Friday Thoughts: July 16, 2021

I’ll tell you one thing for sure, once you get to the point where you are actually doing things for truth’s sake, then nobody can ever touch you again because you are harmonizing with a greater power.” George Harrison

Storm watch

Where have I been? I know, I was AWOL. It has been a summer of raging heat waves and thunderstorms. There are summers that are stormier than others. It fills me with nostalgia for the first summer my family and I spent in Florida, which was followed by an insane hurricane season of 4 hurricanes in 6 weeks. (2004 was a stormy year, what can I say?) Ty Gibson recently wrote on Instagram that when it storms, he has to go outside and feel the rain on him. (I am assuming he wouldn’t do this if there is lightning– but who knows). He said that his grandma always said, “When there’s a storm, we go outside cuz that’s where the fun is.” It made me think about how when it storms, we seek shelter, but maybe the storm is where it’s at. Perhaps, it’s in the middle of fear and uncertainty that we find life.

Currently reading…

I have been growing and learning a lot. I have been reading a ton. Currently, I am reading: No Pain, No Gaines (Chip Gaines) [It’s a good one. Haven’t read a Gaines book I didn’t like], Under the Southern Sky (Kristy Woodson Harvey) [I like Kristy– this one is not my fav. I like the Peachtree Bluff series. This one is too predictable, in an absurd way. Regardless, I will finish it and want to support her. She is great], and Claudia and the Sad Good-bye (Yep, The Baby-Sitters Club– major throwback. Reading this with some friends) [*sobbing* be right back].

Risky business

I took a risk assessment test. It measures how much of a risk-taker you are. The average is a 6.3 for women (6.5 for men), and I tested at an 8.3. I realized I often don’t see the world in the same way many others do. Apparently, if you hand me a parachute, I will jump. I would rather fail than not try. I don’t quit. I think this lines up with (and explains) my life pretty well. I think that’s what happens when you have the God of the universe by your side. You jump (and He is right there with you).

Weekend from hell

What else, what else? I had a bizarre experience of spending an infernal weekend with a guest who I am convinced is part of a cult. It was a wild ride of a weekend. Would not do that again. We should make a “How to be a Decent Guest” checklist. Anyone down for that post?

Anger

I was talking to a friend, and I was reminded of how much of our anger can stem from our hurts, and quite frankly, our being rejected. Now, I will only talk for myself, so here is an excerpt from my journal:

“Could it be that our anger stems from being rejected, and we just want to be validated by certain people? We want to be wildly pursued; our company cherished. When you experience the opposite of that from someone you love, it’s hard. Truly, only God can validate who we are and give us a whole identity. The plain fact is– I need to remember I am deeply and wildly loved. We all are. So, act accordingly.”

Wishing you a beautiful weekend. School in the South starts in two weeks, y’all. I know, I know, I am in NYC. But truly, while I am not in the South, the South is always in me. xx

My Goggles

By: Gabriela Yareliz

Tonight, I was transported back to the early 2000s. (I watched How to Deal). I know I take you back there a lot, and I think it’s because there was a purity to how unique we were then. We had to be, in a world with no social media or influencers. We just sat on the bleachers and invented ourselves.

We were young and living outside of the boxes of professions and expectations.

At that time, I was taking Industrial Arts. In the class, I inherited some goggles that looked like aviator nerd glasses. My best friend and I decided these were so cool and decided to wear them outside of the class. We were wearing wood-working goggles outside of class. No one could convince us that this was ridiculous. (I was an obnoxiously overly confident member of the school newspaper staff— and thus felt I knew what the world was about). Our teacher let me keep the goggles.

There was no social media to document our choice in fashion. We didn’t care who liked them or who didn’t. It was a period of full ownership and so much freedom. I distinctly remember wearing the goggles while staring out of the passenger window in my dad’s Jeep while listening to Suga Suga (Baby Bash and Frankie J) playing on the radio. The dark grey Ohio sky looming above us. Me, feeling like a giant middle finger to the world.

