Win Win or Lose Lose

Photo by @pumpkinspicnyc

Let’s begin this post by saying today was rough and I feel like a bag-o-shit.
Funny because literally 2 days ago I was feeling unstoppable.
How the heck does that happen? idk.

I started ranting about it on my IG during my rainy walk home from the subway station, but I’ve never been good at just talking my thoughts out – I’ve always been a writer, so I decided to delete the videos and just write about it instead…

So I’m competitive.
Especially with myself.
And I don’t think that is a bad thing. It keeps you aware of the situation and striving for more.

However, when you add insecurity into the mix, it’s not so good. This can create pettiness, aggressiveness, judgment, gossip, and a whole lot of negative feelings. The biggest one for me is that it causes comparison. I start comparing myself to everyone else that is similar to me. Becuase I feel like I work very hard to stay true to me and do work that is different, so if someone looks similar to me, or does things similarly to me suddenly I feel disposable.

Suddenly I’m sitting there telling myself that I don’t matter and that what I’m doing is stupid.

Which is exactly what happened today at this photography meet-up I went to. (More on this later because I definitely have some critiques on the whole idea of meet-ups)

ANYWAY – one thing I realized when I start doing the whole “omg she’s prettier than me & so much more qualified” thing – it makes me feel like a fraud. Suddenly I feel like everyone can see right through me – like I’m some sort of cheater or liar – some lowlife scum being a poser cause I’m not good enough to do it myself.

YA GUYS ITS BAD.

And I have run into a lot of creatives and entrepreneurs that have felt the same way. My theory is that it is because we are self-made; and because we are self-made, there is no consistent way to measure qualification. There’s no standardized test or degree that qualifies you to be a creative person or live the lifestyle you want. You get to be the judge of that, and that’s a very difficult weight to hold. It freaks a lot of us out.

I think that’s why we love social media – we love the feedback we get. It’s not attention we are looking for – it’s validation, because we are so much different from the norm. It’s to make sure we are on the right track, and to watch reactions of people consuming the work that we share. It’s support to know that we are crazy for follow our hearts and our dreams.

I don’t know, maybe I shouldn’t speak for all creatives, but I know for a fact that this is true at least sometimes for some of us. And then without any kind of support or validation, the cycle starts all over again and it sucks.

I know I shouldn’t have to look anywhere but maybe God for support & validation, but as a human and someone who like to share, it would be nice to know that other people see & respect me for me and my uniqueness, and to remind me that my uniqueness isn’t wrong.

Transtition Thoughts

Still Image captured from @ShangChueng moving portratit
Original is on my profile!

The new year is rollin out and 2016 is rollin out and all of my thoughts are rollin all over the place.

I got a flutter of magical affirmation of God’s presence in my life yesterday. Just enough to make me look at this incoming year, and the past one, through a whole different lens.

As some of you may know, either through my IG posts, or blog posts, or just listening to me cry in person, I’ve had a lot of pain this year, a lot of hard lessons learned, a lot of stress and anxiety about the future. And as a result of this pain, SOOO much more goodness has entered my life.

Yesterday I realized that it is so much less about having everything figured out, and so much more about trusting blindly. Faith.

This year challenged my faith in myself, my dreams and my work, but God has always pulled through.
This is not to say I won’t face similar challenges again – I just think God left me on a really good note.

Let’s review the past year:

1. I was afraid to study abroad because I didn’t want to be set back in my dancing and then spent 2 months in Spain, built really close friendships and improved my Spanish, and learned the importance of rest AND grew as a dancer in ways I’d never be able to do at home.
2. My car was totaled by a drunk driver a which triggered my depression and put me in bed for a week, a month behind on school and emptied the bank and then was blessed with a nearly brand new car, was reminded of the importance of family, and re-learned the importance of rest.
3. I became an ambassador for Free To Run
4. I published a book
5. I felt directionless in pursuit of my passions so I started building my own business and found a mentor for grant writing.
6. I stressed ridiculous amounts over the video I released today but now I can say that I produced, directed, danced in, and edited my first dance video, started learning Premiere pro, about teambuilding, editing and was reminded of how much my dad rocks.
7. I suffered a pretty big blow after the dance community in Austin started tearing in half I felt like I had lost a family but in their absence, I developed a full blown passion for artistry and respect for my relationship with creativity and then realized they never left me in the first place. <3
8. I started 7 books (at least) and finished 1 of them 🙂
9. I went to LA by myself 2x with absolutely zero plans and made really special friendships.
10. I went to NYC 3 times and met up with the founder of Conscious mag. <3
11. I pushed the bar to a whole new level in my modeling work, TWO times in the past year.
12. I felt like my passions were pointless and then began to turn my hobbies into profit.
13. I became a mentor for multiple young girls and a young boy.
14. I created a team and then let it fall apart and learned a lot in the process.
15. I felt self-conscious and hurt when people didn’t understand or didn’t like things I shared or made, but then I began to learn how to love my work for me, and let go of other people’s opinions (Still learning that one)
16. I cried over and over again, consumed with anxiety for the future and then remembered how very very very much I have to be grateful for.
17. I entertained a dysfunctional & toxic relationship, felt totally stuck in it, and then by the grace of God, found my balance again and moved on. Completely.

