I Finished Whole30 & Lived to Tell the Tale ~The During~

In true Emily fashion – I went by the seat of my pants. I decided two days before Day 1 that I was going to start. In reality and in my recommendation, you are supposed to plan a little more – however anyone who knows me knows that that isn’t me. And for me that worked – going cold turkey and forcing myself to start. It took out the waiting game, and if that resonates with you then I say go for it. But make sure you don’t use that as an excuse later to just get up and quit one day – stick to it!

If I were to do this again I would absolutely get the book from the creator herself, Melissa Hartwig, entitled The Whole 30 Challenge, and give it the read through it truly deserves.

The first week -isn’t terrible, I mean it is not a party but not terrible. There was some anxiety, overthinking things I was eating or snacks that were at work – there are always snacks at work. But the fun and excitement of starting something is still fresh, which makes it more of an experience. I had weaned myself off of sugar a bit beforehand, which I think is why I hadn’t experienced the absolute dreaded sugar hangover that many experience when they first begin. But by day 4 or 5, many report that they start to feel normal again. The only change that I really noticed by this point was that I was very tired. Not falling asleep at my desk, but my body felt tired.

Now week 2 – a whole different story. I think week 2 might have been the hardest for me. Specifically Day 10 and 11. You are about a week and half in. You have some sort of system that works for you and are getting used to the routine, but you’re just pissed. You’re annoyed with having to say no and watching people around you eat whatever they feel – like Shake Shack at linch or enjoying birthday cupcakes (I’m drooling) – it gets old and you get pissed. A good moment to break out that list where you wrote out why you started in the first place – I said it would come in handy!

However in these tough moments I found myself going to the Whole30 forum on their main site. Here people ask all those questions about the rules and what to do – and sometimes just to celebrate their stories! Browsing around here for a bit helped me get back ingot he community feeling and realize that everything Im thinking and feeling – everyone else who has done this has too!

Now rolling into week 3 I began to realize some changes that had taken place. I was sleeping better. When I was tired I was authentically actually tired, not that crash from carbs and sugar high tired. So when I slept – I SLEPT and it was amazing. My skin cleared – no little pimples popping up. It had been doing well even before I started but it was very clear and even glowing. Lastly – and probably most exciting for me, I was far less bloated than I usually was, my stomach never seemed to get upset, and I wasn’t ever uncomfortable after eating. I was excited to eat my meals because I saw all the nutrients and good things I was putting into my body rather than eating what was in front of me just because it was there.

And finale – week 4 – started with the test of time. A trip home. Surrounded by margarita night with my best friends and Bison chip dip as an app at family dinner (my Buffalo people you know what a feat saying no to Buffalo chip dip is). However, the trick is the further you make it – the harder it is to quit. You’ve made it this far – you are closer to the end than the beginning and keeping this in mind helped me tremendously! Also keeping an open mind – and getting creative in social situations can help you focus less on your restrictions and more on the whole point of the social activity in the first place – socializing!

Here are my top tips for the during portion of the Whole30 – ya know the part where you actually have to do it:

  • I said it once and I will say it again – MEAL.PREP. – failing to prepare is seriously preparing to fail. Having all my meals ready to go at the beginning of the week left no room for excuses and no space for mindless snacking – my biggest habit to break. Plus it makes it hard to justify falling off track when your fridge is packed full of prepared and compliant food
  • Journal your journey – write down how you are feeling and what you are noticing about yourself. This is something that I wish I had done so that I can see where I came from, but also when I went to reintroduce I had something to compare back to!
  • Find ways to reward yourself that aren’t food related. Usually to celebrate achievements I like to treat myself to ice cream or some other super fun dessert. However this doesn’t lend to a healthy relationship with food. Instead take yourself to a movie or treat yourself to a skills class for a new hobby or way or exercising. These are healthy ways to reward and invest back into yourself.
  • Get in touch with your feelings. Now I know that sounds weird, but when you take the time to really think about why you are feeling a certain way – in moments specifically when say you want to eat a whole bag of potato chips – if you take a moment to dig a little deeper you nay see what you are actually feeling. It may be anger or stress or even just boredom. It was amazing how easy it became to make these connections. When I would have urges to binge and took a second to step back I realized that I was just feeling stressed and that is the whole point of this to really diagnose your food relationship and once you can recognize that you can make huge steps forward!

