Tag Archives: in-laws

Lent is still happening! Purpose!

Just now, like just this very minute, I finished my very first official manuscript review as myself. I can’t honestly say it was my first because we all know that grad students do lots and lots of manuscript reviews as their mentor as basically some sort of twisted pre-req for doctor-dom. But this one? Me. And it’s open access, so my name’s going to be all up on it.

I do not even mind a little bit though! I was thoughtful and respectful and I think the paper was really very good. One more to go in the next couple of weeks– and the next one is even more super relevant to me: mammogram utilization in women susceptible to STDs. Ummmm. Someone’s got me pegged!

Also today, an uppity up and muckity muck and so on and so forth called me a “talented people-person” and that was pretty nice. Especially because I’m obviously a super good pseudo-extrovert. Yesss…

Anyway, Lent is still going on regardless of all the things I’ve got going on. And even though I’ve been super bad about telling you about it, Joan and I have still been reflecting daily. It’s just Satan and his temptations, you know, all up in my business! On Friday it was cards and in-laws (so fun though! and me and Marilyn swept the floor with the men in shmear (is that how you spell it? shmeer?)– the second round, anyway), on Saturday it was crafts and The Bachelor (The Bachelor may actually be Satan-sent in a legit way), and on Sunday it was work, work, work. But I got SO much done! So anyway, here we are on Monday, and it’s time to get back to Joan together!

“Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” –Matthew 10:39

Spoiler alert: Joan gets this so right!

“Whatever we do, we do for a purpose larger than ourselves or there is no use doing it at all. The real purpose of our lives is not for ourselves alone. It is to co-create the world. It is to bring the rest of the world to the point of humanity we think ourselves to have achieved. It is when all I care about is my life that I begin to have it seep out of me into a pool of selfishness so deep that I miss the juice of all the life that is around me.” –Joan Chittister

If I force myself to come to the computer every day and pound out a reflection simply because it is lent, I lose the larger purpose. It’s not about Satan’s temptations, for me, I’m not wandering in the desert– I’m living my life, with purpose, and that means sometimes I’m going to miss, and that’s ok.

Here’s the biggest thing, though… I feel like the reasons I missed were so much bigger than the impact of the posts I missed. So much.

We went out for a fish fry on Friday night with my mother- and father-in-law. We hadn’t been to the Belvedere in ages and it was delish! We came back to our place after the fact and had a blast playing a couple hands of cards. A win for the women? Finally? I’d say that’s a higher purpose, eh, Marilyn?

On Saturday, I got together with a lovely friend to catch up on The Bachelor (we’re like waaaaaay behind) and we did a crazy ton of crafts. It was such a blast. That show is CRAY and Emily and I are both Harry Potter obsessed… so it was perfection! We made book wreaths out of Harry Potter books (the little stars from the corner of every page show on ever curl of the wreath) and used the chapter headings with the little illustrations to make tile coasters. Plus, we started some mirrored mason jar vases and made big plans to keep on crafting. Friendship, fun — totally worth it!

And Emily's was even better! ***
And Emily’s was even better! ***

On Sunday, I did work. And I worked hard, but again, it feels so worth it. It feels important, like if we get this grant, we have a very high likelihood of really helping some people in Wisconsin’s northwoods. And that matters to me. It gives me purpose.


I suppose it would be very easy to think of cards, reality tv, and work as vices, temptations, non-worthwhile pursuits, time wasters, etc. But I disagree. Am I rationalizing? Maybe. But Joan suggests that perhaps that’s not the case. And I’m pleased about that.


Anyway, the grant is almost wrapped up, I’ve got time on my next review, Seth is out of town, and the weather is GORGEOUS, so I’ll be back again shortly.

Sunshine, grass, Spring is on its way!!
Sunshine, grass, Spring is on its way!!

In-laws, Awkwardness, and Finding Family

When my husband and I first started dating (many, many moons ago) meeting his family was definitely the scariest thing ever.  EVER.  He was my first serious college boyfriend and it was the first time I ever had to actually meet the parents, because they weren’t people I had grown up knowing.  That made it scary enough, but add to it the fact that we had to drive 4 hours to get there and then stay overnight (no escape if things get awkward!) and I was terrified!

My fears?  Totally founded!  It was every bit as terrifying and awkward as I had it hyped up to be.

(Please, Marilyn, I beg you– keep reading!  It gets better!!!)

But it had nothing to do with them, and everything to do with me.

My in-laws are different from my immediate family in a lot of ways.  Have you seen the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding?  You know the scene when Ian’s parents roll up outside Toula’s parents’ house wearing sweater sets and see the big Greek lawn party, complete with a lamb roasting on a spit in the front yard?  Sort of like that.  (And in the movie that is my life, I’m playing the role of Toula.)

