The December Night’s Magic

A quiet blanket of new fallen snow covers everything as the lighted snowman and his candy canes brightly shine in the darkness, waiting to greet the arriving day. It is dark, save for the Christmas tree and the Santa and Snowman lamps keeping me company. With each sip of my peppermint coffee, I embrace this tranquil moment, which is an experience in itself.

There’s no sound except for the ringing in my ears and the keyboard clicks as I type in a vain effort to preserve this moment of seasonal peace.

It is devoid of worries, stress, and doubt, this experience of now.

I just sit and be as each strand of silver tinsel on the tree dances in the breeze from the heat, shimmering and shining and swirling and twirling just like the snowflakes on the other side of the windows.

Night gradually evolves into morning as streaks of light appear in the eastern sky.

Little by little, I hear a different sound coming from outside as the delicate snowflakes transform into rain. Each droplet strikes with a resounding wet “plunk” alongside the new day’s advancing brightness.

Working together, the drops intentionally erase their own night’s masterpiece. The quiet blanket slowly dissolves as the whiteness bleeds into nothing.

The rain picks up pace as each drop falls from its height with more urgency in the light of full morning.

And just like that, the December night’s magic disappears with a swift twirl of its wand.

Abracadabra.

~ Written on December 17, 2016 by Jill Ocone. Author’s note: I intentionally did not include a photograph so that you could imagine the scene based upon my description.  

Celebrate the SEAson!

20161211-blog-photo-new-fontsThree nights ago, the first flurries of the season swirled around in the air, illuminated by the street lights as they danced in the darkness.

I stopped for a minute and let a few snowflakes hit my face like cold zaps of electricity.

Earlier this month, I held the little hands of two of my nephews as we walked around a neighboring town in search of very elusive candy canes, mirroring how we walked around the week before at a local tree lighting. Later today, I’ll get to hold those little hands as we visit a hometown tradition at a local park.

Yesterday I opened our first holiday greeting card of the season (from my cousins M, J, A, and B) and put it our new card display on top of our television center.

A friend gave me a candy cane last week, and I savored each taste of that peppermint sweetness.

When I come home late, I take my time walking in so I can enjoy the sights of our lighted snowman and candy canes, of our red and green laser lights shining along with swirling candy canes on our house.

I take a picture every day of our perfect tiny 2-foot tall real table top tree, decorated in white and blue lights with tinsel and special ornaments.

As we drive around town, I take in each holiday display that I see while keeping track of the trees for the upcoming Operation Christmas Tree Hunt for 2016 with Agents 101 and 202.

We begin Secret Santa at work tomorrow, and I’m excited to give my Santa all of the trinkets I’ve been collecting with clues to throw her off as to who I am. Likewise, I’ve been finding the perfect little presents for people in my life who are so deserving of gratitude.

I listen to my favorite seasonal songs every day. Each song brings back a wonderful memory or two while simultaneously creating new memories with 2016’s cosmic time stamp.

I’ve been quoting my favorite Christmas movies…”Hello, everybody? I should say it?” “Fra-Gee-Lay…it must be Italian!” “Ho HO ho…You are a sad, strange, little man!” “SANTA! I know him!” “You smell like beef and cheese.” You get the idea…

December has been a difficult month for me over the past few years, and there are times this year when it’s been a little trying. However, I’m appreciating every little thing this season, more than I ever have.

The wonder is outweighing the struggle, with joy and peace winning.

And it’s the damndest thing…

I’m actually loving each and every moment of this warm December.

I hope you are, too.

 

Something to SEA: Rainy Day Clicks for 3/19/2016

20160312 Blog Photo New Fonts

Hello, friends on the day before spring arrives, and it might arrive here in the northeast with a wintery furor!  As of press time, the forecast is between 0 and 60 inches of snow sometime between late tonight and Monday.  At least whatever falls should melt quickly. It’s been an eye-opener of a week in many ways for me.  I’m more confident in my writing, but less confident in my health as this lupus/fibromyalgia flare just won’t quit.  It’s got me feeling very defeated right now, and the only remedy is rest.  If it doesn’t let up, I will really need to reexamine my life and my priorities, but I’m holding onto hope that the pain and fatigue will hopefully decrease soon.

Here are some interesting links from the week that I’ve saved…and of course, there are more than the usual links to things relating to Ireland, most provided by the cosmos and by one of my favorite strong spirits (the compass is pointing there, and all signs point to GO!).  Here’s hoping you’ll find something you enjoy!

