Love Yourself Some You

loving-yourself-revolutionMy inside-and-out beautiful friends at Kaia Fit asked me to guest blog for Valentine’s Day and I jumped up and down and said, “Yes, pick me!” It felt fitting as LORE turns two today! I’ve reposted my article for them below and I am so excited to spend a week with them in Belize in March to dig into the love letters process. Well, in between all the diving, hiking, yoga and such, I need a vacation.

Happy Valentine’s Day, lovers!

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, love is on the mind. I’d like to use this occasion to remind you of the most important love affair of all and that is the one with yourself.

I first began collecting and publishing love letters from women to their younger selves over a year ago. Successful women took off their shine to virally mentor those women who are still in the struggle. What I didn’t expect (nor did they) was the deep, cathartic work the writers would undertake. As I began to interview them about the process, it became clear I was on to something pretty amazing. Since that time I’ve been gifted stunning letters by incredible women. Donna Brazile, the former Chair of the Democratic National Committee, shared that she felt it was important to reflect, pause, and give yourself credit for what you’ve accomplished. Emily Nolan, a plus-sized model and author, expressed the deep love she found for herself after years of severe body dysmorphia. Many themes bubbled up around forgiveness, boundaries within relationships and learning to ask for what you want in your life. Every woman shared how important the work had been, but one message stood out among the rest and on the heels of Valentine’s Day, consider it our gift:

You have to love yourself. First. Foremost. Always.

Easier to read than practice, granted. I’m not talking self care. Self care is now almost medically approved. Many studies have been done to show the direct correlation between self care in all its iterations and life happiness, longevity and the avoidance of disease. I argue that one of the most loving things you can do for yourself is to dig in, do the work, learn who you are under all the layers you’ve put on and start to love yourself some you. Release all the stories you’ve been told and in that blissful, painful work you will begin to see the you your children and lover see. I’m here to get you started.

The instructions are easy. Imagine a younger version of yourself. Is she 5? Is she 8? Is she a teenager? When you see her, really see her, trust your gut. What do you want her to know? When I began this exercise I was completely blown away by my first sentence. I had an overwhelming desire to tell this dejected little girl I imagined that she was so loved, so worthy. The first sentence hit me like a ton of bricks,

“You will spend most of your life believing you are unlovable.”

I had to take a deep breath and sit back for a moment, shocked at how true that sentence was and how it had colored so much of my life and relationships. It is ok to take a moment as you write. Just don’t leave it because the feelings are too heavy. There is no growth without pain, my love. If you have to wait until the kids are in bed and you have your glass of wine and a box of Kleenex you do it. Give yourself the gift of time to feel your feelings. If that means you write one sentence and have to process it for several days before you get back to it, you are still on the path. I have found most women need time, because the unlocking of these truths have a bit of a whiplash effect. They bring up memories and misgivings that no child should believe about themselves. With all that said, if you begin unlocking repressed memories or find yourself reeling or having dark thoughts from what you begin to feel, please seek the counsel of a professional therapist.

As women have complete these exercises I have found that the ages they choose are typically aligned with the moment right before or during a tragic or painful event or memory. One writer, Chelli Wolford, a survivor of sexual violence, wrote to the four year old that was being molested by her uncle, “It’s not your fault.” It took her until she was forty to realize she’d carried so much of the responsibility for the behaviors of others on her shoulders and what a relief to finally put them down.

You will also notice that your tone changes. The harshness which you likely view yourself today, get it together, sister, falls away and is replaced with, it’s not your fault or you are perfect the way you are, love. You will find that you begin to guide your younger self with the tone of an older sister. One writer suggested that if we could be as gentle with ourselves today how much healthier we would be.

Once you imagine that younger version of yourself and start with your first sentence of the letter, begin to scan over the distance between that version of yourself and who you are today. How did that first message you’d share with your younger self play out over the course of your life and do you want to carry it with you?

Some questions to ask yourself:

What is one thing I’ve always known about myself? My greatest strength?

What is one thing I’ve always known about myself that was negative? How was it originally triggered? Was it reinforced by my family? Is it true?

What is the best thing that has ever happened to me?

What was your most humbling experience and what was the lesson?

What was I missing as a child?

Who or what do I need to forgive? Is that person me?

The act of writing the letter and referring back to it helps excavate old programming, memories and feelings that you’d like to release and offers you a chance to start fresh at a new point in your growth.

