Princess Annabelle

Photo By: @Itsjustayejay

I started organizing my goals and I felt like I just kept hitting my head against a brick wall. Nope. Can’t do it. Capstone Capstone Capstone. I like my project for Capstone but…

I’m over not having time available to chase my dreams or SET GOALS TO BE MORE SPIRITUAL –
do you know how ANNOYING that is?

I’m trying to better myself as a human being to make a more positive impact in the world and I CANT because I have to write a STUPID history essay about a fake “counsel meeting” (aka class discussion) from the perspective of a townsperson ABOUT THE PLAGUE. 
…. ok.
When I was little, like from birth – 10 years old, I thought I’d make a really good princess. I thought, wow, I’d really like to rule over a kingdom and take care of my people. I was convinced I was born in the wrong time period. 
One night, I had just finished watching The Princess Diaries on VHS in my parent’s bedroom when my grandma walked in. She sat on the bed and we talked about princesses. I told her that I thought I was supposed to be one. (duh)

Then she told me that I was.

Uhm. WHAT?
My 8 year old heart combusted.

She said that there was a book that traced our family all the way back in time to like the 1400’s, and that our bloodline was royal. She said that if the revolutionary war had never happened, I would have been the princess and ruled over North America.
SO incredibly false.

But to an 8 year old that knew nothing about History it made total sense.
Little 8 year old Annabelle with big dreams TOOOOOOTALLY believed it. I knew it in my bones that I was meant to be a princess. 
Obviously, I was pretty pissed when I figured out that she was lying about the whole thing.
(The book thing is totally real though and we do have a coat of arms from our ancestors that I brought to show and tell to prove to everyone that I was a real princess)
But the feeling I felt in my bones remained.  
Fast forward almost 10 years and I think I’m having another “aha” moment.

It wasn’t the glitter or the beautiful dresses or fancy things that a princess has that I wanted, it was the charisma, confidence and compassion it took to move & care for the hearts of people that I wanted to learn.
It wasn’t being a princess that captivated me, it was being a leader.
I’m sitting here still dreaming of my own adult kingdom.
Except when you’re an adult you call it an empire.
And instead of calling you a princess, they call you a Mogul.

I have dreams and plans and things to do and goals to set and accomplish. Building an empire and finding a team is going to take a lot of work but I know I can do it.

It’s just taking a little bit longer than I’d like right now because first, this princess has to graduate from college…..*eye roll*

Like A Fish

Photo By: A.J. Sanchez

I never had a hard time in high school with my academics.
I didn’t try and always made As & Bs. (Unless it was math – then I had to try really hard)
I felt smart…. sort of.  I went to a really competitive high school and everyone in the top 10% (which was 7 people) fought neck and neck for those spots and revolved their lives around their sport and school.
I was more interested in dancing and dreaming but that was okay, cause like I said, I made it by pretty well.

Until I took the SAT… and the ACT …. and made average to below average scores.
I thought I did well on them and was crushed to get those numbers back.
Does this mean I’m actually stupid?

I applied to 20 schools and got into all of them except one who I was waitlisted for and then never heard back from.

I got into my top choice, Southwestern Universtiy, which was (and I think still is) considered an “Ivy League” of the south with a fat 4-year scholarship.

I  also got placed into the “special help” program at like my 7th choice school, UTSA, because they thought I wasn’t going to do well/wasn’t smart enough to be in the regular undergrad program.

Uh what?

Anyway, I have always been confused about my intelligence. I never knew if I was “smart” or not. My first year at SU I felt dumb as a rock. I was seated among a lot of 10% of the class students who knew how to study and could spend hours upon hours read flash cards and writing papers and reading boring-ass confusing articles for class.

Whereas I learned how to cut the workload by skimming articles and relying on my creativity and writing skills to save my ass. And 99.9% of the time, it worked. (Unless it was biology which I made a D is because no matter how hard I studied, my answer was never “specific enough”) And ended up how I picked my major. Communication is the art of bullshitting and you have to write A LOT.

Okay long story short, I’ve realized over the years how much I do NOT care about grades. And I was okay with that. I separated myself from the competitive students that were constantly making me feel stupid and worked on developing my talents and being a part of the real world. I did okay for a while.

Capstone. is. killing. me.
We had a visitor come into our capstone class on the day I presented my project to the class (we are at a halfway point and have done quite a bit of research and writing so we used this opportunity to get feedback and suggestions from our peers)

She talked to us about this post grad exam you could take to show off your problem-solving skills. “It’s like the SAT or ACT but for jobs instead. It looks really good on your resume”.  I was interested at first but the more she talked about it the more I realized I would not do well on that type of test because tests like that don’t measure empathy, or intuition, or compassion or FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN TRUTHS THAT I BASE ALL OF MY DECISIONS OFF OF.

