Talking with #MakeItHappen Micro Grant Recipient Emma Samuels!

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Emma Samuels is a registered dietitian/nutritionist with focus in weight loss, mindful eating, group facilitation, long term care and family nutrition. She is an entrepreneur, yoga fanatic, foodie, philanthropist, serial volunteer and mom.   

Emma’s idea to run interfaith Jewish and Muslim nutrition workshops for women in the Boston area was recently chosen to receive a $1,000 #MakeItHappen micro grant! To read more about her project and to volunteer to help her #MakeItHappen visit Emma’s idea page.

What three hashtags would you use to describe yourself?

#passionate #energetic #havingitall

What inspired you to apply for a #MakeItHappen micro grant and what do you hope it will achieve?  

This was a project that I knew needed to happen in the Boston area. Nutrition and healthy eating is relevant to everyone. Adding a layer of interfaith exploration and understanding makes the experience powerful and unique.

I am fortunate to be working with my partner, colleague and long time friend and we encompass the diversity and experience to make these workshops happen. We are currently working with families with growing children in our communities, and this was a very natural and much needed service that we knew we could do and do successfully. We are confident that we can help cultivate good feelings and enjoyment around food, mindfulness of eating habits and thought provoking experiences of being together.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Making breakfast for three rambunctious and loud little boys. After that, I still carry that giddy feeling of "what will today bring?" Each day is an adventure and an opportunity to find joy and be a better person.

What is one change you want to see in the world?

For more people to find their passion in life and let that energy drive them to a higher and deeper calling. I believe that all people are capable of more, and to see people embrace their passions and talents is beautiful to watch. When people live their life to their full potential, we actually raise the bar of humanity. I believe this makes the world a better, stronger and more impactful place to live. We're talking world peace.

What is the biggest risk you have taken and how did it pay off?

Great question. I believe my biggest risk was changing careers from marketing into the world of Nutrition. I knew this would change my trajectory in life and would require a lot of work to get there. Four years of graduate school plus a year internship was a big sacrifice for my family. I feared that turning a life-long interest into a career would make me like it less. To my surprise, this was not the case. I am grateful for this career change and I love what I do.

Have you ever failed before and what lessons did you learn?

I have failed so so so many times! I took rejection really hard growing up and it is shocking how painful failure can be today. It never feels good. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I have embraced this and I have a much better understanding of the role I play in my failures (and also successes). I have realized that when things don't work out, there is a reason and an opportunity to learn and grow from that.

I also believe that we are not meant to do everything. Therefore I now try to focus my time and energy on initiatives that I love and I am good at, and have accepted circumstances where despite my desire, I am not the right fit; there are other people better aligned for that job or position or role and this is OKAY.

My failures have taught me as much about myself as my successes. When I can understand what doesn't or won't work, I am then better positioned to see what does and will. No question a hard yet useful lesson to learn.

Who are your heroes?

I don't have any specific heroes, rather I find moments when ordinary people do extraordinary and heroic things. The teachers who taught my boys to read, the clinicians and helpers who are extra mindful with a scared patient, the mom who juggles it all and still makes it look easy. I am in awe of the gifts that people can give each other and the lessons from which we can learn. Most of my friends and family are my heroes and they make me want to be a better person. It is not only what they do, it is how they make people feel.

Where do you find solitude?

I find solitude in one place: on my yoga mat at Baptiste (hot power vinyasa) yoga. It is the one place I can shut my mind down and exercise my body. This makes me stronger both physically and mentally. I also find moments of peace during rare one-on-one conversations with one of my boys, or when taking a walk or even quiet moments while food shopping.

Where do you find community?

In as many places a possible! I am a people person, so being surrounded by people has always been important to me. I don't think I truly understood the word community prior to my involvement in my Jewish Federation. Through my volunteer and leadership experience in my Federation, I have learned both the power and importance of community.  I now look for and help create community at my boys' schools, with other parents, at my temple and through my volunteer efforts. It truly takes a village.

If you had to give up one modern convenience what would it be and why?

Driving. I love to walk and do so as often as possible. I am fortunate to be able to walk pretty much everywhere: kids schools, the market, yoga, etc. It takes more time and I need to plan accordingly, yet I am a more balanced person when I can be physically active.

What is your favorite Jewish memory?

I have three: 1. Sitting next to my father on the piano bench during temple services when I was a young child. (He was the congregation's piano player.) 2. Cooking with my mom for holidays, from childhood to present. 3. Breaking Yom Kippur fast with a shot of single malt scotch with my parents and brothers while standing around the kitchen island at my parents condo and making a toast to the new year together. (We were all of drinking age!)

The Schusterman Philanthropic Network is proud to empower emerging leaders to explore their values, identity and new ways to strengthen their communities. We believe that as we work together to repair the world, it is important to share our diverse experiences and perspectives along the way. We encourage the expression of personal thoughts and reflections here on the Schusterman blog. Each post reflects solely the opinion of its author and does not necessarily represent the views of the Foundation, its partner organizations or all program participants.