Friday, November 19, 2010


First up, I’d like to congratulate the winners of last week’s competition. WOOT!

I’ve had a wonderful week of doing blog revamps. As well as writing and reading, I’ve found, when I open Photoshop, I get lost in another world. I feel so lucky that I have three things I can do where everything fades away except for what I’m writing, reading, or creating. When I’m in no mood to write, I usually open PS and lose a few hours.

So, for those returning to see how the blogs turned out, they are listed below, plus some blogs I did for others this week. It must have looked like I’d vanished off the face of the online planet, because once in PS, I was away with the fairies. Fab week.

Amber Skyze – Winner. Amber chose a pre-made template. I’ve had many complimentary comments in email about this blog. Thanks for those, guys!

D.L. Jackson – Winner. I created a custom-made background for this one. Sci-Fi. Much fun to make.

Melisse Aires – Winner because it was her birthday on the day I picked the names out of the hat and I couldn’t resist! Melisse chose a pre-made template but wanted a cream middle section instead of the white the template originally had. I adore the pink of this one.

Tonya Callihan – Winner of the book cover contest but became a blog client. Custom-made template. She chose a lovely colour. And that cowboy…yummy!

Taylor Tryst – Client. Taylor’s blog was a pleasure to create. Custom-made template. Love the colours and the lady. Taylor is partial to the man candy LOL.

Cari Quinn – Client. Now this one…don’t ask me why, but I got it into my head that Cari needed a custom-made, “painted-look” background. I wasn’t going to rest until I achieved what I wanted—and I had to hope Cari liked it after I’d finished (hahaha!). If she hadn’t, of course I’d have created something different, but I’m happy to say she loved it. Phew!

Today I have some avatars to create and a book cover for a friend. I also have a new book release as Sarah Masters, so I need to spread the word on that, and then—dun dun duuuun!—the dreaded housework and laundry.

But for now, here’s my main post…

I just heard the most bizarre sound. Like a donkey braying in a neighbour’s back garden, or a child honked a hand-held horn. At one point, I thought I was hearing things. Turns out, when I went to my back window to look out, geese were flying over. It gave me one of those moments where you pause and “life” disappears. The simplicity of those geese heading to warmer climes, or wherever they’d decided they ought to fly today—Hey, let’s fly to the next lake over and seek out those fish, man!—sort of “got” to me.

I swear sometimes, that these moments are sent our way to help us take a step back and think. There is beauty in many forms on this planet, and none of them cost a penny. Some days we may not see them because we are too busy, our minds full of what we have to get done, what’s up ahead, worries, stress, all manner of things, but after seeing those geese, I told myself I’m going to look harder for the simple beauty presented to me every day. It could be so many things—the snap in the autumn air, the miracle that every year the leaves fall, the cycle the same as the decades pass, and every year they come back again. The glare of the sun on the windows of the houses across the street—I see it out my window now—and the white garage doors which look so bright. The cloudless sky, or even one full of grey-bellied clouds. It’s all amazing and beautiful when you really think about it.

I marvel at nature sometimes because it’s one of the constants in life. There will always be the weather, the cycles—sometimes so pretty it takes your breath away, and conversely, so frightening it takes life away—and no matter what we do, how we’re either plodding along or racing here and there, nature is there, something we can look to in order to get some semblance of peace.

I probably sound crazy. I’m not even sure anyone else will “get” what I’m trying to say. I mean, I’m a woman who, when things are troubling me, gazes at trees. {Yeah, Whacko Alert!} I have many at the bottom of my garden, and I only need to look at them for a little while and things come into perspective. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they speak to me—no, the men in white coats are not needed here today—but I do tend to think more clearly once I’ve had a tree gaze.

{We interrupt this post with a warning that Natalie Dae could possibly be going insane...}

This makes me wonder about whether the star signs we’re born under really do influence our thinking. I’m the Earth sign, so it’s hardly surprising that I love trees and sunrises, sunsets, the rising moon, a bright, can-almost-reach-out-and-touch-it sickle moon.

D’you know, I have no clue what I’m trying to say here. Perhaps I need a time of reflection, to think about all the things I’m grateful for, how lucky I am in so many aspects of my life. To forget about the things I dislike and wish were different, and concentrate on what I can change and revel in what I do have.
So, I’ll end this post with a couple of questions.

