The Phoenix Rising Collective

Inspiring Women to be Self-Love in Action


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

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Love Yourself First! Friday (LYFF) is part of The PRC’s Shed Light series collection. We invite 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.

This week’s Phoenix is Cholia:

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

“Love yourself first” means choosing and loving myself first in the areas that matter most. That goes for areas of my life financially, and also time/energy, love, and commitments. For example, I used to be the woman that would spend her last dollar on a friend or significant other, but then that would mean I wouldn’t be able to eat well that week because I gave away the disposable money I did have. That’s not self-love or loving myself first in the areas that matter most.

You can’t just give, give, give and think that the universe is going to take care of you because of your benevolence. That’s not law of attraction and it’s certainly not healthy for your well-being.

You’re no good to anyone if you don’t make loving who you are your highest priority. It’s when you do, that the world starts taking you more seriously.

It respects you. You start getting back what you’re giving. I think that’s amazing self-love and care.

Sadly, too many women, especially women of color subject themselves to martyrdom and abandon loving themselves first. As a result, I think its really killing us softly. We end up carrying around emotional wounds because we feel unloved, unappreciated, and overlooked in spite of all the giving to others.

I know that as a health coach I really work to bring home how important it is to love yourself first when I work with women. You can’t begin to live your best life if you are abandoning yourself and not making self-love your primary concern. Self-love is self-preservation.

"I’ve been a long-distance runner for 23 years now and it is absolutely my meditation."

“I’ve been a long-distance runner for 23 years now and it is absolutely my meditation.” -Cholia, LYFF Feature

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

Without a doubt my number one self-care practice is cooking and eating healthy soul food. The actual act of cooking awakens my creativity, and having daily balanced nutrition of course leads to a healthier me on all levels.

Right behind cooking and eating healthy is running. I’ve been a long-distance runner for 23 years now and it is absolutely my meditation. I solve all of my toughest challenges and problems while I am running.

I also journal like crazy. Writing is another form of meditation for me. I was a freelance writer for a long time and it’s something that I truly love to do (accept the sitting down for long periods of time, because I LOVE being on my feet).

And last but not least, I do practice yoga. I love Bikram hot yoga, mainly because it helps me with mindfulness and increases my mental strength.

For me, they all lead to having a better understanding of and foundation for self-love and self-care.

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

There are actually two obstacles that I’ve overcome that have helped me have a deeper love for who I am.

First, I endured two unhealthy relationships that ended in betrayal which I believed were going to lead to “happily ever after” at the time, over the past two years.

Second, I lost my Mom a few years ago to a rare disease. She never really took the time to put herself first. She was a martyr and as much as that’s often deemed heroic, that can’t be all that you are when it comes to navigating through life.

Those two incidents the past three years have culminated in realizing that you have to always be yourself. In the moments when you’re not, and you don’t show up, so to speak, are the times when people enter your life that are not going to respect and love you. Being yourself, versus the version of who you think they will fall in love with, is the most selfless thing you can do.

When you deny yourself slow-down moments, alone-time days, solo vacations, and also neglect exploring your passions, all because you think you have to take care of everyone else, you will truly consume your spirit adversely.

That’s a toxic way to live. I am a firm believer that our emotions are also tied to our physical health.

By trying to live holistically, knowing that body, mind, and spirit are one, I am finally swimming in an ocean of self-love.

What have you learned from self-love?

I have learned that self-love also consists of self-forgiveness, self-respect, and self-compassion. They all work in concert with the other.

For a long time, I thought I was practicing self-love, but I was neglecting the respect, compassion, and forgiveness. You have to achieve a balance of them all to really receive the fruits from the labor of self-love.

The best thing I did, last year after encountering heartache too many times, feeling stuck, and sabotaging my dreams, was get a life coach. Well, we actually traded services, I am getting her healthier as a health coach, and she’s getting me stronger spiritually and mentally.

I think taking steps like that are also acts of self-love “in action” and totally worth the investment of your time, money, and energy.

 

Cholia is the creator of Kick Start Your Health Today and also the health + wellness contributor for The Phoenix Rising Collective.


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

Love Yourself First! Friday is a self-love series created by The Phoenix Rising Collective. Phenomenal women who fiercely demonstrate self-love in action in order to build and sustain healthy, positive self esteem share their stories‬.  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 Stephanie

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Love Yourself First! Friday (LYFF) is part of The PRC’s Shed Light series collection. We invite 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.

This week’s Phoenix is Stephanie:

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

I love myself first in a number of ways, some more tangible than others. The most important thing I can do that demonstrates self-love is to do simply that: love myself. I do not accept negativity from others about me or my body, and as such I will not accept that from me. It is easy to pick apart all the parts of me that may not fit into a perfectly compartmentalized ideal, but I choose to instead love me in the most basic way.

Loving myself does not mean that I must act selfishly or put my wants above the needs of everyone else. Instead, I prefer to think of it as fulfilling my most basic needs in order to be the best possible version of me so that I may help others.

