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Inspiring Women to be Self-Love in Action

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5 Must-Do’s to Start a Healthier Morning Routine

Getty Images | JGI/Jamie Grill

Do you have a consistent morning routine? It’s important to have one because (wow!) it definitely sets the tone for your day. You’ll be less rushed, more centered, and ready to face the world outside. You may not be able to completely chuck the to-do list, but establishing a healthier “rise and shine” routine will give you the energy (physically and mentally) to handle it with more focus, balance and determination.

So, here are my top 5 favorite ways to jump-start the morning:

1. Take a deep breath.

Acknowledge that it’s a new day! Give thanks. As soon as I wake, I say, “Hello, God. It’s me, Ayanna! Thank you.” Side note: Yes, I adapted that line from the AYA ol’ school book Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret.

2. Give yourself time.

I know if I don’t carve out time for a consistent routine I feel off kilter; and inevitably, I start zipping through the house and usually forget something on my way out the door. So, set the pace to create balance and a calm exit.

3. Eat something good for you.

Your body needs energy and love. Have some fruit, a green smoothie, avocado toast or healthy cereal. Drink lemon water. Make it a treat, something you look forward to. It’s simple but effective. Prep the night before to save time.

4. Keep noise to a minimum.

Try not to take in any negative information. (Yes, like the news. You can get to that later.) Keep your thoughts positive. Engage in what will affirm the day. Listen to or read something uplifting and inspirational. I usually start with one of my favorite daily readers: The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo or I listen, while in the car, to a podcast I love: On Being with Krista Tippet.

5. Stretch/Exercise & Shower Meditation.

Move your body. Dance while getting dressed if you have to, but get the blood flowing.

Shower meditation is simply letting yesterday wash away. It’s gone, so while in the shower set new intentions for the day and recite affirmations. The water is revitalizing and provides a great sense of peace.


Select healthy, rejuvenating activities that will work best for you in the morning and stick with them until they become habit. Your mind and body will thank you. The routine you establish will assist in creating a more successful, well-balanced day and healthier well being. It’s a powerful and practical form of self-care you’ll look forward to.

Challenge: Pick at least one of the top 5 must-do’s and begin incorporating it into your “rise and shine” plan. Journal about how the switch in routine makes you feel. Take note of how differently you move throughout the day.


Ayanna Jordan is founder and leadership trainer and coach for The Phoenix Rising Collective. She develops and facilitates women-centered, self-care workshops on how putting self-love into action can transform your life. Ayanna also creates coaching and training programs that support women’s professional growth in leadership, entrepreneurship, and passion-filled work. As editor-in-chief of Phoenix Shine, she is happy to be providing resources and awareness on topics that cultivate self-love and acceptance. Right now, she is most inspired by the LYFF series and She Makes It Beautiful. You can learn more about Ayanna HERE.

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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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How Do You Feel? Simple Ways to Manage Your Individual Experience + Gain Peace of Mind

Peace of Mind[The Phoenix Rising Collective]

First I want to ask…How are you doing? Don’t answer right away; take your time and check-in with your whole self. You can do this by connecting to all five senses. It’s a simple way to be present in the moment.

Your individual reflection is what I want to support you through, so keep reading.

Check in with your sight, sound, smell, taste and touch, and I must add your thoughts and feelings as well. Be honest with yourself so you can address the things that don’t feel good. This is not to fix anything but to acknowledge where you are on all levels.

I asked you to check in with you because I know in the past few weeks, we’ve heard, seen and read disturbing news: killings of unarmed black men by police, cops also being killed as a result, and the racial tension that has reemerged because of it. It can be challenging to balance what’s going on with life while our communities are suffering in more than one way. Although we are experiencing this as a community, the impact is also on an individual level.

It’s unfortunate that we are going through this again. However, this time around I feel a slight shift with how we as African Americans are responding. The #BlackLivesMatter Movement is at the forefront again responding by protesting for justice and equality. We’ve been motivated by call to actions, to buy and bank black. There are town hall meetings to spark dialogue for solutions. I feel a lot of us are committed to creating lasting change because enough is enough.

I’ve also realized there are two different ways we are experiencing what’s happening: group and individual experiences. For example, a group experience can be with other protesters or be a part of an organization. Then at some point, you are with yourself trying to process what’s happening.

Have you taken a pause and processed the state we are in as a country or community and the impact it has on you?

Your individual/personal experience is what I want to focus on because not all of us know how to manage this part of the process.  How you feel through all of this should be acknowledged, honored and nurtured.

When traumatic situations happen whether it’s in your personal life or in the world, it can cause you to ask yourself some deep questions.

