The Phoenix Rising Collective

Inspiring Women. Empowering Change.


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It’s Time to Let Go: Here’s a Self-Care Challenge to Help You Do It!

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“In the process of letting go you will lose many things from the past, but you will find your Self, rooted in awareness and creativity. Once you have captured this, you have captured the world.” -Deepak Chopra

SEPTEMBER IS HERE! Are you ready to let go?

The phoenix has the power to heal herself when hurt or wounded, rising from the experience stronger. She burns fiercely and reduces to ashes to emerge a new bird.

During this time of the year, a change of season, particularly fall, I especially think of what the phoenix symbolizes: transformation, resilience and renewal.

As we gently move into the new season, think about your own transformation. Like the beautiful fire bird what will you release in order to grow and emerge anew? How have you persevered this year? Been resilient?

I have a self-care challenge for you: This month reflect on the questions above and also jot down what you are going to release. Yes, get a journal, answer the questions as honestly as possible, and also write the following affirmation: I am letting go of____________.  (Fill in the blank.)

Honor your stream of consciousness by letting whatever comes to mind flow through you. Here are examples: I am letting go of hurtful experiences of the past. I am letting go of body shame. I am letting go of financial dysfunction. I am letting go of control. There isn’t a specific number of affirmations to list; you may stop writing when you feel ready to put the pen down. Significant breakthroughs happen in the process and you will physically feel lighter because you are affirming to the universe that you surrender. It is a declaration that you are clearing space to manifest what you really want.

Be willing to let go of what’s weighing you down. This is preparation for gaining strength to keep moving forward, to ascend, to shine, and to rise brilliantly.

NEXT WEEK:

I can’t wait to share with you what I am letting go of; I also have an additional self-care challenge that accompanies the one of above, so get ready!  Be self-love in action, Phoenix. You got this!

Happy September.

 


 

Ayanna_Prof_Headshot[Mktg_Phoenix2]Ayanna Jordan is the founder and executive director of The Phoenix Rising Collective, and the editor-in-chief for Phoenix Shine, The PRC’s online community. She has always had a passion to empower women, especially through writing, coaching, and teaching. She is happy that Phoenix Shine offers resources and provides awareness on what it means to truly love who you are. From forgiving others (and yourself) to taking time for spiritual practice, this forum is all a part of the journey to authenticity. Right now, she is most inspired by the LYFF series and She Makes It Beautiful. You can also learn more about Ayanna HERE.

 

 


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It’s Love Yourself First! Friday: This Phoenix is Tanu

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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 motivated and courageous Phoenix is Tanu:

 

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“I read books on spirituality from around the world, attend weekly seminars, and meditate. I indulge in creative activities; I paint and sketch because it’s like meditation.”

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

Loving myself first means that I pay attention to my needs and ensure my progress, growth, and experiences as an individual.

I love myself first by taking care of my health: mental, spiritual, and physical. It also means to respect my time by focusing my energy on fulfilling and nurturing relationships. I surround myself with people who respect me and friends whom I can count upon.

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

To take care of my mental health, I push myself out of mundane and repetitive tasks and put myself in new and challenging environments. I play puzzles and games and maintain a healthy social life.

To cater to my spiritual needs, I follow the teachings of a live Spiritual Master.  I read books on spirituality from around the world, attend weekly seminars, and meditate. I indulge in creative activities; I paint and sketch because it’s like meditation.

I stretch twice a day. I love the outdoors: biking, walking, and hiking. I am a vegetarian by choice, and I don’t have a sweet tooth. I eat home-cooked food with fruits and vegetables, and I have a nutritionist in the family who is always available for sound advice about food products and the nutrients in them.

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

Spending a year being bed ridden and then bouncing back to life made me empathetic. It also made me respect my time, energy, and every moment spent without being in pain. I understand the real meaning of living every moment.

I suffered immense pain for six long years with a deteriorating back and hip joints mobility until I was finally diagnosed and given the right treatment for arthritis which had destroyed both my hip joints; by then I had been completely immobile. This was the time when a few things happened to me: One, the realization that a disabled person’s life is really hard. A lot of people don’t seem to give it a thought. I used to be one of them. Two, emotional pain, that of my parents. I saw in their eyes the look of helplessness as they watched me suffer. They were more miserable than I was. This made me look for solutions even more aggressively. Three, realizing that we are all fighting or have fought silent battles, and some struggles are not visible to the naked eye. We should always make an effort to be kind. While I look very normal from the outside – no bruises, no cuts, no bandages – within it’s not the same. Never judge.

