Wholistic Woman Voices: A Signature Retreat Experience

Wholistic Woman Voices: A Signature Retreat Experience

In just a few short weeks, our signature overnight retreat will be here! This year the theme is Wholehearted Living, based on The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown.

We asked two Wholistic Woman members, Pat and Gloria, to tell us the impact last year’s retreat at Antrim 1844 had on their lives and well-being. Read on to find out what they have to say about our retreats…


What was your favorite part of the last retreat?

[PAT] I really ended up enjoying the location. I have attended most of the retreats over the years (I think I’ve only missed one of them) so I’ve gone to lots of different venues and formats. This retreat was more of a commitment financially, but I soaked up and enjoyed the space and the pampering. So that was the most surprising part. The content is always valuable for me, as well as the connection with other people.

[GLORIA] The retreat was the very first Wholistic Woman event that I had ever attended. I had very little information as to what Wholistic Woman was all about, so I had no preconceived notions of what to expect. As I arrived, I was pleased with the surroundings…I loved the mansion and the history. At the retreat itself I enjoyed the ability to talk to people about things other than work or relocating to this area. It was nice to see a different kind of conversation coming about and just the positivity! Nobody was critiquing, complaining, judging – there was none of that. I didn’t even sense it. Everybody genuinely had open minds, open hearts, and welcoming arms. They wanted to just make everybody’s day better and everybody’s idea of what tomorrow could be more positive. So it was enlightening in that way.


What did you gain from the experience?

[PAT] I really enjoy Brené Brown’s books and materials, so for me having an opportunity to process and work with it, both individually and in the group, is valuable. Having it presented to me in different ways by the coaches, I find that I get a lot more out of the material and I’m much more able to apply things.

[GLORIA] It was actually quite eye-opening. I think I went with a little bit of pessimism, like… ‘oh my gosh, this is going to be one of those little feel-good things and it’s just going to be all kumbaya.’ But then we started getting into the meat of the program, diving into the topic that we were discussing. It was actually Carol’s presentation towards the end of the retreat when we were talking about grieving. I have only been in this area for 4 years after my husband took a new job and we moved from California. When we sold my home and left the place I had known my entire life, it was within six-months after I had lost my father and we had moved my daughter across the country to college. I left family, friends, my career, and pulled my son out school to move across the country. So all of those things happened in such short order that I had just dealt with them. I explained to Carol what I just mentioned and asked is there a grieving process for those types of events. And she said, “Oh my heavens, yes!” And the waterworks just started. It was the first time since all of that began that I actually took the time to realize that I had lost so much of what my world was. The snow globe of my world didn’t just get shaken but it cracked and everything spewed out. It wasn’t my reality anymore and I didn’t know how to be happy. I was functioning because things had to get done but I wasn’t enjoying it. I was getting pretty darn miserable because I was starting to get resentful over everything I perceived I had given up. So it was tough. For me, it was incredible that I gained that much insight from the retreat and I was able to just breathe. I stayed an extra night and I just allowed myself to cry. But it was OK. It was a new beginning. I got more out of it than I would have ever imagined.


Would you go to this year’s retreat?

[PAT] Oh yeah, I’m already registered!

[GLORIA] I actually have already signed up for this retreat! I’m just going to sit back and observe this time.


What is your advice for anyone who may be on the fence about attending?

[PAT] Don’t think that you need to come with a buddy. Just come and be very open because the group is very open. I always meet new and different people in addition to re-connecting. Come with an open mind and intend to maximize the time for yourself. I’ll tell you my story…last year check-in was 2:00. Despite my desire to connect with the coaches and a number of people there, I showed up at 2:00 and checked in to my room and I immediately started drawing a hot bath. Now, I tend to be a person who likes to connect with other people, but I just wanted to soak in this beautiful space first. I completely indulged in the room and what was there because it was so delightful. And then, I went to tea at 4 o’clock, but by the time I showed up for tea, I’d already had a bath, I’d already settled into my room. There was none of this drop and run, because it wasn’t just like the Hilton or the Holiday Inn or whatever…it was really lovely. When I told people how I began the retreat they said, ‘oh, what a good idea!’ Because your time is very full and there is a lot going on. So give yourself permission to do what you need to do to enjoy that space and not worry about anybody else. It’s okay to receive and enjoy the whole experience.

