Tag Archives: yes

Reset Button

In early November, Seth and I were in Annapolis for a beautiful wedding with lots of old friends.

I have so many friends! The thing I said about Annapolis is true!!

While there, Seth got a text in two parts. The first part was something along the lines of:

Please don’t say no right away, take some time and think about it…

Time to think about what? The second part was the invitation:

Want to come with us on a 12 days cruise to Australia, Fiji, the Maldives???

We balked, of course. Hence the first part — our friends know us too well. Twelve days off work PLUS the travel time to get to Australia? How could we possibly?

But they’d asked us to think. So we thought. Could we? Should we?


We returned to Wisconsin a couple days later and first thing Monday morning was my final pregnancy test — a negative, of course. We promised ourselves no more. We laid down our arms, walked away from the infertility battle, and thought a little more about that trip.

We’d spent the last 5+ years carefully saving vacation time for trips to and from the fertility clinic in Madison, hoping that our stockpiled days wouldn’t be used for more trips, but for the birth of our baby.

The fact of the matter is, there isn’t going to be a baby for us. So… Australia… Fiji… with our best friends… a once in a lifetime opportunity… why not?

We said yes. We booked flights — CWA > DTW > LAX > SYD. We’re really going!

A short while later, all of the sudden, the new job I’d been working on building/acquiring came to fruition. I start on Monday.

And just like that, we’re hitting the RESET button in a very big way.



I look back on my life five years ago, newly married, fresh out of grad school, really digging my life as a scientific writer, and excited about the family we were going to start and it’s easy to see just how big of a reset this is. I expected us to be full on nuclear, in the family sense — focused on having and rearing a couple of toe-headed braniacs with stubborn dispositions (that’s anice way of saying jerks… but they would have been my little jerks). But that’s not reality, and a reset is necessary to bring me back to earth.

I’ve always enjoyed the end of one year and the beginning of another. I love that the advent season, with its time for reflection and focus on the coming light, blends seamlessly with the new calendar year and two weeks later with a new year for me personally when my birthday hits. This year is extra special, a bonafide reset, for three reasons.

First, early on the morning of November 7th, before our last negative pregnancy test, my sleepy Seth rolled over in bed to tell me that no matter the results, he loves me and I am enough. My heart… it somehow simultaneously broke and swelled. He thinks that I, just me, no baby, am enough. I can’t tell you how much that settled me into this new reality. Seth, Curls, and me — a happy little family.

Second, on Monday, I start my new job — my dream job, really. The dream I didn’t know I had until two years ago when I started working more and more with community facing programs and the amazing woman who will be my boss. I’m incredibly proud of the work I’ve done so far and I’m so excited to dedicate myself full time to a position I feel so passionate about. I was feeling a bit insecure on Friday — what if they find out they hate me? But I start during Christmas celebration week and I’m the Leslie Knope of gift giving AND cooking baking… there’s no way they won’t be impressed. Bring on Sneaky Santa!


Finally, on January 28th, we’ll be getting out of dodge, crossing the equator for the first time, and heading to the other side of the world for nearly three weeks. I never thought a trip like this could possibly be a reality, but we’re doing it together, with our friends, and it’s going to be incredible. I know it in my bones.

omg. omg. omg. @rachelstanksi is ME!


Meanwhile, a reset is really only a reset if the reset-y things actually change you for the permanent. And in this case, I very much suspect they will.

For the time in maybe ever, I actually believe that I am enough for Seth. Worthy. I know that makes me sound like I’m in some sort of terrible, abusive relationship, and maybe I am… but Seth’s not the perpetrator. My traitorous psyche, the “second track” I’ve often referenced, is. But what further proof could I possibly need than everything we’ve been through for the sake of having a baby, and to have Seth still, faithfully, happily by my side? He thinks I’m enough (block head, frizzy hair and all), and I think he might be right — we’re M-F-E-O*, baby or not.

Second, I’ve found true meaning in my work. I am so excited to dedicate my time and talents to the amazing things being done in the Marshfield Clinic Center for Community Outreach. I see such incredible work going on, such incredible dedication to community health from a variety of perspectives (e.g., high risk youth, alcohol and other drugs of abuse, social determinants of health), and I want to tell the story, give it a voice, make people aware, continue to build programs and make them replicable in other communities.

