Actor, director and business owner Noel Elie joins us to talk about marketing and branding your business, what it’s like to be an actor in Hollywood, and how to keep an optimistic outlook when going for your goals.
Brene Brown Unlocking Us episode Completing the Stress Cycle
TW: Eating Disorders
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This is Joy & Claire Episode 85: Actor, Director and Business Owner Noel Elie
Episode Date: July 29, 2021
Transcription Completed: August 10, 2021
Audio Length: 54:02 minutes
Joy: Hey guys, this is Joy.
Claire: And this is Claire.
Joy: And this is Joy and Claire. We are so excited this week because we’ve been working with Scout’s Agency, who gives us amazing guests, getting more females on podcasts. This week we have Noel Elie. Thank you so much for joining us today. You’re an actress, CEO of Noel Elie Productions, and we can’t wait to talk about all these things. So, thank you so much for joining us today.
Noel: Yeah, thank you for having me.
Joy: So, where do we begin? Because I’ve been following your work, checking out some of the things that you’re working on, and I listened to an episode recently that you were talking more about the production side and working with people on events, their businesses and marketing and branding. I really want to start off with what interested me the most in terms of something that sat in my brain. I’m like, woah, I need to talk to her about this. When you’re talking with clients, what their vision and their why is. So I want to start with you and your company first and talk about the production company. I really want to get into vanity metrics because that really struck me and I want to get into it a little bit. So let’s pause for a moment, and I want you to introduce your production company and what you do.
Noel: Well, thank you. I’m glad to be here. I am an actress and director, and I also am CEO of a production and PR company called Noel Elie Productions. I started it, God… unofficially probably almost a decade ago, but officially maybe six years ago, seven years ago? I realized I had this skillset. So, I was the typical struggling artist waiting tables and nannying and doing the thing. A woman approached me and was like, “Oh my God, you have to come work for me. You have to produce my events.” I went home that night and Googled “how do you produce an event.” One thing led to another and I realized I had this skillset. There was a need, especially in the empowerment space and thought leader space, for people who knew what they were doing to product events in New York City and LA, so I started producing events.
Joy: Interrupting you real quick. Was the woman who told you that – was that really Gabrielle Bernstein?
Noel: Yeah, yeah.
Joy: Is that the first person… she’s huge. I’ve probably been following her career for, no joke, like 15 years. She’s really kind of made a rise in the past 5-8 years, but I remember when she was just starting out. You’ve also worked with Kris Carr, and I was like, oh my gosh. I’ve probably since 2006 I’ve been following her career too. I’m like, that is so cool. So really awesome that Gabrielle Bernstein is the one that told you to start a production company.
Noel: She was like, “You have to come work for me.” That was her goal. And so I did. It’s funny because I had met Gabby at an event where she was setting up her own chairs. She was doing something with Sean Stephenson at the LGBTQ center, and she was literally setting up her own chairs and charging I think $20 a head to come hear them speak. I left that event and I called my best friend and I said, “I think Gabby and I are going to work together.” I don’t know where that came from, but I just had this intuitive hint. She was like, “Yeah, that makes sense to me.” Fast forward a couple months, I was working Mercedes-Benz fashion week and Gabby saw me thing my thing and was like, “You have to come work for me,” so I did. I learned so much from working with her. Produced her radio show for Hay House, all of her events, travel. We traveled to Brazil together and all over. At each event that I would produce, I would have other people come up to me and say, “Will you come produce my event?” So, everything just started flowing very organically. I got very, very busy and realized after many years of working with Gabby, okay, I could have a lucrative living. I don’t have to still wait tables and nanny and produce events on the side. I can have my own events company and then audition and then work on set. So that’s what I did, and from there it kind of morphed into PR. I’m a natural connector. I love connecting people. People I love, I want to share with everyone. So a client and I were at dinner, and she’s telling me that she wanted to connect with someone at the New York Times. I was like, “Oh, my friend is the manager there. Here, let me connect you.” And by the end of the dinner, she said, “Noel, you just did more for me in the last hour than my publicist did in six months, and I pay her ten grand a month.” I was like, wait a second. Oh.
Joy: I will take that money please.
Noel: Please, thank you, I love it. And then from there, that’s just how it morphed into this production PR company. And then from there, I was getting influencer clients and I would pay attention to what they did and start applying it to myself, and then I started to grow. And then clients were like, “Can you do for me what you did for you?” I always say all roads lead to Rome. It’s so true. That’s kind of been a glimpse into what the last decade has been.
Joy: That is really cool. What types of clients do you look for or do you work with specifically, or is it kind of whoever comes to you.
Noel: It really depends. Usually there has to be some sort of – I shouldn’t say “has to be,” but what I tend to attract is like-minded, mindful entrepreneurs and brands that have some sort of give back initiative. So, like you said, it was Gabby Bernstein, Chris Karr, Deepak Chopra, Kimberly Snyder, and just people in the empowerment space. And then organic, healthy brands like HyperWhy. Just really healthy brands that are making a positive impact or footprint on this earth. That tends to be a lot of authors and new authors. Or speakers who want to expand their brand but they have no idea how to do so.
