Sunday Girl: July 30, 2017

By: Gabriela Yareliz

I know several of you have commented on my long absence, so I thought I would do an update post, and just sort of let you know what has been going on lately. The following is exactly that.

XOXO

I was hoping this would be witty and short. Now that I sit down to write it, I feel it will be neither.

I started the morning looking at photos of an old farmhouse in Northport, Michigan. I grew nostalgic for the perfect long summers in Michigan before the magical autumn spell begins.

I was sitting at my table across from my new basil plant, Oliver II. My body felt that sweet ache of muscles having been used. Yesterday, my boyfriend and I rode the AirTram to Roosevelt Island. We explored the island on foot, visiting the memorial, the gorgeous small pox hospital ruins (it looks like a gutted castle with nothing but wild plants growing inside), and we walked to the lighthouse. It felt like a cloudy yet bright autumn day (where the sun is hidden, but you still squint). It was a perfect day. Life is calming down and returning to normalcy after traveling.

That said, I read something about life, by Garance Doré, that really resonated with me:

“It’s so great and strange to be able to document your own life. Especially when you try to be authentic and don’t say too much nonsense like ‘everything is amazing, we’re laughing so hard over here with our perfectly thin bodies!’ – and you try to stay true to yourself.
Especially when you go through profound changes and you don’t even recognize yourself.”

The brilliant Leandra Medine from Man Repeller shared this week:

“Nobody else is going to be able to answer your grander life questions for you. I think that’s been the big revelation of marriage for me: I got married at 23. I was incredibly young. There is a ton of formative growing that happens over the course of a person’s twenties, and I’ve spent the last five years depending on my husband to grow for me. At a certain point this past winter, though, I hit a wall and realized that I still needed to grow for myself and by myself. What I needed was to get really comfortable feeling lonely; that was the only way that I’d get through it. Which I’m still working on, of course. Our respective humanities are a work in progress.”

We are all growing and that means changing– whether we are in our 40s like Garance or in our late twenties like Leandra.

Thinking back at the last three years: I graduated from law school, made a huge decision to stick it out in NYC alone (nothing but a job tying me here. Praise God for the job!). I found an apartment (or it found me) in a week with only Jesus helping me (that is a miracle in NYC), I got my attorney license, I transitioned into a busier position, I have grown my bank account and have responsibly ‘adulted’. I started my retirement fund. I was a part of two of my good friends’ weddings. I started dating a man I love very much. I have seen 3 to 4 friends either announce their pregnancy or I have already met their children. I met my dad again after almost a decade of not having seen him. I dealt with two major health scares and came out on the other end, by God’s grace. It has been an action-packed three years.

I won’t lie; some of the things I have gone through have scared the hell out of me. Some have made me think about my life choices and timeline– but my consistent goal has always been to keep growing; keep learning and if it scares me, I will keep pressing forward and do it anyway.

I have learned a lot about myself. I can even say that I am a different person today than who I was in June (last month).

I have learned a lot about how toxic perfectionism and expectations can be. I have been redefining ways to foster peace and satisfaction. I have been trying to learn more about gratitude. Sometimes, we look back and we feel some things were wasted or pointless; maybe they were super important to us because we had a limited vision and thought things would never be altered. We start learning along the way, and realize we have to learn to live more. We have to learn to enjoy more. Not everything in life ends well (and some things come to an end). Not everything in life has to be difficult and unpleasant. This is an important rut for some of us to get out of when it feels like all we have been through in life has been a continual struggle and rock climb to our next destination.

I saw a girl with the words “I regret nothing,” on her waistband, last night. I don’t think that is a healthy attitude. It’s okay to regret, mature or recognize/learn from mistakes. Mistakes will be made and they don’t need to be justified by some cliché. But you shouldn’t be consumed by regret or questions, instead, the only thing that should consume us is gratitude.

At one point, last week, I was reflecting on the past (not going into these details today), and I grew incredibly frustrated and almost bitter about something. I felt like I had wasted my time. I felt almost cheated. But then, I had to refocus and simply think, ‘All of that made me who I am in this minute. I appreciate everything it taught me, and it didn’t make me less of a person.’ I decided to move past it, and drain out the bitterness and frustration, and simply comfort myself in the fact that I would never put myself in that position again or allow myself to be put in that position, and I would do things in a smarter way. I am wiser. The past is exactly that– the past. If we don’t recognize this, we stay stuck (in bad memories, unhealthy relationships, bad family dynamics), and we can also make those around us miserable because we want to bring everyone down to the level where we are. I have learned some important lessons.

