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

kadijahlyff

Love Yourself First! Friday invites 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 Kadijah:

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

I love myself first by being organized in my day-to-day activities. Once I am organized, I can consciously take into account setting aside some quiet time. It does not mean I need to leave the house, but it does mean up to two hours (at minimum) each week I will self-reflect. Getting up fifteen minutes earlier in the morning just so I can have a cup of coffee in silence. I reflect on my accomplishments thus far and what I would still like to achieve in my life.

As a single mother of two girls, finding those few moments for myself is not always easy, but it is necessary for my well-being. At times, when I need a bit of a boost I’ve placed notes on the bathroom mirror reminding myself I am just as worthy of receiving the love that I exude to my children and others on a daily basis. I build in time at least once a month to have fun with friends.

Loving myself means knowing my worth, understanding my limitations and pushing myself to move past them. Loving myself is having the confidence to keep fighting even when others doubt my abilities, proving to myself that I am a strong body, strong minded, and strong willed individual.

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

Self-reflection is key for my self-care, taking time to look at my life as it stands and having confidence that further greatness is to come. When feeling frustrated, I leave the house to jog for a while; I also like to find a good book that will allow me to escape from reality and find solitude in someone else’s story. Finally, I pray and have faith that God will only put in front of me the challenges that He knows I can get through.

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

I am currently 41 years old. Twenty-four of those years were spent with my now ex-husband dealing with various levels of mental, physical, and sexual abuse. For many of those years I lived on hope, the hope that our relationship would reach the level of love and respect that I craved. Not only did we never achieve that, it became more and more toxic over the years. Finally, I had to face the reality that I was not living, but just “surviving.” I put his needs and wants above mine. I forgot to love myself. Instead, I tried unsuccessfully to be the person that he wanted me to be in hopes that my life with him would improve. Two children and 24 years later, nothing was better. I did in fact, learn how to hide my unhappiness and bruising from everyone – including my family and friends.

I had a feeling of hopelessness, and I gave up thinking I could be anything other than the abused wife and mother of our children. When faced with so much violence, I became numb and emotionless. I ended up losing myself. I no longer knew my likes and dislikes. I went into survival mode just to save myself and my children from harm. I wanted out but didn’t know how to go about doing it. Finally, I gave up on the hope that things would improve with my husband and started the journey toward divorce. He knew he was no longer in control, so things exacerbated to a level that gave me no choice but to remove my children and I from his hold. It has been a long process, but one with many tears of joy instead of sadness. My husband is incarcerated for the abuse and we are now divorced.

My children and I have finally reached a point of happiness; happiness and freedom are feelings that I never thought I would obtain.

What have you learned from self-love?

Self-love has taught me to consistently evaluate what makes me happy, making sure the goals I have set for my life are truly my goals and not what is expected of me by others. Self-love is having a free body and mind to do whatever I want. No longer will I allow others to control my feelings and desires. Self-love is when I see the smiles on my children’s faces, confirming that I am finally loving myself and doing what is right for my family. When people ask me how I am doing, my response is “Living and loving life.”

Inspired by Kadijah’s powerful LYFF story? Well, let her know in the comments.


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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ARTIST FEATURE: Blooming Where You Are Planted – An Interview with Gale Glover

Gale Glover Artist Feature[The Phoenix Rising Collective]

This is a story about a woman who might not call herself an artist in the same way others have claimed their inner artistry from childhood. She did not grow up dreaming of being a children’s book author. She did not necessarily feel the calling in her life to write until her hands couldn’t write anymore. However, her work ethic was cultivated from a young age. She learned about perseverance and determination early.

Gale Glover is from Flint, Michigan. Flint has this wonderful reputation for teaching people how to fight for what they want, because Flint is not an easy city. It does not carry the white picket fence label. Although people can build a white picket fence, if they wish, they have to keep the fence up. They might have to change the color or paint it white every year due to environmental conditions – rough weather, rough circumstances and rough times.

