The Phoenix Rising Collective

Inspiring Women to be Self-Love in Action


Leave a comment

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.

Join the Collective on Facebook and Instagram.


3 Comments

Acceptance is Healing and Absolutely Necessary for Personal Change

acceptancethe-phoenix-rising-collective

What experiences and/or circumstances do you need to accept so real, transformative change can occur in your life?

Your affirmation:

I accept______________________in my life and trust that all will be well. I give myself permission to let go.

Conscious acknowledgement of whatever it is, says that you’re ready to move forward; in fact, the affirmation is the start of your shift. If you need an example, let the shift in one season to another be your guide. It’s the end of summer; you can definitely feel a little bit of fall in the air and the pull to prepare for it. It’s all a part of the process of renewal.

Like nature, you cannot be stagnant, and this is where acceptance is crucial and absolutely necessary. Yes, it is difficult sometimes (I’ll be the first to admit I have a hard time in this area) but when you do, it brings healing, peace of mind and an opportunity to receive something new, something better, something you didn’t even know you needed. However, you cannot receive that “something” if you’re not willing to trust the process.

There’s a beautiful quote by Kris Carr that I refer to when I’m having difficulty accepting an experience or circumstance in my life: “When we truly embrace acceptance, that’s when our body exhales and can begin healing.” I’ll add that the mind and soul take a big sigh of relief, too. They, in unison, say, “Thank you.” So, take some time during this transition in seasons to really meditate on the question above and be intentional about the actions you’ll take to get there.

Accept, let go and make room for change. Remember, exhale. Be self-love in action.

 


Ayanna_Jordan[The Phoenix Rising Collective]1Ayanna Jordan is founder of 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.

Let’s stay connected. Join our social community on Facebook and Instagram.

 


1 Comment

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

IMG_20160811_171415-1

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 Roxie:

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

Above all, loving myself has always and will always be a journey and not a destination. It takes many shapes and forms and shifts with the fluidity of my identity and my daily life. Loving myself means actively working to create peace in the battlefield that is my body vs. the societal expectations of that body as a fat person, as a woman, as a person with a disability etc. Loving myself can mean being unapologetically vain, loud, strong, defiant or any other number of things that I am told that I cannot be. It means empowering myself and empowering others through whatever means necessary. It means engaging in activities that bring me peace and joy. It means decorating my body with whatever clothing, make-up, accessories, body hair, color, pattern, tattoos, piercings or lack thereof, that I choose for no other reason than it appeals to my aesthetic. Loving myself, truly loving myself, has been consistently making space for my truth to not only exist but to thrive and in those moments of truly loving myself, inspire others to do the same.

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

I would have to say that this journey began when I read a book called Fat!So? by Marilyn Wann. It was the first time in my life that I had ever considered that my body wasn’t disgusting, but that I could actually come to accept it, maybe even love it. It all seemed far too radical for a girl who had been in and out of recovery for a pretty severe eating disorder, but I was always radical in my defiance and decided to give it a shot. Self-love for me started with affirmations that grew more and more difficult. I began with things I already liked, “Roxie, you have beautiful eyes,” and moved up to the much more complex, “Roxie, you have beautiful thighs!” In a time when I hated myself, this was radical self-love. As I’ve grown, I understand self-love to mean caring for myself in ways that make me feel extraordinary, and I think these vary from person to person. I have always been really into fashion, and I mean hair, makeup, accessories, the total look. So I started dolling myself up for selfies and posting them online, which nourishes and embraces my femininity. In the last few years, I have worked on doing what is healthy for my body including weight lifting, endurance training, and eating a very healthy nutritionist-approved diet. Most importantly, I embraced my body and the word fat and incorporated it into my activism work. It’s really powerful for me as a fat woman to show up in spaces I’ve been told aren’t for me. I go to the gym and dance on the treadmill, I hang by the pool in my bikini, and I go to the mall in a crop top. I do all of these things knowing my own worth, beauty, and ownership of identity and hoping that we can change the societal expectations placed on women to look or exist in one certain way.

Roxie 2

“I embraced my body and the word fat and incorporated it into my activism work.”

