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 Nicole

The Love Yourself First series features phenomenal and resilient women who share their vulnerable, honest and heartfelt life experiences – shedding light on how these experiences bring a new level of self-realization and how making daily practical self-care practices a priority deepens self-love. This Phoenix is Nicole.

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

I love myself by embracing and accepting the woman I am, my strengths and graces but also my faults and falls. I’m an empath, so I strive for balance by being completely honest with my feelings, emotions, and thoughts. Coming to the center, the heart is where I want to be in love, laughter, and keeping it real. If I’m not good to myself, then I most certainly won’t be good to anyone else.

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

My true love is nature, within it I walk, listen to music, meditate, pray, read/journal, capture photos, and give praise and honor to the Goddess and to the Spirit which dwells within the woods. At home I have a sacred space with an altar adorned with items pertaining to my personal journey and the Craft. This is where I pray, center myself, and perform ritual. I adhere to the cycle of the moon by utilizing the New Moon for intention and meditation and the Full Moon to reflect, rest within and give thanks.

I love great conversation, good food and spirits, music, dance, watching movies of all genres, especially a romantic period piece, and a drive on a warm, clear night with the windows down and the music up.

During the day, I like hunting for treasures at thrift shops to put on my style and give as gifts. I also like to soak in the tub with smell goods and to pamper myself with lotions and potions. In all truth, sometimes I punch out the time card to the world and don my soft hoodie, retreat to the bedroom and sleep, ’cause it’s good to dream.

These uncertain times have given me more time to indulge, reflect, and appreciate.

Photo by Nicole. Taken on her nature walk.

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

Accepting myself for who I truly am in spite of what others may think or feel, this was a long, painful process for me because I wanted to adhere to the expectations of what others wanted me to be. Through a lot of learning, personal experiences and loss, I had to take a deep, intense look in the mirror and face myself – the dark and the light. I realized that this is my journey, and I came to it with an open heart, strong mind, and personal conviction. I have always been the person I am, but now I have accepted and understand my unique gifts and talents, and also how to share and celebrate in my own way.  

What have you learned from self-love?

It has given me the strength and courage to be myself and embrace all that I am and all that I will ever be. Years ago someone once asked me what I believed in? The answer was the same as it is now. Love. If I don’t love and accept myself, I can never fully love others. I’d be holding back the best of myself and neglecting the best in them. 

 

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.

Check out the Collective on Instagram and Facebook. You can now watch IG TV interviews with our self-love features.


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.

 


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Your Joy is Non-Negotiable

Take a deep, deep breath and declare that your joy is non-negotiable.

You have a right to experience it, so be diligent about letting it bubble over in your life. (Yes, even during a global pandemic and fighting for justice and against racism. In fact, because of all these things it’s imperative now more than ever that we create light and balance. We have to in order to keep going; our well being depends on it.)

Remember what brings you joy, and unapologetically do MORE of it. Let the joy-filled energy permeate your mind and body, as it is healing and also a revolutionary act.

Happy Juneteenth. Be self-love in action.


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.


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

The Love Yourself First series features phenomenal and resilient women who share their vulnerable, honest and heartfelt life experiences – shedding light on how these experiences bring a new level of self-realization and how making daily practical self-care practices a priority deepens self-love.

About our featured Phoenix:  Tia is full of life and unapologetic in her commitment to being herself; it’s something you recognize right away. She’s real, and her authenticity allows women around her breathing room to do the same. Tia is also a university professor, filmmaker and storyteller; she understands the importance of positive, balanced representation and “uses media to share stories about the lived experience of Africana people.” Here’s her LYFF story:

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

I do not love myself first; however, I am doing the work to get there. For many years, I believed that loving myself FIRST was self-indulgent and filled with shame. As a child growing up in a Baptist Church, I  was trained to be of service and that meant I needed to  be self-sacrificing and other-centered. To be a good Christian, it was my duty to not complain or inconvenience anyone. I am in the process of unlearning this toxic notion, and I am in the early stages of redefining self-love and self-care.

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

I am a filmmaker and storyteller, so to me there is nothing better than sharing a meaningful story.

I love to ride my bike in the park or take long walks while listening to podcasts.

I also embrace pleasures like impromptu sex, and having a glass of wine or a cupcake without beating myself up.

