The Phoenix Rising Collective

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We All Need Phoenixes in Our Lives

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I have chosen to share wisdom from one of my dearest and most creative soul ties, La Shaun phoenix Kotaran. I met this artist a little over a decade ago in a Detroit poetry venue. Instantly after watching La Shaun’s performance on stage I was drawn to her magic. I am not too sure how we actually exchanged information but according to her, she heard me share a poem on stage and felt a connection as well.

I am not particularly interested in detailing her life and how this Detroit artist entered the creative realm. If you Google her or listen to her music, spoken word, or read her poetry book you will become more acquainted with her identity. Because of her experiences, she has been able to speak volumes of light into my life, especially during some of my lowest moments – to name a few:

  1. When I avoided my doctor’s request to set a follow-up appointment to find out the results of an operation that would indicate whether or not I had cancer, she lit a fire under my behind to set that appointment.
  2. When I organized a Women’s Symposium and people backed out at the last minute. Without my asking, she stepped in and took over areas where I needed help the most.
  3. For my birthday when I was living abroad and I sat in this small apartment thinking I had been forgotten, she sent me a cyberspace birthday gift reminding me how much I was loved — not just by her and others — but most importantly how much I loved myself.
  4. And then there are the endless love letters that solidified this blessed affair.

My intention is to share some of the wisdom that comes from the letters she has written. They offer friendship, authenticity, forgiveness, growth, fire, and more love.

The italicized phrases help explain the context of phoenix’s responses.

Your name?

Phoenix (small ‘p’) was a name given to me by the poets in the mid to late 90s. I’m not sure of the exact date, as I’ve had the name now for as long as I can remember. One thing I can say for certain is that you have to be careful when you name a thing. I’ve literally become every facet of the name PHOENIX. I was in an abusive relationship and I used poetry therapeutically to share my story, to escape from the trauma of the relationship and then to eventually escape my abuser. The lines I weaved in those smoked-filled cafés filled with incense, cigarettes and insecurity began to really resonate with people, until they gave me my “poet name”. It never wore off in that I have lived my life as a phoenix. This includes overcoming death multiple times, reinventing myself to be as youthful as the world around me and taking on this magical/mystical appeal. Moreover, as this mythical bird that can soar at some of the highest altitudes, I find it hard to hang around folks with a pigeon mentality. I can’t be on this earthly terrain accepting any random scrap people want to give me. I was born to fly. I was born to be a big deal. I was born to be this magical, mystical, drama-filled being.  I had difficulty accepting that, but [age] 40 will make you cluck your tongue against the roof of your mouth and say, “F*** it. This is me. I’m amazing. I’m scared. I take risks.  Some of this sh** is planned. Some of it isn’t. But, for everything I am and everything I’m not, I’m completely fine with being me. I’ll do what I want. I’ll say what I want. I’ll handle the consequences either way.”

Why the arts? 

Because it was easy to set my pain to a tempo. Poetry and music became this fluid thing – like water cleansing the spirit or like being baptized.  I think art, and we chose each other. I needed an outlet [and] art needed a vessel.

A specific phase in phoenix’s life.

I think this season has been transitional for so many folks, myself included.  I’m inspired, but I’ve been mentally and creatively drained so I think I’m going through a seasonal purge/emotional cleanse.  What has been my particular lifeline in the past few weeks is waking up in the mornings and for 5-10 minutes just declaring out loud all of the stuff I’m grateful for: From life to my warm blanket to incense to the breakfast smoothie to the sun to the birds to no leg cramps to great sex the night before to a great movie to the morning drive not feeling so rushed. Every little thing I can think of to be grateful for I say it. It changes me from cranky to positive in 5-10 minutes and it’s been helping this seasonal depression.

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This was for my Spirit Space Photographic Series on Instagram. phoenix is a feature.

My philosophy is really simple.  We are 100% human and 100% divine.  We are these amazing supernatural (above the norm) beings in that we have the power to access that divinity all the time by mastering our thoughts.  Truly, as a God/Goddess thinks is their reality and everything that’s going on (or not going on) in our lives is directly related to our conscious and subconscious thoughts.  Mike Dooley, an amazing author and master of the Law of Attraction says that thoughts become things and it’s our responsibility to choose the good thoughts.  While storms may come, how we consider the storm is how we’ll respond to the storm.  How we consider joy is how we’ll respond to joy.  Even in difficult moments I’ve been working hard to make sure that I’m grateful for something everyday.  Gratefulness adds.  It multiplies.  It brings in miracles where there are seemingly none to be had.  It is a true gateway.

