The Phoenix Rising Collective

Inspiring Women to be Self-Love in Action


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

Getty Images | JGI/Jamie Grill

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

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

1. Take a deep breath.

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

2. Give yourself time.

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

3. Eat something good for you.

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

4. Keep noise to a minimum.

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

5. Stretch/Exercise & Shower Meditation.

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

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

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

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

 


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

Join the Collective on Facebook and Instagram.


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

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

Loving myself first means living a values-based life. When my Dad, Vietnam veteran and hardworking Appalachian man, was first diagnosed with lung cancer I had just started my PhD program in clinical psychology. I had also just lost my Godmother (my Dad’s sister) to lung cancer. I’ve been working toward the goal of becoming a clinical child psychologist since I have been 13 years old. I have had to overcome my fair share of adversity: a late-diagnosed hearing disability, growing up in Appalachia, and being a first-generation college student. This translates into me being a hard-working poor test taker with a purpose to help others from underserved communities.

As I traversed the world of grad school my Dad fought for his life. He was cancer free when I matched for internship 13 hours away from my family. It was the final step before earning my doctorate. Unfortunately, his remission was short-lived. I completed my internship clinical work, working with the population I believe I have been called to work with – providing evidence-based trauma treatments to children and adolescents. As my internship was winding down, I needed to decide where to go for postdoc (the next step needed to get licensed and to solidify my research career). I was at a fork. Do I continue to weave myself tightly within the field of childhood trauma? Or do I move as close to home as possible to be near my family? It is with courage that I chose my family – landing in the stars with my post doctoral career. I value my career, and I value my family and friends just a bit more. Clinical work is emotionally and spiritually draining, but the reward reaped when I am able to help a child, eases the toll to my well-being.

Sadly, my Dad passed away just weeks after moving home. Knowing that I needed these two years to breathe and rest my tired heart, I happily engage my research postdoc. This is why I cannot in good, self-loving conscience be a full-time clinician. Instead, I choose to overcome the funding obstacles of research in a climate that is ever so hostile to science. I will do it with courage and a firm understanding that I am Appalachian, and no one can quiet my voice.

Michelle dancing with her dad at her wedding

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

Self-care is a series of evolving lessons:

On nutrition: About 8 years ago I stopped eating fast food. I drink almost no soda and try to eat small portion sizes. About 3 years ago, I stopped eating all meats except fish. In the past six months, I started to eat minimal dairy and bread and mostly stick with vegetables, fruits, nuts, and beans.

On exercise: In grad school I started running – an identity I have never really embraced despite completing two half-marathons and several 5Ks and 10Ks. More recently, I have been practicing yoga three to four days a week.

On balance: I try to minimize how much work I am doing at home. I do not check my work e-mail on the weekends. When I am eating dinner, I do not have my cellphone out. I go see my Mom every Sunday when I’m in town. I spend time with friends at least weekly and have coffee in bed with my husband and our two cats on weekends.

On adventure: I travel to see friends, family, and for conferences. When I travel I like to get off the beaten path, go hiking, and learn about the local culture. I also craft, plan and throw elaborately themed parties.

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

Most days I suffer from imposter syndrome. There’s been a challenge at every step of the way in my career path. First I had to catch up with my peers in elementary school to get out of the “slow learners” track and into college prep. Then I had to figure out what being Appalachian and first generation in college meant for me. I then had to score well on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and have enough research experience to demonstrate my commitment to scholarly activity for my PhD program. There’s always been a “next up.” I’ve encountered plenty of people – mentors, elders, peers – who have led me to question myself, my worth and ability. Thankfully, for every one of those folks, I’ve had two others to remind me that I am enough and can do anything I put my mind to.

I want to make the world a better place. It’s always been about “How can I help?” How can I transform the lives of underserved youth by planting seeds of courage, compassion, and inner strength? I am my strongest when I am helping others. It is what drives me to keep going. So, when my Dad was dying, and I spent all those years away from home doing the “next step” I realized that I had neglected my value for spending time with and helping family and friends.

