for the rebels Archives - Kristen Kalp

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‘Don’t store a mouse in your mouth’ and other vital rules.


You might imagine that a Special Education facility for socio-emotionally disturbed students in Philadelphia would have lots of rules. You would be correct. The first thing you learn at new teacher orientation is how to successfully restrain a student without causing any harm to the child. (It’s a grip don’t twist scenario, in case you’re curious.)

Each classroom has a teacher and a full-time aide. Each classroom has no more than 10 students for the safety of all involved. Students regularly lash out, flipping desks or tossing books or throwing punches — at other teenagers, at therapists, at supervisors, at me — and all the rules keep the chaos to a minimum.

There are protocols for everything. Protocols for when a student brings a razor blade to class and protocols for when someone has a meltdown during lunch and protocols for verbal lashing out. Every staff member knows the general outline for rules: violence is bad, get it under control, and then issue a consequence. These rules are absolutely vital for the safety of everyone on the campus.

And then there are the other rules.

The classroom adjoining mine has a pet mouse. I don’t know who approved the use of a live animal as a reward system for a group of often-violent teens, but it’s happened. The kids love the mouse. He’s given potato chips and french fries saved from lunch and is often the recipient of copious amounts of love because humans have hurt these children deeply, but mice have not.

One kid — I’ll call him John — is a squeezer. Meaning he can’t be trusted to simply hold the mouse or enjoy the mouse, he expresses his love by squeezing the mouse. He’s soon banned from mouse-al contact.

He does not enjoy this turn of events and goes on a stealth mission to hold the mouse. He’s foiled at every turn: there’s always someone (or two someones, or three!) in the classroom.

And then.

One morning, he does it. He’s got the mouse, he’s giving it all his squeezing love, he’s in mouse-holding heaven! John’s teacher walks in. Oh…oh god. He’s caught.

He shoves the mouse in his mouth in an attempt to hide it.

He shoves. The mouse. In his mouth. To hide it.

This does not go well. The classroom next door erupts into screaming, chaotic laughter and the breathless teacher steps out for a moment to get her shit together. She cannot, under any circumstances, laugh at the mouse in the mouth situation. (But of COURSE she wants to laugh at the mouse in the mouth situation.)

I’m still not sure how the mouse gets out of the mouth: was it choked up or voluntarily surrendered? Did the mouse flee of its own accord and make a victory lap around the classroom, or was it simply spit into the open hands of the classroom aide who returned from the restroom in the nick of time? WE’LL NEVER KNOW.

Eventually, the mouse is returned to his cage, and a new rule is penciled onto the classroom rule board: don’t store a mouse in your mouth.

Life at the school moves on, and no other student finds out what the consequences are for mouse-in-mouth storage. Thank God.

I was telling this story over the weekend and it got me thinking about other rules: the necessary kind, the unnecessary kind, and how we often mistake the two.

No knives on your person in school: great rule. Don’t store a mouse in your mouth: true, but hardly useful. Mostly made up. Unlikely to be needed again.

We, as humans, as makers, as business owners, as evolving creatures, operate under an enormous set of rules. Laws, of course, but also rules of our own making.

Let’s take a minute to sift through the rules consciously, because I’ll bet there are some mouse-in-mouth rules that could use dumping.

This episode of That’s What She Said sorts through the murky, grey area between our current rules, our subconscious ones, and the rules that need dumping.

P.S. The trouble with mentors and the problem with bullet points.

The Order of the Phoenix isn’t just fiction.

order of the phoenix bio photo

Owning your own business while the rest of the world goes off to a 9 to 5 is lonely. It’s even lonelier when your brain tells you no one wants what you have to offer but you wake up and do your work anyway. It’s lonely to live without a dynamic group of interesting maker-people in your neck of the woods, even if you’re an introvert or a hermit (or both).

Dispelling the inherent loneliness of bringing your best work into the world is one of the most vital steps we can take toward wholeness right now.  Because whatever comes next, personally or politically, not one of us can solve it, fix it, or change it alone.  (DAMMIT I’VE TRIED AND IT APPEARS THAT WE NEED EACH OTHER.)

The resistance takes all of us, and community is the start.

Maybe you’re lucky enough to have a giant group of artistic and entrepreneurial friends who live within a few miles of you, but I’m not so lucky.

I want to enter into community with you. Living, vital, raucous, sometimes-pain-in-the-ass-because-we-disagree community. Talks on the phone (reluctantly) and lives into the questions and weeps at tragedies and takes action together community. Feels all the feels and is just fine with that community. Learning together community. Sharing resources and ideas community. Actual gives a shit about one another even though it’s vulnerable community.

The Order of the Phoenix starts now.

As a member, you’ll get an extra That’s What She Said podcast episode each month, plus a live Order of the Phoenix call to resist the forces of gross, ick, and apathy that are attacking each of us on a daily basis.  No matter where you live, you’re facing unparalleled battles for your time, attention, and energy, and these live monthly calls are the perfect reason to bring your attention back to your priorities.  They’re also a fantastic opportunity to ask me anything related to life or business — you can submit questions in advance! — and are recorded for those who can’t make it.  Finally, you’ll have access to a handful of my freshest poems each month, long before they make their way to the interwebs or into a new book.

