women entrepreneurs

Exhaustion: It's Time to Tell a New Story by Karen Brody

I'm thrilled to bring you a guest post from Karen Brody this week for several reasons:

  1. I am in love with her work and am eager for her upcoming Daring to Rest: Wild Woman Writer - a 9 month online emersion in meditation, yoga nidra, and writing
  2. I want to see what you can create when you shed the "I'm so bloody tired" narrative - and I want the same for myself.

Dear Exhaustion, It's time to tell a new story about your role in my lifeLet's face it, women today are tired.

Done. Cooked. Fried.

I coach busy women leaders, and this is what they tell me all the time:

"I spent years getting educated and now I don't have any energy to work."

Or "I love my work, but my kids keep getting sick and so I show up to my job and can't even remember what I'm doing."

This story of exhaustion is real and we could say it's simply an effect of modern life and leave it at that. But I sense there's more meat to this story. I believe women can re-write the story of their exhaustion and it starts with telling a new story from a new place.

Shedding Your Tired Stories About Sleep & Rest

Do I want women to lie about being tired? Well, actually, I see it more like the need to shed.

If we're going to bring peace and tranquility back to our lives -- and to the world -- we've got to shed ourselves of what keep us so tired. And that starts with our mind.

Our minds are useful tools that give us many gifts, but there's this other dimension that goes beyond the mind and it's urgent women begin tapping into this place. Why? Because no matter how many gadgets you use to measure the number of hours you're sleeping or how well you think you know your exhaustion, identifying with this story is ultimately draining. It won't make you feel whole, ecstatic and ultimately fulfilled.

Counting the number of hours you're sleeping at night -- telling yourself the story that you're just not a good sleeper or just not the kind of person who can get in eight hours of sleep every night -- is thinking that is done through ego-mind, and this is exactly what separates us from oneness.

People think ego-mind will free them -- counting those hours of sleep -- but most people who are counting the number of hours they sleep are not living fulfilled lives.

I'm not shaming science -- the research that tells us we should be getting a certain number of hours of sleep is often based on solid facts -- but instead I'm urging women to be cautious how we use it. Sleep deprivation is only an ingredient in your soup. It's urgent that we reveal the full recipe.

We must we teach women to tell the full story of exhaustion... to shake off this one-sided karmic drain.

When You See Beyond Exhaustion, You See Gold

exhausted woman entrepreneur Karen BrodyIt's time to stop reinforcing separation.

It's no wonder women are so exhausted. When we tell only one side of the story throws us out of balance.

In scientific terms we've lost the balance between the parasympathetic and sympathetic branches of our nervous system. In human potential terms, we've stopped looking for our gold.

The story of exhaustion in women today keeps us stuck in a narrative that has taken us away from feeling wildly alive.

What if instead of being goal oriented -- looking for those perfect precious hours of sleep -- we searched for our gold? This is the story we must start writing. With technology extending our days and gadgets to tell us that we're not measuring up all here to stay, women need to take back the narrative on exhaustion and focus on our gold -- that place where were wildly ourselves and creative. This is the only way woman leaders of the 21st century are going to survive.

I remember a time when I was a young community organizer and all my mentors were exhausted bright women stuck in what I termed "the story of yuck." They were doing brilliant work, yet their stories were all the same: high output, but exhausted in mind, body, and spirit. Most were divorced, or not in healthy relationships. Nobody seemed to care or notice that deep down they were personally miserable.

Historically women's exhaustion story hasn't been much better. Exhausted women tended to go "mad" and take to our beds as a way to check out.

Today with so many creative forms of communication and the rise in popularity of mindfulness-based tools women have an opportunity to use our voices to change the story of exhaustion to one where we're fully checked in. We no longer have to hold on to the shame of exhaustion or identify ourselves as "exhausted all the time."

Create a New, Conscious Container for Your Life & Work

So how do we tell a different story? I suggest it starts with cultivating awareness, a deep consciousness. This is the "checking in" women so desperately need and it will only come if we rest more, specially using conscious tools like my favorite, yoga nidra meditation, a sleep-based meditation technique recently referred to as a "secret ... happy place" that's all your own.

Consciousness provides these gaps of nothingness and in the gap -- a deep pause -- this is when you can dis-identify with exhaustion. Not deny your exhaustion, but rather stay unattached to that story.

Think of it like a container. Your story of exhaustion is not the container, it's part of the stuff in the container. We tend to notice the stuff, right? We often say things like "I'm so tired all the time" or "I never sleep" because this is part of our stuff in the container. This is not the container. The container is your true story -- the gold -- and not everything moving through it. The story of your stuff is time-bound. You are not. You are timeless.