Joy: That is the background of what I was listening to this morning. When you were talking about the why and vanity metrics, can you talk a little bit more about that? The reason it hit me was, especially with this podcast that we’ve been doing for eight years now, we get in this space of how do we grow, but we don’t want to sell out because growing is selling out. And more followers – we only have such-and-such followers. We aren’t really growing. And when you said vanity metrics, I was like, why would we need more followers? Is the number guiding us, or is it something that’s truly meaningful that we have a really awesome audience, which we do. That made me really think, what is the whole purpose behind why we would want to do what we do?
Noel: Yeah, so that’s one of the things I always sit down with clients and I ask them their why, right? I’ve had so many clients in the past where they’re like, “I just want to make a difference. I want to impact a thousand souls or ten thousand” or whatever, but then you find out they actually just want to be a celebrity, which is fine. That’s okay. But we’ve got to get clear and cut through the B.S. Let’s just get really honest. If you want to be a celebrity, that’s okay. But let’s dig a little bit deeper and peel back the layers as to why. Is it just because you were never heard growing up and you want to be heard now? That’s okay. That’s a lot of us, right? That’s fine. But also, is it because you genuinely want to impact people? Let’s sprinkle that in there. I think it’s just really important to get very raw and honest. When I have clients that aren’t honest with themselves, I know that they can still grow. They can still make an impact, but it’s going to be a little bit trickier. It’s almost like doing a little bit of life coaching. You know what I mean?
Joy: For sure.
Noel: Yeah. And then too, same thing with the metrics. There’s so many people who are like, I want to get to 100,000 followers or 1 million followers. Again, that’s great, but why? And then also, making it very clear that it’s about quality, not quantity. So for me for example, I started applying this formula to myself and started to grow, but years ago I was posting more modeling, hot girl summer pictures, and the quality of followers that I was attracting were a lot of men and a specific type of person. Which is okay, but then when my mom passed away in 2016, I was showing the snot nosed, crying, grief stuff and then losing followers. At first, I took it really personal and made it about what’s wrong with me, instead of, you know what, this is really cool. Those people no longer resonate with me. We’re not operating on the same frequency. Let me start attracting my tribe. Let me start attracting the people that speak my language. Because I don’t know if you guys have had this experience or any of the listeners, but there’s been times I posted something that has been a really proud moment, and I have felt energy of people who have maybe seen the story. It’s not a good energy. You know what I’m talking about? Instead, I’d rather those people that maybe aren’t in alignment anymore, I’d rather them drop off so that I can then really feel the support of people following me and get equally excited for me.
Noel: Does that makes sense?
Joy: That makes total sense. I mean, a perfect example for Claire and I is during the election. During this last election, we started talking a lot about the social justice things that we were passionate about, that really, truly we can’t ignore it because that’s just, hello, your privilege is showing. So we were very vocal about a lot of things, which turned into, “This is just now a political podcast,” and we lost a lot of followers. To me, I’m like, great. That’s not the energy I want to align with because I want to speak up for things that matter. If that means people are going to get offended or think that we’re preachy, so be it because staying silent is not an option. So that’s something we really experienced in that realm.
Claire: How long did it take you to get to the place where you really honestly had that reaction of, “this is fine, those guys can leave,” and didn’t have that feeling of, “but my numbers.”
Joy: It’s still going on. It’s a daily thing. It wasn’t a, let me work on it for a couple months and build my self-worth. No. I still struggle with it. There was a situation that happened with a friend who I think last year she unfollowed me. And I just reached out. I was like, “Hey, I created a story in my head and I wanted to reach out. Are we cool?” And the response I got was, “Oh my God, I love you. No, it was an accident. It must have been my social media manager,” and she never followed me back. And I was like, so this is interesting. I felt all the feels and created all the stories. And then I was like, no. You know what, I cleaned up my friend street. And either I trigger her and sometimes she triggers me or whatever it is, it’s okay. Bless, and move on. But it affected me. So sometimes it does hurt, for sure. But then I’ll have a moment where it can just be one follower that says, “Hey Noel, thank you so much for sharing this thing. I’m going through something similar.” And it’s that one person where I’m like, you know what, if I affected her in such a beautiful way and this person who I thought was a friend no longer resonates, just bless. Bless. You know.
Joy: Yeah. I think that, back to what you were talking about with metrics, is when we’re building a brand or marketing – it can be really a very small business – is that we tend to miss the audience we have. I can’t remember who we were talking about this recently or in the last couple months. We had a guest on – Claire, I can’t remember who it was.
Claire: Oh, I can see her in my brain.
Joy: Yeah, it’s driving me crazy. But it’s like you’re missing the metrics you have by trying to think about how many you want. And you’re completely ignoring the great audience that you have.
Joy: That is something that you mentioned on this other episode. Can you talk a little bit more about what that means and how you can really – for us, it’s not so much about making money, but it is about engagement and keeping the podcast going. Engaging with 2,000 could be the same as a million. It just depends on your engagement.
Claire: Sorry, really quickly. It was Aisha Beau Johnson who said that.
Noel: It’s so smart, and I agree with that 100%. Because a lot of brands nowadays too – it’s like, I’m working with a brand. They want to do influencer outreach. I say to them, let’s get the data. Let’s see what their analytics are. Because you can have 500,000 followers, but if only 1,000 people are seeing your stories or 50 people are engaging in your photos. Not saying it’s not really, but something is off there. So it’s really, again, about quality. Look, when it comes to social media in particular, or really anything, we love to receive love. That’s what I always say. I have a friend who’s a very, very big influencer who will once in a while pop out and be like, “Hey, can you comment on my post?” And while I’m always happy to, there comes a time where it needs to be reciprocated. Otherwise, resentment starts to grow.
