“THE JOURNEY” to Heal

This image is what we lovingly refer to as “The Journey”
It is the process of growth.
It is a process to heal
It is a process to bloom.

The kind of “growth” we’re talking about here can be difficult to understand because it’s an internal process. We rarely notice the external signs of the change unless they are “obvious” or unless we know how to look for them.

What we’ve outlined here are 6 steps that serve as an imperfect guide to the change in self-awareness we might experience in this lifetime. These steps are generally experienced in this order but sometimes, life might have you skipping around a little bit + that’s ok!

This image is the “Social Justice” version of those same steps. I did it to see if it would help me manage my overwhelm AND help get a grasp on what’s happening in our world right now on both the individual and collective levels.

What’s really fascinating is that these steps can be applied to any national or global conversation/movement that has involved an oppressed group. It can be applied to the #BLM conversation happening right now, to the #MeToo Movement, to U.S. Immigrants + immigration policy, the LBGTQ+ community, the history of Indigenous people – ANY group that has been oppressed or marginalized.

I believe this current moment in history is a time of immense growth for most of us individually and collectively. To have deeper compassion + understanding for each other – and this is what I understand to be the path we take to get there.

In light of the #BLM conversation that we have all found ourselves influencing in one way or another, I have taken the liberty to carefully breakdown and outline each step using examples of racism in the U.S.

**I only took a few race/social justice classes in college so I have a minimal background/education in racial justice history. If you have edits you’d like to suggest, I’d love to hear what you might add or remove!

STEP 1: UNALIGNED + UNAWARE

Cruelty. Ignorance. Physical + Verbal Attacks. Systematically oppressing “others” in order to maintain power.

Individually: This might be expressed as murder, discrimination, racial slurs, slavery, implicit biases, and the overall acceptability and acceptance of this behavior.
Collectively: This looks like slavery, segregation, lynching, appropriation, outward violence toward an agreed “other”, etc.

STEP 2: NAME THE PAIN

Identifying problematic stereotypes, systemic issues, injustices, oppressive behaviors.

Individually: This is the recognition of their participation in the oppression, and questioning why the world is this way.
Collectively: This might look like an increase in conversations – oppressed groups finding their voice. It is the beginning of a cultural shift in the acceptability of these things.

STEP 3: CHALLENGES

Accepting the responsibility to heal. Desire to face the discomfort that comes with change.
Individually: This might look like choosing to stop using certain words, supporting certain companies or policies.
Collectively: This looks like demanding structural change through protests, petitions, policy changes. Pushing past “band-aid” fixes.

STEP 4: LEARN THE LESSONS

Seeking guides or educational material, to learn more about the circumstances and how to change them. 

Collectively: This might look like acknowledging the hardships endured by the oppressed group and understanding why these things are wrong.
Individually: This looks like following educators on social media, reading books, listening to podcasts.

STEP 5: FIND YOUR TRIBE  -> INTEGRATION + INFLUENCE

Integrating the things you’ve learned into your daily life. Share these practices with your circle of influence.

Collectively: Integrating the “other” group. Formation of movements and organizations to educate, create change, & raise awareness.
Individually: Aligning with people whose values you admire/respect. Sparking conversations in your personal circle of influence, attending protests, etc.

STEP 6: BLOOM

Mobilize your community & resources to create new, inclusive systems.

Collectively: Redirecting funding to restructure broken systems, initiatives to close the gap between the oppressed and the rest of the community.
Individually: Implementing new policies to prevent injustice in the workplace.

My hope is that we can use this circle to understand where we are on our journey and then help each other to grow to the next step. I hope this step by step breakdown provides clarity and dissolves that overwhelm.

Figure out where you are & what you can do to keep moving towards a full bloom.

Privilege

I woke up this morning to the sound of rumbling thunder outside my window.

I love waking up to rain. It is peaceful and cleansing.
To me it feels like the world is giving me permission to take a break and be present.

But then, I picked up my phone and did a quick scroll through Instagram and every bit of peace left my body and was replaced with a tightness in my chest.

