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Old Souls

Have you ever been told you were an “old soul”? I actually don’t recall exact instances, but I have been several times. A few weeks ago I was listening to woman a number of years younger than I struggle to come up with fun facts about herself in a get to know you game. She seemed to think she was boring because she loved to do things like read and knit, which are kind of rare for someone in their 20s. She made some comment like, “I’m weird”, and seemed slightly apologetic. She reminded me of myself really only a few years ago. For much of my life, I had a fear that I was boring. I smiled at her and said it sounded like she was an old soul. I meant it as a compliment.

That probably led me to thinking about myself as an “old soul” recently. Last week I took a Playbuzz quiz to determine the age of my soul. It told me mine was 55. Really? I was hoping for at least 65. I was slightly disappointed. But today I took another one that categorized me as an “Ancient Soul”, even older than just an “old soul”! These are fun and the term “old soul” is a social one, not having any basis in psychology.

But what I’ve heard and read is nearly all relatable to me from not fitting in with peers or following a crowd, preferring the company of people older than myself, being seen as mature (especially for my age when I was younger), loving to learn about history, enjoying spending time by myself, being introspective, having a spiritual focus, not being so interested in the latest trends or fads etc. I’d rather have fewer deep connections than many more shallow ones. I’d rather be alone to have quality time with me than to go out on a weekend just to go out. I don’t need to get a new phone every year. I love classical music and appreciate classic literature.

I don’t believe in reincarnation, as some do and think that “old souls” are those who have simply learned from many past lives. However, I was fascinated to see that the term may have come from China (I’m a sinophile since 2012). Or at least this article points to Chinese Taoism as the origin of the idea.

As an “old soul” I wouldn’t change how I am. I can’t imagine being me and not being thought of or thinking of myself as one. Do you feel like an old soul? How do you feel about it? Maybe some of the challenges mentioned in this article will be relatable. Many of them are for me (not all or all perfectly, but close).

Do you know any “old souls”? Do you think it’s true that artists tend to be in that category? Writers? Poets?

Or do you really believe in “old souls”? And if you do, do you believe them when they speak? There is something about recording memories and ideas in the written word, especially in poetry, that brings out a way of looking at the world differently. And perhaps I often feel most like an “old soul” in the moment of creating a poem.

Of Emotion and Music Without Words

Below is a poem I penned on the twelfth day of March this year:

I try to show my emotion

But it gets twisted and broken

When it comes out

Like my whisper became a shout

It morphs and it moves

I didn’t mean it to be so used

You may be confused

If you would offer it back to me

The elusive string I faintly see

This time I’ll wrap it up strong

To give in a way that won’t be wrong

 

Have you ever felt this way? Like you couldn’t express your emotions quite right, or in a way that would be understood? That you couldn’t find the right words to use? That you had trouble connecting with others?

When I was a kid, long before Disney’s Frozen came out, I watched The Snow Queen, the original English dub of the Russian animated version of 1957. This was based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale published in 1844. I was charmed by the storyteller’s twirling umbrella, and Kai and Gerda’s friendship and their declaration to always be friends and love each other and be happy together forever. I’d forgotten until recently that Gerda asked Kai in this version to be his girlfriend.

And maybe watching things like this gave me ideas because when I reviewed one of my earliest journals a year ago, I was reminded by my six year old self that I met my first boyfriend in the first grade. Said boyfriend probably never knew it and so wouldn’t be bothered when I decided a few days later that we weren’t dating anymore because he was “gross”. I don’t think I’d have ever admitted to him that I felt differently before I saw him pick his nose and make a snack of it.

Back to the Snow Queen. When Kai gets the enchanted glass stuck in his eye and is rude to Gerda I might not have cried with her, but gosh, I felt something prickly in my stomach. I remember being confused when in captivity the Snow Queen tells him that “flowers, beauty, joy, and love are all illusions” and he must forget them, as she’s retold him many times before. Who could feel that way? Or rather, not feel? I love that this story ends with the girl coming to the guy’s rescue. This animated version doesn’t show it, but in the tale, she kisses him and in any version, I think, it’s clear that her love is what breaks the spell.

