Butterflies and Your Moment

Have you ever wondered what it’d be like to be a butterfly? Starting out as a caterpillar, bursting out of your chrysalis transformed into something new, chasing a friend around your favorite nectar source? If you’re a Monarch or even a Question Mark or maybe a Painted Lady or Fiery Skipper, how would it feel to migrate each year to escape the cold and find the flowers?

Recently, on my birthday my husband and I enjoyed a visit to the largest butterfly conservatory in the U.S. It was a glorious sight to behold with so many active butterflies of varying colors fly this way and that around their rain forest space. Sometimes they flew right in front of our faces, almost colliding. Some bees (in a separate enclosed space), chickens, and grasshoppers also inhabited the area. I was lucky to have a few of the butterflies land on my little backpack I was wearing (maybe they liked the butterfly design on it). One landed on my arm which tickled!

Butterflies are truly amazing if you think about their transition from caterpillar to adult insect, and the migration facts for all the migrating kinds. And did you know that if a butterfly damages a wing, it won’t fully heal? Perhaps it’s kind of like if you had a leg cut off. But for them, they may not be able to fly again.

And did you ever hear of this amazing “butterfly doctor” who repaired a Monarch’s wing so he could once more take flight? Sometimes, we may feel like we have damaged our “wings” and need a little help from others for what we can’t do for ourselves. Read the inspiring story of the repaired butterfly here.

It reminds me of the Beatles singing, “You were only waiting for this moment to arise”. Maybe it was about a blackbird, but it could be about a butterfly, or a human. Who knows? That moment when you feel broken and receive another chance to shine, like kintsugi pottery, could be a moment you were waiting for after all the trouble.

Cover Photo thanks to: https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=9133&picture=blue-butterfly

Hello in 2020!

No, I didn’t disappear forever. I’m still here, breathing, and I couldn’t stray from blogging for so long. There’s going to be a lot to write about this year, and it won’t be anything I’ll want to forget. If this is the year of vision, I’m starting out seeing through a glass darkly, but expect to know so much more by the end of it.

A year ago I met my husband for the first time, and though we didn’t talk then, I knew he existed and that allowed everything else to come. It’s strange for me to think I’ve known him for only a short time, but a year is a momentous mark. I’d be okay if none of what happened did, I think, but it’s so much better with him. Even with my writing, he turned into a raving fan and was there to support me for the launch of both of my books.

I once heard an author discuss how his wife gave him a gift of time to develop his writing skills away from work. She worked to support them while he focused on his craft, and it paid off in the end as writing is now his full-time career. So that support from my husband was one very important good sign from the beginning.

Sometimes I’m a sucker for emotional Got Talent auditions like this one I found the other day. Something about the trust these young aerial performers had in each other and the background music for their act made some words come to my head.

“Glowball” by carobe is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 

A Pact and a Promise

by Aubri Wilson


I'll make you a pact

I'll make you a promise

That even when we're far away

I'll never forget you

I'll never regret you

And I'll come back to you someday

On our own missions separate

You in the mountains

And I in the sea

To combine again at a future time



And when you miss the old memories

We've had and simple days

And feel lonely at night

Look up at the same moon

I'll be watching

And I'll send you my song

You'll hear it carried to you



If only in dreams we see each other

For a while, I'll fly and take the trip

Every night to hold you before you wake

And if you cry in the morning

Soon the sun will help you smile

And you'll be finding all you need

To discover on your own



But if time falls over itself

And you start to feel lost

Know I'm reaching for you

And soon enough dear

I'll be by your side again

For I made a pact

And I made a promise

Christmas Lighting

Each Christmas I love to see the lights put on display. It’s something that’s always so cheerful, and it reminds me of why I celebrate this most special holiday. At the beginning of this Christmas season, my husband and I were walking downtown and found that some of the trees strung with lights were not lit up. We stopped numerous times as he plugged in the lights on forgotten trees.

I don’t know who else would do so. This happened on multiple occasions while we were walking in the area. It made me think of how he’s brought more light into my life. And these past few weeks I’ve reflected on how Christ has brought so much light into the world.

Here is my Christmas poem this year:

Christmas Lighting 
by Aubri Wilson

All along the houses
And trailing downtown
Trees and shrubs
Windows and doors
Rooftops and eaves
Outside and inside
White or colorfully bright
It cheers me to see
Yet nothing compares
With the lighting
Christ gives
Bringing great joy
And great love
All among His children
Outside their windows
And inside their hearts
That true Christmas Lighting
May always be found

 

Merry Christmas!

