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July Book Review: Woe to the Women the Bible Tells Me So: The Bible, Female Sexuality & the Law by Annie Laurie Gaylor

“It is the contempt that the [biblical] canon and civil law alike express for women that has multiplied their hardships and intensified for man’s desire to hold them in subjection.”  – Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Woe to the Woman, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Vilma Reynoso

I never really considered myself a feminist: a person who advocates or supports the rights and equality of women, until the moment I heard my father tell my mother in a demeaning tone that I would never graduate from college. The belief that my father held bothered me for decades and influenced my (sometimes disastrous) decisions I made as a woman. Over the years, I have realized that he was wrong, not only about me, but about women in general. I have come to believe that I am capable and have the right, as a woman and a human being, to live my life as I choose. I chose to graduate from college; not only did I graduate, but I graduated summa cum laude. Now, as a writer and as a somewhat prolific reader, here is a short summary of my latest read:

Woe to the Women the Bible Tells Me So: The Bible, Female Sexuality & The Law by Annie Laurie Gaylor is a compilation of the many biblical references and stories portraying women, as the author states, “as either superfluous or as diabolical.” In the bible, women are deemed the “cause of all sin that entered the world” and are instruments and instigators of evil. Gaylor argues that the bible is a handbook for the subjugation of women. The first part of this book summarizes the different areas of oppression of women in the bible, and the second part is a thorough compilation of biblical scriptures to support her assertions that the bible denigrates and subjects women to men.

Woe to the Women the Bible Tells Me So: The Bible, Female Sexuality & the Law examines biblical teachings about women’s “nature,” prostitution, sexual assault and incest, so-called “uncleanliness,” motherhood, divorce, adultery, grooming, abortion and more. Annie Laurie Gaylor makes apparent the biblical stories of women who are bought and sold, used as commodities, made to become wives with no rights, who are raped, mutilated, stoned to death, and makes apparent the story of a woman who was later chopped into pieces after she had died from enduring a gang-rape all night long. (Yes, this is all in the bible.)

As a product of a religious Catholic and Christian upbringing, this book was rather shocking for me to read. I had never been thoroughly exposed to the undeniable violence towards women in the bible, and to the contemptuous belief that women are instruments of evil whose very existence is to be subject to men, until I was exposed to Annie Laurie Gaylor’s book. There is no possible way to misinterpret the atrocities that are explicit in the bible as shown by Gaylor that deny human dignity to women. My conclusion is that the only way to do so would be to deny what is explicit in scripture, and I cannot do that. My view of the bible, therefore, has forever changed.

A bit about the author, Annie Laurie Gaylor:

Annie Laurie Gaylor

Annie Laurie Gaylor, along with her mother, is founder of Freedom from Religion Foundation, the largest national association of free-thinkers working to protect the constitutional principle of the separation of church and state. She is editor of Freethought Today, the foundation’s newspaper, and has a degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Gaylor is also the recipient of the 2010 Humanist Heroine award by the American Humanist Association. To learn more about Annie Laurie Gaylor, please visit Freedom from Religion Foundation.

To purchase a copy of Woe to the Women the Bible Tells Me So: The Bible, Female Sexuality& the Law by Annie Laurie Gaylor, visit: Freedom from Religion Foundation.

Vilma Reynoso, www.vilmareynoso.com, Inspiration for Creative Health. Abundant Life.

Copyright, 2014, Vilma Reynoso


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February Book Review: In the Body of the World by Eve Ensler

February Featured Book, In the Body of the World

As a lifetime lover and student of literature and as an author myself, there are no words to describe Eve Ensler’s absolutely stunning, courageous and profound book, In the Body of the World It is nothing less than a 21st century original masterpiece! Ensler’s prose is so poignant, original and raw; it will ignite the passion and fire in your own body and emotions. Her metaphors left me speechless, her story left me breathless, and her courage is incredible. This is by far the best-written memoir I have ever read! There are no words to explain the magnificence of this book!

