Freelance Writer • Blogger • Wife • Mother • Friend • Wayfinder • Personal Note Writer • Virginian • Birder • Alto • Guitar Player • Christian/Episcopalian • Bank Board Chairman • Community Activist • W4EHC • Connector • Encourager
Rooted in the land and the countryside
Born and raised on a cattle farm, Elizabeth grew up connected to the land and the four seasons of the Virginia Piedmont region in Fauquier County. Her undergraduate degree in Biology came from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Lynchburg, where she was nurtured as a woman and a community leader.
While getting her Master’s degree in Human Anatomy at Tulane School of Medicine in New Orleans, she met her husband, Dr. John Cottrell, Jr. After he finished his specialty training in Internal Medicine, they moved back to Virginia for him to open his practice in the Woodstock, the county seat of Shenandoah County in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley.
Family and community
Elizabeth immersed herself in community work, and she and Dr. John started their family of two, a daughter and a son, now grown and off doing amazing things with families of their own, including two grandsons. During their years in school, Elizabeth served on the Board of Trustees of her college as well as on several other nonprofit boards. She was appointed to the Shenandoah County School Board and served for nine years.
Professional writing life and passions
A combination of entrepreneurial leanings and a desire to help defray college costs led her back to the workforce as a technical writer and later to the opening of her own desktop publishing business in 1990. RiverwoodWriter, LLC now offers primarily freelance writing and editing services to individual and small business clients. She has led spiritual writing retreats and supports a group called Faithful Writers. She currently serves as chairman of the board of directors of First Bank/First National Corporation and is passionate about her work with the Shenandoah Community Foundation and the Moore Educational Trust. She is also a personal note-writing evangelist and welcomes like-minded enthusiasts to join her Facebook group called “Revive the art of personal note writing!”
“Here I am today,” she says, “old enough to retire, but still feeling strongly called to use my writing to encourage others and help them discover the keys that unlock their heartspoken life. I’m living proof that you’re never too old to learn new things! We are blessed to live at the edge of a pine woods on the north fork of the Shenandoah River. John and I love to walk, watch the birds, and travel to visit our children and grandchildren.”
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Personal mission statement
It is my goal to live each day in service to God by seeking to strengthen those essential connections – with God, with Self, with Others, and with Nature—that encourage, nurture, support, educate, and enlighten. I will strive to accomplish this through my personal and professional relationships, my writing, and my teaching. I pray for:
- Discernment to see the inner beauty in each person I meet.
- Guidance to spend my time meaningfully and purposefully.
- Humility to remember that it’s never about me.
- Judgment to know the difference between busy-ness and meaningful work.
- Compassion for others and for myself.
- Courage to venture beyond my comfort zone.
- Wisdom to know what to embrace and what to let go.
- Vision to accommodate both Dreams and Doubt with equanimity.