The Power of Prayer

The first time I saw this post, my soul raised her fist up in the air and said
“YES!”
but then the next minute she lowered her head and said
“Wait a minute… no! We are losing something so valuable here…”

I came across this post for the first time after the Parkland school shooting, which was the event that sparked March for Our Lives. And then I saw it again… and again… and again.

The atmosphere that encompassed the image as it moved through the internet was filled with the huffs and puffs of people who were tired of watching horrible things happen while waiting around for someone to DO something. Myself included.

However, this image gives a visual to the fact that “thoughts & prayers” are now seen as a passive way to deal with the trauma our country faces today.
It completely frustrated me.

 
Thoughts & Prayers are anything but passive. 
Thoughts & Prayers are the first things you do before you stand up to fight.

The truth is that our thoughts and prayers should be the starting place for policy & change.
When prayer is intentional, clear, and direct it helps to mobilize our souls to make the biggest impact, & reach our ultimate potential.

I mean honestly, I hope future change makers take a minute to reflect and ground themselves before deciding on policy that impacts hundreds and thousands of people. Just like how students took time to organize themselves to march. (Just imagine how much stress would be saved if Trump decided to reflect before he tweeted lol)

I know, in the midst of hardship, it’s easy to turn to prayer as an emergency escape button…
but in my experience, it has NEVER worked that way.

Prayer does not give you superpowers and approaching spirituality with the expectation to get a quick fix to a problem that might have been developing for a long time doesn’t make much sense. To treat it this way will lead to constant disappointment. 

Instead… let prayer be the starting point.
The fuel to the rocket.

Let me explain the way it’s worked for me…

When I first started coming into my faith, I was surrounded by Christian friends who liked to pray for me out loud.

Instead… let prayer be the starting point.
The fuel to the rocket.

Let me explain the way it’s worked for me…

When I first started coming into my faith, I was surrounded by Christian friends who liked to pray for me out loud.

“God, redeemer and gracious king, thank you for my friend, Annabelle. Thank you for bringing her to my house tonight to spend time together. Thank you for gifting her with her love for people and her openness to learn about you. I ask lord, that you surround her in grace as she moves through these struggles, open her eyes to see you when things get hard. Give her strength to move forward in her journey, and remind her that she is loved. Amen.”

It was a really weird thing at first
but now I love it because every prayer looked something like this:
– Acknowledge who/what God is (which is awesome)
– Acknowledge what you are grateful for
– Acknowledge what you ask and how you know God will show up.

* Newsflash * none of the stuff my friends would say was crazy or outlandish (except for maybe the language – Christian lingo still weirds me out sometimes) and it certainly wasn’t passive.

It was simply a reminder.

After hard conversations about my healing, this prayer reminded me that I was loved and that I had the choice to show up, and the choice to accept the strength to move forward… a strength I would later realize was inside me all along.

Another Example…
Last week, I found out that my dad had attempted suicide. I shared the news with my mentor and in the middle of my tear filled text, I started to pray. My prayer was this:

“… I’m not waiting for God to show up because it is already here. & that is a beautiful comfort. God is all the good in the darkness & it is faithful & it is relentless. & I already see good coming from this.”

You see, prayer is different than what we think.

Prayer is not asking for something we don’t have…it’s not asking for a miracle. Prayer reminds us that the battle has been won, that the power of light & good is on our side, and that we already have everything we need to get through this moment. Prayer is a moment to reflect and express gratitude for the strength & gifts within you that were created to overcome this specific hardship.

The deeper your pain, the louder your worship.

It’s important to call upon this type of prayer in the midst of chaos because this is what grounds you. Prayer reminds you or truth & because of that, it will give you the clarity needed to move forward.

They key is, that you MUST move forward. Nothing will move through you if you sit still and do nothing.

Water won’t ripple without the stone.

so next time you pray…
pray with conviction
pray with hope
pray with expectation
pray with gratitude

and then go out there and be the conduit to manifest epic goodness in midst of darkness.

because God has already given you the answer to your prayers.
In most cases, the answer is YOU.

In Process

I was sitting on the living room floor picking sand grains out of my hair from the beach earlier, and Luke and Bernard sat on the couch, curled up with blankets as the cool night air blew in from the window behind them.

At this point in the evening, we had already caught up on what was going on in our lives and our favorite TV shows – all of the simple stuff.

At this point in the evening, we started having the kind of conversation that requires vulnerability, safety, and trust.

The kind of conversation that a majority of people don’t get to ever be part of.

The conversation was so good, that it went on late into the night, and I actually took notes on my phone.

