⚡️Kristen Kalp - Soul care for you. And your business.

Ahoy there!

I’m a teacher, healer, and business coach who can help you create a life of meaning. My most 2020-friendly offerings are breathwork (if you’re overwhelmed by the world’s bullshit and just need a minute, pick up a class!) and 1-on-1 year-long business coaching (get dibs here).

If you’ve found that your screen time has gone THROUGH THE ROOF in the past few months, my Space course will help you cut your phone time by at least half.  It only takes 1 email a day for 21 days!

If you’re new, please start here so I can properly introduce myself.

If you ain’t got haters…

Today, a story about haters that shifted my perspective on allllll sorts of negative feedback, and I hope it does the same for you as well!

This is an episode of the That’s What She Said podcast, and is the third in our series about tools to defeat asshole brain.  We start when you interrupt the pattern and continue when you affirm that joy is not canceled.

And now, on to our story!  Katy is a KK on Tap coaching client, and we’re in The Speakeasy.  (That’s our twice-monthly meeting of KK on Tap peeps.  It’s not recorded, and thus has been deemed the speakeasy.)  Here goes:

There’s a guy.

He’s named Evan.

Evan works as a Resident Assistant (RA) at his university. He’s older than those college students living on the floor where he presides, and he’s there to provide extra support for his residents. That might be emotional, like helping them transition to college life, or simply physical, like letting them into their rooms if they lose their keys. He also enforces university rules, like making sure you’re not smoking or drinking in your dorm room.

Katy is Evan’s boss at this point. She’s in charge of all RA’s, and Evan is up for review.

She says, “You have this string of 1-star reviews and negative reviews. NO ONE is giving you positive feedback. Your residents don’t think you know their names, and they don’t think you’re taking good care of them. What do you have to say for yourself?”

Evan shrugs this critique off and says, “Well if you ain’t got haters, you ain’t poppin.'”

IF YOU AIN’T GOT HATERS, YOU AIN’T POPPIN.

This might be the most magnificent way of taking feedback and make it not matter at all that I’ve ever heard.

We are NOT taught this attitude when we’re being socialized as females. It’s not an attitude we have access to without definitive, and conscious effort.

We are taught that if you got haters…you got a serious problem.

Or if you got haters…you better watch yourself and shut the fuck up.

Or if you got haters…you better change everything you’re doing to accommodate those people who are giving you one-star reviews, even if they’re lying or taking advantage of you.

The truth is that if we can embrace this A BIT — not blowing off one-star reviews and refusing to learn people’s names — we can learn so much about our own vitality and resiliency.

Learning to embrace this attitude means you move through the world with less fear of having a voice.

We’ve all had an instance in which we use our voice to express ourselves.  AND THEN someone has some sort of feedback that is not 1000% positive/gold stars/a celebration of every moment of our being.  So we take that as a reason to shut up, shut down, stop communicating, and to stop advocating for ourselves.  Forever. 

We stop asking for help, asking for what we need, marketing our business, and to stop doing our truest work in the world.

Some critique is so powerful — and comes at us in such a way that we didn’t expect — that we can easily make having * a single hater*  the reason we sit down and shut our mouths forever.

It had never occurred to me that having haters could be a good thing, a wise thing, or a thing that we could laugh about!

Evan’s attitude helps us receive feedback without it meaning we’re ‘bad people’ or an asshole or some version of a person who doesn’t deserve to be alive. We can move through the self-flagellation stage to make changes, take critique, and do better.

Negative feedback does not mean you should sit down and shut up.

This also means that, if at some point in the future you get your FIRST hate mail — we can actually celebrate it. Because YOU. ARE. POPPIN.’ We had a lovely experience in the Speakeasy in which a client I’ve been working with for a few years got her first hate mail —
and
we
celebrated.

(This is not about saying some fucked-up/racist/sexist/homophobic shit and then getting away with it! I’m talking about the feedback that is clearly projection, that is untrue, that is unfounded, or that is blowing a tiny problem into a HUGE ISSUE THAT REQUIRES A REFUND AND AN APOLOGY AND A FRESH PUPPY HAND-DELIVERED IN A BASKET to make amends.)

[Edited to exclude: big-ass controversial rant only available in the podcast]

Further! The great misconception of the ‘if I sit down and shut up nothing bad will happen’ mentality is that, if we’re just ‘good’ enough and sweet enough and kind enough and perfect enough, no one will critique us. Ever. Again.

