Tag Archives: retreat

Mexican vanilla beans, mezcal and chocolate

What to do with a Mexican vanilla bean? Why not a Groucho Marx impersonation?  Even though I recommended adding it to a bowl of sugar for flavor.


On Friday, we had a Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat mini-reunion at the Oak Leaf Restaurant in Pittsboro, NC.  Who? Robin, Debbie, Becky and me.  As soon as I presented my North Carolina friends — all professional women — with a gift of a Mexican vanilla bean, a maguey fiber facial scrub, and a package of tasty mango fruit leather, you can see what they did first. I’m not certain which one started it.  This speaks volumes about the fun we have in Oaxaca during the retreat each year!  And, there’s space for you.


I also brought along a bottle of private label El Diablo y La Sandia madrecuixe sylvestre (wild) agave mezcal to open and share.  This is only available for sale at the B&B in Oaxaca. The restaurant was to charge us a corkage fee, but their first question was, Where did you buy this?  Oaxaca, I said, waiting for them to ask, How do you spell that?  Oh, she said, wait a minute.  Then the manager came over.  We are really sorry, we can’t serve you this bottle.  Though I’d love to taste it, she confessed.  It has to have been purchased in an ABC (Alcohol and Beverage Commission) Store for us to legally open and serve it here.  She was really, really apologetic, but we had another solution.


After our delicious BLT lunch of a fried green tomato, goat cheese and bacon sandwich (minus the bacon for two vegetarians), we declined dessert at the Oak Leaf.  We had something else in mind and went next door to the Chatham Market Place.  This is our local organic grocery store and cafe.  Here we bought vegan chocolate cake dessert for each of us, and took four tumblers outside to the picnic table, where we easily broke the wax seal on the bottle, twisted off the cap and poured.


I have to confess, chocolate and this herbal earthy mezcal go really well together. We did NOT drink the entire bottle!  Not even close.  Just a little sip.  But, most of us managed to finish the cake!

Mexico’s gifts to the world include the vanilla bean, mezcal and the word for chocolate.  Add to that mole, corn and colorfast cochineal.  Anything else you can think of?

Life Transitions Retreat: What are you doing with the rest of your life?

In Oaxaca, Mexico. 3 days, 4 nights — arrive Saturday, March 8 and leave Wednesday, March 12, 2014.

This retreat will help you explore and identify life’s possibilities and choices.  Our two professional workshop facilitators – psychotherapist Susanne Saunders and professor of creative writing Robin Greene – will offer caring guidance and support for imagining the journey that comes next and how to get there.  There will be plenty of time for meaningful reflection, exploring passions and setting personal, achievable goals.

About the Retreat 

Change happens and opens up questions, possibilities, and opportunities for hopes and dreams to become realized.  Change also creates fear of the unknown.  Sometimes change brings euphoria.  Perhaps we move ahead too quickly and we don’t arrive at the destination we had in mind.  Or, the ideas may swirl in our head of all the extraordinary possibilities open to us based on what we know we are capable of achieving … and stay there unfulfilled as time passes.

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The retreat program, held in a lovely, private B&B in the historic 16th century colonial city of Oaxaca, Mexico, is open to anyone facing change or imagining it, including those who are

  • considering retirement
  • contemplating a career change
  • transitioning back to the workforce
  • experiencing divorce, separation or widowhood
  • dealing with an empty nest
  • coping with the needs of elderly parents
  • reinventing life with boomerang kids
  • wanting a more satisfying life and steps to achieve it
  • dreaming of living life larger and more fully

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We will offer structured and unstructured time that will allow you to re-envision and give shape to your journey.  Thoughtful meditation time and reflective writing exercises serve to guide you toward holistic self-understanding, while more structured activities create opportunities for you to integrate the many complex parts of your life that need to come together to create meaningful, positive change.

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In addition, you will have the opportunity to examine the cultural richness of Oaxaca while participating in workshop and independent activities. In fact, we designed this program so that people, unhooked from their usual routines and assumptions at home, gain the necessary distance to understand and re-evaluate them.


Scheduled for early spring—life’s natural season of renewal—you will find yourself in a world of color, texture, smells, and tastes that will help awaken the spirit and give access to the self’s inner purpose.

At the end of our retreat, you will leave Oaxaca with a journal filled with meaningful reflective writing, three plans for a re-imagined future, and a better understanding of yourself and life’s next direction.

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Retreat Program Schedule–Preliminary

Each workshop day includes individual and group exercises, reflective writing, time on your own, meditation sessions, group discussion, and breakfast.  Lunch and dinner are at your own expense, although many meals will be shared as part of the group experience.

