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March Book Review: Lying by Sam Harris

As a young, impressionable girl in elementary Catholic school in sunny California in the 1970’s, I learned to lie. Yes, you read that correctly: I learned to lie.

Every week, I was required to attend confession, where I was to tell a priest what my sins were for the week. As a very shy youth, I hated confession because I did not like having to tell a stranger what I did wrong. One time, I could not think of a single sin to disclose, so I lied and told the priest I had lied to my mother when I actually had not. I believe I did this to avoid embarrassment (as silly as it was). Ridiculous it was, but confessing our sins was a weekly, unavoidable occurrence, and I felt I had to say something, so I lied. This blog, however, is not about my adventures as a Catholic school girl. My point is that telling a lie, like Sam Harris succinctly explains in Lying, can sometime be arduous. I should have told the priest I could not think of a sin instead of lying to him, and we all might agree that lying is wrong, but is it wrong in all circumstances? Read Lying to find out!

Lying by Sam Harris is a short summary of the lies people tell and how they can and do negatively affect us on personal and societal level. Harris explains the two different types of lies: acts of commission and acts of omission, the differences between the two and how they affect us and the people we hurt with these lies. Sam discusses white lies, giving false impressions, false praise, keeping secrets, extreme lies, living a life of lies, when corporations or governments lie and more. In his short book, he also includes an interview with his former professor from Stanford University, Dr. Ronald A. Howard, in which he discusses very thought-provoking, difficult questions regarding the act of lying. Harris sees lying as a refusal to cooperate with others and finds the act very detrimental to the health of the individual and our society at large. I agree with him.

I found Sam Harris’s Lying, very stimulating, and I recommend it to anyone who is a student of philosophy or ethics. A personal reflection or an introspective discussion with friends will ensue after this read!

A bit about the author, Sam Harris:

Sam Harris is an author, lecturer and neuroscientist with a degree in philosophy and a Ph.D. in neuroscience. He is the author of five New York Times bestsellers. His other books include The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation, The Moral Landscape, Free Will, Waking Up, and Islam and the Future of Tolerance (with Maajid Nawaz). The End of Faith won the 2005 PEN Award for Nonfiction. His writing and public lectures cover a wide range of topics including neuroscience, moral philosophy, religion, meditation practice, human violence, and rationality. Harris’s work has been published in more than 20 languages and has been discussed in The New York Times, Time, Scientific American, Nature, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, and many other journals. Mr. Harris is also cofounder of Project Reason, a nonprofit foundation devoted to spreading scientific knowledge and secular values.

To learn more about Sam Harris, or to purchase Lying, visit his website: SamHarris.org.

 

 


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February Book Review: Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson

“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” – Albert Einstein

What humble words mumbled by one of my all-time, favorite geniuses, Albert Einstein. I highly doubt anyone on this planet thinks that Einstein was “no special talent;” however, Einstein viewed himself as a kid in a sandbox when he daydreamed about the universe and its intricate details and workings. Work was play. Thinking, figuring and wondering was his unabashed enjoyment. He worked alone and frequently relied on his intuition. Einstein was the ultimate example of tapping into the creative intelligence. His curiosity and unwavering drive for answers would eventually lead him to become one of the greatest minds of all time. Oh, the lessons we can learn from him!As a lifelong, passionate fan of Albert Einstein, I knew a bit about him, but after reading Walter Isaacson’s biography, Einstein: His Life and Universe, I saw the genius from a different perspective. The book is a detailed summary of all aspects of Einstein’s life. Isaacson not only chronologically explains Einstein’s work in regard to his theory of special relativity, quantum physics, his involvement in the creation of the atomic bomb, but he also tells a compelling story about the geniuses’ personal life and his anti-war activism during WWI (and more!). Professor Einstein, known as the Father of Cosmology, believed in a universal intelligence and wanted a one-world government for ultimate peace on Earth. As a self-absorbed scientist so immersed in his work, he would sometimes spend months ignoring his family. His first wife, a physicist and intellectual colleague, found herself having to compete with him in a male-dominated profession and would eventually become resentful, depressed and physically ill. A bitter divorce ensued and Albert Einstein remarried. Isaacson brings to life the humanity behind the genius.

I recommend Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson to anyone who is curious about the man behind the theories of relativity and quantum mechanics. It was a pleasure to read this book and to learn more about this incredible man.

