It’s been three long years since you transcended to another dimension, yet I can still hear you say “Hey, you!” in my mind as clear as ever.
I absolutely love that you are with me every single day in some way, shape or form. I know some people think I’m crazy, but I know it’s true and that you are sitting beside me more often than not. While I might not ever understand why you have chosen to tag along with me for this part of my journey here on Earth, I am so very thankful that you are my spirit guide.
With your sneaky easter eggs and more obvious messages, you’ve guided me through an absolutely incredible year. My life has changed for the better this year, mostly because of your magic. I know the story I have to tell, and because of your guidance, those words that have been buried for years and years and years are finally emerging. After years of floundering, I know my purpose and I know what I want my future to be.
I am doing my best to honor your amazing legacy by following your breadcrumbs. I hope I am making you proud and that I’m seeing the places you wanted to see but never had the chance to look upon with your own eyes, and I hope I am learning the lessons you intended for me to learn.
Please, please, please continue showing me my path and sending me the signs I need to follow. I’m counting on your strength and sass as I march through 2017 with determination and enthusiasm to accomplish my goals.
My friend, thank you for guiding me. Thank you for giving me hope and confidence. Thank you for making me excited about life and about the future. Thank you for showing me my purpose. And most of all, thank you for your friendship, which is stronger than ever.
Three years ago, my life was torn apart as a result of losing you. Three years later, my life finally makes sense because of you.
I spent Monday with a dear friend wandering around New York City. I’ve always loved spending time in the Big Apple, and this day was no exception. We had no itinerary and no real plans of places to go other than to find the New York Public Library and Library Way. For the most part, our plan was just to wander and be.
You’d think that in a city as large and as loud as New York City it would be difficult to find a place for calm and peace, especially on thisday: the day before this year’s tumultuous Election Day, and one with numerous terror warnings issued as well.
Well, we found not only one but many. And I have been mentally escaping to each amid the post-Election rancor and animosity over the past 36 hours.
We took an early train and were on the streets exploring before the time our first-period block class would normally end. Ironically enough, fate brought me a chance meeting on 33rd street during rush hour with a very special former student! We talked for a few minutes and then went our separate ways. Within a few minutes, my friend and I were in Bryant Park.
I’ve passed by Bryant Park before but never wandered into it. And I am so glad I did this time.
It was before 9:00 AM as we walked by the boutique shops set up as a part of Bryant Park’s Winter Village, then we soon found ourselves in front of the skating rink. (Sidebar: it’s free admission! And the price to rent skates was very reasonable!)
There were about 25 or so skaters making their way around the ice rink at that time, some by themselves, some holding the hand of a little one, some couples skating together, some doing advanced spins and jumps in the center of the rink. Jazz music was playing, and each person skating was enjoying their moment on the ice, sans technology and to do list. There was even a man in a suit skating round and round the rink, sometimes passing us by facing forward, sometimes skating backward.
It was a sight to be had, a very peaceful and serene sight so early in the morning. I could have stayed there all day watching this calm and refreshing scene amid the hustle and bustle of the city.
After a while, we made our way to the next block in hopes of visiting the New York Public Library, but as fate would have it, the main branch was closed for a fund-raiser. At least I got pictures of the front steps where Peter Venkman, Egon Spengler, and Ray Stantz ran down in the first part of the original “Ghostbuster” movie. Yes, you can see what motivates me sometimes!
We instead visited a smaller branch of the NYPL across the street. We found the NYPL Collection of Photographs room and perused the pictures in the folder for John Lennon, which we agreed was a great subject considering his rich history with New York City.
About 45 minutes later, we left the library and found Library Way. We then spent the next 45 minutes or so taking pictures of each of the literary and library focused bronze markers along the 2-block stretch of 41st Street between Pershing Square and the NYPL main branch.
I found this peaceful yet energizing as I have been writing a novel of my own and needed some inspiration. These quotes from writers such as William Styron, Kate Chopin, Elizabeth Bishop, Dylan Thomas, and more lit a fire under me, so to speak, and were a push in the right direction for me to get going with my work.
