Perseverance #MotivationalTuesday

“If you are going through hell, keep going.” 
― Winston Churchill
M.Lee Photography

Sorry readers, 
 I missed Motivational Monday…. I’ve had a pretty busy weekend and didn’t really have time to write. And when I did have time, I was feeling sort of down. I’ve had a couple bad days this week- feeling lethargic, stressed and sad. Just really down in the dumps for no real reason. I was starting to think I was slipping back into a mild depression again. But I’m feeling way better today. And I have accepted those strange days because it happens to everyone and it’s nothing to beat yourself up about. 

Anyway,  I started a #MM post on the day that kind of started my trend of bad days. 

Last week I did a drop in ballet class at a studio near my dad’s house that I had been to a few times before. I had originally planned to go Friday night, but I ended up going to a Broadway Music thing with my step sisters and went Saturday morning instead.
No one told me it was the most advanced ballet class on the schedule because most of the students in the class were actually in the BALLET COMPANY. Needless to say, I was brutally challenged and got pretty frustrated. In reality I kept up very well, but I still was embarrassed because I didn’t feel good enough. My extensions weren’t high enough, my chest wasn’t lifted enough, I was too nervous to spot well and it was my first class with that teacher and I had a hard time understanding her while everyone else kept up fine. 

I had a few moments where I wanted to quit. Just grab my bags and walk out. 
I had to take moment at one point and walk to the bathroom to keep myself from crying in class. (I cry when I’m frustrated) but then I came back and finished up. 
Afterwards I was happy that I didn’t quit half way. And then I wondered why I didn’t just leave.

Part of the reason was that it is very rude to do that. Walking out on a dance class is insulting to the instructor and the other students. ESPECIALLY in a ballet class. Plus that’s kind of embarrassing because then everyone thinks you can’t do it. 

But I knew it was more than that.

I wanted to keep going. 

I wanted to push myself.
Why? Because I love to dance. I really do.
And you never give up on something you love.
For example, My friends and family didn’t give up on me through my hardships. Through the scary dark patches of my healing journey they stayed with me because they loved me and they wanted me to get through it. 

So I wasn’t going to give up on this class. Even though it was kicking my butt, I wouldn’t let one rough experience ruin my passion. So I tried to remind myself, that there will always be someone better than me and someone worse than me so in the end it doesn’t matter. 
I have to dance for myself. Because it makes me happy. And that should be reason enough to keep going.
To do it for me.
So, what’s the point of going on when you feel like you can’t?
Because it’s a test, and all you have to do to pass is to get through it. 
That’s all I did in my ballet class. I just did whatever I could to get through it, and enjoyed the parts that I could.
That’s all I needed to do. I was enough. 
You are enough to get through it.

Dreams #MotivationalMonday

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive” -Howard Thurman

Copyright: M.Lee Photography

After working for almost a week at my internship in New York City, I have realized the importance of passion and dreams and the role they play in innovation, motivation and creativity. Your passion and dreams ARE (or at least should be) the driving force of your life; and life should be a romantic display of your talents and creations. 

In my eyes, a fulfilling life should play out almost like a love story. But instead of the hollywood theme of two young lovers, this story is focused on you and the impact you have on the world around you. This love story is how the world yearns for you to be in it, and to share what you love with it. Finding your place, and realizing the impact you can make. This story will be about how, the world is made better with the footprint you leave behind. A footprint that is unique to you, and could not be replicated in any way or in any time. 

This relationship between you and the world is important – so important that when you leave it, it will still remember you fondly, and the legacy of your passion will touch peoples hearts for centuries.

There is a reason you are who you are, and love what you love, and dream the things you do. We all have wonderful talents to give the world. The world is just waiting for you to see it. 

Contrary to popular belief, there is a place in this life for the things we love to do, and with a little bit of faith, that can be enough to provide for a beautiful livelihood. 

It’s up to you what your love story will be about; it’s up to you whether your life will be a best seller or an out of date dictionary  Whether it’s a story worth being remembered or carelessly tossed to the back of a dusty shelf.

But of course that depends on what is in your heart. If it’s consumed by greed, selfishness and envy, your motives behind your talents will only destroy the goodness in yourself and the world around you. No one will want to remember it, and your footprint will be covered as quickly as possible because it only brings negativity. 

It’s important to keep passion as fuel for the fire in your heart. Your success will be determined by your motivation. Combined with a generous character, thoughtful mind and kind smile you will accomplish anything, your success will be endless and your story will be remembered.

Because true passion, should inspire others. Creating an endless line of successful inspiration from a single person with a single talent and a single dream.  

