Wendi McNeill, Platform Building Strategist & Founder of Charli Jane Speakers®
Each of us has a story to share.
Every story has the power to open new possibilities of loving, learning and living.
I welcome you to read My Story, my journey.
Highlights of My Story:
Lived in Africa: My folks were missionaries in Monrovia, Liberia, Africa for 3 years. They ran and took care of 33 African children from young to teens at a hostel.
Chocolate covered beetle snacks: I was told we ate chocolate-covered beetles (they were a treat).
Snake infested mud pool: For fun, we swam in a mud hole (our swimming pool) in which snakes swam in the bottom.
Got Malaria: Yep, I was one of those kids that hid their pills instead of swallowing them…oops!
Two trips from Africa to Minneapolis: One for Malaria treatment and another for a bad rash that couldn’t be treated in Africa.
Raised on the Northern Shores of Lake Superior in Minnesota: I was raised on the beautiful shores of Lake Superior in Northern Minnesota with two sisters and one brother. We had the most caring, wonderful parents growing up who were, and still are, the best role models a daughter could ask for.
Outdoors gal: I loved to be outside, climb trees, walk in the woods, and make “things.” We lived by a lake in the middle of the woods, what else was a girl to do? It was mostly narrow, dirt roads back then. So much so, that the trees scratched the sides of the cars. Our home was so deep into the woods that in the winter you could not get there by car. So….
Snowmobile rides to meet the school bus: My Dad used to get on the snowmobile, hook up the sled and take us to where Dad had parked the car, and then he drove us to the bus stop for the 30-mile trip to school.
Please excuse our tardiness: Many times, we went to school with a note because we had a moose in the road, and if anyone has ever encountered a moose in your way, you know to leave it alone until it decides to move.
Little on House on the Prairie 80’s style: I was a teenager at the time we lived here. We had no running water and we took turns carrying pails of water up old rickety stairs that went down a big rock embankment to the lake. We did this so my Mom could boil water for drinking and cooking.
Nighttime trips to the outhouse: We had no bathroom only an outhouse. We had bears living nearby, so nighttime visits down the path to the outhouse was an unwelcome adventure.
Bathing in Tom Lake: Since we had no running water we bathed in the lake. My mom took a pair of nylons and put a bar of soap in them and tied them to a big inner tube. This is how we bathed. I never liked bathing in the lake because I had a fear of fish nibbling on my feet. A few years went by and dad got an outdoor shower bag. It was a black bag filled with water and had a bunch of holes in it. I loved this so much better than the inner tube in the lake option. I would pray for sunshine every day so it would heat up the water in the bag. It was an adventure for sure!
Electricity? None. We had no electricity, only kerosene lamps. This also meant there was no curling your hair for school unless I could convince my Dad to turn on the generator for just a few minutes. We didn’t use the generator very often in order to save on fuel.
Kleenex size TV: We almost never watched TV. We did on occasion get to watch Lawrence Welk on a TV the size of a Kleenex box, no joke.
My creativity began at a young age: I became very creative in finding ways to keep myself entertained. It’s a period in my life that I smile at now, while shaking my head remembering the unusual and adventurous times we had.
Flaming Fire: Fire took our home there in the woods when I was about 15. We were all in town 60 miles away, except for my Dad who had to sit helplessly and watch it burn to the ground. He tried to signal for help by shooting off his shotgun, but to no avail, and when you are in the middle of nowhere, there is little you can do. The kerosene/gas light was the cause. We lost every material thing, except the clothes on our backs. However, we were all unharmed. My parents were extremely strong, resourceful, and determined to keep it all together and go forward like we didn’t miss a beat.
The one-room cabin: After that, we crossed our driveway to a little one-room cabin, with only four walls. This cabin we used to play house in when we were a little younger, would now be our home for many years. Five people now shared a small space. (My oldest sister had since moved on). Dad was very clever in the way he designed it to fit all of us.
Character and strength were built: As a young teen, I learned to use my imagination to survive and thrive. It built more strength and character in me than I still even realize today. I am so grateful for this period of my life.
Overcame being bullied: We were a happy, close-knit family, but we had hard times, too. We got teased in school at times, mostly on the bus. We laughed, we sang, we played, we cried, we hugged because that’s all we had and that’s what we learned to do. We were poor, but only in the sense of money. We had each other, and we stuck together in hard times and good times. This built my strength, commitment and love for family first, always.
