031: Not Defined by Her OCD with Kelsey Chapman

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031: Not Defined by Her OCD with Kelsey Chapman

When Kelsey Chapman was diagnosed with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), she understood that her feelings wouldn’t go away just because she wanted them to. She needed to work ruthlessly to address this problem and set extreme boundaries. Why? Without them, she’d go back to feeling every wall in her house before going to bed and actively living in irrational fears.

Kelsey is an author, podcaster, and personal cheerleader to women building their dream lives and businesses. She launched her own brand in 2015, and conquered her fears by leaning on the shoulders of incredible mentors who helped her jump from dreamer to doer. She shifted her old perspectives and mindsets, discovered how to execute her vision, and became the CEO and leader she is today.

In this episode, Kelsey is speaking with Arwen about conquering her obsessive thoughts, the ongoing process of managing intrusive thoughts, and why it’s possible, even with OCD to turn your wildest dreams into reality.

Overcomer Playlist Recommendation 

Pearls of Wisdom


“Shame tries to keep you in the dark and tell you that it'll be better in the dark, but only when it's brought out into the light where you will feel free. But shame will try to convince you otherwise and keep you isolated and there… Click To Tweet “I have this beautiful imagery in my own life of what it looks like to be the one being invested in and then what it looks like to do the investing. And I just see a net positive.” - Kelsey Chapman Click To Tweet “What am I going to do with this life? I've only got one. So, I'm going to make it count.” Click To Tweet “What are you going to do with this one wild and precious life?” - Mary Oliver Click To Tweet


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Connect with Arwen Becker



Arwen Becker: In Episode 26, I speak about my middle son's diagnosis with autism and ADD. And during that time, I also was tested as well. It was part of the discussion that we were, of course, having with his doctor at that time, and I came out as ADD hyper-focused, and through this process also discovered my dad got diagnosed in his 60s and that it's definitely a part of the genetic thread in my family on my dad's side. And so, as I've continued to kind of peel back the layers of this diagnosis, I also kind of thought back on a trigger moment in my life, my junior year in high school, where it was really the start to my issues with sleeping. And actually, in that same episode, I talked about dealing with insomnia. So, this is really the catalyst of where it began.

And what had occurred was, it was my junior in high school, I had two best friends. One best friend was in a cheerleading competition in Eastern Washington. So, we drove with her mom and her aunt, and then our other best friend to watch her in this competition. And we were all four of us. She was staying with the team, but my other best friend, and then the mom and the aunt were all sharing a hotel room. I was sharing a bed with my best friend and then mom and aunt were sharing the other bed. And I can remember it like it was yesterday. I woke up from a dead sleep with a little bit of a cough, just woke up, coughed a couple of times, and then all of a sudden, I started having these thoughts going through my head of what if I keep coughing? I wonder if my coughing actually woke them up. I wonder if they can hear me coughing? What if I wake them up? And I started going through this very irrational thought process that only started to get bigger and bigger and bigger.

And so, I got myself up out of bed, I went into the bathroom, I shut the door, and I sat there on the toilet. And these feelings of total dread started to come over me. And I kept thinking, "Well, maybe I'll just stay here in the bathroom and I won't go back out there because if I go back out there, and I start coughing, I'll wake them up, and then I'll feel really bad about myself and I don't want them to not be able to sleep. So, I'll just sit here all night.” And this was this crazy thought process that began. Well, that was the initial part of what would turn into really decades of struggle. Sometimes I don't deal with it. Sometimes it's very, very present. It's very much based in anxiety and these obsessive-compulsive thought process that come with my ADD, this hyper-focus piece, this wanting to control my situation, very much growing up in an alcoholic home. This is a lot of times what kids of alcoholics show, these types of tendencies and stuff.

And I love the fact that my guest today is going to talk about how she herself has battled with some of these OCD tendencies and the struggle throughout her life.

Kelsey Chapman is an author, podcaster, and personal cheerleader to women building their dream life and business. When she launched her own brand in 2015, she felt this overwhelming feeling of, oh my gosh, this is scary. I'm taking this huge leap of faith and I've got to commit showing up for this dream that I'm not even sure is going to even pan out, right? And mentorship is what really pushed her to rise up and continue making her dream into a reality. And over the first few years of her business, she leaned on the shoulders of several incredible mentors, who took her under their wing, and taught her how to make this jump from dreamer to doer. Kelsey needed their expert wisdom to shift these old perspectives and mindsets and discover the next right steps that would help her execute the vision, and then hopefully stay excited and hopeful throughout this journey. And her mentors really helped her shape her character so she could become the CEO and leader that she is today. Now, she is super excited that she gets to pay it forward and be that kind of cheerleader for you and for me. And she does it because she believes you can turn your wildest dreams into reality.


Arwen Becker: My wonderful new friend, Kelsey Chapman. Thank you so much for joining us on the show today.

