Author Q&A With Dr. Carolyn Kurle

Author Q&A With Dr. Carolyn Kurle

Dr. Carolyn Kurle is a tenured Biology Professor at the University of California, San Diego and the author of multiple scientific research articles on aspects of environmental conservation. Her first book, The Guidance Groove: Escape Unproductive Habits, Trust Your Intuition, and Be True, is an invitation for you to turn inward and find, listen to, and trust the wisdom emanating from your own authenticity so you can live a life more in alignment with your truest self.

As a scientist, Dr. Kurle relies on logical thinking, but she also values quieting the mind and fully integrating our feeling, intuitive selves to navigate the flow of life from a place of wholeness. Her work with hundreds of outstanding students at UCSD, many of whom paradoxically struggle to find ease, motivated her to create The Guidance Groove, an accessible manual for connecting with your intuition to increase personal authenticity and contentment. Meet Dr. Kurle…

You are an author, but is it your day job?  I’m a conservation ecology professor at the University of California San Diego so I spend a lot of my productive work time advising my graduate students on the research they are doing for their degrees and for our lab, writing and editing scientific papers based on the research conducted in my lab, serving as an editor for a scientific journal, writing grants, and doing committee and other work related to the students at UCSD. I also teach classes on Ecology and Evolution, Marine Conservation Biology, and a seminar on the topics of my book, The Guidance Groove: Escape Unproductive Habits, Trust Your Intuition, and Be True.

I wrote my book, The Guidance Groove, when I had free time from the duties for my “day job.” But so much of being a professor involves writing, so I’ve been a daily writer for over two decades.

Did you always want to be an author? Yes. But not in the way that you think. I am a life-long reader of mostly fiction, and I learned very early to love words and sentences for their potential to simplify and effectively convey the meaning of truly complicated concepts while also serving our human need to tell and experience compelling stories. To that end, for my professional life as an ecologist, I’ve been a scientific writer for a couple of decades, using words to tell stories of the natural world via the publication of research papers in scientific journals.

Crafting and birthing the concepts that became my book, The Guidance Groove, was a new direction in which my writing has traveled. It was a lovely experience of letting the words move through me freely, checking within and not having to always look at the data or the journal articles on the related topics that came before. It was a creatively different style of writing that I hope to continue.

So, yes—as an early and voracious reader, I did want to be a writer. But not of fiction, necessarily. Loving words from an early age and learning to use words as a science writer was exceptionally valuable as I moved into writing my latest book. And now I’m a different type of author and that feels just as authentic to my person as the science writing.

What is your most recent book and what inspired you to write it? My most recent and only book so far is The Guidance Groove: Escape Unproductive Grooves, Trust Your Intuition, and Be True. My many undergraduate students I’ve worked with at UCSD inspired me to write the book because they are so full of goodness and light, yet still struggle with finding, listening to, and trusting their own authenticity. They believe the untrue stories in their heads that they are inadequate, obligated, unworthy, and that resources are scarce. They believe they don’t belong and are “imposters.” They are a reflection of the feelings that exist within all of us and the book is written to and for everyone grappling with how to be their most authentic, truest selves while quieting the false stories that lead us into believing the only way to succeed is to believe those stories that propagate our inauthenticity.

How do you hope your book uplifts those who read it? There is one thing I would like to impart to those reading my book or curious to read my book: Everything alive has an inner spark of pure radiant goodness. That is your essence, your authenticity, your intuition, your truest self. The stories we tell ourselves that aren’t true junk up that spark and block your access to its authentic sincerity. When you KNOW that spark exists, you can start to look for it, clear away the untrue thoughts that obscure your true self, and bring that spark of radiant guidance on board as a tool to help you start navigating life from a place of integrated wholeness.

What are you most excited about with this book? My book has allowed me to come out of hiding and share concepts with the wider world that have always been true for me, but I was reluctant to share. This was especially true when I taught the book as a biology seminar last summer at UCSD. As a scientist, it’s not often I get to write about and discuss concepts that aren’t strictly scientific in nature, so to be able to openly communicate and connect with others in discussions of what is most true for all of us humans is the most exciting aspect of creating this book.

