Kristen Kalp - Writer, poet, business coach.

Ahoy there!

I’m Kristen Kalp, and I help people do the messy work of getting more & more alive — in business and in life — through articles, books, coaching — now booking for May! — and my podcast, That’s What She Said.

I dare you to join the free Fuck Yah Club, at which time I’ll send along a copy of Go Your Own Way: free yourself from business as usual and the latest issue of Fuck Yah magazine.

On silence: an urgent missive for your heart.

I’ve been crying and dismayed and despairing this week. Partly about the latest news, but partly because all those memes going around about silence finally got to me. You know the ones.

How your silence makes you complicit in X horror — where X = xenophobia, racism, sexism, police brutality, and/or the systematic destruction of endangered species, to name a few. How your silence means you agree with the atrocity of the week. How your silence means you’re bad/evil/standing on the wrong side of history/etc…

The introvert in me is appalled at the thought that my silence makes me a kind of monster.

My silence is many things, but it’s not monstrous, and my sense is that your silence is complicated, too.

My silence is trying to process vast volumes of information and sort the wheat from the chaff.

My silence is a conscious effort to keep from adding to the noise.

My silence is a result of trying to sort my knee-jerk reactions and emotions (ALL THE RAGE!) from my ability to find an action I can take, and then taking it. (No words necessary.)


Action can be completely silent.

For example: my donations and budget redirects are a few clicks a month and don’t use a single word. There’s no reason for me to tell you about them except to make a point right here, because your believing that you’re wrong/bad/useless/monster-y for being quiet hurts my heart and makes me cry as I’m typing right now.

— I’m heartbroken about the proposed budget cuts to the arts (issue). Also, I’m a member of the National Academy of Poets and will continue to throw money at them should the budget go through in the U.S. as proposed, which would lead to a 100%-ish drop in funding (silent action).

— I’m devastated by all the ways the new administration is trying to stop average people from accessing basic rights (issue). Also, I’m a member of the ACLU and make regular booster donations (silent action).

— I’m committed to giving more money to journalists and to the protection of the first amendment (issue), so I cancelled cable TV and signed up for 3 new magazine subscriptions and 3 newspapers instead (silent action).

I’m not broadcasting this stuff all over social media and using endless hashtags to promote my causes, but I’m still taking action.

Let’s not mistake silence on the internet for silence, period. And let’s not conflate silence with lack of action.

Entering into conversation in real life with those who do not agree with you (silence on the internet) is far harder than sharing a meme on the interwebs and going about your day (thus meeting your socially pressured ‘speaking out’ quotient).

I’m doing my best to sit calmly with the wild feelings of discomfort that come of trying to understand the viewpoints of the opposing side. I’m talking with people about sticky, uncomfortable topics laden with fear and rage, intertwined with religious belief and the thousands of assumptions that live within each of us, many of which we discover are tender only when they’re pressed. That’s slow, hard work for all of us.

Let’s not make up one more reason to shame ourselves because we aren’t doing enough, trying hard enough, or caring enough.

If you’re having conversations about issues you care about that make you uncomfortable; if you’re paying attention and doing your best to keep fear and rage out of circulation in the articles you pass along; if you’re rethinking your budget to pay for more of what you wish to see in the world and less of what you don’t; if you’re squeezing your spare cash into supporting the arts in literally any way, shape, or form; if you’re actively seeking a cause or causes to support, volunteer with, or help; then relax.

You’re not being the dangerous sort of doesn’t-give-a-shit silent. You’re not complicit in the take-down of humanity. You’re not doing it wrong.

You’re just not doing your work at TOP 10 LEVEL SCREAMING VOLUME. That’s okay. Volume is not an accurate measure of effectiveness.

If you’re a person who gets loud and screams from rooftops to bring about change, do that! I’m not into shaming of any kind, here — I’m just reminding the Quiet among us that Quiet does not in any way equal Monstrous.

It’s okay to take action in the ways best suited to your humanity.

