Child: Welcome to my Mommy’s podcast.

This episode is brought to you by Alitura. You’ve probably heard me talk about that. This is a skincare company I love, and it’s founded by a dear friend of mine, Andy, who created these incredible products when he was in a horrible accident that left him with scars on his face. And this sent him into an incredible research phase to figure out ways that he could hopefully heal those scars and not have them with him for life. And he’s developed some incredible products that have allowed him to do just that. One of my favorites is their face mask. And if you’ve seen me on Instagram with clay all over my face and hair, this is likely the one that I’m using. It’s a simple mask that does incredible things for the skin and contains dozens of really, really beneficial ingredients. I notice a big difference in my skin tone when I use it regularly. They also have something called the Gold Serum, which I find especially nourishing for my skin without being too oily. And I love to use that, especially before we go outside or if I’m gonna be in front of the red light. I just find it’s really, really beneficial for my skin. I love all of their products because they use completely natural ingredients, and not just natural but incredibly beneficial ingredients. Andy goes above and beyond to make sure that everything that is contained in these formulas are so beneficial for the skin. And his skin is certainly a testament to how well they work. And I’ve gotten incredible feedback from many of you who have tried these products and loved them as well. They’re much less expensive than spa variations of skincare products and I found that the quality is so, so much better. And I don’t worry at all because I know they’re so natural. I would love for you to check out their products and find out all about the different formulas they have by going to alituranaturals.com/wellnessmama. And they’ve generously offered a discount of 20% with the code WELLNESSMAMA, all capital, all one word.

This podcast is brought to you by Wellnesse, my new personal care company that is based on the recipes I’ve been making at home in my kitchen for decades. Many “clean” products simply don’t work and this is why I have spent the last decade researching and perfecting recipes for products that not only eliminate toxic chemicals but contain ingredients that work better than their conventional alternatives and that nourish your body from the outside in. I’m so excited to finally share these products with you and wanted to tell you about our brand new dry shampoo! It can be used various ways. You can sprinkle it in clean hair to add volume and to extend time between washes, sprinkle it in hair that has not been washed in a day or two to absorb oil or sweat and you can work in to color treated hair to maintain color-treated hair by not having to wash as often. It contains oil-absorbing kaolin clay and volume-boosting tapioca which work together to refresh hair at the roots. Lavender oil and cactus flower help to balance scalp and strands’ natural pH. We even added hibiscus for healthy hair growth. You can check it out and try it at wellnesse.com and my tip is to grab a bundle to save or subscribe and save as well!

Katie: Hello, and welcome to “The Wellness Mama Podcast.” I’m Katie from wellnessmama.com and wellnesse.com. That’s wellness with an E on the end. It’s my line of personal care products, including hair care and toothpaste. And I would love for you to check them out at wellnesse.com.

This episode is a shorter solo episode, check-in, and plan for the next year. And I would really love to hear from you guys at the end of this episode in the show notes or on social media, as I plan ahead for next year, realizing what a different world it seems to be now and wanting to really double down on the goals of supporting and curating community, especially for moms, which has always been the goal here. But to start, I think we can all agree that this was a crazy 525,600 minutes this past year. I think for many of us, it’s been a teacher, it’s been a challenge, a frustration, and a very, very long 12 months. Speaking personally, I don’t think I expected it to look like this in January. I certainly had other plans than what this year brought, and there were a lot of ups and downs I think for many of us, both in personal life, in work life, in family life. I know a lot of people who have been through a lot this year. I’m looking forward very hopefully to next year. And I would love to hear from you guys on this, as well. But I wanted to just briefly recap some of the experiments and plans I had for last year and how they actually turned out this year, the ones of 2020, and how some of them had to be modified, as well as things I’ve learned this year and things I would love to pass on to you guys. And then also talk through my upcoming 2021 experiments, systems, and favorites, and get your input on those as well. Because I very much think of Wellness Mama as a community. And your insight is really, really important to me.

So, to begin, the experiments and highlights of 2020. I spend a lot of time at the end of every year, planning forward and creating systems for the next year and breaking that into short, manageable projects that are planned out for those 12 months. I also usually set challenges and experiments for each month and some bigger ones for the year as a whole. And I did that last year as well. I’m gonna go through some of those now. And I’m in that process now for 2021. And I’ll go through that in a minute. I also, as always, will be spending the at least first week of the year, doing a water fast, which I will link to in the show notes for any of you guys who are interested about why I do that and what I do. But the short version is that I find that’s a very helpful mental and spiritual reset as much as a physical one. And I try to spend that time with family, try to spend it rereading things like “Man’s Search for Meaning” and “The Four Agreements,” and really re-centering my mind and getting ready for the year ahead. I just really love that tradition of removing something that is such a common part of life, like food and using the time and the focus of that to really hone in for the next year.

