Saturday, September 30, 2017

Celebrating Firsts

on this ordinary day
I'm remembering an extraordinary September weekend
and reflecting on the FIRSTS that marked a momentous occasion. 

FIRST sacrament for my granddaughter, Sierra Kathryn, unlike any other christenings I have ever attended. The baby was greeted by the Sunday Mass parishioners at St. John Neumann Church's in Reston, Virginia.

FIRST grandchild christening for both families.

FIRST bringing of the gifts to the altar as a grandmother. 
(Grandmotherhood is a a joyful state of mind)

FIRST time for my son being a godfather.

The christening was a momentous occasion for our family and my son-in-law's family. Sierra Kathryn arrived at the church, greeted by Father Bob, and was led to the bridal room to be dressed for her christening. I was the baby stylist and loved every minute of the preparation phase that I shared with my sister and daughter. 

At St. John Neumann Church, two babies are christened during Mass each month. My grandchild was the only one being christening that Sunday. The ceremony was filled with many firsts: a procession in by the parents and godparents, a blessing during the Mass, and a procession by the immediate and extended families to the magnificent baptismal font that was flanked by the children of the parish. What a beautiful ceremony this was!

A highlight of the after Mass ceremony was a special encounter with a 100 year-old woman. With her frail hand, she touched Sierra and gave her a blessed wish. As the woman's daughter stated, "It is the old greeting the young into the church family."

After Mass, a reception was held for the parishioners. Sierra was a topic of conversation. Many came by to greet her and ask about the christening gown and bonnet that were both family heirlooms. Sierra wore a gold chain and cross that was kept in its tiny original box by my mother. It was a fitting gift and remembrance on this day. 

The christening party was another occasion to dress baby Sierra. My daughter was given a gorgeous pink lace dress, headband, and blanket at the shower from a dear friend of mine. As Sierra sat on her vintage baby chair that was passed down through generations, she looked like a little princess. 

Firsts are meant to be shared knowing that many more wonderful events will follow. The significance of the christening goes beyond dressing up, parties, and good times. It is the gathering of families to welcome a baby as a child of God. It is the joy of having a little one fill the house with gentle cooing, warm smiles, and love for all. At the christening ceremony, prayers were lifted for Sierra to grow up with a kind and generous heart. Already, her smiles warm a room and bring joy. I feel blessed by her tiny presence.


I am joining Ruth Ayres to Celebrate This Week since I missed the last two Sundays. As you can see, my time has been full. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Sunkissed Summer Mini-Exhibit

The first days of the fall season are a wonderful time to step back and revisit summer memories. I took this transition time to immerse myself in the design of my summer gallery of artistic expressions, Sunkissed Summer. Since September 24th' opening of the online gallery, hundreds have visited. I can never have enough of summer and hope you feel the same way, too. American art dealer, Larry Gargosian's quote is a fitting way to describe my summer gallery. 

"The sun never sets on my gallery." 

Because I am grateful for the writers, poets, artists, photographers, and student voices for bringing Summer 2017 to life through digital inspirations, I created a mini-exhibit for Poetry Friday. My Poetry Friday colleagues have been strong supporters of my poetrylove work, so I dedicate this mini-gallery to the following poets who created a memorable recollection of summer 2017 with me.


I invite you to peruse this mini-exhibit filled with sunkissed digital inspirations.

Summer 2017's story unfolds with a nod to relaxation time.

As you walk through the mini-gallery, 
recall the scent of blooming flowers. 

Ramona Behnke

Think back on your mini-adventures with family. 
Were they filled with "life living" moments? 

Julieanne Harmatz

Recollect beach walks that brought peace 

or whimsical thoughts inspired by nature.

Even the animals enjoyed the summer sun.

Did your children enjoy firefly chasing on hot, summer nights?

Did you enjoy outdoor concerts listening to summertime tunes

or let the summer rain cause you to reflect?

Did your end-of-summer thoughts drift to return-to-school days?

If so, it's time to celebrate

 and turn your eyes to another season.

All of these and much more can be seen in the full Sunkissed Summer exhibit that can be found hereThank you for visiting the mini-exhibit of Sunkissed Summer Gallery.

Now please visit the Poetry FridayRoundup at my colleague and fellow NCTE presenter, Laura Purdie Salas as she shares Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's new poetry book, Read, Read, Read. You can access Laura' site here.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Beach Walk

Surrounded by a cluttered desk and too many tasks to take care of, I felt the weight of life yesterday morning. You probably know what I am talking about. So what was the fix?

I found my route to peace when the phone call rang. Beach walk? Yes? What better way to de-stress than take a stroll on the boardwalk. 

The Atlantic Ocean was waiting. Instead of calling to me, it roared. I listened and watched with amazement. Waves shimmered in the sunshine. Surfers prepared for their sweet ride. People promenaded the boardwalk. I gazed at the ocean, stopping often to take photos. The flow of the water, the turn of the boards, the surfer's disembarkment were like a scene from a movie but instead, it is was live before my eyes. 

It was then that I realized this walk was the fix, my mini-vacation from reality. I moved to a corner of the boardwalk where there was shade to write these words and take another photo. Ah! There was beauty and tranquility in those sunkissed summer-like moments I spent on the boardwalk yesterday. 

What a delightful way to de-stress!
I used my senses to fill my breath 
with sweet summer life in early fall.