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

In addition to the care I take with myself mentally, I demonstrate self-care through running and eating a diet high in protein and healthy fats. I also cut out soda, preferring to have it as a treat. When I run, I am able to push my body to do something I never thought it could and that makes me proud. Running, however, has become more than just miles to me. When I am out on a run I can clear my mind of all the rubbish that can build up – the day-to-day stress of life. It is easy to think during the hour or so I am running that I could instead be spending that time doing work or playing with my children. I find that it is important to think of running as an insurance policy that I will be able to experience a full life with my children in the future. It insures that I have an outlet for me personally, and thus I am better able to handle what is thrown at me. Most importantly, perhaps, is that when I take time to show my children that I am a person and am allowed to take care of me, too, I am providing them with a model that they should also treat their own minds and bodies with respect.

FB_IMG_1452719523843Is there an obstacle or challenge you’ve overcome that led to a deeper love for who you are?

I live in a culture that frequently equates self-worth to a number on a scale, and I was not immune. I grew up very much obsessed with those numbers. I was always different than the other girls, taller or more developed at a younger age so it was very hard for me. As I grew, the same insecurities I had grew with me and compounded. However, when I found out I would be a mother that really changed. I learned to love my body and realized what it could do. After my first son was born, and I struggled at first to breastfeed him, I never once doubted my body’s ability to do what I knew it could. The thought occurred to me that I should feel like that about all aspects of my body. I figured that if I had brought a nearly ten-pound person into this world and fed him from my body, I was a rock star.

When the time came for the birth of my second son, I knew what I was capable of and chose to have him naturally. With his birth I was hit with even more love for my family, but also for me. I knew then that I was capable of so much more. After his birth, I promised myself I would not speak negatively of myself. I didn’t want my children to grow up thinking it was normal to belittle oneself, and from there the rest fell in place. I learned that self-love starts from within. Once I started to love me, really and truly, I wanted to show my body the love it deserved. I started running, which led to want to fuel myself properly. The numbers on the scale occasionally change, but I am not defined by them, and for that I am grateful.

What have you learned from self-love?

I have learned through the ongoing process of self-love that my personal self-worth is not contingent upon the thoughts or opinions of anyone else. What matters is that when I look in the mirror I am happy with what I see. I have learned that what I say has value, and I am learning to speak up more often because I am a strong, loving, educated woman. Finally, I have learned that growth is an ongoing process. I am growing every day. I learn every day.

 


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

Love Yourself First! Friday is a self-love series created by The Phoenix Rising Collective. Phenomenal women who fiercely demonstrate self-love in action in order to build and sustain healthy, positive self esteem share their stories‬.  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 Natasha

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Love Yourself First! Friday (LYFF) is part of The PRC’s Shed Light series collection. We invite 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.

This week’s Phoenix is Natasha:

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

I love myself first by taking care of my health first. I try to make sure that I really pay attention to what my body is telling me. If I find that I need to force myself to do something then I stop, take a breath and reevaluate what I am doing and why. At the same time when I notice that I’m avoiding a task I try to figure out the underlying reasons.

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

  1. I try to exercise at least four times a week. Through CrossFit I have been able to push myself further than I ever imagined.
  2. I food prep on a regular basis, usually on Sundays. I make sure that I have enough to eat throughout the week (five small meals for five days) and set an alarm so that I won’t forget to eat.  When I’m engrossed in my work I have a tendency to forget to eat. As a vegetarian and a graduate student, I have found that food prepping allows me to save money and have options that I wouldn’t otherwise.
  3. I’m Buddhist and I try to chant everyday, it is definitely a work in progress.
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LYFF Feature, Natasha’s Weekly Food Prep

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

When I was a teenager I was raped. For a long time I hated myself; I had a difficult time feeling that I was worthy of love or even loving myself. I have been working through this for the past 12 years; now I am able to see the good inside of me. Actually, it’s deeper than that: I have been able to see my strengths, weaknesses and potential. I have been able to embrace my flaws, change my self-talk, and learn to be kind to myself.

I am still on this journey of self-love and still get frustrated with myself (especially as I am writing my dissertation) but I am learning that I am human.

What have you learned from self-love?

Self love has shown me how strong and beautiful I am. Regardless of my weight, hair, skin, eyelash length, or waist size, I am phenomenal. I am not a doormat. I am not one dimensional. I am a full person. That sounds kind of hilarious, but seriously in this society sometimes it’s difficult to recognize your full humanity.

 

Thank you, Natasha, for having the courage to tell your self-love story. You are a brave Phoenix rising!


 

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

Love Yourself First! Friday is a self-love series created by The Phoenix Rising Collective. Phenomenal women who fiercely demonstrate self-love in action in order to build and sustain healthy, positive self esteem share their stories‬.  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 Denise

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Love Yourself First! Friday (LYFF) is part of The PRC’s  Shed Light series collection. We invite 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.

This week’s Phoenix is Denise:

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

Loving yourself is always remembering to be true – true to your mind, body and spirit. In learning to love myself I’ve learned how to love all of me, all the time.

I am learning to listen to myself. I am such a giver that sometimes I give until I have no energy left. However, not the new and improved me; I’ve learned to stop and think about how it will affect me. As I’ve gotten older, I realize how we’re quick to question others, but won’t question ourselves. In learning to love yourself first, you have to be willing to question yourself and come up with solutions.

