When I first met Natalie MacNeil, we were getting together for a trendy brunch at a cute cafe in Los Angeles. I remember many things about her presence. She was kind, warm, curious, and insightful. And despite her sweet exterior, she was in the midst of the biggest transition of her entire life.
See, barely a year ago, Natalie uprooted her life in Canada. Ended a more-than-decade-old relationship. And moved two businesses to California. She says that her life felt out of alignment — that she knew she needed to change it all if she was going to keep growing as a person and entrepreneur.
She also began to find joy in things beyond her business, and opened herself up to an entire world of “playing” and relaxation that she never had before (Natalie used to be a workaholic — can you totally relate or what?).
I’m so excited to share this interview with you all. As you’ll see from the way Natalie speaks, she is busting through the seams with wisdom and love.
Check out the episode below:
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In this episode, you’ll hear about things like…
- A huge shift that’s been happening in Natalie’s life lately, which all started with an international move and a major break-up (and why she decided to change EVERYTHING).
- A beautiful question Natalie asks herself to make sure she’s still on the right path in her life.
- What Natalie has learned from taking a step back from her business and “playing” more in her life. (Serious wisdom here, y’all).
- Natalie’s Superhuman Entrepreneur series, all about how to have better health even while growing a business.
- Natalie’s beautiful advice (and an awesome story) on how all entrepreneurs can add more meaning to their lives.
Links from the interview:
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Loving the podcast? I encourage you to use the hashtag #PursuitWithPurpose to show our PWP tribe how you live your purpose everyday. Plus, you’ll get to sift through the hashtag to find other business owners who care about community and connectedness over competition and comparison. And I’ll be reposting some of my favorite images and stories, too. 🙂
Thank you for listening!
TranscriptRead the Interview Transcription Here
Hey everyone. Welcome to Pursuit with Purpose. I am so excited to share today’s interview with you from entrepreneurial powerhouse, Natalie MacNeil. Now I actually became acquainted with Natalie last year, after being invited to a trip she was planning for female entrepreneurs to Necker Island, so excited. As you’ll hear in this episode, Natalie, a Canadian, recently moved to Los Angeles where I also live. I’m just so grateful that we formed a beautiful friendship here. She inspires me on the daily. Now Natalie is an Emmy award winning entrepreneur, who’s authored multiple books, hosted retreats and events around the world, and creates an online web show called “She Takes On the World TV”. That only feels like the tip of the iceberg. Natalie is all about helping female entrepreneurs actualize their biggest goals. So in this interview, you’re going to love the vulnerable side she shares about her past, relationships, finding balance, and a massive shift that’s going on inside her lately. There are a ton of golden nuggets here, and I hope you love this conversation. Let’s dive in.
Melyssa Griffin: Alright, so I am here with Natalie MacNeil. Hello Natalie!
Natalie MacNeil: Hi!
Melyssa Griffin: I’m so glad to be able to chat with you. I met Natalie a few months ago. She recently moved to L.A., Los Angeles, which we will be talking about, and just was able to get brunch with her and feel her amazing spirit. So I’m excited to bring her to you guys today, and be able to chat with her about the incredible shifts that have been happening inside of her and her business lately. To get things started Natalie, I kind of want to start from that place of this evolution you’ve been going on. I feel like I’ve been watching you. From our conversation when we met up in L.A. a few months ago, I’ve been watching you and just going through this evolution. I read in one of your blog posts recently, this quote that I feel like perfectly sums up where you were in your life and the direction that you’re heading. So I want to read that and then just ask you a little bit about it.
So the quote that you said was “I was feeling like a tree planted in a small pot with roots that had nowhere else to go. You can keep a tree in a pot and then you repot it in a bigger pot so it can continue to grow. But if you want it to grow into all that tree’s seedling was perfectly programmed to be, you plant it outside. I was feeling that in order to become all I was programmed to be, I needed to be repotted.” I love that. That was beautiful. What did being repotted mean for you at that time?
Natalie MacNeil: That was how I was feeling when I was still living in my city, in Canada. Feeling into the immigration process and what that was going to be for me, was really, really scary. There was a lot of fear that came up there, because I had my closest friends in Canada. I was in a relationship. My family was there. I had created a life. I built my businesses there. I didn’t think I would stay there forever, but actually, moving is such a process, especially when you want to move to another country. I knew that I wanted to move to the US. Immigration is not a walk in the park by any means and…
Melyssa Griffin: Even moving to like a different state is a big deal, and you moved to a different country.