Kelsey Chapman: Thank you so much for having me. I am so excited to be here.

Arwen Becker: I am excited to have you. Well, before we get into today's topic, why don't you tell us what was the song that you brought to add to our Overcomer Playlist and why did you pick it?

Kelsey Chapman: Oh, man. Well, I love the song Rhythms of Grace, which was fun for me to hear that you knew. It’s by Hillsong United. For me, I am always on a quest towards peace, which I am sure we will get into lots of reasons for that, that have just always sent me on a path towards pursuing peace. And so, rhythms are really important in my life. I am not necessarily prone to rhythms. I'm actually prone to compulsively doing all day, every day. And so, over the last few years, I've been on this quest to just integrate rhythms into my life to grow, to cultivate peace, to create margin, to create rest. And so, I love this song, all about rhythms of grace, how to operate out of that grace that we are freely given but sometimes I don't always take hold of. And so, I just lean into that song on a day where I need to be reminded the beauty in the Rhythms of Grace.

Arwen Becker: Yeah. Was there any specific lines from that song that really stand out to you that you had cued up? And if you don't, that's okay, too.

Kelsey Chapman: Well, I just like this phrase:

Your voice calls the stars by their name

You whisper them all to their place

Like that level of like I can rest like the stars, the millions of stars in the universe are each strategically put into place like I don't have to control everything. I don't have to be a part or be the puppet master of every little detail in life. I can relax, I can lean in, I can create margin, I can create rhythms and I can lean into that grace. I don't have to do it all even though sometimes I swing on a pendulum of thinking I have to do it all.

Arwen Becker: Or that you can do it all.

Kelsey Chapman: Yeah. Totally.

Arwen Becker: Oh, I love that and I do love that song. I love that whole album.

I was talking in my intro story about my battles with insomnia and these overwhelming thoughts of anxiety, which have led to major sleep issues and really sleep disorders over the years. And one of the things that you were talking about, and I know that we're going to talk about today is you have battled some similar issues. And I guess, why I felt it was so important when you told me kind of some things that you were thinking about, talking about why this one stood out to me, in particular, wasn't because I had dealt with something in the past that was similar to it. It was that you were willing to talk about something that you have battled recently. And I wanted to have you talk about that because I think a lot of times, we as women were afraid to talk about the things we are currently dealing with or that we have maybe just stepped out of not like, “Oh, that was something I dealt with 10 years ago, and I barely know that girl.” There's something about being vulnerable enough to say, "You know, this is something I've recently been working myself through and these are the things that I have done.”

So, why don't you kind of start us off, and if you want to go back in some history or if you just want to kind of start with COVID and how maybe that started to trigger some things, where do you want to go from here?

Kelsey Chapman: Absolutely. Well, I’ll just start by saying I have dealt with fear for as far back as I can remember. There was no big moment that was the catalyst to this fear. I would just say that from the time I can have both tangible memories, I've been deeply afraid. Especially at night, I felt out of control and unsafe even though I had a relatively safe home and a very safe neighborhood, and a good part of town. I'm not exactly sure why but that's just been how I'm wired since the very beginning. And so, as I went through childhood, that fear took a lot of different shapes. For a long time, it was kidnappers then it was unseen things like spiritual demons or whatever. I don't even grow up in church. I don't even know where those fears came from. Probably commercials, movies, who knows? But I was just deeply afraid. And for a season it was the physical things and then it was spiritual things. I just really was fixated on that hyper-focus, like you said, all day, and all night. All day, I was dreading night time. I could fall back asleep during the day, I felt safe, I felt okay. I would create rituals to feel safe. And then by night, though, I'd stay up all night. I just stay up all night. Into college, I would stay up all night because I was so scared of what could happen at night that I never wanted to close my eyes or relax enough to fall asleep because I needed to be hyper-vigilant, aware, always on guard for what could happen to me. And so, what I didn't know at the time was I was starting to develop OCD to cope with my fears and really, there were other factors in my life.

Every family has heartache. We're not exempt from getting through this life without paying. No one's exempt, right? But I really reacted to the unique brand of heartache my family was experiencing by developing these rituals of control to make me feel stable. And so, in times where I felt unstable, whether that was at night when I was scared or just because of an encounter I had with a family member or because I couldn't control my environment at all times, I started developing these mechanisms of control. So, what that would look like for me would be like feeling every wall before bed to feel for an invisible person hiding there so that I could go to sleep. And while that's obviously not rational, at the time it felt deeply rational for me. I would have this ritual every night through my high school years, for 45 minutes, every closet, every attic. I was sitting watching a show with my mom a few years ago, in my late 20s, and there was a kid that the punchline of the scene in the show was, "Oh my God, this kid has OCD,” and it was illustrated in a funny way. It was like American Housewife. It was a funny show. And I looked at my mom, and I was like, “Mom, that was me.” I would check under the bed. Not one time, but seven times. And I needed to like go back and check again until it felt just right. And I was like, “I have OCD?” and she’s like, “Oh, God, yeah.” And I was like, “Wait, what?” I kind of put that away like I really didn't explore the potential of OCD until about a year ago. But it's not like I have these tendencies of organizing my kitchen perfectly.

