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

 

 

 

2017 Accountability Check 5: My Life and Progress for Week 5 of 2017

 

fullsizerender-4That was the fastest January ever! My week was filled with endings and beginnings, as my school transitioned from Semester 1 to Semester 2. Since I’m a seasonal person, I found it a little strange to be completing tasks I finished during the past 15 Junes in January…threw me for a bit of a loop, but I’m grounded now. The frenzy of responsibilities sidetracked my personal goals a bit this week. I will regroup and keep my goals in focus this week as I look at my “to do” list, but this week, I will put my heart’s and soul’s desires at the top of said list.

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

Progress Made This Week: I invested in a small, 11-inch very portable computer that I will use solely for writing, even though I did not write a word towards my novel this week. I did write every day, however…see what I wrote below under Other Goals.

2017 Goal #2: Learning to Surf:

Progress Made This Week: None, for the second week in a row, but this is out of my control. My surfing goal will remain sidetracked as I monitor a minor health issue that will keep me sidelined from increased physical activity for a little while longer.

Other Goals and Extraordinary Moments…

Yearly Money Challenge: I put $20 into my 2017 Wishes Come True account for Week 5.

Writing Every Day (outside of C1 work):

  • I have one more assigned article to finish, as well as two editorial projects. The articles I finished so far for the magazine I write for are, in my opinion, representative of my best work so far, and I am very proud of them.
  • Wrote one poem
  • Wrote in my journal every day at least once. Completed nightly reflections & gratitude in my planner every evening
  • Wrote 2 SoulSEAker posts and my February newsletter, which I mistakingly sent titled as January. If you received it, my apologies!
  • 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 30-36

Reading: I am stalled reading Colm Toibin’s Nora Webster because of my work load. Once I finish my magazine work, I will return to reading.

Postcards: This week, I mailed one postcard to Hong Kong. My 2017 postcard stats so far:

  • Postcards currently traveling: Belarus, Russia, Hong Kong
  • Postcards I mailed that have been received: 3. To Finland,  USA (Indiana), Germany
  • Postcards that arrived in my mailbox: 2. From Germany, Finland

Loving Life…Soul and Heart Happiness:  Work friends and I went out to lunch, and it was a real treat to spend time with colleagues while not being rushed for two days. My husband made a killer, sugar-free coconut cream pie. Man, was that good! The two groundhogs in my area are conflicted, as Puxatawny Phil saw his shadow and predicted 6 more weeks of winter, while Staten Island Chuck did not see his shadow, leading us to believe that spring will be early. I am always entertained by the groundhimg_1661og circus of nonsense and love a conundrum like this, almost as much as I loved when Chuck bit Mayor Bloomberg years ago. Friday was my favorite day because I surprised my nephew I by joining his mom at preschool pickup. I looked up and saw me, and that smile full of happiness took over his little face as he ran over to me with his arms outstretched. That hug was the best therapy money can buy. We spent the rest of the afternoon with his brother playing with Tsum Tsums, Paw Patrol, and laughing while being silly. I didn’t even mind when he tooted on my arm, which got him laughing hysterically for a few minutes.

Weekly Declutter: I cleaned up my classroom desk areas in preparation for the second semester.

Surprise of the Week: I received four surprise gifts that made me very happy: a Princess Leia funco figure (the fullsizerender-5Force Awakens one, which has a very deeper meaning to me than just a toy), a Star Wars: New Hope originial VHS surreptitiously left in my mailbox, a palm tree/surfboard keychain, and flowers from my husband. I’m a lucky girl this week.

Extraordinary Lesson From The Ordinary Week: Last Sunday, I went to watch my niece E and my nephew N play in their basketball games.  E is in her last year at her current school, and this was one of her last basketball games before she moves on to high school. I looked at the people standing along the wall before the game began, and I saw a former student of mine who is now a basketball coach at the high school I work at. He was E’s camp and summer league coach, and he gave up part of his Sunday to come watch her play. That speaks volumes about the type of person Coach D is. It was both odd and awesome to have my two worlds collide like that. E was so proud that he came to the game for her. Later in the week, I collected the first assignment of the new semester from my current English students where they were to write about a role model in their lives. Lo and behold, two of the responses were about Coach D. I know I might never have the impact on lives like he has, and I don’t mind. What’s important is the work he does and the example he sets. Thanks, Coach D, for being someone our young people can look up to in a world filled with so many poor examples.

Week 5 Parting Request: Flow…go with the flow and get it done this week, my friend. Keep moving forward, no matter how slow.

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Thank you for following my journey. I am most grateful to readers like you who make it all worth it. I wish you a fantastic Week 6 of 2017!

This. Life. Is. Happening. In. 2017!