Tears welled up in my eyes, and I tried to compose myself. I gave my presentation and felt totally lost and stupid compared to the other presentations that day because all I could think about was “you’re not smart enough.”

After class I walked to my car and cried.

It was terrifying to think that the world I’ve been trying to escape to – the world that I thought would be accepting of my different way of thinking, is actually favoring this dried out way of measuring skills.

I have been in a position before where I’ve had to read over resumes and select people for leadership positions and sometimes people who look great on paper MAKE TERRIBLE LEADERS or TEAM MEMBERS or EMPLOYEES. People who look great on paper can have really negative attitudes or be rude or racist or sexist, or just plain assholes that don’t give a shit about whether the rest of the company suffers for a mistake they’ve made. A resume will not show you how much that person CARES about your business or her JOB.

I just felt frustrated and thought of that quote by Albert Einstien that says “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it’ll go the rest of its life believe it’s stupid.” This whole do-it-for-the-resume / look-at-my-test-scores thing is not me. It’s not human at all.

I feel like a fish constantly here. That’s why I hate it. I know I’m not stupid, but I don’t have water around to prove them otherwise.

The Millionaire, The Rebel Rouser and…..Me?

Photo By: @Trustmyeye

My mom sent an article to the family group text this morning.
Apparently, Sam, my step brother, has all 5 traits needed to be a Millionaire…. nice!

I was like woo go Sam – buy me stuff.
Then I thought, wait why couldn’t I be the millionaire?
Which followed up with, well I guess because Sam’s the Millionaire.

Then this weird empty, lost-puppy-dog feeling wash over me.
I wanted a label too.
Without a label where do I fit? What do you call me? Where do I belong?
Labels… *Insert anxiety*

Then my mom texted the group:
“Every Millionaire has that one rebel rouser in the family.”

“I thought that was Kat?” I replied.
Katherine is my step sister and the one who threw parties when the parents were gone and smoked a lot of weed and dropped out of school. She’s in a really good place now, back in school with a steady boyfriend, but it took her a long time to get there.

Then I thought, well maybe that wasn’t truly rebelling because it’s an expected.

It’s a stereotype.
It’s not the nice stereotype but it is A STEREOTYPE.
It’s just the “rebellious teenager” stereotype, or “just a phase” identity.
It’s a feigned rebellion because once they realize your identity, you’re predictable.

It’s predicted that you’ll throw parties and smoke weed and get a tattoo or maybe a few piercings and hate your parents. That’s not really breaking any molds or defying any boundaries…(Sorry to the angsty teens reading this)

To be a true rebel is to be unexpected – to fight the mold in a way that doesn’t put yourself into another mold.

To be a true rebel, you must be true to yourself. 

You’ve gotta be you ’cause there’s no mold for that.
There’s no right or wrong way to do it. You just do. You live, you breathe, you love.
You might say the whole “be yourself” thing is super cliche…saying it is, but doing it’s not.
Becuase another person’s “be yourself” will look different than your “be yourself”…if that makes any sense…

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about who I am and what “being me” looks like….

So maybe I am a rebel, but I’d never call myself one. I’d just say I’m Annabelle.

Here’s the conversation for giggles:

Skeletons In My Closet

Photo By: @AlfieFriday
“When health is absent, 
Wisdom cannot reveal itself,

Art cannot manifest,

Strength cannot fight,

Wealth becomeS useless,

And intelligence cannot be applied.” – Herophilus

In my Instagram post, I said that “beyond physical health, there is also spiritual, emotional, mental, environmental, and social health.”

I want to go deeper into that…

Spiritual health is not just whether you believe in God or not, it’s about how you focus your energy. It’s about your pillars of truth and the things you believe in that keep you grounded. This is the center from which most of your decisions come from.

Emotional health is not just being happy, it’s about learning how to live with the things you feel and channeling those emotions out in the world in constructive ways. 

Mental health is your mindset which is influenced by chemicals in your brain and also has a very strong connection to your emotional health.

Environmental health is your physical environmental which is composed of a lot of things you can & can’t control. The things you can control are things like cleaning your room or organizing your desk. Things you can’t directly control include the amount of pollution in your city when a wildfire burns near your home, federal rulings on health care. 
I also want to add time management in here too. Learning how to influence your environment and the power you have to change it by how you spend your time is important too.