It began with a question about the meaning of a phrase I’ve been mulling over the past week
“Just Be Yourself”
This is a phrase that has recently really frustrated me.
I ranted about it on my Instagram, so if you’re interested in my thoughts on that, check out the “Inspo” Highlight on my profile.

Anyway, as Bernard explained his perspective, he reached out his hands and said…”To be myself means that there is no gap between the way I feel and the actions I take” he gestured toward himself.

To me this was powerful. It meant that to be yourself, you have to have emotional intelligence. You have to be able to identify things you feel and discern their meaning. And then you have to have the discipline to take action. In short, you have to follow your heart, do the thing that is best for you, and do so even if there is opposition.

I think when we choose to do the easy thing instead of the right thing, it hurts us because it separates us from our true identity. 

It’s not necessarily that the easy thing is the wrong thing, but it is inauthentic when we are aware of what the right thing is. We feel what is right. We feel things, and so often we are told (women especially) that our feelings are wrong, or “extra” or useless. But there is power when you are fluent in the language of emotion and are well connected with the being that lives in your body. What I mean is,  there is power in being aware and accepting of those feelings because they are part of who you are! If you constantly deny your feelings, then you constantly deny yourself.

Luke shifted under his blanket and added how it is also SO important to be with people who reward you for being yourself. When I asked what he meant by being “rewarded” he said “It has a lot to do with the reactions of people around you. Being accepted, being validated, feeling a bond or connection, but ultimately, about being happy.” These things are all rewards for behavior, good or bad.

After sharing stories about being left out of high school cliques and how good it was for us and our identity, we decided, the experiences of being validated for both authentic and inauthentic behavior is also part of growing up and becoming an adult.

This is when I began to get quiet and listen attentively. Bernard is 38, and Luke is 33. Both have many years of adulthood under their belt than I do at 23, and I wanted to understand what defined adulthood for them.

They said it had many parts, and most of those parts depend on the values of the individual. Some of it has to do with age, some of it life experience and suffering, some about milestones. For me at 23, it seemed like being an adult is something that only would come with time, until they mentioned the main factor of becoming an adult. Developing their own voice. 

When they were able to say identify the people that were validating them for inauthentic behavior, and choosing to go a different, more authentic way. They said that adulthood meant authenticity, a recognition of their personal desires, values and beliefs… and acting accordingly… authenticly.

It sounded to me like life is just a process of naming things. 

To wrap up the night, Bernard shared a deeply personal story about a transformative event in his life.
“I realized, ” he said “that all of this around me is just play. What’s in here ” he pointed to his chest, “is real.”

I’ve heard the phrase “In process” a lot lately.
This blog post is titled that because I believe we are all in the process of coming to be our true forms.
To get reconnected with our authenticity.
To be ourselves.

If you have a Vagina…

I’ve wanted to write this piece for a while.

Like a really long time.

When I realized today that other people really are struggling with this thing too, I decided to .

So this is for the little sisters…

I’m talking about Vaginal health today because no one else is.

Mainly, Yeast Infections and abnormal discharge. (Omg Yay I know.) I’ve struggled with both and felt a lot of shame through the whole process. I didn’t really tell anyone, and when I did, I kept my voice really low.

And kept my legs crossed…. at all times.

I  had gone to the OBGYN a few times and asked for help, but neither of them had anything useful to say to say to me. “Everything looks fine, just wear cotton underwear and don’t douche”

Helpful…. thanks.

After a few weeks of particularly uncomfortable discharge, I called my aunt. My Tia. She’s the one that always asks me about how my sex life is (LOL)
I asked her if she had ever struggled with abnormal discharge.
“oh yes, almost my whole young adult life!”

When I asked her how she dealt with it, her voice got softer as she told me
“I just changed my underwear a lot”

I could hear shame strangle her words, and I got angry for her, for me, and for every other woman that struggles with this kind of thing.

The pain is bad enough but the shame is worse. The shame silences us.

I think for me, the shame came from the jokes that people made about women “smelling like fish” in high school. Those comments somehow aways linked back to being dirty, or promiscuous. (Our culture shames women for having a sexuality, but that’s another blog post… or 3)

I remember hearing people say those things in high school and still feeling shame even though I knew that those jokes weren’t true, because I struggled with weird discharge and  I was a virgin.

On top of that, vaginal health is something that I was never taught, so I thought there must have been something really, REALLY wrong with me.

75 % of women have experienced a yeast infection or have struggled with abnormal discharge at some point in their life. 