Now these are just some of the bigger items that I have discovered through my own personal journey and as I reflect more I plan to add to it! Let me know below about your own experiences or maybe some questions you might have – I love to hear from you guys!

As always thanks for making it this far and Ill be back soon with the grand finale – life after!




I Finished Whole30 & Lived to Tell the Tale ~The Beginning~


Right now I look at that title and think – wow Em aren’t we being a little dramatic? Except I know when I started 30 days ago – I thought that was a perfectly acceptable way to feel. Through the grapevine the Whole30 sounds absolutely terrifying – think of everything you CAN’T have!

There for you is tip number 1 – you have to go into this thinking of everything you CAN have. But we will get to more tips and tricks later…To start – why did I decide to start?

Well for a lot of reasons, I love fitness and nutrition and am always interested in what is going on in that sphere. But even bigger than that I was struggling – I wasn’t in a great place with myself. It’s like when everyone around you tells you how great you look in something and for the life of you, you can’t see it – yeah I was not in a good place. So I decided to do something that challenged me, change up my day to day and make me focus, whole-heartedly and 100% on something else – and by the end I realized that was myself – 30 days of being all about me.

To start here are the basics of the Whole30 Challenge if you are unfamiliar:

  • No added sugar or artificial sweeteners
  • No alcohol
  • No grains
  • No legumes
  • No dairy

Fairly straightforward- but to explain it quickly to people? I sum it up with ‘if it comes in a package – you can’t have it.’

A few other not food related rules:

  • You can only weigh yourself twice, once when you start and again on the very last day. And for some people this might be scary, especially if you weigh yourself everyday. But from my experience, giving this up – was one of the best parts! Seeeing positive changes – Non Scale Victories – far outweigh any number that could pop up on that scale.
  • If you cheat you must start over – like from Day 1. Now I have accidentally eaten added sugar because I didn’t read a label to closely. Some would argue that would require a start over. But through research there is a difference between truthfully not being aware – and ‘not being aware’ where you just carelessly don’t look as closely as you should. Don’t sell yourself short – if it was a real cheat – start over.
  • Lastly no SEX WITH YOUR PANTS ON. Now that I have your attention…Something that at first sounds silly, but once you start getting creative in the kitchen you start to want to pull this one more and more. Simply put, no recreating sweet treats or healthy version of desserts. An example they use is that you could combine compliant ingredients, such as eggs and a banana, to create a pancake but that defeats the purpose of the program. It all seems very strict, but trusting the process is one of the most important parts of this plan!

Anyone who has completed a Whole30 will tell you one of the other major keys is meal prepping – this will truly make or break your journey. Before I began I was already in the habit of meal prepping. I would do all my grocery shopping on Sunday morning (which I actually love, quiet Sunday mornings in New York ) and then cook some food for the whole week. However with this I kicked it a bit into overdrive. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were all ready to go for the week – another major key!


So if you have made it this far in this ramble – here are a few things I would recommend before you start:

  • BUY THE BOOK – It Starts with Food outlines all the rules and recommendations but also the science and objective of this entire experiment. Also take full advantage of the great resources online, whole30.com itself has everything you need to follow the program, including a forum where everyone has asked every question you’ve probably thought of.
  • Prepare your kitchen – hide the evil things. I don’t like to waste, and in an effort to not throw anything out I had to shove all the crackers, cookies and chocolate into one cupboard and just hope I wouldn’t need anything out of there causing me to open it. For you, this could even be getting rid of them, because when your sugar dragon comes, he is fierce and it will be easier to fight without these treats in arms length (but more on that later). Also if you don’t have proper meal propping containers – essentially tupperware – stock up! I promise its worth it.
  • Find Friends – whether that is someone in an online Facebook support group, your bests from home (shoutout to y’all <3) or your mom (for me it was my mom, I would call her every time I wanted to dive straight into pizza, she talked me off the cliffs). Find someone who can help support you and talk you off the cliffs when you want to quit, because you will – support matters!
  • Pick a good time – this is seriously key. If you commit to this – there aren’t ‘off days’ or cheat meals, because the rule is if you cheat you start all over at Day 1. So pick a time where you have no major events, birthday parties or the holidays, because that truly sounds like a nightmare to me.
  • Also in picking timing, consider your social calendar – if you think you are going to be having a lot of work events or outings with friends, pick another time. At an age where grabbing drinks is a common social activity, you will get bored of asking for water with lemon at the bar. It’s not terrible, and honestly the few times you do gives you a major confidence boost, but sometimes you just want a damn mojito and the more times you tempt yourself you might crack.
  • Lastly – but perhaps most importantly – right down your why (s): Write down the real reasons you want to do this. Sure you could write lose weight or for that summer bod. But the deeper you dig for those real answers, the more of a service you are doing for yourself later on. When it gets hard and you want to dive face first into pizza – a feeling that will come – you will want that list or maybe singular sentence as to why you started in the first place! It will keep you motivated and on track, and most of all remember that you are doing this for yourself.