The obstacle of believing that I am enough and can fulfill my life’s purpose without choosing just that over other values has been like taming a wild bear, except I’m the bear and the trainer at the same time.

What have you learned from self-love?

I am learning to have courage. I haven’t always been able to help others; sometimes my path seems like I’ve all but given up on doing that. And while my inner strength does not always shine, I know that I can take breaks to let my mind, body, and spirit heal. Most importantly, my light glows even when it’s an ember.

Michelle shares why she chose the photos in her self-love story:

Father/Daughter Dance – My Dad and I dancing to I Loved Her First. I believe he loved me enough to wait until I was home before passing away so that we could all be together.

My Life Partner – This guy and I are on this journey together. We’ll dance, walk, skip, crawl, and even carry each other on our path.

PhD Graduation Cap – Robert Frost has been narrating my life. I tend to take the road less traveled when I come to a fork. And, oh, has it made all the difference! I still got to where I was going, and I’ll get to where I am meant to be.

Vinyasart – I chose this because it captures my creative outlet – exercise and mindfulness – which all nourish my soul.

 

Inspired by Michelle’s courageously honest and heartfelt story? Share your thoughts in the comments. We’d love to hear from you.


Love Yourself First! Friday shares the unique stories of diverse women to inspire and empower others to also fiercely demonstrate self-love in action.  The questions are meant to shed light on various ways our featured Phoenixes are making self-care and intentional living a priority.

Do you want to share your self-love story? Send an email HERE.  Just put “My LYFF Story” in the subject line of your email, and you’ll be contacted by the Phoenix Team with details on how to participate. Be sure to read some of our other inspiring stories.

Join the Collective on Facebook and Instagram


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

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

It was difficult for me to really love myself. I tried convincing myself that I did, but inside I always felt very insecure and not always comfortable in my skin. Now that I love everything about me, I never want to lose that feeling. I tell myself something I love about me at least once a day. Every day is not perfect. I still have rough days, but knowing what it’s like to truly love myself (imperfections and all) is a spiritual and healing experience.

I make an effort to connect with others, because in the past I struggled to do it. I missed out on many experiences because I was uncertain about myself, and as a result, I lived mostly inside my head. People thought I was mean or stand-offish but in reality I was uncomfortable with ME. Loving myself first means that I take care of my mind, my body, my soul, my heart, and my family and friends. I want to radiate positivity everywhere I go so that if there is anyone out there feeling the way I once did, she/he can find hope and inspiration in my story and in our interaction.

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

I changed many of my negative habits. I make it a priority to remain active weekly – working out frequently and using FitBit to track my steps because it keeps me motivated (I love work-week challenges with my coworkers).  I’ve cut out a lot of foods that weighed me down internally (fried foods, bread and dairy), and I replaced them with healthier alternatives (baked foods, non-processed foods, coconut milk).

I love to read books of all genres to keep my mind fresh and alert. Lastly, but most importantly, I talk to God through prayer and daily affirmations.

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

I used to be overweight and suffered some complications with my health. Becoming healthier has truly transformed me. I feel good inside and out, and I think healthy eating and activeness have contributed. I am more open to people and have been able to build stronger relationships.

What have you learned from self-love?

Self-love has to be defined by the individual and takes on many different forms.  You can show yourself love in your daily actions and interactions with others. For example, I know if I stop practicing my healthy habits I may need to re-evaluate self-love; there may be something deeper going on with me, because being healthy is how I show myself love.

I’ve learned that it is difficult to build relationships with others when there is no self-love.  I want to make sure I am always loving me so that I can fully love others.

I have also learned that people really love me! When I struggled with self-love, I felt that others did not truly love me. I mean, why would they if I could not love myself?  What I have come to find is that (1) people really do want to get to know me, and (2) I do have something to offer the world. I have been able to experience things I NEVER would have experienced, and I finally feel like I am living life. It feels good.

