Sunday, August 30, 2009

Dieting and Why it just doesn't suit me..

I am still awaiting my blood work from the d-o-c. I already know what they are going to say. Eat better - Exercise more - Reduce Stress.
I know. I know. I know.
I even know how to do it all. What I lack is discipline.
Looking back, I was a very active kid. Very active. I took ballet, tap and jazz dance classes several times a week. I took tennis, swimming.. and I rode my bike everyday. I was very active.. and luckily - remained thin and fit.
Then in college I found this glorious opportunity to eat whatever I wanted and to drink large quantities of beer. Hence.. the weight gain began.
By 24 - something else happened. A little known condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. PCOS is a glorious condition that affects millions of women. Basically - my metabolism is shot. So losing weight becomes an even greater feat of desperation and I am stuck feeling disappointed and completely unmotivated.
Boo Boo Boo. But then you factor in the elevated bp - and I have to do something. Though, it just will not happen as quickly as I had hoped.
I work for the American Heart Association and I write numerous health releases on how to live a healthier lifestyle. I get it.
I just don't want to get it.
Boo on me. I know.
There is a silver lining - I do LOVE to exercise. Crazy, I know. I love to move - it makes me happy. BUT - I hate to get started. Again , a lack of motivation.
I am hoping to find my way back to my Flamenco class soon. I have called to arrange Salsa lessons at Dancing with the Star's - Fabian Sanchez - school. I love to dance, and I have to admit - I am not too bad at it. ;-)
Let's hope I can pull off the diet piece next. I just freaking love bad things. I love chips and I love dip. Those are the first two things I cannot do without. I love sweet coffees from Starbucks. I love potatoes. I love hot dogs. I love condiments (except Mayo - I cannot stand mayo.)
I don't eat when I am sad. I don't eat when I am happy - I just eat when I am hungry. So it is not an emotional thing.
It is what I chose to put in my mouth.
Choices. I like choices.. but it does not always mean I will make the right one.
Hmmm.. I wonder if there is anything in the frig...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

I will just smile.

I am trying to figure out how to motivate to enjoy this beautiful day.
You would think the fabulous weather mixed with a day packed full of exciting activities would just thrill me.
However I am just plain too tired.
I definitely did not get enough sleep last night and I am paying the price today.
Everything is bothering me lately - and I really need to shake it off.
I am heading to Alabama Adventures today (an amusement park) with Crystal, Yasser and two little kids Crystal was a nanny for. I am going to try to soak in the sun, get spun around a few times and just laugh. Another great surprise - Telisa is coming up for a visit. We have decided to not tell Yass - and really surprise the heck out of him.
You would think with all of these great activities I would be excited - but I am the opposite. I am TIRED. It's like - my brain is happy, my body wants to sleep.
Hopefully after I get some coffee in me.. that will change. It usually gives me a completely different personality!! Sad - but it is an amazing factor in whether or not I am in a good mood. So time to DRINK UP!
Spent a lovely evening (I always feel like I should say lovely when I spend time with my english friend) with Julie and her husband Doug last night. They live in a fantastic old home in southside (which is the historical residential side of downtown Birmingham.) They have a magnificent porch we all sat on - drank wine - while Yass played the guitar.
Okay. Motivation it is. Good Mood I will create. Just got to get off this bed first....

Friday, August 28, 2009

A little bit of mania..

So I am sitting on the couch, in my pajamas, relaxing because that is what the d-o-c ordered. When lo and behold, the sleeping dragon (aka my egyptian) awakens.

This is the season of Ramadan for those of you who do not follow the Islamic calendar. My hubby happens to be a Sunni Muslim. I, on the other hand - am not.

In Ramadan, muslims observe a strict fast from 4am until 7:30pm. This includes no water or food. Since Yass does not have a job - he chooses to sleep. Oh yes, and sleep he does. He wakes up close to 2:30pm most days - then has his first meal at 7:30pm, another at 11pm and yet another around 3:30 or 4am. Then he goes to sleep somewhere between 4am and 6:30am. Interesting to those of us who live completely different lifestyles.

(This explains the odd facebook status yesterday about sitting up at 1:30am eating scrambled eggs and watching the movie Seven.)

Well - I am home, enjoying a day of rest. Yass is sleeping.. then he awakes. Now he is not a morning person - AT ALL. I have learned to let him be. He gets up - all grumpy and face crinkled into a frown - and does his little morning routine. Shower, pray, reading the Qu'ran - then he proceeds to re-organize my house and clean. OBSESSIVELY CLEAN. This guys goes thru a little mania in the morning. He started the laundry, reorganized items on my kitchen counter, reworked the storage room. Note - he rarely says a word, but frowns and asks - "What is this?" "Do you use this?" etc. BIZARRIO.

Then around 4:30 or 5pm - he will suddenly stop and head to the computer. Like clockwork.

Then he looks at me around 6:45 and says - I will eat at 7:30pm. Yes, Yass - I know. ;-)

Then he wants to go and be sociable around 8pm. Well - I arranged that for him tonight.


Can you tell he is the son of a military guy? Apparently his dad was fairly high up in the military and taught his son to live a very regimented life. Yass needs structure and routine to feel useful.

I am the exact opposite.

It's really quite amusing to see how different people live their lives. My old room mate and I -Keli - had similar styles. More creative chaos.. we could easily lay around and watch movies and laugh and talk for hours. Housework?? Nah.. it can wait.

I like a little order, don't get me wrong. It is awesome to wake up to a perfectly organized closet and make up drawer (compliments of the egyptian) - but there is something to be said about the freedom to just tossing your shoes in a corner, ripping off a bra and laying it on the table.. and sitting on your a$$ for a few hours after work.

Yep. Not gonna happen anymore.

So in my pursuit of relaxation and need to be a good wife - I find myself between a rock and a hard place.

But - I would not change it for the world. Yes, I wish he could relax a little more like me. Hell - it's only been a few months, I really should give him time. And in turn, I could learn some of his domesticated skills.

Hey - I did just teach him to use the washing machine. See - I do have a few tricks up my sleeve.

I want to smell dead leaves

It is time to smell those dead leaves. What I mean by this - I want fall to arrive. Crisp air, golden and purple hues, warm sunsets, and the smell - oh the glorious smell of the leaves.

I feel so blessed to be able to live somewhere where we actually experience four seasons. Maybe not as glorious as some places, but living in the south we get a beautiful fall (although it is a little later down here), a cold winter (every once in a blue moon we get some snow), a magnificent spring and an blazing hot & sunny summer.

One of my faves and perhaps my absolute favorite is Autumn.

Even the energy in the air changes for me. I am so sensitive to energy and when the temps change and the colors change I become very invigorated. I can breathe deeper, I smile more - it is fascinating how the change in the seasons brings this on.

Fall even represents some other great things - the holidays. I am such a celebrant. I could find a theme and excuse to make a party for just about any day. I love love love Halloween. I love seeing all of the orange and black, picking out scary costumes, eating candy corn. Turns out, I am an awesome pumpkin carver! Seriously! I even taught a few pumpkin carving classes about 8 years ago. LOL- that is my little secret I just revealed.

I love Thanksgiving. The idea of gathering with family and making a "harvest-style" meal is fun. I can see all of the colors by this time - the golds, purples, reds, orange - warm colors that make me want to sigh.

Then we head into the glorious month of December - fall comes to an end and we celebrate with Christmas.

How can you not just adore this time of year??

