A few mornigs ago I woke up to a text message I had written to myself in the middle of the night, with only three words—
Most of my life I have been desperate to hear messages like this from anyone who will offer it—teachers, colleagues, clients, coaches, agents, books, therapists, partners, parents, friends, retail associates, Instagram followers, cats.
On baited breath, I wait for the moment in a conversation, book chapter, or hot date, when I finally hear the words--
Keep going, Kimball!
You're doing great. Don't you dare stop.
Better than almost anything, praise and encouragement is an addictive high.
Criticism is a blow from which I take weeks to recover.
There isn't much in between.
But the mysterious, much-needed, midnight text felt like standing on new--and firm—ground.
This past week I received an unkind email containing criticism that I had been obsessing about for days. As I tend to do with even the smallest of less-than-glorious remarks, I started doubting basically every life choice I have ever made. I went to bed frantically searching my kindle for a book that would help me find my way again.
Could I really keep going because no one other than me, tells me to?
I didn't have to wait for a book, institution, or Michelle Obama to tell me thatyes, I actually can?
Have my years of studying how to believe in ourselves actually...worked?
Who are we when we don't need approval to survive?
Who are we when we don't take criticism so effing personally?
- asks my higher self, curiously.
My intuition tells me that the next frontier is about discovering who we are—creatively, in relationships, walking in this world—when strength and encouragement are sourced as equally from within as they are from without—and criticism is simply information.
We listen better when we are not waiting to be affirmed.
We lead better when we take criticism as a sign of our risk-taking and not our personal worth.
We create better when we let go of how it will land and who will like it.
Not that I won't be taken higher when you tell me something lovely; words of affirmation will always be my love language and I am grateful for every single one of them. And I will keep paying attention, however difficult it may be, to feedback and when things aren't landing. Of course my tender heart will hurt a bit when I get an unkind email or mean comment on my Instagram.
But there is something about our devastating-awakening times that are daring me to be stronger than all of it. Daring me to wonder what's possible when external encouragement is a delightful treat instead of a lifeline.
(LIKE THE RELATIONSHIP I'VE ALWAYS ENVISIONED HAVING WITH COFFEE BUT HAVE YET TO ACTUALLY ACHIEVE).
What if our most authentic strength is sourced from within?
What if the world needs us to invoke that strength now, more than ever before?
Here is a poem. If it speaks to something—or someone, in you—I'd love to know.
w a r r i o r
Within you lives a warrior--
may you know her.
When despair feels as comfortable as the couch--
When the voice in your head convinces your heart to power down
And your artist to hang up the sign that says closed for business--
It’s too rough out there
and what difference
do I make, anyway?
May you remember that she lives at the intersection of LOVE and FIERCE
and her google calendar is surprisingly open.
Mighty, focused, determined--
Her energy is boundless and her boundaries, infallible.
She knows fear but does not let it lead.
She sees obstacles as guideposts that say
not--throw the towel in.
She protects the heart
and the tenderest places.
She doesn’t just have your back
She has your whole body.
She doesn't care about likes and retweets
She cares about what you stand for.
When you shout enough she says
we were born for this.
When the fear revokes your voice
and belittles your dreams
she says Sister, I’ve got you--
and suddenly you feel possible again.
When you can’t stop the what ifs
she says aren't you on Instagram?
Less worrier, more of me, please.
WA-rriors can be funny, too.
Within you lives a warrior--
may you know her.
Knowing her is revolution
Knowing her defies what you were taught--
not too big
not too bright
not too bold--
and the code of obedience
you were conditioned to follow.
Knowing her proves the #realfact
that you can be fire
in one same breath.
Within you lives a warrior
who is ready to rise.
I am the secret no one told you about.
Call me every day.
From the angry place--
From the tender place.
Suddenly, you hear a yes from inside your bones.
A yes inextricably your own
An ancient yes that could change the world
if only we each could hear it.
You call her.
You remember that collaboration is better than alone.
You feel the strength you have been taught for centuries to forget.
Nothing can stop us.
you both say at the exact same minute--
and you know this to be true.
Thank you for continuing on, dear ones, wherever you are, even when it feels unbearable.
I won't give up if you won't.
On our most recent Full Moon, I led myself through a DIY moon ritual.
(Stay with me, even if moons aren't your thing ;)
The last few months have felt like a dramatic rollercoaster of feeling fired up and exhausted to the bone—inspired by breathtakingly courageous voices in our national midst—hopeless and crying every day—operatic waves of love for everyone I know + strangers with kind eyes—discovering seismic anger I was trying to pretend wasn't actually there and then realizing I forgot to eat or drink water for hours.
