The Power of Prayer

The first time I saw this post, my soul raised her fist up in the air and said
“YES!”
but then the next minute she lowered her head and said
“Wait a minute… no! We are losing something so valuable here…”

I came across this post for the first time after the Parkland school shooting, which was the event that sparked March for Our Lives. And then I saw it again… and again… and again.

The atmosphere that encompassed the image as it moved through the internet was filled with the huffs and puffs of people who were tired of watching horrible things happen while waiting around for someone to DO something. Myself included.

However, this image gives a visual to the fact that “thoughts & prayers” are now seen as a passive way to deal with the trauma our country faces today.
It completely frustrated me.

 
Thoughts & Prayers are anything but passive. 
Thoughts & Prayers are the first things you do before you stand up to fight.

The truth is that our thoughts and prayers should be the starting place for policy & change.
When prayer is intentional, clear, and direct it helps to mobilize our souls to make the biggest impact, & reach our ultimate potential.

I mean honestly, I hope future change makers take a minute to reflect and ground themselves before deciding on policy that impacts hundreds and thousands of people. Just like how students took time to organize themselves to march. (Just imagine how much stress would be saved if Trump decided to reflect before he tweeted lol)

I know, in the midst of hardship, it’s easy to turn to prayer as an emergency escape button…
but in my experience, it has NEVER worked that way.

Prayer does not give you superpowers and approaching spirituality with the expectation to get a quick fix to a problem that might have been developing for a long time doesn’t make much sense. To treat it this way will lead to constant disappointment. 

Instead… let prayer be the starting point.
The fuel to the rocket.

Let me explain the way it’s worked for me…

When I first started coming into my faith, I was surrounded by Christian friends who liked to pray for me out loud.

Instead… let prayer be the starting point.
The fuel to the rocket.

Let me explain the way it’s worked for me…

When I first started coming into my faith, I was surrounded by Christian friends who liked to pray for me out loud.

“God, redeemer and gracious king, thank you for my friend, Annabelle. Thank you for bringing her to my house tonight to spend time together. Thank you for gifting her with her love for people and her openness to learn about you. I ask lord, that you surround her in grace as she moves through these struggles, open her eyes to see you when things get hard. Give her strength to move forward in her journey, and remind her that she is loved. Amen.”

It was a really weird thing at first
but now I love it because every prayer looked something like this:
– Acknowledge who/what God is (which is awesome)
– Acknowledge what you are grateful for
– Acknowledge what you ask and how you know God will show up.

* Newsflash * none of the stuff my friends would say was crazy or outlandish (except for maybe the language – Christian lingo still weirds me out sometimes) and it certainly wasn’t passive.

It was simply a reminder.

After hard conversations about my healing, this prayer reminded me that I was loved and that I had the choice to show up, and the choice to accept the strength to move forward… a strength I would later realize was inside me all along.

Another Example…
Last week, I found out that my dad had attempted suicide. I shared the news with my mentor and in the middle of my tear filled text, I started to pray. My prayer was this:

“… I’m not waiting for God to show up because it is already here. & that is a beautiful comfort. God is all the good in the darkness & it is faithful & it is relentless. & I already see good coming from this.”

You see, prayer is different than what we think.

Prayer is not asking for something we don’t have…it’s not asking for a miracle. Prayer reminds us that the battle has been won, that the power of light & good is on our side, and that we already have everything we need to get through this moment. Prayer is a moment to reflect and express gratitude for the strength & gifts within you that were created to overcome this specific hardship.

The deeper your pain, the louder your worship.

It’s important to call upon this type of prayer in the midst of chaos because this is what grounds you. Prayer reminds you or truth & because of that, it will give you the clarity needed to move forward.

They key is, that you MUST move forward. Nothing will move through you if you sit still and do nothing.

Water won’t ripple without the stone.

so next time you pray…
pray with conviction
pray with hope
pray with expectation
pray with gratitude

and then go out there and be the conduit to manifest epic goodness in midst of darkness.

because God has already given you the answer to your prayers.
In most cases, the answer is YOU.

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.

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.