It also made me think about something. The life of a leaf. The tree is barren and dormant in the winter. The it erupts with this glorious bright green in the spring - slowly shows off with a few flowers (from time to time) - then turns the darkest rich green in summer as if time has made it wise and it understands it is a part of the tree- then in fall.. right before it dies, it is the most beautiful it has ever been.

I wonder how that applies to our lives?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Our deepest fear..

Thought the quote Telisa posted yesterday was fitting for a few of my friends to read.


“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Yep. Marianne got it right!
But what is your deepest fear? Sometimes I think I am sooo afraid of success. Something deep down tells me I do not deserve it. I have a big problem with that one. I think deep down I am simply not good "enough" to receive the blessings that are due to me.
Where in the hell did that come from? I used to think I was just humble. Now - I am not so sure.
I am also afraid of failure - so I will simply not try.
I also have another - darker fear - death. Maybe it is more the fear of the unknown. The ultimate "final review."
Just a thought...

The results are not in.. but all signs point tooooo...

Blood pressure.

Looks like my blood pressure is tipping toward the high end again. My diastolic is high (that's the bottom number) the top is normal.

Stress and sodium may the culprit. Not sure. One thing is for certain - it's not helping.

Had some blood tests to check on some other items, just to see if everything is running the way it should.


I need a break. Not a dirt break. But just some peace of mind. For once.

I think the review yesterday simply did not help. Now that I have had time to process all that was said, I am a little baffled. No - a lot baffled.

Then I find out that someone else had a similar review - with vastly different results. Results I feared.


When I worked for GSMG - lol - there was hardly any stress compared to what my team goes through.

I wish we would concentrate on what is essential - just sharing the message and getting out into the community.

If I concentrate on me. Do what I have to do and make things happen in my own way, amazing results will happen. When I put aside all of my fear, and desperation, and need to follow certain guidelines- i can create masterpieces.



I hate when I have to make massive decisions. I HATE IT HATE IT HATE IT. It reminds of the time my ex and I were trying decide whether or not to divorce. It is just sooo much easier to sit still and just let life make decisions for you.

I have complete control over my future. If I want to make things happen, I must work toward a better tomorrow. In perfect Nicole fashion - my blood pressure is responding. Damn.

I thought I was hiding it well.

I guess a few of those resolutions need to start now. I need a few days head start.

I need prayers. I need support. I need positive validation. Damn - I hate being so needy.

I fear what happened to a very talented friend today - will happen to me. Will happen to many others. I fear I have let my health go too long, and now I am paying the price. I fear I cannot hold it together. I fear I will fail.

Hell.. I fear I will succeed.

Hey.. what's up doc??

I get to spend my day off at the d-o-c's office. I have this swollen ankle, and if I am honest to myself - a swollen hand.

All on the right side.

I have high blood pressure.

I will keep you posted.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

September's Resolutions

Historically September is the single worst month of the year for me. I have serious issues with September. I believe that some where, at some time in my life, someone put a spell on me in the month of September. Apparently I did not get the instructions on how to break the bad spell - and now I have annual issues.

I have decided, in high Nicole fashion, to do something about it. Transitional - no way. This is re-defining.

I have to break this nasty course of ill-will planted upon me.

Meningitis, Hysterectomy, Financial down fall, job changes - all of these things plague me in September. People are meaner. Funds are are lower. My hopes slowly fades.

How can I change this month that follows me around like an evil, twisted little demon. I have no choice but to endure it for 30 days. THIRTY LOOOONG DAYS.

My idea is to do a transformation. I will re-define and create September "New Month's" Resolutions. I need to make sure I do this annually- to turn this helluva month into my very own transformation!

Below I will include my plan. I will see where all of this leads. *Disclaimer - I never follow thru on anything - but let's see if there can be a change.

My September Resolutions For Transformation:

1. Exercise - again. Some how I fell off the wagon (literally, I have a chronically sprained ankle.) But I have got to move. Must Must Must. Not so much to lose weight, even though I need to, just to feel the energy and make my heart a little healthier.

2. Daily Devotion. I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I buy books to force me to spend a little time in "the word" (as people call it.) I need to schedule time to actually do this. I never forget to eat to feed my body. I need to read -to feed my soul.

3. Volunteer someplace new. I always add a little activity each year. Last year I became a youth leader at church. The year before I became a dog walker at the Humane Society. This year I would like to serve the under privileged. Need to do a little research on a group that does not get as much attention (as say - a Jimmy Hale mission.)

4. I want to do something about this immigration BS. I am quite the little advocate - I think I need to hook up with my friends who try to make things happen. I am going to jump on that band wagon and try to push for a change.

5. Clearing up some past debt. Yep. Piece by piece. Starting with the IRS. Oh yes - I have an ex-husband who left some things for me to clean up. Let's pretend this is tennis. I filled out some forms to protect myself - the ball is in his court now.

6. Work. Either re wake the spirit that brought me here - or make some changes. Something has got to give.

7. I WILL learn to sew. I put this on my list each year. I have got to learn to do it. I have sooo many ideas - yet, I can't even sew a button. Someone out there will help me. I guess I need a machine first.

8. I want to do a mission trip. Where do I look?

9. I will head back to dance class. Flamenco - here I come. I promise- Sept.

10. I want to take some photography classes. I found a program online - 16-months. I am seriously considering pursuing this. This is for the future.

11. Change this cynical little attitude of mine. I realize I will always be cynical - but I can add a little encouragement also. I am capable. I just choose the wrong avenue to take.

12. Get those little things fixed: head back to the dentist, go to the gyno, get that mammo I avoided last year - work on the other little body parts I keep putting off.

13. Re-planting my herb garden. I need to brush up on container planting. (Since I do not have a yard.)

14. Find a yoga or meditation class.

15. Yasser has seen many pics with my hair long - and has asked for me to grow it out. I can do that.. let's see what will happen in one year!!

16. Head back to the theater. Some way.. some how.. head back where I belong.

17. Paint this apt. If I plan on staying here.. (which remains to be seen) - let's make it home.

18. I need a 5-year plan. I make strategic plans for work all the time - what about my plan??

19. I want to plan a BIG family trip. Surprise them all.

20. Clean out my storage. Time to simply.. and Go Green. Can I do it??

Okay - I have myself 20 very lofty goals. Can it be done? I think so. I believe I can try to do some of these things. I did forget one thing - learn arabic. It is happening slowly.. but I really need to make a concentrated effort.

No more BAD September. No more negative feelings. I need to empower myself to kick September in the bottom - and make things awesome!!

Remembering... The Hell-Years - Middle School

Now I am at the third installation of what is known as memories from my boring little life.

Middle School.

Good Lord in Heaven - now that was interesting.

My family moved to a new place in the southwest side of Macon known as Crystal Lake. It was a neat little place: big lake, over 7 playgrounds, a volleyball court, big pool - tons of great things to enjoy as a kid. Our home was fairly large - 2 stories, with three very large bedrooms, two balconies - it was nice.

My sister and I discovered something very quick - she and I would go walking (I was in the 5th grade and she was much younger) - and lo and behold - guess what we came upon? MEAN GIRLS. Yes - the kind you read about. But these girls were not the "uppity" mean girls - these were the trashier version. I won't share their names, because I believe one has since requested my friendship on Facebook (the irony) - but we will call them "Skinny Bitch" and "Big W". Needless to say, they caused weeks and maybe even months of terror for my sister and I. We could not go anywhere without them threatening to.. and I quote.. (you are going to love this.. it is sooo classy..) "Kick my butt." *sigh*

Why in the world - would two little girls get terrorized by these trashy little hooligans is beyond me. But that is the world I entered.