  1. Why is this happening?

  2. What can I do to make things better?

  3. How can I be a part of the solution?

  4. Can I even do anything to make the situation better?

I’ve asked myself the same questions and at times with no answers. I would usually continue to go on with life until we are faced with another tragedy and those questions come up again.

The stress of it all can trigger emotional extremes – either you become overwhelmed and more reactionary without careful thought or too numb to the point of not doing anything, even though you may want to.

I’ve processed my emotions by labeling them and gotten really clear on why I feel the way I feel.

I’m not here to judge how you are dealing but to be of service if you are struggling with how to respond. Personally, I’ve been on such an emotional roller coaster but I’m in a more balanced space now.

  • I’ve been angry and hurt to my core because these acts are so ruthless and inhumane.

  • I’ve cried for the families who are suffering tremendous loss.

  • I’ve been frustrated that we are not respected as human beings, our plight is being dismissed because it’s not understood and there is a lack of compassion for our suffering.

  • I’ve definitely felt hopeless, like I can’t do anything to stop systemic racism or impact social justice.

  • I’ve felt overwhelmed because there’s so much work, undoing, and unlearning that has to be done.

Have you been able to label what you’ve been feeling and why?

Having a clear sense of what you are feeling creates a greater chance to manage your personal experiences and be in a healthier mental state.

I’m very grateful for the circle of friends I have. We communicate with one another and just hold space to say what we need to say without judgment. Even if we don’t have anything to say, that is okay as well. I am reminded that I don’t have to react or respond like everyone else. It’s a personal choice if I want to express how I feel publicly or privately.

One conclusion I’ve come to is I need to start with self and home because that’s where I have immediate control: (1) get clear about how I feel (hopeless) verses how I want to feel (empowered), (2) figure out where I stand with things, (3) how do I want to contribute to the cause of impacting social justice, and (4) how do I want to talk to my son about what’s happening. In addition, figure out how to be of service to other women and/or men in my own community.

Helpful Tips:

We often reevaluate and redefine what’s important after our reality has been impacted in such a negative way. Here are a few suggestions you can implement to respond and cope:

  • Practice self-care and disconnect for awhile so you can put things in perspective

  • Increase bonding with family and friends

  • Explore your sense of purpose and meaning

  • Explore your personal mission in life

  • Be of service to others; it can shift your focus for a bit

How can I help you?

What I’ve shared with you has been from my individual reflection, and I want to understand your individual experience as well. I’m creating a free resource to give basic guidance on how to manage what is showing mentally and emotionally. I would love to get your feedback so I can gain a better understanding of your needs.

I will be addressing emotional triggers, gaining clarity around how you want to feel, and strategies for mental and emotional shifts to help create peace of mind.

If you are interested in receiving this guide or providing feedback, please email me at

About the Contributor

MoniqueHalleyContributor[thephoenixrisingcollective]1Monique Allison is a Relationship Clarity Coach. Her personal experience, observation, and insight gained over the years allows her to help women release unhealthy relationships and heal from broken ones in order to love again from a more self-loving and authentic space. She is also the mother of 10-year-old son, Pharaoh. Monique’s background/experience is in the nonprofit sector working for United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta (UWMA) for 13 years; holding the position as the Quality Assurance Manager. She has achieved a B.A. in Psychology from Clark Atlanta University, is AIRS Certified as an Information & Referral Specialist, attained a Creative Writer Certificate from Kennesaw State University. Monique has also taught life skills to young adults for two years. Learn more about Monique’s work helping women build healthy relationships HERE.

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


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 Adrienne:

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

“You can’t pour from an empty cup.”  Recently, I was scrolling through Pinterest and I ran across a photograph of a white ceramic coffee cup.  The inside of the cup was empty with the slightest coffee stain lining the bottom of the tiny cup.  In a very simple font the words “You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first” were emblazoned across the picture.

As I was reading those words I realized that I had, somehow, become that coffee cup — a solid, sturdy vessel, but sadly, temporarily empty.  I was sitting at my desk in my tiny, cramped office space feeling completely drained.  Since then, I have been thinking about and steadily working towards how I can go about refilling my cup.

I’ve come to recognize that to love myself first means recognizing that it is not selfish to take time out of my day to care for my needs.  Allowing myself to get to the point where I begin to feel empty or drained not only hurts me, it hurts those whom I work with, and love.  Before I can support others, I have to first make sure that my cup is full.

