30 Things I’ve Learned in 30 Years

I wrote this on the plane– on my way to Hawaii for my 30th in December 2018. Excuse any grammar/mechanic errors. I was typing away and am working on editing– but I wanted to share it. Love y’all! Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave a comment or share any thing that stood out! -Yamileth

30 Things I’ve Learned

  1. Let go. Let go of anything that weighs your spirit down. Sometimes it means having difficult conversations or removing yourself from situations. 
  2. Love yourself. I use to have a lot of negative self talk. It was a foothold for the devil to control my day to day. It wasn’t so much appearance or anything major, but little things that added up. I let failures and sins become part of me when I was already forgiven. I would reminiscence on times when I fell short and felt unworthy to be in God’s presence. SCARY TIMES! But God is so good and faithful and has used friends and family to remind me that I am His daughter and am WORTH MORE than I feel sometimes. 
  3. Do not let jobs, friendships, family or anything else define you. I learned that daughter, teacher, student, sister, friend, etc. are all part of my identity and not who I am as a whole. I let school and so many other things distract me. I was happy but wasn’t. If that makes sense— I felt so blessed to have a job I love, friends, my family, but I felt like I was missing something— God. October of 2017 I started visiting Hope City and it was a GAMECHANGER! Experiencing the Holy Spirit has been an unbelievable experience. The crazy thing is that I have always felt called for more and once I focused on what mattered— my relationship with God— I knew it was the Holy Spirit talking to me the entire time. I love all the descriptions mentioned above, but above all, I am daughter of a King, I am a lover of Christ, and everything else follows. FREEDOM. 
  4. Find at least one thing you are passionate about. 
  5. Do something that scares you often. 
  6. Listen. Listen more and talk less. I am a talker. Anyone who knows me—knows I can talk. In this season I have learned to listen— to silence my own voice. This is like #2— I would never say negative things about me outloud— but in my head— I have ripped myself apart and built myself up in the same breath. I think this is why certain things don’t phase me as much. 
  7. Tell people you love them. Hug them. Text them. Life is short. Let those you love know you love them and love people in general. What do you gain from hating? LOVE changes everything. So text someone and tell them you love them— right now! 
  8. Apply moisturizer. Older you will thank you.
  9. Find the balance between “Treat yo self” and saving. This one is hard. We live in a society that is buy, buy, buy and then buy some more. If you like it, get it. If you can live without it or have one already— then maybe pass. Save and spend money on creating memories. You will NEVER regret a trip. Even when I have had something crazy happen, I have learned something. Every trip taught me something about myself. 
  10. Travel. Be a tourist in your own city. Go to the museum. Go to that city you have always wanted to go to! “Traveling in expensive Yams!” It can be but there are ways to budget and get places! In 2017— maybe 2016— I opened a savings account and had $100 pulled from my check. I got paid twice month. $100 x 2= $200 and in a year I had $2,400. Sometimes I would transfer a little extra— sometimes an extra $100 other times just $10 but it added up. I know everyone’s situation is different, but I promise it all adds up! Even if you did $25 every check which is probably a meal out, if you get paid twice a month it would be $600 in a year— with no effort! 
  11. Save money. Always have a rainy day fund because it will rain! 
  12. Clothing—Prints are fun but basics are more practical. I use to love a good print. I love animal print, flowers, dots, ANYTHING! However, I realized I wouldn’t wear the clothes as much or often because— NO WAY would I repeat an outfit! I would not repeat outfits at school… I took pride in my fashion sense… and I could afford to do so. I worked hard for my money so why not— the infamous TREAT YO SELF… I stopped shopping in fall on 2017.. I would only buy things I needed and I tried picking neutrals that would be versatile. I would estimate that helped me save a few hundred too. (Related to #10 on saving)
  13. Trends come and go. Wear whatever you want from whatever store. If you shop at Gucci, great! If you shop at my favorite boutique Target, great! WHO CARES! You have clothes on your back and shoes on your feet. Feel free to judge me— I would be embarrassed sometimes that I shopped at like Ross or similar stores.. I KNOW! HOW RIDICULOUS. I was younger and ridiculous. I went to school where brands mattered— and actually— WHO CARES WHERE I GOT IT! IT WAS THE SAME THING! I was so ridiculous. Trying to fit in with people who didn’t even like me anyway. I also attribute this to friends who shop in those stores and could care less— yah.. got this at Ross— $9.99! 
  14. I use to dislike my personality. I know— I was made to feel like it was too much. I remember girls in middle school being so mean to me.. Even in high school, I can remember wondering if I was too much.. FAST FORWARD— I love my personality. I know for a FACT that God gave me my personality so I could step out and travel, to teach abroad, to do missions, to teach, to coach, and so much more. I wish I could tell 13 year old me how amazing life is now. Not that I rejoice, but those girls peaked in high school— I will leave that there. 
