Friday, December 9, 2016

Celebrating Poetry Friday

Autumn is coming to a close here on Long Island with dipping temperatures and the meteorologists are bracing themselves for what is to come. Winter storms have already tussled with the landscape in other parts of the United States but I applaud Autumn for the marvelous colors that it bestowed on us this season. 

Final Autumn

Related Poem Content Details

I am currently working on the design of my Autumnventure Gallery 
so any last minute offerings will be accepted this weekend. 

Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is at Jone MacCulloch's blog site, Check It Out where Jone is announcing her New Year Poetry Post Card Exchange. 

I continue to write alongside Mary Lee Hahn and her community of writers at #haikuforhealingthe site she created for voices to be raised this December. 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Vessel of Peace

When writing is needed to soothe the soul, it is time to turn to #haikuforhealing created by Mary Lee Hahn. December is a hectic month and there seems little down time so today it was my time to slow down. The yoga studio was just what was needed. Within the dim lit space, serenity surrounded me.

Then, I followed the path of peaceful vibes to the cathedral. During the sermon, I listened, received, and now will share what evolved from the sermon on this national holyday. 

vessel of peace flow
saturate our longing hearts
nation bend your knee
 ©CV, 2016

In honor of Spiritual Journey Thursday created by Holly Mueller, I write this post and send it out to the community. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Life's Fragile Moment

While it has been a few weeks since #NCTE16, I continue to reflect on the learning that occurred each day. There were many joyous events from the rekindling of friendships to new opportunities to notice and wonder. There were also a few solitary moments when I just needed to stop to savor the beauty of life. The reflecting pool at the Georgia World Congress Center allowed me a few moments of tranquililty on my way to my roundtable team's presentation, Authentic Voice in a Digital World: Using Technological in Our Literate Lives.

This #imagepoem is offered to Mary Lee Hahn for her #haikuforhealing challenge.
Stepping back into NCTE 16's world of learning has brought me to reflect on the slowing down of time. While it is normal to run from one event to another while at a large conference, in our daily routine it is important to slow down to savor life.

As the day comes to a close, quiet time brings writing time and so I compose my thoughts:

Reflective teachers are mindful of the fragility of life.
Each day they don the garb of zen masters
who listen, learn, and grow in wisdom.
True to self, as awakeners with purpose and patience,
they guide their students onto paths of
wonder, exploration, and discovery.
As facilitators, they provide authentic
opportunities where risk-taking is
encouraged and all voices honored.

Life calls each one of us to find the right mix of professional and personal life to enjoy. Being present in the moment is a gift we can give ourselves.
If you miss the present moment, you miss your appointment with life. That is very serious!" ~Thich Nhat Hanh
Today is Slice of Life Tuesday so please visit Two Writing Teachers here if you would like to read what other slicers are slicing about.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Winds of Change

While the temperature outside drops, a chill inside calls for reflection. 

Is the above #imagepoem what I want to say 
is the following a better approach?

Is nature a predictor of what is to come?

I, along with other Poetry Friday community writers, continue to join Mary Lee Hahn this month during her #haikuforhealing initiative. May #poetrylove continue to thrive.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Gratitude for #Kinderpoets

Gratitude Gram created at
Gratitude is a small package of warmth reaching open hearts and minds. I am sending my thanks to a Massachusetts teacher and her kinders who accepted my invitation to write alongside me for my upcoming Autumnventure Gallery. 

Christie Wyman and her #WymanWonders, a Kindergarten class of interested young poets, and I struck up an interesting relationship via Twitter this year. It resulted in several tweets, emails, a shared Google Doc and a pathway to writing using the season of autumn as a backdrop for the integration of poetry, technology, and art. 

Flip flopping between a nondigital platform and a digital one, Christie's kinders have not only embraced the spirit of the #poetrylove hashtag but went beyond talking about fall to creating list poems with illustrations. Their voices rose in a collective chorus to become a global conduit for spreading the joy of appreciating poetry year round. 

You can see the Wyman's Wonders class poem and the above video featuring individual kinder poems and Christie's poem, Season for the Senses, at my Autumnventure Gallery that will be unveiled soon.

What are the ingredients for a class' poetic journey into digital writing?

A passionate teacher 
a group of engaged learners 
interest and desire to notice & wonder
collaborative talk as a pre-writing stage
a creative environment to spark writing from talk
the writing process leading to poetic writing
digital tools to support, inspire, and create
reflection, feedback, and celebration

My gratitude is extended to Christie Wyman and Wyman's Wonder who eagerly engaged in sharing their voices for a global share-out of #poetrylove.

Please visit #DigilitSunday at Margaret Simon's blog site here to read what the community is writing on Margaret's topic of gratitude. 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Blessings of Nature

While the world passes by with hustle and bustle speed, the soul needs times to rest and be restored. Writing is a remedy to soothe the soul. 

This December, Mary Lee Hahn has provided space for writers to write alongside her using the hashtag, #haikuforhealing.


As I stepped outside yesterday, I found patches of leaves lining my walkway. Amidst the clutter of autumn decorations boxed for their attic return and Christmas decorations parading down the stairs, the outside leaves marked the passing of one season to the next. While I was not saddened by that, I did feel overwhelmed with the clutter that filled the front area of my home. A fluttering started inside and I knew it was time to step back and reflect.

Celebrating the seasons is a joyful act so I must remember while preparing for transitions, writing helps to quiet the busyness around me so that the blessings of nature can fill the soul.

