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December Book Review: The Choice: Embracing the Possible by Edith Eva Eger

A stunning, powerful, beautifully-written memoir of her life as a Jewish child in Hungary, as a holocaust prisoner at Auschwitz, and the years of recovery thereafter, Edith Eva Eger’s, The Choice: Embrace the Possible, left me speechless. Through her incredible story, Eger shows us how to move from a victim, to a survivor, and then to an empowered person. She demonstrates how this is done by the power of choice. If there is anyone who has the credibility to teach others how to truly thrive after enduring horrific experiences, it is this amazing woman!

As a holocaust survivor with most of her imprisonment at Auschwitz, Edith tells her story with first-rate prose, weaving her past with her present and taking the reader on an inspiring journey. Her book is divided into four major sections. She talks about her childhood and imprisonment as a teenager, her escape, her recovery, and lastly, her final healing which was not fully complete until she revisited Auschwitz decades later. It was then that she turned tragedy into triumph. Eger’s book covers how she watched her mother march to her death in the gas chamber; details her daily torture and starvation; explains how she and her sister, Magda, inspired each other to survive yet another, torturous day; covers how she was transferred to the Mauthausen and Gunskirchen camps in Austria; and finally, her rescue from a heap of dying bodies by U.S. soldiers.  This is the kind of book that gives you the chills, makes you gasp, makes you feel a multitude of emotions, and entices you to close it for a moment, put it down, and inevitably stare at the wall in awe.

In addition to her imprisonment, Edith explains how she kept her experiences in the concentration camp to herself for most of her adult life, until she realized she could not keep her secret any longer, if she wanted to heal from her past. As a clinical therapist, she explains how some of her clients were the catalyst in helping her eventually discover why she feared verbalizing her experiences during WWII. The Choice: Embrace the Possible is not only a story about a holocaust survivor, but also a story of hope, of courage, of forgiveness, of personal healing, and of how to escape the prison in our own minds.

I highly recommend The Choice: Embrace the Possible by Edith Eva Eger to those interested in learning about the Holocaust from the perspective of a thriving survivor, to those who are history or WWII buffs, or to those who want to read a beautiful, very inspiring story. I could not put this book down, and I definitely learned a lot.

A bit about the author, Dr. Edith Eva Eger:Dicu-e1467064906674

Dr. Edith Eva Eger holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and maintains a thriving practice in La Jolla, California. She also holds a faculty appointment at the University of California, San Diego. She serves as the consultant for the U.S. Army and Navy in resiliency training and the treatment of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Edith is eighty-nine years old, a dancer, an inspiring speaker, and ends her talks with a high ballet kick (a metaphor for the human spirit, her love of ballet, and the power of choice).

To learn more about Dr. Edith Eva Eger, follow her Facebook Page. To purchase a copy of The Choice: Embrace the Possible by Edith Eva Eger, visit Amazon.

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com

 

 

 


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August Book Review:  Heart Thoughts: A Treasury of Inner Wisdom by Louise Hay

There is always time for inspiration!

As a tribute to the late Louise Hay (Oct 8, 1926-Aug 30, 2017), I’ve decided to review one of her many books, Heart Thoughts: A Treasury of Inner Wisdom, in hopes of motivating you to improve your thinking.

Louise Hay’s Heart Thoughts: A Treasury of Inner Wisdom is a book of inspirational “affirmations” to help us live healthier and happier lives. Affirmations are conscious or unconscious statements of truth we believe about ourselves. These “truth” statements create our moments, our days, and our lives, so it is important to look within and analyze what we believe. In addition to affirmations, Louise uses meditations, spiritual treatments, and advice to help us improve or change our thinking. She divides her book by themes such as relationships, self-love, money, career, wisdom, and health, for example. You can pick up the book and start reading Hay’s wisdom at any chapter and find incredible insights. It is a good book to have on your nightstand for daily or nightly encouragement.

I know some people might find affirmations a bit silly and useless (I know I did when I had first heard of them!), but I encourage you to give them a try. After reading Louise’s book, I decided to try them myself. I discovered that telling myself something new and positive did, in fact, change the course of my day and lifted my spirits. As a person who has recovered from a very negative and difficult childhood, Louise Hay’s affirmations have helped me to see myself differently and change some destructive, long-held, subconscious beliefs. Incorporating Hay’s affirmations literally was a life-changer for me!

Below are some examples of affirmations found on LouiseHay.com.