Maybe, I feel that period so intensely because I had a lot of grief in me. We walk on the earth while it is spinning, and we feel nothing. Emotionally, when our worlds fall apart, our world stops. This sudden halt leaves us swaying in a search for balance that ultimately knocks us off our feet for a while. We must learn to crawl and then walk again, as our world then suddenly starts to move forward. Tickets to a carousel ride we never wanted.

In the midst of finding my footing in my baby steps— I had my tool kit. It was the time of Sarah Dessen books, Hilary Duff CDs, those thin black rubber bracelets, and the golden age of Teen Vogue and dELiA*s catalogs. Man, I miss it. This era ushered in my pixie cut and black nail polish phase.

I carried those goggles with me all the way to Florida, as we started over during my parent’s divorce. This wasn’t the first time I had moved (probably the 100th time); but it was probably the first time that I didn’t feel the need to reinvent myself. I really did like who I was then. So the goggles were there with me in my grey multi-pocket dEliA*S messenger bag that I had gotten for $5 at the Cincinnati mall.

Yesterday, I got a micro trim on my (very long) hair. My stylist for the day (not my usual hair dresser— yep, I cheated on my salon) did a great job on the cut and blow dry. She did it all in style; her petite figure towering in wedge heels and her bangles clinking with every wrist flick. She got an A+ on that. She talked some serious sh*t about my incoming grey hair; and I left feeling not so great about a part of myself I had decided to own. (She got an F for the bad vibes imparted). She was savage about it. The unease stayed with me a bit longer than expected.

All this to say, there are such important lessons we can take from our past. From our boldest and most sincere moments. From the moments when we didn’t just learn to walk again on moving ground, but from the moments where we got up and ran. We ran with all our might. We ran feeling our beating hearts in our calves as our feet hit the hot pavement. Blood rushing to our heads and the coppery taste in the back of our throats, with a little rib ache on the side. Running hard. Running fast. Running forward. Not caring who saw.

I know that when my world started spinning again (a long time ago), I got up and ran this path hard, fast and bold. And you better believe I was wearing those damn goggles. When I need a little bit of courage to brush off whatever comes my way; when I need a little reminder to be unapologetically me— they make an appearance in my mind. I dig through that grey dELiA*S bag and whip them out. You can’t see them, but I am wearing the goggles, still.

Because when I wear them, just as it was in my Industrial Arts class, nothing can hurt me. I look crazy, but I am so freakin’ happy.

I am safe.

Palme D’Or

Image via Pinterest

By: Gabriela Yareliz

I loved reading about when Sally Field went to Cannes, in her book In Pieces. She talks about how she was dating Burt Reynolds (yes, the Burt Reynolds) and was sort of lost in that relationship. She was invited to Cannes because a film she had starred in, Norma, had been accepted into the festival.

When she told Reynolds she was going to Cannes, he had a fit. He asked her “what the hell” she intended to do there. He then told her he was disappointed because he wanted to show her those places. He tried to bully and “seduce” her out of the trip, and then punctuated his attempt with, “You don’t expect to win anything, do you?”

Field gathered herself and decided to go anyway. Thank God she did. She won the Palme d’Or and went on to win every award for best actresss in the U.S., including the Academy Award. (pg. 364)

I am glad she went. She was glad she went. Sometimes, we get lost in life. Sometimes in jobs, routine, family, relationships, people-pleasing– whatever it may be. And suddenly, we aren’t living anymore. We stop taking risks and having adventures. It’s a sad way to live. I think we all got a taste of what that feels like when the pandemic shut down everything.

We are sometimes clinging to safety, or as Field was, sort of bullied by circumstance or people around us into not believing in the magic of life. We grow cynical, disappointed and trapped.

When I read that Reynolds told her that she shouldn’t expect to win anything, I was seething. We all have a Reynolds voice in our lives. Sometimes, it’s a person (and if so, get far away); sometimes, it’s our own voice in our head; and sometimes, it’s just life.

Take the risk. Have the adventure. You may find yourself with a Palme D’Or, figuratively speaking– meaning, you will have won.

