"Nie", is pretty much how I think of Stephanie Nielson of the NieNie Dialogues. I recently gobbled up her memoir, Heaven is Here. I enjoyed it so much and it meant so much to me that I felt it needed a post of its own.
Nie's life inspired me at a critical juncture four years ago. I had been struggling for a long time with my (intense) desire to have children. I was afraid it was never going to happen. Each birthday felt like doomsday with self-imposed deadlines passing and the ticking of clocks.
When I stumbled on Nie's blog, I felt envious of her in a visceral way. She was young, beautiful, stylish, radiantly happy, with an already blossoming family of four. She pretty much defined joie de vivre. She was everything I wished I was and wasn't. I was about to turn 34 (a year away from the dreaded 35) and pretty miserable.
But around this time things were changing in my heart, and Nie's story - the awful plane crash, the life-threatening burns, that seemed to bring her storybook life crashing down too -was part of that. The message I received that changed my life, was that everyone has their own gifts and blessings and their own challenges and struggles - each is a completely unique package - and our job is not to question, fight it, wish we had what "they" had - our job is merely to accept what we have - good and bad - and make the best of it we possibly can.
As soon as I made that turn, to accept, to look for the good, to make the best of it, my burden lifted and my life became better. It's not as if I didn't still feel the pain of my situation - I did - but I didn't feel like a victim anymore, sitting around saying woe is me. I became proactive, trying to make MY life the best it could be, instead of wishing I had someone else's.
That led me down a path of dreaming again, about things besides being a mom. I started my own blog. I started writing fiction. I started painting my nails crazy colors. I started trying new things. I took that trip to Paris I'd always dreamed of. Three years later, I was pleasantly surprised to be pregnant. But those three years in between were much more enjoyable than they would have been if I wouldn't have changed my frame of reference.
Since that time, Nie has continued to be an inspiration. I've followed closely, watching her heal and fight and grow through such a crazy experience. Oddly, our lives had a certain convergence, as after the crash, the one thing she seemed to long for was to have another child. She announced her pregnancy about a month after I did mine! It's been fun to share her joy in her new baby Lottie (such a cute name!).
In her memoir she reveals the inside story on what she went through and she's brutally honest. She lost so much and faced a decision herself - whether to give up on life and despair or to choose to fight for joy again.
After reading it, I spent time browsing back through the archives of her blog, reminded of the colorful, spirited style I had loved so much. And now is where it touches me again. Because since Will was born, I'd been questioning whether I wanted to keep blogging and if so, what kind of blog to have. I was afraid of becoming a "mommy blogger", losing readers (umm, not that I have a ton anyway), of losing some dimension of myself, of being boring, etc.
But looking back over those archives, I was reminded how much I had loved reading the NieNie Dialogues, even when they were silly or simple posts, or posts with inside jokes and family references. She's so inspiring as a mom - the way she tries to make everyday special for her kids - and the way she tries to laugh at the hard moments too. And it inspired me AGAIN - to just blog for myself, to capture little moments in my day and my life - and if other people are bored, oh freaking well. I'm not here to host a magazine or "keep" readers. I'm here to be genuinely me, wherever that leads.
So, here we go! Thanks again, Nie!