And so in 2020, some of the experiments, and highlights, and themes were, for one, lots of family time. I think this was a common theme for many of us, even if it wasn’t one that we planned to have in 2020. But certainly, with all the changes that happened last year, many of us spent much more time at home than we normally would. And that, of course, had its ups and downs, I’m sure for all of us as well. But I tried to be present and focus on the good things of that family time and really spend that time focused on my kids and all of the things in our life at home that I wouldn’t have normally had quite as much time to focus on. And one way that we did this was to really curate our home environment because we were spending a lot more time in it than we normally would have been. And we did this in several ways.

We made reading a much more prominent focus in our actual physical environment. So, anyone who visited my home this year probably saw piles of books everywhere. I’ll talk more about this later on. But books are the one line item on our budget that does not have a cap. If kids wanna read a book, I will get it for them. I often myself get books on both Kindle and hard copy. And I’ll explain why later on about that. But I made sure that there were many books both on their Kindles and in our home, and there were constantly things to read. So when we had to spend more time at home, there was always kind of mental stimulation easily available. And it led to a lot more reading for all of us. And I think my kids, some of them really got into fiction. One of my sons read, according to his Kindle tracking, about 4,000 pages in this last month alone of fiction series that he’s enjoying. I’ve definitely focused more on business and physics was a fun topic for me this year and health books. But we’ve all read different things, but making the ability to read and learn a prominent focus.

We also tried to curate our home environment to fit our life in other ways as well. Things like integrating art and fitness into our home as those things have changed. Our local art classes got canceled, gymnastics classes got canceled. So, I sort of turned our house into an exploratory studio for all of the things that we love. And that’s things like, we have a gymnastics mat now down our hallway. It’s like a 25-foot gymnastics mat, I think. And the kids don’t ever walk down the hallway. They either bounce, or handstand walk, or cartwheel, or handspring. Whatever it is they’re doing, they do it down the hallway. That little change has led to so much extra movement for them. And it’s been amazing to see how much their balance and their handstand ability has improved, just from that. Other things like we put a climbing hangboard across one of the archways in our house, so that anytime we walk through that door, we can all just hang for a second, which past podcast guest, Aaron Alexander, said is a great thing to do every single day, even for just three minutes. It’s really helpful for your back and shoulders. In fact, I believe he quoted a doctor of some sort who said that just hanging for three minutes a day cumulatively, doesn’t even have to be uninterrupted, can get rid of most shoulder problems. We also have things like gymnastics rings now hanging from the ceiling in all of their bedrooms. There’s a handstand stool in our living room, a trampoline in the backyard, and a slackline. Just anything we could put that really lead to movement because I’m a firm believer that we’re happier as humans when we move, not exercise, which has been one of my lessons of this year. And so trying to put things in our way to make that easy and fun, versus it being a thing that we had to add to our to-do list. Same thing with art supplies, having just little boxes or cups of drawing supplies, or ink pens, or whatever it may be, and notebooks throughout the house. So as kids are sitting, they can just draw and sketch. And realizing since I’ve had so much more time to be present with my kids this year, that they listen to some of what I say, but they often emulate much more of what I do. So when I make the time to sit down and draw, I often end up with anywhere from three to six of the kids sitting around me, which is a great time for conversation. And since we’re all focused on an activity and not directly, like, making eye contact, I find they tend to open up more in those kind of activities. They’ve also used this year as a chance to get me out of my comfort zone in some of these areas and on board with the things they like, whether it’s things like learning to ride a hoverboard or trying to do handstands, which they’re all still much better at than I am but I can finally at least do. So it’s been a fun year of family bonding that way.

In the same way, we have really doubled down on education this year. But I think a lot of you may have heard me talk about our alternative approach to education. And I use this year as a time to really hone and improve that as much as possible. We’ve always homeschooled but I know many families are homeschooling or virtual schooling for the first time this year. And I know all of the work that goes into that. And my hat’s off completely to all of you moms and dads who are navigating that for the first time this year. I mentioned before that I had designed a curriculum when my oldest was starting school with the idea of going back to the first principles and really breaking down what kids need to be successful in life, and then building from there. Because I really firmly believe that the old script of go to school and get good grades and you’ll be successful in life is not only outdated, it’s just blatantly not true anymore. And so I had been building this into a curriculum with the idea that maybe one day when my kids were all grown, I would turn it into an actual curriculum for other families, thinking that it would be a long time before virtual learning was widely accepted. And one of the silver linings of this year is that timeline has now sped up. I’ve heard it said that, in many ways, this year brought 2030 to 2020. And we saw some massive technological advances and changes that would have taken years and years in other circumstances in society. So for all the things that it might not have been, this year has been great for that. So I built the system based on minimizing book time, maximizing effective learning, and maintaining creativity because I really believe kids are born with that. And that’s what I’ve been using with my kids. And I’m putting the finishing touches on being able to share that with you guys. And we’ll have more information about that in the New Year. But that’s something I spent a lot of my time in 2020 really working on.

