The Phoenix Rising Collective

Inspiring Women to be Self-Love in Action


Leave a comment

Looking Good, Naturally!

lookinggood_naturally[poster]2

Are you Team Look Good, Feel Good, Naturally? Of course you are! So, you know a large part of cleaner living is moving toward using natural products for your hair, skin, and nails. And you also know that incorporating natural products into your daily routine can make your hair, skin, and nails feel as good as your body does with cleaner eating habits!

What is Clean Living? Well, we define it as making a commitment to informed decisions about the products we use and the foods we eat. The goal is to incorporate simple, sustainable, and healthful practices into your daily routines that are natural, nutritionally safe, and toxin-free for the body and home to cultivate clean living inside and out.

The products and regimens we’re providing are inexpensive, healthy alternatives – some can even be found in your kitchen!

HAIR

3 products SimoneOne of the most awesome things about having natural hair is versatility, and one of the most difficult parts about having natural hair is finding reliable products that work well with your hair type. For this we often turn to essential oils and conditioners made for sustaining healthy, natural hair.

Simone returned to natural twelve years ago, and started locking her hair in 2007. She usually wears her hair down or in protective hair styles, such as buns and pigtails (she is really obsessed with pigtails right now!), and she loves using coconut oil because it promotes hair growth by penetrating and moisturizing the scalp. When it comes to washing, it is an all day affair! She starts by using a combination of apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda, sea salt, and warm water to cleanse her scalp (and to promote shine). Then, she uses a few of her favorite Shea Moisture products to condition and shampoo her hair.

Aisha is three years into being natural and loves it. Depending on the day, the weather, or her school schedule, you can catch her with wash-n-go curly tresses, a protective style, or an occasional press-out. With that in mind, most of her favorite products are oils! Jojoba, argan, coconut, and peppermint – just to name a few. All of these oils work to maintain the moisture that hair needs. For wash-n-go hair (by co-washing), a leave in conditioner is essential, followed by oils to seal in the moisture. For a protective style, a good spray of oils fights hair breakage, allowing the style to actually protect the hair, not hurt it. If you are pressing your hair – which should be done sparingly, as too much heat can be damaging – oil can be used to seal the ends of your hair and maintain a healthy scalp. Remember, moisturized hair is healthy, happy hair!

product_love

 SKIN CARE

photo (6)Some of Aisha’s favorite natural skin care products come from Lush, a cosmetics company that prides itself on the creation of fresh handmade products. She enjoys indulging in various handmade soaps (especially one made out of honey), soaking in oatmeal baths, and rubbing her body down with handmade lotion. Although buying handmade cosmetics comes at a price, we have to pick and choose how we’re going to treat ourselves, and this is where Aisha indulges. Plus, none of the products she buys are tested on animals!

Oh, and have you ever heard of the Oil Cleansing Method? It is amazing! Simone loves using coconut oil, avocado oil, and/or olive oil to clean her face. She follows this routine everyday, especially after workouts to keep her face firm and clear of breakouts. These oils are also great for the entire body, so get obsessed!

Feminine Hygiene – Yes, down there! We use natural products EVERYWHERE.

Simone uses natural vaginal cleansers that are gentle and moisturizing – a lot of vaginal washes come in lavender, rose, and other scents. In fact, there are also many natural foods that promote womb wellness and give you a fresher, cleaner feeling. Natural health practitioner and author, Queen Afua gives some examples in her book, Heal Thyself for Health and Longevity, of live foods that can be eaten for healthy feminine hygiene and wellness: mango, papaya, coconut water, ginger, sorrel, honeydew, celery, parsnip, cucumber, and greens such as kale, spinach, and chard. And here’s a recipe for a natural cleansing bath:

  • 1tbsp. cinnamon
  • 3tbsp. rosewater/3tsps. rose oil
  • Natural foaming liquid
  • Handful of patchouli
  • 1-2 lbs. Dead Sea Salt (for deep relaxation)
  • Soak 20 – 30 minutes

And who loves a nice Brazilian wax? We do! Hey Fran Hey has an awesome recipe for a raw and organic hair remover that we cannot wait to try! You can also use this sugar wax on other parts of your body.