Letting go of stuff.

I’ve been doing a lot of pruning. I’ve asked God to show me who is supposed to be here as I transition into the next phase of my life. I’ve been carrying a lot of dead weight in relationships and have had to address a lot of things that I’ve been passive about in previous years. It’s been a process – making myself and my needs a priority. I’ve had to confront some emotionally scary situations and say, “Peace. I love you. But, the way my life is set up right now, you’re toxic and the relationship in its current state doesn’t suit me.”

Do you ever have doubts about your abilities and dreams?

Yes.  I have doubts all the time.  Am I too old, too much in my own way to be what I want – a rich and FAMOUS entertainer?  Do you hear me?  I want to be a rich and FAMOUS entertainer in the United States and in the United Kingdom.  I want to be a Cinderella story for the young and seasoned.  And that sheer desire – the clarity and honesty of it – the desire to stop hiding behind that desire and to just embrace it is my driving force.  When I put my mind on the desire to be a rich and famous singer…when I keep repeating it – I’m motivated to just do one thing towards it.  Write a song, send an email, make a connection, and pray. I keep my goal at the forefront of my mind.

I was preparing for a trip and was concerned about my purpose. She said this to me.

Let me share this, Goddess: You have seen other countries with determination and penny pinching.  You have quickened and inspired the minds of so many emerging artists while discovering who you are in the process.  You understand Universal Law, the Law of Attraction, the Law of Love.  Nothing…No THING…will be withheld from you.  Continue to dream a world.  Continue to take risks.  Put good positive energy and thoughts into the results you want and let Source Energy worry about the how’s. Make YOU a priority right now.  Your wants.  Your needs. You don’t have to stay in your lane as much as you need to make yourself a chief priority. I think that you should embrace the unknown.  It’s priming you for blessings.  You can look for cool jobs and gigs while you’re there.  The answers will come to you in the midst of the circumstance.  You’ll get to see how you survive when all of the decisions have to be made in the moment. Sometimes, we plan the sh** out of stuff, and maybe we need to get lost in the experience. Overplanning was taking the fun out of stuff for me – you know?  So, I challenge you to just embrace that you’ll be in Italy and that every decision about your next move will come.  Your spirit and body have been telling you to rest and fall in love with art again. Your first trip to Italy afforded you that.  This trip, be intentional to discover your purpose and then let God pull things into the forefront for you.

So, you can see why I love this woman so much. She is a reminder that we are advocates for each other because we believe in the extraordinary and the impossible-made-possible. We believe in growth and glory. We walk in faith with our families cheering us on. At the bottom of her email there is a quote by Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act.  It is a habit.”

How true indeed. She is excellence in motion, always working on herself and encouraging others. She is an artist’s artist and a life coach comrade. What better way to start the year than with a phoenix on either side of me, whispering, “Rise Phoenix! Rise and declare yourself ALIVE!”

 

Share your thoughts in the comments. phoenix shared that she takes at least 5- 10 minutes out of her day to express gratitude. What is your daily ritual OR what daily ritual will you begin to practice to keep you centered in and inspired about life?

Learn more about La Shaun phoenix Kotaran and also listen to her music.


About the Contributor

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.

Join the Collective on Facebook and Instagram.

 


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Where Are All the Wild Women? Stand Up!

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Wild women where are you? Stand up! You already know that what’s meant for your life is written in the Universe so there’s plenty of room for other sisters to shine. No need for envy, right? You’re too busy manifesting your own purpose. And the women in your life? You genuinely love, support, uplift, affirm, and celebrate them on your journeys to greatness.

Breathe it in, Wild Woman! Be self-love in action.

 


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It’s Time to Let Go: Here’s a Self-Care Challenge to Help You Do It!

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“In the process of letting go you will lose many things from the past, but you will find your Self, rooted in awareness and creativity. Once you have captured this, you have captured the world.” -Deepak Chopra

SEPTEMBER IS HERE! Are you ready to let go?

The phoenix has the power to heal herself when hurt or wounded, rising from the experience stronger. She burns fiercely and reduces to ashes to emerge a new bird.

During this time of the year, a change of season, particularly fall, I especially think of what the phoenix symbolizes: transformation, resilience and renewal.

As we gently move into the new season, think about your own transformation. Like the beautiful fire bird what will you release in order to grow and emerge anew? How have you persevered this year? Been resilient?

