Tag Archives: nonfiction

Day of the Dead 2019 Women’s Writing Retreat: How Memory Inspires Us

Arrive Wednesday, October 30 and leave Monday, November 4, 2019. The retreat can accommodate up to 10 women. You have a year to plan!

We gather for Day of the Dead 2019 in the traditional Zapotec village of Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico to write with intention for five nights and four days. Day of the Dead inspires us to revisit our memories of people and places, to go deep and then deeper, and to write in whatever genre speaks to us: memoir, journaling, fiction, personal essay, creative nonfiction, and poetry.

New and seasoned writers are welcome. Come to kindle and rekindle the writer’s life.

Cost is $1,095 per person for a shared room, and $1,395 for a private room. A 50% deposit will reserve your space.

During this time, Oaxaca honors her ancestors: parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, young ones lost to tragedy. Loss surrounds us: loss of time, loss of relationships, loss of self and identity, loss of a loved one or someone with whom closure was incomplete.

Day of the Dead Altar

It is also a celebration of life, the continuum, the link between the generations before and the world we inhabit. During the workshop we discuss Day of the Dead symbols, meaning and concepts, comparing Mexican beliefs with those from our own cultures to spark memory and creativity. Perhaps we explore this in writing or use it as a device to trigger imagination.

Day of the Dead offers each of us an opportunity to explore the tenor of life, and the meaning of life and death, transition, passage, and relationships. Memory is powerful. Recall gives us permission to exhume and revisit, to sit with what is at the surface or buried deep within, to see beyond the mask. Writing gives outlet to self-expression whether your goal is to publish or not.

Day of the Dead, handmade tin, folds to 10-1/4×6-1/2″. For Sale, $95 + $8 mailing

Teotitlan del Valle is our base. It is an ancient weaving village about thirty minutes beyond the hubbub of the city where Day of the Dead rituals are practiced much as they were hundreds of years ago.

During our time together, we will integrate our writing practice with visits to San Pablo Villa de Mitla cemetery and a home altar on the morning of November 1 with a local weaver friend. Then, on the evening of November 2 we will go with a local family to the Teotitlan del Valle cemetery to guide the difuntos back to their resting places.

Calavera Artist, hand-painted, 8-1/2″ high x 3″ wide. For Sale, $85 + $8 mailing

Want to buy Muertos decor? Send an email.

There will be optional daily activities in our schedule: gentle yoga, afternoon walks, and mini-seminars on writing topics such as writing effective description and dialogue, grammar, or submitting creative work for publication. Each person will have a private coaching session, too.

Roses on the writing table with journal notes

Planned Itinerary: 2019

  • Wednesday, October 30: Arrive and check-in to our retreat space. Group dinner. Introductions.
  • Thursday, October 31: Morning yoga (optional), breakfast, writing workshop, lunch, afternoon independent writing, optional activities, group dinner, coaching session
  • Friday, November 1:  Morning yoga (optional), breakfast, visit to Mitla cemetery and home altar, independent writing, lunch,                afternoon workshop, group dinner, coaching session
  • Saturday, November 2:  Morning yoga (optional), breakfast, writing workshop, lunch, afternoon independent writing, visit to Teotitlan del Valle cemetery, dinner on your own
  • Sunday, November 3:  Morning yoga (optional) breakfast, writing workshop, lunch, afternoon independent writing, optional                    activities, group reading and celebration dinner
  • Monday, November 4:  Breakfast and depart

We reserve the right to make itinerary changes and substitutions as necessary.

You can add-on days in Teotitlan del Valle or Oaxaca before or after the retreat at your own expense. We can arrange transportation for you to/from the airport and to/from the city at your own expense.

What is included?

  • Complete instruction with four workshop sessions
  • 4 dinners
  • 5 breakfasts
  • 4 lunches
  • 5 nights lodging
  • transportation to Mitla cemetery and altar
  • daily gentle yoga (optional)
  • mini-seminars on writing topics
  • one coaching session

Please bring a photo of a loved one. We will build a group altar, too.


Meet Robin Greene, Writer-Editor-Professor

http://www.robingreene-writer.com/artist-statement/

We are pleased that Robin Greene is returning to lead this intensive writer’s retreat. This will be her eighth year teaching with us to rave reviews.