Oprah & Deepak’s 21-Day Meditation Experience, Shedding the Weight: Mind, Body and Spirit! starts on Monday! Join me for a wonderful experience!

Fear is Boring, and Other Tips for Living a Creative Life – by Elizabeth Gilbert and recommended by Austin Kleon

Set Your Ideas Free – by Holstee

The Most Important Day of Your Life – by Jeff Goins

Thank You Ireland, For All The Words – by Elizabeth Gilbert

13 Irish Writers to Read This St. Patrick’s Day – a few days late but some great reads here

32 Beautiful Reasons to Visit Ireland – like I needed even 1 more reason?

Ireland’s Enya on How Life By the Sea Influenced Her Music – yeah, yeah!

How Much Does It Cost to Visit Every Country In The World – by Chris Guillebeau

Be a Rainbow in Someone’s Cloud – by Maya Angelou. The 2 minute video is worth every second.

Guess Which Dog Has Never Seen the Ocean Before?  This will make you smile.

and finally,

Don’t forget to enter my free giveaway!  See yesterday’s post about my giveaway and the release of Jersey Shore Magazine’s Spring 2016 issue here.

Weekly Clicks will be taking a hiatus next weekend as we will be at Del Boca Vista-Phase 2 for Easter week, and I’m sure I will return with many snippets of life that should be in a Seinfeld episode.

Enjoy enjoy and Happy Easter!

Until next time,

Jill

PS: In case you missed it, the Spring 2016 issue of Jersey Shore Magazine was released…I wrote 5 articles and provided a lot of editorial work for the issue.  Click anywhere here to check it out.  Thanks!

 

 

 

 

Something to SEA: Thank You, 2015

20151229 Beach Photo

Hello friends!  It’s pretty hard to believe, but the time has come to say goodbye to another calendar year.

However, this one is different.

For the first time I can remember, I’m not bitter towards the year that’s about to end.  2015 wasn’t all that bad.  Sure, it was a year of adjustment for me, along with everyone in my family, as we got through the first full year without my father or father in law.  I did experience a good amount of work-related stress, which affected (and is still affecting) my Lupus and Fibromyalgia symptoms.  There were some low points at times, times of frustration that made me want to bang my head against a wall.

But overall, 2015 was a pretty good year.

It marked the first year in a long time that I decided to celebrate my birthday and say YES to life.

It was the year my words finally broke free, as I began SoulSEAker, as well as a number of other writing projects.

It was the year that I made tons of memories with my niece and nephews:  taking H to the aquarium and boardwalk three times, including once for the Sea of Lights; taking N to his first Six Flags experience and riding Skull Mountain 16 times in one day; taking E to Ron Jon’s in LBI for her birthday; taking N and E to Frightfest and to Holiday in the Park at Six Flags Great Adventure (and giving them season passes for 2016 for Christmas…perhaps I’ll conquer Nitro after all in 2016…after all, I got N to conquer Batman the Ride); and taking N and E on “Operation Christmas Tree Hunt 2015,” where I mapped out Christmas trees in local businesses, and we went into each business and took a picture with the tree…grand total:  50 trees in 3 hours, and a successful mission for Agent 101, Agent 202, and Agent 303.  Fireworks cruises, going to Target and the Comic Book store, going to the park, and more.  I hope that E, N, H, and I, the 4 most special people in my life, know how much I love them.  I’m a very lucky Auntie.

Instead of being a homebody, I got out there in 2015 and saw a number of pretty awesome places, many for the first time ever, with cherished friends and family: Flatiron Building & Strand Bookstore in New York City, Yankee Stadium (2 games!), Lucy the Elephant, Absecon Lighthouse, Strawberry Fields in Central Park, Columbia University Campus, New Jersey Vietnam Memorial and Museum, Monmouth Battlefield, many old cemeteries as I researched for an article I wrote, Mastoris, Tom’s Restaurant (the diner from Seinfeld), Walnford Park, Heritage Park in Allentown (NJ), Six Flags Great Adventure (4 times!), the boardwalk and aquarium right here in town, Cape May, Times Square/Rockefeller Center, Long Beach Island, Atlantic City Aquarium, Cattus Island Park, Hot Dog Johnny’s, Asbury Festhaus and Biergarten.  In addition, a 5-day clandestine getaway to Disney in November was a very special time with my husband.  We put ourselves first for once, and I’m so glad we did.

