I am so excited to feature Heather Reinhardt on Strip It Down! Heather’s journey towards self love and Judaism is so extraordinary, it has to be shared. Lucky for you in addition to this interview, you can pick up Heather’s book, Go Love Yourself, available now! Be sure to check out the links at the end of the interview to see everything Heather is up to.
Describe a bit about your background in theater and the performing arts.
I grew up performing in a competitive dance company in Georgia. I also participated in voice lessons and choir in my formative years. My choir sang at Carnegie Hall when I was 15. By far, still one of the coolest experiences of my life. My favorite dances to dance and songs to sing were always musical theatre.
Can you describe your journey to becoming a “Self-Love Aficionado”?
My self-love journey officially started around 2007 when I became fascinated with alternative ways of thinking. I spent a few of those early years reading as many books as I could about the power of the mind and law of attraction. These concepts prompted me forward on the journey to live my best life. When I broke up with a boyfriend in 2014, I went through a period of having to accept my greatness, meaning I knew my purpose was to be a writer and I had to come to terms with it—and muster the courage to actually do it. The more I wrote, the stronger my self-love developed. I was writing about past relationships and really owning up to where I needed to take responsibility for allowing myself to bem treated poorly—and take responsibility for lashing out. I was owning up to everything about my life and all of my choices, finally understanding myself, fully knowing my identity. My definition of self-love is knowing one’s identity, a deep self-awareness—the choices you’ve made in the past, the way you speak to yourself, knowing what you want out of life—this inner knowledge that so many of us never dive deep to figure out. Eventually I realized that it was my soul’s duty to help other people cultivate self-awareness and truly learn to love themselves.
Did theater play a role in that journey?
Oh definitely. My formative years up on stage certainly served as a strong starting point for self-worth and self-love. I often remind myself that the courage that lives within me has been there all along, from that first moment I went on stage when I was five. My years practicing in the studio taught me discipline which has really come in handy with not only writing, but also with creating a business. Numbers take time to perfect, rehearsing over and over till they become part of your blood. Same with writing and creating, it’s a practice that eventually becomes a part of you.
How did the choice to do your mikvah intertwine with your decision to start practicing self-love as a lifestyle? Or did one lead to the other?
My entire adult life, I have considered myself Jewish, even though I wasn’t raised with any particular religion (my family genealogy roots my father’s side to Judaism but over many generations back). I’d been surrounded by Jewish friends and boyfriends, I’d celebrated all the holidays, I’d hung mezuzahs on my doorframes… I was accustomed to the tradition and living a Jewish life. When a boyfriend and I broke up, I had a little conniption about where I was going to spend the High Holidays since I was no longer with him/his family. A friend of mine said, “You know you’re not actually Jewish, right?” It hadn’t actually dawned on me that I wasn’t. I started to think about converting and had kind of placed it on the future to-do list, thinking I’d one day marry a Jewish man and deal with it then. About two years ago, as I began to write my book Go Love Yourself, I woke up one morning with a deep knowing that it was time to convert. I was writing about identity and knowing one’s self. I could no longer live in a falsehood of living a Jewish life but not actually being Jewish. I needed to match my outer world with my inner world, living in integrity. So off I went to the mikvah.
Were their specific parts of the Jewish religion or culture that spoke to you and helped you find your way to self-love? What were they?
I believe that you must believe in something—God, the Universe, whatever you want to call it—to ultimately believe in yourself. When you have faith in a higher power, it’s far easier to have faith in yourself and understand that you have a purpose for being alive. The way that Jews converse so openly and almost argumentatively about God has always fascinated me. I like that we’re encouraged to question everything and dig deep. That’s how the journey to self-love starts, by questioning everything and digging deep. One thing my Rabbi said as a suggestive thought that will forever stick with me was something along the lines of maybe God doesn’t have all the answers and continues to grow as we grow. That’s a great metaphor for anyone starting a self-love journey. You don’t have to know all the answers. Just keep growing.
What is it like to be a Jewish woman building a brand that is so dependent on the, now somewhat socially accepted, idea of women loving themselves?
Speaking as a woman in general, there’s never been a better time to come forward with an idea and go for it. There are more female investors putting money into female owned businesses, and there are more grants and loans available for female owned businesses. I was raised with no limits on my dreams, that I could do whatever I put my mind and energy towards. So being a woman hasn’t ever stopped me from doing anything, especially creating. Speaking as a Jewish woman, the Jewish community of Los Angeles has been amazing, something I would have never become involved with if I hadn’t done my mikvah. I’ll be doing a few events with some Jewish organizations with my book and candle launch soon. They’ve been nothing but welcoming and supportive. The world has got to have more balance between the masculine and the feminine. With more women stepping into self-love (and more men stepping into self-worth), I think it’ll help, as it certainly won’t hurt.
What do you believe are the most important steps towards self-love during a time where we can so easily turn to anger and self-loathing?
Self-compassion. Not beating up on yourself. Being kind to yourself when you fuck up. Acknowledge when you’re having a rough moment or bad day (it’s bound to happen, we’re human) and just allow it to be. But you know what else? It’s also bound to pass. It’s just a moment, a day, a very brief segment of life. Trust that things will always change and nothing gets stuck forever. Look to the sun and the moon and the change of seasons for proof. You’re having a rough day? Go to bed and try again tomorrow. I think it’s also important to prioritize your food, hydration, sleep, and exercise routine. I know life from both ends of the scale (literally, I’ve lost 60 pounds in the last 10 years) and I know for a fact that my entire body—including my mental health, how I speak to myself—thrives best when I’m taking care of myself and being kind to this body that houses my soul.
What is a piece of theater that connects you to your Jewish identity?
This is super cliché but obviously Fiddler on the Roof. Let’s just say now I understand why I used to choose “To Life” to warm up in voice lessons and choir as a kid. Little me knew I was Jewish long before I did my mikvah!
If you had to choose a mantra to live by, what would it be?
“How you do one thing is how you do everything.”
Everything you do in your life is a choice. Understanding your choices empowers you. When you are in charge of your choices, you are empowered. When you are empowered, you love yourself.
See more from Heather!
Amazon link for Go Love Yourself – book is available hardback, paperback, ebook, & audio.
Follow Heather on social media –
Affirmation candles are available now at - www.affirmationcandles.com