HANDS UP IF ANY OF THIS IS YOU, TOO.
I don’t know how to do moon rituals so I googled it because my off-the-hook Sisterhood tells me the moon can help in challenging times.
I went outside on our porch and lit several candles, some palo santo, and sage.
I filled a bowl of water in the sink downstairs and spilled most of it on the way up the stairs.
I followed some of the directions and made up several new parts.
This is what a DIY Moon ritual looks like when you are a nonlinear duck.
I wrote down things I long to let go of ::
Carrying pain that does not belong to me.
The Patriarchal disease of scarcity and its accompanying symptoms of not ever enough.
Overwhelm & feeling behind.
Hopelessness & exhaustion about the state of our world.
I burned each one and then placed the papers in the water.
I legitimately nearly lit our deck on fire.
I did some uncensored dancing.
I felt very very alive.
I wrote this letter to my warrior.
I am exhausted. Angry. Heartbroken. I am supposed to be a professional enthusiast and right now in this particular moment I cannot locate my enthusiasm. Marianne Williamson says we are living in warrior times and I agree but most days I feel like a tender lamb baby even though I want to feel like wonder woman. And then I go on the internet and feel my nerves and organs on the outside of my body and like nothing we do matters. Today I broke down on my senator’s answering machine and then again to Michael. I am hurting for everyone. It is my job to rise up and I want to be stronger.
Can you help?
My warrior--bless her—has a badass response time and wrote back right away.
I love you.
I am here—with boundless energy.
Summon me daily & let me show you strength you don't yet know.
Your tears are blessings and your anger is fire—(you know this)—both seeds of your deepest courage.
We can handle all of it.
Except the internet.
Stop stewing on the internet.
Don’t wait to feel strong.
Start from the tender place and you will feel me with you.
Stop overthinking, stop scrolling, and do the next brave thing.
Do the next brave thing.
Brave cuts the Tiny Terrorist's BS and shoots straight to the warrior’s heart.
Brave means we act in spite of whether or not we’ve got it perfectly right or know how it will turn out.
Brave means now—not tomorrow.
From the tender place she says.
1. Fall is an excellent time to let go of what is no longer serving you--burdens from the past, toxic relationships, unhelpful patterns of behavior— I am not posing to be an expert on moon rituals (and particularly not the required fire safety), but I do encourage you to take a moment to consider:
What burdens can I let go of? What would I love to set free?
2. If you, too, have been feeling ungrounded or lost in any form, I encourage you to write a letter to your warrior. She’ll probably get right back to you because apparently warriors are good at everythingincluding timely correspondence.
Let me know how it goes ;)
Summoning warriors and DIY moon rituals is apparently an excellent strategy for turning things around.
#TurnThisThingAround—7 days of action beginning THIS Monday October 15th.
I've received messages from many of you about wanting to contribute in this turbulent time while at the same time feeling overwhelmed about how to go about it.
I am moved to hear you asking these questions—I am by no means a seasoned voice on the topic, but I care deeply about what is happening in our world right now.
I compiled resources in this accessible document, and since I have an excellent track record of getting people to do brave things in community, this 7 days is my beginning answer for us.
You can sign-up and learn more HERE, but I will be sending a (short!) daily email, encouraging you to do at least one small but mighty thing a day in service of what you stand for, and then going to do whatever makes your heart sing.
The community dare is to raise our collective vibration and level up our own personal bravery and commitment—without using the patriarchal operating principles of shame, competition, judgment, over-exertion, perfectionism, and guilt.
1. Studies prove shame is not an effective motivating tool, and
2. We cannot dismantle the master's house with the master's tools. Thank you, Audre Lorde.
We will be focused on civic action in America—but those of you in other countries (and I am deeply grateful that you are with us!) are more than welcome to use this structure for turning something around in yourown community.
You can also use the 7 days to focus on turning around any area of your life.
What I can guarantee from years of experience is that when we get focused, courageous and committed in one area of our lives, we uncover a strength that applies directly to the others.
I’ll give you 3 specific ideas a day or you can come up with your own.
Regardless of whether you do the 7 days with us (I hope you do) — here is a google doc with 33 brave and creative action ideas to explore right NOW.
I will also be continuing the conversation and amplifying your work onInstagram.
2 questions for YOU ::
1. Will you take 3 minutes and lovingly share this email and this google docwith 3 (or 300) people in your world who might benefit from it?
