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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.’

Kiwi of Craft Boner talks letting your freak flag fly.

Craftboner headshot

Kiwi Schloffel founded Craft Boner when her left brain got too tired of being a genius — an Apple genius — and the rest is history. Her cards, postcards, totes, and home goods will soon grace your home with the perfect mixture of raunchy beauty and wit.

Why will you love her, exactly?  When I asked Kiwi how she got such a fantastic sense of humor, she said:

“When you’re chubby and awkward with braces and glasses, you have to develop a personality.”

In this interview, we talk about:

opening and closing her dream retail space within the course of two years
the ‘overnight’ success fallacy and other creative myths
culling half the products in her store at one fell swoop
how to actually make money selling products (hint: it’s not as easy as Etsy says!)
growing up indoorsy with extremely outdoorsy parents
hating but learning to cope with the business-y aspects of business
staying inspired to create regularly, even when you do it for a living
the particular magic of thrift stores
shocking revelations of all kids (like followers don’t always translate to dollars)
her top 3 time machine destinations
the books that have shaped her life over the years
why Kiwi’s hometown librarians were annoyed with her as a kid
the Craft Boner process, from idea to printed item

Listen in if you sell products, want to own a retail shop, enjoy a laugh, or just want to meet one of my favorite peeps.

Go follow Craft Boner on Instagram, then pop into the shop at craftboner.com to buy all the delightful things, including the ‘your penis is my favorite’ card.  (Kiwi’s favorite customer bought three at once. 😉

Her official bio is as follows: Kiwi Schloffel is the brains & brawn behind Craft Boner, a stationery and gift brand with the sole focus of making people chuckle. When she’s not laughing at people’s reactions to realizing that the word boner is in her business name – she’s rifling through thrift stores, reading books in a hammock or working on a DIY project. A self-taught hand letterer and designer, she can’t get enough of pastels, curse words and really good dad jokes. 

P.S. Relevant! How to work from home without losing your mind.

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.