I Celebrate This Week with Ruth Ayres and her blogging community today.
Enjoy the first weekend of December.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Haiku for Healing #1

December 1st snuck up on me this year amidst an engaging but overpacked November. A couple of weeks ago when Mary Lee Hahn called all poets and bloggers to write alongside her in December, I felt it was a creative challenge for a distant day. Now that day is here and I although I may not be ready, I am intrigued by Mary Lee's hashtag, #haikuforhealing. 
In this hectic, mixed-up, emotional roller coaster called life these days, finding a place of solace is needed. This week, my refuge, the beach, drew me back to its shore despite the chill of late autumn. 
From that autumn beach experience, I decided to write a poem based on the last line of Margaret Simon's haiku of the challenge. She graciously offered all to steal her ending to make a new haiku.
My response evolved from a photo captured at sunset as I strolled the Long Beach Boardwalk with my family. There was such a sense of serenity during that walk that I was moved to shoot several photos. After using a couple of apps to digitize the photos, I reviewed them and recalled the feelings I had during the walk. Then, I attempted to compose a haiku which demands a concise pattern of words to bring an emotion forth. While the shortness of the form seems to be approachable and full of ease, the depth of thinking demands intentionality. Haiku writing is an art that I am learning so I humbly submit mine to Mary Lee, Margaret, and the Poetry Friday community.
Please visit my poet friend, Bridget Magee's blog to read Bridget's thoughts on community, in particular the warm and supportive Poetry Friday community. You can access her post at wee words for wee little ones, here. Also, visit Mary Lee Hahn's site here to read her December 1st haiku. 
I am excited to join in Mary Lee's and Margaret's challenge today because it provides me with the opportunity to go beyond my comfort zone, hone in on the craft of haiku writing, and learn alongside those who have been successful with this poetic form. Clearly, I have miles to go before I sleep.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Place of Solace

It is at day's end that sunset magically covers earth like a blanket. Yesterday, after a busy November filled with conferences, professional development, and the Thanksgiving holiday, I went to the beach for restoration of mind and spirit. Like so many summer days past, I walked the boardwalk but this time dressed for late autumn. The chilling winds were refreshing. I felt blessed to be alone in thoughts with my family walking alongside me. 

As I sauntered down the Long Beach Boardwalk, I scanned the autumn scene. To the left I watched the changing sky exposing a hint of pink amidst the blue. The sea glistened as it calmly moved to and fro under the pastel hues. The boardwalk appeared to be expansive without the summer crowds. My family and I walked in peace, taking in life. 
Sunset Thoughts
Nature fills the boardwalk with peace in late autumn.
I come to the sea, a place of refuge and solace
to reflect at day's end and quietly remember
years of memories hidden in the sand.
Life is restored as blessings rush
with the waves to shore.
©CVarsalona, 2016

My writing colleague, Michelle H. Barnes of Today's Little Ditty has a wonderful creative challenge this month. She asked Ann Rider, executive editor at Houghton Mifflin to design a ditty challenge for November: write a poem, in any style, about a place of refuge and solace that is important to the writer. The beach is my go to place for finding peace and so I write after capturing the photo below.

I am linking this post and the above image poem to Michelle Barnes' November padlet as part of her creative challenge.

I am also offering this slice of life to Two Writing Teachers for today is Slice of Life Tuesday

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Feasting at the Table of Learning

The weekend before Thanksgiving 7000 educators traveled to Atlanta not to break bread but to be nourished at the table of learning. I was one of them. What awaited for us was a neon-colored surprise. NCTE celebrated a rebranding of its logo and a technicolor explosion of voices advocating for enhanced learning experiences.

Arrival to Atlanta was smooth and check-in not a problem until my colleague, Michele Haiken, and I entered our room to be faced with a strong odor, a not so appealing mix of deodorizer pumping in from the vent. We called the front desk and had the hotel come up with options while we went back to the convention center for the Secondary Get Together with my friend, Kwame Alexander. Between the power of Kwame's presence, the news of his first YA book to be released, and the Mac and Cheese fest, I almost forgot the hotel incident. 

Staying positive, we returned to the hotel and our patience was rewarded with a new room that overlooked the CNN Center.

When I closely notice what is around me, learning never ceases to amaze me. From the arrival in Atlanta to registration at the Georgia Congress Convention Center, to a magnificent sunset at the end of the day, my noticings led to wonder, new learnings, and the realization that the table of learning is a marvelous space for all in the field of literacy to be nourished. 

While in Atlanta, I met many slicers I write alongside weekly. Please visit Two Writing Teachers where Slice of Life Tuesday has been populated with many savory posts. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Celebrating a Learning Life

Dear Colleagues,

For several weeks I have been eagerly awaiting the 2016 National Council of Teachers of English Convention. Now today, the day after my return from Atlanta, I reflect upon the memories of NCTE 16.

Upon arrival, I sensed a celebratory spirit floating through the Georgia World Congress Center. Excited crowds of educators gathered for a visual feast of a bold rebranding, literary luminaries, book-filled halls, student musical ensembles, and lots of southern charm. Smiles were plentiful as people greeted each other in hallways or waved on the many ascending or descending escalators. Within the fast-paced motion of comings and goings, seven thousand educators moved joyously from one experience to another. 

In between hurried steps, I often paused for short conversations that extended learning from inside conference rooms to outer halls. There were also meet-ups originating from virtual relationships developed on Twitter. inspired by the novel NCTE mantra, "I'm a page turner!", many voices rose in a collective chorus-advocating for page-turning opportunities to build or enhance student-centered classrooms of wonder and joyful learning. NCTE 16 was joyous learning event with committed colleagues who shared a similar vision of a better educational future for all students. From the spectacular opening General Assembly to the last session I attended, magic happened at NCTE 16. 

Today, a bit tired from the energized convention pace, I return to life as I know it but remember that each day opens as a new page.

I join Ruth Ayres, who was at the convention with me, in celebrating this week at her blog,  Ruth Ayres Writes-Discover, Play, Build.

Ruth Ayres presented at NCTE16
"Engage Learners with Compassion and Empathy"