Motherhood

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Dear Reader,

In honor of Mother’s Day I am sharing a video I recorded about motherhood. I am not personally a mother, and believe it or, that is exactly what this post is about: my choice to postpone bearing babies.

I sit in my tiny-cabin, on a remote piece of land, tucked in the midst of hundreds of miles of National Forest land. I am alone here, absent of a partner, children, or even fur babies (however, a cat is soon to come). I have created a life full of independence, adventure, dance, travel and time connecting with nature. I wake up every morning and breath in the smell of pine trees and rich soil. I go to bed each night gazing at stars unpolluted by light. I am happy here, and each day I sink further in.

However, this is not the life I pictured for myself, long ago. In fact, this is not even the life I pictured for myself a few years ago. Instead, I thought I would be married and trying for a baby. After all, my mom was pregnant by 25, and I have always been good at caring for others. So why not? Why wouldn’t I follow in her foot steps?

Well ya’ll, it turns out we all have our unique paths, each perfectly valid and beautiful. But my path is my own, and I have molded it unexpected ways, thrown in u-turns, and sharp lefts where clear rights once laid.

As a result, this Mother’s Day, I found myself pulled in two different directions. Watch the video below to find out more — and please folks, share your own stories with me!

So here’s to the women waiting to be mothers, the women who don’t want to wait but can’t conceive, the women without wombs, the single-mothers, and the stay at home moms, to the women who chose to terminate pregnancies, the women who gave their children to other mothers, and to the mother’s who lost their babies. Here’s to every mother in between. Thank you for your choices, they are powerful and unique. I honor them and I honor you.

With love,

Annalise

Rerouting and Rerooting

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Dear Reader,

After 7 months of car-living, national park exploring, river showering, budget airline hopping and answering to absolutely no one but myself, I have returned home to the land of my youth.

Washington State welcomed me back a little over 30 days ago. And to be honest, it was a rocky welcome, full of awkward reintroductions to a life I once found familiar, way too many questions, and an absolute overload of people, tasks and buildings.

And quite frankly, I only made it harder for myself.

I’ve always been the type of person who commits 100%. When I left Washington to circle solo around the globe, I drove away from a life I wasn’t happy in and committed full out to life on the road, no looking back.

Similarly, when I returned home, I immediately unpacked my car, rifled through my storage unit and attempted to return to a life in Washington, without skipping a beat.

But it was too much. 7 months solo on the road had transformed me in beautiful and unexpected ways. I couldn’t return to my old life, old habits, or old routines. I’d left them behind for a reason.

Once I stopped pushing myself so hard, a few things fell into place.

For me, it’s been a rerouting and rerooting marriage.

Rerouting away from my old life in WA into a new existence here, filled with more autonomy, wilderness, adventure and independence — components I came to love on the road. And also rerouting away from the idea of 100% commitment and going all in. Instead, I’ve learned to slow my roll and ease back into rerooting. I’ve rerooted into the parts of home I truly love, my family and friends, the mountains and the sea.

This week I made a video for you all about this transition — because it is arguably easier to listen than to read… I know, I know, this pen and paper millennial is attempting to keep up with the times.

In this weeks video I speak in depth about my transition home and the important lessons I’ve learned. Wanderers often talk about leaving, and rarely talk about coming home. So today, I am bringing voice to the unspoken side of the journey:

If you have specific questions about transitioning to life at home (on the road, or anywhere in between) please message me here through my email forum or on social @empoweredwanderer.

Sending love and ease to all of you!

Happy Feminist Friday! I told myself this was a Feminist Friday post because it was on self-care, so do me a favor and let the category lines blur this week!

Xo,

Annalise

Evolution

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Dear Reader,

5 years ago, I sat in my college dorm room dreaming about marrying my high school sweetheart. I dreamt about the high paying job he would secure to support me, and about the children I would birth, love and devote my life to raising. I dreamt about a life revolving around a roll known well by women from generations before me. Wife. Mother. Carer of husband. Rearer of children. And when my mind wandered, it led me to a room off of the kitchen with plenty of light, and a desk where I could write. An after thought, a day dream within a dream, a hobby to keep me company while the kids were at school. But never a career or life fulfilling passion; just a little sliver of something for me in a sea of other’s needs, wants and achievements.

