make meaning Archives - ⚡️Kristen Kalp

Posts in "make meaning" Category

These are all the words I have right now.

Supreme Court my ass

I’m certain you’ve already read many, many, MANY words about what’s been happening in the United States over the past week.

I’m sure you’ve seen many graphic carousels of ways to be helpful, and also, I am certain…

You have many, many feelings within you about everything that’s happening.

Sad Am Fine GIF by MOODMAN

There’s an indignity and complete lack of humanity

embedded within capitalism

that means we have to push, strive, hustle, and show up

when our hearts are broken,

when our rights are stripped from our bodies,


has just been legislated away.

There are many, many calls to action on the planet right now: everything seems to be burning.



Asshole brain defaults to three categories of thoughts when it wants to take away your power: ‘you’re too much,’ ‘you’re not enough,’ and ‘why bother.’


Your brain will whisper that there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING you can do about the various dumpster fires burning on the world stage right now.

Instead of following that ‘why bother’ line of thinking, please do something revolutionary: feel your feelings.

Without access to your feelings, you’re locked in a cage of numbness that grows sharper and tighter every day.

Meltdown Feels GIF

Let your rage become the fire that leads you to action.

Let your sadness guide you to extremely articulate visions for your society and for the world at large.

Let your worry and fear help you crystallize the actions you ARE going to take, the things that DO matter to you, and the people and places you will do everything in your power to protect.

In other words, for the next few weeks, as you watch the world spin even faster and as you grow more and more overwhelmed…please feel.

You are not ‘overreacting.’

You are not ‘too much.’

You are not ‘being dramatic.’

With yesterday’s supreme court ruling, we are talking about THE DEATH OF THE ENTIRE PLANET AND EVERY BEING ON IT.

feelings feels GIF

There is NO amount of yelling or stomping or raging or crying you can personally do that would be ‘too much’ for this situation.

Western cultures label nearly ALL expression of emotion ‘too much’ – it’s why ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ might be the U.K.’s greatest export – when, in fact, we are not feeling NEARLY ENOUGH.

When we feel deeply and fully, we pass through the overwhelm of sensations and into clarity, purpose, and wholeness.

When we (try to) amputate our feelings, we grow more numb, more distract-able, and more complacent in every aspect of our lives.

We lose access to our intuition and our deepest knowing.

We hand our power to those who ABSOLUTELY DO NOT DESERVE IT.

We accept poems from those in power instead of FIERCE, DIRECTED ACTION.

Nancy Pelosi GIF by GIPHY News

Whatever else you do right now – whichever actions feel deeply aligned and meaningful in this time – I beg you to feel your feelings.









Let’s stop gaslighting ourselves out of feeling and out of our own bodies, pretending that we best serve the world when we have merely kept calm and carried on.

Please, please, PLEASE find a safe way to lose your shit.

(If you don’t know what that means or how that might work, give breathwork a try. There are both free and paid breathwork classes available from yours truly right here.)

It’s only with our bodies, feelings, and intuition intact that we can BEGIN to comprehend next moves, strategic plans, and whatever it will take to navigate the coming months.

With you, with you, with you –


P.S. This poem wanted to come along for the ride:

Hope is so goddamn heavy


There are days when we manage

to ignore the crumbling

around us, the creak of systems

falling and failing, the latest news promising

more unprecedented events,

more dire circumstances,

more shortages,

more disease.


And there are days when we don’t,

can’t, won’t. When it’s all too much

and we turn to each other,

our hearts laid open, to ask

for help and care and please please

don’t leave me here

in this mess



We prop up our best hopes –

sometimes only an atom or two between us,

last of our reserves —

the smallest feast worth sharing,

and in that small glow

we lock eyes.

(If nothing else, right then,

we are not alone.)

Pandemic, Year 3.

Hello and welcome to…pandemic, year 3.

Pop Tv Dammit GIF by Schitt's Creek

Let’s prepare for this glorious chaos, shall we?

This is an episode of That’s What She Said meant to help you do the work of keeping your 2022 MEANS MORE GOALS MORE HUSTLE AND MORE ACHIEVING bits in check.

