During the beginning part of 2010, I felt a lot like I look here. Only about 72 billion times worse. Times 2.

Plus there were a full 48lbs more of me to love. Which didn’t lighten my spirits any, trust you me.

I’ve been thinking a lot about 2010. Like most of us, I tend to become introspective at the close of a year.

For example:

I clearly remember at the end of 2006, looking back with Richie at the ups and downs of that year and saying, “Babe, 2007 is going to be OUR YEAR! What else could POSSIBLY happen?!” Then my brother died June 17th 2007 (Father’s Day), and that pretty much threw 2007 (and a good portion of 2008) straight to The Underworld (in a busted up hand basket).

But I survived. Despite (lots more) death, betrayal and huge financial set backs, and despite far more doubt than I’d ever admit publicly, and despite fear, Hell and high water, 2007-2008 were the years I survived. Many times during that period I had wanted to be dead and done, so surviving was all a girl could hope for. I patted myself on the back (wholeheartedly), stood up, and brushed off my back side to face 2009 like any big girl should.

I’m genuinely proud of myself for 2007 and 2008. Sometimes, I wish I could scoop “that girl” (the 2007-2008 Natalie) up into my arms and give her a big hug. To rock her back and forth, and quietly tell her, “it’s going to be all right.” So I’ll say it to you, yes YOU, It’s going to be all right. It really, truly is. Promise.

In 2009 things were looking up. There were still struggles (a’plenty) to be negotiated, but thankfully I’d learned a thing or two or four hundred in 2007 and 2008 and was ready to face difficulty head on. Plus I had a beautiful little bun in my oven!  Who could doubt that things were looking up?! Yahoo!

Well. . . at the end of 2009, there I sat, in a hospital room, with a dying child and bottle of Martinellis (that I had no way of opening). 2009 left without a shred of crowning glory, and 2010 was deemed nothing more than the year my son would get better. I couldn’t see beyond that. Didn’t want to. Didn’t need to. All I needed was for that boy to be well.

So, 2010.

This post is meant to be dedicated to you, so what do you have to say for yourself?

After Gavin died, I had ZERO expectations, so you didn’t have much to live up to. If all you’d done was float me like your baby brothers 2007 and 2008 did, that would have been enough. No one had the right to expect a single thing out of me. If I’d of holed up in my bedroom, with a pillow over my face the entire year, I’d have been pittied, sure, but blamed for it? Not a chance.

Well, here it is. Humbly, and from my heart.

2010 was the year I found my ROAR.

I learned how to laugh, how to cry, how to hurt, how to love, how to believe, how to trust, how to simplify, how to let go . . . how to change.

I learned:

Every.single.morning, the sun will rise.
Circumstance has no power except the power we give it.
Many of life’s largest “problems” are born of thoughts and feelings and have zero basis in reality.
There is always SOMEONE to reach out to.
God can’t sail a ship that hasn’t left the harbor.
I am responsible for my life. No matter what.
I may not be able to choose my circumstances, but I can always choose my reaction to them.
The Savior is not only my Redeember, but my dearest friend.
There is a reason we are commanded to cleave unto one another as husband and wife.
A happy marriage takes real effort. And it’s worth it. 1000%. I love you Richie!
My children deserve all of me, and not what happens to be left over after everything else.
The world will go on spinning without me!!!! Fancy that!
It’s OK to have lofty dreams and ambitions!!!
ANYTHING is possible!
My brother is always closer than I think. I can often feel him in stillness.
Stillness is an essential part of my search for happiness.
Physical and spiritual health are my lifelines to success. If I want to be balanced and successful in ANY other areas of my life, these have GOT to come first.
I have to stay hydrated/I have got to avoid sugar/I need to be well rested/I have to make time for serious exercise at least 5 times a week.
I can’t do everything at the same time: at least not by myself.
It’s OK to ask for help.
Letting go is a wonderful gift.

All in all . . . I learned to BREATHE.

I could write 82 blog posts outlining everything I learned this year, and I could type until my fingers turned blue only to BEGIN to tell you everything I’m grateful for!

Because guess what? And I can say this with ZERO hesitation:

2010 was the best year of my life!

How on Earth can that be?! EVERYTHING was stacked up against me. It’s important remember that not all my living is done within the confines of this here blog. This was a BIG year, Gavin being the biggest part of it, yes, but oh boy was it a big FAT year in just about EVERY other way as well.

and yet. . .

and yet.

and yet.

Gets you thinking doesn’t it?!

Despite it all, oh what a healthy dose of faith and some determination can do!

“With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

Heavenly Father has given US, my family and I, a complete and total miracle in 2010. For that I say, “Thank you. . . THANK YOU. . . THANK YOU!” For lessons learned, tears shed, faith exercised and roar found.

Watch out 2011, here WE come!

What a WONDERFUL day!

Because of the miracle of  Jesus Christ, we’re 1  year closer to everything being just as it should!

I cannot wait to kiss those little toes, but I’ve got a whole lot of living to do in between!

Gavin David Bruce Norton

It would be a miracle to live for a century and have even a fraction of his short life’s influence for good!

