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Norma Contributes Two Chapters!
- Norma Schafer and Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC has offered programs in Mexico since 2006. We have over 30 years of university program development experience. See my resume.
Study Tours + Study Abroad are personally curated and introduce you to Mexico's greatest artisans. They are off-the-beaten path, internationally recognized. We give you access to where people live and work. Yes, it is safe and secure to travel. Groups are limited in size for the most personal experience.
Programs can be scheduled to meet your travel plans. Send us your available dates.
Designers, retailers, wholesalers, universities and other organizations come to us to develop customized itineraries, study abroad programs, meetings and conferences. It's our pleasure to make arrangements.
Our Clients Include *Penland School of Crafts *North Carolina State University *WARP Weave a Real Peace *Methodist University
Tell us how we can put a program together for you! Send an email firstname.lastname@example.org
Tag Archives: personal essay
Next Friday I will be returning to Mexico for an extended stay. At this moment it is difficult to know for how long. By the time I return to Oaxaca, I will have been gone for almost two months.
You have not heard from me in a while for many reasons. I have been in North Carolina to pack and move, and in the process sort through the collections of life — art treasures from around the world, family photographs, paintings and pottery, chef’s accoutrements acquired when I owned a gourmet cookware shop, cooking school and cafe so many years ago in South Bend, Indiana.
The accumulation of thirty plus years is daunting. There were boxes in the attic I hadn’t opened since two moves ago. I found vintage La Grange County Amish dolls that I at once gifted to the Indiana State Museum and complete set of 1940’s Ohio-made Blair Gay Plaid pottery that I hauled to Replacements and sold.
I am the keeper of my son’s vintage Tonka trucks, infant clothes, and university diploma. I am the keeper of copper cookware bought in Paris in 1984, every tax return since 1990, and every university program and proposal I ever developed and wrote during my career. I made a pile in the yard and started a fire. Friends came to help me push through, sort and eliminate. I couldn’t have done it without them. Then I drove a fourteen-foot U-Haul truck to a 5′ x 15′ storage unit and with the help of two wonderful Latino men who I picked up at the day labor gathering spot, completed my move.
Goodbyes are not easy, even as I look forward to spending most of each year in my beloved Oaxaca with friends there. I know that change is constant, nothing is forever, experiences matter, and staying open to possibility is essential. I have closed the door to the home on the pond that I built and shared with another. I have said goodbye to dearest friends. North Carolina is still home, yet when I return, it will be to another place. Friends there and around the world are my constant source of caring and support.
As all this was going on, I organized more Oaxaca workshops, wrote and published a personal essay in Minerva Rising Literary Journal, sold one of my photographs to a consulting company, had a skin cancer surgically removed and a pre-cancer treatment on my face as a result of too much youthful sun-bathing on Southern California beaches where I grew up.
Here, now, in this northern California beach town, I am with my ninety-eight year old mother who sleeps in the next room, and my dearest sister who lives just a mile away. Each moment matters. It is a great lesson in how to live life.
See you in Oaxaca.
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.
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. 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. 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.
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. 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 Valle, Oaxaca. 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 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.”
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. 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!
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. 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. 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 “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 There is amazing resonance between Robin’s and Beth’s teaching — vigorous, solid, and accepting. –Deborah Morris, M.D., North Carolina “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 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 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.
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. 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. 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! 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. 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: email@example.com Since we are in Oaxaca most of the year, we are happy to arrange a Skype conversation with you if you wish. This retreat is produced by Norma Hawthorne, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC. We reserve the right to make itinerary changes and substitutions as necessary.