At the end of Library Walk, we turned left and took in Grand Central Terminal, another iconic NYC location that I had never visited before. What a beautiful place, so much different than Penn Station. The building was beautiful with marble and brass and good white light everywhere. As I stopped in the main terminal area to take some photographs, it amazed me that with so many people passing by, it wasn’t crazy and chaotic at all. An added bonus was seeing so many people proudly wearing the 2016 New York City Marathon medals, which took place the day before. Here I was surrounded by people from all over the world in one of the busiest locations in the city, yet it was calming, just like what I experienced at Bryant Park’s ice skating rink only two hours earlier.
Our bellies were calling, so we went to the dining concourse level and….man! So many places to choose from! We decided upon Shake Shack and were both very pleased with our choice. I was impressed with the friendliness of the staff and the cleanliness of the entire concourse, but that didn’t compare in the slightest with how happy I was with my chocolate milkshake and cheeseburger lunch. So good! And they had crinkle cut fries (my favorite) cooked just right. Again, I looked around to take in where I was at that moment, and still couldn’t believe how peaceful it was despite so many people.
Our day would then take us back through Bryant Park, which was now filled with people, to visit the shops and take in more of the Winter Village atmosphere. Each little store that sold food contributed its own aroma to the wonderful smells that teased my nose and my stomach. More people were skating now, or sitting at a little table enjoying lunch or a coffee, or buying a new pair of gloves, or reading a book to their child in the children’s area, or even demonstrating their juggling skills. It was glorious, a true amalgam of human behaviors all rolled up into one giantly awesome experience. I was only a watcher, but I was present for each and every moment and observed all that made up the human experience at this moment in time.
My friend and I took our time leaving, then also took our time wandering back towards Herald Square. Upon stopping for a minute outside of Macy’s we looked to our left and there it was, the grand and majestic Empire State Building. Despite the numerous photographs of the building from ground level we have both already taken, we shot a few more to add to our collections.
Then we looked at each other…we had almost two hours to spare until the 3:45 train home, so we decided why the hell not? We played tourist and went to the top of the Empire State Building! It was a great day to do so, as the lines were very reasonable. Again, there were a lot of people with marathon medals around their necks. I congratulated one man from the Netherlands who was here in the USA by himself. That got me thinking…so many people pursuing their dream HERE, a place that’s only like 70 miles or so from where I live. It put a lot into perspective….
Anyway, we stopped first at the 82nd-floor observatory, which was surrounded by glass. I looked down upon Macy’s Herald Square where we literally were only 30 minutes prior. The glare from the sun on the Freedom Tower side did not lead to great photos, but it was still so awesome to see.
Before long, we then went to the open-air 86th floor. Speechless. I was just speechless. Looking out above almost everything else in sight, the sun lighting up buildings I had walked past earlier in the day…just too awesome for words. I found Bryant Park and that weird building next to it that reminded me of “Spook Central” (Ghostbusters reference again), Madison Square Garden, the George Washington Bridge, and so much more. I tried to find Yankee Stadium with my own eye but couldn’t do so; later on, after I uploaded my photos to my computer, I did find it once I zoomed in.
What sticks with me? Here I was at the top of the Empire State Building, looking down upon millions and millions of people going about their day, and it was quiet, almost silent at times save for the breeze. I thought of people traveling from all over the world to stand in the same location I was standing in because it was an item on their bucket list. I remembered looking from the same vantage point 20+ years ago with my California cousins, the only other time I did so. Why did I not enjoy these sights more often?
I realized how much I do take for granted, and that life is pretty damn good.
When it was time to leave, I purchased an Empire State Building pin from the souvenir store to add to my collection and then we descended back to ground level. Once we got to Penn Station, we stopped at Zaro’s Bakery for our traditional NYC trip cookie and were on the 3:45 train headed home. We remarked how the world was going to change “tomorrow” (election day), and we were thankful to enjoy a day in the city to escape and just be before life changes for all of us.
As I write this, I’m listening to Jazz music, thinking of the skating rink, and my soul is happy.
