Pocket Scrapbooking with Project Life

Cultivate a good life and record it.



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.

Connect with Natalie  ::  Instagram


15 Responses

  1. Gale V Cardenas says:

    I struggle with this on a daily basis. I have to stop asking why things happen to me… I should just think that “this too shall pass.” Thank you for sharing!

  2. Audrey V says:

    Wow, this is so powerful, I will be thinking about it a lot, I really think that there is a message here that I need to hear. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Jennie M says:

    Thank you so much for this message Natalie, it really touched me. Thank you!!!

  4. Kelly Haskey says:

    Wow this totally hit home with me. I am really having a hard time with life right now and feel like I am being punished. Thank you for sharing. Sometimes we feel like we are the only ones having a hard time. Others seem to have it all but we never know whats happening behind their doors. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Holly says:

    Thanks Natalie for the post. I find myself reading your posts wherever I may find them. This one truly helped me this morning after a LONG weekend on-call at the hospital, moving homes (and still unpacking boxes), and preparing to get my kids back today from their dad. This post, like many of yours offered the perfect intent for the start of my week.

  6. Desiree says:

    Thank you Natalie for the timely reminder. We are responsible for our own happiness and for making it happen. Depending on an event or person to make us happy is a sad way to live and I don’t want to be sad any more.

  7. Leslie S. says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. I think all of us feel like the world is against us at one time or another. It’s how we deal with our struggles that matters most. Thanks for reminding me of that.

  8. Susan says:

    Just wow. I am finding it difficult to adequately express how impressed I am. Please know that what you shared has a profound affect. Thank you.

  9. Kay Curlee says:

    Beautifully written and full of hope.

  10. This is a beautiful post. Natalie is an amazing lady, partly because she keeps going, amidst all the chaos, heartache and disappointment of life. Thank you for sharing!

  11. ana roat says:

    This has got to be one of the most beautiful pieces of work I have ever read! Namaste to you too Natalie!

  12. Amy Myers says:

    This is a truly beautiful message. Thank you so very much.

  13. Amy says:

    I find Natalie to be the most amazing inspiration. I blog stalked her for years ;) and I search for her words constantly. She has an eloquent way with life. She is stunning and someday, I hope she can capture my families memories with her everyday zest for life.

  14. Jill says:

    You truly have a gift Natalie! I’m so thankful you share YOU and what’s in that beautiful mind of yours!

  15. Brooke says:

    Thank you for sharing. So beautiful and so true.