Over the last few years I have watched Gale in the work environment stay late and catch up on work while also going to school, because that’s what people do when they want to accomplish something specific. She explained she grew up poor in a single-parent household. One mother and no father. She started working when she was 14 years old. At age 17 she skipped school and worked three jobs. The next year she moved out of her mom’s home. A few years later she ended up in a physically and verbally abusive relationship. The details sounded like a Lifetime movie. She dealt with the stalking and hiding from someone, being beat up numerous times, and jumping off a two-story house to escape to safety. Gale explained that it is easy for people to say, “Just leave. End the relationship.” But it is not easy. In her early 20’s, when this occurred, she wasn’t aware of the available resources for battered women. She did not know about YWCA or the National Domestic Hotline. She shared that even now it is a journey, because she is still learning what it means to be in healthy viable relationships that empower her.

We talked briefly about the importance of knowing what resources are available to those who have experienced abuse. The statistics on violence against women are alarming. She told me, “It is important for kids not to go through what I went through. That is why I work so hard.” One of her goals is to write an autobiography about her experiences. “I want women to know they can survive. We are survivors. We can get through anything. Knowledge is the key. If we know the resources, then we can get help.”

It is no coincidence that her degrees are linked to her experiences. She received her degrees from University of Michigan-Flint. She triple majored and received a B.A. in Criminal Justice, Sociology and Africana Studies. She then completed a Masters in Public Administration. Presently, she is in a Post-Master’s Education Specialist Program. But her studies and experiences are more poignant. One of the key reasons for her pursuing these studies is also linked to her daughter. Gale has a maternal spirit. At one point in her life she had five children living with her (not biological). Her home was a safe space for youth to develop. One of the children is her daughter, Alicia. Due to a number of circumstances her daughter faced, Gale gained custody when Alicia was a young teenager. She shared, “When I got my daughter she was struggling through school. She had bad grades in middle and high school. In helping her excel I had to ask myself, how can I tell her to go to college if I haven’t done so myself? So because of this, I went to school. I went from being a single person with no kids to a single parent going to school full time and working full time.”

She also shared that at one point they ended up taking a class together. Excitedly, her daughter, Alicia, is graduating with her Masters in Health Education, May 2016.

All of these life experiences lead to Gale’s children’s book series. She started writing the Reach Higher Ed series in 2013. The purpose in creating the series is to educate kids through the literary arts. The books are learning tools that introduce them to higher education. She explained the series is not only for kids. It’s also for their parents.

Gale Cover

The first book introduces them to higher education and encourages them to reach for their goals. This book includes 10 tips for being successful in college. It also has a glossary of academic terms. The second book is the activity and coloring book. She is presently working on Reach Higher Ed Learning Our Degrees. This third book introduces kids to the different programs like biochemistry, astrology and astronomy, as well as professions that kids can pursue like being a teacher or doctor.

This led me to ask Gale about her own bucket list. She wants to pursue a Doctorate in Education and start her own organization to help kids reach their highest potential. Moreover, she wants to do this in Flint, Michigan. She’s a die-hard supporter and fan of her city. She is the essence of the phrase, “Bloom where you are planted.”

When I think of Gale, I think of my own dreams as a writer and traveler. I am reminded through her that it takes work. When times are rough, I have to put on thick skin and keep going. This is why I chose Gale as the feature for March, because I notice her efforts. She does her work with a smile. Between pursuing this Post-Master’s degree, she is the Administrative Assistant in the Communication and Visual Arts Department at University of Michigan-Flint; She is the Marketing Editor for Qua, the University’s literary magazine; And she is a writer. She is blossoming where she has been planted. She is the fruit of her own labor. She is Gale Glover, a work of art always progressing to the next thing to support a generation following her lead.

She is a great reminder that this is blooming season. Spring!

 

Domestic Violence Statistics:

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

National Intimate Partner and Sexual Assault Survey

Bureau of Justice Statistics Selected Finding – Female Victims of Violence

More information about assault:

RAINN

Full Report of Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women

 

The Phoenix Rising Collective’s Artist Feature, curated by Traci Currie, interviews women artists who use their talents and creativity to fully express self-love, build self-esteem, and nurture their own authenticity while inspiring others. Creative expressions may range from performing to painting to writing to travel and everything in between. Our goal is to share how these empowered women cultivate agency, healing, and happiness through fulfilling their passion.

 


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. You can learn more about Traci’s work in creative arts HERE.

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