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 Tanu

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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 motivated and courageous Phoenix is Tanu:

 

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“I read books on spirituality from around the world, attend weekly seminars, and meditate. I indulge in creative activities; I paint and sketch because it’s like meditation.”

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

Loving myself first means that I pay attention to my needs and ensure my progress, growth, and experiences as an individual.

I love myself first by taking care of my health: mental, spiritual, and physical. It also means to respect my time by focusing my energy on fulfilling and nurturing relationships. I surround myself with people who respect me and friends whom I can count upon.

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

To take care of my mental health, I push myself out of mundane and repetitive tasks and put myself in new and challenging environments. I play puzzles and games and maintain a healthy social life.

To cater to my spiritual needs, I follow the teachings of a live Spiritual Master.  I read books on spirituality from around the world, attend weekly seminars, and meditate. I indulge in creative activities; I paint and sketch because it’s like meditation.

I stretch twice a day. I love the outdoors: biking, walking, and hiking. I am a vegetarian by choice, and I don’t have a sweet tooth. I eat home-cooked food with fruits and vegetables, and I have a nutritionist in the family who is always available for sound advice about food products and the nutrients in them.

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

Spending a year being bed ridden and then bouncing back to life made me empathetic. It also made me respect my time, energy, and every moment spent without being in pain. I understand the real meaning of living every moment.

I suffered immense pain for six long years with a deteriorating back and hip joints mobility until I was finally diagnosed and given the right treatment for arthritis which had destroyed both my hip joints; by then I had been completely immobile. This was the time when a few things happened to me: One, the realization that a disabled person’s life is really hard. A lot of people don’t seem to give it a thought. I used to be one of them. Two, emotional pain, that of my parents. I saw in their eyes the look of helplessness as they watched me suffer. They were more miserable than I was. This made me look for solutions even more aggressively. Three, realizing that we are all fighting or have fought silent battles, and some struggles are not visible to the naked eye. We should always make an effort to be kind. While I look very normal from the outside – no bruises, no cuts, no bandages – within it’s not the same. Never judge.

What have you learned from self-love?

Self love is one of the most empowering facets of my life. If I love me, I can then take care of my surroundings and people who surround me.  It gives me confidence and immense inner peace. This helps me take on challenges in life, and also make balanced and courageous decisions.

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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.


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

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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 inspiring Phoenix is Monique:

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

Loving myself first means realizing my own value and walking in that light at all times. Loving myself first means understanding that I am worthy of all of the positivity, joy, and PEACE of mind that I can experience in my God-given 24 hours – without guilt or hesitation. Loving myself first means believing I am worth it not because someone else told me so; because my Creator made it so!

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

I demonstrate the love I have for myself by making sure that what I take in physically, spiritually, and mentally is beneficial to MY health. From drinking water and walking to daily prayer and keeping a positive circle around me; I strive daily to honor the God within by treating myself well. Some days are more challenging than others, but with each new day, there is another opportunity for me to improve in self-love, and for that I am grateful!

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

Experiencing separation, divorce, and the challenges of rebuilding my life showed me where I needed to grow as a person. I had time to reflect on the mistakes I made and the reality that I really didn’t love myself, making it impossible to truly love someone else. Through those experiences, I learned that in order to heal and move forward, I had to first love myself enough to forgive – forgive others, and most importantly, forgive myself. Guilt, shame, and doubt were like weights around my neck. Once I shed those, I NEVER looked back. I knew God had more for me, and I was ready to go after it.

What have you learned from self-love?

From self-love, I have learned that as a woman I have the power to attract who and what I am into my circumference. All of my relationships are mirrors of some aspect of me, whether good or bad. Negativity doesn’t just magically appear; I either cause it or allow it in my life. Period. Love for self doesn’t produce victims; it gives birth to survivors. Once love for self became more than a cliché and actually became my way of life, I began to repel what didn’t add to my life, and I attracted genuine love in return. On June 17, I will celebrate 3 years of marriage to the man I believe God sent to me.  And I am enjoying the journey of finally meeting the Monique I never knew. When I look at myself five years ago and now, all I can say is God is the Greatest!

 

Monique’s LYFF Collage:

We asked our Phoenix, Monique, to submit photos demonstrating self-love in action or even photos that radiate the feeling of loving who she is. We created a collage (shown above) of the images she wanted to share. Here’s what she had to say about why these authentically reflect her self-love:  “The photos I have chosen are a powerful testimony of the transformation that loving God and myself have caused in my life!”

Thanks for sharing your self-love story with us, Monique. You are definitely a Phoenix Rising!

 

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If you’d like to share your self-love story with The Collective contact us here.