And there we are to start. These are a few things I wish I had known before I started my Whole30, but it doesn’t end there. In my next post I am going to talk about the during – where the real fun begins. For your convenience and for my lack of organization I decided to break this into 3 parts The Beginning (see above) The During (see it soon) and The After (Food Freedom here I come )

If you made it this far – thanks for tagging along and feel free to leave any questions or comments below!

See ya soon



2 ~ Feel the Feels & Forgive for Yourself

Sometimes I want to be mean, like really mean. Really mean to those people who have lied to me, cheated me or even just hurt my feelings. It bubbles inside me to become so angry and tell them exactly what I’m thinking. This is one of the many feelings that I internalize. I don’t come off as someone who gets very angry, all the I easily wear my emotions blank across my face – I hide nothing well. I could probably count the number of the times I have gotten truly TRULY angry – its maybe 6 times.

I don’t typically get mad. I get disappointed. I have learned that this often stems from the fact that I naively assume that others will treat me how I treat them, that they will hold my feelings in as high regards as I hold theirs.

Sadly, as lesson 2, I have learned that this isn’t true. People are going to mean. Sometimes it is on purpose, and sometimes it isn’t. But the reason doesn’t make it hurt any less.
 And sometimes you see it coming and sometimes you don’t. And even in those times you are prepared, you aren’t for the aftermath, for the moments of relapse when you can’t help the memory and feelings wash over you once again, as if you are feeling them all over again for the first time.
 And everytime I have wanted to let out my own anger, to, in some way, express my disappointment in another form, I find myself not. I find myself closing my mouth (or in some cases, putting down my phone), taking a minute and stepping back.
And what I always find in those moments when I step back and think about the situation in front of me, is that often someone’s mean words or disappointing behavior has little to do with me. Their hatred or unkindness isn’t rooted in a hatred towards me, often it’s an expression of their own misgivings, perhaps about themselves or something else going on in their life. Something that might not have anything to do with me, or everything to do with me, but nothing in my hands that I can actually control or fix or change.
And for a long time, when I felt hurt or disappointed by someone, I carried that with me. I carried that weight, at times even having to remind myself why I felt a certain way about someone, why they cause a ripple in my feelings. But sometimes even when we carry that weight with us, it isn’t as big as we think it is, instead the time and constant reliving has made it grow far larger than it ever was.
The only person that that burden and hatred was hurting was me. I was doing all the work! Carrying it around each day, it had to eat in order to live so every few months I would feed it by thinking about it, which only caused it to grow. There it was, living rent free in my mind, when my emotional capacity could be spent on far kinder and happier things.
So one day – like those emotional points in movies where the character finally makes the move or quits the miserable job – I decided to let it go. I decided that instead of letting pain bubble, I would let it hurt while it hurt. Maybe that meant crying or maybe it was channeling my anger into something else like exercise or venting to a friend, but once it was over it was over. And FINALLY then I allowed myself to forgive myself and them. Even if they didn’t know it, even if If I never said it to them. Even if they didn’t know that the hurt was deep enough to be carried with me, I forgave and let go.
Giving myself permission to forgive others and myself for feeling the way I did was one of the most freeing  gifts I have ever given myself. There is a lot of stigma about always having to be heartless and stone cold that nothing hurts us anymore, but I learned for me that that never brings me happiness. Feeling how I do as big or small as I do allows me to feel what I feel and then be free of it.
That doesn’t mean it is easy, there are moments when I feel as if I should let my experiences, and what was hurt me, and arguably should have broken me, affect my circumstance and harden my heart. But at the end of the day none of that sadness or hatred brings me closer to my own happiness, having to remind my self to be angry at someone only tears me down more, when I should only be building myself up.
At the end of the day forgiveness is a choice and if you choose to forgive for no other reason than to simply give yourself peace, that reason is good enough.  Imagine all the lights and happiness you could carry with the energy you free up with letting go of those horrible burdens. Forgiving is hard, and yourself? sometimes even harder – but you are stuck with yourself for the rest of your life.

