Five Minute Friday: Laundry

{linking up with Lisa-Jo for Five Minute Friday…She gives us all a writing prompt and we write, uninterrupted, with very little editing for 5 minutes. Imperfect but real…This is my first post. Here it is. Yikes!}

I fight with the daily-ness of life. I wrestle tubs of laundry to the dirty laundromat where I curse a fallen towel and the fact that a quarter only buys me 5 minutes of dryer time. And I wonder where, amidst this mess, I could find the bravery to say a quivering “yes” to the bigger things of life. 
I look across the folding table at the laundromat and I see an abandoned single tiny white baby sock, impossibly small to my eyes unaccustomed to baby things, and I think of the family who left it behind. The story is untold. And the untold story behind someone else’s laundry makes me realize that my own dirty laundry isn’t such an imposition. Maybe it speaks of bigger things.
This blessing of a curse of having to get OUT of my own house and INTO life with other people to do something as simple as wash my laundry sometimes it feels like too much of a metaphor, you know? I like to sit quietly in my quiet house and feel “lonely.” Sometimes being out in a crowd, with a bunch of people screaming and screeching and practically blasting life from a bullhorn makes me feel at once lonelier and startled and scared, like a fawn seeing things out in the world for what they are: that not all humans are friendly, and cars, with their interesting lights and fascinating sounds are actually quite dangerous to a little fawn, and are best avoided. 
God calls me to things outside of myself, outside of my home where I find company in haphazard laundry flung over the sofa, because when this place is fully clean it seems sterile and empty and lifeless. Much like how I feel when I’ve reached the edge of being able to decipher the difference in my life between what is clean and what is dirty and what needs to be washed and what just needs to be hung up again and brushed off. It is difficult, this deciphering, sometimes. It makes words difficult. It makes it nearly impossible for me to find a way to utter “yes.” 
I have to step outside for a moment, and run off the front porch into the clear, lukewarm October evening and spin around and look at the stars and it takes being reminded by stars and abandoned baby socks in laundromats to make me contemplate that maybe I have no air left in my lungs to say yes too loudly, and certainly not enough to shout it over my life. 
Maybe, I think, under the stars, just maybe I have enough to say it with my heart to the God of the heavens who can hear our heart-language, unspoken but felt, as the moon rises early. 

Natalie + Darling Magazine

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a long time, but as much as I write about myself on this here blog, it just seemed hard to write about something so personal to me.
Did you know I’m a poet? 
It’s something I drop hints about here and there, especially if you follow my Twitter, but I’m a writer by heart.
Always have been.

 Darling magazine asked me to write 8 poems for their 1 year anniversary issue, the Fall 2013 issue.The magazine has 8 ‘personas’ of women, such as The Hostess, The Stylist, The Dreamer, and more, and there is one poem for each. Unfortunately, I just found out the print issue SOLD OUT (yay!) but you can buy the online version here or maybe at an Anthropologie if they have any left. It’s pricey, but you’ll never find a more high-quality magazine in all aspects, and it’s something you’ll return to time and again, I promise.

Darling is such a beautiful magazine that uplifts women and inspires us to think about the deeper things with true heart, and to be women who bring everything they have to the table, holding nothing back. In beauty, humility, and truth we aim to share, give and find all of the love we can.
That is what I hoped to capture in my poems for these women with beautiful hearts.

As a special treat for my blog readers, I decided to read you one of the poems about The Beautician persona. This is the unedited video, wherein I get a message on gchat and check it and then forget I’m recording and fix my hair and sigh and then remember I’m recording. Actually, the ending might be the best part. Ha! Enjoy…
Even if you can’t get a copy, you can always find me writing for their online version, too (though these 8 special poems are only in the print and digital magazine issue).
Thanks for all of your support, friends!
PS> That outfit above? Turtleneck: Target // Necklace: Old Urban Outfitters// Skirt: J.Crew//Booties: TJ Maxx// Tights: ??// Sunnies: Local store//

