Nitro’s Check Mark

I took my teenage niece, nephew, and their friend to Six Flags Great Adventure yesterday (August 10, 2018). My husband and I have given Niece and Nephew season passes to Six Flags Great Adventure for Christmas every year since 2015.

What I love most about our gift is that I also get a season pass, which allows me to spend time with them at the park several times a year. Each visit is special to me because it’s our thing, and it’s a great way to help provide a break for my sister-in-law and brother-in-law. If I had a nickel for how many times we laughed together or for each memory we made or silly story we told, I’d be a millionaire by now.

Nephew knows more about Six Flags rides and parks than anyone I’ve ever met. He can tell you when a ride made its park debut, who built it, who designed it, and what park received the ride it might have replaced. He understands the physics and design elements that goes into building a ride and if you ask him what park in the United States had the first looping roller coaster, he will know the answer.

When it comes to actually going on the rides, Niece is fearless and she will go on anything.  Meanwhile, Nephew and I have a similar sense of moderate adventure and we tend to stick to the middle-of-the-road rides and coasters, then when we are ready, we’ll attempt riding a more extreme one.

Our favorite ride is Skull Mountain, which is a fun, little inside coaster that operates in the dark. Two summers ago, Nephew and I set a personal record for going on Skull Mountain 22 times in a row, which took a little over two hours. We only stayed on the ride when the ride queue was empty five times; the rest of the time we got out and walked around. It probably wasn’t my best decision, in hindsight, since I flew to Dublin the following day with a splitting headache.

Our last ride conquests were Superman: Ultimate Flight and Green Lantern at the end of last summer. I was surprised how much I enjoyed the Superman experience, considering riders are face down to simulate Superman’s flight. We conquered Bizarro in April of 2017. Man, that one is fast! It’s like the Batman coaster after it had three energy drinks and a shot of super-charged espresso. Batman: The Ride has always been one of my favorites, and we conquered that one together in 2015 at Six Flags Great Adventure’s Holidays in the Park.

The coasters Nephew and I haven’t found the courage to ride yet are notoriously extreme, and we weren’t sure which coaster we’d be brave enough to conquer this year.

Enter Nitro.

Nitro, from the Six Flags Great Adventure website

When Nitro opened in 2001, it was the tallest and fastest roller coaster in New Jersey (Kingda Ka stole those honors from Nitro a few years later). While Nitro does not have any inversions, it is 230 feet high at its peak (which takes almost 60 seconds to climb) and reaches speeds up to 80 miles per hour in its two minute, twenty second mile-long course.

I went on Nitro once while chaperoning a school trip in 2005, thinking it would be like either Rolling Thunder and Scream Machine, two classic, now long-gone, coasters I loved.

I was completely wrong.

Nitro nearly killed me.

Well, maybe not killed, but the experience scared me tremendously.

I ended up uncontrollably shaking and trembling when I walked off the ride, my legs like jelly and my arm muscles sore for several days later due to how much I strained them as I held onto the restraint as tight as I could.

I vowed I was forever done with the infernal contraption known as Nitro.

I shared my Nitro story with Nephew on several occasions, including yesterday when we safely sat and waited for Niece and Friend to return from Friend’s first time riding the steel beast.

Nephew is older now, and I could see the curiosity twinkling in his eye as he told me what he knew about Nitro while he watched a car roaring along its track. “It was designed by B and M,” he said, “and they have a great safety record.”

There was no doubt about it. He was ready to take the Nitro leap and I wasn’t about to let my fear hold him back.

Niece and Friend returned rather quickly since the wait time was a few minutes at best, and Friend absolutely loved the Nitro experience.

Nephew said that if Friend could do it, he could too.

All three looked at me with pleading eyes but I stubbornly shook my head. “You guys have a great time!” I said as I bid them farewell, then I walked over to where people on the ground could see Nitro’s ride cars leave the loading area. Nephew was safely seated between Niece and Friend as their car passed by, their arms flailing in enthusiastic waves.

“Bye!” they yelled in unison.

