Friday, October 20, 2017

Autumn Writing

I look out my window each day, wondering what new surprise nature will provide. I slowly discover a rhythm, inspired by the tinges of autumn I see. Writing finds its way into morning. I settle in. From consciousness to paper, words appear as I reveal my inner thoughts. What starts as a glimmer of an idea becomes a messy synthesis of flowing words. With faith and a rewrite, voice will rise on wings that fly. 


While leaf peeping is not a robust activity on Long Island this October, I seek autumnal beauty through the eyes of others. 

My colleague, Sylvia Vardell, captures the beauty of autumn's colors in the following image poem.

Thanks to my friend, Barbara VanIderstine, 
her magnificent photo of upstate New York provided me with inspiration to create a tribute to autumn.


Today is the National Day On Writing. 
I celebrate the power of the written word through poetry.

Why do you write? 
Share your thoughts on social media with the hashtag #WhyIWrite.


Share your digital expressions on the beauty of autumn at my upcoming gallery, #AutumnAblaze. The invitation can be accessed here.

I'm off on a leaf-peeping adventure but before I go, I am checking in with others at Poetry Friday

Today's Poetry Friday roundup is hosted is my writing friend, Leigh Anne Eck who offered the following for Autumn Ablaze. Her poem was inspired by Terje Akke's photo of autumn in Estonia.


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Percolating Idea-Why I Write

Have you heard the phrase learning is messy?
How about changing that to writing is messy?

In three days, NCTE will celebrate the National Day On Writing. Based on a conversation with Laura Robb, I have been writing daily as part of my practice. What is writing? Is it a paper full of scribbled thoughts waiting to find a home? Is it my cluttered mind urging me to release my thoughts?

Despite the clutter that surrounds me, writing is my escape. It is where I dig deep, think on a different level, find a sweet spot to mine, and then excavate to uncover a golden idea. Are there bumps along the way, missteps? Of course! BUT for me, as a lifelong learner, writing is where I discover myself.

When did writing become a passion?
I started writing in a simple, marble notebook as a child. A chapter book emerged based on a favorite novel, The Bobbsey Twins. Little did I know in those childhood days that I was using mentor text as a model for my own writing. As I grew older, scattered thoughts were written in my diaries and scrapbooks. Continued writing led to high school literacy magazine submissions and the Mademoiselle Magazine contest winner. College life brought me closer to a dream: a Master's degree in creative writing. But as journeys go, life had another path. Even without that degree, writing has always been a part of my journey.

When I moved from an unconnected state to the connected world of social media, writing became my platform for change. Now, in my "unretirement years", writing surfaces in the form of blogging, poetry, and the creation of global galleries of artistic expressions.

Where do I write?
I have a sanctuary for writing, a guest room with a Victorian table desk but I seem to gravitate to my office where I am writing now. There are cluttered papers strewn across this desk, scraps of thoughts, start up ideas, and crumpled notes waiting for me to organize. A few piles have turned into little mounds begging for hands to thin them out. Despite the clutter, ideas surface and percolate. Sometimes, these ideas turn into the start of poem or a blog post. Sometimes, they start as wonderings but never brew. Other times, ideas just lay in piles. Creative messiness works for me now but I still want to find the bottom of my desk.

Why do I write?
Ideas need space to breathe, to circulate, and find a landing pad. I write to release them. Understanding that voice matters, I hope to spread the joy of positivity, professional and personal wonder, and the power of written word in a connected world. I write to meet this goal but sometimes, I spend hours trying to make a thought pop, or flow in the right direction. When that doesn't happen, tension builds and a pause button is needed to free my mind so I can go back to a writing state of mind.

My simple hack to release tension when writing does not gel:
I step away from writing when word weaving and flow are not happening. I recall one day deciding that it was time to step away from my writing world so I went to a restorative yoga class. Sitting in the stillness with all lights out allowed me time to pause, declutter my mind in a minimalist space, and be drawn into the moment. Being one with self was an awakening, a self-care step that reduced anxiety and decluttered my mind. With that fresh perspective, the trip back to the writing desk was filled with hope.

Step Back
Reflect When Writing Appears to be a Desert
Engage in Another Creative Activity
Feel Refreshed
Step Forward Into a Writerly Life


Final Thoughts:
Last night, the house was quiet. I sat at my desk writing a draft of this post. My thoughts of childhood brought back memories when journal writing was the start of something, a pathway. I tucked those memories and scraps of ideas into a virtual pile to be sorted in the morning. With a feeling of hope, I fell asleep thinking that writing is a great antidote for the ills of life.

While each time I write I don't anticipate an "aha" moment, I do expect being in the zone, the place where passion meets creation. I recognize that writing is a messy process and the journey long. Knowing there is a sliver of an idea that might be the start of something promising, keeps the flame of writing burning strong for me.

Tonight, I return to my writing because word weaving is my passion and revision a step closer to making the following quote from the Greek philosopher, Epictetus a reality.

If you wish to be a writer, write.

I am offering this post to three writing communities:

Two Writing Teachers for Slice of Life Tuesday
#TeachWrite for their monthly theme, Why I Write
National Day On Writing at the NCTE site

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.