I have a self-care challenge for you: This month reflect on the questions above and also jot down what you are going to release. Yes, get a journal, answer the questions as honestly as possible, and also write the following affirmation: I am letting go of____________.  (Fill in the blank.)

Honor your stream of consciousness by letting whatever comes to mind flow through you. Here are examples: I am letting go of hurtful experiences of the past. I am letting go of body shame. I am letting go of financial dysfunction. I am letting go of control. There isn’t a specific number of affirmations to list; you may stop writing when you feel ready to put the pen down. Significant breakthroughs happen in the process and you will physically feel lighter because you are affirming to the universe that you surrender. It is a declaration that you are clearing space to manifest what you really want.

Be willing to let go of what’s weighing you down. This is preparation for gaining strength to keep moving forward, to ascend, to shine, and to rise brilliantly.

NEXT WEEK:

I can’t wait to share with you what I am letting go of; I also have an additional self-care challenge that accompanies the one of above, so get ready!  Be self-love in action, Phoenix. You got this!

Happy September.

 


 

Ayanna_Prof_Headshot[Mktg_Phoenix2]Ayanna Jordan is the founder and executive director of The Phoenix Rising Collective, and the editor-in-chief for Phoenix Shine, The PRC’s online community. She has always had a passion to empower women, especially through writing, coaching, and teaching. She is happy that Phoenix Shine offers resources and provides awareness on what it means to truly love who you are. From forgiving others (and yourself) to taking time for spiritual practice, this forum is all a part of the journey to authenticity. Right now, she is most inspired by the LYFF series and She Makes It Beautiful. You can also learn more about Ayanna HERE.

 

 


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SELF-LOVE TIP OF THE WEEKEND: Through Self-Love You Learn How to Love

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Through self-love, I have learned how to love. Period. Loving myself when I was in a personal hell or when I was considered wrong or when I was stripped of everything I once used as a distraction taught me how to love all of existence. Compassion started to grow. I have discovered that when I’m taking care of myself, everything else is taken care of (even when my mind judges it to be wrong). Yes, some who are not in peace with this change may not be happy with my self-love/self-care and will get their feathers ruffled and think I’m selfish. This is their issue to make peace with.

Selfishness is expecting others to do for you what you should be doing for yourself. Self-love is our sole responsibility and freedom. It is empowering for all! I allow those that don’t accept me for who I am to leave my Life; this is their freedom and mine to be ourselves. Namasté.

 

Did you miss our Phoenix feature, Tathina’s, Love Yourself First! Friday story? Well, check it out here.

Have a great weekend, Phoenix! Be self-love in action.


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I Forgive Myself: It’s More Than Just An Affirmation

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There is freedom in letting go. Stop beating yourself up already! Stop holding on to old wounds, things you should or should not have done and said, etcetera, etcetera. Blaming and shaming will not change what happened to you or what you did and said to yourself or someone else; however, releasing the pain around the experiences will support healing and moving on with a newfound sense of freedom.

There’s a beautiful book by author and life coach, Iyanla Vanzant, that I’ve had for a long time (long enough for the pages to turn yellow), Tapping the Power Within: A Path to Self-Empowerment for Women. I found this book (or it found me) years ago when I worked in a bookstore and was also becoming much more diligent in my spiritual development. I loved the self-care rituals in it (and still do). It’s an easy read with powerful step-by-step guidance that can be used every day. Let’s be real, guidance on how to let go and forgive is the challenge, so being armed with tools that support practicing forgiveness makes all the difference in the world!

I hadn’t opened Tapping the Power Within in quite a while but found myself drawn to it again about three years ago – right around the time I took the major leap to start The Phoenix Rising Collective. I began to doubt that I could create something of this magnitude on my own from square one. And you know what happens when doubt rears its ugly head? Its companion, negative self-talk, is just around the corner ready to pounce with questions like, “Who in the world do you think are? What makes you think you’re qualified to do this? What if you fail?” Once that starts I’m in the rabbit hole called The Past – past hurts, past pains, and past failures. A close friend and I hold each other accountable when we go to that dark place by saying, “Get outta there! Come back. That’s over. Be present.” We’ve all got our own personal rabbit hole, and the key to digging your way out and keeping it closed is self-awareness: developing the ability to catch negative self-talk when it begins, understanding what triggers it, and committing to practices that heal and create change. So, with that in mind I took Tapping the Power Within off the shelf for a refresher course and immediately turned to the chapter on forgiving and releasing. This is the paragraph that struck a cord: “The Forgiveness Diet included in A Course in Miracles, is a helpful exercise for releasing past hurts, those you remember and those you do not. It requires a commitment of 20 minutes in the morning, 20 minutes at night, and a brand new notebook.” Well, I grabbed my journal and went on a diet.

