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A rant a long time coming....

OK. Here's the deal:

1. I have an IQ that is nearly off the charts. Literally. Does that make me smart? NO. You can have an IQ of 170 and be stupider than a case of bricks (case in point: my use of the word stupider and my ability to convince myself that SHAIRS should be an acceptable scrabble word). What does it mean? That I have a unique ability that allows me to Learn more quickly and easier than most average joes. I've learned how to learn. I've chosen to use that talent that God's given me and I do learn a lot. About anything in front of me or what fascinates me. Also, because of my life, I've been afforded many unique opportunities to learn. Because of that, I seem to have a huge expanse of knowledge at my disposal about the most odd topics, and if I don't have it, I can guarantee I'll get it rather quickly.

2. I have had more emotional trauma than most anyone should have to over the course of my life. Are the people who've had it worse than me? Yes. Many of them. BUT that doesn't change the fact that shit was bad and happened. I could either deal, or not. Grow and learn or avoid and stagnate. I chose to learn. Grow. Why did it happen? How did it happen? What did I have control over? What didn't I have control over? How did it affect me then, now and possibly in the future? Doing so allows me to walk away from things without the typical lasting trauma and evidence that most people have. I can still love, accept, trust, try, experiment and enjoy without hesitation. But only because I went through the questions, the process. And trust me, it wasn't easy and I had a lot of help. Gotta love therapy.

3. I've moved more than 45 times in my life. I've lived in a foreign non-english speaking country for over 6 years. I've traveled more than most Americans (not all, but most). This has afforded me a more indepth look at not only other cultures but my own.

4. Therapy. I adore therapy. Through the course of all of the above I've become an effective communicator. I don't manipulate, I don't hint, I don't hesitate, I don't feel embarassed or ashamed typically, I can tell you what I did, why I did it, how I felt while doing it, and what I expected out of it. I can firmly say I was wrong quickly and without a lot of discussion to prove it to me. (Hence why people sometimes don't remember it happening - something's said, I recognize, acknowledge and apologize, but it's soon forgotten because it's usually the fight that's remembered - no fight, no memory of Nikki being wrong). When I am wrong, I immediately plan on how to make said mistake again which means I don't make many mistakes twice.

But you know what pisses me off?

1. I'm sorry that I typically am right. No, I don't think I'm right - I actively work to make less mistakes than most. I don't make the same mistake twice. So statistically, I will be wrong less often than a majority of people. That is not a fault. If you can't deal with me not being wrong very often, maybe you should try to not make the same mistakes over and over - then you could be right all the time too. (And no, never admitting your faults is not the same thing - you are still making mistakes, you're just living in denial of them - hence the all important step of admittiing faults without connecting reasoning or justification for them.) The healthiest process is: 1. mess up 2. Say "I messed up" (no buts there) 3. Understand why you messed up 4. Say "I'm sorry I messed up" (again no qualifiers) 5. Commit to a way to have it not happen again 6. Move on and try to meet your commitment. If the mistake is made again, forgive yourself, but pay closer attention this time to steps 3, 4 and 5. I'm pretty damn good at that process, and I'm pretty good at forgiving anyone who tries (no ones perfect) the same process. I'm not very tolerant of anyone though that's not willing to self evaluate, makes ten zillion qualifiers of why what the did was ok, attaches an I'm sorry, BUT to it and then makes the same mistake again, expecting you to forgive over and over again, with no attempt to circumvent the issues, and then just give in to them so that they can be right 50/50 whether or not anything is accomplished in doing so.

2. I'm sorry that I know more than most people in my presence about different topics at hand. No I'm not pulling this knowledge out of my butt, I really do know it. I never say things I'm not sure of. If I say it, you can be sure that I actually learned it somewhere and probably a reputable source. You can also be sure I've cross referenced and researched appropriately. Am I ever wrong? Of course. I can't remember how to spell shares apparently. But again, it happens less oftem because I've spent more time qualifying and understanding my knowledge. Also, you'll notice that if I don't know something (which still happens often - no one can know everything), I do not hesitate or feel bad saying, "I don't know". I'm not sure why people have such a hard time saying that. With that there is no need to continually doubt me, at least not on topics YOU have no knowledge about. If you don't know about Turtles, and I happen to be telling you what I know about turtles, feel free to ask questions in the course of the discussion - do not however say that you don't think I know what I'm talking about if you don't have any knowledge to back that statement up with. If you know something, please tell me - I want to learn. But don't tell me I'm wrong when you don't know just because you don't like that I know something you don't. SO, if you are intimidated by my knowledge - that's your problem. Either learn more or just be ok with the fact that I know more than you. I won't ever put anyone down for knowing less than I do, don't put me down for knowing more. Do feel free to tell me I make your brain hurt and you'd like to not have to think for a little while. That is an acceptable comment.