Natalie and Joseph Gordon Levitt

{my favorite sunglasses. yes this is relevant to the post. read on}
Wait, WHAT? I know, I know, the title is a little shocking. Sorry. Let me explain: Joseph Gordon Levitt made a Hollywood movie ABOUT porn (and it’s negative effects), and he made a fun promo video, and Natalie (that’s me) is in the promo video.
Yeah that’s still confusing.
Let me start over: 
Last year I partnered with it! Books by Harper Collins to show you The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories Volumes 1 and 2. The books are produced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (y’know, from Looper/Inception/500 Days of Summer?) and his cool artist-collaboration organization Hit Record. I checked out Hit Record last year and made a profile, uploaded a story, got terribly nervous and stage-fright-y and immediately deleted it.
But this year on Twitter I saw one of Gordon-Levitt’s (JGL from here on out) cries for video from people to answer the questions: What are your favorite things? Can you love things? Can people be your favorite things?
These are some of the questions JGL’s new movie Don Jon (which he wrote, directed, and starred in) explore, along with the themes of pornography and their effects on real-life relationships.
Nothing like a philosophical pondering to get me on board. So one Sunday afternoon when I was bored and feeling on the edge of brave, I fumbled to remember my password to my HitRecord profile and uploaded a video, not expecting anything other than to delete it the next morning when  I came to my senses. But I actually totally forgot about it. My answer was pretty long, but in essence I said, “Yes, people are capable of loving things, and loving people as things, but we shouldn’t.”
But I also told JGL I loved my sunglasses. And apparently he liked them, too.
My video clip made it into one of HitRecord’s new promotional/exploratory videos for the Don Jon movie premiere. Here’s the video (can you see meeeeeeee? I’m even in backwards-motion/black and white all-fancy-like):
I’m really excited for the premiere of this movie. I won’t lie: It’s gritty. It’s graphic, from what I hear. And I have thought long and hard about whether or not that discredits its motive and message. But from where I’m standing, while this is a movie with a message, it isn’t a motive-driven movie. It isn’t a Christian movie (to be honest even Christians don’t like to talk about pornography openly). It’s a vision-driven movie, and that includes the whole artistic vision and the grit that makes it realistic. It showcases JGL’s real creative chops as he steps behind the camera for the first time with a gutsy, bold concept, standing ankle-deep in the dark waters while the sharks of Hollywood criticism wait hungrily.

“Everyone knows it’s fake but they watch it like it’s real life.” ~Don Jon
But a movie in Hollywood written, directed, and starred in by a bona fide star that takes on the porn obsession in American with something other than Photo-shopped, light-drenched, Technicolor Hollywood glory? I’m willing to see where that leads. Here’s the trailer: 

I’ll check back in once I get a chance to see the movie. It premiers tomorrow (Friday, September 27th).

Until then, what are your thoughts?

EDIT Sunday 9/29: Just got back from the movie! I’m sad to say I canNOT recommend you go see it…it is *very* graphic and there are far, far too many F-words. Sorry friends 🙁


Revitalize Part 5

This week I have been sharing a few of the specific things that have helped me get out of a slump!




photo from entrepreneur

When you’re in a slump, even the smallest tasks can feel like the landscape in the Dr. Seuss illustration above…heading nowhere, a difficult slog over mountains and valleys…tough. That’s why making a conscious effort to “slay your dragons first thing” is so important. When you accomplish one monster task first thing in the morning, you set yourself up for success. You give yourself a little confidence boost. And since it’s first thing in the morning, there’s not time for worry or anxiety to build and paralyze. Yesterday I had to get my car inspected and I was dreading it. So I went first thing in the morning, and you know what? I had a great time, laughed with the mechanic, and felt empowered for the rest of the day, rather than brooding over an item on my to-do list. It’s like a productivity domino effect 🙂 I love this image above…I think from here on out I’m going to call it a “Ta-Da!” list 🙂
You can do it, friends!

Categorized as musings

Revitalize Part 4

Time for another one of my tried, true, and tested remedies for “un-slumping” yourself! This one is all about trying new things and challenging your brain and body.

Ya’ll I am ADDICTED to slacklining! Slackline is like a tightrope but it’s a flat line and it’s slack, so it’s bouncy and a bit more difficult. This was totally new to me this year, and I am amazed at how exciting it is to find a new hobby. Slackline is so good for my body and my brain. Plus it’s FUN! The new challenge of applying focus, balance, and commitment (three core principles of slacklining) are really clearing my mind and opening my creative spaces again. Slackline isn’t for everyone, but it’s the principle that matters: try something NEW and SCARY, and see where it gets you. Chances are, it will get you a lot further than you think!



