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Hiding isn’t the answer. (I wish it would be, though.)

Hiding isn't the answer // podcast by Kristen Kalp

Before we dive in to this week’s podcast episode, I’d like to acknowledge that the lessons here have taken a bunch of years to condense into anything even remotely resembling words. My first impulse when it comes to facing the world is to hide 100% of the time. I prefer to hermit and retreat and withdraw. Those are tendencies I actively push against and question on an almost-daily basis. So.

I know, you’d rather hide.

At a business level, it’s scary to let your work be seen. You’ve heard that ‘if you build it, they will come,’ and they’re not coming. Maybe you should…build it again? Pin ever-more-complicated options to Pinterest and save up to give someone ten grand and solve it for you? Hope for the best and get a second job?

Or you say you’re ready to take on more clients or sell more work, but you can’t bring yourself to respond to emails, phone calls, or inquiries when they come in.

What’s wrong with you, and with your business? There must be something so secretly, desperately wrong that everyone but you can see it, right?


You’re probably a master of hiding.

Here are some really fun, reaaaaaally smart ways I’ve hidden my work:

For years, only print versions of books were available, even though ebook versions are easier for me to host and sell — and also more profitable. (Pay what you can for any of my books here.)

For (again) years, I consistently forgot to read my poems on the podcast or share them anywhere at all. Did my bio identify me as a poet? Yup. Did that translate to my sharing more?  Not without effort.

I used to mention something once or twice, casually, and then assume it was a failure because it didn’t sell out instantaneously. LOOKING AT YOU, EVERY ENTREPRENEUR EVER!

Repetition is a kindness.

Everyone has too many emails, too many mundane tasks, too many notifications, and not enough brain space to see, love, read about, and buy a product in one fell swoop.  It’s often the third or fourth mention that garners any real interest, and only firm deadlines that make people respond in a decisive way.  (Also if you’d like to break up with your phone, meet Space, a 21-day email class to help you do just that!)

I used to think no one wanted to hire me if they didn’t respond to my offerings immediately, even after I began repeating myself again and again.

I routinely have people sign up for coaching who tell me how many years they’ve been following me. Current record: nine.

It’s a long game, people. (Also, check coaching out and then talk to me about working together, okay?

For years, I ended my talks about things for sale in question marks (I’m coaching?) and only noticed it later when listening to the podcast.  I. AM. SO. AWESOME.

I also used to rush sales talk and then relax when I got to the free stuff. Only That’s What She Said is an ad-free, not-sponsored podcast, so I have every right to talk about how to hire me and purchase my work within it. (You have the right to do the same with the things you offer, too.)

Here are some ways you might be hiding in business:

? Can I easily locate buy now, book now, or e-mail me buttons? Is there an easy way to purchase what you’re selling?
? Can people figure out where you’re located easily, particularly if you have a local business?
? Do you have a separate sales page for each product or service you offer, or are you hiding your best one with a ‘coming soon’ placeholder and/or outdated information?
? Are your current products prominently placed or featured in menu bar?
? Can we easily access the work you prefer to be paid for doing?
? Can people sign up to hear more from you through an e-mail list?
? No really, an e-mail list: can you access people in their inbox at a time of your choosing? (Need help? Zero to email list in 15 minutes.)
? Do you actually send e-mails to the people who have signed up to hear more from you? (Need help? How to F*&*ing Communicate is for you.)

At a personal level, hiding gets worse.

You want to hide from the globe (see: systemic oppression, Amazon fires, melting polar ice caps, rise of fascism, etc, etc, etc…), and then from your life (see: never-ending productivity and routine and WHY AM I NOT ON A TROPICAL BEACH WITH MY OWN PERSONAL BUTLER RIGHT NOW) and then from yourself (despair? Nipping at myyyyyy heels? No, never!).

But you tell yourself you have to keep going.

So you shove down the despair, show up for work, watch the news, contribute to campaigns and causes like a good citizen, and feel…not one iota better.

