Say ‘Neyt’ to Networking and ‘Yes’ to Connecting


“Eventually everything connects – people, ideas, objects. The quality of the connections is the key to quality per se.” – Charles Eames

When I moved to the Washington, D.C., area nearly three years ago, I underestimated how ubiquitous networking was here. This Town is notorious for encouraging meet-ups and subsequent interactions–both good and bad . From its countless Happy Hours to its various political functions, it takes the cake for networking. (D.C. should change its motto from “Justice for All” to “Network or Die!”) If this sounds scary, fear not–anyone can network. However, cultivating great connections or interpersonal relationships with others is what will set you apart in a place as swampy as Washington, D.C.

Are you meeting the right people to have as friends, colleagues, and possible romantic interests? Or are you surrounding yourself with people who are Debbie Downers, negative influences, or opportunists? If you fall into the latter camp, perhaps it’s wise to reevaluate who you associate with.

Like many other transplants, I was initially nervous about the prospect of making quality friends and forming good connections here in the nation’s capital. It’s natural to feel that way after you relocate here or learn about a city’s (i.e. Washington, D.C.) somewhat negative reputation. Admittedly, I wasn’t worried about meeting people; I was worried about meeting the wrong people. Thankfully, with maturity and good judgment, I didn’t succumb to  serial networking with poor returns. (If I can do it, so can you!)

I’m currently reading Kimberly Guilfoyle’s new book Making The Case: How to Be Your Own Best Advocate  and it illuminates this very concept about prioritizing connections over networking.  Ms. Guilfoyle writes:

“…Don’t make everything about yourself. This is especially true as you try to build your sphere of influence. For instance, it is way more effective to really connect with others than to just network…Now whenever I meet someone of interest I save his information too. I don’t do this for career purposes only. I find that there are also personal advantages to meeting and staying in touch with a wide variety of people,” (98).

How many of you out there feel like your interpersonal relationships could fare better? Everyone longs for a solid network of  friends and business associates–even substantive romantic relationships. With this predilection towards instant gratification today in all facets of life–instant success, instant love, instant praise, etc.–we lose sight of important things like prioritizing interpersonal connections.

A February 2013 Boston Globe article sheds more light on instant gratification:

The demand for instant results is seeping into every corner of our lives, and not just virtually. Retailers are jumping into same-day delivery services. Smartphone apps eliminate the wait for a cab, a date, or a table at a hot restaurant. Movies and TV shows begin streaming in seconds. But experts caution that instant gratification comes at a price: It’s making us less patient.

As quick instances of networking becomes increasingly mundane, why not aspire to make deep connections with others? Here are several ways to achieve that:

1) Seek out people with common interests

When forging fulfilling relationships, seek out people who share common interests with you. Whether it’s shared political beliefs, similar hobbies, or common background(s), seek out those who you can relate with the most. For example, I gravitate towards people who are also politically conservative, love the outdoors, value hard work, exude intellect, love traveling, enjoy cooking/baking, and are freedom-minded. A lot of times there’s huge overlap. Occasionally someone who isn’t all that politically similar will come into the mix–there are few exceptions!–so don’t rule out those with slight differences. Additionally, seek out connections who will balance you out. Make sure your connections know when to relax and to refrain from politics when necessary. Seek out well-rounded people!

2) Add, don’t subtract, people from your group

One problem I notice here in D.C. is how people gravitate to cliques. (I suspect the same applies to most large cities.) If you’re not “cool” or  have that “it” factor, you’re instantly shunned. (I thought cliques were a thing of the past, say, high school? Apparently I was wrong.) When in doubt, create your own group of friends. For instance, I love bringing different groups of friends together. I sense everyone will get along, share a laugh, and enjoy new company. (Yay good discernment and intuition!) Don’t shy away from adding more people to your ranks. You never know who’ll enter your circle of friends!

3) Connect with people who elevate you, not those who bring you down

Nothing is worse than surrounding yourself with unpleasant people who’ll bring you down. (We’ve all encountered these kinds of people.)  If someone constantly criticizes you, demeans you, or belittles you, drop them. Constructive criticism is healthy; constant berating is not. Rest assured,  friends and loved ones will look out for your best interests. Seek out those who’ll be a positive influence on you!

I hope this post will inspire you to make the most out of connecting with people.

Were my musings too much? Was I on point about forging connections? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section!

New Counter Cultured Article on MILSPO Project

Yesterday I published an article at Counter Cultured about a great organization that empowers military spouses to launch their own businesses. Below is an excerpt:

The Milspo Project was started by Nicole Hope and Elizabeth Boardman, who each own their respective businesses. The organization is comprised of, “a team of creative and passionate military spouses entrepreneurs, who want to empower the military spouse community with the tools and skills to help them succeed in business and in life.”

Vice President Nicole Hope was kind enough to let me interview her about their organization:

Continue reading at Counter Cultured.

New Counter Cultured Article: Celebrate National Fishing and Boating Week

I’ve penned a new column about National Fishing and Boating Week. Below is an excerpt:

Who here loves to go fishing and boating? It’s time to gear up for National Fishing and Boating Week!

