Today’s Episode of “Annabelle Goes to Therapy”: The Story Behind the “WHY”

Today my therapist asked me:

“What are you most scared of happening if your business fails?”

He prepared to write my answer on the whiteboard, steadying the grip on the expo marker.

“That everyone will think I’m a fraud” 

He turned around and looked at me.
His eye widened.

“Wow. I wasn’t expecting that. That breaks my heart to hear.” He wrote it down.

Cue the tears.

Seeing that sentence written on the board reminded me of something that happened during my first year of college. Essentially, a group of girls who didn’t even KNOW me had accused me of doing something I didn’t do. They acted sweet and friendly to my face and then talked about me behind my back for the rest of the semester. 

When I found out what was happening I was humiliated. Suddenly it felt very unsafe to be me, and so I put on a mask, metaphorically speaking – like everyone does at some point in their lives, and distanced myself from people at school.

I didn’t even realize how much that experience had impacted me until today. And it makes sense. It was my biggest fear coming true. 

I’m a 3 on the enneagram. Three’s are often called “The Performers.” We are characterized by our ability to be a chameleon in social settings, and by our insatiable desire to achieve. Both of those traits are awesome – but they are often fueled by the fear that we won’t be loved for who we are; so we over-perform. 

But that’s not where my story ends – what’s really wild is that when that semester ended, I met my first mentor, Will. I’ve talked about him before and the incredible impact he’s had on my life, and I will probably talk about it for the rest of my life.

He was someone who took one look at me and saw me for ME. He saw all of my potential and my power and my passion for helping others before I could see it in myself, and he supported and believed in me to achieve my dreams. Like me, me. The real me. The me I was afraid people would see and not like. 

Flash forward to yesterday – I was sitting in my business mastermind group earlier this week frustrated. I joined the group to have extra support with the launch of this brand new Leadership Program called “Lead With Light” that my biz partner, Rayna, and I have spent the past 6 months creating.

I was frustrated because we were focused on marketing and I couldn’t figure out WHY I created the program or even WHO I created it for, which is a MAJOR mistake in business – don’t make things without SOME SERIOUS MARKET RESEARCH!

But I couldn’t help it!!! Something told me to create it!! I knew deep in my heart that this program had significance and would add major value to people’s lives but I didn’t understand WHY.

And then after my therapy session, it clicked.

I want to SEE you. The real you. Like Will saw me, and I want to help YOU see that who you really are is absolutely ENOUGH. I want to BELIEVE in you so that you can step up to the plate and confidently be who you were born to be. I want to believe in you so you can believe in yourself.

I want you to feel seen, supported & loved.

I want to see my students & stand for them.
But most importantly, I want to give them the skills to do the SAME thing for other people.

If you’re curious about the program , click the image below to find out more!

A Day to Remember

This weekend kind of weird. I was trying to figure out what was “right” or “wrong” to do for the fourth of July in the midst of political unrest, rising COVID-19 cases, and my own desire to find a bit of joy in the midst of it all. I didn’t want to seem complacent but I also didn’t want to feel guilty for enjoying the holiday.

Should I celebrate?

Should I stay at home?

Should I get dressed up?

Should I wear black?

Ultimately, I ended up spending the day to soaking up some sun in the backyard and helping my mom and sister (Ellie) build a new tank for Sheldon, Ellie’s pet turtle.

This is Sheldon checking out his new tank.

There were no Fireworks. 

There was no BBQ.

There was no party.

I did however, hang out with a very happy turtle and reflect on the state of this country. 

And to my surprise, despite the growing pains we’re working through, I felt immense gratitude.

My father was an immigrant. So is my Maternal Grandmother. They both came to the united states from different countries in South America in search of freedom and possibility. If either of them had doubted their ability to create a better future for themselves, I wouldn’t be here.

No, it’s not perfect. In fact, this country is far from it. Right now, we are caught in a roller coaster of events, ideologies, and agendas. It’s easy to feel like all of our power has been stripped from us – like nothing we do will matter or change anything. It’s easy to feel hopeless and overwhelmed and frustrated and like you’re not doing enough.

