Category: Notes & Personal


nasty women daring greatly.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,

because there is no effort without shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself on a worthy cause;

who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…”

– Theodore Roosevelt


I read a book this summer that changed my life. It taught me that the courage to be vulnerable is everything, and how to tell myself that I am enough.

I know, it sounds silly and sappy. But, I promise you, Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly, is anything but silly. It’s 100% no-bullshit. And if you’re willing and ready to listen, it’s not easy to read.

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I’m a tortoise, not a hare.

Best training run ever!

Best training run ever!

I sped causally down the valley, warm wind in my face, David close behind me. It felt good to bike for once without my commuter saddle-bags weighing me down. It was Sunday and we were enjoying an easy 20-mile ride.

An easy 20-mile ride. I pondered the odd novelty of the phrase, the ease with which I now categorized such a workout. Easy.

Five years ago I wouldn’t go to the gym for more than twenty minutes. Four miles was my personal running limit. I was too terrified to ride a bike.

And yet, last month I ran my first marathon.What changed?

As I switched gears to pump up hill, the Tortoise and the Hare children’s story popped into my head.

It’s seems the classic “found my potential” story, but it’s not.

I didn’t run the marathon because I found my potential. I ran it because I stopped putting limits on my potential. I stopped thinking I had to be a hare, and started being a tortoise.

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resolutions for a better future.


Another year. That went fast!

Last year I wrote resolutions. I resolved to (1) restart my blog, (2) pay off one of my loans, (3) run a marathon, and (4) go on a road trip. At a point in my life where nothing was certain and adulthood was imminent, I set resolutions to give myself direction – a map to keep my values on course in the face of massive uncertainty. I can proudly say I achieved all but one of my goals*.

Facing 2016, I consider possible new goals: Call my friends more often? Complete my marathon? Kick-start this blog again? Nothing inspiring has occurred to me. Unlike like last year, 2016 is mostly certain. I’m not worried about straying from my values, or feeling lost. I’ve got a fantastic job, steady income, and solid network of family and friends. This year I don’t need a map to stay true to myself.

I had nearly resolved to skip resolutions all together when I watched Mission Blue.

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embracing the unexpected.

Things don’t always work out the way you plan. Especially when you’re on a road trip. I’ll probably struggle with this most of the time on the road, but it’s what I asked for, and what I wanted. The first two stops of the road trip were wonderful, even if a bit nerve wracking.

We spent a night at Shenandoah National Park and stayed with David’s Aunt and Uncle in Virginia Beach for several days to celebrate Passover (a second (?) for me). I have so much to write about! Yet, our laptop charger broke… resulting in limited blogging access. It’s been frustrating, as all I want to do is write, but in exchange I’ve had more time and energy to devote to visiting.

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on being 23.

We have so much to do. I can’t even express what our apartment looks like right now, considering we drive out in a few hours. I’ll write more about the trip later, but I can’t get these words out of my head, so here it is:

Exactly two years ago I wrote this post about turning 21 in Tanzania. My birthday involved a lot of sacrifice (of goats), Easter, soda, and friends. It did not include alcohol. I remember feeling like I truly became an adult that day, surrounded by new friends, in a new country I had come to love. It was my biggest adventure. And now, exactly two years later, I’m headed out on a new one – this time, destination unknown. (The birthday in between involved a stomache flu and my first ever star wars marathon… not a lot to report there).

It’s been very emotional. If you followed me in Tanzania you know I realized how I truly loved being American and how greatly I loved my family. Yet, again, yesterday I said goodbye to them Sunday for an undetermined amount of time. It was 8x more emotional than when I went to Africa. But I’m again looking forward to what I can learn about myself when I de-root and leave home.

Yesterday was chaotic, emotional, and wonderful. David took me to dinner at the new locally sourced restaurant in Harrisburg, The Millworks. It was beyond amazing. One of my favorite farmers, Judi, took me out for lunch – also delicious! Thank you to both of them.

All day I received text after text, message after message, call after call, wishing me a happy birthday. I’m writing this as a thank you to every single person who reached out. I haven’t yet had the heart to respond to everyone (basically anyone), but I will. Right now this move is taking over my life. 

If you’ve stuck around since Africa, thank you so, so much for all the love you’ve shown over the years. But also, infinite thank yous to all my new followers. I hope you like the new website! ( If you aren’t yet following me there’s a lot of options on the right sidebar!

Off we go.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for reading.


My first five nails.


I’m back! 2015.

Heya! I’m back.

In January I did something I’ve never truly done – I set new year’s resolutions. I was inspired to do this by my favorite lady, Kelsey Raymond, on her spice & dice blog. Two years ago she decided to change her own life. So she did, surprising herself by accomplishing what she didn’t think she could. How did she do it? Simple. She set real goals. Achievable goals. Then she blew them out of the water. Pride and admiration sent me following in her footsteps (not a new thing). Then, two days later, she actually wrote a post about setting goals! My intuition beat her to the punch.

I know, it’s February. It’s been a whole month since New Year’s. It’s also been a whole month since I’ve been “in the real world.” After I graduated from Dickinson in May I spent six beautiful months on the Dickinson College Organic Farm as their livestock apprentice. Then I took a trip to Seattle to visit my aunt’s, Liz and Jessica, for three amazing weeks. Then it was Christmas. Then, BOOM. 2015. The first full year of my adult life.

I decided I need some direction.

Emily’s 2015 Goals

1. Restart this blog.

This blog got me through my time abroad, it helped me fully process and appreciate all that happened to me. When I stopped writing I found that I spent less time thinking, less energy processing my day to day experiences. As I enter this next stage of my life I want to reconnect with that way of living.

