The Phoenix Rising Collective

Inspiring Women to be Self-Love in Action

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Good Vibes: 4 Ways to Honor and Tap Into Your Intuition

follow your intuition[the phoenix rising collective]

We think, feel, and act on our vibes without question or hesitation. -Sonia Choquette

What are vibes and why should we trust them? Our vibes are our intuition, and we make our best decisions by listening to them.

Learning About Vibes: Aisha’s Story

I only recently got into vibes. I was having a pretty difficult time, with life in general, when Simone (being the lovely friend she is) sent me a book geared at teaching me to trust my vibes. The book Simone sent me was Trusting Your Vibes by Sonia Choquette. I decided to start reading the book at night before bed and low-and-behold, it helped to give me some better insight into this whole vibe thing.

Now that I’m officially on board with the concept of vibes, let me tell you as a beginner what exactly trusting my own vibes has meant to me. There are a few themes that have resonated with me thus far on my journey:

The Importance of Sleep – Wait, What is that Anyway?

Anyone who knows me knows that I have problems with sleep. Mainly my problems with sleep come from just not getting any sleep, or infrequently getting a good night’s rest. Even as I write this, it is 1:47am, and I plan to be up early to go to class. One of the things Choquette suggests in the book is getting sleep, because you can’t listen to your vibes correctly if you are too tired. This resonated with me. As I move toward better listening to my vibes and following my intuition I have begun to focus on trying to get adequate amounts of sleep (if we don’t count tonight).

Paying Attention to What Goes In – Eating Better

Eating right and being nice to your body is also important for being able to pay adequate attention to your vibes. This is one thing that I have begun to refocus on lately, and it has helped. My sister who is on deployment asked me to take part in a fitness challenge with her, which requires that I journal all of my food and liquid consumption and all of my exercise. Taking the time to be conscious of what I am putting in my body has helped me have a better understanding of what listening to my body means.

 The Power of Words

I always knew that words had power – but learning about trusting my vibes has solidified this for me. I now understand how what I put out in the form of words can affect my overall being. With that in mind, I’ve been working with a statement that I try to repeat to myself several times throughout the day – that statement for me is “this shall pass” – and so far it has helped immensely.

Your sixth sense is really your first sense. -Sonia Choquette

Trusting My Vibes: Simone’s Story

I love the quote above by Sonia Choquette. A few years ago, my Godmother let me flip through her copy of Choquette’s Trust Your Vibes. I had always thought of myself as very intuitive; however, it was the skim through Choquette’s book that encouraged me to dive deeper into my intuition and spirituality. I read her book just about everyday because it guides me in following spiritual law instead of living a life where I am not in tune with the Universe or myself.

 Live in the Moment + Expect the Very Best from the Universe

In the past, I was very anxious, always expecting the worst. However, Choquette’s book has taught me to live in the moment and expect the very best from the Universe. To me, this means focusing on and enjoying what is right in front of me instead of trying to control everything. When I live in the moment, I am able to recognize the love around me: The laughter coming from my friends’ bellies, the mason jar of grapes feeling me with energy, and my cat, Ice T staring a hole into my soul!

Recognizing love, for me, lets me know that everything is already all right. I love being full of laughter, health, and good music, so I stay where good things are and expect them to be good, again and again. In the moment, I know that my power lies in being happy and full of love. If you are thinking about that typo you may or may not have fixed in your final draft, you might miss the opportunity to return a smile to a stranger or miss the sun setting on the way home from class. You could also miss the answers to your prayers. The moment is not only filled with happiness and love, it is also a place of intuition. I’ve learned so much about my life’s purpose and myself just by observing the colors, sounds, animals, buildings, etc. that surround me. I often say what I observe aloud or mentally; for example, “Ice T is snoring!” This technique helps me to recognize the love and beauty that surrounds me, which in turn, keeps me happy and full of positive energy.

Four Ways To Honor/Tap Into Your Intuition

We have complied a list of ways to stay in the moment and tap into your intuition. Get ready to trust your vibes, baby!

  1. Create a Personal Altar – You can use your altar to connect with your spirit, intuition, and God. You can place pictures of family, candles, plants, purified water, and healing stones on your altar to help you connect with the deeper parts of yourself. Visit your altar everyday, and give thanks for guidance.
  2. Keep an Intuition Journal – Create a journal to document your intuitive moments. Did you know you’d win those front row tickets to the Beyoncé concert? Write it down. Did you decide to take another way home and later discover that there had been a huge accident on your usual route? Write it down. The more we write down our intuitive moments and give thanks for our vibes, the more empowered we are to think positively and live in the moment.
  3. Meditate / Yoga – “When you listen you become intuitive.” Meditation really encourages you to be still. In our experiences, being still helps us to become aware of the thought patterns, habits, etc. that keep us from accessing our vibes. Moreover, being still gives us the opportunity to listen to ourselves and connect with our intuition. Yoga does the same for us. And the plus with yoga is that we get both a physical and spiritual “workout.”
  4. Eat Well + Sleep Well + Exercise – As Aisha mentioned, a healthy body is a great starting point for tapping into your intuition. When you’re rested and full of energy, you are more likely to feel your vibes.