Besides the Disney trip, my favorite memory was seeing “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens” with my brother on opening night, which was Thursday 12/17/2015.  From getting on line 2 hours early with my Boba Fett sweatshirt on, to sitting in the theater for more than 90 minutes just filled with excitement and anticipation (as was every other person there), to shared laughs and gasps, applause and tears, it was one of the most memorable experiences in my life.  Growing up “Star Wars” together, I couldn’t think of a better person to share the experience with than my brother.  I’m seeing it again today, and again in January with work friends…and probably a few more times after that!

2015 was the year I finally found my “direction.”  Direction was my word for the year, and I felt completely lost in early January of 2015.  But I am not lost any more.  It feels good to be on the right path and know I am worthy and I have a purpose…finally.

Deciding to live during my 44th year is the best decision I ever made.  I still have a few goals to cross off my original list, which you can see here, but I still have a little over a month until I am no longer 44.  Living 44 was my first writing focus that I shared as a blog, and was the precursor to SoulSEAker.

I am grateful for all of the wonderful gifts that 2015 gave me, most of all stronger bonds with my family and friends. I am also proud that I finally found the gumption to put my health conditions and symptoms at the forefront of every decision I make.  I’ve learned that it’s okay to say NO and to decide my course of action based upon MY health, not based upon the agenda of others.

I recently saw a post that read, “I’m not the same person I was when 2015 began.”  That’s true for me, and I am relieved to (for once) be facing a new year with positivity and optimism, versus sadness and dread.

I also have been seeing snarky posts on social media mocking the idea of becoming a better person with the new year.  Mock me all you want, but I am DETERMINED to become a better person simply by choosing to live and by accomplishing the goals I have set for 2016 (which I will write about tomorrow).  I can take your jabs and your insults, and if you feel better about yourself by making fun of me, go right ahead.  I am glad I can help improve your self esteem.  Not being snarky here…seriously.  I am glad I could help.

What is your favorite memory from 2015?  I’d love to know!  Please share in the comments section.

Until tomorrow,

Jill

 

 

 

 

Something to SEA: Rainy Day Clicks for 12/19/2015

20151219 Beach Photo

Hello friends!  With less than a week to Christmas, and only 12 days left in the year, it’s a whirlwind of “to do.”  While my body is not happy and rebelling because I have been pushing myself, the memories I have made with my niece, nephews, brother, and friends are worth the pain and discomfort.  Here’s some interesting sites I found this week…if you find yourself tooling around, check them out.  Stay sane and try to enjoy every moment that’s left in 2016 my friend!

How to Use a Journal to Remember More of your Christmas – from Kenzie at Helloneverland

Harper Lee: My Christmas in New York

Farewell to the G.O.A.T – Abby Wambach Tribute by Christie Rampone and Megan Rapinoe

Macro Photos of Snowflakes Show Impossible Perfect Designs – so awesome

The 12-Day Plan of Simple Writing Exercises

January 2016 Creative Challenge – Hosted by Sara Waters (and it’s free)

This BookThis AdviceThis Narwhal

and finally,

the video of Jimmy Fallon, The Roots, and the Star Wars Cast A Capella Theme Song is super (and Star Wars Episode VII-The Force Awakens was simply fantastic!  No spoilers…just see it!)

Have a super day!

Until next time,

Jill

 

 

Something to SEA: Rainy Day Clicks for 12/2/2015

20151205 Beach Photo

We are getting down to the wire for 2015 friends!  It’s the last month, and it will hopefully be filled with cherished memories.  I have several interesting shares for you today, many with a December-type feel.  Hopefully you will find something you like, a new writer to follow, or an idea to try.

Don’t forget…it’s not too late to join December Reflections!

Love and Family through Tough Times:  A video from Fox Football’s Thanksgiving Pregame about Philadelphia Eagles DT Bennie Logan.  I’m not an Eagles fan, but after watching this, I am a Bennie Logan fan.

Christmas in the 1970’s versus Christmas Today by Victoria Fedden…awesome and hysterical…yet true

A Town on Top of a Fish – by Marc Jordan

Countdown to Christmas Kindness Calendar

A Lighter, Simpler, More Meaningful Holiday from Becoming Minimalist

Making Christmas Magic (with Free Printable) from Vicki, the Moxie Girl

To plan for 2016, you might be looking for a “reading” or a “writing” prompt per day.  Check out Staying Strong: 365 Days a Year by Demi Lovato and Tiny Buddha’s 365 Tiny Love Challenges by Lori Deschene

Christmas Lights by Coldplay

Zoella’s Christmas Haul – I love her accent!

