Winter Joy Retreat 2019: "Seeing With Wonder" by Cigdem Kobu
Enrollment is closed

Winter Joy Retreat 2019: "Seeing With Wonder"

Come join us for two beautiful weeks of writing, reading, contemplative photography, creative connection, and storytelling in this unique online gathering that takes place only once a year. (Dec. 8-21, 2019) 
Enrollment is closed

Creativity, Storytelling, Friendship As One Year Ends and the New One Begins

Drum roll please, it's that time of the year! The theme for the Winter Joy Retreat 2019 Session is "Seeing With Wonder." I can tell you this year's gathering is going to be extra-fun! How do I know? Well, see the details below!

And if you've just discovered this unique winter event, no worries, my friend! Here's some quick info.

The Winter Joy Retreat is a two-week writing group I've been running each December since 2012. Hundreds of women from all over the world and all walks of life have enjoyed this unique gathering, which combines storytelling, inspiration, introspection, writing, literature, true connection, and creative expression each winter. It's a fantastic opportunity to relax, rekindle your creative spark, and reconnect with yourself and others as one year ends and a new one arrives. 
“I'm experiencing an inner calm that I haven’t felt all year. This was a thoughtful and insightful look inward as the year drew to a close, a respite during the sometimes chaotic holiday season, a way to reflect on positives, negatives, and forward movement.”  
APRIL M. LEE, Holistic Wellness Coach
“After participating in the Winter Joy Retreat, my way of thinking about the challenges and obstacles in my life has shifted. I’ve developed a new mental approach and attitude to deal with them. This event is an opportunity to put ourselves first for a change.”
LEERAY COSTA, Cultural Anthropologist & Professor

Only In December, Only Once A Year

The Winter Joy Retreat takes place only once a year. Repeat participants say this online retreat is the best antidote to the hectic Holiday Season. Simply because it helps you slow down, feel centered in the moment, and savor the last days of the year, rejuvenating your creative self and refreshing your energy instead of feeling drained with anxiety about the past or the future.

Something magical happens when a wonderful group of people gather each December to write and create together on the same stimulating theme. You experience precious "a-ha" moments, explore what needs to unravel, let go off what you don't want in your world anymore, and embrace what you want to invite. Day after day, fresh creative energy flows into your life. This is like being filled with rocket fuel to start the new year with a powerful mindset to create what matters to you the most—in your personal and professional life.
"This feels like the most sacred and safest space to write I have discovered online. Thanks to all my fellow companions on the course, the writing, all of it, was so delightful. I'm going to miss this group."
JACKEE HOLDER, Executive Coach & Teacher
"I’ve never found such an accepting space to write truth in, I’ve never written such raw and open stories before. Thank you for such a trusting place to explore."
JACKIE ROBERTS, NLP Practitioner & Administrative Assistant

How the Winter Joy Retreat Works

From December 8th through December 21st, we'll gather in our online writing salon and rekindle our creative spark with daily essays, original writing prompts, and contemplative photography activities. We'll enjoy daily creative field trips guided by juicy, stimulating morsels of creative inspiration, and zen-like visual excursions into the world that surrounds us. We'll write about and share what we see and notice, how we feel, and what we want to bring to our lives in the New Year.

Each morning around 5:00 am (EST), I'll email you a sumptuous piece of content (the daily Joy Letter). I'll also invite you to join us in the group to share your response to the daily material and to delight in each other's writing and photo journeys. What's important is that there are no obligations in this yearend gathering; only an invitation to read, write, and share in ways that feel good to you. You can choose when and what to respond to, how much to share, and choose do everything at a pace that feels comfortable.
"Can I just say how much I'm loving this group? It's come along at a time when I should have said no to adding one more thing to my overflowing plate, but I'm so, so grateful I said yes. I needed this. I'm also grateful for the honesty, courage, openness and acceptance."
DAWN LEAS, Poet & Writing Facilitator
"I wake up in the middle of the night, and I check my phone for new writing. I wake up in the morning and read more stories over my breakfast. I love each and every single contribution I’ve read. I want more. We're ourselves here, we're our authentic selves."

