Thursday, August 17, 2017

Creativity Spurts

"Creativity doesn't wait for that perfect moment. It fashions its own perfect moments out of ordinary ones." - Bruce Garrabrandt

An ordinary day,
a backdrop of muted hues,
seagull against the sea
©CVarsalona, 2017, Long Island

Using the beginning of the Grarrabrandt quote, Creativity doesn't wait for that perfect moment, and Sean Mitchell's original photo from Ontario, I digitized the beach scene and created a Golden Shovel poem. 

one ordinary day, creativity
enters but doesn't
stand still and wait.
it moves, longing for
a time that
holds a perfect
light in a sunkissed moment.
©CVarsalona, 2017

 "Creativity involves breaking out of expected patterns in order to look at things in a different way." - Edward de Bono

This summer's Poetry Swap led by Tabatha Yeatts has brought forth a surge of creativity. For Swap #3, Joy Acey, children poet, sent me a lengthy letter on life in Hawaii followed by another mailing with a colorful series of patterns representing sunset over the water. What fun it was to receive two packages. 

Letter writing seems to be a lost art these days. Joy's artwork and handwritten poem are below. I look at this and imagine the beauty of the Hawaiian shore line. What a gift of nature-inspired artwork from a talented colleague!

My reply to Joy:

Joy's artwork inspired me to create a reply. I superimposed a photo of a summer sunset on Long Island onto Joy's original image. Joy's poem as well as Sean's beaching image will be placed in my summer gallery, "Sunkissed Moments".

This week's Poetry Friday Round-up is hosted for the first time by fellow writer, Kay McGriff. You can access Kay's post and poems here.

More quotes on creativity can be found here.
If you catch a sunkissed summer moment, 
please consider offering it for my summer gallery.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Summer Night

The stresses of the day hung
like weights upon my soul. 
I sought nature for peace.
As twilight turned to blackness,
nighttime called to me.
I stepped outside seeking solace.
A cacophony of sounds rose
to the beat of the cicada
chanting in the dark. 

Neighborhood walkers listened.
I sat and wondered
a mosquito took a bite. 
©CVarsalona, 2017

Have you ever been been stressed by life even in the summer? Humor seems to help. Too bad a mosquito decided to ruin nature's serenade to me tonight.

It's Slice of Life Tuesday 
so why not 
to read what other slicers have to save?

Planner Versus Pantser

Are you a planner or a pantser? Are you intrigued by this question posed by Margaret Simon for this week's DigiLit Sunday? I was but must admit that I never heard the term, pantser before. Upon researching the word, I realized that I did know what it meant, a person who flies by the seat of his/her pants. 

Relating this term to education, makes me question if we need to choose between being a planner versus a pantser? Can we be a little of both? When thinking about curriculum for an upcoming lesson or presentation, most educators plan. Some have intricate planbooks and others have a basic sketch or thought for a lesson's framework. Sometimes plans need to be changed due to kidwatching. The teacher who thoughtfully planned a lesson changes course due to the thoughtful read of student expressions. A teachable moment evolves with creativity stepping in. Well-crafted plans are tweaked or put aside to hone in on a concept. Paths take a turn and learning continues because of the teacher's watchful eye. The teacher dons the role of a plantser, planting the seeds for a better lesson than the original.

Teachable moments allow for the magic of learning to occur.

Are you a planner, pantser, or plantser? Read more at DigiLit Sunday.

DigiLit Sunday

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Curve Ball

Has life ever thrown you a curve ball when you least expect it? 

Life is fragile and uncertain and you can't predict when the curve balls come your way. I have seen many a curve ball in my life but this spring into summer has brought a few new ones. Curve ball #1 was thrown out in the late spring just before our first grandchild was to be born. My husband had a horrible case of shingles. The pain was intense and constant, localized around the eyes. The eye specialist and internist wanted him isolated. That news sent shock waves. How would we see our grandchild when she was born? Our faith was tested but we managed to get through that ordeal and travel to see our sweet granddaughter right after she entered the world.

Now, a new crisis has risen. It appeared suddenly and without warning. This time the pain is more excruciating that the shingles virus. It radiated from my husband's lower back and down into his leg that became numb. There have been three days of doctor visits, tests, and no let up in the pain. We are now faced with the reality that my husband may not be able to travel to Cape May for our summer holiday weekend with our grandbaby. 

It is interesting that this week I wrote about life living moments. While this is not a joyful time, it is a real life living moment. Many people experience times of crisis. They are part of life. The hard part is that these moments rob the joy (temporarily). While medical problems are tests of faith, they are also opportunities to work through the struggle. 

