listen to the podcast Archives - ⚡️Kristen Kalp

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Beth Pickens talks Time, Fear, and Asking for artists.

That’s What She Said welcomes back heroic and magical artist counselor Beth Pickens for the release of her new book, Make Your Art No Matter What!

Beth Pickens describes herself as a consultant for artists and art organizations. Her time spent working with so many artists is distilled to the most universal lessons possible in her new book, Make Your Art No Matter What, which has been described as “The Artist’s Way for the 21st century.”

(Her previous book, Your Art Will Save Your Life, was featured in That’s What She Said podcast episode #178 back in 2018, so please check it out if you’d like to hear more from her!)

In this conversation, we cover three big huge topics for artists that are also chapters in the book: Time, Fear, and Asking.

(You know, tiny insignificant no-big-deal topics.)

  • How do you handle unstructured time as an artist?
  • How do you keep your work from taking over your life?
  • How do you shape time to your liking without keeping a minute-by-minute schedule?
  • Are your fears universal, or is it JUST YOU who’s freaking out?
  • What do we DO with our fears of making, creating, promoting, etc…?
  • Why are all artists afraid of asking for help?
  • What does a ‘good’ ask for help look like?
  • How do you make it more likely that you’ll get a ‘yes’…?
  • What happens if and when you DO get the yes you were seeking? (Other than panic?)

THERE ARE MINDFUCKS EVERYWHERE, AREN’T THERE?

Beth walks us through all these questions in order to create and maintain a relationship with our artistic practices.  Her words are deeply grounded, wise, and perspective-shifting.

Before you click away because you don’t see yourself as an artist, please read Beth’s definition:

“Artists are people who make art. My deeper understanding is that artists are people who are profoundly compelled to make their creative work, and when they are distanced from their practice, their life quality suffers. Making their work is a way to take care of themselves, communicate, process information, engage a spiritual interior, or strengthen their relationship to themselves and others.” — Beth Pickens, Make Your Art No Matter What, p. 10

Buy Beth’s book, Make Your Book No Matter What, here or wherever books are sold.

Once you’ve fallen in love, join Homework Club, Beth’s monthly subscription that helps you pay attention to and cultivate your art practice with other artists!

P.S. Beth says Your Art Will Save Your Life.

Author photo credit: Amos Mac.

When you realize you’ve made a mistake.

Psst! This is an episode of That’s What She Said! You can listen in below, or keep reading for a transcript-ish version of events.

Maybe it wasn’t clear before.

Maybe you suspected you’d been duped, but you needed confirmation.

Maybe you desperately, desperately hoped that having moved across the country with your partner, two pets, and every last one of your possessions on the first day of 2020 was ultimately NOT a bad idea.

And then you hear it: the phrase that will change everything.

“The basement smells like spiders.”

Note for arachnophobes: there are no images or vivid descriptions of spiders in the words that follow.  I’m trying to tell a story, not WRECK YOUR LIFE.

UM, NEIGHBOR CHRIS, FIRST OFF: HOW IS THAT EVEN A SMELL?

I DID NOT KNOW THAT WAS POSSIBLE: FOR THERE TO BE SO MANY SPIDERS…THAT THE BASEMENT…SMELLS LIKE…THEM?

(I TYPE IN CAPS FROM NOW ON OBVIOUSLY IT’S THE ONLY WAY POSSIBLE TO DISPLAY MY UTTER REVULSION AND TERROR.)

What does one…do…with a statement like ‘The basement smells like spiders’…?

First, I presumed it to be true, ’cause neighbor Chris had lived in Portland all his life and therefore knew a thing or two about spiders.

Oregon makes spider attacks so normal that even as an arachnophobe you stop flipping out when, say, a few spiders fall on your head as you’re working in the yard. Or when dead spiders fall on you as you’re trying to relax on the porch. Or when you see teeny tiiiiiny spiders crawling on your laptop keyboard and then they just VANISH.

SPIDERS VANISHED INTO MY KEYBOARD AND I DID NOT STOP LIVING IN OREGON BECAUSE I WANTED TO BE STRONG, GODDAMMIT.

But then.

The basement…smells…like spiders.

I can no longer pretend that the basement is not full of spiders…because clearly, it is, and they’re just waiting to hatch and eat me in my sleep.

OBVIOUSLY I can never go into the basement again.

As the days go on, Bear decides to be helpful. He approaches neighbor Chris in a friendly way: ‘Hey, would you mind if I cleaned the basement so it DOESN’T smell like spiders?” Neighbor Chris does a friendly rebuke, like ‘No man, that’s okay.’ Bear attempts over and over to make headway, here: how about now? What if I promise not to touch your stuff? What if I only clean the shared areas?

