Serendipity Times Infinity Going On Over Here….

This is a pretty interesting time in my life. I am content and reassured that I’m in the right place at the right time. I’ve been in a pretty jovial mood, too.

And then, there are the “coincidences” I have been experiencing lately, some of which have to do with boxes of my old stuff from mom’s attic that I retrieved on Monday (3/20/17). Keep in mind I didn’t go to my mom’s just to get these boxes. Rather, there will soon be construction going on and the attic had to be cleaned out. I was only hoping to retrieve Star Wars glasses and forgot that these boxes even existed.

Here are just a few instances of serendipity running my show lately…

  1. On Monday, 3/20/17, the subject of naps came up in one of my classes. I told my students that I always hated naps because I could never fall asleep, and that I envied anyone who could nap. I said that I vividly remember the animals on the shelves that were near my ceiling when I was two or so and how I’d talk to them instead of taking a nap. Later that day, when I got to my mom’s, my brother handed me a bag from the attic, and inside were those animals. What are the odds that the day I mention those animals I actually get them back after they spent 40 or so years in the attic?
  2. I pulled out an autograph book from second grade and looked at the signatures from my classmates, many of whom I am still friends with on Facebook. This was on Thursday. Thursday’s date was March 23. Inside the cover, I wrote the date my classmates signed it: March 23, 1979. 38 years to the date.
  3. On March 15, I found a bunch of 3.5 floppy disks that had some of my old writing stored on them. We actually have a computer in my classroom that still has a 3.5 floppy disk drive, and I was interested to see if I could get anything back. I couldn’t remember at first what program I had used to type them. I recalled it was a competitor of Word, and then it came to me: WordPerfect, circa 1995-1998. I was able to convert the non-password protected files in Microsoft Word on Thursday, March 16. 5 days later (Tuesday), I looked at the “Take a Book, Leave a Book” shelf at work, and there was a tutorial book for WordPerfect from 1997 on the shelf. Sidebar: I referenced one of the files in the novel I am writing last month.
  4. I was talking with a colleague last week about my senior Health teacher from high school (senior year was sex ed). She was always nervous and uttered so many “umms” and “uhs” in class that we counted them each day. There were a few days when she topped 100. I actually found a tally in one of the boxes yesterday. How is it that I go years without thinking of this memory, then shortly after I reference it, I find one of the tallies written on a small piece of cardboard in 1989?
  5. I had the Jawa Funko Pop figure in my Amazon cart but I was saving it. Something was holding me back from buying it. On Monday, a former student visited me and gave me that Jawa. I didn’t tell anyone about wanting it.
  6. Earlier this month, I was talking with my niece about the book “The Outsiders.” It’s her favorite, and I told her it was always one of my favorites, too, but I don’t know where my original copy was. I sent her a link to an article about the book’s 50th anniversary. Well, guess what? I found my copy on Monday in one of those boxes from the attic. Seriously.
  7. This one’s just weird and probably means nothing, but still….honest to God, on Tuesday into Wednesday, I dreamt about the characters from the NBC Show “The Office” for some reason. The first thing on my Instagram feed on Wednesday when I opened the app after I woke up was a Dwight Schrute video posted by someone I follow.

So…….yeah. There’s at least 10 more, but these are the good ones.

I tried to obtain winning lottery numbers using this serendipitous foresight I am experiencing, but it’s not meant to be, I guess, as not even one of the numbers came up. Rats.

The other strange thing is that as I am writing the novel (this week I surpassed 23,000 words), I’m basing some of what the main character goes through on events and feelings from my own life. As I think of what to include, I’m brought back to those specific memories. Some are good, but a lot aren’t, and it’s been a little challenging to mentally revisit the difficult times and to decide what I should use. Enter the boxes: Honestly speaking here…there are journals and items in the boxes, actual physical items from these memories, that have been allowing me to get more into the mindset of the main character. Again, not all good, but it’s the journey I need to take right now. I need to revisit the past and perhaps make peace with those troubling memories and with the person I used to be in order to move forward.

This feeling is inescapable and hard to describe. Surreal and reassuring, confusing yet understanding, heartbreakingly soothing, and one big emphatic YES all at the same time.

