for your darkest hours Archives - Kristen Kalp

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Be the human.

There’s this new thing going around: angry people on the internets. 😉

People are angrier than ever, it seems, and the articles and videos they’re passing around amp up the anger because clickbait gets clicks and outrage is the easiest way to get someone else on your side.

Only I grew up with a yelling Mom, and by age 5 I could keep reading my book while she screamed about the dusting I needed to do or the laundry I needed to hang or the playing I needed to do outside, and don’t come back in until it’s dark.

I learned early on to tune out screaming, and I didn’t even grow up in a particularly aggressive household.

We humans tune out anger and outrage quickly and effectively. (Which brings us back to Facebook.)

When we keep anger and outrage in circulation by passing along an article or a video that stokes the fires of hatred, we’re keeping anger and outrage in circulation. That is often all anyone can see or hear or feel, particularly those who disagree with us or who are not inclined to see our side with any sort of kindness.

People can feel our contempt. They can discern our hatred for those who voted a certain way. It blinds them to feeling anything else and dismantles our ability to have the kind of real and true conversations that could cause a change of heart to happen.

I suggest we take on a new slogan as we attempt to birth a new world inside this one: be the human.

Just…be the human.

Not BE THE CHANGE, which is our secondary purpose and which will bring in all sorts of righteous adjustments to our world; just be the human.

Being the human means making eye contact and saying “hi” to people and petting dogs and talking to their owners and smiling at strangers and sanitation workers and everyone we meet.

In my case, it means talking to that lady at the diner who voted for the notoriously-hard-to-reach Pat Toomey and who has a car covered in Pro-Life bumper stickers. (In her case, it means talking to the pink-haired woman who got excited about hearing Bernie Sanders speak. Her job is no easier.)

When we challenge ourselves to be the human, we can’t lead with fear or anger. We already know this in real life — scowling at people in Target as we pick up our toilet paper and our paper towels endears us to absolutely no one — but somehow we forget this online.

Maybe because we don’t have to make eye contact? Or because the nameless, faceless ‘them’ is easier to imagine there? Or because there are no babies in carts smiling at everyone, reminding us that giggling at babies is an action every human can get behind?

Being the human means we have to at least try taking fear and anger out of circulation before we proceed with our conversations.

The room has to be swept free of contempt before connection can happen.

That sucks. It’s easier to hate the other side and to dehumanize everyone who doesn’t agree with us/you/me. It’s easier to build walls than to find common ground, especially when it seems that our common ground is, in fact, limited to smiling at babies.

The media is also aimed squarely at blasting our outrage buttons, no matter what we believe, which makes just freaking BEING THE HUMAN an act of resistance.  (Let’s not be deterred in our efforts.)

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It’s easier to spend our energies like VIPs in the club popping bottles of outrage than it is to mete out our resistance in steady, daily actions.

Being the human means we ask questions of ourselves first and of others second. Last week I wasn’t in my usual Target and decided that this Target’s layout was wrong. Not ‘different.’ ‘WRONG.’ Because it wasn’t laid out like the one I prefer.

If my brain is busy trying to make Target aisles ‘wrong,’ how easy is it for my brain to demonize living, breathing humans who disagree with me?

Being the human means we can look at ourselves in the mirror and be proud that we haven’t simply spewed vitriol on nameless, faceless people or that one really annoying guy in our Facebook feed.

Being the human means we commit to decency and mutual respect — the groundwork for living in a world in which we can disagree and then go about our work in the world with freaking love in our hearts.

Being the human means that we can see that we’re all in this together — like it or not — and that those smiling babies in those Target carts deserve a world that hasn’t been completely ripped apart by hate, fear, and contempt.

We all deserve to live in that world, and we can start making it today.

If you’d like to hear more from me about the ways we can take action toward a better world without the use of Super Soakers, I encourage you to join the totally free Fuck Yah Club. I’ll send you poems and uplifting pieces that make you say “fuck yah” to life, and they’ll be accompanied by hard-hitting animal GIFs. Come on, you know you can use more hard-hitting animal GIFs.

P.S.  If bridging the political divide seems unreasonable, here’s a primer on how to be unreasonable.

The tender-hearted guide to making big, big change

Sometimes big change comes upon you slowly, like one song fading into the air while another fades out, and sometimes it comes collapsing down on you like an ancient tower crumbling in a windstorm. Whether a slow unfolding or a sudden event, big change means big emotions, and big emotions often mean turmoil of some kind.

