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October Book Review: The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption by Dahr Jamail

 

As an admirer and preserver of nature, I found Dahr Jamail’s The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption pertinent, engaging and beautifully written. Attacking a very difficult subject to ponder (much less write about), Jamail weaved his personal experiences from climbing Denali Mountain in Alaska with climate science and what ensued is a very thoughtful and poignant book.

Interviewing experts in perspective places on earth who have watched and experienced the changes of our climate occur over decades, Jamail discusses the melting of the ice caps, glaciers, and permafrost in Greenland and in the Arctic; the rising of sea levels worldwide; the dying Great Barrier Reef; the warming of our oceans, including the numerous loss of marine life; the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest and ramifications thereof; the loss of habitat in forests; the extinction of millions of species; the sinking of coastal cities, islands, and towns; the feedback loops already occurring; and more.  He also explains how all of this is and will continue to gravely affect all animal, plant, and human communities worldwide. He includes a chapter on grieving for what has happened (and what might occur) and ends his book with a question for all of us: “Knowing what is happening to the planet, to what do [we] devote [our lives]?”

The urgency of acting to combat the worldwide major problem of climate change cannot be overstated. It is absolutely vital that we take part in doing everything we can to stop (or at least slow down) the process of climate change for our survival. At the rate we are living life, our children and grandchildren will not have enough water, clean air to breathe, or an inhabitable planet in which to live. We must change our energy system to green/clean energy, and we must stop consuming animals (animal agriculture is the second largest contributor to human-made greenhouse gas emissions after fossil fuels and is a leading cause of deforestation, water, air pollution, and biodiversity loss).

I urgently recommend The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption by Dahr Jamail to anyone interested in the science of climate change, the student of environmental science, activists for planet Earth, and to anyone who cares about our future as a species. It is well written and well documented.

A bit about the author, Dahr Jamail:Dahr_Jamail

Dahr Jamail, an accomplished mountaineer who has worked as a volunteer rescue ranger on Denali, is the winner of the Izzy Award for excellence in journalism and the recipient of the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, and winner of other awards.  As an accomplished reporter who spent more than a year reporting from Iraq, he is also the author of three other books: Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq; The Will to Resist: Soldiers who Refuse to Fight in Iraq or Afghanistan; and The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Disintegration of a Nation (co-authored with William Rivers Pitt).

Dahr lives in the state of Washington. Denali is still his favorite mountain to climb.

To purchase a copy of The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption by Dahr Jamail, visit: DahrJamail.net.

 

 


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February Book Review: Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson

“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” – Albert Einstein

What humble words mumbled by one of my all-time, favorite geniuses, Albert Einstein. I highly doubt anyone on this planet thinks that Einstein was “no special talent;” however, Einstein viewed himself as a kid in a sandbox when he daydreamed about the universe and its intricate details and workings. Work was play. Thinking, figuring and wondering was his unabashed enjoyment. He worked alone and frequently relied on his intuition. Einstein was the ultimate example of tapping into the creative intelligence. His curiosity and unwavering drive for answers would eventually lead him to become one of the greatest minds of all time. Oh, the lessons we can learn from him!As a lifelong, passionate fan of Albert Einstein, I knew a bit about him, but after reading Walter Isaacson’s biography, Einstein: His Life and Universe, I saw the genius from a different perspective. The book is a detailed summary of all aspects of Einstein’s life. Isaacson not only chronologically explains Einstein’s work in regard to his theory of special relativity, quantum physics, and his involvement in the creation of the atomic bomb, but he also tells a compelling story about the geniuses’ personal life, his anti-war activism during WWI, and more. Professor Einstein, known as the Father of Cosmology, believed in a universal intelligence and wanted a one-world government for ultimate peace on Earth. As a self-absorbed scientist, he would sometimes spend months ignoring his family. His first wife, a physicist and intellectual colleague, found herself having to compete with him in a male-dominated profession and would eventually become resentful, depressed, and physically ill. A bitter divorce ensued and Albert Einstein remarried. Isaacson brings to life the humanity behind the genius.

I recommend Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson to anyone who is curious about the man behind the theories of relativity and quantum mechanics. It was a pleasure to read this book and to learn more about this incredible man.