Novelist and Poet Robin Greene in Oaxaca, Mexico

Robin Greene is Professor of English and Writing and Director of the Writing Center at Methodist University in Fayetteville, NC, where she held the McLean Endowed Chair in English from 2013-2016. Robin has published two collections of poetry (Memories of Light and Lateral Drift), two editions of a nonfiction book (Real Birth: Women Share Their Stories), and a novel (Augustus: Narrative of a Slave Woman). Robin’s second novel, The Shelf Life of Fire, is forthcoming from Light Messages Publishing in spring 2019, and Robin is currently working on a sequel.

Robin is a past recipient of a North Carolina-National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Writing, and has published over ninety pieces of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction in literary journals. She has received two teaching awards, the latest of which, the Cleveland Award, received in 2017, is the most prestigious award offered by her university. Robin has given over a hundred academic presentations, literary readings, and writing workshops in a variety of venues throughout the US.

Additionally, Robin is a registered yoga teacher (RYT200), cofounder and editor of Longleaf Press, and cofounder of Sandhills Dharma Group, a Buddhist meditation group. She holds a M.A. in English from Binghamton University and a M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Art at Norwich University.

Day of the Dead, Some Links to Culture and Traditions

What is a Workshop Session? The group meets daily for three hours to actively listen to each other’s writing, giving supportive and constructive feedback about what resonates or not. We offer guidelines for the process. Everyone takes a turn to read and everyone participates. Writers may accept or reject suggestions. Workshops offer an important learning tool for writers to gain feedback about how their words are communicated and understood.

How to Register:  Cost is $1,095 per person for a shared room, and $1,395 for a private room. A 50% deposit will reserve your space. Send us an email to say you want to attend and if you want a shared or private room. We will send you a PayPal invoice to secure your space.

Reservations and Cancellations:  We accept payment with PayPal. We will send you an itemized invoice when you tell us you are ready to register. After September 15, 2018, refunds are not possible. You may send a substitute in your place. If you cancel on or before September 15, 2018 via email, we will refund 50% of your deposit.

Required–Travel Health/Accident Insurance: We require that you carry international accident/health/$50,000 emergency evacuation insurance. Proof of insurance must be sent at least 30 days before departure. In addition, we will send you by email a PDF of a witnessed Waiver of Responsibility, holding harmless Norma Schafer and Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC. We ask that you return this to us by email 30 days before departure. Unforeseen circumstances happen! Be certain your passport has at least six months on it before it expires from the date you enter Mexico!

How to Get To Oaxaca: United Airlines operates direct flights from Houston. American Airlines operates direct flights from DFW. Delta Airlines has a codeshare with AeroMexico with a connection to Oaxaca from Mexico City. All other major airlines fly to Mexico City where you can made independent connections on Interjet, and VivaAerobus. Check Skyscanner for schedules and fares before you book.  Note: I always book directly with the carrier for better customer service.

Plane Tickets, Arrivals/Departures: Please send us your plane schedule at least 30 days before the trip. This includes name of carrier, flight numbers, arrival and departure time from Oaxaca. We can arrange a Teotitlan del Valle taxi driver to pick you up from the airport or in the city to bring you to the retreat.

Workshop Details and Travel Tips: Before the workshop begins, we will email you study tour details and documents that includes travel tips and information.

To get your questions answered and to register, contact Norma Schafer. This retreat is produced by Norma Schafer, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat 2015: Lifting Your Creative Voice

Announcing the 5th Annual Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat.  Arrive Friday, March 6, depart Saturday, March 14, 2015–8 nights, 9 days with market tour,  plus options for traditional Oaxaca cooking class, and temescal* sweat lodge.

SOLD OUT!  JOIN THE JULY 28-AUGUST 6, 2015 SESSION.

