Why Can’t I?

By: Gabriela Yareliz

I felt triggered today, and a bit more emotional than usual. There are days, sometimes, that remind us of how cruel and unconventional life has been. It happens.

It was one of those days. I know, not super inspiring, but I am being real. You haven’t felt that way? I cried it out of my system. Don’t worry. Crying is such an amazing cleanse. We all have those days where we feel like we are still in the place where the bus to hell dropped us off. Today was mine.

And then, unexpectedly at the end of the day, I saw the lyrics to this song printed in my handwriting on the side of a bag that I made with my best friend in junior high. We wrote all over this vinyl tote, with Sharpie. The lyrics to this song were that important to my junior high self. This was before my parents’ divorce, before I moved across the country, and before my dad and I didn’t talk for almost a decade. Before childhood was essentially over. I was still a kid with stars in her eyes. This was probably one of the last things I loved as a true kid, along with the Hilary Duff Metamorphosis CD. Ha.

I played this song tonight after not hearing it for years, and it’s like the world stopped. I felt like I was 12. It was the time before everything was so hard, before the trauma and baggage. Me. Just me. The essence of me. It brought the biggest smile to my face. It was me, little me, who has somehow survived it all, and she was smiling. I made it. I am still here. And I still like Liz Phair.

What reminds you of those carefree days? Listen to it. This isn’t about nostalgia, it’s about remembering the essence of you. Just smile. And never forget that you survived; you thrived; and you are still standing.

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Autumnal Asks

Doing this fun tag from the fabulous Tumblr platform. It’s making the rounds, and it’s a rainy, cozy, autumn Sunday. So, why not? Let’s do it.

[Image via @kendalljenner]

 

lantern – how did you meet your best friend? What were your first impressions of each other?

High school. She sat behind me in English class. I thought she was loquacious and always eating (accurate :)) She would make fun of this weird blue camouflage Old Navy bag I would use as a lunch box. Not sure what she thought of me at first, but she is genuine. You never have to wonder too long what she is thinking. She made me live adventurously. You know, she encouraged me to eat the cookies (I have always been pretty health conscious, so this is about as wild as I got).

frost – if you could give some advice to your younger self, what would you say?

You are human. Don’t forget that.

maple – is there a hobby / skill that you’ve always wanted to try but never did?

Cutting hair. (Other than the tragedies I did to my own bangs).

harvest – what fictional character do you most identify with? Why?

Sira Quiroga, from the book El Tiempo Entre Costuras (The Time in Between), also made into a series for Antena3. She was stronger than she gave herself credit for. She is based on a real person, and she lived in one of the most difficult periods of our history. She did it with grace, boldness, principle and passion. Not sure if I am like her, but I want to be like her.

fireside – if you had your dream wardrobe, what would it look like?

I am happy with my wardrobe. I am a simple person. I gladly wear and style anything someone gifts me. I wear navy a lot. I am a big fan of the Sézane/ & Other Stories aesthetic.

cider – a food that you disliked as a child but now enjoy?

Mushrooms

amber – share an unpopular opinion that you may have.

Unsure of what exactly I believe in that is an unpopular opinion. Other’s opinions don’t change the opinions I hold that are rooted in truth and principle.

fog – how well do you think you’d do in a zombie apocalypse scenario?

Excellent. *rolling the eyes* I am small and I can run fast and climb things. Being short is excellent training.

jack-o-lantern – if you could look like any celebrity, who would you choose?

No one. I am happy being me.

spice – have you ever encountered a house that you believed to be haunted?

Not personally. Maybe a plant nursery, though.

orchard – share one thing that you’d like to happen this autumn.

Apple picking, for sure.

crow – which school subject do you wish you had an aptitude for?

I wish I could do math faster and in my head.

bonfire – describe your dream house.

Simple, uncluttered, old world charm, filled with lots of books, plants, and love.

cinnamon – if you had to live in a time period different than the present, which would you choose and where?

1904 in the Hudson Valley in NY. I want to be Samantha from American Girl. *grin*

cobweb – (if you’ve graduated) do you miss high school?

I miss the beautiful people. Things were certainly more simple.

cranberry – what’s one physical feature that you get complimented on?

My smile.

maize – share the weirdest encounter you’ve had with a stranger on the street.

Too many. I live in NYC.

quilt – how do you take your tea (or coffee)?

Straight. No sugar.

pumpkin – do you think that humans are inherently good or bad?

Inherently sinful. Anything good in us is a reflection of God in us.

moonlit – are you a neat or messy person? Is your room / house orderly?

Pretty orderly. I like to clean. I am Monica Geller, minus her crazy closet.

flannel – have you ever gone on a bad date?

Sure. The guy was interviewing me and asking me resume questions. Weird.

cocoa – if you could have any type of hair, what colour and cut would you have?

I like my hair, I just need to figure some things out regarding making it look a bit better. I am still learning.

ghost – is there someone that you miss having in your life?

I had a closer friendship with a childhood friend. I miss her, but times change, life changes, and we do what we can with what we have!

If you want to share, answer a question or two from the tag in the comments!

xx

Next Level

If you want to go to that next level, cut out negative sh**.” Gary Vaynerchuk

That means leaving behind negative

people

energy

conversations

forces

projections

and

excuses

complaints

It adds nothing and subtracts everything.

Remember, you find what you are looking for.

-GY

The Roots of Relational Failure and Success

By: Gabriela Yareliz

I really believe that a lot of healing comes from reframing things. And I don’t mean reframing things to look better than they actually were, but I mean reframing things so we can see what actually happened. Often, when we remove ourselves from the lens, we see things more clearly, and we can deal with the hurt in our souls a lot better. When we see what the truth and root of the matter is, a lot of things can make sense.

I have been talking a lot about accountability, values and relationships recently, which is something society at large lacks so much of. (Politics seems to provoke these topics). They affect everything, especially our relationships with others.

One of the greatest things we can do for ourselves is be self-aware and work on our own baggage and characters and how it affects how we relate to others. I have caught myself triggered or going down a line of reasoning that I later reflect on, and I realize my reaction didn’t match a situation as much as it matched a fear deeply entrenched in me from a past hurt.

When I come to these realizations, I often apologize after spending time in quiet reflection and prayer thinking about how I can heal that, especially when I am triggered or provoked by attitudes or words I can’t control. The truth is my own reactions are what are in my control, and I take full responsibility for that.

Aren’t relationships rods that poke us, and when they hit a bruise, we whimper from the pain? Sometimes, I have felt foolish, not for my initial reaction but for being self-aware about it. Is it stupid to call yourself out on your own behavior that you are striving so hard to fix and begging God to transform? Does it sound too I-am-my-own-therapist?

I felt sort of foolish for a good day or two this week after calling myself out on something, and it’s a familiar feeling I have felt when I have discerned my own flaws and spoken about that discernment. My feeling of foolishness or perhaps shame went away when I heard the quote below, and while the situation doesn’t apply to me and it may not apply to you (the infidelity she speaks of), the underlying principle and talk about baggage applies to all:

“To my queens out there who have been cheated on by their men— it’s not your fault. Stop making it your fault. To my kings out there that have been cheated on by their women, stop making it your fault. Yes, women cheat, too. Now, here is the thing— sex is one of the strongest forces in the universe that we have to deal with.

This is about self-mastery. It’s not even about what is going on in the relationship. This is about self-mastery. Ok, so if you think just because somebody says they love you or you think just because they want to be in a relationship with you that that’s gonna dissolve all of their traumas they come with, you know what I am saying, or that they are gonna know how to deal with their traumas, nah. People are going to mess up.

So here is the thing— make sure you are with someone who is interested in mastering themselves and everything they come with. I know that there is a lot of pain that comes from infidelity, but relationships are a spiritual endeavor. Just make sure you are with someone who is worth it.” Jada Pinkett Smith

Relationships aren’t about being with someone who is perfect, but being with someone who is constantly trying to master themselves.” Julianne Hough

So, there it is. I realized that my desire to master myself and all I carry in me, it isn’t foolish, even if it is seen as strange or treated with a certain detachment by others, and even if I repeat the mistake on my way to healing the hurt that serves as the root. In fact, that is what we are all supposed to be doing.

I agree that relationships are a spiritual endeavor. They fail because of spiritual things, like: lack of values and lack of temperance (self-control) and not caring. They fail because of all of these things, which means it may be logical to think they succeed when we do the opposite. They succeed when we have values, when we have self-control, and when we care. Most importantly, a thing to remember about spiritual endeavors is that it starts with ourselves, not with anyone else.

What needs a reframe in your mind? What is the root of your matter?

New Love

By: Gabriela Yareliz

Finding love is such a mindf***, as they say. Relationships are hard work, but I think the hardest thing of all that determines the rest of the story is finding that person. Who. People come together, oftentimes, for shallow reasons, (not always). But regardless of why or how they come together, the following is always true: whether it lasts rests on character.

I recently saw in the news that Vincent Cassel (51) wed Tina Kunakey (21). (We will not discuss the age gap– that is another post for another day).

I was surprised. I had been disconnected from monsieur Cassel, and I hadn’t seen him with anyone other than his ex-wife, a favorite icon of mine who has made many appearances on this blog, Monica Bellucci. (Seen above, and yes, I still want to age as well as her).

It has always fascinated me how, in human stories, we gather strength and try again. Whether it’s in love, life– anything. We can rise from anything and try again. We can be at the lowest low, and a year later, be continents away from where we started (figuratively and literally).

No matter what your story is, it’s important to value the new starts in life. It shouldn’t be cheapened or treated as unimportant. It shouldn’t be clouded by the past. It should be embraced. If you are going to be happy, 1) Get up; 2) Make sure you never settle; 3) Celebrate the new, well; 4) Be happy.

In this life, many shuffle along numb, defeated and distracted. But not you, no. Rise again. Wear that lavender shirt. (I see you, Cassel). Smile. When you get that second chance, show the world what it means to live.

An August Photo Diary

By: Gabriela Yareliz

Hello, friends. Here we are. At the end of another month. It has been one of a lot of growth for me, I feel. One of those months where you feel the way gum looks when you lift up your shoe, and it is stretched into little strings. Expanded.

Here are some of the things that have been on my mind:

Change

“If you are not changing yourself, then you are not intelligent.” Benjamin P. Hardy

I was talking to a friend who was telling me that they were talking to another friend who has known me since college, and that apparently, I have changed. (Confusing much?)

At first, I was like, I really haven’t changed. Maybe we always see ourselves as stagnant boring little creatures, who run on a hamster wheel, but actually, then I realized I have changed. I have changed a bunch. I have lived through so much since then, and grown, absorbed and stretched. And growth is always characterized as a positive thing (unless it’s a bad medical thing), but change often has a foreboding and negative connotation that looms over it. Sometimes, it means unknown.

If we aren’t changing, we aren’t growing. Albert Einstein once said that “the measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”

I was reading a piece by the brilliant Benjamin P. Hardy, who asked, “What have been the main 10 events in your life, and what impact did they have on you?” (Something like that). I found this to be interesting. It’s so important to always be moving forward and never back.

Sometimes, it’s easier to see how others have changed. But, it’s worth pausing at times, and realizing how much we have changed. It’s also important to think of the ways in which we desire to change.

Next, it’s so important to remember that, as Mr. Hardy explains, we aren’t kind people who then do unkind things. No. Actually, whether we are kind people is determined in our actions. If we repeatedly do unkind and selfish things, guess what, we aren’t kind. We are what we do and how we behave. Sometimes, we deceive ourselves, and we think we are kind or tolerant or smart, yet our behaviors show the exact opposite.

It’s such a reminder that as we analyze who we are and who we want to be, we should not just be reflecting on our own lofty ideals that we may agree with but on our actual behavior. Our behavior is the thing that truly reflects what is in our character.

“Your personality doesn’t shape who you are. Your behaviors shape who you are.” Benjamin P. Hardy

“The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.” Paulo Coelho

Responsibility

“You can’t be passive. You must be innovative, creative, and generous. You’ve got to work a few years like few people will, so you can spend the rest of your life like few people can.” Benjamin P. Hardy

It’s one of those seasons where I feel I have my head down, and I am working on a bunch of stuff that is really important to me. It’s a season of setting up foundations. It doesn’t mean you adopt a workaholic around-the-clock lifestyle. No, even in these seasons, we need balance. My point is that sometimes we need those seasons because it means we are taking responsibility for our lives.

It’s so important to take responsibility for the life you want because at the end of the day, you are the only one responsible. If you want to establish a savings account, you need to save, and that may mean sacrifices. If you want to start a business, that may mean putting in extra hours, at first. If you want to get married, then make sure you have something to bring to the table.

