The Phoenix Rising Collective

Inspiring Women to be Self-Love in Action


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

LYFF_Feature_Meaghan[thephoenixrisingcollective]

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 brave Phoenix is Meaghan:

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

Loving myself first means three things to me: forgiving, showing up, and sharing.

  1. Forgiving myself: Since I was a child, I have been told I am just too sensitive, thin-skinned, needlessly vulnerable. I have always felt things incredibly deeply, and it shows. For a long time, I allowed others to take advantage of this part of me and even chastise me for it, telling me it was a flaw, a softness that needed to be hardened. But loving myself started with forgiving myself for these perceived weaknesses, which then opened up the opportunity to protect my vulnerability, and even, to insist upon it being something helpful and constructive.
  2. Showing up for myself: Once I learned to embrace the complexities of my emotional life, I was more ready to defend, preserve, and nurture it. This meant being more verbal when I felt I was being mistreated or ignored or emotionally abused; it also meant coming to the difficult and liberating conclusion that no one else was going to do this for me. As it goes, when I began articulating my worth, I lost some people who I thought were my friends. But the process has left me with a small, strong group of people I consider my chosen family. They respect, love, and appreciate me.
  3. Sharing myself: Once I learned to accept, appreciate, and defend who I am, I became more ready to share myself with the world. Part of loving myself means using my talents, intellect, and skills toward something that fulfills me: right now, it is through teaching and contributing to Human Rights scholarship. I hope to continue doing this once I graduate: I wish for myself a fulfilling life, and it’s my intention to show up and make that dream a reality.

 

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“I am learning how to embrace the beauty of my body…” -Meaghan, LYFF Feature

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

My favorite part of self-care has been creating rituals. My oil baths are legendary in my household, my partner understanding that this time is my time: I use organic oils and salts in a warm bath, and sink into the water with candlelight flickering around me. I light incense, and on a particularly tough day, smudge the space with sage. It is my moment with the divine, where I cleanse and nourish my skin and my mind after work. It helps me shed the stresses of the day.

I have discovered great solace in yoga, and practice at least 3 times a week staying present, feeling graceful (sometimes clumsy!), and building strength. This, in addition to weekly cardio, helps to keep my mood elevated and my mind clear. My personal fitness routine has helped me build a completely new self-image: instead of the un-athletic gym class dropout I thought I was, I know now that I am, in fact, made of poetry and sinewy muscles that can balance, extend, and flex.

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

So, I am going to overcome an obstacle just by writing this answer, and in so doing, I hope to demonstrate my idea of what self-love is. I live with depression, a mental illness that affects women and men around the world. As I grow and change, my depression changes with me. It has had different iterations, and manifests itself differently at different stages of my life. One of the most difficult stages was when I was a freshman in college: I was feeling profoundly alone, and with no one to confide in, I began having thoughts of suicide. I had no desire to eat, was losing weight rapidly, and did not leave my dorm room for days on end, save to go to class. It wasn’t until I had the courage to call my mother, and tell her that I was not doing okay, that I had been thinking of ways to quietly end my life. I told her how I was feeling, and asked her for help (Thank you, Mom, I love you). That was seven years ago, and I could not be prouder of my 18-year-old self for reaching out, and for continuing to struggle. While many may think that this was a time of weakness, I see it as a display of strength. I wanted to keep fighting, and fight I did.

I am writing this now because I made that phone call. I helped save my own life.

I reject the notion that we need to be quiet about these experiences: no one should ever suffer in silence or isolation. Our cultural stigmas around depression and other mental illnesses breed silence, and I refuse to perpetuate this damaging norm. If you are suffering, please tell someone. There are people who care about you, who want to help you leave this pain behind, and want to help you embrace your beautiful life for everything it could and will be.

I look back on that time, that person, with compassion and sadness. I see now I rarely allowed myself to dream: I was so enveloped in my depression that I could not see myself growing up or growing older. I did not think I would make it so far. I am learning now what it’s like to have a vision for my future, and it is overwhelming and wonderful and absolutely terrifying all at the same time. I see a social worker for therapy, practice mindful meditation, and read books that address the sources of my depression: for me, it is shame. Shame is a very powerful thing, as an emotion and as a socially constructed tool to keep women caged. Brene Brown’s book I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough” both articulates this struggle in the context of womanhood and provides some resources for how to cope with shame. It has provided me new ways to protect my vulnerabilities and use them constructively, to build a new idea of who I am and who I want the world to know.

