Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Tick, Tock!
On the stroke of midnight, the iconic Times Square ball will drop and the clock will signify the start of the new year. The midnight hour has magical possibilities. For most people it is a time of transition, a time to believe in the power of change. 12:00 a.m. rings in sounds of cheer and harmony across the world and brings hope to those who wish to succeed.  On New Year's Eve, we rejoice, open our arms, temporarily soar to new sights, and believe. 

When we land back on solid ground, many people hope for positive change and usually take the traditional route of making resolutions. Will this lead to significant change in a way to approach life? Losing weight, eating healthy, exercising regularly are a few of the topics that people resolve to make an active part of their lives. In reality, resolutions are well-meaning and achieve momentary satisfaction but most studies over the years find that resolutions are not lasting pacts for life. Amy Moran writes in 4 Ways to Make Your New Year's Resolutions Stick in 2015 that studies show resolutions are dropped after a week and only 40% are adhered to. So what do we do? Last year at this time, I found an approach that was effective.

I created one little word to guide my path. You can access last year's post here. The word, openness, became my connector on my journey. Keeping sight on this word helped me grow as a learner and afforded me the opportunity to try new experiences. It was with a growth mindset that I was resolute to move forward. I heard the word open in many different instances, felt the impact of open doors noticed, wondered, and found new connections. 

Now, I am ready to greet 2015. With open arms I welcome a new year with a new little word. Before I reveal that one word, I want to reflect on the 2014 journey with Amy Moran's tenets:

  1. Identify your readiness to change: I listened to my inner voice during the year that called me to a world of positivity and possibilities. 
  2. Believe that you can do it: I realized that there is an ebb and flow to the process of change and found that this worked for me - one step forward, one misstep back.
  3. Think constructively about setbacks: I created this mantra to help me think through the process. ==============>
  4. Build mental strength -"Commit to building your mental muscle by conducting daily exercises that will help you get stronger." This is where the real work lies.
So now I will take my advice, Step Back Before Going Forward, and reveal my one little word that will guide my 2015 journey. By being open in 2014, I accepted the call to act positively. By listening intently to my inner voice and those around me, I will create a thoughtful connection that will propel me to hear messages when I may not have in the past. Listening is an art that is developed from childhood but how often do we really listen intently? I can take cues from Mary Rice Hopkins & Puppets who sing the Blah Blah Blah Song.  

Enjoy your 2015 journey as I start mine.

Tagxedo Word Cloud to capture my one little word: LISTEN

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Stepping Back Before Going Forward

Today is a day to pause, step back, and remember what life has offered me before leaping into the new year. It is a time to reflect on my positive moves and the gaps that need to be sorted out. In doing so, an image came to mind: being the chalk board monitor in my elementary school days. I eagerly washed the board each day after school. There was a fluidity to that task, a sense of accomplishment and pride as I prepared the chalk board for a new day.

I have been thinking about that action in preparation for choosing my One Little Word (OLW) for 2015. At the start of 2014, I found the perfect word: openness.  It led me to many new opportunities as a connected colleague, writer, professional development specialist, and thinker. I engaged in new ventures; rekindled my love for quiet spaces through yoga; met many individuals, both virtually and face-to-face. I allowed creativity to flow and with so unveiled four galleries of artistic expressions:
Doors opened and I walked through them, sometimes hesitant, but still moving onward. Did I accomplish what I set out?  -Partially-  Cluttered messes are still to be found in spaces in my home and mind, but they are being sorted out to bring order and balance to life. Are there gaps that need to be tended to?  -Absolutely-  So I must continue on this journey trying to find the right ingredients to mix a new recipe for 2015 to become a vibrant member of my family and community. 

The hustle and bustle events of the past two months have pushed aside reflective practices that bring order to cluttered chaos. Now is the time for me to step back before going forward.  

Thank you to the entire Two Writing Teachers' Team: Stacey, Betsy, Dana, Tara, Beth, & Anna for creating a safe haven to write weekly slices on life. Please stroll over to the Two Writing Teachers' Slice of Life site to view other writers' views on life this week. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Holiday Celebrations Continue!

Celebrate Life!
Celebrate Family!
Celebrate Friends!

It is the journey of life that affords us both special moments and challenges. With faith and family, we move through each day finding the right measure of joy to lead us to peace, health, and happiness. Life provides an open invitation to us. All we need to do is answer the call and proceed with reflective action. If we falter, we pick up and start again. 

This beginning of this week was filled with appliance breakdowns, servicemen in and out, and hustle and bustle that led up to the celebration of Christmas. As always, we get through the little stresses in life to move on to the important parts, being together. 

