Mentoring Articles

You Have Friendly Mentors All Around You

Thursday, January 29th, 2015
One of my own friendly (and very feathery) mentors delivers important New Year's inspiration!

One of my own friendly (and very feathery) mentors delivers important New Year’s inspiration!

So we are well into the first month of January 2015!

How is it going so far?

For me, it is quite exciting!

But then again, that is because these days, I find the unknown, the unexpected, the un-plannable, energizing and fun.

When I was sick with an eating disorder, this was NOT the case.

I have had to learn that (as one of my favorite mentors, Byron Katie, often says):

“This is a friendly universe.”

So beautiful.

But her words alone didn’t convince me – oh no. 


My Struggles with Evil

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015
This is (of course) very simplistic, but here is a photograph I took of some oranges. Are they evil, good, or just oranges?

This is (of course) very simplistic, but here is a photograph I took of some oranges. Are they evil, good, or just oranges? This is how I feel sometimes, trying to detect and label the presence of “evil” with any accuracy.

“Evil” is not a word I am comfortable with.

Part of the problem is its range.

“Evil” can be used to describe anything from a bad temper (“an evil disposition”) to a bad cup of coffee (“that is just evil!”) to a bad person (“s/he is evil to the core”) to something bad we can’t even comprehend (“I felt the presence of evil”).

Evil can also be applied in both religious and secular situations (although the latter tends to talk in terms of “positive and negative,” “white and black,” “light and dark”).

In this way, using the word “evil” feels more like a description or a judgment – in other words, more like an adjective than a noun or verb.

But where I have no real issue in cases where one person’s opinion may be that the coffee is stale and another’s is that it is fresh, I don’t like to think of “evil” as a matter of personal opinion.

It is a strong enough term that any use of the word should be (in my, um, opinion) definitive.

For instance, let’s say there is a fire raging. Someone yells “fire!” and everyone makes a run for it, injuring or even trampling others in the process.

No one wants to find out later that the person who yelled only thought s/he saw fire.

In the same way, if a fire is on the loose, we don’t want a situation where a person in a position to issue an alert isn’t sure what to call it or if it is dangerous and so hesitates to sound the alarm.

And while I feel like I have a deep inner faith that presents itself to me at the level I can open to it, I don’t personally process evil in religious terms.

It feels like it must be broader than “just” religious or “just” secular (or even scientific) to be classified as such.

This means that sometimes I wonder if evil is “real” – in the sense there is a spectrum ranging from “very good” to “very bad” and evil is just a hair beyond all of that. 


Traveling Along the Continuum

Monday, January 19th, 2015

If you ask me, I think Netflix is one of the most wonderful inventions ever.

It has everything from nature documentaries to crime dramas to sci-fi thrillers – in short, all my favorites!

Since I find great mentoring through movies and television programs, this means a) I am choosy about what I watch, and b) I watch a lot of things to find what I am looking for.

Recently I’ve been absolutely hooked on a series called “Continuum.”

'Nuff said!!

‘Nuff said!!

The central character is a young wife and mom named Kiera. Kiera is a “protector” – a cop in the year 2077. She takes her job very seriously (and has a whole suite of cool gadgets, including a metallic gold suit, to help her reel in criminals).

Then one day, in an attempt to prevent the escape of a group of convicted terrorists, Kiera gets zapped back in time to the year 2012.

Suffice it to say she finds this very challenging on multiple levels.

When I looked up the definition of continuum, my favorite one reads like this:

[A] continuous series of elements or items that vary by such tiny differences that they do not seem to differ from each other.

A runner-up favorite:

[A]nything that goes through a gradual transition.

I never used to think I liked time travel movies or television shows, but somehow this one really resonates. Perhaps it is because I see myself in Kiera.

Even in 2077, Kiera somehow seems a lone wolf, slow to trust, vulnerable to those she has allowed in to her inner world, with a warrior spirit she doesn’t always understand.

In the year 2012, watching her attempts to find her place in a city both vaguely familiar and totally alien reminds me of myself.

From the time I was old enough to call myself “me,” I have felt a little separate, apart, alone. I have struggled not to play the “lone wolf,” to accept my place here, to permit myself to bond, to connect, to fit in.

So as I watch Kiera struggle to make a place for herself, forge new connections, find patience with her situation, and work for good because that is how she is wired (no matter how much she misses her family and her home in 2077), something in me resonates. 


To Love is to Struggle (Thank Goodness!)

Friday, January 16th, 2015

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!): 


Releasing False Low Self-Esteem

Friday, January 9th, 2015
All I have to do to remember what natural self-esteem looks and acts like is to hang out with my naturally confident baby tortoise, Malti (show here with a tasty green UFO in-mouth).