 

Poetry Book Before Christmas!

I can’t wait to make Life Stokes Embers available to share some of my thoughts and feelings about life experiences humankind share, to help others know they are not alone in agonizing and painful moments, crazy moments, silly moments, joyous moments, calming moments, and victorious moments.

And it’s just around the corner! It’s taken years to get it just right, with nights of putting thoughts to pen and paper, working to make my cover imagery ideas come into life with a talented artist, pondering and playing around with section titles and structure, deciding which poems to include and which to exclude or save for another book, waiting for beta readers, and getting excited and stressed over several rounds of back and forth to get the formatting correct.

It’s my first full poetry collection, 144 pages long with poems I’ve written mostly over the last five years. I will be uploading it to Kindle Direct Publishing to be made available in ebook and print formats. If you enjoy poetry, or know someone who does, think about gifting it!

I love how it all turned out! One of the largest pieces of advice I’ve heard is to make sure your cover is of quality as it’s how people judge your book so that was one of the first items I worked on to make perfect in my eyes. We’ll see how it goes.

There are five sections in my book:

Prelude

Imagination in Flight

Pilgrimages, pilgrimages

Deep in Thought

Life Lessons

 

You’ll have to check it out to find more of what’s inside!

Life Stokes Embers is Coming

What’s been happening lately? I’ve been working on getting ready to publish my second book and first full poetry collection!

The title of my book is in the form of a Brevette poem I wrote last year:

Life

S t o k e s

Embers

You can learn about the Brevette form here. It’s a simple and fun kind of poem!

It’s a bit hard to pin down where Life Stokes Embers began. It might very well have been with the poem I wrote three years ago, “Small Moments Matter”, which several friends assumed was about a love interest, but was actually inspired after a tough day when my mother was recovering from brain surgery. That poem was the first in a Word document that expanded bit by bit, poem by poem.

It might have been when in one of my writing group’s meetings, I began to realize that maybe, just maybe my words in the form of poetry were worth sharing and that at least some people enjoyed them. It might have been when I wrote the Brevette poem I later chose for the title. It might have been when the image of the front cover poured into my mind, as if from a pitcher above that I couldn’t see.

Anyway, here’s a bit of what to expect. These poems are about my own life experiences, moments in time, mostly throughout my last few years, or thoughts I fancied and felt a need to pen so they would turn into something more. They reflect some of my most deep and intimate thoughts about common life experiences many share. Here are poems inspired by mundane moments, imaginations, travels in new places, hours with friends, nights with family, challenges with stress, fear, confusion, anxiety, mental illness, and hope, determination, and renewal.

Some of these poems you may have read already on this blog! In this time of Thanksgiving I’m thankful for the opportunity to share more of my most personal and satisfying work. I’ll share because life is too important and inspiring not to write about, and this is part of what I feel I’m meant to do.

“charcoal coal fire” by watts_photos is licensed under CC BY 2.0 

China Again!

It’s already been over a year since I started this website and blog! My first post on October 27th was on a positive side of fear. I’ve experienced true joy in overcoming the fear of sharing more of my written work. Soon I will share more about my second poetry book coming this fall! This is a project I haven’t shared much about yet, but I am beyond excited (and a little scared) to put this out there.

So come back to hear more about Life Stokes Embers. There are two main differences between my first and second book. 1) My first, Beside Them in Nature’s Mirror, is a chapbook whereas Life Stokes Embers is a full poetry collection and 2) The poems in Life Stokes Embers I wrote for myself, whereas I wrote the poems in Beside Them in Nature’s Mirror for others.

But now, here’s a reflection on my China trip.

