read a poem Archives - ⚡️Kristen Kalp

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Dance of the Heretic 💃🏼

My past year has basically been a tour of everywhere that you do not want to go as a human: loss, failure, loneliness, detachment, existential angst, grief, both parents’ cancer, and fear.


This episode of That’s What She Said details the ways I’ve moved through the time since losing my mom.

Take a meander through the most devastating year of my life, embroidered with poems and tenderness and laughter.

In this episode, I’ll walk you through the practice that helped to reconnect me to my body, my breath, and my being when grief hit. Then, I’ll share completely heretical, would-have-gotten-me-burned-at-the-stake things I’ve learned to help me re-establish my connection to the divine.

I encourage you to embrace the bigger, larger, more profound connection to the divine that I’m detailing within this episode. It’s a connection I never found in a church of any denomination, but that I feel each time I place my feet on the earth. (Related: coming out of the spiritual closet.)

Progress Report

In the sacred text
left behind by Mary Magdalene,
the word ‘God’ was replaced by
‘The Good.’

Mama I saw
snowdrops yesterday.
They were revealed when the snow melted,
blooming on ice.

I almost genuflected in the mud.

Mama I’ve seen
birds bathing in the stream
as the woods thawed
and the juncos were passing through,

I’ve seen fog and rain
and the leaves falling one by one
for weeks until only a handful
hung on for winter,

I’ve seen deer
wandering through the forest
and a fox slinking through the snow.

Mama now I know
the pulsing of the land, alive,
even in winter.

I can feel the creek’s current
in my fingertips as it passes.

I’ve drawn the sun into my chest
and danced as if you’ve never left;
I’ve wet the forest floor with tears
for everything we did
and did not say.

Mama I’ve never danced so much.

I’ve shown up in the forest and loved
you, the world, the sky,
The Good,
even when nothing felt good
and I wanted to join you
somewhere beneath the earth.

Mama, I’ve seen
The Good.

I’ve seen The Good.

P.S. The word Heretic is IN THE TITLE, so please don’t listen if you’re a Good Catholic Looking to Take Offense At Every Word I Say.

If you’re curious about how a formerly Catholic woman moves beyond early experiences of church to reclaim her connection to the divine — listen in now.

Love Letter for Amy // 3 poems about grief

Good Girl Grief

Experts have told you all about the stages of grief.

You thought you were prepared for the rage,
and still you are surprised
to wake with fire streaming from your skin:
all this anger with nowhere to go.

Tamp down the flames.
Hide the smoldering.

You may not shout at anyone
this isn’t a school board meeting
about banned books.

You may not shout into the ether, either.
Pretending to be fine is our ultimate pastime.

Don’t seethe, it puts people off.

Don’t just stand there,
it reminds people of what you’ve lost.

Pretend you do not want to scream.

Better yet: pretend you do not want.


Listen in to this episode of That’s What She Said as I share 3 poems about the grief of losing my mom.  This one is for Amy, whose final request as a coaching client was to, quite simply, keep talking.  

P.S. More of my poems here, pick up my book of poetry here.

How to make it to work each morning

Ignore the deteriorating institutions
leaving crumbs in your breakfast.

Clear the tendrils of capitalism
from your throat, your mind,
your body, your gaze.

Make peace with the many greeds
in which you are complicit.

Lower your inner drawbridge
so that others may experience
your vast, shining heart.

Pay no mind to the judgments
you level against yourself
when you are tired or lonely or hurting.

Hum softly when you happen upon
a puppy or a flower
or even an adult!
who hasn’t given up living
just yet.

Revel in the aliveness
you find hidden
everywhere, everywhere,

You can also listen in as I read this to you!

P.S. Many, many more of my poems live here, or you can buy my book of poetry here.

Identify your pandemic pattern.


The One Who Cares lies nested within
the one who pretends she doesn’t.

