The Phoenix Rising Collective

Inspiring Women to be Self-Love in Action

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It’s Love Yourself First! Friday – Today’s Phoenix is Nava

This beautiful Phoenix is Nava (lovely name, too, right?). She shares her self-love story with us by compassionately giving some thoughtful daily self-care regimens and words of wisdom that can build a stronger sense of spirituality, balance, and of course, love for your life.


 Nava_LYFF[collage]_2Just like a flower needs water to grow, it’s important to learn about the things we need to nurture ourselves in every way. This means loving myself for all the good that I see, and accepting my flaws and the fact that I am IMperfect. This doesn’t mean that I don’t learn, change, and grow; it means that I am gentle and kind to myself in spite of it all. It also means being able to look in the mirror and fall in love with the Divine reflection of me.

 For most people, self-love can feel unnatural, but caring for myself requires consistent routines; for example:

  1. Staying spiritually centered
  2. Eliminating self-criticism
  3. Being kind and positive
  4. Acknowledging my efforts
  5. Expressing gratitude
  6. Having compassion – even with those that don’t deserve it
  7. Letting go of worry
  8. Trusting and forgiving myself even when I’ve messed up
  9. Being completely and nakedly honest with myself, and accepting all that is and comes with who I am


Love by any definition of the word (kindness, affection, respect, sensitive attunement, and shared companionship) is not only hard to come by; it is even more difficult to accept. Fortunately, I’ve had the pleasure of having wonderful and loving friendships and relationships, but over the years I’ve also invested time in black-hole relationships – relationships where the energy I gave was not returned, and I ended up highly disappointed and hurt. Because I put so much time and energy into loving deeply without reciprocation, I went through emotional pain and bouts of feeling rejected. More so, when someone was loving towards me, I’d experience conflict between their perception of me and my core identity.

I reacted with suspicion and distrust because my fear of intimacy was provoked. Luckily, I quickly snapped out of these challenges earlier in life and began to accept and love myself; this led to the ebb and flow of some wonderful and meaningful relationships. Now when I recognize that a relationship I have isn’t serving me well – whether it’s personal, platonic, or professional – I release it and let go.

I’ve learned that it’s necessary to take inventory of my relationships and the things that affect self-love. We are a nation obsessed with how we physically look (we diet, go on nutritional binges, and detox in an effort to look and feel good on the outside), but if what is going on emotionally does not match our spiritual desire, we can never attain the level of self-love we deserve.  Our equilibrium is off when a split between our divinity and humanity has taken place, but if we can learn to trust and hear the inner voice of love – we’ll experience deeper and stronger self-love that will lead us beyond the boundaries of our short life, to where God is all in all.


Below Nava shares why she chose the photos for her self-love collage:

SUNSET – I am blessed and humbled to be able to have an amazing view of the sunset from my apartment deck. When I moved into the space it was a direct manifestation of what I’ve always wanted – a constant reminder to me that the simple pleasures in life are not as far away from us as we’d like to think.

MEDITATION – Every morning I go to a lake right by my job to meditate. It’s so peaceful and quiet, so this is where I begin my morning, and talk to myself with kindness and the certainty of my own soul.

WORKING THE HILL – Self-care is a part of loving who I am, so in addition to exercising my mind and soul, I include physical exercise. After coming to California from the East Coast I’ve been more active, enjoying Mother Nature and what it offers.

GREAT LOVE – My partner (pictured on the left) is my best friend and confidante. We’ve been together 14 years, and she’s one of few people that truly gets me.  Our relationship wouldn’t work if it weren’t for the fact that love is the true expression of our own heart’s energy. There is intensity in how we love ourselves first but each other unconditionally.

KINGDOM – Finally, I love the quote by Ajame, “Let no one enter your inner kingdom unless they come with love” because I’m a firm believer that the most life changing growth anyone can experience is learning to completely love, to let go of conditions, and to believe in themselves.


Happy Friday, Phoenixes! Love yourself fiercely.

Love Yourself First! Friday is a weekly self-love series created by the Phoenix Rising Collective. Beautiful, diverse women of color tell their stories of triumph, share their personal affirmations, and declare their love for their own lives! The series is meant to inspire and empower women to fiercely demonstrate self-love in action in order to build and sustain healthy, positive self-esteem.  Be sure to read some of our other inspiring stories.

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Looking Good, Naturally!


Are you Team Look Good, Feel Good, Naturally? Of course you are! So, you know a large part of cleaner living is moving toward using natural products for your hair, skin, and nails. And you also know that incorporating natural products into your daily routine can make your hair, skin, and nails feel as good as your body does with cleaner eating habits!

