What to Know About Attending a Virtual Retreat

What to Know About Attending a Virtual Retreat

Life looks a bit different these days, doesn’t it? Our calendars, once full of happy hours and networking events, now list Zoom call meeting reminders. Social groups are turning to virtual meet-ups — from business masterminds, book clubs, and trivia teams… even Wholistic Woman Retreats! 

I’ve been attending Wholistic Woman events in-person for the past 3.5 years, but I hesitated to join in when their events went virtual. I wondered how the meeting would translate online. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised by my first virtual evening retreat experience, and thought I’d share some key things I noticed along the way: 

  1. You won’t feel out of the loop if you’re new – I think I would be especially hesitant to join in on a virtual retreat if I had never attended a Wholistic Woman event in the past. I assumed the call would start with a few “hellos” and then move right into the materials, but instead the coaches took time to introduce themselves. I was happy to note that the coaches’ warm and friendly nature (a big part of why I enjoy their events) came through despite the lack of in-person connection. Then, one coach shared the mission of the Wholistic Coaching Coalition. Though I’m very familiar with the group, starting out the call this way helped ground the evening in purpose. Then, at the end of the meeting, they briefly discussed their next event — Know Your Money Story with coach Jane Helm. I was relieved to know that if I were to invite a friend, she wouldn’t feel out of the loop as they made everyone feel included and in-the-know no matter how many events they’ve attended.
  2. You’ll receive quality teaching and helpful resources – I attended “Radical Love” with coach Kat Middleton, and was curious if listening to one speaker on Zoom would become tedious after a while. While Kat did teach during the majority of our 90-minute call, she used slides to illustrate her message, requested that attendees use the chat tool to answer questions, and lead everyone in a group activity. She also shared several resources that attendees could look more into on their own, should they want to further their knowledge of self-love. If you want to be able to focus and learn during a virtual meeting, I suggest turning on the “active speaker” setting on Zoom. This will allow you to give your full attention to the speaker. You can easily switch to the “gallery” layout during the portion of the meeting that involves the entire group. Do your part to help the other attendees focus, too! Keep yourself muted (unless told otherwise) and turn your camera off if you need to do anything that could potentially distract the rest of the group.
  3. You’ll have the opportunity to connect in small groups – If you’ve attended an in-person event with Wholistic Women, you know it’s typical to be split into groups or asked to turn to someone next to you in order to discuss the materials presented. My most-pressing question going into the virtual call was, “How will we have quality conversation about what we’re learning?”  Thankfully, Zoom has a feature I wasn’t aware of — separate chat rooms! After being given instructions on what to discuss, the call monitor split up the group and suddenly I went from looking at a grid of 28 people to only two other women. We all turned off our microphones and had a vulnerable conversation about the distorted thought processes we often find ourselves in. Then, we offered one another practical suggestions on how to love ourselves through those thoughts. This relatively short activity was incredibly impactful, and truthfully just as valuable as the in-person conversations I’ve had at previous events. 

Needless to say, it was a great event and I’m glad I attended! While I hope it won’t be too long before we can start meeting in-person again, I hope you’ll join us for our next virtual event, Know Your Money Story. Click here to register for this event, happening on June 24. 

6 Packing Tips for Sedona, Arizona

6 Packing Tips for Sedona, Arizona

Are you planning to travel to Sedona, Arizona with us in October? This city in the desert is a must visit for nature and/or art lovers, with its vibrant art culture and stunning red-rock formations. Today we’re sharing packing tips to help you make the most of your trip.

Pack proper skincare and makeup

If you’re traveling from a cooler or more humid climate, the dry heat of Sedona might be a shock to your system. Our best packing tips for your face and body include gentle facial cleansers, hydrating lip balm, and body lotion. Items that will moisturize and protect your skin and lips are a must. Sunscreen is a must!

One of the bonuses to traveling to a place known for its natural beauty is that you can embrace your own natural beauty. If you plan on spending time outdoors (which really is a must in Sedona), opt for a tinted moisturizer with SPF over heavy foundation. Swipe on some bronzer and lip balm, and you’re good to go!

Layers are a must

While you might find yourself sweating in the sun during a day-time hike, evenings in Sedona are comfortably cool. The best time to visit Sedona is in the fall, when temperatures range from the 50’s to high 70’s. 

Layers are always a great addition to your suitcase, because of how versatile they are. You won’t need a heavy winter coat for Sedona — a light sweater or jacket will see you through the crisp nights. And don’t forget a bathing suit if your accommodations have a pool, or if you wish to visit a spa! 

