The Phoenix Rising Collective

Inspiring Women to be Self-Love in Action


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5 Self-Care Tips for a Positive Morning Wake-Up

Inhale. Exhale. Say thank you. Acknowledge that it’s a new day! Express gratitude for an opportunity to get up and do it all again. It’s a chance to live life better. I don’t always feel like getting out of bed, but I don’t ever hesitate to say, “Thank you for another day.” It’s a simple, yet oh-so powerful two-word prayer.

Stretch/Meditate. Avoid Negativity. Move your body. Do yoga. Dance while getting dressed if you have to, but get the blood flowing. Meditation will help clear your mind so you can make sound, focused decisions. Try shower meditation, too, to visualize washing away the past (that includes yesterday) and setting your intentions. Recite affirmations while feeling the water refresh and renew.

Try not to take in any negative chatter (including the news). Keep your thoughts positive. Take in what will affirm your 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.

Set a pace that reflects peace. Carve out time for a consistent morning routine so you’re not in rush mode. When I don’t give myself time in the morning I feel off kilter, and inevitably I forget something on my way out the door. So, take care of yourself by setting a pace that reflects how you want to be throughout the day.

Eat a healthy breakfast. Your body needs energy and love. Have some fruit, a green smoothie, avocado toast or oatmeal. Drink lemon water for healthy digestion; it’s a great kick-starter. Make breakfast a treat, something you look forward to. Prep the night before so you have time to eat in the morning. Remember, your goal is to set a pace that reflects peace.

Talk to someone you love. It’s an immediate positive mood booster before you head out the door. My best friend and I do a quick check-in call to hold each other accountable for our goals. We also pray together, especially if there’s a challenging experience (presentation, meeting, conversation, etc) we have to face during the week. It definitely helps to know you have support when navigating the highs, lows and everything in between. Like Danielle LaPorte says, “Find your tribe. Love them hard.” And I’ll add…don’t forget to say, “I love you.”

Create a great day. Make it what you want it to be.


Ayanna Jordan is founder of The Phoenix Rising Collective. As principal consultant and leadership development trainer and coach, she develops and facilitates dynamic women-centered workshops 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.


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New ‘I Thrive’ Meetup: Meditate Your Way to Clearer Intentions

What I know for sure is that whatever your situation is right now, you have played a major role in setting it up. It is you who have created your circumstances. With every experience, you alone are painting your own canvas, thought by thought, choice by choice. And beneath each of those thoughts and choices lies your deepest intention. If you are feeling stuck in your life and want to move forward, start by examining your past motivations. -Oprah

This is the last I Thrive #selfcaresunday Meetup of the year!

So, join me for Setting-Your-Intention Meditation & Self-Care Book Swap. And, at the end of the afternoon we’ll share a toast to the new year.

Special guest, yoga teacher, Ellen Smith from Love Yoga Flow and Yoga on High will guide you through a meditation to support your intention and affirm your vision for 2018. Don’t worry if you’re a beginner! All levels are welcome. Come with an open heart to release the old and embrace the new.

I’ll also be sharing tools you can use from The Fullness of Me Intentional Living Guide; it provides clarity on your goals so that your actions can be in alignment with what you say you want.

Now, about the book swap. All you have to do is bring your favorite book on self-care (or just one you’re inspired by for personal growth) and be ready to gift exchange with someone else who brought her favorite, too. Everyone will go home with a new book for the holidays! (In my Oprah voice: You get a book. You get a book. You get a book! Every. Body. Gets. A. Booook!)

What you’ll need for this meetup:

  • Yoga Mat
  • Journal/notebook
  • Your self-care/personal growth book for swapping!
  • Dress is casual. Please wear workout/comfortable clothes.

I can’t wait to see you at this one – for sisterhood, to hold space for one another as we let go of what no longer serves us, and to make room for new experiences and clearer, healthier perspectives.

