The Creative Joy Retreat

Presented by Jennifer Louden, Marianne Elliott, & Tracey Clark

Thursday, October 24th to Monday, October 28th
Garrison, New York

Creative joy – sounds nice, fun, even juicy… but necessary?

Not when I have bills to pay, kids to raise, parents to care for, thighs to love… Thanks but no time for that. Maybe in a few years… or a few decades.

Hold the phone and the email and consider this: what if the key to all of the above (+ more energy, passion, focus) was creative joy?

Gabby Creery“I have two sets of twins, two small businesses, a job, 150 or more soccer, swimming and fencing clients, my house is in foreclosure and I am struggling to keep my head above water financially. If I can find the time to say yes to my ‘creative joy’ then so can you. Do it! It’s worth it and so are you.” –Gabby Creery (read more testimonials here)

“I am renewed and refreshed. I feel connected again–to the other women and myself. I reaffirm that my creative joy is important. I’m awed by the beauty, intelligence, resilience, compassion and brilliance of women like Jen, Marianne, Tracey. This was a blessing and a gift. If you are considering going, I say: Go! You won’t be disappointed. You will discover or renew areas of yourself that will add joy to your life.” —Mary Montayne (read more testimonials here)

What if creative joy is the linchpin, the ignition switch, the rocket fuel for it all? Everything you want?

Think about people you most admire.

  • Do they exude creative joy?
  • Do they roll with the so-called “learning experiences” of life with a little more bounce?
  • Do they find some joy in just about everything – the daily commute, the angry customer, the dog peeing on the rug?
  • Do they like life more? Smile more? Get into it more?

Here’s our theory:

  • Reclaiming and nourishing creative joy gives your life more shine.
  • It puts you in touch with your why – your reason for being, and it does it through lived experience rather than a complicated plan.
  • It helps you develop resiliency – the most vital skill we all need in these intense times.
  • It infuses the repetitive stuff of life with a rosy glow that isn’t new-age hackneyed positive thinking but rather the knowing that this is your life and you are making it matter.
  • And it makes your brain and body feel – and function – a whole lot better. We’re talking hormone balance. Good brain chemistry.

Thursday, October 24th to Monday, October 28th
Garrison, New York

[wp_eStore_add_to_cart id=15]


“At Creative Joy I fully came out of the closet as a writer, an artist and a creator. The depth of this realization on the direction of my life is indescribable. The powerful alchemy created by the presence of soulful teachers and eager, talented students is like a magic formula to opening hearts, unleashing creativity and stepping into your own beautiful skin. As a very experienced ‘retreater’, I can say that this was one of the best I have attended.” —Pascale Kavanagh, (read more testimonials here)

Here’s what you will experience on this retreat:

    • A retreat, which is very different than a vacation or a conference. It a chance to get quiet, to catch up with yourself, to hear what you think, feel, need. The entire experience will allow you to do this perhaps more deeply than you have in a long time.
    • Connection. We all need to be heard and to hear, to be witnessed and to witness, without care-taking, without drama, without having to do anything. In safe and carefully contained ways, this retreat will connect, mindfully, with thoughtful awake women. You will be inspired and you will be seen.
    • A creative joyful flow. We’ll combine writing with photography, photography with ecstatic movement, singing with yoga, meditation with writing, poetry and chanting and rest flowing through it all. For the sake of what? To LIBERATE your creativity. To experience yourself creating fully, no holding back. And to experience that you can always always liberate your creative flow no matter what.
    • Mindful choice. We will guide you to follow your desires, to cultivate your self-trust. Nothing during the retreat is mandatory, it’s all about moment to moment choice.
    • Joyful food. Sure just having someone cook for is joyful and the food at Garrison is a nurturing retreat in healthy eating that tickles your desire to eat in life-giving ways. That alone is transformative!
    • Get a taste of what you’ll experience on the Creative Joy retreat in this 1hr mini-retreat with Jen, Tracey & Marianne.


Because of Creative Joy retreat I am Braver. I am more open to myself. I feel okay to be assertive and attend to my creative needs as a priority. The material offered was wonderful. Before I was thinking that it might be a reach to really do all that growing and learning but we did it!” –Lisa Schroder (read more testimonials here)

Here are benefits women from the 2012 retreat experienced:

  • Renewed self-trust“I make mistakes, I regroup and keep going. I stay on my own side now no matter what.”
  • Deep rest – it’s not just about sleeping more, it’s about being present and being nourished without distractions pulling at you, including your mean inner voices.
  • Creative focus – the chance to actually dive into your creative world – not to produce something but for the joy of it.
  • Renewed energy – through dance, all-level yoga, full breathes, restorative nature, being seen and loved, and that fab healthy food.
  • Less fear, less shame – we do little experiments and tell stories to melt your fears and your shame icks.
  • Inspiration – new ways of creating that you can carry into all areas of your life.
  • An opened heart – connecting with glorious, imperfect, open-hearted women and you will see how much more similar than you are then different
  • The retreat facelift – you have to see it to believe it.

