Life Lessons Learned at Paint Nite

Life Lessons Learned at Paint Nite

About a year ago a friend invited me to join her for a Paint Nite event. I had heard about these gatherings and had actually seen some finished projects on Facebook. I was impressed! However, the first thought that went through my head was, “I can’t paint. I would never be able to make something like that!”

In case you aren’t familiar with the concept, a Paint Nite works like this…a group of people get together, usually at a bar or restaurant, and over the course of about 2 hours they are guided step by step through the painting process. Everyone walks away with 16” x 20” canvas painting that has been modeled after the one the instructor brings.

Several years ago, I made the conscious decision to stop turning away from things that scared or intimidated me. My mantra was (and continues to be) feel the fear and do it anyway. This is how I practice courage. With this mantra in mind, I decided to say yes to the Paint Nite invitation. Here is a picture of my finished product 🙂 Paint Nite

That night I not only walked away with a painting I’m proud of, but I also walked away with some important life lessons that I’d like to share with you now.

Life Lesson #1 – Begin by beginning.
Honestly, the hardest part for me was putting the first stroke of paint on the canvas. My entire life I’ve wrestled with perfectionism and certainty. I wanted my picture to look just like the artist’s. I wanted to know that mine was going to turn out as good as the already completed painting she brought with her as an example. I wanted a gold star on my finished project. I was afraid to start because I didn’t want to fail, but that’s not feeling the fear and doing it anyway, so I grabbed the brush and began painting.

What I learned that night was that sometimes (dare I say most of the time) it’s impossible to predict the outcome of events with certainty. What I already knew, but needed to be reminded of, is that perfectionism is overrated and not helpful. Healthy striving is my goal, not perfectionism. Once its safe to leap, sometimes you just have to leap. There are many areas in my life where the lesson to begin by beginning applies. Blog writing, exercise, scrapbooking, clearing out my closet, and even things like difficult conversations that need to be had are a few areas that come to mind for me.

Life Lesson #2 – Permission slips work. Remember to use them!
One of the tools I use when working with coaching clients is permission slips. It comes from the Daring Greatly curriculum that is part of the certification I got based on the work of Brené Brown. The idea is to finish the statement…I give myself permission to ____________. Permission slips help me get clear about what’s holding me back and they help me show up more fully. During Paint Nite I gave myself permission to be disappointed in my final project, to be a beginner, and to have fun with my friends. As soon as I gave myself this permission everything changed. I was able to be in the moment with the painting. It was a fun night!

Life Lesson #3 – Be careful with comparison.
During my Paint Nite experience, I found myself looking not only at the instructor’s painting for reference, but also at the paintings of the people around me. There were times during the night that looking around gave me inspiration, but there were also times when looking around only made me feel like my painting wasn’t measuring up. There seems to be a tipping point for me.

What I learned that night is that comparison has two sides. There is the side that motivates and inspires me, like when I’m working out and I notice the person beside me really pushing herself and I think, I could try a little harder, and there is also the side that leads to feelings of not enough, like when I’m at a Paint Nite and I look at the masterpiece being created next to me and I think, Wow, my painting stinks!. Being careful to notice when comparison tips from inspiration to scarcity is something I need to be on the look out for on a regular basis.

Now it’s your turn…

If you’d like to learn your own life lessons, consider joining us on October 28th for Be Creative. The evening will be a blend of art project and life coaching. As Shari, our artist for the evening, leads you through the painting process, I will coach you on topics such as perfectionism, comparison, courage, and permission. You will walk away not only with a beautiful piece of art, but also with your own life lesson takeaways. For more information Click Here.
Register today as space is limited


Do you love your life? As a certified professional coach since 2009, Laura Hall 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



Visualization to Realization

4 Steps to Help You Bring Your Vision to Reality

Have you ever wanted something in your life yet didn’t know how to begin to bring it into reality? Most likely, each day, there is something that we each would like to change or enhance about our lives. Whether we desire a much needed career change, a more satisfying significant relationship, a physical body that is pounds lighter and toned, or perhaps it’s a more balanced life with more joy and less stress! Whatever it might be, I have found that a personal visualization practice can help to manifest what you desire in your life.

I have made visualization a daily intention and have incorporated it into my coaching practice as a significant way to help others get focused on what they really want in their lives and, then bring those things into realization. It can definitely be a practice that works hand in hand with meditation, prayer and a positive outlook.

You may have heard the term visualization before but are wondering, what exactly is visualization? It’s a powerful tool that allows you to use your imagination to create a clear focused image of what you want in your life. And then, by focusing on it often, and sincerely believing in it, you will be able to manifest those things in life.

Let’s talk about some of the key steps of visualization.

