I have always been a magical thinker with a rich fantasy life. I'll believe in anything. To this day, I'm an extremely lucid dreamer and thanks to my anxiety disorder I can tell you in graphic detail if asked, "What's the worst that can happen?" exactly what can happen. My first magical belief was in that of my invisible (to everyone but me) horse. He was pure white with a flowing mane and tail. His name was Lawnmower. It was a practical name because when I wasn't riding him he grazed on our lawn. Occasionally if my family went somewhere, like the grocery store for example, I would tie him up to the trailer hitch and he would trot along behind the car to the store. He didn't like being left behind. I'm still amazed that no one that I recall ever tried to convince me he wasn't real. Sometimes I would reprimand my mother when I felt that she was speeding that she must slow down because, "Lawnmower can't keep up with us!" It must have troubled my parents and grandparents enough though that by the time I was three, my paternal grandparents had bought me a pony that they kept at their farm. I don't remember saying goodbye to Lawnmower when my flesh and bone pony, Blaze, came along. I still feel kind of guilty about that. Sorry, Lawnmower. Wherever you are.
In the 3rd grade, I began my search for bigfoot. By now my grandparents had moved to a house that would become the setting for a great many adventures. The house sits on a hill above the Finley River. All told there were hundreds of acres to explore. My friend, Amy, and I would set out on our ponies in the morning and spend the day building forts and looking for supernatural creatures. At night, we would lie on our backs on the still warm, sun baked cement of the driveway and look for UFOs. One very early morning my granny woke me and led me out to see the purple sky. If you want to scare the bejesus out of an 8 year old, wake them up in the middle of the night and show them a very rare midwest occurrence of the northern lights. It terrified and amazed me but only served to prove my point - very strange and mysterious things DO happen! I was basically living my own version of the X-Files before that show was ever conceived.
I grew up in two different churches. On most weekends I went to church with my grandparents because I usually slept over at their house to have access to my dream world and my ponies. They attended an Assembly of God church where occasionally, as best I can explain it, people were overcome by the by the holy spirit, or some spirit and would spontaneously begin speaking in tongues. (If that's not supernatural, I don't know what is.) The other Sundays I spent learning how to be a Catholic. Naturally I didn't appreciate the education I got then as much as I do now. Catholics believe in the supernatural and while I doubt that any priest would agree with me that bigfoot is out there, my own parish priest did not disagree with my husband when he (tongue in cheek, maybe?) made the comment that Catholics were responsible for creating vampires. Father Reidy probably doesn't believe in bigfoot, but I know he believes in miracles. He has to, it's kind of a Catholic "thing".
This could be part of the reason why I love Milagros so much. Milagro translates to "miracle" in English. Milagros are usually made of tin but can be made of wood, bone or even wax. They can be purchased anywhere now but were traditionally bought from street vendors outside of cathedrals in latin America and Spain. If you have a special intention for God, you find the milagro that corresponds to your prayer. There are milagros for breast cancer, smoking cessation, depression and pregnancy. You can find arms and legs, ovaries, teeth, cows, pigs and virtually anything else you can think of that might become a problem in your life has a corresponding milagro. I haven't yet seen a milagro in the shape of a computer hard drive that has crashed. (I'm just handing somebody a great idea here!) Some milagros are plain hammered tin, some might be considered gaudy, but others are incredibly detailed works of art.
I love using heart milagros in my jewelry. I can't afford the vintage ones that I love, but I purchase the plainer ones and then my husband, Doug, paints them for me. Below are the "before and after" pictures of one of my favorite heart milagros.
This milagro of an eye with a tear is for relief of depression.
I'm still looking for the "anxiety" milagro. It would look like a person with their head exploding, like this image from the Huffington Post.
The not so distant cousin of milagros are nichos. Nichos are usually made of tin and are commonly decorated with Catholic icons. I'm also a huge nicho fan, because they are places that you could squirrel away little mementos. Doug made a heart nicho that I secretly hope nobody will ever purchase. I haven't put anything inside the nicho yet, but I'm looking for apparently newly minted anxiety milagros to fill it with. (Shameless plug for Doug's art: http://etsy.me/1KSG8JP
A nicho would also be the perfect place to put your bigfoot fur or alien bits and pieces or ghostly ectoplasm. A word of caution here: Ectoplasm should always be kept in a glass vial. Do not attempt to put it directly inside a nicho and expect it to still be there tomorrow. As soon as I find definitive proof of any or all of the above I will definitely post my pictures of them here, on this blog right after I contact Fox News. In the meantime, if you have any such specimens you should definitely drop me a note. I may either try to purchase your evidence or sell you a nicho to keep it in. After that we'll go to mass and pray for the general population of the world to catch up with all of the "believers" and lucid dreamers. Or maybe not. Maybe it can just be our little secret. Our secret that we share only with the saints and the forgers of all of the new fangled milagros.
