Monday, September 29, 2014

Harvesting a Garden of Thoughtful Dialogue with Connected Colleagues

If you ever wondered about Twitter chat conversations, it will benefit you to join one session to lurk and learn before immersing yourself in the threaded conversation. You can find a myriad of hashtag communities for heart-filled conversations, instant collaboration, and learning when you search through Twitter. It never fails each time I enter a chat that I encounter individuals whom I know or new ones to converse with. 

The power of the connected world rests in a meeting of minds with individuals from various profession. Twitter allows for this to happen each day and night. It all begins with a desire to afford yourself collaborative conversations about life, learning, and/or leadership. You can even explore avenues of thought with those outside your field of interest. This will broaden your perspective. If you search for chats inside your field, you will find a variety that have discussions on pertinent topics. Endless possibilities await those who believe in the power of connecting through social media platforms. 

The poem below is dedicated to those who tirelessly seek online professional development opportunities to further their growth and impact the well-being of others.  
In fields of open dialogue,
not one but many individuals connect-
engaging in bursts of conversations
filling learning spaces.

On fertile ground, collegial thought
develops through circles of talk-
grows through connected conversations
that twist, turn, and flourish
from budding seeds of learning
into pods of knowledge.

Not one but many 
connected colleagues form bonds, 
grow ideas in connected spaces
nurtured by open-mindsets,
to impact their living and learning lives.
-cvarsalona 2014

I would like to thank the various groups across the nation and world that I chat with via Twitter channels. Our threaded conversations are powered through a connected Twittersphere that spreads our thoughts. 

Tonight, I send out a special thanks to the #LeadWithGiants community who declared me an official "Giant" among them. This is such an honor when you only know each other virtually. Articulation in 140 characters is precise when you want a global world to hear your voice come through loud and clear. 

Reflect - Connect - Flourish
in gardens of thoughtful dialogue with connected colleagues!

I also would like to thank the #SOL14 Community for their faithfulness to the task of crafting posts each week to engage the adult learner. Slice of Life is a weekly event hosted by Two Writing Teachers.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Celebrating With a New Lens to Continue Growing a Writer's Life

One morning last week as I traveled the highways of Long Island from west to east I reflected on the stream of traffic that disrupted my flow of thoughts. A multitude of cars were keeping pace while trying to avoid the glaring sun and a potential stream of accidents. There was an acute awareness of the potential pitfalls of reckless driving. Proceeding with caution was the headline that flashed in my mind as I traveled to my destination during the morning rush hour traffic. 

As I crossed from one county to the next, the incessant pace of three lanes of traffic slowed down. The sun moved over, and the tone of the trip changed. Driving became less strained and surroundings were seen through a different lens. It is amazing how one forgets to notice nature and honor the small moments in life. Once the strain of driving in a potential hazardous scenario was lifted, I could view the onset of autumn on this sun-kissed crisp day. A new lens was added that allowed me to place all in perspective. It was not my sunglasses that provided clarity of vision but the lens used by writers. 

Tiny segments of a tree-lined highway 
showed signs of autumn's arrival. 
Nature played a peek-a-boo game. 
Hints of red shown amongst green-leaved trees. 
The sun bowed its head 
to provide a clear pathway onward. 
Glaring yellow hues softened to sunshine. 
Cars hummed at a normal pace. 
Autumn's call was in the air 
I was able to reflect 
on its first moments 
during early morning hours. 

This trip east was a short journey to a new destination but it was also the first day to find fall with a writer's eye. This season I will celebrate life and use my special lens to connect with nature as I observe the small moments and awaken my observation skills. If you are interested in joining me to grow a writing life this autumn, stroll over to my first blog post on finding fall here.

Enjoy the season, become  more reflective, and take additional steps to grow a personal writing life.

