The Phoenix Rising Collective

Inspiring Women. Empowering Change.


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

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

It means taking the time to provide myself with what I need to be my best mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

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

The primary ways I demonstrate self care are starting my day with prayer and reading the bible, yoga, and a cup of tea. It also means taking time to truly listen to my body and give it what it needs. For example,  some days my body won’t practice a preset yoga routine, so I go with the flow.

It is also important for me to eat properly. When making decisions about what to eat, I often ask myself, “How is this going to make me feel in an hour? Energized? Sluggish? Tired?” Live foods literally give me life, so I do my best to start each day with a smoothie containing fruits, veggies, and plant based protein like hemp.

Another way I take care of myself is by being spiritually sound; I am active in church, but more importantly, I have a personal relationship with God. Daily affirmations are also a key part of keeping me focused on self-love and my goals.

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

Self love wasn’t always easy for me. I’ve had to overcome a poor self image, low confidence, and fear. I’ve had trouble loving myself and receiving love from others. Assuming that people would deem me unworthy and walk away, I kept them at a distance. Overcoming these obstacles didn’t happen over night. It took years. I started with refocusing my thoughts; then I moved on to choosing my words carefully. I am the first person to hear my words, and it is my voice I will trust the most on a subconscious level, so I began speaking life, even when I didn’t believe it.

What have you learned from self-love?

I have learned that the journey itself is to be appreciated. I don’t believe there is a “destination” because I am always growing and learning new things about myself every day. If I focus on the “destination” of self love, I’ll miss all the beautiful transformations that happen along the way.


Love Yourself First! Friday. Phenomenal women who fiercely and unapologetically demonstrate self-love in action share their stories – powerful, honest, heartfelt stories that shed light on diverse ways to make self care, healing and whole living daily priorities.

Join the tribe! Share your 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.

Join the Collective on Facebook and Instagram


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

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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.


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

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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.

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“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.

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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.


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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.

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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.

Join the Collective on Facebook and Instagram.

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

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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 Lilac:

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

I love myself by practicing forgiveness towards myself on a daily basis. Life is so demanding, and we all have our goals we want to achieve, things we need to get done. I have the tendency to be hard on myself, which is not always a bad thing, until it goes out of balance. I have realized I take so much joy in being active and on-the-go, to the point where I can carry the world on my shoulders and just keep pushing, forgetting my well-being in the process. I am very driven by passion but I think still, at times, there is some perfectionism and fear involved, which can then easily make me ill if I don’t stop and listen. The love I practice for myself is through tuning back in, and listening to my mind and my body.

Self-love is also practiced through sharing my struggles with others, instead of trying to prove I can do it all by myself. I know if I forget, they can quickly remind me and help me get back on track.

IMG_0430What actions demonstrate the self-care you provide to your mind, body and soul?

A 30-minute daily morning session of meditation and yoga really helps in listening, focusing and maintaining balance. I have also learned to accept those days when I feel like I just can’t get anything done, so instead of battling it and getting even more frustrated – I just take the day off and go outside, watch some telly or cook something. I absolutely love cooking great healthy recipes with my partner; eating healthy is so gratifying. Friday is my Spa Day. I do yoga, Pilates, and then a spa session of steam room and Jacuzzi. It brings me back to life.

At times of need I am loving myself by creating change in my life and opening new doors of possibility through therapy sessions, guided imagery and holistic therapy. I have recently started a free Sunday meditation group, and I find the collective energy of people meditating together and sharing experiences, unique, powerful and even healing.

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

My childhood was immersed in trauma of different sorts and that has put me on a long path of self-abuse through different eating disorders and over exercising. These also led to other physical issues such as IBS, lower back pain, torn knee meniscus and arm tendonitis. I have had to undergo different types of therapy and treatments over the years to help re-shape my core of self and learn to forgive the past and move on from it as a stronger human being who is compassionate and accepting towards herself and others. Throughout my life, music has been a core strength in this process: writing, composing, playing, singing, performing. It’s given me an identity and a sense of self. I am still learning how to enjoy the healing power of music without focusing on material success.

What have you learned from self-love?

Self-love teaches me something new every day, in learning to accept others and myself. It has taught me to look at myself first – for better AND for worst. The love starts from within, and if I want my surroundings to change, I first have to change my own perception, behavior and patterns. Self-love has taught me to tune-in closely on judgment, and realize that the things I dislike about myself – will be quickly reflected back to me through others. I have even learned self-love and inner peace from my cat, who easily shows me how life can be joyful and relaxed when you can give and receive unconditional love. By learning to love myself, I can completely change the way I view the world every day, which eventually results in a better world for myself. Because I deserve it.

