Full Circle: Painting and Writing Through

The Layered Self

March 23-29, 2019

Join writer, Valley Haggard and artist, Linda Laino for a magical and luxurious week long retreat of painting mandalas and writing our stories in beautiful San Miguel de Allende, México. Beginnings, endings, cycles and circles create the patterns of our lives.

*Explore the layered self in an intimate, supportive group and exquisite setting

*Experience meditation, centering and creativity through the mediums of paint and pen

*Experiment with technique as you delve into your own unique expression 

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Retreat Details 

Retreat Theme

What do writing and mandala painting have in common? They can both uncover layers to the self. They can both help access the source from where we acquire our energy, self-worth, creativity and spontaneity. This retreat is designed to accommodate beginning painters and writers as well as those that make it their life’s work. (see more specifics from Valley and Linda below). In honoring the creative and spontaneous spirit, this 7-day retreat will have beautifully balanced days of painting and writing, along with time for exploration, observation and meditation.

Below is more information on what each day will be like and our daily schedule.


San Miguel de Allende, Mexico is a World Heritage UNESCO puebla magia, not to mention voted one of the best places in the world to live by Conde Nast Traveler 2 years in a row. (more about San Miguel below).

Linda has lived in San Miguel for over 6 years and has been able to use her contacts there to insure participants take home some wonderful local flavor along with their written and painted explorations.

The Retreat Venue

We are sure you will be delighted with the accommodations and facilities! Casa de la Noche is a former bordello steeped in the history and energy from artists and musicians who passed through there in the 40’s and 50’s. Today, owner Barbara Poole has been running the boutique hotel as a B&B and top notch event space for 16 years.  Being an artist herself, the hotel reflects her creative, eclectic sensibility. The spacious and well-appointed rooms and courtyards create a sense of old world discovery but with all the modern conveniences. It’s proximity to centro is a mere few blocks making it a super convenient and easy home base from which to explore San Miguel.


All materials will be provided as part of the package, but of course, you should feel free to bring whatever you think will help you create your best experience: favorite journal/sketchbook, media or writing pen.

Retreat Cost

We have designated four price structures according to the type of room you prefer. The prices range from $2100 - $2700. Please read what is included in the price, then explore the four room options.

Check out your choices of room levels here!

Retreat Price Includes:

  • Twenty-Two + hours, combined writing and mandala painting instruction     

  • Accommodations

  • Retreat facility with studio space available 24 hours.

  • All basic art materials

  • A copy of Surrender Your Weapons Writing to Heal by Valley Haggard

  • A mandala card 6-pack from original paintings by Linda Laino

  • Mexican breakfast daily at Casa de la Noche

  • Roundtrip airport shuttle (BJX or QTO only)

  • Welcome evening with heavy hors d’oeuvres and margaritas

  • Group excursion to El Escondido Hot Springs

  • Group morning class at El Charco de Ingenio Botanical Gardens

  • Optional 30-60 minute private session with Linda and/or Valley TBA

  • Final group critique/share with a Mexican Buffet/Margaritas at Casa de la Noche

Room Levels

Class descriptions

Deposit and Registration

In order to hold your spot, please register by December 1, 2018. Special early bird discount of $100 if deposit paid by October 15. Payment balance is due on or before January 25th.

To register, select the room you want and click on the PayPal button to make an $800 deposit. Your total registration fee depends on the accommodation you select.


There will be no deposit refunds issued. There is limited refund for the balance before Februrary first, with conditions. Please email Linda or Valley if there is a need for consideration.


If, due to unforeseen circumstances, Valley and Linda must cancel the retreat, 90% of monies paid will be refunded.


Retreat price does not include your travel costs to San Miguel. As always, for best flights, we suggest you book far in advance. Reservations on your own must be made to BJX (Leon) or QRO (Queretaro) airports in order to accommodate the free shuttle service ($60 value). If for other reasons, you prefer to fly into Mexico City, please ask Linda for options to get to San Miguel (almost 4 hours). As a precaution, we suggest that you purchase travel insurance. If you have any other specific concerns about travelling to Mexico, please email Linda and she will be happy to help!


Breakfast is included with all room costs. Unless specified, you will be responsible for your lunches and dinners in SMA. There are many options and a suggested list will be provided.

schedule of retreat events

March 23: Arrival, welcome gathering with heavy hors d’oeuvres and margaritas.

March 24: Writing and painting. Lunch and dinner on your own.

March 25: Writing at Charco del Ingenio Botanical Gardens in the morning. Painting. Lunch and dinner on your own.

March 26: Writing and painting. Lunch and dinner on your own. Meet for drinks at Rosewood rooftop for sunset. (not included in retreat price)

March 27: El Escondido Hot Springs in the morning. Lunch at Hot Springs (lunch not included) /free afternoon for individual consults with Valley and Linda OR take afternoon off to explore or do your own thing. Linda and Valley will be available in the studio.

March 28: Writing and painting. Lunch on your own. Farewell Mexican buffet at Casa de la Noche with critique and share.

March 29: Breakfast, wrap-up, shuttle.

Note: The above schedule may change slightly depending on weather, needs of the group, or special events in town.

daily Itinerary

8:00 - 9:00: Breakfast at Casa de la Noche

9:30- 12:00:   Writing

12:00 - 3:00: Lunch/Rest/Explore

3:30 - 6:00: Painting

6:00 - Dinner on your own

Teacher Bios

Linda Laino is an artist, writer and teacher who has been making art in one form or another for over 35 years. Holding an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University, she enjoys playing with words as much as form and color. Since 2012, she has resided in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico where the surreal atmosphere and sensuous colors have wormed their way into her paintings. The last few years have found her making art at residencies around the world, most recently in France and Spain. Finding beautiful things on the ground is a favorite pastime. Her art can be seen at www.lindalaino.com. Some of her essays and poetry can be found on Elephant Journal, The New Engagement,  Sheila-Na-Gig Journal, Life In 10 Minutes and her blog, www.wordsandpictures.lindalaino.com

Photos of Linda by Ginger Bandoni

Valley Haggard is the author of The Halfway House for Writers (2015) and Surrender Your Weapons: Writing to Heal (2018). She is the co-editor of Nine Lives: A Life in 10 Minutes Anthology and the founder of the Life in 10 Minutes Project, Podcast and Press, all of which are dedicated to helping people from all walks of life write and tell stories from their lives that are brave and true. Valley has been a Waffle House waitress, a dude ranch cabin girl, a cruise ship stewardess, a book reviewer, and a freelance writer. She leads Life in 10 Minutes workshops, living room tours and retreats around Virginia and co-founded a writing center in the heart of Richmond, Virginia. She lives with her hound dog, two cats, one bearded dragon, a husband and a son in the house she grew up in. Visit her at www.lifein10minutes.com to learn more and to submit your own stories, 10 minutes at a time.