A Manifesto for 2018

We are once again standing on the cusp of a new year.

It’s a time every year when my failures each ring their own bell and demand my attention. “Look at me,” they each scream. “Look at me! Don’t forget the detour I created! You suck and are teeming with regret at the sight of me!”

Frigging bastards.

When looking ahead to a new calendar, I’ve tended to play the victim and blame my failures and shortcomings on my self-perceived inadequacies, half of which are undoubtedly formed by unrealistic societal expectations.

I’ve also blamed time: there’s not enough, or there’s too much.

Either way, I’m continually thrown off the path that I believed would lead me to attaining my goals, yet while I paved it with good intentions, I also paved it with excuses chock full of my own bullshit.

The cycle of getting nowhere very quickly happens every year because I allow it to.

That stops now.

There’s no resolutions for me this year.

No, sir.

Instead, my goal from today forward is to live the hell out of every minute of this extraordinary life and truly cherish the miracle that is the present moment.

Whether I am writing, swimming, driving, exploring, laughing with family and friends, teaching…whatever I am doing, I will give myself fully to that miraculous moment.

The fact that I’m sitting here all snug and warm, with a cup of hot coffee to my left and quiet music playing as snowflakes delicately dance down from the clouds to the ground…there’s so tiny miracles right here in this present moment, miracles that I always took for granted or overlooked.

What matters, I mean what truly matters, is this moment.

I am alive.

And so are you.

This is a time of rebirth, a time to take those lessons from past failures and regret, be thankful for them, and apply their wisdom while moving forward.

No more bowing down to society’s expectations or to feeding the trolls of self-deprecation. I am not inadequate and I do matter, if only to myself.

It’s time to live the hell out of this one and precious life I’ve been given, because I am not promised a tomorrow. Wasting time is no longer an option, either.

I will live with those who are alongside me in real life and for those who are alongside me in spirit.

I will be a beacon of kindness and empathy as I look to stand alongside my fellow humans with understanding and compassion.

I will be grateful for everything I experience and for everyone I interact with.

Most importantly, I will embrace and celebrate the moments extraordinary that fill my days with joy and with purpose as I pursue my passions with conviction.

Let’s do this, 2018!

With gratitude and joy,

Jill

Note: This was also posted on jillocone.com. 

Part One of “The Universe Is At It Again!”: Who Am I?

Who are you? Or better yet, who am I? That’s the quintessential question, isn’t it? And I think every one of us is searching for that elusive answer, despite how confident we might be.

Who am I, indeed? What makes me ME?

One of my biggest regrets is never preserving each of my four grandparents’ stories…their backgrounds, families, cultures, heritages, and what made each of them THEM.

Sure, I talked with them a bit when I was young, but I don’t remember much of anything because I never took the time to write anything down.

That part of my story, their individual stories comprised of their contributions to my genetic blueprint, is forever lost.

Huge regret.

HUGE.

I do recall being told over the years that my heritage includes Russian, English, German, and a tad bit of Irish.

Tad bit of Irish? With my connection to all things Ireland over the past 3 years, I longed for more than just a “tad” bit of Irish in my background.

So, last summer, I decided to see if I could find out exactly that that “tad” was comprised of.

Three weeks before I left for Dublin, I began researching my genealogy hoping to find an Irish connection, specifically through my Grandpa C. He never shared much of anything about his background or family, but I vaguely recall him saying there was Irish mixed in with his mostly English heritage.

Our local library offers free Ancestry access to anyone with a library card, so I spent a few summer afternoons playing detective as I tried to uncover at least one Irish link. The more I searched, the more discoveries about my family heritage I made, but with each click ahead I fell further behind on making a concrete Irish connection.

All in all, I ended up learning a lot, but I was unable to confirm or deny what it was that brought me to the library in the first place.

For starters, I found out pretty quickly that my supposed Russian heritage was perhaps incorrectly attributed.

Census from 1930

The line in my heritage through my father’s mother’s family provided very quick and solid information. Grandma C. always said that she was Russian, and she even knew how to speak it. However, I think she might have been mistaken. On every census and official document I could find on her family line, the home country of her parents, J and E, was different. The earliest I could find from the early 1900s listed Galicia (not the one in Spain) as their home country, and that changed over the years to Austria, Poland, and Russia.

Galicia was one of those recurring terms from last summer that guided me, and I wrote a separate entry about that here.

