Transformational Writing Retreat with Janelle Hardy

Juluchuca, Mexico

April 29 – May 5, 2023

Embodied Writing and Regenerative Creativity

for up to 12 people

A writing retreat for people who want to fill their creative well, experience embodied, somatic approaches to writing, connect with kindred spirits and write.

Our time together will be an immersive experience of writing, storytelling and creative play. We’ll nourish our deepest self, fill our inner well of inspiration and tap into creativity and joy.

This is a time for creative reclamation

Let’s gather together to reclaim ourselves and the mythic core of our creative impulses through the immersive alchemy of being together, writing, playing, eating and relaxing.

Let’s do this  in-person, because nothing quite beats the real life experience of stepping away from the everyday distractions, showing up, turning off our devices and settling in to be present, share stories and be courageous in our creative work.

This is a time for writing

Because by writing we tap into deeper forms of knowing that clear the way for wisdom and insight. And when we clear the way, it just rises up and out of ourselves, through the pen and onto the paper.

Because by writing we cultivate curiosity, deep listening, and a refinement of our use of language, communication and storytelling skills.

This is a time for connection and community

Because writing can get lonely.

And because connecting online is wonderful but can only go so far. And because sharing space on a retreat, hanging out and eating amazing food, and having structured as well as unstructured time is so highly underrated, yet so immensely valuable.

Because this is the kind of magic that fills the well. The kind of magic that taps us back into our own divine source of inspiration and fuels new and abiding friendships.

For all these reasons, this retreat is about writing, personal transformation, amazing food, wonderful surroundings, and the most stellar of kindred spirits.

 This is a time for story medicine

The kind of medicine that arises by being together, working on our stories, while immersed in the kind of retreat that is, in itself, a new story. 


*This is a sample retreat schedule, and is subject to change*


We’ll have five workshops during this retreat.

The workshops will be chosen based on the desires and needs of the participants, but you can expect workshops along the themes of:

Writing From the Charge: how to invoke different states of body and mind, then write from those places. This workshop also includes support in releasing the charge after you’re finished with it.

Working with Archetypes and Archetypal Energy in Your Stories: we’ll explore questions such as: what are archetypes? How can you more clearly identify and work with them to build better characters (including the non-human)? Even/especially in your non-fiction/memoir writing.

Inviting the Expressive Arts Into Your Writing Process and Sourcing From Your Subconscious: a session facilitated by Louise Hardy, certified art therapist.

Somatic Writing, Embodiment and the Senses. What does it mean to be a body-centric creative, and how to keep your body in your process.

Writing About Personal Traumatic Experiences: how to approach the difficult, the painful, and the highly charged without re-traumatizing yourself. This workshop will share the basics of creating generative ritual for yourself, as well as how trauma lives in the body and nervous system, how to understand your responses, and how to do nervous system regulation work on yourself while also writing the story down.

Shifting Resistance and Creative Block Using the Body: exploring how stuckness is held in your body and it’s systems, and playing with identifying these states and then releasing them with all sorts of gentle and playful somatic prompts.

Writing the Ephemeral, the Mystic, the Psychedelic: exploring ways to write about the experiences that defy words and stories.

Untangling Perfectionism, Comparisonitis, and all the other little villains of a creative life.

Hotseats / group coaching

Each person will have a chance (optional) to be in the ‘hotseat.’ Imagine what kind of insight you can gain by sharing a creative challenge in the company of kind, thoughtful and experienced peers. This is what a hotseat is. Dedicated attention on you and your creative ambitions, curiosities and puzzles.

Your experience also includes

Group Calls

One month before the retreat we’ll have a group call to connect with one another and go over any logistics. One month after we’ll have another call to integrate the retreat.

Community Connection

From the day of our first call, you’ll have a WhatsApp group to connect with one another, and stay connected before and after our time together.

The Location

About Juluchuca, Mexico

Playa Viva, near the village of Juluchuca, is an off-the-beaten path on Mexico’s Pacific coast, and is known for a temperate climate, vibrant cultures and fabulous food.


About Playa Viva, the retreat centre

In addition to being a beautiful, relaxing, luxurious and delicious experience, our retreat centre, Playa Viva, is a regenerative and 100% off-grid space that interacts with its environment and local community in a whole systems approach.

Playa Viva is committed to farm to table food, permaculture practices and reforestation. You can relax into your retreat knowing that your time, energy and money is supporting an organization committed to environmental sustainability and community care.

2% of Playa Viva’s fee goes to their Regenerative Trust, which “contributes to the environment and community of Juluchuca of which Playa Viva is a part. This fund goes directly to our impact efforts and allows us to support the health, education, and economic opportunity of those in our community.”

Playa Viva also has a turtle sanctuary, La Tortuga Viva (‘The Living Turtle’). Juluchuca’s local sea turtle conservation project is run by a team of fourteen local volunteers. Since 2010, they’ve successfully released more than 450,000 baby sea turtles. Each year thousands of endangered sea turtles come to the shores of Playa Viva to lay their eggs, year-round.