The One Who Cares wants
to give up because humans are too brutal
to stick around and witness.
(She mourns the loss of the rainforest,
the ice caps, the coral reefs. She weeps
for all the plastic in the ocean that will be here
long after she’s died.)

She is full of grief
for all the ways we humans shut down, numb, disconnect,
go to sleep, give up, give out, and refuse to feel. (She
does not respond to phone notifications
in a timely manner, which is one of her charms.)

The One Who Cares lies hidden
behind The One Who Gets Things Done:
the one who has a schedule, does the laundry, feeds the dog,
pays the electric bill, stays on top of the news. The one who
Gets Things Done rolls out her yoga mat, meditates,
and eats a nutritious breakfast.

The One Who Cares sinks into the body when she can,
lets tears fall down her cheeks in the bath,
and breathes, breathes, breathes.

She has few answers and asks eternal questions.

(She is often overwhelmed and leans into victimhood
if left unchecked. I cannot give her unfettered time
or she would pull me under, again.)

So she nests, watching all those tasks get checked off the list,
waiting for her moments to feel, to spin the globe of concern
and take in the bodies floating on the Ganges, bloated with Covid;
the white supremacists tightening voting restrictions; the Black bodies
piling up at the hands of police; the next reveal
of the rapist who remains in office. (And the next, and the next.)

The One Who Cares is most present
with reality but cannot remain there for long
or she is held down, held under, unable to move
until The One Who Gets Things Done picks her up,
dusts her off, and says,

Yes, yes, yes.
Feel all that. Use every breath
to move the whole world through you.
Let the entirety of existence be what it is,
and then we’ll get back to work.

Whether The One Who Cares and The One Who Gets Things Done battle it out in your life or not, finding some spaces where internal battles are being waged is the name of the game for this episode of That’s What She Said.

When does asshole brain take the driver’s seat in your life?

For me, it’s part of my hormonal cycle. I’ve been working closely with my doctor for all sorts of tests, and we found that a.) I have no measurable levels of testosterone in my body and b.) on day 20, my hormones plummet like Thelma and Louise going over the cliff at the end of the movie. I don’t make major decisions or big plans on Day 20, which I’ve marked in my calendar, ’cause that would be setting myself up for failure.

It used to be when I was comparing myself to others and fighting with people’s social media posts in my head. Scroll, GET OUTRAGED, close app and mull over VARIOUS OUTRAGES until tomorrow. Repeat daily.  (Related: I deleted social media and then this happened.)

Asshole brain might take over at a particular time of day or point in your hormonal cycle. Maybe it rears its ugly head with particular clients or relationships. Perhaps it only appears when a project is mentioned or you’re facing a deadline.

No matter when it appears, knowing the dominant asshole brain pattern in your life helps you to make life easier for yourself.

My asshole brain gets out its fancy pants and loud microphone after 7 p.m., so I have never done a coaching call or held a workshop at that time. I wrap up while the sun’s up, ’cause that’s when my body is most awesome.

What do I never ‘let’ myself do?

For me, it’s spending money on travel that’s not work related. You want me to blow cash on a sweet hotel and fancy foods with a big souvenir budget when I’m being paid to speak or teach? No problem.

You want me to spend that same amount of money on…my own joy? UGGGGGHHHHHHHH.

It used to be stepping away from the computer when work was done for the day. I would sit at the screen for eight hours, every day, whether I had important work or I was just bopping around on social media, clicking links like a mofo. (Related: it took years for me to master the Quietly Subversive 3-Hour Work Day.)

You might never let yourself spend money on your needs, take time off, pay yourself in your business, or say “no.” (Related: how to say “no.”)

You might not let yourself have strong enough boundaries to create time for your work, time for your business, or time that’s simply not someone else’s to claim. (Related: boundaries are awesome.)

What do you never ‘let’ yourself do – and how might you interrupt that pattern, starting right now?

What do you need to admit or voice about the way pandemic has impacted your life and being?

For me, it’s missing the work I used to do with people face-to-face, in person, while breathing the same air. Whether speaking or teaching, I used to get on a plane for my Truest Work four to six times a year, and that work/travel combo fed me deeply.

