Day 18 of 31 Days of Summer Lovin’ 2016: Grow

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I took this photo yesterday of my tiger lilies using my iPhone.

The funny thing is, I never planted tiger lilies in my yard.

The flowers grew all by themselves in 2013. At that time, the single plant was about as tall as my shoulder.

In 2014, I had three tiger lily plants that grew, and last year, about 5 came up.

I’m now up to 8 plants scattered by nature in my flower beds.

Today’s photo depicts the original 2013 plant. It has grown to be 6 feet tall! It’s as tall as my husband and has more buds on it than ever.

I never had more than 2 flowers open at once. Today there are 6 open on the original plant, and the first bloom that opened dropped it’s first petal onto the ground.

I am grateful that these beauties decided to call my yard home.


Day 16 of 31 Days of Summer Lovin’ 2016: Dreamy


The pier has been swallowed up by fog, but I don’t care.

I walk out anyway into the nothingness.

My steps into the salt air are slow, each one with a purpose, moving forward.

I cannot see where I am walking, but my feet know the way through this wet veil of mystery.

My hair is dripping with droplets of water.

My soul is saturated with shame and sorrow.

I hear the waves crashing below, crashing with no regard for anything other than perpetuating their own violence.

They pound like the anguish pounds on my heart, forever pummeling my dreams and delusions.

A lone noise comes from the north, louder than the churning sea.

It’s the fog horn, a signal to mariners that they are almost home.

Am I?

I look down. My feet are invisible, consumed by the mist.

I am no longer walking but floating, floating into this unknown abyss of obscurity.

Once I reach the end, I stop, unnerved by the wrath around me.

The storm reaches its height, and I can wait no longer.

I raise my arms to the dark, swirling clouds, and surrender to the tempest.

Please. Pick me.

And she does.

She reaches for me, carefully taking my hands while pulling me towards her.

As I fall to the ground, her wisps embrace me, one at a time, closer to comfort.

My fear and my pride both transform into tears, giant wet tears uncontrollable and fierce.

She coddles and calms me.

She reassures and forgives me.

I am unworthy, but she accepts me while christening me anew.

She finally turns me around and releases me.

Unlike before, my feet do not know the way to go.

“Trust the path,” she whispers into my ear. “Trust yourself.”

Guided not by a horn but by my own inner compass, I take my first steps towards home, the gale finally left behind.


– Written by Jill Ocone, July 16, 2016





Day 14 of 31 Days of Summer Lovin’ 2016: Fruit

One of the aspects I like most about summer is the fruit. Cherries, blueberries, peaches, apricots, grapes, strawberries, plums…you name it! My 3 favorites are nectarines, pears, and pluots. If you’ve never heard of a pluot, it is a cross between a plum and an apricot. Very similar to a plum, but sweeter. I’ve also seen them called plumcots.

Today’s picture is one of my 3 favorite fruits that I edited in a new app called Prisma. It’s free in the App Store and has some neat filters.

July’s bounty of fresh fruit is at its height my friends! Enjoy!

Day 13 of 31 Days of Summer Lovin’ 2016: Nature

If you really know me, you are aware that I have some strange quirks.

Truth be told, I have a LOT of strange quirks.

One of those quirks is that I do not, under any circumstance, like to talk about or hear about a certain subject that is very natural to every single living thing.

The best way I can bring up this subject in a round-about way so I don’t get sick is by calling it….

not number one but the other one:

yes, THAT.

I don’t know why I have such an aversion to THAT, but I have been known to actually vomit after overhearing people talk about it.

When my niece was 4, she asked me to help her go potty. Yeah, it wasn’t just potty, it was the dreaded… know. I helped her, and when she was done, quickly rushed her out of the bathroom and proceeded to vomit like a champ.

I can’t even change diapers without becoming nauseous, one of the many reasons I am completely okay with being childless.

And I am not exaggerating.

I mean I literally vomit.

Funny I can talk about vomit no problem, but not THAT.

The source of this issue within me remains unknown. Friends have long speculated that something regarding THAT must have happened when I was little. However, I cannot offer any insight; when I think too hard about it, I will end up vomiting, queasy and sick, thus ruining my day and perhaps my couch in the process.

It’s taking a lot of control over here even as I type this, but I am up for the challenge of writing something outside of my comfort zone.  Plus, this topic is the perfect response to today’s prompt of NATURE.

Let me explain.

Last week, a friend and I visited Batsto Village here in New Jersey, which is a historical site contained within Wharton State Forest. While there, we witnessed something that was interestingly ironic, considering my issues.

We sat in the picnic area, surrounded by trees, to eat lunch.  As we ate, we passed the time by talking and catching up with each other. In the corner of my eye, I noticed movement on the ground to my left. I looked and saw something very small moving along about 20 feet or so from where we were.

Interrupting our conversation, I said, “What is that?” to my friend, and we both got up to check it out.

I thought it was a little mouse or mole or something, but as I got closer, I could see it was two very small things, not just one.

After watching it for a minute, my friend said, “I think it’s a dung beetle.”

And sure enough, that’s what is was.

