#wcw | Nicole Lender


Nicole truly is my woman crush.  I met her for the first time when she came to our Turning Tides retreat.  I knew a little bit about her story from Christy, who photographed her wedding…and I just knew I liked her already.  Throughout that week we spent early mornings over coffee talking about life.  At the time…her husband, Ronnie, was deployed to Iraq and I remember just being in awe of her.  She would talk about what they’ve been through and what it was like to go for so long without him and my heart literally ached for her.  This girl…who is like a ray of sunshine to be around…so positive and full of life…was dealing with something so huge and life altering yet bringing such a brave face to military wives everywhere.  There was a time when she was talking to some of the girls and I remember thinking…I would rather get cancer 10 times then live a year without Gary.  And in that moment, Nicole became my hero.  🙂


She is one of the sweetest, most genuine…truly authentic people I know.  For the last few years I have been obsessed with following along with her life because even on the saddest days…it’s full of so much joy.  Nicole is an incredible wife…one who has dealt with more in their short marriage than most wives deal with in a lifetime.  She is brave and supportive and picks the people up around her.  She is an incredible photographer, an amazing friend…and one kick-ass woman.





I’d say there are approximately twelve Reese’s wrappers in the backseat of my car at any given time.


I have a mole on my cheek that my close friends and family say is something that is beautiful about me.  I’ve went to the dermatologist countless times to get it removed, but I always end up backing out.


I’ve been skunked.  Literally.  A skunk sprayed me point blank.  Instead of going on a date, I had to give myself a tomato bath.


I say fuck.  A lot.  It disappoints my parents.


I have a really rad scar on my hand that looks like a Harry Potter lightning bolt.  I pulled the cord of my mom’s hot curling iron when I was a year old and it fell on my hand.  I was made fun of for it all throughout middle school but I thank my mom for an awesome scar because it makes me unique.  (Don’t try this at home, kids.)


I’ve gained fifty pounds since I started college. Every day is Monday for me – I make up every possible excuse to not eat healthier and exercise more.


I have a lot of friends on social media scattered all over the world, yet I feel extremely alone in my own city.


I drink wine like it’s water.


I don’t have a close relationship with my brother and that has bothered me for a long time.  I fear it will always feel this distant.


I feel like people look down on me when I tell them I don’t have more education than an associate’s degree.


One of my biggest failures in life is having let go of those who loved me deeply.


My relationship with my husband prior to getting married was saved when the only method of communication for five months was handwritten letters.


While vacationing in California, a bicyclist and I collided head-on while I was driving a rental car. I tried to comprehend what had just happened while shards of glass were scattered everywhere…and for fifteen seconds, I thought I had ended someone’s life.  I still struggle with the thought of this happening to me again whenever I drive anywhere.


Losing Milo, our Shiba Inu puppy, to a heart condition was one of the toughest things I have ever experienced.  His loss put me into a deep phase of distrust – something I had already struggled with for a long time.  I still have trouble believing strangers’ intentions.


People used to make bets on how long my marriage would last.  It hurt me to the core.


I get really offended if people are brutally honest with me.  People say I’m too sensitive but the truth is that I just feel too much.


When my husband joined the Army, I had a longing desire to become a mother.  Financially, we were nowhere near where we needed to be to raise a child, but I constantly nagged him about starting a family.  I think being a military wife and being surround by young wives having babies made me feel like I didn’t have a purpose.  Fast-forward several years. I don’t feel like I would ever be a good mom.


In 2012, I went to the doctor after years of unexplainable chest pain. I was told it was “probably just a pinched nerve.”  I never got a second opinion and the pain still keeps me up at night.


I’ve been cheated on in every relationship I’ve been in.  Another woman became pregnant during one of those times.


For so long, I was constantly pretending to be someone I wasn’t for the sake of having friends who really weren’t good friends at all.


I fear that I will never be able to reach my dream of living next to the ocean.  Every day spent away from it feels like a day wasted.


I’m an over-controlling wife because my husband’s a daredevil and I fear that if I don’t keep him safe something terrible will happen to him.


I feel like I’m drowning in a pool of school loan debt that I’ll never get out of.


I missed my last day of college because my drink was drugged the night before.  My friends kept me safe, but I didn’t wake up until 3:00 PM the following day. I handed in my finals late and received a lower grade, but I never told my teachers what happened because I was too ashamed about it.


I think traveling is one of the best things we can do as humans for our souls, but the economy and our busy work lives keep us from seeing so much of the world.


Being a military wife has made me question so much about our nation’s government and I often worry about what’s to come for our country.


At 19, my husband-then-boyfriend’s father looked me right in the face and told me I would never be successful as a photographer. Five years have passed and I don’t think I will ever consider him my father-in-law.


I don’t live in the present enough and I use my mobile devices as a cop-out from having what would most likely be very meaningful conversations.


I was once seconds from suicide.  I constantly struggle with my anxiety and with the stigma that comes with mental disorders.  I’ve learned over time that it’s okay to ask for help.


At twenty-three, I’d rather stay in the confines of my own home and enjoy time spent with my family (and by family I mean my husband and my fur-kids).  At the end of the day, the only thing you have is the love you share with your family and your friends.  I’ve learned that my perfectionist characteristics created unrealistic and impossible desires for myself for so many years.  Every day I become more and more comfortable with being my truest, authentic self and it is so much more rewarding to be loved so incredibly for the imperfect qualities that make up who I am.  I had never felt more alone in my life than when I was a military wife – and in ways – I am thankful for that.  I hit rock bottom and stuck there in that rut for roughly three years and because of that, the challenges that I am faced with don’t seem so scary.  They don’t seem so impossible and actually… for the first time in my life a lot of my goals are actually beginning to seem achievable.  Regardless of how people perceive me, whether I fail or I succeed, whether I lose the weight that’s keeping me down (literally and figuratively speaking), I am loved and I love others…so fucking much.  (Sorry, mom and dad. I love you.)  What screws us up most in life is the image in our head of how we think it’s supposed to be.  Nothing has held me back more than my own insecurities and unrealistic perceptions of what life should look like.  At the same time, I have so much and so little life to live, and I will make the absolute most of my journey in this life of mine – attempting to live in the moment and taking each day as it comes – whatever they may bring.


#wcw, inspiring woman, women in real life, women who inspire, #wcw series_0001

  • Trish - April 15, 2015 - 10:32 am

    Amazing. I have tears reading this. You are BOTH such brave women. Nicole I admire how you’re allowing yourself to be vulnerable and put your fears out in the open. I imagine it’s a great relief to set them free. You inspire me more than you know. Lauren, wonderful post as always. More people need to know what a light she is in the lives of those who know her.ReplyCancel

    • Nicole Lender - April 15, 2015 - 9:37 pm

      Trish! I miss you so so much! Thank you so much for these kind words. I’m so lucky to have been able to meet you for several days at the lake and have enjoyed following you and your family on my news feed since then! <3ReplyCancel

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *