Saturday, October 22, 2016

Celebrate Abundancy

Did you ever have a week filled with abundancy? 

This week, there were several memorable moments that brought smiles to my family. I captured the events in photos to add to my collection of wonderful times to remember. 

I celebrate belief in possibilities and abundancy that follows.

Photo captured on a family trip to find fall

After I started this writing, I read a post by my writer friend, Violet Nesdoly. Her central thought (below) resonated with me.

You crown the year with Your goodness, and your paths drip with abundance.
Psalm 65:11 

Violet's post validates my belief that abundance is a gift of faith. My week has been blessed with abundance and I write to celebrate the events that led to this feeling.

The week started with an annual trip to Memorial Sloan Kettering for a check-up. For thirteen years, I have traveled there with the belief that the power of faith and medicine heal. On Monday, my doctor said that I looked great and we recalled the first time I met him in 2003 during the New York City Blackout. To celebrate my good news, my son, husband, and I strolled the streets of Little Italy to find the perfect outdoor cafe for a delicious dinner and a glass of wine. As a bonus, I found fall right on the streets of New York. 

I followed this memorable evening with an inspirational day to find fall in Westchester, two hours north of Long Island. The Indian Summer day offered a beautiful backdrop to capture photos and autumn artifacts. 

I was inspired by nature, captured autumn, and celebrated writing this week. There was an abundance of happiness, so tonight I celebrate with Ruth Ayres and the blogging community at Celebrate This Week.

I send out an open invitation to all to join me in finding fall. 
Photos, inspirational quotes, digital inspirations/image poems 
are being collected at #Autumnventure. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Capturing Autumn

It's true that I am inspired by nature. Closer observation of the world has changed my perception for I now see each season for its beauty, not any negative components. In doing so, I embrace the word believe as a powerful way to think positively and find possibilities in life's landscapes. 

Tonight during the #G2Great educational chat, I was excited to read a quote from poet Georgia Heard that resonated with me. 

This led me to start wondering about the gift of writing.

I searched for a poem that would describe the beauty of October as I saw it this week in my travels.

Vintage book dated 1928

Home Thoughts

October in New England,
And I not there to see
The glamour of the goldenrod,
The flame of the maple tree!
October in my own land. . . .
I know what glory fills
The mountains of New Hampshire
And Massachusetts hills.
I know what hues of opal
Rhode Island breezes fan,
And how Connecticut puts on
Colors of Hindustan.
Vermont, in robes of splendor,
Sings with the woods of Maine
Alternate hallelujahs
Of gold and crimson stain.
You can read the rest of the poem that takes on a bit of a different tone here

Below is a photo collage from the day trip I took with my family to find fall. We were fortunate to witness the beauty of an Indian Summer day with autumn colors popping. Each time I am captivated by the beauty of nature, I am inspired to write.

Join me this season as I capture the beauty of the fall for the Autumnventure Gallery.

Today is Poetry Friday, please visit Tricia Stohr-Hunt's site, The Miss Rumphius Effect, for the Poetry Round-Up. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Inspired by Nature

On days when writing slows down, I turn to nature to find inspiration. Henry David Thoreau said, "We can never have enough of nature." I am a firm believer in Thoreau's words for nature is my observation window into life. Through the looking glass of nature, I peak at the world with different eyes. I retreat into its depths. Nature never disappoints me. Despite its unpredictability, I can still find splendor in nature.

Today, in hope of finding fall, my family and I took a spontaneous trip to upstate New York. While the leaves have not yet peaked in the Hudson River region, I witnessed the beauty of the season. I was awed by the change of color that I have not seen yet on Long Island. I was inspired to take photos and sear all the memories of this fall day in my mind's eye.

As the sun's rays glistened onto lakes, streams, and the mighty Hudson River, I noticed small objects that complimented the scene: a stray log floating, a solitary, tiny red leaf on a trail, and leaves cascading in mid-air. I approached a man-made dam completed in 1906 and was taken aback by the beauty of rushing water flowing with a forceful, rhythmic motion. Prior to visiting this area, I heard that at the time of its completion, Croton Gorge was the largest dam in the world and second largest man-made structure next to the pyramids of Egypt. Naturally, I wanted to see for myself this structure that has withheld the forces of time. My family and I found the gorge to be a serene place for rest and reflection. 

What did I learn this fall day? Writing promotes self-discovery and peaceful scenes like I experienced are reminders that daily living needs not be rushed. Nature promotes the slowing down of life so that it can be savored. I returned home contemplating the beauty of an autumn day and the fun of a spontaneous Autumnventure. I turn to writing in the evening hours to savor a day well spent. 

I write tonight to preserve the wonder of an autumn day and offer this as my slice for Two Writing Teachers' Slice of Life Tuesday.  

October 20, 2016 is National Day On Writing sponsored by NCTE.
Let's Celebrating Writing Every Day! 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Why I Write

There is much to wonder about in this world for space is infinite and possibilities unlimited. In the evening hours, when the world nods its sleepy head and quiet evokes solace, I close my eyes to wonder a little bit longer. Why do I write?

My mind wanders down corridors of time, reflecting, wondering when the passion for writing began. Words float on by. I imagine this parade of thought to be like the autumnal dance of leaves cascading in the breeze. I wait patiently for words to crystallize. They organically flow in the quiet. Stillness surrounds them. Only the night whispers. I pause to listen; close my eyes to see into the darkness. Fingers sweep the keyboard. Why do I write? I scroll back into my writing and find thoughts from the past that provide responses to this question.

Writing is an art form that moves your consciousness to paper. 

It is the process by which you reveal your inner self while splashing your thoughts across the page. It starts as a glimmer of an idea, a seed that sprouts in the quiet corners of your mind, and takes form when the muse beckons you. Writing can be an arrangement of free thoughts or an on demand task. It can be a messy synthesis of ideas or an elegant rewrite. With faith, the writing process allows thoughts to germinate, grow, and give voice to a writing life.

I zoom in on why I write at this given time.

I write to:

  • honor the voice within that has passed through time
  • polish the apple while capturing small moments
  • observe nature in all its glory
  • remember, rephrase, reflect, and revise
  • elaborate the known and develop the unknown
  • honor those who have written before me
  • encourage those whose young voices are maturing
  • find the wonder in words and explore their territory
  • connect with others who are risk-takers of thought

There is magic in writing. I write because it is my lifeblood flowing as a stream of consciousness. I move from pen and paper to keyboard, notebook to electronic portfolio to find the just right words to define me or extend the topic at hand. Sometimes, my writing is filled with emotions that are locked, passions that are waiting to explode, and thoughts that are reluctant to be released. Since I was a small child, I wrote to creatively express myself. I continue that process realizing that there is still much to uncover, craft moves to explore, and connections to be made. Writing is a continuous act of moving forward, noticing more, digging deeper, and discovering life's unlimited opportunities. 

This week I honor the act of writing along with the National Council of Teachers of English, the DigiLit Sunday community, and educators in the United States. I will add my voice to others on the National Day on Writing, October 20th, an event I have championed for over a decade because Writing Matters and Voice is Strong. On October 20th, NCTE will "celebrate the importance, joy, and evolution of writing" with a Tweetup using the hashtag, #WhyIWrite. Will you join the movement to promote writing as an art form?

The world is busy, but the mind tenacious.
The writing life is all about faith in a fragment.
Kim Stafford

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Celebrate the Art of Baking

It's time to take out the mixing bowls, secret ingredients, and chocolate to honor a four-generation tradition. I'm celebrating the art of baking that has provided many joyful hours of bonding with family members. This week I shared my love of baking with my son who pleasantly surprised me when he agreed to bake with me on his day off. 

