Thursday, March 26, 2015

Unquenchable Desire for Stillness Fulfilled

Majestic Winter, you have quenched my thirst for stillness,
filled my space with peaceful white drapings
and satisfied my unquenchable desire for positivity.
Amidst your frequent flurries, dusty landscapes,
and howling winds, you illuminated the night
with sparkling snow and surprised many daylight hours.
I nod my head in gratitude for your sweep of grandeur
over the land and your sense of  wonderment  from
tempest storms to the gentle cascading of snowflakes.
With joyful exuberance, I dedicate a visual gallery of 
unique artistic expressions, Winter Whisperings,
soon to be unveiled to all who recall your beauty. 

Stay tuned for a the unveiling of the Gallery of Winter Whisperings
during National Poetry Month.

This poem is written to consolidate my thoughts for a triple challenge:

Please visit all three sites to capture the essence of each writing community.

Exercise of Faith

While reading the poem below listen to "Winter Journey."

When the wings of fate
fly into your sight and
throw an obstacle in your way,
reach out to find an anchor
that will guide your day.
Focus on the positive
but don't delay.

Perspective is everything!
Reflect and see
in the great expanse
what life can be.

Adventures await
with twists and turns.
Pause, look, and discover. 
You will need to discern.
The path stretches on
so don't be mislead
when careening slopes miles ahead.

Listen in silence to
the sounds around.
Embrace the stillness
as you journey down.
Brave the unknown
as only you can.

With the wings of faith
and knowledge today
may you find your ultimate way.
But if you dive into snow 
as a misstep of flight.
Remember the goal
is to endure the plight.

Look to the heavens
for you will then see
perched in the mountaintops
the Spirit of the Dove
who guides our path
with understanding and love.

On our journey, we may find obstacles that prevent us from moving forward on the path we desire. It is with an exercise of faith that we can bring light to the darkness that may prevent us from continuing on our presupposed path. 

"For thou art my hope, O Lord God: thou art my trust from my youth."
Psalm 71:5

This poem is written to consolidate my thoughts for three different challenges:
Please visit all three sites to read inspiring slices, posts, and poems written by a variety of writers. 


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Snatching My Quiet Time Away

Today was a day I was not looking forward to. I needed a MRI for a shoulder injury. Having been in what I call the "can" several times and not liking the feeling of being claustrophobic, I approached this appointment with anticipated fear, but I promised myself that I would fight the feeling. I was eager to become a risk taker and snatch my victory from a foe, the dreaded MRI machine. 

Reflecting on fear and looking at risk-taking as a positive mood, I approached my nemesis with an open-mind. I thought isn't that what we ask our students to do. Be a risk taker, develop grit and resilience to conquer fear, and move forward. Today was my day to experiment with that idea. 


For those who have encountered experiences with the MRI machine perhaps you have had an internal conversation like the one I am describing below.
I'm ready, Machine.
Ready to overcome fear.
Into your cavern I go,
first step forward for me.

With eyes closed,
music playing,
I seek support
to quiet my nerves.

Listen to your breath.
My yoga breathing 
starts to work 
until I think of  
the tight space-
the closed in feeling.
Backwards, I go.
Boom, boom, boom.
Machine, your reverberating beat 
snatches my quiet time away.

Panic, yes, on the verge,
but wait, I am supposed 
to be positive.
Machine, don't snatch 
my inner peace.
Don't be eager to
get the best of me.

Action of faith comes to mind.
Step forward into the light.
Eyes open to meet my fears.
It's only a white space.
Music comes back.

Knocking noises reverberate,
grow in strength.
Machine, don't snatch my positivity.
A gentle voice calls.
How are you doing?
Only six more minutes left.

Hope surfaces. 
Grounded in the belief
that I can succeed,
I seize the moment.
The music is soothing.
I listen intently for its
soft sounds drowning
out the pounding noise.