I’m selecting which pictures to ultimately attach to this post and when I look at each one, I recall the exact minute it was taken…the sights, the sounds, the smells, and the aura of each moment frozen in time yet willing to be experienced again and again.
I’m escaping into calm as my NYC day memories, free from protest and violence, trump the hateful animosity rearing its ugly head minute by minute on my social media feeds (no pun intended?).
Most of all, I’m thankful that I have a friend who loves wandering, observing, and experiencing life as I do. Thank you, friend. 🙂
*** All photographs that are a part of this gallery were taken by me, Jill Ocone, on November 7, 2016 and are copyrighted. It is illegal to reproduce or to take credit for my intellectual property contained on this post. Thank you for your compliance.
There’s a white-throated sparrow proudly singing his song outside my window, with a wren crooning in the distance. The breeze coming in through the window is cool and crisp. The leaves, soon to be exploding with color like fireworks, are beginning to crunch under my feet as the trees have started shedding this year’s attire.
As much as I hate to see summer end, I find this time of year is truly majestic, and it’s even more symbolic for me THIS year.
Nature’s cycle of life can teach us all a lesson. Each day makes its individual mark of beauty amid the subtle changes which culminate in the end of a cycle. When it’s time for a change, which could very well be a massive change similar to autumn, do it the way nature does…with complete enthusiasm and gusto, with as much color and pop as possible. Then, nurture yourself with sleep and comfort as you adjust and prepare to spring ahead with newness when the time is right.
I am experiencing my own autumn, so to speak, and am becoming who I am meant to be. Even though I’ve been quiet here on my blog, my brain, my typing fingers, and my pens have not. The fountain has been tapped and the words, held hostage for so long, are finally finding their way out and gushing onto my notebook pages and type screens.
Not all words will be shared or meant for publication, and not all words have to do with my Mission from the Universe. Some are quite honestly an amalgam of crap, but they are words that have to be set free from the jail cell in my brain.
Others are deep-rooted, symbolic, filled with hope and promise…words I never thought would end up on paper but nonetheless appear.
Those are the words guiding my path right now. They are directing my journey to the backroads of my Mission from the Universe.
I’m taking the long way this time, and every single step along this less-trodden path so far has resulted in insight, joy, and a renewed appreciation of life.
It sounds like something my 2-year-old nephew or Ivan Drago from Rocky IV would say.
It is time.
Tomorrow evening I will be walking onto a United plane in New Jersey, and after about 7 hours or so, walking off in Dublin, Ireland.
I’m in awe that I had the courage to make this trip idea a reality. I’m actually doing it!
I am open.
I expect nothing.
I will be mindful and present and let life happen as it should.
I will treasure each footstep and everything I see.
I will watch the sun rise and set in a new land.
As suggested by John Keating in Dead Poets Society, I am doing something I consider extraordinary.
I seize the day.
Thank you for reading, for listening, and for supporting my journey. I am immensely grateful for the loving support of my husband, family, and friends who have had to listen to be jabber on for months now about my mission from the universe. Most of all, a huge thank you to my travel partner in crime, my dear friend for over 20 years now, who is accompanying me on this adventure.
As I will be focusing on LIFE and LIVING while in Dublin, I do not plan to post here on SoulSEAker until I return. I will most likely post a few photographs to my Facebook and Instagram pages only, depending on access to technology. If you are interested, please follow me there for updates (links below).
When they hear about my trip to Dublin, most people immediately ask, “What are you going to do when you are there?”
To tell you the truth, I’m not really sure.
I’m open to all possibilities, especially to seeing things in a new way, but one thing I must do is walk the path.
I plan to explore by walking in the footsteps left by James Joyce and his characters Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom. I’ve created 4 maps of different areas of Dublin that contain sights that Joyce, Dedalus, and Bloom saw. The important sights are “must-sees”, such as Trinity College, the James Joyce tower, Dalkey, and Grafton Street, to name a few. There are a lot of pins on my maps, and I will do my best to see as much as I can.
I will appreciate everything I see with a new outlook and with a new awareness.
I will be present for each moment, for each minute, for each second.
I will look at the details and take in the colors and the visions for both SHE and for me.