First, relax to ensure the most effective visualization.
Quiet your mind from thinking about your to do list for a little bit. Do some deep breathing and relax your whole body. Research has shown that when we relax, our brain wave pattern changes from beta level to alpha level. The alpha level is found to be more effective in creating change through the visualization process.

Second, use your imagination to create a vivid picture of what you want in your life.
What does that look like? Picture yourself with your goal realized, as if it is really happening. How does it make you feel when you think about having that in your life? Create as many details as possible about it – use all of your senses – how does it look, sound, smell, feel, etc.

Third, focus on the picture you have created regularly, believing in your visualization.
When you first wake up and right before you go to sleep tend to be very productive times to visualize because you are in a more relaxed state then. However, you can do it as often as you like throughout the day.

Fourth, create positive statements, called affirmations, to shift any limiting beliefs that may be holding you back from realizing what you want in your life.
Affirmations work best when they are positive, concise and stated in the present tense.

A few examples of affirmations are, “I am joyful and balanced and can have all I want in my life”. “I am healthy and fit”. “I live a happy exciting life!”

Affirmations will help you to shift your doubts, fears and worry and get in a more powerful positive mindset. They allow you to focus on thoughts that support your vision rather than focusing on the reasons that you might have thought you could not create what you wanted to bring into your life.

Visualizing positive outcomes and picturing them as if they are currently happening is really empowering and has given me and my coaching clients the ability to embrace challenges in a more positive light. And, by being intentional in creating daily positive affirmations, I have seen my energy level for working through challenging situations increase and my ability to be successful in reaching goals strengthened. At times, I am still amazed at how much more easily things fall into place when I use visualization. The practice of visualization can quickly shift my mindset and then change the way I approach the things I set out to do each day. I am excited about the energy shift that visualization provides. When you feel energized with a positive outlook, you can accomplish amazing things every single day.

As you can probably tell, I have a true passion for this topic because it has brought wonderful things into my life seemingly effortlessly. I would love to share my experiences and provide you with some easy yet powerful tools to bring a daily visualization practice into your own life!

If you are ready to bring the things that you most desire into your life now, I am offering a workshop series beginning October 26th.  For details on the workshop visit:

If you have any questions about the workshop series, this blog, or other coaching opportunities, I would welcome the opportunity to talk with you! Please feel free to reach out to me directly —

Donna Kettell, Certified Professional Coach
Wholistic Woman Retreats, Affiliate Coach
Founder, Kettell Coaching [email protected]
410 978 3492


Be Fabulous ~ In Your Life’s Vision

Be Fabulous ~ In Your Life’s Vision

“I just don’t know what I want to do with the rest of my life.” This is the declaration I had just heard from the beautiful, forty-something woman sitting across the table from me. For the sake of this article I will refer to this woman as “Cathy”.

Cathy had a successful upper level management career, but she had reached a crossroad in her life – her sons were moving out of the house and her image as a mother and wife was changing. She was feeling down because her next move was unknown and not planned out. Cathy came to me to seek the support of a life coach to help her figure out her life’s desires.

Cathy’s situation was not unusual. I had heard her story many, many times from other women: “I don’t know what I want to do; I am not in touch with what will bring me joy; I don’t even know what joy looks like.”

The first step we took in our work together was to give Cathy permission to slow down and take the time to really think about what she wanted in her life. She personalized definitions for words that were foreign to her like joy and fun. She created her own meaning for “Fabulousity” and she created tools that spoke her vision language and kept her dream of an adventurous life in front of her. We worked and danced as coach and life-student for one year and our blueprint was always her personalized life vision.

Today Cathy is beaming with her own Fabulousity: she has fun with her photography, she weathered a relationship breakup and bought a beautiful home, she goes on adventures daily and she is embracing the role as a new grandmother. Cathy has found her joy – it all began when she took the time to craft out her life’s vision.

You too can be like Cathy – beaming with Fabulousity! Everything you want to manifest in your life begins with a vision. Slow down and take the time to join me and the Wholistic coaches on Wednesday, September 30 at 5:15 as I present Be Fabulous – In Your Life’s Vision. I’ll review my top strategies that you can follow to get in touch with what you really want your life to look like – regardless of where you are now. I’ll also share some creative ways, including a vision board, in which you can keep your fabulous vision of your life in front of you. You will walk away with a piece of your Fabulousity – what a great way to approach 2016!  Click here if you’d like to register for this ‘Fabulous’ event.

Be Fabulous!

Today’s author: Jeanette Eleff, with Focused Vitality, is a success coach who helps people identify their vision for a successful life and/or business. She then shows them how to stay focused on the activities and mindsets that will help them achieve their goal.


Be Your Best

Be Your Best

Are you being all that you were created to be?
Sometimes I answer this question with a resounding YES! It’s usually when I feel that I’m having a positive impact on my world and others….when I’m using my God-given talents to be and do my best.

