Tuesday, January 30, 2024

January Poetic Journal Entries

Winter winds flutter side to side with quick, light movements. They slip through the night, bringing chilling weather. Even the inside of the house feels cool. Morning wakeups are challenging. I grab layers of workout clothes and rush to various exercise programs. Just like me, January has its own routines.

Below is the continuation of a series of Elfchen poems for this year's poetic journal. You can read the initial poems that show the transition from the end of December 2023 to the beginning of January 2024 by clicking here.

winter wind
awakens the earth
January's chilled breath whispers 
©CVarsalona, January 2024

sweeps in
like a cloud
mystifying my quiet neighborhood
©CVarsalona, January 2024
Photo by Derek Varsalona, January 2024

This month, two snowstorms arrived, followed by heavy rain, fog, brisk winds, and a few magical spring-like days. During these blasts of weather changes, I enjoy watching the landscape change.

Today, there is a gray sky looming above. Something is brewing. The temperature is lowering. It is time to listen to the weather report.  

Soon, the Ground Hog will make his weather prediction. Check on February 2nd if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow.

I am eager to visit the Two Writing Teachers community  tonight because before today I have not been able to find time to write a Slice of Life. For those educators who live in snowy areas, stay warm by the fireplace (like I am tonight).

Friday, January 26, 2024

Winter Transition: Poetic Journal

Winter enters each year searching for different designs to dress Earth in style. She whispers, roars, or spins new tales with the weather as her topic. Recently, Winter chose a frosted blue color to match the recent meteorological changes, two snowstorms with schools closed and rain following. The fireplace warms the house as I sit quietly writing. Several projects are available to work on, one of which is the digital journal I started before the end of 2023 and Jone Rush McCulloch's New Year Poetry Postcard project. 

🌲 Winter Transition: Poetic Journal🌲 

One Year To The Next 

of-year reflections
one word thoughts
wait for 2023's nearing

countdown pairs
with Waterford crystals
bidding 2023 a cheerful

gloriously arrives 
with cheering fanfare
and colorful worldwide celebrations

breath breathes
slowly before introducing
2024 wishes of hope

winter storms
sweep across states
roaring as 2024 continues

©CVarsalona, 2023-2024, Elfchen poem series

The Poetry Sisters' January 2024 Challenge

The ekphrastic poem below is offered to The Poetry Sisters, TanitaLauraMary LeeLizSaraTricia, and Kelly, invited for their January Challenge. They are celebrating paper artwork on pinantas by the imaginative artist, Roberto Benavidez.

"Play celebrates the power of imagination and the child in all of us." 
-Roberto Benavidez Craft in America

It's time to join the Poetry Friday Roundup at our host, Susan Thomsen's blog, Chicken Spaghetti. You can read her original poem, Ano Nuevo which is a response to the Poetry Sisters' January Challenge. 

Friday, January 19, 2024

It's a Snow Day

Snow fell silently in the night becoming the first snowfall this year. I was surprised when I woke to a beautiful scenario. Fresh white snow blanketed Earth reminding me of New York winters.

First Snowfall

winter storm
breaks the record
newborn snow cradles earth
©CVarsalona, January 2024
brings smiles
to grandgirls' faces
even in the cold
©CVarsalona, January 2024

Winter's Second Shift
watercolor scene
evokes fond memories
of pristine virgin snow 
©CVarsalona, January 2024

Snow still falls late on this winter afternoon. There has been a steady stream of downward movement. Only the plowed streets show the wear of trodden movements. It's quiet and serene. No sounds break the silence that nature provides. Peace on Earth is gratefully accepted, as is another artistically rendered peaceful scene sent to me from artist/poet, Michelle Kogan.
old growth forests...
let's flourish them through many
©Michelle Kogan


After a long week of snow cancellations, doctor visits, and family paperwork, I am pleased to enjoy a few moments of nature's peaceful snowstorm (#2) with Poetry Friday's host Robyn Hood Black. As I and two neighbors prepare to host our community's Winter Wonderland Tea Party, I am also pleased to read through Robyn's Tea Time blog. What a serendipitous happening!
Thank you Robyn for this beautiful translated haiku by Issa.
rising into
the year's first sky...
tea smoke

There's more poetic goodness at Robyn's blog, Life at the Deckle Edge. Enjoy the weekend. Snow seems to be the major headline in many parts of the USA.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

A Winter Pause

As winter moves on, it finds a cozy corner to snuggle while temperatures in Virginia move from extremely cold to a high of 46 degrees, making it feel like spring (until the wind starts blowing). I pause each day either bundled up in layers, splashing under the pounding rainstorms, scraping beautifully etched snow drops off my car, or pretending that spring is coming. I sit by the fireplace wrapped in a throw and find a couple of minutes to ponder why I feel the need to perpetually move.

Finding Winter Pause Moments

moves incessantly
warranting a pause
intentionally meant for slowdown
©CVarsalona, January 2024
indulges in
stillness as dusk
offers reflective paused moments
©CVarsalona, January 2024
trees swirl
shooting into sky
as sentinels of serenity
 ©CVarsalona, January 2024

With my one word, pause, I am intentionally searching for quiet moments to bring the gift of the slowdown.