As the years of pandemic roll on, I miss the in-person work more and more. There’s an amorphous, ongoing aspect to this grief that recently prompted me to start working with a therapist. What do you DO with what you’ve lost for the moment, but maybe permanently, but maybe NOT permanently…? I don’t know, so I’m getting help to sort it out.

Early in pandemic, I needed to admit that Long Covid kicked my ass. I was too deep in fear to say things about it, since asshole brain had convinced me that I’d never be able to breathe or think or be witty or exercise or laugh ever again. Those fears subsided as my basic abilities and instincts returned, but WOW it was scary for a while.

Whether you’re flourishing or floundering in pandemic life, admitting the ways it has impacted your life and being is just plain helpful.

You can stop pretending that you’ve got it all together, or that you looooove homeschooling, or that you don’t find performing continuous risk assessment stressful af. Acknowledging where you are gives you the ability to move forward in a way that’s both deeply rooted in reality and completely honest.

We don’t need you to be amazing and stunning and #winning in every aspect of pandemic life. But we do need you to be honest about where you are and what you need.

To put it another way…where are you censoring yourself?

What’s roiling up within you that you don’t say? What drives you batshit crazy but is tolerated in your everyday existence? What are you holding within you that is beating on the walls of your interiors to be let out?

I’m not suggesting that you go on a social media rant delineating every last thing that has ever pissed you off. I am suggesting that admitting how you’re feeling, where you’re struggling, and what’s driving you crazy allows you to both relieve interior pressure (you know, that feeling of IF I HAVE TO TOLERATE THIS ONE MORE TIME I WILL BURST INTO A THOUSAND PIECES AND DESTROY WORLDS) and to ask for help wherever possible.

Uncensored, uncut you has Many Things to Say. Please find a way to express those things, whether through art, in conversation, or in therapy. Don’t let the big feels eat you alive, okay?

Penning bad poems is the only way to get to the good ones.
Same goes for bad photographs, bad drawings, bad drafts —
shitty first attempts –they’re the starting point for your work in the world.

Don’t shy away from making terrible artwork, horrible mistakes, or
unfortunate choices. These are the pebbles that are stacked to form
your shoreline: the only risks that will count in a year’s time.

Go on, take a chance. Make it awful. Let your whole heart out
and see where it takes you. See what your work does when you’re not
looking. See how it surprises you when you let your instincts out to play.

Waste paint and supplies and hours at the computer, writing.
Give yourself to the unknown elements, the chaos of losing control over
what you “should” be doing.

Breathe it in: this is art, moving in you and through you.
May it surprise you every time.

That’s it, you survived!!!!  (Related: your art will save your life.)

Shoot me a note with whichever pattern you’re ready to shift so I can cheer you on – for real.

This work – this knowing of ourselves and then taking action from the place of Deep Knowing – is the work we do in The Imaginarium.

If you’d like to both a.) return to yourself and b.) find a way forward in the midst of pandemic, please talk to me about attending!

The Imaginarium goes down in Philly from March 30th to April 1st or May 18th to 20th. This live, vaccinated-only workshop will help you stay connected to both your interiors and the world around you via some magical structures I’ve set up that involve massive support and accountability. Click here to book a tiny call, or shoot me a note via

Says Nicole, an Imaginarium attendee:  “I have never ever looked forward to December and January like I’m looking forward to it this year, and I didn’t realize I would be so excited for these follow up sessions.”

Current Imaginarium attendees are making massive progress, leaning on each other in gorgeous ways, and sending me frequent OH MY GOD THANK YOU FOR DOING THIS WORK AND INTRODUCING ME TO THESE WOMEN texts.

You don’t have to do the rest of 2022 alone, lemme help!  Book a tiny call!

P.S. One other pattern that might be taking over your life: screeeeeens.  Let’s stop that pattern dead in its tracks.

What’s tripping you up?

