The road called “life.”

I’ve been thinking a LOT about life the last few days.

It never gets easier, does it? I used to think that I’d get to a point along the road of life when things would settle down, ease up, fall in to place. I’ve come to the realization that this kind of expectation is elusive. . .AND that it really doesn’t matter. The very second I let go of any and all expectation about what life should be (what I deserved it to be), the MOMENT I faced life with complete acceptance, no matter the circumstances, EVERYTHING changed for the better. It’s amazing what a small dose of humility and acceptance can do for a soul. Remarkable really. I am a happier human being (infinitely so), I am filled with an overwhelming sense of confidence and optimism for the future, and my heart is utterly at peace–all from simply accepting what is without anger, without offense, without regret, and then continuing to move forward in gratitude and faith. Ultimately it’s not about where you’ve been, or even where you currently are, life is about where you’re actively headed.

Lean in and enjoy the ride.

Now. . .

Funnies just for fun:

1. I recently decided that it was a good idea to iron the fly of my pants. . . while they were still on my body. This was, in fact, NOT a good idea. Not.at.all.

2. Lincoln has decided that his favorite word is “Sexy,” pronounced “Saaaaaxssssy.” Don’t worry, hearing him sing it to himself EVERY.WHERE.WE.GO isn’t at all embarrassing.

3. This morning, Cardon decided that he was going to stay under the kitchen table until we let him wear his pajamas underneath his school uniform. He outlasted me and went to school looking like a homeless marshmallow.

4. Christmas shopping is fun, aside from the fact that I get all teary eyed whenever I pass something that would be the perfect gift for a 2 year old boy. Oy.

5. The peppermint milkshake at Chick-fil-a is the second best thing that ever happened to Christmas.

aaaaand. . .

The Weekly Digest:

Because I want to jump up and down. . . and throw some dirt.
Curly Girl: the curly girl’s Bible.
The Higgins Family!
The Breathe Intensive | Las Vegas.

Have a beautiful weekend!

click here to open post Dec 11, 2011 | posted in Inspire, Personal | 12 comments

I’ve been working SO HARD the last few weeks; it’s been dizzying.

Remember being a kid and trying to dig a hole at the beach? The sand seemed to fill the hole as quickly a you could dig it, and then, once you finally DID make measurable progress, what happened? A wave crashed to shore, and that was that.

Life anyone?! I’ve been living that analogy like crazy over the past few months, and here’s the thing, I refuse to let this BEAUTIFUL, PERFECT time of year pass by this way! None of us should! If there is ONE time of year that we get to call “Uncle” and jut LIVE LIFE without worry, without inhibition, without fear, THIS.IS.IT.

The goose is officially FAT! Let’s deck our halls, eat our figgy pudding, and make our Yuletides gay (for crying out loud)!

Christmas.is.ON!  I’m ready to jump up and down and throw some dirt, just because I’m a grownup, and that means I get to act like a kid whenever the heck I feel like it! So there!

Merry Christmas everyone! Let’s DO this thing!!

PS. Just for fun, here’s a ridiculously hilarious (and purposefully obnoxious) little Christmas song Richie and his friend Chris recorded (in his bedroom) about 10 years ago. Enjoy!

Richie Norton Christmas by natalienorton

Pardon the funky color. Dark kitchen, late afternoon. Dear Photo Nerds: 50mm, f1.4, iso 1600.

Don’t you worry, my holiday diet plan consists of plenty of culinary delight! I love fudge. I love butter mints. I love hot chocolate. I LOVE cheesecake. Aaaaaaand I have to have at least one cup of eggnog before the season feel’s complete (even though I’d hardly call myself a fan of the stuff).

You know what I also love? My waistline, AND feeling healthy: mind, body, spirit. I love feeling comfortable and confident, bright and clear minded.

Real confidence and clarity come from truly caring for myself–physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.

One of my goals this month is to be moderate. I want to enjoy the holidays, and food is one of my very favorite enjoyments! BUT I don’t want to eat myself sick. I DON’T want to eat myself numb. And I certainly don’t want to eat my way all the way into the month of February!

With SO.MANY.GOODIES lying around this time of year, we’ve got to fight hard to even the scales! Again and again (and again!) I am NOT advocating deprivation. I’m not advocating dieting or calorie counting. Not at this time of year! And I’m certainly NEVER an advocate for guilt! What AM I advocating? MODERATION.

Simple Tips for Holiday Health:

Eat breakfast! Eating breakfast helps you stay full throughout the day, so that when it is time for meals, you’ll make healthier choices. I recommend a breakfast high in protein.

Stock up! Chop fruits and veggies for easy access. You’ve got nearly unlimited access to poor health options this time of year. Give yourself an alternative! A lot of the time, I find I simply eat what’s right in front of me, not necessarily because it’s what I WANT to be eating, but because it’s so accessible! Watch out if all I have easy access to all month is toffee and candy canes. You’ll need a crane to lift me into the new year . . .

