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

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

I think that ‘loving yourself first’ starts off with being real with yourself (and others) about who you are – and accepting it. Whether that be certain elements of your personality or some feature on your body, accepting that this is the way you were designed to be and you are beautiful for it (even on your worst days). But I am also a firm believer in challenging yourself, because this is where we stretch and we grow the most. I’m not just referring to the cliché version where you challenge yourself to “be strong, be bold, be you.” While these are great qualities that we should aspire to possess, let’s start with tangible things that can be achieved daily: challenge yourself to drink more water, to look up a new recipe, to learn to play a musical instrument, to read a book that disagrees with something you believe in. The possibilities are essentially endless in this area – which is one of the reasons I love it so much. There is always room for improvement, and I have found that the more I improve in the little things, the better I feel about myself. This is the primary way that I have ‘love(d) myself first’ this year.

What actions demonstrate the self-care you provide to your mind, body & soul?

I set aside 30 minutes every day to read and journal – this is my time to unwind from whatever activities I had going on that day and just focus on me and my thoughts. I try to dedicate my reading time to books that will challenge something I believe in, and then I journal my reasons behind disagreeing with the author.

Exercise is obviously a must! (I try at least 20 minutes/day, 5 days a week) It’s a great way to get all that negative stress out of my body, as well as boost my self-esteem.

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

Growing up I always struggled with the feeling that I wasn’t enough: I wasn’t smart enough to make my parents proud or to get into a certain class (or university). I wasn’t pretty enough to make a boy like me or to get invited into certain friend groups. I wasn’t talented enough for anyone to notice something I was doing. Right about the time I was a senior in high school was when I realized if being enough meant being perfect – I could never achieve anything I wanted to do or lead the life I wanted to live, so now I love that certain things don’t come easily to me; it means I will always have the opportunity to learn. I love that I can be confident in the way I look, because I know that I was created this way, and there is not a single woman on this planet who has the same eyes that I do, or the same nose, or the same smile.

What have you learned from self-love?

There is always room for grace while you grow.


Love Yourself First! Friday is an enlightening interview series featuring the stories of phenomenal, resilient, and inspiring women who share how they are unapologetically self-love in action. The powerful, honest and heartfelt stories shed light on diverse ways to make self-care, healing and whole living daily priorities. You’ll get advice and tips you can use for your own journey, and find comfort in knowing you’re not alone when it comes to figuring out how to love yourself.

Join the tribe. Over 50 women have shared their self-love stories with the Collective. Share YOUR story. Send us an email. 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.


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

How do you love yourself first?

I love myself first by understanding that I must take care of my mental, spiritual, and physical health to sustain in a world that attempts to drain me. I have learned over the years that I teach others how I value me. I know if I don’t take intentional time for me, then others will not respect me or my time.

I love myself first by remembering these three things:

  1. I APPRECIATE my journey. I cannot look at someone else’s blessings and long for what they have.
  2. I PRACTICE what I preach. As a solo parent of three (19, 14, 12), it is imperative that I show love for myself. If I am not demonstrating to them how to love, how to cherish, and how to use their voice, they will not learn.
  3. I look in the mirror each day and tell myself, “Today’s a NEW day. Let’s go get it!”

What actions demonstrate the self -care you provide to your mind, body, and soul?

Ahhhhhhh, I love this question! I am an educator, a poet, and an avid reader. I have an endless supply of Post-it Notes I keep handy because my mind is ALWAYS spinning, thinking of new ideas or new quotes. I LOVE QUOTES, especially motivational ones. I have “stickies” everywhere reminding me of special prayer requests, thoughts, and reminders of who I am! My favorite is “I AM LIGHT.” This is penned from a song by India Arie that reminds me that I am light, and who I am is reflected in all that I do. I am who I say I am. No one can define me or label me.