What is Clean Living? Well, we define it as making a commitment to informed decisions about the products we use and the foods we eat. The goal is to incorporate simple, sustainable, and healthful practices into your daily routines that are natural, nutritionally safe, and toxin-free for the body and home to cultivate clean living inside and out.

The products and regimens we’re providing are inexpensive, healthy alternatives – some can even be found in your kitchen!


3 products SimoneOne of the most awesome things about having natural hair is versatility, and one of the most difficult parts about having natural hair is finding reliable products that work well with your hair type. For this we often turn to essential oils and conditioners made for sustaining healthy, natural hair.

Simone returned to natural twelve years ago, and started locking her hair in 2007. She usually wears her hair down or in protective hair styles, such as buns and pigtails (she is really obsessed with pigtails right now!), and she loves using coconut oil because it promotes hair growth by penetrating and moisturizing the scalp. When it comes to washing, it is an all day affair! She starts by using a combination of apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda, sea salt, and warm water to cleanse her scalp (and to promote shine). Then, she uses a few of her favorite Shea Moisture products to condition and shampoo her hair.

Aisha is three years into being natural and loves it. Depending on the day, the weather, or her school schedule, you can catch her with wash-n-go curly tresses, a protective style, or an occasional press-out. With that in mind, most of her favorite products are oils! Jojoba, argan, coconut, and peppermint – just to name a few. All of these oils work to maintain the moisture that hair needs. For wash-n-go hair (by co-washing), a leave in conditioner is essential, followed by oils to seal in the moisture. For a protective style, a good spray of oils fights hair breakage, allowing the style to actually protect the hair, not hurt it. If you are pressing your hair – which should be done sparingly, as too much heat can be damaging – oil can be used to seal the ends of your hair and maintain a healthy scalp. Remember, moisturized hair is healthy, happy hair!



photo (6)Some of Aisha’s favorite natural skin care products come from Lush, a cosmetics company that prides itself on the creation of fresh handmade products. She enjoys indulging in various handmade soaps (especially one made out of honey), soaking in oatmeal baths, and rubbing her body down with handmade lotion. Although buying handmade cosmetics comes at a price, we have to pick and choose how we’re going to treat ourselves, and this is where Aisha indulges. Plus, none of the products she buys are tested on animals!

Oh, and have you ever heard of the Oil Cleansing Method? It is amazing! Simone loves using coconut oil, avocado oil, and/or olive oil to clean her face. She follows this routine everyday, especially after workouts to keep her face firm and clear of breakouts. These oils are also great for the entire body, so get obsessed!

Feminine Hygiene – Yes, down there! We use natural products EVERYWHERE.

Simone uses natural vaginal cleansers that are gentle and moisturizing – a lot of vaginal washes come in lavender, rose, and other scents. In fact, there are also many natural foods that promote womb wellness and give you a fresher, cleaner feeling. Natural health practitioner and author, Queen Afua gives some examples in her book, Heal Thyself for Health and Longevity, of live foods that can be eaten for healthy feminine hygiene and wellness: mango, papaya, coconut water, ginger, sorrel, honeydew, celery, parsnip, cucumber, and greens such as kale, spinach, and chard. And here’s a recipe for a natural cleansing bath:

  • 1tbsp. cinnamon
  • 3tbsp. rosewater/3tsps. rose oil
  • Natural foaming liquid
  • Handful of patchouli
  • 1-2 lbs. Dead Sea Salt (for deep relaxation)
  • Soak 20 – 30 minutes

And who loves a nice Brazilian wax? We do! Hey Fran Hey has an awesome recipe for a raw and organic hair remover that we cannot wait to try! You can also use this sugar wax on other parts of your body.


Natural care for nails? Oh, but of course. Simone recently said goodbye to acrylic nails and hello to coconut oil to promote nail growth. Acrylic nails may look good, but they are very damaging and can often leave your nail bed weak and unattractive after removing them. For Simone, coconut oil has been the best solution for nail health and growth. The nutrients in the oil help to strengthen your cuticles and the nail bed, too. Massage coconut oil into your hands and nails two to three times a week, and before you know it, you will have long, strong claws! Okay, maybe you don’t want claws, but the strength is to die for.

We realize that all of this may be super overwhelming, so we’ve compiled a list of our favorite resources and products that we hope you’ll incorporate in your daily routine. Most of the products we use are raw and organic for an extra clean look and feel!

  • Jojoba Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Argan Oil
  • Peppermint Oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Olive oil
  • Shea Moisture Products
  • Kinky Curly Knot-Today Leave-In
  • Witch Hazel (for cuts)
  • Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine
  • Encyclopedia of Healing Foods

Remember that becoming au naturel is a process. Your health and sanity are important, so be patient with yourself when it comes to learning about clean products. Looking and feeling good from the inside out and the outside in are a commitment, so take the time to get your research on. Invest in yourself. Go ‘head—get to know the skin you’re in!

