Kristen Kalp - Page 3 of 86 - Writer, poet, business coach.

Latest Blog Posts — Page 3

I had a panic attack on Saturday. Here’s why that matters to you.

I had a panic attack on Saturday.  One minute I was driving through the city, admiring the cute little shops and the gorgeous weather, and the next a set of invisible hands had grabbed my neck and I was hyperventilating while I pulled my car into a McDonald’s parking lot. I spent the next ? minutes — who knows how long, when every minute is endless? — with my eyes closed, tears streaming down my cheeks, while I tried to catch a full breath.

…and when the panic attack ended, I felt only shame.

Asshole brain didn’t step in and let me recover, it just started kicking me while I was down.  (Asshole brain‘s commentary in ALL CAPS.)

I felt shame that I ‘can’t handle’ modern politics. THIS IS JUST THE WAY IT IS. GET USED TO IT.

Shame that I’m ‘not strong enough’ to exist today. QUIT WHINING, ALREADY, YOU ASSHOLE.

Shame that I’m afraid of the being-rolled-back rights of trans kids, people of color, women, immigrants, and Muslims. OTHER PEOPLE HAVE IT WORSE, YOU KNOW.

Shame that I am having an appropriate, if extreme, emotional reaction to all that which I cannot control. GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER ALREADY.

I tell you this not because I think I’m special for having a panic attack, but because I’ve been taking really, really good care of myself and by my calculations, this shouldn’t have happened. I’ve been sleeping regularly (but not depressed-me-14-hours-a-night-regularly), hydrating daily, and following the no sugar, no dairy nutritional guidelines that help regulate my moods and hormones.

I’ve been unplugging for at least one full 24-hour period each week and strictly limiting social media time. I’ve been reading fiction and enjoying a few HBO shows instead of watching endless reality TV and reading only magazines and rant-y online articles.

In other words, I’ve been practicing what I preach.

Boundaries, more boundaries, and taking care of the basics.  But those actions aren’t enough.

The safeguards that usually make my life a decent and pleasant experience are failing.

Nothing less than impeccable self care will do.

I have to work out regularly. (Yoga on YouTube counts.)

I have to do breath work to help get out the anger and vitriol that comes as part of feeling helpless. The brilliant Erin Telford calls it ‘energetic hygiene.’

I have to spend time outdoors even when it’s cold and/or dark and/or I don’t want to. …and unless the ocean is nearby, I really don’t want to.

You have to do some version of the same work.

You have to find ways to get your body fed, hydrated, strong, and rested while keeping your brain focused on completing the work only you can do.

You also have to walk the razor’s edge between consuming the news and falling into despair.

That’s tricky, since there are screens at every gas pump touting the latest atrocities and screens at the local diner with scrolling headlines along the bottom and a Facebook feed littered with news articles and outrage each time you open it. (Most people aren’t committed to being the human.)

There’s more vitriol than ever in the air, and it’s affecting me.

It’s affecting you, too.

There’s no way to have made it through the last 24 months in the United States without having been touched by politics, by demonstrations, by uncomfortable conversations, by racist/sexist/xenophobic comments that started with “I’m not racist/sexist/xenophobic, but…,” by watching people you thought you knew say inexplicably wretched things or take wretched actions against other people who share a nation with them.

Unprecedented change requires unprecedented self love.

We all know you can’t give me from an empty cup, but I don’t think we realize how empty our collective cups are at this moment.

We are (rightly) scared and outraged when another headline says Jews/Muslims/people of color/women/LGBTQ/immigrants/kids have been targeted today. We are horrified when events beyond our control play out in ways we wouldn’t have chosen for our worst enemies, let alone our fellow citizens.

Fear and anger burn energy like nothing else.

They’re a quick battery drain that leave you feeling hollowed out and absolutely bereft of joy. The behaviors you might have gotten away with in the past — skipping meals, skipping sleep, living on lattes, giving up on workouts, jamming your calendar with clients and saying you’ll catch up ‘someday’ — won’t do anymore.

Not because you’re doing it wrong, but because you’re still a human.  You still have a body with very physical limitations, but new demands are being placed on that body each day.

We are all human, and we are all struggling right now.

We’ve got to take a stand for what we believe in, and also the homes from which our beliefs arise: our own bodies.