I’m thinking that maybe I was on the right path all along, but I just didn’t realize it until now.

Until next time,

Jill

When You Least Expect The Answers, They Come

It’s been a while since I posted, but my absence is for very good reasons. Between my last post (“High Tide Low,” which was wrought with doubt) and now, I completed my work for the spring issue of Jersey Shore Magazine. The issue is now online…if you’d like to take a look at it, click here. I wrote four articles (and loved every single one of my topics for this issue) and provided photography and editorial work.

Anyway, with the magazine work done, my creativity was not as constrained. Then a truly amazing thing happened, and those elusive answers I’ve been searching for aren’t so elusive anymore….

Without warning, the floodgates opened and my fingers got to work. The words keep on coming, over 21,000 as of yesterday, and they aren’t anywhere near stopping. All of the prayers and wishes for the words to come have been answered, and I couldn’t be more excited. Many times my heart wanted to write a post here to keep you informed, but my body and mind wouldn’t let me lose focus on my novel by stopping the flow of typing and revising.

All of the other ideas in my brain have now taken a back seat to my novel, whose time has finally come, and I’m as focused as ever.

Yesterday, I took another leap forward in my writing career by registering for a writing conference in June that will not only offer educational workshops but will have agents and publishers on hand for pitch ideas and the like. The weird thing is that I found out about this conference, which is being sponsored by Rutgers, through an email I received at a Yahoo address that is my “bill” and crap address. I don’t use it for writing or correspondence at all, and I have never used Yahoo to search for anything regarding writing. That email was undoubtedly sent by the universe, and I listened to it and registered for the conference, which is the first weekend in June.

My spirit guide has been around as well, pleased that I’m finally making progress. Subtle, little signs here and there reinforce her presence with an “it’s about time” sassy reassurance.

I’m glad I didn’t force the story when I wasn’t ready because I fear that would have left to burn out and an abandoned idea. Right now, the manuscript is here and there with parts written not necessarily in order, but the prologue and first two chapters are complete. What helped me was to make a timeline for the main character, listing when specific events occurred, as well as her age and that of the people she associates with at the time of the events.

With 76 days until the conference, my goal is to get as much of the novel completed as possible between now and then.

I am surrounded by many supportive friends who listen to me babble on about this very special pursuit, and if you are one of them, thank you so very much. Inspiration also surrounds me in the form of colleagues who are writers, friends who are valued, family I love, and those ever-elusive easter eggs that I keep on finding.

One of my struggles is, in all honesty, very vain: deciding upon what I want to use as my author name. Instead of rushing a decision, I have decided to let all of the ideas simmer. The right one will eventually make it to the top of the list.

I will post updates here when I can, but please forgive me if I don’t post here as much as I used to. The universe and my spirit guide want this book complete, and so do I.

It’s true…when you least expect the answers, they will come.

The final lesson from this journey so far? Have faith. Thank you for following my journey. This mission has been in the making for 46 years, and each step forward fills me with exhilaration and excitement!

With gratitude and faith,

Jill

High Tide Low

img_2702“High Tide Low”

Wave after wave

The ocean sweeps the shoreline clean

Leaving nothing for scavengers like me…

Not a trinket or a shell

Or those ever elusive answers

I expect to come rolling in with the tide

But never do.

I’m left floundering

With questions again

As I sit and stare blankly ahead

At the breaking seacrests,

Pondering why I am

Reassured yet simultaneously confused.

There’s no footprints to follow

As my heart walks in one direction

And my brain in another,

Never converging on

The enigmatic path

To me.

– Written by Jill Ocone, 2/25/2017

16,801 Days

pilgrimAnother year down as I will celebrate the 17th anniversary of my 29th birthday tomorrow, As I look back, my 45th year was very good to me on many fronts.

There’s a song by Enya called “Pilgrim” that mysteriously presented itself this year with lyrics that guided me through each day.One of the lines goes as follows: “Pilgrim it’s a long way to find out who you are.” Indeed, my lifelong journey to find myself has been filled with more detours and doubts than straight routes and certainty. Thankfully, my days as a 45-year-old perhaps showed me who I am more than any other year I’ve lived. As my journey to find myself still has a long way to go, I can’t think of any better way to welcome my coming year than by remaining a pilgrim along the journey of life.

