Saturday, July 21, 2018

Celebrate Zen Moments

Did it really take a car accident, to slow me down, encourage me to keep an even keel, and remind me to celebrate life living moments in a zen-like way? 

In trying to release the negative tension, I found a poem to ponder.

My Legacy
by Ryokan, Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf

My legacy —
What will it be?
Flowers in spring,
The cuckoo in summer,
And the crimson maples
Of autumn...

With hope as my one word to guide my year, I opened my mind, heart, and being to be filled with zen moments of inner peace, happiness, joy, gratitude, awareness for living in the present. 

Some of my zen moments this week:
~ using a bit of humor in writing a blog post, It's Hot!
~ a leisurely drive with my husband to the Long Island Sound in Connecticut to attend a Scholastic Book Summit and while on the overnight trip, photographing a still moment 
~ observing nature 
~ virtually enjoying my grandbaby's first steps via a video

These simple life living moments allowed me to slow down to enjoy the present.
Happiness and peace were the rewards for savoring life's precious moments.

My legacy -
capturing nature-driven,
life living moments
to savor, write on the wind,
and let soar
so voice can rise
and fill life spaces with peace.
©CVarsalona, 2018

With this hopeful, reimagined life plan, I celebrate this week with Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu writing community. 

Please share your concept of the art of summering with me at #TheArtofSummering
for a summer gallery of artistic expressions. 
Below are recent nature photographs sent to me.

These delightful life living moment stills invite you express yourself poetically.
Are you interested in penning a poem to accompany one of these photos?

Friday, July 20, 2018

One Afternoon: Then and Now

As I looked out over the Long Island Sound from the Connecticut shore a few days ago, I noticed how still it appeared. The sky had an azure tint with soft clouds floating like cotton balls. The water surrounding the sleek sailboats rippled ever so slightly. It was if nature had taken a paint brush to enhance the scene. Through the magic of digital tools, I was able to transform the marina scene into one that an artist might envision.

Intrigued by the area, I researched poetry written about the Long Island Sound and found the following, beautifully-crafted poem by Emma Lazarus. It may have been written from her family's summer cottage where poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, Lazarus' mentor, was a visitor. Through Lazarus' words, I was able to see Long Island Sound from her 19th century perspective.

Long Island Sound
by Emma Lazarus

I see it as it looked one afternoon 
In August,—by a fresh soft breeze o’erblown. 
The swiftness of the tide, the light thereon, 
A far-off sail, white as a crescent moon. 
The shining waters with pale currents strewn, 
The quiet fishing-smacks, the Eastern cove, 
The semi-circle of its dark, green grove. 
The luminous grasses, and the merry sun
In the grave sky; the sparkle far and wide,
Laughter of unseen children, cheerful chirp
Of crickets, and low lisp of rippling tide,
Light summer clouds fantastical as sleep
Changing unnoted while I gazed thereon.
All these fair sounds and sights I made my own.
I shall study Lazarus' format in the days to come to write a poem about the Long Island Sound as a comparison to what Lazarus saw.  If anyone of my poet friends can shed light on the format, other than enjambment, that Lazarus used for this poem, I would be interested. While the poem looks like it is a sonnet, it has a different type of rhyme scheme.
In the meantime, I will travel to my poet friend, Heidi Mordhorst's blog site, "my juicy little universe," where she is describing her week-long professional development in Chicago at the Summer Poetry Teachers' Institute.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

It's Hot!

Summer heat lays heavily this morning. 
Instead of an energetic beginning of the day, there was a lethargic feeling. 


Long dog days,
   Marked by record heat, come as

Early-arrival weather,
   Scorching and sizzling.

Todders run with  glee,
   Shouting, "It's hot."

Heat continues all day,
   Slowing down life's pace but

Ants continue to scurry-
   Heat resistant critters.

Riled by the heat wave,
   Residents up their air conditioning,

Gauge their temperament 
   By the thermometer, and 

Yearn for cooling rain
   To regain energy levels.


Tips to Beat the Heat!

Not only stay hydrated and cool, eat lots of greens, but give yourself a treat.
It's National Ice Cream Month!


The above poem is a modification of an acrostic poem. 
The first letter of each stanza spells out the poem's subject.

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

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Expecting the Good

Life is fragile and uncertain and it only takes a few seconds to have it turned upside down. Two days ago, on an ordinary summer day, I felt the wind knocked out of me as I faced a surrealistic experience that left me shaken and in flux. 


There was not a single sound in my neighborhood as I started the car to pick up my son at work. It was just an ordinary summer day, the kind in which I should have been in slow down mode. Distracted, I reached for a cherry, unaware that this would be the catalyst for a chain of events that turned a sunny day into a nightmarish experience. 