On a personal level, pole vaulting has also been a theme of this year for me, and not one that I would have really ever expected. It is something my kids got into somewhat by accident because it was an easy activity that happened to be very close to our house. And they all really loved it and took to it, and still really love it. And I, as a byproduct, ended up getting into it as well. And what’s really fun about it is there’s so many metaphors for life that we’ve been able to talk through about hard work and not seeing the change for a really long time, and putting in the effort on the fundamentals, learning the models, learning the basics, going back to first principles, and then seeing those pay off. It’s also been really special to see now that I have teenagers, them focusing on their bodies as this incredible tool and machine that can do these amazing things. And not as much the focus on how they look or they don’t look, which I wish in hindsight that I had had at those ages. And it’s also had that effect on me, which was unexpected. So, I had for a long time, I’ve talked about this some, had fitness as a goal, mainly for the aesthetic. Of course, I wanted the health benefits as well. But it was to look a certain way, not to be able to do a certain thing. And for me, this year, I changed that in my mindset and started actually viewing it as training with actual goals that I was working toward. And it totally revolutionized how I saw my own body, and how I thought of myself, and what I thought was possible. So many things I thought that I could not do or that I had a script in my head that I just couldn’t do or I wasn’t an athlete, I was able to accomplish this year. And it really has been an incredible ride for me and really highlights our family motto that we were made to do hard things. And it’s been really incredible to get to do that alongside my kids. Full disclosure, I still cannot pole vault as high as my seven-year-old can but I love that they have all taken to it so well, and I love that they challenge me every single day.

I also am a big fan of trying to work in, ideally once a month, but at least a few times a year, things that are outside of a comfort zone or that are big challenges. And one of the fun ones this year that you might have seen me talk about was our Lego walking world record, where as a group of moms, we covered a couple of miles on Legos in the span of an hour. And this was really to illustrate… I’ve always believed that moms are the most powerful force for good on the planet. And I jokingly say that we’ve been training for this our whole lives, those of us who have kids who have Legos. And I thought this would be a kind of fun way to illustrate the idea that we were made to do hard things and also to really bring that focus to just how incredible all of you moms are. And it was a fun, albeit a little bit tougher than we expected, challenge that we all did and a really fun one. And I’ll put that blog post in the show notes if you wanna read it.

For me, there were also small victories. So in line with the idea of pole vaulting, I used to be afraid to get upside down. Like, even in a handstand, I didn’t like to even, like, lean over a bar and hang upside down by my hips. After having kids, my vestibular system seemed to have changed. And I really struggled with being upside down. And that was another one I was able to conquer this year, which seems like a small victory, I would think to a lot of people. But for me, that really was a big one that opened up a whole lot of new activities that I can do. I also have talked about my internal journey this past year and the past couple of years. I shared, I believe it was Episode 309 of this podcast, about my history with trauma, and how I worked through that, and also how that led to pretty massive weight loss. And I’ll put links to both of those in the show notes as well. But that was very much a big theme for me this year and what I’m really, really grateful to have had the time to really focus on.

A theme every year, but especially in 2020, and a highlight for me has been the idea of community. And I’ve talked about this so many times on the podcast, about how I think community is one of the most important things we can do for our health, having strong community and relationships with people in real life, not just online. I think this year, in many ways, made that a lot harder but it also highlighted just how important it is. And so, that’s one of my words for the year for 2021 is once again community and one that I am going to be talking a lot about here and trying to really provide resources for because I think this is vastly, vastly important for mental health. And I think it’s gonna become even more so. I think many of us are seeing the negative effects of isolation for so long. And I think we need to be really intentional going forward about building community locally because it’s not a thing that happens inadvertently anymore. It is something we have to be intentional about. And so this will be very much a focus for me going forward, both in supporting you all in doing that in your local areas and also in my own area, continuing to build a community. We’ve actually been working on building a community focused on entrepreneurs and health and wellness in our own area. And so that’ll be a focus for me locally as well.

I mentioned that fitness was also a focus 2020. And until this year, it was a thing I always did because I felt like I needed to do it for health. And 2020 was the year that it became fun and that I finally understood why people love to work out. I started finally applying things that I did in every area of my life, like the idea of 80/20 and creating systems that are repeatable, to fitness. And I did a lot of short experiments this year related to this, including one I’m still continually doing and in the middle of right now, of training alongside some local athletes who are in training for the Olympics, and learning from them, and following their system without questioning it. And it’s been incredible to see the changes in my own strength and in my body from doing that, and also my own ability, how much more comfortable I feel in my body, and how much more able I feel to do things, which seems to be increasingly important as my kids get older and can all jump higher and run faster than me. I’m gonna be able to keep up with them and now I have to actually train for that. So, more on this in a minute, but I have a specific resource related to this that I’ve been helping work on that I will have for you guys soon.

