Thursday, October 30, 2014

Importance of Community

All week I have been connecting with colleagues and family, whether it be face-to-face or virtually, so it seemed odd that I missed Holly Mueller’s tweet about Spiritual Journey Thursday. Backtracking my steps, I found the tweet announcing this week's topic to be community. Excitedly, I sat down at the computer composing this post. I felt confident that this week's activity validated my desire to connect with others as a commitment to life, learning, and community. 

In the midst of the normal day-to-day living, we sometimes forget that  community brings us to a conscious level of appreciating life; lifts us up; applauds our successes; redirects our missteps. Where would we be without community? Proverbs 15:22 says, "Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed." This validates the importance of community as a close support group to living a meaningful life.  

So this fall, to be a fully engaged member of my communities, I will:
Notice, wonder, and connect from a stance of positivity
Appreciate what nature and life have to offer
Listen to His Voice as He guides my steps

YouTube notes the song, "I Will Listen" sung by Twila Paris, as "a popular Christian gospel song good for community singing, singing together at gatherings, fellowship, worship, or parties."

You can follow Holly Mueller and the writers of Spiritual Journey Thursday here. 
I value the Spiritual Journey Thursday community who supports, lifts, and brings joy. 
Read how the word community resonates with each member.
I would like to showcase a quote from Holly's blog introducing the topic of community for this line holds truth: "Becaue it is in HIS nature to abide in community, it is also in ours. Isn't that amazing?!"

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Creepy Nighttime Fright - 4th Annual Halloweensie Contest

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays for children. It brings out the best of the creative spirit, evokes a sense of merriment, and allows for sheer enjoyment with others. For years I transformed my children's play house (a miniature version of our house) into a mini-Halloween house for local fun. Then, when I transferred to an elementary building I created a Harvest House atmosphere in my reading room for a week-long, school wide read aloud event. The room was decorated for the season, complete with a spooky walk down to my room, and an amazing collection of seasonal picture books. 

Naturally, when I saw that Susanna Leonard Hill was hosting her 4th Annual Halloweensie Contest I had to enter. The contest information seen below was posted on Susanna's blog, Something for Everyone in the World of Children's Books, for October 27, 2014.


Below is my 100 word Halloween story for children in poetic form. 

Creepy Nighttime Fright

Who creaks along my pumpkin walk
Speaking daring childish talk, 
Creeping closer with bravery
Toward my black, ghost-eye tree?

Who dares to search trails tonight
with sweaty palms held so tight
in hopes of finding ghoulish delight,
witches brew, broomstick fright?

“Not me!” shouts Molly, Sue, Pete.
But Oscar brave craves a treat
so banded together they gingerly creep
among goblins, pumpkins, cat that leaps.

When out of darkness, pops a fright.
Mr. Magee in an eerie light
Standing by the monster tree
with baskets of treats for all to see.

Who-o-o dares to come to me?

Carol Varsalona © All Rights Reserved

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Although there are no illustrations allowed for the contest I thought it would be fun for my readers to see how I would integrate technology into a presentation. I turned to emaze as the tool to make my story more appealing for children who would like to read along. You can view the online version here.

Happy Reading!
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Since it is Slice of Tuesday I am hoping that the Slice of Life readership will appreciate my slice today as they prepare for Halloween and might like to submit an entry for the Halloweensie Contest. If you go here you will find many other writers who share their slice of life each Tuesday.  

I would appreciate feedback from the teachers and the children who read 
"Creepy Nighttime Fright."

Monday, October 27, 2014

DigiLit Sunday: Crafting an Online Collection for the Finding Fall Gallery


October is slowly closing its calendar pages this week but to my amazement fall has not peaked in my locale, the western part of Long Island. So being a seeker of natural beauty, I decided to see if I could capture some of the colors of the season for the Finding Fall Gallery. With my new iPhone 6, clippers, and a bag my family and I set out for a walking tour of a nearby park. The weather was crisp and the sun bright enough making me think about Indian Summer days when I was a child. I was not disappointed with what I found. 

The walking trails were picturesque and there was even a fallen tree that blocked the path as you would find in a movie. Since Vine was not loading up properly, I used the iPhone camera to take camera shots and short videos of the variegated trees that were mostly green with some pops of color. These trees stood together on either side of the trails as an archway for visitors. What you see below is the photo collection  from iPhoto that was created into a online scrapbook. This reminds me of my college and early teaching days shooting photos in the countryside to feature in a professional scrapbook. 

The images below are pages from an online collection
that will become sparks for future reflective writing.





