“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end” ~ Closing Time by Semisonic

Bittersweet… that is how I am feeling writing this blog as I am writing about an ending, and endings often have a bitter component (this one definitely does), and sweet because I am writing about listening to and trusting my inner knowing and that absolutely feels sweet.

About 18 months ago I started feeling the nudge to move on from my leadership role with Wholistic Woman Retreats.  There was no specific reason other than that I was craving simplicity in my life and honestly, I didn’t trust the nudge.  The overwhelming thought when the feeling first came in was WHY?  Why would I walk away from something that was having such a positive impact not only on my life but also on the lives of so many amazing women?  So I did what I believe a lot of us do when we don’t understand our feelings… I pushed it down and ignored it.

(Side note:  This is not something I recommend!  Ask my children… ask my coaching clients… They will tell you that they’ve heard me say on more than one occasion that feelings are meant to be felt.)

Shortly after that, Wholistic Woman started seriously discussing turning the dream of holding a destination retreat in Sedona into a reality and the feeling morphed into a voice in my head that said “Finish what you started.” To me, this meant that I was supposed to see the destination retreat come to fruition and I was supposed to stay to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the organization.  My inner knowing told me that 2020 was going to be the year I finished what I started.

So here we are…2020 is coming to an end, something I am certain we are all excited about, as none of us could have predicted the insanity and uncertainty that this year has held.  We, as an organization, moved from monthly in-person coaching events to a virtual platform… We celebrated the 100th anniversary of the passing of the 19th amendment that gave women the right to vote with a virtual retreat that supported the programming of Frederick’s Chamber of Commerce’s Women in Business group… We took 20 women to Sedona, Arizona where we held an in-person retreat while following CDC guidelines regarding Covid-19 and are happy to report that everyone stayed healthy… And, we closed the year with both an in-person brunch for people who felt comfortable gathering socially as well as a virtual event for those that didn’t with our annual gratitude celebration which this year included celebrating 10 Years of Wholistic Woman Retreats!  For me, this absolutely feels like finishing what I started.

So, I am listening to the call on my heart and will be stepping away from leadership with Wholistic Woman Retreats.  This choice is about saying yes to an inner knowing.  I am creating space… space for whatever is next… space for something that I can’t even envision right now… space to let Divine Intervention step in and show me what is next for me.  I am trusting the nudge!

I am in no rush to fill the void that will follow this decision.  If there is one thing that 2020, the year of Covid-19 and it’s stay at home mandates, has shown me, it is that I enjoy space, downtime, and simplicity.  Therefore, I am inviting the bitterness I feel around saying goodbye to the active role I’ve held for the last 10 years here with Wholistic Woman Retreats while at the same time experiencing the sweetness of anticipation of the unknown future.  In this season of gratitude, love, and giving, this decision feels like an unopened gift… a bittersweet gift.

To all you beautiful women who have trusted me to support you in your personal and professional growth, I want to say ‘Thank you’!  It has been an honor to witness your fear, your uncertainty, your tenacity, your bravery and your strength.  Thank you for doing your work!  Your growth helps heal the world.  You bring light and love where there is darkness and fear.  There is no job bigger than that.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

To the Wholistic team, thank you for supporting me in my growth as a coach and leader.  You have witnessed my fear, uncertainty, tenacity, bravery, and strength.  You know me deeply and I have never felt anything but love and support from you.  You are the reason this decision is so hard for me to make.  I love you all.  It has been the privilege of a lifetime to work alongside you.  I will always be your biggest supporter.

The beauty is, geographically, I’m not going anywhere.  I will still be here and I look forward to continuing to witness the sweetness of the work you all will continue to do.

10 years ago, Wholistic Woman Retreats was a new beginning for me and this year that beginning is coming to an end… I wonder what new beginning will come from that beginning’s end!?!

