Balancing it All

Julie Chenell

A Decade Of Lessons

In just a few days, this decade will end and a new one will begin.

And because of that, this year in review feels extra weighty. The last time we turned over a decade, it was 2009/2010. I don’t actually remember it all that well… most likely because I was in the THROES of motherhood with three small children – ages 2, 4, and 6. This time… I want to remember it. I want a snapshot in my memory of me…sitting here, writing a note to all my friends, with a cup of tea in hand and my leopard kitty asleep next to me.

What did this decade teach me about life, love, and business? Pull up a chair – this is going to be a bit of a long one. 

I’m pretty sure there is no decade in my life that’s been as full of change as this past one. Like I said above, when the decade hit last time, I was married to my high school sweetheart, living in a 1000 square foot house with my three small children. I was a piano teacher at nights and on the weekends, trying to make at least $500 a month to pay for groceries. I was 28 about to turn 29, and even though I didn’t really know it at the time… I was extremely unhappy.

Motherhood was rough on my psyche. I’d endured a traumatic event with Eden nearly dying at birth, had three kids in 3 1/2 years, and was on a high dose of antidepressant and anti-anxiety medication. Money and kids were my two achilles’ heels. I worried about them and it… constantly. ​Underneath all the day to day chaos… I was a young girl who never managed to grow up, find my own way, and establish herself. I got married and had kids so fast, I didn’t have time to sort any of that stuff out. And like other people who rebel in their teenage years, I did the opposite. Obedient, studious, and doing everything that everyone expected of me. I had no career, no true identity, and no faith in myself and my own judgment.

Added to the kids and no money elixir was a strong Christian background that I am extremely grateful for, even though I think a lot of the dogma and theology (or should I say opinion wrapped in “God said so”), set me up for the real humdinger that was about to hit my world. I felt utterly trapped in my life, despite the love I had for my kids, my husband, and my community.

That is really all I can remember about 2010. I think the biggest lesson of that particular year is… if you don’t deal with the internal work under the surface… it WILL COME OUT – somehow, some way, and probably in a more messy way than if you would just sit down and get your butt in therapy or with a coach.

​2011 will go down in history as the year that altered me forever. I’ve hinted about this, talked about it in a few settings… but never actually said the truth of what happened. Everything that happened in the years that followed — 2012, 2013, and 2014 — were a direct result of the trauma in my 30th year of life.

Long story short… I reunited with my birth father. And as it turned out, this man was not the charming, caring, protective, helpful parent I thought he was for the first several months of our relationship. No, in fact… he was an incredibly dangerous man. Narcissism is a word used a lot these days (it’s almost trendy now)… but I can assure you… being in a relationship with a narcissist is anything but trendy. It’s terrorizing.

It was the perfect storm. I was lost and trying to find my identity, and waiting with open arms to give me a new one? Was my father. Our reunion was the stuff Hallmark movies are made of. He had an amazing wife and kids, a family, tons of extra money to spend on vacations and grandkids, and most intoxicating of all? A promise to me that he would make up for the 30 years we’d lost and be the best dad and granddad he could be.

I fell for it hook, line, and sinker. And I honestly think my father believed himself too. It wasn’t that he was trying to pull the wool over my eyes. He genuinely thought he was God’s gift to me and my family. My husband and I went from broke to being able to go on vacations, go skiing, go to a lake house, go to Hawaii, etc. I gained two half-brothers. I gained a whole new life really.

The truth is that I also felt an incredible amount of pressure to keep my father interested in me. Despite the fact that he had given me up for adoption, relinquished his parental rights, and never even sent so much as a Birthday card, I conveniently ignored those facts on the outside. On the inside I knew the stakes were high. I’d have to make sure to be the BEST daughter EVER so he wouldn’t fade out of my life again.

As it turns out, according to my father, the definition of best daughter ever? Is the daughter willing to let her father sexually and psychologically abuse her.

Until you are in a toxic relationship like this, it’s nearly impossible to explain the psychological hooks that are used to keep you in the relationship, and even trick you into believing that you’re okay with it. Have you ever seen a woman suffering at the hands of an abusive husband and ask yourself, why doesn’t she just leave?

It’s because of a whole host of things in play – gaslighting is one of the tools narcissists use. Or you can research Stockholm Syndrome to understand trauma bonding. It’s incredibly complex, and I won’t bore you with the details… but suffice to say – once I finally got out from under this kind of abuse, I spent the next three years simply trying to cope with the trauma.

  • I rationalized.
  • I went to therapy.
  • I did EMDR.
  • I talked to my father about it in an attempt to forgive him and myself and move past it.
  • I let my father whisper half-truths in my ear about what really happened so I would parrot it back to him and convince the people around me that he wasn’t an abuser.
  • I spoke at conferences about it.
  • I wrote books about it.
  • I got angry and enraged.
  • I contacted other experts on the subject of adoptive reunions, psychological abuse, etc.
  • I got depressed and suicidal.

And eventually… I got tired of trying to fix myself and justify and deal with what had happened. The perfect A student, good Christian girl who’d married her high school sweetheart.. had her whole life upended because she was too weak to battle against a narcissistic long lost parent that basically threatened suicide and abandonment if she didn’t comply with his desires. The shame I felt was so intense – I had no idea what to do with it all.

I walked out of 2011, 2012, and 2013 – traumatized, partially healed from the little work I was able to do, humbled, but with my whole life in pieces. My marriage ended. My faith shattered. I cut my father out of my life entirely and for good…including his entire family, my siblings, everyone.

I can already tell you what these years of lessons were – Trauma is terrible. It will haunt you for years and years. Also? It will create such an astounding level of growth and maturity in you if you do the work. 

Most of you probably met me sometime in the next few years – 2014-2015 were a season of rebuilding.

My husband and I divorced, I was now in a crisis of career and finances, and also managed to get pregnant while on birth control… with a very handsome new boyfriend named Alex. It was a whirlwind romance, and just six weeks into dating, I had a positive pregnancy test in a public grocery store bathroom – with Eden waiting for me outside the door. I’ll never forget it as long as I live. I went white. This was the last thing I needed while trying to figure out how to be a single person after being with my first husband since the age of 16.

