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The Stuff Dreams are Made of

At the time of starting this post, it was Day 16 of National Poetry Month! There is still so much I want to share. Thursday the 18th was Poem in Your Pocket Day. I printed out several copies of poems I wrote and handed them out to several unsuspecting people. I think next year I’d like to purposely run a lot of errands or show up in random places to hand out poems stuffed in both pockets, and see what kind of reactions I get.

For Stephanie Abney’s poetry challenge, we did windspark poems. I loved them so much that I wrote four, and could go on and on with more. It gave me an opportunity for such fun imagery, personification and imagination! If you are already signed up for my newsletter, you received my email with details on the background of the second poem below. You’ll get more details behind the scenes when you subscribe to my newsletter via the link on the right hand menu of my site.

Windspark poems by Aubri Wilson



I dreamed

I was a warrior

On a silver steed’s back

Riding to victory

Fearlessly




I dreamed

I was a seashell

In a sand pile of others

Hoping for a creator

Urgently




I dreamed

I was an aspen

On a mountain slope

Trembling in the wind

Serenely




I dreamed

I was a ship

At the castle gates

Waiting to be let in

Breathlessly

And here’s a fun little acrostic for today’s challenge that I wrote after being inspired by a bee I noticed on a hike today, pollinating a gorgeous pink cactus bloom:

Precious gathering of nectar is mine

Oasis of color in the desert delights me

Lingering a few weeks, these blooms attract

Luring with scent and hue

Incomplete without pollen I pick up

Nectar for me and fertilization for them

As I visit flower to flower

Thanks to me, then comes the fruit

Overwhelming work, no, it turns sweet

Rectifying stress in the creation of honey

What if….?

Perhaps in part due to being the daughter of a psychologist, I’m simply fascinated with psychology myself. It nearly became my major in college. And gosh, the reason I didn’t choose it might have been due to catastrophizing about the statistics and math required in such a major.

Do you ever assume the worst? I’ve been guilty of that far too often in the past and I still work on overcoming that tendency sometimes today. Here’s one example from earlier this week. I was drying my hands with the bathroom hand towel at home when a gecko poked its head around and I saw its body clinging less than an inch from my hands. I jumped back a bit, made some kind of “Whoah!” cry, and then thought, “Oh no, what if I don’t catch it and it runs away and I don’t know where it is?!” The fear of the unknown…the unknown location of a little intruder in the house. Ugh. At least geckos aren’t disgusting like roaches or dangerous like scorpions I’ve had inside encounters with. Of course, I caught it and released it outside. No problem at all.

I’m not sure why often my mind will go directly to the negative. Meg Selig points out in 3 Ways to Stop Imagining the Worst thoughts to reflect on when we catch ourselves doing this. I do wonder about the opposite sometimes. How would it change you? Here are my thoughts for a “What if…I might” fill in the blank poem. You can find directions on how to write one yourself here: My friend’s poetry challenge day 10.

What if I ceased to worry about the moment after?
I might enjoy the given one, and even perhaps the next!


What if I chose to believe in the best possible outcome?
I could perhaps discover a self-fulfilling prophecy!


What if I caught an idea and didn’t let go?
I would learn by traveling a distance farther than before.


Do you think I’d be happier then?

Don’t Share the Soil

My idea for a tanka poem for my friend’s 4th day of a 6th year and counting National Poetry Month challenge (find her instructions for the tanka here:  Day 4 Poetry Challenge) came from two plants growing together in my neighborhood. When I glanced at the plant with the yellow flowers (which I wish I could identify) I wondered aloud how it had happened to entwine itself with the other plant.

“Oh no, it knew what it was doing,” my walking companion replied. What an interesting comment about a plant. I couldn’t help but compare the idea to human relationships. It really does seem like there are lessons and warnings all over if you look around in nature. This article explains the detrimental effects of plants planted too close together: Home Guides What Happens if Plants Are Planted Too Close Together?

Bloom like rays of sun

But why encroach on your friend?

Too close, no space, get!

Don’t let us drain and dry up

My soil is mine and yours there

How close is too close? Have you ever felt suffocated by someone else or as if they began to deplete your energy and resources? Or perhaps seen someone who tried to be a showoff and choke out others so they only could shine? You can be planted close together and do great, but too close and you lose out. Everyone needs their own spot of soil to grow. And the truth is, when you hurt someone else, you hurt yourself.

Here’s a song I can justify sharing here as it’s related to this topic. When I discovered it I thought the video was clever in its comparison of physical pain to emotional pain. The latter may sometimes be invisible, but no less hurtful. I hope you choose to share, but not to share the soil. Share your favorite poem with me, or one you wrote, or how you’re celebrating National Poetry Month in a comment below. But again, please don’t share the soil.

