The Phoenix Rising Collective

Inspiring Women to be Self-Love in Action


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SELF-LOVE TIP OF THE WEEKEND: Through Self-Love You Learn How to Love

Tathina LYFF Feature2 [thephoenixrisingcollective]

Through self-love, I have learned how to love. Period. Loving myself when I was in a personal hell or when I was considered wrong or when I was stripped of everything I once used as a distraction taught me how to love all of existence. Compassion started to grow. I have discovered that when I’m taking care of myself, everything else is taken care of (even when my mind judges it to be wrong). Yes, some who are not in peace with this change may not be happy with my self-love/self-care and will get their feathers ruffled and think I’m selfish. This is their issue to make peace with.

Selfishness is expecting others to do for you what you should be doing for yourself. Self-love is our sole responsibility and freedom. It is empowering for all! I allow those that don’t accept me for who I am to leave my Life; this is their freedom and mine to be ourselves. Namasté.

 

Did you miss our Phoenix feature, Tathina’s, Love Yourself First! Friday story? Well, check it out here.

Have a great weekend, Phoenix! Be self-love in action.


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Join Us! The Fullness of Me Workshop – Spirit Affirming Self-Care Practices for Women Ready to be Self-Love in Action

Hey, Phoenixes! If you’re in Columbus, OH or surrounding areas join us Saturday, August 22, 2015, 1pm – 4pm at Gather.  Before the busyness of the fall season begins, we are retreating in a sacred space with fellow Phoenixes who have also made a commitment to practicing healthy self-care regimens. This is your chance to connect with yourself and create authentic connections with others.

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!

FullnessWorkshop[EBlast]PRC

 


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It’s Love Yourself First! Friday: Today’s Phoenix is Santana

Santana_LYFF_Collage

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

Loving myself means making consistent intentional choices every day that place my well-being first. It’s a philosophical practice that manifests in almost every facet of daily life. For me, it’s been evolving as my life and my demands have transitioned from college student to working professional.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned regarding self-love is that I cannot and should not think of acts of self-love as an indulgence, but rather as necessary maintenance. I am at my best when I place my personal care first. This was a surprisingly difficult shift for me to make and maintain. It requires a lot of work, but it’s the best kind of work. I had to expand my definition of personal care to encompass a variety of activities that make me feel my best, and allow me to take time to focus on nurturing my mind, body, and soul.

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Santana and her dog, Cassie, after a hike.

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

When I’m feeling down about myself, I find a quiet place and repeat (out loud!) the mantra “Although (insert reason I’m upset or anxious), I love and accept myself completely.” It’s a striking physical and emotional experience to say that out loud. I’ve learned to own and accept my reactions and feelings, while reinforcing my self-love. I’ve learned I must take ownership of how I feel about myself. I am the only person who validates me.

This year, the most important change in my self-care ritual has been taking care of my body. I spend much of my work week sitting at a desk. When I was in college I spent much more time being active and walking and so physical activity was much less of a concern. This year, I noticed that my mood was becoming more variable, and my daily anxiety level was growing, so I decided to start making efforts to temper that. To be my best self I must make an effort to show love to my body by using it and learning about all the wonderful things it can do.

Yoga has been a transformative and complete self-love activity. Two to three times a week I spend an hour or so focusing on my body, my breath, and my soul. I love that yoga is non-competitive and that I have so much freedom in practicing it. Yoga can be modified to any skill or mobility level and the goals are personal. So often, we’re critical of our bodies and yoga is my favorite way to temper that negativity. Every movement is intentional and self-loving. I’ve gained so much confidence in myself through it—not because I’m particularly good at it, but because I’ve learned to be okay with not being successful at some poses. I can be a perfectionist, and yoga is a time for me to fail, and come out on the other side feeling proud of myself for just trying my best. In my last class, I fell over at least three times! I didn’t feel judged by anyone else there though, and I didn’t judge myself either—actually I found my failures kind of endearing! Philosophically, yoga has taught me about the importance of effort and surrender—I can place my full effort into anything, and because of that, I can feel okay about surrendering the results to the forces that be. This thinking is very helpful for my inner perfectionist and “control freak.”

