make meaning Archives - Page 2 of 15 - ⚡️Kristen Kalp

Posts in "make meaning" Category — Page 2

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 March 19th, 2020, and we’ll conclude with a live breathwork session on April 30th, 2020.

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.’

The Case for Intimacy.

Intimacy is vulnerable and counter-cultural, deeply intuitive and so, so risky. It’s being stamped out of our minds, hearts, and culture via pseudo-intimacy in social media, as well as through ads and marketing. Everything and every product everywhere seems to point to intimacy — our Starbucks will help our love life, our next meal will make us feel more connected as a family — while very little actually gives us what we seek.

As humans, we are allegedly more connected than ever, but that connection is often whittled down to photos of sandwiches and cute dogs and hating the same political candidates, not about noticing the tilt of our hearts toward the same distant moon.

That’s why today, I wanted to talk about intimacy that goes far beyond the sexual to encompass the deeply connected experience of humans being alive in tight emotional spaces. I argue that we can all use more intimacy in our lives.

What might that look like and what should we look out for?  First, a poem.  Then, the tangibles.

Intimacy looks like
walking into the middle of a room
and stripping to the bone —
knowing it is not entirely safe —
dancing,
and dancing,
and dancing anyway.

She is the particular frequency you cannot hear
by accident, only by
turning over stones and logs and hearts
for all your life and even then

Intimacy does not owe you anything,
least of all forever,
and makes herself known
in pockets of light.

Within, without, your heart is a goddamn meadow.

Intimacy allows for the give and take,
not only the one or the other,
and makes room for growth
even as she accepts everything you already
are, have been, will be.

Intimacy knows nothing
of systems and strategy,
only what works.

For you.
In this moment
and this reality.

Intimacy will shred you alive
and stand over you, barely breathing,
as she shows you how little is necessary
to truly live.

You don’t owe anyone scalability.

Current trends say I should take what I know and make a course, then sell that course to hundreds or thousands or hundreds of thousands of people to make what they call ‘passive income.’

I have an education degree, so this makes sense, right? Only breathing the same air together in a workshop or being on a 1-on-1 call can’t possibly be the same as trying to connect deeply with thousands of people who are paying you to teach them X. Even the thought of it is uncomfortable and strange.

I work with fewer than 50 people a year, and that’s exactly how I love my business most. It is most definitely not scalable, and that’s a big part of what I love about it.

Scalability is the opposite of intimacy.

When you choose intimacy, you are often choosing not to serve thousands or hundreds of thousands of people, but a select few. You are also free to trade time for money via editing or massaging or writing or coaching or personal training, if that’s the model you prefer. It’s not wrong to work with people one at a time. Again, this is countercultural at the moment. It’s all about launching, scaling, and rolling back to collect cash in your pajamas. But you don’t have to do it that way.

Further, you don’t have to hire a team, take on an intern, or otherwise add people to your business if you don’t want to or if it doesn’t feel like the right time. Bigger is not necessarily better. We often understand this intellectually, but it has a way of creeping into our hearts and shifting our dreams.

‘Dream bigger’ often means ‘strip this of all intimacy in order to make more money,’ which causes those of us who value intimacy to balk.

If intimacy is one of your values, too, hopefully this puts language to why you can’t bring yourself to listen to one more white guru person telling you how easy it would be to sell endless seminars and downloads and trainings and courses. You don’t have to build passive income streams like soulless little pets who don’t require any care.

I have gone down that path and felt absolutely nothing. I’ve watched my bank account get bigger and bigger while feeling no more connected to myself, to my business, or to those buying from me. It was fucking awful, and I don’t recommend it.

You don’t have to monetize your joy.

Joy is deeply intimate. It is an experience you share with your soul, and that’s not something that always translates well to the limited confines of capitalism.

Sometimes, monetizing your joy makes perfect sense. You want to be a writer, so you find ways to get paid to write. But sometimes — and this has happened to me — one of the things you love most definitely doesn’t want to become an income stream.

That’s because you can’t always monetize your joy. Admitting when this is true allows a hobby to be a hobby and a job to be a job, which is a necessary and life-giving distinction. This also means that you don’t have to listen to those people telling you to make your hobby into a career ‘because you’re so good at it’ if doing so feels awful, even if it makes logical sense and you need the money.