2. What is your next brave thing? Find me on Instagram or hit reply to this email to let me know. I read everything you write to me.
If you have been feeling challenged by the myriad of obstacles coming at you this fall, a gentle reminder that breakdowns are the new breakthroughs, and you are stronger than all of it.
I believe in us.
ps // Enjoy this #Turnthisthingaround playlist. It is stylisticallydiverse and I have been listening to it everyday as I do my daily burpees and dance-breaks for the resistance ;)
A letter from a broken/rebuilt woman to a POTUS who has—understatement of the century—lost his way.
Tuesday, October 2nd. The day The President of the United States of America did the unimaginable and mocked a survivor of sexual trauma. Mark this.
From now on there will be a before Tuesday October 2nd and an after Tuesday October 2nd.
When Trump was elected, I decided I would try very hard not to respond to his verbal abuse and disrespect with the same.
That would be fighting the patriarchy with the patriarchy, and that is not how we turn this thing around and take everyone higher as we do.
So I have focused, relentlessly, on refraining from publicly criticizing the man or the administration (of course I’ve occasionally slipped—some days the horror is simply too much), with oppressive hate, name-calling, or slander.
I made a rule that I wouldn’t say his name on my Instagram or post funny memes mocking him.
Not to avoid trolls and mean comments—I already have those!—but refraining from letting my little corner of the world be pulled to such a low and inhuman vibration and isn’t saying his name repeatedly giving him what he wants?
Every time I want to retaliate with finger-pointing, meanness, and scare tactics, I remind myself to refocus the conversation on good people doing human things, how to empower us to keep rising, and how to keep us creative, courageous and sharp in our leadership so we are READY for the new future—the non-patriarchal, non-white supremacist, non-binary, LOVE-fueled brave new world we are building out of this hot f*****g mess.
I believe in this future and I continue to believe in it and I do not believe we are doomed.
Tuesday, October 2nd.
I am descended from Quakers.
Quakers are, by principle, non-violent.
Yet some Quakers (including my ancestors) have made exceptions to use violence when the human rights issue at stake is extraordinary.
My ancestors fought in the civil war because their opposition to slavery was greater than their value of non-violence.
Tuesday, October 2nd.
My opposition to your disregard for humanity, Mr. Trump, is greater than my need to keep things positive.
Let’s be clear—you have not broken me nor any of my sisters and brothers—we will not be broken by a coward like you.
Let’s also be clear—I still will refuse to terrorize, mock, and oppress you in return—the operating principles in our brave new world are rooted in compassion, not hate.
But take this as an official memo that on Tuesday October 2nd, you have crossed me and my sister and brother survivors.
There is nothing stronger than brave humans who have been abused by corrupted power.
And something else happened on Tuesday, October 2nd, Mr. Trump. You revealed to us the depth of your own trauma.
Only someone with their own gaping wounds and unprocessed anger and grief of epic proportions would have been capable of what you did.
You are a predator 1000 times over—DUH—but I think there is something underneath--
I think you, too, are a survivor.
Let me tell you what survivors are doing right now since you seem to have a blind spot (which makes sense—you can't see in us what you can't see in yourself—human pain)
We survivors and allies of survivors are taking the rupture of what happened to us and turning it into brave things.
We are turning it into VOTES and ART and authentic SERVICE to our country.
We are transforming our victimhood into sheroism in real time.
You could do this, too.
The brave thing is not hard.
The brave thing is 8 words long.
The brave thing is non-partisan.
The brave thing does not mean you have to say you believe someone if you don’t believe them.
I see you.
I hear you.
8 of the most powerful words in our language.
Words that can change the course of another human being's life.
I am sorry that no one taught them to you.
8 words that, had they been said by any of your people, would have meant that survivors everywhere would not have spent the last 2 weeks obliterated, broken, and barely able to walk in this world.
(One of the biggest tragedies of the last 2 weeks is the TIME that survivors have had to spend navigating the re-traumatization and simultaneously having to be representatives of the cause—time that COULD have been spent making art, leading teams, and inventing things that will save us.)
To every single sister and brother and survivor who felt the depth of the mockery in their bones—I believe you.
I see you.
I hear you.
I’m sorry you have not heard these words from the people that matter most.
I’m sorry that you have lost time on what you were born to do.
And I am sorry for you, Mr. Trump, that YOUR not hearing those words, at whatever time you most needed to hear them, has cut you off from your own beating heart and human soul.
