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 Leisan

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

I love myself first by working to live my most authentic life. To me, this means being true to who I am and speaking my truth. I started coming out as queer (lesbian) right after I graduated from college. While a lot of my coming out journey has been loving and supportive, there have been definite bumps in the road. I’ve had to continuously remind myself that regardless of other people’s opinion, I am worthy of love, which starts with loving myself first. As I’ve continued to embrace and love all of who I am, my voice has gotten stronger in advocating for myself and for others. Every time I speak up for myself or for others, I feel better about who I am.

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

As the mom of a two year-old, self-care is hard. I need to be more intentional about my own self-care so that I can show up better for my daughter. Actions that demonstrate the self-care I do provide for myself are napping and counseling. One of the best pieces of advice I received when I became a mom was “nap when she naps.” It sounds easy, but when you have a list of things to do and the option to take a nap, there can be guilt when you decide to sleep. For the sake of my self-care, I nap when my daughter naps. I am a better person, and I function better when I have had sleep. Counseling has been important especially over the past two years. In less than 1.5 years I had a lot of changes happen in my life: I got pregnant, had a baby, lost my mom, resigned from a job I loved so I could move back to my home town, and started a new job. With all of these changes, especially the death of my mother six weeks after the birth of my daughter, I needed someone to talk to. I didn’t realize it when I first started, but I was/am definitely battling depression. I know that mental health is something that is often not discussed in the black community, but consistently going to counseling has provided me with good self-care for my mind and my soul.

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

There are two challenges I’ve overcome (and am still overcoming) that continue to lead me to a deeper love for who I am: coming out as a queer black woman and becoming a single queer mom. I love who I’ve become as a queer black woman. With the current political climate and the way folks seem to be coming out of the closet in terms of their racist and/or homophobic beliefs, it has been difficult. However, I continue to remind myself that their loud opinions do not define me, and that I am an amazing woman. In terms of becoming a single queer mom, it is the best decision I have ever made. I knew my biological clock was ticking, so I decided to get pregnant before I couldn’t. I know for sure that I was born to be a mom, and I love who I am as a mom. I am re-defining what some people may think of as a “traditional” mom, and now that I am in a good, loving relationship, we are re-defining what some people may think of as a “traditional” family. I love who I am and who the three of us are as a family.

One of Leisan’s favorite photos with her daughter

What have you learned from self-love?

I love loving others. However, I have learned that the only way I can effectively love others is to start with loving myself. I have also learned that it is okay and necessary to be intentional about self-love. I have to schedule time to take care of me and know that it’s not selfish, but in fact, the best way for me to survive and thrive.


Love Yourself First! Friday. Phenomenal women who fiercely and unapologetically demonstrate self-love in action share their stories – powerful, honest, heartfelt stories that shed light on diverse ways to make self care, healing and whole living daily priorities.

Join the tribe! Share your story. Send an email HERE.  Just put “My LYFF Story” in the subject line of your email, and you’ll be contacted by the Phoenix Team with details on how to participate.