All too often, though, the answer to the question is a definite NO. Admittedly, in my humanity, I fall short of being my best on a regular basis. An inner, self-critical voice frequently tells me how I am not measuring up and never will. If I listen to the voice too closely I begin to believe that I shouldn’t even try. It tells me to play safe and small, not to speak up, and not to take risks.

Fortunately, I have learned how to manage my inner critic. I listen to it only to the extent of admitting that I didn’t do my best and that I could do better….and then I turn to curiosity and ask myself how I could improve next time. I maintain an open mind and consciously let go of self-judgment to try to learn from my shortfalls.

With this mindset, my life is a series of ups and downs that provide me with joy when things are going well, and life lessons when things are disappointing and hard. Perhaps the same is true for you.

At the heart of my growth process is self-awareness, or consciousness. I believe that the best way to navigate the highs and lows of life is by knowing, loving, and accepting ourselves….and when our ability to do that falls short, to trust that there is a Higher Power/God, who knows, loves and accepts us.

An important perspective is acknowledging that I am a work-in-progress. Rather than harshly berating myself when I make mistakes, I have learned to treat myself like I would a good friend. I can change the channel of that voice in my head to a station that speaks loving-kindness and affirmations that encourage rather than discourage me. Listening to that channel doesn’t remove the disappointment that I feel with myself, but it motivates me to learn and grow from a source of compassion and helps me release criticism.

As a professional coach I teach, and use many tools to develop self-awareness. One of the best tools I’ve found is Gallup’s Strengths Finder assessment, which provides individuals information about their top 5 talents. When we make an effort to learn about our talents, and practice using them effectively, they become strengths – characteristics that we can consistently use to produce positive outcomes at work and in life overall.

Each of our strengths has a light and dark side. The light side refers to those times when our strengths are serving us well and bringing about those positive outcomes I referred to above. The dark side, by contrast, is when our strengths do not serve us well. It’s important to know the warning signs when we are starting to drift into the shadow side of our strengths so that we can self-correct and return to the light side.

I will give you a couple of examples:

My top strength is Empathy. Gallup defines this strength as an ability to sense other’s emotions. I define it as being highly sensitive and tuned-in on an emotional level. Some might call it emotional intelligence. When my strength is serving me well, I am able to meet others where they are and connect with them on an emotional level to support them in the way that is best for them at that moment. This sixth sense helps me understand the emotional climate of an individual or a group, sometimes with a deeper awareness than they themselves may have. I drift into the shadows when I lose sight of the healthy boundaries between me and someone else and I actually take on their feelings. I can lose myself in another person’s emotional landscape by caring too much. This isn’t beneficial for me or the other person, so I have learned how to create boundaries that help me to be a successful coach to others and fully present and well-balanced in my own life.

I’ve spoken to many clients who have the strengths of Achiever and Responsibility. These people know how to get things done and they do it with a great attitude. They enjoy checking things off a mental or physical list and get great satisfaction from tasks being completed. They are ‘can-do’ people and are crucial to have on your team because they will ‘get it done’. That’s the good side. The dark side is that they can overwhelm themselves with how much there is to do and get stuck there; they can risk burning out by trying to do it all; or they can overstep boundaries and do things that other people need to do. A perfect example is a parent who needs to refrain from picking up after a child in order to teach her how to do it herself. We know that if we always do tasks for our children they won’t learn to become responsible adults and the same is true in other areas of our lives.

Another strength of mine is called Developer, which Gallup defines as having the desire and ability to help others reach their full potential. In my life, I’ve been able to express this strength in a variety of ways…as a teacher, a parent, and a professional coach. I feel deep satisfaction when I can support a client, friend, or loved one in being brave and taking the next step in their personal growth…in their lifelong journey to wholeness. The dark side of this strength is when I can see what’s possible (and my Strategic strength can see how to get there), but I’m way ahead of the other person. I need to remind myself that we each grow at our own pace, and wake up to consciousness when we are ready. I can provide fertile soil for growth but each seedling sprouts and grows in its own time. I must remember to respect each person’s pace, whether it is swift or, to me, excruciatingly slow.

I was inspired recently by an article written by Sandie Lynch, a friend and coach colleague. She shared 6 steps to develop self-worth and feel complete (or whole). They were all helpful, yet one especially resonated with me. It was the reminder to embrace our uniqueness.

Sandie states: “There are no two people who are the same. Each of us has unique gifts and talents which we possess when we are born. Our experiences develop our talents into strengths that when applied makes our part of the world a better place. Trust that you make a difference!

I believe that knowing and developing your talents into strengths which you can consistently use for the benefit of yourself and others is pivotal to realizing your full potential and being your best.

How will you know, like, and trust your strengths more?

Here are two suggestions to start (or continue) you on that lifelong journey.

