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“We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.”

“We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.”

-Joseph Campbell

“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.”

-Henri Nouwen

On May 27th of this year, 2023, our family grew through marriage. My son, Josh, married his long-time sweetheart, Kim. This made me a first-time mother-in-law, a role that has many cultural expectations built-in, some delightful, some not.

No one really tells you how to adopt the role of mother-in-law. When I was younger and watched my parents meet new life experiences, it seemed to me that they just knew what to do. They had brothers and sisters that helped them figure out how to handle difficult situations, and memories of their own experiences that informed the decisions they made.

When my daughter-to-be, Kim, told me that they wanted to be married at the Heart of Northside, I was simultaneously filled with joy and terror. I am by nature an introvert, meaning I derive my energy from home and family rather than socializing and being out in the world. What this decision would mean is that I would be sharing a very vulnerable, beautiful, and tender family time not just with old friends, but with my new community of Northside. How would this be

received by the community? How would we be seen? As an introvert, I was filled with anxiety.

As a new entrepreneur, the opportunity to be creative was incredibly appealing. And as a mother, there was protective tenderness. How would all this be received? I had no way of knowing, but I decided to trust my neighbors.

Unlike my parents, I lack the benefit of close biological family. My parents were in their 40s when they had me and are long gone. I rely on my family of choice, which includes my dear friends in Cleveland and Cincinnati, and the community in which I now call home in Northside.

Northside has a personality and character all its own. The people I have met are all at once vulnerable and authentic, tough and, if not fully self-aware, then they are working hard on self- awareness. Before I moved here, Northside had been described as “edgy." I assumed that meant gritty, urban, tough.

What I really think “edgy” means though, is an openness to life and its possibilities. An acceptance that life is perfect in its imperfection, an embrace of everything that life brings. America feels like a great experiment, and Northside feels like a frontier–an “edge” of sorts.

The challenge we have in this American frontier, which I see as an opportunity, is to recognize how lucky we are to have such bountiful diversity, and to figure out how to love and appreciate the differences in our neighbors. I feel as though if we can figure this out, we will truly be leaders in the world. Northside is a community where everyone shares this goal. It feels like hope and home.

In opening my heart and family to Northside, I feel a community support and love that I have never felt elsewhere.

In the year I have lived here, I learned that the way one lives creates the community. I can be a mother-in-law that defies negative cultural expectations. I can write this chapter the way I want to write it.

Event credits:

reception design: Maya Drozdz

photography: Alison Ford

ceramic centerpieces: Laura Davis/Core Clay

glassware and serving ware: Sally's Treats & Treasures

fiberglass leaf decor: Building Value

upholstered pews: ReUse Center

catering: Gomez Salsa

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