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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

 

 

 


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December Book Review: The Choice: Embracing the Possible by Edith Eva Eger

A stunning, powerful, beautifully-written memoir of her life as a Jewish child in Hungary, as a holocaust prisoner at Auschwitz, and the years of recovery thereafter, Edith Eva Eger’s, The Choice: Embrace the Possible, left me speechless. Through her incredible story, Eger shows us how to move from a victim, to a survivor, and then to an empowered person. She demonstrates how this is done by the power of choice. If there is anyone who has the credibility to teach others how to truly thrive after enduring horrific experiences, it is this amazing woman!

As a holocaust survivor with most of her imprisonment at Auschwitz, Edith tells her story with first-rate prose, weaving her past with her present and taking the reader on an inspiring journey. Her book is divided into four major sections. She talks about her childhood and imprisonment as a teenager, her escape, her recovery, and lastly, her final healing which was not fully complete until she revisited Auschwitz decades later. It was then that she turned tragedy into triumph. Eger’s book covers how she watched her mother march to her death in the gas chamber; details her daily torture and starvation; explains how she and her sister, Magda, inspired each other to survive yet another, torturous day; covers how she was transferred to the Mauthausen and Gunskirchen camps in Austria; and finally, her rescue from a heap of dying bodies by U.S. soldiers.  This is the kind of book that gives you the chills, makes you gasp, makes you feel a multitude of emotions, and entices you to close it for a moment, put it down, and inevitably stare at the wall in awe.

In addition to her imprisonment, Edith explains how she kept her experiences in the concentration camp to herself for most of her adult life, until she realized she could not keep her secret any longer, if she wanted to heal from her past. As a clinical therapist, she explains how some of her clients were the catalyst in helping her eventually discover why she feared verbalizing her experiences during WWII. The Choice: Embrace the Possible is not only a story about a holocaust survivor, but also a story of hope, of courage, of forgiveness, of personal healing, and of how to escape the prison in our own minds.

I highly recommend The Choice: Embrace the Possible by Edith Eva Eger to those interested in learning about the Holocaust from the perspective of a thriving survivor, to those who are history or WWII buffs, or to those who want to read a beautiful, very inspiring story. I could not put this book down, and I definitely learned a lot.

A bit about the author, Dr. Edith Eva Eger:Dicu-e1467064906674

Dr. Edith Eva Eger holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and maintains a thriving practice in La Jolla, California. She also holds a faculty appointment at the University of California, San Diego. She serves as the consultant for the U.S. Army and Navy in resiliency training and the treatment of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Edith is eighty-nine years old, a dancer, an inspiring speaker, and ends her talks with a high ballet kick (a metaphor for the human spirit, her love of ballet, and the power of choice).

To learn more about Dr. Edith Eva Eger, follow her Facebook Page. To purchase a copy of The Choice: Embrace the Possible by Edith Eva Eger, visit Amazon.

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com

 

 

 


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November Book Review: Heal Your Life: 25 Ways to Unleash Your Innate Healing Powers by Finding Your Purpose and Connecting with a Higher Power by Carolle Jean-Murat

In Heal Your Life: 25 Ways to Unleash Your Innate Healing Powers by Finding Your Purpose and Connecting with a Higher Power, Carolle Jean-Murat shows how the belief in a higher power – however one defines it – influences our physical and mental well-being and gives us the hope and ability to restore ourselves to health.  By using scientific and medical knowledge, intuition, and a spiritual or faith-based approach, Dr. Carolle explains how she aids people in healing their childhood traumas, adult diseases, and unhappiness.

The beginning of Jean-Murat’s book is a compelling story about the author’s difficult childhood growing up in Haiti in the 1950’s and sixties. She summarizes her rape at a young age, her loss of faith, her medical and scientific pursuits as an adult and the subsequent disillusionment of Western medicine and its practices, and her eventual reaffirming of a belief in God.  The rest of the book contains twenty-five short, informative chapters on how to heal mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually with a “True Healing Action Plan” section. Some topics include: finding your life purpose, dealing with abuse, listening to our intuition, learning to live in the moment, practicing forgiveness and gratitude, the power of friendship, being part of a religious or spiritual community, the benefits of a hobby, or how to handle stress, for example. These chapters are very short but dense with inspirational, life-healing advice. Jean-Murat concludes her book by reiterating that all human beings are on a spiritual journey and to trust that life is always working for us no matter what is happening.