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Lilac Sheer is a singer/songwriter; learn more here. Her new project Zoe, is a music video created to promote women’s self love and acceptance for International Women’s Day 2016. “The song refers to those days when we don’t love the reflection in the mirror, only to realize that our imperfections are exactly what make each of us unique. 40 courageous women chose to take part in this project with me, to help create a heartfelt human testimony, for which I am both humbled and grateful.” Check out the video.

 


Share your self-love story! Send an email HERE. Put “My LYFF Story” in the subject line, and you’ll be contacted by the Phoenix Team with details on how to participate.

Love Yourself First! Friday is a self-love series created by The Phoenix Rising Collective. Phenomenal women who fiercely demonstrate self-love in action in order to build and sustain healthy, positive self esteem share their stories‬.  Be sure to read some of our other inspiring stories.

Join the Collective on Facebook and Instagram.


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

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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 Cholia:

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

“Love yourself first” means choosing and loving myself first in the areas that matter most. That goes for areas of my life financially, and also time/energy, love, and commitments. For example, I used to be the woman that would spend her last dollar on a friend or significant other, but then that would mean I wouldn’t be able to eat well that week because I gave away the disposable money I did have. That’s not self-love or loving myself first in the areas that matter most.

You can’t just give, give, give and think that the universe is going to take care of you because of your benevolence. That’s not law of attraction and it’s certainly not healthy for your well-being.

You’re no good to anyone if you don’t make loving who you are your highest priority. It’s when you do, that the world starts taking you more seriously.

It respects you. You start getting back what you’re giving. I think that’s amazing self-love and care.

Sadly, too many women, especially women of color subject themselves to martyrdom and abandon loving themselves first. As a result, I think its really killing us softly. We end up carrying around emotional wounds because we feel unloved, unappreciated, and overlooked in spite of all the giving to others.

I know that as a health coach I really work to bring home how important it is to love yourself first when I work with women. You can’t begin to live your best life if you are abandoning yourself and not making self-love your primary concern. Self-love is self-preservation.

"I’ve been a long-distance runner for 23 years now and it is absolutely my meditation."

“I’ve been a long-distance runner for 23 years now and it is absolutely my meditation.” -Cholia, LYFF Feature

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

Without a doubt my number one self-care practice is cooking and eating healthy soul food. The actual act of cooking awakens my creativity, and having daily balanced nutrition of course leads to a healthier me on all levels.

Right behind cooking and eating healthy is running. I’ve been a long-distance runner for 23 years now and it is absolutely my meditation. I solve all of my toughest challenges and problems while I am running.

I also journal like crazy. Writing is another form of meditation for me. I was a freelance writer for a long time and it’s something that I truly love to do (accept the sitting down for long periods of time, because I LOVE being on my feet).

And last but not least, I do practice yoga. I love Bikram hot yoga, mainly because it helps me with mindfulness and increases my mental strength.

For me, they all lead to having a better understanding of and foundation for self-love and self-care.

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

There are actually two obstacles that I’ve overcome that have helped me have a deeper love for who I am.

First, I endured two unhealthy relationships that ended in betrayal which I believed were going to lead to “happily ever after” at the time, over the past two years.

Second, I lost my Mom a few years ago to a rare disease. She never really took the time to put herself first. She was a martyr and as much as that’s often deemed heroic, that can’t be all that you are when it comes to navigating through life.

Those two incidents the past three years have culminated in realizing that you have to always be yourself. In the moments when you’re not, and you don’t show up, so to speak, are the times when people enter your life that are not going to respect and love you. Being yourself, versus the version of who you think they will fall in love with, is the most selfless thing you can do.

When you deny yourself slow-down moments, alone-time days, solo vacations, and also neglect exploring your passions, all because you think you have to take care of everyone else, you will truly consume your spirit adversely.

That’s a toxic way to live. I am a firm believer that our emotions are also tied to our physical health.

By trying to live holistically, knowing that body, mind, and spirit are one, I am finally swimming in an ocean of self-love.

What have you learned from self-love?

I have learned that self-love also consists of self-forgiveness, self-respect, and self-compassion. They all work in concert with the other.

For a long time, I thought I was practicing self-love, but I was neglecting the respect, compassion, and forgiveness. You have to achieve a balance of them all to really receive the fruits from the labor of self-love.

