Emily inspires a sense of peace and calmness in the midst of chaos. Her positive energy is contagious, making it such a pleasure to work with her. She was one of our amazing meditation instructors and she helped so many of our students ground, calm their minds, and re-connect with themselves. Our first meditation retreat for women, was a success thanks to her! She designed a comprehensive meditation & yoga program that helped nurture a fresh start and a healthier way of being. She complemented it with a mindful nutrition practice and everyone LOVED her thoughtfully prepared, delicious vegetarian meals and snacks. Above all, she is a wonderful mom that pours her heart and soul into raising a loving (and mindful!) child. Her upcoming book ‘Big Time Journey of a SmallTown Girl’ is a must if you want to find the path back to yourself!

– Maria J Hernandez, recharj® Co-owner + Managing Partner

In the stirring memoir, Big Time Journey of a Small Town Girl, the reader follows Emily Szajda out of a failed relationship in the United States ultimately across much of Europe to find meaning, personal empowerment, and even love. Without giving away too much, let’s just say Szajda does a wonderful job of using her experiences to develop richly-deserved wisdom that she shares with the reader.
Early on, she must cast away her self-perception (“We often accept our own destructive chatter as truth”) in order to forge a new identity, an approach fraught with risk and vulnerability. “I was out to discover, to face my demons, to feel uncomfortable and at times, lonely.” That meant heading off to Europe as a young woman by herself. While she did have some previous travel experience, her investment in finding both employment and a new vision of her future in Belgium is one that requires incredible resilience and patience, especially the arduous process of becoming an independent contractor.
Throughout her lively and tumultuous journey, she has no shortage of male companions, from the tour guides Kyle and Adam to the Irishman Kevin to the political operative Bartosz. Ranging from the cobbled streets of Bruges to the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia to the medieval quarter of Krakow to the Catalan cities of Northern Spain, those adventures are marked by Szajda’s evocative and transporting descriptions of the sights, like this vision of the western coast of Ireland: “From the valley, you could look up at the steep hills carpeted in lush green vegetation and see majestic waterfalls tucked into the ridges of ancient passageways.”
What is heartening about Szajda’s memoir is that she continues to grow and to hone her identity right up to the very last page. Even as she carries the heavy psychic burdens of a troubled past, the messiness of her seemingly never-ending challenges grounds her story with a realism that makes the advice she offers at each chapter’s conclusion both credible and hard-earned. Simply put, this memoir is inspiring.
– Michael P. Hartnett, Author, The Blue Rat, Black Rose Writing

Excellent reading! I loved all of Emily’s life stories. They were well developed per chapter that time flew away when reading the book. Every chapter is worth reading, her stories are breath-taking little moments (but big moments) in Emily’s life. I got inspired to travel, to absorb every moment of traveling. Who am I? Emily came closer to that question.

– Clemens Morvay

This book is a must-read!!! It has raw emotion, relatable stories from the Midwest! Interesting travel stories with bravery and woman power!! I loved this book and highly recommend it!

– Michelle

Emily’s easy-going spirit and can-do attitude are elating. Whether she is in the yoga studio or working one-on-one with clients she shares her passion and drive, motivating those around her to be the best version of themselves. Her knowledge and experience shine through her teachings and are relatable, encouraging change. Having moved abroad years ago, I can find myself reliving the experiences we have in common through her inspirational words. It is amazing how stepping outside your sphere of comfort changes you in such profound ways. Emily shares her story to stir those among us that hear the little voice inside wanting more and still need that extra assurance that the gamble will be worth the risk. Emily’s book and life’s adventure are a testament that there is no telling what limit to where your path may lead when you open yourself up to opportunity.

– Erica Lutes, Executive Director, Fulbright Belgium, Luxembourg and European Union

Much more than just a memoir, Big Time Journey of a Small Town Girl is a manual for inspiration and overcoming challenges. Using the lens of really fascinating travel experiences combined with interactions with colorful characters, the author makes it easy for us to follow her on her journey. Highly recommended for anyone who is looking for a large dose of inspiration and wisdom.

N. Egan, Author Shift: The Art of Transforming Limitations

Emily brings straight into her world with all the dynamic twists and turns of international travel and committing to the immigration process. I felt like I was doing it. In fact, I feel confident that I could use her book as a guide to doing it.

Her voice is clear and honest and speaks directly to your heart. Her book is a perfect blend of nonfiction with the intrigue of a novel. It’s a very refreshing and empowering read!

– Cordelia Gaffar, Author and Motivational Speaker

This is an interesting book that reads easy, has a great flow, and keeps one wanting to read more. It is great to follow the author’s journey, her decisions, and the places mentioned. I highly recommend this book. Thanks for writing it! ~ Jacqueline Pirtle, Author of 365 Days of Happiness

Jacqueline Pirtle, Author of 365 Days of Happiness

I loved this book. I highly recommend it. It was an easy read, I love how she told about her personal experiences and then reflected at the end of each chapter. The reflection related to everyone and put in more general terms. This book inspired me. How you can overcome your past and not let it define you. You can take something unpleasant or negative in your life and turn it positive. You do not have to settle, you can step out of your comfort zone and go for what has been placed on your heart. This is an easy fun read. Everyone should read it!!!

– Diane Maschmann

An amazing memoir by a local girl. It is well written and an unbelievable story. She offers advice in the form of the lessons she learned from the trying times, and the good times, in her life. I am glad I read it.

– Tiffany


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