 

Inspired by Yewande’s self-love story? Share in the comments. We want to hear from you.


Love Yourself First! Friday share the unique stories of diverse women to inspire and empower others to also fiercely demonstrate self-love in action.  The questions are meant to shed light on various ways our featured Phoenixes are making self-care and intentional living a priority.

Do you want to share your self-love story? Send an email HERE.  Just put “My LYFF Story” in the subject line of your email, and you’ll be contacted by the Phoenix Team with details on how to participate. Be sure to read some of our other inspiring stories.

Join the Collective on Facebook and Instagram.


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How To Give Yourself a Mid-Year Health Check

MidYear Health Check[The Phoenix Rising Collective]

As mid-year rolls around there are more than likely a number of thoughts racing through your mind.

How much money have I saved so far?

Should I finally join that gym?

Where is this relationship going?

Maybe I should apply for that management position?

Self-inquiry is the key to self-mastery so you’re right on track with your questions and thoughts. However, now is the time to go even deeper with your self check-ins. To ensure that your life is going in a steadily positive direction you need to also put some laser focus on your overall health.

Don’t worry, performing a mid-year health check is free and painless.

Evaluating the state of your health should fall into three categories:

  • Physical
  • Mental
  • Spiritual

Focusing on all three allows you to look at your life holistically. True self-care is about seeing yourself as a whole being, not just certain areas of your life.

Ask and answer these series of questions to gain a snapshot of your health this summer. A solid rule of thumb is to record your answers on pen and paper or audio. That way you can go back and reference your answers at the end of the year to do another self check-in and compare notes on your progress.

Physically

What are my energy levels when I first wake up, mid-day, and at night?

If you are waking up feeling fatigued then you could be struggling with an adrenal imbalance. Or if you are sleepy around mid-day or early evening then that could be the effect of sugar crashes. Keep a food and energy journal to track patterns.

Am I eating consciously?

Think about your sugar intake, daily water consumption, and daily servings of fruits and vegetables. Make a commitment to be conscious about what you are putting in your body.

Am I taking supplements daily?

Supplements provide the nutrients that our bodies need that we don’t get from our meals.

Am I performing breast checks after my cycle ends?

Our breasts are more prone to reveal any abnormalities or lumps right after menstruation.

Am I exercising regularly?

Monitor how you feel after physical activity. Consider your recovery time and how your muscles feel after every workout.

Mentally

Am I suffering from mood swings?

If you are unsure, survey your child(ren), partner, and colleagues.

Am I pursuing expressive outlets for work-life balance?

Do you love cooking, photography, poetry, blogging or singing? Whatever delights your mind and spirit indulge in it often and with wild abandon.

Am I creating and maintaining healthy rituals?

You deserve to spoil yourself and to do it regularly. The possibilities for self-care in this area are endless. Everything from journaling, to massages, to solo date-nights, to splurging on a latte every Saturday morning, can be on-going rituals worth maintaining.

Am I saying NO more, so I can say YES more?

The powerhouse that is Shonda Rhimes literally wrote the book on this very same idea (see Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person). The No’s are just as powerful as the Yeses that you give out to yourself, loved ones, and outside commitments.

Spiritually

Am I practicing gratitude daily?

Studies show that doing so can increase your happiness, inner peace, and productivity.

Am I practicing mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a simple art. Consistently step outside yourself and view your behavior and thoughts. Are you always coming from a place of love? Posing this question daily will drastically increase your self-awareness and improve the energy that you give to the world.

Am I practicing forgiveness?

This is a practice that can lead to profound spiritual and emotional breakthroughs. Forgive yourself for your own shortcomings and forgive others who have disappointed you. Letting go of the pain that you have experienced through forgiveness opens up a pathway for receiving unconditional love from yourself and the environment around you.

 

These three core areas are the foundation for a systematic health check that honors your entire essence. Give it a shot this summer and watch your self-care go in new and healthy directions.