The best thing I did, last year after encountering heartache too many times, feeling stuck, and sabotaging my dreams, was get a life coach. Well, we actually traded services, I am getting her healthier as a health coach, and she’s getting me stronger spiritually and mentally.

I think taking steps like that are also acts of self-love “in action” and totally worth the investment of your time, money, and energy.

 

Cholia is the creator of Kick Start Your Health Today and also the health + wellness contributor for The Phoenix Rising Collective.


Share your self-love story! Send an email HERE. Put “My LYFF Story” in the subject line, and you’ll be contacted by the Phoenix Team with details on how to participate.

Love Yourself First! Friday is a self-love series created by The Phoenix Rising Collective. Phenomenal women who fiercely demonstrate self-love in action in order to build and sustain healthy, positive self esteem share their stories‬.  Be sure to read some of our other inspiring stories.

Join the Collective on Facebook and Instagram.


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It’s Love Yourself First! Friday – This Phoenix is Stephanie

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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 Stephanie:

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

I love myself first in a number of ways, some more tangible than others. The most important thing I can do that demonstrates self-love is to do simply that: love myself. I do not accept negativity from others about me or my body, and as such I will not accept that from me. It is easy to pick apart all the parts of me that may not fit into a perfectly compartmentalized ideal, but I choose to instead love me in the most basic way.

Loving myself does not mean that I must act selfishly or put my wants above the needs of everyone else. Instead, I prefer to think of it as fulfilling my most basic needs in order to be the best possible version of me so that I may help others.

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

In addition to the care I take with myself mentally, I demonstrate self-care through running and eating a diet high in protein and healthy fats. I also cut out soda, preferring to have it as a treat. When I run, I am able to push my body to do something I never thought it could and that makes me proud. Running, however, has become more than just miles to me. When I am out on a run I can clear my mind of all the rubbish that can build up – the day-to-day stress of life. It is easy to think during the hour or so I am running that I could instead be spending that time doing work or playing with my children. I find that it is important to think of running as an insurance policy that I will be able to experience a full life with my children in the future. It insures that I have an outlet for me personally, and thus I am better able to handle what is thrown at me. Most importantly, perhaps, is that when I take time to show my children that I am a person and am allowed to take care of me, too, I am providing them with a model that they should also treat their own minds and bodies with respect.

FB_IMG_1452719523843Is there an obstacle or challenge you’ve overcome that led to a deeper love for who you are?

I live in a culture that frequently equates self-worth to a number on a scale, and I was not immune. I grew up very much obsessed with those numbers. I was always different than the other girls, taller or more developed at a younger age so it was very hard for me. As I grew, the same insecurities I had grew with me and compounded. However, when I found out I would be a mother that really changed. I learned to love my body and realized what it could do. After my first son was born, and I struggled at first to breastfeed him, I never once doubted my body’s ability to do what I knew it could. The thought occurred to me that I should feel like that about all aspects of my body. I figured that if I had brought a nearly ten-pound person into this world and fed him from my body, I was a rock star.

When the time came for the birth of my second son, I knew what I was capable of and chose to have him naturally. With his birth I was hit with even more love for my family, but also for me. I knew then that I was capable of so much more. After his birth, I promised myself I would not speak negatively of myself. I didn’t want my children to grow up thinking it was normal to belittle oneself, and from there the rest fell in place. I learned that self-love starts from within. Once I started to love me, really and truly, I wanted to show my body the love it deserved. I started running, which led to want to fuel myself properly. The numbers on the scale occasionally change, but I am not defined by them, and for that I am grateful.

What have you learned from self-love?

I have learned through the ongoing process of self-love that my personal self-worth is not contingent upon the thoughts or opinions of anyone else. What matters is that when I look in the mirror I am happy with what I see. I have learned that what I say has value, and I am learning to speak up more often because I am a strong, loving, educated woman. Finally, I have learned that growth is an ongoing process. I am growing every day. I learn every day.

 


Share your self-love story! Send an email HERE. Put “My LYFF Story” in the subject line, and you’ll be contacted by the Phoenix Team with details on how to participate.

Love Yourself First! Friday is a self-love series created by The Phoenix Rising Collective. Phenomenal women who fiercely demonstrate self-love in action in order to build and sustain healthy, positive self esteem share their stories‬.  Be sure to read some of our other inspiring stories.

Join the Collective on Facebook and Instagram.