What have you learned from self-love?

Self love is one of the most empowering facets of my life. If I love me, I can then take care of my surroundings and people who surround me.  It gives me confidence and immense inner peace. This helps me take on challenges in life, and also make balanced and courageous decisions.

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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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SELF-LOVE TIP OF THE DAY: Be Your Biggest Supporter!

Why are you concerned about what other people think? What do YOU think? This is what’s important, especially when it comes to your own dreams, goals, or desires; it’s you who has to believe in them more than anyone else. You have to support them before anyone else will. Invest the time and energy (often spent worrying about what others will think or how they will react to what you want) on constructing a plan of action for that project you’ve been putting off; that book you want to write; that business you want to build; that promotion you want to ask for; that big trip you want to take. The support you’re seeking starts with you; the rest is a direct reflection of where you’re choosing to focus. Have your own back! And then, watch what happens; you will be aligned with like-minded people, directed to positive opportunities, and placed in empowering situations that support the awesome vision you have for your life.

 

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It’s Love Yourself First! A Mother’s Day Tribute

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It’s Love Yourself First! A Tribute to Mothers. Usually we celebrate our self-love stories on Friday; however, because we’re honoring our mothers we’re doing things a little differently by sharing our first story on Mother’s Day. Since May is their special month (although every day of every month should be a celebration of motherhood), we’re dedicating LYF to them.

We asked three mothers to participate; they agreed, so we asked them thoughtful questions about self-love, and they eloquently answered with wisdom!  So, over the next couple of weeks in May you’ll hear profound stories of resilience, courage, and love from seasoned women who embrace change!

Our hope is that you will be inspired by their journeys, and realize that your mistakes, challenges, and obstacles should not be viewed as failures but invaluable lessons that (when learned) most certainly make you stronger and more capable of fulfilling your purpose.

The first self-love story is from Shirley, mother of the Phoenix Rising Collective’s founder, Ayanna. She shares how she learned to move forward after several physical and emotional challenges in her life.

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

It means that I make time to take care of me, as it is essential for rejuvenation and balance. It helps with making decisions that respect what I value most in life.

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

I usually start with meditation to get my mind right for the day; giving honor to the Higher Power in my life is important to me. In addition to that I always take at least one day out of the week to pamper myself. This could be getting a manicure/pedicure, shopping on my own for items that are creative, working on projects that I love like sketching, arts and crafts, making costumes for my Sunday school students’ plays and musicals, watching sunrises and sunsets, and most recently going to my local fitness center to work with a personal trainer. I do things that bring me peace.

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

Speaking up for myself! The older I get the more I value speaking up for what I believe in. I don’t let things go by. When I was younger, finding my voice was always a challenge. I felt like if I said something it would hurt the other person’s feelings, but now I consider myself in the situation, and I honor what I bring to the experience.

Another challenge for me was regular visits to the doctor’s office. I wasn’t going as often as I should out of fear of the results and not valuing its importance. When I had to have a biopsy on my thyroid and a cyst removed from my left breast (both were benign), I made a vow to keep up with my doctor’s appointments, because longevity is important to me, and I also want to be more in tune with my body’s rhythm.  I kept faith, and pulled through those health scares. These difficult experiences gave me the courage I needed to commit to my physical health.

Divorce at an older age was also difficult, but it made me stronger. I realized that I stayed married for as long as I did (almost 20 years) because I was in love with the idea of being married, not the person. Fortunately, I recognized that truly loving myself meant that I had to do what would make me happy, and getting a divorce was the key to opening that door.

I prayed for the marriage to get better, but what the Creator really wanted for my life wasn’t going to happen until I moved forward. I knew that, but gaining the courage to take the first step was the hardest part of the process. Honestly, I didn’t think I would make it but I did. I’m a survivor!  I love my independence; it provides an opportunity to really get in touch with my own feelings, to understand what I need from a relationship, and to have new experiences that really fulfill me. It has been five years now, and I’m happy with where I am and what I’ve learned.

What have you learned about yourself from being a mother? How has it helped your personal development?

Above all, I’ve learned patience, communication, and compassion. Motherhood is challenging and rewarding at the same time, just like life, and as a mother you have to treat each situation you’re face with differently depending on the circumstances or even the child that you’re having the experience with. The same is true of my personal development; I have to be patient with myself, communicate about what I want for my life, and have self-compassion in the midst of the ups and downs along the way.

What have you learned from self-love?