Over the years, I’ve admitted SO MANY scary things here on the podcast and in my writings. Some highlights: I’ve been battling depression since 2001. I once lost $43,000 on a massive business event, the $20,000 mastermind I signed up for hurt my spirit in ways I couldn’t even begin to articulate for years afterward, and long Covid wrecked my spirit in ways I can only just now begin to see, let alone articulate. I’ve studied breathwork (a free class for you is waiting here!), gotten divorced, fallen in love, written poems, shared advice, and seen the depths of the human spirit – all while sharing what I’m learning with you.

Psst! This is an episode of That’s What She Said, my podcast — there are hundreds more episodes right here.

Talking about what’s tripping you up doesn’t make you wrong, bad, a ‘loser,’ or whatever else asshole brain has to say about you. It makes you HUMAN.

You find being committed to nutrition, exercise, healthy sleep, self care, and/or taking time away from work to be a challenge? Me, too.

Your life looks nothing like it did before pandemic, or EXACTLY like it did before pandemic but with much harder circumstances surrounding your day-to-day existence? Me, too.

You failed to plan for a global pandemic starting in 2020 so now your 1-year, 3-year, or 5-year plan is ruined? WELP I never had a 5-year plan, but if I did I imagine mine would also be fucked.

Failing to acknowledge what’s true in this moment doesn’t make it any less true.

There’s nowhere on the planet you can go that gets you away from…yourself. So let’s turn inward and see what we find, okay?

Answering the following questions will help you find a way through the tangles of your own heart. You’re human, so please don’t beat yourself up about your answers. It’s year three of pandemic, so again – PLEASE DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP ABOUT YOUR ANSWERS. What Kasia Urbaniak calls ‘self attack’ will only prevent you from moving toward health.

What keeps tripping you up?

Meaning, what do you find yourself struggling with again and again? I’ve had turns of the spiral with depression, with money habits and skills, with creating structure for myself in business, with isolating when connecting is the healthiest option, and lately, with pandemic itself. WHEN WILL IT END/WHY GOD WHY happens more frequently as time goes on.

Places where you routinely trip up are like red flags encouraging you to ask for help. (Related: how to ask for help.) These tripping-up places are not places for shame or despair to take hold! They’re simply places where you can seek help, because completing one more turn of the spiral on your own is unlikely to return an amazing result. (You’ve tried that already, ’cause you’re one of my people and OF COURSE YOU HAVE.)

Where do you routinely lose time, money, and/or energy?

Common time sucks: social media, doomscrolling, planning and re-planning and re-re-planning in lieu of taking action

Common money sucks: courses/books/programs/offerings that promise a silver bullet or a vague ‘More,’ particularly if they can promise that YOU WILL make SO MUCH more MONEY if you just A, B, C, D, E, F, and G according to our Very Foolproof System.

Common energy sucks: worrying about what’s going to happen three steps from now, or six months from now, or seven years from now, email in all its forms, contorting yourself into the version of you that people will ‘like.’  (Related: let out your meows.)

Simply identifying where you lose time, money, or energy is the first step toward reclaiming those things – even now, smack dab in the middle of Omicron having its way with the globe. This is NOT a way to beat yourself up, but to acknowledge that reclaiming some time, money, and/or energy is available to you starting right now.

What is quietly a dumpster fire that you hope goes away on its own?

Sources of dumpster fire-y ness that I’ve witnessed most often include: ignoring mounting debt, hanging on to unhealthy or dead relationships, overeating to avoid feeling feelings, pretending your current circumstances are ‘fine’ when internally you’re FREAKING OUT, or admitting that you’ve changed your mind about X but asshole brain convinces you to white-knuckle your way through your commitments. (See: that time I wanted to end my marriage in 2006 but hung in there til 2014.)

Which parts of your being or your work have you given up on or decided to ignore away?