I don’t know about you, but 2017 has been a pretty challenging year. I’ve learned some invaluable and significant lessons. Lessons that have definitely taken my personal growth to the next level…and for the better I might add. One of the biggest is to always trust myself. So, I am ready to clear a path for 2018 because this wisdom has made me even more resilient. Watch out!

What lessons have you learned this year that have provided more clarity? I’d love to know. Share in the comments.

And, of course, register HERE for Setting-Your-Intention Meditation & Self-Care Book Swap. I’ll see you Sunday, December 10. Continue being self-love in action.

 


Ayanna Jordan is founder of The Phoenix Rising Collective. As principal consultant and leadership development trainer and coach, she develops and facilitates dynamic women-centered workshops 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.


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Phoenix Book Pick: An Invitation to Self-Care

 

Here’s my Phoenix Book Pick. It’s An Invitation to Self-Care: Why learning to nurture yourself is the key to the life you’ve always wanted by Tracey Cleantis.

Self-care and self-love are big buzz words right now. I feel like you can’t read anything about wellness and whole living without seeing these two words; one almost always follows the other. Don’t get me wrong; I think it’s a good thing. It means there’s a shift happening, a deeper, more conscious realization that in order to lead fuller and more meaningful lives we HAVE to take better care of ourselves. I mean it’s a significant part of what I share with you every day, and it’s also why I created I Thrive.

The challenge is diving in to understand what it truly means, and moreso HOW to do it — cultivating a level of self-care and love that supports who you are. Let’s be real. It ain’t just candles, wine and spa treatments! In fact, the introduction explores this:

The self-care advice and examples always seemed simplistic and superficial: Keep a journal. Take a yoga class. Light a candle. Lovely ideas. But really, how impactful is that candle in the face of a life filled with the daily ordinary and extraordinary challenges and stresses that we all endure?…Herbal teas, massages, pedicures…and, more recently, memory improvement apps and meditation podcasts — all of these promise to ease our stress, tame our tensions, or widen our bandwidths, but in the long run, they don’t – not really. Used on their own, they’re the equivalent of self-care Band-Aids: they hold us together and treat the pain for now, but they don’t get to the heart of the matter.

An Invitation to Self-Care talks about the myths (basically what self-care isn’t), helps you identify how you might be in your own way (self-sabotage, self-harm, self-hatred), and gives practical tools, tips and principles that support nurturing and loving who you are. It’s worth reading. If this is any indication, I’ve gifted the book twice already!

Happy reading. Be self-love in action.

 

Read this book already? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments or your suggestions on other books for the Phoenix Book Pick.


Ayanna Jordan is founder of The Phoenix Rising Collective. As principal consultant and leadership development trainer and coach, she develops and facilitates dynamic women-centered workshops 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 Collective on Instagram and Facebook.


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Are You Ready to Put Yourself First?

I’m so excited to share this with you! This has been a great summer so far, and it’s only getting better, especially since this month I’m launching I Thrive Self-Care Sunday Meetups for Women.

I Thrive is for the woman who is ready to put herself first, understanding that she must give herself love, care, support and healing before she can capably, successfully and completely give it to others. It’s an affirmation, and a commitment to apply practical self-care regimens that motivate women to make themselves a priority.

Meetups will be held the last Sunday of each month, 12pm – 3pm. Registration is only $12 and will include interactive wellness activities and demonstrations, resources, and tips and how-to’s that focus on whole living practices like mindfulness, yoga, personal affirmations, clean eating, meal prep, journaling, goal-setting, time management and so much more. On occasion there will be guest speakers at meetups who will share their expertise on the topic of the month.

So, Phoenixes in Columbus, OH join me July 30 for the kick-off of I Thrive.

Our topics and demonstrations of the month: (1) How to Create Your Own Personal Affirmations and (2) Learning Techniques & Exercises for Mindfulness Practice

I Thrive is an opportunity to…

  • Meet & bond with other women who are just as committed to self-care breakthroughs and transformations.
  • Receive encouragement and guidance that helps your daily practice.
  • Know you’re not alone on this path. We’re all figuring this self-love thing out together!
  • Be in a sacred space that honors vulnerability, and provides preparation and rejuvenation for the upcoming week.
  • Dig in and give yourself the love you deserve, the necessary and invaluable me-time that feeds the mind, body and soul.