Group2 You are a woman with something to say. You keep journals, notes, drafts of unpublished material. Or, you dream of writing and never have. Ideas percolate and you want to capture and develop them. Perhaps you have written and/or published a while ago, let the writer’s life lapse and you need renewal.  You may want guidance and support to continue an unfinished piece or publish it.  The Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat: Lifting Your Creative Voice is your place to learn, express yourself, and be the woman who writes. A_WritingRetreat-29  WomenWritingReading-6 With published author/poet and university professor Robin Greene‘s guidance and coaching, you’ll gain knowledge and perspective about the art and craft of writing.   During the workshop you receive writing exercises and triggers, thoughtful discussion, caring feedback, and the simple gift of time to bring up the words and let them flow. YogaFoodWriting-12  A_WritingRetreat-5 Here, you are empowered to tell your story well. Write in the genre that best suits you:  memoir, journal, poetry, creative nonfiction, or fiction.

  • We accommodate novices and experienced writers.
  • We limit enrollment to 9 women to guarantee personal attention in a small group.
WritingChurchTlacolula-6  YogaFoodWriting-10

The daily yoga with Beth Miller enhances your writing.  We tailor the sessions to fit each person’s physical level and needs. As you flex your body, you stretch your imagination.  Yoga develops core strength to find voice and creative center.  This is a perfect combination of the physical and spiritual, says past participant LeeAnn Weigold. YogaFoodWriting-35  A_WritingRetreat-22 What Participants Say

  • I learned I am fully capable of being the writer I dreamed of becoming.
  • The location, teaching and program structure creates a truly transcendent experience of enormous value.
  • I was challenged and that turned out to be exactly what I needed.
  • Far exceeded expectations. Got many suggestions for how to write healing stories.
  • It was wonderful!
  • The combination of writing, yoga, meditation and shared sisterhood is transformational.
  • Oaxaca feels safe, safer than my hometown in the USA.
  • I identified a writing project that engages and excites me.
  • The balance of intensive writing workshops, cultural excursions and yoga lead to a powerful experience on all levels.
  • The feedback was so thoughtful.  I honestly can’t think of anything I would change.
  • Beth’s yoga is the best I have ever experienced.  A perfect combo of the physical and spiritual.

We are based in the Zapotec weaving village of Teotitlan del ValleOaxaca.  Imagine a setting so beautiful that it inspires all the best within you.  Here, amid the flowering Bougainvillea and in the shade of red pomegranates, with the backdrop of 9,000 foot mountain peaks, you will enjoy a rich and rewarding experience. Our all-inclusive workshop is perfect for renewal and self-reflection.  A_WritingRetreat-27  WritingChurchTlacolula-44  A Message from Your Workshop Leader, Author/Poet and Professor Robin Greene “The writing retreat is very relaxed, and in the past four years–yes, this is our fifth!–the participants have been wonderfully supportive and open-hearted. You don’t need to bring any writing, but if you wish, you can–anything from a piece in progress, notebook ideas, some journal entries, or finished work. Oaxaca is a lovely place and finding writing topics is easy. Also, I’ll have plenty of prompts, writing exercises, and suggestions—and, of course, as women write, we energize each other. “As the writing instructor, I like to encourage women to find their individual voices so that the retreat experience is personally meaningful. In addition to one scheduled conference with each participant, I’m available for feedback and coaching throughout our time together.  And, because I teach creative writing, I have a repertoire of techniques and strategies to share with writers at all levels. “While I’m a university professor, this Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat remains my favorite teaching experience.”

YogaFoodWriting-44  A_WritingRetreat-50

We cannot promise that you will win a poetry prize, as did one of our participants after writing her winning poem at the retreat, or be published in literary journals as several past participants have. We CAN promise that you will explore, develop and deepen as a writer. A_WritingRetreat-36  A_WritingRetreat-31 You’ll have an opportunity to write on your own during open time in the schedule.  And, if you choose, there’s also plenty to do here. We’ve scheduled options for you to take part in a cooking class, shiatsu massage, and temescal Zapotec women’s sweat lodge.  You might take a walk, a hike, watch birds, and visit village weaving and artists’ studios, too. What the Retreat Includes:

  • 21-hours of group workshop and feedback
  • One-hour individual coaching session
  • Focused sessions to hone your skills: grammar, reading in public, publishing, grammar
  • 7  yoga sessions tailored to your skill level
  • Guided visit to Tlacolula regional market
  • Self-guided map of village
  • 8 nights lodging
  • 8 breakfasts
  • 5 lunches
  • 6 dinners