It was important for me to start this exercise again because I did not want an inability to forgive myself (or others) hindering my success or sabotaging my commitment to live in the fullness of who I am. The Diet says to the ego, “I am well aware that the culmination of my past experiences has prepared me for what I am embarking on now. All is well.”

Two major things that I noticed after completing the exercise were 1) the inner chatter dissipated and I was able to easily replace it with more loving thoughts and affirmations, and 2) I physically felt lighter (when I am thinking about hurtful past experiences I usually carry the emotional load on my shoulders and upper back).

“Forgiveness allows us to be free of the negative experiences of anger, pain, disappointment, guilt, and shame. When we are free, we are open to experience love, joy, happiness, success, and peace. When we forgive, we learn. When we learn, we grow – mentally, physically, and spiritually.” –Iyanla Vanzant, Tapping the Power Within

My challenge to you is try this exercise! I’ve even attached the instructions: The Forgiveness Diet. This will be another productive, spirit-affirming tool to pull out of your I-am-a-self-care-goddess kit, a part of your guidance on how to forgive yourself and others when the need to do so strikes.

Be open to the experience. Remember to give yourself grace throughout the process, and if you have to start over, then start over – as many times as necessary. This is your opportunity to let go of whatever you’re holding on to. It’s your chance to finally let it fall away.

Release the weight. Be light. Be self-love in action!

And don’t forget to share your progress with me in the comment section below. What did you observe while on the diet? How did you feel? I’d also love to hear about your go-to books on and practices for forgiveness.

You can also check out these books on the topic of self-love and forgiveness:

Book_Recommendations[ThePhoenixRisingCollective]

Specifically on Body Acceptance:

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IMG_20150204_073625 2Ayanna Jordan is founder and Women’s Leadership Coach & Trainer for The Phoenix Rising Collective; she is also the editor-in-chief for Phoenix Shine, The PRC’s blog and spirit-affirming online community. She has always had a passion for inspiring others through writing, coaching, and teaching. Her diverse career experiences have positively shaped her overall perspective on what it truly means to be a change agent: “I believe a change agent is someone who is in alignment with what she loves to do, and then connects, utilizes, and shares that love to make a difference and transform lives.” Learn more about Ayanna HERE.


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

 

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Love Yourself First! Friday (LYFF) is part of our 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 awesome Phoenix is Faith:

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

For me, self-love is very much intertwined with self-acceptance. Part of this is simply being my authentic self instead of trying to be the person others want or expect me to be – something I’ve struggled with in the past.

Sometimes it means accepting my limitations and not expecting perfection. My best is enough. I’ve learned to set boundaries and not take on too much, just to make someone else happy. Sometimes you have to say no.

At the same time, I think self-love is partially what enables me to push myself to achieve. I grew up knowing I wanted more for my life than I felt I was being offered. Because I love myself, I have worked hard to accomplish many goals. I’m proud of who I am and what I’ve accomplished so far, and I love myself enough to continue to strive for more.

Recipes

“I’ve found that the larger variety of healthy foods I eat, the more I enjoy making healthy choices and love to try new recipes.”

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

I put a lot of emphasis on mental self-care. I try to keep my self-talk positive. If I wouldn’t say something to a friend or to my daughter, why should I say it to myself? Speaking of friends, I try to nurture my relationships and surround myself with positive influences as much as possible. My friends are a priority in my life and I feel lucky that they make me a priority, too. I think that a good laugh or conversation with a friend can soothe the soul like nothing else.

I love to eat healthy (and delicious) food, and drink lots of water. I don’t believe in “dieting” or depriving myself of food. Instead, I try to incorporate as many fruits, veggies and whole grains as possible- and when I want something less healthy I eat it, too. I’ve found that the larger variety of healthy foods I eat, the more I enjoy making healthy choices and love to try new recipes. I hate the way society has taught so many women and girls to count every calorie and associate food with being “good” or “bad.” I try to eat for longevity and health – not what society says I should look like.

I try to work physical activity into my life, although in my current state (month 9 of pregnancy) I have been slacking. I’m not a person who enjoys traditional exercise and I hate running, so I have to find ways to make being active interesting for me. I really enjoy taking long walks (especially with my family). I also like participating in classes at my gym, like yoga or Zumba. I really want to get a bike, too! Anything that feels more like an adventure or experience rather than work is right up my alley.