Arwen Becker: It's like I was OCD over the weekend. Yeah. When people make it all sexy and wonderful.

Kelsey Chapman: Yes. That's the pretty stereotype of OCD. That's not really OCD.

Arwen Becker: Right, exactly.

Kelsey Chapman: I've only ever really seen that. So, I didn't think to call any of these rituals OCD. I just knew I did that. And when I did that, it made me feel maybe not better but like something shifted. It's not like it completed my life and made me feel safe that I had that semblance of control. But in that moment, I would do whatever my ritual was until it felt right. I'd have some relief, then I'd move on. And then it got to a point where I couldn't carry on my day without doing those rituals. It’s a very symbolic. I just didn't know that's what it was. Yeah. I go through my 20s and it starts shifting into A+ student habits. And so, I've always been an A+ student. I graduated high school with like a year of college under my belt already. I am the A+ student. I want the gold stars. And so, it was also kind of masked in the star student behavior and as I shifted out of my high school years and started having probably a little more control in my life anyway just with that agency you have as you get older, it started translating into achievement. And, oh my gosh, I can't do this until I complete every item on this list and I can't go to bed if this list is incomplete.

Arwen Becker: And your world I bet started to or continued to fan the flames of your value. Your value it's like, "Oh, I get good feedback when I do this,” so it perpetuates the issue too.

Kelsey Chapman: Yeah. You're rewarded for your behavior and so, of course, you continue. Of course, you don't see it as a problem. And so, I really just developed, I just shifted all of my OCD tendencies towards achievement, towards your goals and work. I was still battling with fear but somehow probably because of the public humiliation like I can't be in college feeling my wall every night before bed with my roommates. I'm sure there were seasons. I remember seasons feeling my roommate’s bedroom wall when they were not there to just double check before bed but at some point, that becomes weird.

Arwen Becker: You know what, I have to tell you because it’s the same thing with college roommates. This is total relatability is that so I played volleyball at the University of Washington. So, we would travel and we always had a roommate, and I would literally have to wait until my roommate fell asleep and I would oftentimes if we had a room that had like a separate other seating area where there was a couch, I would sleep on the couch. And because it was like I wanted to get as far away from the bed as they were because it was this, again, this completely irrational fear that I was going to cough, I was going to keep them up, I was going to do this thing. And yet I would do these things where I sleep on the floor or I would literally like leave and go sleep in the car. It's like how embarrassing can it get? People are like, "What is wrong with you? There's a perfectly good bed for you to sleep in here.” But try to tell somebody that that's irrational and actually trying to live through it. So, I can still relate to the way you're feeling.

Kelsey Chapman: Yeah. It’s like this primal instinct of like this is the safest route. I have to take the safest route in those moments. And so, yeah, I think that's what eventually broke the feeling every wall before bed habit of just like, okay, I can't always do this. Well, that was one night. That was two nights not performing that ritual to go to sleep, and I survived, and then you kind of fizzle out. And so, over time, my tendency shifted into those star student behaviors and then as an adult I ended up starting my own business. In the last few years, I've really noticed I will just stay up until 1 AM at night all the time to complete my to-do list but the problem is the to-do list restarts the next morning or it’s never complete but I literally feel like I'm dying if it's incomplete going to bed and the level of mental space that it takes up in my day, I realized that was my newest iteration of control. When I was talking to my therapist, I discovered these OCD markers. I was in like my ninth year of therapy at that point. So, I've been pursuing help for all the nuances of the messy parts of my life for 10 years, but we really didn't even touch OCD until year nine. And I can't remember what it was that encouraged me to explore. Oh, I do remember. I was listening to a podcast and it was a Dax Shepard podcast, and he regularly talks about OCD. And he was talking to a guest who had been through significant trauma and ask them, "Did you develop OCD tendencies when you fell out of control because of that trauma? Did you develop some sort of control to placate your lack of control in life?” And when the topic comes up just time and time and time again for a while and you're like, "Maybe I should explore that.”

That was one of those moments of like, “Wait.” Every time he says this, he'll talk about going to the bathroom and literally he would have to do this ritual and walk into the hallway with a toilet paper roll and all the sheets and then let it all unravel and then fold it back up and just have these totally crazy extreme rituals as a child. And I'm like, “I so relate to that. I have these insane rituals.” And so, I started exploring it and a friend sent me an account called OCD Ever After or something. It's like a therapist account. And when they started talking about intrusive thoughts, I had no idea intrusive thoughts are a hallmark of OCD. I literally thought I had no word for what intrusive thoughts might have been. I just spent my whole life feeling guilty for having intrusive thoughts.

