A conversation with Natalie Wilkin

V: Thank you so much Natalie for saying yes to this interview. I am so happy that i came across you through Pia Jane Bijkerk's patreon page and i can't wait to get to learn more about you and your work. It is so many things that i would love to talk about. Let us start with something that i have found myself getting more and more aware of lately and that is the importance of daily rituals. Do you have some daily rituals? And if you, like me, find that they can among other things be both supportive and rejuvenative?
N: For me, the two central rituals that frame my day are my breakfast elixir and yoga. Having done both every day for the last three or four years, I can speak about the power of having a daily practice. These rituals make my day feel balanced and connected and its such a wonderful commitment to prioritise self care at the start of every day.
Initially, when I first began, I had a lot of resistance to taking the time to nourish myself, it was particularly evident during yoga. It took me a year to break through the inner resistance and expand the practice. At first, I just started with two or three poses, ones that felt good and I could stay in for an extended time, slowly I added more and more and even now I will add and subtract as I need to. The key for me was to start small, to show up every day, and to allow it to change as I change. These rituals emerged for me over time, and I only focused on doing something that resonated, I wasn't following a guide. It does take time so that commitment is so crucial to feel the supportive effects in our being. Now theses rituals are like oxygen, and I don't think of them as something I have to do; they are an intrinsic part of my life. 
My breakfast Elixir takes the form of a smoothie bowl, it's a process that starts the night before by soaking almonds and takes about half an hour all up, so it's a big commitment to putting my nourishment first. The mix itself is an alchemic blend of plants, nuts, and seed. It really is an intuitive process that changes with the seasons and with how I'm feeling. I dress the top with a small amount of fruit, black tahini, a fermented yogurt that I make, and edible plants from my garden. That small window of walking outside and connecting with the plants is such a treasured part of my process. The final dressing of the bowl is an art form, and I get to express my creativity and love of food through this last act.
V: In one of your blog posts i read: "Food is such huge part of my life, love and creative expression. On every adventure I am always gathering lots of fresh veggies from farmers markets along the way, and researching local foods and produce to sample". Please do tell more about this.
N: I love the creativity of preparing food. I eat a very specific and somewhat limited amount of foods, so finding new and delicious ways to combine them is a real source of joy for me. I travel a lot to remote places, and I feel like I can explore an area through the food they grow. I've been to so many incredible farmers markets and met so many inspiring people - from my local markets to ones in far-flung places. I can remember all of the unusual and beautiful foods that I discovered, and they are an essential part of the experience for me. So, when I travel, I research farmers markets for the region and make sure that I am there at the right time to attend them, it just becomes a part of my itinerary.

V: The most memorable meal you have had?

N: All my most memorable meals are those I have shared with people I love, eating fresh produce that is vibrant and singing with life.

V: "Elemental Explorer" the title of your Patreon page - do tell us about it?
N: The Elemental Explorer is a name for that nomadic energy that calls us out into the wild places. It's the part of us that is curious and wants to explore life on a deeper level. For me, it is an honouring of that part of myself; when I embody the energy of the Elemental Explorer I am moving with the elements around me, taking risks and travelling into held beliefs and remote places.
V: To interview you without talking about traveling would feel very strange don't you think!? To me it seems like travel is such a big part of you, your work and your life. Like a red thread running through everything. Please share about what traveling means to you?
N: It's tough for me to put into words. It's such a deep vital part of my life - and a catalyst for so much growth and expansion. All I can say is that travel is where my soul sings, I am open, I am connected, and I gain access to a level of clarity that always propels me into new areas of exploration and creative expression. 
V: From one of your blog posts: "It feels great to stop moving for a moment and let all of the experiences absorb in. What an adventure we had, so much transformation and so much power flowing into me".  How do you best absord, digest, after travels and is it an essential part of the traveling "process" for you to actually do this?
N: Yes, absolutely, travel has a momentum that can be relentless and depleting. The pause afterward to rest and reflect feels just as important as the movement, and usually, that's where I get the most insight from the experience.
V: Any travels planned in the future?
N: I just got back a few weeks ago from a week in Yolngu County, also known as Arnhem Land which was truly incredible. Then our next trip is Japan in 2020 for my partners 40th birthday. We have both been on a journey of discovery with ceramics, spending the last twelve months making our dinnerware to use at home. Japanese pottery is just so incredible, so we plan on immersing ourselves in workshops and tours of studios to absorb as much as we can. It's been such a beautiful process to go through together, slowly exploring shapes, clays, and glazes to find something that is unique and speaks to us both. We will be sharing a collection of pieces for the Elemental Wares very soon, which I'm so excited about.
V: "I've always made clothes, my mum taught me to sew when I was young. As a teenager I would only wear vintage, so I would alter everything to fit my vision. You learn a lot about the structure by pulling things apart and reworking them. Over the years I've formed my own way of pattern drafting that's a little frankensteiny but creates an intuitive interaction with the fabric, my visions for the garment and the fabrics vision for itself! Now creating garments marks the beginning of all my explorations". This is from one of your blog posts. I loved reading this and would love to hear much more about it! And also tell us about Elemental Wares.

