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 Tathina

LYFF_Tathina[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 wholehearted Phoenix is Tathina:

I am learning to love, accept, and allow everyone freedom to simply be…however they are in the moment.

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“I am in peace with being alone. I would not have thought this could be possible for me years ago though! Aloneness is different than loneliness. Aloneness is innate to each of us. We are connected through this Love-space.”

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

I was taught, like many of us were taught: to put others before Self, to put myself last after everything and everyone else. Taking care of myself was seen as selfish and wrong. With this social conditioning, I felt like I needed to be punished or perfected because I wasn’t okay or good enough as I was. I wasn’t allowed to simply rest in the moment. Some goal always needed to get done first and I had to postpone this deep rest I was yearning for. For years I tried to do this. I tried to put myself into a box of “doing it right.” I tried being what I thought others wanted. I sought to please others and to also help others through studying psychology in college. But during my senior year, I realized that I was not fulfilled. I had a lovely mask on. I may have tricked others into thinking I was happy, but I was far from it. I realized I was not giving myself love and seeking it outside of me. I truly didn’t know how to love anyone else because this love was not discovered within me yet. I sought to find true fulfillment through relationships, spiritual paths and texts, careers, material things – everything that came across my path – but none of it lasted.

Loving myself first means putting myself first. This means not taking care of other people, but really taking care of myself, as only I know what I need and only others know what they need. This means allowing myself to be however I am in the moment, and allowing myself to feel however I feel. It means not fighting with fear, but using it as an invitation to really discover what cannot die in the moment. Self-love is stopping when I know I need to stop. It is allowing mistakes and not trying to be perfect. This means ignoring the idea that I am not good enough.

What I have discovered is that when I love myself first, put myself first, cherish the Life that is expressing itself through and as me, this is inspiration for others to do the same.

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

I am always learning how to take care of myself more in all areas as Life guides me. Meditation has been a blessed key – not just sitting for a few minutes and then going back to giving attention to the thoughts and stories in the mind for all the other hours in the day (though it definitely started this way). This is also not meditation where I am striving for something to happen or appear. It is very simple. Along the way, I discovered Satsang, which means coming together in truth or meeting in truth in Sanskrit: Sat means Truth and sangha is being in company. I see my whole Life as Satsang now. I see every experience as an invitation to simply be in the moment, to discover the truth of myself. So, meditation for me is simply being in the moment. We do this by ignoring the thoughts, and using the feelings or the breath to bring our attention back to the moment. To really be in the body grounds us in the present, in presence. This is good for all parts of us. The body gets to relax and simply be. The thoughts are allowed to be (not being fought or clung to). The feelings are allowed to be. Everyone is given this permission to simply live in freedom. Also, being present encourages me to listen more to my body and what it wants or doesn’t want. I listen as to where there is a ‘no’ or a ‘yes’ coming from the truth of the moment. I give myself full permission to simply be a human being, this particular human being, and this particular flavor. Self-care can reveal this peace to us again and again.

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

As I mentioned, after college I was searching for truth, fulfillment, and a way to take off the mask I was hiding behind. I was ready for healing, and I discovered that healing came from letting go of my story of suffering, a narrative I would tell others and myself over and over again. I had hidden behind painful childhood experiences (and experiences passed down through generations); this story of not being good enough, needing to fix myself until I was perfect enough to love. So, I adamantly searched, and Life crushed all my lifelong dreams of going to graduate school to be a psychologist. Life had something else in store and brought me to a point of retreat. Life stopped me, gave me a break, and brought me face-to-face with my true Self as if It was saying, “You wanted freedom and healing so here is this spiritual detox.” I was also being invited to make peace with aloneness. I had been trying to help others through my professional career choice, but the truth was I wanted to really help myself. I can’t help others to discover the tools to nourish themselves if I am not nourishing myself.