Lesson 1: People With _____.

I started my college career – excited and confused – but also a little lost, like most, because I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up. That whole concept in and of itself is for another time – but I decided to start with what I knew, and what people had suggested to me – teaching.

I spent my summers, since I could remember, teaching little kids from my neighborhood how to swim (Go Vikings.) I relate well to children because they think simply- have fun, eat cake – just like me, so it seemed like a perfect fit!

*Shameless plug for alma mater * Saint Bonaventure University has a great education program, because had I stayed the course, I would have graduated with a degree that would have allowed me to be certified in not only elementary education, but also equipped to teach students with special needs. Now although my path later changed, I’ll never forget one of my first lessons, from my first professors, in my first (and last) class in the School of Education.

Often one of the concerns when someone is confronted with someone who is different from them, in a way that may be ‘unusual’, they fear ‘what to call them’. No one wants to offend anybody, but people don’t always think long and hard about what exactly they’re saying. This becomes even more important when you learn how to shape young minds, especially those who may learn differently than everyone else. What do we call someone who has a learning disability?

Now this topic (and its obvious importance) found its way onto every single one of our tests and nearly every class discussions -– how do we refer to someone who has a learning disability?

The answer was always – Always –ALWAYS a ‘person with a disability’ – the rule being that the person always comes first. The person isn’t ‘learning disabled,’ they aren’t ‘special needs’, they aren’t a ‘disabled person.’

They are a person. A person who happens to learn or live differently, by the standards of the majority of the population. But is this a fair standard – someone is different because they aren’t just like you? Whatever their situation may be – they are a person – they are not their circumstance.

Then, and even now, I can’t help but think how often we look at the circumstance around people before we look at the people they are. We can get so caught up in all the ‘layers’ surrounding someone that we forget to look into their eyes and see that they are a person too.

Imagine if we extended this concept of always putting the person before the circumstance in even more situations, like perhaps homelessness or drug addiction? What if we saw them as people before the fact that they had an addiction?

In a world where it has become a joke to be ‘too politically correct’ I don’t disagree that there has to be a level of open communication where people can voice their questions, strictly in the name of trying to better their global understanding. However, in using our words, we are describing our priorities of how we identify someone as who they are – we project an image of them to the world around us with our words – so yes, what you say and how you refer to people matters.

We are not our circumstance, we are people filled with light and power. Understanding that we are all people is unifying and powerful. We are more alike than we could ever be different; there is more that unites us than divides us. If we kept that in mind more often, if our curiosity for others circumstances came from a place of compassion rather than for the comparison of their circumstance to our own – what a different world we might live in.

23 Years in 23 Weeks

How are YOU?

It has been quite sometime since I have gotten back to my writing. I love writing, I do – I have a ton of great ideas ( I mean I think they’re great) – usually as I’m falling asleep late at night (that I think I’ll remember in the morning) or when I’m on the train – not sure why, but there’s something about trains and writing inspiration…

As I reflected during a recent – you guessed it – train ride, I thought about turning 23, my ‘Jordan year’. Apparently this is a big deal, one that I am more than excited for. But I started to think about what got me here and what I have learned along the way. At this same time we were coming upon New Years, a time full of resolutions fueled by the inspiration of a clean slate.

The idea occurred to me that my birthday is about the middle of the year, perhaps even 23 weeks in, answer it is precisely 23 weeks. I think thats the universe to get my blogging ish together.

So here is my accountability to me, and hopefully, bringing some light to you. One post each week – a lesson learned or a funny story of things that only happen to me, or maybe some wisdom from the beautiful souls I have had the pleasure of holding my hand through all these ups and downs.

Thanks for being on this journey with me thus far. And here’s to 23 weeks of what made me…me

Madrid Madrid Madrid-Oh Yes We Did

 We have finally arrived in Madrid! After a 3 hour train ride, which was INCREDILY relaxing, especially since we caught it with three minutes to spare, we easily found our Airbnb with an easy metro ride from the train station. We are located right in the middle of Sol, which is perfect, because nearly everything is in walking distance. We don’t have to take the metro anywhere!