Putting yourself first isn’t always the easiest feat but it’s a must.

I love to listen to music; it’s my biggest stress reliever. I can go for hours listening to Jill Scott, The Foreign Exchange, Dwele and a host of other Neo Soul-type artists.

I also love being by water. (SN: I cannot swim, and I don’t know if I want to learn!) Since we have no “real” beaches in Cleveland, I settle for going to the lake and sitting for hours just listening to the water. I actually do some of my best self-reflecting there.

I love to read and travel as well.

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

In October 2014 I began my fitness journey. The experience of going out of my comfort zone really opened my eyes to “how to be a better me”. I never had a true purpose for why I wanted to change; I just knew I had to. I looked at my fitness journey just as that, a journey. I was totally clueless when I began losing weight so I started following an Instagram account: fbffitness. After weeks and weeks of debating, I joined her 8-week weight loss challenge. The challenge consisted of being on a virtual team where you were to complete certain daily tasks and receive points. In the end, you had the opportunity to win money! Well, I didn’t win but I made it to the top five out of 100+ contestants.

I never really celebrated that accomplishment until recently. In my mind, it wasn’t that big of a deal. Wrong! It was huge. After I finished the challenge, I began personal training at a local gym for a few months. With personal training and a new diet I was on a roll…so I thought. I was still unhappy. I had to learn that this lifestyle change is all mental. I realized I can make all the physical changes in the world, but until I changed my mental outlook I would still be exactly the same.

I am happy to say that I am 40+lbs down forever!

Women Weight Loss Journey[The Phoenix Rising Collective]

LYFF Feature, Denise, sharing her 40+ lbs weight loss

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

Embracing change is a huge challenge for me. I’m now allowing myself to try new activities, new foods and new adventures. Being patient with myself is also an obstacle. My friends would say I am one of the most patient people you would ever meet, and I am…with others. In my own life I want things to be quick, fast and in a hurry. Learning to be more patient with myself has allowed me to relax and understand that things will happen when God says so.

What have you learned from self-love?

I have learned from self-love that no one will love you like YOU! Self-love allows you to be your own advocate. Self-love allows you to be a better woman, wife, mother, sister, daughter, and friend. Self-love has taught me to be happy with all my flaws.

 

Thank you, Denise, for sharing your self-love story! You are truly a Phoenix rising. Congratulations on such a major lifestyle change. It most certainly is a big deal!

Were you inspired by Denise’s story? Share your thoughts in the comments.


Want to share your self-love story?

Send an email HERE. Put “My LYFF Story” in the subject line, and you’ll be contacted by the Phoenix Team with details on how to participate.

Love Yourself First! Friday is a series created by The Phoenix Rising Collective. Phenomenal women who fiercely demonstrate self-love in action in order to build and sustain healthy, positive self esteem share their stories‬.  Be sure to read some of our other inspiring features.

Join the Collective on Facebook and Instagram.


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Worst Love Yourself First! Friday Ever – A Reflection

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Love Yourself First! Friday (LYFF) is part of The PRC’s  Shed Light series collection. We invite 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.

This week’s Phoenix is Tracey:

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Tracey, LYFF Feature

As I pondered my self-love routine, so I could write something enlightening about my journey of self-discovery and how it’s manifested in productive, healthy routines that nurture me, I had a disturbing revelation: I have nothing to contribute here. I don’t do self-love. I don’t meditate. My prayer life is spotty. I eat crap. I don’t write regularly. I don’t get lost in books. I rarely exercise. I don’t get my hair and nails done. I’ve had like three massages in my life, and I judge myself harshly.

I racked my brain; I really did.  As I read others’ entries about difficult but beautiful journeys to self-love, I thought, I know…I’ll spin it. I will take some moment of joy in my life and spin it into my self-love story. I can do that. I’ll sit down and ala “And to Think that I Saw It on Mulberry Street” I’ll exaggerate a story so fantastic that I will seem like the most self-aware, evolved, self-loving human on earth. I will spin a tale of complete, balanced self-love, and if I was really careful, I might even believe my tale enough not to feel so harried and distracted and self-negligent.

And then, I realized, that if I say, there are things that I need to do in the name of self-love, but I don’t do them in the name of “getting things done” that I may turn a corner. If I stop pretending to be content and start seeking peace, and if I decide that today, not tomorrow, I will ignore the messy bathroom and write down what I need to do to nurture myself, I may just get there.

This is my hurdle. I don’t do self-love. I do self-judgment.  I haven’t come to grips with the fact that what I “should” do and what I need to do and what I want to do are, on occasion, the same thing. That to sit with a cup of tea for 30 minutes everyday and read something that I enjoy, not because it’s about parenting or losing weight or some non-profit, but because I love to read and reading feeds my soul is something I should and need and want to do. That to quietly meditate for 10 minutes everyday just to be quiet and listen to God, is revolutionary in my life.

