Monday, January 16, 2017

A Stone of Hope

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King delivered a powerful speech, I Have a Dream, in Washington, D. C. Today, decades later, many Americans are honoring King as we celebrate a national holiday, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. King's words, strong in their delivery at the time, still hold true in this age as we face a new year.

One particular line from the I Have a Dream speech resonates with me: "Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope." In tribute to the legacy of Martin Luther King, I recall an incredible experience I had while presenting at the NCTE Convention in Atlanta last November. I was privileged to take a historical tour of Atlanta, the Civil Rights Tours led by Tom Houck, a personable, informative guide who was Martin Luther King's aide. Being immersed in the life and words of Martin Luther King told from Tom's perspective, was so inspiring that I was moved to pen my first Golden Shovel poem.

The rules I followed for the Golden Shovel poetic form are stated below by Writer's Digest.
  • Take a line (or lines) from a poem you admire.
  • Use each word in the line (or lines) as an end word in your poem.
  • Keep the end words in order.
  • Give credit to the poet who originally wrote the line (or lines).
  • The new poem does not have to be about the same subject as the poem that offers the end words.
Tom Houck discusses the painting of MLK that is hanging in the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

"Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope."
Martin Luther King, Jr.

From the streets of Atlanta out
to Americans today, life is full of
thoughts: What will transpire in the
new year? What mountain
are we to climb in pursuit of 
a joyful life, not despair?
We stand together on a
precipice holding a stone
with one single word of
wonder - hope
©CV, 2017

I, like many Americans, have a dream. On our national holiday, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I remember the sights and sounds of Atlanta brought to life by Tom Houck, an incredible storyteller, and shall honor the legacy of a great man whose life was the pursuit of hope.

Each year, I have written a post honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., an American hero. If interested, they can be accessed by clicking each link below.
-Honoring the Words of Martin, Luther King, Jr. 
-Listening, I hear the Call of Winter
-Importance of Voice 

Each Tuesday Two Writing Teachers offer space for teachers and writers to offer their Slice of Life. Please visit the site here. 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Chasing Joy

Each week I celebrate the positives with Ruth Ayres and her community of writers at Celebrate This Week. While this past week has been one of nursing an acute sinus infection, Friday night I was able to step out of the house with my family for some errands in an attempt to return to normalcy. During that break from being housebound, I found myself caught up in a spontaneous, fun-filled adventure to capture the beauty of nature. 

Unplanned moments can lead to wonder. Since the opening of the year, I have been trying to find joy, my one word, in the most ordinary of places. When I saw the moon take a striking pose in the night sky, I knew that I had to follow it to find the right position for a photograph. A crazy idea, you may say, but nonetheless one that needed to be captured in my mind because a few moments of carefree adventure could bring some fun.

Joy seems to be infectious so I even got my husband interested in the pursuit. Each time we stopped at a red light he would pull out his tablet. I simultaneously would be ready to take a shot with my iPhone for the moon was a most unusual sight in the night sky. It appeared to be stamped onto a black canvas, an ink splotch in the sky that peeked through striated clouds and branches. It was eerie but afterall it was Friday the 13th. The image below is the compilation of merging different facets of the moonlit adventure. 

I went to sleep thinking about the coincidence of the moon meeting Friday the 13th and woke to another luminescent view of the moon. Two separate views led me to wonder even more. If I was in the classroom, this would make for an interesting conversation about science, nature, and the superstitions surrounding Friday the 13th. For me the coincidental meeting of a full moon on Friday the 13th provided an opportunity to find joy in the night sky.  

*If you look closely at the first #imagepoem, you will see that Friday the 13th played a trick on me. There are faint words in the background that were embedded as I created. Little did I know until I posted. Life is full of mysteries!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Snow Waltzes into Winter

Because it is difficult to let go of the words swirling like the snow, I continue to compose along with other Poetry Friday writers. My mission is simple. As part of my #oneword initiative, I search my surroundings for small moments of wonder to capture and then spread to release a spirit of joyfulness like the butterflies that flutter. 