Autobiography

Image via Time Magazine

Virginia Woolf wrote:

“There is one peculiarity which real works of art possess in common. At each fresh reading one notices some change in them, as if the sap of life ran in their leaves, and with skies and plants they had the power to alter their shape and colour from season to season. To write down one’s impressions of Hamlet as one reads it year after year, would be virtually to record one’s own autobiography, for as we know more of life, so Shakespeare comments upon what we know.”

[Source:  Genius and Ink: Virginia Woolf on How to Read ]

If you could record your autobiography by reviewing one piece of literature, year after year, which piece of literature would you choose?

I think I would pick Mrs. Dalloway, one of Woolf’s own. That book changed my life. It’s about life, death and the beauty that is everywhere if we stop to look.

Sunday Girl: June 20, 2021

By: Gabriela Yareliz

Hi guys,

I built a plant stand this week for my little friends and started using my red light bulb in the evenings to wind down. It’s like the red light district in here. Kidding. But seriously, my studio has a Pigalle glow. Anyway, as I glow red *summon healing powers* here is the scoop…

Good Read

So, I am reading Sally Field’s biography, In Pieces. It’s so so well-written. And so damn sad. Wow. I don’t know much about her, but I remember her from Steel Magnolias and Mrs. Doubtfire. If you are looking for a good read, here’s a good one.

Image via Simon and Schuster

Nostalgia

Next, I wanted to discuss the fact that “DieHard” car batteries are available at Advanced Auto Parts. I am not kidding. And I saw an ad with a nostalgia clip referencing the film. This is a real thing. (I saw the ad and thought it was a joke, so I went and looked into it). Bruce Willis and everything. I cannot.

Quote

“The deepest secret in our heart of hearts is that we are writing because we love the world.” Natalie Goldberg

Games

I have been really into games, lately. I feel like we need more card and board games in a world of tv/movie streaming. I got Dutch Blitz (card game) and Clue (Office Edition). I will let you know how the old world gaming sessions unfold. I am excited to spend some time off-screen.

Podcast

I am so honored to have done a podcast episode with my friend Naseem. She has a fabulous nostalgia podcast called Nas-Talgia (a play on her name). We talked about Britney Spears, mental health, the controversial conservatorship and her Oops I Did It Again album. Check it out, here.

What were some of your week discoveries and favorites? xx

Sueñito

Image via Sky News

By: Gabriela Yareliz

Keep the sueñito (little dream) alive.

There has been a lot of backlash regarding In The Heights, with people mad at Lin-Manuel Miranda for the alleged “colorism” in the film, as many afro-latinos didn’t feel represented by the film. On the contrary, I want to point out that here we had a film that actually had actors of latino descent.

Miranda said that he created this musical, which really is a work of art, because he wanted to be seen. Miranda is not an afro-latino but a light-skinned Puerto Rican, such as myself (many have told me I don’t “look” latina– whatever that means). Rita Moreno went on record to say that her skin was darkened for the role of Anita in West Side Story. In a culture as diverse as ours, it’s natural for there to be an idea that doesn’t match reality. We all, at one point or another, don’t feel seen, but feel a pressure to conform to some outsider’s opinion or expectation.

Miranda apologized and said that he heard the frustrations of afro-latinos; he is kind like that. I don’t think he needed to apologize. This is someone who has done nothing other than uplift the entire community of color. Just look at his cast of Hamilton. I do take issue with a generation that seems to complain more than it acts to actually effect change (and no, an Instagram post or tweet doesn’t count).

What I found to be interesting is that there are a lot of people who wouldn’t feel represented by this film, not just afro-latinos, but American white people, Indian people, Chinese people, indigenous people (even those in Latin America), and the list can go on and on. And yet– I think this film is a message for all people. (Many note that it’s a film about a black neighborhood. I think we are missing the big picture. This film is about all of us everywhere– it’s not a documentary on the shift in demographics in Washington Heights).