This day of travel was also pretty special as it was my 22ndbirthday, and to make it even more special my friends from home, who are also trekking around Europe changed their plans so that we would all be in Madrid at the same time, I am so lucky!  

We spent the afternoon, once we settled in, at the Retiro Parque, which is a huge and gorgeously vegetated park in Madrid, there are series of tree shaded path ways, that make it easy to wander in for hours. 

Next we stopped at the Prado Museum, during its open free hours. A line forms off to the side where everyone who is seeking free entry waits until 6:00, if you are going to try this, I recommend getting there atleast half an hour early. We got in just fine, however if it is too crowded they may turn people away. We explored this art museum, that is on the same level of cultural and historical importance as the Louvre. We came across works of Rafael and Goya, with Emily and Katy as well who met us in line.

Afterwards we went to a restaurant suggested by a local, another Emily, in case you are counting there are now three in our group. (oh my!) Emily went to Bonaventure and graduated last year, and quite adventurously moved to Madrid and currently teaches English. This dive bar, El Tigre, so far, has been the highlight of the trip, atleast in terms of food for me. When we arrived we ordered mojitos and nearly instantly they handed us 8 platters of food. We assumed they were taking advantage of the fact that we clearly had no idea what was going on. But these platters of bread with cheeses, ham, and quiche, along with croquettes, which are fried mashed potatoes with ham, were incredibly delicious. We had two rounds of platters and mojitos/sangria for 60 euros total, A STEAL, in my broken college grad opinion. After we trekked in typical Spanish fashion around 10:30 PM to another outdoor bar, we enjoyed Sangria and a beautiful sunset overlooking Madrid. I don’t know many people who get to share their birthdays with all their friends around, and even more so all the way across the world, all I have to say is THANK YOU! 

We allowed ourselves a late morning given our late night, and we started the next day with a stop in Mercada San Miguel, where we enjoyed fresh baguettes topped with jamon, Madrid’s specialty of cured ham, not sure what makes it special but it definitely is! This market is smaller than Barcelonas, and each vendor has rank on a specialty making it a little less overwhelming. Next we entered the Cathedral of Barcelona, which had some of the most ornate and unique designs that we have seen thus far. Even with the typical high pillars and tall ceilings of a cathedral, there was a clear Spanish influence in the décor, in that the ceiling had patterns of painted stripes and primary colors.

Next we toured the Royal Palace (here we were able to get a student rate, so always make sure you check-we saved 6 euros!) Although it isn’t really used anymore due to how ginormous it is, with over 3,000 rooms, it is a definitely a site to see. We only toured a total of 30 rooms and it took atleast 1.5 hours if that’s any indication of its size. The audio guide gave great insight into pieces that would have gone overlooked to the naked eye. Most rulers, although they enjoyed its beauty, said that it was far too large to live in because of the cost and creepy fear of too much ground to keep secure, and one even mentioned that every time his soup arrived it would be too cold because it took too long to come, therefore now it is only really used for special occasions, most often welcoming ambassadors and royal ceremonies and dinners. 

After viewing a few more landmarks to get out of the heat, we joined a free tour to learn about the history and many myths of the city. My favorite was that of the Peeping Tom, a golden statue which looks over ruins of one of the first churches. If you touch the left of his butt you will receive 7 years good fortune, the right 7 years of happiness and luck, scratch his back? You would have an amazing time in Madrid, and if you gave him a hug, you would return, obviously we did all 4!

We then joined Emily and Katy for dinner at the Big Banh, a restaurant that does Vietnamese twist on bocadellas, which are simply Spanish sandwiches which involve loaves of baguette and a variety of fillings. Of course we had more sangria and gelato for desert. 

Madrid thus far has been one of my favorites visits, as the atmosphere is clearly far more relaxed than anywhere I have visited. Everyone really minds their own business and just goes about there day. Emily who lives there mentioned how it is very different from American life in that people take their time to enjoy company, and aren’t very concerned with time. Maybe this would be a great place for me since I am often late?