Arwen Becker: What is it to give us the definition of what does that mean?

Kelsey Chapman: Gosh, you can be taught thinking about something totally different, and then a horrific image will come into your mind. And then you have to create little checks to make sure you're not bad because you had that bad thought. And so, you create these rituals to make sure and to check yourself that you're not bad because you had a bad thought. And they're totally uncharacteristic of who you are or your belief system sometimes and I just asked them a lot of my life praying for forgiveness for intrusive thoughts that I thought I just must have invited in. I really had no words for it until I was literally 30 years old. I had no idea that's a thing. Again, I'm sitting here thinking OCD is organizing your kitchen. I didn't really have a grip for what this was. And the funny thing was, is I started talking to a friend about this the other day and she said to me, "Oh, my gosh, help me. I learned I had OCD in the last few years and it was the intrusive thoughts that kept me quiet because I just thought I'm so bad.” Again, you don't realize it’s OCD. Once you have a name for it, you're like, "Oh, a lot of people have OCD.” But when you don't have a name for it, you just think, "This is so isolating. I don't know how to describe it.”

Arwen Becker: Yeah. And when you haven't actively begun to understand it and research it because I think it's so interesting. You said you had been in counseling and therapy for years and the OCD conversation had never come up and I relate to the fact that I had been in counseling for years and the codependent growing up in an alcoholic home tendency that I had had never come up. And I was almost angry when I, well, actually I did. I had like, a few weeks of anger because I'm like, “Why didn't anybody tell me to start researching this? This would have been so helpful for me,” you know, all these initial reactions because it was so obvious to me once I started researching what it is to be a codependent and need that behavioral feedback from other people to feel either valuable or like crap. And yet, I don't know if I just wasn't ready to hear it, if I wasn't ready to process that part because I do have a hard time imagining codependency never came up over years of being in counseling with different people and talking about my history and things of that nature. But it's interesting that you say you were in there for a long time and then that came up, and then you started to explore it. So, I think that that's important just to pull out because I think a lot of people feel the same way I did kind of like I feel like somebody didn't tell me the truth like I should have known or somebody should have brought it to my attention. And yet, I might have just not been ready to hear it or to address it. You know what I mean?

Kelsey Chapman: Totally. And when you're high functioning in anything, you are able to mask it a little as well. And so, sometimes the therapist or the friend is just dealing with what's right in front of them. Okay. Today, you're on pain over X, Y, and Z. We’re going to address and what's the root of that? We can spend nine months before you know it diving into whatever was that pain point.

Arwen Becker: Good point. Yes.

Kelsey Chapman: Then you go years masking a big problem that is in the ecosystem of every part of who you are. And, yeah, I really am like, how was this missed? Why didn't anyone tell me even a friend who not the same friend, a different friend of OCD? And when I told her, she was like, "That's what I have.” I just didn't have words to describe it to my friend and the intrusive images were so awful in her experience that she felt embarrassed. And I'm like, "Ah, I wish she would have said something because I would have known that that's what I was going through.” And so, I think like the people who don't recognize it sometimes or who know and don't say anything, they're just trying to figure out how to navigate it themselves. But it was enlightening. I discovered this after 10 years of therapy at like 29 or 30, and here we are. I'm not just saying like let's slap a label on everything. But for me, it was very freeing of like, “Oh, I'm not isolated in this. A lot of people are OCD. And okay, like I have a name for it. This is not…”

Arwen Becker: Yeah. And I could start help figuring it out, start reading what other people have done, and find out what worked for them. Did you feel that when COVID hit that perpetuated or increased some of the issues that you dealt with, or maybe new ones cropped up because of that?

Kelsey Chapman: I think they definitely cropped up because my husband did lose his job in like the second month, so like in April. So, my fears of being out of control really crept in then. But I will say about a year before, April of 2019, I was running an Instagram agency and one algorithm shift leveled my business overnight. And so, I really did a lot of work, then what do you do when the rug is pulled out from under you? I went from $20,000 a month to zero and it was a huge opportunity for me to do a lot of the work. Will I have control? Will I be okay if my income is not predictable? Will I be okay if it all disappears? So, when my husband lost this job due to COVID, I had done a lot of the foundational work we did prior when my business disappeared. And so, it was actually a testament of like, wow, that work is paying off, I would never like a “test” to see if the work I've done has paid off. You know, a lot of the times we start doing the work and we don't know when we're going to have to put it to use. Like, okay, I started digging deep, I started therapy on my fear of losing control of my business or some unforeseen factor affecting my bottom line but then that happened, and I didn't end up having to live on my friends' couches which is like somewhat of my greatest fear. And we survived. I rebuilt. And so, then when it happened during COVID, again, just to my husband, I was like, “You know what, we did it last year. We can do it again.” And there are some days that are better than others. Some days I start wanting to control of like have you applied to five jobs a day? I have only seen you apply to two so you should apply to eight to make up for the lost 20 you didn't do yesterday. I start to really intervene in his life. I start working frantically in my life to make more money, to offset things. But I've realized like it usually does come out in the wash, I've never gone hungry. I can go get a job if I have to if I need to table my business. We can do that.

