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A community garden just for us. 

A sort-of secret garden for subscribers, filled with seeds and starters to nourish whatever you’d like to grow. A gift to you for joining me on this journey.

Watch :: Read :: Listen :: Play

It’s all right here for you, ready to harvest

Let me do the heavy lifting

You’re busy, I get it. You don’t have time to read all those books or listen to those amazing podcasts people keep telling you about.

Let me do it for you.

I read, listen, and research for my living—just ask my clients. And I take notes on just about everything. It’s how I Lael.

Look for LAEL NOTES links below to access free 10-page downloadable PDFs of my own notes and you’ll get the headlines, key concepts, and salient points… perfect to read on the fly.

Welcome to my brain, my friend.

Watch: I reach for these when I need hope and inspiration

All of them move me to tears and give me full-body goosebumps

Kelly Corrigan’s piece Transcending: Words on Women + Strength where she talks about that “lean and catch thing” women do. It always makes me so glad I was born a woman.

Sheryl Lee Ralph singing at her Emmy acceptance speech, “I am an endangered species…I am a woman…I am an artist…and I know where my voice belongs.” Mic. Drop.

Valarie Kaur’s TED talk about revolutionary love in a time of rage. She reminds me to do as the midwives tell us: Push! And then? Breathe… and that this might well be the darkness of the womb, not the tomb.

Amanda Gorman reading her inauguration poem, “The Hill We Climb” takes my breath away every time and gives me hope for our future. It’s a clarion call to lead bravely—and clearly—to a “raise this wounded world” to a new dawn.

Chameli Ardagh’s TED talk on the fierce face of the feminine. Watching this helped me reframe my anger and rage to see how it can be a force for good and deeply of service—not violence.

A Stronghold of Resistance is a short film by Drew Doggett on the wild horses of Sable Island. This haunts me—as the old woman’s voice who narrates it and the fact that she refers to the island as “her” and “she” feels like my own.

Abby Wambach’s commencement speech to the women of Barnard College. This reminds me of the power of our wolfish instincts, and how it will be our greatest salvation.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez public response to being accosted by a representative on the steps of our capital. This is what it looks like to dissent with grace, integrity and ferocity.

Keala Settle singing “This is Me” at rehearsal of The Greatest Showman. Never fails to inspire me—especially when she comes out from behind the music stand. Her power is palpable.

Jennifer Anniston in the boardroom (aka “the strong woman scene“) of The Morning Show. “Not quite the apology you were expecting?” BOOM.

Priya Vulchi and Winona Gua in a TED talk about racially literacy. These two women boil down what our nation is missing in 12 minutes. This is what I watched to move beyond overwhelm.

Greta Thunberg speaking to leaders at UN Climate Action Summit. I want to be this brave and speak the hard truths of our world this plainly—and powerfully. This never fails to inspire me.

Julie Gillard, former Prime Minister of Australia demonstrates what it looks like to publicly and powerful call out a leader for his misogyny, hypocrisy and lack of accountability. She specifically names and owns her offense. I aim to be like her.

Beyoncé’s performance at Grammys when she was pregnant with twins. The opening (“Do you remember being born…are you thankful for the hips that cracked?”) plugs me into the power, beauty, and lineage of women.

Love, Actually, the opening scene of the movie. I could watch this short clip on an endless loop. It reminds me to look for the love in the ordinary moments around me.

Oprah Winfrey being interviewed by Stanford’s Graduate School of Business on career, life, and leadership. This is where I got over my fear of being “too much” and started to get that being fully me was my job—and was deeply of service.

Amanda Bennett’s TED talk about how we need a more noble narrative around death and dying—as an alternative to the “fight” story. Much of my work in change involves supporting a graceful death—this talk helped affirm that need.

Brené Brown speaking at the World Domination Summit—a deep track before she was well known, always makes me laugh, remember that choosing joy is courageous, and catches me if I’m “dress rehearsing disappointment”

Emma Watson speaking to the UN about the HeForShe campaign. This is a beautiful illustration of how it looks for women to actively enlist men to fight for gender equality.

The Dinner Scene in Don’t Look Up. The very last scene of this satire gave me a visual for what it might look like to keep my eyes and heart open in a world that seems intent on burying its head in the sand. I come back to this a lot just for the prayer.