Seeker of Truth

Seeker of Truth

“Just start writing”

That’s the voice I heard inside my head as I lay in bed this morning trying to mentally figure out what this blog was going to be about.  I was struggling, as I often do when it comes to my turn in the blog rotation schedule, to figure out what I wanted to write about. My mind was swirling with topics and ideas of how the structure would be laid out when I very clearly heard…  Just start writing… so here I am doing just that.

Let’s see where this goes!

I’m currently listening to We Are The Luckiest by Laura McKowen on Audible and the chapter I just finished was titled ‘Find a House Where the Truth is Told’.  YES!!!!  Oh, how I resonate with that title.  I’ve been looking for these types of houses my entire life.  My big vision is to find a world where the truth is told.  

I want this and it scares me at the same time.

I want it because I’ve always been a seeker of truth… my truth AND your truth, which I know will be different.  I want to know and understand myself at the deepest levels and I want you to feel comfortable sharing your truth with me because you know I’m a safe space and will not judge you.  I want to be a house where the truth is told.  

It scares me because what if I can’t handle my truth OR what if you can’t handle my truth.  Will I internally beat myself up? Will you think I’m weird or crazy?

When I picture in my mind’s eye this house where the truth is told ( which by the way isn’t really a house, but rather a community of people that I surround myself with) I see teachers and students working together to support one another.  When I look around I see how I am sometimes in the role of student and sometimes in the role of teacher… and you are too!  

My teachers are those people who are unapologetically speaking/living their truth and are trusting that in their vulnerable sharing they will be setting an example for others to follow.  Some of them are public figures like Brené Brown, Byron Katie and Laura McKowen, the author I’m currently reading, but many of them are not. They are everyday people who just happen to be within my sphere of influence.  

My students are those of you who are learning from me in some way.  Maybe you are reading this blog and resonating with it… maybe you are following me on FaceBook… Maybe we run in some of the same circles… Some of you I know are students because you’ve told me so, but many of you I don’t know.  I am trusting that by showing up as authentically as I can each day, I am reaching the people I am meant to whether I know them or not.

I know I am always both a teacher and a student.  The same is true for you! Do you get that?!? As one of my favorite teachers and poets, Rumi says, “We’re all just walking each other home”.

My One Word for this year is UNVEILED.  If you aren’t familiar with the One Word process, I invite you to read about it here. This word has me thinking that there are layers to the truth.  For me, my superficial truths are easy to share. They are always on the surface where they are easy for everyone to see, including me. However, we all have deeper truths, as well, that aren’t as easy to see.  My suspicion is that some of my truths are so veiled right now that even I can’t see them. I’ve covered them up to protect them and to protect myself. Here again, I find myself both excited and scared at the same time.  

One way I know that I will be continuing to build my House Where the Truth is Told is through FaceBook live videos.  I’ve been using this platform to share from a place of authenticity.  It has been a practice in unveiling for me and I plan to continue this when the spirit moves me.  

Another way I love to connect is face-to-face.  If our paths cross in any way in the future and you want to dig deep with me, yes please, let’s have a vulnerable, truth unveiling conversation!   Sure, it might feel scary but I promise it will be exciting too!  

Finally, I want to let you know about an upcoming opportunity…At the end of this month, I will be facilitating a safe space in-person group discussion where we can share our truths together.  At this event, we will focus our truth-telling on our spiritual beliefs. We will explore questions such as: How do you define God?  Are you clear about what you really believe or don’t believe?  How do you put your spiritual beliefs into practice?  These are some of the truths I will invite you to uncover and share during our time together at that event.

You’re invited to join this evening retreat titled Sacred Practices on Feb 26th with the Wholistic Woman community.  You can read more about it here.

As always, if you would like to connect or have questions for me, please feel free to reach out!  If we aren’t already FB friends and my videos sound like something you’d like witness, please friend request me and let me know you read this blog.  

~ Laura



“A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.” ~ Brené Brown

Yes!!!  This!!!  Connectedness!!!  I need this, you need this, the world needs this!!!  