It was quick. I watched in horror as I was hurled forward and quickly thrown back. A loud sound shocked me into reality - I hit a tree! In a stupor, I grasped for my phone to call my husband. Neighbors came rushing out. Tears streamed. Disbelief! In a few minutes, my husband was by my side along with police medics and firemen. Pain shot out from different parts of my body as I was immobilized and whisked away. 


Upon arrival at the medical center, I was quickly transported from the ambulance to the hospital trauma center. A team of specialists, similar to what you see on a medical TV show, hovered over me trying to ascertain what I felt and how best to handle the situation. 

"What happened?  What do you remember?"

It was then that I realized it was Friday the 13th and voiced it to make light of the situation. The lead doctor comforted me as the team spoke about the number of car accidents that happened. I paused to remain strong in faith and expect the good! 


It only takes seconds to turn your life around. This thought kept running through my head as panic started to swell. Remember your breath, fight through the disbelief, expect the good played over and over in my mind as my stretcher moved from the trauma center to the catscan and into xray. I held onto my faith, thankful for the team of diligent and caring medical professionals. Facing all of this was difficult but feeling supported eased the sting of the pain.


Day 2: 
I lay here reflecting on yesterday's chain of event. 
I think of the life lessons I learned: 
-Be mindful. 
-Remain in the present at all times.
-Do not be distracted by other thoughts. 
-Remain calm-remember my yoga breath. 
-Continue to be faith-filled and hopeful.
-Always wear a seat-belt (it was the belt that protected me)

Next, I read July 13's inspiration from my "God Calling" book and realize how serendipitous and comforting the thought, "Expect the Good,"  is. 

"Can you get the expectant attitude of faith? Not waiting for the next evil to befall you but awaiting with a child's joyful trust the next good in store." - A.J. Russell 

I walked away from yesterday's a horrible experience understanding that faith carried me through a nightmarish Friday the 13th and that I need to make some life changes


With an Important Message

"Happy Be Careful for the Rest of Your Life Day"


Day 3:
Today, I am thankful that I have no broken bones and no negative prognosis. My body is sore as to be expected but Ibuprofen helps. What doesn't help is that I keep replaying the accident to the point of having continuous nightmares. What I need to do is to not dwell on the accident and find peace with what happened. That is difficult but I must remember to always expect the good with a hopeful heart and a positive attitude. This is an important step on the road to change.  


At the end of this unexpected series of weekend events, I celebrate the act of expecting the good in life with Ruth Ayres' community of writers, Celebrate This Week

Friday, July 13, 2018

Giving and Receiving

“To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.”

Mark Twain's inspirational quote above is one that applies to how I feel about the Poetry Friday community. Among the poets, there are joyful conversations and rich poetry; there are poetry swaps that extend friendship and encourage creativity, and there are digital inspirations, image poems offered for my galleries of artistic expressions. Joy abounds at Poetry Friday every Friday and is exchanged in the process of giving and receiving.

As a curator of artistic expressions, I continually promote the uplifting of voice around the globe in hopes of spreading poetry love. I encourage others to take gallery walks into serenity each season through the galleries I create. This week with passion and pride I unveiled my Sense-sational Spring Gallery with one hundred and ten voices that included bloggers, poets, writers, artists, photographers, and students. 

The Poetry Friday community was the biggest supporter of this gallery so I am grateful to all my fellow poets who with grace, resolve, and creativity provided their poetic thoughts. Many thanks are extended to the following poets for their individual image poems and/or their contributions to the 2018 Progressive Poem.


2018 Summer Poetry Swap
Created and facilitated by Tabatha Yeatts

Image result for 2018 summer poetry swap yeatts

I am the lucky recipient of a wonderfully hand-crafted, paper crafting gift from my poet pal, Linda Mitchell (whom I have been eagerly awaiting a meet-up when I visit my grandbaby in Virginia). She included four poems, one for each season, under each delicate paper collage that she created. The summer poem will grace The Art of Summering Gallery and the others will be shown throughout the year. 

Being a fan of hand-crafted products, I have to say Linda outdid herself with this poetry swap. Each one of her poems was equally beautiful in their design and sentiment and all followed the format that is shown above. 

Beside this packet of four Etsy-like, paper craft, poem surprises, there was a glossy poetry postcard with a poem titled "Flight Plan" and a hand-written note on the back: 
Carol, I'm so enjoying some paper crafting for our poetry exchange. I just had to write about the seasons for you. Linda Mitchell

Linda captured the spirit of giving and I enjoyed the fruits of her labor. Referring back to the Twain quote, I received the full value of joy of this week by providing a gallery walk into serenity at Sense-sational Spring Gallery and receiving an amazing poetry swap gift. 