Snow is the topic of conversation around the country but today there is a distinct change of spirit in the New York City area. People are filled with lightheartedness. There is a spark of energy in their walk and the meteorologist has a smile on his face. All of this is attributed to the dramatic change in weather patterns. 

Today, the temperature on Long Island rose to 65 degrees and broke the record high set in 1890. The snow pattern has been erratic so I decided to capture snow as a lead character in my poetry writing. 



it crept in slowly

poised for its gentle descent-
vanished in the night


it left its dusting-
marginal amount sparkling
rain kissed it goodbye


Since I was housebound with a horrible sinus infection when the snowstorm finally arrived I could only view the frost and snow mounds from my window. The snow glistened in the darkness as the Christmas lights, still lit, reflected a serene sight. I wrote the above Part 3 haiku as a tribute to what I witnessed from my window view. Then, the rains came.

Snow waltzed into my life and waltzed back out but winter is still present.

What does winter look like in your part of the world? Does it allow you to find a poetic lens to look through? If so, I am designing an invitation to my next gallery, Winter Wonder, and you are invited to write alongside me. For those who live in warm weather climates, winter takes on a different look than the snowy scenes above. All perspectives are welcomed, though. 

If you access #WinterWonder17 on Twitter you will find some digital inspirations, photographs, and #imagepoems starting to appear. Stay tuned for my official invitation. In the meantime, enjoy the weather wherever you live. 

Please visit the Poetry Friday party at Keri Collins Lewis's blog that you can access here or here. Keri has an eye-opening video for all to watch that made me ponder how often I spend time embracing pure joy. Hence, the need to have joy as my guide on this year's journey. 

Thanks Linda Baie for the snowy Poetry Friday logo.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Capturing Thoughts

Lately, virtual spaces have given rise to poetic words, metaphorically clustering around timely topics. With a pen, stylus, or keyboard in hand, writers have gathered together to let their voices speak out. This past December, a digital gathering occurred that brought together many Poetry Friday writers for a specific purpose: to write under the hashtags #haikuforhealing and #commonplacemarvels, created by Mary Lee Hahn and Catherine Flynn. 

What started as a month-long venture has extended beyond December to become an outlet for feelings that capture small moments in time or daily observations about life. I have been one voice in a community of writers and have composed poetry and #imagepoems alongside community members while trying to sort out feelings amidst the world's chatter. In doing so, I searched for joy while all the time writers wrote, exchanged writings, commented, lifted lines, and added thoughts to haikus penned. 

In the quiet spaces of the "connected" writing world, life is still while the composition evolves. Then, the click, click, click of the digital process comes alive. An affirmative "Yes, We Can" hope to bring voice from quiet spaces to the surface becomes a commitment. Each penned word is selected carefully. Each haiku becomes a distinct song of hope, stretching voice across regions and linking all writers together. From these seeds of ideas, solidarity of action grows as writing becomes public.    

Last night, what has been acclaimed as a call to action occurred on national television. President Obama delivered his farewell address. I waited throughout the speech for his familiar slogan and then in the last minute, the words flowed. My thoughts followed and were digitized today.

It is with the belief in the yes we can spirit that I hope for a better tomorrow where possibilities exist and the human heart can continue to bring about change. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Tranquility Brings Joy

There is a certain hum to digital writing 
when darkness settles and the world is quiet. 
I hardly hear the touch tap of the keys 
as words strung together inspire messages.  
There is peace surrounding the process
when I'm alone creating and composing. 
I block out the day and fill the space 
with joy when digital pen meets screen. 

Tonight I send out a message of hope via my postcard poetry project.

In the midst of the chatter and dissonance of the world these days, 
postcard writing brings back the art of extending greetings to those far away.
May you find your writer's wings to soar through space. 

I share this writing with Two Writing Teachers for the weekly Slice of Life and with the slicers who are part of the #haikuforhealing writing community.