If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive. -Audre Lorde

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

I didn’t realize until the past year that I suffer from depression and anxiety. I am a person who will work and work and not ask for help (because I believed no one wanted to). I would hold in emotions until I was ill. I have in the past year gone through probably one of the darkest years of my life. Years of holding emotions and thoughts in and not being who I needed to be for me, finally manifested into a complete breakdown. My health suffered. I gained 30-40 pounds. My professional life suffered. And worst of all, I didn’t think I was worthy of being blessed with life. I have learned through positive affirmations of family and friends, through taking time to be still (waiting for God’s voice), and through being intentional with my life and goals that I am light and love. My steps are divinely ordered. I just needed to step into the shoes I was born to walk in.

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord; and he delights in his way. Ps. 37:23

What have you learned from self -love?

“Love…so many things I’ve got to tell you but I’m afraid I don’t know how…” I LOVE this song from Musiq Soulchild. I listen to it a lot because the lyrics tell of unconditional love, the kind of love that we need to have for ourselves. I have learned that self-love is needed to sustain, and sometimes I have to take time out to love on myself and to love on others.

I have learned that I am called to be a “servant lover” of others in order to be content. I immerse myself in my non-profit Young PEARLS (a mentoring group for young women ages 14-17). I continue to perfect my writing and speaking skills with my company TraSpeaks, LLC, and I pour into the students I work with on a daily basis. I enjoy building up my community and partnering with others who love to do the same.

I have learned that self-love is self-confidence. I have always been bold, fearless, and opinionated. These attributes are what make me, ME, and I love it.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise… Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear I rise…Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise. I rise. I rise. -Maya Angelou


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.

Join the Collective on Facebook and Instagram.


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

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

Loving myself first begins daily in the morning with gratitude at the realization that I was given another day to fulfill my purpose. That means thanking God for breath in my lungs to authentically live on purpose. Recognizing that I am fearfully and wonderfully made gives me the liberty to love myself as I am and as I evolve.

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

My daily walks in nature are a part of my exercise routine for self love. It provides an opportunity without distraction to examine my life and the things in my environment. I make this a priority before I start my routines. It provides so much clarity to sort out tasks for the day, too. My mind is at its most open state on my walks, and that allows me to take in all the positive things I see in nature while on the Metro Park trail. It inspires me to give this positive energy to others.

Entering my 40s has been a motivating factor to make conscious decisions about healthy eating. Living consciously has really allowed me to see and feel the benefits of healthy eating. Whole foods that have grown from the soil have been my saving grace when it comes to self love. It has provided me with a clear mind, less aches and pains, more energy, and weight management as a bonus.

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

The biggest obstacle I have overcome is not believing I am enough. There was a time that I would nitpick myself to the point of stifling enjoying what life had in store for me. In my late 20s I discovered the book One Day My Soul Just Opened Up by Iyanla Vanzant. The book required writing daily to some tough questions I had to be honest about and accountable for. My soul did open up, and I began living and loving myself. It pushed me not only to love myself but also make changes to become and grow in the direction of my best self. There were a few bumps in the road but that was acceptable because I was growing and evolving.

What have you learned from self-love?

I am enough.

I’m in competition with myself to become my best self.

I’m worth fighting for.

I’m my best self when I take care of myself first which, in turn, makes me available for others. This is the most positive selfish thing I can do.

I’ve learned to nurture self-love with positive people, music, news, books and experiences.

Self-love has taught me to try new experiences outside my comfort zone. (Yoga. I actually love it!)

Self-love has taught me that it’s okay to fail.

Self-love has taught me to say yes more and to say no without regret.

The biggest lesson for me is that it’s powerful to love others. Truly loving others is a reflection of the love you have for self.


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.


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

 

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

I love myself first by checking in to see what I need to do in order to feel like me. I believe that life’s challenges and stresses can sometimes distract us from what we really enjoy about life and from what’s important to us.

Loving myself first means taking care of myself. Self-care in its many forms helps me get back to that true state where who I am and what I want are clear to me. Sometimes self-care is just maintenance and other days it’s recovery from life’s obstacles and distractions.