Listening to our vibes has worked wonders in our lives. We’ve presented excellent papers at conferences, started new activities, met new people, and have been laughing so much more. Oh, and we’ve found missing bobby pins in the moments where we’ve stopped to cook ourselves a nice breakfast. Yes, bobby pins are everywhere!

So, tell us, have you trusted your vibes lately? If not, when will you begin?

Recommended Resources:

Making Positive Change Happen in Your Life: Awesome Tips and Creative Ways to Achieve Your Personal Goals

Check Out My Altar (and Learn to Make Your Own)

Trust Your Vibes: Secret Tools for Six-Sensory Living by Sonia Choquette



About the Contributing Writers:

AISHA_BLOG[PHOTO]Aisha Upton is a second-year PhD student at the University of Pittsburgh, studying Sociology and Women’s Studies. Her research interests include Black women in service organizations and violence against Black women. She is passionate about many things including community service, lipstick, baking, thrifting, knitting, and being a proud owner of a Cockapoo, Napoleon. At the intersection of being a diligent student, a fashionista, and an activist – you will find Aisha, attempting to find a balance.  Be sure to read Aisha + Simone’s unique take on Life + Style and the importance of letting who you are shine through when defining your personal style.


SimonePic3Simone Savannah is an English instructor and contributing writer for the Project on the History of Black Writing at the University of Kansas. She is currently pursuing a PhD in English-Creative Writing and Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies. Her poetry is based on personal experiences she can’t let go—imagined or otherwise. Simone also enjoys making green smoothies, attending Bikram Yoga classes, and laughing uncontrollably. Simone is teaming with Aisha (read about her below) to bring you a unique take on Life + Style.

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It’s Love Yourself First! Friday – Our May Tribute to Mothers Ends with Yolanda


It’s Love Yourself First! Friday, and this is the last self-love story in our May Tribute to Mothers series. As you know, we extended an invitation to three mothers and they all accepted, so we asked them thoughtful questions about self-love, and they eloquently answered with wisdom!  The last story in the tribute series comes from Yolanda.

Yolanda is the mother of Akil Houston, one of the contributing writers for the forthcoming book, Chasing My Father, Finding Myself: Journeys to Healing and Forgiveness.  We extended the invitation to her because she is spiritually conscious, committed to helping women build healthy self-esteem, and full of inspiring words of wisdom and truth. Akil asked his mother these heartfelt questions, and here are her responses! Thank you, Mama Yolanda.


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

As I reflect on this question I am reminded of a piece of sage wisdom given to me by an elder: “Baby, if I don’t take care of me, I will not be able to take care of anyone else.” She provided this tidbit as she was preparing to take a road trip with her 18-year old niece. In order to take this road trip she had to find a caretaker for her husband who was terminally ill. She instilled in me the need to make sure that I lovingly took care of me, and to make myself a very high priority, as opposed to giving until I was worn out.

I have learned to embrace my passion for reading books or watching television shows that have absolutely no socially redeeming value, for example watching Scandal or reading romance novels. In the bigger picture of life, watching Scandal will not cure world hunger and reading romance novels will not bring world peace. However, what they will do is provide a bit of down time that brings me peace and feeds my soul.  Now this doesn’t mean that I don’t read books or articles of substance, it just means that I need a break to recharge my battery.

There are also times when I just need to be around small children who are able to smile and laugh as if this is the greatest gift anyone could ever give.

When deeply stressed, I will retreat to my altar space to have a good conversation with my Yeye Oshun only asking that she listen, allowing me to reach a place of clarity.

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

My spiritual practice demonstrates the greatest show of self-care. While sitting in my altar space is quietly refreshing, I know that I can access that spiritual essence from wherever I may find myself.

Alternative healing practices such as acupuncture, chiropractic medicine, and massage have come to be the most effective methods of healing for me. Now, that does not mean that I won’t use westernized medicine if needed, it just means that alternative medicines have been the provider of the greatest healing for me. It was alternative healing practices that discovered the root of my chronic ear infections, laryngitis, and swelling as opposed to the numerous medications provided by my western physician that only masked my food sensitivities and allergies. My basic and most enjoyable form of exercise was dance. I danced for over twenty years taking classes, performing, and teaching until I had a serious fall at work and suffered a back and knee injury.

