Nope. Not her real name. Well, the Millie part is, just not the May. There’s a little boy growing in that cute little tummy of hers! I can’t wait to snuggle him in May!  PS Millie started working for me a couple of weeks ago! So excited to have her!

I love these next two more than anything. Ever.

Sometimes, the missing* rolls in. Like a wet, heavy fog across the desert.

And it fills EVERY PORE OF MY BEING—every crevasse of my parched heart.

I look around. Everyone with their perfect babies, and their perfect pregnancies, and their perfect families. And my heart cries out. Tears stream down my cheeks and fall shamelessly upon my chest.

Life continues. PEOPLE continue. Continue to laugh, and smile, and love. . . and breeeeeeeeed.

I wouldn’t have it any other way. I WOULD NOT HAVE IT ANY OTHER WAY. AND—

And the line between my joy for them and my ache for me. . . is at times, imperceptible. My family is still broken. Signs of grief, pain and overwhelming devastation still float to the surface from time to time. Often, they’re overwhelming, other times, they are tender and sweet. . . either way, they keep us connected to what’s true and real about the world, connected to the things that matter most. Connceted to our God and sealed to our faith in His plan for us.

I want to heal. I want to BE healed. I want my family to heal, my children to be made whole.  I desperately want these things. But healing prematurely would equate to lessons lost. And I want the lessons more than I don’t want the pain. As bitter as those words taste leaving my heart, they are true.

Because I don’t just want to live. I WANT TO LIVE!!!!!!! I want to FEEEEEEEEEEEL. I want to BE—alive in my heart, in my understanding, in my influence. I want to be alive in my integrity. I want to say—”LIFE IS GOOD, GOD IS REAL, LOVE IS ALL AROUND US,” and when I do, I want to know it. In every pore. In every breath. In all of me.

I WANT.TO.LIVE.

*Dear You, The line between missing, self pity and overwhelming fear, is often imperceptible. THAT IS OK. Please know that. Sweet you, out there missing, hurting, wishing to be anywhere but here. It’s OK. YOU are OK. I do not judge your hurt. I do not ask you to quiet your pain, or to hide (from) your self pity, or self loathing, or from your desperation (wishing that it could all be different—willing to do anything you can to make it so). “Wherever you are, be there.” This wisdom comes from a heart that knows. A heart that would never judge you. Not ever. Don’t you dare judge yourself. You wake up every morning, and you breathe in and out all day long. Don’t you see the miracle that you are? Are you so clouded and confused that you are incapable of seeing what you are doing? You are walking on water. Despite it all, you breathe in and out all day long. In and out. All day long. You are a miracle. Just as you are. Do not judge that. And know, He “will go before your face . . . on your right hand and on your left, and [His] Spirit shall be in your hearts, and [His] angels round about you, to bear you up.” There are better days ahead. There are.

At The Breathe Intensive (and on my personal blog and in just about every speaking engagement I’ve ever done . . . ) I talk about the importance of making space for ourselves in our own lives.

There’s a thought!

At Breathe in particular, to illustrate this concept, I use an analogy of a wheel. Each piece that makes up the anatomy of the wheel, represents a different area of your life. You, my friend, are represented by the hub, and the hub is responsible for holding everything else together. So, for the sake of this analogy, the hub is the most important part of the wheel.

This parallel is set up to indicate that YOU are the most important element within the totality of your life. Yes, you heard me right. YOU MATTER. (And I’m talking here to men and women alike.) Not to say that you matter more than everyone you love, more than everyone who depends on you! Rather, you matter BECAUSE those people mean so very much to you!

I’m a photographer. I own highly sophisticated gear to help me capture the very best images I possibly can. Do you think I throw that gear around? Let it get dirty, lost, stolen or damaged? Not a chance. I need that gear to work, and work WELL, for years to come, so I treat it accordingly. You understand where I’m headed. :) In order for you to be at your very best for everyone who depends on you, you’ve got to make the time to care for and nourish the most important “occupational tool” in your life: YOURSELF.

