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, and my latest workshop, Brave.

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.

How to be 8 kinds of brave.

The clouds are miles thick. My voice is squeaky and ugly in that way it gets before I cry: “I just…think…my work doesn’t matter to anyone, and…”

“WAIT.” Ron pauses me there, halfway through my opening sentence, to say that without my work, he and his wife wouldn’t be doing what they’re doing. He tells me that even though we hadn’t met until 48 hours before, that he counts me as a rich blessing in his life, and that I’ve done more to change his life and his family than I can possibly imagine.

Before I can stop it, that sentiment rolls around the porch and everyone is nodding, telling their stories about me, tears leaking from their eyeballs and awash in love.

This should be a redemptive moment.

Oh, yes. Of course. My work matters.

This is not a redemptive moment.

I know that on the other side of these kind words, there’s a new challenge lurking, and it’s far bigger than anything I’ve done before. I don’t want to rest in these words — or even believe them — because I know they’re only setting me up for the Big Scary Thing that comes next.

The afternoon unfolds. Nick points out that I’ve been hauling around a pink Cadillac that used to run really well, but now I just drag it around by a rope and resent the shit out of it and vaguely ask people if they want to see it. But I don’t care about the Cadillac. I don’t WANT them to see it or care about it or ask about it. I want to tow the Cadillac to a cliff and throw it over.

“Yes,” I whisper. “Yes, that’s true.”

The Cadillac is rusted and smells funny like garbage left in the back seat after one too many late night fast food runs. It’s lost its transmission but it’s all I have.

The words stop. I don’t know how to explain the weight of having gone for it — of having seen and then created something that left me physically, emotionally, and financially bereft. One three-day event cost me over $43,000 in debt, my marriage unraveled as it was coming to fruition, and I lost all the momentum I’d worked so hard to earn for the five years preceding it.

As tragedies go, it wasn’t brain cancer or an untimely death, but it was a shit-ton of financial pressure, the ongoing panic of debt, and a divorce. Not too shabby, eh?

I don’t have the strength to say the next words: I’m scared to try again. Scared to bring something new into the world, only to have a tidal wave level everything I thought could work, leaving a wake that takes years to pull myself out of, again. (Mostly I’m scared of the again.)

I feel arms around me, deep breaths steadying me so I can say those things.

I’m scared.
I’m so scared.
I can’t breathe.

I can’t do that again. I can’t.

“What if you don’t have to do that again? What if that’s done,” they ask.

I shake my head, tears streaming.

I don’t know.

I don’t know how it will be if it doesn’t fail, if I don’t lose, if it goes according to some sort of plan that doesn’t mean I come up as a failure in the final score.

Morgan throws around the word ‘prophetess’ and other spiritual titles that feel close-but-not-perfect and exactly too big, like wearing my Dad’s boots felt at age 3.

I don’t want to be a shaman-goddess.
I don’t want to be a prophetess.

I just want to stop hauling the Cadillac around and see what happens next. I look around the circle and see love reflected in so many faces, each one present and feeling and lit up with the goodness we seek in humanity but only find when we stop watching the news and start looking each other in the eyes.

Bear points out that the sun has come out while my tears are drying. We hug, my eyes still streaming steadily.

Nick pulls me into the other room and is ferocious with the feelings that need to go, helping me put it all down: the fear, the bitterness, the resentment, the untold anger at the ways life didn’t turn out. The betrayal of my own vision, the lost relationships, the ways I thought I could do better and didn’t. The people I’ve used as placeholders for hate. The tired dregs of fear that haunt me like ghosts when I have the audacity to even think about starting something new.

I lean on those shoulders and fall completely, utterly apart. We are in the middle of the dining room and my snot is running everywhere, that beloved voice rubbing my back and saying, “It’s going to be okay,” over and over and over again.

I cry for what feels like years.
I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe, until suddenly I can.

I can let this thing I’ve made go.
I can put down the fear and resentment and all the baggage that’s been so heavy for so long.

I can begin again.