That it absolutely matters that I put myself first; I won’t have anything to give if my well is dry. I’m more compassionate and understanding when I take care of myself. It gives me the energy to give to others. I can be of more service when I haven’t forgotten about my own needs.

Happy Mother’s Day, 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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Shades of Deeper Meaning: Thoughts on Love, Loss, Resilience, and Poetry

For National Poetry Month I have chosen to interview three poets whom I have had the pleasure of getting to know. I want to showcase the spirit of this art form through their life experiences. What I hope you will notice is the very unique voices that shape these women. I asked all three the same questions, but the way they chose to answer reinforces the power of how humans identify themselves as individuals, social beings, and collective forces. I also observed that the women, as unique and individually powerful as they are, spoke of similar experiences: pain, resilience, change, and appreciation.

Andrea Daniel

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Who are you?

I am a totally creative person – all arts, culture and entertainment, with a splash of communications. My dreams/vision for my life have never changed since I was a little girl, which means I’ve always been into poetry, singing, dance, theater, writing, video production and voice over work, but my left-brain and right-brain work in tandem, because I’m also a business owner. I have to split my time and mind between the creative and the business side. I am a woman who thrives on positivity, putting it out there and getting it back. I’m a mother of a wonderful 22-year old son who is also a creative type; I am a sister, a daughter, friend to a close circle of like-minded people; a woman who loves to laugh, and a pet owner of a sweet little 13-year old terrier mixed with poodle.

Primarily I’m a writer, as most things I do stem from the realm of writing.

Please share significant moments in your life that really defined your poetic artistry.

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Click photo for more info about
Andrea and Like Gwendolyn.

While I’ve always written poetry, I believe my voice was the strongest in my years of recovery from domestic abuse. In 1992, I left my abusive husband of four years, taking my, then, two-year old son with me and moved from Maryland back to my hometown, Detroit, MI. Needless to say, I wrote a lot of poems after I left; poems about abuse and its effects, and poems about my son when he’d have to leave me for long periods of time because a judge ordered that his father have visitation rights. This was a very painful time for me. My only response was to write about it. Those poems are published in my first poetry book, Like Gwendolyn, and while the entire book is not about abuse, it’s those poems and the poems about my son that tend to resonate most with people.

One of the greatest experiences I’ve had was after graduation from Oakland University in 1985. I worked on a cruise ship, the S.S. Emerald Seas, which was part of the eastern cruise line (I don’t think it still exists). I was part of the five-member song and dance act, TiChand, performing as the floor show on the cruise ship, five nights a week, two shows a night. I was the only American along with four Canadians, and the only Black person in the group. We sailed from Miami, Florida to the Bahamian Islands. I felt like it was exactly what I was supposed to be doing at that time in my life; there was nothing about it that felt foreign to me. Our contract was for six months, but because I have a minor heart condition, which flared up during my solo performance one night, my stay was only for one month. I will never forget it.

Another highlight of my life was after I left my marriage back in 1992. In addition to writing poetry, one of the things that was a great distraction from the upheaval of my life, was the opportunity to write and be the lead vocalist on a House music track called Stars, which was produced by the internationally known House music DJ/producer Carl Craig. My cousin was dating Carl at the time, and she recommended me to work with him when he needed a songwriter and a singer on his newest project. We recorded two tracks, which both became very popular in the House music scene here in the U.S. as well as in Europe. A surreal thing about that experience is, today my son is a House music DJ, and people he knows in the industry still have high regard for the music I did 21 years ago.

Do you have a favorite poet, writer, and/or artist?

(Andrea extensively spoke of many poets, writers, and artists.) Here are two:

Gwendolyn Brooks. She was one of the first African American poets I was introduced to as a child. The clarity, rawness and lyrical nature of her writing had a big impact on me. I’d met her twice in my life, once when I was 10. She autographed a copy of the book The Black Poets for my father, which I still have. And again I met her while I was in college when I attended a Master Class she conducted at Oakland University. She was a very direct and thoughtful woman.

Nikki Giovanni. One of my favorite books of hers is Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day. From Nikki I learned that poetry can be fun, serious, and well, Nikki Giovanni is just an awesome poet and woman. I’ve heard her speak twice, and it was from her that I also learned to cure writer’s block: learn more about [your] subject, read something, study something, then the words will come.

Shilpa Venkatachalam

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Who are you?

