Before The World Knew Them

By: Gabriela Yareliz

Today, I was talking to a friend about how excited I am to read Unfinished by Priyanka Chopra Jonas. It brought to mind all the cross-over stars I knew about before they were famous and well known here in the U.S. That’s the thing, when you are steeped into other cultures, you are exposed to different cinemas and books, and sometimes, it’s just a matter of recognizing the talent that is in front of everyone. Here are some of the people I appreciated before it was mainstream to do so, in the U.S.

Image of Penelope Cruz via Tumblr

Penelope Cruz: Before the 2005 flop Sahara and 2001 Blow, I knew and was obsessed the darling of Spanish cinema. She is forever an icon, and her best films are in Spanish.

Sofia Vergara via

Sofia Vergara: I remember her when she was blonde and so so young on Spanish television. She often hosted tv shows. The U.S. got to know her as Gloria on Modern Family. She was the highest paid actress in the states for eight consecutive years. As a child, I would have never dreamed of seeing her in English tv.

Shakira via Pinterest

Shakira: Before she spoke English, I imitated her and had her cassette tape for the MTV Unplugged concert. She had bright red hair and belly dancing moves. I remember when I was in elementary school, and she released her first English album. A cross-over star was born. Wherever, whenever… we were meant to be together…

Monica Bellucci via Pinterest

Monica Bellucci: Most know her from the cameo in the Matrix, Mary Magdalene in The Passion of the Christ and the oldest (and most beautiful) Bond woman. Before this side of the ocean got to know her, she was already incredibly famous and well known for Malena, l’appartement, and How Much Do You Love Me? In my opinion, she is one of the most beautiful women in the world. Always was, always will be.

Marion Cotillard via Pinterest

Marion Cotillard: I think the U.S. really got to know her in Inception and Contagion, but I was copying her haircuts long before then. The 2003 Jeux D’enfants was it for me.

Eugenio Derbez via Pinterest

Eugenio Derbez: I used to watch him on late night comedy features on Univision. He made me laugh until my stomach hurt. People today known him from Instructions Not Included, How to Be a Latin Lover, and Dora and the Lost City of Gold.

Luis Fonsi via Revista Fama

Luis Fonsi: I liked Luis Fonsi and his music since I was like 10 (he was married to one of my favorite novela actresses, Adamari Lopez). What put him on the map for the world was the timeless hit, “Despacito.”

Priyanka Chopra via Blogspot

Priyanka Chopra: Before Quantico and her marriage to Nick Jonas, I had spent my teen years watching dozens of her films. She was my favorite Bollywood actress. This woman is a powerhouse. I wonder if her husband understands just how freaking amazing she is.

Mandy Moore in A Walk to Remember via Pinterest

Mandy Moore: I walked all the way to a CVS to buy her Teen Vogue cover, when I was 12. I loved her Cover album and thought she was one of the best actresses long before This is Us. I am glad she got out of her abusive marriage and she is back on the music/tv/movie scene. I always thought she was amazing, and she is showing the world just how awesome she is.

Image via Amazon

Federico Moccia: His books are being turned into a Netflix movie or series, a girl at a local book store told me. She recommended it to me. I smiled. I had read his books years ago. It’s because of his book that people put locks on bridges. Scusa Ma Ti Chiamo Amore will forever be one of my favorites of all time.

And speaking of Netflix…

Tahar Rahim and Leila Bekhti via Closer

Tahar Rahim: People are discovering him through Netflix’s The Serpent and the movie The Mauritanian. I discovered Rahim in my undergrad years when he first popped on the scene, a little more than a decade ago. He is a regular at the Cannes Film Festival, and his wife is one of my favorite French actresses, Leila Bekhti.

Image via LitReactor

Margaret Atwood: Before the world was obsessed with The Handmaid’s Tale on hulu, there was Cat’s Eye. Read it three times in high school.

I realized that my curiosity and love for culture and people has given me the gift of having a wide-net vision of the world from early on. I am grateful for that. I’ve gotten to enjoy like 10 times the talent others have been exposed to. The world is grand and ours to discover.

Who were you a fan of before everyone else loved them?

Sunday Girl: May 2, 2021

Image via Anine Bing

Thoughts and quotes swirling in my mind this week are below.