Machine, my nemesis
you once were, but now
my chariot to open
space and fresh air.
Laughingly, I snatch my
victory from the jaws
of your closed-in quarters.
I feel proud that I 
walk away the conqueror.

This narrative poem based on the word snatch fulfills two challenges today. 

Monday, March 23, 2015


I remember growing up and listening to the stories about World War II. My uncles both joined the war effort when they were teens. One became a marine and the other signed up for the US Navy. When Heidi Mordhorst announced that the word of the day for the Forward...March Poetry Challenge was crouch, I envisioned my uncles crouching with other soldiers in trenches or on their ships as they valiantly engaged in their missions. This poem is based on my memories of conversations with my one of my uncles years after he returned from World War II. 

I was just a little girl
when I heard the stories-
naval exploits
in the Philippines.
He was barely a young man,
not old enough to graduate
from high school,
but the call to fight was
a passionate one.
He lied about his age,
told his mother,
and left his home 
to join the Navy.

His mission in the Philippines
was filled with horrors,
too difficult to explain,
but he came home.
A long sword in a case,
trinkets, a photograph,
and stories about the island
came home with him. 

The story I heard was
about soldiers in the navy 
with little food to eat,
crouched over with pains
from disease-racked bodies.
I imagined what kind of
sounds broke the silence
during his time at sea,
away from home.

I wanted to hear more,
but I was just a little girl.
The sword remained 
as an untouchable.
I favored the trinkets 
given to my grandmother,
but they were not mine.
It was the photograph
that remained with me-
a remembrance of 
a young man who wanted
to fight for his country.

He may have crouched
in fear in the Philippines,
but he would not 
tell that story.
I asked for more,
but I was too young 
to hear those stories.
I had to be content
with studying history
to uncover the stories
that were left untold

and collecting 
artifacts to 
build rich stories
of my own. 

CVarsalona (c) 2015 

This story evolved from a childhood recollection. Intrigued by artifacts from far away places and different times, the curious side of my nature lured me to learn more about historical events. With an eagerness to uncover stories, I became a lover of antiques and vintage items. This passion spilled over to teaching and the desire to build knowledge for children that could not be obtained other than through hands-on examination of artifacts and research. With hopes to provide the same love of learning as I grew up with, I collected artifacts from the turn of the 20th century to the 1960s and stored them in antique and vintage chests. These repositories of the past became the stimulus for many students to notice, wonder, examine, and discover another time period and make connections to their lives. From these experiences, imagination and creativity combined to pen stories that linked past to present.

Two Writing Teachers' March Slice of Life Storytelling Challenge is on Day 24 now. Please visit the site to read other slices.  

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Clutches of Hope

From the refugee town, Masese in Uganda beautiful paper beads are crafted into clutches. Women work daily to design and weave the beads into multi-colored bags that are fashionable purses for daytime or evening wear. These bags are not the Red Carpet clutches that you see, but they are the livelihood of the Mothers of Masese who craft beaded jewelry and bags for a global outreach program, H.E.L.P. International. These bags are clutches of hope in a town that has seen much disease, illiteracy, and poverty over the years.

H.E.L.P. International.  was founded to bring hope, education, and sustainable living to mothers and children in Masese, Uganda. Through the selling of beautifully crafted jewelry and bags, a school for 550 children was built and continues to thrive as a center for literacy in the refugee town. The young learners receive education from their Ugandan teachers and headmaster, two meals daily, and fresh water while in school. Professional development for the Ugandan educators is provided several times a year by the founders of the organization who travel to Masese several times a year.

You can read more about the fundraiser efforts that I am involved in through a series of blog posts, the most recent one being Giving Tuesday Offers Hope to Others. 100% of the proceeds from the various fundraisers on Long Island go to the sustainable living and education programs in Masese.

Today is a double offering post. 