Peppermint Bark K Cups – so good!

“Right Here, Right Now, We are doing it!” – Elizabeth Gilbert

Some of my favorite vendors for photo books, cards, and canvas prints at this time of year are Mixbook, Shutterfly, CG Pro Prints, and Minted.

And finally, on a personal note, I am very troubled by the state of our world and our society…the arguing, the hatred, the blaming, the slanted media, the agendas…the list goes on and on.  It is hard to shut off the outside world, but I am doing just that and limiting my time spent checking news feeds and social media.  Our world is changing, and perhaps it is naive of me to just ignore it for right now, but I’d rather have my nephew’s little hand in mine, hear my niece laughing, explore a new place with a friend, or create something with my words and photos than engage in a never-ending war of comments on social media.  I am choosing to focus my energy on having a wonderful holiday season, because isn’t that what this season is all about anyway?

Peace, love, and joy people…peace, love, and joy.

Until next time,

Jill

 

 

 

Something to SEA: December Reflections is Back!

I was so excited to learn that Susannah Conway is once again hosting “December Reflections,” a photo-a-day challenge based upon her daily prompts.  It’s a wonderful way to end the year, both by reflecting upon the past 12 months and looking forward to what’s ahead in 2016.

I included her prompts and a link to her “December Reflections” page, which tells more about the event and how to participate.  I have a few friends participating this year along with me, and would love for you to join us.  I’ll be posting my daily images on my SoulSEAker Instagram and Facebook pages, and when time permits, will also post them here with perhaps some more detail and insight.  #DecemberReflections

It was just about this time last year that I happened to stumble upon her work, and I am so glad I did.  She has proven to be an insightful and inspirational role model, and while I have no idea how I was brought to her website in December of 2014 (I think it was the hands of fate), I am not the same person I was then simply because of her gift of words.

I am certainly entering the last month of 2015 with more confidence, joy, solace, and optimism about the future than I entered December 2014.  Susannah helped me find “my tribe” and “my voice,” and is one of a few influences who led me to learn so much about myself over this year.

I look forward to what December brings, to enjoy each and every moment possible, and to continuing to grow and learn about myself.

 

 

Something to SEA: Rainy Day Clicks for 11/28/2015

20151128 Beach PhotoGreetings, friend!  Thanksgiving with my family was a wonderful time this year.  I had a lot of fun playing with my 2 nephews and laughing with my family.  All of the preparation, all of the anticipation, and just like that…the day was over.

I included some holiday links on today’s roundup of interesting clicks.  Hopefully you’ll find some quiet time to check them out.  Have a wonderful day and please come back soon!

December Reflections Returns:  I am so excited that Susannah Conway is hosting her December Reflections!  It is a photo-a-day challenge with emphasis on the holiday season and closing out the year.  It was just about this time last year that I stumbled upon Susannah and her work, and she has become such an inspiration.  Please join me in participating!  I will be participating under Soulseaker and posting my images here and on Instagram.  #DecemberReflections

Christmas Kindness Advent Calendar:  One act of kindness a day; printable calendar available on the link.

A Holiday Built on Presence, Not Presents

CBS Holiday Programming Schedule:  I posted ABC Family’s schedule last week

Blessing Bags: A great idea to help those less fortunate

“Misunderstood,” the Apple 2013 Holiday Commercial: best holiday commercial ever in my opinion

“Hello everybody?  I should say it?”: my favorite Christmas Vacation scene with Aunt Bethany (with a young Leonard Hoffstetter/Johnny Galecki, one of my favorite actors)

Santa Penguins:  Because you might need a smile, and penguins dressed up for Christmas will make you smile.

Seinfeld Cast Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity:  Gotta love the Sein!

NJ Surfers’ Tribute to Luke Mitchell

This NecklaceThis JournalThis David Puddy Action Figure – This Sweatshirt

Here’s to a Life Lived WITH Regrets: so true

The Tartigrade has Foreign DNA:  what an awesome creature.  Love tartigrades!

and finally…

I Am Grateful by Elizabeth Gilbert

Enjoy your day,

Jill