"Clean out a corner
of your mind and
creativity will instantly fill it.

- Dee Hock

Creativity is allowing oneself
to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.

- Scott Adams

Joy in looking and comprehending is nature's
most beautiful gift.

- Albert Einstein


What does it mean to live on or off the land? Some may have a dream to walk away from their current situation and find a small piece of land to start over. For most, this is likely to remain a dream, but for Val it was almost a last resort to escape a toxic work environment (in a career where tenure guarantees long employment). This has been a healing place for Val and hopes are that it will also impact visitors who cannot drop everything to start a new life.

The biggest lesson so far is that it all takes time, especially the learning curve and problem-solving that occurs in facility management. The weather adds another dose of variables that can affect the garden or the availability of nutrients for the animals. As of fall 2020, there are 15 chickens and one rooster, a peafowl couple, a tripod Pyrenees guard dog, camp cats, an art studio mate black rabbit, and a dozen donkeys – some standard, some miniature, and some in between (as a donkey breeding program so if you might be in the market just ask which ones may be available to go to a new loving home).

There are lofty goals to transform the property into a larger production of vegetables, fruit, and flowers. It's important to hold onto blue sky dreams like lavender fields, but live in the moment and discovery what what's here. For now, the bamboo grove, raised bed garden and the array of fruit trees are a great start. What can happen in two decades? Come back often to see the transformation.


While many of us are immersed in daily chores to maintain our lives and may engage in those chores begrudgingly, there really is a power of active engagement in physical labor and repetitive tasks such as washing dishes in warm water or pulling weeds in a garden as a vital aspect of energizing the human and inner creative spirit.


This place is not a resort.


There is not a big staff waiting behind the scenes to take care of you.


If you want to break up your home routine by active participation in the farm environment, that aspect can be integrated into your retreat - just ask.

CAMPFIRE stories
in the round
* bring your instruments
the western highland rim
is filled with limestone which is a perfect filtration for water.
COOK & DINE together.
value the real face time that can happen in a digital detox
* inquire about food service, shopping services, or cooking workshops
bring your BIKE, HIKING shoes, KAYAK or other recreational supplies to enjoy the surrounding area including the buffalo river
the LEMON LODGE is fully furnished and includes Eco-Friendly supplies including recycled/septic safe TP.
Extra attention in disinfection and cleaning between guests in the age of covid is a top priority and a livable wage is paid to the cleaning assistant.

All linens are washed on site with chemical free eco-friendly detergent. Due to various sleeping habits, beds will be prepared with fitted sheet only and a pillow with flat sheet and blankets/duvets for each bed.
ask about the forest therapy guided sessions.
when the sauna and outdoor tub is a physical space not just a dream, you'll see that image on the site.
it's a wonder wanderful place


Imagine being in the hamster wheel driving in the H.O.V. lane with no visible way to get off and move into the slower lane. Sometimes the obstacles in life keep coming because they are intended to be learning lessons for us to shift gears. Feeling shackled and a complete lack of respect with 20 years of experience in my discipline and role as a professor confronted by an enduring hostile work environment, Val encouraged herself to take her own advice and stop staying "if I could, I would..." and figure out how to make those dreams a reality.

The retreat center was born and has been a slow, yet rewarding process.


When reflecting on the strengths and skills to forge a new life on an unpaved path, a recognition of hospitality and a connection to the land rose to the surface. However, as a life-long learner this also combined with a philosophy of getting lost and the art of accidental adventure. After years of integrating these concepts into a creative curriculum, this is now the inherent foundation of the creativity retreat center.

As a creative person, Val is a photographer, a budding potter, a crafty gal who loves to sew, and a trained graphic designer who spent much of adult life in small size classrooms and as an advisor. She is a people person with hospitality experience such as restaurant server and catering assistant, a nanny for numerous families, and even seasonal work in Florida for the Mouse running a few rides and making sure people were safe while watching daily parades or evening fireworks. She grew up moving every few years and being a Girl Scout enabled her to make friends and connections, and when she graduated from college she returned to the organization as a volunteer leader coordinating everything from meetings to camping trips. In 2007, she coordinated and conducted a graphic design study abroad course in London and then in the winter of 2013 managed a similar feat of two weeks in Japan with a highly talented co-coordinator in World Literature. With the ability to think on one's feet in the classroom or in another country with a group in tow, Val can be your ultimate retreat guide and hostess.


In her own lifelong learning endeavors, she has been inspired in her methods from attending design and teaching conferences to reading books such as "The Creative Habit" by Twyla Tharp, "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin, and almost every book written by Malcolm Gladwell. Check out the inspiration and links page for some other titles you may want to dig into.


A Tennessee Retreat is the result of a desire is to create a space where people of various backgrounds have the opportunity to pursue their creative passions in a supportive environment, where people can gather around the dinner table with a roaring fire in the background, to talk, share, commune away from invasions of pesky technology – getting back to craft, getting back to human connections, getting back to nature.

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