I wanted to be strong and brave like Gerda, but sometimes I felt more like the Snow Queen! The other day I was listening to Freya Riding’s “You Mean the World to Me”, which professes she’s not an “ice queen” even though she does not let show how she feels and she could be “pretty mean”. Ouch.

 

 

Growing up, I felt like an old soul (perhaps more on this specific topic soon) and somewhat disconnected from my peers and the things they talked and cared about. I preferred classical music without words, that could convey so much emotion I couldn’t express through speaking. I loved old movies and old books and sometimes I preferred the company of adults to kids my own age. I’d sit and listen to their stories and learn. I liked reading about simpler times and looking at old photographs. And sometimes I just felt at a loss when it came to joining in conversations in school, because I couldn’t always relate. I so wanted to connect but felt misunderstood. I was sure people thought I was aloof and standoffish and once heard someone say I was intimidating.

Music without words, specifically classical music, has always been on an entirely different sphere for me. Take a look at how it transcends time here.

While things have become much easier in adulthood, life is also more complex! Sometimes I wish an appropriate response would be, “Here, listen to this classical piece. That’s how I feel.” And no, don’t worry, it’ll only take around 15-30 minutes. But, to save you some, times here’s a very short little piece that I can honestly say is good example of how it feels when I write-the wonder, the discovery, the joy in creating. Can you feel it too?

 

 

Saudade

It’s hard to describe what the last month has been like for me. Have you ever learned a second language, or third or fourth perhaps (Yes, I am jealous of the polyglots out there) and learned a word that cannot be translated into your mother tongue? But you kind of wish that word existed in your first language because you’d like to use it as the meaning is so deep and powerful, or would just be convenient and effective to get your point across? Well, although I don’t have a full understanding of the word, the Portuguese term “saudade” comes to mind. Please see this valiant attempt at defining “saudade” here. Perhaps I feel a bit of the longing for April, and although it’s been only a few days past, I’m already missing National Poetry Month.

This was the second year I celebrated by writing a poem each day, following the challenge found here on this blog that blooms with poetry form instructions during April. Here’s a look back on how I celebrated this year in a more expansive way than before and how that felt. It’s a feeling of saudade or something akin to it perhaps, as I write this. Thankfully, there will be another National Poetry Month next year!

  1. I wrote a poem each day with a different form. Some I’d tried before in the past few years of poetry challenges or in school, but some were new. Outside of poetry month, I almost always stick to writing free verse. But just like when I had to write essays in school, I felt a bit of excitement at seeing where my creativity would go when guidelines were in place. Sometimes working within a framework enhances, rather than limits, your potential. Some days I wrote an extra poem or two just for fun.
  2. I felt things! Much of my poetry was about my personal experiences during the month or things I’ve observed or about certain people in my life. And these were all over the map. They variously made me feel nostalgic, excited, mischievous, vulnerable, powerful, surprised, amused, reflective, mysterious, grateful, creative, giddy, hopeful, fun, expressive, and more self-aware. Always more self-aware and more connected. I just smiled and smiled for a while after writing some of the poems, or even laughed. And with one in particular, I cried while writing it and afterward while reading and rereading it about ten times.
  3. I shared my poetry and my love of it and made connections! How did I do this?
    1. I shared each poem I wrote for the challenge in a private Facebook group set up for participants of the poetry challenge I’ve mentioned earlier. What a great way to get some positive feedback and see others’ work! I also shared a few of these poems on my Facebook author page.
    2. I printed copies of a few poems I’d written in the past and handed them out to a handful of people on the 18th for Poem in Your Pocket Day.
    3. I shared two of my original poems on a podcast. Read about that experience and find the link to the episode here.
    4. I hosted a private poetry night. With a delightful and intimate group of intelligent and art-appreciating people, we shared poems we enjoyed, and in some cases, poems we’d written ourselves. I recorded myself reading one of mine to the group, but felt a bit awkward in the moment and will rerecord later when I can read with more of the feeling behind it! I did not make it to an open mic as I’d wanted, but this was a good replacement.
    5. I did a sidewalk chalk poem! On the penultimate day of poetry month, I wrote out a poem at the MCC Rose Garden in the Veteran’s section of the garden. As this was perhaps the most impactful experience of the month, I will discuss it further.

