make meaning Archives - ⚡️Kristen Kalp

Posts in "make meaning" Category

How to *Actually* Change the Whole Damn World.

Let's talk about making meaning, monitoring your health (not your weight -- your HEALTH) -- and how to be a magnificent human in modern times.

I went to the doctor and found out I’m just shy of weighing 200 pounds. My highest weight in high school was 169 (HA!), I got married at 137 in 2006, and this is the most I’ve ever weighed, ever.

The thing is, I have very little shame about that 198.6 number. I’m really fucking healthy in the other health categories that count: mentally, spiritually, sexually, energetically, financially, and emotionally.

I didn’t get depressed last winter, which is the first time I felt fine during that season in over a decade.  (More about my depression and its lessons here, here, and here.)

Further, I’m on top of my Adulting — my library fines are paid and I’m making art regularly and my house is clean and my car is inspected, which are the things that slide in not-so-healthy-times.

Most importantly: I DON’T WANT TO STOP LIVING LIFE. I am not suicidal. I can read the news without sinking into a ball of despair and losing 3 hours to weeping uncontrollably about things I cannot change. Read: I deserve a slow clap.

Aside from that single measurement — my weight — I’m healthier than I’ve ever been.

Psst! This is an episode of That’s What She Said, listen in below or keep reading if you dig a transcript!

So, why did I have to sit through a shaming lecture about it? Because nowhere in the 9.6 minute doctor’s visit that cost $165 did she ask about My Actual Health.

She checked in with her notes about what I should be doing — Synthroid, you’re on that? No? (Back story of how I healed my own damn thyroid: Tiny, Annoying Progress.)

Well, I need bloodwork. Why didn’t you get bloodwork? Oh, an enormous battery of pointless tests is expensive.

Well, why don’t you have insurance? Oh, because paying $600 a month for insurance costs more than paying cash for when you need to see a doctor.

Well, you can go to a clinic if you don’t make enough money to pay for the tests.

You need to lose weight. You know what to do — fruits, vegetables, whole grains… I literally said, “Yah yah yah” until she moved on.

Let’s break down this emotional gauntlet and then provide alternative questions that would actually benefit both health professionals and patients.

Shaming people about their perceived lack of health merely by weighing them is not only irresponsible, it’s dangerous. I know many skinny people who are dead inside and many overweight people who are healthy as fuck.

In my experience, a doctor dons a white coat and knows what you should do, despite not asking once about what you’ve learned this year, or where you’ve gone internally, or how your relationships are affecting you, or even what your mental health is like on any given day.

“Celexa, 20 milligrams? Still need that?”
“Yup.”

Next point of order. That is not an exaggeration of how I got a full year’s prescription for anti-depressants.

Rather than trusting the healthcare system to help us, let’s find ways for you to gauge your health from home with Really Fucking Good Questions. (RFGQ, for short.)

You can ask these of yourself first, then share what’s actually going on within you with the health providers of your choice. (If you’d like to regain your belief that health practitioners can be amazing people, look no further than Aimee Derbes.)

Really Fucking Good Questions that actually help determine your overall health:

How many deeply meaningful relationships are you cultivating at the moment? How often do you feel lonely?

When did you last sing, dance, or otherwise express yourself for no ‘good’ reason? When did you last place your bare feet on the earth and/or sand?

How is your mental outlook on any given day? Do you feel as if you’re growing more or less resilient over time?

How much time do you spend on screens each day? What would you tell me you know you ‘need’ to do in order to correct your relationship with those screens?  (Have you seen Space, my email course which helps you reduce your phone usage by 50% or more?)

Do you get more than seven hours of sleep per night? Will that be changing in the foreseeable future, for better or worse?

Do you engage in sexual acts with yourself and/or partner(s) on a regular basis? Do you find those activities enjoyable — and if not, how might you find them more pleasurable?

How does your financial situation feel on a day-to-day basis? Has anything about it changed drastically in the past few months? Is there anything about your finances that you’re avoiding?

Do you have at least one nutritious meal each day? What would adding more nutrition to your diet in a doable way look like?

How much time do you spend in your body each day, whether for work or play? Has this increased or decreased significantly in the past few months, and how has that changed your overall outlook?

