My journey toward authenticity began the day my son died the day I died. (I can tell you from the bottom of my soul, they are one and the same.)

And there I was.

There I was. . .

(Deep exhale here.)

Nothing remained, aside from the physical form of the woman I had once been. Inside of that? Nothing was the same. When you come to THAT moment (that we all pray to God you never will) you have exactly two choices.

1.  You die.
2.  Or you don’t.

Physical death, yes, I suppose would be a third alternative (a thought that EVERY mother who’s walked where I’ve walked has entertained, even if only in an especially weak and fleeting moment), but I’m not speaking of physical death. I’m speaking of emotional death. Spiritual callus. The armor of the soul. Survival. Safety. The opportunity to disengage from the excruciating pain. The promise of relief from the acute, unrelenting torture. Option number 1, you die. See?

Option number 2, you don’t. BUT HOW DON’T YOU? HOW?! HOW?!!!! AND YES I’M SHOUTING NOW. I’M SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF MY BROKEN HEART. HOW DON’T YOU JUST CLIMB INTO THE CUPBOARD UNDER THE STAIRS AND BURY YOUR HEAD IN THE SAND? (Yes, my cupboard under the stairs is at the beach. Apparently. And yes, I’m done yelling at you.)


You submit.

And that’s how.

You submit.

You own your nothingness before God and yet your “everythingness” within him. For we are, each of us, nothing and everything all in the same harrowing yet joy-filled breath.

The moments after Gavin died horrified me. Horror. Times infinity. To the power of a million. For all the obvious reasons yes, but for one you rarely think about in specific. Eventually, friends, you have to walk away. You have to hand your dead child over to a stranger, and you have to walk away. I’ve never felt so small. I’ve never felt so afraid. I couldn’t do it. I moaned. I cried. I held him as tightly as I could. I probably screamed out loud, though I don’t remember for certain. If I didn’t, I should have. I’d certainly earned the right.

I’ve never been so acutely focused (before or since). I was completely keyed in to the moment I was in, the feelings I was experiencing, the fear that engulfed me. And amid all that terror, amid all that submission, amid all that awareness of my nothingness before God, I found something.


No longer was I a woman who was born in 1981, had lived a while, and was having this experience in a hospital room in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit in 2010. I was Natalie.

I felt connected to myself in a whole new way. Connected to my divinity as a child of God, a literal spirit daughter of The Creator of Heaven and Earth and all things that in them are. I was Natalie, and Natalie, this me, SHE had the strength required to walk away. SHE had the faith required to move through this moment (and every one that would follow). SHE had the perspective I lacked. SHE had the courage I desired. SHE knew God in a way that I had never dreamed possible.

I held her hand, I kissed his face, and I walked away.

Over time, I’ve come to know her better. Learning she existed was half the battle, now getting to know her learning to become her will win me the war.

Authenticity. It’s a practice, not an art. A journey, not a destination.

But it’s worth the work. It’s worth the commitment.

And it’s definitely worth the jump.


This is the first post of a series. Practical, actionable steps toward the Journey to YOU to follow.

By the time you see this beautiful image from Michael and Jessica’s Scottsdale engagement session, I’ll be on a plane to the Dominican Republic.

Beautiful wedding, sun, sand, beach and . . .  what’s looking like RAIN, here I come.

Every now and then you just need to push pause and recharge. Hand me the remote; I’m totally ready.



PS- My plan is to keep blogging, posting on Instagram (NatalieNorton-FIND ME!) and etc. We’ll see what the internet connection is like (and just how sunny it turns out to be). No promises.

January 7, 2010

I remember walking out of the hospital room after he died. I remember each step in vivid detail. Richie and I walked, our arms wrapped tightly around one another—I leaned my weight heavily against him, trying to keep myself from falling to the ground. “I feel like Adam and Eve,” I’d said. “We’re on our way into the lone and dreary world. Nothing will ever be the same.”

News like this spreads like wildfire. As soon as I went radio silent on the www, speculations were rampant. I started getting messages from strangers offering me Valium and other strange narcotics. Thankfully, I was cognizant enough to know that this would be nothing more than putting a fairy band aid on a gaping wound (and thankfully my momma taught me right, “Just say, ‘no’”).  We waked into the hotel room, where Richie helped me bind my breasts with an ace bandage. Practicality still reigned sovereign. I was a nursing mom. I’d been pumping every 2 hours since he’d been admitted to the PICU, and I was in a lot of pain.

Then we climbed into bed, wrapped our arms around each other. . . and cried.

I did sleep that night. I know I did, because I remember waking up. I remember waking up and groaning at the throbbing in my chest. I slipped out of bed and into the bathroom, where I tried to gently unwrap myself. I screamed from the pain—I’m not sure if it was the physical pain, the broken heart, or a combination of everything, but I let out a scream the size of Texas.