1)  Change your inner critic to an inner coach. Cultivate core honesty with yourself, which is grounded in love and self-acceptance. Encourage yourself instead of discouraging yourself by treating yourself as you would a dear friend.

2)  Learn about your strengths…both the light and dark sides… and practice ways to self-correct when you drift into the shadows. Draw healthy boundaries around them so that they make positive contributions and don’t overwhelm yourself or others.

I deeply believe that you are designed by God to be uniquely special. It is my hope that you will develop your inner strengths to be your best in all areas of your life.

An invitation: If you would like to learn more about being whole and living into your best self please join us for a Wholistic Woman Evening Retreat, Be Complete, led by Coach Sandie Lynch on 8/26 from 5:30-7 pm. Click here for details and to register.

Today’s author: Carol deLaski, PCC is a speaker, author, and coach who specializes in strengths development for individuals, businesses, and teams. You may contact her at [email protected] to arrange a complimentary call to see how strengths training can help you or your organization.


My Brave Day

I declare today my brave day.  Everyone has one of those days, right?

Today is the 4th anniversary of being a breast cancer survivor and taking charge of my health and future.  What a journey it has been and today I reflect on the day.  I wonder…when you go through something major in your life does it add a protective shield or a layer of “I can do anything” to who you are?

Four years ago, I underwent a thirteen hour procedure.  Today I think about the timing of it all.  The prepping for surgery, removal of my cancer, and reconstruction lasted half a day.  Pretty amazing when you think about it!  I think of the competent surgeons and nurses, and my friends and family on the sidelines.  I think about how I was treated during the day.  I have very clear memories of everything that happened before I went under anesthesia.

I had a team of people present with me before going into surgery.  My team consisted of my sister-in-laws, Tobi and Linda, my Dad and stepmom Gail, my godmother Joan, my oldest high school friend Rachel, and of course, my supportive husband Steve.  I would have loved for my mom to be there but she was not healthy enough to be at the hospital with us.  My mom had been battling ovarian cancer for ten years prior to my diagnosis – a huge milestone for anyone with that type of cancer.  She was my model for bravery.  Now it was my time to fight!

As I reflect, I wonder…Why was I so brave and relaxed?  Let’s see:

  • My support team of family and friends by my side
  • My competent surgeons and staff on hand
  • My own positive mental attitude

My fight was planned from the start when my mother and I were diagnosed with the genes associated with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer called BRCA1.  I had a 50% chance of carrying the mutation, so it wasn’t a total shocker to test positive for it.  In fact, my breast cancer detection was caught early.  I was at stage zero.  It doesn’t get better than that!

My surgery lasted 13 hours but really this event of mine will last a lifetime.  I think when you’ve experienced something of this magnitude you earn the right to have a brave day.  That’s how I see it and why I declare today that day for me!

Do you have a day you can declare your brave day?

Just weeks ago I did something brave at our Wholistic Woman Adventure Retreat – Be Courageous.  I faced a new challenge called The Leap of Faith.  The picture you see in this post is me at the top of The Leap of Faith.  As I climbed a 22 foot pole, one step at a time, to reach the top and stand tall, I was reminded of my brave day.  The same components were in place.  I had a supportive coaching team and community, a competent staff, and most of all, my positive attitude!

Four years ago I underwent a major, life changing event.  I think about the protective shield that I now carry with me as a result of “my brave day”, and realize it is what prepares me for all the challenges ahead.  Challenges like The Leap of Faith as well as challenges still yet to come.  If you’d like inspiration to declare your brave day, check out our photo gallery of brave women participating in ‘Be Courageous’ by clicking here.


Today’s author: Kelye Rouse-Brown, CHA, CHT is a business owner, joint venture partner, HR expert, certified coach and training professional. Her 3 components: Educate, Motivate, and Cultivate are what help her clients develop, spark action and grow a successful career/business and life from the core. Kelye can be reached at 301-371-9300 or by visiting her website:


Not Feeling Enough? 6 Steps to Feel Complete

A few days ago some friends and I were discussing going back in time to teenage years. I confessed that I would never want to relive my younger years because of the growth and wisdom I now embrace. Long gone are the thoughts of not feeling I was enough! Now, I wake up every day feeling grateful and excited about who I am and what I share with the world. I am passionate about encouraging others to discard false beliefs that keep them quiet, feeling unworthy, and living small. I want people to live brave, bold, and full; being every bit of who they were created to be!

Just a short history of my journey. I grew up in a low-social economic home. My mom and dad were raised as farmers and were extremely hard workers. They refused to live with debt, therefore, we never bought a new car, expensive clothes, or had expensive toys. Growing up in an area where many of our neighbors had all the above, some kids can be cruel, condemning those who don’t have the latest and greatest and this is what happened to me. The result of this condemnation at an age too young to understand, I embraced numerous false lies.