If, after you’ve written your letter, you realize you have something you’d like to share with other women or girls to further help our gender, I have the platform to do that and would love to publish your letters for others to read. If you would like to keep it personal, then thank you for having faith and trust in yourself to do the work and I hope you will share your experience with me.

I will be teaching a workshop at the Kaia Retreat in Belize in March and so look forward to meeting you lovely Kaia women in person!

Happy writing!

Love,

Me

An accomplished author and public speaker, Jeanette founded LORE Advocacy, a network of professional women who aspire to change the world through a gender lens. Jeanette also founded “LORE and Little Things” in 2015. It is a platform for women to discuss issues relevant to professional women and mothers. Her articles and “Love Letters to Myself,” a viral mentorship program, have been seen on Huffington Post.

During the day Jeanette is a Senior Vice President and Institutional Client Advisor within the financial services industry. She serves on the boards of Spread the Word Nevada, the President’s Advisory Council for The Smith Center for the Performing Arts and a large charitable foundation. She is a member of the Hall of Fame of the Women’s Chamber of Commerce of Nevada and a 2016 Vegas, Inc. Woman to Watch.

Connect with Jeanette at www.loreandlittlethings.com, on Twitter @msjwrites or Instagram @msjwrites and @loreandlittle. Letters can be sent to jeanetteschneider@gmail.com.

Be My Valentine: LORE Turns 1

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LORE was launched Valentine’s Day 2015, and I am astounded at how far we’ve come in one short year. Just like my own daughter, who changes every few months, LORE has grown into something I couldn’t imagine when I was scribbling down blog ideas. I realized this has become more than what I’d originally intended when I was recently introduced to another woman. Our mutual friend suddenly looked confused as if she was searching the air for something she couldn’t find, “She has a blog.. It’s not a blog. No, what is it… It feels like more than a blog. It’s a something…”

I smiled from the inside out, It’s definitely a something.

We have become less blog and more a platform for women. I definitely don’t feel like a blogger. I sat back the other day and realized I’ve become a curator. I’m curating pure, unashamed, unfiltered beauty. I am so humbled and grateful that women entrust me with their words and their Love Letters and articles pop into my inbox as I reach out for content. Women tell me they look forward to our weekly offering of raw, unfiltered, woman to woman love.

I haven’t met a mean girl yet.

So, in the vein of Valentine’s Day, and a nod to our signature feature, LOVE LETTERS, I thought I’d write a love letter to those of you who have built LORE.

Dear readers, thank you for your continued emojis, exclamation marks, likes and comments. Your responses and support help me build out content that is meaningful and that I know will resonate each week. Please continue to like us, Tweet us, double tap us on Instagram and share our articles so that we can understand what it is you like to read and how best to keep you engaged. Tell us, too, if you have ideas or suggestions. Without you there is no LORE and I appreciate you from the bottom of my very humbled heart.

Thank you.

Dear contributors, thank you for trusting me with your words. Thank you for opening up, letting people in and sharing the unexpected journey you experience when you have to do a little soul searching, and only because you want your letters to be meaningful. You do the work to keep others from having to, and that in and of itself, is genuine and brilliant. It is such a treat to hear back from you as you receive personal messages from readers who have been touched by your vulnerability. I love your shocked faces, surprised emails and texts. You changed someone’s day. It feels good, doesn’t it?

There is always room for you here.

Because of the collective YOU we will be bringing on more contributing writers, more content, more letters and you will see the look of LORE change to become more easily accessible and with curated content. I’m also toying with the idea of sending out a weekly Love Note in which you will find a link to the article for the week as well as a word or phrase of intent to start your Monday in a lovely frame of mind. Give me your feedback. What would you want to see in a Love Note?

To be honest, I wanted to go fetal when I had to learn basic HTML code to build this thing over a year ago, and yet here I am having meetings with web developers and figuring out 7000 efficiency apps. I’m all in, but I am learning things that are stretching my brain, so you will see small fits and starts as LORE becomes a toddler. At this very moment I’m sitting in a ski lodge with my laptop and what should equate to TECH FOR DUMMIES while my kiddo attends ski school.

Side note: She hates it, so she can’t see me on the mountain or there would be much crying and an avalanche. So, I just link profiles, figure things out, cry a little on the inside and then sneak glimpses of her out the window. Her body language says temper tantrum later.

Pray for me.

As for you?

Big, mushy, loud and glittery thank you. May your Valentine’s Day be filled with love and if you don’t have someone to smooch, please consider me your honorary Valentine.

You ladies are definitely mine.

Xo,

Jeanette