Sunday Girl: January 14, 2018

Happy Sunday, friends.

I wanted to start off the week with some curated encouragement straight from my inbox.

We don’t know what the week holds for us, but we know that what we have is today. Today, we can prep, rest and recalibrate.

I loved the following quotes and articles:

“Life will eventually bring you to your knees. Either you will be on your knees cursing the universe and begging for a different life, or you will be brought to your knees by gratitude and awe, deeply embracing the life you have, too overwhelmed by the beauty of it all to stand or even speak. Either way, they are the same knees.” Kusha Alagband

“Prioritize yourself,
feel the impact of your own attention.
Trust your mistakes,
they’re the ones God needed to mention to you.
Welcome your past,
find the meaning in the teachings.
Investigate your leadership
(you’re a woman; you’re always leading).
Remember yourself.
You are the one who’s never leaving.”
—Elena Brower, yogi, mama, author, and speaker, taken from How To Grow Confident In Your Own Beauty From The Most Radiant Women We Know

An awesome article to check out:

6 Easy Things To Do On Sunday That Will Improve Your Week

Podcast I am loving: Style Your Mind

I hope you have a relaxing, reflective Sunday. Take the time to take care of yourself. Have a moment of silence. Be blessed.

XOXO

GY

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Words from Benjamin Hoff

“In other words, everything has its own place and function. That applies to people, although many don’t seem to realize it, stuck as they are in the wrong job, the wrong marriage, or the wrong house. When you know and respect your Inner Nature, you know where you belong. You also know where you don’t belong.” pg. 40, The Tao of Pooh, by Benjamin Hoff

“[I]nstead of saying, ‘This isn’t supposed to be happening this way,’ and trying hard to make it happen some other way […] if you are in tune with The Way Things Work, then they work the way they need to, no matter what you may think about it at the time. Later on, you can look back and say, ‘Oh, now I understand. That had to happen so that those could happen, and those had to happen in order for this to happen…’ Then you realize that even if you tried to make it all turn out perfectly, you couldn’t have done better, and if you’d really tried, you would have made a mess of the whole thing.” pg. 80, The Tao of Pooh, by Benjamin Hoff

“The Clouds above us join and separate, the breeze in the courtyard leaves and returns. Life is like that, so why not relax? Who can stop us from celebrating.” pg. 113 (Citing Lu Yu), The Tao of Pooh, by Benjamin Hoff

Transformation

Change is inevitable, but transformation is a conscious choice.” Heather Ash Amara

By: Gabriela Yareliz

The quote above has been my lock screen wallpaper now, for months. (Thank you The Chalkboard Mag!) It has been a sort of theme in my life.

As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7)

King Solomon gives us his words of wisdom. I stumbled upon these, this morning.

I then read the following quote:

The spiritual transformation proposed by God is brought about through our thinking, through our thought processes.”

[pg. 15, Stewardship: Motives of the Heart, by John H. H. Matthews]

Transformation, if we seek it, begins in the mind. Our thoughts, contrary to what many believe, are subject to our control. And interestingly enough, our thought choices then control how we feel. Our emotions do not control our thoughts, unless we allow them to. We have the power to choose our thoughts and have our emotions follow.

This is a powerful message that is a game changer. I hope that as the new year is beginning, you feel empowered. Empowered to not only let change happen to you, but empowered to seek transformation in the midst of it.

Whatever you are seeking— whether it is a spiritual, mental, body, relational, health, and/or style/presentation transformation, it starts in your mind. We are made up of thoughts. Choose what you think, and therefore, choose who you will be.

On the mind, tip: When we are faced with something that we know needs improvement, a step we often overlook is that rather than focusing on the negative, like focusing on subtracting things, we should focus on adding things. What do I mean by this? This doesn’t mean some things don’t have to go. It’s likely some things will need to go or be eliminated. But, rather than focusing all your energy there, see what needs to go, but focus on adding positive things that will help your situation.

In diet, think: What can I add to my diet that will bring more nutrients and feed wellness in my life, rather than making a huge list of things to remove.

In a relationship, think: What can I do differently and add to my behavior to improve the relationship, rather than focusing on a list of negatives.

In body transformation, think: What extra movement can I add to my day, rather than spending the extra five minutes in front of the mirror dissecting what I don’t like.

Let’s focus on the positive. Where we lead our thoughts, our hearts will follow. Practice makes perfect. And remember, if you aren’t controlling your thoughts, something is or they may well be completely out of control.

Choose to add something positive to your days in 2018. Choose to guide your thoughts to where you want to go as a person. For, scripture reminds us, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”

Those New Year Vibes

“Being positive in a negative situation is not naive. It’s leadership.” 

By: Gabriela Yareliz

It’s freezing, guys. Seriously. Like, it feels like -14F. The snow cyclone almost blew me away, yesterday. Literally. But I am still here. *grin* I was exhausted on my walk from the train to my apartment. I almost knelt in the snow and cried, as the wind and snow pelted me down. But it was fear of getting buried in 10 seconds by the fast-falling snow that kept me moving, until I got inside.