As a child, I believed that my mom and dad were not good enough or smart enough to provide my sisters and me with nice things, and therefore thought that I too must be from the same mold. My favorite fairy tale was Cinderella because I believed that if I was pretty enough, my knight-in- shining armor would save me from my impoverished life. Unfortunately, as I grew older I struggled with my weight and so the dream and belief of being pretty enough was foiled. I worked so hard to be perfect… to be enough! Others would compliment me but deep inside my beliefs were that I would never be smart enough, good enough, or pretty enough…for something! I felt that no one would really like me if they knew the real me, therefore, I had to be someone else, someone who had it all together! I’m sure you can see how this turned out…not well…at least until I learned and believed the truth, that the only person I could be was me! I am now a firm believer that we attract into our lives what we believe we are and deserve. Looking back now it was like I was asking for people to manipulate, disrespect, and criticize me, because that is what I expected.

To shorten the story, on my 41st birthday I found myself separated from the love of my life and with no friends or family to remember my birthday. It was a sad, lonely, and desperate time, but out of it came a ray of hope and some valuable lessons that shaped me for a life full of passion to shout from the roof tops: each and every person is enough and has everything necessary and accessible to be complete!

If you struggle with similar false beliefs that keep you living small, here are a few strategies that transformed me; I pray that these move you from feeling “not enough” to realizing you are “COMPLETE!”

As we begin, I would like to share the definition of Complete: to have all the necessary or appropriate parts.

1. Embrace Uniqueness! There are no two people who are the same. Each of us has unique gifts and talents which we possess when we are born. Our experiences develop our talents into strengths that when applied makes our part of the world a better place. People in our lives are positively impacted when we invest our talents and strengths for the good of others. No other person can make the same impact in the exact same way. Trust that you make a difference!

2. There are No Mistakes! I’m sure all of us at one time or another could look back on our lives and shake our head and say, “That was really stupid!” There is a big difference between saying that and thinking, “I’m stupid!” I believe we are all on the journey of growing wisdom. We can only make our decisions based on the wisdom that we have in that particular moment. When we embrace each situation as the necessary “teacher” for our growing wisdom, we learn to look for the learning objective in each difficulty as research for our “Doctorate” in life!

3. Avoid Comparison! I (and everyone I know) am my own worst critic. We tend to always focus on what we don’t like about our lives, body, and/or self. Matters get even worse when we compare our lives or qualities to others we admire or want to emulate. We never measure up, because we are not supposed to! Going back to strategy one, we are unique, and our lives are not to be like anyone else’s. We are to create our own story; embrace and develop our gifts and talents into strengths to touch the lives around us.

4. Receive and Offer Grace and Forgiveness. When the critic inside shows up, review strategies 1, 2, and 3! When we learn how to provide grace and forgiveness to ourselves, it becomes easier to offer it to others. We are all on the same journey to feel and be complete and it makes it much more enjoyable when our company is supportive and encouraging verses judging and condemning…even if it is just yourself for now!

5. Share Your Gifts. We are made for connection! Research shows our bodies and lives thrive when we have positive social connection. Our level of stress decreases when we reach out to others in loving ways. When we share our gifts, talents, strengths and life lessons to serve, comfort, encourage, teach, and/or guide others for their greater good, a funny thing happens…we are the ones blessed by it. Pay attention to the things you share with others that expand your energy, joy, and fullness in your heart. These are the things the world needs, and only you in your unique way can give!

6. Live Fully Complete through Love. Each and every one of us has what we need to feel and live fully complete. Love is the key! Initially, love of self; by recognizing the amazing creation we are in all our uniqueness to serve and touch our part of the world! Our lives forever change those lives we touch. I know you are shaking your head at this last strategy thinking I’ve gone too far, but keep in mind one of the favorite Christmas movies played over and over every year is “It’s a Wonderful Life.” You are making your impact on the world right now. Start embracing that you are made fully complete when you accept, embrace, and share unconditional love with each unique soul you meet.

If you want to know more about how to live a full, joyous, and complete life, please contact me for a coaching series to help you live and Be Complete! If local to the Frederick, Maryland area, please join me and the Wholistic Woman Retreats community on Wednesday, August 26th 2015 at 5:30 pm for our ‘Be You’ Evening Retreat and an introduction to Be Complete.  Click here for details.


Written by Sandie Lynch MS, RDN, LDN, Registered Dietitian, Personal Trainer, and Wholistic Wellbeing Coach. Owner and CEO of ATP Consultants, LLC. Sharing 5 Key Principles to Attain Top Performance in living your best life at any age! Check out ATP Fitness to “Maximize” your 2015. Learn, practice, and embrace the strategies that will build Wholistic Wellbeing for life!  Contact Sandie via email at [email protected]


Be Original and Build a Standout Career as a Distinguished Leader

Be Original and Build a Standout Career as a Distinguished Leader

I excelled on the fast-track by constantly looking for ways to embrace and contribute to the bigger picture.  Taking an interest in the bigger picture is what helps advance careers in any field, especially as an industry leader or entrepreneur.

