work journal

Podcast interview: Northstar Unplugged

May 1, 2023

When I met Kristen Rainey last July at Bozeman Green Drinks, the Gallatin Valley Land Trust and OBoz deck was busy with the chatter of networking. Kristen, who's taller than me, bent her head slightly toward me as we talked, focusing on the conversation. Her silver earrings swayed in the evening heat.

As she asked questions, Kristen quickly got to the crux of things for me: While time wasn't as overfull as it HAD been for me, it was still too full for me to actually sleep much. There was parenting small children, working with clients, climbing as much as possible, and tending our garden, land and donkeys. That equation actually balanced. But there was one more thing.


I've been a writer as long as I can remember. And my best writing necessitates flow state. To access flow, I need a clear plate, something I find mostly when everyone else is sleeping. 

A former leader of sustainability and procurement in Google's food program and college athlete, Kristen was no stranger to long days, and now as CEO and founder of the Northstar Sleep School, she demystifies the art and science of sleep through one-on-one and team coaching, and her podcast Northstar Unplugged. 

When I met Kristen, I'd just finished a major reporting project and was still on deadline with a handful of writing projects. The ability to stay up until 1, 2, 3 or even 4 a.m. was something I drew on regularly to get it all done. 

I was already considering stepping away from deadline-driven writing and reporting. And talking to Kristen really nudged me in that direction, helping me realize that to be the person I want to be, I need to sleep. 

Since then, I've begun tracking my sleep and nutrition, both of which have been eye-opening motivators to help me live a healthier life, so ultimately I can contribute my best self. I have more work to do, but I'm excited about my progress and to have the accountability of sharing it here. 

Thank you, Kristen, for that initial nudge, for the conversations that followed, and for having me on your fantastic podcast.

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