Take a short glimpse through the week of celebrations in my household, starting with Santa's annual sleigh ride through the streets of my neighborhood to our family Christmas Eve joy after Christmas Mass, and a celebration with extended family in New Jersey. Lastly, you will see our ride through the bright lights of New York City on the way home from New Jersey. I am sorry to say that we could not get street access to the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center this year, but the excitement of the City at holiday time was present. 

Each week Ruth Ayres asks us to find the celebrations that bring joy to our lives. 
You can find her call to celebrate here.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Finding Fall Gallery is Here with Holiday Cheer!

to receive each beautifully rendered image 
that has been carefully woven into a tapestry of golden hues in the Finding Fall Gallery.

Introductory Remarks:
During the season of autumn a variety of reflective writers joined me to paint a vivid canvas of autumnal majesty. Prepare yourself to be immersed in the gifts of the fall season. 

Hear the sounds of leaves rustling. 
View the turning of the trees in the north. 
Watch the season burst into golden days in the south. 
Find fall in the West and as far away as Luxembourg. 

It is with great pleasure that I unveil an artistic collection of poetry prompted by the images of glorious fall scenes. Depending upon locale, each original poem and photo have been creatively combined to present different perspectives on the season of autumn. 

Take a tour around the globe to find fall as it unfolded from September to mid-December. See the trickster that Mother Nature was in late fall when with a flick of a hand the bounty of early autumn was mixed with shocking white hues. 

To highlight the uniqueness of each selection, the poem and photo combinations were stylized with various photo editing tools. 

As you enter the gallery,

Reflect on the majesty of the season.
Allow the exhibit to fill your spirit
and awaken your senses.
Find fall through each each writer's perspective. 

September was a stunning entry point in which summer turned into fall with earthy amber tones depicting the abundant harvest. On Long Island, the beach remained in summer mode while parks filled with woodland appeal allowed for reflective walks. Contrasts were everywhere and abundance was the norm. As the 19th Century poet, Helen Hunt Jackson stated in her poem, September:

 "...September days are here.
                                                                With summer's best of weather,
                                                                And autumn's best of cheer."

Listen to September Song  by Willie Nelson

Live quietly in the moment and see the beauty of all before you. The future will take care of itself. - Paramahansa Yogananda

View the Brilliance of Autumn  in Music and Poetry

In the visuals below, various authors offer their thoughts on the grandeur of autumn displays that burst with the color red. You will enjoy listening to Autumn Forest while reading the poems. 

Autumn in Luxembourg (Europe) 2014 by Gust MEES

Recall those blustery October days that may have sidewalks strewn with the flutterings of nature. 

Short video about October days in Hempstead Lake Park, Rockville Centre, Long Island

Creating fall displays from autumn's bounty is a delightful way to "find fall". 

When the sun's blush warms Indian Summer days, gratitude should be in your heart

and obstacles cleared.

October 31st brings merriment and enjoyment to the fall season. Words, like spooky and scary, pop up everywhere to keep spirits high.

Ghastly, ghostly, beastly day,
Dreary, dark, I'm known to say
Let the children come out to play.
Dressed in tattered, ragged garb,
Regal, glittering, spookily scarred
Off to search for trick or treat
But don't forget to meet and greet!

©Carol Varsalona. All rights reserved.

This season, November brought a mix of strange weather conditions to my locale and in other parts of the country, showing that fall has many looks.

by Kielan, 5th grade student from Margaret Simon's Class

As Thanksgiving neared, thankfulness was in abundance. Connected colleagues gave thanks for all that nature and life have to give. 

In a hurried world
take time to step back.
Reflect on what is
in front of you.
Be grateful for
natural beauty

Early autumn snow provided by Mother Nature herself, the original trickster, caused many to be left bewildered by the phenomenon. While some enjoyed the fall white shadings, others found it strange. After reading these poems you may have a different perspective than what you started with. 

Adapted from image

Some musings dig deep beyond the season's landscapes.

Created for Connected Colleagues

It is my hope that this collection has allowed you to see autumn through a new lens. 

I am deeply grateful to the REFLECT WITH ME writers who added their creativity and poetic words to this collection. 

Please refer to the following galleries to see the previous REFLECT WITH ME collections:

Now please stroll over to the Poetry Friday Roundup at Reading, Teaching, Learning where my Twitter friend and writing colleague, Holly Mueller, is the hostess. 

Some of the Poetry Friday writers are included in the Finding Fall Gallery. I thank them for their support of the various collections I have offered for public viewing.