It’s funny – I have been asked by many, particularly those who graciously follow me on social media, if I in fact, sleep. It is an important question which regularly provides me with pause for thought. Yes, I am a top-producer with respect to my daily content. Yes, I am continuously juggling the coaching of my roster of clients, blogging deadlines, a weekly radio/podcast broadcast on two global platforms, speaking, hosting book signings, building another new business venture, interfacing with dozens of awesome folk every single week in addition to, and of course, most importantly, raising my two children as a single-parent and as a serial solopreneur. Blogging for Thrive Global, owned and founded by Arianna Huffington…the expert and go-to person on the subject of sleep, has really become an important reference person for me as far as her own experiences related to the adversity associated with cumulative sleep deprivation. More than ever, I have become mindful of the seriousness related to the importance of developing consistently healthy habits and routines for both rest and sleep. Has my regimen improved? Yes. Am I still falling short of being consistent? Yes. Admittedly, I do not proclaim to be a good example or role model in this department even though I am more so than ever before, at least more committed to making ongoing gains and improvements in this area of improved health and personal well-being.
Not to make excuses for my deficiencies with my relationship to sleep, however, in reflecting upon my history of sleeping patterns throughout the course of my life, I can make definite correlations and attribute some of this area of challenge for me to different junctures of my life and life experiences. Examples of this would consist of the time frame of when I swam competitively and had a rigorous, intensive daily regimen. That particular schedule consisted of training six days a week, twice a day and hours before the school hour started from Monday to Friday. As someone who was living on my own as a young teenager, who had to be financially self-reliant, disciplined and independently navigating and maneuvering all required aspects of my life, yet doing so as someone who still had lofty goals and aspirations, it was not uncommon for me to have to work two to three jobs in order to afford my tuition fees, books, living expenses, paying for my own braces which I was in desperate need of, finance my own vehicle and the list goes on. I take immense pride in the fact that I paid for both College and University, professional development certification courses without the assistance of parents, grants, loans, government and so forth. Of course, in order to successfully honour myself in the pursuit of accomplishing what I identified as fundamentally important to me – and while recognizing the benefits of short term pain for long term gain, I had to juggle also being a full-time student in College while also being a full-time part-time student at University, while simultaneously working shift work in the field of social services. Given how focused and committed I was to doing everything that was required of me in order to earn my diploma, certificates, degree, fulfill my co-op placements, and accepting/chasing as many paid shifts as possible to flip the bill for these expensive financial obligations – sleep of course, took a hit, and was not high on my priority list. I can honestly say looking back on that blur in my life – I was operating on sheer adrenaline. I did what I felt I had to do given what I had to work with at the time. When there is a will, there is a way, and my willpower to meet my objectives and to accomplish my goals was ferocious.
Fast forward to the timing of embarking upon starting a family. I was very fortunate to have had two phenomenal pregnancies. I had zero issues or challenges with respect to morning sickness, or many of the other things pregnant women frequently report on as having been problematic for them during their own pregnancies. However, my labor and delivery with my first child was a polar opposite experience. Long story short, he was positioned feet first, and I hemorrhaged post-delivery due to retained placenta. I almost did not make it according to the doctors overseeing my care. This of course, resulted in me being iron-deficient, and my first-born and I requiring an extended stay in the hospital on the newborn, light-therapy ward. When we were finally released from the hospital, there were a whole host of health challenges that presented themselves for both he and I before we eventually made a full recovery, let alone the adaptation to sleepless nights not only as he being a newborn, but a newborn with some residual challenges he and I both encountered as result of his delivery and the hemorrhage, itself. Fortunately, he is now a great sleeper and consistently so.
Fast forward eighteen months later to the birth of my daughter. Again, truly grateful and blessed for a second amazing pregnancy. Immensely grateful and relieved for a smooth-sailing labor and delivery process from beginning to end. The hiccup in this situation was that my daughter was almost immediately diagnosed post-birth with Reflux, which for anyone who does not know; mimics Colic in infants. I honestly was not anticipating nor did I expect having had two back to back children who were eighteen months apart in age that I would necessarily be receiving generous amounts of consistent good quality sleep, which was probably wise an assumption to have made on my part as the transition from adjusting from that pre-conceived notion to what the reality in fact held was not quite something I quite could have envisioned or even prepared for. Even with my daughter having been prescribed liquid Prevacid for a full year, (perhaps even longer) she was unfortunately still in excruciating discomfort and pain. Her crib was propped so as to elevate her and provide more bodily ease during ‘nap-times’ and evening bedtime routines. Nursing her in the standard positions in-which a baby normally receives breast milk from their mother was a nightmare. Any position requiring her to be flat on her back automatically signified immediate discomfort and distress for her. I was insistent that even in-spite of these challenges, she was going to receive my breast milk, therefore we were approved through the insurance company based on her medical diagnosis, to receive a state of the art, breast pump. Sleep turned into shifts between myself and my children’s father so that we could still somewhat function on a daily basis – he as the primary careerist at that point and me as the full-time stay-at-home Mum to two young children with no infrastructure of family support during that time frame of us living out west – not where either of us was originally from. I do not recall much of anything from that period of time other than remembering very vividly how thoroughly exhausted and tapped out I was, and on a fairly consistent basis. These were not easy times, but we did of course, survive it all and we have since recouped on cumulatively lost sleep from once upon a time.
There are so many other tangible examples I could cite as to why the subject of sleep, and my personal relationship with sleep has proven somewhat dysfunctional, however, I will spare you the reader from belabouring my point, which I think I have successfully managed to illustrate here in the aforementioned scenarios. As with everything else for which I sincerely wish to grow, expand and improve upon in my life, sleep of course atop that list – I do continue to abstain and refrain from the blaming and shaming tendencies we can inflict upon ourselves when we perceive our own shortcomings or fall in that trap of comparing ourselves to others. I only choose to be productive, constructive and positive with myself in the self-identified areas I already know need improving upon. I give myself credit for at least acknowledging and owning where it is I fall short either within myself as a human being or within the areas of my own life that could be better-served. I also choose to embrace my truths while only doing so in the space of operating within the framework and healthy mindset of how to kindly, respectfully, and compassionately grow, improve, and expand myself.
To quote Maya Angelou, (often reiterated by Oprah) “When we know better, we do better.” I know better, and I am committed to doing better. Whoever you are, wherever you are, please know I wish you my very best. Trusting this finds you well, in great spirits, and feeling well-rested. Uplifting you to fear less and to live more. Pleasant Dreams! #Grateful #LivingFearlessly #Thrive #Medium
Love & Gratitude ~ Lisa
Originally published at livingfearlesslywithlisa.com