3. I'm sorry that I'm in a constant state of self analyzation on most days (there are days when I just don't, but those are few and far between). Being that way means that I am better for those around me. You know all those things people compliment me on? "You are so confident, you are so strong, you've endured and recovered so much, you are so successful, you communicate so well, you are so self aware, you are blah blah blah". Well, harsh reality - I wouldn't be ALL of things if I didn't constantly understand, take responsibility and try to improve myself. You got a problem with me overanalyzing? Well pointing out my faults and where I need to make everything better is not a good way to get me to stop analyzing. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You know the worst? Being stuck around people who don't self analyze at all. So you get stuck making up for yourself and everyone around you. That gets old real fast. If you don't like that I'm always trying to improve myself and the world around me, you've got two choices: don't be around me, or try improving yourself more.

No, telling me people are "just different" is not accurate or profitable. Yes, personalities are different, but don't cover up flaws by saying "different". And don't justify innaction by saying "I don't know why or how" - that's because you've never tried to figure it out. That's NOT my fault. Nor is it "just ok". It's a deficiency in your personality if you are unwilling to work to improve your flaws and faults. Do I expect people to be perfect? HEll no. I'M NOT PERFECT. I do expect people to try their damndest to do better. And there are ways to improve doing better. Just saying "Im trying" without a moment of self analyzation is NOT trying. It's putting your head in the sand and hoping everyone around you either stops caring that you are xyz, make up for you being xyz or the magic dificiency fairy to come make it better in the middle of the night. You know what's the worst? People who are so afraid to look within themselves that they don't even realize or acknowledge the flaw. "I'm a jealous MFer. Maybe that will change someday, but for now it's just what I am. Do I know why I am that way? What does that matter? Do I know ways to make me less jealous, either done by me or you? If I'm going to be jealous, I'm just going to be jealous, what do you mean, ways to not be jealous? There's nothing wrong with that behaviour - it's just how I am and I'm different than you."

Dude seriously, I already spend my life being more accomodating, forgiving, understanding and just plain nice to people who I don't owe that to. I do it because there are days when I need some understanding from people and I like to pay it forward.

But don't look at me when I'm saying, "are there ways that I can help you address this issue" when it's NOT my job to fix it and then say, "don't over analyze. Just deal with it. Or my favorite: WTF are you talking about".

Fine. I'll never kindly prompt you into thought. I'll never offer to change my behaviours to help accomodate your faults. I'll never gently give you correct knowledge when you are perpetuating false information.

From now on, I'll just stop talking. If you have a fault, I'll point it out (I'm guessing not in the nicest way), tell you to deal with it or (insert ultimatum) and then leave you to figure out how to do so on your own (oh btw - I'll be less forgiving probably) and if you are talking out your ass, I'll probably lay out your cards and remind you your a dumbass.

You know what gets me? The people who do the second scenario there want to tell me that that makes for just as a successful relationship as scenario 1.

I'm sorry, but to know me is to know that I am unusual, exceptional, and nothing like anyone you've ever known. My brain never stops and you need to be ok with that if you are with me. I'm a unique beast in that most people who think as much as I do are bitter, stressed and anxious. I'm not. Recognize that and appreciate it. See that all of those things are facts that will lead to a more satisfying relationship for you - because I will always work to be better about anything you raise to me. You also need to be willing to look at yourself, take responsibility and work to improve or you will quickly be frustrated at how often we revisit the same issues and how I will stop being so accomodating if I don't get it in return.

