The Phoenix Rising Collective

Inspiring Women to be Self-Love in Action


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The Take 3 Method: Eating the Right Amount of Good Food at the Right Time

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I like fitness, but I also like to eat.  I would assume the latter part of that sentence is true for most people. I mean, seriously, food is good and we need it to survive. That is why I am not a big fan of diets. Instead, I believe in eating the right amount of good food at the right time.

As part of my Tabata Bootcamp program, I talk to my clients about nutrition.  Nutrition is an extremely important part of your life and fitness program.  Bad nutrition can completely sabotage a great workout.

Every time you sit down to eat ask yourself three simple questions:

  1. Am I hungry?
  2. Is it a good choice?
  3. How much do I need?

 

Many times we eat out of boredom: While we’re sitting at the computer, watching a movie, or reading a book. Or we eat because it is convenient: At a party, “food day” at work, or meals sent over by relatives. Before you eat, ask yourself if you are really hungry. If your answer is “no”, stop there! Also, try drinking a glass of water then waiting. Our stomach sends the same signal to our brains for thirst as it does for hunger. You may think you are hungry and really you may just be thirsty.

If you truly are ready for a meal or a snack, the next question should be, “is it a good choice?”.  Yes, you may be hungry, but a Snickers bar from the vending machine is not a good choice. Instead, pack carrot sticks, cucumber slices, almonds, low-fat cheese, pistachios, or fruit.  If you are at dinner, go for the whole grains and lean meat such as fish or baked chicken instead of fried foods or red meat.

PhotoGrid_1428275789533-1The last important question is about portion. I grew up in an Italian family where you were expected to eat the full portion and usually a second helping as well.  However, despite your family’s expectations or what society tells us, we do not need to finish everything on our plates.  In fact, most restaurants give us way TOO MUCH food!  Eat slow and drink lots of water.  When you are full…stop! If you are at a restaurant, immediately ask for a to-go box and box up half of your meal before you even take a bite. This will remove the temptation to eat it all. This last question is also important if you allow yourself to have dessert: Take a few bites, but you do not need to eat the whole piece (or whole bag of cookies)!

Food Journaling:

I also recommend finding an accountability partner.  Together keep a food journal. Write down everything you eat during the day and then at the end of the week share you journal with your partner.  If you know someone is checking your progress, you are less likely to eat the bacon cheeseburger and fries.

There are great apps available as well to help you track your food intake, such as MyFitnessPal.

Fitness and nutrition go hand in hand. If you are committed to living a healthy lifestyle, don’t forget the importance of healthy food choices.  Step away from the diet and choose to use the Take Three Method.

In health, fitness, and love!

Megan

 

Want more details on The Take Three Method? Well, take a look at the Tabata Bootcamp Nutrition Guide.  For additional fitness coaching, contact Megan here.

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About the Contributing Writer:

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.


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AFFIRMATION OF THE DAY: Notice Great Things!

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Believe it, Phoenix! Great things DO happen to you everyday – big and small. You can recognize them by choosing to live in the moment.

Practice mindfulness. Take a few deep breaths and just be present.

In the words of Jon Kabat-Zinn, “Practice sharing the fullness of your being, your best self, your enthusiasm, your vitality, your spirit, your trust, your openness, above all, your presence. Share it with yourself, with your family, with the world.”  (Book: Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life)

Tip: As a way to express gratitude for and assist you in the practice of recognizing those great things (big and small) that happen in your day, journal about them or share the experiences with someone who will appreciate and support what you’re doing, the new, positive habit you’re creating. Notice how these simple, yet very impactful, exercises shift your perspective and overall mood.

Mindfulness is integral to your commitment to be self-love in action. Practice!

 


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

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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 inspiring Phoenix is Monique:

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

Loving myself first means realizing my own value and walking in that light at all times. Loving myself first means understanding that I am worthy of all of the positivity, joy, and PEACE of mind that I can experience in my God-given 24 hours – without guilt or hesitation. Loving myself first means believing I am worth it not because someone else told me so; because my Creator made it so!