  15. Apologize. I was not always the person I am now.. I had my fair share of moments where I could have been nicer. A lot of those moments happened in college and they weighed my spirit down for years. I wasn’t a mean girl—I knew what it was like to be around them— but I wasn’t the nicest. I did apologize to some people I wronged, but others I had to let go because I would beat myself up about it. #1 Let it go. 
  16. Accept help. Do not be proud. I use to try to do everything myself. There is power in community. 
  17. You really do reap what you sow. I think about the times when I knew I was reaping the blessings.
  18. Prayers are always answered, and sometimes the answer may not be what you want. I remember praying for it to work out with this guy. Let’s be honest— I’ve prayed that a few times. HA ! DODGED THOSE BULLETS! 
  19. Seasons. There will be times when things don’t make sense. TRUST that God’s plan is greater than yours. Easier said than done. 
  20. Friendships. This one kind of ties in with #19 but it’s okay to let go of friendships that are dead. There have been friends who I have stepped away from or vice versa and it was healthy. DO NOT CLING ON to these.  
  21. Mejor sola que mal acompañada. Every Latino will tell you this. It is so true. It is better to be alone than with bad company. A lot of numbers overlap— love yourself enough to know when it is time to walk away from friendships or relationships. 
  22. Learn your body. Many know I’m lactose intolerant and have never really taken it seriously. There was a year—2016— when my health was rough. I did not love myself enough to avoid things that were affecting me. I made sure to let everyone know I was lactose intolerant and could feel the looks when I had dairy. I have since started listening to my body and avoid certain things. 
  23. Drink water. Drink it daily. Drink it. Drink it. Drink it. 
  24. Slow down to enjoy the small things. I lost sight of the beauty of day to day. I was on survival mode most of 2015-2017. I was fine. I was just constantly doing something. Once I started focusing on my relationship with God, I started to see the beauty again. The fog was lifted and I could see again. I can remember crying a few times when I woke up. I would cry when I saw orange hue in the sunrise. I would tear up when a student said thank you for teaching me. I would cry listening to worship music because I forgot how LOVED I am. Slow down and enjoy the day to day because time is a thief. 
  25. Be proud of your culture. I remember there was a time when I wished I was Caucasian because life seemed so much easier. I would feel the looks we got as a family when we talked in Spanish; even though we were all English speakers… BILINGUAL POW! I am embarrassed to say that sometimes I would answer my parents in English while they spoke to me in Spanish— They put up with me during that phase and so many others. THANK YOU LORD FOR MY PARENTS!  Going to college in Alabama helped me embrace my Latin roots. I missed speaking in Spanish, I missed waking up on Saturday and hearing my dad blaring his musica, and the little things that sort of embarrassed me about being Latina. Once I traveled I realized that I came from such a rich culture, a culture that I wear loud and PROUD. I talk in Spanish when needed and still get the looks. I will talk to my grandma who speaks broken English in either broken English or Spanish because you know what— WHO CARES!!! THIS IS AMERICA! My family is AMERICAN. My dad tears up at the national anthem and loves a good USA flag t-shirt. We were that annoying family that wore the Old navy shirts. So you are allowed to be American and Latino. DO NOT CONFORM! 
  26. Hate only consumes you. Go ahead and be mad, build a bridge, and then get over yourself. 
  27. You control how YOU react to things. The last 9 months have been really eye opening. Things that would stress me out- don’t. Comments that would annoy me- Don’t.  It is all within my control. 
  28. Smile. It is welcoming and universal. No matter where you go in the world— if you smile, then people know you are happy. Laughter is universal too. So are tears. People are alike all over the world. It is humans who create the labels to separate. 
  29. Time doesn’t slow down. I literally was just turning 18. I can remember being excited for that birthday. All my friends met me at Cheesecake Factory in Sugarland. I went back 10 years later which my cheer squad.. full circle.
  30. Live. No one knows what they are doing. We all make decisions and hope it is the right one. There is no right or wrong way to live. You want to travel- travel. You want to get married- get married. You want a degree- go to school. You don’t want a degree- don’t go! Do what is best for YOU and ask God to give you peace. A lot of times we mistake contentment for being complacent. When you are content, you know that you are good. You are happy. You embrace the season you are in. I wish I could say I have gotten this one down, but I am still working on it. There are times when I am very much at peace with where I am, and there are other times when I start comparing. Comparison is straight from the devil himself. We are all on our own journey. Enjoy it!  