Jonna Jinton’s channel on YouTube. Anything this woman does (start with this) is like balm for my soul, but this one gives me hope and faith in humanity—especially the old woman from Wyoming at the end.

Jackson Katz’s TED talk about why violence against women is a men’s issue. This gives me hope for having more men as allies, and is a powerful illustration of how we systematically take men out of the equation—and how we can put them back in.

Michelle Obama speaking at the DNC for Hillary. Despite the outcome, this is what I watch to help me stay in integrity when hate, greed, and corruption is all I see. And this emotional one about “The men I know….” inspired my men’s circle.

Read: A selection of my favorite books organized by topic

Expand each topic to reveal a book list. Click on Lael Notes for a PDF of my own notes you can download for free!

Women's Ways: Power + Leading

If Women Rose Rooted: A Life-Changing Journey to Authenticity & Belonging by Sharon Blackie

Cassandra Speaks: When Women are The Storytellers, the Human Story Changes by Elizabeth Lesser

Wolfpack: How to Come Together, Unleash our Power, and Change the Game by Abby Wambach

Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. by Brené Brown

Urgent Message from Mother: Gather the Women, Save the World by Jean Shinoda Bolen

Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of The Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. I’ve devoured this book at different stages in my life, and it does something for me each time—helping me to remember and plug in to my wildness, my power, and my distinctly feminine way of being. Lael Notes.

Ignite: Lighting the Leader Fire by me, Lael 🙂

Fierce Leadership: A Bold Alternative to the Worst ‘Best Practices’ of Business Today by Susan Scott

Who Do We Choose to Be?: Facing Reality, Claiming Leadership, Restoring Sanity by Margaret Wheatley. This is one of the hardest and best books I’ve ever read, and I’ve shared my notes countless times with clients because it’s brutally honest about where we are, and yet highly instructive of how to lead through it. I have followed this woman for years—she was one of the only women pioneers in the field dominated by white men. She’s a heretic and also a scientist. Her frame of leadership in these times is what’s been missing. Lael Notes

Good and Mad: How Women’s Anger is Reshaping America by Rebecca Traister

Donut Economics: 7 Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist by Kate Raworth

Untamed by Glennon Doyle

The First Sex: The Natural Talents of Women and How They Are Changing the World by Helen Fisher

The Witches are Coming by Lindy West

Business as Unusual by Anita Roddick

The Power (a novel) by Naomi Alderman

Change + Transition

See No Stranger: A Memoir and A Manifesto of Revolutionary Love by Valarie Kaur. This book is medicine for weary souls AND a match to ignite action. I honestly believe reading this could help save humanity from itself. Not only is it powerful, but it’s filled with awesome tools and specifics that get at the “how”—to fight for our world, with love. Lael Notes.

Fire Starter Sessions: A Soulful and Practical Guide to Creating Success on Your Own Terms by Danielle LaPorte

Professional Troublemaker: The Fear Fighter’s Manual by Luvvie Ajayi Jones

Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott. The day I read this one, I swear was the day I set myself free—it helped me to see how my plain-speaking directness was powerful and could be deeply of service. Lael Notes

Managing Transitions by Bill Bridges

Women's Spirituality: Magic + Mystery

Crossing to Avalon: A Woman’s Mid-Life Quest for the Sacred Feminine by Jean Shinoda Bolen

Witch: Unleashed. Untamed. Unapologetic. by Lisa Lister. This book broke me wide open (in a good way). I even remember where I was when I read it in one sitting. Everything changed after it. I love her frame of “re-membering” versus “learning”. The archetypes, practices and tools she talks about have been like breadcrumbs to lead me back to some of the best parts of myself. It’s all about women + power, really, and this book is an invitation I keep my notes handy to keep that portal wide open. Lael Notes

The Feminine Face of God: The Unfolding of the Sacred in Women by Sherry Ruth Anderson and Patricia Hopkins. I swear this is one of the best books I’ve ever read, and I wish I’d found it sooner. My notes are well-loved thanks to the research these two women have done—which feel like a mashup of provocative questions, revealing interviews, storytelling and powerful framing and re-framing. I don’t feel the need for a building, a doctrine or even a community for my spiritual self anymore—this one book has helped me see it as I’m living it. Lael Notes

This Here Flesh: Spirituality, Liberation, and the Stories that Make Us by Cole Arthur Riley

