Courage & Renewal

Renew your spirit and sense of purpose.  Move from a divided, fragmented life towards your Hidden Wholeness and a sense of integrity.  This work has different formats and focus:

  • Circles of Trust® Retreats - full weekend or mini-retreats
  • Sustaining a Life of Service retreats
  • Clearness Committees 
  • Hands Across the Table - Holding Communal Tensions of Differences
  • Healing the Heart of Democracy - Action Circles + Five Habits of the Heart
  • Listening from Within~ Leading from Within for Leadership Development

Please see upcoming Courage & Renewal Programs & Retreats, listed under Upcoming Events


Reflection and silenceReflection and silence 

Creating time for reflection, silence and renewal.




Personal & Communal Renewal

We can lose sight of our sense of our self within our role, regardless of the type of role(s) we hold.  Burn out, a sense of dividedness and fragmentation and growing sense of incongruence can distract us from the life we want to lead.

Often we experience a challenge of sustaining our committment to deeply held values and beliefs when the demands and challenges of our life work distracts us.  The more passionate we are about what we do, the more vital it is to take time to renew our own spirits.  

This renewal process allows us to explore the fragmented and divided self and support a   search for our hidden wholeness - that place of our conviction, joys and successes as well as our fears, doubts and failures. 

This hidden wholeness is within each of us as individuals and can be within our communal life as well.  We benefit from listening to and exploring the life questions we hold - without having to find the answer.  We explore the tensions and polarities that normally arise in our daily personal and/or professional lives and learn to hold these paradoxes - truly recognizing the complexity within our lives.


Healig the Heart of Democracy - Action Circles

Fresh & Meaningful Conversations about the work before the work

Based on Parker J. Palmer's newest book - Healing the Heart of Democracy:  The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit

“At the deepest levels of human life, we do not need techniques. We need insights into ourselves
and our world that can help us understand how to learn and grow from our
experiences of diversity, tension, and conflict.”  Parker Palmer

Reflection Action Circles – Exploring Five Habits of the Heart

These Circles are guided by important principles and practices that create a safe and disciplined atmosphere.  You will be invited and challenged to think more deeply about your own role as a citizen and your shared vision for a better world – what it means to “hold tension in a life-giving way” or what it means to “have personal voice and agency”.  We will deepen our relationships within our community and re-humanize our experience of democracy as we learn to speak about difficult or challenging issues.

Reflection Action Circles are intended to be a space apart from the daily debate in our workplaces and our 24-7 media; instead, we hope it enliven everyone involved through provocative questions, fun experiments in citizenry, and renewed communities of people who may disagree about any number of things, but all want our politics to reflect the true dignity of the human spirit.

Five Habits of the Heart:

  • An understanding that we are all in this together.
  • An appreciation of the value of ”otherness.“
  • An ability to hold tension in life-giving ways.
  • A sense of personal voice and agency.
  • A capacity to create community.

"When all that we understand of self and world comes together in the center place called the heart, we are more likely to find the courage to act humanly on what we know.”   Parker Palmer

Currently there is an initiative in the Denver Metro Area of over 40 congregations holding Healing the Heart of Democracy Action Circles.  Join in!


Hands Across the Table - Holding Communal Tensions of Differences

Just as we can learn to hold tensions in our personal and professional lives, we can also learn to hold the tensions and polarities that arise from our perceived differences in our communal lives.

Based on the Five Habits of the Heart, we explore how to work with diversity in new ways, i.e. how to expand our capacity to hold the complexities of holding different "truths", and deepen our capacity for conversations of meaning.

Principles and Practices of Courage & Renewal® to support fresh and meaningful conversations around diversity, racial equity and other important issues of building our communities, i.e. Honest & Open Questions, Touchstones for respectful conversations and practice ways to explore our differences and similarities in new ways. 



Circles of Trust® is a discernment process, which uses principles and practices that enable us to explore the tensions of living an engaged life.  These practices create a disciplined and safe environement to be a solitude within community.  Using the paradoxes and metaphors from the natural world, poems, songs, inspiational writings and within your own stories, we explore a variety of themes to support your personal or communal renewal process.  You will leave more refreshed than you thought possible.