To round off joyful thoughts this Friday, you can join me at Sylvia Vardell's blog, Poetry for Children, where she is beaming with pride over the release of the book she and Janet Wong have published.

I am eager to read through this book because I believe it is going to change the concept of principals' morning announcements. With this book in hand, principals will be able to provide a poetic lens into the people and places in schools that contribute to joyful education. I am proud and honored to be included as one of the 50+ poets who contributed to this book and will be one of the bloggers on the Great Morning Blog Tour. 

Beyond the poems that were written, Janet and Sylvia have added "Did You Know" and "Follow Up" paragraphs so that principals can easily prep for the Poetry Friday announcement. There is even a sample read aloud by Principal Steven Wilfing of Stony Brook Elementary School in Pennington, New Jersey included in the form of a short video. What can be more fun than to arrive at school this fall and listen to Great Morning poems read by the principal who is the lead modeler in the school? Thank you Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Tick Tock

Trying to beat the clock.
Time moves on. Tick. Tock. 
Why the rush? 
Why the fuss?
Life goes on.
Oops, a yawn.
Time to quit.
Hit submit.
Off it goes.
With no woes.

That sums up my process to most writing these days. Little did I know when I said I would write every day, how important that move would be. There seems to be a better flow to my writing now, probably because I am committed to writing. There also seems to be an excitement for hitting the computer keys or scribbling on papers that get lost in my notebooks. Sometimes, I pause to organize the mess in my office but creative chaos seems to be the mode of operation at this time. It is not ideal but it works for me.

Tonight, I was in a rush to send off my writing, Sense-sational Spring Gallery. I set a deadline for myself but did not realize how much content was to be included in the post. With contributions from one hundred and ten poets, bloggers, writers, photographers, artists, and students, I knew I would need extra time, lots of patience, and a dose of perseverance before unveiling this work.  

I think of my Sense-sational Spring Gallery as a tour into serenity. The visual displays are gorgeous and the writing takes away the sting of a false start to spring. (Do you remember my hashtag, #winterinspring?) With so much negativity and issues in this world of today, we need time to sit back and savor life,  observe the beauty of the world, and bring hope into living. As I designed my gallery, I realized that I could escape into the world of inspirational thoughts by a click of a camera, the stroke of a pen, and the sharing of colleagues' work. 
Writing is about looking at the world with a new lens; opening the door to fresh thoughts; persevering in the midst of challenge.
I dedicate my gallery work to those whose artistic talents bring the best of their talents to social media. (If you stroll over to the gallery, you will see writing by some slicers or poets that you know.) It is my hope that my writing and what I have curated will lead others to take a relaxed tour on a quiet summer day through my gallery recalling your own springtime memories. Perhaps, you will be inspired to create a poem based on one of the photographs or take photos of the ordinary that exists around you.

Time to wander off to sleep and feel pleased that my work is done for the day. Tomorrow will be another day to observe the world and fill my notebook with new thoughts. But wait, there is one more click I need to do. It's Tuesday and that means I must wander over to Two Writing Teachers to offer a slice of today's life moments.  


Monday, July 9, 2018

Sense-sational Spring Gallery Unveiled

Designed and Curated by Carol Varsalona
featuring a Community of Reflective Poets, Photographers, and Artists


Spring is when life's alive in everything. - Christina Rossetti

April is typically earth's time of renewal when spring starts to come alive. Oddly enough, this year the season was on slow speed. Marked by a winter in spring attitude, parts of the USA found Mother Nature sprinkling her powdery dust before she donned her full bloom attire.

daybreak dusting
early morning surprise-
winter in april
Photo and poem by Spiri Howard


Then, with an air of expectancy, the rains came to greet Long Island. The quenched earth showed signs of awakening. Hearts swayed to the beat of Mother's Nature's promise as her soft breath gently sent the winds to breath in new life.

Gardens were perfumed with a fresh fragrance and outlooks on life changed.
Flowers saluted the sun. Dandelions flourished. Spring transformed the landscape.
Act 1:
Elusive Spring stretches, awaked.
She offers another sunless day.
Cheerily, cherup, cherup, Robin sings.
Act II
Afternoon brings fresh perspectives.
Sun moves through
Leaving us breathless for more.
Late afternoon, bees dance across dandelions.
Violas stand prim and proper.
Sun spills herself everywhere...
©Michelle Kogan
Pause to Listen
Terje Akke, Estonia


"Forgetting oneself, becoming the world for a moment: Wonder."
-Jeannine Atkins

Jeannine Atkins, Massachusetts


Looking back on the spring season, recall your senses awakening. 


