Archives for Celebrity Mentors

Celebrity Mentors

Stephen Hawking In His Own Words


I haven't seen the new Hawking film, "The Theory of Everything."

But the Stephen Hawking I met in "Hawking," a 2013 film in which Hawking himself narrates the story of his life, is a man I won't soon - or ever - forget.

At one point in the film, long after his body has become virtually useless due to the ravages of ALS disease, Hawking shares:

Because every day could be my last, I have a desire to make the most of each and every minute.

We are all different, but we share the same human spirit. Perhaps it is human nature that we adapt and survive.

This is a man who states he does not believe in any concept of a god or the afterlife.

So to Hawking, this life - one day by one day - is what each of us is given.

Today is the only "known" we have (and as such, the only "proof" we have to rely on that our life is even taking place!)

Hawking has three kids and has been married twice.

He has appeared on the "Simpsons," "The Big Bang Theory," and "Star Trek" (his favorite sci-fi show).

His book, "A Brief History of Time," has been a worldwide bestseller for years.

To review all the awards and honors he has received would be - well - these have been catalogued quite admirably elsewhere.

But what inspires me the most is how clear it is that Hawking does not inhabit his body - rather, he inhabits his mind, his emotions (in the form of passion for living and for connecting people with the science he loves), and his relationships. 
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Celebrity Mentors

Monica Lewinsky, Mentor

My mom recently sent me an article about Monica Lewinsky.

The article, titled "Monica Lewinsky is Back, but this Time it's on Her Terms," sounded intriguing.

So I read it.

And then it broke my heart.

I didn't realize we are only four years apart (she is 40, I am 44). Thinking back to when I was her age, I must admit I did some very regrettable things (and got involved with some very regrettable folks).....but since none of those oopses involved a U.S. president, mostly even I don't remember them now.

Thank goodness.

But Monica Lewinsky can't go an hour without remembering.

A few months ago I posted a blog called "Handling Hate Mail, Hateful Comments, and Hate."

In this post, I shared one comment - just ONE comment - that cut me straight through....which is one of (in comparison with Monica Lewinsky) just a handful of comments I have received over the years in my semi-public profession working with recovering and recovered people.

At one point during her recent TED talk, Lewinsky asks, "Where is the compassion?"

I have often wondered the same.

The haters who post and write and call anonymously are one thing....but today, very few even bother to hide their identity.

That boggles my mind.

Where is our fear of repercussion? Where is our compassion?

Where is our humanity?

We just spew out our hatred and anger and condemnation so freely....and then....what? Go home and hug our kids? Kiss our partners? Vent to our friends about how mean such-and-so is for gossiping about us at the office? Hope for a five-star review on our annual performance review at work?

Do each of us (or most of us, anyway) really have two personas - the kind, nice, hard-working, hopes-to-be-understood-and-respected-and-loved daily one - and that "Other One" - the one with the really white skin who wears the scary dark cape and has retractable front fangs?

I know both live inside of me. 
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Celebrity Mentors

To Love is to Struggle (Thank Goodness!)

This morning in my Facebook travels, I came across this quote from Mr. (Fred) Rogers:

Love isn't a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.

As my mentor, Lynn, often likes to remind me, the moment I set an intention towards achieving something, what comes up first are all the obstacles in between me and the full manifestation of that intention.

Fun.

Speaking of which, one ongoing intention I've been working towards for the last few years is learning to love unconditionally - myself and others.

So far, I am finding this very, very difficult.

There are several challenges (and here, I also have to mention that these challenges are just the ones I know of thus far!): 
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Celebrity Mentors

Navigating Big Changes


In my last post, I shared that so far, 2015 is a year of big changes in my life.

This time last year, I was still at the helm of MentorCONNECT, the nonprofit I founded in 2009.

This year, as of January 1, the reins are in the hands of a new group of leaders - people I know and trust, but they are still not me.

This time last year, I was broken up with my boyfriend, miserable yet resigned, stoic yet heartbroken.

This year, we enter a new year together and we are - remarkably - stronger than we've ever been.

And these are just two of the really big changes accompanying me in 2015.

A few days ago, a friend and I watched a movie called "Birdman," starring Michael Keaton and Edward Norton.

Aside from an instant fondness for the title (feathers are always a win-win for me), I found the movie itself somewhat hard to digest.

For instance, there were quite a lot of scenes with dudes running around in their tidy white undies.

Also, actors were portrayed as (yawn) self-centered, a theme I find both overdone and unfair (i.e., are actors truly more self-involved, or does their profession simply cause them to be unable to so easily hide that aspect of our shared human condition?)

Plus, frankly, I really thought the "Birdman" costume could have been better.

All that aside, the most beautiful part of the film for me was a scene where Norton agrees to play "Truth or Dare" with Keaton's daughter, Sam (played by Emma Stone).

In the scene, she asks him - flirtatiously - what he would do to her if he was not afraid.

His answer was both violent and beautiful, and has kept me thinking for days. 
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Celebrity Mentors

What Happens When the Journey Ends (a Tracks Postcript)


A few days ago two things happened.

I finished reading "Tracks" by Robyn Davidson, and I posted my first attempt to make some sense of her beyond-the-sensible and amazing journey.

While the book caused me more than a few sleepless nights, I now feel it was a good kind of sleeplessness - the kind that occurs only with the most profound and unstoppable of wake up calls.

Unlike so very many in our culture today (and even me for a time earlier in my life), Davidson did not wish to be famous. She wasn't interested in being anyone's inspiration or role model or icon or heroine.

