Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Focus on Life's Blessings

When Susan Bruck posted the following inspirational quote at her blog, I knew it would be a beautiful opening for this month's Spiritual Journey Thursday on reflection. 

"The Japanese philosophy encourages us to focus on the blessings hiding in our daily lives, and celebrating the way things are rather than how they should be." -Thomas Oppong

For many of us things in our personal lives are stressful. Pandemic blues followThe facial coverings we wear may mask our feelings, holding us back from seeing life through a different lens. With determination and faith we need to find what is beautiful in life to restore a sense of joy. In trying to sort out my own emotions, I turn to nature's transformative touch. 

Remembering the brilliant sun over the marsh, the reeds brushing lightly past one another in a spring breeze, and the recent dark storms led to the creation of an inspirational digital filled with Long Island sights. I added the sketched hand to signify a need for humanity to reach out and connect with others. 

In this spirit of making connections, I reflect on an unusual Thanksgiving with my family. There were many differences that made this feast a new normal one. Instead of Mass at the Cathedral, we sat at home watching it on television. There was a small turkey breast with sides for our family of three, and Zoom and phone calls to connect with relatives and my granddaughters. Within the unfamiliarity of events there was a constant. The sermon, like many others, was a memorable one for our times. Our new pastor presented an urgent message: make Thanksgiving an action of the spirit, not just one day of celebration. His simple words encouraged all to fill our hearts with gratitude each day. Knowing that I had a dip in my positivity level during the pandemic, his message resonated with me.

As the pastor suggested, we need to become people filled with gratefulness for the blessings of life, not dwelling on the stressors that have us exploding like volcanoes of ill-wanted toxins. 

O Lord that lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.
-William Shakespeare, Henry Vi, Part II, Act 1, Scene 1
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Thanksgiving Pantoum
 
Oh, my soul, focus on blessings
found on quiet earthen paths.
Follow the journey to
thankful living.
Found on quiet, earthen paths
find gratitude for
thankful living.
Connect in hope.
Find gratitude for
the things that are.
Connect in hope.
Share this season filled with nature inspired awe.
The things that are
can bring a sense of peace.
Share this season filled with nature inspired awe.
Oh, my soul, focus on blessings.
©CV, 2020, Long Island
A pantoum consists of four-line stanzas with the second and fourth lines of each stanza becoming the first and third lines of the next stanza. The last line of a pantoum is often the same as the first.
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Let the spirit of Thanksgiving
Become today's living action!
Awaken joy along the trail.
Be grateful for what is.
©CV, 2020, Long Island
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I plan on searching for life's small details to see the positives and share these with others.
What can you do to tip the scale to increase your positivity level and  
celebrate the way things are rather than how they should be?

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Thank you to my poet-librarian friend, Linda Mitchell, for hosting this month's Spiritual Journey Thursday. She chose the topic reflection as her inspiration for the action of reflecting  on what has been. 

I join my fellow writes as we pause to reflect
and extend our thoughts and prayers for all who are in need
during trying pandemic times.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

A Case of the Pandemic Blues

Enough is enough!  I have noticed a dip in my positivity level each time life stressors interfere (way too many times to count). Can I categorize this new felt loss as the pandemic blues? 
"A mid-summer poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation reported over half of US adults indicated the pandemic has affected their mental health." (Article, Beating the Pandemic Blues)
I count myself as one of those affected by the stresses of pandemic life. Back at the end of February, my husband and I signed a contract to build a new home in Virginia near my little granddaughters. Who knew that COVID-19 would rear its ugly head a few weeks later changing my perspective in so many ways. Yesterday morning I paused to reflect on the happenings of the past nine months, building a home virtually and almost selling my Long Island home five times if you count interested prospective buyers. All of this has left me with weakened resolve but yesterday I found a bit of clarity. 

An incessant all day downpour turned the sky dark while drenching my newly-decorated porch. Fresh poinsettias sat beautifully in pots standing like poised guards waiting for yet another prospective buyer. The rainstorm negated that visit and caused my new plants to become rainsoaked. I ran outside to rescue them. Poor me, I thought. There would be no walks today, no finding small details in nature to bring peace. But then, I decided this outlook would only cause more distress so when I caught an interesting sight from my bedroom window I took a closer look. Nature was sounding off with gusts of wind and a downpour unlike those seen in many weeks. There was a strong windshift and pendulating swings of tree branches. I decided to pause and indulge in a few moments of relaxed self-care, just taking time to watch nature at work. Later, the following digital poem evolved.


I decided that If my poinsettias and decorations could withstand the relentless outbursts of nature during trying times, then I could, too. While my future path many not be a smooth one, I am ready to start thinking about the urgency of self-care: getting hold of my emotions and not letting the howl of pandemic blues deprive me of joy. It is with resolve to move forward that I will keep the following quote front and center.

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning how to dance in the rain." 
-Author Vivian Greene


It's Slice of Life Tuesday at Two Writing Teachers so I am moving over to join the writing community because writing is one of my happy places.  
 

