Satisfaction Factor

#24 - Finding Self Expression & Belonging in Writing with Kelly Cutchin

March 09, 2022 Naomi Katz & Sadie Simpson
Satisfaction Factor
#24 - Finding Self Expression & Belonging in Writing with Kelly Cutchin
Show Notes Transcript

This week, we're talking to Kelly Cutchin of Casual Magic Writing. We had the pleasure of talking to Kelly about all things self-expression, including: how diet culture robs us of belonging, how discipline is a tool of oppression, and how writing is a place where everyone fits.

Kelly should’ve been named YELLY because she's never not exclaiming something! She's a writer, writing coach, and founder of the Casual Magic Writing Community, a space where folks gather to express themselves fully and on purpose. Kelly is the unruly broad who sees you exactly as you are while creating a space for you to finally declare who you want to be by telling *all* your stories and showing yourself (and everyone else) exactly who you are. Breaking News, pals: templates for How to Write Well are a scam, and so is the belief that you have to be “talented” to write. You're invited to hang out with Kelly while she bust some myths about who gets to be creative, what it takes to be a writer, and why you’re way more creative than you think.

You can find learn more about Kelly and Casual Magic Writing on Instagram @kelly.m.cutchin and @casualmagicwriting, and on her website casualmagicwriting.com.

You can stay up to date on all things Satisfaction Factor by following us on IG @satisfactionfactorpod!

Here's where to find us:
Sadie Simpson: www.sadiesimpson.com or IG @thesadiesimpson
Naomi Katz: www.happyshapes.co or IG @happyshapesnaomi

For this episode's transcript, visit: www.satisfactionfactorpod.com

Naomi Katz:

Welcome to Satisfaction Factor, the podcast where we explore how ditching diet culture makes our whole lives more satisfying Welcome back to Satisfaction Factor. I'm Naomi Katz, an Intuitive Eating, body image, and self trust coach providing anti diet support to free thinking grownups who want to reclaim their autonomy and consent from diet culture.

Sadie Simpson:

I'm Sadie Simpson, an anti diet group fitness instructor and Intuitive Eating counselor, and I help other fitness professionals disengage from diet culture, so they can improve program enrollment, engagement, impact, and retention without shame and manipulation.

Naomi Katz:

So today, we had the pleasure of talking to one of my favorite people on the whole internet, Kelly Cutchin. Kelly should have been named yelly because she's never not exclaiming something. Side note- getting DMs from Kelly in all caps feels like an actual hug via the internet.

Sadie Simpson:

I love that.

Naomi Katz:

She is a writer, writing coach, and founder of the Casual Magic Writing Community, a space where folks gather to express themselves fully and on purpose. Kelly is the unruly broad who sees you exactly as you are, while creating a space for you to finally declare who you want to be by telling all your stories and showing yourself and everyone else exactly who you are. She wants everyone to know that templates for how to write well are a scam, and so is the belief that you have to be talented to write. And she'd love if you'd come hang out with her while she busts some myths about who gets to be creative, what it takes to be a writer, and why you're way more creative than you think.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes. We had an amazing conversation with Kelly all about self expression in all its forms, how diet culture tries to silence our voices, and how writing can be a space for healing. And I'm really excited for everybody to listen to this because it's so good.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah, I feel like that description doesn't even really do this conversation justice.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

So without further ado, let's talk to Kelly. Kelly Cutchin!

Kelly Cutchin:

Hello!

Naomi Katz:

Thank you so much for being here with us!

Kelly Cutchin:

Thank you so much for having me.

Naomi Katz:

I personally am incredibly excited about having this conversation because I feel like you and I have been talking in DMS for a while now, and I just am so excited to have the opportunity to speak to you in real life.

Kelly Cutchin:

Yeah, me too. It is- so I love the internet. I love the internet very much because of how easy it is to connect with people in these ways that don't seem like- like Instagram doesn't seem like an intimate place. It doesn't seem- you know, there are a bajillion people there. But there are moments when you connect to somebody on this just very clear, intimate level, especially when we're talking about bodies and we're talking about self expression. I mean, that's- it's so major. And so thank you to- thank you, internet, for this.

Naomi Katz:

Thank you, internet.

Kelly Cutchin:

It's not sponsored by the internet.

Naomi Katz:

I mean, it's like slightly sponsored by the internet.

Kelly Cutchin:

Right.

Sadie Simpson:

We don't get a royalty from the internet, though.

Kelly Cutchin:

If only.

Naomi Katz:

Okay, well, so let's dive in. So to start with, can you tell us a little bit about what your own experience with diet culture has been?

Kelly Cutchin:

Ooh-hoo.

Naomi Katz:

I know. It's a real big question.

