make meaning Archives - ⚡️Kristen Kalp

Posts in "make meaning" Category

An Invitation to Let Your Deep Knowing Drive the Bus

deep knowing

I lost the future for a bit, there. The past four years got me so tangled up in Trump’s antics and generally FREAKING OUT that when the pandemic hit, I burned my plans and sat down for A Very Long Time.

Every human interaction outside of the people I live with: canceled.
Every workshop or class or retreat I wanted to make or attend or hold this year: canceled.
My sense of knowing what tomorrow might hold: ABSOLUTELY GONE.

If you’ve lost the ability to plan for or sense the future: hi, hello, welcome. Me, too.

Between American politics and the pandemic, I’ve never had more trouble connecting to my own depths, desires, and needs.

In fact, I’m tempted to spend every waking moment flailing like Kermit and/or freaking out like Moira Rose.

pop tv omg GIF by Schitt's Creek

This podcast episode is here to help you connect with your interior continent, ask deep-ass questions, and maybe even make some plans for your life and business in the coming months.

Before we dive in! One of the things that might help to keep you from drowning in your own life is actively creating structure, which is something I’ve taught extensively about on the podcast. Structure, rhythms, and routines are something we creative peeps fight against AND ALSO DESPERATELY NEED. These five podcast episodes are a highly condensed version of most everything I know about creating gorgeous, stable structures for your time and attention.

Listen to the Structure That Doesn’t Suck series now. 

Now, let’s talk money fruits!

If you suspect that you’d like to do something in your business differently in a year or two, start planting the seeds for the new thing now.

Take the class, get the certification, scope out the cost of renting a studio; write down the workshop curriculum, start a wait list, ask past clients to do a dry run with you; schedule time to write the sales page, shoot the video, make the course, or get the images you’ll need to accompany the project.

I read somewhere that we overestimate what we can do in a single year and underestimate what we can do in five. Go with that, holding everything that may happen as loosely as possible.

What would you like to have made, in five years?

Who would you like to have worked with, interacted with, or made something with?

What would you be heartbroken to tell people you HAVEN’T done in five years?

To reach the ripening of the money fruits, plan for constant experimentation. Adjust accordingly.

Most people treat plans and planning as a once-and-done activity best suited for the start of the new year, not an exercise in continuous canceling, crossing out, and readjusting the sails.

That promotion didn’t work? Adjust.

You thought you’d be having a glorious day of sex, but instead you ended up holding your best friend in the vet’s ‘comfort room’ while a vet named Dr. Stark put her cat to sleep? Adjust.

You figured you’d have budgets, credit cards, and all things financial figured out by now? Adjust.

There’s no shame in adjusting.

If and when you really, truly believe that, you’ll move through your life far more swiftly and with much less guilt than ever before.

As you get used to both looking forward and adjusting the sails for today’s weather, you get more of a sense of spirit, intuition, deep knowing, or whatever you choose to call this phenomena.

You beat yourself up less for being human or for letting life happen to you.

You also let the reins go a bit more, since you’ll never be in charge of things like whether today is rainy, whether a pet is sick, whether your client will show up to that meeting, or whether you’re going to get food poisoning from that new restaurant.

As you adjust, with ever more subtle listening and precision, you’ll find the way through life that is distinctly yours.

Here’s a diary entry from 18 months ago, and it’s profoundly vulnerable to help you see the wrestling as it happens:

“It feels like the river is flowing in a different direction and that direction is away from California, at least for now. It feels fuzzy to think about — no longer OBVIOUSLY CALIFORNIA YES — since I looked at Portland and discovered that Philly has had both the same amount of rainy days and more rain than Portland in 2018. So, myth that I cannot live there: busted.

Also Portland is the same price as here, and 90 minutes from the ocean like here, and otherwise my people’s home, since you can drop shrooms and smoke weed and read books and make art and have fantastic food and go outside every minute that it’s not raining, minus the Philly attitude and general East-Coast go go go go go-ness.

That decision also feels a bit logical, though, like: how easy and relieving is it to give up on California, when clearly it’s something I’ve wanted since the moment I visited? But when I consider bigger things, like will I like the people of Laguna/Orange County? No. Do I like the traffic? No. Is there public transport? No. Does it cost 3-5 times more than here? Yes. BUT WILL I HAVE THE OCEAN? Yes.

