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.
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;
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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.