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September Book Review: The Four Elements of Change by Heather Ash

“When we bring our attention back to discovering who we are in the inside – not who we wish we were or who we think we should be – we begin a sacred path of transformation toward our innate, authentic, embodied power.” – Heather Ash

As a Western spiritual teacher and seeker using Toltec wisdom, Heather Ash in The Four Elements of Change brilliantly teaches us how to improve or rebuild ourselves holistically. She explains how the four elements of nature – air, fire, water, and earth – are metaphors for the mind, spirit, emotions, and body. Understanding how these elements are absolutely essential for our survival (we cannot live without air, fire, water, or the earth) and learning how to integrate them help us to transition from one way of being to another, to release old beliefs that do not serve us, or are the catalyst in showing us how to create new thoughts or habits. The four elements as metaphors are a way to assimilate information effectively as we make life transitions.

Most of us struggle when we are attempting to change something about our lives. Whether by force or by volition, when we are moving to a new city, leaving a job, going back to school, ending a relationship, or establishing a new habit, for example, we struggle. We become discouraged, perceive difficulties, are struck with fear, and easily want to give up. Heather Ash explains why this happens and how the four elements play a part in helping us deal effectively with these thoughts and emotions.  Ash further uses metaphors to explain the elements – my favorite is the cycles of the seasons: air is spring, summer is fire, fall is water, and earth is winter. Lastly, the author explains how the elements are guides to help us live in alignment with nature and our own essence. Each element is a tool for becoming more present, for internal healing, and for learning about ourselves.

I highly recommend Heather Ash’s The Four Elements of Change to anyone seeking spiritual wisdom during difficult life changes, or to anyone who is interested in Toltec wisdom. As someone who just recently changed careers and is in the process of starting a few new ventures, this book was very pertinent and was a pleasure to read. It is a short book but rich beyond measure with wisdom.

A bit about the author, Heather Ash:

HeatherAsh-Amara

Heather Ash brings a rich blend of Toltec wisdom, European shamanism, Buddhism, and Native American ceremony to her teachings and writings to support each individual in the manifestation of his or her highest potential. She is the founder of the Toltec Center of Creative Intent in Berkeley, CA, and is the author of the Warrior Goddess book series in addition to The Four Elements of Change. Heather studied and taught extensively with don Miguel Ruiz, the author of The Four Agreements. Inspiring people to liberate their full voice and power, Heather offers retreats, online certifications, online events, workshops, and online resources.

To learn more about Heather Ash and what she offers, visit: HeatherAsh.com. To purchase The Four Elements of Change, visit Amazon.

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com

 


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August Book Review:  Heart Thoughts: A Treasury of Inner Wisdom by Louise Hay

There is always time for inspiration!

As a tribute to the late Louise Hay (Oct 8, 1926-Aug 30, 2017), I’ve decided to review one of her many books, Heart Thoughts: A Treasury of Inner Wisdom, in hopes of motivating you to improve your thinking.

Louise Hay’s Heart Thoughts: A Treasury of Inner Wisdom is a book of inspirational “affirmations” to help us live healthier and happier lives. Affirmations are conscious or unconscious statements of truth we believe about ourselves. These “truth” statements create our moments, our days, and our lives, so it is important to look within and analyze what we believe. In addition to affirmations, Louise uses meditations, spiritual treatments, and advice to help us improve or change our thinking. She divides her book by themes such as relationships, self-love, money, career, wisdom, and health, for example. You can pick up the book and start reading Hay’s wisdom at any chapter and find incredible insights. It is a good book to have on your nightstand for daily or nightly encouragement.

I know some people might find affirmations a bit silly and useless (I know I did when I had first heard of them!), but I encourage you to give them a try. After reading Louise’s book, I decided to try them myself. I discovered that telling myself something new and positive did, in fact, change the course of my day and lifted my spirits. As a person who has recovered from a very negative and difficult childhood, Louise Hay’s affirmations have helped me to see myself differently and change some destructive, long-held, subconscious beliefs. Incorporating Hay’s affirmations literally was a life-changer for me!

Below are some examples of affirmations found on LouiseHay.com.

  1. It’s only a thought, and a thought can be changed.
  2. The point of power is always in the present moment.
  3. Every thought we think is creating our future.
  4. I am in the process of positive change.
  5. I now go beyond other people’s fears and limitations.
  6. It is safe to look within.
  7. I forgive myself and set myself free.
  8. As I say yes to life, life says yes to me.

I highly recommend Heart Thoughts: A Treasury of Inner Wisdom by Louise Hay to anyone who seems to be stuck in negative thinking patterns, those who do not love or accept themselves, or anyone who is seeking more joy in their lives.

