Thursday, June 25, 2015

Inspired

"Inspiration does exist, but it has to find you working."
Pablo Picasso

Being open to a new idea and a new path to explore is at the heart of my writing but trying a new format comes only through research and practice. Inspiration is everywhere but harvesting it into a ripened fruit of merit is something that requires time and effort. Now that school is officially over in my locale, summer mode is starting. 

Today, to push me out in the open spaces of summer, my husband decided that a short jaunt to the beach was in order. I have to say that the sunshine and different environment proved to be very inspirational. As I am in the midst of designing the Spring's Symphony Gallery, new ideas keep popping up. To say that I am between spring and summer in my passion projects is an understatement. To honor the betwixt and between feeling, I was inspired to create the following pieces that combine the gardens of spring with the rippling waves of the beach.




To further connect my thoughts, I found the following poem at Poetry Foundation. 



This week, I have been working on Spring's Symphony Gallery while being inspired by the "splashings" of summer. As the sea called to me, my husband, son, and I mulled over the names for the next gallery and new ideas. After I unveil Spring's Symphony I will offer an invitation to the newest gallery challenge and look forward to your comments. Staying inspired...



Poetry FridayNow, please visit Poetry Friday at Carol's Corner where Carol welcomes us to Denver where the rain just doesn't seem to stop. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

6-Word Story

"Our lives are narratives in the making."

Creativity Matters: The 7/6 Project and the Edges That Expand Writing
Katherine Egan Cunningham, Suzanne Farrell Smith


Every story is made up of literary elements: character, setting, plot, and theme. The story of human life is a series of events enacted since birth. "We" become the main character in a drama set in hometown America circa 21st century. How we play the role of the protagonist is determined by faith and trust in a path of truth. Do we live our life accordingly? Do we travel our path with passion or with complacency? Are we a faithful partner on the journey? What is driving our actions? These are questions to ask when unfolding our story.

The topic of conversation in education chat forums has been on telling our story (branding) and using a powerful voice as the vehicle to do so. If we were to explain our narrative in six words times seven thoughts what would the message be?


Below is my story told in 7 thoughts of 6 words each.

Family ties built destiny of hope.
Faith and hope bound inextricably together.
Healing power of faith and medicine.
Finding balance to positively view life.
Collaborate, connect, reflect to move forward.
Aspiring toward peaceful serenity each day.
A life well shared is success!



There is still more story to tell but it builds day by day. The Spiritual Journey Thursday community under the leadership of Holly Mueller is exploring the story of our life as part of a greater plan. After reading many passages and reviewing songs, I came upon Randy Houser's thoughtful song, In God's Time



The lyrics to the song provide a powerful message: Listen, follow the path, and have faith that the path may need to be changed. Perhaps, we need to learn that the timeline is not ours aloneรง
"Oh but no one knows / Not you or me / It might be tomorrow or it might never be / Oh but don't lose faith / Put it in His hands / Because it might be that He might have bigger plan / Than you had in mind / Miracles happen." 
Listen to Taranda Greene's song, When God Has Another Plan, to hear another interpretation of life's story. The journey has twists and turns. Be patient as you transverse the highways of life. Focus is needed as detours may take you to another road. 



Please visit Spiritual Journey Thursday to hear the different viewpoints on the topic. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Reflection on Voice

As I prepare for a end-of-year presentation, my thoughts turn to the power of voice as a vehicle to express our individuality. Bloggers, writers, teachers, and leaders are examples of those who express their thoughts daily through verbal and written interactions. Their voices are heard but one nagging question remains. As travelers of life, do we take the time to pause and reflect on who we are in the grand scheme of life or how we impact those around us?  If so, do we vocalize those feelings? What we say affects those around us. Voice is powerful.

It is the distinct privilege of educators to support and guide learners to become owners of their learning and risk takers. By modeling and delivering passion-filled learning experiences, teachers and leaders as choreographers of learning shape lives and promote the arts of reading, writing, listening, and speaking through the power of voice. What we think and say become critical factors in the growth of our learners as meaning makers. Our voice blends with theirs to create a safe world where positive energy can be infused into the thinking process.

The journey of facilitating learning is not one to take lightly. Look to the voice inside to reflect and express who you are in a complex world in order to positively impact teaching and learning on a daily basis.


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Here is one of the quick writing exercises I am using at professional development this week for a group of choreographers of learning.


STOP-THINK-INK-SHARE

Prompts for free writing and discussion:
Why do writers write?
What is the relevance of writing for different audiences?
How can writing become a tool to explore our identity?

