Kristen Kalp - Writer, poet, and business coach.

Ahoy there!

I help creative peeps and entrepreneurs connect to their truest selves through writing, breathwork, books, and business coaching. 2 coaching spots in 2018 remain.

⚡️ Please start here so I can properly introduce myself! ⚡️

Embrace the Mystery ⚡️ M-School #4

In today’s installment of M-School (catch up on episodes one, two, and three), we’ll wander in the Forbidden Forest to face uncertainty, doubt, and wonder in their natural habitat. Hard questions, brutal truths, and more muggle-y stuff like finding ideal clients and selling naturally will be tackled as we make more room for your particular magic in business.

We hate mystery unless it’s in a movie we’re watching or a book we’re reading. In real life, particularly in our own lives, we want to be 100% clear, certain, and precise all the time. That means we never wander in the Forbidden Forest, exploring the many creatures and wonders that live there full time. We stick to the manicured grounds of our own psyches, fearing the weird, crazy, amazing, terrible, and horrifying things that live just beyond the darkness of those trees.

Today, let’s face three inhabitants of the Forbidden Forest in a row: uncertainty, doubt, and wonder.

First up: uncertainty.  Often, you know what you really want. You don’t know about your second-tier or third-tier wants, which is when life gets confusing. You know you don’t want to keep your partner, but you don’t have anyone else in mind, so you stay. You know you hate your job, but you don’t have another one lined up, so you stay. You don’t know what you want to do next in your business, so you keep doing what you’ve been doing and hoping your negative feelings about it will change.

You know that you want to leave, to move, to shift. Take that step.

Uncertainty thrives when you pretend you don’t hear that inner voice, or that you aren’t strong enough to take that step.

I knew I needed to leave my marriage YEARS (like, EIGHT of them) before I actually did, because I was so afraid of what would happen after I said I wanted to be by myself. Would I be alone for the rest of my life? Would everyone make fun of me for having a failed marriage? Would I be able to pay the rent and all the bills by my lonesome?

The questions went on and on, and I took lots of time pretending I didn’t know the next step in my marriage, but I did. I knew it was time to leave. Eventually, I listened. Then, I pretty much sat on the couch for six months. Which brings us to silence and stillness.

The next step — the one you long to know, that comes after your current state and the shift you know has to happen — will only reveal itself in the SILENCE AND STILLNESS BETWEEN ditching the current thing and the moment the next thing arrives.

Without the silence and stillness — the time to deeply reconnect with yourself and your life — you can’t expect any deep revelations to make themselves known.

When your body and intuition and magic are clearly telling you they want you to stop doing something, to leave something, to get out of something, or to stop giving attention to something or someone, that’s the next step.

You rarely get two steps delivered to you, only one.

So, we need to find your one.

What do you need to quit, leave, stop, finish, or end?

The first answer is the right one. You can immediately feel shame, guilt, or fear at the first answer, then try to come up with a second or third one and pretend that was the first, but I’ve been doing this for enough years to know.

Again: the first answer is the right one. Listen to yourself and to your magic.

Keep listening below:

P.S. Related: vulnerability 101.  Catch up on M-School installments 1, 2, and 3.

Heal the Horcruxes ⚡️M-School # 3

Here’s an excerpt from today’s podcast, Heal the Horcruxes, part three of M-School.  Here are parts one and two.

The most common horcrux in the world is MORE.

…and where you can see and then learn to put down all the ways you’ve fallen for ‘More,’ you can choose to pick up ‘enough.’

When we talk about having enough, we’re talking about realizing our place in the world. If you’ve ever been on a plane, you’re among roughly the wealthiest 1% of the world’s population in all of time.

Lemme repeat: if you’ve ever been on a plane, you’re among the wealthiest 1% of the world’s population.

So when we talk about more, and we talk about enough, we’re splitting hairs about your relative wealth. By virtue of your reading this, you can count yourselves as one of the wealthiest humans ever to have lived on the planet, even if you don’t have a collection of $7,000 handbags or seventeen cars or a squadron of hired help to dress you, bathe you, feed you, and transport you.

Of course, knowledge of this particular status doesn’t mean you feel wealthy: I certainly don’t, particularly when I’m strolling the streets of Paris and see bags in shop windows that cost more than my car. (And, let’s be honest, the total value of every car I’ve ever owned.)

Nor am I saying you should feel guilty about all you have: again, I don’t. I’m simply pointing out that in the whole great, vast and wide world that is your life, your ability to have traveled on a plane puts you in a class of people who are the cleanest, healthiest, and wealthiest the world has ever known.

