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.

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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

Danny & Mindy

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The Mindy Project is coming to an end this season. Is it weird that I want to see this thing end with Danny and Mindy, together? The world needs positive vibes. We all want to see something work out, even if it’s fantasy. I was never someone who believed in closure or forced happy endings. I am not embarrassed to say it, but in this story, I want my Jane Austin ending.

The whole show started revolving around the incredible Mindy-Danny chemistry. Then, Chris Messina (who plays Danny) wanted to do other projects, so they messed up the whole show, so they could write him out, for a bit. Not cool, guys.

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They better end this thing right. Danny is back.

Remember the Danny who used to stare longingly at Mindy? The one who would tease her and bicker with her. The one who was her best friend and recognized she was a “hot, smart woman with an ass that don’t quit.”

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I recently read an article about why we care so much about celebrity marriages and divorces. The article explained that people observe and pin their own hopes on other’s experiences. We feel that if George Clooney found his soulmate, we will, too. Sounds so elementary, but it’s the human way.

While Mindy was in many ways superficial and deeply flawed, she was a representation of an intelligent, professional woman of color on television that a lot of us grew up without.

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To be honest, what I liked the most about Mindy was the way she fell in love with Danny. I believe this is where her character really started to grow. He was her opposite. Stoic, divorced, rugged, careful with money, fit, manly, Italian, sarcastic… They needed each other.

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Let’s face it, all of us watching put our money on Danny after he danced for Mindy at the Christmas party. The show set us up. We all became #teamDanny.

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We all swooned, God knows how many years ago, when Danny kissed Mindy for the first time, on the plane.

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And now, we are here.

From what I have read on forums and YouTube fan video comments, Danny has lost no fans.

We are all hoping to see a sweet end. An ending that maybe takes us back to where it all began— the top of the Empire State Building, declaration of love, anyone?

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(Going to the top of the Empire State Building at night is still on my bucket list. Six years in NYC, and I still haven’t done it. Craziness.)

We want to see this happy ending. I know the writers know it. Because while this is just TV, our hearts are in the right place. Our hopes of Mindy having her happy ending simply reflect our own hopes. At the end of the day, we don’t see Mindy waiting at the top of the Empire State Building. That girl waiting at the top of the Empire State Building is all of us.

 

An Octobery October

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[Photo by Betty Binon of Stems and Forks]

By: Gabriela Yareliz

Happy October! It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s super important to keep educating ourselves on these issues and monitoring our own health. (This goes for men and women).

I wanted to link this article on 8 Common Breast Cancer Myths That Need To Be Cleared Up. Refinery29 interviewed the doctor and Mount Sinai Hospital Cancer Center specialist whose office I went to when I had my own breast cancer scare, earlier this year. It was probably one of the scariest moments for me as a person, but their office and staff are so great. Definitely, a must read.

NYC feels like summer, yet again. It’s hot, sticky and sloooww. Standing on a subway platform, equals a death by sweating, and you better pray your train is actually running. #NYCoverrated

My main focus lately has been to keep some kind of peace at my core, despite insanity around me. Crazier times demand more prayer. We often stress out, unconsciously, because of changes looming in the future that we know we need to face head on. Or, we stress about the stuff we have no control over. We all have been touched by so much tragedy. As I have been editing interviews and profiles on women of faith for Modern Witnesses, it has been so great to see God’s faithfulness, over and over again, in the lives of others. Reminding me, that He will be the same in my own life.

For the first time this week, I tried fermented food. I had never in my life tried kimchi. It was a peculiar and interesting experience. We (my boyfriend and me) also tried new probiotics.

My boyfriend loves trying new things and has a sense of adventure that can’t be beat. He bought the kimchi, and also got me a cinnamon whisk. Basically, it looks like a cinnamon broom. I put it next to my bed, and call me crazy or declare aromatherapy real, because I have slept better than I have in ages, with that little broom around. Thought I would share.

And lastly, as we recap the beginning of this slow month, let me mention that sugar is everywhere. Once the holidays start, man it’s hard to be temperate. (Am I right? Or am I right?). I see you, sugar. You are on my radar.

October reminds me of those dark blue nights in D.C., by those homes close to Georgetown, with the glittering porch lights; that boxing class I used to attend that I was obsessed with (I loved leaving that gym all hot and walking home through the crisp weather). It reminds me that life is worth fighting for (cancer free or not). It reminds me that our lives need fall. We all have things we need to let go of; things that have to die in us; things that will have the opportunity to be reborn. We all need rest, beauty and slow calm.

It’s autumn, NYC. 🍂 So, get with the program.

[Go do a self breast examination. Now.]