“This was just what I needed. Many things that had been floating around in my head were given form and channeled into something intensely positive that I know will give me the strongest possible foundation for moving forward. It gave me the ability to claim my own sense of control and agency, and emerge stronger and more centered, ready to manage anything that comes my way. I feel very lucky to have been able to experience this. This isn’t an indulgence – it is an opportunity to engage in the difficult, serious and fun work of opening yourself to the joy of being alive. I don’t think there is anything more important you can do for your family, your work, your community and yourself.” —Carise Mitch (read more testimonials here)

It’s not all about giggles and glitter — although there will be giggles and maybe some glitter — we’re talking about cultivating a deep, rich, sustainable joy, one that is as close and true as your own heart.

The retreat will flow through yoga, meditation, writing and photography each day with all sorts of small surprises and a community of like-minded women and love love love. For the exact retreat schedule click here to download, but please know the days will be a lovely balance of learning, hanging out, connecting, resting, and reflecting.

Writing into JOY with Jennifer Louden

Writing is both a way to notice joy, a way to remove the obstacles to joy, and yes, it’s possible to write with joy. Everyday we will play with writing, with words, for the sheer joy of self-expression – not product! We are also going to use writing to help us understand our personal style of joy, our limits and edges and fears, and how to love ourselves into more self-love.

There will be a mix of personal journaling techniques, observation, deepening and thickening a piece of writing, and time to talk about structure, writing practice, and blogging.

We will also be mixing writing and photography this year – letting each practice inform, liberate, illustrate and give birth to new insights.

JOYful yoga with Marianne Elliott

Yoga sometimes gets the reputation of being terribly earnest and serious, and there is a serious side to yoga. But for this retreat our focus will be on JOY. Can yoga help us reconnect JOYfully to our bodies? Can it help us play more freely and joyfully with our writing, and our photography? And can it support our meditation practice? The practices at the JOY retreat will be designed to do just that. Marianne will lead a series of joyful yoga practices suitable for all levels of experience and all bodies. You don’t need to have any previous experience of yoga; if you are an experienced yogi, come along and play with us as we rediscover the joy of the fundamentals.

Capturing JOY with Tracey Clark

Learning to see the beauty around us is the first step in finding our JOY. By observing the world—color, space, shadow and light—we are able to create and carry a perspective that is rooted in appreciation and gratitude. As we move forward, we can tap into creative outlets to further heighten our awareness. Photography is an ideal tool to use to translate what our heart and mind see into a distilled and tangible expression of what is authentic and true to each of us. Exploring the woods and grounds of the Garrison Institute, sharing stories and capturing JOY as we go, you’ll gather the insights and inspiration to picture your life in a whole new light (literally and figuratively). No previous photography experience is necessary. DSLR, point-and-shoots and/or iPhones are ideal for this work. Bring your laptop if you have one.

This retreat is for you if:

  • You sense there is so much waiting to be freed in you, if you could just have the time and support to let loose
  • You’ve been through a lot lately and yearn to lighten up
  • You have lost the thread of your life and can’t muster the desire to find it
  • You feel like you are always trying to “get it right” and frankly, you’re exhausted
  • You feel paralyzed by anguish at the state of the world
  • You get so much out of spending time with cool women (and you could use more of it)
  • You need me time but soulful focused me time

This retreat is not for you if:

  • You need a specific outcome aka finish a project.
  • You are in the midst of intense grief, depression or PTSD.
  • You don’t like quiet, you don’t like going inside, you don’t like talking to other women even a little bit.
  • You need to drink, smoke, use drugs or shop on a daily basis to stay calm.
  • You think creative joy is fluffy new age bull.
  • You don’t like to write, have no interest in photography, and would rather stick red-hot pokers in your eyes than practice yoga (you may feel that one about one of these practices but if you feel that way about all three, this isn’t the retreat for you).
  • You hate healthy food. (There is dessert at each dinner and scones at breakfast, and great bread. It’s not a Zen retreat.)

“It was such an amazing time. I feel more calm and confident, that I value myself and my down time. I’m encouraged to see creative in the everyday moments of life. If you are wondering whether this retreat is for you, give yourself permission to spend a weekend away nurturing your spirit in a safe and supportive retreat. Leave behind your preconceived notions about yourself, yoga, photography, and writing. Come ready to find a new beautiful place inside yourself, where love, creativity and joy flow like a healing river through the soul.” —Amanda Duran, (read more testimonials here)

Speaking of writing, photography and yoga, no experience is required. No mastery. There will be no comparisons or competition invited or allowed. This is about play, discovery, and fun. This is about creating a safe, nurturing space to free the genius that is you so that it can nourish your whole life. Period.

