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 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.


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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4 Affirmations You Need to Know and Lessons to Learn from Octavia Butler

Affirmations to Know[The PRC]

Take a deep breath. Exhale. It’s the start of a new week! Don’t judge what you’ve done thus far or what you have to do. Just express gratitude, and keep in mind that your thoughts and words are shaping your reality. Celebrate your progress and believe that where you are now is not where you’ll always be. Affirm it and keep moving forward.

I was reminded of just how powerful we are when it comes to manifesting the lives we want to have after reading the Huntington Library’s blog post Celebrating Octavia Butler. “The Huntington became the recipient of her papers, which arrived in 2008 in two four-drawer file cabinets and about 35 large cartons. Butler’s papers required intense processing over the next three years. “She kept nearly everything, from her very first short stories, written at the age of 12, to book contracts and programs from speaking engagements,” says Natalie Russell, assistant curator of literary manuscripts at The Huntington.”

You know what else was among those four-drawer file cabinets and cartons? Affirmations – Octavia’s hand written notes of encouragement to herself! The library found these empowering words below that the literary legend wrote on the inside cover of her notebook in 1988:


Octavia E. Butler papers, The Huntington Library

I have always loved Octavia Butler’s books. In fact, I was hooked after my first time reading Kindred in a women’s studies class many years ago, but after seeing this notebook and reading her process for self-motivation and actualization I am even more captivated by her talent and belief in herself.

This is a lesson to all of us from someone who understood how sacred words are, particularly the words we speak to ourselves; it is a lesson from a courageously powerful woman who used that knowledge to diligently shape her own experiences. May we all be empowered by Octavia’s bravery, and…

  1. Align our thoughts, words, and actions to manifest experiences that serve our highest good.
  2. Recognize the clues that tell us we’re on track.
  3. Keep and store all tangible evidence that affirms we’re on track!
  4. Create personal affirmations that support surrendering to the process and celebrate our progress.
  5. Believe in our dreams, goals, and desires, realizing the support we’re seeking to fulfill them starts with us.

Challenge: This week start your day reciting at least one of the four affirmations posted here or write your own. Select or create one that genuinely applies to you right now and make it your focus. Be conscious of your thoughts and actions throughout the day, ensuring they are in alignment. At the end of the day journal about your awareness, shifts in perception, and any tangible evidence that supports what you’re doing.

For more on how your thoughts and words impact your life check out 15 Affirmations to Inspire the Daily Practice of Self-Love.

Ayanna_Prof_Headshot[Mktg_Phoenix2]Ayanna Jordan is founder, workshop leader, and personal empowerment coach for The Phoenix Rising Collective. She develops and facilitates women-centered workshops on how putting self-love into action can transform your life. Ayanna also creates coaching and training that supports women’s professional growth in leadership, entrepreneurship, and passion-filled work. As editor-in-chief of Phoenix Shine, she is happy to be working with contributing writers to provide 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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ARTIST FEATURE: I Am Becoming – An Interview with Mireidys Garcia Jimenez

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Artist Feature [The Phoenix Rising Collective]

The Phoenix Rising Collective’s Artist Feature, curated by Traci Currie, interviews women artists who use their talents and creativity to fully express self-love, build self-esteem, and nurture their own authenticity while inspiring others. Creative expressions may range from performing to painting to writing to travel and everything in between. Our goal is to share how these empowered women cultivate agency, healing, and happiness through fulfilling their passion.

This Artist Feature is Mireidys Garcia Jimenez:

I asked her, “Who are you?” And Mireidys Garcia Jimenez responded, “I am Becoming.”

I almost want to begin and end this story with the sentence above. As the interviewer, it speaks volumes, but it would be unfair to the reader to end with this sentence. At least I would be annoyed as a reader. Sometimes we meet people who are more than a passerby in our journey. They are spiritual beings made of earth, grounded in their descendant nature, using words to transform ways of thinking. Sometimes we bask in the presence of spirit-beings who are beyond their own spatial time. They show us that all things are accessible if we are willing to tap into that inner-treasure that sits at the pit of our stomachs. I met a few particular women this 2015 summer in the Art of Text workshop at Kenyon College. Mireidys is one of the women who inspired me.

Her family is from Pinar Del Rio, Paso Real, Cuba – a rural place where much of the crops that feed the majority of this country’s population are grown. She was born in Cuba and moved to Hialeah, Florida when she was 4 years old. She explained that her grandfather was a political prisoner. He was allowed to leave Cuba by himself when he finished his sentence, but he refused until he could leave with his whole family. This eventually happened, with great effort.

In asking Mireidys about other places she calls home, she mentioned Amherst, Massachusetts where she went to undergraduate school and found a safe familial space. She received her B.A. in Creative Writing and Cultural Studies from Hampshire College and will be completing her M.A. in Publishing and Writing from Emerson College December 2015. I, of course, asked her about writing and what it meant to her. She said she has always been a writer and that she always felt like she spoke in poetry. In the video she speaks of this literary experience.


