Pictured (L to R): Racquel Marvez, moi, Manjula Varghese

My episode of The Generations Project won an Emmy last night in the Human Interest category. Pardon the above screen shot of someone else’s cell phone picture, but metaphorically, it’s the perfect example of how last night felt— a blurry moment in the middle of someone else’s dream. It was surreal to say the least.  Wonderful, yes, and totally surreal.

This morning, I woke up to this face. I woke up to real life, and that moment wasn’t blurry and surreal. It was perfectly clear. . . and exquisitely beautiful. . . and filled with real life joy—real life joy that is at least a thousand times more wonderful than all the pretty shoes, fancy dresses and yes, even Emmy awards, the world over.

Over the last 8 weeks, I’ve been really sick. I mean very, very, ill. (No, I’m not pregnant, promise). Because of this, I’ve had to retract from nearly every facet of my life that doesn’t require my absolute presence. Essentially this equates to every ounce of my available energy being focused solely on breathing in and out and loving on my children—there hasn’t been any time left for blogging, shooting, writing, (cleaning, eh hem) . . . or running around like a glorified chicken with her head detached and tucked pridefully under her wing.

And guess what? I finally remember.

I remember that life isn’t about anything except for what’s right in front of you. Oxygen—breathing it in and out, all day long. People—loving them with every last beat of your heart. God—trusting his will and timing, even and especially when it’s confusing and seemingly unfair. Everything else is merely peripheral to what matters most. No, everything else MUST exist solely to SUPPORT the things that matter most.

None of this to say that Emmys (and fancy shoes) aren’t amazing! Last night really was a dream, not to mention an incredible honor! But waking up to that drippy, freckle faced, little boy reminded me, for the trillionth time, that if I want to not only survive but THRIVE in this thing called life, I have to turn down the volume on the things that matter least and emphatically embrace the things that matter most, for therein lies real life joy.

PS. Speaking of fancy shoes, I couldn’t walk in mine. I may be the only person in history ever to walk up on stage to accept an Emmy. . . in bare feet. (Just keepin’ it real.)

Above, screen shot of my favorite moment of the entire experience.

First of all, why has no one ever told me how RIDICULOUS I look when I run?

Seriously people?

In my mind, I’m Paula Freaking Radcliffe. In reality? I’m like a . . . I honestly don’t think there’s an adequate description. Umph.

My episode of The Generations Project aired last night on BYUTV. Many of you followed my journey as it unfolded. It was heavy. It was emotional. It was exhaustive.


It was truly one of the most inspiring experiences of my life.

And I almost didn’t participate.

When the casting director contacted me, I was an inch away from following a knee jerk reaction to simply say, “no.” I’d never heard of the show. I didn’t have time. I’ve got 4 beautiful boys (yes, I’m including Richie), who like me, a lot. PLUS, I was scheduled to be shooting a wedding on Oahu only 2 days before they wanted to start filming in Salt Lake City. All arrows pointed to not.a.chance.  Thankfully I called my sweet-mother-in-law, Shelly. She said simply, “You’ve GOT to do this.” And my heart echoed. Completely. So off I went.

And I’m infinitely grateful I did.

You know, The Old Testament talks about the Spirit of Elijah. I never understood it before now. And even after the absolute depth of my experience, I still can’t express it in words. Were I to try, it would somehow dilute the power—the absolute significance. I’ll simply say, this spirit, this power is real. And it’s astonishing.

Here’s the episode in full. (OR: View Natalie Norton on The Generations Project on the BYUTV site by following the link.)

Sincere, heartfelt gratitude to the following:

Kohl Glass: Because he listened to me. Because he not only HEARD my words but felt them. Internalized them. . . and helped me to connect with, and internalize, them as well. Bless you, brother. Bless you.
Raquel Marvez: Because I’ve never met a more passionately committed person in my life. EVER. She hustled. Every second. Of every.single.day. And because her sense of style blows my mind.
Chantelle Olsen: Because we’re soul sisters, and because she made it all possible. xo, woman.
Marcia Richards: Because there isn’t a soul the world over who doesn’t love Marcia best of all. PS. Marcia, it’s 2012—get yourself a bona fide web presence! What the heck?!
Jack Allred: Because he’s a visionary. Because he’s patient beyond all human capacity or reason. And because he made sure not to make me look too fat. . . other than that one shot. . . from behind. . . just before the final scene. WHAT.THE.HECK.JACK?! ;)
Katienne Norton: Because she’s a Norton (even though we’re not technically related). And because her heart is oh so tender and most definitely made of solid GOLD. And because she’s a sound NINJA. Hi ya! (But for real.) And PS. Katienne, no website for you either?! Woman!

