Friday, January 14, 2011


I want to write about energy. Not the kind I work with, but rather the feelings one gets from a place, a person, an experience. The energy of built environments. I lived in the Washington, DC area for 20+ years. I always knew the environment and the energy and the pace here are hectic, frantic, fast, type A, stressful. But you don't really notice it when you live in a place. Well, sure you notice it, but it envelopes your world so you just settle in. You don't know any better. That is your world and you adapt to your world. And it is not just the environment around you. It is also about your line of work. I have always worked in international development and that work, especially in DC, is not 9 to 5, and it is high stress, full of workaholics, not 9 to 5.

When I left last year and moved to a very different lifestyle in Salt Lake City, I stepped outside of that world I had been living in and could see the differences between the places. Salt Lake has a much slower, friendlier pace. It is very much not Type A and my world there is not fast, not hectic, not stressful, not frantic.

On Monday I flew from Salt Lake City, now my home, to Washington, DC, my former home. It is my first real trip back since I moved out in May last year (not counting the 1.5 days I flew out here in early September specifically to visit my long time hair salon in preparation for my wedding - crazy yes, I know, I know, but worth it!). I am here because of work, so the plane ride was not the normal relaxing ride that one might take on their way for a vacation. I worked online on the flight, until my battery ran out. Being a Monday morning flight to DC, I was not alone. The flight was full of a lot of business looking people and a lot of people were working. It was a very "type A" flight. Appropriate for a plane heading to the nation's Capitol.

Leaving the plane and entering National Airport I was immediately struck by the tense energy in the airport. It was crowded and there was definitely an energy there. So different from the SLC airport. The SLC airport is really lovely. Oh I am sure it has its moments - like next week when the Sundance Film Festival starts and 1000s of visitors will pour in from Hollywood and New York and Europe and overtake the small town of Park City next door, and spill over into Salt Lake. But generally it is this nice sized, mellow, happy airport. I love it. I have noticed the "energy" differences between a place like Washington, DC and a place like SLC, and the airport and the travelers are a great example.

But I was whisked away from Washington "energy" immediately to the VA suburbs for our organization's annual planning "retreat." From 8 am to past 8 pm meetings and socializing. Such intense annual planning meetings have their own weird energy which I won't go into here. What I don't understand is why we have our retreats at these resorts. It think it is a cruel joke to have a meeting at a resort when you have absolutely no free time built in to the schedule to say visit the spa, or play tennis or do any of the things that the "resort" has been set up for. It is also a pain to get to these places, eating up valuable time in an environment where every minute counts.

Wednesday evening after the retreat I drove with some colleagues back into DC. That was when I was struck again by the energy of the DC area. I won't bore you with the play by play but just think rush hour and a ton of traffic; toll booths and stressing out to find the right change and dropping the change on the ground with cars honking behind you;  missing drop off times for rental cars and having to find other places to go; dealing with disgruntled rental car employees blaring very loud and very unpeaceful music from open car doors on a wet, dirty lot; having to wait in the freezing cold to catch taxis with a lot of luggage. At that moment standing in the freezing street with wet feet from all the ugly melting snow here, with my luggage, waiting for a taxi, I felt the not so pretty energy of this place. Don't get me wrong. There is a lot to love here and a lot of beautiful people and good energy - you can find all that, but it is in the midst of a larger energy bubble that I think really is more challenging than a lot of other places.

Yesterday I was working from our office in Crystal City. It was so strange to be there - a visitor in what was once my every day world. Now I work from my home. I don't get dressed up every day anymore. I don't commute into an office, park in a big garage and pick up a Starbucks coffee before I head up the elevator to the people and cubicles (we had moved to an open floor plan office awhile ago). I also took the metro out to visit dear friends, so I had my DC metro rush hour experience - a train full of people who looked tired, drained, lifeless - all silent, all in their own little worlds inside their heads. Ahh, that I do not miss.

Anyway...this might sound a little negative and down on DC and for that I apologize, because I do love DC and I promise to write a glowing entry about the wonderful things here in the next few days. I didn't have much time to think about this or much time to write so perhaps I haven't articulated these feelings to the best of my ability.  I just wanted to capture this scene I felt and feel - this change of energy from one place to another - before it slips too far away.


  1. OMG! I have talked about the energy here since I moved back to DC from San Fran in 2000, after 2 short years in SF. In SF, as soon as I got off the plane, I felt as if I were running with the wind at my back. When I came back to DC, I felt like I was running, in waist high water. Able to move forward, but struggling at best....

    I have also called DC the battered spouse. We don't know any better that we shouldn't be beaten on a daily basis and besides where would we go....(I am speaking metaphorically and not intending to demean battered spouses)

    In SF, I started a company. Everybody was a cheer leader, willing to help and not expect anything in return. For example, my attorney introduced me to an internet company who had lots of office space, which they gave to me for free to set up shop. In DC, I get sized up immediately. It is a, who do you know, where do you live, what kind of car do you drive, how can you help me, mentallity. In SF, I knew so many friends just by their first name, thats it.

    Having said that and fearing that I will sound hypocritical, DC friendships, a lot fewer, but are much deeper. I have been saved by my friends more times than I can count and in more ways than I can describe or say Thank You. There is stability here. SF is not a stable place, lots of friends doing crazy things, some of them have even died since I left. Perhaps it has to do with energy coming from the ground, with all the random earthquakes and such.

    Energetically, I was told that way back when, when it snowed, provisions were hard to come by and people stocked up on supplies, there was a lot of death that was storm related. Today, the mere mention of snow and the stores are cleared out. I heard a stat that said "...most grocery stores 60% of its customer base is within wlaking distance..." So why do we clear the shelves? It is the remnants of an old not so good energy cloud that remains.

    DC is an old city and has gone through many transformations. There is good energy and there is bad energy. This is the city where people come to when they want to change the world. Hence the "type A's". They have just enough energy to get what they want accomplished and then move on.

    I dont know if you remember when I was shocked on Facebook that some test I took said I was a Type A, even more shocked when I found out most of my friends thought I was too.....I still bristle at the thought of it and will never think of myself that way. I guess to validate your point, I have been enveloped by the energy and dont even know it!

    What strikes me about energy is, how easy it is to change it. Something simple, like a smile or letting somebody get ahead of you in line or traffic. The power of intentions and the power of hello, has a lot more energy than I think we all realize....

    There are a lot of light workers around us, you know the types. When they walk into a room it lights up, just by their presence. You have that ability, always happy no matter what. The thought of you standing there in "ugly snow, waiting.." invoked a picture of you with with a disbelief kind of smile on your face...and guess what it was no longer "ugly snow." I aspire to be a "lightworker"!

    DC is also a great place to visit. Hence why so many conferences are here....lots of people build in time to visit after or before. One of the best parts of the city, is there is soooo much to see and do for free. After living here since 1986, with the exception of 2 years in SF, I still feel the thrill energy when I am playing tour guide. Which I do as part of my work, showing out of towners who are relocating property.

    Before I ramble on forever, I just wanted to acknowledge you rpost and also say, you are missed! I am happy for you that SLC is treating you well! Just remember, DC will always be here and it can always become home again! Just saying!


  2. Lou thanks for weighing in here and sharing your thoughts! I really appreciate all that you are saying :)