Stay hydrated! If you do nothing else for yourself every day, hydrate! It makes a bigger difference in your overall health than you can imagine! Plus, it fills you up and keeps you from eating an entire roll of cookie dough. Stock up on water (or buy a good reusable bottle). If possible, opt for alkaline options, aka artisan water.  Fiji is my fave!

Plan ahead! Know your day is going to be nuts? Prepare meals and snacks the night before! I cannot stress this enough! If you allow yourself to get too hungry, you will be forced to make a nutrition decision from that state of mind/body–it will be  MUCH harder to make a decision that will really serve your overall health. Plus, getting too hungry is bad for your blood sugar and makes you a Moody Mildred.

Exercise! Get a workout buddy or simply find someone you can report to! Even if you only spend 5 minutes dancing to Jingle Bell Rock! You’ve got to get yourself moving, every day!

Eat a cookie–for crying out loud! Want some of Aunt Mildred’s chocolate walnut fudge?? For Heaven’s sake, eat some! Just don’t eat the entire pan. . .  Depriving yourself at this time of year isn’t fun. . . or very realistic. Most of the time, deprivation simply leads to overeating at some point in the future. Have a piece or two of fudge, and then move on to the vegetable tray. Side note: You’ll find that the more you fill yourself with healthy alternatives to sugar, the less you’ll actually crave the stuff.

I truly believe that your body is an outward expression of an inward state of being. That said:

Simple Tips for Emotional Success:

Turn off the boob tube! Commit to cut down on TV time. I think TV is GREAT, but as with anything, excess isn’t a good thing. Find a book, write in your journal, cuddle up and spend some  time with your spouse in front of the fire. Don’t waste this beautiful month of joy and friendship and celebration completely tuned out on life!

Lights out! Set a bedtime, and STICK TO IT! In order to be at our best emotionally, we’ve got to be well rested! Keep in mind that as you become consistent with regular bed/wake times, your body is much more stable and calm overall. Every time you participate in mismanaged sleep, your body basically goes through a process of jetlag. That’s SO HARD on your system. Plus, you won’t have big dark bags under your eyes in all the holiday pics.

Write! If you want to really connect to what’s going on inwardly (in order to change or nourish what’s going on outwardly), you’ve got to connect with yourself. It’s time to stop burying problems in food. . . or successes and joys for that matter! If you feel something, feel it! Start to notice when you’re feeling the urge to eat something unhealthy, see if there is something going on mentally or emotionally that has triggered the urge to eat. There is a VERY good chance you are either trying to celebrate (reward) yourself or avoid something painful/difficult to face. Use your journal as a place to explore what you’re experiencing emotionally. SO many of us walk through this season (and life in general) emotionally numbed by food. . .never allowing ourselves to thrive emotionally (and thus, we don’t thrive physically either).

Say “thanks!” If you don’t want to journal your feelings. . . try writing down a list of gratitude each day. 10 things you’re grateful for (though, chances are, once you get going, you won’t stop at just 10). This is such a healthy exercise for our minds. It helps us retrain our thinking, so we’re more actively engaged in focusing on the positive rather than the negative–what a perfect frame of mind to commit to this time of year!

We can do this! Let’s prove that we CAN care for ourselves in any set of circumstances, and hit the ground running come 2012!

click here to open post Nov 30, 2011 | posted in Inspire | 11 comments

We are all faced with a series of great opportunities, brilliantly disguised as unsolvable problems.
- John W. Gardener (via http://twitter.com/motivational)

Life is full of hard. Hard. Hard. HARD. I get it.

You’ve scarcely had the chance to stand up and brush yourself off before you again find yourself on your knees. . . likely in a pool of your very own blood. I get that, too.

I used to believe that I would grow up, and there would come a time when life would slow down, things would get easier, everything would miraculously fall in to place. But the reality is, life is a challenge, nearly every day of it, and for a million wonderful reasons, it’s meant to be so.

We have to learn to seek stillness despite all the noise. We have to strive to hold on to that quiet peace we feel, even if we have to dig down to the very bottom of our hearts to find it.

Because, I SINCERELY believe that all these things truly can and WILL work together for our ultimate good. I SINCERELY believe that the universe is NOT out to get us, and that we, each of us, is meant to be happy and fulfilled, despite it allllllll.

So many AMAZING OPPORTUNITIES come to us all wound up in a zillion obstacles we’ve got to overcome.

A happy life (and I TRULY BELIEVE we are meant to be happy) necessitates that we learn to train ourselves to see the world in this way. To say emphatically, “Yes! This is bologna, an absolute disaster, but there’s got to be something good all wrapped up inside. If I stick with it long enough, if I face it square on, I’ll turn this ship right around. I’ll figure this all out!”

But right there’s the problem. We hit a wall and we don’t think this way. Not at all. We instantly fall to the ground, complete and total victims of circumstance. We whine, we complain, and we compare saying, “If I had things as easy as he does, or if I were as thin (smart, pretty, rich and on and on and on) as her, THEN . . .”

How does meeting life like this serve us? It doesn’t. Not in the least.

Step up. Lean in. Remember, you are MEANT to be happy, and that insurmountable problem you’re facing? Well, it just may prove to be the very biggest opportunity of your life! It’s all about perspective. . . and a healthy dose of faith, just for good measure.

xo!