Stroll through the spring gallery with a new lens on everyday life. 
First Stop
Long Island, New York where I live
Laura Hill Timpanaro
Kay McGriff
2nd Stop
New England

3rd Stop - East Coast USA


North Carolina
South Carolina

4th Stop - Midwest USA


5th Stop - Southern USA 
6th Stop - Western USA 

Linda Baie - Denver, Colorado

7th Stop - West Coast USA


8th Stop - Canada

9th Stop - Europe

10th Stop - Middle East

11th Stop - Asia
12th Stop - Oceania


Gardening Joy

Being one with nature- 
a rite of spring,
a seasonal delight
connecting human lives,
channeling peaceful living,
Being one with nature-
a restorative practice
flowing from Mother Earth
nurturing natural life
from seed to fruition.
©CVarsalona, 2018
Joy Andrews
Terje Akke - Estonia


Sunrise and Sunset Moments

The sky takes on shades of orange during sunrise and sunset, the color that gives you hope that the sun will set only to rise again. -Ram Charan


Musical Interlude

Listen to the Sense-sational Spring Gallery Playlist here.


2018 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem

Poet's Jasmine, Blooming Lovely

Nestled in her cozy bed, a seed stretched.
Oh, what wonderful dreams she'd had!

Blooming in midnight moonlight, dancing with
the pulse of a thousand stars, sweet Jasmine
invented a game.

“Moon?” she called across warm honeyed air.
“I’m sad you’re alone; come join Owl and me.
We’re feasting on stardrops, we’ll share them with you.”

“Come find me,” Moon called, hiding behind a cloud.

Secure in gentle talons’ embrace, Jasmine rose
and set. She split, twining up Owl’s toes, pale
moonbeams sliding in between, Whoosh, Jasmine goes.
Owl flew Jasmine between clouds and moon to Lee’s party!
Moon, that wily bright balloon, was NOT alone.
                           Jas grinned,




                                                                       a new,


a trellis Sky held out to her, made of braided wind and song.
Her green melody line twisted and clung.

Because she was twining poet’s jasmine, she
wiggled a wink back at Moon, and began her poem.
Her whispered words floated on a puff of wind,
filled with light and starsong. “Revelers, lean in –
let’s add to this merriment a game that grows
wordgifts for Lee. He’s a man who knows
selection, collection, and wisely advising
these dreamers, word-weavers, and friends.”

Jas enfolded Moon-Sky-Owl into the cup of her petals,
lifted new greens to the warming rays of spring. Sun
smeared the horizon with colour, as Jasmine stretched.
She felt powerful. She felt fresh. She bloomed and took a breath
and filled the earth with a fragrance all her own. 

Written by the following poets according to the number of the line they each penned:
Jane at Raincity Librarian
Michelle at Today's Little Ditty
Jan at bookseedstudio
Irene at Live Your Poem
Linda at TeacherDance
Janet F. at LiveYour Poem
11 Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales
12 Carol at Beyond LiteracyLink
13 Linda at A Word Edgewise
15 Donna at Mainely Write
16 Sarah at Sarah Grace Tuttle
18 Christie at Wondering and Wandering
19 Michelle at Michelle Kogan
20 Linda at Write Time
23 Amy at The Poem Farm
24 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
25 Kiesha at Whispers from the Ridge
26 Renee at No Water River
27 Buffy at Buffy's Blog
28 Kat at Kat'sWhiskers
29 April at Teaching Authors
30 Doraine at Dori Reads


Ekphrastic Poetry
Poetry inspired or stimulated by a work of art


Inspiration to Live By



Springtime Walks Inspire Artists and Writers


Children's Corner

Buncee Creations below - to learn more about Buncee click here.
The above three Buncees were created by the young poets in Mrs. Monti's Class, Florida
Michael Dresek's Class
Devin Hartnett, Washington, DC
Wyman's Wonders - Kinder Poets
from Teacher Modeling
to Student Drafts
to Poetry that Makes Voices Soar


Digital Art

Yes, let's celebrate life and look back to

In spring, the world evolves in shades of changing color for all to appreciate.
May we continue to honor the earth and preserve its beauty.


Please take a moment to thank the amazing contributors of the 
Sense-sational Spring Gallery for bringing joy into the world by leaving a comment on social media or in the comment section. This would be most appreciated.

Correction: Ellison, Akilah


Thank  You for joining me on my Sense-sational Spring Gallery tour. 
Each season, the gallery concept that I began in 2014 grows in volume. 
May it continue to provide a joyful reading experience and inspire poetic writing,
as it fills social media with beautifully crafted digitals that honor artistic voice.


peacefully glide through life
savoring earth's beauty


Archived Galleries

If you click on a specific title you will be directed to that gallery.





Sense-sational Spring