A Semester of Rejections 

Last August, I was sure I was going to get this one job...until I didn't. Surprised by the sting of rejection (I'm a musician after all, and I know from experience that I'm not going to win every audition), I decided to embark on an entire semester of putting myself out there so boldly that every rejection would be a win for my bravery.

Here's what I learned...

  1. It's not personal.
    Whether or not I got a job or a gig or a student wasn't up to me. It depended on lots of variables: if there was…
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How to Pick and Use a Word of the Year  

The word of the year trend has increased in popularity recently. I started participating in the trend in 2022, not as much by choice, but by a nudge from the Universe. The word "trust" pushed its way into my brain when I asked myself, "What word would I even choose? This seems stupid."

My word for 2023 is "kindness" for pretty much the same reason. There was no question this time. Kindness is what I feel I need most, especially from myself. I suspect as I fill my own need for kindness, I'll be able to…

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How to Give Colleagues Feedback 

Nobody likes unsolicited advice, right?

However, in a work environment, sometimes addressing a quality performance issue is necessary. You don't have to be in a leadership position to get the desired result, but you may need to emotionally regulate yourself to keep it from escalating to a conflict.

Here's a quick example:

When performing in an ensemble, I noticed that the person playing a part similar to mine was consistently performing the wrong articulation.

Understanding circumstances:
I asked the…

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Three "Do This Not That" to Approach Conflict 

Most of my life was spent being conflict-averse. I hated the thought of hurting anyone's feelings, and dreaded any type of heated emotion. Fast forward to my forties, and I had a serious case of self-abandonment from not speaking out. I had betrayed myself by not sharing when my feelings were hurt, by being pleasant just to keep the peace, and by valuing other people's time and feelings more than my own.

What I discovered, through forcing myself to voice my opinion, is that addressing conflict...

  • doesn't…
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How to Prepare for Meetings (and Rehearsals!) that Matter 

Do you hate meetings?  If that was a "yes" before the pandemic, I'm guessing it's an "absolutely yes, OMG so much yes" now.  Overwhelm and burnout have become a fact of life for many.

But what if you're in charge of meetings? It can be challenging to keep everyone's attention, much less inspire your team to follow through with what needs to be done.

Preparing for a meeting can be just as important as actually running one.  

Here are three things that you can do ahead of time to make meetings pain free:


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Building Respect in Professional Relationships 

Attending ClarinetFest, the International Clarinet Association's annual conference, this year was extraordinary.  To be around like-minded people who are excited about what they're creating and performing is an inspirational boost, not to mention hearing all of the absolutely amazing music.  This year had the added bonus of being the first live convention since the pandemic, and we jokingly refer to it at ClarinetLoveFest because it filled that ache in our hearts left by not being able to share with, create…

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Four Ways to Lead Through Action 

Actions speak louder than words, or so the saying goes.  While the truth of this may depend more on the listener, the power of actions will undoubtedly be influential on those who are more aware, pay attention to details, and see the big picture.  These are the type of people you need around you, so you want to make sure to attract them to your team.

Here are four ways to lead through action:

  1. Follow through on what you say you'll do.
    Being true to your words by acting on them shows people that…
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Procrastinating Your Way to Productivity 

I like getting things done.  I love the feeling of accomplishment and crossing things off my to-do list.  As a child, no one needed to remind me to practice or do my homework.  Granted, I was an OVER-achiever with some issues, but even now, as an adult who's addressed those overwork mindsets and habits in order to overcome overwhelm and burnout, I just like to work.

So when I feel a pull to procrastinate, I know there's something that needs my attention.  Allowing myself to procrastinate the thing I think I

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Redefining Resilience 

When I ran track in school, the team was divided into distance runners and sprinters.  A study recently came out suggesting that we have a default individual speed, and it's at the point at which we "burn the most energy without burning excess calories."  That would mean that pushing ourselves past a certain speed is counter-intuitive to our bodies' welfare.

This lesson, if true, may transfer well to the general human condition of the past few pandemic years.  You should only go as fast as is productive to…

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Strategies to Encourage Inspiration and Creativity 

Writing my dissertation was a constant push and pull of energy, inspiration, anxiety, and overwhelm.  "A certain amount of anxiety is natural and to be expected," said one of my dissertation guide books.  The sheer amount of work to be done was the culprit, and there was a timeline to consider.  The pressure was on to just get it done (one of my professors had told me that the best dissertation is a finished dissertation).  Sometimes my determination and discipline failed me, so I discovered ways to…

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I would definitely recommend working with Nancy to help anyone feeling stuck and unable to move forward in their goals.


Working with Nancy helped me overcome a significant block in my career concerning success.


I felt a shift in my thinking from a limited mindset, always focusing on what things I had to be before considering myself a success, to a new space of accepting my successes as they appear and feeling more grateful for those.


Elissa Nesheim

Elissa Sue Watercolors

Are you an overachiever who hates to say no?
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