The Phoenix Rising Collective

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

 

Sheree_LYFF[The Phoenix Rising Collective]

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 Sheree:

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

Loving myself is a practice, a daily practice, a moment by moment practice mixed with a lot of patience and self-compassion.

Loving myself is becoming more aware of my thoughts, my feelings, my behaviors and actions. Through this I am aware of the woman I am becoming. There is not an end product, no finished version of me to love. I am on a constant journey. Now, I’m on the right path of self-love and there’s no way I can get off. I am aware of the difference between self-hate and self-sabotage in comparison to self-love, and I don’t want to go back.

It’s telling myself that I am loved. It’s about getting out of my own way to allow the love that I hold within to flow through me, to flow through my heart, body, mind and soul for myself, for others, and for the world at large. It is about being open and vulnerable, and growing in strength by giving and receiving. It means not taking on anyone else’s hang-ups while at the same time dealing with my own.

Loving myself first does mean changing my narrative, changing the stories I have been telling myself and living by. I accept that within life, as I move forward attempting to become the best version of me, there will be difficulties and struggles. It will be messy and I won’t do things perfectly. Acknowledging my fears, mistakes, doubts and struggles, and sitting with them (not denying them) means loving myself enough as I am: the ‘good’, the ‘bad’ and the ‘ugly’. It means cutting myself some slack if I’m having a bad day. It’s about praising myself, as well as chastising myself, but still being able to believe in myself, always.

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

The mind is a powerful tool if we use it as such. It controls all that we do and don’t do. It affects our thinking, feelings, actions and behaviors. It doesn’t matter how much I want to do something: go for a run, eat healthily, go to a yoga class; if my mind isn’t into it, it ain’t happening.

It’s a constant practice and battle to keep my mind in the zone – focused and motivated. It gets tired, disheartened, distressed, and frustrated. My practice to ward against this happening too often is to meditate on the page. I call it my Morning Pages (thanks to Julia Cameron) or simply journaling. Every day I have to work out on the page. Each day I show up by writing out how I’m feeling, what I’m thinking, dreaming, stressing. I’m connecting with myself on the deepest of levels or even shallowest of levels when I provide the time and space to have this daily inner conversation.

collagejournalling

Journal Collage created by Sheree Angela Matthews

This writing practice is deepened by walking, running, wild swimming and eating consciously. But these other self-care practices go out the window when I’m disconnected from myself, when I haven’t been checking in with myself on a regular basis. The person I am becoming and how I present my being within the world is constantly changing. I’m inconsistent, so having the means to check in with myself keeps me sane.

Self-care for my soul comes through my creativity. Creativity is my jam. Whatever medium is calling me – pen on paper, keyboard, painting, collaging, knitting, dancing, singing, cooking – I need to make things, bring things into existence that were not here before I started the process. There’s a feeling as if something, some kind of energy is flowing through me when I create. I’m in the zone. I’m working intuitively. I’m creating and am at peace. I’m joyful.

This doesn’t happen every time I take the time to create, but I keep showing up in the hope that these feelings, this experience will happen again and again. It’s not about the end product; it’s the process. It’s the practice with patience, of course.

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

“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would spin open.” -Muriel Rukeyer

There comes a time in everybody’s life when the unspeakable happens. To say it hasn’t happened or won’t happen to you is a lie. You’re kidding yourself. Believe me.

In May 2015, the unspeakable happened to me. There was a public shaming. My whole world fell apart the day I was accused of being a plagiarist on Facebook by a ‘so-called’ friend and fellow poet. He wrote that he’d found whole scale “borrowings” from other writers’ words, phrases, and structures within my latest collection of poetry. He said that he was just doing his duty for the poetry community by bringing it to everyone’s attention. What followed was what I chose to call a public lynching of me as a writer, poet and person. This was the unspeakable that happened to me. But funny enough, I am speaking about it here, as well as writing a creative non-fiction book about this whole experience. Everything I knew, all I was, how I thought myself to be was taken from me in that public posting. I issued an apology regarding my unintentional mistakes and withdrew from the public realm. At one point, death looked a very promising course of action, but I had my family and some supportive friends who helped me.

