December Book Review: I am Enough: Mark Your Mirror and Change Your Life by Marissa Peer

A quick, easy but profound read, I am Enough: Mark Your Mirror and Change Your Life by Marissa Peer is a book for those who are willing to heal from their childhood emotional wounds and want a simple, very effective solution with dramatic change. Marissa’s book will help you realize what is holding you back from living the life you truly want and deserve.

Sound cheesy? Well, it’s actually not.

Let me tell you I used to be very insecure. I grew up in an emotionally abusive household and was constantly told I was never enough explicitly and implicitly: no matter what I did, it was not good enough or wrong. I was made to feel that my very existence was shameful. A childhood like this is incredibly damaging on so many levels. It takes years, decades, and sometimes a lifetime to change these beliefs and reverse the damage from this type of abuse (and it took me decades to heal). Learning how to accept and love myself, to love others, and to love my life is to thrive, and this is what Marissa’s book taught me. It can do the same for you!

Marissa demonstrates, step by step, how to heal from the emotional damage you might have experienced by changing your thinking to create happiness, better handle anxiety, and feel a million times better. She demonstrates how our thoughts can be destructive habits and to change them is to create a more joyful life, and more. What I love most about this book and Marissa’s approach is that she gets right to the bottom line: you believe you are NOT ENOUGH.

If you are addicted to alcohol or porn, if you have issues with self-image, if you eat for emotional reasons, or end up in harmful relationships, etc., you basically believe there is something wrong with you (consciously or unconsciously), or that you are not enough. Through decades of research and experience, Peer has determined that the common thread to additions or damaging behavior is the belief that we are “not enough.” She offers the solution to misery, and it is easier than you think it is.

I recommend I am Enough: Mark Your Mirror and Change Your Life by Marissa Peer to anyone who has been abused, those who struggle with low self-esteem or self-hate, and those who are ready to become healthy and happy. Honestly, you can read this in one or two hours and do the exercises she recommends, and it will improve your life!

A bit about the author, Marissa Peer:

Marissa Peer is a motivational speaker, psychologist, and hypnotherapist. She started her career as a child psychologist, and after decades of counseling clients realized there was a faster, more efficient way to heal her clients’ emotional wounds, so she developed her own pioneering hypnotic therapy. In addition, Marissa is a national magazine columnist and has appeared on major media outlets and television shows including GMTV, Lorraine Kelly, This Morning, Sky News, ITV News, BBC News, Channel 4 News, BBC Radio, Supersize Versus Superskinny, Celebrity Fit Club, Celebrity Big Brother, and I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. She has appeared on countless news channels in America, Scandinavia, Japan, Africa, and throughout Europe.

A best-selling author of five books including I am Enough, Marissa lives in Britain and improves people’s lives worldwide.

To learn more about Marissa Peer or to purchase a copy of I am Enough: Mark Your Mirror and Change Your Life, visit: MarissaPeer.com.

November Book Review: Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Truly fascinating and unique, Sapiens: A brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, is a detailed, engaging summary of the history of human beings.

Harari demonstrates how humans are the only species willing and able to believe what only exists in the imagination such as money, human rights, religion, and states. He brilliantly weaves the history of humans as far back as the Stone Age to modern day with the goal of discovering who we are and why we do what we do.

What fascinated me the most about Sapiens was the author’s viewpoint on the processes throughout history that shaped and influenced human thought: the cognitive revolution, the agricultural revolution, the creation of money, philosophical inquiry, the birth of science and the scientific revolution, capitalism and the industrial revolution, the creation of boundaries and states, the information age, genetic engineering, and more recently, artificial intelligence. Yuval also mentions how modern animal agriculture is one of the worst atrocities humans commit. His book bridges the gaps between biology, economics, history, and philosophy. It is a stunning read.

The culmination of Harari’s, Sapiens, is the conclusion regarding the upcoming artificial intelligence age. Harari argues that humans have not evolved and concludes that robots (or AI) will eventually eliminate most jobs, and that the rich will eventually be able to re-engineer bodies and minds. His book shows that humans pride themselves on their high intelligence, however most of us are not happier for it. I hate to state the obvious, but this reading provokes deep thought and emotions, and book clubs should definitely add this book to their reading list. Sapiens was received well by the general public but some scholars have criticized Harari’s assertions and conclusions.

I highly recommend Sapiens: A brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari to those interested in a deeper examination of who we are as human beings. The book covers the relationship we have with science, religion, ecology, money, politics, our happiness, and our future. For students of world history, Sapiens is a must read!

A bit about the author, Yuval Noah Harari:download harariProfessor Yuval Noah Harari is a historian, philosopher, and bestselling author. Born in Haifa, Israel, in 1976, Harari received his Ph.D. from the University of Oxford in 2002 and currently lectures at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Department of History. He has written another book, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, after writing Sapiens, and also authored 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. His books have sold millions of copies worldwide.

To learn more about Yuval Harari or to purchase Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, visit ynharari.com. 

February Book Review: Stolen Girls: Survivors of Boko Haram Tell Their Story by Wolfgang Bauer

Did you know there is a very violent group called Boko Haram (meaning “Western education is forbidden”) in Nigeria kidnapping women and girls for the purpose of converting them to radical Islam? The Boko Haram refers to themselves as the “Group of People for Sunnah for the Preaching of Islam and Jihad.” Their goal is to overthrow the Nigerian government and create an Islamic state. The fight has been going on since 2014, and they are a sector of ISIS. In the words of Boko Haram’s former leader Abubakar Shekau in 2014, “My brothers you should take slaves. I kidnapped girls from a school, and you are irritated. I say, we must stop the spread of Western education. I kidnapped the girls. I will sell them at the market with Allah’s help. There is a market where one can sell humans. Allah has told me to sell them [my emphasis]. He commands me to sell them. I sell women. I sell women.”