Living the story was a lot harder than telling it back. In a matter of two years – I dismantled my old life, had a 4th baby, worked to turn my freelance writing business into a full-blown agency, married Alex, started a new life, home, everything.

Business and life lessons here? You can do ANYTHING you put your mind to. There will always be a bad time to start something new. Not enough money, too many kids, too many complications. But they are all excuses, because when your back is up against the wall, you will be amazed at what you can do.

​2016 rolled along and after grinding hard for two years – I started to see significant momentum in my career. 

  • I launched my first course and made $10k, then $30k, then another $30k.
  • I launched my first funnel and hit $90k in monthly sales right at the end of 2016. 
  • Create Your Laptop Life was born.
  • My agency grew fast.

Guess what else happened in 2016? Alex and I started to struggle in our marriage. The honeymoon period of relationships had worn off, and left in its path was still a scared and hurting Julie, plus a husband trying to adapt to becoming a father, plus a step parent – in a country that is not his own. Our communication style was rocky. I was stuck in a cycle of people pleasing. Alex had a lot of his own stuff to work through.

This marriage struggle would continue for the next several years… getting more intense with each passing year.

So what did 2016 teach me? Very rarely will you see someone’s growth happen while everything else remains balanced. Don’t feel bad if your life feels wonky tonky when you’re growing something new. ​It’s somewhat normal, and temporary, but see lesson #1 – whatever gets off-kilter will always surface somewhere, some way. My ability to grieve my divorce and fully heal from the past…went dormant.

2017 marked a significant year from a financial perspective. I hit $1,000,000 in gross revenue, bought my dream house, and had my own six figure launch of my signature product – The Digital Gangsta. Despite all this success, I was still carrying a fear that maybe I wasn’t good enough. I needed external validation to remind me I was worth fighting for.

As business continued to explode, new opportunities opened up everywhere. This was the year I finally met Russell Brunson, and was hired at ClickFunnels.

I made the decision to work full-time and run my own business simultaneously. I don’t regret this decision as I learned so much — but it did come with consequences. Consequences I wouldn’t fully feel and realize until late into 2018/2019.

The big lesson of 2017 was that reaching all the financial goals you have – the things that you think will make you feel happy, safe, okay, loved, worthy – won’t make you feel that way if you’re not going to dig deep into why you do what you do. I felt tremendous accomplishment yes, but I still feared rejection, abandonment, and financial ruin.

It’s really hard to remember 2018. Which is funny because it was just two years ago. I think it’s because it was a total blur.

I spent more time in an airplane than at home. I managed my business and worked full-time at ClickFunnels. On the homefront, Alex and I had our hardest year yet – as two of my kids became teenagers, there was a ton of new parenting decisions to make that we weren’t prepared for. We had enormous struggles at home – some of you may remember my posts about my daughter Ellie struggling with depression and suicidal ideation. The cyclone of work and travel were somewhat of an escape from displaced grief, pain of the past, and fear that Alex and I wouldn’t make it.

By the end of 2018, I had the biggest financial success to date – with over $2M in gross revenue and $1M in profit. But it did come at a cost. I was exhausted and facing burnout, even while staring at the biggest opportunity offered to me in my whole life…

Would I (or should I) become a partner at ClickFunnels?

This would mean closing up shop with my own business, taking equity in CF, and becoming a full partner.

What most people don’t know is that this decision loomed over me for a solid four months – right in the thick of traveling back and forth to the Children’s Hospital to visit Ellie. I was definitely in a state of crisis as a mom, and even though I thought I could compartmentalize work and home – the fact is that my personal world was a huge part of my decision making.

I loved the people at ClickFunnels. I loved the mission and the movement. It was such a huge opportunity, and I knew there would be steady financial security as well. It seemed like a no brainer yes. I could finally stop running a business AND doing ClickFunnels, have plenty of $$, and create the stability I wanted to try to get my personal life back on track.

Here comes the lesson for 2018 – Even though I have NO regrets about any of my decisions, I realize now that my decision to partner at ClickFunnels was partially because I still didn’t believe in myself. Despite all the success and accolades and financial means…I still feared I wasn’t good enough to stand on my own two feet. That I couldn’t really be the shining leader I wanted to be – that I was better suited to joining a team. Mitigate risk, keep things safe and secure, and let someone else lead. Success rarely creates the internal strength you need for growth. It’s what happens in darkness and failure that produces strength.

​And now we come to this year. 2019. 

I really see the year in two halves. 

The first half felt very much like a spillover from 2018. A lot of the same whirlwind and stress. However underneath it all… a still small voice – God – was speaking to my heart. 

I started to feel emotions I hadn’t felt in a long time. Emotions I’d pushed down but now were demanding to be dealt with.

  • Grief.
  • Pain.
  • Unforgiveness.
  • Remorse.
  • Regret.

It was as if finally – after so many years of running – I realized “Hey look. It’s safe now. There’s no more crisis. You can actually stop and grieve.” And I did. I got an incredible therapist – if any of you would like his name or need a referral, just hit me up. 

I started talking to God again. 

I began focusing on my personal development, my kids, and my marriage. 

I faced the pain head on. I stopped running. 

And as the second half of the year hit – I made some big moves. 

  • I left ClickFunnels.
  • I realigned my priorities. 
  • I found my faith again.
  • I forgave myself.
  • I re-committed myself to my husband and my children.
  • I decided to take a risk and bet on me. I’m enough. 

​It also turned out to be an incredibly successful year in business as well. Funnel Gorgeous took OFF and blew up, my Digital Insiders mastermind grew from 30 people to 75, and best of all – it’s all happened in the midst of me working less, playing more, and letting my quirky self show up more and more.

There are so many lessons from this year – but I think one of the most profound things I take away from 2019? The simplest truths are the hardest to do, and yet we must do them. For me it was learning to let my head, my heart, and my actions stay in alignment. 

  • That means no more people pleasing.
  • No more saying yes just to make someone happy.
  • No more NOT saying the hard thing that needs to be said.
  • No more bending my boundaries.

I’m incredibly grateful for all the things I’ve learned in this past decade. Despite how hard it’s been for several seasons, I can also see the change and growth that’s happened as a result… empowering me to be a better leader, teacher, wife, and mom.