Saturday, March 8  (Travel Day, Arrive by Evening)

Arrive / Informal Introductions / Welcome & Orientation

Sunday, March 9

Following breakfast we will meet for formal introductions, discuss the reflective writing process, review the pre-workshop exercises you prepared, and go over workshop organization, etiquette, and boundaries.  We will define the Life Board and how we will use it.  Our goal is to offer a caring, supportive and safe space in which you can freely share your hopes and dreams.  We will meditate, engage in a body awareness exercise, and assess personal strengths and values.  This will give each of us an opportunity to Dream Large and identify our unique skills.

After lunch, we will engage in exercises that will help explore beliefs, capabilities, perceived limitations, and then have reflective writing and feedback time.

After dinner there will be time for reflection and writing.  (Meals: Includes breakfast only.)

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Monday, March 10

After breakfast we will explore what brings us each joy, then after lunch we will walk to Oaxaca’s outdoor market for a fun exercise that we anticipate will stimulate your senses and stretch your imagination.   You will then write about this experience and bring meaningful found objects back to add to your Life Board. (Meals: Includes breakfast only.)

Tuesday, March 11

After breakfast, we will write about what it means to dream large, the possibilities that are open to you, and honoring the authentic self.  We will then talk about what has meaning for each of us and what future paths would help manifest this.  After lunch the afternoon will be free for journal writing and to prepare our culminating work. Dinner will include a celebratory toast followed by presentations.

(Meals: Includes breakfast only.)

Wednesday, March 12

Departures—After breakfast, you may choose to return home or stay on to further explore Oaxaca.

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What the Retreat Includes

  • 4 nights lodging in an upscale Oaxaca city bed and breakfast inn
  • 4 breakfasts, delicious and healthfully prepared
  • 24+ hours of guided facilitation by skilled professionals
  • all retreat materials including journal books
  • an experience to awaken your senses and give direction to your future 


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. She is also a member of the Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education and integrates mindfulness practices in her writing classes. In 1999, Greene co-founded Sandhills Dharma, a Buddhist meditation group in Fayetteville, NC. 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 (novel). Greene holds an M.A. in English from SUNY-Binghamton and an M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. See Greene’s website: www.robingreene-writer.com 

Susanne Saunders is a psychotherapist in private practice in the Chapel Hill, North Carolina, area here she has lived and worked for the past 34 years.  A Licensed Clinical Social Worker, she works with individuals, families, and couples across the life span.  She earned the Master of Social Work degree from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is a founding member of Blue Heron Farm Intentional Community, where she actively participates in community growth and development.  Music is an essential part of Susanne’s adult life, and she  performs in and writes original music for a 5-piece band.  She has made many transitions in her life, including growing up in Massachusetts, starting a family in North Carolina, moving from an urban to rural setting, attending graduate school as a young mother and then again as an empty-nester, changing professions, moving a house and rebuilding it, and on and on.  She enjoys listening to people’s stories and supporting them in getting the life they want.

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Lodging/Accommodations and Cost

We will be based at one of Oaxaca’s most lovely, hospitable Bed & Breakfast Inns within walking distance of the Zocalo and historic center of the city.  Vegetarian options are available for meals. 

Cost.  Because we are able to offer you all the benefits of personal attention within a small group setting, we can keep costs lower than comparable programs.    

  • $995 per person double occupancy with private bath (sleeps 2)
  • $1295 per person single room with private bath (sleeps one)
  • $845 per person if you make your own  housing arrangements and join us for the retreat portion only (you must participate in all group activities, including meals)
  • $125 per person per night, extend your stay at the B&B in Oaxaca city
  • $45 per night per person, extend your stay with lodging in Teotitlan del Valle

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The workshop does NOT include airfare, taxes, tips/gratuities, travel insurance, liquor or alcoholic beverages, lunches, dinners, snacks, and local transportation to and from Oaxaca city. Secure airport taxi and shuttle service is available at Oaxaca airport when you deplane. We reserve the right to alter the program as needed.

Reservations and Cancellations

A 50% deposit based on your selected options is needed to reserve your space. The final payment for the balance due (including any add-ons) shall be paid by January 15, 2014. Payment is by PayPal. We email an itemized invoice to you when you tell us you are ready to register.

We strongly recommend that you take out trip cancellation, baggage, emergency evacuation and medical insurance before you begin your trip, since unforeseen circumstances are possible. 

Workshop Details and Travel Tips.  Before the workshop begins, we will email you a pre-workshop questionnaire, a map, instructions to get to the workshop location from the airport, and a document that includes extensive travel tips and information.

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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, to be arranged by email.

This retreat is produced by Norma Hawthorne, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC. We reserve the right to make itinerary changes as needed. 

Women’s Creative Writing Workshop: What a Peanut Says–Truth Starts Small

Laura Lamm, our guest contributor today, wrote this essay as an example for her ENG 100 students at Methodist University where she teaches English. It is about her 2013 experience participating in our Oaxaca Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat: Lifting Your Creative Voice.    Our 2014 workshop is open for registration.

As I cull through and edit almost 800 photos from the Lunes Cerro extravaganza we call Guelaguetza to share with you, I offer you this extraordinary piece of writing to enjoy for today!


My Failed Free-Write by Laura Lamm

Last spring, on the fourth day of the Oaxaca Women’s Writing Retreat, Robin [Greene], our writing coach, had passed around a bag of peanuts. Her only instructions had been “take one and don’t eat it. Well, at least not right away,” and she had laughed in that funny light-hearted way we had immediately loved hearing from her on our first day. Her lesson of this day was “truth starts small” when writing.

Some members of our group were lucky enough to get a whole nut, but some of us only got a half.  Robin told us to examine our peanuts for a few minutes and write about them.  Admittedly, while game for the exercise, I had thought how much can be said about half a peanut. I was surprised by the details the other writers in the group gave.  Truly inspiring words flowed from their lips as they read aloud: crunchiness, smoothness, grooves, dimples, and salt flakes.  Each woman had something astounding to say about the small world of her peanut, but I did not meet the challenge.

In fact, if I had been scored in a classroom on my attempt, I would have failed, totally missing any points given for following directions, falling way below the other women writers on the retreat.  I would have been that girl in the back of the proverbial classroom who would make the teacher shake his or her head and later comment to a peer, “Poor child, she just doesn’t get it.”

Peanuts make me think of humid August dog days.  The ones so bad that my mother would buy us ice-cold Cokes and bags of Lance salted peanuts, and we’d pour the nuts into the top of the bottle, making the Coke fizz until we covered the top with our hot mouths and drank, catching the peanuts with our tongues, stuffing them in our cheeks like squirrels.  Small things, like peanuts, make me remember other things.  Peanuts also make me think of elephants.

Robin could not have known about my fondness for Coke and peanuts or of my admiration for elephants when she had made the writing assignment.  She could not have imagined that I had watched a television documentary, revolving around a herd of African elephants, the night before my flight to Mexico.  The elephant herd, which had been large in number, was steadily decreasing because of a drought.  That day in Oaxaca, where life was a string of perfect small truths to be discovered, I couldn’t focus my mind on my peanut half even for a brief time.  My mind kept wandering to the ancient cow that had many daughters in her herd but had birthed a male that season.

Instead of the nut in front of me, I kept seeing her walking, searching for any water or food to be found.  I sat in the safeness of my writing retreat, thinking about how that mother would have loved to have even this single half of a peanut for her calf.  He had died that summer in the documentary. His mother had continued to grieve for his loss until the herd splintered into smaller groups that had gone on their way, because she would not leave him behind even weeks after his death.  Her daughters and granddaughters stayed beside her until her death; then the eldest herded all of the surviving cows onto their primordial walking path, following the herd’s other females, for what she instinctively knew would be a better life just as her mother had done before her.

No, I don’t think I would have scored very highly on my free-write if I had been judged by an assignment’s standards, and it was lovely that on this retreat I didn’t have to worry about failure. My destiny was not predetermined by a rubric from a filing cabinet.  Instead, I was afforded time to reflect on my truth.

I found that I thought not of peanuts or elephants.  I realized that I am always emotionally torn by events that revolve around mothers and daughters. I thought of my mother who has led me until she can no longer do so.  I thought of my daughter who I am trying to lead, but, like the granddaughters on the African plain, she is willful and head strong—not seeing the path of least resistance that I have already walked.  One day she will make her own path because she finds no solace in mine.

In the end, the peanut did fulfill its purpose just as Robin had said it would.  It gave me pause to think, and its small truth brought me full circle to a universal truth.  As a daughter and mother, I am faced daily with many types of conflicts that all require resolutions; but no matter the pull of each problem, I put one foot in front of the other, on instinct alone at times.  I win. I lose. I make a decision only to make another decision, avert this problem to face another.  I stand in the face of many adversities.  The greatest one being that no matter what I do, I will send my daughter out into an uncertain future just as my mother sent me.


Oaxaca Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat 2014

            Registration is Now Open

In Transit and Transition: From North Carolina to Oaxaca

The past two months that I have been in North Carolina have been filled with visiting dear friends, doing a lot of creative writing that includes poetry, creative non-fiction and personal narrative, attending a women’s writing retreat, planning new workshops, and keeping Mexico on my mind.  I tell friends that I love it when I’m in North Carolina and I love it when I’m in Oaxaca.  Both places are home and I’m never ready to leave either place when it’s time.  But, thankfully, there’s always that return ticket to take me forward.

What does HOME mean to you?

This week I’m in transit and transition, planted in Santa Cruz, California for a longer-than-usual ten-day visit with my family.  My 97 year-old mother is slowing down, though is mobile and quite alert, still able to carry on a meaningful political conversation, always an important distinction in my family. Yesterday, my 12-year-old niece played a violin recital that my mother’s retirement community enjoyed.  Tomorrow my son arrives to celebrate his birthday during the July 4th weekend.  We are based at my sister’s house where an organic garden is in glorious profusion of fresh vegetables and the Mediterranean climate offers dry sunny days and chilly nights that promote deep, restful sleep.  This feels like home to me, too, reminding me of childhood California nurturing.  California roots run deep.

On Tuesday, July 9, I will travel to Mexico City on a non-stop flight from San Francisco.  There, I’ll meet Deborah Morris, M.D.-P.A., who heads up the physician’s assistant program at Methodist University.  We have two of her students volunteering in the Teotitlan del Valle public health clinic for the month of July. We will join them for a mid-session debriefing and plan a project they will create that will have sustainable health education benefits for the village.

So, stay tuned.  Soon, I’ll be back in Mexico to give you more reportage about Oaxaca and beyond.

Hope you are having a great summer.  -Norma

P.S. Consider our next Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat in Oaxaca, winter 2014.

Oaxaca Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat 2014: Lifting Your Creative Voice

4th Annual Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat.  Arrive Friday, February 28, leave Saturday, March 8, 2014–8 nights, 9 days.

We are women who have something to say. We keep journals, notes, drafts of unpublished material. Or, we dream of writing and never have.  Ideas percolate and we want to develop them. Perhaps we have let the writer’s life lapse and need renewal.  We may seek 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. (Note the active tense!)

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.   We offer writing exercises and triggers, thoughtful discussion, caring feedback, and the simple gift of time.

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Minerva Rising Literary Journal blog publishes women’s workshop essay

Our goal is to empower you to tell your story well, and to lift and share your voice—widening your lyrical range and adding to your narrative toolbox.  Here you can choose the genre that best suits what you have to say: memoir, journaling, poetry, creative non-fiction and fiction. The retreat is designed to accommodate both novice and experienced writers, and it is limited to offer an especially satisfying small group experience.

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The writing workshop is complemented by and integrated with daily yoga sessions led by Beth Miller, and tailored to each participant’s physical level and needs. Through this practice, we flex our bodies to stretch our imaginations.  Beth employs movement, chanting and using the breath to help us find voice and creative center — a perfect combination of the physical and spiritual, says past participant LeeAnn Weigold. We meet in the altar room of a local family for both yoga and writing. Each informs the other. 

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What Participants Say

  • I learned I am fully capable of being the writer I dreamed of becoming.
  • The location, teaching and program structure created 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 for my family.
  • 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.

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A Message from Your Workshop Leader, Author/Poet and Professor Robin Greene

“The writing retreat is very relaxed, and in the past three years–yes, this is our fourth!–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.”

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We cannot promise that you will win a poetry prize, as did one of our 2011 participants after writing her winning poem at the retreat, or be published in a literary journal as a 2012 participant accomplished.   We CAN promise that you will explore, develop and deepen as a writer.

If you are working on a project — bring it. If you have something in mind but haven’t yet put it to paper (or computer), this is the place to do it.

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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 daily yoga, stretching and meditation sessions, plus options to participate in other activities: cooking class, massage, walking, hiking, bird-watching, a Oaxaca city shopping excursion, and visiting village weaving and artists’ studios.

What the Retreat Includes:

  • 21 hours of group writing and instruction
  • One-hour individual coaching session
  • Daily workshop sessions to give/receive feedback
  • Focused coaching to hone your skills: grammar, reading in public, publishing
  • 7 daily yoga sessions, tailored to varying skill levels
  • Women’s traditional temescal sweat lodge
  • Guided visit to Tlacolula regional market
  • 8 nights lodging
  • 8 breakfasts
  • 4 lunches
  • 6 dinners

Optional Added Fee-based Activities:

  • Shiatsu Massage, $50 per person
  • Zapotec/Oaxaca cooking class, scheduled as an option within the workshop week, $70 per person  (2 person minimum)

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Exquisite Corpse* Poem 2013-- Flower-Spangled, Hopscotch Light

Sun filters through the window,

dances across the freckles of his nose

and cheeks, a hopscotch of light. But you,

you only left me an afternoon, our shared

history erased as surely as footsteps

in a snowstorm, woven lives unraveling,

a plum fallen to the ground, left for crows—

graduation over, parents pacified.