Just imagine a world where we all felt connected to ourselves and to others.  Really… pause for a moment and imagine how your life and the world would be if we all had a deep sense of love and belonging.  Can you picture it!?!  What do you see?

What I see is a world where people feel safe to say that they are afraid and need help. What I see is a world where interdependence is everywhere and no one feels alone.  What I see is a world where we meet people where they are without needing them to be different.  What I see is a world where we know and understand that our differences are what bring beauty and color and variety to life, and more than tolerate differences, we embrace them.  Yes, you may say I’m a dreamer, but that is what I see.

One of the things I absolutely love about the Wholistic Woman Retreats Community is that we strive to create a safe space where you will feel connected.  We hold monthly events and encourage membership in our community in hopes that the women who come on a regular basis will get to know one another and will feel like they belong.  

Emma Seppälä, Ph.D, Science Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education and the author of The Happiness Track (HarperOne, 2016)  notes one landmark study that showed that lack of social connection is a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure.  Who knew!?!

She goes on to report that research around strong social connection shows that it:

  • leads to a 50% increased chance of longevity
  • strengthens your immune system
  • helps you recover from disease faster
  • lowers levels of anxiety and depression

Moreover, studies also show that people who feel connected to others have higher self-esteem, greater empathy for others, are more trusting and cooperative and, as a consequence, others are more open to trusting and cooperating with them. In other words, social connectedness generates a positive feedback loop of social, emotional and physical well-being.

If you are a woman in the Frederick Area and are looking for more connectedness, we might be exactly what you are looking for.  Check out this impromptu video I made about our upcoming August 2019 event being held in partnership with The Frederick County Chamber of Commerce’s  Women in Business Committee…

Click Here to watch the video

Here are the 2 links you will need if you are interested in joining us for this event:

In the meantime, there are lots of ways you can connect with us so please spend some time perusing our website if you’d like more information 🙂

And please, share your thoughts with us!  We love learning from you!  


~ Laura  

Today’s author: Laura Hall, CPC, CDWF: As a certified professional coach since 2009, Laura Hall, Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator has been helping people just like you make changes in both their personal and professional lives.  Laura can be reached via email at [email protected] or feel free to visit her website

Feedback… What the Work of Brené Brown Has Taught Me

Feedback… What the Work of Brené Brown Has Taught Me

feedback noun

Feed · back | \ ˈfēd-ˌbak\
Definition of feedback
1a: the transmission of evaluative or corrective information about an action, event, or process to the original or controlling source

I am currently reading Brené Brown‘s latest book, Dare to Lead, for the second time, and I am in the section where she is talking about feedback and the two sides of it…giving and receiving.

This got me thinking about myself and where I am in regards to how I give and receive both positive and negative feedback.

What I know is true for me, and I believe is true for most of us, is that positive feedback is easier all the way around. There are a couple of things thought that I think we should watch out for when it comes to positive feedback.

First, I think sometimes we just don’t take the time to give it. We assume people know they are doing a good job and that we appreciate them.  I admit I am guilty of this at times. If you’re like me in this situation, I encourage you to make a point to express your gratitude and appreciation to others. Every time I do this, I know both parties involved walk away feeling better then we had the moment before. It feels awesome to be either on the receiving or giving end of positive feedback.

The other struggle I see with positive feedback, however, happens on the receiving side. So many of us are uncomfortable being praised so we downplay it or brush it aside. Again, I admit I struggle with this and over the past several years have been practicing saying thank you and receiving positive feedback with gratitude and grace.

Negative feedback is another story.…both the receiving and the giving make me extremely uncomfortable!  So, this is what I want to focus on today.