What will the next decade bring?

That’s the best part of all of this… life is one big giant surprise. 

Today might be hard. Tomorrow might be incredible. You just don’t know what’s coming around the bend, and it’s not your job to know. Just simply do the next right thing. The best you can do today.

I’ve been working on my goals and plans for 2020, and am doing a free workshop with Cathy tomorrow called – Reflections: Looking Back and Looking Ahead. Don’t worry.. .it’s not nearly as long as this email! LOL

If you’ve made it down to the bottom of this email, a few thoughts for you to take with you…

Our tendency is to brush off failure, rush past it, not look at it, shove it away, explain it away, justify it, avoid it, etc.  And be kind to yourself if you’re currently doing that. Sometimes life is so nuts there’s no space to go to the dark place to find your lessons.

But if you feel emotion bubbling up – anger, sadness, remorse, humiliation, regret – any of those emotions…

Let them come up to the surface. Write. Cry. Pray. Talk to a therapist or a coach. In fact, (side note) – it would have been impossible for me to heal alone… but I digress…NOTHING is wasted in this life if you take the time to see the lessons. No failure is a waste. Not one.

And also? God loves you. 🙂

Happy New Year Everyone!

xx Julie

Julie Chenell

Accidentally Plant Based – My 30 Day Experiment

Yesterday I wrote a post on Facebook about my accidental lifestyle change surrounding plant based food.

The thread blew up, and within minutes I realized… I think I need to write a post about food on my marketing blog (lol).

So here it is, my 30 day journey into plant based cooking. But first… a MAJOR disclaimer I need to get out of the way.

I am not a certified nutritionist. I am not a health coach. I do NOT diet. In fact, I could probably run for President on my anti-diet platform because I think there has been so much damage done to our society through fad diets. It’s really destroyed so many peoples’ confidence, created extreme eating patterns that wreck metabolism, and has contributed to a rising sense of “not good enough” because we all don’t fit a particular body shape or ideal.

If you were to come to my house, sit down for a cup of tea, and tell me you want to lose weight, I would instead tell you to read books about loving your body, breaking free from emotional eating, and giving up dieting… FOR GOOD.

My stance on dieting hasn’t changed one bit since falling down the plant based rabbit hole, because all of this had nothing to do with losing weight. It all started with a curiosity about fixing digestive issues because of an intolerance to dairy (you can read my Facebook post here).

What I’m about to share is what I did PERSONALLY. That’s it. So no crazy haters or naysayers okay?

Step One: Make Sure You Understand What Plant Based ACTUALLY Is

It is not Keto. It is not Paleo. It is not South Beach or Whole 30 or any of that. Those are all fad diets. And the majority of fad diets demonize carbs. Plant based eating EMBRACES carbs. I knew that if I was going to make through the most American of holidays – Thanksgiving – without meat or dairy, there’s no way on God’s green Earth I was not going to eat carbs.

So plant based is basically as it sounds… based on plants.

Plants are things like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, and yep… GRAINS. If you were to sit down and write out every veggie and fruit and nut and seed and grain out there, you’d probably realize that the variety of food you can actually eat is crazy. There are so many options it’s overwhelming. Eliminating meat and dairy means no butter, cheese, milk, yogurt, chicken, pork, steak, etc. etc. It’s like 10 things.

Now think about what Keto removes. It’s like 7,560 delicious foods that are incredibly healthy… like oranges, grapes, quinoa, etc. etc. Any eating regimen that excludes half of what was in the Garden of Eden gives me major side eye.

Step Two: Work WITH Human Nature, Not Against It

Most people start plant based eating to lose weight. I did not. Which is probably why I had so much success. I wasn’t trying to change the way I cooked AND restrict calories. I wasn’t basing my progress based on a number on a scale. I was basing my progress on how much fun I could have cooking with all this new stuff. How could I get my kids excited about the foods I was making? How satisfied did I feel at the end of the day? My advice is if you’re going to try it, don’t make it about weight.

Now if you start reading a bunch of Whole Food Plant Based blogs, you’ll see they eliminate flour, sugar, oils, etc. I haven’t done this. Not because I think it’s a bad idea, but because I’m interested in WORKING WITH my nature, rather than against it. I knew it’d be a big switch just to stop using butter and eggs and chicken, so I started with what I could do.

And that meant… making sure I had all kinds of yummy substitutions available to show myself, my family, my meat loving husband that our choices weren’t limited… and we could still enjoy all the social holiday type stuff we always had before.

So naturally…I started with dessert.

  • I found a Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe that is RIDICULOUS. I actually used Whole Wheat White Flour vs. the standard bleached flour to give the cookies more fiber and density, and the kids STILL eat them faster than I can make them.
  • I also picked up some organic fruit bar popsicle-thingys if I wasn’t in the mood to bake.
  • We even tried this mocha pudding cake thing that was incredible (inside the Oh She Glows cookbook).

Step Three: Redraw Your Food Pyramid

I found this food pyramid that really helped – it’s on the plantproof blog here.

I noticed that all of my meals needed some sort of grain base to it in order to feel full. Think of it like this… if all you do is start eating salads, the bulk of the veggies will fill you up and you’ll get full. But you still might be in a caloric deficit, which leads to cravings, etc. So every meal I cooked had a grain + veggie base. This meant I had to figure out what kinds of grains to use, where, and why.

  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Quinoa (technically a seed I think but acts like a grain)
  • Bulgur
  • Cornmeal
  • Potatoes/Sweet Potatoes (technically not a grain but starchy enough to be a base)
  • Lentils (technically a seed I think but acts like a grain)
  • Brown Rice
  • Whole Wheat Flour (for breads and such)
  • Rolled Oats

Those are the ones I’ve tried so far. I know there are tons more but these are the staple grains we’ve used.

SO EVERY MEAL… I’m asking myself, “What grain and veggie do I mix now?”

Let’s take one of our FAVORITE meals here… Tacos. 

Well you can buy organic corn taco shells, plus tomatoes, lettuce, beans, and then what do you do for the meat? If you watch my IG stories, I RAVE about my Quinoa taco meat. It’s so good. So I made quinoa taco meat. If you absolutely need a dairy-esque topping (like cheese or sour cream) you can get a dairy substitute like tofutti.