One day there was a stand off of sorts. If you know anything about my personality - it is this -I will only take so much. It was a later summer afternoon, my sister and I had two cane poles and we decided we were going to go fishing. LOL Yeah - we didn't actually catch anything - and these girls - Skinny B and Big W made an appearance. I saw them coming, and I told my sister to just look the other way. Ignore them. But they decided to approach. Apparently, they considered the entire neighborhood their territory. I was done - at 11 years old, I had enough - I told them to just leave us alone, we are not bothering anybody.

Then - Skinny B - noticed we were a little younger, asked our ages, and where we went to school. That was it. Seriously - after weeks of them yelling obscenities and threatening my livelihood - it came down to me telling them to back off.

Life Lesson learned at 11.

Soon there after I had to go to middle school. ahahahahaha. I just had to break with a laugh - because this was what I would call a serious culture shock. I left Union elementary school for Ballard A Middle School. Looking back, I am soooo glad I experienced all that I did - but then - it was sooooo scary.

I must have been a target for mean girls - because my first day - one singled me out. Her name was Lori. I will leave it at that - she won't ever read this - I seriously doubt she ever even learned how to use a computer. ;-) Well - this girl decided to get a message to me - she wanted to "beat me up." lol (again - now i find it all hilarious - but I really want to express how BAD these kids were.) I was beyond confused why people - for no apparent reason - felt the need to prove how tough they were. I guess because I was like the "new kid" - perhaps that is what was happening.

Needless to say - nothing ever came of that. I am also sure this young lady probably is hooked on meth and has 5 kids by several different fathers by now...... but you needed to understand the severity of the kids at this school.

Here's the deal - we had kids with money - all the way down to kids in the projects. We were very diverse. Now before you even think anything, it was never the kids in the projects that gave me any problems - seriously. Many became my dearest friends - it was the lower income white kids that caused problems.

I got exposed to many things that year. Kids who were sexually active, did drugs, quit school - things that seemed so foreign to me. No, I did not participate in any of those activities. I continued take Ballet, I performed in community theater, I was a member of my church's youth group - I was very normal. Amazing that I could stay that way.

I enjoyed one class in particular - my 7th grade social studies class. Mr. Reinerth taught this. Turns out, I have a knack for geography and memorizing every capital in the world. I loved this little trivia game we would play as a class. It was sooo much fun. When I was a little girl, I was obsessed with maps. My dad and I would look at maps and he would explain the world to me. It was like traveling on my personal little magic carpet ride. Anyway - the point is - we were finally being taught more specifics about all of the countries I was fascinated with - and at 13, I became a dork when it comes to geography.

I also had another monumental moment - I met a person who would become my very best friend - Wendy. I was walking through the library at school - still did not really know anyone - and this red-headed girl (pretending to read a book) stops me and says, "Hey - I notice we are in all the same classes. My name is Wendy - Who are you?" I think I breathed a sigh of relief - I made my first friend in a new school. She and I became inseparable. She came from a good family - normal - and she had two really close friends - Jill and Jennifer. Jennifer was in a different cluster (with my old friend Dedra) - so Jennifer and Wendy drifted apart. Jill was friends with Tara - so the four of us became (what we called in our 13 year old minds) "The Fabulous Four." We ate lunch together, chilled out on the bleachers before school together. Finally - middle school was working out. The trashy kids continued their trashy little threats - but no one could penetrate our little circle.

I met so many new people that year - many of you may be reading this. Facebook reconnected so many of us. So for fun - here are some highlights from those years:

1. Bear Crawl. Do you remember Mr. Mills making people do the bear crawl. What an odd form of punishment for talking out of turn. I think I escaped that.

2. Basketball relays. How fun!! Turns out - I can actually shoot a ball pretty good - at 5'1. I never missed.

3. Mr. Lewis - the man who loved to call everyone a Jack Ass. I actually LOVED his class. I made the coolest "what not" stand. I think I missed my calling to be a carpenter.

4. Mrs. Flick. OMG. Single worst english teacher I ever had. I don't know if she was a bad teacher - I just know she gave us hell.

5. Pep rallies between the clusters. Good Times.

6. Waiting for the bus out front. This was serious socializing time.

7. Mr.Jones.. Looking back - Mr. Jones was FLAMING - he always made me laugh. I just never picked up on the fact that he was "on fire"

8. Outside of school - Volleyball at Crystal Lake. Everyone would meet by the pool and just hang out for hours. Good times.

9. I was actually in the advanced class at Modern Dance Academy. Yep - toe shoes, solos and all. I did well!

10. Theater - I got super-involved with the Community Children's Theater of Macon. I enjoyed my classes with John Jones, Sylvia Haynie and Robin. Good times.

11. I knew I wanted to be in tv. Yep. I loved my acting classes and was dying for a way to do that for a living. I knew, even at that age, making money in theater would be impossible (almost.) So - I decided, okay - what else can I do. I remember seeing Tina Hicks reading the news on 13WMAZ and I thought to myself.. oh heck, I can do that! And so - the legacy began.

12. Well.. here is something interesting.. I had my first kiss the summer before the 8th grade. Yes, I was a late bloomer compared to the other "very promiscuous" kids. It was at a teen night club called Guidos. hahahahah It doesn't get any cheesier than that.

12. I had my first boy friend. His name was Joey. It last 4 weeks. That was a serious relationship back then.

13. I got involved with my church's youth group - I ended up representing them at a teen conference. It was very cool.

14. We still just had one cat - Aires. Man - that cat was mean.

15. I began writing poetry.

16. I became obsessed with pink flamingos. Everything in my room had to be pink and black. Oh yes - it is the 80s.

17. I went to my first concert - Duran Duran. *heart beating wildly* I will never love another band like i loved Duran Duran.

18.I put the barbies away and began buying records. If I was not at school, I was at dance class. If I was not at dance class (several days a week), I was dancing and singing in my room. If I were not there - I was rehearsing for another play with the community theater.

19. Here is a list of the popular "clothing items" - jams (remember the Hawaiian shorts); jelly shoes, jeans with prints, over sized sweaters that you wore a tank under, leggings, granny shoes

20. Let's not forget - WINGS for your hair.

Ahhh.. sweet.. twisted memories.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Moving.. in another direction.

I am still going to document my little "look back" quest - but for now, I have something to talk about. Something real. Something pivotal.

Transitions. I am always griping about having to change this, or do that. I need to increase this or decrease that. Transitional.. always...

But I am sitting on the edge of yet another transition. What I have decided to do this time is a little different. I am going to wait - and look for signs.


Now - let me explain this a little better. Things are moving in a general direction. My Egyptian is here. I like my apartment. I like my car. I love my friends and fam. Bu there is one little slice of the pie that has become less than pleasurable.

I will let you guess what that is.

Originally I was upset over my new-found disdain and lack of enthusiasm for this piece of the puzzle. Then I decided to try to work it through. Now I am waiting for the sign. The sign to transition.

I posed the question heaven-ward - and stated: "IF THIS IS WHERE I NEED TO BE. THEN MAKE IT CLEAR. IF IT IS NOT - SLAM THE DOOR IN MY FACE."

I have something happening Wednesday that will answer this question for me.

I will have to wait.

Trust. Hope. Faith. These are the words of the day.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The early years..

I began describing my little life's saga - a reader's digest version - and it's time to pick up where I left off.

In 1977, my sister - Heather - was born. We lived in the country (when the Lake TOBO and the Pineworth area was considered country) - just my mom, dad, sister and I. We had two dogs - Stoney & Rebel and the meanest black cat in the world - Shadow. I am not sure how my mom manages to do this - but all of her cats are mean as snakes. I have this theory - cats pick up their owners attitudes.. lol.. more on that later.