I saw people crying. I saw broken glass. I saw fires. I saw people pushing each other and dragging each other. I saw people yelling. I saw fists in the air. I saw kneeling. I saw Courage, I saw fear. I saw love. I saw hatred. I saw solidarity.

“this is not 1968. this is 2020. tell me why we are still here. a young black man wearing a t-shirt saying “stop all violence” gets dragged away by police officers both in uniform and civilian clothes. i’ve seen enough and i’m over it. | BROOKLYN, 2020” All photos are from protests in New York captured by my friend Julian (@mf.julian)
All photos are from protests in New York captured by my friend Julian (@mf.julian)
All photos are from protests in New York captured by my friend Julian (@mf.julian)
All photos are from protests in New York captured by my friend Julian (@mf.julian)
All photos are from protests in New York captured by my friend Julian (@mf.julian)
All photos are from protests in New York captured by my friend Julian (@mf.julian)
All photos are from protests in New York captured by my friend Julian (@mf.julian)



I saw myself being part of the problem.

I have been too passive on this issue.

In one of the very first LTMLS meetings we talked about how even though there were mostly white women, that I wanted to be and feel inclusive for ALL women. I am not interested in a white-washed version of sisterhood. I want the real thing. All people – because the only way we can change the world is TOGETHER.

But if I’m being honest, I didn’t know how to do that. I didn’t know how to make that obvious and I was scared of saying something wrong. I didn’t realize that all I had to say was:

If you are a woman of color please know there is space for you here. We want to hear your voice. You are my sister and I love you.

I am sorry I didn’t speak up sooner.
I own that. I own my privilege.
I choose to be part of the solution.
I am doing my part now.
I will stand up for you.

To stand with our brothers and sisters, I created a list of resources below based on the core pilars of Letters to My Little Sisters as a brand: Education, Community, and Reflection. We want to dive to the root of the issue. We want to build up the leaders and create lasting change that starts in the heart and perspective of the individual.

I tried to keep the list relatively small, but if you begin to feel overwhelmed as you read it, just look for 1 or 2 things that you can commit to doing today. Then come back and pick 1 or thing for the next day, and so on.

Education:

“Unpacking White Feminism” by Rachel Cargel ($35 Lecture) – In order to better serve ALL sisters through LTMLS I will be taking notes on this lecture over the weekend.

If you find yourself holding back because you are required to purchase, please remember that anytime you buy something, it is an act of support for that person or organization.

Community:

Please note that it is of the UTMOST importance that our privileged voices join the conversation. Minority groups need allys. It is the same reason it is so powerful and healing to have a mans voice speak up in support of female rape survivors. POC are tired of fighting. It’s our turn to stand up and support them.

  • Show up at a protest (please stay safe, aware, and be smart)
  • Text a POC (person of color) you care about and check in on them.
    “Hey, I’ve been seeing a lot of crazy stuff on the news and I just wanted to check in on you and let you know that I care about you. I’m here for you and I support you.”
  • 75 Things White People Can Do For Racial Justice Resource Guide written by Corinne Shutack.


Reflection:

  • “#Dothework” Course (FREE) – 30 challenge with daily information, community, and conversation around the ways you can be actively and intentionally anti-racist. by Rachel Cargel. Maybe grab a friend and do the challenge together!
  • There are two resources that are available in the LTMLS shop right now to help you do the work:

Invisible Knapsack or Privilege” by Peggy McIntosh Is a simple exercise I did in my first year of college that opened my eyes to privilege and I recommend that everyone do this at some point in their lives.

Personal Check-in – this one is for EVERYONE. If you are feeling utterly overwhelmed by the news media or by the pain of your loved ones, or are feeling drained from being caught in such a tumultuous season, this packet will help you process all of those uncomfy emotions and help you create a simple action plan. We are responsible for effectively processing and acknowledging our feelings so that we can show up to do our part in the world from a place of love and peace.

Thank you to every voice that came before me that taught me, asked for justice, and worked for equality. I am happy to join in the chorus and I invite you to do the same. Together, we will create a more compassionate world.

Sun-shower

I feel stuck in “the in-between”.
Somewhere in the “upside-down”
Or maybe just caught in the rain.

Last week was my dads birthday and next week is the first anniversary of his death.

