Annie Cattabriga-Alosa and I met in a strategic marketing class I taught for independent fashion designers at Portland Sewing. She had decided to shift from designs with more of a costume focus to everyday clothing and had just re-branded from Annieland to Volacious: Fit to Fly. At that time, what she said she stood for was to fearlessly go after your dreams, and she was doing just that.
After the class, Annie joined my very first BizDesign Group. She was always upbeat, with a “keep-your-chin-up, can-do!, I got this” energy. Then one day, tears. Beautiful, revealing tears. The ones that show us, if we know what to look for, exactly what the self-defeating beliefs are that are holding us back.
In our first 1:1 session, we uncovered her point of you phrase: “indulge your self.” (To this day, she probably will cringe when she reads this … smile.) The possibility this phrase represents is to “accept” rather than reject, your self. With this awareness, Annie began to see how she’d been doing everything she’d been told to do, so that she would “look” professional. While she had succeeded fully at looking professional, “looking professional” wasn’t the point. All of her efforts at “should-ing” were not manifesting the nourishment and fulfillment she desired. In fact, this approach was sucking the life out of her. The nourishment she most needed was to indulge her self … to listen to her own creative heart and inner wisdom. To stop following a path of “should’s” and start creating a path of “get to’s.”
Rewind a bit: Before Annie and I started officially working together, we met for coffee, just ’cause. In conversation, she shared something that felt extremely vulnerable to her: “I love to sing,” she said, choking back tears then, too. Fast forward: After uncovering her point of you, the nourishment she most desired was … to get to sing. And, of course, that felt self-indulgent and unacceptable. I remember saying, “Annie, what your business (& life) needs most right now is for you to sing. [Pause.] No, I’m not kidding. [Pause.] Are you willing to nourish your self and then see what new possibilities show up for you, that you cannot see from this diminished state of being?”
She was willing. And a few weeks later she showed up at our session with the words to a song she’d written and a simple recording of her singing it. My turn to cry. I was blown away. The song, titled “See Me,” is all about busting through her painful status quo to create new possibility — by indulging her self — and there she was, modeling it courageously. Below are the first verse and chorus:
I’ve been down this road before.
It only leaves me wanting more.
Well somewhere along the way, yeah I led myself astray.
Forgot who I was living for.
Oh somehow I got confused.
Was only trying to please you.
Pushed so hard for so long, without knowing what was wrong.
To my heart I must be true.
So see me.
I’ve been hurt and I’ve been broken but my heart is bustin’ open now.
Just see me.
Well I’m scared but I’m not hidin’ ‘cause my soul is gonna shine and I am free,
To see me.
By singing, she “got” how she’d been designing what she thought stores would want rather than what she really wanted to design. Giving herself the freedom to sing had helped her to see new possibility for her designs. It also helped her to understand and let go of big fears she had been experiencing in her personal relationship.
In planning and prepping for her wedding, another huge ah-hah was uncovered. We call it “the generosity of receiving,” and this understanding began to open up a whole new way for her to get to“be” in the world. We saw that Annie unknowingly defeated herself not only by “not accepting” her self (not being receptive to her own wisdom and gifts), she also had a hard time accepting gifts from others. This, too, felt self indulgent. It was fine to give (and give and give and give) to others. It was not fine to let others give to her. By denying herself the right to receive (diminishing herself), she was denying others the right to give to her (diminishing others).
This big breakthrough led to another huge realization. The more Annie “indulged” her self, the more her brand, Volacious, stopped resonating for her. Why? Because Volacious was conceived from the diminished side of her point of you — having to push hard to go out and get your dreams — and the point of Annie’s revolution is actually the opposite. The point is more about trusting and receiving our inner vision and wisdom, and being in sisterhood. It was less about the pursuit of our dreams, and more about allowing their possibility into our lives. We also got that Volacious, and the idea of “chasing your dreams”, was all masculine energy and was reflective of Annie’s self denial of her own feminine energy. With her new brand, she undiminished! After multiple brainstorming sessions and her own deep work, Divinia was born. The postcard (pictured below) showing her new logo and look says: “We embrace the mystery of our divine feminine. We manifest our magic. We are the Divina.”
In her own words:
“I believe every single person contains both masculine and feminine energies, and if we are human, we are a creation of the divine. This means, in my opinion, divine femininity is an intrinsic part of us ALL (although sometimes it’s easy to forget). There’s a way back to our innate feminine gifts that the world needs so much right now. I see this possibility for myself, and for everyone. I’m on a personal journey of connecting to ancient ways of being a woman, and finding expression and balance of my divine feminine and divine masculine energies. I’d love for you to join me.”
After several twists and turns, including a move to a dream farm in Bend, OR, Annie and her husband got the most unexpected and wonderful news. She was pregnant. With twin girls.
Everyday I get to witness extraordinary journeys of undiminishing. And frequently, what we think we’re moving towards isn’t our final destination … it’s just the next guidepost we can see from wherever we’re currently standing. Annie’s journey demonstrates this so beautifully. All the co-conspiring we’ve done, focusing on her business, turned out to be both all about her business and not about her business at all. Ultimately, embodying her own divine feminine was preparing her to be the mother of twin girls. No matter what she chooses to do with her business and how it evolves, the point of her revolution is crystal clear … and she’s living it!
Much love to you Annie, Sage, Loey Swan and Zara Myth.