October 24, 2009-January 7, 2010

God is good. ALL.THE.TIME.

First things first, you should know that you have VERY large shoes to fill. You also should know that I don’t know how to play small, nor do I ever care to learn, and that I’ll expect you to help me stay grounded, inspired, organized, centered, and hydrated. Yes, seriously.

I’m not looking for just anyone.

I’m looking for YOU.

(You don’t live in Hawaii? That’s OK. I’m open to the possibility of hiring an applicant from any region.)

You’re smart.
You’re eloquent.
You’re organized.
You have an eye for good color and great design.
You’re confident in Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator.
You know how to prep images for proofing and/or you’re a fast and willing learner.
You recognize quality when you see it and are totally committed to always producing quality work.
You know how to focus and see a job through to completion.
You’re a fast and confident worker.
You are honest, compassionate and principle centered. A straight talker and a straight shooter.
You’re capable of moving along with me as we take my business to the next level.
You get me.
You’re happy to do odds and ends jobs when I need you to.
You’re healthy, mind and spirit.
You’re confident. You’re not afraid to respectfully challenge, question and contribute without being asked.
You’re thoughtful.
You’re available mentally and emotionally to get in here and make meaningful change.
You’re keyed in to inspiration and possibility.
You’re positive.
You’re faithful.
You love to brainstorm and come up with synergistic third alternatives.
You’re proactive.
You uplift.
You have good energy.
You love my children.
You’re creative. You’re passionate about making the ordinary extraordinary! You see the beauty in everything.
You are trustworthy.
You are 100% competent.
You can respond appropriately to situations without guidance from me when necessary.
You keep me focused, inspired and energized.
You allow me to step completely away so that I can be the type of wife and mother that I want to be, and you respect me for it.
You’re articulate.
You have integrity.
You make things happen.
You are goal oriented.
You are customer oriented. My clients ADORE you.
You’re respectful. You respect me, my work, my business.
You can write and speak in grammatically accurate English. (←For instance, is this sentence grammatically correct? And should I put the closing punctuation inside or outside of this parenthesis?)
You are excited to develop a firm handle on the systems and procedures of my business.
You’re ready and willing to work WITH me, not for me.
You are better than me in every way I need you to be.

Oh, and one more thing, “you must be kind, you must be witty, very sweet and fairly pretty.”

Some tasks include:

Responding to email
Graphic design
Book keeping
All around slack-picking-uping

Part time | Hourly wage | Start ASAP

Application Information:

Send resumes to aloha{at}natalienortonblog{dot}com, subject line: Personal Assistant Application/(your name).

Please understand that I may not respond to every applicant.



Dear Ashley,

There are not words for you. Do you know that?

You were literally dropped into the front seat of my car, by a loving Heavenly Father, as an answer to the deepest prayer of my heart. You stepped in, rolled up your sleeves, and revolutionized my business, my household, my family and my life.

This post is fitting for this week, because all week long, as I’ve been neck deep in grief over the baby, I feel like I’ve simultaneously been neck deep in grief over you.

When I got the news, obviously my first thoughts and feelings were complete and total sorrow for Alden, for you, for everything surrounding what you’re up against. I was soul sick. So sorry. So so so sorry. Desiring simply to take it all away. I love you both and hate to see you hurt.

Then you left me in awe. Absolutely blew me away. I am completely inspired by the two of you. Your willingness to step up and do and be everything you need to for your family. . .You felt the fear and leaped anyway. Completely inspirational. Richie and I have so much respect for the two of you.

I feel so blessed to have you both in my life. You make me want to be better.

So here we stand. At a crossroads. Each of us headed off to wonderful places. Though thorny roads may lie ahead. . . Oh the places we’ll go! ;)

I’m so very sorry to see you go, but I am so happy to watch you fly!!

The world is yours. All of it.

I love you.



all image credit this post: Uncle Jonathan Canlas

“There is beauty all around.”

I tweeted that the day of Baby Gavin’s funeral.

It was as true then as it is today.

There is beauty everywhere and always.

Sometimes, when you’re “knee deep in the thick of life,” as I like to say, it’s so easy to get focused on your feet. To feel the weight of the world as it threatens to CRUSH your very soul. We’ve all been there. Don’t you dare dream, for even an instant, that I think grief and pain are exclusive to me or my individual set of circumstances. We’ve all got our “stuff,” and as a runner, I’ll tell you what, it only takes a very small pebble to bring you to your knees.

Life gets heavy . . . and oftentimes so.

Even the small stuff can feel completely and totally insurmountable.

Sometimes it’s not fair. Sometimes we feel all alone. Sometimes we can’t see any way up and out. Sometimes we literally feel like we’re being SUFFOCATED.

I’ll tell you this: “Look up!” Get your eyes off your feet and up to the Heavens, because there’s ALWAYS something to be grateful for.

In gratitude, there is healing.

In gratitude, there is relief.

In gratitude, there is hope.

In gratitude, there is companionship.

In gratitude, there is comfort.

In gratitude. . .there is God.

And there really is beauty all around.

See, I told you so.