Let’s LIVE This August!

Since I’m feeling almost exactly the same way today, I decided to reblog my post from the beginning of August 2016 with some minor updates…read on:

August is like the Sunday of Summer.

It sure is.

Don’t get me wrong…I still love every summer day. I just want to hold onto Summer so much. It’s my season, when I am my best self.

June is a new beginning, a giant sigh of relief. It’s full of opportunity and wonder, like January 1 kicks off every year. Anything is possible. It’s refreshing and reassuring. It’s also deceiving, leading us on to believe that there’s plenty of time to get our summer “to do” and “to enjoy” lists completed.

Then comes July, which is like my favorite pillow. I can hug it a thousand times, or play with it over and over, and it never loses its shape. It’s there when I wake, and when I say goodnight to the day. I can sleep soundly with that comforting pillow, free from worries and nightmares. It reassures me that tomorrow is another day when I can still start fresh, no need to really be concerned about the passing days…

As July wanes into August, things change again, ever so subtly. Each day is now filled with a little more urgency. Sunsets get earlier as the sun’s early evening slant changes its angle and becomes less intense day by day. Many of the bright summer flowers have lost their blooms, and nights become slightly cooler by the week. I look back at June and July, and wonder where the hell those days went. I then look ahead at what’s still on my summer goal lists, removing a few because there’s no longer enough time to accomplish everything I had hoped to do.

The lone cricket’s serenade that woke me early this morning affirmed that yes, it is indeed August already.

So, what do we do now?

Let’s live in the present and forget our lists.

Let’s turn off our notifications and stop being a slave to technology.

Let’s hold onto each moment, to each day, to each experience.

Let’s notice the breeze blowing through our hair and feel the rain on our skin.

Let’s put our feet in the salt water and find eternity in the waves.

Let’s savor the ice cream cone, the watermelon, the corn on the cob, the peaches and plums.

Let’s laugh and sing with family and friends.

Let’s be grateful for all that we have, for all that we are, for all that we do, and for all in our lives.

Let’s face each day without worry, without fear, and without strings attached.

Let’s soak up every single second of August without leaving any wasted time behind.

Let’s live.

Let’s live this August.

 

An Update for April…

Hello, friend! It’s been two weeks since I posted and I assure you I haven’t fallen off the face of the Earth. Rather, I’ve been immersed in life, so to speak, and as I enjoy the quiet time here this morning with the birds singing outside, I realize it’s time for an update.

I think we are finally over the winter hump here along the Jersey Shore, so much so that I will be putting my winter coats away today. Spring is here, indeed. The yard is full of spring flowers, the finches haven’t left the feeders, and the tiniest wren hasn’t stopped belting out his song. It’s wonderful to see colors and life after the long winter. It’s a spring of early arrivals, as our maple trees already have leaves; I can’t remember a spring when they had leaves in the third week of April. We also had a hummingbird show up already, the earliest I can remember. I love this time of year. It’s when the breeze that blows through the windows smells the sweetest. I know how fortunate I am to not be bothered by springtime allergies, as this time of year is difficult for others. That’s been on my gratitude list the past few days.

Another thing on my gratitude list is my chubby-cheeked and full-head-of-hair new niece. Aniina entered the world on April 9 at 10:45 AM. Mom, baby, and family are doing well. It was wonderful to spend such a special time with my nephews as we waited for her arrival. She’s two weeks old today and smiled for me yesterday, despite her belly ache.

A giant “Whew!” as both our yearbook and my first round of summer editorial work were both completed on Friday. With those off the to-do list, I can now refocus on my personal writing (including my novel). My mother was unexpectedly admitted to the hospital for 4 days earlier this month, so that combined with Aniina’s arrival and my deadlines left little writing time. Thankfully, my mom is okay, and her episode seems to have been linked to her seizure disorder. I also enjoyed a day-jaunt to New York City with one of my favorite friends, where we took in the sights of Battery Park, The Strand Bookstore, Herald Square, and Madison Square Garden. I also channeled strength from the Fearless Girls statue, and I think it worked. There’s so much more to look forward to this season, including my niece E’s confirmation and eighth-grade graduation, my nephew H’s birthday, and the return of the powerboats for the offshore race that is just awesome beyond words.

Among the chaos, moments of serendipity continue to occur, some little yet some so big they blow my mind. The message in some is obvious but in others? To be honest, I have no idea, although I don’t mind. I have resolved to ride their wave and to see how life will connect the meanings, and I intend to enjoy every minute of that ride.