Joy: And is commenting on their post give them more views?
Joy: So when people comment, it just boosts the viewability.
Noel: The algorithm, yeah. There’s a lot of different theories around it. But one of the things people can do – this is more of a tip with social media, but if you’re going to post, maybe 15 minutes before you post, really go through your followers and like and comment from a genuine place. It’s one thing to put an emoji, and it’s another thing to put, “Hey Crystal, I so resonate with this post. Thank you so much for sharing. Who knew that we both” or whatever. You know what I mean? So it’s really putting out genuine engagement, in the hopes that maybe it will be reciprocated. And if it’s not, it’s okay. But people pay attention to that.
Joy: Yeah, and it’s a reminder that what you put out is what you receive. And not that you’re doing it just for that reason. I get that. But you’re just like, I need to remind myself that I’m not just trying to absorb all this energy and get people to look at me.
Noel: Exactly. Great, yeah. So there are things that people can do to really take advantage of the audience that they have without receiving all of it. While at the same time, it does help to grow, and it does help to have these new followers. I always think that for the ones that are dropping, may new ones come tenfold, and may they really be in alignment with me and vice versa. So it’s a little bit of a mind fuck at times. I don’t know if I can curse on here.
Joy: Yeah, absolutely. Podcasts are fair game. But it is. Claire and I have talked about this. Claire does a lot of marketing and brand work. You can speak this language way better than I can, Claire, but I think it’s just – also, it feels like the Oz behind the curtain. What is the algorithm? The algorithm seems to change all the time? Why do people not get views anymore? Why does this reel show up and then this reel doesn’t? It feels like if we’re using this as a tool, especially for marketing our podcast, how do we even fight this battle?
Claire: So my day job is in marketing for a natural products B2B business. Yeah Joy, when you were like, “What does commenting do?” I was like, Joy, you’re making us sound dumb. But I’m curious to hear from your perspective of being in the world where – it’s one thing for us on the podcast where this is our passion project. We don’t have to make an income off of this. But being in the world with entrepreneurs who are really in it, like you were saying, a lot of the people you work with are really in it from a place of wanting to change the world, having this extreme passion for their work. And yet, at the same time, you do have to sell yourself a little bit. You do have to commoditize really your own personality in a lot of ways in order to “build that brand.” How do you balance that with having clear boundaries? And how do you coach the people who are your clients to say here’s what is going to be helpful, versus here’s how to maintain your privacy, your autonomy, and a little piece of yourself to not feel like you are just doing nothing but –
Noel: Selling out.
Claire: Selling out, yeah.
Noel: Well, I think it’s a great question, and I think it’s flipping the script from feeling like a sellout to let me expose, let me be vulnerable, let me be truthful, and let me be genuine. One of the things that made Gabby who Gabby is now is she, especially in the beginning, she was very accessible. So there was a time where we were going through a situation. She was getting really heated and getting really angry. And then she turned around and shared the story on stage. It showed that she was human. I think a lot of times, especially with social media and the filters and the this and the that, there’s a feeling that we need to be perfect and we need to have such strategy in our posting and our story. The people right now that I see really growing, my friends and my clients or whoever, are the ones that are very raw dog and showing these really quirky weird fun reels. Reels by the way are so key right now. They’re so hot. But it’s the ones that are showing all sides of them, and then they’re really attracting the people that let their freak flags fly because that’s how they are. I think it’s just coming from the place of, okay, what did I need help on and how did I get help – let me share that with people. Asking yourself, what are the five most common things that my friends will ask me. Or, what’s the advice that they come to me for. And then sharing that on the Gram or on social. That’s what is going to help you come from a place of service versus a place of selling out.
Claire: And for you, personally, when you are building your own brand – I know we’re focusing a lot on your career paths, consultant for PR and for social media and that kind of thing. You, yourself, also being in that forward-facing position, do you have your own coach? Is this something that you just talk yourself through? How do you reality check your own self in those moments?
Noel: I have really great friends. A lot of my friends are like life coaches. I had a therapist for a while. Plant medicine helps me as well. I have different healing modalities for myself, but I do often have to – I don’t know if you guys know Julia Cameron. She wrote The Artist Way. One of the things she talks about is being a shadow artist, which was me. I had to ask myself, and really this past year was a great reality check. I was like, you know what, I’m making all these people around me famous. What am I doing for myself? Because I can pitch anyone all day and all night and sell the shit out of them. But when it comes to myself, I’m like, [nervous sounds]. I have a lot of hesitation around it. So if I can treat myself as my own client, which is not always easy, that tends to be the thing that helps me get out of my own way. Because otherwise I’ll come up with a million and one reasons why I shouldn’t do the thing or I shouldn’t promote the thing, and reasons are just excuses. Like you mentioned, scouts. I have a production and PR company. I could have easily asked my team to pitch me. I couldn’t do it. I had such walls up around it. So I went to another fellow expert and said, hey scout, let’s collab.
Joy: But isn’t that the truth for anything?
Joy: We can preach all day long for other people, but when it comes to ourselves we’re like [nervous sounds].
Joy: It just feels so weird, yeah.
Noel: It feels so weird. And one of the things I learned from Gabby is if it feels weird for her, you would never know it. Because she had no problem asking anybody for anything to help her with her career. So goals right there. But it’s just something that I struggle with for myself.