My memories in this big old house were pretty cool. My sister and I shared a really large room that was full of toys. We enjoyed a HUGE front yard that had two of the biggest magnolia trees. I used to love to run and play around these enormous trees.

My main memories of these years include:
1. My sister pretending to be a super hero - and jumping off a bed onto my A-Frame Fischer Price doll house and cracking her head open. She still carries the scar to this day.

2. Waiting for my dad to get home - and when he drove up - I would run across the big yard to meet him.

3. Taking naps outside, and using my dogs as a pillow. We would all huddle together.

4. Threatening to run away from home - I packed my little lunchbox, walked to the end of the drive way, then came back and told my mom I was ready for dinner.

5. Carving Halloween pumpkins on the back porch.

6. Trying to learn to roller skate on the hardwood floors.

7. Hiding my peanut butter and jelly sandwisches under the coach.

8. There was a beautiful house around the corner. Apparently the owners of the home were found murdered. Yes - drugs.. they had a lot of money and something went wrong..

9 My worst memory was one night, my mom was crying and looking through the yellow pages and calling apartment complexes....

I assume this is when things began to take a different turn.

We ended up moving to an apartment complex in West Macon near the mall. Not the best place in the world, but at my age - I thought it was the coolest place. Lots of kids, near my school, and there was a playground and pool.

We lived in a very diverse neighborhood (Riverbend Apts.) I had two different next door neighbors that were excellent friends - Chad (who moved out after one year) and Corey - who I just recently found on Facebook!

My best friend in the whole world ended up moving to this complex - Dedra McNeal. Apparently her mom went thru a divorce, and they ended up on the other end of the complex.

We would create "mystery clubs" behind my apartment. We would find old refrigerator boxes and create these pretend "club houses." Dee and I would take turns finding mysteries to solve. Apparently this came from my new found love of books. I began to read Sherlock Holmes in the 3rd grade.

Another big "growth" item that happened was I saw the Nutcracker at the Grand Opera House. I believe Gladys Lasky's group performed this. I was mesmerized and fell in love with the Sugar Plum fairy. It was then and there I chose to take dance classes. Now remember - I am not sure how my family afforded it, but somehow I began taking dance classes once a week. I took ballet, tap and jazz. Turns out - I was pretty good. I still remember my first performance - at the Grand Opera House - as a Butterfly in Alice in Wonderland.

I even joined Girl Scouts that year. My mom became my Girl Scout leader. I always enjoyed my Girl Scout troop - we made all types of cool crafts, I sold cookies, and I made some really great friends.

Each summer I would attend Girl Scout camp - Camp Martha Johnston. (1st - 6th grade.) I took tennis classes and swimming and drama. I learned how to fish, how to skate, and how to play volleyball there. Sooo many memories.

I think the point to all of this - I never even realized my parents may have been struggling. I did more than my neighbor's did - I performed, I had activities - and I had something a lot of those kids needed - a mom at home.

I am the queen of women's rights, but there is something to be said about kids who grow up with parental supervision. There is nothing like it. Looking back - there were some bad elements in that neighborhood. I was told things I should not have known at such a young age by really "bad" kids. But my mom always knew where I was. Dad did was he could to put food on the table, and we made the best of it.

My memories of living there until the 5th grade are:

1. Learning to ride a bike in the middle parking lot. I worked sooo hard to get the hang of that thing. I rode it all day - right before dinner, I finally did it!!! I still remember what it felt like - and it was amazing.

2. The first time I stepped foot on the stage at the Grand Opera House. I knew all my steps, I had my costume on, I was not scared at all. I still remember what the lights felt like on my cheeks. It was warm.. my heart was soaring.. I can still vaguely remember seeing my Granny sitting near the front row.

3. Learning to swim at Girl Scout Camp - then coming home, and teaching my mom how to swim!

4. The night our apartment caught on fire. Luckily - our apt was safe - but the entire back side of our building went up in flames.

5. Going skating for the first time at Durr's skating rink on Log Cabin. I fell in love with "disco" music.

6. Walking with my good friend Dedra everywhere. I can't forget her showing me her Jordash Barbie.. I begged and begged my mom for that doll. I ended up with Malibu Barbie. I got mad at that barbie - so I chopped her hair into a mohawk.

7. I remember my 3rd grade teacher Mrs. Smith. I learned sooo much from her. My favorite memory - learning the planets.

8. I stopped sucking my thumb at 8 - that is the same year I had my first panic attack. I was walking thru west gate mall with my granny - I remember a doll show.. and I felt like I could not breathe. Then the hell of panic attacks entered my life.

9. We ended up with an adorable -but mean kitty - Aires.

10. Another BIG moment - my friend in second grade brought a journal to school. I wanted this thing sooo bad, so I took it. My mom found it, and made me return it. That Christmas - I got my first journal. (I was 8.) I still have it - and have kept one ever since. My love of writing began then.

October of my 5th grade year - things turned around again - we ended up moving to a condo co-op in a place called Crystal Lake. I left my friends that all ended up at Central High School and moved toward an area where I would eventually end up at Southwest High school.. But I am getting ahead of myself.

How did I get here?

Now why in the world would I even think about describing my journey - is beyond me. But I woke up this morning feeling the need to tell my story. Not just a quick - what's happening, but a basic background on who I am - how I got here - and what is in store for me in the future.

For those of you who don't know, I was born in Georgia. Most of my life I thought of only one thing - leaving Georgia. Now, for whatever reason, I can only think of how can I get BACK to Georgia. lol Funny how things turn out.

I was born in a large town called Macon. Note I said large town, not city. It is a decent sized town. Over 100,000 - not too big, not too small. My parents got married in the early 70s - and I was born shortly there after. My mom is from Macon and my dad is from a tiny southern Indiana town called Monroe City.

We grew up middle - lower middle class. I think it depended on whether or not my mom was working. Starting off - mom stayed home with me. My dad worked for a dairy company running a milk route. Both went to college, but life struck them with some blows. My dad ended up with a young wife and new born baby - and probably had to do what he could to make ends meet. He has a degree in sociology but was interested in engineering. My mom had a degree in interior design and was very interested in art.

I think our first home was a small apartment. From the pics - we looked like a happy little family unit. I really don't remember. I think later, they rented a home in south Macon. The only thing I remembered about this place was my dog - Stoney. Stonewall Jackson the Third. He was an awesome dog. I do remember one other bizarre detail - there was a little old woman who lived next door to us that always seemed to have candy. I don't know why I remember this - but I always liked to ride my little tricycle to her home (which in my mind looks like a metal storage shelter.. hmmm) and get candy.

I think the next place we ended up was a house out on Lake Tobo. My parents bought a beautiful home on Pineworth Road and we had 7 acres. I loved this house. I think they were on a financial upswing at this point. There were hardwood floors, huge stone fireplaces, french doors, a barn - beautiful piece of land. The neighborhood was amazing.. and I can imagine they must have felt like things were moving along nicely.

Then one day a little bundle of joy comes along. I was 4 - and my sister Heather came into this world. I would have to wait a few more years until I had my playmate.

Now you have to imagine - we live in the country. No other kids around. All I had were my dogs to play with - Stoney & Rebel. I remember riding my tricycle, playing with my dolls, swinging on a tire swing.. all types of random things.