Kelly Cutchin:

Sure. I have been on any and every kind of possible diet that you could ever be on, from a very young age. That is, I was very much a child. The first- the first recollection I have of my body is- is not a good one. I came from and come from a long line of people who do not like their bodies. And- and I understand why. They have all of this external information that tells them that they shouldn't, and I understand it. And also, you can't help but kind of wonder what kind of childhood you maybe would have had, or what kind of person you could have been, had you not gone down this path- and what kind of relationship you could have with your body and with yourself. But I was on any and every diet from a very young age. I remember being aware of my physical body, especially in department stores, because I have an older sister- she's four years older than me- and weight is- was never a thing that she struggled with. She- meaning- meaning she was genetically predisposed to not have to have a body that looked like mine or my mother's. So in department stores, we would have to shop in different ones. I mean, my mom would have to make separate trips. Because only- I can't remember if it was Sears, or JC Penney, or what it was, but they had a pretty plus section. It was in the kids section, and it was called pretty plus. And it was just this like dimly lit little corner of the store. And- and that's where everything was. And everything was way more expensive. And those were just your options. There was no, do you want a dress with flowers, do you want jeans. It was, this is what you're wearing. So I learned that my body was like a task, or like a liability. It took extra time, and energy, and money. And it- I regarded it from a very young age as a liability, as a thing to be apologized for, or as a thing to be like compensated for in other behaviors. So I was really good in school. I was great in school. I was so obedient because I wanted to show people, like I get it. I know what rules you're trying to make me follow, I am compliant, I can do this, and I'll be super smart. And also was very funny, which I'm grateful for now. I'm grateful for my sense of humor, but I don't love the origins of it. But it's almost as if I felt, if I'm going to be fat, then I have to compensate for it in other ways that people find- like my fat has a purpose. Like my body- the fatness has a purpose. So it's made me funnier. So hooray. Or it's made me smarter, or it's made me whatever. In my adulthood- so I was fat for the longest time. I'm currently fat, hooray. And I have a very different relationship with my body now than I used to. I did deal with some medical issues over a span of time that caused quite a bit of weight loss, and also went through my first major depression as an adult. And that also contributed in this way that was haunting. Because the way that people consumed my body was wild to me. I remember posting a picture of myself because you- you had to, I guess- or I felt compelled to like perform being a person because I was skinny. Right? Like I did the impossible thing- I got skinny. So I felt like I needed to like participate and show people, look I'm still here, I did a great job, I did a great job. And there's this picture of me, and my collarbones were so pronounced in this way that I had never seen before. And the number of people who commented on it, the number of people who- and it was kind of- I mean, there was a part of it, me wanting that. And also, having been on the internet for a long time now, it doesn't matter if you want to interact, people are going to feel entitled to consume your body and make sense of it however they'd like.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah.

Kelly Cutchin:

But it was wild to me, during that period of weight loss, how existing in public was different. Like being in the checkout line? Wild.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah.

Kelly Cutchin:

People want to talk to you more when you're

Naomi Katz:

Yeah. thin.

Kelly Cutchin:

People are so excited. They're so excited. They're like, hooray, a fellow thin, who is- who is compliant, and obedient, and isn't going to make me examine my relationship to food, body, white supremacy, any of that. And now- now I am currently a fat person. I've been fat more in my life than I have been not. And yeah, I have a very different relationship to my body now, which is kind of great.

Naomi Katz:

Absolutely. I mean, that's- that's huge. Thank you so much for sharing all of that.

Kelly Cutchin:

Sure.

Naomi Katz:

I think one of the things that really stood out to me that's so interesting, that, you know, obviously, I think a lot about lack of inclusion in fashion and, you know, clothing accessibility and stuff like that. That's definitely something that I think about a lot. We've certainly talked about it on the podcast before. But, you know, having been a child in a smaller body, I- it never really clicked for me that kids are learning things about their bodies because that lack of inclusion includes children. And like, that just- this is the first time that that thought actively occurred to me, and I really really appreciate you offering that perspective. Because, wow. The importance of that just cannot be overstated.

Kelly Cutchin:

I will say it is wild to me to look back- my relationship with my- with my family is awesome. It's great. It's wonderful. Like I kind of have to give that- that caveat, that like, we're okay. The lack of resources and the lack of conversation surrounding how to support a child- that- it's- that's a whole thing. What I remember most is just feeling such immense guilt for being high maintenance, and feeling like there was- like my parents had no other- my mom had no other choice but to- in her mind- but to do these things. But to put me on diets. But to, you know, put me in adult step- step aerobics classes. Because everybody is looking at me as evidence of how she is doing as a parent. So you see that my mother has a fat child- and one isn't, too, so that's a whole nother thing. I am- you know, they look at me and think she is doing a terrible job. And also my mother struggles with her weight. And that's me saying- like, those are her words, those are not mine. Those are hers. And the way that they made sense of her as a parent- just- it's devastating to think of now as an adult.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah.

Kelly Cutchin:

What support did she have? Who could she talk to about- about any of this? And how could she defend herself? How could she say, no, I'm doing a great job? I mean, hooray that I did well in school, because otherwise, I don't know what would have happened for her.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah.

Sadie Simpson:

Oh, my gosh. Yeah. Well, I think, even now, we have so many more resources as parents to be able to support our kids, thanks again to the internet. But growing up in the 80s, and 90s, and our parents did not have those resources. And I don't know, this is a weird thing for me to kind of wrestle with too, because I don't want to say that's like an excuse- you know, quote unquote, excuses, or whatever. But there was no support there, there was no education, there was no other way other than putting your kid on Weight Watchers or, you know, doing workout videos with your child in hopes that, you know, they are not going to be bullied in school. And it's just- gosh, like, I don't know, growing up in, again, in the 80s and 90s, was a different time.

