rebel! Archives - ⚡️Kristen Kalp

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Joy is an act of resistance.

2017 has been fine for me personally, but HOLY SHIT THE REST OF THE WORLD.  It’s been like a hate parade meets a parody of all that can go wrong with human rights meets a low-budget reality show meets The Handmaid’s Tale.

If you’re in the wildly disorienting, WTF IS HAPPENING I DON’T UNDERSTAND and WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE and also WHY DOES IT FEEL LIKE MY WORLDVIEW IS CRUMBLING phase, you might need a bit of help before you go charging into the rabbithole and start volunteering eighty hours a week at assorted nonprofits.  Not because they’re not worthy, but because a foundation built of scratching, screeching despair and fear won’t last long.

First, reclaim your joy.

You’ll want to gird your loins against the sort of grief and hopelessness that can take you down for weeks/months/years at a time.

That’s where Joy is an Act of Resistance comes in.

Is joy the most important thing you can do for the resistance in the short term? It doesn’t seem like it! It seems frivolous and wasteful, and how can you be talking about confetti and wonder and delight at a time like this, Kristen!?????

Is keeping your joy the most important thing you can do when you look at the span of the next three years or decades? I would argue that yes, yes it is.

When you’re able to re-frame whatever is happening without being flooded by waves of despair and only despair, you’ve got more of your own internal resources available to you.

When you’ve got full access to your own resources — to your energy, your breath, your wisdom, your intelligence, your experiences, and your voice — the hard work of making meaning is much easier.

The hard work of consuming the news (IT’S SO FUCKING PAINFUL RIGHT NOW), educating yourself about what’s going on and what’s led to the modern day happenings in a historical context, and then choosing the most potent ways to usher justice into this world is much, much easier and far more sustainable when you reclaim joy as an ally.

Listen in for my personal how-to’s on reclaiming joy.  (If you’re like, KRISTEN WTF DO YOU KNOW ABOUT JOY!? I’ve been battling clinical depression for the entirety of my adult life.  You can watch Joy is a Choice right here.  By becoming intimate with despair against my will, I’ve become intimate with joy as a means of survival.)

This topic is tender, which means you can easily fault me for saying all the wrong things or for prioritizing joy when I should be prioritizing X. The thing is: without joy, I don’t ever get around to whichever X I’ve/you’ve/they’ve deemed most important.

When I fall into bed weeping and powerless, I do absolutely none of the work I’m capable of doing to make the world a better place.

It’s only by reclaiming life’s wonder as it presents itself to me that I can broaden my horizon past the edge of my bed frame, my door, my front step — and into the world at large.

Without joy, I devolve into a puddle of despair.

With it, I’m capable of sharing my knowledge, my money, my time, and my voice with the world.

The same is true for you.  From that place where you can access joy and humor and delight and the thrill of being alive, you are perched to take part in the resistance in ways the world has never seen.

You’re prepared to take anger and fear out of circulation, to consider old problems from a new angle, to make phone calls to politicians just to say they’re doing a good job, to plan events and marches and secret activities that are pulsing with life but not with derision or rage.

The world has enough anger and fear to last for seventy lifetimes.

JOY is an act of resistance. And I hope you’ll resist.

P.S. How to reclaim freedom from all kinds of bullshit.

How to claim freedom from all kinds of bullshit.

We have plenty of ‘freedom to’ do things. Freedom to earn a living, freedom to market like a mofo, and the freedom to walk about our streets with relative levels of safety and security.

We’ve got seemingly endless amounts of ‘freedom to,’ but often these freedoms come with a bunch of accompanying weight that’s harder to identify.

‘Freedom to’ often leads to taking on more work, more responsibility, more productivity, and more tasks simply because we can. Those of us who are terminally competent ::waves:: just pile ‘Yup I can do that’ on top of ‘Sure that’s no problem’ on top of ‘Of course I can handle that’ until we’re buried by our own ability to get shit done.

We have to claim ‘freedom from’ in its many incarnations.

‘Freedom from’ is best reclaimed from our repetitive, seemingly inconsequential actions.

Freedom from squeezing in productivity. We don’t have to listen to podcasts (though That’s What She Said is always nice!) or educational audio books while working out, making dinner, driving, or showering. We can engage in one task at a time and even ‘waste’ a bunch of time each day.

Freedom from adding things to our to-do lists once they’ve been finished. We can just be done.

Freedom from working while everyone else is working. One of the benefits of having our own businesses means choosing the shape of our days, which means spending some of our hours walking along beaches or playing with animals or wandering in bookstores. We do not have to live out the Ford assembly line’s strict 9-5 hours.

Freedom from doling out pleasure like scoops of ice cream instead of treating pleasure as an infinite resource. There is no one giving us points for denying ourselves joy. There is no delayed gratification that will come from refusing to be grateful for the moments of brevity and lightness we’re given each day.  Joy is a choice.

Freedom from limiting our favorite activities. Personally, I love reading in bed so much that I would only let myself do it for up to an hour before bedtime or at the beach. No mid-afternoon reading or morning reading or after-dinner reading for me, thank you, because REASONS (I’m not sure what I was thinking?). We’re allowed to like what we like and to fill our free time with it.

Freedom from changing your clothes to do yoga. OH GOD I JUST FIGURED THIS OUT AND I WASTED SO MUCH ENERGY NOT CHANGING INTO CLOTHES WHICH MEANT I COULDN’T POSSIBLY DO YOGA THAT DAY. Worst case scenario, we work out in the bedroom wearing underwear and move on with our lives. Best case scenario, we’re wearing stretchy pants.