If you’re an artist, making your art will save your life. Your creative impulses aren’t going to disappear just because you’ve decided to let them go dormant. Likewise, pretending that numbing your emotions means you’ll never have emotions again is a recipe for failure. Acting like you’re FINE THANK YOU VERY MUCH in the face of whatever your heart is telling you is also likely to go…poorly.  (Related: don’t you dare settle for ‘fine.‘)

A poem to highlight this particular issue:

Pen to Paper

I stopped writing.
It was the first to go.
I was too busy building walls
to record any words for posterity’s sake.

I stopped asking.
Because I didn’t care
what you were thinking,
or why, or whether I made you that way.

I stopped fucking.
Because what’s the point,
it will end in rejection. Quiet,
shame, tears. The bathroom floor.

I stopped touching.
It’s easier to give it all up
than to hug everyone you adore
before going home to your husband.

I stopped trying.
Because if love is all work, it’s no longer love
but something darker. Obligation,
retaliation. Endless compromise. Domestic warfare.

I stopped singing.
In the car, in the shower, in line. I didn’t even notice
until that day, months and months after,
when my voice returned. It startled me.

But, really. Really.
I’d give just about anything
to read those poems I never wrote.

Last question, and it’s a fill-in-the-blank!

If I wasn’t censoring or sabotaging myself, I would…

This is not the time to be sensible, reasonable, or responsible! If your first answer is ‘write a novel,’ please let that answer stand. If it’s delete social media or double down on social media, great!

Whatever it is that you routinely do to censor or sabotage yourself…please identify the pattern. You’re capable of changing that pattern, and of doing so without it costing eleventy-billion dollars or taking the rest of your life.

You’re capable of making changes in your life starting right now, and it’s possible for those changes to bear fruit in the coming months, even if pandemic goes absolutely nowhere or a new variant emerges. To put it another way…

Enter into the dance.

The dance of the universe,
this endless world looking at, observing,
and interacting with itself —
only itself in endless forms —
every single day.

Your job is to be you.

Your job is to evolve
your consciousness by entering in,
every single day.

Even when you’re tired.
Even when you’re scared.
Even when you’re sure it’s useless,
or there are bigger fish to fry,
or your tiny scraps of goodness
add up to nothing at all.

Your job is to enter in and become more of yourself,
to find out more of what you already know,
to dance with everything both as the universe
and as your own, separate, self.

The error comes in thinking there’s a ‘there’ there:
believing it will all be solved when
all better when
all work out when
all be ideal when
all be painless when

The dance is good and hard and painful and messy, always.

Enter in.

Don’t sit at the gate and charge for tickets
or claim to know what’s going on inside because you visited yesterday
or stand along the sides and watch others dancing.

Rest when you need, of course,
but enter in.

It’s the only way to know what is and isn’t true, today,
and what you might do to aid the universe
in its unfolding at this very moment.

You are freer than you know, now.

Just enter in.

Telling the truth about where you are and what’s going on – without shame, guilt, or judgment — is the whole point of my latest in-person workshop, The Imaginarium.

I’ll see you just as you are in this moment – paused, unpaused, freaking out, super calm, trying not to feel, or feeling every damn thing.

We’ll identify places where you’re committed to making progress.
We’ll put structures in place to hold you accountable for doing what you say you’re doing to do.
We’ll work together to find the more hopeful and alive version of you that’s been hiding away during pandemic, and we’ll bring her to the forefront with more joy and ease than you thought possible.

Says Laura, an Imaginarium attendee: “I tried to explain to my mom what it was like to be held so gently and with so much support and non-judgment. I said it was like putting a spotlight on my heart and soul, but it wasn’t scary; it was healing and filled with encouragement. I felt very safe.”

To talk with me about whether or not The Imaginarium is right for you, book a free tiny call or shoot an email to and I’ll hook you up.

Again – book a tiny call to see if working together might be just what you need in 2022.

P.S. I dare you to shoot me an email with your answers to the questions in this podcast! I’m 0% going to judge you and 100% proud that you took the time to sort out an internal tangle or two. Send a note to!