Now, being radical and out there as an activist can be as draining as it is invigorating. So, for me, self-care also has a calm and peaceful side. This connects me to the purest part of myself. Primarily, this is manifested through my spirituality which takes on two key roles: introspection and compassion. In order for me to experience continued growth, I engage in meditation/prayer, drumming, and dance. These activities turn my focus inward and upward. They provide spiritual nutrition and help to guide my compass. In order for me to feel accomplished in my sense of spiritual purpose, I live in active compassion. My mother used to say, “Blessing people makes me feel blessed.” I have found that this is so very true. I find joy in sending cards and gifts to friends, in greeting strangers, in comforting those around me, and in anonymous acts of love and sharing. I also care for others and myself by being a big old clown! I love to laugh, and not a little chuckle. I love to laugh until there are tears rolling down my face and I start laughing at how funny it is to laugh so hard. So, I commonly make jokes and perform with improv troupes.  Caring for others, for me, is a form of self-care, and what better care exists in the world than laughter, love, and smiles.

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

Throughout my life, I have faced a lot of obstacles that affected my view of myself. From growing up in extreme poverty to struggling with a debilitating medical condition. However, when it comes to barriers to my own self-love, the strongest opponent I ever faced was the echoes of psychological and emotional abuse that I endured from family, peers, and partners. I was bullied for being different at a very early age. I was too large, too ginger, too loud, too eccentric, too much everything. I remember a distinct conversation that I had with my mother after a particularly bad day of bullying around grade 5. I was crying until I began to hyperventilate, and I asked her why this kept happening to me. She told me that she didn’t know, but it had to be something that I did otherwise the kids wouldn’t tease me everywhere we went. This one thought–that it was something I must be doing–haunted me for most of my life. In all honesty, on my lowest days it’s still the thought that creeps in. “Roxie, there is something wrong with you.”

Going into high school, this underlying fear kept me from engaging with most people. In college, it attracted me to the wrong person and I spent years in love with someone who regularly reminded me that I was “too much.” That relationship ultimately ended with the harshest words anyone ever said to me, “It shouldn’t be this hard to love someone.” At that moment, something changed in me. He was right, it shouldn’t be this hard to love someone, however, he was wrong about what needed changing. I needed to stop making it so hard to love myself. I needed to get out of my head and into my life.

With fear and trepidation, I stepped and misstepped into a new adventurous journey and into who I was and what I wanted out of life. I learned to stop apologizing for laughing “too loud.” I gave myself permission to not do my hair and makeup in order to earn the right to run to the grocery store. I told myself it’s okay to cry. I stopped being too much for myself, and eased into my enoughness. At the end of the day, I wasn’t the problem. I was never “too much.” I was just the right amount of sassy, bubbly, funky, groovy, silly, loveable, compassionate, and kind. I was the perfect blend of me to fill the one-of-a-kind lifetime role of Roxie. With that knowledge, existing wasn’t something hard at all, in fact sometimes it’s downright effortless.

What have you learned from self-love?

The most important thing that I have learned through self-care is that I don’t owe anybody anything. It’s so simple and yet so complex, but that’s the bottom line: As a human being I do not owe anybody anything. This empowers me for two reasons: 1) I no longer feel the obligation to be attractive, or the smartest person in the room, or to have the best house on the block. I’m not bound by those perceived societal expectations. 2) (The second reason is my favorite!) It makes everything I choose to do that much more special and loving. I choose to apply my make up because it feels smooth on my skin and I love to watch how all the colors dance and blend in the light. I choose my clothing based on what feels good and will bring me joy. I choose to be nurturing to my partner, not because I am feminine, but because I love him so much. When we take away all of the social clutter, and allow ourselves to exist, we have the choices to achieve true greatness. We become the people we are meant to be.

_______

Share your thoughts about Roxie’s courageous self-love story in the comments. And, to get more inspiration from Roxie, connect with her on Instagram @lilfoxieroxie.

 


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.

Join the Collective on Facebook and Instagram.


1 Comment

4 Affirmations You Need to Know and Lessons to Learn from Octavia Butler

Affirmations to Know[The PRC]

Take a deep breath. Exhale. It’s the start of a new week! Don’t judge what you’ve done thus far or what you have to do. Just express gratitude, and keep in mind that your thoughts and words are shaping your reality. Celebrate your progress and believe that where you are now is not where you’ll always be. Affirm it and keep moving forward.

I was reminded of just how powerful we are when it comes to manifesting the lives we want to have after reading the Huntington Library’s blog post Celebrating Octavia Butler. “The Huntington became the recipient of her papers, which arrived in 2008 in two four-drawer file cabinets and about 35 large cartons. Butler’s papers required intense processing over the next three years. “She kept nearly everything, from her very first short stories, written at the age of 12, to book contracts and programs from speaking engagements,” says Natalie Russell, assistant curator of literary manuscripts at The Huntington.”