Because SO MUCH of life is outside your control…what are you going to get from this year, no matter what?

Let’s get clear on your Scope of Work. This is covered in greater detail in That’s What She Said episode 236, found at – if you want to dive deeper.

The short version: Capitalism skews toward goals being simple and MORE-based. I’ve seen this play out for clients who are looking for ‘more’ clients or ‘more’ sales. When they fail to define what ‘more’ is, it quickly becomes infinite and unreachable. You will NEVER feel like you’ve successfully gotten ‘more’ clients, ’cause the answer to getting more clients is…getting MORE clients.

Based on your physical, mental, and emotional energy — as well as the time you’ve got — what can you realistically handle creating, offering, and marketing in 2022?

THAT is your scope of work for 2022.

My scope of work this year is to hold Imaginarium workshops here in Philly to help people recover their sense of connection to themselves and to one another right here in the midst of pandemic. Hit up to book a call and talk with me about attending! I’ll also be working one-on-one with about 15 business coaching clients in KK on Tap (again — talk to me if you’d like work in and on your business together!) and writing poems like a mofo.

Knowing exactly how much you can do before overwhelm wins or the wheels come off will help you move through overwhelm and whatever the year holds with greater ease.

Doing the work of defining what you can do means you won’t go insane by chasing some stronger, lighter, better, more ideal or perfect version of yourself.

It’s okay if your scope of work today is not the same as it was in The Before.

Five years ago, my current scope of work would have been the START of a much longer set of tasks that also included ghostwriting a book or two, launching a class or two, and hopping on a plane to travel to workshops and speaking gigs at least four times. But Then is not Now.

It’s okay if you have less capacity for work today than you did at some point in the past. (Due to long Covid, my brain takes about twice as long to write and to shape teaching materials as it did in 2019.)

It’s okay if today’s version of you is overwhelmed more easily by thinking about your scope of work than you would have been at age 19, or 24, or whatever age you’ve mentally tabbed as your glory days.

The pandemic has shaped and is shaping each of us as it moves through.

Your scope of work is a function of time, money, and energy. It’s about working toward a place where you’ve hit ‘enough’ with all three – without tipping into burnout or despair.

So, what are you gonna do this year, no matter what?

And can the whole thing fit on a napkin or post-it note?

THAT’s a doable scope of work.

Which emotions and experiences will you cultivate no matter what happens?

…and this year, more than ever, maybe we can leave room for imagination. For not knowing. For what if. For riding the waves and rolling with the punches.

January 4, 2022

The headlines say civil war is on the way
and while this may not be the biggest news to hit planet earth,
it really does fuck with my goal-setting.

Is surviving enough?

How are we to catch the systems as they crumble…?

What is the right way to go about rectifying reality —
and what if the other side has most of the guns?

I hear a quiet voice say, “Ask better questions.”

What if Pentagon funding could be turned into free childcare,
fair pay for teachers, and art absolutely

What if tanks could be turned into trumpets?

What if corporations no longer had rights?

What if we learned to stop
buying more bullshit things
from our scroll machines?

What if we learned to put it all down
and look each other
in the eyes?

What if we learned
to put it all

And look.

If you’d like to be held accountable for actually sticking to that scope of work you’ve just made, please lemme tell you about The Imaginarium. It’s a live, in-person event in Philly for the fully vaccinated in which we help you figure out where you are at this point in pandemic – and where you’d like to go. Then, we use group coaching via monthly check-ins and weekly meetups to get you there. You’ll make straightforward progress in the direction of your choosing while being connected to other absolutely phenomenal humans.

As Kelsi texted me yesterday, “I treasure this group so much. For me, I’m getting better at articulating what I’m feeling and needing, and asking for I want in my life because of this space. And I just cherish these women and celebrate the magnificent growth they’ve all experienced in such a short amount of time.”

Your fellow workshop goers are amazing. And the work we do together is a big fat gorgeous heaping bonus. Again, hit up to talk with me about attending The Imaginarium in 2022!

P.S.  Need another coaching quickie?  Start a no collection.

Square Zero

Square One means you know where you are and have some idea of the tasks that lie ahead.