How did writing a book help your career take off? My career as a scientist has thus far not been overly impacted with the book as it just came out in early February.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to succeed in your professional industry? If they want to be a scientist, they will have to work with other scientists to learn what type of science they want to pursue. Depending upon how far they want to go in their careers, they may need to get undergraduate, master’s, or even PhD degrees.

How do you handle setbacks and criticism? Setbacks, criticism, or anything “difficult” are generally guideposts to help me understand if I’m moving in the right direction with the true flow of my life. They are opportunities to search my part in whatever occurred and find if there are ways I missed the mark and can refine my alignment with my own personal guidance.

An important note on this: If I receive criticism, I evaluate the source and feeling of the criticism—is the person providing feedback truly expressing their thoughts on how I can best improve my own product/circumstance/whatever? Or does their criticism reflect their own fears or shortcomings and has little or nothing to do with my own situation? I decipher the helpfulness of their input and either take it to heart or reject it because I can feel they are not really trying to help me improve, but rather they are deflecting their own fears on tome. I never take in someone’s criticisms without fully feeling into the potential truth of their statements and determining if it’s a true fit or simply a manifestation of their own false stories.

Being an author today is like running a business. How do you manage all your publicity, social media and keep your engagement up with readers? I hired a publicity firm (Smith Publicity) because I knew I couldn’t do it all on my own. I am self-published, so I also hired a book designer, an editor, and an artist to create my cover.

How do you hold yourself accountable and achieve the goals that you set forth? I follow the flow of my life. When it’s time to write, I write. When it’s time to do my research work, my teaching, my advising of students, I do that. When it’s time to be a parent to my son or a partner to my sweetheart, then I do those things.

I make time for all of that, while also holding my benevolent boundaries that protect my own spark of radiance and guard it from becoming diminished with too many activities. It’s a balancing act that we all experience to be our productive selves, while also being parents, partners, and our own personal guardians of our inner light. I’m accountable to only myself for honoring and protecting my own light, my own source of guidance. When I am in alignment with my own intuitive self, then the flow of the writing and the goals and all of it seem to more naturally arise.

What do you find most fulfilling in the career that you’ve chosen? The most fulfilling aspect of my career is working with, teaching, and learning from my undergraduate and graduate students at UCSD. I especially love teaching the concepts in my book and talking about how everyone can trust their own inner voices of guidance and truth. I also like the scientific work we do in my conservation action lab that serves to provide information that increases the ecological conservation of species and habitats that are imperiled on our Earth.

What book uplifts you? I love so many books, but The End of Your World: Uncensored Straight Talk on the Nature of Enlightenment by Adyashanti. I started listening to the audio book version of this about 10 months ago and I return to the lessons contained within that book all the time. It’s taught me the very ordinary, simple, and grace-filled nature of being extraordinarily unattached to the thoughts that constantly try and derail us from our own personal authenticity. Adya’s descriptions of what it means to move through the world from a place of non-separation with all others is comprehensive, inspiring, illuminating, and so full of wisdom. There is truly nothing transcendent about being “awake” to non-duality and his clear presentation of many Zen Buddhist-type ideas makes it appear quite ordinary and simple.

Anything else you’d like to share with your readers? I’m in awe of your willingness to bravely look inside to discover which fears drive your adherence to behaviors that stem from what I call Unproductive Grooves of inadequacy, obligation, scarcity, and unworthiness. When you can go toward your fears with love, discover where they are creating false stories in your head, then invite yourself to listen to and trust that inner voice of intuitive guidance, you are on your way to being your truest self. Your most content self. The self that dances freely to your beautiful and unique Guidance Groove. Thank you for your willingness to begin that powerful journey.

You can connect with Dr. Kurle at

Images Courtesy of Smith Publicity LLC

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