You know what else was among those four-drawer file cabinets and cartons? Affirmations – Octavia’s hand written notes of encouragement to herself! The library found these empowering words below that the literary legend wrote on the inside cover of her notebook in 1988:

oeb-3

Octavia E. Butler papers, The Huntington Library

I have always loved Octavia Butler’s books. In fact, I was hooked after my first time reading Kindred in a women’s studies class many years ago, but after seeing this notebook and reading her process for self-motivation and actualization I am even more captivated by her talent and belief in herself.

This is a lesson to all of us from someone who understood how sacred words are, particularly the words we speak to ourselves; it is a lesson from a courageously powerful woman who used that knowledge to diligently shape her own experiences. May we all be empowered by Octavia’s bravery, and…

  1. Align our thoughts, words, and actions to manifest experiences that serve our highest good.
  2. Recognize the clues that tell us we’re on track.
  3. Keep and store all tangible evidence that affirms we’re on track!
  4. Create personal affirmations that support surrendering to the process and celebrate our progress.
  5. Believe in our dreams, goals, and desires, realizing the support we’re seeking to fulfill them starts with us.

Challenge: This week start your day reciting at least one of the four affirmations posted here or write your own. Select or create one that genuinely applies to you right now and make it your focus. Be conscious of your thoughts and actions throughout the day, ensuring they are in alignment. At the end of the day journal about your awareness, shifts in perception, and any tangible evidence that supports what you’re doing.

For more on how your thoughts and words impact your life check out 15 Affirmations to Inspire the Daily Practice of Self-Love.


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.

Join the Collective on Facebook and Instagram.


Leave a comment

Gratitude, Courage, and Wisdom: Your Gifts for the New Year

The Phoenix Rising Collective[Affirmation]

Think about all you’ve achieved and overcome this year. It’s amazing and so are you. Own it! Affirm it. You’re moving forward with more courage and in gratitude, using the wisdom you’ve gained from your experiences in 2015. It’s most certainly a gift!

You are self-love in action, Phoenix! 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.

Join The Phoenix Rising Collective on Facebook and Instagram.

 


2 Comments

ARTIST FEATURE: Letting Your Spirit Be Your Guide – An Interview with Dr. Joyce Piert

Artist Feature_Joyce Piert_The Phoenix Rising Collective

 

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.

This Artist Feature is Dr. Joyce Piert:

Joyce_Piert[The Phoenix Rising Collective]

“As a God-being we are creators. We create the world.” -Dr. Joyce Piert

What a difficult and easy article to write this month. Why? “Because we are of each other’s likeness,” the feature artist said to me. When you sit in the presence of your likeness sometimes you aren’t ready to see or hear a truth about yourself. Her name is Joyce Piert, affectionately known as Dr. P in the community in which she resides. I have spent some time with Dr. P this past summer, and the experience has been extraordinary. I begin by defining her as Limitless. Energetic. Overabundant. Infectious. All-empowering. Encompassing. Divine. Imagine being surrounded by this sort of energy: Pretty powerful!

We begin with age because she says it’s a vulnerable subject for her. She explained, “Society has predetermined that there’s a certain experience you begin to have at different ages.” We are constantly reminded of these expectations that shape our identity. Dr. P continuously destroys these societal expectations. Having been on earth for almost six decades, she has honed in on tackling the spirit of age in the body in which she dwells. “I feel a societal pull that says you should have 50 bottles of medication, concerned about your health, less active when you pass the half-century milestone. There’s all these expectations that aren’t healthy and wholesome, because it’s the downward pull that attempts to speak to me versus the upward mobility that I wish to actually live.” This vibrant woman is of many ages. At one point she mentioned being 35, 18 and 5. She had me recall what those ages were like. There’s a vitality and youthful glow surrounding our existential being. This is attributed to the innocence of our youth. She talked about experiencing a spiritual rebirth. “We tend to separate this spirituality from this creative way of living. But it’s only in spirituality that we can create. As a God-being we are creators. We create the world.” As children, we develop those skills to create. Moreover, the wonderment to creating is limitless in a child’s mind. Have you ever seen a child that wants to touch everything, go everywhere and say as much as possible in whatever language befitting to that child? Yes, that’s Dr. P.