To this enormous-sack-of-shit falsehood that keeps us silent and compliant, I present the following counterargument: there were protesters at Mister Rogers’ funeral.

Mister. Rogers. Was not immune to haters.

Fred Rogers is one of the beacons of our time. If you’re unfamiliar, he hosted Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood for more than 40 years on public TV here in the States. He was a surrogate parent to millions of people, myself included, while advocating for young people’s thriving throughout his career. A journalist was sent to do a hit piece on him, and they became friends until his death. (Here’s the movie about that experience.)

How does a man like that get haters?

He was too kind.

Some people protested his life because he refused to condemn gay people to hell or to encourage some people to hate others because of their race.  HOLY SHIT FUCK THOSE PEOPLE, RIGHT????  And if he got protesters at his funeral…then haters can happen for any reason, to anyone, at anytime.

We can’t live in constant fear of those who disagree with us, or we’re adopting the ‘sit down and shut up’ model that keeps good, feeling, lovely people passive and complacent.

When we can carry within us just a little bit of that hater-poppin’ energy, we cultivate our resiliency.

Those who disagree with you, have critiques of you, or attack you are here to teach you something about resiliency. About not shutting up in the face of bullying, or passive-aggressive comments, or character attacks.

Don’t sit down.

Don’t shut up.

Keep doing your work.

And of course, cultivate your resiliency.

We cultivate resiliency through our work together in coaching, which lasts for a year. Why a year?

Because at 3 months you’re getting started and making tweaks, it’s a glorious time to be alive!

At 6-9 months, there’s often an issue or life event that causes you to lose momentum and question much of what you know about yourself, your life, and your work.

And somehow, mysteriously, by about that one-year mark — you rally. We rally. You’ve found your groove and you’re far less paralyzed by perfectionism and patterns of hiding you’ve developed over the years.

You’re also learning to ask for help and be supported, so your life opens up in ways that are both everyday and utterly profound over the course of our time together.

A year of working together gives you the space to try on new ways of being without keeping a tight time limit on life experiments.

It’s not — try this and see if it changes your life by next Thursday!!!!!

It’s — try this and see if it helps you do better over the course of the coming season. Then we check in, adjust, and keep going.

Deep work is not fast work. But deep work is the only way to make lasting change.

We all need support to do deep work, and I can help you do some deep work at this time.

Shoot me an email to ask for a coaching brochure: k@kristenkalp.com or fill out the form here.

May you use your voice to stand up against bullshit, wherever and whenever you find it.  And may you find the strength to voice the truth, no matter the consequences.

Love,

K

P.S. Be the human.

Joy is not canceled.

Have you ever had something that happened decades ago bother the shit out of you, and you can’t figure out why? Like, what’s wrong with you, you should ‘be over it by now’…? Let’s dive into my particulars and see if there isn’t a universal truth hidden in there, ’cause this came up for me recently and I’ll bet you’ve learned a similar lesson in your life.

This is an episode of That’s What She Said! This is the second in our series about ways to defeat asshole brain, starting with Interrupt the PatternAll the other podcast episodes live here.

The setting: it’s 1989. I’m in the third grade, and I’ve got to go to class with Mrs. Spisso.

Mrs. Fucking. Spisso.

Picture a shrill woman comprised entirely of sharp angles with half-moon reading glasses perched on her nose. Add a strong dislike for children and too many years working in the Mount Pleasant Area School District.

Now, give her the gifted students. Surely they will be easy for her to handle because they are smart! Surely they will keep her from screaming at all hours of the school day!

Our story proceeds.

I’m eight years old and we’re having class in the art room. I don’t remember what Mrs. Spisso is talking about because WE ARE IN THE ART ROOM. My favorite. The home of infinite messes, the sweet hum of scissors slicing construction paper, and those ginormous tubs of paste (worthy of quietly huffing when no one is looking) placed in pairs on each table.

We’re working on some project or another and I realize the room is hot. Really hot. The floor tiles look nice and cool, so I lie down on them. I remember feeling the floor underneath my body, all refreshing and shiny and soothing.

::tiny Kristen sighs contentedly::

All of a sudden, Mrs. Spisso screeches a flaming surge of words: WE DO NOT LIE ON THE FLOOR WE DO NOT ACT LIKE THAT EVER FOR ANY REASON WE ARE NOT ANIMALS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She goes on and on. I take my place on a stool and sit down, never to lie on the floor in school again.