She was searching for something - something private and personal.

She was searching for some kind of continuity within herself, her path, her past, her future - and at that point in her life, the search seemed to require a dog, camels, and a trek across 1,700 miles of desert.

So be it.

In the Postscript to "Tracks" (written in 2012), Davidson states she can hardly relate to the girl in the book she herself wrote, much less the character in the movie by the same name.

I totally understand.

Looking back now, I hardly recognize the girl who flew alone to India, and then to Israel, in search of ..... something. I admire her sometimes - her courage, her innocence, her hope - but I don't really know her as "me."

So why did she do it? Why did Davidson spend nearly two years learning to train camels, raising cash, assembling gear, even giving part of herself away to National Geographic in exchange for a cash sponsorship to buy what she lacked?
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Animal Mentors

Tracks: What Robyn Davidson is Teaching Me about Journeys

Let me just start by saying - oh. my. goodness.

I can't remember how I heard about Robyn Davidson or her extraordinary journey.

I just remember, the moment I heard about it, I was online hunting down her book.

Titled simply "Tracks: a Woman's Solo Journey Across 1,700 Miles of Australian Outback," the story she has to tell is simply mind-bending.

Davidson embarked upon her solo adventure in her mid-20's.

When I was in my mid-20's,...
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Celebrity Mentors

Some Frank Personal Thoughts on Depression and Suicide

Last month we were shocked - flattened - to discover our beloved Robin Williams had taken his own life.

I blogged about it the day I found out....and I'm still very sad. I miss him.

Knowing more about the possible "whys" - he had been diagnosed with early stage Parkinson's Disease; he may have been struggling with bipolar illness as well as depression; he found aging to be a ponderous and difficult process - makes his choice perhaps less mystifying.

But it doesn't make it one bit easier to accept.

I will admit sometimes I feel like I should have been asked. "Is it okay with you if I just go now?" I would have answered him: "No. No, it is not okay with me. No one else makes me laugh quite like you. I feel like you know me - even though I know you don't. Please stay. Promise me you will."

Watching someone we love lose their battle with depression kindles a bit of that same capitulation in each of us.

I am definitely no exception.

In times like these, I can't help but remember my first big suicide scare. It was in college. One night the bottom just dropped out of me. I ended up in a local ER. The nurse diagnosed me with a "runaway eating disorder" and recommended counseling.

That night was the first time I'd ever considered there was an "it" ruining my life - that it wasn't just me screwing things up all by myself.

I felt hopeful, but also very scared. Suicide seemed, well, easier, and certainly quicker, than fixing what was wrong with me.

In fact, the "terrible twins" of cyclical anxiety and depression have stalked me nearly all my life, but I was in my early 30's (and newly in strong recovery from the eating disorder) before I had enough energy to notice.

Many, many times in the in-between years, I continued to toy with vague notions of suicide. Usually these were couched in the form of remote philosophical queries: "I wonder - just hypothetically speaking of course - if I drove off this cliff, how long would it take before anyone noticed?"

As a traveling marketer living out of state and away from her family and friends at that time, I had many weeks and months on the road to ponder all possible answers.

Later on, as the anxious and depressive cycles widened and deepened, thoughts of suicide became more functional. Recognizing my addictive personality by this point, I was terrified to take drugs (prescription or otherwise), and yet I couldn't make heads or tails of how to end the unbearable cycling any other way, other than the obvious.

After a long course of neurotherapy treatment, I began to experience some relief from the anxiety.

Then all of a sudden the depression worsened again. Neurotherapy didn't help this time.

Finally, through a truly strange series of twists and turns, I began to take anti-depressants at last. This was three years ago.
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Celebrity Mentors

Jane Goodall Answers a Questionnaire

I can't help but find it oh-so interesting that, just a few days after posting my thoughts on the relative value of online quizzes, I encounter another quiz I really want to take.

Although here I feel that perhaps the deck is unfairly stacked against me.

You see, Jane Goodall, one of my heroes and mentors, happens to be the latest in a long line of luminaries to answer this particular quiz.

And Marcel Proust is the quiz's long-passed yet still celebrated author.

I loved Goodall's responses. For many of the questions, a simple switch of "parrots" for "chimps" and her answers could be my own.

Not that that means I could resist taking the quiz for myself.

In fact, I have decided I will take the quiz right here.....for reasons including these:

The questions feel very pertinent to recovery, mentoring, relationships, and life - they are questions from which we might all benefit by discovering our own inner answers.
I suspect this is precisely the kind of quiz my mentor would encourage me to take, because it encourages me to tap into my inner wisdom and intuition rather than asking others what they think (or, even worse, comparing my responses with others' responses).

So....here goes! 
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Celebrity Mentors

RIP Robin Williams


Well, shoot.

It is awfully hard to believe he is gone.

I am so very sad!!

In a recent Facebook post about his death, Williams' friend, writer Anne Lamott, shared how sad she is, and also shared how she has always viewed laughter as "carbonated holiness."

As a fellow depression sufferer, I too have found much-needed upliftment and release through laughter....and often through laughter at Williams' antics.

He had that rarest of gifts - the vision to perceive exactly where the fine line lies when addressing serious subjects from a lighthearted perspective.

Two of my favorite Robin Williams movies are "Good Morning, Vietnam" and "Good Will Hunting."

But my current reigning favorite is this six-minute interview clip from 2011.

In the clip, Williams speaks about his work, his life, his kids, his childhood and young adult years, his fame, his addiction, his recovery.....and his fear.
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