Finally, I’m going to live my life now — starting by spending the time to go on an amazing vacation. No more saving and banking for something that may or may not happen. And I need to translate that into using “yes” and “no” appropriately at other times as well. Yes to community engagement and social events, but no when it becomes to much and I need to recharge the introvert batteries. Yes to the things that are truly good for me, and no when things hurt. I’m practicing already — we’re going to a dinner party with friends tonight! Yes, yes, yes!


Anyway, given my recent track record, I suspect I won’t write again before the new year — so I hope you enjoy the holidays, wherever you are, whoever you’re with, and I’ll look forward to sharing a new adventure in 2017!!


Too much yes. No!

My friend Chris Lema says no a lot. Seriously. Google “I say no a lot” and see what happens.

See? Chris Lema.

(What you don’t find in The Google is something that Chris Lema’s close-and-personals know: he says yes even more. Hence, his insane level of busy. But don’t tell anyone- that’s a secret.)

Me? Ugh… I never say no. Even when I want to. Even when I really should.

I know it’s a lame and whiny thing to complain about, especially considering that it’s 100% self-inflicted, but dang, it’s catching up to me.

For the first year, maybe two, after I graduated from grad school I was super careful not to take anything home with me– no nights, no weekends. I got my 40 hours in, I got my work done, and I was productive and happy. But then I started saying yes to more and more extras, more and more deadlines, and I can’t… stop…

It’s like I’m addicted. But I need to kick the habit because it’s sucking away my time, and consequently, my happiness.

When I’m short on time, I don’t blog. But I really, really like blogging. And when I’m short on time, it makes household chores seem so much worse because they’re just crappy things on top of more crappy things. And worst of all, when I’m short on time, even fun things feel like nothing more than other things that I have to do.

That’s enough! Time to reclaim my time! Time to channel my inner Lema and say NO when no is what I really need to be saying.


… but not until I get back from Phoenix next week. Kind of boxed myself in with deadlines up until my plane departs. Oops.

In other news: I’m going to Phoenix next week! Yay! I went to the HMO Research Network (HMORN) conference for the first time last year and l-o-v-e-d it… loved it so much that I’m going back again! (Actually, I don’t really get to choose, but a series of generous physician-scientist benefactors have allowed me to go two years in a row now, and thank goodness for that!) I know HMOs have a really negative connotation (I’ve seen Sicko… and yes, it disturbed me), but at the HMORN conference last year I was pleasantly surprised with the number of people and number of initiatives with HMO that are truly dedicated to improving patient care. All of the organizations there have dedicated research branches– Marshfield Clinic, Kaiser Permanente, Group Health, Geisinger, Pilgrim Health, etc. It’s pretty awesome.

But more importantly (and superficially, of course): PHOENIX.

Phoenix vs Marshfield

That’s a 50 degree difference… plus, complete lack of precipitation, frozen or otherwise, in Phoenix. Yes, please!


PS: Did you actually click on the hyperlink for “I say no a lot”? You should… it’s hilarious. Have you seen Let Me Google That for You? It’s geniusly sarcastic and I love it.

23 Things– Reworked

A friend of mine recently shared a really interesting link on Facebook.  The link leads to an article on Huffington Post entitled 23 Things Every Woman Should Stop Doing and as a recovering woman’s magazine addict and lover of lists, I couldn’t resist clicking.

I clicked, I read, and then I realized that even though the list is about ways to make your life better, it’s a list of NO NO NO and it’s a list geared toward woman who are, as usual, doing it all wrong.  So I reworked it in two ways:

1) This is a list based on 23 things to which you can say YES YES YES.  If you want.


2) This is a list that applies to everyone– woman, man, or somewhere in between.  Because good things are good things, no matter who or what you are.

So, shall I commence with the list?

Yes.  Yes I shall.

23 Things That Everyone Should START (or keep or try or hate me for) Doing

1)  Accept responsibility when at fault.  Accepting responsibility is the first step, IMHO, to achieving forgiveness and understanding.  When you are truly at fault, no matter how hard it is to admit it and apologize, it is totally worth the effort.  And although I know many, including the author of the original 23 things article, would disagree, I think it’s ok to say “sorry” out of sympathy too.  I hate it when someone tells me something sad/bad/unpleasant/whatever, I say sorry, and then they snap back: “what are you sorry for?!  it’s not like it’s your fault!”  Maybe not, but I can still be sorry that things are tough for you.  No harm in saying so.