Your heart is the connection to everything you love and everything that loves you.

It’s important to listen to it.

Chase your dreams.


Photo By : M.Lee Photography

After announcing the start of my new blog Instagram, I got a lot of traffic on the website, and that night, I started feeling things that I hadn’t felt since my last break down.
I felt exposed, and raw. And I got scared. I was scared of being vulnerable. I put all of myself out there.

My story, my projects, my ideas, my thoughts, my photos. Everything I had discovered, and a lot of my healing process. Out there, for anyone to either build up or tear down. I had no way of protecting myself from a harsh comment. If anyone shared any hurtful though it would hit straight through my heart. And there was no turning back.

Luckily, I had a few really wonderful responses, which gave me the extra boost of confidence I needed to continue writing and not worry about “haters”. Even though I don’t have any yet…. that I know of.

Because their kind words of encouragement and intense appreciation made it all worth it.

I told my grandma all about my story for the first time yesterday. She asked me why on earth I would post something like that on the internet for everyone to see.

I thought about it and I told her that the whole process of creating something good or useful, is so helpful to me. Like my dance video project, the paintings, or the photographs. But more specifically this blog. Writing my thought processes down and explaining my pain suffering and everything is so good for me. Cleansing.
I knew that if I didn’t give my suffering a purpose would have never gotten better and my depression would have consumed me.

I’d go crazy, absolutely crazy.

I would have been stuck in a sulking stage. “Why did this happen to me?” or “Why did I deserve this?”
Urgh thinking like that now frustrates me because it only makes you sink deeper. What is done is done, make the best of it or allow it to ruin your life. And this is MY life. I wasn’t about to let anyone else destroy it without my permission. I am a fighter.

In addition to that, I feel like there are a lot more people struggling with suffering than we realize.
Most of us judge people based on a few first impressions and don’t realize how deep they are. We see them in the moment, but not as a result of their struggles and accomplishments. What they’ve seen and lived through to get to that very moment.

Because most of them don’t put it on the internet. (HA)

But the result of my pain has caused me to create and connect in wonderful ways.
I’m very open. I’m the type that likes to share (unless its food), tell stories, explore, and grow.
Even though I write this as sort of a “self-help” book at times, I am still very much going through my healing process.

Maya Angelou

  1. Born: April 4, 1928 (age 86)
  2. DiedMay 28, 2014
“I tend to be cynical about a lot of things, but Maya Angelou is somebody that no matter how much I pick her apart, she still has integrity. She was a victim of incest and rape, and she worked as a stripper. And now she’s a literary icon and Nobel Laureate. It goes to show that life is cumulative, and you can’t devalue any type of experience.” – Humans of New York (HONY)

“I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and 

it will be better tomorrow. I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way 

he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree

 lights. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them 

when they’re gone from your life. I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as 

making a ‘life.’ I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I’ve learned that

 you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to

 throw something back. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart,

 I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to

 be one. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love 

warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. 

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but 

people will never forget how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou

Healing Photoshoot

FYI: This post has it’s own page under the tab “Healing photo-shoot” because it is one of my Projects.


After doing the photo shoot, Emilee shared this Song with me.
 After the Storm by Mumford & Sons 
And I thought it was perfect. 

“And there will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears. 

And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears. 

 Get over your hill and see what you find there,  

With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.”

The idea of this photo-shoot was to capture the growth I had accomplished so far, about nine months after my experience. I didn’t realize it when I came up with the idea, but the flower crown fit all too well with the concept.

Intro: Fire

I found this on Wikipedia about controlled burning:

“Controlled or prescribed burning, also known as hazard reduction burning (HRB) or swailing, is a technique sometimes used in forest managementfarmingprairie restoration or greenhouse gas abatement. Fire is a natural part of both forest and grassland ecology and controlled fire can be a tool for foresters. Hazard reduction or controlled burning is conducted during the cooler months to reduce fuel buildup and decrease the likelihood of serious hotter fires. Controlled burning stimulates the germination of some desirable forest trees, thus renewing the forest. Some cones, such as those of Lodgepole Pine and Sequoia, are serotinous, meaning they require heat from fire to open cones to disperse seeds.”

I know what you’re thinking;
“Okay Annabelle what is the point of that?”
Well I saw a parallel between the process of burning and the result of being damaged by suffering. 

When at first I could only see the destruction the fire left behind in my own life, I am starting to understand and appreciate the flowers that are blooming out of the ashes. 

In other words, for a while at the beginning all I could see and feel was how lost and broken I was. It was after I came to terms with my situation and gave my suffering a purpose that I started to learn about the importance of the experience of being broken and how to be broken.