Joy: Yeah, and even probably the biggest names that you work with still struggle with that stuff. But everybody’s human.
Joy: Everybody has the human bone, and there’s just no way around that. So it’s interesting how we kind of idealize the celebrity culture. Like when people are like, “I want to be a celebrity,” why? There’s so many rabbit trails I could go down with that. But let’s then segue into your job as an actress. An actor and model. How did you get into that field? Where are you now with it? How involved are you in that job right now?
Noel: My parents were evangelists and musicians/singers. They traveled around the east coast singing and performing. I was around that and did church plays and things like that. I started modeling when I was probably 12 and did that growing up through high school and wanted to focus hardcore in that. I looked at film in high school. I remember going to my principal with my mom and dad and telling them, “Listen, we want to bring Noel to Atlanta.” I was living in South Carolina. “There’s more opportunities there. We’ll come back and forth, and we’ll make sure she gets her schoolwork done.” And they said – there was a rule in South Carolina, if you missed five days of school, after that every single miss had to be with a doctor’s note. So it made it impossible for me to work on set or to model. So my parents said, “What about Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake?” They were really big at the time. “What about them? They missed school and still got to make it up.” And they said, “Well, that’s Britney Spears. They’re huge. They’re celebrities.” And we were like, they had to get there. It didn’t just happen. That was a really interesting time because my passion for it was when I was young, but I wasn’t really able to go full-fledged into it. So when I was 18, two days after I graduated, I moved to New York and began modeling full time. Did that for many years. It became an unhealthy thing. I developed an eating disorder. It just wasn’t a good situation. And I took an acting class. In the acting class, I was like, oh this is really my passion. I had done some commercials and things, but this is it. So then I trained for many years. From there, one thing led to another and I had a recurring role on Blue Bloods with Tom Selleck and was on Shades of Blue with Ray Liotta and Jennifer Lopez. I did the reboot of CW’s Dynasty and a bunch of other stuff. I moved to LA because I kept coming out here for work and had been directing and acting, and then I got sick. So I am at a stage right now where I am healing, but everything has kind of been paused. I have some friends in the business and different directors who have asked me to work on different projects where I’ve had to actually turn down, which is very hard and I never in a million years thought that I would ever turn down an acting role. But I recognize nothing is more important than my healing right now. One of my limiting beliefs has been, “But what if I’m forgotten about, or what if my time has come and gone?” I just have to remember, a phoenix is rising. I have to trust the process.
Joy: Which is not easy in that field. Going through a career transition and trusting is totally different in the entertainment business because that narrative is so loud. So I imagine that you’re just like, ugh, I have to put this on steroids that that is not true for me, and I will be back and it will be better. Before we get into the health stuff and getting sick, let’s just bring the energy of acting up so you can put that out there too. After you’re healed and great, talk about that, how it plays a role in your life and what that did for you.
Noel: It’s such a beautiful thing. It’s interesting because my husband, he’s also an actor and writer, and we joke about people who aren’t in the entertainment industry don’t always know – if you don’t have a passion project. Like you guys have a podcast and I’m sure these other passions. If you don’t have that in life, it kind of breaks my heart. I have friends and family members where they go to their 9-5’s. Then they take care of their kids, and their life revolves around their kids and they don’t have passions. I’m so grateful that I have found this. I would say acting fills one side of me up in such a beautiful way, and directing fills up the other side. So my hope is through my acting and through my story telling, people can feel through me what they can’t necessarily feel on their own. It’s just a beautiful thing. I get to be all these different characters that are all inside of me, so they’re all different versions of me that I didn’t necessarily recognize when I was younger. But I am the bitch. I am the mom. I am the slut. I am this, you know. I am all of these things, and it’s so beautiful that I get to access them. I feel so lucky and so privileged that I found this. And then also, too, there’s nothing like shifting a room. There’s nothing like going into an audition. Maybe the energy’s bad and the producer’s on his phone and not really paying attention, and then that one audition just shifts the room and now all of the sudden you have their attention. It’s such a cool feeling.
Joy: Yeah, that’s really cool. I know there’s pros and cons with the entertainment world, but what is really glamorous and fun about the entertainment world.
Noel: It’s freaking cool to have your hair and makeup done. You’ll be on set, and there’s a PA there like, “Can I get you something? Can I get you this? Can I get you that?” I’m sort of like, wait, are you talking to me? “I’ll get you whatever you want. Breakfast burrito, whatever…” That’s fun, right? For me, actually one of the main reasons I love doing what I do is they say when you’re inspired, you’re in spirit. I will tell you that – my mom passed away in 2016, and she was my best friend. She passed from Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. It was really sad and tragic and traumatic. But when I’m on set, I feel her the most. It is the coolest, gnarliest, most beautiful thing to get to feel the essence and the spirit of your momma while you’re doing this thing that you love to do. There have been so many different signs and things that have happened. Again, it’s just such a gift to be living in my purpose and then knowing she’s right there with me.
Joy: I just had to take a beat. Had to take a beat. I don’t even want to ask “and then what is something that’s not as fun” – I don’t want to end on that note.