Hiking is another way that I can work my body in a non-competitive and fulfilling way. I live in a rural area, and there are plenty of trails that match my comfort and skill level (which is fairly low). I can set my own pace when hiking, which I love. I bring my dog, Cassie, and we can bond through the activity. My favorite part is reaching the top and feeling like I’ve succeeded. Through setting physical goals for myself and then reaching them, I gain confidence and love myself.

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Bell peppers – Santana’s garden

The act of cooking is another way I nourish myself completely. I live in a different state than my family, so one way I can feel close to them is through cooking recipes that my mother and grandmother have taught me. If I’m feeling homesick, making a favorite meal is a way to temper that. These recipes are a gift that they’ve given me and that I can share with people close to me. I’ve taken more initiative with my diet by adopting recipes that are not only tasty, but healthy too. When I sauté kale, garlic, and beets, I know that I’m providing my body with strength, nutrients, and something yummy, that’s empowering!

Eating healthy is doubly exciting when I cook the vegetables I grow in my own garden. How fulfilling to till, plant, cultivate, and harvest your own produce! I maintain my connection to the Earth and nature and I remind myself of the sanctity of food. I feel like a shepherd to my garden and my vegetables. After spending all day inside an office during the work week, I love to kick off my shoes and walk barefoot in the soil while tending to my plants.

One of my most important self-care actions I practice is allowing myself to be silly! I embrace having solo dance parties (in the printing room at work, in my car, or the kitchen while cooking dinner). If I catch myself being critical of my reflection in the mirror, I’ll start making silly faces at myself until I laugh. Part of growing up for me has been learning to take care of myself in an internal way and being silly is sometimes the best medicine.

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

For a long time I wrestled with my racial identity. Largely because the way others viewed my racial identity varied so much depending on what part of the country or the world I was in. I’ve always dreaded the “what are you?” question because my answer is so complicated and normally the person asking isn’t looking for an answer that’s been 23 years in the making. Although it is still a work in progress, I’m learning to embrace the fluidity of my identity. Rather than thinking of myself as an outlier or outsider because of my varied experiences, I’ve learned to see it as a tool through which I can more easily connect with a wide range of people. Through changing my perspective, I’ve learned to see my experiences as empowering rather than exclusionary. I’ve learned that I don’t owe an explanation to anyone regarding myself, and the way that I navigate my identity can be personal, unique, and special. Developing and naming my own agency in potentially marginalizing encounters has been a huge step in my own self-care.

What have you learned from self-love?

Self-love spills over into all other aspects of our lives. When you’re at your best, you provide so much more positivity and light. In many ways self-love is the best act of kindness. I’ve learned that if I want to have meaningful and beneficial relationships, self-love needs to be my top priority. I think in many relationships, the idea that “I’ll take care of you and you’ll take care of me” is common and potentially detrimental. That mentality can lead to a lot of pressure, false expectations, and resentment. I’ve found that in reality, the better philosophy is “Because I love you, I’ll love, take responsibility for, and care of myself.” Self-love translates into healthier, more supportive partnerships. It’s the foundation to a beautiful life.

Santana’s LYFF Collage:

We asked Santana to also 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 AND below, because they were too inspiring to just choose three or four) of the awesome images she wanted to share.

Santana selected these images because “these photos make me proud of myself. In these moments I was trying something new, enjoying outside, or being exuberant and joyful. These are moments where I felt truly alive and in the moment!”

santana_collage_2[the phoenix rising collective]

Thank you for sharing your self-love story, Santana. 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 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: This Phoenix is Meaghan

LYFF_Feature_Meaghan[thephoenixrisingcollective]

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 brave Phoenix is Meaghan:

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

Loving myself first means three things to me: forgiving, showing up, and sharing.

  1. Forgiving myself: Since I was a child, I have been told I am just too sensitive, thin-skinned, needlessly vulnerable. I have always felt things incredibly deeply, and it shows. For a long time, I allowed others to take advantage of this part of me and even chastise me for it, telling me it was a flaw, a softness that needed to be hardened. But loving myself started with forgiving myself for these perceived weaknesses, which then opened up the opportunity to protect my vulnerability, and even, to insist upon it being something helpful and constructive.
  2. Showing up for myself: Once I learned to embrace the complexities of my emotional life, I was more ready to defend, preserve, and nurture it. This meant being more verbal when I felt I was being mistreated or ignored or emotionally abused; it also meant coming to the difficult and liberating conclusion that no one else was going to do this for me. As it goes, when I began articulating my worth, I lost some people who I thought were my friends. But the process has left me with a small, strong group of people I consider my chosen family. They respect, love, and appreciate me.
  3. Sharing myself: Once I learned to accept, appreciate, and defend who I am, I became more ready to share myself with the world. Part of loving myself means using my talents, intellect, and skills toward something that fulfills me: right now, it is through teaching and contributing to Human Rights scholarship. I hope to continue doing this once I graduate: I wish for myself a fulfilling life, and it’s my intention to show up and make that dream a reality.

