Tuesday, August 30, 2016

When Ideas Get Stuck

In the messiness of the creation process, persistence allows for ideas to percolate. The end product is as tasty as a fresh brewed cup of coffee, so I savor creation moments. Did you ever notice that sometimes ideas percolate without coming to brew or they don’t even emerge? In the stuck stage, we need to find ways to allow ideas to gel and flow once again.

What Gets Ideas Stuck?

Mind clutter prevents us from letting ideas flow.
  • There may be too many thoughts spinning around in our heads each day.
  • To do tasks may be mounting.
What Hacks Can We Use to Relieve Mind Clutter?
  • Finding your pause button: In feeling the tension between what is and what can be, stopping to be still for a few moments helps.
  • Breathing in: Ideas need space to breathe, to circulate, and find a landing pad but first the mind needs to be free. Find a focal point. Breathe. Deep breathing settles the mind.
  • Yoga: In yoga class, we are asked to push aside all ideas that enter our space and steer us away from focusing. We are asked to become one with the space around us.
  • Walks: A walk in the neighborhood or at the beach may be just the right approach to lure you into a peaceful state.
Scattered thoughts can clutter our minds so a few moments spent in quiet contemplation, listening to the sound of our breath, are welcoming. At these times, space opens and releases closed quarters of thought. New clarity may be achieved and a renewed spirit regenerated.

Tips:
  • Self-help hacks come in handy only if we really practice them. Sitting in stillness in a minimalist space or walking at the beach allows the pause button to declutter my mind and draw me into the moment. 
  • Being one with self is an awakening.
  • Releasing "stuck" thoughts restores creativity.

I'm off to pause, breathe, release my thoughts, and move on.
Are you ready to join me?


It's Slice of Life Tuesday at Two Writing Teachers.
You may enjoy reading other colleagues' slices of life here.


REMINDER: This week, I am collecting artistic expressions: digital inspirations, image poems, inspirational quotes, music, and artwork all inspired by nature for my newest gallery, Summerscapes. Find your summerscape moment and create! You can even see some of the offerings at the Twitter hashtag, #Summerscapes.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Digital Voice



Voice is our unique identity in a connected world.


It moves from a non-digital stance to a digital one via electronic devices and new tools to capture thoughts and send them out into the universe. 


Voice can be inspired to rise from a single photo


or a combination of images.


It can be a charge to inspire.


(This digital was created by modifying my first digital above 
to design a new visual.)

Voice can also be a mantra that impact lives


or an invitation to create and be expressive.


Here is a blank, digitized image to add your own inspiration
and let it fly into the universe.


Have fun creating!

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday postsToday is DigiLit Sunday and it is packed with a double surprise. 

Not only is Margaret Simon inviting us to add our posts to her link here but she is hosting a chat with Katherine Bomer tonight. 

Celebrating Photo Moments

"Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever...It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything." ~Aaron Siskind, American photographer 
I have always been fascinated by photography as an artistic expression. My years behind the lens, helped me develop an eye for composition as I captured life in the moment. As I look over my collection of still photos now and then, I am reminded of the many celebrations of life I have engaged in but I do have one regret. I have being lax in organizing the accumulated family photos that are sitting in worn albums and loose bunches. 

Today, collecting and curating photos is so much easier than before. Digital portfolios are easily set up in iPhoto and Google Photos automatically collects my photographs taken with my iPhone. I celebrate photography as an art that allows me to look into my past while realizing future dreams.  

Tonight, I review a digital portfolio, filled with summerscape photo moments. I honor the memories and continue to celebrate summer as a season of possibilities.

I recall:
  • A rainy day in New York City celebrating a milestone anniversary

  • Sizzling hot beach days in Long Island and the Jersey shore
 

  • Blissful summer evenings with family and friends watching the boats come in while eating on the Nautical Mile


I celebrate photo moments that "reveal how rich reality truly is when you take an image and freeze a moment." 

(The quote is adapted from an anonymouse write seen at http://petapixel.com/2014/05/29/70-inspirational-quotes-photographers.)

Each weekend, I celebrate a week of positivity with Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu writers who capture life and share photo moments. You can access the site and read the bloggers thoughts here.