Goodbye China, Goodnight 
by Aubri Wilson

Goodbye China, Goodnight

As I fly away too soon

Tears run down rivulets near my nose

And I gaze at the Shanghai coast

Strange it is that less than an hour before

We strolled around the brightly winking Bund

As if travelling in a movie scene




Goodbye China, Goodnight

And Good Morning too

After a very long night

Soon I will wake to

The same morning

In a different land

With the same mourning

As when I left you before

Not knowing how long it may be

Before I return again




Goodbye China, Goodnight

I will dream of what we did

And what we saw

And what we tasted

And how we marveled

And wished for more




Goodbye China, Goodnight

And if I had more time

Oh I wish

And if I did

I would search more ancient gardens

And get lost in bamboo forests

I would ride in another boat

And sit by a hidden spot at Xihu

To write poetry like many before me

I would rise early for a prize of

Steaming doujiang fresh as it comes

I would hike the hills without steps

And visit golden temples in sites

Farther than I’d reached before

I would find the cave

In each mountain of Guilin

And explore verdant paths

Among rice paddies in countryside

I would return to my old schools

To see who has taken my place

I would visit each province

But if not, try the dishes from all

In some larger city like Hangzhou

I would stay until chestnuts roasted

And white sweet potatoes fragranced the streets

And yet until lychee and longan

Fill up the markets

And if I had more time

Well, enough

I will hope to come

To see you soon

It’s hard to describe the feeling of returning to a foreign country you fell in love with years before. And it was so much fun to introduce my husband to things I loved and even the things I didn’t quite love about China. We visited Shanghai and Hangzhou, two large cities I had never set foot in before so it was new for both of us. In Hangzhou I was able to reunite with my old friend Kris, who I met during my English teaching orientation back in 2012. We were able to study Mandarin together in Yangshuo (at least in classrooms next door to each other) that summer. If you’re interested in travel in China, she is one to learn from. Go check out her YouTube channel, Imbibing China for great content on adventures in less touristy areas of the country.

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My husband and I ate loads of noodles (yes, my diet went out the window for nine days), walked until (at least my) feet were sore, boated, biked, took an overnight train, flew on one domestic flight, climbed two mountains, explored two caves, cruised down the Li river in rainy weather and made memories we’ll never forget. I was struck by a sense of familiarity with several things-the sound of the Mandarin language and people complimenting me on my pronunciation with the very few words I could speak, being served whole fish with head and eyeballs intact, breathing in polluted air, groups of ladies doing synchronized dance in public, being stared at and laughed at, calls of “Huān yíng, huān yíng!” when entering restaurants or businesses etc.

What smacked my sensibilities overwhelmingly were advances in technology. In my previous time in China, all of my students used QQ for online communication. Now, the masses use WeChat, an app that my husband and I were unable to download even with the Chinese SIM card we purchased in the Shanghai Pu Dong International Airport. WeChat enables not only chatting, but paying for things like soda from vending machines, your meal in a restaurant, bus fare or a DiDi (China’s Uber). Cash is used much less and not even an option in many cases. AliPay is another rival payment option. We also couldn’t help but notice the cameras on every corner and wonder about the social credit system that will soon spread to all of China. If you haven’t heard about this fascinating and globally concerning system, check out this informative article (complete with surprising infographics).

China is growing and changing rapidly. In Yangshou, a small county where my former employer is still headquartered, West Street, the pedestrian street of shops, clubs, bars and beautiful architecture, is now joined by a new West Street with a mall. Yet with all the change, I found my employer’s office, still the same, and the countryside still beautified by the farmers, in this season by flowers they planted after the rice harvest. And still happy couples taking wedding photos don traditional clothing from favorite dynasties long, long ago. We were lucky to take part in a session with an old friend who was married the week before we arrived!

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Travel Poems

In less than a week, I’ll be flying to China again. I’ve written a bit about China here and there in previous posts, and included it in my bio on this site. This time, just as I told others when I left, I’m coming with my husband. Sometimes you don’t know what exactly you want to do, or how to accomplish what you want to do but taking a first step or a few steps will unfold a bit of magic that leads you to your goal. Visualize what you can and let the details fill in over time. I believe that’s how my next trip is happening. I started to believe my husband could be the one when he matched a bit of my craziness after I asked him if he’d go to China with me, and he said yes. At the time he was still my boyfriend and a trip this large might seem unwise to be the first to start planning together. But here we are!

We’ve already had no short of adventures in various forms, including getting a motorcycle a few weeks ago, and using said motorcycle for various trips including going to get vaccinations before travelling!

Now, why did I go to China seven years ago? I believe there was an innate longing that took me time to recognize. It was a longing to travel and see something more of the world. It was a longing to learn how people lived in another culture, and to meet others so like and so different from me at the same time. It was a longing to see what I could do away from everyone who loved and supported me. It was a longing to have an adventure. It was a longing to spur new ideas and creativity that would provide fodder for writing and my future life. It was a longing to grow through challenging experiences. It was a longing to choose a path not as beaten and worn as others nearby.