We could very easily live in the most magical place on earth but spend every minute trying to earn enough to live there, which would defeat the purpose.

It feels like it’s all up in the air right now. And that’s hard. Like, weeping hard. Giving up on a dream is hard. Switching dreams is hard. Not knowing is hard.”

Letting your deep knowing drive the bus often boils down to paying constant attention to your energetic and emotional weather.

I could have pretended that California was still the dream — “Yah, we’re saving, just a few more years!” — and used it as a reason to stay in Pennsylvania for a lot longer. But instead, Bear and I had conversation after conversation about what it might mean to move to Portland, including how that would look on the job front, the mental health front, the friend front, the financial front, and the business front. We had lots and lots of discussions, and lots and lots of enjoying of the current home we’ve made together. Portland might not be the most magical thing that’s ever happened to us, or it might; all we know is that it’s the next step, and we’re taking it together.

Letting your deep knowing drive the bus means noticing when energy for a person, place, or project drops significantly, as well as noticing when you can’t wait to work on something new.

Sitting here 18 months in the future, I can assure you that Portland was NOT the best thing that ever happened to us.

Making the decision to move away from Portland was predicated upon a number of factors. These included the daily sightings of police drones, military transport, and police helicopters over our home; the increased presence of Proud Boys and other alt-right groups in the city; increasing isolation due to extended lockdown and my own fear of walking alone in the city for any reason; and mounting costs to remain in an overpriced, under-resourced shoebox of a home thousands of miles from those we held dear. (TL; DR, it fucking sucked.)

AND being in Portland helped us trust each other more deeply, rely on each other more heavily, see ourselves more clearly, and take in the scope of the personal and political work before us with absolutely outstanding clarity.

Sometimes you make two cross-country moves in a year, ’cause you’re following the deep knowing where it leads. Bear and I can both see that with the way 2020 went, we wouldn’t have survived the outside forces pressing on us in Philadelphia. His job would have crushed him, and I would have spiraled out of control because there wasn’t a money-making imperative to keep my feet on the earth.

In some ways Portland completely crushed us;
and in other ways it completely saved us.

That’s the bullshit of following your deep knowing:
It might crush you.
It might save you.

And it might do both simultaneously,
just so you remember you’re alive.

Some questions to help you follow your deep knowing:

Does that dream apply like it did yesterday?

Am I actively letting myself dream a different life than the one I imagined at age 8 (I drew a Kmart in my house so I’d never have to leave it for silly things like groceries or sunscreen), the one I imagined at 18 (I shall be a poet — in a houseboat — who lives on sunshine), or the one I imagined at 28 (I will be married…to this one dude…forever…and life will always suck…)?

Are there any places where my attitude has shifted, my energy has dropped, or my emotional landscape has changed dramatically? What might that mean?

Is there anywhere that my reality conflicts with that of my family, parents, partner, or peers? Am I willing to step into the wilderness that our differing beliefs will cause?

Are there any plans that should be put on hold for the sake of preserving my own health or maintaining my inner landscape?

Is there anywhere that I just have to be patient? (THIS IS THE WORST. WHY THE PATIENCE? WHYYYYYYY?)

If I would let spirit/intuition/deep knowing drive the bus — truly, all the way — what would I stop doing immediately?

Likewise, what would I start doing immediately?

I don’t have any easy answers, which is mostly why I try and help you listen — by asking good questions, by pushing breathwork on you at every turn (a free class awaits you here, give it a try!), and by reflecting your truest desires back to you when I see them dart past, like a bright fish flashing past in murky water.

You’re perfectly capable of listening closely, adjusting accordingly, and then giving up the control of your life’s big picture to what wants to be made.

The life you’ll end up with is probably not precisely what you planned at age 8, but I’ll wager that it’s a damn sight more fulfilling than having a Kmart in your basement. 😉

P.S. Nourishing or numbing? A simple question to shift it all.

Urgent Joy

CONFESSION: I have never been more scared of an election outcome than I am of the one happening next Tuesday.

ADDITIONAL CONFESSION: No matter what happens, my response will be based in joy.

Not because I’m a Little Miss Happy Karen Living In Oblivion, but because I’ve learned to orient my life around what keeps my soul alive.  (Slowly and painstakingly, as a result of 18+ years of living with chronic depression, lest you think what follows is flippant or frivilous.)