Another meal we eat all the time (as do most Americans lol)? Meat and potatoes. It’s about American as it gets. 

And here’s where I think I stray from most folks who are sold on plant based… I still served my kids a meat if they want it. I’m not going to force my children to eat the way I do. My personal choice. So a classic meat and potatoes dinner shifted in this way….

I picked up a Rotisserie Chicken at the grocery store for kids that will die without meat. But instead of having a LOT of meat available for every person, I had just a small amount as a side.

I whipped up mashed potatoes using some almond milk and cashew butter, made a veggie (broccoli) and then offered a Veggie burger patty over greens to those who weren’t eating the chicken. Sunshine Organics makes a good veggie burger that has ingredients you can read on the back.

Another meal that we eat a lot? Pasta.

And even though pasta with tomato sauce is awesome, sometimes you just want a creamy pasta. Enter Avocado pasta. OMG. It was so good. Serve with a salad and some whole grain garlic bread. That recipe is in the Oh She Glows cookbook, although I found an alternate online one here.

Also? SOUPS for the win!

So many soups. Bean chili. African sweet potato/peanut stew. Minestrone. Soups are so easy and so delicious. Serve with bread crumbs or bread on top.

So my point here is, start thinking about what veggie and grain are going to form the base of your meal. Then work from there.

Step Four: Make Life Easier With Pantry Shopping

Here’s an argument for buying a cookbook. If you just use online recipes (which many are awesome), you end up having to buy 8,000,000 ingredients. But if you start with ONE cookbook and a few supplemental recipes, you’ll notice the author oftentimes uses the same things again and again. I started with the Oh She Glows cookbook and just committed to opening up that book and building my pantry from there.

I made a spreadsheet actually. You can have it if you want! It’s simply an inventory and there are three tabs… one for “We Need (the red x)”, one for “We Have (the green O)”, and one for “We Don’t Have but Don’t Need (the gray N)”. That one is for things that we might use but for whatever reason they aren’t in season or not what we’re into.

I keep it updated in real time and me and Alex and my house manager share access to it.

The idea is to fill your pantry with all the staples and just do your produce shopping every week.

  • We purchased those sealed containers to hold nuts and seeds and grains. Helps tremendously!
  • We outfitted our spice cabinet.
  • We made more room for fresh produce.
  • We looked for plant based snacks that, while not oil free, are at least a better choice than other processed things.

Once the kitchen was outfitted, cooking became so much easier. Tools we use a ton….

  • Food processor
  • Blender
  • Juicer
  • Lemon Squeezer
  • Instant Pot
  • Cookie Sheets
  • Cheesecloth
  • Shallow bowls (these make your meals look SO amazing and fun – power bowls I think they’re called)

Speaking of bowls, I went out and bought these.

And presentation is everything. So last night for example, I made a kale/quinoa salad. Put that on 1/3 of the bowl. Then I added a bunch of butternut squash, then a bunch of black beans, then topped it with Avocado cream and toasted pumpkin seeds. If I were a food blogger, it would’ve been IG worthy. But alas, I just ate it instead. So good (here’s the recipe).

Step Five: Create a Fun New Habit

For us? It was juicing. I know there are like crazy pro-juicers and then the people that are anti-juicing, and I’m just not going to fall down either rabbit hole right now. But I will say that making fresh juice every morning is something ALL of our kids got behind. Even William. Even when it’s green.

We’ve been experimenting with all different kinds of recipes, but this the produce we keep on hand:

  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Pears

(these are the sweet fruits that help sweeten a drink that might be bitter)

For green juice, keep on hand:

  • Celery
  • Kale or Spinach
  • Cucumber

For red juice, keep on hand:

  • Pomegranate
  • Beets
  • Strawberries/Raspberries

And then, don’t forget a splash of:

  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Grapefruit

We’ve started serving these half juice/half seltzer and I’ll tell you what.. it puts soda to SHAME.

Get some fun glasses, pour over ice, and enjoy. Last night’s concoction was like some decadent beachside cocktail (minus the alcohol) and it was SO good.

I was NOT excited about another kitchen appliance, and I admit – I resisted Alex’s insistence on the juicer. Not anymore. I’m sold.

Step Six: Fall In Love With Beans

I admit, beans by themselves don’t thrill me. Although now that my palette has changed, I feel differently. BUT… beans can do some pretty cool stuff! Here are two things our kids said YES to…

Falafel (we bake ours rather than fry)

Shove it all in the food processor, form into patty’s, and then freeze them. Pull out when you need. We love them over salads or inside whole wheat tortillas with veggies and tahini dressing.

Chickpea Chicken Salad

It’s not really that, but if you like the flavor and texture of a chicken salad on a piece of sourdough bread, this recipe from the Oh She Glows cookbook was one of our first winners. It legit tastes like you’re eating chicken salad on a sandwich.

Beans are so versatile, so filling, so good for digestion, I’m working on incorporating them into both lunch and dinner every day (I haven’t figured out breakfast yet). And if you’re short on time, just get the cans of beans. Don’t be a hero and soak them unless you’re on a mad budget and need the bulk pricing.

Step Seven: Fast Breakfast For The Win

If you’re like me, morning time is frantic. Kids have to be out the door by 7:30am. So our go to speedy breakfasts include:

  • Smoothies
  • Peanut Butter + Banana Toast
  • Avocado Toast
  • Baked Oatmeal (prepare the night before and keep in fridge for 3 days) – this by the way also can be a dessert

The Nutri-bullet is amazing. We taught the kids how to make smoothies… The idea is…

  • Coconut Milk or Almond Milk
  • Frozen Fruit (we keep a ton on hand)
  • Some type of seed (flax or chia)
  • Bonus points if you throw in some kale/spinach
  • Bonus points if you throw in some spices

If you’re in a MAD rush, just make the smoothie and put it in a to-go container. And if it feels too much like you’re drinking breakfast, make the smoothie a bit thicker, put it in a bowl, and top with granola, unsweetened coconut, and little pieces of dark chocolate. It’s like a mock acai bowl.

Step Eight: Don’t Ignore Your Body

If it’s hungry, eat.

Then eat again.

Then just keep eating.