2) Say “yes” when you mean it and be willing to say “no” sometimes too.  For many of us, time is the most limited and precious resource we have.  There are only so many hours in the day and only so many days in our life… so let’s say  a resounding “YES!” when something sounds good, necessary, and/or important, and a polite, “No, thank you” when it doesn’t.

3)  Take time for your own priorities and give yourself permission to act in your own best interest.  One of the things that is good, necessary, and/or important, and therefore deserves that resounding “YES!” from you is… well… you.  It’s really hard to take care of others if you’re not taking care of yourself.  And if taking care of yourself means you miss a coffee date or your lawn doesn’t get mowed, so be it.

4) Eat the food.  End of sentence.  Food serves many purposes, nutritional, of course, but in our society, food also serves important social and emotional purposes and unless your emotional needs are met by lettuce and you’re BFFs with a colony of rabbits (which I have reason to believe I may be– so many babies!), then probably you’re going to eat more than just veggies on occasion.  I’d really rather not get into a big debate about the value of any one way of eating, but I do know that everything tastes better without the side of guilt and tall glass of shame that tends to accompany so many delicious things.

5)  Acknowledge positive body attributes, internally and externally.  Perhaps you’re not in love with your body, but you have to admit: it got you out of bed this morning, didn’t it?  (Dang it– are you reading this in bed?!  Well then, be grateful for your eyeballs, wise guy.) It’s capable of hugging (I said capable! that doesn’t mean it has to regularly hug), smiling, laughing, thinking, being, and those are all things worthy of acknowledgement, regardless of how you look, or in many cases, think you look.  So: shout out to you, thighs!  Way to walk me into work this morning!

6)  Recognize and celebrate personal and professional accomplishments.  You know that thing you did?  That was cool.  Way to go.  Now repeat that to yourself, it’s ok.

7) Accept a tagged photo, even an “unflattering” one, as a compliment.  So, you did something with someone, they took a picture of you doing it, and now they’ve put it online and tagged you… Dang!  You must be someone pretty cool and pretty loved because someone cared enough to do something with you, take the photo, upload the photo, and tag you in it!  That’s a lot of steps.  I call that a compliment to you!

8) Recognize that someone’s virtual story is not their whole story.  Most people don’t share everything online (clearly, I am not most people) and it’s totally reasonable that our natural tendency would be to put our best face forward.  Most people don’t feel the need to tell the world that they crapped their pants.  I get that.  But remember, just because someone didn’t post on Facebook that they crapped there pants, they may have actually crapped their pants.  You can’t possibly know.  So remember that the next time you are jealous of someone’s online presence– they may have crapped their pants.

9) Let go of regrets and guilt.  I talked about my friend Nate recently and he lived his life by this motto, for sure.  He got a tattoo when he turned 18 that said “No Regrets” and figured that even if he messed something up, he’d just do it better the next time.  Simple, right?  Obviously not.  But perhaps you can try when reflecting on “mistakes” to put on your Emily-colored glasses and be a little kinder to yourself.

10) Wear whatever shoes you feel like wearing.  Heels will kill you!  Fit flops will tone your rear end!  You can’t be a real doctor without Danskos!  What.  Evs.  Just wear the shoes you want to wear, for whatever reason you want to wear them (comfort, color, cuteness…), and get on with your life.  They’re just shoes.

11)  Live and 12) let live– sexually.  Sex… is… private.  That is all.  You sex-life is none of my business and mine is none of yours.  I like 50 Shades of Gray (slut!) and I like Beverly Lewis books (prude!), neither of those things tell you a dang thing about me, except that I like to read fiction.  A lot.  So that’s it, just live and let live, and don’t worry so much about other people– what they do or what they think about you.

13) Be genuine.  It’s ok to be mellow about something when you’re “supposed” to be upset.  It’s also ok to be upset.  But failure to be genuine about your feelings is dishonest to yourself and to others.

14) Embrace the label “crazy.”  The most out-there, paradigm-shifting ideas are the ones that tend to change the world.  People will always try to undermine or dismiss you, but if you are passionate about an idea, keep putting it out there, and be crazy if crazy is what it takes.  Maybe even blog about crapping your pants.  Crazy can be cool.  (Crapping your pants cannot.  I’m sorry.)