Urgent Joy will help keep your soul alive.  Please listen sooner rather than later.

Asshole brain will naturally say ‘life is over, why even try,’ and encourage you to give up in countless ways when you face a challenging situation — for example, the further grip of Trump’s fascism descending on the U.S..

Urgent Joy will help you center your life around all that is truly life-giving so that you have access to maximum human functioning — heart, mind, body, and spirit.

Asshole brain will suggest that the solution to any problem is Netflix, a can of Pringles, and doomscrolling until 2 a.m.

Urgent Joy will help you remember the practices, supports, allies, humans, and trusted guides who can help you cope with WHATEVER happens next.

Get the Urgent Joy Worksheet!

YUP that worksheet is handmade and slightly janky — AND it’s effective AF. 😉

P.S. If you’d like to feel more deeply connected to other humans and make space for healing through live breathwork classes each month, check out Together.

How to build everyday fundraising into your business

This is an episode of That’s What She Said, and you can listen to all podcast episodes here! Read a close-to-transcript version below, or listen in for the full monty.

THE QUESTION:

“I’m really feeling like it’s inappropriate to promote my business at the moment, and honestly I’ve just lost momentum/motivation. It just seems like my/our collective attention needs to be on the BLM movement and the pandemic. I don’t feel good about self-promotion right now. Do you have any thoughts on how to either regain your business mojo OR how to better honor the collective ‘pause’ and not feel guilty for pulling energy away from your own work? My heart hurts. And I want to give all the love I have right now to the collective, not my own work.” — one of the peeps in Together, a year-long soul care program (think monthly breathwork and live unrecorded gatherings) which you can join for $22 a month right here!

THE ANSWER:

First: I feel you.

Continuing with ‘business as usual’ right now seems absolutely absurd. Do I need to save 40% on fast fashion offers, or buy a stockpile of ever-more-fashionable masks, or buy some guns to outfit my dope-ass bunker full of canned beans? No, no, and we both know I don’t have a bunker.

I wish I had the answer to the capitalism conundrum, like, “Okay burn this system down like in figure A, then in figure B, we’re all free! SO EASY!!!”

I don’t know of a way to dismantle any massive system of oppression that’s been operating for hundreds of years in one fell swoop, so we’re gonna do the second best thing.

We can work within the confines of the shitty capitalist system to subvert it at every turn.

Let’s stop as many bullshit systems of oppression as we can from continuing to flourish. One of the ways we can do that is by raising and donating as much money as we business owners can generate, as steadily as possible over the long term.

A few caveats before we go any further! I am not a teacher of or an authority regarding race or racial justice in America. My job is to keep learning, to listen harder, and to point you toward the gorgeous beings who are and who have been teaching me over the years.

I am a business coach with access to many people who own businesses. Sharing the following information is a direct route to getting money into the hands of the organizers, activists, leaders, movements, and teachers who have been doing justice and liberation work for a long, long time. (If you’d like more info or to join the biz coaching wait list, shoot me an email: k@kristenkalp.com.)

Finally, I’m only sharing experiments in giving that I’ve completed over the past 11 years of being in business. Sharing lived experiences is the only way I can assure you that variations on these starting points are effective ways to get money to the movements, nonprofits, and causes you most want to champion. I’m asking you to interpret this NOT as some sort of Polyanna-holier-than-thou-showing-off shit — but as ‘Here’s some stuff Kristen has done that worked, and some that didn’t, and now I feel freer to go try some giving experiments of my own.’

Let’s walk through a few ways to actively build fundraising into your business starting right now, bit by bit and experiment by experiment.

If you’re a white person spinning in the land of “WHERE DO I EVEN START????” regarding the reality of seeing white supremacy enacted again and again through outrageous levels of U.S. police brutality — and now, the President’s refusal to denounce white supremacy — you can always start with money. You can fundraise, donate, and repeat.

You have a business — which generates money — and money can always be redistributed to champion the people, organizations, movements, and ways of being you wish to see in the world.

First up: you can create and sell a one-time, limited edition product to fund a project, cause, or nonprofit.

You know this is an option, but your mind probably gets complicated by the details: which organization? Which products? For how long? What if I don’t sell any of the items for fundraising and I look like an idiot?

Don’t panic, ’cause we’re gonna walk through some options and handle that asshole brain flare-up of questions, too.