What have you learned from self love?

Oh, I have learned so, so much from self-love, and continue to learn more. I have learned I am worthy, that love for myself multiplies and becomes love for and from others. I have learned that treating myself with compassion means I am more ready to treat others with compassion. It has given me a sense of belonging and community, a sense of possibility and a lasting relationship with myself.

Meaghan_Photos[Phoenix]

Meaghan also tunes in to self-care through writing and receiving love from her cat, Chickadee.

Meaghan’s LYFF Collage:

Here’s a little more about the photos she selected:

Top Right + Bottom Left: I have a lot of fun trying on different types of self-presentation, and I think style is a great way to express a multi-faceted personality. It is something accessible and fun for me, and helps me to take myself not-so-seriously.

Bottom Right: I am learning how to embrace the beauty of my body, to celebrate its strength and accept its flaws. This is a new concept for me, one I’m still exploring.

 

Thanks, Meaghan for sharing your LYFF story! You are definitely a Phoenix Rising.

 


 

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

Love Yourself First Friday[Nakshidil]ThePhoenixRisingCollective

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 beautiful Phoenix is Nakshidil:

 

Nakshidil_Ocean[ThePhoenixRisingCollective]

Nakshidil on the beach in Mauritius.

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

Self-love to me means waking up in the morning and feeling in tune with my mind, body and soul. It’s the positive energy that courses through my body when the sunlight hits my skin or that sense of euphoria that engulfs me on demand.

My drive and determination to constantly feel the love that surrounds me is what I use as my fuel to grow and bask in my passions. I think that’s one of the most important parts about self-love; it’s the ability for someone to understand herself in a profound manner that yields acceptance. Being able to wake up every morning and accept who you are and where you have been is the most powerful weapon on earth because it ultimately acts as a motivator.

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

One of the things my mom has always told me and it continues to resonate with me is that life is volatile; you need to enjoy the simple pleasures of life while you can. I am a lover of clouds. I often stop in the middle of what I am doing if I am outside just to admire them. I love laying down under trees in the shade and watching the way the sunlight hits the leaves. It makes me feel at peace and I can remove myself from the hustle and bustle of my daily routine and hectic surroundings.

I make it a point to take a few minutes every day to do the superman pose. I stand tall with my hands on my hips and look at the sky. I take deep breaths and tell myself I’ve got this. I can do this. Today is my day.

I have also realized the importance of doing the things I love when I feel like it and to invest myself, wholeheartedly, in everything I undertake.

I cook often because I love food. It’s therapeutic and soothes my mind.

Being around my friends and family brightens my day and I find solace in seeing those dear to my heart happy, so I try to spend as much time as possible around the people I care about most.

Another thing that makes me feel alive is dancing. I find every opportunity I can to dance. Whether it’s raining, music or no music, while shopping – it brightens my soul and makes me feel alive.

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

I think that moving to America for my undergraduate studies was one the biggest obstacles and adventures I embarked on. The culture shock and being away from home (alongside several different personal experiences) made me understand that self-love and acceptance of the different experiences that I have been affected by are what make me who I am. It has transformed me into the woman I am now. I have found strength in times of weakness, determination in times of despair, and love in times of pain.

What have you learned from self-love?

I have learned that I am my biggest supporter and I am stronger than I know. Self-love has taught me that in order to heal I need to accept, and once I have accepted I can begin building my foundation for empowerment.

 

Nakshidil’s LYFF Collage:

Here’s a little more about the photos she selected:

Top Right – “I was giving a speech at an event during my time as Student Government President of UM-Flint: The photo reminds me to never lose track of my passions, goals, and objectives. It reminds me that impossible is nothing and that if you set your mind to something you can achieve it as long as you have the will power to do so. It’s a testimony to my intense year as president, but in that moment it all made sense because of how happy I was doing what I love to do.”

