My Journey… Part 1

I am a wife to a husband created just for me, a family member of a somewhat crazy, totally fun, overly open, completely selfless family who loves me so much, a daughter of two loving parents, a social worker who loves people, a friend of some of the best people in the world, a Christian who loves God and is so thankful for what He has done for me, a photographer, an overcomer of trauma and illness, and an advocate for those who need it!

I was born in Cincinnati to two parents who loved me very much. Unfortunately, they were divorced when I was very young and I didn’t have much of a relationship with my dad again until my late teen years. I had a rare illness when I was younger which led to lots of fear, lots of medical treatments and ultimately a diagnosis and use of MEGA steroids (resulting in returning to 5th grade at 200+ pounds.) My family loved me very much and we were very rich in some ways, but not financially. I went to a private school where most everyone else was rich financially and I think I was the only one from a “broken home.” My uniforms looked different, my shoes were the K-mart brand, I was chunky and I didn’t have friends. What I did have was an amazing mother who loved me, protected me and advocated for me. I also had opportunities at this school to grow academically and be challenged and I remember loving academics. I also had a loving extended family who made sure I had a village to help raise me.

In 1992, we moved from Ohio to Arizona and I started public school for the first time. It was an adjustment, but overall it was a great change. There were more kids like me. Not everyone had money or a “perfect life” I had to find my way and figure out what friends I would migrate towards and I finally HAD friends. I went through some tough times like most kids do in high school. I was trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted. I hung out with the kids that were little on the fringe at times, but was always torn because school was so important to me. I loved putting energy into school work and I was on my way for an academic scholarship. See, I am a planner. I had a 6-year plan and it included getting a scholarship to Arizona State University. Well, unfortunately in my Junior year of high school, while taking honors classes and wanting to graduate as soon as possible, I had another health scare. Another RARE illness.

More doctors, more hospital stays and more guesses at a diagnosis. Until, finally, they diagnosed me and treated me correctly. I was told it was a chronic illness and would have to undergo more spinal taps and maybe have a shunt put in. They didn’t know what caused it, but they were sure it wasn’t curable. I missed a lot of school and when I tried to go back to school, I was so behind. In school, math and science really build on concepts week to week and after missing months, I felt like I had to start over. So, I consulted my guidance counselor, considered my options and talked to my mom. We decided I would take the GED test and see if I got a high enough score to go right to ASU. It wasn’t my plan. I wanted to graduate in the top of my class, but I also didn’t want to graduate late. This would give me a chance to graduate early. So I did. I received my score, “dropped out” of high school and enrolled in community college. My health was improving and my symptoms never returned. I never had to have another spinal tap or any more procedures.

College was a journey in and of itself. I didn’t know what I wanted to be and to make a long story short, I ended up studying Social Work and LOVING it! I graduated from ASU in 2002 with my Bachelors Degree. Then, I spent a semester in Mexico learning Spanish at the University there. Around that time, I entered into an abusive relationship. I don’t talk much about this, especially publicly because until now I was so ashamed that me, a social worker, an educated woman with a loving family, would stay in a relationship for 3 LONG years of HELL. Thankfully, I got out of this relationship and got into counseling.

In late 2005, I met the man of my dreams and fell in love. We were engaged shortly after and married in in 2006. I can’t believe that we just celebrated our 10-year wedding anniversary. I wish I could say that it has been all amazing since then, but as we began our relationship, I had another health scare. This time it shook me to my core. I knew something was off for almost 2 years before it got really bad. During that time, I tried medication, different doctors, even therapy. I thought I was losing it! By 2007, as a newlywed, I was falling apart.

And that is where my journey to find health and wellness really began. Stay tuned to hear more about my journey, what I learned, what was hard, what I wish I would have known and all the fun things life entailed over the last 10+ years.

Thank you so much for reading.

24 thoughts on “My Journey… Part 1

  1. Jacqueline Oliver (Jackie) says:

    Nicci, you are a beautiful person and I can’t wait to hear more of your story about “you”. God bless you!

  2. Soooo incredibly proud of you. Thank you for being love, hope and LIGHT to SO many of us. I love you and look forward to you peeling back the difficult layers that make you such an incredible woman!!

  3. Mary says:

    Kudos to you, my friend, for willing to be vulnerable so you can help others. You are an amazing woman and I look forward to reading more of your posts. BTW you are a great writer. Thanks for being transparent. Makes me love you even more Nick at Night! xoxoxox

    • Nicci says:

      Mary, thank you! you have inspired me by your vulnerability and humility. I thank you for your kind words and love you so much!

  4. Claudia says:

    You are an inspiration Nicci! I feel so blessed to have you as my friend and for your journey because you have helped me so much in mine. Every little and big thing that we go through make us who we are now and you are amazing! I miss u with all my heart!! Thank you, thank you and millones de gracias por tu amistad! God has blessed me with you in my life 🌟. Love you

    • Oh, my dear Claudita…I love you! Gracias for tu amistad y amor en mi vida. Me ha ayudado mucho también. God so blessed me when you entered my life.

  5. Susan Bader says:

    Nicci – We all have a story and sometimes we never know what another person’s journey is. We simply must be kinder and gentler with others. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. I look forward to reading more. You are an inspiration and I love and miss you. We need to get together sometime. Take care you. ❤️

  6. Julie Spezzano says:

    Wow, incredible! I never knew. I am now facing some health challenges myself. Looking forward to reading more about yours as I face mine own.

  7. Christina O'Donnell says:

    This is wonderful Nicci! I enjoyed reading about you being so real. You see, sometimes the best counselor’s and social workers are those that have a story as well and something they themselves have been through to understand what others are going through at the here and now. That’s what makes it more real and humbling to help them through their times. Education doesn’t provide your experience in life. Never be scared to tell of your story…you never know who you may be saving without you even knowing, and look how far you’ve come and changed through it. 🙂

    • Christina, I totally agree. our stories and experiences makes us who we are. I truly feel for others as I know what it is like to walk through some really hard times. Thank you so much for your kind words. I so appreciate when others are real and vulnerable and I am working on being open about the hard stuff 🙂

  8. Erin S says:

    Nicci you’re so brave to open up and tell your story! I’m so glad to know you and can’t wait to hear more of your story.

  9. Liz Roehr says:

    Nicci, thank you so much for having the courage, and taking the time to share your life with us! You are such an amazing woman! I’m so grateful to have this chance to learn from you! We each have our own journey in life and hopefully we learn along the way, but it is a rare few who are willing to share their insights and amazing discoveries with others. Thank you! Love you so much!

    • Liz, thank you so much for your kind words. I totally learn from other’s insights and I am so humbled to share a little of my story.You are one of the warmest, kindest women I have ever met…
      Love you!!!

      • Jill Crammer says:

        I just saw your story on facebook. Thank U for sharing this. I know it’s healing as you write and also for healing for many who will read it and connect and receive hope and help. You are such a joy to those around you. A truly beautiful person. Love u❤️

        • Thank you so much for your kind words. It has been quite a journey and I want to share with others that they are not alone and there is hope. I love you so so much!!

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