I may have sunk into the depths of the muddy water over this matter but I know that this is not where I want to stay. As I searched the internet for positive thoughts, I found this wonderful quote by Maya Angelou that has steered me in the right direction.

Tonight, I decided to celebrate the curve balls in life, rather than feel defeated, using positivity and faith as my lifelines. Reflection and writing seem to be ways for me to rise above the funk. Tomorrow morning starts a new day of hope!

It's time to Celebrate This Week with Ruth Ayres, so I use this post as a guiding piece for a new day. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Life Living Moments

What is summer without mini-trips to explore nature? During summer months, families enjoy special times. A walk in the sunflower fields, a ferry trip across the Potamac River, and toes dipping in the sand were some of the wonderful memories of summer 2017 I experienced with my own family. I have captured those and invite you to join me as I create my summer gallery of artistic expression, titled Sunkissed Summer
“If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the field has power to move you, if the simple things in nature have a message you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive.” 

The above quote from 19th Century Italian actress, Eleanor Duse, provides such a positive statement that I decided to use it as a prompt for my thoughts.

If the sun upon flowers in field fills you with joy,
if an oil painting hanging in a museum has power to move you, 
if noticing nature lets your heart rejoice,
your mind wonder,
and your thoughts lifted,

you shall experience "life living" moments
that positively affect your relationships.

©CV, 2017

If you visit "Summerscapes", you will find other life living moments. 
You can access last summer's global gallery of artistic expressions here.

You can find many more poetry treasures at the Poetry Friday Roundup hosted by our Louisiana host, Margaret Simon, 
at "Reflections on The Teche". Sending birthday wishes to her. 
Note: The term, life living moments, was captured from the following tweet from NCFL, National Center for Families Learning.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


Living in close proximity to New York City has offered remarkable experiences over the years but I have never explored the Museum of Modern Art. For our recent anniversary, I suggested to my husband that we visit the museum site in Long Island City for an afternoon of culture. 

Not knowing anything about the museum other than what I read on the website, we were pleasantly surprised by the variety of the exhibits, the designs, and the mediums used. "MoMA PSI devotes its energy and resources to displaying the most experimental art in the world." The first installation in the courtyard was a life-size art in motion structure, Lumen by Jenny Stabin Studio with cooling mists at various stations. 

Next, we found a wall slumpie that greets museum goers as soon as you enter the restored building. As you can see below it is living art that can be explored and sat upon. We were fascinated by the animated Emissaries collection by Ian Cheng that he calls "live simulations" and spent time in a room that had us wearing special glasses to explore 3 D dimensions as if they were standing in front of us. 

Rollercoaster by Jordan Kasey, life size artwork,  presented protagonists in constant motion.

Maureen Gallace's Clear Day oil painting exhibit that spanned many rooms brought me to a place of stillness. 

Meandering through diverse creations,
Eyes explore a world of art in motion
Where intricate installations
open doors to reflective thinking.
©CVarsalona, 2017

It was an anniversary to remember as the day ended with a delightful dinner at Villa D'Aqua on the Bellmore Canal in Long Island.

Today is Slice of Life Tuesday at Two Writing Teachers.

Sunday, August 6, 2017


Within the dim lit room a peace settled; a celebration brewed. Participants came together as a community. The yoga teacher took her position guiding, modeling moves, and providing support, and so it began - a two hour yoga celebration of joy. 
Flor Villazan at Come Together Yoga Studio

Prior to entering the room, I wondered if I had the stamina to make it through two hours. My muscles ached from the return to yoga after vacationing but I was willing to try. With determination, I engaged in each move in the best way I could. I monitored my speed, listened to the cues my body was giving, and did not hesitate to keep trying. 

For a brief moment, as I moved in and out of poses, my mind interrupted the flow. The word stamina surfaced. It was the prompt word for DigiLit Sunday and I was planning on writing about it. Realizing that it was stamina that I needed, I took in a fresh breath and continued. The energy in the room and the passion of the teacher provided the stimuli to finish strong and celebrate along with the others.

Come Together Yoga Studio, Long Island
Today, I reflect upon the two-hour experience and relate it to teaching. 
  1. What does it take to build a culture of trust and engagement? You need an air of positivity, care for humanity, choices, and belief in the human spirit. In the yoga studio a positive environment was established, community honored, choices provided, and the teacher believed in each participant's ability.
  2. What does it take to sustain a task? For learners, it takes confidence, determination, support, and stamina. 
  3. How do we encourage learners to engage in tasks that may be difficult? Teachers full of passion are the guides on the journey. They enter the learning space with enthusiasm and provide the support needed. As in yoga, teachers instruct, model, release responsibility to the learner, guide, and support. Learners respond to the varied moves in a culture of trust and sharing because they are honored as unique individuals with individual needs. 
  4. Why should we celebrate the difficulties and frustrations of learning? Learning is a celebration of moves that lead to accomplishment. Whether the success is small or great, learners should be applauded for their contributions within the learning space. 
Today, I join Margaret Simon and the DigiLit Sunday writing community on the topic of stamina. My takeaways from the yoga session (where I clearly needed stamina) are: to succeed as a learner, determination, persistence, and practice are needed. Understanding that practice is a step toward progress, not perfection allows each learner to become an active participant in a non-judgmental atmosphere. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Celebrate Summer Moments

I found my true north this summer,
drifting lazily during dog day afternoons 
under the spell of sunkissed dreams.

