At the age of 6, I played the role of Sleeping Beauty in a class play. I hated the hat. It made my ears stand away from my head. I already liked the little boy who was playing the Prince.  I am basically shy, how I got picked for the role, I don't know. But, I didn't complain, I  took on the challenge. 

About Jill Ayn Schneider

  • Guadalupe River3:51

In 2014, at the age of 68, I decided to travel to Sicily on my own, without the Godfather. I created an itinerary of almost a month of staying on organic farms, seeing and learning about the ancient cultures that influenced Sicily and speaking a bit of Italian, which I am not very good with, but I try.  I had to rent a little "stick shift" Italian car to get around since many of the places were not on any train or bus routes. Planning the trip was almost as much fun as the trip itself. 

This photo was taken in the Northwest area of Sicily, on the Mediterranean Sea. The trail was long and hard, but I felt so grateful that I could do it. Cosimo, my Sicilian friend, gave me the confidence in the trail and in myself. The ultimate reward was this classic beach and a few more along the coastal trail.  Life has given me precarious and unexpected opportunities for the past 50 years. I love the challenges and mostly, I love the peace of mind which guides my ultimate journey. 

In my memoir, Latkes In The Jungle, I tell the story about my friendship with Bo Diddley, the man who invented the original "rock n' roll" rhythm in the late 1950's. This photo was taken before one of his amazing performances, toward the end of his career. I'm giving him a shoulder and neck massage. I lived on his ranch with my son in the early 80's and recorded my first song in his studio. I was the maid, white and Jewish, and the Massage Therapist. I knew how to do the job since I was raised by an African American (part Cherokee) woman and her sister for the first 12 years of my life. I also took care of his kids, grandchildren, his mother and his wife. 

Another big skip to age 50. I am drinking in the aroma of these delicious blue bonnet flowers in a field outside of Austin, Texas in 1996.  Leaving Miami in 1995, had been a smart move. I rented a stone cottage on the Guadalupe River. These flowers only bloom in April, depending on the weather. I wrote a song for the river.

Big skip from age 6 to 27. Yes, that's me in Kathmandu, Nepal in 1973. I shaved my head a couple of days before this photo was taken by my brother, Steve, who came to visit me in Kathmandu. I lived in a mud and cow dung hut outside of the town of Boudha, a Tibetan Village with many monks and lamas. I like to fit in and adapt to the culture I'm exploring. Latkes in the Jungle tells the whole story.

I look the same! Juices, green smoothies, mostly vegetarian/vegan, swimming, walking and riding a trail bike in the Everglades with the alligators. Seriously, if you don't bother them, they don't bother you. I'm usually at least 30 feet from those guys, but of course, they can go 25 miles an hour.  I see some fabulous birds, river otters, turtles, deer and even a few bobcats. Not too bad for an ol' broad! Oy 2 Joy!!

I remember my Granddaughter Alana's 5th Birthday Party in 2014. My son, Aaron, took this one of me. You can see that I just felt so proud to be alive and grateful for my son and his family. It's a good picture and I so happy to look and feel strong and healthy at 68.