And I realized also I never had closed the loop on this one. I mentioned on Instagram, that I had done one of the more, I think I worded it the most difficult thing I had done in the name of health, and I never circled back and explained what it was. But look for a podcast on this soon. It’s a thing called Kambo, spelled K-A-M-B-O, which I had the opportunity to do somewhat unexpectedly this year and that had some pretty profound impacts on me. The short version is that it is a safe and legal in all 50 states way that they put frog venom into your lymphatic system through the skin. And it leads to a very rapid lymphatic detox and some other benefits as well. There’s a lot of peptides present in the frog venom, and they have a very dramatic impact on the body, including short-term vomiting. But a lot of stuff beyond that. So, I’m gonna interview the practitioner who does Kambo, and who I did that with, for a lot more information. I know that’s a pretty extreme one to just throw out there at high level. But I wanted to at least mention it in a little more detail since I had said that on social media and then never circled back. But that was probably the most extreme thing I tried in the name of health this year. And I will be explaining more about that soon.

In this podcast every year, I also love to talk through some of the things I’m loving and that I feel like are health trends, including some that I think are gonna continue going forward. This year, still topping my list is the sauna. I did a month-long sauna experiment in the middle of COVID with several other people in our community, where I did lab tests before and after, and tried to really test some of the ideas in these studies and meta-analyses about sauna use to see what kind of effect we would see. And it was really profound that even in the span of 30 days, we saw changes that were measurable in our lab measurements from doing what was considered the clinical dose, which was anything over 20 minutes at 170 plus degrees at least 5 days a week. So, we did that. I’ve written about this some. And that’s very much still part of my routine. I recently also found a sauna called Creatrix Solutions, which I will link to in the show notes with an affiliate link so you guys can find that directly. But it’s a much less expensive near infrared sauna. And the advantage there is it heats up very quickly. It doesn’t take up as much room or require its own dedicated power supply or special wiring. And penetrates the body, so it heats up very quickly, heats up the body very quickly, and it’s an easy to assemble outer cover that is both EMF tested and tested for all kinds of toxins. So it’s probably the safest one I have found. It also happens to be the least expensive one I found. So I will link to that in the show notes if you guys are interested. I think that’s a really good option for a lot of people who have been unable to really try sauna before because of budgetary constraints.

In line with the sauna use, I have also consumed a whole lot of LMNT this year. And that’s L-M-N-T, not element written out, which is an electrolyte drink. And one of the trends I think we’re gonna see more and more in health and wellness is this focus on electrolytes and mineral replenishment. For a long time, I think salt was wrongfully vilified. And I think we’re seeing the research to change that now. People are still hesitant or don’t really know how to reverse that. And I think LNMT is a great practical product for doing that. And I also find it very important after sauna use. I’ll put a link to that in the show notes as well. But it’s basically an electrolyte packet that you can add to water and it’s sugar-free, dye-free, all-natural, and I noticed a really big difference when I consume that regularly.

Another trend for me right now, personally, I’m in the recipe testing phase for the blog for next year, and I’m mildly obsessed with Korean food. I offer a lot of Korean food in the New Year, including some really easy one-pan meals that are budget-friendly and that are really, really flavorful that you can make really quickly at home.

Another trend I’m seeing and I’m gonna share more about soon is, when it comes to organization and productivity, using systems and apps. And one that I’m using a lot right now is called Notion. I’ll make sure that’s linked in the show notes as well. But I use it for tracking things like my MITs, which are my most important tasks for each day, my long-term systems and goals, any projects that I’m working on. I just did a podcast that will air soon about how to use Notion, specifically as a mom, for all of the things that we have to keep up with. And I’ll share some of the ways that I do it as well. But I found that a really, really helpful tool.

I have been doing a lot of research as well in the area of genetics. And I’ve talked about this on several podcasts but I wanted to put more detail here. And we’ll put more notes on this in the show notes. But I recommend Nutrition Genome for genetic testing. If you haven’t done it, I’ll put that link in the show notes. But they give you an extremely comprehensive report of all the nutrition lifestyle factors related to your specific genes. And I have found some really helpful information in there that really helped my health, an example being I have a lot of genes that depend on choline. And I need more choline than the average person. But also, due to just some IgG factors, I can’t eat eggs very easily. I can sometimes eat duck eggs, but I can’t eat chicken eggs. And so, I have a hard time getting dietary choline. Just adding a couple supplements of choline drastically changed my energy levels and how I felt. So some small tips from that really had a dramatic impact on my life.

I’ve big been a big fan this year, I think this will be a continuing health trend, the ability to use data and quantify ourselves to figure out what’s gonna work best for us. I’ve talked a lot about personalization and individualization when it comes to health, and about how at the end of the day, we are each our own primary healthcare provider. And I think we finally are starting to see all of the tools that are gonna make this extremely easy, and inexpensive, and within grasp. So, Nutrition Genome has been a big one on that on quantifying for me, so has a device called Levels, which is a continuous glucose monitor. And I’ll link to that in the show notes as well. But it’s a monitor you wear for two weeks on the back of your arm, and it lets you see your glucose response to everything you eat and to things like exercise, and stress, and sleep. And that was really, really helpful for me, even just wearing it for a couple of weeks of dialing in what foods my body likes and didn’t like. And I’ll make sure I link to the post about how I use that as well. But that was a really helpful quantification tool for me.