After all this consideration, I discovered something important. If I spent time loving myself dearly, I would not be able to judge myself harshly. So, I will love myself dearly, fully, happily. And one year from now, I will revisit my self-love journey and I’ll actually have something to contribute.

 

Thank you, Tracey, for your honesty; it is most definitely a powerful contribution. We look forward to one year from now. You are a brave Phoenix rising.

How  many of you can relate to Tracey’s story? What commitment will you make (even a small act) to be self-love in action? Share in the comments.


Want to share your self-love story! Send an email HERE. Put “My LYFF Story” in the subject line, and you’ll be contacted by the Phoenix Team with details on how to participate.

Love Yourself First! Friday is a series created by The Phoenix Rising Collective. Phenomenal women who fiercely demonstrate self-love in action in order to build and sustain healthy, positive self esteem share their stories‬.  Be sure to read some of our other inspiring features.

Join the Collective on Facebook and Instagram.

 


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

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Love Yourself First! Friday (LYFF) is part of The PRC’s  Shed Light series collection. We invite 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.

This week’s Phoenix is Adrienne:

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

“You can’t pour from an empty cup.”  Recently, I was scrolling through Pinterest and I ran across a photograph of a white ceramic coffee cup.  The inside of the cup was empty with the slightest coffee stain lining the bottom of the tiny cup.  In a very simple font the words “You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first” were emblazoned across the picture.

As I was reading those words I realized that I had, somehow, become that coffee cup — a solid, sturdy vessel, but sadly, temporarily empty.  I was sitting at my desk in my tiny, cramped office space feeling completely drained.  Since then, I have been thinking about and steadily working towards how I can go about refilling my cup.

I’ve come to recognize that to love myself first means recognizing that it is not selfish to take time out of my day to care for my needs.  Allowing myself to get to the point where I begin to feel empty or drained not only hurts me, it hurts those whom I work with, and love.  Before I can support others, I have to first make sure that my cup is full.

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

I think refilling my cup starts with the little things I do throughout my day that bring me happiness.  I have started making time to wake up an hour earlier than absolutely necessary so that I have the time to enjoy a cup of coffee and watch Live! with Kelly and Michael before going into work.  I come home from work in the middle of the day to cuddle with my adorable dog, Corn Dog.  I eat dinner with my partner and we talk about our day.  And every evening, I look out across the flat Minnesota land and I can see a wind turbine that is located about a mile away from my residence.  I think about how the turbine converts energy from the wind into electrical power.  Isn’t that remarkable?  At the end of each day I hope that I, like the turbine and a full cup, have converted my energy into powering myself so that I may share with others.

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“I hope that I, like the turbine and a full cup, have converted my energy into powering myself so that I may share with others.”

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

The biggest obstacle and challenge is myself and my tendencies.  I am inclined to believe that it is selfish to think of my needs before those of others.  I tend to overextend and tax myself to be the best at my work. I am the one that, if unchecked, will empty my cup.

To overcome this challenge, I started making lists.  I had a list of all of the things I had to get done at work in order to feel okay about myself.  I had a second list of tasks that I used to mark down responsibilities that were not as urgent or pressing.  Another list was of all the things I had accomplished.  This was my “smile list” because reading what I had accomplished always made me smile.  Examples included marrying my soulmate, getting accepted into a doctoral program, and having a stellar chocolate chip cookie recipe.  My final list was my “hope list”.  It included all the things I hope for in life not related whatsoever to my career.  This list includes having children, going on a cruise, and designing a new tattoo.  These lists made me feel like I had some control and balance in my life.  They let me see what I’d done, what I needed to do, and where I wanted to go.  I still use a variation of these lists, but I have been utilizing my Passion Planner, which is an agenda that has a built in goal-setting and to-do area in it.

Another key step that I have taken is to be more responsible about seeking the help of health professionals. One could practice all of the self-care and self-love in the world but if one is not physically or emotionally healthy, such practice would be all for naught. I have found that taking steps to seek care and support has been invaluable for allowing me to better help and serve others. As a professional tasked with supporting others, it is easy to forget that we are human and sometimes need support ourselves. I think recognizing that sometimes the greatest self-love is knowing when you need to reach out and ask others for help.  Self-love does not mean you have to do it all by yourself.  Sometimes self-love will include reaching out to friends and family, and sometimes it may mean reaching out to a pastor, a counselor, or a doctor.

What have you learned from self-love?

For some, I think self-love might be easy.  For myself, I know that this journey to accepting all of me has not been easy.  It has been hard work.  But I have come to realize that the journey, the fight, of self-acceptance and loving myself has been worth it because I am worth it.

Don Miguel Ruiz said, “You cannot share what you do not have. If you do not love yourself, you cannot love anyone else either.” I go back to the same cup I started with.  Let’s replace the concept of self-care with self-love in this analogy:  “You can’t pour from an empty cup.  Love yourself first.”

 

Thank you, Adrienne, for sharing your LYFF story. You are definitely a Phoenix rising!

 


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

Love Yourself First! Friday is a self-love series created by The Phoenix Rising Collective. Phenomenal women who fiercely demonstrate self-love in action in order to build and sustain healthy, positive self esteem share their stories‬.  Be sure to read some of our other inspiring stories.


