23

I have spent this past trip around the sun trying to prove myself. 
“I can be independent” *Moves to California*
“I can follow my own path” *Opts to freelance instead getting “a real job”*
I crossed off a lot of bucket list items and followed my heart. *Lots and lots of traveling*

I felt like I was constantly yelling into the universe “LOOK AT ME! I CAN DO IT!”
and trying to make others believe me.
I wanted to make the people around me see that the things that made me different, didn’t make me wrong. It was exhilarating and equally exhausting.

Up until now, I’ve been very focused & committed to forging my own path and have spent a lot of time exerting strength externally.
Hacking away the weeds that block me, and moving forward.
Everything has been action based because I had something to prove to my friends, to my teachers, to my family…even to myself.

I believe this season was fruitful & absolutely necessary.
The challenges I faced and things I’ve accomplished have set a foundational layer of my identity.
I know for a fact now that I can literally do anything.
I have what it takes to move into my purpose.
I have the strength to pull weeds & lay bricks.
This past year, I realized that I CAN.

I think this new year, year 23, will be quite a bit different.
Lately, I’ve been feeling a pull inward, to start talking to God more instead of yelling aimlessly into the distance. 
I think this year’s focus (and possibly many after that) will be “I AM” rather than “I CAN”.
This year’s focus will be more about being; who to be, and how to be.
My word for 2018 is Identity, and I think my 23rd trip around the sun will follow suit and be “Womanhood.”
I always think back to my 9-year-old self on my birthdays.
9-year-old Annabelle had A LOT of expectations and hopes for older Annabelle…
I thought by 13 I’d have most of life’s most challenging questions answered, like “Why are there bad people in the world?” or “Why does math exist?”
By 16 I’d be tall and have boobs, and by 23 married, or at the very least, engaged. 
To be fair, 23 was more than double my entire lifetime at 9 so it’s understandable.  
23 to me now means moving deeper into self-discovery and moving more confidently into womanhood. 

I think being a woman is not something you get much choice in, but accepting womanhood is a different story – and it has nothing to do with starting your period.

I realize now, almost 10 years later, that the congratulatory “Welcome to womanhood” cheer I received from my female family members after I hit puberty is absolute bullshit.

I had no idea what that meant & it scared me.

I think about countries where girls as young as 11 are married off and expected to bear children after they start their period. How can you be a woman if you are still a girl? How can you be a woman if you don’t know the power a woman has?

Is womanhood taught?
Is it experienced?
Is it earned?
Is it real?

My friend Houston is a professional speaker, and almost every time he speaks, he shares a quote that has become one of my favorites:
“If you don’t understand the purpose of a thing, you will abuse that thing”. 
I believe this can be applied to womanhood.
If you don’t understand the meaning of womanhood, or the power of womanhood, chances are, you’ll abuse it…which might translate to abusing yourself and the people around you.

This 23rd year will be dedicated to learning, exploring & understanding what womanhood means.
I will not be chasing a universal definition, just a definition for me.
I will discover the things I agree with and the things I don’t and of course, I’ll be writing about it all.

What does Shania Twain really mean when she says “I feel like a woman” Men’s shirts, short skirts?
Common Shania, there’s gotta be more to womanhood than subjecting yourself to the male gaze. It has to be more than starting your period and being able to bear children. 

There has to be more to womanhood than that.

Intimacy



What are you built for?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as I sift through different ideas & possibilities for my future.
I’ve thrown myself into different situations over the years to see what I’m made of.

Each situation or space in my life pushed me a little bit outside my norm, causing my natural abilities to express themselves & opportunities to arise to work on skills that didn’t come so naturally to me.

I’ve been thinking about my identity… my 2018 word, & in that the things that I feel that I have a natural gift for.

I have a natural passion for dancing.
I have a natural gift for writing.

I do not have a natural gift for cooking.
I do not have a natural gift for math.
I do not have a natural gift for taking directions.

I have a natural gift for connection & community.

I have a natural gift for vulnerability & intimacy.

That’s something I’ve been wrestling with a lot lately too…

I always talk about how humans were built to be in community with each other…
But tonight I started thinking that maybe humans were built for vulnerability… and somewhere down the line some of us were hurt so badly that the fear of being hurt again keeps us blocked off, rigid, & angry at the world.

But I think we are built for vulnerability.
We are built to be vulnerable.
Becuase there is no connection without vulnerability. 

