A Return to Annie Roseness

For me, clutter occurs on the inside.

Sometimes it feels like my body is confused and disorganized. I can’t feel my feet on the ground. My mind can’t settle. My muscles feel loose and flabby. My skin feels tight and dry. Nothing about my body, mind, or soul feels pulled together and connected. I can’t tell where I am.

It is in these moments that I notice I need something.

I need to run and get nice and sweaty.

I need a good hour or two of a strong yoga practice.

I need to duck-dive into the ocean and enjoy a good surf.

I need to eat nothing but healthy, unprocessed foods all day long.

I need to clean my space.

I need to remove all clutter.

I need to sit on the floor and conduct a full body scan and meditate.

I need to open my journal, pull out my markers, and create.

I need to return myself to my promises, intentions, and goals.

I need to address something I’ve been avoiding.

I need to sit with my husband and connect.

All of these things, I notice, with the exception of connecting with my husband, I need to do alone.

I need my alone time. Time to let my molecules settle without being influenced by anyone else’s.

I need time to feel me without feeling someone else. I need to close the door. Open my heart. And just be.

In love and liminality,

Annie Rose

White Girl

At the beginning of February I was in Nairobi, Kenya for a course called, Being a Leader and the Effective Exercise of Leadership: An Ontological/Phenomenological Model. The course took place over seven days. Close to 100 people from 14 countries participated. It was really awesome.

At one point in the course, the leader asked us to consider our “life sentences.” Our life sentences comprise the boxes inside of which we live, breathe, and relate to the world. In a nutshell, mine is, “I’M NOT SAFE.” Because of my life sentence, I see much of life through a filter of safe or unsafe. My jail cell, as you might imagine, is not exactly expansive.

As we looked at our life sentences, we looked at moments in life when we decided we would never be enough of something. We specifically looked at decisions we made as children. I wrote:

I’ll never be as pretty as that girl (omitting names here).

I’ll never be as cool as those kids.

I’ll never be as rich as the kids from Circle Drive.

I’ll never be as liked as everyone else.

I’ll never be white.

That last one threw me for a loop. I’ll never be white? As if to confirm it for myself, I looked down at the skin on my arm. It was white. I’m white. But there it was—I’ll never be white.

I wrote some more. I’ll never be rich, goody-two-shoed, safe, perfect, or fake.

Wow. So that’s what I thought “white” was? And I decided when I was 10 that I would never be that?

What followed was a series of life-changing insights.

I went to an elementary school with students from a working-class neighborhood (where my dad lived), a wealthy neighborhood (where white kids lived), and Stapleton and Park Hill (where black kids lived). From my little kid perspective, none of the white kids had divorced parents, all of them were rich, and most of them didn’t really like me. I found over time I had more in common with black kids than I did with white kids. In fact, I kind of hated white kids.

That feeling grew as I went to middle and high school. I found myself connecting with more and more black friends and feeling very out of place with white people. Nothing about the experiences they were having seemed to match the experiences I was having, and I was clear I was not one of them.

Yet I was also clear that I wasn’t black. Sure, I had black friends, black mentors, and spent much of my time submersed in black culture, but I knew I wasn’t black. Simple comments like, “You’re cool for a white girl” made that crystal clear.

The result was that I never felt at home. I had no real sense of belonging, and I wandered through elementary, middle, and high school feeling very alone, depressed, and scared. To compensate for my experience (something we always do in response to our life sentences), I became independent, tough, and introspective. I longed to make it on my own, avoid rejection, and discover who I was. My methods of compensation led me down many paths in my life—some of beauty and some of pain.

I shared this insight with my friends in the course and, on the last day, with everyone in the course. As I shared, I realized that not being white had served me well. It had lead me to understand white privilege and social injustice. It had sent me to school to study international affairs and political science. It had sent me to Africa, Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Mexico, Peru, and Portugal. It had taken me to hip-hop and African dance classes. It had stirred in me my passion for human rights. It had allowed me to fall in love with people of various races and backgrounds. It had influenced me to embrace and be proud of my Lebanese and Greek ancestry. I had led me to be at home in virtually every country I visited. It gave me so much.

It also made me blindly racist. For as long as I can remember, in my mind, people of color could do no wrong. White people, meanwhile, were almost always wrong. They were the capitalists, the wrong-doers, the colonists. They were the ignorant, the rude, the brutal. They were the shallow, the wealthy, the opportunists. In my mind, they could do no right. People of color, meanwhile, were always innocent victims. Pretty disgusting, right?

Until I distinguished it in Kenya, all of this simmered just below the surface of my consciousness. I never would have guessed that I made the decision to never be white. I have lots of white friends, I love my white family members, and I even sometimes embrace that I’m half English! (Funny, right?)

But I could never fully be with white people. Furthermore, I could never fully be with people of color. I could only really be with my 10-year-old assessment of what it meant to be any particular race. Even with my hard-earned capacity to love and honor people, I couldn’t fully be with the real person right in front of me, in the moment.

And one of the impacts on me, as I also shared with the people in the course, was that I could never find my home. I could never feel that I belonged.

After I shared my insight with the course, one of my soul sisters approached me and said, “Annie Rose, you belong to the human race. The human being is your home.”

And indeed, that’s true.

It amazes me that we always have room for growth. I have an enormous capacity to be present with people and to be authentically loving. I’m distinctly aware of my prejudices and incredibly willing to take responsibility for them. I’ve spent a lot of years looking at myself and distinguishing my disempowering contexts and stories. I’m incredibly self-aware. (I’ve compensated for my life sentence, after all, by searching for who I am.)

Yet here I am, recognizing and peeling away yet another layer.

The liminal space is open for infinite adventure and exploration.

Beautiful, isn’t it?

In love and liminality,

Annie Rose

(Here are some of my friends from the course. We spent 7 days digging into life with each other!)

12728763_10153885652717645_7489695534125861079_n Zolani and Meshack 12741900_10153885654977645_4828907502725469207_n Olive and Olayide Group Ashley, Samuel, and Damaris

Kristine Kristine

12744033_10153885665087645_5969175767100576129_n Rachael


In Her Arms

Africa. My love.

You, my dear, are sweeter than words can describe.

But I really feel I must try.

Knowing, of course, that I may never do you justice.

I can feel your arms, wrapped tightly around me, pulling me close.

I can feel your breath on my neck.

Your heart beating against my chest.

Your tastes, your smells, and your sounds gently caressing my body.

I can feel the beat of your pulse, so in sync with mine,

that it’s difficult to know where you end, and I begin.

There was that night that we danced.

And I fell in love with you.


There was that night that we laid in the dark,

your eyes piercing mine.

My heart interlaced with yours.

Your hands holding mine. Tightly. Passionately.

With love.

A million heavy pasts slipped away when I fell in love with you.

Thankfully. Deeply.

My soul was newly revealed.

My heart was newly held.

My being was newly loved.

I cannot imagine a world without you, Africa.

You are the heart, the soul, the beauty of the world.


I’m so in love with you.