That sucks. It sucks to stay home and sleep when you’re tired instead of going on some sort of adventure with your friends. It sucks to eat only truly nutritional foods and say “no” to sugar and to alcohol and to any foods that make your belly hurt. It’s freaking hard to delete your social media apps and spend time offline.

It’s easy to take shitty care of yourself and to worship at the Altar of Busy, but that isn’t what the world needs right now.

“The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.” — David Orr

Let’s go and be the peacemakers and the healers, the restorers and the loversBut first, let’s rest.

Let’s fill our cups and nourish our minds and be fully conscious of the poison we agree to ingest whenever we consume the news or social media at this particular point in history.

Let’s take truly admirable care of ourselves first, and let’s go heal the world second.  It’s the only way to lasting change for any of us.



P.S.  Taking impeccable care of yourself is an everyday act of rebellion.  Here are 50 more.

Aspiring beam of light: an interview with Natalie Moser.

You know how sometimes, you see a person going through something really difficult (like cancer) and think, ‘How is she doing that without losing her shit?’

When I saw that Natalie Moser was diagnosed with cancer, I expected to see endless chemo updates and requests for prayers. Instead, I saw a woman who continued to teach yoga and make art and do the right thing, just without hair when the cancer took it.  The whole thing was simultaneously a very big deal and NBD.


Since the new administration has taken office, Natalie has only gotten more passionate, more intense, and more inwardly gorgeous — she’s basically the living embodiment of the ‘Be the Human‘ philosophy — so I took the time to chat with her one-on-one in this interview for the That’s What She Said podcast.

We talk about her biggest gifts of the past few years, the ongoing challenges in moving toward health while living a full life, how she started to take action in her community, and how the arc of her life has prepared her for this very moment.  (Hint: the arc of your life has prepared you for this very moment, too.)

Listening in to Natalie’s wisdom is like taking a long sip from a cold stream on a summer day.  Enjoy!


P.S.  The top 10 episodes of the That’s What She Said podcast are right here.

50 everyday acts of rebellion.

Rebellion is often portrayed as Princess Leia risking life and limb to sneak around with Death Star plans, but everyday acts of rebellion can help us advance our ideals in a sustainable way.

Rebellion and resistance are often most effective when they keep us sane, happy, and capable of empathy in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. It’s our job to keep our joy, to do our work, and to resist in every small and large way possible. …and if you’re tired and out of energy, start small.

Rebellion can be small, but vital; seemingly insignificant, but capable of moving the needle forward today. Key word: TODAY.

1. Subscribe to a newspaper.
2. Read a book. (One of mine, even!)
3. Get and then use your library card.
4. Buy an album or a record instead of downloading a single from iTunes.
5. Support local music.
6. Boycott homophobic restaurant chains.
7. Register to vote.
8. Run for office.
9. Turn your phone off for the day. (Yes allthewayoff.)
10. Write a poem.
11. Add your representatives to your phone’s Favorites.
12. Actually call your representatives. (I know, introverts, I know.)
13. Make beautiful moments and don’t capture them in any way.
14. Sell art for charity.
15. Meet up with people like you in person.
16. Spend time with the sea.
17. Take notes in the margins.
18. Give up sugar.
19. Or alcohol.
20. Or both.
21. Smile at a stranger.
22. Attend a scholarly lecture.
23. Let out your weird.
24. Let yourself feel what you actually feel instead of pretending you’re fine.
25. Work from home without losing your mind.
26. Make space for your wild.
27. Stand firm.
28. Stop worshiping at the altar of Busy.
29. Gather your people and love them hard.
30. Quit social media for as long as you’d like.
31. Write a love letter.
32. Support your favorite artist, maker, guru, or leader. Likes and thank you’s don’t pay the bills.
33. Be at home with yourself.
34. Fuck. Make love. Both/and.
35. Ask for help.
36. Ask for help, ask for help, ask for help.
37. Make space for what you really want.
38. Give up on the ‘next level.’ It doesn’t exist.
39. Give up on using buzzwords, period.
40. Embrace your spiritual practice.
41. Hang your heart out to dry.
42. Assume people want what you have to offer.
43. Call out your asshole brain for what it is: an asshole.
44. Say your dreams that will not die out loud.
45. Acknowledge the pain of turning yourself down.
46. Ask more questions.
47. Change the tapes.
48. Eat well and hydrate.
49. Rest.
50. Choose love.

Ultimately, being a vital and alive, well-rested human is an act of rebellion.  Whatever you do from there is a bonus.