[ENOUGH ABOUT MY SNOW DRAMA]

I loved a mini reflection questionnaire @marieforleo posted, and I thought I would reflect and invite you to reflect, as well.

Here we go… 2017 is behind us!

What was your most important accomplishment and why?

I think that what I accomplished health-wise, in my life, was a huge accomplishment. It’s a work in progress, but I have been able to achieve less symptoms and a healthier feeling, through diet, supplements and discipline. And this is coming from the person who before couldn’t even remember to take her daily vitamins. My symptoms and health took a turn for the worse at the beginning for 2017, and by the end of 2017, I was more educated, more in control and more determined.

It was also a great year, as far as professional accomplishments are concerned. I had an amazing year with my love, and visited family a lot. I also got to reconnect with some old friends, which was a blessing.

What was your biggest lesson and why is that important?

I think being in a relationship is a learning curve. You are constantly learning about a person you love who is different from you, and he/she is learning about you. In the day-to-day living, you learn to face different things, emotions, insecurities and dreams together. It’s an amazing experience. I think my greatest lessons have come from the amazing relationship in my life that constantly teaches me more about who God is and all He has in store for us. I have grown as a person, and I also know where I need to grow more. And it is an amazing feeling to know someone is there through thick and thin for you, despite your flaws. It’s an amazing thing to know what you want to fight for and then fight like hell for it. 🙂

What are you ready to let go of?

Negativity. So ready to keep negativity and toxicity out and bring in positivity and joy. People sometimes think it’s a virtue to be a “realist” or to be cynical or negative. I heard recently that practice makes perfect, and if you complain or decide to be negative, you become good at it. I don’t want that in my life. I love the opening quote to this post. And I believe it. Leadership is an important quality, to me.

What are you most excited to create and experience in 2018?

The thing I am most excited about is spending more time with the man I love. I am excited about growing projects like Modern Witnesses, meeting more amazing young women who hustle, continuing to improve my health and experiencing things I haven’t dreamed about yet!

How is that for the first week of the year? I am giddy like a child about 2018. It’s unbelievable we are here. I can still remember my little hand, with a pencil in it, writing 1998 for the date on a school worksheet.

Merry Christmas

“Christmas is for freedom. Freedom from the fear of death. Jesus took our nature in Bethlehem, to die our death in Jerusalem, that we might be fearless in our city. Yes, fearless. Because if the biggest threat to my joy is gone, then why should I fret over the little ones?”
John Piper

Wishing you a peaceful Christmas, filled with the greatest gift of all, God’s love. May you feel it; may you store it in your hearts; may you share it.

A messiah was promised, and a messiah came. Today, we remember God’s faithfulness.

This is how 2017 began

By: Gabriela Yareliz

It began with a kiss from the most amazing man, after I had stuffed my face with grapes, per Spanish tradition.

I was surrounded by my loved ones, and Antena3 TV Española was blasting in the background. Squeaky, the cat, had gone missing, and the night was humid and dark.

On the second day of the year, I traveled home to NYC, almost projectile vomiting in our Lyft driver’s car (I could almost hear him silently praying). And on the third day, I started the day off by going to the doctor and getting a referral to a breast clinic for a potential biopsy, thanks to some swollen lymph nodes.

I wrote a post on how 2016 began and ended. It was a year of a lot of changes and “dark faith.” I wrote at the end of 2016 that I wanted 2017 to be a year of growth and harvest. It was definitely a year of growth. I learned so much about myself. And, I continue to.

I could go through the list of everything that made this year insane, but there would also be a list on everything that made this year unique and special.

So, what do I want from 2018? I believe in speaking things out into the world, in faith. Feliz (my best friend) said 2018 would be her breakout year (makes it sound like she is a pop star!). And I know it will be.

I want 2018 to be a year of strength and health.

Here are some things I have started to cultivate, as 2017 is ending, that I want to take with me into the new year:

1. JOY & GRATITUDE

I started doing a gratitude journal. It has changed my mornings. Yesterday, in my rush to work out, I forgot to do it, and I really felt the difference. My morning was moodier than it had been in the past days. I have realized that reflecting on gratitude, every morning, and deciding how I want to make the day awesome, has changed my tune. I am still working through it and growing.

I have been dealing with a lot of changes (what is life but change?), and some of it has been very emotional, but the Five Minute Journal has grounded me and really brought me joy. I totally recommend it. I added it to my prayer and devotion time in the morning, recently. Call it a form of meditation.

2. STRENGTH

I am working out, and hard. At first, I was going at it a little too hard, but I have been making necessary adjustments based on what my body is telling me. I decided to focus on strength, mostly doing weights and barre type exercise. I have felt such a big difference, even in the way I have been sleeping.

I was inspired by Nikki and Brie Bella. I saw Nikki on Dancing With the Stars, and I saw how she made an amazing recovery after almost breaking her neck. I realized I had no excuse. I wanted to feel that good and have strength like that in my own body. So, my journey began. It has been so fun!