 

 

Join Me in National Poetry Month

How could I, as a poet myself, not be excited about national poetry month beginning on Monday? The month to read more poetry, share more poetry, discover poets, participate in Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 18th etc. For myself, my goal is to be more productive in writing poetry during April as well. I encourage you to take a look at the Academy of American Poet’s website to read about the history of National Poetry Month, and how you can participate this year, either for the first time, or in a different way than you have before!

A friend of mine has an active blog during poetry month, posting simple instructions and examples of different types of poems so that you can try writing your own! In the last few years I did some here and there, but last year in 2018 I challenged myself and wrote a poem each day, following her challenge, and ended with 30 unique poems by May. Wow! While I usually write free verse, I enjoy this opportunity thoroughly to eek out more creative problem solving and solutions to fit the form and still come up with something beautiful. I can say there are a good number of poems I wrote last April that I never would have had it not been for this challenge, and I’m glad!

You can follow along with me by accessing her poetry blog for a daily poetry challenge starting on Monday the 1st here: Stephanie Says So Poetry Blog. Look out for a few of my future original poems from this challenge, which I may share in my blog and newsletter in the coming weeks. Here is one poem from last year, a wish poem:

I Wish I Could 
by Aubri Wilson



I wish I could better learn to control my mind.

I wish I could always filter out unhelpful thoughts.

I wish I could always pay attention when it’s most important.

I wish I could retrieve everything I should remember, in the moment it counts.

I wish I could always remember my nighttime dreams.

I wish I could understand what they try to tell me about my waking life.

I wish I could always avoid distractions that keep me from meaningful things.

I wish I could always know how to comfort others when they feel low.

I wish I could always know how to express what I mean.

I wish, and wish but cannot have it all now. 

I can only wish in time I will look back and say I worked on it, a day at a time.

 

This year my plan besides writing a poem a day in April, is to participate in one open mic, host a private poetry reading, and read a poem by another poet each day. For my birthday I received the most exciting tome I could receive-a full collection of poems by a poet I’m related to. My 8th cousin three times removed, but still. Can you guess who? I plan to share some work by this poet during April as well, and possibly other poets I’m related to although somewhat distantly.

Maybe something did come through the bloodline though, with Noah Webster being a 4th cousin seven times removed from me. Other poets I’m related to, besides the one alluded to above, are Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, Henry David Thoreau, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Walt Whitman, Robert Frost, William Faulkner, Robert Lowell, Percy Shelley, and Alfred Tennyson to name most of the poets at least. They may be somewhat distant cousins, and my work is extraordinarily modest in their wake. I’m not claiming this in falsehood, by the way. The We’re Related app by Ancestry may not always be accurate, but family members of mine have done extensive genealogical work so I’m going to believe this list is true. In any case, I can look up to these giants and appreciate their artistry even more next month!

How will you participate in National Poetry Month?

Uncommon (Common) Sense

Last week I had an interesting experience observing humans that made me alternately shake my head, chuckle, shake my head and then eventually slap my desk and bulge out my eyes in disbelief, ending with audible exclamations of “Oh, come on people!” and “Seriously????”.

One after another, confused people were acting before paying attention or taking a moment to read and examine what was before them. Without that preparation, their actions didn’t make sense, and simply prolonged a problem that could have been entirely avoided.

Later in the day, reflecting on this, I penned this poem:

Uncommon Common Sense


If it’s called common sense,

How is it quite rare sometimes?

Today made me realize, the lack

Thereof does not discriminate

Based on age or position or anything else

True, it cannot be taught

Even in kindergarten, though teachers may try

A bit surprising it can be

I suppose paying attention

Is half the battle

In a world perpetuating

The myth of multi-tasking

And the idea that it’s a need

For all to happen at lightning speed

When I find a person with

That uncommon common sense

There comes a sweet sigh of relief

I considered “common sense” here as doing the reasonable, effective thing, not necessarily the thing that society agreed was the right course of action. You’ll find quotes about how common sense is sparse. However, reflecting more on this, I realize there’s something I find much more interesting beyond this lack of common sense.

If you always go with the flow, following only common sense, you’ll never stand out, and if you don’t stand out in some way, how can you change your world? You don’t need to change the world, but everyone can be a leader in some sense, in some capacity, and can shine for others around them. For that you need common sense, yes, but also something beyond that.

From a blog post a few years back at simpletruths.com, there’s a discussion on thinking beyond the norms that compose common sense. Here’s a bit of how they explain it:

Uncommon sense is not about throwing common sense totally out the window. Tapping into our uncommon sense allows us to take a deeper look at things we often take for granted. It fights against the thought or perspective: Well, it’s just the way things are.

