We’re all works in progress. If we admitted that, it’d be so much easier.

WORKS IN PROGRESS

I saw a video of a woman lip syncing to a Kelly Clarkson song and my immediate reaction was: “WTF? Why is she posting this? Why does she think we want to watch her 4 minute lip sync dance party? This is lame.”

After seriously pondering this for a few minutes, here’s where I landed:

She posted it BECAUSE SHE FELT LIKE IT. Because she was having fun. Because she wanted people to lighten up, and shimmy to the tunes that speak to their hearts, the way Kelly Clarkson speaks to hers. Because this was her way of trying to connect, to inspire laughter and joy.

But why was this not my immediate response? Why did I have to exert so much effort to see her video through gentler, more optimistic eyes?

Here’s why:

I’ve got a hefty dose of cynicism floating around in my head. (I went to business school, after all, where cynicism is pumped into the air at 15 minute intervals.)

A lot of my life’s earliest experiences primed me to only value the A+ excellent, the high production value, top-notch, super-duper perfect. Because her video was not these things, I snarked.

My tendency toward skepticism and criticism is something I’m working on. It’s happening less and less, but it still occasionally rears its head. It’s one of my works in progress. And when it does show up, instead of attacking myself for being unkind or too rigid (used to do that – it doesn’t help – ever), here’s what I do:

I ask to soften. I invite compassion and hopefulness. I return to my desire for a wide open life that gives me space to be my true self, which means extending that same spaciousness to everyone else.

We’re all always learning and growing. I’m working on my stuff. You’re working on yours. To pretend that we’re not is to lie; to present false selves.

We are all works in progress.

If we could all get a bit more comfortable owning our messy, en route, majestic lives, we’d be so much kinder to ourselves when our old stuff shows its face. And we’d be more patient and tender when our friends and family flounder with their own messes. But most importantly, we’d probably spend more time laughing and participating in lip sync dance parties and really, what is better than a lip sync dance party?

Anything?

Puppies, maybe. But not much else.

So here’s to our in-progress-ness. May we never again be ashamed of the ways we’re still struggling. May we be kinder to our ever-growing selves. May we love our works in progress.

xo
Annika

Online dating, sexual assault and pointing the finger in the right direction.

#melonsandcourage

I got this message from a dude on an online dating site: hey sexy one got a big booty

After the punctuation captain inside me did a few head rolls, here’s what this message stirred up in me:

At some point (likely more than once), this guy learned that this way of thinking about and speaking to women works. He saw other guys do it with success, or he just fumbled around on his own and voila, a lady turned her head and actually responded. This way of relating to women was affirmed and proven effective, which is why he keeps doing it.

And that, we can do something about.

Yes, I was very tempted to spend a significant amount of time calling him an objectifying douche face (among 14 other things), but instead, I’d rather explore questions like this:

When was the last time a guy in my family or circle of friends and colleagues said something that I “let him get away with”?

Did I tell myself it wasn’t my business, or my place to challenge him?

Was I afraid he’d turn things around and label me ‘over-sensitive’ or say I can’t take a joke?

Even if we never directly experience sexual assault or harassment, we are all swimming in the same waters, so ignoring that teenager’s “joke” or overlooking your co-worker’s comments about a celebrity’s weight or worse, your weight – these apparent non-actions are, in fact, active.

Every time I don’t speak up about the things happening in my community and circle of friends, I am helping archaic definitions of masculinity and femininity thrive.

We have a responsibility to one another.

The bar doesn’t get raised by some invisible contraption. WE are the bar-raisers. We raise expectations and teach our sons and brothers and lovers how to honor us. We create our standards, and teach our daughters and sisters that they are worthy of their own. And there are ways men teach us, too. We’re all always learning and growing.

It’s so easy to label someone as ignorant and write them off. It’s harder (and the work of true transformation) to look at our own history and behaviors and the ways in which we ever-so-subtly have made certain ideals and actions okay, simply by being silent about them.

We are always making a contribution. Is our contribution raising the bar or keeping it where it is?

Say how you feel. Question someone’s ‘joke’. Point out the hypocrisy, the sexism, the ageism. This is how the bar gets raised. One honest, loving (likely uncomfortable) conversation at a time.

Nobody said this soul centered life would be only puppies and caramel. Some days it requires a deep breath and ovaries the size of watermelons (figuratively, not literally – ouch).

Melons and courage to us all, lovelies. #melonsandcourage

xox
Annika

Being a dreamer does NOT make you lazy. My Future Visualization.

3 min visualization

Years ago I posted something on Twitter about the power of spending time every day dreaming about your future. A friend huffily said, “Dreaming!?! How about taking ACTION instead?”

