The Phoenix Rising Collective

Inspiring Women. Empowering Change.


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

How do you love yourself first?

I love myself first by understanding that I must take care of my mental, spiritual, and physical health to sustain in a world that attempts to drain me. I have learned over the years that I teach others how I value me. I know if I don’t take intentional time for me, then others will not respect me or my time.

I love myself first by remembering these three things:

  1. I APPRECIATE my journey. I cannot look at someone else’s blessings and long for what they have.
  2. I PRACTICE what I preach. As a solo parent of three (19, 14, 12), it is imperative that I show love for myself. If I am not demonstrating to them how to love, how to cherish, and how to use their voice, they will not learn.
  3. I look in the mirror each day and tell myself, “Today’s a NEW day. Let’s go get it!”

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

Ahhhhhhh, I love this question! I am an educator, a poet, and an avid reader. I have an endless supply of Post-it Notes I keep handy because my mind is ALWAYS spinning, thinking of new ideas or new quotes. I LOVE QUOTES, especially motivational ones. I have “stickies” everywhere reminding me of special prayer requests, thoughts, and reminders of who I am! My favorite is “I AM LIGHT.” This is penned from a song by India Arie that reminds me that I am light, and who I am is reflected in all that I do. I am who I say I am. No one can define me or label me.

If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive. -Audre Lorde

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

I didn’t realize until the past year that I suffer from depression and anxiety. I am a person who will work and work and not ask for help (because I believed no one wanted to). I would hold in emotions until I was ill. I have in the past year gone through probably one of the darkest years of my life. Years of holding emotions and thoughts in and not being who I needed to be for me, finally manifested into a complete breakdown. My health suffered. I gained 30-40 pounds. My professional life suffered. And worst of all, I didn’t think I was worthy of being blessed with life. I have learned through positive affirmations of family and friends, through taking time to be still (waiting for God’s voice), and through being intentional with my life and goals that I am light and love. My steps are divinely ordered. I just needed to step into the shoes I was born to walk in.

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord; and he delights in his way. Ps. 37:23

What have you learned from self -love?

“Love…so many things I’ve got to tell you but I’m afraid I don’t know how…” I LOVE this song from Musiq Soulchild. I listen to it a lot because the lyrics tell of unconditional love, the kind of love that we need to have for ourselves. I have learned that self-love is needed to sustain, and sometimes I have to take time out to love on myself and to love on others.

I have learned that I am called to be a “servant lover” of others in order to be content. I immerse myself in my non-profit Young PEARLS (a mentoring group for young women ages 14-17). I continue to perfect my writing and speaking skills with my company TraSpeaks, LLC, and I pour into the students I work with on a daily basis. I enjoy building up my community and partnering with others who love to do the same.

I have learned that self-love is self-confidence. I have always been bold, fearless, and opinionated. These attributes are what make me, ME, and I love it.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise… Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear I rise…Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise. I rise. I rise. -Maya Angelou


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 Monique

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

Loving myself first begins daily in the morning with gratitude at the realization that I was given another day to fulfill my purpose. That means thanking God for breath in my lungs to authentically live on purpose. Recognizing that I am fearfully and wonderfully made gives me the liberty to love myself as I am and as I evolve.

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

My daily walks in nature are a part of my exercise routine for self love. It provides an opportunity without distraction to examine my life and the things in my environment. I make this a priority before I start my routines. It provides so much clarity to sort out tasks for the day, too. My mind is at its most open state on my walks, and that allows me to take in all the positive things I see in nature while on the Metro Park trail. It inspires me to give this positive energy to others.

Entering my 40s has been a motivating factor to make conscious decisions about healthy eating. Living consciously has really allowed me to see and feel the benefits of healthy eating. Whole foods that have grown from the soil have been my saving grace when it comes to self love. It has provided me with a clear mind, less aches and pains, more energy, and weight management as a bonus.