I was brought to a challenging point. A lot of resistance and all types of feelings like depression, anger, fear, and everything we feel as humans came for me to finally make peace with them. This was self-love even though it did not feel like it in the moment. Because through feeling my feelings, I took power out of this story of being a victim. The feelings brought me into the moment. They brought me into the space that is unshaken by any storm, by any emotion. I asked for real help at the end of 2012 in a moment of total surrender and was mysteriously led to my true teacher. He pointed me back to this moment where there was no one seeking; there was just infinite peace and love. This love is unconditional and it can be ruthless when it wants to free you from the limitations and chains of the conditioned mind. All the challenges of my Life always bring me to a deeper recognition of the love that is here, the love that I am, you are, and we all are right now.

Through loving ourselves as we are, unconditionally accepting the cards we were (are) dealt, something powerful and mysterious begins to happen that I cannot write about. It cannot be spoken. Only you can experience it for yourself in this moment.

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What have you learned from self-love?

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

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

About Tathina’s LYFF Collage:

These three photos are when I am in nature, meditating, enjoying, simply being and/or playing/exploring – bowing to the mirror of Life’s vastness and Love everywhere (Namasté meaning).”

 

Thank you for sharing your self-love story with the Collective, Tathina. You are definitely a Phoenix rising!

Learn more about Tathina’s journey; she is the author of The Invitation (to Live) (the Truth). Want more? You can also get info about Satsang and how Tathina gives herself permission to just “let go of all the defenses and BE” by following her blog, HERE, for self-love/meditation challenges that mirror some of the practices in her LYFF story.

 


 

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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Your Courage to Share Who You are Creates the Collective [VIDEO]

ThePhoenixRisingCollective

Here’s a little something as a token of appreciation; a thank you to the women who have attended a workshop and/or taken time to share their self-love stories, entrepreneurial leaps-of-faith, transformations, inspiration, strength, and authenticity with The Phoenix Rising Collective.

It’s not easy to share; that’s for sure, but you did it anyway! Your courage and support creates The Collective – like-minded, spiritually conscious women whose actions reflect how much they love themselves. So, thanks for sharing your light and allowing The PRC to be a part of the journey.

It is immensely appreciated.

And if you’re a Phoenix in Columbus, OH or surrounding areas join us at our self-care workshop – The Fullness of Me: Spirit-Affirming Self-Care Practices for Women Ready to be Self-Love in Action. It’s an opportunity for you to connect with yourself and form connections with other Phoenixes. So, let’s retreat before the busyness of the fall season arrives. Make yourself a priority. Get registration details, HERE.

Now, take a look at this video! It really is all about you. Continue being self-love in action.


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

Santana_LYFF_Collage

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

Loving myself means making consistent intentional choices every day that place my well-being first. It’s a philosophical practice that manifests in almost every facet of daily life. For me, it’s been evolving as my life and my demands have transitioned from college student to working professional.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned regarding self-love is that I cannot and should not think of acts of self-love as an indulgence, but rather as necessary maintenance. I am at my best when I place my personal care first. This was a surprisingly difficult shift for me to make and maintain. It requires a lot of work, but it’s the best kind of work. I had to expand my definition of personal care to encompass a variety of activities that make me feel my best, and allow me to take time to focus on nurturing my mind, body, and soul.

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Santana and her dog, Cassie, after a hike.

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

When I’m feeling down about myself, I find a quiet place and repeat (out loud!) the mantra “Although (insert reason I’m upset or anxious), I love and accept myself completely.” It’s a striking physical and emotional experience to say that out loud. I’ve learned to own and accept my reactions and feelings, while reinforcing my self-love. I’ve learned I must take ownership of how I feel about myself. I am the only person who validates me.

This year, the most important change in my self-care ritual has been taking care of my body. I spend much of my work week sitting at a desk. When I was in college I spent much more time being active and walking and so physical activity was much less of a concern. This year, I noticed that my mood was becoming more variable, and my daily anxiety level was growing, so I decided to start making efforts to temper that. To be my best self I must make an effort to show love to my body by using it and learning about all the wonderful things it can do.