Not all marriages unfold in this way.

Not all wives are mothers.

Not all mothers are wives.

Not all women are either.

Not all relationships rest on a history of being claimed, relied upon and ridiculed.

But the way I dreamt it, the vision that evolved through books and movies, through constantly being told my worth was wrapped up in my ability to care for others — and boy did I have a knack for it — and a history of ownership and oppression, well, that vision had it all. A husband who earned the money, a million babies, and a wife who was buried by the life she was way too big for, but never had the freedom to reject.

But over the years, thanks to new books, an English literature major, discussions with powerful female professors and peers, and through reclamation of self and an identity outside “caretaker” my dream has evolved.

5 months ago I sat in a cabin in the French Alps, cooking atop a wooden stove, sparking candles for light, and dreaming about the glorious feeling of having an axe between my hands while I split firewood for my own remote homestead.

5 minutes ago, I checked the mousetrap, still empty after I found my first little guy last night; I gazed over at my bed, made just the way I like it, with my “I was not made to be subtle” painting hung beside it; and then peered out the window to find Luna, the car I lived in, on and off, for 7 months as I made a solo trek around the entire globe (to be fair I didn’t stop everywhere but I did make a complete circle). 

And now, I write to you from my couch, next to a fire burning in my heat stove, a pen in hand, light streaming in the window, free to write, unafraid of running out of time, of kiddos bursting in or a husband demanding dinner, living a dream that has evolved from a simple daydream buried within a web of misguided wants, and evolved into a life of joy in a cabin in the wild wilderness, a continuing solo adventure and a pen always in hand. 

I am free here. Untethered. Responsible only for myself, and my own care. Disposing of mice, shooing (to be clear, shooing not shooting) bats, and freeing spiders, hiking trails, writing poetry and continuing to evolve.

Who knows, maybe one day I will have babies and a long term partner and create a beautiful adventure with them. But never in the way I dreamt of long ago. Never in the absence of self-love, care and fulfillment. I am empowered, I am evolved and I am ever growing, just like the evergreens outside my window.

With love, and as promised consistent posts once again,

Annalise

Would It Be Okay?

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Dear Reader,

As the words tumbled out of my mouth a rush of panic washed over my body:

“Would it be okay, if we didn’t have sex tonight?”

What was I asking? Of course it would be okay.

It wasn’t a question, it was a god damn statement.

Why had I just asked a freaking question?

My head spun, I felt fear and frustration all at once.

I felt myself reverting back to a young teenager, afraid to disappoint, as if my consent was expected, and if I didn’t give it I would be punished, or worse, thrown away.

Why had my voice disappeared?

Was the assertion and agency I’d worked so hard to cultivate gone forever?

And then the soft response came, “Annalise, it really isn’t my decision. But I do think we should hold off for tonight.”

It. Really. Isn’t. My. Decision.

He was exactly right.

And I knew it.

I knew it the second the question left my lips.

It wasn’t his decision, it was my decision and my decision alone to give consent to touch, enter, or gaze upon, my body.

But some part of me, a young girl who learned that it was always her job to please a man, that her pleasure didn’t matter, and if she led a man down a path of expecting sex, she best deliver, needed reassurance.

And thank god she got it.

Because the response very easily could have looked liked so many I’ve received before:

“Oh baby, let’s just see what happens.”

“But you look so sexy, and you’ve got me so turned on.”

“Don’t do this to me!”

“Are you serious?! Why are we even here then?”

“If we keep going, I’m sure you’ll want it.”

I had put myself in a dangerous position by placing consent in a sexual partner’s hands, rather than in my own. I say this without blame or shame, I say this simply because it’s what happened. By asking a question, rather than asserting my needs, wants and lack of consent to proceed any further, I had buried my voice under the voice of another.

It was a wild moment for me, one I hadn’t experienced in years.

I’ve gone over it in my head a number of times, and over it verbally with the other party in this story who felt concerned when I asked rather than asserted my need to stop. And ya’ll, it is not until right now that I fully understand why I reverted so deeply back to some whack patterns.