I’ve carried that story around for years, always wondering why it hurt me so much. It was only being yelled at, right?  Get a friggin grip, it’s NOT A BIG DEAL.

In the larger arc of my life, though? 8-year-old me got the message that joy is canceled. Because joy lives in the body, and I abandoned my body that day. (It took me years to come back to the body itself, and here’s how I did it.)

Think about it: remember a moment of joy you’ve held onto in which you weren’t in your body.

Impossible, because joy lives in the body. Laughter lives in the body, as do orgasms, singing, dancing, and eating. That sunset you watched and loved. Those evenings with that person you love. The moments when you’ve laughed despite yourself — in school, at church, or when it was otherwise wildly inappropriate.

When we are chased out of the body, we lose most of our access to joy.

We are taught this at such a young age that we might not even remember losing our ties to what the body wants: You can’t do something just because it feels good! You can’t trust your body to want any of the things it wants, especially something as subversive and shocking as LYING ON THE FLOOR!

In other words: Joy! Is! Canceled!

In pictures after this time, you can see my body expanding from year to year. I ate more and more ice cream, ’cause that was a socially sanctioned way for me to enjoy life and be in my body. At the same time, I stopped trying to run around and do bodily things because the body can’t be trusted. Got that message loud and clear. And doing something because it feels good or might be pleasurable? NOT OKAY EVER.

Only.

Joy is not canceled. Ever. For any reason.

As unrest and bullshit and corporate thieving and intersecting systems of oppression make themselves more clearly pronounced around the globe, you might get the message that joy is canceled. That somehow you personally deciding to give up your joy, hope, and general enjoyment of life will make life for someone else better. That you don’t deserve access to any contentment whatsoever when there’s so much suffering in the world. Or you might fully disassociate from your body because this world we’re living in is too. damn. much.

Surely there’s something you can do, and if giving up feeling pleasure for life will help, then…you’ll give it a try? Please don’t.

Canceling joy is dangerous.

We humans have four base emotions: fear, anger, sadness, and joy.

Given enough joy stifling, we can easily reach a place in which we experience ONLY fear, anger, and sadness. That’s a brutal existence.

Refusing to feel the best of life does not save you from the worst of life.

Waiting for the other shoe to drop doesn’t stop it from dropping.

No matter where or how you’re working to make change — in your life, your community, your nation, and on this planet — joy is not canceled.

Your brain will say that you can’t POSSIBLY feel good things after reading the news. And there are lots and lots of shitty things to feel at this moment, that’s true. You don’t need me to list the ‘unprecedented’ levels of bullshit we humans are facing at this moment in time. There is much to do, to protest, to burn down, to fix, to change, and to re-imagine.

But life without joy — in which you tamp down, try to control, or even eliminate your own joy for the supposed sake of others — hurts your soul.

When you cancel joy, you are actively creating a future without joy in it. For you, and for everyone you meet.

When you deny yourself the pleasure of experiencing life’s good things — including rest — you have less juice for handling the bad.

When you refuse to feel the sun on your face or to notice that baby giggling over there, you’re creating a future for yourself without joy in it. When you don’t play along with the dogs running after balls and the kids running after ice cream trucks, you suffer.

The world has enough suffering.

Voluntary suffering in the form of foregoing joy does not and will not serve anyone. Ever.

Again: this doesn’t mean there aren’t hard things happening. Doesn’t mean there isn’t bullshit going on. Doesn’t mean we don’t keep signing and protesting and donating and fundraising and speaking up. Doesn’t in any way negate the fear, anger, and sadness of the human race.

Feeling joy in our bodies means we fuel ourselves with good shit so that we can better handle the bullshit.

When you take the time to fill up on the simple pleasures of being alive, you become stronger in the face of uncertainty, more likely to take actions that uphold positive change, and more open to the experience of life itself.

Refusing to cancel joy makes you far more resilient over time.

If there was a Mrs. Spisso in your life who made you shut down joy in any form, you can reclaim that goodness right now.

Over the years, which people or institutions have encouraged you to cancel joy? This includes restricting seemingly unrelated things like your movements and eating habits. Who has tried to stop you from singing, dancing, or speaking, whether publicly or privately?

Who taught you that the body can’t be trusted for the fulfillment of even its most innocent desires, like lying on the floor when it’s too hot?