Why do you still feel like a bundle of yuck?  Because step one was shoving down your feelings.

It was labeling one particular emotion ‘bad’ or ‘unproductive’ or ‘negative’ or simply not allowed, and then plowing over it with your everyday activities and hoping it wouldn’t return. But of course it returns, so you shove it down HARDER, like a kid trying to hold bigger and bigger beach balls under water for days and then weeks and months at a time. Of course it’s not working, but you just have to try HARDER, right?

Just try harder and harder and put in more and more effort and hope no one notices how you’re getting more and more dead inside. OR you can start to come out of hiding.

Ways you might be hiding in life, sourced from my own hiding places:

? Do you talk about things that matter to you or try to keep conversation easy breezy, no big deal?
? Do you admit your desires and dreams and the ways you want to make meaning in the world to yourself? …to others?
? Are you consistently turning down the volume on yourself so as not to be seen as ‘too much’ of something?
? Are you consistently turning up the volume on everyone else so that you can no longer hear your own tiny whispers of identity and intuition?

I’ve been there and tried alllll the tactics to just shut the hell up and be less sensitive.

They failed. Miserably.

What if…you let yourself feel what you’re feeling?

What if you let yourself feel the despair and the hardship and the pain and all the things you cannot change — and then let those particular pieces of pain go, simply because you cannot change them?

Not because you don’t care or don’t try or don’t have enough useful and intersectional beliefs, but because you are one single human.

Just one.

No matter how much you try or how many ‘you have the same number of hours in the day as Beyonce’ memes you consume.

You’re just one person.

How can you begin to make peace with a.) the fact that you can’t change everything,
but b.) you can absolutely change SOMEthing, when you decide what that something is?

You start with your own interiors.

When you decide to stop hiding, you begin to navigate through the loneliness and mess and doubt that lives within you, and come out the other side better and lighter and more joyful than you’ve ever been.

That sounds impossible and silly and GOD YOU’RE SO NAIVE KRISTEN and also…don’t you hope that it’s possible?

To be able to sit with despair and then rise up and do your work.

To look the messes in your life in the face without fear or judgement.

To face the loneliness within your heart and hold it tenderly, without trying to make it wrong or bad or a sign that you’re broken.

To catch doubt doing its asshole brain thing — and then to keep going, without believing a word it says.

That’s my hope for every human on the planet — that you’ll find a method, a practice, or a way of being that helps you give up hiding from yourself first, and from the world second.

For me, that practice is breathwork. I held a live breathwork session in Philly this week, and I was amazed by the amount of energetic and emotional clearing we completed in about an hour. Eight women laid down on the floor of a knitting shop, were introduced to the breath, and got to work.

They ranged in age from their twenties to their seventies, and each one wiped her eyes and thanked me when we finished breathing. They let go of shame and doubt and rage and grief and pain, and they also laughed and giggled and smirked and shook their hips and got freer than they had been a few hours earlier. They all reported that time got wobbly, and that they’d never experienced anything quite like it before.

Breathwork is work, yes, but it’s also a no-accessories-needed way to come home to yourself.

You lie down, you do the breathing pattern, you come back to reality a short time later as a lighter and freer human.  (For you: a whole podcast episode about breathwork.)

If breathwork seems like diving into the deep end — that’s exactly what it is.

Starting a breathwork practice can be scary for lots of people, which is why The Softness Sessions are a slower, steadier entry point for giving it a try.

In The Softness Sessions, you’ll hear me talk, podcast-style, and then we’ll do a short breathwork practice. It gets longer every week for six weeks, and then we’ll finish with a full-length live session for everyone in the program.

If you’re scared of your own interiors because you’ve been ignoring them for a long time (or possibly forever);

if you’re curious about breathwork but are afraid this won’t work or you won’t get your money’s worth or you haven’t found a practitioner you love;

if you’d like to find out if those things I said about loving yourself through mess and doubt can be true for you;

if you’d like to continue to explore what’s going on within you instead of shoving your emotions into tiny containers and hoping they disappear;

The Softness Sessions are for you.