Yoga has been a transformative and complete self-love activity. Two to three times a week I spend an hour or so focusing on my body, my breath, and my soul. I love that yoga is non-competitive and that I have so much freedom in practicing it. Yoga can be modified to any skill or mobility level and the goals are personal. So often, we’re critical of our bodies and yoga is my favorite way to temper that negativity. Every movement is intentional and self-loving. I’ve gained so much confidence in myself through it—not because I’m particularly good at it, but because I’ve learned to be okay with not being successful at some poses. I can be a perfectionist, and yoga is a time for me to fail, and come out on the other side feeling proud of myself for just trying my best. In my last class, I fell over at least three times! I didn’t feel judged by anyone else there though, and I didn’t judge myself either—actually I found my failures kind of endearing! Philosophically, yoga has taught me about the importance of effort and surrender—I can place my full effort into anything, and because of that, I can feel okay about surrendering the results to the forces that be. This thinking is very helpful for my inner perfectionist and “control freak.”

Hiking is another way that I can work my body in a non-competitive and fulfilling way. I live in a rural area, and there are plenty of trails that match my comfort and skill level (which is fairly low). I can set my own pace when hiking, which I love. I bring my dog, Cassie, and we can bond through the activity. My favorite part is reaching the top and feeling like I’ve succeeded. Through setting physical goals for myself and then reaching them, I gain confidence and love myself.

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Bell peppers – Santana’s garden

The act of cooking is another way I nourish myself completely. I live in a different state than my family, so one way I can feel close to them is through cooking recipes that my mother and grandmother have taught me. If I’m feeling homesick, making a favorite meal is a way to temper that. These recipes are a gift that they’ve given me and that I can share with people close to me. I’ve taken more initiative with my diet by adopting recipes that are not only tasty, but healthy too. When I sauté kale, garlic, and beets, I know that I’m providing my body with strength, nutrients, and something yummy, that’s empowering!

Eating healthy is doubly exciting when I cook the vegetables I grow in my own garden. How fulfilling to till, plant, cultivate, and harvest your own produce! I maintain my connection to the Earth and nature and I remind myself of the sanctity of food. I feel like a shepherd to my garden and my vegetables. After spending all day inside an office during the work week, I love to kick off my shoes and walk barefoot in the soil while tending to my plants.

One of my most important self-care actions I practice is allowing myself to be silly! I embrace having solo dance parties (in the printing room at work, in my car, or the kitchen while cooking dinner). If I catch myself being critical of my reflection in the mirror, I’ll start making silly faces at myself until I laugh. Part of growing up for me has been learning to take care of myself in an internal way and being silly is sometimes the best medicine.

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

For a long time I wrestled with my racial identity. Largely because the way others viewed my racial identity varied so much depending on what part of the country or the world I was in. I’ve always dreaded the “what are you?” question because my answer is so complicated and normally the person asking isn’t looking for an answer that’s been 23 years in the making. Although it is still a work in progress, I’m learning to embrace the fluidity of my identity. Rather than thinking of myself as an outlier or outsider because of my varied experiences, I’ve learned to see it as a tool through which I can more easily connect with a wide range of people. Through changing my perspective, I’ve learned to see my experiences as empowering rather than exclusionary. I’ve learned that I don’t owe an explanation to anyone regarding myself, and the way that I navigate my identity can be personal, unique, and special. Developing and naming my own agency in potentially marginalizing encounters has been a huge step in my own self-care.

What have you learned from self-love?

Self-love spills over into all other aspects of our lives. When you’re at your best, you provide so much more positivity and light. In many ways self-love is the best act of kindness. I’ve learned that if I want to have meaningful and beneficial relationships, self-love needs to be my top priority. I think in many relationships, the idea that “I’ll take care of you and you’ll take care of me” is common and potentially detrimental. That mentality can lead to a lot of pressure, false expectations, and resentment. I’ve found that in reality, the better philosophy is “Because I love you, I’ll love, take responsibility for, and care of myself.” Self-love translates into healthier, more supportive partnerships. It’s the foundation to a beautiful life.

Santana’s LYFF Collage:

We asked Santana 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 AND below, because they were too inspiring to just choose three or four) of the awesome images she wanted to share.

Santana selected these images because “these photos make me proud of myself. In these moments I was trying something new, enjoying outside, or being exuberant and joyful. These are moments where I felt truly alive and in the moment!”

santana_collage_2[the phoenix rising collective]

Thank you for sharing your self-love story, Santana. 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 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 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.