Revitalize Part 3

This week I am sharing some tips that worked for me on the difficult (but necessary and entirely worthwhile) business of un-slumping oneself! 

So we’ve read our Bibles and eaten a healthy breakfast. Time to hit the pavement!
Running/walking (and hot pink shoes!) are part of a great revitalization routine. I went for wog (what I call a walk-jog) BEFORE work today. Seriously, who am I and what are these amazing things called endorphins? They clear the head, clear the stress, clear the adrenaline and anxiety.
Truth be told, I really used to hate running with a passion. I’m still such a beginner, and starting from zero, but my body has started craving runs. I don’t plan to run hard or fast anytime soon (or ever really), but I’ve found it a great outlet of late. I highly recommend an exercise routine that works for you as part of your revitalization.


Sequins & Cords

I’m just not sure. Not sure at all.
Well, I mean, I’m sure I love sequins, corduroys, and ruffled wool cardigans.

I’m also entirely sure that I love the color combination of mint and cantaloupe/peach.  
Totally a winner.

But here’s what I’m not sure of: 
“BE STILL before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.”  
Psalm 37:7a

To be still. To be patient. These are virtues that are utterly difficult for this stubborn, hurting heart of mine. 
But these are virtues He is calling me to. 
He is inviting me into His presence as I wait. 
He invites His darlings to come, and wait, and watch.
To hope.
To expect miracles. 
To adore Him in silence. 
To pour out the oil of our inner hearts by worshipping Him in presence and patience.
Not to be doormats. Not to be unable to make decisions. Not to be silenced. 
But to be laying down control, so we may pick up contentment.
I want now. But You want WHOLE for me. I want here. But You want BEST for me. I want more. But You want ALL for me.
My stubborn, selfish heart wants now, here, and more.
Father, You have whole, best, and all for me. 
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under Heaven.” 
Ecclesiastes 3:1

May I wait with purpose, patiently, in your presence, pouring out my spirit so that I may be filled with Yours.

Sister Sunday: Girl Versus Dough

I really love this idea that Kristin at Lily&Light (she’s on my sidebar this month, YAY!) came up with, as a way to celebrate, collaborate, and create community: Sister Sunday. It’s a special post dedicated to another blogger that you admire and want to share. So who better to share than my actual Sister (ok, in-law, if we wanna get technical), who also happens to be my Minnetonka Thunderbird Mocassins twin? Love it. 

Girl Versus Dough & Good Girl Style aka Stephanie & Natalie
Stephanie is a foodie blogger and a great photographer, and I happen to have it on good authority that she’s also pretty great as a teammate for Trivial Pursuit, she makes a delicious cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving, and not only do we have matching mocs, we have matching coats. Oops. Slash awesome. 
Oh, and did I mention when I ask her to jump and reach for the giant Medieval-y chandelier so I can take a picture, she does it?
Yeah, awesome
Pop on over and say hello to my sister-in-law Stephanie
Happy Sunday!
Categorized as musings

Guest Post from Katie: Knitting in Albania

Hello, friends! Today I’d like to introduce you to my in-real-life friend, Katie Hawkins! Katie is currently serving as a missionary in Albania. I’m just so thrilled that she took some time out of her busy life halfway across the world to share with us one of the things she’s learned as a missionary: asking to learn from others. What a powerful way to build community! Instead of always sharing our passions with others, look what can come from asking to learn their passions:

I once tried to learn how to knit a long time ago from the internet. I couldn’t do it. Who would have guessed that years later I’d learn to knit in another language! 

I’ve been living in Albania for almost 2 years now. Knitting is crazy here. If speed knitting were an Olympic sport, I’m pretty sure every Albanian woman would qualify. And they don’t even look at what they are knitting. They can carry on conversations and keep eye contact with you the whole time. It’s pretty crazy. 

I feel like practically every single woman knows how to knit. They knit socks, hats and shirts the most. Not because they are trendy but because they need them for winter to stay warm. Many times, they even spin their own wool. Because it’s cheaper than buying yarn already colored and spun (which you can get for $1.50 here).

Me attempting to spin yarn. It’s way harder than it looks.