So many times, people have a tendency to blame others for what is happening, when so many of their own choices have landed them there. It’s important to remember that others’ circumstances and resources are different than your own perhaps, and that each person is responsible not only for their present but for their future.

If you want certain things, you have to work for them. Because at the end of the day, a prince may will not ride in to save you, your parents won’t bail you out or help (nor do they have to), and no one will put in the hours for you.

If you want something, you work for it. If others don’t agree or they want certain things out of you that you simply can’t give at the moment, well, that’s too bad. So often, everyone lives as they please but they want everyone else to fit into their world and schedule and ideas as to how things should be done. Don’t be guilted into fitting into someone else’s agenda, even if there is nothing wrong with it, at face value. My point is work for what you want and do what you have to do. Everyone wants something, but you should also have what you want (and get it through hard work). So, work for it. You are the only one responsible to make it happen. It’s usually when we allow others to make decisions for us or make us fit into where we don’t want to be that we start blaming others. Sadly (and fortunately), it doesn’t work that way; you have a voice. It’s always your choice.

Which leads to…

Detachment and Self-care

It’s important to respect yourself and take care of yourself. Take it from someone who works in a field where people always need something out of you. Take time to do what you want to do. Take time to rest. Take time to eat, uninterrupted. Take time to walk outside. Key words: take the time.

Actions and Dreams

“The greatest dreams are always unrealistic.” Will Smith

Set concrete goals and work toward them. Invest in them. Recently, I have invested time and resources in the ministry Modern Witnesses. It continues to grow into a beautiful community, and its beautiful because of the women in it.

I am wrapping up a book, etc., etc. Everyone has a dream. I have a list, you have your own list. Set the bar high. Tell others (accountability). Set a deadline. Put in the work.

Always have the high expectation. People who tell you not to expect much set themselves up for mediocrity and lack of accountability. People don’t like being held accountable (look at politics and organizational leadership). But, ahhhh the things that would change were people held to high expectations. Some would lose their positions altogether.

“Don’t join an easy crowd; you won’t grow. Go where the expectations and the demands to perform are high.” Jim Rohn

Investing in your dreams is a way in which you invest in yourself. If you feel stagnant, what is something you could add into your life that would feed your creativity and contribute to what you give to the world?

Invest in Others

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” Winston S. Churchill

Lastly, I always think that our purpose in life is to be reflections of God Himself. That means serving others. This isn’t a call to wildly fill up your schedule (refer back to ‘detachment and self-care’). It’s a call to always remember that “You can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving.” (John Wooden quote).

“In the end, we are only whom we have empowered.” Dan Sullivan

Conclusion

So that is what has been floating in this brain of mine. I know so many of you have written to me regarding dreams and business plans you have. I just wanted to share my own thoughts and how I have been growing in the past month. These aren’t things I have mastered, but they are things I want and need in my life. I am putting in the work. I truly believe that anything apart from that is dysfunction. As you get older, and start forming your world, it’s so important to make sure it’s the world and purpose God wants you focused on. And if it is, green light and go. He will empower you and continue teaching you along the way.

Everything starts with us and who we are. If our behavior aligns with the character we want, our desires, execution and contribution will, too.

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony.” Mahatma Gandhi

A July Photo Diary

By: Gabriela Yareliz

Warm New York summer rain threatens my unspoken plan.

The rain is soft and glittery. It should be bottled up and sold as perfume.

It paints the sky grey and paints us wet.

In my search of the skyline for a perfect rooftop, I spot the flamingo tree. It’s sassy in its performance and color. Subtle, unassuming, with a hint of panache.

I pass Pig Beach, and fortunately for them, I am a vegetarian. A wedding dances on nearby, in a glowing room, with a couple of antisocial guests standing out in the rain. I can hear their silent prayers begging God to go unnoticed. As the guests plan their exit strategy—

I find a bathroom outside with a tree in a tub and a sink with some shrubs.

I pass a car that can take me to another time. It’s locked.

I find some fish whose time has expired. They are out in the open. I wonder if they were friends.

And then, as the sky turns orange, I find the view. There’s nothing like getting lost to find something better than what you were looking for.

As I wander, I find my little friends have found a rooftop of their own.

The rain over the city has gone, and now all that is left is the breeze over the Gowanus.