Natalie MacNeil: And to move companies across a border, it’s not a fun process and I knew that going into it. And so, it was at a point where I wasn’t in enough pain in the situation that I was in for me to justify going through the pain of moving. I wanted to move for a few years before I actually did, and it just got to a point where I would be visiting friends in the US or I would be on a trip, even elsewhere, and I would come back to the city that I was on. That’s when I felt like everything was closing in around me. That’s when I really started to feel like I was playing*, so small there. That’s where the whole metaphor came from of like being this tree and being potted in this little tiny pot. I felt like I had so much potential, but that I was never going to be able to reach it there in the place that I was in. Even the relationship that I was in, I started to feel like that was not for my highest purpose and potential as well. It just got to a breaking point one day, where I came back from a trip to New York and I knew I was about to get my dream book deal. I just couldn’t take it anymore. It was that quote – what is that quote? It’s about being in a place where it’s so painful to stay. That’s the point that I got to. It would have been way more painful to stay than to take on the pain of moving, which ended up being like a two-year process. I had ways that I got through that. I wrote my future self letters, and this is a practice I’ve carried in my life for a little while. I wrote letters to future Natalie. Dear future Natalie, I’m so sorry I’m causing you all of this pain, because I knew it was going to be a tough process for a couple years. I’m just about to be on the other side of that. It’s not even done yet, but it’s almost done.
Melyssa Griffin: How did you find the courage to make that shift when you knew that something was not in alignment or it just wasn’t feeling good to you? How did you find that courage to be able to say you know what, this is not what I want and I’m going to make these dramatic changes to my life to find something better?
Natalie MacNeil: Yeah, you mentioned the word alignments, and that is what it all comes back to. I think what a lot of people don’t always recognize is that alignment doesn’t mean that everything is great and everything is flowing all the time. I feel like this word is being thrown around a lot right now. Sometimes to get into alignment with what you feel is your highest and best use, does require you to make really big shifts and be willing to make those shifts, even when they are difficult decisions and even when they’re going to cause you pain. So for me, having so many areas of my life in alignment, I would say that I’m a person of integrity and I really practice what I’m preaching. I’m not a person who will go out and like put on this show and say a bunch of things, and then the camera is off or I’m not teaching anymore, and I go and do something completely different. The words that I speak, have a lot of meaning to me. I want the words that I speak to really be aligned with all of my actions. It got to a point where I just knew that to stay in alignment, it was going to mean making some really difficult decisions. They were the hardest decisions of my life, to decide to leave, to move away, to leave that whole life behind. It feels like I’m in a whole new life now. That feels like a very different chapter, not even a different chapter, it feels like a different book.
I think in terms of having courage, it’s just knowing that something is for your highest potential, and then having practices to stay really grounded as you move through those transitions, and having a support system to help you during that transition. I think that was probably the rockiest part of it for me because I was sort of losing the support system that I had or I felt like I was losing it. They didn’t understand. All the people I was close to back at home in Canada, they didn’t really understand what I was going through. And then, I also didn’t have a support system yet where I was going. So there was this period where I feel like I really had to rely on myself in a lot of ways, and my meditation practice that has been a big part of my life, and then some teachers and coaches and mentors that helped me get through it. I think that’s the key, is just having that support system in place.
Melyssa Griffin: Yeah. I think that’s huge too. I love that you touched on adding in your own routines and practices to help you get through those things too. You mentioned meditation which has been something that’s really helpful for me as well. Can you kind of describe like what is your meditation practice? I know some people listening are probably like “I would like to do meditation, but I don’t know how to get started, or I don’t think I could ever stop thinking about something, or is it really helpful.” What are your thoughts? How do you do it?
Natalie MacNeil: So I have been meditating for a very, very long time. I was not one of the ones who like jumped on the bandwagon more recently. When I was a teenager and I was in China on a trip, I was at this temple. These monks just looked so happy and peaceful. I wanted that so badly. The feeling, the radiance that they had, I was like that looks really nice. They invited me to sit with them and meditate. I was like I don’t know how to do this, what am I doing. They were like just sit and breathe, and that’s all. So I sat and I was breathing. I was like okay, just be, just be, okay cool. And then all the chatter, all the chatter comes in. I sat for maybe like thirty seconds, maybe a minute at the most. I opened my eyes and I was like that is really, really hard. You make it look so easy. I started talking to this monk and I asked him how long he meditates for. He said, “Oh child, I meditate all day, every day. I never stop meditating. My whole life is meditation.” I was like oh I want that. How do I get there? We talked for a really long time. He said just every single day, do it for a little bit more, sit for a little bit more, and then eventually it starts to shift your whole being, the whole way that you move through life. You’ll find that eventually your life too becomes a meditation. I feel like in the last few years, my life has really become a meditation.
Melyssa Griffin: What do you mean by that?
Natalie MacNeil: I think that’s a really great question. I think we have this idea that meditation has to be sitting in lotus position for twenty minutes every single morning. Everyone has their different meditation practices. Really what meditation is at its core, is just a way of like being connected. We don’t have to sit for twenty minutes to have that connection and to have mindfulness, and to have awareness. So one of the practices that I find to be really helpful is to practice observing everything that’s going on and zooming out of your current reality, and just having that…
Melyssa Griffin: Bird’s eye view.
Natalie MacNeil: Yes, it’s like a bird’s eye view. I see it as like everything playing out on a stage. It’s like you get to walk back and you get to go up to the balcony of this beautiful theater, and you get to just kind of observe everything that’s watching. You get to see yourself on that stage in a situation. You just watch it play out and recognize that that person that’s there on that stage and feeling whatever you’re feeling or going through whatever you’re going through, that is not who you are. That emotion is not who you are. There’s a way that you can just observe life and have that awareness in every moment. That’s what I mean by life as a meditation. So it’s just being really connected. I think deepening your connection is really important, spending time in nature, doing the seated meditation practices. All of those things are so important; your yoga practice – all these things that we do to meditate and to take that time out to reconnect. And then it’s just having the awareness and living at effect and not at cause. Most people live at cause.