Life is all about balance, and to maintain balance we must be intentional about giving ourselves what we need to have it. Let’s build an “I Thrive Tribe” who enjoys the process and celebrates our progress.

Register for July 30 HERE.

 


Ayanna Jordan is founder of The Phoenix Rising Collective. As principal consultant and leadership development trainer and coach, she develops and facilitates dynamic women-centered workshops 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.


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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.

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We All Need Phoenixes in Our Lives

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I have chosen to share wisdom from one of my dearest and most creative soul ties, La Shaun phoenix Kotaran. I met this artist a little over a decade ago in a Detroit poetry venue. Instantly after watching La Shaun’s performance on stage I was drawn to her magic. I am not too sure how we actually exchanged information but according to her, she heard me share a poem on stage and felt a connection as well.

I am not particularly interested in detailing her life and how this Detroit artist entered the creative realm. If you Google her or listen to her music, spoken word, or read her poetry book you will become more acquainted with her identity. Because of her experiences, she has been able to speak volumes of light into my life, especially during some of my lowest moments – to name a few:

  1. When I avoided my doctor’s request to set a follow-up appointment to find out the results of an operation that would indicate whether or not I had cancer, she lit a fire under my behind to set that appointment.
  2. When I organized a Women’s Symposium and people backed out at the last minute. Without my asking, she stepped in and took over areas where I needed help the most.
  3. For my birthday when I was living abroad and I sat in this small apartment thinking I had been forgotten, she sent me a cyberspace birthday gift reminding me how much I was loved — not just by her and others — but most importantly how much I loved myself.
  4. And then there are the endless love letters that solidified this blessed affair.

My intention is to share some of the wisdom that comes from the letters she has written. They offer friendship, authenticity, forgiveness, growth, fire, and more love.

The italicized phrases help explain the context of phoenix’s responses.

Your name?

Phoenix (small ‘p’) was a name given to me by the poets in the mid to late 90s. I’m not sure of the exact date, as I’ve had the name now for as long as I can remember. One thing I can say for certain is that you have to be careful when you name a thing. I’ve literally become every facet of the name PHOENIX. I was in an abusive relationship and I used poetry therapeutically to share my story, to escape from the trauma of the relationship and then to eventually escape my abuser. The lines I weaved in those smoked-filled cafés filled with incense, cigarettes and insecurity began to really resonate with people, until they gave me my “poet name”. It never wore off in that I have lived my life as a phoenix. This includes overcoming death multiple times, reinventing myself to be as youthful as the world around me and taking on this magical/mystical appeal. Moreover, as this mythical bird that can soar at some of the highest altitudes, I find it hard to hang around folks with a pigeon mentality. I can’t be on this earthly terrain accepting any random scrap people want to give me. I was born to fly. I was born to be a big deal. I was born to be this magical, mystical, drama-filled being.  I had difficulty accepting that, but [age] 40 will make you cluck your tongue against the roof of your mouth and say, “F*** it. This is me. I’m amazing. I’m scared. I take risks.  Some of this sh** is planned. Some of it isn’t. But, for everything I am and everything I’m not, I’m completely fine with being me. I’ll do what I want. I’ll say what I want. I’ll handle the consequences either way.”

Why the arts? 

Because it was easy to set my pain to a tempo. Poetry and music became this fluid thing – like water cleansing the spirit or like being baptized.  I think art, and we chose each other. I needed an outlet [and] art needed a vessel.

A specific phase in phoenix’s life.

I think this season has been transitional for so many folks, myself included.  I’m inspired, but I’ve been mentally and creatively drained so I think I’m going through a seasonal purge/emotional cleanse.  What has been my particular lifeline in the past few weeks is waking up in the mornings and for 5-10 minutes just declaring out loud all of the stuff I’m grateful for: From life to my warm blanket to incense to the breakfast smoothie to the sun to the birds to no leg cramps to great sex the night before to a great movie to the morning drive not feeling so rushed. Every little thing I can think of to be grateful for I say it. It changes me from cranky to positive in 5-10 minutes and it’s been helping this seasonal depression.

