This has been an amazing Wholistic Woman Retreat journey. It is true that it’s about the journey, and not the destination, or else we would have arrived in Sedona, AZ 10 years ago. We really needed the last decade to learn and grow our own programs, develop our community, and create a safe environment for women – and in the case of 2020, a safe way to travel with each other. For me, it’s easier to work backward starting with now – the present, and then retrieve the last 10 years of growth.
My life and business have been immersed in travel, and I am like “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” coach if you have ever seen that movie. Naturally, I have been focused on a WWR destination retreat experience because of my love for travel. Sedona was the soulful place to make that dream retreat a reality – just as WWR was a dream for our founder Carol. Twenty women in 2020 joined us in red rock country – my most favorite place. It was fun to have the founding coaches be my “wing women” for retreat take-off and other special WWR team members, including one of our past co-founders, coach Jeanette. Together, we arrived and it exceeded my expectations…Sedona sisters for life.
When we started Wholistic Woman Retreats over 10 years ago the vision was to offer women retreats for one to two days and now we have experienced a three to four-day retreat! We also offered monthly in-person meet ups that turned virtual in 2020. Our group of founding coaches were go-getters putting on two retreats the first year – a one day and a two day! Oh my! We were just getting started. Wow, we thought we can do this with our team strengths that make us “whole” – which became our motto – Be Whole…in heart, mind, body, and spirit. We formed a like-minded Wholistic coach approach, like in “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”, the one pair of jeans fit the four best friends of different sizes and personalities, sharing them equally to lead them in heart and spirit and to feel braver. Our organization leads that way…loving your sisters and loving yourself.
Connection and community…
We learned over the decade that our women love retreats and wanted to retreat more often. Somewhere in the middle of our time as an organization we took monthly Build Your Own Business (BYOB) Success workshops from my business model and morphed them into our WWR community. The different venue locations, coaches, and creative topics opened the door from 10 to 20, to 30, to 40 and sometimes 50 women, month to month. The connections grew stronger over the years. This is one way we created a safe space in our community and developed the motto that we follow to this day…come as you are when you can.
Coaching Circle and Growth…
During this time we expanded our coaching community bringing on partner coaches. This is my favorite part of our growth as an organization. We are so much more and stronger together. We built internal and external coaching opportunities – supporting and meeting each other where we are and developing our coaching circle. We work as a team to strengthen our retreats, membership, alliances, sponsorship programs, and most importantly ourselves. We are women- on- the- grow becoming our best selves. Carol, our founder, became an author writing her first book Lost and Found; Laura, a co-founder, faced her fears with public speaking and jumped out of a plane – wait can we pause and say that again, Laura jumped out of a plane! For myself, I recognize my 15-year company milestone that includes joint ventures in airports with Minute Suites, the Travelers Retreat, and my Wholebeing Institute Certification in Positive Psychology. Our founding and partner coaches have all grown so much personally and professionally.
Celebration of sisterhood…wherever you are
We celebrate hundreds of women from our day retreats, overnight retreats, monthly events, international women’s day events, women’s conferences and organizations, and our Soulful Sedona destination retreat. This has been the time of my life. That’s when you know it is right – and feel a calling to go on. We now have businesses that believe in our organization and offer scholarship funds to assist our women-on-the-grow.
Gratitude, growth, connection, and celebration are words to wrap-up this year and this decade. Meaningful words that will be our foundation for what’s ahead. One of our founding sisters is now branching out on a new journey and one thing I know, like the “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”, is that we will be together even when we are apart. Thank you Laura for being on this 10-year journey. Thank you Carol for the invitation to be a part of something so much bigger than me. Thank you to all the WWR founders, partner coaches, community and members, sponsors, and alliance partners. Whether you have traveled one mile or hundreds of miles with Wholistic Woman Retreats, I look forward to being on this journey wherever you are… and celebrating sisterhood.
Off we go!
If you’ve been in the workforce for a while, then I’m sure you have wondered from time to time about whether this is it. All our lives we are made to believe that the definition of success is a big house with a white picket fence, 2.5 kids, an SUV in the garage, and of course a stable job to pay for it all. If you are sensible, you don’t spend all your money and put some aside for retirement.