Optional Added Fee-based Activities:

  • Shiatsu Massage scheduled during the workshop, $50 per person
  • Zapotec/Oaxaca cooking class, arrive early, spend one additional night, includes lunch, dinner, breakfast, $125 per person  (2 person minimum)
  • Temescal women’s sweat lodge, scheduled during the workshop, $50 per person

*What is Temescal?  The pre-Hispanic temescal of Mexico was used by the Aztecs, the Zapotec, the Mixtec, and the Maya for therapeutic and purification purposes—coming-of-age rites, childbirth, the burial of a relative, and other tribal ceremonies. Temescal comes from the indigenous Nahuatl word temazcalli, meaning “bathhouse.” The temescal is a rectangular or round adobe structure with a vaulted roof. In it volcanic rocks are heated, and steam is produced by throwing herbal teas, such as rosemary and eucalyptus, on the rocks. The bather is gently whipped with ritual or medicinal plants. Curanderas, locally trained folk healers perform the ritual. They say it is important not to bathe for twenty-four hours!

The Spanish friars fought against this custom during the viceroyalty because they considered mixed-gender bathing inappropriate. Nevertheless, the temescal survived and is still used in certain parts of Mexico, mainly for bathing, for alleviating illness, or for recovery after childbirth. However, there is an increasing interest in reviving the traditional religious aspects of the temescal as part of the country’s heritage.

YogaFoodWriting-62   YogaFoodWriting-52 WomenWritingReading-2 2014 Exquisite Corpse Poem: In Oaxaca, Anything is Possible Now the eye of day closes, garlic and sapphires in the mud, the cactus flower fading, crumbling, becoming earth, the pond house evaporating like a cloud. And on the floor, still as any corpse, my spirit reaches, finds the flame, the infinite of the women around me, a workshop of distilled memory, the smell of fire I will miss, the crying mother who puts an arm around my shoulder, walks me toward the white curtain, open now, then drawn shut. It is only the Virgin de Guadeloupe, I tell you, who can quell my heart, take my pain like water from cactus. But as I prostate myself before her, explain that I only want the easy stuff, pap and pamper—not the bent knees and arms, upright and splayed, launched and launching— she focuses on the sensuous, on the lesson of emotion, on the long braided women, clunky mountain tops of stout brittle trees, on the practice that tells me: this shadow is fat, this heart is iron, this wind is voice. *Exquisite Corpse is a surrealist tradition, as Robin Greene explains, in which many create a piece of collaborative art.  The Corpse Pose in yoga is the Shivasana ending pose.  Robin asked each participant to add a favorite line or two that she wrote during the workshop. Robin collected the lines, wove them together, and created a poem in one voice to lift us and carry us forward as we leave.  Here is In Oaxaca, Anything is Possible. YogaFoodWriting-83  A_WritingRetreat-15 There are lovely walking paths around the village, along the river and into the countryside near a local reservoir. You are welcome to venture out and explore the village on your own. Personal safety is not a concern here. YogaFoodWriting-84  A_WritingRetreat-8 What Women Say . . . “I better learned how to put together a writerly life.  The coaching session will help me stay on track.  I enjoyed listening to and evaluating each others’ work.  What a great group of women.” –Leslie Larson, California “I came with the hope of being rejuvenated.  I am leaving with a lightness and grounding that is beyond comprehension.”  –Rebecca S. King, North Carolina WomenWritingReading-14 WomenWritingReading-13 WomenWritingReading-4 “The instruction was excellent and supportive. The personal coaching session offered me a chance to talk about my writing in a way I never had before.  The workshops are especially valuable because the feedback is so thoughtful.” –Susan Lesser, New York “I discovered that my writing entertains people!  Beth’s yoga is the best I have ever experienced.  A perfect combo of the physical and spiritual.  And I loved the cooking class.” –LeeAnn Weigold, British Columbia, Canada A_WritingRetreat-41 There is amazing resonance between Robin’s and Beth’s teaching — vigorous, solid, and accepting. –Deborah Morris, M.D., North Carolina A_WritingRetreat-26 A_WritingRetreat-51 “It was all perfect. You gave us a beautiful writing workshop in a beautiful village setting and you also gave us a strong community-of-women bond that will far outlast this conference. Mil gracias!” — Katie Kingston, MFA, Trinidad, Colorado “The quality of the teachers was stellar and the combination was a perfect fit for me. Robin has a clarity that is lovely, supportive, truth-telling, knowledgeable, superbly skilled. Beth is a beautiful, beautiful teacher. Combining the yoga and sound with writing was profound.” — Nancy Coleman, Portland, Maine Robin’s knowledge impressed and guided me throughout the week.  She is one of the most generous people, instructors and writers I have ever met. The week gave me the insight to reinvestigate life and write about it.”  Kathryn Salisbury, North Carolina “The week helped with my intention to write my book. There were too many valuable parts to list! We experienced an amazing time together, sweating leaves, meditation, chanting, writing, and honoring our lives. This was an awesome experience.” — Susan Florence, MFA, Ojai, California “We learned from the other women in the group, from the culture, the language and people in the village. It was magical.” –Bridget Price, Sydney, Australia and Mexico City WomenWritingReading-19  WomenWritingReading-8 Your Workshop Leaders Robin Greene is the McLean Endowed Professor of English and Writing, and Director of the Writing Center at Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina. She is also co-founder and senior editor of Longleaf Press, a literary press that publishes contemporary poetry. Greene is the recipient of a NC Arts Council/NEA Fellowship, a university teaching award, and a visiting professorship in Romania. Her work is widely published in literary journals. Greene has led community and conference workshops, has served as a writing consultant, and has taught creative writing for over two decades. Her books include Real Birth: Women Share their Stories(nonfiction), Memories of Light and Lateral Drift(collections of poetry), and Augustus: Narrative of a Slave Woman (published in 2011). Greene holds an M.A. in English from SUNY-Binghamton and an M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. See Robin’s website: www.robingreene-writer.com YogaFoodWriting-32  WomenWritingReading-17 Beth Miller is our yoga instructor who combines yogic practice and philosophy with meditation, creativity and improvisation. She specializes in Vinyasa-Hatha yogic traditions and employs sonorous yoga practices as an approach to help women of all ages to give voice to their lives.