But me… Annabelle Evangeline in particular……She was made for some kind of insanely raw vulnerability, deep love & and connection – deep intimacy.

Not only is intimacy a natural gift for me, I crave it. 

I skip the boring surface level conversation as fast I can because I want to dig deep. I want to know who you are – and I’ve had people tell me that they feel so comfortable around me I don’t even have to ask! They just share.

I like to understand the “why” behind anything and everything people say or do. I like sharing my thoughts because I like to connect with people…

I love the idea of marriage & spending a lifetime getting to know someone that deeply. I love the idea of someone wanting to know & cherish me that much…

Something that a lot of people don’t know about me is that I’ve thought about the idea of marriage incessantly since I was like 13 years old.
I used to stress about this shit.
I wish I was kidding.  

I never told anyone because I was embarrassed to talk about it.
I was 13! I knew I didn’t have any business thinking about marriage… but I would dream about the day I could ride off into the sunset with someone I would spend forever with.

Now, I see that some of that obsession might have been fueled by one too many Disney princess movies, but now I’m thinking I might be hard-wired for a deep intimate connection with another human being. I mean, I’m sure most people are, but I really feel this and I don’t see other people talk about it the way I feel it.

To be totally real
(this scares me to write because it’s really real) 
I think it’s why I struggle with sex.

or at least part of the reason.

Last week, my roommate was shooting part of a music video in our apartment – I woke up late that day and waltzed into the kitchen in my robe & came face to face with two full-grown men with cameras.

Awkward.

Fortunately, they thought my robe was cute (it is) & we all ended up having a really great conversation. At one point I asked one of the guys a question prompted him to proudly announce to all of us that he was a virgin. You could see how excited he was to be able to share that level of intimacy with someone he really truly deeply loved. I wanted to be happy for him but instead, I was angry.

I was a virgin when I was raped. 
& I constantly think about whether or not I would have waited until marriage to have sex.

I didn’t get a chance to give myself to someone the way I wanted to.
& to cover it up I had sex with the next person I dated as soon as I could.

& since then I’ve been saying I’d wait,
but then have sex again.

I have a weird dichotomy in my head about sex… 
it’s something supernaturally binding & beautiful and at the same time it’s also whatever.

So I guess now I think of marriage as that point where the real untouched, raw, vulnerable, intimacy lives.

& I want it.

Actually, I’ve been studying for it.  (stop laughing at me)

After putting myself through some unfulfilling (to say the least) & heartbreaking relationships, and simultaneously unlocking the power of goal setting, I decided that I can goal-set my way to marriage.
Yes. Really.

I figured if I want a healthy, authentic relationship with someone who loves me for me, I have to do the work! I need to have really high emotionally intelligence & the tools to communicate effectively (Hence me reading Attached – WHICH I HIGHLY RECOMMEND) and also be pursuing the things that make me, me!

Eventually I’ll attract the right guy.

… right?

The other day I had lunch with a friend who’s been married for a while. She shared a little bit about her idea of marriage, which was bleak compared to mine & she laughed at me a little bit for my goal setting approach. I laughed at me too.

Will it work?
Only God knows.

Until then I think I’m going to accept the fact that I hope to be married one day. I will shed the shame on the fact that being with someone is something I want. I know that it doesn’t make me any less independent or capable or smart –  I just want a partner for this crazy beautiful difficult thing called life.

And to be totally honest, knowing what I was built for & owning it feels good… 

Bella

Photo By: Alex Radelich

INTRO:

I skipped over to Alex & peeked over his shoulder to see the shots we had just taken.
As he clicked through the photos on the camera,
I shuttered in disgust & my stomach tied in a knot.
“Really?” He asked.
“I didn’t think that’s what I looked like” I said.
We were set up in a small apartment photography studio with a giant light, a stool, and a dark backdrop.
I met up with Alex earlier that week and when he suggested that we do a shoot together I said: “Let’s do some portraits in a studio with no makeup.”
He told me that was the craziest thing he has ever heard a female say.
Usually, you wear a layer of makeup to cover up imperfections that would be blown up under the studio lights, & highlighted by the zoom feature on a camera. Then you wear another layer of makeup to accentuate & “sex-ify” your features. (You know, make you look flawless & attractive)
But doing that for this shoot would have defeated the purpose of what I wanted to capture.
This shoot was to celebrate my make-up-less month of travel and also share what I’ve learned from the experience.
It also served as a challenge. I wanted to see if I could accept myself when a spotlight was pointed at my insecurities. I wanted to literally shine a light on my face, to learn how to REALLY love me.
Photo By: Alex Radelich
CATALYST: 