In the Body of the World is a story about the author, Eve Ensler’s, battle and healing from very advanced uterine cancer. Using rich and original metaphors that leave you wanting more, Ensler combines her experience of being sexually abused as a child by her father, growing up with a distant, non-protective mother, her fight with cancer, her love and commitment to the ending of the genocide and brutal rape of millions of women in the Congo, and her disconnection to mother Earth to produce a very inspiring memoir. She brilliantly describes her dissociation from her emotions due to her tumultuous childhood and reconnects with her body, mind, emotions and soul as she heals from cancer. She writes, “Because I did not, could not, inhabit my body or the earth, I could not feel or know their pain.” The metaphorical weaving of this text is nothing less than first rate!

A bit about the author, Eve Ensler:

Eve Ensler is a visionary. She is an international bestselling author and an award-winning playwright. Her theatrical works include but are not limited to: The Vagina Monologues, Necessary Targets and The Good Bodies. She is author of Insecure at Last, a political memoir, and I am an Emotional Creature, a New York Times best-seller, which she has adapted for the stage as Emotional Creature.

Ensler is the founder of V-Day, the global movement to end violence against women and girls that occurs in various cities worldwide every Feb 14th, and which has raised over $90 million for local groups and activists and inspired the global action, “One Billion Rising.” Eve Ensler has won numerous awards for her plays and has been given two honorary doctorates.  Eve’s mission is to end all violence towards women and girls worldwide. To join Eve in her mission or to learn more about this incredible woman, visit her website, EveEnsler.org, or join her on V-Day, Feb 14th, every year, until all violence ends.

In the Body of the World is her latest book. To purchase a copy, visit her website: EveEnsler.org.

Vilma Reynoso, www.vilmareynoso.com. Inspiration for Creative Health. Abundant Life.

Copyright, 2014, Vilma Reynoso


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The Turning Point

It’s funny how memories come to mind. At one moment, we are thinking about one thing and in the next split second, we are taken back to the not-so-wonderful past.  This happened to me yesterday as I was driving. I passed by a familiar restaurant and memories flooded my mind. What is particularly funny is that I had driven past this restaurant probably dozens of times this year alone, but it was yesterday’s drive that spurred the memories.

Five years ago.

It was five years ago today that my fourteen year marriage ended, legally. After the judge declared the marriage “dissolved,” I remember my ex-husband stating, “Well, that was that.” I thought to myself, “That IS that; it’s over. Finally OVER.”  As we walked out of that emotionless, cold courtroom, it was apparent that now we both had to “move on.” There were to be so many changes ahead for me. And, even though I was the one who instigated the breakup of a very troubled marriage, at that moment, I knew another level of healing (and suffering) had just commenced for me. I wish I could write that I was brave through all of it, that I handled every crying session, every sad day, every angry moment with dignity and grace, but that is not true. I would love to say that every thought I had back then as I was healing was inspired by love, peace, joy and ultimate good (for myself and for everyone involved) but they were not. I would love to say that it was an easy road to travel, but it was not. My days and healing time were a mix of almost complete bliss and sometimes utter despair.

On one particularly sad day five years ago, I ventured into the same restaurant that I drove by yesterday to order some take-out food. As I was ready to pay for my meal, the clerk gazed at me, and with a Spanish accent, said, “It’s okay; you don’t pay – my gift to you.”  I remember the look of bewilderment on his face as he slowly and compassionately mouthed these words to me, and quite frankly, I was shocked not only by the generosity of this man but by the way he looked at me. I can only surmise that the look of astonishment on his face was because my spirit and my appearance must have looked and felt like I had just been hit by a truck running amuck. This kind gesture from this man was perhaps something he did regularly, but his actions touched me and snapped me into reality! That moment was my turning point. It was the moment when I said to myself, “It is time.” It was time to stop wallowing; it was time to start trusting, to release my pain, to forgive, to allow goodness to come to my life. It was time to allow my spirit within that was squelched by all the years of an abusive marriage to now live.  It was time to let go and let God flow. It was time.

From that moment forward, as each day passed, I became closer and closer to discovering who I really was and what truly made my spirit come alive. I allowed healing to take place by allowing the tears to flow, by choosing to forgive, by letting go of the anger, and by embracing the changes (all good) that would come. I learned to love myself holistically – emotionally, physically and spiritually. I learned to be brave. I learned to let go of fear. I learned to step out in faith.  I learned to make decisions that were in line with who I was and what I wanted in my life. I would eventually forget the man at the restaurant – the catalyst that begun my journey into complete healing. As days turned to months, and the months turned to years, I was to discover all the beauty and healing that life has to offer!  I learned that all things can be changed and healed with hope and courage.