On Wednesday it was time to travel to Granada, even more south Spain. However, we could not leave without trying the classic breakfast of churros and chocolate, and even better, at the oldest establishment where they are served – San Gines. It was everything you would dream that dessert for breakfast would be. For 4 euros (around $4) you received a cup of ‘hot chocolate’ which was literally a cup of melted chocolate, and 6 churros, again I could get used to this. It was incredibly delicious together and each piece by itself. It is tradition to drink the rest of the chocolate, but even with a sweeth tooth as large as mine, this was a struggle. 

This breakfast was absolutely the chaos of making our Granada train with 3 minutes to spare, we said this going to be an adventure right?

Say tuned…



Dancing Ed Sheeran like in the streets of Barcelona, with churro in hand 💃🏼

It is quite a feat to do an entire city, nonetheless in a foreign land, within a mere two days but we nearly did! With many ups and downs, as any adventure will have, Barcelona was incredibly beautiful. We experienced a mix of culture from ages ago to its busy city streets. It is a quite complex different from America, you can find yourself wandering through a park to a gorgeous castle, and have no idea why it’s there-as we did while in Barcelona. We effectively decided it would be someone’s future home because why not?! These older countries have cultures dating back thousands of years which offer rich culture and architecture that surrounds you everyday-aren’t we so spoiled!

Upon our Barcelona arrival we stayed up for a straight 30 hours (trust us the pain is worth the time adjustment) we wandered the street of Las Ramblas, a street filled with merchants and restaurants alike – open and breezy under arches of green trees. Nearby was La Boqueria, a tented market that offered fresh stands of everything from fresh fruits and seeds to meats and fish- along with an enchanting fishy aroma. Here we had our own pink drink-that could rival Starbucks -which was simply a pittaya and coconut smoothie, and incredibly delicious. 
We had a dinner recommended by our Airbnb host that consisted of paella,  a traditional Spanish dish or rice mixed with meats or veggies and a dish of blackbnoodles and calamari-they are black because of squid ink, heavy teeth brushing ensued after.  

Saturday we began at the Segrada Familia, a national monument that has been in the works for 200 years and is expected to be complete in 2026 – better late than never? Inside the audio guide,highly recommend, gives you great insight into the little pieces of architectural mastery that would go unnoticed to the naked eye-as the original plan was designed by Gaudi, a legend for his attention to detail and structural influence from nature. The pillars within represented the trees of nature holding up and attesting to the power of the natural world. The sun shined brightly within and directly onto a hoisted crucifix which painted the church in a beautiful light and as Gaudi said- the sun is the greatest painter- and it truly is-don’t you think-, don’t we experience natural art everyday?

We then visited a home designed by this creative man which was equally impressive. With nearly no straight lines within- each piece had meaning and relation to nature. Such as skylights in the shape of tortoise shells and ceiling beams that saved space but also respresented the ribs of animals. 

We spent the next few hours exploring and wandering through the park-where we stumbled upon that previously mentioned castle that simply was there to be beautiful.  

The Gothic Square welcomed us for dinner which was delicious with Sangria and prosciutto pizza. 

Our Sunday we began as every other day with our friends at Roma Cafe-what great pals as they helped us practice our Spanish in all of its brokenness. The consistent breakfast of a cappuccino and a croissant never disappointed. 

We grabbed the metro, which thus far has been the simplest navigation in any forgein country that I have thus experienced (and we are very grateful for that) to the train station. 

From here we took a one hour train ride to Montserrat which is a monastery tucked in the Spanish mountains- reached either by cable care or tram or for the very adventurous, a steep hike. It makes you wonder how they picked this place and how they even got up there to build it! Either way, to our surprise it was more of small city full of history and beautiful architecture and a breathtaking view of the Spanish countryside.

On our return home our wandering brought us to tour the Barcelona Cathedral which was perhaps the greatest surprise of beauty. Construction began in 1200-and here it still stands. With many side chapels and ceilings so high, it makes you feel closer to heaven. Even more so when you step outside to the Cloister, which makes you wonder if you stepped into a piece of paradise. Tall palm trees tower in open air, over clear fountain water and geese comfortably squawk around, and they definitely seem to live the life. 

We finished our last Barcelona night in a great tapas bar which served us the traditional Spanish way. Each guest in your party took turns choosing a round of tapas from the bar buffet and each memeber gets to the try them. It’s a great way to try it all and slow down the pace of a busy busy day. Coupled with mojitos and a cleansing shot at the end of the meal, we were happily content. We rightfully finished our night with dulce de leche filled churros. 
The next day brought another year of life for me and a 3 hour train ride to Madrid-where another city to be explored awaits. 

