Tag Archives: self-help

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.