Select sturdy footwear

Sedona is known for having excellent trails, so plan to pack sturdy shoes if your plans include hiking. If you don’t typically hike much, look for a pair of quality walking sneakers that have good grip. Two to three pairs of shoes should be plenty for your trip. Sturdy walking shoes and sandals are a must, but throw in a pair of dressier shoes if you wish. Some brands we love: Merrells, Chacos, Keens, and Tevas. Want more direction? Check out this list of 20 best hiking boots and shoes from Travel + Leisure!

Travel in style

Don’t forget to think about what you’ll wear on the plane! Consider items that are both comfortable and stylish, such as a maxi dress layered with a soft sweater. If your goal is to pack light, plan to wear your travel outfit twice — both to and from Sedona.

A carry-on suitcase should be plenty big enough for a weekend in Sedona, but plan to use a larger suitcase for an extended trip. Stash a foldable travel backpack in the front of your suitcase to use on your hike or to bring purchases home in. 

Don’t forget travel accessories! 

Be sure to pack a camera (or use your cell phone for pictures), charging cords, and a journal. You’ll also want to pack sunglasses, and perhaps a hat if you want extra sun protection. Leave your laptop at home if you can — Sedona is too beautiful of a place to spend your visit distracted by work. A collapsible water bottle is convenient for both your plane ride and exploring the sights.

Need more packing tips? Check out this extensive list of items to remember on your trip to Sedona!

Seeker of Truth

Seeker of Truth

“Just start writing”

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

Let’s see where this goes!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Laura

Declutter Your Life!

Declutter Your Life!

I’ve been on a bit of a personal quest to find ways to increase my energy and focus this year.  I’ve gotten on a better track with exercising and eating healthier foods.  I’ve started taking yoga classes at least once a week. I’ve tried to be more intentional about scheduling some downtime so I could recharge.  And, I’ve been reading some great books like Micro-Resilience, by Bonnie St. John and Allen P. Haines.  And then as a follow-up,  hosted a virtual book club to engage with several of you in a conversation about how the book’s numerous strategies could be put into practice in our everyday life.  All of these strategies combined have really served to elevate my personal energy and focus!

Recently,  I spent the better part of a weekend decluttering my home. And, unexpectedly realized that the decluttering process itself also brought with it a huge focus and energy boost for me.  My home isn’t messy but it seems that when I get busy, my house sometimes looks like it could use a little organization love.  And the change of the seasons always feels like an especially good time to figure out what needs to go and what needs to stay in closets and drawers, etc.  As I got more organized, my focus and energy also increased, making me feel happier overall.  Releasing that clutter, even though it was not an overwhelming amount, really brought such a sense of peacefulness to my life.  I am no longer trying to get something done while also being distracted by a pile of paperwork on the side of a desk, wondering what all is in there!  I bet some of you may be able to relate to that feeling of being distracted by uncompleted projects sabotaging the things you really need to focus on right now.

As I decluttered, I thought about how this process of decluttering can be applied to my whole life, not just my physical surroundings.  Perhaps I could “declutter” my thoughts, my words, my relationships, my schedule – you get the idea!   I like to look at my life as as a design project, the same way an interior designer views a renovation project with a client.  And, just as it’s usually not practical to renovate your entire home at one time, it’s also not reasonable to think we could declutter our whole life overnight.  Here are a few observations I made about decluttering my physical surroundings.  I believe that the same thoughts can be applied to decluttering one’s whole life.

Make sure that you are ready to dive into the process so you can give it the time and energy it needs.

Decluttering takes time, but it always feels worth it to me when I see the end result.

Start decluttering with clear intention.

Before I started decluttering in my home, I walked around from room to room and decided where my focus was needed.   I set clear intentions of what I was going to tackle first, and when, and then gave that my full attention to that, even though other areas were also crying out for some help as well.

Be willing to make some tough choices.

I probably have a few things in my home, whether it’s clothing or something else, that probably does not really serve me well any longer. And, yet, year after year, I continue to hold onto it.  Sometimes keeping it is just a habit.  Many of those things, I decided to donate,  so someone else could benefit from them more.

Celebrate the small successes rather than focus on all that still needs to be done.

I told myself I was going to celebrate each small step of progress in each room, rather than allow myself to get distracted or frustrated by the work that still needed to be done.

Put some new practices in place to support the newly organized space.