Freedom from how work ‘should’ look. In a recent call with the brilliant Meg Worden, I was whining about how I didn’t think I had enough energy. I could get all my work done, but aren’t there people out there who can work for 11 hours a straight with no loss of enthusiasm? She said, “I would worry that you were manic if you could do your work — your particular work — for 11 hours a day.” Oooooh. I’m not broken. You’re not broken, either.

It’s okay to have intense focus in short stints and then go about your life collecting inspiration and energy and relationships like so many precious treasures strewn about your life.

It’s okay to find a schedule and a model and a plan that works for you and only you.

Your work doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s work. (Also we all hated group projects because we got stuck doing everything. Your business, blessedly, is all YOURS. So call the shots and cut the dead weight and make amazing shiz happen, please.)


Getting freer means means saying “no” to the have-to’s, particularly the ones that feel absolutely terrible and that I believe to be ripping the fabric of society apart in long, swift strokes. (See: that time I quit Facebook.)

You don’t have to participate in a system that sucks.
You don’t have to play the game everyone else is playing.
You don’t have to stay on a website or a platform because ‘everyone else is doing it.’

You can build a life that involves striding from one ‘yes’ to another, building a web of joy and life and vitality along the way.

Also — this article, plus Elf movie GIFS = this particular installment of my newsletter.  You can get all my e-mail missives laden with GIFS by joining the Fuck Yah Club right here.  Also a library of books, sample chapters, and freebies are included because I’m awesome like that. 😉

P.S.  Is there a limit to how good life can be?

How to quit Facebook in 8 easy steps.

First, listen to this episode of That’s What She Said and see if you’d like to quit Facebook or if it just sounds like the answer to all your problems because you’re tired and grumpy. 😉

If yes, let’s be crystal clear about why you’d like to quit. You’ll need these reasons later when you’re tempted to go back and ‘just check in.’

Quit Facebook Step #1: Record your reasons for quitting.

Is Facebook treating you like an abusive partner, with 85% suckage and 15% awesomeness? Is it scooping up your free time and shortening your attention span?  Does it contribute to your feelings of overwhelm?  Is it a feed that’s forcing you to consume vitriol, hatred, impatience, anger, and spite? Do you want to go deeper into your own inner knowing and therefore, require a lessening of noise and chatter? All of the above?

Writing your reasons down means you won’t be all, OH GOD FACEBOOK WAS A DREAMY LOVELY THING AND IT BROUGHT ME NOTHING BUT GOODNESS six months from now.

Record the way it actually is, in this moment, and the reasons you’re quitting.

Quit Facebook Step #2: Choose an exit date.

Choose a Fexit — Facebook Exit — date and put it on your calendar.

You can do this without wailing and gnashing of teeth – though if the wailing and gnashing help, awesome.  Go for it. (I quit on June 1st, the Thursday after my birthday. Because quitting things is for Thursdays.)

Quit Facebook Step #3: Alert your family, friends, fans, and followers of your Fexit date.

If you’ve got a business, this means getting peeps from your Facebook fan page onto your e-mail list. A simple Facebook ad targeted at getting your fans to click over to an opt-in page should do the trick!

If you’re leaving friends and family members that you only speak to via the platform, this means getting e-mail addresses, snail mail addresses, and telephone numbers so you can stay in touch.

Quit Facebook Step #4: Choose the actions you’ll take in the meantime.

Will you be filling your Facebook time with making time? Napping time? Volunteer time? Writing time, work time, e-mail time, or childcare time? How will you use the time you’re gaining in a positive way?

Do you know that while you yearn to express yourself someone else yearns to bear witness to that expression? — Rochelle Schieck, Qoya

Will you be offering a special leaving-Facebook promo offer? (Here’s how to make a promo that sells like gangbusters.)

Will you take up a hobby, do more yoga, or write a book?  Having activities and projects to look forward to will make the transition easier.

Quit Facebook Step #5: Stay on it.

You’ll be tempted to make a single I QUIT announcement and then step away from the platform entirely, but you’ll need to repeat your plans over and over and over again. You want to make damn sure that every single one of your fans and followers knows you’re leaving, so they’d best get on your e-mail list to keep in touch. This will feel repetitive and dull. I know.

Stay on it.

Deep is so un-American now, even radical. We live too often like water skeeters on the surface of the pond, dropping down for a quick bite of insect or e-mail. Deep is the realm of soul. — Anne Lamott, Hallelujah Anyway

Quit Facebook Step #6: Plan a celebration.

Instead of quitting Facebook with a whimper, choose a tangible way to celebrate your exit. What would be the most fun way to leave? With a sale on everything you offer? With cake and confetti and a Facebook Live sendoff? With an in-person celebration in your backyard?

Make it so.

Quit Facebook Step #7: Tell everyone about the celebration.

In my case, it was Fexit Day!  I shared some thoughts about leaving, threw some celebratory confetti, and had a coaching call raffle.

Using FB to promote your exit is funny and ironic, plus it means people will actually see you leave and so you’ll be even less tempted to return in order to save yourself the embarrassment of going back on your word. (This is part of the plan.)

Quit Facebook Step #8: Quit.

Delete that shiz and move on. (Make sure you’ve backed up your data if you can’t bear to leave your photos and the like behind.)

The only way to do better, to have better, is to lose pieces of what was. It’s inevitable that you can’t bring everything with you, like carrying water in your cupped hands from one river to another. There are too many cracks, and if you’re so eager to move, you’ll just have to get used to new water. — Scaachi Koul, One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter

P.S.  Here’s what happened after I quit Facebook, because WOW it was awesome.

‘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.

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 brave 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.

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.