I wrote this on my flight from Rome to Paris

7 Hour Layover in Rome

My mini EuroTrip wraps up in a few days and I can’t help but reflect on everything I have seen, experienced, and learned in the three weeks of backpack life. 

It is funny how carrying your life on your back and shoulders will teach you about life. I mean that while walking through the many European cities and jumping off planes, cabs, buses, and trains some things have been left behind. I consider how literal this life lesson is— get rid of things that weigh you down. Simple enough. It seems so hard when it is emotional baggage, failed relationships, or any setback in life; yet, I have managed to handle it a lot better while traveling. Besides the literal sense of purging myself of things that physically weigh me down, I have had to learn to shake off mistakes, embarrassments, and let my ego go.

There are so many things we miss out on because we are worried we will make a mistake, fail, be embarrassed, or just too prideful. My motto this trip has been— ugh, get over it— you will never see these people again, and if you do— who cares! 

I wish I could say that it worked each time.

Today is a prime example of how I had to give myself a pep talk. I had an almost 7 hour layover. I had toyed with the idea of roaming the streets of Rome and reminiscing on my trip almost 15 years ago, but when I landed, I suddenly felt anxious at the idea of leaving and coming back and making my flight.

 [[ Disclaimer: I also didn’t have a fully charged phone which was keeping me from going out because SCARY! HAHA! I paid a painful 25 Euro for a stinking Apple charger— thanks Apple. I got to 47% and hit the road]]

I was feeling pumped and ready to take on  Rome. I got my railway ticket [[30 Euro roundtrip// you can get it for 28 from machine, but I got charged a human interaction fee]] The train was amazing and a direct shot to town. Termini is only 2 stops away from the Colosseum/Colosseo which was my main goal since I wanted to recreate a photo from my last time in Rome. I will say the Termini Station can be daunting and intimidating, but I just faked it until I make it. I finally made it to the Colosseum after going the wrong way on subway because I didn’t understand there were multiple trains that stopped there. [Only to find out later that either train would have gotten me to the Colosseum]

 [[This is a mistake that would probably annoy me back home— I find that I am much nicer to myself when I travel. I had a pep talk with myself like “hey, its okay— figure it out. You will get there.” I definitely don’t have AS MUCH negative talk with myself as I use to but I still struggle sometimes]]

The Colosseum is definitely one of those things you see and can’t help but stand in awe. It is definitely top 5 for me.  It is incredible that it is still standing and that you get to walk the footsteps where thousands upon millions have walked. It hard for me to wrap my mind around it. History alive and just incredible to stare at. I sat there for about 30 minutes taking it all in while also pumping myself up to ask someone to take my picture/ hoping the didn’t run off with my phone. 

[[This is something that I struggle with back home—asking for help or admitting I need others. I know— WOW— we all need help sometimes. I know— trust me, it is something that I have really been trying to work on. However when I am traveling, I have to humble myself or I would never have any pictures, make friends, or get to places. Sometimes its easier to ask for help than staring at my phone]]

I walked around the Colosseum taking it all in and then made my way through the city on my way to the Trevi Fountain. Again walking because who has time to take the Metro when you can walk there and enjoy the architecture and alley ways. Another picture that I wanted to recreate, but was met with the realization that there are hundreds of others trying to get the perfect picture. I  asked these girls and they were kind enough to take my picture. They were Spanish so it was quite nice to speak in Spanish for a bit.

By this time it was 5:45 and I needed to walk back to station which took about 20 minutes. Something I would think twice about in Houston, but when I travel I am okay walking miles and miles. The Metro took another 10 and the train back to airport took 30 minutes. I was back by 7:15 which was nice. Security was a breeze and was in the food court by 7:30 and was able to enjoy some Italian pizza. I am sure it is not the best in Italy, but it was the BEST I have had in a while. Thin crust with simple and fresh toppings. 

Although it was a rough start with charger and getting lost on the Metro, I am so glad I went out. And now, I am on my last flight of the Eurotrip. I have 3 days in Paris and then I am taking a long bus back to Aberdeen with a stop in London. 




Oops! It has been over a year since I posted anything on here.

The past six months have been an incredible adventure. Since the end of May, I embarked in a self assigned sabbatical. I know many have been wondering what is going on in my world, how it was possible that I was traveling and not teaching, and the most popular has to be– how am I affording it.