If you’ve got (or know of) a worthy project with a set budget, you can set up a business offering to cover all or part of that budget!

For example. I created a limited edition course called Becoming to fundraise for a volunteering trip to India with two other people circa 2011. I sold a bunch of seats in a class to raise about $9,000 for all expenses associated with traveling to and staying in India for three weeks. (You remember, when flying was a thing we did?) Sales of this class were particularly effective because I was transparent with my intentions and shared the project budget openly from day one. Those who purchased the class knew they were helping me complete a multi-week volunteering project near to my heart.

So long as you’ve got a clear budget — yours or that of a nonprofit — and a product or service to pair it with, you’re good to go.

You can offer your product or service at no charge or at a reduced fee to those who donate $x to the organization of your choice.

For example. At one point, my goal was to see how much giving I could get to happen by encouraging direct giving to a nonprofit. I handed out 1,000 free copies of my then-new book, Go Your Own Way, when peeps forwarded their donation receipts for Flying Kites to my inbox. In this way, we raised over $10,000 for that nonprofit within a few weeks. (Go Your Own Way: free yourself from business as usual is pay what you can priced here!)

You can also make a one-time, limited edition service to fund those same movements and nonprofits.

Just as you would in the case of products, you can create business services to fund raise for the cause of your choice.

Both used and unused talents apply here! Fundraising is the perfect spot to break out of your ‘niche’ and embrace the full spectrum of your talents.

If you’ve got a yoga teacher training certification you never use, hosting a pop-up fundraising class online might be a welcome treat for those who love you. Reiki trained? Donating a portion of the proceeds from this-month-only remote reiki sessions is an option.

The point here is not for me to list every single thing you might possibly do! It’s to ask where you’ve got unused talents or untapped resources that can be leveraged to raise some money for cash-strapped movements and nonprofits. So…

Where do you have unused talents or untapped resources that can be leveraged to raise money for rad people, movements, and nonprofits?

You can build a set donation percentage into the sale of existing products and services.

For example. I donate 25% of breathwork class proceeds to Together Rising and/or Flying Kites, which means I’m making monthly donations based on any breathwork classes I’ve sold each month. Some months yield just a few dollars in donations, while others yield hundreds. The point is not to hit a Very Specific Funding Goal, it’s to deliberately donate money after month.

You might be feeling shame about how ‘little’ you can do right now. I get it! AND. Donation shame isn’t a worthy use of your energies. Whether you sell one item with a donation promised or thousands of items with a donation promised, you agree to donate the proceeds and try again.

Acting as if donating $____ isn’t ‘enough’ will only make you feel more frustrated with fundraising as time goes on.  Unless you’re regularly donating billions, there will never be ‘enough’ money to solve the world’s problems once and for all.

When you want to change it up, you can also change it up! I’ve got an ongoing Breathwork for Coping with 2020 fundraiser that’s donating 50% of proceeds to Black Lives Matter. As of this moment, that class has raised $561 and counting for the movement.

We are all being asked to do what we can, with what we have, where we are. We’ve got businesses, and we can use them to bring positive change into being.

You can pay everyone for the work they do, with extra cash considerations given if you’re benefiting from the work of a member of a marginalized community.

Remember that time I lost $43,000 from hosting Brand Camp in 2014?

When asking around later, I learned that I had WILDLY overpaid everyone who spoke at the event. Turns out, most people who speak at large conferences (and are not the headliner) do so for free. Or for a nominal fee that covers room and board. Exploiting people’s labor is both accepted and encouraged when it comes to the enormous events and conferences circuit.

The same working-for-free mentality is also true for online ‘summits,’ for those who offer ‘exposure’ as a means of payment, and for those who assume that all those with smaller followings than their own should be thrilled to work for free on behalf of the empire. <– This is an example of capitalism gone wild, which exploits free labor in any way possible, at all times, for any reason, with the promise of a later benefit that generally fails to materialize, particularly for those who are already marginalized by societal systems of oppression.

Those invited onto my podcast are offered a fixed interview fee, which they can choose to receive or to have donated to Together Rising. Paying people is one of the really simple ways we can all help to build a culture of paying for the emotional labor and sharing of lived experience needed to create life-giving interviews.

You can add coaching, mentorship, and/or learning resources offered by members of marginalized communities to your monthly business expenses.