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

I find that yoga can really help me check in and monitor why I’m feeling the way I am and what I can do to remedy it.

Sometimes talking with a loved one can really help ease my mind and work things out in my head.

It can also mean going on a hike or a run with my dog, reading a book, or watching reruns of a favorite show. Other times I feel the need to be more productive and creative, and that to me is self-care, too. Cooking, doing chores around the house, or even taking care of some work that has been on the back burner can feel like self-care.

I think sometimes it’s the things I don’t do that can contribute to a distracting feeling of stress and lead to not being able to really connect with myself. It has also been extremely beneficial to me to figure out what I need physically on a daily basis to feel good. A good workout of some kind, vegetables, and at least seven hours of sleep are essential for me.

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

There have been several challenges that have eventually led me to value qualities in myself that I either hadn’t recognized before or had seen as flaws.

One challenge was quitting smoking for good. It was a habit I tried to kick several times and finally something inside me just changed. I tend to retreat when I’m dealing with an internal struggle, and I do not like to ask for help. So, when I decided to quit that’s exactly what I did, and I’m so glad. I used to see my self-isolation as a negative trait, but through that situation I learned that it’s how I heal myself sometimes, and that’s okay. I love that I have that strength within me.

Another challenge was moving to a new city and new job, then realizing too late I made a bad decision. In our society, we really put a lot of value on persistence and not giving up on a challenge. This is especially true for women when it comes to relationships and for everyone when it comes to careers. I would characterize myself as a resilient and persistent person but only to a point. It’s something I saw as weakness for a long time, but I love that I recognized I wasn’t getting out of a situation what I was putting into it and did something to change it. It’s a quality I have tried to cultivate because I see it as a strength.

What have you learned from self-love?

I have learned from self-love that it is something we must consistently work on. Practicing self-love I’ve realized there are forces in our world that profit immensely from our lack of self-esteem, so they work hard to keep us disliking ourselves. I’m sure we can all think of an individual or two who has benefited from someone else’s lack of self-love.

Loving myself and loving things about myself that are easier to dislike right off the bat are a worthwhile endeavor.

With self-love I can be free to live in a way that feels right to me, in a way that allows me to listen to and honor my own needs.


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.

Join the Collective on Facebook and Instagram


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

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

It means taking the time to provide myself with what I need to be my best mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

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

The primary ways I demonstrate self care are starting my day with prayer and reading the bible, yoga, and a cup of tea. It also means taking time to truly listen to my body and give it what it needs. For example,  some days my body won’t practice a preset yoga routine, so I go with the flow.

It is also important for me to eat properly. When making decisions about what to eat, I often ask myself, “How is this going to make me feel in an hour? Energized? Sluggish? Tired?” Live foods literally give me life, so I do my best to start each day with a smoothie containing fruits, veggies, and plant based protein like hemp.

Another way I take care of myself is by being spiritually sound; I am active in church, but more importantly, I have a personal relationship with God. Daily affirmations are also a key part of keeping me focused on self-love and my goals.

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

Self love wasn’t always easy for me. I’ve had to overcome a poor self image, low confidence, and fear. I’ve had trouble loving myself and receiving love from others. Assuming that people would deem me unworthy and walk away, I kept them at a distance. Overcoming these obstacles didn’t happen over night. It took years. I started with refocusing my thoughts; then I moved on to choosing my words carefully. I am the first person to hear my words, and it is my voice I will trust the most on a subconscious level, so I began speaking life, even when I didn’t believe it.

What have you learned from self-love?

I have learned that the journey itself is to be appreciated. I don’t believe there is a “destination” because I am always growing and learning new things about myself every day. If I focus on the “destination” of self love, I’ll miss all the beautiful transformations that happen along the way.


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.

