Archives for Inspirational


We are Ego + Spirit (thank goodness)

So I have finally come to the end of Elizabeth Gilbert's wonderful book, "Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear."

Or (though it typically irks me when others say this) maybe I've come to the beginning.

When I am drawn to a new mentoring influence, I've noticed that one of the siren songs I absolutely cannot resist is the mentor's ability to marry the mundane (the itsy bitsy small stuff) with the profound (the unknowable, unfathomable, beyond all efforts of the mind to reach it).

Gilbert does this stunningly well in "Big Magic." In each story I find bits of both combined in ways that make me feel like we all belong here together, doing what we do, being who we are, struggling with what we struggle with and excelling at what we excel at.

It is a lovely gift - especially so soon into the New Year.

Right near the end of the book, there is a chapter called "Hungry Ghosts." In this chapter, Gilbert addresses the realization that we are more than "just" any one aspect.

For example, we are - or we have - an ego, and we have - or we are - also a soul.

The Hungry Ghost is our ego, which the Buddhists say is, "forever famished, eternally howling with need and greed."

The howling comes in when the ego gets coddled, perhaps over-fed with the food it likes best, which is success, praise, recognition, reward.

We all have it - this ego presence - that bottomless pit that is so deep and vast and empty that no amount of food can fill it.

But we also have a soul. 
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Animal Mentors

Help Me Make Amazing Happen (A Service Dog for FuMing Cutts)

You probably noticed the last name - FuMing Cutts - yup, we are related. :-)

FuMing, or we like to call him "Ming" for short, is my youngest nephew. But along with hope, intelligence, strength, courage and the love of his new forever family, Ming brought with him trauma.

He brought remembered grief for his birth mom who abandoned him when he was one day old (likely because she couldn't afford the many surgeries his cleft palate would in time require).

He brought PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) from the many months when he basically starved because no one at the orphanage knew how to properly feed a cleft palate baby.

And he brought fear from all those moments before he came into our family when he didn't know if he would belong to anyone, anywhere, ever. 
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Good News

How I KNOW Body Love is Possible

Over the years, I have detected a pattern to how I tend to do "personal growth."

First, I whine and moan about how I really want something - let's say body acceptance - and I complain about how hard I've been working and why haven't I achieved it yet...?

Then I work really hard some more, and I keep working and working and working.

Then one day, or week, or year, I wake up and there it is - that thing I've been working so hard to achieve. It is sitting calmly on the end of my bed, just waiting for me to open my eyes so it can enjoy the shocked look on my face.

Over the past year, I have had just such a surprise visitor - body acceptance. 
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How Star Wars is Helping on My Quest for Faith

I was 7 when I first saw "Star Wars."

I think I saw it at least 7 times in the months after it was released.

For years, I chose "Princess Leia" as my Halloween costume (which thankfully at least kept overall costume costs low in our household).

In the interim months and years, my brother and I compiled a massive collection of closely guarded action figures, stored carefully away in our own separate black "Darth Vader" carrying cases.

Why? What was the obsession? Why did I have Luke Skywalker posters on my wall instead of Duran Duran? In a phrase - The Force.

Ohhhhh how I wanted it.

In hindsight, The Force may have actually been my first formal introduction to the concept of "faith"....years before I would learn about monks, meditation and the like.

On that note, it seems a rather too fortuitous coincidence that the latest movie episode of Star Wars came out one day before my 45th birthday (December 19, 2015) and less than two weeks before January 1, 2016, which kicked off my Year of Having Faith.

Perhaps I thought that if I just kept watching the movies and collecting the action figures, The Force would become real, decide it liked me and show me where I could find my own personal Yoda.

On that note, perhaps The Force was also my first real taste of the power of mentoring (about which this blog and, basically, everything else I do is based).

Maybe the relationship my youthful self envied - the bond between Luke and his teachers, Ben and Yoda - was what has driven me for so many years to seek out mentors of my own.

I also remember how angry I was when after that very first viewing of the original Star Wars. 
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The Year of Having Faith

Over the last few years, I have gotten into the habit of setting an intention around the start of each new year.

Last year was: "The Year of Living Intuitively."

Overall, I feel like I have made good progress in this area over the past 12 months. Today, I listen more to my gut and less to my head - at least most of the time. Happily, I have also discovered this gives me more peace of mind and far fewer headaches.

But when I asked my newfound intuition what this year's intention would be, its answer surprised me.

"Have faith," it told no uncertain terms.

"Have faith?" I replied, "Are you SURE?"