One of the things I love about Brené Brown’s work is that she looks for ways to make it teachable. In one of her earlier books, Daring Greatly, she developed a 10 step feedback readiness checklist.  The checklist looks like this…

I know I’m ready to give feedback when:

  1. I’m ready to sit next to you rather than across from you.
  2. I’m willing to put the problem in front of us rather than between us (or sliding it toward you).
  3. I’m ready to listen, ask questions, and accept that I may not fully understand the issues.
  4. I’m ready to acknowledge what you do well instead of just picking apart your mistakes.
  5. I recognize your strengths and how you can use them to address your challenges.
  6. I can hold you accountable without shaming or blaming.
  7. I’m open to owning my part.
  8. I can genuinely thank someone for their efforts rather than just criticizing them for their failings.
  9. I can talk about how resolving these challenges will lead to growth and opportunity.
  10. I can model the vulnerability and openness that I expect to see from you.

Don’t you just love this!  It’s a tool you can sit down with and run through prior to what might feel like a difficult conversation.  I’ve been working with this since I first came across it in 2012 and it has been a game changer.

In daring greatly, it was this sentence that stood out to me: “We have to be able to take feedback – regardless of how it’s delivered – and apply it productively. We have to do this for a simple reason: mastery requires feedback. I don’t care what we’re trying to master – and whether we are trying to develop greatness or proficiency – it always requires feedback.“

I want you to pause for a moment and think about a time you received hard to hear feedback… How was it delivered?… how did you receive it?

I know for me before I began my homework on self-discovery and self-reflection, my default tendency was to become defensive and to use blame as a form of offloading. I would feel the discomfort of the situation and instead of being able to sit in the discomfort and to really listen to the feedback, I would immediately start explaining why I had acted in the manner I had. I would also look for reasons to justify my behavior.  When I looked at these reasons closely I was able to see my behavior as what it was… blaming someone else.  When I saw this video I immediately saw myself in it…Take a moment to look at this video and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about. This could be me talking…

This is not who I want to be! I want to be someone who can receive feedback, regardless of how it delivered, with open-mindedness. So, the big question is how do we do this?

For me, it boils down to how I am feeling about my own self-worth. When I am feeling enough, I am able to listen without my ego getting in the way.  I want to be better every day, and feedback is a way to make that happen. When my self worth is intact I am able to take the information in without labeling it as good or bad and mindfully decide which pieces of the feedback are going to help me become a better version of me. Some days I’m better at this than others.

Here is what Brené says in Dare to Lead about receiving feedback…

“ Receiving feedback is tricky for several reasons. One, we might be receiving feedback from someone who lacks delivery skills. Two, we might be at the hands of a skilled person, but we don’t know their intentions. Three, unlike when we’re giving feedback and we schedule it and know precisely what we’re going to say or do, when we’re receiving feedback, we can sometimes be taken off guard. Someone calls us into their office, or we pick up the phone and it’s a client, and they say, “Hey, we’re looking at the pitch you all submitted. We think it sucks, and it’s so far off brief, and we can’t believe you think we’re going to spend this much money with you.” And that’s feedback. Does it feel productive? Is it easy to stay open and receptive to it? Not so much after we hear the word sucks.”

Navigating the uncertain waters of feedback is definitely challenging. Here are a couple of strategies to help you…

First, stay aligned with your values and try creating a mantra that can help you in the moment.  For example,  I value the act of being curious.  I think this stems from my strength of learner (according to Gallup’s Strengths Finder Assessment). So when I am on the receiving end of giving feedback, I am often silently repeating to myself… stay curious, stay curious, stay curious over and over as a way to stay connected to my values.  Or when I am on the giving end of negative feedback, I practice reminding myself that there will always be things on the other side of the situation that I need to know and staying open and curious is a good way to gather that information.

Second, practice staying present.  Take the time to learn what your default tendency is when it comes to offloading discomfort and then practice not implementing that strategy.  Some typical strategies are anger, blame, pretending we aren’t uncomfortable, and numbing to name a few.

Do you know what your go-to strategy is?