N: I love the creative expression of textiles; they can transform our mood, our experience, and connect us with others and the world in profound ways. I think our clothing as such an under-utilised medium for expression. When I begin to conceptualise a new exploration usually the first things that comes to me is the garment that will take me where I want to go. It is always a mixture of function, ritual and sacred intention. The process of making the adornment is a kind of meditation and when I begin to move, I am wearing my intentions and allowing it to carry me forward. The Elemental Wares has evolved out of this creative process. Instead of making objects for my own journeys, the Elemental Wares is the creation of adornment for others. At this stage it will take the form of an online store. There will be Homewares and Clothing, and each piece will be hand made, unique and produced ethically and sustainably. The objects that will fill the online space are all designed to be a catalyst for transformation, liberated expression and deeper connection with the world around us. The online portal is still being formed, but my goal is to have it up and running this Spring.

V: From one of your blog posts: "This is my greatest wish for us all, that we might create worlds that are filled with self acceptance, that work with our light and shadow and share our raw truth. Putting a stop to the process of trying to always get somewhere and change ourselves into something else or someone else. My friend Sasha called it 'radical acceptance' and that really feels like what it is, its so fucking radical to just accept ourselves and then move based on a love for all of our quirks. An acceptance that all of our life experience has formed how we express, and it is part of the treasure we hold. Thats how we let our magic out, thats how our expression becomes transformative for ourselves and others. That is where freedom lives. So for now is this beautiful mess of moving, changing, expressing and shedding I am free".  Such truth, so powerful! I would love to hear if there any authors, poets or speakers that has inspired you?
N: There have been so many incredibly powerful voices that have added their wisdom at the exact moment I needed it. One book I revisit often is Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth. For me, it holds so much truth about this human experience and the underlying causes for our inner and outer conflict. I also refer to Maya Angelou's words often; she inspires me to be present and to prioritise knowing and accepting myself as I am above all else. 
“A Woman in harmony with her spirit is like a river flowing.

She goes where she will without pretence and arrives at her destination prepared to be herself and only herself ”

― Maya Angelou

V: I would love to hear how you best like to have it around you when you create.
N: I'm a Virgo so for me tidy/organised is a must. I usually always work without music, unless I'm sewing in which case I have audiobooks on the go. Alone is more productive for me, I'm pretty much a hermit when I'm in the creative zone. I live out in the forest, so I have the sounds of nature buzzing all around me, which helps me to ground into my process.

V: "I am so grateful for the beautiful person who believes in the magic and loves me with a depth I have always struggled to feel like I deserve". I recognised myself so much in these words of yours that i read in one of your blog posts from a while back in time. This is something i have had to work with and that i find myself working through deeper layers ofI think that this is one of those things that a lot of us struggle with but sadly not talk about. This feeling of not being good enough, not deserving... Can i ask you to share some about what it is that has helped you in the process of working with that struggle? And were do you find yourself today? 

