Leticia Vasquez teaches legal english by day and is a relationship coach by night for her own company Leticia-Vasquez.com. Leticia crossed paths with Shay Klomp Bueters, an integrative health consultant who founded Contagiously Healthy at the Spark 2016 conference which led to their collaboration in putting together a successful Women's Wellness Retreat in Amsterdam. Read more about how these two met and the answers to our Spark Exchange questionnaire:
1. How did the two of you meet at Spark? The coffee break? Borrel?
We met in June 2016 at the amazing Spark conference, during a fun ice-breaker where we had to look at the labels on each other's clothes.
2. What led you both to collaborate?
During the ice-breaker, we laughed and quickly chatted about the amazing women at the event. How inspiring it all was! We mused aloud about how there should be a platform for every woman, entrepreneur or not, to be able to come together and learn and share…without having to meet and drink wine; we laughed that that was fun, but we wanted something more. We left it at that. A few months later, as the stars would have it, we took part in another online class and found ourselves as...classmates! Then and there, we knew we had to turn our musings into reality.
Tell us more about your collaboration and retreat:
In October 2016, we held our very first Women's Wellness Retreat. It was wonderful: we hoped to gather at least 20 women, but by the date of the event, all available tickets had sold. And the feedback was amazing: we had several inspirational wellness educators, who shared their journeys and expertise from how they worked through illness, broken relationships, lack of confidence…and became women helping women. There were tears. There was tons of laughter. There was a sense of women coming as they were and, like ages past, gathering, sharing and learning from one another in a way that only women can. (Disclaimer: we love men, too.)
Leticia: I always compare it to washing the clothes by the river or canning tomatoes. You know: activities women did for thousands of years, where they came together to work, but to also share their joys, suffering and wisdom. While there are plenty of networking platforms..and we love them, we wanted to bring something to everyday women.
Shay: The Women´s Wellness Retreat is a moment for women to pause, step back, be still and surrender. We are pleased to have created a space for a diverse group of women to come together and just be. We hope you can join us on 21 May.
4. What skills to you both bring to the table and how do they complement each other?
Leticia: I am NOT a perfectionist. It has taken me years to admit and accept this…and to even say it in a public forum. But it's true. This makes me realistic in terms of what can and can't be done. Shay is a go-getter and wants to do it all. And she does so much…she is a locomotive. Sometimes, she'll call me and say, "Is this too much?" And I'll say, yes. It's good enough, and sometimes, good enough, is good enough.
Leticia is such a pleasure to work with. I tend to go overboard at times with so many ideas that I want to implement NOW! Fortunately, I know myself enough, that I shared this with Leticia on our first call, and asking her to reign me in if it is too much, which she did at that time (and still does!). It was at that point, I knew we were a good match. I love that she really brings in the feminine energy that embodies the focus of the retreat in “Surrendering to your Feminine Wisdom.”
5. What is your advice to others in the Spark network looking to form similar collaborations?
Leticia: Go for it!
Shay: Be yourself, find others who are like-minded and when an idea comes together take action and make it happen! I love what we are creating and along with meeting Leticia, who brings such positive loving energy to every encounter, I would also like to highlight the other women who we have had the pleasure to connect with and have joined in making the retreat a truly energizing and uplifting day, sharing their knowledge and passion in Women’s Wellness.
Spark Exchange 10 Questions:
1. What did you want to be when you grew up and what do you do now? Are there any correlations?
Leticia: A writer! I'm an ambivert, a person who is both sociable and introverted…depending on the circumstances and the company! I loved the idea of secluding myself for months or years as I wrote a story, and then sharing its world-famous success at a fancy party with loved ones. I still love writing and language, but the closest I got to being a real writer is my journal (which I've kept since I was 12!). Still, writers are storytellers…and I love sharing my stories (and going off on tangents, as Shay and anyone who has ever met me knows), which is something I share in my coaching.
Shay: A dancer! Dancing is in my blood! I grew up in the dance studio, performing in the annual Nutcracker, ending up as a University Cheerleader – and still love to get my boogie on! Funny enough – I ended up working in the Entertainment Department for Holland American Cruise Lines – where I danced daily and then with my position as an Executive Director of an International Trade Organization – every 6 months at our bi-annual events – I organized I Gala where we would dance until the wee hours. So it seems, that is a staple, as well at the Women’s Wellness Retreat I am co-organizing with Leticia ~ making time to get our boogie on! This also nourishes my Primary Foods, foods that feed you although aren’t found on a plate, as I venture into the new world of really going after my passion and my dreams in creating my own business Contagiously Healthy as an Integrative Nutrition Consultant.
2.What characteristics do you possess that have most helped you in your business?
Leticia: As a coach for women wanting to have intimacy in their relationships, what's helped me is my ability to listen, empathise and share my own experiences. My clients have often tried a more traditional approach to healing their relationships. With me, they're getting tough questions about their own behavior, but I also share my own experiences with them. Say, how my husband really made me angry over the weekend when I felt he was rude to some acquaintances. I share my skills to unravel the code of my anger: in the end, it's about me wanting the world to see him for the great guy he is….but that's on his paper. My clients really respect that I am not perfect, and that I can help.
Shay: I am a recovering type A ~ driven, organized. … like being in control or at least what I thought was “control” of things, until it effected my health to the point of landing me in the hospital for 8 days, realizing something had to give. Therefore, trying something new, listening to my gut – which in reflection – is when I flowed – from a White Water Rafting guide in Montana, to backpacking around Europe after University, jumping out of corporate to work on Cruise Ships, to now starting my own business – it seems when I truly listen and trust, that is where the magic happens.
