All-Consuming Fire

[Photo by Hans Isaacson on Unsplash]

By: Gabriela Yareliz

Fire has always been familiar. As someone who grew up camping, I saw it often. We also used it a lot at church gatherings, so there is that. I saw how it would grow into a steady flame, how it warmed food and snacks. I heard stories in its glow. I felt its warmth on cold nights. The crackle was always a bit hypnotic. It was a place of gathering. Not always for friends, but definitely for those who were familiar. I remember moments of silence by a fire and moments where I extended my arms toward it to warm my hands; also moments of laughter and moments of worship (someone always had a guitar, the most portable instrument in the world, I suppose).

Its warmth was real. Its warning of danger was real. Its light was real. In recent years, I felt the yearning to go camping, stronger and stronger. I miss seeing the stars at night, the rustle of the trees, an occasional raccoon stealing sustenance, and the fleece cocoon of a sleeping bag. Mostly, I miss the bonfire moments, sparks flying up to the heavens.

God is described as an all-consuming fire in Scripture. Mostly, it is a description of His holiness. It is also not lost on me that anything that touches fire is radically transformed. God leaves nothing unchanged. These are the things that come to mind on the nights filled with stars, where I take my sticky marshmallow off the knobby stick and wedge it between two graham crackers and a tiny piece of chocolate gets goopy. These are the thoughts I ponder as the fire dies down and the night grows cold. There is a force in the world that doesn’t grow cold or stop burning. His warmth and light are inextinguishable.

Even when the fire has gone out, even when the campgrounds have been far– His warmth that I learned to feel in those moments has never departed.

November 2022 Favorites

Elon is crashing Twitter, Kanye is exposing the illuminati, Ghislaine is drafting her memoir, Trump is back to causing mayhem, and Biden still doesn’t know he’s been elected. The drama level is so high.” Jessica Kraus (@houseinhabit)

That quote above basically sums it up. November felt like a short month with too much to do. The month started with the anticipation of election day. I was disappointed in the general apathy of the general public, as expected.

The World Cup is weirdly in winter– it just feels wrong. (Rooting for the motherland-Spain). I wrapped up Christmas shopping (I can’t do the anxiety-filled December shopping). The Chosen, as I write this, sits at #3 in the box office, and I am so excited to watch Season 3.

Balenciaga, who earlier cut ties with Kanye due to “antisemitism,” decided it would take the moral high ground and feature a holiday ad campaign that sexualizes children. No celebrities have expressed outrage, of course (also as expected). Jessica Kraus’ coverage of the Weinstein trial has been FIRE. Hulu is onto me and my hopes for a free trial, and every Christmas movie on the platform looks lame (so take that, Hulu!). Back to The Holiday.

Melissa Wood Health has redone its platform, and I am super excited about it. Congrats to Melissa! Been a member now for years and ready to have more fun working out.

We approach deep winter, now. We have had strange warmer weather, so far. Very mild. I hope we see some snow stick at some point. Wouldn’t that be magical? Has it snowed where you are? Buffalo was drowning in snow, just the other day…

Before December takes over with Christmas music full blast, I leave you with my November favorites.

November’s top post was The Libraries.

December awaits…


A truly elegant taste is generally accompanied by excellence of heart.” Fielding

“What is ahead of me is worth healing for.” Nakeia Homer

Practice not freaking out as you watch the unexpected circumstances God brings unfolding in front of you.” Bob Goff

“Whenever you are fed up with life, start writing; ink is the great cure for all human ills, as I have found out long ago.” C.S. Lewis (On Writing)

Surround yourself with relentless humans. People who plan in decades, but live in moments. Train like savages, but create like artists. Obsess in work, relax in life. People who know this is finite, and choose to play infinite games. Find people going up mountains. Climb together.” Zach Pogrob

“While the world changes, the cross stands firm.” St. Bruno

“You gotta start believing that your morning commute is cute and fun, that every cup of coffee is the best you’ve ever had. That even the smallest and most mundane things are exciting and new. You have to because that’s when you start truly living. That’s when you look forward to every day.” Gregg Braden

“Be careful what you learn for that is what you will know.” Annie Dillard

If people are uncomfortable because of your boldness, you’re on the right track.” Bob Goff

Following Jesus means being constantly misunderstood.” Bob Goff

“It’s time we stopped acting like our failures somehow disqualify us from God’s love, when in reality these setbacks might lead to a keener awareness of it.” (screenshot from my Kindle, I forgot the book).