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

I demonstrate the love I have for myself by making sure that what I take in physically, spiritually, and mentally is beneficial to MY health. From drinking water and walking to daily prayer and keeping a positive circle around me; I strive daily to honor the God within by treating myself well. Some days are more challenging than others, but with each new day, there is another opportunity for me to improve in self-love, and for that I am grateful!

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

Experiencing separation, divorce, and the challenges of rebuilding my life showed me where I needed to grow as a person. I had time to reflect on the mistakes I made and the reality that I really didn’t love myself, making it impossible to truly love someone else. Through those experiences, I learned that in order to heal and move forward, I had to first love myself enough to forgive – forgive others, and most importantly, forgive myself. Guilt, shame, and doubt were like weights around my neck. Once I shed those, I NEVER looked back. I knew God had more for me, and I was ready to go after it.

What have you learned from self-love?

From self-love, I have learned that as a woman I have the power to attract who and what I am into my circumference. All of my relationships are mirrors of some aspect of me, whether good or bad. Negativity doesn’t just magically appear; I either cause it or allow it in my life. Period. Love for self doesn’t produce victims; it gives birth to survivors. Once love for self became more than a cliché and actually became my way of life, I began to repel what didn’t add to my life, and I attracted genuine love in return. On June 17, I will celebrate 3 years of marriage to the man I believe God sent to me.  And I am enjoying the journey of finally meeting the Monique I never knew. When I look at myself five years ago and now, all I can say is God is the Greatest!

 

Monique’s LYFF Collage:

We asked our Phoenix, Monique, to submit photos demonstrating self-love in action or even photos that radiate the feeling of loving who she is. We created a collage (shown above) of the images she wanted to share. Here’s what she had to say about why these authentically reflect her self-love:  “The photos I have chosen are a powerful testimony of the transformation that loving God and myself have caused in my life!”

Thanks for sharing your self-love story with us, Monique. You are definitely a Phoenix Rising!

 

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If you’d like to share your self-love story with The Collective contact us here.

Love Yourself First! Friday is a bi-weekly self-love series created by The Phoenix Rising Collective. Beautiful, diverse women tell stories of triumph, share personal affirmations, and declare love for their lives! The series is meant to inspire and empower women to fiercely demonstrate self-love in action in order to build and sustain healthy, positive self-esteem.  Be sure to read some of our other inspiring stories.

 


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A 6-Minute Workout: Never Underestimate Yourself and What Your Body Can Do (Video)

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A few weeks ago, I held my first “beginner” class at a studio in Green, Ohio. The participants were shy and nervous, but they ROCKED it! So many of the women in my class had not exercised in years; some had injuries, most were not happy with their current weight, but all were motivated to make a change. Because of that motivation, they ventured out in a particularly cold and snowy northeast Ohio night to let some stranger work them out. The most exciting thing about this whole experience is that these ladies were NOT beginners! My classes are not easy; even when the title of the class says “beginner”, it is a tough workout. Too often, the first step is to believe in ourselves; to know that we simply…can.

My point to all of this? Do not underestimate yourself and what you can do. If you haven’t exercised in months, years, or never in your life – start now! Now is your time. Start slow and find something that you enjoy. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a gym membership or a trainer; most things you can do in the comfort of your home. A trainer or fitness coach is great for motivation and for showing you how to do new exercises, but again, don’t underestimate you.

Below are a couple of example workouts to get you started and for additional motivation!

Consult a physician before engaging in any type of workout. Warm up and cool down adequately.

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Lunge Demonstration – Megan Weidner, The PRC Health + Wellness Contributor

Workout #1 – Lunges

High knees (step or jog) 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds

Side lunges alternating sides 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds

Repeat both

Jumping jacks (step to the side or jump) 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds

Step back lunges alternating legs 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds

Repeat both

Push-ups (from floor or wall; you can drop your knees on the floor and push up) 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds

Plank 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds

Workout #2 – Burpees

Tabata: Burpees – 20 seconds; and 10 second rest (Repeat 8 times)

[Also, click here to learn more about Tabata]

Jump or step side to side 20 seconds, 10 second rest

Squat walk (squat position, take two steps forward and two steps back, repeat) 20 seconds, 10 second rest

Repeat

Here’s How to Do a Burpee:

Start by adding a simple 6-minute workout each day. Most of my clients find that getting the short exercises completed in the morning is best for energy levels and for their schedules.