I think I eventually went to pre-school - Kindercare on Log Cabin Rd. If I remember right - my best friends were Shannon and Cory. Shannon was kind of a brat - and the daughter of the school director. A few major memories stand out from those years -
1. The tornado that ripped through and we had to sit in a small room with an entire school
2. The kids eating crayons. My first lesson in ratting out the group. The teacher grabbed me (and it proves I really cannot tell a lie) and asked what was happening, I told them - and for lunch - each child was given one of those round crayons to eat - and I had to eat my real food in front of everyone. haahhaahahahhaaaa. I remember not being very hungry.
3. Having to go sit in the cubby hole for talking.
4. Watching Happy Days while waiting for my mom to pick me up from school.
5. My dad got a bad perm in the mid 70s - and he picked me up from school. I did not want to go with him, because I did not recognize him. LOL
6. I saw the movie Peter Pan, and wanted to pretend to be Wendy - so I proceeded to "walk the plank" on our front porch. (The plank was a lawn chair) and I fell into the bushes. Turns out - I broke my left wrist. That hurt!
7. My bedroom had pink walls and a mickey mouse blanket. There was a huge KISS poster over my bed. I was 4.
8. I saw the movie Grease - and would dress in my mom's 1970's clothes and pretend to sing all of the songs.
9. I had a record player (the small suitcase kind) and it had three lights on the front - disco style. I would play three records all the time: The Wiz, Grease, and Southern Folk songs. hahahaha.
10. My mom was talking Lebanese Belly Dancing classes - and would practice in the living room - I used to try to twirl with her shawl.

These are just a few of the random thoughts I remember from those early, early years. Later - I will write about elementary school years. LOL - if you went to school with me - you are totally NOT safe. hahaaha.

Until then..

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A look back on the journey:

Nov. 7, 2008

Yesterday was a monumental day in my life. A struggle. A trial. A process. I got a first hand look at what it means to become an American citizen. My fiance, Yasser Ahmed Abdou, passed the final portion of the "test" to immigrate to America, to marry me, and for the two of us to FINALLY start our lives together.Two year process. Seriously. If anyone can make it through an engagement this long, paperwork, and your entire lives pulled apart and love for each other questioned - then you deserve to be married!!I won't go into great detail - just know we have struggled, begged, paid thousands - and finally we are heading down the path to our future.I would have moved to Egypt if necessary. Really I would. I loved it there, and I love the people and the culture. I am fairly good at foreign languages, I know I could master arabic in time - but the opportunites for me would have been limited. Here - the sky is the limit.Not that this step is the end of our struggles. Actually it is only the beginning. Unfortunately we live in a world of bigots, ignorance and the uncultured. I am a white, educated, american catholic who lives in the south. I am marrying an arab, educated, egyptian sunni muslim who lives a world away. Soon we will be together and will begin to live a life of cultural fusion. However, we live in a region in the world that is so close-minded and honestly - extremely ignorant.I have patiently listened to friends, aquaintances, co-workers and random people on the street. I have read numerous "letters to the editor" and watch the pundits debate. I know what the world's view is. As a former journalist - I also know how to search for the truth, saturate myself with information and get the facts. Unfortunately most people like to go on opinion. I have the facts - and I realize, it will never be easy for us. Recently I over heard some young (not even adults) share their opinions about a myriad of topics. it almost broke my heart to already see people so young forming such strong opinions about a group of people they truly know absolutely nothing about. *sigh*Besides all of the struggles ahead - I could not pick a better man to stand by my side. Nor could I find a truer friend, a more passionate love, nor a better servant of God. I look forward to all of the good he will bring to my life - here, together.Those are my thoughts. Soo many, some so private. But I felt I had to express myself, especially considering all of the battles he and I will face and all of the exceptionally good times!Until next time...


9th, 2009

My back is against the wall and I have both hands up trying to push the other wall in front of me.One wall is failure - the one in front of me is the United States government.I have been battling with Immigration for a very long time now. Yasser and I really thought we were in the clear. All we are trying to do is get his K1 Fiance Visa - in hand - and then get married. We would deal with all of the other details later.I thought we were "home free." We received approval on November 6, 2008. We were promised he would be here in about two months. Since the approval - a little over 3 months. The whole filing process - over 9 months and counting. I recently discovered we are in what is known as administrative processing.Here is a good description of what it is - the source is:{Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview by a Consular Officer. Applicants are advised of this requirement when they apply. Most administrative processing is resolved within 60 days of the visa interview. When administrative processing is required, the timing will vary based on individual circumstances of each case. Visa applicants are reminded to apply early for their visa, well in advance of the anticipated travel date. Important Notice: Before making inquiries about status of administrative processing, applicants or their representatives will need to wait at least 90 days from the date of interview or submission of supplemental documents, whichever is later. About Visa Processing Wait Times – Nonimmigrant Visa ApplicantsInformation about nonimmigrant visa wait times for interviews and visa processing timeframes are shown on this website, as well as on U.S. Embassy and Consulate websites worldwide. It should be noted that the “Wait Times for a Nonimmigrant Visa to be Processed” information by country does not include time required for administrative processing. Processing wait time also does not include the time required to return the passport to applicants, by either courier services or the local mail system. }Hmmm.. yep.. that's what I thought also. This is my theory - and to my more conservative/anti-arab "friends" - I am sure you will be thrilled - but I believe he is being profiled. I think the fact that he is a young arab/muslim male he is undergoing more checks than the normal applicant. I think that all of this should have been done PRIOR to his interview - not after - or atleast do not tell us he is approved. So is he "conditionally approved?" Think about this - he is educated- more so than most of the people I know. He speaks at least 3 languages, and is one of the most genuine, God Fearing people I have ever met.What kills me - I can simply pack my bags, fly to egypt - go to the embassy - they sign a paper - we marry there and I can live there the rest of my life. America is so quick to give up one of their own - but will not allow me - a taxpaying citizen to marry who she wants in her own country where she has more opportunity.What also makes me mad is the fact that I know soooo many couples who are not even half as sincere about their relationship as we are. BUT - because they live here - it is automatically approved. WHAT THE HELL???????????What happened to the right for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Where the hell is my right to the latter... run the damn security check again and again if you must - but do it BEFORE you grant approval.Please note - we are still approved. This is just a delay.. WTF?????Sorry - I am venting. I would not be soo mad if it weren't for the fact that I am also trying to keep someone else's hopes up. His whole life is on hold - THEY HAVE HIS PASSPORT IN DC. He cannot even travel, move to another city for a job or anything - because of this. *breathe*There is one shred of hope - a friend is guiding me thru the federal system. They have connections to people who have answers - and perhaps we can put a little squeeze on them. YASSER AND I NEED YOUR PRAYERS AND ENCOURAGEMENT.I am finished venting. Do I feel better? no - but at least you will understand my frustration.I have faith it will work out. I know God will provide.I know it is all in his time and according to his plan.Know this - I am prepared to move to Egypt if necessary. But just tell us one way or the other. Do not keep us hanging.Please leave any encouragement or prayer here - I will share with Yasser. I know it will mean a lot to both of us.Until next time..