Until next time,

Jill

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017 Accountability Check 4: Progress Towards My Goals/Theme

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4 weeks down. Man, I had no idea we were all time travelers! January is just about ready to say to us, “That’s a wrap! Great show!” Anyway, we survived last week’s Nor’easter with minimal debris issues in our yard, and I am very grateful that we didn’t lose power even once! My area experienced localized, tidal flooding, but nothing like Sandy, just nuisance flooding that locals are used to. On the flipside, the waves were some of the biggest I’ve ever seen! Massive rollers coming in, building height at least a mile offshore then crashing well over the tops of the towers at the end of each Inlet barrier. Impressive for a nor’easter! The downside to last week was that one of the many viruses making the rounds decided to choose me as its host, which put me out of commission for a bit. The coming week is going to be another frenzy as my school switches to the second semester. It will be like the first week of school redux, and I’ll do what I can to keep focused amid the flurry of activity.

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

Progress Made This Week: I’m disappointed in myself because I only wrote on two mornings. Sickness and article deadline priorities stole my focus. I’ve still got a ton of magazine work to do this week, so I look forward to returning to C1 in the mornings when I can and once my work is done for the magazine. I am honestly writing every day, just not on C1.

2017 Goal #2: Learning to Surf:

Progress Made This Week: None. Unfortunately, the virus I had also uncovered a minor heart issue, nothing critical but something that needs to be looked into. I was advised to limit physical activity until I see my cardiologist this week. I will keep you posted.

Other Goals and Extraordinary Moments…

Yearly Money Challenge: I put $20 into my 2017 Wishes Come True account for Week 4.

Writing Every Day (outside of C1 work):

  • Plugging away on my articles. BlueClaws is done, and the Veterans Memorial/Museum article will be finished today. Next up is my article on party boat fishing at the Jersey Shore.
  • Wrote a poem on 2 days
  • Wrote in my journal every day at least once. Completed nightly reflections & gratitude in my planner every evening
  • Wrote 2 SoulSEAker posts.
  • 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 23-29

Reading: I began reading Colm Toibin’s Nora Webster. He will be at a local university this April, and I am planning on going to hear his talk.

Postcards: Mailed one postcard to Belarus. Total traveling postcards: 3: to Belarus, Russia, Indiana. I received a postcard from Finland yesterday that traveled for 4 days.

Loving Life…Soul and Heart Happiness: I did a lot of writing all week. I spent Wednesday and Thursday home resting because of the virus, but truth be told, I would have much rather been a participant in life instead. I missed a meeting with fellow journalism teachers that was looking forward to very much. Today I am headed to have breakfast with friends, then to watch my niece and nephew play in their school basketball games. Another Star Wars/Ireland connection presented itself late in the week, one I never noticed for almost 18 years but is so obvious I can’t believe I missed it. With Ireland again on the brain, I escaped reality twice when I needed a break from writing by tooling around pricing Dublin trips for the summer. Soon after one of these distractions, a close friend shared that her family is headed to Dublin this summer for their 2017 vacation. Seriously. Hmmmmm…… Hey Universe, was that something I should follow, or a sign that I’m merely on the right path? I’m excitedly waiting for your next sign!

Weekly Declutter: I brought some magazines I was done reading to my doctor’s office on Thursday and left them for others to read.

Surprise of the Week: One of my favorite things about winter are pop up snow squalls. There were a few on Friday but like 20 yesterday. Crazy snow one minute, then none. I’m not a fan of snow, but man, I love those snow squalls! Ironically enough, the boat named “Snow Squall” was hauled out at the marina where my husband keeps his boat. There it was, sitting in the sling, high in the air, as a legit snow squall engulfed it for about 20 seconds. I was happy I noticed this little 20-second episode of life. I “looked around” and, indeed, saw something spectacular.

Extraordinary Lesson From The Ordinary Week: I will be honest here. I was very scared this week about my heart because some of the symptoms I am experiencing mirror those of a heart attack. I let fear get the best of me, but I am glad I did. The condition I have is liveable and most likely will require some monitoring, but it’s making me take a look at my life. What is most important to me is my HEART, which wants to write and spend time with those people I love and see the world. I do not like what is going on in our country right now, but I can’t let it distract me from my purpose or add additional strain on my little pumper that’s filled with love for those around me. I do care a whole hell of a lot, believe me, but for the sake of my health and my purpose, I cannot let myself be consumed with the rancor and acrimony on social media. Call me irresponsible if you will, but I must isolate myself from this societal mayhem so I can focus on my words and the stories my little heart wants to tell so very badly.

Week 4 Parting Request: Our world is screaming for compassion and empathy, and is in serious need of kindness. This week, I will be kind to all I encounter, no matter what, even if I am not being treated with kindness in return. Just be kind. Will you join me?

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Finally, I am toying with the idea of doing bi-weekly accountability checks instead of weekly ones, so I’ll let you know next week what you can expect in the future. Thank you for following my journey. I am most grateful to readers like you who make it all worth it. I wish you a fantastic Week 5 of 2017!