I like to take photographs of my jewelry outside on a cloudy day, or in the shade on a sunny day. Natural light makes the best photo filter. Today in Missouri the weather isn't fit for man nor beast though. It's cloudy enough, but the wind is blowing at around 30 mph and it is cold. I'm not a fan. I question the intelligence of people that go places where it's cold on purpose. As far as I can tell skiers and snowboarders and all of those winter Olympics type people are soft in the head. I'll take bluebird skies and sun dappled water and a gentle, floating breeze. Blustery days actually add to my anxiety and I've always hated them. I wish I could say why, but I can't.
In my younger days, I rode horses quite a bit. Every chance I could actually and there was no place I was happier than on the back of a horse but horses too dislike the wind. It may be because they are like deer, and the wind interferes with their ability to hear well, or it may be because the wind blows up things that startle them. On a particularly gusty day several years ago I came off a horse when an errant plastic WalMart bag that was previously attached to a tree limb became airborne and floated like a phantom across his path. I hate plastic bags as much as the next person but my horse, Lasher, was convinced that it was the most terrifying alien creature he'd ever seen. He went one way in an effort to dodge the crinkly, grey phantom and I went another. After the incident he had the audacity to stop about three feet from me where he lowered his head, snorted and looked at me as if to say, "You're so dramatic. It wasn't that scary." As I sat on the dirt trying to decide if I was injured or not a sign that I'd seen at a stable I visited once came to mind. It read, "If you're not going to the ER you're getting back on." I got up and grabbed the reins. I know some people who would give the horse a smack after pulling such a stunt, but this is the horse that licked my husband, Doug, back to consciousness after he fell from a ladder. To be fair, my husband was on the ladder because he had been building a run in shed for the horses, but it was still very kind and thoughtful of Lasher to lick his face to make sure he was still living. It could also have been an act of pure selfishness because he also knew that there would be no grain in his bucket with the stable boy passed out on the ground. I guess it is pretty presumptuous of me to think I know the mind of a horse.
Today, being a very nasty, damn the weather type day, no outside photographs were possible. Well, not possible by me. Someone made of heartier stuff might have been able to withstand it. There's actually a cocktail called "Damn the Weather". I don't know how you make it, but I remember reading the recipe in one of my parents' cocktail books when I was far too young to drink and thought, "That's a really cool name for a cocktail." Maybe I was just easily impressed. It probably has whiskey in it and I hate whiskey. So, without any cocktails at all I finished a necklace today and desperately wanted to take pictures of it, but couldn't. There is something inside me, left over from school probably, that gives me a sense of urgency when I finish something. It's almost like I have a self imposed deadline or a "due date" and I'm going to get a bad grade if I don't photograph it and list it immediately. I did manage to take the picture of the piece on my dress model. (Her name is Pearl. She's quiet. I like her.)
Tomorrow perhaps it will be less windy and I will be able to go back outside and take photographs of the necklace lying flat so you can see it more clearly. If it's still windy like this, you might find that I've given myself over to the whiskey because I've about reached my limit for tolerating "damn the weather" days.
Because I'm a good student I've been doing a lot of reading about blogging. I have read several "how to" blogs. I thought I'd give it a go. As far as I can tell, this then is the ultimate blog post. You're welcome.
Here's a big "shouty" headline. Yeah, I know, it's low resolution but it's ORANGE! So, I get 10 point for using orange because apparently that's a "rule" or a "thing" and I have purposely used a pretty awful font. The headline is compelling though, because you're eyes like the colors and your brain is trying to define "shouty" which means that I'm attempting to grab your attention.
You're supposed include a "list". People love to read lists. So, fine. Here's my list of things I hate about lists. I know you read the headline because it is purple. Awwwww...Inside all of us is an 11 year old girl.
• 1) Making me read a list is an assumption that my attention span is no longer than a list with no more than 25 items.
• 2) This list is going to contain information that is neither educational nor useful, so you've just wasted your time, but you've read a list.
• 3) If I'm reading your list I have successfully navigated through a number of ads. In my attempt to read your list if I click on the wrong arrow for "next" then I'm going to be directed to a list of ways to reduce my belly fat.
• 4) If these are targeted ads then I am really insulted that you think I'm concerned about belly fat. That's kinda personal. I'll eat an banana or an avocado every day if I have to, but I'm pretty sure that diet and exercise are the "trick" to removing belly fat.
• 5) It's harder to spell "avocado" from memory than you think. My brain wants to spell it "a-v-a-c-a-d-o" and spellcheck doesn't like that. Thank you Google.
• 6) I'm now knee deep in your recipe and I haven't got a lot of time. I am making your crock pot beef and noodles because I'm in a rush, so I don't have time to read about you and your grandson's trip to the pond to feed the geese stale bread while I'm trying to get through an ingredient list. Thanks though. He IS a cutie!
• 7) I'm already a subscriber to a daily horoscope, so I don't want to know what my horoscope is for the next decade. I really just want to know what the next...
You're not a Capricorn? Sorry! Keep reading this list though, because your sign might be listed after my next bullet point!
• 8) The Baldwin brothers are all aliens.
• 9) Alec Baldwin is living a life of misery pretending to be human, all the while living as a man trapped in a woman's body!