A bit about the author, Louise Hay:

Louise Hay

Louise Hay was 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 was 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. She passed away on Aug 30, 2017, at the age of ninety.

To learn more about Louise Hay or to purchase Heart Thoughts: A Treasury of Inner Wisdom, visit her website, LouiseHay.com.

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com


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July Book Review: The 5 Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage by Mel Robbins

Do you ever wake up and not want to get out of bed? Or, you just don’t want to face the day? I think we all do. We want to stay under the warm covers so we keep hitting the snooze over and over again.  Some of us might even be slightly depressed or just unmotivated. Well, there is a solution to this conundrum.

Mel Robbins, as she explains in The 5 Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage, discovered an absolutely easy and successful way to stop the morning blues with a simple technique she calls the 5 Second Rule, a backwards count from five to one. Honestly, I thought this was too simple when I first read it in her book; even Mel agreed with me – she calls her child-like rule “stupid.” There are many life coaches, counselors, therapists, healers, experts, and gurus offering solutions to the “morning blues,” our lack of motivation, or our avoidance of what we know we need to do; however, I have found that Mel Robbins’ 5 Second Rule works!  Mel’s book shows how it is possible to change our behavior, five seconds at a time, so we can create the life of our dreams.

Mel’s story is unquestionably inspiring. In her book, she explains about how she managed to pull herself out of a very low point in her life by accidentally discovering the 5 Second Rule, and how she later found the scientific reasons why the rule works. She exposes how motivation is overrated and actually a destroyer of our goals. The book outlines how to end procrastination, how courage and fear affect our brain chemistry and what it means, and why we dread some activities and look forward to others.  She concludes with a chapter on how to become the most fulfilled person and how to build self-confidence. Her writing is truly encouraging, easy to comprehend, comical, and entertaining! Mel also includes many social media posts and emails throughout her book from people who have improved their lives dramatically by using her 5 Second Rule. After this reading, I have started to use the rule and have already experienced a positive difference in my life and in my attitude.

I recommend The 5 Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage by Mel Robbins to anyone who feels stuck or to those who are not sure why they can’t seem to take that first, scary step to achieve their goals. It will help propel your life in the right direction!

A bit about the author, Mel Robbins:

Mel Robbins is a dynamic speaker, TV personality, writer, coach, and influencer. Her TEDx Talk on “How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over” has over 10 million views across thirty seven countries, and her book on the brain and productivity, Stop Saying You’re Fine, is a business bestseller that has been translated into four languages. She started her career as a criminal defense attorney and went on to launch and sell a retail and internet technology company. Mel is currently one of CNN’s most popular on-air commentators and opinion writers. She has an extensive television résumé as an expert on human behavior and motivation for Good Morning America, Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, Oprah, The Today Show and Fox News. She was named America’s Outstanding News Talk show Host at the 2014 Gracie Awards. Mel Robbins is a Dartmouth College and Boston College Law School graduate; she lives in the Boston area but remains a Midwesterner at heart.

To learn more about Mel Robbins or to purchase The 5 Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage, visit: MelRobbins.com.

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com

 

 

 


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June Book Review: The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails edited by John W. Loftus

“In their most inner thoughts, even the most devout Christians know that there is something illegitimate about belief. Underneath their profession of faith there is a sleeping giant of doubt….In my experience, the best way to conquer doubt is to yield to it.” – Dan Barker, pastor-turned-atheist

The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails edited by John W. Loftus, a former Christian preacher turned atheist, is a brilliant compilation of fifteen arguments written by various distinguished atheists, and in my opinion, is the best critique of the Christian faith I have ever read. I was astounded by this book! I have never encountered a more compelling and thorough reading that covered an incredible amount of information with solid refutations of claims made from top Christian apologists.

The essays in this book cover and refute the claims and belief that modern society has Christian foundations; they cover the lack of solid evidence to show the Resurrection as true; they show that scripture does not portray God as good; and they argue that it is foolish to believe the Bible is the word of God, and much more. Using anthropological, archaeological, cultural, psychological, philosophical, ethical, cognitive, scientific, historical, and cosmological criticisms, this book destroys Christianity. The rest of the essays cover why Jesus cannot be the son of God, why morality did not originate in the Bible, and the problems with biblical scholarship. The arguments presented are compelling and exemplary.

I recommend The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails to those who are seeking the truth about Christianity’s many illusive, nagging questions, or if you are a Christian having “never-ending doubts” because something does not make sense. This collection of arguments is thorough, well-presented, well-documented, and very-well argued. I would say it is the go-to book on why Christianity absolutely fails. Anyone trying to argue against what is found in this book, well…good luck with that!