 

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“I am learning how to embrace the beauty of my body…” -Meaghan, LYFF Feature

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

My favorite part of self-care has been creating rituals. My oil baths are legendary in my household, my partner understanding that this time is my time: I use organic oils and salts in a warm bath, and sink into the water with candlelight flickering around me. I light incense, and on a particularly tough day, smudge the space with sage. It is my moment with the divine, where I cleanse and nourish my skin and my mind after work. It helps me shed the stresses of the day.

I have discovered great solace in yoga, and practice at least 3 times a week staying present, feeling graceful (sometimes clumsy!), and building strength. This, in addition to weekly cardio, helps to keep my mood elevated and my mind clear. My personal fitness routine has helped me build a completely new self-image: instead of the un-athletic gym class dropout I thought I was, I know now that I am, in fact, made of poetry and sinewy muscles that can balance, extend, and flex.

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

So, I am going to overcome an obstacle just by writing this answer, and in so doing, I hope to demonstrate my idea of what self-love is. I live with depression, a mental illness that affects women and men around the world. As I grow and change, my depression changes with me. It has had different iterations, and manifests itself differently at different stages of my life. One of the most difficult stages was when I was a freshman in college: I was feeling profoundly alone, and with no one to confide in, I began having thoughts of suicide. I had no desire to eat, was losing weight rapidly, and did not leave my dorm room for days on end, save to go to class. It wasn’t until I had the courage to call my mother, and tell her that I was not doing okay, that I had been thinking of ways to quietly end my life. I told her how I was feeling, and asked her for help (Thank you, Mom, I love you). That was seven years ago, and I could not be prouder of my 18-year-old self for reaching out, and for continuing to struggle. While many may think that this was a time of weakness, I see it as a display of strength. I wanted to keep fighting, and fight I did.

I am writing this now because I made that phone call. I helped save my own life.

I reject the notion that we need to be quiet about these experiences: no one should ever suffer in silence or isolation. Our cultural stigmas around depression and other mental illnesses breed silence, and I refuse to perpetuate this damaging norm. If you are suffering, please tell someone. There are people who care about you, who want to help you leave this pain behind, and want to help you embrace your beautiful life for everything it could and will be.

I look back on that time, that person, with compassion and sadness. I see now I rarely allowed myself to dream: I was so enveloped in my depression that I could not see myself growing up or growing older. I did not think I would make it so far. I am learning now what it’s like to have a vision for my future, and it is overwhelming and wonderful and absolutely terrifying all at the same time. I see a social worker for therapy, practice mindful meditation, and read books that address the sources of my depression: for me, it is shame. Shame is a very powerful thing, as an emotion and as a socially constructed tool to keep women caged. Brene Brown’s book I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough” both articulates this struggle in the context of womanhood and provides some resources for how to cope with shame. It has provided me new ways to protect my vulnerabilities and use them constructively, to build a new idea of who I am and who I want the world to know.

What have you learned from self love?

Oh, I have learned so, so much from self-love, and continue to learn more. I have learned I am worthy, that love for myself multiplies and becomes love for and from others. I have learned that treating myself with compassion means I am more ready to treat others with compassion. It has given me a sense of belonging and community, a sense of possibility and a lasting relationship with myself.

Meaghan_Photos[Phoenix]

Meaghan also tunes in to self-care through writing and receiving love from her cat, Chickadee.

Meaghan’s LYFF Collage:

Here’s a little more about the photos she selected:

Top Right + Bottom Left: I have a lot of fun trying on different types of self-presentation, and I think style is a great way to express a multi-faceted personality. It is something accessible and fun for me, and helps me to take myself not-so-seriously.

Bottom Right: I am learning how to embrace the beauty of my body, to celebrate its strength and accept its flaws. This is a new concept for me, one I’m still exploring.