Do you feel the star sign you were born under reflects you as a person? For example, if water, do you love the ocean?

And also, what makes you stop for a moment and contemplate life? Would it be like those geese flying, or something different?


Tess MacKall said...

The ocean does it for me, Nat.I haven't been in a while and I think about it all the time. Was planning to go this Thanksgiving but that got canceled.

I don't like being in the ocean, never do anything but walk along the edge because I'm afraid of it. But watching it, listening--I could do that forever. There is something about the sight of it, the sound of it, that simply soothes me.

Then there is that time every year when a flock of birds stops in my yard for a few hours. A huge flock. My yard is full of dogwood trees and well, I guess those red berries are what attracts them. Those birds linger in my yard for several hours. The sound is so loud. A constant calling of birds and flying from limb to limb--talking to each other I guess. It's amazing to watch and absolutely fascinates me. And then all of a sudden the sound is gone.

But the thing that makes me pause most is something that happens at least a couple of times a week. C can sleep anywhere and in any position it seems. For instance, last Christmas he fell asleep sitting up with an X Box controller in his hand while wearing a Santa hat and to top it off--he had a lollipop stuck in his mouth. I sat there for a full five minutes or so just watching him sleep like that--BEFORE I took a picture. lol That picture is my screensaver. He was so peaceful. So cute.

And I thought about how very much I loved him. He is my strength, what gives me the most pause.

Natalie Dae said...

I'm the same with the ocean, Tess. Scares me silly, but I love the sound of it. I would love to see those birds too. At risk of sounding a complete and utter dork, I love bird-watching as well. Gawd, I'm so...geeky! LOL!

Yes, those moments, like yours with C...lovely. They are priceless. Beautiful.


Ana Lee Kennedy said...

It's that time of year here too. The geese fly south and since there are ponds and lakes dotting this area like confetti, you can drive along the road and spot the geese resting or swimming too. I love to watch them fly over. It's one of those "Ah, life is beautiful" moments.

Another sound that makes me pause and contemplate life is the train whistle in the middle of the night as it echoes down the hollow.

Unknown said...

Yay for me! I love my blog makeover.
I'm with Tess, the ocean does it for me too. It's so calming. I can sit and watch it for hours.

Natalie Dae said...

Oooh, Faith, the train whistle. A haunting sound, especially lovely in the night, I'd bet. That's set my mind off working now, so thanks!


Natalie Dae said...

Hi Amber!

I'm betting we'll get a lot of ocean comments today. I like the "shh" sound it makes. Lush!

And yay you indeed. Look at you in your snazzy blog abode! LMAO!


C. Zampa said...

First of all, you did beautifully on the blogs! Every one of them is wonderful!

No, you're not crazy at all. I think nature IS supposed to trigger us to think. It's too beautiful NOT to have a profound effect on our psyches.

For me? I'm like you are, I think. Nothing in particular catches my thoughts, it just depends. But trees to it for me, too, and I don't know why. Maybe their movements, and the sounds of the wind in their leaves and branches. But it's beautiful. And I love clouds. They seem to be lives of their own, so mysterious.

Loved your post and very much enjoyed seeing the new blog sites!

Natalie Dae said...

Hiya CZ!

Oooh, yes, clouds too. And even the sound of the wind when you're indoors and safe. I love that. You start thinking, when curled up with your cuppa on the sofa, and sort of get taken to another world with the wind as your music. Or maybe that's just me hahah.


Regina Carlysle said...

First of all, I just LOVE all the new blogs you created, Natalie. I know a lot of hard work went into them and it shows. Just beautiful!

This may sound crazy but my backyard does it for me. It's beautifully landscaped with lots of flowers and trees and we have a lovely backyard pool. I can't keep trace of the number of squirrels, redbirds, blue jays and HUMMINGBIRDS (my favorites). I love to sit out there and just breathe. Most of my epiphanies happen there along with story ideas and it's the best place in the world (at least to me) to work out a puzzle in my mind. On our patio we have two huge urns filled with hibiscus. The hummingbirds love them and come soooo close sometimes. They don't seem to notice I'm even there. Fascinating. Relaxing. Wondrous.