[GLORIA] We all come from different places and, to me, it seems that if you’re already thinking about attending, there must be something calling you to try it. You’ll never really know until you do. You can ask 50 of us that went and everybody will give you a different answer. So I think if it’s already in your mind and you’re thinking: ‘Sounds like a good idea but I don’t know if I should.’ Just do it. You have nothing to lose. At worst, you’re going to meet new people, enjoy some exquisite cuisine, a beautiful mansion with an incredible history, and whatever the weather holds. You will hear a few conversations and maybe connect with somebody else who has a similar story that you could bounce ideas off of and in doing so make a new friend…there’s nothing wrong with making a new friend!

We hope to see all of you at the Wholehearted Living Retreat this year!

Click here for more information and registration.

Don’t delay…reserve your spot today. Bring a special friend or two, if you like, and make it a girl’s getaway weekend.


Today’s Author: Thank you to Kira Tregoning, WWR Social Media Coordinator, for interviewing WWR members, Pat Herber and Gloria Murray for today’s blog.

One Word for 2017

One Word for 2017

This quote (by one of my favorite authors) reminds us to fully embrace our ‘You-ness’ and be unique.

How will you blend your special gifts, strengths, and experiences, to continue being a ‘one-of-a-kind’ person in 2017?

I find that using a theme word for the year is a helpful way to guide my growth as a unique person. I highly recommend it if you are seeking a new perspective about your work, or life overall.

The three step process outlined in the book One Word to Change Your Life tells us how to receive a word that God, the Universe (or whatever you call that which is bigger than us) intends for our growth. The process is simple, yet important to follow because this is not about picking any ole’ good word. It’s about receiving the word uniquely intended for you. The three step process works like this:

1. Look within. Set aside time to be quiet and ask yourself these powerful questions:
What do I need? Not what do I want, but what do I truly need?
What’s in my way? What’s blocking me?
What needs to go? Or, what do I need to release in order to move forward?

2. Look up. Prayerfully ask, “What do you (God or the Universe) want to do in me and through me?” Be open and pay attention for the answer. The word that surfaces may not be what you expect. In fact, your mind may reject the word provided, but if your heart and soul knows that it is your word, then go with it. Even if the word doesn’t make sense initially, try to remain open and curious to see what insights await you.

3. Look out. Live with your word for the entire year. It’s important to stick with it because there will be lessons that will be learned by applying it to everyday highs and lows.

My first word was BELIEVE and I found it very easy to identify all that I believed in…faith, love, honesty, kindness…the list went on and on. Midway through the year, however, I started to see my unbelief, those times when I felt weak, vulnerable, and insecure. It was uncomfortable to realize the person I didn’t fully believe in was me. My word helped me recognize how self-doubt limits me at times and I found the antidote in faith. When I feel weak and unable to go on, God provides the people and resources that I need. I learned that the more I look for that provision the more I see it, again and again.

The next year my word was FOUND. This word helped me identify the actions, solutions, thoughts, and approaches that work best for me, and to release those that do not. I learned how to more consistently rely on what I have found to be true. I trust my intuition more, spend less time comparing myself to others and feeling lost. I know where the source of my inner strength lies and encourage others to find their own resilience through strengths coaching and my book, Lost and Found: Discovering Strength in Love and Faith. FOUND was a very relevant word for me in 2014.

In 2015 my word was HEAR. Initially I thought this word was a bit odd and uninspiring. Nonetheless, I went with it and learned to pay attention to the messages that I allow myself to hear from others…and from my own self-talk. I started to consciously block harmful or negative messages and tried to open my ears to listen for positive and/or divine messages. Interestingly, I heard many of those messages from family, friends, clients, and other people who may or may not have known they were a conduit…giving me exactly what I needed to hear on any given day.