I am a writer, but the truth is, I always was but didn’t believe in myself. The words and stories inside me are finally seeing light as my voice is continually being refined and improved. There’s still a lot of work to make my voice exactly as I dream it to be as I look forward to continuing my journey as a writer.

Oh, Dublin…how I am in love with you! I followed my dreams and lived in Dublin for a week with a longtime friend, which was in itself life changing. I don’t want to continually talk about Dublin, but man…what an inexplicable connection I have to that simply wondrous city. The memory of my Dublin days are ever-present, and I can once again hear her siren song, luring me back to explore and to live and to write…

On the downside, many of my days as a 45-year-old were very difficult as I endured a severe lupus flare for over a year. I am extremely grateful that my last major lupus face rash was at the end of September, another sign that my new medication is working. If I’ve got anything to be positive about, I consider the daily pain and fatigue I experience a blessing because it makes me know I’m alive. As a result, I know the value of a good day and cherish each one now more than ever. I took the initiative of sharing my story on NewLifeOutlook: Lupus so that others with Lupus might be able to have hope.

There’s so much value in being an active participant in life, and with each day, I say YES to life more and more. I’m finally comfortable in my own skin, with my presence and living, my “I am here” statement more important than my skewed perception of how I think I look.

I wouldn’t be human if my 45th year didn’t bring with it the wistful longing for those who have passed on, such as my father, my father-in-law, my spirit guide, and other special people. But you know what? I’m at a point now where instead of mourning their loss, I celebrate their legacy and the fact that I was so lucky to have them as a part of my life, no matter how big or small their role might have been. When I consider that these special people can no longer see the sights I am able to see (at least from this dimension), I appreciate what I do see with my own two eyes more and more. Because I can, I now let the snow and cold hit my face instead of hurling expletives. I listen to the singing birds instead of yelling at them for waking me up. I touch the flower’s petals instead of walking on by. I let the waves break on my feet with a renewed appreciation, and I value the treasures left behind by the sea.

I am absolutely blessed with having family and friends standing by my side with unconditional love and support. img_8613And because of that little 2.75 year old best friend of mine, I finally know I am truly good.

And don’t forget, I got to meet Boba Fett in August! I’m still giddy over that!

The giggles, the memories, the tears, the sights, the guidance, the words, the insight…I wouldn’t change a thing. Words, stories, laughter, lessons, and life…the tenants whose lease will be renewed for the upcoming year. I’ve got a few exciting intentions and projects for my 46th year, which begins tomorrow.

But for the rest of today, I’m celebrating day 16,801 of my existence, the last day of my 45th year. Thank you, 45, for being so good to me.

My 45th Year in Facts and Statistics:

Number of Yankees Home Games I attended:  2

Number of Yankees games I got to watch on TV: 10. Thank you, Comcast, for bringing back YES this season!

Number of presentations I gave at conferences:  2

Favorite Summer Song: Encore by Red Hot Chili Peppers

Favorite Winter Song:  Bad by U2

Most played artists on my playlists:  Red Hot Chili Peppers, U2, The Cure

Favorite Toys I Bought: My little wind-up sock monkey that jumps rope, my cricket driving car, and my Jyn Erso Funco figure

Number of times I saw “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” in the theater: 3. The best was on opening night (actually, the night before opening night) with my husband.

Number of Monarch Butterflies I raised from caterpillars and released:  26

Favorite Books I read:  Ulysses and Us by Declan Kibbard, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, The Art of Work by Jeff Goins

Number of pins I added to my collection:  28

Favorite Sound: the laughter of my niece and nephews always, morning bird songs, and the lull of the traffic outside my window in Dublin

Favorite Christmas Gifts:  My iPhone 7-Plus from my husband and my Seinfeld 2017 Calendar, picked out by my brother-in-law.

The Best Part of the Year: Going to Dublin. Looking back with gratitude for the signs and for my spirit guide, I can’t believe I had the balls to do it. I loved every single thing about my experience, other than I had to leave. My feet will find Dublin again someday, undoubtedly led by my heart.

