Two years ago, Wilton native Nancy Diehl created Live to Love to Live, a program designed to empower students through self-acceptance and love. Based on the premise that “love is an action,” Live to Love to Live offers group meetings where students learn ways to love themselves.
Diehl said the program is something she feels “really passionate about” because she knows that it’s changing lives.
“It’s incredible, and there’s nothing like it. It’s simple, but it’s powerful and life-changing. There’s no way that I can sit around and not do it,” she said.
Not only is it an “incredibly effective program,” said Diehl, but “there is a huge need for it in our towns.”
In January 2016, Diehl started her first Live to Love to Live group in Nantucket, Mass., where she had lived for 17 years before moving back to Wilton in 2009. Several months later, she started a group in Madison, N.J.
This past fall, Diehl started her first Live to Love to Live group for fifth and sixth graders in New Canaan and formed another group for female and male high school students at the Depot Teen Center in Darien in January.
Next month, Diehl plans to start groups at Trackside Teen Center in Wilton, the Life Solution Center in Darien and the Lounsbury House in Ridgefield.
There will be two groups at Trackside — one for ninth and 10th grade girls and one for 11th and 12th grade girls. The one at the Lounsbury House will be for ninth grade girls, and the one at the Home Life Solution Center will be for seventh through 12th graders.
Meetings and topics
Each Live to Love to Live group meets nine times, and each meeting focuses on a different topic related to self-love, said Diehl.
At the first meeting, Diehl said, “we talk about how there is love out there for everyone to experience” and “open up their thinking about how they are loved.”
“It’s really about recognizing it and broadening their horizon on what love is,” she said.
At another meeting, groups talk about “how they were born to love” and reflect on what they wanted to be when they grew up, as well as their “gifts and talents,” said Diehl.
Another session focuses on “love as an action,” said Diehl, during which groups “talk about what love looks like” and how “love doesn’t necessarily start with feeling” but “starts with decision.”
Group members also learn about the importance of doing good things for themselves and forgiving themselves.
“When you do nice things for yourself,” said Diehl, “it changes you and it causes you to love yourself.”
Diehl said acceptance and forgiveness are two common themes in her groups.
“We spend an entire session talking about accepting themselves for everything they have. If there’s things about them that they don’t like, the only way that those things will ever change is if they accept them and love themselves with those. That gives them the freedom to change those things,” said Diehl.
“You’re having a relationship with yourself, so if you want things to change in you, it starts with acceptance and loving yourself with all those things.”
Like love, Diehl said, forgiveness is an action, and it’s something she tells her groups to “speak out.”
“If you speak out that you forgive yourself, the feeling will actually follow,” she said.
Diehl said most of the participants in her groups say they have school-related anxiety. Social pressure is another factor that makes it harder for students to love themselves. Diehl said the worry and stress over “what they’re going to be and what they’re going to do” is the biggest burden.
At the end of the day, Diehl said, “it comes down to, no matter what you’re going through, choosing to love both yourself and those in front of you.”
In addition to creating and running the Live to Love to Live program, Diehl is the creator and president of Love Sees sterling silver jewelry, as well as the author of Love Sees Gift Book. Her jewelry and book both communicate messages of love, and 10% of her jewelry proceeds goes to support teen suicide prevention and awareness. She is also the mother of two teenage daughters.
Trackside Teen Center program director Amy Nassef said she believes the Live to Love to Live program will have “a positive impact” on the Wilton community.
With the program, she said, Trackside’s goal is to “establish a source of support and comfort for teen girls who are impacted by the pressure, stress, and anxiety that they face in high school.”
Live to Love to Live meetings at Trackside will begin March 5 and run through May, with ninth and 10th graders meeting every Monday and 11th and 12th graders every Tuesday. Both groups will meet from 7 to 8 p.m.
The group at Lounsbury House will meet every Thursday from 7 to 8 p.m., beginning March 8.
The Life Solution Center of Darien groups will meet every Sunday, beginning March 4, with the seventh and eighth grade group meeting from 12:45 to 1:45, the ninth and 10th grade group from 2 to 3, and the 11th and 12th grade group from 3:15 to 4:15.
There is a $180 registration fee for each Wilton and Ridgefield group. For Darien, there is a $315 fee for a nine-week group session and an $855 fee for a nine-week individual session. Diehl said she offers assistance for anyone with financial hardship.
Those looking to join Live to Love to Live groups at Trackside must register through the teen center. For information, call 203-834-2888.
For the other towns, registration is through Live to Love to Live by calling 508-901-1147 or emailing [email protected].