Within the Chakra system there is a heart center called Anahata Chakra. In Sanskrit, Anahata means “Unstruck.” For me this speaks to the resilient nature of the human heart. I believe, wholeheartedly, that there is a place within my heart that is absolutely unbreakable.

This experience did break my heart, stopped me from loving, and shut me down and out. However, there was a minute part that kept pulsing, kept the light on for me. Maybe it was my belief in self, my self-love that got me through each day.

Each day has not been wasted. I have taken this experience as a wake-up call, a wake-up to explore and claim my authenticity. Afterwards, I had nothing. I couldn’t even look myself in the face at one point. But writing my book and starting to take photographs of myself have supported me in my climb up. I can’t say climb ‘back’, because who or what I am becoming, I do not know. I have never met this woman. I do know that love and self-love, first and foremost, are at the center of this journey.

What have you learned from self-love?

Self-love has to come from me. Obviously, right? But it is probably the hardest thing we try to do, have to do. It is difficult, because maybe we are not given the tools to love ourselves, so we struggle to practice it. I’ve spent the majority of my life trying to please others, trying to make them like and love me. I thought this was the route to travel in order to develop self-love.

I’ve spent multiple lifetimes making others comfortable at the expense of making myself uncomfortable. I just wanted to be loved. I wanted to be accepted and validated. I wanted to be enough, good enough. In the process of pleasing others I’ve silenced myself. I put versions of me into storage, buried them away. I’ve censored myself because I haven’t loved or believed in myself enough to show up in the world as me. I’ve thought,”If I’m truly myself people won’t like or love me.” They’d see my ugliness and disown me. As things have transpired, I have been disowned when I least expected it. When I thought I was accepted. Now, I’ve got nothing to lose except myself. Out of fear I disowned myself, but not anymore.

This past year of reaching rock bottom meant I had nothing but myself to count on. It meant I had to go within, search within the shadows, within my darkness to find my light, to find me. And it’s source is love.

I’m not here to write ‘the happy ever after’, as that just happens in fairy tales. In real life, self-love doesn’t show up every day. It isn’t a constant. Some days I feel worthless, useless and such a failure.

Henry David Thoreau said, “There is no beginning too small.” This I do know.

Each new day is a beginning, so if I fail this day. I can begin again the next day. Simple.

I keep making small beginnings over and over again. In the process, I am learning to love myself more and more.

Self-love is a practice with massive heaps of patience and compassion, but it’s worth it. No. I’m worth it.

___

Share your thoughts about Sheree’s powerfully honest self-love story in the comments. And, to learn more about Sheree and Wild Soul Woman, follow her: IGwildsoulwoman; FBfacebook.com/wildsoulwoman; Twitterawildsoulwoman

 


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

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Be Honest About What You Really Want and Life Map + Goal Set Your Way to It

Fullness of Me Intentional Living Guide [Phoenix Rising Collective]

It has been a whirlwind couple of months for me winding down the year and preparing The Phoenix Rising Collective’s calendar for 2016. Needless to say, I’ve been busy in a good way, very productive. It’s the kind of busyness I enjoy because I’m doing things that I absolutely love like giving you this awesome gift!

The Fullness of Me Intentional Living Guide is a life mapping and goal setting tool to support you in creating a new year that aligns with your personal vision of joy, happiness, wellness, and success.