From June 6-14, 2015, anglers and boating enthusiasts  – new or seasoned, young or old – can show their support by getting out on the water. What are some benefits to fishing? It’s an excellent way to destress, connect with nature, and tout true conservation.

Continue reading at Counter Cultured.

New Counter Cultured Article: Interview with Miss Virginia Rosemary Willis Ferrera

I recently interviewed my friend and former Miss Virginia 2012 Rosemary Willis Ferrera for Counter Cultured. Below is an excerpt from the interview:

Rosemary Willis Ferrera is someone right-minded Millennials should get to know. We’ve had the pleasure of making her acquaintance here in Northern Virginia and are happy to profile her!

Rosemary is perhaps best known for her involvement in the Miss America Organization (MAO) as Miss Virginia 2012. She currently works for Washington Free Beacon as their Outreach Director and maintains the fitness blog Soul Strong Fitness. Ferrera is a 2013 graduate of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA and is married to her college sweetheart, Ryan.

Continue reading at Counter Cultured.

#WearingOrange Campaign Pushes Same Old Gun Control Narrative


Countless celebrities, politicians,  and other public figures have tweeted pictures with the hashtag #WearingOrange to draw attention to National Gun Violence Awareness Day. Sounds like a noble cause, right? I don’t personally know anyone who’s for senseless violence–do you?  What could possibly be wrong with this occasion? Plenty of things.

Why be skeptical? It’s an effort headed up by Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety, the parent organization of Moms Demand Action and Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Both of these groups are also notorious for their anti-gun, pro-disarmament positions. They exploit tragedies and profit from fearmongering.  Several people have tweeted me saying this is a nonpartisan, moderate campaign. The list of featured sponsors suggests otherwise:

  • Amnesty International
  • Brady Campaign
  • The Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus
  • Center for American Progress
  • Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
  • Media Matters for America
  • National Action Network
  • Unite Blue

The anti-gun crowd has continuously framed the debate suggesting the presence of more guns will lead to more violence. (False!) Newsflash: guns don’t kill people; people kill people. Why can’t criminals be held responsible for their wrongdoing? Why do those of us who safely operate firearms and actually preach real gun safety have to be scapegoated? Legal gun owners are responsible, mature, and highly trained. Actor Vince Vaughn summed this up well in a recent GQ interview:

“I support people having a gun in public full stop, not just in your home. We don’t have the right to bear arms because of burglars; we have the right to bear arms to resist the supreme power of a corrupt and abusive government. It’s not about duck hunting; it’s about the ability of the individual. It’s the same reason we have freedom of speech. It’s well known that the greatest defence against an intruder is the sound of a gun hammer being pulled back. All these gun shootings that have gone down in America since 1950, only one or maybe two have happened in non-gun-free zones. Take mass shootings. They’ve only happened in places that don’t allow guns. These people are sick in the head and are going to kill innocent people. They are looking to slaughter defenceless human beings. They do not want confrontation. In all of our schools it is illegal to have guns on campus, so again and again these guys go and shoot up these f***ing schools because they know there are no guns there. They are monsters killing six-year-olds.”

I tweeted some thoughts about the campaign:

How come Everytown and its surrogates won’t combat violence that emanates from gun-free zones? Why do they continue to demand our government to enact more gun control policies when checks are already in place? Thankfully, they are on the losing side of history. Pew published the following findings back in April:

For most of the 1990s and the subsequent decade, a substantial majority of Americans believed it was more important to control gun ownership than to protect gun owners’ rights. But in December 2014, the balance of opinion flipped: For the first time, more Americans say that protecting gun rights is more important than controlling gun ownership, 52% to 46%.

I’ve written about Everytown’s misinformation campaign on several occasions, including their most recent campaign to paint college females as victims. They still need to be exposed for the frauds they are.

If you want to support true gun safety efforts, I encourage you to support National Shooting Sports Foundation and their Project ChildSafe campaign.

Molon Labe.


Looking to Escape the Beltway for a Day? Hike Harpers Ferry

View of Harpers Ferry from Loudoun Heights Trail Credit: Gabriella Hoffman

View of Harpers Ferry from Loudoun Heights Trail
Credit: Gabriella Hoffman

Nestled between West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia is Harpers Ferry. I recall reading about this place in high school and being intrigued by it for its historical significance. I thought to myself, “I have to visit this place one day!” So my friends and I trekked out to West Virginia on Saturday to pay Harpers Visit a visit.

Harpers Ferry is a gem in West Virginia. Fresh air, lush nature, and peaceful rivers define this beautiful place. It’s most prominently marked by the confluence of the Shenandoah River with the Potomac River, which is a sight to behold. A part of the Appalachian Trail also meanders its way through the park. Thomas Jefferson visited Harpers Ferry in 1783 and later wrote in Notes on the State of Virginia (1785), “The passage of the Patowmac through the Blue Ridge is perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in Nature.” If you’re seeking tranquility and a break from the heyday of Washington, this is the perfect weekend escape or day trip.