In 2016 my word has been ASK. I’m a recovering independent woman who is learning the value of being interdependent. I have a tendency to ‘just do it myself.’ It’s hard for me to ask for what I need. My word has reminded me to practice asking a lot this year. I’ve learned important lessons not only about asking but also about waiting patiently and receiving.

After spending an entire year with each of my words I find that they become a part of me. The habit of using them to gain perspective and a sense of direction continues long after the year is over. Each word has helped me grow wiser and more self-aware.

As 2017 begins, I’m going through the process to discover a new theme word and I invite you to join me.
You can learn more about the One Word Process in the book One Word to Change Your Life by Gordon, Britton, and Page. Once you’ve received your Word, be sure to share it with others to form a support or stretch team that will help you stay on track throughout the year.

Would you like to be part of my Stretch Team?

If so, I warmly invite you to join the Wholistic Woman ‘Be You’ Evening Retreat on January 25th from 5:30-7:30 pm when we will kickoff the 2017 Evening Retreat Series. During this Launch Party you will learn about the One Word process and hear inspiring stories of it’s impact on other individuals. If you have a Word for 2017 be sure to bring it with you…or bring whatever words you may be considering…or just come and learn more about the process.

During the Launch Party you will learn about the evening retreat line-up for 2017. We hope you will join us for all 9 of these evening retreats to learn, grow personally and professionally and to stay connected with your One Word Stretch Team throughout the year. If you can make it to a lot of the evening retreats we suggest that you become a member to receive discounts on every event. Click here to learn more and become a member.

Most importantly, in this community of women-on-the-grow know that you are accepted for who you are while at the same time provided with tools and strategies to be more fully you! We believe that we are each unique and a wonderful work-in-progress. The Wholistic Coaches and I are honored to support you in becoming your best in this fresh new year full of limitless possibilities.

As Oscar Wilde said,  “Be yourself, everybody else is already taken.”

May this be a great year to Be You!
Warmly, Carol
Today’s author: Carol deLaski, PCC, is an author and strengths-based coach who guides individuals and businesses to be their best. For more information about her coaching services, and her book Lost and Found: Discovering Strength in Love and Faith, visit www.caroldelaski.com or email her at carol@caroldelaski.com.

Managing Your Strengths

Managing Your Strengths

Have you ever heard it said that our greatest strengths can also be our greatest weaknesses?

What does that really mean? Well, to me, it means that we don’t necessarily know how to use our natural talents effectively. Without sufficient boundaries around our talents, we can easily face problematic situations simply because we’re overdoing something. Too much of a good thing can end up being be a bad thing.

In my work as a strengths coach I enjoy helping people identify and manage their natural talents. We begin by learning what the individual’s strengths are and then explore how to effectively use those strengths to consistently produce the desired results at work, and in life overall.

I’ll give you an example from my own life.

My top five strengths (according to Gallup’s Strengths Finder assessment) are Empathy, Strategic, Positivity, Developer, and Woo (which stands for winning others over). Every day I have the opportunity to use these strengths in various combinations to create excellence in my work and life.

I like to imagine five sauce pans on a stovetop (one for each of my strengths). I create just the right mixture every day to generate positive results. Depending on the situation, I may choose to turn down the heat on one strength and move it to the back burner to let it simmer, while dialing up the heat on another strength and move it to the front burner. I choose how much of each strength I am using in any given situation.

When my strengths mixture serves me well my Empathy creates intuitive emotional connections with others; my Strategic thinking helps me problem solve challenges with them; my Positivity brings enthusiasm and energy to our conversations; my Developer sees their full potential and ways to help them grow into more of who they want to be; and my Woo will go to great lengths to make connections with them. When all five of my strengths are operating optimally I could work for hours and still feel energized, motivated, and deeply fulfilled. Time flies when I’m functioning at my best.

My strengths don’t always serve me well, however. In my opinion, each strength has a light and a dark side. When my strengths are operating on the light side they are like a well-oiled machine, firing on all cylinders, and bringing about the successes I desire. When the dark sides of my strengths appear, problems can arise; I usually feel overwhelmed or I see that I am overwhelming others. In those moments, my strengths are simply too much.

