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:
- I was in a skimpy costume that showed more back than I was used to.
- I hadn’t danced in a year, and I was a little bit rusty.
- 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.