They returned 140 seconds later with Nephew wearing the widest smile I’ve ever seen on his face. He gave me a thumbs up from up on high as he jubilantly shrieked, “It was awesome!”

Dammit.

I knew what I had to do.

A minute later, they surrounded me as they jumped around in sheer excitement and joy. A chorus of “please?”s rose up.  Nephew looked me right in my eyes and said, “You can do it. I did it, and so can you.”

I remembered a story told by a colleague who was in a similar situation. Her grandson wanted her to go on a thrill ride with him, and her outlook was, “I can do anything for two minutes.”

Realizing that I could too, I sighed then nodded my head as I said, “Okay.”

A whoop emanated from all three as Niece took my hand to lead me to certain death.

“You’re lucky I love you,” I grumbled as we walked through the air gate to the seats in Row 4.

My pulse raced as I sat down between Niece and Nephew, with Friend to Nephew’s left. The yellow restraints locked and were subsequently checked by the ride attendants. It’s a good thing mine was secure because at the last second, I cried, “I don’t want to do this!” and I honestly would have ran if I could.

However, it was zero hour and flight was not an option.

After the “visual scan” and “all clear” over the loudspeaker by what I was sure was the Grim Reaper disguised as Nitro’s head supervisor, our car was set free.

Nitro, from the Six Flags Great Adventure website

I closed my eyes and leaned my head as far back into my seat as possible. With each upward click, I squeezed Niece’s hand a little tighter. She, along with Nephew and Friend, found my reaction highly amusing. I think they were all laughing, but I can’t exactly remember because I was concentrating so hard on praying for redemption.

“Here we go, Aunt Jill!” Niece shouted as we reached Nitro’s summit.

This is it.

I. Am. Going. To. Die.

Within seconds, we were traveling down the 215-feet drop at the advertised eighty miles-per-hour.  I’m pretty sure my heart rate matched the number of expletives I let fly.

“I’m going to die! My eyes are closed! My eyes are open! No, they’re not! I’m going to die!”

Towards the end of the journey to my undeniable demise, Niece yelled, “Bunny hops!!”

I opened my eyes to see the blue and yellow hilly path we were on as we smoothly rode over each bump. It was surprisingly much smoother than the Runaway Mine Train bunny hops at the end of its path, that was for sure.

“Hold on!”

The car suddenly came to a halting stop.

And I was alive.

Sure, my legs were once again like jelly as we walked off the ride, and I felt a surge of electricity pulsing through my entire body.

But it was a good energy, and I did not die.

The sleek, wicked-fast roller coaster was one of the smoothest rides I’ve ever experienced, and the sensation of weightlessness was exhilarating.

I looked at Nephew, who threw his arms around me and exclaimed, “I’m so proud of you!” Niece and friend hugged me too. “You did it, Aunt Jill!”

Somewhere along the ride route, a remote camera snaps a photograph which is then displayed for about a minute or so on the monitors at the Nitro photo kiosk near the ride’s exit. The picture of our row featured three gleeful faces with arms up in the air and one red face screaming for mercy as she gripped onto the restraint for dear life.

We didn’t buy the photograph, but I’ll be able to picture it perfectly in my mind’s eye for the rest of my life.

The unspoken question hovered in the air around us as we regrouped outside the ride.

It was answered by all four of us walking together once again through Nitro’s entrance.

Three minutes later, a photograph with four delighted smiles in our row flashed upon the photo kiosk’s screen.

2018 Roller Coaster: Nitro. Check mark achieved.

 

Nitro’s Check Mark“: Copyright 2018 – Jill Ocone. This post originally appeared on both the Soulseaker blog (www.soulseaker.com) and the personal blog of Jill Ocone (www.jillocone.com) on August 11, 2018. Views and opinions contained in this post are solely those of the author, who was not compensated in any way by any entity, including Six Flags Great Adventure, the Six Flags corporation, or their affiliates. All rights reserved.

What Will Your 2017 Verse Be?

We are once again standing on the horizon of a new year’s birth.