Many artists and scholars I admire offer ongoing support opportunities through their websites or through platforms like Patreon. Please find and use these means to pay those living humans you admire for doing the ongoing work of making the world a better place.

Which peeps does my business pay each month?

adrienne maree brown‘s work never ceases to touch me. She’s written two timely books — Emergent Strategy and Pleasure Activism — and her most recent poetry series, written during Covid-19, is fucking breathtaking. Support her monthly here.

Do you know Samantha Irby? If not, please stop everything ever and go read her books of essays, which are legit laugh-out-loud-and-worry-about-your-bladder-strength-because-you’re-trying-not-to-pee-yourself funny. Grab a copy of We Are Never Meeting in Real Life. (Thank me later.)

Sonya Renee Taylor‘s voice is unmistakable, powerful, and wise. Her book, The Body is Not An Apology, is stunning and brilliant, you can order it directly from the author to minimize Amazon’s profit-taking here. She also has the particular gift of making me feel called on my bullshit without triggering massive defensiveness and eruptions of white fragility. Support her monthly.

Jessamyn Stanley teaches yoga for every body on her Underbelly Yoga platform, and I love her classes. PLEASE ALLOW ME TO HYPE HER FOR A MOMENT: Jessamyn’s classes are funny, swear-y, honest, and real. She gets yoga for not-tiny-stick-bodies because she doesn’t live in a tiny stick body, and I’ve never before had the pleasure of learning yoga from a person with a body that looks like my own. Get the yoga.

Ron Finley’s Masterclass is a.) highly informative if you’re new to gardening and b.) entertaining as fuck. HOLY SHIT Watch it! You can also support The Ron Finley Project to help green up and garden up the food deserts of Los Angeles. HE IS A GODDAMNED WIZARD AND I AM WRITING IN ALL CAPS TO CONVEY HIS MAGIC TO YOU.

You may or may not resonate with these people and their projects! The point is not to agree with me about how awesome and life-changing these people are…

The point is to find AND THEN PAY people who are doing the work you want to see in the world.

Particularly people of color. Particularly members of marginalized communities. Particularly women. Particularly work that is often overlooked or undervalued (read: emotional labor, education, and managing the droves of people who are quick to criticize others’ efforts but aren’t doing a goddamned thing to help make a better world themselves).

There are ENDLESS ways to explore the places where donations and your business meet.

Rather than spinning in overwhelm for the next few weeks or months, consider that the hardest work in the world — that of liberation, of undoing bullshit systems of oppression, and of making the world a more livable place for every last being already in it — isn’t going anywhere.

In addition to donating X% of proceeds from a specific product or service, you might pledge to donate $Y per month as a recurring business expense. Monthly giving enables those responsible for managing nonprofit funds to better plan their budgets and effect change for the long haul. Further, monthly donations for a set amount are a magnificent entry point if you’re new to using your business for fundraising.

For example.  Recently, one of my coaching clients realized she no longer wanted to pay to participate in Toastmasters, so instead she’s donating that monthly fee to a local nonprofit fighting food deserts in St. Louis.  You can do that, too!  Cancel a $9.99 recurring fee for a service you don’t use, then redirect it the funds to a cause of your choosing!

Another example.  My business currently sponsors a child’s schooling and care through Flying Kites each month without being tied to the sale of a specific product or program. <– This isn’t some sort of performative OOH LOOK AT ME shit! This is me putting my money where my telling-you-how-it-might-be-useful-to-proceed mouth is.

Built-in giving comes in an endless number of forms, so let’s play with how your fundraising might work in everyday life.

The point here is to play with the places where your talents and your generosity can overlap. There’s no one ‘right’ way to do this and no gold stars will be rewarded, so check in with your intuition to determine which option you can implement in the coming weeks.

THE RECAP OF OPTIONS YOU’VE GOT AT THIS MOMENT

+ You can donate X% of specific product or service sales to your fundraising efforts for a set period of time.

For every [product or service] purchased by [date], I’ll donate $____ to [your chosen nonprofit]!

+ You can donate 50% of all business proceeds for a few days via a flash sale.

Hey, I’m splitting profits with ______ until ____ [date]! Buy now, everyone wins!

+ You can donate up to 100% of profits for a single class or event.

The class on [date] is donation-based, and X% of donations will be sent to _____________.

+ You can set up a recurring payment to a nonprofit that comes directly from your business funds.