“I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice? Only words, words; to be led out to battle against other words.” C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces

These thoughts are from Part One in Prayer in the Night, by Tish Harrison Warren.

“In our deepest suffering, we do not simply want words to battle other words. We want things made right.” Tish Harrison Warren

“We have to decide right now whether or not God is good, because if we wait to determine that… we will always keep God on trial.” Tish Harrison Warren

“Mysteriously, God does not take away our vulnerability. He enters into it.” Tish Harrison Warren

“The hope God offers us is this: he will keep close to us, even in darkness, in doubt, in fear and vulnerability. He does not promise to keep bad things from happening. He does not promise that night will not come, or that it will not be terrifying, or that we will immediately be tugged to shore. He promises that we will not be left alone. He will keep watch with us in the night.” Tish Harrison Warren

From Freely and Lightly by Emily Lex:

God said to her: “You do not need to work so hard at holding things together. That’s my job. Not yours. I’ve got this. I always have. But you’re so concerned with the troubles of this world and this made-up need for approval that you work and strive and stress and toil and spin. Be free.”

From “I Wake Close to Morning” by Mary Oliver:

/Why do people keep asking to see God’s identity papers when the darkness opening into morning is more than enough?/

‘Is God For Me?’ Interview

The realest. Brilliance. I never tire of listening to both of these men separately. So cool to hear them together.

I’ve never been afraid to die. I’ve been afraid to not live each day fully.” Erwin McManus

Hamlet Vibes ✨

“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!”

(Hamlet, Act-1, Scene-III, 78–82)


Image via Google Play

By: Gabriela Yareliz

A few days ago, Audrey Leighton was talking about the book she was reading called Motherhood. It’s a book called “a masterpiece on the moral conundrum involved in the decision to create new life” (Vulture and London Review of Books). I haven’t started reading it, but I am sure I will share about it once I do.

The current pushes toward vaccination and the many honest and natural question marks surrounding the effects it will have on fertility (that can only be known over time, logically) have brought this idea of motherhood to the forefront for many who don’t want to potentially screw around with their fertility.

I just recently started watching Parenthood with my boyfriend, which is excellent and predictable (but predictable in all the best ways– like a good script would of course go in that direction). I really am enjoying the show (still in season 1). I must be annoying to watch with because I am constantly psychoanalyzing every character. But as I have been watching, and as I have been thinking about all these things while simultaneously getting older, I’ve realized just how deeply I would like to be a parent someday. I don’t think it has ever hit me so hard. It’s weird because I think society is getting twistier, and I am not sure I like the direction we are headed in (to say it nicely). I suppose the societal screams to conformity have always been there, though. Sadly, conformity these days deals less with values and more with bandwagon confusion. Regardless, I would be thrilled to be able to steward a life.

In this process of realizing how deep-set this desire is, I have also realized that I have actually invested in the lives of a lot of children. As I watch dynamics and analyze interactions of children and their parents whether on the tv screen or off, I realize all those years teaching and working with children at the church and helping out with my brothers has taught me a lot. I learned a lot from my own parents, who were great, and also, from other’s children. I know what it’s like to care about someone as if they were your own because they really are in your heart. I feel really lucky to have had a hardcore training ground. As I pray to hopefully have one of my own, someday, I do know something else– parenthood is much deeper than DNA or bringing a life into this world. While pregnancy brings a special gift and connection with it that I want to experience myself, I also recognize that parenthood is really less about bringing the life and more about teaching that life about life and how to be the very best he/she can be. I’ve been really lucky to help children with that, over the years, and I treasure that deeply. Even now, years later. Especially now.

The Jennifer Lopez Series

Image from Popsugar

By: Gabriela Yareliz

It was too much fun looking at the J.Lo songs that marked my childhood and tween years. I am proud of this self-made Puerto Rican powerhouse. Below are the posts of the songs we looked at from Lopez’s career. They are all here, for easy reading and tabs.

“No Me Ames”: Unafraid (looking at eternal love, the Jennifer Lopez-Marc Anthony saga and the trouble when we romanticize things).

“I’m Real”: Cause I’m Real (looking at the nostalgia music can bring, the impact this song had on 11-year-old me, fake people and authenticity).

“Let’s Get Loud” and “Jenny From the Block”: I Know Where I Came From (looking at the shoulders we stand on and honoring where we started).