In health, fitness, and love,

Megan

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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.


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She Makes It Beautiful – An Interview with Entrepreneur, Suzan Bradford Kounta

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She Makes It Beautiful (SMIB) encourages and inspires women to follow their entrepreneurial dreams by interviewing and sharing the phenomenal stories of women entrepreneurs who’ve already taken that courageous leap and soared.

We’ve asked entrepreneurs in diverse, creative professions to participate, and they were more than willing to pay it forward. From opening a dance studio to starting a bakery to grooming pets and everything in between, you’ll read the unique and empowering stories about how these women decided to just go for it.

Don’t forget! Download your free SMIB Bonus Materials below. Use them as your personal toolkit to help get that dream off the ground. All bonus materials complement the advice and tips give by the entrepreneurs.

 

PhotoGrid_1425438086959This SMIB interview is with Suzan Bradford Kounta, Co-Founder and Creative Director of Thiossane West African Dance Institute.

When and why did you start the Thiossane West African Dance Institute?

Thiossane was conceived in 2000. However, I had been working toward its birth since 1990. My life experiences encouraged me to become a CEO, Chief Executive of Opportunity; I was directed to manage businesses in a creative and innovative way that blended the past and present.

What sparked the inspiration?

I wanted to create a career from my passion. I am fueled when I can provide or create opportunities that allow people to grow through their creativity.

How did you know this is what you are meant to do with your life?

When I learned about whom I belong to and who I am, it was very clear what I was supposed to do. My ancestors and mother were always an example of my purpose. My lineage found through my mother’s DNA reiterated my character, values, and beliefs. Everyday, I am reminded of my purpose on this earth. Everyday I am faced with challenges that propel me forward, even when it is a struggle. I was planted to prosper, and nurtured to endure and witness my accomplishments. I am humble and grateful always to be a vehicle for the greater good of people.

What was the process like getting started?

It was a struggle. My business was rooted in social services and the not-for-profit art world. It was not popular and people shunned the activity and were ignorant to the significance of the art form. I taught myself the nature of the business and learned through my jobs how best to grow it through the skills I acquired and the knowledge gained over the years.

What is one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned from the process?

I learned several, but the one that has provided longevity for me is to measure and evaluate from my own statistics. If I were to measure the success of The Institute to that of larger companies, I would have and should have failed along time ago. I believe wholeheartedly in what the Institute has provided for children, young adults, families, single moms, single dads, grandparents raising grandchildren, families who adopt outside their race, and people with special needs.

Was there a pivotal moment when you recognized what you were doing would be successful?

Because I have been nurturing this passion for 25 years all the while having an awesome supporting cast and great friends who are intelligent, passionate, and share in my likeness, I was able to align the mission and vision of the Institute into a place of upward mobility that is steady and strong. That coupled with nostalgia and innovation allowed multiple opportunities to grow our audiences and increase our revenue. Yes, by business standards, profits, profits, profits are the measure of success, but for the Institute, the number of people who are impacted by participating, engaging, or performing within Thiossane is and will always be our greatest success.

What do you love most about what you do?

I love that we empower young people through a set of values to govern themselves not only on the dance floor, but also, specifically, in their lives. These values will encourage and support their endeavors and will strengthen and provide resilience in their challenges. I love that people can dance and play music as if no one is watching, and I love the richness of the African Diaspora and how it is threaded through our daily lives – giving peace, harmony, and overall good feelings to one’s soul, to one’s spirit.

How do you maintain a healthy balance in your personal and professional life?

My maternal grandmother’s adage was “A Healthy Body is A Healthy Mind.” I was taught early to take care and manage myself, to exercise all my beings – mental, physical, emotional, and most importantly, my spiritual being. I taught myself to be selfish about my time and the energy I receive from others.

Lastly, what advice can you give to women seeking to fulfill their own entrepreneurial dreams?