I hear too many people express feelings of being victimized by their children, husbands, wives, jobs, lives. I hear too many people expressing feelings of having “lost themselves somewhere along the way.” Wouldn’t you rather be a joyful, active participant in your life?! Don’t you think that if you approached your life from THAT state of mind that you’d be better equip to truly bless the lives of those you love most?!

You can’t draw water from an empty well.

So first things first, if you want to ensure you’re giving the very best you have to give to the people in your life who matter most, you have to start with yourself. Again, YOU matter. (AND SO DOES GENUINE SACRIFICE, but we’ll get to that later this week.)

5 reasons you’ve got to make space for yourself in your own life:

1. Balance and joy result from feeling WHOLE.

The understanding of just how important you are is VITALLY IMPORTANT to your overall success, sense of balance in life and ultimate joy! And I will maintain that until my dying breath (and beyond).

When you’re actively engaged in activities that fill you up: reading, exercise, proper nutrition, good sleep, social connection, hobbies etc, you’re happier. Period. When you’re happier, you’re more capable of managing all crazy the variables of your life effectively: with more patience, perspective and ease.

2.  Caring for yourself increases your sense of personal worth, thus facilitating a closer relationship with God.

Even your relationship with God is ultimately dependent on your individual willingness to seek Him and make Him a part of your life. One way people fill their metaphorical wells is to spend time in prayer, meditation and religious study. As you do this, your relationship with God will increase.

As I’ve begun doing more and more mentoring of the “life coaching” variety, I’ve been astounded by how many people don’t feel connected to or loved by God. For the vast majority of them, these feelings come as a result of feelings of “worthlessness.” As these individuals care for themselves, work to nourish themselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, they regain their sense of self. They gain an understanding of their worth. The natural byproduct of this understanding, is a greater ability to reach out to and connect with God. As a whole, they report that feelings of unworthiness before God diminish, and they are more readily able to connect with their Father in Heaven on a genuine level.

3.  Frankly, you’ll rock harder when you feel good about yourself!

As you take time for yourself, your energy, sense of overall satisfaction and your genuine feelings of fulfillment and enthusiasm for life increase.

These things make you BETTER at EVERYTHING you do! This passion for life that comes from feeling full, RESTED and nourished, makes you more confident and thus more COMPLETELY accessible (emotionally) to the people and things in your life that matter more than anything!

4.  Caring for yourself sets a good example for your children.

If you let life walk all over you, without caring for yourself in healthy ways, if you don’t have the ability to set up healthy boundaries in your life, you’re setting a poor example for your children.

Kids need to learn how to stand up for themselves. They need to learn how to say “I matter.” They need to learn how to say “no” to things that aren’t aligned with their values so that they can have space in their lives to say “yes” to the things that REALLY bring them joy. Kids need to learn how to take care of their bodies and their spirits. Our actions here are a million times louder than our words (times 10).

5. Feeling centered helps us be more effective in our lives.

Dr. Stephen R. Covey explains this concept as taking time to sharpen the saw. He uses an analogy of a man who is sawing a tree with a blunt saw. He’s encouraged to stop and sharpen his tool, but he replies “I can’t stop! I’m too busy sawing!” Now, you and I can see how counterproductive this is. It’s clear that if the man would take the time to stop and sharpen his tool, the tree would come down more efficiently! But he can’t see that. He’s too busy sawing to realize what’s going on! This is US in our own lives. We get so busy meeting everyone else’s needs and managing the crises and unending chaos, that we can’t step away long enough to relize that JUST MAYBE, if we took some time to get centered, some time to refuel (whatever that means for each of us individually), we might be able to manage all of these variables more effectively (and in a way that would bless everyone involved).

Don’t get so caught up in the busyness of life, that you can’t step back and truly evaluate your productivity.

