come alive Archives - Page 2 of 15 - ⚡️Kristen Kalp

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How many lights on your dashboard are blinking?

If your business magically morphed into some sort of top secret aviation operation — you’re flying a solo mission of the utmost importance tonight, and the fate of the free world rests in your hands — do you even have enough fuel to get there? Or do you crash and burn?

How many lights on your dashboard are blinking?

In practical terms, this means taking stock of everything that’s going on in your life at the moment. We can’t pretend your business doesn’t affect your personal life, or vice versa.

These questions will help you sort out exactly where you stand.

If the answer is anything but a smug ‘HANDLED,’ it’s a blinking light. (You know whether it’s a problem or not.)

How many times in the last week have you said you’re “busy?”
Do you feel overwhelmed, out of control, freaked out, or stressed the majority of the time? (See: nourishing or numbing?)
Do you feel depressed, lethargic, or like you just don’t give a shit the majority of the time? (See: the depression chronicles.)
Do you consistently follow up with clients when they inquire about your products or services? (See: sales, selling, and making bank.)
Do you have a client you’d like to get rid of, but you haven’t disentangled yourself yet? (See: nice and kind are not the same.)
When’s the last time you achieved Inbox Zero?
How many things have you been “meaning to” outsource, but you haven’t got around to it yet?
How many programs or products are sitting on your hard drive, waiting for your attention?
Do you make time to advance and progress your business, or are you treading water?
Do you have any projects, pieces, or kits at home that you haven’t yet installed, crafted, put together, or paid someone else to handle?  (See: Konmari for business.)
Is your relationship with your partner strained, stressed, or being swept under the rug because you’re too busy to handle it? (See: the sex episode.) How about your kids? Other important folks in your life?

If it’s been more than 6 months since you did these, you get a point:

When’s the last time you hung out with friends or family members because you wanted to, not because you had to?  (See: it doesn’t count if you don’t enjoy it.)
When did you last spend 24 hours without your phone? (See: Space.)
When did you last have a date with your partner(s)?
When did you last spend a day NOT achieving — on purpose?

How many lights are blinking? Ideally, it’s 5 or less.

Contrary to what you might be thinking, this isn’t meant to be an exercise in despair.

Just like when you go to a personal trainer and they measure all your bits and bobs, including pinching your fat and putting you on the scale, this is meant to be a starting point.

You’re only going to improve from here.

Before you think I’m being a smug asshole, let’s hop in our Delorean and take a trip back in time. In July 2012, life looked a little different. SO MANY LIGHTS WERE BLINKING.

In Spring 2012:

• I hadn’t had a dental cleaning in six years.
• Moving my body in any capacity was in my perpetual “start tomorrow” plan.
• The “start tomorrow” plan also included taking care of my physical well being with the help of others: doctor’s appointments, acupuncture, chiropractic appointments, and massages.
• I couldn’t move my neck very far to the right or left because my muscles were so tight.
• I bought new clothes at Target or on the cheap because I didn’t want to “waste money” — I was going to lose weight — so soon, the new clothes wouldn’t fit anyway.
• I didn’t have regular haircuts, just one every three to six(ish) months, whenever a major event was coming up.
• I ate dairy daily, even though it caused painful stomach issues and major acne.
• I didn’t go outside every day. Or even every other day. I stayed in the house and wrote and hung out and watched TV.
• I literally could not ask for help from anyone. For anything. I wanted to do everything myself.

Self care is one of the hardest things on the planet for me to do. My sense is that it’s hard for most everyone, but especially for empaths. It takes energy above and beyond the typical or usual amounts. I mean, taking a bath is one thing, but leaving the house to get a massage? Or scheduling time at a hotel just to reconnect with your partner? ::pishaw::

If you’re anything like me,  self care is a struggle.

It gets better, but it takes consistent attention.  Right here, right now, let’s take a single step toward taking a better you by scheduling your self care.  It’s time to put taking care of yourself on the calendar.  (For realsies.  Totes. #othertrendywords.)

Schedule 1 activity per week for the next 4 weeks, and you’ll be well on your way to a more patient, loving, and revitalized self.

