Tuesday, November 29, 2022

My Hallmark Moment

As an adult, I have always enjoyed a memorable birthday weekend. After all, I was born on Thanksgiving. I remember one birthday during my toddler years. We were at my Nonnie's house and I was allowed to stand on the dining room chair to get a better look at the yummy cake with candles before I blew them out. I don't remember if that cake was my favorite type, an Italian rum cake also called a Cassatta cake, but I do remember how happy I was. Somewhere, there is a photo of me commemorating my birthday. That was probably my first Hallmark-moment. 

This year we celebrated my birthday the day after Thanksgiving and I felt happy being with my family for two days. As a  dedicated Hallmark channel fan, I recognize the signs of Hallmark-moments. Your Dictionary describes this as a memorial moment or event, one which would make a poignant greeting card. 

During the days leading up to Thanksgiving, I prepared by baking with freshly roasted pumpkin, creating maple roasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin bread, and cookies... {I think you deduced from this that I love roasting fresh pumpkin for baking.} If you look at my blog post, you will read about the goodies I created for family and friends. Thanksgiving was a wonderful day with the little grandgirls at their house.

The next day was my birthday and we were invited by my daughter to join them at the Reston Town Center for a morning parade and evening tree-lighting ceremony with Santa. The town center was decorated like one of the scenes in the Hallmark Christmas movies. Illuminated trees lit every street; the ice skating rink was a grand spectacle of skaters of all ages, and the little children paraded around shaking large silver bells given to them by the town. Santa and Mrs. Klaus entered the square on a large old-fashioned carriage. On the count of three, the tree was lit. Onlookers were in total amazement watching the tree turn various colors as the snow machine spread beautiful white flakes throughout the area. Music played in the background and both children and adults clapped to thank Santa. If you are a watcher of Hallmark movies, you know what this magical event looks like,

There was a sharing of smiles throughout the day.
the dark sky lights up
joyful holiday glee spreads 
santa whisks away 
©CV, 2022

May Thanksgiving become one of your blessed Hallmark-moments.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for their weekly open meeting space for a growing community of writers.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Recipe for a Mindful Work-In

Thanksgiving is always a busy holiday but such a wonderful time with family. While my Poetry Friday post is late in coming, I wanted to join in to celebrate poetic goodness. My traveling poet/teacher/friend, Ruth Hersey, is hosting today from her new residence in Uganda. She shares odes about a kitchen table with lines that illuminate the significance of daily life and family. Please travel to her blog here for a feast of poetic goodness not to be missed.

During this week, my thoughts centered on new baking recipes to dazzle the Thanksgiving table: freshly pureed pumpkin pie with an oreo crust and chocolate pecan pie with hints of whiskey. I also contemplated the Poetry Sisters' challenge to create a recipe poem with a new twist: be creative with form, length, meter, or topic using an assemblage of elements with recipe text/cooking instructions. I used the language of my recipes to create a self-care recipe poem for post-Thanksgiving. 

Back Story: This month has been filled with many events and downtime has taken a back seat. During yoga, I listened carefully to my yoga teacher's thoughts. Inspired by her inspirational thoughts, my topic evolved.  

May my recipe for a Mindful Work-In bring a plate full of zen and peace. As I write, I relax and begin a work-in practice that allows the mind to let go. The body relaxes and the soul finds inspiration in the silence of the room. 

"Silence is the eloquent expression of the inexpressible." Sri Chinmoy, poet

Recipe for a Mindful Work-In

1 quiet place to ponder
1 cup of brewed herbal tea
1 tablespoon of honey
a pinch of peace
liquid awesome
1 yoga mat

Preheat your space to relax the muscles, mind, and spirit.
Start off with a full playlist of quieting music.
Gently add a flow of soft breath.
Mix in praise-worthy raised arm movements.
Scoop up generous amounts of drishti.
Slowly whisk in bending bows.
Add 1 cup of refined liquid awesome.
Gently smooth out the process.
Pour your body onto the mat in svanasana.
After 5 minutes, release the pose.
Cool down your mind, body, and spirit in gratitude.