Read: YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO TO THE GYM EVER AGAIN, IN FACT GYMS ARE SOME OF THE LEAST HEALTHY PLACES ON THE PLANET. At my gym, you literally cannot work out without having 24 enormous screens in view. They surround the perimeter of the main workout room, and every single treadmill also has an attached screen. If you are working out to fill some sort of internal well, you have to battle house demolition shows, stock news, the latest headlines, talking heads on Fox News, and assorted music videos for the duration of your workout. The workout brings you no closer to your own interiors, thus divorcing it from the wisdom of moving your body outdoors, in nature, or in yoga.

Do you have any recurring pains, flare-ups, or bodily issues you’d like to investigate further?

How sensitive would you say you are when compared to other humans? How do you cultivate and nurture your sensitivity?

What do you ignore, pretend isn’t a problem, or otherwise glaze over when describing your life to others?

Finally — how do you cultivate a sense of meaning and/or fulfillment in your life?

“Meaning must be sought out; it’s not built into most people’s lives.” — Rebecca Solnit

She goes on to say that no one will diagnose you as suffering from “social alienation, meaninglessness, or other anomalies that arise from something other than familial and erotic life,” even though those afflictions can be far more burdensome and challenging than carrying around a few extra pounds.

This meaning question is big and hard. It can be absolutely brutal if you’ve never considered it before, so let’s go a touch deeper into it.  I’ll tell you how I make meaning so that you don’t feel judged or like I’m giving any sort of prescriptive, I-know-what’s-best-for-you advice.

Meaning is something I create through:

Initiating and noticing progress, both in myself and in my coaching clients
Maintaining a regular spiritual practice (in my case, breathwork)
Turning the bullshit, the awful, the challenging, and the frustrating into podcasts, classes, and books
Being vulnerable with myself and with others whenever possible

How do you cultivate a sense of meaning and fulfillment in your life?

It probably involves some combination of setting goals, making progress, connecting with your intuition, processing your toughest challenges, and being vulnerable with other people. It’s finding a way to contribute to the world at large while being a damn good steward of your gifts.

Back to the big questions! None of them judge, but they do probe effectively into the parts of ourselves we are most likely to call ‘fine.’

They point you toward simple solutions — less screen time, a single nutritious meal, some singing for singing’s sake — without making you download an app or commit to a 30-day program.

They are, in other words, soft.

Softness means you can be gentle with yourself as you navigate life, move through changes, and shift your bodily rhythms to reflect your current reality. Punitive talks with ourselves about our finances, our health, our sensitivity, and our emotions don’t work.

We cannot shame ourselves into being better humans; that emotion only shuts us down. (‘No pain, no gain’ is one of our culture’s most ubiquitous lies.  Also: your shame is not interesting.)

When we can greet our current reality with open eyes and without harsh criticism, we’re far more likely to find ways to add nourishing practices, healthy relationships, down time, sleep, and nutrient-dense foods into our lives for the long term.

That 30-day plan or 7-day challenge temporarily beats us into submission and creates a false sense of progress.

In most cases, we need to prioritize a single change that moves the needle forward, then spend a long time making sure we build it into our routine. Think 180 days, not 30, with no damaging critiques of our entire being if we screw up and slide back into our old patterns.

So you

…ate an entire cake? Love you.
…slept for 1.5 hours instead of 8 because you were up reading? Love you.
…blew a coupla hundred bucks on shit you don’t need but really, really enjoy? Love you.
…can’t brush your teeth and shower on the daily to save your life? Love you.
…have never managed to make a new habit by punishing yourself? Love you, too.

It’s all love, all the way down — not in the mushy, ‘it’s okay just eat the cupcakes’ way, but in the ‘you’re human and it’s okay to make mistakes’ way. The soulful grandmother barrel laughing at your antics way.

Some days are better than others.

Some years are better than others.

Our job, collectively, is to tend to our own gardens before we tend to the world’s garden.

Otherwise, we run the risk of causing more harm than good, of judging others as harshly as we judge ourselves, or of burning out long before we have a chance to bring our best gifts to the table.

Our job is also to take a look at alllllllll the elements of our health — mental, physical, sexual, spiritual, emotional, and financial — before we prioritize one over the other.