The other day, while visiting my mom in Utah, I spent some time lying in the sun, looking at Mt Timpanogos. My mom was with me, and she pointed out a bald eagle flying hiiiiiiigh up in the clouds. As I sat there, watching that beautiful eagle, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Wow, God loves YOU, too, Mr Eagle. He loves you enough to give you sunshine and food and a nest to sleep in. If God loves YOU that much, how much more must He love ME, His child?” I suddenly felt His love wash over me. . . warmer by far than the delicious sunshine beating on my face.

Guess what, He loves you in that same way! Each of us matters to Him. He wants us to be healthy, happy and fulfilled. He wants us to be as successful as we can possibly be at all the roles he’s given us to manage in our lives: and thus, he will give us help when we ask Him.

It’s my genuine prayer that you don’t feel so bogged down by the business of your life that you can’t make the time to step back and fill your well, sharpen your saw. God will help you find the time, if you ask him. After all, you matter . . . . To God, the very most of all.

click here to open post Mar 28, 2012 | posted in Inspire, Personal | 11 comments

Shot, layed-out and blogged, all from my phone. So very 2012.

I love a good laugh. We all do, right?

No, I seriously LOVE a good, sincere, hearty, belly laugh. It’s high on my top 10 list (FOR SURE).

Twitter makes me laugh. All the time. And I love it.

I wish I could tweet just about every word that comes out of Uncle Richie’s mouth, but unfortunately that man simply can’t be contained to 140 characters. Sorry world. You’re missing out.

Here are a couple of other things that just can’t be contained to the space of a tweet. I hope they help to make your Tuesday bright.

Things I Can’t Tweet: Episode 1

Shelly and her new friend, Skip.

Did I ever tell you about the time my sweet mother-in-law, Shelly, was forced to ride the bus? A considerable distance, that is. I’m not being a bus snob; city busses are cool.

Her (male) seat mate, in complete sincerity, asked her to scratch his back and call him “Skippy.” (Yes, Skippy. And yes, this story is the gospel truth.)

Later, a different seat mate (female), after reciting her entire medical history, family saga and a million completely inappropriate etceteras, noticed Shelly’s blatant cues that she was no longer going to engage in the conversation but was in fact going to take a nap. The woman responded, “Oh, you go ahead and close your eyes; I’ll just lull you to sleep with the sound of my voice.” She continued talking for the for the remainder of the trip.

Things I Can’t Tweet: Episode 2

Richie plus Zach.

One morning, I was standing in the bathroom, ironing my blouse. (No, I don’t normally say “blouse,” except for just then, because it came to my mind  . . . and I thought, “Ok. Sure.”)

Richie walked in and said, “What ever happened to Zach Efron?”

Me: “Well, I have less than zero idea what happened to Zach Efron. Wait, didn’t he just do that Dr. Seuss show?”

Richie: “He got a nose job.”

Me: “How on Earth do you know this?” (Note: we don’t have TV and hardly make it a point to know what’s going on in the world at large, let alone Hollywood.)

Richie: “I saw it online.” ***Looooooooooong pause.*** “When I was online searching for stuff about Zach Efron.”

?

Chirp, chirp. Have a good day! Mwwwwwa!

PS. Be sure to enter this week’s giveaway! A customized watercolor portrait by the fabulous Ashely of Birds of AshMae.
PPS. Have an engaging story that you simply can’t tweet? Submit your stories to aloha{at}natalienortonblog{dot}com. Make us laugh out loud (by us I’m pretty sure I just mean me. . . well, and Uncle Richie, I suppose), and you may find your story featured on this here blog in a future episode of Things I Can’t Tweet! NOTE: I don’t think profanity is funny, well, except for the D word; that pretty much always makes me laugh (against my will!). Keep submissions within the PG range, por favor (see, I’m practicing my Spanish already—who ever said I don’t have what it takes to make a dream come true??). Subject line should read: THINGS I CAN’T TWEET.