Social health is about the people you keep around you. It’s about all the different kinds of relationships you have and whether or not those relationships are lifting you up or dragging you down. Also, it calls to question how you treat others, which is directly related to mental and emotional health.

In reality, all of these things are very connected to each other but in modern medicine, we don’t talk about these connections as much.

Story Time
On my Instagram post, I mentioned how I’ve been saying no to a lot of things. 
It’s because I’m trying to gain strength, in my mind, body, soul, environment, and friendships to prepare for life after graduation. To slowly transition in order to give me the best shot in conquering my goals and dreams.

And I wanted to share how empowering that has been, especially after today -which is the first time I’ve really noticed it. 

Today, I chatted with a friend of mine who is also an ex-lover. It has been a few months since we’ve spoken to each other and after catching up, the conversation turned to where it used to always go. Sex. 

But today was different. 

I didn’t want to. Like I really didn’t want to even though I knew how fun it would have been and how good it might have felt. I know my heart is somewhere else and I wanted to respect that. I didn’t want to muddy the feelings I have or make it more complicated. I also didn’t want to share myself with someone I didn’t have feelings for anymore.

But I was afraid to say no.

And that’s kind of weird for me considering I am usually pretty good at doing what I want and speaking my mind. It weird for me to feel like I couldn’t tell the truth.

So I sat back with that feeling and asked why. 
That’s when I realized that I was afraid of saying no because I was afraid of not being valued. I was afraid of him getting mad at me and not wanting to be my friend anymore if I didn’t give him what he wanted. 

Well Shit.

That’s not a good reason.
I come first! 

It’s not selfish – I don’t want to have any kind of relationship with someone who makes me feel like I can’t tell the truth about the way I feel or speak my mind without him getting angry.

So I siked myself up. I told myself I was strong. I reminded myself of the commitment that I made about clearing out my life this season, which means saying goodbye to old habits and bad energy and clearing the way for the good stuff. And lastly, I reminded myself that I’d be perfectly fine (probably even better) if I didn’t have sex with him.

So I replied honestly. Instead of making excuses I told him I didn’t want to because my heart was somewhere else, but I did want to hang out as friends.

He flipped shit. 
Told me I teased him & toyed with him.
I told him I didn’t mean to – that I was trying to make a decision and that I was afraid to say no.

That part didn’t register with him.

After an angry phone call, he blocked me & 
I didn’t care.

I felt empowered.
I didn’t even cry.
I was proud of myself.
I took control of my body and my feelings and did what was best FOR ME.
And there is nothing wrong with that.

Of course, I felt bad that he felt so bad about the whole thing, and I felt bad that I bruised his ego. But if he really meant what he said he loved me as a person and friend then I would have expected him to respect my decision in a respectful way. He has no rights to my body – no one does. So to act the way he did was wrong.

Anyway, it was just another step I took to take care of myself in this new season.
I have also stepped back from my job, which has left me more time to strengthen my friendships and also prepare mentally and emotionally for what may lie ahead. I’m making an effort to strengthen my spiritual health by reading books, praying regularly, and listening to podcasts. I’m working out regularly, getting rid of a lot of my clothes, furniture, and possessions. 

And I’m doing it all because I want to be the strongest I can possibly be for the next phase of my life – and it’s working! I’m feeling better about myself and more rooted every day and I can’t wait for my next journey to begin.

The Point

I wanted to write this to remind you, the beautiful, strong, fierce, woman or man reading this, that you CAN say no and that it is okay.
You don’t have to convince yourself that you want it.
You don’t have to do it.
You CAN walk away.

Whether it be a draining job, an unhealthy relationship or a toxic environment, a bad habit, or whatever it is holding you back.

I’m taking care of myself now. And I love myself a lot. And it took me a reeeeeeaaaaally long time to get to this point, but it’s so worth it.

If you can’t think of anything that is holding you back I suggest you do some self-reflection because the things might be more invisible to you. 

Once you can see it doesn’t have to control your life anymore.

It’s like leaving a sock on the floor and then walking by it so many times that you forget it’s there – it becomes a part of your everyday life. It’s not until you decide to clear your floor that you realize you were stepping over it every day.

We have to listen to the way we feel in different situations and hold tight to what those feelings are telling us. Ask questions, dig deeper.

Imagine where you want to be or the kind of woman or man you’d like become and make the decision you think that person would make. Manifest what you want and say no to the things you don’t need or don’t improve your life/make you happy.

You deserve the best and you deserve to be healthy, but most of all you deserve your own love. 

