embrace your Quiet nature Archives - ⚡️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?)

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!

The waterfall, the bucket, and big magic.

In the storied past — which all of us remember, to some extent — you had to go seeking most anything you wanted to consume.

To obtain a book, you had to go to a store or your local library. To read an article, you had to pick up a magazine or a newspaper. To hear music, you had to listen to a record or a tape or a CD using a physical device that couldn’t be moved easily. (And my GOD, when Walkmans came out, we all rejoiced!)

To watch a movie, you had to either visit the theater or stumble into Blockbuster with your friend(s) and fight for twenty minutes about what to watch before agreeing upon a film nobody particularly objected to seeing. To see photographs, you had to open an album or rifle through a shoebox or develop them yourself, in a tiny black room that smelled like chemicals and feet had a particularly disgusting olfactory baby.

To be moved by others’ creations, you had to go looking for them.

You couldn’t simply touch a tiny rectangular device and see endless streams of other people’s photographs, or touch that same device and read books from now until your death without ceasing, never once having to leave your home or talk to another human in your quest to find more reading material.

You couldn’t watch every popular movie from the last fifty years with minimal investment, back to back to back to back, drowning out the more subtle soundtrack of your thighs expanding with the sound of crunching Cheetos.

Nor could you sign up for new thirty classes in the space of ten minutes, devoting yourself to yoga and to meditation, to learning Chinese and memoir writing, to financial investing and real estate within the time it takes for an episode of your favorite TV show to finish. Because once, you had to learn with other humans, too.

Once, you took your bucket to the waterfall to be filled.

Now, the waterfall comes blasting out of your tiny rectangle at any time of the day or night, 24/7, and your bucket — your delightful, miraculous red bucket — will never, ever be big enough.

All the world’s buckets, combined, aren’t enough to contain the information available at your fingertips.

How do we participate in this tiny rectangular society, so rife with inspiration and comparison, ingesting and consuming, without drowning in the virtual waters?

How do we begrudgingly admire Kanye’s confidence while simultaneously shunning news about Kanye while secretly wondering how he does it — how he keeps making shit despite the cacophony aimed in his direction at every waking moment of every single day?

How can we say anything at all without contributing to the fucking NOISE of it all?

How do we hear ourselves above the cacophony?

We can unplug completely, washing our hands of the whole riotous and messy beast known as the internet. But. Then we become people who have opted out of the system, thus rendering us incapable of changing it from the inside.

We can limit time with the internet, absolutely. But that doesn’t stop us from having a too-small bucket for the all-too-big torrent of ideas and classes and drivel and cat videos and films and photographs and articles and books and courses and programs and memes pointed in our direction.

Truly, I’m asking. How do we hear ourselves above the cacophony?

Because I want to learn about shamanism and dance while enjoying otter videos and knowing how many people the Golden Girls slept with and dreaming of a whole closet full of Bill Murray apparel, and I want to enjoy the worlds my friends are creating and read what they’re writing while keeping a still, sacred space for shitty television that fills me up in a way classier programming cannot.

I also want to hear my own damn voice and then share what I’m saying with other people.

By virtue of speaking at all, I’m adding to the noise that drives me insane.

Should I practice silence?
Practice shutting the fuck up so other people can talk?
Might that be the solution?

But then people with 19 kids get TV shows, and Trump is running for POTUS, and the other voices speaking without my being able to say a word feel like they’re smooshing my brain, Roger-Rabbit-style, under a steamroller.

I cannot NOT write.
I have to say my piece.
I have to type these words,
however confused and directionless they may be,
and share them where I might find others who think the same things.

We are drowning in chatter of our own making.

How can we turn our attention to doing the work only we can do — when that work involves adding to the chatter in some way, by virtue of having been created?

Have we, by finding first-world solutions for grocery shopping and laundering, fashion creation and transportation, garbage removal and home design, invented an even bigger problem to take its place?

How do we tame the insatiable monster, the glaring beast rendered from billions of pieces of digital ephemera, that we feed in the name of proving ourselves alive on this planet?

…and the biggest, darkest, most difficult question of all: can we call spending 70% of any given day with a screen living, in the first place…?

If you’re thinking these thoughts, too…I encourage you to pull the whole thing to the side of the road and take a seat in the meadow. Let your engine stop purring, let your phone sleep in another room, and share this article to encourage others to do the same. Also, it might be time for Calling to the Deep.

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