[I will do a special one about the financial side of this journey. Spoiler Alert: Lots of faith, granola bars, and trusting the journey– obviously I saved some money to afford this time off. Stay tuned]

Summer brought my annual trip abroad to cleanse my soul from the school year. I found an amazing deal [Want help finding deals? Let me help!]  and could not pass the opportunity to visit New Zealand. So, I asked some friends if they were interested and a couple were, but I knew I could not wait to book it. Deals like this only last for a bit. I booked it– not knowing where I would stay, what I was going to do, or if I would have anyone with me. It had been years since I did a solo trip to unknown territory.

Life has taught me to not wait. If you wait, life passes you by and the opportunities change. I find beauty in that because God provides the opportunities we need before we even know we need them.

I went to New Zealand and loved it. There was a lot of reflection which could have easily been done at home– but there is something powerful about silencing the voices and just living. I know I didn’t have to go 7,512 miles to Auckland to clear my head, but I am so glad I did. [lots of New Zealand questions– working on it]

July brought my cousin’s wedding which was beautiful and a gentle reminder of the beauty of marriage. They have a love story for fairy tales. I was blessed to travel with 2/3 sisters and my dad. Now that I am older I appreciate traveling with my family more. I took so many moments for granted growing up. I assumed that my parents would always be together and we would continue to make memories as a clan. The divorce is no longer a painful memory, but you don’t realize how deep it reaches—even in adult children.

My cousin got married in Monterrey, Mexico. STUNNING !!! Mexico has so much history! The people were kind and welcoming. The food– YUM! I would definitely recommend a trip. [Cheap flights with Interjet! #notpaidAD]

Then in August, [drumroll] I packed my stuff and moved to Scotland. Why Scotland? For one, I did not want to be in Houston during my sabbatical. At least the first few months because it was so new and I wanted to travel for a bit.  I also needed to change my routine for a bit– in my mind, the premise of a sabbatical is to recharge and reset my mind and spirit. Another reason for Scotland is that one of my best friends lives here and she offered a retreat in her beautiful cottage outside Aberdeen. Shoutout to Ruth! Shoutout Faulkner roomies! Ha!

So this is where I have been since August with a couple of amazing adventures in between like Spain, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Switzerland, France, and Italy. [more to come on those countries and cities visited]

A LOT of reflection. Alone time. Voices have been silenced. Prayers. Tears. Laughter.  Gratitude. Doubt. Affirmation. In no particular order.

I have posted some, but have kept it to a minimum because I have been enjoying life. I have been humbled and overwhelmed at how many people want to know about the travel aspect so I will be updating about how I find flights, what I do when I travel, and some life lessons I have learned in the last few months.

**This part of my sabbatical ends in November. I will return to Houston and …… we shall see.

Thanks for reading!




10 Takeaways From This Trip

I can hardly believe I’ve packed my suitcase and heading home tomorrow. My heart and spirit are so full!! I have written a couple blogs that I will post later but wanted to update everyone on my takeaways from this trip. 

1) God is so good. When you interact with people whose faith could move mountains, it changes you. They trust that every trial and tribulation will help them grow and good will come. HOW AWESOME IS THAT!! 

2) I have everything I need. Cliche right? Goes to Africa and comes back a minimalist. I wouldn’t say that but the realization that I’ve lived out of a suitcase and managed is always a reminder that I have too much! Which prompts my next takeaway… 

3) Let things go! If it doesn’t bring me joy(which is a minimalist concept), then I need to learn to let it go! I love how I haven’t been worried about what’s happening the next day here. However, today I started running through my list of things I have to do before school. Hoping this one sticks throughout the year. 

4) If it’s on your heart, say it. We worry so much about being politically correct that we have lost the ability to have genuine human interaction. While here I have had some great conversations and raw interactions that have made me crave deeper conversations and interactions with people back home. I realize that not everyone is capable of it and have to be at peace with it.

5) Fear is a lie. Don’t you know? This trip I decided to walk to Emburis, the school where I spent most of my time, and it made such a difference. The fear of being unable to communicate with the locals or the fear of travel because of recent events. If God has put the desire in your heart, do it! And never look back. 

6) Africa is more than poverty and orphans. I learned this last year, but this year was such reminder that we love a good stereotype back home. I’ve had people ask me if kids have parents and how much people make here. Of course I have encountered orphans and poverty here, but Africa has so much more to offer and the people of Africa would like the world to know that. There is such a welcoming spirit about Tanzania and Monduli specifically. You are greeted by everyone and hear the kids yell mzungu(foreigner) every so often. 