Can you forgive yourself for the work you haven’t yet done, and the weight you haven’t yet lost, and the book you haven’t yet read or written, and the debt you haven’t paid off, and the lurking pain that won’t go away, and the habits you haven’t managed to forge?

Can you, under all the layers of disappointment and fear and doubt and anger with yourself, find some small, steady place within you that is gentle and that loves you, regardless?

Can you love yourself with all the fierce tenderness you use to love puppies and babies and every good thing in the world?

Can you acknowledge what IS, in this moment, without apology or judgement of any kind?

THAT is how you change the whole damn world — by carefully tending the worlds within you with softness, tenderness, and understanding.

First for you, then for everyone else. (Most people start with everyone else, myself included.)

It’s for you to make meaning, for you to decide why you’re on earth, and for you to enjoy as much of it as possible.

“More than anything, she wants to tell him how Purpose, that awful thing that greeting cards tell him he was born with and he just has to find, is actually something he’ll need to create; that it’s not until he feels the monotony of life that he’ll come to decide why he’s living it.” — Honestly, We Meant Well by Grant Ginder

Softness just makes it easier to find the answers and experiment with new ways of being.

If any part of this podcast made you cry, gasp, or giggle with new ideas, let me tell you about The Softness Sessions. Part extremely-personal-podcast, part breathwork, and a book to boot, The Softness Sessions will help you step into the wisest spaces within yourself.

Through extremely dense teachings followed by breathwork, The Softness Sessions will help you defeat asshole brain, ask better-for-your-whole-health questions, make sense of your internal chaos, and feel the feelings you’ve been boxing up and hiding away for a long time now.

The Softness Sessions are the perfect jumping-off point for a kinder-to-you internal life, no matter how much health you’ve currently got.

Find all the details at thesoft.space.

You’ll get a session each week for 6 weeks, as well as a real life book/journal combo in the actual mail. We start September 19th, and we’ll conclude with a live breathwork session on October 29th.

Soft humans are gifts to the rest of the world. I’m hellbent on becoming a soft one, and I hope you will be, too.

Again: thesoft.space — grab your seat now.

P.S.  A note for my procrastinators: the sooner you purchase, the sooner I can send you the book!  Waiting until the last possible second to buy means you won’t have the book for the first week or two of our time together.

Buy a seat in The Softness Sessions

The Sales, Selling, and Making Bank 6-Pack

When it comes to selling, sales, and generally hopping on board with capitalism, most of our skills don’t come naturally.  No one comes out of the womb making 2-for-1 offers or trying to convince people to get on board with this exclusive one-time promotion.

It’s completely weird to have a skill and get paid for it, and to make work and get paid for it, when the thing the world needs most is the thing we would happily do for free.

I get it, I do.  That’s why this 6-pack shares my selling and making bank wisdom in ways that won’t make you curl into a small ball and hope a meteor hits before you click ‘send’ on that email or ask a potential client to click the buy button.

Enjoy these six podcast episodes (199 more here!), and let me know how they work out for you: k@kristenkalp.com!

I’m revisiting my favorite podcast episodes for the summer, and your support means the world to me!  I suggest paying $10 per 100 minutes of listening. This keeps the podcast sustainable, ad-free, and accessible.  90% of my work is completely free.  The other 10% is breathwork and coaching clients, which is when I use my most potent energies for pay. The podcast is an act of love, of sharing, and of my truest work. Your support means the world to me, and to those who aren’t in a spot to pay for any of it right now.  Donate here.

First, and most importantly: Money Blocks Aren’t Your Problem.

PLEASE don’t spend your hard-earned money on a bullshit money blocks class or course or book when I promise, that shit is NOT the place to begin working through your financial issues.

Where you don’t allow money into your life, there are eight other things I’ll bet you don’t let into your life fully, and the implications of those elements go way further than whether or not you get paid fairly for your work.  Listen in!

Next!  Serve the poet goddess inside you and also accept the wealth that is available to you, homegirl

In this class, we’ll take a deep dive into ways you can receive more money in your life.  Namely, by receiving more of the intangibles that we humans tend to dismiss, shut down, or deem as too vulnerable, like joy and pleasure and a host of quite practical things besides.

Listen in to this episode of That’s What She Said while I break down the receiving spectrum and how to strengthen your receiving muscle if you’re like, ‘YUP I want to serve the muse’ and ‘YUP I’d like to be less broke while doing it.’