15) Use WebMD as a starting point.  The internet is FULL of medical information, some good, some bad, some in between.  It’s certainly not a bad place to start if you’ve got some mysterious symptoms or ongoing ailment.  Of course, it’s generally a good idea to call a medical professional if you think you might have a serious problem, but sometimes the internet can be a great place to start when you want to generate questions for your provider.  And a good provider will take the time to answer your questions and to make sure you are fully informed.

16) Be inspired by Pinterest… if you feel like it.  I love Pinterest!  Sometimes my attempts to recreate what I find turn into absolute Pinstrosities, but sometimes my Pinspiration bears fruit and I end up with something awesome.  Sometimes I just like looking at the pictures.  Regardless of the source, Pinterest or otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with seeking out inspiration… I’m not really sure why people get so angry about it.  I don’t think the point of the site is to tell you that you should be able to recreate these things.  No one used to get mad at me for my binders full of recipes and pages torn from magazines.  Same thing, right?

17)  Relish alone time as a chance to “Treat Yo’ Self!”  I’m an introvert (I think, but it’s been a while since I’ve done the Myers-Briggs), so I recognize that this one is a little easier for me than it is for other people, but alone time can be really, really nice.  (Just ask a mom, right?  (No, I am not a mom.))  Being alone is the perfect time to, as the folks on Parks and Rec say, treat yo’ self!  Perhaps you want to dress up as batman, paint your toe nails with pretty designs, sit and stare at a wall for half an hour, read a good book, try something you saw on Pinterest… whatever, now’s your chance!  Treat yo’ self!

18) Engage in and maintain meaningful and positive romantic relationships.  In the original article, the author talks about not jumping into a relationship just because you are scared of being alone.  Ok, maybe.  But I don’t think most of us are aware enough at the beginning of a relationship to realize that that’s why we’re doing it.  (You can trust me on this, I last started a relationship when I was 18… 11 years ago, so clearly, I’m an expert on dating.  That’s sarcasm.)  But when you are in a relationship, maintaining something meaningful and positive is totally worth your while.  (That, I can actually attest to!)

19)  Take advantage of vacation days.  You are given PTO for a reason.  Use it.  Even if you need to use it just to go get a mammogram and a colonoscopy– use it!  (And get your mammogram if you’re over 40, colonscopy if you’re over 50.)  Time away from the office, whether it’s a full on vacation or just a little stay-cation, can feel really, really good.  (Yes, coming back can feel pretty crappy, but it was going to feel like that anyway.)

20)  Engage and maintain meaningful and positive friendships.  In the same church service where I heard the idea of the tapestry, the priest also said that true friends aren’t made, they’re discovered.  And I couldn’t agree more.  It’s true, you can try to cut people out of your life if they are “toxic,” but that seems to naturally happen when you work on cultivating and maintaining positive friendships.  (If it doesn’t work, then what you have is probably not a friend, but a stalker.  Seek help.)  (Also, I know “frenemies” are a bad thing, but they make for a darn good movie– love Mean Girls!!)

21)  Spend intentional, rather than obligatory, time with people.  You will enjoy it more and so will the people you are spending time with.  If they are just an obligation, they will probably know, and that’s not very nice.

22)  Be proud of the things that make you you I am not embarrassed that I really like dinosaurs and get passionate about women’s health.  Those things are not necessarily “cool” (as in: they are not cool), but they are my genuine interests and I just don’t see the point in cultivating something as an interest just because it’s cool, nor being embarrassed about the things that actually do interest me.

23) Let life happen on its own timeline.  Life is messy and it is long.  We are where we are when we are and there’s not a lot you can do about that.  I’ve seen people try to force it (myself included) and it really doesn’t work out as well that way.


So there you have it.  It’s essentially the same list, it just bothers me to be told NO.  It bothers me to be told I’m doing it wrong.  It bothers me that someone makes a list to tell me all the different ways I’m doing it wrong.  Especially 23 times in a row.  

And perhaps, ultimately, all 23 of these big, fat, yeses (is that seriously a word?  no red squiggly underline… must be!) boil down to the very thing I said yesterday:

If you see something nice, say something nice.  And do something nice.  (I didn’t say that part yesterday.)  To yourself, to others.  Kindness as the human condition.  I like that.