About the Writing Immersion Instructors, Jade and Stephen
Every retreat is led by Stephen and Jade Webber. Our philosophy for an optimal retreat experience is to do everything we can to facilitate learning and personal growth. Rather than modeling the classroom, prioritizing the fact that we’re teaching, we focus on facilitating learning through introspection.
An interesting note about the Latin root of the word ‘education’ (educere) is that it means “to lead forth, to raise up.”
We prioritize process and approach above end result. We see creativity as a continual practice. You can expect to be extremely productive and have a lot of fun at a Writing Immersion Retreat. Many participants produce the best work while on a retreat, and they have breakthroughs that open new doors for the future.
Each day at the retreat, just after dinner, we meet as a group to read and share what we’ve been working on. Since these are works in progress, we focus our responses on passages that strike us, and share how the work resonates with us.
“Stephen and Jade are like two trees whose shade shields those in the retreat from distractions or worries. They open their limbs to everyone and let people climb along their trunks of wisdom. They teach all to root ourselves in enriching soil so that we will grow taller and stronger.
The retreat will be some of the most productive time for anyone in a creative process. One feels removed from daily distractions and worries but completely connected and involved with a group of supportive and interesting people.
In a heart beat I would come again. I am a writer and my time at Spannocchia was the most productive time I’ve ever spent at my craft.”
- Rachel, 2011 Writing Immersion at Spannocchia
We select retreat participants from a variety of backgrounds and skill levels. This makes for a fruitful and dynamic experience. The challenge for us as instructors is to meet the needs of each participant on an individual level. We’re creative, and we draw on a wide range of experience.
Over the years, we’ve noticed that each participant’s real needs sometimes differ from their initial expectations. The inspiring environment, the holistic schedule, and the chemistry from peer interaction leads to an experience that is transformative because everyone is encouraged to be who they truly, deeply are. The retreat is coordinated to offer the right factors that lead to producing and sharing creative work that extends from who each person truly is. As a result, participants often rekindle a passion for creativity that reaches years into the past.
Jade and I do everything we can to be innovative and make each retreat a resounding success. This work has been immensely fulfilling for us.
“Don’t be fooled by their youth and beauty, they are the real deal. The Webbers have had successful retreats like this one all over the world.”
-Excerpt from Jen Grisanti’s Huffington Post article on her experience at our 2012 Tulum, Mexico retreat.
Stephen Lloyd Webber is the founder and coordinator for Wellness Immersion Writing Retreats in Italy, Bali,and Mexico.
His poems, short fiction, reviews articles and essays have been published in numerous literary journals, most recently Mind Body Spirit and Green Mountains Review. He has exhibited a musical installation in Oklahoma, sculpture in New Mexico, and has given poetry readings as well as exhibited paintings in New Mexico and Italy.He is the author of Writing From the Inside Out: The Practice of Free-Form Writing
He practices yoga in the Pranakriya tradition as taught by Yoganand Michael Carroll. Currently he is studying Sanskrit with the goal of teaching some of the ancient language’s spiritual insights.
He was born in Kansas, raised in Texas and Oklahoma, lived in Colorado, studied abroad in Nova Scotia, and earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in poetry from New Mexico State University in Las Cruces.
On the first day of spring 2013 he moved to a 10 acre property in rural northern California, where he lives off-grid in a rustic and many-windowed single room cabin tucked into the hillside. It is by no means fancy. The property is in its very early stages, and there is a lot more planting and building to be done. The property’s agricultural focus will be the cultivation of rare and sacred medicinal plants and the brewing of herbal and medicinal meads, ales, teas, essential oils and wines. The agricultural philosophy will be biodynamic, working toward the ideals of permaculture and regenerative design.
The property was purchased with the generous donations of friends and family and follows the model of a gift economy. It is strictly small scale, an invitation-only retreat center for writers, artists and yoga practitioners to practice and collaborate and contribute.
In 2011 he set the New Year’s resolution to put together twenty book-length creative projects. He taught from this experience in his Writing Immersion online courses in which students complete the draft of a book. Currently, he prefers to work individually with writers.
He is an activist for Population Connection and environmental organizations such as 350.org.
To read his interview with Exaclair, click here.
To learn about Stephen’s writing guides, click here. You can sign up to get free creative writing exercises as well.
Jade grew up in southern New Mexico with a love of sunshine and nature. She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting at New Mexico State University and now is in her last year of the Master of Fine Arts program in painting at James Madison University, where she teaches Drawing I.
Her activism work with 350.org earned local sponsorship for a small solar panel installation on housing for the homeless in Las Cruces. She is also an avid supporter for the Orangutan Foundation International program that purchases and protects pristine Borneo rainforest land in perpetuity.
In her paintings, she works both from life and in abstraction, sometimes arriving at portraits of bears and sometimes simply drawing what is directly in front of her. She loves to teach drawing and painting fundamentals like ‘learning to see’ and she loves how these fundamentals enliven daily life. Jade, together with her husband, is often at work on bear-themed children’s books and illustrations, just for fun.
The Hatha yoga classes she leads are taught primarily with eyes closed, focusing on internal practice: compassion and love, radical truth, surrender and devotion. She is open to many lineages of yoga but has studied Pranakriya yoga in depth, earning her 200-hour certification under founder and master Yoganand Micheal Carroll and is currently working on 500-level training. She is an ITM certified Thai yoga massage therapist and massage is often a key component of her yoga classes.
