About Elena

elena sonninoItalian by birth, a mom, a teacher, a wife, a runner & triathlete, and a cancer survivor, Elena shares every day Live.Do.Grow. moments from her perch in the Washington DC suburbs.

Being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at 23 made Elena a fighter, and provided a perspective that was life altering. Life was no longer about watching, it was about doing. Despite being told that she would never have a biological child, Elena became a mom to a spirited and independent daughter (Principessa) who is now entering second grade and can sing most of the songs from Phantom of the Opera or Les Miserables with gusto. Despite one failed marriage, Elena found love again with Rocket, who she married in a winery barrel room in 2010.

Elena left her twelve year career as a teacher and educational leader to pursue freelance writing, blogging, and social action full time in June 2012. Her passion of fostering self sufficiency in students, parents, and teachers is now embedded into everything she does in her new life whether she is building her own capacity or that of readers or teachers that she coaches.

Having always battled with weight and self esteem, Elena is committed to standing taller, feeling strong, and healthy.  Whether it is training for a half marathon, a triathlon, or getting back to her status as a Lifetime Weight Watchers member, she strives to inspire and empower others by sharing her journey. Striving to carry the extra weight of empowerment and self-confidence, she founded Just.Be.Enough. where the voices of many tell a story of celebrating our strengths.

Elena also documents her travels through life as a contributor and Internal Community Relations Director to TravelingMom.com and as a member of the Hilton Mom Voyage team.  She is a Shot@Life United Nations Foundation Social Good Fellow, a member of Bloggers4Haiti and is on the American Cancer’s Society Blogger Advisory Council working towards More Birthdays. Elena also appeared on stage as a member of the Listen to Your Mother DC cast in May 2012.

Elena is also an Ambassador for FitFluential, the Toyota Women’s Influencer Network, and Ubisoft.

Would love to hear from you!  Contact me (Elena) at ciaomom@ciaomom.com




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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

pegbur7 May 27, 2010 at 9:32 pm

Do you live in or near Fairfax? My brother lives in Falmouth/Fredericksburg area and I have lots of friends who live in the Manassas/Dale City area. I grew up near Charlottesville. Small world, huh?


C.Mom July 23, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Hi Mandy, Thanks for letting me know that I do not have an email listed anywhere…need to remedy that!


Sandi August 1, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Lots in common (sarcastic, stubborn and strong-willed)! Love your voice and authentic style.


C.Mom August 1, 2010 at 1:39 pm

Thanks Sandi- I am definitely all of those things- though I am not always sure that my family appreciates it.


Barb August 1, 2010 at 10:16 pm

I’m a teacher also. :) THe panic is setting in as I wait for the CRAZY days of September! Visiting from #31dbbb!


Lisa @ Grandma's Briefs August 4, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Hi there! Visiting from SITS; you commented just above me today. I’m so glad to have the opportunity to check out your digs. I love your site and am happy to see you’re a fellow From Left To Write member. Are you a former member of SV Moms? I wrote for Rocky Mountain Moms.

I hope to see more of you, at my place or yours!


C.Mom August 4, 2010 at 4:03 pm

Thanks–and what a small world! I wrote for DC Metro Moms- and yes, am part of From Left to Write. Heading over to your place right now:)


erinsgobragh September 3, 2010 at 7:43 am

Sarcastic rocks! lol. Your voice just pops off the computer! It’s so wonderful!


Leanne (From Chaos Comes Happiness!) September 3, 2010 at 10:18 pm

Hey!!! you DO have funky spunky hair! Love it!


Natalie October 15, 2010 at 11:30 pm

I had lunch today with your mother. We met over a year ago at a boating group. We hit it off immediately. I know your dad too. I adore your mom, but don’t tell her, I don’t want her to get a swollen head. She raves about you and your family constantly. After lunch we did some shopping in the mall. I was very surprised to see her looking at blingy things. She dresses so conservatively that I thought it was great to pick up sequined black pants. She asked if I could imagine sewing each one of those sequins onto the pants. We also found a sequined jacket in a pinkish-grey color. I told her I thought it would look wonderful on her. She gave me “the look”. My husband and I just got back from a European cruise and she wanted to hear all about it. Unfortunately, my memory isn’t what it used to be and every once in awhile, while she was talking I interrupted her with the name of another city or town I remembered we visited. She’s very diverse in her interests. I, on the other hand am interested in my family, friends, food (mostly desserts) and of course jewelry. Mom gave me your card and told me to try and connect so I could read your stories. I must say she wasn’t exaggerating when she bragged about your accomplishments. I enjoyed the “elevator story” very much. I have to say there are a few people I’d like to get stuck in an elevator with for awhile so I could give them a few of my points on them. Congratulations on your writing. I will definetly keep reading your “stuff”. Natalie


C.Mom November 7, 2010 at 4:43 pm

Thanks so much for your kind words! And no worries, I’ll never tell. We absolutely would not want her to ego to get any bigger :)


Natalie December 2, 2010 at 6:29 pm

I haven’t seen mom since I last wrote. She has a busy, active schedule and I, on the other hand have a non-busy, inactive schedule. I keep busy visiting drs. I just had cataract surgery done on both eyes and it’s wonderful to see again.

Please keep me informed of any writings you do. I really enjoyed the one I read. Natalie


C.Mom December 26, 2010 at 10:52 am

Hi Natalie, Glad your surgery had a good result! And thanks–I appreciate it!


Ameena January 28, 2011 at 6:03 pm

I found you through Ivy League Insecurities and just popped over to check out your blog.

I love sarcasm, I don’t play games, and I don’t do “drama” either. It’s nice to “meet” you!


C.Mom January 30, 2011 at 10:42 am

Great to meet you! Look forward to being sarcastic together! :)


Darcy May 6, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Hey there! I met you at the race on Sunday (part of Team BT!)…I just saw a link to your blog through one of BethAnn’s posts….You girls amaze me! I’m going to start reading your blog. I love hearing what other moms/wives/runners have to say.

Rock on, girl! You are a super star :)


Danica Kombol October 25, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Enjoy discovering your blog & your writing post Blogalicious. Did not realize you are a cancer survivor. You know we did #BeatCancer a few years ago? Have the Guinness Record for most socially networked message to prove it. My business partner, Tamara is a survivor and every day I thank my lucky stars for that! Hope to see you at the Heart of Haiti event in December!!


Kymbrlee from Mom It Forward November 15, 2011 at 3:41 pm

I like “the good, the bad, and the ugly”, because when it really comes down to it, life is all of those things. It makes your blog easy to relate to when you voice everything open and honestly.


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