Some people are really really good at writing and should absolutely become writers. Some people are really really good at writing and trying to do it for money will absolutely crush their creativity and kill their work.

To say it another way: joy is a precious resource. Monetizing that joy could very well ruin it for a little or a long while.

Only you can distinguish between what should and shouldn’t be monetized — and you can only do that by listening to the voices deepest within you. Which brings us to our third point!

Every project will tell you what it wants to be if you listen closely enough.

I know that sounds a little crazy, but we’re so far past a little crazy around here that I’m not hesitating to share that with you. Every project has its own agenda, and those agendas often have little to do with what you want or with what the dominant 6-figure, 7-module blueprint has to provide.

Even in writing, it’s clear to me that some musings want to be poems, some want to be podcasts, and some want to be letters. Others want to be private, to be written and then deleted, or to be stitched together into a book. Some want worksheets and some run screaming from worksheets. Some want to be shared and others want to be held close to the heart.

The upcoming Voice workshop has been difficult to pin down, even though it came to me in a spectacular flurry of notes. I lost those notes, then spent months trying to recall what was in them instead of simply asking how Voice wanted to BE in the world. The answer is, oddly enough, a bunch of experiences and one long, continuous Keynote presentation that I can jump out of and back into at a moment’s notice throughout the two days of teaching. Have I ever done that before? No. Is that exactly what Voice wants when I listen closely? Yup.

If you treat each project as a living entity, a la Liz Gilbert’s Big Magic, you’re much more likely to both love what you make and to keep on making it for a long time.

You might come up with something weird, or your whole workshop might demand to be one long, continuous Keynote presentation, or a film, or a series of questions, or a stand-up special with bits about everything you love. That’s good listening. (And that’s the work only you can do.)

To recap!

You can actively grow your intimacy with others through refusing scalability for scalability’s sake, intimacy with your self through careful consideration of monetizing joy, and intimacy with your own talents and projects through frequent communication with them.

All three will lead you to a more deeply fulfilled life and business. Promise.

If you’d like some questions to help you draw out intimacy in your business at the moment, here we go!

Where can you think smaller and more intimately about being in business?
Where have you fallen for the step-by-step, bigger-is-better-so-let’s-scale-this-shit methodology?
Where can you refuse to monetize your joy or to go against your inner wisdom?
Which parts of your work don’t want to be monetized at the moment? Which absolutely do?
Which project can you bring into the world on its terms, or revise to be closer to what it would like in this moment?
Which project is very clear about what it wants, but you’ve been ignoring it because it’s too weird?

I hope those questions take you to rad, previously unknown places within yourself. If you’ve enjoyed the podcast, please leave a tip! ($5 is a great way to say, ‘Hey thanks for doing this week after week for years on end!’)

P.S. Joy is an act of resistance.  And it doesn’t count if you don’t enjoy it.

It doesn’t count if you don’t enjoy it.

pleasure activism

There’s a thing I noticed when talking with my coaching peeps: fun is hard for most of ’em, and enjoyment is really hard to come by.  Most would rather work even harder than spend any time at all enjoying what they’ve already worked so hard to make happen.

If I ask you to work 30 more hours next week in the name of living a better life, most of you would do it. Yes, of course, I can work harder!

But if I ask you to have 30 orgasms next week in the name of having a better life — solo, partnered, whatever — most of you would shrink back and find a reason to run multiple miles in the other direction, even though you’ve only gotten as far as downloading the Couch to 5K app in your running plans.

Pleasure scares the shit out of us, as a society, and out of you, individually.

I get it, and also. FUCK THAT.

A woman in the diner Bear and I visit each morning started into a diatribe about how the girls at that booth over there had been sitting for 20 minutes, just talking to each other, when there was clearly a line and they should HURRY UP and HOW DARE THEY. Despite her attempts to become an influencer and gain more followers for her unnecessary complaints, we didn’t engage, so she turned to her partner to spend the next 10 minutes talking about the audacity of two teen girls enjoying one another’s company. Turns out, eating in public is serious business.