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This was for my Spirit Space Photographic Series on Instagram. phoenix is a feature.

My philosophy is really simple.  We are 100% human and 100% divine.  We are these amazing supernatural (above the norm) beings in that we have the power to access that divinity all the time by mastering our thoughts.  Truly, as a God/Goddess thinks is their reality and everything that’s going on (or not going on) in our lives is directly related to our conscious and subconscious thoughts.  Mike Dooley, an amazing author and master of the Law of Attraction says that thoughts become things and it’s our responsibility to choose the good thoughts.  While storms may come, how we consider the storm is how we’ll respond to the storm.  How we consider joy is how we’ll respond to joy.  Even in difficult moments I’ve been working hard to make sure that I’m grateful for something everyday.  Gratefulness adds.  It multiplies.  It brings in miracles where there are seemingly none to be had.  It is a true gateway.

Letting go of stuff.

I’ve been doing a lot of pruning. I’ve asked God to show me who is supposed to be here as I transition into the next phase of my life. I’ve been carrying a lot of dead weight in relationships and have had to address a lot of things that I’ve been passive about in previous years. It’s been a process – making myself and my needs a priority. I’ve had to confront some emotionally scary situations and say, “Peace. I love you. But, the way my life is set up right now, you’re toxic and the relationship in its current state doesn’t suit me.”

Do you ever have doubts about your abilities and dreams?

Yes.  I have doubts all the time.  Am I too old, too much in my own way to be what I want – a rich and FAMOUS entertainer?  Do you hear me?  I want to be a rich and FAMOUS entertainer in the United States and in the United Kingdom.  I want to be a Cinderella story for the young and seasoned.  And that sheer desire – the clarity and honesty of it – the desire to stop hiding behind that desire and to just embrace it is my driving force.  When I put my mind on the desire to be a rich and famous singer…when I keep repeating it – I’m motivated to just do one thing towards it.  Write a song, send an email, make a connection, and pray. I keep my goal at the forefront of my mind.

I was preparing for a trip and was concerned about my purpose. She said this to me.

Let me share this, Goddess: You have seen other countries with determination and penny pinching.  You have quickened and inspired the minds of so many emerging artists while discovering who you are in the process.  You understand Universal Law, the Law of Attraction, the Law of Love.  Nothing…No THING…will be withheld from you.  Continue to dream a world.  Continue to take risks.  Put good positive energy and thoughts into the results you want and let Source Energy worry about the how’s. Make YOU a priority right now.  Your wants.  Your needs. You don’t have to stay in your lane as much as you need to make yourself a chief priority. I think that you should embrace the unknown.  It’s priming you for blessings.  You can look for cool jobs and gigs while you’re there.  The answers will come to you in the midst of the circumstance.  You’ll get to see how you survive when all of the decisions have to be made in the moment. Sometimes, we plan the sh** out of stuff, and maybe we need to get lost in the experience. Overplanning was taking the fun out of stuff for me – you know?  So, I challenge you to just embrace that you’ll be in Italy and that every decision about your next move will come.  Your spirit and body have been telling you to rest and fall in love with art again. Your first trip to Italy afforded you that.  This trip, be intentional to discover your purpose and then let God pull things into the forefront for you.

So, you can see why I love this woman so much. She is a reminder that we are advocates for each other because we believe in the extraordinary and the impossible-made-possible. We believe in growth and glory. We walk in faith with our families cheering us on. At the bottom of her email there is a quote by Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act.  It is a habit.”

How true indeed. She is excellence in motion, always working on herself and encouraging others. She is an artist’s artist and a life coach comrade. What better way to start the year than with a phoenix on either side of me, whispering, “Rise Phoenix! Rise and declare yourself ALIVE!”