Mary Magdalene Revealed by Meggan Watterson

The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman’s Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine by Sue Monk Kidd (or her fictional books on the same subject, which feel real, Secret Life of Bees, The Book of Longing)

A Secret History of Witches (a novel) by Louisa Morgan

A Discovery of Witches (a novel) by Deborah Harkness

The Enchanted Life: Unlocking the Magic of Everyday by Sharon Blackie

Simply Pray: A Modern Spiritual Practice to Deepen Your LIfe by Erik Walker Wikstrom. This is what saved me when I had a crisis and realized I didn’t know who or what I believed. And using this practice to keep it alive for me. Lael Notes

Older Women: Aging, Crones + Menopause

Hagitude: Reimagining the Second Half of Life by Sharon Blackie. I devoured this. It’s the antidote to the toxic messages and uninspiring narratives we have about aging women—offering glimpses as to how we are positioned to be “elder” as opposed to “elderly”. Lael Notes

The Seven Sacred Rites of Menopause: The Spiritual Journey to the Wise-Woman Years by Kristi Meisenbach Boylan

Red Moon Passage: The Power and Wisdom of Menopause by Bonnie Horrigan

The Space Crone by Ursula Le Guin (an essay in Dancing at the Edge of the World)

Dangerous Old Woman: Myths and Stories of the Wise Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande. I’ve taken notes from this because holding space for grief, dying and death is essential to life—and change—but is often taboo. Lael Notes

Counter-Culture: Rest, Wholeness + Cycles

Rest as Resistance: A Manifesto by Tricia Hersey—this broke my brain (in a good way) around how I was participating in the “grind culture” without realizing it—and inspired me to make major changes as a result. Lael Notes

Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May. I can’t even…this has to be one of the most powerful books I have read. Lael Notes

Unscripted: A Woman’s Living Prayer by me, Lael 😉

Stolen Focus—Why You Can’t Pay Attention and How to Think Deeply Again by Johann Hari. This was one of those books I devoured in a weekend—it’s like someone pulling back the curtain to reveal what we thought was our imagination—our shortcoming. Lael Notes

Bittersweet: How Sorry and Longing Make Us Whole by Susan Cain

In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed by Carl Honore

The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life by Anu Partanen

Enchantment: Awakening Wonder in an Anxious Age by Katharine May

Anti-Racism + White Women

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel  Wilkerson. I wish this would be required reading for all US citizens and schools to understand the history we’ve buried. Brilliantly written with fabulous frameworks and storytelling, it is the single most illuminating book I’ve ever read (and  re-read). Lael Notes.

The Trouble with White Women: A Counterhistory of Feminism by Kyla Schuller

Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers her Superpowers by Brittany Cooper

White Women: Everything You Already Know About Your Own Racism and How to Do Better by Regina Jackson and Saira Rao

The White Allies Handbook: 4 Weeks to Join the Racial Justice Fight for Black Women by Lecia Michelle

White Feminism: From the Suffragettes to Influencers and Who They Leave Behind by Koa Beck

White Tears/Brown Scars: How White Feminism Betrays Women of Color by Ruby Humad

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson

Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla Saad

Environment + Climate Crisis

All That We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine Wilkenson

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Kimmerer

Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest by Suzanne Simard

Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver

Creativity + Making

Making a Life: Working by Hand and Discovering the Life You Were Meant to Live by Melanie Falick

In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from Over 100 Makers, Artists and Entrepreneurs by Grace Bonney

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

This Time I Dance: Creating the Work You Love by Tama Kieves

Listen: I’ve got these playing in my ears on an endless loop.

I get something new out of them each time I listen.

An On Being Listening Party—Celebrating 20 Years with Krista Tippet, host of On Being, and loads of guests and listeners. Whenever I want to remember the goodness in our humanity, and the power of art, poetry and storytelling to light our way forward, this is what I reach for. It lifts me up as it moves me to tears.

Cole Arthur Riley being interviewed on We Can Do Hard Things about her book, This Here Flesh. Something important happens for me listening to this—she intersects contemplation with embodiment reminding me what a deeply feminine form of divinity could look like.

Clarissa Pinkola Estés’s audio book, Mother Night: Myths, Stories and Teachings for Learning How to See in the Dark. This stopped me in my tracks and gave me words to describe what I had been doing intuitively—as a medial woman, I was  capable of seeing behind the veil.