Finally, I make sleep a priority. I recently heard someone describe sleep as the only basic human need that we tend to delegitimize or look at as a weakness. Most nights I am asleep not long after 10 p.m.

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

As a mother with a full-time career outside of the home, I face many demands and really have to work at balance. There have been days when I cried after dropping my daughter off at the sitter’s in the morning and there have been days when I cried when I had to leave a work meeting early to pick her up. Not many of my co-workers have children (and most of those who do have much older children), so there have definitely been times when I worried about how my commitment outside of work as a mother impacted perceptions of my job performance. There have been times that I felt guilty for being away from my daughter during the day. At the same time, I enjoy and am proud of both aspects of my life, so I’ve learned to allow myself to embrace the positive feelings that both working and being a mother bring into my life and let go of the negative feelings of self-doubt or not being “enough.” I show myself love by giving myself permission to focus on the task at hand – whether work or being with my daughter- without guilt. It helps having an awesome and supportive partner (my husband, Matt).

Motherhood has actually had a strong impact on my self-love in a lot of ways. I think one of the things I was afraid of before becoming a mother was losing a sense of myself. Instead, I’ve discovered a lot about myself that I didn’t know before. Sometimes I’m amazed at what I’m capable of. The amount of love I have for my daughter has given me confidence that I didn’t know I had. I make better choices because I know she is constantly watching and learning from me. Also, some of the things I love most about her are traits that I can also see in myself. How can I not love the things we have in common?

What have you learned from self-love?

Simple gratitude. I am more grateful than I can express for all the beauty in my life. It really is reciprocal: The more grateful I am for my life, the more I love myself. And the more I love myself, the more grateful I feel.

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Join the Collective. Share your self-love story with us. Send an email HERE. Put “My LYFF Story” in the subject line, and we’ll send you follow-up info. Sweet. Short. Simple!

Love Yourself First! Friday is a bi-weekly 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.


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Take Your Personal Fitness Goals Up a Notch With These Workouts (Video)

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It is spring, and summer is just around the corner! It is time to get those bodies moving. The benefits of physical activity are boundless and the impact is long-term. If you haven’t exercised in years or even never – this is the time to start! And if you are a veteran, it is always good to change up your activities to keep those muscles guessing.

Exercise controls weight, combats diseases, improves mental mood, boosts energy, improves sex life (YEP!), and it can be fun (seriously!). I have made great friends through fitness groups. Exercise comes in all forms and intensity levels; finding the right fit for you will ensure success.

Interval Training

I use interval training with all of my clients and in my group classes. I prefer this method because twenty seconds looks different for everyone and it is the best way to burn calories, build muscle, improve endurance, and meet your personal fitness goals.

You can turn anything into interval training! For example, during your morning run, for twenty seconds, sprint; rest for ten seconds, and repeat eight times. Or instead of regular pushups, perform pushups for twenty seconds, rest for ten seconds, and repeat six to eight times. Pushing your body out of its comfort zone coupled with the short rest, pushes your body into the anaerobic zone where most of the good results are seen.

The other great thing about interval training is that when you are done, your body enters Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). After all of the intervals, your body is in a state of restlessness but wants to get back to rest. While in EPOC your body is adapting to the previous exercise, restoring oxygen, repairing cells, and continuing to burn calories.

Interval training and EPOC improves your body’s ability to use oxygen, which means better endurance and more energy.

Try a few of these interval training workouts below:

 

In Health, Fitness, and Love!

Megan

For additional fitness coaching, contact Megan HERE.

And, of course, check out Megan’s other health + wellness tips and advice, HERE.

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Megan_Weidner[PRC Health Contributor]Megan Weidner is the Health + Wellness contributor for The Phoenix Rising Collective; she is a fitness coach and environmentalist in the Akron/Canton, Ohio area. She manages a global sustainability and corporate responsibility program for a large multinational company; her areas include environmental compliance, social equity, community engagement and health and wellness. Megan is also devoted to Rock. It. Fitness., her fitness and natural skincare business. She is committed to making the world a better, more environmentally friendly and healthier place through motivation and education. She is certified through AFAA and Tabata Bootcamp.  She has a B.S. in Soil, Environmental, and Atmospheric Science (University of Missouri), a Graduate Certificate in Environmental Management and Policy (University of Denver) and an M.P.A (University of Missouri).  She lives in Green, Ohio with her husband and three kids.