Photos are from Long Island before I moved and Northern Virginia.
Time is creeping onward to the midnight opening of Poetry Friday. I am ready to pause and enjoy the Poetry Friday Roundup with Tracey Kiff-Judson's blog. Click here to read interesting information on the game of Monopoly. 

Poetry Friday

Friday, January 5, 2024

Holiday Poem Swap 2023

Holidays are a special time of year. There's Christmas, New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day. They bring joy and the spirit of "just being" with family. There's another holiday event that connects me to dear friends in the Poetry Friday community. It is the Holiday Poem Swap designed by Tabatha Yeatts. Each year, Tabatha creates a sparkling logo for chosen partners who exchange poems and a present. 

This year, I am delighted to partner with a hometown poet friend of mine, Janice Scully. Janice has a broad career background. Not only is she a writer and poet but followed in her mother's footsteps and chose nursing as her initial career. Then, she moved on to medical school and became a doctor. 

Janice's Holiday Poem Swap arrived with a lovely assortment of items to make me "most happy". The Christmas card was an artist's rendering of Christmas in the city that reminded me of holiday time in New York City. Her lovely poem, I'm Most Happy, is filled with imagery, rhyme, and a beautiful ending. Please see the poem below. Inside the card was a note about the handmade journal that Janice found in New Orleans. The journal is unique and has two envelope pockets on the first and last pages. It appears too pretty to write on but it will share many a thought and poem. I did not know that Janice sewed until recently. From different pieces of pink material, Janice stitched a lovely bookmark. This reminder of my own sewing days with my mother will be a keepsake and assistant while I read and write.

This swap present is a gift from the heart. After much thought, I decided to concentrate on my hometown of Syracuse where Janice resides in one of the suburbs. I did research about Salt City, read some of Janice's poems, found a news article about her family when she was young, and then created a slide show. Where did I start? I borrowed a line from Janice's poem, Begining, that became my strike line. "At the beginning is where everyone in the world begins." Her poem gave me the incentive to write a golden shovel memoir poem about my beginnings in Syracuse. With an enjambment, I ended my poem with "Life/Begins with trust and faith. I learned this in Syracuse". I moved on to historical photos of places that were memorable to me during my pre-teen years. The next slide showcased Janice's card to me with a poem I wrote for her about Christmas. Then, of course, I needed to write about Syracuse's snowy winters that can start in November and end at Easter. On the thank you slide, I shared a small poem in appreciation for Janice's lovely Holiday Poem Swap. I wrapped my thoughts around a memorable line from Janice's I 'm Most Happy poem. 

To Janice from Carol, Holiday 2023

personalized, artful
rich in content
hold dear to recipients
To Poetry Friday Friends from Carol, Holiday 2023

My one word for 2024 was unveiled on 1/4/24 for January's Spiritual Journey that Margaret Simon hosted. Click here.

I am eager to join the Poetry Friday community at our host's Marcie Flinchum Atkin blog here. Marcie dazzles readers with her beautiful nature photography and accompanying haikus.

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Spiritual Journey-One Word 2024

This morning a quiet sensation flowed through the chilled wind. Winter announced its arrival with freezing temperatures and icy crystals that decorated my car windows. I felt the push-pull of Nature reminding me to to breathe in winter's frosty breath and feel replenished. As I swept crystals off the car windows, stillness surrounded the grayish morning. Awed by the magic of the winter scene, I listened to the sounds of quietude, finding peace within. 

move slowly on
winter's frosty path-step back
just be and pause

witness small moments
reflect, renew, replenish
breathe in stillness

pause intentionally
breathe in earth's quiet stillness
with verve
©CVarsalona, 2024

Happily, I went to yoga where I heard a mantra that sparked a plan. "A New Year, a New You!" This solidified my intent to find one little word that would enhance last year's guiding word, Be 

Have you thought about pausing to witness quiet moments? It is the mindful, intentional pause that allows us to focus on, and be engaged in the moment not the hustle and bustle of life's to-dos. I have spent years as an educator and educational leader studying the art of mindfulness. Today, while scurrying to yoga class, I solidified my intent to find one little word that would enhance last year's guiding word, Be. I decided to cultivate mindfulness with an intentional pause each day. 

one word
stillness announces
my hope-filled wish
©CVarsalona, 2024

While researching how to practice the pause, I found a quote from Eckhart Tolle: "In today’s rush we all think too much, seek too much, want too much, and forget about the joy of just Being." My one word, "Be", guided me last year. Adding an intentional pause this year will strengthen my spiritual walk. I hope you will join me as I pause, reflect, and renew my spirit throughout 2024. May the magic of winter also encourage you to pause and witness quiet moments?

I  look forward to joining the Spiritual Journey community hosted by teacher/author/poet Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche.
Here, I will find poetic goodness and spiritual enrichment flowing. 

 Logo designed by Margaret Simon