  1. Stay true to your vision.
  2. Be confident in what you know.
  3. Take risks.
  4. Seek knowledge.
  5. Be creative.
  6. Have your own measuring stick.
  7. Create a welcoming space for yourself – personally and professionally.
  8. Demonstrate due diligence in all that you do.
  9. Travel the world.
  10. Speak another language.
  11. Manage only what you can; slow growth is good growth.
  12. Don’t be greedy.
  13. Protect your passion and ideas.
  14. Potentiate those around.
  15. Make money.
  16. Be happy in all that you do.

 

Learn more about Suzan Bradford Kounta HERE.

Tell us what you think, Phoenix!

We want to hear about how you are inspired by Suzan Bradford Kounta, as well as your experience goal-setting and planning for your business in the comment section below. You can also share a snapshot of how you used the SMIB bonus materials on Facebook and Instagram with the hashtag: #SMIB 

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SMIB_GoalSettingWorksheet[thephoenixrisingcollective]


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

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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 inspiring Phoenix is Lizzie:

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

Loving myself first has been a work in progress because my kids are still very young and it seems natural for mothers to put their family’s needs before themselves. However, as I grow older, I have realized that it’s important to reserve some daily down-time for me. I make time to practice yoga often and try to incorporate meditation. I am a highly goal-oriented person who loves to live at a fast past; therefore, my yoga practice helps me to focus and quiet my soul.  I have discovered that when I begin my day with yoga and meditation, my day seems so much calmer, and it feels like I have been kind to my spirit, so the act of loving myself first is quieting my spirit and taking time to just listen to what God wants me to hear for the day.

I also like to reward myself with “spa days.” I enjoy just getting away for the day to be pampered – leaving all the kid-chauffeuring to my husband.

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Lizzie’s first half marathon: “Running is spiritual for me and that is why I don’t even listen to any music while I run.”

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

I truly believe in the connection of mind, body, and spirit. Before kids, I used to run daily, and I went to the gym twice a day (in the morning before work and back again after work) in order to make it back home just in time to have dinner with my husband. Yes, exercise and good health were my life before kids. After all, I lived on the East coast and that was the thing to do.  Just last year, I decided to rekindle my old hobby of running and completed my first Half Marathon in Columbus, Ohio. This was probably one of my most exciting days that gave me such a sense of accomplishment (as seen on my photo wearing my medal). Running is spiritual for me and that is why I don’t even listen to any music while I run. It’s a Zen moment where I just want to feel the wind and hear all the natural sounds.

I love to set goals, and my quest to achieve them fuels me, and I feel good about myself.  I also love to travel and see the world. My most sacred place is anywhere near the ocean. The ocean’s power and serenity reminds of the glory of God. My most memorable vacations are in locations where I can hear the relaxing sound of the ocean. I cannot think of anything more calming.

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

Three years ago, I had to make an emergency trip to South Africa because my mother had encountered a serious cardiac illness. After returning from that visit in January, I was so thankful that God had graciously spared her life and wanted to focus more on gratitude. I then made a conscious effort to give up meat during the month of January. I chose January because I do not believe in setting resolutions; instead, I set goals. Consequently, January has become my month of thanksgiving, fasting, and focusing more on what goes into my body. I use this time to slow down and focus more on loving my body and appreciating my life.

What have you learned from self-love?

Self-love raises my awareness of how important it is to remember to take care of myself. Because I am an extrovert, I have to constantly remind myself that I do not always have to engage in external activities. Literally, I feel like my being craves stillness each day. I am very comfortable with being alone in stillness or immersed in a good book. Consequently, my next goal for this year is to begin to take at least one annual mini vacation by myself just to relax and pamper myself. I am calling these trips a “mommy hiatus.”

Lizzie’s LYFF Collage:

We asked Lizzie to also submit photos demonstrating self-love in action or even photos that radiate the feeling of loving who she is. We created a collage (shown above) of the awesome images she wanted to share.

Lizzie selected these images because “the first one (top right) represents my love of the ocean. This was on vacation in Jamaica, a place that I love! My second photo (bottom left) is of my yoga practice – warrior pose! And the last one (bottom right) is my first half marathon day in Columbus, Ohio with my medal.”

Below is also a quote that she loves and shared with us; it describes her love and comfortability with being alone.