What exactly is the dark side of a strength? The answer to this varies dependent upon the individual and the particular strength. I define the dark side as moments when a strength isn’t producing the desired outcome; when the strength becomes unmanageable for you or for the person with whom you are interacting.

For example, here is what I’ve learned about the dark sides of my five strengths. I drift into the shadowy side of Empathy when I get lost in other people’s feelings. I feel confused about the best boundaries between my own emotions and those of someone else.

I experience the dark side of my Strategic thinking when I get ahead of others. At times, I see what’s possible before others do and can be impatient while waiting for them to accept my ideas.

Can there be a dark side to Positivity? Yes, there can. I have learned that if I don’t acknowledge the negative feelings and experiences of others, Positivity can seem false or forced. I need to balance it with genuine understanding of life challenges.

Developer, too, doesn’t appear to have a dark side at first but I have found that it does over time. This strength is having the ability to see the potential in others and to help them grow. I use it when I teach and when I coach clients. The dark side of it occurs when I try to develop someone who isn’t interested or ready to grow and change. That can lead to frustration and pain on both sides.

And what could be the dark side of WOO (winning others over)? For me, it has to do with people pleasing. I need to ask myself what am I willing to do to win someone over? Will I compromise too much – give too much away – in my effort to develop, empathize and woo them? Will I try to please them so much that I lose myself?

This gives you a glimpse into my understanding of the light and dark sides of my five strengths. If you were to ask someone else with these particular strengths about the benefits and challenges of them they might provide different explanations because we are each unique. Our self-awareness is made up of many components in addition to our strengths, including such things as our birth order, family of origin, education, values, life experiences and more.

One of the keys to being your best, though, is to know yourself well and manage your strengths effectively. Life is a wonderful laboratory where we get to experiment every day with new combinations of our strengths. With trial and error, we learn what combinations may work best with certain people or in certain situations. One solution does not fit all. New strengths mixtures will be needed every day. Get creative and see what strengths you can mix today to benefit your colleagues, family and friends. This is a lifelong journey where you can continually manage and refine your abilities to create the success you desire.

You may ask, does all this talk of strengths mean that I have to always be strong?

No, it does not. Being self-aware about your strengths means that you have the opportunity to manage them. You can enjoy validation when interactions are going well and subsequently you have options to work with when things aren’t going well. As mentioned above, one option is to catch yourself as you start to drift into the shadows of your strengths and initiate a course correction.

Knowing the areas of your lesser talents (which many call weaknesses) is important too. It allows you to find complementary partners – people who excel in those areas where you do not – to work and live alongside you. You don’t have to excel at everything. It’s enough to develop your natural talents to excellence and then collaborate with people who also strive to be their best to create complementary and winning partnerships. We are designed to live and work together; not to be alone.

My favorite book says that when we are weak we are strong. When I face my own weaknesses I become motivated to seek assistance from others who have the strength I need. Sometimes that is a person in my personal or professional circles; other times it is a complete stranger; and at other times it’s my faith in God that provides the strength I need. It is freeing to realize that I have a network of support around me. I am an imperfect work-in-progress, trying to be my best on a daily basis, sometimes succeeding and sometimes falling short, but always learning and growing into more of who I am uniquely designed to be. And that’s enough.


Today’s Author: Carol deLaski, executive coach, author, and founder of Wholistic Woman Retreats. If you would like to learn more about learning and managing your strengths, please email her at Carol@caroldelaski.com to schedule a free consultation.

The Law of Attraction

The Law of Attraction

the-power-of-positive-thinking-becoming-a-positive-exampleWhat is the Law of Attraction?

A simple definition is that the law of attraction is the belief that “like attracts like.” It draws on the idea that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts a person brings positive or negative experiences into their life.

Another way to look at it is to recognize that the universe is made up of energy and that energy is designed to match vibrations. With this perspective, if something has appeared in your life then you have somehow invited it by the energy of the thoughts you’ve been sending out. This is a powerful tool which can be used to consciously invite more positive experiences into your life.

