Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Ahoy Mateys!

Last Wednesday, my little mateys, family, and I  set sail for a magical kingdom and a Disney cruise. After passing through a sky full of marshmallow clouds, we reached a turbulent zone. Without worry, we arrived safely in Orlando and embarked on our treasured vacation. There were delicious foods, exciting characters, fun-filled rides, fireworks to dazzle the crowd, and one highlight in particular, the Pirates of the Caribbean set. Although this was not the first visit to this replica of ransacked 17th Century town filled with pirates, it was the first time I saw Captain Jack Sparrow emerge from a barrel of rum. This became a prelude to an enjoyable cruise and everything on the ship dealing with the rocking pirate bash and pirate dinner followed by a skit including Captain Jack, music, and dancing. 

Step back into a 17th Century  seside town ransacked by pirates.
Do you see Captain Jack Sparrow?

Check out the fun the little grandgirls had at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
during their pirate makeovers.

Fierce Little Pirates Pose

Three Generations of Female Mateys Shout Out their Biggest Argh as Official Pirates
magical moments
argh - rowdy pirates pose
landlubbers beware
©CVarsalona, 2023

Interested in pirate resources for your classrooms or homes? 

www.pinterest.com/lady1890/all-about-being-a-pirate/  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GVRXWT5ecY

Thank you for reading my Slice of Life at Two Writing Teachers, a place where teacher writers meet and share their stories. 

Friday, January 27, 2023

Cascading Into a Magical Land

Another year is here and there are many challenges that will come our way. Hopefully, the challenges will be productive and enriching. Some may overflow with joy and others tinged with sorrow because life has a constant ebb and flow of ups and downs. Understanding that transformation is key to moving forward, I now add it to my list of descriptors for my one word 2023, Be". I am ready to sink into quiet time and remember the exhilarating feeling of the ocean tide, soon to come back again. 

Now, toward the end of January, I am still trying to "de-Christmas" my home in preparation for a long-awaited family trip with my granddaughters, 5- and 3-year-old, a delightful age to visit Mickey and Minnie in Florida. The magic of Disney World will be our fairy tale story as our family enters a whole new world of imagination on site and then, off to the new cruise line, The Wish. We have waited several years for this moment that is happening due to the efforts of my daughter. My biggest wish is that COVID does not join the Magic Kingdom and our first  cruise trip.

Since I will be with the family when the Poetry Sisters showcase their January challenge on the January 27th Poetry Friday, I decided to play with a new poetic format, a  CASCADE poem prior to the family trip.

The Cascade form takes every line from the stanza of your poem and TRANSFORMS those lines into the final lines of each stanza thereafter. Beyond that, there are no additional rules, just a request.Try to incorporate the idea or word transformation as you write. 

A Magical Wish

I wished upon a star long ago
baby girls transformed into toddlers
Minnie Mouse parades into their lives

their world cascaded into a magical waterfall
experiences flowed in a continual stream
I wished upon a star long ago

now they dream of a magical kingdom
and a cruise line where wishes come true when
baby girls transformed into toddlers

they dress in matching Minnie outfits
fly into a magical  land of imagination where
Minnie Mouse parades into their lives
©CVarsalona, 2023, draft

Thank you to the wonderful Jan Annino from the Sunshine State for hosting Poetry Friday with an interesting brief look at the talented poet/author Sharon Lovejoy.

This post was written prior to today.
My family just left  Disney World and are traveling to Disney’s new cruise boat, The Wish. Since there will be very limited internet connections on the ship I will most likely read the Poetry Friday blogs on Monday and Tuesday of next week.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

From Rushed to Relaxed

Excitement is in the air but so is stress. We are leaving for Disney World followed by a cruise to the Bahamas on the new Disney Wish boat. While we are genuinely excited to visit Disney World with the family and the little grandgirls, we feel a bit hurried. The weather decided to play a trick and dip down to the 40ish degree temperature at night while sailing to the Bahamas. That means rethinking packing. We are not good packers, to begin with, and there is still a good deal to do before we board the plane to Florida on Wednesday morning.

