“The only person who can open the door to inner truths and lead to the light is yourself.” – Baron Baptiste
I met Elena a few years ago while I was working on a United Nations Foundation campaign with Shot@Life. Like me, Elena was a travel blogger at the time and we were both involved in social good campaigns. We had stayed in touch over the years through a community of blogging friends and our paths crossed again two years back when Elena launched a new career as a life coach. She reached out to let me know what she was doing and invited a handful of friends to participate in her first group-based life coaching seminar. It was a six week program all done online and once a week our fantastic group of ten women came together for a live online talk with Elena leading us along the way through life coaching, meditation and yoga. It was a life-changing seminar for me which stirred many emotions I honestly didn’t know I’d had. I continued on after doing a summer session of 1:1 coaching sessions with Elena and have followed her work ever since. She is an incredibly inspiring woman who has reinvented her career three times, beat cancer at a very young age and is now working to help others like me chase their dreams. Naturally, I invited Elena to participle in my Inspiring Women series. Here is what she has to say.
Where did you grow up? What were some of your favorite activities during your childhood?
I grew up in Michigan after moving to the United States from Italy when I was 2 ½. My favorite activities were reading, playing teacher with my dolls, and playing tennis. Most of my summers (until I was in junior high) were spent in Italy with my grandparents, in Venice, at a beach, and in the mountains. I loved being at the beach and getting gelato with my paternal grandparents and being in the mountains and searching for “fragoline” (mini-strawberries) with my maternal grandparents.
What/Where did you study in college and what was your first career outside of school?
I studied International Affairs and Russian studies at George Washington University. My first job was as a study abroad liaison in Florence Italy until I returned to the U.S. and went to graduate school to pursue a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction and eventually began a 12-year career as an elementary school teacher.
What shaped you into the woman you are today? Was there one defining moment?
Oh my goodness. I feel like there were several defining moments. Moving to Italy on my own after completing my undergraduate. Being diagnosed and then treated for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in my early 20’s. One failed engagement, the birth of my miracle baby daughter, my divorce, and then day I tried paragliding in Jackson Hole, Wyoming (Read about Elena’s experience here). If I had to choose one, it would probably be the process of watching my daughter become a young woman – she has always been one of my greatest teachers.