So begins my own brave story, and the ways YOU can be brave in everyday life.   Turns out there are 8 of ’em!  Boundary brave, feelings brave, possibility brave, connection brave, communication brave, sense-of-self brave, calendar brave, and daily brave.  YAH THAT’S A LOT OF BRAVE.  But it helps to break ’em down, ’cause then you don’t get to tell yourself you’re not brave, period.

Give this episode of That’s What She Said a listen — and nab your ticket to Brave by January 31st to get Early Bird Pricing!

P.S.  You know I have a podcast, right?  Here are the top 10 episodes as decided by listeners.

How to have a perfect launch.

1.) Give up on having a perfect launch.

Things are going to go wrong, and all you can do is roll with the punches as gracefully as possible. I say this not with dismay or sarcasm, but with the acknowledgment that life is imperfect.

Preparing for imperfection means your day won’t be ‘ruined’ by a glitch or two.

Last week’s launch of Calling to the Deep, Introverts at Work, this new website, the free-for-you Fuck Yah magazine, and the Brave workshop went off without a functioning Paypal account to take the monies. My selling Art for Aleppo raised a red flag that required further investigation for weeks(!!!!).  The launch also happened without a new e-mail address, since getting a fancy one proved to be a multi-week saga that still hasn’t ended and that involves working closely with Google’s tech support in a never-ending game of phone tag because they call from Malaysia every night after I’ve gone to bed. Oh, and one book wasn’t ready to go until the actual day of launch, and I was pretty sure I couldn’t make it happen at all.

Are those circumstances ideal? Nope. But I could still take credit cards. I still had the old e-mail address. Cutting it close still counts as ‘done.’ I launched.

2.) Aim for way, way more than you think you can handle.

Part of the goal of a launch is to push yourself and your own work further than you thought possible. (I mean, sales. It’s totally about the sales. Nothing spiritual going on in your business at all…)

Aim for a big, crazy-ass goal that will feel like winning the lottery to hit. When I decided to publish two books in print on the same day that I announced a new workshop, a tiny magazine, and my new website, I figured I could hit 4 out of 5 and feel pretty freaking great about life.

When I hit all 5 — Calling to the Deep went live at 10:35 a.m. on launch morning — I cried. Some part of me believed I could do it, many parts of me were Unreasonable, and the small, quiet bits of me that secretly believed it would never happen were put in their respective places. BOOM take that, asshole brain.

3.) Tend a list of ALL the to-do’s like it’s your freaking job. (Because it is.)

When you’re going to launch a thing — whether book, class, program, service, or product — there are physical world tasks that must happen to bring it to fruition. Your natural inclination will be to hide those tasks from yourself because they’re totally and completely overwhelming.

The opposite of hiding will be the most helpful: make a list of every last thing that has to be done, then plow through the list with all your might.

From ‘write blog post’ to ‘update Facebook page tab’ to ‘e-mail Sarah and Morgan to ask for feedback,’ every single task I had to complete before the big day was on the list. I scheduled every single task in advance, making enough time to take care of each one instead of letting the to-do’s pile up and drown me.

4.) (Keep giving up on the perfect launch and) shift list tasks to ‘later’ as launch approaches.

There are things that MUST be done before launch day, and things it would be nice to have done before launch day. When you can draw a distinction between the two, you shift stress off your plate at a rapid pace.

Did I have to have plane tickets to attend Brave booked before launch? No. ::moved task to post-launch::

Did I have to have the Brave venue contract signed and confirmed? Yes. ::got it done::

5.) Take time to plan the way you want your DAY to go.

It’s easy to let the LAUNCH part of the day take over, but it’s still a day. You would have cake and maybe 3 balloons at a corporate job on the day of a big project’s launch, so you owe yourself AT LEAST that much!

Do you want to sleep in? Go out for breakfast? Make pancakes at home? Take an extra 20 minutes with your coffee before you dive into the internets?

Do you want to cover the house in balloons or flowers or confetti or all three? What do you want your house to wear for the occasion? What do YOU want to wear for the occasion?