A Few Final Laps

I remember standing outside the silver door of the Reilly Center and looking through the square hole into the pool area. The quaint pool was surrounded with walls which were hung with ‘worn’ record boards. I took pictures and talked to my mom about how cool it would be to be a Division I swimmer. In those moments I never really envisioned myself in that pool, swimming and competing.

Later I talked to the coach at the time about my potential of becoming a part of the Saint Bonaventure Women’s swim team, and how we could revisit the possibility once I stepped on campus as a real Bona Wolf come September. And the time came and I remembered, and perhaps he did not, but nonetheless with some pleading and promising to swim any event that we needed, I found myself a member of the team. I didn’t expect anything really, quite honestly I don’t think I even knew what I was getting into.

It was maybe a step above the idea that people had when Elle Woods applied to Harvard, do you think she just woke up one day and said, I think Ill go to law school today!

But what I was getting into was 4 years of really hard work. Of staying late over breaks, having a consistent answer of ‘no, I can’t go out tonight, we have practice’, a handful of punishment practices, to having frozen hair because you go to school in the tundra, to having achey muscles that cause some discomfort sleeping and to permanently having water clogged in your ears.

But I was also getting into, having 20 really weird, but fun best friends. To always having a place to sit in the Hickey, usually in the same spot; to having an excuse to eat obscene amounts of food, to a lot of weird personal conversations that would probably skeeve most people out, late night bus rides that turn into Freshmen idol and car karaoke, holiday gift exchanges and some really great moments of victory, because we were always thought to be the ‘little guy’.


I remember the first team meeting that I got lost on the way to, and was therefore late to. I remember our first week of practices, of lifting and the pushing the God-forsaken prowler up and down the hallway as part of our ‘back to the grind circuit.’ I remember when I swam the second 200 fly of my entire life during practice over Christmas training and for a split second coach suggested that maybe I should start swimming that event…and I laughed because that would just be ridiculous.

Now here I am the night before my last week of my swimming career. Accumulated with 4 years of Divison 1 collegiate swimming, over a span of 3 different coaches and a shoulder surgery. Today we exchanged gifts with our team in prep for the biggest meet of our season and they gave the seniors gifts of necklaces that had the coordinates of Bonaventure on them…and being the sap I am I couldn’t help but cry, because honestly, I was just so happy.

Happy that I just whole-heartedly jumped into such a daunting task and decided ‘just to try college swimming’, because sometimes I think of the alternative if I hadn’t. Of the second family that I may not have found; the accomplishments and self-confidence that I otherwise would have missed out on; the journey that I would not have experienced with new found best friends by my side.

I can’t help but laugh as I go into my last week and last few swims in the Bonaventure RC pool in prep for A-10s because even with some pieces of ceiling in the bottom of our pool, we all have done a lot of growing, crying, shared cheers and laughs in that pool. I laugh because this week I will actually be swimming the 200 butterfly for the 12th time in my life. And I laugh because with all the change, pitfalls and triumphs this team has gone through, we never gave up on each other, and honestly the beauty of this journey is because of them.

Hillary Clinton’s Concession Speech Was Exactly What We All Needed to Hear

She’s beauty and she’s grace. Some may consider that a bit of an oversell, however considering the campaign that she, and the entirety of America endured, I think that at the very least she deserves that. She shared more personability in those near 15 minutes than I think many of us have seen from her throughout her many runs in office. To her credit, tough as nails was the only approach she was offered by the assumptions made by the male dominated political sphere that she was in. Regardless of your opinions on her politics, her choices and shortcomings, she deserves credit for standing her ground for all that she has fought for, for being the voice of so many who didn’t in the past haven’t had the voice or courage to speak up.


In my women and politics class we have discussed many topics, making this timing of taking this class quite interesting as the first major party female nominee went up against Donald Trump. However one the most impactful ideas that I have taken from this election experience and this class was the idea that young people, specifically women, cannot begin to achieve what they cannot see. It is very difficult for young women to realistically see themselves in positions of power, nonetheless political power and even more so, a seat in the oval office, if they cannot see others having attained that. In her concession speech, Hillary mentioned how throughout this election she was grateful to be our champion, a champion of women who played hardball against a competitor who some might say embody the opposite of the social progress we have been working towards; but nonetheless she has crawled her way to the top of that ladder, and that image is the closest we have come to show our young women that, yes it can be done. No, it will not always be fair and yes sometimes you have to fight a little harder than others, but you can get there. She had no problem in admitting the pain of her loss, however she used this as an opportunity to show that losing this battle isn’t losing the race. A setback isn’t worth abandoning your beliefs, which I think is the greatest advice to take from this entire experience.

