November 23, 2019 all-day

The Examined Life Project: Defining Your Vocation and Life Purpose, Healing from the Internalized ‘Inner Critic’
a Courage & Renewal® Retreat at Cranaleith Spiritual Center, Philadelphia, PA
November 23, 2019

The unexamined life is not worth living.
~ Socrates

Are you facing retirement and wondering what’s next?
Are traditional career paths or ways of working not working for you?
Are you feeling called to be of service, to ‘give back’ to others but not sure how or what?
Are you facing shifts in relationships and want support?

About The Examined Life Project

Life transitions offer a bridge to explore who you are most authentically, your identity, your life passion, purpose, and meaning. These transitions come in many ways: retirement, career change, job loss, a promotion, relationship change, a birth, death, and more.

The Examined Life Project is a unique program, consisting of private leadership coaching combined with peer group support, and a day-long retreat, designed to support you in the ‘inner work’ of life transitions and to help you create a life that aligns with your deepest values and to promote healing, peace, love, and justice in the world.

Based on the work of Parker J. Palmer and the Center for Courage & Renewal®, this retreat explores issues of transition, vocation, life passion, purpose, meaning, direction, aging, relationships, and underlying life patterns, to live in alignment with your deepest values and the courage to act with integrity and authenticity. In a safe, quiet, nurturing, and confidential environment, this retreat promotes reflection, clarity and insight. Guided by core principles and practices, which include the belief that everyone has an inner teacher, an inner source of truth, you will engage in contemplative practices to support personal and societal transformation.

What You Will Learn:

Discover the “inner teacher’ within you through reflection using the Courage & Renewal® Approach

Explore where your life may be ‘off course’ and how you might create new paradigms for your life and work

Understand your personal ‘roadblocks’ to creating the life and work you want to what to do about it

Explore personal healing and transformation toward greater societal transformation

Design your unique roadmap of healing and ‘wholeness’

Engage mindfulness and somatic practices to support healing and ‘wholeness’

What’s Included:

Pre-retreat Comprehensive Well-Being Assessment

Two 60-minute private leadership coaching sessions pre- and post-retreat

Day-long retreat at Cranaleith Spiritual Center, including gourmet breakfast, lunch, healthy snacks, and drinks

Community, peer support

Small and large group dialogue and reflection

Extensive materials

Retreat facilitation

What’s not included:

Transportation to and from the retreat center

Sample Retreat Schedule

8:30-9:00am Registration & Gourmet Breakfast
9:00-noon Focus: Reclaiming True Self: Opening: Welcome/Overview/Community Guideline Review: Touchstones Review/Courage & Renewal Approach/Introduction
Noon-1:00 pm Gourmet Lunch & Respite
2:00-4:30pm Focus: Closing: Designing Your Life: Next Steps & Gratitude


$995.00 per person. Payment in full is required to secure your place in the retreat. See our Cancellation Policy for details. Minimum persons: 8; Maximum persons: 15.

How to Register:

There are two easy steps to register for this retreat: (1) Complete the Confidential Registration Form and return it to valeriebrown95@gmail.com and (2) Make payment by check or by Pay Pal, following the payment options listed in the registration form. It’s that simple!

View the Retreat Flyer

Retreat Venue

Cranaleith Spiritual Retreat Center is an oasis of natural beauty, a ‘Sanctuary of Trees’, a hidden gem located just outside Center City, Philadelphia, easily accessible by mass transit. It is a place to ‘get-away-from-it-all’, to savor respite, reinvigorate your values, what matters most deeply, refocus, restore, and refresh your body and spirit. Operated by the Sisters of Mercy, Cranaleith is committed to stewardship of a safe and sheltering place accessible to all, and “especially to persons who are poor and those who work in solidarity with them.” Focused on promoting health and well being, Cranaleith serves nutritionally balanced meals with a sense of joy and good taste. Most foods are made in-house with local and organic produce or sourced from Cranaleith’s garden. Meals are varied, including vegetarian options from organic grains, beans, cheeses, and fresh eggs from their chicken coop. Gluten free options are also available upon request.

