The Phoenix Rising Collective

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

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

I think that ‘loving yourself first’ starts off with being real with yourself (and others) about who you are – and accepting it. Whether that be certain elements of your personality or some feature on your body, accepting that this is the way you were designed to be and you are beautiful for it (even on your worst days). But I am also a firm believer in challenging yourself, because this is where we stretch and we grow the most. I’m not just referring to the cliché version where you challenge yourself to “be strong, be bold, be you.” While these are great qualities that we should aspire to possess, let’s start with tangible things that can be achieved daily: challenge yourself to drink more water, to look up a new recipe, to learn to play a musical instrument, to read a book that disagrees with something you believe in. The possibilities are essentially endless in this area – which is one of the reasons I love it so much. There is always room for improvement, and I have found that the more I improve in the little things, the better I feel about myself. This is the primary way that I have ‘love(d) myself first’ this year.

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

I set aside 30 minutes every day to read and journal – this is my time to unwind from whatever activities I had going on that day and just focus on me and my thoughts. I try to dedicate my reading time to books that will challenge something I believe in, and then I journal my reasons behind disagreeing with the author.

Exercise is obviously a must! (I try at least 20 minutes/day, 5 days a week) It’s a great way to get all that negative stress out of my body, as well as boost my self-esteem.

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

Growing up I always struggled with the feeling that I wasn’t enough: I wasn’t smart enough to make my parents proud or to get into a certain class (or university). I wasn’t pretty enough to make a boy like me or to get invited into certain friend groups. I wasn’t talented enough for anyone to notice something I was doing. Right about the time I was a senior in high school was when I realized if being enough meant being perfect – I could never achieve anything I wanted to do or lead the life I wanted to live, so now I love that certain things don’t come easily to me; it means I will always have the opportunity to learn. I love that I can be confident in the way I look, because I know that I was created this way, and there is not a single woman on this planet who has the same eyes that I do, or the same nose, or the same smile.

What have you learned from self-love?

There is always room for grace while you grow.


Love Yourself First! Friday is an enlightening interview series featuring the stories of phenomenal, resilient, and inspiring women who share how they are unapologetically self-love in action. The powerful, honest and heartfelt stories shed light on diverse ways to make self-care, healing and whole living daily priorities. You’ll get advice and tips you can use for your own journey, and find comfort in knowing you’re not alone when it comes to figuring out how to love yourself.

Join the tribe. Over 50 women have shared their self-love stories with the Collective. Share YOUR story. Send us an email. 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.


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

 

Love Yourself First! Friday is baaaack. I am so excited about it, too. Do you know over 50 women have been featured for this self-love series? That’s something to celebrate. When I created it in 2012 I had no idea what would happen or if women would even say yes to being interviewed for something that most certainly requires a great deal of vulnerability. Well, they’ve most certainly responded with a resounding YES, and six years later LYFF is still going strong sharing profound stories from some of the most phenomenal women who unapologetically love themselves and are dedicated to wholeness, happiness, healing and self-care.

About this LYFF Feature: Tiarra is a busy mama and wife who works in communications. She is a writer and contributor for Columbus Moms Blog and The Mom Edit. This Phoenix is a happy spirit who shares her perspective on life, love and family with authenticity, honesty, openness and lots of humor. It’s truly admirable…along with the fact that she does it all with such great style.

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

This year I made a commitment to dedicate time to self care. It’s not in the idea that you might expect though. I love a mani/pedi as much as the next gal, but it’s more than that. I’ve been focused more on getting out of my comfort zone. Whether it’s signing up for personal/professional groups or training, I’m finally making the time for it. I’m an introvert, so I have very little desire to network. Ever. And certainly not after I’ve already put in a full day at work. It seriously scares the heck out of me! But I’m starting to realize that executing on my self-growth goals is just as important and fulfilling as say, a massage, but maybe just in a different way. It’s like a mental weight has been lifted; it frees my mind for other things I really need to think about, not to mention the sense of accomplishment I feel afterward. Even better, I tend to drag someone along with me which has resulted in creating new bonds I wouldn’t have if I didn’t step out of my comfort zone.

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

Writing and exercise have been huge for me lately. There’s always so much swirling around in my head. It’s harder for me to push the thoughts away than it is for me to write. I write professionally, but there’s something about coming home and expressing what I want in my own voice. It’s so powerful. Exercise is the same idea. I could sit around wasting valuable energy procrastinating about working out or I could just do it. I also give myself grace about exercising. I used to have an all-or-nothing attitude: I had to do an insanely intense workout or nothing at all. Well, I’d rarely prioritize the killer workout, so I literally spent years not developing good fitness habits. Now, even if it’s a few pushups or my trusty 7-Minute Workout app, it all counts and makes me feel great. I use apps to track my progress (active hours, steps, weight loss, etc.) and it really helps me stay motivated. When I get off track, I know now that it’s not a deal breaker and that I’m really only one good decision away from getting back on track.