Friday, November 27, 2020

Focus On Gratitude

This year, Thanksgiving was a day to look beyond the challenges, interruptions, and distractions of our pandemic lives and focus on what mattered. It was a day filled with gratitude for faith, family, and friends but celebrated in an unfamiliar, new normal way. If you were like me, you had a delicious dinner with immediate members of your family, zoomed with grandchildren, and/or relatives, and spoke with others. 

As an added touch, I resurrected a childhood tradition of walking after dinner cleanup time. We stepped outside; I was amazed by the deep jet black sky with a brilliant moon illuminating the street. Gratitude flowed. It was the start of a peaceful family walk. The weather was cooperative for an awe walk., being the most temperate of Thanksgiving nights in a decade. While walking, I recollected the following recent scene at the state park on the outskirts of my neighborhood. The photo taken shares the simple beauty of autumn in late November. With gratitude for nature's beauty I composed the following digital inspiration, image poem.


Even a short walk in the woods can produce a sense of awe when you learn to let go of stress and pay attention to small details. -How to Find Awe in Everyday Things by Sidney Stevens


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The Poetry Sisters offered an interesting challenging, #PoetryPals, for the end of November. 
"The theme is hindsight — pick one of your old poems to revise and/or write a new poem in conversation with it."  
With this in mind, I traveled back in time to last November and 
found the following zeno poem I created.

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Give thanks for fall's seasonal gifts
coloring world
with love,
glee.
November comes
in peace.
See,
wonder, explore.
Find rest.
Be!
©CV, 2019
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For the challenge, I created a zeno poem that connects thoughts from 2019 to 2020 for my Abundant Autumn Gallery

Give thanks for fall's abundancy
dispelling fears.
Seek
earthen beauty,
joyful
hope.
Thanksgiving comes
in peace.
Feel
inspired awe.
Center!
Be!
©CV, 2020
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I am grateful for autumn and an unusual Thanksgiving filled with nature inspired awe
to move us beyond the confinements of pandemic living.

Join me for Poetry Friday, hosted by Carol at  Carol's Corner


Note:
I will be slowing going through Poetry Friday blogs this weekend since there are multiple scheduled viewings of my Long Island house. I am grateful for this and also very pleased that my Virginia home is completely built and ready for a December closing.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Nature Inspired Awe

Sunset approached. Earth lay in stillness outside. Indoors the hum of television news revved up unwanted fears. Amidst food segments on Thanksgiving holiday preparations, bits on pandemic safety repeatedly appeared. Newscasters discussed precautions on how to celebrate the holiday. Reminders of downscaling age-old traditions of gatherings with loved ones became the go-to reference.  With constant talk on how to stay safe, I left the kitchen to find solace outdoors. An awe walk was in order. 

Nature did not disappoint. A splendid view came into sight as I passed beyond huge treescapes. There it was, brilliant in a darkened night sky after sunset. 


According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary,
 earthshine is sunlight reflected by the earth that illuminates the dark part of the moon.

"According to a study conducted by Craig L. Anderson, feelings of awe, those generated while being in nature (also known as nature inspired awe)...had a profoundly healing effect on the mind and body." (8 Ways Being In Nature  Heals Your Mind and Body (According To Research)

During  this year's Thanksgiving holiday find time to take an awe walk. Be inspired by nature. Bring home the comforting and healing power of nature's glow. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

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Gratitude to Two Writing Teachers for offering the Tuesday Slice of Life year-round.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Be Filled With the Beauty of Nature

Imagine a day in early November. Walking trails at the nearby state park overflow with glorious sights and sounds. Colors of autumn vary in cinnamon tones; crispcrunch leaves fill in dark wooded spaces. Strewn across paths, patterned leaves and broken branches artistically placed wait for visitors to tread lightly. Nature's beautifully-crafted, undisturbed spaces alive with natural light. Filtering through cracks between majestic trees a dazzling luster surrounds the woods. We walk in awe, noting a distinct silence. Curving paths continue inviting us to pause, reflect, and let outdoor harmony move inward. 

leaning in silence
autumn's spirit surrounds
silent sacred space
©CV, 2020

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Lately, there has been much talk about influencers. Those who thrived in the before but live in the now, continue to influence others. Without hesitation, autumn has been an influencer in my life, providing a diversion from upside-down issues of this pandemic-filled world. This year more than ever, autumn thrives, offers inspiration in a variety of forms, and affects my mindset in a positive way.

awed by autumn's art
earth-painted masterpieces
inspired beauty
©CV, 2020

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afternoon light falls
on trails adorned in russet 
gratitude sweeps through
©CV, 2020

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autumn sunset inches closer

hovers over a silent lake
brilliantly sharing  a layering of colors

passersby sit reverently
watching earth slowly fill
with evening beauty
©CV, 2020

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This week's Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted at my long-distance writing friend, Linda Baie's blog site, TeacherDance,  this week. She is writing about a wonderful new poetry anthology, Friends and Anemones by authors of The Writer's LoftI attended the virtual book launch so I am interested in Linda's thoughts.


