Tag Archives: yoga

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 We keep journals, notes, drafts of unpublished material.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

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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Third Annual Oaxaca Women’s Creative Writing + Yoga Retreat: Lifting Your Creative Voice

Arrive Friday, March 8, leave Saturday, March 16, 2013–8 nights, 9 days.

Our Third Annual Oaxaca Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat: Lifting Your Creative Voice is a workshop based in the Zapotec weaving village of Teotitlan del Valle.  Imagine a setting so beautiful that it inspires all the best within you to write and create. Here, amid the bougainvillea blossoms and in the shade of ripening 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. With Professor Robin Greene, MFA, guiding and coaching you in a supportive small group atmosphere, you’ll be encouraged to find your own creative center and to surprise yourself with the power of your words. You’ll have the opportunity to work with memoir, journaling, poetry, and mixed genre writing in an intimate workshop environment.

Through daily yoga sessions that are tailored to each participant’s physical level and needs, you will flex your body to stretch your imagination.  Our talented and supportive yoga teacher is Beth Miller from Boulder, Colorado, who is back with us for Year Three, too.  Beth employs movement, chanting and “vocal yoga,” using the breath to find voice and creative center.

A Message from Professor Robin Greene

“The writing retreat is very relaxed, and in the past two years–yes, this is our third!–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 the women write, they energize each other.

“The retreat is intended for both novice and experienced writers of all genres. As the writing instructor, I like to encourage women to find their individual voices so that the retreat experience is personally meaningful to all participants. In fact, although I have one scheduled conference with each participant, I’m available for feedback and coaching throughout our time together. Also, because I teach creative writing, I have a repertoire of techniques and strategies to share with writers at all levels.

“Again, this is our third year. And although I’m a university professor, the Women’s Writing Retreat remains my favorite teaching experience.”

   

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

Congratulations to Nancy Coleman, 2011 participant and                         emerging writer, whose short story Fall was published in the                                                    April 2012 Issue 436 of  THE SUN literary magazine.

Offering 5 CEUs for 15 contact hours of instruction awarded by Methodist University. This applies to teacher’s license recertification.

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.

    

The retreat is designed to accommodate both novice and experienced writers, and it is limited to offer an especially satisfying small group experience. Through writing exercises, discussion, caring feedback, and the simple gift of time, you’ll gain knowledge and perspective about the art and craft of writing. 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 the tools in your narrative toolbox.

Congratulations to Katie Kingston, past participant and                                          a 2011 Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize Finalist — for the poem she wrote              during her workshop experience with us.

In addition to daily writing exercises in organized sessions, Robin will meet one-on-one with participants so that each writer feels nurtured and personally served.  During these individual coaching session, Robin will review your writing and offer gentle suggestions if improvement is needed.

 

You’ll have an opportunity to retreat and write on your own during open time in the schedule if you choose, but there’s also plenty to do here. We’ve scheduled daily yoga, stretching and meditation sessions, and there’s ample time for other activities such as walking, hiking, bird-watching, and visiting village weaving and artists’ studios.

What the Retreat Includes:

  • 18 hours of group writing 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 and snacks
  • 7 dinners

Optional Added Fee-based Activities:

  • Massage with a Shiatsu massage therapist
  • Traditional cooking class on Saturday, March 16 (depart March 17) — stay one more day to participate! (2 person minimum)
  • Continuing Education Units for Teachers

***

Exquisite Corpse* Poem 2012Ragged and Unfolding

Across half a continent I’ve traveled to Oaxaca—

mountains, pomegranates, sacred hearts,

searching for something, but I’m not sure

what.  Is it love, sorrow, or pain that fills my heart?

Morning breeze, cool—midday sun, hard.

Don’t try to prepare for the desert mountain;

the mountain will prepare for you or for something

unexpected. And what expectations

but the ragged unfolding of our hours,

souls singing, rising upward?

