Day 1 Teaser!

Several people have asked about the online workshop, 28 Days of Creative Self-Love. Some have worried that it'll be overwhelming, while others have just been plain ol' curious. No need for concern on the overwhelming part! The workshop is self-paced, and the daily entries are easygoing, with simple exercises and reflections. The topic of self-love is going to be broken down into smaller bites, starting with an overview of Self-Love, then moving into a look at four distinct areas.

First, there's the emotional side of self-love. Then, there's the mind--monkey mind, ego, and subconscious all play a role in self-love. Third is a challenge for the vast majority of people, and that's the body. Warts and all. Lastly, and perhaps more surreptitious, is spirit--the religious and spiritual aspects of self-love.

For the curious folk out there, I'm posting Day 1 below. This will give you a good idea of how it flows and a terrific glimpse at what you'll be missing the rest of the 27 Days. So, enjoy! And if you want to see the remainder of the month's posts, just click on the "Upcoming Workshops" tab on my website to register. I'll leave a light on for you!

Day 1

Well, hello, beautiful!

Notice how you feel when you read that. Did you bristle? Was there part of you that wanted to say, “Ya talkin’ to me?” or reject that it might even be directed right at you? And, it was! What if you could absorb the very idea that you are indeed beautiful? Like Aibileen Clark told her little charges in The Help, “You is smart. You is kind. You is important.” And, of course, I have to add, “You is loved.”

Would you believe even those simple words intended for little children? Probably not. But that’s why we’re all here at this place and at this time: to learn how to be open to the possibility of loving ourselves. We aren’t gonna shoot for totally unconditional self-love and 100% self-acceptance. No need to tear out the thread of hope we’re dangling by! We’re just going to consider it’s possible to add a teaspoon of self-love to our hearts every day. By the time we’ve added 28 teaspoons to our teacup of love, we’ll have cups that are already overflowing. Just imagine! And, if you think you’re the only one struggling with self-love, think again. It’s such a universal concern that there’s even been a #1 Billboard hit about this exact topic. Listen as Whitney Houston sings, “The Greatest Love of All” from 1985 and let the children’s laughter remind you of how you used to be:

Our first look at self-love is what we mean by self-love. Hopefully, you’ve read my blog entry that gives you a bit of insight about self-love. It’s not about being self-centered or self-consumed. Self-love is about making room for the possibility that you’re part of the equation called life. How many times have you caught a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and felt utter disgust? Or do you just avoid looking in a mirror at all? Think back on the times you’ve left a conversation or a group of people and beat yourself up for something you said or didn’t say. As Janice Campbell ( says, we judge so often judge ourselves with a belief that says, “I am not enough” or the opposite that says, “I’m too much!” Or, if you’re like me, both come out of my head at the same time. All that self-hatred, self-judgment, and self-rejection cover over the truth that we are exactly who we were intended to be. Of all the people in the universe—past, present, and future—there is no other who has experienced exactly what you have gone through. There is no one who has the skills, abilities, and gifts you started out with and collected along your life journey. No one else sees the world the way you see it. And, there is no one who has the passions and desires that lie within YOU.

Does your mouth turn downward when you’re relaxed or asleep? That’s the way our bodies echo our thoughts (aka, structure function), and the dominant thought behind a mouth turn downward is, “I expect to be disappointed.” So, most of us wake up in the morning with this attitude of self-loathing. We start out our day with the hidden message that the future will be as terrible as the past. It’s so well hidden that we don’t even recognize it as the way we’ve operated much of our lives. We put conditions on what we must do, how we must behave, etc., in order for us to feel good about ourselves. We expect that if we follow cultural, familial, or even personal demands for perfection, then and only then, will we be okay. We might even say to ourselves, “G-d will love me if I do this [or don’t do it].” Eventually, we unconsciously struggle so much to meet all the expectations of G-d, culture, family, self, and whomever/whatever else we give power over to, we become frozen in the face of what’s doable. Our deepest heart, our truest self get buried like a pirate’s treasure chest. We lose the map that shows us where to find it.

At least, until now. Today is your day to begin the exploration. Take one step onto the treasure map to your heart, even if you don’t know where the “X” that marks the spot is located. Allow yourself the room and grace to be okay with not knowing the answers. As Rabbi Hillel said around Year 8 CE, “If not you, then who? If not now, then when?” You may already know the answers to those questions. No one else is going to give you permission to be yourself. No one else is going to pave the path to your heart of hearts. And, no one else is going to “Stir up the gifts of G-d,” the treasures from creation that lie buried within you. You were given the gift of love, and that love is first intended for you! (2 Timothy 1:6-7).