My parents are omg-we’re-so-happy-to-meet-you-tell-me-your-life-story-and-I’ll-share-mine-let-me-take-your-coat-and-get-you-something-to-drink-please-do-sit-down-and-don’t-mind-the-dog kind of people.  That’s what I was used to.  My husband’s parents are also incredible people—they are kind and thoughtful and brilliant and generous and hard-working and truly 100% amazing, but they are reserved.  And that freaked me out.

Because when other people are reserved, it leaves way too much room for me to be awkward.

Let me just illustrate with an example.

Seth met my parents for the first time the night before my cousin’s wedding in Marquette.  We were at my aunt and uncle’s house for a yooper-style dinner,* complete with potato sausage, pastie pies (that’s past-ee, NOT paste-ee, fyi), and venison chili.  As I was snubbing the chili (I do not like venison) my mom leaned over to Seth, my brand-new boyfriend, and said, “Rachel doesn’t eat any vegetables… we don’t know how she poops.”

(Mom, noooooooooo…)

In contrast, Seth’s parents didn’t make a single poop joke the first time I met them.  (And in fact, they may not have made one yet in the eleven years I’ve known them.  Interesting…)

As horrified as I was at the time, my mom’s use of bathroom humor upon first meeting certainly broke the ice right away.  And what could Seth have possibly done that was more awkward than that?  Whew.  That was my comfort zone.  The quiet at Seth’s parents’ just begs a person like me to make an awkward joke.  Or an awkward comment.  Or awkward gestures (omg, what do I do with my haaaands?!).  Or all of the above.

This weekend, I had a lot of time in the car without any other humans (once there was a plant and once there was a dog).  Lots of thinking time.  I spent a lot of that time thinking about the family I’ve since become a part of, despite the initial awkwardness.

On Saturday, I was on my way home from a baby shower for Seth’s cousin.  Seth’s grandma and mom were there along with lots of his aunts and cousins… and it didn’t feel awkward to me at all.  I just felt like I was with family.  And while I recognize that since Seth and I got that fancy piece of paper that says we’re married, they legally are my family, a lot of people don’t ever get to feel that way.  (At least I assume that’s the case… because if they did, there would be very little material for sit-coms.)

On Sunday, I had to bring our pup to the emergency vet just past Mosinee and it was a rather trying ordeal.  I stopped at my in-law’s house on the way back to Marshfield to get her some water so she’d stop panting, and again, no awkwardness.  I stopped in the garage and said hi to my father-in-law (and my sister-in-law, who was wrapped in cardboard painted like an otoscope on the garage floor, but that’s another story for another day…), ran into the house, grabbed an ice cream bucket, filled it with water, and went on my way.

As I headed back toward Marshfield, out of Mosinee and through Halder (love small-town Wisconsin!), I wondered about when I had achieved this level of comfort…  I still remember worrying all those years ago that I would never be accepted, that I would never fit in.  When did things change?  When did they start to like me?  (Or at least get really good at pretending?)

Despite all that time I had to ponder, I still can’t really put my finger on on when exactly it happened.  But what I did realize was that it wasn’t the situation that had changed and it wasn’t Seth’s relatives that changed either.  It was me.  I grew up.  I grew into myself—into my awkwardness, my big hair and big feet, my sense of humor, and I got over a lot of my worries and decided to just be myself.

As myself, I got to know Seth’s family and I adore them, all of them—I love them even, because they are my family too.  I have a second set of parents (complete with love and support– not to mention their rockin’ garden and incredibly handy skills at everything).  A new set of grandparents that come with a farm— and an insane level of unfounded faith in me as they let me drive a tractor around it!!  I have three little sisters, two of which I didn’t have before, and because they both have curly blond hair too, no one knows it’s not by blood!  (Seriously, no one, a lot of confusion when Sister Doctor and I started working a the same place.)  I’ve been blessed with more new aunts, uncles, and cousins, than I can count… and all of their spouses and kids and animals on top of that.

The night before my wedding, one of those brand new cousins sent me a message telling me how excited she was for our wedding, but that as far as she was concerned, I was already part of the family.  It made me cry– I was so happy!  (And Meg, you will always be my favorite for it!  Always!)  That may not have been the moment, but it was a pretty solid reminder of how this family had, over time, become my family too.

So, in-laws can be scary, but in-laws really can be family, too.  For me, a little bit of time and a lot of attitude adjustment made all the difference.  That, and awkward jokes.**


The Cooler Peninsula

*Yooper is what you call a person from the Upper Peninsula, or UP, pronounced like the letter U then the letter P, not the word up… hence: yooper.  The more you know.

**Because everybody loves my awkward jokes.