Inspiring authentic transformation in people for a kinder, more compassionate world.


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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


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Four Ways to Experience Authentic Living

Vilma Reynoso, Town of Parker

I am thankful that I live near a beautiful and serene walking path in my part of the world. I have walked this path many times, and today, a windy and semi-cloudy day, I realized something.

Very recently, there used to be a wooded area around a bend and after a bridge that I found serene. It was covered with all kinds of vegetation, plants and trees. Beautiful and sometimes breathtaking, it was part of our path until the town leadership decided to remove the plants and trees and remake the area to something more practical. At first, I scoffed at this decision. I did not want it be changed. I loved it the way it was with the old trees and swamp-like essence. I enjoyed seeing it every time I walked, ran or rode on the path because it was familiar. It was comforting. It was good.

Today, as I was taking a morning stroll in the area, I realized its beauty and I acknowledged that it was more than just “a practical redo.” I now am able to sit on a man-made rock formation and meditate or relax (even sleep). I am able to hear the stream of water (And I love the sound of running water!). I can appreciate the fact that now it will be nearly impossible for this area to flood because of how they redid it. And, it is progress. It is not so scary anymore. I have embraced it. It is good.

Life is about accepting the new, not ignoring it or constantly attempting to keep it as is. Life is not about control, but it is about change and growth. Growth does not come without change. This I knew deep inside, but today, the gentle breeze, cloudy sky, and the relaxing sound of the water flowing in the new and improved nearby stream reminded me of this.

Allowing and accepting change in our lives will bring about authenticity and growth. And allowing ourselves to be authentic allows us to ultimately be the most content. It is this place we all want to reach: our bliss. I was reminded of four ways in which we can attain authentic bliss today:

  • Do something you have always been terrified of doing. You will realize that the fear was only an illusion. It was in your head. Once you do whatever it is you are afraid to do, you will have destroyed those thoughts and the next time is not so scary. Most of the time, what you fear is not something in the present, but something that was part of your past and now tied up in your present imagination. I have recently done something I was terrified of doing. I am now not afraid of it anymore and realize there was no reason for me to have been afraid. You can do it!
  • Do something you love but for whatever reason stopped doing. Have you stopped golfing or swimming? Did you stop traveling or eliminated a hobby you enjoyed from your life because you now have too many “responsibilities?” If this is the case, get back into it! Once you restart this activity or hobby, you will feel authentically alive again. I am making a commitment now to restart something I love that I had given up.
  • Get reunited with someone with whom you have lost contact. Many times we lose contact with those we care about because of many reasons. Is there someone you would love to have in your life again on any level? If the answer is yes, then you need to contact that person and take a step. Once you reunite with this person, you will have opened up more authenticity in your life. You will feel more alive, more bliss. I have done this recently, and I am happy that I did.
  • Get moving and learn or do something you have never done before. Trying a new activity, a new hobby or a new adventure makes us come alive. Leave the “I can’t” thoughts behind and just do it. This new experience will enrich you, take you away from your current rut, and help you see past your preconceived ideas. You might even discover an entire new direction in life! I am making a commitment to try something new this summer.

The above four ways to experience authenticity will inspire and allow you to live from your most raw and loving self. Living authentically inspires and enhances our peace and our joy and helps us connect more deeply to each other and to our planet. And, like a new, man-made stream, life is experienced with embracing the new, moving past our fears, and accepting what is. The new stream in town is perfect. I have embraced it. You can, too.

© 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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Like Nature, We Are

Nature. It is what it is.

I have to apologize if you think this blog is about the physical or biological building blocks of our natural world. It is not. It is, however, about what we can learn from nature.

Snow in the Rockies

As scientific and rational human beings in the twenty first century, there is a lot we do know about how nature works physically, but we lack in the philosophical understanding of why it does what it does. There is much more to study and ponder. Sometimes, the best we can do is experience without having to explain. Nature is observable but not completely explainable, magnificent and fearless, majestic and mutable, beautiful and courageous, unapologetic and focused. Nature is all of these things, and it is a poignant reminder of what just is.

I eloped almost two weeks ago and was headed for my honeymoon when nature “happened.” Due to forecasted rain and snow, we had to alter our plans and postpone our adventure. Instead, I found myself walking among nature during a snow storm and snapped the photographs above and below. As I strolled, I was mesmerized by the beauty of this familiar but very pleasant winter scene. I realized that human beings and nature are similar: both are majestic, innately beautiful, transitional, transforming and there. Nature is. We are. As I strolled and immersed myself in this breathtaking part of the planet, I was reminded of something we all are guilty of forgetting: we ARE first and foremost. We ARE before we are wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, employees, managers, tax payers, experts, professionals, writers, coaches or any other label we might give ourselves or is given to us. We ARE, and it is okay to just BE. We often feel obligated to live up to the expectations placed upon us based on the roles we are assigned or the labels we are given. If we do not take the time to realize that we are more than these labels, we will forget the essence of who we are. As human beings, we are mysterious and somewhat unexplainable; we are magnificently and beautifully created, breathing, living beings; and, we just are. Like nature being itself or like a snow storm dumping precipitation on the trees and landscape, causing the creek to freeze and displaying its marvelous beauty and essence, we are.

Nature comes out to play. It IS and does not apologize for itself, and we should not either. It knows who it is and what it needs to do. When is the last time you showed up to play? When is the last time you brought all of you to the table and not just part of you? How long has it been since you have showed up to just be YOU? When is the last time you got yourself out of bed in the morning and, like nature, made no excuses for who you ARE? When is the last time you stopped living your “label” and lived YOU? I invite you to take a look at your closest natural scene (no matter where you are on this planet), and decide if it is YOU who is coming out to play every day.