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

It’s mostly just getting out of my own head which is still a daily challenge. My daughter is six, and we have lots of conversations about confidence, celebrating victories, and playing for self-improvement and fun, not just competition. Then, it hit me one day how much I needed the same pep talk. I’ve talked myself out of more opportunities and beat myself up about the most random things. And why? What’s the harm in putting myself out there? I had to get to a point where that question was no longer rhetorical. There’s nothing bad that can come of attending a networking event with girlfriends or like-minded people.

What have you learned from self-love?

Lately I’ve been saying that I’m “jumping big waves” like my kids at the beach. I can’t think of a better way to describe my journey of self-love. They get really excited to go in the ocean, but as soon as they see the waves, they change their minds. Then, my husband or I will go with them; they squeeze our hands while we help them jump (or jump with them). Right on the other side of those big waves are joy, accomplishment, pride and so much more. I’ve jumped a few big waves in the last few months and experienced the full spectrum of emotions that comes with it, but I absolutely plan to keep jumping.

To keep being inspired by Tiarra’s self-love journey, check her out on Instagram.


Ayanna Jordan is founder of The Phoenix Rising Collective and creator of Love Yourself First! Friday. As principal consultant and leadership development trainer and coach, she develops and facilitates dynamic women-centered workshops and programs with a focus on how putting self-love into action can transform your life. She also creates coaching seminars and training that support women’s professional growth in authentic leadership, entrepreneurship, and passion-filled work. Her interactive approach inspires action and creates a non-judgmental, sacred space for women to truly explore their personal and professional goals while gaining support and sisterhood from others who’ve also made a commitment to sustaining self-love.

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

Check out the Collective on Instagram and Facebook.


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

How do you love yourself first?

I love myself first by understanding that I must take care of my mental, spiritual, and physical health to sustain in a world that attempts to drain me. I have learned over the years that I teach others how I value me. I know if I don’t take intentional time for me, then others will not respect me or my time.

I love myself first by remembering these three things:

  1. I APPRECIATE my journey. I cannot look at someone else’s blessings and long for what they have.
  2. I PRACTICE what I preach. As a solo parent of three (19, 14, 12), it is imperative that I show love for myself. If I am not demonstrating to them how to love, how to cherish, and how to use their voice, they will not learn.
  3. I look in the mirror each day and tell myself, “Today’s a NEW day. Let’s go get it!”

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

Ahhhhhhh, I love this question! I am an educator, a poet, and an avid reader. I have an endless supply of Post-it Notes I keep handy because my mind is ALWAYS spinning, thinking of new ideas or new quotes. I LOVE QUOTES, especially motivational ones. I have “stickies” everywhere reminding me of special prayer requests, thoughts, and reminders of who I am! My favorite is “I AM LIGHT.” This is penned from a song by India Arie that reminds me that I am light, and who I am is reflected in all that I do. I am who I say I am. No one can define me or label me.

If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive. -Audre Lorde

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

I didn’t realize until the past year that I suffer from depression and anxiety. I am a person who will work and work and not ask for help (because I believed no one wanted to). I would hold in emotions until I was ill. I have in the past year gone through probably one of the darkest years of my life. Years of holding emotions and thoughts in and not being who I needed to be for me, finally manifested into a complete breakdown. My health suffered. I gained 30-40 pounds. My professional life suffered. And worst of all, I didn’t think I was worthy of being blessed with life. I have learned through positive affirmations of family and friends, through taking time to be still (waiting for God’s voice), and through being intentional with my life and goals that I am light and love. My steps are divinely ordered. I just needed to step into the shoes I was born to walk in.

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord; and he delights in his way. Ps. 37:23

What have you learned from self -love?

“Love…so many things I’ve got to tell you but I’m afraid I don’t know how…” I LOVE this song from Musiq Soulchild. I listen to it a lot because the lyrics tell of unconditional love, the kind of love that we need to have for ourselves. I have learned that self-love is needed to sustain, and sometimes I have to take time out to love on myself and to love on others.

I have learned that I am called to be a “servant lover” of others in order to be content. I immerse myself in my non-profit Young PEARLS (a mentoring group for young women ages 14-17). I continue to perfect my writing and speaking skills with my company TraSpeaks, LLC, and I pour into the students I work with on a daily basis. I enjoy building up my community and partnering with others who love to do the same.