My son had a bad respiratory virus last week and just finished his meds when my husband started coughing throughout the night. Now, he starts meds tomorrow and that leaves me but I am feeling fine. There has to be some gratefulness and so, I indulge in a manicure/pedicure. Ah, relaxation is a gift. The lotions smell wonderful and the massage chair offers a chance to slow down and de-stress. I imagine the warmth of the sun surrounding me.

wishing for warmth
in the midst of winter's grasp
peaceful prospect
nature offers a reprieve
turquoise waters and sunshine
©CVarsalona, 2023
Image by buckeyebeth from Pixabay

The radio airs an ad about a vacation. I hear the word blissful describing a trip. It sounds delightful and adds a layer of peaceful contemplation. I drift into the act of "just being". Time moves from hurried to tranquil. The aroma of floral products fills the air. The Vietnamese New Year decor adds a touch of festivity and remembrance of the Chinese New Year parades we enjoyed in New York City. feeling renewed. From rushed to relaxed, I walk out the door feeling renewed. 

©CVarsalona, 2023, digital art

Thank you for reading my Slice of Life at Two Writing Teachers, a place where teacher writers meet and share their stories. 

Friday, January 20, 2023

De-Christmasing My House

I am in the last stages of "de-Christmasing" my house and I can feel the creativity draining. Maybe it is because I just finished three days of stretching, pumping, and yoga. My muscles are sore. I am tired and it is difficult to look at one mess after another in the different rooms of the house. Below is a sample of what I mean. This messy table is not as cluttered as other spaces but it still is annoying, especially since we are moving into the latter part of January now. 

I ponder what to do. Maybe I should laugh, not cry, as an option. This would help me to not stare at the mess. I need a spark of joy! I know - take a simple be and breath moment. Add a few additional moments by looking through my blog drafts and finding just one that fits my mood. Ah, yes, I have been waiting to write a triolet for months but keep shying away from the different steps in the format.

What is a triolet? It is an eight-line poem (or stanza) with a rhyme scheme of ABaAabAB: The first line is repeated in the fourth and seventh lines and the second line is also the last line (the capital letters indicate repeating lines). I scour the internet looking for a cheat sheet that tells me what to do, line by line. Voila, I found it. 

  1.  1. The first line (A)
  2. 2. The second line (B)
  3. 3. The third line rhymes with the first (a)
  4. 4. Repeat the first line (A)
  5. 5. The fifth line rhymes with the first (a)
  6. 6. The sixth line rhymes with the second line (b)
  7. 7. Repeat the first line (A)
  8. 8. Repeat the second line (B)

The next step is to look inside my winter decoration box sitting in the dining room for artifacts that would spark a thought. I want to write a poem that is light-hearted and humorous. A few hours later, some thoughts come to mind.  I'm not a funny person by nature but I made an attempt. The joke's on me.

De-Christmasing is my current chore,
not taken lightly by the designer.
Take down, and or, add some more.
De-Christmasing is my current chore.
Sometimes, I think it's quite a bore
because there's no willing partaker.
De-Christmasing is my current chore,
not taken lightly by the creator.
©CVarsalona, 2023


I look up at the clock and realize it is past midnight and officially Poetry Friday. A new poet friend, children's book author, and fabulous photographer, Marcie Flinchum Atkins offers the roundup on her blog. Click here to see more than a dozen poets who add their posts on the link-up page. Today, Marcie offers another one of her haiku moments and her book, Wait, Rest, Pause - Dormancy in Nature. Enjoy reading poetry!


I'm off to Disney World where the family will share the magic and wonder of an enchanted land, the Magic Kingdom followed by a cruise on the new ship, The Wish. We have waited patiently for the little grandgirls to be old enough to enjoy Disney World. I have a post ready for next Friday since it will be the end of the month with a new challenge offered by the Poetry Sisters. I just have to decide the logistics of how to send my post before the cruise begins on Friday. My responses to other blogs will be late but I look forward to all poetic goodness as I will for this week's Poetry Friday. 

I am happy to note that Bridget Magee, poet, editor, publisher, and teacher debuted her newest poetry anthology, Two Truths and a Fib Poetry Anthology, on January 1st. Check out Bridget's Facebook page to follow the Two Truths and a Fib-o-Rama where you can get acquainted with the poets whose poems are included in the book. My dedicated place in the Fib-O-Rama is coming soon. I am grateful to Bridget for her amazing work on this anthology. The book is filled with wonderful poems and a mystery to solve on what are the truths and the fib in each author's bio. Today, Margaret Simon is showcased.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

A Three-Year-Old Surprise Birthday

Can we ever get enough of the magic of Christmas and Santa himself? I firmly believe in spreading Christmas joy during the holidays right up to the feast of Little Christmas on January 6th, the Epiphany. But now the family has extended the wonder of Christmas to our sweet little Aurora's third birthday with her Lil' Christmas party on January 9th. 