You already have immense privilege, whether you acknowledge it or not. So, what will you do with it?

Most people will choose to pursue more money. Indefinitely.

More money, more money, more money, more money, more money.

It’s not particularly interesting, and it means your house will be filled with things and stuff, but it’s what the world offers. Shiny objects, writ larger and larger until the whole world is encrusted with crystals and diamonds.

From this perspective, there will never be enough money. Not ever, even for a minute, even if you’re a multi-billionaire.

You can choose to find your way to a place of enough.

From that place — in which your bills are paid, your heat is on, your food is relatively healthy and your safety is not at risk — you’re free to pursue more meaning, more time to yourself, more travel, and more creative projects.

More unplugged time.

More mornings in Paris.

More donations to charity.

More time with the people you love most.

More freedom, more spacious living, more adventuring that could go horribly wrong and leave you with malaria in a country where you speak none of the language.

More risk. More croissants. More Italian cookies.

More isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just that pursuing more money and only more money precludes your pursuit of other things that are much, much more interesting.

Like more connection.

More time to read.

More minutes in bookstores, wandering around with no particular place to be.

More mornings to sleep in and get dressed when you feel like it.

There’s a wealth of time and energy available to you that isn’t visible when you’re exclusively pursuing more money.

One afternoon, you might find yourself in Paris, sipping coffee and watching the world go by, and you might let your gaze wander from one person to another with Notre Dame in the background, and you might lose your breath in the wonder of being so very lucky to have chosen to pursue all the mores that are inherently risky, and you might breathe deeply in the knowledge that you, lucky human, already have everything you need.

I tell you this not to lecture you or to point out that OH DEAR GOD YOU LUCKY BASTARD HOW DARE YOU MAKE MORE MONEY, but to share that on the other side of ‘enough,’ we don’t really have a blueprint for how things are done.

When it comes to modeling generosity in business, we have a whole lot of fluff: peeps who give way less than 1% of their net profits to charity and call themselves philanthropists. Peeps who give to charity as absolutely nothing more than a strategic move to get press. Peeps who align with nonprofits to make themselves look good/prestigious/caring, but who don’t give a damn about the organizations themselves.

When we want to figure out how to give money away through our businesses without using it as the crucial key to our respective strategic plans, we have very few role models.

I’m going to share the few examples that I have, and then invite you to share yours, and then maybe we can figure some shit out together about what it means to have enough and then do some good, interesting shit in the world with our enough-ness.

First: a dude named Rob Bell sells tickets to 2-day workshops. He sells them out every time, for every date he announces, and I notice over the years that the price goes from $500 to $400 to $300 without his saying a word. Clearly, demand isn’t a problem, so the price should stay steady, if not increase significantly. But he lowers the price, sells out each event, and keeps on doing his thing. On his birthday, he asks people to give to charity: water and raises over 100 grand.

Second: a dude named Bob Goff dedicates 100% of his book proceeds to the charity he founded. When it’s a NYT bestseller, he just does dances and gets excited and keeps on building schools all over the world with the hundreds of thousands of dollars he’s created.

Third: a group of influential people headed by Glennon Doyle get together and ask for peeps to donate $25 or less to help with the refugee crisis in Syria. Within 30 hours, $1.3 million is raised. They dance and high-five and keep doing their work in the world.

I want to live in a world where we see peeps selling out event after event and they choose to LOWER ticket prices as a result. I want to live in a world where big checks are siphoned off to nonprofits because the entrepreneur behind the business has enough, and where books fund movements and change and nonprofits as well as letting authors eat and sleep and live.

I want to live in a world where the whole world speaks the language of kindness and of giving instead of building endless, tedious and precarious staircases to MORE.

That’s why 25% of breathwork profits are donated to Together Rising and/or Flying Kites on a monthly basis.

That’s why Steer Your Ship funds the education of a teen in Bangladesh who wants to (escape child marriage and) be a doctor through Speak Up for the Poor.

That’s why my biz has donated over $25k to Flying Kites over the years.  (You can hear my interview with founder Leila DeBruyne — episode #49 — here.)

Because more isn’t interesting, and enough allows for a world of possibilities that only open when we pay close attention to what inspires us and heals us and makes us believe hope is real and humanity is good.

Your turn to play with the possibilities:

I used to want to make ___________, but really I want to make ___________ and maybe even _________.

I don’t care about ______________anymore.

I spent ______________ years pursuing __________, and that’s done now.

When I feel like a failure, I beat myself up with ______________________’s success.