Of all things, a dung beetle.

Cue the nausea.

He was all black and about the size of a quarter. He was pushing what I will refer to as his “lunch,” which was much bigger than he was. To put it in perspective, it would be like an adult human trying to push an ice cream truck.

Of course, I can’t fully describe his lunch because I’m ready to dry heave. Yes, yes, I know…therapists who might be reading this will hear a “cha-ching!” right here and immediately send me information about how to schedule an appointment.

So here’s this little beetle pushing his lunch.

I’ll be honest: I did feel a little queasy, but at the same time, it was a very interesting process to observe.

He would push, his lunch would roll, he’d stop for a pause. He’d push again, sometimes get flipped over, turn back around, and keep on moving.

This little guy advanced at a pretty good clip. He was a hard worker who let nothing stand in his way. If there was an obstacle, he figured out a way around it. He was on a mission to bring his lunch to….I guess his lair? His home? His cave?

After a few minutes, my friend and I went back to the picnic tables and finished our meal, all the while keeping an eye on the beetle to watch his progress. Then we became distracted by our conversation, and when we looked up again, he was gone, having disappeared into the forest.

This brief encounter with nature taught me a few lessons.

There is a purpose for all of nature’s creatures and nature’s things on this Earth, even THAT. While the idea might make me sick, it illustrates the whole “circle of life” concept.

The little beetle also demonstrated that hard work will pay off, and that it is possible to successfully navigate any obstacle in the way.  I assume this little guy was successful in reaching his destination, the reward of his hard work being his tasty lunch (gag).

Simplicity in nature, friends. Some simple lessons from a simple creature in nature that I’m sure is overlooked more often than observed.

I intentionally did not include a photograph because, well…please excuse me while I go take something to ease my queasiness. 🙂

Day 12 of 31 Days of Summer Lovin’ 2016: Relax

Nothing much on the docket this week, except time to relax and be with people I care about. SUMMER and RELAX are synonyms for me, but even during the summer, I find it difficult sometimes to get the hamster off the wheel that’s in my brain. Since I have difficulty with relaxing, several friends recommended that I try meditating, so I did. And it worked!

If you are interested in trying meditation but don’t know where to start, you are in luck. Every couple of months the Chopra Center puts out a free 21-day Meditation Experience featuring Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey, and guess what? One started yesterday! Even though you missed the first day, you can still participate. It’s free and everything is available both online and through their app for 5 days after the set date. The theme for this challenge is “Getting Unstuck: Creating a Limitless Life.”

I completed Day One yesterday and found it to be a wonderful way to end my day.

You can access all of the links for the experience on the Chopra Center Homepage here, including Facebook page, Twitter, app stores, and more.

Day 11 of 31 Days of Summer Lovin’ 2016: Fun

IMG_7800The best kind of fun is summer fun, and for me, the best summer fun is made with these four young people. Whether it’s going to the boardwalk/aquarium/Six Flags, telling jokes, or beeping at random people and waving as we drive on by, I laugh the most when I am with E, N, H, and I. They are my four heartstrings, my four blessings. Each one makes Auntie’s heart smile.

Day 10 of 31 Days of Summer Lovin’ 2016: Flops

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The only thing better than flip flops on my feet are bare feet. Growing up a mile from the beach meant footwear was optional. Clamdiggers like myself became experts at an early age in barefoot bicycle riding, navigating rock driveways and hot pavement while barefoot, and violating the “no shoes no service” signs in a covert manner as quickly as possible without bringing attention to our feet.

I learned the hard way that sometimes shoes were necessary when, during my first week of college, I chose to go barefoot to a frat party. “Oh, we never wear shoes at home,” I said as my friends balked at seeing me with no shoes on as we walked the mile distance to the frat house. While I could expertly navigate a dark street while barefoot and had successfully attended parties at home with no shoes on, I was naive about what, exactly, was meant by the term “frat party.”

I quickly learned there is a time and a place for bare feet. I heeded the lesson even more when, two weeks later, I was still trying to scrub the frat party residue off my feet.

I used to be a nut for Old Navy flip flops and had every color so my flops would always match my outfit. Unfortunately, I had to sacrifice fashion coordination for health as they began to cause pain for my feet and my back. Please note I’m not blaming Old Navy or the shoes; rather, it’s because of being diagnosed with Lupus and Fibromyalgia. The flops just didn’t agree with my conditions, that’s all, and it was time to find a new style.

Today, my go-to flops & sandals are Sanuk Yoga Mats and Yoga Slings.  They are comfortable, stylish, and perfect for my flat feet. Worth every penny in my opinion! (I’m not being paid at all to say that…it’s an honest endorsement!)


Day 09 of 31 Days of Summer Lovin’ 2016: Water

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Crystal waves of




Still and then flowing,

Churning and then surging,

Erases the day’s debris

From the shore.

As night turns into morning,

The tide recedes

And returns

To calm.

The body of

Salt water,

The cure to whatever ails,

Christens a brand new day:

Each blue drop

a tiny part of the

Huge blue vastness

Brimming with





“Water” by Jill Ocone, July 9, 2016