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Life Letters Retreat at

The Biltmore Estate

Asheville, NC 2023

One of our most popular writing retreats is back for 2023!

This impactful retreat, led by Nancy Sharp, is geared toward people of all backgrounds who care deeply about sharing what matters most—family and personal lore, deeply held values, life lessons, and the intent and stories behind the causes they care about—as a way to live with greater intention and meaning now and in the future. Nancy is an award-winning author, trainer, and storytelling coach. So many of us talk about wanting to convey our most important life experiences but most of us never get around to putting them on paper.

Set amid 75 acres of formal and informal gardens and 8,000 acres of Blue Ridge Mountains, the Biltmore House in historic Asheville, NC, was commissioned by George Vanderbilt in 1889 and is known as America’s Largest Home®. This spectacular venue is the ideal setting to step away from everyday distractions and reflect upon your very own life letter.   

The Life Letters Retreat is open to individuals as well as couples. You’ll map your life’s narrative to date and be expertly led to write a personalized document that you can be proud of. No matter your writing experience, you’ll walk away with craft techniques about storytelling that will strengthen your voice on the page. You might even forge a path to publication.

Note that the life letter, which can also be called an ethical will or legacy letter, is not about facing mortality. It is about living with greater awareness and purpose, which is why sharing it with family and communities is cause for celebration. Benefits include greater understanding and acceptance of one’s self, greater alignment with one’s values, and a deep sense of purpose. Many individuals also cite stronger family relationships across the generations. The life letter can be amended over the years and will become an enduring, tangible part of your legacy. 

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to tell the stories, history, and experiences that have shaped your life’s journey. It’s a gift to you, your loved ones, and your community.

Nancy Sharp on

Colorado Public Radio:


Listen to this impactful story here. You can read Dr. Silvers' Life Letter here.

Testimonials

"Nancy Sharp does life-changing work.

- William Silvers, M.D.

"I've wanted to write a legacy document for my family for many years. With Nancy's guidance, I finally did it."

- Evi Makovsky

"Nancy is an extraordinary teacher and muse for anyone looking to reflect more deeply on meaningful life experiences.

- Damon McLeese

"Through Nancy’s expert guidance and individual coaching, participants experienced the act of transmitting values to the next generation in meaningful and intentional ways. There is no doubt that this work will enhance philanthropy both to the Rose Community Foundation, as well as in our greater Denver community."

- Judy Altenberg, Rose Community Foundation

"Nancy sees things in each student that makes them see something purposeful in themselves and one another, leading to real growth. Anyone who works with her is lucky to come under her spell." 

- Don Donato
"Nancy is masterful at her craft, meeting people where they are at in life, helping them overcome resistance and barriers, and bringing out their deepest thoughts and sentiments."

- Eric Sondermann

"We all need gurus to guide us, and Nancy Sharp has become mine as I strive to find meaning in my life story, and share it with loved ones.

- Leland Rudofsky

Applications for our April 2023 Life Letters Retreat are now open!


Retreat Dates:

April 18 - 22, 2023

All interested participants are encouraged to apply by January 31st, 2023.


Life Letters Retreat Leader:


Nancy Sharp is a sought-after speaker, trainer, author, and story muse. She never set out to change people’s lives, but hard life experience led her to do just that. Today, Nancy helps others to leave their mark in the world, often as a written legacy for loved ones and future generations. "Transformative," is the word clients repeatedly use to describe her work. Nancy’s gift for fostering meaningful storytelling engenders radical empathy, purpose, and deep connection and community.
 
Nancy’s corporate clients include the New York Life Insurance Company, Eagle Strategies, Lincoln Financial, Virginia Credit Union, Dallas Bar Association, Women’s Estate Planning Council, University of Denver, American Academy of Psychotherapists, New York's 92nd Street Y, The Rose Community Foundation, and numerous other businesses and groups. She also works with private clients in every corner of the globe.


Nancy holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College and is a certified instructor in Guided Autobiography. Winner of the Colorado Book Award for Creative Nonfiction and First Book Finalist for Books for a Better Life, her debut memoir Both Sides Now: A True Story of Love, Loss, and Bold Living is a portrait of the surprising turns life takes and the resilience it takes to keep stepping forward. She is also the author of the picture book Because the Skyis Everywhere and has ghostwritten several other works, including a family legacy book for a client that led to an interview with Warren Buffett in his Omaha office and to her becoming an associate producer on a forthcoming documentary called Who Are the Marcuses?