I felt that this weekend. 

But as I was thinking about my family history, I was reminded that I am an agent for change. I was reminded that I have the power to impact generations and create a better reality for them, just like my dad and grandmother did for me. AND I am here to remind you that YOU are an agent of change too. WE have the ability to create a better future for ourselves.

You are powerful.

You have influence.

You are creating a new world with every breath and every word and every action.

That’s why self-discovery work is so important.
It’s important to know your feelings.
It’s important to know what it means to be in alignment.
It’s important because if we are going to change the world for the better, we need to make choices and take action from a loving place.

The world we create on the outside is an exact reflection of our internal world and the way feel on the inside.

I am here to help you figure that out.
I am also here to remind you that it’s okay to start small. 

The theme in the Virtual Big Sister Network this month is “Welcome”, and I think it serves as an excellent place to start exercising your power + influence.

How might you make other people feel welcome?
Start with your room,
then your home,
then your workplace or your classroom.
Then, that feeling of being welcomed, feeling safe and feeling seen will expand to the school, the town, the community center, the state, the rest of the country and the rest of the world.

What people don’t realize about influence is that it compounds exponentially. Each person you share a little of your light with is given the energy to do the same for someone else.

The catch is, we need to be reminded of what that light feels like sometimes.

It’s why I am here. It’s why I write. It’s why I started the community and the business.
My work is here, at this keyboard, writing this post to remind you just how powerful you are AND that you are supported on this journey to heal yourself and to change the world.

My work is to remind you that there is hope and that WE NEED YOU.

If you find yourself in a state of disarray and you’re looking for a way to check if you’re in alignment, ask yourself these Qs:

1. How am I contributing to the current situation? Can I change that?
2. Am I showing up as the best/highest version of myself? What would he/she/they do?
3. Have I considered and accepted the consequences of my actions? (Even doing the “right” thing has consequences) Am I still committed to my choices?
4. Are these choices from a loving place?
5. Have I taken care of myself and gotten what I needed to feel alive and happy? if not, Rest and Recover! It’s okay to rest so that you can continue to lead from a place of empathy and compassion. “Self-care is an act of resistance too!” -Lorena Roque
6. Start small. Do what you can to make the world a better place, even if it just means building a better home for a turtle.

With warmth + light,
AB

P.S.

If you’re struggling with processing the events in the world right now or need a gentle permission slip to release some emotions. I invite you to grab the Personal Check-In Packet.

If you’re still trying to figure out what YOUR work in the world is or how to use your gifts to create sustainable change in your community, the Purpose Packet will be really fun and insightful to go through.

Use the code “TURTLE” at checkout for 15% off.

“THE JOURNEY” to Heal

This image is what we lovingly refer to as “The Journey”
It is the process of growth.
It is a process to heal
It is a process to bloom.

The kind of “growth” we’re talking about here can be difficult to understand because it’s an internal process. We rarely notice the external signs of the change unless they are “obvious” or unless we know how to look for them.

What we’ve outlined here are 6 steps that serve as an imperfect guide to the change in self-awareness we might experience in this lifetime. These steps are generally experienced in this order but sometimes, life might have you skipping around a little bit + that’s ok!

This image is the “Social Justice” version of those same steps. I did it to see if it would help me manage my overwhelm AND help get a grasp on what’s happening in our world right now on both the individual and collective levels.

What’s really fascinating is that these steps can be applied to any national or global conversation/movement that has involved an oppressed group. It can be applied to the #BLM conversation happening right now, to the #MeToo Movement, to U.S. Immigrants + immigration policy, the LBGTQ+ community, the history of Indigenous people – ANY group that has been oppressed or marginalized.

I believe this current moment in history is a time of immense growth for most of us individually and collectively. To have deeper compassion + understanding for each other – and this is what I understand to be the path we take to get there.

In light of the #BLM conversation that we have all found ourselves influencing in one way or another, I have taken the liberty to carefully breakdown and outline each step using examples of racism in the U.S.

**I only took a few race/social justice classes in college so I have a minimal background/education in racial justice history. If you have edits you’d like to suggest, I’d love to hear what you might add or remove!