Baking time is a family tradition that was introduced to me when I was a little girl. My grandmother spent hours baking and cooking every week. It was her gift to her family so when visiting each summer, I was her constant companion. Nonnie amazed me with the way she kneaded her dough on a huge wooden board dusted with flour. The kitchen filled with sweet smells as batches of cookies were placed in the oven. Then, there were the tasting tests that I mastered with ease. I watched; I learned; I tried to memorize each move. Nothing was written down or placed in a recipe box because Nonnie could not read or write in English. Her brilliance as a baker was well-known in her community and even honored at one time. Her honey dolls were unique, large, flat doll-like formations with little silver beads for decorations. They were carefully stored in a huge, dark closet until unwrapped for consumption. There were many other one of a kind delicious iced and plain cookies made with mincemeat, anise, and vanilla. Since there were no photographs of these creations, I have committed them to memory and never have forgotten the large trays of Italian cookies that my Nonnie made for my wedding. 

I also watched with delight my mother who honored the family tradition and became an excellent baker. She was known for her exceptional celebration cakes that were artfully decorated. All requests were honored. Each birthday or special occasion marked a newly created custom-baked cake from Grandma Kay's kitchen. Beside the family, neighborhood children and adults enjoyed my mother's cakes and cookies. 

Both my grandmother and mother were artistic bakers and should have opened a bakery with the talent they had. For years, I watched both create edible delicacies. Then, there came a day when my mother decided it was more peaceful to bake alone after all were asleep. She said it was her quiet time. I recall the scurry of little feet running to the baking site the morning after baking. There were lots of oohs and aahs over the beautifully decorated cake that could range from a a little princess fantasy to a sports-related theme. Cookies were snatched as the tasting tests began. 

Growing up among creative bakers gave me inspiration to share my love of baking not only with my family but with friends. This week when my son said yes to baking, I smiled and jumped right into the process with him at my side. 

For me, baking is fun with a sidekick and that's where my son comes in. He has become an excellent baking assistant who not only helps out with the baking when the timing is right but also cleans up my giant messes. Life is good when fresh baked goods appear in my kitchen. I honor this family tradition and look forward to the next bite.

I join Ruth Ayres and the Celebrate This Week community to find the positives of life to celebrate each week. Please travel over to Ruth Ayres Writes to read Ruth's inspirational post.

Post-Note: I just heard good news from my sister. My uncle stored my grandmother's large wooden baking boards. They are to be sanded and finished with linseed oil to remember the fine art of baking that has been our time-honored family tradition.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Invitation to Autumnventure Gallery

While on a quest to find fall on Long Island, I stumbled upon an interesting news article, "Change Agents-Cover Story," in the New York Post on October 12, 2016. The headline read, "Daring new looks for a season that's layered in effortless luxury." As I pondered the thought and read through the article, I saw more than clothing trends as the main topic. I focused on the season of autumn as the dazzling component.

A found poem emerged from the short piece and a follow-up creative project for my newest gallery, Autumnventure. Enjoy my DIY fun and the open invitation to create digital inspirations alongside me for the gallery. 

From Article to Found Poem
to Digital Inspiration
Autumn Cover Story
to Creative DIY Decorating Project

#PoetryLove is Present!

Knowing full well that Autumn is a change agent that transitions us to a new season of adventures, I invite you to create a digital offering (from the options below) that proclaims the majesty of autumn for my newest gallery, Autumnventure. Embrace the wonderlust spirit and find fall with me. Capture the fall season in your locale or on a minication and color the world with autumn joy! 

By November 19, 2016, I will collect all offerings of photographs, original artwork, inspirational quotes, short videos, audio readings of original short poems, and music titles that showcase Autumn as a change agent. All submissions must have your name and locale at the bottom and sent in the right format. (See below.)

What Do You Need to Do?
  • Be creative. Capture your autumn adventure using an option of your choice. (Free images are available from,, or 
  • If you create an imagepoem/digitpoetry, write a poem or poetic expression. Then, superimpose your words on the image using a photo editing tool, like PicMonkey or Canva.
  • Sign the digital composition you offer with your name and location.
  • Post your digital expression in jpeg form (450 pixels is the best size) using the following hashtags on Twitter: #Autumnventure and @cvarsalona.
  • Send your jpeg offering to @cvarsalona at gmail with the subject heading, Autumnventure

Student Voice (#stuvoice) for Autumnventure Gallery-please encourage your students to engage in this creative writing/artistic project to showcase their talents and amplify their voices.