After some back to back rejection and a span of feeling pretty lonely, I really wanted connection and care, and the part of me that learned that my worth was measured by the pleasure I could provide a partner felt great fear that I would be worthless, thrown away and ridiculed if I couldn’t deliver.

It’s outlandish right?

Well the haunting part for me is, it’s really not. It’s what I was taught, it’s what my friends and classmates were taught. Through the messages in videos, songs of our childhood and the lack of focus on female pleasure, consent and empowerment in our sexual education classes in school.

It’s all too common for women to put consent in a partners hands, it’s all too common for it to be ripped away from them.

It’s hard to advocate for yourself when for so many years you have been taught not to. For so many years you have been shamed for speaking out. And apparently, sometimes it’s hard even after years of learning new lessons and forming new, healthy and empowering patterns.

I feel grateful that I was in a safe situation, that I was met with support, love and a space to take back my agency. And I feel all too aware, that so many times before I was not, and I did things I didn’t want to do, unable to say no or speak up.

But as I reflect here’s what I know: the more we say no, the more we practice consent and reclaim our power, the more we realize our pleasure is absolutely essential and so is our comfort and safety. The more we step into ourselves and our voices and support one another in doing so, the easier making our voices heard becomes.

And when it’s hard, when we revert to the lessons a whole lifetime, a whole jacked up society and loads of traumatic experiences have drilled into us, if we can talk about that too, if we can take the shame away and come together to share and care for one another, then it all gets easier, it becomes a reflex to assert our wants and needs, rather than ask and hope we get the answer we’re looking for.

Our bodies are not question marks, they are exclamations all our own, and we choose what sentences they punctuate.

May you be easy with yourself, may you assert you wants and needs and take up space, may you know you are held and loved from afar no matter what!

With tender love,

Annalise

The Other Half

The Other Half - Exploring Empowerment and Fear

Dear Reader,

I write to you from Insomnia Coffee in Cannon Beach, OR. Everyone is outfitted in flannels and fleeces, sandy leather shoes and beanies or man-buns. I have definitely arrived home the Pacific Northwest, and I can’t help but smile as I look around.

This will be my last blog post as a full-time dirtbag for a few months (no, the posts won’t stop, nor will they get any less magical, they will simply shift into local wanderings and wonderings).

As you know, I am almost home to Washington state. I look forward to a Spring of log cabin hunkering and hiking, of flights to warmer states, and of mini road trips into Canada or the great the northwest — so I guess settling in for the season is a relative term for me, because clearly, I can’t go without wandering.

Nearly 7 months ago, I sat in this exact coffee shop, two days into my dirtbag journey. And today I am sitting here writing to you two days away from being home — how wild is that?! Talk about full circle.

My journey as a full-time solo female traveler began in this quirky beach town, and it is coming to a beautiful (and temporary) finale here as well.

I know this is exactly where I am meant to be, the perfect place to conclude this chapter.

I also suspect there are still a few lessons left for me to learn during this journey. And ya’ll, I see this beautiful space delivering them to me one by one. And of course, I want to share them with you!


This past week of wandering has been fraught with challenge. Although I would not categorize the challenge as insurmountable adversity, it has still thrown me for a loop.

Last Wednesday Luna, my traveling babe, broke down on the side of the highway. While she is now repaired and shining brighter than ever, in many ways her breakdown broke me.

Her breakdown reminded that while I had support from afar, that when shit goes sideways and you’re alone on the road, it’s solely up to you to fix it.

While many wanderers claim that their breakdowns and similar moments are beautiful because they reveal their true power and strength. I ultimately felt the opposite.

Yes, I proved to myself that I could handle unexpected challenges with a decent amount of grace and composure. I was reminded I could do it on my own, and negotiate and problem solve independently. But honestly (not to sound like an asshole) this powers and skill had been revealed to me long ago. Instead, the breakdown made me feel alone.

While I knew I could handle everything on my own, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to anymore. While being on my own was empowering, it was also lonely.


The next day, back on the road and bandaged up. We made our way to the California coast. Here, I wandered around a beautiful park, photographing wildlife and the ever-spanning Pacific. Still feeling lonely, but slowly regaining some peace.