Yogis often talk about enlightenment as being when you are resting in the space of awareness. When you are the container.

I attended a training a few years ago at the Amrit Yoga Center and on my ride home on the airplane I found myself writing the words of my instructor again and again:

"You are the silence, not the sound."

This is the new story of exhaustion that women must start telling. A story born out of silence, not sound.

I believe that once women rest more, get silent, and start using tools that raise our consciousness -- that help us check in -- we will finally know without a doubt that we are powerful beyond our wildest imagination. Not Super Woman -- women aren't blind anymore, we know this isn't the gold -- but simply we'll begin to tell the version of us born out of awareness beyond our stuff. We'll tell whole truth in our own voices. A new narrative of women on exhaustion. It’s time.

karen brody


Mother, writer & women’s empowerment leader Karen Brody is here to help you break the cycle of fatigue and reclaim your creative spark. She'll help you get some rest, chuck perfect & return to wholeness in your mission and purpose

Join Daring to Rest: Wild Woman Writera 9 month sleep-based meditation immersion for creative women starting March 15, 2017.

NOTE: If your exhausted, creative heart says "yes!" to Karen's offering, send me an email by March 12 (marisa@marisagoudy.com) and I will send you a special promo code for our community. You'll get an extra savings on top of the early bird discount!


Karen Brody is a dynamic mama changing the world, inspiring mothers, birth professionals and women entrepreneurs to “be the change” through their work, personal lives, and global commitment. She is the playwright of Birth -  known as “The Vagina Monologues for childbirth” -  and through Birth Karen founded BOLD, a global movement supporting birth visionaries to change the culture of birth. Today the BOLD movement includes The BOLD Method for Birth, a ground breaking “women’s empowerment meets childbirth education” approach,  an advanced online yoga nidra meditation pregnancy and postpartum training and Bold Tranquility, a yoga nidra meditation company for women ready to wake up and be BOLD. Karen writes regularly for the Huffington post and has written dozens of articles and two health books.

How to Heal Chronic Internet Fatigue Syndrome

Sovereign Standard, Issue 21MG_Header_w_biline_hires What’s the number one reason bloggers quit writing?

Forget that… what’s the number one reason you want to quit the writing practice that's mean to build your business or your professional platform?

Because nobody seems to read what you write, right?

It’s one thing to know that most online readers are just skimming, it’s another to feel like you’re not even reaching those eyeballs.

How to heal Chronic internet fatigue syndromeYou slip into despair if your site stats don’t match up to the investment you made in the post. Who can blame you? Writing a from-the-heart, meaningful, useful post every week or two takes a lot out of you, but it’s a labor of love.

It’s the next step, the “doing social media” to get the link in front of prospective clients and readers that pushes the whole venture into mission: impossible territory.

Unless you have a fully charged phone while you’re in line at the DMV or killing time someplace similar. In that case, you have time to share the blog post on every social media platform you’ve ever heard of.

Those deep dives into social media can be really useful, but soon they teach you something vital...

Social Media Isn’t About Posting Strategy or Likes, It’s About Real Relationships

Getting people to read what you write really isn’t about crafting Tweets and status updates and making everything sweet-as-pie Pinnable.

If you don’t have the online relationships, even the best piece of content is likely to languish in obscurity on your under appreciated blog.

As social media matures and the networks figure out how to monetize their “free” platforms, it becomes increasingly hard to hear and be heard above the noise.

Instead of tuning in to every Mari Smith email and Social Media Examiner podcast like I used to, I’m focusing on nurturing real connections with people I care about. It's the only way to heal a modern disease I bet you know all too well...

Are you suffering from Chronic Internet Fatigue Syndrome?

My case of Chronic Internet Fatigue Syndrome flares up regularly. Sick of the sales pitches, the false promises, the self aggrandizement, and the sheer meaninglessness of it all, I burn out and hide myself in a few good novels. (Or a Candy Crush Soda binge… don’t judge me.)

During these hibernation periods I tend to lose hard won footing in the social universe. The disappearing acts make me seen inconsistent and, hence, I'm easily forgotten or dismissed.

It’s easy to claim “because my kids”  but really, I just can’t sustain these online “connections” that aren’t forged in real, sustaining reciprocal relationships.

At the early stages of building a platform and becoming a trusted voice in your area of expertise, it feels like it’s all about giving, producing, and introducing yourself.  It's so easy to burn out. Eventually, you’ll reap what you sow and see a return on all that effort, but only if you are offering yourself and your writing to the right people.