I said it before, and I’ll say it again, love you like family, people. Like family. THANK YOU, from my SOUL. No, deeper. xo, N

QUICK wrap up and then back to our regularly scheduled programming, scout’s honor.

Above: Instax: Crew + me: @ the airport. As per every other second of our lives.

I know.

I’m sorry that this blog was completely hijacked by my sudden genealogical mid life crisis (of sorts). We’ve all been completely and totally saturated by The Generation’s Project, but I’m happy (and very sad) to report that the journey has officially come to a close. . . though truth be told, in my actual life and heart, it’s only just begun.

To say, AGAIN, that my involvement in this project has changed my life sounds ridiculously trite in contrast to the true feelings of my soul.

I will never be the same.

Above: Instax: The last scene of the episode was filmed here in Phoenix.
It was SO refreshing to have my family involved.
Missed them like crazy.

What I learned, in CliffNotes form:

1. We are closer to those who have gone before us than we might think. They care about us and are very much invested in the types of lives we lead. (I KNOW how absurd that must sound, but this experience has shown me that it is, in fact, truth.)

2. We should live each day in grateful tribute to those who have gone before. . . family yes, but also, leaders, innovators, heroes of all shapes and sizes, even the lost, lonely and forgotten. . .  and on and on and on. We have been given MUCH; we have MUCH to be grateful for.

3.  A grateful heart, is a happy heart. A grateful heart is NEVER a victim of circumstance and can withstand even the cruelest occurrences in life with courage and even joy.

4.  Being anxiously engaged in the service of others, carries with it a deep sense of satisfaction (and hope) that cannot be found in any other way.

5.  It is important that we keep a history, that our children, and their children, and on and on and on, might learn from our challenges and mistakes and rejoice in our successes. We must write, that they might know that the same courage and will to prevail that lives within us, is inherent also to them. We must record that they might know that they are LOVED, and even before they are consciously known, they matter.

Above: Instagram (NatalieNorton)
En route to the airport: final flight.
Officially bidding this journey a very fond aloooooha!

My commitment moving forward. Again, very much abridged:

1.  I will thank God for my blessings every, single day.

2.  I will LOVE and CHERISH my living children. . . in honor of Almira. . . who could not do so for her own.

3. I will continue the legacy of service left by brave and beautiful Lucy. I will not wallow in grief or hide behind self pity and doubt; I will step forward and lose myself in doing good, every day, and always.

4. I will continue to write, that my children (and theirs) might know me, completely–that they might know my deep, abiding love for them and for that God who gives us life. I will write the TRUTH, as I see it, from the bottom of my soul.

5. I will seek God more completely. I will strive to know him more intimately, through sincere prayer, openly expressed gratitude, and daily study of his inspired word.

My sincere gratitude (and so much love you can taste it) to those who made this episode possible: Racquel, Kohl, Marcia, Jack, Katiene, my soul sister, Chantelle, and allllll the folks at Mirror Lake!

Aloooooha, N

Now, as promised. . . and you’re welcome, in advance:

Note: I left Quincy, IL today and arrived here in Logan, UT. I’ve completed my research on one particular line of my pedigree chart, and I’m now moving on to research another ancestor here in Logan. One word. . . er sound. . . Brrrrrrrrrr. Details to come. Stay tuned.

Today. . .

I’m simply not ready to talk about it. I’m too fearful that anything I might say could dilute the overwhelming significance of the experience. Until I’m ready to elaborate, I will leave you with this:

Today, for the first time in my life, I undoubtedly felt what The Bible refers to as “the spirit of Elisha.” There are no words to describe the significance of this day in the overall story that is my life here on Earth.

“And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers.” Malachi 4:6

This power is real, it is important, and feeling it. . . is an honor (and a joy) I cannot yet find words to describe.

I left a part of my heart in Quincy, IL today . . . or perhaps I simply brought a piece of Quincy along with me . . . or maybe. . . it’s just a little bit of both. . .

Any way you slice it, I will never be the same.

Above family headstone reads: “Asleep in Jesus’ peaceful rest.”