NAILS

Natural care for nails? Oh, but of course. Simone recently said goodbye to acrylic nails and hello to coconut oil to promote nail growth. Acrylic nails may look good, but they are very damaging and can often leave your nail bed weak and unattractive after removing them. For Simone, coconut oil has been the best solution for nail health and growth. The nutrients in the oil help to strengthen your cuticles and the nail bed, too. Massage coconut oil into your hands and nails two to three times a week, and before you know it, you will have long, strong claws! Okay, maybe you don’t want claws, but the strength is to die for.

We realize that all of this may be super overwhelming, so we’ve compiled a list of our favorite resources and products that we hope you’ll incorporate in your daily routine. Most of the products we use are raw and organic for an extra clean look and feel!

  • Jojoba Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Argan Oil
  • Peppermint Oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Olive oil
  • Shea Moisture Products
  • Kinky Curly Knot-Today Leave-In
  • Witch Hazel (for cuts)
  • Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine
  • Encyclopedia of Healing Foods

Remember that becoming au naturel is a process. Your health and sanity are important, so be patient with yourself when it comes to learning about clean products. Looking and feeling good from the inside out and the outside in are a commitment, so take the time to get your research on. Invest in yourself. Go ‘head—get to know the skin you’re in!

Tip: Before buying ALL of these products, pair up with a friend so you can find what works best for you without wasting money.

Happy cleaning!

Simonepic2Simone 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.

 

AISHA_BLOG[PHOTO]Aisha Upton is a first year PhD student at the University of Pittsburgh, studying Sociology and Women’s Studies. Her research interests: 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 continue following Aisha + Simone’s unique take on Life + Style and the importance of letting who you are shine through when it comes to self-care, and defining your personal style.


Leave a comment

Smoothies, Soothe Me! Healthy Green Goodness that Packs a Delicious Punch

green-machine-smootie-mbd108052_vertJust when we thought Oreos could cure our heartache and the empty feeling in our stomachs, we were introduced to green smoothies. Green smoothies? How disgusting, right? Wrong.

Let us tell you that green smoothies are awesome! We decided to start drinking these clean, protein packed Mason jars full of heaven when we realized that although we were cutting out a lot of unhealthy foods, we forgot to add more fruits and veggies to our diets. Green smoothies give you the fruits and veggies you need, and are catalysts to establishing cleaner eating habits. Since we’ve started drinking them, we have a lot more energy, eat less junk food, and rely a lot less on sugary, caffeinated drinks, though we do ‘love us some’ chai and coffee. After drinking a smoothie, we feel happy and full. We get to sip on something that makes us feel good and look good at the same time.

I guess you could say that we make, “Eww, what are you drinking?” look fabulous. Furthermore, smoothies are not only perfect for giving you that fabulous ooh-I’m-health-conscious look, but they also provide your body with protein, making for great pre and post workout meals. Just be sure to add hemp, whey, and/or flax seed powder to give you the extra kick you’ll need to run those 13.1 miles in the spring half marathon!

We have to say that incorporating healthier foods in our diets has not always been easy. And though that pack of Oreos and glass of wine you had the day Microsoft Word did not recover your 25-page seminar paper won’t kill you, neglecting to really take care of yourself may knock some years off your life. We realize how important it is to invest in our bodies in multiple ways. On a typical day, we meditate/pray, throw up our hair in a high ponytail, slide on the spandex, and whip out our cutting boards; however, by the end of the day (or by 3am when we’re retyping that 25-page paper), there’s the realization that it wasn’t our pearls, nerdy glasses, honeycomb hats, or frankincense oil that got us through the day—it was the time we took to invest in ourselves from the inside out.

So, today, that’s all we ask. Invest in yourself from the inside out. Tell yourself that looking and feeling good does not start with that Satin Rebel lipstick; every kiss begins with green—okay, that didn’t work? Anyway, guzzle down a green smoothie, and take care of everything else when you’re done (or while green smoothies are so cool that you can drink them on the go)!

