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.

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.

Full of Emptiness

THIS POST WAS WRITTEN MARCH 22 2018

I feel full… and not the happy, warm kind of full.

And definitely not the food baby kind of full.
I’m the kind of full that feels more like overwhelm.
Except I don’t feel overwhelmed, I feel like I can handle it.
Which is probably even worse.
When you’re overwhelmed you KNOW you’ve reached a limit & have no other choice but relinquish control.
But my newfound organizational skills keep me on top of everything despite my unstable emotional state.
I’ve been near tears this week.
One day, I cried 3 different times.
Another day, I felt tears emerge before facing a whole group of people & had to dart into the bathroom to cry with tissues under my eyes so my mascara wouldn’t run.
I’ve been snapping at people
I’ve been feeling immediately irritated if someone asks for help or needs something from me.
I’ve been negative.

I’m not myself.

It’s the kind of full that’s really empty.
I’ve felt unloved, undervalued, overworked, underprepared, under qualified for pretty much everything I’ve been doing.
And I keep finding myself wanting to blame things on other people, but today I realized I’m doing it all to myself.

It’s scary because I don’t know how I got to this point.

My roommate came into my room last night. She sat next to me on my carpet and handed me a cup of tea. “I’m worried about you.” She said. “Your energy has shifted, what’s going on?”

I immediately buried my head in my hands and to no one’s surprise, I started crying.
That was the first time someone had asked me how I was doing, and meant it, in at least 2 months.
She and I talked for a while. We pinpointed the shift. It was around the time I started my new job.  But I REEEALLY like my job? How can that be?
After some reflecting, I realized I had been internalizing and pushing down a lot of fears…
I feel like I’m not worth what I’m being paid (Which is a modestly average amount). I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing & I’m making things up as I go along, which makes me a fake. (AKA Imposter syndrome)
I feel a lot of pressure to be perfect at this job that I feel underqualified for because if I lose it, then I’m financially screwed.
AND all of these fears and driving me to pour everything I have into this work…. which didn’t seem like a bad thing until I was walking around totally drained.
After this conversation with my roommate, I realized that I’m only getting better at my skills, not actually pursuing my purpose.
 
What the hell is my purpose?

I’m realizing that I’m not JUST a businesswoman, I’m an artist.
An artist who happens to be good at business.

 

And the only thing being an artist means is that I create things in order to translate my love, energy, and purpose into the world.
It’s a spiritual thing.

But this season I’ve realized that being an artist has to come FIRST if I’m going to stay balanced.
Being an artist & cultivating my spirituality has to be a priority.

I think back to a conversation I had with my friend Emma recently.
“The world needs your writing Annabelle.”
She compared my written thoughts to some of our favorite role models in the business & personal development worlds.

I had a hard time receiving such a huge compliment, but it stuck with me and has been ringing in my head lately.

I bought a 12-week reflection course called “The Artists Way” and started reading it today.

I stumbled upon this quote in the introduction and it stopped me.

“We see God as a creator but seldom see creator as the literal term for artist” – Julia Cameron

Wow.

My favorite argument for keeping myself in an unhealthy work situation is “but I’m learning a lot.”

 

The skills I’ve learned and am developing are only meant to be the supportive structure which helps me get my art into the world. Whether it’s writing, or creativity or … it doesn’t have to be for any noble cause other than out of the pure relationship with my creator.
Then all of this work I’m breaking my back doing is NOT my purpose.
THAT’S why I feel so full of emptiness.
I’m neglecting my creativity, the part of me that lives in direct communication with my creator.
 

I kept lifting my hands from my keyboard to my face as I wrote this because the formation of these sentences allowed me to process this concept & I feel so much clearer now than I did before.

I literally was figuring this out as I wrote.

And that’s what I was meant to do.

I was meant to be writing.
I was meant to be creating.

All of this to say, having a job I like isn’t a bad thing.
I just can’t let fear & insecurity take control of my life & neglect to cultivate my artistry in the process.

One is needed to survive, the other is needed to live.