About the food

One of the most important elements of a retreat is fabulous food, shared together. And we will be having plenty of that!

Your retreat includes three gourmet meals, snacks and non-alcoholic non-blended drinks (alcohol and blended drinks from the bar cost extra.)

The food is farm to table cuisine. The retreat centre has a thriving organic garden with a variety of seasonal vegetables, microgreens and seeds. They source as much as they can from their land and proudly support local farmers who provide milk, cheese, fruits, beans, corn and eggs.

The cuisine is described as ‘healthy Mexican’. They focus on traditional Mexican meals, but cook with minimal oil and healthy, local ingredients. Their objective is that their chef and kitchen team have a direct relationship with the producers of each item on your plate. Because of this close connection to the food served, they are able to accommodate a wide variety of dietary concerns including vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, omnivore and even Kosher, not to mention special care to address any allergies, gluten free, sugar free and other food concerns.


About the rooms

Your retreat fee includes beautiful shared accommodations for 2-3 people. People are paired by stated choice (ex: if friends are coming together) and by preference (Ie: I’ll do my  best to make sure night owls and early birds aren’t sharing space!)

Limited private rooms are available for an additional fee. If you’d like to upgrade, please sign up, then get in touch to arrange.

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Who this is for…

This writing retreat is an immersive gathering for people who want time and space to write, grow and rejuvenate their creative souls.

There is space for up to 12 people on this journey.

The retreat will offer intimacy, connection and transformation. No one will feel like a stranger, but you also won’t feel overwhelmed. You’ll have time to retreat, and hang out with yourself to recharge, when you need it.

Many of the programmed activities are optional. You’ll find the experience is time-bending and creativity-recharging.

You’re someone who:

  • no matter your writing skill level, longs to go deeper and express core truths through story
  • wants to connect with likeminded kindred spirits and build a creative and writing community around yourself
  • knows that the creative is inseparable from the rest of life, and longs to infuse your creative work (and flow) throughout your life
  • is hungry for rest, for play, for a way to  tap into your creative work with more movement, laughter, adventure and fun




🌿  6 nights accommodation
🌿  3 fantastically delicious meals each day (dinner on arrival; breakfast on departure)
🌿  All workshops and group hotseats during the retreat

🌿  Daily yoga
🌿  Participation in morning sea turtle release
🌿  Locally facilitated cacao ceremony
🌿  Locally facilitated Temezcal (sweatlodge) ceremony
🌿  Private Geneva chat group
🌿  Pre-retreat group call
🌿  Post-retreat group integration call


🌿  Transportation to and from the local airport on arrival and departure days
🌿  Retreat staff gratuities

*specific activities subject to change*


🪴  Travel to Mexico
🪴  Taxis (except for travel to included adventures)
🪴  Additional food and beverages

$4,550 USD

  • or 5 monthly payments of $930 USD
  • or 8 monthly payments of $581 USD

*Canadians: the CAD/USD exchange rate is fluctuating wildly these days. And I’m Canadian. So, we can arrange a payment link in CAD, at 1.25x the USD rate. Just get in touch at and I’ll send you a payment link in CAD.*

Frequent Asked Questions

What is your cancellation policy?

By January 29th, 2023: If you need to cancel for any reason, I will refund the amount paid minus a 150$ USD administration fee.

From January 30th, 2023 – April 20th, 2023: There are no refunds, but if the retreat is sold-out, I will invite someone from our waitlist. If I find a replacement, I’ll refund the amount paid minus the 150$ USD administration fee.

After April 29th, 2023 (retreat start date):

There are no refunds and no program transfers.

What about covid?

Fortunately we’ll be at  a retreat centre  in a temperate part of the world, with great air circulation. And, Playa Viva has a covid policy. Click here to read.

Don’t forget you’ll have to abide by your country’s covid rules when entering Mexico as well as on your return home. Please get in touch with me with any other concerns you have: jaha @

Can I bring my family, kids, pets?

Unfortunately, no. This retreat  is designed to offer everyone a chance to leave their regular everyday life and immerse themselves in a singular gift of an experience. Having family pulling on your attention will detract from your experience, as well as the group cohesion.

What airport do I fly into?

Zihuatanejo Ixtapa International Airport (ZIH). Ground Transportation to and from ZIH on arrival and departure days is included.

Do I need to be a good writer to join?

Nope. This retreat is about reconnecting with your creative self through embodied writing workshops and plenty of time to write, explore and nurture yourself in community with kindred spirits.

This retreat is also about filling up your creative well – giving yourself marvelous experiences in an immersive environment that will fuel your writing during and after the retreat.

Not a  single bit of this retreat is about evaluating writing level or skill.

I'm a professional writer. Will I feel like this is too basic for me?

