VIlma Reynoso

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

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.


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The Rocks


The Rocks, Vilma Reynoso

I like to work in my yard. I love to clear the path for the new growth that occurs every spring by cleaning out the dead leaves and debris. This season is no different. But, this time, while in the midst of the crumbled leaves, the dead pine needles, and even the blown-in pieces of trash, I learned something.

There are four beautiful pine bushes growing in my front lawn with a boat-load of rocks – large, medium, small and tiny – placed all around them (too many, really). This was something set up by the prior home owners years ago, so when I moved in, I left it as I found it. This spring, it was time to clean out the underlying earth stuff that was now morphed into and beneath all the rocks. I made the decision to transform it. The slow process of removing every rock and cleaning underneath was sometimes laborious and time-consuming.

I have to admit that I loved grabbing and pulling out the muck with my hands in between and underneath the rocks!  What a rush! I find the smell of wet leaves and dirt and the spring sun warming my back comforting and life-giving. There was something about it that made me feel like I was doing the bushes (and the earth) a service: I was removing the dead stuff stifling their growth; I was making them look better; and, in the process of eliminating what had been mounting on top of their roots for probably years, I was allowing them to breathe easier. I was contributing to their health and vitality.

As I moved each rock to see what was underneath, I thought about my life throughout the decades, and I asked myself what did I need to remove for me to breathe easier, and what have I already removed. As I cleaned up the surface-level trash and the old leaves, I realized that this was the easy part. The removal of what everyone sees on the outside (what everyone will see from the curb or from the street, in this case) can be “cleaned up” pretty easily: we are courteous in public, we groom ourselves, we brush our teeth, we add make up, we cut, clean, and color our hair, we shave, we wear clean clothes, and we present our outer selves (our surface-level selves) to others pretty well. This is okay, and it is a reflection of who we are. We want to present ourselves as acceptable and want others to like us, but how many of us really like what is underneath? How many of us present a different picture when we are alone? I asked myself how I treat myself when I DO NOT have to “clean up” for others. I began to ponder…

As I finished the surface-level cleanup on the top of the rocks, I started to move each and every one of them to see what was underneath. There I found even more dead leaves, trash, compost, and some weed roots that needed to be removed. Wow. This entailed a lot more work than I had expected! As I moved each rock, pulling up the debris and the roots of weeds with my hands, I pondered what I have “underneath my rocks,” or deep within, that has not been pulled or cleaned up. That was a sobering thought. What am I hiding beneath my rocks? What do we hide about ourselves that if brought to light, would dramatically improve our lives for the better and allow the sun, the water, the air, the universe or God to give us more life or heal us? What needs to be removed?

Vilma Reynoso, The Rocks

I then moved even more rocks. I realized the roots of the weeds that I discovered in between and under several layers of rocks were deeply embedded; I realized they were there for years and years, and no one ever bothered to remove them. I knew they really did not belong there. They crowded and suffocated the roots of the bushes, which needed room to breathe so they could grow and flourish. The weed-roots had to be removed.

I pulled and pulled with all my might to no avail. I could not completely remove all of the weeds. I had to leave them there for the time being with the intent of completely removing them step by step with patience and diligence. But I was now aware that they were there: they were not going anywhere and they were strong and deeply rooted. How many of us have self-destructive behaviors or thoughts that are so deeply rooted? I pondered mine…

What began as a difficult task ended up being a great lesson in my life: the surface level cleanup is not enough – move the rocks and clean up what is underneath, and do all you can, Vilma, to get to the roots and remove them, no matter how deeply rooted. Abundant life requires clean up. It requires not only surface-level clean up, but also deep, root-removal. Ignoring untrue or destructive thoughts will lead to destructive emotions; destructive emotions will lead to destructive behaviors; and, destructive behaviors lead to a destructive character. The more I “clean” and am aware of my “deep-seeded roots,” the more I can pull them out or change my thoughts, emotions and behavior to allow more life into my being. This, I believe, is the true meaning of the phrase, “life rocks.”