For anyone who’s been on yo-yo diets, your body will naturally start to stop the feast/famine cycle when you’ve adequately convinced it that ABUNDANCE is here. Now I keep roasted veggies, grains/rice, and beans in my fridge so I can whip up a power bowl in minutes.

We always have some dairy free dessert on hand.

We drink juice and smoothies and spritzers in wine glasses.

Step Nine: Understand the New Weird Stuff You Will Cook With

  • Nutritional yeast for example. It’s in regular grocery stores, but it took me a bit to find it. It adds that cheesy flavor, plus it’s got all kinds of good stuff in it.
  • Coconut oil (which isn’t weird really anymore but if you’re used to regular canola oil, it takes some getting used to).
  • Tahini is like the consistency of peanut butter, and it’s made from sesame seeds. We use it all the time.
  • Get a garlic masher because there’s a lotta garlic going on in our house now.
  • A cheesecloth will help you drain the water when you’re soaking stuff like quinoa.

My point in all of this is that if you set yourself up right, it’s NOT harder to cook this way. It’s actually easier. Things can be served at room temp. Food spoiling and sanitizing spaces where raw meat was is gone. You can make all kinds of substitutions in recipes with whatever veggies or beans you have on hand. You actually eat MORE variety with less work.

Step Ten: Holidays, Travel, and More…

We’re going to Disney World tomorrow so I’ll report back on how it goes. Disney has over 400 plant based options on property so I’m sure we’ll be fine. And we’ve gone out several times in 30 days and here’s what we do…

Tell the server you have a dairy allergy. That way they’ll be sure to not cook with milk, butter, eggs, cheese, etc.

Then just order the vegetarian option on the menu.

  • We went to hibachi and had the noodles, the rice (without the egg), the veggies, the soup, and salad. We were STUFFED.
  • We went to Sushi and had veggie rolls, edamame, and miso soup.
  • We did Thanksgiving and filled out plates with veggie based stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, more veggies, bread, and then had a lentil/kale salad as the whole grain.
  • We had company over and did a Taco bar and offered ground meat and quinoa meat so people could choose.

At this point almost every restaurant and party has a vegetarian option, so choose that and explain you’re dairy free and you’re good to go!

So What’s Happened In 30 Days?

Here are the things that have changed in our house since starting this…

  1. My teenagers regularly make fun of me because I’ve gone “hippie vegan”. They sometimes participate, sometimes don’t.
  2. William is drinking fresh juice every morning and getting a massive hit of vitamins that we wasn’t otherwise getting in his very picky diet.
  3. Alex and I are cooking together.
  4. We waste less.
  5. Insomnia GONE.
  6. Digestive issues GONE.
  7. Energy levels WAY up.
  8. Mood levels UP.
  9. Palette changed
  10. Sugar cravings gone (YES we’re still eating sugar and yet the night snacking is gone- I can’t explain it).
  11. Weight lost (I’m not tracking but I can tell by my pant size). I know Alex has tracked and lost somewhere between 10-12 lbs in 30 days.

So there you have it. 3000 words letter and not one affiliate link, it’s my gift to you! Merry Christmas!

By the way, a couple of books I read that cemented my belief around this way of eating?

I want to end with this. My family still eats processed food. We have diet coke and cookies in our cupboards. This is not about extremes. I personally feel better than I EVER have and have no desire for meat or dairy. So I’m going to keep going. But I’m also not the kind of person who’s going to control everything about what my entire family eats, because I’m a big believer in just leading by example, by what you feel in your heart you should do, without any judgment or shame about what other people choose to do instead.

So yea… maybe they ate a veggie burger with a Diet Coke and some potato chips.

Maybe they eat beans. Maybe they don’t.

All I know is that I accidentally fell into plant based eating, and me, my palette, my body, and my stomach… are happier than they’ve ever been.

Julie Chenell

Productivity Hack: How To Move From Interruption To Search

I had the privilege of attending Russell Brunson’s Traffic Secrets event last year, and it was there that I first heard the phrase “Search vs. Interruption.” It’s Russell’s way of talking about a marketing topic that many of us know as…

Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing

Or sometimes called…

Content vs. Direct Response Marketing

People like Gary V. and Neil Patel lead with content. They invite people into their world by creating value and leveraging organic traffic. From there you might level up into their paid offers.

Russell Brunson and Dean Graziosi are industry leaders in outbound or direct response marketing. This is where you’re interrupted with paid ads and drawn into a funnel, even when you weren’t planning on it. You weren’t actively searching.

In one case, the prospect is actively searching for information and runs into your content (which leads to your paid products). In another case, your prospect is scrolling on social media and gets interrupted with ads that lead to a funnel.

This is not going to be a blog post about the differences between the two types of marketing. What it is going to be is (hopefully) a MASSIVE productivity aha! about how this schema in marketing works with productivity too.

First off, at the bottom of this post is an article I read about productivity and your phone. It’s a long article and totally worth the read, and I found myself implementing a bunch of the hacks in it.

However, what I recognized is this…

To become more productive, it’s important to build your daily routine around the concept of search… not interruption.

Most of us don’t do this. We love interruption. We have the typical *bad* interruptions like social media. We also have *productive* interruptions – like… calendar reminders! These are good right? Alarm clocks do the same thing. Interrupt our activity to get us to take action.

So I’m not trying to demonize the idea of interruption… because there are times when it’s necessary.

But if we developed search based routines, we’d avoid a crap ton of interruption.

Here’s the idea…

In the article I mentioned, one of the things he describes is the idea of using folders for your apps, and also removing badges (the little red notifications). That’s because if you open your phone and see a 45 next to your inbox, even if you were opening your phone to turn on some music or use the calculator, you probably had to resist the urge to check your inbox (or maybe you didn’t resist and went down a rabbit hole).

If you put your apps in folders and remove badges, then there’s nothing interrupting you. You will have to SEARCH for updates, notifications, messages, etc. which means, unless you’re actively looking for it, you won’t see it.

Now let’s expand this to think about in other ways.

How many of us use notifications on our computers too? I know I have it on for Facebook, for Slack, for Voxer… heck even for Trello! I am using the notifications to dictate where I look and when, which is interruption based.