 

Thanks, Meaghan for sharing your LYFF story! You are definitely a Phoenix Rising.

 


 

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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Love Yourself First! [FLASHBACK] Friday – Today’s Phoenix is Natasha

natasha_LYFF[poster]

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

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

Like so many women, loving myself first has been a challenge. Women, in particular, are socialized to care for and assume responsibility for others in ways that can be detrimental to wholly loving and caring for ourselves. We’re conditioned to be “givers.” This isn’t a bad thing. It’s a wonderful quality but women should also be encouraged to be givers to ourselves as well. At 33 years old, I am finally learning this lesson. I have finally heeded the advice of my husband, mother, and friends. I now take time to nurture myself through writing, performance, and other creative pursuits. I read, meditate, and do yoga. I make the time to regularly get with my close girlfriends (see photo below of Natasha with her Goddess Squad) who provide me with constant encouragement, enlightenment, good food, and laughter. Loving myself first also means treating myself with compassion. So often, I would beat myself up trying to be the perfect mother, wife, career woman, friend, mentor, student, daughter, etc. I’m getting better at saying “I’m doing the best that I can. That’s all that I can do, and it’s enough.” Loving myself means honoring my process and embracing my authenticity. It means knowing that I am abundant and absolutely worthy of giving AND receiving.

Goddess Squad 7-9-2013What actions demonstrate the self-care you provide to your mind, body, and soul? (Exercise, healthy eating, spiritual practice, etc.)

I am very big on meditation, mindfulness, and yoga. I jump between Iyengar, Vinyasa, and Kundalini yoga. I also do strengthening core exercises. I don’t follow any particular diet but I am mindful of what I put in my body,  and I eat in moderation. I love creating a very Zen-like environment in my home. There is lots of natural sunlight.  I like fresh flowers, candles, and art. It’s important to me that my space reflects the beauty of nature. I am heavily influenced by indigenous spiritual practices and am an I-Ching practitioner. I also like to sing, dance, and play with my kids.

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

I am learning the importance of emotional self-sufficiency. It involves honoring my emotions by owning them.  It’s really rooted in the understanding that others are not responsible for my emotional health.  I now understand that having an emotional state that is predicated on other people’s actions is like living your life on shifting sand; you will always live in that unstable and reactionary place. I’ve made a conscious decision to shy away from that kind of co-dependence and to know that authentic happiness comes from my internal source.

What have you learned from self-love?

I’ve learned that self-love is not a destination. It’s an ongoing, lifelong process. There will be an ebb and flow to it. There are so many elements in this world that work very hard to prevent us from fully loving ourselves as we are. So, it’s a constant challenge. There will be days where I won’t be so good at it and that’s okay. It’s really all about the process of constantly growing in ways that require me to keep unveiling and rediscovering myself. _________________________________________ We asked Natasha to also 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 awesome images she chose to share:

  1. Top left – Showing a naturally beautiful representation of happiness
  2. Top right – Sharing her Mala prayer/chanting beads and rice bowl for meditation
  3. Bottom left – Spending time with her son and the participants in her RAISE IT UP! program; Natasha is the co-founder and executive director.
  4. Bottom right – Meditating with her sons

Thank you Natasha for sharing your LYFF story with us. You are a Phoenix rising! Happy Friday. __________________________________________ Love Yourself First! Friday is a bi-weekly self-love series created by The Phoenix Rising Collective. Diverse women 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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It’s Love Yourself First! Friday: This Phoenix is Nakshidil

Love Yourself First Friday[Nakshidil]ThePhoenixRisingCollective

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 beautiful Phoenix is Nakshidil:

 

Nakshidil_Ocean[ThePhoenixRisingCollective]

Nakshidil on the beach in Mauritius.

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

Self-love to me means waking up in the morning and feeling in tune with my mind, body and soul. It’s the positive energy that courses through my body when the sunlight hits my skin or that sense of euphoria that engulfs me on demand.

My drive and determination to constantly feel the love that surrounds me is what I use as my fuel to grow and bask in my passions. I think that’s one of the most important parts about self-love; it’s the ability for someone to understand herself in a profound manner that yields acceptance. Being able to wake up every morning and accept who you are and where you have been is the most powerful weapon on earth because it ultimately acts as a motivator.