The guide helps you chart the course of your personal and professional goals, as a significant part of being self-love in action is taking responsibility for your choices so that you strengthen your ability to manifest what you really want and open up opportunities that are in alignment with who you are.

visionboardworkshop2015[ThePhoenixRisingCollective]

Manifesting Her Happiness Vision Board Workshop 2015

In fact, I’ve been sharing FOM this year with women who’ve attended my leadership and self-care workshops and the feedback has been so positive because it really helps to create action plans that work! For example, in November I led Manifesting Her Happiness, a vision board workshop (check out more photos), and before making the vision boards I guided attendees through FOM so they could identify specific objectives to fulfill rather than, as one participant put it, “creating a vision board full of wishes.”

The key to the guide is being honest about what you really want for your life, the kind of honesty that brings clarity and creates experiences you desire personally and professionally. It’s time to dive in. Seriously. No more back tracking, what-ifs, and second guessing your decisions; instead keep your attention on your intentions and build an inspiring workable plan you can bring to fruition one day at a time.

Don’t wait until January. Start now! This is self-love in action.

OK, download your gift: The Fullness of Me Intentional Living Guide.  You’re ready!  Let’s truly make 2016 a happy new year.

 


 

 

Ayanna_Prof_Headshot[Mktg_Phoenix2]Ayanna Jordan is founder, workshop leader, and personal empowerment coach for The Phoenix Rising Collective. She develops and facilitates women-centered workshops on how putting self-love into action can transform your life. Ayanna also creates coaching and training that supports women’s professional growth in leadership, entrepreneurship, and passion-filled work. As editor-in-chief of Phoenix Shine, she is happy to be working with contributing writers to provide 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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5 Signs You’re Living Authentically

5_Signs_of_Living_Authentically[The Phoenix Rising Collective]

“Choosing authenticity means cultivating the courage to be emotionally honest, to set boundaries and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable; exercising the compassion that comes from knowing that we are all made of strength and struggle and connected to each other through a loving and resilient human spirit…”

Almost 365 days have passed since becoming the Motherhood Empowerment contributor for Phoenix Shine, The Phoenix Rising Collective’s blog. My, my, my (long inhale and exhale) so much has happened within the past year. Through all the laughter with family and friends, financial challenges, job hopping, difficult living arrangements, tears of depression, and watching my boys grow up and out in height, personality, identity, hobbies, and intellectual capabilities – I’m STILL standing. I’m STILL here!

This is a major declaration because there have been some pivotal moments these past few months, moments when I thought life was playing a miserably absurd joke on me and had left me in the great wilderness to be eaten alive by self-loathing, debilitating mental illness, anxiety attacks, and voices of conditioning. But alas, my Guardian Angels and Spirit Guides gave me a swift kick in the (now very sore) posterior (I’ll explain the soreness later!) and challenged me to begin living a life solely dedicated to unabashed authenticity. I was forcefully nudged to do the following:

  1. Speak honestly to myself, first and foremost; and then share my truth with others.
  2. Create the balance of listening AND adhering to the messages from my passionate heart and my rational mind.
  3. Completely surrender to the notion of living to fulfill my life’s purpose.

“…Nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we let go of what we are supposed to be and embrace who we are.”

So, in mid-July, one early Sunday morning, after a long sleepless night of tossing, turning, and deep inhalations of the Houston, Texas humidity, pollen, and dew, I began the initial phases of doing…well, more so…BE-ing all of the above.

I spent the last $237 in my account (reserved for partial payment on a bill) for a round trip ticket to Michigan with the intention of seeing my honorary mother (stepmother) and best friends. I separated from my significant other of eight years. I went to work the next day and quit my job with no other prospects anywhere close to the horizon. A few weeks later, I finally communicated some deep and dark feelings to my biological mother – feelings that had been churning inside me since I could recall my earliest memories as a toddler. This led to a healing breakthrough for us.

Let me tell you, after all that, not only did I feel like I had lost 100 pounds. For the first time ever, I felt serenity, excitement, unrelenting strength, joy, and absolute readiness to create the rest of my life exactly how I want!