SHE cannot see these sights, so my eyes will be her eyes. I will be her light.
While my own eyes will be looking out, they will also be looking in, looking inward, as I learn more about ME.
I will be my light.
The only set reservations my traveling companion and I have are dinner at The Brazen Head and a day trip to the Boyne Valley to see ruins and the like.
Everything else will happen as it unfolds.
Trust me when I say there are some locations I plan on seeing that have a huge significance.
I will see what the universe needs me to see, and learn from the universe what I need to learn.
When in Ireland in 2014, I had the distinct feeling that I had been there before. I felt comfortable and at home. In a way, it kind of feels like I am going home again, but this time, I am open to Dublin letting me experience all that I can, and all that it wants me to experience.
I’ll be honest. I’m a bit concerned about my health since I am not feeling as good as I had hoped. Even though I’ve been able to rest and have had 85% less stress in my life living as “Summer Jill,” I’m still very fatigued and in moderate pain most of the time (legs, back, hips, head). My energy drains very quickly, and even simple tasks wipe me out.
It’s very frustrating, wanting to experience life but being held back by my health. I will definitely listen to what my body needs and wants, and put my health and wellbeing first. I will plug along the best I can.
The one thing that I know?
Without a concrete reason, without a set itinerary for each day, and without fear, I HAVE TO DO THIS.
I have to go to Dublin.
I’m excited to meet ME.
Stay tuned for Part 6: Who Am I? tomorrow.
For the doubters of the signs, here’s one that literally just happened. The video below appeared randomly at the top of my news feed, having been shared several times then shared by someone I follow. It is an animated introduction to James Joyce and his literary works. Parts of it describe exactly what I have written about my “Mission from the Universe.” Check it out to learn more about James Joyce, his works, his life, and even yourself. 🙂
My soul and my being not knowing what my purpose is for so long?
Not so much.
Throughout every stage of my life, while I might not have had a gut instinct as to what my purpose was, I’ve at least had goals or an outline of what I wanted to accomplish. I adapted to change, made the best of bad situations, and learned as I went along.
I’ve been successful in my careers, both present and past. I am extremely grateful for the opportunities I have had, the skills I have mastered, the knowledge I have learned, and the lessons I have been taught by pretty much everyone who has been a part of my journey so far.
Despite all of that, I still feel that there’s something more I should be doing.
So the question remains:
What am I supposed to do with my life?
This feeling of floundering was evident in my word for 2015: DIRECTION.
Yes, I did find some direction. The fact that you are reading this is proof of that, as SoulSEAker was created to help me find my way.
This year, I chose the word DETERMINED as my word of the year. As all good little bloggers and writers do in this age of Zen, Mindfulness, and Intent, I penned a list of 6 personal goals I hoped, rather I was DETERMINED to accomplish.
Afterwards, I really thought about each one of those goals, and this is the first time I am admitting this:
I was full of shit.
Coming up with strategies and lists and doing things I don’t enjoy, just to say I accomplished what I set out to do, is asinine and a complete waste of my time.
Let alone I already have difficulty with daily responsibilities and tasks because of my health, now I was devising goals I didn’t believe in to take up more of that time I spoke of yesterday, time that I vow not to waste anymore?
What the hell was wrong with me?
I guess that since I’ve always had goals and outlines, I thought I HAD to have them.
Then it hit me.
With a rigid goal or plan, I am not open to new ideas or new avenues of discovery, which might lead me to what my purpose truly is. I’m just checking off boxes on a list, and the reward is that I can say I was, in fact, DETERMINED. I can then buy myself a trophy and take myself out to a celebratory meal at Roy Rogers. Big deal.
I’m not promoting irresponsibility at all here, and I in no way mean to belittle the importance of being determined. I’m not knocking mindfulness or intentions, either, as I believe in both. Sometimes true experiences are concealed by buzzwords and media chatter.
Rather, for the first time in my life, I saw the importance of just letting things happen as they do.
I abandoned my strategies and checklists, and became OPEN to what the year will bring me instead.
Once I did, life became less stressful and so much more enjoyable.