I have learned that self-love is self-confidence. I have always been bold, fearless, and opinionated. These attributes are what make me, ME, and I love it.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise… Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear I rise…Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise. I rise. I rise. -Maya Angelou


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 Leisan

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

I love myself first by working to live my most authentic life. To me, this means being true to who I am and speaking my truth. I started coming out as queer (lesbian) right after I graduated from college. While a lot of my coming out journey has been loving and supportive, there have been definite bumps in the road. I’ve had to continuously remind myself that regardless of other people’s opinion, I am worthy of love, which starts with loving myself first. As I’ve continued to embrace and love all of who I am, my voice has gotten stronger in advocating for myself and for others. Every time I speak up for myself or for others, I feel better about who I am.

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

As the mom of a two year-old, self-care is hard. I need to be more intentional about my own self-care so that I can show up better for my daughter. Actions that demonstrate the self-care I do provide for myself are napping and counseling. One of the best pieces of advice I received when I became a mom was “nap when she naps.” It sounds easy, but when you have a list of things to do and the option to take a nap, there can be guilt when you decide to sleep. For the sake of my self-care, I nap when my daughter naps. I am a better person, and I function better when I have had sleep. Counseling has been important especially over the past two years. In less than 1.5 years I had a lot of changes happen in my life: I got pregnant, had a baby, lost my mom, resigned from a job I loved so I could move back to my home town, and started a new job. With all of these changes, especially the death of my mother six weeks after the birth of my daughter, I needed someone to talk to. I didn’t realize it when I first started, but I was/am definitely battling depression. I know that mental health is something that is often not discussed in the black community, but consistently going to counseling has provided me with good self-care for my mind and my soul.

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

There are two challenges I’ve overcome (and am still overcoming) that continue to lead me to a deeper love for who I am: coming out as a queer black woman and becoming a single queer mom. I love who I’ve become as a queer black woman. With the current political climate and the way folks seem to be coming out of the closet in terms of their racist and/or homophobic beliefs, it has been difficult. However, I continue to remind myself that their loud opinions do not define me, and that I am an amazing woman. In terms of becoming a single queer mom, it is the best decision I have ever made. I knew my biological clock was ticking, so I decided to get pregnant before I couldn’t. I know for sure that I was born to be a mom, and I love who I am as a mom. I am re-defining what some people may think of as a “traditional” mom, and now that I am in a good, loving relationship, we are re-defining what some people may think of as a “traditional” family. I love who I am and who the three of us are as a family.

One of Leisan’s favorite photos with her daughter

What have you learned from self-love?

I love loving others. However, I have learned that the only way I can effectively love others is to start with loving myself. I have also learned that it is okay and necessary to be intentional about self-love. I have to schedule time to take care of me and know that it’s not selfish, but in fact, the best way for me to survive and thrive.

 


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.


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

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

Loving myself first begins daily in the morning with gratitude at the realization that I was given another day to fulfill my purpose. That means thanking God for breath in my lungs to authentically live on purpose. Recognizing that I am fearfully and wonderfully made gives me the liberty to love myself as I am and as I evolve.

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

My daily walks in nature are a part of my exercise routine for self love. It provides an opportunity without distraction to examine my life and the things in my environment. I make this a priority before I start my routines. It provides so much clarity to sort out tasks for the day, too. My mind is at its most open state on my walks, and that allows me to take in all the positive things I see in nature while on the Metro Park trail. It inspires me to give this positive energy to others.

Entering my 40s has been a motivating factor to make conscious decisions about healthy eating. Living consciously has really allowed me to see and feel the benefits of healthy eating. Whole foods that have grown from the soil have been my saving grace when it comes to self love. It has provided me with a clear mind, less aches and pains, more energy, and weight management as a bonus.

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

The biggest obstacle I have overcome is not believing I am enough. There was a time that I would nitpick myself to the point of stifling enjoying what life had in store for me. In my late 20s I discovered the book One Day My Soul Just Opened Up by Iyanla Vanzant. The book required writing daily to some tough questions I had to be honest about and accountable for. My soul did open up, and I began living and loving myself. It pushed me not only to love myself but also make changes to become and grow in the direction of my best self. There were a few bumps in the road but that was acceptable because I was growing and evolving.

What have you learned from self-love?

I am enough.

I’m in competition with myself to become my best self.

I’m worth fighting for.

I’m my best self when I take care of myself first which, in turn, makes me available for others. This is the most positive selfish thing I can do.

I’ve learned to nurture self-love with positive people, music, news, books and experiences.

Self-love has taught me to try new experiences outside my comfort zone. (Yoga. I actually love it!)

Self-love has taught me that it’s okay to fail.

Self-love has taught me to say yes more and to say no without regret.

The biggest lesson for me is that it’s powerful to love others. Truly loving others is a reflection of the love you have for self.


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.


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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