About the Contributor

CJChildressCoachCJ Childress is a nutrition, wellness, and health focused freelance writer. She is particularly interested in the intersection of organic nutrition, mental health, and holistic living, and how they can all work in concert to live a beautiful and balanced life. You can find her on Instagram. Check out CJ’s other Health + Wellness posts HERE.


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Worst Love Yourself First! Friday Ever – A Reflection

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

This week’s Phoenix is Tracey:

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Tracey, LYFF Feature

As I pondered my self-love routine, so I could write something enlightening about my journey of self-discovery and how it’s manifested in productive, healthy routines that nurture me, I had a disturbing revelation: I have nothing to contribute here. I don’t do self-love. I don’t meditate. My prayer life is spotty. I eat crap. I don’t write regularly. I don’t get lost in books. I rarely exercise. I don’t get my hair and nails done. I’ve had like three massages in my life, and I judge myself harshly.

I racked my brain; I really did.  As I read others’ entries about difficult but beautiful journeys to self-love, I thought, I know…I’ll spin it. I will take some moment of joy in my life and spin it into my self-love story. I can do that. I’ll sit down and ala “And to Think that I Saw It on Mulberry Street” I’ll exaggerate a story so fantastic that I will seem like the most self-aware, evolved, self-loving human on earth. I will spin a tale of complete, balanced self-love, and if I was really careful, I might even believe my tale enough not to feel so harried and distracted and self-negligent.

And then, I realized, that if I say, there are things that I need to do in the name of self-love, but I don’t do them in the name of “getting things done” that I may turn a corner. If I stop pretending to be content and start seeking peace, and if I decide that today, not tomorrow, I will ignore the messy bathroom and write down what I need to do to nurture myself, I may just get there.

This is my hurdle. I don’t do self-love. I do self-judgment.  I haven’t come to grips with the fact that what I “should” do and what I need to do and what I want to do are, on occasion, the same thing. That to sit with a cup of tea for 30 minutes everyday and read something that I enjoy, not because it’s about parenting or losing weight or some non-profit, but because I love to read and reading feeds my soul is something I should and need and want to do. That to quietly meditate for 10 minutes everyday just to be quiet and listen to God, is revolutionary in my life.

After all this consideration, I discovered something important. If I spent time loving myself dearly, I would not be able to judge myself harshly. So, I will love myself dearly, fully, happily. And one year from now, I will revisit my self-love journey and I’ll actually have something to contribute.

 

Thank you, Tracey, for your honesty; it is most definitely a powerful contribution. We look forward to one year from now. You are a brave Phoenix rising.

How  many of you can relate to Tracey’s story? What commitment will you make (even a small act) to be self-love in action? Share in the comments.


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

Love Yourself First! Friday is a 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 features.

Join the Collective on Facebook and Instagram.

 


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5 Easy Ways To Love Your Body More in 2016

Body Acceptance [The Phoenix Rising Collective]

 

I don’t know about you, ladies, but I am so thrilled that the New Year is here. Right now is the time that our dreams feel fresh. There’s magic flowing from our pens to our journals. We get our vision board party on, and we make promises to ourselves to start manifesting every day miracles.

Many of us use the beginning of the year to put a tremendous focus on our careers, love life, or other major projects but all too often there is one area of our essence that we neglect.

It’s our bodies.

We make plans to lose weight or go vegan but our actions don’t mount up as the year begins to unfold. Doing so starts to feel too overwhelming all too quickly and before we know it, we are putting our bodies on the back burner.

Excuses pop up. Pain from our past shows up, and guilt about other commitments spring up.

This happens to many of us year after year after year.

Fortunately, we are still very early into 2016 and you can definitely start some new self-love practices right now where your body takes top priority.

These five ideas are easy and not intimidating. Taking care of your body should never be too taxing of an effort when seeking long-term change.

Remember to keep things manageable and uplifting.

1. Hold onto that one healthy habit you already have no matter what.

What do you do now that makes your body feel very loved?