In the words of Garance Doré: “We shouldn’t hesitate to let go of the person we used to be to make room for the one we could become.”

As we grow older we learn what makes us feel fulfilled and who we want to be.

Below are some of the things I have been putting into practice, things that are on my mind and things I am learning more about:

My Body
I am learning to listen to my body in a holistic way. One piece is connected to another. Gone are the days when I would just live busily and then look at myself and be like, “is this normal for me?” And I honestly didn’t know because I hadn’t taken a minute to just pay attention to myself. Now, I pay attention to everything. My energy levels, trigger foods, my cycle, my mood (connected to hormone levels)– everything. I have learned so much about myself. And that’s the thing: we are all so different. You should be the person who knows yourself best. This has inevitably allowed me to improve the way I feel.

I am always inspired by @EarthyAndy’s recipes. I loved this video she made about her story. I think everyone needs to see it. There is something for each of us.

Minimalism

There are people who pride themselves (and are happy) in having every gadget or keeping everything (maximalism), but I know that is not me. I am more of an experience person. I realized that while I don’t have that much stuff, I know there are still things in my plastic bins that I haven’t touched in years. I have decided that all of that must go. Studies show that people who have less stuff are happier and suffer from less anxiety. I am going to start my pre-autumn cleaning today. A lot of stuff will be thrown out or donated. I can’t wait.

Inspiration:

Autumn
Autumn is coming! I am super excited. Everyone who has been following for a while knows I am in love with autumn.

Weddings and Pregnancies
I have received several pregnancy announcements in the past couple of months. It feels like everyone is either getting married or having children. It’s an exciting time. I am so happy for these friends! Inevitably– maybe because I am a woman, all of this really makes me reflect on my “biological clock,” and my desires and timeline for all of these things in my own life. It makes me reflect on how ready I am for these future events and the ways in which I want to grow and prepare for them. I think when women express this, often times people mistake it for women wanting this for themselves in that very minute. I don’t think that’s the case. Just because I am actively thinking about pregnancy topics and weddings, doesn’t mean I want that tomorrow. It just means I am a person with desires who wants to make sure I am ready and the very best I can be when that phase comes to my life. So much of life is an endurance race. People go into marriage and start families with so little preparation. I like to think that we can prepare ahead of time for some things, by growing in knowledge and character.

Genuine Faith
This past week’s lesson was about how our actions and behavior are a reflection of our faith. Our motivation and love will be pure and driven out of love if our faith and hearts are in the right place and in relationship with God. I think this has been a theme for the summer for me. I have been learning how important attitude and authenticity is in our lives.
I want to make sure I exemplify the love and joy I have in my heart with my words and actions. It sounds so simple. But so many of us are so harsh and so exacting. So many of us defraud others in the way we communicate or the words we don’t speak. We are hard on someone who makes a genuine mistake yet our judgment and attitude comes with no love and a load of self righteousness. It just doesn’t work that way.
The heart of Jesus was a different kind of heart. I want to have a heart like that.

Cooking
It’s my therapy and joy. It’s not even work to me anymore. In the words of chef Laila Gohar, “it’s my life.” Having produce in my hands and cooking for those I love has become one of my greatest joys. I am turning into Martha Stewart, you guys…

Writing
I am going to be setting some serious goals on getting some stuff out to publishers before 2017 ends. I may be coming to the pages of a magazine near you, in the next year. #goals

So, I am off to cook a yummy lunch. After that, I will continue my deep clean of my apartment. Enjoy your Sunday. And if anyone wants to comment on things he or she has learned lately (or if you want to write me an email… most of you prefer to write to me directly), please share! I want to know what everyone has been up to. Thanks for missing me! I am baaaaackkkk. Stay inspired, friends. And always expect miracles.

Reflections Before Bedtime #95

Recently, I found some of T.B. LaBerge’s writings that really touched me. I have featured his quotes on the blog, before. I think his wisdom illustrates the beautiful connection he has with God. His words are always ones that encourage me in my own spirituality.