Again and again, Chris expresses versions of nope, no, and no thank you. The spiders continue to Occupy The Basement in an arachnid campaign that would make Bernie Sanders weep with the brilliance of its simplicity.

Of COURSE my suggestion is dismissed: what if I walk in, douse the whole basement with gasoline, AND BURN THIS HOUSE DOWN?

…NO?

::sigh::

This refusal to eradicate the spiders raised EVEN BIGGER questions about living in Oregon. Who is willing to live with a spider infestation? Who refuses free help with cleaning from a tidy Italian man who has nothing better to do during a pandemic? Who is not only willing to live, BUT COMMITTED TO, LIVING IN A DEN OF SPIDERS DEAR GOD THE HUMANITY. ::wrings hands::

Other things happened in Portland that let me know it wasn’t for me. Once, Bear and I were driving to The Goonies House and accidentally merged into a Proud Boys truck parade at a stoplight. In case that wasn’t clear: WE ACCIDENTALLY TOOK PART IN A PARADE CELEBRATING DOMESTIC TERRORISM WHEN WE WERE JUST TRYING TO SEE THE HOUSE WHERE THE GOONIES WAS FILMED.

In addition, police violence and federal-government-sanctioned violence were at an all-time high. Activists were being snatched up by unmarked vans, disappearing for hours and being held by ‘officials’ without any stated cause. Bear was less than 20 feet from Portland’s mayor on the night he got pepper sprayed repeatedly by his own police force.

And the DRONES. Police drones. Data-scraping drones. Military drones. I didn’t know how many drones could be present in the air at any one point. And silly me, I didn’t even know police drones were a thing! We got used to drones the size of my VW Beetle hovering overhead regularly.

One day, my friend Dawn called to say that an apartment had opened in her triplex and did we want to come home now?

We were committed to a new start in Portland.

That meant we were also committed to having spiders in our basement. And escalating police violence on the daily. With a side of domestic terrorism. While drones that could hold their own in any dystopian novel patrolled the air. During a pandemic. Which did not yet have a vaccine.

At the precise moment that Bear and I chose to discuss returning to Philly, one of those enormous drones hovered over the house and shook it down to the foundation. The entire place hummed like an industrial strength vibrator factory set to Test Mode as the police drone hovered overhead.

It was scary as fuck.

It was also PRECISELY the confirmation we needed to get out of the city as soon as possible.

Wherever you are, and whatever you’re committed to?

It’s okay to change.

You get new data.

You learn that you’ll be surviving your first pandemic.

You know a place in reality, not just through visits.

You have more information.

You watch spiders crawl into your keyboard and never crawl back out.

It’s okay to admit that your current situation isn’t working.

It’s okay to adjust the sails (or, in my case, move away from the drones).

It’s okay to respond to life as it happens, even if your plans were PERFECT and the budget doesn’t allow for any deviation from the plan.

Life HAPPENS.

Shaming yourself for not knowing what you couldn’t have known won’t help anyone.

You take it all in.

You learn.

And you adjust to life’s insanities as the days unfold.

For the record: I never went into the basement again.

(Image: Portland Bubs was apparently pretty ragged and barely holding on, or at least he looks like it in this photo.)

P.S. Sometimes ‘not this’ is clear enough.

Katherine North is a Holy Heathen.

Holy Heathen

Her book of the same name is the focus of today’s That What She Said podcast interview!

Katherine North is a masterful life coach, stellar author, and fellow enneagram 4-rocking human. Her memoir, Holy Heathen, is ultimately a book about growing up displaced from American society — and herself. She writes of her time growing up in Japan with her missionary parents and all the complications that living for ‘God’s Will’ brings with it. (Spoiler alert: God’s Will kinda sucks.)

If you’ve ever been a member of organized religion and then found a way to leave it behind, WE GOT YOU AND YOU’LL LOVE THIS.

In this interview, we talk about:

  • Being ‘good’ versus being connected to yourself
  • The facades we hold up at great cost in the name of being ‘good’
  • Indoctrination and its many effects on the psyche from a young age
  • The process of bringing the book to life, what it took from Katherine, and what it gave
  • Her parents’ long-anticipated reaction to the book (DO THEY HATE HER NOW??)
  • Learning through joy versus learning through pain (and why joy is better, obviously)

…and a bunch more stuff!  We laughed, we cried, and we connected.  Enjoy!

Visit Katherine’s website, Instagram, or Patreon community and secret blog for more magic.

P.S. Have you listened to the 1st LIVE episode of That’s What She Said yet?

Live podcast magic is here!

The very first LIVE podcast episode of That’s What She Said is here!  This is something I’ve been dreaming about doing, and it was SOFRIGGINFUN to see faces and talk to peeps while recording!