Melyssa Griffin: Yeah that is beautiful. I love that example too, of just imagining yourself looking at life on this stage versus being in it, and feeling all of these emotions that we feel in the moment, and not taking the time to consider this whole bigger picture that’s in our lives and that surrounds all of our lives that we’re connected to.
Natalie MacNeil: Right, because when there is – it’s the eye of the hurricane. When there’s a hurricane, there’s always that calm, still center. That’s ultimately the goal, is that you can move through this world with all the challenges, with all the stuff going on. That can be really overwhelming and cause a lot of anxiety, and bring up a lot of fear. You don’t have to be in that hurricane. You can come into the center of it. There is where you find your power and you can be still and have that awareness, and get through any challenge. It doesn’t matter how big the storm is.
Melyssa Griffin: I love that. That’s freaking beautiful. So kind of talking about a challenge that you’ve been through recently. I know just on top of moving to L.A. from Canada and going through that big shift, one of the things that you also left behind in a sense, was a relationship that you were in for over a decade. I remember when you were telling me about this, it felt similar to a relationship that I ended last year as well, and mine was much shorter than yours. It was still coming from that place of kind of like being in that pot and knowing that you had more roots to expand into, but just not feeling like you had the vessel or the relationship that was giving you the space to do that. So just in terms of your relationship, how did you feel inside of it? How did you know that it wasn’t helping you grow anymore?
Natalie MacNeil: Yeah. I felt like we had – we definitely had a connection. He’s a very special person to me and will always be. We spent a lot of time together. At the same time, our paths had diverged so much. When I went into that relationship when I was pretty young, I mean we were – well I was 19 at the time and he was a bit older. I didn’t have a business yet. I didn’t have this business yet. I did have one small business, but I was still in university and figuring things out. I mean I was very young. I think things worked for a little while and then our paths just started to diverge so much, especially as I started this company. I was traveling more. I had these big goals and a lot of ambition. He didn’t really match me on that level. He was very supportive of my dreams and my goals, and he wanted me to go after them, but I think we started to really lose connection because he didn’t have a lot of that for himself. He didn’t have those goals and something he was really passionate about working towards. I think that that’s where things started to shift for me.
In the last few years, in looking at okay, how are we going to get these paths to converge again, I didn’t personally see any way that they could. We had grown apart so much and what I wanted was very different from what he wanted. I felt like I had created a whole life outside of our relationship. I remember one of the things that was most scary for me, was in talking about passion, I forget the exact situation, but it was something online. It was a question where somebody was asking like what is your greatest passion, and his answer was me. His greatest passion was our relationship and me, and our love. I did not feel the same way and that was terrifying for me. It was moments like that, and there were a few different moments that were similar, where I was just like, I know that this is not for my highest good anymore, for the highest good for me, and for the highest good of him.
It was something that I had been sitting with for a while and then there was a moment where I was speaking at an event to a very large group of entrepreneurs, mostly entrepreneurs. I was talking about being in alignment and taking leaps, and doing things that are really scary, and just challenging people to look at what that is in their own life. There was a moment where I was standing on stage and those words were coming out of my mouth, and as they were coming out of my mouth, I felt that feeling of not being fully in alignment because my words were not matching my actions, because I knew that that was an area of my life that I was not taking a leap in. In that moment, I knew that I had to end that relationship, and I did that night.
Melyssa Griffin: Wow, that night. I appreciate you so much for sharing that, because I feel like it shows – I mean we’re not just talking about your relationship. It’s kind of like when people are thinking about their problems or the different buckets of their life, whether it be health or relationships or business, it’s like these things are all intertwined together. So it’s not just your relationship that these issues maybe in your relationship were affecting, it was affecting your business, and probably your health. When we think of it more holistically like that, like maybe you would say in alignment, when we think of it as having all of these factors in your life in alignment or out of alignment, it makes such a big difference for how you can grow your business or how healthy you can be.
Natalie MacNeil: It’s really how you can show up in the world in general. I don’t think you can show up in the world in a big way and hold a lot of space for other people, and serve people in the capacity that you know that you could serve people when you’re not doing that work personally. How can I challenge people to go through pain, to take on risks, to be open to challenge, knowing that that’s how you grow? You grow through that discomfort, like who am I to challenge other people to do that when I’m not doing it in my own life. And so, I think we always have to be taking inventory of all of those areas of our life, relationships, health as well. Health has been a big one. I know you and I have talked a little bit about that, and maybe we’ll get into that. It’s about how you want to show up in the world. I couldn’t show up in the world the way that I wanted to show up while I was still in that relationship, because it was taking so much of my energy. It was in the end, causing me a lot of pain because I knew what I wanted in a relationship, and I could feel that so deeply. It got to a point where I wanted that kind of love so deeply, like it was in my bones. Knowing what I could have versus what I had, became a really big pain point and it hurt.