If you missed my unveiling of Sunkissed Summer Gallery, please take a look. You will feel a wave of inspiration as you are swept away by amazing photographs, artwork, and digipoetry from around the world. Life is good when you can leave your footprint in the sand. Yesterday, I did just that.

It's Slice of Life Tuesday at Two Writing Teachers.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Sunkissed Summer Gallery Unveiled

"Summertime and the livin' is easy."
-Porgy and Bess

Designed by Carol Varsalona
featuring a Community of Reflective Writers

The last day of summer appeared without delay but my mind and spirit were still in summertime. I now reminisce about the consistent flow of sunkissed moments, each one making summer on Long Island a breathtaking experience. Summertime creates its own aura of positive vibes across the world and allows us to tell our stories through images and powerful wording. 

Pause for a moment now to recollect your summertime experiences before dipping your toes into Sunkissed Summer Gallery of artistic expressions. 

I invite you to Relax! Reflect! Recharge!
Engage Your Senses!

Within the spaces of this gallery, artistic designs and powerful voices from around the world blend together creating a collection of inspiring digital creations. Let's celebrate summer! Open your heart to receive each beautifully rendered image that recalls the summer of 2017.

Are you ready to stroll through the gallery's artistic expressions that flow like the roaring waves across the shore? Are you ready to feel summer touching your heart and mind? If so, let the story of summer 2017 unfold and bring you back to a relaxing time. 

Let's begin the tour. I open the doors of Sunkissed Summer Gallery for your viewing pleasure. 

There were ordinary summer days of carefree living

and out-of-the-ordinary moments-

life living moments to celebrate-

“If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the field has power to move you, if the simple things in nature have a message you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive.” -Eleanor Duse

day trips to enjoy with family-

Point Lookout, Long Island
Debbie Diller
Kid's Pool, Reston, Virginia

Families enjoy parades-photo of Clyesdales by Debbie Diller, Pennsylvania
and new adventures to take.

Julieanne Harmatz

Mrs. Sidhu, Haida Gwaii

Leslie Carothers

Ramona Behnke, Washington
Alaska Tracy, Alaska

Nature often stirs our senses when we are outdoors enjoying summer life.

Michelle Kogan

Terje Akke, Estonia
@Alaska Tracy, Alaska
Devin Hartnett McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area, Maryland

Monet, In the Meadow, submitted by Tabatha Yeatts

Mireille Taub
Ramona Behnke, Washington

Mark Weston, Hiking in Colorado


Summer's lazy, dog days fill our lives with tranquility.

Margaret Simon, Louisiana

Time for a musical break.

Inspiration by Michelle Haseltine

Children are full of the spirit of noticing, wondering, and enjoying life in the summer.

Summer's vivid florals brighten landscapes.

Rose Pillay, Sunflower Stroll, British Columbia

"The earth laughs in flowers."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Fletcher

Sunflower Season by Devin Hartnett, Rocklands Farm, Maryland

" On the beach, you can live in bliss."
-Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys

Teresa Gross

The beach draws artists near to create ocean-inspired artwork.

There's a different type of sunbather in Florida

and a different type of singer in Louisiana.

Relax with the sounds of past decades. Listen to Chad and Jeremy sing their Summer Song live from 1964. It is the just right song for the last day of summer.

"A dark night, lightened up by thousands of glowing fireflies...
It's magical..."
-Ama H. Vanniarachhy

"Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August."
-Jenny Han, The Summer I Turned Pretty

Carol Varsalona, Chihuly Exhibit, New York Botanical Gardens

"Summer cooking implies a sense of immediacy, a capacity to capture the essence of the fleeting moment."
Elizabeth David, food writer (1913-1992)

"Summer has filled her veins with light and her heart is washed with noon." -C.S. Lewis

Pause once again to listen to summer music.

When nights darken early, summer sings its swan song but memories remain-vivid reminders of glorious sunsets.

©CV, 2017, Long Beach, NY
Margaret Simon, Louisiana

"Oh, the summer night
Has a smile of light,
And she sits on a sapphire throne."
-Barry Cornwall

Then, like a nighttime dream, summer softly slips away and passes the baton to autumn

In late summer, teachers wait at the door to learning.

Back to School Thought
During your gallery walk, were you able to

It is time to reflect.
Did you

Were you inspired by this gallery to create your own poem or inspirational quote using one of your summer photographs? Are you encouraged to design a video, movie, or multimedia presentation of your Summer 2017 for your family? 

My short video created with Magistro is here. 
Photos of Lorrie Brady, Mary C. Howard, Carol Varsalona, Terje Akke, 
Dave Burgess, Char Shyrock,  Kumud Ajmani, and Rose Pillay.


Enjoy listening to a playlist of summer songs 
through the decades.

It is my sincerest hope that your gallery walk through Sunkissed Summer was a relaxing, entertaining, and memorable experience.

I would like to extend my gratitude to all the writers, poets, artists, and photographers who joined me on this summer journey.

You can visit the following global galleries that integrate the arts, technology, and poetry by clicking on the individual titles.



Thank you for perusing Sunkissed Summer Gallery. As an act of kindness, please leave a comment on social media or in the comment section of this blog. That would be appreciated.
I invite you to return at the end of the fall season for a new gallery, Autumn Ablaze, that will showcase the brilliancy of nature. - Carol