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

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This is the first self-love story of 2016, and it’s exciting to bring it your way.

Love Yourself First! Friday (LYFF) is part of The PRC’s  Shed Light series collection. We invite 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.

This week’s brave Phoenix to kick off the new year is Candi:

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

Loving myself means giving myself exactly what I need. I do this by acknowledging how I feel in every moment and staying conscious of my inner dialogue. I pamper myself and also take myself out on self-love dates.

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

I practice a vegan diet, exercise, meditate, journal, spend time in nature and create art.

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

The most recent obstacle I’ve faced was starting my business; I had no idea how to, and I have little to no support. But my persistence and authenticity kept me going, so along the way I’ve been adopted by many soul sisters. Overcoming this fear made me appreciate my creativity, and I proved to myself that I can be in business and be myself: kind. It made me trust myself more and my intuition.

What have you learned from self-love?

That it’s not how others treat me that matters; it’s how I treat myself that counts.

 

Candi is Founder/Creator of Lioness Healing Arts. Be sure to check her out and also follow her inspiration and newest jewelry creations on Instagram.

 


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

Love Yourself First! Friday is a self-love series created by The Phoenix Rising Collective. Phenomenal women who fiercely demonstrate self-love in action in order to build and sustain healthy, positive self esteem share their stories‬.  Be sure to read some of our other inspiring stories.

 


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IT’S LOVE YOURSELF FIRST! FRIDAY: This Phoenix is Tathina

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Love Yourself First! Friday (LYFF) is part of our Shed Light series collection. We invite 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.

This week’s wholehearted Phoenix is Tathina:

I am learning to love, accept, and allow everyone freedom to simply be…however they are in the moment.

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“I am in peace with being alone. I would not have thought this could be possible for me years ago though! Aloneness is different than loneliness. Aloneness is innate to each of us. We are connected through this Love-space.”

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

I was taught, like many of us were taught: to put others before Self, to put myself last after everything and everyone else. Taking care of myself was seen as selfish and wrong. With this social conditioning, I felt like I needed to be punished or perfected because I wasn’t okay or good enough as I was. I wasn’t allowed to simply rest in the moment. Some goal always needed to get done first and I had to postpone this deep rest I was yearning for. For years I tried to do this. I tried to put myself into a box of “doing it right.” I tried being what I thought others wanted. I sought to please others and to also help others through studying psychology in college. But during my senior year, I realized that I was not fulfilled. I had a lovely mask on. I may have tricked others into thinking I was happy, but I was far from it. I realized I was not giving myself love and seeking it outside of me. I truly didn’t know how to love anyone else because this love was not discovered within me yet. I sought to find true fulfillment through relationships, spiritual paths and texts, careers, material things – everything that came across my path – but none of it lasted.

Loving myself first means putting myself first. This means not taking care of other people, but really taking care of myself, as only I know what I need and only others know what they need. This means allowing myself to be however I am in the moment, and allowing myself to feel however I feel. It means not fighting with fear, but using it as an invitation to really discover what cannot die in the moment. Self-love is stopping when I know I need to stop. It is allowing mistakes and not trying to be perfect. This means ignoring the idea that I am not good enough.

What I have discovered is that when I love myself first, put myself first, cherish the Life that is expressing itself through and as me, this is inspiration for others to do the same.

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

I am always learning how to take care of myself more in all areas as Life guides me. Meditation has been a blessed key – not just sitting for a few minutes and then going back to giving attention to the thoughts and stories in the mind for all the other hours in the day (though it definitely started this way). This is also not meditation where I am striving for something to happen or appear. It is very simple. Along the way, I discovered Satsang, which means coming together in truth or meeting in truth in Sanskrit: Sat means Truth and sangha is being in company. I see my whole Life as Satsang now. I see every experience as an invitation to simply be in the moment, to discover the truth of myself. So, meditation for me is simply being in the moment. We do this by ignoring the thoughts, and using the feelings or the breath to bring our attention back to the moment. To really be in the body grounds us in the present, in presence. This is good for all parts of us. The body gets to relax and simply be. The thoughts are allowed to be (not being fought or clung to). The feelings are allowed to be. Everyone is given this permission to simply live in freedom. Also, being present encourages me to listen more to my body and what it wants or doesn’t want. I listen as to where there is a ‘no’ or a ‘yes’ coming from the truth of the moment. I give myself full permission to simply be a human being, this particular human being, and this particular flavor. Self-care can reveal this peace to us again and again.

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

As I mentioned, after college I was searching for truth, fulfillment, and a way to take off the mask I was hiding behind. I was ready for healing, and I discovered that healing came from letting go of my story of suffering, a narrative I would tell others and myself over and over again. I had hidden behind painful childhood experiences (and experiences passed down through generations); this story of not being good enough, needing to fix myself until I was perfect enough to love. So, I adamantly searched, and Life crushed all my lifelong dreams of going to graduate school to be a psychologist. Life had something else in store and brought me to a point of retreat. Life stopped me, gave me a break, and brought me face-to-face with my true Self as if It was saying, “You wanted freedom and healing so here is this spiritual detox.” I was also being invited to make peace with aloneness. I had been trying to help others through my professional career choice, but the truth was I wanted to really help myself. I can’t help others to discover the tools to nourish themselves if I am not nourishing myself.