And then all of a sudden a 70 year old stranger’s hand was on my ass. Okay, it didn’t happen that fast, there was a friendly conversation, a turn to walk the other way and then I was being groped. And with that, the peace beginning to seep back in was stolen.

I not only felt alone again, I felt violated and vulnerable.

I brushed off the touch, literally and emotionally. It wasn’t “that big of a deal” after all.


Later the same night I drove to four different hotel parking lots before settling on a safe place to sleep.

The next night I drove through three hotel parking lots and then onto a new city in the pitch black of night.

And then I booked a hotel room, hoping that four concrete walls would make me feel a little safer.

But instead, I sat rigid in bed with my bear spray and knife next to me, glancing frantically back and forth from the deadbolt, to the window where Luna could be seen.

I was afraid for my safety, and for Luna’s.

I’d rationalized and brushed off the fear all week, making excuses, naming the towns (and this hotel) as unsafe, and sketchy. Perhaps this was true, but it hit me all at once sitting in that hotel bed.

I felt unsafe because I had been violated.

I feared for Luna’s safety because she had broken down just days before.

The two experiences in tandem shook me, left me feeling alone and vulnerable.

And while, I often talk about time on the road as empowering, sometimes I also feel scared. And I think that’s important to write about too.

When Luna broke down, I wrote about radical acceptance, but that was only half of the story. This is the other half.

When that creepy old man grabbed my ass, I went on Instagram live and spoke about the importance of naming assault and inappropriate touch, but that was only half of the story. This is the other half.

Being a solo female wanderer has gifted me with so much. I have uncovered strength I never knew existed, I have handled difficult situations with grace, let go of massive amounts of anxiety, embraced health in a whole new way and taken the writing world by storm.

But, being a solo female wanderer has also opened up moments of fear, has given me time to navigate the difference between loneliness and being alone, and has presented some (manageably) scary moments.

And honestly, all of that is important. Often, I share less of the scary and more of the magical. But today I wanted to share both. Because both exist. Both have helped me to grow in different ways. And both have opened new doors.

You can be scared, you can be shaken, you can seek comfort and care and still be empowered. It is not a binary, you are allowed to exist in both camps all at once. I know I do.

And when I forget, when my empowerment feels fleeting, I am always met with reassurance.


And some of this reassurance came last night (I told you Cannon Beach still had lessons and magic to share with me, so here it comes).

As I walked back to Luna at dusk I saw shadows move in the distance. Instead of feeling the fear that has followed me all week, I felt excitement. I knew these shadows were harmless. Even more poignantly, I knew they were delivering a message to me.

I was the only soul in the parking lot, and without question I moved toward these shadows. And with each step I took the shadows transformed. A giant heard of Roosevelt Elk came to life in front of me.

I stood at a respectful distance away watching them. As they reached a nearby clearing they moved one by one down into the grass. They didn’t move haphazardly, they moved with intention, purpose and immense care for one another. As members of the pack moved into the clearing, two Elk stood aside letting them pass, surveying the surroundings. When the last two elk stood alone at the edge of the clearing they looked at one another and as the one on the inside stepped down into the clearing the final Elk stood watch, strong in the spirit of protection.

The whole scene struck me. I moved closer to watch them graze, and the leader looked over to me. With that I said thank you and walked back to Luna.

Last night, I slept peacefully through the night for the first time in over a week.

Last night I felt safe and held by something larger than myself.

And this morning, I hopped on my phone and read about Elk and their symbolism.

The first word that popped up? Empowerment.

In a time of fear and loneliness, in a time where my power had been brought into question, these Elk appeared to me.

They reawakened my power, they showed me what it’s like to feel protected and cared for, they reminded me of the communities that back me from a far, and they reminded me of the strength I hold within myself.


So today, sitting in this coffee shop, in the space where my journey began long ago, I feel grateful.

I feel grateful for the fear (not the actions that caused it, but for the feeling itself).

I feel grateful for the Elk and their empowerment.

And I feel grateful for everything in between — even the crazy annoying amount of people shuffling in and out these coffee shop doors haha (there’s no doubt that I feel happily alone far more than I feel lonely).