Now, go look underneath your rocks.

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

Copyright, 2014, Vilma Reynoso


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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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Expression Lives

Spring, Vilma Reynoso

I have learned that oppression is the opposite of expression, and those who oppress (in any form), live in constant fear. Oppression is the stifling of man and nature’s creative and exploratory need. The best way to stop oppression is to live in the opposite way: be the person who recognizes oppression and stands against it; be the person with an open and not brainwashed mind; be the person who loves expression, because expression is why we are here; be the person who sees and recognizes the creative source in all human beings; be the person who honors and loves all beings; be the person who encourages expression and not oppression.

Today is the first day of spring. All nature wants to be expressive. If you can, take a walk outside today and honor the life force that seeks to express itself and bloom every spring. Watch the plants, grasses and flowers begin their process of becoming. Just like plant life seeks to express itself, we seek and need to “bloom,” too. It is natural and innate. Be a person who helps the world BLOOM, in your own special way.

Wishing you all an expressive and creative Thursday, March 20th, 2014, the first day of the spring equinox!

Express!

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


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The Crack

On the last day of the year, 2013, I thought I would ponder, once again, that age-old question: “What is the meaning of life?”

What a crazy question that has been asked over the centuries since the beginning of time! There is no other question, I believe, that has been asked more. And, answers? There are probably as many answers to this question as there are thinkers and philosophers who have asked it over the ages. It is a question that really has no direct, easy answer.

One such thinker and philosopher who asked this question and contemplated the answer to it was Henry David Thoreau. In the mid 1800’s, this man decided to take up the challenge of trying to answer the important question, “What is the meaning of life?” Thoreau decided to ponder the question as he lived by himself in a small house in the woods which contained one room and a nearby outhouse for two years, two months, and two days. There, in this peaceful and serene place, he thought, studied, meditated, and experimented, deeply pondering not only what the meaning of life is, but also why it is that man is always wanting more and seems to never be satisfied with what he is and has. Alone and at peace, Henry David Thoreau became in tune with the Creator, the force that exists in all creation, the universal spirit and intuition that resides in all people and which stimulates man to live. During this momentous time, he wrote his best work, Walden. Thoreau discovered that life is always seeking to expand, emerge, to grow. He also concluded that what we dream about for our lives is not only that which is seeking to emerge from us, but it is nothing less than the creative force, the infinite Creator, or God (whatever your choice of words) that wants to manifest itself in our lives through our expression and creativity. Life, and the meaning thereof, is all there is. The meaning of life is to adhere to the creative force within and express it outward. It is to allow the life spirit within to live.

Have you ever taken a walk and have you ever pondered the cracks in the pavement? How many times have you seen that tiny, soft green plant emerging from concrete? It has managed to grow through that thick material wanting to live, hasn’t it?  We are the same. Everything we do, the very reason we get out of bed in the morning is because life is seeking to emerge from us; life is seeking to have a fuller and freer and more expanding expression through us, all the time.  We want more clothes, more money, more friends, a bigger house, a larger yard, a new profession, a new book to read, a special relationship, more freedom, more creative expression, more LIFE! We seek because we are expanding beings who MUST create and expand. It is not wrong to want more; it is actually normal and natural. Like the blade of grass that needs to break through the payment, we always need to break through to a fuller and more expansive life. And, this is where our dreams come in. The life we would love living is the life that is seeking to emerge from us.

How do we live our dream life? Our first step is to decide what our core values are and then start to imagine a life we would love that would encompass those values. You might value your time with your family, or you might value spending time by yourself reading and need this time to relax and recharge. You might value nature and prefer to spend an hour a day experiencing the outdoors. You might value health and prefer to eat healthy foods and exercise daily. You might value peace, love, or respect. Or, perhaps you value friendships and desire to spend time socializing more than spending time alone. Whatever it is that you value must be in line with whatever you desire for your dream life.