To sustain this life, however, I call up my girlfriends to laugh, cry, sulk, or cheer about my day.

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

I can recall several challenging life moments that resulted in my appreciation for self-love: fighting for tenure, miscarriage, losing a friend, death of family, divorce, hysterectomy and more. Yet I don’t think it was the challenges that guided my personal practices toward loving myself first. When life is challenging, I am trained to go to work and help others – to serve. During my divorce, I suppressed my own frustration and anger to meet the needs of my children. When my Aunt died, my anguish was suppressed by the planning of the funeral and ensuring everyone else was okay. As a university professor, the journey to tenure is all about self-sacrifice and over-commitment. I learned to shift my behavior, to see myself, and to love me when I started dating after my divorce. The process of dating was fulfilling. Since I was newly divorced, I wasn’t looking for long term – just having fun and enjoying life. I began to let go of control and open up to invite goodness and joy into my life. I stopped overthinking and rationalizing. I cared about my pleasure without discounting others. It was nice. And because I invited goodness in, I made room for love. I am now happily remarried and practice loving me first (at least making a large effort).

What have you learned from self-love?  

I am learning to be okay with embracing pleasure for the mind, body, and soul. I understand that to have pleasure and to be joy filled I must attend to my whole self.

Self-love is a process, and it ebbs and flows, but it is essential to make the attempt to love yourself abundantly because it feels so damn good when you do.

 

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.

Check out the Collective on Instagram and Facebook. You can now watch IG TV interviews with our self-love features. 


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.


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

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.

Check out the Collective on Instagram and Facebook.


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.


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Phoenix Book Pick: Coping with Anxiety

This is a right-on-time Phoenix Book Pick, wouldn’t you say? Anxiety usually rears its ugly (and very challenging) head when feeling uncertainty. It can be overwhelming to say the least, so what’s imperative is finding healthy ways to take care of yourself while navigating the unfamiliar.

Coping with Anxiety: 10 Simple Ways to Relieve Anxiety, Fear and Worry by Dr. Edmund Bourne and Lorna Garano is an easy and informative read. It’s the kind of book that becomes a go-to resource when you need a how-to reminder. Coping with Anxiety shares the various types of anxieties, and it’s eye-opening for understanding and identifying where you might fit on the spectrum; however, what’s most refreshing is the focus on practical everyday strategies that can easily fit into your daily routine. The “aim is to provide you with an array of simple tools to help you find greater calm and stability in the midst of complex, even chaotic times.”

Each chapter (10, of course) is dedicated to a strategy: Relax Your Body. Relax Your Mind. Think Realistically. Face Your Fears, etc. Chapter One, Relax Your Body, for example, talks about how anxiety manifests itself in the physical body and what to do about it, giving simple, straight-forward coping practices like cue-controlled relaxation and abdominal breathing.

One of my favorite chapters is the last, Chapter 10, Cope on the Spot. It’s all about leaning into anxiety, recognizing when it appears and accepting that it’s present. “Acceptance of anxiety symptoms is the key. By cultivating an attitude of acceptance in the face of anxiety, you allow it to move through and pass.” Some of the suggested techniques to move through what you’re feeling include talking to a supportive friend, staying in the present, and creating coping statements and affirmations.

I also appreciate that the book discusses community care, emphasizing how important it is to connect to something outside yourself for a sense of security and stability. Fostering a connection with others (through a worthy cause/organization, nature, God/Higher Power, etc) can create a greater sense of peace in your life – something we all deserve.

Anxiety is very much real and can often be debilitating. Coping with Anxiety provides the support needed to embrace and consistently practice strategies that work best for you and that offer both short and long-term relief.

If you decide to get this Phoenix Book Pick be sure to let me know what you think. I’d love to hear about the techniques that helped you.


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.


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Quick, Simple Self-Care Practices to Ease Your Overwhelm

We’re currently in uncharted water, and it’s OK to feel overwhelmed when there’s a lack of certainty. Acknowledge and accept what you’re feeling. We can’t heal what we don’t accept, so let the emotions move through you, and then release them.