It’s been a weird week with a lot of feelings. And I’m anticipating these emotions to overflow into a tsunami throughout the coming week.

At the same time, I’m really excited and celebrating the birth of this business (Letters to My Little Sisters is OFFICIALLY a registered LLC as of last Tuesday btw! She’s a Taurus!)

But I find myself feeling guilty about the joy, because there is this dark cloud over everything and I know the rainfall is coming.

Yesterday, I was in a meeting with Rayna who is a course partner and co-host for LTMLS. Before we started she said: “I know next week is going to be hard for you. Is there anything I can do to support you?”
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I told her that I didn’t know, but that I was disappointed to have a dark cloud over such an exciting time for the business.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
She gently reminded me that alllllll of these feelings can exist simultaneously.

I can celebrate and grieve at the same time.
I can be excited about one thing and angry at another at the same time.
I can find joy in some things and feel hopeless about others at the same time.

All of these powerful emotions can exist simultaneously, and one does not diminish the other.

There’s room for both.
Neither is wrong or right.

Her words meant the world to me and it felt appropriate to share now, during this time, when many of us are hurting or feeling divided and conflicted about the things we see, feel, and experience. Many of us are already in the rain.

Being happy about the start of my new business does not in any way lessen how much I miss my dad or how shocking his death was.

It stands on its own.
It exists as another thing that brings emotion up in me.

Sometimes even the rain will fall while the sun is still shining. Even the sky experiences two seemingly opposite things at once.

But maybe these feelings aren’t meant to oppose each other, maybe they are meant to work together.
Maybe they are to remind us that we still have work to do.
We still have something to live for.

The “Why” Behind Letters to My Little Sisters, and How to Find Your “Why”.

Every successful brand, business, and even HUMAN has a “Why”.
Your “Why” is the driving force behind all that you do.

The clearer your “Why” is, the more confidently you can make decisions, the better you can communicate with people, and the more effectively you can live your life and make an impact!

Letters to My Little Sisters has a core mission and a couple of values that make up our “Why”.

The Why:

The world becomes a more loving place when people are willing to do the work on themselves. We believe that people who are self-aware are able to approach life from a curious, open-minded place. When people are more open to new perspectives, there is less conflict, more empathy, and more connection. Your healing is not just for you – it dictates how you show up in the world and what your influence will be.

The Mission:

Letters to My Little Sisters exists to empower, inspire, and support young women on their healing and self-discovery journeys. We provide resources and support that builds you up to be a leader, and “Big Sister” to people in your community because our ripple of influence flows farther than we can imagine.

The HOW:

  • Education

We have “Lifesheets” and programs for curious, introspective women to dive deep, and reflect on their stories. We also provide guidance and support to navigate healing and rise as a leader through our programs.

  • Community

We strive to facilitate space online and offline to allow opportunities for motivated, passionate women who are driven to make a positive impact and to practice their leadership skills. We create a sense of belonging through shared experiences and stories.

  • “The Work”

We prompt you to look inward and write your way to self-discovery! Do the work that only YOU can do. We love being able to work hand in hand with therapists and counselors and do not wish to replace the role of therapy in your healing journey; only support it.

*We DO welcome men to participate in doing “the work” by taking advantage of the tools and resources available in the shop. We hope to eventually offer programs that support men too, but right now we are foused on the ladies!

Values:

Compassion: To come from a loving place in all that you do.
Reflection: Taking time to sit with your emotions, self-examine, and spend time processing through events, ideas, and feelings.
Sisterhood: To actively support and encourage other women – we are not competing for love, validation, or approval. There is room for all of us at the table.
Education: Learning what to do your own research and find out what works best for you!
Leadership: Taking ownership of your own healing to show up for others. Stepping up to the plate. Facing fear.
Communication: The courage to be clear with your intentions.

You can discover your top values by using the Core Value Exercise!

HOW DO I FIND MY WHY?!