They’re for coming to terms with your own humanity softly, and slowly, and with great care.

I know you’d rather plow ahead and do everything ever, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, because the world is literally on fire, and overachieving tendencies die hard. (Also: feelings. You have too many of them and you want to ignore them entirely. I’ve been there and committed myself to that for A WHOLE DECADE and can report that Try Not to Feel Anything Experiment as Failed. Completely.)

I know you’re not sure you can make any sort of difference because you’re just one human and you can’t keep your car clean, so how are you supposed to make some sort of global impact.

I know you’re tired of being tired, and I know you know the answer isn’t adding butter to your coffee or taking 16 new supplements.

There’s a place of deep rest and peace within you.  Promise.

You can access it any time you like through breathwork.

That’s scary, yes, and intimidating, yes, and also wildly freeing and gorgeous and stunning and lovely, too.

Hiding isn’t the end of your story. It’s the beginning.

Because when you stop hiding — well, that’s when things get way more interesting.

We’ll use breathwork, writing, poetry, podcasts, art, and intuition to free you from the alluring and seductive chains of invisibility. It’s time to be seen, already.

Let’s start with you seeing yourself clearly.

Join The Softness Sessions now.  We start March 19th, 2020, and the Early Bird rate is in effect!

Buy a seat in The Softness Sessions

P.S. Softness is the secret.

Why breathwork?

Why is breathwork helpful? What does breathwork do? How do you do breathwork? All great questions! Click through an find out why I swear by breathwork and how it changed my life!

A dear friend pointed out that I’ve said lots about breathwork and how great it is on the regular, but haven’t gone into the ‘why’ of it at a deeply personal or professional level. So, let’s talk about it!  Let’s dive into WHY you should take up this wondrous practice that is never further away than your own breath.

This is episode #173 of the That’s What She Said podcast, so listen in or keep reading if that’s your preference!

In 7 words: breathwork is a doorway to the divine.

In way more words:

Imagine your interior life as a house. Most rooms have life and movement. They’re brimming with activity and there’s sunshine coming through the windows.

There are also dark rooms.

Boxes, locked. Tucked away, dusty places.

Spaces full of “I’m never going to feel that way again.”

We all lock parts of ourselves away, until eventually we end up living in cramped quarters.

It can be like an episode of Hoarders in there, complete with twenty-five-year-old broken trinkets and crumbling papers we REALLY REALLY need, dammit.

Add the current goings-on of the global theater — news, crises, and tragedies blasted at us on screens 24/7 — and our houses are filling up with debris faster than ever.

Breathwork unlocks the rooms in your house, one by one, as quickly as you can safely go.

In other words: breathwork helps you reclaim your own interiors.

Done monthly-ish, you unlock boxes, clear old furniture, and reclaim a full emotional range. When you’re willing to explore your tucked-away doubts and fears, you’re rewarded with the ability to feel more joy. Every single time.

You’ll no longer be afraid of those darkened rooms because you’ve worked through the detritus and faced your fears. You’ve felt the feelings that were locked in you, and you’ve let them move through you instead of trapping them in your body.

The breath does the work.

But…why breathwork?  Why not yoga or chanting or volunteering or the other thousands of ways we humans enter into the spiritual aspects of life?

I’ll start with personal reasons, then move on to universal reasons you may find breathwork helpful. If you’ve been following along, you’ll recall the general thyroid-y brain ooze I’ve been emerging from over the past few months. In case ‘ooze of brain’ doesn’t conjure a vivid image, let me explain.

Words go away in brain ooze. It’s not that you don’t have thoughts or that you are a zen master who is suddenly enlightened and sees only love and light everywhere. It’s that you are incapable of words. Answers to even the most basic questions take a great deal of time.