A bit about the author, Walter Isaacson:

Walter Isaacson is an American writer and journalist. He is the President and CEO of the Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C. He has been the chairman and CEO of Cable News Network (CNN) and the Managing Editor of Time Magazine. In addition to writing Einstein: His Life and Universe, Isaacson has written biographies of Steve Jobs, Benjamin Franklin and Henry Kissinger. In 2012, he was selected as one of the Time 100, the magazine’s list of the most influential people in the world. Mr. Isaacson has honorary degrees from Tufts University, Cooper Union, William & Mary, Franklin University Switzerland, University of New Orleans, University of South Carolina, City University of New York , Pomona College, Lehigh University, Duke University, and Colorado Mountain College and has received numerous awards throughout his lifetime.

To purchase Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson, visit Amazon.

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com

 

 


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A Short Tribute to Louise Hay

What do you say about a woman whose books saved your life? There are no words but a heart full of gratitude and awe.

There are few people who cross our paths and truly inspire us so profoundly that we are never the same again. These people are sometimes one in a million, and when they appear in our lives, we never forget them.  For me, one of those people was Louise Hay, who passed away in her sleep at the age of ninety yesterday, August 30, 2017.

Interestingly, yesterday morning I was writing a book review on one of Louise’s many life-changing books, You Can Heal Your Life. After publishing the blog, I immediately discovered she had passed away at the same time that I was writing about her. I almost fell off my chair!

This morning, I decided to plant a special rose bush in my backyard in memory of Louise, who loved to spend time in her jaw-dropping garden in San Diego, California. It is how I choose to mourn the loss of such a beautiful person and my way of remembering her.20170831_095852

So, Louise, if you can hear me somehow (I hope you can, but no one really knows),

This rose bush I planted today is for you. It is a reminder every time I see it grow and flourish with gorgeous roses in my garden of how you saved my life with your wisdom, your kindness, your gentleness and your inspiring words. Thank you for writing your books! You have helped millions improve their lives. To say that the world is a better place because you were part of it is such an understatement. Thank you, Louise Hay, for having the courage to rise above what happened to you, to become an inspirational teacher, a friend to so many and a leader for all people. Please know that I have named my rose bush “Louise” to remind me of you and your inner beauty, strength, growth, courage and gentleness.  Love you always. Rest in peace, wise soul.

To learn about Louise Hay and how she changed the world, visit HayHouse.com.

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com

 


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January Book Review: You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay

In her ninety years young, Louise Hay has transformed millions of lives with her simple message: “What you think and what you believe is what will come true for you. Your thoughts create your life.”

She is absolutely correct!

You Can Heal Your Life by powerhouse teacher and lecturer, Louise Hay, is a profound eye-opener and one of my favorite books of all-time because it is a life changer!  Louise explains thoroughly how every thought that we think in the present creates our future.  She discusses how guilt, criticism and resentment are very damaging patterns that cause a state of disease in our bodies and how releasing these patterns will heal us.  She tells the story of her fight with cancer and how she healed herself without conventional medicine (including chemotherapy or radiation) but instead used alternative healing methods, incorporated new beliefs and released anger and resentment from a horrific childhood.

Although I do not agree with some of Louise Hay’s conclusions, I do believe without a doubt that we are what we think, or in other words, what we think in the present does create our future. I have lived it: Having been ignorant of how the mind works in the past, I created a difficult life; however, when I worked to eliminate the untrue beliefs and thoughts I had for years and replaced them with the truth, I created and lived a beautiful life.  Having recently read You Can Heal Your Life and after incorporating Louise’s suggestions, I have seen positive changes in myself and in my life, once again! The most important lesson that Louise teaches is how to accept and love ourselves wholly.

I highly recommend You Can Heal Your Life by pioneer Louise Hay for anyone who is struggling with understanding why your life never improves or for anyone interested in holistic health,  metaphysics, or living an authentic, beautiful life. Her suggestions do work and they will change your life!

A bit about the author, Louise Hay:

Louise Hay is an internationally renowned lecturer, metaphysical teacher and best-selling author of many books, including Heal Your Body from A to Z and Empowering Women. Her books have been translated into twenty nine languages in thirty five countries throughout the world. Since the beginning of her career as a Science of Mind minister in 1981, she has assisted millions of people in discovering the full potential of their own creative power to heal and transform. Louise Hay is also the founder of Hay House Inc., a self-publishing company that distributes books, audios and videos that contribute to personal healing and the healing of our planet.

To learn more about Louise Hay or to purchase You Can Heal Your Life, visit her websites, LouiseHay.com and HealYourLife.com.

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com

 

 

 


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Heed the Big, Blue House

Do you ever wonder what is behind the front doors of the houses you see in your neighborhood? Do you ever wish you could take a peek? Do you ask yourself, “Who lives there? What is their story?”

I do. Many times.