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

One of the things my mom has always told me and it continues to resonate with me is that life is volatile; you need to enjoy the simple pleasures of life while you can. I am a lover of clouds. I often stop in the middle of what I am doing if I am outside just to admire them. I love laying down under trees in the shade and watching the way the sunlight hits the leaves. It makes me feel at peace and I can remove myself from the hustle and bustle of my daily routine and hectic surroundings.

I make it a point to take a few minutes every day to do the superman pose. I stand tall with my hands on my hips and look at the sky. I take deep breaths and tell myself I’ve got this. I can do this. Today is my day.

I have also realized the importance of doing the things I love when I feel like it and to invest myself, wholeheartedly, in everything I undertake.

I cook often because I love food. It’s therapeutic and soothes my mind.

Being around my friends and family brightens my day and I find solace in seeing those dear to my heart happy, so I try to spend as much time as possible around the people I care about most.

Another thing that makes me feel alive is dancing. I find every opportunity I can to dance. Whether it’s raining, music or no music, while shopping – it brightens my soul and makes me feel alive.

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

I think that moving to America for my undergraduate studies was one the biggest obstacles and adventures I embarked on. The culture shock and being away from home (alongside several different personal experiences) made me understand that self-love and acceptance of the different experiences that I have been affected by are what make me who I am. It has transformed me into the woman I am now. I have found strength in times of weakness, determination in times of despair, and love in times of pain.

What have you learned from self-love?

I have learned that I am my biggest supporter and I am stronger than I know. Self-love has taught me that in order to heal I need to accept, and once I have accepted I can begin building my foundation for empowerment.

 

Nakshidil’s LYFF Collage:

Here’s a little more about the photos she selected:

Top Right – “I was giving a speech at an event during my time as Student Government President of UM-Flint: The photo reminds me to never lose track of my passions, goals, and objectives. It reminds me that impossible is nothing and that if you set your mind to something you can achieve it as long as you have the will power to do so. It’s a testimony to my intense year as president, but in that moment it all made sense because of how happy I was doing what I love to do.”

Bottom Left – “My family back home. My rock. My foundation. My constant. They are my biggest motivators and support system and I wouldn’t trade them in for the world. This photo is a reminder to never forget my roots, my culture and the important people in my life.”

Bottom Right – “I’m in Mauritius on the beach (it was a gorgeous day out, the clouds were stunning, the sun was shining bright, and the sea water was crystal clear). It reminds me a lot about the simple pleasures in life. Sometimes you need to just take a break, kick off your heels, let your hair loose, and feel the moment.”

 

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Nakshidil. You are definitely a Phoenix Rising!

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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 Miriam

Miriam_LYFF[thephoenixrisingcollective]

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 adventurous Phoenix is Miriam:

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

Loving myself is a complicated thing and sometimes I’m exceptionally bad at it. I think the secret (and the challenge) is finding ways to live in the moment – to let go of versions of myself in the past and the versions I am worrying about in the future. That’s really hard to do, but the goal is to forgive myself for being human, to accept my flaws, to work to address them, and to live my life developing into the best human being I can be. Doing all this is like watering your garden and warming up it with golden sunshine in spring so that you bloom into your own unique flower.

There are values that are sacrosanct, that define what a healthy, fulfilling life is for me. If I’m not feeling fulfilled then I’m unhappy, and if I’m unhappy then I’m not taking care of myself in the ways I need to feel that. For example, being upfront about my needs with people can feel really awkward because I’m not used to doing it. I’m an INTJ/INFJ – very internal, and I don’t like conflict (see Emotional Intelligence Assessment). But I learned the hard way that if I don’t speak up for myself about what I want and honestly try to engage others to find a solution that works for both of us – whether it’s something as minor as scheduling where and when to eat lunch or as major as figuring out how much of a salary I deserve – the price I pay in the end can be very high emotionally and even physically.

It can also be little things like telling friends, “I am not being social for a few weeks so I can get the emotional charge time I need.” I used to feel really ashamed and “not normal” about that, and then I realized that if I am happier when my batteries are recharged then who is to say what’s “normal?” Nothing terrible happens if you ask for what you need and what you’re asking for is reasonable and doesn’t harm anyone else. You just have to find ways to be respectful and loving of the people in your life as you find ways to be respectful and loving to yourself.