Join the Collective on Facebook and Instagram


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

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

Loving myself first means living a values-based life. When my Dad, Vietnam veteran and hardworking Appalachian man, was first diagnosed with lung cancer I had just started my PhD program in clinical psychology. I had also just lost my Godmother (my Dad’s sister) to lung cancer. I’ve been working toward the goal of becoming a clinical child psychologist since I have been 13 years old. I have had to overcome my fair share of adversity: a late-diagnosed hearing disability, growing up in Appalachia, and being a first-generation college student. This translates into me being a hard-working poor test taker with a purpose to help others from underserved communities.

As I traversed the world of grad school my Dad fought for his life. He was cancer free when I matched for internship 13 hours away from my family. It was the final step before earning my doctorate. Unfortunately, his remission was short-lived. I completed my internship clinical work, working with the population I believe I have been called to work with – providing evidence-based trauma treatments to children and adolescents. As my internship was winding down, I needed to decide where to go for postdoc (the next step needed to get licensed and to solidify my research career). I was at a fork. Do I continue to weave myself tightly within the field of childhood trauma? Or do I move as close to home as possible to be near my family? It is with courage that I chose my family – landing in the stars with my post doctoral career. I value my career, and I value my family and friends just a bit more. Clinical work is emotionally and spiritually draining, but the reward reaped when I am able to help a child, eases the toll to my well-being.

Sadly, my Dad passed away just weeks after moving home. Knowing that I needed these two years to breathe and rest my tired heart, I happily engage my research postdoc. This is why I cannot in good, self-loving conscience be a full-time clinician. Instead, I choose to overcome the funding obstacles of research in a climate that is ever so hostile to science. I will do it with courage and a firm understanding that I am Appalachian, and no one can quiet my voice.

Michelle dancing with her dad at her wedding

What actions demonstrate the self-care you provide to your mind, body, and soul?

Self-care is a series of evolving lessons:

On nutrition: About 8 years ago I stopped eating fast food. I drink almost no soda and try to eat small portion sizes. About 3 years ago, I stopped eating all meats except fish. In the past six months, I started to eat minimal dairy and bread and mostly stick with vegetables, fruits, nuts, and beans.

On exercise: In grad school I started running – an identity I have never really embraced despite completing two half-marathons and several 5Ks and 10Ks. More recently, I have been practicing yoga three to four days a week.

On balance: I try to minimize how much work I am doing at home. I do not check my work e-mail on the weekends. When I am eating dinner, I do not have my cellphone out. I go see my Mom every Sunday when I’m in town. I spend time with friends at least weekly and have coffee in bed with my husband and our two cats on weekends.

On adventure: I travel to see friends, family, and for conferences. When I travel I like to get off the beaten path, go hiking, and learn about the local culture. I also craft, plan and throw elaborately themed parties.

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

Most days I suffer from imposter syndrome. There’s been a challenge at every step of the way in my career path. First I had to catch up with my peers in elementary school to get out of the “slow learners” track and into college prep. Then I had to figure out what being Appalachian and first generation in college meant for me. I then had to score well on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and have enough research experience to demonstrate my commitment to scholarly activity for my PhD program. There’s always been a “next up.” I’ve encountered plenty of people – mentors, elders, peers – who have led me to question myself, my worth and ability. Thankfully, for every one of those folks, I’ve had two others to remind me that I am enough and can do anything I put my mind to.

I want to make the world a better place. It’s always been about “How can I help?” How can I transform the lives of underserved youth by planting seeds of courage, compassion, and inner strength? I am my strongest when I am helping others. It is what drives me to keep going. So, when my Dad was dying, and I spent all those years away from home doing the “next step” I realized that I had neglected my value for spending time with and helping family and friends.

The obstacle of believing that I am enough and can fulfill my life’s purpose without choosing just that over other values has been like taming a wild bear, except I’m the bear and the trainer at the same time.

What have you learned from self-love?