The Day I Became Normal

Photo by: @Jackbolga
New York, New York

I hate the word normal.

Because normal is relative.
Because it’s not a consistent scale to base our judgments on.

What I really mean is healed, free from poor mental health.

I went to therapy for a long time after I was raped 3 years ago. I took a break for a while and then decided to go back about a week before I got into my accident because I was starting to feel depressed again. I kept wondering what was wrong with me. Something didn’t feel “normal”, and then when I had my accident, I ended up laying in bed for a solid week even though I had no physical ailment aside from the light burn on my left arm.  I felt like my reaction wasn’t normal.

But an abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is in fact, natural and normal. 

What is the “proper” reaction to feeling like your stuck in a place you don’t belong, living out your life for other people, and then witnessing your car get totaled by a drunk driver from the inside? 

Answer: There is none.
Becuase everyone processes situations differently in their brain based on their life experiences and about 10000 other things.

Anyway, fast forward a few months and about 4 therapy sesssions. I’m feeling better, & probably a little too excited to get this last semester of college over with and freakin graduate already.

I went to therapy last week, told her about my winter break and then started to tell her about my therapeutic goals for the semester when she interrupted me – “Before you tell me your goals, can I give you some feedback?”
“Yes of course!” I said enthusiastically. (I love feedback.)
“Well from what I see, you don’t have much to work on here. There’s no sign of mental health issues at all.”
“What?” Tears welled up in my eyes immediately.
“You don’t need to come to therapy anymore Annabelle. I even have a hard time writing my notes sometimes.”
“Are you serious?”
 ” Yeah! You have struggles, just like anyone else, but you are more than capable of handling them! I see no reason to keep you here!”

I laugh-cried.
She was surprised to see me cry & I told her it was because I was relieved, and felt so grateful that she told me. I didn’t realize how much weight I had been carrying from feeling “abnormal”. It was like someone finally checked under my bed and in the closet and found no evidence of any kind of monster lurking in the shadows. 

But I was also kind of scared.
Now, I don’t have something to blame my feelings on. I can’t use my ‘depression’ as a crutch or an excuse for the negativity I feel anymore. I can’t blame the monsters in my closet for my temper tantrums or making my room a mess. 
This is real life now, and real life is full of unpleasant feelings, and I am responsible for taking care of myself and cleaning my room.  

But with the fear came freedom too; and validation, and reassurance that not everyone feels things the same way, and that what I need to do to take care of myself and deal with those feelings, is okay, even if it looks different from everyone else. 

My struggle through healing from being raped and feeling unworthy has taught me how to take care of myself and not to judge those strange “abnormal” feelings when they arise. 
Suffering is just a part of life, even a happy and healthy one. This is it.

I’m not a victim of rape.
I’m not a lost girl.
I’m not unworthy.
I’m not fighting.
I’m not suffering.
I am alive.
I am living.
I am growing.
I am a survivor but,
I am also more than that.
I am 100% me.

Nothing is looming in the dark to pull me back under. 
There are no monsters in my closet, and that’s a pretty big deal.

Later I asked her about her opinion on the purpose of suffering.
She said “I think it’s growth. Pain always leaves an opportunity for growth – without it, we would never change. We only change when something is uncomfortable or hurts.”

Health is not the absence of disease or suffering, it’s more. It’s taking a changing circumstance and turning it into an opportunity for growth.

I found this online, and I think it’s pretty great. It’s what this guy, Dr. Ratson believes is a true meaning/definition/path to health.

“A person must recognize the inherent PURPOSE of his or her own life. The constant awareness of why you are here and whether you are working towards that purpose can help you to wade through the conflicting and confusing mass of expert advice. This is important because there is a lot of confusing and conflicting expert advice available and it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

When you feel unconditional LOVE for yourself and others, you cannot help hut feel that the entire universe supports you. There won’t be room for a cynical or hostile view of the world or its people. Many negative emotions arise from a cynical, paranoid and hostile view of the world. Believe it or not, but our view of the world affects our health. 

When you take total RESPONSIBILITY for your own well-being, you can trust and rely on your innate biological, psychological and spiritual healing power. Also, when you assume total responsibility, you can never abuse your personal power.

With inner FREEDOM, you can no longer be a slave to external pressures or other handicapping conditions. Inner freedom gives you hope for the possible and faith in the probable. You are then able to experience genuine joy. When you characteristically experience genuine joy, something interesting happens. Others cease to irritate you or give you any more grief, even though their behavior might not have significantly changed.”

– Dr. Ratson