I was first inspired to put down my eyeliner after being in Haiti.
It was really hot in Haiti, and the make up I wore the morning that I arrived had melted off my face by the afternoon, and made the dark circles under my eyes 8 times worse, so I decided to take it all off.
Later that same day, we met up with some women who also weren’t wearing ANY makeup. Not even wear mascara. They were tanned & had messy hair and wore big dangly earrings. I was shocked to see that they didn’t even care to put concealer around their eyes! I remember looking at them and feeling so encouraged.
That’s what I look like too. That’s normal. I thought to myself.
The first 2 days without any makeup was really hard. I felt like I looked tired, and I wanted to cover it up, but I knew that if I did it would look a lot worse in a few hours so I sucked it up and eventually I realized the people I was with didn’t notice or care, which was nice.
After a little sun, my skin looked better and by the end of the week I felt much more comfortable & decided I could do away with make-up for the rest of my travels to save more time for adventuring.
Later that month, I hit, London, Ireland, and Colorado. And while I was traveling I began to discover new things about myself. I started to realize how I really felt about my appearance.
There was a distinct moment in Ireland when I literally avoided conversing with people because I was feeling insecure about the circles underneath my eyes that day.
Yes… REALLY.

Photo By: Alex Radelich

FACE IT:
On Thanksgiving, I face-timed my family and that insecurity was shoved in my face. My stepdad said “Have you been sleeping enough? You look tired”
I was offended immediately.
Later, I took a second to think about it… what’s wrong with looking tired?
I was hurt and upset because in my mind “tired” translated to “not beautiful” which translated to “not attractive” which translated to “not worthy”.
And then I asked myself, so what if I look tired? Does that really mean I’m not pretty anymore? Are my beauty and worthiness THAT fragile?
I know some people who are SO freakin beautiful & it doesn’t anything to do with what they look like.
I want that kind of beauty.
I want the kind of beauty that a sleepless night or a long day can’t destroy.
I want the kind of beauty that eyeliner can’t enhance.
I want the kind of beauty that doesn’t disappear when I wash my face.
But to get that kind of beauty I need to love me the way I am.
I have to remind myself that…
It’s not makeup that makes me desirable or beautiful.
It’s  the way I love people
It’s who I am at rest & at ease.
It’s the way I feel when I do something I love.
It’s me, being me, fully and authentically.
Photo By: Alex Radelich
THE TRUTH:
I realized that the more I covered up with makeup, the more I was ignoring a major problem & the farther I got from being the healthiest, happiest version of myself. 
I realized in that moment that I had internalized a lie…
“if you are not beautiful by our standards you are failing at your purpose.”
BUT we HAVE to realize that these standards aren’t real & this “purpose” is given to us by society, not our creator. Your true purpose is only something you can discover for yourself.
The photo-shoot I did with Alex that produced the photos you see on this blog post was at 8 in the evening. I was up at 6 that morning to work a 12 hour shoot day and went straight to the studio after we wrapped. I got there, took my hair down, washed my face, put on moisturizer, switched my shirt and got in front of the camera.
Literally.
It was terrifying because I realized I was facing this lie straight on.
& I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to reverse something you have internalized, but it’s hard, which is why I winced when I saw the photos.
I wasn’t judging these photos by divine beauty standards; I was looking at them the way I had been trained to look at them.
Photo By: Alex Radelich

Yes. Trained.
By commercials and photos and videos and movies and magazines.
Have short eyelashes? Use this! Want bigger lips? Use this! Get rid of that hair! Use this! Get even skin! Use this?
Think about this: How do I know if I need those things if I don’t know I have those “problems”? What if I don’t see them because I’m not looking for them?
We are trained to look for imperfections the way artists are trained to use colors.
But the sad thing is, most of us can’t we see ourselves as a creation the way a creator would.
I want to share with you what unedited, untouched, uncovered skin, face, hair, human looks like. 
Photo By: Alex Radelich
And now I get extraordinarily pissed off when I run into ads in the beauty world.
A hypersonic de-puffer?  (Literally saw that today, while I was writing this post)
Didn’t know I even needed that! I thought I looked pretty good today.
But there you have it, the beauty industry training me again.
Now it’s December & I decided to continue to challenge myself through the end of the year, or until I feel completely comfortable without makeup on.