Celebrate Saturdays with Ruth Ayres as she hosts

This post is being shared on "Celebrate this week" and #celebratlu. You can find the writings of others who come together from near and far to celebrate their week because life is a blessing to be shared. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Falling into Place as Season Turns

It's turning time when summer flows into fall. I sit and wait while still lingering in summer-kissed days. Day shorten. Temperatures drop. School is in session. Signs of the season are everywhere. Although I savor the sweet taste of summer, I recognize the passage of time and am eager to capture the brilliance of autumn in a new gallery entitled Finding Fall. I invite those who enjoy spinning words to craft them into a poem prompted by a vibrant photo of autumn. In doing so, you will accompany me as I "Find Fall" this season. This invitation continues my REFLECT WITH ME journey and connects me with writers around the globe. 

Sunshine paints
its first canvas 
as time turns.
I linger in Summer,
betwixt and between, 
ready for fall.

In the quiet of morning
I listen for sounds.
Nature calls out
to turn the season.
In response, 
crows caw loudly-
geese honk an entry-
Change appears.

Nature responds,
slowly unwrapping
Autumn's splendor 
like a soft sheet unfurled.

Then, it gently lifts 
and patiently transforms 
Summer into Fall
while embracing the glory 
of an Indian-summer day.
                -Carol Varsalona 2014

It is the summer's great last heat. 
It is the fall's first chill: They meet. 
-Sarah Morgan Bryan Platt

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

Come reflect with me as I weave a tapestry of golden hues from original photos and poetic expressions. Writers, educators, businessmen and women, retirees, and others join me to paint a vivid canvas of autumnal majesty. Send me your original poems and photos that showcases autumn splendor for the Finding Fall Gallery of Artistic Expressions.

Original poems and photos will grace the walls of a vibrant gallery that will uncover a myriad of possibilities when Finding Fall


  • If you are interested in creating visual images like the one above, try
  • See autumn with a new lens. Find just the right scene to photograph the brilliance of the fall season and let your words flow to describe the scene.
  • Include audio to spark your creation.
  • Refer to the following sites to see the growth of the REFLECT WITH ME Galleries: 
SPECIAL NOTE: Teachers who contribute to the Finding Fall Gallery can use their submission as a mentor text in their writing workshop. In addition, each teacher may choose one student piece to submit for the Finding Fall Gallery to spread the word that Writing Matters!

Each Friday, different poets open their sites to host a variety of writers who celebrate the love of poetry. This week's Poetry Friday is hosted by Laura Pudie Salas. Please stroll over to Laura's site to read her delightful "What's Inside? Poems to Explore the Park' You will enjoy her colorful photograph that accompanies her couplet. 

I am hoping that many of my Poetry Friday friends will accompany me as I build the 
Finding Fall Gallery .

*Please Note:
Since this post was written, the Finding Fall Gallery was unveiled and you can view the beauty and majesty of the collection here.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Forgiveness - A Silent Guest

On Spiritual Journey Thursday Holly Mueller examines components of her own spiritual journey and asks others in and out of her PLN to do the same. Today's topic is forgiveness and it struck me as one that is so appropriate at this time of year when the horror of 9/11 is still in the minds of many

While driving on the parkway to a professional development workshop I was facilitating today, the word forgiveness was on my mind.  I reflected on how powerful an act it is. While letting the words spin and swirl in my mind all day, I came back to the computer tonight to compose a short poem about the word, found the Alicia Keyes song, "Pray for Forgiveness," and created a thirty second video with Animoto to express why forgiveness is an essential act of life.

For me, the state of unbalance is harmful to of mind, body, and spirit. Many times it is the act of forgiving that provides restorative powers. In the past, I may have allowed anger and hurt from ill-conceived words, gestures, and actions knock me off balance for longer than I cared to be. Finding your center filled with positivity is the answer but it cannot be reached until the toxins of negativity are removed. While the art of being positive is a well-conceived practice, it needs work in order to maintain balance of mind, body, and spirit. 

The Animoto video of an original poem can be found here.

a humble stance 
     postures in corners of silence.
As stillness enters,
the heart broken by pain
opens to accept and 
moves forward into the light.
Positivity Await.
                                                                                  -cvarsalona 2014

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Bit of Tech to Entice Folks to Embrace Literacy

The Red Carpet comes out for grand events like the Emmys or the Oscars so I thought why not for literacy events as well. 

