UUFE’s Emily Cranwell answers the Five Big Questions and talks about wearing butter cookies on her fingers, raising Lindan, savoring Summer, winning marathons and triathlons, and how she found UUFE.
“I knew I belonged the first time we read the Covenant aloud.”
Where were you raised, and how?
I was raised in Massachusetts with an older sister by three years, Sarah. For my youngest years, my father was a stay-at-home dad for us girls. We moved across the state when I was ten to follow my mom’s job working for the Social Security Administration. We lived in a suburb, Wakefield to be exact, and I attended middle school and high school there. My parents gave us a lot of room to be ourselves. I played in the band, sang in the chorus, and acted with the drama club. We attended an Episcopal church all of those years, and my mom was always an active volunteer. My dad sang in the choir and my sister and I sang in the children’s choir for years, too. Some of my earliest memories are of parties and coffee hours at our church. I used to wear the butter cookies as rings on my fingers.
How have you made your living?
I make my living as a teacher, currently 5th grade math. Almost all of my jobs have been caring for children in one capacity or another, from babysitter, to childcare worker, to camp counselor, to teacher. I started out with Pre-K, then kindergarten and first, then second grade for ten years before skipping up a few years to try something new. I enjoy the energy and joy that kids bring to school with them every day. Every day is a little bit different. I also love that I get a fresh start every September.
What’s the most remarkable thing you’ve done?
I believe that one of the most remarkable things that any of us do is to parent. Being a mom has brought immeasurable joy to my life. I am unfailingly in awe of the boy we are raising as we learn more about who he is becoming.
Personally, I am also very proud of my accomplishments as an athlete. I was a “band geek” growing up, so when I decided to try running as an adult, I wasn’t sure I would make my first mile. My first training program was with Amy Eutsey’s Marathon Rocks! program, and with her coaching and the support of a team, I ran my first half-marathon. Later I ran my first marathon (Marine Corps) and first triathlon, sprint distance. In 2011 before becoming a mom, I ran the Eagleman 70.3 Triathlon which involves a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, and then the 13.1 miles of a half marathon. For the last seven years, I took a step back in my training as mama-hood took over, but this May I completed my first sprint distance triathlon since that time. I even finished third place in my age group!
What’s the Next Big Thing for you?
I don’t have any big plans in the works. So for right now, I am going to savor summer. It is a tremendous blessing as a teacher that I get this time each year to refresh and recharge. I will have some time to myself while Lindan is in camps so that I can be productive around the house, take and sort photos, exercise, or just relax and read. We have some camping trips planned, we will take out the pontoon for some lazy days, and we will also drive out to visit my sister on Lake Michigan.
Then I can think about my next big thing when September rolls around.
How did you and UUFE find each other?
When my husband, Todd, and I moved to the Eastern Shore we were looking for a like-minded community to be a part of. Todd had visited UU congregations in other areas, so we decided to check out UUFE. We quickly found a whole tribe of friends, passionate about many of the same things that we were, including social justice issues. I knew I belonged the first time we read the Covenant aloud. It didn’t take long for us to join and find ways to get involved.
How do you serve UUFE?
Over the last few years my involvement with UUFE has been mostly Board-related. I was asked to take on the role of President a few years back, a job that I found challenging and rewarding. After a year’s “rest” I have stepped back into the VP role and have enjoyed the big picture thinking and planning involved. I have also had fun helping to organize a Trivia Night and enjoy the connections I make when I usher monthly.