  1. It’s only a thought, and a thought can be changed.
  2. The point of power is always in the present moment.
  3. Every thought we think is creating our future.
  4. I am in the process of positive change.
  5. I now go beyond other people’s fears and limitations.
  6. It is safe to look within.
  7. I forgive myself and set myself free.
  8. As I say yes to life, life says yes to me.

I highly recommend Heart Thoughts: A Treasury of Inner Wisdom by Louise Hay to anyone who seems to be stuck in negative thinking patterns, those who do not love or accept themselves, or anyone who is seeking more joy in their lives.

A bit about the author, Louise Hay:

Louise Hay

Louise Hay was an internationally renowned lecturer, metaphysical teacher and best-selling author of many books, including Heal Your Body from A to Z and Empowering Women. Her books have been translated into twenty nine languages in thirty five countries throughout the world. Since the beginning of her career as a Science of Mind minister in 1981, she has assisted millions of people in discovering the full potential of their own creative power to heal and transform. Louise Hay was also the founder of Hay House Inc., a self-publishing company that distributes books, audios and videos that contribute to personal healing and the healing of our planet. She passed away on Aug 30, 2017, at the age of ninety.

To learn more about Louise Hay or to purchase Heart Thoughts: A Treasury of Inner Wisdom, visit her website, LouiseHay.com.

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com


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A Short Tribute to Louise Hay

What do you say about a woman whose books saved your life? There are no words but a heart full of gratitude and awe.

There are few people who cross our paths and truly inspire us so profoundly that we are never the same again. These people are sometimes one in a million, and when they appear in our lives, we never forget them.  For me, one of those people was Louise Hay, who passed away in her sleep at the age of ninety yesterday, August 30, 2017.

Interestingly, yesterday morning I was writing a book review on one of Louise’s many life-changing books, You Can Heal Your Life. After publishing the blog, I immediately discovered she had passed away at the same time that I was writing about her. I almost fell off my chair!

This morning, I decided to plant a special rose bush in my backyard in memory of Louise, who loved to spend time in her jaw-dropping garden in San Diego, California. It is how I choose to mourn the loss of such a beautiful person and my way of remembering her.20170831_095852

Dear Louise, if you can hear me somehow (I hope you can, but no one really knows),

This rose bush I planted today is for you. It is a reminder every time I see it grow and flourish with gorgeous roses in my garden of how you saved my life with your wisdom, your kindness, your gentleness, and your inspiring words. Thank you for writing your books! You have helped millions improve their lives. To say that the world is a better place because you were part of it is such an understatement. Thank you, Louise Hay, for having the courage to rise above what happened to you, to become an inspirational teacher, a friend to so many, and a leader for all people. Please know that I have named my rose bush “Louise” to remind me of you and your inner beauty, strength, growth, courage, and gentleness.  Love you always. Rest in peace, wise soul.

To learn about Louise Hay and how she changed the world, visit HayHouse.com.

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com

 


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Heed the Big, Blue House

Do you ever wonder what is behind the front doors of the houses you see in your neighborhood? Do you ever wish you could take a peek? Do you ask yourself, “Who lives there? What is their story?”

I do. Many times.

I live near a serene, beautiful walking path that I frequent often. There, I find deer, rabbits, birds, insects and worms (and sometimes snakes) enjoying their small, undisturbed plot of land. On the way to this path, I always stroll past a beautiful and big, blue house.  Now, my neighborhood is not unique; every house is made from the same, cookie-cutter, corporate mold, even though each house has a distinct aura about them, of course. The big, blue house is different. It stands out. My eye is always on it, each and every time I pass by.

The big, blue house is immaculate. When I say, immaculate, I mean utterly without a fault. The paint is crisp, sky blue, almost as if it is touched up every day (it isn’t, of course). The trim on the house is a simple shade of white without a single speck of dirt. As a matter of fact, there is not a smidgen of dirt anywhere on the outside of that house – no oil in the driveway, no cracks in the pavement, no leaves blowing anywhere in the vicinity. The landscaping is jaw-dropping – a variety of beautiful trees, red and pink rose bushes, lovely irises and dahlias, sparkling, healthy, perfectly-trimmed (definitely real), green grass that inspires me to knock on their door and ask what kind of manure they use! In the spring and summer, the front porch is decorated with large, gorgeous hanging plants and a lovely, pleasant wind chime like a harp that seems to make peaceful, beautiful music (it makes me want to sit on the porch, but I dare not). The big, blue house should be on the front page of Home Magazine, every month. There is nothing out of place – not even a blade of grass.