But retirement is far away. What about the here and now? I’m not saying that you shouldn’t save for later on, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of missing out on the moment. Live a little on the way.
Having a lot of stuff is what the consumption industry wants us to strive for, and many of us do what is expected. Until one day you get a wake-up call like being laid-off, or a big move to another country, or you just have that nagging feeling that you “have it all” but something is missing – except you don’t know what that something is.
I was lucky in that I knew what that was. I always wanted to paint and it changed my life in many ways when I finally embarked on that journey. In 2000, we had moved from Düsseldorf to Maryland. My son and daughter started high school that year, my husband worked and traveled a lot, and I was home. Alone. No job, no friends. It was culture shock. The American way of life was foreign to me. My in-laws lived just outside New York, where my husband was born, so we had been on vacation here many times, but as my daughter once said: “Mom, it’s a nice country to visit, but not to live.”
Wow! She was born in Hamburg and had been enrolled in German schools. It took her quite a few years to adjust. And it took me five years to finally make a few friends. That was a first. I had moved many times, from country to country, to different cities with different languages and jobs. Every time I lived in a new place, I gathered a group around me, but not here.
In 2005, I finally gave in to my passion. I signed up for a painting class and that changed everything. It felt like coming home, and soon I started to make friends. A whole new world opened up. It was a little scary to walk into that first class. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t even know how to paint. I also knew that I had lots to learn, that I would fail many times, but I could do it if I worked hard. And I did. I ended up with stacks and stacks of some pretty ugly paintings, but I was not discouraged or embarrassed. On the contrary, with every brushstroke I got better, and I loved the process. Slowly I was making some pretty decent paintings and even won awards.
This was not the end of the journey. There was still something missing. But this time around, it was not apparent what I needed. The only thing I knew was that I wanted to combine painting with coaching. I became a coach because I was missing a tribe, like I had in all those other places where I had lived, and I wanted to help others to experience what it feels like to come home. What it feels like when you are doing what you were meant to be doing all along.
Find your passion.
If you don’t have a clue what you are passionate about, ask your friends. During my training as a coach, all my coaching friends told me that every time I talked about my painting, I lit up. I had never noticed that, but there it was. When people talk about their passion, and they do so often, they lighten up. Their eyes are on fire, eyebrows are pulled upwards, the whole body is energized, hands and arms start moving.
Pay attention to your own body when you talk about something you feel strongly about.
Body language is an amazing thing. Try sitting slumped over and talk about a passion of yours. I guarantee you that you cannot do it. Not in that position.
In 2011, I founded Quality Within. I chose that name because I am a firm believer that we all have beauty and a unique quality within us. The challenge is to find it. It is something that comes naturally. Something that is so easy for you that you think anybody can do it. But just because it comes easily to you doesn’t mean that it is the same for everybody else. I’m not saying that painting came easily to me. I had to work on it. But I had a drive from within. I didn’t have to push myself, I was pulled toward it. What does come easily to me is combining color and reading people, and reading intuitive paintings.
If you have no idea what your quality within looks like, start by getting organized. Make space and clear your mind and clutter in your home. Finish projects that you have been putting aside.
Once you have cleared your mind, start making a list with all the things you would like to do even if you think it’s impossible. Take your time with it. Then pick one theme that jumps out at you and start pondering, collect information, find out what you need to learn, talk to as many people as you can, and listen to their feedback. Pay attention to your own body, your gut, your energy. Trust your intuition. In my case, thirteen years ago I had no friends, no job. I couldn’t even paint. But paint is my favorite medium. I love working with groups. No matter how tired I am starting a workshop, I always go home fully energized. People ask me all the time: “And what are you going to do when you retire?” I think you know the answer.
Tap into your quality within and show it to the world. A precious gift you can give yourself is helping others with what comes so easily to you.
Last but not least: Don’t give up your day job right away, but learn to deal with your inner critic who might say that it’s too late to change. Believe me, it never is.
Today’s author: Elisabeth Vismans is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC), an Award-Winning Artist, and founder of Quality Within, helping women in transition to find their life purpose. She developed a unique coaching program using the visual language as an extra modality. She is also an Art Instructor and conducts painting and coaching workshops. Learn more about Elisabeth at her website: www.qualitywithin.com, or from her Facebook page.