I now find that there is no form of exercise that gives me as much pleasure as dance.

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

When I met my son’s father, we were both in college. He was a junior and I, a freshman; it was instant love. He was so handsome, self-sufficient, and intelligent. We had talked a great deal about what our lives would be like once we graduated and were married.  He was going to be an educator and I had plans to become a school social worker. At that point, I felt as though I loved him more than life itself. We always used protection so I was not worried about becoming pregnant; however, at one point the protection did not work.  I had been sick with a seemingly endless ear infection and strep throat and was on antibiotics for several weeks. Little did I know, the antibiotics and my form of birth control did not mix.  Upon finding out that I was pregnant, he informed both me, and our parents that there was no way he could marry me or provide for our child. Graduation and attending grad school were his highest priorities. Once he achieved his goals, he would then be in a better position to take care of a child.

I was devastated and wondered how this man, whom I loved so much, who I would have given my last everything, could say this to me.  At that point, everything changed; I had to make it for my son and me. Knowing that I always had the support of my family, knowing that I could go home at any time, and knowing that I could ask for help and not have to be constantly reminded of how much my family had sacrificed for me, made the task of raising a child doable.

Being a single mom did not allow me to take the time to view issues as obstacles or challenges, I just had to make sure that my son was taken care of.  I also realized that putting my son’s father’s needs above mine was the greatest mistake that I had ever made. I came to realize that by loving him more than I was willing to love me, I had not set any expectations for his behavior, allowing him to do whatever he wanted while making excuses for his lack of responsibility. It was through that lesson, that I came to realize that self-love was not selfish, and that I was and needed to be important to me. If I was not aware of my value, no one else would ever be aware of my value.

What have you learned about yourself from being a mother? How has it helped your personal development?

I have learned the importance of having patience, humility, and the ability to laugh at myself. As a parent, just when you believe that your child would never do anything to embarrass you, they do something to challenge your parenting.  Sometimes your child will say something that makes you want to laugh, but you know as a parent that sometimes that laugh is really about something that you have told him/her, interpreting what you have said in a manner that you never intended.

Things that I thought were so important to being a great parent, really had very little to do with true parenting. Loving with expectations for behavior, setting limits, and being consistent were some of the greatest gifts I have received as a parent. The ability to multitask and listen beyond the spoken words have all been great assets to and for my personal development.

What have you learned from self-love?

I have learned that self-love is the greatest gift I can give to myself while showing others how I expect to be treated. It is looking beyond the pimple on my chin, the graying hair, the last ten pounds that I need to lose, or the self-sabotaging criticism that can destroy a person quicker than anything.

It’s about trusting in myself, being able to forgive me and not carrying those things I will never be able to change. It’s making sure that I love me and can have no less than one big heartfelt laugh a day. But most of all, it is about never lying to myself. It is about finding that inner peace, and appreciating the beauty of the simple things that life has to offer. It is also knowing that I am connected to spirit and how spirit is connected to me.


Love Yourself First! Friday is a weekly self-love series created by the Phoenix Rising Collective. Beautiful, diverse women of color tell their stories of triumph, share their personal affirmations, and declare their love for their own 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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Natural Healing for Food Addiction: The Power of Making Healthier Choices


Collage by Tonya Adams

As beautiful as the sun rising and setting each day, so is the beauty of our lives. The light of the sun shines, and we must not let anything obscure its radiance, as growth is ever present.  Enjoying life and feeling good should always be our natural state of being, but we know through experience that life often brings us growing pains and uncomfortable situations in order to check our egos, to force mindfulness, or to lead us toward our purpose. In order to maintain peace through our adversities, it’s important to develop healthy habits that support transcending painful experiences.

Unfortunately, many of us seek unhealthy forms of relief, like abusing harmful substances, to reclaim peace. These substances are toxic to the body, and with prolonged use can control the body’s cells and functions causing physical, mental, and spiritual deterioration.  In the words of holistic wellness entrepreneur and natural health practitioner, Queen Afua, “When we are addicted to anything or anyone, our lives are not our own.  Addictions are a toxic reflection of how we view our connection with ourselves and the world. All addictions drain our life force, leaving us less than we are.” (1)

Throughout my life I have witnessed and experienced the suffering caused from the dis-ease of addiction. I observed that the majority of adults around me had some form of substance dependence. Today I realize that many of them perceived life’s challenges as suffering, as opposed to a springboard to something greater; they viewed life as a hell they had to escape.