So let us gaze into that blue sky, let mountain

tears be indigo, pericon—jammed against

that mountain’s face, we face the sun,

balance between here, there, and sigh.

*The 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.  During our workshop, each person contributed a line or two each day.  Robin pulled all our voices together to hear the collaborative voice as one.  The result was the poem above, Ragged and Unfolding.

***

   

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.

Come join us in an inspiring setting of great natural beauty for an opportunity to explore and lift your voice, enrich, and empower your world.

  

What Past Participants Say

“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 were great teachers; they worked really 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

“Deep and delicious work in a very supportive environment. I now have a focused, with understanding and direction to move forward with my writing.” –Beth Miller, Boulder, Colorado

“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

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 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 ofLight 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. She 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 has produced arts and educational programs in Oaxaca, Mexico, through Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC since 2006. She has offered tapestry weaving, natural dyeing, painting, documentary filmmaking, and photography workshops that are attended by participants from throughout the U.S., Canada and from as far as Australia. During her 25-year career in higher education, Norma has organized national award-winning continuing education programs for Indiana University, University of Virginia, and George Washington University, and 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 8, travel day, arrive and check-in
  • Saturday, March 9, orientation, village walk, writing, yoga
  • Sunday, March 10, regional market visit, yoga, writing
  • Monday, March 11, yoga, writing, temescal
  • Tuesday, March 12-Thursday, March 14, yoga, writing, open time, individual consultations
  • Friday, March 15, yoga, writing, reception and reading
  • Saturday, March 16, 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.

Base Cost: $1,195 per person double occupancy with shared bath facilities. Single rooms are available with a single supplement. A limited number of double occupancy rooms with private bath, and single occupancy with private bath are available. Please indicate your preference below.

[ ] Option 1: I will share a room, double occupancy with shared bath, $1,195 per person.

[ ] Option 2: I prefer a single room with shared bath for a total of $1,295 per person.

[ ] Optional 3: I will share a room, double occupancy, with private bath for a total of $1,295.

[ ] Option 4: I prefer a single room with private bath for a total of $1,495.

[ ] Option A: 5-hour Zapotec cooking class on Saturday, March 16 (you will depart on Sunday March 17), includes local market shopping tour and lunch.  Add $120 (includes class, one night lodging, three meals).

[ ] Option B: One-hour massage scheduled during open times in the weekly schedule. Add: $50.

[ ] Option C: 5 CEUs (Continuing Education Units) for 18 contact hours of instruction, with certificate of completion, $75.

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

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.

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 additional costs) shall be paid by January 10, 2013. Payment is requested or PayPal. We will  send you an itemized invoice when you say 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.

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.

 

Photo Diaries: Blending Photography and Prose

What is photojournalism?  Our workshop instructor June Finfer, Chicago documentary filmmaker/photographer/playwright explains it this way:  It is making a picture, capturing the connection, creating something out of what you are feeling as you go beyond the surface of what you see.

Our charge this week is to make photographs and then write about impressions that our photographs evoke.  The narrative accompanies the picture.  June asks us to consider each photo and what persona relationship we have to it.  Can a photo answer questions such as:  What do you expect here?  What is it about this experience that has changed you?    ”The exercise becomes like a picture story, says June. “Photography creates possibilities for a common language when language is a barrier. We all go to the same places and each of us comes back with a different feeling, experience, impression.”

Photograph #1:  Making Tamales by Norma Hawthorne

Las mujeres, the women, sit together under the palapa, ancient hands and some younger and still soft, take a fistful of soft masa paste, smear it into the cups of  tender young green corn husks.  They are comadres, sit together under starlight.  A child clings to his mother’s apron hem. Together they sing an ancient hymn of womanhood under the stars by the campfire, preparing the meal, obscured by steam from the cooking pot.  For eternity, for now, for us.