The Writer’s Cure for Chronic Internet Fatigue Syndrome?

Reach.Connect.Uplift WomenReach.Connect.Uplift Women

As with any chronic ailment, the goal is to break the cycle and enjoy sustained health and vitality. You want to find a sustainable online community that loves to read what you write and offers up content that betters your personal and professional life as well.

You do, right?

Ok, so come join me over at the Reach.Connect.Uplift Women Forum because I think it’s the cure for digital burnout.

Just when I realized I needed to break my feast or famine social media efforts and focus on an online community that gave as good as it got from me, founder Lany Sullivan told me about how the RCUWomen Google+ group was migrating to its own membership forum.

As Lany describes it, "We decided to go old school and build a forum on our website that we could really let loose and have a broader reach. "

What, it's 2015 and we're back to a message board? If you're getting lost in the social media crowds, it may be just the medicine your content creator's soul craves.

Here's Lany's explanation of "why a Reach.Connect.Uplift Women Forum, why now?":

Lany Sullivan Reach.Connect.Uplift WomenWe want a platform that allows us to really highlight our members, provide valuable resources, and be able to monitor and manage it with maximum efficiency. Social Media doesn’t do that for us or our members.

Building an audience off social allows us to have a greater impact, better connections and deeper relationships with our members. Instead of sifting through the millions of posts on social everyday, our members can drop by the forum for some of the top content in the market. Plus, we have some additional SEO and link building benefits that has a positive impact for everyone.

So, will you join me over on the new forum? My social streams and my inbox are too full and I'm missing your great content, but I know I'll see it if you become a RCUWoman too (and guys, if you've got the stones to join the ladies, we'd love to have you too!)

Burned Out? Maybe It's Time to Split the Creative from the Professional


Sovereign Standard, Issue 16

Well, that was unexpected: entrepreneurship = a soul crushing experience

Imagine What if  the paid work doesn’t have to hold all your creative energies? So many working artists and self-employed creatives are feeling the crush of entrepreneurship. It’s not the long hours or even the uncertainty that gets them. It’s the assumption that the goal has to be "build something bigger than you." They're told that success equals developing something that scales and sells.

Why have so many impassioned, independent souls got caught up in “make it bigger” even though that set them up for the dreaded “not enough” trap?

Because we mixed our creative passions with the reality of making a living. Instead of realizing a holistic vision of create-work-live, we've brewed up an unpalatable concoction that just isn't nourishing and definitely isn't sustainable.

Trying to make one sweeping entrepreneurial venture hold the creative dreams and the professional drive left them with too little time to create, too little in the bank account, and stuck in a chronic state of “not-enoughness.”

Oh, am I slipping into collective nouns here? I’m daring to speak for others on this  because so many readers - lets be specific: so many women business artists* - responded to my latest post, Nutella on a Spoon (Or, Why Entrepreneurship Can Leave You Starving).

We are sick of trying to get the mix just right. We're too tired to contort ourselves to fit into the entrepreneurial container.

What creative women in business want

We want freedom of creative expression and the power to earn an independent livelihood.

We want to make something that matters and we want to make some money.

Here's the kicker: we're mature enough to recognize that we won't always be doing both things at the same exact time.

For some, "what you want" may really mean being an entrepreneur and building a company (particularly if you’ve got a gift for sales). On the other hand, it may mean freelancing. It may mean getting a J-O-B in order to recoup the emotional and mental energy that went into being in business for yourself.

Living and working like the creative-in-business you want to be may simply mean adjusting how you do business by offering the basic, “useful” services.

You’re downshifting from entrepreneurship into freelancing. It’s time to do the work that immediate rather than pioneering a visionary program or building a firm (at least for now).

This is why I am shifting my attention to offering the right people my copywriting services while the “real” work gestates in the dark for a while.

In any case, it's about looking closely at what's working and what isn't working and making decisions for the future based on what really matters - personal relationships, creative practice, and earning a living.

When “I quit entrepreneurship” doesn’t really mean “I quit business!” or "I reject my passion!"

Things haven't been working for you? Maybe it's time for the “I quit!” epiphany. It feels so liberating to smash those glass walls and peel back those labels that were hiding who you really are.

But what if the “I quit!” breakthrough doesn’t really mean you’re collapsing your stall in the marketplace? What if abandoning entrepreneurship doesn’t mean you’re taking a vow of poverty or trying to remember how to draft a resume?

What if "I quit creative entrepreneurship" simply means that you're no longer forcing creativity to grow in the same container as the work you do for money?