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Thank you for sharing your self-love story, Lizzie! You are definitely a Phoenix Rising.

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If you’d like to share your self-love story with The Collective contact us here.

Love Yourself First! Friday is a bi-weekly self-love series created by The Phoenix Rising Collective. Beautiful, diverse women tell stories of triumph, share personal affirmations, and declare love for their lives! The series is meant to inspire and empower women to fiercely demonstrate self-love in action in order to build and sustain healthy, positive self-esteem.  Be sure to read some of our other inspiring stories.

 


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Daily Inspirational Reminders from My Sons

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I laugh out loud at even pondering this subject. BUT, If I dug deep enough and really tried to muster up a precise calculation of how many times I hear the word “Mom” in a given day, I’d argue that it’s minimally between 30-40 times – and this is during a school day. Please note: my children are at school for at least seven hours out of the day. On the weekends its usage must peak somewhere in the hundreds (sometimes it feels like thousands).

That said, there normally isn’t a monotone inflection in the young voices that have acutely etched the word “Mom” into their consciousness. The sound ranges from a high pitched yell, “MOOOOOMMMM!”, when I am being beckoned to solve a math problem, bandage a profusely bleeding bruise, extinguish a small kitchen fire, OR most importantly, when the iPad chargers can’t be found in the collective messes called bedrooms. Then, there’s the alto scale. This is typically used when pleas of hunger are being expressed (a half-hour after said culprits have eaten a four course meal with dessert), snuggling, kissing on the cheek, a wrestle-tickle-pin-down ensues, or some other form of physical affection is warranted, and lastly, when my 12 year-old is “putting me up on” the dopest Eminem lyrics from the song Rap God circa 2013 (he was 10 years old and completely absorbed in superheroes when the Marshall Mathers LP 2 was released).

KaNeesha_Sons[Nasr_Mikah]DailyInspirationalReminder[phoenixrisingcollective]There’s also my personal favorite! The deep Barry White meets Darth Vader baritone breadths of “MUUUUMMMM” that are echoed in great annoyance most Saturday mornings when I’m fussing about chores going undone, pulling the cantankerous five year-old away from Clifford the Big Red Dog re-runs to eat something more nourishing than Honey Nut Cheerios, or when I decide to jokingly reverse the parent-child dynamic. I become self-absorbed, nonchalant, and quasi-aloof during my interactions with the usual suspects for the sole purpose of giving them a taste of their own medicine. As you could imagine, this role reversal doesn’t last too long. My children become completely fed up and disinterested when my world doesn’t revolve around them.

Throughout the challenging moments, the days I wish I had more patience, the tears from extreme feelings of being overwhelmed, the WTF thoughts of “WHY GOD didn’t he turn in his homework?!”, and the somehow-reaching-profound epiphanies from dialogues in which the main subject is who said “booty, doo-doo, and you farted, EEWWW!” –  I wouldn’t trade in the experience of mothering for anything in the world. Ausar; 12 years old and Mikah; five years old are exceptional human beings in every way imaginable. I give thanks that they chose me to act as one of many facilitators in the global village that nurtures, provides, and empowers them to live according to their hearts’ desires. These two guys are creativity, raw energy, and stand-up comedy; they are Neil DeGrasse Tyson meets Steve Jobs intelligent. They are personified beacons of hope in a chaotic world.

It is clear that their charge, along with many youth in this generation, is to re-create a new realm that wholeheartedly welcomes expansion of ideas, redefined identities, assorted spaces and places of existence, and mutually beneficial social exchanges unlike anything humankind has ever experienced. Many days Ausar comes home raving about the latest technological advance in gaming or smartphones in a language that I have minimal knowledge; thus, he has started learning computer coding with his first project being developing an app for Apple iProducts.

As for my little rambunctious one, Mikah, I’m completely amazed at the usage of his extensive vocabulary while explaining to the lady standing behind us in line at Barnes & Nobles the difference between toy trains made from wood and die-cast metal. As much as I attempt to teach them, it’s returned in abundance ten-fold.