Who do you want to have on call to support you? To celebrate with you? To bring you snacks and make sure you actually hydrate and eat food instead of spending nine continuous hours staring at a screen without a pee break?

How do you want to make the day special from all the others so it isn’t lost in a long line of sleepless nights and eyes-glazed-staring-at-laptop days? How do you want to feel on the day your work comes into the world?

In other words: how do you want to remember the day everything changed, for you?

Acting like a launch is just another day at the desk does you a great disservice. This is not any other day, no big deal, whatevs it’s just this little thing you did.

A launch is a big deal and should be treated as such.

6.) Leave room for magic, too.

I decorated the whole house with giant gold ribbon and tassel garlands and flowers and cleaned every room from top to bottom (with Bear’s help) in the days before launch. I threw copious amounts of confetti — most of which is still trapped between the floor boards — when I hit the ‘IT’S ALIVE’ switches.

Bear and I went into the city to wander in the afternoon because I wanted to see what would happen if we let magic lead instead of making a reservation somewhere for dinner.

We ended up stumbling into Shane’s, which has actual drinking chocolate made by hand for you in tiny delicious quantities (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), and is more like tumbling down a secret rabbit hole into 1937 than simply consuming a fancy beverage.

From there, we wandered over to City Tavern, where we found what might be the city’s only harpist performing in authentic colonial garb. Turkey pot pie and Thomas Jefferson’s favorite sweet potato biscuits accompanied by colonial harp! It was far more spectacular than any day I could have scheduled via meticulous research and the endless reading of Yelp reviews.

7.) (Keep letting go of the perfect launch and) thank everyone.

Whether peeps are sending you typos or small errors to correct (hint: they will) or showering you with praise, thank ’em. Thank your peeps for paying attention to you, for helping you make your project happen, or for being along for the ride. I used this service to shower my peeps with gifts on launch day.

Don’t forget to shower yourself with thanks, too! You’ve shown great discipline and nearly boundless faith in your work while you brought the project to fruition.


Yah, I know it didn’t go perfectly and you could have done X better and next time you’ll kill it on the Y front, but DAMMIT YOU DID IT.

Whether your reward is time alone or away from work, a new purchase of some kind (I’m installing 20 yards of pom-pom tassels in my car), a big fancy dinner, a trip to a new locale, or a not-yet-invented extravaganza involving a laser light show and trained aardvarks — reward yourself.


No if’s, and’s, or but’s, no berating yourself for the ways it’s wrong…you did it.

With all my love —

P.S.  What no one tells you about owning a business.

How to be Unreasonable

It wasn’t until I was about two weeks away from launching this new website, two books, the Brave workshop, and Fuck Yah magazine into the world that I considered what a terrible, stupid thing I’d done.

“Um…I think I took on too much.”
“…ya think?”

::awkward silence followed by eyes brimming with tears::

Luckily, I DID IT. While I’m by no means through this particular bout of being unreasonable — it being launch day and all — I can tell you a little bit more about my good friend and conspirator, the U-word.

Unreasonable-with-a-capital-U works on a few basic principles and is capable of surprising you with the magnitude of your own accomplishments.

First, being Unreasonable takes faith.

Can you do it? YUP.

Your friends and loved ones will look at you funny. Even your best friends might say you’re trying to do way too much. Only you know the difference between Horribly Busy with No Real Deadline and Getting Shit Done in the Name of Being Unreasonable. When you’re working in the latter mode, ignore the naysayers and clear your calendar.

You. Can. Motherflipping. Do. It.

There is no other option.

Now what?

Being Unreasonable takes a bright vision.

I want a shelf full of books with my name on them. So, I fought the ever-present impulse to delete absolutely everything I’ve ever written and start from scratch with absolutely nothing. I retooled, revised, and reformatted my heart out in order to bring you Calling to the Deep: business as a spiritual practice and Introverts at Work: selling and marketing alternatives for Quiet entrepreneurs in paperback form.

What is it you want to leave behind when you leave the planet? That’s the basis of a bright vision, and this That’s What She Said podcast episode will help you figure it out.

