Passing the Test

This week’s Blog Off topic is “Is there a reason to be optimistic?”  My take on this is highly personal, as usual.  Be sure to visit the other blog participant’s posts.  You can find a list of them here:

Something wonderful happened to me recently.  After a long, downtrodden, worrisome year full of angst, stress, a little depression, and intermittent bursts of crying, I passed an exam.  It was the LEED Green Associate exam that is the first tier of credentialing for the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED green-building rating system (you can learn more about it here: 

This was big for me.  Huge, in fact.

I haven’t taken an exam like that one since the NCIDQ exam, which qualified me as an Interior Designer and allowed me to get my license to practice.  That one was not optional (in my view).  There are those out there that will argue that point, but I have no patience for that.  You want to be taken seriously in your profession and put the fine point on your education, experience, and hard work, you take the damn test.  You crush the test, in fact, because you earned it.

The LEED exam was an optional thing for me.  I don’t need it to practice design.  It doesn’t change my circumstances, or make me an expert on green building, but I believe it was a necessary step for me to take to advance to the next level in my profession.  Sustainability, resource conservation, and energy efficiency are imperatives for the Design and building industries.  If we, as designers, architects, and builders don’t lead in this department, then who will?

I studied and studied, I made flash cards, I took copious notes, I procrastinated somewhat, I put off scheduling the exam until the last minute.  I memorized codes and standards for ventilation rates and brownfields, water use and thermal comfort, and all the while I fought back against that little voice that sometimes creeps into your mind and tells you it’s all in vain, you’ll never pass it, you’re going to fail.

In the week or two prior to my test date, I started looking at myself in the mirror and saying in a loud, affirming voice, with a big smile on my face, “I am going to pass this test!  I know this material.  It’s all going to be okay.”

And it was.  I passed it with flying colors.  Along with relief, I am elated.  Elevated, full of helium, buoyed, and soaring.  And optimistic- for my future, the future of Interior Design and the building industry in this country, and the world.  Sometimes it just takes one really good achievement, something really great to happen to you, personally, to alter your outlook on your own world and therefore the rest of the world gets better for it too.  It starts with one, combusting from the inside, spreads out and catches on.  So many good things have happened to me this year, but passing this test was the hurdle I needed to push myself into Optimism territory.

The fact that the LEED rating system exists makes me optimistic for Architecture and Design, building, development, and manufacturing.  It’s not a perfect system by any means, but it is carefully articulated and well-crafted to change the way we’ve been designing and building for so long.  It emphasizes consensus and working together to achieve a greater good as well as serving the individual needs of people.  It furthers the impetus that is already gaining momentum to change our behavior and to think carefully about everything we consume and use during the course of our lives.

I get excited when I see people carrying their own bags into the grocery store, public recycling bins getting used,   and when my kids remind me to turn off the water when I’m brushing my teeth.  That kind of action gives me hope, and hope leads to optimism.  We still have a long way to go, and this century has gotten off to a bit of a rocky start, but these are just growing pains. 

It’s going to be all right.


  1. Posted October 19, 2010 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Tamara, congratulations on passing your Leed exam. I did it before they split the test into parts, doubt if I will bother taking it again, and admire you for forging ahead. Your kids are part of the solution. cindy @urbanverse

  2. Posted October 19, 2010 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    When I read stories such as yours about people who not only seek to succeed, but excel, I know that it will be better than alright — it will be incredibly wonderful! So many people choose to do just the bare minimum to pass a test, to conform to code. Thank you for reaching.

  3. Posted October 19, 2010 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    After all of the years I spent in college, I never thought about equating optimism to taking a test. Great job!

  4. Posted October 19, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations, Tammy! When I took the LEED-AP exam several years ago, I thought it would be easy because I’m a really good test-taker. But I passed it by just two points. So great work!

  5. Posted October 19, 2010 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    First off, congratulations! The tests we schedule for our own personal accomplishments are the ones that really matter. Taking the initiative to make a difference – in our personal lives, in environmental concerns, etc – is only the beginning to improving ourselves as a society. You’ve done your part, now it’s time for the rest of us slackers to start studying. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  6. Veronika
    Posted October 19, 2010 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    Congrats on the LEED exam. Job well done. But more importantly I want to commend you on the vehemence and vigor with which you make your point about being professional in this industry and how that will indeed propel you through rough times. This is a time that also has some clear opportunities for those who are willing to embrace them and it’s a time where we’re separating the wheat from the chaf. People like you show why that is so important. Great post and all the best to you in sustainable endeavors.

  7. Posted October 19, 2010 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    you know this might be slightly off topic but Tammy we have been “working” together for a little while now and I can say with no reservation that I am thoroughly impressed. I wish you all the wealth (you know not just that $$$$ stuff) that the world has . . . and anything I can do to help support you in that I will. congrats on this win. thanks for sharing. ~jb

  8. Posted October 20, 2010 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

    And I am ELATED to be living in a world people like you will be designing. Congratulations on your thoughtful, determined, remarkable quest to create better places to live!

  9. Posted October 22, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Congrats on passing :)

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  1. [...] – Roaming by Design Steve Mouzon – The Original Green Tamara Dalton’s – Design Studios Veronika Miller’s – Modenus This entry was posted in General Articles and tagged Blog [...]

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Veronika Miller, Jody Brown. Jody Brown said: RT @tammyjdalton Optimism and Passing the Test – #letsblogoff >>>I feel better now. & CONGRATS!! [...]

  3. By Why should is a four letter word | Wax Blog on October 19, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    [...] Tamara Dalton Design Studios [...]

  4. By Modenus interior design blog on October 19, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    [...] Tamara Dalton Design Studios [...]

  5. [...] Tamara Dalton (@tammyjdalton) took it upon herself to take (and CRUSH) the LEED exam. She didn’t need it for her interior design business. She simply  felt it was part of her responsibility as a design professional to know more about sustainable building practices. I just feel better knowing people like her are designing the places we live. [...]

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