The naughty side comes out: Ok, we all have one right? We all have those years we can admit to being foolish, careless and reckless teenagers right? So, I was not a good teenager, headed full speed down a road of destruction and bless my folks for having the patience with me as they did. Being a mother myself, if I had to deal with unruly teenage rebellion in my own daughters, I’m sure I would have delivered the same tough-love if needed.
The blessing: Being the handful that I was, I got sent to a Christian camp (kicking and screaming, of course, as most rebellious teens do). It was called Okontoe up the Gunflint Trail in Northern Minnesota.
Wow! What a transformation for me at age 17. I totally turned my life over to God and built a relationship with Jesus from that day forward. What a blessing it was for me! He has had a huge impact on my life and has changed me for good … forever.
Amazing places and amazing people: I met the most amazing people and had incredible journeys. From right there at base camp, to going places most don’t go, to help teach Bible school, do a radio show and cook for a hockey team in a remote Northern Canadian village that was only accessible by small plane. At this point in my life, I fell in love with the Indian children. I felt a strong desire to teach them anything and everything. This part of my life was a true blessing, a gift from God, and I learned lessons that have been embedded in myself surely forever.
Do I now understand why we lived as we did? Nope. I can tell you this, it is what my folks loved, it came naturally to them and they were happy. It was their decision and I respected them for it. I did not realize it then because I was a teenager. I resented it, I rebelled and hence my attitude problems during that time. I can also tell you, it helped shape the person I am today by making me compassionate, respectful, dedicated, determined and appreciative of every single thing and everyone that is brought into my life. I learned to work hard and put God and family first, always. My faith in God, my relationships with my husband, kids and grandbabies are my whole life – nothing comes before them.
Addiction: In 2010 I overcame a long struggle: Being a 28-year smoker. I had many failed attempts over the years. I finally made it! How? By the grace of God, of course. Other important factors were my goal to live a longer life with my best friend and husband; enjoy family time; and my strong desire to run around the yard to chase my grandbabies without getting winded. I knew it was time. Our bodies have a good way of telling us this. This was one of the most challenging things I had to overcome in my life, and the only thing that had any control over me. The feeling of helplessness is gone. I am truly blessed to be on a much healthier track now.
Not taking things for granted: I learned from my life’s experiences never to take anything for granted, to love deeply, and to count every day as a true blessing from God. My life growing up made me patient and strong. It also made me a courageous, caring and committed mother.
Courage and Patience come from God: I believe that whether you have one child, or four daughters like we do, or more, it takes courage, a lot of patience and understanding that can only come from God to raise them the best possible way you know-how.
My husband’s accident: My husband had fallen 30ft at work, on his face, on the cement. The doctors told me he was lucky to be alive because of the way he fell and landed on the cement. He suffered a broken wrist and minimal jaw damage.
A mother’s nightmare: The year was 2006 when I got the phone call every mama doesn’t ever want to get. My daughters (2 of them), my niece and one of their friends got in a car accident on their way home from track practice. The car was unrecognizable and wedged against a tree stump. The rescue team had to use the Jaws of Life to get one daughter out who was life-flighted to a bigger hospital. She had broken bones, spleen injuries and more. My other daughter had a broken collar bone and is the one that climbed the ravine for help after the accident. The doctors said they were lucky to be alive. It’s been sometime now, but I can vividly recall that day in my mind like it was yesterday, and all the same, feelings instantly come back. Today I still thank God for sending his Angels down to protect my babies.
Holding the fort: My husband is the most amazing, caring, dedicated, hard-working man I know. The years that we raised our 4 daughters he worked on the road most of the time. Gone sometimes for 6-8 weeks and home for 1 week. He did this for 20 years. He missed so much, and I know this was very difficult for him, but what he did was all he knew since he was 17 years old. He traveled, climbed 100’ to 350’ cellular towers (aka Tower Dog) which also added to my worrisome spirit… his safety. I held the fort, raised our daughters the best I knew how and with the grace of God and the abundance of patience and strength He gave me. I knew someday we would be together every single day to never be separated again – I held on to that and it helped me get through some very lonely days and lonely nights!
That day did indeed come, today he’s been blessed to be working remotely from home in a management position. No more climbing towers! Our girls have moved on and are growing their own little families and Mark is home and we are together every single day now, makes my heart so happy!
True blessings: I share my love for God because I know how much He has provided for and taken care of my family and me from day one. I know our family and I have truly worn out the Angels with their hustling and bustling trying to keep up to protect us. God has guided us all through some times during which we did not think we would see another morning. So many times, I know He has carried us financially, physically, and spiritually. God has a purpose for me, and I believe He has a purpose for everyone – you included! I feel mine was to help raise four beautiful, respectful, and compassionate daughters that have now started their own beautiful journeys as grown women, so they too can fulfill their purposes. Mine was to raise our daughters in a healthy, thriving, loving, respectful Christian home and to be the best wife and best friend I possibly can to my husband while helping and always caring for neighbors, friends, and clients.