And so, I just have to really placate myself with like rational thoughts in those moments and not allow myself to develop these compulsive behaviors, because once I start, I will do my ritual for years. And so, for me, that was like setting really strong boundaries to not give in to control like close my computer at 6. For me, this has been a season where I can't close my computer at 6. Once I got an OCD diagnosis, I was like, “Okay. This won't just go away because I want it to go away.” I have to ruthlessly go after this and set extreme boundaries in my life because if it wasn't for having roommates, I'd still be feeling every wall in my house before bed.

Arwen Becker: Sure. Right. Exactly. Yeah. It's like getting up. I just heard from one of my coaches, literally getting up shutting the computer lid and saying out loud, "Work complete.” And literally doing that as a ritual because, as entrepreneurs, it's very easy, especially with the internet too. I mean, now you have access to everything at every hour of the day. And there's always the task list, just like you said. No matter how hard you work, there's always a new task list tomorrow morning. You know what I'm saying? And so, being able to have those rituals, I think that's really, really good that you said that, those boundaries of saying, “Okay. I'm going to put something in place that is going to be my trigger to stop. It doesn't mean it's going to feel natural.

Kelsey Chapman: For a season, it's like maybe I need to go on a walk, maybe I need to go on a drive, sometimes that changed like what my ritual might be but I have to have something that like cultivates a shift because when I work for myself, I don't have to drive home to learn to shut off. And for me, I get that little dopamine hit, that fix when I check one more task off my list and I am rewarded when I check one more task off my list. But overall, my life is not rewarded when I'm a total slave to compulsive behavior. So, it has been a lot of boundaries to create healthy rhythms in my life.

Arwen Becker: Yeah. It’s so true and that's why really for all of us having those three top things that you're going to accomplish that day and identifying what those are because you can easily have 20 things on a task list. And I love checking off task lists as much as you do but I had to really get very, very diligent about that saying I’m waking up in the morning, "What are the three most important things that are going to truly make me feel like I have accomplished the things I needed to do?” Because I could easily go to an outlook task list and put 20 things that I'm going to do today on it. And it's just so I can have the act of clicking a box and see I'm getting that dopamine hit that I did something. And it's like, “Yeah, but did you really do something that was beneficial? Or did you do something that you could have delegated to somebody else or was a very low priority?” You're still going to get to the end of the day and not feel accomplished because you didn't do the most important tasks, so to speak.

Kelsey Chapman: Yep. I love the three tasks, the power hour per se in accomplishing tasks in the morning because I'll drive down the road and have an idea, dump it in my notepad, dump it in my notepad and before you know it, there’s 45 tasks there. Of course, that's never going to get complete. And so, really prioritizing and letting go like really relinquishing the need to complete everything and finding other ways to placate my need for control in life without giving in to controlling behavior, it is discipline every single day.

Arwen Becker: How long have you been easy on yourself? Because, again, this isn't like you're doing something like, "Oh, I'm going to shave off 15 pounds, I'm going to hit my goal, and I'm going to move on to something else, or whatever it is.” This is something that you're dealing with. This is something that you will be dealing with throughout your life and you understand that but how have you gone easy on yourself knowing that this is something that is a continual issue that you have to be mindful of and work through? But how have you learned maybe your self-talk? How has that changed over the years?

Kelsey Chapman: Yeah. My self-talk, it really swings on a pendulum of like overly nice. I'm in the neighbor of seven so I'm pretty like woohoo! Because of OCD, it slipped into some very crazy behaviors. And I really swing between like everything was great to nothing was great overnight. And so, for me, I have to understand that because of the nature of even my work. There's probably going to be seasons where I slip into a lot more rigid forms of OCD because a deadline is happening and it has to get done so I am going to be addicted to my to-do list. I'm going to have to remedy that when that season closes. For instance, during my book launch, there's no closing the computer at 6:00 on some days. And I knew that might escalate my kind of addiction to my to-do list because it does have to be done. This is a season for hustle and running but when that season's over, I'm going to have to build in some ways to reach that. So, I'm going to the beach next week. And I don't go until Monday, and I'm closing my computer Friday so that I can start winding down because I fully expect it to be a little bit painful to not be able to work those first few days. It'll be like, "Oh, but if I just do this one thing, I'll feel better,” but I know I won't feel better in the long haul. I'll feel better temporarily. So, it's going to take a few days to unwind and to calm down. Then I can shift into a new rhythm, get in vacation mode, and hopefully come back and be in normal work hours again.