A word about the creative exercises and journal prompts – The exercises and journal prompts we’ll be exploring in 28 Days of Creative Self-Love are likely to feel new at best and awkward at worst. Don’t judge yourself for being goofy or weird or any of the other limiting words you like to pin on yourself when you’re operating outside your very small comfort zone. The easiest way to give yourself full permission to participate in the exercises is to operate under the assumption that you’re crazy! Yep, you heard me. You are cray-cray! Gone and lost your freakin’ mind! The truth is that we all need to lose our minds in order to create a connection to our hearts that’s judgment-free or, at least, gives us a chance to show up as Who We Really Are. Just say to yourself, “I am crazy!” and follow the exercises and prompts fully. Lose your mind and lose your self-hate.

Reflection Exercise #1 – Jack Canfield of “Chicken Soup for the Soul” fame ( teaches an exercise called, “The Mirror Technique.” Self-love guru, Louise Hay (—a longtime influence on my life—offers a different version in her classic, life-saving book/workbook, “You Can Heal Your Life.” The Mirror Technique is something I encourage you to do at least once every day throughout this month of Creative Self-Love. Here’s the version Jack teaches as described by Mary Knebel, the Self-Help Goddess (

·       After you’ve brushed your teeth, washed your face, and put on your jammies, go find a mirror. It doesn’t matter if it’s the bathroom mirror, a vanity mirror, or the rearview mirror. The main stipulation is you be able to spend a few minutes in front of it alone, so that might make a difference in the one you choose. The dressing room mirror at the local department store might not be the best choice! Nor would I want you in your car while wearing your jammies, although I must admit, it has happened!

·       Stand/sit in front of the mirror and for a few seconds, just look at yourself. Look deeply into your own eyes. Look at yourself looking at yourself. It’s okay if you feel uncomfortable. How many times have you done this in your entire life?! As you look at yourself, take in the details. Notice everything you can see. While you’re looking, begin to send love to the self that you see in that mirror. Send as much love and acceptance you can muster for yourself. If you notice judgments surfacing, just gently tell them as you would a little child, “Not now.”

·       After you’ve taken yourself in, it’s time to talk to yourself. Uh-huh, we’re going there! Say out loud, “I love you,” and then say your full name. Again, you’ll probably notice some feelings of discomfort. That’s okay; they’re the reason we’re here in the first place. Just for good measure, say it again, “I love you” and don’t forget to say your name so it will really sink in. Then take a moment to drink in that love.

·       Continuing to look at yourself, take a minute to reflect on your day and what you were able to accomplish. Think of 5 to 10 things you feel proud that you did. Examples might be, “I’m proud I cleaned out the junk drawer.” “I’m proud I got to my appointment on time.” “I’m proud I walked around the block.” “I’m proud of the way I prepared for the big meeting this morning.” Say these out loud to the face looking back at you from the mirror. Keep going until you’ve said 5, and don’t be shy and stop there if you can keep going. If you have trouble thinking in totally positive light, it’s okay to say things like, “I’m proud of the way I didn’t hang up on my ex-lover.” “I’m proud that I didn’t run any red lights.” Also, don’t forget to say them with great love for yourself. Let your love flow outward with your words. Breathe deeply and receive that love, too.

·       Once that step is complete, return again to observing the details of yourself in the mirror. Now you get to name what you love about yourself in general. “I love my pretty smile.” “I love the work that my sturdy hands have accomplished.” “I love my kind and generous heart.” “I love how brave I am.” You can name physical attributes, personal traits, or anything else that comes to you. This is the time for you to acknowledge and appreciate the best of who you are, the parts that are truly loveable. No negative or “I love you, but…” (what I call “Yeah-but’s”) comments here. Aim for another 5 to 10 points before you end.

·       The end of the exercise returns you to gazing deeply into your own eyes. One last time, tell yourself, “I love you, [name].”  Let all those feelings that arise out of the exercise just be, once again. Send them love and compassion, regardless of the intentions behind them, like smallness or wrongness.

·       Now, you can tuck yourself in, surrounded and warmed by all the love and appreciation you sent yourself.

Since we have 28 days to do the Mirror Technique, here’s some alternate approaches to this exercise from the Prosperity Place website (yep, self-love is directly connected to our ability to receive wealth!) with my own notes in brackets:

Option #2 –Stand naked in front of a mirror. Look at your body and see how you feel about it. Do you like the way it looks or do you wish you looked differently than you do? Are you proud of your body or are you ashamed of it? Listen to your inner dialogue as you look at your body. Don’t try to change your thoughts, just listen.

Option #3 – Stroke your body (arms, legs, torso) and tell [your body] how much you love it. Apologize for feeding it junk food and for hurting it the way you have. Apologize for feeling ashamed of it. Tell your body you love it and that you are trying to accept it exactly the way it is. {From a positive perspective, include comments of appreciation for all the wonderful things your body has been able to accomplish. And, better than trying, just tell your body that you are learning to accept it exactly the way it is!