You’ve moved before, so you know there are boxes to be packed and unpacked; utilities to transfer to your name; furniture to rearrange and a new neighborhood to learn.

Square Zero feels like you live in Flan, or Blueberry, or The Quadratic Equation.

Wait, what? How did I get here? WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING RIGHT NOW?

That’s disorientation.

Square Zero means you’ve never been to this particular place, and you have no idea how to move out of, through, or beyond it.

Psst! This is an episode of my podcast, That’s What She Said! Listen in below or keep reading for a transcript-ish version. 👇🏼

I remember crying so hard that I was sure my body had lost all liquid when Donald Trump won the Presidential election in 2016. Disorientation came with thoughts like, ‘I don’t know anything about life,’ ‘I don’t understand anything about America,’ and ‘I clearly don’t understand a goddamn thing about humans.’ (You know, really simple and not even a tiny bit dramatic statements!)

Square Zero can’t be solved by jumping into action-taking mode.

Everything in our culture is geared toward TAKE ACTION NOW.

You want to lose weight? START WORKING OUT.

You want to make a bajillion dollars? GET TO HUSTLING.

You want to make a better world? GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY RIGHT NOW.

Our collective TAKE ACTION NOW bias abandons the very human parts of ourselves that are paralyzed by disorientation.

How do you know what to do if you don’t know what’s happening or where you are?

How do you move in the direction of your dreams if a tornado of systemic collapse just blasted your reality to pieces?

Square Zero requires a great deal of empathy for where you are in this moment.

If you’re underwater and you don’t know which way is up — a physical experience of disorientation — swimming will only waste your energy. You’ve got to stay underwater until such time as you know where the sunlight is coming from, and THEN swim toward the surface.

It’s hard to know where the sunlight is right now.

It’s hard to know which actions will bear fruit and which are just spinning our wheels.

It’s difficult to plan for the future with anything resembling certainty.

Our lives are basically a series of if/then flow charts with Covid and its variants causing chaos at the center.

Pandemic caused (and is still causing) MASSIVE disorientation.

We’ve been collectively spinning in some form of WTF IS THIS??? since March 2020.

We are told that this will end; or it won’t; well, maybe; nah, nevermind.

From the CDC, we’ve gotten guidance like, We don’t need masks if we’re vaccinated; OH YES WE CERTAINLY DO; actually, everything is optional; JUST KIDDING WEAR MASKS AND STAY HOME.


Are you currently experiencing disorientation about your work? About what makes your life meaningful? About what you’d like to do and be in the world? About what the future of your home/school/place of worship/community looks like?

That’s normal. We’ve never been here before.

This is where asshole brain gets awesome: it tries to convince you that YOU ARE TOO STUPID TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM and EVERYONE ELSE HAS THEIR SHIT FIGURED OUT and also, THIS PROBLEM IS UNSOLVABLE.

It doesn’t matter what the problem is or how big the problem is; Square Zero can apply to pandemic life as well as to opening a cereal box that’s been duct-taped shut.

A better question for Square Zero might be: where is the light? What, if anything, is bringing you even 3% joy at this moment?


Even if it doesn’t make sense or is ‘too expensive’ or you ‘don’t have time’ for it. Maybe it’s a new hobby with very involved processes, or maybe it’s enjoying the sweet, sweet hours-long quiet of morning once the kids have gone to school. (Some call this ‘rest.’)

It’s entirely possible that your painting practice is the difference between your ability to withstand the rest of pandemic and your total collapse. (Related: your art will save your life.)


Just because something isn’t entirely ‘logical’ or isn’t valued by capitalism doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.

Where there is any joy or light in disorientation, trust it. Follow it.

Let the wildest parts of your spirit lead you back to yourself, bit by bit.

Judging yourself for not knowing won’t help you know any faster.

Freaking out won’t make the way clearer.

Taking action because being still is too painful will only waste your energy.

Let your longings speak to you.

Let your uncertainty have its say.

Let your whole being want what it wants,

love what it loves,

enjoy what it enjoys.

And eventually — I promise, eventually —

you’ll find Square One.

The next step will emerge.

The path will make itself known.