Once I felt satisfied with the decluttering process, I decided I needed to revise some of my day-to-day habits to ensure that I could keep those areas decluttered with minimal upkeep.

If you are also in the fall clean out mode, perhaps you may want to give some thought to whether there could be areas of your life, other than your physical surroundings, that could benefit from some decluttering.   Here’s to more focus, energy, and the true sense of calm that comes from the process!

Today’s blog was written by WWR Partner Coach, Donna Kettell.  Donna is a certified professional coach (CPC) and a master practitioner in energy leadership (ELI-MP). Her certifications were earned through The Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC), which is accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF).

Be Nourished: A Girl’s Guide to Living the Nourished Life

Be Nourished: A Girl’s Guide to Living the Nourished Life

As the kiddos are getting ready to head back to school and summer is coming to a close, I am hearing the words “diet, self-care and balance” from many women.  These words came up often this week during my attendance at several women’s networking events for the Frederick County Chamber “She Week.” As women discussed their desire for balance, taking care of themselves while being mothers and entrepreneurs and living fearlessly through uncertainty, it made me think.  I wondered; how many women are striving for balance and how many are frustrated with trying to achieve it? 

As women, we tend to do everything for everybody.  We pour into our families, careers, community, relationships and other areas of life.  All while often times placing ourselves on the back burner. This ends up leaving us frustrated, depleted, exhausted, sometimes resentful and overwhelmed.  Ladies, can you relate?

So many people think, “I’ll focus on getting my finances in order when I grow myself personally.  When I lose weight or feel confident, I will work on building a relationship.” Well, it’s time we said goodbye to the “I’ll be happy when..” mindset.  It’s time to live the Nourished Life.

That’s not to say that we won’t do parts of life messy and imperfect.  Honestly, I don’t even think that exists. There is no “perfect time, moment or scenario.”  It’s important to take action towards the goals we want to achieve, the dreams we want to fulfill and the desires that we feel burning inside of us.  We want to have a healthy and fulfilling life aligned with nourishing food, movement, relationships, finances, passions, and joys. 

It was through my own struggles and journey that I learned how to live the nourished life for my own bio-individuality.  Something I educate and share with other women whom I work with. When I began to implement what I learned through nutrition school and life, I felt empowered.  I discovered the foods that supported my own unique body and lifestyle. Foods that reduced inflammation and pain, increased my energy, impacted my mood and emotions.  Ladies, you can even increase your sex drive! Not sleeping well? That was me too! Now I sleep well and wake rested and refreshed.

Creating and implementing healthy habits that are designed for your unique, beautiful body not only help increase health and happiness, but it’s also an act of self-care.  I understand that self-care comes in many forms and one may work for you but not for your girlfriends. Maybe you don’t like Epson salt baths or find the gym to be “not your thing.”  Maybe you prefer grabbing a glass of wine with a friend or taking a walk after dinner with your spouse. Whatever you enjoy that fills your cup. Do it and then do it more.

Through my coaching programs and working one on one with clients, I emphasize several areas that support one another in life.  These areas are fuel for life (nourishing foods), movement for life (whatever movement you enjoy), surrounded for life (relationships), fulfilled for life (passion, purpose, spirituality, and joy) and loved for life (self-care and love).  Using a holistic approach, I educate others about how these areas of the “wellness wheel” are connected with one another.

Let’s think about it… 

How many times have you felt lonely, bored, stressed about your job or frustrated with your spouse and you grabbed the ice cream container or cookie jar?  Often our emotions and things that are going on in our world resort to the actions we take (especially with food and other means). I’ve been there and I am sure many of you can relate too! 

Being mindful of how we are feeling and what we are thinking makes a huge difference in how we respond to things.  Not to mention, our gut health is connected to our brain. So, if we are damaging our gut and microbiome, it’s impacting our thoughts, feelings, and actions.  This is another big reason to discover what foods support your own unique body.

As the season changes and summer moves into fall, I encourage you to slow down.  Observe the above areas in your life and how they are connected. Where can you make some changes?  Where are you not feeling fulfilled and nourished?  

Just as the leaves fall from the trees, fall is a season of releasing things that are no longer serving us.  Whether they be habits we need to change, toxicity, unhealthy relationships, fears and doubts, emotional baggage from the past.  Fall is a great time to detox…mind, body, and spirit.

I encourage you to include more self-care to support your body and mind as you naturally move through this beautiful process.  Experiment with things that bring you joy. Get out and try something new. Maybe try a new yoga or cooking class, volunteer, grab some friends and enjoy a picnic at a local winery.  Hold yourself accountable by penciling in your “self-care date” into your cute planner like you would a meeting.  