 

Share your thoughts in the comments. phoenix shared that she takes at least 5- 10 minutes out of her day to express gratitude. What is your daily ritual OR what daily ritual will you begin to practice to keep you centered in and inspired about life?

Learn more about La Shaun phoenix Kotaran and also listen to her music.


About the Contributor

traci_currie[contributor]the phoenix rising collectiveTraci Currie is a Communication and Visual Arts lecturer at University of Michigan-Flint, as well as a knit-crochet artist, writer, and spoken word performer. She has been a part of the art world for over 15 years as an art gallery board member; spoken word series organizer; performer, nationally and internationally; and published poet. She believes The PRC will help women reach their highest potential.  “The Phoenix Rising Collective is about empowering women to take ownership of their lives, claim their identities and be the positive change they wish to see in the world they live.” Read her latest posts.

Join the Collective on Facebook and Instagram.

 


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ARTIST FEATURE: Giving of Oneself: An Interview with Gretchen E. Henderson

 

gretchenhendersonartist_featuretheprc

There are some people in this world who force you to ponder your existence. Their mere presence requires you to think about purpose and the intimate details of your life. I met one of those people during summer 2015, when I attended a Kenyon Review workshop in Gambier, Ohio. One of the co-instructors, Gretchen E. Henderson, lit up the room with her attentive heart, her vigorous spirit, and her compassion for the women artists in that particular “Art of Text” workshop. This had been her third co-instructed summer workshop with Ellen Sheffield. And what an inspiring summer it was with these two amazing instructors and a room full of Women Artisans!

I should begin with Gretchen’s occupational identity. Her words delighted me: “I am weary of classifications in general. I tend to call myself a writer who works in the medium of language.”  She is a writer, scholar, and artist who plays with the structure of language both on and off paper. She and Ellen encouraged me to rethink how stories are told, especially in the publishing world.

Dr. Gretchen Henderson tells her students to call her by her first name. She does not focus her energy on titles, but when you speak to her you know the genuine spirit from which she comes. What she calls “rambling babble,” I call “passionate brilliance.” In our conversation she described her “detouring path,” her early experience teaching high school, starting an interdisciplinary program, enacting experiential education, and then realizing the necessity to change. She took night classes in creative writing, then pursued graduate degrees, and now has been teaching at various universities for over a decade. I myself entered the graduate world for familial reasons steeped in a different sort of exploration that focused on worth, but Gretchen responded to a burning curiosity that explores a variety of intersecting disciplines – writing, history, art, music – to name a few.

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This Northern Californian comes from a family who thinks practically. “Art seemed to be something you did on the side,” she said, explaining her upbringing. She trained seriously in music at a conservatory but thought she would go into human rights work or some kind of social work. But the artistry was always there – now unmistakable when you are in Gretchen’s presence. She exudes unconfined energy fluidly spreading across spectrums, genres, and disciplines. She makes you feel like art is central to life, because it seems to be a way of sensing and engaging the world. “Art challenges us to reconsider forms and encounter contents that may be unfamiliar, inviting or challenging us to question and even cross our own borders.”

She posed the question, “What knowledge is valued and not valued in this world?” Then she explained, “Societies often teach us to see things in a singular sort of way – as if certain things and ways are better than others. But when we live through adaptation, we start to understand that there are many ways of doing things, that we’ve inherited preferred knowledges, but that there are equally viable alternatives for living in the world. Exposures to these possibilities often prove more engaging and generous than our inherited versions. People live wholly different but equally valuable lives every day, and we live in a changing world. As we grow, we almost have to unlearn things to understand how we acquired much of the knowledge that we live by and practice.”

This, I believe is one of the reasons why storytelling and voice are so important to Gretchen. With her background as a musician, she explained that narrative and voice intertwine “like sound and silence, positive and negative space, where each comes into focus through relief and being present to each other.” She describes the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi, for instance, a term indicating beauty but whose connotations span the withered, weathered, crooked, aged, and ephemeral – qualities that might be deemed ugly or unwanted. Gretchen spent the past few years writing a book on Ugliness, exploring cultural histories and values, where art and aesthetics entangle with social preferences and practices.

