Recalibrating My Life: 40 Days Later

Recalibrating My Life: 40 Days Later

The results of my 40 Day Challenge.
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My Mama says that when we move, the Universe (or God or Yahweh or Zeus or any higher power that you choose to believe in) moves with us. When we take the necessary steps to take care of ourselves, the Universe wraps us into its arms and whispers, “It’s going to be OK. I’m here for you now. We’ll walk this path together, hand in hand, and I’ll be right by your side.”

A month and a half ago, I was drowning with no hope of taking a breath any time soon.

I was stuck with nowhere to go.

I was the lost kid in Disneyland that couldn’t find their way back to their mom.

I had been depressed in the fall, but this felt different, almost unfamiliar.

In the fall, I knew that there was no hope of me climbing out of my depression hole, and frankly, I didn’t really want to leave the comfort of the sadness that had engulfed me.

In the winter, I wanted nothing more than to climb out of that damn hole.

I just didn’t know how to go about doing that.

As I said in my previous article, I was sitting in my University Foundations class when we started talking about the season of Lent. We were instructed to write down the things that made us happy and the things that made us come alive from the time we were little to the age we were now. If we saw differences between our younger selves and our older selves, we were told to take a step back and ask ourselves what brought upon those changes.

Both Little Emma and Big Emma had the same passions for writing, dancing, and singing. They both liked to feel strong and confident. They both wanted to rule the world someday.

However, I wasn’t doing anything that made me happy.

I wasn’t doing anything that made me come alive.

I really wasn’t doing anything.

I was sitting in my room, counting down the days until I could go home and retreat back to the familiarity of my small town, Minnesota life.

So I decided to make a change (insert Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror here).

I started my Recalibration Project: a forty day challenge to get my life back on track.

To recap, I planned to work out every single day, eliminate any trace of sugar from my diet, spend less time with Netflix and more time with people, and kick Fear to the backseat, allowing myself to take control and drive the car.

For the most part, I did pretty well.

I worked out almost every single day.

I worked out on the days when I didn’t want to. And on the days when the recreation center was only open for 25 more minutes. And even on the days where everyone told me, “C’mon Emma. We danced a little bit today. You’re fine.”

I just didn’t work out on spring break.

And I’m actually happy I didn’t because it was a good experiment to see how working out had affected my mood, body confidence, and overall feeling of both during this challenge.

I realized that one of my favorite feelings is when my body feels strong. I love to push my body past the limitations that I have set for it. I love the feeling of my heart racing and sweat dripping down my brow because I know that I’ve worked hard. I realized that I actually (and I hate to admit this because I have always been vehemently opposed to it) love to run. So while this challenge may be over, I hope to continue working out because I know that it’s good for my body and my health.

I was less successful with watching less Netflix. I think that I succeeded in having more face-to-face conversations, but I realized that Netflix was a huge stress reliever for me. I was able to turn off my brain for a couple of hours and insert myself into someone else’s life and drama. I’m not mad I didn’t do as well with this one because I do believe that I reduced my Netflix time and increased my conversations with people.

Surprisingly, I did the best with eliminating processed sugar from my diet. I like to think of myself as the female version of Willy Wonka. If I had the funds to build a chocolate factory, you bet your ass that I would (but, sadly, all of my money is going to paying off student loans. Woo!). I will never turn down a vanilla cupcake or a spoonful of ice cream or a lick of the cookie dough.

So it definitely wasn’t easy to walk past the cookies and cupcakes and ice cream that were always on display in my cafeteria. It was freaking hard. It took every ounce of willpower (and many friends reminding me of my challenge) in me to say no to the sugar in my life.

By the last day, which was the day before Easter, I was more than ready to stuff chocolate into my mouth.

The next day, I cherished the Cadbury mini eggs that were in my basket. I ate as many chocolate eggs as I could, and I may have gone a tad bit overboard with the amount of sugar that went into my body. I spent most of the day with a stomach ache, lying on my bed because I felt so lousy (although the pound of cheesy potatoes that I ate probably didn’t help much either).

I’m not saying I’m going to give up sugar all together now that the challenge is over, but I’m definitely going to be eating less of it.

Which leads me to the most exciting and rewarding part of my recalibration challenge: Not allowing fear to make my decisions.