N

Photo by G.

You know, this time of year is a real struggle for me. I have a tendency to feel anxious and melancholy. . . for no apparent reason. It’s important to acknowledge that these feelings existed even before I had a legitimate reason to be experiencing them, so they can’t simply be chalked up to grief or intense missing, though yes, those feelings have clearly been added to the mix.

This time of year will always hold a little tenderness for me, but that doesn’t explain why it always has.

I think I’ve figured it out. Officially. Finally. Thankfully.

A Quick Premise:

I believe that our bodies and our spirits are intimately connected. I believe that a healthy body leads to a healthy mind and spirit—and vice versa. Note: I didn’t say a “skinny body leads to a healthy mind and spirit.” I said a healthy one. There is a significant difference between being thin just for the sake of it and actually being healthy—mind, body, soul.

Over the past couple of years, in an effort to really nurture myself through my grief, I’ve become more and more nutritionally minded (and balanced). In so doing, I’ve become increasingly aware of the effect poor nutrition and lack of exercise have on my physiology. When I’m living in a cycle of disordered eating and exercise patterns, I become mentally clouded and depressed. My body feels uncomfortable, lethargic and frumpy (for lack of a better description). My soul feels thirsty (unquenchably so) and alone.

Today, as I suffered through Diet Coke withdrawals, I realized what happens to me over the holiday season. I eat and behave myself physically, mentally and emotionally ill. The disordered eating starts in October and lives on well into January (and if I’m being honest, it would be safe to say it continues until Valentines Day).  I know, this is fairly intimate. Many of you are reading along thinking, “I cannot believe she’s sharing all this.” But I truly believe that many more of you are nodding your heads as you experience “ah ha moments” of your very own.

Something New:

Let’s choose something new. Let’s choose to care for ourselves even when everything circumstantially seems to dictate otherwise. I don’t want to live through to New Year’s Day in a cloud of gloom and discouragement. I don’t want to eat away my worries and fears, or my joys and happiness’ for that matter! I want to be clear, happy, bright, hopeful, connected . . . free, all the things I’ve found come to me when I’m truly caring for myself. And I think that’s exactly what I deserve. I think we all do.

I’m not pledging “perfection” (whatever the HECK that means in terms of health and nutrition, particularly over the holidays), and I’m definitely not a fan of deprivation.  Heaven knows I’m in a pumpkin pie induced coma as we speak (Thanksgiving is, after all, the gateway drug). . . I’m simply pledging awareness, commitment and resolve, through 12.31.2011.

My Plan | Ideas for YOU:

1. Water: I’m committed to drinking more of it. At least 2-3 liters a day. Hydration is KEY to any kind of wellness, body or otherwise.

2. Exercise: I’m committing to getting at least 20 minutes, every weekday. No exceptions. Exercise is my anti-depressant. It’s necessity.

3.  Sleep: I’m committed to getting at least 7 hours a week night. Again, necessity.

4. Reading/writing: I’m committed to taking at least 10 minutes for myself to read and/or write, every day. It fills my cup and allows me more to share with others.

5. Proper nutrition: This one is the hardest for me to commit to this time of year. . . But, if I really listen to my body, I know, I’m ready for a cleanse. I’ve been traveling so much over the last month, and eating and exercising so poorly as a natural result, that my system is all out of whack. I KNOW that nothing centers me or brings me more clarity and peace than a good nutritional cleanse. I’m not talking molasses and cayenne pepper (seriously people??). I’m talking real, accessible nutrition that nourishes me on a cellular level. I personally love the Isagenix system, but if that’s not your thing, watch the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, grab a juicer and set something else up that works for you. Whatever serves you best, brings me joy! For me, starting Monday, December 5th, I’ll be stepping in to a 9 day deep body cleanse using the Isagenix system.

I’m going to build an accountability team with anyone who wants to join me on this journey, and we’ll all work together (personally, via facebook and email) to achieve overall success. The goal? Real health: mind, body, spirit.

2 ways to join:

If you’re interested in joining me using the Isagenix system, email Angel (ASAP so you can get your product in time) at angelnaivalu{at}gmail{dot}com.

If you’re interested in joining me using a system of your own, email me at natalienorton{at}gmail{dot}com with the subject line: Accountability. You don’t have to join this accountability circle to participate in good health this holiday season, but don’t let shyness be your reason not to. I’d LOVE to get to know you. I won’t bite. ;)

6. Moderation: I pledge to be moderate. I pledge to enjoy the holiday season, after all, food is a HUGE part of what makes this time of year great! Tradition is all wrapped up in food, and I LOVE IT.  I simply promise to be moderate. To eat what my body wants and needs and to “indulge responsibly.” ;) I promise not to eat myself sick. After the cleanse is complete on December 14th, I promise to move forward in moderation, not deprivation.

And that’s that. Who’s with me?

I can’t wait to experience this holiday season as the very best version of myself: clear, happy, bright, hopeful, connected . . . free. All the wonderful joys truly caring for myself provides!

xo!

N