The Phoenix Rising Collective

Inspiring Women. Empowering Change.


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It’s Love Yourself First! Friday: This Phoenix is Danielle

How do you love yourself first? What does that mean to you?

Loving myself is an everyday struggle. I have always had the ability to slap on a cute outfit, keep my hair done, and my lip gloss poppin’, but that’s all it was — just slap on, never matching the inside.

After having a major life change and wanting to set a great example for my son. I make it a habit to remind myself how DOPE I am. If I notice I’m walking around with my head down, I will whisper to myself, “Hold your head up, Boo, it will get better.”

Loving myself means accepting all of my flaws, imperfections, fears and life struggles, and not allowing those things to get in the way of living my life to the fullest.

What actions demonstrate the self-care you provide to your mind, body and soul? (Exercise, healthy eating, spiritual practice, etc)

I have three habits I make sure I do once a week:

  1. I must listen to music that at some point feeds my soul. Be it hip hop, reggae, soul, house music or even some jazz. I need it like I need food.
  2. Dancing. I must dance!!! I’m no Debbie Allen, but I love to dance. My parents started the tradition that every Saturday night (after fish and grits) we danced. I have now passed that on to my son.
  3. My version of Super Soul Sundays. I wake up Sunday mornings before my son and make a very large cup of coffee, open the blinds in my living room, let the sun hit my face, and just BE, be happy in the moment, not worrying about what I have to do for the day, not focused on “Why me? Where’s my man, Lord? How much is this bill?” Just BE.

Is there an obstacle or challenge you’ve overcome that led to a deeper love for who you are?

I would never give myself credit for anything I achieved in my life. I would always compare my accomplishments to other people’s accomplishments. I have learned that my accomplishments are a part of my journey in life, and I need to be proud of what I have achieved no matter how small it may be.

What have you learned from self-love?

Self-love is the hardest love to give, but it is necessary in order to receive the love you deserve from others.


Love Yourself First! Friday. Phenomenal women who fiercely and unapologetically demonstrate self-love in action share their stories – powerful, honest, heartfelt stories that shed light on diverse ways to make self care, healing and whole living daily priorities.

Join the tribe! Share your story. Send an email HERE.  Just put “My LYFF Story” in the subject line of your email, and you’ll be contacted by the Phoenix Team with details on how to participate.

Join the Collective on Facebook and Instagram.


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It’s Love Yourself First! Friday: This Phoenix is Carolyn

 

How do you love yourself first? What does that mean to you?

I love myself first by checking in to see what I need to do in order to feel like me. I believe that life’s challenges and stresses can sometimes distract us from what we really enjoy about life and from what’s important to us.

Loving myself first means taking care of myself. Self-care in its many forms helps me get back to that true state where who I am and what I want are clear to me. Sometimes self-care is just maintenance and other days it’s recovery from life’s obstacles and distractions.

What actions demonstrate the self-care you provide to your mind, body and soul? (Exercise, healthy eating, spiritual practice, etc)

I find that yoga can really help me check in and monitor why I’m feeling the way I am and what I can do to remedy it.

Sometimes talking with a loved one can really help ease my mind and work things out in my head.

It can also mean going on a hike or a run with my dog, reading a book, or watching reruns of a favorite show. Other times I feel the need to be more productive and creative, and that to me is self-care, too. Cooking, doing chores around the house, or even taking care of some work that has been on the back burner can feel like self-care.

I think sometimes it’s the things I don’t do that can contribute to a distracting feeling of stress and lead to not being able to really connect with myself. It has also been extremely beneficial to me to figure out what I need physically on a daily basis to feel good. A good workout of some kind, vegetables, and at least seven hours of sleep are essential for me.

Is there an obstacle or challenge you’ve overcome that led to a deeper love for who you are?

There have been several challenges that have eventually led me to value qualities in myself that I either hadn’t recognized before or had seen as flaws.

One challenge was quitting smoking for good. It was a habit I tried to kick several times and finally something inside me just changed. I tend to retreat when I’m dealing with an internal struggle, and I do not like to ask for help. So, when I decided to quit that’s exactly what I did, and I’m so glad. I used to see my self-isolation as a negative trait, but through that situation I learned that it’s how I heal myself sometimes, and that’s okay. I love that I have that strength within me.

