So, the other night I'm wrestling with this damn bustle skirt...
The base is a black vintage slip, and I've already cut out a darker variety of tiered layers- a burgundy chiffon, a beige and black striped silk, a barely-yellow polka dotted dark green poly/silk blend from old Victoria's Secret pajama bottoms, and, of course, vintage lace.
It's 3:43 am. My manic side has taken over, as I know that anything I can make- I can sell. My flight out to Symbiosis, a festival I'm vending at near Pyramid Lake, Nevada, departs at 7:28 am. My late-night logic? Do everything I absolutely CaN'T do in the desert--it would be quite ludicrous to bring a sewing machine, or have pheasant pelts and piles of strung rooster schlappen tumbling around the desert sand whilst greeting customers with floofy down loftily floating around in the breeze, my hot glue gun in my hand, and a cracked-out smile on my face. Glue the feather bunches now, assemble and wire-wrap later. Silk and lace bustle skirts now, hand-sewn leather belt pouches later. I know it might be my last chance to make some cash before the haze of the still, somber, humid scorcher of New Orleans' summer, where everything (business included) slows wayy, waaay down. South, I'd say.
I'm just about to sew the edges of all the layers so they don't fray, but the needle in my sewing machine is made for thin leather, canvas, and denim. It's the only needle leftover that hasn't broken from my previous week-long Fashion Show efforts. I eye the see-through burgundy chiffon warily, glancing back at the formidable 18/110 needle. What choice do I have? At this point, I don't give a fuck. I fold over the marooned macrame, clunk down the presser foot, and blindly feel underneath my table until my foot catches the pedal. I floor it.
There's a slight thudding sound that progresses in calamity within 2 nanoseconds, AAAnnnnDDD: the needle snaps in 2, the head dangling pathetically from loosely coiled thread laying defeatedly in my pile of intended bustle skirt tiers.
The snap of metal signaled the breaking point within my being.
I was DONE.
Done tiring myself endlessly for exceeded expectations, DONE trying to produce more that lacked the inspired creativity art needs to BeGiN with, DONE chasing this green currency that is the only recognized form of energy in our society today, DONE beating myself up for never having enough, not being prepared, GUESS WHAT!? DoNe! Ya Heard?
I stood up, looked around at the slovenly glorious mess of my design room, and picked up my Nikon D90. I shut the tall wooden french doors, stood my leopard-printed mannequin on a table, and started adorning her and snapping shots, outfit after outfit, turning her different angles; front, back. Documenting. You're a designer, Natalie. Share your designs. Let everyone see the magic you can create. This is the priority. Don't just let these items be sold, never to be seen again, like a whisper in the night. After all your hard work.... what was it for, really? Just the fashion show, in which the lighting, after hours of you toiling over perfect stitch details, consisted of glow lights and a lone alligator clamp light? No! It's for your.... Portfolio.... Yes.
And slowly, with each exposure, the awareness inside of me opened with the shutters. A broader sense of self seeped in, and for the first time in a while of the constant wheel and the whirl, my Higher Self... smiled. I knew, in this inexplicable instant, that regardless of the fate of this Kickstarter madness, that I am already perfectly where I need to be. It doesn't matter if I reach my "Goal"-- what is this far-off ambition whose attachment causes so much worry, guilt, and suffering? No! No matter! I am already there. I am where I want to be. I bring beauty into the world. I create. Magic. I weave, I laugh, I sing to the moon, I inspire others, I take the old, the ugly, the forgotten, the discarded, and transform it. I re-imagine, and I re-invent. And people GASP when they see what I've created with my hands! What else could I possibly ask for than to GIVE like that?
I thought back to Saturday... the self-proclaimed epitome of everything from the entire year, my last chance to generate pledges from the very community my designs are inspired by RiGhT before the Kickstarter Drive ended. All of my friends, coming over to my place to participate in the performance and help model. Leah, sewing on elastic and combs to my unfinished headdresses, patiently saying, "No problem, honey. I got you." Sasha, insisting on wearing silver sequined booty shorts to offset his tribal coat and fedora. Me, reluctantly agreeing and us all bursting with laughter as he paraded around the house. Ryan, rigging the extension cord and the stereo out to the front porch so we could hear the music while rehearsing in the street. Odile, LeDonna, Matt and the krewe all organically forming the choreography together-- the presenting of the bow tie to the cargo-short, plain-tshirted boy, the fear displayed on his face of releasing conformity and stepping out of the box, the hesitant agreement to TrY... and me stripping away the layers in a whirlwind of transformation and adorning him in full frivolous costume. Radical self-expression taking flight. With full-on circus-esque dubstep beats to boot.
I had many tell me it was their favorite part of the entire evening, a raging success. Even though, afterwards... with my computer set up at a little table in the lounge.... hoping... no one pledged. Everyone was on their own trip. Including me.
Feeling desperate, disgusted, defeated, and overwhelmed, I sighed heavily. And a kind, older man with clear piercing blue eyes approached me. Asked if I would like to play a game.
Him and a group of others were on tour around the country, sharing a game called 'The Time Capsule Machine.' He explained to me that the rate of synchronicity was much like the I-Ching: to form an intent, a question in my mind, and to Ask.
I closed my eyes, energetically swam through the cosmic nano-moments of all my frustrations and hopes with the entire process this spring, and asked. Humbly. I cosmically laid it all out on the table, and I asked. What should I do? Where do I need to go from here? What do you, Universe, want to tell me?
There were 3 stacks of cards laid out on what I can best describe as a chakra globe board. I picked up each stack, closed my eyes, and let my fingers run along the edges of each until I felt drawn to one. We flipped them over.
The first? The answer to my intent? A picture of a lone, twisted tree in the middle of a vast, empty desert. The words said, "Find Soulitude. Standing alone takes courage."
Goose pimples prickled beneath my forearm skin. I intuitively knew....the success would not be based on the help of others. I alone would manifest this.
The second? The details of carry-through for my intent? A little notebook flipped open with a pen. "Register." He explained to me that this has something to do with Accounting.... Going Back to the Books. Immediately, thoughts of my recent Credit Card Machine addition to my business and all the sales receipts thrown thrown into a shoe box came to mind. Accounting? What accounting? (Hopefully the IRS isn't reading this.) Doesn't any small business first start out with discipline, cutting corners, being frugal? Hmm! O-KaY!
The third? The challenge to me? "Let it Be."
I started crying.
And now, a few days later, I'm sitting at a Whole Foods in Reno, Nevada. I've been wheeling around my huge duffle bag and suitcase in a shopping cart, and receiving priceless side glances the entirety of my duration here thus far. My sister is about to arrive any minute to scoop me up and take me to the desert. The Kickstarter Drive ends in 29 hours.
I won't emerge from the desert for another week... there will be no cell phone service, no wifi options. I release my fate to the unknown. I choose to let it be. I'll be in the white sands of my Nevada stomping grounds with my tribe, greeting the rising sun and the whirling stars and the moon during the springtime Solar Eclipse of 2012, throwing my hands up to the sky and laughing at the Abundance of All that Is.