My name is Nicole, but my college and Internet friends know me as Nicki, my husband and sisters call me Nick, and I'm Mama to my two beautiful kids. Together, hubby and I have lived on three continents, and we currently reside in a small city outside metro Atlanta, Georgia.
I grew up in rural New York State, dreaming of the big world beyond the horizon. After college, I set out to discover it. In true Kerouacan fashion, I headed west to crash the party of life. After two years in Los Angeles working for Chiat/Day Advertising (creator of the Energizer Bunny campaigns), I was restless. I'd stand on the beach and look out over the Pacific, wondering what it would be like to interact with the world beyond that horizon. Too poor to realize any travel dreams launched from LA, I headed back east and lived with a sorority sister in Washington D.C. It took another two years, but I submitted my application for Peace Corps service, and it was approved. In 1994, I was stationed in the Central African Republic where I worked as a Community Health Extensionist.
I lived outside the U.S. for a total of seven and a half years, and during that time my life changed forever. Besides meeting my husband, I learned two foriegn languages (French and Sango) and acclimated to cultures that challenged my view of the world and my place in it. Today, I describe myself as a free-spirited woman, trying to live each day with arms wide open -- and most nights I go to bed content that I did.
I love to write lists (although I forget them on the kitchen counter when they consist of grocery items I mustn't forget to buy), so I thought I'd introduce myself to you in that format. The following are ten things that describe me. Here goes:
1. I LOVE my family~
After 14 years of marriage, Christian and I still love and laugh like when we first met. Our kids, Cody (age 11) and Sidney (age 9), fill my days with sunshine that dazzles my soul and warms my heart. I am truly blessed.
2. I'm a writer ~ I used to think I was overly dramatic, listening to my internal dialogue as I took in the world aound me. Riding the Metro back and forth to work, I'd pull scraps of paper out of my bag and sketch the characters I saw on the platform or sitting across the aisle from me. In the Peace Corps, I dealt with homesickness and culture shock by scribbling emotional entries in my journals. In 2007, I discovered http://www.writing.com/ and for the first time I wrote stories with an audience in mind. My life changed. I became an author, passionate about the craft. Now I write everyday, and I love it.
3. I crave a technicolor life ~ Bright hues lift my spirits, so I surround myself with them. Christian and I painted the boring beige interieur of our new house in vivid sunset shades and ocean blues. Even when we entertain, we eat on the oversized country table in the kitchen. The formal dining room is our family art studio furnished with easels and cabinets of painting and drawing supplies. I frame our artwork myself and hang them, splashes of our colors, on the walls. If money were no object, I'd have stained glass in all the rooms.
4. The gym is my sanity ~ Four to five times a week for the past eight years, I've met my best friend Lorri at the gym. We arrive early, unfluffed and bare-faced, and get our sweat on. Our workouts aren't for the faint-hearted. We start with cardio, usually a forty-five minute-long combination of jogs, hills and sprints. Next we hit the weights, often scaring and sometimes inspiring newbies in the room. Of course, we talk about food the entire time we're exercising. What we ate the day before, what we wished we hadn't, what we plan to eat later on... But more than that, we just talk. We've exercised our way through pregnancies, fights with our husbands, boob jobs, problems with friends and neighbors, fortieth birthdays, moving into new houses. We've cheered each other on through good times and encouraged each other over the rough patches. My body and spirit are stronger thanks to her.
5. No recipe scares me off ~ I learned to make a mean pot of (spaghetti) sauce when I was growing up. In Africa, I befriended women and children who taught me to prepare their country's dishes, cooked over three-rock fires out in the yard. But it was when I moved to France with my new husband and became my mother-in-law's star pupil that I really learned how to cook. Watch out Julia Child, you got nothin' on me!
6. Cake Artistry is one of my hobbies ~ My creative side fears no medium, including buttercream frosting. As soon as my kids were old enough to ask, I've been making their birthday cakes. I raise the bar each year, and here are the two most recent cakes I made.
I crafted the palm trees with pretzel logs and fondant, and the monkeys with Royal Icing. Only the zebras, lions and giraffes were not edible.
7. I read tarot cards ~ A reading doesn't predict the future in any traditional sense. The tarot's power lies in the fact that while I meditate on a question or quandary in my life, I'm drawn to certain cards. I fan them out face down, close my eyes, and choose the number of cards needed for the reading. As I turn each over, one at a time, reading the card's interpretations, it mirrors a quiet truth I hold in my heart. Sometimes the truth is so still I can't hear it, but when it resonates loudly in the days that follow, the card's meaning is revealed. It never fails to astound and inspire me. I also like to pull a card in the morning, to give focus to that day.
8. I have a word box ~ My mother has a small stained glass workshop in her basement, and one Christmas she made me a gorgeous box of light pink and white glass. She soldered the joints and affixed the lid with hinges. Inside, I keep short, narrow strips of card stock, on which each I wrote a noun, verb, or adjective. When I'm feeling uninspired to write, I sometimes pull ten or fifteen words out at random and compose a poem. My daughter and I often pull two words out each and they become our names for the afternoon. One day she was Polite Lovely Green, and I was Pristine Flabbergast. Another day, we could be Sudsy Ricchorchet and Faucet Fade.
9. I love board games ~ There's something relaxing and nostalgic about playing games. Maybe I find comfort in the fact that everything you need comes out of the box, and once you've finished it all stores neatly back in the box. I love playing with the kids -- Monopoly is one of our faves. And my son is an excellent chess player. My all-time favorite, though, is Scrabble. When my sisters and I get together, you can bet the Scrabble board will be out the entire time.
10. I'm an idealist ~ I believe the world is as it should be, disasters and heartbreak and all. If life were easy and our challenges minimum, there would be nothing driving us to improve. Each of us has a responsibility to be the best human beings we can be, to spend our energies invoking positive change in the world, one person at a time. The soul is eternal; its journey continues. I want to make the most of my time here and grasp the lessons I set out to learn.
So now you know a bit more about me. Do we have anything in common? Tell me, leave me a comment!