The second half of Life: Perhaps, God has other things in mind as I go through what I call the “second half of life” (the part after raising the kids). A parent’s job is never done, nor would I want it to be, but now that the girls are out on their own, I feel I can more freely move fully into this next phase.
I am content in knowing I am still fulfilling my purpose. When you think of purpose, and I think we do this more so when we get older, we ask “What is my purpose, why am I here, what am I supposed to do, who needs me, who can I help?” I live this out in my personal life, as well as, in my professional life.
So, where did my business knowledge come from? What qualifies me to teach others how to start and grow their business? From the time I was 17, until this day, (in my 53rd year) I started and ran several businesses.
Business failures and successes: Some failures, some successes and some that may very well have been let go too soon. They all provided their fair share of learning lessons. Lessons I draw on to help others shorten their own learning curves.
Business ventures: After several failed experiments in the business world, I moved on and started a contract cleaning business with some family members. We turned over apartments after the tenants moved out, cleaned hallways and apartments and painted. After that, we moved on to one of the biggest revenue-generating business yet. Because my husband and brother-in-law had been in the cell communication business since their teens, we started a tower construction business. We worked like crazy drumming up business, getting contracts, traveling the country and all the hard work paid off. The four of us grew it into a $3M+ business. We were extremely excited and feeling very flush. Then…..
Bankrupt: After four years, the industry went bust, we lost contracts, and we went bankrupt. We filed for our corporation bankruptcy, and because it was such a hard hit, we had to file personal bankruptcy.
Losing everything: We literally lost everything we had, except for the grace of God as He made it possible for us to hang on to our home, which was truly a blessing. Times were very hard, but we still had our faith, health, our children were healthy, food on the table and a roof over our head.
New beginning: In 2002, I started Charli Jane Speakers to help Speakers, Authors, and Coaches build their business and platforms. I love to teach and coach. Plain and simple, that is what I feel I am here to do – to teach and to coach others to be successful and balanced in their business and life. I want everyone to be happy, successful, and impactful. I challenge those I work with to boldly look deep within themselves because success is not always what it may appear to be on the surface.
What success means to me. If I can touch one person, make their life better, help them “feel” something, give them encouragement, and hope to move forward and make changes for the better equals success. Success isn’t about all the “things” I don’t need all the “things” it’s not what makes me happy. If I can pay our bills, have some money to spoil my grandbabes, and travel once in a while with my hubby I’m happy. I do love money because of what money can do, because of how it can help others. I feel strongly lead to help others. Maybe it’s to provide more schools in third world countries, maybe clean drinking water, or an orphanage.
I’m not sure but I will allow God to work in my life and lead me where I’m meant to go and to help those I’m meant to help. The more money I can make, the bigger impact I can make.
Glimpse of today: Of course, today, I am still successfully running Charli Jane Speakers and love every minute of it, especially the community we have created. It’s made up of the most truly amazing people! Here at Charli Jane Speakers, we are so blessed to work with an incredible group of talented, compassionate people who are doing what it takes to share their story, their expertise and their knowledge with the world to help others improve their lives and make the world a better place.
Lessons learned: Over the many years, I’ve learned some hard lessons that were quite painful, but also made me much wiser and stronger. With success comes many failures. Those failures you endure are meant to make you stronger and wiser.
Highlights: These, of course, are just some of the highlights in my story. Even though it’s a bit long, (I know many people who start to read it will not make it to the end), but perhaps those who do, feel they have made a connection.
Credit well-deserved: Regardless, I felt inclined to share so you know on a deeper level and can hear where I came from and how those experiences molded me to become the person I am today. The credit I give to God, my strong and loving parents, Jim and Karen Holzer, my totally amazing husband and best friend Mark, and my four beautiful daughters, Ashli, Brittani, Cassi, and Charli who all taught me how to laugh, live and love. That joy continues with my grandbabes, Elijah, Hadley, Hayli, Berkli, and Addi now today.
Everyone has a story worthy to be told. I wanted to share a bit of my life with my Charli Jane friends and followers, current and future alike.
Share your story. You may be amazed at the results. Don’t be afraid to open up or get blocked with worry about what other people will think. The people who connect with your story are the ones you are meant to serve.
You are who you are. Be proud of that. Find your purpose. Live it out loud boldly!
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Blessings as you live your story boldly each day,