STEP 1: UNALIGNED + UNAWARE

Cruelty. Ignorance. Physical + Verbal Attacks. Systematically oppressing “others” in order to maintain power.

Individually: This might be expressed as murder, discrimination, racial slurs, slavery, implicit biases, and the overall acceptability and acceptance of this behavior.
Collectively: This looks like slavery, segregation, lynching, appropriation, outward violence toward an agreed “other”, etc.

STEP 2: NAME THE PAIN

Identifying problematic stereotypes, systemic issues, injustices, oppressive behaviors.

Individually: This is the recognition of their participation in the oppression, and questioning why the world is this way.
Collectively: This might look like an increase in conversations – oppressed groups finding their voice. It is the beginning of a cultural shift in the acceptability of these things.

STEP 3: CHALLENGES

Accepting the responsibility to heal. Desire to face the discomfort that comes with change.
Individually: This might look like choosing to stop using certain words, supporting certain companies or policies.
Collectively: This looks like demanding structural change through protests, petitions, policy changes. Pushing past “band-aid” fixes.

STEP 4: LEARN THE LESSONS

Seeking guides or educational material, to learn more about the circumstances and how to change them. 

Collectively: This might look like acknowledging the hardships endured by the oppressed group and understanding why these things are wrong.
Individually: This looks like following educators on social media, reading books, listening to podcasts.

STEP 5: FIND YOUR TRIBE  -> INTEGRATION + INFLUENCE

Integrating the things you’ve learned into your daily life. Share these practices with your circle of influence.

Collectively: Integrating the “other” group. Formation of movements and organizations to educate, create change, & raise awareness.
Individually: Aligning with people whose values you admire/respect. Sparking conversations in your personal circle of influence, attending protests, etc.

STEP 6: BLOOM

Mobilize your community & resources to create new, inclusive systems.

Collectively: Redirecting funding to restructure broken systems, initiatives to close the gap between the oppressed and the rest of the community.
Individually: Implementing new policies to prevent injustice in the workplace.

My hope is that we can use this circle to understand where we are on our journey and then help each other to grow to the next step. I hope this step by step breakdown provides clarity and dissolves that overwhelm.

Figure out where you are & what you can do to keep moving towards a full bloom.

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.

Sun-shower

I feel stuck in “the in-between”.
Somewhere in the “upside-down”
Or maybe just caught in the rain.

Last week was my dads birthday and next week is the first anniversary of his death.

It’s been a weird week with a lot of feelings. And I’m anticipating these emotions to overflow into a tsunami throughout the coming week.

At the same time, I’m really excited and celebrating the birth of this business (Letters to My Little Sisters is OFFICIALLY a registered LLC as of last Tuesday btw! She’s a Taurus!)

But I find myself feeling guilty about the joy, because there is this dark cloud over everything and I know the rainfall is coming.

Yesterday, I was in a meeting with Rayna who is a course partner and co-host for LTMLS. Before we started she said: “I know next week is going to be hard for you. Is there anything I can do to support you?”
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I told her that I didn’t know, but that I was disappointed to have a dark cloud over such an exciting time for the business.
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She gently reminded me that alllllll of these feelings can exist simultaneously.

I can celebrate and grieve at the same time.
I can be excited about one thing and angry at another at the same time.
I can find joy in some things and feel hopeless about others at the same time.

All of these powerful emotions can exist simultaneously, and one does not diminish the other.

There’s room for both.
Neither is wrong or right.

Her words meant the world to me and it felt appropriate to share now, during this time, when many of us are hurting or feeling divided and conflicted about the things we see, feel, and experience. Many of us are already in the rain.

Being happy about the start of my new business does not in any way lessen how much I miss my dad or how shocking his death was.

It stands on its own.
It exists as another thing that brings emotion up in me.

Sometimes even the rain will fall while the sun is still shining. Even the sky experiences two seemingly opposite things at once.

But maybe these feelings aren’t meant to oppose each other, maybe they are meant to work together.
Maybe they are to remind us that we still have work to do.
We still have something to live for.