As an extension activity, do it yourself enthusiasts can create a fall display from the findings discovered during the walking tour to grace the home. My bag of fall items led to the production of a outdoor decoration that is totally composed of natural items except for the autumn ribbon.



Teachers can ask the children to bring in a bag of items from their fall findings to spark poetry writing. Parents who would like to encourage writing can ask their children to do the same. 

Teachers who are interested in submitting a poem and original photo for the Finding Fall Gallery can use their work as a mentor text when implementing a seasonal writing lesson. One piece of student work can accompany each teacher's offering for the global gallery. I hope you are your students will engage in finding fall  work with me. 


Unfortunately, I could not get into the flow of creating an online scrapbook that transferred over correctly for this Digilit Sunday post.  What you see below is the first attempt that will need to be refined. Until then, enjoy viewing these photos and travel over to DigiLit Sunday brought to you by Margaret Simon.

DigiLit Sunday

My attempt to create an online scrapbook

Enjoy this bountiful season!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Notice, Reflect, Write: Celebrate Life this Week

Today is a day to celebrate life by noticing, reflecting, and writing.

Each Saturday, Ruth Ayres asks us to CELEBRATE This Week
This week, Ruth Ayres is celebrating purpose. Please go here to read her thoughts. Then check out the offerings from the Celebrate this week writers. Each writer looks at life in a different way making the reading of their pieces an enjoyable weekend experience. 


I engaged in several writing experiences this week that I would like to celebrate. They were:

Besides those meaningful happenings, I traveled to New York City for an annual visit to my oncologist. This visit was the start of my week of celebration because I have now completed eleven years of being in remission from lymphoma. The power of faith, medicine, and the support of family and friends have allowed me to rejoice in life and its experiences so that I can fully share my joy. 

Because of all of these face-to-face and virtual events, conversations have flowed seamlessly and positively affected my daily life. I captured the essence of all those events in the following poem:

Reaping a Harvest of Connective, Collective Talk

May all of my connected colleagues, whether it be from face-to-face or virtual encounters, celebrate life and learning this week. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Savoring the Season

Blustery winds of an autumn day
Twisted, turned the leaves away
To frolic in a rainy dance,
Leaving all transfixed in trance.

While tree limbs rocked to and fro
Small crabapples didn’t know
How to prance amidst the leaves
So, plop they dropped from the trees.


I stooped to capture nature’s gift,
A pair of reddish treats to lift
And place amidst my fall display
For all to savor each October day.



Rainy, dreary autumn days
Can be a blessing in many ways.
So savor the season as it unfolds.
Find fall's richness of red and gold.


Creating fall displays from autumn's bounty is a delightful way to "find fall" this season. Consider taking time to reflect with me as I create the "Finding Fall Gallery" for a global gallery of artistic expressions. Some members of the Poetry Friday community have submitted their original photos and poems already but I am continuing to collect offerings. The "Finding Fall Gallery" will be unveiled at the end of the season. 


If you are interested in finding out more information about the Finding Fall Gallery, you can go here.


Please join the Poetry Friday community hosted by Cathy Mere today to find a variety of offerings by many writers. You can enjoy the readings as you relax this weekend.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Gratitude for Grace

There have been times in everyone's lives that missteps taken lead us down a path that is not well-suited for our balanced living. It is with faith and hope that we rise from the fall to move forward. 

It is for amazing grace that I am grateful. 


Gratitude for Grace

When toils abound
And troubles arise
Grace is present
And ever abides
Lifting us gently. 
Catching our steps.
Pushing us forward
Beyond our missteps.
cvarsalona 2014

This poem is embedded in the Animoto video I created. 
The link is above (click Gratitude for Grace).



May the following renditions of "Amazing Grace" allow you to rest in the presence and power of the Divine who provides for us not only in times of toil but on a daily basis. 

Andrea Boccelli


 Amazing Grace Performed by Il Divo
Il Divo

On a perfect fall day Chris Tomlin sings the song for the movie "Amazing Grace" 


May you rest in peace and grace as you find fall in the bounty of nature. 






This week Holly Mueller has invited us to write about grace for the Spiritual Journey Thursday community. I thank Holly for this topic since this week has been filled with grace for me. Eleven years ago I walked on the edge of darkness when diagnosed with lymphoma but through the power of faith, medicine, the support of family and friends, and the grace that surrounded me I survived. Monday was my annual visit to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City where my oncologist greeted me with a smile and a message of healthy living. In tribute to the power of Divine Grace I created this post. 

Thank you to Holly for this simple reminder.