Reflections Before Bedtime #97

“Vive sin pretender, ama sin depender, escucha sin defender y habla sin ofender.”

“Live without pretending, love without depending, listen without defending and speak without offending.”

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Thoughts on Grace

By: Gabriela Yareliz

As people who have had their fair share of disappointments or hurts, we often reflect and then adopt an attitude that says, “I shall not be fooled again.”

Most people see it as a virtue to expect the worst from people. (Especially in places that just drag the cynicism out of you on a daily basis, like New York City). Anything to the contrary is seen as naïve. You figure, it’s a smart move. Instead of being disappointed, you just call it out before it even happens and basically expect another person’s failure or mistake. When they fail, you aren’t surprised.

Yesterday, I was listening to a really great series recommended by a friend. The person speaking said that the happiest people don’t adopt this kind of attitude. Instead, they give people around them the benefit of the doubt. They bring out empathy, instead of cynicism.

Instead of being like “I knew you weren’t going to do what you promised” or making a misunderstanding come from the worst possible place, they understand.

I think that as people, we have long been wired to be cynical to protect ourselves. We believe people come from the worst place and are actively trying to hurt us.

When it comes to relationships with those we love and those who love us, it’s dangerous to allow this same attitude to filter through.

Misunderstandings are very real. None of us can read another’s mind; and disappointments can be inevitable. A person won’t always be on time or able to keep his or her promise. But rather than jumping to the worst possible conclusion when such a thing happens, (which I know I am not alone in doing, at times), what if we were filled with grace?

What if we thought, “X loves me. They don’t want to disappoint me. Obviously something happened, and it’s ok.”

I am good at this in some things and not so good in other areas. I am sure you, being human, have experienced the same. People’s past failures that brought us pain pop up, sometimes. But rather than having them pop up, let’s deal with them as our own issues. Often the person in front of us is not at fault. They really do love us or care for us. When we get mad or express disappointment, we hurt the person in front of us, who was simply trying his or her best. We make them afraid or make them dread us because then they feel like nothing they ever try will be good enough.

The truth is none of us is perfect. We have all been hurt. We all fail. We express our anger, fear, and cynicism at the most inopportune times.

I am sharing this deep flaw in me because I am sure I am not alone. I live in a city that thrives off of self-protection and being competitive.

My goal is not to be blind or taken advantage of, it’s to be graceful to those who love me and who do not actively try to disappoint me. And hopefully, as I develop and discipline myself to show that, not just in some things, but in all things, I will get that grace in return. And even if I don’t, just by bestowing grace, I will be a healthier, happier person because of it.

In what ways can you show more grace, today? Do you expect the best or the worst in people? Who do you want to be?

Thoughts on Gratitude

The cursor was blinking back at me for about a minute, and then, I remembered that I wanted to talk about gratitude. November always has a special emphasis on gratitude. It reminds us of how grateful we should be each and every day.

There is so much for which to be grateful. I feel like gratitude often gets bogged down by the latest thing our boss did to make our lives that much harder or some insane daily incident that brings us down. But it shouldn’t.

This morning, I read the following thought in the annual Revive Our Hearts Gratitude Challenge devotional:

“Gratitude is the overflow of a humble heart, just as surely as an ungrateful, complaining spirit flows out of a proud heart. Proud people are wrapped up in themselves.”

I found this to be interesting. And it led me to think about everything I have been so frustrated about or absorbed in. Sometimes, we are so busy looking at how we are treated, wronged or taken for granted, and we get focused on ourselves. And while all of those things hurt or cause pain and are wrong, we can’t change other’s actions. We can only change ourselves.

My friend can’t change how her husband treats her, but she can change herself. I can’t make a person appreciate me, but I can change my reaction.

What does it mean to be grateful in the humble way? The gratitude where we complain less, and we shine, despite thunderclouds around.

I feel like I want to work on that.
And beyond gratitude, it made me think about how many other things in my life that affect me negatively are perhaps on me because of my thoughts turning inward toward myself.

Maybe that’s the root of more
issues, not just unhappiness that stems from ingratitude. What else in our lives would change if we had humble gratitude?

There is so much we have that comes to us as a free gift. Today in church, we spoke about grace.

Grace is such a profound topic that we barely understand in a society where the focus is gaining or things being exchanged.

Sometimes, the first step is slowing down. Slowing way down.

“We are just ordinary people, maybe we should take it slow.” Wise words, John Legend.

Let’s slow down and find out what humble gratitude means. Let’s find out if we have accepted grace and figure out how to regift it.

While this may sound cliché, it’s profound, and I assure you we haven’t mastered it. But we should, and we can.

Reflections Before Bedtime #96

By: Gabriela Yareliz

You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress, simultaneously.”
Sophia Bush

The past two weeks have been bumpy. I felt angry, at times hurt or sad, and at other times, completely overwhelmed.