I'm sorry, but I won't apologize or stoop to your unwillingness to get better, to improve, to grow. Go find someone else to be stagnate with.

Oh wait. I'm not sorry - you are.

9/11. This date impacts all of us in some way or another. We all remember where we were 5 years ago, we all remember the feelings we had as we watched the plane strike the second tower; as we slowly realized exactly what that meant. It's an image that I certainly will never forget and one I don't care to relive as the media attempts to make me do so. My memory is enough, thank you.

As I logged in this morning, the news, the blogs, the conversations all seem to revolve around that event. Where were you? What did you do? Did you loose anyone? How did you feel?

I too can tell you at length the horror, the fear, the emotion of that time for me. But I won't. I have a different message for you today.

The message of my choice. The message of hope, faith, of change.

Most of you know about the things I was afforded as a child to see and witness. I wrote about some of them here. For many people, 9/11 was their first glimpse into the horrors that take place outside of America. For them 9/11 was more disturbing not only for the devastation and lives lost, but because it was the first time their naive sense of security was breached. A reminder that yes, even in America, we are not always safe. For me though, I've always known that there is no safe place. I've been afforded a glimpse into what other cultures have faced over time and currently.

I was reminded of something different, and it didn't come on 9/11... it came a year later, when I actually visited Ground Zero.

When I was 15, I made my first trip to Dachau. You can read about the horrific lives and deaths of over 230,000 here. I walked out onto the role call clearing and stood in the place that so many had stood before and I remember distinctly the silence of that place. In the middle of a bustling city, this place was silent. As I stood there, imagining what those souls saw, felt, thought I looked around - straining to hear what they heard and I realized.... there just wasn't anything to hear for me. It was like the moment I walked through those gates, everything outside of that place ceased to exist. There weren't even any birds to be heard - almost as though they flew around this horrific place.

That was the impression I was left with - that for each of those souls, life stopped in that yard, in that place. And the horror to which it did. But when did it stop? I'm sure for each person, life ended differently. For some it was at their physical death, but more importantly, when did their soul die? Their hope? When did they lose faith. Because at the heart of it, what use are our physical lives, if we've lost hope? When the spirit dies, that is the true sorrow, the true horror.

I spent several years after that studying the process and impact of Nazi Germany. All of the world renowned scholars I had the opportunity to study with all left me with the same impression. As horrific as the human losses experienced by those oppressed by the regime, that loss was merely a step in the bigger goal. The demoralization and destruction of spirit that was desired. When a people stops hoping, trying... that is when true war is won.

That was what I remembered today when I read an entry made by a dear friend of mine (among many others with similar messages). It was post full of fear, regret, what ifs and defeat. THAT breaks my heart. What success a terrorist must have everytime someone is taken back to those moments - reliving the horror, the heartbreak. When such memories obsess our minds and souls and keep us from moving forward, keeping us from doing some thing or going some place. THAT is their success, more than any number of lives lost on 9/11/01. Their success on that day was miniscule to the success achieved evertime another life is kept from it's hope, it's potential, it's living.

The day I visited Ground Zero, I found it eerie in similarities to Dachau. As I stood on the observation deck, I noticed - no birds flying. The deafening stillness of that place hits you like a wall. You start desparately looking for life anywhere to just avoid the reality. The stillness, the solitude is a stark reminder of the sheer horror of what occurred there.

And then you open your eyes, and you hear it, the city. Bustling, moving, loud and cacophonous. The sirens, the people, the sound. No, this place is not stopped. This life goes on. You notice the people walking by, who walk the same street everyday and seemingly have forgotten, moved on, ignored this atrocity.

But have they? I don't believe so. I just feel that they've realized an important lesson that we, the visitor, may not have. This life goes on. You get up each day, placing one foot in front of the other not forgetting on what has happened, but focusing on what will happen.

I think of the people that died that day... those in the towers, on the ground, in the plane, even those commanding and executing the attacks. What did they feel? What did they think? What obsessed them in those last moments? Were they at peace, were they searching for a meaning, terrified at the prospect, or driven to avoid what lie in front of them? Were they, in those last moments, thinking of the what-ifs?

What a brutal reminder that our lives could end at any moment - that the lives of someone we love could end at any moment. That the lives of someone we hate could end at any moment.