May 12, 2009

Sooo - for whatever reason, I fell asleep on the couch right when Paranormal State came on last night.Many of you know, this is one of my favorite shows. The fact that I crashed means I was beyond tired. 3:30 this morning I awoke to a stiff neck and strange need to check my email. As soon as I opened it I got a shock - Yasser got his passport and papers!! Here's the catch - his VISA expires in 4 days.Yes. You read that right - 4 days.Needless to say, I was so confused. As I am dialing the Embassy in Cairo - I discover that the VISA expires exactly 6 months after issue. Of course the government sat on that VISA and then allowed him only FOUR days to get to the states. I am trying really hard to be patriotic. *scratching of throat.*I did my research and feel a little better - turns out once he arrives in the states - that is when his official 90 Day VISA begins. Ahhhh... but thank God he was financially prepared to fly over. LOLLast I heard - he called me from the travel agent's office and asked how long did I think he needed for a layover in ATL (when he goes thru customs.) I said at least 2 hours - if not more. Just because I am SURE he will get all of types of hell. Especially as an immigrant.Well - I guess the good news is - I have my egyptian. Patience Patience Patience. That's what I learned from this process. It was hard, it was expensive, it was confusing and a bit misleading. But we did it. And we did it legally. No wonder so many people end up in the country illegally - knowing how much it costs, and the trouble you go through. Thank God (literally) that he and I had the brain to figure this out. It was very very very difficult.I also want to thank God that I did not buy my ticket to Egypt when I planned. Ironically enough, my car died - seriously - just a few days before I was going to purchase my ticket to fly out to Egypt on May 16th. LOL MAy 16th. The day his VISA would expire. HA HA HA.The car dying forced me to one - get a new car which I desperately needed. (I was just enjoying not having a car payment.) & two had me push a little harder to find out where Yasser's passport was.God works in the most mysterious ways.LESSON LEARNED. When I finally gave up trying, and let the forces that be do what needed to be done, everything fell into place.Wow.So - I guess the news is this:Yasser will probably fly out either tomorrow night or Thursday morning. He will more than likely arrive Thursday.WOW.I have not seen his face in 1 1/2 years. It has been that long. I said goodbye at the Cairo airport on Nov. 29th 2007. Got through Christmas - then found the immigration attorny by Feb. began the paper work process. Sent papers in April of 08. US govnt received the papers end of May. Got our approval for the Petition on Sept. 20 08. Then his embassy interview of Nov of 08. He was supposed to get his visa in January 09. Instead went into Administrative Processing (security checks) - then he heard his VISa was issued on may 6th - and he received it on May 12th this morning - with an expiration of May 16th.Good heavens.LOLI am

assuming I will be married VERY soon. We only get 90 days for that. hahahaha.WHERE IS ALL THE ROMANCE??? hahahahaha*sigh*Glory to God. Miracles do happen.

May 26, 2009

It's official. I will be married before the end of the week. WOO HOO. It took a looooooooooooong time to get to this point, but here we are and I could not be happier.Here is the latest and the greatest:Yasser and I visited with the President of the Birmingham Islamic Center. Turns out, the ceremony he and I performed in Egypt really is official in his religion (not that I thought it was not - but was glad to hear it is REAL) - and all we have to do is get a marriage license and take it back to the mosque and they will sign and file for us. That's it.Now, that sounds a little unromantic - but there will be an exciting twist. I promise, if my job situation works out, I will have a wedding party. BIG one. Reception/party/whatever. I do have a beautiful dress (not super formal - but lacy and white and romantic) - and I can assure you - I WILL WEAR IT.(Job situation - cuts, June 30 - got to make the cut.)I believe I will have the party in Georgia, and I believe I will rent the Sidney Lanier Cottage. If all is well that ends well, it will take place in July or so.But our journey (for keeping Yasser here) is not complete. We have to apply for some sort of Employee Authorization. We have to get a SS card for him. We need to enroll him in driving courses in order to get his license. Then as soon as our official wedding certificate comes back we have to file for an adjustment of status. (This is to secure his permanent residency, aka - his green card.) Do you know how much THAT cost??? INSANE. No wonder there are so many illegals in the country, it is over $1,000.Then he will be here on a probationary basis for 2 years. So - it will be a little while until he can return home.Sooo - that is what is next. We are adjusting nicely to our living arrangement. LOL Except for the cat situation, we could not be happier. I enjoy waking up to his smiling face, we laugh, we talk, we shop non-stop, we visit with friends. We are just enjoying being together. My family fell in love with him - not to mention Autumn (my niece.) She kept jumping into his arms and just staring at him and touching his face. It was adorable. All of my friends who have met Yasser, seem to love him. It's hilarious to watch them all. He and I laugh about his conversations with people and the crazy questions people ask him over and over.I feel so blessed to have my best friend, the love of my life, and a wonderful man by my side.PS - just a shame he and Lestat cannot make nice and be friends. Then - things would truly be A-OK in my book.Nicole

May 30, 2009

WOO HOOYasser and I are married- again!We had our official wedding on Friday, May 29th (official as in legal.) We performed our ceremonial wedding in Egypt on Nov. 17, 2007. What I am excited about - does this mean I get two anniversary days??!! hahahahahaa.We went to the mosque - me with a big boot on my leg for the broken ankle - and we performed 4 functions:1. I had to ask him to marry me. Then Ashraq Tafique ask Yasser to be my husband. I think he was acting as my "Walid" - not sure if I spelled that right -- but that is my "guardian." hahahaha2. He accepted. Then had to give me money. (My favorite part.)3. Then there were witnesses, a really cool guy named Hesham from Morocco and his two nephews (they had to be at least above puberty. LOL) 4. Then Ashraq pronounced us husband and wife - and he signed our license.That's it.During all of this - I was able to also secure a walk team from the Birmingham Islamic Center and they also want to participate as a Fit Friendly company for the American Heart Association. I will share with our staff on Monday.Talk about multi-tasking.Well - that's it.We will have our official reception in July. I am waiting to see if my job is secure. Many of you know about this.Then we will celebrate this loooooong story. Of course all of my friends are invited. Please join the "Yasser and Nicole need your addresses" Group if you have not done so yet. I promise to invite as many of you as possible. It will be in Macon, Georgia.Love all of you - Ciao .. or now, I guess I should say - Salam!We will have a party

Then - we decided on August 8th...

Arabian Nights - yes, that is the theme for my "reception/party" to my arab. LOL Or Egyptian..I am super excited. In order to make this happen "properly" - I have pushed it back to August(? possibly the 8th) Reason? - We have to go through the adjustment of status fiasco in July and I just don't want to be torn away from planning a super exciting party.It will be back home - in Macon, Ga. (About 3.5 hrs rom Bham - 4 with traffic) My mother is the President of the Middle Georgia Art Associaiton and I asked her could we use the gallery. She is securing it as we speak.We will transform the gallery into a "Far Away" land with Middle Eastern touches. Everyone will get to enjoy egyptian food (amoung a few other VERY cool surprises.) I do have some friends who are belly dancers .. I am wondering... if I paid for their hotel room.. hmmm...Okay - if any of you are still serious about coming - please join the "Yasser & Nicole Need your addresses" group. You can find it on my page under groups.Due to capacity - I will have to limit the number to 75.I believe we will go register within the next week or so. (Someplace fun - not stuffy. No need for china, already have plenty!)SOOOO excited. Can't wait to see everyone!Nicole & YasserPS - I am needing my "girls" to help me make this work!!! Look - I did not have any bride's maids or crappy dresses for you guys to buy - come on.. help me throw a party!!

Feb 09 - Historical Happy document

Here is a simple list of things/people/places/events that make me smile.

My Happy List:

1. God. Yes, I must say this first. My complete well being and peace comes strictly from God. That means.. the following will be the people/places/items he has put in my life to make me smile:1. Yasser. I am beyond in love with this man. There are simply no words for our connection. Just thinking about him makes me SMILE. When I talk about him - I SMILE. Imagine how I will be once we are together - side by side again - WOW.