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Please visit Two Writing Teachers for this week's Slice of Life.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Celebrate the Power of Voice

It is time to celebrate! 
Time to reflect on our week's stories
and life as we know it.
Let our words ring true
with a positive message.
It is time to keep positivity alive
through VOICE
and 
the sharing of stories.

I started the week with this thought: Words are the lifeblood of conversations. Digitalizing thoughts become an avenue to share and preserve your creations. I end my week with similar thoughts about the power of voice through word weaving. Communicating, conversing, blogging, and twitting allow our words to connect with others in syncopated thought. 

We fill our world with interactions that allow us to grow as life learners. I celebrate those I connected with this week, either face-to-face or virtually, knowing that my storehouse of knowledge has grow through each conversation. From those collaborative conversations, I have lifted words to weave into new thoughts. A week of connecting with others has allowed the power of voice to make the world a smaller place. From Australia to America, voices have connected to celebrate the power of voice.




Today, I celebrate story and the power of voice with Ruth Ayres and her Celebrate This Week community of writer friends. Please visit the site here



Thursday, June 18, 2015

Choreographers of Learning

Teachers and leaders with passion, patience, and perseverance lead students on to inspired learning in collaborative environments where inquiry is valued and shared. They are the choreographers of learning, a term that I lifted from a recent Twitter conversation between Mark E. Weston, Ph.D. and Dr. Gregory McGough on #teacheredchat and wove it into a poem.




Choreographers of learning hone their craft, develop their practice, and promote risk-taking as a step to improve their skills and strategies. They are the eduheroes who make a difference because they themselves have learned that in the productive struggle learners meet success. 

The above poem seems to be a fitting addition to my Poetry Parade that held my 2015 National Poetry Month poems. Here is another one. 

Lifting a Line

Snatch a line.
Be polite.
Offer credit.
It's only right.
When you've found
a wondrous quote
be sure to thank
the one who wrote.
Carol Varsalona © 2015

I also have a poem that was created from an online phone conference (GHO) with facilitators of this summer's Edcamp Leadership unconference program. From my scribbled notes I was able to create a free verse poem getting at the essence of the conversation while providing enough information from a literary point of view. You can see that poem here that is now circulating in Connected Educator spaces on Twitter.

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It's Poetry Friday so please turn your attention to Mary Lee Hahn's site, A Year of Reading, to peruse the various writer's posts. 




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Please note: I have been receiving bouquets of virtual flowers for Spring's Symphony Gallery. If you have an offering, please send it along. I am sure that I still will be working on the gallery design for another week.

Laughter

Who can deny that laughter is the best medicine in the world?  When you laugh, happiness feels the room and smiles appear. So why do most people not spend the day laughing? 
Betty White is a classic example of a woman who brings humor to the screen. Just look at her warm chuckle in the poster. The picture alone brings a smile to my face. Who can forget the scene from Mary Poppins, I Love to Laugh?  Dick Van Dyke's laughter is infectious. Watch the video and laugh along with Van Dyke and Ed Wynn. 


I found some quotes on laughter that resonated with me. The following one by Tom Nansbury fits nicely with my positivity campaign. "An optimist laughs to forget; a pessimist forgets to laugh."  When life gets the best of you, turn on a comedy, recall the scene from Mary Poppins, or just enjoy either a quiet or boisterous laugh.

The quote, "The earth laughs in flower...," by Ralph Waldo Emerson reminds me that the season of spring is almost over. I smiled a good deal when my garden started blooming this spring. Many of the offerings I am receiving for the Spring's Symphony Gallery are of bold, beautiful flowers that are full of joy. The Emerson quote will find its way into my gallery. 


While living life with positivity as our guide, I can't forget this wonderful quote: "At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities." -Jean Houston



The final quote reminds me that the Creator of life is our comfort.

"Laugher is God's hand on the shoulder of a troubled world." 
-Bettenell Huntznicker

"Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise him for the help of His countenance." -Psalm 42:5  God's smile lightens the world. Smile along with Him each day and bring laughter into your life. 

May this post allow you to smile at the start of your day. Feel the warmth of a good chuckle and let the sunshine in.  

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Each Thursday Holly Mueller invites writers to Spiritual Journey Thursday's community. This week's topic is laughter. Please visit the site to read the different interpretations on the theme.




Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Edcamp Leadership








Inspired to learn in collegial settings,
passionate to channel energies,
educators will connect their
professional lives through the
power of the unconference
on July 13, 2015.