Until I can see myself in the mirror aisle at target & WANT to take a selfie ‘cause I think I look so damn good.

And we are almost there… so far I’ve gone to a party, gone to a few business meetings, gone to a bar, gone to work, gone to the grocery store all without makeup on and I’m actually finally feeling much better about it. It feels SO damn good to like my face so much I don’t want to change anything about it.
Photo By: Alex Radelich

CLOSING THOUGHTS:

#1 There is absolutely nothing wrong with liking or wanting to wear makeup. I’m super excited to go out for a night all glammed out. The main purpose of this post was to share a journey with you & some lessons I learned cause I want you to love & care for the bare naked face you were given. You are normal & perfect the way you are.
#2 I am passionate about marketing business and communication and because of that, I can SEE when it is being used to influence in a NEGATIVE way. I want you to empower you so you can recognize when you are being manipulated and LIED to by people or corporations that want to make MONEY.  I want to empower you to ask questions and challenge what you encounter. Decide what your own truth is & recognize the real source of your value.
#3 Challenge yourself to go a few days without makeup on. You might learn something new about the person underneath it.

Photo By: Alex Radelich

Day 9/10 + Beyond: The Quiet Tampon Wrapper

Me sitting on the stage of Yellow

So I’ve spent the past few days volunteering at Yellow Conference. Running between the speaker lounge and the AV booth with mics and questions and tape.
It was thrilling really.
I was surrounded by 500+ women in social business. 500+ women, each rockin the world in their own way.
I got to mic the speakers & hang out “back stage” before listening to them share their incredible stories on stage. “omg I just mic’ed that woman” I’d think to myself.

On the first day, one of the afternoon speakers, Moorea, caught my attention as I was walking between Jamie (the AV guy) and the lounge.

“I thought to be a good woman, I had to be gentle, quiet and soft. I thought that being intense and feeling intensely prevented me from being a good woman.”
I paused for a second.

Yeah, I feel that.

Like a quiet tampon wrapper.

I remember, when I was in high school, Tampax launched a new line of tampons that had wrappers that didn’t make as much noise when you opened them.

I remember watching the advertisement on T.V. and going hmm… I wonder why that’s important…?
I literally could not think of a single reason why having a quiet tampon wrapper would be useful – except maybe if you were trying to hide the fact that you were menstruating from other women in the bathroom (who also menstruate).

Oh that’s nice I guess….wait a second
Should I be hiding my period?

It infuriates me to think about hiding ANYTHING about myself now.

Last week I picked up a friend to go hang in Venice. We started talking about relationships and I don’t know how we got to the topic but I remember telling him that guys have told me that I am ‘high maintenance.’ He said….”Well I don’t think you’re high maintenance in a bad way. You just know what you want and demand it. Some people probably think you’re a bitch because of your confidence.”

I smiled.
“Thank you” I said.
I know that about myself.

In fact, I LOVE that about myself.

I had to learn to love it of course, but the string that ties these three stories together is that you should not be ashamed of who you are because the world tells you so. The world, in my humble opinion, doesn’t know shit about you.

No one knows the beauty and the power and the magic that illuminates inside you. It’s your job to show them. It’s your responsibility and your right to know what you want, stand up for what you believe in, and do whatever the hell you dream of.

You don’t have to hide anything from the world. Not your feelings, not your mistakes, not your PERIOD.

If you decide to keep something personal, do it because it’s YOUR choice, NOT because the world thinks you should.

DO NOT be the quiet tampon wrapper.

“If I were to remain silent, I’d be guilty of complicity.” 
― Albert Einstein

No Means No

My heart feels like it’s on fire right now.