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When I think of Gretchen I think of an endless amount of compassion. We talked about this characteristic, in relation to water and its elemental impact in our lives. Gretchen loves to swim. She learned to swim in childhood but really started swimming in earnest as an adult. Swimming catalyzes mobility, keeps everything fluid and in motion. “Water is a miracle place,” she said. “I feel like things that aren’t possible on land are possible in water. There’s a synergy between water and air,” she adds. “Both have resistance – you start to feel the air’s resistance through Tai Chi and related practices – but water magnifies that sense of dynamic engagement, more tangibly.” She explained that the resistance of water is a positive support that helps the body move past its limitations, get stronger, and engage with a larger environment. She called water a forgiving medium and repeated more profoundly, “Water is a forgiving place.”

This transitioned into the idea of what it means to forgive. “Over time, our bodies accumulate lived experiences: injury, aging, everything that we do. Our bodies can become static, but water and breathing keep things lubricated and moving. The same might be said of our ecosystems. Our bodies are heavily composed of water – after all, we evolved from fish – and much of the planet is water. Water embodies a kind of interdependence.” She explained that the two words “For + Giving” speak to a gift economy. The notion that water is a gift and gives us life speaks to our internal and external development. Wherever Gretchen has lived, she takes regular walks to be near water – whether a river, a creek, a bay, an ocean. She said, “There are all of these incredible qualities that water takes on, absorbing and reflecting light, shifting colors and movements, sometimes calm or windswept. There’s this fundamental property of motion. Water is so much bigger than we are, so at times it can be healing but other times volatile, for instance in storms or tides.” Water reminds her that humans are a small and humble part of this planet. So when looking at the word “forgiving” – or, as she pointed out, the two words “For Giving” – water speaks of being flexible and compassionate, aware of and present to the world that we collectively inhabit.

My own bodily experiences helped me relate to her final comments – an “out of box” philosophy and approach to teaching that allows people to move past their personal limitations – whatever those limitations may be. She connected this to the nature of “productive failure.” We can all agree that failure happens, right? But failure does not have to be terrible. I have learned that the greatest successes sometimes come from catastrophic failures. Gretchen thoughtfully shared, “I think people learn most from their failures. There’s something about learning these limits – how to be flexible around circumstances. When we fail, or when our institutions or our bodies or something else seems to fail us, we learn that we are capable of a lot more than we think we are.” We learn standards to understand how and why they came to be, but when they don’t work, we can learn how to re-imagine our limits or even how to effectively break the rules. This process of engagement produces, what she calls, critical makers. This critical making can extend to anything that we do.

I believe that is the phase I am walking in – to embrace productive failure so I can wake into a new possibility for myself as a person and artist. Gretchen shared that one of her favorite expressions in Spanish is ¿Cómo amaneciste?, which essentially means, “How did you dawn?” This focus on wakefulness turns upside down the English expression, “How did you sleep?” How can I wake to be the artist and person I am called to be? To be fluid as water? To stretch my limitations and learn what it truly means to give as an artist? To give of oneself for giving’s sake? To Gretchen E. Henderson, I am grateful for her giving heart.

 

Inspired by Gretchen’s story? In what area of your life do you need to surrender? Embrace and accept productive failure? Become a critical maker? Forgive? Share in the comments.

 


About the Contributor

traci_currie[contributor]the phoenix rising collectiveTraci Currie is a Communication and Visual Arts lecturer at University of Michigan-Flint, as well as a knit-crochet artist, writer, and spoken word performer. She has been a part of the art world for over 15 years as an art gallery board member; spoken word series organizer; performer, nationally and internationally; and published poet. She believes The PRC will help women reach their highest potential.  “The Phoenix Rising Collective is about empowering women to take ownership of their lives, claim their identities and be the positive change they wish to see in the world they live.” Read more Artists Features.

Join the Collective on Facebook and Instagram.