Retreats & Facilitation

Valerie offers a wide variety of retreats. As a national Courage & Renewal® Facilitator, Valerie designs and leads retreats based on the Courage & Renewal® Approach, with topics including leadership, mindfulness, diversity and multiculturalism, and more.

  • Are you in transition, facing questions of vocation, life passion, purpose, direction, or meaning?
  • Are you wrestling with issues of retirement, relationships, or underlying life patterns?
  • Do you want to create greater alignment between your inner values and your outer actions, and live with the courage to lean into action with both integrity and authenticity?
  • Do you long to learn new life skills that empower you to speak and listen in a way that fosters greater authentic connection?
  • Are you seeking rest and renewal, a time set aside just for you?

Courage & Renewal® Retreats: Cultivating Connection & Open Space for You to Reflect, Renew, and Re-imagine Your Life

Creating a life of meaning and purpose doesn’t come with a ‘how to’ manual. It takes risking asking honest questions of yourself, and maybe facing questions without quick fix, ready-made answers. Your life is unique, irreplaceable and precious, and each day invites you to ask: “How do I want to live this day?”

Valerie offers Courage & Renewal® retreats based on the work of Parker J. Palmer and the Center for Courage & Renewal. In a safe, quiet, spacious, nurturing, and confidential environment, these retreats promote reflection, connection, clarity and insight into important life questions, and a time for rest, renewal and reconnection. Guided by core principles and practices, which include the belief that everyone has an ‘inner teacher’, an inner source of truth, participants engage in contemplative practices to support personal and societal transformation.

Valerie’s retreats offer a variety of creative tools to help you grow and transform. These include seasonal themes and metaphors, poetry, prose, music, gentle guided movement, video, journaling, stories from various wisdom traditions, periods of silence, mindfulness meditation practices, and nature. The retreats include periods of quiet self-reflection, something that is too often in very short supply in our busy lives, as well as large and small group discussions to connect with like-minded, supportive people, AND much laughter and lightness.

Valerie is available to design and lead a Courage & Renewal® Retreat in a format that suits your needs: a series of retreats, a weekend, a full- or partial day-long format, to help build a community of trust that supports you.

Courage & Renewal® Retreats are ideal for you if you want to:

  • Reflect and then act on your values
  • Connect with like-minded people in a safe and supportive community
  • Regain access to your own inner wisdom that will guide you to greater meaning
  • Learn to hold tension of personal and professional concerns in generative and life-giving ways
  • Rest, renew, and reconnect
  • Align your work in the world with your values
  • Seek clarity around issues of vocation, transition, life direction, life passion, and life purpose


“Valerie Brown is a thoughtful and sensitive leader. Her workshops provide a sense of serenity and peace. She offers a quiet place in a spinning world.”
— Connie Gemson, Open Heart Retreat 2012

“Valerie Brown’s workshops are a powerful environment for creativity, personal insight, and awakening. With thoughtful reflection exercises, movement, poetry, and inspiration, she weaves a supportive community for transformative change.”
— Peggy Bartlett, Open Heart Retreat, 2012


Check the events page for dates and locations.

Retreats & Facilitation Services

Named one of the best courageous books of 2014 by the Center for Courage & Renewal, this book is for educational leaders who feel overwhelmed, stressed, and exhausted, and offers explicit practices to help readers avoid burnout and become the mindful, poised, effective leaders they were meant to be. Loaded with real-time encouragement with portraits of educational leaders who are incorporating mindfulness practices, like attentive breathing, mindful walking about the school building, or calming pauses in the office throughout the school day, this book is a must-have guide.

Valerie Brown and Kirsten Olson. Corwin, December 2014. 344 pages.

The Road that Teaches: Lessons in Transformation through Travel.

Not your average travel guidebook, this book explores some of the world’s great pilgrimages, destinations, and the author’s reflections on the lessons she learned from them. Read this book to discover how travel can be transformational, how to be more mindful while traveling and every day, the adventures of traveling alone, the delights of encountering new people and places, ancient pilgrimage journeys and sacred travel worldwide.

Valerie Brown. QuakerBridge Media, 2012, 152 pages. Also available from QuakerBooks.

Heartfulness: Renewing Heart, Mind, and Spirit on Retreat and Beyond Valerie

Valerie Brown guides readers toward renewal of mind, heart, and spirit by encouraging them to take time away from the busyness of their lives through retreat. Drawing on her experience as a retreatant and retreat leader, she introduces readers to opportunities for personal restoration within a variety of focused retreats. She wonders how Friends experience of expectant waiting influences the retreat process and how retreats influence expectant waiting. She encourages the “big questions”—What has meaning and purpose in my life? What am I avoiding? What brings me most alive?—and offers specific practices for retreatants to cultivate in everyday life.

Valerie Brown. Pendle Hill Pamphlet #421.

Quakers are advised to begin worship by “centering down.” This is the first step in a Friend’s intention to wait in “holy expectancy,” to be drawn by the Light into communion with God. Centering prayer is also a practice used by Christian mystics to prepare for contemplation, and “centering” describes the meditation of a Buddhist in pursuit of that deep awareness called “mindfulness.” Valerie Brown is an explorer and teacher of centering practices, a Buddhist, and an active Friend. Drawing upon her own experiences and wide studies, she describes for Friends how these various traditions can offer us a better understanding and preparedness for our precious, elusive, mysterious, and simple practice of centering into worship. Discussion questions included.

Valerie Brown, Pendle Hill Pamphlet #407. 2014.