In award-winning reporter Wolfgang Bauer’s Stolen Girls: Survivors of Boko Haram Tell Their Story, you will find heart-breaking interviews with the female survivors of Boko Haram raids, killings, and kidnappings. These women and girls were taken from their homes in Chibok, and forced into the swamps of the Sambisa forest in northern Nigeria. Some of the girls were as young as nine years old.  If they did not convert to Islam and participate in prayers and rituals, they were killed. They tell their heart-wrenching stories of how they were captured, abused, forced to watch beheadings of men and women, and how they survived after escaping by living under thick-brushed trees in the jungle.

Adult men were immediately shot when Boko Haram raided a village, and young boys were kidnapped and taught to fight for the radical group. In mid 2014, Boko Haram decided to attach bombs to mostly young women under loose dresses so they were unseen. Some of the women did not understand that they were being used as suicide bombers.  In addition, Wolfgang Bauer also talks a bit about the history and politics of Nigeria and the Boko Haram, which I found very helpful and interesting. The Nigerian military and security forces fought Boko Haram, but some of those fighters became corrupted. Eventually, the terrorists entered northern Cameroon, Niger, and Chad, and then the United States became involved by sending troops. As of February, 2018, the fight to remove Boko Haram from Nigeria continues, although some control has been regained. In terms of the number of people it has killed, Boko Haram has been called the world’s deadliest terrorist group to date. They occupied a fifth of Nigeria in just a few months in 2014.

I recommend Wolfgang Bauer’s Stolen Girls: Survivors of Boko Haram Tell Their Story to anyone interested in current Nigerian politics, ISIS, radical Islam, or human rights. Although this book is very difficult to read, it is vital to understanding the extreme insanity of radical Islam, Jihad (a holy war waged on behalf of Islam as a religious duty), and the violence perpetuated by Boko Haram and ISIS.

A bit about the author, Wolfgang Bauer:Reporter Wolfgang Bauer

Passionate about human rights, Wolfgang Bauer began his career as a freelance reporter in 1994, after studying history, geography, and Islamic studies at the University of Tubingen.  Today, he works for the leading weekly German newspaper Die Zeit, covering the Middle East and Africa. His reporting on Boko Haram has won him the prestigious Nannen Prize in 2016 in Germany as well as the Bayeau-Calvados Prize for War Correspondents in France. He is also author of Crossing the Sea: With Syrians on the Exodus to Europe, which has been translated into twelve languages. He lives in Reutlingen near Stuttgart, Germany.

To learn more about Wolfgang Bauer, visit Wolfgang-Bauer.info. To purchase Stolen Girls: Survivors of Boko Haram Tell Their Story, visit Amazon.

© 2018, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com

 

 

 

January Book Review: Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit (And Join the 2018 Women’s March)

I used to think feminists were insane. I actually thought they were overblown, volatile, and superfluous and – get this, “asking for it.” I thought they hated men. I thought they wanted to destroy men. And, as ignorant as a turnip, I thought feminists were Satanists. (Gulp. Did I actually admit that?)

It was what I was taught. Until, I decided to think for myself.

After years of life’s experiences and recovering from my indoctrination, I realized what I believed was not true. The truth is some men hate women, want to control them, and even silence them. Why else would they do what they do to women? Did you know that one in three women will be raped in her lifetime; a woman is beaten every nine seconds in the United States; and if that were not appalling enough, spouses are the leading cause of death of pregnant women (again in the U.S)? I came to the conclusion that I agree with author Rebecca Solnit: “We treat the physical assault and the silencing after as two separate things, but they are [the same], both bent on annihilation [of women].”

Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit is a short compilation of seven brilliant essays covering how men literally explain things to women, the global injustice and violence women face, a compelling reiteration of the insidious cultural beliefs that make women invisible, thoughts on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and its downfalls, an examination and commentary of twentieth century feminist Virginia Woolf’s take on mystery and ambiguity, the fight for marriage equality for the LGBTQ community, and a final essay on how men who get it know that feminism is not a scheme to deprive men but a campaign to liberate us all.

I found Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me fascinating, engaging, and creative. Her writing is first rate. I highly recommend this reading to anyone interested in feminine theory, the violence women experience, or patriarchy.

A bit about the author, Rebecca Solnit:rebeccasolnit-Flickr_Shawn_Calhoun

Rebecca Solnit is a best-selling writer on various subjects. An activist, feminist, and historian, she is the author of twenty books about civil society, popular power, uprisings, art, indigenous history, environment, pleasure, social change and insurrection, politics, hope and disaster, memory, and most recently The Mother of All Questions. She is also a Harper’s contributing editor. Rebecca is a product of the California public education system from kindergarten to graduate school.

To learn more about Rebecca Solnit, or to purchase Men Explain Things to Me, visit her website, RebeccaSolnit.net.

Women's March
Women’s March, Washington DC, January, 2017

Join the Women’s March on January 20th or 21st, 2018, at a city near you. The mission of Women’s March is to harness the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change. Women’s March is a women-led movement providing intersectional education on a diverse range of issues and creating entry points for new grassroots activists and organizers to engage in their local communities through trainings, outreach programs, and events. Women’s March believes women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights. We must create a society in which women – including black women, native women, poor women, immigrant women, disabled women, Muslim women, lesbian queer and trans women – are free and able to care for and nurture their families in safe and healthy environments free from structural impediments. Download the full vision and principles of Woman’s March PDF here.

For more information, visit WomensMarch.com.

To join a march in your area on January 20th, visit PowertothePolls.com/anniversary.

Or, to join the march in Las Vegas on January 21st, visit PowertothePolls.com.

For further reading on the treatment of women, read my other blog, #MeToo.

© 2018, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com

 

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

 

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