On a product level, I think things that are going to continue as trends and that I’m personally loving are olive oil. I’m gonna shout out to my friend Tony Kasandrinos’ company, Kasandrinos Olive Oil. They are by far my favorite. They have some amazing discounts, especially if you subscribe, which I do, and I’ll put that link in the show notes as well. But I think olive oil is one of the few foods that almost all of the dietary philosophies agree on. And I found personally that I do better with less saturated fat. And so I’ve been focusing more heavily on olive oil, and I’ve largely removed things like butter and coconut oil completely. And I feel really, really good when I do that. Also, when I’m not getting enough calories, and I need to keep up with my workouts, I will add extra olive oil for the healthy fats and feel really good from doing that. So I’ll put the link for the discount there. I think olive oil is always been popular with the idea of the Mediterranean diet. And I see very few sources that claim that olive oil is not healthy, but I think this is one that most philosophies agree on and I think we’re going to see increasing awareness about it.

Another company I love that I’ll share a discount for is called Just Thrive. And they have two particular supplements. They have a lot but the two that I take almost all the time are their spore-based probiotics and their K2-7. And these are ones that I also give to my kids. Their probiotics are unique because they’re shelf-stable and heat stable. So you can actually add them to smoothies, baked goods even. I put them in muffins or pancakes so I can get them to my little kids. And the idea being if you have to refrigerate your probiotics, they’re probably not gonna survive your stomach acid or your body temperature. And I actually feel a difference in my digestion from their probiotics. And I have talked to several people and including some personal friends who saw really dramatic improvements in their gut health from those particular probiotics. They also have one called K2-7, which is a fat-soluble vitamin and one that I take daily and had been giving my big kids. And I noticed a lot of benefit from that one as well. So, I’ll link to both of those in the show notes.

Another trend for me that I’ve been turning to a lot, a friend of ours or our friends actually, Chas and Autumn, they own a company called Paleovalley, and they have naturally fermented beef sticks that because they’re naturally fermented are also a source of probiotics. And they’re a great source of quick protein. I’ve talked a lot about the importance of protein and how adding more protein was a key for me in improving my health. And their beef sticks are a go-to, for me, for sure. They have a discount as well. So I wanted to round up some of these discounts and include them for you guys in the show notes so you can find them. And so those will all be at wellnessmama.fm.

Another trend I think we’re gonna continue to see more about is nootropics or things that really support focus and concentration. I’ve been experimenting with a lot of these this year. And the ones I like right now are ALA or Alpha-lipoic acid, Huperzine-A, Alpha GPC, Rhodiola, Paleovalley Neuro Peak, and a few others depending on the day. And I don’t take these every day. As I mentioned, I don’t take anything every day but I tend to stack those, especially on days when I need to work and really notice clean, focus, and don’t fatigue or get tired when I’m on those. And I think we’re gonna continue to see research and anecdotal evidence about nootropics. Like everything, I think this is an area we each have to experiment because I found that many of the commonly recommended ones made me really jittery. But when I optimize my choline, like I mentioned before, and experimented with some of these specific ones, that I felt really, really good. I’ll put links to those as a starting point. I think it’s very, very individualized but those are some that have been helpful for me.

I also every year set the goal to read at least 50 books. And I did that this year. And I read quite a bit. And I’ll just highlight a few of the ones I would actually recommend from the book list that I read this year. I’ll also post the beginning of my book list for next year in the show notes. So, if any of you guys wanna read alongside with me or if you have any book recommendations, I would love, love, love to hear the books that have been most impactful for you. And it’s a question I often ask on this podcast, what book or number of books have changed your life and why? And I would love to hear your answer to the question. Either message me on social media or reach out in the show notes at wellnessmama.fm, and let me know.

But of the 50 books I read this year, the ones that I found most interesting, thought-provoking, or challenging that I would recommend, not necessarily because I agree entirely with any of them but because they made me think. So, again, I’m not promoting these as I 100% agree with them, just books that led me to think quite a bit. There’s one called “The Holographic Universe.” This was recommended by podcast guest, Shawn Wells. And I thought it was a really thought-provoking look at a whole lot of topics, but especially some ideas about the brain. And I’ll leave it at that. I’m curious if any of you have read it, what your take is. I definitely think that the author made some logical jumps. And I don’t agree with all of it but it did certainly help me have a new perspective on several things.

Another book called “The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future” by Kevin Kelly. If you aren’t familiar with him, he is fascinating and he has a blog that you can read. I’ll link to that in the show notes as well. But I recommend this book as well. He goes through key concepts like screening, accessing, filtering, and basically kind of broad ideas and how they are shaping and affecting our future. I thought this was really thought-provoking, and it changed the way, for instance, I was thinking about redesigning The Wellness Mama blog, just to make it more user-friendly with the way that our brains are now processing information. But it also was really thought-provoking as a parent to think about how our kids have grown up in the last 10 to 15 years and how their brain is gonna be actually different than our brain was as a child, so how I can best interact with them and use that to their advantage.