You might be like Jennifer Boykin who boldly declared she’s quitting her Life After Tampons project. Really, it seems she’s rebirthing her relationship with her creation and finding a way to detangle her passion work from her purse strings.

The Wild and Wise Women Over 45 who love Jennifer's work will not see her as quitter even as she frees herself from the chore of building a business venture that didn't serve her. She's still going to show up, but she's not going to pressure her passion with the needs of her pocketbook.

My "entrepreneurial crisis" has been a personal one. I think Jennifer's was too. Many women are sharing their own stories about why the "e" word doesn't fit and how they're reframing the relationship between the creative work and the paid work.

Is your entrepreneurship problem actually about the relationship between life, art, and work?

My business woes were not about being self-employed. They were about how the “go big” entrepreneurial imperative was squeezing out what really mattered - being present when I was home with my kids, devoting myself to the real creative work, and earning the money to replace the steady income I abandoned five years ago.

Here’s the good news:

If you structured your business based on someone else's definition of success and basic misunderstanding of your own goals, you can readjust your course without tossing away everything you've worked to build.

When you make changes in your business in order to better suit yourself, most people will only notice that you seem happier all of a sudden. (They may also note you're wearing a new pair of shoes because you found a more reliable way to fill the bank account).

Big dreams got you into entrepreneurship. You're leaving entrepreneurship to preserve those dreams.

We know that many wise businesswomen feel trapped by their choice to mix creativity and entrepreneurship. The solution isn’t to abandon either. The answer - at least for me - is to decouple them.

Before you can mediate a peaceful split, however, you have to figure out why you hitched together your creative drive and the promises of entrepreneurship in the first place.

Big creative dreams like yours deserve a big, beautiful container, so you picked the grandest, most promising one you could find: entrepreneurship.

But then you realized that it takes a lot more than vision and passion to build and sustain a business that is bigger than you are. Marketing, staffing, bookkeeping (if you could even get to that level) takes more time and attention that you have right now. Most likely, you got distracted from your original creative dreams because you were scrambling to structure an organization.

What if the work you do for pay doesn’t have to hold all of your creative energies? Suddenly your professional venture doesn’t have to be so big.

Liberating the creative from the professional - at least for a little while - is how you create the right size container for your dreams, your responsibilities, and your financial realities.

This is how novels get written. This is how debt gets paid off. This is how happy women support their families - with love and presence as well as money for groceries and the college savings account.

And saying "no" to entrepreneurship may really be about saying "not right now." It's in the pause, in the freelancing or the day job that the signature approaches that make life more beautiful, bearable, and bold get created: in their own time by creative, practical beings who refuse to see their creative ambitions vanish in entrepreneurial smoke and mirrors.


* Deep bow to Jeffrey Davis for bringing the term "business artist" to the fore and for being the community creator who introduced me to so many of the brilliant women who make up my readership. Not convinced that you need to separate the creative from the entrepreneurial? Dive deep into Jeffrey's work, starting with this video - his approach to "business as unusual" may be exactly what you're looking for.

The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Honoring Writing Deadlines - Even During Spring Break

The Sovereign Standard, Issue 9MG_newsletter400x86

Sometimes you have the luxury of staring at a blank page. An endless desert of time stretches before you but you can’t think of a single useful thing to say.

For the creative entrepreneur, the opposite is often true: so many ideas, so little time.

The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Honoring writing deadlines even during spring break

Business owning parents in particular know this uncomfortable phenomenon during school breaks - those trying periods when life stops for the kids but everyone else in the professional world is still pushing full speed ahead.

I’m writing this on a coffee table on Cape Cod, relying on the patience of grandparents who’ll play one more game of Candy Land while mama just finishes another paragraph.

The Entrepreneur’s Survival Tools: Writing. Balance. Reciprocity. Self Care.

The Entrepreneur’s Survival Tools Writing. Balance. Reciprocity. Self Care.

It’s in the mix of these powerful, sustaining habits that I’ve found my way through this week of delightful disruption and business as unusual.

Writing, balance, reciprocity, and self care overlap and feed one another. I believe that if you honor each in their turn, you have a fighting chance of meeting the end of each day with a sense of “I am enough.”


Remember, your writing practice is meant to give back to you.

You’ll only sustain the practice and imbue your words with meaning if you’re motivated by something deeper than the dictates of the editorial calendar and the need to churn out one more blog post.

Writing is an opportunity for personal and professional growth. The practice will support you when the world seems to be falling apart due to personal crisis - or simply because the children are hanging about, using the dreaded “b” word. (Is “bored” a four letter word to you too?)

