Oak Communications
June 2013
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Graphic designer Megan Barra makes a pilgrimage every spring to "The Creative Summit" in San Marco, TX. She goes to be with a community of her peers, to get her creative juices flowing and returns on a "design high" with renewed passion to find creative solutions to problems that transcend the ordinary.

I recently returned from San Francisco, CA where I attended the New Ventures West UnConference and I too, soaked up new ideas and returned rejuvenated.

At the UnConference, the workshop sessions were 3.5 hours. This created the environment for experiential learning and meaningful connections with fellow participants. We actually practiced what we were learning so that when I returned home I felt like I could immediately apply the new discoveries.

The opening keynote address was masterfully presented by writer David Whyte. His topic was the "The Pilgrim Way: The Art of Asking Beautiful Questions." Among the questions he posed was, what narrative (story we tell ourselves) is hard to leave behind? This might be a positive experience or a way of being or thinking that we are afraid to let go of.

Pilgrims who walk the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain have the opportunity to continue their journey three more days to the sea after reaching Santiago de Compestela. When they arrive at the cliff above the sea, the ritual is to leave behind a few things they no longer need - perhaps a letter that they burn or a piece of clothing they wore along the way that they contribute to the pile.

After walking for many days and many miles, the pilgrims not only shed these symbols of their journey but also some of their old ways of being, doing and thinking.

We do not need to walk the Camino de Santiago to shed stories that no longer serve us, though journeys can be helpful in this regard. For me, attending this conference was not so much about shedding but about stepping into my new role of "author." I was given the opportunity to tell "fellow pilgrims" about my recently published book, which took courage on my part. It was made somewhat easier by the surprising fact that so many of the conference workshops had to do with journeys. I felt like I was in the right place at the right time.

The timing and content of the conference was perfect. I felt invigorated, inspired and rejuvenated. How do you continue to grow, learn new things, and connect with others in your field?

Happy Summer,

Sue Schleifer


The Key to the Castle Book  News
Key to the Castle: Zen and Travel Stories of Trust
Next Louisiana book event is a joint book reading and signing with my husband, Mark DeWitt, at Joie de Vivre Cafe in Breaux Bridge on Thursday, August 1 from 6:30 - 8:00pm

Please "Like" The Key to the Castle Facebook page to learn about future events. Stay tuned for book events in Santa Barbara and Ventura, CA and Columbus, OH.

I was interviewed recently by Judith Meriwether on KRVS public radio. Listen here.

Have you read the book? If so, please consider writing a review on Amazon or Smashwords. Thank you!


Buzz on the Book 
Here is what a few advance readers have to say about the book:

"The Key to the Castle: Zen and Travel Stories of Trustis not a book about miracles, or about the cathartic purgings that come with tragic engagement; not about hopeless romance or romance finally found. But it is a book about the quiet miraculous found in paying attention to our lives, about what travel does to the nerve endings. This book brings us to the vast landscape of the journey and how the well-traveled soul is the soul that trusts the intelligence of spirit, or psyche, or mind, or heart---whatever you choose as the dominant guide in your own life."  


Darrell Bourque, author of Megan's Guitar and Other Poems from Acadie, and other books, Louisiana Poet Laureate, 2007-09 and 2009-11 




"Zen at its essence is about finding freedom and spontaneity in our lives. Travel is one way many of us get a taste of this experience. In her new book, Sue Schleifer brings together her experiences of Zen and travel to reveal the wonders of a life lived freshly in the moment."  


Zen Master Bon Soeng, Empty Gate Zen Center



"With some trepidation, I read Sue's chapters that describe the early days of Backroads and was immediately transported back in time by her thoughtful prose. It also gave me a chance to reflect on how much Backroads has changed, for the better. Her insider's look at active travel will give both armchair travelers and adventure seekers an appreciation for how experiencing new places encourages us to ask life's big questions."  


Tom Hale, Founder and President, Backroads, the active travel company


Coaching Services  

Photo of Sue Schleifer
Photo by Robin May



Have you been thinking about working with a life/career coach? Want to connect? 


Give me a call to schedule a complimentary coaching consultation.   


Check out what a few of my clients have said about the coaching experience. 


"Sue truly cares about her clients' goals and brings that passion to her work as a life coach. With her fresh perspective and eye for possibility, she helps me find creative solutions to seemingly intractable problems.
Plenty of professional and creative people would benefit from working with Sue, and I particularly recommend her to anyone who needs to get 'unstuck'."
Medical Editor and Fabric Artist


"A year ago I met Sue for our first session. Through her probing and listening we pinpointed areas that, with specific attention to my thinking and choices, help me:  

  • be personally more effective
  • move towards a more balanced life

My spouse and employees have noticed a positive change, as have I."

Sales Manager-Fortune 500 Company


"Since I first hired a coach I have been a happier person and a more successful businessman. My company has become much more successful, our employees have had the opportunity to grow to the fullest of their capabilities and everyone seems to enjoy each day of life much more than in the past."


"Doesn't everyone need a coach? From working with Sue, I'm convinced of it. I am spending more time on the activities that are most important to me and have set aside some old patterns (like worrying too much!) that got in my way. Sue is helping me achieve my interpersonal as well as career goals."
President, High Tech Management Consulting Firm

I would love to be a resource for you too! Let's talk.


Sue Schleifer, M.A.


510.316.3319 - cell
Oak Communications

Lafayette, LA and throughout the country

510.316.3319 - cell

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