If I am NOT in my own backyard, I love mountains. To me they are breathtaking and I get goosebumps just looking at them.

Regina Carlysle said...

When I need to smile? (which is often) I love watching the squirrels. The silly little things roll around and play together constantly. One of them...a little fat one, loves to plop onto his belly by the pool (kind of a spread-eagle sorta thing) and get some sun. He's so relaxed he doesn't flinch when I walk outside. So funny.

Anonymous said...

First, all of the blog designs you did are just great. You do excellent work!

Second, I'm a water sign and I love being near the water. Ocean, lake, river, stream, fountain, whatever. The sounds are so soothing and relaxing. Lucky for me, my office window at the day job looks out onto a small lake. I don't get to hear the sound of the water because we have to keep the windows shut, but all year long there are different water birds floating by. Swans, Mallards (of course), Canadian geese, Coots, Greebs (not sure I spelled that correctly), and there have been Herons a few times. It's really quite nice despite the fact that I'm in the city and there's a busy street out front.

But I also love just being able to sit in the back yard with the trees and flowers, listening to the birds. Especially at my mom's. She does up the flowers like nobody's business.

Madison Scott said...

I love the ocean, but I'm scared of water. It's beautiful to look at, but frightening too. Always makes me feel so small.

I'm not sure what I am as far as water sign, etc, but I'm a capricorn and I definitely think it fits me. LOL.

Good books always make me stop and reflect. Rainbows, my kids.

Natalie Dae said...

Reg, your garden sounds lovely! I've never seen a hummingbird. I bet they're lovely. As for mountains, I think they're so big they're frightening, if that makes sense, but also fab at the same time.

My goodness on the squirrels. They sound quite tame.


Natalie Dae said...

Hiya Casey!

Herons...oh my, don't get me started on those. There's one that lives in the lake here. He scares me silly. MASSIVE!

Lovely that you can see the water from your office. I "saw" it in my head when you described it.


Natalie Dae said...

Madison...rainbows, cool! And kids, yes, they are fab for reflection.

I know what you mean about the sea. Brrr.

I'm a Capricorn too, so you're an Earth sign. WOOT!


Unknown said...

What a great topic, Natalie. I checked out all those new blog designs and they are gorgeous. You did a beautiful job.

I live right near Lake Michigan here in Chicago. It's so huge, it's like an ocean. There's nothing like watching the water be like glass one day with a barely a ripple for breakers, then after a thunderstorm become a wild surging wall of water that crashes over the Outer Drive and piers. In winter I like to crunch along the shore and see the waves frozen in time.

My house also sits near the Grand Calumet river and we have lots of shipping. I love to stand by the old bridge at 91st street and watch the big ships from places like Poland and Russia that come down through the St. Lawrence Seaway and into the Great Lakes. I also love watching the sail boats in the spring head out to their home harbors. They get stored in winter right here in a huge dry dock.

I'm a fire sign so I love to relax by a fire and stare into the flames. I also love walking in the forest preserves here. There's creeks, small lakes and marshlands with lots of wildlife like white tail deer, herons and cranes.

Katalina Leon said...

Great post and I love the blog make-overs! I just visited Amber's and it's lovely.
If I need to get my mind right, I really enjoy a long walk in nature with my dog-she's so grounding.
I'm a fire sign and I love filling my fireplace mantle with lots of lit candles and just staring at them without thinking anything at all.

Laura G. said...

First of all...all of the blogs you created are gorgeous! You really out did yourself, girl. They were all so different and unique...just like the authors you created them for, I'm sure. :) sign is an air sign. Does that mean I'm flighty, an airhead or a space cadet??? Yikes! Hmm...maybe I don't want to know. lol

Natalie Dae said...

Oooh, Melissa, you gave me a wonderful visual with the following. Thanks for sharing that.

I love to stand by the old bridge at 91st street and watch the big ships from places like Poland and Russia that come down through the St. Lawrence Seaway and into the Great Lakes.


Natalie Dae said...

Hi Katalina!

It sounds like the signs do have an effect on us, then. The visuals you gave me there were wonderful. Now, if only I had some candles...LOL!


Natalie Dae said...

LMAO Laura! Hmm, I wonder what it DOES mean, though. Maybe you like flight or the wind or...something!


Natalie Dae said...