I am participating in Heidi Mordhorst's March...Forward Poetry Challenge. Today's word is clutch. The poem created talks of the difference in the types of clutches there are in the fashion industry. 
For fashionistas, a clutch
is a must that cannot hold much.
It is dainty and sweet,
compact and petite-
a place for lipstick 
and mirrors to meet.

Glamorous stars clutch 
their Red Carpet clutch
that doesn't hold much.
They stop and they pose
but it is not their clothes
that tiny cameras seek.
What is wanted is a peek
inside the Clutch Cam
that cradles the clutch
where fans look, not touch.

Advice for the stars
on Red Carpet Day
when in a clutch
get a soft mani touch
so your lovely hands
can showcase the clutch.

Advice for everyday shoppers:
Look for the Mothers of Masese clutch
fashionably crafted by women's touch.
Carol Varsalona (c) 2015. All Rights Reserved
Thank you for allowing me to inform you of a service learning project that reaches into the heart of Africa to bring education to Ugandan children and a sustainable living cottage industry to the mothers of Masese. Creating Hope from Paper was my original post written about this outreach program. 

Not, it is time to turn your attention to Day 23 of the March Slice of Life Story Challenge at Two Writing Teachers to read slices from many different writers.  

Finding Inspiration

In ordinary, day-to-day living, there is a story to unfold. It may be in the quiet moments or in an interaction. It may be in your exercise routine or an event at work. If you look and listen inspiration for a story can be found. As I prepare the Gallery of Winter Whisperings, I am amazed at the range and breadth of perspectives revolving around the topic of winter. I have found inspiration in the writers' poetry, their voice, and the photographs that have taken. 

Below is a sequence of images that I created to illustrate the opportunity to be inspired by nature.

On the first night of spring, I returned home to Long Island from a conference at the state capitol. I knew that snow was approaching but I did not expect the image below. You can read my thoughts about this here.

This image of a small park draped in white caught my eye as I explored the area. I must have crossed paths with this gazebo many times but it never triggered an inspiration. On the first day of spring it did. 

In order to capture its essence, I tried various digital transformations to decide which one would be the most interesting. Unleashing the power of digital software allowed the following transformations of the original scene. Creativity led to further inspiration. 

Three scenes, all beautiful in their portrayals of winter's grasp on its season, are unique as compositions. All three allow me to dig deep to find inspiration to tell my story of the entrance of spring on Long Island. 

SOL #22Since it is DigiLit Sunday at Margaret Simon's site and Day 22 of the March Slice of Life Story Challenge at Two Writing Teachers, I am offering this post to both blogging communities. Lastly, I will post this to the Google+ Community, Digital Maker Playground, created by Cathy Mere and Julie Johnson. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Not Letting Go

Today is the first official day of spring but winter decided not to let go. When I crossed the Throgs Neck Bridge to enter Long Island late yesterday afternoon, I was greeted by a winter wonderland. The image was breathtaking. It was not at all what I expected to find when I returned from a conference at the state capitol. The town next to mine was lit up like a Norman Rockwell poster. Lights flickered and some holiday decorations were still visible on the grand porches of the old Victorians. Was this Mother Nature's wish to extend the season or evidence of her trickster personality?

I was so enthralled by what I saw that I asked my husband to take me on a mini-tour of the town so I could find the most picturesque spots to photograph. Winter whispered a beautiful message of tranquility. I knew that I had to capture its moments for the gallery that I am about to design. 

With positivity and grace, 
        S A L U T E S
the entry of a new season.
Shades of winter white
silhouette the landscape.
Mesmerized by the
falling snow that nestles
softly on the earth and
cradles the homes of old,
I capture the beauty,
a gift of nature to
be treasured as a jewel.

Yesterday, I saw magical moments that I recalled in the sunshine of the wintery-like morning today. With the image so vivid in my mind, I celebrate the first full day of spring with pleasure, even though its green hues were patched with the melting snow. Winter may not be letting go but its roar will bring good cheer to spring.

Now please visit the two writing communities below that celebrate the art of writing. I am pleased to offer this blog to both.