Until we believe that life is war, we will not know what prayer is for.” John Piper

“All get what they want; they do not always like it.” C.S. Lewis, The Magicians Nephew

“Ne jamais regretter d’avoir reve trop fort, se tromper est le seul risque– et alors? Demain matin sera un jour nouveau, un jour pour faire autrement s’il le faut, et vivre, vivre.” Charlotte Husson

“Let’s face it: most people who vote are not ‘well informed’. They have little interest even in debate because they’re already convinced that their duty is to vote up and down the entire ticket for one of two corrupted tribes. When it comes to measures that aren’t already designated to a party, all the average voter wants is for someone else to tell them what to do.” Rob Herring

Yes, hurt people might hurt others. But fortunately, free people free others. Safe people shelter others. Enlightened people illuminate others. And love always wins.” Vex King

Now more than ever we must pick ourselves up and rise to the occassion.” @therealrukshan


These Wellness Candles look so neat. On my list to try.

The Laila Gohar collab with Byredo.


Starting an upward spiral.

A Food52 guide to cozy weekends.

People I am Intrigued By

Daphne Oz

[Image via TheHowToZone]

Rob Dyrdek

(loved this podcast with him)

[Image via TSC Podcast]

A Lunar Pull

By: Gabriela Yareliz

Listen, I can’t give you the exact information I read in the almanac, partly because I don’t know it by memory (and the book is across the studio, and I am too lazy to get up), and partly because I have only been reading an almanac for a year. I am dweeby like that, but slow to recall.

One thing I have found most fascinating is the section on planting and the moon. I know, I know. They say there is “no scientific evidence” for planting by the moon, but what people consider “science” is a bit suspect these days. Anecdotal evidence and experience is good enough for me. Isn’t that how the biggest scientific discoveries came to be? People paying attention to patterns emerging over time. And if the people from like Little House on the Prairie lived by it, who am I to argue with that? I mean, please, I get my produce from Gourmet Fresh.

In an almanac, you will find that there is a description of the fact that there are days in the month, where because of the moon, you plant above ground. Then, on other days, you plant below ground. And then, in another part of the monthly cycle, you let things be still, and you prune and clean.

Just like the moon, there are seasons that pull us out or they draw out our energy and talent in different ways. Some seasons, they pull us in. They are seasons of nurishment and preparation. And in other moments, we just need to be still and clear away any distractions, baggage and clutter.

The moon is an interesting friend. She is one thing we can all look up at, and we see the same moon. Her light connects us all; her pull is felt by all.

Just Following

I saw the image that captures a scene from The Chosen (above), and I found it to be so profound.

We live in a world where we treasure certainty. When I speak to people in my age bracket, it seems to be the thing everyone wants. Everyone wants to be sure of something, maybe because it promises authority over another or it promises to remove the discomfort we fear.

I think this is why so many people went along with the pandemic policy disasters that were so heavily promulgated. This desire to have concrete answers (and the pretending to have them) is something one sees in many religious circles. We pride ourselves thinking we have all the answers. There is an arrogance to that.

And yet, to me, Jesus doesn’t ask us to be sure about all things and to have all the answers. When we look at the men who walked with God physically, they certainly didn’t. It was as James so truthfully tells John— he was convicted of who Jesus is, but that didn’t mean he understood all of His words or why He did things.

What if we simplified things and simply held onto the fact that we know who He is. What if we were humble enough to accept that there is so much that doesn’t make sense to us, but that is ok. Our role is to follow Him because we know who He is and where that ultimately leads, which is eternal life. Everything in between will be filled with uncertainty and be incomprehensible at times. And that is okay; we are mere mortals.

We just need to keep walking with Him. We listen. We observe, and we just keep following.

The Libraries

[Image via The University of Cambridge]

Thinking of autumn reminds me of wandering libraries. I have wandered many. There was the large one in Gainesville with all of the movie/DVD shelves. I would browse, waiting for my computer ticket number to come up so I could check my email at one of their computers. There was the large one in Ocala that had shelves and shelves of magazines. I would pick one up and sit at one of the large tables to flip through and dream. I loved their Spanish books section where I discovered Jorge Bucay and Paulo Coelho. There was the mystery book section where the covers always intrigued me, but never enough.

Then, there was the university library. It had these magical shelves that moved. I would take the footnotes from a lecture and look up the books to read them. I could renew them endlessly because no one cared. I loved the basement with maps, and the quiet lost rooms with rare books and wooden detailing in the walls. Then, there was the law library. It was illuminated by the soft glow of the table lamps, silence masking the savagery of some who would come to rip out pages to hoard knowledge.

No matter what library I found myself in, autumn was a season of knowledge and books. I stare at my shelves in my studio and smile. My shelves don’t move, and my books have all of their pages, but the stack awaits me still.