3.What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Leticia: Orderliness! My mother was incredibly clean, to the point of having a sterile house. Maybe it was a generational thing, who knows. I like a little clutter. Makes a place feel lived in. Plus, as much time is spent putting things in order as looking for it later. I'll look for it when I need it…and with computers these days, it's much easier than when I was younger and everything needed to be printed and filed.
Shay: Ohh.. this is a good question. I would say the most overrated virtue is as the Dutch say “doe normaal.” Conforming to the social norm… and I can say this from experience, as that seems to be when I am the most uncomfortable. Life is short ~ be true to your way of living it!
4.What do you value most in your friends and/or colleagues?
Leticia: I love it when they're thoughtful. Even if it's asking about my weekend or about my mom's health, or dropping me a text, I love that they show they've been listening to me and thinking about me. Shay always does something like this before starting a meeting, by the way!
Shay: Ah – wow Leticia, that is very thoughtful of you to recognize that I do this… I don’t think I realized it myself, as it just seems naturally. What I value most in my friends and/or colleagues is being able to view things in a positive, supportive light. Therefore having a positive attitude and mentality, which I can also highlight Leticia being able to reflect my Type A tendencies (they are toned down… although still there! ;) ) in a positive, supportive manner.
5. What do you wish you knew when you started your business?
Leticia: How important social media is! This is still my weakest point. With my love of writing, you would think that I'd be all over my blogs. But that is not the case.
Shay: I am not quite a year into starting my own business, thus have a feeling a few years out I will be able to reflect a bit more clearly. For right now, keep trusting your gut girl… you got this!
6. Where are we most likely to find you when you're not working?
Leticia: At a cafe or a restaurant! I'm on a mission to try every cafe and restaurant in Amsterdam. I love cycling past a place and having a memory of it. I remember who I was with, what we talked about. Part of the storyteller in me.
Shay: In the forest! I remember people at University and on cruise ships would call me a tree hugger (not sure if that should actually go in print! J) Growing up in Montana, I was spoiled with trees, mountains, rivers, lakes… gorgeous nature everywhere. That is my happy place and what give me energy. Therefore you will find me walking, hiking or running somewhere in nature!
7. Which living person do you admire most?
Leticia: That's a tough one: so many people I admire. In the phase I am now, I admire Eckhart Tolle for really deconstructing the way we identify the voice in our head with who "we" are. He's been instrumental in helping me improve my relationships with everyone, especially the most important one: with myself.
Shay: I can’t narrow it down to 1 ~ so I am going to list all 3. My mother, for raising my brother and I, while battling cancer, pretty much as a solo parent as my father was traveling weeks at a time for his job. As a mother now, the respect has only grown. My father, for chasing his dream from a small town country boy, to working in professional sports. And my brother, for following his dream and exceeding it already!
8. What is your greatest extravagance?
Leticia: I confess: I go to the hairdresser every week. I had inherited the "saving money for a rainy day" idea from my mom, who always counted pennies, and who rarely, if ever, wore makeup or dressed up, even though all my aunts did! And then I went to UC Berkeley as an undergrad, and primping was really frowned upon. So I never did anything, and I was happy with my plain look (but boy did I judge those who did got all made up). But a few years ago, as part of my own self-care mantra, I realized that I liked getting my hair done. And if I feel like a million dollars with my hair done, why not always get it done instead of waiting for a special occasion? What am I waiting for? I love it. Phases in life.
Shay: My greatest extravagance is going back to the USA on a yearly basis, which is truly soul nourishing, connecting with my high school and University girlfriends, where we can pick up like we haven’t missed a beat, as well as my father and brother, cousins, aunts and uncles. I have travelled the world, yet there is truly no place like “home.”
9. Which talent would you most like to have?
Leticia: I would love to play the piano or be a performer. I go to Concertgebouw, Carre, Meervart, random plays and operas any chance I get (usually has to be English or Spanish, so it's tough…though I do take my kids to Dutch performances). And when the first word is uttered or the first note is played, I start crying; I seriously cannot help it. What a wonder to witness people living their passion up there. I quietly thank each performer as they appear.
Shay: Sing! I so wish I had a voice – as I would have been Broadway bound! I absolutely love musicals, the dancing portion I can do, the singing not so well. I have to admit, I am similar to Leticia, and any live musical has me in tears! On the cruise ship, I was able to meet Debby Reynolds in person, and see her sing and dance to “Good Morning” from “Singing in the Rain.” I went to both performances, and sat in on the rehearsals. AMAZING!
10. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Leticia: I do not pray at the altar of "busy-ness" or its first cousin, "drama." This means that I am rarely stressed. I find that people often ask "How are you? Busy?" And when I say, "no," they don't how to respond. I have a few techniques I use, like only one social activity, tops, a day. So I force myself to choose one, and I simply cannot make the others. Absolutely no running around trying to make two appointments (or more). Or I ask myself, "Do I really want to go or do I feel obligated (for whatever reason)?" If the answer is no, no it is. I have lots of straightforward chats with myself, without drama.
My greatest achievement is without a doubt is being blessed with a healthy, happy little boy! After battling infertility for 5 years, going the medicinal route, I decided to take my health into my own hands and removed processed sugars, gluten and GMO’s with which 8 months later we conceived naturally. I think if only the Dr.’s had started with that…. therefore my passion in making healthy living contagious.
Women's Wellness Retreat is Sunday, May 21 12-5pm. Click here for more details and to sign up.