I was brought to a challenging point. A lot of resistance and all types of feelings like depression, anger, fear, and everything we feel as humans came for me to finally make peace with them. This was self-love even though it did not feel like it in the moment. Because through feeling my feelings, I took power out of this story of being a victim. The feelings brought me into the moment. They brought me into the space that is unshaken by any storm, by any emotion. I asked for real help at the end of 2012 in a moment of total surrender and was mysteriously led to my true teacher. He pointed me back to this moment where there was no one seeking; there was just infinite peace and love. This love is unconditional and it can be ruthless when it wants to free you from the limitations and chains of the conditioned mind. All the challenges of my Life always bring me to a deeper recognition of the love that is here, the love that I am, you are, and we all are right now.

Through loving ourselves as we are, unconditionally accepting the cards we were (are) dealt, something powerful and mysterious begins to happen that I cannot write about. It cannot be spoken. Only you can experience it for yourself in this moment.

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What have you learned from self-love?

Through self-love, I have learned how to love. Period. Loving myself when I was in a personal hell or when I was considered wrong or when I was stripped of everything I once used as a distraction taught me how to love all of existence. Compassion started to grow. I have discovered that when I’m taking care of myself, everything else is taken care of (even when my mind judges it to be wrong). Yes, some who are not in peace with this change may not be happy with my self-love/self-care and will get their feathers ruffled and think I’m selfish. This is their issue to make peace with.

Selfishness is expecting others to do for you what you should be doing for yourself. Self-love is our sole responsibility and freedom. It is empowering for all! I allow those that don’t accept me for who I am to leave my Life; this is their freedom and mine to be ourselves. Namasté.

About Tathina’s LYFF Collage:

These three photos are when I am in nature, meditating, enjoying, simply being and/or playing/exploring – bowing to the mirror of Life’s vastness and Love everywhere (Namasté meaning).”

 

Thank you for sharing your self-love story with the Collective, Tathina. You are definitely a Phoenix rising!

Learn more about Tathina’s journey; she is the author of The Invitation (to Live) (the Truth). Want more? You can also get info about Satsang and how Tathina gives herself permission to just “let go of all the defenses and BE” by following her blog, HERE, for self-love/meditation challenges that mirror some of the practices in her LYFF story.

 


 

Join the Collective. Share your self-love story with us. Send an email HERE. Put “My LYFF Story” in the subject line, and we’ll send you follow-up info. Sweet. Short. Simple!

Love Yourself First! Friday is a bi-weekly self-love series created by The Phoenix Rising Collective. Phenomenal women who fiercely demonstrate self-love in action in order to build and sustain healthy, positive self esteem share their stories‬.  Be sure to read some of our other inspiring stories.


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It’s Love Yourself First! Friday: Today’s Phoenix is Santana

Santana_LYFF_Collage

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

Loving myself means making consistent intentional choices every day that place my well-being first. It’s a philosophical practice that manifests in almost every facet of daily life. For me, it’s been evolving as my life and my demands have transitioned from college student to working professional.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned regarding self-love is that I cannot and should not think of acts of self-love as an indulgence, but rather as necessary maintenance. I am at my best when I place my personal care first. This was a surprisingly difficult shift for me to make and maintain. It requires a lot of work, but it’s the best kind of work. I had to expand my definition of personal care to encompass a variety of activities that make me feel my best, and allow me to take time to focus on nurturing my mind, body, and soul.

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Santana and her dog, Cassie, after a hike.

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

When I’m feeling down about myself, I find a quiet place and repeat (out loud!) the mantra “Although (insert reason I’m upset or anxious), I love and accept myself completely.” It’s a striking physical and emotional experience to say that out loud. I’ve learned to own and accept my reactions and feelings, while reinforcing my self-love. I’ve learned I must take ownership of how I feel about myself. I am the only person who validates me.

This year, the most important change in my self-care ritual has been taking care of my body. I spend much of my work week sitting at a desk. When I was in college I spent much more time being active and walking and so physical activity was much less of a concern. This year, I noticed that my mood was becoming more variable, and my daily anxiety level was growing, so I decided to start making efforts to temper that. To be my best self I must make an effort to show love to my body by using it and learning about all the wonderful things it can do.

Yoga has been a transformative and complete self-love activity. Two to three times a week I spend an hour or so focusing on my body, my breath, and my soul. I love that yoga is non-competitive and that I have so much freedom in practicing it. Yoga can be modified to any skill or mobility level and the goals are personal. So often, we’re critical of our bodies and yoga is my favorite way to temper that negativity. Every movement is intentional and self-loving. I’ve gained so much confidence in myself through it—not because I’m particularly good at it, but because I’ve learned to be okay with not being successful at some poses. I can be a perfectionist, and yoga is a time for me to fail, and come out on the other side feeling proud of myself for just trying my best. In my last class, I fell over at least three times! I didn’t feel judged by anyone else there though, and I didn’t judge myself either—actually I found my failures kind of endearing! Philosophically, yoga has taught me about the importance of effort and surrender—I can place my full effort into anything, and because of that, I can feel okay about surrendering the results to the forces that be. This thinking is very helpful for my inner perfectionist and “control freak.”