Wandering is always a bit wild. So, wherever and however you do it, I implore you to stay open. To remember you can exist in a multitude of feelings all at once, and some shadows lead to incredible light.

Sending you lots of love,

Annalise

Planet Fitness and Periods

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Dear Reader,

Here we go …

I’ve written about sex, about health education, about body hair and body love and now it’s time to round it all out with a good-old-fashioned “period talk.”

When I was in middle school I remember huddling up with my girlfriends to discuss code names for our periods. Yes code names. As if there weren’t already enough of those. You know, Aunt Flo, Shark Week or the infamous “that time of the month.”

But we wanted our own code name, so no one would know what we were talking about it.

In high school we’d maneuver tampons into our coat sleeves and Ugg boots and shuffle off to the restrooms in shame. Popping ibuprofen for the pain and cursing our bodies for their nature.

We are taught to feel shame for our flows, rather than honoring our bodies divine power. We are made to feel weak for bleeding when in reality it is one of great strengths. We have all heard the words, “Calm down, are you on your period or something?” As if our bodies betray us, as if they make us emotional, or unable to be calm.

But here’s the reality folks, I bleed every month and that is wildly incredible. The fact that my body syncs up with the moon, the fact that my cycle is 28 days to the day each and every month, the fact that I can tell when I’m ovulating, and that I can honor and love my period is insanely empowering.

However, occasionally, as a solo female traveler living out of my car, I go back to that pain and shame. I flow out of my empowerment, if you will. Because to be quite honest, bleeding is messy. And when you don’t have access to a shower every day you need to get creative with your hygiene.

While on the phone with my mom earlier this week, words came out of my mouth that I haven’t spoken in years: “My period is in the bane of my existence (when I’m on the road).” And as I said those words I felt ashamed, but not about my period, instead about my hateful words.

I love that I bleed. I love that each month I am reminded that my body is healthy, and that I will be able to carry a baby one day.

The part I don’t love, became clear as I spoke the words to my mom. Not having no access to a shower was the problem.

So, you’ll know the story if you read Wednesday’s post … I figured out how to honor my body and get myself a damn shower. I found a Planet Fitness, got a day pass, and washed the blood and dirt off my gloriously powerful body. And I probably wouldn’t have if I wasn’t bleeding.

So, in reality, being on my period is not only incredibly natural and beautiful, it gave me the gift of a shower.

On the more practical side, some things that work for myself and others are non-scented baby wipes for sticky situations, honoring your body and staying in one place on your heaviest days, showers at campsites and gyms that give day passes, drinking loads of water, avoiding tampons and switching to cups or period panties (less waste, no need to pack them out if you’re on remote land) and lots of undie changes whether they are period-proof or not.

So, to the folks who bleed, your cycle is beautiful, your body is powerful, and if you shift out of shame and into power I promise you, your period will repay you with gifts like Planet Fitness showers (or whatever tickles your peach).

Lots of love,

Annalise

Body Hair and Sexual Expression

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Dear Reader,

I write to you from a cozy queen bed, outfitted in a luxurious bathrobe and mirrors spanning across the red-orange wall to my right. It’s a sexy room, full of vibrance, spirituality and tranquility all at once. It radiates and reflects an idea from an image I reposted two months ago. This image is a quote that states:

I desire full sexual expression and intimacy in my life, to be connected to my body and unapologetically me.

In response to this repost my girl friend sent me a direct message and asked:

Do you find it more difficult to have sexual experiences with men, since you haven’t shaved? Are they judgmental?

And from the moment I received her question a blog post has been brewing!

Two weeks ago I wrote: Body Hair: I Actually DO Care and spoke about the stigma and the over-sexualization that comes with body hair, especially on social media. I wrote about the fetishizing of my natural human body and the gross assumption that simply because I embrace my body’s power to grow hair, I am somehow expected embrace every penis that is metaphorically shoved at me.

So folks, that’s part of it. But luckily, the majority of men who make these assumptions are easily blocked, told off, or kindly educated, depending on their approach.