This. Life. Is. Happening. In. 2017!

Until next time,

Jill

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017 Accountability Check 3: Progress Towards My Goals/Theme

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Week 3 of 2017 was another busy yet productive week. Tough at times physically to keep up, but I made it through and accomplished almost all of what I wanted to accomplish. I am feeling a bit fatigued and experiencing moderate pain this morning, most likely from the storm that’s about to launch a huge tempest of wind over the next day or so along the Northeast. Guess it’s time to bring our lighted Snowman and Candy Canes in from the yard before they end up in Princeton!

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-Friday, which produced another 4193 words. Total word count: 10, 438. I also set June 2 as my draft deadline….131 days away.

2017 Goal #2: Learning to Surf:

Progress Made This Week: Still doing 15 wall push-ups and stretching, but my legs aren’t where I’d like them to be. My goal for the upcoming week is to walk 3 times, and I will re-evaluate next weekend whether I can start Yoga again.

Other Goals and Extraordinary Moments…

Yearly Money Challenge: I put $20 into my 2017 Wishes Come True account for Week 3.

Writing Every Day (outside of C1 work):

  • I finished my first article draft yesterday, which is a little over 8 pages double spaced. Completed additional research and two more 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. So pumped about the topics and I am doing my very best job on each article.
  • Wrote a poem on 4 days
  • Wrote in my journal every day at least once. Completed nightly reflections & gratitude in my planner every evening
  • Wrote 2 SoulSEAker posts. I wanted to write more, but I’m under deadline.
  • Continued compiling editorial content for the Theater Calendar and Calendar of Events for the 2017 Spring Issue of Jersey Shore Magazine
  • Not writing but creating: Edited photos to accompany articles

A Year of Writing Dangerously: Read Days 16-22

Reading: I am not currently reading anything because I’m under deadline for my articles.

Postcards: Mailed one postcard to Bloomington, Indiana. Total traveling postcards: 3. My postcard to Germany arrived this week after traveling for 8 days. Still en route are ones headed to Finland and to Russia.

Loving Life…Soul and Heart Happiness: Met with a fantastic group of fellow writers I work with, interviewed at Lakewood BlueClaws and NJ Vietnam Veteran Memorial and Museum (this interview and topic will be guiding me long after my article is complete…lots more to come on this), saw Aunt D and Uncle B and we all had dinner before they left with my mother for Florida, played with H and I, mixed up my motivational playlist a bit, had some pretty crazy dreams. I also enjoyed watching the NFL playoffs. I am hoping for a Packers-Steelers Super Bowl. We also made plans to visit my mother-in-law in Florida next month.

Weekly Declutter: Didn’t work as much as I had hoped, but I did get one more bag of donated clothes together. Hoping to make another Amazon donation box this weekend.

Surprise of the Week: I am utterly surprised about how much I wrote this week, despite my schedule and health issues. When I sat down to work on C1 and the article I wrote about Beach Haus Brewery, the words just flowed. I was also surprised that I was not nervous at all at any of my interviews…in the past, I struggled with confidence issues, but not this go-around. I can’t explain it, but I am grateful for this unexplainable confidence. Some breadcrumbs assuring me that I’m on the right path along journey appeared again this week: Napoleonic towers, American Gods (I know, I know, I HAVE to read this!), Veterans, lyrics in a few U2 songs that found their way into my playlist this week…Walk On! I also received a Himalayan Salt Lamp from my Aunt and Uncle! How cool is that (hidden shoutout to DK there after the dream I had about her)!

Extraordinary Lesson From The Ordinary Week: Holy crap, the stories and the legacies at the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial & Museum left a massive impression on me. Those who know me well know that US Veterans are very important to me. I learned that there are over 200 NJ men who died in Vietnam who don’t have a story or a picture. Each of them deserves a photo and someone to tell their story…so you can guess where I’m headed with this tidbit of information…..definitely more to come on this, as I referenced earlier. I had asked the universe for a “what next” sign to appear through my magazine assignments, and I think this might be it. It’s going to be quite the scavenger hunt! If you are local, make it a point to visit NJVVMM this year. You will be glad you did. It’s very informative and inspiring.

Week 3 Parting Request: Even if you are outside New Jersey, could you please take a look at the list here of the NJVVF Biography Project names? The ones in blue don’t have a photo and have a limited story at best. If one is from your hometown, could you see if someone knows him, or if he might be in a yearbook at your school? This is the first step towards giving these gentlemen the legacy they deserve.

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Thank you for following my journey. I am most grateful to readers like you who make it all worth it. I wish you a fantastic Week 4 of 2017!

This. Life. Is. Happening. In. 2017!

Until next time,

Jill

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017 Accountability Check 2: Progress Towards My Goals/Theme

 

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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,

Jill

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017 Accountability Check 1: Progress Towards My Goals/Theme

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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,

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.