Poem of the Week

Sydney, Australia

 

Recounting past lovers of ancient days
Whose remnant love left me in a rushed dark haze
Some of these memories,
Are hard to digest
Especially when one
seems just like the rest.
My heart shrinks, my arteries burst
My body feels drained
My heart overwhelmed
It seems that nothing will change
I feel alone in my sorrow
The only one in my boat
My soul feels lost in space
& my body afloat.
But I realize it’s not darkness around me
It’s the hand of my maker
A voice says aloud,
“This is my child, let me shape her”
As my body drifts in currents of stars
His hands work as he whispers
This is what you are” A beautiful gift, a warm light,
Nothing will shake her
A woman of force, a bright soul,
a power of nature
A gentle smile with big dreams
She is a human worth
much more than she seems.

Here is the breakdown of this poem & what it means:
The beginning part sets the stage. The poem came to me after talking & laughing with a friend as I shared funny ex boyfriend & dating stories. Like how every single one of my college boyfriends ended up dropping out or in the hospital for some kind of mental illness.
The stanza
“Especially when one
seems just like the rest.”
Points to a recent dating situation I had that showed me a new pattern that I have developed recently in my love life that is equally embarrassing & painful.
I continues to talk about this feeling in the next few stanza’s but then at stanza 8 something shifts & God comes into the pictures.
His hands shaping me is really how my faith has already redefine my identity. That my relationships don’t need to be rooted in brokenness anymore.
The rest of the poem I wrote to remind myself of the truths that I’ve forgotten after the lies that brokenness has led me to believe.
That I am loved & I am worth it.
It’s to remind me that even though a boy chose to disregard my humanity, it doesn’t strip me of my right to deserve it.

Bella

Photo By: Alex Radelich

INTRO:

I skipped over to Alex & peeked over his shoulder to see the shots we had just taken.
As he clicked through the photos on the camera,
I shuttered in disgust & my stomach tied in a knot.
“Really?” He asked.
“I didn’t think that’s what I looked like” I said.
We were set up in a small apartment photography studio with a giant light, a stool, and a dark backdrop.
I met up with Alex earlier that week and when he suggested that we do a shoot together I said: “Let’s do some portraits in a studio with no makeup.”
He told me that was the craziest thing he has ever heard a female say.
Usually, you wear a layer of makeup to cover up imperfections that would be blown up under the studio lights, & highlighted by the zoom feature on a camera. Then you wear another layer of makeup to accentuate & “sex-ify” your features. (You know, make you look flawless & attractive)
But doing that for this shoot would have defeated the purpose of what I wanted to capture.
This shoot was to celebrate my make-up-less month of travel and also share what I’ve learned from the experience.
It also served as a challenge. I wanted to see if I could accept myself when a spotlight was pointed at my insecurities. I wanted to literally shine a light on my face, to learn how to REALLY love me.
Photo By: Alex Radelich
CATALYST: 

I was first inspired to put down my eyeliner after being in Haiti.
It was really hot in Haiti, and the make up I wore the morning that I arrived had melted off my face by the afternoon, and made the dark circles under my eyes 8 times worse, so I decided to take it all off.
Later that same day, we met up with some women who also weren’t wearing ANY makeup. Not even wear mascara. They were tanned & had messy hair and wore big dangly earrings. I was shocked to see that they didn’t even care to put concealer around their eyes! I remember looking at them and feeling so encouraged.
That’s what I look like too. That’s normal. I thought to myself.
The first 2 days without any makeup was really hard. I felt like I looked tired, and I wanted to cover it up, but I knew that if I did it would look a lot worse in a few hours so I sucked it up and eventually I realized the people I was with didn’t notice or care, which was nice.
After a little sun, my skin looked better and by the end of the week I felt much more comfortable & decided I could do away with make-up for the rest of my travels to save more time for adventuring.
Later that month, I hit, London, Ireland, and Colorado. And while I was traveling I began to discover new things about myself. I started to realize how I really felt about my appearance.
There was a distinct moment in Ireland when I literally avoided conversing with people because I was feeling insecure about the circles underneath my eyes that day.
Yes… REALLY.