Snow in the Rockies

Standing in the snow storm and watching the flakes fall into the trees, the rocks, and the freezing water, I was reminded about my true essence, our true essence. We all need to live passionately, purposefully, and without excuse for who we are without all the labels. It is only then that we are able to truly shine no matter what the season.

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


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April Book Review: A Year by the Sea: Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman by Joan Anderson

 

A Year by the Sea, Vilma Reynoso, Joan Anderson

“We cannot write in water; we cannot carve in water. Water’s nature is to flow and that is how we should treat life. Emotion – negative or positive – do not deny it, but always let it flow through and then away.” – Anonymous

A Year by the Sea: Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman by Joan Anderson is the story of the author’s search for direction and self-discovery after finding herself in a stagnant relationship with her husband of many years. Separated from her life-long husband, Joan spends a year by the sea in their cottage on Cape Cod (by herself). Feeling unfulfilled and with no possibilities, she discovers new life and spends time taking the steps to transform her life. Joan discovers that she is always a work in progress and it is okay to be “unfinished” like the shoreline. There is (of course) an inspiring surprise at the end of the book!

The ebb and flow of the prose in this book is fabulous! Joan uses water-related, rich metaphors in this narrative non-fiction memoir to illuminate her feelings and her transformation easily and beautifully in each chapter. This is a perfect book for a lover of the sea or the oceans (as I am) or for someone who is a student and lover of metaphorical prose (as I also am). I could smell and feel the ocean when I read this! I recommended this book especially if you are a woman who has devoted her life to her husband and children, and in the process, have forgotten to nourish yourself. Anderson’s book is a wonderfully-written, very personal story that will encourage you and help you realize that it is never too late to live a life full of opportunities at whatever age you find yourself.

A bit about the author, Joan Anderson:

Joan Anderson is the author of numerous children’s novels and author of Breaking the TV Habit. A year by the Sea: Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman is her first narrative non-fiction piece, and it has now been produced into a movie! She has also written The Second Journey and A Walk on the Beach and A Weekend to Change your Life (I have not read these books). She lives in Cape Cod and conducts her popular workshops by the sea.

To learn more about Joan Anderson and to purchase A Year by the Sea: Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman, visit: joanandersononline.com.

Joan Anderson, Vilma Reynoso

“I am unfinished as the shoreline along the beach, meant to transcend myself again and again.” – Joan Anderson

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

Copyright, 2014, Vilma Reynoso

 


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March Book Review: The Legacy of Luna: The Story of a Tree, a Woman, and the Struggle to Save the Redwoods by Julia Butterfly Hill

Julia Butterfly Hill, Luna, VIlma ReynosoThere is a moment in our lives when we truly come to know and understand the relationship we have with creation and nature. Nothing is ever the same again. I, as well as this courageous activist and author, Julia Butterfly Hill in The Legacy of Luna: The Story of a Tree, a Woman, and the Struggle to Save the Redwoods, in one life-changing, delicate moment in the Redwoods, understood this.

My only visit to the Redwoods was in 1992. I spent about twenty minutes hiking in and around the tallest and most beautiful living beings I had ever seen! My heart thumped, my eyes and ears opened wide, and my spirit became ALIVE. I felt a connection with all that lived in and around the trees. All my senses became alert. It was that moment in the Redwood forest that taught me the power of stillness and appreciation of nature and indescribable beauty. I wanted nothing more than to stay there forever. That day left a mark on my heart and soul that I will never forget.

Back to Julia Butterfly Hill…

Redwood Forest, Vilma Reynoso

In the Redwood Forest in 1992 (best I could do with a scanned photograph!).

It was the following words written by Hill, when she first stepped foot into the Redwood forest, that caught my attention and enthusiasm because she expressed exactly what I had felt when I experienced it:

“For the first time, I really felt what it was like to be alive, to feel the connection of a life and its inherent truth – not the truth that is taught to us by so-called scientists or politicians or other human beings, but truth that exists within creation. . . . Gripped by the spirit of the forest, I dropped to my knees and started to sob. I sank my fingers into the layers of duff that smelled so sweet and so rich and so full of layers of life, then lay my face down and breathed it in. . . .  I could feel my whole being bursting forth into new life in this majestic cathedral. I sat and cried for a long time.”

The Legacy of Luna: The Story of a Tree, a Woman, and the Struggle to Save the Redwoods by Julia Butterfly Hill, published in 2000, is a story of courage, love and unrelenting faith and determination in fighting for what one believes. It is the story of how this incredible woman saved a two-thousand year-old redwood tree named “Luna” from being cut down and destroyed by the Pacific Lumber Company. The book explains the relationship we have with nature and how its destruction creates our own destruction and demise, physically and spiritually. It demonstrates, via the author’s experiences living in 180-foot Luna for 738 days, how we, as created beings, are all related. Hill’s spiritual growth is extraordinary and poignant. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is a lover and protector of nature, is an activist working to save our precious forests and land, is curious about the relationship we have with nature and all living beings (including thousand plus-year-old trees), or is looking for undeniable inspiration.

Julia Butterfly Hill

A bit about the author, Julia Butterfly Hill:

Julia Butterfly Hill is a writer, poet, and activist. She helped found the Circle of Life Foundation to promote the sustainability, restoration and preservation of life. She has been the recipient of many honors and awards and speaks at environmental conferences worldwide. To learn more about Julia, visit: juliabutterly.com.

To purchase The Legacy of Luna: The Story of a Tree, a Woman, and the Struggle to Save the Redwoods, visit: The-Legacy-Luna-Struggle-Redwoods. I bought a used copy that was printed on recycled paper.

The book is also available as a PDF for free

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

Copyright, 2014, Vilma Reynoso