Crazy: A Review of April

May 16, 2013 by

April was…crazy. Personally, professionally, in all ways absolutely crazy. It seems like every month this year has been crazy, which makes it doubly hard to focus on maintaining peace in mind. Nevertheless I’ll continue working on it.

April’s review

Here are a few key things that happened this month:

  • I went out eating, dancing and drinking with a couple of my best girlfriends on a weekend when Dan was out of town. We ended up closing down a bar at 2:30am which hasn’t happened in a long time. Even though I was really tired the next day it was so much fun! I really love to dance and often forget how important it is to me.My_neighborhood_in_bloom.
  • Dan’s birthday was this month so I took him out for a Caps game and a night on the town. Again, we had so much fun. Hockey is absolutely my favorite sport to watch in person and it was a great game. As always, spending dedicated time with my hubs was the best part of this trip.
  • I presented at a conference on supervisory skills (and then wrote a blog post about it). I haven’t presented to this audience before, so it was a great opportunity to get to know some new people and continue building my business.
  • We hosted our housewarming party – finally! It was great to see so many old friends and meet/play with their little ones. There are more and more kids among my group of friends so our parties have changed quite a bit since the old days 🙂
  • I attended and participated in several meetings for my usual transportation groups and commissions as well as the short-term parking group I’m on.

All in all, it was an exhausting month, especially because work was very busy as well. The biggest personal milestone that happened this month was the housewarming party and finally “opening” the house up for visitors. Several people hadn’t seen our place yet, so it was great to show off the new kitchen and all the work that went into making the house ours.Farragut_Square__dreaming_in_the_sun_while__zachsmith_101_and_I_grab_lunch_at_the_food_trucks.

The biggest business milestone I accomplished was to get my new website design and header launched (after far more hours of work than I originally intended to put into it). Getting that launched was sometimes an exhausting and frustrating process, so you can bet I won’t be doing it again soon! But it did allow me a chance to more clearly highlight the coaching work I can do with people (you maybe?) and the great content already on the blog.

The most valuable lesson I learned this month is that I need to take advantage of mental downtime whenever and where ever I can. There were, quite literally, almost no hours of any day in April when I wasn’t working, traveling somewhere, reading in preparation for something, cleaning, cooking or any number of other things. So when I had a chance to walk slowly home a couple of times through the beautiful spring foliage in my neighborhood or just stare out the window during my bus ride instead of doing work, it was a real balm to my mind and soul.

Next month

For the rest of May, I’m going to focus on taking time to relax whenever I can. I’m also going to work on trying to parcel out my time carefully so that I can try to preserve some of it for relaxation while still getting my work done.

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Faster than the speed of light: my review of 2012

Dec 31, 2012 by

My good friend and life coach extraordinaire Rosetta Thurman of Happy Black Woman recently posted some incredibly helpful questions to help guide her readers through a review of 2012. I’ve used these questions to take a look back at 2012. Coming up soon, I’ll be borrowing her questions to take a look forward at 2013.

Balboa Peninsula at sunset. - November 18, 2012 at 08:42PM

Balboa Peninsula at sunset.

This review was really helpful for me, partly because it just forced me to sit down and think back on what has been an incredibly fast, busy, crazy, stressful, but ultimately satisfying year. I encourage you to give a try too, even if you just write it down for yourself. (And my photo year in review sprinkled throughout the post – courtesy of Instagram)!


What I Want to Remember About 2012

What was the most valuable lesson you learned this year?

What I learned is really something that I already knew (or should have known), but needed to have reinforced: that I’m extremely privileged in many ways, but that I still don’t know everything. In fact, I know almost nothing. Knowing and owning that was the only way for me to move forward through some of the most difficult challenges of my life.

What was the biggest personal milestone you reached this year in your relationships, health, finances, education and/or lifestyle?

My husband and I bought a house! Obviously this has lots of financial, personal and lifestyle implications and so far I’m really happy with the decision. While I don’t believe in the necessity of ‘checking the boxes’ to get to grown-up-ness, it does feel good for both of us to attain a mutual financial and life goal.

What professional accomplishments (at work or in your business) were you most proud of this year?

Long Beach harbor, as seen from the Queen Mary. - November 20, 2012 at 09:21PM

Long Beach harbor, as seen from the Queen Mary.

I’m most proud about developing, almost from scratch, a brand new set of trainings for folks around the country doing planning, land use, transportation and urban design work. This year, I’ve spent almost 80% of my time (at my full-time job) working with these folks and the opportunity to build and deliver trainings that are useful to them has been really satisfying for me.

What was your favorite family/friends moment from 2012?