I really appreciated the following thought:

“Be authentic in the way you live life, talk to those who hurt you. Engage in honesty and love, open up and ask those in your life why they are distant. Life is short, it gets muddied by lies and fear.
Be courageous enough to reach out to others, seek forgiveness and redemption in your community. We have been given an opportunity each day to love those around us, all it takes is one step.
Healing starts with communication, communication comes with humility, and humility only comes when we are willing to lay down our lives for others.
Love right now, not tomorrow or the next day, love in this moment and watch it become something beautiful.”
T.B. LaBerge // Go Now

I really believe in this notion of communication. It’s not so much about honoring our emotions when we communicate and engage, it’s about honoring those around us and ourselves, as people who have value. Communication takes humility and requires understanding. I want to keep learning how I can be a wiser communicator. I want to learn to love better.

GY

I Am Not Your Spic

By: Gabriela Yareliz

I Am Not Your Negro (film) was a pretty emotional experience for me.

It was probably emotional for every person who one day woke up and realized that he or she was being treated differently than his or her white counterparts. It was also probably a provocative affair for those watching who have lived in what James Baldwin calls the idealistic, blind American dream. Watching, gave me a rush of emotion, and it reminded me of the many racist incidents I experienced as a child. It reminded me of how I felt when I realized that everyone on TV or in a magazine did not look like me, unless I was watching Univision or reading Latina magazine (which came much later, in my teenage years).

The film was a refreshing reminder of the fact that racism has inflicted real wounds and real pain, and it has shaped those of us who have been rejected. It is a refreshing acknowledgement, in a world where these ideas are often dismissed as bitter or irrationally sensitive.

I won’t go into details regarding certain memorable racist incidents that shaped my life, but I will say that all those incidents showed me that I was different and that the world saw me as such.

Fortunately for me, I had an incredible support system. I grew up in a household with a Puerto Rican flag as big as the wall, and with parents who taught me that my value was in my character and in the fact that I was a child of God.

I grew up in both north and south of the Dixie line, but racism was never absent from my life, and even still, as an adult and attorney, it is not absent. Ironically, I have experienced the most racism and seen the most segregation in northern states.

As I continue to face racism in the “now,” I’m tired of people finding excuses and justifying hate. Something that I liked about this film is that it addresses a subtle form of racism that I see every day. Racism is no longer just about someone not liking me as the person next to them, but it’s more about a person showing hostility, showing apathy and disinterest in who I am as a person, in my identity, and someone thinking of me as inferior. Someone building a wall that they do not care to look past– that is also racism.

“The question is really a kind of apathy and ignorance, which is the price we pay for segregation. That’s what segregation means. You don’t know what’s happening on the other side of the wall, because you don’t want to know.” James Baldwin, I Am Not Your Negro

It is time that we realize that our carefully designed ignorance and insular world leads to racism. I recently heard a tween mention that no one had been deported from the U.S. since Trump was elected president. Obviously, it was an ignorant statement. I was heartbroken by how clueless she was, and I told her that she was misinformed. Her eyes grew wide, in disbelief. But it’s the truth. We cannot stay in our insulated fantasies. This fantasy is not our real America. The truth shall set you free.

The opposite of racism is learning to love, understand and care for your neighbor. These things cannot be done from a distance.

James Baldwin continued to explain that we live in a society that excuses the white majority, and it allows them to apologize for missteps, without assigning to them the duty to grow. It allows immaturity to “remain a virtue,” while others have to bind up their own wounds.

Mr. Baldwin is shown on a television interview, saying, “You know when the Israelis pick up guns or the Poles or the Irish, or any white man in the world says, ‘Give me liberty or give me death,’ the entire white world applauds. When a black man says exactly the same thing, word-for-word he is judged a criminal and treated like one.” This is still the America we live in.

It is time we realize, “History is not the past, it is the present. We carry our history with us. We are our history.”

In today’s political climate, turmoil, strife and perpetuated ignorance, there are still people who refuse to look at others; they simply don’t care to. They don’t understand cultures, history and passion. They take, they appropriate, they adopt– without giving second thought or caring about the artist or person or tradition that created whatever they are snatching.