Bottom Left – “My family back home. My rock. My foundation. My constant. They are my biggest motivators and support system and I wouldn’t trade them in for the world. This photo is a reminder to never forget my roots, my culture and the important people in my life.”

Bottom Right – “I’m in Mauritius on the beach (it was a gorgeous day out, the clouds were stunning, the sun was shining bright, and the sea water was crystal clear). It reminds me a lot about the simple pleasures in life. Sometimes you need to just take a break, kick off your heels, let your hair loose, and feel the moment.”

 

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Nakshidil. You are definitely a Phoenix Rising!

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

Miriam_LYFF[thephoenixrisingcollective]

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 adventurous Phoenix is Miriam:

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

Loving myself is a complicated thing and sometimes I’m exceptionally bad at it. I think the secret (and the challenge) is finding ways to live in the moment – to let go of versions of myself in the past and the versions I am worrying about in the future. That’s really hard to do, but the goal is to forgive myself for being human, to accept my flaws, to work to address them, and to live my life developing into the best human being I can be. Doing all this is like watering your garden and warming up it with golden sunshine in spring so that you bloom into your own unique flower.

There are values that are sacrosanct, that define what a healthy, fulfilling life is for me. If I’m not feeling fulfilled then I’m unhappy, and if I’m unhappy then I’m not taking care of myself in the ways I need to feel that. For example, being upfront about my needs with people can feel really awkward because I’m not used to doing it. I’m an INTJ/INFJ – very internal, and I don’t like conflict (see Emotional Intelligence Assessment). But I learned the hard way that if I don’t speak up for myself about what I want and honestly try to engage others to find a solution that works for both of us – whether it’s something as minor as scheduling where and when to eat lunch or as major as figuring out how much of a salary I deserve – the price I pay in the end can be very high emotionally and even physically.

It can also be little things like telling friends, “I am not being social for a few weeks so I can get the emotional charge time I need.” I used to feel really ashamed and “not normal” about that, and then I realized that if I am happier when my batteries are recharged then who is to say what’s “normal?” Nothing terrible happens if you ask for what you need and what you’re asking for is reasonable and doesn’t harm anyone else. You just have to find ways to be respectful and loving of the people in your life as you find ways to be respectful and loving to yourself.

Miriam[3]

Miriam’s impromptu trip to Santorini.

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

I love learning and travel. My mind is hungry for stories. I’m a writer and a reader, and although I do love to read I am always curious about the esoteric, but in a practical, real-life sense. I don’t want to find it in a book. I want to travel there, and see and smell it for myself!

Also, I’m always trying to get better at practicing meditation and mindful living. Sometimes I think meditation is a moment between thought and action versus sitting for prolonged periods of time in silence. I try to find those moments between prefrontal cortex and id, between action and reaction. I find I’m able to love myself and others more when I’m in that moment.

I also like to;

  1. Play video games – I love RPGs and first-person shooters like Call of Duty. It’s super relaxing and also engaging in a way that TV isn’t for me. It also relieves stress.
  2. Dance – Hula/Tahitian, bellydancing, hiphop. I take UJam. It’s fun to be in my body and just move without restriction, I feel like in our workaday lives we are generally discouraged from remembering and being IN our bodies.
  3. Improve my health – I’m on a mission, so there are a lot more vegetables going on in my life than there used to be. It’s a new challenge figuring out how to cook a variety to keep from getting bored, but I know my health is worth it!

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

I come from some difficult family relationships that were effectively abusive throughout my childhood, emotionally and sometimes physically. Somewhere in there as a child I realized that if I didn’t love myself the way I wanted to be loved and seek out the love I deserved from other good spirits in the world, I wasn’t going to ever find it. That sounds a bit despairing, but I knew it in my soul with the power of a child’s boundless hopefulness. I knew that I would love and be loved the way I deserved to be and that it had to start with me.

What have you learned from self-love?

I’ve learned that loving myself is the key to real happiness, and that the only person who can truly bring me happiness is me. Loving myself fills me with the strength I need to love others. It’s an elliptical battery that serves power both ways: Love yourself, fill yourself up with good; share it with the world and it comes back to you.