You have lost your way, and—understatement of the century—you need help.
As for us, we will carry upwards.
We will reclaim the time we have lost.
We are coming for your robotic administration, and we will not stop until humanity is restored.
We know how to do the brave thing.
ps - Now more than ever before ::
Pass it On.
Once upon a time a woman has a desire—
To rise up in her career.
To make something of her own.
To allow herself pleasure.
To love her body.
(Because it is her birthright.
Because she was born to want big.
Because desire is biological and the engine of evolution)
She might say she wants it to a few people, or a lot of people, or maybe nobody.
Maybe she makes a vision board or a list of what she can do to get there. She excitedly buys a motivational book or two, and creates some accountability for herself.
She carries on, but doesn’t feel like she is moving fast enough. Because she has been taught by the Patriarchy that she is never enough no matter what, and that the gap between where she is and where she wants to be is a sign of weakness and inadequacy—instead of an opportunity to enjoy the pleasure of being inside of a desire—she turns to the only toolbox she has been given; the master’s toolbox is not fun but it is familiar.
She tells herself she never deserved what she wanted in the first place, criticizes herself as selfish for wanting anything at all, shames, judges, and feels a debilitating guilt for wanting what she wants and especially that she is too much.
Her desire still burns, and the bigger the burn, the bigger the feelings that arise. Anger and grief erupt like a volcano, but because she has been taught that the parts of herself feeling these emotions are not acceptable, she siphons them off into quiet chambers of her heart, where they decay into resentment, blame, jealousy, crippling overwhelm, depression, and isolation.
She might continue to look at her vision board, or write about her desire in her journal, or put it on her goal list every January 1st, but battling the shame, judgement, resentment, and guilt is a full time job, and she becomes depleted and ready to throw the towel in.
The patriarchy inside of her head wins the olympic gold for being the biggest energy suck around. She definitely needs a nap. Or 100 naps. Instead, she assumes she must not be pushing herself hard enough so tries more, does more, and buys more programs to tell her what to do.
Using the master’s tools, she cannot hear the whispers of her intuition. The master’s toolbox did not include instructions for trusting herself and her voice.
She doesn’t know what to do with her desire that won’t go away and the contradictory and relentless oppression that she feels for having it in the first place, so she overeats, she undereats, she drinks, she packs her schedule, she people pleases, she spends money she doesn’t have, she disassociates, she over-apologizes, she expertly expounds on the particulars of her imposter syndrome and perfectionism to anyone who will listen, she spends hours on the internet doing things she can’t remember, she scrolls through Instagram and feels jealous and then feels bad about feeling jealous, and she puts all of her energy into supporting others and helping them manifest their dreams.
And though she categorizes it as such—not one shred of this behavior is her fault—she is simply walking the path she has been shown since she was a little girl.
One day she wakes up and realizes that the path she has been walking was not made with her expansion in mind.
Someone had forgotten to give her the memo that this path was designed to keep her small.
She senses an ancient knowing that there is something else.
She pauses. She takes a breath. This is scary, she thinks.
She asks for assistance from all of the unseen forces of support to show her the way and to hold her in the process.
Determined to find her path, she ventures out to where can be as big as she was born to be.
(Somewhere, on the other side of the world, a sister woman releases a howl of delight)
Come home my body whispered for 100 years until I finally responded.
Real homecomings are profound but exasperating and not like the movies. Sometimes our reunion is so tender it takes my breath away and some days I think it’s all BS and I long for the fake ease of our old estrangement.
Learning how to have an actual relationship is not the same as #slaying with a hard core workout or a green juice. I tried fixing her but duh everyone knows fixing debilitates relationships.
Then I remembered that nonviolent communication is good for inside relationships too so stop telling her what she is supposed to want and instead just start asking and listening and asking if she has any requests. Not easier but more truthful.
She had been waiting a lifetime to be asked of course so she had a litany: basic respect, an apology, eating breakfast, kindness when looking in the mirror, attending to the pain we have been ignoring for over a decade, to stop being secretly proud when I “forget” to eat, to remember that advertising, the patriarchy, and ballet did not always have our best interest at heart so we will need to collaborate on a new operating system.
Therapist Esther Perel says it is the job of a person who has betrayed a relationship to keep vigil for it.
I am keeping vigil by slowly answering her requests and saying one small apology every day.
My new doctor says the pain I can’t seem to shake is my body’s way of saying the way have been doing things is not working. We have gotten remarkably better but I have to keep up the vigil because forgiveness is not an overnight job.