This is what I reread this year, but I highly recommend, “Poor Charlie’s Almanac.” And I’ve mentioned him before. I mentioned him in my 400th episode recently several times when I talked about my mental models and rules for life, but I’m a big fan of a lot of his work, and “Poor Charlie’s Almanac” has a lot of it in one place. He has ideas, like in any topic, know the other side better than they do. So if you’re gonna have an opinion, know the other side of that opinion better than someone who disagrees with you. Earn the right to have that opinion. He’s also big on things like checklists and systems, which I very much am as well, and things like knowing your circle of competence and staying within it. And he has simple ideas that are very profound, like people are often more successful by simply trying to avoid being stupid than by trying to be really, really intelligent. And for instance, with circle of competence, knowing what you don’t know is more useful than being brilliant. So he takes an alternative approach to a lot of very common things. And I find his writing and his talks very, very thought-provoking.

Another one that was just a fun read for me and for a couple of my kids is “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” It is by and about a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Richard Feynman. And it’s a lot of just funny stories about his life, but it really highlights his way of thinking and how much he thought differently than a lot of us. And I found it really just a fascinating read. And also, I was able to pull some kind of new ways and approaches of thinking through things from that. “The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves” by Matt Ridley, that was a somewhat timely one for this year. And while I didn’t agree with all of his points by any means, I found it just to be really a thought-provoking read and a pretty easy read.

There’s a book called “Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life” by Nassim Taleb, who I hope I’m pronouncing his name right because I’ve only read it, I’ve never heard it out loud. But I’m a fan of every book of his that I have read. And this is what I read this year. And some of the core ideas in this book are things like, actually do things, don’t talk about them. I love his idea of ditching the golden rule, which I’m sure you know, but treating others the way you want them to treat you and instead, what he calls the silver rule, which is do not treat others the way you don’t want them to treat you. I thought that was a really interesting reframe because when you take into account individuality and love languages, often the way we wanna be treated is not the way that others need or want to be treated. But if we avoid treating others the way we would not wanna be treated, there seems to be more universality in the negative than in the positive. So if we can just avoid doing things that, like, are harmful or negative toward other people, that’ll often get us a lot farther than trying to anticipate and figure out how they wanna be treated, which is likely often not the way that we wanna be treated. He also has a book, I didn’t read it this year, but called “Fooled by Randomness,” which has some good points as well. I like all of his work. “Fooled by Randomness” talks about things like how life isn’t fair, which makes the rewards of continued effort disproportionately big. And this is a concept that my kids hear me lecture about whenever they complain that life is not fair. And it’s a good from the philosophy of being a mom. And he also talks about things like, we need our rational emotions to be able to decide, but there are systems for making that work for you versus against you, and then how to know things like how to use randomness to your advantage. So basically, how to use it for good when it’s harmless, but also use stoicism or your own mental energy to deflect it or not give in to it when it’s harmful. So, kind of books across the spectrum there. Would love to hear any book recommendations, like I said, that you guys have. Those were some of my favorites for the year. And I can link to some more that I read in the show notes in case you guys are interested.

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I’m looking forward to 2021. So I’ve mentioned before, I don’t make resolutions and I don’t even focus entirely on goals anymore just because those are very…I feel like resolutions are very black and white, and lead to that mindset of if you deviate or break from it once, it makes it easier to just give up altogether. And I found, at least for me, that I am much more motivated by experiments and systems than by goals and resolutions. So that’s what I focus on.

Some of the trends of that that I’m focusing on this year. So, one common one for me is to continually question and evaluate everything I think I believe, in line with Charlie Munger’s idea of earning the right to have an opinion. So I’ve made my list of those things for this year. It seems to in some ways get shorter every year, but more refined. And I’ll link to the actual list of things I believe to be true in the show notes because I mentioned that this is almost like a spreadsheet. And it’s something I systematically go through every year and challenge myself on purpose with the idea that if I’m already correct and I challenge myself, I’ve only actually learned the other person’s…or the other side better, which hopefully gives me more empathy and understanding for that side. And if I was wrong, hopefully I figure that out. So I will link to my list there. But that’s one of my recurring experiments is to challenge myself on things that am relatively certain I believe to be true.

The reason I focus on systems for the rest of these, instead of goals or resolutions, is kind of an idea from Scott Adams, who is the illustrator-writer of “Dilbert.” And he said, “Set up systems and not goals.” And I would add experiments just because those are fun. But basically, I just kind of use that reframe. So, as I’m looking forward to the New Year, on all these different levels, instead of just setting a goal of I want to do whatever this one tangible thing is, setting up systems that are repeatable, that will eventually still lead to that same result but then the focus is on the system, not the goal, which is a much more positive feedback loop because a system is repeatable, and often a daily action, versus a goal being a thing that happens only once.