The bottom line is that negative feedback is a challenge for most of us, but if we want to live a life that allows for expansion and growth, we have to practice both giving and receiving it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.  What have you learned about feedback?  Please share it with me in the comment section.


Today’s author: Laura Hall, CPC, CDWF: As a certified professional coach since 2009, Laura Hall, Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator has been helping people just like you make changes in both their personal and professional lives.  Laura can be reached via email at [email protected] or feel free to visit her website


Packing List for Life’s Journey

Packing List for Life’s Journey

Packing List for Life’s Journey

I’ve always resonated with the idea of life being a journey.  A journey is defined as an act of traveling from one place to another.  I see life as a journey across time.  Over time, I’ve been able to experience different aspects of myself and the world in which I live.  It’s been quite a journey and the exciting part is that there is so much to discover and uncover about myself still ahead of me.

Every seasoned traveler knows that packing appropriately can make a big difference to your experience.  If you forget to pack your gloves on your ski trip, you are either going to need to buy some or you are going to be pretty miserable.

This got me thinking about a packing list for life’s journey.  This packing list is modeled after the 10 guideposts to wholehearted living found in the book The Gifts of Imperfection by Dr. Brené Brown.  I hope you find it as helpful as I have 🙂

  1. Bring authenticity – Be truly yourself, practice being vulnerable. Let yourself really be seen. Leave behind the masks and armor you have accumulated over the years. They will just weigh your life down.
  2. Bring compassion, both for yourself and those you encounter on your journey, leave behind perfectionism…there is no such thing as a perfect life, only perfectly imperfect ones.
  3. Bring a resilient spirit…when you find yourself in an unexpected rain storm, believe that you have what it takes to make it through. Seek the shelter of help if needed. Leave behind numbing and powerlessness as those behaviors and thoughts can leave you feeling lost and hopeless.
  4. Bring gratitude and joy…look for the good in life. Speak words of appreciation to yourself and others on a daily basis.  Leave behind scarcity and fear of the dark…you are worthy of love and belonging.  You are enough.  Remember that!
  5. Bring intuition and faith, leave behind the need for certainty…You are never going to be able to predict all the unexpected surprises that you will undoubtedly encounter along the way. Trust that divine intervention is with you always, guiding you even when you don’t realize it.
  6. Bring creativity – the life you design together will be uniquely yours. Leave behind comparison…Instead of comparing your life to others’, ask the question, “Is this working for me?”  If the answer is yes…great.  If the answer is no…be creative and try something different.
  7. Bring along play and rest while leaving behind exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth …Do things that rejuvenate you and refills your tank. When you are tired, rest.  Remember, it doesn’t matter how fast you go.  Enjoy the moments and go at your own pace.
  8. Bring calm and stillness, leave behind anxiety as a lifestyle…some of the most memorable experiences will be those born out of not having an agenda. They will come in the quiet stillness of just looking up at the stars.  Anxiety will undoubtedly show up at different times during your journey, learn from it and move on, but please don’t pack it.
  9. Bring meaningful work…something that leaves you feeling accomplished and feeling like your life has purpose. This may or may not be what we do for employment.  Do not pack self-doubt and “supposed to’s”…practice trusting yourself and learning to say no to things that are not moving you toward your best self and your best life.
  10. Bring laughter, song and dance, and leave behind being cool and always in control. Please pack your sense of humor and a willingness to be silly and not take yourself too seriously while leaving behind a need to always be right.

This packing list is something I need to revisit on a regular basis.  I hope you find it as useful as I have as you navigate your way through life. Is there anything else that you think is important to pack or to leave home?  I’d love to read what you have to say!


Today’s author: Laura Hall, CPC, CDWF: As a certified professional coach since 2009, Laura Hall, Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator has been helping people just like you make changes in. As a mother of 2 girls, Laura has a special interest in coaching parents, so if you still have children living at home, ask Laura about her Wholehearted Parenting programs. Laura can be reached via email at [email protected] or feel free to visit her website