In that moment, what would be your last thought? Could you be at peace? Would you know that those in your life knew you loved them? Would they understand what they meant to you? Would you regret any thing that you had the power to change? Would you know you had left a good impact on this world or would you feel sadness at your lack of impact, lack of contribution? Would you be secure in knowing what comes next?

So many things are beyond our control. If given a thought, the what-ifs of things we CAN'T control can quickly take over our thoughts. But there is one thing you CAN control. YOUR life. YOUR choices. You can control what you do now that will be your last thoughts then, no matter when then happens. Your peace in those moments, your joy at a life well lived and not wasted will be a success greater than any terrorist, devastation, or accident will ever have.

There is enough horror in this world to obsess you. So today, as the horror threatens to posess your thoughts, choose instead to turn that fear into purpose.

Make an impact. Contribute to the positive life force around you. Leave a mark. Leave love to all that cross your path.

Leave Life.

Your life is a gift. More precious and full of promise than any other in this world. Take it and use it today. So that no matter what comes tomorrow or the next, you can find peace, not fear.

And just to remind myself, I include my life goals as outlined on my thirtieth birthday:

1. Recognize that the keys are in God's hands.
2. Love everyone as if it is the last moment I have with them.
3. Value life.
4. Crave experience and learning.
5. Utilize the gifts God has given me.
6. Continue to look for the good in people.
7. Give love freely and with no expectation or confinement.
8. Be responsible.
9. Be a role model
10. Be true to myself.
11. Embrace imperfections.
12. Accept friendship.

13. Wake up each day and ask myself, "What can I do today to appreciate all that God has given me? Run headfirst into this world God has set forth before me and let my children see what it truly means to live. What it truly means to love."


People ask me sometimes why I am the way I am about American foreign policy. Why I feel the way I do about who we are and what we stand for. Why I can so strongly defend America's right to be a complete big bully sometimes. Why I get misty eyed everytime I talk about how blessed I am to be born here. Let me give you a glimse:

My father has spent his entire life sacrificing for this country. Alongside him was his family. He started his military career as a grunt, and finished his career in military intelligence. He speaks 13 languages and still works for the NSA. He was absent most of my childhood. Even with 25 moves and 18 schools by the time I turned 18, he was gone for indefinite periods of time to indetermined places.

I remember when Desert Storm first started. We were in Ohio, waiting to join him in Germany when we got the call... "I'm no longer in Germany, I can't tell you where I am or when I'll be back, but I'll let you know when I can." We knew where he was, kind of, and trust me, YOU try not knowing if the most important person in the world to you is alive or dead.

My father has had issues with several different leaders (including our current administration) but always behaved in a way of a respectable soldier. He understands that one must show respect for the American system of democracy by showing respect to the leaders that system has elected. There is a fine line between expressing your opinions and free speech and disrespecting the very system which gives you that right.

In our family, the flag stands for something. Our anthem has meaning. Each person has responsibilities. Every generation of my family has sacrificed their time, freedom and safety. They basically gave up every right that they were ensuring you and I could have.

Go back a few years for me. Because of my father's profession, I was afforded the opportunity to see and experience things most American's weren't.

When I was 8, my father was a russian linguist, stationed in West Berlin (yes, before the wall came down). We lived behind the wall for three years. Each morning and each evening, the tanks would drive up and down the street in front of my apartment, rumbling the earth, shaking our buildings, reminding us that although we weren't at war, we were in a war time situation. My bus would pick me up in the morning with a jeep in front and a jeep in rear, both with machine guns. EVERY DAY, we had a bomb scare, that would force evaluation of the school until it was cleared. In the third grade. I remember the day our soldiers died in a night club bombing in Berlin. I remember it well - terrorism of the worst kind in your own city.

I remember the wall. I remember no man's land. I remember my father pointing out the towers and explaining to me that each one had two russian soldiers, trained to shoot anyone who tried to cross. And if the one who saw you refused to kill you? Then his comrade would turn his weapon on him. I remember one of my mother's friends telling me the story of her escape from the East in her heavy german accent. How her hands shook as she poured my tea as she recalled watching, at the tender age of 7, as all 5 of her family members were shot crossing that no man's land. How she watched her mother die, screaming for her to keep running, how she got to the other side, turned around and realized she was alone. How she waited for one of her brothers or sisters to make it across for hours before someone found her and assured her that they did not make it.