Melyssa Griffin: Right. I remember when we met up in L.A., we had this conversation too about, just our relationships. I think it was just maybe a couple months after I had ended my relationship with my boyfriend at that time. I felt like our stories just – they mash up so much, just in terms of being in a relationship that’s not feeding your soul in some way, or not helping you show up to your biggest self, and how that really makes you feel smaller. So with mine, he was a great person, like a really supportive, generous, kind human being, but looking back, I almost feel like myself when I was with him for those few years versus myself now. It’s like the difference of living in black and white versus living in color, where things now just feel so much more vibrant, and so much more me, with my life and my business and my health, and everything. It’s so interesting how you can be in this relationship with such a good person, when in reality, it just – everything feels kind of like it’s off, and like you’re not really showing up to your full self.
Natalie MacNeil: Yeah, I feel the same way. I even look at pictures of us together or I look at pictures from like a couple years ago when I was feeling like I needed to move, and that was in the process a couple years ago. I look at those compared to now and I’m just lighter now. I just have this joy in my life. My whole being feels so happy and light and free. I’m doing things that I haven’t done before and trying new things. I was really enjoying L.A. I’ve really enjoyed this time on my own to like unfurl.
Melyssa Griffin: Yeah. You can see it. It’s obvious that you feel just brighter now, which I love. It’s amazing to see how you’ve just expanded with these changes that you’ve made, because I know it came from a really scary place, to make all these changes. To see it all kind of come to fruition the way that maybe you’re hoping it might or even better than potentially what you were thinking of what it would look like. I think that’s just beautiful.
Natalie MacNeil: Burning down everything. Making those ashes and building something beautiful from them.
Melyssa Griffin: Yeah absolutely. I’m curious, so for anyone listening, whether it’s a relationship or a business or anything in their life, for someone who’s listening and just feels like there’s something off in their life. They know what it is, but they’re scared, terrified to make that change. What would you say to them? How can they do that in a way that feels good?
Natalie MacNeil: Well first of all, I get it and I understand where you are. I understand the pain of where you are. For me, Melyssa, I was telling you a little bit about this –I was talking about this a little bit earlier. I’ve had this process of writing my future self letters, and it’s been so helpful for me to write these dear future Natalie letters. I’ve always been able to visualize, from the time I was very, very young, different periods of my life. When I was seven years old, I think I actually have the picture here somewhere – when I was seven years old, I really, really, really wanted to be thirty. So there’s this picture of me, and it was actually my mom’s. It was my mom’s thirtieth birthday, and I’m holding this balloon that says – it has thirty on it. I just loved this balloon. I was just clinging to it. I just wanted to be thirty because I could* visualize my life at thirty when I was seven years old. I thought it was going to be so cool. I’ve always had this process of being able to look into the future and say what kind of future am I currently moving toward on the path that I’m on.
Melyssa Griffin: That’s such a great question to ask yourself.
Natalie MacNeil: Yeah. My friend, Jesse Elder, he says something like your current reality is actually just memories that your future self is having. It’s a memory your future self is having. It’s something like that. I love this idea of always thinking about you, years out, and even looking more toward the end of your life. It’s like what do you want to look back on and be proud of. Not everyone gets that opportunity to live out a full life to one hundred years old. Sometimes I visualize myself being really, really old. I also understand that we don’t necessarily have that opportunity. Our impermanence, I think is really beautiful. I think that can be something that drives you if you let it. I had an aunt who passed away a few years ago from cancer. She was just about at the age where she was going to retire and she had all these things that she wanted to do in her life after retirement that she hadn’t been doing. She had been one of the people that when I was starting my business, she was like “What are you doing?” In my last conversation that I had with her, she said to me, “You know Natalie, I think you’re doing it right. You’re doing these things that you want to be doing. There are so, so many things that I haven’t got to do that I thought I was going to get to do, and that’s leaving me feeling pretty hopeless.” We chatted for a little while. That moment and that conversation was really impactful for me.
I was in France a couple months later, she ended up passing a couple weeks after that conversation. I went to France that summer. I was on this wine tour in Bordeaux, and I was with this couple. There were a lot of older couples on this wine tour. I was with this older, retired couple, and this guy was just like, “Why are you here? Don’t you have to work?” Because I was telling him I’d been in Europe for like three weeks. He’s like “How old are you? Don’t you have to work? I worked my whole life to come on this trip. I’ve been thinking about taking this trip for years.” I said, “Well it’s pretty sad that you’re only taking it now if you’ve been thinking about it for years.” He’s like, “Well I just retired last year. I said, “Why did you have to wait until you’re retired to take your dream trip?” His wife was like “You know honey, I think that she has a point you know.” Because we’re not guaranteed that time, not guaranteed that retirement or that future that we might imagining.