As elf helpers, we arrived early to decorate specifically for the party. My daughter's house was already beautifully decked in red and green from the holidays. The live balsam Christmas tree stood in the center of the room. We were told Santa would arrive earlier than we thought, so we needed to work fast. 

Santa was able to catch a reindeer ride to Reston, Virginia before the children arrived home from their daycare school. He appeared to be calm and even took a quick snooze while sitting up. When the birthday girl and her older sister arrived, Santa was ready to enjoy himself with the little ones for at least an hour until the reindeer came back for the return trip. To this day, if you ask Aurora who was at her party, she reports, "Santa". 

Santa surprise gift
children stare or jump for joy
reindeer transport waits
©CVarsalona, 2023

Can you imagine what this wonder-filled party meant to a three-year-old? Santa will never forget his good deed on Aurora's big day. 

Ho-ho-ho! 2023 is going to be a good year for all the little children!

I now join Two Writing Teachersa global community of teacher-writers,
for Tuesday's Slice of Life.
The good news is that I am not racing against the clock to submit my slice.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Poetry as a Gift

It is mid-January and I still feel the holiday spirit. It exists in my heart. As I "de-Christmas" my house, I muse on how putting away Christmas items is a labor of love. I appreciate each wonderful piece I've collected over the years. The beautiful poetry postcards and swap gifts that arrived from friends across the states not only are wrapped surprises offering delight and wonder but they are now part of my treasured poetry collection.

Today, I share the Holiday Poem Swap organized by Tabatha Yeats.
My swap partner is Gail Aldous.

Check out this gift, a bountiful mix of hibiscus herbal tea, colorful bookmarks, a journal with Gail's favorite quotes, fragrant oatmeal/honey soap, a card, and two poems both focusing on nature.
Seasons is a full collage, poster size focusing on each season and what it brings. Please see the poem that offers spring floating in, summer whispering, autumn painting, and winter waltzing.
Snowgirl Tanka allows me to visualize a peaceful winter day with snow. Isn't the bookmark adorable? I am grateful for Gail's creativity offering her poetic goodness.

A quote by Louie Schwartzberg that inspires me is, “Nature's beauty is a gift that cultivates appreciation and gratitude." The poems Gail wrote for me incorporate one of my loves, the seasons, a gift of nature. The collage poster Gail created shares the various seasons with their changing colors and landscapes. Below is another example of nature's beauty, a full moon.  

Are you transfixed by the moon's luminescence? I love to stare into the night sky and feel its peaceful gift. Yesterday, Margaret Simon showcased a beautiful image of the moon photographed by Jone Rush MacCulloch. She asked observers to write a small poem of presence for This Photo wants to be a Poem challenge.
Full Wolf Moon
layered in velvet
night frames a glowing wolf moon
winter winds howl
heavenly art brushes sky
luminescent beauty reigns
©CVarsalona, 2023

Look what came in the mail? Thank you, Bridget Magee for creating, editing, and publishing such a fabulous poetry anthology. I look forward to ready fellow poets' entries. My two truths and a fib poems are entitled Kindergarten.


At the close of a long day, I abide by Gail's thoughts inside the journal. One of her inspirational quotes is "I inhale peace and exhale worry." Tonight, I am appreciative of the gifts bestowed on me. Tomorrow, I will continue "de-Christmasing" my house. I now join fellow writers at Chicken Spaghetti where Susan Thomsen is the host of Poetry Friday this week.

Friday, January 6, 2023

Trilogy of Thought for 2023

This holiday season was full of activities, ups and downs, a good amount of decorating and baking, and constant motion. It brought joy, happiness, and even stress but it all was worthwhile. The family was together celebrating good news: a new little one will join the extended family this year. Change happens and in our family it brings a small blessing through the grace of God.

Now, in the midst of de-Christmasing the house, the idea of change seems very appealing. There is clarity to my thoughts. I have a new direction ushered in by my days of pondering on a new one word. Hopefully, my one little word will bring a slow-down pace and a mindful flow to the year. My thoughts are clear. 

You may enjoy reading the poems I created this week that lead up to the unveiling of my one word. Part 1 began with my slice of life, Thoughts for 2023. Part 2, Spiritual Journey - 2023 One Word Guide, unveiled my new word, Be

Today, I offer:

My 2023 Mantra"Just Be" - In stillness and peace or strife, reflect on renewing my commitment to change behaviors that need transformation.