4 steps to practice The Law of Attraction:

  • See it and believe it – use creative methods such as visualization, vision boards, affirmations, lists, and meditation techniques to fully envision what you desire. For example, if you want to find a new relationship, first visualize exactly what you want. Use pictures, drawings or written descriptions of your ideal partner to create a very detailed image.
  • Identify the challenges and/or problem areas that hold you back. Look back over your life and try to understand the lessons life has taught you. Then ask yourself, “Okay, now what do I want to with that awareness?” Use your personal and professional history to gain insight about yourself and purposefully choose to learn from those experiences.
To continue with our example, if past relationships didn’t work out or didn’t make you happy, try to identify what you didn’t like about them. What do you want to avoid in a relationship in the future and what do you truly want in your next one? Then focus fully on what you do want in order to bring change into your life.
  • Remove self-talk sabotage – Self-critical thinking is very common and many of us don’t even realize the negative messages that we say within our own minds. A simple strategy to begin changing your self-talk is to replace the word ‘but’ with ‘and.’ The word ‘and’ is inclusive and empowering so be sure to add it to your vocabulary more often. Another great word to add is ‘yet.’ By focusing your thoughts on “it hasn’t happened yet,” you are tapping into confidence that it will happen one day. Continue to visualize and see the positive result…BELIEVE IT WILL HAPPEN! For example, think and say, “I am now drawing my ideal relationship to me which includes __________ (then fill in the blank with the attributes that you desire). Use your vision board or daily affirmations to reinforce your vision and really see the result.
  • Use your support resources to guide you and keep you on track. Remember to be open to the information that comes to you through the people and things that appear in your life. What you attract may not look or feel exactly as you imagined so have an open mind and heart and check out all possibilities.  For example, pay attention to unexpected messages that resonate with you through books or other reading materials, as well as people and/or events that come into your life. The universe may be sending you an invitation to go somewhere which will the opportunity you need to meet new people. You may just find the relationship you’ve been looking for there!

Once you’ve found that new relationship, remember to continue using this practice. With the law of attraction, we know that whatever we focus on…we will experience more of…and that impacts all of our relationships. If we focus on another person’s good qualities, we will experience more of those qualities. Conversely, if we focus on what we dislike about that person then those will be the characteristics that we experience more of. Keep focusing on the positive!

One final reminder: have patience with this process. There are no guarantees as to how long it will take to attract what you desire so don’t lose faith if it doesn’t happen within your time frame. Trust and believe that what you desire will appear exactly when it’s meant to.

The Law of Attraction is a powerful perspective to adopt. We’ve seen it work in our own lives and we encourage you to try it in yours.

Begin by asking yourself, what do I want more of in my life?

Then take time to really envision it in detail. Believe that it will happen, if not now, then someday in the future.

Stay positive and follow any nudges the universe sends your way…even if it’s not what you were expecting.

Then be sure to celebrate when what you’ve wanted arrives in your life.

Believe that you can attract more of what you want in your life.


Today’s authors: Rena Larkin and Carol deLaski are life and leadership coaches who embrace and live by The Law of Attraction. Feel free to contact them to share your experience with this powerful principle. renalarkin@gmail.com / carol@caroldelaski.com

Unexpected Gifts of Mission Trips

Unexpected Gifts of Mission Trips

boatsWhat do you think of when you hear the term ‘mission trip’?

Does it sound inviting…interesting…or does it conjure up unpleasant thoughts and images in your mind?

To be honest, when I first heard the term mission trip years ago, I made a few assumptions.

  • I assumed that mission trips were all work and no fun. I questioned why I would I use my limited vacation time to do physical labor for complete strangers.
  • I assumed that the participants on these trips would be pushy and would force their faith beliefs onto everyone around them.
  • And I assumed that I couldn’t handle seeing that level of poverty firsthand.