“What kind of tea do you want?” is an impossible question.

“What do you want for dinner?” is an exercise in futility.

Harder questions and issues, like everyday business matters, financial matters, and emails, are accessible for a few peak minutes a day — half an hour, tops — and the rest of time is spent shuffling around in wordlessness, trying to get your bearings.

Words and wordlessness exist on a spectrum. We humans spend most of our time in Word World, which is how we do things like write books and share podcasts and build relationships and gather support for causes and create infrastructure for everything from apps to institutions.

When you are forced to exit Word World by force, you have no choice but to explore wordlessness.

Losing my ability to communicate in the way I know best — i.e. words — is one of the single most terrifying things I’ve ever survived.  (I made it out with tiny, annoying progress.)  When you make a living from stringing sentences together for yourself, for clients, and for the world in general, losing that ability stirs up fear at an existential level.

Here’s what I learned from the muck of the Deep Down, from the place beyond words that can only be related in retrospect.

Breathwork is a reliable way to enter into wordlessness.

It’s a way to cultivate the knowing that can only come from the place beyond words. You’ve probably visited that place already. It’s common to enter it after a glass of red wine, during sex, while turning your face to the sun on a spring day, or when you have to close your eyes and enjoy a meal instead of talking because anything less would be doing the food a great disservice.

Sometimes, wordlessness is a natural response to the world.

It’s often undervalued, and trying to enter into it on purpose can be tricky.

Traditional Sit-Very-Still-and-Focus meditation is extremely difficult for me in any capacity. Sure, I value wordlessness, but my brain turns up the volume on my thoughts anytime I try to be still and thoughtless and wordless. I’ve taken meditation classes and tried it on my own and it’s only led to beating myself up about how wild and crazy and unmanageable my thoughts are at any given moment.

Breathwork is a surefire way to bypass your thoughts.

I still have thoughts as the practice starts, but those are quickly bypassed with the help of the breathing pattern. I become a feeling animal, not a thinking one, and that break from the endless BLAHBLAHBLAH in my brain is priceless. This is a breathwork universal: when you’ve given yourself to a half hour of the breathing pattern, you’re far beyond words and exist deep in your own consciousness, where the passing of time and ordinary reality doesn’t exist.

Connecting with your wordless center is a fantastic reason to start this practice.

You can do breathwork even when you’re absolutely exhausted.

I spent a great deal of the past year fighting fatigue. The days are endless when you’re incapable of doing brain work (no words) or physical work (no energy). Last winter, breathwork was the only thing I could possibly check off my to-do list lots of the time.

We do what we can with what we have, where we are — and for a long while, breathwork was all I could manage at a soul level.  (More about the four kinds of tired here.)

You can do breathwork lying down, being still on a bed with the curtains drawn. The breath will never leave you. It is always accessible.

You can be held without leaving your house.

Lest you think you’re a hermit who can’t possibly add one more thing to your list of outside activities, fear not! You can stay at home and do this work with fantastic results. I’m awkward in my body and generally don’t like to be seen when I’m moving, dancing, exercising, or doing anything ‘spiritual.’ The first time I did breathwork in public with other humans, I was training to be a teacher of it. I had been at home doing recordings every other time. Which is to say: the practice had shaped and changed me without my ever having breathed in person with another soul.

This practice is powerful without your having to go anywhere at all. You can be held without being physically present with your teacher.

It’s incredibly intimate at a cosmic level, but from the outside looking in, you’re just listening to a recording in bed. Also, my hermit-y tendencies have diminished since I started doing breathwork! When you feel whatever is locked in your body at a cellular level, you give your energy and your spirit permission to get bigger. Much bigger. The bigger you are, the less bothered you are by other’s energy, and the easier it is to be in public as an empath.  (Related: how to not hate being human and thrive as an empath.)

You come home to the divine within.

