Recently, Skinny Dip was honored to be contacted by the creators of REVEAL Retreat to supply body candles for their attendee gift boxes. These retreats provide a space for women to come home into their bodies and really learn how to love themselves as they are right now. We are so on board with this mission and were happy to be able to be a part of it in any small way!
We were so thrilled to chat with REVEAL co-creator Leah to discuss self love, self care, some of the barriers that women feel in loving themselves, and how to overcome them in the below interview.
Leah Lovelight Michael is the founder of Lovelight Way, co-creator of REVEAL Retreat, author of the book Modern Fear The Invisible Prison, and a soulFULL teacher for change makers, soul seekers, intuitive curious and heart centered leaders.
We highly recommend watching the full interview as there are just so many beautiful nuggets of wisdom from Leah! We've also provided the transcript :)
Let's dive right in!
My name is Leah Lovelight Michael. And I'm really on a mission here to help people come home and to their bodies, moving out of fear and into love. And that really started because I grew up in a in a way of survival. Life was very tumultuous as a young child. And so I lived in a lot of fear and protection, and I guarded myself in many ways. And so over my years of life and healing, through the trauma of childhood and some young adulthood, I really have recognized that we live from [neck] up most of us, in the mind, and really the experience of life happens from [neck] down.
And so how do we create an environment, or how do I create an environment, to help people come home and to their bodies and have a loving relationship with fear rather than and than a resisting relationship, reactive relationship with fear. So that's really the mission that I'm on and the purpose that I'm seeking to bring light to in the world.
Lindsey (Skinny Dip)
That's awesome. I'm jumping out of order. But you mentioned a loving relationship with fear. That's definitely a unique concept. Can you explain that a little bit more?
Yeah, yeah. 100%. So I wrote a book, Modern Fear The Invisible Prison. And really, what I've noticed through life was that the way our society is structured, where fear-based marketing is like into scarcity, like, you know, the media. I mean, especially nowadays, it's scary. Life is scary, and its fear is really put upon us. And when you go back to just our primal body, fear is actually the thing that keeps us alive.
And so it's really a good thing. But it's been manipulated and used against us in so many ways that at this point, we resist fear. Like we're like, “I don't want to go down there.” It's scary. And so a loving relationship is to return back to the knowing that if fear is present, I don't feel safe. And so how do I find safety within fear?
So, if it's an external force, obviously, then you want to move away from it. But if it's an internal state of being, like I'm feeling really stressed or I'm anxious or like I feel really low energy, I'm doubting myself. You know, I have imposter syndrome, all these things that are really internal states of being that cause us to feel afraid.
So as we can just compassionately meet ourselves where we're at and just say, actually, oh, I'm feeling a little nervous, like I have a little bit of fear in my belly because I feel like I'm an imposter right now. Am I really doing something? Am I in the category that I'm supposed to be in?
So it's really creating this loving relationship. Having a conversation with the fear rather than feeling like, “Oh, I'm fearful. I don't want to look at it it's just going to shove it over here.” And then if we do that, it just builds on itself and builds on itself. And then we become anxious or depressed. And we have these other states of being that really take us out of the vitality of life, like we become imprisoned with fear.
And so that's really having a loving relationship to fear is the opposite of that.
Lindsey (Skinny Dip)
That's awesome. So you kind of use that as an opportunity to start a conversation with yourself rather than push.
Yeah, yeah. 100%.
Lindsey (Skinny Dip)
Cool. And then you and Jenna Nord started REVEAL Retreats. Can you tell me a little bit about that and how that idea kind of came to fruition?
So Jenna and I, it was February of 20, 20 and Jenna had asked me, “Do you want to do a sensual skin session?” And at that point in my life, there is two things that happen. As one is I'm a yes person. So I said, “Yeah, of course.” But then in my mind, I had had a lot of trauma in my life sexually.
In many ways I've been abused. And so I didn't feel pretty in my own skin, and I wasn't even close to feeling sensual. And so when she asked me to do a sensual skin session, I had this imposter pop up. And so I did it anyway because Jenna, I feel very safe with and she just has this way of supporting the woman that she sees you know?
So I just followed her guidance. And we did that in February. And then in March, she had snapped like a screenshot of her editing process and sent me a photo. And when I got it, I was like, “Oh, that's so pretty.” And then like, I looked at it again and I was like, “oh, my gosh, that's me.”
In that moment in time, my whole reality switched because I could no longer deny that I was a pretty woman. I never wanted to be pretty. I never wanted to really be seen because that didn't feel necessarily safe from my experience of trauma. And so I then got the rest of the photos and was able to look through them.