Want to feel better, too? (Because we know you already look good!) Here are some of our favorite recipes:

 

Aisha’s Green Smoothie aka Almost Everything Green Smoothie:

1 ½ cups of coconut milk (or rice, or almond milk)

½ cups kale (or chard – I mix it up)

1 handful of spinach

¾ cup strawberries

½ a kiwi

Half of a cucumber

1 granny smith apple

1 Tablespoon of rice protein

1 Tablespoon of ground flax seed

Aisha prefers to add the ingredients to the blender in this order, blending after each new addition: milk and leafy greens, apples and strawberries, cucumber and kiwi, flax seed and protein.

 

Simone’s Green Smoothie aka Excuse Me While I Make My Green Smoothie Blue-Green Smoothie:

1 ½ cups of coconut water

1 tbs. of spirulina

2 frozen banana

1 tbs. of carob powder

2 tbs. of almond butter

3 tbs. of raw honey

1 granny smith apply

1 tbs. of flax seed oil

¾ cups of strawberries

A pinch of Himalayan pink salt

Simone prefers to add the coconut water first, throw everything else into the blender, and then blend until it’s pretty.

Many sources like Hey Fran Hey, and Simple Green Smoothies offer inspiration and recipes for cleaner eating through drinking green smoothies. A concern a lot of people have with the smoothie life is wasting their fruits and vegetables. A solution for this is to freeze all of the ingredients for your green smoothies in quart size freezer bags with the ingredients in the order they will be added to the blender. Freezing the ingredients saves a lot of prep time, and makes the smoothies cold and delicious. We usually put our shakes in a Blender Bottle or Mason jar, and carry it with us to campus! Since it’s frozen, it stays cold for hours.

Happy (green) eating!  *sips*

 

AISHA_BLOG[PHOTO]Aisha Upton is a first 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.

 

Simonepic2Simone 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.

 

Be sure to continue following Aisha + Simone’s unique take on Life + Style and the importance of letting who you are shine through when defining your personal style.

 

Copyright for PHOENIX SHINE

© The Phoenix Rising Collective, 2013. Please note that unauthorized use and/or duplication of any material without express and written permission from PHOENIX SHINE’S authors and/or owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the Phoenix Rising Collective and its contributing writers with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Leave a comment

7 Daily Practices to Revitalize the Mind, Body, and Soul

health_and_wellness[BlackWomen]

Peace and blessings, beloved hearts! I am feeling blessed as I put my pen to paper to share my thoughts, ideas, and experiences with you about living a healthy, wealthy life. In my previous post Health is W.E.A.L.T.H.S: Practicing Self-Care, Maintaining Wellness, I discussed the basic keys to wellness with the acronym W.E.A.L.T.H.S. (water, exercise, air, light, thinking happy thoughts, healthy foods, and sleep). Let’s further explore this concept with some holistic health tips that can be incorporated into your daily life to revitalize the mind, body and soul.

 Water Therapy: Break Fast with Water

Start your day off with water.  One to two cups of warm tea or room temperature water upon rising will cleanse the bowels, energize your body, and clear your mind.  Water enhanced with fresh lemon juice is a simple and easy body cleanser that you can drink daily to decrease mucus and stimulate the digestive system.

 exercise_blogpostExercise: Yoga Therapy – Mountain Pose

We will start off with the foundation of all standing yoga poses: The Mountain Pose.  Even though this is a simple pose, many people still lack proper alignment.  In the words of Master Hip hopper KRS-ONE, “stand upright, not uptight.” Do you stand firm through the stormy weathers of life or do you slouch and mope?

The first thing I teach my students in yoga class is how to stand. Begin by holding the intention of Ankh Udja Seneb (life, health, and prosperity). Mountain is the basic pose for alignment. From an energetic perspective, this pose activates both the root and brow chakra.

Stand with the feet hip-width apart. From the crown through the spinal cord are the points of alignment for this pose. Root yourself into the floor by engaging your feet. The four corners of the feet are grounded, use your imagination to root yourself into the earth. The weight should be evenly distributed between both feet. There is a softening at the knee (or a slight flexion of the knee), as well as a lifting of the quadriceps femoris (the thigh muscles) into the pelvis.

