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We Have Forgotten

It is a foggy day today, September 11, 2014.

As I sit at one my favorite cafés writing, I honestly am asking myself how much more can be written about this tragic day. I feel as if I am reiterating the same old sentiment: “never forget.” With all of the articles, eBooks, blogs and conspiracy theories floating around the internet about 9/11, how can anyone forget what happened that day? And, what about the families of those who died on that day? Do they really need to be reminded again and again what happened everywhere they turn? Today, thirteen years later, I am writing yet another blog for everyone to read online about September 11th.  The truth is we do forget. We have forgotten how wounded we are.

September 11, 2001

Like many people, I remember that day like it was yesterday. In complete, numbing shock I changed channels on the television only to come to the same horrific rehashing of the two planes flying into the towers and the buildings tumbling to the ground. I had a friend who I knew worked in Tower One. I could not help but think of her as I watched in disbelief (I found out the next day she made it outside before the building fell).  As a brand new mother, I wondered what kind of world my child would inherit. It seemed like the attainment of peace worldwide, much less in my own backyard, was now almost impossible.

Robert Maynard Hutchins, American philosopher and perennialist, wrote:

“The goal toward which all history tends is peace, not peace through the medium of war, not peace through a process of universal intimidation, not peace through a program of mutual impoverishment, not peace by any means that leaves the world too weak or too frightened to go on fighting, but peace pure and simple based on that [will to peace] which has animated the overwhelming majority of mankind through countless ages. This will to peace does not arise out of a cowardly desire to preserve one’s life and property, but out of conviction that the [fullest development of the highest powers of men] can be achieved only in a world of peace.”

peace

The events of September 11, 2001 (as well as other horrific events that occur worldwide) – however planned and executed – demonstrated the state of consciousness of the perpetrators. Did they have a “will to peace” as Hutchins mentions? They were as far from a consciousness of peace as one can get. There are probably many arguments one could surmise to explain why anyone would commit this type of mass murder, but one thing I do know is this: we cannot “undo” what happened that tragic day. What we can do now is move forward. We can move forward in creating the world we truly want to live in – a world of cooperation, respect and compassion. Let this short blog inspire you to rise above by acknowledging what is within you first. Heal your wounded parts, for life or death begins there. It is these wounded parts that contribute towards living in fear of others, that separate, that cause us to believe there is an enemy “out there,” that fall prey to racism and control, and that spew out fear onto the world. It is the wounded part of us that plans a “9/11.” Let’s heal and transform the world into a place where the events of September 11th are unheard of. Let’s do it for our children. Let’s do it for humankind.

As I contemplate that day forever etched in my mind, I cannot help but hope for a better, freer, and more compassionately conscious world. So, on this foggy, September 11th in the Rockies, as I sit with others around me whom I do not know but who share flesh and blood and the desire to live free, happy, and creatively with me, I will say, as has been said over and over again: never forget.

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

Copyright, 2014, Vilma Reynoso


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The Unexpected Gap

It is autumn. It is a time that signifies the end of something, the beginning of something else, and the “in-between.” It is a time when the old life withers and new life eventually emerges. It is a time of change.

So many of us are truly afraid of change, but change is something we cannot avoid. It is part of life no matter what. It is the relinquishing of the old, the bringing about of the new, and the eventual merging of the soul with both. It is the beginning of new life. It is normal. This is life. It is what life does; it seeks to express itself through us, and it seeks to express itself by the big C word: CHANGE.

The moment we see, feel, or intuit change coming is sometimes the moment of panic.  At this moment, we are at the crest of new life, the moment of unclear action. We cannot see the future, we want to remain in the present (how we want it to be), but life demands of us to move on to the “new,” no matter what that “new” might be. It is at this time that we are in what I call the Unexpected Gap. The universe is always and intently changing without resistance and moving forward. Our role is to go with it. However, we all resist change to one extent or another depending on what we believe change means. Some of us view change as something incredibly awful, and we resist it with all our strength.  Others embrace change and welcome it as the life-giving and healing source it can be in our lives. Some of us acknowledge change but continue to deny that it is happening, so we continue to live in the old season. We don’t accept it and remain stagnate. For some of us, it takes a lifetime to embrace change.

When I was an active teenager decades ago, abrupt change was cast on me as I ventured home one day and found my mother in a stroke-induced coma. Nothing could have prepared me for this moment. Nothing. It was not expected. It was not even anywhere on my radar (or anyone else’s). CHANGE (very painful change, I might add) was thrust upon me like a brick thrown at my face. It was the worst disaster that hit my family from out of nowhere.