Kelly Cutchin:

Yeah. And the way that belonging gets withheld from you as a child- so you don't- people- especially- oh my gosh, this was- I think last year this discussion finally came up, or I saw it more in the mainstream, about how people tend to treat fat children as adults. I mean, they- they treat fat children as actual adults, and especially with- if you're also a taller person, same thing happens. But I mean, it just- to think about how belonging was withheld from me and my mother, because if she didn't- she couldn't herself belong, because she's fat. So she's already seen as non compliant, and lazy, and all these things. And then belonging to groups of parents was withheld from her too. She could try- like she could try because she had my sister, and my sister is a thin person, but belonging keeps being withheld from you. And then you're further isolated, with further resources, no support. I mean, whew, it's no wonder at that point that- I mean, I'm sure back then the diet industry was whatever billions of billions of dollars it was then- but it's no wonder. It- I mean, hating your body isolates you. It- hating your body keeps- it keeps you in this terrible loop. But gosh, just the way that it isolated she and I- it- it's devastating to think of now as an adult.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah, I love that you keep referring to belonging as something specific that was sort of withheld from you and from your mother in fat bodies. Because again, I think there's so much that we talk about regularly about weight stigma, and discrimination, and things like that, but belonging is something really specific and really human that is so important that- missing out on something as basic as belonging is, I think, something that's a lot harder for people to understand, and yet also a lot more, or at least equally as damaging as some of the more obvious forms of discrimination and stigma.

Kelly Cutchin:

Yeah. Like, so go going back to clothing as a child, one of the rites of passage of like being a young girl for me was like swapping clothes with your friends. Could not do that. Going shopping, like going to the mall or going anywhere, I could only get earrings or necklaces- like that- I couldn't do that. Going to pool parties, going to the beach, where you're made incredibly aware of your body and how it exists among other bodies. Like, there are things that you just- jumping on a trampoline- you know, like things that we see is like innocent childhood activities. I was so very aware of what was not going to be available to me, and what the consequence was, if I try- like, so if I tried to go shopping with my friends, what that consequence was going to be for me- like the emotional toll it was gonna take to watch them go try on all these clothes that I can't- like, I just can't.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah.

Kelly Cutchin:

And so then you kind of become the emotional support person of the group of friends, and, you know, hype everybody up about how great they look in all these clothes. And you're just- I mean, you just don't get a lot of these things.

Naomi Katz:

I feel like I can very much relate to that. Like I- I grew up in a Jewish family, and we kept kosher. And so there were like just certain things that were just very different, that like I couldn't participate in that my friends maybe did. But the difference is, if I wanted to, could not keep kosher at my friend's house. I could like just not obey the rules, when I went certain places and didn't want to feel that kind of isolation. Whereas something like this is my body is not something you can leave behind. And yet, even with the ability to shape shift, if necessary, I still definitely had those feelings of like isolation. I think we underestimate what that kind of isolation does to kids. And I mean, you know, I spent most of my life really distancing myself from my Jewish heritage, because it felt like something that kept me separate. And I'm wondering, you know, whether that's something that you felt that you to some extent did yourself, as you got older- that you, essentially, were trying to distance yourself from like a- from your body, from like a fat identity, or anything like that?

Kelly Cutchin:

Oh, yeah. Let's talk about when I had lost this amount of weight for a number of reasons that weren't within my control- um not all of them were. I remember being- that's when I started becoming interested in thinking, and unpacking, and processing all of the time of my life that I had been fat. Because it was- at that point, it's like, the house is no longer on fire, so I can kind of go back and see what's happening. Unpacking and talking about being fat, while also being fat at the same time, is a whole lot, especially when you exist in public spaces where people consume your image and consume your body. But I- I got really interested in, oh wow, so I was- I was once fat, it's possible that I will be fat again, I don't know what this means to me. And I remember the way that I presented myself to people, and how I talked about myself, and how I kind of painted the story of the weight loss after the fact as this, I don't recognize this person. I mean, fully that I can recall a Facebook post, back when Facebook was kind of all you had, where it was- I did a before and after. And ooh, does that just make me ill now to think about. But I did this before and after to kind of demonstrate to people, I'm never going back there. I'm- I don't even recognize this person. And- and at the same time, internally- so I'm presenting one way to people, and saying, look at me now, I've succeeded, aren't you proud of me? And then behind closed doors, I'm doing research on like fat rhetorics, and like, what does it mean to be a rad fatty, and like- because that concept was really new to me- or to be a bad fat, and trying to make sense of all of the stuff while I'm thin. I was, for me, quite thin. And I don't- it's- it's wild to think about now because all I- all I presented to people was the success story. Like I painted it like this success story. Because for so long, it made me look like I had agency. It made me look like I decided this. Because up until that, like I decided 0% about my genetic makeup. I just, I didn't get a say so. You know?