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

The biggest obstacle I have overcome is not believing I am enough. There was a time that I would nitpick myself to the point of stifling enjoying what life had in store for me. In my late 20s I discovered the book One Day My Soul Just Opened Up by Iyanla Vanzant. The book required writing daily to some tough questions I had to be honest about and accountable for. My soul did open up, and I began living and loving myself. It pushed me not only to love myself but also make changes to become and grow in the direction of my best self. There were a few bumps in the road but that was acceptable because I was growing and evolving.

What have you learned from self-love?

I am enough.

I’m in competition with myself to become my best self.

I’m worth fighting for.

I’m my best self when I take care of myself first which, in turn, makes me available for others. This is the most positive selfish thing I can do.

I’ve learned to nurture self-love with positive people, music, news, books and experiences.

Self-love has taught me to try new experiences outside my comfort zone. (Yoga. I actually love it!)

Self-love has taught me that it’s okay to fail.

Self-love has taught me to say yes more and to say no without regret.

The biggest lesson for me is that it’s powerful to love others. Truly loving others is a reflection of the love you have for self.


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.


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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 Tracie

Photo Credit: Erika Kapin Photography

Love Yourself First! Friday is back with all new Phoenix features.  This week we’re sharing Tracie’s self-love story.

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

This is, admittedly, a difficult question for me to answer, as I don’t always do a good job with self-love, let alone loving myself FIRST. That said, I’ve come to understand it as centering myself and my needs as first and foremost in the planning and execution of my life.

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

Meal planning is something I’ve recently began practicing as a self-love/self-care habit, which may seem light work to some, but is HUGE for me. Making sure to drink adequate amounts of fresh water daily, allowing space for heightened “inappropriate” emotional moments (esp. sadness & anger) to flow unedited, and telling the truth (at least to myself) about how I feel in the moment are a few other things I do to let the inner me know that she is safe and valued.

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

The meal planning challenge is a HUGE one, because it really opened my eyes to the ways I leap to prioritize others before myself. From start to finish, meal-planning three meals for five days straight takes me about 3 hours – hours I balked at setting aside for myself, but wouldn’t blink an eye to devote to someone else if asked. The first time I realized this it was HUGE for me; it was my opportunity to take a different approach towards myself in the future. If I can show myself even HALF of the love I show others on a consistent basis, I know, overall, my life can only get better and better.

What have you learned from self-love?

I’ve learned that self-love is not habitual for many (if not most of us) and is something that must be learned. Even the idea of practicing acts of self-love takes work, just to sit and figure out what it should LOOK like some days, before you can even get into the work of it. That said, the joy of getting and staying in love with you FAR outweighs the effort. The beauty and peace of mind that have come from this journey are immeasurable, quite honestly. I’m grateful that the older I get, the clearer I get about how best to support myself, and that feels lovely.


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.

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: Join the Collective

LOVE YOURSELF FIRST! FRIDAY

Cultivating a Tribe of Women Who Unapologetically Love Themselves

Are you ready to share your self-love story? Well, Love Yourself First! Friday (LYFF) is your golden opportunity to do just that. It’s time to give yourself credit, pat yourself on the back, and offer yourself kudos for the strides you’re making to sustain a deeper, stronger love for who you are.

We often don’t realize that we are already – through our everyday, practical actions – providing ourselves with the care that fosters healthy esteem and ignites the will to keep moving forward. From taking 10 minutes to have a cup of tea/coffee to walking in the park for exercise to meditating and praying on a daily basis, these are all a part of giving ourselves the love we deserve.

So, share with us what self-love means to you and how you’re putting it into action!

This is how it works:

Send an email HERE or at info@phoenixrisingcollective.org. Put “My LYFF Story” in the subject line, and you’ll be contacted by the Phoenix Team with details on how to be a featured Phoenix.

Join the collective of women who’ve shared their stories! Let’s work together to cultivate a tribe of phenomenal women who fiercely and unapologetically love themselves.

And, for daily inspiration from our self-love sisters, follow us on 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.


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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.