Whenever possible, she rides her bike all around — and she has big side bags for carrying things. She has recently embraced being a food experimentationalist, putting together meals that both taste yummy and are presented beautifully. Though she is no chef, she can make a mean vegetarian sloppy Joe and cucumber salad.
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“For those two weeks in Umbria we all belonged together–and I know the friendships begun there will continue. For me personally, the goal writing and creative exercises helped me to find my writing voice again; it had been buried for a few years and now I’ve got it back. That is one of the greatest gifts I took home with me from the retreat. Thank you, Stephen…”
Sharon, Wellness and Writing retreat member, 2010
“Jade is nurturing and goes beyond the classes to help you individually with your yoga practice. She is gifted with a soothing voice and tremendous skill as a yoga teacher, and honors the authentic wisdom of an ancient practice as she makes it accessible to students of all levels. Her talent as a painter is truly wonderful and her painting workshops allow you to create your own paintings of the scenic landscape. You’ll find yourself noticing everything around you through new eyes.
Stephen is wise beyond his years. As a writing teacher and motivational coach he brings a strength and serenity to the process that is steeped in years of study from well-known experts in personal development and writing. He imparts this knowledge and his own insights in a modest, grounded way allowing you the space to be introspective, authentic, and true to yourself.“
-P.S., Cambridge, MA – 2011 Wellness Immersion Retreat Participant
“Stephen was so gifted at bringing us in to focus on the larger purpose of our choice to write and our practice of writing. For me, the writing advice he gave me was the extra nudge I needed to really feel confident in my ideas, to hone in on them and trust their interplay and organic development as a valuable and interesting process. He offered ongoing support after the retreat, recommended reading, suggestions and other guidance in addition to the focus and encouragement. I felt the retreat exercises brought me to the exact place I needed to be in my writing. They opened and emptied me, so I could let the freshness and clarity into my work and let go of the self-criticism and doubt. In particular, the writing exercise in which we wrote from the perspective ofalready having achieved our most important goals had a huge impact on my writing and on me personally. Clearing away obstacles that were keeping me from what I know I want to do, the exercise brought me closer to the pleasure of achievement, so I could take ownership of it and go home intent on not losing it. The yoga, and especially the breathwork, were, like the painting, a necessary and important part of the retreat experience and my writing process. Clarity, emptiness and stillness were essential to the writing work I was doing, and Jade’s insights and instruction brought them to me continually. The extra work Jade did with me that was tailored to my body’s needs gave me practices and learning to take home with me over and beyond the daily classes. The yoga was gentle and restorative, while still being challenging and transformative. It was just like everything at the retreat, and like the retreat organizers themselves–gentle and restorative, challenging and transformative. I am changed forever by this experience, and I would encourage anyone considering the retreat to allow themselves the same gift. “
-Amick, 2011 Wellness Immersion Retreat Participant – Tuscany
“Stephen and Jade may be the most beautiful people I have ever seen. The genuine kindness that they share, trickles to others and helped me to see the beauty in mistakes and the beauty of a somewhat chaotic world. They are true examples of the cliche “anything is possible.” They created a life that to many seems unrealisitc, yet somehow, they experience everyday. The proof of their happiness and simplistic style of living, made me strive to discover what I wanted from nature and from myself. The retreat was not only a way to become a better writer, but a way to discover who I want to become, using the tools of the lovely book of exercises and poems that Stephen compiled.”
- Jordan, 2011 Wellness and Writing Immersion retreat at Casa della Pace – Italy
“Jade’s and my painting session, between two rainstorms, is my favorite memory. I hadn’t planned to paint, and her encouragement and attention brought out a visual experience of the retreat I know, now, was completely necessary.
I appreciated her allowing me an extra session to finish my piece, and on a personal level, really felt as if my interest and enjoyment of it, and her willingness to cultivated that, made for a really peaceful and delightful new experience of painting, and a special connection between the two of us — when I turned around, I saw she’d painted my portrait.”
-Amick, 2011 Wellness Immersion Retreat Participant – Tuscany
“Jade and Stephen are incredibly kind, receptive and calm teachers. Just looking at them makes me feel relaxed–their energy is positive, good and zen. I think every single person in the world could benefit from a retreat like this (specifically, theirs) because it provides a centering and necessary exploration of one’s psyche while communing with nature, listening and practicing Stephen’s wisdom, and doing Jade’s centering and enlivening yoga. This is a great way to take care of one’s soul. I am so so glad to have done this – I had no idea what to expect (first experience with a retreat) and I can truly say (even if cliche) that it was life-changing.”
-H.S., 2011 Wellness Immersion – Tuscany Retreat Participant
Stephen and Jade do not merely offer excellent instruction in writing, yoga and painting, they give gentle lessons on how to live, how to create your own authentic life, how to befriend obstacles and stretch your mind, body and spirit in ways that celebrate you and the divine within you. In love with one another and with the path of service, nurturing, wellness and creativity they have chosen, Jade and Stephen create an environment in which retreat participants are able to learn much about life, love, passion, joy and release if they are open to it.
These two are a remarkable pair. And what they have to give in their particular beauty and individuality is impossible to duplicate. The intention and authenticity with which they move through the world is a marvelous example of lives intentionally and joyfully lived for those in their orbit.
-Bonnie, 2012 Wellness Immersion, Tulum Mexico
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