Photo By: Alex Radelich

FACE IT:
On Thanksgiving, I face-timed my family and that insecurity was shoved in my face. My stepdad said “Have you been sleeping enough? You look tired”
I was offended immediately.
Later, I took a second to think about it… what’s wrong with looking tired?
I was hurt and upset because in my mind “tired” translated to “not beautiful” which translated to “not attractive” which translated to “not worthy”.
And then I asked myself, so what if I look tired? Does that really mean I’m not pretty anymore? Are my beauty and worthiness THAT fragile?
I know some people who are SO freakin beautiful & it doesn’t anything to do with what they look like.
I want that kind of beauty.
I want the kind of beauty that a sleepless night or a long day can’t destroy.
I want the kind of beauty that eyeliner can’t enhance.
I want the kind of beauty that doesn’t disappear when I wash my face.
But to get that kind of beauty I need to love me the way I am.
I have to remind myself that…
It’s not makeup that makes me desirable or beautiful.
It’s  the way I love people
It’s who I am at rest & at ease.
It’s the way I feel when I do something I love.
It’s me, being me, fully and authentically.
Photo By: Alex Radelich
THE TRUTH:
I realized that the more I covered up with makeup, the more I was ignoring a major problem & the farther I got from being the healthiest, happiest version of myself. 
I realized in that moment that I had internalized a lie…
“if you are not beautiful by our standards you are failing at your purpose.”
BUT we HAVE to realize that these standards aren’t real & this “purpose” is given to us by society, not our creator. Your true purpose is only something you can discover for yourself.
The photo-shoot I did with Alex that produced the photos you see on this blog post was at 8 in the evening. I was up at 6 that morning to work a 12 hour shoot day and went straight to the studio after we wrapped. I got there, took my hair down, washed my face, put on moisturizer, switched my shirt and got in front of the camera.
Literally.
It was terrifying because I realized I was facing this lie straight on.
& I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to reverse something you have internalized, but it’s hard, which is why I winced when I saw the photos.
I wasn’t judging these photos by divine beauty standards; I was looking at them the way I had been trained to look at them.
Photo By: Alex Radelich

Yes. Trained.
By commercials and photos and videos and movies and magazines.
Have short eyelashes? Use this! Want bigger lips? Use this! Get rid of that hair! Use this! Get even skin! Use this?
Think about this: How do I know if I need those things if I don’t know I have those “problems”? What if I don’t see them because I’m not looking for them?
We are trained to look for imperfections the way artists are trained to use colors.
But the sad thing is, most of us can’t we see ourselves as a creation the way a creator would.
I want to share with you what unedited, untouched, uncovered skin, face, hair, human looks like. 
Photo By: Alex Radelich
And now I get extraordinarily pissed off when I run into ads in the beauty world.
A hypersonic de-puffer?  (Literally saw that today, while I was writing this post)
Didn’t know I even needed that! I thought I looked pretty good today.
But there you have it, the beauty industry training me again.
Now it’s December & I decided to continue to challenge myself through the end of the year, or until I feel completely comfortable without makeup on.

Until I can see myself in the mirror aisle at target & WANT to take a selfie ‘cause I think I look so damn good.

And we are almost there… so far I’ve gone to a party, gone to a few business meetings, gone to a bar, gone to work, gone to the grocery store all without makeup on and I’m actually finally feeling much better about it. It feels SO damn good to like my face so much I don’t want to change anything about it.
Photo By: Alex Radelich

CLOSING THOUGHTS:

#1 There is absolutely nothing wrong with liking or wanting to wear makeup. I’m super excited to go out for a night all glammed out. The main purpose of this post was to share a journey with you & some lessons I learned cause I want you to love & care for the bare naked face you were given. You are normal & perfect the way you are.
#2 I am passionate about marketing business and communication and because of that, I can SEE when it is being used to influence in a NEGATIVE way. I want you to empower you so you can recognize when you are being manipulated and LIED to by people or corporations that want to make MONEY.  I want to empower you to ask questions and challenge what you encounter. Decide what your own truth is & recognize the real source of your value.
#3 Challenge yourself to go a few days without makeup on. You might learn something new about the person underneath it.

Photo By: Alex Radelich