Tag Archives: Nie nie dialogues

Nie Nie Redux: Reflections on the 20/20 Special

I’ve been getting a bit of traffic for an old story I wrote about Stephanie Nielson, of Nie Nie Dialogues. When I did a news search to see why, I saw a link to a 20/20 story that aired about her last night. So I watched the story. And I hope you can watch it too, if time permits.

Stephanie Nielson survived a plane crash with 80% burns over her body. Her husband, who survived the plane crash as well, was faced with the decision to go back into a massive burning inferno and try to pull out his wife (and die in the process) or remain living for his children (he suffered significant burns as well), a choice no person should be forced to make. He chose not to go back. She made it out of the burning plane on her own, who knows how. What I have always admired about Stephanie, and now her husband as well, is the possession of honesty in the face of their great tragedy. She admits that she felt a terrible sense of abandonment. And yet, with no illusions and in the hard, frozen, iron light of day, she (and he) eventually chose optimism. She forgave him. He accepted her changed physical appearance, transformed by fire. And a real love story for the ages was unveiled.

We all have an idealized way we expect husbands and wives to behave. It’s easy to cast blame and imagine the heroic behavior we would engage in if we were faced with a terrible scenario like the Nielsons. But to forgive someone is quite possibly the most difficult thing in the world. To accept that the outside of our facade is only a glimpse of our true self is also incredibly formidable. To be truly honest with each other is almost excruciating.

So, Nielsons, I am so happy that you have held on to your love. Thank you for showing me what real fairytale love is like.

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Day 18: The Nie Nie Dialogues and the Golden Eggs

In the midst of having a mournful, black streamer-filled pity party for myself after the miscarriage, I discovered the Nie Nie Dialogues.

I’m sure many people have heard of the blog but if you haven’t: Nie Nie is Stephanie Nielson, mother of four, who has had a blog since 2005. Her point-of-view, not much represented in the blogosphere in the early days of mommy blogging, is that every day is a blessing and being a SAHM is a joyful proposition. She’s a Mormon and her religious faith is clearly key to everything she does and believes.

In 2008, she and her husband were in a horrific plane crash that killed their flight instructor and she suffered burns over 80% of her body (including her beautiful face). Her survival was by no means assured, but survive she did and for the rest of her life she will need surgical interventions.

What’s amazing about her story is the way she continued blogging, and how she wrote that her joy of day-to-day living was magnified if anything by what had happened to her. She’s authentic about her struggles and how hard day-to-day life is, but somehow she always manages to find the “golden eggs” life surrounds us with.

What in the world do I mean, “golden eggs”? In some video games, you will click on different scenes or objects in the middle of your quest to reach the goal: the end of the race, or moving on to the next level. In the midst of clicking on a rope or a block, suddenly a golden egg appears and begins to sing and dance. It always startles me, but makes me pause and smile.

Similarly, Nie Nie will often post photos of the simple, silly and sometimes sublime moments that interject themselves into our busy lives. A photo of a tree covered in snow, a child caught climbing on the kitchen counter or a dinner table set for the family to enjoy a special celebration. The post-it notes from her husband telling her he loves her.

When the crash happened, the New York Times ran a story detailing why her narrative was causing such grief with her followers and why people admired her so. Her sister answered this pretty succinctly:

“People don’t understand that of course Stephanie had days where she was crazy and wanted to pull her hair out,” Ms. Kendrick said. “Her relationship with her husband wasn’t perfect. But she chose to focus on the beauty.

“And the more she focused on it, the more she had.”

Words to live by.

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