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The autumn photos and poems are part of the #AbundantAutumn Gallery of Artistic Expressions.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

November Peace

November graciously enters autumn with a bit of October's vibrance until winds of change toss leaves about. Days grow shorter. Earth becomes quieter and tree branches expose their limbs gracefully against a darkening sky. Within this unembellished world, many turn their eyes away not seeing the beauty that lies within nature's arms. 

November holds mysteries heard in whispering winds or in piles of crunchable leaves if we listen. Do you see the beauty beyond the chilled breath of sweatherweather afternoons before the onset of dusk? Step into my digital artwork to discover November peace.
 
One chilled, windy day last week, I walked through my neighborhood feeling a reverent silence for the stillness of the approaching night. I captured this scene and subsequently digitized it and wrote a cherita, "a linked poetry form of one-, two-, and three-line stanzas that tells a story. A cherita depends on conciseness and suggestion for its effect." 

It is my hope that you will honor the slowed-down pace of November in gratitude for its blessings, even when it is difficult to see through the darkening clouds and storms of life.

in november
listen in silence to earth
gratitude whispers
©CV, 2020

I join Two Writing Teachers for the Tuesday Slice of Life to share a small moment of a November day.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Inspired by Autumn Morning "Awe Walks"

In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous. - Aristotle

I hear the call of morning in the woods.

Autumn morning sweeps into daylight.
Breathes in crispcool freshness.
Dialogues whimsically with Nature.
Turns to awaken a weary world.


At ocean's edge, baby gulls test their skills,
Fly into a watchful October sky
And dip into glistening waters
Of diamondsparkle seafoam.


A lone tree bedecked in russet
Lays a blanket of crunchable leaves.
Waiting for schoolyard childrens'
giant leap into autumn majesty.


I wander through Autumn mornings connected in silence with nature. Awestruck with earth's goldleaf colors, I feel the warmth of September-in-November-joy.
©CV, 2020, Long Island, NY

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Intrigued by the appeal of an aubade, a poetic format that appeared on Linda Mitchell's blog as a challenge for her fellow Sunday Swaggers. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary explains this form as a song or poem greeting dawn; a morning love song; a song or poem of lovers parting at dawn. I chose to write my first aubade as a morning love song.
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Lord Bryon sums up an intense love of nature in his poem:

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society where none intrudes,
By the sea and music in its roar:
I love not man less, but nature more.
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Lately, I have spent many days taking awe walks, soaking in the intensity of autumn while trying to make sense of a pandemic upside-down life. Awe walks are simple antidotes for stress. They allow me to shift my attention outward instead of inward leading to a feeling of well-being. Another way for me to achieve a sense of balance (my one word) is to join the Poetry Friday Roundup each week. This week, Robyn Hood Black is hosting, at her website, Life on the Deckle Edge. Robyn's post is full of poetic goodness. As one of the stops on the HOP TO IT Blog Tour of Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong's new poetry anthology, Robyn shares her enthusiasm for the book and her own children's poem published in the anthology. Robyn also provides congratulary remarks for fellow poets' new books .

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Veterans Day Gratiku

WKBN.com

by James Doyle

marches in uniform down the traffic stripe 
at the center of the street, counts time
to the unseen web that has rearranged
the air around him, his left hand
stiff as a leather strap along his side,
the other saluting right through the decades 
as if they weren't there, as if everyone under ninety 
were pervasive fog the morning would dispel
in its own good time, as if the high school band
all flapping thighs and cuffs behind him
were as ghostly as the tumbleweed on every road 
dead-ended in the present, all the ancient infantry 
shoulder right, through a skein of bone, presenting arms 
across the drift, nothing but empty graves now
to round off another century, 
the sweet honey of the old cadence, the streets 
going by at attention, the banners glistening with dew, 
the wives and children blowing kisses.


Remembering Living Veterans

We wave to hometown heroes going 
past us on streets by 
the park. We stand at
full attention,
filled with pride as the
veterans hold banners 
of red, white, and blue.Their glistening
smiles shine with
hope full of morning dew.
©CV, 2020

Using the highlighted line in the above poem as a strike line, I created a golden shovel poem honoring living veterans of WWII, in particular, the one remaining living veteran in my family, my Uncle John Mosca. As a very young man at the beginning of WWII, he enlisted in the Marine Corp. He returned home after the war, proud of his achievement but keeping stories of his duty as a private matter. Today, I pause to honor his service to America with hopes that he will hear my phone call wishing him a Happy Veterans Day.   

"The willingness of America's veterans to sacrifice for our country has earned them our lasting gratitude." - Jeff Miller

a silent flag
waving on a dim fall day
hope for America
©CV, 2020

November is #GratitudeMonth. 
Be grateful for those who fought for our country and freedom.