Noel: I’ll tell you this, and I think this goes with any career. For so long, I thought, “when I get this thing,” when it’s finally attainable, then I’ve made it. I was on a show – I won’t say which one. My character, the director wasn’t – so there were major stars, and the director was like whatever the stars wanted, whatever they could do. And then there were some of us who had, I don’t know, maybe ten lines, not that big of a role. And there was a very clear difference in how we were treated, and I realized in that moment after that, okay this is interesting. I always thought that when I had my own trailer, when my name was on the trailer, then I’d “made it” to a certain degree. But I don’t actually like that feeling. I now know that there are certain roles and certain things that I am willing to do, and there are certain things that I am no longer willing to. I am not 21 years old who is willing to take anything. Now I have certain standards and certain boundaries and certain things that I am willing to put up with and certain things that I am not. I don’t know if that helped kind of answer this question.
Joy: Absolutely. Absolutely. I like the point about when you feel like you got such-and-such, you made it. It’s not always the case. Having a negative experience for having a name on a trailer is like, at what cost? Did you have fun doing it? Was it what you thought it would be? And actually your name wasn’t on the trailer with this project, but you had such a good experience. That really fills you up. That’s a really good point. All of us do that.
Claire: And I think in acting or in some of those careers where the haves and have nots are a little bit more delineated, or there are maybe some more obvious milestones that you can identify, but I think that mindset of “I’ll be happy when” is a trap no matter what industry you’re in, no matter what phase of life you’re in, and that we all put ourselves through, thinking once I attain X, Y, Z, that’s when I will have made it. We talk a lot about the difference between really trying to be fulfilled and happy and appreciative of where you are while still having goals for yourself and wanting to improve or wanting to accomplish and holding that tension in how tough that can be. But I think that’s something that everyone listening has probably experienced very deeply in a lot of different areas of their life.
Noel: Absolutely. Also – and I say this, and it kind of makes me want to barf – self-love. It truly comes down to finding the love and the okayness within yourself so that it doesn’t matter what’s happening on the outside. You’re know you’re coming home to home because you love your home and your home is within you. There are so many instances where I feel like that’s the validation I was always seeking and I got it, and then it’s like, oh, grateful, but also –
Joy: Yeah. It’s almost like, don’t ever meet your hero type of thing. Or your idol. Because then you’re like, “Oh, they’re not very nice.”
Noel: Or they’re human.
Joy: Or they’re human, yes. Oh my gosh, they’re people too. Do you think the antidote of that “I’ll be happy when” is to be present?
Noel: Oh yeah, oh yeah. Because if you’re not future tripping, and if you’re not anxious about the past and worrying or whatever. When you’re present, you’re forced to just be in the moment, and a lot of times when you’re in the moment you realize life isn’t that bad. It’s pretty great. You’ve got a lot to be thankful for.
Joy: And we compare a lot. So I feel like that is also a slippery slope that puts us into that “I’ll be happy when.”
Noel: Especially with the Gram.
Joy: Yeah, I was just going to say that because we’re seeing people with beautiful everything on social media that we’re like, “That looks really fun. I wish I had a polished life.” Even though we all kind of know better, we still all fall into that trap of comparison.
Claire: I was going to bring this up a little bit too earlier when you were talking about being real and vulnerable on social media, but then you also have that other component of the curated imperfection where you feel like this person is doing that side-by-side bikini where they’re standing up straight and then they’re bent over. It’s like, “I have rolls too.” We’ve all seen the post now 500 times. It’s like, yeah, yeah, we get it. Everybody’s bodies bend and roll or whatever. Those are the times where I’m kind of like this type of “vulnerability” feels, if anything, less authentic than just kind of being surface level. Don’t give me your curated imperfection, your curated vulnerability. And I also have a hard time sometimes when I see the – so I’m a mom. I have two kids, a 5.5-year-old and a 3.5-year-old, so I follow a lot of mom-fluencers, if that’s what you call them. Sometimes you see the crying in the pantry post, and it’s like, “I wasn’t going to post this, but…” I’m like, you were going to post it. Why did you take a selfie of yourself why you were crying if you weren’t going to – nobody takes selfies of themselves when they are crying.
Noel: Right, right.
Claire: And those just kind of make me crazy, but I think they’re – I don’t know. Because there’s no right answer, and at the same time you see a hundred comments being like, “Thank you so much for posting this. Nobody ever talks about it.” So who am I to judge? But I am going to judge, so sorry.
Noel: Meanwhile they’re in an engagement pod where they’re like, “Hey, I just posted. Will you comment on my thing?”
Claire: They’re like #sponsored. This was my sponsored pantry cry. I was eating Twizzlers.
Joy and Noel: [laughing]
Noel: That’s so true.
Claire: This breakdown brought to you by Snickers.
Joy and Noel: [laughing]
Noel: Swipe up for the link.
Joy: Swipe up. Oh my gosh, that’s so funny. It’s true though. I am so trusting, and I think one of the most disappointing things that I’ve seen is – because I want to believe in good and I want to believe in the good in people, but the thing that really bums me out is when you see a pretty popular influencer just all of the sudden show their colors, or some bad thing comes out that they actually did racist crap or said something really insensitive and whatever, and you’re just like [gasp] so we cannot trust anything on social media. It’s just that reminder. Everything we see is completely made up. We don’t know any of these people.
Noel: No. No. It’s so true. Compare and despair is such a real thing. And everybody – every single person is affected by compare and despair, regardless of how woke anyone seems to be. And if everybody’s riding the struggle bus once in a while, it all comes down to – have you guys ever listened to Armchair Expert?
Joy: Oh yeah.