Friday, August 26, 2016

Write With Heart

Within spaces of communication,
our words become an experience,
a single voice living inside
with a chance to leap 
from the heart.
©Carol Varsalona, 2016 

Each 2016 Poem Swap that I received this summer had its own significant focus and voice flowing through its lines. They were genuine gifts of authentic voice with words written from the heart. 


Keri Collins Lewis' package arrived in July with a note on the back of the envelope that said, "Do not open until Aug. 22 (if you are a rule follower)-This is Poem Swap #5." I was intrigued by the package and the thought and desperately wanted to rip open the package.  Half-heartedly, I waited. The contents of the package were well worth the wait. Keri wrote a lovely poem, added an image that tied in beautifully with the poem she created and then laminated it into a large postcard-like shape. 




Wonder-full
ideas spark
fresh perspectives
renewal 
rebirth
©Keri Lewis, 2016

Keri wrote a poem for me to capture what she calls "the fabulous spirit you share on your blog." I am grateful for this poem of wonder that brings to life words like spark, perspectives, renewal, and rebirth. I am deeply touched by her note. Beside the poem and card, Keri included two mini pocket journals to store my snippets of thoughts and subsequent word weavings for subsequent galleries. 

As I prepare for future PD presentations, I hold dear the poem swaps that have been sent by Jone MacCulloch, LInda Baie, and now Keri Collins Lewis. Their friendship and words sustain me as I continue to create digital galleries and word weave new inspirations. I thank Tabatha Yeatts for creating the 2016 Poem Swap that was a huge success in my eyes. 
Quick Request: Please forward me any offering you may have or wish to contribute to my newest gallery, Summerscapes, because I will start designing it during the first week of September. I have received many digital poems, photographs, and music from inspired writers and photographers but seeking more from colleagues who have created alongside me this year. 
Life is full when the heart speaks softly of what's felt inside.

After reading several posts, I felt drawn to the above quote
and created a digital to accompany it.


Today Heidi Mordhorst is hosting the Poetry Friday Round-up: Open House so we can all visit here.  Heidi has an original poem of her own that greets readers as they open the page. Join the fun.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Summer's Voice

Summerscapes, summer mini-cations, can be found near and far from home. While I favor mini-trips to the Long Island shores, Central New York State in summer is a beautiful sight.

I like the feel of the road as summer meets country.
Bountiful fields of wild flowers line the curbs.
Blissful sights continually appear:
endless red barns, cornfields, grazing cows, 
and ice cream stands tempting passerbyers 
to stop for a luscious taste of summer.
Fresh produce and hand-carved furniture 
pop up along the way,
while a quaint Victorian house, 
surrounded by a wild garden,
peeks out to say hello. 
Life is not as I know it 
along these country roads of 
once-traveled Erie Canal towns,
until a familiar sight appears: 
beach signage, luring me to stop for a
quick nod to summer and the capture of a
delightful summerscape moment or two.

Summer’s voice echoes across peaceful ripples
gently swaying life to slow-down mode-
the lake responds with quiet beauty.

Today is Slice of Life Tuesday at Two Writing Teachers. I am adding this post along with other slicers to honor the art of writing. Please visit the site here.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Performance Poetry

Poetry is an art that is more than a written experience. Its flow can be expressed gracefully in dance, artfully in drawings and paintings, visually in photographic series, and powerfully in oral performances. In performance poetry, poets present their unique voices and styles as they engage in poetic presentations on stage in front of live audiences. There is a rhythm and exuberance in their performances as exhibited through intonations, gestures, and overall delivery. 


Taylor Mali, a slam poet, uses his voice to project rhythmic thoughts on the topic of teachers. Brod Bagert brings his humor to his performance poetry that is often written for children. I have heard both poets present on stage at the NCTE and ILA Conferences and have been enthralled by the way they capture their audiences. 


What drew me to the topic of performance poetry was a postcard from Tanzania sent to me from Margaret Simon as a response to the 2016 Poem Swap package I sent her. 


After I received the postcard, I wondered about the Tanzania Experience so I engaged in an internet search. Subsequently, I found a wonderful performance poet, Zuhura Zu Senge'enge, on Facebook under the page, Tanzania Poetry. Zuhura, called the African Lioness, launched her CD last month with a performance that you can hear below. She dedicated her poem "to all the women around the world...for your contribution in building and shaping the world."  