October 2022 Favorites

[Kate Moss and Johnny Depp via Pinterest]

Elon Musk tweeted, “The bird is freed.” Is it really? The Twitter deal is complete. (Insert Honey Badger laughter here– if you know, you know).

The month felt like it went by fast. The nights are longer and darker. Winter is at our doorstep. This month was more of a You’ve Got Mail month, but we are headed to the months where The Holiday movie is appropriate. I have grown to have an appreciation for the colder nights that invite us into more rest.

This month, I made a bean soup I am completely addicted to, from Rainbow Plant Life. Find it here. You’re welcome.

I reflected on wonder and autumn light. I am also moving through a writing course ever so slowly and learning about ayurveda from One Commune courses. We are closer to election day, and the more I speak with people and ask questions, the more I realize a good chunk of the electorate is quite uninformed (or misinformed). And I am not talking about points we disagree on, I am saying they literally don’t know facts and what people running actually stand for in their own words. It’s like we live life on assumptions these days. God helps us. I think it is like everything in life, we tend to believe what we want rather than giving an earnest glance at what is actually right in front of us.

I have a stack of Southern Living and Country Living magazines I want to flip through. I want to be ready to soak up all of the amazing fall photography.

Christmas is on the radar, and I am thinking of advent devotionals and candles. Memorable events from the month included a date night at a favorite restaurant and progress with wedding planning. Yes!

My goal for November is to wake up earlier, to wear more of my closet and plan ahead, and to make more soups. Does anyone have a potato soup recipe that can rival Outback’s? If so, drop it in the comments. I am interested! (Yes, I totally just made a pivot to talk about soup again).

As usual, I compile my favorite things from the things I read and watched throughout the month. You can find these below. We had no top post for October. It was a three-way tie among Autumn Morning on the Train, How to Shake off the Week, and My French Library. Thank you always for reading and for your lovely messages. We take a step toward winter, together. Off we go.


There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures. -Shakespeare

I hold a beast, an angel, and a madman in me.” Dylan Thomas

“Without discipline, you live as a shell of the person you know you can be. And that’s a horrible way to live.” Grant Cardone

“Living a spiritual life isn’t about moving past the pain and suffering, but instead embracing it.” Gabrielle Bernstein

“Why else are we here if not to live with unreasonable passion for things?” Unknown

Sometimes, I want to scream at New York City, but then I just walk the ten blocks home.” Delia Ephron

“If a person doesn’t have self-discipline they won’t hold others accountable.” Erwin McManus

The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances. If there is any reaction, both are transformed.” C.G. Jung

“Speak with honesty, think with sincerity, and act with integrity.” Unknown

“Someone with half your IQ is making 10x as you because they aren’t smart enough to doubt themselves.” Ed Latimore

People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of their character.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“This is the only poem I can read. I am the only one who can write it. I didn’t kill myself when things went wrong. I didn’t turn to drugs or teaching. I tried to sleep. But when I couldn’t sleep, I learned to write. I learned to write what might be read on nights like this by one like me.” Leonard Cohen

What is a rebel? A man who says no.” Albert Camus

“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.” Galileo Galilei

“Create a culture in which it is okay to make mistakes and unacceptable not to learn from them.” Ray Dalio

“Without God, there is no virtue because there is no prompting of the conscience… without God, there is a coarsening of the society; without God, democracy will not and cannot long endure.” Ronald Reagan

Johnny told me: ‘We go out to dinner, put on a dress.’ I replied, ‘I do not have a dress.’ I was in a satin dress to the floor, and he picked up scissors and cut it to its knees. I still keep this piece. The same as our love. It was real.” Kate Moss

“Our hearts were meant to beat together, not the same.” Bob Goff

“Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages for your own joy.” Jack Kerouac

When we don’t know our Master’s heart, we bury in fear what we should multiply in faith.” Lisa Bevere


It was Kanye’s month. Kitson Los Angeles made a “Team Kanye” shirt. He was everywhere this month, in good and bad headlines. Every week, there was something new. I appreciate Jessica Kraus’ analysis of what is happening on the Ye front. It applies to more than just the Kanye scandals:

“There are a handful of valuable conversations we could be opening up right now about racism and mental health but instead we go straight to what is easiest: call out, cancel & divide. I refuse. So if you are tagging me, feeling justified in calling me terrible things because I didn’t repost the prescribed slides, I want to say that I see (and reject) your methods. I do not support antisemitism in any form, but I do believe conversations over cancellations is the key to progress through unity.

