This lady needs no introduction. You already know and love her poetry from our SoulPancake collaboration films, but in true Darling fashion we wanted to dig a little deeper and get to know the woman behind the words.
We had the pleasure of interviewing Natalie Patterson and are now completely sold on her heart, her outlook, and of course, her amazing talent. It was hard pinpointing exactly which persona she embodies, as she could easily represent any one of them, but it’s the way she reaches out and encourages the dreamer in us all — to believe that we are better than we realize, more beautiful, too — that has her featured as our Dreamer, today.
Darling Magazine: Tell us about yourself. Where are you from? What was your childhood like? What are you doing now?
Natalie: I call myself an artist. That title gives me space to grow, discover and evolve. More specifically, I am exploring life through poetry and being a Teaching Artist. For over six years I’ve been teaching my workshop, Re-connecting: Vulnerability and Integrity. It is a month long course that challenges people to dig deeper into themselves, to be honest and to heal. It started out as something I created for the poetry community I was a part of because there was not a place that encouraged us to be better writers and people. I thought integrity was missing in the community and that was unacceptable to me.
My mother tells me that she found me under a rock, I believed her for a long time. I have seen my birth certificate so I know I was born in Indiana, but I’ve lived in Los Angeles for most of my life. My parents split up when I was five (traumatizing) and my mother and I moved to Los Angeles where my older siblings were already living. My childhood was disorienting. I’ve written about it a bunch over the years. I grew up with a single mom. My brother and sister would go back and forth between living with their father and our mother. I had no escape. My mother worked extremely hard to make sure I went to the best schools and had as much as she could possibly give me. Those hours spent working, although absolutely necessary, left me on my own a lot. There are great things that come from independence, but some unfortunate situations resulted from being a latchkey kid.
I thought integrity was missing in the community and that was unacceptable to me.
DM: When did you start writing? What drew you to poetry?
Natalie: As a kid I ALWAYS had a journal. It was my best friend. I didn’t realize that poetry could be enjoyable until college. I remember being in high school and desiring deeply to be good at writing poetry. I guess it finally worked. At 19, I went on a date to Da Poetry Lounge and fell in love with people sharing their stories through poetry. Going there and attending a poetry show at my college are the moments that re-ignited my love for poetry and I started furiously writing two or three poems a night.
DM: In “Beautiful Body”, you repeatedly emphasize the words ” I have a beautiful body”. Was this done intentionally? Do you hope this becomes a mantra for women to repeat to themselves?
Natalie: Words are very important, they shape our reality. Typically our self-talk is not very kind thus our perspective becomes, over time, that we are not enough. In my workshops I require my students to do affirmations. It’s one way to reprogram the brain. I recently learned that the eyes cannot see what the mind cannot comprehend. In terms of life experiences, if your mind cannot comprehend it, even if it happened, you will not perceive it. Crazy, right? I talk about setting intentions in “I Dare You”. I think affirmations and intentions are great for getting the courage to face issues and having the confidence to do so from a place of truth and wholeness. My poems are often “how to” guides. Nothing in a poem I write is accidental except maybe spelling errors.
The nature of a poem is that every word counts. I’m less concerned with “I have a beautiful body” becoming something that people say, because it’s not a fad. I would hope that people carry these words in their hearts and say them to other people they know have not been told them in too long. It is an opportunity to shift what has been allowed to be beautiful and equally ugly. My greatest hope is that these words find the people who need them most.
I think affirmations and intentions are great for getting the courage to face issues and having the confidence to do so from a place of truth and wholeness.
DM: In your poem “I Dare You”, you say, “I taught myself to come alive.” What do you think has enabled you to rise up and overcome your trials, rather than be overcome by them?
Natalie: I keep waking up. That’s the beautiful and devastating thing about life, it keeps going. I’ve had some terrible and traumatic things happen in my life but all of those things are behind me now. I get to create my life anew each day, if I have the courage to. Some days, I hide under my covers surrounded by worry and fear. Other days, I jump out of bed with thanks in my spirit for the opportunity to be alive. I get to decide everyday who I am going to be. Also, I try really hard to only surround myself with awesome fully charged people so in the moments I am outside of my truest nature their presence alone inspires me to get it together again.
DM: Has the response to Darling + SoulPancake videos surprised you?
Natalie: When I wrote “Beautiful Body” I knew it was special. I knew when it found its place in the world I’d have to hold on. I’ve been very protective of my art for a long time but the universe just set me in this amazing moment so I surrendered to it. I have been a supporter of SoulPancake for a year and I knew that if I didn’t get cut out of the video, it was going to be big. I’m actually glad I didn’t know when the video was coming out; I would have been trying to prepare. The experience has been beautiful and such a confirmation that there is a world of people interested in my work.
DM: Do you think there is hope for our society when it comes to women and their body image? Or will it always be a battle to love who we see in the mirror?
Natalie: Absolutely, I exist. As long as there are people in the world unwilling to suffer in silence, there is always hope and a high probability for change. People who watch these videos, educate themselves and consider these issues important are another reason to be hopeful. We have been letting life dictate how we feel, but there is a new kind of energy that is now emerging. People crave truth and happiness. When we become exhausted we are more willing to make the changes necessary to move forward. This is relevant in every aspect of living.
As long as there are people in the world unwilling to suffer in silence, there is always hope and a high probability for change.
DM: How can women be better encouragers of beauty in all its forms?
Natalie: Celebrate life. Be yourself. Be unashamed. Be fully self-expressed. Find ways to fall in love with everything you see. Seek to understand. That’s how you find beauty. That’s how you find love.
Images via Angelo Kritikos