We live in a time of carefully designed ignorance. But the majority must beware, for as Mr. Baldwin said, “You gave me a terrifying advantage, you never had to look at me; I had to look at you. I know more about you than you know about me. Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

I’m saying this because we need to stop excusing others and even ourselves. We need to learn more about others, and learn more about ourselves. Mr. Baldwin stated that this wasn’t about numbers. We do not need numbers, he said, we need passion. But I will go one step farther– more than passion, we need genuine love.

It was Martin Luther King Jr., who said: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

“We are like the plants that grow without water;
Without an American passport because half of gringolandia is Mexican territory;
You have to be a son of a b****,
We plant the tree, and they eat the fruit.
We are those who crossed;
We came here to find the gold they robbed from us.
We have more tricks that secret service; we can fit our entire house in our suitcase.
With a pick, a shovel and a rake,
we will build you a castle.
What does the chorus say?
Immigrants, we get the job done.”
Residente, Calle 13

Thoughts After A John Legend Concert

All those happy love songs are about you, love. ❤️

/’Cause I may not know a lot of things but
I feel it in my chest
Know I won’t let the blue flame die/
[…]
/’Cause it’s once, just once in a lifetime
And we’re scared to love but it’s all right
I may not know a lot of things but
I know that we’re surefire/

“Surefire”– John Legend

Wednesday Badinage: June 28, 2017

“Some periods of our growth are so confusing that we don’t even recognize that growth is happening. We may feel hostile or angry or weepy and hysterical, or we may feel depressed. It would never occur to us, unless we stumbled on a book or a person who explained to us, that we were in fact in the process of change, of actually becoming larger, spiritually, than we were before. Whenever we grow, we tend to feel it, as a young seed must feel the weight and inertia of the earth as it seeks to break out of its shell on its way to becoming a plant. Often the feeling is anything but pleasant. But what is most unpleasant is the not knowing what is happening. Those long periods when something inside ourselves seems to be waiting, holding its breath, unsure about what the next step should be, eventually become the periods we wait for, for it is in those periods that we realize that we are being prepared for the next phase of our life and that, in all probability, a new level of the personality is about to be revealed.”
Alice Walker, Living by the Word

By: Gabriela Yareliz

Reflections from the Train:

Understanding oneself is a process.   Being in a relationship is its own kind of growth. A journey. An attitude adjustment.

I was set in my ways. (Aren’t we all?)

We learn to grow in different ways, at different stages in our lives.

Lately, I realized that I wasn’t making decisions the way I used to. My whole frame of mind has changed. I was mistaking this different mindset with insecurity, weakness and confusion. I was wondering why things that were so easy to decide and settle in the past were taking longer or were so different. Things change when you aren’t just thinking about yourself. There is another person with a different vision and different expectations joining the decision table. Relationships mold us.

You slowly start building your world with another, which takes work and sacrificing other things. Both sides must do it in order to build a beautiful, unified world.

It’s not just me anymore, which I love, and that comes with its own adjustments and changes. It means potentially more uncertainty, more patience and more compromise.

To the independent women who suddenly find themselves waiting for a contributory opinion, it’s all good. You aren’t crazy; you aren’t weak– I was seriously frustrated with myself, for a couple days, trying to figure out my thought process. Sometimes, I don’t think people realize how hard this is for us. It’s a big step, and it takes a lot of restraint. It’s me saying, I am not only going to let you into my world, I am going to give you space to come in and help me build our world. The private world fades and a shared world emerges. That is a world where there are no unilateral decisions.

This reminds me of what it’s like for two people to learn to dance together. There are hilarious moments, embarrassing moments, and moments of severe frustration (usually that’s week 7 of Dancing with the Stars, when everyone starts breaking down and sobbing in front of the camera). Just like Simone Biles had to learn that dancing was not gymnastics and the value of connection and emotion, we all slowly learn what it means to not be single anymore; the fact that connection, communication and emotion are crucial. Things change.

What did the mom from Princess Diaries II say? “Being married is about being yourself, but with someone else.” That is a deeper statement than I initially thought.

A solo sport is not the same thing as a partnership. Both require a unique set of skills. The partnership is harder. But the partnership is more beautiful because of the challenges it presents. A partnership changes you in ways that you can’t change on your own. You can’t tango by yourself. It takes two to tango. I am learning to dance in my relationship; learning about myself and my partner; learning to be led and to trust. I am learning to collaborate. Each day is a rehearsal where we sweat it out and keep growing. And through all of this, I can’t help but notice that this is how art is made.