Why the actual EF do we not talk about this more? Why did it take 23 years for me to actually learn something about this, only after doing extensive research online??

So to fight the shame, to fight the stigma around the conversation about vaginal health, I decided to write this blog post.

Below, you’ll find a list of random things I learned (mostly about condoms) that helped me bring my vaginal health back to balance.

Here are the things no one taught me:

1. Sugar
We have good bacteria in our body that “eats”, for lack of a better word, bad bacteria. Bad bacteria is fueled by sugar (Glycerin), and sugar is literally in everything. Candy, bread, processed foods, salads at McDonald’s…

I was eating a LOT of spaghetti, so I cut back on that and actually noticed a difference. (Yes, I was eating that much spaghetti). When the bad bacteria get out of control, it can cause yeast infections.
(There is absolutely more to this, so feel free to do more research here)

2. PH
Healthy Vaginal PH is between 3.8 and a 4.5. Which is acidic. anything higher than 4.5 creates a great environment for bacteria to grow.  So it’s important to know what changes this PH.

For my journey, it was important to know that this was the thing I was trying to balance. There are also lists online about different foods that affect your PH level that might help!
More Here.

3. CONDOMS
I saved the best for last. If you get heated easily about Feminist topics, clear your immediate physical space of any flammable objects before you keep reading.

If your vaginal area gets irritated during or after sex, I’m 90% sure that it has NOTHING to do with you and everything to do with the condoms you’re using.

I used to feel burning and then develop a YEAST INFECTION after having sex. For a second I thought I had either developed a terribly strong allergy to latex, or contracted some kind of horrible STD, but after some research, I realized it was the FUCKING CONDOMS.

The condoms you buy at the gas station or Walgreens or CVS or the grocery store are your generic “drugstore” brand, mainly (70%) Trojan, and have a bunch of chemicals that are absolutely DETRIMENTAL to your vaginal health.

These are the top Toxic Chemicals that can be found in your average condom:

1. Spermicides – the chemical used to kill sperm can also cause micro-tears in the vaginal walls, which causes inflammation and can sometimes can lead to infection. After my partner and I used a Trojan condom with spermicide, I was so raw that I could barely walk.  Everything was inflamed and it was excruciating if anything touched it.

2. Benzocaine – This is a local anesthetic. Yes. It numbs you. It’s supposed to make men last longer, but it’s been tested and doesn’t really work. Instead, it actually can cause discomfort for men.

3. Glycerine – Glycerine is used in condoms as a lubricant. It can transform into a sugar if left in the vagina for too long (WTF?) and eventually throw off your body’s pH balance, which can increase your chances of contracting a yeast infection. 

4. N-9 – Supposed to reduce chances of contracting STDs, but it doesn’t really do much for that. Instead, it is reported to tear down cell walls making both partners susceptible to UTI’s

5. Parabens – Supposed to prevent bacterial growth, but causes Estrogen imbalance in the body and throws off your PH levels, which can cause yeast infections.

Read about the shit they put in condoms.
And more
even more

When I learned about all of this I was so angry that these manufacturers give absolutely no shits about I ran around and told EVERYONE I could. It was the best way for me to blow off steam… education!

But the lesson here is balance. Health is found in balance, so it’s so important to listen to what your body is telling you to find and keep that balance.

There’s Hope!

Safe Condoms:
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use condoms. Definitely still use them, just make sure you are super CLEAR about what you are putting into your body.

The Good Ones

I’ve used Glyde and L. Condoms and let me tell you the difference is incredible. Sex is NOT supposed to be painful. Who knew!? You can get them online or at Whole Foods!

Yeast Infection Remedy:
If you are just looking for relief from Yeast Infections I found some really awesome stuff that worked so quickly and helped me get rid of my issues FOR GOOD. (PS. Stop buying Monistat.)

Boric Acid Suppository  – This helps level out your vaginal pH levels. I used before bed and put a liner on because there is a little bit a leakage during the night and in the morning. but after 2 nights I was clear. (Monistat takes 7+ days). I also used a few times during/right after my period to keep everything level because hormonal changes during this time in your cycle can cause an imbalance of estrogen which can also trigger abnormal discharge.

Vulva Cream – Immediate relief. Really.

In the End…

Don’t just take my word for it. Do your research, pay attention to how your body reacts to things. You are no over-exaggerating, it is NOT your fault and you are NOT dirty for having these issues.

Take OWNERSHIP over your body and what you put in it. You have so much power in your hands, don’t let culture, big pharma, or even your mom, tell you what is best for your body.
Only YOU know that.