I took a leap and entered three of my poems into the Writer’s Digest annual competition, which is outside of my comfort zone. I do not expect to win anything, but I feel good that I at least entered the contest. I have been writing over the past two weeks, but not so much on the novel. However, I pledge to resume arriving at school early to focus on it starting tomorrow. I’m still hopeful to have a viable first draft for the writing conference I am attending in June, and then I hope to revise during the summer. A little secret…even if it is just one sentence, I will finish my novel in August where this whole crazy idea started, in a city that holds my heart. It’s fitting to do so, and my spirit guide deserves it to happen this way.

It’s a great time to be alive. At this time a year ago, I felt absolutely awful. What a 180, as this year, I feel great with my Lupus is in check. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to feel good…it’s been a very long time coming, and this is the best I have felt in at least ten years. In fact, I’ve never felt more comfortable in my own skin or more confident. I might be overweight or hate the way my hair looks. But you know what? I don’t care anymore. I’m here to live, to laugh, and to write, and if anything about me doesn’t appeal to others or even to myself, I no longer give a hoot. I go on. With every passing day, I am more and more fearless. And that, my friend, makes each day worth living even more than the last.

Yes, oh yes, it’s sure is a great time to be alive, and I embrace each moment with open arms and an emphatic YES! I hope you do, too.

Until next time,

Jill

 

 

 

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…

Onward!

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, 

Jill

 

What Coffee Beans MUST Want to Be When They Grow Up…

It’s no big secret that I love all things Peppermint.  My favorite is Peppermint Coffee.

NOT Peppermint Mocha.

Peppermint.

For years, my father-in-law would send me boxes of Publix’s Peppermint Frost coffee beans (sold under the name of Brothers Gourmet Coffee) after he and my mother-in-law arrived in Florida for the winter.

Poppy would literally buy out the three Publix stores near his Melbourne Beach home. When those boxes were delivered, it was like a little slice of heaven appeared on my doorstep, better than anything Santa could ever bring. I would immediately dump a bag into my grind and brew coffee maker, and as the aroma of the peppermint filled the room, my first cup would be ready to enjoy.

Pure bliss.

Poppy sent home enough beans to last well through the first half of the year. I am usually very seasonal with things, as I have issues with anything Christmas-related before Thanksgiving or after Christmas Day itself (*see Seasonal Acceptance Disorder below, which is a self-created and self-diagnosed condition).

However, THAT coffee was so good I made the exception and didn’t think twice about having a cup in May. I would always save enough beans in my freezer for the following season, just in case.

As Keurig brewers became the rage and replaced the traditional drip coffee makers, many retailers stopped selling flavored coffee beans, including Publix.

It was a sad day when, in 2013, Poppy told me he could not find Peppermint Frost coffee beans in any Publix. He probably visited every Publix within a 60-mile radius of his house in his valiant effort to locate them, but it was not meant to be.

It was just as well, since my grind and brew pot shut down around the same time and was relegated to the Cemetery of Faithful Coffee Makers after brewing its final cup.

Santa brought me a new-fangled K-cup brewer in 2013, but all I find was Peppermint Mocha pods, which wasn’t the same.

The allure of Peppermint coffee lost its luster when we lost Poppy in April of 2014.  For the last two holiday seasons, I had a cup here and there, but not regularly. I think it was the mental connection to losing Poppy that made reject any K-cup with Peppermint in it, even hot chocolate.

Until this year.

While shopping at Target earlier this month, I wandered down the coffee aisle, and I did a double take.

fullsizerender-3Candy Cane K-cups by Archer Farms (Target’s brand).

Could it be?

Peppermint, SANS Mocha?

My heart was ready to give this coffee a try.

I bought a box and waited until Thanksgiving to try it, so as to not upset my Seasonal Acceptance Disorder*.

With the anticipation of a wonderful Thanksgiving day ahead, I took the first pod out of the box and put it into my machine. I hit BREW, and as the machine worked its magic, I recognized that sweet elixir of a smell in the air.

When the coffee was ready, I added my stevia and cream. I sat for a moment and just let the aroma dance around my senses as it wafted through the kitchen.

Then, I took my first sip, and I almost fell to my knees.

Holy crap.

THIS IS IT.

These Archer Farms Candy Cane K-Cups brew a cup of coffee that is 98% the same as one brewed by those beloved Peppermint Frost coffee beans from Publix.

What is that missing 2 Percent?

Poppy. If Poppy had sent me these K-Cups, then it would be 100%.

Pure Bliss, yet again.