©CV, 2022, draft

Within silence
the mind understands what is
involved in the
quieting of senses. Eloquent
ways of expression
evolve in awareness of
what is the
©CV, 2022, draft

Thank you Poetry Sisters, Laura,  Tanita,  Mary Lee,  Liz,  Kelly,  Tricia,  Sara,  and Andi for the November Challenge to write a recipe poem. 
Thanks to Tanita for the above ad. #PoetryPals

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

With Gratitude

The week before Thanksgiving is a time of merriment, remembrance, and special thanks for what we have. There is always a busy hum throughout the house during this time period. Pans clank, cabinets displaying fine china and linens open and close, and groceries are transported from the car to the kitchen. Decorations are set in place. China turkeys filled with artificial flowers adorn the front foyer and buffet and LED candles provide low light. There are no more traces of Halloween and some small fall decorations are stored away. Herbs from the garden have been brought inside and dried for the stuffing. The kitchen becomes a mini-version of Grand Central Station with people coming and going as preparations begin for the upcoming feast. 

As I look around, I see items from my childhood displayed linking the past with the present. The kitchen looks a bit topsy-turvy because three sets of hands are active. The aroma of sweet baked items is present.  A distinctive atmosphere of gratitude flows throughout the house


The busyness of the day before Thanksgiving does not distract me from pensive thinking. I pause to remember those who came before and prepared a feast of enticing and delicious selections. I am grateful for those in the family who continue the traditions. Thanksgiving is a day of thanks that provides time to appreciate one another and the gifts bestowed on our family and friends. 

Prepare the stuffing.
Bake another pie. This one will be a new one, chocolate pecan pie with bourbon.
Pack all my offerings for Thanksgiving at my daughter and son-in-law's house.

homemade harvest treat
fresh pumpkin and chocolate
grateful thanksgiving
©CV, 2022

What's left for you to do before the feast begins?

Since I fell asleep before finishing my Slice of Life for Two Writing Teachers, I send it out now to thank my slicer friends for their weekly writing.

Friday, November 18, 2022

November Autumn

This week, fall weather reminds me of November days when I was a child in upstate New York State. Winter usually visited around Thanksgiving and continued her journey up to Easter. The weather was always the center of conversation; now, Winter's nip in the air again interrupts Autumn. Instead of crispness in the air, the shock of blowing cold air leads me to wear triple layers of clothing in the early morning even though the sun shines brightly. Leaves are crinkly and create interesting sounds as they scatter underfoot. There are no birds soaring and chirping this week. Perhaps, they realize it is time to head south. The local meteorologist predicts a long week of cold weather and snow in some areas. Luckily, the heating system keeps it warm inside the house. The beauty of the season keeps floating back into my mind

"Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit and resign yourself to the influence of the earth."  - Henry David Thoreau

For me, Nature Nurtures the Soul!

Each Wednesday, Margaret Simon posts an invitation to write alongside her at This Photo Wants to be a Poem. Yesterday, she posted a photo of a cardinal that reminded me of a winter day several years ago. A cardinal perched on my picket fence and let me approach so I could take a photograph. Below is my response to Margaret's photo, Cardinal in the Cold.

Cardinal Ponders

May you enjoy the upcoming season of joy.

For now, stroll over to Jama Rattigan's blog,  Jama's Alphabet Soup, to enjoy the Poetry Friday Roundup and Jama's beautiful spread of Thanksgiving art, desserts, and a poem that is a parody of Thanksgiving. 

Friday, November 11, 2022

Blessed and Holy

With its mixed media delights, November is Gratitude Month, a time to pause and reflect on being thankful for life's blessings. When Fran Haley, teacher-writer slicer, introduced the word holy as the prompt for the Spiritual Journey Thursday community (SJT) this month, I paused to ponder the meaning of the word in my life. Holy is a word I learned during  catechism studies as a child. As I grew, I remained in faith and heard the word holy repeated often but I never intently considered the significance of this small word. With this in mind, I searched for quotes that would bring clarity. I found one written by a revered Jewish theologian and philosopher, Abraham Joshua Heschel"Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy."  