THANK YOU to all for your blog makeover comments.



Brindle Chase said...

You always crack me up! Love today's post. I"m Saggitarius myself and from what I've read about them, I fit in quite well! *lol* A wanderer, restless heart. And I don't remember which element it belongs too, earth or fire, but there is where I part ways. I should've been a water sign. I love the ocean. Grew up on the Puget Sound and Straits of Juan De Fuca. I'm definitely a beach bum and hope to retire some day to the beach.

Madison Scott said...

very cool! We're sign sisters! When is your bday? Mine is the day after Christmas.

Natalie Dae said...

Hiya Brindle. You're a fire sign. Ooooh!

LOL @ beach bum.


Natalie Dae said...

Madison, LOL @ sign sisters. I had the insane urge to say that like a snake. Try it out loud. Well funny.

Sssssign Ssssssisssstersssss.

Lord above, I'm running on empty here, can you tell LMAO.

I'm Jan 9th.

So you have a Boxing Day b'day, right? Same as my grandson!

That'sssssssss ssssuper, ssssisssterr!

Oh dear. I so need my bed.


Debbie Gould said...

When Renee graduated Basic training, the ceremony was just unbelievable. It was S/P 9/11
When we were on base, at 5p every night, they would play revelry over the entire base. Anyone walking would stop, take their hats off and put their hand over their heart. Same with anyone driving in a car. All service members and most civilians would shut the car off, get out and do the same as the pedestrians.
I cried like a baby every time. And every time I hear it I stop and think about all those who have given everything for their country.
The other thing that gives me pause are the flyovers. I was at a Nascar race once, and the Air Force had a formation fly over before the start of the race. I balled like a baby then as well, lol. Plus, the base Renee is stationed at now is home for a Special Ops team. They are always up in the air with their helicopters and jets. Every time I see one I just stop and watch for as long as I can. I dunno, I just find it all so wonderful. Silly, I know.

Nina Pierce said...

Natalie - Beautiful makeovers on the blogs!

When you mentioned the geese it made me think of years ago when my daughter was little and she got croup. The best thing is to bring them outside and let them inhale cold air. So I bundled my 7 year old up and out when went on tho the back porch around 4 or 5 in the morning. A flock of geese were flying north and the moonlight reflected on their wings, making them twinkle as they called to each other. The moment was pure magic. We both still talk about that night.

Nina Pierce said...

aarg ... forgive the garbled sentence. Where's my editor when I need her? ;)

Anne Rainey said...

You are completely amazing, Natalie! Quick question: Do you do graphics for for like a Wordpress website? If so, I may email you about pricing and stuff. :) Love your work!

Natalie Dae said...

Oh, wow, Nina. That moonlight/wings image. Fabulous!

The visuals I've been getting from everyone's moments here have been so vivid. Like a glimpse into your lives. So lovely that we're sharing like this.


Natalie Dae said...

Hmmm. I commented to you, Deb, but it hasn't shown up, so if it does later, you'll know why I'm writing again. LOL

I said something, it's not silly. The goose bump moments are what makes them special and lovely.


Natalie Dae said...

Nina, I didn't notice a garbled sentence. It's early here, so anything garbled looks perfectly normal to me ahhaha!


Natalie Dae said...

Hiya Anne. Yep, Wordpress is fine, love.


Unknown said...

I'm a Libra. An air sign. In some ways, I'm very typical Libra, and in others, something about my moon sign being really strong in another sign, I'm not. lol! I had an astrologist analyse my sign once. It was fascintaing.

I'm very visual. My little writing corner is surrounded by tiny sculptures and pictures and odds and ends I find interesting to look at. If I had a window there, I'd want it to look out over the back yard, our little slice of chaos in suburbia. It gives me a perverse sense of joy to see the wilderness we created from the perfect green stretch of lawn that came with the house. What the neighbors must think!!! (Oddly, they've all put up hedges since we moved in ten years ago. That amuses me to no end.)

N.J.Walters said...

I love the beach, but I'm not fond of being in the water. lol Not good for a water sign.

And there is something about sitting under or next to a tree, just being in nature that puts things in perspective.

Natalie Dae said...

LOL @ your neighbours, Jaime. Sod 'em!


Natalie Dae said...

I agree, NJ. them!