“Some people arrive and make such a beautiful impact on your life, you can barely remember what life was like without them.” – Anna Taylor
What does friendship mean to you? When you think of connection, what comes to mind first?
We all have a yearning, on some level, to connect with others. We endeavor to build friendships and create our own circles of people we know, like, and trust. Creating these communities not only staves off loneliness and sadness, but exposes us to new ideas, builds a support network, and allows us to fulfill an inner drive to bond with others in varying degrees.
Who’s in your circle? Who supports you, and who do you connect with or support?
Take a moment and think about your own friendship circles. You likely have one group of friends with whom you are extremely close, followed by a second circle of good friends but not friends who are like family, followed by acquaintances, followed by business connections… the list could go on and on. When you pause to examine your connections, you probably have more acquaintances and casual connections than good friends or best friends, but you have more people in your network than you might initially think.
Some of my most valuable connections have been with the amazing women I’ve met over the years. My two closest friends are incredible. I’ve known both of them now for more than a decade, and over that time, our friendships have evolved to allow for us to grow individually. Michelle was my college roommate and at first, I wasn’t sure she and I would work out very well – she was loud and blunt, whereas I was quiet and shy. Yet somehow, we each rubbed off on the other, so I tempered her while some of her forthrightness seeped over to me. We grew together and changed each other for the better.
Casey and I are also very much the introvert/extrovert pair. We met in college, but despite our personality differences, we hit it off right away. I was still coming out of my shy shell at the time, whereas she was outgoing and social. She and I have seen each other through the worst life can throw at us, and we’ve come through the fire to the other side. We didn’t so much change each other over the years as we have supported and stood by each other.
I know I am not the same person I was a decade ago, but neither are these two friends – yet my friendships with them are stronger than ever, even accounting for three states being in the way with one of them.
Women supporting women goes beyond personal friendships as well. While writing this blog, I realized that all my mentors in business are women, which is more of a happy accident than an intentional occurrence. I certainly would not be where I am without their guidance and support, and over the last few years, these connections have blossomed from solely business relationships and more into the realm of friendships. I know I can go to these women when I have a problem to ask for advice, and we share our failures and successes with each other.
A strong community of women supporting women is one which inspires, supports, and transforms. Over the last weekend when I attended the Be Creative retreat, I realized my personal community had expanded again. Women who I had just met that day were welcoming and kind, and as a group we cheered successes, embraced our faults, and assisted through mistakes.
Today’s blog is written by one of our alliance partners, Kira Tregoning. Kira is the owner and founder of Maia Media Management, a local marketing business. She offers social media management, consultations, and trainings, as well as video services, proofreading, editing, and manuscript critique services. Kira is also a published author with two fantasy novels available on Amazon and more on the way. Learn more about her at www.maiasocial.com
I’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 www.wholisticwomanretreats.com 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 Carol@caroldelaski.com.
5 Reasons Why It’s Important
If I were to ask you what your strengths are, what would you say?
Would the question challenge you to speak honestly about your good qualities…make you feel uncomfortable…or both? Or would you wonder, what’s the point, and dismiss the question as irrelevant?
If you find it difficult to ‘toot your own horn’ and say aloud what makes you special… you are not alone. In fact, many of us don’t know what our strengths are in the first place, much less how to talk about them in a confident and non-egotistical manner.
In my work as a personal and professional development coach I hear many responses to this question about strengths awareness. I have identified five reasons as to why it is important that we know our own strengths – those inner qualities that make us unique.
Strengths awareness helps you to:
- Know and accept yourself – Some of us don’t recognize that our unique qualities (even our idiosyncrasies) can be our strengths. We take these characteristics for granted and minimize them with statements such as Oh, that’s just me being me or I’ve always been that way. We often dismiss our strengths and perhaps actively hide them. We may have been told, at some point in our lives, that our way of being is not acceptable or good enough. Perhaps having a natural tendency to be sensitive, social, or competitive has been minimized or criticized by the influential people in our lives…so we have learned to hide these characteristics. When you accept and develop your ‘different-ness’ it can become an asset that moves a specific team or organization towards their goals. Your contribution is unique….and is valuable for exactly that reason. Strengths awareness helps you to recognize and embrace who you are at your core.
