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

There is always time for inspiration!

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

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

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

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

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

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

A bit about the author, Louise Hay:

Louise Hay

Louise Hay was an internationally renowned lecturer, metaphysical teacher and best-selling author of many books, including Heal Your Body from A to Z and Empowering Women. Her books have been translated into twenty nine languages in thirty five countries throughout the world. Since the beginning of her career as a Science of Mind minister in 1981, she has assisted millions of people in discovering the full potential of their own creative power to heal and transform. Louise Hay was also the founder of Hay House Inc., a self-publishing company that distributes books, audios and videos that contribute to personal healing and the healing of our planet. She passed away on Aug 30, 2017, at the age of ninety.

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

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com


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

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

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

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

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

A bit about the author, Mel Robbins:

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

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

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com

 

 

 


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A Short Tribute to Louise Hay

What do you say about a woman whose books saved your life? There are no words but a heart full of gratitude and awe.

There are few people who cross our paths and truly inspire us so profoundly that we are never the same again. These people are sometimes one in a million, and when they appear in our lives, we never forget them.  For me, one of those people was Louise Hay, who passed away in her sleep at the age of ninety yesterday, August 30, 2017.

Interestingly, yesterday morning I was writing a book review on one of Louise’s many life-changing books, You Can Heal Your Life. After publishing the blog, I immediately discovered she had passed away at the same time that I was writing about her. I almost fell off my chair!

This morning, I decided to plant a special rose bush in my backyard in memory of Louise, who loved to spend time in her jaw-dropping garden in San Diego, California. It is how I choose to mourn the loss of such a beautiful person and my way of remembering her.20170831_095852

Dear Louise, if you can hear me somehow (I hope you can, but no one really knows),

This rose bush I planted today is for you. It is a reminder every time I see it grow and flourish with gorgeous roses in my garden of how you saved my life with your wisdom, your kindness, your gentleness, and your inspiring words. Thank you for writing your books! You have helped millions improve their lives. To say that the world is a better place because you were part of it is such an understatement. Thank you, Louise Hay, for having the courage to rise above what happened to you, to become an inspirational teacher, a friend to so many, and a leader for all people. Please know that I have named my rose bush “Louise” to remind me of you and your inner beauty, strength, growth, courage, and gentleness.  Love you always. Rest in peace, wise soul.

To learn about Louise Hay and how she changed the world, visit HayHouse.com.

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com

 


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Heed the Big, Blue House

Do you ever wonder what is behind the front doors of the houses you see in your neighborhood? Do you ever wish you could take a peek? Do you ask yourself, “Who lives there? What is their story?”

I do. Many times.

I live near a serene, beautiful walking path that I frequent often. There, I find deer, rabbits, birds, insects and worms (and sometimes snakes) enjoying their small, undisturbed plot of land. On the way to this path, I always stroll past a beautiful and big, blue house.  Now, my neighborhood is not unique; every house is made from the same, cookie-cutter, corporate mold, even though each house has a distinct aura about them, of course. The big, blue house is different. It stands out. My eye is always on it, each and every time I pass by.

The big, blue house is immaculate. When I say, immaculate, I mean utterly without a fault. The paint is crisp, sky blue, almost as if it is touched up every day (it isn’t, of course). The trim on the house is a simple shade of white without a single speck of dirt. As a matter of fact, there is not a smidgen of dirt anywhere on the outside of that house – no oil in the driveway, no cracks in the pavement, no leaves blowing anywhere in the vicinity. The landscaping is jaw-dropping – a variety of beautiful trees, red and pink rose bushes, lovely irises and dahlias, sparkling, healthy, perfectly-trimmed (definitely real), green grass that inspires me to knock on their door and ask what kind of manure they use! In the spring and summer, the front porch is decorated with large, gorgeous hanging plants and a lovely, pleasant wind chime like a harp that seems to make peaceful, beautiful music (it makes me want to sit on the porch, but I dare not). The big, blue house should be on the front page of Home Magazine, every month. There is nothing out of place – not even a blade of grass.

There is no doubt in my mind that someone is working very hard keeping this house “up to par,” and I do wonder what the inside of that house looks like. Is it as immaculate on the inside as it is on the outside? Do the people within those walls take the same care inside as they do outside? Do they care for themselves as well as they do their house? I will probably never know the answer to those questions, but I do know how it makes me feel when I walk by the big, blue house. I can’t help but think about how we, as humans, focus on what we see and not what might exist behind or beyond appearances. I determined that the reason I am so mesmerized by the blue house is because I realize the house is a metaphor. It is a reminder of the human condition: we assume it is greener on the other side (in someone else’s life) by outward appearance.  We assume the other person must have an easy life, or the person at work must have not suffered like we have. Or, we assume, they have it all together and have perfect lives. Things might appear immaculate, but are they really?

May I encourage you to look beyond the appearance of the big, blue house? You see, deep down, we are all the same: we all seek happiness and avoid pain; we all want love, acceptance and intimacy; we all want to live joyful lives and feel safe. Most importantly, we all share pain of some sort, one or two experiences that are the catalyst that shaped our lives for the better or for the worse. We are people. We are human, and there is more to us than how we appear to each other. May I encourage you to look at the people in your life – at work, at home or in the neighborhood – with a new, compassionate love? It does not matter what their color, race, nationality, sex, class, religious or political affiliation is. They have a story just like you do, and it’s those stories (heart-felt life experiences) that help us make much needed, genuine connections and bridge differences.