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I wanted an Emily Dickinson poem (as I am related to her) and while I flipped through a tome of her entire retained poems, my incredibly supportive boyfriend found one with a rose in the title faster than I could. I somewhat randomly chose an area on the sidewalk and wrote out the poem as my boyfriend read it to me. (Note: If you do a sidewalk chalk poem in future, make sure to bring a kneeling mat or wear a knee pad or even just bring a towel. It’s not very comfortable to kneel down on a sidewalk with zero protection like I did. And do check your poem after finishing. I admittedly forgot to capitalize a few words that Dickinson did stylistically. DO get a chalk holder like I did to avoid getting dust all over your hands)

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After I’d chosen the spot, my boyfriend noted that it was in the Veteran’s section, which I did not realize. A bit later he mentioned how appropriate the poem was for the place and time. You see, it was exactly one year after his dad, who was a veteran who had served in the navy, passed away. It was also less than a month away from the 12th anniversary of my grandfather’s death. He served in World War II. As I stood and read the poem I’d written, the significance of it all hit me. Nobody can know a rose once it’s gone. And on the ultimate day of poetry month, I penned the following shadorama poem as I reflected on the experience:

Oh roses
With varied faces
Do you hear
And witness
Every gentle visitor
Seeking grace and rest

A woman who’d been watching curiously approached and praised my handwriting and the idea. That was a good feeling. My hope was that at least a handful of people would unexpectedly find the poem and find in it some bit of meaning. The next evening, I found myself driving again to the garden, just to see if my poem was still there. It was indeed, and I caught someone reading it! I’m not sure how long it will stay, or if it is gone already, but at least perhaps a few souls found a bit of pleasure in it, even if it was more like saudade.

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I learned about the word “saudade” from the music video below, which to me demonstrates the powerful ability of art to convey emotion and tell a story in a unique way. There is a making of video you can search for as well, that makes this story even more potent. For example, from context in the making of video, I gathered that the box of things that the actress is staring at in the beginning and end of the video seems to represent the last items that the father of the girl who inspired the video used on his final trip on earth. Enjoy!

Warning: This may be a tearjerker for some viewers. But I love the message found here! While remembering things gone, you recall the wonderful parts that make you miss that someone or something, and find joy in that remembering.

Singled Out in a Podcast

So, this past week I did something new. I did something that scared me (kind of)! I’m thinking back to my very early post Fear and Creativity. This made me a little nervous, but I was part of a podcast, an amazingly funny and insightful podcast by two incredible gals, Alyssa and Emma. Listen to their podcast Singled Out on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or any other major podcast platform! If you want to laugh more in your life and hear astute bits of juicy knowledge on singlehood and dating, follow them on Instagram @wearesingledout, like The Singled Out Podcast on Facebook and be a part of the community by joining the Singled Out Facebook group!

Please check out the episode I was in and have the chance to hear me read two of my original poems (plus the text of Billy Joel’s “And So it Goes”) in honor of National Poetry Month. Among other fun questions, Emma and Alyssa dissected my poems with me. My favorite part of poetry may not always even be expressing myself and getting out thoughts in a way that can’t be done anywhere else. It may be making a connection with the reader.

We took a bit of time to discuss vulnerability in dating and in poetry on the podcast, and as I thought a bit about that, I created this incredibly amazing quote (haha) that maybe someday someone will spend time interpreting and dissecting in it’s simple complexity.

“Life isn’t a cupcake with sprinkles, decorated and displayed just right. It’s a tough steak that bleeds as it cooks, and is often eaten before it is well done.”-Aubri Wilson

The first poem I read I already shared here in a previous post: What if….?

Here is the text of the second poem I read on the podcast (check the podcast for background behind it and to hear me read it!):

 

You Tell Me


You tell me that I’m beautiful

It means nothing to me

Because of every stranger who said it

And wanted something for nothing

And still I don’t know you

Really, you’re nearly as much

A stranger as them


And I can’t admit as you stare

The only one I ever wanted to

Hear it from never said it once


You tell me that I’m beautiful

And if you were smarter

You’d wait to tell me

If you knew me better

You’d be patient and say it again

And again every day

Until I believed you meant it


You tell me that I’m beautiful

It means nothing to me

Because of what hasn’t happened yet

But you say it differently

Like you have more to say

And I want to lean in

Despite myself to hear it

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.

 

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