Sleep Deprivation: Why It’s No Joke For Visionaries

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I remember exactly what I was wearing when I walked into the Kroger supermarket in Little Rock, Arkansas to buy light bulbs: dark blue jeans with two vomit stains from my 8-month-old, a black t-shirt with rice cake droppings and my hair was pulled back with two hair clips, Melissa Gilbert-esque Little House on the Praise style.

I felt alone and giddy. My boys who were both under two and half years old had finally entered morning care, I was just returning to work, my husband was traveling in Africa, and my family lived over 1,000 miles away. Walking into a store alone at 11 a.m. felt similar to what it used to feel like to sit at a café on a workday– total indulgence.

The aisles at Kroger are wide and packed with everything imaginable: specials on toilet paper, matches, two-for-one on boxes of tissues with lotion. I walked with urgency because time was ticking – I had to pick up the kids in an hour.

As I approached the light bulb aisle I laughed to myself about having gone through another stop sign that morning without stopping and driving my car up onto a curb. I had just told my husband the last week, I feel drunk when I’m driving.

And this morning proved it. But that’s what more than two years of poor sleep will do to a person. My son Jacob screamed from 10 days after he was born and didn’t stop for 18 months; day and night. I averaged five broken up hours of sleep per day.

I’m okay, I told friends. Fine. Really. I don’t need sleep. I’m in love with my baby and the next baby who arrived 19 months later, too. Why worry about sleep when I’m needed by others who can’t pull up their pants on their own yet?

I needed light bulbs. Aisle seven.

Leaning over to buy a 4-pack of General Electric light bulbs I sensed my balance was off. Being a mom I grabbed a juice pack from my pocketbook knowing that juice packs solve virtually all problems. But this time the holy juice pack failed me. The aisle was still spinning. People walking towards me felt oddly close, as if they were Halloween zombies headed in my direction. I could feel my heart beat in my neck like a marching band drum on speed.

My mind was also on over-drive, multiple thoughts fighting for top of the list: What will happen to my children if I die? It’s only dizziness and chills and blurry vision…it will go away. I’m dying. Will I go to heaven? Should I call my mother? How long until I have to get the kids? Damn Tim for being in Africa.

I called my best friend, Melissa.

Somehow I managed to get to my car. As Melissa pulled up in her minivan the world was still spinning and I was holding on to the car for dear life.

We got to the hospital emergency room and I arranged for another friend to pick up my kids. Then I passed out.

When my eyes opened a few minutes later, four doctors were standing around me smiling, making me fear the worst. Cancer. I knew it. I start writing my eulogy in my head.

Four hours later I got my diagnosis: anxiety. And an offered solution: anti-anxiety pills.

I cried. Now, you have to understand one thing. I ate quinoa, drank carrot juice, and had not taken even Ibuprofen in nearly a decade. And now I was going to take anti-anxiety pills?

I was a happy mom. I loved my kids. I was okay. Really. I was fine.

I tried to not take the pills. If I don’t ever have to go buy light bulbs again I could live my life without a drug. If Jacob would stop waking up at 5 a.m. I’d be able to string a sentence together, and not go over curbs and through stop signs. Maybe even exercise again and not feel the world spinning when I walked outside my door.

In the end I decided not to change a thing about my life and take the pills. It was easier. For six months I popped a pill for anxiety every day. Then a year passed. Then two. When year three rolled around, I finally flushed the pills down the toilet.

What changed? The day my youngest son entered full day pre-school, instead of going to my home office I stopped at a yoga studio across the street, ostensibly to get my mommy body back in shape. When I walked in I found out about a class called yoga nidra meditation where all you do is lie down like sleep and receive a guided meditation. Twenty dollars for a nap? It sounded nuts, but I signed up anyway.

I went to class every Friday for one year and everything changed. It turns out yoga nidra meditation is like sleep on steroids. Unlike sleep, which is great for restoring your body but it’s an unconscious state, yoga nidra takes you into a sleep-like state consciously and with intention. As a result you feel super-charged in ways that include more energy, better sleep, and your anxiety lessens because the cortisol in your body decreases significantly.

I felt happy in a way I had never felt before. I threw out the anti-anxiety pills and made a commitment to stop laughing about sleep deprivation and talk seriously with every exhausted person out there about the benefits of restoring oneself through sleep, deep rest and yoga nidra meditation.

I’m on a mission at BOLD’s sister Bold Tranquility to get people to take their fatigue seriously so they can play big and bold in the world. Studies show that getting good sleep and more rest improves concentration and memory, increases productivity, reduces inflammation, decreases heart attacks and strokes, and impacts the balance of hormones that affect weight. And then there’s my secret sauce: yoga nidra meditation, an easy to do technique that includes sleep, mindful meditation and deep breathing. Why wouldn’t every fatigued person add this to their sleep menu?