Another challenge was moving to a new city and new job, then realizing too late I made a bad decision. In our society, we really put a lot of value on persistence and not giving up on a challenge. This is especially true for women when it comes to relationships and for everyone when it comes to careers. I would characterize myself as a resilient and persistent person but only to a point. It’s something I saw as weakness for a long time, but I love that I recognized I wasn’t getting out of a situation what I was putting into it and did something to change it. It’s a quality I have tried to cultivate because I see it as a strength.

What have you learned from self-love?

I have learned from self-love that it is something we must consistently work on. Practicing self-love I’ve realized there are forces in our world that profit immensely from our lack of self-esteem, so they work hard to keep us disliking ourselves. I’m sure we can all think of an individual or two who has benefited from someone else’s lack of self-love.

Loving myself and loving things about myself that are easier to dislike right off the bat are a worthwhile endeavor.

With self-love I can be free to live in a way that feels right to me, in a way that allows me to listen to and honor my own needs.


Love Yourself First! Friday. Phenomenal women who fiercely and unapologetically demonstrate self-love in action share their stories – powerful, honest, heartfelt stories that shed light on diverse ways to make self care, healing and whole living daily priorities.

Join the tribe! Share your story. Send an email HERE.  Just put “My LYFF Story” in the subject line of your email, and you’ll be contacted by the Phoenix Team with details on how to participate.

Join the Collective on Facebook and Instagram


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It’s Love Yourself First! Friday: This Phoenix is Jazmin

How do you love yourself first? What does that mean to you?

It means taking the time to provide myself with what I need to be my best mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

What actions demonstrate the self-care you provide to your mind, body and soul? (Exercise, healthy eating, spiritual practice, etc.)

The primary ways I demonstrate self care are starting my day with prayer and reading the bible, yoga, and a cup of tea. It also means taking time to truly listen to my body and give it what it needs. For example,  some days my body won’t practice a preset yoga routine, so I go with the flow.

It is also important for me to eat properly. When making decisions about what to eat, I often ask myself, “How is this going to make me feel in an hour? Energized? Sluggish? Tired?” Live foods literally give me life, so I do my best to start each day with a smoothie containing fruits, veggies, and plant based protein like hemp.

Another way I take care of myself is by being spiritually sound; I am active in church, but more importantly, I have a personal relationship with God. Daily affirmations are also a key part of keeping me focused on self-love and my goals.

Is there an obstacle or challenge you’ve overcome that led to a deeper love for who you are?

Self love wasn’t always easy for me. I’ve had to overcome a poor self image, low confidence, and fear. I’ve had trouble loving myself and receiving love from others. Assuming that people would deem me unworthy and walk away, I kept them at a distance. Overcoming these obstacles didn’t happen over night. It took years. I started with refocusing my thoughts; then I moved on to choosing my words carefully. I am the first person to hear my words, and it is my voice I will trust the most on a subconscious level, so I began speaking life, even when I didn’t believe it.

What have you learned from self-love?

I have learned that the journey itself is to be appreciated. I don’t believe there is a “destination” because I am always growing and learning new things about myself every day. If I focus on the “destination” of self love, I’ll miss all the beautiful transformations that happen along the way.


Love Yourself First! Friday. Phenomenal women who fiercely and unapologetically demonstrate self-love in action share their stories – powerful, honest, heartfelt stories that shed light on diverse ways to make self care, healing and whole living daily priorities.

Join the tribe! Share your story. Send an email HERE.  Just put “My LYFF Story” in the subject line of your email, and you’ll be contacted by the Phoenix Team with details on how to participate.

Join the Collective on Facebook and Instagram


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5 Must-Do’s to Start a Healthier Morning Routine

Getty Images | JGI/Jamie Grill

Do you have a consistent morning routine? It’s important to have one because (wow!) it definitely sets the tone for your day. You’ll be less rushed, more centered, and ready to face the world outside. You may not be able to completely chuck the to-do list, but establishing a healthier “rise and shine” routine will give you the energy (physically and mentally) to handle it with more focus, balance and determination.

So, here are my top 5 favorite ways to jump-start the morning:

1. Take a deep breath.

Acknowledge that it’s a new day! Give thanks. As soon as I wake, I say, “Hello, God. It’s me, Ayanna! Thank you.” Side note: Yes, I adapted that line from the AYA ol’ school book Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret.

2. Give yourself time.

I know if I don’t carve out time for a consistent routine I feel off kilter; and inevitably, I start zipping through the house and usually forget something on my way out the door. So, set the pace to create balance and a calm exit.

3. Eat something good for you.

Your body needs energy and love. Have some fruit, a green smoothie, avocado toast or healthy cereal. Drink lemon water. Make it a treat, something you look forward to. It’s simple but effective. Prep the night before to save time.

4. Keep noise to a minimum.

Try not to take in any negative information. (Yes, like the news. You can get to that later.) Keep your thoughts positive. Engage in what will affirm the day. Listen to or read something uplifting and inspirational. I usually start with one of my favorite daily readers: The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo or I listen, while in the car, to a podcast I love: On Being with Krista Tippet.

5. Stretch/Exercise & Shower Meditation.

Move your body. Dance while getting dressed if you have to, but get the blood flowing.

Shower meditation is simply letting yesterday wash away. It’s gone, so while in the shower set new intentions for the day and recite affirmations. The water is revitalizing and provides a great sense of peace.

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Select healthy, rejuvenating activities that will work best for you in the morning and stick with them until they become habit. Your mind and body will thank you. The routine you establish will assist in creating a more successful, well-balanced day and healthier well being. It’s a powerful and practical form of self-care you’ll look forward to.

Challenge: Pick at least one of the top 5 must-do’s and begin incorporating it into your “rise and shine” plan. Journal about how the switch in routine makes you feel. Take note of how differently you move throughout the day.

 


Ayanna Jordan is founder and leadership trainer and coach for The Phoenix Rising Collective. She develops and facilitates women-centered, self-care workshops on how putting self-love into action can transform your life. Ayanna also creates coaching and training programs that support women’s professional growth in leadership, entrepreneurship, and passion-filled work. As editor-in-chief of Phoenix Shine, she is happy to be providing resources and awareness on topics that cultivate self-love and acceptance. Right now, she is most inspired by the LYFF series and She Makes It Beautiful. You can learn more about Ayanna HERE.

Join the Collective on Facebook and Instagram.


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It’s Love Yourself First! Friday: This Phoenix is Michelle

How do you love yourself first? What does that mean to you?

Loving myself first means living a values-based life. When my Dad, Vietnam veteran and hardworking Appalachian man, was first diagnosed with lung cancer I had just started my PhD program in clinical psychology. I had also just lost my Godmother (my Dad’s sister) to lung cancer. I’ve been working toward the goal of becoming a clinical child psychologist since I have been 13 years old. I have had to overcome my fair share of adversity: a late-diagnosed hearing disability, growing up in Appalachia, and being a first-generation college student. This translates into me being a hard-working poor test taker with a purpose to help others from underserved communities.

As I traversed the world of grad school my Dad fought for his life. He was cancer free when I matched for internship 13 hours away from my family. It was the final step before earning my doctorate. Unfortunately, his remission was short-lived. I completed my internship clinical work, working with the population I believe I have been called to work with – providing evidence-based trauma treatments to children and adolescents. As my internship was winding down, I needed to decide where to go for postdoc (the next step needed to get licensed and to solidify my research career). I was at a fork. Do I continue to weave myself tightly within the field of childhood trauma? Or do I move as close to home as possible to be near my family? It is with courage that I chose my family – landing in the stars with my post doctoral career. I value my career, and I value my family and friends just a bit more. Clinical work is emotionally and spiritually draining, but the reward reaped when I am able to help a child, eases the toll to my well-being.

Sadly, my Dad passed away just weeks after moving home. Knowing that I needed these two years to breathe and rest my tired heart, I happily engage my research postdoc. This is why I cannot in good, self-loving conscience be a full-time clinician. Instead, I choose to overcome the funding obstacles of research in a climate that is ever so hostile to science. I will do it with courage and a firm understanding that I am Appalachian, and no one can quiet my voice.

Michelle dancing with her dad at her wedding

What actions demonstrate the self-care you provide to your mind, body, and soul?

Self-care is a series of evolving lessons:

On nutrition: About 8 years ago I stopped eating fast food. I drink almost no soda and try to eat small portion sizes. About 3 years ago, I stopped eating all meats except fish. In the past six months, I started to eat minimal dairy and bread and mostly stick with vegetables, fruits, nuts, and beans.

On exercise: In grad school I started running – an identity I have never really embraced despite completing two half-marathons and several 5Ks and 10Ks. More recently, I have been practicing yoga three to four days a week.

On balance: I try to minimize how much work I am doing at home. I do not check my work e-mail on the weekends. When I am eating dinner, I do not have my cellphone out. I go see my Mom every Sunday when I’m in town. I spend time with friends at least weekly and have coffee in bed with my husband and our two cats on weekends.

On adventure: I travel to see friends, family, and for conferences. When I travel I like to get off the beaten path, go hiking, and learn about the local culture. I also craft, plan and throw elaborately themed parties.

Is there an obstacle or challenge you’ve overcome that led to a deeper love for who you are?

Most days I suffer from imposter syndrome. There’s been a challenge at every step of the way in my career path. First I had to catch up with my peers in elementary school to get out of the “slow learners” track and into college prep. Then I had to figure out what being Appalachian and first generation in college meant for me. I then had to score well on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and have enough research experience to demonstrate my commitment to scholarly activity for my PhD program. There’s always been a “next up.” I’ve encountered plenty of people – mentors, elders, peers – who have led me to question myself, my worth and ability. Thankfully, for every one of those folks, I’ve had two others to remind me that I am enough and can do anything I put my mind to.

I want to make the world a better place. It’s always been about “How can I help?” How can I transform the lives of underserved youth by planting seeds of courage, compassion, and inner strength? I am my strongest when I am helping others. It is what drives me to keep going. So, when my Dad was dying, and I spent all those years away from home doing the “next step” I realized that I had neglected my value for spending time with and helping family and friends.

The obstacle of believing that I am enough and can fulfill my life’s purpose without choosing just that over other values has been like taming a wild bear, except I’m the bear and the trainer at the same time.

What have you learned from self-love?

I am learning to have courage. I haven’t always been able to help others; sometimes my path seems like I’ve all but given up on doing that. And while my inner strength does not always shine, I know that I can take breaks to let my mind, body, and spirit heal. Most importantly, my light glows even when it’s an ember.

Michelle shares why she chose the photos in her self-love story:

Father/Daughter Dance – My Dad and I dancing to I Loved Her First. I believe he loved me enough to wait until I was home before passing away so that we could all be together.

My Life Partner – This guy and I are on this journey together. We’ll dance, walk, skip, crawl, and even carry each other on our path.

PhD Graduation Cap – Robert Frost has been narrating my life. I tend to take the road less traveled when I come to a fork. And, oh, has it made all the difference! I still got to where I was going, and I’ll get to where I am meant to be.

Vinyasart – I chose this because it captures my creative outlet – exercise and mindfulness – which all nourish my soul.

 

Inspired by Michelle’s courageously honest and heartfelt story? Share your thoughts in the comments. We’d love to hear from you.


Love Yourself First! Friday shares the unique stories of diverse women to inspire and empower others to also fiercely demonstrate self-love in action.  The questions are meant to shed light on various ways our featured Phoenixes are making self-care and intentional living a priority.

Do you want to share your self-love story? Send an email HERE.  Just put “My LYFF Story” in the subject line of your email, and you’ll be contacted by the Phoenix Team with details on how to participate. Be sure to read some of our other inspiring stories.

Join the Collective on Facebook and Instagram


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It’s Love Yourself First! Friday: This Phoenix is Yewande

How do you love yourself first? What does that mean to you?

It was difficult for me to really love myself. I tried convincing myself that I did, but inside I always felt very insecure and not always comfortable in my skin. Now that I love everything about me, I never want to lose that feeling. I tell myself something I love about me at least once a day. Every day is not perfect. I still have rough days, but knowing what it’s like to truly love myself (imperfections and all) is a spiritual and healing experience.

I make an effort to connect with others, because in the past I struggled to do it. I missed out on many experiences because I was uncertain about myself, and as a result, I lived mostly inside my head. People thought I was mean or stand-offish but in reality I was uncomfortable with ME. Loving myself first means that I take care of my mind, my body, my soul, my heart, and my family and friends. I want to radiate positivity everywhere I go so that if there is anyone out there feeling the way I once did, she/he can find hope and inspiration in my story and in our interaction.

What actions demonstrate the self-care you provide to your mind, body and soul? (Exercise, healthy eating, spiritual practice, etc)

I changed many of my negative habits. I make it a priority to remain active weekly – working out frequently and using FitBit to track my steps because it keeps me motivated (I love work-week challenges with my coworkers).  I’ve cut out a lot of foods that weighed me down internally (fried foods, bread and dairy), and I replaced them with healthier alternatives (baked foods, non-processed foods, coconut milk).