There is no doubt in my mind that someone is working very hard keeping this house “up to par,” and I do wonder what the inside of that house looks like. Is it as immaculate on the inside as it is on the outside? Do the people within those walls take the same care inside as they do outside? Do they care for themselves as well as they do their house? I will probably never know the answer to those questions, but I do know how it makes me feel when I walk by the big, blue house. I can’t help but think about how we, as humans, focus on what we see and not what might exist behind or beyond appearances. I determined that the reason I am so mesmerized by the blue house is because I realize the house is a metaphor. It is a reminder of the human condition: we assume it is greener on the other side (in someone else’s life) by outward appearance.  We assume the other person must have an easy life, or the person at work must have not suffered like we have. Or, we assume, they have it all together and have perfect lives. Things might appear immaculate, but are they really?

May I encourage you to look beyond the appearance of the big, blue house? You see, deep down, we are all the same: we all seek happiness and avoid pain; we all want love, acceptance and intimacy; we all want to live joyful lives and feel safe. Most importantly, we all share pain of some sort, one or two experiences that are the catalyst that shaped our lives for the better or for the worse. We are people. We are human, and there is more to us than how we appear to each other. May I encourage you to look at the people in your life – at work, at home or in the neighborhood – with a new, compassionate love? It does not matter what their color, race, nationality, sex, class, religious or political affiliation is. They have a story just like you do, and it’s those stories (heart-felt life experiences) that help us make much needed, genuine connections and bridge differences.

It seems that people today are afraid of each other’s differences and make many unfounded assumptions. Social media is full of people determining who is right, who is wrong, who is a troll, who is a friend, who is a conspiracy theorist, and who is a jerk. We make generalizations and believe these determinations without merit or facts. I have fallen into this trap as well and have made wrong assumptions.  Although it is normal to make an assessment of someone by first appearance (even on social media), the truth is we do not know much about them unless we see beyond their “big, blue house.”  Let’s rise above this. Let’s take a step back and attempt to see the whole picture. May I encourage you to try to empathize and understand people from their perspective, even if you might not agree with them? Can I inspire you to look beyond their house, what they show to the world?

So today, as you go about your business and find people around you, take the time to ask, or simply do not assume. It will make the world less BLUE and more BIG.

© 2017, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com

 


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Scrapbooking: How it Changed my Life and Lifted the Pain

Scrapbooks

I am a scrapbooking junkie. I admit it.

One of my favorite things to do is to put together albums of photographs of the years I have lived. This is an activity that when done, it feels like time stops. 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. 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, 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. Eager to begin, I immediately bought an album. The first one 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 would 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 forty-five minutes late! I remembered the Science and French clubs 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, was romantic, spirited and adventurous. I was more than I had imagined, and I felt alive back then. Most importantly, through this creative process, I discovered what kind of life made me happiest, 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 handle all my other ailments and not live in denial anymore. Discovering this creative endeavor was the catalyst that began my process of authentic emotional, mental, and physical healing 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 her creative bliss. I often ponder what would have happened to me if I had not inconspicuously stumbled upon scrapbooking. Humbling thought.

Today, I continue to scrapbook because I love the process of putting together albums of my experiences (the joyful times and even 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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May Book Review: The Big Tiny: A Build-it-Myself Memoir by Dee Williams

In the last decade, the Tiny House Movement has grown tremendously. More and more people are downsizing and embracing the simple yet rich life of minimalist living. Building their very own tiny house on their own land or in tiny house communities, people of all ages are finding unexpected gifts and freedom from living in these very small spaces.  According to psychologists, the motivation behind the tiny house movement is the result of the ideals of environmental consciousness, self-sufficiency, and the desire for an adventurous life (all of which I can relate to). Dee Williams, author of The Big Tiny: A Build-it-Myself Memoir, is one of the pioneers of this movement. “I found a certain bigness in my small house-a sense of largeness, freedom and happiness that comes from when you realize there is no place else you’d rather be,” writes Williams.

In The Big Tiny: A Build-it-Myself Memoir, Williams details how she went from living in a three-bedroom bungalow with a detached garage, a fireplace, and gas heat to making the decision to build, sustain and live in an eight-four square foot (Yes, 84 square feet!) minuscule house! This experience and the results of her endeavor are nothing less than exhilarating, frightening, completely jaw-dropping and inspiring. Dee details her plans, explains her frustrations and fears, and takes the reader on her courageous journey in her memoir. I enjoyed her poignant, honest, and hilarious prose; furthermore,  an environmentalist myself, I was encouraged to look at my own carbon footprint and consider tiny house living myself.