These setups automatically provide people with a feel-good factor just for purchasing what they would normally be buying anyway. It also builds giving into your business in a short-term way, so you can experiment with different forms of fundraising before making any long-term commitments.

The point here is not perfection, but to get out there and raise some money for the people, organizations, movements, and nonprofits who so desperately need it right now.

We can use our businesses to perpetuate worthy projects, no matter their size.

Love,
K

P.S. Fundraising regularly through your business is inherently anti-capitalist, since capitalism dictates that you’re supposed to take every penny you make and turn it into MORE pennies.

If you’d like to hear more about how to incorporate anti-capitalist practices into your business, you’ll love this interview with Bear Hebert. They are fucking phenomenal!

Put it down.

Here in the United States, the ongoing pandemic is a long haul that’s basically straight uphill and entirely unknown. That means we urgently need to learn how to take breaks and rest, ’cause no amount of sprinting today can get time to move so quickly that it fast forwards to 2022.

Here are some asshole brain maneuvers to watch out for as we enter another season of As the World Burns:

Put down the binary.

I’ve only got two options: A or B.”

A biz coaching client was outlining her options and said she could do A — which is the same thing she’s been doing that’s not working — or B, which is part-time for someone who’s treating her like shit. Both options were awful, but in her mind they were the ONLY options available.

In truth, you rarely have only two options. There’s always an option C.

Option C might be ridiculous or funny or awful or weird, but it’s still there! When I said I would rather my client take up a hobby of masturbating wildly than work at near-free prices for task-driven bros who in no way value her talent or her time, she laughed and shrugged me off. BUT I’M SERIOUS.

When it’s not ridiculous or funny, Option C is generally uncomfortable. It might seem like the impossible option, but Option C generally promises to pay dividends in the long term: quit the job. Move. End the marriage. Stop taking that work. Fire the client. Eat more greens. Ask for help. Hire the coach.

Put down your work.

Instead of being vaguely ‘on’ at all times — meaning you’re open to incoming needs from anyone at any point about any aspect of your business — choose times to be on. And times to most definitely be OFF.

Practice the muscles associated with picking work up at the times you specify, and then practice putting your work down at the appointed time as well. (Related: podcast #204, the quietly subversive 3-hour work day.)

As you learn to put your work down, you’ll also learn to draw internal boundaries that say, ‘now is not the time to worry about that problem,’ or, ‘I’m off and it’s not time to think about that client.’ There are many ways to gently remind yourself: now is the time for rest.

This hard off, hard on (heh) rhythm means that you clearly delineate and communicate times you’re working from all the times you’re not working.

A Hard Off means handling zero messages, communications, or work plans when it’s not work time. Personally, if you need me to do something after 4:20 p.m., it’s going to get pushed to tomorrow, ’cause I’ve got cannabis to smoke and an afternoon to enjoy. (Related: podcast #192, The Cannabis Episode.)

A Hard On (in this case) means messages, communications, work, and work planning are handled between the times of your choosing each day.

For more on how to work from home without losing your mind, check out podcasts 211-215, the Structure That Doesn’t Suck series! HOLY SHIT IT’S HELPFUL.

Put down your superhuman strivings.

The scope of work you can complete in this lifetime is human in size. ALAS.

We are each a tiny human part of all that exists, and when we operate from that human place we’re able to accept our true scope of work.

Asshole brain will continuously ramp up what we ‘should’ be capable of doing until deeming us absolutely useless for being unable to raise 17 children while organically farming almonds while running a multi-million dollar charity while holding a powerful government position while being so EASY BREEZY FUN about it all. (Sidenote: how does AOC’s lipstick always look so perfect!?)

As a bonus, asshole brain might blame you for every. single. problem. that exists in the world today!

Plastics in the ocean? WHY HAVEN’T YOU FIXED THIS.

Fascism continues to descend upon America? THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT.

Racism has been a problem through the generations long before you were born? STILL YOUR FAULT.

Of course, asshole brain is lying!

Systemic oppression and the manufacturing of millions upon millions of single-use plastics are NOT the fault of you and you alone! (This may seem obvious to you, dear reader, and yet my asshole brain kept me quiet and small for years by somehow making Me, Personally Responsible for everything that is and has ever been wrong with the world.)

Collective problems require collective solutions.

No human can solve any global problem alone.

