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!

Finally Finding “Home”

I started searching for an old blog post on the meaning of “Home” that I wrote back in 2015 for the “Big Sister Program Pilot Group” Call tonight and got carried away peeking into the heart of 20-year-old Annabelle.

So much has changed since then.
So many things about me are different now.
And so many things are about to change again.

I floated down a river of old memories as I read my old reflections. I remembered the visceral desire I had to find a “home” and how lost and alone I felt at times because I couldn’t figure it out. I chuckled when I found myself here, again, reflecting through typed words, feeling the sense of “home” I was searching for so desperately then as I write this post 5 years later.

Like most humans in this world, I have always sought to be known, seen, and loved for me – in my authentic expression. Some people (myself included) have hidden so deeply within themselves for fear of being judged or rejected that after a while they don’t even recognize themselves anymore. If you’re familiar with the enneagram, “deceit” is the main plight of an unhealthy 3 on the enneagram.

To me, the scariest part of this struggle is truly getting lost in the extensive collection of masks that you wear. How will you ever be loved for who YOU are if “YOU” can’t find it’s way to the surface or doesn’t know how to show up?

But I’m on the other side now.
I no longer hide behind many of the things I used to hide behind to feel accepted and loved.

These days, there are only a few thin layers of protection that separate my vulnerable heart from the judgments of others. I’ve let go of many of my masks as I have grown to love and accept the different facets of the very complex, and emotional human that I am. (Shoutout to Dr. Fisher, my therapist, for teaching me to see those things as gifts)

Though criticism from others might still hurt, it doesn’t wound me the same way it used to. Instead of becoming imbedded in me and infected like a nasty splinter in my foot, harsh words or judgments from others bounce off after impact. The secret is that those thin protective layers are made of love, self-understanding, compassion, and forgiveness. Materials that are breathable and resilient. (This is starting to sound like a running shoe commercial.)

The point is, this tiny space on the internet has been the home for much of that transformation. And I suppose I’m feeling especially sentimental because I know this space is about to evolve in a really big way. This blog has been a beautiful reflection of my heart space for many years and the greatest gift it has given me is the ability to look 5 years backward and say “wow, all that work pays off.”

I’ve been working, excitedly to elevate this blog into something bigger. I’m ready for it. I’m ready for change because I know that even when things are different, I can still find home again. The sound of the tapping underneath my fingertips as I write is the sound of a journey inward, and the journey of finding a home in knowing who I am.

Many of us search for a home without realizing it was inside us all along. That’s the journey Letters to My Little Sisters is here to support you on, the journey we are all on – the journey to come home to ourselves.

A Letter to (Myself? You?)

Today I shared a video on IGTV reading aloud a letter I had written for my “therapy homework”. Below you’ll find the words I shared if you prefer reading over listening….

Description:

A few days ago I shared a snippet of a letter I wrote on Instagram and asked if you would be interested in reading the full letter. 100% of the people who voted, voted YES.

In therapy last week we started “Belief Work”. Belief Work is identifying beliefs I have about myself that are not serving me (lies), uprooting them, and replacing them with truth. A lot of these detrimental beliefs took root after my rape experience in college, and although I have healed a lot from that time, there are still a few things that I haven’t been able to shake… I haven’t quite healed what being raped made me believe about myself.

In our previous session, my therapist invited me to imagine that an 18 year girl confided in me about her own survivor story and believed that she was “dirty”, “a slut”, “unlovable” and “worthless” (all the words I had used to describe myself at the time) and what I would say to her.

This scenario is not very far fetched for me. Many young women and men have trusted me with their stories after I became vocal about mine, and I have found that each time I try to comfort another survivor, I tell them something I needed to hear myself. This letter, I quickly discovered, was no different.

Letter:

Dear little lightworker,

This letter is to remind you of the TRUTH of WHO YOU ARE.

I know how it feels to be where you are right now. Lost in the empty dark room of your mind, numb to all that is both inside and outside of you. It feels as if the connection to your inherent divinity – your inherent goodness – has been severed and with it, your identity has been lost too.

Luckily, just because it seems that way, doesn’t make it true.

In fact, I invite you to look at this experience as an initiation of sorts – no matter how brutal – this experience is an invitation to dive deep.

Since you were little you know you were called to do great things. You were called to have a big impact on people’s hearts and minds.

But in order to realize this calling, you must intimately understand the depth of the human experience, in all forms.

There is beauty in all of it. In every tear and every gasp of air.

It is beautiful because no matter how much you feel, believe or experience the ugly of this world, NOTHING can change the truth of your nature. None of it will ever change how much you have to give or how much you are worth to the world.

In fact, one could argue that the more tragedy you endure the more you will have to give. But ONLY if you are able to transmute those experiences into light.

Sweet one, you were born into this world a shining bright and beautiful soul. I’m convinced there were shimmers of fairy dust around you when you emerged from your mother’s womb.

So pure.

Purity is not a thing that can be lost by the way, only forgotten.

This life is about remembering who you are.

I know what you are searching for desperately in the arms of strangers. You wish to be SEEN because you can’t see yourself. But I am here today to tell you that I see you. I know your truth. I can see it clearly without the obstruction of the dark, and you need to know that what I see is beautiful. You are just as bright and wonderous as the place from which you came.

Everything you feel right now can and will be healed.

The triggers will go away, the Numbness will dissolve into joy. However, the confusion will come and go until you are able to solidify your faith in yourself and in the universe.

You may not believe me now, but a day will come when people won’t be able to do anything but smile when they see you.

You are already the warmth you seek.

You are already the bravery you need.

You are already the love you desire.

It is all there inside of you already, waiting for you to take notice.