Let’s talk about what it means to be safe, and stand your ground.
I was in the middle of a Law and Order SVU episode when I received a DM from a stranger. This alone does not bother me. I’ve made many new friends through Instagram and many who have wanted to collaborate on projects.
However, I’ve gotten a few weirdos reaching out too. From creepy to clearly mentally unsound.
I’m bringing this up because I’ve had too many young girls ask me how to model or how to get in touch with photographers. When people ask about how I meet such great people, I tell them “Oh well, as weird as it is, it’s through Instagram.” But I never talk about HOW.
So we are going to talk about internet safety, but from the girl who broke most of the rules and created her own. And then we are going to talk about this guy that contacted me cause he pissed me off.
There are these certain unwritten guidelines I have set for myself when encountering a new person on the internet. It’s important.
1. If the person contacting me makes me feel uncomfortable or annoyed in any way, I do not respond. EX: These are usually “Hey babe ;)” or “wow so hott” DMs.
2. If the writing sounds unprofessional I do not respond. EX: This means, writing “i” instead of “I” or “gr8” instead of “great” (who even does that anymore?). If the person speaks English as a second language you can usually tell by the way they write too but that doesn’t mean that it is a red flag.
3. If they are offering products without getting to know me first, I decline. People are representative of their work, and their ethic. If they do not value the person they are working with, then they probably do not value the work they produce and therefore I would rather not waste my time. EX: There was a woman who reached out and said “Have you tried this product? I’d love to have you be a model for it to add you to my portfolio.” It was either a waist trainer or some kind of supplement. It seemed like a copy & paste kind of message and didn’t care to know what kind of person I was before making the offer. This means she could have some wackos on her team, or not care about the product at all.
4. If they do not respect me in even the smallest way, I tell them politely to fuck off. 
This is so important. If the person does not realize that they are crossing the line, how would I trust them to be a good collaborative partner? This goes for boys too, do not let potential romantic partners, business partners, mean women or cocky MEN push you around. You have to believe in yourself and the ground you stand on, then stand there!
5. NEVER WORRY ABOUT LOSING WORK OR AN OPPORTUNITY. There are always opportunities for things, if you get the slightest doubt in someone via the internet, drop the project. There is no shame in that. You are refining the types of projects that deserve your attention. You only want the best for yourself so #NeverSettle
6. If you decide to meet someone in person, bring a friend. This is a rule I’ve broken way too many times to count. But I’d like to think that I’ve become a pretty good judge of character. And I always set other safety precautions.  I set an appointment I need to go to, I meet in a public place, and I send my friend my location. I dress like a boss, slightly intimidating. and am straightforward with my intentions and questions.
7. Always be professional. Period. And if they can’t meet that standard, ditch em. Of course, there are many people who have wonderful ideas and pure intentions who have never learned how to move within the professional world. This is okay. Still, ask yourself if their work is worth it to you and if it will help you grow. Then if it does, and their genuine character overshadows their lack of professionalism, lead by example.
8. It’s always a good idea to ask questions. Ask people to be clear about their intentions and ideas.
9. CREEP and check references. A few times in NYC I contacted other models from a photographer’s profile page to see how they felt about working with the photographer. The ones I asked about were always like “yeah he’s great” so I never had any trouble. When creeping, look for past projects, collaborators, endorsements. If the person is aligned with anything that makes you uncomfortable you always have the freedom to walk away or ask them about it. If their website looks outdated I am usually judgemental and bring it up. An outdates website is a sign of sloppy work, and a website with little information or a bunch of fluff words that don’t say anything is someone who might have something to hide. walk away.
10. I don’t contact people. Period. Unless a mutual friend has recommended it, I never reach out to people on Instagram via DM to collaborate.
11. Number of IG followers doesn’t mean much. As you will see with the person below. 
SO anyway, there was this guy (?) sent me a DM with their phone number and asked me to call. I didn’t really feel like calling and thought it was pretty random so I invited the person to send me an email detailing the kind of collaboration they would be interested in doing (as I do for nearly all clients & partners) the person said to just give him/her a call. I was annoyed and said outright that for safety reasons I preferred email. I will attach the conversation here so you can see how I dealt with hum/her.
It was really frustrating that this person kept trying to push the very clear boundaries I had set. I checked out his profile on IG and youtube. He has 46k on IG or something. You would think that this person would know how to handle things professionally. Whatever. The point of me posting this is to remind people that Saftey and self-worth come first. Don’t let anyone try to manipulate you or push you around.
My guidelines may seem harsh but they are always executed with kindness and compassion. I always try to let the person explain their stance. But being compassionate and kind should never jeopardize your well-being.
 We will see if this person ever emails me. They probably won’t. And I will not be contacting them again. If they do, I still probably won’t work with them. Why? Cause they broke rule #1. 
They annoyed me.