Arwen Becker: I commend you. That is so good. I want to make sure I know I can pull out how important that is what you said that you are making the decision not only to have this season of running hard because there's nothing wrong with that. There's nothing wrong with being out of balance for a time knowing that it has an end date. That's the important part. It's like I know that right now that this is just what I need to do but then for you to have the wisdom to say, “Okay. Now plan something at the end of it and then to build in two days of margin.” Girl, I am impressed. That is a big deal to build in the margin to get ready to unplug. That's awesome.

Kelsey Chapman: Well, haven't you been on vacation before where you like really don't unwind until like day six, and you go home on day seven?

Arwen Becker: It sucks. What was the point of that vacation when that happens? That is the worst feeling. I have so been there and I know there's a woman out there who hears this. She's like, “Oh my gosh, how many vacations have I wasted?”

Kelsey Chapman: And I know Saturday is going to roll around and I'm going to be bored. Because I'm not on vacation yet, I'm not having fun yet, like what do I do? Twiddle my thumbs around the house? Like I'm bored. Should I fill my time going to visit people or running errands to make life easier? And it's like, "No. I actually need to be still and find something that is a hobby and not work around the house.” If I want to see a friend, great, but I don't need to stack my calendar with seven friends to placate my need to be busy and feel “productive.” So, I need to ease in, embrace the discomfort of not being “productive” and getting that hit this weekend. And then hopefully, by Monday when I start traveling, I'm not letting myself take my computer.

Arwen Becker: Good for you.

Kelsey Chapman: My husband does have to work but he's like, "You're bringing two to three books and I want you to complete those by the end.”

Arwen Becker: I am just so proud of you because I am such a kindred spirit. It's about impacting the people around you. It's about taking the things that have hurt you in the past and being able to utilize those to help other people who are struggling with the same thing. Man, I'm so proud of you. That's just awesome.

Kelsey Chapman: Thank you. It's fun to chat with a kindred spirit because my husband's like, "Chill out. Can you just enjoy life?” And I'm like, "It's not that simple, honey.” And I think there's probably listeners out there like us who it takes discipline to rest.

Arwen Becker: Right. That's very true.

Arwen Becker: So, if you're looking back, I mean, during this time period, what would you say are a couple of the things, two or three things that you've really learned through this experience?

Kelsey Chapman: Man, that you don't have to struggle alone. I think for me, especially with those intrusive thoughts, that might feel like the biggest secret of my life. And so, I just saw as bad for having an intrusive thought. And then once I realized that the whole thing, I'm like, "Oh, why did I make that mean something about my identity or myself?” If I would have even told two friends, they might have been able to identify, “Hey, girl, that sounds a little bit like OCD.” You know, it was my other friend who let me in that I might be codependent. And so, I think when you will let people in and invite them into your struggle, no matter how vulnerable it feels, because I am not putting that in a pretty little bow. It might be ugly, but you're going to experience freedom when you invite people in. And I heard this said in college, when shame tries to keep you in the dark and tell you that it'll be better in the dark, but only when it's brought out into the light where you feel free. But shame will try to convince you otherwise and keep you isolated and there in the dark. And so, I wish I would have known that because I tend to invite people into my life in every area but that might have been the one that I just felt too afraid to invite someone in because I didn't know what it meant about me. And when I finally did, I was like, man, I should have done this a long time ago.

Arwen Becker: Isn’t that so true?

Kelsey Chapman: That was a big lesson for me. And then boundaries, for me, has been very big. I thought being nice meant being on boundaries for so long, on boundary with people, on boundary with tasks, on boundary with my clients. And I got a lot of praise for just being available and on and superstar. And that fed into my own issues of OCD because, again, I was getting rewarded for compulsively doing every second of every day. And by having no boundaries, it doesn't make you nicer. It makes you so stretched thin that you're mad at the world all the time. And so, these are the last two years of my life. These last two years of my life has been about implementing boundaries. And it allowed me to be kinder to myself, kinder to others because I'm not snappy at the end of every day. I'm not at that thing what I've been so excited to do and unable to enjoy it because I'm so stretched thin, I have no margin to enjoy it. You know, those things where you cram your life full of things you said yes to and you don't enjoy a single one of them anymore. And so, I think, for me, the two things I've learned are just inviting people into the most vulnerable areas, and then setting boundaries because it's not doing yourself any good to live on boundaries in order to be kind. I think that's a box women get pushed into a lot and it doesn’t…

Arwen Becker: Or step right into it.

Kelsey Chapman: Or step right into.

Arwen Becker: Or they actively step right into it. Again, I'm right there and that's a very common trait with kids of alcoholics that just trying to keep the peace and don't speak up, and very passive in a lot of things and allow a lot of stuff to happen. And so, weak boundaries have been something that I have had throughout my life and realizing that true love for myself is when I could set a boundary whether people like it or not because that's my own self-care.