The emotions I felt back then were so intense and confusing. I could not even ponder how I was going to get through the rest of my life without my mother. I felt angry at God and did not understand why this was happening; I felt incredible sadness (Mom was only 46.); I was confused; I felt guilty because I had gotten in a stupid fight with my mother that morning before she dropped flat-faced on the bathroom floor, and I was not able to say goodbye to her; I wanted answers but they did not come. It took two weeks for my mom to eventually die. Within those two weeks, I was in my “unexpected gap.” My life would never be the same again.

I am not alone. We all have our “unexpected gaps.” As I have learned, that space, that moment, that time between the old and the new, that unforeseen, painful, elusive gap (of whatever length of time) is the point where the release of the present meets the manifestation of the new; it is the point of no return. It is also the point at which, if not heeded and embraced, we remain stuck. It is our autumn.

Decades after the death of my mother, I finally understand what that unexpected gap wanted from me. I know why I felt the feelings I felt, too. I discovered that it is my responsibility, no matter how arduous, to see, feel, and embrace the change that comes within my gap. I know now that I felt angry and confused back then because I was afraid of “the unexpected gap:” I wanted to trust only that which was familiar and wanted to remain there. I felt sad because I did not and could not see or embrace my life without Mom; I felt guilty because I had chosen to argue with my mother that unforgettable morning instead of telling her I loved her. I lacked faith in what was to come, in the personal growth that was to occur, in the process of life.  I did not accept that Mom’s passing (for whatever mysterious reasons) was my gap.

Can anyone truly explain why anyone dies at a specific time or why things happen the way they do? The answer will always remain elusive, but I do know this: autumn comes every year whether we are prepared or not. Unexpected change will come. And, that “gap” we all experience in one form or another is a chance for release, growth and the eventual emerging of change, of new life.

Heed the gap.

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

Copyright, 2013, Vilma Reynoso


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The Turning Point

It’s funny how memories come to mind. At one moment, we are thinking about one thing and in the next split second, we are taken back to the not-so-wonderful past.  This happened to me yesterday as I was driving. I passed by a familiar restaurant and memories flooded my mind. What is particularly funny is that I had driven past this restaurant probably dozens of times this year alone, but it was yesterday’s drive that spurred the memories.

Five years ago.

It was five years ago today that my fourteen year marriage ended, legally. After the judge declared the marriage “dissolved,” I remember my ex-husband stating, “Well, that was that.” I thought to myself, “That IS that; it’s over. Finally OVER.”  As we walked out of that emotionless, cold courtroom, it was apparent that now we both had to “move on.” There were to be so many changes ahead for me. And, even though I was the one who instigated the breakup of a very troubled marriage, at that moment, I knew another level of healing (and suffering) had just commenced for me. I wish I could write that I was brave through all of it, that I handled every crying session, every sad day, every angry moment with dignity and grace, but that is not true. I would love to say that every thought I had back then as I was healing was inspired by love, peace, joy and ultimate good (for myself and for everyone involved) but they were not. I would love to say that it was an easy road to travel, but it was not. My days and healing time were a mix of almost complete bliss and sometimes utter despair.

On one particularly sad day five years ago, I ventured into the same restaurant that I drove by yesterday to order some take-out food. As I was ready to pay for my meal, the clerk gazed at me, and with a Spanish accent, said, “It’s okay; you don’t pay – my gift to you.”  I remember the look of bewilderment on his face as he slowly and compassionately mouthed these words to me, and quite frankly, I was shocked not only by the generosity of this man but by the way he looked at me. I can only surmise that the look of astonishment on his face was because my spirit and my appearance must have looked and felt like I had just been hit by a truck running amuck. This kind gesture from this man was perhaps something he did regularly, but his actions touched me and snapped me into reality! That moment was my turning point. It was the moment when I said to myself, “It is time.” It was time to stop wallowing; it was time to start trusting, to release my pain, to forgive, to allow goodness to come to my life. It was time to allow my spirit within that was squelched by all the years of an abusive marriage to now live.  It was time to let go and let God flow. It was time.

From that moment forward, as each day passed, I became closer and closer to discovering who I really was and what truly made my spirit come alive. I allowed healing to take place by allowing the tears to flow, by choosing to forgive, by letting go of the anger, and by embracing the changes (all good) that would come. I learned to love myself holistically – emotionally, physically and spiritually. I learned to be brave. I learned to let go of fear. I learned to step out in faith.  I learned to make decisions that were in line with who I was and what I wanted in my life. I would eventually forget the man at the restaurant – the catalyst that begun my journey into complete healing. As days turned to months, and the months turned to years, I was to discover all the beauty and healing that life has to offer!  I learned that all things can be changed and healed with hope and courage.