Naomi Katz:

Yeah.

Kelly Cutchin:

And people just assumed what they assumed about it. And this- it felt like an opportunity for me to really say like, no, if you just work hard enough, and if you really- it gave me an opportunity to kind of like take control of the narrative people were painting onto me. Which is not something I have thought about in a long time. Oh, wow. I'm gonna need to write about that.

Naomi Katz:

Well, so it's so interesting because, as I was, you know, reading through your website, and your blogs, and stuff, one of the themes- and, of course, your Instagram content- and one- one of the themes that you bring up over and over and over again, in terms of writing, is this ability to tell the world exactly who you are, and to like be your authentic self in the way you write, and, you know, let go of rules and just present your true self to the world through your writing and stuff. And so it's so interesting to hear that, like, there was a time that that was very much the opposite for you. And I'm wondering if you can sort of speak a little bit to that- how that transition happened for you.

Kelly Cutchin:

It feels like, at that time, I was also moving- so I had gotten a new job. And it was in a rural area- what you would- like, politely, you would call politically conservative, but what we'll all just call, like, just Republican, white supremacist- just a mecca. Not- obviously not everyone. But I was trying to learn how to fit into that space, and figure out how to do a good job. And at that point in my life- this is me fresh out of that episode- that first major depressive episode as an adult. And so anything that felt like a routine, anything that felt like, there are clear rules and expectations, I was going for it. Because I just needed to feel like I could do a good job. And there are so many rules and expectations with diet culture, there's so many rules and expectations with working at a college. People expect you to present a certain way and act a certain way. So I put myself in a situation where that is- I had nothing but rules, and nothing but, for me, opportunities to- to fit, and opportunities to belong, in terms of what I looked like, what I said, just how I was. And it took a fair bit- a fair bit, like that's a scientific measurement- of therapy. And also, I had started weightlifting. I just- it changed- it helped change my relationship to my body in a lot of really, really cool ways. But like the- the kinds of people that you would meet there in the weight room were just- like, there are all kinds of kinds, and everybody is just doing what they're doing. And not a whole lot about what you look like mattered. In those spaces- I can't speak for all spaces- but in that space in particular, it just didn't matter as much. And then I started to be able to look at my body as like- I didn't- I didn't look at it with that deficit model. I started looking at it like, oh my gosh, my arms can bench this amount, my legs can do whatever. And just that kind of reframe- what that provided for me, and then- and then all of that wonderful therapy, I think I found another- another kind of community that was in like direct opposition to the college and to all this other stuff. Because all the- and these people in the weight room, and these people at competitions, have all kinds of jobs, and do all kinds of things, and they seem super happy. And I was like, oh, I thought only the- only the thins got to be happy. And I thought that was just reserved for some people. And everybody else was just weird. Turns out I like weird. Weird speaks to me on some level. But it was- it was getting- like hitting some kind of a critical mass of like, this thing, this one environment, what it was promising me it wasn't giving me. I wasn't happy. But this other one, where I could kind of be as weird as I was, was giving me that. And so it just- I think I let my weird kind of leak out slowly over time. just to kind of see how tenable it was gonna be, to be- I mean, now we're full tilt. It's hard to kind of remember how I started to like let it out a little bit at work, but it was just- it was wild to me that this thing that like fitness and diet culture promised me, I got from like the exact opposite.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah.

Kelly Cutchin:

And it let me just- it let me just exist without expectation.

Sadie Simpson:

Oh, my God. Yes. Like I think that is so relatable for so many people. I mean, Naomi and I have had this conversation too- strength training and weightlifting was a big catalyst for both of us to kind of emerge out of diet culture and diet culture behaviors. But the more and more conversations I'm having with people who have been just so immersed in the opposite, in the focus on the shrinking versus the growing, and the building, and the strengthening- it's just wild like how much that's such a common thread for so many people to like break free from this stuff.

Kelly Cutchin:

Yeah. And I thought- like, I thought that it was gonna be this environment full of discipline. And- and I'm not saying that- that there aren't those folks out there. I got so lucky, in that the- like the first gym that I had any experience with, I mean, it wasn't about- it wasn't trading one discipline for another. And I- like I just could not have been luckier in that way.

Naomi Katz:

Since you said the word, one of the things that I really wanted to talk to you about was your relationship to discipline, and how that plays out in your writing, and the way you coach writing, and all of that stuff, because I love reading what your thoughts are on this, and I would just love to hear you expand on- and just pontificate on discipline for

Kelly Cutchin:

Sure. Oh, yeah. So I mean, everybody gets to us, basically. have their own relationship with those words. You can- everybody can feel however they want to feel about discipline. If that's- if that feels productive for you, if you're looking to be productive, and discipline gives you that, cool. I will say, given what I've told you about having all of these rules, and instructions, and very tight boxes that were very clear to me from a young age, discipline always felt- and still to this day feels like- there is a person above me who is handing down these rules for being and doing because they know something I don't, or they've achieved some level of success in the thing that you're trying to do, and they're just looking out for you. And discipline, to me- like the way that it was sold to me, and the way that I experienced it, was, everybody else knows better, you just have to keep showing up and doing and doing and doing. It feels like that very- that attitude about like not quitting a thing. If the thing sucks fucking quit the thing. Like if the thing sucks. And what I felt like didn't happen with discipline is, you don't even know what I'm working toward. Like, notice at the beginning of this discussion, I said, if you're looking to be productive, and discipline gives you that. But if you don't know- if I don't know what I'm looking to try to do, then then how is discipline helping me? There are a lot of folks who want to write better, write more, write whatever- they're looking for something. But if you don't know what that thing is, discipline will just promise you whatever the fuck that it wants to promise you. It'll just keep you on the conveyor belt longer. It'll keep you doing whatever somebody else has decided longer.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah.