Love Yourself First! Friday is a bi-weekly self-love series created by The Phoenix Rising Collective. Beautiful, diverse women tell stories of triumph, share personal affirmations, and declare love for their 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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It’s Love Yourself First! Friday: Today’s Phoenix is Tanya

Tanya_LYFF_Feature[Collage]

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 motivated and courageous Phoenix is Tanya:

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

Quite frankly, I have had to learn this lesson over and over again during my youth. When I reached my forties it resonated pretty quickly that self-love is the number one way to navigate the nuances of life. I think of it this way – if I don’t put myself first, then who will? People think this perspective is selfish, but I distinctly recall an episode of Oprah’s Lifeclass with guest – Rick Warren (Author of The Purpose Driven Life). Warren unapologetically said, “One must live for an audience of one.”

Women are taught early to people-please, and I was no exception. I was living an invisible life that I did not have to live. I learned that I was giving myself away – whether in small pieces or big chunks; I never realized there was always a reason behind my actions. So, I have created my own Bill of Rights for how I take on love, life, and relationships that include the element of self-care. One of those commitments is honoring self. I am valuable and should not allow myself to be diminished. What does that mean for me? In every encounter I will acknowledge my emotions.

Another defining moment was becoming a mother. It changed me completely. I am the single mother of a 17-year old daughter. Unbeknownst to my child, she has helped me on my self-love journey. She gave me enough strength to leave bad relationships behind and be a role model. There have been many times that I have left a relationship because it did not honor me as a woman. Life is too short to not be with others who are liked-minded and display acts of love.

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Tanya – LYFF Phoenix Feature

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

I read a lot of books on spiritual development. I also go to church, as often as my schedule permits, but when I am not able to attend I listen to the word wherever I am.  To remain focused and for a renewed sense of confidence to make it through life’s challenges, I read books by many spiritual leaders. Being a single mother, I also teach my daughter about God and how she can cast her cares on him.

I am also an advocate for well-rounded health. In an effort to bless my temple, I eat healthy, and in February I became a vegetarian. While I might not keep up this practice, I don’t eat red meat or pork and have not done so for over 17 years. Every day I make proper food choices and incorporate drinking plenty of water for optimum health.

I work out at least three to four days a week. Even when I have a busy day and am tired I still try to work out. It is during these times that I must do a little self-talk to stay encouraged. I love the benefits of working out; I’m able to maintain my weight for my age and height.

This discipline helps me stay well balanced in all areas. I believe I started working out more at 40 because I noticed that my metabolism shifted, and I also observed that for women, maintaining good health is so crucial. Working out should be a lifestyle for any woman, at any age.

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

Yes, (1) The loss of a loved one can create a space (sometimes so empty) that I have to truly examine life; it is but a flicker in the wind. Losing a loved one makes me cherish how special a person really is.

And, (2) Before I can truly love another person, I must learn to love me. It sounds cliché but at times I have purposely refrained from relationships to get back to the basics of creating a loving space for me. Honestly, I am actually in that space right now. As women, we are givers. I want everything and everyone around me to be happy but for some unforeseen reason this expectation does not include me.

Lastly (3) My advice is to never be fraudulent. Every conversation is a relationship, so when my vessel is full, I take time to listen to music, recharge and get back to the middle. I have also learned how to be a sound gatekeeper of self.

What have you learned from self-love?

Self-love is the greatest gift that I can give to me. I must always stand up on the inside – displaying love for myself in countless circumstances. I must stand up on the inside before I can stand up on the outside by doing the work to be more loving and kind to me. I am not always good in this area, but when I find that I am not, I try to create a little self-space to get my focus back in order.

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If you’d like to share your self-love story with The Collective contact us here.

Love Yourself First! Friday is a weekly self-love series created by The Phoenix Rising Collective. Beautiful, diverse women tell stories of triumph, share personal affirmations, and declare love for their 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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AFFIRMATION OF THE DAY: I ask for help when I need it.

asking_for_help[affirmation]PHOENIX RISING COLLECTIVE

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! And if you are, ask anyway. Knowing that you can’t always go it alone or pick up the pieces on your own is a part of being in tune with who you are and honoring what you need. Asking for help strengthens the courage muscle. It is self-care, so be open to it in diverse forms. Expand the resources available to you and create abundance. You deserve it.

Be self-love in action.