Nope. Even (perhaps especially) if you’re well-trained in the craft of writing, you’ll find these workshops take an uncommonly body-centric, unique and eclectic approach to writing.

I’ve had plenty of students who are professional writers with PhDs, MFAs and credentials all over the place.

The common thread in these students is a hunger to step out of the cerebral and analytic writing realms, and into the more joyful, embodied and intuitive realms. Consistently, these students thank me for my approach, and are glad they’ve taken my programs.

This retreat is also about filling up your creative well – giving yourself marvelous experiences in an immersive environment that will fuel your writing during and after the retreat.

This retreat is about reconnecting with your creative self through embodied writing workshops and plenty of time to write, explore and nurture yourself in community with marvelous kindred spirits.

Do I have to write on the retreat?

Nope. Although writing will be used as part of the processes, the retreat is truly about filling up your creative well – giving yourself restful experiences in an environment that will fuel your writing later.

In fact, maybe you’ll enjoy bringing watercolours or pencil and paper and play with doodling and drawing your ideas and stories, as a precurser to the writing.

It’s all welcome.

I trust that, in our creative processes, there are times when we need to set the writing urge and the productivity and the writing implements down and just have creatively nurturing experiences. You’re welcome to do that at the retreat, with plenty of support on my part.

I have food restrictions/allergies/etcetera. Can you accommodate them?

Yes. The Playa Viva kitchen is accustomed to catering to a wide variety of needs. Get in touch with me to arrange: jaha @

Who will I be sharing a room with?

Each room has 2-3 beds, so there’ll be you plus one or two others.

I’ll do my best to match roommates based on sensitivity to noise as well as timezones, and whether they’re early or late risers.

Can I get a private room?

Yes. Register then get in touch ASAP. There are limited private rooms, and you can upgrade into one for an additional fee.

Meet Your Retreat Guides

Janelle Hardy

Hi! I’m Janelle.

I’m the creator and teacher of a transformational memoir-writing course called The Art of Personal Mythmaking.

I live in Vancouver, BC on Coast Salish People’s land (the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Səl̓ílwətaʔ (Tsleil-Watuth), and Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) Nations), and Whitehorse, Yukon on Kwanlin Dün and Ta’an Kwäch’än Peoples’ land.

My current work teaching transformational writing has evolved out of lifelong pursuits in writing, painting, and dance, as well as 14+ years of hands-on healing work (Hellerwork Structural Integration,)  a deep love of anthropology, and a fascination with fairy tales, folktales, and mythology.

Ellazora Hardy (Assistant)

Ellazora is a student of psychology, all-round creative, filled with sparks of wise depth and vibrant delight.

She’s been a writer since childhood, and she’s also Janelle’s daughter.

Ellazora will provide assistance to Janelle and offer an insightful playful presence at the retreat.

When she’s not supporting Janelle with logistics, she’ll be participating alongside everyone.

Louise Hardy

Louise Hardy is a counsellor and art therapist, fiber and food artist, storyteller, mother and grandmother living in the Yukon Territory of Canada, in Whitehorse, on Kwanlin Dün and Ta’an Kwäch’än Peoples’ land.

She’s writing her memoir and she’s also Janelle’s mother.

Louise’s work and studies have spanned being a homemaker, social worker, politician, art therapist and exhibiting artist. She specializes in trauma and soul work and has a passion for storytelling, fine food, loose leaf tea, ceremony, ancestors and beauty.

Louise will provide a grounding yet playful presence at the retreat, participating alongside everyone.

Deep Thanks

Gratitude to those who’ve taught and mentored me, and, particularly, shown me through example what possibility looks like and how to facilitate, hold transformational, creative spaces and tend to connections, both individually and in groups.

Women’s leadership coach Nisha Moodley, you met my hunger for sisterhood and showed me how to do weeklong immersive retreats with impeccable love, organization and beauty.

Laurel, Vanessa and the team at Hollyhock’s Social Venture Institute, as well as Peggy and team at Hollyhock’s summer gathering, for showing me how large groups of amazing people can be led, inspired and kept on track through the arts, laughter and teamwork.

Canada World Youth/Jeunesse Canada Monde leader Jennifer Drummond, for your wisdom, clarity and joyful laugh, and introducing me to the circle process for the first time.

The creators, guides and fellow participants of the Conservation Action Team (CAT) at age 14 and Yukon Youth Conservation Corps (Y2C2) at 16 and 17.

To the marvelous participants of my Keep Writing Circles and The Art of Personal Mythmaking, thank you for trusting me, for opening up to story, transformation, play, and for teaching me so much.

To my many exchange program host families in Kurikoma, Japan, Bowmanville, Ontario and Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. Thank you for opening up your homes to  ignorant young exchange students like myself, and teaching how family and culture works all over the world through lived example.

And thank you too to my mom and daughter, for always being there.