Having recently visited the Tiny House Jamboree in Colorado Springs, a three-day exhibition of tiny houses and information with the mission of motivating the public to live their passions through simplifying their lives and discovering what truly matters, I was amazed and inspired by the various types of tiny houses available for purchase at any level of the building process. Below is a picture of a “bigger” tiny house that I discovered at the jamboree. Tiny houses come in all sizes, shapes, and styles to fit any taste or budget. Truly, they are very functional and beautiful!

Tiny House Living

I highly recommend The Big Tiny: A Build-it-Myself Memoir by Dee Williams to anyone who even has a tiny interest or curiosity of what the Tiny House Movement is, and what it would be like to build and live in your own little house.  Her story and writing is very inspirational.

A bit about the author, Dee Williams:

Dee Williams Dee Williams is a builder, teacher, author, and occasional rabble-rouser. She is the founder of Portland Alternative Dwellings, a company centered on the principle that everyone can build the life they dream. In addition to helping people make the conscious decision to simplify their lives with tiny-house living, Dee has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the NBC Evening News, the New York Times, NPR, MSNBC, and Time Magazine. Dee lives in Olympia, Washington, in her eight-four square foot tiny house, the magical place she calls, “home.”

To learn more about Dee Williams and the Tiny House Movement, or to purchase The Big Tiny: A Build-it-Myself Memoir, visit: PADtinyhouses.com.

© 2016, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com.

 


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What I Learned About Life From My Two Cats; Yes, From My Two Cats

Two Cats

I have two awesome cats. It’s not what you think.

Yes, I love them both; one is a beautiful Somali-type and the other is a gorgeous grey and white mix. Both are humorous, sensitive, affectionate, loving, fantastic, and I love them both equally. They have similar, laid-back personalities, but there is one part of the day (every day) that demonstrates clearly to me their innate differences: meal time! They are fed at the exact same time, but my grey and white guy, let’s call him “Tentative One,” thinks long and hard before he eats. He is hungry, and sometimes maybe famished, but he will ALWAYS wait and not eat immediately. My other cat, the “Little Lion,” a name she inherited since she looks just like miniature lion, immediately runs to her plate and gobbles up her food! She does not hesitate for one second. She knows it is coming and jumps at the chance to eat her portion.

So what is the big deal, you might ask? Well, the problem is that when Tentative is too tentative, Little Lion eats his share as well, and he is left with nothing to eat! Many times, I have to make sure she does not eat his food in addition to hers, and I have to nudge Tentative One to eat before she gets to his. Some of the time, he appreciates the nudging, and other times, he remains indifferent. I would say once or twice a week, Little Lion eats his food! Why does this happen consistently? Why doesn’t Tentative One learn that if he is tentative, he will miss out?

Like a cat waiting for his or her daily meals, the universe presents us with gifts every day. Some of us are hesitant to take what is presented while others jump at the chance. Why do we do this? All of us are guilty at being hesitant or of being too rash at times. While noticing the differences between my two cats, I realized that they still manage to get along with each other. There is a lot that we can learn from animals (at least from cats). When the universe presents something, we need to take it in faith. And, if we hesitate, someone else will snatch it – whatever it is. How many opportunities have I missed because I was the “tentative one?” Or, on the other hand, how many opportunities did I snatch too quickly and got burned because of my rash choices because I acted like Little Lion? It is easier said than done sometimes, but I prefer to be on the receiving end. Ideally, we should know when to jump and when it is best to think before diving in. However, I believe many times we think too much before taking action. I prefer to be like my Little Lion. She anticipates, she waits, she never begs, she does not fear, and when she sees it coming, she runs after it!

Now, I want to be crystal clear: I am not advocating stepping over anyone’s toes to get what you want or using any form of abuse to obtain your desires. I am simply advocating for all of us to learn a simple lesson: anticipate good things, know you will get them eventually, wait for them, and when they are presented, grab them. Many of us wait and then do not accept what is coming to us because we question whether we deserve it, or we think too long and hard about whether we should take it -whatever “it” is; and then, like Tentative One, we lose that opportunity that we desired and would have propelled our lives into a new, more exciting direction. Little Lion is courageous and she is the example we need to follow.

So today, let me encourage you to embrace your “little lion.” She is the part of you waiting to snatch that desire you have when it becomes available. Look around. Opportunities are everywhere. Make that commitment today to seize what comes to you so you can create the life you would love. Believe it. Seek it. Wait for it. And, finally, go for it.

© 2015, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.comInspiration for Abundant Living for all Beings from One Creative Being