Which people or societal systems discouraged you from resting or from enjoying the fruits of your labor?

Who taught you a productivity-above-all-else mentality that makes you try to ‘earn’ joy, push pleasure til later (never NOW), or assume you’ll access joy only when X happens? (Where X is become a millionaire, lose 30 pounds, or watch your last kid graduate high school?)

These are the roots of your asshole brain‘s battle with joy itself.

You don’t have to do anything with this knowledge except interrupt the pattern — i.e. catch your brain in the act of trying to cancel joy — and then choose a new mode of being.

Laugh with the babies.
Run with the dogs.
Soak in the sun.

Eat some ice cream.
Lie on the floor.
Take a nap.

Please choose to be here-on-earth-and-alive-despite-everything, over and over and over again.

Fight for your own soul’s aliveness by reclaiming joy, and then fight like hell for the liberation of every last being on earth. We will all be better for it.

And life?  It doesn’t count if you don’t enjoy it.

Love,
K

P.S. Speaking of liberation! Breathwork for Coping with 2020 is $33, and 50% of proceeds are being donated to Black Lives Matter. If you a.) think 2020 is bullshit and b.) want to show up in your life as a kinder, more alive human instead of a flaming cesspool of unfelt feelings, this class is for you.

If you’d like to reclaim joy starting right now, this breathwork class is the perfect place to start.

Interrupt the pattern.

Interrupt the pattern

Psst!  This is episode #225 of That’s What She Said, my podcast! Listen in below, or read on for a transcript-ish version of the goods. (The actual podcast involves raptors and fences and far more swearing and laughter!)

Like bajillions of people around the globe, I picked up a yoga practice during the pandemic.  I started practicing yoga with Jessamyn Stanley over at Underbelly Yoga, and WOW is she amazing.

Why is she so amazing? She’s good at teaching because she had to learn every part of each sequence in her body, and it wasn’t easy. She didn’t wake up in a teeny tiny, ultra-athletic body, good at every sport imaginable. In class, she talks about how for the first year of doing the pose she’s now modeling, she fell down. She makes no issue of needing to rest, of needing support, of needing modifications, or of otherwise listening to your body, because the whole point of class is to learn to listen to your body and push it to its own edges.

Here’s the great thing about having been chronically depressed (i.e. mentally ill) for most of my adult life: I CAN TEACH YOU SO MUCH ABOUT MANAGING YOUR BRAIN WHEN BULLSHIT NONSENSE FROM YOUR OWN INTERIORS TRIES TO TAKE YOU OUT OF LIFE ITSELF. 

Because I had to learn it.  Every bit of it.  I fell down, I got rest, I got supported, I learned stuff, and it was absolutely fucking miserable…until it wasn’t. Until I learned.  If I can save you even three minutes of the nonsense my brain has thrown at me for the past two decades, I’ll count it as time. well. spent.  For both of us.

Here’s the first tool: interrupt the pattern.

Your brain is an asshole, as we’ve talked about and talked about. But you might not know that yet, or you’ve forgotten after being locked down for months on end.  You might believe everything your brain has to say, and that’s precisely the place where we begin.

Interrupting the pattern means that you catch your asshole brain in action without believing a word it says.

This is step zero — as in, before step one, there’s step zero.  That means this tool isn’t particularly exciting and will feel completely inadequate. (A little like learning to do down dog properly in your late 30’s, and WOW you’ve been doing it wrong for 20 years.)

When your brain is being an asshole, it’s generally following a well-trodden road. That road is littered with phrases like, ‘Who are you to _____?’ and ‘You can’t possibly ______,’ and the old standards, ‘You’re TOO MUCH’ and ‘You’re NOT ENOUGH.’ Both/and, at the same time, because brains are awesome like that.

Again: interrupting the pattern means that you catch your asshole brain in action without believing a word it says.

That simple activity — catching your asshole brain in action — will start to remove its power over you. Your inner bully likes to run around, given free range inside your head, and when you stop it from moving about as it chooses, you begin to regain control over your mental health.

It’s not going to go down without a fight, though.

Asshole brain will kick up reminders of all the times you’ve failed to listen to your intuition in the past, reminding you that you’re a horrible degenerate fuck-up who won’t ever learn.

You’re not capable of changing. You’re useless. You’ll never learn. You should give up. Remember that time you were warned and did that stupid thing anyway??????

