The Phoenix Rising Collective

Inspiring Women to be Self-Love in Action


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It’s Love Yourself First! Friday – Today’s Phoenix is Nava

This beautiful Phoenix is Nava (lovely name, too, right?). She shares her self-love story with us by compassionately giving some thoughtful daily self-care regimens and words of wisdom that can build a stronger sense of spirituality, balance, and of course, love for your life.

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 Nava_LYFF[collage]_2Just like a flower needs water to grow, it’s important to learn about the things we need to nurture ourselves in every way. This means loving myself for all the good that I see, and accepting my flaws and the fact that I am IMperfect. This doesn’t mean that I don’t learn, change, and grow; it means that I am gentle and kind to myself in spite of it all. It also means being able to look in the mirror and fall in love with the Divine reflection of me.

 For most people, self-love can feel unnatural, but caring for myself requires consistent routines; for example:

  1. Staying spiritually centered
  2. Eliminating self-criticism
  3. Being kind and positive
  4. Acknowledging my efforts
  5. Expressing gratitude
  6. Having compassion – even with those that don’t deserve it
  7. Letting go of worry
  8. Trusting and forgiving myself even when I’ve messed up
  9. Being completely and nakedly honest with myself, and accepting all that is and comes with who I am

 

Love by any definition of the word (kindness, affection, respect, sensitive attunement, and shared companionship) is not only hard to come by; it is even more difficult to accept. Fortunately, I’ve had the pleasure of having wonderful and loving friendships and relationships, but over the years I’ve also invested time in black-hole relationships – relationships where the energy I gave was not returned, and I ended up highly disappointed and hurt. Because I put so much time and energy into loving deeply without reciprocation, I went through emotional pain and bouts of feeling rejected. More so, when someone was loving towards me, I’d experience conflict between their perception of me and my core identity.

I reacted with suspicion and distrust because my fear of intimacy was provoked. Luckily, I quickly snapped out of these challenges earlier in life and began to accept and love myself; this led to the ebb and flow of some wonderful and meaningful relationships. Now when I recognize that a relationship I have isn’t serving me well – whether it’s personal, platonic, or professional – I release it and let go.

I’ve learned that it’s necessary to take inventory of my relationships and the things that affect self-love. We are a nation obsessed with how we physically look (we diet, go on nutritional binges, and detox in an effort to look and feel good on the outside), but if what is going on emotionally does not match our spiritual desire, we can never attain the level of self-love we deserve.  Our equilibrium is off when a split between our divinity and humanity has taken place, but if we can learn to trust and hear the inner voice of love – we’ll experience deeper and stronger self-love that will lead us beyond the boundaries of our short life, to where God is all in all.

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Below Nava shares why she chose the photos for her self-love collage:

SUNSET – I am blessed and humbled to be able to have an amazing view of the sunset from my apartment deck. When I moved into the space it was a direct manifestation of what I’ve always wanted – a constant reminder to me that the simple pleasures in life are not as far away from us as we’d like to think.

MEDITATION – Every morning I go to a lake right by my job to meditate. It’s so peaceful and quiet, so this is where I begin my morning, and talk to myself with kindness and the certainty of my own soul.

WORKING THE HILL – Self-care is a part of loving who I am, so in addition to exercising my mind and soul, I include physical exercise. After coming to California from the East Coast I’ve been more active, enjoying Mother Nature and what it offers.

GREAT LOVE – My partner (pictured on the left) is my best friend and confidante. We’ve been together 14 years, and she’s one of few people that truly gets me.  Our relationship wouldn’t work if it weren’t for the fact that love is the true expression of our own heart’s energy. There is intensity in how we love ourselves first but each other unconditionally.

KINGDOM – Finally, I love the quote by Ajame, “Let no one enter your inner kingdom unless they come with love” because I’m a firm believer that the most life changing growth anyone can experience is learning to completely love, to let go of conditions, and to believe in themselves.

 

Happy Friday, Phoenixes! Love yourself fiercely.

Love Yourself First! Friday is a weekly self-love series created by the Phoenix Rising Collective. Beautiful, diverse women of color tell their stories of triumph, share their personal affirmations, and declare their love for their own 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 – Today’s Phoenix is Ashley

Ashley_LYFF[collage2]This beautiful Phoenix is Ashley, and she loves herself first by never giving up on her personal growth and   dreams. “My motto is: ‘Get better every day’. I am open minded, and I love new experiences because I learn so much about myself and what I didn’t know I was capable of,” she says.

When it comes to a personal routine, Ashley makes sure to incorporate some form of spiritual practice, so she prays every day because it’s very important to her. In addition to strengthening her faith through prayer, Ashley discovered yoga a few months ago and thought: “Where have you been all my life?!” because she feels it could have saved her a lot of stress if she’d started sooner! “I am so happy to go to class once (and sometimes twice) a week,” she expresses.

Ashley’s openness to life has also changed her definition of beauty; she returned to natural hair and loves taking care of it, as well as trying new styles. “It’s such a beautiful journey that has changed the way I define beauty for myself and others. I’ve inspired many of my friends to embrace their natural beauty as well.”

This inspiring firebird’s quest to get better every day doesn’t stop there! She is also a pescetarian. After getting sick with an unknown gastrointestinal (GI) disease, Ashley stopped eating red meat in college. She stopped eating all other meats almost four years ago, and the process has completely changed the way she feels. “I’ve not been sick with GI diseases since making those changes, she says. I pay a lot of attention to what I eat and do because it has a direct correlation to how I feel – so simple, yet so true.”