BethMillerPortrait

Beth has a background in Holistic-Health Counseling, working primarily with teen girls and young women to inspire healthy lifestyle habits. In addition, Beth is a vocal artist, performer and teacher of Western classical and sacred music. She holds a B.A. in music from Westminster Choir College, is a Certified Holistic Health Counselor, and completed the chef training program from the Institute for Culinary Education. A_WritingRetreat-12 A_WritingRetreat-13 Norma Hawthorne produces arts and educational programs in Oaxaca, Mexico, operating as Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC since 2006. She offers textile and fiber arts, tapestry weaving, natural dyeing, creative writing, and photography workshops that people throughout the world attend.  During her 30-year university career, Norma organized national award-winning programs for Indiana University, University of Virginia, and George Washington University.  Before she retired, Norma raised more than $23 million for The University of North Carolina School of Nursing. She holds the B.A. from California State University at Northridge and the M.S. from the University of Notre Dame.   Preliminary Workshop Outline

  • Friday, March 6, travel day, arrive and check-in
  • Saturday, March 7, introductions, orientation, village walk, writing exercises, yoga
  • Sunday, March 8, regional market visit, yoga, writing
  • Monday, March 9, yoga, writing, coaching, temescal
  • Tuesday, March 10, yoga, writing, coaching, weaving demonstration
  • Wednesday, March 11, yoga at Yagul archeological site, writing, coaching
  • Thursday, March 12, yoga, writing, option to visit World Heritage archeology sites
  • Friday, March 13, yoga, writing, reception and reading
  • Saturday, March 14, departure