The Why exercise has been passed down from mentor to mentor and now on to you! Though simple, it can be very challenging and it might change as you grow and discover new things about yourself – and that is great! You might want to check in and do this exercise once or twice a year! Here’s how to do it:

  1. Start with a statement you believe in or something you do.
  2. Then ask yourself why you do or believe in that thing.
  3. Then you ask yourself why again.
  4. And ask why again.
  5. And ask again…
  6. and again

The goal is to distill a basic or vague statement down to it’s core, and to clarify the specific meaning for you.

Excited about our Why? Join the email list!

A New Chapter: Why I Decided to Re-Brand

If you’re reading this, then chances are that you’ve seen my re-brand announcement video on IGTV. (@letterstomylittlesisters)



I tried to keep it light and funny and simple but in doing so I completely neglected to talk about the catalyst of this whole decision. And as someone who is normally sharing her process with the internet, I figured I should share the thought process of one of the most important pieces of my journey thus far.

AND even in the 2 months that it took me to actually edit and post that video (lol I know it’s ridiculous) SO much has been refined, and now I actually have a small team of people in my corner making this happen with me. So with this blog post, I’ll be able to go into more detail and answer some questions you might have about this new adventure.

First, we have to pause and rewind a little bit.

In preparation for the website re-modeling, I had to go back through ALL of my blog posts and re-categorize them. (The main topics for LTMLS will be “Healing”, “Pursuit of Purpose”, “Leadership”, “Self-Discovery”, “Love & Relationships” and “Feminism is for Everyone”)

In doing so, I ran across a post from 6 years ago titled “The Power of a Name: Annabelle Finds her purpose” that I wrote + published in 2014.

In it I wrote:

“I will be successful in lifting up and supporting others in the pursuit of their dreams….I am the woman that makes things happen in creative ways. I connect people, imagine things, and inspire others to put their best foot forward and do what they love.”

I started calling myself an “Opportunity Producer” for a while after that – which I still think is a pretty dope title.

And when I read it, I threw my fists into the sky and shouted internally “YES!!! OH MY GOD I’M DOING IT!!! FINALLY!!”

In truth, this “re-brand” has been the climax of 7 years of dreaming to make a difference. A dream to connect with people who had similar hopes, motivation, and dreams to me.


The catalyst was slowing down.
The catalyst was being totally broken open.
The catalyst was my dad’s death.


I’ve talked A LOT about it and the grieving process on this blog and online, but what I didn’t share was the secret promise I made to myself a few months after he passed.

I promised that since it seemed like God hit a reset button on my life, that I would take the opportunity of a new beginning to ACTUALLY REALLY TOTALLY follow my heart. To see this vision through. To take a leap and allow the ground to appear underneath me. My dad was an entrepreneur and an artist, and he had really encouraged those traits in me, so I took a small amount of money he left behind to hire a few people to help me get started.

If we’re being honest, it’s all perfect timing. I couldn’t have started this one minute earlier, even if I wanted to.

The 8ish years of dreaming and scheming allowed me to experience, to grow, to heal things, to learn things about myself (mainly how to take care of myself) that I NEEDED to find the clarity and make this happen – I’m only 25 and still have A LOT more growing to do, but now I can really say….

I’ve been there, I’ve pulled myself through the mud and now I can walk alongside you.

Which is the whole point of LTMLS. To walk together, grow together, learn together, and create a more passionate world, together.

As I’ve moved through the planning and the creation and now the announcing of this new business, I’ve had to overcome fear after fear after fear. And I expect for fear to be a constant companion for me on this new adventure.

I’m grateful to my close friends for the continued encouragement and to YOU for showing up, reading this, and letting me know that this is important to you too.


Okay so, here’s what to expect with the new re-brand:


THE NEW WEBSITE – exciting, yes! However, it will take a few months to come together. Rome wasn’t built in a day ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

COMMUNITY – Also known as “The Virtual Big Sister Network” Scheduled to launch in June! More about that VERY soon!

PROGRAMS – We have 2 programs coming soon, the first one is our “Lead with Light Program” for any young woman interested in developing her leadership skills. This will be open for registration in late June/July. (If you’re a member of the network you get a 20% discount on programs!) The second will be a self-discovery program, which is still in development.

I’ll be posting again soon about the new logo (revealed May 19th 2020) and the meaning behind the design and the brand, so drop your email in the contact form on the contact page to be alerted!