Perhaps yesterday’s drive was a sober reminder of what I experienced years ago for the sole purpose of reminding me of how incredible the journey of life truly is when we allow healing to take place. It was a reminder to never fear change but to embrace all its gifts. Whenever I am tempted to lose hope, I look back to five years ago. Whenever, I think about giving up on myself, I think about what happened five years ago. Whenever, I am tempted to think that I can’t, I remember how far I have come. Whenever I falsely think, “Give it up, Vilma; you can’t do it,” I think about that moment in that restaurant.

What is the turning point in your life? Everyone has one (or two). Have you allowed healing to take place in your life, or are you still wrapped up in fear, anger, pain and self-inflicted misery? Why not point yourself towards the ever-present love that, if you allow it, will change you from the inside out and propel you into the confident, healthy and vibrant person you are meant to be?  The choice is yours. Choose to turn and point yourself in the direction of abundant life.

Vilma Reynoso, www.vilmareynoso.comInspiration for Creative Health. Abundant Life.

Copyright, 2013, Vilma Reynoso


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What is Abuse?

Abuse is all about control.

Abuse is something that happens when one person believes they have power over another and exercises that power. Abuse is not only physical. It can be psychological, spiritual, verbal, emotional, financial and sexual for starters. Domestic violence is a result of the abusive mindset and the behaviors associated with that belief. According to The Women’s Crises and Family Outreach Center (TWCFOC), an organization that is dedicated to ending domestic violence in the lives of all people and empowering those victims of abuse, “domestic violence is a pattern of behavior used to establish power and control over another person through fear and intimidation, often including the threat or use of violence. Domestic violence happens when one person believes they are entitled to control another. Assault, battering, and domestic violence are crimes.”

How do you know if you are being abused or have been abused? Here are some examples of abuse:

  • If you have been coerced or manipulated into doing something you did not want to do, you have been emotionally abused.
  • If you are afraid of your partner and feel like you have to “walk on eggshells” to not anger them, you have experienced psychological abuse.
  • If you have been pushed into a corner, you have been physically abused.
  • If you have been called a name, you have been verbally abused.
  • If you have been held against your will or made to do anything because of your partner’s religious beliefs, you have been abused.
  • If your significant other has punched you in the face, you have been physically abused.
  • If you were forced to have sex without your consent, you have been sexually abused.
  • If you are in an intimate relationship where you are not “allowed” to have or spend money, you are in a financially abusive relationship.
  • If you have been made to feel that if you do not do something or give something you will “pay,” you have been psychologically abused.
  • If you feel deflated, always tired, confused, depressed, scared to make a decision for yourself, or feel like you are losing your mind, you might be in an abusive relationship.
  • If you think you are being abused in any way, you probably are.

If you are experiencing at least three or more of the above examples of abuse, chances are high that you are in an abusive relationship or situation. You are not alone!

Please contact the Women’s Crisis and Family Outreach Center for confidential and compassionate assistance. There is no charge to speak to a counselor, and they are open 24 hours, 7 days per week.

1-888-247-7472.

 There is only one YOU. Get help before it is too late! 

Vilma Reynoso, www.vilmareynoso.comInspiration for Creative Health. Abundant Life.

Copyright, 2013, Vilma Reynoso

Peace not Violence


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Reflections on Violence and Guns

Yesterday was the start of a new week after the needless shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Sandy Hook, CT, on Dec 14, 2012. I dropped off my child at school yesterday morning and was saddened to see a police car and two officers with their guns standing outside the school in place of the principal who usually greets the children as they arrive at school. I have to admit I was a bit relieved to know that if someone were to start shooting, the police would most likely stop it before it got out of control, and my child’s life might be spared. However, the reality of this situation flattened my spirit, and I felt a profound sadness because of the state of our world. Why so much violence?