Next up: Pay Me, Dammit

Pay Me, Dammit! is a class about money, but it’s really about all the ways money is a stand-in for the ways you’re holding yourself back. We tackle ‘em, together, and then I throw down scripts and techniques that just plain make you dollars.

PLEASE, use the scripts, follow the instructions, and let me know how it goes. When you find $1,000 in your inbox or actually call back that customer or draw better boundaries around your business, I’d freaking LOVE to hear about it! It’s not easy to make the changes that bring in the dollars (see all the reasons mentioned earlier), but when you consciously catch bad habits in action, they lose their power.

Listen inAnd get paid, dammit.

Let’s keep going!  Separate your work from your worth.

The value of your work is dependent upon many factors; some economic, some artistic, and some woven into the fabric of society itself. That’s why tying your work — specifically, the number of dollars it brings in — to the sum total of your worth is bound to disappoint you.

If you’ve ever said, “I’m gonna charge what I’m worth” or “They’re not willing to pay what I’m worth,” stop EVERYTHING and listen in. That’s dangerous talk, and we can untie your work from your worth in this brand new podcast episode.

Your calendar might not seem like the logical starting point for making more money, but give it a go: How to Clear Energy and Plan for the Year Ahead!

This is not a January-only episode, as you can start again any damn time you feel like it.  If you never have time to sell your work, market your work, or finish your projects, THIS is the place to start.

Finally, Show Your Work

Not just your finished work, but your in-progress work.  Your energetic work.  Your planning work, your nearly-done work, and your very-much-still-an-idea work.

What if we made our internal checklists visible to other humans?
What if we changed up the ‘just shut up and be a martyr’ pattern and instead, asked for help?
What if we asked for people to acknowledge our completed tasks, to-do lists, and the many items we accomplish on a daily basis?

Showing your work establishes the value of your offerings, helps you feel better about your pricing (because yes, those 7 hours spent picking the perfect font COUNT, dammit), and gives you endless stuff to show off on social media, too.

P.S. Stay on it.  (Bonus #7 of the 6-pack!  Selling is boring, repetitive, and often feels like throwing the same seeds into the same garden, hoping something will take root.  That’s NORMAL.  Promise.)

Your shame is not interesting.

This is an episode of my podcast, That’s What She Said!  Listen in below or read along for a transcript.

For all those in the back who are hiding in caves filled with guilt and regret and silence, I repeat: your shame is not interesting.  For the females meant to feel awful about everyday things like menstruation or using your voice or eating carbs or enjoying you-name-it, I repeat: your shame is not interesting.

Unless you have recently taken up cannibalism or finished up a stint as a serial killer, your shame is not particularly justified or interesting. Of course, It will seem justified and interesting.

Asshole brain needs you to believe that speaking your shame will kill you.

Just thinking about it will cause your cheeks to redden, your heartbeat to quicken, and your hands to shake as if you’re going straight into physical combat against a juggernaut.

Brene Brown tells us, “Shame needs three things to grow exponentially in our lives: secrecy, silence, and judgement.” Since I’m committed to both growing and to sharing what I learn from growing, I can absolutely confirm that she’s right. Shame makes me want to throw myself into a tiny room and never come out, all while telling myself that I should just GET MY SHIT TOGETHER ALREADY.

I’ve most commonly encountered three responses to sharing my shame. Spoiler alert: not a single one is awful.

Response #1: thank you.

When you talk about your deepest, darkest secrets, you are often speaking your particulars to a larger universal. The response is not the much-feared YOU ARE A HORRIBLE PERSON AND NOW I HATE YOU, but a sigh of relief that comes with the feeling that you have allowed yourself to be seen and shared your humanity.

Response #2: me, too.

People have quietly admitted their depression, their failures, their illnesses, their stuck points, their abandoned projects, and their sex issues to me behind closed email doors with a ‘me, too.’ They aren’t asking me to fix or solve or change anything about these things, but in some way they feel witnessed. There’s comfort in ‘me, too,’ even when the thing you’re referencing is awful or painful or difficult or unfixable.

Response #3: I’m so glad I’m not alone.