3. WELLNESS

I am so grateful for the awesome health inspiration I have found this year in @drmonavand, @Brittnisoo, @rainbowplantlife, @Kushascorner and @Melissawoodhealth. They share so much valuable information, not just about fitness but about how to start your morning in a detox way (eating fruit), probiotics (which my mom got me hooked on– such a game changer), and awesome recipes.

Through research, MindBodyGreen, Goop, The Chalkboard Mag, and The Skinny Confidential etc., I made my own anti-inflammatory plan of supplements and diet changes. My skin looks different, and I experience way less pain. I want to keep learning.

4. CLEAN BEAUTY

I ditched my foundation, guys. I am also using cleansers that are not chemical based and harsh but ones with organic ingredients. I decided to let my diet and lifestyle determine how my skin looks rather than how much makeup I was wearing. Sometimes, that means that when I eat something that triggers a breakout, there are less ways to hide it. But I am trying to learn from this and listen to my body.

I switched to RMS, Tata Harper and softer products. As I continue to use up some products, I will keep finding better, more natural alternatives.

I realized this year how we live so fast-paced, and we don’t pay attention to our bodies until it’s often too late, and it’s about to give out. We should pay attention. It’s our life, after all.

5. ADJUSTING PERSPECTIVE

Sometimes, it’s hard to step out of our own experience and find a middle ground for some things, when we have a partner that is very different from us. And I mean things like: consumerism (maximalist vs. minimalist), adventure (rough it vs. high maintenance), politics, ideas on traveling, ideas on how people should live, parenting, etc.

Each family and partnership creates their world and their rules on how they will live. I am looking forward to figuring this out more, as time passes, and growing more. (I am only half of the equation).

In a relationship, we get polished, and we grow. We get to become a better version of ourselves– and inevitably, we change.

I think that sometimes we need to sit back and remember the child we were. We need to remember everything we have been through, and the fact that it shapes us deeply, and we carry baggage with us. And then, we need to let it go, and be open to experiencing things we may have never imagined and to find ourselves in great, unexpected places. We have to be open to live. And when both sides do this, that’s when magic happens. That’s what we call, family.

6. SUBMITTING MORE WRITING TO MAGAZINES AND PUBLISHERS, GROWING MODERN WITNESSES

Modern Witnesses has been an incredible passion project for me, and I hope it keeps growing, and that the community will keep sharing.

***

2018 is less about resolutions and more about growing in the things I have started to explore and develop. I want to be a better woman, a better partner, a better professional, a better writer, and a more vulnerable and joyful individual.

What are your hopes for the new year?

What is your word/theme for 2018?

I am sure the journey will bring its challenges and beautiful moments. We will find ourselves in the valley and find ourselves at the top. We just need to keep growing, if not, we are dying.

I want to end by saying, I am grateful to a God who listens. A God who intervenes. A God who heals. A God who is waiting to take us to that next level of living, if we let Him. A God who is faithful.

I am grateful for family. Blood is thicker than water, always. We have gone through so much together. And we will continue to walk, even if it is through temporal darkness, together.

I am grateful for my friends, though many of the closest ones are far, we stay united in prayer, and we continue to grow together, support each other and have vision.

I am grateful to have such a great partner (great is such an understatement, he is beyond incredible). He has weathered storms with me and made me laugh so much. He is always down for adventure and exploring new places or topics of conversation, and I appreciate that. He has been patient and supportive, and while we are incredibly different, he finds my over-communicative and Type A ways endearing (or so he leads me to believe). Truly, the most amazing man.

I think that when you have been through so much in life, and you swear to yourself that you will never depend on someone– it’s hard to be vulnerable, later, even when you want to be. And vulnerable not just in word, but in deed. It takes a lot to be like, okay, I am going to allow this person to take the lead or to make this decision, and I will go along with it. Or, I am going to trust this person. Something so simple can trigger fears in the least trampled among us. We have all been trampled, to some degree.

It’s like learning to dance, and realizing that in this dance, you can’t do it alone. And while this sounds so basic and expounding on this is an entirely different post, I am so grateful that relational wounds are healed by good, genuine relationships and the people who are patient enough to love us, despite the scars.

2017, you have been a journey of growth, and I can’t wait to continue this journey with all I have gained from this past year.

2018 will be a year of strength.

Amen.

Eight Years of Miracles

On a day like today, eight years ago, I sat at the science library at the University of Florida, probably in corduroy flare pants and my glasses on, and I decided to start Expect Miracles.

I wanted to write. I needed to write. My heart was full again, after years of dry ink. An important relationship in my life had unraveled, and a new chapter was beginning. I could feel it in my bones.

My first post, Autumn, hinted at my readiness for a rebirth. (I have left my previous posts intact, complete with typos and formatting issues. I would rather display growth than perfection). I had no idea I would end up here. Life takes us on these amazing rides when we live by faith.

Today is the blog’s birthday. Thank you for the years of support; for reading my thoughts and for watching me grow.

I am forever grateful for how faithfully you read and for your feedback and love.

Here is to more growth! More change! More love! And more words! Around here, we like to live life deeply, thoughtfully and filled with miracles. Thank you for walking with me.

XOXO

GY