And I told Jenna my personal experience of how it really was a healing session for me to be able to see myself as I've never seen myself before. And she shared with me, she's like, “I know. That's why I want all women to do this.” And she also shared that, you know, women come with their full stories and so, you know, I came with the protection of not really wanting to see myself and other women come with body stories.
There's so many stories that we as women have. And so and she said, you know, “It's a lot to carry.” And she's like, “I love doing it, but it's also a lot to carry.” And I said, “well, I really love supporting people and that caring of that and learning to take it off. And you really love photographing. And so why don't we co-create something?” And then we were talking like, well, what would it be? And then we were chitchatting. And then the word ‘reveal’ came out because it really is a revealing of self. And so that's when the idea birthed and you know, March of 2020, the world changed. And it's an interesting time to try to launch a business where photography and in-person is necessary.
We kind of, I'm trained in online facilitation. And so I was like, we can do this virtually and figure out how to do the photo shoots in person. So we launched a workshop. It's free to the public. It's called Reveal Your Empowered Woman. And it's just an opportunity to come for 90 minutes and nurture yourself and be seen and have conversation with like-minded women.
Then we moved that into a virtual retreat. And so that went over multiple days. And then the photoshoot would happen in person. And then we moved on to in-person retreats and so we've done now two, last July and January, we were just in Puerto Rico. And then we're doing another one in July up in Whitefish. And really REVEAL is just the invitation for the woman to come home.
Ultimately, it's for the women to come home, take off the stresses of everyday life, allow them to allow us to really settle in to our experience in the moment, not the responsibility of being a mom, not the responsibility of being a professional, not the responsibility of maintaining a home and everything else that goes along with that, but really just the responsibility to love yourself and that is what reveal is, it's ultimately the invitation to be seen, to feel, to be heard for exactly where you are, not where you think that you're expected to be.
So really, we meet you where you are. And I think one of the most magical parts about reveal is that we're participants too. You know, we facilitate the experience, but we're in the experience with you as well. There's no like, “I'm the leader, I'm on the outside.” I go in the journeys with you just as Jenna goes on the journeys with you.
So it really just is a very healing experience for the participants and for us as well.
Lindsey (Skinny Dip)
How do you, I guess, navigate being who you are now versus, you know, somewhere someone wants to go, you know. A lot of people, solopreneurs or women, they have dreams of like, well, “I want to be here at this point. And here's the changes I have to make.” How do you navigate them loving themselves as they are while also trying to achieve these different dreams?
Yeah. So I think the most important part of achieving a dream in the future is having a deep connection into your why. And, you know, I like marketing is always like, you know,” I do blank and blank to help blank,” you know, and that's the doing. It's not the being, and when we anchor into why it doesn't make the call to the future seem as cumbersome because we're staying in integrity to what matters most to us.
And as soon as we lose our integrity to what matters most with us, you know, it's time to ask, “am I on the right path still? Do I need to make a fork in the road?” And in the solopreneur world, where can you find people to co-create and collaborate with. Like I am Leah Lovelight Michael. I can work on my own, but I would much rather co-create with somebody else.
And so really, especially as women inspiring each other, uplifting each other, talking about our dreams, allowing the voice to give life to what's really inside of us is super important. So talking about it, sharing it, co-creating and anchoring in your why, and as soon as you lose track, like I'm using my website right now, like updating it, it's been a week and the, you know, I'm like ready to pull my hair out because it's not my expertise, but I'm anchored in the why, and so it's like, okay, I'm ready to try again today.
And that sometimes when we're doing something that's not our expertise but needs to be done, you know, just remembering “today, I get to try again.”
Lindsey (Skinny Dip)
Yes. Very important. What would you say is the hardest barrier for women to break, or barriers if there's a few, in order to open up to who they are and really embrace who they are as is?
So I think that, I feel and I've noticed as well that women almost have this guilt if they're doing it for themselves. Like even saying that, I can feel almost pain in my heart, you know, because if we give to ourselves then what are we taking away from? And I don't have children, but I'm a lot of women I know have children.
And the first thing I hear them say is like, “oh I want to do this for my child,” but they're not willing to do it for themselves. And I think for me, the thing to remember is whatever we're doing for ourselves, no matter what we're doing for somebody else, is what we're modeling is okay. And so I think the biggest barrier is permission, like saying it's okay to give myself this time because I know if I nurture myself, I'm going to be able to nurture you more. I would say the next thing is women have a hard time investing money in themselves, because if I invest money in myself, what am I taking away from? There's this there's this idea of scarcity that happens within women where if I give to myself, I'm taking away.