Do you know what differentiates you as someone who truly excels among your colleagues? If you’re seeking to make an impact in your next role, or even in your current position – perform your job well, exude confidence and develop your personal brand as a leader.

Your personal brand is your unique promise of value.  It separates you from your colleagues within your industry.  Development of your personal brand is about understanding yourself and knowing what makes you unique and different.

Today, competition for top jobs has become more and more challenging. Therefore, distinguishing yourself and managing your brand is important for achieving your professional goals.

• Differentiate yourself from your peers – Find ways to confidently express your unique attributes while at work.  This can be done by staying true to your authentic work style such as being organized, creative, innovative or confident when carrying out assignments.

For example, the Apple brand is known for innovation, therefore, resourceful employees at Apple find solutions to challenges by innovating their way out of predicaments.

• Create opportunities and get results – Try something new and expand your comfort zone.  Rise to the challenge on a side project or new initiative and go above and beyond.

Rather than waiting for an opportunity to come to you, realize that it’s up to you to take action. Use networking within your organization to look for ways to work cross-functionally with other teams and identify new projects outside of your role that you might be interested in, and volunteer to take on that project as a way to stand out.

Discover problems in need of solutions that align with your expertise and be a brand builder who embodies your brand as an asset and investment in your future.

• Get noticed and be known for something specific – Use your skills, emotional intelligence, talent and energy to shine at work.  Become your best advocate and know how you bring value to your company.

As a former human resource leader at Nordstrom, opportunities arose where there were two or more opposing views. My strength in negotiation would result in two (or more) parties satisfied with the outcome, which is not often easy to achieve. I became known for finding acceptable middle ground.

Be original, and play to your strengths. How well do you understand the differentiated value you deliver at work as your most powerful asset to serve others distinctively, stand out and excel professionally?

Written by Heather Nunley, Business Coach and Personal Brand Consultant at Brilliance Work Consulting.  Heather can be reached via email at [email protected]


Overthinking Is Not Helpful…and Other Life Lessons from Outside My Comfort Zone

Overthinking Is Not Helpful…and Other Life Lessons from Outside My Comfort Zone

Last week, at age 48, I stepped out of my comfort zone and onto a gymnastics mat as I participated as a gymnast in the 15th World Gymnaestrada held in Helsinki, Finland.  This event is held every 4 years as a celebration of performance (non-competitive) gymnastics.  I was one of 25 participants representing Skyview Gymnastics and one of 250 participants representing the United States.  Over the course of 7 days, 21,000 participants from 55 different countries came together to perform over 600 hours of demonstrations and shows.  For me, this event was the culmination of a years worth of practice and training.  Having never been to a World Gymnaestrada before, I wasn’t sure what to expect but I knew for sure that along the way I would be stretched outside my comfort.  This was both exhilarating and and frightening!  US Delegation

As I look back over the year of preparation, I realize there have been several valuable life lessons that I’ve learned along the way that I’d like to share with you here.

Lesson #1 – You are never too old (or young) to try something new.  The participants in our group ranged in age from 1 to 68 years old.  I’ve spent years watching gymnastics, but being the one out on the floor was definitely something new to me.  I’m so glad that I didn’t let my age or lack of gymnastics experience stop me from participating in this amazing event.  The memories that I made in Helsinki will undoubtedly be with me for a lifetime.

Where in your life are you letting the excuse of age or lack of experience hold you back?  What would it take for you to say “yes” to doing what you can do in that situation?

My gymnastics skills were far from stellar.  I was constantly being reminded to point my toes and straighten my legs.  My biggest skills were a cartwheel and a handstand to a forward roll.  But, you know what?…I’m really proud of myself!  I got out there and played full out to the best of my abilities.  I did what I could and that was good enough.

Lesson #2 – Overthinking is not helpful!  Prior to taking our routines overseas, we were able to perform at Skyview’s end of the year performance as well at a friends and family show right before we left. During one of these performances, I let my head get in my way.  I started overthinking every move and step, and I was extremely worried that I was going to forget something important.  Guess what happened!?!  I forgot an entire section of the choreography.

The next time we performed this routine, I chose to approach it differently.  I was mindful about reminding myself that I was prepared and that I knew the steps.  I worked on staying focused on the part of the routine that I was actually performing instead of worrying about what was coming next.  The outcome was exactly as I had hoped.  I had fun and remembered everything I was supposed to.

Have you ever struggled with overthinking something?  How did it turn out for you?  What would it have taken to shift to focused thinking?