My Proposed ActionPrepare daily for change, renewal, and peace. Reflect on my collection of one words: 

opennesslisten, believe, joyhope, embracebalancebeginappreciate, and Be

winter stops to look
hovers over a stilled lake
New Year reflection
©CVarsalona, 2023


Do you know that Bridget Magee, poet, teacher, and editor published a new poetry anthology, Two Truths and a Fib? She is honoring the poets who contributed their poems to her amazing endeavor each day in January. Check out the line-up of poets and their truths and fibs on her Wee Words for Wee Ones  Facebook page. I am grateful to Bridget for adding me to her Two Truths and a Fib-O-Rama. As soon as my copy of the book comes in the mail, I will review it and post my review on my blog. In the meantime, watch the trailer here.


Finally, I am ready to join the Poetry Friday Round-up at Catherine Flynn's blog, Reading to the Core. It is serendipitous that Catherine has been talking about change with her writing group, The Inklings. I am excited to read each one of their poems on change and find more poetic goodness in the writings of many friends in the poet community. 

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Spiritual Journey - 2023 One Word Guide

As the new year opens, one word reveals itself as my guide on my 2023 spiritual journey. In anticipation of this wonder-filled event, I open my heart and mind to accept not a resolution but a guiding spirit. A word as quiet as a winter forest in early morning evolves. It swirls in wonder, colors the sky in imagination, and settles in a pillowed corner of content. In a dreamlike state, it opens in a restful pose. One word, newly added to my one word list echoes the thought of the "most inspiring and visionary spiritual teachers in the world today", Eckhart Tolle

Just be and enjoy being!  
- Eckhart Tolle

What I Know About My 2023 One Word

Be is a guiding spirit.
In the yoga studio, it appears as presence on my mat.
 In life, Be, will slow down my continual hurried pace
through the power of now.
Am I ready for this challenge?
It has been a long time coming.
I lean on the Lord, reminded of His words:
"Be still, and know that I am God!
Be strong and of good courage;
Be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed:
for the Lord, thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest."*
©CVarsalona, 2023
*Bible Verses

To Be Present

open your heart
fully listen
believe in faith
find joy's presence

reach out for hope
embrace the now
seek life's balance
pause and begin

just being!
be true to you
throughout this year
©CVarsalona, 2023
4x4 poem

May this year provide a journey of wonder and surprise
as I allow my one word, be, to guide my spiritual journey. 
In a quiet room, I write with the muse on my shoulder and the spirit of love and peace above.
I look forward to joining the Spiritual Journey First Thursday community hosted by teacher/author/poet Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche.
Here poetic goodness and spiritual enrichment flow.

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Thoughts for 2023

After what seems to be a long wait, the new year is here.  During the past month, I mulled over my past "one words" to guide my new year. As I listened to news reports and read articles on New Year's resolutions, I wondered why the one word phenomenon was not mentioned. After all, since 2014, I have changed my thoughts on resolutions that come and go. Instead of temporary, well-meaning thoughts, I add one word to guide my journey. This word follows me throughout the year and opens possibilities for me. I look back on my list and realize that each year's one word seems to build on the next. In 2021 AARP stated, "Picking a word of the year can bring clarity and focus to who we want to become and what we want to accomplish in life." Below is the digital art with all my one words created in Bunceeopenness (2014)listen (2015)believe (2016)joy (2017)hope (2018)embrace 
(2019), balance (2020), begin (2021), and appreciate (2022).

By chance, I found a Dolly Parton song, "When Life Is Good Again", that she wrote with Kent Wells. The song with its lyrics made me think about life. The past few years have been a difficult journey for most people and now with the resurgence of another strain of COVID, plus the violence that has occurred, people need to rebuild their faith in humanity. Please listen to the song and 

Below is my prewrite, a poem to usher in my one word for 2023. It just so happens that nature played a role in uncovering my word on a day, unlike other New Year's Day. Instead of winter-like weather, we enjoyed a spring-like day. Spirits were high. Life felt good again.

Enter 2023
wrapped in sunshine
feel spring breeze through trees
design a baseline
as darkness fades into light
life feels good again
sit in stillness, prewrite
fill my space with zen
be more humane and kind
find ways to right wrong
leave heartaches behind
rejoice in birdsong,
then, snuggle into winter
energizing my soul
breathe in sprinter
©CVarsalona, 2022

Join me this week when I reveal my one word for 2023. 
If you have chosen one, please share it.
Let 2023 be the year for change, renewal, and peace!

Thank you for reading my Slice of Life. I am once again sliding into the midnight hour at Two Writing Teachers blog site, a place where teacher writers meet and share their stories. 

Happy New Years to All!