325. Wonder Woman

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Today’s blob is just in time for the birthday of my niece-in-law Nicole Elizabeth (Crook) Gorman.  Everybody calls her Niki. She’s married to my nephew Michael and they live in Phoenix, Arizona with their 15 year old daughter Kaitlyn.

Niki used to be a full-time stay-at-home mom, but after observing her support at my niece Beth’s wedding to Bob Brown, her mother-in-law Peggy, my sister Joan and I were all convinced that she would make a first-class wedding planner, a political campaign organizer, or chairman of the next international Olympics.  In other words, something that would exploit her organizational skills. Niki makes stuff like that look easy.

She didn’t take us up on any of that, though, and then – in 2007 something really awful happened to her.  You can read more about it on Blog 185 called Wonder Girl. In brief,  though, Michael and Kaitlyn were able to save Niki’s life but she nearly died anyway following a harrowing incident.  

The best part of a near-death experience is the “near” part.  A regular death experience is to be avoided at all costs.  I’ve never had either kind, but if I had to pick, I would definitely choose the former. 

A near death experience is never found listed on anyone’s bucket list but maybe it should be.  When it comes to monumental life-changing moments, it surely dwarfs parachuting out of an airplane or appearing on Jeopardy.  

I’ve read that it’s not uncommon for near-death escapees to start new ventures or change their lives in big ways after their breathless brush with eternity.  A few years ago, I worked with a video producer who perfectly underscores that phenomenon.  She and her husband were involved in a horrible auto accident. Both survived, but only barely, and only after each had gone through the whole “white light” near-death scene.

Previous to the accident, both had been highly-paid Wall Street lawyers (are there any other kind?)  After the accident, though, both threw aside their lucrative careers, and decided to try for jobs doing work they really wanted to do – she as a video producer and he as a licensed masseuse. 

It happened to Niki, too. Her near-fatal crisis happened January of that year.  In June, she decided to go to college. First she spent two years at a community college. Niki can’t drive, and because there was no public transportation in Goodyear, Arizona where they lived at the time, she had to bike or walk miles to school every day.

After she received her associates degree, the family moved to Phoenix so she could be closer to Arizona State University.  On May 14th of this year, she graduated from the university Summa Cum Laude with a dual degree in elementary education and special Ed.

School starts early in Phoenix. On Monday, Niki stepped in front of her first grade class for the first time.  Michael said, “She loves teaching so much, she would probably do it for free.  It is what she has wanted to do since I first met her.  Her near death experience was the catalyst she needed to make it happen.”

The saying “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” definitely applies here. And it looks like Niki’s near death crisis showed her the way.

On Kaitlyn’s birthday blob, I referred to her as “Wonder Girl”. That’s because she was born and bred by Wonder Woman and Wonder Man.

So here’s to you, Wonder Woman.  Happy Birthday!

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One Response to 325. Wonder Woman

  1. Linda Lewis says:

    What an inspiring story. The world needs teachers so full of love. To think of all the children’s lives she will change.
    I just got back from Zambia and I asked to go visit a school. We visited one where the teachers were volunteers and wrote on the cement wall that had just a coat of paint. In asking what supplies they needed, the head master said chalk, books, pencils and essay books for the children. These children came in tattered clothes, but very clean. Some had shoes. They had to walk miles and they had to be very alert and listen and watch, as they shared their pathways with lions, leopards, elephants, giraffes and baboons. This particular school had not been acknowledged by the government yet, so were dependent on the community. The building had no window panes or doors. But, the children were precious, happy and eager to learn. One lesson we observed was the teaching of time, 12:15. They were taught by ability, not necessarily grade level. When we left, school was over, so they gathered and sang a song with numbers. They are taught English in school. Our guide said the children love school because they are happy there. Some do not like to leave, because when they go home, they are beaten. So many children are orphans and are being raised by aunts and uncles, who also have big families. Our guide wants to build an orphanage in his village. He was orphaned when he was 10 and was mistreated by his aunt’s husband. He wants a place for children to be happy outside of school. I asked him and he said it would take about $1,500.00 to build the orphanage because they could make their own bricks and morter.
    We have much to be grateful for!

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