Some people take on the self-appointed role of the Pleasure Police. But they’re generally harmless and often hypocrites. There’s no need to fear these people. That same woman then sat for — I counted — 18 minutes at her table after finishing her food, talking to her partner while there was a line.

Life doesn’t count if you don’t enjoy it.

This concept was thrown in my face a number of years ago, when I was at a seminar and Rob Bell said this about kids: “Your first job is to enjoy them.” No one had ever said that about parenting or having children, ever, and of course my parents didn’t believe that! Your parents probably didn’t, either. ENJOY…kids? Enjoy…work? Enjoy…life?

What about striving and making and accomplishing and achieving and gold stars and moving up the ladder and changing the world and and and…?

It doesn’t count if you don’t enjoy it.

To put this another way: let’s talk about pleasure activism.  In her book of the same name, adrienne maree brown says, “Pleasure activism is the work we do to reclaim our whole, happy, and satisfiable selves from the impacts, delusions, and limitations of oppression and/or supremacy. Pleasure activism asserts that we all need and deserve pleasure and that our social structures must reflect this.” Go pick up a copy of Pleasure Activism, then we’ll continue.

You can have the most beautiful home on Earth, and if you’re scrolling for ten hours a day, you’re wasting it. You can have the most magical children in the universe, and if you’re always halfway planning tomorrow’s posts or worrying about those unread emails, you’re wasting them.

Work will always be there. Today will not.

I say this not to shame you, but to make damn sure you’re enjoying what you’ve worked so hard to create.

You have worked SO HARD to find clients, to keep them happy, to get funding, to stay afloat in the midst of seventeen projects, to keep your family alive, to keep your relationships alive, to remain connected to your body, and/or to keep growing even though life lessons are absolute bullshit and no one wants them.

I see you.  And it doesn’t count if you don’t enjoy it.

Enjoyment and pleasure are habits you can create starting right now, for zero dollars and only a few minutes.

Don’t freak out and tell me how busy you are and HOW DARE I tell you that you should have more orgasms. Notice that reaction — that deeply triggered or shamed reaction — because that’s exactly what we’re working to overcome.

You are not meant to live as a productivity machine, a profit machine, or even a lovely art-making machine.  You are not a machine of any kind.

You deserve space in your life for beauty and pleasure.

There’s a generosity of spirit at work here that most people, particularly women, deny themselves.  I have friends who earn sweet, sweet salaries at corporate jobs, but don’t take their protected-by-law one-hour lunch break.  Most everyone I know views taking a nap as sheer indulgence and luxury, but somehow scrolling on Instagram for that same half hour is a-okay.

We don’t have to feed ourselves scraps and crumbs and pretend life isn’t for the enjoying in order to get ahead or prove ourselves.

WE’RE ALLOWED TO HAVE FUN, GODDAMMIT.

If you’ve lost sight of what fun and pleasure look like or how you might begin, I’ve got some places to start right now.

Notice the right here and now.

The here and now means you actively disengage from ruminating on the past or planning for the future in order to notice what IS. Go all Ram Dass and be here now. Take in the sensations of your body and breath, as well as your surroundings.

I did this exercise to write for you and noticed that I feel awake this morning, since I slept well for the first time in a few nights. I also noticed that my new sandals make foot farting sounds every time I walk, which makes me giggle; the pink trees are blossoming and I whispered ‘thank you’ to a few of them; my favorite seat in my favorite cafe is open, and I’m sitting in it; I’m lucky enough to have a car and control over my own schedule in order to be here in the first place. I’m enjoying the woman eating a scone and sipping her coffee outside in the beautiful weather, no screen in sight, and the 3-footed dog that just wandered by with her tail wagging wildly. Also the scruffy dog and the enormous dog. ALL THE DOGS.

Give yourself gold stars.

This one is for the overachievers, the straight-A students, the nerds, and the rule followers! Give. Yourself. Gold. Stars.

This is not a metaphor or euphemism: actual gold stars. You can pick them up at the office supply store and they cost next to nothing. Make a chart full of pleasurable activities and add one every time you have fun or enjoy yourself.

Somehow, this shifts everything pleasurable from being ‘forbidden’ to being something we justify for the sake of getting gold stars. They make it okay. Whether you want to take more baths, have more massages, turn your phone off for a few hours, schedule white space, meditate, sit outside, read books, make stuff, or watch shitty TV, great! Write ’em down, and then slather your life with gold stars.