A common theme in Ashley’s self-love journey is positive change, and she’s also learned it through the power of letting go. About a year and a half ago, she went through a rough breakup with her child’s father. The situation deeply hurt and emotionally scarred her, and it took a long time to understand how she was supposed to move on with her life. Fortunately, with help from wise, loving people, she eventually learned a lesson from the experience; she forgave herself and him. “I must admit that I am a better person because of it. I have redefined what it means to be a single mother. I am just so empowered by the fact that: no, I didn’t plan to raise my daughter as a single mother, but yes, I am going to make the best life for us,” she happily shares.

Ashley chose three photos that demonstrate self-love in action, and in one of them (top right) she’s standing outside the apartment she rented right after the breakup with her child’s father. “To me it means so much, she says. I overcame. I could do it alone even though I didn’t think I could, especially with the help of God.”

This Phoenix’s courage to embrace change in all aspects of her life is beautiful. Well done! We are inspired by her commitment to living the life she wants, and so happy that she shared her self-love story with us.

Happy Friday. Love yourself fiercely!

Love Yourself First! Friday is a weekly self-love series created by the Phoenix Rising Collective. Beautiful, diverse women of color tell their stories of triumph, share their personal affirmations, and declare their love for their own 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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Making Positive Change Happen in Your Life: Awesome Tips and Creative Ways to Achieve Your Personal Goals

simone_aisha[quote]New Year’s resolutions, almost everyone has made one. But the beginning of the year doesn’t have to be the only time to make changes or set goals. It’s important to think outside of the New Year’s box about resolution making. We all have various strategies for making changes. See a change that needs to take place in your life? Hop on it, no matter what month it is.

Working toward achieving a goal should be a daily practice. We’ve all felt overwhelmed when it comes to completing tasks and achieving goals. Breaking down your goals into daily pieces can also help prevent becoming overwhelmed by them and can give you the space to ease into lifestyle changes.

 A to-do list can be a useful tool for achieving daily goals:

  1. Write down what you need to accomplish and do not remove it from the list until it is done!
  2. Hold yourself accountable for every item and reward yourself for completing it.
  3. If for some reason a to-do item cannot be accomplished, make it the very first item for the following day.
  4. Write a message at the top of your list that will encourage your completion of each task.

 

Our favorite encouragement quotes?

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These messages serve as constant reminders that you do, in fact, ‘got this’ and that your power comes from the work you do. So, get out your notepad and werk!

Making a to-do list isn’t the only way to set and achieve your goals. When we have goals that cannot be accomplished in one day, we look to other tools for growth and development, such as a vision board.

A vision board is a great way to visualize your purpose and long term goals:

  1. Break out your favorite magazines.
  2. Cut and paste pictures that reflect your journey onto a large poster board.
  3. Hang up your vision board in a place that you visit every day so that you constantly see your plan for development.
  4. Track your progress.

 

There are tons of ways to visualize your goals and life path. We recognize that creating to-do lists and vision boards, can also be overwhelming. Where do you start? And what happens when you can’t get anything done? How do you lose the stress and get back on track? Answer: We can’t tell you, because you know YOU best. As PhD students, researchers, and instructors, we are constantly on the go. We forget to eat, sleep (which is totally optional in graduate school), and sometimes we forget our to-do lists at home. And then there are moments where we get sidetracked taking self-portraits and posting them (and photos of Ice-T and Napoleon – our cat and dog) to Instagram. These things can make achieving our goals overwhelming, so constantly checking in with ourselves is what gives us room to breathe and get back on track.

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Simone’s Personal Altar and Vision Board
Photo Credit: Simone Savannah

Make time to check in with yourself and affirm your spirit. Create a time for reflection. Before (or after) you break out your favorite M.A.C lipstick and lip liner, really take time to reflect on who you are as well as your desires and needs. This “me time” may help you realize the changes you need to make and how you may choose to go about making them. Additionally, create a space for reflection. Try decorating a table with your favorite pictures (of yourself and loved ones), affirmations, and letters. Visit this space every day. It could serve as a starting point for your day, and a reminder that you are powerful and loved by the most important people in this world.

We believe that setting goals and affirming one’s spirit are necessary for growth and development. As we approached the New Year, our own self-reflections and our friends constantly reminded us that changes needed to be made. We knew that last year’s goals needed revising and that a new year meant we had to throw out old lipsticks and invite something new into our lives. So, today, as you work on completing tasks and taking care of you, we also encourage you to ask yourself, “Turn down for what?” Perhaps who we mean to quote is Maya Angelou when she says, “I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.”

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About the Contributing Writers:

simone_writer[shine]Simone Savannah is an English instructor and contributing writer for the Project on the History of Black Writing at the University of Kansas. She is currently pursuing a PhD in English-Creative Writing and Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies. Her poetry is based on personal experiences she can’t let go—imagined or otherwise. Simone also enjoys making green smoothies, attending Bikram Yoga classes, and laughing uncontrollably. 

 

aisha_writer[shine]Aisha Upton is a first year PhD student at the University of Pittsburgh, studying Sociology and Women’s Studies. Her research interests: Black women in service organizations and violence against Black women. She is passionate about many things including community service, lipstick, baking, thrifting, knitting, and being a proud owner of a Cockapoo, Napoleon. At the intersection of being a diligent student, a fashionista, and an activist – you will find Aisha, attempting to find a balance.