Kelsey Chapman: I could not relate more. With the things I've gone through with my family, I think it has really cultivated a lack of boundaries in my life. And it's been a really interesting season of I'm learning those habits and ensuring healthy habits. And one thing that I'm sure you'll relate to too as my therapist was like, I kept pushing back and saying, “I feel bad having boundaries because it makes me feel like I'm causing the relationship to regress.” You know, if I set a boundary with someone I love, it kind of pushes them out of my inner circle box sometimes into an outer circle unless they can meet me with my new boundaries. But if they don't respect that, we're not as close like, I don't like that, but I don't want them to be not as close and she said, “You have to think about it differently. You have to think about it in the sense that you're fighting for a better relationship. It's not that you're regressing in your current relationship because you don't want it to be like that anymore. It's that you're fighting for it to be better and anyone can get behind someone fighting for better connection.”

Arwen Becker: Right. Although it always is very challenging in the beginning because the feedback you're getting from the world around you, especially the people you're setting new boundaries with is not positive. You know, because, of course, now they're going, “Wait a second. What is this thing? Why are you being all like this?” and whatever it is, but everybody get to a point where it makes way more sense. Actually, there were two podcasts. So, it's funny that I downloaded in this last year. One is called Beyond Bitchy and it's called Mastering the Art of Boundaries. And it's really specifically for women and I think this is her fifth year or something like that. And so, it's just being able to look past, “Oh, it's just me being, you know, aren't you just being bitchy because you're setting this solid boundary?” And it's not that. It's learning that it's not a negative to set a healthy boundary with people really close to you, with people not so close to you and everywhere in between. And then the other one is Codependent No More. And that one has, of course, speaking to the child of an alcoholic, speaking to that, pardon me, of realizing how much my self-worth has been tied up in other people's feedback because of, again, weak boundaries. And my self-worth is like, "Well, you need to be happy with me. if I achieve this or if I do this, then you'll like me, then you'll be happy with me.” And ultimately, you get these real highs and lows because if somebody's not happy with you, oh, wow, what a huge hit to the ego.

Kelsey Chapman: So crushing. Oh, my gosh. I will be downloading both of those. And I didn't know Codependent No More kind of show. I’ll be listening to that.

Arwen Becker: Yeah. That's a good one, too. So, there's one other question I wanted to ask you because I know that you really focus your business with women. And I always like to ask what do you personally see as what it means for women to support one another, women supporting women? What is that? What does that feel or look like to you?

Kelsey Chapman: Man, I love women supporting women and I know that it's trendy or sweet to say community over competition but living in a different. I think I have had women who have loved me and radically invested in me when it's cost them something, when it's been inconvenient, not fun, hard, and I have been forever impacted by their investment in me. And then, because of their investment, I am naturally turned around and anything I know I'm going to pass along to someone a few steps behind me, didn't always get it right. I certainly was in no way a perfect mentor but I was willing. And now I have girls who are impacted by me showing up. And so, I have this beautiful imagery in my own life of what it looks like to be the one being invested in and then what it looks like to do the investing. And I just see a net positive. Sure, there are some painful days. There are days when your mentee doesn't take your advice or they flake out on you, or they don't realize how costly it is for you to show up in a season when you have literally no margin yet you're making time for them. But those relationships that you go the distance with that you're in it for a year, so you get to watch someone evolve and grow and you have a front-row seat in their life, I mean, I feel like I cut my teeth on learning to love through mentorship because it's not always pretty or convenient, or rainbows and butterflies. So, I just love the women who have invested in me. They're not famous. They're not shiny. They were just willing and in my sphere of influence, some were moms of friends. Others were people I babysat for. One was one of my youth leaders in high school.

These women each invested something into me and they deposited it in me. They didn't maybe have altogether or have answers for every single thing in life, but they were killing it in one area. So, I decided that's an incredible mom. I'm going to learn from her in that department or that's an incredible friend or spouse or businesswoman. I can learn in that area. She might not be crushing it in every other area but I can learn from that area, and I was tremendously impacted. So, it's modeled for me how to show up for others. I don't have to have it all figured out or be crushing it in every area. That would be an insane expectation for me anyway. So, I'll just show up with what I have. And if there's someone that feels like it would be valuable for me to invest in them, I'm in. I'll go the road with you. I'll walk the distance with you. And so, I am a big fan of women investing in one another. I think we'll go further together if not easy some days, but I think it's worth it.

Arwen Becker: Oh, absolutely.

So, the rapid-fire final three questions. All right. So, here we go. So, what is the best piece of financial wisdom that you've been given?

Kelsey Chapman: Save for a rainy day, what you would probably appreciate me to say.

Arwen Becker: Yes, indeed.

Kelsey Chapman: I built my business in this online space where you can build with low overhead but you're going to be convinced to spend, spend, spend, spend, spend. You need that website, you need this, you need that, you've got to spend here, and I bought into it. I made a lot and I spent a lot. And when my business was leveled overnight while my husband was in college, so no sugar daddy here to sweep me off my feet, I had every opportunity to save based on what I was making. I was making like $20,000 a month. I could have saved for that rainy day. And when that season rolled around, it was really scary so unnecessarily. And so, I forever will be impacted by learning that lesson. At 29, I'm glad I learned it because it was a hard lesson to learn. Thank God, I got a book advance six days before my business disappeared overnight because that carried me through that I have like a six-month window at that point. Okay. I've got six months to figure it out. At that point, we'll sell the house and live in with friends.