Here are Five Inspirational Reminders from My Sons:

  1. Express Daily Gratitude– Joyfully expressing gratitude for all things and all beings in God’s creation. Mikah loves to sit in the dirt and dig (and would until he reached China – if possible). Through this he finds great solace and demonstrates his appreciation for the beauty that is Mother Earth.
  1. Unconditional Love– Loving someone when it’s most difficult to do so. You’d be surprised, but your kids love you in spite of your fussing, limiting their screen time, or burning the brownies for the school bake sale. Perfectly imperfect I am, and my boys love me still. They even tell me sometimes!
  1. Forgiveness– Fully letting go of the past (even if it was yesterday) and accepting the present. Kids get over things quickly. They don’t hold grudges, and they accept you just as you are each day. Extend this same grace to someone you know.
  1. Mindfully Living in the Moment– I observe my children when they are focused on something. Learning a new game, playing with friends, drawing, or riding a bike. They are completely absorbed in that one task with full enjoyment. The concept of multitasking has no meaning in their scopes of comprehension. Yesterday is the past, tomorrow isn’t promised, all we have is the NOW. Be present.
  1. Playtime– Stop taking yourself so serious and have fun! Remember what life was like when you were seven, 12, or 16 years old? Stomping rain puddles in freshly ironed clothes, rapping freestyle lyrics to the Ne Ne song after a long day, or posing for a family collage of selfies are cool ventures that have landed me a membership into the “Cool Mom” club. It’s good to let your kids see that you know how to have a good time. Too, it balances out the other times when you have to lay the smack-down. “DO YOU HEAR, what the MOOOOMMMM IS COOKING?!”

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About the Contributing Writer:

d81392516be0b26c1094730815028b17W. KaNeesha Allen is an educator with extensive project management, student support services, and community outreach experience in K-12 and higher education institutions.  She is also the mother of two extremely rambunctious and fun loving boys – Ausar and Mikah. While often seeking to master the balance between being a highly engaged mother and taking time to BE with herself in the divine energy of the universe, KaNeesha finds peace, solace, and regeneration through meditation, Vinyasa yoga, and her “Sistah Circle”. As the Motherhood Empowerment contributor, she welcomes mothers from everywhere to join her on a journey of self-discovery and evolution towards harnessing, embodying, and emoting the Goddess power within. Read her latest posts.

 


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It’s Love Yourself First! Friday: Today’s Phoenix is Darlene

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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 motivated and courageous Phoenix is Darlene, Founder of Sisters in Spirit:

On September 1, 2014 Sisters in Spirit (SIS) invited the public to join us in a 30-day self-love challenge. With so many other challenges going on, using Facebook as a platform, we thought: “Why not challenge others for the greatest cause of all? Self-love.” Every experience is framed by how much we love ourselves!

In the journey, posting an inspiring self-love message and photo each day, I began to feel that this cause had grown much bigger than SIS.  Personally, I began thinking more about what and how I ate, who I was spending my time with and what I was spending it on, and what I was thinking as I went about my day. More importantly, the biggest question was, “Am I doing whatever I am doing with self-love?”

Two quotes that hit me the most were:

  • The highest spiritual practice is self-observation, WITHOUT JUDGEMENT. -Swami Kripalu
  • She realized that life was what it was.  And suddenly she understood the only part of it   she had any control over was how she lived it, so she chose to do it with self-love.  -Queenisms

I was thriving on this self-love until one day a heavy funk hit me out of the blue.  I swam in and out of it for about two weeks.  My co-worker noticed it, and so did one of my yoga instructors.  They both said I wasn’t my normal, cheery self.  I noticed it, but I didn’t understand what it was.  I didn’t understand how I could be so deep in the celebration of self-love and allow a funk to overcome me.

One day I just allowed myself to feel the funk.  I sat outside in the sun and began to question the feeling.  Nothing was wrong with me physically.  I had no major issues to speak of, so what was the problem?  Then it hit me.  It was depression!  I had experienced this feeling related to the death of my son, but it had been so long since I’d had the feeling, I’d forgotten what it felt like.  The moment I identified it, I understood that this pain in my body wanted to live.  It didn’t want to be shed in my 30-day self-love journey.  It was fighting fiercely to stay alive.  Once I experienced that revelation, I could let the habit go.  When I let go, it let go as well.  I was encompassed by an overwhelming joy.  A joy so powerful, that thinking of it makes me happy!