Asshole brain will present you with tremendously helpful stories of the past, like cataloging your failures one by one, over and over, while also providing endless reasons to give up in the present.

You’ve never done this before, why start now? You should be further along by now. You’re not qualified to do this. You’re not ready. You’re going to lose everything you love if you keep going.

Most commonly, asshole brain will take the worst case scenario all the way to its (illogical) end: you’re going to end up homeless, loveless, and penniless if you _______ [insert incredibly small task here].

Examples of that small task include: sending that email, talking to that person, failing to talk to that person, or asking for help.

Asshole brain also has a catalog of stories about what other people think of you or will think of you.

She’s jealous. He’s going to leave you. They’re spearheading a campaign against you. She’ll think you’re weak. He’ll think you’re too cocky. They’ll send you hate mail and you’ll never recover. You’ll die via mail bomb because your work is so controversial. Most recently: THE KARENS ARE COMING!!!!

Asshole brain is also really, really into asking you Uninteresting Questions.

‘What do they think of me?’ or ‘How do I compare to them?’ won’t take you anywhere interesting. ‘What’s wrong with this?’ will yield 3,427 unhelpful responses. ‘Why even try to [insert task here] during a pandemic…’ will only help you find all the ways you are useless, inept, inadequate, and otherwise unable to help at this moment.

What does asshole brain repeat to you, over and over again?
Where does it trip you up or convince you that you’re utterly broken?

Record the most common phrases your asshole brain uses so you can interrupt the pattern in the coming months.

When you can call out asshole brain — OH THERE YOU ARE I SEE YOU — you are then free to reorient your brain to a new pattern.

That pattern might be taking a few deep breaths
or refusing to believe that you are a useless piece of shit
or putting your phone away
or even, possibly, at some point…believing in your own abilities and power.

But first, it will be unpleasant bullshit that you hate doing, and you’ll see no point in it, because it’s easier to sink into the mud of nihilism and despair than to keep your soul alive. Particularly at this moment. Particularly when you can spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, tuned into the headlines, and the headlines are 1% good news and 99% END TIMES DEATH DOOM GIVE UP WHY EVEN BOTHER.

When you interrupt the pattern, you’re making progress. Even if it doesn’t feel like it.

Please go and practice interrupting the pattern.

When you are spiraling, when you are endlessly scrolling, when you are completely overwhelmed, when you are freaked the fuck out and sure you’re completely ineffective as a human because you haven’t managed to single-handedly stop rampant police brutality, systemic racism, and Covid-19…interrupt the pattern.

Breathe.

You don’t have to believe everything your asshole brain says.

And you can be of far greater service to the world when you learn to tame the beast within your own mind.

P.S. My business exists because of supporters and coaching clients.  If you benefit from my work and want to help me have exist in the world, you can become a supporter here.

If you’d like to learn more about year-long business coaching with me, email me — k@kristenkalp.com — and we’ll talk!

Today I started with nothing.

And so I took a walk,
greeting as many beings
as I could see:

rain, puddle, rose.

I drank deeply from the lilacs
and wondered at the tiny complex
reproductive organs of flowers
whose names I do not know:

nova, miracle, Wild.

I watched ants traversing canyons
of tree bark
In search of
I Do Not Know What:

sustenance, wandering, sweet.

(I didn’t have anything to offer
the water-soaked crow resting over there
and tried to not feel bad about my failing.)

(Human, human, human.)

At the last corner,
a pink bed of cherry blossom petals
strewn all over the sidewalk
to celebrate this homecoming:

You are here, you are here, you are here.

Air, sky, breath.

Alive.

Remember.
Alive.

P.S. We need this Note to Self now more than ever.

Let’s unlearn productivity, starting right now:

We are born into Not Enough.

Let’s storm the corporate castles
and make our meaning
from the world that already exists within this one —
the world in which the poems and paintings
and portraits and plants
count for something far more
than cash can ever provide —
the world in which our caring
is cause for celebration,
not another fucking commodity —
the world in which we take unlearning
productivity, perfectionism, and patriarchy
as seriously as we once took
wondering
whether we looked cute enough to leave the house.

P.S. Dig poems?  My book of poetry is pay-what-you-can priced.

(Also!  What you see burning in the featured image is a mix of everyday herbs similar to what would have been used by my way-back-wise-women ancestors.  The bundle was gifted to me by Bear Hebert, whom I interview about anti-capitalist business practices here.)