My first opportunity to take a mission trip surprisingly came through my son, Ben. As a teenager, he was an active member of a youth group at our church. When he was a freshman in high school he and his church friends jumped at the opportunity to travel together on a Group Work Camp trip to do home repairs in Buffalo, New York. Admittedly, he was more motivated by the idea of traveling, socializing, and hanging out with his friends then by helping others, but that was okay. He grew spiritually and emotionally on that trip and was so excited by the experience that when he returned he said, “Mom, you have to do this next summer…you would LOVE it!”

I couldn’t refuse such an invitation from my son and we did youth mission trips together over the following two summers. Ben was right. I did love it. I learned that my assumptions were wrong. It was deeply enriching to travel and work with high school students and to make a difference in the lives of those in need.

My eyes were opened, and my awareness expanded, as I saw living conditions that I had previously only imagined. My heart developed a deeper level of compassion as I talked with the homeowners we served. I found it easy to connect with many of them, including a single mother who, like me, was trying to create a safe, comfortable, and healthy home for her sons. We shared the same core values of service, love, generosity, gratitude, and faith. Our perspectives and beliefs naturally arose in casual conversations as we worked side by side…cleaning, weeding, painting and eating together. There was no pushiness or insistence to change one another; only openness and a genuine desire to connect our hearts and minds as we used our hands and bodies to improve lives. I found that this connectedness went both ways, and that I often received more than I gave from the experience.

On these trips we worked hard but that wasn’t all we did. After the work was done each day we played. Ultimate Frisbee tournaments, card games, music, and day trips to hike, picnic, and swim in nearby parks offered us relaxation and fun. We took time to explore and enjoy the areas that we served.

At the end of each day, we gathered for devotionals and shared stories and insights we had learned from our experiences. My favorite part of this time was the sharing of ‘God-Moments’; those unexpected moments when we felt God’s presence. Often they came when we felt an inner nudge to do or say something that (unknown to us) was exactly what someone else needed. With hindsight, we traced God’s presence with us each day. These times of accountability helped us support one another in seeing, feeling, and trusting in the daily presence and guidance of the Spirit of God.

The positive experiences with the youth led me to say yes this year to an invitation from my sweetheart, Greg, to join him on a V.I.M. (Volunteers in Mission) trip sponsored by his church. The group of 36 volunteers was comprised of men, women, and youth from four local churches ranging in age from 15-77. Unlike the youth Group Work Camp trips where we traveled by cars/vans, and buses…this trip entailed a flight to San Juan, Puerto Rico. This was a multi-legged journey. We traveled by van, plane, ferry, and yet again more vans, to get to our ultimate destination; the small town of Esperanza on the island of Vieques, PR. Each volunteer brought a second suitcase with items to donate to the local community; tools, clothing, food, athletic equipment, and more. The logistics of moving 36 individuals with 72 suitcases through a five legged journey was a challenge in and of itself!

Understandably, our theme word for the trip (of which our leader Ray often reminded us) was Patience. We had many opportunities to develop patience on the full day journeys there and back again. We also developed it as we lived together for seven days in close dormitory quarters with multiple people to a room, sleeping on bunk beds, and sharing bathrooms. Additionally, we developed patience on our work crews as those with skills taught the amateurs how to use tools and do the work that was necessary.

Before going, I set a few intentions for myself in order to get the most out of this experience.

  • My first intention was to be humble, to look for opportunities to serve, and not hesitate to help in any way that I could. I wanted to be open, conscious, and non-judgmental. With that in mind, I focused on full engagement: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. By bringing my whole self to the trip I knew that I would learn lessons which were uniquely meant for me.
  • Physically, I wanted to do my best…yet I was far from the most skilled laborer on the team. I was willing to serve, though, in whatever way was needed. That meant cleaning our team bathrooms, filling and refilling the crew’s water bottles, as well as swinging a hammer, varnishing boards, and learning how to mix mortar and lay ceramic floor tiles.
  • I also set the intention to do my best mentally and emotionally. I was curious to experience the cultural, language, and lifestyle differences that this opportunity provided. I wanted to be present…to really see each person I met, listen to their stories, accept and learn from them.
  • Spiritually, I set the intention to look for God in nature and to savor the beauty of this Caribbean island. I also wanted to find opportunities to talk about faith with the people I met; my fellow travelers as well as the townspeople and members of the local churches. I wanted to catch the God-moments -trusting that the Spirit would guide my actions and words to create genuine connections with the people with whom I worked and played.