Once we know what our core values are, we then decide what it is we LOVE. What makes you smile, makes your eyes and body light up fully? What activity do you do that when you do it makes you wish time would stop at that very moment? Or, what do you day dream about doing and wish you could practice all day?  What do you know that is welling deep inside that needs to be shared with others? What passion do you have that you desire to share with the world? These are only beginning questions to ponder in starting to create a life of your dreams, the life that is seeking to emerge from you.

Henry David Thoreau truly believed that the creative force within is seeking to come forth and blossom into a greater and fuller life through us on this side of existence. Many other thinkers and philosophers have agreed with Thoreau and have lived magnificent and full lives of creative expression and true happiness. But before they were able to create truly fulfilling lives, they learned that they needed to listen to their creative voices first. What is it that you feel and know in your spirit that wants to emerge in 2014? Whatever it is, there is never a better time than NOW to allow it to come forth.

Life. It really can be ALL that it is cracked up to be.

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

Copyright, 2013, Vilma Reynoso

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The Bench

I recently took a long walk through my neighborhood and beyond not only to smell the summer flowers, but because I am currently without a vehicle. I live in a small suburb of a large city with the feel of the country but with all the city’s amenities. There is literally everything an American could possibly need (and perhaps want) close to the center of the town in which I live. If I desired, I could stumble into a Starbucks, visit Home Depot, buy used books, hang out at the local bar, watch a local rendition of the play, Oklahoma, or visit the farmer’s market all in one afternoon with ease.  All of this is about four miles from where I live via a beautiful, paved and clean biking/walking path filled with the sounds of the birds chiming and the deer hiding behind the trees. As a cyclist and runner, I had never actually just WALKED the path to downtown until now.  What a surprise!

Once I reached the downtown stores and shops, I ran a few errands, ate delicious Chinese food, mailed a package, and then finally relaxed at my favorite coffee shop.  During my trek through town, however, I could not help but notice all the benches – everywhere. They were at the park, on the path, near the restaurants, close to the coffee shop, across from the day care center, in front of the law office, across from the Italian restaurant in the old, Victorian house – everywhere. I had been to downtown many times but never, until now, noticed the benches.  I was in awe. How in the world did I miss these benches when I rode my bike or drove through town on so many other occasions? How? As I walked, I began to appreciate each and every bench as I came across them. I noticed what was around and beyond them, and I became more grateful for them!

Glancing at one bench after another, I asked myself, “What else am I missing that if I were to slow down, I would enjoy, love, or even cherish? What is life trying to teach me when I slow down? What do I need to stop and absorb deeper? Or, what do I not see that is right in front of my eyes? What have I missed throughout my years of life because I was in a hurry?” I pondered these questions as I walked and walked and noticed more and more benches downtown.

I think most of us want to see only what we want to see. And, I believe we do not always see what we need to see. We also do not notice what life is trying to teach us when we are so focused on the destination (or the goal). Benches are snippets of our journey through life. They are markers that help make the walk through our lives more pleasant. They are there to remind us to take a break, enjoy the scenery, and take a load off. They are there to remind us to pay attention to the details, because it is in the details that beauty happens. They are on our path to remind us to SLOW DOWN. They are there to remind us of what is most important in life – peace, joy, creative expression, compassion, and love. The benches are markers and reminders of what we might be missing, what we might be hurrying through, what we need to stop and think about, or what we need to “see” that we are refusing to see. They remind us that life is always about the journey and not just about the destination. They are visual reminders for us to stop, breathe, feel, think, and just be.

I will undoubtedly walk the four miles to and from my house again this summer. And, this time, I will be walking with greater appreciation, greater ease, and greater expectation of not only every single bench on the path, but also of what life is trying to teach me. And, I might just sit on one and ponder. You can too!

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

Copyright, 2013, Vilma Reynoso