This, then, is the tender-hearted guide to making big, big change. How do you deal with the turmoil of watching what you’ve loved/built/created/worked on/adored crumble? How do you sort through the pieces for the good/interesting/worthwhile bits without scrapping everything? How do you stop yourself from saying ALL OF IT WAS A WASTE and then taking up your vice of choice?

First: grieve.

This is the hardest and most essential element of the death of any project, life choice, or season: the grieving.

You’ll naturally want to run into the next thing. You’ll naturally want to blink back the tears and push down the pain and ignore what feels like tiny elves bashing at your eyeballs from the inside out, demanding that you cry in all the everyday places you normally frequent. (See: pharmacy, diner, bank, sidewalk, car, bathroom, bed.)

When a season ends, it’s okay to cry.

That sounds so obvious and trite and even condescending until it’s actually happening to you — until you’re actually looking back at the landscape of your life’s choices and mourning all those pieces that no longer fit.

Grieving hurts. By definition. There’s no avoiding it. The good news is, the less you fight it, the faster it will pass. When you let yourself fall apart over breakfast and in the car and in your partner’s arms and while eating bruschetta at the local Italian restaurant (SO NOT SPEAKING FROM EXPERIENCE HERE WHAT GIVES YOU THAT IDEA), you’re making space for the next thing.

You’re acknowledging the charred ruins of what you thought could last forever, and you’re hunting the tiny, glowing embers that will carry you into the next phase of your existence.

That’s brutally painful, because for every glowing ember, you’ll find something you didn’t think you could handle losing. (In non-metaphorical terms: you can spend seven years building a business one way, only to step away and stand still as you let the whole thing crumple. You built a whole skyscraper from your heart, and what remains is so small it clanks around in a carry-on-sized suitcase.)

The suitcase will serve you. It’s best to travel lightly.

When you’ve got your pieces…

Focus on the next step.

Just the one. You’ll want to make a 23-pronged plan and scale your ambitions or nudges of intuition with graphs and charts and scales and…no. Don’t.

The one step in front of you is generally quite simple.

You’ll take more breaks.
You’ll ask for the sale more often.
You’ll cut back on the products you offer.
You’ll introduce a new service.
You’ll enroll in a class.

Naturally, though, you’ll scale up and make ‘cutting back on products’ equal creating three new products to celebrate the products that are going away, then add a giveaway and a sale and a hashtag and a social media plan and…it gets complicated.

Try to resist the complicating and the scaling, focusing on the one simple thing you’re meant to do next. People will step in with all sorts of (ever more complicated) advice, but it’s your job to stick to the one thing.

Finally, and most importantly: be kind to yourself.

You know how we all teach what we need to learn? Yah, this is when I write directly to myself (but you can watch!). Patience is not only a virtue, but a necessity, as you choose kindness over and over again.

When you flog yourself for not seeing what is now so obvious.
When you shake your head at all the signs that mean you should have done this long ago.
When you consider firebombing your old self because (s)he is so, so stupid.
When you’re crying for the fifth time in three hours about what appears to be nothing,
or hiding from the world unshowered for the second day (read: week) in a row,
or scrolling through screens instead of doing anything that truly feeds you,
or berating yourself for all the ways you just. Aren’t. Enough.

Choose kindness.

Let your shoulders stop eating your ears and breathe into your heart and practice the difficult art of forgiving yourself. (I know, right? I scoffed when a friend told me, too.) Forgiving yourself is one of the most powerful arts you can practice in everyday life, and it means you’ll survive this latest change with something like grace and aplomb.

Seasons end, and what you thought was a sure thing turns out to be…not the surest thing anymore, and this is part of being human. You grow, you change, you shift, and you respond accordingly.

May you be brave enough to make the changes as they come, and may you know the relief and joy on the other side of watching your own work fall to the ground.

Hugs,
K

P.S.  I totally read this to you in the latest episode of That’s What She Said.

For when it all falls apart.

When it all falls apart,
let it.

Trying to save a brick here
or a scrap of gold there
during the act of tumbling to the ground
doesn’t help and isn’t wise
and probably means you break an arm or a leg
during an acrobatic feat gone wrong.

When it all falls apart,
let it.

And on that morning, long from now,
when you find those three pieces
that have survived,
you’ll see the way they fit together
into some new and necessary
way of being.

When it all falls apart,
let it.

P.S.  More of my poems here.

All the Selves I Used to Be

All the Selves I Used to Be

$16.69
Author:
These are 69 poems written from 1999-2016, brought together to represent the good, the bad, and the ugly about coming of age with the internet, before the word 'Millennial' existed, before iPhones had been created, before the claws of social media got their talons into everyone. More info →
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