I’m tempted to abandon my work and take up _____________________ when my dementors come out.

Again, this was an excerpt!  Listen to the whole podcast episode here:

Catch up on M-School, magic school for entrepreneurs!  Episode 1 lives here and episode 2 lives here.

P.S.  This episode digs into making more space and how you want to feel — and if you want to break up with your phone and feel less like your phone is tethered to you 24/7, Space can help.  It’s a 21-day e-mail class that helps you slowly, patiently untangle your relationship with your phone.  And cut your screen time in half, which frees you up to reach your enough-y goals like donating shittons of money to charity. 😉

👩🏻‍🚀 Check out Space, then join the class.

Deal with Dementors — ⚡️M-School #2

This is M-School installment #2!  The first one lives here.

When you begin to back off on the shoulds that you’ve been feeding on, there will be varying degrees of chaos. If you aren’t pursuing that thing and those things and you admit that you no longer care about alllll that, you’re left with a bunch of dead, spindly creatures who haunt you like crazy.

Dementors.

Whether they take the form of something simple, like creating a social media account you have no interest in populating with stuff, or something far more complex, like creating a whole business around the things people said you should do “because you’re really good at them.”

Whether they led you to the wrong relationship or simply led you to the wrong yoga class, don’t beat yourself up about the time you’ve wasted.

Simply acknowledge the shoulds that you’ve shucked off, and then notice how they swirl around angrily when you take back your freaking power. They’ll never stop coming. They’ll grow wiser and more subtle with time, as they learn that you’re on to them.

And you, magical friend, will see them coming and do your level best to keep plucking them from your life and putting them in timeout.

Other activities will rush in like the waters moving to high tide, pushing and pushing you to either revive the dead creatures or to invite more into your life. Compromise will run strong, like letting your Twitter feed post to Facebook instead of simply deleting the account. Maybe marriage counseling will take the 8th time you try, or maybe cheese will stop giving you diarrhea if you only eat it on Tuesdays.  At 7:32 p.m..

The dead shoulds — dementors — are wily and devious and desperately want you to stay linked to a half life.

It’s your job to make space. To actively cultivate rooms in your emotional interiors (closely related: internal goals) where ideas and dreams and pursuits can begin to grow, without letting the dementors of all your dead shoulds morph into similar-but-different pursuits.

Making space is the hardest part.

The dementors will immediately want to replace your thigh gap aspirations with a new *healthy* organic gluten-free sugar-free vegan diet, and your 7-figure business aspirations with a mere high six-figure income and a house in the Bahamas, and your complete lack of giving a shit about makeup with a newfound interest in moisturizer and skincare instead.

Making space means you recognize these dead, spindly creatures’ respective grips on your heart.

Making space means you can see that the vegan diet will only replace constant exercise as a means of striving for perfection, or that the peace you seek isn’t tied to money, or that your skin really is fine without a 43-minute nightly routine.

It’s your job to give yourself the time and resources for absolutely nothing to happen.

Clearing the rubble of the shoulds takes time, and it’s far more important for you to see the dementors at work than to plop new dreams into the soil and hope they take.

If you don’t make space, you can’t make peace with all the ways unicorn blood has had its way with you. You’ll simply fall victim to the dementors instead, and that will be far worse.

Making peace comes after making space.

Of course, when you make space, the dementors will get INFINITELY louder. Infinitely, like, you’ll have nightmares in which your life implodes due to your decision to stop making a product, stop offering a service, draw boundaries around your time or your business, or otherwise let space for the next thing to appear actually exist.  (Related: Space is a class for breaking up with your phone!)

You’ll have REALLY GREAT IDEAS that you would have killed for a month ago, but that are no use to you once you’ve decided to give up [that thing you used to do] forever.

Personally, my dementors have tortured me with dreams about being far, far under the ocean and watching the waves crash down while I’m in a glass house, hoping like hell that the glass holds because a crack in it means instant death. They’ve also left me stranded on the sides of roads in the dark in foreign nations, and my relationships have fallen apart in my nightmares, and I’ve felt horribly, utterly alone and have come back from the dream in tears.

It’s just the dementors, doing their best to keep me from making it to the peace beyond them.

Peace comes from sitting with the space you’ve made on car rides and between rounds of checking email, fiercely guarding the rooms where dreams are made.

One day peace will hit when you’ll realize you really don’t want 14 hours of each day to be scheduled, which is the other side of the 7-figure business, and you really can’t stand fake cheese because you miss the real thing, so why would you ever have tried that vegan diet?