Sunday, January 8, 2017


When Margaret Simon sent out an invitation to the DigiLit Sunday community to write on the topic, a plan, I turned to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary for its definition. Of course, I know what a plan is but wanted some starting points. As the dictionary says, a plan is a method for achieving an end. My first thought is that I am often focused enough to carry out a plan but oftentimes I procrastinate or take on two plans in one day. 

I just paused after writing this because I hit on the reason why my plans take more time than I think they will to carry out.  I used to prize being a multi-tasker but I have been reading that this is not a good plan. Since it's the new year and I have a new word, joy, to guide me on my writing path, this post has my undivided attention. Have you ever been side-tracked when you start getting involved in a project?

To jump back on the path, I am going to backtrack and see what thoughts I scribbled down in the morning hours: focus - spontaneity - blogging - celebration - quiet joy. I wrote down these words while engaging in two chats (#HackLearning and #SpiritChat) and then, listening to the Epiphany homily. 

I know that I need a focus for the post so I will do some word weaving to develop the idea that has been evolving in my head. I see in my Tweetdeck user column that I posted the following response on #HackLearning to a question on why blog: "Blogging is like a heartbeat. It needs to occur. Why? It's a digital pen to our feelings and thoughts that brings life to our words." 

I know that I am focused but yet I enjoy being spontaneous. (The#SpiritChat conversation revolved around these two words.) Blogging can be a focused endeavor or a spontaneous reaction to a thought or event. It is an attempt to meander through my thoughts so I can hone in on a particular word that will lead me in a direction. There are many words that are spiraling in my heart now: snow, crystalline, glistening, joyful but there is also the reality that time and a throbbing cold headache are interfering.

Earlier in the day when I was ready to write, my plan was diverted. I was forced to nap due to a head cold. This is very unlike me but it was needed.

When awake, I relistened to the homily from the online Mass (the snow and my cold prevented me from leaving the house). Spontaneous thoughts evolved from what I heard and they merged into a poem for #haikuforhealing that is being led by Mary Lee Hahn. 

epiphany feast
fill your heart with quiet joy-
obstacles removed
©CV, 2017

Was this the piece that I started off writing? No it is not, but I do know that I set out with the intent to write a post and reach an ending thought. As part of the process, I removed obstacles to achieve my end.

Writing is a journey. It takes us on path that is similar to life. There may be detours, revelations, and stops along the way. We may reach a destination that is not our last stop and interact with others in ways that we may have not planned. This is true of writing. Life's road is endless and opportunities great, if we realize that we are humble travelers believing in the journey. 

"Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans."
Allen Saunders

On this Epiphany Day, I refer back to what the priest said, "Fill your heart with quiet joy!"

I set down my digital pen now to linger in quiet joy. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Keeping Hope Alive

After hearing the news of the shooting in Florida, I was dismayed, horrified, and disheartened by what is happening in the world. When did hate and ill feelings become the norm? Why are there people continuing to rob the world of joy? 

In a comment to Linda Baie, who hosted Poetry Friday yesterday, I wrote: " Life is short, fragile, and uncertain, as evidenced by today's tragedy. Joy* needs to be found and spread." I was contemplating this when I read April Halprin Wayland's Poetry Friday post about a contest at Six-Word Memoirs that asks how do you keep hope alive in exactly Six Words. This project appropriately fits into my writing for #haikuforhealing. April's poem and her one question, "What is your Six Word Hope in this New Year?", inspired me to respond.

*(My thoughts on joy as my one word for 2017 can be found here.)

Today, I would like to celebrate ways to keep hope alive in 6 word thoughts so that joy can fill the space that surrounds me and inspire others to do the same.


The above beautifully stitched poembird just arrived in the mail from Stitch Buffalo's Refugee Women's Workshop via Amy Ludwig VanDerwater. It will help me keep hope alive.