NYC and everything that comes with daily life here just feels like it keeps escalating into chaos. It’s not a good feeling. I constantly wish I had handled something better or had more patience. This place seriously assaults your mental stability and sanity. I now understand why books exist about people who left NYC, written by the former New Yorkers.

That’s not the point. The point is I feel that sometimes we need to regroup. We search for security in flimsy things. We search for reassurance and structure in chaos.

Life is a reminder that all we seek is only in one place. Everything else is simply broken. And everyone else is hurt, too.

Hurt people hurt people. That’s how pain patterns gets passed on, generation after generation after generation. Break the chain today. Meet anger with sympathy, contempt with compassion, cruelty with kindness. Greet grimaces with smiles. Forgive and forget about finding fault. Love is the weapon of the future.
Yehuda Berg

Life is about the long walks. The embraces and joy. The pain where people held together and pressed through. Resilience and the relationship we forge with ourselves.

I hope that when this chapter ends and the next one begins, I am proud of who I became and that I will see that I was strong, brave and I endured the storm in beauty of character and soul.

Gainesville

By: Gabriela Yareliz

I am so proud of how the city of Gainesville and the University of Florida handled Richard Spencer’s visit. The diverse and inclusive community protested and made his visit pointless, nonviolent (with the exception of some minor injuries), and he was pretty much hostile the entire time. He ended his speech early because of the boos.

That’s right. That’s who we are. We don’t like Nazis; we aren’t indifferent; we stand up for each other. Get out of our amazing town.

Richard Spencer, you may have a right to say what you want to say, but we have the right not to hear it.

Impact

On the magical truth on how people change people:

“The thing with people is, you never know who’s going to make a lasting impact on you. The most annoying person you’ve ever met, could end up changing your life forever. Someone you’ve known for a long time, you could have misjudged. So, for now, I guess I will say… yes.” Mindy Lahiri, The Midwife’s Tale, S06Ep06

The Quiet Fall

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[Image from Aljazeera]

By: Gabriela Yareliz

Aung San Suu Kyi, anyone? The secular human rights hero, who is a hero no more. Famous for her long house arrest, for giving up everything to bring democracy to Burma, nonviolence, and a Nobel Peace Prize. They made a touching movie out of her life, for crying out loud. And now, we are here. People are rallying for her Nobel Peace Prize to be taken away. But why?

It pains me to write this, but I like to be fair. My ethics and journalism background always emphasized that you must tell the truth, no matter how inconvenient it may be. And no matter how disappointing, for that matter. One is called to truth, because only truth can hold people accountable. She was always a hero of mine (I have posted about her before), but I am deeply disappointed right now, and I don’t count her as a hero, anymore.

You have to be living under a rock if you haven’t heard of the violence happening against the minority ethnic group in Burma, the Rohingya. They are a Muslim ethnic group. Many have been killed off in internment camps, others have died trying to escape Burma (now called Myanmar). The Buddhist population in Burma has treated this population like animals. Many human rights groups and international law scholars are treating this like a genocide.

This is all happening in the great Aung San Suu Kyi’s country. She has been silent. Kenneth Roth, of Human Rights Watch, has stated that he believes this is a political calculation on her part. He explained, “She is thinking, It’s not worth it, these people are too unpopular for me to bother defending.” Since 2012, Aung San Suu Kyi has been hostile to questions about human rights in her country and has avoided meetings with NGOs.

Some think that maybe we misinterpreted who she was. Many have speculated that leadership was her sole ambition, and now that she has it, everyone else can go to hell.

The New Yorker’s analysis said it perfectly:

“Aung San Suu Kyi has the benefit of having become an icon without saying a whole lot. Havel came to his position by saying a lot, by being a moral voice. Aung San Suu Kyi didn’t say much at all. She was a moral symbol, and we read into that symbol certain virtues, which turned out to be wrong when she actually started speaking.” [Quote from Kenneth Roth, HRW]

“Suu Kyi was not an intellectual, like Havel, or a freedom fighter, like Mandela, or an organizer, like Walesa. And unlike her father, she did not die before her legend could be tarnished.”

So she fought for a country to have democracy. But what good is a democracy, when it’s not for all people? When you have your own people in internment camps and you are killing them because of their ethnicity or religion? What sets her apart from other leaders (some even fascists and tyrants) who brought their countries “forward” at the expense of others? There is no difference.

Aung San Suu Kyi is NO moral hero. She is just another power hungry ambitious person allowing others to die, while standing silently by, so she can keep her own position and power.

Suu Kyi has finally spoken. It wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but I listened.

For more:

Open Letter from of Rohingya to Aung San Suu Kyi

Where would I go? NPR On Rohingya refugees