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 Tanya:
How do you love yourself first? What does that mean to you?
Quite frankly, I have had to learn this lesson over and over again during my youth. When I reached my forties it resonated pretty quickly that self-love is the number one way to navigate the nuances of life. I think of it this way – if I don’t put myself first, then who will? People think this perspective is selfish, but I distinctly recall an episode of Oprah’s Lifeclass with guest – Rick Warren (Author of The Purpose Driven Life). Warren unapologetically said, “One must live for an audience of one.”
Women are taught early to people-please, and I was no exception. I was living an invisible life that I did not have to live. I learned that I was giving myself away – whether in small pieces or big chunks; I never realized there was always a reason behind my actions. So, I have created my own Bill of Rights for how I take on love, life, and relationships that include the element of self-care. One of those commitments is honoring self. I am valuable and should not allow myself to be diminished. What does that mean for me? In every encounter I will acknowledge my emotions.
Another defining moment was becoming a mother. It changed me completely. I am the single mother of a 17-year old daughter. Unbeknownst to my child, she has helped me on my self-love journey. She gave me enough strength to leave bad relationships behind and be a role model. There have been many times that I have left a relationship because it did not honor me as a woman. Life is too short to not be with others who are liked-minded and display acts of love.
What actions demonstrate the self care you provide to your mind, body, and soul?
I read a lot of books on spiritual development. I also go to church, as often as my schedule permits, but when I am not able to attend I listen to the word wherever I am. To remain focused and for a renewed sense of confidence to make it through life’s challenges, I read books by many spiritual leaders. Being a single mother, I also teach my daughter about God and how she can cast her cares on him.
I am also an advocate for well-rounded health. In an effort to bless my temple, I eat healthy, and in February I became a vegetarian. While I might not keep up this practice, I don’t eat red meat or pork and have not done so for over 17 years. Every day I make proper food choices and incorporate drinking plenty of water for optimum health.
I work out at least three to four days a week. Even when I have a busy day and am tired I still try to work out. It is during these times that I must do a little self-talk to stay encouraged. I love the benefits of working out; I’m able to maintain my weight for my age and height.
This discipline helps me stay well balanced in all areas. I believe I started working out more at 40 because I noticed that my metabolism shifted, and I also observed that for women, maintaining good health is so crucial. Working out should be a lifestyle for any woman, at any age.
Is there an obstacle or challenge that you’ve overcome that led you to a deeper love for who you are?
Yes, (1) The loss of a loved one can create a space (sometimes so empty) that I have to truly examine life; it is but a flicker in the wind. Losing a loved one makes me cherish how special a person really is.
And, (2) Before I can truly love another person, I must learn to love me. It sounds cliché but at times I have purposely refrained from relationships to get back to the basics of creating a loving space for me. Honestly, I am actually in that space right now. As women, we are givers. I want everything and everyone around me to be happy but for some unforeseen reason this expectation does not include me.
Lastly (3) My advice is to never be fraudulent. Every conversation is a relationship, so when my vessel is full, I take time to listen to music, recharge and get back to the middle. I have also learned how to be a sound gatekeeper of self.
What have you learned from self-love?
Self-love is the greatest gift that I can give to me. I must always stand up on the inside – displaying love for myself in countless circumstances. I must stand up on the inside before I can stand up on the outside by doing the work to be more loving and kind to me. I am not always good in this area, but when I find that I am not, I try to create a little self-space to get my focus back in order.
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.