Nancy has been published in several essay anthologies, and articles, essays, columns, and letters by her have appeared in The New York Times, AARP’s The Ethel, Katie Couric's Wake-Up Call, Next Avenue, The Huffington Post, journals for the American Academy of Psychotherapists and the University of Colorado Hospital’s Center for Bioethics and the Humanities, and elsewhere. She has guest lectured at the Lighthouse Writers Workshop, Regis University's MFA Program, The Writing Center at Marshall University, and The New School. Nancy teaches storytelling and legacy writing workshops online and hosts creativity retreats. She lives in Denver, CO with her family and absurdly cute Havanese dog. Email nsharp@nancysharp.net for inquiries.


About The Biltmore Estate



Lodging at The Biltmore

The Life Letters Retreat takes place at The Biltmore. Only here will you find America’s Largest Home® nestled amid 8,000 acres of manicured gardens and thoughtfully designed landscapes, an award-winning Winery, and myriad dining, shopping, and outdoor pursuits…all in one unforgettably beautiful place.


*Each participant will have their own room. If you would like to bring your spouse/partner please let us know. Tuition will be discounted for your spouse/partner less the cost of the hotel room.



2023 Life Letters Retreat Schedule

**Sample schedule, exact times and locations are subject to change. The official schedule will be sent out a few weeks before our trip.**

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

4:00 PM: Hotel check-in begins.

5:00 PM – 8:00 PM: Meet & greet happy hour followed by dinner at the hotel.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

8:00 AM – 9:00 AM: Group Breakfast in Olmsted Room.

9:00 AM – 11:00 AM: Workshop in Olmsted Room, including presentation of symbolic objects; Through the Decades™ exercise to map key events, themes, and narrative threads.

11:00 AM – 11:15 AM: Break.

11:15 AM – 1:00 PM: Workshop in Olmsted Room, including detailed history and overview of life letters.  Reading of sample letters; personalizing the document – salutation, values, unique circumstances; Identifying dominant theme and/or main components for the body of the life letter; Think about how the life letter might support or clarify the legal will; Reflect on stories, poems, letters and/or other items that you may wish to include in the life letter or keepsake box.

1:00 PM – 4:00 PM: Lunch on your own/free time.

4:00 PM: Visit historic Biltmore House and the Gardens behind Biltmore House. Happy hour in the gardens.

6:30 PM: Dinner at Stable Café.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

8:00 AM – 9:00 AM: Group Breakfast in Olmsted Room.

9:00 AM – 11:00 AM: Workshop in Olmsted Room, including outline life letter document; Begin drafting life letter document using storytelling and craft techniques to enhance the impact.

11:00 AM -11:30 AM: Break.

11:30 AM – 1:00 PM: Workshop in Olmsted Room where we will continue drafting the life letter document.

1:00 PM – 3:00 PM: Lunch on your own/free time. Nancy and her colleague, Lisa Culhane, also an experienced life letters and storytelling guide, will be available for small group coaching.

3:00 PM: Explore Downtown Asheville, with more than 200+ locally-owned stores, boutiques, art galleries and restaurants.

6:00 PM: Dinner in Asheville. Restaurant TBD.

Friday, April 21, 2023

8:00 AM – 9:00 AM: Group Breakfast in Olmsted Room.

9:00 PM – 11:30 AM: Put finishing touches on life letters document; Decide when and how to present your life letter.

Instructor Meetings  

11:30 AM - 3:00 PM - Lunch on your own/Free Time.

3:00 PM: Celebratory Reading of Life Letters. 

5:00 PM: Tour Biltmore Winery.

6:30 PM: Dinner at Bistro.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

11:00 AM: Retreat/Hotel Check out.

Weeks Ahead: Send us your life letter to be printed and assembled into a keepsake folder and box. Go forward with the peace of mind to live your values.

Tuition

Tuition is $3,995 and includes the following:
  • Daily breakfast and four nights at the historic Biltmore Estate.
  • Life Letters Retreat, led by Nancy Sharp.
  • Personalized guidance and coaching by Nancy Sharp and Lisa Culhane.
  • Afternoon group activities including visits to The Biltmore House and Gardens, Downtown Asheville, and The Biltmore Winery.
  • Opening night reception and dinner.
  • Closing night happy hour reception and reading.
  • A once in a lifetime experience.
  • Life Letter Keepsake Folder & Box: an enduring gift for you, your loved ones, and community.
  • Note: If you would like to bring your spouse/partner please let us know. Tuition will be discounted for your spouse/partner less the cost of the hotel room.
  • Expanded FAQ at the bottom of this page.