Love, Annabelle

View this post on Instagram

A few days ago I shared a snippet of a letter I wrote on Instagram and asked if you would be interested in reading the full letter. 100% of the people who voted, voted YES. In therapy last week we started “Belief Work”. Belief Work is identifying beliefs I have about myself that are not serving me (lies), uprooting them, and replacing them with truth. A lot of these detrimental beliefs took root after my rape experience in college, and although I have healed a lot from that time, there are still a few things that I haven’t been able to shake…. I haven’t quite healed what being raped made me believe about myself. In our previous session, my therapist invited me to imagine that an 18 year girl confided in me about her own survivor story and believed that she was “dirty”, “a slut”, “unlovable” and “worthless” (all the words I had used to describe myself at the time) and what I would say to her. This scenario is not very far fetched for me. Many young women and men have trusted me with their stories after I became vocal about mine, and I have found that each time I try to comfort another survivor, I tell them something I needed to hear myself. This letter, I quickly discovered, was no different. PS I AM SO SORRY ABOUT THE DINGING IN THIS VIDEO! The general manager from the restaurant was messaging me about new equipment 🤦🏽‍♀️

A post shared by [Formerly @annasbanana123] (@letterstomylittlesisters) on

Nuevo

October 9, 2019

This is a photo of me outside of the restaurant I inherited from my dad.

I haven’t talked about it at all because I’ve felt so incredibly incompetent.

Yes, I’ve studied business and worked in marketing, but I know NOTHING about what it takes to run a restaurant. Literally nothing.

I, somehow, never had the typical “coming of age” job of working a waitress like everyone else. The only time I ever step inside a restaurant is to eat.

And now I am responsible for the success of one and the livelihoods of the 12 people whose work I literally know NOTHING about.

Fuck.

Every week for the past 4 or 5 months, the manager has given me a folder with bills and receipts from the week that I’ve just been stacking in a pile in the corner of my bedroom because I don’t know what to do with them. I write checks when people tell me to because I don’t know better. I have no idea if I’m getting ripped off or what to budget or plan for in the coming months.

This mode of operation is EXTREMELY dangerous because it’s SO easy to STEAL cash from a restaurant. I know that. Needless to say, I’ve been very overwhelmed.

I have felt inadequate.
I’ve felt like I need to ask for permission to do anything because I don’t want to mess things up.
I’ve also felt like I’ve needed to puff up my chest and flex my muscles around staff so that they don’t think I’m as stupid as I feel. (Which actually probably makes me look a lot more stupid than I am LOL)

But then, this week, something happened. We got a bill for something that didn’t feel right to me. I followed my gut, and for the first time told the Manager that I wasn’t going to write the check.

I immediately went home to tell my mom about the situation and sought her advice.
She told me I did the right thing.

I made the right choice.

And I remembered, that even though I don’t know anything about restaurants, I DO know something about business. I DO know something about Leadership.

I have always believed that successful business owners and successful leaders become successful because they make decisions based on STRONG VALUES. This allows them to be consistent by creating a solid foundation for every decision they make.

I also realized that I have a specific role to play in this business, and in that role I don’t have to know very much about restaurants, because I’m not running day to day operations. That’s not my job. Yes, it helps to have a gist of what is going on, but I’m running the business and handling the money. And THAT I can do.

The next day, a bigger problem came up. Someone on staff began to make demands in a very unprofessional way and walked out on us. Quit, right there in the middle of the workday and left.

Last week I would have had a meltdown.

But this week, I remembered my role and my values, and I knew exactly what to do. I talked to the manager. We established what our values were and from there, decided how to handle the situation.

The difference between today’s success and yesterday’s failure is my own attitude.

Realizing what I am ABLE to do, what I am ABLE to learn, and how I am ABLE to grow, has made me more confident and positioned me to be a lot stronger and also a lot more relaxed so I can handle situations as they come up.

4 Months, a New Journey Begins.

Today marks 4 full months since my dad died.

Since he killed himself. And left us behind.

I’ve spent the past 4 months floating through a range of challenging emotions and although it was evident yesterday I am not done grieving the loss of someone I love, I’m ready to share my story. Our story.

I’m back in L.A. this week, for the first time in 4 months.

I keep telling people that I don’t feel like it’s been that long. In my head, it feels like I was only gone for a week… so when I saw that my neighbor’s puppy was a grown-ass dog now I cried.

This past month has been so strange because I decided to start living again. I’ve been working with a therapist that encouraged me to start working out again and reaching out to old friends. But it’s strange to live with death. So tears of grief still roll down my cheeks, while I walk down the sidewalk even though I’m feeling more alive than I did before.

This experience has stripped me down. Completely. It has uprooted everything.
I ended my relationship.
I quit my job.
I put down my life in California to pick up responsibilities as the Executrix of my dad’s estate + to run his restaurant in Texas. A business I’m truly not interested in and know nothing about. #awesome

This week I came back to L.A. to pack up my car and drive it back to Texas. God only knows how long I’ll be there. The few days after my plane landed in LA I felt so angry at my dad. I’m so mad at him for making me leave everything behind. And so grateful at the same time because I’ve learned more about BEING instead of DOING. I’ve learned about the importance of legacy, and community, and grieving. I can feel the shift inside me, the ripple effect of this tragedy is redirecting me to a deeper purpose and deeper growth. And I have chosen to go with the flow.

In short, this time has been confusing and challenging and frustrating and fucking weird. It has been beautiful, and painful, and life-changing. It has been big, and made me feel small, completely worthless, and so held and loved and supported.

I’m excited to come to the page now to share the writing that the journey so far has inspired. I’m excited to evolve, for the change in direction, and for the hope that I may honor my dad’s life by growing up and passing his love and creativity forward.