In my day to day life I am quite discerning about the men who have the privilege to rejoice in my body. And this was a part a big part of my response to my questioning friend. I explained to her that as I have done the deep internal work to step into loving myself and my body in a more complete and unapologetic way, my idea of an ideal partner has changed as well.

During high school and early college I dressed and performed to attract a certain type of partner, a pretty-boy, put together and image cognizant. I dyed my hair and painted my face, I shaved my body and put my breasts on display. And as a result I got a lot of surface level relationships. Nothing that dived deep, nothing that even came close to embodying the quote I opened this piece with.

So, as I have stepped into my authentic wild woman, I seek out partners who are enlightened, who are wild, and present, who have done their own work and who love themselves and the natural world deeply. And as a result, I cultivate deeper and far less judgmental partnerships.

In a pure state of vulnerability, I will say that part of me also realizes that I likely avoid “pretty-boys” and men outside the conscious community because there is a still a small seed of fear planted inside of me. Fear, that I will be judged for the gardens growing in the groves and grooves of my body. But ya’ll, that seed is quite small, and I am powerful enough to let the judgement roll of my shoulders when it comes.

This being said, there is some judgement, there are boys who question my reasons for my body hair summing it up to a phase, a political or social statement, or simply a silly little mistake - a few too many days without shaving.

But it’s interesting, even the questioning men (not the ones in the above category, they don’t get my time), rather the ones who state that it is new for them, or they are surprised, these men who tread on new territory often don’t mind my body hair. My confidence, my love for my body and her power, my unapologetic voice that sings out without shame washes away any stigma and societal expectation these partners come in with. After all, it’s not their body and they don’t have a say anyway.

And ya’ll, when this societal expectation is washed away, when we come into our primal selves, when we stop thinking about what we are supposed to be attracted to and simply follow what we are attracted to, the need for a hairless body falls to the wayside. The spiritual, carnal, beautiful connection takes over and we return to our wild states with bliss.

In fact, as I reflect on distain for my body hair it is far more common for girlfriends to roll their eyes or cringe at the sight of my hairy body. As women, we have been taught from puberty (and before) that hair our bodies sprout is disgusting, so it only makes sense that hair on another women’s body would elicit such strong response.

But those friends have gotten over it, or fallen to the wayside because or other larger differences. And I have never had a man turn me away because of the corse and curly locks that wind around my body. But I know it happens. And when our natural bodies are rejected we must battle through deep shame and body-hate.

So the the truth of the matter is, you get to take care of your body in the way that feels best, sexiest and most empowering to you. If you want to wax, shave or trim, go for it! If you want to grow gardens, I gotchu girl! If you want to dance from one decision to the other, and back again, I support you. No one gets to tell you what to do with your body hair. And if a partner ever does, leave them. Immediately. They have their own work to do, and their education, frankly isn’t your responsibility. You don’t need their shame or hate.

And folks, please reserve your judgement, please reserve your words of hate, please know that just because someone else’s body is adorned differently than your own, they are no less or more worthy. Please stop fetishizing and over-sexualizing hairy and smooth bodies alike. Our bodies belong to us and us alone, they are not yours to criticize, sexualize or fetishize.

Instead, drop into a place of love. Block out all the societal static and tap into your deep desire, your beautiful corporeal being, and connect with yourself and others in ways that honor you both deeply and respectfully.

So that is what I have to say about my sexual experience as a hairy woman. Thanks to my sweet babe for the daring question, keep them coming, they spark magic!

With love,

Annalise

Goddess Gang

Goddess Gang - Calling All Babes

Dear Reader,

This week I’ve been writing a lot about what home looks like for me. On Wednesday I shared a little insight in my post: Home Is Where You Make It. I wrote about my struggle to calm my wandering heart, and my eventual realization that my heart is free to wander in and out of beautiful and powerful homes and communities around the world.

Well ya’ll, as I wander in and out of these homes and communities I intertwine with incredible groups of women. Healers, dancers, yogis, creatives, hikers, empowered freakin’ QUEENS! And sometimes I simply appreciate these women’s power from afar, while other times I dive right in.

During my unexpectedly long stay in Dallas, I have timidly chosen to dive in.