• Call the doctor or service provider and schedule the appointment.
• Go outside for ten minutes without your iPhone, iPod, iBook, or iLife. Be device-free in the outdoors.
• Have some deeply nutritious food instead of that thing you know isn’t good for you but you shove down your throat because you “don’t have time” for nutrients. Try it, just once.
• Schedule an appointment to help with any chronic pain you experience. That crick in your neck or back pain or weird elbow thing isn’t “normal,” nor is it “just part of getting older.”
• Light a candle and quiet your mind as best you can and just sit for at least ten minutes.
• Play with your kids or your partner or your dog instead of watching them play while you cook dinner or do housework or keep busy doing “important” things.  (It doesn’t count if you don’t enjoy it.)
Ask for help with something you’ve been struggling with — whether it’s accounting or working out or cooking or cleaning or just getting the kids to bed on time — your loved ones are not mind readers. Ask.

Yah, I know you read that list and scoffed.

Re-read it, please, this time thinking about whether the person you love most in your life would agree with me or with you when we ask ’em if you need a bit of help in this department.  ::gives you meaningful but loving glare::

Right, so.  Small steps are all I’m asking — ten minutes in the next week is no big deal, right!? — and you’ll find those caring-for-yourself results push you to bigger and deeper levels of caring about yourself and your own needs.

Ironically, the better you take care of yourself, the more time and energy you have for taking care of those around you.

And your friends, family, and clients deserve better care, right?



P.S.  Self care is even much more crucial if you’re an empath.  (Are you?)

Kiwi of Craft Boner talks letting your freak flag fly.

Craftboner headshot

Kiwi Schloffel founded Craft Boner when her left brain got too tired of being a genius — an Apple genius — and the rest is history. Her cards, postcards, totes, and home goods will soon grace your home with the perfect mixture of raunchy beauty and wit.

Why will you love her, exactly?  When I asked Kiwi how she got such a fantastic sense of humor, she said:

“When you’re chubby and awkward with braces and glasses, you have to develop a personality.”

In this interview, we talk about:

opening and closing her dream retail space within the course of two years
the ‘overnight’ success fallacy and other creative myths
culling half the products in her store at one fell swoop
how to actually make money selling products (hint: it’s not as easy as Etsy says!)
growing up indoorsy with extremely outdoorsy parents
hating but learning to cope with the business-y aspects of business
staying inspired to create regularly, even when you do it for a living
the particular magic of thrift stores
shocking revelations of all kids (like followers don’t always translate to dollars)
her top 3 time machine destinations
the books that have shaped her life over the years
why Kiwi’s hometown librarians were annoyed with her as a kid
the Craft Boner process, from idea to printed item

Listen in if you sell products, want to own a retail shop, enjoy a laugh, or just want to meet one of my favorite peeps.

Go follow Craft Boner on Instagram, then pop into the shop at to buy all the delightful things, including the ‘your penis is my favorite’ card.  (Kiwi’s favorite customer bought three at once. 😉

Her official bio is as follows: Kiwi Schloffel is the brains & brawn behind Craft Boner, a stationery and gift brand with the sole focus of making people chuckle. When she’s not laughing at people’s reactions to realizing that the word boner is in her business name – she’s rifling through thrift stores, reading books in a hammock or working on a DIY project. A self-taught hand letterer and designer, she can’t get enough of pastels, curse words and really good dad jokes. 

P.S. Relevant! How to work from home without losing your mind.

This might take a while. (The podcast I’m most proud of!)

Have you ever made a thing you’re really proud of?

Like, you can tell it’s good even though you’re your own worst critic and of course there are things that could be improved but DAMN, you did a good job?

That would be this episode of the That’s What She Said podcast.

Finally — at episode 190 — I’m pulling out the YOU MUST LISTEN TO THIS card.

This episode took weeks of percolating and hours of discussion (with actual other humans!) before it ever got written down, edited, or recorded.

Let’s talk about craft, the rise of the instant, and the death of meaning.

Let’s talk about how to avoid buying the ‘perfect’ solution that always, always falls flat.

Let’s talk about why pro athletes get so much attention and praise, that time I absolutely fell flat at a speaking gig and never recovered, the jaguar that lives in your chest, and how to be truly happy in an economy that sells your own unhappiness back to you again and again.  And again.

Let’s talk about all the ways you’ve tried to paper over or speed up life’s hard parts, when the goodness is often stuck somewhere in the mess like a Double Dare flag buried in whipped cream and slime.

If you only listen to one of my podcasts, make it this one.