Noel: Okay. So there was this episode where Kristen Bell was on, and she talked about live being happiness or despair. And I love her, but I remember listening to that at first being like, “Girl.”
Joy: You’re Kristen Bell.
Noel: You’re Kristen Bell. You’re fine. You should be happy. Then she said, “Look, I have these bad days.” And it’s something I talk about all the time now where you make a happiness list, and you write on the list all the things that bring you joy. So I made my list out. I was like, meditating, breath work, doing hot yoga, green juice, playing with babies, playing with puppies, going to the beach, going for walks, whatever. So it’s maybe 20 things. And when you’re feeling like shit and you’re going down the compare and despair rabbit hole, go to that list. And nine times out of ten, you’re not doing anything from that list. So if you can start applying, even if it’s one thing, for a day, and then two things the next day. All of the sudden you’re in this place where your vibe is so high that you’re just attracting all good things and you’re no longer caring about the person who did a fake cry selfie. You know what I mean? You don’t care anymore. So it’s something that I have to constantly remind myself to do. And then also, I have to equally remind myself that there are days when I don’t want to go to my happiness list. I don’t want to meditate. I don’t want to do breath work. I want to sit in my funk and feel like shit and eat my feelings, so it’s allowing that as well.
Joy: Oh yeah, those days have to happen too. I mean, if you want a really good episode around the burnout cycle, the stress cycle, completing the stress cycle. It’s on Brene Brown Unlocking Us podcast. I can link it in the show notes. But it’s a twin sister research couple that they do around burnout and stress. Basically – I’m simplifying it greatly – but it’s all about how emotions need to go somewhere, and they need to complete the cycle. So if you don’t allow yourself to feel the feelings, or if you get stuck in the middle of the tube and you don’t go out the other end, you get just completely drained. So yeah, some days you do need to just sit in it and be like, alright, I’m just going to let myself feel this. I need to let it pass through me. Because yeah, there are some days when I can’t jump from A to Z. I can’t jump from despair to all of the sudden being super happy. That’s just not realistic. But knowing when you’re in it and being like, yeah, I’m lacking in these areas of my life. I’m not practicing my happiness list, or I’m not doing the things that bring me joy, even if it’s very small every day, that that can be a little bit of an antidote before you get to that point.
Joy: So is there anything else that you do in a world that is very competitive and very aesthetics looked. It’s very image-focused. You have to really be beautiful or present well. How do you keep yourself in a healthy mindset with that?
Noel: That’s a great question. One of the things is every morning before I get out of bed, I will do some deep breathing. So like ujjayi, inhale through the nose, outside through the mouth, sigh like an ocean. And I will talk to my body and I will thank her for being healthy and for healing and digesting, my legs for carrying me the last 30+ years, just healing on a cellular level. One of the things that helped me – so I had an eating disorder for ten years. I was bulimic and anorexic, and I would go back and forth. I made a deal with God. I said, okay, I’m going to still allow myself to knowingly binge and purge, but before I do it I’m going to get clear on my why. So I would buy the food or whatever it was and I’d be crying or whatever, and I would recognize what I was feeling. Nine times out of ten, it was fear, lack, not enough, unlovable, “I’m never going to have a career,” “my husband is going to leave me,” whatever it was. It was always fear. And so I would feel it and then I would do the thing, but what started to happen was once I felt the emotion I no longer had the desire to fill the void that was happening in myself. Because instead, I would start filling myself up with good things. So for me, it’s like recognizing when I’m feeling any sort of fear any time of day, peel back the layers as to why. And then awareness is our superpower, so all of the sudden I’m aware. It no longer is having this big effect. I might be butchering this – I think it’s like 60 seconds. When we feel whatever emotion we are feeling, if we really truly feel it, it doesn’t last longer than like 60 seconds, and then it moves into something else. Do you guys know who Marie Forleo is?
Joy: Oh yeah.
Noel: So her main squeeze Josh Pais is an actor and also an acting coach, and he taught me four things, which is breath, see the room, feel the sensations, I’m back. So what that means is, it could be going into an audition. It’s such a – guys talk about a mind fuck. It’s such a crazy thing when you walk into an audition. There’s 30 girls that literally look like you, but only they’re thinner and prettier and younger. It’s so insane. And so let’s say I’m starting to freak out a little bit and I’m walking into the audition, and again, the producer is on his cell phone not paying any attention. I’ve gone into my head. So what do I do? I breath, I become aware of the room. I’m very present. Because I can see that the producer is wearing a blue shirt and that he’s on his iPhone or android or whatever it is. I see the room. I go into my body. Where is the sensation happening the loudest. Okay cool. It’s like a party in my chest right now. I feel like my heart is going to explode. Let me feel it. I’m back. And “I’m back” is like in the moment, right here, right now, I’m not future tripping, I’m not going back. Those four things are something that I apply to life every day. So it’s great in the audition room or on set, but it’s amazing too – because at any moment, even right now in our conversation, at some point we’re going to check out. “Oh God, did I leave the stove on?” Which I didn’t this morning by the way. But you know what I mean? Right? Okay cool, I’m not paying attention – I’m back. So I love that personally.
Joy: That’s great.
Noel: That really helps me – back to, like you saying the antidote, presentness. That brings me to my present and not worry about the fact that I’m losing hair because I have mold toxicity or whatever it is.