- Stay motivated and energized – Have you ever noticed that when you’re doing what you love that time seems to fly by? Hours pass in what feels like minutes because you are pursuing your passion. You’re doing what comes naturally to you and when you’ve completed the task, you realize that even though you may be physically tired you are full of an inner energy, enthusiasm, and sense of accomplishment. The reason for this phenomenon is that by using your strengths you are fed on a deep level. You are in alignment with your purpose when you use your unique gifts and talents. In contrast, when we try to force ourselves to do what does not come naturally we tend to be sluggish. This low energy causes us to procrastinate and delay engaging in those activities. This doesn’t excuse us from doing tasks that aren’t in our strengths spectrum. In those instances, however, we can recognize why we are de-motivated and re-frame the task by using our strengths or partner with someone who has a passion for that task. Strengths help us to create more motivation and energy.
- Release the need to be good at everything – Our educational and employment systems encourage (and sometimes insist) that we are well-rounded and good at many things. The truth is that we can’t be good at everything, but we can excel at certain things. When we focus on what we naturally do well and develop those talents and skills further, we release the pressure to excel in all areas. When we stop comparing ourselves to others and release the need to be like someone else, it frees us to develop our unique abilities. Authors Rath and Conchie, in their book Strengths-based Leadership, state “If you spend your life trying to be good at everything, you will never be great at anything. While our society encourages us to be well-rounded, this approach inadvertently breeds mediocrity.” I believe that when you step into your strengths you step into your greatness.
- Recognize your partners – When you accept that you don’t have to be good at everything and commit to developing your natural abilities, the areas where you don’t excel become apparent. An honest look at strengths means an honest look at the gaps, or weaknesses, as well. Recognizing the gaps in our abilities may be uncomfortable, but it is necessary to develop successful partnerships. Individuals may not be well-rounded but the most successful teams are. Knowing your strengths helps you become clear about the characteristics that are needed to balance you in order to produce the best results at work and at home. For example, technology is a necessity for my business and day-to-day living, but it is not one of my strengths. I rely on others with IT skills and a passion to help people like me in order to use technology effectively. Knowing your strengths helps you to identify your gaps and the complementary partnerships that are necessary for your success.
- Manage your strengths for better results – It is one thing to be able to name our strengths and quite another thing to know how to use them consciously to bring about desirable results. Self-management is about learning how to modulate your strengths so that they are serving you effectively. Like turning the heat up or down on the stove, we can dial our strengths up or back when necessary to get the results we need. Without strengths awareness we may neglect to establish appropriate boundaries leading us into challenging situations where we override others with too much of a good thing. For example, someone with the strength of Responsibility will quite naturally take on tasks to help move a project towards completion. This is a great quality, however, without healthy boundaries this strength can lead to several danger zones. The responsible person may, in time, feel overly burdened leading to burn-out and/or feelings of martyrdom. Additionally, co-dependency can develop as s/he does tasks that someone else needs to be doing for themselves. Each and every strength has a positive and negative side; a way in which it serves us and a way in which it does not serve us. It’s important to know what our strengths look like when they go outside of healthy boundaries and how to restore balance when that happens. As we become more aware of our strengths the ability to effectively manage them increases significantly.
With these 5 reasons in mind I encourage you to know your strengths and use them wisely.
To quote one of my favorite books, ‘You are fearfully and wonderfully made’ ….in other words, you are Awesome! Embrace more fully who you are so that you can become all that you want to be. I wish you well on the journey to being your best!
Today’s author: Carol deLaski, PCC, is an author, speaker, and coach who specializes in strengths development for businesses and individuals. Feel free to email Carol with your comments or questions about strengths development (firstname.lastname@example.org) or attend an upcoming retreat to learn more about the Strengths approach to being your best self. You can hear Carol speak at Be Strong, an evening retreat, Confident Communication, a business luncheon program, and Be Brave a two day retreat. Details at www.caroldelaski.com.
What can be the impact of using one theme word for an entire year?