So anyway, this is a very, very long answer. I think it’s really, really important for us to always be thinking about our time being somewhat limited and what we want to do with it. Really our relationship with time is one of the most important relationships in our lives. It’s one of the most important relationships we have. I think that we should have a reverence for it, that not a lot of people do. You can open a newspaper, read obituaries, look at people in your life who’ve maybe lost someone. I’m sure we all know someone who was gone way too soon in our opinion. I think that instead of fearing death and not getting to be here anymore, we should really use it as a catalyst and use it as something that really ignites our lives and our passion, and makes us want to do all of these things that we want to do. Watch Steve Jobs’ speech on this; his commencement address where he talks about all of this, remembering that you’re going to die is one of the best ways to learn how to live. That’s what it’s all about.
Melyssa Griffin: Yeah absolutely. I think that’s such a good perspective on just – if there’s some place in your life that you know that there’s something better for you, or you know that there’s something off about your life right now. You’re just feeling that fear about changing it and stepping into something completely different than what you’ve been used to. I love your answer of thinking about your mortality and thinking about how much time you have left, and looking back at your life now and thinking of it as a future memory that you’re going to have.
Natalie MacNeil: When I was in my city in Canada, I was just at the beginning process of doing the move and I had the relationship on my mind. There was a moment where I was in Sedona, and I was actually playing all of that out. What if I stay? I stay in the relationship and I stay in that city. Yes, I have success and I’ve been able to do a lot of things that I’ve wanted to do and I have this business, but like what if I just stay there and stay as that tree in a small pot? I thought about that and thinking about being older, thinking about me thirty, forty years in the future, thinking I’m still here. What if I had left? What I had left the city? What if I had gone to the US? What if I had left the relationship and really sought the kind of love that I want to happen my life? I just remember sitting there, like bawling, because it was so painful for me to think about that actually being my reality.
Melyssa Griffin: Yeah it’s like if you ever find yourself at that place in your life, where you’re worried that the what ifs are going to overshadow the place that you’re at or you’re emotional about it, then it’s really time to make a change. So I love that you did. There was a question that I saw you wrote, and you said that you’ve asked yourself this question over of a span of your life. It is: would I choose this again at this moment in my life? Can you kind of explain that question? How do you use that? I thought that was beautiful.
Natalie MacNeil: Yeah. Great questions Melyssa by the way. These aren’t the interviews I’ve often end up in, where we talk about all this; life in general. It’s not just about building a business. There’s so much that goes on behind that. So thank you for that opportunity. I feel in such a Zen state today. I’ve been really like calm and centered and happy all day. Yeah anyway, I feel very mellow right now. Would I choose this again? I think it’s a really important question for us to ask ourselves, because we do get in a place where we are just comfortable. A lot of us are afraid to push outside of our comfort zone. I think a lot of times we make a decision and we feel like because we’ve made that decision, it’s set in stone and we should just continue down that path. I do this for people that I’ve hired, would I choose this again? Is this still the best person in this role? Is this company that I’ve hired to do this work for me, is that still the best decision for where we’re at today as a company? Is this relationship something that I would choose again? Is this friendship something I would choose again? Is this business model something I would choose again? Is this business and the niche that we’re in something that I would choose again? So it really can apply to every area of your life, and it’s a question that I’ve asked myself for a long time, because I think that what so many people fail to recognize is that we hold that power. We are always getting to these cross roads, where we’re able to make a different choice. In any moment, you can choose to change your life. That’s pretty f**king powerful. You’re more powerful than you think you are. You can choose to leave the relationship. You can choose to change your business. You can choose to do something else entirely in your life. You have that power of choice. You have free will, use it.
I don’t think enough people use it and recognize that power that they have to make these changes in their lives. Yes, it’s going to be difficult, but that’s where all the magic happens. All the magic happens when you know leave your comfort zone and when you’re willing to go through the pain, because it is painful and it is scary to get to that other side. I was telling you earlier about playing a lot at Muscle Beach now that I’m in L.A., and doing AcroYoga and being on the rings and climbing ropes. In the rings especially, I didn’t think I was ever going to be able to go across the swinging rings. You’re on the one ring and you’re like getting momentum, and you feel like you can reach the next ring, but you’re not quite there yet. Now I can do it. Now I can do it, but when I was starting, I was like I can’t quite reach the next ring. And then, there’s this moment where like your arm is getting really, really sore. This arm that you’re hanging off of is kind of sore, and you’re like okay well now this is causing me pain to actually stay on this ring, but then it’s also really scary to reach out and grab on to that next ring. During that process of learning the rings, I feel like I was able to unpack a lot of what I had just gone through and experienced, because you get to a point where it is actually more painful to be hanging on to something, and really you just need to make that choice to go on to the next thing. And then you get to the next ring and it’s like okay now this arm gets a little rest. I can do this now. Now I’ve got some momentum and I spun to the next ring, and now I actually have some momentum to get to the next one as well. You just keep going.
It is one step at a time. You don’t have to change everything overnight. I kind of did, in like a one year period. I feel like I burned down my entire life. You don’t have to do that. You can do baby steps. That was the other big lesson I got from the rings, even from the rope. The rope was the thing I’ve been mastering. I just climbed it for the first time. This giant – it’s like a giant rope. It goes way up in the air. There’s no knots on it. So you actually have to like use your upper body strength to get up. I got to the top for the first time just a few days ago. I cried at the top. I was so happy. I was so proud of myself. Got to the top, didn’t want to come back down. I was so scared to come back down. I feel like it took so much strength to get up. I was like wait this is hard pulling yourself back down. Anyway, the rope though, it was like every day I would just go one more pull up. So it actually has taken me several weeks to be able to make it to the top, but every day I got a little bit stronger doing that. And then I went all the way to the top.