Hater Spotting

Tonight I met up with my friend Galit to do some work.
I’ve been really excited lately about writing my new book, Letters to My Little Sisters.  I started doing IG Live conversations to work through some of the topics I want to write about, and even created an email thingy that people can sign up for to get updates on it.
Today my goal was to import all of the email addresses I’ve received from the questionnaire onto MailChimp, which means I have to sort through each entry, grab the email & enter it into mailchimp manually. As I was going through the entries I found that someone had spewed hateful things all over their form before pressing submit.
The results read:
“You’re a phony”
“This is fake – you’re only doing this to make money”
“I can’t believe the shit rich white girls do with their education”
“fuck this”
“you’re stupid”
My first thought was, LOL
Then I was like LOL someone spent their time doing this….
Then I felt sad that someone spent their time doing this.
Then it started to sink in…
& it definitely stirred something inside of me.
My stomach knotted up, my hands got cold & goosebumps popped up on my arms & neck.
I was hurt.
Then, by the grace of God, my brain kicked in and I thought –
I really upset someone’s comfort zone.
Then I went on to analyze what was in front of me.
The words this person decided to use sounded really angry.
In fact, that they called me “rich & white” means they CLEARLY don’t know me so really what they said probably had NOTHING to do with me and everything to do with something going on with them.
They must be taking something out on me, probably because something I said or did hit a tender spot for them.
But it’s not always so easy to logic your way out of how you feel.
Even after I got home the self-doubt I’ve been struggling with lately came out to play.
Maybe I’m not good enough, maybe I am stupid & I am wrong. Maybe what I have to say doesn’t matter.
But I’ve been training my mind of these moments, so instead of wallowing it (well – I did for a few minutes), I pulled out my laptop and decided to write.
I did that for 2 reasons.
1.     Writing is one of my tools to process confusing thoughts & emotions.
2.      This is Cyber Bullying. & It’s not okay & we are going to talk about it.
After the initial shock of the situation, I thought how could you be so careless with your words?
Words matter
I have a fucking t-shirt that says so.
Galit & I talked and she said “They must not know their power”
This hit me like a rock. & if it didn’t hit you, go back and read it again.
“They must not know their power”
Damn. This is so true.
If you feel like you’re not being heard, you scream.
If you feel out of control, you punch.
If you feel like you’re not being seen, you cause a scene.
This is the danger of someone who doesn’t know OR own their power.
They can be really damaging.
See, you have an impact whether you want to or not.
You have an impact whether you realize it or not.
You have an impact. & it can be positive or not.
YOU ARE POWERFUL.
Unfortunately for this person, I like to process things by sharing.
I’m sure they didn’t think that their entries would end up on my Instagram, or their words on my blog.
Actually, I don’t think they even stopped to think that I would see it at all.
Or that their words would affect me….
Probably because they aren’t used to being heard.

A Puff of Smoke

Photo by: Logan at the Beverly Hills Farmers Market

 

“Our moral economy went bankrupt long before our financial one.” 

 

 