A lot of the things on this list came with a pretty intense amount of suffering, but in retrospect, I see how much this pain has taught me, and how each suffering or loss I had made way for something so much bigger and brighter and wonderful.

I really do believe that a lot of things will blow up this year, in a good way. I mean after all, I am graduating in May of 2017, and I believe this past year has been really preparing me to take on a lot of greatness next year.

So if you’re someone who believes 2016 was total shit, don’t worry. It was preparation for something beautiful to come. and if you haven’t figured it out yet, keep your heart and eyes open, because it will. It always does.

Take No L’s

Photo By: Shane Spangler

I’m Baaaaaaack!

Mostly.
Partly.
Kind of?

If you didn’t notice I was gone, let me fill you in.

I disappeared last weekend.
Vanished, under the blankets on my bed.
Last Thursday I took a pretty big L.

The Trigger:
My two beautiful, wonderful, super fun friends from L.A. drove their big R.V. into Austin last week. You might know them as Alex and Dalton from ARK Project (@arkprojectnow). Well, we had a lot of fun roaming around the city until their RV got broken into, so we decided we’d go out with some of my other friends for a night on 6th street to get their minds off of it. We had a good time bar hopping and dancing and drinking ( I was D.D.) until we encountered Patricia.

I was driving us to get a slice of pizza before the long drive home and CRASH.
My car jolted to a halt. I opened my eyes to a blur and heard a ringing in my ears. I smelled smoke and shouted, “everyone get out of the car!”

We were hit by a drunk driver.
Head on.

There was a lot of shouting. I looked over to see Patricia, our new drunk friend, fumbling with the keys trying to put her truck into reverse to drive away. Hit and run? Not if I could help it. I started to scream when I noticed three men had flung her driver door open and wrestled with her to keep her from driving off. I could see she was very overwhelmed so I felt that 3 men yelling and grabbing was a bit excessive. I walked over to them and shooed them all away. I turned to Patricia and spoke softly. I asked if she was okay and if she had anyone to call. I glanced down and saw blood smeared on her legs. Once she got a hold of the steering wheel for balance, she turned to me with blood gushing from her mouth and said “I’m not drunk”. That’s when the officer walked up and he handled it.

I was marching back and forth between my friends and the ambulance and my car in 6 inch heels. I stood strong and competent and helpful until I watched 4 men roll my poor car onto a tow truck. Then I just stared. My friend came over to me and put his arm around me. I thought about the road trips I had taken in my car, and the long talks I had with people in that car, the dents I put in my car (and in other peoples cars with my car) and the kisses I gave and received in my car. My car was gifted to me from my step mom after I got my license my Junior year of High School. It grew up with me. It was my freedom.

My favorite part of the whole night was actually our Uber (Not actually uber it’s an app called Ride Austin because Uber & Lift don’t exist here) driver who told us how excited he was that we got into a car accident and were going to the hospital at 3 am to pick up one of my friends because his night had been really boring.

I was not taking anyone’s shit so I turned to him and said
“So glad our misfortune is entertaining to you. That’s really fucked up”
He proceeded to change the subject by trying to put down the drunk driver, Patricia
“She was probably just one of those stupid sorority girls, you know.”
Which I again turned to him, looked him dead in the eye and said
“I’m in a sorority.”
“oh.”
Then a voice from the back seat.
“You are just digging yourself into a deeper hole dude.”

Then silence for the following 40 min home.

I didn’t cry that night. I didn’t cry the following days either. My L.A. friends made it easy to laugh…

The weekend was spent getting me a rental car, getting checked out by the urgent care doctor, picking up prescriptions, phones calls to my step brother who is a lawyer and my insurance company and then sleeping.

The Aftermath:
Monday Morning
Monday morning, my friends left. I felt fine until suddenly I wasn’t. I tried gathering myself together for class and had a complete breakdown and called my mom. She told me to call my therapist. And I told them both I got shaky holding my prescription medications from the doctor and asked my roommate to hide them from me. Just in case.

I cried hard. Really hard.
Tipping point.
I felt like I was suffocating.
I went to the park and posted one snap chat and one Instagram story saying I was going to take a week off to heal, then I deleted all of my social media apps.
Then messaged the people I was working with on side projects to let them I know I was taking time to heal and I wouldn’t be available for a little while.
I felt better.
I went home and slept.