HOW-TO/PRACTICE:

Find a quiet place to center yourself, and then relax your body by breathing deeply; on the exhale, release any tension in your arms, hands, legs, feet, shoulders, back, neck, etc. Imagine whatever you’re feeling dissolving with each breath. Do this at least 10-20 minutes daily. This will relieve anxiety and tension held in your body.

If you need more support in your practice, I highly recommend Meditation Minis with Chel Hamilton, a meditation podcast for anxiety, stress and sleep. (FYI: Her voice is very soothing! Get ready to feel very relaxed.) Start with this episode: Calm + Be + Ease (No matter how anxious it all seems).

Journaling helps, too. Dump those feelings on paper to clear your mind; it is an intentionally calming way to disrupt worry and to also decipher facts from negative self-talk that creeps in, especially during anxiousness. End your mindful writing with gratitude. Jot down at least one thing you’re grateful for in your life. Observe how you feel emotionally and physically when you’ve finished journaling: Has a weight been lifted? Is your mind clearer? What did you learn about yourself during the process?

AFFIRMATIONS DO WORK: 

You know how much I love affirmations, so any time I can share them with you I will. They are (as I’ve mentioned in other posts) positive words of empowerment that when consistently spoken, shift your perspective, lift your spirit, and change your mind. Words are powerful. What you say to and about yourself matters. Affirmations help you stay mindful about the words you choose, keeping the focus on what you want for your life rather than what you don’t want. It’s also best to write them in present tense, as if what you’re affirming is already happening.

Tip: Try writing your own while journaling, and then put the ones that really resonate with you (your top three) on index cards or Post-It Notes so they’re readily available. I have a couple posted on my bathroom vanity; I read them while getting ready in the morning.

Below are three I created for you to support curbing anxiety and diminishing overwhelm:

  1. Anxiety – I acknowledge and accept what I’m feeling; I know that it will pass in time.
  2. Self-Acceptance – I love and accept myself in this present moment. Healing permeates my mind and body.
  3. Worry – I let go of worrying about the outcome and move forward with courage, gratitude, and wisdom.

It’s all about building your self-care tool kit, finding and consistently utilizing healthy practices that work best for your well being, practices that will help you work through what you’re feeling and cultivate peace.

Be well. Stay safe.


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.


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3 Key Components for Sustaining Your Self-Care Practices

 

 

Sustaining self-care can be a challenge for many reasons (ranking at the top of list, feeling like there’s not enough time to fit it into your already jam-packed schedule). But you have to make yourself a priority in order to effectively take care of everything else in your life – anything less leads to burnout and a steady decline in your physical and emotional health. Here are three key components to help you stay the course when it comes to your daily, weekly or monthly practices:

Consistency/Increments of Time – Participate in your self-care activities on a consistent basis. Keep a schedule that works for you. What often prevents follow-through is the amount of time you think it’ll take. Do a time assessment check; figure out when there are open moments in your schedule, and then use the time wisely. Whether it’s a 15 to 30-minute block in the morning or an hour at night before bed, it’s yours. Dive in, and before you know it, you’ll be closer to where you want to be.

Patience – There is a process to every practice. Whether you’ve decided to take a yoga class, to go to therapy, to enroll in school, to adjust your sleep schedule, etc. you’re creating a shift in behavior and building habit. If adjustments need to be made along the way, it’s perfectly OK. Just stick with it. Stick with it. Stick with it! You may be uncomfortable because you’re trying something new, but you’re also learning and growing, so persevere. Your affirmation: I am grateful. My challenges are building spiritual muscle and resilience.

Self-Compassion – Self-criticism does not “whip you into shape” any faster. It propels you down the rabbit hole of fear, insecurity, anxiety and overwhelm, making it harder not easier to be consistent with your self-care practices because the focus is on what’s wrong, and what’s not working. Let positive energy fuel your self-care pursuits. If you don’t want to participate on any given day, acknowledge and accept what you’re feeling. Honor those feelings with compassion. Step away. Take a breather. You’ll be able to revisit with a fresher perspective the next time. As Dr. Kristin Neff, points out in her book, Self-Compassion: The Power of Being Kind to Yourself: “When we experience warm and tender feelings toward ourselves, we are altering our bodies as well as our minds. Rather than feeling worried and anxious, we feel calm, content, trusting, and secure.”