Do your part, and help others do their part, and we’ll call it a win.

Finally: put down your pace.

Many of my clients finish up their work for the day and then feel horrifically guilty that they should be doing more.

Shouldn’t they be making ‘content’ calendars or ‘pivoting’ or ‘hustling’ or ‘leveling up’ or ‘CRUSHING IT’ or using every bit of time to be ever more ‘productive?’

Shouldn’t they be seated at a desk from precisely 9 to 5 each day, because that makes their job ‘legit’ in some way?

NO.

It’s okay to be done with your work when you’re done.
It’s okay to stop moving, communicating, and acting so quickly.
It’s okay to opt out of social media for a bit, for a month, or forever.

(Related, podcast #196: it doesn’t count if you don’t enjoy it.)

Please stop expecting yourself to write a book in a week or conquer your money problems within the next three days or to untie your work from your worth with a single flash of clarity. (Related, podcast #180: your work is not your worth.)

You are not a machine.

You are one human doing one lifetime of work.

The sooner you put down the vast and unreasonable expectations you have for yourself and for your power to make change, the better.

With you —

K

P.S. Breathwork is MAGIC for helping you put down the shit that’s no longer serving you.

Your first class is free, get it!

Joy is not canceled.

Have you ever had something that happened decades ago bother the shit out of you, and you can’t figure out why? Like, what’s wrong with you, you should ‘be over it by now’…? Let’s dive into my particulars and see if there isn’t a universal truth hidden in there, ’cause this came up for me recently and I’ll bet you’ve learned a similar lesson in your life.

This is an episode of That’s What She Said! This is the second in our series about ways to defeat asshole brain, starting with Interrupt the PatternAll the other podcast episodes live here.

The setting: it’s 1989. I’m in the third grade, and I’ve got to go to class with Mrs. Spisso.

Mrs. Fucking. Spisso.

Picture a shrill woman comprised entirely of sharp angles with half-moon reading glasses perched on her nose. Add a strong dislike for children and too many years working in the Mount Pleasant Area School District.

Now, give her the gifted students. Surely they will be easy for her to handle because they are smart! Surely they will keep her from screaming at all hours of the school day!

Our story proceeds.

I’m eight years old and we’re having class in the art room. I don’t remember what Mrs. Spisso is talking about because WE ARE IN THE ART ROOM. My favorite. The home of infinite messes, the sweet hum of scissors slicing construction paper, and those ginormous tubs of paste (worthy of quietly huffing when no one is looking) placed in pairs on each table.

We’re working on some project or another and I realize the room is hot. Really hot. The floor tiles look nice and cool, so I lie down on them. I remember feeling the floor underneath my body, all refreshing and shiny and soothing.

::tiny Kristen sighs contentedly::

All of a sudden, Mrs. Spisso screeches a flaming surge of words: WE DO NOT LIE ON THE FLOOR WE DO NOT ACT LIKE THAT EVER FOR ANY REASON WE ARE NOT ANIMALS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She goes on and on. I take my place on a stool and sit down, never to lie on the floor in school again.

I’ve carried that story around for years, always wondering why it hurt me so much. It was only being yelled at, right?  Get a friggin grip, it’s NOT A BIG DEAL.

In the larger arc of my life, though? 8-year-old me got the message that joy is canceled. Because joy lives in the body, and I abandoned my body that day. (It took me years to come back to the body itself, and here’s how I did it.)

Think about it: remember a moment of joy you’ve held onto in which you weren’t in your body.

Impossible, because joy lives in the body. Laughter lives in the body, as do orgasms, singing, dancing, and eating. That sunset you watched and loved. Those evenings with that person you love. The moments when you’ve laughed despite yourself — in school, at church, or when it was otherwise wildly inappropriate.

When we are chased out of the body, we lose most of our access to joy.

We are taught this at such a young age that we might not even remember losing our ties to what the body wants: You can’t do something just because it feels good! You can’t trust your body to want any of the things it wants, especially something as subversive and shocking as LYING ON THE FLOOR!

In other words: Joy! Is! Canceled!

In pictures after this time, you can see my body expanding from year to year. I ate more and more ice cream, ’cause that was a socially sanctioned way for me to enjoy life and be in my body. At the same time, I stopped trying to run around and do bodily things because the body can’t be trusted. Got that message loud and clear. And doing something because it feels good or might be pleasurable? NOT OKAY EVER.