For me it’s cooking healthy meals most days of the week.

Yes, I am going to go ahead and say it: “We are what we eat.”

I want my body to be full of gorgeous foods and nutrients that continuously restore my health.

I put this into practice by cooking my own meals despite the fact that I currently live with my dad who is anti green juice and organic anything and everything. My dad is an award-winning grill master who cooks often, but I stay true to the promise I’ve made to my body and always pass on his offer of pork ribs for dinner.

For you, it may be that you’ve been going to a yoga class once a month, so in 2016 why not go once a week. Even if money is an issue (because honestly, yoga can be quite expensive) find a free class in your city. Meetup.com and yelp.com are excellent resources for finding free classes in most major cities.

Or maybe you desire to try Meatless Mondays and have done it a few times in the past. This year, right now, next Monday is the perfect time to start your Meatless Monday adventure and stick to it.

Zone in on your favorite body-loving practice and remain faithful to it this year.

2. Let go of the negative self-talk about your body

As a health coach, almost without fail, when I work with women, their issue is not being able to control their cravings just for the sake of it. It’s often something deeper that’s holding them back.

In most cases, negative self-talk is at the center of their struggle with self-love and self-acceptance. Granted, speaking so negatively to yourself about your body is still not the root of the issue, it’s just the by-product of pain you may have experienced in your life.

In 2016, let that soul damaging practice go. Take your thoughts to a rewarding place. Reflect on how badass you are at running, teaching, singing, cooking, making love, being a girlboss. If it makes your self-love meter rise, channel that every time nasty self-talk wants to take over your thoughts.

3. Join a spirited and fun health & wellness group online

Community is everything. It reminds you that you are not alone in your daily challenges with loving your body unconditionally. Facebook is probably your best bet for finding a rockin’ group of soul sisters that want to get fit, happy, and more gorgeous, just like you.

When you do find a group, dive in. Don’t be shy. Share your journey. Ask for feedback and suggestions on making healthy body loving changes.

It will feed your body and soul well this year.

4. Always ask “Does my body need this?” when making daily food choices

Mindfulness can be your most reliable game changer when you desire to love your body more. Food that does your body no good will always be there to tempt you. However, you don’t have to let dining anxiety take over.

Quickly ask yourself if what’s in front of you is something your body needs in order to feel more gorgeous. If leftover birthday cake is in the fridge, but an apple and almond butter are also in the fridge, choose the latter. Ask and answer out loud, too. Hearing yourself speak about your options will deepen your mindfulness. Over time, you won’t have the need to ask as often.

5. Re-shape your vocabulary about your body

Banish the word diet and replace it with healthy.

Nix overweight or skinny and say natural beauty.

Forget about ugly and loser and think, authentic.

This little practice alone can probably make the biggest impact on your body love battle in 2016. It’s simple and actionable.

Don’t give power to the words that harm how you love and feel about your body. Positive words are empowering. They will propel you in the right direction. Negative words lead to stagnation and self-sabotage that rob you of beautiful and healthy body-loving journeys.

Use this year to change up your body love story. You only have one so you might as well love it unconditionally with balanced nutrition, healthy thoughts, and motivating self-care practices.

2016 is your year to get more gorgeous and love your body from the inside out.


About the Contributing Writer:

CJChildressCoachCJ Childress is a holistic health coach, indie author and owner of a healthy meal delivery service in Houston, Texas. She began her journey with healthy living as a child by drinking green smoothies and eating organic peanut butter. But after watching her young mother die in 2012 from a rare autoimmune disease she became more convinced than ever that food really is medicine. She works with women to break their addiction to dangerous foods and heal their relationship with their bodies through a fun and focused 60-day transformational program. You can discover more and get your FREE 30-day meal plan by visiting her website HERE.  Connect with CJ on Instagram, too.

 

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

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This is the first self-love story of 2016, and it’s exciting to bring it your way.

