embrace your Quiet nature Archives - Kristen Kalp

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How to hermit without breaking your life.

Hermit cabin

Have you been breathing lately? Are you still a human?

If yes, you might be tempted to retreat from any and all things that involve other humans and never, ever come out of your home again.

I get it. But…

Completely abandoning your routine, your clients, and/or your loved ones at the drop of a hat (or the latest news update involving untold bigotry/racism/sexism/xenophobia/all of the above) will only hurt you in the long run.

You can hermit responsibly, with minimal impact on your income and on your most important relationships.

Promise. I do that shit from November until March.

In this episode of That’s What She Said, I’ll walk you through simple and definitive steps to hermit on the regular without getting to the breaking point where you’re forced to retreat into your bedroom with only chocolate and Slim Jims for sustenance until you can face the world again.

You can go full hermit in a responsible way that doesn’t ruin relationships or freak your clients out, and this is how it starts.

P.S. This whole hermiting tendency is discussed at faaaaaaaar more length in Introverts at Work, my book about marketing and selling strategies for Quiet-with-a-capital-Q business owners.

What do you want to want?

We’re weaving through traffic, past abandoned warehouses, filthy streets, and barbed wire fences that are guarding graveyards, seeing all Philly’s least savory bits in quick succession. We bang a left and it appears: the building where I got Hermione D. Granger 5-ish years ago.

We’ve come to the shelter to adopt a kitten. SURPRISE!

I prop up a smile and grab his hand. I wander into the facility and fight tears. I’m not ready for another cat, even though this is a lovely and thoughtful holiday surprise. I’m not ready to commit to caring for another living thing, no matter how darling or charming or in need of a home that creature might be at the moment. My bandwidth currently holds a giant ghostwriting project, my own smaller writing projects, a host of personal issues, a boyfriend, one cat, one dog, and one flourishing houseplant.

I want to want it.

I want to want to walk through the aisles and choose a little fluff ball to bring home and love forever.

I want to want another animal to take the place of Big Kitty, who passed on a few weeks ago.

But I most definitely don’t want it.

I look into his eyes and ask to leave without looking at puppies (because who can stand the torture of all those sweet homeless faces, and I DEFINITELY ALWAYS want another puppy but don’t have the bandwidth for that, either), and we drive home. Quietly, holding hands, a little deflated.

Turns out, there are plenty of things I want to want.

I suspect you want to want ’em, too, if you’re over the age of 25 and you have internet access and/or a business:

I want to want to be famous. But I don’t. I don’t long for an e-mail list containing hundreds of thousands of people or dream about looking into the faces of millions of my adoring fans.

I almost didn’t go on my first date with my now-love because his roommate was a Brand Camp fan and I didn’t want to go sneaking around their house with him because…weird, right? (Spoiler alert: I got over it. Best first date EVER.)

I want to want a multi-million dollar business. But I don’t. I like being me, myself, and I — the leanest business model on the planet — hiring peeps to help out as I need ’em. I don’t want the multi-million dollar business bonanza because there’s a strong possibility that with it would come a team, and people management, and the knowledge that ten or twelve or twenty or three hundred people rely on me for their paychecks. I would crumple under the pressure, feel trapped by those financial constraints, and promptly self-implode.

I want to want to sell a big-giant-scalable program that costs somewhere between two and thirty thousand dollars. But I don’t. I really get off on writing and human connection, and can’t easily find the joy of human connection in large groups of people I don’t know really well. This isn’t to say that those programs don’t work for others or that I haven’t benefited from taking part in them: simply that I want to want to host one myself. But “NOPE” is the answer, louder and clearer than ever before.  Big and huge and vast are awesome pursuits, they’re just not my focus.

I want to want to own a home. But I don’t. I like calling my landlord and dumping issues in her lap without having to deal with them myself. It’s easier, it’s less stressful, it’s less costly, and it means I don’t have to learn to clean gutters or refinish floors or fix dryers or maintain heaters or handle any of those real-world, real-life Adulting issues related to home ownership.

I want to want babies. But I don’t. When women say they have baby fever or their “ovaries hurt” (don’t look oddly at me, guys, I’M QUOTING) when they hold babies, I have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about. I see cooing and lovely, tiny creatures and make silly faces at them and am never, ever tempted to make one of my own.  My open letter to moms is still very true.

I want to want to go to parties. But I don’t. Like most introverts, I want to hear about a party and think, OH HOLY SHIT I MUST ATTEND. But I never, ever do. I’m a fairly quiet homebody whose idea of a party is having a few people over for sparklers and a white elephant gift exchange on New Year’s Eve. We’ll fill out blank Cards Against Humanity cards if we wanna get crazy. 😉

So, reader-friend…

What do you want to want?

What do you, if you’re deep down honest with yourself, feel like you should want but not actually fucking want?

Because it’s okay. It’s okay to not want a seven-figure business, or a legion of adoring fans, or to hit X benchmark that everyone agrees is important. If it’s not important to you, it’s not actually important.

You don’t have to own a home or birth a child or have a seven-figure business or launch a giant-ass program or hire a team or book out your client roster a year in advance. You don’t have to adopt another kitten or dog or child or houseplant or to-do list task. You don’t have to answer all your e-mails in 20 minutes or 20 hours or even 20 days, if you find a creative way around it. You don’t have to start a Facebook group. You don’t have to found a community or try to develop passive income or buy fresh peonies for your table every Tuesday in order to be a decent human being.