Previous Galleries: 

If you have not perused the  latest global gallery, Summerscapes, you can access it here. At the bottom of the gallery you will find links to the others. Last year's fall gallery, Autumn's Palette, can be accessed here.

Enjoy the experience of finding fall and sharing it with a global audience. Thank you for considering this creative challenge.

Now please join the charming children's poet, Irene Latham, at Live Your Poem for the Scarecrow Wish Poetry Friday Roundup here. Irene has created an original poem for the occasion.

Autumn Mosaic

#PositiveThinkingThursday brings positivity to social media each week. This week, fall is trying on its first colors of the season. While it is usually dressed so stylishly in vivid patterned-hues at this time of year, Autumn is not ready to make its debut on Long Island but it has in other locations.

To prepare for Fall's grand entrance by the shore, I have been writing, decorating, taking nature walks, and baking autumn delights. DIY Autumn is coming alive at my house with glue gun and mixing bowls in hand. 

I invite all to join me in creating a glorious autumn mosaic of colors from around the globe to grace my next gallery, Autumnventure.

You can refer to my first post on this idea here. I'm ready to wander, wonder, and enjoy the fall season with a positive spirit? Are you? Consider taking an autumnventure with me as I embrace the wonderlust spirit and find fall.

The invitation to my Autumnventure Gallery can be accessed here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Finding Fall Quest

Now that the season has changed, I have been contemplating a new direction that will lead me to wonder more while I wander through fall? But first, I am seeking fall in his glory, ablaze with color, so I can capture the season. All I found so far are yellow-tinged leaves that drifted down and carpeted my sidewalks after two days of storms. 

I remember past autumns and am looking forward to similar scenes from friends around the globe. The following is from 
Autumn's Palette Gallery that you can view here.

Has fall dropped its calling card with fire-red and umber colors in your community? Are the squirrels scampering around looking for acorns to store? If so, perhaps you will join me on a finding fall quest that brings a sense of wonder that nature offers each day.

Now that the first leaves have touched the ground in my neighborhood, I am inspired by feelings of wonderlust, the urge to move from my daily routines in search of new directions and adventures inspired by the colors of nature. My thoughts drift from home to winding hiking trails, peaked mountains, abundant apple orchards, colorful pumpkin patches, and sumptuous vineyards where autumn offers a variety of memory-making day or short stay trips.

I'm ready to wander, wonder, and enjoy the fall season? 
Are you? 

Consider taking an autumnventure with me as I embrace the wonderlust spirit and find fall. I'm ready to find the majesty of autumn as it continues to boldly make its appearance. I hope you join me in my finding fall quest.

I openly invite my Slice of Life friends to capture fall in their locale or on the minications and join me in coloring the world with autumn's joy. 

Please visit Two Writing Teachers here for Slice of Life Tuesday.

Some slicers have graciously offered their digital inspirations to previous galleries I have created. You may recognize some names among the writers who graced Summerscapes. I applaud their efforts.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Mentor Texts To Guide Writing

"With you (the teacher) as a guide, and literature as the landscape, you can open young writers eyes to the full range of possibilities before them." 

Ralph Fletcher and Joanne Portalupi, Writing Workshop- The Essential Guide

Thinking about the topic of mentors that Margaret Simon asked DigiLit Sunday to write on recalls the #TMchat that Connie Hamilton invited me to moderate. My topic was Mentor TextsThe questions that I posed to the educators who joined in on Twitter are below. They are identified with the letter Q and the number of the question following. My answers that I tweeted out during the chat are identified as A with the number of the question following.

Q1 What is a mentor text and how do you select one?

A1 Mentor text is written anchor text to use as a model for studying author's craft. It's the mirror to reflect on craft while conveying meaning.
A1B: Select a mentor text that provides Ss with an appropriate lens to craft their own piece. Voice matters. #stuvoice
Q2 How does the use of mentor text affect your teaching of reading and writing?

