The Examined Life Project

Defining Your Life and Work Purpose, Healing from Internalized Self-Doubt

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:

Complete the registration form below.

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

About Your Retreat Leader

Photo of Lead Smart Coaching Founder, Valerie BrownValerie Brown, JD, MA, PCC   |
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.





Nov 23 2019


9:00 am - 4:30 pm




Cranaleith Spiritual Center
13475 Proctor Rd, Philadelphia, PA 19116