Take a careful inventory of the shit you want to want — it’s an odd sort of painful, the wanting to want — and then say ’em out loud.

These things you don’t actually want lose their power when you call ’em out.

I don’t want a kitten. I don’t want to buy a house. I don’t want to be famous. I don’t want a multi-million dollar business or head up a team. I don’t want to birth a child. And I don’t want to go to parties. Not ever, not once, unless it’s a wedding, because that’s a damn good excuse for loving the shit out of people and getting dressed up.

I don’t want ___________ or _______________ and most especially not _____________, even though ________ says I should.

I don’t want my life to look like ____________’s or ____________’s or his or hers or my __________’s, either.

I don’t want to ______________. Or _____________.

I have never wanted _____________________.

I still don’t want __________________________. (Not even a little.)

Being clear about the desires you don’t have makes more space for the shit you really want.

I want a shelf full of books I’ve written. I want to work with people one-on-one. I want to learn to be a better stepmom/stepgirlfriend/stepawkwardtitle. I want to travel at the drop of a hat. I want to have the option of going to sleep and watching only shitty romantic comedies when the weather is grey and rainy in the middle of winter. I want to have enough time to surprise my friends at work with lunch. I want to have enough money to make a life and inspire others to do the same. I want to teach people that business at its best is a vehicle for bringing your greatest gifts to light. I want to remind everyone who reads my blog that there’s nothing wrong with you.

It’s okay to want what you want.

More importantly, today, it’s okay to not want what you don’t want.

P.S.  As long as you’re getting rid of pseudo-desires, you might as well check out Konmari that doesn’t suck for your business.

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How to write a book

I believe in the sanctity of the kitchen table.

I believe in writing as often as possible, for as long as possible, until you’ve wrung your brain dry of its contents and you’ve got nothing but the capacity for physical tasks left within you.

I believe in circling back to the table each morning, wearing pants or not, showered or not, ready to write or not, and scrawling your whole fucking heart down the length of the whole fucking page.

Whether your writing is interesting isn’t your concern.

The kitchen table is about telling the truth. All of it, even when you’re complaining about being a female and how that means you’re expected to cook meals of dinosaur chicken nuggets over and over without complaint because the kids are picky, and how men send up stunned and panicked alert flares when they are forced to cook perfect grilled cheese sandwiches on demand, slowly realizing the extent to which their children do not in any way appreciate the act of being fed at their leisure. (A stranger will overhear this conversation and call the show you should be writing, ‘Welcome to Having a Vagina.’ This will strike you as accurate and perfect.)

Your writing doesn’t have to be breathtaking.

You don’t have to scale Everest or defeat stage four cancer or earn a billion dollars in order to string words into sentences; glory is easy.

It’s much harder to capture the nuance of the everyday: all the burdens we cannot name. The strain of being constantly plugged in, tuned in, and generally aware of the events going on across the room, the state, the country, the planet. The pain of comparing ourselves to strangers on the internet. The strange sorrow that comes of knowing we can’t possibly have it all, consume it all, or even read it all in this lifetime.

The constant, curious knowledge that every passing minute narrows our life choices by 60 tiny clicks — and sometimes in those clicks, we can only hear, “This isn’t what I want” chanted over and over again.

Your writing doesn’t have to be original.

Sentences follow rules for damn good reasons. You don’t have to improvise a new sentence structure like some kind of crazy-ass letter jazz. You only have to get closer and closer to saying what you mean to say.

Your writing doesn’t have to mean a damn thing to anyone else.

Coming to the kitchen table doesn’t mean other people care about what you’re saying; it means you care about what you’re saying. Writing means you’re willing to set a place for yourself at the table, to feed your deepest and darkest and most interesting bits the steady diet of a listening ear and a few minutes of your time.

Publishing your work doesn’t mean a damn thing except that you have internet access.

The kitchen table is a sacred pact between you and your own life: your ability to show up, to get the pieces down, to lay the foundation for a life of listening to your voice and then fashioning the scraps into something you find interesting.

Something you.

Find interesting.

Other people’s interest is a bonus, but by no means required.

Your poems do not have to be shown to another soul.

Same goes for your essays, stories, novels, tales: entirely yours.

Your kitchen table time, your writing time, is a respite from the constant demands of consumerism.

Each word is a tiny banner flapping “I make, I make, I make” in the face of the prevailing societal winds busy screaming “Consume, consume, consume.”

Writing affords you the surety of knowing you’ve turned up on your own behalf; acted as your own counsel; listened to your own voice long enough to discern your thoughts from the general rumpus; and found a way to express those thoughts when it would be easier to do anything else.

The kitchen table is there, waiting, inviting you not to plan a better or different or more acclaimed writing life.

The table is there, waiting for you to write.

Writing a book (whether short story collection or memoir or novel or poetry collection or epic or how-to) is the act of showing up to the kitchen table, over and over again, until the work is done.

May you choose the completely common miracle of the kitchen table, over and over again.

May you someday bear witness to all those words flapping their banners in the wind, proclaiming the steady truth of your work as you enter the castle you’ve been building, all this time, letter by letter and line by line.

P.S. I wrote these words for Calling to the Deep: business as a spiritual practice. You can pick up a copy in print or digital form.  Or, grab a free sample chapter here!