Archives for Shannon Cutts

Mentoring

Being Alone Versus Lonely


Ahhhh.....alone time.

I used to simultaneously crave and dread it.

(This was because I was such terrible company to spend time with.)

Today, I just crave it.

Sometimes I crave it so much I struggle when it becomes clear it is time to go be with people again.

As an introvert, I do most of my recharging by being alone, but every so often that balance swings so far to one side that I need to go do a different kind of recharging by being with people.

Often, the signal I get that this is what is needed is depression (yuck).

I start to notice falling self-worth, fearfulness about the future, dread of being lonely (as opposed to being alone - in my life today, these are two very different experiences).

When "alone" turns to "lonely," it is time to step out.

But unless I am in one of those rare cycles, I gain so much from keeping company with myself. 
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Mentoring

My Body, My Self-Worth


It happened again.

Even while I was still happily occupied with consuming my morning carbs, two brunching friends began discussing dieting.

One was on Adkins, the other just beginning some new diet focused on counting (and then subtracting) sugar calories.

Irked, I piped up with a gentle, "I hate diets. No diets!"

One friend (let's call her Ms. Sugar Calories) replied, "This isn't a diet. It is an eating plan."

The other friend (let's call her Ms. Protein) reinforced, "And the cravings really do go away after the first two weeks."

And we wonder why I don't get out much these days.

I mean, with all the pain and struggle in the world today, what IS it about whittling down our thighs (butt, belly, etc.) that has us so riveted?

I have a few friends who are further up in years than I am (I'm in my 40's, and they're in their 60's-70's) and STILL the obsession remains.

I don't want to be 70-something and still contemplating a tummy tuck.

I mean, to be perfectly frank, I don't want to be contemplating a tummy tuck at any age, but by the time I reach age 70, IF I reach age 70, I definitely plan to exempt myself from any further such contemplations.

I also don't want to diet. ever. again. And I don't plan to either.

Unfortunately - if I must admit it - this actually makes me feel left out sometimes.

This is because I don't have anything to add to this still-favorite topic amongst practically everyone I know....and my attempts to shut down the topic typically lead to equally unwelcome side conversations where I am simply left out entirely.

It is like the whole world is still happily sucking down heroin and I'm the sole token abstainer....and I'm also the only one who seems to be aware that the stuff is bad news, toxic, not to be trusted for, well, anything at all.

Worst of all, the part of my mind that is still recovering from my own 3-decade obsession with body shape and size often feels fragile enough to get sucked in, wondering if perhaps I should at least hear my friends out before assuming their shape and size issues don't apply to me.

What if they do?

The other day I tried to be companionable as my mom was talking about her new "healthy eating plan." I told her it sounded interesting and she should send me the link to learn more.

Really, I just wanted to check out this book and its author to be sure there wasn't anything dangerous about what my mom planned to try.

But in the process, somehow I communicated the idea that I was also interested in reducing belly fat and reshaping whatever remains.

It is all so frustrating.

Because it is not as if there isn't - potentially - belly fat to reduce or other areas to reshape. There certainly is that, if I wanted to go there.

And a part of my mind will probably always be interested in - and concerned about - this exact issue....and wanting to go there.

But here's the thing.
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Mentoring

If I Had Only Known


Today I went to the chiropractor, like I always do on Thursdays.

Afterwards (like I always do on Thursdays) I stopped at the cupcake shop.

I got my usual - hot chocolate (with whip) and a cupcake.

I love going in the cupcake shop.

The people are always so happy in there.

The counter staff, the customers, even the "frosters" - visible through a glass wall as they work hard to frost and decorate cupcake after cupcake - everyone is smiling.

And why not - we are all there for a sweet treat, whether for ourselves, for others, or both. No one is there to have a root canal or pay their taxes.

We are all happy, anticipating something tasty we don't get every day.

But today for some reason, as I left I remembered a time (actually a whole decade or two) when a visit to a cupcake shop wouldn't have made me happy at all.

I would have been anxious, miserable, stressed out.

I would have felt like all eyes were on me (instead of on the delicious colorful cupcakes in their little display cases).

I would have been oh-so-conscious of my body as it carried me into the cupcake shop, moved around, looked at everything, stressed some more.

And this would have been because, during these years, I didn't know there was any other path to happiness than through changing my body shape and size.

I didn't know I could be happy - ridiculously happy, actually - without being smaller too.

I had no idea I could live a totally happy, totally fulfilling life at a healthy weight, shape, and size for me.

If I had known this - had known that "happy" and "thinner" had nothing to do with each other - I don't think I would have tried so hard to change the way my body looked.

But I didn't know. 
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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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Emotions

Why I’m Afraid to Die


Yup. I said it.

I said the thing I said I would never say.

I said the thing I have sworn for years I do not feel.

But the other morning I woke up and realized I'm afraid to die.

Here are my reasons (not necessarily in this order):

I'm afraid I will be unhappy after I die.
I'm afraid I will be lonely after I die.
I'm afraid I won't be lonely (i.e. "death" will be crowded and chatty and my introverted self won't tolerate it well).
I'm afraid nothing will change after I die (if one is going to face a big fear like death, there'd better be a big payoff afterwards!)
I'm afraid dying will hurt - a lot.
I'm afraid I won't like death....and there's no take-back.

There are other fears too - but all seem to be variations on these basic themes.

As my longtime mentor knows, I really like to flow chart my life.
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Mentoring

Having a Body is Hard Work


A couple months ago I got very, very sick.

It was the kind of sick where you walk around the house muttering to yourself, "I am soooo sick," because you are so sick you are afraid you will forget how sick you are and attempt to do something stupid (like go to make tea and accidentally burn the house down instead).

I was so sick that even the tiniest, simplest daily tasks felt monumental.

Get out of bed. Whew. Check.

Brush teeth. Give me a minute on this one.

Shower. Not gonna happen.

Get back in bed. Whew. Check.

Making meals, brushing hair, changing clothes, answering emails (lucidly), applying deodorant....mostly, these things had to wait.

And in the couple of weeks it took to begin to heal, I found myself meditating daily on what a big responsibility it is to have a body to take care of! 
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Emotions

The Aftermath of Honesty

Have you ever been so honest with someone it made you feel sick?

Here, I'm not talking about saying something unkind in the heat of a moment, or having a fight, or speaking words you later decide you regret.

I'm talking about a genuine, honest, much-needed (and often long-delayed) sharing of your truth, at a level you never thought yourself capable of.

I'm talking about opening up your mouth and speaking out loud the kind of honest words that make you feel SO vulnerable, SO exposed, you actually look (maybe more than once) to see if you've sucker-punched yourself in the stomach.

I'm talking about the kind of honesty that is exceptionally painful, because to withhold it is to deny yourself, and to share it is to risk losing something (or someone) you very much want to hold on to.

I did this the other day.
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Inspirational

What Helps Me Find My Middle Way


The Dalai Lama talks a lot about finding a "middle way" to navigate through life's challenging issues.

When I hear the phrase "middle way," I often think about finding balance or moderation (which of course makes me want to find both and experience them!)

But liking the concept of the middle way is one thing, and actually achieving a daily practice of it is quite another.

Lately, as I progress through the first quarter of my self-described Year of Living Intuitively, I have become ever more fixated on finding a middle way within.

And since I have always needed a hands-on approach (aka something to "do" to participate in my own learning process) I have started noticing what helps me remember to seek a middle way and step back from extreme reactions.

Here are 2 examples.

Example 1: Construction 
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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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