Archive for September, 2012

We all have a story to tell…

 I have always been a huge fan of story telling.  I could sit and listen to a good story teller all day.  One of the many reasons why I love to visit with Melitas is to listen to her stories.  She not only tells great stories, but she is so cute when she tells them.  And at the age of 94 she has a lot of stories in her.

One of the reasons I love what I do is that I am honored to hear so many of my student’s stories.  I love the connection that happens between all that are a witness to the story. 

I have said this before, but let me say it again…I read several years ago that comment in the Los Angeles Times that said the death of an older person is like the burning of a library.

Please consider writing your story.  There is only one life lived in all of time like yours and that is told by you. 

Whether you come to my workshops or just write on your own, there is a magic and a healing that happens when you put your words on paper.

Start to

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Guest blog by Pedro

I met Pedro (Peter!) several months ago at my workshops at the Palm Springs IVHP office.  He is such an enthusiastic student and I love what he brings to class each month.  Each month he shows up ready to write and share and encourage.  Every teacher should have a Pedro in their class, it is refreshing.  He sent this to me yesterday and I asked him if I could have permission to share it with you and he gave me a thumbs up!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!


Pedro Journal September 23 – My Real AUNTIE MAME
Watching/ loving the movie “Auntie Mame” last night brought back memories…it’s amazing how I can still roar every time I see the story. I originally saw Roz Russell twice live doing it at the Broadhurst Theater. Then I saw the movie several times and then the B’way musical with Angela Lansbury and then the movie musical “Mame” with Lucille Ball and even an excellent production of “Auntie Mame” at the local Jenner Playhouse years ago….all captivating especially the last scene where she starts all over and whisks away Patrick Darling’s little six year old son to show him the world….like Peter Pan…

In life I had a real Auntie Mame. She was Mary Kelly Untermeyer- my Mother’s first cousin. She was beautiful and untamed. In her younger years she became a John Powers model like my mother and she was in a production of the play “The Trial of Mary Dugan” in the late 30’s. It was heading to Broadway when her mother saw it and thought it was too risque and yanked her out. From then on – the world was her stage . She rode horses, drank like a fish, and held court every day of her life. I truly adored her. She was always in her own world but so much fun to be with . When my parents would go off for a weekend faraway Notre Dame football game, they’d leave me with Mary. She and her husband Milton were phenomenal. They lived in a huge several storied house on the Atlantic Ocean in Elberon, New Jersey. the house was modeled after the Unsinkable Molly Brown’s Palace (Hotel) in Denver,Colorado. It had wrap around inside balconies and a huge skylight on top. The staircase from the main floor up looked exactly like the staircase in Scarlett O’Hara’s house.
Milton played polo, raised flowers, worked on the Stock Market (he gave me my first job there for $50 per week) played tennis and my parents used to call him “Hucklebuckle”. The two of them were something out of “Abie’s Irish Rose”. Mary had been engaged to someone else (Carton) but eloped with Milton instead. They could fight cats and dogs but were very devoted to each other.Every Saturday Milton brought her a gardenia (See portrait at the top right) They had the cutest little bar room on the back of the first floor with a small white piano in and they’d bring people back from the bars and restaurants late into the night…there was always a show there. I learned to drink with them and even bumped into their tree leaving one night in my new used “cream puff” car ( an $800 Olds ’88 -the kind of car Mafioso dumped bodies in an abandoned.)
When a store wouldn’t take back a gameboard I got, Mary called and ordered twenty c.o.d to a fictious address. She once reached over and bit a kid who had just bitten my brother. Once she finished with him, he never bit anyone again. She got me a publicity stunt job as Mr. Gloom and I was all dressed up in tails and a high hat and was supposed to have robbed a bank, was put in a police car and taken to jail, tried in court and excecuted and then a big parade took place to take GLOOM out of Long Branch , New Jersey. Mary once told me that if she ever had a son, she’d like him to be just like me. She and Milton had three wonderful girls who grew up on that New Jersey estate (a barn with horse stalls for the polo ponies, huge flower beds, a tennis court, a large cottage (they once offered it to me) lots of land and privacy. I would always bring visitors with me and invade them late at night when I’d see lights in the bar room. I’d sneak up and use their beach across the street (I once swam out when police came along flashing their lights at midnight)
When I was in high school I missed the NYC boat up the Hudson on a class trip and called Mary who had me disappear for 36 hours while they took me out to nightclubs (like “Bill’s Gay Nineties”) My parents and the school were not happy but I stayed with them at their NYC apt. They even came to Puerto Rico when I was married and visited. They were always close to me – I cherished them both. After Mary died, I’d see her in the back of my classrooms sitting among 30 teachers and smiling at me while I’d do model teaching for thirty students. Even death would not separate her from me. and I think of her especially when Auntie Mame comes on…..Memories….
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Fall Workshops start next week! Registration closes on Friday!

I still have openings in these two workshop starting next week!  The first one begins on Tuesday and I love this workshop.  We all have things that cause us sadness or pain.  We may have worked through the pain, but sometimes life will trigger a pain we have hidden in our hearts.  Come learn how to examine and write and release.
The Legacy Class with a focus on childhood (starting on Thursday) will be a fun writing class where we will dig up those memories from childhood and write, write, write!
If either of these two classes sounds like you may be interested in them please email me at:
Healing Heart Workshop:
Tuesdays at 9:30

This is a 4 week workshop that will focus on the power of writing and letting go. The goal of this workshop is to help you write your truth. We will explore how to write about unresolved conflicts, healing past hurts and finding value, meaning and inspiration for your life. You will find that writing will put you on a path to a deeper and greater healing than you ever thought possible.