I live near a serene, beautiful walking path that I frequent often. There, I find deer, rabbits, birds, insects and worms (and sometimes snakes) enjoying their small, undisturbed plot of land. On the way to this path, I always stroll past a beautiful and big, blue house.  Now, my neighborhood is not unique; every house is made from the same, cookie-cutter, corporate mold, even though each house has a distinct aura about them, of course. The big, blue house is different. It stands out. My eye is always on it, each and every time I pass by.

The big, blue house is immaculate. When I say, immaculate, I mean utterly without a fault. The paint is crisp, sky blue, almost as if it is touched up every day (it isn’t, of course). The trim on the house is a simple shade of white without a single speck of dirt. As a matter of fact, there is not a smidgen of dirt anywhere on the outside of that house – no oil in the driveway, no cracks in the pavement, no leaves blowing anywhere in the vicinity. The landscaping is jaw-dropping – a variety of beautiful trees, red and pink rose bushes, lovely irises and dahlias, sparkling, healthy, perfectly-trimmed (definitely real), green grass that inspires me to knock on their door and ask what kind of manure they use! In the spring and summer, the front porch is decorated with large, gorgeous hanging plants and a lovely, pleasant wind chime like a harp that seems to make peaceful, beautiful music (it makes me want to sit on the porch, but I dare not). The big, blue house should be on the front page of Home Magazine, every month. There is nothing out of place – not even a blade of grass.

There is no doubt in my mind that someone is working very hard keeping this house “up to par,” and I do wonder what the inside of that house looks like. Is it as immaculate on the inside as it is on the outside? Do the people within those walls take the same care inside as they do outside? Do they care for themselves as well as they do their house? I will probably never know the answer to those questions, but I do know how it makes me feel when I walk by the big, blue house. I can’t help but think about how we, as humans, focus on what we see and not what might exist behind or beyond appearances. I determined that the reason I am so mesmerized by the blue house is because I realize the house is a metaphor. It is a reminder of the human condition: we assume it is greener on the other side (in someone else’s life) by outward appearance.  We assume the other person must have an easy life, or the person at work must have not suffered like we have. Or, we assume, they have it all together and have perfect lives. Things might appear immaculate, but are they really?

May I encourage you to look beyond the appearance of the big, blue house? You see, deep down, we are all the same: we all seek happiness and avoid pain; we all want love, acceptance and intimacy; we all want to live joyful lives and feel safe. Most importantly, we all share pain of some sort, one or two experiences that are the catalyst that shaped our lives for the better or for the worse. We are people. We are human, and there is more to us than how we appear to each other. May I encourage you to look at the people in your life – at work, at home or in the neighborhood – with a new, compassionate love? It does not matter what their color, race, nationality, sex, class, religious or political affiliation is. They have a story just like you do, and it’s those stories (heart-felt life experiences) that help us make much needed, genuine connections and bridge differences.

It seems that people today are afraid of each other’s differences and make many unfounded assumptions. Social media is full of people determining who is right, who is wrong, who is a troll, who is a friend, who is a conspiracy theorist, and who is a jerk. We make generalizations and believe these determinations without merit or facts. I have fallen into this trap as well and have made wrong assumptions.  Although it is normal to make an assessment of someone by first appearance (even on social media), the truth is we do not know much about them unless we see beyond their “big, blue house.”  Let’s rise above this. Let’s take a step back and attempt to see the whole picture. May I encourage you to try to empathize and understand people from their perspective, even if you might not agree with them? Can I inspire you to look beyond their house, what they show to the world?

So today, as you go about your business and find people around you, take the time to ask, or simply do not assume. It will make the world less BLUE and more BIG.

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com

 


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Scrapbooking: How it Changed my Life and Lifted the Pain

I am a scrapbooking junkie. I admit it.

One of my favorite things to do at any time is to put together albums of photographs of the years I have lived. This is an activity that when done time stops for me. I don’t look at the clock, and before I know it, the entire day has passed in contentment, creative activity and complete peace. Every page starts off blank before I add photographs, embellishments and journaling. I have to say that this does not intimidate me because it is my forte and my hobby. It is my mental release, my way of making sense of the world, my experiences and the lessons I have learned in life thus far; it is my bliss.

Life, however, was not always so “blissful.” Over a decade ago, prior to discovering my love of scrapbooking, I had been in a difficult, diseased and depressed stage of life. Maybe you have experienced something similar, but back then, I awakened uninterested, sullen and troubled, heavy-burdened, and mildly, if not chronically depressed. I struggled with a few minor illnesses and a few benign tumors with the threat of surgery. Life had become burdensome. I had lost my zest. I survived by doing what was expected of me. Like a robot, I did my duties and lived a life devoid of passion, of interest. I had forgotten who I was. I had forgotten what made me smile, what made my heart come alive, and what I loved to do. I had forgotten the creativity within me, and back then I did not know that it was that creativity, still deep inside somewhere, that would resurrect my spirit to a spirit of excitement and abundant life.

