May 14, 2012 | posted in God is Good, Making Things Happen, Personal | 14 comments

When I was a teenager, my mom and I used to head up American Fork Canyon every morning to hike the trail to Timpanogos Cave. Some of the most profound spiritual experiences of my life occurred on the face of that mountain. It was there I learned to listen to my Father in Heaven (I’d always been very good at talking AT Him).

These early morning adventures are among my most treasured memories with my mother. However, one experience stands high above the rest.

I may have a stronger build than Mom, but boy does that woman have endurance. She can go and go and go and go and go. But when you’re 16 years old, you’re supposed to be faster, stronger, and more fit than your old lady mom. I was none of the above. And it was INFURIATING.

On this particular day, I was determined not to finish in her shadow. As we approached the final stretch of the trail, 3 steep switchbacks (by far the steepest of the entire climb), I opened the throttle. I literally sprinted the remaining distance to the top of the mountain.

VICTORY!

But the sense of accomplishment very quickly gave way to absolute terror. I reached for my throat, desperately gasping for air.

None came.

I panicked. I began to feel dizzy. Thankfully, I was coherent enough to lower myself to the ground in order to avoid falling over the edge. The harder I tried to gasp for breath, the more frantic I became. I could not breathe. I was horrified, certain I was going to die. A few other hikers had gathered around, but that detail is foggy. I don’t remember what they said, if anything, or what they did, if anything. I just remember them being there, and I remember sensing their sincere concern for me. The next thing I clearly remember was my mom trotting up over the top of the trail. The moment she saw me, she rushed to my side.

All she did was place her hand on my back.

Immediately, I took a long, deep breath. And another, and another. . .

I was safe. My mom was there.

________________________________________________________________________

For the last year and a half I have been heavily involved in The Making Things Happen Intensive. This is work I believe in. It is rich and fulfilling. It has made me a better person in every way.

And . . . it’s time to say goodbye.

As much as I love this work, the girls (Gina, Lara, Em) and the remarkable alum, the reality is this: God has been knocking on my heart for some time now, and just like I learned during those mornings on the trail, all those years ago, I need to remember to listen.

(Yes, I’m licking my son’s face. Believe me, the punk had it coming.)

As it relates to my professional life, this may be a big, bad business decision (and by “may be” I mean “most certainly is”).

Yes, I am afraid. There is a tremendous amount of uncertainty ahead. But I am absolutely certain that I am being called home, and I am thus absolutely certain that I will NEVER live to regret this decision. . . as difficult as it has been to make.


As much as I hate saying “goodbye” to something I love so very, very much, I am also saying “hello.” I’m saying “hello” to something I love even more.

Clearly the last 5 years haven’t exactly been easy on my family. It’s important to remember that not only did my boys lose their brother, they also lost their uncle. . . who had lived with (or very near) them for the entirety of their lives. Their sense of loss has been tremendous, beyond anything I could have ever imagined would be our reality. They still struggle daily from the remnants of this devastation. . . and though I firmly believe that they will eventually heal, I also believe that they will continue to struggle for some time to come.

They need me. Here. To wrap my arms around them and echo my mother before me.

“You’re safe. Mommy is here.”

All photos in this post courtesy of G.

PS- I love you Lara, Gina and Emily. Your response to all of this has been nothing less than as gracious and supportive as everything I have come to expect from each of you. You are remarkable. Exceptional. The best friends I ever could have dreamed up in my very wildest of imaginings. I’ll always, ALWAYS, be your biggest supporter and your number one fan.

PPS- All, happiest of Mother’s Days, by the way.

May 10, 2012 | posted in parenting, Personal, work/home balance | 4 comments

Caping, Sedona, AZ. Watching the sunset at the lookout on Airport Road.

I have been thinking.

A lot, actually.

About life. About love. About what really matters.

Not what I’m TOLD matters, but what sincerely matters to me. . . at the very core of who I am.

You know, this image is it. Nothing beyond that, nothing beyond them (all of them, pictured or no) matters a lick.

As I rest there, in THAT reality? I find peace. I find clarity. I find perfect direction. In this world, spinning at a maddening pace, I am still.

I am still.

May 07, 2012 | posted in Baby Gavin, Sounds of Pertussis | 16 comments

The first time, I worried over what to wear, how to sit, what to say. What colors would be most flattering? Should I cross my legs? Which statistics would pack the most punch?