Tip: Before buying ALL of these products, pair up with a friend so you can find what works best for you without wasting money.

Happy cleaning!

Simonepic2Simone Savannah is an English instructor and contributing writer for the Project on the History of Black Writing at the University of Kansas. She is currently pursuing a PhD in English-Creative Writing and Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies. Her poetry is based on personal experiences she can’t let go—imagined or otherwise. Simone also enjoys making green smoothies, attending Bikram Yoga classes, and laughing uncontrollably.


AISHA_BLOG[PHOTO]Aisha Upton is a first year PhD student at the University of Pittsburgh, studying Sociology and Women’s Studies. Her research interests: Black women in service organizations and violence against Black women. She is passionate about many things including community service, lipstick, baking, thrifting, knitting, and being a proud owner of a Cockapoo, Napoleon. At the intersection of being a diligent student, a fashionista, and an activist – you will find Aisha, attempting to find a balance.


Be sure to continue following Aisha + Simone’s unique take on Life + Style and the importance of letting who you are shine through when it comes to self-care, and defining your personal style.

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Health is W.E.A.L.T.H.S: Practicing Self-Care, Maintaining Wellness


LeRoyna Edwards – Ray of Sunlight
Photo by LeRoyna Edwards

Everyone has free will to choose what she or he desires. Wellness is a natural state of being, and it is my first desire. I realized as a young wom(b)man that in order to be successful in any aspect of my life I must be physically healthy; it is something that my cells yearn for every moment of the day. This desire for wellness motivates me, and I believe it is the foundation for true wealth and joy.

In order to maintain wellness, there are a number of practices – physical and non-physical elements – that are available to us daily. There is an acronym that I read years ago (and I’m unsure of the source now) that represents what I believe to be fundamental to wellness: Health is W.E.A.L.T.H.S.  W.E.A.L.T.H.S. = Water, Exercise, Air (breath), Light (sun and chakras), Thoughts (empowering and positive), Healthy foods (raw), and Sleep.

In other words, if we take time to:


we will experience vitality and richness from the stream of well being, creating a magnet for success in all of our endeavors.

There is an abundance of wellness; however, the first step towards it, is the desire to have it. Unfortunately, we have to experience a lack of wellness or dis-ease in the body to make us aware of the delicate balance. Dis-ease is rooted in a lack of attention to and awareness about our thoughts and actions, leaving the body unable to properly cope with what’s happening in our lives.

The body is a great teacher, as it uses physical and emotional responses and reactions as lessons in well being. Dis-ease is direct communication from your body to you that something is out of order – serving to push you to be better and to create the desire for a greater level of wellness.

I also believe that we have the ability to heal ourselves through the power of self-discipline, self-control, and self-awareness, as dis-ease usually means that one or more of the requirements for optimum health (water, exercise, air, light, thoughts, healthy food, and sleep) are out of balance. If you relax within the body and ask it for wisdom, it will reveal the therapy needed to restore your health.

quote_roni[article]I will share in upcoming blog posts some of my experiences with self-healing and how to apply the laws of health to your own daily life, exploring the true meaning of wealth. My how-tos will outline effective ways to make healthy habits a natural part of your routine, and these inexpensive, simple tips will help you maintain a happy, harmonious, and holistic lifestyle.

Many of us give so much to the world as nurturers and maintainers of those around us, that we forget to do the things that help us thrive. We forget simple self-care, and over time experience health challenges, dissatisfaction with life, and resentment in our relationships. Self-care is extremely important in the process of attracting an abundance of positive energy and love – for yourself and for others.

This year let’s make a commitment to love ourselves by practicing self-preservation through self-care. For now, I’ll leave you with this affirmation. Speak it, think it, live it: “My health is my wealth. When I take care of my health it is like depositing money in the bank of Abundant Life!”

roniSystar Roni Auset is a licensed yoga instructor, healthy living practitioner, holistic educator, and master joyologist! Her aim is to improve her community’s quality of life by promoting a healthy lifestyle. By offering educational workshops, health oriented events, youth productions, and training programs, Systar Roni teaches and encourages holistic health as a way to empower people to make choices that will positively impact their own health and that of their peers, families, and communities. Using the latest information about nutrition and natural living, as well as sharing knowledge about the benefits of physical activity and meditation, she intends to be a strong source of vitality within the community. If  you would like to schedule a workshop/yoga class, participate in the Circle 77 buying club, or support her work with youth,  please visit The Children Shall Lead Them Productions.