Now that I’ve used, One Word to Change Your Life, with clients, family, and friends for most of 2013, I’ve heard a variety of stories that answer just that question.
For those of you unfamiliar with this approach, the purpose of One Word is to create greater focus as we work, make decisions, and live fulfilling lives.
Different from resolutions or goal setting, One Word is simple, easy to remember, and yet powerful when applied regularly. Using a theme word as a lens throughout the year helps you gain new perspectives and empower you to live a more meaningful life based on your values.
A key component to the One Word process is that you receive it rather than choose it. Listening with your heart, and quieting your mind, your word will come to you from the universe, God, or whatever you call the spiritual energy which exists beyond you.
How do you know when you have your word? Trust your inner knowing and be open to confirmation coming from unexpected sources such as a song on the radio, a flyer in the mail, a street sign, or billboard.
One woman received the word Breathe and wrote to me, “I prayed for a sign that I had the right word and a few days later I was listening to a new radio station when I heard a song that I liked. When I checked to see who it was, the band’s name was ‘Need to Breathe’. I said to myself, Wow, and was thankful for the sign.”
Another wrote that she thought her word was Shepherd yet she doubted it. “I was like, ‘really?’ and so I prayed again, “Give me just one more sign so that I know for sure. While waiting at a stop light on my way to an appointment, I noticed that the lamp posts nearby looked like shepherd hooks. Right at that same moment, the radio station that I listen to played a song about Moses and I knew it was my word. What a sense of humor God has!”
Not all words are faith-based. Other words shared with me this year are:
Observe – this woman used it to notice her husband, children, and friends more to see what they needed, how she could help them, and to simply increase her awareness of what was going on around her.
Surrender – this man used his word to recognize when to delegate and share responsibilities with others. The word is helping him release the driving need to do it all himself and provides a new balanced perspective about teamwork.
Discipline – this woman used her word to focus on her health and children as well as her personal and professional life. It was the antidote for the chaotic feelings that busyness often brought to her life.
Important – this word reminded a young woman to regularly ask herself what’s important. “It helps me to make better, solid decisions.” She feels good about the path she is on as a result of often asking herself, “Is this important?”
I’ve seen a great variety of words used such as: Light, Ask, Journey, Plans, Open, Acceptance, Change, and more. The words Courage and Trust are frequent choices. Each word has helped the individual stretch and grow with a special purpose and meaning that none of us could anticipate when we started. That’s been part of the surprise…. and the impact of this tool.
For myself, I am transitioning away from my word for 2013, Believe, and preparing to receive a new word for 2014. I’ve struggled with my word, at times this year, whenever it uncomfortably spotlighted areas of my unbelief. Yet I have grown fond of it nonetheless and feel a bit reticent to release it.
In a conversation at a dinner party recently I realized that the word is a part of me now and will continue to guide me. This surprisingly deep discussion with a new acquaintance was about spirituality. He shared with me that he’s not religious and doesn’t know what he believes spiritually. As I asked him a series of thought-provoking questions he gained the awareness that his belief in something bigger than himself typically occurs in three situations:
- when he’s in nature and witnesses great beauty
- when synchronistic events occur and he knows that it happened for a reason
- and the last one was a bit humorous…when taking a test! Almost without thinking he praised the Lord when he recently received a good grade on a professional competency test. As he told me about it I was reminded of the old adage that there are no atheists in foxholes (or in classrooms). We both laughed as he found these insights into his own beliefs in this brief exchange.
As for me, I’m glad to know that the word Believe is an integral part of me now and will always be a lens through which I experience life and encourage others. I’m especially looking forward to see its ongoing impact as I publish my book Lost and Found in 2014. I’m curious to see the ripples that it will send out into the world and believe that it will be good. With confidence I can now look forward to a new year, a new word, and new growth.
What word are you receiving for 2014?
Today’s author: Carol deLaski is a certified coach and author who will be presenting a workshop “Create Focus and Success with One Word” on January 23rd. If you are curious to learn more about this powerful tool and how to use it with teams, organizations, or individually go to www.caroldelaski.com for details and to pre-register. This workshop is sponsored by Frederick County Society for HR Management and is open to the public.