I grew up in very churchy Christian churches (here’s where I came out of the spiritual closet) and never understood the bits about the divine living within you. It was out there, wasn’t it? In the sanctuary or the communion wafer or the ether or the hands of those who knew better – but certainly not within me, within my body.

Breathwork provides entry into the divine shelter that lives in each of us: the thread of all that is that flows through us. No one can be excluded. By definition. Because we are part of all that is.

You tune into your innate knowing.

That part of you that’s busy doubting whether what you know is ‘real’ or whether you should override your instincts? It’s time to silence that part of you. The part of you that needs pro and con lists, when really you’ve known what you were going to do the whole time. The part of you that trusts ‘experts’ because you’ve given up on listening to yourself. The part of you that is always looking for an easier or different way, even when every part of you is screaming about what to do next in that particular way.

The part of you that denies your intuition, that doubts your basic instincts, and that enters into knowing wordlessly dies in breathwork. It gets beaten back from pure instinctual knowing, from connecting with your most primal and innate energies, and from sinking into the beauty of the cosmos, too.

In other words: breathwork helps you defeat asshole brain.

The small, scared, shallow part of you that pumps fear into your ear 24/7 cannot survive a sustained breathwork practice. It has no choice but to give up and pack it in when you spend time with the divine within you. There’s no holding you down anymore. The jig is up. And all you have to do is breathe.

Breathwork has strengthened my coaching work at a deep level. To help you listen to yourself, I have to keep listening to myself. The practice has helped me make new things, get rid of old things, clarify goals, and make pertinent decisions without going back and forth in if/then land or logic. I just…know. Choices in Word Land are easier because I’ve spent so much time in wordlessness.

You always walk away lighter.

I have breathed through depression and through the misery of feeling bereft of energy. I have breathed through the news of a friend’s recent rape, through Supreme Court nomination hearings, and through the changing, increasingly hateful rhetoric of those emboldened by the current U.S. administration. I have breathed through financial struggle, through the death of a beloved pet, and through relationship hiccups of all kinds.

I come away from those heavy, heavy things lighter.  Every. Single. Time.

I’m actively processing life instead of pushing it into my cellular pockets and carrying it around for the rest of time. When there is nothing at the surface weighing me down, I’m processing decades of living on earth as a human and all the interior debris that entails.

When you walk toward a hard thing willingly, you’re able to move through it and come out the other side a bit lighter. We all have places where words fall down and fail us completely. We’ve all built flimsy little structures full of hurt within our souls.

These are the places where breathwork moves into the body and helps. We can deconstruct the tents and lean-to’s full of pain. We can knock down the walls we’ve built within our hearts, brick by brick. It leaves us inexplicably healed and freer each time.

To recap:

Breathwork is a way to actively enter into wordlessness.

You can do it even when you’re absolutely exhausted.

You can be held without leaving your house.

You come home to the divine within.

You tune into your innate knowing.

You always walk away lighter.

Also, breathwork comes with a trippy spiritual high. Your body floods with what feels like pure light.

The free breathwork practice I’ve got for you is called…Lighter. And dammit, I hope you’ll try it.

P.S. Go check out past breathwork classes and get your free one!

How to lose 100 pounds in about an hour.

When the Western world talks about losing weight, we’re nearly always referring to our physical bodies.  But everything else in our lives has weight, too: our possessions, our financial choices, our emotions, and our worries, to name a few.

In this episode of That’s What She Said, we dive deeper into what it looks like to lose weight beyond the whether-or-not-you-have-a-thigh-gap level.  (Because the presence or absence of a thigh gap is the least interesting thing about you.)

The goal is to feel…lighter.

Do any one of the tasks presented for about an hour to gather some rad benefits. The goal is not to do all of them, or you’ll feel like a failed Marie Kondo instead of a freaking champion. (Konmari for Business is here.)

Let’s lose weight in physical-but-not-bodily, financial, and emotional ways.

The free breathwork session mentioned is called Lighter. You can get it right here.