What if I restructured all my work to be search based. At first, I’d need reminders yes. But eventually, I would learn how to use all these apps without the buzz of interruption all the time.

What if it started with a simple checklist? That checklist is all the places you check during your prescribed “admin” time. So for example, at 12pm and 5pm EST everyday, you would check…

  1. Your Trello Boards
  2. Your Slack Channels
  3. Your Voxer Messages
  4. Your Email Messages
  5. Your FB Groups

etc. etc.

I know people do this with email, but there are so many other communication channels now – that we have to carry this idea over to them as well.

Another question to ask yourself is this:

What would your day look like you had NO REMINDERS and had to actively search out anything and everything you were going to do?

Think about that for a minute.

  • No calendar reminders. You’d have to open your calendar and actually look.
  • No Facebook notifications. You’d have to pick the groups and places you were going to check for updates for.
  • No Slack messages. Which channels would you go in and read the happenings on?

Then ask yourself this next level question…

If I received NO INBOUND messages at all for one day – no comments, no emails, no Voxers… WHO would I actively reach out to? WHAT would I actually do with my time?

Then… once you’ve answered those two questions honestly, compare it to your actual day. Are you talking to people you would never reach out to? Are you checking and answering things that aren’t something you’d proactively go after?

If there’s a huge disparity between what you’d do “in the wild and left to your own devices” vs. what you’re responding or reacting to on any given day, then that’s a sign that your productivity should become more SEARCH based.

This works for battling shiny object syndrome too. I can’t tell you the amount of times I got sucked into massive amounts of head trash because of something SOMEONE else said, did, wrote, posted, etc. It would derail me for hours.

  1. If you want to JV or do an interview, who are YOU going to choose? Is it the same people that are reaching out to you day in and out for requests for interviews?
  2. If you want to learn from someone, who are YOU going to buy from? Is it the same people that are cluttering up your inbox and your newsfeed now?
  3. Or, what about a slightly off-kilter customer service inquiry on email that then has you re-evaluating your entire business model, value ladder, and material because of a criticism you didn’t even see as an issue?

I’m not saying that these things don’t have their time, place, and value, but if we take our cues from the most successful people on the planet, they have entire teams of people managing ALL the interruptions, and only allow those interruptions to make it to their desk at a prescribed time.

We do need feedback. We need new ideas. We need new people.

But we also get to control how and when and where that information comes into us, and if we ask ourselves… how do I become more search based, vs. interruption based… we’ll go a long way towards better time management and staying on task with the goals that matter to us.

Here’s the article I read —> How to Configure Your iPhone to Work For You. Hat tip to Cathy Olson in our Marketer’s Heart Facebook Group for the find. It’s really good.

Ep. 58 I Hired My First Personal Assistant!

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Full Transcript:

Today I am super excited, I want to take you a little bit behind the scenes in my personal life. I just made a new hire. And it was so funny, because I just did this sort of with me and Alex discussing it, didn’t really talk about it much, and then I went live in my, or I actually just posted in my mastermind group that I hired a house manager, personal assistant, and my group went crazy and they were like, “We want to know all about this.”

And I was like, “Huh, alright well, I’ll tell you.” So I’m going to tell you all about what led me to hiring this position, what I did, all that good stuff.

So first of all, I can’t take any credit for any of this information, it is all information I borrowed from other people. So two people I want to give a shout out to, the first person is Stacy Martino. Stacy Martino, and her husband Paul Martino, they run, they help keep families together and build relationships. And they are the ones that first introduced me to this concept of a house manager, and also gave me a lot of the original wording that I needed when I was looking for this position. Second people I want to give a shout out to are James Friell and Yada Golden, they are my dearest friends, and James is a business partner, and they hired a house manager and told me all about the marvels of this wonderful thing called, having help.

Even though Alex and I have had nannies for the past two years, we had a nanny, her name was Rosie, and then we had another nanny, and her name was Bailey. Both of them lasted about a year, this time we were going to do things a little bit differently. We knew that we needed someone who would be willing to do childcare, but ultimately the thing that I need most is to not be a hot mess. And it’s funny because in business I am not a hot mess. In business I really, I keep it together pretty well. I have a great team, I have an amazing assistant, Emily, and she’s more than just an assistant, she really runs so much in my business. I have, like I said, an amazing team.

But I have it all together, but pretty much in every other area of my life I’m a hot mess. If you guys were ever to come to my house and look at my closet, you would laugh hysterically. If you saw how exhausted I was at the end of the day, or the way my kids leave the house, or anything like that, you’d be like, “Well, clearly the way she does one thing is not the way she does everything.”

It’s funny, I see people say that all the time, “Oh how you do one thing is how you do everything.” And I was like, pretty sure that’s not true, because I am a hot mess in my closet with my clothes, but I am pretty damn organized in business. Anyway, this is a rabbit trail. But the point is when we went, we decided, “Okay, do we need to hire someone?” and at first, when the fall came and the kids went back to school, and William’s getting older, he’s in school 5 days a week now, part of us were like, “I don’t know if we need someone. We kind of got into a rhythm.”

And this is an important lesson right here if you’re a business owner. When things are calm, you sometimes don’t feel like you need to hire. You don’t need an extra team member. And maybe you don’t, maybe you can live without it. I know Alex and I certainly could have lived without it. But the problem is you’re not taking into account opportunity costs when you do that. Because yes, things are calm, yes, you’re able to handle. What we do is we wait usually until there’s a crisis. A crisis in business, a crisis in life, and we are being squeezed really hard and then we’re like, “Okay, I need to do something.” And typically, it’s urgent at that point. It’s urgent and that causes us to make mistakes, because we’re just trying to put out the fire instead of being forward thinking.

So the instinct this fall for Alex and I was to sort of be like, “I don’t know if we really need this?” and that would have been short sighted because number one, we know there are going to be stressful moments in the next year, and those stressful moments have taken a toll on our marriage from time to time, and that’s an understatement. And also, I’m not counting the opportunity costs of what’s going to happen if I buy my bandwidth back. So instead of stressing about the fact that the kids don’t have winter gear, or what am I going to wear on my photo shoot next Saturday, I now have someone who’s going to help me do all those things, which allows me more time to talk to you, to create courses, to build content, to be visible. That is opportunity costs.