Joy: Right. Okay. That’s great. Let’s end with a brief – and I don’t want to discount it, but I know we’re short on time – of what’s going on with your health journey, where are you at, what are you doing to heal.
Noel: So the long-short of it is I was diagnosed with fibroid tumors, Lyme disease, co-infections, bartonella, [UNCLEAR], and mold toxicity. So very briefly, I was first diagnosed with fibroids. If you don’t know what they are, they’re uterine tumors, 90-95% of the time benign. Doctors don’t really know why we get them, and they are the number one reasons for hysterectomies in our countries, and hysterectomies is the number one surgery, which is crazy.
Claire: Hysterectomies is the number on surgery in our country?
Claire: I had no idea. More than tonsils?
Noel: Apparently. Yeah, insane. They wanted me to have surgery, but they couldn’t tell me why, and I’m a curious person. I needed answers. So I got a second and a third option. I kept seeing more doctors and more specialists. And then I was told I had parasites. Then I went to a doctor who did kinesiology, which is muscle testing. And in the muscle testing, they said, “Noel, I know your diet. I know your lifestyle. I would describe you as the epitome of health. Who knew you had so much going on in your body?” I was like, “What does that mean?” And he was like, “Well according to these different vials” that he held up against my head, and I had no idea what they were, “you have all of these things.” Lyme, all of these things. So then from there, why would I listen to my body? I needed the scientific blood proof. So then I got more testing done, and sure enough those testings confirmed what we already knew. Doctors wanted me to be on antibiotics. My intuition said no. Everyone thought I was crazy, but I had to listen to it. So then I was supposed to get treatment, drop tens of thousands of dollars on treatment. The night before I’m supposed to fly out, my intuition says no. My husband’s like, “Don’t you want to heal?” Yes, of course I want to heal. But I don’t know, I’m not supposed to go. I don’t go. Fast forward, in a plant medicine ceremony, I heard, “Check your home for mold.” We test our home. Expert comes to the home and says, “I don’t need to test it. It’s fine.” Again, my intuition says, yes you do. And sure enough, we have toxic levels of mold in our home. And it turns out if I had taken the antibiotics, because I was living in a home with mold, I would have been held up at home in bed and unable to get out of bed. If I had gone to the east coast to get treatment and come back to the moldy home, it would have reactivated everything and it would have been a waste of money. So it’s been such a beautiful lesson that we have to be our own advocates for our body. And especially as women, we have that divine sovereignty over our body, and we have our divine intuition. Trust it. So where I’m at now is we had to get rid of every single thing we owned, move out of our home, find a new home that’s mold free, and start new. I’m in this rebirth phase where I’m healing and shedding and growing and learning. It’s wild.
Claire: I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but that sounds like it could have been such an intuitive/emotional rollercoaster to go from there are all these health things going on in your body that you have no idea about. Here you are thinking you’re totally healthy and then come to find that all these things are going horribly wrong. Again, I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but I can just sense that if I were to go through that, I would feel very distrustful of my body. But then to turn around and have one experience after another validating your own intuition, to go from one extreme to the other. That feels like how I would react in that situation. Did you feel that at all?
Noel: Yeah. Well, what I recognized is, especially as women and as busy people, we make excuses. So I’ve had chronic back pain for ten years. I got bit by a tick when I was 6 years old. I likely had late-stage chronic Lyme disease. It just wasn’t activated. So there were symptoms that I had no idea. So you know, like the back pain, I just thought, I live in New York City. I walk upstairs all the time, whatever. I’m stressed out. Well of course I’m stressed out. I run a company. I’m going by auditions every week. I’m on set. You know, so we make all of these excuses. But really, these were gentle ways of my body being like, “Hey, something’s going on here. Hey, pay attention to me. Hey, hello.” And I was ignoring it. So this past year, I thought for sure I was going to be a series regular on a television show. The way my career was going, I was like, okay great, yeah. I’m going to book a show. I’m going to be on set. There were several doors that weirdly slammed in my face. One of the things I say is, make it abundantly clear. Slam the door if it’s not meant to be. There were times that it would happen and I was like, what? Like, it made zero sense. But now I understand. Thank God that happened because if I were on set right now, do you think I would be going to the doctor or paying any attention to my body? Losing my hair, I just would have thought, well yeah, I’m stressed out. That’s why I’m losing my hair, of course. You know what I mean? So it’s like, yes, there was a degree of feeling like I couldn’t trust my body. But at the same time, it was like, no, no, no, she was trying to talk to me. I just wasn’t listening.
Claire: We just had an interview with a naturopathic doctor, and we talked a lot with her about, particularly as women, we are really not encouraged to trust our own symptoms, honestly. That we talk ourselves out of going to the doctor. We don’t want to be a bother. I have a really close friend that has Lyme disease, who also has some co-infections with that, is positive for BRCA mutation. And she might even probably be listening to this. She is always saying, “Oh, I don’t want to be a bother.” I’m like, girl. I hate to throw her under the bus.
Noel: But we’ve all been there though.
Claire: We’ve all been there. You have something going on. To your point, back pain. To your point, hair loss. These things where, especially as women, how quick are we to chalk it up to stress?
Claire: I mean, let’s be honest guys. Stress does not affect healthy bodies like that.