Hiking is another way that I can work my body in a non-competitive and fulfilling way. I live in a rural area, and there are plenty of trails that match my comfort and skill level (which is fairly low). I can set my own pace when hiking, which I love. I bring my dog, Cassie, and we can bond through the activity. My favorite part is reaching the top and feeling like I’ve succeeded. Through setting physical goals for myself and then reaching them, I gain confidence and love myself.

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Bell peppers – Santana’s garden

The act of cooking is another way I nourish myself completely. I live in a different state than my family, so one way I can feel close to them is through cooking recipes that my mother and grandmother have taught me. If I’m feeling homesick, making a favorite meal is a way to temper that. These recipes are a gift that they’ve given me and that I can share with people close to me. I’ve taken more initiative with my diet by adopting recipes that are not only tasty, but healthy too. When I sauté kale, garlic, and beets, I know that I’m providing my body with strength, nutrients, and something yummy, that’s empowering!

Eating healthy is doubly exciting when I cook the vegetables I grow in my own garden. How fulfilling to till, plant, cultivate, and harvest your own produce! I maintain my connection to the Earth and nature and I remind myself of the sanctity of food. I feel like a shepherd to my garden and my vegetables. After spending all day inside an office during the work week, I love to kick off my shoes and walk barefoot in the soil while tending to my plants.

One of my most important self-care actions I practice is allowing myself to be silly! I embrace having solo dance parties (in the printing room at work, in my car, or the kitchen while cooking dinner). If I catch myself being critical of my reflection in the mirror, I’ll start making silly faces at myself until I laugh. Part of growing up for me has been learning to take care of myself in an internal way and being silly is sometimes the best medicine.

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

For a long time I wrestled with my racial identity. Largely because the way others viewed my racial identity varied so much depending on what part of the country or the world I was in. I’ve always dreaded the “what are you?” question because my answer is so complicated and normally the person asking isn’t looking for an answer that’s been 23 years in the making. Although it is still a work in progress, I’m learning to embrace the fluidity of my identity. Rather than thinking of myself as an outlier or outsider because of my varied experiences, I’ve learned to see it as a tool through which I can more easily connect with a wide range of people. Through changing my perspective, I’ve learned to see my experiences as empowering rather than exclusionary. I’ve learned that I don’t owe an explanation to anyone regarding myself, and the way that I navigate my identity can be personal, unique, and special. Developing and naming my own agency in potentially marginalizing encounters has been a huge step in my own self-care.

What have you learned from self-love?

Self-love spills over into all other aspects of our lives. When you’re at your best, you provide so much more positivity and light. In many ways self-love is the best act of kindness. I’ve learned that if I want to have meaningful and beneficial relationships, self-love needs to be my top priority. I think in many relationships, the idea that “I’ll take care of you and you’ll take care of me” is common and potentially detrimental. That mentality can lead to a lot of pressure, false expectations, and resentment. I’ve found that in reality, the better philosophy is “Because I love you, I’ll love, take responsibility for, and care of myself.” Self-love translates into healthier, more supportive partnerships. It’s the foundation to a beautiful life.

Santana’s LYFF Collage:

We asked Santana to also submit photos demonstrating self-love in action or even photos that radiate the feeling of loving who she is. We created a collage (shown above AND below, because they were too inspiring to just choose three or four) of the awesome images she wanted to share.

Santana selected these images because “these photos make me proud of myself. In these moments I was trying something new, enjoying outside, or being exuberant and joyful. These are moments where I felt truly alive and in the moment!”

santana_collage_2[the phoenix rising collective]

Thank you for sharing your self-love story, Santana. You are definitely a Phoenix rising!

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If you’d like to share your self-love story with The Collective contact us here.

Love Yourself First! Friday is a weekly self-love series created by The Phoenix Rising Collective. Beautiful, diverse women tell stories of triumph, share personal affirmations, and declare love for their lives! The series is meant to inspire and empower women to fiercely demonstrate self-love in action in order to build and sustain healthy, positive self-esteem.  Be sure to read some of our other inspiring stories.


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

LYFF_Feature_Meaghan[thephoenixrisingcollective]

Love Yourself First! Friday (LYFF) is part of our Shed Light series collection. We invite 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.

This week’s brave Phoenix is Meaghan:

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

Loving myself first means three things to me: forgiving, showing up, and sharing.