As I’ll be travelling again to new areas in China I’ve never been, and to one I lived in for a time, my mind wanders to what I remember and have yet to tell, and to wonder what I’ll yet experience. Travel poems are in abundance and if you’ve never had an ounce of wanderlust in your life, reading some may change your desires. Here are a few examples, the second of which, by Du Fu, sums up what I may expect to feel next week. It so powerfully aligned with my mind, that I started to cry reading it through. And here is one of my own penned for this occasion:

 

Travel Poems in my Heart

by Aubri Wilson


Never did I ever think

Something was born inside

And grew with me each night

But in a new continent

In the east

Where I remember

Rice paddies and a buffalo

"Mr. Hello" with mung bean ice cream

And karst mountains

Motorcycle taxis and scaffolding

Golden temples and majestic pagodas and towers

Dumplings and hot pot and chrysanthemum tea

Markets with lychee and longan and rambutan

And bok choy and choy sum and garlic scapes

Students who studied long but found time to laugh

Motorized rickshaws and ancient hutongs

A palace and museums of relics from time unknown

People with curious looks and friendly smiles

Who fed me with their own chopsticks

In that land in the east

I discovered there

Travel poems in my heart

Which made me long

To remember and return

To reunite with at least a few

Friends I made years ago

And with a tongue and country

Which welcomed me and my heart

In a strange way I didn't know

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shifting Paradigms

Shifting Paradigms

by Aubri Wilson



Ten feet under in the earth

I hope to see stars

Though I've never been

In a cave of glowworms

And nothing bright shines here

Maybe I secretly dream

Of tours in New Zealand



And if I don't feel like myself

As I think I should be

Could I really be a doppelganger

And not what's real?

In the mirror

My eyes are startled

By the sight of

Who I've become

With my full control



With you came the most

Paradigm shifts

I've ever grabbed hold of

With hours of searching

Inside my mind

Leading to a reality

Beginning with you



I saw myself with joy

Doing what gave me joy

Returning to what gave me joy

Fleeing from what gave no joy

Giving you what gave you joy

Living fully a life of true joy



And when I actually saw it

And trusted it

And reached towards it

And pulled you towards it

With me, and got up again

When slipping from

Not noticing the wet floors

There it was all along

Waiting patiently for me



Truly there joy was

And light underground

That you can rise to

And touch without

The burn, and if

The poor beetle

Mistaken for a worm

Can glow wondrously

Then so can I

 

Have you ever tried visualization? You can find a few tips thanks to Forbes here. I first read about visualization, without knowing the term, from stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul books. In one, a woman spoke of thinking of her goals and desires and then finding pictures in a magazine to represent each. She cut out a handsome man, a cute house, and even a dollar sign. She would look at the pictures every day and think of what they represented for her. In a year she was married happily, living in the home of her dreams, and without financial stress.

So if I make a picture book of my desires, they’ll come true? Yeah, right, I thought. There’s a bit more to it I think. Knowing what you want is important, sure. Later in life, though, I began to think of times I’d used visualization with real results.

For example, in high school when I spent an hour or more a day practicing the piano, I also spent a significant amount of time thinking of the pieces I wanted to learn in my mind and seeing myself play them like a virtuoso. Eventually, with practice, I could make those runs with my fingers that were impossible at first. I kept seeing myself do it, trying, and then I did. I saw what it looked like, I could feel invisible keys, and the subtle smile on my face.

Or, when I first dreamed of going abroad, I narrowed down to China and getting there through TEFLing. While a good number of people around me doubted, I visualized myself walking the streets of China, teaching in classrooms and eating in amazing hole in the wall restaurants with real Chinese noodles. I read books and looked at countless images of China, the food there, the people there and I began daydreaming about being there. And somehow, through what seemed like uncommon luck and maybe foolish pluck, I found myself on a long plane ride to Shanghai and living there for nearly a year.

If it worked when I wasn’t fully conscious of what I was doing, what are the possibilities if I use visualization intentionally? Do you use visualization? What have you found it can do for you? Have you ever had a paradigm shift through practicing this and doing and gaining what you used to believe wasn’t possible?

Photo source from Flickr here.

 

 

 

 

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