Noel: Well to your point, I was on a panel and somehow self-love got brought up. Somebody asked me what do I do, and I talked about essence salt baths or infrared sauna or dry brushing or this or that, and he doctor on the panel was like, “It’s so important for you to do. Everyone should be doing this.” And I pushed back and I said, “But what if you get exhausted from doing those things?” And she then pushed back and said, “Noel, healthy people don’t.” That was such a mind blowing moment where I was like, oh my God, I’ve been living with these chronic illnesses for so long that I don’t remember what it’s like to live a healthy live. I think there’s so many women out there, and men, who there’s all of these things going on and we just make excuses. So if we can slowly but surely question from a place of curiosity, not a distrust but genuine – just because a doctor says something doesn’t make it fact. It’s their expert opinion and that’s great, but maybe get a second opinion. Maybe get a third. Maybe get a fourth. You know what I mean? Yeah, I’m very passionate about this.
Joy: No, I love it. I had a recent health journey over the past six months with a Graves’ Disease diagnosis, and it’s so much about listening to your body. You know something’s wrong and something’s going on. But back to your point and what Claire said too, I think our baseline of stress is just really high, so we just operate in that space and we don’t know what it’s like to completely have your body back to the nervous system settled and not really feeling stressed 24/7. And we also say, “Well I have to work. I have to raise my family. I have to get all these things done. I have to hustle, hustle, hustle.” And the grind that women are supposed to do. So how are we supposed to just chill out and not have stress? We’re set up to fail.
Noel: Right. One of the things my mom used to say to me – she’d call me my nickname, which was Noni. She’d be like, “Noni, be present.” Because when I was first starting out my company, I had like ten social media clients. And at first it was just me. That was back when we posted three times a day. That’s 30 times a day. I was out of my mind. I was posting, always on my phone. I’d be like, “I have to do this, momma. I have to work.” I realize now, when I was with her and my family was with her on her deathbed when she took her last breath, do you think any of this shit mattered? Do you think posting, do you think social media, do you think vanity metrics, do you think being on set – nothing mattered but being in the moment with my momma. Unfortunately for me, it took a very tragic situation for me to have a wakeup call. But my goal through my story, through sharing my story is let it not take trauma or tragedy for you to wake up. Let’s just slowly but surely recognize we’re not meant to live this hustle culture. It’s complete shit. And it served me for many years. But actually not. You know what I mean? Now I’m dealing with all of these –
Joy: Yeah, it’s like that short-term satisfaction, but is it? Hits of dopamine they say happen when we go through social media. But the long-term. We’re just not focusing on the long-term. We have to stay present. Then if we’re doing those social media hits, long-term it’s just not healthy for us.
Noel: One of the things I had to do was lessen my client roster, which is very scary. Right? Because it’s like you get used to a certain income and it feels good, and then all of the sudden it’s like, nope, I need to heal. And my ego keeps trying to come in and, “but the money.” I just have to remind myself, wealth without health means nothing. So let’s get back to the root of how we’re actually meant to live this life. If that means I can live a life in peace without all of these glitz and glams, I’m okay with that. I never thought that I’d ever be saying that.
Joy: Totally. Totally. I just had an ah-ha moment. Because I just left a job that was very lucrative, very just everything, and it was killing me. I’m in this place enow where I’m really prioritizing – I’m still in it, so I don’t have a full view yet. But it’s like, I need to really prioritize what I want, what my goals are, what really matters to me. So it’s kind of being flipped all on its head right now. But it’s like, yeah, wealth without health means nothing.
Claire: And I honestly think that if you were to look at the majority of people who on the outside look like they’re moving up really fast, like they have these really exciting success stories, there’s almost always that other side of the coin that of all the sacrifices they’ve had to make, that a lot of the time doesn’t end up being worth it when everything settles down. When all of the noise quiets, it’s like, was that really worth it? Or if you ask someone, “Oh wow, it looks like this trajectory you’ve been on has been amazing,” and they’re like, “Yeah, but my hair’s falling out,” whatever the case may be. And to reprioritize that. I went through a similar really toxic job several years ago. From the outside, you’ve had this huge promotion. Within the first year, you’ve been given the biggest account ever. Look at this amazing success story. But on the backend, I’m having heart palpitations. I’m not seeing my family. My hair’s falling out. And it’s so, again, so easy for us to talk ourselves out of that. And also, because it’s so normalized. I think this is an important conversation to be like, hey, if you’re going through that and everyone around you is like, “Yeah, that happens sometimes,” no it doesn’t. It shouldn’t happen sometimes.
Noel: Run. I mean, I’ll never forget, I was very young but I told my best friend, “I think I have an eating disorder. I just threw up my food.” And she’s like, “Oh, everybody does that.”
Claire: Like in Zoolander.
Noel: Yeah, literally. And I completely normalized it. I was like, oh, I’m okay. Be careful who you ask advice from, too.
Joy: Yes. And we don’t need to normalize the hustle. We don’t need to normalize this disfunction. Bless us all for really trying as hard as we want to try, but we all just need to take a step back.
Noel: Yep, yep.
Claire: Alright Noel, thank you so much for sharing your story with us.
Joy: This was so great.
Claire: Where can our listeners find you?
Noel: You can check out my website, noelelieproductions.com. I’m most active on the Gram @noel_elie.
Claire: And we will link all of that in the show notes of course. Thank you everyone for listening this week. You can find us @joyandclaire_ on Instagram. We are at joyandclaire.com, or you can email us firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you so much, and we will talk to you next week.
Joy: Bye guys.