Kelly Cutchin:

And I just feel like discipline just feels uninterrogated to me, and it feels like it has nothing to do with whatever I'm trying to do. I mean, if you don't know what I'm trying to do, how can you help me? What?

Naomi Katz:

Absolutely. I feel very similarly about the word accountability.

Kelly Cutchin:

Argh.

Naomi Katz:

Which, you know, again, I understand that that's a word that people relate to sometimes. I also think it's worth, like you said, interrogating why it's a word that we relate to. Like, where did we learn that this was the word for what we want. And I also think that a lot of times, when people do interrogate it, what they find is that they don't really want accountability, they want connection, they want support, they want, you know, guidance, sometimes even, but that's not the same thing as like instruction. And I just, you know, these things, I feel like, go hand in hand. And, you know, we learn the ideas of discipline and accountability in places like white supremacy, and diet culture, and stuff like that. So yeah, I love- I love the idea of interrogating these things that we just gravitate towards without ever really knowing why this is the thing that we feel like we need in our lives.

Kelly Cutchin:

Yeah, once- I feel like you hit a point, once you start doing- once you start kind of peeling back the layers of a thing- especially, I mean, a lot of the shit of my life, the things that I've really had to work to unlearn, it's rooted in white supremacy. So just assume that white supremacy is touching all of it, just assume that that's a thread in everything. And once you start, oh, you just can't stop, which is great. And also, it does require you to then decide what you're going to- so you have to divest actively, repeatedly, daily, and then you have to decide what it is that- because it likes to tell you what you're going to do, how you're going to do it. Well, what do- what do you want to do? I mean, it fundamentally mistrusts and dehumanizes all of us, so then you have to work on trusting and humanizing yourself, which is a whole thing that I did not get a course in as a child, as a young adult, and now as an older adult.

Naomi Katz:

You end up doing a lot of figuring out- figuring that out by trial and error yourself as a as an older adult, that's for sure.

Kelly Cutchin:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

So through this whole experience of peeling back the layers, and letting go of discipline, and reconnecting with your weird, and, you know, things like that, what role do you feel like writing played in all of that for you?

Kelly Cutchin:

Oh. Writing- so I have always been a person who turns to writing for any number of things. I felt like, from a young age, it was just a place that I could go and figure out what I was thinking or how I was feeling. Conversations around feelings, and it's okay to feel- like that was just not available to me as a young person. So it was just a place that I could go and put some stuff down, move it around, and see- see what I saw. It- it helped me also put a thing down, instead of keeping it in my head forever, and kind of letting it- letting the weight of it dictate how I was moving in the world or not moving in the world. So from a young age, I wrote, journals, diaries, I wrote poems about like Christmas trees, just because at some point, then it became entertaining. Because I learned, oh, okay, so I have to- I can do it for me. So I can write about my feelings and kind of check in with myself. And also, people like reading this. Oh, cool. And so it kind of became another way to entertain people. And eventually, it would become a way to kind of tell people how I would like for them to make sense of me. Like, here are all the things that I think are really important for you to know, I'm going to put them right here, and you just- you take your time, do whatever you need to do. Eventually- I was always good at writing, meaning I got good grades in English. And it wasn't until- gosh, it was- it was probably end of undergrad, beginning of grad school, when I finally started taking- doing anything creative, like creative writing courses. I thought for a long time, the purpose of writing was to just answer the questions, get the assignment, do the thing. It was like a means to an end for a little while. Because enter discipline, the discipline of college, the discipline of grad school, where it's all about what you're producing, and are you following the rules. And it wasn't until later that I took any kind of creative writing course, or read like personal essay, or memoir, or any of that kind of stuff. And realized, oh, remember, remember when you were little, and this was a place you could go? Like writing became a place. It was a tool, and it was also a place that you could go and be. You don't have to answer to anybody, you can just do the things you'd like to do. It's a great- it was the place, and is the place, that I go to figure out what it is I do want. Because once you divest from white supremacy, and discipline, and diet culture, and all this stuff, you've got to figure out what the hell you want to do. And I'm sorry, there are not many opportunities that exist in the world, just like in the wild, for you to- that are like, hey, how are you doing? What would you like to do?

Naomi Katz:

Yeah.