I am learning to have courage. I haven’t always been able to help others; sometimes my path seems like I’ve all but given up on doing that. And while my inner strength does not always shine, I know that I can take breaks to let my mind, body, and spirit heal. Most importantly, my light glows even when it’s an ember.

Michelle shares why she chose the photos in her self-love story:

Father/Daughter Dance – My Dad and I dancing to I Loved Her First. I believe he loved me enough to wait until I was home before passing away so that we could all be together.

My Life Partner – This guy and I are on this journey together. We’ll dance, walk, skip, crawl, and even carry each other on our path.

PhD Graduation Cap – Robert Frost has been narrating my life. I tend to take the road less traveled when I come to a fork. And, oh, has it made all the difference! I still got to where I was going, and I’ll get to where I am meant to be.

Vinyasart – I chose this because it captures my creative outlet – exercise and mindfulness – which all nourish my soul.

 

Inspired by Michelle’s courageously honest and heartfelt story? Share your thoughts in the comments. We’d love to hear from you.


Love Yourself First! Friday shares the unique stories of diverse women 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.

Do you want to share your self-love 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. Be sure to read some of our other inspiring stories.

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ARTIST FEATURE: Giving of Oneself: An Interview with Gretchen E. Henderson

 

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There are some people in this world who force you to ponder your existence. Their mere presence requires you to think about purpose and the intimate details of your life. I met one of those people during summer 2015, when I attended a Kenyon Review workshop in Gambier, Ohio. One of the co-instructors, Gretchen E. Henderson, lit up the room with her attentive heart, her vigorous spirit, and her compassion for the women artists in that particular “Art of Text” workshop. This had been her third co-instructed summer workshop with Ellen Sheffield. And what an inspiring summer it was with these two amazing instructors and a room full of Women Artisans!

I should begin with Gretchen’s occupational identity. Her words delighted me: “I am weary of classifications in general. I tend to call myself a writer who works in the medium of language.”  She is a writer, scholar, and artist who plays with the structure of language both on and off paper. She and Ellen encouraged me to rethink how stories are told, especially in the publishing world.

Dr. Gretchen Henderson tells her students to call her by her first name. She does not focus her energy on titles, but when you speak to her you know the genuine spirit from which she comes. What she calls “rambling babble,” I call “passionate brilliance.” In our conversation she described her “detouring path,” her early experience teaching high school, starting an interdisciplinary program, enacting experiential education, and then realizing the necessity to change. She took night classes in creative writing, then pursued graduate degrees, and now has been teaching at various universities for over a decade. I myself entered the graduate world for familial reasons steeped in a different sort of exploration that focused on worth, but Gretchen responded to a burning curiosity that explores a variety of intersecting disciplines – writing, history, art, music – to name a few.

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This Northern Californian comes from a family who thinks practically. “Art seemed to be something you did on the side,” she said, explaining her upbringing. She trained seriously in music at a conservatory but thought she would go into human rights work or some kind of social work. But the artistry was always there – now unmistakable when you are in Gretchen’s presence. She exudes unconfined energy fluidly spreading across spectrums, genres, and disciplines. She makes you feel like art is central to life, because it seems to be a way of sensing and engaging the world. “Art challenges us to reconsider forms and encounter contents that may be unfamiliar, inviting or challenging us to question and even cross our own borders.”

She posed the question, “What knowledge is valued and not valued in this world?” Then she explained, “Societies often teach us to see things in a singular sort of way – as if certain things and ways are better than others. But when we live through adaptation, we start to understand that there are many ways of doing things, that we’ve inherited preferred knowledges, but that there are equally viable alternatives for living in the world. Exposures to these possibilities often prove more engaging and generous than our inherited versions. People live wholly different but equally valuable lives every day, and we live in a changing world. As we grow, we almost have to unlearn things to understand how we acquired much of the knowledge that we live by and practice.”