Town/Local Events I Attended:  Earth Day Celebration, Memorial Day ceremony, rode the town trolley, Seafood Festival before it was evacuated because of a coward’s actions, one Car Cruise, Xmas Tree Lighting/Candy Cane Hunt/Santa’s Workshop, Wings of Freedom Tour, NJ Run for the Fallen. My favorite: Point Pleasant Beach Offshore Grand Prix.

Some of my favorite memories:  seeing The Cure with treasured friends, the Point Pleasant Beach Offshore Grand Prix, Star Wars night at Yankee Stadium (Castro’s grand slam was super!), The Firefly at the Baseball Game, Yankees with M/D/D in 95+ heat, trick or treating dressed as a fairy godmother (at the request of nephew H), NYC and Navesink Lighthouse with C. (especially the Brooklyn Bridge, 9-11 Reflection Pool, Grand Central Station, the Empire State Building, and Bryant Park), the blindy-bird that visited me for a few days, finding my voice, riding my bicycle around town, the new opportunity for a wonderful classroom-mate and his successes, so many laughs with friends, the Gingerbread Boy, “My doggie guitar! And my Elmo letters!,” the little one who sits on my lap because I am his best friend

Special memories with my niece and nephews:  E’s mystery trip to LBI, N’s mystery trip to Lucy the Elephant/Rainforest Café, aquarium and lunch with both H and I on separate trips, the boat village with H and I at the Point Pleasant Beach Offshore Grand Prix, swimming, Skull Mountain 22 times in a row and the VR ride with N, playing with tsum tsums/Paw Patrol/Star Wars/the lollipop game/with the gears, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Sesame Place and Christmas train trip, riding in the horse and carriage and pulling my strings, Operation Christmas Tree Hunt

Places I Ate:  Frankie’s, Shrimp Box, St. Stephen’s Green, Mastoris, Applebees, Turning Point, Lubrano’s, Bubbakoo’s, Five Guys, Wharfside, Charlie’s, 709, Asbury Festhaus & Biergarten, Max Brenner’s Chocolate Bar, Chipotle, Winward Tavern, OB Diner, Brick Diner, Cookie Lady’s Café, Chik-Fil-A, Simko’s, Captain’s Inn, Lobster Shanty, Mariner’s Cove, Friendly’s, Shut Up & Eat, Taylor Sam’s, PJ Sweeney’s, Vesuvio’s, Mustache Bill’s Diner, Shake Shack, Long Point Café, Bizzaro’s, Too Jay’s Vero Beach, Rainforest Café, Anderson’s Coffee Shop, Red Robin, Saladworks, Smashburger