You get podcasts, poems, and fresh perspective for 8 bucks a month.

Patreon bonus podcasts
For signing up before April 5th, you’ll also have two only-available-for-the-first-30-days bonus podcasts waiting for you! Joy is an Act of Resistance and How to Hermit Without Breaking Your Life are waiting when you hop on board.

Why this, and why now? Making true, beloved community is faaaaaar riskier than making laser-focused one-problem-solving programs, which are easier to market and much more likely to lead to 5 and 6-figure launches. I’ve done that already, but at this point I don’t want to sell a bundle of information that allows for holing up with a screen and going it alone.

I’m so, so tired of going it alone.  I want to find reasons to hold potlucks with you and talk to you and laugh with you and help you and simply be with you, wherever you are. (Not metaphorical potlucks. Actual potlucks with actual casserole dishes in actual homes and hillsides and meeting spaces around the globe.)

Let’s make a joyful resistance that focuses on taking damn good care of ourselves, our talents, and our fellow humans.

Let’s refuse to listen to the voices that say we can’t, or to our own asshole brains that say we’re too lazy/stupid/fat/useless/[insert insult here] to achieve much of anything.

Let’s make something new together: a true community of artists and makers, thinkers and doers, sensitive peeps and empaths who are in it for the long haul.

Let’s bring the Order of the Phoenix from the pages of fiction into real life.

Join the Order of the Phoenix for $8 a month.

Become a Patron!

Want a free workshop, program, or both? Here’s how the group goals work!

When we reach $500 a month, you get two extended podcasts each month instead of just one!

When we reach $2000 a month, everybody gets free access to M-School, my magic school for entrepreneurs. It’s valued at $199 and is massively beneficial for your business whether you’re a Harry Potter fan or not. 😉

When we reach $4000 a month, everybody gets an invite to a free in-person half-day workshop. I’ll record it for everyone who can’t make it in person, too!

At $6,300 a month, everybody gets an invite to a free in-person full-day workshop. Again, for $0.00. Just because you’re playing along, and with recordings for all!

At $8,300 a month, I’ll create a full-on program of YOUR choosing. I’ll solicit ideas and build out a multi-week, full-throttle, should-be-thousands-of-dollars-class based on what you (and the others!) want most. Then give it to all current members.

The higher we go in the fee structure, the more completely dedicated I can be to this community, and the more each member gets in return. Membership fees will pay my salary, my business expenses, and for my days off so that I can refill and be an actual human in the offline world. Eventually, your fees will pay for travel so that I can meet you, as well as workshop rentals and hosting and programming and swag bags and snail mail and my accountant, Karl, and his crew of people who are good with numbers and make me sign official documents in a timely fashion. Most importantly, the fees will pay for me to make glorious things while focused on just one group of people — you and your fellow members of OoP — without being distracted by having to hustle some other creation(s) in order to pay the bills.

Join the Order of the Phoenix for $8 a month.

Become a Patron!


P.S. While I was writing this, a small child wandered over to my cafe table and waved his straw/wand at me. We have the blessing of the wizards, people.

P.P.S. Nab 1 of the 10 $88 spots if you’d like access to my rotating program archive (valued at thousands, woot!) and a 15-minute 1-on-1 coaching call each month. YUP that’s a steal and YUP those spots will go fast and YUP I assure you that 15 minutes is long enough to let in a miracle. 😉

Become a Patron!

Being brave with Nick McArthur.

Nick McArthur headshot

I first met Nick McArthur in 2012 as Nicki, mother of (then) 2 — now 5 — and I’ve watched with absolute admiration as Nicki transitioned to Nick over the course of the past year, with all the complication and bravery that entails.  We dive deeply into that gender transition in this hour-ish long podcast interview.

We also discuss whether male privilege is real, what it’s like to transition on the gender spectrum as part of a couple, the most surprising parts of leaving being a female behind, the sales messages he wishes males and females would learn to communicate more clearly, and what it’s like to have serious leg hair after spending about the first few decades of your life as a woman.

We talk highs, lows, and serious sales advice for your listening pleasure.  The audio is a biiiiit hard to make out at times — I guess the moose were rowdier than usual near the Canadian cell towers? — but I promise the conversation is worth it.

My deepest thanks to Nick for living the biggest and boldest truths of life, even when they require hormone shots and awkward conversations and endless fumbling with pronouns and butting up against other people’s fear and hate and big feels again and again and again in the name of simply being YOU.  I love you, friend.

Should you fall in love with Nick, he’s speaking at Brave!  HOLY SHIT YES!!!!

You can buy tickets to attend the workshop live here, or nab the recordings for $99 with promo code FARAWAY right here.

Nick’s official bio: That’s me, I’m a dude, with a wife, five kids, and an online business. I also happen to have a history of being a chick. I share my life on the internet in an attempt to tell you all my secret views of the world as someone who has lived fully on both sides of the gender coin.

IG, writing, hire him.