, and with the full moon, tides are expected to be much higher than normal.  I’m stocked with enough food and supplies, but am worried about what will happen if we lose electricity…it’s definitely getting wonky, and many friends have already lost power so I’m lucky right now.  The wind is picking up and I’ll admit I am concerned.  However, everything is out of my hands, and I am praying that we (and my family & friends) are safe throughout the storm’s wrath.

Here are some interesting links I found this week.  If you are in the Northeast and have electricity, today’s the perfect day to check them out.

Snowstorms in the 70s vs. Today – perfect post for today by Victoria Fedden

Message in a Bottle Dropped Off Jersey Shore Washes Up Across the Ocean – what a journey

Soul To Soul:  Celebration and Enlightenment – from Stephane Watanabe, “The Girl Who Knows”

It’s Your World Now (Tribute to Glenn Frey)

All The Things that Softly Kill Me – excellent post by Danielle LaPorte

Unforgettable Kindness Leads to a Dream Come True at Walt Disney Resort

Postcards from Pripyat, Chernobyl – short film by Danny Cook – a must see

5 Tips to Get Past the Post Holiday Blues – by Dani Dipirro

On Generosity – by Elizabeth Gilbert

That’s all for today, friends!  Thanks for stopping by!

Until next time,

Jill

Let’s Dance and Laugh in the Rain


Last summer, I took my 10-year-old nephew to Six Flags Great Adventure on a mostly overcast and muggy July day. It was his first time there, and it was the first time the 2 of us had ever done something together without anyone else. It was a special day and we had an awesome time. There was the chance for thunderstorms in the afternoon, which kept a lot of people away from the park.

That was a bonus, resulting in hardly any wait for the rides. The most we stood in line was for 10 minutes. Our tally for the day ride-wise: 16 times on Skull Mountain, 8 times on Runaway Train, two times on the Sky Ride, 1 time on the Safari, 1 time on the Log Flume, and 2 times on Congo River Rapids, which completely drenched me from head to toe and made him laugh.  In fact, the day was full of laughs.

The most memorable part of the day happened about 4:30 pm. Thunderstorms, indeed, pummeled us, and we stood outside under the locker overhang by Skull Mountain. It was absolutely pouring. As we stood there, I watched people running past us in the rain, and every single person was screaming yet laughing at the same time, with a huge smiles as they tried to make it to dry land.  The park had music playing, and the song “1, 2, 3, 4” by the Plain White T’s came over the PA system.

A family of 5 (mother, father, and 3 children between the ages of 6 and 12 I would guess) was running in the rain, then they stopped.  Each of them then jumped in the puddles in unison, almost as if they had planned it. They were laughing and smiling, and I was witnessing a moment of pure joy.

It was the perfect song for this perfect scene, a folksy song with the phrase “I love you” repeated several times.  This family clearly loved each other.

I completely forgot about this moment until I recently heard the song again in CVS. The faces on that family came flooding back to me, their smiles, their sheer happiness playing in the pouring rain, and I could picture it as if I saw it yesterday. A simple moment of fun, of togetherness, and of love.

It got me thinking. That’s what life is all about…learning to laugh and dance in the rain. The rain didn’t ruin this family’s day. Instead, the rain made the day better. And that’s a much better attitude to adopt.

The next time it rains in my world, I vow to laugh and dance. I will embrace the rain and relish with delight in its deluge. I hope you will, too.

 The Approach of the Storm


The Family who Dances and Laughs in the Rain…thanks for the lesson in this small yet profound moment!  (The young man to the left in the yellow shorts is an interloper here.)

 

A Delicate Touch of Winter

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We finally got a little bit of snow yesterday into last evening, which was a surprise to many.  As you probably could guess, I’m not a fan of winter at all, and would much prefer the sunshine and warmth of summer all year long.  Yet there’s a little part of me that gets excited over the first snowfall of winter, which usually happens much earlier than mid-January.  Usually, it’s pre-Christmas snow, with magic all of its own.

When I saw the first flake fall yesterday, I yelled, “It’s snowing!” like I was a little kid.  Like I used to do when I was young.  And like many of my social media contacts immediately posted on their feeds.