In this episode of That’s What She Said, we talk about…

+ how to find meaning when everything feels meaningless
+ how to re-enter society as pandemic comes to some sort of end
+ why much of the modern marketing scene feels like Very Pretty Garbage
+ and how to say true to your self and your instincts in the face of what seems like the whole world shouting, “YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!”

[technical note] This was recorded LIVE and the first 2 minutes are a bit static-y. The issue is resolved by minute 3.

Like what you hear?  Shoot me an email and tell me what you’d like to discuss on the next live episode, okay?

If you’d like to come to a live recording of That’s What She Said, hop on my mailing list and you’ll be the first to know when the next one happens!

Also: I won't spam you because I'm not a butthead. Powered by ConvertKit

P.S. If you’d like to receive snail mail from me, hop on my SNAIL mailing list! <– For real: SNAIL MAIL.

Simple + helpful ways to defeat asshole brain

After more than a decade of biz coaching work, I’ve noticed that solopreneurs struggle with asshole brain in VERY specific ways that often end in self sabotage.  So!

Let’s walk through six really friggin common ways asshole brain will mess with you and your work.

I’ve been living with depression and its kissing cousin, asshole brain, for more than 2 decades now. PLEASE let yourself learn from this work without shame or guilt! Each subset links to a podcast episode or article of mine that will help you explore each aspect of overcoming asshole brain a bit further.

Asshole Brain will tell you to give up.

It will tell you to abandon…everything. Absolutely everything.

The specifics may include: your career, your work, your marriage, your internal goals, your boundaries, your hopes, your friends, and your fiercest talents.

Asshole brain always has a word about what you’re doing, why it absolutely sucks, and why you should give up. ALWAYS.

What if you go all in instead?  <– This is the tale of losing many thousands of dollars on a business event, and why that was not the worst thing that ever happened to me.

More subtly, asshole brain will try to get you to walk away from the work you’re doing at this moment.

You sat down to work on that project or painting or piece of writing.

You’re finally answering those emails and DMs and voicemails and messages and texts.

You’re all set to begin tackling that organization project or those systems you need to set up or to create an email list to connect with your peeps.

But suddenly! The laundry! The phone! The need to doomscroll! The kids’ needs that aren’t at all urgent but WOW IT’S BETTER THAN DOING THIS!

Also you’re hungry! You’re tired! You need to ‘just check in on’ social media before you can begin! The toilet needs to be cleaned URGENTLY! And on and on it goes.

Asshole brain fights for control of your thoughts by letting you get to the knife’s edge of doing your work in the world — and then it pipes up about THE URGENT NEED TO BE DOING ANYTHING ELSE.

But. What if you get fierce about your priorities and identify the actions that actually move the needle of YOUR business forward?  Lemme show you how to get started.

Should you find ways to do your work consistently, asshole brain does NOT want you to be seen.

When you enter into doing work that’s public in some way — say, for example, you’re a business owner who puts anything at all on the internet 😉 — asshole brain will curl into the mental equivalent of an armadillo under threat.

All armor.

Nothing goes in or out.

Remain still and hope for the best.

You’re basically in vulnerability bunker mode.

This armadillo phase results in hiding, freaking out, procrastinating, and possibly buying other people’s tools/prompts/done-for-you kits so you can have something to say. It might also end with repeating what ‘works’ even if it doesn’t enrich your soul in any capacity.

::cough aggressive sales funnels and tripwires cough::

Unfortunately, being truly seen is the only sustainable way to feel as if we belong anywhere.

If vulnerability gives you the heebie jeebies, listen to or read Vulnerability 101.  I’ll walk you through ways to begin to be vulnerable online. (It’s something I’ve been doing for 11 years now!)

If your particular fear of being seen involves having an email list and sending zero communications per year, check out How to F*#*ing Communicate! This short class and workbook combo will help you figure out what to send, and when, with less stress and fewer freakouts.  Promise.

Oooh another one! Asshole brain remembers every bit of training that you’re veering from when you decide to try something new. It wants you to do everything ‘right.’

Those college classes that weren’t helpful but were ‘official’ in some way? It remembers.

The courses and coaches and teachers and mentors who have had an opinion about your work over the years? It remembers.

Asshole brain will beat you up about all the ways you’re veering from the path, even as it also declares the VERY SAME PATH stupid and useless and then concludes that you should just give up anyway. (SEE HOW SNEAKY THIS MOTHERFUCKER IS????)

You don’t have to do anything the way everyone else is doing it. You don’t have to whip up business offerings that look like what everyone else is making.

You don’t even give a fuck about what your past mentors have said. <– I once paid $20,000 to take part in a mastermind and, over the course of the years following, to UNlearn everything I had learned in that space. Unlearning has been a deeply difficult and ultimately satisfying pursuit, ’cause now I can help you Go Your Own Way in business.