I remember at 9 the supreme impact that story had (and still has) on me. What was it like on the other side that a mother would risk her entire family's lives to escape from? What did I have here on my side worth that risk?

We visited the memorial museum at the wall. It regaled stories of grand escapes, so many of them failed. What people were willing to do, to risk, for just a moment, a taste, a hope of what I've had my entire life.

The people of the East were impoverished, hungry, poor, in a city that was not rebuilt after the war, in a land where they had no voice. And yet that isn't near what people in other countries suffer through. And yet, it was enough to run from, to risk death to just breath free air.

I saw the older generation of Germans who were so respectful of my father; not out of fear, but out of genuine gratefulness. I saw a younger generation that spited our occupancy, not realized the tyranny we saved them from, the rebuild we contributed to of their beloved country, the democracy that we helped refoot in an uncertain Europe. Or even the quiet step back we took when it was their turn and right to take over.

I sat across the table from Helmut Kohl, then Chancellor of Germany and spoke of the rebuilding of his country. He spoke of the example America has set for him and the impact we've had on the world, his world, our world.

I saw an influx of immigrants when the borders fell in Eastern Europe in the early nineties. I saw them rush to the military bases because it was there that they knew they would receive help. The Americans that would protect and give. Because we stood for freedom. Food and shelter. That was their idea of freedom. What does that say about where they came from? When food and shelter is all the encouragement you need to leave your homeland.

I saw a Romanian woman cry because our bus ran over her chicken - a whole week's meals for her family. I saw her husband beat her on the side of the road because of her carelessness. I saw children in an orphanage who's limbs had just been cut off because there was no other way to deal with disease or injury. I saw gypsy children shunned and starving because of who they had been born to.

I stood on the cobblestones of Dachau, listening to the deafening silence that occurs in that one place in the middle of a bustling city. Did you know no birds fly there? I touched the scratches left in the concrete of the gassing rooms where people tried to dig their way to life giving air.

I walk down the street, or open my LJ and hear some other American complaining about their right to burn the flag, or read a top secret document, or not have to be in the Army, or to pee on the side of the road, and THESE are the images that come to mind.

I realize what everyone else in the world is willing to do just to spend one moment in my shoes. To know what it's like to breath my air. And they are willing to give everything they have or have ever known to do so. And it's not for the freedom to burn the flag, it's for the freedom to speak their mind (vote), to earn a living (work) or to buy and sell the things they need (eat).

What a sad state we Americans would be in if we had to sacrifice anything for these simple freedoms we are afforded by birth (vote/work/eat). In fact most Americans waste their right to work in favor of spending their time screaming about our need for more rights.

Even as a woman, I am so grateful for the leg up I have in the rights game by being American. I've seen what being a woman is like in other countries, thank you, I'll take my fight to climb the corporate ladder anyday.

Am I saying that we shouldn't fight to perfect America? NO. I'm just saying you can continue that fight without being a bunch of ungrateful lazy assholes.

I've seen bad governments. I've seen torture, hunger, human rights violations at their core. I've seen hatred and bigotry, suffering and pain. I've seen the people running from those places and they always run one way - here. So no, America is not like those places. The small atrocities that we may commit will never compare and should never be compared. Because we don't live in a Utopia. When you are dealing with monsters, sometimes you have to act like a monster. And in the end, the fact that we are still where people run to says that those small monstrosities are nothing compared to the grand monstrosities. And frankly, if the choice is act bad occasionally in order to ensure that we can have these freedoms that people so desperately seek, then that is what has to be done.

We are who we are and we have been the same for our history. All I have to do is see those images of what people are willing to do to be me to realize what I have. I will eternally be grateful for the sacrifices made on my behalf, both by Americans, by Allies and by Enemies. I will always realize that it takes continued sacrifice on all parts for those things to be ensured in the future.