  1. Forgiving myself: Since I was a child, I have been told I am just too sensitive, thin-skinned, needlessly vulnerable. I have always felt things incredibly deeply, and it shows. For a long time, I allowed others to take advantage of this part of me and even chastise me for it, telling me it was a flaw, a softness that needed to be hardened. But loving myself started with forgiving myself for these perceived weaknesses, which then opened up the opportunity to protect my vulnerability, and even, to insist upon it being something helpful and constructive.
  2. Showing up for myself: Once I learned to embrace the complexities of my emotional life, I was more ready to defend, preserve, and nurture it. This meant being more verbal when I felt I was being mistreated or ignored or emotionally abused; it also meant coming to the difficult and liberating conclusion that no one else was going to do this for me. As it goes, when I began articulating my worth, I lost some people who I thought were my friends. But the process has left me with a small, strong group of people I consider my chosen family. They respect, love, and appreciate me.
  3. Sharing myself: Once I learned to accept, appreciate, and defend who I am, I became more ready to share myself with the world. Part of loving myself means using my talents, intellect, and skills toward something that fulfills me: right now, it is through teaching and contributing to Human Rights scholarship. I hope to continue doing this once I graduate: I wish for myself a fulfilling life, and it’s my intention to show up and make that dream a reality.

 

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“I am learning how to embrace the beauty of my body…” -Meaghan, LYFF Feature

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

My favorite part of self-care has been creating rituals. My oil baths are legendary in my household, my partner understanding that this time is my time: I use organic oils and salts in a warm bath, and sink into the water with candlelight flickering around me. I light incense, and on a particularly tough day, smudge the space with sage. It is my moment with the divine, where I cleanse and nourish my skin and my mind after work. It helps me shed the stresses of the day.

I have discovered great solace in yoga, and practice at least 3 times a week staying present, feeling graceful (sometimes clumsy!), and building strength. This, in addition to weekly cardio, helps to keep my mood elevated and my mind clear. My personal fitness routine has helped me build a completely new self-image: instead of the un-athletic gym class dropout I thought I was, I know now that I am, in fact, made of poetry and sinewy muscles that can balance, extend, and flex.

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

So, I am going to overcome an obstacle just by writing this answer, and in so doing, I hope to demonstrate my idea of what self-love is. I live with depression, a mental illness that affects women and men around the world. As I grow and change, my depression changes with me. It has had different iterations, and manifests itself differently at different stages of my life. One of the most difficult stages was when I was a freshman in college: I was feeling profoundly alone, and with no one to confide in, I began having thoughts of suicide. I had no desire to eat, was losing weight rapidly, and did not leave my dorm room for days on end, save to go to class. It wasn’t until I had the courage to call my mother, and tell her that I was not doing okay, that I had been thinking of ways to quietly end my life. I told her how I was feeling, and asked her for help (Thank you, Mom, I love you). That was seven years ago, and I could not be prouder of my 18-year-old self for reaching out, and for continuing to struggle. While many may think that this was a time of weakness, I see it as a display of strength. I wanted to keep fighting, and fight I did.

I am writing this now because I made that phone call. I helped save my own life.

I reject the notion that we need to be quiet about these experiences: no one should ever suffer in silence or isolation. Our cultural stigmas around depression and other mental illnesses breed silence, and I refuse to perpetuate this damaging norm. If you are suffering, please tell someone. There are people who care about you, who want to help you leave this pain behind, and want to help you embrace your beautiful life for everything it could and will be.

I look back on that time, that person, with compassion and sadness. I see now I rarely allowed myself to dream: I was so enveloped in my depression that I could not see myself growing up or growing older. I did not think I would make it so far. I am learning now what it’s like to have a vision for my future, and it is overwhelming and wonderful and absolutely terrifying all at the same time. I see a social worker for therapy, practice mindful meditation, and read books that address the sources of my depression: for me, it is shame. Shame is a very powerful thing, as an emotion and as a socially constructed tool to keep women caged. Brene Brown’s book I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough” both articulates this struggle in the context of womanhood and provides some resources for how to cope with shame. It has provided me new ways to protect my vulnerabilities and use them constructively, to build a new idea of who I am and who I want the world to know.

What have you learned from self love?

Oh, I have learned so, so much from self-love, and continue to learn more. I have learned I am worthy, that love for myself multiplies and becomes love for and from others. I have learned that treating myself with compassion means I am more ready to treat others with compassion. It has given me a sense of belonging and community, a sense of possibility and a lasting relationship with myself.

Meaghan_Photos[Phoenix]

Meaghan also tunes in to self-care through writing and receiving love from her cat, Chickadee.

Meaghan’s LYFF Collage:

Here’s a little more about the photos she selected:

Top Right + Bottom Left: I have a lot of fun trying on different types of self-presentation, and I think style is a great way to express a multi-faceted personality. It is something accessible and fun for me, and helps me to take myself not-so-seriously.

Bottom Right: I am learning how to embrace the beauty of my body, to celebrate its strength and accept its flaws. This is a new concept for me, one I’m still exploring.

 

Thanks, Meaghan for sharing your LYFF story! You are definitely a Phoenix Rising.

 


 

Join the Collective. Share your self-love story with us. Send an email HERE. Put “My LYFF Story” in the subject line, and we’ll send you follow-up info. Sweet. Short. Simple!

Love Yourself First! Friday is a bi-weekly self-love series created by The Phoenix Rising Collective. Phenomenal women who fiercely demonstrate self-love in action in order to build and sustain healthy, positive self esteem share their stories‬.  Be sure to read some of our other inspiring stories.