Kelly Cutchin:

Because it's mostly, we want to sell you shit. Here, come and get on this conveyor belt. Join- join this MLM. And you'll have, you know, 2 million friends and all. It was a place where I could go to- to figure out what it is I want, and how I want to feel about myself, or how I do feel about myself, and how far away from how I want to feel is that it? I mean, you could just do anything. And it didn't matter how heavy the subject was, it can all fit there. Everything fits there. With like, fitting as a big- is a big thing for me, you know, as a- as a fat person. Like, where can I fit? And where- where will I not feel like too much? And you never- to me, I never feel like too much in writing.

Naomi Katz:

That is so powerful. I literally have goosebumps right now. I think you should know that. First of all, I love the idea of thinking of writing as a place. As a- as a former English major- -I really, really relate to that. Like that- it-

Kelly Cutchin:

Aw- it resonates with me a whole lot. And also, even moreso, the idea of a place where you always fit, as a person who doesn't always fit in the world. That's just- I don't- I just- goosebumps. That's literally all I can say about that. That's Mm-hmm. amazing. There are so many places in this world that people

Naomi Katz:

And I feel like that's a really- you know, who aren't one specific way don't fit. And so, I mean, I can see how especially writing being the place that fits also means that you always have the power to create your own place where coming back to that idea of agency- that that's like a really big thing, is that you have agency in that. you fit.

Kelly Cutchin:

Yeah, and nobody is watching to make sure you're doing a good job. And nobody's saying, okay, well, here's the rubric requirements for this essay. There's nobody there. There's nobody else there. And so sometimes I've avoided writing for extended periods of time, because there's nobody else there. Because when I go and sit down to write, just the truth is there. It's in what I do say, what I don't say, what words that I use. It's all in there. And it is amazing to me, working with people now, both in the writing community, and, you know, one on one clients, everybody- we all tell on ourselves in writing. All- it is always in there, all of it, especially in terms of like, what words you do and don't use. Like, do you use- what words don't you use when you're writing and nobody's going to see it? Like, no one's going to see it? And there are things that you probably don't say. Why?

Naomi Katz:

Can you expand on that a little bit? Like what kinds of words?

Kelly Cutchin:

Sure. So I just recently started writing about my anger and writing in angry places- like when I'm in an angry state of mind where I'm experiencing anger. Because anger was not an emotion I really got to have available to me as a young person. And anger is- especially in women- is disciplined- people hate it, people hate angry women. It's almost like you should just be grateful we let you live, than to express that you're- that you're angry about something that has occurred. And I wouldn't write from an angry place or about a thing that I was angry about because I didn't think that I got to- I got to have anger. Because to me, growing up, if you were angry, or if you were sad, you were done, you were ungrateful. And like any kind of a negative- I'm using air quotes- any kind of a negative emotion meant you were ungrateful. You were just supposed to be happy or asleep. Those are the two things available to you. It

Naomi Katz:

Yeah. wasn't until recently that I was looking through journals, I was looking through poems, and essays, and all the stuff that I've written, and there was nothing in there about me being angry. Or if I was angry, or a point in an essay, I would skip over it- like I would just kind of gloss. I would acknowledge- like I would nod to it- and then I would just move on and try to distract you with something else. But you- who is you? Nobody else was reading it. Like nobody else is reading it. Anything that's uncomfortable, you'll likely avoid. Anything that feels too big, when you start to express too many emotions at once, oh then you'll probably stop because you're like, oh, it won't make any sense. You just- you're so messy, you just don't make any sense to anybody. It's the way that I feel like a lot of girls are socialized to- to not be silly, to not be too much, to not be any of those things. And when you're left to your own devices in writing, you're going to see. I mean, most of us see all the things that you're avoiding, and the stuff that scares you. Looking at the things we don't want to look at is just so- like, we all need to be doing that in a lot of ways, on a lot of layers, on a lot of levels. And yeah, I just- the idea of writing as a place where you can do that is just wonderful. How do you see this playing out with the folks that you work with- this exploration, this peeling back of layers, this letting go of discipline, and figuring out what they really want. How does that show up? And how do you sort of support them through that?

Kelly Cutchin:

