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Scrapbooking: How it Changed my Life and Lifted the Pain

I am a scrapbooking junkie. I admit it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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May Book Review: The Big Tiny: A Build-it-Myself Memoir by Dee Williams

Big tiny In the last decade, the Tiny House Movement has grown tremendously. More and more people are downsizing and embracing the simple yet rich life of minimalist living. Building their very own tiny house on their own land or in Tiny House communities, people of all ages are finding unexpected gifts and freedom from living in these very small spaces.  According to psychologists, the motivation behind the Tiny House Movement is the result of the ideals of environmental consciousness, self-sufficiency and the desire for an adventurous life (all of which I can relate to). Dee Williams, author of The Big Tiny: A Build-it-Myself Memoir, is one of the pioneers of this movement. “I found a certain bigness in my small house – a sense of largeness, freedom and happiness that comes from when you realize there is no place else you’d rather be,” writes Williams.

In The Big Tiny: A Build-it-Myself Memoir, Williams details how she went from living in a three-bedroom bungalow with a detached garage, a fireplace and gas heat to making the decision to build, sustain and live in an 84 square foot (yes, 84 square feet!) miniscule house! The experience and the results of her endeavor are nothing less than exhilarating, frightening, completely jaw-dropping and inspiring. Dee details her plans, explains her frustrations and fears at times, and takes the reader on her courageous journey in this very personal memoir. I enjoyed her poignant, honest and sometimes, hilarious prose; furthermore,  an environmentalist myself, I was encouraged to look at my own carbon footprint and consider tiny house living myself.

Having recently visited the Tiny House Jamboree in Colorado Springs, a three-day exhibition of tiny houses and information with the mission of motivating the public to live their passions through simplifying their lives and discovering what truly matters, I was amazed and inspired by the various types of tiny houses available for purchase at any level of the building process. Below is a picture of a “bigger” tiny house that I took at the jamboree. Tiny houses come in all sizes, shapes and styles to fit any taste or budget. Truly, they are very functional and beautiful!

Tiny House Living

I highly recommend The Big Tiny: A Build-it-Myself Memoir by Dee Williams to anyone who even has a tiny interest or curiosity of what the Tiny House Movement is, and what it would be like to build and live in your own little house.  Her story and writing is very inspirational.

A bit about the author, Dee Williams:

Dee Williams Dee Williams is a builder, teacher, author, occasional rabble-rouser. She is the founder of Portland Alternative Dwellings, a company centered on the principle that everyone can build the life they dream. In addition to helping people make the conscious decision to simplify their lives with Tiny House living, Dee has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the NBC Evening News, the New York Times, NPR, MSNBC, and Time Magazine. Dee lives in Olympia, Washington, in her 84-sq. ft. tiny house, the magical place she calls, “home.”

To learn more about Dee Williams and the Tiny House Movement, or to purchase The Big Tiny: A Build-it-Myself Memoir, visit: PADtinyhouses.com.

© 2016, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.comMusings and Inspiration for Abundant Living for all Beings from One Creative Being

 


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December Book Review: Finding the Deep River Within: A Woman’s Guide to Recovering Balance and Meaning in Everyday Life by Abby Seixas

RIver WIthin“Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” – Attributed to Goethe

Abby Seixas in Finding the Deep River Within: A Woman’s Guide to Recovering Balance and Meaning in Everyday Life explains why it is vital to regard the things that we love to do as those which matter most. In a world that implicitly and explicitly encourages constant “doing” over “being,” hurrying and multi-tasking over living in the present moment, and as a result, propels us to experience everyday general fatigue, Seixas demonstrates how we can find joy and excitement in our lives. The “deep river within” is a metaphor for the soul-nourishing dimension in each one of us that flows beneath the business of daily life. With guidance, we can attain that which we all crave: balance and meaning.

I have to admit that I have recently been living an unbalanced and very stressful life. I have allowed myself to stop doing the things that bring me joy in the midst of what seems like never-ending responsibility and commitments. Finding this book was a god-send! As a result of reading about my “river” within in this book, I have decided to re-evaluate my busy lifestyle and commit to creating a life that will nourish my spirit and not take from it. I am committed to learning to slow down and truly live in the present moment. I am committed to doing that which I love again (blogging being one love!).

