Oak Communications
August 2013
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Whether teaching the art of making a pie or of playing the piano, Kate McDermott's lessons are the same: Picture it. Work with the best ingredients. Be patient. Take it in steps. Keep everything chilled. Maintain the edge. Be amazed at how it comes together. Know there is always a way to fix things.


What I am amazed about today is that through Facebook, Kate and I have reconnected. During our interview this week, she reminded me that we have not seen or spoken since 6th grade graduation.


What I am also intrigued by is how Kate has taken her love and passion for pie-making and turned it into a business,  

Art of the Pie.


Kate McDermott and Art of the Pie
Kate McDermott
Photo by Stephen Gross

At Kate's workshops, she demonstrates and encourages her students to participate in each step of the pie-making process and through this hands-on method, the philosophy behind her teaching is revealed.

  • Picture it: what is it you want to make, build, design, or play? Can you see it, hear it, feel it, and imagine it?
  • Use the best ingredients: who can help you? What resources do you need/want? Are you working with the right people?
  • Be patient: practice, practice, practice!
  • Take it in steps: break it down, one small step at a time
  • Stay chilled: when things go wrong, take time to chill out. Stop and pause and then move on. Kate's daddy used to say, "Is this going to matter in 100 years?"
  • Maintain the edge: know your boundaries
  • Be amazed: even though you thought it might all fall apart, celebrate the outcome
  • There is always a way to fix things: it might not be immediately apparent but experimentation generally helps. "Life is easy if we don't get caught up in a picture of perfection."


Art of the Pie participants leave for home with a fresh and personally made pie, new friends, recipes and life lessons.


I can't wait to make a trip to Port Angeles, WA for one of Kate's pie workshops.


I'm picturing the pie,




The Key to the Castle Book  News
Key to the Castle: Zen and Travel Stories of Trust

I was interviewed by Cheryl Castille on "The Exchange," on KRVS on Tuesday, August 13th. Listen here.


Santa Barbara, CA - Book Reading and Signing
Saturday, August 24, 2 - 3:30pm
15 E. Anapamu St

Ojai, CA - Book Reading and Signing
Thursday, August 29, 6 - 8 pm
214 W Ojai Ave

Gambier, OH - Book Reading and Signing
September 29 or 30, tba
Kenyon College Bookstore

Columbus, OH - Book Reading and Signing
Tuesday, October 1, 6 - 8pm
19 Gay Street

Please "Like" The Key to the Castle Facebook page to learn about future events.

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

Thank you!


Buzz on The Key to the Castle 

"With The Key to the Castle, Sue Schleifer takes us on parallel journeys - to the outer world of exotic adventures around the globe, juxtaposed with the inner world of meditation and reflection. In the process she shows us the rewards of deep engagement and openness to the moment in both realms. She is honest about the bumps in the road, and full of questions and doubts (and good humor), all of which make her story very accessible. Her prose is spare, elegant and lucid, and the balance of adventure and reflection make for a sustaining and engaging read." 
Patty Warren

"I just finished reading your terrific book. I bought it a few weeks ago and just knew it would be a great reflective read for my family trip to Spain. The way you have shared and blended both internal and external travels and your personal growth in your life was very moving. The crazy thing for me to understand is how well you listened in our coaching sessions when you have so much to share. Thanks for helping me with my own internal travels and growth."
Lee Smith

 "The Key to the Castle: Zen and Travel Stories of Trust is 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

Writing Down Dementia Tele-Workshop 


Lotus flower 


Writing Down Dementia is a writing workshop

for people who have or have had a loved one with dementia. It is also designed for caregivers and professionals working in the field of aging services. The workshop offers participants a rich experience of creative expression and emotional support.


Kim Fowler and I will be starting a new four-week tele-workshop in the coming months. If you are interested in learning more about it, please contact me.

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."



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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