You can read the entire, but brief, article here: Tap into Uncommon Sense. So, what does common sense mean to you? Why is it so “uncommon”? What would you consider to be “uncommon sense”? What do you do to pay attention a little more and give your brain some time to think more creatively to respond effectively and avoid difficulties or solve problems? I welcome your thoughts! Feel free to leave a comment below.

 

The Power of Your Voice

Have you heard of “voice confrontation”? That feeling of surprise, dislike, or maybe even disappointment or disgust when you hear your own voice playing back to you? It never seems to fail for me. I’ve held two positions in the past where I spent most of the time on the phone with customers. When I was obliged to listen to recordings of my calls to evaluate myself and then meet with my manager, sometimes the worst part wasn’t worrying about how I’d messed up on this one call or how I saw in retrospect I could have handled something much differently. Sometimes it was simply hearing my own recorded voice.

Did I really sound like that? That has always been the question. While singing in the ASU Women’s Chorus and later more often after I started voice lessons, I’d record myself periodically to pick out areas for improvement. I’ve gotten a little more used to it, but I often still shudder a bit.

I realize this is common for most, if not all of us. This article from The Guardian delves into reasons for this phenomenon of disliking the sound of our own voices beyond the fact that yes, it sounds differently to us when we’re speaking than it does to others or in a recording. The reasons are fascinating and it’s a great read, but it also points out that we’re likely our toughest and probably only critic. So why should we care if no one else will judge?

At a private release party I held for friends for Beside Them in Nature’s Mirror, I did several readings out of the book. Something interesting happened. While I read, I recognized when, oh no, I just read that line in a way I didn’t want to. It wasn’t quite the right emotion, not enough, maybe not articulate enough etc. But when I was sent back some recordings and listened, I felt that I didn’t do as badly as I originally thought.

Also, I sent out the welcome email for my first few followers of my newsletter and despite the frustration of figuring out how to make it look like I wanted it to, the next morning I was happy with the results. I included a recording as my free gift for signing up. You can hear it when you sign up for my newsletter via the button on the top right of my site’s homepage, or on the side bar to the right of this post. The reason I was happy with the results is that one person messaged me and complimented me on my reading of the poem I included, even suggested that I do books on audible. Wow! I’ve been thinking lately of audio books, open mics, doing private readings for friends that are recorded and shared to larger audiences later etc. for a while now. I’ll report on how that’s going here, and may even share some audio and video in my newsletter of these! I reported this story to a friend, the one who suggested I start using my voice more to read my own work. So what made my day made his day and what a lovely occurrence that was.

So, the lesson here is, don’t be afraid of your own voice. Even if you don’t feel that your words came out perfect, your voice may have made someone else feel something and pay attention! There is a special power in the spoken word that the written word cannot reach.

If you dread hearing your own recorded voice, what have you tried to do to overcome the discomfort? I’d love it if you’d leave a comment below!

 

Business Cards!

This week I’ll give a bit of documentation of my journey, as I promised to do along the way. I recently attended a wonderful writing workshop put on by the American Night Writers Organization. I’ve been a part of this organization since the very end of 2014 and it has been a fantastic resource.

One of the classes at the workshop focused on selling print books. I took notes and thought I’d save up this knowledge for the future when I publish my second book. Of course, when you’re selling books you should have a business card to offer, and why not get them before you even have a book? I decided to build a website first to try and gain some traction and show off some of my work before getting a book out. On your author business card, you can advertise your website, or you could get cards featuring the cover of a certain book.

I decided to go with a general card that focused on directing to my website and I was very conscious about the design. I’d love to hear your ideas but here were mine and here are the whys:

  1. I decided to order from vistaprint.com. Why? This was one of the recommendations I received and the price was right for me. A great thing about this site is that they’ll save your designs and while yes, there is upselling during the checkout process, it’s nice to know if you’re ready to grow in future and you like your logo/graphic/design you can have it plastered on anything like banners, posters, clothing, stickers etc.
  2. I chose rounded edges. Why? Don’t they just look softer and feel nicer to hold in your palm? When I first thought about starting a site and publishing I made a list of traits I wanted my “brand” to have. For me, even such a small detail as rounded edges helps to portray this. You don’t see as many rounded edges as regular straight ones either.
  3. I attempted to make the design match that of my website’s homepage. Why? I chose agave plants for the image at the top of my homepage. Agave grow well in my home state. I love the patterns and the variation of shades. To anyone who thinks the desert isn’t beautiful, I’d say you just haven’t truly seen it yet. So yes, I put agave on my cards. Also, did you notice the font I used for my website? I tried to match the script as closely as I could to how it looks on my homepage too. Hopefully when a person receives my card they’ll check out my site and they’ll already have a tiny sense of familiarity. People like the familiar.
  4. I used white space. Why? Who likes an overcrowded, busy design? No one I’ve heard of. No one likes to be overwhelmed with too much information. White space evokes a sense of calm. I don’t want people to pick up my card and want to toss it because it’s just too much. I want it to say, “Here, take me. Hold me a little bit and take a look.” The white space also allows for another possible personal touch. I purchased a custom made stamp for this purpose and am considering stamping them, maybe at the time of handing out, although I think they look good as they are.
  5.  I made them vertical. Why? Many business cards are horizontal. I wanted mine to be a bit different from the norm and to also work as a bookmark (again, to hopefully prevent the receiver from throwing it away or losing it).