This snow was light, pretty, and covered the grass and cars without being a mess to deal with.  This snow didn’t warrant many delayed openings, any closures, or any stocking up of milk, bread, and eggs.  Just a nice, delicate touch of winter.  As I sit here writing this, I’m under my blankie with a cup of coffee to my left, with some old New Order tunes quietly playing in the background, and I’m glancing out the window as the sun shines upon the blanket of white.  I’m warm, cozy, and rather enjoying this simple, winter scene.

It’s serene and peaceful.  A moment to remember.

 

Something to SEA: Rainy Day Clicks for 1/16/2016

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I think something interesting might happen today, simply based upon the date:  1/16/16.  Perhaps I’m wrong, but I’m keeping an eye out for something different, something good.  It’s been another whirlwind of a week…gone by in the blink of an eye.  Hopefully, you’ll find some quiet time to check out this week’s batch of interesting links.  Sit back with a cup of coffee or tea, listen to your favorite music, and enjoy.

A new course and giveaway from one of my favorites, Susannah Conway

A Tribute to David Bowie – by Elizabeth Gilbert

What You Should Really Do in January – by Lesley Pyne

Are You Living Your Own Dream or Someone Else’s? – by Michael Hyatt

Forget New Year, New You! – by Mallika Chopra

How to Make 2016 Your Most Productive Year – by Samantha Sharf, about the Spark Planner.  I use 3 planners and Spark is my favorite so far.

ADAMJK Says it’s Going to Be OK (with FREE folding fortune teller .pdf file download, like we used when we were kids) – by Terri Stone

Danielle Laporte’s Fire Starter Sessions Free Audio Course

and finally…

The Many Faces of Alan Rickman – How to be a Villain – RIP Sir.  My all time favorite Alan Rickman character quote is, “Well, at least I didn’t use a spoon.” – from Robin Hood-Prince of Thieves

I hope your day is fantastic!

Until next time,

Jill

PS – Don’t forget…check out Susannah Conway’s new course and giveaway by clicking the image below:

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Something to SEA: Rainy Day Clicks for 1/9/2016

20160109 Blog Photo New FontsSpiraling.  That’s the title of the picture I selected for today, because at times this week it felt like my world was spiraling out of control.  Busy and hectic.  Despite the spiraling, I’ve kept my ground and stood firm, for perhaps the first time in my life.  My word for 2016 is DETERMINED, and I am determined not to let things out of my control negatively affect me.  I even surprised myself…this week was a success in that department!

I was able to gather some interesting sites this week, and I hope that you save them for a quiet time when there’s nothing much going on. Don’t ignore the people around you to check these out.

The “CUP” List: On Living Realistically from Holstee – Cup vs. Bucket list.  I like it.

This Year, Change Your Mind – by Oliver Sacks

The Norwegian Secret to Enjoying a Long Winter – Some good advice here, as I hate winter.

50 Things To Do in 2016 – adorably illustrated by Gala Darling

My Life in Trees – from Linda at Spiritual Dragonfly.  Links to find your trees too!

21 Experts on Finding Your Own Unique and Authentic Path in Life 

Life Teaches You How to Live – Great post by Elizabeth Gilbert

How to Write a Simple and Beautiful Manifesto – Alexandra Franzen

Some links this week were provided by Positively Present’s Dani DiPirro.  Check out her blog too!

And finally….drumroll please…

Current Star Wars Movie Schedule Confirms Boba Fett Movie Coming in 2020 – YES!  You know I couldn’t get away without sharing something Star Wars…and this news made my day!

Have a superb week!

Jill

 

 

Return to the Past to Move on to the Future

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The photo accompanying today’s post is definitely NOT the best picture I’ve ever taken.

But it makes my heart beat with excitement and my brain fill with nostalgia.

It gives me hope and inspiration.

It awakens the force inside me.