In recent weeks, doors I didn’t know existed have widely and enthusiastically flung open, ushering me into the greatness that is my purpose. I was awarded a scholarship to complete my Yoga Instructor certification (which I’ve begun preparing for; hence the soreness in practically every muscle in my body). I’m writing programs and developing a curriculum for a non-profit organization committed to youth empowerment. I teach English as a second language to Spanish speaking and Vietnamese adult learners. And I’m the new Program Coordinator for the Houston Center for Literacy which is dedicated to improving the literacy landscape of the city.

Living_Authentically[the phoenix rising collective]

Talk about LEAPS of faith toward living an authentic life! Based on what I’ve experienced these past few months, I’d like to share five signs that you’re living authentically:

  1. Fearless: You fear less; thus, welcoming the vulnerability that comes with the discomfort and uncertainty of not having every single detail of your life planned. You find solace in knowing the heavens and earth are conspiring in your favor to bring forth what you really want. You express gratitude because all that you’ve prayed long and hard for (plus even more) comes to fruition. You simply say,“Thank you,” and pay it forward.
  1. Honesty:  Speak the truth and nothing but the TRUTH so help you! According to Neale Donald Walsch, honesty is one of the highest manifestations of love, so if the intention is to love ourselves, let’s start by being honest. How do you want to feel each day that you wake? What’s your ideal career? How can you make a lucrative income pursuing the one or two or several things that bring you great joy and passion? What does optimal health look like on you? What are some non-negotiable and/or areas of flexibility within an intimate, committed relationship for you? In what area(s) can you improve your parenting skills? I dare you greatly to answer all of these questions, honestly. And don’t judge your answers!
  1. Clarity: A book that really helped me gain clarity in my personal and professional life is The Passion Test by Janet Bray Attwood and Chris Attwood. Without giving away all the details (because I hope you’ll do your research and grab a copy for yourself) the book provides a very precise formula for helping you gain significant clarity on the who, what, when, where, and how of pursuing your passion(s).
  1. Life Flows Easily: When you’re living what you love, life flows easily. You’re so swept up in the new routine of fearlessness and honesty (and with a brand new vision for pursuing your goals) that you become much less concerned about doubt, judgment of others, and the drama of “Who Shot John.” Now, this is not to say there won’t be hiccups and challenges along the way; ideally, you’ll feel more inclined to be aware of the now (or present continuous, as I’m teaching my students) and the power you have to create it exactly how you wish it to be.
  1. Attracting Goodness: Like INergy attracts Like INergy. The thoughts, words, and behaviors you set your intentions on will always return to you. Your intention will reflect either ugliness or beauty, so create beauty, Goddesses!

Authenticity demands wholehearted living and loving – even when it’s hard…mindfully practicing authenticity during our most soul searching struggles is how we invite grace, joy, and gratitude into our lives.”

I’d like to especially dedicate this to Brene Brown.  I’ve used quotes from her glorious masterpiece Daring Greatly throughout this article.  I’d like to extend an extra special THANK YOU to Ayanna Jordan for inviting me to The PRC family, embracing my writing, compassionately supporting me, and encouraging me to continue to strive towards my own GREATNESS! Also, Traci Evadne Currie, gratitude, gratitude, gratitude and more gratitude for operating in your greatness and inspiring me to do the same!

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About the Contributing Writer:

Kaneesha_bio_pic[shine]W. KaNeesha Allen is The Phoenix Rising Collective’s Motherhood Empowerment contributor. She is an educator with extensive project management, student support services, and community outreach experience in K-12 and higher education institutions.  She is also the mother of two extremely rambunctious and fun loving boys – Ausar and Mikah. While often seeking to master the balance between being a highly engaged mother and taking time to BE with herself in the divine energy of the universe, KaNeesha finds peace, solace, and regeneration through meditation, Vinyasa yoga, and her “Sistah Circle”. As the Motherhood Empowerment contributor, she welcomes mothers from everywhere to join her on a journey of self-discovery and evolution towards harnessing, embodying, and emoting the Goddess power within. Read her latest posts.