If you dig it, leave a review and a tip, then let me know what you think!  Send your comments to and we’ll talk about all of it.

With so much love —


P.S. I hate having a coach.

Pamela Bates on Making Art and Tooting Your Own Horn.

Pamela Bates work

Have you ever had art jump off the page, screen, or wall to talk with you?  That’s what Pamela Bates‘ work did when I first encountered it, and she was gracious enough to agree to my interview for the That’s What She Said podcast.  This graphic designer turned painter is making a career of her art after a long career working behind screens, and she’s so damn inspiring that you’ve just gotta listen in.

Pamela and I talk quite a bit about the important of consistency in creating, marketing and showing your work, and how to get over the lurking self doubt and fear that can mess with even the most talented of humans.  She also discusses her latest collections, including the 100 day project-based Head Over Heart.

“Get over the fear of tooting your own horn. Toot it as loud as you can!”

During our talk, we cover:

‘the ugly stage’ and life metaphors of painting
walking away from 23+ years of graphic design, branding, and advertising to become a painter
how a single painting changed *everything*
the painted rock business that started it all. At age 7.
how to treat art as a business — every day
the benefits of the #100dayproject
patience in marketing i.e. why it took 2 years to sell one of her favorite paintings
using grief as fuel for art & Inertial Guidance, her first solo art show
why ‘trusting the process’ is cliche and also exactly right
how she made up a retail pop-up for the holidays
simple advice for starting your own painting project
how to not be precious about paint and all the other art supplies

To see (and buy!) Pamela Bates’ work, check out her website or Instagram.

P.S. Want to meet another rad human who is wise and paints?  Meet Tara Leaver.

Stop the overwhelm.

When I talk to peeps about the most frustrating aspects of their businesses, they generally tell me that a.) they want to make more money and b.) they’re overwhelmed.

If you can’t handle what you currently have going on, adding more will only stress you out further.  Thus, being overwhelmed is the natural starting point for entering into a more meaningful and profitable business.

Let’s stop the overwhelm. This is a tiny portion of Phase One of the Steer Your Ship curriculum, to help you figure out whether it’s right for you.

You can listen to this on the podcast, or keep reading for the text version!

First, let’s talk muggling. I define muggling as ‘all those tasks that aren’t particularly magical but that keep you alive, functioning, and earning dollars as a business owner.’

Checking your email, for example, isn’t particularly sexy and doesn’t appear on the top of everyone’s OH HOLY WOW AMAZING list, but it’s an absolutely vital part of your business. Thus, it’s muggilng.

When you feel overwhelmed in your business, which is quite often for most of the peeps I talk to, muggling often comes into play. You avoid it, so it piles up, so it gets more unmanageable, so you do less of it, so it gets even more out of control, and on and on the cycle goes until you find yourself curled in the fetal position, staring at the 16,423 unread messages notice on your email app.

Stop the Overwhelm Question #1: which muggling is currently out of control?

In other words, what has you feeling buried, overwhelmed, or hopeless? I’m guessing that it’s your inbox, your voicemail box, your DMs, and/or any other way of communicating that gets a little full, and then a lot full, and then you throw up your hands and decide you’ll never get out from under it.

Now is the perfect time to schedule inbox management on your calendar, or to declare email bankruptcy and begin again. Find any peeps interested in your products or services that are hanging out, reply to them immediately with an offer (here’s how to make one), and then archive everything else. Sometimes starting fresh is the only way out of the mess.

Stop the Overwhelm Question #2: which muggling is absolutely, positively under your control, no matter how much time it takes up and how many people point out that maybe you don’t need to do that task?

Often, it isn’t absolutely necessary that you’re the person who handles a task in your business. You might be good at it, and you might even find it fun, but that doesn’t mean you have to be in charge of it forever. For me, that means building a new website with the help of another human instead of attempting to DIY that shit. (Yes, I can do it, and NO, I don’t want to, ’cause it makes me tired and uses all my juice.)

For you, it might mean hiring a VA to help you keep your inbox somewhat manageable, or having someone else handle the mundane tasks that eat hours of your week, every single week.

Maybe it’s getting passwords and logins to students, or editing photos ::cough every photographer ever needs someone else to do this cough::, or making tweaks to your online presence because you’re really not particularly techy but you keep trying to be, or insisting that you absolutely must have a social media presence on X platform when really, you don’t have to do that at all.