My life changed sixteen years ago on a beautiful day in April in the Rockies as walked on the path near home with a new friend. As we strolled and talked, she explained to me about how she recorded her memories with photographs she had taken and how much fun it was! She even added stickers and used colored, acid-free paper and special pens in her albums to allow them to last for as long as possible.  As she spoke, I felt an undeniable spark spring up in my heart. I knew then that I needed to create scrapbooks myself.  And, so it began.

That day changed my life. However, I would not know how much until about a year later. I immediately bought an album to get started on. The first album I worked on was a re-creation of a scrapbook I had made of my high school years that was literally falling apart (the paper was already disintegrating). This was a big project, but I was determined to complete it. I dismantled the old scrapbook and removed all the old photographs I had collected from high school. I then scanned them and had them reprinted. I bought a royal blue album, all the acid-free paper I would need, some stickers, royal blue and gold paper (my school colors) to place behind the photographs and special pens that do not bleed and will last a very long time. I was excited! I envisioned how I wanted the album to look and planned how I was going to design it before I started putting it together. This creative endeavor got me out of bed in the morning. It gave me the will to live.

As I started putting together this album, I began to realize how involved and active I was when I was in high school. The memories of all that I was involved in came flooding back, and I started feeling better. I remembered all the different kinds of friends I had: the jocks, the geeks, the boy-crazy, drama queens, the shy ones, and even some of the “party-ers.” Back then, I was popular, and I had the ability to make friends with anyone. I did not judge much, and I was happy. As I created page after page and section after section of my scrapbook, I realized that I was a diverse person, and that is how I functioned best and happiest. I relished in the memories of my cross-country and track teams and all the races we participated in. I remembered the times I would run to drill team practice right after cross country practice hoping the dance leader would not notice that I was 45 minutes late! I remembered the Science Club and French Clubs that I was a part of and the trip to Europe I was fortunate enough to experience during my junior year. I discovered that I had a poetic side, a scientific side, was very athletic and competitive, romantic, spirited and adventurous. I was more than I had imagined, and I felt alive back then. Most importantly, I discovered through this creative process what kind of life truly made my happy, and I realized that I was far from living that fulfilling life now.

Putting together and completing the scrapbook and thus remembering all that I experienced in the past, touched a part of me deeply and lifted my depression enough to the point where I could now deal with all my other ailments and not live in denial anymore. Discovering this creative endeavor was the catalyst that began the process of authentic health (emotionally, physically and spiritually) for me and restored my life to a life of joy. I began to make the changes necessary to bring myself to a peaceful and healthy existence. The changes would eventually lead me to new experiences and discoveries about myself. Holistic health did not happen overnight, and it is always a continuous process, but I am forever thankful to a friend who, until now, had no idea how much of an impact she had on my life just by speaking up about how she used her innate creativity. I often ask myself periodically, however, if I had not inconspicuously stumbled upon scrapbooking, would have happened to me.  Humbling thought.

Today, I continue to scrapbook because I love the process of putting together albums of my experiences (the joyful times and the challenging, difficult times) to understand and interpret my life. Scrapbooking helps me to appreciate life, to celebrate it and learn from it. It is also a lot of fun! Most importantly, scrapbooking helps me to know who I am and what I can become. 

Has your spirit died? Have you forgotten what makes you smile? Embark upon a creative activity; it will bring you joy and fulfillment, rest for your soul, and help you remember what is most important in life: living with peace and sharing your passion and creativity.

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Dear Microsoft: absolutely not.

Here is a spot-on article on what reality is for women in STEM professions. Thanks, Monica Bryne. I could not agree more that the responsibility lies in the hands of those in power and not on young girls!

monica byrne

And it has nothing to do with your software. It has to do with your new ad campaign, which I happened to see while I was at the gym last week. Here’s the gist: brilliant young girls express their ambitions to cure cancer and explore outer space and play with the latest in virtual reality tech. Then—gotcha!—they’re shown a statistic that only 6.7% of women graduate with STEM degrees. They look crushed. The tagline? “Change the world. Stay in STEM.”

Are you fucking kidding me?

Microsoft, where’s your ad campaign telling adult male scientists not to rape their colleagues in the field? Where’s the campaign telling them not to steal or take credit for women’s work? Or not to seriallysexuallyharasstheirstudents? Not to discriminate against them? Not to ignoredismiss, or fail to promote them at the same rate as men? Not to publish their work at a statistically…

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