I’ve had four cups so far this season, with many more to come.

Each sip brings additional joy to my heart as I picture Poppy, the Purveyor of Peppermint, smiling down with that little smile he had, proud that he led me to the right coffee at the right time. Thanks, Poppy.

With each sip of my morning coffee today, I kept thinking that this heavenly flavor must be what each coffee bean wants to be when it grows up. Take that, Chock full ‘o Nuts!

I am not being paid for or compensated in any way for this raving endorsement of Target’s Archer Farms Candy Cane K-Cups. The Candy Cane K-Cups are available for a limited time, so hit up your local Target now before I channel Poppy and buy out their entire supply.

* Seasonal Acceptance Disorder: The inability to enjoy seasonal flavors, decorations, celebrations, or media outside of the regular calendar season. Seasonal Acceptance Disorder can cause mental anguish, the shakes, and the need for therapy. Most patients diagnosed with Seasonal Acceptance Disorder can only watch Christmas movies between the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Such patients may experience undue stress and rage upon experiencing holiday displays six months before said holiday, usually taking to social media to express their extreme dismay, and cannot actively participate in events such as Christmas in July without severe side effects.

Something to SEA: Rainy Day Clicks for 4/8/2016

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Hello, friends! It’s been a while since I’ve posted because I am having difficulty balancing my schedule lately. Too much going on, and I am stretched quite thin until the end of April with many deadlines and responsibilities. During my down time, I have been doing a lot of thinking and soul-searching, and I know that once these deadlines are met, I must sit down and reprioritize my life. It has to happen. Changes must be made in order for me to have a life worth living.  It’s long overdue.

The time available for trolling the Internet has been slim to none, but I’ve collected a few worthy clicks for you.  Hope you enjoy them!

NOT THIS – Elizabeth Gilbert has summed up exactly what I’ve been feeling.

Your Life is Too Valuable to Waste Chasing Possessions 

10 Famous Authors on the Importance of Keeping a Journal

Discovering Dublin’s Coastal Villages – yes, I think I will

What’s Straight Across the Ocean When You’re At the Beach – interesting…Portugal is across from me

One Sure Way to Refuel Our Spirit: This is What Soulfood Looks Like 

How To Avoid the Power of the Drift – by Michael Hyatt

Have a wonderful week!

Until next time,

Jill

Something to SEA: Don’t Miss THIS Opportunity

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One of my favorite television shows is “Cheers.”  The classic story lines, superb acting, hysterical moments, and witty one-liners keep me coming back for more 24 years after its original run on NBC ended. (Sidebar-How has it been 24 years since the finale?!?! It seems like yesterday!)

“Cheers” used to be a staple on TV Land, back before their original programming overtook the classics.  For several years, I could not find reruns of the classic series on any channel.  I bought a few episodes from iTunes, so I was able to rewatch those, but I missed seeing all of the episodes and couldn’t afford to purchase the DVD box set.

Thankfully, both The Hallmark Channel and MeTV started airing “Cheers” again last autumn. My DVR records each and every episode so I can enjoy the show whenever it is most convenient for me.  With my busy schedule, I rarely have the time to actually watch an episode, and more often have an episode playing just for background noise.

However, there are some episodes that are so good they make me stop what I am doing and watch it for the “nth” time.

One such episode is the series finale, “One for the Road.” I watched it last month, and the idea for this post has been brewing since then.  I struggled until now to find the right words that conveyed the magnitude of a seemingly innocent statement made by one of the series regulars as they all said goodbye to each other and to their audience.

“One for the Road” is one of the best series finale episodes ever made, with so much happening on both literal and symbolic levels. For instance, I love that Sam goes over and adjusts the Geronimo picture as a tribute to Nicholas Colasanto (who played Coach), and that Sam exits the last scene by walking into the pool room (which is how he entered the series in Episode 1, walking in from the pool room).

There is one quote by Dr. Frasier Crane (played by Kelsey Grammar) that really hits me in the gut every single time I hear it:

“Time goes by so fast. People move in and out of your life. You must never miss an opportunity to tell these people how much they mean to you.”

He then goes on to tell his friends that he, he, he…. he trails off, and what is left unsaid is that he loves them all.

Frasier’s simple statement got me thinking.

How many times have I had the opportunity to tell the important people in my life how much they mean to me?

A zillion.

How many times have I actually done it?

Probably never.

Here’s a haunting example.