One of my favorite questions to ask writers is what other literary artists inspire, influence, and inform their craft. Mireidys was clear and precise:

My favorite poets are Pablo Neruda and Aracelis Girmay. Neruda is the only author whose work I’ve enjoyed equally in Spanish and English. For me, none of his magic is lost in translation. Girmay is a political poet and the most predominant mentor figure I’ve had in my journey as a writer. I admire the incredible urgency and intimate delivery with which she conjures the unspoken. My favorite book is Just Kids by Patti Smith. This is the first novel I picked up after years of only reading poetry and I was captivated by Smith’s lyricism and zealous honesty.

I think what moves me most about Mireidys is the thickness in her poetic tongue. Her words sit with me and remind me that I am a part of this world in a very spiritual way. I remember watching her in the summer workshop. She moved from that pink typewriter to her space at the table and back to the typewriter. At one moment she was sitting right outside of the studio completing a writing assignment for the workshop. She was intense and deliberate in creating both her stories and books. In the midst of creating, though, she smiled. She smiled an earth-tone smile that reminded me that she is both night and day. She makes up the best of 24 hours, especially when under pressure. She worked tirelessly, which is why I chose her as a feature. Mireidys Garcia Jimenez reminds me of the greatest possibilities. Watching her made me reflect and ask, “How bad do you want to write and publish TC?” Moreover, “How hard are you willing to work for these possibilities that are knocking at your door?” Her literary talent and hard work inspired me to create more time and space for this art form I believe in.

The following poem is an excerpt from Mireidys’ upcoming collection. The poem is entitled The Cuba I Stole from my Mother’s Tongue.

Still, she smells of cafesito and el mar

forms a hurricane with her dance,

swaying hips, poised stance— she is guilty

for the waves in the vast Atlantic Ocean.


Yet this Cuba was never mine

no, blame it on the fact I lost a country

too young.[1]  Mine lives only in the voices

of my ancestors echoing this red earth for miles,

crawling under stories of exile, blindfolded

trying to make constellations out of English.



[1] From Ruth Behar’s The Island We Share

Learn more about Mireidys Garcia Jimenez


About the Contributing Writer:

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.” You can learn more about Traci’s work in creative arts HERE.

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


Love Yourself First! Friday (LYFF) is part of our Shed Light series collection. We invite women to tell their LYFF stories to inspire and empower others to also fiercely demonstrate self-love in action.  The questions are meant to  “shed light” on various ways our featured Phoenixes are making self-care and intentional living a priority.

This week’s courageous Phoenix is Tonya:

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

I love myself first by learning to take care of me and recognize that I need to practice giving love to myself as much as I do others. It means I have to be more in tune with myself.

I pay closer attention to signs when it comes to my body, my mind, and my soul. For instance, when I can barely drive home from work in Washington, DC to my home in Maryland, due to exhaustion, that is my cue to get home, eat lightly, take a quiet, relaxing bath, and immediately go to bed and sleep as long as I can. I also release stress by taking long walks and/or going to the gym for an hour. When I am done, the stress dissipates. While walking, I thank God for all that He created and has given to me.

Our brain handles a lot of information. There’s a dark side and a light side. When the dark side creeps to the front, I shut it down quickly by focusing on things that are going well. The negativity that creeps up is when that voice tells you cannot do something: “You’re not smart. You’re not qualified. You’ve messed up.”  I shut it down quickly!  Negativity has a tendency to consume us if we allow it. I try to keep my mind away from negativity. Even when I hear gossip, I attempt to steer the conversation to something positive.

My soul is my heart. I’ve allowed it to be hurt many times because I trust until someone gives me a reason not to trust them. I’m not that way anymore. I now put my total trust in God, and I’m more protective of my heart. By being this way, I do not get hurt as easily as I used to.

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

I have a closer relationship with God now. I give Him all my cares. I exercise to alleviate stress and keep myself fit. I read motivational books that empower me to keep moving forward to fulfill my dreams. I spend quality time with family and we have movie nights and catch up with one another. Sometimes, we take walks and just talk. I also have date-nights with my partner. Although we have busy careers, we make time to be together and enjoy each other’s company.

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

Trusting people was my biggest flaw. As I trusted, I was disappointed over and over again. I believe I trusted others more than I did myself. It’s a big difference when you begin to trust and rely on God. My second biggest flaw was that, as my mother puts it, “People know where your buttons are.” As a result, people that I trusted knew how to hurt me because I showed my vulnerabilities. When I began to love me, I no longer allowed people to know where my buttons were to be pushed. I became stronger.

What have you learned from self-love?

Self-love is the most critical element of love. You cannot give love successfully until you learn to love yourself first. Now that I love myself, I’m more protective over me. I’m not as vulnerable or as accessible to being hurt. Self-love simply means loving who you are – and that’s what I do.


Tonya Barbee is author of The Little Girl Inside: Owning My Role in My Own Pain. She’s excited about encouraging others, particularly women, to find their way during transgressions and to never, ever, give up. She lives with her two youngest of four children in Bowie, MD. Check out her website:  I am Still a Rose.


Join the Collective. Share your self-love story with us. Send an email HERE. Put “My LYFF Story” in the subject line, and we’ll send you follow-up info. Sweet. Short. Simple!

Love Yourself First! Friday is a bi-weekly self-love series created by The Phoenix Rising Collective. Phenomenal women who fiercely demonstrate self-love in action in order to build and sustain healthy, positive self esteem share their stories‬.  Be sure to read some of our other inspiring stories.