You’ll leave this place of not knowing

wiser and stronger, more connected

to your own interiors and the world at large.

You will.

You will.

But first…let your crumbs of light lead.

If you’d like my help navigating from Square Zero, book a call and talk with me!

I’ll listen to where you are and then hook you up with one of the the three 1-on-1 options available for working with me at this time!  (We can work together in person, virtually through KK on Tap, or soooon in Philly at The Imaginarium!  But you gotta talk to me!)

P.S. Joy is an act of resistance.

The Absence and The Presence

Let’s bring a prevalent-but-often-unspoken portion of our collective pandemic pain into the light and examine it because, as Mister Rogers taught me, anything mentionable is manageable.

The goal here is simply to name the pain you might be feeling and to let you know you’re not alone. Not to judge or scold you. Not to induce guilt or shame. Simply to mention what’s happening so that you/I/we can manage it going forward.

Psst! This is an episode of my podcast, That’s What She Said! View all 250+ episodes here. Keep reading or listen in for the extended version. 👇🏼

Story #1:

We arrive around 2:30 in the afternoon and put our bags down and go running out the back doors: mud.

Where the Airbnb photos promised us a shimmering and scenic body of water, there is only mud.

Smelly, foul-looking, deep deep mud.

“WELP, that’s climate change,” I mutter, and then the three of us sit quietly on the dock.

“I mean, it’s not like we can complain because they can’t control the water.”

“At least we have shade when we sit out here…?”

We sit with the disappointment, breathing into this girls’ weekend’s VERY ABSENT piece de resistance: shimmering, soothing, nature-y water.

A few minutes later, Dawn perks up: “Is there more water than there used to be?”

Where there was a teeny tiny steam of water moving through the mud, there’s now more water…a flowing stream.

The wading birds arrive and catch the tiniest fish glinting in the incoming bay water.

“IT’S LIKE A NATURE SHOW!” I exclaim. We watch the tide coming in like toddlers, amazed by every last detail.

More birds arrive: herons and gulls and little swooping birds I can’t name. We watch more bird fishing go down, sometimes by wading and sometimes by dive bombing from above.

Within two hours, the dock is once again perched over water. Amazing, soothing, nature-y water.

If you’re laughing because we didn’t realize tides could mean there’s NO water and then LOTS of water — YUP. I’ve only ever seen the ocean, which never just disappears from the beaches I’ve visited, so this was a shocker.

It’s also a metaphor for the whole thing: The Absence and The Presence.

There was an absence, which we felt (and smelled), and then there was a presence, which we appreciated all the more because minutes before we had resigned ourselves to ‘enjoying’ the view of the smelly mud.

At some level this is how all of life works, starting with breathing itself. There’s the absence of breath — the exhale — followed by the presence of breath — the inhale. One follows the other for as long as we live. The tides roll in and out; we work, we rest; the sun rises, the sun sets. Presence, absence, presence, absence.

Story #2:

The aforementioned girls’ weekend was strictly unplugged. We used GPS to get to the property and to navigate to the next major town, but that was it. No games, music, apps, news, email, texts, phone calls, or notifications. We were gloriously free of our devices and could fully sink into presence.

We watched nature and went exploring and cooked dinner and talked and laughed and cried and slept and read books and connected deeply. The Absence of phones allowed for The Presence of our full selves.

On Tuesday, when I sat down to work, my interiors were experiencing FLAMING HOT RAGING CONVULSIONS OF FREAK-OUT. Inner tantrum levels were similar to those of a Kindergartener who refuses to get dressed and go to school while the bus is pulling up to her stop. There was crying and flailing. There was an outright refusal to get to work even though the clock said it was time to begin.

‘What’s going on,’ I asked myself…and the answer was SCREENS.

What’s this about? Why am I FREAKING THE FUCK OUT when I’ve just had so much rest and connection?

Unless the connection IS the problem.

The Presence of other humans in deep time contrasted so sharply with firing up my laptop and getting to my online work that my whole being threw a righteous fit.

I am starved for deep human Presence and connection.

And I’ll bet you are, too.

The modern world is dominated by Absence.

You’re talking to someone and they pick up their phone to pay attention to a notification: ABSENCE.