Nicole's Story

This entry has been requested of me by several people for several different reasons. It is both a birth story and an adoption story and as much as I tried to separate the two out, it truly is impossible. But I did break it into sections so that if you are only interested in the Birth Story, or the Adoption Info, you can read only what you are interested in.

It is long and I apologize, but it was as much a therapeutic exercise for me as it was an answer to a request. I have never sat down and written or told this story to ANYONE beginning to end.

I found some wounds in telling it that had long since been covered up. So to you who promted this, thank you. Because only in embracing the pain can I truly work through it.

ConceptionCollapse )

PregnancyCollapse )

Adoption ProcessCollapse )

The BirthCollapse )

Hospital StayCollapse )

The Day I Said GoodbyeCollapse )

The AftermathCollapse )

This is my story. Good, bad, ugly, beautiful? All of the above. What is the most important? I don’t know, except that it is my own.

Nicoles Song:
I said, "Hello I think I'm broken."
And though I was only jokin'
It took me by surprise when you agreed.
I was tryin to be clever
But for the life of me I never
Would have guessed how far the simple truth would lead.
You knew all my lines. You knew all my tricks.
You knew how to heal that pain no medicine can fix.

Looking back it's still surprising
I was sinking, you were rising.
With a look you caught me in mid-air.
Now I know God has his reasons.
But sometimes it's hard to see them.
I lie awake and find that you're not there.

You found hope in hopeless.
You made crazy sane.
You became the missing link that helped me to break my chains.

And I bless the day I met you.
And I thank God that he let you
Lay beside me for a moment that lives on.
And the good news is I'm better for the time we spent together.
And the bad news is you're gone.

I Want To Be Running...

When the Sand Runs Out, Rascal FlattsCollapse )

30. There were moments that I never thought this day would come. It has represented so much for me; especially in the last several months. My mom and I had a long discussion tonight about what it means to be 30; what it meant to her. I'm realizing that where she was at 30 is so very similar to where I am now.

The last 10 years have been hard. So very hard. I've said many times I couldn't wait for my thirties and people can't believe it. They always say, "but you had your kids in your 20s, you got married, wasn't all that good?" And although those were good THINGS, they happened during such hard TIMES. Hard times because I made them that way. Trying to learn how to get through this life, guided only by hardheadedness and pride; being given humility at every turn. We spend our entire life learning, but the lessons of the last ten years have been especially hard.

1. I give control over my life. If someone in my life controls me, it is because I allow them to. If someone's opinion controls me, it is because I allow it to. I may try to control me, but rarely do I do a good job of it. Only God can truly guide me. I must give the control to him.

2. God made me for a purpose and no matter what I do or how I deviate from the path he desires for me, he will still be able to use me for that purpose.

3. I am not defined by my actions. I am defined by my intent. Change the intentions and the behavior will follow.

4. Responsibility is an honor. It is given to those who can handle it with the respect it deserves. It is taken from those that would squander it's value.

5. No one in this world owes me anything. I owe no one else anything. Any time, effort or gift that is given is precisely that, a gift. I should value it as such. I should give of myself freely as gifts to those around me. It should never be expected by or of me. Gratefulness should be the second most abundent attribute in my personality; giving the first.

6. I am who I am. God made me that way with his divine purpose in mind, shortcomings and all. If I spend my time trying to be something that I am not, I do nothing but decieve those around me. I am robbing them from the opportunity to know me as God intended and robbing myself of the opportunity to truly know friendship, acceptance and understanding. It is ok to NOT be perfect. IMPERFECTION IS BEAUTIFUL.

A friend said to me tonight, "Nikki, we love you for who you are, not for who we want you to be."

So, with these lessons securely under my belt, I embark on a whole new journey. I vow to:

1. Recognize that the keys are in God's hands.
2. Love everyone as if it is the last moment I have with them.
3. Value life.
4. Crave experience and learning.
5. Utilize the gifts God has given me.
6. Continue to look for the good in people.
7. Give love freely and with no expectation or confinement.
8. Be responsible.
9. Be a role model
10. Be true to myself.
11. Embrace imperfections.
12. Accept friendship.

13. Wake up each day and ask myself, "What can I do today to appreciate all that God has given me? Run headfirst into this world God has set forth before me and let my children see what it truly means to live. What it truly means to love."