One of the ways asshole brain beats us into submission and keeps us as small as possible is by whispering that we, in all of creation, are alone in our predicaments. It tells us we are the only ones who have had bad relationships, lost lots of money, given up on sex, abandoned self care, chosen the wrong mentor, battled mental illness, freaked out about the state of the world, or quietly retreated into a hole while hoping the world would go away.

You. Are. Not. Alone.

Sharing your shame means that other people get to experience the life-giving sensation of feeling not-alone. Solidarity is a glorious thing.

Where you find shame, you find the opportunity to speak THROUGH it.

Sure, you can buckle down and fill yourself with even more doubt and yuck, or you can express your shame with a trusted individual. (I choose to speak to the internet at large; you are NOT required to do so!)

When I find things in my life I’m ashamed of, I’ve simultaneously found places in my life that are ripe for growth.

Feeling ashamed of your house/car/kids/family/partner/abortion/sex life/business/project/job?

Speaking through shame will always lead to growth.

It frees you to address the elephant in the room of your heart instead of drawing tighter and tighter to the walls while hoping it magically goes away or feels better.

If you’re like, ‘PISHAW KRISTEN, WHEN HAVE YOU SPOKEN THROUGH SHAME?’ So many times.

I was very sure everyone would abandon me and I would die when I spoke about:

Depression. I was deeply ashamed of having been on antidepressants and of not being as joyful as I appeared to be online for every minute of the day. Speaking about my depression over the years has required increasing levels of vulnerability, of introspection, and of facing my demons. It has also resulted in emails in which people credit me for literally saving their lives.

Divorce. I viewed divorce as such a big personal failure that I didn’t mention it to my clients or my peeps for over a year after my husband had moved out. If I couldn’t make a relationship work, how could clients trust me? If I couldn’t remain committed after I’d made VOWS to be committed, what did my word even mean?

Losing $43k. Holding a big event that didn’t make my accountant happy with the year’s numbers basically destroyed me, so I waited for two years before saying a word. I considered giving up the entire being-in-business thing to go and work at Starbucks, but decided instead to tell everyone about it.

Those who attended the big event sent love letters. Others thanked me for telling the not-so-glorious tale of business as it happened. Again, all those asshole brain thoughts proved to be unnecessary: how can you give advice when you’re such a big failure? How can you possibly show your face in public again? How can anyone respect you for losing forty-three grand and a husband in the same year?

Breathwork and coming out of the spiritual closet. I’ve long been afraid of being disregarded as a bunch of worthless cotton candy hoohoo fluff, so I shut up about my spiritual beliefs for a good solid eight years of being in business. (That’s powerful shame, people.)

The truth is, breathwork is a useful and powerful part of my life. Doing it regularly is not nearly as hard as talking about it — in particular, trying to put words to its effects — but I keep trying. Shame said I’d come off as cocky (what, you’re a spiritual leader now?), flighty (who is both a business coach AND a breathwork practitioner?), and useless (yah, like what the world needs now is BREATHING. We have bigger fish to fry).

Peeps have responded with loving kindness to breathwork in all its forms, whether online or in person, and I continue to grow and shape my practice to handle deeper truths and bigger growth.

Sex and enjoying it. It seems strange to me that I hid this for so long, but then again I grew up in a rural Christian community and almost signed a True Love Waits pledge at age 14. Shame whispered that I’d gone too far by talking about orgasms, that no one could possibly relate to my desires, and that, as always, everyone would abandon me and I’d have to get a job at Starbucks. (See the asshole brain pattern? We all have one.)

Cannabis and enjoying it. What’s more horrifying than talking about sex, you ask? WEED. The now-standard asshole brain refrain kicked up, but I powered through and got entirely complimentary responses. Those who were also afraid of trying cannabis thanked me for weighing in, those who dig cannabis liked me more, and a few IRL friends said they appreciated the podcast for its humor and structure. (Read: no one came and burned my house down.)

Had shame stopped me from sharing, it would also have stopped my growth as a human, healer, and writer.

I would never have felt the deluge of love that can come after a particularly vulnerable share, nor would I have noticed the patterns asshole brain employs over and over again. (Related: all roads lead to loveless and penniless.)

Let’s suss out the shame in your life now.

