Archives for Mentoring

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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A World Inhabited by Ideas

I am nearly finished reading Elizabeth Gilbert's new book, "Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear."

While reading "Big Magic," I have learned all of the following:

It is normal (like, on a biological as well as an emotional and social level) to feel fear before, during and after creating.
It is more important to see an idea through than to see it through perfectly.
Curiosity trumps passion....every time.
We are all creative - whether we think we are (or others think we are) or not.

But by far the most intriguing thing I have learned is this - ideas are alive.

From the chapter called "How Ideas Work:"

I believe that our planet is inhabited not only by animals and plants and bacteria and viruses, but also by ideas. Ideas are a disembodied, energetic life-form. They are completely separate from us, but capable of interacting with us - albeit strangely. Ideas have no material body, but they do have consciousness, and they most certainly have will. Ideas are driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest. And the only way an idea can be made manifest in our world is through collaboration with a human partner. 


So if I don't opt in, these poor idea-beings will spend their whole disembodied lives attempting to change my mind? 
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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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Finding a Replacement for Worry

This week I worked up the courage to try again to meditate on my new New Year's intention, to "have faith."

As I prepared to do this, I remembered my first lesson about faith from last week.

So I went right away to the intersection of resistance (mind) and "because I said so" (heart), eagerly expecting.....something.

What I got instead was worry.

What if faith isn't really there after all?

What if I can't find my way back to those exact coordinates?

What if faith ends up being totally different than I expected it to be, and I don't like it, and I decide I don't want any after all....?

Needless to say, my mind had come along with me with equal eagerness - and plenty of worries.

And in that moment, it hit me. My mind worries a LOT.

I mean, A LOT.

It is both an active and an expert worrier, so for it, suddenly "having faith" is akin to giving up both its best skill and most favorite hobby cold turkey. 
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The GPS Coordinates of “Faith”

In my last post, I shared my New Year's intention to "have faith."

Setting the intention itself went fairly well, I thought.

So perhaps I was feeling a touch over-optimistic about how smoothly the rest of the process might go.

That ended this morning, when my very first meditation around the phrase "have faith" quickly devolved into a vigorous inner argument.

"Let's meditate on 'have faith,'" I suggested to my mind.

In what....?" my mind replied.

"Just have faith."

"But in WHAT?"


Needless to say, this wasn't going well. 
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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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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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