I bid a fond farewell to regret, to bitterness, to floundering, and to negativity.

I say hello to living, to positivity, to happiness, and to making my dream a reality.

I will continue to make marvelous memories with those I cherish, experiences full of smiles and laughter.

I will accomplish that goal I have had for years, the one that I kept buried underneath the cloak of insignificance and the mask of unworthiness, the one that used to just collect nothing more than dust.

As Walt Whitman wrote,

YOU ARE HERE.

LIFE EXISTS, AND IDENTITY.

THE POWERFUL PLAY GOES ON.

AND YOU MAY CONTRIBUTE A VERSE.

So, the question is my friend,

What will your verse be?

My verse for 2017 will be filled with writing, learning, and living. I will follow my dream while I impart the lesson that this moment is everything. I will be focused as I rise in 2017.

Why?  Because…

I AM HERE.

My life exists.

I finally know my worth.

And I will contribute my verse with enthusiasm, confidence, and most of all, love.

Let Robin Williams’ character John Keating fill you with inspiration with Whitman’s words as we explode into 2017.

Happy New Year, friend!

With love,Jill

Jill

What Will YOur Verse Be Full Square

“Mission from the Universe” Part 7: I Go!

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go!

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.

Most importantly,

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).

The time is here.

Let’s do this! 

Jill

SoulSEAker Instagram

SoulSEAker Facebook Page

Personal Instagram

 

“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 4: The Web of Connections

20160810 4 Days Blog Photo New Fonts(Click HERE to read Part 1Click HERE to read Part 2 – Click HERE to read Part 3)

I’ve been aware of these so-called signs for about 10 months or so. It kills me thinking about all of the signs I might have missed before I figured out what was going on, but alas, that’s doing the very thing I vowed to STOP doing, which is looking at the past.

Move on, Jill. Move on.

The signs or clues come in a variety of forms and through a variety of means, including through the words of others, through technology by emails and posts, through song lyrics and recurring songs that “randomly” are played, and through books and articles, to name a few.

Some of the signs have actually been physical, tangible items. Those are the ones with the strongest punch, the ones that fill me with chills and awe and joy.

One such example is a post I wrote last month, where GALICIA, a region I had never heard of before, popped up twice in one day from two completely separate sources. You can read that post here.

Now, did SHE actually send me that connection or that word?

Probably not.

Can I connect her to that line on my web somehow?

Yes I can.

Because I am headed to Dublin, I began researching my family history to see if we have an Irish connection. Through that research, I unearthed the region of GALICIA on my family tree, as well as read about it in a book given to me by a former student from where SHE was my colleague. Roundabout yes, but without this trip, I probably wouldn’t have even thought to take a look at my heritage.

It’s like a massive 6 Degrees of Separation thing.

I’m still hoping to find an Irish connection in my heritage before the trip, but if I don’t, no worries. Perhaps that story I was told about one of my great-grandfathers coming from Ireland wasn’t accurate. With the way my luck goes, I’ll find a connection on the first day I return. 😉  And if that happens, that’s the way the universe wants it to happen. I’m okay with it.

Here, in no particular order, are some of the terms on my Web of Connections that I’ve been led to over the past year. While I am comfortable sharing these terms, I am not open to discussing possible meanings at this time, as this is very personal. I have an idea about what some might be referring to or where some might be leading, but I need to figure everything out on my own.  I kindly request that you refrain from providing any insight, comments, interpretations, or opinions about what you think something might mean or symbolize. The time will come when I will ask for opinions and the like (believe me, I’m looking forward to it!).

Now is not that time. Thank you very much for your understanding.

  • Ireland/Dublin (of course)
  • James Joyce

    FullSizeRender
    My Web of Connections, intentionally blurred to protect confidentiality
  • Seamus Heaney
  • Midnight
  • Light
  • Dark
  • Open
  • Serve
  • Galicia/Austria/Poland/Russia
  • Malcolm Gladwell
  • Dig/Digging
  • Write/Writing
  • Soul
  • Me/We
  • Treasure
  • Signs
  • Sun/Sunlight
  • Sky
  • Green
  • Pilgrimage
  • Paulo Coelho
  • Triskelion symbol
  • Terms from the past that have made an appearance include ships and ghost story.