Perhaps yesterday’s drive was a sober reminder of what I experienced years ago for the sole purpose of reminding me of how incredible the journey of life truly is when we allow healing to take place. It was a reminder to never fear change but to embrace all its gifts. Whenever I am tempted to lose hope, I look back to five years ago. Whenever, I think about giving up on myself, I think about what happened five years ago. Whenever, I am tempted to think that I can’t, I remember how far I have come. Whenever I falsely think, “Give it up, Vilma; you can’t do it,” I think about that moment in that restaurant.

What is the turning point in your life? Everyone has one (or two). Have you allowed healing to take place in your life, or are you still wrapped up in fear, anger, pain and self-inflicted misery? Why not point yourself towards the ever-present love that, if you allow it, will change you from the inside out and propel you into the confident, healthy and vibrant person you are meant to be?  The choice is yours. Choose to turn and point yourself in the direction of abundant life.

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

Copyright, 2013, Vilma Reynoso


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Strolling to the Sounds of Grief

Washington Park, Denver, CO

Today is Thursday, March 07, 2013, and I had the long-awaited pleasure of spending this day all by myself. Today is also the anniversary of my mother’s death. She died thirty two years ago at the young age of 47. So, today, I suppose I am grieving this loss, like I do every year.

I decided to take a walk at one of my favorite Denver parks today and then spend some time at one of my best “thinking” coffee/tea shops afterwards and write. It is a beautiful, somewhat cloudy day in Denver, and I could not help but ponder what my life would have been like if my mother had not died so long ago. That day changed my life; it left a mark in me that nothing else will touch. It was not until years and years later, however, that I would realize how much of a mark it made, and what I would do with it.

But, this blog is not about that.

I truly believe the loss of a loved one or the loss of a relationship could be a very traumatic event. There is no getting around it. It happens sometimes unexpectedly (as in my case), and we are left to pick up the pieces. We are left to reconcile the missing piece that is now a gigantic void in our lives. How does one manage to do this without completely losing it or becoming depressed? What can fill that void?

Experts claim there are five stages of grief and loss:

  1. Denial and Isolation:  We do not want to accept the loss because it is too emotionally overwhelming. This is a defensive mechanism and is temporary.
  2. Anger:  Once we acknowledge what happened, we are overwhelmed with emotion. We then become angry that the loss occurred. This is normal. We might even blame others for what happened or for what we are feeling.
  3. Bargaining:  This stage of grief is when we start asking the question, “what if?” “What if I had …?” This is also a defense mechanism in hopes of averting the impending pain associated with grieving.
  4. Depression:  We now feel sadness and regret during this stage. And, we start to incorporate the reality of our loss into our lives. We might spend time alone during this stage trying to make sense of the loss.
  5. Acceptance: The last phase is marked by calm and solace but not necessarily happiness.  We have learned to accept what has happened. The goal is to reach this stage in order for healing to take place. Some of us tragically do not make it to this stage.

 

As I strolled through the park today, I noticed the lifeless, faded tree branches just waiting for their leaves to come to life with spring around the corner. These were very old trees with thick trunks and wondrous when their leaves are in full bloom. Some were poised around a small and serene lake. Some were standing tall in the distance. All of them, however, were barren and ready for a change and waiting for spring. I noticed, too, that even though they were all different, there was a “sameness” about them that made them more special to me as I walked.  I then realized the trees were like me and you when we grieve. When we grieve, we are mourning a loss; we spend our time in “winter” – in emotional and perhaps physical turmoil; we feel and are left barren like the trees in dead of winter; we experience many “storms” as we try to come to terms with our loss; we are left waiting for our “spring” to bring us back to life.

I believe for each one of us there is a different grieving process, but like the trees, we are also similar beings: we all need to release our emotions that stem from the loss we are experiencing.  If you have recently lost someone you loved, via death or the loss of a relationship, you are entitled to take the time to grieve. There is no way around grieving but to experience the process. It is also a highly personal endeavor; there is no right or wrong way to grieve.  What keeps us from healing faster and thus entering spring, is not allowing ourselves to cry, to scream, to let go of our bottled emotions. When our pain is not released, we continue to reside in “winter” and do not allow the spring to make us new. If you are stuck in winter, I encourage you to let go and let spring take over. You are worth it!

Every year of mourning the loss of my greatest influence, my mother, is different for me. Some years are more like winter and some are more like the small beginnings of spring. Today, I am finding myself in a contemplative mood thinking about what Mom meant to me and how that devastating loss has heightened my personal awareness about so many aspects of life and of how the experience has changed me. And, I feel that it is all good. I feel spring.

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

Copyright, 2013, Vilma Reynoso