I’ve been processing a lot lately and church yesterday definitely kicked me back into the game so I’m going to share all of it right here in one blog post. GET READY IT’S GONNA BE GREAT.
1.    The Valley
As you probably have seen, I’ve been traveling all over the place. Like I actually hit up 9 cities in 4 different countries in about a month. Pretty intense.
I learned a lot about myself in that time. I learned what it felt like to travel to a new country alone. I learned I could take care of myself. I learned that I didn’t want to chase someone down someone who didn’t really want me. I gained confidence and saw the truth about myself. I learned what my face looks like after going without makeup for a month.
I liked it. I liked it all.
Then I fly back to L.A. & head straight to San Diego to have some business meetings. Unfortunately, what I was initially excited forgot buried in miscommunication and frustration. And on top of that, I’m realizing for the 100th time in my life that my sexual relationship isn’t what I want it to be.
I had to take a step back to analyze a lot. What do I see in my bank account? What do I want? What do I see in my personal relationships? What do I want?
What do I see in my work? What do I want?
And I realized, I wanted something different in all of that.
I came home from all of these adventures and felt stuck. LA. , the place that I took a leap of faith to move to, felt dark. I looked at my bank account and compared it to what it looked like before I left. I am $5000 down that amount. More off track financially than I’ve ever been.
And on top of that, the work I was doing consistently before my travels, got pushed back. So that means, no work until January. * insert panic attack *
On the way back from San Diego I listened to a podcast that really shook it up for me. (Undefeated: Pastor Sarah from OneChurch LA. If you want to be inspired, freakin listen to this)
I realized in this moment that after a high there is always low. And wrote some notes:
What goes up must come down. It’s about how your mind is. Want to get out of your stuck? Do something radical, shake it up. Don’t play it safe. Praise God the whole time.
What is this low? Analyze it & step out.
We are so easily defined by our painful emotions why is it so hard to hang on to the truth? Let’s get your mind right. Gratitude.
2.    Twenty Dollars
A week before all of this, I went to church in Denver and the pastor talked about finances… “You know what goes up after I preach about finances?’ “Offerings?” “No, baptisms. Because when you can let God control that part of your life, you can trust him with anything”
Cut to the day after I got home to San Diego, a week after Denver, I went to church with my roommate. Before the pastor comes up to deliver the sermon, they did the offering, which means they pass these little baskets around so people can put money inside. Not me though. I never do.
But this time God said “I want you to give me the $20 bill that is in your wallet.”  & I’m like but that’s the only $20 bill in my wallet. The only cash in my wallet, & I didn’t even think I had that much. In that moment I realized that I didn’t trust God. I was clinging to the $20 bill tighter than I was to His promises & I realized where my anxiety & scarcity mindset was coming from. I was creating it for myself because I wouldn’t let go. I reluctantly took the $20 bill out of my wallet and watched as the baskets went up and down the rows. I prayed & said, when I drop this money in the basket I will let go. I will let God take care of me. I will let go of the control & my anxiety. The basket finally got to me, I put my only $20 bill inside, passed it back and immediately felt the tears well up from the pit of my stomach all the way to the tip of my nose and out my eyes. I had a pure moment of panic. “Oh my God what did I do – that was so stupid. I’m going to regret that.” I cried hard with my head down in my hands. And then I felt peace. I reminded myself that I was letting this anxiety go.  God’s got me. I have enough. I allowed myself to feel the fear and then pushed it out. I am fine. And I was. I am. And this is where the real shift started…
More notes…
 
Zoom out – keep your focus on the journey – life is so beautiful + complex + crazy. No one who ever enjoyed the ride had white knuckles.
Get out of your own way. Ask God to move the flesh + bones over so you can see the blessings.
We operate from such a place of physical need for survival sometimes. We react to situations and people. I cried in a meeting when I was in San Deigo because I was operating from a scarcity mindset. It was about survival for me. I had forgotten that I actually have what I need… cause all I could see where numbers dropping in my bank account.
When you’re stuck in an “is” + looking back at a “was”. It’s hard to see what will be.
What “IS” doesn’t define what will be.
I have the strength to walk through because God has laid a foundation in me.
3. Stand Up.
All of this came full circle. Right before I left I had a feeling that I was about to “level up” in a sense. That I had enjoyed a season of comfort but knew that something needed to really make me uncomfortable again if I was going to keep growing. I knew another lesson was coming.
After chur, h I empowered & supported. I reflected back to those questions I had asked myself the week before. What do I want my bank to look like? What do I want my relationships to look like? What do I really want?
& I knew.
& I had some hard conversations with a few people. I reminded them of my worth. I reminded myself of my value.
So my lesson wasn’t a big painful, dramatic thing, it ended up being an accumulation of little frustrations throughout the different experiences I’ve had in the past month and a half.
And I’m still working through it.
Most importantly, I was able to get my mind right. I shifted my focus and from there was able to command my life again. With God by my side, I know I can do that & he will provide abundantly.
It’s not this big aha moment when God reveals himself. It’s not a puff of smoke. It’s the moment you open your eyes & see the energy that is woven into the very air you breathe.