Legacy Writing:
Thursdays at 9:30

This all new legacy class will open up your experiences even deeper. Instead of spending one week writing about childhood experiences each section will dive into four weeks of discovery. Each topic will consist of a 4 week focus:

  • childhood (this will be introduced in Oct)


(Each of these will consist of a 4 week workshop.) This class will spend the majority of the time writing and sharing our experiences with each other. If you like to spend time writing and sharing – these workshops are for you!


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With Open Eyes…


When she first walked into our synagogue I was struck by her beauty. Not the beauty most of us think of when we look through the pages of the magazines. It was a deep beauty that only comes from a lifetime of living. Her hair was all white and her eyes shined. I was immediately drawn to this woman that I had never seen before. It was the beginning of Yom Kippur which is one of the holiest days of the year for those of the Jewish faith, so I was not surprised that I hadn’t seen her before. This is the service that a Jew would attend if he or she were ever to pick a once a year service. She sat down a row in front of me and to the left of me. She spoke with those around her and hugged several, so I knew she was probably a temple member, I just hadn’t noticed her before. I could here her say the common greeting of the day: “L’Shanah Tovah!” which translates to Happy New Year.

A nurse had followed her in with a very frail man in a wheelchair. Her eyes smiled upon this man, that I assumed must be her husband. As the nurse put his wheelchair in the aisle on locked the brakes the woman with the white hair gave her a smile and a wink and whispered thank you to the helping nurse.

 My mind was on the meaning of this important holy day of repentance and prayers to Adonai, but my eyes kept watching the husband and the wife.

 She held his hand tenderly during the two and a half hour service and at the end of the service she whispered in his ear and then kissed him tenderly on his face.

 The beauty of the moment struck me deeply. The love between this man and woman was probably nurtured by their lifetime of love and their sharing of their Jewish faith.

 Tears ran down my cheek as I watched the love between them.

 I went home thinking about them and when I returned to service the next morning I sat and was happy to see them both return. This time as the nurse arranged the wheelchair I watched as the woman removed the tallit (a jewish prayer shawl) from the bag she wrapped him lovingly in it. It was such a beautiful act of love and respect as he could no longer do it himself. She said the prayer over him and kissed him.

 Again I was moved to tears as I witnessed this act. The service ended around 1 and I was speaking with friends so I didn’t get to see where they went. I was hoping that they would return again because I wanted to meet this woman.

 During the afternoon I thought about what I had seen and felt from this couple. I returned for the afternoon services at 4 pm and sat down and within a few minutes the woman with the beautiful face sat down in the first pew. I waited for the wheelchair but it didn’t come. She sat alone. I watched and waited. As I sat there I felt compelled to let her know that I was touched by what I had witnessed. I didn’t know what I wanted to say exactly, but felt I had to let her know that I appreciated their sweet relationship.

 As I approached she smiled and her face was even more beautiful close up. I introduced myself and explained that I noticed her and her husband and I was touched by the love I witnessed. I told her I was moved to tears. Her face lit up and she grabbed my hand and told me her name and that her husband is the love of her life and she doesn’t want to lose him. She told me even though he doesn’t even really know her any more she still loves him so much and doesn’t want to let him go. I told her she was beautiful and then I sat down.

 It felt good to share in the life of another person, but even better when partway through the service she looked around and spotted me and then came over and whispered in my ear. The rabbi had just spoke about listening for messages from God and she said to me…you know how the rabbi told us to watch for messages from God? I shook my head yes. She went on to tell me that today was a really hard day for her and her husband was too weak to come back to service but she felt she needed to come back to temple for the afternoon service. She held my hand and said softly to me…you my dear are my messenger from God. Thank you, thank you for coming to me and telling me what you did. She squeezed my hand and we both cried together.




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Jennifer Lauck workshop filling up!

Craft Your Memoir At Last

A Writer’s Craft Retreat with NY Times Bestseller, Jennifer Lauck hosted by Tammy Coia

This is not just a class, this is a writing “experience.” You will leave this time–sixteen hours long–empowered, inspired and amazed. You will learn memoir technique, you will be given prompts, you will write and you will workshop your writing.

In this retreat you will:
1) learn the core craft aspect of a good memoir: Scene
2) be coached to develop your theme/concept
3) learn a basic downloading technique
4) understand how think like a reader
5) discover that YOU have an important story to tell

DATES/TIMES: Oct. 25, 26, & 27th ~ 5:00-9:00 Thurs, 10-4 Fri, 10-4 Sat.

LOCATION: Heritage Palms, Library, Indio, CA

COST: $530.00 (Save $50.00 by early sign up – Oct. 15, 2012)

Cost includes all your materials, including a full audio series on downloading, your meals, coffee, tea & deserts (which are fantastic by the way).

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"Because of Tammy I have found confidence in my writing and feel blessed to be honored in such a way. I have found my voice. I have found freedom! I recommend anyone for whatever reason to expand their life and sign up for her writing workshops or classes. You'll be amazed at how good you are and how everyone has a story worth telling. Sign up and set your voice free!"
Wendy Price, Palm Desert, CA

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Amherst Writers & Artists

Tammy L. Coia is an AWA Affiliate, certified to lead workshops in the AWA method as described in Writing Alone & With Others by Pat Schneider, Oxford University Press.

writing retreats for women

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