I love to read books of all genres to keep my mind fresh and alert. Lastly, but most importantly, I talk to God through prayer and daily affirmations.

Is there an obstacle or challenge you’ve overcome that led to a deeper love for who you are?

I used to be overweight and suffered some complications with my health. Becoming healthier has truly transformed me. I feel good inside and out, and I think healthy eating and activeness have contributed. I am more open to people and have been able to build stronger relationships.

What have you learned from self-love?

Self-love has to be defined by the individual and takes on many different forms.  You can show yourself love in your daily actions and interactions with others. For example, I know if I stop practicing my healthy habits I may need to re-evaluate self-love; there may be something deeper going on with me, because being healthy is how I show myself love.

I’ve learned that it is difficult to build relationships with others when there is no self-love.  I want to make sure I am always loving me so that I can fully love others.

I have also learned that people really love me! When I struggled with self-love, I felt that others did not truly love me. I mean, why would they if I could not love myself?  What I have come to find is that (1) people really do want to get to know me, and (2) I do have something to offer the world. I have been able to experience things I NEVER would have experienced, and I finally feel like I am living life. It feels good.

 

Inspired by Yewande’s self-love story? Share in the comments. We want to hear from you.


Love Yourself First! Friday share the unique stories of diverse women to inspire and empower others to also fiercely demonstrate self-love in action.  The questions are meant to shed light on various ways our featured Phoenixes are making self-care and intentional living a priority.

Do you want to share your self-love story? Send an email HERE.  Just put “My LYFF Story” in the subject line of your email, and you’ll be contacted by the Phoenix Team with details on how to participate. Be sure to read some of our other inspiring stories.

Join the Collective on Facebook and Instagram.


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It’s Love Yourself First! Friday: This Phoenix is Tracie

Photo Credit: Erika Kapin Photography

Love Yourself First! Friday is back with all new Phoenix features.  This week we’re sharing Tracie’s self-love story.

How do you love yourself first? What does that mean to you?

This is, admittedly, a difficult question for me to answer, as I don’t always do a good job with self-love, let alone loving myself FIRST. That said, I’ve come to understand it as centering myself and my needs as first and foremost in the planning and execution of my life.

What actions demonstrate the self-care you provide to your mind, body and soul? (Exercise, healthy eating, spiritual practice, etc)

Meal planning is something I’ve recently began practicing as a self-love/self-care habit, which may seem light work to some, but is HUGE for me. Making sure to drink adequate amounts of fresh water daily, allowing space for heightened “inappropriate” emotional moments (esp. sadness & anger) to flow unedited, and telling the truth (at least to myself) about how I feel in the moment are a few other things I do to let the inner me know that she is safe and valued.

Is there an obstacle or challenge that you’ve overcome that led to a deeper love for who you are?

The meal planning challenge is a HUGE one, because it really opened my eyes to the ways I leap to prioritize others before myself. From start to finish, meal-planning three meals for five days straight takes me about 3 hours – hours I balked at setting aside for myself, but wouldn’t blink an eye to devote to someone else if asked. The first time I realized this it was HUGE for me; it was my opportunity to take a different approach towards myself in the future. If I can show myself even HALF of the love I show others on a consistent basis, I know, overall, my life can only get better and better.

What have you learned from self-love?

I’ve learned that self-love is not habitual for many (if not most of us) and is something that must be learned. Even the idea of practicing acts of self-love takes work, just to sit and figure out what it should LOOK like some days, before you can even get into the work of it. That said, the joy of getting and staying in love with you FAR outweighs the effort. The beauty and peace of mind that have come from this journey are immeasurable, quite honestly. I’m grateful that the older I get, the clearer I get about how best to support myself, and that feels lovely.


Love Yourself First! Friday invites women to tell their LYFF stories to inspire and empower others to also fiercely demonstrate self-love in action.  The questions are meant to shed light on various ways our featured Phoenixes are making self-care and intentional living a priority.

Do you want to share your self-love story? Send an email HERE.  Just put “My LYFF Story” in the subject line of your email, and you’ll be contacted by the Phoenix Team with details on how to participate. Be sure to read some of our other inspiring stories.

Join the Collective on Facebook and Instagram.