What Is Included In Your Winter Joy Retreat Experience

  • 14 beautifully designed Joy Letters, which include thematic mini essays and inspiring contemplative photography exercises.
  • Daily original writing prompts that will stimulate your creative muse.
  • A downloadable PDF ebook of the entire program material delivered to your inbox at the end of the program.
  • The love, friendship, and support of kindred spirits sharing your winter journey of noticing, reminiscing, writing, meaning-making, and creating with heart.
  • A cozy, friendly, fun playground on Facebook―a private writing salon where you can connect with fellow retreaters, share your writing, photography, and wonder hunts.
“I can’t say enough about the wonderful writing here. I’ve put myself out there in a few of my pieces here, revealing pieces of me that are less than flattering… and I am deeply moved by the support and encouragement in this group. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for creating and maintaining this environment.”
MARGARET KEEN KEATING, Poet & Executive Assistant
“These essays and prompts have taken me so much deeper than I foresaw, much is churning within, and it’s timely. I’ve been writing privately and hope to have time to share here—there’s much to be gained by sharing. I love coming here to answer the questions. They often give me a different perspective. Thank you!”
MARY ELIZABETH McCONNELL, Well-Being Therapist & Energy Healer

What the Daily Topics and Activities Involve

Here's our mini curriculum along with a list of the activities we'll enjoy together:

  • DECEMBER 8: "Notes On Seeing" (Joy Letter #1: A Reading of Siri Husdvedt + Writing Activity)
  • DECEMBER 9: "Wonder Hunt I: Noticing Patterns" (Joy Letter #2: Contemplative Photography)
  • DECEMBER 10: "Ten Observations" (Joy Letter #3: Writing Prompt + A Haiku Fest)
  • DECEMBER 11: "The Magic of the Everyday" (Joy Letter #4: A Reading of Dr. Sharon Blackie + Writing Activity) 
  • DECEMBER 12: "Wonder Hunt II: Seeing the Light" (Joy Letter #5: Contemplative Photography)
  • DECEMBER 13: "Trusting the Writing Hand" (Joy Letter #6: Writing & List-Making Activity)
  • DECEMBER 14: "Framing Beauty" (Joy Letter #7: Contemplative Photography + Writing Activity) 
  • DECEMBER 15: "Writing from the Body" (Joy Letter #8: A Reading of Terry Tempest Williams + Writing Activity)
  • DECEMBER 16: "A Sense of Place" (Joy Letter #9: Poems on home and place + Contemplative Photography)
  • DECEMBER 17: "Playing Together" (Joy Letter #10: Collaborative Writing Activity)
  • DECEMBER 18: "Self-Portrait: An Act of Love" (Joy Letter #11:  Writing + Contemplative Photography)
  • DECEMBER 19: "Beginning Again" (Joy Letter #12: Writing Activity)
    DECEMBER 20: "Wonder Hunt III: Disciplined Seeing" (Joy Letter #13: Contemplative Photography)
  • DECEMBER 21: "Unfolding Your Gift" (Joy Letter #14: A reading of Dr. James Hollis + Writing Activity)
“This group is unlike anything I have experienced. It has unleashed many words that needed a meadow to romp in without fear. Think about it.”
TERRI JACKSON, Photographer
“Cigdem's writing helped me wake up to the truth of myself. To bravely enter the creative abyss. To know that it is safe to embrace my inner knowing.”
KADENA TATE, Business Strategist & Speaker

Recharge Your Creative Batteries While Celebrating the Season

The Winter Joy Retreat is rich enough to inspire you and short enough to preclude overwhelm. You won’t have to log in to a website or a forum to access the course material or the conversations. Instead, you'll receive everything in your inbox every morning throughout the two weeks. And you'll have the ease of meeting each other and enjoy joyful creativity in a simple, private Facebook group you can easily access even on your phone.

Being part of this gathering, which has become a much-loved yearend ritual for many repeat participants, offers a unique opportunity to take some time for yourself, recharge your creative batteries, and celebrate the season by enjoying fun-filled, creative time with kindred spirits who love writing and photography as much as you do. You'll leave the retreat feeling reconnected to your creative self. You'll also have cultivated a clear focus and fresh new energy for your personal and professional projects in 2019. 
“Cigdem's writing groups provide a huge opening to explore and navigate my own thoughts and then create from them. I love it all and that it happens in community rather than solitary space makes it all the richer an experience.”
DAWN SULLY PILE, Coach, Speaker & Author
"My life has never been more meaningful than when I participated in the Winter Joy Retreat in the last two years. WJR gave me the 'permission' to go inside without feeling selfish or narcissistic and pay attention to myself."
NANCY DADAMI, Feng Shui Specialist & Teacher

Choose To Be Energized This December, Not Exhausted

Based on what participants tell me (and the entire group) at the end of each winter gathering, I can assure you that the Winter Joy Retreat is the best way to celebrate the end of 2019 and the arrival of 2020 by becoming your own muse. When you join us this December:

  • You'll drink less eggnog and do more writing.
  • You'll put away your to-do list and grab your pen and camera!
  • You'll forget about politics and make friends with new creative allies.
  • You'll remember stories and skills you thought you had forgotten.
  • You'll rediscover what really nourishes you and acknowledge what you are hungry for.
  • You'll reconnect with yourself and like-minded creatives.
  • You'll fill your days with fun, creativity, friendship, and writing.
  • You'll feel ready and energized to start 2020 with a clear focus and positive mindset.
“Two weeks. Only two weeks to change my perspective, my viewpoint, my outlook, my awareness, my attitude, my understanding. I don’t consider myself a writer but I do have a story to tell. Deep, deep gratitude for you. For holding my stories, my writing with such grace."
“I’ve been thrilled by the chance to experience this whole different way of thinking about writing. Deeply personal, evocative and inspiring. Thank you for the experience of the richness of your unique creativity and care.”
CATHERINE DREA, Photographer, Writer & Social Entrepreneur

Grab Your Ticket and Gather 'Round the Fire!