Add-on 1:  Come early, arrive Thursday, March 5, and take a cooking class on March 6, $125 per person, includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, lodging on March 5. Add-on 2:  Oaxaca Textile and Shopping Excursion. Stay a day later. Spend the day and night in Oaxaca city.  Norma will take you to the Museo Textil de Oaxaca and her favorite shopping spots.  Includes one night lodging on March 14. Depart March Sunday, 15.  $185 per person shared occupancy with private bath.  $255 per person single occupancy with private bath. A_WritingRetreat-35 A_WritingRetreat-43 Lodging/Accommodations and Cost To keep this program affordable, we have selected clean and basic accommodations at family operated bed and breakfast inns.  Local cooks prepare delicious meals from scratch, including corn tortillas, with organic ingredients. Vegetarian options are available. Cost: 

  • $1,195 per person double occupancy with shared community bathroom facilities
  • $1,395 double room with private bath (sleeps 2)
  • $1,495 single room with private bath (sleeps one)
  • $50, add-on Shiatsu massage
  • $50 add-on Temescal sweat lodge
  • $125, arrive early, add-on traditional Zapotec cooking class and learn to make mole. Includes lodging on March 6 with breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Oaxaca Walk and Shop, $185 shared/$255 single occupancy in Oaxaca city on the night of March 14.  Includes transportation and lunch. Depart Sunday, March 15.

Most travel workshops of this type and length cost more than twice as much! YogaFoodWriting-46  WomenWritingReading-10 The workshop does NOT include airfare, taxes, tips, travel insurance, liquor or alcoholic beverages, some meals, and local transportation to and from Oaxaca city.  We will arrange taxi pick-up and return from/to the Oaxaca airport at your own expense. We reserve the right to substitute instructors and alter the program as needed. A_WritingRetreat-33 A_WritingRetreat-49 Reservations and Cancellations A 50% deposit is required to guarantee your spot. The final payment for the balance due (including any add-ons) shall be paid by January 10, 2014. We accept payment with PayPal only. We will  send you an itemized invoice when you tell us you are ready to register.  After January 10, refunds are not possible.  You may send a substitute in your place.  If you cancel before January 10, we will refund 50% of your deposit. Required–Travel Health/Accident Insurance:  We required that you carry international accident/health/emergency evacuation insurance.  Proof of insurance must be sent at least two weeks before departure.  If you do not wish to do this, we ask you email a PDF of a notarized waiver of responsibility, holding harmless Norma Hawthorne and Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC.  Unforeseen circumstances happen! Workshop Details and Travel Tips.  Before the workshop begins, we will email you a map, instructions to get to the workshop site from the airport, and a document that includes extensive travel tips and information. To get your questions answered and to register, contact: normahawthorne@mac.com  Since we are in Oaxaca most of the year, we are happy to arrange a Skype conversation with you if you wish. A_WritingRetreat-34 This retreat is produced by Norma Hawthorne, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC. We reserve the right to make itinerary changes and substitutions as necessary.

I’ve Been Gone for a While, Immersed in Poetry, Vocal Yoga, Temescal, and the Joy of Being With Creative Women

We began each day last week with yoga at eight o’clock in the morning, arising to rooster crows, the beat of the loom next door, the bark of the dog upstairs, the donkey brays.  There were eleven of us — all women, joining together to lift our voices through the written word, through the sonorous sounds of chanting, and to flexing muscles that would build  intellectual and spiritual strength.  I can’t remember feeling so  euphoric and inspired.

Oaxaca Women's Writing Retreat: Lifting Your Creative Voice 2011

Nine of the women traveled to Oaxaca from various parts of the United States. Many had never been to Oaxaca, and for some this was their first visit to Mexico. All traveled solo to get to our women’s writing and yoga retreat.

Daily yoga with Beth Miller combined movement and voice; some said we sounded like an ashram!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We gathered for yoga in the altar room of Casa Elena, then had breakfast under the pomegranate trees at Las Granadas.

Breakfast al fresco under the pomegranates

We all loved the fresh papaya and mango, the scrambled eggs with sauteed chiles, and especially the fresh tortillas made daily on the comal in the outdoor kitchen by our host Magdalena.

Robin Greene, our incredible instructor, started each writing session off with meditation. Then, we went off on our own to write, inspired by the culture, the food, the art, and the landscape.  Many of us brought current projects underway.  Some created poetry and memoir anew.

Bridget working on her project against the pink wall