I was in a very cranky mood the very last time I spoke to my father before he passed away in December of 2014. I let the effects of a terrible day poison my being and my soul.  When I was asked to drop something off at my parents’ house, I was not in the best of spirits.  He saw that I was disheartened and irritated.  He hugged me and said that he hoped tomorrow would be a better day for me.  I left in a huff, choosing to go home where I could mope and sulk instead of spending a little more time with him and my mother.

Two days later, Dad passed away in his sleep from a massive stroke.

Instead of appreciating the chance to spend time with him two days earlier, I allowed the poison from my bad day to infect me, preventing me from savoring a moment that, in retrospect, I should have cherished.

I never got a chance to tell him, one last time, that I appreciated him, simply because I let things that were out of my control overwhelm me.

That was, and still is, a hard lesson to swallow. I know I cannot go back to change that moment, but if I could, oh how I would…

Hearing Frasier’s words last month reminded me of the painful lessons I learned from that fateful day in December 2014, but Dad would be proud that I learned from my mistakes:

  • I will no longer allow the day’s poison to infect me.  I will leave the poison at its source, and do everything possible to rise up positively against its negativity.  I will find the good in each day, no matter how hard I might have to look.
  • I will treat everyone with kindness and compassion, no matter what negative influence(s) might be present.
  • I will cherish each moment spent with loved ones, friends, colleagues, and students, and be present during those moments.
  • I will let people special to me know how much they mean to me. For example, I might write a note or a card to thank someone for their presence in my life.  Perhaps I’ll send a picture with some words of gratitude or share a memory that I hold dear.   My goal is to reach out to at least 3 people per week through handwritten means (versus text, email, social media, or any other form of technological connection).
  • Finally, I will do my best to not complain about things that are out of my control.  Instead, I will take each moment as it comes and deal with the situation the best I can without letting it overpower me.

Frasier Crane’s words of wisdom are as poignant and true today as they were in 1992.

Don’t miss an opportunity to tell the people who mean the world to you how much they mean to you before it is too late…because you might never have that opportunity again.

Don’t wait another minute to change your life for the better by heeding these important lessons.

The time is now.

Start today.

 

 

Something to SEA: Rainy Day Clicks for 3/5/3016

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Hello and welcome once again to the end of another week here on Earth.  An interesting week, with one extra day, snow, the return of Scott Kelly to our home planet after a year in space, the beginning of a new month, cotton candy sunsets, the budding of daylilies, and more. Spring is definitely coming, and one of the yearly signs of spring that I get excited for is the opening of a restaurant in my town called Shrimp Box.  They close before the holidays each year, and when Shrimp Box opens, it surely is a sign that warmer weather is on the way.  Another sign, not so welcome, is that free parking in the meters and town lots along the Inlet and ocean, which began November 1, ends on March 1.  But paying for an hour of parking is better than deal with freezing temperatures (at least to me).

As you check out this week’s roundups of interesting clicks, take a look around your physical world as well.  What signs of spring do you see?  I’d love to hear!  Leave me a comment if you’d like, and take note of the small transitions which will usher in the season of renewal and rebirth.

Despite Mainstream Attention, New Jersey Skateboarder Still Remains Ambitious – wonderful post about a former student, Rob Werner, who is taking the skateboard world by storm.  I love following his journey and the fact a student has turned into an inspiration.

Treasures of Ireland: Along the Banks of the River Shannon – by the Palladian Traveler…oh to return there again!

Only YOU Can Create the Life of You Truly Desire – good post by the Art of Simple

15 Reasons I Think You Should Blog – by Joshua Becker over at becomingminimalist

How to Focus on the Present Moment – some practical ways to be present

90-Year-Old With Cancer Chooses Epic Road Trip With Family Instead of Treatment – I would too!

How To Read the 3 Signs Telling Your Purpose In Life – from Time Magazine

What to Do When You Feel Overwhelmed – by Chris Guillebeau at The Art of Nonconformity

From the Trenches: Phlogging the Cold War Surf Contest in Asbury Park, NJ – by Eastern Surf Magazine’s founder Dick “Mez” Meseroll (one of my inspirations)

How to Read More – by Austin Kleon

5 Minutes With a Photographer: Alex Strohl – from Artifact Uprising (great company for prints and photo books)

How a Small Shift in Your Vocabulary Can Instantly Change Your Attitude – by Michael Hyatt

and finally,

Yes! We Did it! 198 Days! – The Curious Bohemian, aka Suanne Elisabeth, successfully walked from New York to Miami. Her journey was inspiring, and I hope to cross paths with her someday.

Have a splendid day!

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