I am from, Bombay, India. I left India when I was 20 years old. I completed my Masters in English Literature at the University of Durham, U.K. and followed it with a Ph.D. in literature and critical theory at the University of Nottingham, U.K. where I also taught briefly. I currently teach literature and philosophy at the University of the West Indies, Trinidad. Suffice to say, I am, however, at a crossroads in my life and am soon to make a switch into the area of public health and policy fueled by a desire to make a difference in the area following the experiences that resulted from my father’s diagnosis and recent battle with cancer, which came to a close a few months ago.

How do you identify yourself in terms of your artistic craft?

As a writer, writing is simultaneously one of the most difficult things to me and the most ‘natural’ because it is through writing that life unfolds itself; it is through writing that moments of clarity, epiphany, whatever one chooses to call them present themselves to you in order for you to chase them through dark alleys, winding roads, and serpent like pathways.

It is always a hard thing to say what one’s poetry is about: life, love, disappointment, betrayal, faith, regret, pleasure, pain, ecstasy – all of these and yet none of these. For if I could capture what it is all about, I would perhaps not write at all. Writing is the very quest; it entails a process of searching and chasing, a curious struggle to articulate the unsaid, incomprehensible. And in that attempt, a hope to find at least a glimmer of understanding and of capturing. That, at least, has been my hope.

Please share significant moments in your life that really defined your poetic artistry.

Life, for me has been full of surprises and unexpected twists and turns. There comes a point in your life when everything comes to a head, when one difficult situation is relieved by another one. The past three years for me have been a testimony to this; from my own serious illness, to my fathers battle with advanced cancer and his subsequent loss, weeks on end spent in the critical care unit, and the loss of a close friend, and then my own crisis as a result of these events – a crisis of the self, a crisis of what life really means, a crisis of relationships and people. It seemed nothing would give.

But through all this, one begins to understand oneself; one begins to realize the dignity and strength of people who suffer and see the suffering their loved ones are going through; one sees a remarkable humanity and empathy that ironically shines through when people are going through the most testing times of their lives. This fantastic ability of people to pierce through, beyond their own pain and reach out to the other has been most inspiring to me. The renewal of faith in life and in people is unrivaled, stunning, magnificent and nothing short of remarkable. There is also the transience of all things in life, something I continue to battle with to understand, an urge to grasp it, to embrace it, to resist it, all at the same time.

Do you have a favorite poet, writer, and/or artist?

As far as favorite writers or books are concerned, I find myself gravitating toward them depending on where I am in life at that particular point: what experiences I am going through or have gone through, what my philosophy at that moment is. Everything is a process of metamorphosis, so it could be mountaineering books, it could be Borges, it could be Graham Greene, it could be Em and the Big Hoom. Different writers, different books touch and impact me at different points in my life.

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A Poem by Shilpa Venkatachalam:

Here and There

You want guarantees,

I can offer you none.

Like a subatomic particle I exist in two different states simultaneously

I am wave

And I am particle

And come into being only for an instant that disappears before it has decided to stay.

I’m already planning to leave you before I have even met you.

I’m already preparing to destroy before I have even created.

This is my tragedy and this is my bliss

I am clothed in contradictions

Like matter and anti-matter

I am immersed in inconsistency

Before I have committed

I know I will deceive

I cannot offer you what I do not possess

I cannot possess that which you want me to offer to you.

To sustain anything is a challenge I am unable to meet

Every second explodes with a million alterations

That invade my being

And that make it quiver.

How can I offer you a guarantee

When I have never known what it means.

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 Jan Worth

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Who are you?

I was born in Canton, Ohio to a preacher and his wife in 1949. My mother was 39 when she had me.  I have a sister who is ten years older than me, and I have a brother who is seven years older than me.

Lately I’ve been thinking about the endurance of one’s very first impressions of the world.  My world was full of people who were bigger than me.  They were imposing figures but nobody was quite happy.  I was surrounded by people who were fairly ill at ease and who made a lot of decisions about me. I didn’t really experience the world as a place that I had control over.  My job, it seemed, was to bring slivers of joy into this rather depressive unit.  Apparently I used to hold my breath until I blacked out to get their attention.  I remember only one of these episodes.  On the other hand, I somehow felt like I wasn’t really “one of them” and so I always assumed whatever was going to happen to me would have no connection to them. I was surrounded by religion, scripture, religious music, words – and my poems have a lot of the iambic pentameter of the King James Version in them.

My family always expected catastrophe:  my father’s father was killed during the Depression and his family lost their farm.  My mother’s father was a traveling evangelist who was always leaving, leaving, leaving, and her mother lost her mind.  I’ve gradually learned that the worst doesn’t always happen.  That’s been a great relief.