Later that morning, my parents arrived. They’d booked us flights home later that day. They’d arranged for Gavin’s body to be shipped on the same flight from Salt Lake City to Honolulu. God bless her, my mom didn’t want us to be separated. I still don’t know what percentage of a fortune this cost them, but gosh am I grateful.

I just lay on the couch as everyone discussed the details of the day. I’d say I was numb, but that would be lazy writing. I wasn’t numb. I felt. I felt every breath in my body, every beat of my heart. I could feel my cells regenerating, my blood pumping, the growth of my hair. No I wasn’t numb, only incapacitated. Completely incapable of anything but cellular function . . .  to breathe in and out.

I don’t know why I’m telling you this story, except that I am.

I’ve never known how to describe the way that day felt in words. I pray to God you never have to learn for yourself.

Nearly 2 years later, I received a forwarded email from my friend, Jon. A stranger had written a song.

“I wrote a song late one night after following the story of your friend Natalie losing her little baby. I wrote it quick and recorded it quick to try and not lose the tension I was feeling after reading of her heartbreaking loss. It’s a personal thing… something I can never really comprehend.”

Again, all this time later, I found myself wrapped in Richie’s arms, silent sobs rising from my chest.

Little did this man know, he’d written the words of my soul.

Ryan Tanner, Salt Lake City Rain.

click here to open post Jan 03, 2012 | posted in Inspire, Personal | 18 comments

Last year:

2011 was full of some really big wins—for my family, my marriage, my career. . . my soul, but the success came, as success often does, littered amid some really overwhelming (and even devastating)  transition and pain. So yes, my feelings toward 2011 (and subsequently 2012) are muddled, and rightly so.

I will however say this, I’m not sorry to watch the year go.

Sayonara lady; say.o.nar.a.

I resolve:

(When, by the way, did feelings vis-à-vis goal setting at the beginning of the year become so antagonistic? People, have a little courage—and faith in yourselves—for Pete’s sake!)

In 2011, I had one resolution.  One. It’s of a fairly personal (read: embarrassing) nature, so don’t expect me to dish. Sorry friends, your curious little cat is definitely going to die–my lips are sealed.

Like I said, one resolution, and while it is still somewhat a work in progress, I’m happy to report that SIGNIFICANT (read: soul rattling) progress was in fact made toward it’s fulfillment in 2011. Reason to rejoice!

This year’s resolution, I am willing to divulge, but not without back story.

Me: Richie, what’s your resolution?

Richie: To do what I know.

Me: How do you mean?

Richie: I know a lot. This year, I need to DO what I know.

You see, he’s right.

We DO know a LOT.
All of us do.

It’s easy to focus on the negative, on the places we lack, on the ways our lives are different than, less than, harder than those around us (or worse than the way we thought they’d be—the way we “deserved” them to be). But the reality is, if we really dig deep, we’ll find just how blessed we really are, and if we dig even deeper, we’ll find that we inherently have every.single.thing we need, right inside of us.

My short conversation with my brilliant husband caused me to dig.

Here’s what I found.

I have been blessed with tremendous parents (M + D) who raised me with love and taught me emotional intelligence and spiritual understanding (and happily, some street smarts to boot). I have been blessed with remarkable resources both personally and professionally who teach me (mostly through example) how to not only survive, but to THRIVE in this crazy realm we call “life.” I also have beautiful children who have taught me patience and love, and a smart, faithful, supportive husband who loves me crazy. (Yes, that last sentence reads just as I intended it to. ) I have a religion that fills me to overflowing and stands ready to guide me through every faucet of my life: if only I’ll stop, look and listen.

Above and beyond everything else, I have that quiet voice that lives deep inside my soul. . . that sweet voice that inherently knows the way to love, to live, to be. This year, I’m ready to listen to that voice who knows.

I’m still muddled; I have no idea where this year will lead, but this is the year I will stop spinning my wheels, and simply do what I know.

Yes, this is the year I’ll live from my heart; this is the year I’ll do what I know.

Here’s to you, 2012. I’m sincerely excited for you to come into focus.

Because I know A LOT. (


Above: me, wrapped in my swaddling clothes…

Hello friends!

I’m sorry I’ve been MIA this week.

I’m not going to color coat my life for the blogosphere… I’m in a genuine funk. I miss my brother, I miss my son and all this missing makes me feel like I’m quietly losing my mind.

Every time I close my eyes, vivid memories, horrifying memories flood my consciousness.

Showers are the worst; I didn’t realize how much deep, closed eyed thinking went on during showers.

I’d rather stay dirty, thank you.

I knew this anniversary would be hard, I just didn’t anticipate the person it would turn me in to. I’m grouchy and melancholy, and for the first time in a long time, I actually feel sorry for myself.

Bleh. I hate this version of me.

The happy news is that I respect myself enough to let myself ride this wave. One of the greatest gifts I can give myself through grief is the opportunity to simply be where I am, without frustration, without judgment.
Because this too shall pass.

It most certainly shall…


Note: blogged from my phone. Please pardon any crazy formatting or grammatical oversights… Muah!