Sunday, October 15, 2017

Celebrating Wonder!


“The world is full of magic things, 
patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” 
-W.B. Yeats

When I pause to notice the beauty of the world, I am inspired to wonder. This process of noticing life, ignites further wondering from which digital creations often follow. This fall, I will notice autumn's changes on Long Island to enjoy the richness of the season. 

While autumn on Long Island does not yet look like what is shown below, my colleagues' photos for my upcoming gallery accumulate and cause me to reflect on what is to come. 

To celebrate the wonder of fall, I sent out an invitation through social media sites.  I invite you to wonder alongside me this fall and create. You can access the invitation to my global gallery of artistic expressions, Autumn Ablaze, here.


What else has caused me to wonder professionally and personally this past week?

  • Travel to Tuscon for the National Center for Families Learning 2017 Conference-Learning was a series of "wonder-filled" moments. Inspiration flowed like water. Amazing speakers like Deborah Phelps, Billy Mays, Magic Johnson, and so many more uplifted our spirits each day as we discussed family literacy. My Wonderopolis Wonder Bunch team provided a lens to stimulate child-like wonder for all. At a roundtable presentation, we showcased Wonderopolis, the free educational site where the wonders of learning never cease. 

  • Professional writing-I was asked by Evan and Laura Robb to write a guest post on The Robb Review. The post, Professional Wonder, was published on October 14th. You can access that here. I created the following #digitalsinspirations to accompany the post. 

  • #EdCampLI-It is always a pleasure to be among a gathering of connected educators sharing the passion of learning outside of school hours. Over 800 educators on Long Island registered for this annual event. From the networking time to the sessions, conversations were filled with rich wonderings and new learnings. 

  • #grandbaby love-I am extremely happy to be a new grandmother. The opportunity to view photos of my grandbaby, Sierra Kathryn and/or visit with her on Google Hangout are my moments to reflect on being a grandmother. Today, was my opportunity to do so.

The world is full of magical happenings.
I celebrate the wonder that never ceases to fill
my senses with the spirit of inspired living.

I now join Ruth Ayres at Celebrate This Week to celebrate the positives of the week with the community of writers. 

If you want to feel peaceful while you wonder about life, access the instrumental music via the video "Autumn Leaves" by Tim Janis here

Friday, October 13, 2017

Autumn Ablaze: Invitation to Create

Where there is passion, there is autumn with its brilliancy and anticipation for landscapes ablaze with color, hope of pumpkin-spiced days, and evenings of starry or moonlit skies.

autumn is ablaze
golden-tinged trees color life
with inspiration
©CVarsalona, 2017

The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
-William Butler Yeats, The Wild Swans at Coole

Above photography by Devin Hartnett, Kent Kristensen, kmechling, Carol Varsalona
Let's color the world with autumn joy this season! 

Filled with the spirit of autumn, I traveled across the country to Tuscon for the National Council of Families Learning 2017 Conference and found fall in a different light than back east. Clearly, the Sonoran Desert has a hypnotizing spell at sunrise, welcoming each autumn day.

Knowing that early autumn is a season of color and vibrancy, I invite you to find fall in your locale and create digital magic alongside me for the Autumn Ablaze Gallery. You may not have autumn leaves where you are, but the following song will inspire you to create. 

Deadline for the submission of all offerings: November 28, 2017.  

-Be creative

-Capture autumn digitally via a photograph, inspirational quote, original poem, artwork, short video, audio readings of original poetry, or short musical compositions.

-Sign each digital offering with your name and locale.

-Size your digital offerings to fit the gallery. 450 pixels is the best sizing

-Send your jpeg offerings to @cvarsalona at gmail with the subject heading , Autumn Ablaze.

-Also send your digital offering to #AutumnAblaze.

Who should join this creative endeavor to give tribute to the richness of the autumn season? EVERYONE-I encourage adults and students from all walks of life to  participate in this global gallery that will allow voice to soar across the world. 

Let's showcase our talents, photographs, poetry, musical compositions, and artwork to create a digital collection of the beauty of autumn.  

You can access the previous fall galleries: Finding Fall, Autumn's Palette, Autumnventure at
http:beyondliteracylink, for samples of digital offerings.

Special Feature: 
If you would like to add spooky, digital treats to the Autumn Ablaze Gallery, please do so. Here is mine!

sights fall before my eyes
friday 13th
©CVarsalona, 2017

Now please join the charming children's poet, Irene Latham, at Live Your Poem for the Poetry Friday Roundup brought to you by the number 13. You will be in for a spooktacular treats.  