• 10) Thank GOD! I'm at the end of this miserable list. Keep reading for the simplest recipe for scrumptious dog treats.
Just kidding! There's no recipe for scrumptious dog treats. Dogs like other dogs' butts. Give them a Milk Bone. They're fine with that. I love Bull Dogs.
Above is an actual list of the top 10 dog treat recipes. (That means I can mark another item from my "to do list", which is link your blog back to others' blogs. Apparently this is just common sense and good blogging form. It may encourage others to link back to your blog which will increase your number of "views" and "likes" and "pins" and "shares".
You're almost ready to publish your own blog! I'd make a list of top ten ways to start your own blog, but that would be redundant. There are over a million results on Google for the proper way to blog. Good luck weeding through all of the twisted tendrils of blogging for beginners. You'll be just fine. My advice is to just be authentic. Whatever you do be AUTHENTIC. People can see right through your attempt to adopt someone else's style.
For good measure I'm ending this blog post today with another bit of wisdom from bloggers everywhere. Always include cute animal videos. Warning: you will have to sit through a short Tide advertisement. Tide is good though, and we all need clean clothes.
I hope you have been informed, entertained and educated by my "Ultimate Blog Post". Please share on Pinterest. Please to mindful though, that it's bad etiquette to repin an ENTIRE person's Pinterest page. Don't be that person. Pin, but to not RAID my Pinterest board, for I shall be forced to BLOCK you from ALL of my precious boards.
Have a great weekend! I will post some way less predictable blog posts nest week. Mostly in story form because that is my authentic voice. If you like to see cute cat videos though, please post that in the comments and I will be sure to oblige you! ~ Namaste, Natalie
Perfect strangers seem to be compelled to tell me things. I sometimes think I should have been a detective or a judge. My job would have been so easy!
"Yes, your honor, for weeks I put a thimble full of anti-freeze in his orange juice. He commented how sweet it was, which I didn't expect, you know, so then I told him it was the Tropicana. 'Fresh squeezed is a little sweeter than concentrate,' I told him. It was just then that his heart attacked him."
The court reporter, prosecutor and defense attorneys would shake their heads in amazement at what had just transpired and I'd just smile and bang my gavel and say, "Next case!" Seriously, the jail would be overrun in no time.
Recently I was eating at a fast food burger place called Freddy's. It's kind of like Steak N Shake, only you have to order at the counter and they don't have a black and white checked floor. They do have frozen custard. (If you've never had frozen custard, OMG. It's so good.) I'd gone back up to the counter to order a turtle concrete. The young woman at the counter wore a brass Ethiopian Coptic cross on a simple leather cord around her neck. When you make jewelry you always notice other people's jewelry. It's like when you've just bought a new car and until you bought it you'd never noticed another red Toyota Venza on the road, but now you see them everywhere!
I saw the cross before I saw her face. Springfield, Missouri is the big, fat silver rodeo trophy buckle of the bible belt. I know this fact may be disputed by other towns, but we're home to the headquarters of the Assembly of God church, so your argument is now invalid. You often see crosses and crucifixes. Sometimes you see an Om. An Om is usually worn by one of those "parking lot" moms who congregate in the school lot after morning drop off sporting their Under Armor or Lululemon and running shoes and perfect hair and makeup. Apparently Om bracelets make you burn calories faster. I'm not in any way mocking "parking lot moms". If I didn't hate running, I'd totally join your group because I love Om bracelets.
I simply had to comment on it. It was such an odd sight, like seeing a black bear in your front yard. It's not like it can't happen, but it would be peculiar. "I like your Coptic cross!" I said.
"Oh, thanks!" she said brightly. "It's my..." she looked up like she was trying to do math in her head. "Talisman!" She'd found the word. "My friends gave it to me. They say it will protect me from my anxiety," she continued. She was young and fragile looking with unnaturally black hair and red lipstick.
I couldn't tell what she was more proud of. Having friends that are thoughtful enough to gift you with a talisman or the ability to remember the word. Either way I was somewhat stunned that she offered up the fact that she suffered with anxiety disorder without any hesitation.
There I was, torn between saying, "Me too," and just smiling and walking away with my custard. I decided I'd better keep the line behind me from growing any longer and just smile and collect my change and leave. I wondered then though, if it was my "tell me everything" face or if it's just that ordinary for people of her generation to talk about having anxiety disorder. Maybe anxiety disorder is an epidemic these days and there are far more people in my "tribe" than I realize?
She believed that her talisman was insulating her. I will never, ever argue with that logic. Her brass cross kept her gnawing, clawing panic away. I totally get it. My rutilated quartz pendant is calming and my old Durga amulet will give me confidence if I know I'm going to face conflict that day. Sting wears an ancient Tibetan DZI bead and Cameron Diaz wears a delicate evil eye pendant around her neck. Maybe they are fashion statements or maybe even celebrities have insecurities and issues that a seemingly magical piece of metal or stone can ward away.
If you like the Coptic cross in the picture you can see it here: