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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.

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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 You keep journals, notes, drafts of unpublished material.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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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 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.

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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 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.”

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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.

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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 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

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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.

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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 on your own. Personal safety is not a concern here.

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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

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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

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There is amazing resonance between Robin’s and Beth’s teaching — vigorous, solid, and accepting. –Deborah Morris, M.D., North Carolina

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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

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

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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.

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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, 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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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

How safe is Mexico City for a single female traveler?

This question just came in: How safe is Mexico City for a single female traveler?

This is my experience.  I have been flying from the USA directly to Mexico City for the last several years. I do this to know Mexico better.  Usually I travel solo, alone, single, without a companion.  The Mexico City airport is very safe and secure.  I always buy a taxi ticket from the Taxi Seguro ticket stand in the airport after you exit from baggage claim.  This secure taxi service is licensed and registered by the Distrito Federal (D.F.) officials.  The cost from the airport to the historic center is about 200 pesos.

Mexico City is filled with culture, art treasures, stunning architecture, great restaurants and street food.  It is where Diego Rivera murals adorn public spaces to visually convey the history of Mexico from pre-Conquest to the socialist ideals of Communism.  It is filled with energy and beauty.  It is clean and overall safe. Definitely worth a stopover, in my opinion.

In the historic center I walk everywhere with my BIG Nikon camera and small purse (long straps crisscrossed over the my body) — to FONART, to Palacio Bellas Artes, to Mercado de San Juan, to Museo de Arte Popular, and to Palacio Nacional.  You need a taxi to the anthropology museum in Chapultepec Park.

If I’m there on the weekend, I will call a friend to go with me to Lagunilla flea market.  This is an all-day adventure.  There is a Saturday and Sunday Plaza del Angel antiques market in the Zona Rosa that is safe and accessible, and perfect for solo traveling.

I have taken the Metro with friends, but not yet solo.  Taxis are reasonable and plentiful.  Your hotel can call you a taxi they know to be secure and safe.  One Australian friend who has lived in D.F. for four years says to only take the white radio taxis that are available at marked corner stands.  I’ve used red and gold city taxis with no problem.

On past visits, I have asked my hotels or B&Bs to arrange a car and driver for a full day of sightseeing at about 100-120 pesos an hour.  We’ve gone to Casa Azul, the Dolores Olmeda Pineda Museum, and Xochimilco. The driver stays with us.

Two nights in Mexico City only gives you one full day, so I recommend at least three nights minimum to really get a flavor for the city.

As with all travel anywhere — in the USA or any foreign country — be mindful of your surroundings, only take cash out of an ATM during the day, keep your camera slung across your chest, don’t walk and use your SmartPhone at the same time (someone can easily grab it), check the taxi seat and floor before departing to make sure you don’t leave anything behind, stay alert, move away from people you think are suspicious.  I always carry my Passport with me for identification, but I’ve heard advice to the contrary.

I’m in Chicago this weekend and a platoon of policemen were heading toward Water Tower Place on the Magnificent Mile this morning for patrol duty.  Locals say there are a lot of iPhone thefts in that neighborhood, so there you go!

What else would you like to know?

 

 

 

 

Literary Journal Publishes Women’s Writing Retreat Essay

Minerva Rising Literary Journal co-editor and poet Dulcie Witman invited me to write a guest essay for their blog.  My essay, Women Who Have Something to Say, reflects the women’s creative writing and yoga workshop/retreat experience.

Minerva Rising Literary Journal celebrates the creativity and wisdom in every woman.  Their blog invites guest writers to contribute essays, stories, experiences, insights and perspectives.  The pieces are usually creative non-fiction written in the first person.

Minerva Rising publishes two editions per year.  It seeks submissions of written works that include photographs.  The current theme is “rebellion.”  Give it a try!

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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.  

BethMillerPortrait

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.

Cost: 

  • $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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Tribute to International Women’s Day Through Poetry

Left to right: Giselt, Simona, Jennifer, Beth, Norma, Robin, Debbie, Kelly, Becky

Who knew there would be a full moon illuminating the courtyard at Las Granadas  Bed and Breakfast last night, March 8, when Professor Robin Greene and I planned our Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat a year ago?  And, who knew that it would coincide with International Women’s Day?  Who knew that nine magnifient women would gather on this day to lift voices in poetry, song, memoir, and reflective writing?  Sometimes, the universe aligns perfectly.

 

We invite Zapotec women from the village of Teotitlan del Valle where our retreat was based to share our experience.  Expatriates join in.  Together we sit, hear stories and poems about mothers, loved ones, the experience of first-time travel out of the U.S., a first date.  We honor each other with applause, a wonderful meal, a toast of sweetened juice made from the hibiscus flower (agua de jamaica).  This is our local tribute to the universality of women.  We lift our voices in community.

 

Rebecca King, one of our retreat participants, is a writer and poet who returned to college to complete a degree in English and creative writing as an adult.  She will graduate from Methodist University in Fayetteville, NC, this spring.  This is the poem she wrote during the retreat and read last night, giving me permission to share it with you. (Above: Becky works on last minute changes before the fiesta and final reading.)

 

(Reyna’s mole amarillo with green beans, choyote squash and potatoes, that she dishes out from the cooking pot.)

Where I Stand by Rebecca King

I stand

on the kitchen chair,

in the white house

before the twins came.

My mother, wearing

her green dress with the

white flowers,

moves her arms

back and forth,

a slow rolling.

I am five,

clumsy, messy.

Soft, squishy dough

sticks to my fingers.

Together, my mother

and I knead, roll,

gather the dough

back to center.

 

Now,

almost forty years

later, I stand

on the dirt floor

of Reyna’s kitchen

in Teotitlan, Mexico.

I move my arms

back and forth

a slow rolling.

I am forty two,

clumsy, messy.

The mano de matate

heavy in my hands.

I knead, roll,

grind the onions,

peppers, tomatillas,

roasted sesame

seeds into stone.

I gather the paste

back to center,

feel the ancient

rhythm of the women

where I stand.

 

 

Photos immediately above:  we are eating a lunch of amarillo molé prepared by cooking teacher Reyna Mendoza Ruiz outside in her immaculately clean traditional dirt floor kitchen.  She prepared the luscious traditional sauce using a metate that Rebecca refers to in her poem.  Rebecca opted to also take a cooking class with Reyna, which inspired her poem.