N: For me, this process of self-acceptance has been key. I had to get to know myself on a deeper level so I could feel that beingness beneath the stories. Meditation helped and grounding myself in the earths energy when I start to feel myself pull away. Once we have felt that part of ourselves, the infinite part, it's something we can connect back into if we create the space. But honestly, I struggle a lot with self-value and feeling like I am good enough. Throughout my life, I have always pulled away at the final hurdle when I had to put myself out there and be visible. It's such a vulnerable place for me, and I am still building the strength to feel the fear and do it anyway. I think that's what drew me to Patreon; I felt like I could create a safe space to be me and to share my expression with others.
V: From your blog: "We just arrived back a few days ago to the land of internet and cell service. Its such a shock to the system having so many things to stimulate my mind. It was the most peaceful and revealing time at the little shack. I had so much space to really absorb myself in the energy of the book. I've made huge progress and it's really taken form, emerging into its own expression. I think it's always been there waiting but I just needed to allow it to flow out" and "I feel a deep need to simplify my online life in order to maximise on my time with my feet on the earth".How do you best manage to keep a balance in being online and offline and how does it effect you if you stay too much online?
N: I took my online life into account when I was creating space for healing. A few years ago, I deleted Facebook and went off Instagram for a year. Being off social media made me think a lot about how I wanted to connect and what felt taxing to my energy. It also made the addiction to social media so apparent. I was hooked on the constant stimulus. I started my Patreon back then because I was interested in seeing if I could create a collective of like-minded people and share my work in exchange for their support. I was curious, and still am, in finding a new way to connect that is supportive and inclusive. Eventually, I went back on Instagram but left Facebook behind. But now the hook is gone, which is liberating in itself. When I have something to share, I will post, but it is not my focus for connection. 

V: From your blog: "To face fear and to help convert awareness into compassion. This is an essential step in any journey, to be able to take what we have learned and use it as a tool for love and compassion. The goal is not to remove something, but to see it as a teacher and find a way to hear its wisdom. For me, this is always through finding my compassionate heart, the part of me that knows how to find love, even in the depths of the pain."  Please tell us more about this.

N: I guess what I'm saying here is that if we can find love and compassion for all parts of ourselves, then there is freedom there. Shifting the focus away from getting rid of anything we deem as negative and finding a way to accept ourselves in totality, knowing that all experience is valuable and teaches us something about who we are.
V: From a blog post of yours a while back: "Six years ago my body gave me a huge wakeup call. It was tired of being pushed and ignored, and I ended up in a state of total chaos. In order to regain my health over these last few years I have been on a journey back to balance. Spiritually, emotionally and physically. Every day I am mindful of how much energy I have and where I can direct it. Obsessive thoughts are a huge drain on energy so if I am caught up in my head then I will not have the energy to be present. This has been such a powerful lesson in my life, and one that I am still managing on a moment to moment basis . The book that I am (slowly) writing is all about this journey. I haven't looked at the first draft in almost a year, but lately it has been whispering in my ear to begin again, so who knows what the next few months will bring.I would love to hear more about that book you are working on.
N: The idea of the book presented itself three of four years ago when I was deeply immersed in my self-healing process, and it has been slowly forming ever since. I think for me fundamentally, it's has been a process of self-investigation and allowing myself to be visible. I discovered that writer's block is the inner critic in full swing. It's such a good way to face my fears of visibility and also share my creative expression in an accessible way. The book is still forming, but it will be sharing the journey and all I have experienced over the last five years. There are a lot of threads to weave together, and that's where I'm up to now. Is a really interesting process to take and inner experience and translate it into something that other people can access. I'm not sure what it will be in the end, but I'm really enjoying our journey together.

V: What is the most important thing for your spiritual, emotional and physical well-being? 

N: Meditation, bare feet on the Earth and a restful sleep. 
V: As a closing i would love to ask you what you are most grateful for in your life right now? And i also want to thank you for taking the time to answer my questions and for all that you have shared.
N: Firstly I just want to thank you so much Vibeke for all of your thoughtful questions. I've gained new insight through the process of answering them. I would have to say at the moment I am so grateful to live in a country with has an ancestry steeped in spirituality, wisdom, and connection to the earth. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are the sacred heart of Australia, and I am so grateful for all they share with us.

Natalie's Patreon page: Elemental Explorer.
All photos by Natalie.