Tuesday – Thursday
I slept for 3 days. Literally. Slept.
The following day I felt physically weak and emotionally numb. Tired and still couldn’t do much. I laid in bed and watched T.V. shows all day. I tried to get out once, but talking to people drained me.

Friday
I decided I was bored of feeling sorry for myself and done with thinking about my wrecked car. I got dressed up, put on make-up and went to a lecture.
Then I went to my therapy appointment. I sat down and stared a the wall on the other side of the room as the tears streamed down my face.
Now this didn’t just happen all of a sudden, this was coming. Like the way the sky gets dark before it starts to rain. People don’t just break out of nowhere.
“I’m so scared of this” I said. “I noticed this started last month, when I had a really good day and was smiling in the car and I realized that I haven’t actually been happy in a while” More tears. I didn’t realize how unhappy I was until I was finally happy one day and my smile vanished pretty fast after that realization.

This didn’t feel like me. I felt trapped. I felt like I was being invaded. Like my mind and my body and my life was being invaded by a thick fog. I couldn’t think straight. I thought in circles. Depressing circles. But I knew that some thoughts I was having wasn’t me, it was the intruder. And noticing that made me feel better. I went home and watched more T.V. so I would stop thinking.

I went to the store later that night and bought ice cream, oreos, chocolate chip cookies, and bananas.
I ate half of what I bought that night.

Saturday
I don’t remember much except that I decided to go out that night.
It was homecoming weekend and a lot of old sorority sisters and friends were back in town.
I saw a bunch of people.
Being around people and hugging old friends filled me up a little bit. I felt a little bit stronger.
The people I saw & spent time talking to reminded me that I have many more people to call than I realized. They also reminded me of the impact I can have. And how proud they were of me.
I felt valued.

Sunday
My friend took me to church. The pastor’s wife got up on stage and told people that she wanted to take a moment to pray for the people who were hurting. This isn’t a normal part of the service. And I knew God did it for me.
“Come up to the front of the room to receive your blessing”
HA, HELL NO.
Almost the entire congregation went up there, which I thought was beautiful, but I stayed in my seat and bowed my head to pray Forgive Lord, but there’s no way in hell I’m going up there. But I still want your blessing. I need your help to beat this invader. 
“No pressure. God says no pressure. God is going to do something spectacular today for each of you.” The pastor’s wife said into the microphone.
Okay. I opened my eyes wide….

After church, I went to my other friend’s apartment for breakfast and Game of Thrones.
Suddenly it started to pour. And a smile dashed across my face.
I love rain.
I love the smell it leaves behind.
I love the chill of it.
But most of all, I love the cleansing feeling it gives me.
A lot of times when I am sad it rains. Which is kind of a big deal because it doesn’t rain all that much here.
I re-downloaded Instagram and Facebook

On my way home from my friend’s house I saw a rainbow. Not just part of a rainbow, but the whole darn thing. It was magical. And I couldn’t help but think of church this morning, and of God. And my sadness lifted, and the fog thinned out.
I bumped the song “Yung God” by Russ and “Bounce Back” by Big Sean (Whose cover art for the single inspired the title of this blog post) If you haven’t heard them, look them up.

Conclusion:
Someone responded to my “see ya later” post on my Instagram and said “Oh yeah? What’s a week going to do?” Well sir, let me tell you.

I healed a little bit. I took time for myself to rest and to hurt and to go back to God.

I have no idea when I’ll get hit with the fog again, but I can say that I’m ready to move forward and I ain’t takin no L’s.

I’m too strong to be defeated.

Still though, the idea of jumping straight back into everything I was doing before makes me a little bit light headed, but this week, I will go to class, and that’s a damn good start for me.

 

All the Right Things for All The Wrong Reasons

Photo By: +Matthew Martindale

Yesterday I was totally consumed by stress. I literally couldn’t talk to or be around people because I was painfully aware that the terrible energy I had was contagious and that made me feel worse. So may things were suffocating me. Money has been really tight, I felt like my ideas were pretty useless, and overwhelmed by things from work that I didn’t understand. I had skipped class again and felt guilty, my goals seemed really unattainable despite all my effort and my future very uncertain.

I felt like I was “not quite failing”.
Not a total failure yet but definitely on the way.
Doing well, but not good enough.
I was doubting myself.

I prayed a lot. I snapped at my mom over the phone. I isolated myself, then asked for help. I drove to teach and smiled when Madonna came on the Radio. I went to sleep and then woke up.

Today was a new day. I woke up at 8 am to get to a 10am photo shoot an hour away. I scheduled it a week or two ago.
I came out of it with a new necklace and an offer for a few paid gigs with them in November to shoot their new line . Roughly $200. Each.

