Tag Archives: philosophy

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post-Thanksgiving Gratitude, Wishes, Stuffing and Stuff

To all my friends and readers near and far, to my family whom I adore, Gracias,  Gracias por todos, thank you for everything. Your love, caring, generosity, support, guidance and just being you means everything to me. You are numerous  — my world is big and inclusive. Consider yourself part of life’s blessings in Thanksgiving, today and always. Gracias.

I don’t know why I woke up hungry today, Black Friday. Maybe because I’m thinking about how to best avoid the crush, rush of Internet and store message bombardment to my inbox.  Food is so soothing when faced with the anxiety of impulse shopping because there might be a bargain out there.

Thanksgiving2013-4

Thanksgiving Day in Santa Cruz, California was a marathon food fest with two giant meals.  The first was at our mother’s retirement community where residents, children, grandchildren and friends attended a lavish buffet.  My sister thinks this was the first time my mother (being germ-cautious at age 97-1/2) kissed her on the mouth.  My sister forgot to put on lipstick. It was a moment of sharing.  Thank goodness this meal began at noon!

Thanksgiving2013-2 Thanksgiving2013-3

Next up: My brother-in-law brought Ernestina’s mole negro back with him from Oaxaca with the intention of making Thanksgiving turkey mole.   Ernestina is my friend and neighbor who lives down the lane in Teotitlan del Valle.  Thanksgiving2013-16

Her spicy black chocolate sauce, which she served us on All Souls Day before going to the village cemetery, is among the best we’ve ever tasted.  Someday, I will watch her prepare it and share the recipe.  I know she takes her chocolate beans (which she roasts herself) to the molina and adds the secret proportions of sugar, cinnamon, almonds and vanilla to yield a thick, rich paste. I know this because I bumped into her there.

Thanksgiving2013-9

At 4 p.m. when Barbara and George’s guests arrived, I was at the stove making Chanukah potato latkes (see recipe below), enough for 30 people, although there were eight of us.  B&G have been sharing Thanksgiving with the wine making Ahlgren family for over 25 years.  They arrived with vintage bottles of early 1990’s bottles of Chardonnay and Merlot. We started with champagne, moved on to the wine, and topped off the dinner with a mezcal tasting.  Thank goodness it took me an hour to make the latkes and we didn’t sit down to eat until six o’clock.

Thanksgiving2013-10 Thanksgiving2013-11

Our menu included homemade applesauce, turkey mole (George grilled the turkey breast, sliced it, and then added it to Ernestina’s mole to simmer for a couple of hours before serving), potato latkes, Shrimp Louie salad, homemade poppyseed cake with lemon curd and vanilla ice cream.

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Oops, can’t forget the Tucson Tamale Company tamales — turkey and cranberry, and sweet potato.  Sister had them shipped frozen, overnight delivery, only waiting to be steamed and served.

Thanksgiving2013-13 Thanksgiving2013-8

So, for me, Thanksgiving is about making sure we have more than sustenance in our lives.  It says, it is important to live in abundance.  It is valuable to express gratitude to those who love us, care for us, come into our lives if only for a moment. It is our opportunity to reach out to friends and family to share our harvest.  It is a time to appreciate all that we do have and being satisfied.

Which is why it is so strange that Black Friday follows the day after — promoting a yearning for more, the frenzy of acquisition, the quest for stuffing our homes, closets and lives with more stuff.  Certainly the Thanksgiving stuffing should be enough!

Best wishes to you all for a season of peace, abundance and connection.

Norma’s Original Thanksgivvukah Potato Latkes

  • 6 peeled, Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 medium eggs, scrambled
  • 3 T. matzo meal
  • 1 t. salt (prefer fine ground sea salt)
  • 1/2 t. pepper, fresh ground
  • 2-3 c. olive and safflower oil mixed

Add potatoes to a food processor bowl with the chopping blade inserted.  Pulse 6-8 times until the mixture is a coarse chop, with 1/4″ pieces.  Remove to bowl of water.  Let sit for 5 minutes. Drain to remove the potato starch.  Return to food processor bowl.  Add onion and garlic.  Pulse 2-3 times. Add salt and pepper.  Pulse 2-3 times to stir.  Add matzo meal.  Pulse to stir.  Add eggs.  Pulse to stir.

Pour 1-2 c. oil into fry pan and heat on medium high burner until oil sizzles. Test with flick of water.  If water jumps, oil is ready.    Using a large tablespoon, put 1/4 c. of potato mixture into hot oil for each latke (pancake).  Flip when one side is golden brown.  Continue cooking until both sides well-browned.  Remove.  Drain on paper towels.  Serve hot.

Serve with applesauce and sour cream.  We had a jar of homemade hibiscus flower jam from El Diablo y La Sandia B&B in Oaxaca, which was an extra treat to go with the latkes.