A2: Mentor texts provide the lens for students to model craft moves-students become the junior craftsmen honing their own writing.

Q3 How does a mentor text help students learn to read like a writer?

A3 Read like a writer to learn about writing craft: choices made by authors can be borrowed by students to improve their writing.

Q4 As teachers of writing, how does careful attention to craft work, take students deeper into text?

A4 Attention to author's craft allows students to analyze text & its impact on the message conveyed. Read with "pencil in hand" for a deeper look.
Q5 Why is it important to become a guide to effective writing, rather than a sage on the stage?

A5: Sages direct. Guides facilitate & support student writing through conferencing & the gradual release of responsibility model.
Q6 Share a mentor text you like and how you use it to help students become writers.

I used "Fog" by C. Sandburg with young writers: read aloud, sketch it out, shared writing to student creation. My piece is at
Q7 List a title of a professional book/trade book, website, or educational blogger to create a resource guide on mentor text. 

Resources on Mentor Text that I collected can be found at

Questions to Consider When Selecting a Mentor Text
1. Does the selected text provide examples of the kind of writing you want from your students?

2. Is the mentor text you are using worthy of multiple reads?

3. Can the mentor text be revisited multiple times for different purposes?

4. Do you have a variety of genres in your collection for student use and do they address diversity? 

5. Is the mentor text one that students can learn from and transfer to their own writing?

Using mentor texts is an engaging way to entice your students to write like real authors. Have students reflect on the craft moves they see and emulate them in their own writing. Picture books as mentor texts can be your faithful companions on the journey to helping your students become lifelong writers.

You access Margaret Simon's site here to read what my #DigiLitSunday colleagues are writing on the topic of Mentors.

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

October Greetings

Dear Mother Nature,

October snuck up me this year. Being caught up in designing my Summerscapes Gallery and still enjoying the feel of summer seemed a priority until I realized that all of a sudden Columbus Day Weekend was here. Perhaps it seems odd to you that I would still be celebrating the summer season while other parts of the northeast are greeting autumn. Truth has it that I was having a difficult time saying goodby to Long Island's beautiful summer season. Because the weather has been so temperate lately, I forgot the heated days of July and August, the mosquitos that were pesky, and the lawn turning a brownish shade with the lack of rain. But those details paled in comparison to the walks on the beach listening to the waves roar. With each entry I added to the Summerscapes Gallery I seemed to linger in summer a little bit more. Can you begrudge me this small delight? 

Recently, I caught glimpses of your fall fashion sense with a few different colored leaves making their appearance. Now with my summer gallery unveiled, I decided it was time to coax you, Mother Nature, into waving your magical wand and transforming my neighborhood into a tapestry of color. Afterall, October is here now and I want to celebrate the beginning signs of autumn on Long Island. Since you have not debuted your autumnal dance of leaves I am shifting my focus to creating a fall-like ambiance both inside and outside my home. 

While designing a new seasonal look, I try to imagine how you will grace the earth with color this fall. After several hours spent transforming my home, both indoors and outdoors, into a setting fit to announce your debut, fashionista that you are, I am pleased.

Nature's runway show begins-
October dresses in gold hues,
the grand diva that she is.

Fashionistas line leafed paths
Parading in regal style
as Autumn takes center stage.

Leafed in fall's majestic train,
Autumn whispers to the wind.
Color guards stand in salute.
©CVarsalona, 2016

Mother Nature, I hope you will take the time to create a vivid setting, as you have in the past, and showcase autumn ablaze in glory. Until we meet again, I thank you for listening to my October greetings and inspiring me to create. 

Your Admirer

I had fun celebrating the transition into fall this week after unveiling my summer gallery, Summerscapes that you can access hereTo honor all the voices that contributed to the gallery, I ask that you take a small portion of your time to peruse it. Besides that please visit Ruth Ayres's site here to read how other bloggers are celebrating their week.