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These Are My Hours: The Labor of Self-Love


Welcome to my blog, where you'll find substantive, well-researched articles that blend neuroscience, philosophy, poetry, personal reflection, and the latest life coaching tools in service of helping people engage their full potential. 


These Are My Hours: The Labor of Self-Love

Kirstin Hotelling Zona

Hello, Lovelies!

You might have noticed a new hashtag I’ve been using on social media this summer, #thesearemyhours. These words come from the title of an extraordinary new documentary, These Are My Hours, directed by Scott Kirschenbaum, of a woman (Emily Graham) giving birth at home. There are so many things I love about this film, but one of them is the way in which it reveals birth as a dance between surrender and intention, opening and closing, making way and making happen. 

Emily, a third-time mother, trusts herself. Absorbed by the work of riding each contraction, she radiates palpable self-possession. Her husband and mother (nearby, alert) give her space just as they move swiftly to her side when she asks for help or comfort. Between contractions, Emily opens her eyes, her face heartbreakingly open, on the verge of tears, and wonders aloud if she can do it. A few minutes later, she pulls inward, jaw flexed, eyes closed, and seems to grow in stature just as she hunkers down, every ounce of energy spun and tethered to a single point of focus: meeting the pain, embracing its urgency, breathing through it—opening

As she labors, Emily moves seamlessly between these states of vulnerability and courage. She shows us what the process of birth, that most ubiquitous of creative processes (we've all been born), has to teach us: not only are vulnerability and courage interdependent, but they are, in their interdependence, the actual condition of creation, of life itself.

Moreover, the pain of labor is not some price we must pay for the privilege of creating. Contractions aren't what happen in the aftermath of each incremental opening; they are what open us. When we resist the pain, we close. When we're able to lean into it, to meet the pain as pure sensation, to trust it rather than pathologize it, we open. We make way for the miraculous. 
Which is why (I believe), Emily soothes herself with these words: These are my hours, she says at the peak of her labor. Let them be hard.

These words moved me so much when I first heard them that I want to repeat them for you... 

These are my hours. Let them be hard. 

You don't have to be a mother, or a even a woman, to intuit the truth this movie lays bare: the creative process—of birthing our dreams, our loves, our hopes, our visions, our transformations, our soul's deepest yearnings for expression—demands constant interplay between states of being we too often think of as distinct, even at odds: softness and fierceness, joy and sorrow, grief and belonging, clarity and uncertainty, fear and faith, lostness and confidence, failure and success, pain and pleasure. 

Life's exuberance does not manifest despite the dark, but through it. When we mistake the natural, generative pain of creation as an indication of something gone wrong, we unwittingly overlook the very encounter that will open us fully, that will bring us face-to-face with what it is we need to know, to feel, to gather, to husband in order to make way for the creation that seeks expression through us: our own astonishing capacity for feeling, for ever-more presence to the breadth of our aliveness. 

This summer was, for me, a time of reckoning, of inwardness. A time of saying no to anything or anyone that impeded my encounter with wounds that needed feeling in order to heal. 

It was a time of both pulling in and reaching out. I was at once more vulnerable and raw this summer than I've ever been, and also braver. I spent hours on my bedroom floor, crying, letting the tears wash through me, the pain at times so intense it nearly took my breath away. I asked for help when I needed it, and I took time to tune into myself, to pause, to lean in. 

These were my hours, and they were hard. 

And they were necessary. Life-giving. They opened me to a quality of strength and self-presence that has anchored me in deep-boned belonging: in connecting so fully with myself—with the panoply of sensations and fears and desires that delineate my perspective, and with the silence and vastness that cradles and contrasts it—I connected more easefully, more playfully, and more authentically with the earth, with my children, with my family, and with my friends than I have in a long, long time. 

This summer was a true labor of loving, of learning to love myself from the inside out. My labor didn't begin this summer, and nor has it ended, but as with any birth, creation is borne of seasons—and right now, as summer wends its way to fall, I'm ripe-to-bursting with what I've learned, what I've discovered, and an uncontainable passion to share it with you. I know now what people mean when they say they feel "called": I have discovered, through a journey traversing marriage,  motherhood, divorce, mid-life career change, heartbreak, healing, and forgiveness what self-love truly feels like, why it's so important, and--importantly, how to teach it to others. 

To that end, I want to tell you about several new opportunities for you that I've created and about what's to come in the months ahead. I'm especially excited about the new class I'm offering, "Learn to Thrive!: 9-Week In-Person Intensive." Check it out!

Learn to Thrive!:
9-Week In-Person Intensive Class

A 9-week course specifically designed for strong, tender, visionary women  who want support and skilled guidance to cultivate the self-love and confidence that's essential to showing up fully in their lives and making an impactful difference in this world. This class will meet one evening per week for 9 weeks. Click here for full description and registration details. 

Fall 2018 Your Path
to Full Potential Retreat

These nourishing, intensive, daylong retreats are a favorite among the women I work with. This fall I will be bringing you powerful new teachings: I can't wait! Come recharge your body and spirit, transform your mindset, and leave feeling attuned and empowered. at the beautiful Ewing Manor, in Bloomington, IL, on Sunday, October 14th. Click here for details and registration info. 

Full Potential 1-1
Private Life Coaching Program

Full Potential Private Life Coaching delivers high-level, individualized life coaching, including the skilled support and accountability you need in order to create the life you truly desire and know deep-down you are meant to live.  Perhaps you've tried therapy or other healing modalities with either limited success or a wish for more; if so, coaching could be exactly what you need. Private life coaching is an investment that is guaranteed to transform your life. I work with no more than 10 women at a time, to ensure that I give each of my clients undivided and thorough attention. If you are curious about this option, begin by scheduling a free, no-strings-attached Breakthrough Session. Your complimentary session is an opportunity for you to experience one-on-one coaching with me, ask questions and receive personalized answers, and start to shift from stasis and confusion into clarity and connection. Click hereto learn more and schedule your free session. 

And here's what you can expect from me in coming months... 


Monthly Learn to Thrive! Newsletters... 

I am constantly nerding out on podcasts, blogs, books, seminars, and trainings, and have long wanted to create a regular venue in which I share the resources that I find so helpful and inspiring. So, starting in September, be on the lookout for the first of my monthly Learn to Thrive! emails: short write-ups in which I highlight one or two resources I find especially useful and that feels particularly timely with regard to what you all are sharing with me. 

E-book on my recent trip to Greece with my kids...

This is the story of an extraordinary adventure I took with my kids early this summer. It's about traveling with my kids, it's about Greece, and it's about much more than either of these things: divorce, love, heartbreak, mothering, addiction, co-dependency, healing, aging, and transformation. It's the most vulnerable writing I've ever made public, and I can't wait (gulp) to share it with you soon. 

"Dream of a Side Hustle?: How to Free Yourself From Either/Or and Create a Worklife You Love."

This public talk about how to pursue and monetize your passion while working another full-time job is in the making for late fall; stay tuned for details... 

Screening of These Are My Hours, Normal, IL

Yes, that's right--an opportunity for those of you who are local in Central Illinois to watch this masterpiece on the big screen and talk about it after, right here in Bloomington-Normal, with Director Scott Kirschenbaum and star of the film, Emily Graham. This free public screening will take place in Normal, Illinois, in early December, 2018, and will be part of a very exciting series of events surround female empowerment. I can't wait! 

As always, I love hearing from you. If you have any questions or feedback about what I've shared here, don't hesitate to leave me a comment below. I will respond personally within 1-2 days. And if you've liked what you've read, please share this blog post with someone else! That's how we make lasting change, right? One step, one share, one connection at a time. 



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