As an unparalled, education phenomenon 
across the states and in Chile, 
lines of leadership will be blurred as 
collaborative conversations 
with committed individuals 
organically grow in relaxed settings.

Knowing full well that
learning is messy
and process is key,
the commitment of Edcamp Leadership
will champion K-12 grassroots efforts
to build meaning through unstructured learning.

Be inspired, reflect, bring forward thinking to new levels 
to further impact teaching and learning
during this Era of Educator and Connected Leaders.
With the hope of building future ready tomorrows
join the band of passionate educators
who commit to moving from silos to connected spaces.

The Edcamp Leadership experience will open doorways
to new horizons for leaders through the lens of learning. 
Carol Varsalona © 2015

This poem organically grew from a GHO conversation with Joe Mazza, Dennis Schug, Don Gately, and Ed Kemnitzer on the topic of Edcamp Leadership NY - Hamptons. I listened carefully to Joe as he passionately described the purpose of Edcamp Leadership. A brief moment of laughter interrupted the conversation as Joe mentioned that I was taken ample notes. This poem and digital image below are the result of my notetaking. 

























Edcamp Leadership Sites:



















NYEDChat will have an active prescence at EdcampLdrNY-Hamptons as we engage in a live feed with interviews and organic conversations. Passionate educators near Long Island should join us for the excitement of an unconference.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Choosing Positivity

We can be messengers of positivity, negativity, or indifference. 

It is our choice how to live life.


In school, a common mantra is I choose kind. My mantra is I choose positivity. Positivity becomes my framework for living a full life with a growth and positive mindset. Belief in wellness of body, mind, spirit is a common understanding of living this life of abundance. It is not material wealth that fills our days with fullness. It is the quest for balance and serenity in all that we do that drives a positive thinking framework and allows for an abundant lifestyle. Living fully in the moment with family, finding fulfillment at work, and having deep friendships become our solid footing as we walk the journey of life. 

With positive thoughts as my guide, I also choose to be part of personal and professional communities that are filled with people seeking truth. I look to build and add to other's energies and positivity vibes. In order to carry through my plans, I listen carefully to the thoughts from family and connected colleagues. My one little word, listen, has served me well so far. 

Last night as I moderated #NYEDChat with my team, there was an explosion of ideas about creating our summer bucket lists. The community of participants became part of a greater message: how to balance personal and professional life in summertime. We conversed as we crafted our bucket lists. We became messengers of hope, change agents spreading the word of positivity as dewdrops along the earth. Finding balance  in life was our common denominator.

After reflecting upon the NYEDChat experience, I feel uplifted this morning. It was an exhilarating experience to be part of an hour talk where committed practitioners exchanged viewpoints on finding balance for their professional and personal development. Through our collaborative conversation, we connected with those from within and beyond New York State; we crossed regions and shared summer plans. We even crossed the seas, bringing in friends from as far away as Dubai and Australia. Through our exchanges, we became provocateurs of thought and connectors of goals and dreams. 

As in any fast-paced Twitter conversation, the  tweets fluttered by in rapid succession. Mid-stream, I noticed that the conversation was trending on Twitter. Our moderating team applauded the participants who became trendees for the night but in reality we became more. We became a united body of connected practitioners of positivity. It is not the trending nor the accolades that cemented relationships last night. It is the sincerity of those seeking to build foundations, to join hands with each other, to find balance in a world of complexity, that builds bridges for us to cross. 

This morning those connected colleagues from last night's NYEDChat move beyond all of the conversation to wave and smile at each other, knowing that we broadened our reach and strengthened our PLN. We, as messengers of positivity remain friends and wish each other well on the journey of life. Knowing full well that in solidarity we can triumph, it is my hope that all choose to build lifestyles at work and home that promote possibilities. In doing so, we will choose positivity as a guide. Ponder what Rumi said: "You are not just the drop in the ocean. You are the mighty ocean in the drop." 

Together, 
we can build tomorrows 
based on the journeys we walked, 
the mistakes we made, 
and the hopes that we have 
for a life of abundance.
CVarsalona 2015

What message will you deliver today? Will you join the ranks of connected educators as messengers of positivity? Will you seek balance in your life? Please peruse the Hall of EduHero Voices to read the #eduinspirations that will inspire your journey. Click here

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Today is Slice of Life Tuesday. Please turn your attention to  the Slice of Life created by Two Writing Teachers where you will many more bloggers' statements of the week.