Hector and I (2)One such person was Hector. We worked at his church in the town of Isabel for 4.5 days building an interior wall with 4 acrylic windows on either side of a double door. The purpose of the wall was to keep the air-conditioning inside the sanctuary instead of flowing out the front door. Vieques is a tropical climate; the wall would make the worship space more comfortable and would provide savings on their energy bills. As ten of us worked on the wall, Hector, and/or other church leaders would stop by to see our daily progress, express their gratitude, and encourage us. I enjoyed talking with Hector throughout the week and felt a deep connection with him as we told one another about our lives, work, and faith. He became a special friend and we encouraged one another. There were many God-led moments throughout the week that enriched my experiences with the people we served, those who worked beside me, and residents of Vieques.

Similar to my youth Work Camp experiences, we had time to explore and enjoy the island each day after our work was done. It was delightful to take a cooling swim in the stunningly beautiful Caribbean and wander the coast looking for sea glass and shells that we don’t normally find on our northern continental US Atlantic beaches. There were opportunities to kayak, snorkel, hike the island, and see the glow of the diatoms in the Bio-Luminescence Bay at night under a velvety black sky studded with stars. We enjoyed God’s creation and also boosted the local economy as we ate and shopped in Esperanza. We were especially delighted with the jewelry local crafts people made from the sea glass we collected. As we visited the local businesses we realized that the entire town knew who we were. It’s not possible for a group of 36 people to come to tiny Esperanza without everyone knowing about it! We were surprised time and again at the friendliness, generosity, and gratitude of the community…even those who were not directly involved with our work appreciated our service. The people of Vieques welcomed us and thanked us for helping to improve their community.

I brought home a few treasured sea shells and mementos from my time on Vieques. More importantly, though, I brought home an important reminder from my Island-Time and that is:

When I step out of my comfort zone to help others, I receive much more than I give. By immersing myself in ten days of practicing the values of patience, adaptability, service, generosity, and gratitude, I not only benefitted others but I benefitted myself as well.

I don’t need to go on a mission trip to use these gifts. I can use them right at home in my everyday life. I am, however, very grateful for the powerful reminders that such service experiences provide. I have a renewed commitment to look for opportunities to do good, serve others, and connect to others. I know that with such focus I will continue to grow, be a blessing, and be blessed.

Whether near or far, when the opportunity to help others comes your way, I hope you will give. Then be ready to receive the gifts meant for you which are uniquely found in service!

*If you would like to learn more about setting intentions and achieving the results you desire, join us for the next evening retreat, Be Focused, on August 31st from 5:30-7:30 pm. Click here for details and to register.


Today’s author: Carol deLaski is a leadership coach, speaker, and author who specializes in developing the strengths of individuals and organizations. She is the Founder and CEO of Wholistic Woman Retreats which provides personal and professional development programs for women-on-the-grow. You may learn more about her at www.caroldelaski.com or email her directly at: carol@caroldelaski.com to have her work with you or your group.




Finding Trust in a Zip Line

Finding Trust in a Zip Line

“Are you ready?” the zip line instructor asked.

I found myself strapped in a harness equipped with huge metal cords and carabineers that suspended me from an industrial-sized cable somewhere above my head. My toes danced on the wooden platform below me and butterflies danced in my stomach, as the strong arm of the instructor steadied my swaying body.

I looked out ahead at the zip line course, which sloped down across the lake far below, and then rose up again over the land on the opposite side. Although I mainly felt the thrill of anticipatory excitement, there were some anxious thoughts swirling inside my helmeted head. What if something goes wrong? I asked myself, even though I knew I wasn’t willing to turn back.