Repeat the following until it sinks in: “Self-care is a journey. There’s no rush.” Some days will be better than others, so time, patience and self-compassion should be constant companions, providing breathing room to weather the not-so-good days and to focus on what matters, which is the vibrant and more balanced life taking good care of yourself brings.

 


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.


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

 

Sheree_LYFF[The Phoenix Rising Collective]

Love Yourself First! Friday (LYFF) is part of The PRC’s 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 Phoenix is Sheree:

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

Loving myself is a practice, a daily practice, a moment by moment practice mixed with a lot of patience and self-compassion.

Loving myself is becoming more aware of my thoughts, my feelings, my behaviors and actions. Through this I am aware of the woman I am becoming. There is not an end product, no finished version of me to love. I am on a constant journey. Now, I’m on the right path of self-love and there’s no way I can get off. I am aware of the difference between self-hate and self-sabotage in comparison to self-love, and I don’t want to go back.

It’s telling myself that I am loved. It’s about getting out of my own way to allow the love that I hold within to flow through me, to flow through my heart, body, mind and soul for myself, for others, and for the world at large. It is about being open and vulnerable, and growing in strength by giving and receiving. It means not taking on anyone else’s hang-ups while at the same time dealing with my own.

Loving myself first does mean changing my narrative, changing the stories I have been telling myself and living by. I accept that within life, as I move forward attempting to become the best version of me, there will be difficulties and struggles. It will be messy and I won’t do things perfectly. Acknowledging my fears, mistakes, doubts and struggles, and sitting with them (not denying them) means loving myself enough as I am: the ‘good’, the ‘bad’ and the ‘ugly’. It means cutting myself some slack if I’m having a bad day. It’s about praising myself, as well as chastising myself, but still being able to believe in myself, always.

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

The mind is a powerful tool if we use it as such. It controls all that we do and don’t do. It affects our thinking, feelings, actions and behaviors. It doesn’t matter how much I want to do something: go for a run, eat healthily, go to a yoga class; if my mind isn’t into it, it ain’t happening.

It’s a constant practice and battle to keep my mind in the zone – focused and motivated. It gets tired, disheartened, distressed, and frustrated. My practice to ward against this happening too often is to meditate on the page. I call it my Morning Pages (thanks to Julia Cameron) or simply journaling. Every day I have to work out on the page. Each day I show up by writing out how I’m feeling, what I’m thinking, dreaming, stressing. I’m connecting with myself on the deepest of levels or even shallowest of levels when I provide the time and space to have this daily inner conversation.

collagejournalling

Journal Collage created by Sheree Angela Matthews

This writing practice is deepened by walking, running, wild swimming and eating consciously. But these other self-care practices go out the window when I’m disconnected from myself, when I haven’t been checking in with myself on a regular basis. The person I am becoming and how I present my being within the world is constantly changing. I’m inconsistent, so having the means to check in with myself keeps me sane.

Self-care for my soul comes through my creativity. Creativity is my jam. Whatever medium is calling me – pen on paper, keyboard, painting, collaging, knitting, dancing, singing, cooking – I need to make things, bring things into existence that were not here before I started the process. There’s a feeling as if something, some kind of energy is flowing through me when I create. I’m in the zone. I’m working intuitively. I’m creating and am at peace. I’m joyful.

This doesn’t happen every time I take the time to create, but I keep showing up in the hope that these feelings, this experience will happen again and again. It’s not about the end product; it’s the process. It’s the practice with patience, of course.

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

“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would spin open.” -Muriel Rukeyer

There comes a time in everybody’s life when the unspeakable happens. To say it hasn’t happened or won’t happen to you is a lie. You’re kidding yourself. Believe me.

In May 2015, the unspeakable happened to me. There was a public shaming. My whole world fell apart the day I was accused of being a plagiarist on Facebook by a ‘so-called’ friend and fellow poet. He wrote that he’d found whole scale “borrowings” from other writers’ words, phrases, and structures within my latest collection of poetry. He said that he was just doing his duty for the poetry community by bringing it to everyone’s attention. What followed was what I chose to call a public lynching of me as a writer, poet and person. This was the unspeakable that happened to me. But funny enough, I am speaking about it here, as well as writing a creative non-fiction book about this whole experience. Everything I knew, all I was, how I thought myself to be was taken from me in that public posting. I issued an apology regarding my unintentional mistakes and withdrew from the public realm. At one point, death looked a very promising course of action, but I had my family and some supportive friends who helped me.