Most notably, Harpers Ferry became the site of John Brown’s failed raid during the Civil War. Here’s more about the event from Civil War Trust:

On the evening of October 16, 1859 John Brown, a staunch abolitionist, and a group of his supporters left their farmhouse hide-out en route to Harpers Ferry. Descending upon the town in the early hours of October 17th, Brown and his men captured prominent citizens and seized the federal armory and arsenal.  Brown had hopes that the local slave population would join the raid and through the raid’s success weapons would be supplied to slaves and freedom fighters throughout the country; this was not to be. First held down by the local militia in the late morning of the 17th, Brown took refuge in the arsenal’s engine house. However, this sanctuary from the fire storm did not last long, when in the late afternoon US Marines under Colonel Robert E. Lee arrived and stormed the engine house, killing many of the raiders and capturing Brown. Brown was quickly placed on trial and charged with treason against the state of Virginia, murder, and slave insurrection. Brown was sentenced to death for his crimes and hanged on December 2, 1859.

There’s so much history tied to Harpers Ferry, so I’ll let you read up on its history .

For you hiking enthusiasts out there, there are two prominent hiking trails to select from: the Loudoun Heights Trail (Virginia side) and the Maryland Heights Trail (Maryland side). We chose to hike the Virginia side since it’s less crowded. Overall, our hike totaled 9.3 miles.

Below are some pictures my sister and I took during the hike:

harpers ferry 1

Town of Harpers Ferry — Credit: Anna Maria Hoffman


Credit: Anna Maria Hoffman

Credit: Anna Maria Hoffman

St. Peter's Catholic Church Photo Credit: Gabriella Hoffman

St. Peter’s Catholic Church
Photo Credit: Gabriella Hoffman

Jefferson Rock Credit: Gabriella Hoffman

Jefferson Rock
Credit: Gabriella Hoffman


Shenandoah River Credit: Gabriella Hoffman

Shenandoah River
Credit: Gabriella Hoffman

Breathtaking, right? If this blog post has convinced you to visit Harpers Ferry, here are some recommendations:

  • Pack plenty of water and light snacks (trail mix, fruit snacks, beef jerky, vegetables)
  • Wear comfortable shoes
  • Have bug spray to repel mosquitoes and ticks
  • Wear sunscreen
  • Eat the night before and have a hearty breakfast
  • Hike with a decent-sized group of people. It’s easy to get lost there.

In preparation for hiking Harpers Ferry, I recommend visiting Hiking Upward to map out your trek up either trail. It’s a great resource marked by user-friendly features to help hikers plan out their hikes. Additionally, learn more about Harpers Ferry prior to visiting.

Happy Hiking, fellow D.C. denizens and transplants! Have you hiked here before? Did you enjoy it? Let me know your thoughts!

Kenny Chesney’s Big Revival Tour Delivers Beachy Vibes to DC

Last night, my sister and I saw Kenny Chesney, Jake Owen, and Chase Rice perform at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD. This was a tour stop to support Kenny Chesney’s latest album, “The Big Revival.”

Merriweather is constantly ranked a top concert venue. Did it meet our expectations? You betcha!

We arrived at Merriweather close to the end of Chase Rice’s set, courtesy of DC traffic, so we didn’t hear him perform anything except for “Ride” and “Cruise” as we were walking up to the venue. Rice’s music is interesting to say the least. It certainly fits the “bro-country” mold; hits like “Ready Set Roll” and “Ride” are evidence of that . That’s not to say he isn’t a talented or good musician. He wrote Florida-Georgia Line’s hit single “Cruise” and has several great songs on his debut album “Ignite the Night.” (My personal favorites are “Carolina Can” and “Mmm Girl.”) We were obviously more impressed with Jake Owen and Kenny Chesney.

Florida-grown Jake Owen was next. He recently said he’s ditching “fantasy” songs in response to criticism about him incorporating “bro-country” platitudes into his music. His music certainly has a beachy vibe, which we absolutely appreciate as Southern California natives. Owen performed a host of singles, ranging from “Days of Gold” to “Barefoot Blue Jean Night.” He also performed his new single-“Real Life”-live for the first time, so that was quite exciting. It’s quite catchy. (Apparently, it was inspired by some Sugar Ray songs? Very cool.) Watch the lyric video below:

Below are some pictures I took of Jake Owen. (Swoon!)



When Kenny Chesney took the stage,  you could feel the excitement build. That man knows how to entertain! (He’s quite the dancer, too.) Kenny Chesney seems like a chill guy–someone you’d want to go fishing with. His music universally appeals to people, regardless of age. His songs speak to the heart. Even better: he sounds authentic during live performances! He started off with “Reality” and also sang “Wild Child,” “Big Star,” “Til It’s Gone,” “American Kids,” “No Shoes No Shirt No Problem,” among other famous hits. Below are some shots I took of Mr. Chesney:




Hands down, this concert was fantastic. You couldn’t ask for a more perfect Mid-Atlantic summer night either! Apart from the swaths of half-naked teenagers (especially some questionably dressed girls) and some drunkenness, this country concert experience is one I will forever cherish. Glad to see Kenny Chesney is still cranking out good music!

Concert-going season is just getting started! What’s up next in the DMV? Stay tuned…