It’s no secret that I’m a huge Star Wars fan, and I have been since 1977.  I remember seeing all 3 of the original films in the theater with my brother, uncle and grandfather.  Summer days were spent watching the films taped from HBO on VHS tapes (I would venture to say several hundred times each) then going outside to play. I watched them so much that I can still hear the original sounds, long before the digital enhancements and added scenes made buying a whole new set of tapes or DVDs necessary. I was always jealous of the Star Wars figures my brother got for Christmas and for his birthday, and played with them more than my dolls or my other toys.

Star Wars was my childhood.

In the 2000s, when the prequels were released, I saw each one in the theater, and while I liked them simply because of the Star Wars connection, it wasn’t the same feeling as with the original 3.  In my opinion, Episode III was the best out of the prequels, and I still get chills watching Anakin battle Obi Wan in the duel on Mustafar and hearing Darth Vadar’s first breath in the mask.

Fast forward to 2012, when Disney acquired Lucasfilm and announced the future release of Episode VII.  Every day after all sorts of film-related rumors were daily internet fodder, amid true facts about the production.

Here’s where the story of today’s photograph comes into play.

In July 2014, I traveled to Ireland (with my mother and my friend).  Not to go off-topic, but when I was there, I felt like I was home.  Ireland felt very familiar to me, like I had been there before.  It was dreamy yet real, and for my entire visit, I was enchanted yet grounded. I loved everything about it, and one of my dreams is to return to Ireland someday and write.  Just me and my words.

Anyway, our tour took us to the Skelligs on July 29, 2014.

Well, not really.

When we visited The Skellig Experience Visitor Centre in County Kerry, we learned about Little Skellig and Skellig Michael, the larger of the two which has a sixth century Christian monastery at its peak.  However, we were told that visiting the Skelligs wouldn’t be a part of our excursion, as they were off-limits for the entire week. Some were very disappointed that we couldn’t go to see the Skelligs in person.

In contrast, I was elated.  And I couldn’t believe what I was hearing from our tour director.

He said that scenes for Star Wars Episode VII were being filmed on Skellig Michael, and J. J. Abrams and Mark Hamill were both there on set.  Filming.  8 miles offshore in the distance.  Right there.  Today.

He then asked us all to get back onto our bus, and our bus driver took us as close as we could possibly get to see the Skelligs.  On the way up the steep hill, we passed the film camp on our left with tents, craft service vans, prop trucks, and other vehicles.  We could see small boats going to and from Skellig Michael.

Could Luke Skywalker be on that boat, right there, to my left?  Or rather, is he at the peak of Skellig Michael?

I took so many photos of Skellig Michael, and they are all pretty much the same as today’s image above.  All I needed, though, was one photograph to capture this moment.  This very special moment that would never happen again.

Again, I know this is not a great photograph.  But hidden in that photograph, someplace, is my childhood, my will to write, my sanctuary.

After the trip, life returned to normal, and as each trailer for Episode VII was released, every theory I could come up with about the film’s plot was confirmed yet simultaneously refuted by my brother, by friends, by colleagues, and even by students.  Let alone the Internet!

My anticipation grew every day leading up to the Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens release date.  I proudly bought my tickets (two months early, mind you) for the 7 pm showing on December 17, a day before the actual release date.

And I went with the perfect companion:  my brother.  We got to the theater two hours early, along with many other die hards, and applauded as the opening crawl began.

So many collective cheers, gasps, and tears as together we watched the saga unfold before our eyes.

However, I was anxiously awaiting to see the Skelligs.

And I waited.

And waited.

It took a while, but finally, there it was.

Skellig Michael.

I recognized it immediately.  The last scene in the movie.

I shuddered and got the chills as the scene unfolded, not only because of what was happening onscreen (I don’t want to give anything major away for those who haven’t seen the movie yet) but because I thought that maybe, on that piece of land far off in the distance, I was there.

I got the chills again during the second time I saw the movie.

And the third.

Perhaps it’s symbolic.  It appears that Episode VIII might pick up where Episode VII: The Force Awakens ends.

At the Skelligs.

A perfectly symbolic place, from its real history to what it stands for in the film.

A return to the past to move on to the future.  True on so many levels.

It’s true that the force inside me to write has been awakened.

Perhaps I will also return to the past to move onto the future.

Perhaps a return to Ireland is part of my journey.