John W. Loftus, editor

A bit about the contributing writers of The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails:

Hector Avalos, Ph.D., professor of religious studies at Iowa State University and author of Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence and The End of Biblical Studies.

Edward T. Babinski is the editor of Leaving the Fold: Testimonials of Former Fundamentalists and his writings are available the Secular Web, Talk Origins, and Debunking Christianity.

Richard Carrier, Ph.D., is philosopher and expert historian of antiquity, is the author of On the Historicity of Jesus Christ, Sense and Goodness with God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism, Not the Impossible Faith: Why Christianity Didn’t Need a Miracle to Succeed, and other books.

David Eller, Ph.D., is the assistant professor of anthropology at the Community College of Denver and is the author of Natural Atheism, Atheism Advanced: Further Thoughts of a Freethinker, and a college textbook, Introducing Anthropology of Religion.

John W. Loftus, M.A, M.Div., Th.M., is the author of Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity and founder of Debunking Christianity blog. He is editor of The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails.

Jason Long, Ph.D., is the author of Biblical Nonsense: A Preview of the Bible for Doubting Christians and The Religious Condition: Answering and Explaining Christian Reasoning.

Valerie Tarico, Ph.D., is the author of The Dark Side: How Evangelical Teachings Corrupt Love and Truth and of Leaving the Fold: Testimonials of Former Fundamentalists.

Paul Tobin is the author of The Rejection of Pascal’s Wager: A Skeptic’s Guide to the Bible and the Historical Jesus.

To purchase The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails, visit Barnes and Noble.

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com

 


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May Book Review: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

It’s 5 a.m. It’s quiet, and it’s my favorite part of the day.

Introverts love quiet: quiet mornings, quiet afternoons and a contemplative walk, quiet evenings with a great book and an animal (or two), quiet workplaces so they can create. I am an introvert. I’m a lucky introvert because I stumbled upon Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, a book that thoroughly demonstrates that not only is it okay to be introverted, but there are so many advantages to being one. Are you an introvert?  Did you know that you are okay as you are? If not, look no further – read Cain’s book!

Susan Cain in Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, begins by explaining how extroversion became the norm in society (even how extroversion is preferred over introversion) followed by considerable evidence demonstrating how collaboration or “group work” actually kills creativity. Even though most of our workplace is designed for extroverts, evidence shows that working alone cultivates and sustains creative thinking. According to research psychologist Anders Ericcson, it is when we are alone that we can engage in deliberate creativity and practice; it is only then that we can identify knowledge just out of our reach, strive to upgrade our performance, monitor our progress, and improve. Working in a group setting, he advises, is counterproductive because it reinforces current cognitive mechanisms. But, how many of us have the capability of working alone, and why is society set up to value extroversion? Susan Cain discusses these important questions.

Cain discusses how charismatic leadership in our business world is a myth, and that introverts actually fair just as well, if not better, than extroverts in all areas of study and business. One out of every three people is introverted. Research shows that creative individuals became masters in their work by consistently spending time alone immersing themselves in their craft. Who are some of the world’s creative introverts? How about Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, George Orwell, J.K. Rowling, Marcel Proust, Charles Schutz, Steven Spielberg, George Orwell, Charles Darwin, Marie Curie, Steve Wozniak, Frederic Chopin, W.B. Yeats, and the list goes on. Can you imagine life without this list?

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking also discusses temperament and the biology of introverts and extroverts, nature vs. nurture theories, different cultures in regards to introversion vs. extroversion, how to best communicate with both temperaments, when an introvert might have to act more extroverted and why, and finally, how to cultivate and sustain the introvert in an extroverted world. Cain ascertains that the world needs a better balance between extroversion and introversion. Her book is very well researched and a pleasure to read.

I highly recommend Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. This book is rich with valuable information, and this blog has only reviewed part of it. I recommend this reading to anyone interested in this topic but especially to introverts.  It will help you see that there is nothing wrong with you, that it is okay to be introverted. I also advise this reading to business owners or managers so you can better support your staff with their development and company goals.