Regardless of your opinion of her, “never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it, because it is” rings true. To allow the divisive and disturbing ideas that have come about throughout this election that bring us back to days of believing that those who are different from us are the ‘other’ rather than acknowledging how we all come from the same human race and deserve the same respect, is setting back all the hard work that so many have done. It’s these times where the darkness tries to take over that we must remember that we must keep fighting. People are afraid of people who don’t quit, and women, minorities, LBGQT have all gotten this far, although not far enough, because we haven’t stopped fighting. Continue the good fight; show the world that we are the great America that we already know we are. Accepting and loving and a place where we have the right to voice our opinions, that even if you don’t agree with who is going to the next president you at least have the right to say so!


It would be naïve to suggest that this place we call home is perfect, we are not who we thought we were as a nation, which has become incredibly clear in this election. However,And if you are one of millions who believe that equality and acceptance should reign over prejudice and hate, than yes we still have work to do. But as she said, condemning the winner and abandoning the nation at a time where we need love and those ideas of equality and acceptance more than ever only lets in the darkness, turns us backwards and away from the light. We still have the power. More voices have been heard and people can now recognize the divisive nature that has hidden in the shadows for so long. We cannot despair but rather take the drive that many have had in supporting equality and justice and put it into our days, every single day. The greatest fear that people have is those that will not quite, those that refuse to back down, and even in these moments where it doesn’t make sense, how hate could make it so far, we must remember how far we’ve come and why we must continue to fight in the first place.

You can watch her entire speech here: http://time.com/4564143/hillary-clinton-concession-speech/

Achieving Champion Status By Measure of Heart or Hardware?

To achieve such a great accomplishment of the Olympic games is challenging no matter the sport. These athletes have made sacrifices (a fair mix of physical excruciation and mental sanity), missed events (prom, parties, birthdays), some may not ever had had a normal life because this was their goal. In many cases, these athletes gave their lives to this. And to repay the world watches, screams and cheers their name for them representing their country in a sport.

Can you imagine not taking a day off for years, like Michael Phelps? To train and in return be known as the great athlete to have ever walked or swum the earth? Or Simone Biles who trained 360 days a year, is only 19 years old and some say she is the greatest gymnast Olympian of all time?

But, can you imagine being Missy Franklin coming back to her second Olympics, not missyqualifying in your record breaking gold medal event of the 200 back and then not making it back in the 200 back, or any event for that matter? Can you imagine being Nastia Liukin attempting another Olympic team berth, in 2012, and nearly failing on the uneven bars?

I don’t mention these moments to be points of embarrassment, but to ask you: who do you consider a champion? Those who continued when they were on top, or those who came back not knowing if they would be the best but, decided to give four more years of their life to train to find out?

They are both champions; maybe in different sense of the word, but all in all they have made stellar examples of true passion for what you do. Everyone has their own struggles that they have bounced back from. This often adds to the crown of being a champion because you had the resilience to fight through those hardships. Michael Phelps came back from the brink of dealing with a drinking problem and near suicide fueled by depression and landed on top, which is no small feat.

Although Missy Franklin didn’t experience the same setback and finds herself at the games once again, but people still call her a ‘burn out’ saying that she should’ve stopped in London.

But should she have?

By coming back she, like many athletes who come back for more, is showing the same deeply rooted resilience to keep forging ahead. Sure it is a great accomplishment to stand on top of a podium, but many knew or figured that those would be the outcome of those London Games. I think a true test of a champion is those who continue. Those who come back even amongst the threats of ‘being a has been’. Who pick themselves up and say I can do better. Because what would be worth more? Knowing you were on top when everyone thought you should be or continuing to try even when people counted you out. Sure you may not walk home with a medal around your neck but isn’t knowing that you left every bit of blood, sweat, tears and passion in that arena just as good?

It is easy to stop when you are on top, you will always be remembered as a champion. But those who come back just to see what they have left, don’t they deserve the same recognition?