If you are nervous or uncertain about attending:

We totally get it. We all get afraid when we sign up for stuff like this, too.

So many questions arise like:

  • Will I like the food? (It’s vegetarian, plentiful and amazingly delicious.)
  • What if the other participants are weird or what if they think I am? (Check out how many of the comments from last year talk about the wonderful women.)
  • Will I have to talk about personal stuff? (No have tos. None.)
  • What if everybody else can do ________ and I suck? (No comparisons, no outcomes, great safety and lightness will abound.)
  • What if I don’t belong? (You will, we promise.)
  • What about the money? (We know the retreat is incredible value but please don’t go into debt to come. We do offer a two pay option.)
  • What about my room? (Simple, comfy, small, nun-like, very clean.)
  • How do I get there? (We will send you great directions and we will create a Facebook group to share rides.)

If you want to come but you’re afraid, try this: make a list of all your fears. Do not judge these fears, just get them on paper, fast. Then take a walk. After a bit of walking and breathing, ask your heart, “What do I truly desire?” and if you hear nothing (many of us have no idea what we want, which is a core aspect of creative joy and something we will play with on this retreat) then ask yourself, “Will I regret not attending?”

This retreat will buoy your heart, inspire your authentic desires, and shine up your glow.

If not now, when? And if not with us, then who? (This is a real question to ask yourself.)

The Specifics

When: October 24th to October 28th, 2013

Where: The Garrison Institute, Garrison, NY, USA

Price: $700 ($720 for 2-pay Option) for tuition (accommodation NOT included — see below)

How to register for the Creative Joy Retreat

First, you must register with us and pay your tuition.

Second, and equally important, you need to book your accommodation direct with the Garrison Institute. This is not included in the tuition you have paid, and must be done separately.

You have several options for your accommodation at Garrison.

  • A single room costs $125 per night
  • A double room costs $110 per night
  • A triple or dorm room costs $95 per night

Garrison’s prices are per person per night and include three meals per day, tea/coffee and fruit throughout the day. Once you register for the retreat with us, you will receive an email describing how to easily book your accommodation with Garrison — on-line or by phone. Super easy!

Check-in between 3-6pm on October 24th, then program will end at lunch on October 28th.

[wp_eStore_add_to_cart id=15]


About the Retreat Leaders

Jennifer Louden is a personal growth pioneer who help launch the self-care movement with her first book The Woman’s Comfort Book. She’s the author of five more books on well-being and personal wisdom that have inspired more than a million women in 9 languages. She helps creative people who want to change the world get to it, and that includes herself. She believes self-love + world-love = wholeness for all.

Marianne Elliot is a writer, human rights advocate and yoga teacher. She created 30 Days of Yoga to help people take care of themselves so they can do their good work in the world. She’s the author of Zen Under Fire a memoir about her work with the UN in Afghanistan, where she found joy in yoga even in the midst of war. She is RYT 200 with the Yoga Alliance, and a Senior Leader for Off the Mat, Into the World.

Tracey Clark is a photographer, author, teacher, and the founder of Shutter Sisters, the online collaborative photo blog for women with a passion for photography. With a creative career spanning 20 years, Tracey brings her experience and enthusiasm to everything she does; from shooting to writing to teaching. She believes that perspective—and love—changes everything. Tracey co-wrote Expressive Photography: a Shutter Sisters Guide to Shooing From the Heart and is the author of Elevate the Everyday: A Photographic Guide to Picturing Motherhood, (June 2012, Focal Press).

About The Garrison Institute

The home of the Garrison Institute is a former Capuchin Franciscan monastery of 77,000 square feet that was restored and renovated in 2002. Originally built in 1932, it overlooks the Hudson River just over an hour north of New York City.

Set in a beautiful environment ideal for walking, the Institute has two enclosed courtyards for use as meditation gardens and a large walled rear garden. Located in the rear garden they have a beautiful labyrinth available for walking meditation, which was built in the summer of 2010.

Come join us for five days of inspiration, rejuvenation and JOY! We promise it will be amazing!

CANCELLATION POLICY: If you need to cancel your spot before July 1st, we will refund everything except $100 of your tuition. After July 1st, we are unable to issue any refunds BUT you can give or sell your spot to someone else.


Each week I help thousands of women plumb the question: How do you get your creative & scary sh*t done?

No pat answers, just imperfection you can use.

Get my brand new guide How to Follow Through On Your Creative Desire so you can finally finish that book or that course or that painting or whatever deliciousness you feel called to create.

Enter your first name and email and I'll send it to you immediately.