I know you have a huge list of things to do and people to please as the end of the year approaches. But pause for a moment and consider this:

What if you put yourself first instead of spending December making yet another list of New Year’s resolutions that never work? What if you devoted a bit of your time to rekindle your creative spirit, connect with positive people, and refresh your creative energy before the New Year begins?

By reserving your seat today, you’ll make sure that you’ll put your own oxygen mask on first during the hectic Holiday Season and have creative time scheduled for yourself. While seats are still available, give yourself the gift of the Winter Joy Retreat and an inspiring, revitalizing, fun Holiday Season instead. You deserve it!
“Writing. Stamina. I love this experience. Our writing is becoming a string of stories that paint a much larger picture. The words are flowing and they just won’t stop.”
SUE ANN GLEASON, Holistic Business Consultant
“I'm not a writer, I don’t consider myself one. But Cigdem’s writing groups completely changed my relationship with writing. Writing as a group was part writing, part healing and part party.”
MONICKA CLIO SAKKI, Artist & Creativity Mentor

Join Us and Open Your Eyes To the Magic That Surrounds You

"This has been so powerful―it’s surprised me. I’m eager to go back and read all I’ve missed. Such incredible richness in this group. Thank you!"
VICKY WHITE, Photographer & Traveler
“Taking the time to read, reflect and write on a personal level, yet being a part of a larger group of creatives was absolutely amazing!"

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I have to do a lot of reading and writing every day?

Absolutely no! This is a very spacious two-week program designed specifically with the Holiday Season in mind. Each day's activity is very simple yet delightful. You'll be able to follow up with ease, and you'll notice how your energy and mood will be uplifted every single day. 

What if I can’t keep up with the daily work during the holiday season?

Don’t worry about that! "Keeping up" is never a problem during this event. And you can skip a day or two. Besides, each day’s activity won’t take you more than 10 or 15 minutes. Also, if you wish, you can take the prompts and activities you'll receive into the early weeks of January. Wouldn’t that be comforting? After this vitalizing creative retreat, you'll feel ready to start the New Year with joyful, new energy.

When will the retreat begin and when will I receive the material?

You can read Cigdem's the Welcome Note and Group Guidelines inside the class area you will log in here as soon as you complete your registration. On December 6, you’ll receive an invitation (to the email address you register with) to come into the private Winter Joy Retreat group space on Facebook so you can get to know your writing companions and enjoy some friendly chats before the event takes start. The program officially begins on December 8.

Can I skip the Facebook group and just write quietly on my own?

Absolutely! Many of the participants in this program are quiet-loving creatives. The Facebook group is optional (although it's usually very lively during each retreat!) It's an extra benefit for those who would like to write and connect with like-hearted folks.

I don't call myself a writer or a photographer. Can I still enroll?

Of course! As long as you love writing and photography and you value value creative expression and self-discovery, you'll enjoy your Winter Joy Retreat experience. 

Do I have to be on my computer to access the class material?

You can access both the entire material and our group space on Facebook easily from your desktop computer, your notebook, your tablet, and even your smartphone

Do I need a professional camera for the contemplative photography activities?

Not at all. The camera of your phone will be perfectly fine.

How do I pay?

You can pay by PayPal or your credit card. If you have a coupon, make sure you enter it in the related space before you complete your purchase.

Who is the facilitator of the Winter Joy Retreat?

Cigdem Kobu, who's a writing facilitator, creativity coach, narrative consultant, and the founder of the School of Peaceful Triumphs, based in New Jersey, USA. Cigdem has a background in film studies, news media, and nonfiction publishing and is also a veteran literary translator of fiction and nonfiction with 33 books completed to date. Through her coaching workshops, writing groups, online courses, and introvert-friendly membership community, Cigdem has served almost one thousand visionary women creatives, coaches, healers, and entrepreneurs across the globe since 2011, helping them create, connect, and thrive with more joy, ease, and impact. Cigdem is an INFP, Earl Grey drinker, Oma to Noah, and lady's maid to a furry diva called Mochi-the-Cat.