You’re in the middle of a story when a call or text arrives and the other person leaps to their device: ABSENCE.

You don’t know what to do with the afternoon so you fire up a streaming service and grab some chips: ABSENCE.

You’re bored af so you spend the next few minutes/hours/days scrolling on social media: ABSENCE.

Devices all but guarantee that Absence rules the room.

Further! We’re *promised* Presence by social media — LOOK HOW MANY INFLUENCERS ARE INFLUENCING RIGHT NOW — but rarely experience it.

We’re given infinite numbing tools — ABSENCE — and wonder why we don’t feel more connected to ourselves. Or each other. (Some days navigating the internet feels like eating three pounds of fake bacon and hoping that if I eat enough of it, I’ll forget how actual, real, not-fake bacon tastes.)

We’re respectful of public safety as the Delta variant continues to circulate — ABSENCE — and don’t see/touch/hug/interact with as many humans in any two weeks of 2021 as we had access to on any given *day* in The Before.

I am starved for human connection, and giving me a taste of Presence for a few days only made The Absence in the other days more obvious.


The Absence of screens allows for The Presence of deep and rich human connection.

The Presence of screens causes unhappiness, full stop.

“The results could not be clearer: teens who spend more time on screen activities are more likely to be unhappy, and those who spend more time than average on nonscreen activities are more likely to be happy.

There’s not a single exception.

All screen activities are linked to less happiness and all nonscreen activities are linked to more happiness.” — From The Atlantic’s article, ‘Has the Smartphone Destroyed a Generation‘ by Jean M. Twenge, Sept 2017

These ‘screens mean unhappiness’ findings were evident BEFORE pandemic. BEFORE we had less human connection than ever before due to Covid.

The longer pandemic goes on, the more acutely I feel The Absence. There’s a hollowed out version of my heart that remembers walking up to babies in Target and making them giggle for no good reason. It also remembers life before smartphones and before Zoom and even before the internet itself. When we had nowhere to be but right here…and even if ‘right here’ was objectively terrible…at least we were here TOGETHER.

That’s gone now. Absence.

What’s Present is infinite scrolling. More (and more AND MORE AND MORE!) posts, reels, likes, clicks, streams, and feeds. The Absence of meaning.

Ongoing stress so enormous that 100% of my clients report remembering fewer details and needing to write more stuff down so they’ll be able to do their work. The Absence of memory.

Memes stacked up in my text messages like endless mind-Doritos. (Sure, Doritos are fun. But if you only eat Doritos for a few days, we both know you’re gonna feel like garbage.) The Absence of nourishment.

Distract-ability so high that I’ve gotten off of FaceTime calls and cried because I didn’t get what I needed. Sure, I just saw my best friends, but there was so much else going on — cats! doorbells! interruptions! — that we couldn’t possibly connect deeply. The Absence of depth.

At one level, I’m being a big cry baby and whining about having to use screens to do my work, which I’m privileged enough to do from home. I acknowledge this fully and am grateful for my ability to shelter in place for the duration of pandemic.

And at another level, I’m crying about the biggest crises of our shared humanity at the soul level: The Absence of meaning, The Absence of depth, The Absence of nourishment.

“We have the same problem in our culture as we do in our bodies: we take in too much that’s nonnutritive, whether it’s junk food or junk information, and we attempt to be fed by it. We pour in so much information, so much food, and our bodies and minds and emotions get constipated, clogged, overloaded…Of the information we take in, how much of it can we actually live on and how much is crap? There’s nothing wrong with crap, but it’s an end product.” — Ana T. Forrest, Fierce Medicine

We’re collectively starving at the soul level and chiding ourselves for being unable to ‘deal with it’ or ‘walk it off’ or ‘suck it up.’

We cannot expect to live fully engaged, gorgeous lives without meaning, depth, and nourishment.

We’re so overcome by practicalities and ever-shifting logistics that we can’t see how hungry, tired, lost, and/or numb we are at this phase of pandemic.

Nature’s rhythms have absence and presence built right into their foundations: high tide, low tide. Inhale, exhale.

Screens offer Absence without a naturally occurring rhythm of Presence.