So even though you may feel like everything is just kind of going along, you’re not considering the future potential of what would happen if you were to hire. So I hired a house manager, personal assistant. I decided to go that angle versus just a nanny because ultimately, if I could get my time back then I would want to spend more time with my kids, not less. So that’s where I said, “Okay, let’s do the personal assistant.”

So here’s what we did. We posted on, but I know that other people post on other places like Craigslist and Deed, there are agencies out there that will do it as well. And we created a job description that basically said, “You need to be very organized, you need to like cats, you must love kids because there will be a lot of them and they will be around, and supporting two parents as they run this very busy household.” So the job description includes, child care, meal prep, laundry, household, and then a lot of personal stuff. Things like helping book travel, helping pack and unpack, watching the house when we go away, making appointments, managing calendar, managing inbox.

And we decided to go ahead and hire full time, it’s pretty expensive, because you want someone who is committed to your family. And that means you don’t want them having a million other part time jobs, or not feeling like they get paid well, and all that kind of stuff. So we went ahead and said, “Alright, we are going to pay well, and we are going to pay full time, and that way we will find someone who really wants to make this their thing.”

So ultimately, I thought to myself, well if I don’t need it now, when will I need it? You know what I mean? When is the right time to invest in my sanity? And I’m pretty sure it’s worth it when you have 3 teenagers and a toddler, well, preschooler. So we went ahead and did that.

One of the things that I learned directly from Stacy was that if you are going to go on a site like to look for a house manager, nanny, personal assistant, etc, etc, it’s really important that you create a little bit of a barrier because you’ll just get inundated with requests, especially if you pay for like a prime listing. And if you do that, you’ll get 10 to 20 people a day interested in your private message inbox. So we just responded to everyone with the same email, or the same message back. We said, “Awesome, we’re looking forward to getting to know you, and having an interview. Before we do that, we’d like you to just do this one thing, it’ll just take 10 minutes.” We asked them to send us three pictures of various meals or organization or projects they did. We also asked them to email us sort of a description of how their friends would explain their personality, and that sort of thing.

So we did all of that, and what do you know, I would say 85% of the people who inquired about the position never sent us an email. And that’s very, very telling, because if somebody is not willing to send an email, not willing to take a few pictures, and write a little description about themselves, then they are not a good a fit. So we ended up whittling down probably 40 or 50 applications to about 5 interviews. So that was easy. And maybe there’ll be another podcast episode on this. I had someone ask me, “How did you know that the 5th interview was the right one?” I had done 4 other interviews, and it was more about figuring out who is not the right fit.

And there were 4 interviews that I had, and it’s like almost process of elimination, because I didn’t want to hear about someone who was unsure about whether they were committed for the long haul. Because I just don’t want a revolving door of people in my family. I didn’t want someone who wasn’t able to make eye contact with me, who wasn’t able to explain or articulate themselves or their feelings very well. So it was a process of elimination asking myself, if this person were to be around my kids 8 hours a day, even though I’m not hiring as a nanny, would this person make my child better, or keep them the same? Obviously you’d never, ever hire someone who’d make your child worse, but typically you’re not looking at people like that, you’re looking at people who would make your child be the same, keep your child the same, or better.

So when I got to the 5th interview, I had a gut reaction that said, “Yes.” This person cares, I was impressed with her email, with her photos, she was articulate, she was kind, she made eye contact, she definitely had an air of like wanting to do a really good job, that was also very obvious, and I asked her questions about her past, her life, her kids, all that kind of stuff, and that’s not a very official way to make a decision, but ultimately I went with my gut.

So that’s what I did, and I encourage any of you guys, business or personal, if you feel like, “Oh I don’t need to hire yet. Everything’s good.” Maybe it is, but I would encourage you to think about the opportunity costs and the pain involved of getting to that point of squeeze and having to make a rash decision, and how painful that one can be.

So I hope that’s helpful guys, talk to you soon.

Why Donald Trump Should Be Impeached (But Probably Won’t Be)….

Can I Ask You A Question?

Whenever someone reacts violently, angrily, or with rash behavior and words, we usually send funny memes with the word “triggered”. It is a psychological phenomenon that the person with the most to lose, or the most to hide, will often be the one over compensating the most.

“WHO FARTED?!” is usually asked by the person who actually did it.

People who are liars and cheaters? They are usually the ones accusing others of lying and cheating.

Why does this happen?

The simple answer is because it’s in THEIR nature to do it, so they assume it’s in everyone’s nature to do it as well.

I don’t usually write about politics on this blog, but what I’m witnessing in this country is so divisive, so extreme, so outrageous, I’ve determined it’s urgent enough to interrupt my marketing speak to write down some fundamental truths and facts about the political climate in this country.

First, let’s begin with VERIFIABLE UN-EDITORIALIZED facts about the current impeachment inquiry on our president Donald Trump. I’ve done my best to write down facts without any opinions laced in.

  • Donald Trump had a conversation with President Zelensky of Ukraine, and asked him (several times) for a favor. That favor included investigating corruption – the specific two incidences he cared about were Burisma and the 2016 election interference conspiracy. Both of these had personal ties to Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign.
  • Donald Trump enlisted help from his private attorney Rudy Giuliani.
  • Military aid was withheld for several months after passing in Congress. There were a lot of questions about why the aid was held up in a delay.
  • A meeting at the White House with Zelensky and Trump was also delayed.
  • There are transcripts of texts that strongly suggest these two events (the delay of aid and a meeting) were linked to Trump’s interest in asking Zelensky for a favor, which included in part, a public statement from Ukraine about their commitment to investigate Burisma and the 2016 election.
  • The Democrats opened an Impeachment inquiry upon hearing about this from a Whistleblower.
  • The hearings are happening in a secure room behind closed doors.
  • Republicans stormed the secure room with their cell phones to stop the inquiry. They did this one day after William Taylor (hired and a part of Trump’s team) testified that there was a quid pro quo with Trump and the Ukraine relationship.
  • Any Republican that is already on the committees holding the hearings were ALREADY allowed in the hearing, be it without their devices. There would be no need to storm in with their device as long as they were on the committee to begin with.
  • The house doesn’t need to have a vote to conduct an impeachment hearing.
  • The Benghazi investigation was a closed inquiry. So was Bill Clinton’s impeachment inquiry. Many Republicans are quoted as supporting these closed hearings.
  • When and if an impeachment inquiry gets a vote and moves to the Senate, it’s at that point that it turns more into a trial – since the Senate acts as jurors. Until that point, it doesn’t act as a trial.
  • William Taylor provided a testimony to the committee that Trump was running a shadow policy team in an attempt to withhold aid and a meeting until Ukraine complied with demands to publicly announce investigation into Burisma and the 2016 election conspiracy. He delivered a 15 page opening statement that squarely suggests a quid pro quo and abuse of power from Trump.
  • Donald Trump is regularly tweeting about all of this, using words like Lynching, Civil War, Human Scum, and more.