Here’s what I didn’t say to her then, and I’m saying to you now:

Dreaming of your future IS an action. It’s part of how you consciously create, and plan for, your upcoming reality.

It’s short-sighted to focus only on the boots doing the walking. We also need to pay attention to the brain that told the feet in those boots to move in the first place.

Vision and action go hand in hand. Boot in boot.

I used to think it was enough to casually consider the future I wanted. I would let the whisper of those dreams float across my mind at random, and figured that was just fine.

But that casual consideration of my future made me susceptible to other people’s ideals and dreams for my tomorrow. So instead of making choices that came from my heart, I was floating along with the status quo and ignoring the low-grade dissatisfaction ticking through my days.

That all began to shift when I started spending just 3 minutes every day, sitting with my eyes closed, dreaming up the future I truly wanted.

And boombamshazam. Opportunities, resources and exciting ideas started to roll in.

And to be clear…

It wasn’t that I just sat there in visualization-mode and Life plopped all these shiny objects on my lap. Sometimes, those 3 minutes generated ideas and plans that required hard work and plenty-plenty sweat from me. Sometimes, during those 3 minutes, a person I hadn’t spoken to in years would flash across my mind, and it turned out they were the perfect person to help with a problem I was struggling with. Sometimes, those 3 minutes just made me feel good, so I was a kinder, more patient person for the rest of the day.

Spending time dreaming about the future you desire isn’t some hokey justification for extreme detachment or laziness. It’s a way that you’re consciously and actively creating your life, instead of just passively stumbling around in it.

What does your 3 Minute Future look like?

Let’s do it right now. Set a timer. Close your eyes and spend the next 3 minutes ‘seeing’ the future you want – in your business, in your relationships, in your body, in your joy.

Be open to receiving insights, guidance and encouragement.

Feel it, know it, and activate that future for yourself. Now.

xo

Astrology and the willingness to be complicated and gorgeous.

In most astrological traditions, your rising sign and your moon are considered 2 of the 3 most important signs in your chart. Both my rising sign and my moon are in Cancer.

Cancer feels all the feels. Cancer is soft, loyal and maternal. Cancer wraps you in a blanket and feeds you pie when you’re having a bad day.

When I first had all this explained to me, I latched on. After years of being criticized for being too sensitive, shy, and moody, I finally had language to explain my natural tendencies in a positive, affirming light. It felt like coming home to see myself so clearly inside a category of belonging.

But inside that craving for a label that explained me to myself, I became narrow-sighted. I defined myself by all the tender-hearted Cancer in my chart, and ignored the other important sign in the trio: my sun. My boisterous Leo sun.

Leo goes hard on the dance floor. Leo is a passionate, creative, bold fire. But I spent years denying this part of myself because that double Cancer was running the show.

I thought that I needed a single label; that there had to be one dominant trait that represented me more than the rest.

Because I have a lot of soft in me, I labeled ALL of me as soft. But the truth is that I am Cancer soft and Leo saucy. I am both, not either / or.

Having one characteristic doesn’t mean that you’re only allowed to be that one thing.

You can be fiery and tender.
You can be crass and cautious.
You can be sweet and unapologetic.

You are richly complex. Beautifully diverse. Confusingly (amazingly) paradoxical.

If you’ve been attached to a label that does not represent the fullness of who you are, here’s my advice:

Maybe you’ll need to shed some tears, and get all mopey about coulda-shoulda-woulda for a moment, but once you’ve had your good boo hoo, give ALL your energy to the person you’ve uncovered. The person made up of “both” and “and”.

Pour all your ounces into the vision of your current and future selves. Devote yourself to your complexity and the beautiful alignment of it all.

That old, limited version of you had its turn. Let your present self reign.

xo

Do you care (wayyy too much) what people think of you? 11 mantras to help you stop.

I’m cool in a crisis. I cruise through conflict and emergencies with a level, clear head.

But the minute I sense that someone I respect thinks poorly of me, the second I think they’re doubting my intellect, my attractiveness, my savvy, my integrity… I’m a heap. I buckle like a kick to the back of the knee. Staying in everyone’s good graces has been my life’s Achille’s heel. It’s a wound I’m still working on healing.

When I’ve noticed myself getting sucked into the abyss of people pleasing, these mantras have helped me break through the waves of anxiety and speak the truth that gets me back into my heart:

  1. They don’t own my worthiness. My worth lives in me.
  2. I don’t need their approval. My choices are valid because they are mine.
  3. It’s not my job to change their opinion of my intelligence, beauty, potential.
  4. I take back the power I’ve given to their assessment of who I am.
  5. Even with all the mistakes I’ve made, I’m still a good heart.
  6. I’m turning my attention to the people who see (and love) the real me.
  7. I’ve made too much of my life about what they want. It’s time for what I want.
  8. I’ve spent years ignoring how valuable I am. Today, I promise to never ignore my value again.
  9. (speaking to your heart) I’m sorry for valuing other people more than you. That stops now.
  10. I’m done with denying myself in order to please other people.
  11. No matter what they think, this decision is true for me, and that’s what matters.

