Wednesday, March 21, 2018

March Musings #21: World Poetry Day

Poetry is a window onto the breath-taking diversity of humanity.
Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director General, 2017

Last month, twenty-eight days of ekphrastic poetry writing with Laura Shovan at her 6th Annual February Poetry Project, cleared a path for me to continue writing poetry, celebrate World Poetry Day, and make preparations for my winter gallery of artistic expressions, #WinterWonderland18 to be unveiled as a National Poetry Month gift of poetry love. Writers, bloggers, poets, photographers, Twitter colleagues, educators, and students from around the world have joined me in a global, poetryliscious celebration of the creative spirit.

Stay tuned for the unveiling of Winter Wonderland Gallery.

Day 21 of Two Writing Teachers' March Slice of Life Story Challenge

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

March Musings #20: On Hope

Hope is ever-present
in nature and in life
even when tucked away.
Hope gives life to the forgotten,
opens doors, previously closed.
It becomes the defining moment, 
surfacing from the unnoticed and unseen.
Hope prevails in the midst of earthly challenges.
to become the miracle of spring and all it promises. 
©CV, 2018

When my Twitter friend, Rita Wirtz, came back to writing her Bam Radio blog post, I felt compelled to write her a poetic response to her statement, " Hope is the miracle, the defining moment", so I lifted her line and wrote. 

We are defined by who we are in the midst of challenge.
When perplexed I am reminded that
Spring promises await.


Monday, March 19, 2018

March Musings #19: Lucky To:

When growing up, I always heard about the luck of the Irish. Good luck is for everyone and is often developed from positive mindsets. I am fortunate to have been raised in a talented family with strong female role models. From my grandmother and mother, I learned how to be nurtured by my passions. Creativity is a gift and developing it is a lifelong journey of persistent observation, practice, and patience. Below is my digital inspiration on being lucky created with Buncee

Close-up of a blackout poem I created based on Wonderopolis' Wonder of the Day, #1649, "Why are Four-Leaf Clovers So Hard To Find?".

 I am lucky to be part of several writing groups and the Connected Educator initiative where positivity is at the foundation. 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

March Musings #18: Pot of Gold

In my town, St. Patrick's Day brings out the best in everyone. From the morning yoga class to our friends' gathering, green was everywhere. The joyous spirit of St. Patrick's Day was infectious as it brought lots of smiles and happiness throughout the day. 

I found my pot of gold last night as my friends and I celebrated life, friendship, and husbands' birthdays with a delicious corn beef and cabbage dinner party.

Sending an Irish Blessing your way!
May you always have...
Wall for the winds.
A roof for the rain.
Tea beside the fire.
Laughter to cheer.
Those you love near you
And all your heart might desire.



Saturday, March 17, 2018

March Musings #17: Collaboration Counts Poetry Slice

I am not sure how it all began but I do remember it was one of the nights this week when the Night Owl PLN got together on Twitter. I decided to switch up the conversation. One of our group members sent me an absolutely, beautiful landscape photograph she took while driving in Pennsylvania. The photo just begged for a poem to accompany the image and I was ready to design my global winter gallery of artistic designs, Winter Wonderland. The stillness, the serenity, the lightly tread upon road all called out for more so I proposed a collaborative poem. 

I set up a Google Doc and invited those interested to join the writing fun activity, afterall it was different way of having a conversation. Oops! Did I say fun? I think I moved a few of my Twitter friends out of their comfort zone as I placed some ideas on the Google doc. When I realized that ideas coming in were evolving into a poem in verse I thought, "But isn't that what I said was out of my comfort zone? "

"When a group of colleagues step out of their comfort zone to collaborate and create, they are the risk takers that their students need to stand before them."
-Carol Varsalona

And so we began the process of adding ideas, making comments, and having others take a peek at our collaborative poem based on Spiri's photo. We were going public, putting ourselves out there for critiquing. We were vulnerable and yet there was pleasure in the creation process. (You can take a look at our Google Doc here.) 

I worked over the course of several days to edit, revise, and word weave (the process I designed to move words in and out, creating a designed effect during the revision process). Then, I moved from Google Docs to Buncee to create a digital poem. The end product is below but you can see a larger version at my Buncee dashboard

This image poem will be added to my Twitter repository, #WinterWonderland18, as I prepare to organize and design my winter gallery. Stay tuned for more on when the gallery will be unveiled. 

I thank the following members of my Night Owl PLN who chose to step out of their comfort zone and write alongside me:
Melissa Chouinard-Jahant
Steve Kelley
Faige Meller
Chris Quinn
Valerie Tilton
and to Spiri Howard for her fine photography skills

Collaboration Counts!
I celebrate collaboration today.

"Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work."
-Vince Lombardi

Ruth Ayres has a wonderful story of friendship and the power of one word

Thursday, March 15, 2018

March Musings #16: Snowflakes

Golden Shovel Poem
Line Lifted: Into a perfect flake of miraculous snow

They danced into
my heart as a
cascading array of perfect
 snow kisses, each flake
a representation of
Lady Winter's miraculous
artwork of crystallized snow
and then, they danced away. 

Student voice is strong in Margaret Simon's classroom. She below.

Who knew that Lady Winter would send an ice storm to Louisiana!

