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May Book Review: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

It’s 5 a.m. It’s quiet, and it’s my favorite part of the day.

Introverts love quiet: quiet mornings, quiet afternoons and a contemplative walk, quiet evenings with a great book and an animal (or two), quiet workplaces so they can create. I am an introvert. I’m a lucky introvert because I stumbled upon Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, a book that thoroughly demonstrates that not only is it okay to be introverted, but there are so many advantages to being one. Are you an introvert?  Did you know that you are okay as you are? If not, look no further – read Cain’s book!

Susan Cain in Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, begins by explaining how extroversion became the norm in society (even how extroversion is preferred over introversion) followed by considerable evidence demonstrating how collaboration or “group work” actually kills creativity. Even though most of our workplace is designed for extroverts, evidence shows that working alone cultivates and sustains creative thinking. According to research psychologist Anders Ericcson, it is when we are alone that we can engage in deliberate creativity and practice; it is only then that we can identify knowledge just out of our reach, strive to upgrade our performance, monitor our progress, and improve. Working in a group setting, he advises, is counterproductive because it reinforces current cognitive mechanisms. But, how many of us have the capability of working alone, and why is society set up to value extroversion? Susan Cain discusses these important questions.

Cain discusses how charismatic leadership in our business world is a myth, and that introverts actually fair just as well, if not better, than extroverts in all areas of study and business. One out of every three people is introverted. Research shows that creative individuals became masters in their work by consistently spending time alone immersing themselves in their craft. Who are some of the world’s creative introverts? How about Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, George Orwell, J.K. Rowling, Marcel Proust, Charles Schutz, Steven Spielberg, George Orwell, Charles Darwin, Marie Curie, Steve Wozniak, Frederic Chopin, W.B. Yeats, and the list goes on. Can you imagine life without this list?

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking also discusses temperament and the biology of introverts and extroverts, nature vs. nurture theories, different cultures in regards to introversion vs. extroversion, how to best communicate with both temperaments, when an introvert might have to act more extroverted and why, and finally, how to cultivate and sustain the introvert in an extroverted world. Cain ascertains that the world needs a better balance between extroversion and introversion. Her book is very well researched and a pleasure to read.

I highly recommend Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. This book is rich with valuable information, and this blog has only reviewed part of it. I recommend this reading to anyone interested in this topic but especially to introverts.  It will help you see that there is nothing wrong with you, that it is okay to be introverted. I also advise this reading to business owners or managers so you can better support your staff with their development and company goals.

A bit about the author, Susan Cain:Susan Cain

Susan Cain is the co-founder of Quiet Revolution and the author of the bestseller Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts in addition to Quiet: The Power of Introverts in A World That Can’t Stop Talking, which has been translated into forty languages and has been on the New York Times bestseller list for almost three years. Susan is also the co-founder of the Quiet Schools Network and the Quiet Leadership Institute. Her writing has appeared in the The New York TimesThe AtlanticThe Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. Her record-smashing TED talk has been viewed over 17 million times (which is where I discovered her!). She received Harvard Law School’s Celebration Award for Thought Leadership, the Toastmasters International Golden Gavel Award for Communication and Leadership, and was named one of the world’s top fifty Leadership and Management Experts by Inc. Magazine. She is an honors graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law School. Lastly, Ms. Cain prefers listening to talking, reading to socializing, and cozy chats to group settings, like a true introvert.

To learn more about Susan Cain, or to purchase a copy of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, visit QuietRev.com.

I leave you with the Quiet Revolution Manifesto found on Susan Cain’s website, QuietRevolution.com:

  1. There is a word for “people who are in their heads too much”- thinkers.
  2. Solitude is a catalyst for innovation.
  3. The next generation of quiet kids can and must be raised to know their own strengths.
  4. Sometimes it helps to be a pretend-extrovert. There is always time to be quiet later.
  5. But in the long run, staying true to your temperament is the key to finding work you love and work that matters.
  6. One genuine relationship is worth a fistful of business cards.
  7. It’s okay to cross the street to avoid making small talk.
  8. “Quiet leadership” is not an oxymoron.
  9. Love is essential; gregariousness is optional.
  10. “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com

 

 

 

 

 


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Scrapbooking: How it Changed my Life and Lifted the Pain

I am a scrapbooking junkie. I admit it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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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

Earthships


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

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

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

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

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

Earthships

Earthships

Earthships

A bit about the author, Michael E. Reynolds:

Mike Reynolds, Earthships

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

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

 


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

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

The true painter is wise,

God is in his heart.

He puts divinity into things;

He converses with his own heart.

-Black Elk, Ancient Mesoamerican Poem

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

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

A bit about the author, Matthew Fox:

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

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

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

 


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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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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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