Until next time, I’m sending you love and courage as you unhook from the beliefs and people that aren’t good for you.

xox
Annika

For my entrepreneurs who are keeping themselves invisible…

I created an online program that I was deeply passionate about, but when it was done, I didn’t actually ‘launch’ it. I quietly put up a page on my site. I buried a link to it from one blog post. I said very little about it on social media. Why? For several reasons. One is that I hated all the graphics.

I am not a designer, but aesthetics really matter to me. I have deep respect for the art of kerning, the rule of thirds and having things ‘just so’. So I hid the program I’d spent months creating, because the promotional graphics I paid someone to design weren’t pretty enough.

Do you smell the steaming pile of RIDICULOUS?

Sometimes, we have justifiable reasons for laying low. Sometimes, being invisible is a prerequisite to being seen. Sometimes, delaying makes it possible to blast off with bigger power and resonance.

But most of the time, choosing to be invisible is not strategic or healthy. Most of the time, we let the flimsiest reasons keep us (and the gifts we have to give) in the dark, because we’re terrified that we’re not good enough.

Maybe your website isn’t winning any design awards, but if your products and services actually WORK, we don’t care if your sales page includes a damn awful shade of green.

Maybe you don’t have the fancy certifications and degrees So-And-So does, but if your 7 years of real-world experience can help us solve a problem we’re struggling with, we don’t care whether you went to college or not.

If you have wisdom to share, experience and heart to offer, bring it up. Tell me the story of it. Give me a damn URL.

Don’t keep your good stuff hidden because you don’t have stellar Instagram imagery. (The people who write you off because they don’t like your font game are definitely not your people anyway.)

For those of us who are your people, give us what ya got. We want it. We need it. We really, really do.

xo
Annika

For my people who are resisting their inner work.

Think of an area of your life you want to see change. Think of the future you want in that area, your ideal. See it?

Now, here’s the part where I piss you off…

Put that beautiful future down. Tuck it in your jewelry box, or leave it in the center of the coffee table. Put it down. Just for a moment.

The future you just put down is what you want to create. What destruction does that creation require?

  • Someone else’s beliefs you’ve inherited.
  • The faulty logic you’ve put on the altar of your mind.
  • The lies and clutter in your head and heart.

These things are roadblocks to the future that’s trying to make its way to you. Before new seeds can be planted, the field must be burned and turned.

Some people are gung ho to do this releasing work. Others have resistance. This is what I tell my resistance people:

“I get it. You’re ready for the big change. You want the new reality NOW. But here’s the thing: The way forward almost always involves looking back for a moment. There’s stuff back there that is actively blocking your desires.

And yeah, you’re not giddy with excitement about this rearview-trippin’. I wasn’t either. It will probably (almost certainly) be uncomfortable at best, agonizing at worst.

AND.

This is what grownup, paradoxical, meaningful living involves. This is part of living a fully awakened, ALIVE life. Living intentionally is about more than exercise and healthy eating. It’s also about the willingness to look at yourself – really, deeply, look at yourself and then do the work of untangling, releasing and reviving.

The other side of this work feels like home. It’s the seat of your power. It’s deep belly laughs. It’s saying “Things are really, really good” with a straight face and heart. It’s NOT fluff – it’s tangible. It’s the progress you’ll see in your relationships, your business, even your skin. It’s real.

So take a deep breath. Lean on me. Be encouraged by the people before you who did really, really hard things for your freedom and your choice.

Breathe deep and let’s do this.”

xox
Annika

Do you let people in? To bleed you dry or to fill your heart?

keep people out

Many relationship experts will tell you:

Let people in.
Take down your walls.
Make yourself more available.

And there’s truth there.

However, some people are hearing so many of these “You just need to be more vulnerable!” messages that they’re starting to forget this:

Some of us need to let more people in, and some of us need to keep some people OUT.

There are seasons and situations that NEED walls. We are responsible for our own protection.

  • Maybe taking care of yourself has nothing to do with letting people in and everything to do with finally saying “No. That’s not okay anymore”.
  • Maybe honoring yourself has everything to do with sharing your heart with Person A and keeping your mouth shut when you’re around Person B.
  • Maybe right now, deep self-love looks like giving less and receiving more.

Distance can be medicine.
Quiet can be healing.
Endings can be liberating beginnings.