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To learn more about
Jan and her novel, Night Blind,
click the photo.

So, this avoids the question of who I am now.  I am just letting go of those first impressions of the world.  Not everyone else is bigger than me.  It is not my job to make everybody else happy.  I do not want to continue carrying my mother’s grief – she is dead.  I am profoundly in love with using words – I recently used the phrase “sanctimoniously reasonable” and I love how that sounds, and how perfect it is for what I meant at the time. That kind of thing gives me deep pleasure.

I am a woman who’s learning to breathe.  I’m a woman who’s gradually trusting my rhythms and my deep inclinations towards words, but I know words aren’t enough; sometimes, the body knows things – sometimes silence is best.  I’m a woman trying to be in the moment, as the saying goes. I know I can’t be alone all the time, and one of my greatest pleasures is sleeping with my husband.  I mean actually sleeping – the physical refuge and comfort of our conjugal bodies together.  I’m a woman who doesn’t know much of anything for sure.  I think the earth is spectacularly beautiful and I wish we weren’t ruining it.

How do you identify yourself in terms of your artistic craft?

See above – my ear is pretty closely attuned to the cadences of the old scriptures and hymns, even if my content isn’t always. I love working with sound; I want my poems, even the depressed ones, to be melodious. I love interesting words.  I am continually touched by the “natural world,” by air and fragrance and new growth.  I still generally believe in the individual ‘eye’ and ‘I’ although I know a single voice often isn’t enough.  But it’s what I have to work with.  Protestantism is very centered on the individual – on the individual’s private and rightful relationship to God.  In my case, I’ve taken that to mean I have the right to doubt.  And believe me, I do, and feel no guilt.

Please share significant moments in your life that really defined your artistry.

I was at Kent State University when the shootings happened in 1970; it was a turning point for me, making me believe the world was dangerous and sometimes short. I felt quite reckless for a time after that. Peace Corps in Polynesia shaped me in that I took myself on a giant adventure and survived it – I’ve written so much about that that I don’t have much more to say.  Flint has affected me, too, of course – the continual wrestling with its troubles, my first marriage to a Flint man and poet; the deterioration and collapse of our long marriage, the ruin of the place.   And then, discovering the joy, in my 50s, of a man who loves me – wow.  It’s been the biggest surprise of my life, and I’m profoundly grateful.  I’ve had to learn how to write happy poems.

Do you have a favorite poet, writer, and/or artist?

One of my first literary faves was the South African short story writer Nadine Gordimer.  I remember reading one of her short stories when I was about 14 or 15, working as a library page in Coshocton, Ohio.  I remember just standing in the stacks and reading a story where a lonely woman watched a herd of deer – it touched my heart and I thought, wow, you can write like that?  I also love the poems of James Wright, Theodore Roethke, Robert Hass, Adrienne Rich, Elizabeth Bishop, Heather McHugh, Marianne Boruch – many, many, too many to name. I’ve recently been reading Mary Ruefle’s essay collection Madness, Rack and Honey and I’m crazy in love with it.  I like poets who understand the human condition is totally complicated and exasperating, and who doubt the world and love it simultaneously.

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A Poem by Jan Worth

Missiles, October, 1962

My parents said

we should get new tires

in case rubber got rationed

again.  I caught the scent

of fear. Rubber burned the air,

left dismal grit

on Akron’s windowsills.

My mother went to bed,

middle of the day, sleepless,

sweating there for hours.

Rising, she seemed as tired

as before, blanket dents

on a cheek, hair flat on one side.

She left it like that.

I got my period, red splash.

Crawled into my parents’ bed,

rare day when my mother didn’t

get there first. Nestled

in the pride of new pain,

snuggling it, my own.  Got

my first bra, small poking

breasts tender to the touch.

“Little missile girl,” my father

cracked, looking at me mournfully

as if I was about to disappear

in some uranium half-life.

“Stop it,” my mother said.

I didn’t believe the world

would end.  There was going to be

plenty of time for me, to revel in

my vivid hurts, my lucky changes,

my charmed survival after

my mother and father were history.

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tcphoto_cw2Traci Currie is a Communication Studies lecturer at University of Michigan-Flint, as well as a knit-crochet artist, writer, and spoken word performer. She has been a part of the art world for over 15 years as an art gallery board member; spoken word series organizer for 5 years; performer, nationally and internationally; and published poet. She believes the PRC will help young women reach their highest potential.  “This organization is about empowering women to take ownership of their lives, claim their identities and be the positive change they wish to see in the world they live.”