Stay tuned for Part 5: Walking the Path tomorrow.

“Mission from the Universe” Part 3: Be Open

201608089 5 Days Blog Photo New Fonts(Click HERE to read Part 1Click HERE to read Part 2)

So, what am I supposed to do with my life?

That is a question I’ve been asking myself since I was a teenager.

I get increasingly frustrated by the answer that comes immediately to mind:

I DON’T KNOW.

Mr. Hand calling out Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High for his tardiness is funny: “’Mr. Hand, will I pass this class?’ Gee, Mr. Spicoli, I don’t know!”

I know you want to watch that scene right now, so click here to watch it on YouTube.

Like I said, Mr. Hand is funny.

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.

Then another.

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.

Something to SEA: The Time Manifesto

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Time.

We think it is endless, with an unlimited balance.

We live like there’s another life with more time waiting for us in a bank somewhere, ready to protect us with an overdraft if we reach our spending limit.

The minutes speed by quicker and quicker every year, every month, every day…and our overdraft disappears.

Someday. Someday we say.  But when is that day?

Before we know it, we turn the calendar to the next month. Then turn it again…and so on.

We change the clocks.  Forward and back.  Forward and back…and so on.

Our schedule is not ours.  It is regimented by others.

Others who think our time is not valuable as theirs.

Others who put their agenda before our well-being.

Others who determine our worth by requiring a financial payment month after month, year after year.

In the big picture, what’s my balance, anyway?

I might have a few minutes left, or years and years and years…

Only the teller in the sky keeping track of my account knows.

The truth: my TIME is worth more than all of the money in the world.

Time.

It’s TIME to reclaim MY time.

It’s TIME to LIVE THIS LIFE, my valuable life filled with my valuable time.

It’s TIME to move forward with positivity, with kindness, and with compassion as I spend the rest of my time here on Earth in the most meaningful way:

LIVING.

“Sea”king MY soul.

On MY terms.

Helping when I can.

Sharing experiences with the people who are important to me.

Seeing the places I want to see.

Making the memories I want to make.

A life that is free and so full that no overdraft will be required when my account is closed.

Isn’t it TIME for you to join me?

 

 

Something to SEA: A New Direction for Me

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss

This week, I finally did it.  After hemming and hawing, weighing the pros and the cons, discussing it with treasured friends and family, I finally took action to alter the direction of my life, and I couldn’t be more relieved.

I spent almost 8 years as a part-time photographer, shooting weddings, portraits, events, parties, and more.  I always loved taking photographs, and I thought that the natural step was to take the plunge and go professional.  I had a good eye and people told me I was good, so why not?

I didn’t mind in the least giving up my weekends to document major events in the lives of my clients.  When I would get a new booking, I would be elated and share my joy with friends and family.  Sometimes there were over 4,000 images from a job to edit, yet I was excited while editing each and every one with care.

I thought I could do it all, while holding down a full time job as an educator (and with Lupus and Fibromyalgia in the mix, too).  I bought backdrops and lights.  I made sample cards and albums.  I joined professional associations and went to conferences because that’s what I thought I was supposed to do.

And I did do it all, for a while.

But only for a while.

However, what nobody saw was how “photography” actually changed me for the worse.

First of all, I did not care for the business end of it.  I quickly learned that while I might have a good eye, I did not have the persona of a savvy businesswoman…and if you are a savvy businesswoman or man, may I say that I admire you!  My ethics and morals came before the prices I charged, and I always put my client before my profit, no matter what I had to give up.  Believe me, I know what other photographers charged for their work, but I could never bring myself to that level.  Perhaps it was because I didn’t feel worthy, or that my work was good enough.  Whatever the case, it doesn’t matter now.