My kids are now 13 and 14 years old. Our days are filled with soccer games, practices, guitar lessons, theatre productions, and navigating and monitoring technology. It’s a busy, modern life for sure. But these days the mantra singing in my ear goes like this: “be good to yourself.”

Today I proudly tell people I am managing my fatigue, not hiding from it. I also tell people I’m not okay if I’m not okay. Really. It’s fine.

Do you feel exhausted, overwhelmed, or anxious? Share your story below and tell me what step you’ve taken to confront it. (don’t feel back if you haven’t taken any step yet – it took me years to confront this!).

xo
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8 day of bliss in Mallorca

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Come spend a deeply restorative week in July surrounded by majestic beauty on the island of Mallorca in Spain. The dreamy island that provided inspiration to Chopin and Miró is our destination for this Exclusive, All-Inclusive Retreat.

For the first time ever BOLD Method™ for Birth founder Karen Brody and Stephanie Larson, Founder of Dancing For Birth™, and are joining together to hold a dance & sleep-based meditation retreat and training.

In an intimate group setting you’ll gain unparralleled access to us and hands-on experience with dance + yoga nidra meditation, two life-changing, birth-changing tools. (+21 CEUs!).

To learn more about the retreat click here.

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Don’t have the money but feel a big YES to join us? Payment plans are available. Just be BOLD and ask: theteam@boldbirthmethod.com

Giving Birth BOLDly

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When you were growing up what images, words, or phrases do you remember receiving about childbirth? Pretty scary? You’re not alone.

We are living at a time when it is essential to be BOLD about birth and dig deep into the truth about birth + the truth of who you are to give birth. Does that mean you must give birth naked on a mountaintop or in a pool of water? No. A BOLD Birth asks you to be still and in that stillness…when you are fully awake and aware….conscious… make birth choices from that sweet spot.

We believe you knowingly know what kind of birth you want. The fear of birth that is translated through media and comments from friends and family is just one side of the coin. What if you acknowledged all of that, plus it’s opposite and then did a BOLD act: you held what Marion Woodman calls “The Tension of the Opposites.” It’s from this still point where you are your most powerful.

What about book knowledge? Yes, we love the mind. Fill yourself up with book knowledge. But please don’t forget the heart. A BOLD birth is both head and heart. That’s when your soul dances, twirls, and welcomes your baby into a world of well-being.

If you’re pregnant or planning to be here are 3 Steps you can take be BOLD right now.

Step One: Connect with your BODY. Do some form of breath work or movement every day. Commit to sitting in the sun for seven minutes and breathing deeply and consciously. Take a powerful yoga nidra nap. Put on music and dance in a room by yourself for 10 minutes with your eyes closed.

Step Two: Find your Authentic Voice. After you move, put your hand over your heart and ask yourself for an image. Word. Or phrase that describes how you’re feeling. Really follow your breath…the energy of the breath…the current of air…and notice where it arrives. Ask your image, word, or phrase from this place. Write it down and be curious. Love on it.

Step Three: Take Action. Once you’re firmly in your body and connected with your authentic voice your internal power switch is turned on. It’s from here that you want to commit to taking action in your pregnancy. Write down your vision for your birth and then one way you’re going to commit to that vision.

Please remember that pregnancy is a journey and you are the shero. Yes, there will be obstacles…they happen…but ultimately nothing can steer you away from the truth of who you are. That is always available to you.

If you are wanting to go deeper the BOLD Method for Birth is part of a movement based on my play Birth. We might be right for you. Our movement has been shining BOLDness around the world since 2006, our method since 2010. Our culture is shifting at rapid speed and women are shifting too…wanting more from their birth experience, realizing that while a healthy baby is a birth goal it’s not the whole story. Today women are demanding a healthy self. If you’re wanting this then we may be a good fit. Our facilitators are deep listeners + wise mentors on your BOLD journey. If you feel like it’s time to be BOLD check out our classes or train with us.

Here’s to being BOLD.

xo
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An Impromptu dialogue between Ina May Gaskin and BOLD founder Karen Brody

Some days are just meant to be…my grandmother called it ‘beshert.’ And so it was when I popped over to see Ina May Gaskin – the ‘Mother of Midwifery’ – interviewed at a national radio station blocks from my house. Lisa Reagan of Pathways to Family Wellness Magazine was there with a cameraman. They asked us to sit down and just chat. And that’s what we did. Birthing Babies. The play. All of it. Enjoy.
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