Photograph #2:  Tlacolula Child in Yellow by Norma Hawthorne

Lost underfoot or forgotten?  Which among those legs and backs is the parent who loves her and leaves her to look out at something distant, beyond her grasp.  It is a feast day.  Their attention is on the priest who gives mass and absolution.  She looks toward a future unknown.  Were she mine, I would hold her and cherish her, this small, delicate child dressed in yellow.

Photography #3:  Woman with Bundle by Norma Hawthorne

A refreshment is what she asks for.  I ask for a photo.  Perhaps, she says with lips pursed and a glint in one eye.  I am not stealing her soul.  Her hat is a bundle of grain stored in a grain sack, stamped words too blurred to read even magnified.  Here she is: proud, defiant, strong, survivor beyond what is possible to endure.  Her hat sanctifies her, a blessing.  She is my gift of the day and I return the gift with pesos for a refresco.  A dios.

Photograph #4:  Señor Secundino at Las Cuevitas by Norma Hawthorne

Rugged, etched wood, rough-hewn, the texture of life — furrowed brow, creased cheek, gnarled hand, cracked leather strap, bristled mustache, mottled goatskin pulled taut over pine drum, rough pine, watch the splinters, tiny diamond pattern in finely woven straw hat, a brim offering a bit of shade.  But now it is night.  The shadow cast by an exposed light bulb defines him: solid, durable, tenacious.

Photograph #5:  Sunset at Las Cuevitas 2012 by Norma Hawthorne

Shadowy figures, silhouettes mark time until sun sets.  Beyond are mountains, magnificent purple, black.  Sun rays spray the clouds like a crown of glory.  In the dusk muffled voices utter a universal prayer for the ages:  peace, good health, shelter and warmth.  See the distant town.  The church steeple.  The call to forgiveness.  Feliz y prospero año nuevo. 

Oaxaca Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat is coming up March 2-9.  Consider joining us.

 

Vocal Yoga: Medicine Melodies, Ah Ohm Hoong Rahm Zah

A moment remembered from the Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat:

Our yoga guide Beth Miller gathers us around her in a circle.  We sit on chairs, backs tall.  At the head of the room is the traditional Zapotec altar complete with candlesticks and an incense burner ready for the next celebration.  Forefinger touches thumb to form a circle.  We rest arms on knees, close our eyes, take a deep breath and then another.  Inhaling yet again, deeper, each of us releases sound from within, from the center of our being.  From the third eye, to the throat, to the heart, to the belly, to the secret chakra of the woman’s womb, the place where we release the child from our bodies, whether real or imaginary.

Beth will be teaching this summer, July 5-11, in Teotitlan del Valle.

We sing clear, mouths open, full.  It does not matter if one or the other of us cannot carry a tune.  There is no shame in our voices as we expel the breath and accompanying sound.  It fills the room and the walls reverberate.  The sound is another sister and it envelops us.  Elena Gutierrez, in whose home we practice this vocal yoga, tells us we sound like a sacred ashram.  The melodies we chant become integral to the creative energy we develop as each day passes.  The sound gives us connection, power, peace, and allows us to lift our creative voices high.

With hands put together in the prayer of honoring each other, we bow and leave the room in silence.

This silence is sparkling clean.  Bird sounds are amplified.  The cup placed onto the tablecloth is an act of intention.  The table vibrates slightly to receive it.

Next is the taste of crunchy fresh tortillas soaking up spicy black bean paste topped with slivers of sweet white onion, translucent.  A sprinkle of chopped fresh cilantro and queso fresco like white paint splattered on a black canvas adorns the morsel.

My spoon cuts and I lift spoon to mouth, taste the crunch again, the corn ground by Magda’s able hands, formed in her palms, toasted on the comal in the courtyard, turned four times by fingers old enough to tell the story of eternal woman.

The black heat of bean paste smeared on tiny tortilla, the crunch of corn with cilantro punctuation are full in my mouth.  My tongue receives them like a host, hot flame of spice engulfs my mouth, a vessel holding the flavors of earth.