Secondly, it became more and more difficult for me to properly do the job of a photographer because of my health.  What most people don’t know is that after every wedding I shot, I was laid up for two or three days afterwards and could hardly walk.  The sudden increase in activity, the stress, the long hours on my feet triggered my Lupus and Fibromyalgia symptoms terribly.  Thankfully, my health never resulted in me having to cancel a gig, and I always let my clients know of my condition and what Plan B was beforehand.  Even an hour long beach portrait session took a physical toll on my body.  Exhaustion, headaches, and leg pain are the norm on a good day, let alone on a day when I have extra activity.

I began to realize the sacrifices I was making in order to record someone else’s life events, and I no longer wanted to compromise my health for someone else.  I no longer wanted to miss my family events to photograph someone else’s family event.  I wanted to live my own life, not document other’s lives.

Additionally, as the list of professional responsibilities as an educator has exponentially grown over the past few years, I had less and less time each year to not only accept photography gigs, but also to edit the photos, design albums, market my services, attend trade shows, and more.  I could not keep up with other area photographers who were able to pursue photography as their only career:  their marketing, their equipment, their editing, their studios were always superior because they had the TIME to dedicate to their craft, time which I did not have.

The personal frustrations of turning a loved hobby into a career, at times, resulted in me actually hating photography, something I never confessed before now.  But it wasn’t photography that I hated; it wasn’t putting the view finder up to my eye and capturing what I saw.  Instead, it was everything else having to do with the “photography” end of it.

And I gave into that hated and put my camera down for a long time when it came to taking pictures of people I care about, or of my own life events.  And at what cost?  Not having my own photos of, say, my father and I at Thanksgiving, or my father in law and I at Easter…photographs that can never be taken again because both passed away last year.

I hate that I let that hatred affect my life.  I hate that instead of real pictures, I have to rely on mental photographs of many people I love and care about who have passed on.

This week, like I said, I finally took action.  First, I deactivated my portfolio site, which hasn’t made a sale in over 3 years.  I cannot not justify paying a pretty hefty yearly fee in case someone might want to buy one of my photos for cheap.  Additionally, I deactivated the url address I used for my business.  Again, no hits in a few years, so no justification to keep it.

It was time for me to do this. And as I read both cancellation confirmation emails, I was filled with reassurance and contentment.

I am eternally grateful for the clients who put their trust in me to document their weddings, their milestones, and their events.  Words cannot express how flattered I am that you thought my work was good enough for you. I am who I am today because of all of you.  YOU are what brought me to this epiphany.

Today, I am MORE than just a photographer. And “photographer” is no longer my sole identity.

I will still photograph school events and get excited when, for instance, I capture a soccer player mid-air with a soccer ball pressed up against his head, the moment a baseball player makes impact with the baseball while swinging, or a cheerleader in a perfect layout more than two stories up in the air.

I will still educate my students about photography and techniques they can use to capture similar images.

I will still photograph my niece and nephews, from being silly and selfies to milestones and card-worthy portraits.

I will still take photographs of where I go, who I am with, and what I see.

I will still share my photographs with you.

Not because I am a photographer.

But because I love photography.

And I will photograph and document MY life as I live it:  MY travels.  MY celebrations.  MY sorrows.  MY days.  MY sights.  MY memories.

MY LIFE on MY TERMS.

What a sigh of relief.

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Something to SEA: Rainy Day Clicks for 9/12/2015

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Hello friends!

It is clear that it is going to take some time to adjust to the change in my schedule, going from summer to school year, and I am having a lot of difficulty finding my groove (I sure hope I can find it).  However, I have been able to save some interesting Internet finds for you.  When you are tooling around on a rainy day, check them out.

Writing With a Heavy Teaching Load (very appropriate right how, for others in the same boat as me)

A Song for Ireland

Women, Creativity, & Moving Past Fear with Elizabeth Gilbert

Time for Change?

Make Better Decisions

Passion Planner for 2016 (I love mine for 2015-been using it all year)

A Pink Dolphin!

and finally

The Night Derek Jeter became Mr. November 

Until next time,

Jill