As a latina, I’ll be the first to say that yes, representation matters, but one won’t always find it. This is a story so personal to Lin-Manuel. Let him tell his story, and let him be seen. He has that right. People want to take ownership of his story in the wrong ways, instead of receiving it with the same heart it has been given away with. People now have this thing where they believe everything has to represent everyone in the superficial sense. We need this skin color or this type of hair. I disagree with this. I grew up with a white-saturated media, and while my youth media consumption lacked representation, it taught me to identify with things not based on who looked like me but based on the deeper level of human story, emotion and struggle.

I worked at the University of Florida Phillips Center for Performing Arts. I don’t drink, and due to this, I passed up a position doing hospitality. This job would have required me to basically be a bartender and serve alcohol. I didn’t want to do this (serve alcohol), so instead, I got paid less and cleaned.

I remember when In The Heights came to the center for performing arts. The cast was kind when I would see them briefly as I cleaned up their dressing rooms. I’d wipe everything down, take out the trash and sweep. If we were efficient, we could stand at the side backstage and watch the performances before our next round of cleaning began. I remember standing there in the dark shadows of the side stage between the weighted thick curtains with my broom. I was a young university student just starting out, barely making minimum wage at this little side job on campus.

This year’s Puerto Rican Day Parade Special was sponsored by In The Heights and an ad came on for it at every commercial break. I was really proud to see this. I wasn’t searching the crowd for light or brown faces. I was just proud because it means something. Here is an inspiring film that tells us the value of community, hard work and dreams. A film that tells us that we are not powerless but can do anything we set our minds to. It tells a story of dignity.

I was raised believing this. Would it be nice if every film and every show showcased every aspect of a community? Sure. That would be lovely. But this is Miranda’s story. He wrote it. Maybe someday, a Dominican, dark-skinned Puerto Rican or afro-latino can write and produce his or her own story. It would be well-received and valued.

We shouldn’t tear down In The Heights. It brings us a timely message of empowerment. It shows us values that are universal. Ones we can treasure in our hearts, no matter the color of our skin or country of origin.

It’s a vibrant story about what is possible. One I know firsthand. When this musical was on stage, I was a student holding a broom. Now, it’s on the big screen, and I am an attorney. Miranda’s story can be all of ours, if we let it reach us on a deeper level. Keep dreaming. Keep being seen. Keep lifting others higher.

And if there is a gap, there will always be gaps. We need to rise to fill them, while honoring and protecting those who have come before us. One person cannot reflect the world. We each have a part to play. Lin-Manuel should be the protagonist of his own story. Being seen shouldn’t depend on the one person who was brave enough to put his own story out there. Have courage, and do the same in your own way.

My message to Lin-Manuel is taken from his own film: “ignore anyone who doubts you.” Your heart and mind have given us so much magic. Thank you.

The Way We Were

Image via Pinterest [Patricia Manfield and Giotto Calendoli]

By: Gabriela Yareliz

People magazine has a list of ‘100 Reasons to Love America’ this week. (I didn’t subscribe; but for some reason, I receive magazines to my address from them). Guess what #100 was? Ben Affleck and J.Lo. I laughed. While it’s a bit ridiculous, it reminded me of relationship nostalgia. Then, there was Angelina Jolie leaving her ex-husband’s house (Jonny Lee Miller), this week. Are exes trending? Is it a thing to go back to the familiar? And if you don’t, does the nostalgia for it remain? On the contrary, there are many cases where exes are best left in the past. Sometimes, even good things come to an end.

There are couples that sort of stay with us forever, and if they happen to re-emerge, even if it’s just to express good wishes to each other, it gives us some weird chill up the spine.

As I was thinking about exes that sometimes connect or cross paths… these are the ones that came to mind (not all of these are A-list celebrities. In fact, many were influencers and fashion people who came into the public eye together).

Blanca Suarez and Mario Casas

The Spanish actors have collaborated a lot. (There are always sparks). They had something going on in recent time, but then Suarez called it off. Gahh. Maybe it’s not totally over… *plays Jovenes Eternamente*

Image via lecturas.com

Chiara Ferragni and Riccardo Pozzoli

Both are happily married to other people and have families. We just honor the magic they made as a power couple, back in the day. Coincidentally, Ferragni announced and celebrated on June 17, 2021 that she is the 100% owner of her The Blonde Salad (the blog) empire (which she started with Pozzoli).