This, I believe is one of the reasons why storytelling and voice are so important to Gretchen. With her background as a musician, she explained that narrative and voice intertwine “like sound and silence, positive and negative space, where each comes into focus through relief and being present to each other.” She describes the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi, for instance, a term indicating beauty but whose connotations span the withered, weathered, crooked, aged, and ephemeral – qualities that might be deemed ugly or unwanted. Gretchen spent the past few years writing a book on Ugliness, exploring cultural histories and values, where art and aesthetics entangle with social preferences and practices.

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When I think of Gretchen I think of an endless amount of compassion. We talked about this characteristic, in relation to water and its elemental impact in our lives. Gretchen loves to swim. She learned to swim in childhood but really started swimming in earnest as an adult. Swimming catalyzes mobility, keeps everything fluid and in motion. “Water is a miracle place,” she said. “I feel like things that aren’t possible on land are possible in water. There’s a synergy between water and air,” she adds. “Both have resistance – you start to feel the air’s resistance through Tai Chi and related practices – but water magnifies that sense of dynamic engagement, more tangibly.” She explained that the resistance of water is a positive support that helps the body move past its limitations, get stronger, and engage with a larger environment. She called water a forgiving medium and repeated more profoundly, “Water is a forgiving place.”

This transitioned into the idea of what it means to forgive. “Over time, our bodies accumulate lived experiences: injury, aging, everything that we do. Our bodies can become static, but water and breathing keep things lubricated and moving. The same might be said of our ecosystems. Our bodies are heavily composed of water – after all, we evolved from fish – and much of the planet is water. Water embodies a kind of interdependence.” She explained that the two words “For + Giving” speak to a gift economy. The notion that water is a gift and gives us life speaks to our internal and external development. Wherever Gretchen has lived, she takes regular walks to be near water – whether a river, a creek, a bay, an ocean. She said, “There are all of these incredible qualities that water takes on, absorbing and reflecting light, shifting colors and movements, sometimes calm or windswept. There’s this fundamental property of motion. Water is so much bigger than we are, so at times it can be healing but other times volatile, for instance in storms or tides.” Water reminds her that humans are a small and humble part of this planet. So when looking at the word “forgiving” – or, as she pointed out, the two words “For Giving” – water speaks of being flexible and compassionate, aware of and present to the world that we collectively inhabit.

My own bodily experiences helped me relate to her final comments – an “out of box” philosophy and approach to teaching that allows people to move past their personal limitations – whatever those limitations may be. She connected this to the nature of “productive failure.” We can all agree that failure happens, right? But failure does not have to be terrible. I have learned that the greatest successes sometimes come from catastrophic failures. Gretchen thoughtfully shared, “I think people learn most from their failures. There’s something about learning these limits – how to be flexible around circumstances. When we fail, or when our institutions or our bodies or something else seems to fail us, we learn that we are capable of a lot more than we think we are.” We learn standards to understand how and why they came to be, but when they don’t work, we can learn how to re-imagine our limits or even how to effectively break the rules. This process of engagement produces, what she calls, critical makers. This critical making can extend to anything that we do.

I believe that is the phase I am walking in – to embrace productive failure so I can wake into a new possibility for myself as a person and artist. Gretchen shared that one of her favorite expressions in Spanish is ¿Cómo amaneciste?, which essentially means, “How did you dawn?” This focus on wakefulness turns upside down the English expression, “How did you sleep?” How can I wake to be the artist and person I am called to be? To be fluid as water? To stretch my limitations and learn what it truly means to give as an artist? To give of oneself for giving’s sake? To Gretchen E. Henderson, I am grateful for her giving heart.

 

Inspired by Gretchen’s story? In what area of your life do you need to surrender? Embrace and accept productive failure? Become a critical maker? Forgive? Share in the comments.

 


About the Contributor

traci_currie[contributor]the phoenix rising collectiveTraci Currie is a Communication and Visual Arts 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; performer, nationally and internationally; and published poet. She believes The PRC will help women reach their highest potential.  “The Phoenix Rising Collective 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.” Read more Artists Features.

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