So there you have it. Getting a bit of an aching back from hunching over my laptop while I made all the of the many choices to create my perfect business card at this time was worth it. Now, we’ll see about getting them in the hands of readers. That’s the scary part!

If you’ve created business cards before, how did you create yours? What was your process and the why behind your choices? How and where did you hand them out? I’d love to read about it in the comments.

Palm Grass?

Isn’t it strange when something you took for granted your entire life is thrown into question? For example, take the palm tree. They grow in various environments, including where I live in Arizona. I knew about different kinds of palms, such as date palms and coconut palms. And when I decided to drastically reduce my refined sugar intake back in 2014, dates, especially medjool, and coconut oil, coconut milk and coconut butter became favorite products for use in recipes for me.

I also knew about significant references to palm branches in the Bible, such as the events of Palm Sunday, when the people of Jerusalem laid out palm fronds as Jesus entered the city on a donkey, in a symbol of victory.

But as I was looking at this photo above of a palm tree at my workplace, which I took recently, I was curious and looked up some facts. That’s when I discovered that a palm tree is more like grass than a tree. What? Check out this blog article on the subject to learn more! You can find ten more interesting facts about the palm tree or uh, grass, here.

In this time of the world’s history, with information readily accessible on the internet, it’s easy to make quick judgments without doing your research. It’s easy to hold onto preconceived ideas or to perhaps doubt new updated information that comes along with scientific research and investigation. Yet in the fields of history, science, medicine, psychology, etc. new discoveries are made, and what we thought was true today becomes incomplete or entirely incorrect tomorrow.

We create theories, not just in fields of study, but in our own minds based on our life experiences and perceptions of the world around us. When we don’t understand another’s opinions, beliefs or behavior, it’s often because our perceptions come in a vastly different hue from theirs. As the saying goes, “Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes”.

So if you discover that what you thought was a tree is actually grass, maybe it’s time to laugh and rejoice in your newfound knowledge. When this might deal with a person you struggle to relate to remember as well that even adults have their inner child inside them still. At least that’s what psychology says on ego states. You can read about that here, and this article goes into plenty of detail. At the top of that article there’s a fascinating picture that showcases this, the child inside the adult. I remember well when one of my past well-trusted church leaders, with decades of experience in his field, told a story of how he hired a consultant to help with the breakdowns in trust and communication in the office. The first thing the consultant told him after observing and interviewing, was that the team he worked with weren’t adults behaving as adults. They were adults behaving as children, and that was the problem.

Several months ago, I randomly contemplated this phenomenon about ego states and penned this poem. At least I can’t think of anything that would spur this poem at the time I wrote it. Sometimes, art simply stems from contemplation. But it made me wish to research the phenomenon more. Anyway, please enjoy!

 

The Child Inside

by Aubri Wilson

When you say these words, it is not you

When you act in fear, it is not you

When you hurt me today, it was not you

It is the child inside

It is not all your fault; you weren’t taught

If you never received, how could you give?

 

I can see it in your eyes

How you search for missing pieces

And try your best to live without them

But you don’t know

About the child inside

 

And how I wish I could reassure him

And hold him and wipe tears away

So you could be as strong as you’re meant to be

But he is hiding

And I don’t know how to speak to him

That child inside

Perhaps only you can

 

 

Beside Them in Nature’s Mirror is Here!

I could hardly sleep last night, partly due to the official release of my first poetry chapbook (also my first book ever released). It’s available on Amazon in e-book and print here. You can also check it out on Goodreads here.

Here’s the description: “These poems offer an introspective look into the self as well as the bewitching aspects and contributions of others we adore, a vibrant celebration of friendship, and honest musing on what we learn by gazing with those we admire into a reflection shining back at us from a unique kind of looking glass.”

You may read more about my process of getting to publishing this book here. I also posted earlier this month with some thoughts on the inspiration behind and the process of writing this book.

With this book I’m reminded of the old saying I once sung about in college choir (it was a spectacular rendition), “It takes a village to raise a child”. Well, it takes a village to publish a book I’ve learned. I couldn’t have done it without all the support I’ve had along the way. Thank you to those who believed I could do this before I even had the thought to!

 

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