I have tried repeatedly to "just be", meditate quietly, and pause often to find small delights  to be thankful for but my impatient side often has me racing toward a lengthy to-do list. It is difficult to just be when there is an ominous pressure surrounding me. Piles of papers dealing with household tasks and my son's disability case detract from the beauty of Thanksgiving decorations and memories of sun-golden days of autumn like the scene below.


In my last blog on gratitude, I explored the following idea by Eckhart Tolle. 
"Just be and enjoy being."

Perhaps, the act of just being is one I talk about but it is not always part of my actions. I think of myself as a work in progress, pausing, reflecting, and acting. I question the constant movement so now, I sit still in between tasks remembering the quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything this is beautiful for beauty is God's handwriting." Even the rain tapping against my windows reminds me to look and find thanks for earth's gifts. For a few minutes, I enjoy the silence after the rain. Being in the moment is a sacred act of thanksgiving.  I thank my fellow SJT writers for their perspective on Fran Haley's reverent and inspirational prompt holy that you can access here. As I reread the words of my fellow SJT writers, I discovered a line or two from each of their blogs and created a poem.

Setting the Rhythm

Open the soul to seeing.
Holiness can be found in any place.
The soul should always stand ajar, 
Ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.
Beauty is God's handwriting.
Live your life in ways that help others and
At evening's end, feel the movement of the earth
Gracefully bowing down to heaven;
Utter a silent prayer of gratitude,
worship deep, and
Be thankful for the blessings bestowed.
©CV, 2022

Line 1  Fran Haley
Line 2 Bob Arjeha
Lines 3-4 Emily Dickinson
Line 6 Bob Arjeha
Lines 7-8 Carol Varsalona
Line 11 Carol Varsalona


Enjoy your pre-Thanksgiving preparations. This time of year is always filled with the spirit of family, beauty of the earth, and blessings from a bountiful harvest.

For now, I turn my thoughts to the fabulous kidlit author, poet, and nature photographer, Buffy Silverman as the host of this week's Poetry Friday. She is sharing a sneak peek of Laura Purdie Salas' upcoming book, Finding Family. It is sure to capture the heart of readers. Please click here to access Buffy's blog post filled with more poetic goodness from the Poetry Friday community of poets.

SJT Community, I extend my apologies for 
being a week later than our due date.

Friday, November 4, 2022

Reflacting During Gratitude Month

Reflect + Act = Reflaction
Lately, I am in fast mode, moving from event to event. I am acutely aware of the lack of just-for-me and slow-down time. I wonder if I can deprogram myself from racing through life?  

Just be and enjoy being!  (Eckhart Tolle)
Be full of gratitude!
More yoga time!

Forward Steps:
Last night, I presented my second keynote address to the Reading Specialists Council of Suffolk via Zoom. I felt relieved when I finished the presentation, The Power of Writing: Inviting and Encouraging Students to Discover the Writer Within because this week was one of constant motion. Despite the exhaustion of a jam-packed week, I was grateful and honored to present my keynote to a group of interested teachers. Needless to say, I decided to relax and just be.

This afternoon, I share my thoughts through digital art, nature photography, and writing poetry. This work has had a calming effect on me.  Below is what I call a digital inspiration from the past that influences my writing since it is about gratitude.

Inspiration often comes when I look out the window and see the colors of autumn but sometimes portions of life are not inspiring. Yet, the desire to write is still there. The following quote addresses how a writer proceeds without instantaneous inspiration. Upon reflection, I realize that most of the time I am an impatient-doer writer, not a waiter.

If you wait for inspiration to write, you're not a writer; you're a waiter.
~Dan Poynter

Here is my 18th slide from last night's presentation, Inviting and Encouraging Students to Discover the Writer Within. I started with a prose piece, then followed with a free verse poem with the topic, The What of Writing.
The poem below was penned one night this week when I felt like an insomniac.

It's time to finally join my Poetry Friday friends at Heidi Mordhorst's blog, my juicy little universe. Heidi is sharing her thoughts on the importance of voting. The piece of digital art showcased explains the reasoning for Heidi's naming this year as a "life-or-death election year". Heidi also reminds us that it is Folktale Week 2022 and the writing group, the Inklings critique group's, monthly challenge.