For me, writing is a refuge.

If  I didn’t have my writing deadlines, would I carve out any time for myself? Between the great processions to the beach (dressing for the wind takes more time than we actually spend by the water) and the endless task of keeping the toys off my folks’ stairs, it seems impossible even on "vacation."

Truth is, I almost always need “work” as an excuse to step away from my parenting responsibilities. I value self care, but often as an unattainable grail.

Self Care

The goal is to practice self care rather than just celebrate it. I'm still a work in progress in the implementation, but I am great at the research. That’s why I’ve been immersing myself in Koren Motekaitis’s series of podcasts with Jen Louden. I highly recommended a binge listen if you’ve got some long distance driving coming up!

For a quick dose of Jen’s medicine, watch this video on the self care paradox. I love how she describes the need to cultivate a relationship between “savoring and service.”

Because really, as important as the writing and all the other work commitments are, this is a special moment in your family’s life - or it could be. And taking care of work at the cost of your happiness as a mom means you're breaking a fundamental rule of self care.

We still reminisce about that April vacation in Washington DC in 1987. There’s no way my daughter will remember “the spring break mom sat at the computer” since that looks a lot like every other week of her life.

Whenever you feel most stressed and overextended, you’re likely giving more than you’re receiving.

Balance & Reciprocity

Many say that work-life balance is a myth. If your expectation is that you’ll give exactly the same amount of time and energy to business and family and that this will keep everyone happy, it is a myth.

But the goal isn’t making everything 50/50 all the time. The goal is to give and receive in equal measure across the entire continuum of your life.

Lany Sullivan and I explore what reciprocity can really mean in your life and work in a recent Reach Connec Uplift Women interview. So much more than “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” transactions, it is about relationships and self care and connecting based on mutual recognition of worth. 

During that conversation we also refer to “ayni,” the Andean concept of sacred reciprocity. Eleanora Amendolara describes ayni in depth so you can embody this profound sense of equilibrium - internally, in relationships, and with the earth itself.

Good Medicine: Writing, Self Care, Reciprocity... and Support

My stepmom kindly recommended I take off my coat and get some work done while she took the kids for a walk.

Clearly I was exuding deadline stress, and I risked infecting everyone around me.

How could I be surprised that I couldn't get clear on my writing and I felt choked with "bad mom" guilt? I wasn't asking for the dedicated creative time I needed and so I was spreading myself too thin as I tried (and failed) to dot it all. 

I felt like a fraud, offering advice from and “I’ve got this” pulpit when I was actually just being a terrible, distracted house guest with a couple of needy dependents.

Gratefully, I took that gift of thirty minutes free of mom responsibilities to check back in with my real message, my lived experience, my own imbalance.

I think I found a story worth telling and I drafted a new container to tell it. And then I discovered the space to walk to the beach with my girls - twice.

3 Ways to Honor Your Writing Commitments & Other Deadlines During Times of Delightful Disruption (The Practical Guide) 

  1. Take the pressure off by featuring a guest post on your blog 3 Ways to Honor Your Writing Commitments & Other Deadlines During Times of Delightful Disruption The Practical Guide I’m honored to feature Karen Brody’s Exhaustion: It’s Time to Tell a New Story this week.
  2. Go back to the well: rework and repurpose past posts Because I’ve written posts on reciprocity and self care recently, I worried about insulting you with rehashes of the same topics. Thing is, I didn’t remember exactly what I had written, so how could you? In writing this today I realized how writing, balance, reciprocity, and self care are my signature topics and these explorations are just the beginning. What can you learn about your own work by examining and amplifying material from your archives?
  3. Keep it simple: think in lists, not in prose This is “do as I say, not as I do” advice today. What was meant to be a quick list of how to keep writing even with kids underfoot ended up becoming much more personal and involved than I had expected. But, if you can enter your next disrupted work week with a perspective on how you’ll integrate writing, self care, balance, and reciprocity, maybe you’ll be able to give yourself permission to write something quick, dirty, and helpful to your readers. After all - if you’re busy with kids underfoot, isn’t there a good chance they’re in the same boat and are also short on reading time?

Bonus Tip for Honoring Your Writing Commitments

Call on your writing coach for extra support. As a writing coach, I’m not a ghost writer who’ll put together a post for you, but I can help you plan your editorial calendar so you’re not working during your vacation. I can also help you implement the ideas in this post so you can develop a writing practice that truly serves you and your business.

Learn more about my writing coaching services.