After describing the disease of the twenty-first century – the disease of “to do lists” and “a thousand things to do,” the author then thoroughly reveals the six practices that we must do to tap into our “river” in order to live joyful and meaningful lives: taking time alone, making and practicing boundaries, befriending feelings, taming self-expectations, practicing living in the present and doing things we love. I highly recommend this book to any woman who is struggling with finding time for herself in a very demanding world or any woman who is constantly exhausted, over-burdened or feels like she is going to lose her mind. Yes, it is worth your time to read Finding the Deep River Within: A Woman’s Guide to Recovering Balance and Meaning in Everyday Life by Abby Seixas. You will be glad you found the time to read it!

A bit about the author, Abby Seixas:

Amy Seixas

Abby Seixas has been a psychotherapist in private practice for over twenty-five years and has worked as a consultant and clinical psychotherapy supervisor at training centers in the United States and abroad, including England, Russia and the Netherlands. Her work focuses on helping women learn and practice the art of slowing down via her workshops, public talks, retreats, coaching, and her popular Touching the Deep River groups. Abby has appeared on The Today Show, and has been featured in O, The Oprah Magazine, Self, Fitness, Body + Soul, and Woman’s Day. She is the mother of two grown children and lives with her husband near Boston, Massachusetts.

To learn more about Abby Seixas or to purchase Finding the Deep River Within: A Woman’s Guide to Recovering Balance and Meaning in Everyday Life, visit: deepriverwithin.com.

© 2016, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com, Musings and Inspiration for Abundant Living for all Beings from One Creative Being

 

 

 


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August Book Review: Creativity: Flow and The Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Creativity. We all have it, and we all want to relish in it. But how?

Creativity, Mihaly CsikszentmihalyiMihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s groundbreaking book, Creativity: Flow and The Psychology of Discovery and Invention, is considered an exemplary work (and I agree) in the study of creative expression. Csikszentmihalyi interviewed almost a hundred creative people in every field and synthesized his findings in this book. He also brings thirty years of research on the subject of creativity. Professor Csikszentmihalyi explains the creative process, the creative personality, and what it means to work creatively in the first part of his book. He then summarizes his findings from his interviews of very successful creative people, followed by a thorough explanation of what he renders the domains of creativity: the word, life, future and culture and how to enhance your own personal creative energy.

Although it has been almost twenty years since the publishing of this writing, this masterpiece stands alone as the bedrock of how people experience creativity and live in what the author calls, “flow”- the experience of spending hours or days where you lose track of time, forgetting to eat or sleep, feeling like there is no other place you would rather be, being “in the zone,” feeling completely immersed in your creative endeavor, experiencing creative bliss and feeling an instinctive calling to keep working on your project. Flow and The Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi presents the author’s nine, necessary component states of achieving flow. He also explains that in order to achieve a state of optimal flow, a balance must be struck between the challenge of the task and the skill of the creator.

For a long time, I believed I did not possess creativity. However, I thankfully discovered that I, as well as all of us, have an abundance of it! We are all creators to one extent or another. You might be a person who thinks you are not creative, but you truly are. Every day, you make decisions that require the use of your given and inerrant, abundantly supplied creativity. Deciding to shower a certain way as opposed to another is being creative; decorating your bedroom is using your creative mind; designing a spreadsheet, delivering a speech, sewing a dress, knitting a scarf, building a skyscraper, re-arranging your pantry, cooking, using a programming language, making jewelry, writing music, designing the underground structure of an emerging neighborhood, organizing the applications on your cell phone, and blogging is being creative. And, the list goes on. Every time you imagine and then take action, you are creating. Having had to read this book in college years ago, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I possessed some of the characteristics of highly creative and successful people that are described in this book, and you do too! Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi will show you what creative people are like, how the creative process works, and what conditions encourage or discourage the generation of original ideas. I recommend this book to those interested in the study of creative expression or those who want to understand or nourish their own creative lives.

Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi

A bit about the author, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi:

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is the Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Management at Claremont Graduate University. He is the former head of the department of psychology at the University of Chicago and of the department of sociology and anthropology at Lake Forest College. Dr. Csikszentmihalyi has written several other books or publications in addition to Flow and The Psychology of Discovery and Invention. His most recent work centers around the study of intrinsic motivation and how it contributes to overall success of the individual. Born in Hungary in 1934, he was affected by the Second World War in ways that deeply influenced his life and later work. During his childhood, he was put in an Italian prison. Experiencing the horrible loss of family and friends due to the war and subsequently becoming “lost in flow” playing chess when he could were the catalysts that inspired his future work in the area of individual flow and optimal human experience.

To purchase Flow and The Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, visit: Goodreads.

To learn more about the author, visit: The Pursuit of Happiness.

“But it is impossible to enjoy a tennis game, a book, or a conversation unless attention is fully concentrated on the activity.” – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Visit my blog about creativity: DesignsbyVilms.com.

© 2015, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com, Inspiration for Abundant Living for all Beings From One Creative Being


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May Book Review: A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

The first recognition of beauty was one of the most significant events in the evolution of human consciousness.” – Eckhart Tolle

A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle

After stepping out of my reading comfort zone and immersing myself in New York Times best-selling author, Eckhart Tolle’s, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, I was pleasantly surprised to put it mildly. The book pretty much left me speechless. I have to admit that when I first picked up this piece of writing, I was very skeptical. I believed that it was something that I could not relate to or have the patience to read because, although I am very spiritual, I am also very analytical, and I believed that a book like this from a spiritual healer like Eckhart Tolle would be something I would find without substantial substance. I was wrong.

Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth

Tolle, in A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, thoroughly and convincingly explains how our current ego-based state of consciousness functions and how it contributes to pain, misery and violence in the world. He demonstrates how to live in pure joy in the present moment, and illustrates how most people live in the past or the future, thus missing out on true life now. He shows how thought and emotion can be hindrances to true joy and happiness. Tolle describes addiction (all known forms in addition to others he believes are problematic) and how most of us are living in reaction to life and not in response to life. He then covers how to break free from this behavior; he reveals how we are pure consciousness, how to live in pure truth and what the “new earth” is about. This book is well written, intriguing, illuminating, uplifting, very rich, easy to read, and is one of those books you cannot only read ONCE. It is a life-changer and a must read!

I highly recommend A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle to anyone who is looking for an answer to life’s BIG questions: Why are we here? What is our purpose? Where did we come from? What are we made of? Although not exclusive, Tolle’s book attempts to answer all of these questions with very thought-provoking answers.

A bit about the author, Eckhart Tolle:

Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth

Eckhart is a spiritual teacher and author who was born in Germany and educated at the Universities of London and Cambridge. At the age of twenty nine, a profound inner transformation radically changed the course of his life. The next few years were devoted to understanding, integrating and deepening that transformation, which marked the beginning of an intense inward journey. Later, he began to work in London with individuals and small groups as a counselor and spiritual teacher. Eckhart Tolle is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller, The Power of Now, and is also author of Stillness Speaks and other books. He lives in Vancouver, Canada, when he is not traveling sharing his message of profound truth and hope. To learn more about Eckhart, visit: EckhartTolle.com.

To purchase A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle, visit: EckhartTolleTV.com.

© 2015, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com, Inspiration for Abundant Living for all Beings From One Creative Being

Earthships


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April Book Review: A Coming of Wizards: A Manual of Human Potential by Michael E. Reynolds

Earthships, WizardsThere is a magical, enchanting and beautiful plot of land on this planet that has inspired many to change their lives and follow their dreams. This spot is about 20 miles west of Taos, New Mexico, and is the inspiration for one man, Michael E. Reynolds, who is on course to change the world. An ahead-of-his-time visionary and entrepreneur, architect, author, environmentalist and inspirational warrior, Reynolds is nothing less than brilliant. His book, A Coming of Wizards: A Manual of Human Potential, is written to explain his method of thinking behind his revolutionary “Earthship,” a beautiful, fully sustainable structure made mostly from garbage (cans, tires, bottles, and dirt for starters) and recycled materials for off-the-grid living.

Do not let the title fool you! A Coming of Wizards: A Manual of Human Potential is a unique text in that it covers the author’s history and personal story and his thoughts and views on world ecology, architecture, spirituality and physics. It also includes Reynolds’ poetry throughout. This book is very engaging and thorough. The author shares many diagrams to explain his concepts and also pictures of his Earthship structures in New Mexico from the simple to the more complex. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a more sustainable way to live, those who are environmentally conscious or those interested in radically changing society for the better.

