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.

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!

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 🤦🏽‍♀️

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