2. The sun shining when I wake up. I LOVE to wake up to bright light (natural) in my home. That is why I chose white sheets, with a white comforter - I love to feel like I am waking up on a cloud - soooo soft, and bright!

3. When my cat Lestat goes into predator mode. He is such a little vampire - and adorable. I love the fact he was the last kitten picked out of a litter- not the fluffy cutey kind - just a cat's cat.

4. The dragon, aka Autumn. Autumn is my niece and she cracks me up. I love to make her "hiss" like a dragon. It makes me laugh.

5. Sitting by the beach. How can you not smile when you hear the waves crashing into the sand - or the sea gulls swooping by. I LOVE it.

6. Finishing a really good book. Man - I love the sense of accomplishment, and the journey and the inspiration from it all.

7. Dancing - and for now, my Flamenco Class. Everytime we attempt something really hard, and we are dancing, and caught up in the music and moves - it is such a wonderful feeling.

8. The little man who sits on the corner of Lorna & Rocky Ridge. He apparently is working for Little Cesear's Pizza - but no matter, rain or shine, he is in his wheel chair, holding up his sign and always singing a song to himself. He brings a smile to my face everytime. He just exudes happiness.

9. The color pink. The color light blue. The color lime green.

10. Karaoke singers. I cannot help but laugh and sing along.

11. When someone pays me a genuine compliment. The key word is in that sentence..

12. One glass of wine. Always brings a smile to my face.

13. When people genuinely understand me. You either get my humor or you don't - I love to realize I have a REAL connection with someone.

14. When Yasser says "HABIBI!" really high

15. When Islam laughs

16. When Crystal chuckles

17. When Lynn gets mad and says EVERYTHING with a smile. LOL

18. When Keli does her little happy pose.

19. When friends leave really great comments or send me really sweet messages.20. When Telisa does her "cheerleading" head shake.

21. When I reconnect with an old friend.

22. When I pray about something so deeply - then go to mass, and the priest gives his homily and it speaks directly to me

.23. When Telisa puts things in perspective for me.

24. When Dave used to say "Chello!"

25. When I think of my dear long gone friends - Ashley and Mike

26. When I think of Laura trying to teach me the "running man" in high school. LOL

27. Anytime Yasser smiles at me.. I BEAM!!!

28. When people seem honestly happy to see me!29. Getting my hair styled. I LOVE a day at the salon!

30. Getting dressed up and going somewhere!!!

31. Parties.

32. Balloons

33. Fireworks

34. Boats. Put me in or near the water and I am smiling!!

35. Going to the movies

36. Receiving catalogesand finally - knowing I can make someone's day a little brighter always puts a smile on my face!

It's Virtual Crusade..

I had the most interesting conversation this week. A dear friend, God love her, ask me how I could agree to marry a man who is muslim.

I smiled and asked what did she mean by this? She said - aren't you concerned about committing your life to a man who does not believe in anything that you believe in?I took a deep breathe and realized- this is a question I will be asked at least one million times in my lifetime.I thought, maybe - just maybe, I can help shed some light on this very controversial subject.

Perhaps if you take the time to see the similarities between the two, as well as the differences, perhaps you can simply say - Oh, ... now I see. There is no one trying to convince one person of changing their view. We are all God's children. I would prefer people had the facts - and walk away informed, versus scared and ignorant.

Many blessings - and enjoy!!

Meaning of our names:Christianity - Believer in Christ (a Greek word meaning Messiah).Islam - Submission to the will of God.

Name of a believer: Christian. Muslim.

Date of founding:Christianity- circa 30 CE. Islam - 622 CE.

Name of founder(s): Christianity -Yeshua of Nazareth (aka Jesus Christ, & Paul. )Islam - Most religious historians credit Muhammad as the founder. However, Muslims generally regard Islam as dating back to the time of creation Internal divisions:

Christianity - Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, Protestant, and others. Islam - Shi'ite, Sunni, Sufi. Sufi is a mystical tradition

Concept of deity: Chrisitinas -Most believe in the Trinity; three persons in one Godhead: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Islam - God (Allah) is one and indivisible. They believe in a strict monotheism. "Allah" means God in Arabic.

Status of Yeshua of Nazareth (Jesus Christ): Christians - Generally considered the Son of God, worshiped as God; part of the Trinity.Islam - Very highly respected as the second-last prophet.

Birth of Yeshua: Christians - Conservatives: virgin conception. Liberals: conventional birth. Islam - Virgin conception.

Death of Yeshua: Chrisitans -Executed by Roman Army circa 30 CE. Islam - Was not killed, crucified, or suffered death. Muslims believe that he ascended alive into heaven.

Yeshua's location -Christians - Ascended into Heaven Islam - Ascended into Heaven Identity of "another helper" or "comforter" Christians -* Holy Spirit Islam - Muhammad

Second coming of Jesus Christians - Conservatives: expect in near future. Liberals: varied. Islam - Anticipate the second coming in the future.

Status of Adam: Christians - Disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. Islam - Free from all major sins and faults. Some regard him as a prophet.

Main holy book: Christians - Bible Islam - Qur'an

Original languages:Christians - Hebrew, Aramaic, GreekIslam - Arabic.

Status of the holy book: Christians-Conservatives: the inerrant Word of God.Liberals: a historical spiritual document. Islam: God's word and final revelation, dictated by angel Gabriel.

Additional guidance:Christians - Writings of the leaders of the early Church.For Roman Catholics: church tradition.

Islam - The Hadith -- sayings of Muhammad .

Ethic of reciprocity (Golden rule): Christians - "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." Matthew 7:12

Islam - "Not one of you is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself."

Fourth Hadith of an-Nawawi 13

A baby's status at birth Various views.Christianity - One is that a baby is born with a sin nature, separated from God. God needs to grant grace so that he may be saved.Islam - All babies are a born in a pure state of submission to Allah. However, as they mature they are often taught other beliefs by their parents and their culture.

Life after death: Christianity - Either Heaven or Hell. Catholics believe in Purgatory as a third state. Islam - Heaven or Hell.

Basis of determining destination after death: Christianity - There is no consensus in Christianity. Different faith groups hold

Various diverse beliefs: trusting Jesus as Lord and Savior, good works, church sacraments, baptism, avoiding certain actions.

Islam - Once they reach puberty, his/her account of deeds is opened in Paradise. To attain paradise, at death, their good deeds (helping others, testifying to the truth of God, leading a virtuous life) must outweigh their evil deeds.

Confessing sins:Christianity - Roman Catholic: to God or Jesus, either directly or through a priest; Others: to God or Jesus Islam -To Allah

Probably the most misunderstood term:

Christianity - Immaculate Conception: Roman Catholics believe that the conception of the Virgin Mary, circa 20 BCE, was without sin. Many incorrectly relate it to Yeshua's' conception.

Islam - Jihad: internal, personal struggle towards the attainment of a noble goal. Many incorrectly equate it to "holy war."

Current interpretation of the Holy Book:Christianity - Ranges from statements of the Pope in Roman Catholicism to resolutions at conventions among Protestants. Learned scholars in various countries. Islam - There is no single spokesperson or authoritative group.

Name of worship center:Christianity - Church, cathedral. Islam - Mosque.

Main worship: Christianity - Sunday; Saturday for some.Islam - Friday.

Church and state: Christianity - Largely considered separate. Most Christian countries are democracies Integrated. Islam - Most Muslim countries are dictatorships with restricted human rights.

Use of statues:Christianity - Common in some denominations Islam - Absolutely forbidden. Considered a very serious form of idolatry.