I’ll be honest. In the very beginning it was fun. For a total of about 33 seconds.

Then you remember what you’re doing it all for. You remember what it felt like to kick and scream and pray and bargain and plead. You remember what it felt like to put your child in the ground.

Yes, you remember why you’re here. And you stop caring what you’re wearing or how it will look under the lights. You stop caring if you’re eyebrows look even or if you brought the right color slip.

I remember after Raleigh was born, I’d fantasize of a full night’s sleep. I’d imagine how wonderful it would feel to go to a hotel room, all by myself, climb in to bed. . . and wake up in the morning. UNINTERRUPTED SLEEP. Oh. The. Glory. Now? I’d give exactly anything for Gavin to interrupt my sleep. Heck, I’d be perfectly happy with that arrangement all the way until he turned 18. Where do I sign?

I’m only an hour from home, but it may as well be 4,000 for how lonely I feel. I tucked the boys in to bed, and I’ll likely be back home before they even wake up in the morning. Even so.

Hold them close. As hard as it is, the sleepless nights, the changes in your body, the new dynamic as husband and wife, the laundry, the messes, the MADNESS, it’s such a gift. Every bit of it.  I hope you NEVER have to learn first hand just what a BEAUTIFUL gift it really is.

Yes, I’d love to be home. In my husband’s arms, with a bed wetting toddler in the room next door. But yet, here I am. All alone. Wishing to be anywhere but here. Anything but this. But on the other side of all that pain, I’m so happy to be doing this. So willing to be making this TINY little sacrifice of time and emotional energy.

. . . Because babies are still dying. And every time one does, I think, “AREN’T YOU PEOPLE LISTENING?!”

I don’t know how to make my voice loud enough. I don’t know how to say this all in the right way, in the way that will STICK. In the way that will inspire ACTION. So I’ll just keep on saying it, over and over and over again. Hoping and praying that the right people hear.

4:45 am call time over at ABC. Time to tuck myself in. Wish you were here Rich. Love you millions.

Good night, all.

xo,

N

PS. The title of this post is mostly for me. . . we sang a song in church today. . . one of my very favorites. One of the lines is “the blessings of God on our labors we’ll seek,” and I suppose that’s what I’m doing. . . my very best. Seeking His blessings along the way. Knowing I’m not enough on my own. Knowing I can’t make a dent in this big bad world all by my broken little self. Praying that HE hears my voice and somehow amplifies it in ways that only He can.

POST EDITED TO INCLUDE: 5:35 am. I did the interview for the 5:00 hour. It was by FAR the worst interview I’ve ever done. I felt so blindsided and unprepared. There was a breach in communication as to my expectations and what actually happened at ABC this morning. Then. . . my story was bumped from the 6:00 hour because of breaking news of a house, car, apartment fire in the area. That’s show biz, baby. But here I am, back in this lonely hotel room. Quite certain that I am the reason the story was bumped and that the fire was the cover. Bleh. Anybody have a time machine? I’m ready to go back to my real life. . . where babies are healthy, and mommie’s are frazzled because of being up all night, not because they woke up at the crack of dawn to botch morning show interviews at ABC.

Dates:

Oahu: June 4 – July 7

Maui: July 9-13

Details:

I only have space for just a few more photo sessions. I would LOVE for one of those sessions to be YOU.

Sessions are booked FIRST COME, FIRST SERVED! In fairness to all, no sessions will be held on good faith. A 50% non refundable retainer is required to reserve your space.

Email me at aloha{at}natalienortonblog{dot}com (or just fill out the contact form above) for pricing/package information and to reserve your date!

Can’t wait to make magic together in June/July . . . because this should be YOU!

Apr 30, 2012 | posted in maternity photography | 14 comments

So happy to share part II of Jenna’s maternity session (catch part I, here).

I first met Brian and Jenna when I shot their engagement photos in Hawaii a couple of years ago. I had thought their love and commitment to each other was strong then. . . there are no words for what it has become. This baby will likely never fully understand just how lucky he is. His parents are crazy about each other. What a blessing that is. What.a.blessing.that.is.

Enjoy.

(Keep those fingers crossed that Brian makes it home in time for the birth! Oh, I’m praying with all of me!)

I’m not sure just what it is about these next two images, but GOSH they make me wild. In.love.