A bit about the author, Susan Cain:Susan Cain

Susan Cain is the co-founder of Quiet Revolution and the author of the bestseller Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts in addition to Quiet: The Power of Introverts in A World That Can’t Stop Talking, which has been translated into forty languages and has been on the New York Times bestseller list for almost three years. Susan is also the co-founder of the Quiet Schools Network and the Quiet Leadership Institute. Her writing has appeared in the The New York TimesThe AtlanticThe Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. Her record-smashing TED talk has been viewed over 17 million times (which is where I discovered her!). She received Harvard Law School’s Celebration Award for Thought Leadership, the Toastmasters International Golden Gavel Award for Communication and Leadership, and was named one of the world’s top fifty Leadership and Management Experts by Inc. Magazine. She is an honors graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law School. Lastly, Ms. Cain prefers listening to talking, reading to socializing, and cozy chats to group settings, like a true introvert.

To learn more about Susan Cain, or to purchase a copy of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, visit QuietRev.com.

I leave you with the Quiet Revolution Manifesto found on Susan Cain’s website, QuietRevolution.com:

  1. There is a word for “people who are in their heads too much”- thinkers.
  2. Solitude is a catalyst for innovation.
  3. The next generation of quiet kids can and must be raised to know their own strengths.
  4. Sometimes it helps to be a pretend-extrovert. There is always time to be quiet later.
  5. But in the long run, staying true to your temperament is the key to finding work you love and work that matters.
  6. One genuine relationship is worth a fistful of business cards.
  7. It’s okay to cross the street to avoid making small talk.
  8. “Quiet leadership” is not an oxymoron.
  9. Love is essential; gregariousness is optional.
  10. “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com

 

 

 

 

 

bell hooks


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April Book Review: The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love by bell hooks

An absolutely compelling read, The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love by bell hooks (she does not capitalize her name) urges us to reclaim feminism for men as the result of patriarchy maintaining its power over their lives. I have to admit that this reading left me in awe. I had not thought of the implications of patriarchy in regards to men this extensively, and I could not stop reading this book! The author addresses the damage patriarchy causes to men – the inability to be in touch with their emotions, to love wholly (themselves and others), and to truly know themselves.  Her writing is courageous and visionary.

bell’s book begins with a chapter defining patriarchy, and she states,” Patriarchy is the single most life-threatening social disease assaulting the male body and spirit in our nation.”  She explains how boys are indoctrinated detrimentally, the role media, society, and women play in harming men, and male sexual relationships and sexual violence.  hooks also examines the roles men play at work and in their relationships with women, other men, and their children. The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love explains how the men’s movement against feminism is critical of women but makes no effort to address the damage patriarchy incurs on men. The book concludes with an unapologetic denunciation of patriarchy. It suggests how to heal the male spirit, how to love men properly, and how men can reclaim their integrity, wholeness, and authenticity. She also urges feminists to fight for men as victims of patriarchy. In hooks’ words, “We have yet to create a world that asks us to stand by a man when he is seeking healing, when he is seeking recovery, when he is working to be a creator.”

I highly recommend The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love by bell hooks to anyone who is interested in feminist theory, women’s studies, patriarchy, male and female relationships, male violence towards women, gender studies, misogyny or sociology. It is truly intriguing and a well-balance argument.

A bit about the author, bell hooks:

bell hooks

bell hooks is an acclaimed intellectual, feminist theorist, cultural critic, artist, and writer. hooks has authored over three dozen books and has published works that span several genres, including cultural criticism, personal memoirs, poetry collections, and children’s books. She covers gender, race, class, spirituality, teaching, and the significance of media in contemporary culture.

Born Gloria Jean Watkins in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, bell hooks adopted the pen name of her maternal great-grandmother, a woman known for speaking her mind. hooks received her B.A. from Stanford University, her M.A. from the University of Wisconsin and her Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Cruz. In addition to The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love, some of her books include Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism, Rock My Soul: Black People and Self-Esteem, Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom, Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics, Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope, Where We Stand: Class Matters, and We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity.

To learn more about bell hooks or to purchase The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love, visit her website, bellhooksinstitute.com, or Indiebound and Amazon.

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com

 


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I’m One of the Lucky Ones; Me Too, but…

rape0-2

I’ve never been raped. I’m one of the lucky ones.

Violence from men towards women is at an alarming, disturbing high. It is extreme because we allow it. We dismiss, trivialize, ignore, and ridicule what happens to women. We laugh when woman talk about it.  We silence their voices. We do not hear their cries, and we don’t care. We traumatize women further. By “we” I mean men especially. I mean society. I mean the select groups of women – women who have bought into the abhorrent misogyny covertly embedded within patriarchy (a subject for another blog).  Bottom line: women are treated like they are expendable commodities. Feminists call this rape culture, and it must end.

I consider myself lucky – lucky that my virginity was not taken at sixteen when I was almost raped in high school by a stranger who should not have been on the track field, lucky that I was not left on the bottom of the Hudson river in New York City when I was almost raped at twenty-three; lucky that I was not raped on a date to dinner and a movie in Los Angeles when I was twenty.