Don’t stop. Don’t give up. Don’t fall into thinking that doing your part, however small or tedious or monotonous, doesn’t matter. Don’t start thinking that you have to start issuing rants and using at least 14 hashtags for your message to ‘count’ or to be heard.

Please don’t fall into believing that there’s a single, ‘right’ way to make a better world. We’re all making it together.

You are not required to share articles or memes or lectures or hashtags with the world in order to be heard. You can enter into conversation with those you love about issues on which you disagree, or make donations to causes you adore, or volunteer with an organization you dig, or reach quietly into your own soul and listen to what it asks you to do in the name of bringing all of us to a better world. And you can count that as enough.

…and if you’re so overwhelmed that you haven’t done a thing yet? Overwhelm is a terrible and insidious foe. Is there a single, small action you can begin to take today? Here are small, free places to begin.

+ Resist bot will send faxes to your U.S. Senators and Representative when you text it some basic information with a few sentences about what you want to say. You can text it daily with the issue of the moment, et voila! Tiny daily action!

+ This Rebecca Solnit essay will help you draw the line between optimism, pessimism, and hope, in ways you might not have considered before.

+ This blog helps you keep up-to-date on daily political goings-on without descending into a rabbit hole of utter despair and without rant-y political comments at the end.

+ The Small Victories newsletter updates you with good news, wins for the resistance, and a next-level GIF game once a week.

+ This podcast episode will help you reset yourself amidst all the ick and blah and gross! of the news in general.  or

+ Diversifying the voices you listen to can be massively helpful in shifting your perspective in secret, with podcasts and Instagram and books, and from the privacy of your own home.  That means Christians listening to Jewish podcasts and white people listening to black voices and males listening to female voices and on and on and on…you know where you block voices, and therefore you know where to begin listening. 😉  Or reading.  Or both.

Your quiet, your stillness, your thoughtful consideration, and your actions are needed. Please don’t let yourself believe otherwise.

With all my love –

P.S. Leaving the school of judgement is a process.  Also Introverts at Work is a fantastic book for aligning your Quiet self with your business-owning self.  Just sayin.’

You come to find your voice by speaking.

You come to find your voice by speaking

Not by planning to speak
or reading transcripts of speeches
or buying courses to make your voice sound best
when you finally open your mouth
at some point in the distant future.

You come to find your voice
by uttering the truest words you have
in any given moment.

I hurt.
I’m struggling.
I can’t.

The first words are the hardest.
You’ve been silent for so long.

I need help.
I want some more.
I’d like to try.

The words grow more precise and powerful.

I need.
I want.
I am.

You’ll waver, here: the world will say
you don’t have the right.

I need, I want, I am.
I need, I want, I am.

By now you’ve come too far to honor any sound
save the steady drumbeat of your own heart.

I am, I am, I am,
and you are, too.

I’ll read this poem aloud to you AND talk the vulnerability of joy, diving deep into your psyche, creating healthy boundaries, and the wisdom of puppies in this interview on the Love, Jo podcast with Joanna Platt.  Go and listen!

For the unsung voices among us.


In honor of Women’s History Month, a poem for the ones who came before.

Dear Grandma

You never once got to stand on a podium
and make everyone listen. You buried your husband
and your son, and you worked all day every day
until you retired to the old brown chair.
No one was ever weighed down by your opinions
or objections or your voice in the world.

You never once got to stand on a stage
and hear everyone’s ears turning toward you.
You never got to be paid for your work:
shuffling laundry and sons from the dresser to school,
burning a line between the sink and the stove
so deep you couldn’t see your way out.

Your husband married you not out of love
or even something like affection, but because your sister
was already taken, and then you settled down and lived
in the same house on the same plot of land
until the old brown chair got thrown out.
Now you sit in the nursing home asking

Where is he, why doesn’t he pick me up
and take me home. For the first time, everyone listens
and answers carefully — repeatedly, relentlessly —
but you can’t hear the truth. Your voice warbles
around the room and returns to you, confused:
Where are you, why don’t you pick me up and take me home.

P.S. More poems here, or in book form here.