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good life with natalie hill jensen

Becky Higgins - Good Life with Natalie Jensen

Part of cultivating a good life is surrounding ourselves with people who may not be exactly the same as us.

Of all of the beautiful things that make my life complete, the diversity of my friendships is among my choicest prizes. 

My father taught me one of the most influential lessons of my life when he was installing me in my summer program at Yale when I was 17. It was a Sunday, and one of my new classmates popped into my all stone, dark, and highly-gothic dorm room to invite me to dinner. Being a good Mormon girl from Utah, I politely declined and told my new friend that “because it was Sunday (our Sabbath), I would be staying in my room alone.” I felt at the time that this act of heroism would greatly impress my father. I was leading by example. What a staunch and dedicated daughter! Immediately he stepped in, “No, Natalie would LOVE to join you! Where and when?”

I was confused.

When my classmate left, my dad lovingly taught me that I would do more to spread a gospel of love and inclusion by immersing myself in loving the people surrounding me rather than piously sitting in my figurative (and very literal) tower alone. Also, I didn’t have any food… so there’s that.

I made many life-long relationships that summer at Yale and learned to love so many people with whom I have very little in common. I love to meet new people and learn about their lives. My standards haven’t changed. I still live true to my core belief system, but my empathy has grown, my heart has expanded, and my circle of friends has expanded into a vast universe of glittering personalities and enriched my life through incredible shared experiences and stories.

From that moment on, “I’LL DO ME, YOU DO YOU” became one of my life mottos. I do not hold the people in my world to the same standard of living with which I hold myself. I try to love without judgment and without attempting to “change” others or convince them that my way of living is the “right” way of living. I just love and listen. From a career on Broadway and 16 years in NYC, I have collected friends from polygamists to playmates, from television and Broadway stars to Mormon housewives. Each personality and story is a jewel I treasure and from whom I have learned much.

I was recently told that “people” are my sport. I agree. Play on!

note from becky

Ahhhhhh! Natalie! We love Natalie. Now, I haven’t known her very long at all. In fact, the first time I heard of her (and the first time she heard of me) was when we both showed up to the same very small, very powerful, very uplifting event called “Women of Light” this past September. The first time she opened her mouth she exuded confidence in the most beautiful way. We sat together a couple times, exchanged a few comments, and genuinely connected through our shared experience even though we really didn’t speak a whole lot. It was just weeks later that our team was in Utah for the Pinners Conference and Natalie came marching over to our booth. Lots of hugs were exchanged and we all just chatted and chatted and chatted. So we’re pretty much best friends now.  ; )

For real — this girl is LIGHT. She is a shining example of cultivating a good life through diversity in relationships and I love her for that. Her message is so very awesome, and it’s our honor to have her share that. I’ll do me. You do you. YES!

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3 Responses

  1. Heather says:

    I would love to take what your father said and give it to so many in our shared religion. I struggle when I hear stories of children refusing to go to friend’s birthday parties on a Sunday. Certainly stopping by for a piece of cake and to give best wishes would be something I could see many church leaders doing.

    We teach that we need to date to stand alone. But we don’t have to be alone. We often can find much good and much in common with those who believe differently.

    Thanks for your words.

  2. Carrie Bentley says:

    More folks need this mindset.

  3. DJ Douglas says:

    Well written and wise. Natalie’s father did her a service beyond measure. Living in Utah, I’m well aware of the number of people that exclude others because of their faith. Unfortunate, because I am not LDS, but this attitude excludes me from knowing them as well as the other way around.