OPEN. The perfect word for me.
Then something happened.
I noticed the first “sign,” so to speak, shortly after declaring OPEN to be my new word.
Then the next appeared.
The forces of the universe, in definite cahoots with SHE, are having a lot of fun at my expense, and I’m absolutely loving every minute of it.
It’s like a trail of breadcrumbs, one after another, and I’m the bird eating each crumb with excitement.
Some signs point in one direction, some in another. Some are obvious, while others are hidden. The meanings and connections are both easy and hard to decipher at the same time.
There’s a new sign every day, sometimes five or more. I’m open to seeing them, to finding them, to adding each to my web of connections.
And man, for someone who always hated puzzles and guessing games, it’s been ex-hil-ar-ating!!!!
Being OPEN is helping me to further find my DIRECTION. Not a plan, not a goal…just being OPEN.
I still don’t know what the purpose of my life is, and I don’t know why I am going to Dublin.
But for the first time in my life, I’m okay with I DON’T KNOW. Ironically, not knowing has brought joy to my soul and to my heart.
I think Mr. Hand would appreciate that. I know Spicoli would.
Stay tuned for Part 4: The Web of Connections tomorrow.
I’ve been alluding to my upcoming adventure, which I have dubbed my “Mission from the Universe,” for some time now in random SoulSEAker posts.
Now the real countdown has begun. As my mission will commence in 7 days, I am ready to share parts of my story with you.
PART 1: The Ides of 2014. I was originally supposed to visit Ireland, Wales, and England with fellow teachers and students in April of 2014, but it was not meant to be. My father-in-law unexpectedly passed away the day before I was supposed to leave, and instead of kissing the Blarney Stone during Spring Break, I kissed Poppy goodbye for the last time.
Losing him was just surreal, like every death we all have dealt with I’m sure, but this was POPPY. He was the glue that held us all together, and we were all left shattered, heartbroken, and lost. A few times I just collapsed on my living room floor and lay there, in the fetal position and in solitude, sobbing uncontrollably.
Personally, I was also extremely angry, which at the time was misunderstood as selfishness.
That was the furthest from the truth: It wasn’t because I couldn’t go on the trip. Rather, I was angry that we were all robbed of Poppy and his presence in our lives.
I was still reeling in silence at losing a treasured friend and colleague (who I will call SHE for now) four months prior. I kept that grief bottled up inside ever since I received that fateful phone call from my friend D over winter break. Now here I was again, confronted with another huge and unexpected loss over a break, and I was pissed beyond belief.
I mean I literally saw red a few times. Literally.
I wanted to hit, punch, kick, and scream, and I did up at the beach three times. I am sure I looked like a raving lunatic yelling at the waves and the sand as I acted out like a two-year-old, but man, I had to in order to release the anger from my system. Looking back now, I think that was the angriest I have ever been in my life.
When my nephew, who was 8 at the time, heard the news of Poppy’s passing, he cried, “Things are going to be so different now.”
He was right.
It is true that “This Too Shall Pass,” and as each tomorrow became today, things subtlely returned to as normal as life would be, albeit with that sparkle in Poppy’s eye missing, his compassion and kindness now absent.
I was able to get a refund for my missed trip (sidebar: always spend the extra to get the trip insurance). As luck would have it, my mother and a longtime friend both agreed to accompany me in July/August on a similar trip to Ireland, Wales, and England. We left on July 26 and returned on August 3, 2014. Throughout the week, we visited Dublin, Killarney, Waterford, Cardiff, Stonehenge, Bath, and London.
It’s now two years later, and I am headed to Ireland again a week from today with the same longtime friend.
This time, we will only be staying in Dublin. That’s by design.
Those who really know me know I am a creature of habit, and hearing that I am returning to Ireland next week might not be a surprise.
Others have asked why I would spend money and time to see someplace I already visited.
It’s my mission from the universe, and I must go.
Stay tuned for Part 2: SHE and ME tomorrow.
And, yes. The term Mission from the Universe was inspired by Jake and Elwood Blues. I certainly won’t be causing as much damage as they did…or will I? 😉
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!