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Harvest Moon Grandeur

“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in tune once more.” 
– John Burroughs

When my balance is off due to overload, nature is one of my healers. The other night, October 5th, while driving home from errands, I was struck by the glow of an amazingly beautiful full moon against the darkened sky. It was such a stunning autumn moon that I wanted to stop the car and just stare at its brilliance. That was not an option so I kept driving, noticing how the moon changed from a clear, huge circle to slices that poked through the trees.  What I witnessed was a rare sight, an October harvest moon that was reported to be the first in almost a decade. The feeling of being on high overload dissipated as I arrived home thanks to this natural wonder so I celebrate nature's ability to restore balance to my day. 

Headlines and images of the harvest moon awaited me when I returned home. I was so excited by what I saw that I searched the internet for information about this phenomenon. 

Photo by Cristina @cri_stina2000, Long Island

Below is my found poem created from selected words in the Wonderopolis, Wonder of the Day
#1282, What Makes The Moon Look Orange

Rest assured that 
tonight's Harvest Moon
touched the horizon
brilliantly glowing
in full color 
against a blackened sky.
Angling my head to
catch its moon beams,
thoughts swirled into a
composition of gratitude.
Was I spinning on an axis
awed by a celestial sight?
Was this sphere of brilliance, 
full in face, rare in appearance, 
the decade's show stopper?
The night sky's celebration
lay scattered among headlines.
Shine on Harvest Moon!

Shine on Harvest Moon by Ruth Etting (1931)

Today, I celebrate moonglow and its ability to bring balance joy and balance to life. I also celebrate the glow of my grandbaby's smile. She lights up a room almost as grand as the moon lights up the night sky. 

Each week Ruth Ayres invites all to celebrate the positives. I join her today as I fly out to Tuscon for the NCFL 2017 Conference. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Autumns Invites Change

Autumn is just beginning to settle in on Long Island. Evenings grow shorter and a few trees are popping color. While enjoying the first views of autumn, I decided it would be fun to play with words in ABC fashion. Take an autumn walk with me.

(The Abecedarian format introduced by my colleague, Michelle H. Barnes, continues to intrigue me as you will see below. You can see Michelle's padlet full of abecedarian poetry for September's TLD challenge here.)  

brings brilliant colors
dazzling earth.
Photo by Kent Kristensen

Each fall, golden gourds &
hued harvests inspire, joyful
life living moments.
Photo by Carol Varsalona

Maize-colored moonlit
nudges October.
Photo by kmechling

Observing patterned, 
rust-colored reflections,
seasonal senses soar,
turning time toward
Thanksgiving. Then,
Unpredictable, volume-packed winds
Swirling winds toss leaves (Pinterest)

wisk xanthic, yowling zombies
zeroing toward winter wonders.
©CVarsalona, 2017

Earlier this week, I wrote a post, Red Leaf Calling that started me thinking about fall, even though I could not get enough of summer. This is probably because of the summer-like weather here. If you are thinking about fall, join me for my autumn gallery, Autumn Ablaze. An official invitation for autumn offerings will be coming out soon. (You can also see a Golden Shovel format poem I wrote and photos I digitized for my blog post, Summer Fades Into Fall, on the Wonderopolis' Wonder Ground here.) 

Fellow blogger-poet, Violet Nesdoly, has a Pumpkin Edition for Poetry Friday today. I am late to arrive at Violet's pumpkin patch but eager to enjoy her hospitality and ode to pumpkins.


Small Steps

"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, 
but anyone can start today and make a new ending."
- Maria Robinson 

The poem below was written in response to Irene Latham' post, 
Downsizing for the Joy of It  for Spiritual Journey first Thursday.

Photo by Joseph Wegrzyn on Unsplash
small steps
slow down life
into bite-size happenings
needed for life renewal
©CV, 2017

Today's topic, Small Steps Lead to Big Change, led me to consider the dynamics of change. While change often means moving beyond my comfort zone, I recognize its need. To change worn out life patterns, I am now focused on small steps to declutter my house. I want to rid my house of superfluous possessions with as little effort as possible.  Since I cannot bypass the hurdles of the journey, a series of small steps with reflective actions lie ahead. With faith, I move forward. Wish me luck. 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Red Leaf Calling

“Nature will bear the closest inspection. 
She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf
and take an insect view of its plain.” 
-Henry David Thoreau

I ventured out into the rain
one end-of-summer type of day;
spotted a trinket from Mother Nature.

Dared summer to bless its
autumnaL entrance
And begin fall's

"... and all at once, summer collapsed into fall." -Oscar Wilde

While summer may be officially over, 
it continues to bring its sunshine to fall. 