When my battery is full I am at my best – creative, energetic, and connecting with others in new and exciting ways. I’m kicking butt, taking names, and never doubting my success. I grow into a better version of myself, evolving at a faster rate than when I am preoccupied with unhealthy things or people that take me off my path.

Miriam’s LYFF Collage:

Here’s a little more about the photos she selected:

Top Right – “I’m hosting an indulgent Birthday Party/Halloween Extravaganza for my friends and I in San Francisco. I chose this because it shows me goofing off but also glamming up. I believe it’s healthy to celebrate yourself sometimes, and have a little fun with it.”

Bottom Left – “This is an impromptu trip to Santorini by myself. When it isn’t blazingly sunny, it’s brutally windy and a little rough on the hair! I booked a room to write in for one week with a great view. It was a chance to recharge my soul and mind. I strongly believe in taking these moments when I can.”

Bottom Right – “On a trip to Koh Samui, Thailand taking a cooking class at a local’s home. I was making coconut milk from scratch! (We even shredded the coconut!) I chose this because it’s me in my element – comfortable and doing something I love while learning something new.

 

To learn more about Miriam check out her travel and culture blog: Black Girl Abroad. It’s “stories, plans, and opinions from an American girl seeking adventure!”

Thank you for sharing your LYFF story, Miriam. You are definitely a Phoenix rising!

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

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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 courageous Phoenix is Tonya:

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

I love myself first by learning to take care of me and recognize that I need to practice giving love to myself as much as I do others. It means I have to be more in tune with myself.

I pay closer attention to signs when it comes to my body, my mind, and my soul. For instance, when I can barely drive home from work in Washington, DC to my home in Maryland, due to exhaustion, that is my cue to get home, eat lightly, take a quiet, relaxing bath, and immediately go to bed and sleep as long as I can. I also release stress by taking long walks and/or going to the gym for an hour. When I am done, the stress dissipates. While walking, I thank God for all that He created and has given to me.

Our brain handles a lot of information. There’s a dark side and a light side. When the dark side creeps to the front, I shut it down quickly by focusing on things that are going well. The negativity that creeps up is when that voice tells you cannot do something: “You’re not smart. You’re not qualified. You’ve messed up.”  I shut it down quickly!  Negativity has a tendency to consume us if we allow it. I try to keep my mind away from negativity. Even when I hear gossip, I attempt to steer the conversation to something positive.

My soul is my heart. I’ve allowed it to be hurt many times because I trust until someone gives me a reason not to trust them. I’m not that way anymore. I now put my total trust in God, and I’m more protective of my heart. By being this way, I do not get hurt as easily as I used to.

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

I have a closer relationship with God now. I give Him all my cares. I exercise to alleviate stress and keep myself fit. I read motivational books that empower me to keep moving forward to fulfill my dreams. I spend quality time with family and we have movie nights and catch up with one another. Sometimes, we take walks and just talk. I also have date-nights with my partner. Although we have busy careers, we make time to be together and enjoy each other’s company.

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

Trusting people was my biggest flaw. As I trusted, I was disappointed over and over again. I believe I trusted others more than I did myself. It’s a big difference when you begin to trust and rely on God. My second biggest flaw was that, as my mother puts it, “People know where your buttons are.” As a result, people that I trusted knew how to hurt me because I showed my vulnerabilities. When I began to love me, I no longer allowed people to know where my buttons were to be pushed. I became stronger.

What have you learned from self-love?

Self-love is the most critical element of love. You cannot give love successfully until you learn to love yourself first. Now that I love myself, I’m more protective over me. I’m not as vulnerable or as accessible to being hurt. Self-love simply means loving who you are – and that’s what I do.

 

Tonya Barbee is author of The Little Girl Inside: Owning My Role in My Own Pain. She’s excited about encouraging others, particularly women, to find their way during transgressions and to never, ever, give up. She lives with her two youngest of four children in Bowie, MD. Check out her website:  I am Still a Rose.

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

 

Faith_LYFF

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.