Only.

Joy is not canceled. Ever. For any reason.

As unrest and bullshit and corporate thieving and intersecting systems of oppression make themselves more clearly pronounced around the globe, you might get the message that joy is canceled. That somehow you personally deciding to give up your joy, hope, and general enjoyment of life will make life for someone else better. That you don’t deserve access to any contentment whatsoever when there’s so much suffering in the world. Or you might fully disassociate from your body because this world we’re living in is too. damn. much.

Surely there’s something you can do, and if giving up feeling pleasure for life will help, then…you’ll give it a try? Please don’t.

Canceling joy is dangerous.

We humans have four base emotions: fear, anger, sadness, and joy.

Given enough joy stifling, we can easily reach a place in which we experience ONLY fear, anger, and sadness. That’s a brutal existence.

Refusing to feel the best of life does not save you from the worst of life.

Waiting for the other shoe to drop doesn’t stop it from dropping.

No matter where or how you’re working to make change — in your life, your community, your nation, and on this planet — joy is not canceled.

Your brain will say that you can’t POSSIBLY feel good things after reading the news. And there are lots and lots of shitty things to feel at this moment, that’s true. You don’t need me to list the ‘unprecedented’ levels of bullshit we humans are facing at this moment in time. There is much to do, to protest, to burn down, to fix, to change, and to re-imagine.

But life without joy — in which you tamp down, try to control, or even eliminate your own joy for the supposed sake of others — hurts your soul.

When you cancel joy, you are actively creating a future without joy in it. For you, and for everyone you meet.

When you deny yourself the pleasure of experiencing life’s good things — including rest — you have less juice for handling the bad.

When you refuse to feel the sun on your face or to notice that baby giggling over there, you’re creating a future for yourself without joy in it. When you don’t play along with the dogs running after balls and the kids running after ice cream trucks, you suffer.

The world has enough suffering.

Voluntary suffering in the form of foregoing joy does not and will not serve anyone. Ever.

Again: this doesn’t mean there aren’t hard things happening. Doesn’t mean there isn’t bullshit going on. Doesn’t mean we don’t keep signing and protesting and donating and fundraising and speaking up. Doesn’t in any way negate the fear, anger, and sadness of the human race.

Feeling joy in our bodies means we fuel ourselves with good shit so that we can better handle the bullshit.

When you take the time to fill up on the simple pleasures of being alive, you become stronger in the face of uncertainty, more likely to take actions that uphold positive change, and more open to the experience of life itself.

Refusing to cancel joy makes you far more resilient over time.

If there was a Mrs. Spisso in your life who made you shut down joy in any form, you can reclaim that goodness right now.

Over the years, which people or institutions have encouraged you to cancel joy? This includes restricting seemingly unrelated things like your movements and eating habits. Who has tried to stop you from singing, dancing, or speaking, whether publicly or privately?

Who taught you that the body can’t be trusted for the fulfillment of even its most innocent desires, like lying on the floor when it’s too hot?

Which people or societal systems discouraged you from resting or from enjoying the fruits of your labor?

Who taught you a productivity-above-all-else mentality that makes you try to ‘earn’ joy, push pleasure til later (never NOW), or assume you’ll access joy only when X happens? (Where X is become a millionaire, lose 30 pounds, or watch your last kid graduate high school?)

These are the roots of your asshole brain‘s battle with joy itself.

You don’t have to do anything with this knowledge except interrupt the pattern — i.e. catch your brain in the act of trying to cancel joy — and then choose a new mode of being.

Laugh with the babies.
Run with the dogs.
Soak in the sun.

Eat some ice cream.
Lie on the floor.
Take a nap.

Please choose to be here-on-earth-and-alive-despite-everything, over and over and over again.

Fight for your own soul’s aliveness by reclaiming joy, and then fight like hell for the liberation of every last being on earth. We will all be better for it.

And life?  It doesn’t count if you don’t enjoy it.

Love,
K

P.S. Speaking of liberation! Breathwork for Coping with 2020 is $33, and 50% of proceeds are being donated to Black Lives Matter. If you a.) think 2020 is bullshit and b.) want to show up in your life as a kinder, more alive human instead of a flaming cesspool of unfelt feelings, this class is for you.

If you’d like to reclaim joy starting right now, this breathwork class is the perfect place to start.