Lesson #3 – Some days are better than others, and that’s OK.  This was true for both the choreography as well as the gymnastics skills.  Some days my moves were spot on, and on other days not so much.  I think this is true for life in general.  Some mornings I wake up energized, excited, and raring to go.  On other days, staying warm and cozy in my bed feels like a better option.  Some days it seems like nothing can go wrong, while on other days nothing can go right.  What I learned from my gymnastics experience is that it doesn’t do me any good to beat myself up on the not so good days.  I had more success when I just acknowledged that this was an off day, worked on practicing what I thought might make a difference and started fresh the next time we practiced.

How do you handle challenging days?

Lesson #4 – Missteps often aren’t as big as our mind makes them out to be.  This insight came to me as a result of watching video footage of our routines.  I’d come off the floor thinking, “Ugh!  That was horrible!” and then I’d watch the video and realize that as a whole, it didn’t look as bad as I thought.  I wonder how many times this is true in other aspects of my life?

I suspect that this is probably happening pretty frequently.  Unfortunately, most of the time, we don’t get to watch a video replay of our life, so how do we know whether or not we are making an accurate assessment of how we are doing?

I believe that having someone in our life who we trust to give us honest feedback, both positive and negative is extremely helpful.  I also think it’s beneficial to question our own interpretations of our life situations.  Are we being too hard on ourselves?  Are we being too easy on ourselves?  How would someone watching from the outside describe what happened?

Do you think your mind magnifies or minimizes your missteps?

Lesson #5 – I can be scared and brave at the same time.  One of my favorite mantras is, “feel the fear, but do it anyway”.  This World Gymnaestrada experience gave me many opportunities to feel the fear, and do it anyway.  I felt the fear when I was working on my handstand to forward rolls.  I felt the fear when we practiced front flips into the foam pit at the gym.  I felt the fear standing backstage before our big performances.  I DID IT ANYWAY!  This is my definition of brave 🙂

Where in your life are you being called to do it anyway?  Where is fear holding you back?

Next week, on July 29th, 2015 Wholistic Woman Retreats is having our ‘Be Courageous’ Adventure Retreat where we will zip line, leap and climb out of our comfort zones.  We’d love to have you join us!  Details can be found by clicking here.

Do you love your life? As a certified professional coach since 2009, Laura Hall 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


Wholistic Woman Retreats is Turning Five!

5th AnniversaryI’m happy to say that Wholistic Woman Retreats (WWR) is celebrating its 5th year of hosting quality retreats and events for busy ‘women-on-the-grow’.

Recently I was asked to write a feature article about WWR for the first issue of Sass Magazine. Created as a collaborative effort by a team of talented Frederick women, Sass Magazine will premier in September 2015. WWR is honored to be one of the featured articles for their launch issue.



As I prepared the article I reflected on who we are, where we came from, and why we do what we do. I believe that it’s good to look back periodically to understand our roots and history. Hindsight offers a new perspective and wisdom can frequently be gleaned from such contemplation.

Wholisitc Woman Retreats was an idea that had been swirling in my mind for over a decade. The idea took root and began to flourish when a fellow coach and friend, Jeanette Eleff, offered to help me put together a retreat designed to both nurture and stretch women to grow. Within a few months we invited 4 other coaches to help us and the Wholistic Coaching Coalition was formed. Kelye Rouse Brown, Lisa DiScuillo, Laura Hall, Sandie Lynch, Jeanette and I formed the original team.

We hosted overnight retreats in special surroundings where women could relax, have fun, listen, talk, learn, and grow together. We brought in health practitioners to teach about physical modalities that support wellness such as massage, chiropractic, reflexology, Reiki, and more. Vision boards, nature walks, campfires, and markets for shopping supported the central theme which was to practice self-care. We learned that self-care was not selfishness, and that focusing on ourselves long enough to fill our own tanks was necessary in order to give our best to our families, careers, and communities. Self-care was a foreign concept to some and difficult to grasp for many, but together we explored this concept and supported one another’s efforts to practice it.

Over the years we’ve expanded our programs to include a physical adventure retreat each summer and a Gratitude dinner each fall. Women responded so well to our variety of retreats that they began asking how they could stay connected between our events. A membership community was formed in response to that request and gatherings are now offered in Frederick on the last Wednesday of every month. Women can come to one or all of these ‘Be You Evening Retreats’ to stay connected to each other, the coaches, and to themselves as we support each other in being our best. An Affiliate Coach Membership program was launched this year to support new coaches in building their practices. This program was well received as we brought 5 new Affiliates on board. WWR continues to expand!

At times members will bring friends from outside the area to our events, and when they do it’s not uncommon for visitors to ask “Is there something like this where I live?” I respond that, at this time, WWR is a local organization. But we are poised to grow in our next 5 years and I expect to answer that question differently on our 10 year anniversary. Our dream is to take WWR to new communities and offer our special brand of energy to women everywhere.