There are more facts – hundreds more – but those are the highlights.

Now…here comes the editorial.

I have voraciously read the reports from every news outlet I can get my hands on – both right and left leaning. That means I read and watch Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, as well as sites like New York Times, the Associated Press, NPR, and others.

I have also printed out EVERY SINGLE letter, transcript, and hearing document and read them all.

Why have I done this? Simply for this one reason:

The amount of gaslighting, projection, and deflection happening (depending on whether you ask a Republican or Democrat) is so extensive, it feels like you are in a house of mirrors. Like you’re going nuts.

It feels like there are two sides, dealing with two sets of facts. You hear one thing, and then nearly the exact opposite. And God forbid you try to stay on one story – there’s an unending number of rabbit trails and distractions to keep you ever on the hunt for the truth.

In order to get ANY kind of clarity, I had to go RIGHT to the source of the facts. I had to read them for myself, and use my own judgment and discernment as I researched law, rules, precedents, and more.

I don’t know why I’m so fascinated by it all. I think because my psychology background cannot believe what level of gaslighting and projection has befallen our government and our media.

I am looking for the truth. I am regularly going against my own confirmation bias to see if the side I naturally and intuitively disagree with, might just have a point.

I know that the majority of Americans are not doing nearly the same level of investigation or research. They are just listening to random news clips, sound bites, tweets, facebook posts, ads, and whatever else just lands in front of them.

This makes me sad. It makes me sad because I know that anyone (Republican or Democrat) will just listen to that which confirms their bias. And that’s exactly the kind of sleeper behavior that allows gaslighting and projection to continue.

So now, I come to my opinion. My conclusions based on all of this research. The hours I spend reading and listening and watching (just ask Alex who’s lost his Netflix evening partner for the last several weeks).

If you trust my research, trust my intelligence, trust my character, maybe you’ll trust my opinion. Maybe not. It doesn’t matter to me either way. But here it is… (I am a Never-Trumper Moderate Republican by the way)

Aside from politics and policy, Donald Trump’s character is corrupt.

He’s a shrewd businessman, with a long history of unethical dealings. He entered as president, unaware that the presidency is not like running a business. To that end, he’s carried many of his tactics right into the White House, and with his new unmatched power, and incredible amounts of attention from the media who can’t stop reporting his antics, his character is now simply amplified.

He’s amplified name calling. Amplified lying. Amplified gaslighting. Amplified projection. Amplified double speak. Amplified intimidation. Amplified attention getting behavior.

And he’s got a scared, intimidated, psychologically mindf*cked Republican party that’s trying to save itself (and their reputations) by falling down party lines and defending him.

But not all are.

Slowly, quietly, with as little ripple as possible, some are distancing themselves.

You also have SUPER honest (clearly not very politically minded) bureaucrats like Bill Taylor who just take copious notes and tell it all without fearing the consequences or fallout from Trump.

I believe that the escalation of distracting behavior and political stunts from Trump and his closest allies is a desperate attempt to hide the truth – that Donald Trump is abusing his power in office and running the presidency like he does his shady business dealings.

It doesn’t mean that he hasn’t done good things economically for the country.

That’s like me committing a crime and claiming, “But look at how many people I helped in my business!” A right doesn’t overturn a wrong. They are mutually exclusive events.

I spent nearly a year of my life in a psychologically abusive relationship. I went through therapy for a long time to learn the tactics of a narcissist. I could go into great depth about the art and science of gaslighting, and how it’s playing out RIGHT now on a NATIONAL level.

I don’t know if his crimes are impeachable. I haven’t done enough research yet to know that his wrongs are worthy of impeachment, and I tell myself that if it’s not impeachable, the WORST case scenario is we endure this for five more years and then he’s gone.

That’s not very reassuring to me, but I have made my peace with that possibility.

What I do know – I KNOW in my gut and in my heart and in my brain – is that our president displays a corrupt character.

He is a corrupt character and it would be foolish to expect that a corrupt character wouldn’t become MORE corrupt when given a 24 hour news cycle, crazy loyal fans and millions of followers on Twitter, and incredible amounts of power.

And I know that corrupt humans can also do good things. No one person is ALL bad or ALL good. No one. Those good things don’t excuse the bad, no matter how much they may try to say otherwise.

You must take personal responsibility for your behavior in a given situation, irregardless of other “stocked up” good deeds.

Whenever you see an escalation of psychological mind games, where ever you see rising chaos, unrest, division, and confusion – you can reasonably conclude that corruption is at work.

Side note — Did you know that I wrote a blog post (it’s since been deleted) about a year before the election? And in that blog post, I said that the media would (in part) be to blame for Trump becoming president because they refused to ignore his antics? I did. I wrote the whole long thing – it got tons and tons of reads. I deleted it (and the whole blog) one day when I was feeling unusually insecure about my opinions. I knew he’d become president the minute I saw the way he controlled the news cycle like an evil master of ceremonies.

I was correct. And I believe I am correct now.

I do not think that Trump will actually be impeached, even though he is corrupt. I think he’s created such a crazy climate of confusion and gaslighting, that he’s secured his position as President because he’s gained too much control and power over those who are supposed to be his checks and balances.

I hope I’m wrong.

But if I’m not, remember this time in our history. This season of confusion and frenzy. It’s impossible to plant an apple seed and get a peach tree. And it’s impossible to put a corrupt man in incredible power and expect that he won’t produce more of what he is….