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

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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 Tanu:

 

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“I read books on spirituality from around the world, attend weekly seminars, and meditate. I indulge in creative activities; I paint and sketch because it’s like meditation.”

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

Loving myself first means that I pay attention to my needs and ensure my progress, growth, and experiences as an individual.

I love myself first by taking care of my health: mental, spiritual, and physical. It also means to respect my time by focusing my energy on fulfilling and nurturing relationships. I surround myself with people who respect me and friends whom I can count upon.

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

To take care of my mental health, I push myself out of mundane and repetitive tasks and put myself in new and challenging environments. I play puzzles and games and maintain a healthy social life.

To cater to my spiritual needs, I follow the teachings of a live Spiritual Master.  I read books on spirituality from around the world, attend weekly seminars, and meditate. I indulge in creative activities; I paint and sketch because it’s like meditation.

I stretch twice a day. I love the outdoors: biking, walking, and hiking. I am a vegetarian by choice, and I don’t have a sweet tooth. I eat home-cooked food with fruits and vegetables, and I have a nutritionist in the family who is always available for sound advice about food products and the nutrients in them.

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

Spending a year being bed ridden and then bouncing back to life made me empathetic. It also made me respect my time, energy, and every moment spent without being in pain. I understand the real meaning of living every moment.

I suffered immense pain for six long years with a deteriorating back and hip joints mobility until I was finally diagnosed and given the right treatment for arthritis which had destroyed both my hip joints; by then I had been completely immobile. This was the time when a few things happened to me: One, the realization that a disabled person’s life is really hard. A lot of people don’t seem to give it a thought. I used to be one of them. Two, emotional pain, that of my parents. I saw in their eyes the look of helplessness as they watched me suffer. They were more miserable than I was. This made me look for solutions even more aggressively. Three, realizing that we are all fighting or have fought silent battles, and some struggles are not visible to the naked eye. We should always make an effort to be kind. While I look very normal from the outside – no bruises, no cuts, no bandages – within it’s not the same. Never judge.

What have you learned from self-love?

Self love is one of the most empowering facets of my life. If I love me, I can then take care of my surroundings and people who surround me.  It gives me confidence and immense inner peace. This helps me take on challenges in life, and also make balanced and courageous decisions.

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

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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 courageous Phoenix is DeDe:

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

Loving myself first means – putting myself first and being okay with it.  I have always valued my self-worth and put effort into keeping my mind fed with spiritual and positive affirmations and pampering myself at home/spa, etc.  I always knew God made me unique, and I’ve embraced my blessings.  The blessings I was foolish not to embrace in my younger years, I’ve learned to smother with a huge Bear-Hug today!  I love me, and that is why I’m always striving to have a center of peace, happiness, and love overflowing from my being.

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DeDe, LYFF Phoenix Feature, “I’m learning to live for what makes ME happy.”

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

Unplugging from the “in thing” to do helps me center my mind and spirit.

Give me a great novel, tea, and quiet time to myself – just me, my thoughts, and positive affirmations or soft music – and I come out of this peaceful place freshly revived! Reading also allows me to get lost in an adventure while blocking out life’s distractions (work, social media, errands, etc.).

Exercise rejuvenates me, too, in so many ways; and it’s one of my biggest stress relievers. Dancing is self-expression and makes me feel free.

Spending time with positive women also makes me feel alive!

Having a church home helps me start the week in touch with my faith and provides spiritual rejuvenation.  It’s also my check-and-balance for the life I want to live, along with daily morning and evening prayer to center and nourish my mind, body, and soul.

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

An obstacle I overcame was learning to say no to things or people that do not enhance my life.  I’m learning to live for what makes ME happy.  I learned by going through a divorce how to make better choices for the right reasons.  It was a difficult decision, but because of the experience it strengthened my friendship with my ex-husband and gave me deeper understanding to ask the following questions: (1) What would I do if fear wasn’t a factor? (2)What is the lesson in this experience?

What have you learned from self-love? 

In the words of the late, but great Whitney Houston  I’ve learned “…Learning to love yourself is the GREATEST love of all.”

 

Thank you for sharing your LYFF story with us, DeDe. 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.