Love Yourself First! Friday is an interview series featuring phenomenal and resilient women who share their self-love stories. The stories are vulnerable, honest and heartfelt, shedding light on how life’s challenges bring a new level of self-acceptance and how making daily practical self-care practices a priority deepens self-love. You’ll find comfort in knowing you’re not alone when it comes to figuring out how to love yourself.
About our featured Phoenix: Traci is not new to this community, as she was a contributing writer for over two years curating the Artist Feature series, interviewing women creatives who cultivate agency, healing and happiness through fulfilling their unique passions. Traci is an accomplished teacher, visual artist, writer and published poet.
Here’s her powerfully open and honest LYFF story.
How do you love yourself first? What does that mean to you?
I take myself out on personal excursions or dates. I go for walks in nature. I go to specialty yarn shops, and before the coronavirus pandemic, I used to treat myself to consignment shopping sprees. However, things have changed. I find myself analyzing what it means to love myself now, minus the shopping sprees. I make things with my hands (i.e. knit, crochet, weave, write, construct journals).
I get in touch with my physical body. I don’t take baths often, but when I do, I soak in warm water mixed with lavender and certain oils. And I pay attention to how my skin feels in water.
I also spend time looking at my skin and paying attention to the changes that this body is going through. I am becoming more in touch with the ripples and skin overlap, hair growth in unique areas, skin discolorations. I have conversations with these parts of my body. I find different ways to compliment this brown avatar suit I used to criticize harshly. In addition, I am learning to detach from such a physical way of loving self. The detachment allows me to heal from past hurts.
What actions demonstrate the self-care you provide to your mind, body and soul?
I LOVE things connected to supernatural, mystical creatures and third-eye-thinking, so I find myself watching movies and TV series that revolve around such interests. It entices my mind. I am drawn to narratives that explore identity beyond social norms. Self-care is recognizing that I do not fit into a peg hole. I do not have to follow norm; I can pay attention to heart and soul and know that I am okay and safe and loved. This usually happens when I am with like-minded hearts and when I am steps away from certain belief systems and philosophies used to condemn, criticize and destroy others.
I love hiking. I love good food; this includes healthy eating as well as foods that people may not consider healthy. My favorite desserts are bread pudding and cheesecake. And I love eating salads, my mom’s fried dumplings and dad’s jerked seafood gumbo.
I love giving speeches or performing poetry, although I get crazzzzy nervous right before I share. The nervousness serves as a sign to PUSH THROUGH. Pushing through is a self-care act, because when I am in the midst of delivering a poetic message, I know I am being used as both a vessel and an offering of love. That doesn’t mean the message will make people warm and fuzzy. It simply means I am sharing my love language and truth with an audience.
And finally, I am becoming more comfortable with talking to and with myself as a self-care act. I am becoming my own best friend.
Is there an obstacle or challenge you’ve overcome that led to a deeper love for who you are?
I have learned to remove myself from spaces, environments and people who trigger me negatively. Some triggers are signs of growth. They aren’t meant to be harmful. They serve as wake-up calls. Other triggers are harmful, such as speaking to people who consistently complain or gossip or swirl negatively through their actions. Some people create a space of fear and anxiety. When I witness it or when I am in the midst of it, I acknowledge it and work towards removing myself from the space or the person(s). That may mean that I have to cut chords (i.e. leave a job assignment or lessen the communication I have with someone or stop attending events in certain environments). I am blessed to have a supportive tribe that helps me address these challenges.
What have you learned from self-love?
Self-love has not been an easy concept for me. I have loathed myself blindly and unconsciously in the past. I have shape shifted into so many different beings because I have a tendency to say yes to people’s requests and demands instead of honoring the “Hell NOOO” that is screaming from within.
The exploration of self-love is examining and excavating the self.
- how the self has been shaped
- why the self does what it does
- what the self actually believes
Self-love is literally sitting with self, sometimes in front of others and sometimes alone. The more I get to know myself the easier it becomes to remove the word “self” and just focus on being Love.
Join the LYFF community! Over 50 women have shared their self-love stories; be the next one. Send an email. Just put “My LYFF Story” in the subject line, and you’ll be contacted by the Phoenix Team with details on how to participate.
Ayanna Jordan is founder of The Phoenix Rising Collective. She is a personal development coach creating and facilitating dynamic women-centered, self-care workshops with a focus on how putting self-love into action can transform your life. She also creates training programs and group coaching that empowers women’s professional growth in authentic leadership, entrepreneurship, and passion-filled work. Her interactive, holistic approach inspires action and creates a non-judgmental, safe and supportive space for women to truly explore and affirm who they are, what they want and how they want to do it.