One thing I think is important to note here, before you can set up these experiments or systems, you have to define where you’re going. I found that for me for a long time, and I think maybe for some other people as well, we don’t even have a clear definition of what happiness is, or success, or love. And so, I think an important starting point is to define what those things are, these things that we wanna strive for, and then define what they actually look like. Some people have done this very succinctly. Naval Ravikant, I believe his says, “A fit body, a calm mind, and a happy home.” And that’s his idea of happiness and success. I think it’s a little different for all of us, but having a clear, concise idea like that makes it much more attainable. And then we can build systems and habits around them. This also I feel like helps us to be much more content and grateful in the moment versus striving toward, “I’ll be happy when…….” which I mentioned before, I think is a trap of the mind and often very much not true. Naval Ravikant explains his as “Desire’s a contract we make with ourselves to be unhappy until a certain time.” So I find that having tangible, attainable definitions, and then systems to get there helps guard against those.

So, all that said, some of my experiments and systems for this year. On The Wellness Mama side, I am going to finally be facing on my own insecurity about being on video and creating more videos for Wellness Mama that will be on social media and also available on the website. I’ve always preferred to write and tended more toward the written word but I’ve realized that many people prefer to learn via video. And I had largely been avoiding this, I think because of my own insecurity and not wanting to be on camera or see myself on camera. But in facing a lot of my past trauma and doing the inner work, that’s not a thing I’m as insecure about now. And so I’m excited to actually delve in and get to convert some of the content that I’ve been making for the last 14 years into video. And this, I will talk about more in a minute, but also will relate to the curriculum that I’m doing. And I’ll be teaching a lot of the modules of that via video.

Another common theme for me and is gonna be the same in 2021 is to do experiments that are out of my comfort zone. So, within the last 12 months, I have done things like karaoke, like taking voice lessons, like learning to be upside down. One of the ones I’m going to be doing in 2021 and that you’ll hear more about soon is stand-up comedy, which is, in a lot of ways, one of the more scary things I can imagine because I don’t consider myself naturally funny. But I have found that moms, in general, we have many aspects of our daily life that lead in naturally to comedy or that are comedic in and of themselves. So, I’ve been working with someone to learn this and I’m gonna be…there’ll be a public-facing way in which I get to confront this fear. I’ll put it that way. And I’ll let you guys know what it is. So you can watch along and hopefully be entertained, or if not, at least heckle me.

I am excited to announce that sometime in the next year I hope to release my new book. The working title is “Zen & the Art of Dirty Dishes,” which if you’re familiar, it’s a play on the idea of Zen and the Art of motorcycle maintenance, which is a book I enjoyed a long time ago. But it’s specifically for moms and for having systems, reoccurring theme for me, I guess, that cut through the chaos of daily life so that we can be more effective, but less stressed. And I hope to have more details for you guys about that soon when I’m actually done writing the book and it’s just in the process of getting it to you. So, more to come soon.

I mentioned earlier in this episode the idea of the curriculum I’m using with my kids. And like I said, it wasn’t something I planned to do for another decade. But then when virtual education became so much more prominent this year, I’ve been scrambling to get it in digital format. And I hope to release that to you guys in January. So, keep an eye out. If you’re not on my email list, you can sign up for it at wellnessmama.com to find out when that’s gonna release. But the curriculum is called Unstitute. And the idea is that it turns traditional education on its head. So rather than being focused on just book work and time, and kids, like, from a knowledge perspective, it is a skills up 80/20 highly effective, not even just efficient, but effective way to learn, that also makes the teaching part so much easier. So I walk you through building a framework for the basics that kids actually need to know, letting go of the things they don’t need to know, and then building an environment that leads itself to creativity and critical thinking in areas that they are interested in. And as a positive of this, a really positive byproduct is it takes much less hands-on time, and kids are happier, parents are happier, and there’s more time for downtime or for whatever your family wants to do.

I’ve also been working with the Olympians I’m training with on a fitness program that I hope to have to you in January as well. This is what’s helped me personally improve my own fitness drastically this year, to the tune of almost doubling how strong I was on most lifts, and getting much, much, much faster. But on a practical level, that also led to going down several sizes and having muscle definition for the first time. And the beauty of it is it’s focused on what’s, again, efficient and effective, not just taking time. So it’s nothing at all to do with spending an hour at the gym. It’s a short, intense, but doable program that has results quickly. So, keep an eye out for more information about that. But that’s one of my goals for 2021 because I feel like so much of the information for a lot of years that I was seeing about fitness, especially for women, was not helpful or just flat out wrong. And when you apply the ideas of things like 80/20 and minimum effective dose, you can get so much more done in so much less time, which is a huge advantage if you’re a mom.

