There’s lots of wonder in the world – and a lot to share! That’s why we’re going to periodically ask guest contributors to offer their recommendations for weekend exploration.
Our first guest contributor is Brenda Nettles Riojas, a true multipotentialite who nurtures her own creativity and encourages others to explore their curiosity. Brenda currently serves as the Diocesan Relations Director for the Diocese of Brownsville, where she is the editor of The Valley Catholic newspaper and host of “Diocese Insight,” a weekly program. During her tenure, she has authored a book about the history of the Catholic Church in the Rio Grande Valley and organized pilgrimages to holy sites around the world, including the Holy Land, Italy, Vatican City, France, Spain and Mexico. The South Texas resident earned a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing through the University of New Orleans. Her first collection of Spanish poetry titled La Primera Voz Que Oí was published in 2009. She co-edited Writing to Be Heard / Escúchame: Voices From the Chicho with Alan Oak, which was released in 2011. A CantoMundo fellow, Brenda hosts “Corazón Bilingüe,” a weekly radio program that addresses the dynamics of language and culture and how it impacts writing. The wife and mother of two adult children also leads workshops on creativity. In 2012, Brenda launched a new initiative to train teens and young adults as mobile journalists. This training concentrates on the basic journalistic skills of storytelling, as well as the technical and creative aspects of photography. In 2013 Brenda was one of three women invited by the U.S. Consulate in Matamoros, Tamapulipas, Mexico to participate in a presentation about women in the arts crossing boundaries (Mujeres en el arte: Cruzando Fronteras). You can connect to Brenda through her blog or on Twitter.
Here are Brenda’s suggestions to explore this weekend:
Ushering in a new year sparks both nostalgia and anticipation. Personally I am ready for 2016 and the adventures that wait.
- As I reach the mid-century mark, I am learning that less is more. After falling prey to overindulgence and the trap of consumerism over the years, I started taking steps in December to purge the excess in my life to make room for what matters. I have a long road ahead of me. Thankfully, a wealth of ideas are available online. Pinterest is one of my favorites. Another favorite, apartmenttherapy.com, is promoting a “January Cure” offering daily tips to get organized “toward a cleaner, more organized and more peaceful home.”
- Also, I am learning more about Mari Kondo’s KonMari Method of organizing. This New Year weekend I am ordering her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. One of the first steps she recommends is to organize by category. I am particularly interested in her concept of keeping only items which “spark joy.”
- One area in my life that continues to spark joy is the art of storytelling, both on the creative side as a poet and on the practical as a journalist. Mobile phones facilitate this on multiple levels. Not to pick sides, but the IPhone has been compared to the Swiss Army knife for communications. Check out “The Painter of Jalouzi” that was filmed with the IPhone.
- On the subject of photography, I am inspired by the work of Reza Photography. I’d encourage you to check out some of his work.
- In the New Year, I pray we continue to look at ways for building peace in our world. This certainly begins in our own homes and communities. In 2015, I participated in several interfaith dialogues and events which help build understanding among people of different faiths. How fitting that I stumbled upon the novel People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. The historical fiction is based on an ancient manuscript, the Sarajevo Haggadah. This ancient manuscript remains as a sign of hope, as people of different faiths and cultures helped save and preserve this book, some to the point of risking their lives.