It’s never too late to start your own challenge.  In fact, right now is the perfect time to embrace self-love. Be-YOU-tiful!

Thank you, Darlene, for sharing your LYFF story. You’re definitely a Phoenix rising.

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Start Your Own 30-Day Self-Love Challenge:

It’s a new year. In fact, a new month is starting soon! What a perfect time to start your own 30-Day Self-Love Challenge. Make a list of things you plan to do during the process. What self-care rituals will you participate in on a daily/weekly basis? Be sure to include things that you’ve never done and to journal about what “comes up” for you during the journey – positive or negative. Journal entries throughout the 30-days may include;

  1. Daily gratitude at the end of your day (even for the little things)
  2. What experiences bring you happiness and joy (so that you can do more of them)
  3. What actions boost your self-esteem and empower how you feel about yourself
  4. What and who depletes your energy and how you can change that to create a more fulfilling experience that aligns with your intentional living practices
  5. Your favorite quotes that motivate you to be self-love in action

 

Like Darlene, observe and examine any emotional and/or physical resistance you may feel. Don’t ignore it. Go through it, as your personal healing and growth are on the other side. Be patient with yourself, and also celebrate each step you take toward giving yourself the love you deserve.

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If you’d like to share your self-love story with The Collective contact us here.

Love Yourself First! Friday is a bi-weekly self-love series created by The Phoenix Rising Collective. Beautiful, diverse women tell stories of triumph, share personal affirmations, and declare love for their lives! The series is meant to inspire and empower women to fiercely demonstrate self-love in action in order to build and sustain healthy, positive self-esteem.  Be sure to read some of our other inspiring stories.


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5 Signs You’re Living Authentically

5_Signs_of_Living_Authentically[The Phoenix Rising Collective]

“Choosing authenticity means cultivating the courage to be emotionally honest, to set boundaries and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable; exercising the compassion that comes from knowing that we are all made of strength and struggle and connected to each other through a loving and resilient human spirit…”

Almost 365 days have passed since becoming the Motherhood Empowerment contributor for Phoenix Shine, The Phoenix Rising Collective’s blog. My, my, my (long inhale and exhale) so much has happened within the past year. Through all the laughter with family and friends, financial challenges, job hopping, difficult living arrangements, tears of depression, and watching my boys grow up and out in height, personality, identity, hobbies, and intellectual capabilities – I’m STILL standing. I’m STILL here!

This is a major declaration because there have been some pivotal moments these past few months, moments when I thought life was playing a miserably absurd joke on me and had left me in the great wilderness to be eaten alive by self-loathing, debilitating mental illness, anxiety attacks, and voices of conditioning. But alas, my Guardian Angels and Spirit Guides gave me a swift kick in the (now very sore) posterior (I’ll explain the soreness later!) and challenged me to begin living a life solely dedicated to unabashed authenticity. I was forcefully nudged to do the following:

  1. Speak honestly to myself, first and foremost; and then share my truth with others.
  2. Create the balance of listening AND adhering to the messages from my passionate heart and my rational mind.
  3. Completely surrender to the notion of living to fulfill my life’s purpose.

“…Nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we let go of what we are supposed to be and embrace who we are.”

So, in mid-July, one early Sunday morning, after a long sleepless night of tossing, turning, and deep inhalations of the Houston, Texas humidity, pollen, and dew, I began the initial phases of doing…well, more so…BE-ing all of the above.

I spent the last $237 in my account (reserved for partial payment on a bill) for a round trip ticket to Michigan with the intention of seeing my honorary mother (stepmother) and best friends. I separated from my significant other of eight years. I went to work the next day and quit my job with no other prospects anywhere close to the horizon. A few weeks later, I finally communicated some deep and dark feelings to my biological mother – feelings that had been churning inside me since I could recall my earliest memories as a toddler. This led to a healing breakthrough for us.

Let me tell you, after all that, not only did I feel like I had lost 100 pounds. For the first time ever, I felt serenity, excitement, unrelenting strength, joy, and absolute readiness to create the rest of my life exactly how I want!