Part one explains the author’s state of mind, the human condition and the basic way of thinking required for humans to reach their innate potential. In part two and three of this book, Michael Reynolds presents the “wizard Information”(essentially, divine or innate wisdom that can only be attained with a proper and open state of mind) along with a real and practical way of applying it in our lives. He then explains the wisdom gained that enabled him to begin his architectural work and then expand it, and the type of thinking required to manifest such a reality. Thus, this book is about finding and moving toward our human potential and learning to work with and not against planet Earth. In his own words, “the way to ride the energy to its full potential is to know the nature of the energy, so that it doesn’t control or harm us, and to also realize we cannot control it. We are talking about an alignment or a union, or a merging with energy. This is the way of the wizard. Control is the way of the ego.”

I had the pleasure of touring some Earthships recently on a trip I took to New Mexico. I also had the opportunity to not only view the Earthships, but also to spend a few nights in two different, beautiful ones! It was an experience I will never forget, and one of my goals now is to eventually live in an Earthship myself. Below, are some photographs from my visit:

Earthships

Earthships

Earthships

A bit about the author, Michael E. Reynolds:

Mike Reynolds, Earthships

Michael Reynolds is a world famous architect who has spent the last forty plus years evolving the concept of “ home.” His vision is for the home to care for its inhabitants and not vice versa. With this logical goal in mind, he set out to design, build, refine and master the Earthship, which is now an affordable reality and can be built easily.  Designed with concepts that any person can adopt, these self-sustaining buildings can provide housing for all people on any place on the planet. To learn more about Michael E. Reynolds and his Earthships, visit: Earthship.com or GarbageWarrior.com. To purchase a copy of A Coming of Wizards: A Manual of Human Potential, visit: Earthship.com.

© 2015, Vilma Reynoso, www.vilmareynoso.comInspiration for Creative Health. Abundant Life.

 


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March Book Review: Creativity: Where the Divine and the Human Meet by Matthew Fox

Creativity, Matthew FoxThe true artist draws out all from his or her heart.

The true painter is wise,

God is in his heart.

He puts divinity into things;

He converses with his own heart.

-Black Elk, Ancient Mesoamerican Poem

As an artist, writer and unwavering believer that there is an artist of all sorts in each one of us wanting to emerge, express and thrive, I was mesmerized and indeed fantastically impressed by Matthew Fox’s Creativity: Where the Divine and the Human Meet. A mystic, Episcopal priest and radical theologian, Dr. Fox explains how creativity is our true nature and how all of us are creative; what creativity is, where it comes from, how to tap into it; and how it is ultimately the expression of the divine within (However you label “the divine” does not necessarily matter. Even if you are atheist, you are still creative, and this book still applies to you!). In his book, he also examines the doctrines of Christianity: the creation story, the redemption of sins and the Christ story including Easter, for example, in a fresh and rather invoking, mystical perspective as it relates to the creativity that we all possess. He concludes with a chapter explaining the hope that creativity brings to each of us and for our offspring.

I highly recommend this book to any artist, musician or writer. I recommend this brilliant piece of writing to anyone who is interested in a thorough view of the creative process and where it comes from. I would also recommend this reading to anyone who desires to learn more about the mystic, allegorical view of the Christian scriptures. I found his book quite engaging, easy to read, and very deep and profound. It challenged me to think about the role of creativity in my life. Matthew Fox

A bit about the author, Matthew Fox:

Matthew Fox is an internationally acclaimed spiritual theologian, an Episcopal priest, and an activist who was a member of the Dominican Order for thirty four years. He holds a doctorate (summa cum laude) in the History and Theology of Spirituality from the Institut Catholique de Paris. Dr. Fox has written thirty books including Original Blessing, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, A Spirituality Named Compassion, The Reinvention of Work, The Hidden Spirituality of Men, and Christian Mystics. He is also the recipient of many awards for his work. Matthew Fox lives in California.

To learn more about Matthew Fox or to obtain a copy of Creativity: Where the Divine and the Human Meet, visit his websitematthewfox.org.

© 2015, Vilma Reynoso, www.vilmareynoso.comInspiration for Creative Health. Abundant Life.