In my previous article, I talked about doing a burlesque-type dance for our Decade Skate. I was terrified because:

  1. I was in a skimpy costume that showed more back than I was used to.
  2. I hadn’t danced in a year, and I was a little bit rusty.
  3. I thought everyone was going to think “Why the hell is that fat girl dancing?”

But none of that mattered the second I stepped on stage. As soon as the stage lights hit me, I was home. I let the music take over, and I pushed Fear aside and let Confidence take its place.

It was exhilarating. I felt strong. I felt sexy. I felt alive. And I hope everyone gets the opportunity to feel that way someday.

More exciting, however, is my acceptance into the Fall 2016 Voyage of Semester at Sea, a 104 day trip to 13 different cities in 12 countries.

While I was in the midst of applying to Semester at Sea, I was also in the midst of reading Liz Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love”.

I had written and re-written my essay more times than I could count. I spent months mulling over the perfect wording, the perfect sentence structure, and the perfect way to write my Semester at Sea essay. I thought that putting off the application was just another item on my long list of procrastination, but it was just my way of allowing my paralyzing fear to control my life.

Liz Gilbert’s favorite Italian word is attraversiamo, meaning, “let’s cross over." This voyage will put me in positions that terrify me, but those moments will be the ones that change me the most. They will be the moments where I cross over from frightened to courageous. I will walk into those moments with open arms and warmly embrace them, whispering, “I know I’m frightened right now, but that’s OK.” I will embrace the moments of loneliness. I will embrace the moments of fumbling over the languages. I will embrace the moments of uncertainty, of not knowing where I am or where I’m going.

Rome is where it started for Liz Gilbert, but the Recalibration Challenge is where it started for me.

I have taken the steps to better myself. I have gotten unstuck. I have taken a breath.

I am moving, and I hope the Universe is ready to move with me.

Cover Image Credit: Voyage of the Baldwin

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
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Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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From One Nerd To Another

My contemplation of the complexities between different forms of art.

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Aside from reading Guy Harrison's guide to eliminating scientific ignorance called, "At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life" and, "The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer" by Charles Graeber, an informative and emotional historical account explaining the potential use of our own immune systems to cure cancer, I read articles and worked on my own writing in order to keep learning while enjoying my winter break back in December. I also took a trip to the Guggenheim Museum.


I wish I was artistic. Generally, I walk through museums in awe of what artists can do. The colors and dainty details simultaneously inspire me and remind me of what little talent I posses holding a paintbrush. Walking through the Guggenheim was no exception. Most of the pieces are done by Hilma af Klint, a 20th-century Swedish artist expressing her beliefs and curiosity about the universe through her abstract painting. I was mostly at the exhibit to appease my mom (a K - 8th-grade art teacher), but as we continued to look at each piece and read their descriptions, I slowly began to appreciate them and their underlying meanings.


I like writing that integrates symbols, double meanings, and metaphors into its message because I think that the best works of art are the ones that have to be sought after. If the writer simply tells you exactly what they were thinking and how their words should be interpreted, there's no room for imagination. An unpopular opinion in high school was that reading "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne was fun. Well, I thought it was. At the beginning of the book, there's a scene where Hawthorne describes a wild rosebush that sits just outside of the community prison. As you read, you are free to decide whether it's an image of morality, the last taste of freedom and natural beauty for criminals walking toward their doom, or a symbol of the relationship between the Puritans with their prison-like expectations and Hester, the main character, who blossoms into herself throughout the novel. Whichever one you think it is doesn't matter, the point is that the rosebush can symbolize whatever you want it to. It's the same with paintings - they can be interpreted however you want them to be.


As we walked through the building, its spiral design leading us further and further upwards, we were able to catch glimpses of af Klint's life through the strokes of her brush. My favorite of her collections was one titled, "Evolution." As a science nerd myself, the idea that the story of our existence was being incorporated into art intrigued me. One piece represented the eras of geological time through her use of spirals and snails colored abstractly. She clued you into the story she was telling by using different colors and tones to represent different periods. It felt like reading "The Scarlet Letter" and my biology textbook at the same time. Maybe that sounds like the worst thing ever, but to me it was heaven. Art isn't just art and science isn't just science. Aspects of different studies coexist and join together to form something amazing that will speak to even the most untalented patron walking through the museum halls.

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