She Shares Her Story: Mapping the Spiritual Evolution

I was in class talking to students and I said, “What is it you are passionate about?” They turned it around by asking me, “What is it Dr. P that you are passionate about?” And I said, “I create masterpieces. My masterpieces are people.” Once I assist people in finding out what they are passionate about then I assist them in that creation so they can create their own masterpieces. She gave an example. She referred to one person being a diamond hidden among rubble. It’s easy to discard gems that don’t look the part from first or second glance, which is why, she explained, it takes a trained-spiritual eye. This instance led to her sharing her journey as an artist-writer, educator, masterpiece creator and so much more.

I grew up in the civil rights era. It was in the 1970s when the Black Muslims opened a school and I taught 2nd and 3rd grade. I was 17 years old. I actually became a Black Muslim at age 12. I was considered the revolutionary in the family. At 14 or 15 I was a squad leader meaning I was a leader over a group of Muslim women. During this time I was being mentored to lead others who were older than I. At 17, I started teaching in our school and two years later I was married. The philosophy I lived by was Black Nationalism. It was being fused into my being daily. In my mid-20s Elijah Muhammad died and a transition occurred. I started to work in a factory and my views began shifting.

IMG_2224

In my 30s I became Christian. I believe this was evolution. I was at a point in my life where I wanted something else and my attachment to Islam was diluted. There was a call in my soul for something, and people started showing up and coming into my life. But I was too radical for the church. For instance, I ended up being put out of two different churches because of my radicalism or energetic spirit. Bottom line, I had a strong spiritual connection through unction. I spoke aloud in the spirit and this made others uncomfortable or at least they felt I was disrespectful. My understanding was that I let my spirit speak. However, the two churches thought it was out-of-order. Interestingly enough, I was asked to come back to the churches – even to teach a class. There was a lot of growth and discomfort in this realization.

As I progressed and developed, my relationship with the Creator strengthened. I learned that the church was not the key to my direct connection to my Higher Power. My church was without walls. So, at this time, I am working at General Motors as an electrician and I recall through prayer I was told to quit my job at GM and return to school. I did and pursued education. During this period, I also had two children in high school. My children had always struggled in a traditional public school, although they were in a two-parent home, middle working class community, with everything being copacetic. Something wasn’t right, though. The other kids around them were struggling as well. I started volunteering at the school. As a volunteer I saw students get D’s and E’s, and I wept, because I was wondering how were they going to get into college with these grades. So I returned to my roots – “self determination.” I knew if this work was going to get done, I had to be the one to step in to help and do it. Also during this time I divorced after 21 years of marriage.

Once I got my bachelors I started a summer program that ran for 5 years. It featured language arts, mathematics, and African American studies. Then I remarried and moved to Shreveport, Louisiana and pursued my masters. These studies focused on charter schools. Soon after I returned to Michigan State University for Education Administration; that’s when a book idea came to me.

So here I am in my Ph.D. at Michigan State. I started to look at identity and who we are as Black people. My research looked at African American experiences in an African American centered based school model. In my research I wanted to find out if it was worth using this model. Over the years the research and application shaped this book I published June 2015: Alchemy of the Soul: An African Centered Education

I asked what present space she is in. She responded: I started this school, I AM Institute for Learning. It wound up being a school focused on consciousness and metaphysics. I had no idea what it would become. I simply listened to spirit. And it became a school that evolved as I evolved. It was reflective of my own spiritual journey. The people around me that joined me in shaping this school were playmates. They were having the same experiences I was. And they all found me. They evolved and are evolving at their own rate. Unlike traditional schools, there is no requirement or grade level, and there is no assessment. Wherever you are is where you are supposed to be.

____________________

I end the way I began; the challenge and ease in writing this article is linked to the question I asked her – “Why do you think we were drawn together?” This question is important, because I do feel like I am in a turning point in my life and it appears Dr. P stepped into my world very intentionally in a head-strong/heart-strong way. She said, “I called you forth and you came as a playmate. You agreed to come and play.” She’s right. I am in that playful phase in life. I have been serious for so long. I followed rules to a tee, even if the rules made no sense for or to me. There’s nothing to regret in my journey, even if there are moments I choose not to revisit. But Dr. P shows me that there really isn’t much to fear except fear itself. And that sort of phobia is frightening – the idea that fear simply shows up and hovers over your thoughts and abilities! She repeatedly says to me, “Stop overthinking. Stop. Stop. Stop. PLAY! Be passionate in your playing. Play and watch the world play with you.” Oh how I love to play in the world of ART. Because when I play I am at the height of my game – Unstoppable. Energetic. Limitless. Overabundant. Divine. It’s time to PLAY BALL!

 


 

About the Contributing Writer:

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 young women reach their highest potential.  “This organization 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.” Check out more of her posts.