I’m staying on a property where two other goddess have claimed space. During the days filled with spring sunshine and brisk wind, it is just us (and three cats of course). It is a space of the divine feminine, of tarot card reading, naked sun bathing and open door policies. And folks, it is pure magic.

As I said, I timidly dove in, as I often do, if I dive at all.

As a solo-female traveler I am accustomed to my solitude, to days spent alone and long walks kept company only by podcasts. So, when I arrived home from one of these said walks and found two women sitting on the front porch, I spoke to them. And to my surprise the words that came out of my mouth sounded a bit like this: “If ya’ll want to hangout just come tap on my door.” And with smiles on their faces they told me to join them.

Something deep within my being told me that this spot (Dallas) was for connecting rather than appreciating from afar.

Here, in Dallas, I was meant to dive into a beautiful community of intuitive women, of tea dates and back rubs and dancing, of support and travel plans, of all the rad energy empowered women bring forward.

I am grateful to have listened to my yes, to have mumbled uncommon words, to have connected, and to have expanded my tribe.

Eventually, I will hop in Luna and drive away from Dallas, at least for some time.

But these female friendships, they will not fade into the distance, I will carry with me to each and every home I find across the globe.

Here’s to growing tribes of traveling women.

Here’s to you and your tribe.

Here’s to me and mine.

With love,

Annalise

Body Hair: I Actually DO Care

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Dear Reader,

I will start with my favorite quote about the gardens growing on human bodies:

“the next time he
points out the
hair on your legs is
growing back remind
that boy your body
is not his home
he is a guest
warn him to
never outstep
his welcome again”

- Rupi Kaur

Well ya’ll, as she often is, Rupi Kaur is absolutely right. No one, has the right to tell you what your body hair should look like, what it represents, or how it defines you. That is up to you, and you alone!

As a hairy woman, I often use the hashtag: #bodyhairdontcare.

But in reality, I do care. I care a ton.

No, not about other’s judgements. Not about the friends who pick up pink razors and shove them in my hands. Not even about the men who slowly slide their hands off my body at the first prickle of skin to hair.

None of that bothers me.

But I do care about the men who fetishize the hair that sprouts naturally from my body.

I do care about my body being commodified simply because I have allowed her the freedom to exist in a natural state.

I do care about the boys who slide into my DM’s and assume my body belongs to them, because my lack of trimming and tweezing somehow equates a lack of body-ownership in their minds.

I do care about the men who ask in hushed tones if I’m kinky because course curls blanket my underarms.

I do care, that somewhere along the way body hair turned into a fetish, rather than a normal body function and adornment.

It speaks to a larger objectification and over-sexualization of women’s bodies.


My body is not yours.

My body is not a category of pornography.

My body is not a kink waiting to be performed upon.

My body is mine.

My body is natural.

My body is healthy and flourishing.

My body is able to grow forest, and fields and rushing rivers.

My body is covered in hair and yours is too.

Whether you take a razor to it or not, it grows there.

So the next time you try to fetishize my body, stop, and think about the respect your own body deserves.


Next week I’ll write about body hair in relation to dating, sex and desire. I had a close friend ask me last month if men turned away from my body hair, if they cowered in fear or disgust, and I had a pretty interesting answer for her! Can’t wait to write about it in more depth next week! Stay tuned!

With love,

Annalise

This Isn't About You

This Isn't About You - On Letting Other's Opinions Go and Loving Yourself

Dear Reader,

Truth be told, I’ve been broken up with a handful of times in the past 24 years. The bulk of these breakups happened in my teenage years.

And every time the words: “We need to talk” left a man’s mouth, my mind jumped to a few specific questions.


Not:

  • “What is wrong?”

  • “What happened?”

  • “What obstacle do we need to overcome?”

But instead:

  • “What is wrong with ME?”

  • “What did I do?”

  • “What can I change about MYSELF, to make him love me?”

Nope, it wasn’t because I was self-centered. It was because I believed a couple things that are pretty wack.

These being:

  1. It was my responsibility to make people like me.

  2. If my partner didn’t love me or wasn’t happy, it was my fault (because it was my responsibility to make him happy). 

  3. My worth and lovability were defined by people outside myself.

As a result, I went through my teens and early 20’s constantly asking for “closure” as relationships and flings ended. And by closure, I really meant feedback about ways I could transform myself to be more desirable or lovable.