Melyssa Griffin: These are amazing metaphors. I love that you’re pulling out these beautiful experiences and learnings from these little things that you’re doing.
Natalie MacNeil: These little things, they’ve been so powerful. These little things are things that I didn’t do for a really long time, but I was so focused on the next goal. I was so focused on the next launch and building a company, and building it as fast as I could. During that process, I feel like there are a lot of little things that I’ve missed out on. I travelled a lot. I had a lot of beautiful experience. Day to day, I didn’t cultivate joy enough. I didn’t reconnect with myself enough at the end of the day and just be outside and enjoy life. There were so many days where I would just work from morning until night, and now I actually stop working at dinner. I make myself a beautiful meal and I’m usually down at the beach for the sunset, and doing AcroYoga and playing like a kid. It feels so, so good to be connected to that inner child, and to be connected to play again. Some of these goals, like having a goal of getting across the rings meant actually achieving it. Everybody there, the community there, they’re like the play community, the fitness community that’s always down there. They just love seeing my progress and my accomplishments, because I enjoy them so much. For a lot of those people, even with Acro, there are a lot of gymnasts doing Acro there and I talk to them. There was this one girl and she was like, “Oh I was a professional gymnast.” So for her, these things are not difficult. For her, building her business is like the most challenging thing in the world. I was like I’ve got some tips for you on that. The acrobatics come so easily, and so for them, watching me get so excited about like going into a hand stand or going across the rings. They’re like, “Who is this woman? She’s so excited about everything.” And then, it makes them happy because I’m so happy.
Melyssa Griffin: Right. I love that.
Natalie MacNeil: I think we just need to try new things. We need to push ourselves outside of our comfort zones. We need to just live our lives like it’s a big adventure because it is. We need to be cultivating that joy and nourishing ourselves, and focusing on our health. Ah Melyssa. I’ve had an amazing few months as you know. I feel better than I have felt in a really, really long time. Happier, healthier. It’s amazing. A lot more balance.
Melyssa Griffin: Yeah that’s awesome. I love that. I feel like part of it, I mean, is probably because you started this series on your website about health. I hadn’t really seen anyone do anything like that before, because you weren’t just talking about health, like I meditate, I make a green smoothie. You met up with various doctors, had a bunch of exams, and really focused on your health, and then did all of these new things to make yourself more healthy. So I would love to just kind of hear about that series and what did you do, why did you decide to start that series.
Natalie MacNeil: I’m so loving our conversation.
Melyssa Griffin: Me too.
Natalie MacNeil: I love talking about all this stuff. I hope I’m not talking too much.
Melyssa Griffin: No, you’re awesome. You have so many great insights to share. This is fantastic.
Natalie MacNeil: Yeah. I don’t know how long you wanted this to go for, but I just want to talk to you forever. So Superhuman Entrepreneur series, this was one of the best things that I’ve ever done. It’s really impacted the future of She Takes on The World as well, and what we’re going to do with our rebrand, So for those of you who haven’t seen this series, you still go watch it on shetakesontheworld.com. It actually takes you behind the scenes of me getting pretty burnt out and then recovering from that, and taking all these tests. In the videos, you see me do the blood work, and stool samples, and saliva samples, and urine samples. It was an intense process. I did this after my book launch for the Conquer Kit. So I had the book come out, dream publishing deal. It was so exciting. I was on a media tour. I had like 4 AM mornings. I was also moving at the same time, moving from Canada to the US while all that was happening; finishing the rest of that process and paperwork. So I had a lot on my plate. I was not sleeping a lot. I no longer had a home because I had moved out of my home in Canada, hadn’t quite found that place in the US that I wanted to be yet. I felt very uprooted. One of my daily practices is rooting myself. Every morning, I do this visual of just visualizing myself as an oak tree, rooting myself like deep into the soul of the earth and finding that a place of grounding, knowing that no matter what happens during the day, I’m going to be able to get through it. It doesn’t matter what comes and rattles my branches, like I am centered. I do that practice before I go on my phone in the morning or check any emails, before I get caught up in the world and everything that’s going on, and everything going on in my own world and business. I take that time to really center and set an intention for the day.
So I found myself feeling very uprooted. It was a very intense feeling for me because I do like having a base. I like having a home. I like having that place where I can be grounded. Yes, you can do that. You can do that from anywhere. You can find that place within yourself, but having my life pretty much in a suitcase was very unsettling for me. I was just exhausted from having gone through the process of being able to do the move and writing the book so that it could be released. That book has done so well and I’m so grateful. I was just so burned out at the end of that book tour. I knew that I had to make some changes. I knew that I was running myself to the ground in pursuit of bigger goals and just wanting to do bigger things. It just wasn’t serving me anymore. I’m sure some of the behind the scenes videos, where it’s like me in bed at like 3:30 in the morning and I’m like I have to get up right now. I have to go and do these radio shows and I’m so tired. I am so tired right now. When I finished that, decided I was going to take my health really, really seriously and make that my number one priority, and I did. That’s how that series came about.