Naomi Alderman—The Power. I reached for this BBC interview with her about her book the weekend after the Roe v. Wade decision came down, and it plugged me back into the power of women. It helped me feel like I was part of a larger movement.

Jonna Jinton Music on Spotify. If you don’t know who she is, look for her above in the WATCH section. These are all the songs she uses in her films and they instantly transport me.

Tricia Hersey being interviewed on We Can Do Hard Things podcast. See my notes for this above in the READ section, but honestly this was the thing that made me see my pilot light was barely lit—and then do something about it.

Lisa Lister reading an excerpt (Root to Rise) from her first book, Love Your Lady Landscape. I listen to this anytime I want to access my power, stoke my fire, or remember why I’m here—as a woman. It does it for me every time.

Susan Cain talking about her book, Bittersweet, on the Good Life Project podcast. Listening to this helped me see how my tendency to be drawn to “the melancholic” wasn’t a downer, it was a source of power. I immediately devoured her book.

Brené Brown talking about creativity with Elizabeth Gilbert was when I finally owned who I am—and started calling myself an artist—because I saw how critical making was to my mental health: “if I’m not creating, I’m not good.”

Isabella Wilkerson talking about her book, Caste, with Krista Tippet, host of On Being, in front of a live audience. I had devoured her book (see READ above) when it came out, but hearing her speak about it three years later was incredible.

Samin Nosrat talking on Unlocking Us about her book, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat—on being brave and creative in a world with trolls, critics and bullies. She inspires me to no end on how to be real, imperfect and messy as we define success on own terms.

Margaret Wheatley talking about her book Who Do We Choose to Be? on the Insights from the Edge podcast. I have followed this woman since graduate school because of my love of systems thinking and change, but this interview gave me a new way to think about leadership in these chaotic times.

Season 5 of my podcast is out—it’s On Her Mind.

Check out my podcast page or look for An Unscripted Woman anywhere you find podcasts. 13 new episodes give listeners the chance to overhear 1:1 conversations between me and other women I know.

Each episode will braid three distinct topics centering on this one question: When you look at the world these days, what’s on your mind—and how did it get there?

We’re talking about books we’ve read, things we’ve pieced together—things that feel obvious, urgent and in plain sight, except they’re not for so many. Critical parts of important conversations that aren’t happening.

Things that matter. Juicy conversations you’ll want to overhear. Why? Because they’re illuminating—and we could use a bit more light to see this complex web we’re all living in.

The idea is not to fix, solve, or tackle what’s broken—but to inspire us to action and imagine something beyond what we’ve created.

I hope you’ll join us.

Listen Now

Play: Some of my favorite tools

Helpful exercises, fabulous prompts, and cool things I reach for on the regular when I get stuck

A “story arc” with 7 simple prompts – I am no stranger to the power of using third-person writing exercises to elicit truth and wisdom from inside a body and soul. I’ve seen it work for years as I’ve run my In Her Words writing experiences. But when I attended a writing workshop at The Omega Institute with John Roedel, he wrote these 7 simple writing prompts on an easel pad that blew my mind. They can be used in countless ways to string together simple sentences that result in a powerful story.

Qoya dance free movement videos with Rochelle Schieck — I can’t tell you how many times these free movement videos she offers on her site have gotten me out of my head and back in my body. They’re 15 minutes, tops, and I swear they’re magic. The idea of Qoya dance is that when we move our bodies we remember we remember we are wise, wild and free. She invites movement to intersect with prayer—which feels deeply feminine to me. And also? You know you’re doing it “right” if it feels good.

Storybrand formula – I was told about this book, written by Donald Miller, when I was writing the copy for my website. The formula is awesome, but the book is kinda meh. There’s a great 3 min summary of it that I like, but I’ve created a cheat sheet of the formula that I’ve shared with my clients for years. It can be used for personal or professional use, for story ideas, self-reflection, and even presentations or pitches.

Did someone you know share this “secret” page with you? How deliciously subversive!

But why not become a subscriber yourself? Access to this page is just one of the many perks I offer those who welcome me into their inbox on Fridays. I’ll be the diamond in your pocket, you’ll see—but here’s proof .

It’s nourishing, free and delicious.

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