Being Unreasonable takes a great deal of prioritizing.

I prioritized nutrition and sleep over getting every last teeny tiny technical detail taken care of, so if you find a wrinkle or 23, that’s to be expected. Perfection doesn’t exist, and none of what I’m producing is even close to it, but my vision has come to fruition and is officially in the world. The tweaking I have to do when the work is public doesn’t scare me as much as never having found the courage to put out in the first place.

Where are you letting what you say you want be overshadowed by perfectionism? The 6-people principle can help you sort that out.

Being Unreasonable takes other people.

I asked Bear (that’s my partner, also known as Steve) to call Paypal when my account was shut down for selling Art for Aleppo. Apparently the word Aleppo is regulated by the federal government and alerts the FBI, or something? That’s still not cleared up, but here I am, launching anyway…

I pushed as much work as I could to my graphic designer, to my photographer and perfection porn maker, and to the only e-mail company who migrates your lists for you. I asked a friend to help me set up my new e-mail address — and then to contact the appropriate places when that proved to be harder than programming missiles, which is what he does for a living.

Basically, I gathered the troops and asked them to help and asked them to help and asked them to help. It’s excruciatingly difficult, but I got the help I so desperately needed.

Where are you willing to ask for help in the name of getting your Unreasonable tasks accomplished?

Being Unreasonable takes complete honesty.

I don’t have the (completely enviable) energy of superstars who can push new things out with great fanfare, complete with launch design and strategy that rolls out over the course of three or four jam-packed weeks. I have wretched and predictable Seasonal Affective Disorder, which comes in and layers itself on top of my depression every single winter. This year is no exception.

Doesn’t mean I’m not excited about my work. Doesn’t mean I’m not absofuckinglutely THRILLED to have you here.

::waves and throws confetti in your general direction::

Just means I’m being honest when I admit I don’t have the energy to do continuous launch-y cartwheels in order to get your attention. Rather than waiting until the sun appears sometime in June to make this new and delightful work happen, I have to ask for your help instead.


First! Pick up your copy of Fuck Yah magazine.  Issue #1 is all about being Brave, and it’s included in your free membership in the Fuck Yah Club.

Next! Grab a ticket to Brave. It’s the best 2-day workshop experience I can dream up for finding ways to be a bigger, more Unreasonable human, and it takes down along the shores of my beloved Laguna Beach. The ticket price is as cheap as I can make it while still making a living doing this teaching thing, so plop down your $69 deposit and make it happen!


1.)  First!  The goal here is to get you to be Brave-with-a-capital-B and share the deepest, truest parts of you that have come to life as a result of coming in contact with me/my work.

The hard facts are great (doubled your wedding bookings!) but I’m also looking for the Big Stuff. What parts you were hiding or ignoring or neglecting or unaware of? How did I help you listen to your deepest truth and identify the steps to move in that direction? What shifted? How are you different? How has working with me impacted your life? What does that change mean to you? (If you make yourself cry, you’re 90% of the way there.)

2.) Share your tiny endorsement-story with the hashtag #KKBRAVE on Instagram or Facebook. That’s ONE entry!

2.)  Share the hashtag #KKBRAVE with a tiny endorsement *AND* A TINY VIDEO OF YOU THROWING CONFETTI — and you get FIVE additional entries in the contest.

Confetti can be recycle bin leftovers or tiny pieces of scrap paper or your paper shredder’s leftovers.  We’re aiming for joyous, not fancy!

3.)  Keep entering, keep tagging, and share that shizzy all over the place!  I’ll choose a winner at 10am ET on 1.19.17.

Finally, if you can’t make it to California, I’ve got 3 2 biz coaching spots open starting in February.  Just 3 2, so check out dominatrixing if you want to grow your business by leaps and bounds (or start a new project/venture) in February.

Thank you for your bright faith, friend. I’m so glad to have you here.

May you be more and more Unreasonable as the years go on, and may that spirit help you grow infinitely more alive with each passing moment.

With all my love —