What makes Wholistic Woman Retreats special?


  • WWR is a community where women feel accepted as they are… yet encouraged to be more.
    • In this community women practice non-judgment and don’t tell each other what to do. We don’t ‘should’ on each other but allow one another to process out loud (or internally) and come to the conclusions that are right for ourselves.
    • We believe that each of us is a ‘work-in-progress’ and we honor the evolving edge and pace of each woman’s growth.
    • We create space for self-reflection and discovery because we know that wisdom revealed is more potent than wisdom taught. We believe that people are more likely to make changes that last if the idea originates within them.
    • We are experts at creating nurturing spaces for women to reflect, discover, and grow.
    • And last but not least, we celebrate the accomplishments of each woman in our community.


This is especially true as we cheer the founder of Sass Magazine, Kim Dow, to be her best. Kim has been our graphic designer for many years. Her company, Kalico Designs, has provided a consistent, branded, look for WWR that reflects our momentum and energy. We wouldn’t be who we are today without our coaches and our alliance partners. Kim is in integral part of our team. We believe in her, and in her vision, just as she has believed in us and our vision. So be sure to ‘Like’ Sass Magazine on Facebook and look for the first issue in September.


If you want to learn more about Wholistic Woman Retreats be sure to also ‘Like’ our Facebook page and visit to join our email list and receive updates about our programs.


Carol deLaski is the Founder and CEO of Wholistic Woman Retreats. She is a professional certified coach, speaker and author of Lost and Found: Discovering Strength in Love and Faith. Carol specializes in strengths development for businesses and individuals. You can contact her at [email protected].

Love Your Life…3 Questions to Ask Yourself Every Day

Love Your Life…3 Questions to Ask Yourself Every Day

Those of you that know me personally, know that I love my life.  Sure, I’ve had moments when things weren’t going the way that I wanted, but for the most part my life is good!  I’ve been wondering lately if I’m just lucky or if there is something I’m doing that helps me love my life.  What I’ve come up with is that yes, there has been a little luck involved (I was born in a free country during a time where modern day advances make so many things easier – think indoor plumbing, I’ve never had to fight for an education and  my parents taught me to believe I could do anything I put my mind to,  but the bigger impact has come from the questions I ask myself on a regular basis.  I believe these questions are important to ask yourself everyday.  On days when you love your life as well as on days when you don’t love your life.

So, what are these questions you might ask…well, they are the 3 questions that I ask myself every day and instead of keeping you in suspense, as I’m not one for drama, lets just cut to the chase.

  1. What is my life trying to teach me?  When you go to bed each night, review your day.  Think about the ups and the downs that occurred.  Try looking at these moments as life lessons that are there to course correct you and show you the way to loving your life.  One of my favorite shirts that I own right now says, “Do More of What Makes You Happy”.  What makes you happy?  What was it about the “ups” in your day that felt right to you?  How can you bring more of that into other situations?  For example, I find I’m happier when I’m outside, which is why you will often find me sitting on my back porch with my computer instead of inside at my desk. This is especially helpful when the computer work is something I’m not looking forward to.  What was it about the “downs” in your day?  What are they trying to teach you?  Are there relationships that need more boundaries?  Are you trying to go it alone when you really should be asking for help?  Is it time to let something go that you’ve been holding onto?  Be curious and then wait.  The answers will rise up to meet the question.
  2. What am I pretending not to know?  I believe we all have an inner knowing.  Oftentimes we don’t like what that voice inside of us is saying, so we ignore it.  Oprah Winfrey says, “Difficulties come when you don’t pay attention to life’s whisper. Life always whispers to you first, but if you ignore the whisper, sooner or later you’ll get a scream.”  Learn to listen to the whispers.  It makes life so much easier!  I find this question helps me access the whisper.  I encourage you to give it a try.  What are you pretending not to know?
  3. What can I do differently tomorrow?  This question is about knowing that everyday is a new day and it gives you the opportunity to be something different than you were yesterday; to do something different that you did yesterday.  At my core, I believe that life is both a classroom and a laboratory.  As soon as I learn that something isn’t working, I go into my life and start experimenting.  I set different intentions.  I try something new.  Albert Einstein says the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  Stop the insanity!  If your life isn’t working; if you aren’t loving your life, TRY SOMETHING DIFFERENT!  It doesn’t have to a big something.  Little changes can have big effects especially when they are carried out consistently over a period of time.

If you are experiencing a challenging time in your life, why not give these questions a try.  If you need a little extra help, look for someone that can help you figure out what is getting in the way of you loving your life.  You deserve it! You deserve to love your life!


Do you love your life? As a certified professional coach since 2009, Laura Hall 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