When I was in middle school, all I worried about was what I was going to eat for lunch that day, what boy would or would not like me, or if I was going to be chosen on the better team for kickball. Possible bullies at school and getting in trouble at home was all we feared. I was a happy-go-lucky child who looked forward to guitar lessons, girl scouts and cheerleading after school; I knew all my classmates. If one were to go missing, we all would feel the loss. Now kids have to worry about being shot and killed at school, a place where they should feel safe. What child would not be afraid to go to school this day in age? How does a child feel when they see policemen in their full uniforms – guns included – standing in front of their school waiting to take aim and shoot, if needed?

As I thought about this for a moment, I asked myself who really should hold the guns. On the one hand, I was thankful the police were there with ammunition (for obvious reasons). However, on the other hand, it was a sad and frightening thought that put fear into my heart – the fear of what might happen. Forty or so years ago, this “fear” did not exist as it does today. We have created a society based on fear. We are afraid to take a stand. We are afraid of losing our jobs. We are afraid of going broke. We fear illness, loss and death. We are afraid to walk outside our front doors.  We would rather stay inside our homes and surf online than walk to the neighbor’s house and introduce ourselves. We are afraid to feel our pain, so we fantasize, take drugs, eat in excess, and create chaos for ourselves by becoming addicted to substances, alcohol, recreational drugs and pills. We submerse ourselves in our I-phones, I-pads, I-pods, other electronic gadgets, the internet and TV. We have become numb and despondent, uncaring and cold, distant and confused, anxious and rude, lifeless and robotic, and disconnected. And now, we are even more afraid: we are so fearful that we clutch onto our guns (and rights) tighter. When will it end? What will it take to change our present reality? Why are we so afraid?

“Put more restrictions on the purchase of guns,” they say. More restrictions will make it harder to obtain guns, but will it stop the criminals from confiscating and using them?  I understand wanting to protect ourselves and our loved ones, but I cannot see any other way to protect myself from an attack unless I am always on alert with my gun. How am I to live always waiting for the impending “attack?” How is that freedom? It is not. It is living in chains and in anxiety each moment.

What about protection from tyranny? Yes, we need to have the right to own guns, just in case of an impending governmental or other assault. But, how many guns do we need to own and hide away? How many is enough?

Our world is filled with relentless greed. The hearts of the people who run institutions, corporations and governments these days are fueled by greed, whose driving force is fear. The dollar and bottom line is more important than the person. This cold attitude creates fear – fear to lose our jobs, fear of going broke, and fear of pursuing what we really desire. We lose our authenticity and we embrace someone we are not. We have lost our humanity. It is time to change the world and stop the downward spiral of fear to love and peace.

More guns will not ultimately solve the root of the problem causing the violence. Imagine, for a moment, a society where everyone owns and carries guns. Would you feel safe knowing that at any moment anyone at anytime can start a shoot out because someone else cut them off in traffic, for example? Would you feel safe walking out your front door then? A society with guns only perpetuates more fear of each other and makes it easier to kill.  It will further divide us, separate us, further alienate us, and further drive us to despair and loneliness. Nothing good can come from more guns in more hands.

I often dream about a world without the violence. Many tell me that it is impossible to have a world where something like Sandy Hook shootings only happen once in a blue moon or very, very rarely. Why is it impossible? It will take a change of consciousness; it will take a shift in focus, a collective arming of love, a collective new level of acceptance of all human beings without regards to social strata, religion, politics, sexual preference, gender and color. It will take a mass healing starting from each and every heart and spreading to every system we have in place that is not working or failing. We need to ask, “What’s in it for US?” instead of “What’s in it for me?” It will take responsibility. It will take each person choosing to live at peace at every moment. Not all of us will agree on everything – that is not possible – but I can safely say that every human being longs for safety and freedom, which I believe are our rights. The real fight is the fight for peace, not the fight for more weapons.

What can we do to change the consciousness and spirit of fear in this country and worldwide? It starts with each one of us. It starts with peace and love in your heart; it starts with releasing the fear; it starts with letting go and embracing love and peace in each moment. It starts with treating each other with respect, love, and embracing our differences instead of being threatened by them. We are at a crucial time of change in history because the fear and resulting violence in this world is at an all-time, disturbing high. Let’s switch the pendulum to love. “Be the change you want to see in the world,” said Mahatma Gandhi, who freed an entire nation without ever resorting to violence. It starts with you.