It was incorporating a lot of different health hacks and exercising in a way that is a lot smarter, because you don’t necessarily need to carve out an hour to go to the gym. There are really great workouts you can do in fifteen minutes, twenty minutes that you can do from anywhere, because I was also feeling like I don’t have gym anymore. I’m on the road and I can’t go to that spot I was going to every day. So all of my routines were just broken because I had moved and was living out of a suitcase. I had to figure out a way to make those changes and to make them easy so that no matter where I ended up, I could stick with that routine. I ended up taking on a lot of new health hacks, ways of starting the day, ways of winding down the day. I pretty much do intermittent fasting now. So I’m fasting for usually sixteen hours out of the day. That’s given me a lot more energy. I’m not saying everyone should do that. You should definitely look into it for yourself…
Melyssa Griffin: Can you give like a brief description of what that is? I know I’ve heard it more and more lately.
Natalie MacNeil: A lot of people have been talking about it especially as a bullet proof version of intermittent fasting, which I have also done and will do. It’s a big part of the Paleo movement right now. I will eat only during an eight hour window a day. Outside of those eight hours, you can still have tea, you can still have water. It’s not as bad as it sounds because really you’re just eating between like 10 A.M. and 6 P.M. for example. So it’s still a very normal window of time to be eating. On bullet proof, I’m pretty sure that that’s an eighteen hour, and then you have a six hour eating window from like a 12 to 6 or 2 P.M. to 8 P.M. I’m just eating a lot of greens, a lot of fat and a lot of like wild fish. I was doing the vegan thing for a while. It wasn’t serving me with my schedule. So yeah, just a lot of green stuff. I’m not doing like processed foods. I’m not doing any wheat or anything like that, not doing sugar. So naturally occurring sugars, yes. I’ll have some strawberries or some blueberries, but I really dialed in my health and the way that I’m eating. I just have so much more energy.
Melyssa Griffin: Do you really? Wow.
Natalie MacNeil: So much more. Yeah, I did give up coffee for a while. I’ll have coffee sometimes now, but not really doing caffeine. My adrenals, as you’ll see in the Superhuman Entrepreneur series, were so burned. That took about six months of healing to get rid of that and to conquer that completely. So once I did that, things started to feel a lot better which was great. And then, I was deficient in a few things. I think this is why it’s really good to do the blood work and see what you’re deficient in. So Dr. Isaac Jones, who I worked with at designer health centers – just doing the blood work and seeing what you’re deficient in, allows you to only supplement the things that you actually need supplemented. Right now, a lot of people I think are taking a whole bunch of supplements that they don’t even necessarily need. Somebody will say, “oh you should take a supplement for this”, and they’re like okay… have an understanding of whether that’s something that their body need. So I think listening to my body and getting outside a lot more in the evening after 6 P.M., making sure that you eliminate blue light, so that your brain can really start to wind down in the evening, and so that you can get a better sleep. I’m sleeping a lot better now. I did have a period a few months ago where I was under a lot of stress and I wasn’t sleeping very well. I typically sleep pretty well now. So blue light, get rid of it. You can download the duet app for your computer. Duet, and that will – you can set it on a schedule so that after 6 P.M., your screen will start to like do a sunset which is wonderful and remove all the blue light. And then on your phone, like most phones have this automatically. So on my iPhone, I think it starts at 6. It’s just night shift, so you just set up your night shift program. Mine kicks in actually at 8 P.M. on the phone, so blue light is off the phones, That’s really important. Just not having screens in my bedroom at all, putting the phone in airplane mode. Don’t keep your phone on transmitting all night bedside your head. It’s actually not good for your brain and it does impact your ability to sleep. It’s the easiest thing for you to do before bed, hit airplane mode so that your brain gets some rest. Sleep with an eye mask on.
So just all these little things that are so simple. I’m not saying you need to go to the gym for two hours. I’m saying press the little airplane button on your phone. There’s so many more tips in the Superhuman Entrepreneur series to help you be a lot more productive. Sitting is something I’m not doing. Actually this is terrible, and my friend, Erin, would be very disappointed right now because I’m sitting in a chair. The other thing I’ve been doing is just going between sitting on the floor and standing. So we spend way too much time sitting and it’s not good for us. We need to make sure that we’re getting up. If you are an entrepreneur, you’re working online, I know a lot of us sit at computers for long periods of time during the day, make sure like every thirty minutes to an hour, you’re getting up, you’re stretching a bit, going for a walk. Preferably, you’re standing up for parts of the day. And then if you’re sitting, you can sit on the floor and stay really stacked. That’s going to help you as well. I’ll be talking about this in an upcoming series that I’m doing, but these are just all – all these little things that I’ve been incorporating.
Melyssa Griffin: I like that because it’s like you can just add one little thing each day and start getting this cumulative, just better health in general. It doesn’t have to be, like you said, you’re not going to the gym for two hours every day and just completely shaking up your entire schedule. It’s like get up and stand for thirty minutes and go for a walk.