Should you succeed in making a thing! Asshole brain will try to negate the work you’re doing because it isn’t ‘official’ in some way.

Maybe you’re trying something new.

Maybe you’ve recently taken up a hobby.

Maybe you finished creating your next business product and it’s ready for launch.

Maybe you have written nonfiction all your life and you’d just like to write a single poem.

This is when asshole brain will remind you that you’re a [JOB TITLE HERE], not a [MAKER OF THE THING YOU JUST MADE].

It will also get really hung up on titles and certifications and degrees and ways that you can’t possibly be qualified to do the thing you just friggin did.

What if you let your deep knowing drive the bus? What if you didn’t listen to the voices that say you’re not qualified or certified or capable of doing the things you’ve already done? We can work around being ‘official’ when we’re in touch with our intuition.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, in which you are basically frozen in place! Asshole brain wants you to THINK about your work more than it wants you to DO your work.

When you think about writing the book or painting the painting or building the website or helping the clients or opening the studio or renting the office, you’re fine. Pin 3,000 photos of your dream office to Pinterest and your brain is SO FUCKING HAPPY. You’re SAFE. You’re in Imagination Land, flitting from flatlay inspiration to new website template idea to paint colors to furniture choices to planning your perfect bookshelf.

But!

Action makes asshole brain freak out.

When you call to make an appointment for touring the office or write another 1,000 words for your novel or investigate website hosting or send out the invitations to the open house, asshole brain goes into full blown freakout mode.

Making and sharing your truest work is vulnerable. And asshole brain doesn’t want to be vulnerable. (See: vulnerability 101 — you can do this!)

If you’re the thinking-about-it-thinking-about-it-thinking-about-it type, what’s the smallest bit of action that needs to happen in order to move your work forward? You’re capable of taking those steps.

If overthinking is a HUGE problem for you… The M-School podcast series will help you place some structure around your daily work, as well as help you reframe your weekly schedule in a way that’s both enduring and flexible.  (M stands for Magic, and I’m fairly certin you’ll love everything about M-School!)

If procrastination, the need to go back to school or be ‘official,’ the constant critique of ‘you’re doing it wrong,’ amped up distractions, and the ever-present ‘just give up’ chant don’t take you out of the game, asshole brain gets more subtle.

In some cases, you’ll prioritize others’ work over your own. You’ll find no time for your ‘real’ work and let other people’s needs take over your schedule.

This is easy to do if you’ve got kids! You could take 30 minutes to work on that thing, or you could cut out early and go back to the ever-present needs of tiny beings. This becomes a habit, et voila! You’ve never got time to do YOUR work again.

Similarly, you might prioritize grant seeking or fundraising for your clients or beloved organizations, not yourself. You might convince yourself that you’re not that big a deal, and anyway the deadline for that grant is close at hand. You’ve got no time. You’ve got no chance. (AND there we are, back at ‘you should probably give up.’ Asshole brain is predictable that way!)

I used to spend HOURS ghostwriting for clients each day before I would work on my own blog or podcast or books or classes. It was only by consciously shifting my schedule to be mine first, others second that I shifted out of this mode of asshole brain.

In other cases, asshole brain might convince you that your career doesn’t allow for this — whether this is a promotion, a demotion, starting a business, stepping away from your business, or shifting gears into a new realm. Also it will say you should probably go back to school, thus delaying this shift for a number of years. It might even go on about how you should be at the next level (which doesn’t exist), and how your failure to be at the ‘next level’ means you should give up.

OH MY GOD IT’S SO CYCLICAL, ISN’T IT? WE’RE RIGHT BACK AT THE BEGINNING, WITH YOU GIVING UP.  ::facepalm::

Asshole brain’s ultimate goal is to keep you safe. This often means saying whatever it takes to keep you small, stuck, taking no risks, spinning in overwhelm (here’s how to stop the overwhelm), overthinking your every move, and generally freaking out.

This should be the part where I have an AMAZING OFFER that will SOLVE YOUR LIFE. Alas!  Asshole brain isn’t one of those things you can outrun or outmaneuver in a single move.

The work of overcoming your particular flavor of asshole brain is a lifelong endeavor. (Read: it’s a real pain in the ass.)

You can do this.

You can refuse to believe the worst things your brain says about you.

You can make shifts that help you get your work done with less static from your thoughts.

You can learn to be vulnerable with your work.

You can begin to communicate regularly about your business with your clients.

You can allow yourself to dream, to grow, and to expand without losing months to procrastination or overwhelm.

You. Can. Do. This.

If you’d like my help doing it, please check out KK on Tap. We’ll tackle your particular flavor of asshole brain while making strides toward creating your most profitable and meaningful business.

::high fives::

P.S. I love you, keep going.