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A Second Blooming - Becoming the Women We are Meant to Be

Sussan Cushman, editor for A Second Blooming, is co-leading a transformational retreat at The Homestead Education Center in Starkville, Mississippi. The book, A SECOND BLOOMING is a collection of essays by twenty authors who are emerging from the chrysalis they built for their younger selves and transforming into the women they are meant to be. They are not all elders, but all have embraced the second half of their lives with a generative spirit. Anne Lamott writes about finding herself by rejecting her false selves. Mary Karr shares wisdom from her journey to sobriety. Natasha Trethewey writes about the importance of collective memory to the restoration of the Mississippi Gulf Coast after Katrina. Sally Palmer Thomason explores spiral dynamics and sacred geometry in “The Triskele.” Susan Marquez writes about her daughter’s new life as an actor and motivational speaker after falling from her five-story apartment in New York City. 

The retreat will use this theme of re-emerging in truer form as its foundation. Five of the women who contributed essays to A Second Blooming will lead workshops during the retreat.

Workshops and Talks


Susan Cushman is editor of A Second Blooming: Becoming the Women We Are Meant to Be, as well as Southern Writers on Writing. She is author of Cherry Bomb (a novel) and Tangles and Plaques: A Mother and Daughter Face Alzheimer's (a memoir). A native of Jackson, Mississippi, she lives in Memphis. 

A Second Blooming: Becoming the Women We Are Meant to Be - Transformation - or blooming - doesn't happen organically, without the application of a tremendous amount of creative energy and action on our part. As E. E. Cummings said, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”


Ellen Morris Prewitt is a writer who has explored group creativity in hundreds of workshops. She leads workshops based on her book Making Crosses: A Creative Connection to God (Paraclete Press, 2009); for eight years she facilitated a weekly writing group of men and women experiencing homelessness, which culminated in their book, Writing Our Way Home: A Group Journey Out of Homelessness (Triton Press, 2014). She splits her time between Memphis and New Orleans. 

The Joy of Creating in a Group Setting - Labeling ourselves as uncreative often holds us back from exploring new activities that call to our hearts (I know it does for me.) Turning to the comfort and support of a group can be really helpful. In this workshop, we will talk about the three basic elements of group creativity that make exploring new ventures—from shibori to chi walking to speech writing to launching a new website—fun. We’ll make a very simple book to both experience these elements and to produce a journal for our resulting creative thoughts.


Jennifer Horne is the Poet Laureate of Alabama, 2017-2021, and is a writer, editor, and teacher who explores Southern identity and experience, especially women’s, through prose, poetry, fiction, and anthologies and in classes and workshops around the South.

How Our Stories Shape Us - How we tell our own stories, and those of others, affects the meaning we make of them—narrative not only orders but influences our knowledge, memory, and sense of self. Likewise, our senses contribute to and often evoke our memory of story: fresh-cut grass, chalk and erasers, home-cooked food. In this workshop, we’ll play with group stories, help you reflect on your own story, and begin the process of constructing fresh narratives by drawing on sensory memories and revising interpretations of past events.


Nina Gaby is a visual artist, writer, and psychiatric nurse practitioner who has
worked with clay, words and people for five decades. She currently works in
mixed-media, focusing on single edition artist books which explore the
intersection of narrative and object.

Little Altars Everywhere - In a time of deep grief I turned to making art again and developed a second wave to my creativity which continues to this day. The workshop will offer an opportunity to create a small assemblage to commemorate an object of focus, to secure a tableaux for a thought or a poem, to honor a grief, or to celebrate an idea. Some call them shrines, or altars, nichos or reliquaries. Three dimensional poems. Joseph Cornell called them shadowboxes.


Kathy Rhodes is author of Remember the Dragonflies: A Memoir of Grief and Healing. Her essay “An Open Letter” appeared in The Best Creative Nonfiction, Volume 3, and was singled out for a review in The New Yorker. She is Senior Writer/Editor at TurnStyle Writers. Rhodes lives in Nashville, where she enjoys gardening, kayaking, and walking her cocker spaniel.

Pushing Up the Sun - As life happens and hurts come, you have a choice of sitting by and waiting for healing or standing up and helping healing come: pushing up the sun. The more light you let in, the brighter your world will be. This workshop will be about proactively working toward healing, surviving, and thriving. Writing down thoughts and feelings helps you make sense of your own personal story. We will do some journaling with prompts. Journaling gets whatever you’re dealing with out of your mind and onto the page. It’s a tool to new insights, new perspectives, and self-discovery.





5:45 - 7:00 DINNER AND RECIPE SWAP - Please bring 20 copies of a recipe that helps share your story.

7:00 - 7:30 INTRODUCTION OF PRESENTERS - Alison Buehler

7:30 - 9:00 A Second Blooming - Susan Cushman (See Description Above)



7:20 - 7:50 MORNING WALK or Gentle Yoga


9:00-11:00- Using Groups to Support Your Creativity - Ellen Morris Prewitt (See Description Above)

11:30 - 2:00 Lunch and Break

2:00-4:00 - Little Altars Everywhere - Nina Gaby (See Description Above)

5:00 - Dinner in Town

7:30 - 9:30 How Our Stories Shape Us - Jennifer Horne (See Description Above)

10:00 Lights Out


7:20 Morning Walk or Gentle Yoga

8:00 Breakfast

9:00 Pushing Up the Sun - Kathy Rhodes (See Description Above)

10:30 Closing Celebration - Jerry Van Winkle Mangum

11:00 - 12: Clean Up and Departure

Full Weekend Registration - $385

*The Homestead offers partial scholarships. Please email if you would like to apply.

  • Participation and Materials Fees for all Workshops

  • Housing at The Homestead - comfortable shared rooms in a retreat-style setting are available on site. (We can recommend a hotel nearby if you prefer private accommodations)

  • Three meals made from locally sourced, healthy ingredients are arguably the best part of our Homestead retreats. *Please let us know about any food allergies and our chef can make substitutions.

  • A copy of A Second Blooming

Commuter Registration - includes all meals and workshops - $295

Membership Registration - Includes all meals and workshops - $285

Here is a write-up by Susan Marquez about a retreat at The Homestead Education Center in Mississippi Matters.

Register at the button below. You will be redirected to a registration form once payment is received, or you can fill out the form below.

*Due to our limited space and popularity, we do not provide refunds to events less than 21 days before an event. Instead, we will give you a donation form and turn your registration into a scholarship.