As always, I have a goal of reading again next year. I always try to set a goal of reading 50 books a year. And I’ll put the list of the ones that I have on my list so far in the show notes. I would love recommendations from you guys. And a note about this, I have a philosophy when it comes to reading. Books, in general, are the only unlimited item on our budget every month. And I often will buy a Kindle version and a hard copy. And if I buy the Kindle version, I send it to our whole family on Kindle. Yes, we have a family library, so everybody can read it. And for the kids, they get all the business books and all the health books, even if they may not be interested, that way it’s there if they ever wanna read it. And I often also get a hard copy, just because I like to read hard copy, I like to write in them. And I find I’m more effective when I do that. And I make notes and highlight. And then I’ve mentioned before in my eight rules for life, I use the Feynman technique, which is the idea that when you learn something, if you can explain it to a child concisely in a way they understand, then you’ve actually learned it. And I try to do this on the back cover of any book that I read. So when I read a book, on the back cover, I’ll spend one page writing out, drawing out, or whatever, the key concepts of the book. Then almost always, if the book was good, I pass it on to someone else in my family or a friend, typically to someone who I think it can benefit the most, and hope that, like, my notes and the Feynman technique will help them have better recall, and help them read it as well. And then if I ever wanna read it again, I have the Kindle to read or I’ll buy a hard copy and repeat. But I’m a big fan of passing on books and passing on knowledge. And so that’s what I do with these 50 books. And then I have literal stacks of books, anywhere that I would sit down in my house so I always have a place to read.

Another one of my goals for 2021 is to be less scheduled. I, as you might have guessed, am very system-oriented and very scheduled. And I’m trying to be less so and to be able to be more spontaneous and present, and to minimize work time as much as possible. It’s difficult with as much as I have on my plate right now but that’s one of my goals that I’m working toward or not goals but systems for next year, even if, for now, it requires scheduling being unscheduled.

Another focus for me in 2021 is supporting my kids’ projects. It’s been really fun as they’ve gotten older and through Unstitute and our focus on entrepreneurship, they are emerging with all their own interests in things like business and a whole lot of other things. So I’m trying to be available and present to help them with these things. Several of them are starting their own businesses. We have several of them very interested in chess right now. And so we’re having time to play with them. For the ones interested in art, being able to do art with them, continuing pole vaulting as a family. And I even have a couple who are interested in learning real estate, and so helping them figure out plans and work toward having a real estate portfolio as they get older. But all those things take time, so trying to make sure that I’m present to do those things.

I also always every year try to define some new things that I’m interested in and that I want to gain specific knowledge on. So for last year, I did voice lessons. I did languages in some degree. And then I did a whole lot of research on genetics. For 2021, I’m going to get back to playing piano, again, with systems. So I will have times that I do that and systems that I follow for piano, archery, and also getting back to painting. I wanna paint something for every room in my house. And those will be fun hobbies that are also a break from work for me. And as a family, we’re also working on finishing our culture wall, which I’ve talked about before. But this is a wall in our house that has artwork dedicated to a lot of our family mottos and mantras. And I wanna make sure we get this finished early in the year. But some of the ones you’ve probably heard me say before, you were made to do hard things. Happiness is a choice and a skill. Ask better questions. You can learn something from everyone. A thing I say to my kids all the time, “I love you unconditionally. There’s nothing that you can do that will ever decrease that or increase that.” Freedom is found in complete personal responsibility. Empathetic listening is a superpower. With great responsibility comes great power. You can’t be free without uncertainty. Perfection is achieved, not when there’s nothing more to add but when there’s nothing left to take away, and go to bed a little smarter than when you woke up. We also added this recently from my good friend, Tina Anderson, who owns Just Thrive, the probiotic company, “Everything will work out perfectly for me,” which is her motto and we’ve adopted. And from Richard Feynman, “Genius is explaining complex things in simple ways.” And then also from Naval Ravikant, “All the real benefits of life come from compound interest.” That doesn’t just apply to money, as I mentioned in the 400th episode, that applies even more to skills and relationships.

So, that is a recap of my year in 2020 and what I’m looking forward to again in 2021. And the questions I have for you, and I sincerely would love your input on, whether you wanna respond to an email that I send you or let me know in the show notes at wellnessmama.fm, and for the questions I would love your answers to, what’s the best book you’ve read recently? Would you be interested in doing monthly experiments, and systems, and challenges with me on different topics? If so, let me know yes or no. And also, if you have specific ones that you would be interested in finding out more about. What is the biggest and most exciting thing you are tackling this year? And what things would you most like systems for in your life that I can help with? I would be forever grateful if you guys would answer those questions in the show notes at wellnessmama.fm. And you will find all of the resources I mentioned in the show notes there as well. And I know I say this every time and I mean it every single time, I am so always incredibly grateful to you for spending your most valuable resource, your time with me today. And every time that you join me on this podcast, I don’t take that lightly. That is our most valuable resource, and I’m truly, truly honored that you share yours with me. And I hope that in this next year and in this next episode, you will continue to join me on “The Wellness Mama Podcast.”

If you’re enjoying these interviews, would you please take two minutes to leave a rating or review on iTunes for me? Doing this helps more people to find the podcast, which means even more moms and families could benefit from the information. I really appreciate your time, and thanks as always for listening.