Slightly lift from the crown of the head, aligning it with the torso. The rib cage is knitted, or slightly drawn towards the spine, deepening respiration. The shoulder blades are relaxed after breathing up, back, and down toward the earth. The chin is parallel to the earth. The sacrum is released down. The pelvic floor is lifted and aligned with the torso and head.  The vertebral column is in its naturally curved position.  The body is now in perfect balance. Bring the hands to your heart-center and allow yourself to relax and receive the medicine from this simple pose.

breathe_blogpostAir: Breath Awareness

Bring your awareness to your breath as air flows into your body.  Breathing is your most precious possession; it is powerful and magical because it connects you to your mind and body – the conscious and unconscious.

Proper breathing nourishes your body, reduces stress (which induces relaxation), and opens the way for healing.

Place the hands gently over the naval area.  As you breathe in, allow your belly to expand, and while breathing in, the belly goes in. Feel the movement of your hands as you breathe in and out, slow and deep, expanding and contracting. As you breathe correctly, notice the stillness of your thoughts and the awareness of the life force energy that flows through you completely.

Continue inhaling and exhaling, deep and slow, and with calm and ease – no pressure or control, just awareness.  Allow each breath to bring you to the present moment.  Fill your belly and lungs with your healing breath. Imagine the breath flowing in and out of your body as a shimmery electronic healing presence. Consciously send breath to those parts of you that may be in need of healing.

light_blogpostLight: Vitamin D

The best form of light besides lightness of the heart is soaking in rays from our shining star, the Sun. According to the Vegetarian Cooking School Cookbook by Danny & Charise Vierra, “Every living thing in our world is dependent on sunlight. Without sunlight nothing would live.”

The following discoveries show the benefits derived from the sun:

  1. It lowers blood sugar and blood pressure.
  2. It lowers cholesterol by converting it to vitamin D.
  3. It utilizes calcium and phosphorus.
  4. It increases red and white blood cells.
  5. It strengthens the immune system.
  6. It calms the nerves and increases adrenaline.
  7. It destroys germs on the skin and reverses jaundice.
  8. It increases circulation.
  9. It helps eliminate pesticides and other chemicals from the system.

 

Sunlight is by far the best form of Vitamin D you can receive. Any opportunity that you get to bask in the sun, please do. Small amounts of vitamin D are said to be in dandelion greens, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, vegetable oils, and herbs such as alfalfa, horsetail, nettle, and parsley.

For those of you who may be concerned about sunburn, take a look at this recipe for natural sunscreen.

Ingredients:

 Thinking Happy Thoughts

Negative thinking leads to negative living. We’ve heard this many times, but repetition is the best teacher, so I will say it again, “Thoughts are power.” How you decide to wield this power is up to you. There is a stream of well being that flows, and positive thinking puts you in alignment with this stream, so focus your attention on what brings joy and you will experience more joy.

Affirmation: Consistent adherence to the laws of health are absolutely necessary for spiritual development and success in life. Every cell in my body knows how to be well.

healthy_foods_blogpostHealthy Food: Immune Builders

A few of the best foods to consume to prevent colds and to nourish and protect the body during the harsh winter months are: spirulina, blackstrap molasses, ginger, apples, lemon and other citrus fruits, apples, raw greens (kale, spinach, baby greens), steel cut oatmeal, cayenne, onions, garlic, quinoa. Prepave your way to a healthier lifestyle with high quality organic or sustainably grown fruits & vegetables. Check out Circle 77 for more details on my non-profit organization’s food buying club.

Sleep

Many people are suffering from lack of sleep. Sleep is the greatest rejuvenator! It restores strength to your muscles, nerves, and brain. During sleep the body repairs, re-energizes, and prepares for renewed activity. One hour of sleep before midnight is equal to two hours of sleep after midnight, so make an effort to go to bed before 10 o’clock.

Peaks in melatonin, the body’s natural healing hormone, take place between hours nine and 12PM. If you suffer from insomnia, a soothing salt bath, relaxing stretches, and prayer or meditation can help you. Lastly, eat before sunset so that your body will have time for food digestion, and to prevent interference with your sleep.  Sweet Dreams!

systar_roni_ausetSystar Roni Auset is a licensed yoga instructor, healthy living practitioner, holistic educator, and master joyologist! 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.