It seems that people today are afraid of each other’s differences and make many unfounded assumptions. Social media is full of people determining who is right, who is wrong, who is a troll, who is a friend, who is a conspiracy theorist, and who is a jerk. We make generalizations and believe these determinations without merit or facts. I have fallen into this trap as well and have made wrong assumptions.  Although it is normal to make an assessment of someone by first appearance (even on social media), the truth is we do not know much about them unless we see beyond their “big, blue house.”  Let’s rise above this. Let’s take a step back and attempt to see the whole picture. May I encourage you to try to empathize and understand people from their perspective, even if you might not agree with them? Can I inspire you to look beyond their house, what they show to the world?

So today, as you go about your business and find people around you, take the time to ask, or simply do not assume. It will make the world less BLUE and more BIG.

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com

 


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Scrapbooking: How it Changed my Life and Lifted the Pain

Scrapbooks

I am a scrapbooking junkie. I admit it.

One of my favorite things to do is to put together albums of photographs of the years I have lived. This is an activity that when done, it feels like time stops. 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. 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, 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. Eager to begin, I immediately bought an album. The first one 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 would 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 forty-five minutes late! I remembered the Science and French clubs 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, was romantic, spirited and adventurous. I was more than I had imagined, and I felt alive back then. Most importantly, through this creative process, I discovered what kind of life made me happiest, 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 handle all my other ailments and not live in denial anymore. Discovering this creative endeavor was the catalyst that began my process of authentic emotional, mental, and physical healing 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 her creative bliss. I often ponder what would have happened to me if I had not inconspicuously stumbled upon scrapbooking. Humbling thought.

Today, I continue to scrapbook because I love the process of putting together albums of my experiences (the joyful times and even 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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November Book Review:  I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai

“Let us pick up our books and our pens. They are the most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world.” These are the words of Malala Yousafzai, spoken in 2014 in Oslo, Norway, as the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Yousafzai, a Pashtun Pakistani, is a courageous, exemplary, and determined young woman on a mission to bring education to every girl and boy in every town, province, city, and country in the world.  Her memoir, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, is a rich, beautifully-written, compassionate and inspiring story that explains her past, her passion, and her life mission.

i-am-malala

Yousafzai begins her memoir with anecdotes about growing up in Mingora, in the Swat Valley in northwest Pakistan, a lush mountain region full of breathtaking rivers, waterfalls,  and gorgeous valleys. She describes life as a Sunni Muslim, her love of Allah, and the customs in Mingora. Her book explains the poverty she and her family endured – no running water, no stove, no heat, very little food at times, for example. She explains how poverty and tradition in the midst of paradise kept most girls from attending school. Her own mother could not read or write, for example. Her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, her hero and inspiration, is a fierce advocate for girls’ education, and after political opposition and financial problems, founded an all-girls school in Mingora where Malala attended.

In the second half of this memoir, Malala explains the fundamentalist beliefs of the Taliban and the extreme damage and fear they exhibited in her country. She writes stories about beheadings and public lynchings, suicide bombers, the bombing and destruction of hundreds of schools, general politics in Pakistan, the horrific damage and tyranny and eventual ruin of Mingora caused by the Taliban, and more.  As outspoken advocates of education for girls (which the Taliban was against), Malala and her father eventually became targets. Malala was shot in the head by a member of the Taliban and survived. Her recovery is nothing less than remarkable. Her story has garnered worldwide attention, which has caused a nonstop collaboration of many individuals and countries for the fight of education for all girls everywhere.

I highly recommend I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai to anyone who is curious about Pakistani life and customs, about Islam, or about the Taliban and the damage they have inflicted in Pakistan. I especially recommend this memoir to human and women’s rights activists. It is an incredible story that left me speechless, in awe, and at times, in tears!

Malin_Fezehai-HUMAN_for_Malala_Fund_182.jpg

Opening Malala Yousafzai’s All-Girls School near the Syrian border in 2015.

A bit about the author, Malala Yousafzai:

Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for female education. She is known mainly for human rights advocacy for education and for women in her native Swat Valley of northwest Pakistan, where the local Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school.

Malala has received many awards. The 2013, 2014 and 2015 issues of Time magazine featured Malala as one of “the 100 most influential people in the world“. She was the winner of Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize and the recipient of the 2013 Sakharov Prize. In July that year, she spoke at the headquarters of the United Nations to call for worldwide access to education. In 2014, she was nominated for the World Children’s Prize in Sweden, and in May of the same year, Malala was granted an honorary doctorate by the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Later in 2014, Malala was announced as the co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, along with Kailash Satyarthi, for her struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.  Today, Malala is founder of the Malala Fund, a nonprofit organization that advocates at the local, national and international levels for resources and policy changes needed to ensure all girls, worldwide, have the right to twelve years of schooling.

To learn more about Malala Yousafzai and her work, visit: Malala.org.

To purchase I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai, visit: Amazon.

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com. Musings and Inspiration for Abundant Living for all Beings from One Creative Being