Oh, sure. The- the way that it- it's always very- it's beautiful in a lot of ways how it shows up. Because we've all- and I was- I say we all to mean people who went through- I went through the public education system, and I went straight from high school to college to grad school. And lots of folks did not write outside of what was required. And writing- like the reason that you wrote- was to get graded, so that you could pass class and get out, and do whatever you needed to do. So like writing was a thing- like a means to an end, and also stayed in school, and stayed in the institution. So most folks, when they come- like if you just come to Casual Magic, you have- a writing session- you'll likely, if I ask you a question, or there's a certain prompt and you choose it, you're- likely what you're going to do first is write how you think you're supposed to write that thing. You're going to write how you think somebody is going to want to read it. So in your mind there's already a reader, there's already an audience, they're judging your grammar, they're judging your subject verb agreement, they're judging if your story has a beginning, middle and end. I mean, there's already somebody in there, but it's like a bunch of somebodies in there. And you're going to- you're going to perform the thing you think you're supposed to do. And through a lot of discussion- and you'll- because I think, our space- I'm referring to the whole community of Casual Magic, and all of the different people who are in there- because our space is very much there all kinds of kinds, once you start hearing other people share, you're like, oh, my gosh, I want that. I want to write something like that. And you hear it. Anytime somebody is like exploring something, or really expressing something from like their gut, you hear it. It sounds different. It's got a different pitch, a different volume, a different everything. And you start wondering, okay, why am I only writing like this? Or why do I think this is all there is? And what is it? What does that person have? And this can- where a lot of the support comes in first is, you're going to compare yourself to other people. That's just natural. It's a natural thing that we do. And also, what somebody else is doing, is what they're doing. It's not competition. It's really just like an invitation for you to figure out what that thing is for you. Because you don't know yet. And that's also very scary. Like you don't know. You don't even know what you want to write about, oh, God. And you start sweating- if you're me, I'm always sweating about something. You start panicking, because, oh, everybody else has their thing, and I don't have my thing, and I don't even know what I mean, or what stories I want to tell, or what words I want to use. And you obviously feel cheated too. You feel cheated that you bought into this system, and that you- that you were compliant and obedient, and all you got was- you know, for me, a fuck ton of student loan debt, and a lot of- just a lot of other issues. But you start comparing yourself to other people, a lot of support comes in there. You start panicking and feeling really angry, and that's a really fun place for people to write from. When you start realizing all of the stuff that you've done, that isn't really even about you, or really for your own benefit, that's a really beautiful place to come from, because you're also a little panicked- like, oh my gosh, who could I have been? Could I have been an amazing novelist, but I just had to write stupid five paragraph essays about The Great Gatsby? I mean, don't get me wrong, people love that book. Congratulations. It's fine. It's fine. And also, like there- there's nobody in those institutions either that's saying things like, yeah, these other people like this, it's- it's fine. You don't get to disagree, you don't get to have your own opinion. So there's a lot of like, really early stages- like we all kind of walk around you with these little like, oh, no, it's okay, it's fine, it's fine. Because everything that you try is gonna feel like- it's gonna feel weird, it's gonna feel wonky, you're gonna feel kind of silly doing it. And that's just kind of the only way. The only way I figured out how to sound like me is to try a bunch of stuff out and see what feels good. And the point is, you don't know what feels good yet. And that's the thing that's gonna keep you going.

Sadie Simpson:

Well, I'm having- like coming from a former English teacher, too- I'm having like flashbacks of like assigning Great Gatsby five paragraph essays.

Kelly Cutchin:

Same. I did it too. I did it too.

Sadie Simpson:

But it's interesting, like even hearing you say all this, I've got some- some people who are very close to me, who are- who are high school English teachers. And they teach some of the older kids, like some of the seniors, and have a little bit of autonomy in their curriculum. So they teach some more like creative writing and things like that. And I'm already thinking, I'm like, I have to send them this episode, they have to listen to this. Because even to be able to have just ideas and input as an adult who is influencing an 18 year old, 17, 16 year old- like to be able to give them a little bit of freedom, and a little bit of exploration, from even a younger age, to be able to experience some writing that's kind of outside the box- like that could be- that could change somebody's like trajectory of their life.

Naomi Katz:

Totally.

Kelly Cutchin:

Yeah. I mean, and I'm not- I need to be super clear- I am implicated in all of this. I taught in in high school, middle school, and higher ed for the- the- most of my career is in higher ed. And your job- I mean, depending on the institution and depending on any number of factors- but it's to socialize people into writing a certain way to demonstrate that they're some kind of level of competent. And it's wild just how oppressive, ableist, racist, class elitist- how wild it is. And I've done all of those things, anything that I'm talking about now being necessarily like bad, I have done all of it. And there are other ways. You know what I mean? Like, once you become aware of the- of the damage that you're doing, the more decisions you make to continue doing it. And also, I can't speak for everybody. Like, I understand money is money is money, and like, trying to find a job is a whole thing. I understand that too. And also, there are ways to show people that other things are possible. Like, there just- there are ways to do it that don't penalize people for being who they are.

Sadie Simpson:

Mm hmm.

Naomi Katz:

It's so interesting. One of the things we see in diet culture- and we see studies on this- is how self silencing is very much related to how we are able to- like- to like eating habits and things like that. So if- the better we are at expressing our emotions, the more likely we are to have non diet type healthy eating patterns. So when I say we have healthy eating patterns, I'm not talking about like, oh, we eat all the fruits of vegetables, but like, we eat enough, we nourish ourselves, we, you know, eat in a healthy way, not framed by diet culture. And so it's- it's so like, cool and interesting to see the parallel between, like, how we can take that- like, how- to see how self silencing shows up in more than one way in our lives. And how something like writing can be a way to access the emotions that we've been self silencing all this time. And that that can maybe be a path to letting go of some other things.

Kelly Cutchin:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

And to healing ourselves generally.