Image via Donnapop.it

Patricia Manfield and Giotto Calendoli

I was heavily invested in these two. Both were always on the fashion scene, especially fashion week. She had (or maybe still has) the little “G” and heart tattoo. They were iconic. And to be honest, still are. They pop up on each other’s photos/comments on IG, once in a while. The other day, Calendoli wished Manfield a happy birthday with a throwback photo. It’s a forever kind of love. #amore

Image via Pinterest

Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick

Both claim they have only been in love once. Maybe this will change now that Travis Barker and Amelia Hamlin are in the picture. The latest from KUWTK makes us feel like they are simply on hold while he gets his act together (unfair to their current partners). But things change all the time. Still, many hope they are endgame. Hopefully, no matter what happens, they both find happiness.

Image via The Cheat Sheet

Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis

It was love at first sight for them.

Depp said: “She was wearing a dress with an exposed back and I saw that back and that neck, and then she turned around and I saw those eyes, and – boom! My life as a single man was done.”

Paradis said: “The thing is, I loved him before I was with him, but we had met.”

They have both spoken highly of one another, always. Depp has seen some ugly accusations after they separated, but she always stood by him (as far as I have seen).

Image via Blogspot

Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci

She is one of the most beautiful women in the world, in my opinion. Post-divorce, Cassel married a woman half their age, but they remain one of the most iconic couples in European cinema.

Image via Pinterest

To Be a Writer

By: Gabriela Yareliz

What does it mean to be a writer?

Does it mean someone has to care about what you write? I am lucky enough to have people who do. Today, I saw someone ask a fairly popular person on social media a question–he/she wanted to do something, but he/she stated he/she didn’t have enough followers. The question was whether he/she should persist. The response was that following doesn’t equal a job title. I couldn’t agree more. One can be something in obscurity.

Half of the writers we celebrate today weren’t celebrated or followed by a soul. Emily Dickinson’s poems were found and published by her sister after the writer passed away. I mean, can you imagine? For Emily, it was just her, her pen, her window and thoughts of death. It’s wild to think about.

These thoughts reminded me of what a privilege and gift it is to connect to other writers on the platform. I love following people like CandidKay who publish posts of substance and offer excellent writing full of heart. You know, when you read something and your heart feels a bit more full than it was before because it has been touched by truth.

I hope you find rays of truth that warm your heart here.

Creators

By: Gabriela Yareliz

Image via meandmetime.com

I was doing a mini-course this week on the Commune platform by Koya Webb. She talks a lot about freedom, healing and she just seems so sweet and full of good energy.

She said something during the course that I loved, which is the fact that we are each “creators not victims.”

This is very much in line with Erwin McManus’ view of the creativity endowed to every child of God, just by virtue of being created in God’s image. We were all created to create, just as the ultimate Creator. I mean, look at the world around you. So much is man-made and pretty magical. God works through us in our creativity. It’s all for His glory.

I thought of how true her words are, especially if we take Christ as our example. Jesus was someone who sacrificed Himself for the salvation of the world. He was not a victim, but someone who gave Himself up, as the writers of the Gospels and Paul so specifically point out. Jesus was in control and making each choice along the way. What a reminder to us who want to follow in His footsteps. We are not victims but creators, as Ms. Webb has said. A thought to carry with us as we walk to meet every trial, every opportunity and every joy.

Storage

Edward Berthelot + Getty Images

By: Gabriela Yareliz

We often think of movement as something we need for our physical well-being, and while that is true, we often miss the deeper mind-body connection that occurs when we move. In 2014, I published a post called A Philosophy of Walking: Living Deeply, where I quoted philosopher and writer Gros stating that “to walk is to experience the real.”

Our bodies experience.

Julia Cameron writes in her book The Right to Write:

“We store memories in our bodies. We store passion and heartache. We store joy, moments of transcendent peace.”

Our bodies store.

As we move, as we experience the real, our bodies store up so much more than we can fathom. I truly believe that through movement, we are given the key to access that which we store in our miraculous broken vessels.