7) Love is real here. When I first arrived Ema, one of the guards(it’s common to have guards here), said, ” Welcome back sister, love you.” It took me a second because I don’t just say I love you to anyone, but I wanted to. Love is a funny thing that’s been romantacized by media, but really love is so simple. I feel so much love here and have said love you to people I’ve known for a short time. Love doesn’t know time and here, it’s love in its purest form. I am leaving a part of my heart here. 

8) Life goes on. Since my trip last year there have been births and deaths, life has gone on as it should. The beauty is how Tanzanians approach life. Again cliche, the circle of life is an actual thing. They trust everything happens for a reason and that they will be better for it after it. Beautiful. 

9) Stop making excuses. This applies to many areas of life: friends, family, school, my relationship with God…. The list truly could go on…

10) Live. Live a life that inspires others and makes them wonder why you are so vivacious. Life is beautiful and we are so blessed. Blessings are not only the material things we have, but our freedoms and ability to better ourselves. It is a struggle here, but man do they work hard and live a life that I envy. When was the last time you walked miles to fetch water? When was the last time you went without eating so your neighbor would have food? Just think about  your life before you complain. 

24 days in Tanzania. This list is the tip of the iceberg. Africa has been amazing, but don’t ask me if I had fun. Yes, I had a great time, but Africa isn’t fun. It’s complicated. (I want to write a blog about this!) It is inspiring to see Tanzanians use the struggle to glorify God and share what they have with me. They have been such a blessing to me, and I hope through snaps and Instagram posts they have inspired and blessed you too. 


Below are pictures from my last full day at school. I’m going to miss these sweet faces! 

Jambo from Monduli!

Jetlag has gotten the best of me this trip. Yesterday was my first day at Emburis and my emotions were all over the place. I have decided to make the walk up to Emburis every day while I am here. Ambitious. It is not far, but the gradual incline does make for a  challenging walk[hike]. Monduli sits at 4,844 feet above sea level which may not seem like much but living in Houston does not prepare you for this. Drenched in sweat and pores releasing the sweet nectar of passion fruit Fanta, [which can ONLY be found here in Tanzania] I arrived at Emburis. My heart beating out of my chest from exhaustion and excitement. “Will the students remember me? Will I remember names? How have my teacher friends been? Hmm.. I should have been better about checking in with them.”

I see kids running around the yard and soon make eye contact with a teacher. Teacher Evaline looks and doesn’t react but soon realizes it’s a mzungu [foreigner]. She starts walking towards me and soon realizes that it’s me and runs towards gate. The hello is overwhelming and we both begin to cry. I now reflect on how I felt at that exact moment, to know someone I had only known for a few weeks could be so excited to see me and me see them. As I type,  I feel a knot in my throat because I am humbled and begin to feel all the emotions again. The friends and family I have met in Tanzania transcend so many relationships I have back home. All the cliches about Africa and the need for volunteers holds truth, but how much I need Africa can never truly be expressed[Ask me about it and there are usually tears]. Africa changed my life.

Teacher Evaline embraces me and I am flooded with emotions. I feel her love and genuine joy to see me. I hope she felt mine. We walk and there are many new faces which means Emburis continues to grow. The teacher in me is happy. She announces my arrival and Teacher Jackiline runs out to greet me. Again, the emotions are strong. How could people be so excited to see me? We make our way to the office where we meet Teacher Neema. She is a boss. In all the sense of the word, she carries herself with such confidence that not everyone can handle. I love it. Teacher Miriam joins us and she has had a baby! As always when you leave a place, you forget that life goes on without you- just as life has gone on for me. Nothing major has happened but they are eager to ask me about life and any updates. They ask about my family, though they have never met, they are genuinely interested. I ask them about theirs.

Dating comes up. HA! [I will save this for another blog!]

We sit and talk, but soon we hear some yelling and are reminded we must meet the other teachers and students in dinning hall for breakfast.  We make our way to dining hall which has had a marvelous facelift since I was here last June. There are tables and benches and the walls are painted with sea creatures. It looks more like a dining hall. My heart is happy to see all the upgrades Emburis has been blessed with. I hang out with them for a while before heading outside for recreational time before their next class.  I love seeing them play. There is no play ground equipment. They just run, sing, and dance. Some students approach me and mention they remember me, others walk by and wonder why I am there. I smile. They smile back. Finally, one student stops and grabs my hand. It only took her holding my hand to give them the green light. Soon I am surrounded by students trying to hold on to my hand. My heart smiles.

I spent the rest of afternoon in between classes soaking in the Tanzanian classroom. The teachers at Emburis are remarkable. They do so much considering their resources. I return to the main office to grab some stickers and hand some out before I head out for the afternoon. The kids went wild for them. Then again, who doesn’t love stickers?!