This work is inspired by the works of Parker J. Palmer (Coruage to Teach, A Hidden Wholeness, Let your Life Speak, and Healing the Heart of Democracy) and the extensive network of Facilitators connected to the Center for Courage & Renewal. Circles of Trust®, Courage to Lead®, and Courage to Teach® are connected with the Center for Courage & Renewal



Susan is a Courage & Renewal Facilitator®, offering a wide vareity of options:

  • Listening & Leading from Within®:  Changing Inner & Outer Landscapes Susan offers programs, series, retreats, mini-retreats, individual & leadership coaching. 
  • Colorado Courage & Renewal Collaboration offering retreats and programs in the Colorado & Rocky Mountain Region, working with Courage & Renewal Facilitators®   Dan Liston and Paul Michalec, with our fourth team member, Rev. Paul Kottke.
  • Arizona Courage & Renewal Collaborative: Courage & Renewal team members include: Courage & Renewal Facilitator David Sadkar, Brian Arthur and Jan Shuman.


Offerings include:

  • Leading from Within - Courage & Renewal
  • Courage to Teach - For teachers from presechool to higher education
  • Courage to Serve - Support for living a life a service
  • Sustaining the Call to Service - Interfaith gathering for Clergy & Lay Leaders
  • Listening from Within - Individual & Leadership Coaching to Change Our inner & Outer Landscape
  • Courage to Parent - Listening Within
  • Courage & Light - Explore Passion, Renewal and Creativity
  • Clearness Committees - Personal Discernment Process
  • Healing the Heart of Democracy - Action Circles + Five habits of the Heart


Possible Formats:

The Circles of Trust® Approach is used in a variety of formats, such as:

  • Sampler or Mini-Retreat - 1/2 to 1 full day
  • Seasonal Retreat -  retreat series,with one retreat each fall, winter, spring and summer
  • Special Sessions  - reflecing specific themes and paradoxes within your professional
    or communal life
  • Discussion or Dinner Group Series:  Readings, DVD and other resources
  • Clearness Committees - personal discernment process
  • Samplers & Professional Development for work place settings
  • Coaching - intentional application of the Courage & Renewal principles and practices into your personal, organizational or professional setting
  • Heaing the Heart of Democracy Action Circles
  • Reflection Circles - weekly circle at 1st Mennonite Church

*Recommended books by Dr. Parker Palmer:

A Hidden Wholeness - The Journey Toward An Undivided Life,

Circles of Trust - the work of Parker J. Palmer,

Courage to Teach,

Let Your LIfe Speak,

Healing the Heart of Democracy,

Courage & Light with Jim Brandenburg & Parker


Principles and Practices

Attending to the creation of a quiet, focused and disciplined space for this work is essentai - a space in which the noise within us and around us can subside, and we can begin to hear our own inner voice. The practices of reflection, journaling, silence, solitude and Clearness Committees are part of the fabric of this approach. Being together in community contributes to a deep listening to self and others. This non-content process invites:

  • Listening

  • Rejoining 
within our 

  • Consideration 

  • Exploring 

Seasonal Metaphors in nature - fall, winter, spring and summer - help us to recognize the experiences within our personal and professional life and invite us to explore the paradoxes we hold within our life.  We draw upon a variety of sources (writings, music, art, etc.) to explore a wide variety of themes pertinent to focus of your work and role.

Principles help guide and sustain the practices:

  • Everyone has an inner teacher
  • Inner work requires solitude and community
  • Inner work must be invitational
  • Work towards presuming welcome and extend welcome
  • Our lives move in cycles like the seasons
  • An appreciation of paradox enriches our lives and helps us hold greater complexity
  • We live with integrity when we see ourselves whole
  • A “hidden wholeness” underlies our lives

“We assume that every person has access to an inner source of truth, named in various wisdom traditions as soul, spirit, or heart-a source of strength and guidance that is the place of truth telling within us where we know the difference between reality and illusion. Our work recognizes this source of truth, honors the identity and integrity of the individual and affirms the vital relationship between the inner life and one’s work in the world.
Parker Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness