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Confessions

These podcasts are 150% an experiment.

What happens if I don’t have a meticulous plan with bullet points and a perfect transcript before I begin talking? 

What happens if I’m FAR more honest and revealing than is strictly comfortable, trusting that I’ll be well held by those who listen? 

What if I can, by revealing the most inward emotions and thoughts of my being at this moment, find those EXACT emotions and thoughts in you, thereby helping you feel far less alone? 

What if I tell you what I’m wrestling with, and what I’ve been keeping hidden from myself (and therefore you), and what I’m working on before it’s 100% done? 

And what if it’s all recorded while I’m pulled over to the side of the road in my car in a single take? 

THAT’S THE CONFESSIONS SERIES OF PODCASTS.

These are the spaces created by beginning with the word “Confession” and going from there.  They are not ‘useful’ in the sense of having been plotted, tweaked, and carefully crafted.  They are DEEPLY ‘useful’ if you value honesty, want to feel less alone, or have been numbing, muting, or martyring yourself throughout these pandemic years.

Confessions! Starving Souls & Lotto Tickets

Confessions! On Crying & Joy Infections

Confessions! The Tumor & The Witness

Confessions! The Shame and The Not-Useful

Confessions! The Damage and the Dare

Confessions! Weak Ties & The Everything Bagel 🥯

I hope they shake the dust from your soul, affirm your feelings, and sweep away your loneliness.

👉🏻Let me know what you think by shooting an email to k@kristenkalp.com — or send me a note right here.

P.S. If you’d like to stop numbing, muting, or martyring yourself while held within a space of community — check out The Gathering. Registration closes on May 6th!

Confessions: Covid and the 💩 Birthday Party

It’s so WEIRD to be alive, isn’t it?

You think you’ve got something figured out, and then WHAM JUST KIDDING, something new appears and you’re rethinking everything.

I’m seven years in to making the That’s What She Said podcast. What I’ve noticed, over time, is that I’m less and less free, more and more sticking to a carefully created transcript as I create each episode.

In my head I’m all, BUT THEY HAVE SO LITTLE TIME!!! HOW CAN I WASTE A SINGLE SECOND TAKING UP SPACE WITHOUT A CLEAR OBJECTIVE AND FOCUS!!??

::existential wringing of hands::

AND! What I want and need from other creators I love is to share NOT ONLY their most ‘expert,’ cis-het-white-passive-income-friendly selves. I want to go behind the scenes, hear the questions they’re wrestling with, know about what’s ACTUALLY going on with them, and feel into their struggles alongside them.

Because it’s easy to pretend everyone else has it all figured out. Everyone else is on Easy Street, sipping $7 beverages and spending five hours a day sunning by the pool, says asshole brain. Everyone else has more time, money, and energy than you. Everyone else has it all under control.

I’m choosing to try something different (and defeat asshole brain) by sharing the places where I’m caught up in my head, unsure, pissed off, full of questions, or trying to process ENORMOUS WORLD EVENTS in real time and out loud.

I sincerely hope this confessional episode is a service to your heart and spirit.

It’s a pulled-over-on-the-side-of-the-road confessional in which I share big, little, existential, and petty thoughts about where we are at this moment in time, and in which I share the big huge questions rattling around in my brain, too!

Listen in to Confessions: Covid and the 💩 Birthday Party if you want to hear what I’m working on, what I’m wrestling with, and why this whole Covid thing is a lot like a birthday party gone off the rails. 😉

P.S. Overachiever, Enneagram type 3, or Hyper-competent Human Who Needs Help From No One? If you haven’t yet, I recommend listening to: Lower the Bar.

Lower the Bar

Since you’re one of my peeps, I can make a bunch of assumptions about you. Namely, that you’re an overachiever who does your absolute best each day. You might be grappling with mental illness or physical illness or battling asshole brain or measuring your worth by your work ( <– HAPPY FREEBIE TO HELP YOU DEAL WITH THAT HERE).  No matter what, you still give each day’s efforts everything you’ve got.

Trouble is, I’ve noticed that my clients and I are often holding ourselves to standards we created in The Before. Nothing about our lives functions the same way as it did in 2019, but we refuse to let ourselves lower the bar for what it takes to survive and thrive in 2022.

Psst!  This is an episode of my podcast, That’s What She Said!  The audio contains more asides and three of my poems, but here’s the quick version 👇🏻:

Here are 3 thoughts that might help you ease up on your expectations for yourself in these dumpster fire days:

1 – When you’re in the BRACE FOR IMPACT position, your clients probably are, too.

A coaching client of mine mentioned that inquiries for her business dropped significantly in the past 10 days. She was certain this was ALL HER FAULT.

“Did anything else happen in the past 10 days,” I asked.

“Yup, Russia invaded Ukraine. I’ve been off of social media and in the fetal position for a few days now.”

“Do you think your (potential) clients are ALSO in the fetal position, which explains the lack of inquiries?”

Holy shit…you’re probably right.”

When the world is destabilized at the global level by an insane dictator who provokes a war for no good reason, and who attacks a nuclear plant for funsies, it’s nigh impossible to continue business as usual. You might feel less like you care about your business, or you might pay less attention to other businesses, or both.

That’s because when you’re in the brace position, your clients probably are, too.

I’m not saying you have to stop working or marketing entirely, but please give yourself the grace of realizing that you’ll probably have to repeat yourself more as this conflict continues.

Acknowledging that current events effect your energy levels, mood, and will to work means you don’t have to beat yourself up for being human, or wonder WHY NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR SALE ON MUGS RIGHT NOW. You’re not doing anything wrong; we’re simply doomscrolling and panic breathing in an ever-more-distracted fashion at the moment.

2 – No one can tell the difference between your 90% and your 100%.

This is a fun principle to test out!

One of my coaching clients spent hours less time than usual on a writing project for her college class, shocked to find it returned by the professor with an A+ at the top. That’s because, for overachievers who are habitually aiming for perfection, no one can tell the difference between our 90% and our 100%.

You can easily spend hours tweaking font kerning or editing a draft for a fifth time. And NO ONE CAN TELL THE DIFFERENCE IN YOUR FINISHED PRODUCT.

This is a call not for lowering your standards, but for acknowledging where you are already meeting and exceeding others’ standards for your work.

You are not required to go above and beyond for each effort you make.

You do not have to CRUSH IT OUT OF THE PARK each time you step up to bat.

Your clients do not need to have their texts returned within 23 seconds.

You don’t need to show up on social media 23 times per day with your game face on.

Much of your success in the coming years (read: as systems continue to crumble and everything ever is in flux) lies in your ability to know which standards to maintain and which you can let go.

Showering? Still pretty awesome.

Responding to each email received within 15 minutes? Lower the bar.

Delivering client orders days ahead of schedule? Lower the bar.

Losing sleep to put the finishing touches on a low-paying project? Lower the bar.

Not letting yourself feel feelings even though Covid isn’t over and Putin is making moves that threaten the entire world? Lower the bar. (And let yourself have feelings.)

To my delight, one of my clients was like, “If I’m being honest, I don’t think people can tell the difference between my SIXTY perfect and my hundred percent.” Yes! Exactly!

We require SO MUCH of ourselves that lowering the bar feels like self betrayal – but it’s actually self care.

We simply CAN’T keep our 2019 standards for living or business completely intact and expect to stay sane.

Lowering the bar for ourselves is an act of unprecedented kindness for ourselves and our futures.

It’s also a wise acknowledgement that things have changed – at every level, in every part of the world – and that our futures lie in dealing with reality at this moment. In these times, with these very particular circumstances.

3 – Double down on meaning.

If social media feels like a hellscape of nothingness…good. Quit Facebook and do something you’ve always wanted to do. Take up the hobby you’ve never found time for. Cut your screen time in half and use those hours in ways you find delightful.

You can subvert the entirety of the media complex on this planet by using your time to do anything but doomscroll.

If something has meaning for you, please let yourself take it up with abandon. Write the play, film the movie, record the album, release the book, have the baby, join the movement, organize the protest, adopt the animals, start the project, paint your living room with rainbow colors. (Or, most subversive of all: rest.)

The more society as we knew it goes flying off the rails, the more free you are to pursue that which gives your life meaning. We live on a burning planet, and it’s up to us to determine how we use our time here. Seek hope. Turn off your wifi. Plant a garden. Volunteer. Spend sumptuous hours learning to cook or knit or sew or organize effectively…whatever you like. ANYTHING beats doomscrolling on Insta.

If you don’t know what has meaning for you in this moment – if everything is simply a flat, barren wasteland of despair – rest.

Sleep is a legitimate hobby these days. Other legitimate hobbies for those lowering the bar include napping, daydreaming, resting your eyes, canceling plans, and going to bed early. We can’t reliably access hope in our bodies without having accessed sleep first. The world is simply too heavy, too insane, too wildly WTF IS EVEN HAPPENING to do much of anything effectively without first prioritizing rest.

P.S. You don’t have to earn your keep.

Identify your pandemic pattern.

Twins

The One Who Cares lies nested within
the one who pretends she doesn’t.

The One Who Cares wants
to give up because humans are too brutal
to stick around and witness.
(She mourns the loss of the rainforest,
the ice caps, the coral reefs. She weeps
for all the plastic in the ocean that will be here
long after she’s died.)

She is full of grief
for all the ways we humans shut down, numb, disconnect,
go to sleep, give up, give out, and refuse to feel. (She
does not respond to phone notifications
in a timely manner, which is one of her charms.)

The One Who Cares lies hidden
behind The One Who Gets Things Done:
the one who has a schedule, does the laundry, feeds the dog,
pays the electric bill, stays on top of the news. The one who
Gets Things Done rolls out her yoga mat, meditates,
and eats a nutritious breakfast.

The One Who Cares sinks into the body when she can,
lets tears fall down her cheeks in the bath,
and breathes, breathes, breathes.

She has few answers and asks eternal questions.

(She is often overwhelmed and leans into victimhood
if left unchecked. I cannot give her unfettered time
or she would pull me under, again.)

So she nests, watching all those tasks get checked off the list,
waiting for her moments to feel, to spin the globe of concern
and take in the bodies floating on the Ganges, bloated with Covid;
the white supremacists tightening voting restrictions; the Black bodies
piling up at the hands of police; the next reveal
of the rapist who remains in office. (And the next, and the next.)

The One Who Cares is most present
with reality but cannot remain there for long
or she is held down, held under, unable to move
until The One Who Gets Things Done picks her up,
dusts her off, and says,

Yes, yes, yes.
Feel all that. Use every breath
to move the whole world through you.
Let the entirety of existence be what it is,
and then we’ll get back to work.

Whether The One Who Cares and The One Who Gets Things Done battle it out in your life or not, finding some spaces where internal battles are being waged is the name of the game for this episode of That’s What She Said.

When does asshole brain take the driver’s seat in your life?

For me, it’s part of my hormonal cycle. I’ve been working closely with my doctor for all sorts of tests, and we found that a.) I have no measurable levels of testosterone in my body and b.) on day 20, my hormones plummet like Thelma and Louise going over the cliff at the end of the movie. I don’t make major decisions or big plans on Day 20, which I’ve marked in my calendar, ’cause that would be setting myself up for failure.

It used to be when I was comparing myself to others and fighting with people’s social media posts in my head. Scroll, GET OUTRAGED, close app and mull over VARIOUS OUTRAGES until tomorrow. Repeat daily.  (Related: I deleted social media and then this happened.)

Asshole brain might take over at a particular time of day or point in your hormonal cycle. Maybe it rears its ugly head with particular clients or relationships. Perhaps it only appears when a project is mentioned or you’re facing a deadline.

No matter when it appears, knowing the dominant asshole brain pattern in your life helps you to make life easier for yourself.

My asshole brain gets out its fancy pants and loud microphone after 7 p.m., so I have never done a coaching call or held a workshop at that time. I wrap up while the sun’s up, ’cause that’s when my body is most awesome.

What do I never ‘let’ myself do?

For me, it’s spending money on travel that’s not work related. You want me to blow cash on a sweet hotel and fancy foods with a big souvenir budget when I’m being paid to speak or teach? No problem.

You want me to spend that same amount of money on…my own joy? UGGGGGHHHHHHHH.

It used to be stepping away from the computer when work was done for the day. I would sit at the screen for eight hours, every day, whether I had important work or I was just bopping around on social media, clicking links like a mofo. (Related: it took years for me to master the Quietly Subversive 3-Hour Work Day.)

You might never let yourself spend money on your needs, take time off, pay yourself in your business, or say “no.” (Related: how to say “no.”)

You might not let yourself have strong enough boundaries to create time for your work, time for your business, or time that’s simply not someone else’s to claim. (Related: boundaries are awesome.)

What do you never ‘let’ yourself do – and how might you interrupt that pattern, starting right now?

What do you need to admit or voice about the way pandemic has impacted your life and being?

For me, it’s missing the work I used to do with people face-to-face, in person, while breathing the same air. Whether speaking or teaching, I used to get on a plane for my Truest Work four to six times a year, and that work/travel combo fed me deeply.

As the years of pandemic roll on, I miss the in-person work more and more. There’s an amorphous, ongoing aspect to this grief that recently prompted me to start working with a therapist. What do you DO with what you’ve lost for the moment, but maybe permanently, but maybe NOT permanently…? I don’t know, so I’m getting help to sort it out.

Early in pandemic, I needed to admit that Long Covid kicked my ass. I was too deep in fear to say things about it, since asshole brain had convinced me that I’d never be able to breathe or think or be witty or exercise or laugh ever again. Those fears subsided as my basic abilities and instincts returned, but WOW it was scary for a while.

Whether you’re flourishing or floundering in pandemic life, admitting the ways it has impacted your life and being is just plain helpful.

You can stop pretending that you’ve got it all together, or that you looooove homeschooling, or that you don’t find performing continuous risk assessment stressful af. Acknowledging where you are gives you the ability to move forward in a way that’s both deeply rooted in reality and completely honest.

We don’t need you to be amazing and stunning and #winning in every aspect of pandemic life. But we do need you to be honest about where you are and what you need.

To put it another way…where are you censoring yourself?

What’s roiling up within you that you don’t say? What drives you batshit crazy but is tolerated in your everyday existence? What are you holding within you that is beating on the walls of your interiors to be let out?

I’m not suggesting that you go on a social media rant delineating every last thing that has ever pissed you off. I am suggesting that admitting how you’re feeling, where you’re struggling, and what’s driving you crazy allows you to both relieve interior pressure (you know, that feeling of IF I HAVE TO TOLERATE THIS ONE MORE TIME I WILL BURST INTO A THOUSAND PIECES AND DESTROY WORLDS) and to ask for help wherever possible.

Uncensored, uncut you has Many Things to Say. Please find a way to express those things, whether through art, in conversation, or in therapy. Don’t let the big feels eat you alive, okay?

Penning bad poems is the only way to get to the good ones.
Same goes for bad photographs, bad drawings, bad drafts —
shitty first attempts –they’re the starting point for your work in the world.

Don’t shy away from making terrible artwork, horrible mistakes, or
unfortunate choices. These are the pebbles that are stacked to form
your shoreline: the only risks that will count in a year’s time.

Go on, take a chance. Make it awful. Let your whole heart out
and see where it takes you. See what your work does when you’re not
looking. See how it surprises you when you let your instincts out to play.

Waste paint and supplies and hours at the computer, writing.
Give yourself to the unknown elements, the chaos of losing control over
what you “should” be doing.

Breathe it in: this is art, moving in you and through you.
May it surprise you every time.

That’s it, you survived!!!!  (Related: your art will save your life.)

Shoot me a note with whichever pattern you’re ready to shift so I can cheer you on – for real.

This work – this knowing of ourselves and then taking action from the place of Deep Knowing – is the work we do in The Imaginarium.

If you’d like to both a.) return to yourself and b.) find a way forward in the midst of pandemic, please talk to me about attending!

The Imaginarium goes down in Philly from March 30th to April 1st or May 18th to 20th. This live, vaccinated-only workshop will help you stay connected to both your interiors and the world around you via some magical structures I’ve set up that involve massive support and accountability. Click here to book a tiny call, or shoot me a note via k@kristenkalp.com

Says Nicole, an Imaginarium attendee:  “I have never ever looked forward to December and January like I’m looking forward to it this year, and I didn’t realize I would be so excited for these follow up sessions.”

Current Imaginarium attendees are making massive progress, leaning on each other in gorgeous ways, and sending me frequent OH MY GOD THANK YOU FOR DOING THIS WORK AND INTRODUCING ME TO THESE WOMEN texts.

You don’t have to do the rest of 2022 alone, lemme help!  Book a tiny call!

P.S. One other pattern that might be taking over your life: screeeeeens.  Let’s stop that pattern dead in its tracks.

What’s tripping you up?

Over the years, I’ve admitted SO MANY scary things here on the podcast and in my writings. Some highlights: I’ve been battling depression since 2001. I once lost $43,000 on a massive business event, the $20,000 mastermind I signed up for hurt my spirit in ways I couldn’t even begin to articulate for years afterward, and long Covid wrecked my spirit in ways I can only just now begin to see, let alone articulate. I’ve studied breathwork (a free class for you is waiting here!), gotten divorced, fallen in love, written poems, shared advice, and seen the depths of the human spirit – all while sharing what I’m learning with you.

Psst! This is an episode of That’s What She Said, my podcast — there are hundreds more episodes right here.

Talking about what’s tripping you up doesn’t make you wrong, bad, a ‘loser,’ or whatever else asshole brain has to say about you. It makes you HUMAN.

You find being committed to nutrition, exercise, healthy sleep, self care, and/or taking time away from work to be a challenge? Me, too.

Your life looks nothing like it did before pandemic, or EXACTLY like it did before pandemic but with much harder circumstances surrounding your day-to-day existence? Me, too.

You failed to plan for a global pandemic starting in 2020 so now your 1-year, 3-year, or 5-year plan is ruined? WELP I never had a 5-year plan, but if I did I imagine mine would also be fucked.

Failing to acknowledge what’s true in this moment doesn’t make it any less true.

There’s nowhere on the planet you can go that gets you away from…yourself. So let’s turn inward and see what we find, okay?

Answering the following questions will help you find a way through the tangles of your own heart. You’re human, so please don’t beat yourself up about your answers. It’s year three of pandemic, so again – PLEASE DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP ABOUT YOUR ANSWERS. What Kasia Urbaniak calls ‘self attack’ will only prevent you from moving toward health.

What keeps tripping you up?

Meaning, what do you find yourself struggling with again and again? I’ve had turns of the spiral with depression, with money habits and skills, with creating structure for myself in business, with isolating when connecting is the healthiest option, and lately, with pandemic itself. WHEN WILL IT END/WHY GOD WHY happens more frequently as time goes on.

Places where you routinely trip up are like red flags encouraging you to ask for help. (Related: how to ask for help.) These tripping-up places are not places for shame or despair to take hold! They’re simply places where you can seek help, because completing one more turn of the spiral on your own is unlikely to return an amazing result. (You’ve tried that already, ’cause you’re one of my people and OF COURSE YOU HAVE.)

Where do you routinely lose time, money, and/or energy?

Common time sucks: social media, doomscrolling, planning and re-planning and re-re-planning in lieu of taking action

Common money sucks: courses/books/programs/offerings that promise a silver bullet or a vague ‘More,’ particularly if they can promise that YOU WILL make SO MUCH more MONEY if you just A, B, C, D, E, F, and G according to our Very Foolproof System.

Common energy sucks: worrying about what’s going to happen three steps from now, or six months from now, or seven years from now, email in all its forms, contorting yourself into the version of you that people will ‘like.’  (Related: let out your meows.)

Simply identifying where you lose time, money, or energy is the first step toward reclaiming those things – even now, smack dab in the middle of Omicron having its way with the globe. This is NOT a way to beat yourself up, but to acknowledge that reclaiming some time, money, and/or energy is available to you starting right now.

What is quietly a dumpster fire that you hope goes away on its own?

Sources of dumpster fire-y ness that I’ve witnessed most often include: ignoring mounting debt, hanging on to unhealthy or dead relationships, overeating to avoid feeling feelings, pretending your current circumstances are ‘fine’ when internally you’re FREAKING OUT, or admitting that you’ve changed your mind about X but asshole brain convinces you to white-knuckle your way through your commitments. (See: that time I wanted to end my marriage in 2006 but hung in there til 2014.)