One of the most serious addictions I’ve witnessed is among African American women. Our poor relationship with food has led to having the highest rate of obesity in the U.S.

“Currently, major causes of morbidity and mortality in the United States are related to obesity, mainly caused by poor diet and inadequate physical activity. Some specific diseases linked to poor diet and physical inactivity include cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis, and some cancers.” (2)

According to the Office of Minority Health (3):

  • African American women have the highest rates of being overweight or obese compared to other groups in the U.S. About four out of five African American women are overweight or obese.
  • In 2010, African Americans were 1.4 times as likely to be obese as Non- Hispanic Whites.
  • In 2010, African American women were 70% more likely to be obese than Non-Hispanic White women.
  • In 2007-2010, African American girls were 80% more likely to be overweight than Non-Hispanic White girls.

Medical Image Credit: Animated Dissection of Anatomy for Medicine (A.D.A.M.)

Obesity is linked to higher risk factors for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and a host of other maladies.

The prevalence of night eating syndrome (NES), binge eating disorder (BED), bulimia nervosa (BN), and the general experience of food cravings are key words to describe some of the addictive habits behind the high rate of obesity among African American women.

Those cravings are usually for junk food, which can be defined as highly engineered toxic substances; and often times their effects are far worse than narcotics.

Unfortunately, this is especially prevalent in predominantly low-income communities due to food inequality; fast food restaurants, liquor stores, and convenience marts are on almost every corner. Processed foods that make us sick, tired, and addicted are easily accessible while healthy, nutritious foods that our bodies need are unavailable and unaffordable. For example, in Columbus, Ohio (specifically near the South and Eastside), there are no grocery stores in walking distance, so people are mostly dependent upon the local convenience marts that sell junk food and other toxic products that are destroying our health.

What are some inexpensive natural healing methods that can be implemented to address food addiction? A part of the answer to the healing process is embracing the concept that was introduced in my previous post: Health is W.E.A.L.T.H.S., the acronym for water, exercise, air, light, thinking happy thoughts, healthy food, and sleep. Other key steps include the following:

  1. Recognizing and admitting that you have a problem.
    Flush your system: Begin to cleanse the body by fasting. There are many detoxification recipes that focus on cleansing and healing to break addiction. A great place to begin? Health Thyself: For Health and Longevity by Queen Afua
  2. Meditating on a daily basis, as often as three to four times per day, to build mental and spiritual strength to overcome the addiction.
  3. Incorporating more raw fruits, vegetables, and super greens such as spirulina and chlorella into your body to feed and nourish your cells. When we consume empty calories, our cells become malnourished.
  4. Spending your money wisely, not from a state of addiction and poor eating habits, but as a wellness activist!
  5. Eating healthy as a family to develop better habits, especially for children.
  6. Creating a wellness plan that includes food education – taking time to research and understand the nutritional value of your food choices is very important.
  7. Surrounding yourself with people who will support you on the path to wellness.
  8. Supporting the development of local food systems and cooperative economics.
  9. Growing your own food for sustainability, ensuring that you’re eating foods while they are in season.



Photo by LeRoyna Edwards

If you don’t know how to begin these steps, there are many organizations and programs that can help you get started.  Circle 77 builds a healthy institution on the South Eastside of Columbus, Ohio that supports the restoration and revitalization of our community by offering products and services that promote healing and wellness.

Invest in your health!


 (1) Afua, Queen. City of Wellness: Restoring Your Health through the Seven Kitchens of Consciousness. Heal Thyself Incorporated. 2009. Print.

(2) Institute for Alternative Future. School Based Wellness Programs: A Key Approach to Preventing Obesity and Reducing Health Disparities. The DRA Project. Report 08-04. October (2008): 72 pgs. Print.  

(3) Obesity and African Americans. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Office of Minority Health. Web. 6 September. 2012.


systar_roni_ausetSystar Roni Auset is a licensed yoga instructor, healthy living practitioner, holistic educator, master joyologist, and founder of Circle 77! Her aim is to improve her community’s quality of life by promoting a healthy lifestyle. By offering educational workshops, health oriented events, youth productions, and training programs, Systar Roni teaches and encourages holistic health as a way to empower people to make choices that will positively impact their own health and that of their peers, families, and communities. Using the latest information about nutrition and natural living, as well as sharing knowledge about the benefits of physical activity and meditation, she intends to be a strong source of vitality within the community. If  you would like to schedule a workshop/yoga class, participate in the Circle 77 buying club, or support her work with youth,  please visit The Children Shall Lead Them Productions.