Option #4 – Anytime during the day that you think of it, say to yourself, “I unconditionally love and accept myself, just the way I am.” You may feel silly or uncomfortable when you first start doing these exercises {Of course, you do; but then again, you’re crazy, right?!}

Journal Exercise - Ahhh…the joy of having a non-judgmental, unconditionally present journal in which to share your deepest thoughts over the next 28 days. Rule #1 in all of journal writing is:  there are no rules, so don’t let your inner critic or inner 1st grade teacher stand over you with a ruler and the latest edition of Strunk’s and White’s “The Elements of Style,” pointing out all your grammatical mistakes and errors in judgment. Give them all the day off. Actually, give them the month off! Let your heart write. Here’s a great song to encourage your free-flowing words:

After you read Day 1 and do the reflection exercise, take out your journal and write about how it all feels. How does it feel to realize that you’ve hated yourself for so long? Or, if you’re among the lucky, how does it feel that you still have a ways to go to reach unconditional self-love and complete self-acceptance? How did it feel to look deeply into your own eyes, to explore the details of your face and body, and then to express love for all of what you see? What about the appreciations you named? Could you believe them? Could you believe in them? Did you ever stop to think of all that you accomplish in a day, much less over your lifetime?

Creative Journaling - If you’re feeling adventurous, take out your markers (or crayons, colored pencils, or pastels), and draw the feelings you had at the beginning of this adventure, before you’d read one single word. What colors, what forms would they take? Draw them as bold and as vivid as they felt to you. Then, use another page/section and draw the feelings you had after the Mirror Technique. How did it feel to experience love from your own self? What shapes and colors did that love feel like? What would the feelings arising out of you look like?

Affirmations - Affirmations are positive statements that point our hearts, mind, and spirits toward something we desire in our lives. A great example is the affirmation given in Reflection Exercise option #4, “I unconditionally love and accept myself, just the way I am.” In all likelihood, it’s not at all true, but it’s certainly where we all aspire to be. Affirmations help break our habits of negative, judgmental thinking and keep us focused on what we yearn for.

That said, however, I take issue with affirmations that are so far out of reach that our spirits reject them on a deeper level. You may be so far from unconditionally loving and accepting yourself that you heard, “Yeah, right!” from your inner critic after you made that statement. It’s just doesn’t seem feasible to our subconscious, much less doable, and it’s not buying into it for one second! Scientific studies have proven that these way-out-of-reach affirmations can be like pushing the gas pedal and the brake at the same time. Our intellect and our hope pushes for us to go forward in life, while our subconscious and our ego say, “I ain’t budgin’.”

When it comes to affirmations, I like to use a technique I learned years (and, I mean, y-e-a-r-s) ago from Mary Kay herself. Yep, Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics. Mary Kay would say if you can’t believe an affirmation, soften it up a bit. So, instead of shooting for the moon by saying, “I love and accept myself unconditionally” take one small step backward. See how it feels to say, “I am learning to love and accept myself unconditionally.” Did you hear any echoes of rejection that time? If not, then use that step-back for your level of affirming your desires. If you felt another “no,” take yet another step back. “I am getting ready to learn to love and accept myself unconditionally.” Keep stepping back again and again until you get to a place where your blood pressure doesn’t rise and your palms don’t sweat. Mary Kay would take it all the way to, “I’m getting ready to get ready to get ready to learn….” 

Of course, using affirmations that reflect a desired goal is intended to challenge us a bit, so don’t make it so easy that it doesn’t point you toward a hopeful outcome. I envision it like the old Panorama cameras on the movie sets, panning backward to get to the bigger picture. You just don’t want to get so far from the scene that it gets out of focus!

Here’s a few affirmations you can try on for the next 24 hours. Write them on index cards; use your markers to write them in your journal; send one in a text message to yourself; tape your favorite to the bathroom mirror. I carry some around on index cards in my calendar and put one on my nightstand to repeat as I fall asleep. Do with them whatever brings them to your attention through the day and into night.

I am okay, just as I am.

I treat myself with the same kindness and compassion I show others.

I am learning to love myself. I am enough.

I forgive myself for what I haven’t known when it comes to loving myself.

I am beginning to notice the still, small ways my true self expresses inside of me.

I honor my self-judgments and my self-rejection, even as I learn to let them go.

I give myself permission to love myself well.

I am filled with gratitude for my body and all that it has accomplished.

I radiate love and compassion to myself throughout the day.

I is smart. I is kind. I is important. And, I is loved.

I am beginning to learn to love and accept myself unconditionally, exactly as I am.

Peace and love to you as you begin Day 1 of loving yourself. Oh, in the meantime, don’t forget to shine!