I unearthed more information about Grandma C.’s line, and my mother’s parents and their lines, but the line from my dad’s father gave me the least amount of data. All I found was Grandpa C.’s marriage certificate to Grandma C. (the one with parents from Galicia), which included both of their parent’s names, one entry in a census report from 1940, and his birth and death dates.

When he heard I was trying to learn about our family, my Uncle G (Dad’s brother) gave me a red binder filled with photos from Grandpa C.’s side and obituary clippings and memorial cards from many members of his family. I meticulously went through the album hoping to find a link to Ireland, but I came up with nothing. Most of the pictures didn’t have names, and the ones that did were people who both my Uncle and I had never met or really heard of before.

I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to confirm anything Irish in my heritage. Drats.

I traveled to Dublin in August, unsure of whether or not I had any legit ties to what has become one of my favorite places in the world. That trip changed my life in so many ways regardless of whether I’m truly Irish or not.

When I returned from my trip, the frenzy of back to school hit hard, and I abandoned my genealogy research for the time being. I instead focused on my novel, my writing, and my responsibilities. Another summer would be here, soon, with time for me to once again pursue learning about the origins of my heritage.

Stay tuned for Part Two tomorrow!

 

Taking the Long Way this Autumn

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.

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“Mission from the Universe” Part 6: Who am I?

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(Click HERE to read Part 1Click HERE to read Part 2 – Click HERE to read Part 3 – Click HERE to read Part 4 – Click HERE to read Part 5)

Today is August 13, 2016.

Who am I today?

I Am…

  • Kind
  • Honest
  • Open
  • Worthy
  • A Wife
  • A Sister
  • A Daughter
  • An Auntie
  • A Godmother
  • A Writer
  • A Teacher
  • A Student
  • A Friend
  • A Dreamer
  • A Traveler
  • One of a Kind

I am a lover of blue, sunrises, butterflies, summer, the sea.

I help when I can and find a lesson in every day.

I value honesty and kindness.

I am excited about opportunity, concerned about my health, enthusiastic about living.

I need laughter, waves, and words.

I give compassion, respect, encouragement, and support.

I fear lost time and Kingda Ka (the rollercoaster).

I would like to see a world filled with humanity instead of acrimony.

I live to live and dream to make my life come alive.

I believe in filling my soul with joy and my heart with love.

 

Stay tuned the final installment, Part 7: I Go!, tomorrow.

“Mission from the Universe” Part 5: Walking the Path

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Bewley’s Oriental Cafe – I will be eating lunch on what is known as the “James Joyce Balcony” at some point.

(Click HERE to read Part 1Click HERE to read Part 2 – Click HERE to read Part 3 – Click HERE to read Part 4)

It’s only 3 days away now.

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.

UPDATE:

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. 🙂

Sea Therapy

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One by one, things are added to the “to do” list all day long,

and as quickly as things get crossed off, two more get added.

It’s a never ending cycle.

Drowning in work, with no time to come up for air, I suddenly stop in my tracks.

Enough.

I can cross nothing more off the list today.

I leave everything on my desk, with no guilt or doubts,

and trade cinder blocks for the fresh air and sunshine.

Instead of heading home, I take a familiar detour.

East.

As soon as my feet hit the sand, my therapy session begins.

I just sit there.  Nobody else is in sight.

I listen to the waves and the shore birds,

and inhale the sweet nectar of the ocean air.

No writing, no playlist, just sitting and being.

For 20 minutes,

I can escape from the noose of reality.

I am devoid of any lists or responsibilities.

I can return to myself.

For 20 minutes,

I am me.

Sea My Thoughts on “The Last Day of Summer”

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The last “unofficial” day of summer.

There’s not much I can write today that hasn’t been said already…

I’m sad to see summer go.

I’m sad that a friend left our world way too soon.

I’m anxious over the massive “to do list” that begins tomorrow.

However, I am also grateful.

Grateful for the memories I made and experiences I had this summer, and for LOCAL SUMMER, which begins tomorrow.

Grateful that my friend is no longer in pain.  Grateful for how his story has brought so many of us together, strengthening our bond, and for the memories that bring a smile to my face.  Grateful for a new role model in his incredibly strong wife.

Grateful that I have a “to do list,” giving me purpose and focus.

Most of all, I am grateful for the person I found this summer.  She’s no longer afraid to share her story.  She’s no longer on the outside.  She’s on the right path, right where she needs to be.  She knows the importance of NOW.

She is me.  And I’m finally here.

I am looking forward to continue sharing my story with you, and hope you will join me for the journey yet to come.

Until next time,

Jill