Within the Chakra system there is a heart center called Anahata Chakra. In Sanskrit, Anahata means “Unstruck.” For me this speaks to the resilient nature of the human heart. I believe, wholeheartedly, that there is a place within my heart that is absolutely unbreakable.

This experience did break my heart, stopped me from loving, and shut me down and out. However, there was a minute part that kept pulsing, kept the light on for me. Maybe it was my belief in self, my self-love that got me through each day.

Each day has not been wasted. I have taken this experience as a wake-up call, a wake-up to explore and claim my authenticity. Afterwards, I had nothing. I couldn’t even look myself in the face at one point. But writing my book and starting to take photographs of myself have supported me in my climb up. I can’t say climb ‘back’, because who or what I am becoming, I do not know. I have never met this woman. I do know that love and self-love, first and foremost, are at the center of this journey.

What have you learned from self-love?

Self-love has to come from me. Obviously, right? But it is probably the hardest thing we try to do, have to do. It is difficult, because maybe we are not given the tools to love ourselves, so we struggle to practice it. I’ve spent the majority of my life trying to please others, trying to make them like and love me. I thought this was the route to travel in order to develop self-love.

I’ve spent multiple lifetimes making others comfortable at the expense of making myself uncomfortable. I just wanted to be loved. I wanted to be accepted and validated. I wanted to be enough, good enough. In the process of pleasing others I’ve silenced myself. I put versions of me into storage, buried them away. I’ve censored myself because I haven’t loved or believed in myself enough to show up in the world as me. I’ve thought,”If I’m truly myself people won’t like or love me.” They’d see my ugliness and disown me. As things have transpired, I have been disowned when I least expected it. When I thought I was accepted. Now, I’ve got nothing to lose except myself. Out of fear I disowned myself, but not anymore.

This past year of reaching rock bottom meant I had nothing but myself to count on. It meant I had to go within, search within the shadows, within my darkness to find my light, to find me. And it’s source is love.

I’m not here to write ‘the happy ever after’, as that just happens in fairy tales. In real life, self-love doesn’t show up every day. It isn’t a constant. Some days I feel worthless, useless and such a failure.

Henry David Thoreau said, “There is no beginning too small.” This I do know.

Each new day is a beginning, so if I fail this day. I can begin again the next day. Simple.

I keep making small beginnings over and over again. In the process, I am learning to love myself more and more.

Self-love is a practice with massive heaps of patience and compassion, but it’s worth it. No. I’m worth it.

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Share your thoughts about Sheree’s powerfully honest self-love story in the comments. And, to learn more about Sheree and Wild Soul Woman, follow her: IGwildsoulwoman; FBfacebook.com/wildsoulwoman; Twitterawildsoulwoman

 


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.

Join the Collective on Facebook and Instagram.


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Only 6 More Days Left! Are You Ready?

Self Care Workshop Promo [thephoenixrisingcollecive]

Yes, time flies, right?! There are only six more days before The Fullness of Me workshop. Join us Saturday, August 22, 1pm – 4pm at Gather in Columbus, OH. This is your chance to retreat before the busyness of the fall season!

The Fullness of Me: Spirit-Affirming Self-Care Practices for Women Ready to be Self-Love in Action is an activity-driven workshop that provides simple, soulful daily self-care practices and resources that support you in loving the life you lead. Resources include The Phoenix Rising Collective’s The Fullness of Me: Intentional Living Guide.

Get more details HERE, and register now!

Make yourself a priority. And by all means, invite a friend!

*All attendees must register for this event.

 


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

Ashley_LYFF[collage2]

Love Yourself First! Friday is an interview series featuring phenomenal and resilient women who share their self-love stories – vulnerable, honest and heartfelt stories, 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.

Here’s our featured Phoenix’s self-love story:

Ashley 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.”

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?!” 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.”

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.”

Her quest to get better every day doesn’t stop there. She is also a pescatarian. After getting sick with an unknown gastrointestinal 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. 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.”

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

 

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.

Check out the Collective on Instagram and Facebook.


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.