We have to consciously MAKE presence happen. We have to choose to put the phone down, place the Apple watch in the drawer, banish the iPad to the other room, turn off the TV, and move the laptop into the office.

Otherwise, The Absence eats us right up. The Absence is made of the monetization of attention, endless comparison, fear of missing out, hyper-stimulation, and scrolling. It eats away at our ability to be present with other humans until (eventually) we PREFER the presence of screens to any living, breathing being.


We can choose Presence.

We can put our goddamn phones down.

We can cultivate The Absence of screens so that we can live more engaged, three-dimensional lives.

We can ask for what we need and try again if what we asked for didn’t quite hit the mark.

We can forego memes and scrolling for Do Not Disturb mode, even for 20 minutes at a time.

We can forego social media’s greatest hits of the day for one true conversation with a human being.

We can cultivate awareness of our interiors. (Here’s a place to begin.)

We can actually feel our feelings instead of shoving them down and pretending they don’t exist. (Here’s another place to begin.)

We can share our most vulnerable thoughts and tales. (My Hall of Vulnerabilities covers cannabis, sex, depression, and that time I lost $43k on a business event.)

We can tell on ourselves in order to outsmart asshole brain.

We can admit that this shit is hard and let others know when we’re drowning.

And we can do all of this…together, if you’d like.

I’m committed to giving you deep, gorgeous, stunningly beautiful human connection this November, and it’s at an event called The Imaginarium. If you’re free from November 14-16 and can make it to Philadelphia, this is for you!

Every portion of this container is geared toward providing soul-level sustenance for the months ahead. Because YES we’re doing another winter with Covid and NO we don’t have to hate every minute of it. While you’re at the event, we’ll suss out one habit you’d like to develop for the months afterward — and then you’ll be held accountable for DOING THE THING YOU SAY YOU’RE GOING TO DO.

Also, there will be huge amounts of truth speaking:

“Truth speaking — speaking from a place of deep honesty and compassion — propels us into a very rich field of feeling. Every time we speak the truth, it shudders through the cobwebs and dimness in our lives, tapping back in to the Beauty in our world, in ourselves, and in each other. How incredibly sweet it is to be able to talk about what’s really important, stepping out from behind our facades and the stupid little conversations that we’re taught are a necessary social lubricant.” — Ana T. Forrest, Fierce Medicine

5 of the 9 spots are sold, so you can be one of the lucky 4 who get to come!

The only way to get details about The Imaginarium is to TALK TO ME about it, so please BOOK A CALL:

Even if you can’t be there — can you begin to notice the Presence and The Absence, starting with your own? It names so much of what hurts about life today.

If we’re all here, present, together — there’s nothing we can’t face. But if we’re all here, distracted, absent, and unable to connect, but we’re technically in the same room? That’s a buffet of Doritos. SO EXCITING AND SHINY, but in no way nourishing.

Where can you commit to Presence? How can you double down on human connection? Who or what will help you deal with the temptation to fall into Absence and stay there? Where and when do you need to cultivate the Absence of devices in your life — in order to be more present?

These are the questions that will heal your soul.

As always, I’m committed to providing deep nourishment for every phase of your journey. From here, book a call to talk with me about 1-on-1 and/or in-person work.

If you need help cutting screen time by 2 hours or more *per day* — thus increasing your happiness, says scienceSpace will help. You’re 21 days away from More Presence, starting right here.

P.S. Don’t let the Adultopus win.

Build invisible alliances.

Have you ever learned a thing and then YOU JUST NEED TO SHARE IT WITH EVERYONE?  (Right after you remember that you wrote it, ’cause you discovered it on your laptop?) That’s this. Listen in to this episode of That’s What She Said below, or keep reading for a transcript-ish version.

A diary entry from March 2020, as Covid was descending upon the world:

“When I was going to Grandma’s funeral on Sunday, which was just walking to the closest cemetery to sit while her services were taking place thousands of miles away, Bruce sang me right to the gates with a song I had queued up the day before, like, “Next time you turn on Spotify, you’ll need this.” ‘A Long Time Coming’ felt just right for saying goodbye to someone who lost ten years of her life to Alzheimer’s.