You can view the 30 second video here.

Today, was the unveiling of the Summer Serenity Gallery, a project that I have worked on for several months as detailed in my post, The Evolution of a Thought on DigLit Sunday. There were many lead-ups to the event as one would expect when trying to showcase writing. I had to become conversant with digital tools, such as PicMonkey, Canva, Animoto, and emaze, sharpen my editing and revision skills, collaborate with writers around the globe, and embrace creativity. 

It has been an amazing adventure that likens itself to the classroom learning experience. Educators, as learners, have passions (mine being reading, writing, photography, and decorating). These passions should be exhibited in our interactions with our own learners and colleagues. We, ourselves, need to learn, practice new skills, try them out, and apply them to different settings. We also need to accept missteps as steppingstones to success. How many times during the past few months did I say to myself, "Back to the drawing board?" When asked why do I spend endless hours creating a gallery of artistic expressions, the answer always is, "This is what I enjoy. I am learning through the creation process." Isn't this what we want every learner to say?

Today, I opened a gallery of artistic expressions. I offer the site to all to peruse because writing is a an amazing gift to give learners. It is the releasing of the voice within to give rise to collaborative conversations and from those a new thought. It is transparent as William Zinsser said, "Writing is thinking on paper." What we say becomes a series of crafted words that spirals, eventually lands on paper, and lingers in our minds. 

Please peruse the Gallery of Summer Serenity as a visitor does when entering a museum. Let the vibrant visuals, written words, and composition of the site allow you to linger in summer moments and spur you on to dig deeper into the writing process.

Please join the Slice of Life community their site and on Twitter

Unveiling of the Summer Serenity Gallery

Immerse yourself in the stillness of reflection.
Hear summertime's alluring call while enjoying the artistic expressions showcased.

Introductory Remarks:
As the summer season takes a bow, it is with great pleasure that I unveil an artistic collection of poetry prompted by images of serene summer spots. The selections have been collected from writers across the states and as far away as the United Kingdom and Australia to showcase different locations that evoke feelings of peace and calmness. Each piece in the gallery is a unique expression of the writer's noticings of the world. To highlight the individuality of every selection, the poem and photograph submitted were combined and stylized using various technology tools. As you enter the gallery:  

Recall the serenity of summer days.
Allow the exhibit to fill your spirit 
and open your senses.
Relax, Reflect, Recharge!

Poetry is the art which is technically within the grasp of everyone: a piece of paper and a pencil and one is ready."
Eugene Montale

Slowly browse through this virtual gallery for a sensory experience. You may wish to enlarge your screen before taking a walk through the gallery.  
Travel with me to find hidden possibilities.
 Take a quick tour of still gardens. 

"There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart."
Celia Thaxter 

Or perhaps awake to a beautiful early morning sight. 
Reflect on the grandeur of sunrise
Or be enticed to enjoy the sunset hours. 
"The summer night is like a perfection of thought."
Wallace Stevens

Let the shore capture your heart. 
The sea has its way of drawing me to its shore for moments of quiet reflection. Carol Varsalona
Explore the sweeping coastline. 
Spend an afternoon daydreaming about summers past while planning trips. 
Enjoy the pleasures of summer travel.
Bask in the majesty of nature.

Reflect on the value of relaxation while at the beach. 

In the summer, the song sings itself. 
 William Carlos Williams
Take a dip in a cool lake or at the river's edge.

When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky. ~ Buddha
Restore your serenity in the stillness of a quiet space or on your mat.
Find summer serenity on the journey of life.

Be inspired by this gallery to create your own poem prompted by an image, scene, or location. 
Or let your creativity surprise others as you create a video, movie, or multimedia presentation. 
You can visit my short video here
Thank you for visiting the 
REFLECT WITH ME: Summer Serenity Gallery. 
  I hope the this gallery of artistic expressions sparked your creative spirit and provided a pleasurable experience.
Contributing Writers of the Summer Serenity Gallery:
Other galleries that you might like to peruse:
Please leave a comment below
and share the site. 
This gesture of community spirit will be appreciated.