You don’t have to share these answers with the world at large! Admitting these soft spots to yourself is often representative of tremendous progress. Going on to share your shame with a therapist, healing practitioner, partner, friend, loved one, or coach might do you a world of good, but is in no way required.

Which business experiences or circumstances do you hope no one ever finds out about?

I’ve had coaching clients mutter that they have no clients (shame), that they have too many clients and are dropping the ball (shame), that they fear they love their work too much (shame), and that they no longer love their work (shame). There is no universal answer, here. There’s only the thing you hide and hope no one ever finds.

What do you deeply enjoy, but feel as if you don’t deserve? What do you deeply enjoy, but fear would make other people jealous if they found out?

My peeps have told me about how easy it is to create, to write, to photograph, to make people feel at ease, to hear other people’s secrets, or to speak in front of people — each time with great shame. It’s so easy for me, I don’t want to tell anyone else! It seems to be such a struggle for other people! Your talents aren’t something to be ashamed of. EVER. What do you tamp down, play down, or ignore because you don’t want other people to envy you?

What do you truly and madly love, but don’t share because you’re afraid someone else will judge it harshly?

Go ahead and love horses or fan fiction or houseplants or dogs or kink or coding or sewing or that particular cause! We need people who LOVE what they love and aren’t afraid to show it. (Related: joy is an act of resistance.)

Being ashamed of your joy doesn’t have any positive benefits and can keep you miserable for as long as you let it.  Also, it doesn’t count if you don’t enjoy it.  What do you just plain freaking no apologies love, and can you pick that interest up and let it out to play again?

What do you judge harshly about your own life or business circumstances? What are you ashamed that you haven’t ‘figured out’ by now?

This applies to everything from your curtain choices to your financial circumstances. Where you find judgement, you’ll often find shame — and as we know, your shame is not interesting. I feel like, by age 38, I should have figured out taxes, investing, and budgeting enough to be at least a millionaire, if not a billionaire, by now. I also feel like I should have figured out how to enjoy the act of cooking and how to work out daily in a no-big-deal way instead of in a LOOK AT ME I NEED A STICKER way.

It’s okay if you need stickers to get shit done. It’s perfectly normal to be good at some things and suck at others, even if society wants to sell us an answer for every one of our perceived flaws.

Which stories about your life do you refuse to tell anyone?

This doesn’t have to be a big or traumatic story (see: sex, cannabis, breathwork). It only has to be an experience you’ve taken off the table.

Some childhood experience that made a mark. A professional encounter that shaped the rest of your career. One offhand comment that closed a door. You don’t have to hide these from yourself any longer.

Which life experiences do you refuse to share, even though they ‘aren’t that big a deal’ or ‘you should be over them by now?’

I’m still upset about the woman ‘I should be over by now’ who called me “hopelessly naive” for going off to work with Flying Kites, a nonprofit in Kenya. (That was 7 years ago.) You don’t have to be over it by now — whatever it is — but keeping it all buttoned up and pretending you’re fine doesn’t allow for any progress to be made.

Next: what does your asshole brain say will happen if you speak about the answers you just gave with anyone at all?

Common options: death. Destruction. Homelessness. Loss of life, relationships, clients, business, respect, or all five. You’ll be living in a van down by the river in no time. Your partner will leave you. You’ll be forced to survive on only expired Pop Tarts and puddle water. Your parents will disown you. Your colleagues will oust you from their company.

Write down the answer by going allllllll the way into whatever asshole brain has to say, knowing that this is a standard human lizard-brain response.

Finally: what do you suspect will actually happen if you speak about the answers you gave with a trusted individual?

Common options: NO REALLY YOU’LL DIE. (Kidding!)

You’ll feel uncomfortable. You’ll sweat through your shirt. You’ll feel so vulnerable you can hardly breathe. You’ll upset someone. You’ll hear “Thank you,” “Me, too,” and “I’m so glad I’m not alone” far more than usual.

Write down the answer and go all the way into what your highest/best self knows to be true about the situation, knowing that you’ll survive it.

As Brene Brown says, “Shame cannot survive being spoken.”

I dare you to speak through your shame. I dare you to be honest with your own heart, and then to tell on yourself, to be wildly vulnerable, and to see what happens next. (Hint: it’s gonna be RAD.)

P.S.  Brave is just another word for ‘vulnerable.’