We should absolutely be talking about why antisemitism still exists today, but also, maybe, why black on black crime is so celebrated and profitable in the music industry if we are disgusted by race-inflicted stereotypes perpetuating violence. Things are complicated. Social media wants you to believe you can solve it with a recycled post, but we all know it takes us nowhere. You want Adidas to cancel Kanye? Fine, but then what? The divide (especially during elections) only profits the politicians who quite literally DGAF about any of us. Pay attention to what is decided for us. This is bigger than Kanye and an offensive tweet. It always is.”

The piece by the Canadian ethics professor for the Democracy Fund, all about COVID, the lies and whether we will get accountability.

Intrigued by

Laila Gohar (food artist): I have written about her many times in the past. She still captivates me. She is one of those people who is an original. She was featured in The New Yorker recently, here.

Charlotte Husson: Writer, fashionista, founder and cancer survivor. I am currently reading her book, L’impossible est mon espoir.

Is November calling you? Will Twitter be revolutionized? (Maybe slowly?) Will Kanye behave and stop provoking? (Probably never?) Will we elect the right people for the job? (I hope so). I guess we will have to wait and see.

Some months are for questions and others have answers. Every month brings a new beginning and a clean slate.

How to Shake Off the Week

“Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy.” Psalm 126:5

Today was a rough day. I won’t go into the details. I will pick up where I left off on Monday. But as I felt the overwhelm and edginess that comes with the feeling of being chewed and spit out, I sat on my couch and reviewed the last couple of passages I had read over the past month. My eyes fell on this verse again in Psalm 126. It meant something to me then, and still does.

I keep wondering what the recipe is for shaking off the week before Sabbath. How do we rest and forget about the insanity we just got dragged through? I think I learned the answer tonight. As I was studying the Bible, my mind drifted for a second to my worries. I got lost in my thoughts in the silence I have been craving all day.

I then thought, what if Jesus (and yes, I pictured Him like the one on The Chosen) was sitting across from me right now? How would He look at me? What would He say?

I thought of the kindness I would see in His eyes. The compassion, and the reminder that so many of my worries are resolvable or out of my control and in His. I would realize this was nothing compared to eternity. And suddenly, my perspective shifted. I felt focused. I felt free. And I felt loved.

The week lifted like a fog, and the sun rays warmed me and pierced right through. This exercise reminded me, He is near; I know this. So maybe, I should act like it.


By: Gabriela Yareliz

It had been a rainy day and the bus was delayed. I was the only one waiting for it. Maybe the transit people somehow knew it was just me and decided I wasn’t worth stopping for. Idiots, I thought to myself. I looked around me as if there was some hidden camera recording my ennui. No camera, and still, no bus. I looked down at my brown boots, the tiny yellow leaves carpeting the concrete below. As I looked down, I heard the sirens at a distance, and then closer, and closer, their red glow was the only bright light apart from a dull street lamp that was struggling for its life. I caught the reflection of the bright lights on the metallic silver tape striping a disfigured orange traffic barrel. I was exhausted. I glanced over at a shop two storefronts down. They had outdoor furniture, scarecrows and mums decorating the sidewalk just in front. I eyed the chair and decided to claim it for the time being.

I walked over as if asking for a favor, glancing back furtively. Still no bus in sight. I grabbed the plastic green chair that was on display and sat down. I dubbed it my public bench. I relaxed into the plastic that was hammocking my bottom, and moved my backpack to my lap. I was now part of the display. Night had fallen early, reminding us that winter was on its way. The mums shone like little suns we had felt absent during the overcast rainy day. On that cool autumn night, they warmed me somehow. They seemed to smile sympathetically, offering an apology for the weather, and I accepted their humble offer.

[Fiction inspired by a scavanger assignment for my Autumn Light (Beth Kempton) writing course]

Seeking Wonder

Image via Pinterest

By: Gabriela Yareliz

Oh yes, the season is here. The other day, I woke up and heard the faint bouncing of a basketball at 7 am. Probably the cute Asian kid that lives next door. It was that rhythmic bounce on a slab of concrete in the middle of their tiny backyard. Their net is right on the fence area, which means that sometimes, when the kid misses, I have seen him climb the fence to retrieve the ball. The morning was cold. I did not want to leave my bed’s warmth. I peeked out from the covers and saw the foggy and chilly sunrise emerging.

I remembered those chilly days in PE when we would be doing the same, bouncing a basketball. I remember running laps outside and how the cold air would make your throat burn if you didn’t breathe properly. The side aches, the feet pounding the pavement, the wet grass on both sides of the track.