Which parts of your being or your work have you given up on or decided to ignore away?

If you’re an artist, making your art will save your life. Your creative impulses aren’t going to disappear just because you’ve decided to let them go dormant. Likewise, pretending that numbing your emotions means you’ll never have emotions again is a recipe for failure. Acting like you’re FINE THANK YOU VERY MUCH in the face of whatever your heart is telling you is also likely to go…poorly.  (Related: don’t you dare settle for ‘fine.‘)

A poem to highlight this particular issue:

Pen to Paper

I stopped writing.
It was the first to go.
I was too busy building walls
to record any words for posterity’s sake.

I stopped asking.
Because I didn’t care
what you were thinking,
or why, or whether I made you that way.

I stopped fucking.
Because what’s the point,
it will end in rejection. Quiet,
shame, tears. The bathroom floor.

I stopped touching.
It’s easier to give it all up
than to hug everyone you adore
before going home to your husband.

I stopped trying.
Because if love is all work, it’s no longer love
but something darker. Obligation,
retaliation. Endless compromise. Domestic warfare.

I stopped singing.
In the car, in the shower, in line. I didn’t even notice
until that day, months and months after,
when my voice returned. It startled me.

But, really. Really.
I’d give just about anything
to read those poems I never wrote.

Last question, and it’s a fill-in-the-blank!

If I wasn’t censoring or sabotaging myself, I would…

This is not the time to be sensible, reasonable, or responsible! If your first answer is ‘write a novel,’ please let that answer stand. If it’s delete social media or double down on social media, great!

Whatever it is that you routinely do to censor or sabotage yourself…please identify the pattern. You’re capable of changing that pattern, and of doing so without it costing eleventy-billion dollars or taking the rest of your life.

You’re capable of making changes in your life starting right now, and it’s possible for those changes to bear fruit in the coming months, even if pandemic goes absolutely nowhere or a new variant emerges. To put it another way…

Enter into the dance.

The dance of the universe,
this endless world looking at, observing,
and interacting with itself —
only itself in endless forms —
every single day.

Your job is to be you.

Your job is to evolve
your consciousness by entering in,
every single day.

Even when you’re tired.
Even when you’re scared.
Even when you’re sure it’s useless,
or there are bigger fish to fry,
or your tiny scraps of goodness
add up to nothing at all.

Your job is to enter in and become more of yourself,
to find out more of what you already know,
to dance with everything both as the universe
and as your own, separate, self.

The error comes in thinking there’s a ‘there’ there:
believing it will all be solved when
all better when
all work out when
all be ideal when
all be painless when

The dance is good and hard and painful and messy, always.

Enter in.

Don’t sit at the gate and charge for tickets
or claim to know what’s going on inside because you visited yesterday
or stand along the sides and watch others dancing.

Rest when you need, of course,
but enter in.

It’s the only way to know what is and isn’t true, today,
and what you might do to aid the universe
in its unfolding at this very moment.

You are freer than you know, now.

Just enter in.

Telling the truth about where you are and what’s going on – without shame, guilt, or judgment — is the whole point of my latest in-person workshop, The Imaginarium.

I’ll see you just as you are in this moment – paused, unpaused, freaking out, super calm, trying not to feel, or feeling every damn thing.

We’ll identify places where you’re committed to making progress.
We’ll put structures in place to hold you accountable for doing what you say you’re doing to do.
We’ll work together to find the more hopeful and alive version of you that’s been hiding away during pandemic, and we’ll bring her to the forefront with more joy and ease than you thought possible.

Says Laura, an Imaginarium attendee: “I tried to explain to my mom what it was like to be held so gently and with so much support and non-judgment. I said it was like putting a spotlight on my heart and soul, but it wasn’t scary; it was healing and filled with encouragement. I felt very safe.”

To talk with me about whether or not The Imaginarium is right for you, book a free tiny call or shoot an email to k@kristenkalp.com and I’ll hook you up.

Again – book a tiny call to see if working together might be just what you need in 2022.

P.S. I dare you to shoot me an email with your answers to the questions in this podcast! I’m 0% going to judge you and 100% proud that you took the time to sort out an internal tangle or two. Send a note to k@kristenkalp.com!