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

2019 kicked my ass.

Not an Oak Tree (my 2020 theme) but close enough.

Apparently, the internet elves have been stalking me long enough to know I love planners and goal setting because this past week I have been hit with more Instagram ads for planners and intention setting workshops than I’ve ever seen in my whole life.

I’ve been just scrolling through so many beautiful, perfect-looking people and their big hairy-ass goals for 2020.

I actually began to resent all the goal-setting this year because I have been feeling so lost, and so unworthy of making plans. I got so turned upsidedown this year that I didn’t feel like I even deserved a new planner to schedule my time with.

Lucky for me, I have great friends that quickly told me how stupid that was. I, just as much as anyone, deserve to have dreams and goals. So after I shed the excuse of being undeserving, I was left with the fear that formed that belief.

The fear was that I have been taken so far off of my intended path that I’m not even sure I know how to dream anymore. *dramatic*

That is a lie.

Of course I know how to dream! and Of course I am deserving of those dreams!


The truth is that the guidance towards our purpose or intended path lives inside of us. And no matter how far you wander from your life’s work, the path back to it can always be found again because it is inside of you. You just might have to wack away some of the weeds to see it again.

I realized that after living through some major life-altering events this year, this season was going to be more about integration than trying to set and achieve new things. I have experienced SO much intense change this year that has forced me to leave the weeds to grow wildly unattended. So now it’s time to clear the way again with a big ass weed hacker and get back to my path, with my newly-learned life lessons on my back.

So I returned to what I love: introspection and reflection. I put together a few of my favorite exercises and created the 2020 Vision Journal. This journal isn’t about setting lofty goals or building businesses or creating new years resolutions. This year, it is a tool to clear away the weeds and come back to center. It’s supposed to be a mirror to hold up in front of you to see the path you’ve walked and how it has influenced your growth as a human being. After learning yourself again, you’ll be able to look forward to the future and dream of what you might want to do next.

TLDR; This Vision Journal isn’t about DOING more things, it’s about integrating the experiences you’ve had over the past year and taking responsibility for your future to make a greater impact in the world.

2019 has taught me many valuable lessons and now I’ve been able to wack away the weeds. Now I can see my dreams with 2020 vision 😉

WE FREAKIN MADE IT! (click the photo to check out the 2020 Vision Journal)

“I love you, kid”

Okay yes, I just posted a picture of myself crying. Here’s the story:

During my last week in L.A. I had a MAJOR back spasm that left me barely able to walk or sit or breathe without pain. It caught me totally off guard and made me so angry because I had spend so much money and time the month before trying to heal myself from the same back spasm + pain. I thought I had fixed it.

My best friend + former roommate, Rylee, dropped everything that day to help me schedule and then drive me to an Alphabiotics Healer and Acupuncture appointment.

The first stop was with, Terry, the Alphabiotics healer. Alphabiotics is a healing modality that is based on an energy release technique founded by a chiropractor. Terry explained to me how the stress I have been under had been affecting my body. He reminded me how mind + body are connected and told me the goal of the session would be to release. I slowly and painfully got myself onto an elevated table and he worked his magic. He cradled my head in his arms and we worked through a few deep breaths before quickly twisting my head to the side. I felt a crack in my neck and down my back.

“It’s okay” he said as he stroked my head. “Let it out.” He paused.

I had no idea what he was doing or what we were waiting for.

And then suddenly a huge wave of emotion rolled up from the depth of my chest and tears started streaming.

“Good, release it. Let it go.”

And then we did the other side.

On my way out, this angel of a man told me I did a good job, and then said “In case you haven’t heard it today, I love you” I burst into tears again immediately. After all the treatments I’ve had this week those words were the most healing.

After my appointment, I felt exhausted and hungry (crying is a lot of work) I slowly wobbled down the street to get lunch. I allowed my tears to fall while I was walking and texting one of my friends that lives in New York. She was having a hard day with her depression, so I decided to venmo her $5 to get some flowers, cause flowers make everyone happy. It was my best attempt to be there for her despite the distance.

Shortly after receiving the notification of my tiny gift, she sent me a video of her thanking me with tears streaming down her face.

When I saw Amanda’s video I immediately thought “how beautiful are her tears”

Little did she know, I was also having a really rough morning and at this point, had stopped to sit on a bench and cry outside of a bank in Santa Monica trying to avoid feeling judged by the tourists walking by.

Eventually, I made it to lunch and back into my car to be zoomed off to my next appointment. In the car I thought about how important tears are, and how grateful I was for people like Amanda who share theit tears and healing unapologetically.

The culmination of my experiences from that morning shifted my perspective dramatically about crying. I knew it was good for me but was so afraid of feeling judged for it. I went from being worried about being judged for crying in public, so thinking the salty water running down my cheeks is probably the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in a long time.

I took this picture in the midst of that realization.

They are tender.
They are sweet.
They are cleansing.
They are healing.

After seeing my tears this way, they’ve flowed out of me more easily too, along with any pain or judgment living in my body.

I ended up sleeping the entirity of the next day. And I was back to walking again the following morning. That’s how beautifully powerful they are.

I encourage everyone to cry at least once this week. So much stress can get stuck in your body and it causes pain and disease if you don’t work through it and allow yourself to release it.


Take this post as an invisible permission slip.
Free yourself of the Judgement.

Cry.
Release.
You’ll be able to walk or maybe run better than you ever could before.