My LIVING 45 Bucket List

  • Watch a sunrise in all 4 seasons.COMPLETED!
    • SPRING 3/26/2016
    • SUMMER 8/31/2016
    • FALL 11/27/2016
    • WINTER 12/24/2016
  • See at least 1 new place a month.
    • MARCH: Twin Lights, Mount Mitchell Scenic Overlook, Farias Surf in LBI, DeAngelos on the Beach.
    • APRIL: Renaissance Faire at Smithville. I’ve been to Smithville once, but never to a Renaissance Faire.
    • MAY: Brookdale Community College (conference)
    • JUNE: Brooklyn Bridge, Madison Square Garden (first time), 911 Memorial, Freedom Tower, Red Robin
    • JULY: Double Trouble State Park, PJ Sweeney’s
    • AUGUST: Too many to list! Most are in Ireland.
    • SEPTEMBER: Cookie Lady Cafe
    • OCTOBER: None but I made up for it in November. See below.
    • NOVEMBER: NY Public Library, Grand Central Terminal, Bryant Park, top of the Empire State Building
    • DECEMBER: Smashburger
    • JANUARY: None, unfortunately.
  • Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge: COMPLETED on 6/22/2016.
  • See The Cure in June at MSG: COMPLETED on 6/19/2016. See blog entry here.
  • Have firm plans to travel to Ireland and/or Iceland by the end of 2017.
    • Completed! 8/14-8/22/2016. See blog entries.
  • Go to the Point Pleasant Beach Grand Prix powerboat weekend and race in May: COMPLETED! 5/23/2016
  • Take each one of my 3 nephews and niece on a “mystery day” with Auntie Jill as well as spend time with each and make them laugh a million times throughout the year.
    • DAY WITH EM 3/12/16 (LBI)
    • DAY WITH H 6/9/16 (Aquarium, Rides, Diner)
    • DAY WITH I 6/16/16 (Aquarium)
    • DAY WITH EM & N 6/17/16 (Six Flags)
    • DAY WITH EM & N 7/21/16 (Six Flags)
    • DAY WITH N 7/27/16 (Absecon Lighthouse, Lucy the Elephant, Rain Forest Cafe
    • TIME WITH H & I 8/5/16 (Yankees Game…Star Wars Night!)
    • DAY WITH N 8/10/16 (Six Flags): We rode Skull Mountain 21 times in a row.
    • DAY WITH N 10/9/16 (Six Flags)
    • HALLOWEEN PARADE & TRICK OR TREATING WITH H & I 10/30-31/16
    • DAY WITH I 11/8/16 (Aquarium, Diner)
    • DAY WITH H 11/11/16 (Aquarium, Diner)
    • BEACH TREE LIGHTING WITH H & I 11/25/16
    • CANDY CANE HUNT WITH H & I 12/2/16
    • SANTA’S HOUSE & WORKSHOP WITH H & I 12/11/16
    • 2016 TREE HUNT WITH EM & N 12/20/16
    • SESAME PLACE WITH H & I 12/26/16
    • TRAIN WITH I & BROTHER 12/28/16
  • LIVE! Just life and enjoy life without taking it too seriously. Some of what I did:
    • Florida in March with my husband
    • Visited my friend Lynette before she left for her 50 State Tour with her MotivateMe! Team
    • Visited my friend DP in May
    • Honoring my friend RB at a celebratory gathering 6/24/16
    • Celebrating Nephew H at his pre-school graduations
    • Spending time with family at the beach for fireworks on July 4
    • Double Trouble State Park & Batsto Village with my friend C 7/14/16
    • Summer boat rides
    • Thursday lunches at Frankie’s with my uncle all summer long
    • Seeing Finding Dory for our anniversary
    • YANKEES on July 23 with friends: Military Appreciation Day, extra innings loss
    • YANKEES on August 5 with family: nephews’ first game, Star Wars night, getting my picture taken with BOBA FETT, Starlin Castro’s GRAND SLAM, an all around awesome time

I’m Not Sleeping

oc1_16ire_0818356aThe rainy deluge has transformed to ice, which is building up on the grass and pelting the windows with a ferocious plink. Any minute now, the wind and the cold will transform the ice to snow. What a difference from yesterday’s balmy 64-degree sunshine, a splendid day that I was unaware of as I was held hostage by cinder blocks, each one with its own demand masked as a responsibility. I’ve got a lot going on yet no time for anything. I’m treading through distraction after distraction, falling further behind, and it’s quite difficult right now to stay afloat. As I cross one plateau, an obstruction suddenly appears, extending the distance between what I thought was my purpose and that elusive finish line. I gasp for breath amid life’s cyclone, and with each inhale, a smidgen of my soul dies. What was so clear is cloudy, again, so far off behind the cyclone’s eye that I struggle to catch even just a fleeting glimpse.

Is it my mind that’s the bully, or time? Or is life the bully, entertaining itself by heaving an obstacle in my path to throw me off again? Ideas blaze into my head at the speed of light, diverting my attention like a shiny set of keys on a shimmering key chain as I become consumed with spiraling thoughts and plotting out possibilities. Should this new idea be the reason I abandon all of the former ideas that stole my focus, making me abandon those other ideas that are now left floating lifeless, dissolving as quickly as time is running out? It’s so close, my somewhere over the rainbow, but which path will take me there, and how do I move forward when the cinder blocks won’t allow me to escape? I’m not sleeping, oh no.

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.

word

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

20170122-blog-photo-new-fonts

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.