Then I had a phone meeting with the founder of Free To Run in the aisles of the produce & pasta sections of the grocery store. I recently became an ambassador for them! (Check it out Here: https://freetorunfoundation.org/2016/10/03/our-new-ambassador/ ) We were discussing ideas and next steps to take for my involvement. Ideas were bubbling out of me like a freshly opened bottle of champagne and couldn’t believe that I didn’t have a pen and paper in my basket.
“Yes, we have a small budget to work with if you want to produce some professional content.” Brett told me. OMG I CAN HIRE PEOPLE?!
Then something hit me. Right there next to the tomatoes.

I’m good at this.

I’m becoming what I wanted to be and for the first time I could clearly envision my job in the next 5-20 years.  “Opportunity Producer” was definitely it. Being someone who connects people, builds projects and provides opportunity…. 🙂

Sometimes I feel like a dog following a scent trail. This conversation was what I needed to define myself a little bit better. I found another clue pointing to the next dreams/scent to chase.

I was loading my groceries in my car when Brett and I wrapped up our conversation. “Well,” he said “I’m glad after months of waiting, I finally emailed you. I’m happy to have you on board.” “Honestly, If you had emailed me any sooner, I don’t know if we would be talking right now. You caught me in the perfect moment. I finally have kind of figured out what I’m doing!” I responded.

Later on, I went to the local coffee shop and ran into Scott. Scott is the area director for Young Life and I knew him from when I went through leadership training. We sat there and caught up and we talked about how God fit into everything and how pursuing things is pointless unlesss you have a deeper purpose. That’s what we came down to. Even the richest, most “successful” people can be miserable. The things that give us life and fulfilment are the dreams we chase and the people we love along the way.

This is how I see it. you have to work hard, really hard, but you don’t have to work alone. You work hard while being rooted in faith love and wisdom, and build the foundation that allows other opportunities to come into your life. You build the door together with God, so he can walk through it and visit you later.

I realized today that everything that happened, was on His time. He had a plan the whole time for me and it was my obedience in following my heart that we could get there.

God made your heart, following it is never wrong.

My day ended with an email from someone that works for The Megaphone (Southwestern University’s News Paper) asking to interview me, and a video chat with two of the coolest young ladies on the planet reminding me that they love me.

Recognition. Plans. Trust. Love.
All Powerful and amazing.
My God Loves in abundance.

I hope this post turnd out to be as insightful as I hoped. Today was truly special because I realized I have a purpose, my hard work will pay off without a doubt and I feel like I’m not alone. I will not give up. I will be exactly who I want to be  – exactly who God intended me to be. And it will be great.

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. ” Galatians 6:9

Just For Now

If you were to ask me what my mind is like today, I would say “Thumbtacks”.

I feel like Thumbtacks are flying at me. Not in a purposefully hurtful way…. they are just kind of throwing themselves at me. It’s just happening. 
It means I have a lot (too many) projects – tiny projects right now. Small projects and things to do that can either help me set up things for my future or just become a pain in the ass. 
And at the beginning, it’s very hard to tell which one is which. 
I feel like a lot of things are like that. 
Today I got to hang out with my friend Zach. We went to the 360 bridge in Austin and did a little photoshoot for his brand Live A Great Story (@LIVEAGREATSTORY). Afterwards, we got breakfast tacos and chatted about the pressing matters of life and purpose.

And the thumbtacks started flying. 

I’ve met so many beautiful souls, connected with countless creative people and I want to help them, be their friends, scratch their backs…. and they want to do the same thing for me. The trouble is that most of us are still stumbling around with thumbtacks trying not to get hurt.

He understood. He said he was in the same boat. “You don’t know what you’re doing, but you’re doing it.” SOML….

Later I got to chat with my girl Lauren. We’ve been encouraging each other for almost a year now and met through her company Every Ella (@everyella). She swears she can see my growth – I think she’s crazy, but also a lot like me so maybe I’m crazy too. We talked about our thumbtacks- The things in our lives that we are passionate about and excited to accomplish, but we also just don’t quite have the capacity to do yet. Whether that’s a money issue, or a time issue, or a priority issue, whatever it may be, it’s just a little bit out of reach right now.
I laid out all of my thumbtacks in front of her and asked for her opinion. Then she said “Annabelle, if you could mentor yourself right now, what would you say? What would you tell you?”
I laughed, very hard. Too hard. That was a damn good question. I gave her an answer I didn’t like, but it was the truth. “I’d probably tell myself to keep doing what I’m doing, keep being me and don’t give up. It will work out…..eventually.”

Not the answer I wanted because I can’t SEE what ‘it will work out’ looks like! I have no idea what that means. 

I guess I just have to keep trying to decorate my future with my thumbtacks and just hope it all works out.