A bit about the author, Walter Isaacson:

Walter Isaacson is an American writer and journalist. He is the President and CEO of the Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C. He has been the chairman and CEO of Cable News Network (CNN) and the Managing Editor of Time Magazine. In addition to writing Einstein: His Life and Universe, Isaacson has written biographies of Steve Jobs, Benjamin Franklin and Henry Kissinger. In 2012, he was selected as one of the Time 100, the magazine’s list of the most influential people in the world. Mr. Isaacson has honorary degrees from Tufts University, Cooper Union, William & Mary, Franklin University Switzerland, University of New Orleans, University of South Carolina, City University of New York , Pomona College, Lehigh University, Duke University, and Colorado Mountain College and has received numerous awards throughout his lifetime.

To purchase Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson, visit Amazon.

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com

 

 


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Dear Microsoft: absolutely not.

Here is a spot-on article on what reality is for women in STEM professions. Thanks, Monica Bryne. I could not agree more that the responsibility lies in the hands of those in power and not on young girls!

monica byrne

And it has nothing to do with your software. It has to do with your new ad campaign, which I happened to see while I was at the gym last week. Here’s the gist: brilliant young girls express their ambitions to cure cancer and explore outer space and play with the latest in virtual reality tech. Then—gotcha!—they’re shown a statistic that only 6.7% of women graduate with STEM degrees. They look crushed. The tagline? “Change the world. Stay in STEM.”

Are you fucking kidding me?

Microsoft, where’s your ad campaign telling adult male scientists not to rape their colleagues in the field? Where’s the campaign telling them not to steal or take credit for women’s work? Or not to seriallysexuallyharasstheirstudents? Not to discriminate against them? Not to ignoredismiss, or fail to promote them at the same rate as men? Not to publish their work at a statistically…

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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.

E.O. Wilson


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December Book Review: The Creation: An Appeal To Save Life on Earth by E.O. Wilson

Influenced by his southern Baptist upbringing and the beauty and mystery of nature throughout his lifetime to pursue a career in biology and the sciences, E.O. Wilson writes to the pastors of the world in a plea to put aside science and religion’s opposing worldviews for the saving of planet Earth in this concise and well-written argument. In The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth, Wilson explains scientific humanism while demonstrating a thorough understanding of the religious belief of intelligent design. The book is easy to read, interesting, entertaining, eye-opening and poignant.

E.O. WilsonE.O. Wilson begins with the definition of what nature is followed by why we should care about the destructive environmental changes that are occurring. He explains the symbiosis and biodiversity of life on earth, and in a surprising and interesting chapter, covers thoroughly why the ant species are so needed for our survival. The author explains why the decline of ecosystems, the demolishing of our rain forests, the overfishing of our oceans, global warming, and more are destroying our planet Earth and life as we know it. Demonstrating his love and genuine curiosity of nature and the origins of life, Wilson talks about the beauty in nature and how we have only begun to catalog the multitudes of species on our planet. His appeal ends with an explanation of what science is and its role in understanding the creation, and asks the “Baptist pastor” to work with him, essentially to allow religion and science to work together in the mutual goal of saving the planet (and humans) from its current level of destruction.

E.O. Wilson

I highly recommend Wilson’s, The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth, to those who are naturalists, humanists and environmentalists who seek an overview of biology and current environmental devastation. I also recommend the book to those who are Christian or subscribe to other religious beliefs. E.O. Wilson’s argument explains why denial of the above-mentioned ramifications will only lead to our extinction as a species and the ultimate end of life on Earth as we know it.

A bit about the author, Edward O. Wilson:

Wilson is a world-renowned naturalist, humanist, myrmecologist, former Harvard biologist, theorist, author and winner of two Pulitzer prizes and is the author of over twenty other books. Furthermore, he has written more than four hundred mostly technical articles and has also won over one hundred (very impressive!) other awards including but not limited to The National Medal of Science, Japan’s International Prize for Biology, the Presidential Medal and Nomino Prize of Italy, The U.S. National Medal of Science, and the gold medal of the Worldwide Fund for Nature. A brilliant mind and compassionate spirit, Edward O. Wilson focused his career on scientific research and teaching at Harvard University for forty years prior to retiring and founding The E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation. He lives with his wife, Irene, in Massachusetts.

To learn more about E.O. Wilson, visit: The E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation.

To purchase a copy of The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth, visit: Amazon.

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