good life – by natalie norton
Part of cultivating a good life is learning to be comfortable being uncomfortable.
I recently overheard the following conversation:
Husband: “It says here, ‘Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.’ Well, I must really be living because I’m uncomfortable pretty much all the time!”
Wife (in a hilariously sweet little sing song voice): “Oh, honey. That’s because your comfort zone is about the size of a postage stamp.”
After enjoying a good chuckle, I found myself contemplating the concept of “discomfort” for quite some time. Particularly, I found myself thinking about where discomfort fits within the parameters of living a happy, purpose-driven life.
When I was a kid, I remember entertaining a deep, abiding belief that as I got older, life would simply get easier. Let me be clear, I enjoyed a charmed, beautiful childhood in almost every way. But . . . I was bullied horribly in elementary school and into my early middle school years. It was deeply painful and I was incredibly lonely. Yet, as I mentioned above, I sincerely believed that as I got older, life would get better.
Then. . . well . . . then I got older. And yes, the bullying stopped, but I found myself silently battling horrible body image issues and patterns of disordered eating (that followed me all the way through my middle school and high school years). I ached, on a cellular level. My self-loathing was intense, and at times, it felt nearly unbearable. But yet again, I believed, wholeheartedly, that once I was skinny, then I’d be happy.
Over the years, I’ve found that life is filled with a nearly endless string of challenges, trials and “discomforts.” I learned that waiting for challenges to pass me by before I allowed myself to enjoy happiness, peace, love, fulfillment, and/or anything beautiful was simply no way to live.
Then, when I was 25 years old, I unexpectedly lost my only sibling, my sweet brother . . . my dearest friend. When my son became terminally ill only two short years later, I couldn’t imagine losing him as well. And yet, on a bitter January night in 2010, I held that little angel in my arms, sang him a lullaby, and handed him over to heaven’s loving care.
I don’t share these life experiences from a “woe is me” heart space. On the contrary. It is my hope to illustrate through the only experience I can rely confidently upon—my own—the danger we face if we are postponing our happiness for an elusive time of tranquility and ease because chances are good that that time will never come. And darlings, that’s ok. Being uncomfortable is an inherent part of human existence, and it’s not going anywhere. Ever. But that shouldn’t discourage or frighten you! The knowledge should be empowering! Think about it! This puts YOU at the helm of your own life. You can be happy no matter what, when, or how because happiness isn’t something you have to wait around for; it’s something you have the power to go out and find.
One of my favorite quotes on this planet comes from concentration camp survivor, Dr. Viktor Frankyl: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Each of us struggles, each of us faces setbacks, each of us goes through periods of soul-rattling pain and disappointment. And to each of you, I offer my most heartfelt, “namaste” and my deepest expression of love and sympathy. And again, I want you to remember that it’s OK. It’s life. The universe isn’t singling you out and picking on you. You’re not bad or weak or broken. You’re human, and as such, I firmly believe that you are meant to be happy—not if and when _________ finally comes to fruition in your life, but always and forever, no matter what. Not after you’ve weathered the storm, but by making the conscious decision to dance along through the life-giving rain.
Note from Becky
I actually learned about Natalie right after her sweet baby returned to his heavenly home. I was obviously heartbroken for her and her husband and their family and found her strength to be quite astonishingly beautiful. I continued following Natalie’s journey on social media and it wasn’t long after that I was in a workshop that Natalie conducted near my hometown. This is where I really got to know her heart and soul. And wow. This girl. She is truly one of a kind. We had the privilege of Natalie photographing our little family a few years ago. And we’ve been friends ever since. She is a genuinely inspiring woman with a heart full of so much love and because of her, this world really is a better place.
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