“Love Don’t Cost a Thing”: Gratis (looking at love languages, presence over presents and marriages where money rules).

“If You Had My Love”: The Standards (looking at relationships, boundaries and the conversations we’d be fools not to have).

“Dance Again”: Again (looking at rebirth after suffering and heartbreak; you will dance again).

Image via Tumblr


Image via Fanpop

By: Gabriela Yareliz

Today’s song (the last song in the J.Lo series), “Dance Again,” is a club jam. I am not including the actual music video simply because it’s very sexual and that young dancer she dated, Casper Smart, is in it. Bleh. Interestingly, Enrique Iglesias was one of the writers on this song. I will say this, what I love about the song is not the weird verses about her loving to make love to her partner. It’s like, Girl, we get it. I do love Pitbull, though. Mr. Worldwide makes an appearance. *Florida vibes*

Image via Popsugar

What I like about the song is the chorus. The chorus is all about the fact that no matter what happens, you will and should love again and dance again. We have one life. Lopez started as a dancer, and she has come a long way since then. I love the metaphor of dancing again as a symbol of all we can still do, even after suffering, heartbreak, pain and shattered dreams. The song, apart from that, has no depth, but I hope you feel that euphoric message in its chorus. “I wanna dance, and love, and dance again.” This was part of her comeback to music after years (it was 2012 and post-separation from Marc Anthony). J.Lo was reborn. You too can have a comeback and rise like a phoenix.

If you haven’t danced in a while, know that you will dance again.

The Standards

Image via Rockettes

By: Gabriela Yareliz

If we are looking at J.Lo’s direct messaging, we must look at “If You Had My Love.” The song is fun. It has a great beat, awesome choreography and a nice Latin twist in the middle. (She may not be the most vocally talented, but she always has unique signatures in her music and videos that make them unmistakably J.Lo). This is a song where Lopez clearly delineates some boundaries for a potential relationship. One could think of it as an empowering song for women. She asks a lot of questions many shy away from.

The song starts with questioning :

/If you had my love
And I gave you all my trust
Would you comfort me?
And if somehow you knew
That your love would be untrue
Would you lie to me?
And call me baby/

Image via Giphy

After the questions, it moves on to her standards and what she will and won’t tolerate.

She explicitly tells him she won’t have him cheating on her (“Tell me who can I trust, if I can’t trust in you. And I refuse to let you play me for a fool.”) She goes on to list her desires.

As plain and simple as this song is, it’s something people rarely do. You’d be surprised (or maybe not) that there are many partnerships where people are not on the same page, not in agreement about important things, and often, these very important things aren’t even discussed. Society has made us feel certain topics are taboo, inappropriate or make us seem crazy (especially women), and yet, one is a fool not to discuss them. It’s important for you to be clear on what you want, or someone else will impose their wants or way of operating on you.

I can’t stress enough how important these conversations are, and how important it is to be rooted in a sense of self-worth. I recently participated in Terra Newell’s Toxic Relationships Retreat, where excellent doctors and therapists spoke on narcissism, attachment styles, boundaries, etc. It was rich in knowledge, but there were times when women in the audience opened up, and all I will say about it is how truly heartbreaking these stories were. There are too many women in this world who have lived and survived a nightmare. There are times where it’s tough to know beforehand, (though one speaker did a great job telling us about red and pink flags), but many times, there were glaring signs that certain things in a relationship or person were not ok, and yet they were bypassed.

Image via Pinterest

“So before I do give myself to you, I have to know the truth if I spend my life with you.” Lopez sings that she knows her worth, and she isn’t just handing that out. (“I don’t need the hurt, I don’t need the pain.”) Part of me wonders how clear she is on that, truly, when she continues to pick men who have track records of cheating and weird pasts. (A-rod being one in the bunch). But respectfully, we turn our attention to ourselves. Our main purpose is to always think about what we can learn.

If you’ve made mistakes (and who hasn’t), it’s time to self-forgive and double down on your worth. Is there an important conversation you aren’t having? It’s not too late to start talking. Something that hasn’t been hammered out yet and left sort of hanging over your head like a guillotine? Are there topics that still remain vague? Clarify them. Time to sit everybody down and talk. If you don’t know how to do it, J.Lo’s song will give you a starting point.