Life found me this summer,
under a canopy of trees, 
at ocean's shore,
or water's edge.

called my name,
inviting awakening
from summer heat.

Forty-one years of marriage
and grandmotherhood -
new states of being.

I listened.
Joy entered
surf to shore

and through
a baby's smile.

I celebrate summer moments this week.
What are your sunkissed summer moments?

If interested in sharing your creativity, join me at my summer gallery, #SunkissedSummer. The invitation is here.

I share my joy this week with Ruth Ayres and 
the Celebrate This Week writing community.

Friday, August 4, 2017


Let Nature be your teacher!
-William Wordsworth

The #10FoundWords poetry project created by Laura Shovan in February continues. As host for August's event at Facebook, my thoughts turn to the quietness of the woods in Reston, Virginia where I visited my then six-week old granddaughter last week. In the evenings, the family took nature walks acquainting Sierra with the forest animals and sounds. One morning from the house at the edge of the trail, I sat overlooking the greenery and trees that soared into the sky. The serenity of the scene brought thoughts of nature as a teacher.

With this memory in mind, I explored articles to use as the reading for the #10Words poetry project. From the Center for Parenting Education, I offer "Nature and Children-A Natural Fit" with the following 10 words to be used to create an original poem. 
The words are featured in the above digital inspiration I created.

Let Nature Be Your Teacher

In morning light, 
trails at woods' edge
invite life to awaken.
Nature conducts its chorus.  
Inspiration floats in,
 whispering through soaring trees.
Wisps of soft breeze slip
through heavy vegetation.
Birds stir, sweeping the sky.
With hands outstretched,
nature welcomes exploration
indulging children's curiosity
with sights and sounds from
the great outdoors.
Summertime speaks,
"Let nature be your teacher.
See with new eyes.
Breathe in forest's fragrance.
Let nature fill your senses.
Observe morning dew on the grass.
Meander through curving trails,
creatively stationed for observation.
Relax in the coolness of shaded bliss.
Then, return at dusk to listen
to sweet night sounds 
lullaby you to sleep."
You are the future stewards of earth.
Cherish the land.
Listening, I think that's what the earth says.*
©CV, 2017

*William Stafford's final line of his poem, "In Response to a Question"
Posted by Irene Latham

Photo by Devin Hartnett, 2017,
McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area, Maryland

The above two digitals will be shared at #SunkissedSummer on Twitter
and in the upcoming Sunkissed Summer Gallery.

Today is the Poetry Friday Round-Up. 
Please visit our host, Donna Smith, at Mainely Write.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

New Beginnings

Have you ever stood in the middle of a field of sunflowers? I did last weekend while in Virginia visiting my granddaughter. It was a unique experience. There were rows upon rows of glorious yellow blossoms. Onlookers gathered, oohing and aahing over the beauty. Photos clicked constantly. 

I found myself amazed by what I saw. A sunkissed moment came upon me. While gazing across the sunflower fields, I felt the magnitude of nature's hand. Joy, my one word chosen in January, filled the air. A feeling of peace and contentment arose and I realized that I am a journeyer of life, choosing a path to finding joy. Have I succeeded this year in allowing joy to guide my travels?

I turn to my 2017 creed that I created for a mid-year check-in.
With a genuine spirit of wonderlust, I shall notice and wonder more about the ordinary, the commonplace, and the small things in life, seek joy daily, and share thoughts and feelings on positivity. By searching for joy, I hope to send it out into the world as a reminder that a "joyful heart is good medicine..."(Proverbs 17:22)
Beyond the great expanse
of poised sunflowers,
saluting the sun,
opportunity lies.
Joy exists.
©CV, 2017

a new chapter
new beginnings
a journey of faith-filled forevers

This month the Spiritual Journey first Thursday community under the leadership of Irene Latham is hosted by Julieanne Harmatz at To Read To Write To Be. I am heading over there now to read through the various responses. Join me! 

In the meantime, I leave you with a photo of my sunflower grandbaby, Sierra Kathryn, that brings immense joy to my family.