Happiness + a Memoir

• 30 April 2012



A few nights ago, as I sauteed a melange of vegetables in a bath of coconut milk (as I believe Stephanie has done in her own home), I thought about the two hours of reading I'd snuck in earlier that day.  Reading that involved Nie Nie's new book, Heaven Is Here.  Instead of playing email catch-up, writing, editing images, photographing, cooking, baking or a myriad of other things, I dropped everything because quite honestly, I couldn't put down her book.  I found it addictive, in the most positive sense.  It's been a long time since I allowed reading to trump productivity (although reading has always been a love of mine), but I felt like the words written on those pages were changing my life in a subtle and sincere way.  And I couldn't stop thinking about how personal she was and how grateful I was for that openness.

You see, Stephanie probably knows more about true happiness than most of us.  Not just because she's found happiness in her new found circumstances, but also because she was a happy, grateful person before her accident. There was a firm foundation in play before her life so drastically changed--one based on love, conviction and personal spirituality.  This memoir is a vivid reminder that although our trials change us (whether inside or out...or both), we are ultimately still the same person inside...just a lot stronger.  Sometimes it's hard to find ourselves again, amidst drastically different circumstances, but it is possible.



I bet that most of think about the subject of happiness a lot.  How to have it...what it feels like...when it will come...and where it comes from.  What Stephanie teaches us, page by page, chapter by chapter, is that happiness is a personal choice.  Like many of you, I've been reading Stephanie's blog for years; and the words she's written there have changed me for the better.  But let me tell you, this book delved far deeper into her story and I cannot help but feel that a memoir this personal is an absolute treasure that we can divide amongst ourselves; and moreover, it's a beautiful, beautiful love story. 

In college, my book club read Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner.  It remains one of my all-time favorite books, not because of action-packed pages (of which it has none), but because of the subtle nuances and life lessons woven into the story.  The beauty of reading Crossing to Safety is that everyone who reads it receives a different impression; as if each person learns what they personally need at that time in their lives.  I imagine Steph's book to be the same.  Each of us will learn a different, but very important lesson.  One that will shape us into a lovelier person--on the onside where it really counts.

p.s.  I chuckle every time I think about Stephanie's shirt-on-backwards-in-the-desert moment.  Read it and you'll know what I mean :)

image 1 - book cover  /  image 2 - Meikel Reece via Alice Lane  /  image 3 - favorite from Nie's archives

17 comments:

Mrs. Cropper said...

Well said, Stephanie!
I, too, have followed her blog for years, and yet have been amazed at how much more she shares in the book. There are so many themes in the book that are running through my mind daily--beauty, love, humility, faith...
She is inspiring, to say the least.

Tara Celeste said...

I just picked up the book from my library this morning and can't wait to get started!

Erin said...

Crossing to Safety is one of my all time favorites too for the same reasons you mentioned. I think of it again and again in my life because of the wisdom I find in its pages. Now to find the time to read Stephanie's book too.

Carrie said...

I adored this book--and frankly was a bit hesitant of reading it as first because the one part I have always (maybe been envious of?) is her blissful description of life before her accident. Previously there has not been much of a mention of chaos--but instead the absolute joy of motherhood and wifehood...a fairytale life as she called it. And YET--I follow her regularly because you are right-she had and still has so much of a foundation of happiness which makes her outlook contagious and a definite example. My perspective on life and my role as a Mother has been changed with those pages. I am truly grateful :)

Amber said...

I just finished the book too. I agree, it was life changing for me as well... but not subtly. It really was life changing in a big way. I was so happy when she had her healthy baby Charlotte last month too! Now I must go look up Crossing to Safety. Thanks!

tam said...

Now Steph...you know that Crossing to Safety is my all time favorite book. So you essentially just talked me into reading Nie's memoir. Thanks, Tam

stephmodo said...

I'm happy to hear you're all "in"! I can't imagine you not being grateful to have read it--I'd love to hear your thoughts afterwards too!

Lori Cartwright said...

Planning on reading Stephanie's book soon, but just finished Crossing to Safety for about the 10th time. One of my all-time favorite books for so many reasons!

I passed Crossing to Safety on to my sister last week, and my daughter is loaning me Stephanie's book. Sharing favorite books is the best!

Sally@Enlightenment for the Sleepy said...

I loved Nienie's book and read it in one sitting. I managed to hold the tears back until page 291 then I just couldn't stop them any longer! I've been recommending it to everyone, sally xx

Tammy H. said...

I uploaded it on my reader Friday and finished it by Sunday. I've told all my friends about it and encouraged them to read it, they wouldn't regret it. My new motto, what would Steph Nielson do? I just love her!

Amy said...

your post completely echoes how I feel about the book. I check three blogs every day, hers, yours, and design mom. It's a such a great book, and I too had difficulty putting it down!

Noodle said...

I love the detail Stephanie put in this book - much more than was on her blog, in terms of the accident, how she was raised, etc. I'm so grateful that she shared those details with us, and I'm totally happy that I bought her book.
My daughters are reading and loving it, too. We've all been following Steph's blog for years, and enjoyed motherhood more as a result. She is so unapologetic about it, too!
When I read that Stephanie had a healthy baby Charlotte, I too, was thrilled, and I went yahoo-ing to my husband, "Nie Nie had her baby! Nie Nie had her baby!" Like the crazy woman that I am. :)

momandsons said...

Crossing to Safety has stuck with me years after reading it. A Tree Grow's in Brookyln is also one of the books that makes me think.

Sheila Vestal, Florida said...

I just finished your book and I have to tell you that I just couldn't put it down, I used to be a mormon and I know how much faith was in your recovery. You and your family are amazing people and you never waivered in your faith. God is good and thankyou for sharing your life, it is truely an inspiration to all who read it.

Sheila from Florida

Kristen Duke Photography said...

I am reading it myself and loving every second...crying every other page...laughing at her raw candor. Grateful she has shared her heart, and surprised there is so much content that she never shared on her blog before. Hopped over here from Stephanie's link.

Reb said...

Beautifully written post Steph and just what I needed to read tonight. I definitely need to pick up a copy of her book - I think it would be particularly relevant right now.

And - of course - love the reference to reading Crossing to Safety all those years ago. It's still my favorite book ... reading it is always like catching up with an old friend. Speaking of old friends, wish I could catch up with you. Will call soon ...

xoxo

Bryson.. Melissa.. BryLee said...

I honestly could not put this book down. As i read this book TEARS were streaming down my face. She is truly an amazing remarkable woman. I have seen her countless times at cafe rio and i always feel star struck and to scared to talk to her. FINALLY i saw her at sunflower market and i walked passed and she had a glow and the sweetest smile you have ever seen. The spirit radiated from her. I bought her some huge sunflowers and i told her that i loved her! When i walked back to my car i started bawling and felt like a fool... This book is seriously amazing. I have told everyone to get this book. Once you start reading you cant put it down. I slept with my kids for 3 nights i kissed and hugged them, and thanked my heavenly father for them. It makes you want to be a better person, mother, wife ETC.....

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