 


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A Letter of Love To My Sisters: A Truthful Conversation about the Pressures of Everyday Life

black women and mental health[the phoenix rising collective]

On her Saturday morning news show in mid- April 2014, Melissa Harris-Perry interviewed hip hop emcee Pharoahe Monch. During the interview, she asked him about the significance of his new album being titled P.T.S.D. (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). He calmly replied that he wanted to be more transparent on this album and discuss his personal challenges with depression. While watching this short but candid interview I was also skimming various online articles about beauty/lifestyle blogger and founder of FOR BROWN GIRLS, Karyn Washington, committing suicide. While the details vary (at least expressed through various media outlets) about the reasons the beautiful 22 year old committed suicide, my initial response was, what it always is when I learn someone – anyone – decides to take their own life, “why?”. This isn’t a question to judge or criticize with a “chile, please” side-eye. It’s more of a question that’s posed to understand the psychological, emotional, and/or spiritual rationale for the decision. It ponders whether or not it could have been prevented. It’s an inquisitive attempt to discern what seemingly unresolved inner struggles led to suicide as a final decision. It’s a “why” harboring great disdain toward a healthcare system in which African-Americans are disproportionately under served or denied access to quality mental health services. Of this striking statistic, black women specifically are drastically impacted. According to NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Health), “Many African American women do not seek treatment because it is viewed as a weakness and not a mental health problem. Only 12% of African American women seek help and/or treatment.” We have been conditioned to mask or suppress symptoms of depression, stress, anxiety, low self-esteem, etc. by hiding behind a face full of M.A.C., taking antidepressant pills, gulping down bottles of wine like Olivia Pope, or the other extreme, contemplating ending life altogether.

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Karyn Washington, Founder, For Brown Girls

This cyclone of thoughts swirled in my head for about 15 minutes. Then I went on a reflective journey examining my own battle with depression, as well as the need for even more transparency in my relationships and candor about discussing my mental health issues. I also considered all the black women in my family and intimate circle, as well as those whom I work with and others I may share an exchange or two with during the morning commute. We all attempt to bare the face of Ms. Got-my-stuff-together-and-I’m-in-control; yet many of us are visibly and quickly unraveling at the seams. Generally speaking, many black women are not communing with one another (or anyone else) to have truthful conversations about the daily pressures that plague us.

I am a firm believer that every human emotion is governed by either fear or love. We can attach a myriad of adjectives to our emotions, but essentially they all trace back to fear or love. That said, how can black women begin to collectively conquer the fear of admitting to mental exhaustion or defeat in our lives? How do we begin to shatter the illusion of poker-faced perfection we’ve allowed to permeate our beings? How do we create the sacred spaces amongst ourselves, and if necessary, go back (one, two, or three generations) to our foremothers and examine the cyclical and recurring themes surrounding battles with mental health? Finally, how can we nurture and support one another in operating at our highest capacities within institutions that are mere microcosms of a larger culture that explicitly undermines and devalues our effort (to say the least) toward equal existence in every facet of our lives?

I don’t have all the answers nor am I a mental healthcare professional by any stretch of the imagination. However, as a womyn that considers herself to be colossally self-aware and observant of other womyn around her, I very vividly witness my reflection all around me. Sisters, many of us are sharing a global experience. Let’s open our eyes, our hearts, our minds, and our mouths to vehemently discuss all that runs rampant in promoting constant turmoil and decay. We cannot and should not carry this burden alone. Let’s seek out the help, support, treatment, circles, resources etc. that we need to help us shift into the divine image and likeness we were created in.

It has been one of my most intentional prayers that black women can embark on a new journey. And on this journey we learn the profound impact of initiating decisions that support us compassionately, intensely, fearlessly, unabashedly, and fully loving ourselves and one another. Divine Goddesses, we have the ability to be vulnerable and powerful at the same time.

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About the Contributing Writer:

Kaneesha_bio_pic[shine]W. KaNeesha Allen is the Motherhood Empowerment contributor for The Phoenix Rising Collective. She is an educator with extensive project management, student support services, and community outreach experience in K-12 and higher education institutions. She is also the mother of two extremely rambunctious and fun loving boys – Ausar and Mikah. Seeking to master the balance between being a highly engaged mother and taking time to BE with herself in the divine energy of the universe, KaNeesha finds peace, solace, and regeneration through meditation, Vinyasa yoga, and her “Sistah Circle”. She welcomes mothers from everywhere to join her on a journey of self-discovery and evolution towards harnessing, embodying, and emoting the Goddess power within.


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AFFIRMATION OF THE DAY: I believe in what I want for my life.

manifesting_vision[the phoenix rising collective]

Nurture the vision you have for your life by believing that it will manifest. Whatever it is: starting a business, writing a book, finding a spiritual partner/soul mate, having a family, buying a home, taking a trip by yourself, finishing a college course, etc. You name it. If you’re affirming through your thoughts and actions that it’s what you really want, then trust that things are positively moving in that direction. Believe that the universe is working for your greatest good. Stop worrying about how it will happen; in fact, let go of ‘how’ and trust that what you need (when you need it) will be provided at the right time. Stay open to and flexible in your experiences and ever mindful of signs that your vision is manifesting itself. View your setbacks and challenges along the way (whether major or minor) as course correction, lessons to be learned in preparation for the vision’s fruition. Stop asking when it will happen, and KNOW that it is happening.

REPEAT: It is happening!

Believe.

Be self-love in action.