You can see women knitting all the time everywhere: on their porches, on the side of the road, by their fireplaces, near their sheep/cattle as they wait for them to eat. So I figured if I was ever going to learn to knit, surely Albania would be the place. 

But to be honest, I was pretty scarred from my first attempt to learn. I tried to make a scarf but it was so wavy that I almost got seasick just looking at it.

I didn’t really want to go back down that road. But since I wanted to become better friends with one of the ladies I live with, I thought it’d be a great way to spend some informal time getting to know her. 

So I asked if she could teach me. {Read more after the jump…it’s a bit long, but worth it :-)}

She got a huge smile on her face and said of course! I started with a sock. She let me use her needles but when I hadn’t finished the first sock nearly two weeks later, she asked if she could finish them for me because she needed her needles back. 20 minutes later, she had finished both socks for me. My first pair of socks!

Yes. The color is that obnoxious. I didn’t have much color choice.

But during that time, she came to my house more to check on my sock’s progress. I went to her house more because I often got stuck and needed help. And guess what. Because we saw each other more, we got to know each other more!
And so I started another pair of socks. After I went and bought my own needles so I could knit at my own pace! But I was getting brave. I used two colors! And made lines in them!

Much better color. I actually wear these when other people are around.

There are two other women who live in the same gated area too. After I got started with my new sock project, one of the other ladies began to check on me. And offer her help. And sit with me while I knitted. 
So I began to ask her for help too.
Then my landlady began to check in on my knitting. And soon, I was recruiting her for help. Before I knew it, my roommate (who was starting to learn to knit at this point) and I would be spending a couple hours several times a week knitting with these women. And guess what happened.
We learned about their pasts. We learned about where they grew up. What life was like in Albania as a child in a village. We heard about funny childhood memories. We heard stories about when their kids were younger. We learned more about them. They learned more about us. We connected. We bonded. We deepened our relationships with each other.
All because I asked for help for something I wasn’t even sure I wanted to learn how to do. 
When I asked these women to teach me how to knit, they loved it! Now, anytime people come over, one of the first things they do is brag on my roommate and I because we know how to knit. It makes us more Albanian and the Albanians prouder!

Me knitting with my Albanian grandmother while she spins wool. Never thought I’d be able to say that!

Ok, technically, we only know two stitches and neither of us have yet to finish a project by ourselves. So the they use the term “know how to knit” very loosely when describing our capabilities. But they are just so happy they could teach us and share their passion for knitting with us. 

They don’t really care if we don’t love it as much as them. They just love the fact that we are interested in something they love so much and are willing to try to learn. They know we aren’t good. But they don’t care. They care that we want to learn from them.
I know I love to share little bits of wisdom about my passions with people. I don’t care if someone is starting out or just curious. I just love to pass on any revelation or bits of advice about the things I love. But how many times have I missed an opportunity to share because someone didn’t ask?
How many times has someone else missed an opportunity to share their passions because I didn’t ask? Maybe instead of offering our help all the time, we should ask for help more too. Chances are, when someone is passionate about something, they will be more than happy to help. And who knows, an acquaintance might become a friend…or three!
Who can you learn from this month?

Categorized as musings

Coffee Date Vlog 3!

Crazy to think it’s been 3 weeks since I started this fun vlogging thing, but it’s true! Lighting is such a massive issue in my house, so again, sorry for the terrible lighting. Ugh this gets more embarrassing every week and yet I love it!
Now, the fun little things:
1.) See all of the new pretty little social media buttons on the right sidebar? Catch me on some other social media platforms for extra so-called wit/dorkiness/useful content/music/etc. 
2.) Modcloth’s big sale is sadly no longer happening, but they always have amazing stuff in their sale section, and their prices overall are fantastic anyway. Shop ModCloth
3.) Don’t you think it would be awesome if I traveled around and spoke about faith-based fashion? I kind of think it would be super awesome (but I might be a tad biased!).
4.) I’m so very excited to have Lily & Light on my sidebar this month! Ya’ll shout out to sweet Kristin!
5.) I really want these. Really, really, want these floral striped staws!

Linking up with Rags to Stitches for Coffee Date!

That’s all for now, but as you can see, I’m a bit #caffeinecrazy so I might be back later 😉

Categorized as musings, vlog