I have two favorites this year: First would be my family’s ‘Christmas in July’ camping trip earlier this year. Though my sister couldn’t attend due to a last minute work issue, we still had a great time. My mom brought a small Christmas tree that she fully decorated and also wrapped up a bunch of presents for us. And of course we did our usual family camping activities: sitting in front of the fire, eating, drinking (lots of) alcohol, playing lawn games and occasionally taking a short walk (we’re a lazy bunch, as you can tell). It was great!

Second was the Team Awesome Reunion of YNPNdc Communications Committee members, hosted by my good friend Emily and her husband Neil at their lovely house. We had been working together for two years but rarely spent any social time together and so we had a long, leisurely barbecue and just talked. There is almost nothing that I love more than spending time with friends so this particular party was ideal.

What was the best book/blog/song/movie/restaurant/city/country/etc. you discovered this year?

This is a tough one. I read voraciously, watch lots of movies and travel all of the time so I’m constantly discovering cool new things and places. Here are a couple highlights:

  • I read the Hunger Games series (3 books) at the beginning of the year and they really shook me to the core. With the most complicated, frustrating, amazing protagonist, beautiful writing style and diverse, devastating thematic elements I’ve read in a long time, they are definitely at the top of the list.
  • The City of Portland, ME – A couple of colleagues and I visited there for a training and we were completely charmed. Granted, we stayed in the most tourist friendly area, Old Port, but I was still impressed by how picturesque everything was. Plus, there are plenty of direct flights there, tons of amazing restaurants everywhere and plenty of cute shops for me to spend my tourist dollar in (I always try to support locally owned businesses when traveling). My husband and I now have it on our list as a vacation spot in the future.

    Beautiful flowers from my sweet husband on our first anniversary. I'm the luckiest woman in the world!

    Beautiful flowers from my sweet husband on our first anniversary. I’m the luckiest woman in the world!


What I Want to Leave Behind As I Enter 2013

Which personal development area(s) did you make the LEAST progress on this year: health, finances, education, relationships, family, work and/or lifestyle?

Education. While I did some things in the course of my work that were challenging and required me to learn, I did not spend as much time on it as I wanted. And to be honest, I’m not sure where to go next in terms of my education – barring grad school which I can’t afford for the next couple of years.

What promises (to yourself or others) did you break in 2012?

I repeatedly broke my promise to myself to let go of things more. Out of all my flaws, holding grudges/obsessing over things long over is one of my worst.

What arguments/gossip/hurtful comments, if any, did you participate in or make this year that you wish you could take back and/or apologize for?

Too many to count. My husband and I argued about the house a LOT (far more than we’ve ever argued over anything else in our 7 years together). I gossiped a lot about friends, family, co-workers and others and much of that gossip was judgmental in nature. While I don’t feel the need to apologize for all of it (I don’t think gossip per se is a bad thing but it can easily turn bad), there is a lot I regret.

What opportunities, if any, did you miss out on in 2012 because of fear or procrastination?

This is our kitchen at the moment.

This is our kitchen at the moment.

I missed out on some guest blogging opportunities as well as some opportunities to speak at conferences or meetings due to procrastination.

What did you do in 2012, if anything, that was out of alignment with your values?

I didn’t always pitch in at work when it was needed. I really believe in everyone working together to get a job done, but I let my frustration at specific events obscure that value.


A few more pictures:

Smart growth; Charlottesville pedestrian mall edition

Shenandoah Valley dreaming.

A view of our new neighborhood from our new front door.

Christmas spirit in the office!




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Stressed to the point of breaking

Aug 27, 2012 by

The next 3 months are going to be the most stressful of my life. I tend to handle stress pretty well, but I’m a little worried about it nonetheless.*

In the next three months my husband and I are going to buy a house, renovate the kitchen in that house, as well as paint and do a bunch of other smaller repairs, and then move into the house. That would be plenty, but throw in work travel to no less than five places – Omaha, Knoxville, Portland (ME), San Francisco and Denver, most of which require me to lead trainings either single-handedly or with one other person – and you have a recipe for a very, very, stressed out Elisa.

It’s gonna suck and its gonna be great at the same time.

The suck – in a word: exhausting. Traveling is exhausting under the most ideal conditions (like when I’m jetting off to the Caribbean). Traveling for work seems to exhaust me even more because of well, work. While I don’t feel obligated to spend every spare second that I’m on the plane or in the hotel working, I do need to spend a substantial amount of time writing, answering emails, taking calls, etc. And then after I arrive, I often go straight to a meeting or training where I need to stand up in front of a bunch of people and put my best self forward. As a result, I consume far too much caffeine, tend to socialize with those folks over too many drinks, eat all kinds of food I wouldn’t ordinarily, and avoid exercise in favor of sleep (but still don’t get enough).