Stop working when you’re done working.

This sounds like I’m being insulting if you don’t own a business, but putting an end to work is an enormous struggle for entrepreneurs. We’re taught to hustle and to use our time wisely, to maximize efficiency and productivity at the expense of all else. We somehow twist that into believing we should be on social media ‘for business’ when we finish for the day, or we should be hitting refresh on our inbox, instead of simply being done. Period.

Quit when your to-do list is done.

Quit when you run out of juice.

Quit when you start mindlessly scrolling or checking email.

Those two paragraphs took me at least four years to learn. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re in the habit of ‘working’ by sitting at a screen, but please start powering down and doing non-screen activities when you have finished for the day or when your brain runs out of juice.

Take a 1-hour lunch break.

Yes, a full hour. You can take a walk or sit in the park or make your own meal and then eat it. You can watch Netflix while you eat or talk to a friend or give yourself white space. I don’t care what you eat or how you eat it, only that you start to reclaim this built-in break to replenish yourself.

I naturally want to keep up my momentum when I’m working, but oddly enough, my body requires food. Taking a break to eat means I can catch up on a show, get myself some nutrition, and give my mind a break from workingworkingworking.

Make a list of things to do that are enjoyable but not screen-based. Then do them.

Again, you can interpret this as insulting, or you can realize that I’ve had to do this time and again to break up with my screens. I’m sharing what’s worked, not looking down on you from some weird pedestal, because this took another year or two to put into play.

I looooove reading but somehow treated reading as something that could only happen before bed. Likewise, I loooove painting. I treated painting as a treat for special occasions instead of an everyday joyful activity.

You have these types of activities, too. Guaranteed. The sewing or painting or reading or making or baking that’s only for special times or alternating Tuesdays or your birthday.

Where can you treat Being Alive as a special occasion? What would you be doing if you suddenly had all-day childcare, no to-do’s, and a whole day to yourself? Those are clues. Start doing those things now, because none of this effort counts if you don’t enjoy it.

Differentiate between rest and laziness. They are NOT the same.

No athlete on earth can train for 8 hours a day on every day of the week. Muscles need rest.

No mother on earth can love her child for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Mamas need rest.

No entrepreneur on earth can churn out amazing and wonderful work 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year. Makers need rest.

Rest and laziness are not the same.

You aren’t lazy if you take time to notice the flowers and trees and dogs wagging their tales instead of sticking your face in social media and ‘influencing.’ You aren’t wrong for enjoying a movie instead of knitting, clipping coupons, or keeping your hands busy as you watch. (Why do women do this? How crazy is it that we can’t enjoy 90 minutes of storytelling for its own sake? To put it another way: doesn’t the team of individuals who made that film deserve for it to be watched with our full attention?)

You aren’t lazy if you fully enjoy your weekends by unplugging and ignoring your inbox.

You aren’t lazy if you do the items on your to-do list and no more.

You aren’t lazy if you’re fighting an illness or chronically ill and have to lie down.

We spend more time working, planning for work, and thinking about work than any other humans in the history of the world while also convincing ourselves that we’re lazy and useless. Let’s give up on that asshole brain script altogether.  (Or try breathwork for asshole brain!)

Make a spend-this-on-you fund. And then spend it.

Notice how these tasks are getting harder and harder? That’s on purpose.

To make a spend-this-on-you fund perfectly clear: set aside money that’s only for you. And then spend it.  (All podcast gratitude money goes directly to this fund!  You can leave a tip here!)

A spend-on-you fund frees you to do all the activities that you dream of but somehow never find a way to fund. Suddenly, there’s money for a massage or more books or going to a float tank or hiring a sitter to give you white space so you can do absolutely nothing for the day. There’s money for the magical outfit you pass in the street. (And those shoes look FANTASTIC on you, by the way.)

A spend-on-you fund dogears money that you would normally throw at your kids, your pets, your partner, and/or your business instead of spending on yourself. This is the easiest way I know to be sure you don’t end up earning more money than ever whilst giving yourself less and less of that income to enjoy.

Turn your phone off.