And let me tell you folks, I got plenty of feedback. I had a laundry list of statements men made during or after our relationship. Statements about my appearance, my sexual performance, my intelligence…the list goes on.

I internalized their comments, and strove to “improve myself,” never realizing their comments were not truly about me.


This past weekend I met up with friends from high school for Mardi Gras. As we spoke about my driving route back to Washington State, one of my friends, Charlie, mentioned a friend in Texas who might have a couch for me to crash on. 

Reminding me, “don’t get the wrong idea, this isn’t about you at all, but he wouldn’t be interested in hooking up. He has a wife and kid.”

I laughed graciously and smiled, I obviously had no interest in said married couch owner. However, the phrase in my friends sentence that stuck out to me was not “married, wife or kid,” it was instead: “This isn’t about you.”

I turned to my friend and said, “It’s never really about me anyway.” He tipped his head to one side and half smiled, perhaps not fully understanding what I meant. Fair enough, I didn’t expand, but I will now.


So here’s the deal. Here’s what I’ve learned after years of therapy, after a healing and loving relationship not only with a partner, but more importantly with myself…

This Texas couch owner was happily married with a baby. My friends joke about couch owners’ lack of interest was a playful way to clarify the type of homestay being offered. And in this instance, it really had absolutely nothing to do with me…

But even when if it was about me, it still would absolutely nothing to do with me.

I know, I know, you’re staying at your screen wondering if I’ve lost my mind. Let me explain.

Say this man in Texas was single and childless. Say he still had a couch for me to crash on. Hell, say he had a bed for me cozy up with him in. And say, when he looked me up on IG he revoked his offer and his bed. Say he texted my friend Charlie and asked him to “let me down easy and make up an excuse” because he wasn’t into any number of things about me:

  • I was too tall. 

  • I had body hair.

  • I  showed too much skin on IG.

  • I wasn’t blonde.

The list is never ending right? For whatever reason, say this hypothetically single dude didn’t like something about me, and therefore he rejected me as a result.

Well ya’ll, in reality, his dislike of me would have absolutely nothing to do with me. Instead, it would have everything to do with him:

  • HE didn’t feel comfortable dating someone taller than HIM.

  • HE wasn’t into my body hair.

  • HE felt insecure or possessive or any number of things about my body’s relationship with social media.

  • HE liked blondes, exclusively.

Yep, that’s all about him, his preferences, his insecurities, his beliefs. None of it has anything to do with me, my worth, or lovability.

  • I love my height, I truly think it’s perfect.

  • I choose to grow gardens on my body, because I think they are sexy.

  • I love my body and I choose to share it ways that make ME comfortable.

  • I am digging my natural hair color and think it’s beautiful.


When I realized that people can feel however they want about me, and it doesn't need to impact how I feel about myself, I realized:

  1. It’s my responsibility to make myself happy!

  2. If a man isn’t interested in me, he was never the dude for me anyway.

  3. NO ONE outside myself can determine my worth or lovability, that’s up to me. AND BOY DO I FREAKING LOVE MYSELF. And boom, all of a sudden, I am the most lovable person in the world because of it.

Getting wrapped up in how you could change yourself, what you did wrong, or what you could fix, does you no good (unless you really fucked up and hurt someone).

But ya’ll if someone simply doesn’t like the way you look, talk, act, text…whatever, that is absolutely, without a doubt, their problem, not yours.

If you change for someone who is so clearly not for you because they cannot see your beautiful worth, no one else will be able to love the part of you you squashed for someone else, not even you.

So love yourself hard, love yourself because you’re worth it, love yourself, not just so someone else can love you (that is a convenient perk), but because being loved feels amazing, and you can give yourself that gift.

So the next time a dude from Tinder doesn't text you back, a fling from the gym benches you, or your longtime lover moves on, remember, it’s not about you, it’s about them. And rest easy, knowing their opinion does not define you. You are every bit as whole and lovable as the day you were born.

Xoxo,

Annalise