And on the flip side…

Sometimes, we use the language of soul and intuition to justify running from the uncomfortable and deeply healing things we need the most.

Once someone has shown you that you are safe with them, that you can trust them, are you allowing them into your journey?

Are you letting a carefully chosen inner circle see your darkest and brightest places?

If you’re an entrepreneur, are you giving your customers and clients easy access to your work?

This is part of how the sweetest love, the richest friendships and the most fruitful businesses are born: when we open up to people who recognize the honor of our opening, and act accordingly.

So, how accessible are you?

I bet in some areas, you could probably open more. Maybe it’s time to let your guard down and admit (to a trusted confidant) what’s really going on.

And in other areas, you might need to install a brick wall topped with barbed wire. And a moat.

Our lives need both: Easy Access and Hard Access.

More revealing and more space. More truths and more silence. That’s the paradox of being human. You need it all.

You are it all.

Love,
Annika

Expatriate workers + finding the courage to do your hard work.

In Cayman (where I’m from), the vast majority of domestic employees (housekeepers, caregivers for the young and the elderly, gardeners, etc.) are not Caymanians. They’re people who come from Jamaica, Latin America or the Philippines to earn a higher wage than they would back home.

I have spent my entire life marveling at how they do this. Their circumstance has never been my own, so I ask them questions to understand. I ask about their motivations, how they spend their rare off days, and how they manage the ache of being away from the places and people they love the most. I ask them how they do all this while perpetually feeling like an outsider in someone else’s country. In most cases, this is what their life looks like:

They work 6 or 7 days a week, usually 8-10 hours a day. When they get their weekly or bi-weekly salary, they buy groceries, top up their prepaid phone, set aside rent and bus money, and pretty much every other dime they earned gets sent back home, to take care of children and / or aging parents.

There’s a whole conversation to be had here about social access, minimum wages, and the complex lives of immigrants and people on work visas.

But today, I want to say this:

When I feel waves of fear, I remember Maxine’s courage.

When I think I want to give up, I remember that Nino’s resolve has never wavered.

When I tell myself that being away from my furry sons hurts too much, I remember that Roger has chosen to be away from his human son and is proud of the education he can provide for his boy as a result.

The lights of courage, determination, work ethic and the pure power of the human spirit live in the bus boy in the last restaurant you ate at. They live in the woman who cleans the last public restroom you used. These lessons in soul and stamina live in the bus driver who’s been up since 3am, the grocery store cashier who has 2 other jobs, and the hospice nurse working a double shift.

There are people struggling with physical and emotional burdens of monstrous proportions. There are people whose pain you can literally not imagine. And they got their ass out of bed and are making the best of their day.

Today, remember them.
Channel their energy and focus.
Embody their drive and discipline.

You don’t have to sit at the feet of a billionaire in order to receive wisdom. What you need is close at hand. What you need is already all around you.

Healthy vs Unhealthy ‘good enough’ thinking.

good enough

There are 2 kinds of ‘good enough’.

The healthy kind shows up when you’re in perfectionist-mode, obsessing over the details, second-guessing and making forty-eleventeen changes, instead of actually finishing the painting, publishing the blog post, or ordering new business cards.

Telling yourself, “It’s good enough. Share it with the world.” serves you when you’ve crossed over into thinking that your work is a reflection of your worthiness – to do the work at all, to speak your voice, to breathe, to exist. (It’s not.)

The healthy good enough comes in to help you ease your grip on the perfection no one can ever attain anyway. It’s about honoring your inherent goodness, and the good in what you’ve created. It’s about trusting that your creativity is infinite and you will be able to generate more, more, more. The healthy ‘good enough’ says:

You’re already worthy. Plus, you can do more (better) tomorrow, so let’s move on, sister.

And then there’s the unhealthy good enough.

This one asks you to believe that lackluster relationships (or none at all) are normal. It’s the good enough that says that you don’t have what it takes to be a creative, so just focus on the pay check and the vacation you’ll take 5 months from now.

That kind of good enough conditions you to believe that mediocrity and “It’s okay” is how your life is supposed to feel. It’s ho-hum, and mehhhhh.

The unhealthy ‘good enough’ isn’t satisfying because it’s not supposed to be.

You are wired for joy, passion, love. If you are perpetually feeling the opposite of those things (boredom, dissatisfaction, isolation), Life is trying to tell you something.

This ain’t where you’re supposed to be.
It’s time for something else.

Where in your life have you accepted that second kind of good enough? Where in your life have you settled for less than what your heart truly desires?

And the more important question: What are you going to do about it?

Because you CAN do something about it.

xo
Annika
 


PS. New thing! I’ve updated my Work with Me page to include single coaching sessions. If your heart feels called to make a change in your business or life, and something about me resonates, let’s talk.