Who are we without our pain? I ask her.
Trusting each other again, she says.
I love you.
I'm sorry it took me 3 decades to say it.
Please teach us how to stop feeling badly about ourselves when we are not #slaying at #wellness and #selfcare in an #instaworthy way with a lot of perfectly placed #plants in the background. And show us some evidence (hopefully soon) that grace is a more effective strategy than just clicking HERE for the 10-Easy-Steps-to-Success Program That Will Change Your Life. And help us see that having this conversation does not mean we are slacking // failing // not doing enough.
I know you know this but grace and joy are your birthright and you are never not far enough along to deserve them.
I know you know this but non-results oriented wandering and wondering lead to your wonderwork.
I know you know this but cramming the schedule and piling the projects is not a definition of our worth as humans.
What would happen if you lifted one ounce of the pressure off of your sweet heart//to do list?
It is August so what if you said not for now to one or two things that are making you feel like you are carrying a wet blanket and see how the world doesn’t end?
Your intuition has some updates for you so what if you gave yourself 5 minutes or a walk or 1 hour this week to have a reunion with her?
Loosening the grip makes space for grace which is the prerequisite for creative genius and other stuff we want.
I know you know this but it’s more fun to work on closing the gap between our knowing and how we are walking when we do it together. And we can let social media be a place where we trigger our perfectionism or where we remember our wholeness; I propose the latter.
I believe in us and our nonlinear unfolding.
Creativity is a wild mistress.
You light a candle and carve out nice beautiful space and time for her and she decides to just... opt out. You feel like a loser and sit at the table alone and pretend to squeeze out something that is actually nothing and compose social media posts and grocery lists in your head alternatively.
But THEN, on the day the calendar has appointments like It’s Time to Write Very Important Emails and It’s Been a Week Since You Exercised and You Really Have to Sit Through This Meeting Creativity dramatically enters, like Beyoncé at any concert but especially Coachella, inhabiting your full being and body so all-encompassingly and ecstatically that you have no option but to run from the room, like you madly have to pee... or throw up...frantically searching for a container expansive enough for her avalanche, quick enough so that you don’t lose the firebombs she is hurling at you.
She wears a fantastic dress and usually she looks like Frida Kahlo and she hopes you understand, darling, that she is always non-negotiable and she does NOT work around anyone else’s GOOGLE CALENDAR.
Also WHAT are you doing on that silly device? she says.
You know I'm the real fun.
And you do.
Because she is intoxicating.
To our mistresses and their wildness.
A few days before a 2017 special election in New York, I was rushing into a Brooklyn subway station with too many bags strapped across my body and thoughts scuttling around my brain, when a woman handed me a flyer and said:
Hi, I’m Ede Fox. I’m running for City Council.
On auto-pilot, I begrudgingly and awkwardly (no free hands!) took the flyer and hurried down the stairs.
She was Ede Fox? Not a representative for Ede Fox? Not a volunteer on the campaign?
I heard her say it to someone else. Her voice was strong, warm, and unapologetic.
Hi, I’m Ede Fox. I’m running for City Council.
The theme of my quarter one was creativity and process, and instead of starting the year with long lists of goals and habits, I spent the first few months creating a set of intuitive rules / not rules that I want to live into.
Beginning a new year with excessive goal-setting and habit-installing before I have clarity on the quality with which I want to show up and what I want to show up for exacerbates people-pleasing habits and makes me participate in patriarchal structures of achievement that don’t seem to be serving us anymore.
Once upon a time I had a wild idea that my Dad should star in his own show. And then I had a wild idea that maybe I could direct it.
A multi-faceted artist who spent the majority of his career directing and artistic directing opera, my Dad is also an extraordinary singer.
Though he has sung throughout his life, a singing career proved too risky in his earlier years, and when opportunities for leadership positions emerged, he took them so that he could provide more consistently for our family.
Childhood memories revolve around his singing: sitting on the floor of church choir stalls while he sang (cheaper than babysitting), high C’s at the end of every happy birthday (I was embarrassed but secretly proud) late nights banging away duets on our out of tune piano (more fulfilling than high school parties). When I went to see his star turns at summer theaters, I remember looking around at the other audience members and grinning because I had the best secret in the room: I was the daughter of my dad.
Dedicated to my Grandmother, and to all of the women living within each of us.
The incredible Kristine Oller created the video. Click to play above or click here to share with your communities.
With love, deep admiration, and solidarity,
receive My Book of rules // not rules for creating anything