And in reality, when we're in a true cycle of giving and receiving, if we give to ourself, it's what we're giving out to the world as well and what we give, we receive. And so moving from this fear of scarcity into this permission of abundance, I think is one of the biggest barriers that women face. And in doing it for themselves.
Lindsey (Skinny Dip)
What do you feel is the greatest misconception about your work or what you do?
So I think the biggest misconception is that to love yourself is like, almost instantaneous. Whereas, really, loving yourself is a choice that you make, in some situations moment by moment, and it's definitely something that you make it day by day. And my work is really helping people transition from not liking themselves that much to actually really loving themselves.
Even when they don't love them like themselves, they can we can still love ourselves. And so I think one of the biggest misconceptions is, is that, you know, it should be something that I can just be like, why can't I just love myself? And the truth is, is there's a lot of stories that prevent us from loving ourselves.
There's a lot of behaviors that we do on a regular basis that, even though we're not conscious of, subconsciously, we don't like, you know, our numbing behaviors and addictive behaviors and our avoidant behaviors and the fact that, like, we will do things to ourselves that we would never do to somebody else. And we don't think about those as like causing harm, but we do.
And so, you know, loving yourself is a journey. And you never actually really, truly get to the final destination because love is a continuous experience. And so I think that you know, the misconception of like wanting the instant fix, the how to use the, the just tell me the five steps I need to do. To be able to like love myself. And it's like, “well, I can give you five steps, but unless you're putting it into practice, you're not going to get very far.” And I think that goes in with REVEAL pretty simply, you know. It's the returning home to yourself, with REVEAL, is radical self acceptance. Like loving yourself for exactly who you are, not who you want to be, not who you were, but who you are right now.
So there's no instant. And I love myself and I think a lot of people want that or they, they look at you and think, “oh, she's never experienced a hardship” and that's not true. You know, we all go through hard things. Everyone, we're human.
Lindsey (Skinny Dip)
Yes. Yeah. Something that is also hard for me to think about is people’s levels of hardship, too. It's like, well, you know, “both my parents died at a young age, and I've been living with an abusive family member. And, you know, I've had this terrible hard life,” and it is hard to look and be like, “okay, well, I guess I, grew up and I had both my parents and was decently well off.” Maybe I don't have any right to be upset about this job or whatever.
Yeah, I hear that a lot. I feel like it's kind almost like comparative suffering. Like, “you've had it harder than me. So because your hardship appears harder, I'm not allowed to my own feelings.” But our feelings are an internal state. And so if we don't give ourself permission to feel exactly what we feel, we're never going to be true to ourselves. We come out of integrity. And so, yes, people might have had a harder life, but you still had a hard life. In whatever way you experienced it in that sense. So I think taking away comparative suffering is really important. I think taking away comparison is important in general. But yeah, because nobody knows what your internal world feels like.
Lindsey (Skinny Dip)
And how do you encourage women practice self-care or self-love in their daily lives?
Yeah, so do it first. Like, you know, my self-care happens first thing in the morning, whether it's 5 minutes, some days I like to take an hour, some days I take an hour and a half, depending on how much time I have. And I set my alarm early for that. Like I actually prioritize my self-care. So do it first if you can, before you give to anyone else.
And then the other thing that I always suggest is like have a list of like go-to things that make you feel good. So if you're having kind of a crappy day, you just need something that feels good, you can look at this list because when you're having a crappy day, you're in your fight, flight or freeze brain. You don't have this creative frontal cortex online and so having that list, you can say, oh, I actually really love having sunlight on my face. I'm going to go stand outside for a minute and breathe a few times. So just having that list of feel-good available
And then once a week I schedule, I'm a Capricorn, very regimented as much as I'm like free in my heart. I actually schedule like a 90 minute nurture session. So I take a bath and I massage my body and then when I get out, if I've had a Skinny Dip Candle lit, I can take that oil and rub it on my body, you know, afterwards. Just really taking time to nurture and nourish yourself because again, what we do for ourselves creates the example of how we want other people to treat us too.
And so it's a priority. You have to make it a priority for you or just continue to stay depleted. But I don't think anybody wants that anymore. I think we're society's ready to feel good.
Lindsey (Skinny Dip)
Yeah, definitely. There is a theory I had heard about, about with 20-something States of Feeling and how like, you know, there's the top feeling, that's the one that feels best. And then there's the feeling that feels the worst. And it was saying like, all right, well if you're down here, even if you can get two steps up, that's a little better. So the idea was how to slowly, but surely build your way up to the other ones just using those little things, taking a bath or nurturing yourself.