Miriam[3]

Miriam’s impromptu trip to Santorini.

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

I love learning and travel. My mind is hungry for stories. I’m a writer and a reader, and although I do love to read I am always curious about the esoteric, but in a practical, real-life sense. I don’t want to find it in a book. I want to travel there, and see and smell it for myself!

Also, I’m always trying to get better at practicing meditation and mindful living. Sometimes I think meditation is a moment between thought and action versus sitting for prolonged periods of time in silence. I try to find those moments between prefrontal cortex and id, between action and reaction. I find I’m able to love myself and others more when I’m in that moment.

I also like to;

  1. Play video games – I love RPGs and first-person shooters like Call of Duty. It’s super relaxing and also engaging in a way that TV isn’t for me. It also relieves stress.
  2. Dance – Hula/Tahitian, bellydancing, hiphop. I take UJam. It’s fun to be in my body and just move without restriction, I feel like in our workaday lives we are generally discouraged from remembering and being IN our bodies.
  3. Improve my health – I’m on a mission, so there are a lot more vegetables going on in my life than there used to be. It’s a new challenge figuring out how to cook a variety to keep from getting bored, but I know my health is worth it!

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

I come from some difficult family relationships that were effectively abusive throughout my childhood, emotionally and sometimes physically. Somewhere in there as a child I realized that if I didn’t love myself the way I wanted to be loved and seek out the love I deserved from other good spirits in the world, I wasn’t going to ever find it. That sounds a bit despairing, but I knew it in my soul with the power of a child’s boundless hopefulness. I knew that I would love and be loved the way I deserved to be and that it had to start with me.

What have you learned from self-love?

I’ve learned that loving myself is the key to real happiness, and that the only person who can truly bring me happiness is me. Loving myself fills me with the strength I need to love others. It’s an elliptical battery that serves power both ways: Love yourself, fill yourself up with good; share it with the world and it comes back to you.

When my battery is full I am at my best – creative, energetic, and connecting with others in new and exciting ways. I’m kicking butt, taking names, and never doubting my success. I grow into a better version of myself, evolving at a faster rate than when I am preoccupied with unhealthy things or people that take me off my path.

Miriam’s LYFF Collage:

Here’s a little more about the photos she selected:

Top Right – “I’m hosting an indulgent Birthday Party/Halloween Extravaganza for my friends and I in San Francisco. I chose this because it shows me goofing off but also glamming up. I believe it’s healthy to celebrate yourself sometimes, and have a little fun with it.”

Bottom Left – “This is an impromptu trip to Santorini by myself. When it isn’t blazingly sunny, it’s brutally windy and a little rough on the hair! I booked a room to write in for one week with a great view. It was a chance to recharge my soul and mind. I strongly believe in taking these moments when I can.”

Bottom Right – “On a trip to Koh Samui, Thailand taking a cooking class at a local’s home. I was making coconut milk from scratch! (We even shredded the coconut!) I chose this because it’s me in my element – comfortable and doing something I love while learning something new.

 

To learn more about Miriam check out her travel and culture blog: Black Girl Abroad. It’s “stories, plans, and opinions from an American girl seeking adventure!”

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

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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 Faith

 

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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 awesome Phoenix is Faith:

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

For me, self-love is very much intertwined with self-acceptance. Part of this is simply being my authentic self instead of trying to be the person others want or expect me to be – something I’ve struggled with in the past.

Sometimes it means accepting my limitations and not expecting perfection. My best is enough. I’ve learned to set boundaries and not take on too much, just to make someone else happy. Sometimes you have to say no.

At the same time, I think self-love is partially what enables me to push myself to achieve. I grew up knowing I wanted more for my life than I felt I was being offered. Because I love myself, I have worked hard to accomplish many goals. I’m proud of who I am and what I’ve accomplished so far, and I love myself enough to continue to strive for more.

Recipes

“I’ve found that the larger variety of healthy foods I eat, the more I enjoy making healthy choices and love to try new recipes.”

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

I put a lot of emphasis on mental self-care. I try to keep my self-talk positive. If I wouldn’t say something to a friend or to my daughter, why should I say it to myself? Speaking of friends, I try to nurture my relationships and surround myself with positive influences as much as possible. My friends are a priority in my life and I feel lucky that they make me a priority, too. I think that a good laugh or conversation with a friend can soothe the soul like nothing else.