In this analogy, suffering, pain and hurtful experiences are the fire and we, humans, are the trees. The trees seeds can be equated with our potential or happiness or both. 
In the middle of the paragraph it reads:

Hazard reduction or controlled burning is conducted during the cooler months to reduce fuel buildup and decrease the likelihood of serious hotter fires.” 

What is viewed as a horrible fire can actually prevent something worse form happening.
The suffering I have gone through has prepared me to endure worse pains or help others with theirs to reduce the risk of a bad situation becoming worse.

One might associate this along with God too.
A lot of people don’t understand why God allows us to suffer. “Why is there Suffering in the world if God loves us so much?”

At the end of that first paragraph on the wiki page it reads:
 Some cones … are serotinous, meaning they require heat from fire to open cones to disperse seeds.” 
Like these trees, sometimes we have to get burned down to release something else within us. 

 I’d like to use myself as an example of this:
As happy and mature as I thought I was before I was raped, I would never have been able to do what I’m doing now. People say Rape changes your life forever and it does; but for me it was also good! I would not have been able to create the art I have created, connect with the people I connected with or understood myself the way I do now with out being shaken, broken, and lost. 

And let me emphasize the fact that the process was NOT fun. 

I became depressed, I had breakdowns, and I hurt other people unintentionally because my judgement, values, and principles had almost completely dissolved into darkness. One of the scariest and most helpless feelings in the world is to feel lost in your own skin. With everything clouded, I had NO idea who I was and I tried filling in the gaping holes in all the wrong places.  But that’s how we have to learn sometimes. And because I suffered a lot, I learned a lot. That’s why I’m always posting “Motivational Mondays” on Instagram. I’m so excited about the things I’ve learned

Anyway I believe that God lets us go through the bad experiences because it opens our seeds. It lets us understand ourselves and others more deeply. In fact, I don’t think that we could connect with people as deeply if there wasn’t suffering. 

Our job is to keep our heads up and have faith that after the fire, our seeds will open up and our flowers will start to bloom.


Words: Strength, Vulnerability, Compassion

In this section of the photo-shoot I wrote words in the sand and expressed them the best way I could in a  single photograph.  

This kind of strength is not physical, but emotional, spiritual, and mental. 
It’s an endurance of self.
The strength of my friendships is what gave me the support I needed to get through it.
The strength of my faith in my self, and in God.
The strength of my mindset.
The strength to get back up when life had knocked me down.
The kind of strength that could only make me stronger.

Each of these things are so incredibly important in happiness.
And all of them require strength and discipline.

Without vulnerability there’s no way anyone can help you. Including yourself.
Being vulnerable is allowing yourself to be seen; allowing you to see yourself. 
Vulnerability requires you to trust people sometimes which is so scary. 
I am being vulnerable by putting my experience on the internet…(like whaaat!!!?) but I trust that it’s going to help someone else, and I trust that it’s going to help me too. 

Tears are a great example of vulnerability that EVERYONE has experienced. In our society tears are a sign of weakness. But through my experience they have been so cleansing, and people keep saying to me “you’re so strong” “tears don’t mean you are weak they mean you’re alive, and you’re feeling” – which for a while there was a problem. (Read more about that here) . But when you cry, people can physically see your pain, happiness, or fear. It exposes you, and that’s a scary thought. But in the end,  it is so good for you.
What I want to emphasize here is that you CAN be strong and vulnerable – becoming vulnerable takes strength. 


One of the most beautiful things about a person is the compassion they can share with the world. Compassion is a nurturing emotion and is often an indicator of our capability to love as well as a pretty accurate measure of our individual humanity. If we spend too much time beating ourselves down instead of understanding ourselves we become broken. This is self harm, even if you can’t see it in cuts or bruises, and it doesn’t help you get better.
 A lot of what I went through was confusing and I constantly found myself asking “What’s wrong with me?” Well, a lot.  But if I hadn’t had compassion and patience, I wouldn’t have gotten through it. Or learned anything from it. 

 At the same time, compassion for others is super important. Especially if they were as broken or as lost as I was. There will be times you may not understand why or how another person is hurting, but I guarantee if you just love them through it, they will start to feel the difference (even if you can’t see it). It’s the biggest way to make a difference in someone else’s life. It’s the best way to show the love of God. 
Just love them through it all. Just the way they are. Let them know their brokeness is okay, and can even be a good thing. Let them know that there is hope to heal. 
My friends were so good at that. 
I owe a lot of credit for the blooming of my beautiful flowers to them.