Main holy days: Most Christians celebrate at least Christmas, Easter, and associated holy days. Islam - Ashura; Mawlid; lunar month of Ramadan; Eid al-Fitr; Eid al-Adha.

Most misunderstood practice: Christianity -The sacrifice of the Mass, a Roman Catholic ritual. Some Native Americans and others interpreted it as a form of ritual cannibalism.I hope that helps!!!

Faith - now.. that's a tough one..

So - an old friend of mine from high school posted a Facebook status that asked:"Take the time today to evaluate your walk with Jesus. Is it just for His blessings? Do you worship Him in the good and the bad? Is it based off of tradition or a programmed way of serving Him? Is it religion or relationship?"

Wow.I thought to myself, yes - yes - yes and yes.

I think I need to go a little deeper.Is it just for his blessings? Good heavens - more often than not. That must be my more selfish side, always wanting something. Needing validation. Craving reward. Not sure where that came from or why. I often wonder what happened to me through out my childhood that would make me want receive "reward." I kind of feel the same way when it deals with my religious blessings. I find that when I perform (note I used the word perform) a good deed, I tend to look upward and expect something in return. I found this: "Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly." (NKJ)

Yikes.The next question my friend asked was - Do you worship Him in the good and the bad?When things are bad (and they often are - *remember I can be quite dramatic at times) I definitely turn my face toward God. Definitely Definitely Definitely. Again - I am asking for a favor. Asking God - why oh why? Then I feel sorry for myself, then I feel a resolution. Right or wrong - it's what happens.The good thing from that - I have a very open dialogue with God.Now when things are good (and they often are *again - I am a bit dramatic) I tend to be sooo wrapped up in myself and my happiness. I will from time to time look upward and say - THANK YOU SOOO MUCH. And I do mean it. I am grateful and I feel blessed. But then I go right back to doing what I normally do.I found this: Luke 6:46-49 Why do you call me, "Lord, Lord," and not do what l say ? l will show you what people are like who come to me and hear my words and put them into practice. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When the flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But those who hear my Words and do not put them into practice are like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.

Yikes. But I then ask myself - do I have a strong foundation or am I on the ground with temporary roots?The next question she asked : Is it based off of tradition or a programmed way of serving Him?A little of both I believe. I am catholic. Tradition is the key. I like tradition. I like knowing I am a part of something that has lasted for centuries. I found this:"Then Jesus approached and said to them, 'All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.' " Matthew 28:18-20

Jesus commanded the Apostles to go forth and teach, not go forth and distribute Bibles and let the people figure it out for themselves. Every time I think about the different approaches to faith, I think about the widely used phrase "lost sheep." How frightening it must be to be handed a Bible and expected to understand it. It would be hard for me to follow someone's idea of what the scripture says by someone who was born centuries after Christ and the apostles. So - I see tradition as good and oral tradition as good.

The last quesiton she asked was: Is it religion or relationship?"I would say both. My religious dogma follows the faith of The Roman Catholic Church. My relationship began the day I understood who Christ was. I was lucky enough to be brought up in the faith, and never experienced a day in this world without Christian influence. I never had to "find" Jesus. He was always there - as far as I am concerned. Now did I ever question my faith? Sure. And I think anyone who does not take a good long look at why they believe what they believe or feel the way they do are afraid of the answer.I did. I do. I am learning.Thanks Stephanie for letting me ask these questions of myself. Hmmm..

Happiness is relative - July 16, 2009

This morning I simply felt like writing a note. Honestly, I have nothing of major interest to share. I just felt like writing.

My life is quite normal and quiet these days. I get up. I make coffee. I take a shower. I gobble up some turkey bacon. I drive to work. I work. I run a few errands. I attend volunteer type activities and fundraisers. I call friends. I visit friends. I cook dinner. I watch tons of movies. I go and see a band or two from time to time. I spend time with Yasser.Life is finally in order.

Thank God!

I still get annoyed very easily. It is a curse of mine. I have very little patience. Yasser said something very interesting the other day - he noted that when I want to be nice, he says I am one of the nicest people you will ever meet. Then he added, but when I want to be rude - he says I am the rudest person you will ever meet. LOL.

Bless his heart. He gets to live with this.It is always interesting to learn what other people's perception of you are. If I could have a little "crawl" that would float across my forehead that would state what I was thinking, I am sure everyone would understand me so much better. ;-)Which brought me to the next thought - Nicole 101.

Yes. I think I should come with an instruction manual. Once it is read, you should sign the bottom and get it notarized that you understand why I do what I do.So I have decided to come up with the top ten ways to make me happy and sad.

Enjoy this ridiculous Top Ten List:


1. Smiles. Smiles go a looooong way with me.

2. Make eye contact. Let me see that you are listening and paying attention.

3. Actively engage in conversation with me.

4. Be in pursuit of pleasure. (Meaning - you are up for a cup of coffee, or a quick stroll at the mall, or let's throw in a movie. I like to have fun. So - be willing to have fun.)

5. Show compassion. In general. I like when people care. Apathy is boring.

6. Have a belief system.

7. Be fascinated with the world around you.


9. Be open to change.

10. Spontaneity is key!


1. To be disagreeable. Always.

2. To be a "one upper."

3. To be self absorbed in conversation.

4. To offer too much advice.

5. To be ignorant. If you don't know, that's fine. But don't form an opinion without at least trying to get some facts.

6. Don't hurt animals.

7. Don't push your beliefs or needs on me.

8. Don't let your kids run crazy through my house. LOL

9. Do not assume you know me.

10. Do not patronize me.

I guess that would conclude this silly little note. Just felt like writing. About nothing.. really. Have a great day!!

Let's try this again

I am venturing back into the world of blogging. How many times have I "re-worked" a blog - I have no idea! This time, I am back.. and I am taking it much more seriously. I happen to have two other areas where I share my thoughts. 1. - Facebook. I tend to post random vents, surveys and fun little lyrical pieces. Nothing too serious. I have many friends on Facebook - and I seriously have to screen and filter what I put on there. 2. Myspace - yes, I went back to Myspace after a 1.5 year hiatus. I figured, now that everyone transferred to Facebook, I would have a private little corner of the net where I could be creative and post fun items. (Unlike the option with Facebook.) I also think it is easier to randomly make friends from all over the world - with no questions asked. Facebook - you just don't do that. 3. Then I have this - blogspot. I have decided to use this site as a place to keep a personal "column" of sorts. My views on life and what not. Myspace, is more like my personal journal. Facebook is just a place for comments.

So - here I am.

The topic I want to talk about today is this - Turning fountains various colors. Why in the world do we get so excited when we see water dyed? What do we giggle over florescent colored martinis? Why do we get giddy when rivers are dyed for a festival?

Today - paid to have the fountain in Linn Park turned green. Now, it wasn't a random thing I did - I actually had a Heart Walk there. Well.. not me alone - but my team at AHA. A couple of weeks ago, I was walking thru the park at lunch, and Yasser and I noticed it was turned pink for Breast Cancer Awareness. Since our cause is "green" - I decided it just HAD to be green.

Now - why in the world is this necessary. One easy answer - it gives people something to talk about. Simple as that. But for me - it's more than that - I get EXCITED when I see items dyed. I love the way an apple martini glows on the counter of a bar. I love to see snow cones and the various syrups poured on them - I think a pitcher of pink lemonade is just the cutest thing since ballet slippers.


I guess it's the little girl in me. I was always drawn to color. Still am. I am afraid that if I were given a carte blanche to decorate as I wanted, I am sure my home would look like something from rainbow brites closet.


Until next time...


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