I love to eat healthy (and delicious) food, and drink lots of water. I don’t believe in “dieting” or depriving myself of food. Instead, I try to incorporate as many fruits, veggies and whole grains as possible- and when I want something less healthy I eat it, too. I’ve found that the larger variety of healthy foods I eat, the more I enjoy making healthy choices and love to try new recipes. I hate the way society has taught so many women and girls to count every calorie and associate food with being “good” or “bad.” I try to eat for longevity and health – not what society says I should look like.

I try to work physical activity into my life, although in my current state (month 9 of pregnancy) I have been slacking. I’m not a person who enjoys traditional exercise and I hate running, so I have to find ways to make being active interesting for me. I really enjoy taking long walks (especially with my family). I also like participating in classes at my gym, like yoga or Zumba. I really want to get a bike, too! Anything that feels more like an adventure or experience rather than work is right up my alley.

Finally, I make sleep a priority. I recently heard someone describe sleep as the only basic human need that we tend to delegitimize or look at as a weakness. Most nights I am asleep not long after 10 p.m.

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

As a mother with a full-time career outside of the home, I face many demands and really have to work at balance. There have been days when I cried after dropping my daughter off at the sitter’s in the morning and there have been days when I cried when I had to leave a work meeting early to pick her up. Not many of my co-workers have children (and most of those who do have much older children), so there have definitely been times when I worried about how my commitment outside of work as a mother impacted perceptions of my job performance. There have been times that I felt guilty for being away from my daughter during the day. At the same time, I enjoy and am proud of both aspects of my life, so I’ve learned to allow myself to embrace the positive feelings that both working and being a mother bring into my life and let go of the negative feelings of self-doubt or not being “enough.” I show myself love by giving myself permission to focus on the task at hand – whether work or being with my daughter- without guilt. It helps having an awesome and supportive partner (my husband, Matt).

Motherhood has actually had a strong impact on my self-love in a lot of ways. I think one of the things I was afraid of before becoming a mother was losing a sense of myself. Instead, I’ve discovered a lot about myself that I didn’t know before. Sometimes I’m amazed at what I’m capable of. The amount of love I have for my daughter has given me confidence that I didn’t know I had. I make better choices because I know she is constantly watching and learning from me. Also, some of the things I love most about her are traits that I can also see in myself. How can I not love the things we have in common?

What have you learned from self-love?

Simple gratitude. I am more grateful than I can express for all the beauty in my life. It really is reciprocal: The more grateful I am for my life, the more I love myself. And the more I love myself, the more grateful I feel.

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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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Take Your Personal Fitness Goals Up a Notch With These Workouts (Video)

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It is spring, and summer is just around the corner! It is time to get those bodies moving. The benefits of physical activity are boundless and the impact is long-term. If you haven’t exercised in years or even never – this is the time to start! And if you are a veteran, it is always good to change up your activities to keep those muscles guessing.

Exercise controls weight, combats diseases, improves mental mood, boosts energy, improves sex life (YEP!), and it can be fun (seriously!). I have made great friends through fitness groups. Exercise comes in all forms and intensity levels; finding the right fit for you will ensure success.

Interval Training

I use interval training with all of my clients and in my group classes. I prefer this method because twenty seconds looks different for everyone and it is the best way to burn calories, build muscle, improve endurance, and meet your personal fitness goals.

You can turn anything into interval training! For example, during your morning run, for twenty seconds, sprint; rest for ten seconds, and repeat eight times. Or instead of regular pushups, perform pushups for twenty seconds, rest for ten seconds, and repeat six to eight times. Pushing your body out of its comfort zone coupled with the short rest, pushes your body into the anaerobic zone where most of the good results are seen.

The other great thing about interval training is that when you are done, your body enters Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). After all of the intervals, your body is in a state of restlessness but wants to get back to rest. While in EPOC your body is adapting to the previous exercise, restoring oxygen, repairing cells, and continuing to burn calories.

Interval training and EPOC improves your body’s ability to use oxygen, which means better endurance and more energy.

Try a few of these interval training workouts below:

 

In Health, Fitness, and Love!

Megan

For additional fitness coaching, contact Megan HERE.

And, of course, check out Megan’s other health + wellness tips and advice, HERE.