I recommend Heal Your Life: 25 Ways to Unleash Your Innate Healing Powers by Finding Your Purpose and Connecting with a Higher Power by Carolle Jean-Murat to those interested in seeking an alternative way of healing other than typical Western medicine, which generally does not treat the whole person. Dr. Carolle (as she prefers to be addressed) thoroughly explains the importance of evaluating and treating the physical, emotional, and mental components of the person with incorporating spirituality or faith. I found her childhood anecdote and subsequent life-story very inspiring. I also learned about the culture of Haiti, which was an unexpected bonus!

A bit about the author, Carolle Jean-Murat, MD:Dr. Carolle Picture

Born and raised within a family of healers and trained in the best universities around the world, Dr. Carolle is a board-certified gynecologist with over four decades of experience. She is a gifted intuitive and spiritual healer. As an international motivational speaker, Dr. Carolle brings her message of self-empowerment and faith through her award-winning books, telephone consultations, private retreats, workshops, blog, and podcast. She is also founder of Dr. Carolle’s Wellness and Retreat Center of San Diego, a place where women spend time with her to discover the root causes of their diseases, which she believes are usually hidden (or unresolved) emotions. Dr. Carolle also provides free intuitive gynecological and primary care to the people of Haiti through Catholic Charities, and more. This amazing woman is also the creator of the non-profit organization Health Through Communications Foundation and its Angels For Haiti Project that provide education, health-care, and hope for the future.  And lastly, Dr. Carolle is Chief Medical Director of Health Education Advocacy Leadership Community Health Promotion Center (HCHPC) HEAL, a new and innovative approach to healthcare.

To learn more about Dr. Carolle Jean-Murat or to purchase her book, Heal Your Life: 25 Ways to Unleash Your Innate Healing Powers by Finding Your Purpose and Connecting with a Higher Power, visit: drcarolle.com.

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com

 

 

 


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October Book Review: Creating a World That Works for All by Sharif Abdullah

“A human being is part of the whole, called [by us] “universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest – a kind of delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a prison for us … Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.” – Albert Einstein

The above quotation from the brilliant Albert Einstein is found in the beginning pages of Creating a World That Works for All by Sharif Abdullah because it encapsulates the author’s belief and mission.  Mr. Abdullah is on a quest to encourage and teach people how to create a world that works for every human being because presently the world only works for a few. His book details how and why shifting our individual and collective consciousness, followed with action, will accomplish this much-needed and urgent vision.

Abdullah Sharif divides his book into three parts: the envisioning of true inclusivity; the analysis of a new, humane society for all; and the practical advice on moving from a broken world to an inclusive one.  He thoughtfully terms and discusses the three types of people in today’s world: the “Keepers”– those who live in harmony with the earth and believe the planet was not created for any one species, we should not try to control life, and we should keep doing what works; the “Breakers”– those who believe the earth and everything in it was created for man, and man has the right and responsibility to control it all; and the “Menders”– those who work towards an inclusive, habitable planet that works for all human and nonhuman beings. Throughout this reading, Sharif very thoroughly analyses why a world that works for all is not achievable without restructuring our attitudes, our priorities, and our culture. In addition, he describes how exclusivity destroys and why inclusivity builds. He concludes with specific alternative actions for each of us to take that will create a sustainable, life-affirming world based on fundamentally different ways of thinking.

I found Creating a World That Works for All by Sharif Abdullah compelling. It was also sometimes arduous to read because Sharif’s words forced me to acknowledge how I sometimes participate in exclusivity (or in that which harms greater society) and how I could improve. I highly recommend this reading to anyone seeking a solution for all our social, political, and environmental problems worldwide and to those interested in an analysis of our collective denial. It is a very pertinent read at this time in history!

A bit about the author, Sharif Abdullah:

Sharif-LCL-01-219x300

Shariff Abdullah, J.D., is a consultant, speaker, author and advocate for societal transformation.   His mission is to bring currently dysfunctional systems and structures into alignment with our common human and spiritual values for the goal of creating a world that works for all living things. He consults with people and organizations on the leading edge of change including government agencies, businesses, and social service organizations.  As director of Commonway Institute, he has visited over forty-three countries and over 100 distinct cultures, giving him a unique perspective on our global human and spiritual issues.

Shariff Abdullah was raised in Camden, New Jersey, a formerly prosperous Industrial Era city, now devastated by poverty, violence, and hopelessness. His early life was a study in toxic relationships, and he experienced living on welfare in public housing, violence, and pollution. The deep desire to facilitate a world that works for everyone resulted from his childhood experiences.

To learn more about Sharif Abdullah, or to purchase a copy of Creating a World That Works for All, visit: Sharif.Commonway.org.

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com

 

 

 

 


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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