As one of the leaders of a women’s weekend retreat, I was the last participant to experience the zip line ride. The rest of the women were now gathered at the other end of the line, ready to receive me. I had just witnessed my 80-year-old mother run the course. While I implicitly trusted the instructor and the equipment, I whispered a heartfelt prayer for Mom as she courageously stepped off the platform and went zipping across the lake. I have to admit that it was not an entirely selfless prayer; I have five siblings and I couldn’t help thinking, Dear God, please keep Mom safe. They will just kill me if anything happens to her! I felt a sense of relief as Mom made it safely to the other end of the line. She was met with cheers as several of the 30 women gathered there caught her in their arms and congratulated her.

My mother is an amazing person, and as she bravely overcame her fears that day, she inspired so many others to live life fully, regardless of their age. Now, it was my turn. With a deep breath I gave a nod to the instructor who then released his hold on me. I moved to the edge of the platform, stepped off into thin air, and began the thrill of the ride.

Feeling the initial free fall, and then the reassuring bounce of the cable as it held my weight, I sped forward on a fast descent toward the lake. The warm wind blew against my face, and the cable emitted a zipping sound above my head. The water seemed to be fast approaching and I prayed that I would not end up in it. What’s the worst that can happen? I thought to myself. I’ll just take a swim. Almost immediately I felt fear leave me.

Racing forward, I heard the cheers of the other women and I knew in that moment that I had found my freedom. At first tentatively, and then with confidence, I let go of my grip on the cord, flung my arms wide open, and embraced the world as I flew through the air. The exhilaration of the ride was matched only by the joy in my heart as I released my hold on fear and embraced a new way of being. Although I had placed my trust in that which was tangible -namely, the zip line equipment – I realized that my real security could be found in my faith.*

  • I had faith that the equipment would function properly, and safely hold me.
  • I had faith in the experience and expertise of the zip line instructor.
  • I had faith in myself that I could step out of my comfort zone, be brave, and handle whatever would come of my decision to step off that platform, even if it meant taking a swim.
  • Last, but not least, I had faith in a Higher Power who watches over me and takes care of me in all circumstances.

I learned about the freedom that comes when we trust ourselves, others, and God. This is a freedom that allows me take risks. A freedom that permits mistakes, as well as the opportunity to learn from my failures. A freedom that releases fear and embraces joy to live fully.

Where are you called to be braver and take a calculated risk?

What helps you to let go of your grip on fear and openly embrace whatever may come?

In the Wholistic Woman community we believe that stepping out of your comfort zone is an important element of being a woman-on-the-grow. Change/growth is usually uncomfortable because we are doing something new and unfamiliar. Accepting that discomfort is normal, and learning to be okay with it, will help us adopt the new perspectives and behaviors needed for lifelong learning.

Each year we offer a physical adventure retreat to experience stepping out of our comfort zones in a kinesthetic way. At this retreat women have the opportunity to…

  • Ride a 600-foot zip line through the forest
  • Climb a huge jungle gym called a static tower
  • Do a “Leap of Faith” jump from the top of a telephone pole

…all while being safely harnessed and instructed by Ropes Course experts; guided by skilled life coaches; and cheered on by other women who are also stepping out of their comfort zones.

Women of all ages, shapes, sizes, and abilities join us to stretch and grow at the level that is right for them. In this supportive atmosphere they are encouraged to try one small step towards being braver…whatever that may be for them.

You’re invited to join us for this very special retreat on June 29th from 3- 8 pm at Upward Enterprises in Adamstown, Md. Afterwards, join us for a celebratory dinner at the Buckeystown Pub to share stories, lessons learned, and ways to apply your newfound courage to other areas of your life.

Click here to learn more about this opportunity to find a more Courageous You!

Space is limited. Register soon to reserve spots for you and your friends!

 *(excerpted from Lost and Found: Discovering Strength in Love and Faith by Carol deLaski)


Today’s author: Carol deLaski is a leadership coach, speaker, and author who specializes in developing the strengths of individuals and organizations. She is the Founder and CEO of Wholistic Woman Retreats which provides personal and professional development programs for women-on-the-grow. You may learn more about her at www.caroldelaski.com or email her directly at: carol@caroldelaski.com to have her work with you or your group.