I’m the Lucky One

I will tell you why I am so lucky:

Because the hired construction worker, who was a friend of the family, touched my tiny nipples right after I had hit puberty at age eleven. But, I wasn’t raped.

Because my mother fired the gardener when she caught him eyeing me from head to toe several times instead of pruning the roses. I was twelve. She did not tell my father. I wasn’t raped.

Because I was visiting Tijuana, Mexico, with my family one summer, and while walking down the street, a stranger touched my butt. I was nine or ten.

Because I lost count of how many times men have told me to smile throughout my lifetime, as if I exist just to please them.

Because saying “no” to a man is always construed as an invitation for more of … whatever. Men don’t understand “NO.”

Because I lost count of how many times men “accidentally” get too close and their hands end up feeling my ass on a crowded bus, subway, or street.

Because the jerk at the bar did not leave me alone after I told him I was not interested (Or, was it “jerks?”).

The many times when I lied outright: “I have a boyfriend.”

Because I’ve lost count of how many men from all over this world EXPECTED me to pay attention to them no matter what I was doing.

Because of the cruel and grotesque comments from men on my social media because I was standing up for myself or standing up for oppression (of any sort).

Because I lost count of the whistles, howls, obscene comments, and gestures uttered as I walked down the street minding my own business.

Because of the two high school boys behind me who yelled, “Let’s get her!” when as a middle-schooler, I was walking my bike home up the steep hill (I dropped my bike and started running towards home like a bat out of hell; they then yelled, “We were kidding – it’s okay!” Fuck them.).

Because at cross country practice in high school when I was running with my teammates, an overweight man drove by and yelled, “Go on a diet!” (NONE of us were fat, not that THAT should matter).

Because my ex-husband expected sex whenever he wanted it. Didn’t matter how I felt.

Because of the nonstop, intrusive chat messages sent on social media AFTER you tell men you are not looking for a relationship, a hookup, a boyfriend, a husband, or to even shoot the breeze.

Because women are called cunts, bitches, sluts, whores, you name it, and “just a woman” (as I was once told by a man from Iran).

Because of the many times I was thankful to be out with a boyfriend because I knew other men would then leave me alone.

Because I was sexually harassed by a male boss at a former job.

Because of the many times I was expected to play stupid so I would not embarrass (or anger) a man.

Because I was followed to the bathroom at an outdoor concert by a stoned, long-haired, sixties-freak hippie who would not leave me alone.

Because everything I mentioned above happens everywhere.

Because I can go on for pages and pages for myself and for every woman. I am the lucky one.

Rape. Date rape. Spousal rape. Partner rape. Gang rape. Serial Rape. Friend rape. College-campus rape. Child rape. Prison rape.  Transgender rape. Rape just because. (Did I miss any? By the way, I know men get raped, but guess what? Most rapists are MEN).

Rape culture.

I have never been raped. I am one of the lucky ones.

Me, Too, but…

But, I have gained so much by what I’ve experienced! I have learned to forgive, to release it, to NOT give it any more power. I am no longer a victim. You read that correctly: I AM NO LONGER A VICTIM.

But, I have learned to accept myself as I am, with or without makeup, with or without sexy clothes, with or without high heels and perfect hair.

But, I have learned that I don’t need to smile if I do not want to.

But, I have learned it is okay to tell the truth: “Thank you, but I am not interested.”

But, I have discovered it is okay not to respond; it doesn’t mean I am a bitch or a cunt.

But, I have discovered I don’t have to have the perfect body for a man to love me.

But, I have learned it is okay to walk away. It’s okay to be me. It’s okay to be emotional. It’s okay to be smart.

But, I have learned that I am a human being first, then a woman. I breathe. I am a human being!

But, I have learned I don’t exist for MAN. I live for ME.

I have found my voice.

I am.

#metoo

I’m one of the lucky ones

I am one of the lucky ones who will spend the rest of her breathing days empowering a new paradigm where women are treated like human beings, like human beings, like human beings, like human beings…

I am one of the lucky ones who will spend the rest of her breathing days standing up for equal rights for women.

I am one of the lucky ones who will teach the younger generations of women that they are just as deserving in every aspect of their lives as men.

I am one of the lucky ones who will help to end the abuse and misogyny of women worldwide.

I am the lucky one who thanks the world over that there are men out there who treat me like a human being and not like a woman. Because they are the real men.

I am a survivor.

I’m one of the lucky ones.

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com