It was sure. 
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Good News

Learning to Be On Your Own Side

I am always in awe right around this time of year.

This is because I realize: a) a whole year has just gone by, and b) a whole new year is just about to arrive.

Wow. When did all this happen?!

But in recent years my awe has increased as I've realized I am no longer looking to a fresh new year to solve all the issues and problems the tired old year didn't get around to dealing with.

I no longer wake up on January 1st, New Year's Day, hoping and expecting a miracle to have unfolded overnight.

This is because the miracle has already occurred - and it happened a long time ago. 
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On the Topic of Other People’s Good Fortune

So here we are, on the cusp of another full year of 365 bright shiny new days.

What are you going to do with yours?

I have to admit, I used to spend a LOT of mine wallowing in jealousy.

Oh I was so envious!

Envious of colleagues for succeeding so much faster and more than me.

Envious of girlfriends who had boyfriends.

Envious of friends with fat bank accounts and exciting travel plans (it was usually easy for me to overlook the presence of their boring day jobs while in the grips of yet another jealous fit).

Envious of the beautiful people - the ones who could go jogging in 110 degree heat and still look sleek and sexy and not at all winded.

Envy, envy, envy. It showed up in every one of those 365 days - on the best and the worst and the days in between.

In short, I wasted a lot of fresh, shiny new days wishing I was somebody else living somebody else's life.

I don't do that anymore.

How did I make the switch?

One day I started to tune in not just to my envious thoughts, but to how they made me feel (they made me feel pretty miserable and hopeless, in case you are wondering).

I also started to notice how happy and good I felt when in the presence of rare moments where I felt genuine happiness for someone else's success.

Right around this time, the life coach I was working with at the time told me I should watch with great attentiveness what I was jealous or envious of in someone else's life, because this showed me what I most wanted in my own life.

She was right. She was very, VERY right.

She also shared that the deep resonance I was feeling with those things I was envying indicated I might just have it in me to achieve the same. She told me I resonated with those things, those experiences, because they were already inside me too somewhere. 
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Celebrity Mentors

What is Your REAL Job?

I love. That's just what the f*** I do.

So clearly her work as a writer, author, speaker, teacher, shop keeper and all the rest is in service to her real job, which is "to love."

SO beautiful.

While I am currently hard-put to define my real job so succinctly as Gilbert does, I am working on it. And I know it is not writing, even though I love it the most out of any job I've ever done. 
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45 Years Old and Oh So Proud

So today is the day - I am officially 45!

I have a few friends who are my same age, but most are either younger or older than I am.

So it has been interesting to witness how they approach so-called "milestone" birthdays.

Some say nothing - whether because they don't really care much, or perhaps because they are busy pretending they are a different age and don't want to blow their own cover.

Some make a big deal about it - but usually not in a good way. For instance, turning 40 tends to be one where the reaction has been what I call "negative positivity" - such as, "Well, 40 is the new 30."

Personally, I wouldn't be 30 again for ANYTHING.

I was a single-celled organism well into my 20' least mentally and emotionally-speaking. I knew much less than I thought I knew and felt hardly any of what I did actually know.

I was still stuck inextricably in the thicket of depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder, hopping from school to school, then job to job, then country to country.

I had no idea "me" was comprised of a body, mind, heart and spirit - I thought "my body" was "me" (which also explains why everything revolved around a number on a scale instead of something both more substantial and less simple).

Those were not easy years.

Things got easier later in my 30's....somewhat. I had an early midlife crisis, in which I realized in a flash one day that life the way I had lived it until then was simply insupportable.

In other words, I had to change my ways or die. 
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Animal Mentors

Mentors with Feathers

Approximately three years ago, I went to Cape Cod with my folks for our annual getaway.

While I was gone, I started to miss my parrot, Pearl, very badly.

I was already writing his blog, Love & Feathers, so I started re-reading past posts to see if that would help ease the ache.

It just got worse.

Then I started looking through the photos I've taken of him over the years. Right about that point I realized I had several thousand photos of Pearl - more than every other type of photo I've ever taken (from the moment I was born or when they first invented the camera, take your pick) combined.

Since reading old blog posts and looking at old pictures wasn't helping, my next attempt focused on writing.

In years past, I have often journaled - either through physically writing in a journal or (more frequently) writing songs. So I began to journal out some of my favorite stories about my life with Pearl.

This helped.

It helped me not just feel closer to Pearl on the inside while we were so far apart on the outside, but it also helped me feel less anxious about his approaching double-digit  birthday and how I might cope once he and I are separated by more than just geography.

So I kept writing....and writing. 
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