All I have to do to remember what natural self-esteem looks and acts like is to hang out with my naturally confident baby tortoise, Malti (show here with a tasty green UFO in-mouth).

I have been working on this lately.

In fact, in the last couple weeks alone I have been hearing a (surprisingly sane) voice in my head giving me very clear instructions.

Here are some examples:

  • It is time to give up this “body hate” business.
  • It is time to let go of your so-called low self-esteem.
  • It is time to release your fearfulness around money….and everything, really. 

These messages feel like some kind of inner knowing, combined with an inner call to action – a reminder that time’s a’ wasting, and I only have so many years left to be as happy as I possibly can be as me.

Often I hear the “it is time” messages in the morning while I am meditating.

Often emotions will arise, and then the messages will come.

I will then breathe and do my level best to release the emotions I am feeling – fear, anger, disbelief, whatever – into my meditation.

Sometimes I will get a message reminding me that it is okay if I don’t understand the emotion I am feeling – what matters is to release it into the meditation so it can be free of me (and me of it).

So I always do my best to follow these instructions to the letter.

I have started to call the issues I am releasing “false low self-esteem,” because I can’t trace the origin of any one of them back to me. 


Navigating Big Changes

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015
Image courtesy of IMDb.

Image courtesy of IMDb.

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. 


The Year of Living Intuitively

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

shutterstock_3193588So yesterday morning was New Year’s Day….my FAVORITE day of each new year.

Even though, technically, January 1 is just one day in a year full of days, for me, it always feels reliably fresh and special.

This particular New Year’s Day feels especially fresh and special because it ushers in some big changes in my life (more about that in my next post!)

To celebrate, I decided to sleep in and meditate for as long as I felt moved to do so – no rushing myself through it so I could rise and do “more important things.”

I’m so glad I did, because my New Year’s Intention was right there and waiting for me.

My meditation revealed that, for me, 2015 is “The Year of Living Intuitively.”

This makes perfect sense, because I am stepping out of some long-term career commitments and into new unknown beginnings.


Your Journey is Well Worth Your Effort

Monday, December 29th, 2014
Celebrating the arrival of a whole new year with my fav feathery sidekick!

Celebrating the arrival of a whole new year with my fav feathery sidekick!

Well here we are – once again, it is nearly time for a brand new year to launch!

I always get so excited when a new year arrives.

It feels like encountering a giant blank chalkboard, complete with the most marvelous array of colored chalk.

The chalkboard is all mine – as is the chalk. Whatever I draw on the chalkboard is what will unfold in the year to come.

(By the way, I actually do this at home – I have a big wall-sized chalkboard and lots of colored chalk, and all year long I continue editing and adding new dreams to my chalk board).

I can thank my ongoing recovery journey for this wonderful way of welcoming a new year.


What Happens When the Journey Ends (a Tracks Postcript)

Sunday, December 7th, 2014
IMAGE: ROBYN DAVIDSON ON THE COVER OF NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC 1978 (RICK SMOLAN/AGAINST ALL ODDS PRODUCTIONS)

IMAGE: ROBYN DAVIDSON ON THE COVER OF NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC 1978 (RICK SMOLAN/AGAINST ALL ODDS PRODUCTIONS)

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?


Tracks: What Robyn Davidson is Teaching Me about Journeys

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

TracksBookLet 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, I, too, was embarking upon a solo adventure. Mine was to India and Israel, hers through the Australian desert.

But I will confess it took me many more years since then to unpack even a portion of the wisdom she unearthed within herself during her 1,700 mile journey.

For the record, it also seems pertinent here to mention I have never once in my life had even the merest inkling of desire to walk across any large, hot, dangerous body of sand accompanied only by camels and a dog.

Clearly, my life is the poorer for it.

During the early stages of her journey, Davidson frequently gave in to bouts of panic, which, to hear her tell it, were largely initiated by intense inner battles between the order/regime/structure she had previously relied on and the freedom to live in the moment that desert life demanded.

As the desert’s ever-changing environment did its work on her and she slowly learned the wisdom of opting for the latter, her panic eased and inner wisdom arose in its place.

That inner wisdom was – is – as timeless and profound as the desert itself (click here for amazing vintage photos from her journey).

Davidson on her love of animals:

I am quite sure Diggity [her canine companion through the desert] was more than dog, or rather other than dog….She combined all the best qualities of dog and human and was a great listener…..The trip, of necessity, had brought me much closer to all the animals, but my relationship with Diggity was something special. There are very few humans with whom I could associate the word …


 

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