Buying a house, renovating it and moving are also sucky; each in their own special way. Giving up my life savings and the next 30 years of my money to a mortgage company is terrifying and involves more paperwork than I’ve dealt with in my entire life combined. Renovating brings paralyzing fear of screwing things up or having a contractor do it for you, spending even more money and then potentially having to live in a house where you have to wash the dishes in the bathroom tub. Not fun. And of course moving: packing, purging, cleaning, breaking, losing, organizing, re-organizing and so much more.

I’m so tired just thinking about it.

On the other hand…there are lots of great things here too.

The decision to buy a home is a direct fulfillment of one of my themes for this year: to shit or get off the pot. After much discussion and weighing the pros and cons, my husband and I decided that, in the short term, buying a house was a better decision for us than me going to grad school (I’m still planning to go in a few years once our savings have recouped). The place we’re buying is a great deal and it feels even better because we stuck to our guns through a really tough house hunt to get what we wanted. We’re finally going to have a second bedroom, the opportunity to have pets and a little piece of the American dream.

All the travel I’m going to be doing for work is actually very exciting since I’ll be doing what I love most: training and teaching people. On top of that, I get to train them on some of the skills that I have the most experience in and passion for: organizing, outreach, stakeholder engagement, messaging, communications and coalition building. The trainings will allow them to do their work better, thereby improving thousands of lives all over the country; it’s everything a dyed-in-the-wool idealist could ask for.

How am I going to handle all of this?

I’m going to focus on getting enough sleep, eating right, and exercising whenever I can, even if its just for a short while. I’m going to take lots of deep breaths and moments to myself whenever I can. I’m going to ask myself constantly: “What is the most important to do right now?” And then I’ll do it. I’m going to rely on my support system of friends and family. And I might just cry once in a while – its a great way to release that gigantic stressball for a bit.

What other suggestions do you have when dealing with stress? What should I do to keep relatively happy and healthy? Let me know in the comments!


*I may not post as frequently for the next few months, so bear with me. I am thinking about some posts around the training topics I’m working on for my travel, but I’m always open to ideas and suggestions from my readers.

Photo credit

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Getting married is like taking a job – because its finally about you!

Nov 9, 2011 by

After a few weeks out of the country and another couple catching up and getting grounded, I’m back in the saddle again! The honeymoon was wonderful, just like I knew it would be. Beautiful, long, hot days on the beach or at the pool, many tall, cold (alcoholic) drinks and lots of time spent relaxing and not thinking. About anything.

That is the glory of vacation: not taking it can kill you, but when you can get away its like taking a metaphorical broom to your brain and clearing out the clutter.

My clutter is gone and I can look back and appreciate the time we spent in the Dominican Republic – especially the wedding itself. Planning the wedding wasn’t really about me or him, but the actual ceremony certainly was and it was great! I’m sharing a few pictures so you can get a glimpse.

One other thing: I’ve been writing a lot about personal stuff lately, so thanks for bearing with me. In the weeks to come though, I’ve got a bunch of posts queued up on my core topics of leadership and personal development, workplace etiquette, job searching and a few good rants of course. Thanks again dear readers!

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On hiatus

Oct 13, 2011 by

As you may have seen from my Twitter feed, I’m officially on vacation – and out of the country – for the next couple of weeks. I won’t be posting while I’m away, but you can keep yourself entertained by reading some of my popular older posts. Enjoy and I’ll ‘see’ you when I get back!

  • The most important part of career success – I think planning is one of the most important elements – if not THE most important element – in success. Read more.
  • Three steps to start (or improve) a relationship with anyone – Whether you’re looking for a job, trying to keep your job, networking, making friends, moving to a new place, meeting your in-laws or anything in between, you need to have and grow good relationships. After years of doing this professionally and personally, I’ve boiled the science of relationship maintenance down to three steps for you. Read more.
  • Stop giving crappy presentations – I’m completely fed up with having to sit through horrible presentations that offer little to no value and are usually boring to boot. I just don’t understand! Conferences have been around for decades: how is it that people can not figure out how to give a decent presentation that imparts knowledge or provides a call to action (or both)??? Read more.
  • It’s so hard to say goodbye – I was once an irrepressible idealist. (Hell, maybe I still am.) And I once devoted my life, in a fairly literal sense, to an issue that I cared about more than almost anything in the world. For three years and in two organizations I worked very long hours for very little pay. I was sick a lot of the time because I was exhausted, stressed out and living unhealthily. But for a while, I loved it. Read more.
  • Ladies: stop committing professional suicide – One of my more controversial posts, but at least you’ll know my answer to the question “Are you changing your name after you get married?”
Flickr photo courtesy of user Kenzoka
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