Image via Pinterest

I’ve been remembering a lot. I came across an image on Pinterest, sort of vintage, of children peering into a toy store that is ready for Christmas. It reminded me of Samantha, from American Girl, when she first sees the doll she wants in the window. I remembered how, in this season, the toy companies would flood us with commercials and catalogs so that we would include our little desires on Christmas lists to Santa. If I had to use one word to describe winter sunrises and toy store windows adn the excitement of the season– it would be “wonder.”

Here’s a question, one that has nothing to do with materialism– when was the last time you felt wonder? And I don’t mean for a new purse, shoes or a new toy. No. I mean true wonder, where you were left sort of mouth-wide-open and impressed?

If it has been a while, slow down, pay close attention and be present. Feel the life pulsating through you and see the light around you. Leave something to chance. Remove a bit of the hardness and cynicism that settles in occasionally, and open the heart and emotions to what could surprise you.

It is the season of wonder.

I was waiting for the ‘C’ train but the ‘A’ kept coming…

By: Gabriela Yareliz

Sometimes, it is not faster to travel on the train. There are places where the train simply doesn’t go. It goes in circles but doesn’t cross through the circle. The inside of the Brooklyn circle requires walking.

I was standing on the platform waiting for the ‘C’ train, but there were delays. The ‘A’ kept coming, and nothing on the local tracks. I was sweating bullets; my raincoat sticking to me.

Due to the train delays and the fact that I was going to the inside of the circle, I decided to walk to my next destination. I walked along the streets, finding that places I had seen from a passenger seat of a car looked different up close, with me on the sidewalk. When I felt a pedestrian sharing the way was coming closely behind me or invading personal space (as is custom in NYC due to the volume of people and uneven walkways), my fingers would curl around the vial of pepper spray in my pocket, I was ready for anything.

On this particular day, it was raining. The leaves glowed yellow and the lamp posts on the parkway were lit. I saw an elegant elderly black couple walking toward me, under their umbrella saying inaudible things to each other, and I relaxed into my walking cadence. I quickly turned to see if anyone was behind me, and no. No one.

I passed a portable restroom (port o potty) that was probably jacked from an actual construction site. It was chained to a tree. I was intrigued and celebrated the notion of a public restroom for passerbys but there was no way I would approach it. Maybe it was a hiding place for drugs. Maybe, someone lived in there. I scurried forward in the downpour.

I saw the makeshift vendor market under the tents and realized I had arrived faster than anticipated to the area to which I was headed. I was hungry and tired of holding my umbrella. My allergies had made it so that I could barely open my eyes. I wanted to sit, and be left alone. I wanted to sneeze without judgment.

I opened my phone and looked for anything open. Everything looked closed. There was a “Pretty Girl” shop that sold cheap dollar garments. There was a group of men loudly chatting in front of it. I wondered who thought these garments were adequeate and not a waste of precious dollars. Cheap clothes, in the end, is always expensive.

I balanced my umbrella against my chest and discretely searched on my phone any local food place that might be open. The night was falling on the area, and it was dark. I stood under a wig store awning that sold colorful wigs and also leotards that looked fit for a stripper. Nothing was open except a small cafe down the way. I walked up to an intersection where the rain had gathered into a lake. Luckily, I had my rain boots because there was no way around this moat. I stepped right in.

I continued to walk. I passed a young man in a black hoodie. In his hand was an orange arrow (yes, like from an archery set). He was walking like he was on a mission with that arrow. I was confused and decided to ignore him. I continued to walk the blocks wondering how much farther I would need to go. I passed delis and random smoke shops.

Finally, a bright light. I saw a Haitian flag and heard the loud music. I heard a young woman inside yell, “Alexa, play Chris Brown radio.” The speaker started playing Chris Brown, and the woman behind the counter hollered, “Oh yes, where did he go?” The song was familiar. It reminded me of high school, sitting in my best friend’s car with her iPod plugged in.

I ordered a crepe and sat at the counter stools where there was a window. I watched the outdoor dining drown in the nonstop rain. A Grubhub sign fell over, and I leaned down to pick it up. As I looked up, I saw some feet dancing. My eyes continued to follow this dancing body, when I realized it was the young man in the black hoodie. He was doing some kind of cool dance to the Chris Brown song. In his hand was the orange arrow. He did a little show and continued to dance in the doorway. The employees behind the counter cheered.

I headed back to the window stools where I was invisible. I was exhausted. Behind me was a fridge full of strawberries. I sat there in the nostalgic music, rain coming down, and I felt like I was in a daze. I smiled as the young man finished his dance, and he walked out into the rain, made a right turn and then faded into the dark of the night with the bright arrow clutched in his right hand.

[A New York City vignette.]