Consider the areas I shared and see how you can interconnect them.  Discover ways to fill the different areas of your own wellness wheel that work for you and your lifestyle.

Ladies, I say this to all of my clients.  Think about the oxygen mask on an airplane.  Who has to put theirs on first so that you can show up greater to give back and help others?  That’s right..it’s you! So, please take your cute little teapot off of the back burner and start creating or fulfilling your nourished life.  This isn’t a trendy new diet or phase. It’s a lifestyle and one you have to stay committed to.

 

The Urgency of An Emergency

The Urgency of An Emergency

Start Boosting Your Savings Now!

We’ve all heard the saying. “a penny saved is a penny earned,” but why aren’t we able to save more? The reasons (or excuses) can be varied-some of us are overextended, meaning we are paying out more than we are taking in; for others, it may be a bad case of FOMO (fear of missing out) and for others, it may not seem important.

According to a recent Vanguard study, a majority of Americans have less than $5,000 in their emergency fund. My recent experience with an unforeseen injury proved to me that we all need to bump up our own savings rate. My injury has cost me dearly, both physically, emotionally and FISCALLY! When totaling up the money that I have spent on deductibles and co-pays, I can share that I have spent over three times the five-thousand-dollar figure! One injury, one unforeseen emergency can easily derail a savings fund!

Here are some tips to boost your savings account that center around your everyday habits:

  1. Set a savings goal. How much do you need to cover an unforeseen emergency? A suggested initial amount is the total of three months of all of your fixed expenses. These expenses include the “must haves:” your rent or mortgage, auto loans, utilities, food, and your current financial obligations. Keep your emergency savings in a separate savings account so you can track your progress and earmark it for emergency use only
  2. Bring your lunch to work instead of eating out: The cost to make your lunch is approximately $2.00 vs. the $7.00 for the average lunch eating out. The saving s of $5.00 every weekday is $25.00 a week or $100.00 a month!
  3. Brew your own cup of coffee to go rather than buying t on the way to work. If you spend a minimal amount of $2.00 each workday on your cup of joe, you are out $10.00. By incorporating this new habit, you can put away $40.00 a month!
  4. Take time to evaluate your cell phone plan: are you paying for data that you’re not using? It makes sense to review your minutes and data and lower the plan limits if possible.
  5. If you are trying to pay off credit card debt, incorporate a strategy and stick to it! There are several strategies that can help you pay off your debt: The “Ladder Strategy”, the “Snowball Strategy”, and the “Emotional Trigger Strategy.” Decide which strategy best suits your needs and plan to incorporate this into your monthly budget.
  6. Review your cable bill! How much are you paying to watch TV? Consider a lower cost streaming service to save hundreds over a year!
  7. Go back and review your spending on eating out. How much have you spent in the past month eating out because you were too tired, overwhelmed or just didn’t feel like cooking dinner? Try cutting this amount in half!
  8. Our spending on food also includes grocery shopping. This is a part of the budget that can always use some tweaking! I suggest creating a meal plan before you go to the grocery store: plot out five meals at a time. Then, write down all of the ingredients you will need for those meals. This will eliminate multiple trips to the store, where you may find yourself buying more than you anticipated. To maximize this step, make a map of your grocery store and then make your list accordingly. No more wandering down aisles that you don’t need to visit-this will save you time and money!
  9. How many emails are you getting daily from retailers? You probably signed up for an initial discount offer and now your inbox is full of daily special sales! Each one of these is designed to tempt you to part with your money-simply unsubscribe!
  10. Marie Kondo (“The Art of Tidying Up”) has started a movement of purging our homes! Look around your home-what are you not using? Consider selling items to raise some extra cash!
  11. Here is one of my favorite tips: SAVE YOUR CHANGE! I have been doing this for years! The little amounts you are putting away can definitely add up! Every year, my vacation spending money has been funded by this habit! 

These tips can be easily incorporated into your daily life and will allow you to begin the habit of saving more for your emergency fund. Knowing that you can cover unexpected expenses is a foundational step in building financial confidence!

Today’s Author: Jane Helm is the Principal of Money Mentor Group. As a wealth coach, Jane combines decades of financial services experience with a degree in social work and psychology to bring positive financial change to her client’s lives. She is a Partner Coach with the Wholistic Coaching Coalition and co-founded the Build Your Own Business networking group. Jane can be reached via email at jane@moneymentorgroup.com