Whatever it is that seemed so alluring will suddenly, swiftly, lose its appeal entirely. Forever. And you’ll have killed another dementor for good.

My own (waking) dementors in business have included, but are not limited to:

+ Making a collective out of my business instead of keeping it a solo endeavor in order to seem more friendly,
+ creating a giant, scalable group program that will make me millions at once in order to never have to worry about money again,
+ launching programs with flare, verve, intense energy, videos, jazz hands, and copious amounts of sales pressure in order to drive numbers up,
+ hiring a team to grow the business in order to be seen as a ‘team player,’
+ keeping an expensive but secluded office outside my home in order to seem more professional,
+ and avoiding swear words and personal stories on the blog — again, in order to seem more professional.

To be clear: these dead shoulds are a far cry from the projects I’ve undertaken with wholehearted enthusiasm and then biffed on or messed up or otherwise bungled. There are plenty of those, but at least they came from the deep parts of myself that needed to try or they might have imploded.

Shoulds brought to their fullest manifestation don’t provide any deep-seated fulfillment or meaning, because they were never your dreams to begin with.

It’s only after you achieve a few that you can begin to identify their patterns, see them more clearly, and otherwise call them out as they approach your to-do list.

Dementor patterns at work:

– That seems awful, but it works for her.
– I hate [insert social media platform here], but ______ says I should.
– She seems to be really good at getting people to buy using that app/plugin/trick/technique, so I’ll use that, too.
– Nothing is working so I guess I’ll try his/her way?
– I *hate* doing this, but it’s the only way.
– He/she/they will like me if I _________, so I’ll start _______ing.

Once you’ve hunted down your dead shoulds, it’s up to you to remember.

Remember who you were before you bought into someone else’s ideas for your best life.

You know what to do. You know that time is your currency and that being scheduled for the next six months, day in and day out, physically gives you hives, so you stop trying to pack each day with unlimited productivity. You know that you’re horrible at DIY technical things, so you stop trying to do it yourself. You know that you’re not a team player, so you pursue your solo projects with renewed joy instead of trying to hire a bunch of people who don’t drive you crazy.

You stop doing it all yourself because you know you need help. You do it all yourself because actually, you love doing it and you have the time. (Both have been the case for me, at different times over the past nine years.)

You have seasons.
Your life has seasons.
Your business has seasons.

The ‘shoulds,’ dead or alive, don’t have a place in any of those seasons.

They divert your time, energy, and money to places you’d rather not go. Real life example: I’m terrified of Tokyo’s subway — like watching videos of the pusher people designed to shove more humans onto the cars makes me break out in a sweat — and so I’m not going to use my resources to go to Tokyo. I’m not giving my days or dollars or daily steps to Tokyo. Ever.

Tokyo is easy for me to deny. You’ve probably got a similar place that zero percent appeals to you even though you generally enjoy travel. The trouble is, we often end up taking our businesses to Tokyo. We trust people who have taken up the mantle of workaholism, who peek into our social media streams or inboxes periodically to say, “Hey, you can do this, too,” and we follow them to places that give us the heebie jeebies without ever stopping to say, “This doesn’t feel right,” or “I’m tired and I don’t want to go anymore,” or even, “WHY DON’T WE TAKE A FUCKING BREAK.” We let ourselves be blinded by increased dollars or followers or press or all three. We forget our reasons for being in business, then find ourselves jammed on the Tokyo subway, wondering how we’re going to survive the experience when the dude with white gloves comes over to push one more life hack down our throats.

Quick! Make a list of the dementors you’re still fighting.

If you’re having trouble, here are some fill-in-the-blanks:

I used to want to make ___________, but really I want to make ___________ and maybe even _________.

I don’t care about ______________anymore.

I spent ______________ years pursuing __________, and that’s done now.

When I feel like a failure, I beat myself up with ______________________’s success.

I’m tempted to abandon my work and take up _____________________ when my dementors come out.

You’re not allowed to beat yourself up for the dementors’ existence, or to wonder why you’ve been blind to them for so long, or to make yourself wrong for having any dementors at all.

We all have dementors. We all fight them.

Much like shame can’t survive being seen and heard, dementors can’t survive being acknowledged and called out. So call ’em out, friend.

Set a timer for 20 minutes and write about ’em, even if it makes no sense and everything that comes out is garbled junk. This is for processing, not for showing to anyone for any reason, ever.

Then rejoice!  Dementor deaths are actively making room for cool shit to follow.  Promise.

P.S. This is an episode of my podcast, That’s What She Said!  Listen in below or catch up on all the episodes here.