Which everyday tasks would give you the most time back if you gave up control of them?

Start there. Even if it’s hard, or it hurts, or you have to deep breathe and scream into pillows because you’re sure he/she/they will fuck it up. (Hint: they probably won’t.)

Stop the Overwhelm Question #3: which muggling tasks do you enjoy?

Keep it without guilt. If you actually like searching hashtags, writing captions, and choosing the perfect images for Instagram, keep doing it. If you actually like cleaning the bathroom, or making dinner, or graphic design — again, keep doing it. I’m pretty darn picky when it comes to foods, so I make my own meals and shop for groceries on my own because WHAT IF THEY PICK UP THE WRONG THING OR THEY PICK THE FAT CUCUMBER. I like the skinny ones, not the fat ones, and that level of detail passed to someone else is just too damn much. If you’re picky and you know it, and getting rid of it would take six times more time than doing the thing yourself, it’s okay to keep a thing.

If you think you *should* like something but really don’t, be honest with yourself. And then keep reading.

Stop the Overwhelm Question #4: which muggling absolutely blows?

Permission to ditch it, granted.

Maybe you can’t ditch it all at once, like OKAY COOL I JUST HIRED SOMEONE TO REWRITE AND REDESIGN MY WEBSITE FOR TEN GRAND, THANKS KRISTEN FOR THE IDEA, but you can absolutely hire someone to take care of a nagging task or two.

I’ve hired people to make custom blog headers and footers, to design PDFs, to switch up my hosting companies (DNS server hell no I’m not messing with that), and to optimize my website for loading time in the past few months. I have many interests, but optimizing the loading time of my website via image compression isn’t one of them. (I use Alison of Tiny Blue Orange, and here’s an interview with her if you also need help handling your DNS’s!)

Stop the Overwhelm Question #5: are you an every damn day worker or a batch worker?

In other words: do you prefer to batch your large tasks or to work on them steadily, day by day?

I’m a batcher by nature, so I’ll have a few moderately productive days and then one day, WHAM HOLY SHIT I GOT A WEEK’S WORTH OF STUFF DONE. My energy comes in big fits (see: if the sun is shining I have 30% more energy), and so my work gets done in big fits.

Trying to get me to work on things for 20 minutes a day, every day, instead of devoting big chunks of time to ongoing projects is okay — I’ll tap in and do the work — but my biggest changes and plot developments come all at once, in quite intense bursts.

And you? How do you work? Do you get overwhelmed by seeing the bulk of a thing, so you prefer to have one task at a time in front of you, or do you love seeing the big picture and chipping away at it from a bird’s eye view?

The way you work matters.

There’s no right or wrong here, there’s only acknowledging the ways that you work, and then building those preferences into your daily rhythm. Give a batcher 5 20-minute tasks to do and she’ll be struggling; give an every damn day worker 9 hours of free, unstructured time to accomplish a gargantuan task and they’ll run screaming for the hills.

Acknowledge your nature. Then work with it.

One of my favorite things about coaching is that I always schedule one work day without coaching calls. That leaves me free to take this show on the road and work from a coffee shop or from outside to my heart’s content. It also leaves me free to follow my batching nature to work on big projects without interruption.

You can do the same thing by scheduling a muggling day, a freedom day, a writing day, or a working-from-anywhere-you-want day — if not once a week, then at least once a month.

This really can be as simple as adding a different way of working to your calendar and then taking the appropriate steps to make sure you’ve got your regular tasks cleared to enjoy that working day as much as possible.

Here are the questions one more time:

Which muggling is currently out of control?
Which muggling is absolutely, positively under your control, no matter how much time it takes up and how many people point out that maybe you don’t need to do that task?
Which muggling tasks do you enjoy?
Which muggling absolutely blows?
Are you an every damn day worker or a batch worker?

Finally: what are three tasks you can add to or remove from your calendar in the name of stopping the overwhelm?

Write ’em down, and then actually add or remove them. I know you’re now overwhelmed by how overwhelmed you are, but I promise that getting the swirling tasks out of your brain and either onto or off of your calendar is massively helpful.

Again, this has been a tiny portion of Phase One of the Steer Your Ship curriculum!

If you’ve found this helpful, schedule a call to talk with me about Steer Your Ship, or download the Steer Your Ship brochure.  We can stop your particular overwhelm together.

P.S.  No more business frappuccinos.