In recent weeks, doors I didn’t know existed have widely and enthusiastically flung open, ushering me into the greatness that is my purpose. I was awarded a scholarship to complete my Yoga Instructor certification (which I’ve begun preparing for; hence the soreness in practically every muscle in my body). I’m writing programs and developing a curriculum for a non-profit organization committed to youth empowerment. I teach English as a second language to Spanish speaking and Vietnamese adult learners. And I’m the new Program Coordinator for the Houston Center for Literacy which is dedicated to improving the literacy landscape of the city.

Living_Authentically[the phoenix rising collective]

Talk about LEAPS of faith toward living an authentic life! Based on what I’ve experienced these past few months, I’d like to share five signs that you’re living authentically:

  1. Fearless: You fear less; thus, welcoming the vulnerability that comes with the discomfort and uncertainty of not having every single detail of your life planned. You find solace in knowing the heavens and earth are conspiring in your favor to bring forth what you really want. You express gratitude because all that you’ve prayed long and hard for (plus even more) comes to fruition. You simply say,“Thank you,” and pay it forward.
  1. Honesty:  Speak the truth and nothing but the TRUTH so help you! According to Neale Donald Walsch, honesty is one of the highest manifestations of love, so if the intention is to love ourselves, let’s start by being honest. How do you want to feel each day that you wake? What’s your ideal career? How can you make a lucrative income pursuing the one or two or several things that bring you great joy and passion? What does optimal health look like on you? What are some non-negotiable and/or areas of flexibility within an intimate, committed relationship for you? In what area(s) can you improve your parenting skills? I dare you greatly to answer all of these questions, honestly. And don’t judge your answers!
  1. Clarity: A book that really helped me gain clarity in my personal and professional life is The Passion Test by Janet Bray Attwood and Chris Attwood. Without giving away all the details (because I hope you’ll do your research and grab a copy for yourself) the book provides a very precise formula for helping you gain significant clarity on the who, what, when, where, and how of pursuing your passion(s).
  1. Life Flows Easily: When you’re living what you love, life flows easily. You’re so swept up in the new routine of fearlessness and honesty (and with a brand new vision for pursuing your goals) that you become much less concerned about doubt, judgment of others, and the drama of “Who Shot John.” Now, this is not to say there won’t be hiccups and challenges along the way; ideally, you’ll feel more inclined to be aware of the now (or present continuous, as I’m teaching my students) and the power you have to create it exactly how you wish it to be.
  1. Attracting Goodness: Like INergy attracts Like INergy. The thoughts, words, and behaviors you set your intentions on will always return to you. Your intention will reflect either ugliness or beauty, so create beauty, Goddesses!

Authenticity demands wholehearted living and loving – even when it’s hard…mindfully practicing authenticity during our most soul searching struggles is how we invite grace, joy, and gratitude into our lives.”

I’d like to especially dedicate this to Brene Brown.  I’ve used quotes from her glorious masterpiece Daring Greatly throughout this article.  I’d like to extend an extra special THANK YOU to Ayanna Jordan for inviting me to The PRC family, embracing my writing, compassionately supporting me, and encouraging me to continue to strive towards my own GREATNESS! Also, Traci Evadne Currie, gratitude, gratitude, gratitude and more gratitude for operating in your greatness and inspiring me to do the same!

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About the Contributing Writer:

Kaneesha_bio_pic[shine]W. KaNeesha Allen is The Phoenix Rising Collective’s Motherhood Empowerment contributor. She is an educator with extensive project management, student support services, and community outreach experience in K-12 and higher education institutions.  She is also the mother of two extremely rambunctious and fun loving boys – Ausar and Mikah. While often seeking to master the balance between being a highly engaged mother and taking time to BE with herself in the divine energy of the universe, KaNeesha finds peace, solace, and regeneration through meditation, Vinyasa yoga, and her “Sistah Circle”. As the Motherhood Empowerment contributor, she welcomes mothers from everywhere to join her on a journey of self-discovery and evolution towards harnessing, embodying, and emoting the Goddess power within. Read her latest posts.