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

This week’s brave Phoenix to kick off the new year is Candi:

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

Loving myself means giving myself exactly what I need. I do this by acknowledging how I feel in every moment and staying conscious of my inner dialogue. I pamper myself and also take myself out on self-love dates.

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

I practice a vegan diet, exercise, meditate, journal, spend time in nature and create art.

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

The most recent obstacle I’ve faced was starting my business; I had no idea how to, and I have little to no support. But my persistence and authenticity kept me going, so along the way I’ve been adopted by many soul sisters. Overcoming this fear made me appreciate my creativity, and I proved to myself that I can be in business and be myself: kind. It made me trust myself more and my intuition.

What have you learned from self-love?

That it’s not how others treat me that matters; it’s how I treat myself that counts.

 

Candi is Founder/Creator of Lioness Healing Arts. Be sure to check her out and also follow her inspiration and newest jewelry creations on Instagram.

 


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

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

 


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

Ashley_LYFF[collage2]

Love Yourself First! Friday is an interview series featuring phenomenal and resilient women who share their self-love stories – vulnerable, honest and heartfelt stories, shedding light on how life’s challenges bring a new level of self-acceptance and how making daily practical self-care practices a priority deepens self-love. You’ll find comfort in knowing you’re not alone when it comes to figuring out how to love yourself.

Here’s our featured Phoenix’s self-love story:

Ashley loves herself first by never giving up on her personal growth and dreams. “My motto is Get better every day. I am open-minded, and I love new experiences because I learn so much about myself and what I didn’t know I was capable of.”

When it comes to a personal routine, Ashley makes sure to incorporate some form of spiritual practice, so she prays every day because it’s very important to her. In addition to strengthening her faith through prayer, Ashley discovered yoga a few months ago and thought, “Where have you been all my life?!” She feels it could have saved her a lot of stress if she’d started sooner. “I am so happy to go to class once (and sometimes twice) a week.”

Ashley’s openness to life has also changed her definition of beauty; she returned to natural hair and loves taking care of it, as well as trying new styles. “It’s such a beautiful journey that has changed the way I define beauty for myself and others. I’ve inspired many of my friends to embrace their natural beauty as well.”

Her quest to get better every day doesn’t stop there. She is also a pescatarian. After getting sick with an unknown gastrointestinal disease, Ashley stopped eating red meat in college. She stopped eating all other meats almost four years ago, and the process has completely changed the way she feels. “I’ve not been sick with GI diseases since making those changes. I pay a lot of attention to what I eat and do because it has a direct correlation to how I feel; so simple, yet so true.”

A common theme in Ashley’s self-love journey is positive change, and she’s also learned it through the power of letting go. About a year and a half ago, she went through a rough breakup with her child’s father. The situation deeply hurt and emotionally scarred her, and it took a long time to understand how she was supposed to move on with her life. Fortunately, with help from wise, loving people, she eventually learned a lesson from the experience; she forgave herself and him. “I must admit that I am a better person because of it. I have redefined what it means to be a single mother. I am just so empowered by the fact that, no, I didn’t plan to raise my daughter as a single mother, but yes, I am going to make the best life for us.”

Ashley chose three photos that demonstrate self-love in action, and in one of them she’s standing outside the apartment she rented right after the breakup with her child’s father: “To me it means so much. I overcame. I could do it alone even though I didn’t think I could, especially with the help of God.”

 

Join the LYFF community! Over 50 women have shared their self-love stories; be the next one. Send an email.  Just put “My LYFF Story” in the subject line, and you’ll be contacted by the Phoenix Team with details on how to participate.

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Ayanna Jordan is founder of The Phoenix Rising Collective. She is a personal development coach creating and facilitating dynamic women-centered, self-care workshops with a focus on how putting self-love into action can transform your life. She also creates training programs and group coaching that empowers women’s professional growth in authentic leadership, entrepreneurship, and passion-filled work. Her interactive, holistic approach inspires action and creates a non-judgmental, safe and supportive space for women to truly explore and affirm who they are, what they want and how they want to do it.