When I arrived, a murder of crows greeted me — I’ve never had so many talk to me at once — and shook me down for peanuts. And I do mean shook me down.

Then I gave the ‘all clear’ energetic signal and they flew off. I was wondering where to sit or what to do for Grandma — beating myself up about how I wasn’t prepared because all I had was my body and these two rocks I’d picked up somewhere in New Jersey and carried to Oregon for ??? purpose — when a single fox squirrel appeared. They were sitting at the base of an enormous tree with magical, Disney-like light on them. So I sat down. And I cried.

An old Russian woman’s headstone was facing the spot where I was sitting, complete with a photo on her grave marker. And damn if she didn’t look enough like grandma for me to feel seen. So I sat under that giant pine and made an offering of what the earth provided: offerings to the four directions with gathered moss and pine needles, tiny branches and the discarded shells of nuts the squirrels had finished. No photos. Nothing to record. Just an offering of everything I had in that moment.

My friend Josh sent a song he was working on, and I listened to it with my heart wide open, weeping there under a tree while the crows chatted and the squirrels chased each other and the sun split the mandala exactly in half, dividing light from shadow.

The energy shifted in about an hour, which is about how long the service lasted, and I was released. I decided to buy something full of sugar and garbage calories for Grandma at the nearest restaurant, because food was grandma’s love language, but of course the nearest restaurant had a sign out front that said ‘Healthy organic shit’ on the sandwich board. Verbatim. I had the best oatmeal of my life, and some coffee, and one of the baristas sang along to Regina Spektor quite well as I ate.

I headed back to the cemetery for one last visit to the grandma spot when I remembered that I had a nut snack pack from Trader Joe’s in my pocket. When a fox squirrel stopped me on the sidewalk to beg, they got human-grade nuts in assorted varieties.

I left a few choice nuts on the mandala to ensure that the squirrels would find it useful and treat it as part of their home, not some weird human thing they had to avoid, then left the cemetery.”

Build. Invisible. Alliances.

Crows. Squirrels. An old Russian woman’s headstone. (The grave is written in Russian, so I can’t even acknowledge her name.) Canteen. Bruce. Regina Spektor.

We have every right to these invisible alliances, particularly when we’re down and out and stressed and the world is mired in fear. So, future self, cultivate them and use them and make them even stronger.  (Note that this phrase — build invisible alliances — was taught to me by David Elliott.)

Your alliances don’t have to be obvious to be meaningful.

You can be mentored by people who are long passed from the earth, or people who are still on the earth but so enormous energetically that it’s no small thing for them to teach you about life on the side.

You can be mentored by your dreams.
By songs. By albums.
By every single part of nature that you admire.
By books and words. By poetry.
By your dog or cat or chinchilla.
By past you. By future you.
By your friends. By your partners.
By ascended masters in other realms.
By your own breath.

Acting as if the only alliances that matter are the ones we can see, like corporate sponsorships for our souls, is detrimental to our wellbeing at all levels. Individually, collectively, all-the-ways-y.

Books have always been some of my closest friends, since they never judge and are always available. Your local library can and will get you access to most any book, on demand, for zero dollars, which is nothing short of a miracle.

The blueberry bush on pap’s property taught me that a perfectly ordinary thing can suddenly, as if by magic, produce the most spectacular fruit of the season.

Some musical albums live deep in my bones because I have played their songs on repeat until those who lived with me no doubt wanted to murder me. I spent secret, shameful hours of my Freshman year of high school slow dancing to ‘Secret Garden’ on repeat in my bedroom, turning in tiny circles and dreaming of a time when I would fully understand that song, because I had never ever felt the way Bruce Springsteen made me feel for the space of those four and a half minutes.

You can build constellations of invisible support. It’s your right as a living being.

Ask the winds and the rain and the trees and the waters and the songs and the words and the love of everyone you know and a few of those you don’t to support you, tangibly, without having to sign a contract or Venmo anybody anything.

Let yourself be influenced deeply. And then influence others in the same way.

P.S. Speaking of invisible…here are 29 ways to stop hiding in your business. 😉