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

I think refilling my cup starts with the little things I do throughout my day that bring me happiness.  I have started making time to wake up an hour earlier than absolutely necessary so that I have the time to enjoy a cup of coffee and watch Live! with Kelly and Michael before going into work.  I come home from work in the middle of the day to cuddle with my adorable dog, Corn Dog.  I eat dinner with my partner and we talk about our day.  And every evening, I look out across the flat Minnesota land and I can see a wind turbine that is located about a mile away from my residence.  I think about how the turbine converts energy from the wind into electrical power.  Isn’t that remarkable?  At the end of each day I hope that I, like the turbine and a full cup, have converted my energy into powering myself so that I may share with others.


“I hope that I, like the turbine and a full cup, have converted my energy into powering myself so that I may share with others.”

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

The biggest obstacle and challenge is myself and my tendencies.  I am inclined to believe that it is selfish to think of my needs before those of others.  I tend to overextend and tax myself to be the best at my work. I am the one that, if unchecked, will empty my cup.

To overcome this challenge, I started making lists.  I had a list of all of the things I had to get done at work in order to feel okay about myself.  I had a second list of tasks that I used to mark down responsibilities that were not as urgent or pressing.  Another list was of all the things I had accomplished.  This was my “smile list” because reading what I had accomplished always made me smile.  Examples included marrying my soulmate, getting accepted into a doctoral program, and having a stellar chocolate chip cookie recipe.  My final list was my “hope list”.  It included all the things I hope for in life not related whatsoever to my career.  This list includes having children, going on a cruise, and designing a new tattoo.  These lists made me feel like I had some control and balance in my life.  They let me see what I’d done, what I needed to do, and where I wanted to go.  I still use a variation of these lists, but I have been utilizing my Passion Planner, which is an agenda that has a built in goal-setting and to-do area in it.

Another key step that I have taken is to be more responsible about seeking the help of health professionals. One could practice all of the self-care and self-love in the world but if one is not physically or emotionally healthy, such practice would be all for naught. I have found that taking steps to seek care and support has been invaluable for allowing me to better help and serve others. As a professional tasked with supporting others, it is easy to forget that we are human and sometimes need support ourselves. I think recognizing that sometimes the greatest self-love is knowing when you need to reach out and ask others for help.  Self-love does not mean you have to do it all by yourself.  Sometimes self-love will include reaching out to friends and family, and sometimes it may mean reaching out to a pastor, a counselor, or a doctor.

What have you learned from self-love?

For some, I think self-love might be easy.  For myself, I know that this journey to accepting all of me has not been easy.  It has been hard work.  But I have come to realize that the journey, the fight, of self-acceptance and loving myself has been worth it because I am worth it.

Don Miguel Ruiz said, “You cannot share what you do not have. If you do not love yourself, you cannot love anyone else either.” I go back to the same cup I started with.  Let’s replace the concept of self-care with self-love in this analogy:  “You can’t pour from an empty cup.  Love yourself first.”


Thank you, Adrienne, for sharing your LYFF story. You are definitely a Phoenix rising!


Share your self-love story! Send an email HERE. Put “My LYFF Story” in the subject line, and you’ll be contacted by the Phoenix Team with details on how to participate.

Love Yourself First! Friday is a 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.



positive_body_affirmation[the phoenix rising collective]

Our charge to you is to repeat this affirmation until you believe it! Yes, it can be a struggle to fully accept yourself from head to toe when women are constantly bombarded with language and images that relay (subliminally or otherwise) to change their physical appearance in some way, shape, or form.

Well, no more! Decide right now that you’re going to celebrate your unique identity and bask in the beautiful expression of life, love, and light that you are.

You’re a Phoenix. Keep shining! Be self-love in action.

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SELF-LOVE TIP OF THE DAY: Be Grateful and Write About It!

gratitude_journal [phoenix rising collective]

Be grateful. Tonight (after your day of doing all that you do), choose to express gratitude by focusing on the positive, inspirational things that happened to you (or even moments that happened to others and how good it made you feel).

Take a moment to reflect on the beauty, love, joy, happiness, and growth you witnessed and experienced – big and small – in nature and/or with people (including yourself). Journal about them. It’s as simple as, “Today I am grateful for…” and listing each one. It doesn’t have to be a large list. In fact, just journal until you feel you’re ready to stop.  Make it a daily, intentional practice, and observe how this exercise in mindfulness shifts your perspective and transforms your life!

Tip: Select a journal/notebook that you love and use it specifically for gratitude journaling. And you can reference it as a reminder of how abundantly and consistently awesome your life really is and to keep yourself centered on the importance of being in the moment.

Be self-love in action.

Do you already have a gratitude journal? If so, how has it shifted your perspective on life? How often do you express your gratitude?