Natalie MacNeil: Before you turn on your phone, before you turn your phone because you’ve put it in airplane mode at night, take a minute to just set an intension for the day. Start stretching in bed. I start moving my body in bed and then my yoga mat is right by my bed. So I like roll onto it and I stretch a little bit. I do a little bit of dance to like wake myself up before I turn my phone off airplane mode. So even just starting your day like that, starting your day by not turning on your phone, looking at it, scrolling through Instagram, checking your emails, but starting from a place of being really centered and knowing what you want to do for the day. Also knowing that you’re only going to be able to do all of those things if you start your day from a really grounded place. A place where you’re like filling your own cup first. That’s a simple change you can make, do the airplane mode thing, do the blue light app. Those are easy things, they happen automatically.
Melyssa Griffin: Super easy. I love that it’s like a little challenge for people. So if you’re listening…
Natalie MacNeil: Take that on.
Melyssa Griffin: Yeah that can be your first thing. All of these things are amazing and I recommend trying them all, but if you’re feeling like I don’t want to, I’m scared to do all these things…set an intention. It takes just a couple minutes and that’s such a beautiful way to live your life with more intention. I loved also that example you gave Natalie, of one thing you do which is just grounding yourself as that oak tree. I thought that was so beautiful too and such a great way to be more mindful and grounded throughout your day. So that’s awesome too. Oh my gosh, I feel like we talked about so many…
Natalie MacNeil: So many things.
Melyssa Griffin: Amazing things. It’s so nice to learn more about you as a person and just how that affects you as an entrepreneur and a business woman versus the other way around. There’s just so many good insights you have about life and business in general. So I want to ask one more question. I like to end all of my interviews on this question. So what do you feel like entrepreneurs or humans in general, can do to live more meaningful and fulfilled lives?
Natalie MacNeil: Love. It all comes back to love for me right now. Love is on my mind a lot. I had a beautiful experience on the weekend. I was with my friend Jesse and we decided we were just going to go on like a magical, serendipitous adventure around Los Angeles. It was so cool, so many moments. There were so many moments. We decided we were just going to like go and love everybody. I mean as it should be. We were talking to people who live on the streets. There was a man who was in a wheelchair and he had come up to us. His face was bleeding and he was telling us that somebody had just punched him, and he was having a really rough day. He is a vet who lives on the street. He was like, “What I’d really like right now, I’m going to be really honest with you, is some marijuana.” We actually didn’t have any cash left with us and we were like “Sorry dude, we don’t have anything, but we would love to just give you a hug and give you some love.” Just looking into his eyes, and he had tears in his eyes, and I just looked into his eyes and I was like “You know you are loved. There are people that love you.”
Just like holding another human and just having that human connection, I think is something that we don’t do that enough. I think especially with social media and the way that we live our lives online. I know a lot of people who are in our communities, are probably running online businesses and we end up working with clients online. We’re connecting with people online, but like being out and having connection, like touching another human being. We did this quite a few times that night. Just looking someone in the eyes and just being like “Hey, I see you and I care. I care that you’re hurting. I see that pain.” Just holding somebody and seeing their emotional reaction to it, and then obviously like you’re feeling that too because no one has stopped to talk to them or paid attention. So I think it just all comes back to love. Love is what I’m thinking about right now and that’s what I would encourage everybody to do. Do something for love, but maybe even feels a little bit uncomfortable, like go and talk to someone if you’re walking by someone. I know here in Los Angeles, when I am out, whether it’s like downtown or even in like Santa Monica and Venice, I do walk by a lot of homeless people. I think oftentimes, it’s so easy to just walk by, but what I’ve been really mindful of is like making eye contact with everybody and just talking to people. We’re all humans and we all want the same things. We want to be loved. We want to feel connected. We all have a part to play in that. So like just go out and connect with people and just do things with love. Be love, stand in love, stand for love, love, love, love.
Melyssa Griffin: That was the best way to end this. When you said that, it just resonated with me so hard. I actually keep this little rock on my desk. A couple years ago, I went to a therapy session and afterwards, after we’ve unpacked all of this stuff from my life, she gave me this little rock. She’s like “Okay, I want you to write down a word that can be your mantra.” I was like “I have like nine words, can I write all of those?” She’s like sure. The thing that just poured out of me, I don’t even know where it came from, but it was there is only love or our resistance to it. It’s like my reminder that in every moment, we either have the chance to view love or to resist love. I love that you brought up that story and just that intention of how can you add more love to other people’s lives, in your own life and the world.
Natalie MacNeil: Yeah, and I do actually want to, on that point, acknowledge you because you did a brilliant campaign, where you were selling your programs. All the money was going to, I think it was – was it a school?
Melyssa Griffin: Yeah.
Natalie MacNeil: Pencils of Promise. You just did that so beautifully. I know you raised so much money. I love you and who you are in the world. You have such a big heart. I know that you bring so much love to everything that you do. So I want to acknowledge you for that. I’m so happy that you’re in my life.
Melyssa Griffin: Likewise. You’re so beautiful Natalie. I appreciate you so much. Thank you so much for doing this interview.