Truth V. Lie

Written April 8, 2018

“The most dangerous stories we make up are the narratives that diminish our inherent worthiness. We must reclaim the truth about our lovability, divinity, and creativity.” – Brene Brown

I managed to take some time today to write – despite my hangover.

I actually had been avoiding it – feeling totally uninspired, so I decided to read instead.
I’m working on 3 books right now.
Rising Strong (my first Brene brown book)
The 60/60 Experiment
& The Artists way.

I read a bible verse  – it’s the commandment “Love your neighbor as yourself”
and had a weird feeling immediately, so I decided to reflect.
I realized that I absolutely do not want anyone to love me the way they love themselves. Most people I know have a really hard/damaged/broken/disconnected relationship with who they are – their souls & their bodies…

So how do we fix this?
You can’t come to love others until you learn how to love yourself.
And that’s really fucking hard to do
We live in a culture that celebrates self-destruction. We make money off of people hating themselves. They pay for a quick fix after quick fix.
They become so self-consumed that it becomes hard to see others.
It’s easy to become like a torpedo of “not enough”
Trust me, I’ve been there.

It really comes down to the

You do love others the way you love yourself.  & It’s totally unconscious – have you ever thought as you set the capacity for how much love you both give and receive?

My faith tells me that I have to boot the lies out of my head.
My faith tells me that there’s something that happens bigger than me around me and with me
My faith tells me that the universe is constantly sending love to me
My faith tells me that love is a choice. and so is accepting it.
We need to accept that we are being loved whether we think it’s possible or not, whether we deserve it or not, whether we are good enough or not.

So how do you love your neighbor as your self? You know your truth, and respect their truth – THAT opens the gateway for real, authentic love.

Thank You

Feminists are often mistaken as “Man Haters”.

And because I call myself a feminist, I also like to emphasize that I love, respect and admire both men & women equally. (Feminism MEANS the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men – READ THIS) 

Except after my last “situationship” went south a few months ago, I’ve been really jaded. I felt myself slowly slide into man-hating and I started to blame eveything on men, and thought that my life would be a lot better without them.

My professor in college told us that our experiences shape the way in which we see the world.
He told us that your expereinces are like bugs that fly into the windshield when you’re driving. They alter what you’re able to see, sometimes blocking your view.

So if you think about all of the expereinces that have gone “splat” against my view of the world, it makes sense that I got jaded…

I was raped by a man.
I have been talked down to by men.
I have been lied to & used by men.
I have been manipulated by a man.
I have had my dreams squished by a man.
I have been honked at & catcalled by men.
I have been sexually assaulted by men.
I have felt worthless because of the way men have treated me.

Men, have made my life way harder than it needs to be and hurt me in so many ways. These experiences have created a reeeeally nice layer of bug guts on my windshield, and after so many hurtful expereinces with men, I started to feel like I would never meet a good man in this world.

Dramatic I know, but remember my windshield was dirty, and any time I thought about men, I couldn’t see clearly – only a dirty windshield.

Last week, I assigned homework to our interns to write Thank You notes to three different people. I made it my homework to write each of them a Thank You note as well, and as I was writing, I thought it would be nice to write a note for each of the two men I work with too.

One of the men is Kelby,
and when I sat down to write Kelby’s note, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for him.

Kelby is disciplined, listens to loud Electronic music, works out so that he can “look good naked” (his words),  is very organized, clean, and leaves a lot of space inbetween you when he gives hugs.

I realized that he is a beautiful example of what a good man can look like – not becuase of his taste of music or love of working out but because of the way he’s treated me. And because of him, it’s impossible for me to be a “man hater” because to be a “man hater” I would have to hate all men, and I don’t hate all men because I love Kelby.

In my note to him, I thanked him for making me feel respected, heard and valued always. I thanked him for his vulnerability, his loyalty and for the way he communicates. At the end of the letter I asked him to hold on to these qualities, even though the world might tell him otherwise, because they make him an amazing man.

I made Kelby read the note before I left that day, and when he got down to the bottom of the letter he smiled, and gave me a hug. This time, with no space inbetween.

That day, I realized that we don’t celebrate our men enough. We don’t celebrate and thank them enough for the qualities that make them good humans. And I think we should because our culture constantly tells them that hyper-masculinity is the only way to be a man.

So I decided to write down a list of men in my life that I love and admire to write thank you notes to.
And that list is now longer than the list of men who have hurt me.

This has been one of the most healing things I’ve done.
Who knew that Thank You Notes could make such great windshield wipers?