My heart and love go out to each and every person affected by the tragedy that just occurred. I cannot fathom the horror from that day. However, the answer, I believe, is not to arm more people with guns. The answer is not more violence. The answer is less violence; it is a shift in belief and action to one of unity, compassion, acceptance, cooperation, love and freedom regardless of differing beliefs and lifestyles. It is time to move forward without more violence. It is time to conquer fear with love, not with more guns.

Peace.

Vilma Reynoso, www.vilmareynoso.comInspiration for Creative Health. Abundant Life.

Copyright, 2012, Vilma Reynoso


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I am Thankful…

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I wrote this last year in 2012, but one year later, today, I feel the need to pass this on again, so here goes …  

Thanksgiving is a reflective and special time for me. It will always be because there was a time when I was not so thankful for my life. Years ago, during one Thanksgiving season, I left an abusive relationship. It was one of the most courageous steps I had to take to save myself, my spirit, my sanity. It had to be done, and there was no looking back.

To say that I am now a different person today is an understatement! As the years passed by, I gradually let go of my fear and learned how exciting life is and how beautiful I am as a person.  I am still on a journey, as we all are, but I can say with assurance that I am a NEW creation, with a new outlook, a new attitude, a renewed mind and definitely a new spirit! I will never be made to feel afraid again. I will never be made to feel “caged” again. I will never be treated again like I was “back then.” I will never experience that again because I now know that what I think about and who I am attracts what comes into my life. I have learned a lot from that terrible and enduring experience. I now remember it fondly but without the pain. I can now share it and not relive it. I am blessed. I am thankful.

Have you ever felt caged? Have you ever been in fear for your life? Did you ever feel like you truly had lost your mind, or have you ever felt so confused and numb from all the pain? I have been there. I now live to put an end to this type of torture and prison that many of us live in. There is not a day that passes by that I am not thankful for who I am, what I experienced and where I am today.

However, every holiday season, I cannot help think about other living beings that are caged, in fear, in emotional confinement, and in physical torture, too.  And, on Thanksgiving, it is the turkeys that are caged and murdered to celebrate a time of “thanks.” Over forty million turkeys are slaughtered for this holiday. How hypocritical we are as human beings. How can we celebrate a time of peace, travel far to get together with our family and friends, and center our celebration around food and sit down and consume, with fervor, the remnants of an abused and murdered animal? It really does not make any sense. As a matter of fact, when you truly think about it, eating a turkey (or any animal) and giving thanks when it is not necessary for our survival is a senseless act. There will never be “peace on earth” or peace in our hearts and minds, if we continue to torture, abuse, murder, and eat animals. What we put into your bodies, our minds and hearts becomes a part of us.  A person who consumes violence condones violence.   If one partakes in the traditional Thanksgiving by eating a dead turkey, he participates in violence; he participates in abuse. He condones abuse. It is logical.

What can you do to end this abuse and not corrupt your mind, soul, and spirit? You can be part of the solution by feasting on vegan food for Thanksgiving and not consuming animals and their byproducts. You can begin that day to experience true life. Here is an example of a vegan Thanksgiving meal:

  • Vegan turkey: a vegan alternative to turkey that comes already made with stuffing and gravy.
  • Mashed potatoes made with olive oil without butter
  • Green bean casserole made with vegan mushroom sauce or coconut sauce
  • Boiled or mashed yams or sweet potatoes made with olive oil instead of butter
  • Fresh, raw cranberries blended into a sauce
  • Raw or cooked corn or corn on the cob spread with olive oil or vegan margarine
  • Your favorite green salad with a vinaigrette dressing
  • Vegan pumpkin, apple, or sweet potato pie

For some recipes and other alternatives, click below.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/christinebyrne/vegan-thanksgiving-recipes

Let’s stop the abuse this Thanksgiving season and have true peace, for all.

Vilma Reynoso, www.vilmareynoso.comInspiration for Creative Health. Abundant Life.

Copyright, 2013, Vilma Reynoso