Yeah, 100% there. There's this idea that we want to go straight to the finish line and sometimes just that one notch up is enough to take you out of this lower experience. So I think just having those micro steps that can elevate you a little are really important. And that's, that's taking time to actually know yourself.
Lindsey (Skinny Dip)
Yeah, right. Yes, you can. I covered Modern Fear a little bit, but if you want to go into little more detail about that and your process of writing and what you cover in there.
Yeah. So I went to a “Best Year Ever Blueprint” seminar with Hal Elrod, who's the author of The Miracle Morning, and it was the first time I'd ever been to a personal development experience. And it's a high like you never know because everybody's like, “you can do it, you can do it!” And like, they left there and you know, “you can write a book in 90 days.” And I was like, “Heck yeah, you can. I can totally do it.” And so I went home and I started writing and I actually had you know, 20-something thousand words in 90 days and like I was like, “Okay, this feels good.” And then I handed it off to somebody to read and the response was it was, you know, it fell flat in my opinion.
It wasn't what I expected. So I was like, Oh, go back to the blueprint and start writing again, going deeper. And then I gave it off to another person and they're like, “I learned some stuff, but I'd like to see more of you.” And then I was like, Okay. And so then I started writing again, but a little bit of me in it and then felt like it was good.
And then I was ready to send it off to another editor. And right before I sent it off, I had fear. I was afraid to feel the feelings I had. So I ripped myself out of the book and then sent it off to the editor. And then she came back and said, “It was great. I learned a lot and I would love to see more of you in it.”
And so really, in the in this idea of modern fear, I share my story pretty explicitly of what I went through growing up. A single mom of four children, very impoverished, all of the abuse that I experienced, you know, I don't go into great detail of it, but I share my story and really going through these elements of learning to love myself because I know in my own personal experience I hated myself.
And hate is a very strong word to use, but I hated myself. I hated my life. I just didn't want to be here anymore in a lot of ways for a lot of my childhood. And as an adult, I numbed and I did destructive behavior. I partied. I had a lot of fun, but it was not healthy fun.
And in that partying and those destructive behaviors, I was always a highly functioning, successful person on the outside. But on the inside I was literally rotting and I was very reactive and I had a lot of turmoil. And so in the process of writing the book, it took me five years to actually be able to release it. And I'm actually working with another company right now to refine it even more because there is an important message in it.
And so the book itself is a living experience. I really go through these four patterns of what I recognize. So the first one is we have to recognize exactly where we are with acceptance. Like my acceptance was I didn't like myself, my acceptance was like it was really not pretty, not pretty at all. And how do I start to heal that process? And like the different ways that I had to look at my lifestyle I had to look at the stories that I was carrying that weren't really mine, all of the emotions that I was holding.
And then after we recognize what we're going through or where we are and we start this healing journey because even just bringing your awareness of something you haven't wanted to look at changes that experience within. So as we release these, you know, everybody says, oh, release, let go, but we're whole beings. So if we're releasing, we are making this big hole in ourself.
So the next step is to reclaim. So if I'm releasing fear, what am I reclaiming?
And then I have to rewire my focus towards what I'm reclaiming. And so it goes recognize, reclaim, rewire. And then as we begin the cycle of rewiring because everything comes around in a cycle, I don't know if you've been on a healing journey, but it's like, “Oh, I healed that.” And then you're like, “I thought I healed that!” It always comes back. So being in a different way and less and less, you know, I say “the waves get bigger and the trough gets bigger” and then really starting to recede from the work we do. And in that receiving, it's like celebrating how far we've actually come.
So the book really is designed to take a person through a process while also really disclosing my process in it and really recognizing where we are and presenting ourselves like we want to. Our internal world creates our external reality. And a lot of people believe that, like, the external world creates the internal world. And so it's taking ownership and responsibility of your life, which is not always easy. But worth it. Not always easy, but worth it.
Lindsey (Skinny Dip)
Yeah, for sure. Yeah, well, that was all the questions I had for you. Is there anything that you want to share in particular to Skinny Dip followers or just to women in general, that you think is important?
Yeah. So I first just want to say thank you for your product. Skinny Dip is an integral part of our experience now for REVEAL, and I really appreciate what you're doing. To those that are listening, what permission can you give yourself to create some self-care for yourself? And I highly actually do really recommend a Skinny Dip Candle after a bath rubbing it on your body because it's really nourishing.