Zuhura, Taylor, and Mali use their talents to project their voices out into the world through the power of poetry. If the giraffe in Margaret's poet could speak poetically, what might he say about his homeland to visitors?

My Tanzania,
of expansive plains,
home to my animal friends,
I stretch my neck
gazing  across 
lush landscapes to 
connect with your world.
Let your eyes
meet mine.
Remember me.
I search the plains for you.
                                                                                                                                                     ©CV, 2016

Now, I would like to draw your attention to Poetry Friday with its hostess of the week, Doraine Bennett, opening her site for Round-up offerings here

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Crafting Digital Media

As I surround myself with a stack of books on the topic of creativity, I look for a common thread to inspire me. A line in Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert pops out to push me to create"Don’t be afraid of reaching for your creative edge."

When we reach for our creative edge, we move just a bit beyond what we usually do to stretch ourselves. While I enjoy crafting digital compositions, I decided to move into different areas of digital literacy to mix up my approach to crafting digital media. I first purchased the app, Word Swag, since I heard it was an interesting digital tool.  As always when I am trying out something new, I ran into some roadblocks but I persevered through the messiness. If interested you can read my post on this here

Steps I took to create digital inspirations on learning that have an abstract feel for a #BackToSchool poster campaign to motivate students to create:
  • Take a photo with Photo Booth using the Pop Art feature.
  • Use Word Swag to create the saying and bring the photo into PicMonkey to add a border.
  • Be bold - try a different set of effects in PicMonkey; use the color and sharpen buttons; add another thought.
  • Design a short video with Animoto and then preserve it in YouTube to amplify voice.
  • Create individual digital abstract art jpegs in neon colors. 

  • Design an abstract art collage combining the above images in Word. Take a screen shot to bring the combined design into PicMonkey. Continue layering the images to create the final collage. 
Reflection:
These digital creations were crafted over two days. I used the trial and error method of creating. Multiple platforms and different photo-editing tools were involved. I could not have achieved the final products unless I became involved in the productive struggle inherent in the learning process. The concept of "play" was guiding my moves that integrated art, technology, and literacy. 

What Did I Learn:
I learned to work with new tools to create individual posters, a video with pizazz, and a collage with visual appeal while reaching for my creative edge. 

There is big magic that explodes when the learning process leads the learner to a product that validates the time spent. Is there more that I can achieve? Of course, there is an unlimited amount of learning to be had when we continue to notice, wonder, explore, and discover new paths. 

Information on the DigiLit Sunday Community:
Margaret Simon, founder of DigiLit Sunday posed the topic, Crafting Digital Media, for last Sunday's digital challenge. If interested in exploring the world of digilit, you can join the community Margaret formed on Google + under DigiLitSunday. You can access that here. You can also visit Margaret's blog site, Reflections on the Teche,  to view what the DigiLit Sunday writers contributed. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Learning is Messy!

Learning is messy is a thought vocalized by many educators, including myself. While this sounds like a negative, it has a positive connotation when speaking about the student's journey as a learner. Imagine a classroom of young writers immersed in a digital literacy project. Some are using pen and paper to create their draft, others are constructing a digital composition on their iPads and laptops. There's a great deal of buzz, flutter of papers, and tapping of pencils. Computer clicks are heard rapidly firing. Then, from a corner of the room, there are the groans, the stuck sounds, the disappointing comments followed by the pause.

-Forward steps, followed by backsteps are observed.-

From the sidelines comes the coach/faciitator guiding and gently nudging those who need support. Words like "I can't do this" are turned into "I think I can" as the teacher coach huddles the team with a positive chat. With a positive attitude, the community of learners come back onto the field of active learning to finish the challenge.


The messiness of the struggle is realized, identified, and overcome as teachers guide learners to discover new paths. From the apparent cluttered chaos of creation, grit and perseverance prevail to bring students one step closer to success, despite any missteps because dreaming big is inherent in the learning process.

Today is Slice of Life Tuesday so please visit Two Writing Teachers here to read additional slices.