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Blog

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. 

 

Filtering by Category: An Attitude of Noticing

On Epiphany

Kirstin Hotelling Zona

The experience of epiphany is, more than anything, an act of radical belonging: in its midst we learn that confusion is a symptom of over-steeping in the known, a failure of curiosity. We discover that true freedom—that sudden sensation of clear-seeing—is achieved not through isolation, not by stepping-away and seeing anew, but by climbing into the palm of what beckons from beyond and finding we've always lived there. 

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On Belonging: How to Parent Ourselves

Kirstin Hotelling Zona

Whether you are celebrating today, or grieving, or aching... Whether you have children, have lost children, chose not to have children, wanted children and could not birth or otherwise raise children of your own... Whether you are with your children, or estranged from them ... You are, yourself, born of a mother, and you are, yourself, called every day into the profound life's work of learning to parent yourself. 

What does this mean, to (re)parent oneself? 

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Why Your Comfort Zone is Exactly Where You Want to Be

Kirstin Hotelling Zona

When we make a mantra out of overcoming our comfort zones in search of our best selves, we predicate transformation on a lie: that we don't like to strive, that thriving is hard, and that it doesn't feel good. (All of which feels surprisingly and interestingly Puritan, don't you think?)

In contrast, I'd like to suggest that we drop the rhetoric of the "comfort zone" and cut to the chase, call it what it really is: the zone of fear. 

When we're stuck, spinning our wheels, not sure how we got here but quite sure we don't want to stay, we're not comfortable—we're afraid

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Surviving vs. Thriving Through the Holidays (and Beyond)

Kirstin Hotelling Zona

Am I (with the best of intentions!) gearing up to survive this season? Or am I setting myself up to thrive

Maybe the answer to this question is obvious to you, but if you're like me, you're not always sure; survival-mind is so deeply normalized by our culture today that we often don't realize when we're caught in its grip. Hyper-consumption (the f.o.m.o. fomented by Black Friday, Cyber Monday... the belief that eating and drinking well past the point of our body's comfort or health means we're in sync with the "holiday spirit"...), overspending and over-commitment, and habitual people-pleasing are just a few ways in which we perpetuate and naturalize survival-mindset, that deep-grooved network of beliefs that whispers there's not enoughmore is better, and that's just the way it is

You know you're in survival mindset if you're bracing for the days ahead. You know you're in survival mindset if you're letting yourself off the hook with regard to self-care (eating well, sleeping enough, honoring your boundaries and priorities) in the name of being festive, fun, a "good friend" or a "good host." You know you're in survival mindset if you're striving for perfection, if you're spending more time thinking about what others will think of your efforts than you spend enjoying those efforts along the way, and if you're responding to feelings of overwhelm by shifting into auto-pilot, that slightly numb state of being in which we tell ourselves that the delayed reward of "getting it all done" justifies the edgy cortisol high we're riding through a sea of seemingly endless tasks. 

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What Will You Make it Mean?

Kirstin Hotelling Zona

This year, the coming of fall means the advent of intention. As the Buddha once said, the whole of conscious life unfolds on the tip of intention. And I want my intention to be strong, focused, and clear--just like the bright fall air, the cool mornings and crystalline skies. I want to wake every day with an overarching vision of what it is that I want, above all else, to feel--in my body, my mind, and in my interactions with others. I want to light my bedside candle each night and write, with a sense of gratitude and excitement, about what I created that day, what I learned, what surprised me, and whose support I'm so grateful for that I could weep. 

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Eclipse! (and Conscious Living)

Kirstin Hotelling Zona

I love that the path-of-deepest-darkness, which is also the path-of-longest-duration, is called the path of totality: as I write, people are hurrying towards this 73-mile-wide band that at once bisects and unifies the nation, not horizontally or vertically, but diagonally, from coast to coast, propelled and bound by that which makes us capable of evolving into our highest (total) potential as a species: curiosity and wonder. Wonder and curiosity are the seeds of innovation, awe, and reverence, which in turn spore connection, love, and redemption.   

Could we, then, in the wake of the heinous hate crimes proliferating both at home and abroad, witness a timelier natural phenomenon?

Could we, while navigating our own messy lives—our griefs, longings, addictions, mourning, regrets, shames, and sorrows—pay homage to a more significant natural act?  

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Self-Love: Why it Matters, and How to Create It

Kirstin Hotelling Zona

Over time, the curiosity that once propelled us effortlessly outward (into conversation with strangers, contact with insects and animals, imaginary worlds, woods and streams, tidal pools and marshes, empty lots, dumps, alleys, abandoned buildings, and forts erected from the refuse of neighborhood curbs) often becomes inverted and internalized: primary questions that once led us into exploration and wonder are often replaced by questions about our own belonging, our worthiness, and our competence. What will I discover here? becomes Who am I to want more? How can I figure this out? gives way to What’s wrong with me?

By mid-life we might feel pulled apart by these seemingly antagonist energies: the quest to learn and grow, on the one hand, and the fear of doing so, on the other.

Either way, I can tell you that, if recognized and harnessed, this tension (often felt in our bodies as acute discomfort) can be a very good thing: it's the symptom of untapped potential. Of your aliveness. It's your gateway to growth, to healing, to intimacy, to innovation, and purposeful service to others.

The problem isn't the tension itself between curiosity and self-criticism, but the way we perpetuate competition between them by inhabiting one at the cost of the other. 

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