I Celebrate This Week with Ruth Ayres each weekend. Please visit Ruth's site here to read her inspirational message and peek in on the other writers in the community. 
Discover. Play. Build.
Also, please visit #HopeIn6Words and hopefully add your thoughts.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Joyful Poetry

One of my goals for the start of 2017 is to notice and wonder more about the ordinary, the commonplace, and the small things in life, seek joy, my #OneWord2017, on a daily basis, and share thoughts and feelings on positivity. By searching for joy, I hope to send it out into the world as a reminder that a "joyful heart is good medicine..." (Proverbs 17:22)

What better way to fill my heart with a joyful experience, than to write poetry with Poetry Friday friends and receive gifts of poetry! 

Photo: Laura P. Salas
Every Thursday, Laura Purdie Salas invites all to write alongside her in 15 Words or Less Poems. The photo she took while we were at NCTE in Atlanta was so intriguing and the invitation such "a low pressure way to wake up my poetry brain", as Laura says that I decided to put pen to paper. 

curved passageways
lead me toward
life's careening journey-
hither, thither, 
©CV, 2017

The poem above connects to my 2017 journey with my one word, joy, as my guide. To continue my thinking on one little word, I hosted Spiritual Journey first Thursday, a community of writers that Irene Latham now leads. My topic was "One Word to Guide Our 2017 Journey". You can view my post and the writing of others who linked up here.

I continued writing poetry with PF friends under the hashtag #haikuforhealing created by Mary Lee Hahn and #commonplacemarvels designed by Catherine Flynn. 


I created a poetry postcard for Jone MacCulloch Rush's New Year Postcard Exchange. All cards have been sent out in the mail. I will post the original at the of this month because the recipients have not received their poetry postcards yet. You can view Images and tweets at the hashtag, #PostcardXchange, that Jone created for the project.

Next week, I will showcase the poetry postcards that I receive. Thank you Brenda Davis Harsham and Diane Mayr for their lovely postcards. I was so excited when I received them. the exchange is a real treat and a throwback to the days of postcard writing.

"When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy." 
-Jalaluddin Rumi

May the love of poetry bring a joy to your winter months. Please visit my writing friend, Linda Baie's blog here to read her New Year greetings to the Poetry Friday community. Her link-up is already filling up with wonderful posts from many PF friends. Happy reading to all during this cold winter weekend. Note the logo Linda created complete with snow coming in from Linda's corner in Colorado.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

One Word to Guide Our 2017 Journey

Each year instead of creating resolutions, millions choose one word to guide their journey. Why? One, meaningful word becomes a focal point, a reminder, and a guide throughout the year. It makes its way into your life, tugs at your heart, snuggles into your being, connects with your lifestyle, and accompanies you on your journey. It can be your mantra, your go to word, your star to follow. 

This year, my word poured into my life space like a flowing rain, dropping sparkling particles all around. I felt the word surround me and connect to my 2016 word, believe, that I have held close to my heart. 

Reflecting on my one word has led me through a progression of thoughts based on my previous one words:

This year,
I will continue
to stay in the moment,
to ponder the
infinite possibilities of life
with an open mind and spirit,
a listening ear to hear messages sent, 
and a believing heart to lead me forward in faith.
This year, 
I choose
as my one word
to accompany me
as I journey through life
savoring the ordinary as opportunities
while yearning for an enriched, positive outlook.

My 2017 Creed: 
With a genuine spirit of wonderlust, I shall notice and wonder more about the ordinary, the commonplace, and the small things in life, seek joy daily, and share thoughts and feelings on positivity. By searching for joy, I hope to send it out into the world as a reminder that a "joyful heart is good medicine..." (Proverbs 17:22)

I choose joy and this vocal by Sir Harry Secombe to celebrate my one word and this joyful celebration of others' words to guide all 2017 journeys.

Join in the celebration of joy by linking your one little word post for the start-up of the 2017 Spiritual Journey first Thursday designed by Irene Latham (originally created by Holly Mueller). All are welcomed to participate. 

The monthly calendar for Spiritual Journey first Thursday is:

Closing  wishes: 
  • May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing... -Romans 15:13 
  • May all your 2017 words carry you along a pathway filled with promise and peace.