Application & General FAQ

What is the application deadline?

Applications for our April 2023 Life Letters Retreat with Nancy Sharp are now open and will close on January 31st, 2023. Early applications are encouraged.

What is your COVID policy?

It is the responsibility of attendees of Writing Workshops to make sure they are vaccinated and boostend in accordance with federal and state guidelines. If the state of North Carolina or the United States government forbids entry to the state of North Carolina, or if The Biltmore closes, for the dates of April 18th -22nd, 2023, Writing Workshops will offer a full refund for program fees. Writing Workshops will not reimburse for any airline tickets or additional trip-related expenses incurred. If the retreat takes place on the dates planned, no program fees will be reimbursed, regardless of attendance.

What will my application include? The answers to the following questions:


  • What excites you most about being accepted into this workshop? Why do you think you’re a good fit for this workshop?
  • What is your comfort level writing autobiographically? Have you ever journaled? Are you a letter writer? Ever been published?
  • Who are you intending to share your life letter document with? Family? Community? Both?
  • Tell us about a symbolic object that has great significance. Family heirloom? Painting? Handwritten note?

When will I know if I've been accepted to the workshop?

Our goal is to provide an intimate and memorable retreat so that participants can find meaning during and after the retreat. We will accept applicants on a rolling basis until the retreat is full and then begin waitlists. Writers are encouraged to apply early.

How much does it cost?

Tuition is $3,995.

Are Payment Plans Available?

Yes. Accepted writers will have the option to pay their tuition in full or  opt for a payment plan divided into equal monthly payments by selecting Shop Pay or Affirm (for U.S. & Canadian residents) at checkout.

What does tuition include? 


-Daily breakfast and four nights at the historic Biltmore Estate.
-Life Letters Retreat, led by Nancy Sharp.
-Personalized guidance and coaching by Nancy Sharp and Lisa Culhane.
-Afternoon group activities including visits to The Biltmore House and Gardens, Downtown Asheville, and The Biltmore Winery.
-Opening night reception and dinner.
-Closing night happy hour reception and reading.
-A once in a lifetime experience.
-Life Letter Keepsake Folder & Box: an enduring gift for you, your loved ones, and community.
-Note: If you would like to bring your spouse/partner please let us know. Tuition will be discounted for your spouse/partner less the cost of the hotel room.
-Note: accepted writers will have the option to pay their tuition in full or  opt for a payment plan divided into equal monthly payments by selecting  Shop Pay or Affirm (for U.S. & Canadian residents) or Lay-Buy (for applicants  outside of North America) at checkout.


What is tuition payment schedule? 

If your application is accepted, full tuition is due within 7 days of acceptance. You can pay your tuition in full or opt for a payment plan by selecting Affirm or Shop Pay at checkout. 

What is your Refund policy?

Tuition is nonrefundable 7 days after tuition is paid, regardless of attendance. If a refund is requested up to 7 days after tuition payment, all but a $500 deposit will be refunded.

Where is the hotel and workshop venue?

Set amid 75 acres of formal and informal gardens and 8,000 acres of Blue Ridge Mountains, the Biltmore House in historic Ashville, NC, was commissioned by George Vanderbilt in 1889 and is known as America’s Largest Home ®. Asheville Regional Airport is the nearest airport to the Biltmore. The address for the entrance to Biltmore Estate is 1 Lodge St, Asheville, NC 28803.

Can I bring my spouse/partner? 

If you would like to bring your spouse/partner please let us know. Tuition will be discounted for your spouse/partner less the cost of the hotel room.

How late can I apply? 

We will accept applications through January 31st, 2023.

What will happen if Nancy Sharp is physically unable to attend for any reason?

In the event the Life Letters Retreat workshop leader, Nancy Sharp, is physically unable to attend the retreat for any reason, Lisa Culhane will step in to lead the retreat in Nancy's place. Lisa Culhane is a Martha Beck certified life coach and Guided Autobiography instructor. She has also completed the life letters experience with Nancy.

What will you do with my email?

We respect your privacy. We will only use your email to send you  information about Writing Workshops. We won't sell or rent your  email to other organizations.

I have a question not answered here.

Please contact us and we’ll reply promptly. You can also Chat with us (lower left of your screen).