Kelly Cutchin:

Yeah, I think- oh, I love the term self

Naomi Katz:

Yeah. silencing. It's- because I sometimes use policing and I hate- I hate that word. But yeah, because I don't blame the person for- for the silencing. You know, like, you can't blame the person for being and doing. Anytime that I have stopped writing, or stopped using writing, I have always been afraid that it- like the words will be gone. Like, I will have nothing to say, and that everything will disappear- like it'll all disappear. Anything I've ever felt good about writing, I won't be able to recreate it. And like, honestly, first of all, no. It's just like, they don't leave- nothing leaves. Your words don't leave you. Your voice never leaves you. Who you are never leaves. Yes, things can adapt. Yes, you can change it. And I used to just be so afraid. And I feel like diet culture does that to us, too. It makes you really

Kelly Cutchin:

And you're always going to- you're always going to afraid of what's going to happen when you're not compliant in some way. But like the words just don't leave. Stuff doesn't leave you. find them. And you'll make new ones too.

Naomi Katz:

I love that. Again, taking the scarcity mindset out of it all, which is another like hallmark of diet culture, and so many other systems.

Kelly Cutchin:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

Amazing. Well, Kelly, I would love to talk to you for literally like the rest of the week.

Kelly Cutchin:

Forever.

Naomi Katz:

Yep, just forever and ever. Let's just talk. But I guess we have to keep this to a reasonable length.

Kelly Cutchin:

I mean, define reason.

Naomi Katz:

I mean, this is a really good point. Speaking of words, what does reason even mean? So before we- before we get to our closing question, tell us about how people can find you, how they can work with you, tell everybody how they can get to know the magic that is Kelly Cutchin.

Kelly Cutchin:

Oh, okay. So, I mean, the easiest place is, I'm- I tend to be on Instagram pretty frequently. Sometimes I don't use social media the way that I should. But also, I do what I want. I'm always on Instagram, both my own personal account and the casual magic writing account. The community itself has its own account. And my website is where all of the things live. Here's the thing that I feel really strongly about- if you feel like you want to write something- whether or not you feel like you want to be a writer- that's not even- you don't even have to consider that. You don't even have to consider yourself a writer- that never- it doesn't have to enter your vocabulary. I have been a writer my whole life and didn't say I was until recently. Nobody gets to tell you what to do with that. If you feel like you want to write, and if you want to use writing in some way, you are allowed to do that. And part of what- or- that's one of the main reasons that I created Casual Magic and created writing sessions. So that if you were just like the littlest bit curious about what it might be like to write at all, that you could just come and do it, and do so with other people who are doing it as well- like that kind of body doubling of a thing- and also the support that's built in, so that you can see that you're not alone in a lot of the stuff that you're probably dealing with. But if you want to do a thing, that is a viable reason to do a thing. Like that is a valid reason to do anything. If you want to come and write, you get to do that. And you don't- obviously you don't have to come and write with us. But I think it's a beautiful place to get the kind of support necessary when you start asking the kinds of questions, like what do I even have to say? What do I want to do? What makes me happy? What do I want? It's- I'm not gonna say that it's easier, but ooh, maybe it is- to be around other people who have and are still navigating those things. I do- I do take one on one clients for specific projects, and also folks who are just like, the group setting freaks me out, I don't want to do that, I really just want it just to be this kind of intimate place where it's just the two of us, and I don't have to feel like I'm performing something. I also do take one on one clients, but also with Casual Magic, with a writing session, you don't have to do anything. You don't have to turn the camera on, you don't have to talk, you don't have to write, you don't have to do anything you don't want to. But I do have some folks who are working on longer projects, and are really looking to figure out what it is they have to say and how they want to say it.

Naomi Katz:

I love that. And all this is on your website casualmagicwriting.com.

Kelly Cutchin:

That's it.

Naomi Katz:

Excellent. Awesome. Well, Kelly, I loved this, and I love you.

Kelly Cutchin:

Thank you all so much. What a treat.

Naomi Katz:

So appreciate all your insight into all of this. Okay, so to wrap up, the question we ask each other, and ask everybody, is what is satisfying you right now?

Kelly Cutchin:

Ooh, these pants. Oh, these pants Y'all these pants have changed my life. These clearance sweatpants- drawstring- they're joggers from Walmart. And we can talk about Walmart whenever. I understand. But they're velour tie-dye. They got pockets. Man. I'm just sitting here touching my legs all day every day. This- this is- I am- this is the satisfaction that I've been craving in my everyday life.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

They are literally satisfying just to hear about, so I think that makes perfect sense. They are- they sound like they are casually magical.

Kelly Cutchin:

Yeah, and casual is what I'm all about. Let's not make things a big deal. You know?

Naomi Katz:

I love that. Awesome. Kelly, thank you so much. It has been amazing talking to you. And I hope everybody goes and checks out Kelly and all her magic.

Kelly Cutchin:

Yes, please. We'd love to have you.

Sadie Simpson:

That's all for us this week. Thanks to Kelly Cutchin for having this conversation with us today.

Naomi Katz:

And if you enjoyed this podcast, we'd love to connect with you over on our Instagram page @satisfactionfactorpod. Be sure to comment and let us know what you think about this episode.

Sadie Simpson:

And one simple thing you can do to support us, if you're listening in Apple podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere else that allows you to leave a rating and review, we would appreciate you doing so, because this helps us reach more people.

Naomi Katz:

Thanks everyone. Catch you next week.