Arwen Becker: Yeah. That's good.

Kelsey Chapman: But now I say, "Hey, maybe I'll grow slower. Maybe I'll invest over time.” I'll think before I want to make that big expense before I want the new website or whatever versus just go for the habit of the moment. That was a big lesson. That was hard.

Arwen Becker: Especially for entrepreneurs, that is a very common thing. It's like, “Oh, I will, tomorrow. Oh, I will tomorrow. Oh, wait, but I don't know when my next…” well, all these excuses. But yeah, and I've made the same mistake. So, very, very good. And then what is a book that you would recommend and why?

Kelsey Chapman: Well, is it bad to recommend my own book?

Arwen Becker: No. And if you want to recommend your own and then if you have another one that maybe you're reading right now that you love or one in the past, go for it.

Kelsey Chapman: I always go back to Present Over Perfect. That is not my own book. I am not

Shauna Niequist but she is my all-time favorite author. Every single book of hers that specifically Present Over Perfect because I have such a hard time remaining present. I'm stuck in the future at all times but I know that I'm my best self when I can get present. And so, I've never related more to the illustration in her book of just what got her to the point of valuing being present. You know, she is a yes girl more, more, more just like me. I feel like I'm reading a book from someone who is 10 years ahead of me living the same exact life experiences. And so, I will shout from the rooftops the book, Present Over Perfect, forever. Ten out of 10 recommend. Run, don't walk to get it but I also just wrote a book called What They Taught Me, about mentorship.

Arwen Becker: Yeah. Tell us about it.

Kelsey Chapman: Yeah. Well, as you all heard, I really value women investing in women and have been impacted by the mentors who have invested in me and so I wrote a book with each chapter detailing the lessons I learned from a mentor who was most of the time already in my life. But sometimes I would share a story where I had to ask. I had to say, “Hey, I know we’re at this cookout, I feel kind of like weird though asking you to be my mentor but can we meet for coffee regularly?” And so, I really lay it all out there and how to look for mentors who are already in your world. Because I think each and every person who picks up this book will benefit from finding and recognizing mentors, who might already be down the road from them.

Arwen Becker: Good. So, good. Yeah, absolutely. I'm looking forward to getting maybe a signed copy of it, perhaps.

Kelsey Chapman: I got you, girl.

Arwen Becker: Very good. And then what is a quote that you just love?

Kelsey Chapman: I love Mary Oliver. She is my favorite poet ever and she says, “What are you going to do with this one wild and precious life?” I could like plaster that on my wall. And it just reminds me like, what am I going to do with this life? I've only got one. So, I'm going to make it count. And you know, is fixating on that to-do list really what I want to do with my life? No. Yeah, I get a little dopamine hit when I clear out my inbox but that's not it at the end of the day. So, what am I going to do with this life? It kind of recenters me and bring me back home to what’s important.

Arwen Becker: Yep. Can you say it again? Can you say the quote again?

Kelsey Chapman: What are you going to do with this one wild and precious life? Mary Oliver.


Arwen Becker: I love that. And so, how can our listeners get ahold of you? I know you're all over social media but, yeah, kind of give us the full rundown. How can we get your book, everything else?

Kelsey Chapman: You can find my book anywhere books are sold, Target, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, all the places, your local bookstore. And then I'm mostly hanging out on Instagram. @KelseyChapman is my handle. And then my website is KelseyChapman.com

Arwen Becker: And then go ahead and spell your name for us too, make sure we got that right.

Kelsey Chapman: K-E-L-S-E-Y C-H-A-P-M-A-N dot com.

Arwen Becker: Oh, I love it. Well, you have been such a blessing to me. I had no idea that your history and your current life and everything would relate so much to mine. And so, of course, if I feel that way, I have to imagine that there is a woman or quite a few women out there that feel much the same way and you're just allowing us to not feel so alone in it and know that it's okay, that we're not crazy, and we don't have to feel shame for it either.

Kelsey Chapman: Well, the feeling is mutual, Arwen. I'm so glad to have gotten to connect and realize that we're soul sisters in this journey together.

Arwen Becker: Yes. And I'll have to get out to Nashville. I was actually going to tell you. My husband is going to be there in like two weeks and I haven't been able to go. He's gone like three times and they've just happen to all be trips without me. So, next time I'm going to have to come and hang out with you and you'll have to take us around.

Kelsey Chapman: Please do.

Arwen Becker: I would love it. All right, my dear. Well, thank you so much for being on today's show.

Kelsey Chapman: Thank you for having me.


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