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Megan_Weidner[PRC Health Contributor]Megan Weidner is the Health + Wellness contributor for The Phoenix Rising Collective; she is a fitness coach and environmentalist in the Akron/Canton, Ohio area. She manages a global sustainability and corporate responsibility program for a large multinational company; her areas include environmental compliance, social equity, community engagement and health and wellness. Megan is also devoted to Rock. It. Fitness., her fitness and natural skincare business. She is committed to making the world a better, more environmentally friendly and healthier place through motivation and education. She is certified through AFAA and Tabata Bootcamp.  She has a B.S. in Soil, Environmental, and Atmospheric Science (University of Missouri), a Graduate Certificate in Environmental Management and Policy (University of Denver) and an M.P.A (University of Missouri).  She lives in Green, Ohio with her husband and three kids.


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The Take 3 Method: Eating the Right Amount of Good Food at the Right Time

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I like fitness, but I also like to eat.  I would assume the latter part of that sentence is true for most people. I mean, seriously, food is good and we need it to survive. That is why I am not a big fan of diets. Instead, I believe in eating the right amount of good food at the right time.

As part of my Tabata Bootcamp program, I talk to my clients about nutrition.  Nutrition is an extremely important part of your life and fitness program.  Bad nutrition can completely sabotage a great workout.

Every time you sit down to eat ask yourself three simple questions:

  1. Am I hungry?
  2. Is it a good choice?
  3. How much do I need?

 

Many times we eat out of boredom: While we’re sitting at the computer, watching a movie, or reading a book. Or we eat because it is convenient: At a party, “food day” at work, or meals sent over by relatives. Before you eat, ask yourself if you are really hungry. If your answer is “no”, stop there! Also, try drinking a glass of water then waiting. Our stomach sends the same signal to our brains for thirst as it does for hunger. You may think you are hungry and really you may just be thirsty.

If you truly are ready for a meal or a snack, the next question should be, “is it a good choice?”.  Yes, you may be hungry, but a Snickers bar from the vending machine is not a good choice. Instead, pack carrot sticks, cucumber slices, almonds, low-fat cheese, pistachios, or fruit.  If you are at dinner, go for the whole grains and lean meat such as fish or baked chicken instead of fried foods or red meat.

PhotoGrid_1428275789533-1The last important question is about portion. I grew up in an Italian family where you were expected to eat the full portion and usually a second helping as well.  However, despite your family’s expectations or what society tells us, we do not need to finish everything on our plates.  In fact, most restaurants give us way TOO MUCH food!  Eat slow and drink lots of water.  When you are full…stop! If you are at a restaurant, immediately ask for a to-go box and box up half of your meal before you even take a bite. This will remove the temptation to eat it all. This last question is also important if you allow yourself to have dessert: Take a few bites, but you do not need to eat the whole piece (or whole bag of cookies)!

Food Journaling:

I also recommend finding an accountability partner.  Together keep a food journal. Write down everything you eat during the day and then at the end of the week share you journal with your partner.  If you know someone is checking your progress, you are less likely to eat the bacon cheeseburger and fries.

There are great apps available as well to help you track your food intake, such as MyFitnessPal.

Fitness and nutrition go hand in hand. If you are committed to living a healthy lifestyle, don’t forget the importance of healthy food choices.  Step away from the diet and choose to use the Take Three Method.

In health, fitness, and love!

Megan

 

Want more details on The Take Three Method? Well, take a look at the Tabata Bootcamp Nutrition Guide.  For additional fitness coaching, contact Megan here.

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About the Contributing Writer:

Megan_Weidner[PRC Health Contributor]Megan Weidner is the Health + Wellness contributor for The Phoenix Rising Collective; she is a fitness coach and environmentalist in the Akron/Canton, Ohio area. She manages a global sustainability and corporate responsibility program for a large multinational company; her areas include environmental compliance, social equity, community engagement and health and wellness. Megan is also devoted to Rock. It. Fitness., her fitness and natural skincare business. She is committed to making the world a better, more environmentally friendly and healthier place through motivation and education. She is certified through AFAA and Tabata Bootcamp.  She has a B.S. in Soil, Environmental, and Atmospheric Science (University of Missouri), a Graduate Certificate in Environmental Management and Policy (University of Denver) and an M.P.A (University of Missouri).  She lives in Green, Ohio with her husband and three kids.