Cancellation Policy

All cancellations must be made in writing. No refunds will be issued due to late arrival, early departure, or any unused portion of the retreat. The Assumption of Risk / Liability Waiver form must be signed and completed upon registration. Cancellations received 90 days or less prior to retreat start date, no refund is permitted. Cancellations prior to this will receive a refund of 50% of the cost of the retreat. Lead Smart Coaching, LLC reserves the right to change, modify, or cancel the retreat prior to the start for any reason, including lack of participants or acts of nature and/or circumstances beyond our control. In this case, any payments received will be refunded in full, and this will constitute full settlement. Lead Smart Coaching, LLC is not responsible for any additional expenses due to a cancelled retreat, such as the purchase of non-refundable airline tickets. Lead Smart Coaching, LLC reserves the right to accept, refuse, or decline any participation at any time for any reason of any person. In such a case, Lead Smart Coaching, LLC liability is limited to the actual cost of the unused services.

About Your Retreat Leader

Valerie Brown, JD, MA, PCC    www.leadsmartcoaching.com
Valerie transformed her high-pressure, twenty-year career as a lawyer lobbyist, representing educational institutions and nonprofits, to human-scale work with leaders and teams to foster trustworthy, compassionate, and authentic connections. She is an accredited leadership coach, international retreat leader, writer, and Chief Mindfulness Officer of Lead Smart Coaching, LLC, specializing in application and integration of mindfulness and leadership, and is a Co-Director of Georgetown’s Institute for Transformational Leadership. Her books include, The Road that Teaches:  Lessons in Transformation through Travel (QuakerBridge Media, 2012) and The Mindful School Leader:  Practices to Transform Your Leadership and School (Corwin, 2014). Valerie’s extensive training includes, the Center for Courage Renewal and Parker J. Palmer, the Institute for Transformational Leadership at Georgetown University, the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care & Society, the Center for Compassion Focused Therapy, the Ojai Foundation, the C.G. Jung Foundation for Analytical Psychology (NYC), Chestnut Hill College (PA) Certificate in Holistic Spirituality, and The Leadership Circle Profile™. Valerie is an ordained Dharma Teacher in the Plum Village tradition founded by Thich Nhat Hanh and a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). As certified Kundalini yoga teacher, she helps leaders discover the wisdom of the body. She leads an annual transformational pilgrimage to El Camino de Santiago, Spain, to celebrate the power of sacred places.

Retreats & Facilitation Services

Coaching & Consulting Services

Conflict Resolution & Mediation Services

Named one of the best courageous books of 2014 by the Center for Courage & Renewal, this book is for educational leaders who feel overwhelmed, stressed, and exhausted, and offers explicit practices to help readers avoid burnout and become the mindful, poised, effective leaders they were meant to be. Loaded with real-time encouragement with portraits of educational leaders who are incorporating mindfulness practices, like attentive breathing, mindful walking about the school building, or calming pauses in the office throughout the school day, this book is a must-have guide.

Valerie Brown and Kirsten Olson. Corwin, December 2014. 344 pages.

The Road that Teaches: Lessons in Transformation through Travel.

Not your average travel guidebook, this book explores some of the world’s great pilgrimages, destinations, and the author’s reflections on the lessons she learned from them. Read this book to discover how travel can be transformational, how to be more mindful while traveling and every day, the adventures of traveling alone, the delights of encountering new people and places, ancient pilgrimage journeys and sacred travel worldwide.

Valerie Brown. QuakerBridge Media, 2012, 152 pages. Also available from QuakerBooks.

Heartfulness: Renewing Heart, Mind, and Spirit on Retreat and Beyond Valerie

Valerie Brown guides readers toward renewal of mind, heart, and spirit by encouraging them to take time away from the busyness of their lives through retreat. Drawing on her experience as a retreatant and retreat leader, she introduces readers to opportunities for personal restoration within a variety of focused retreats. She wonders how Friends experience of expectant waiting influences the retreat process and how retreats influence expectant waiting. She encourages the “big questions”—What has meaning and purpose in my life? What am I avoiding? What brings me most alive?—and offers specific practices for retreatants to cultivate in everyday life.

Valerie Brown. Pendle Hill Pamphlet #421.

Quakers are advised to begin worship by “centering down.” This is the first step in a Friend’s intention to wait in “holy expectancy,” to be drawn by the Light into communion with God. Centering prayer is also a practice used by Christian mystics to prepare for contemplation, and “centering” describes the meditation of a Buddhist in pursuit of that deep awareness called “mindfulness.” Valerie Brown is an explorer and teacher of centering practices, a Buddhist, and an active Friend. Drawing upon her own experiences and wide studies, she describes for Friends how these various traditions can offer us a better understanding and preparedness for our precious, elusive, mysterious, and simple practice of centering into worship. Discussion questions included.

Valerie Brown, Pendle Hill Pamphlet #407. 2014.