Birthday Month Reflection: Lessons Learned

By: Gabriela Yareliz

I was inspired by Lauryn Evarts Bosstick’s Birthday Reflection post, where she shared three things she learned in the past year. As a fellow May baby, I thought I would reflect on this year.

Here is my list:

Image from HGTV


I have been super intentional about exposing myself to material and things I don’t know much about. Even when it’s embarrassing how clueless I am. Recognizing my weaknesses and stepping out of my interests has been a journey. I have read more economics and business books in the past year than I have ever read in my entire life. I am learning about finance, investments, and design.

There are things that don’t come naturally to me, like decorating or styling things, but by exposing myself to a bunch of material and inspiration, I have started learning more about what makes certain things work or come together. Whether it has been watching old episodes of Fixer Upper, listening to Rachel Zoe or following the articles at My Domaine— I know I have learned so much from the expertise of others who do things well.



This was such a big word for me this past year. As we grow and life changes, our relationships change. I think we can all perpetuate dynamics and cycles if we aren’t intentional in the way we live and communicate with those around us. (I posted a lot about this, this past year).

Self-awareness and vulnerability are so key to having the relationships and lives that we want.

Image from Candice Kumai


This was a year where I used tea medicinally. I am obsessed with the turmeric ginger tea that Pukka makes. Again, intentionality made the difference here.

I wrote my heart out

I wrote a first draft of a book I am working on, last year, and now I am in the process of editing. It is a project I am so passionate about because the meaning behind this story means so much to me. Just writing it alone has been a sort of therapy. Even if it stays in my hands, the act of writing it changed something in me.

Health came first

So… I need to keep cutting sugar out of my diet, but apart from that, this was a year where good health became my normal, thank GOD. I had spent a long time with a lot of anxiety regarding my health and a lot of question marks because I wasn’t sure whether something would work for me. God helped me find the resources I needed, and I saw the results of those efforts yield stable results, this year. As a result of this, I am majorly Goopy (minus the crystals and random jade eggs). (See Goop)

Cultivated community

I have absolutely loved seeing Modern Witnesses grow into a flourishing community of vulnerable and organic women, who are doing big things for God and their communities. I can’t wait to watch it keep growing and expanding.


Realistically analyzed age

There is a scene in The Mindy Project where Mindy’s boyfriend at that point in time, Casey, tells her that he is going to Haiti for a year.

He tells her, “A year is not that long.”
Mindy responds with: “Yeah, if I was 20 or a tortoise.” […] “I don’t have a year of my life to put on pause.”

(Yes, this is the episode where Mindy takes down a stripper pole from a frat party and calls it a “poll of oppression”. “Thank you, young feminist.”)

I think this year, my age bracket really settled in. It was a time when I too realized I was not 20 anymore. There comes a time in every (self-respecting) woman’s life when she has to set herself up on the trajectory she wants her life to take. If A+B=C, then if you want C, you sure as hell better have A and B put into place. This can be in regards to career, marriage, children, etc. (applicable throughout).

I think we do women (and men) a disservice by thinking it’s controlling or desperate to talk about certain realities or to want certain things, or like Mindy, to make decisions based on these same things. And these things are not other people’s opinions or arbitrary societal timelines, they are our own desires or plans God has for our purpose and life.

Truly, I think that looking at reality, being aware and taking bold steps that take us in the direction we want to go are some of the most important things we can do for ourselves. While there are so many factors we can’t control in life, there are factors and decisions we can control. People seem to sort of wander through life and do things simply because it seems like a natural/reluctant next step, but that can turn into a passive life filled with missed opportunities.

I have seen a lot of empowered women this year. Women who left jobs, took jobs, broke up with boyfriends, left everything to do mission, got off birth control to try to have children, etc. They went after their purpose without fear, and respected themselves enough to leave behind whatever wasn’t joining or supporting them. Even if it was scary. My admiration goes out to these women.

This year, I too, like Mindy, have reflected a lot on where I want to be soon. And like Mindy, I acknowledge that I am not 20 anymore, and I don’t have years of my life to put on pause.

I bought furniture, started aggressively saving and doing research… It’s a mind-blowing thing when you realize, whoa, you aren’t 20 anymore. #adulting

Read a TON

The MTA (NYC public transport) is a freaking Odyssey. Always have a book on you. My boyfriend got me a Kindle for our last anniversary, and I have read so many books on it. He also has this gift of seeing a cover and picking the best books from random people we have never heard of, so I borrow a lot. I would say 90% of what I read was edifying and incredible. Reading is knowledge. I love my mornings where I read, and then stare out of the train window, while I quietly process things in my head. Never a minute wasted.


Ok. I need to pick up my clothes from the drier and keep cleaning. This was a short mental break.

This was my short list of things I learned and changed in, in the past year. I am excited for more growth in this new year. I am so blessed and grateful. God is so good. I know His plan for my life continues to unfold, day-by-day. Of this I am sure. His plan is unfolding for your life, too. Drop me a line, and let me know what lessons you have learned in your past year.


Published by Gabriela Yareliz

Gabriela is a writer, editor and attorney. She loves the art of storytelling, and she is based in NYC.

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