2. Pay off one of my loans. 

Loans, loans, loans. I hate talking about them, I hate thinking about them. But they’re there, and I’ll deal with them. But to kick start the process off right I’m going to pay one of them off in the first year! It’s the small one… but it all counts, right?

2. Run 26.2 miles. 

Gotta have a physical goal, right? Well, signing up for marathons hasn’t been working for me. Injuries, nerves, whatever it is. So I’m just going to run 26.2 miles, on my own. I can say I did, I don’t have to pay for it, and I can do it whenever I want – my kind of running.

3. Go on a road trip. 

David and I decided we’re making a change. So April 1st we’re headed out of central PA (on the first full day of my 23rd year). After visiting a bunch of family we’re going to explore the southwest and find a new place to live (ideally with employment). A big part of re-starting this blog is to document our experiences and update family/friends along the way.

Oh, and we bought a teardrop.



2015 has a lot of potential. Financial realities were a huge shock to the system this month, but I’m determined to live my life fully and true to my values in community and sustainability. Right now I have the privilege to work with some amazing people in the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Harrisburg, PA, but past April my plans are very grey. How the year will pan out has yet to be seen, but stick along for the ride (literally) to find out!


blank journals.

When I was a kid I loved journals. My mother often took me and my brothers to the local bookstore and I would sneak over to the isles of fancy notebooks while my brothers picked out picture books, or more often, played with the trains. Gingerly running my fingers over their leather spines I imagined how it would feel to fill their textured pages with my words, thoughts and feelings.

Eventually my mom caught on and over several Christmases and birthdays I amassed a small collection of them – some leather, some embroidered, some enveloped with amazing photography. I treasured the books for years, but I never wrote in them.

Occasionally, I sat down with a pen and opened one. I explored the distinct coolness of its cover and the grains of its pages. I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to write, imagining it unfolding across the page; then I put my pen down, shelved the book, and headed outside to play.

That was during my preteen years. Those years after blissful, naive childhood but before the grueling, time-consuming academics of high school. It was a time when I could still afford to be creative but was starting to forget how.

Children are born with unapologetic creativity. The kind of “creativity” I am talking about is the kind that strives to understand the world through engaging all six senses and a curiosity that doesn’t know the meaning of embarrassment. Kids dance, play, sing, draw, paint, without any reserve. I was definitely a good example. But there comes a time in a child’s education where the capacity for undisciplined creativity is lost. For me, I encountered that transition at the end of elementary school – when the concepts of perfection and order were introduced. By the end of middle school, raw and unrestrained creativity was all but shut out of my learning. There was no longer room for self expression, and more importantly, no more room for failure.

When I opened those journals I had an idea in my head of what the final product would look like; my handwriting, the format, the substance of my words. In those instances where the pen hovered over the paper the pressure of my own expectations frightened me. On the rare instances when I actually wrote something I never made it more than a few pages; I lost the pen I was using, I forgot the correct heading format, the words I was writing felt all wrong, or even, sometimes, I simply made a spelling mistake. No matter what the project and situation was, if it was no longer perfect, I abandoned it.

Sometimes I wonder if our education system is teaching children that perfection should be revered while failure should be condemned. This setup leaves no room for creative thinking or exploratory learning; in fact, it punishes children for these actions unless they happen to achieve perfection on the first try. For me, the lesson that failure is unacceptable seeped so deep into my world that it began to affect even the most private area of my life – personal journaling. If I couldn’t be creative there then I couldn’t be creative anywhere. I was setting myself up to live a life of constant personal disappointment.

Ultimately, I got extremely lucky. I landed several amazing, unconventional, teachers during those crucial years. In high school I joined a community theater, a place dedicated to reteaching children and young adults how to express themselves. While there, I forgot the stifling expectations of an accelerated high school experience by reminding myself daily that failure is the mode by which you discover who you are and how you learn.

But not all children will have the opportunities I had or be exposed to the same experiences. I don’t know what the answer is, or really how to define the problem, but it is something that merits attention. First of all, we can’t sustain a society on a fear of failure because it implies fears of experimentation and innovation which are the base of all positive change and problem solving. But almost more importantly, raw creativity and the exploration of self-expression are the two most beautiful ways to experience life, and no child should ever, ever be afraid of them.


note: transitioning.

Hey everyone!

So this blog post is the last to conclude my blog about Tanzania and the first to begin my blog for the summer. Before I get into that, however, I want to thank each and every person who followed me through my experience. I know I have said this a million times but keeping my blog was an amazing way for me to process my trip and maintain my emotional stability, but truthfully it meant even more because I realized people actually cared to listen. So thank you for reading, commenting and asking me questions – it far beyond exceeded any expectations I had for this project.

On that note, since I enjoyed the blogging experience and want to continue honing my writing skills I have decided to continue this website but section off into a new blog, one I am calling “cultivation.” The title is meant to embody two parts of my summer, first, the amount of time I will spend literally cultivating on a small scale farm in Bowdoinham, Maine; second, what I will personally undergo this summer as I transition back into America and realize exactly what I experienced in Tanzania, therefore cultivating a new perception of the world for myself.

I understand completely if you signed up to get email notifications for the duration of my trip and do not wish to continue receiving emails from me. If that is the case I promise I won’t be offended! Honestly, I have no idea how to reverse it but if there is no option for you do so yourself then let me know and I will see what I can do to get you off my email list. Trust me, I won’t be peeved – I probably hate automatic emails more than you do.

Again, thanks everyone so much. I hope you will enjoy my new blog as much as I plan to enjoy keeping it.



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