Did you see Sunkissed Summer Gallery of artistic expressions? 
Take a peek here to remember Summer 2017.
Now, turn your attention to Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life. 

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Celebrating Firsts

on this ordinary day
I'm remembering an extraordinary September weekend
and reflecting on the FIRSTS that marked a momentous occasion. 

FIRST sacrament for my granddaughter, Sierra Kathryn, unlike any other christenings I have ever attended. The baby was greeted by the Sunday Mass parishioners at St. John Neumann Church's in Reston, Virginia.

FIRST grandchild christening for both families.

FIRST bringing of the gifts to the altar as a grandmother. 
(Grandmotherhood is a a joyful state of mind)

FIRST time for my son being a godfather.

The christening was a momentous occasion for our family and my son-in-law's family. Sierra Kathryn arrived at the church, greeted by Father Bob, and was led to the bridal room to be dressed for her christening. I was the baby stylist and loved every minute of the preparation phase that I shared with my sister and daughter. 

At St. John Neumann Church, two babies are christened during Mass each month. My grandchild was the only one being christening that Sunday. The ceremony was filled with many firsts: a procession in by the parents and godparents, a blessing during the Mass, and a procession by the immediate and extended families to the magnificent baptismal font that was flanked by the children of the parish. What a beautiful ceremony this was!

A highlight of the after Mass ceremony was a special encounter with a 100 year-old woman. With her frail hand, she touched Sierra and gave her a blessed wish. As the woman's daughter stated, "It is the old greeting the young into the church family."

After Mass, a reception was held for the parishioners. Sierra was a topic of conversation. Many came by to greet her and ask about the christening gown and bonnet that were both family heirlooms. Sierra wore a gold chain and cross that was kept in its tiny original box by my mother. It was a fitting gift and remembrance on this day. 

The christening party was another occasion to dress baby Sierra. My daughter was given a gorgeous pink lace dress, headband, and blanket at the shower from a dear friend of mine. As Sierra sat on her vintage baby chair that was passed down through generations, she looked like a little princess. 

Firsts are meant to be shared knowing that many more wonderful events will follow. The significance of the christening goes beyond dressing up, parties, and good times. It is the gathering of families to welcome a baby as a child of God. It is the joy of having a little one fill the house with gentle cooing, warm smiles, and love for all. At the christening ceremony, prayers were lifted for Sierra to grow up with a kind and generous heart. Already, her smiles warm a room and bring joy. I feel blessed by her tiny presence.


I am joining Ruth Ayres to Celebrate This Week since I missed the last two Sundays. As you can see, my time has been full. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Sunkissed Summer Mini-Exhibit

The first days of the fall season are a wonderful time to step back and revisit summer memories. I took this transition time to immerse myself in the design of my summer gallery of artistic expressions, Sunkissed Summer. Since September 24th' opening of the online gallery, hundreds have visited. I can never have enough of summer and hope you feel the same way, too. American art dealer, Larry Gargosian's quote is a fitting way to describe my summer gallery. 

"The sun never sets on my gallery." 

Because I am grateful for the writers, poets, artists, photographers, and student voices for bringing Summer 2017 to life through digital inspirations, I created a mini-exhibit for Poetry Friday. My Poetry Friday colleagues have been strong supporters of my poetrylove work, so I dedicate this mini-gallery to the following poets who created a memorable recollection of summer 2017 with me.


I invite you to peruse this mini-exhibit filled with sunkissed digital inspirations.

Summer 2017's story unfolds with a nod to relaxation time.

As you walk through the mini-gallery, 
recall the scent of blooming flowers. 

Ramona Behnke

Think back on your mini-adventures with family. 
Were they filled with "life living" moments? 

Julieanne Harmatz

Recollect beach walks that brought peace 

or whimsical thoughts inspired by nature.

Even the animals enjoyed the summer sun.

Did your children enjoy firefly chasing on hot, summer nights?

Did you enjoy outdoor concerts listening to summertime tunes

or let the summer rain cause you to reflect?

Did your end-of-summer thoughts drift to return-to-school days?

If so, it's time to celebrate

 and turn your eyes to another season.

All of these and much more can be seen in the full Sunkissed Summer exhibit that can be found hereThank you for visiting the mini-exhibit of Sunkissed Summer Gallery.

Now please visit the Poetry FridayRoundup at my colleague and fellow NCTE presenter, Laura Purdie Salas as she shares Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's new poetry book, Read, Read, Read. You can access Laura' site here.