One more time, for those in the back: this is not a judgement or an insult! It’s an actual option that we modern-day humans don’t consider an option. YES, you can put your phone in airplane mode, and YES, you can set your calls to Do Not Disturb. Those two options aren’t the same as simply turning that shit off and doing something else entirely. No notifications, no buzzing, no calls, and no possibility of those things.

Your phone doesn’t have to be your default activity, and this is the first step toward making that a reality. (Need more help breaking up with your phone? Pick up Space. It starts whenever you’re ready!)

Leave your phone behind.

I’m suggesting you leave the house. Without your phone.

This might require a new wallet that doesn’t hold both items, or warning your closest peeps that you’ll be unreachable, or forwarding your phone calls to someone responsible so you don’t miss a call from the school nurse or principal.

I’m suggesting you do whatever it takes to live a day without your phone.

This was the case 100% of the time as little as 15 years ago, and we humans have been around for countless millennia, so don’t tell me it’s impossible. You’re only out of practice. (Again: if this sounds CRAZY, pick up the Space class.  21 days of emails can help you cut your phone usage by 50% or more.)

Just because you sat it down doesn’t mean you can’t pick it up again.

So much of my coaching work is helping peeps reclaim parts of themselves that they’d given up on forever. Like, ‘oh I have a degree in art, but I haven’t made a thing in years,’ or ‘I used to really love writing, but I’m too out of practice for that now.’ The things you love never really leave you.

They may go dormant or quiet for a bit, but they’re still there. You have untold talents latent within you, and you can start using them any time you choose. I suggest…now.

What would your 18-year-old self be proud of you for doing or trying today?

What would your 6-year-old self add to the agenda?

What would you like to be proud of yourself for starting twenty years from now?

What will your six-months-from-now self appreciate?

Start there, preferably with the option that scares you most.

Create a 3-hour work day twice a week.

What if, instead of working and working and working for eight to ten hours a day, you let yourself have two incredibly focused, short and distraction-free days twice a week?

This is the great experiment that might make you scoff, freak out, call me horrible names, or stop paying attention, but doing it will revolutionize your whole damn world.

If you’re anything like the clients I’ve dared to do this, you’ll get lots done, feel more satisfied with your output, and generally be surprised by your own brilliance. Instead of checking email without answering, scrolling through your usual online haunts, endlessly procrastinating, ignoring client inquiries, or planning countless activities you’re never actually going to do, you’ll get to work.

I’ve been secretly doing this for YEARS now, and no one has ever appeared in my house to tell me that I now owe The Entrepreneurial Police 10 hours a week, times 50 weeks, for the last 3 years. Instead, I’ve enjoyed those 1,500 hours in which I wasn’t wasting time trying to look busy or fill dead air with fake ‘productivity.’

Ultimately: you don’t have to ‘earn’ being alive.

As Bear stated in our last podcast, capitalism assigns a value to everything in the world, then aims to sell it. But being alive is priceless. And you’ve ALREADY GOT IT.

You don’t have to earn your next breath, and you can’t produce your way to feeling better about what your heart wants.

You. Are. Here.

Enjoy it.

P.S.  One more, because it came up this weekend and I wanted to tell you about it: helping others can be a tremendous pleasure.

I didn’t add this to the regular list because if your default mode is people-pleasing or denying your own needs or some other, more complicated form of martyrdom, ignore this entirely.

Help someone.

I passed a sign that said a local church would be boxing 15,000 meals for those in need on Sunday afternoon, so I grabbed a friend and made her go with me. Somewhere around meal 7,000 — funnels pouring, Queen blasting, kids running around with bins and soups and sealers and scales, all of us wearing bright red hair nets that are flattering to absolutely no one — I sunk into a deep and genuine sense of gratitude and fulfillment.

I can’t fix even the smallest percentage of the world’s problems, but I can find ways to help. Standing there adding dehydrated vegetables to soup packets for the thousandth time felt better than every phone call, email, and digital petition I’ve signed in the past few years.

Pleasure is often a real, tangible thing that can only be felt in the flesh and blood life beyond our screens. And helping people is pleasurable AF.

Now get out there and feel everything, okay?

Because it doesn’t count if you don’t enjoy it.