Hosted by my writing colleague, Linda Baie who is celebrating spring at Teacher Dance

Day 16 of  Two Writing Teachers' March Slice of Life Story

I am in the process of designing my Winter Wonderland Gallery and the digital inspirations on this page are included. Stay tuned for news of the unveiling.

March Musings #15: Snow-Kissed Winter

Lately, nor'easters come and go on Long Island announcing their arrival and quick departure like layover flights. You would think Long Islanders are used to the meteorologists creating a stir with their predictions. You would also think that people would not scramble to grocery stores as if they were in survival mode or that the local Home Depot would become the mecca for winter shoppers. We should  be used to the fluctuating changes in the weather by now but we really aren't. 

I remember my days growing up in Central New York. Winters were a mix of gray days and piles of snow. People bundled up from Thanksgiving to Easter and snow was a shared experience. When I first moved to Long Island, I laughed when the snow came and saw the shock on everyone's faces. But I must admit that this time when the nor'easter decided to return for another run, I was perplexed. 

Yesterday, I was scheduled to travel to Albany, our state capital, for the last in this year's series of statewide conferences.  Since Monday, I felt harried. I listened to the weather report, called the Albany hotel several times, and checked in with other travelers. My colleagues whom I was driving up with decided not to venture out into the predicted storm. I waited to see the extent of the storm and made a final decision last night. Since I already had a crazy experience a couple of years ago during a blizzard trying to get from Long Island to New York City's Penn Station and off to Albany, I decided not to attend this last conference. I guess it was the right decision to stay home because I knew I could read the material distributed online. 

What transpired: After all that worrying and planning would you believe that the storm came, left a light winter blanket on the ground, and then by afternoon took off?  Weather patterns are strange here. One thing I can say for sure, winter has been having fun creating a stir and leaving its snow kisses for us. 

Snow Kisses

If you go out when it’s snowing
And look up at the sky,
You’ll feel lots of icy kisses
As the snowflakes flutter by.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

March Musings Day 14: Dream Big

Thanks Alyssa H. for creating 
this inspiration poster.
My dreams tug at my heart. They are my longings, the urgings of my soul, and the guiding lights on the road to owning my brave
"To me, #brave means being and bringing my best, most confident, authentic, and powerful self to whatever situations I face. Inherent in that is constructive action and full responsibility." - Kimberly Davis
My dreams follow me from morning to night. They may not be totally actualized YET but they are worthy of my pursuit.

Line lifted to create a golden shovel poem* 
based on Langston Hughes' line from Dreams
"Hold fast to dreams."

In the rush to hold
my hurried life in the fast
lane, I sometimes forget to
slow down to reach my dreams.
©CVarsalona, 2018


Seasonal Advice to Self

Hold fast to dreams,
Floating high 
Like kites of summer
Seeking to fly.

Hold fast to my dreams.
Never letting go
Realizing hope
Is tucked in snow.
©CVarsalona, 2018


I Can Statements for Constructive Action:  

I can own my brave.
I can continue to dream big one step at a time.
I can give thanks for each actualization of my dreams.

Day 14 of Two Writing Teachers' March Slice of Life Story Challenge

*Golden Shovel Poem How To: Lift a line from a poem. Turn that line into a golden shovel poem.  That is done by lining up the words of the original line in the right column, one word at a time, and create a new line ending in each word. If the borrowed line, called a striking line, is five words long, you will end up with a five line poem. If it is 7 words long, you would end up with a seven line poem, and so on. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

March Musings #13: And So I Write

so I write to
start a brand new story
view the world through a different lens -
to be in the moment, in the presence of stillness -
alone I write as words swirl in a sea of fragmented ideas
and dreams dangle on indigo strings in a star-mapped sky -
and so I write watching hope crisscross life with finely crafted words
so I can believe in the power of voice to 
pierce the night
awaken morning 
©CVarsalona, 2018

Day 13 of Two Writing Teachers' March Slice of Life Story Challenge

Words by the Bee Gees 1968

Buncee Creation

Monday, March 12, 2018

March Musings #12: Winter at the Beach

"Sun's out. Let's go to the beach."

That's all it took to lure me aware from Sunday chores. My husband, son, and I were going to our happiness place. Since I had not been to the beach in months, I was excited to see what winter would look like this year.

Arrival: I was bundled up and ready to walk the boardwalk when I turned back to see my husband and son without a heavy winter jacket. Not to worry. I am always the one that is cold. But as soon as I started walking toward the beach, I felt it-the whipping winds of winter. My husband thought out loud. "I guess this is going to be a short walk!" We continued to head toward the boardwalk and there they were, the beach and the ocean right in front of us. The scene looked so calm. If it wasn't for the wind you would have thought that spring arrived.

Spring-not yet, winter had the upper hand! As we walked on the boardwalk, we trudged against the wind, reached an agreed upon spot, and walked back with the wind behind us. Then, we saw a couple of amazing sights:

a baby gleefully enjoying the gathering of hungry seagulls circling her

a couple climbing the sand dune barefoot to gaze at the calm ocean-brrr

As we left the beach, my husband said, "Aren't you glad that we came to the beach today?"

"Yes, it was a short but memorable visit to our happiness place."