I would like to embellish this place

in which I live, drink Red Rose tea

from a flower-spangled cup at the edge

of an untended maize field, boundaries

marked by old posts with termite trails.

Damnit. I wish people would tell the truth

and stop using words like “fine,”

so I could finally think about what to do

with my education. And so, my dear

Skye, you do have ancestors, and we love

the water anyway, even if it cannot clean us.

*Exquisite Corpse is a surrealist tradition, as Robin Greene explains, in which a piece of art is made collaboratively.  The Corpse Pose in yoga is the Shivasana ending pose.  Robin asked each participant to contribute a favorite line or two that she wrote during the workshop. Robin collected our voices and wove them together to form one collaborative voice.  The result was Flower-Spangled, Hopscotch Light

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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 and its environs on your own. Personal safety is not a concern here.

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What Women Say . . .

“I came hoping to pick up a few tips that would improve my writing.  I leave with a reignited passion to write, improve physical goals, and unlimited gratitude for the competence and gifts of my instructors.  Robin is flexible and responds to our varying needs.  The balance of intensive writing workshops, cultural excursions, and yoga results in a powerful experience.   This is the place to improve writing skills and explore the emotional elements that undergird them.”  –Jan Donaldson, North Carolina

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“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

“The yoga was so freeing, allowing a creative flow so that I could feel and write [with intention, intensively.]  The fellowship of this group was so amazing.” –Laura Lamm, North Carolina

“Focused learning.  Beautiful setting.  Talented participants.  I was challenged and that was exactly what I needed.”  –Marta Light, New Mexico

“Robin’s insights push us into self-awareness.  I am fully capable of being the writer I dream of becoming.  The temescal made me feel so powerful and helped me to further love my body for exactly what it is.” –Rebecca King, North Carolina

“It was wonderful!  Now I can write healing stories for my family because of the many suggestions about how to do that.” – Janet Andrews, Arizona

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“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

“This retreat is held in a really wonderful place, with a guide who knows a great deal about the town, has true relationships with people who live here. Robin and Beth are great teachers and work well together.” — Morgen Van Vorst, Los Angeles, California

“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

“I loved that Robin, Beth and Norma were just a part of the group. I loved going to the markets and the cooking class. I’ve always wanted to come to Oaxaca and this was the perfect opportunity.” — Sue Spirit, Boone, North Carolina

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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

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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.  


Portrait of Beth Miller by Mauricio Cervantes

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.

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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, February 28, travel day, arrive and check-in
  • Saturday, March 1, orientation, village walk, writing, yoga
  • Sunday, March 2, regional market visit, yoga, writing
  • Monday, March 3, yoga, writing, temescal
  • Tuesday, March 4, yoga, writing, cooking class option, consultations
  • Wednesday, March 5, yoga, writing, consultations
  • Thursday, March 6, yoga, writing, Oaxaca city option
  • Friday, March 7, yoga, writing, reception and reading
  • Saturday, March 8, departure

Lodging/Accommodations and Cost

To keep this program affordable, we have selected clean and basic accommodations at family operated bed and breakfast inns.  Local meals are prepared by excellent cooks from organic ingredients made from scratch. Vegetarian options are available.


  • $1,195 per person double occupancy with shared bath
  • $1,395 double room with private bath (sleeps 2)
  • $1,495 single room with private bath (sleeps one)
  • $50, add-on Shiatsu massage
  • $70, add-on cooking class, learn to make mole
  • $125 per night, add-on lodging in Oaxaca city
  • $45 per night, add-on lodging in Teotitlan del Valle

Most travel workshops of this type and length cost more than twice as much!

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The workshop does NOT include airfare, taxes, tips/gratuities, 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.

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Reservations and Cancellations

A 50% deposit based on your preferred options is required to guarantee your spot. The final payment for the balance due (including any add-ons) shall be paid by January 10, 2014. Payment is requested or PayPal. 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.

We strongly recommend that you take out trip cancellation, baggage, emergency evacuation and medical insurance before you begin your trip, since unforeseen circumstances are possible.  We can provide a quote for this.

Workshop Details and Travel Tips.  Before the workshop begins, we will email you a map, instructions to get to the workshop location 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.

This retreat is produced by Norma Hawthorne, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC. We reserve the right to make itinerary changes and substitutions as necessary.

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