Archives for Mentoring

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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Mentoring

Coping with Comparison Envy


"Comparison envy."

For me at least, this is what happens when I start thinking about how I want my life to be different.

Then I start thinking about people I know (or don't know).

Then I start assuming their lives are working out in ways mine is not.

Then I get jealous of them.

If left unchecked, such ruminations can go on for minutes....days....or my whole life.

I can spend my whole life immersed in comparison envy - jealous of my own imaginings of how much better someone else's life/relationship/body image/income/success is than mine.

It goes without saying that the side effects of comparison envy are equally unpleasant.
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Inspirational

A Makeup-Free Year


The other day I was scheduled to do a media interview.

I hadn't done one of those in awhile, but I still remembered the drill.

RULE #1Wear makeup on camera, or risk appearing to have actually died during the interview.

(Not ideal under any circumstances, but especially not when you are filming a television spot about eating disorders!)

And I was totally prepared to make sure I looked alive and kicking on camera....except for one tiny detail.

I couldn't locate my makeup.

To make matters worse, the day before I had finally taken the plunge and dyed my hair raven black with purple highlights.

Which meant the most likely outcome would unfold as follows:

Pale skin + black hair + harsh TV lighting = on-camera Zombie.

Otherwise, however, all this was pretty cool.

I've pretty much been makeup-free for months now, and I hadn't even noticed!

Thinking back, I'm pretty sure it started last fall when my boyfriend and I were driving down to Galveston (where Houstonians like us go when we want to visit the beach). We were talking about a show we'd seen on dramatic makeovers, plastic surgery, etc.

I shared how I'd seen some of my Facebook friends posting pics of themselves without makeup to celebrate "Makeup-Free Day." He laughed and said, "Makeup-Free DAY? How about Makeup-Free YEAR?!"

I thought that was a pretty cool idea.
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Inspirational

Every Day, I Wake Up and Prepare to Die


A few days ago, I blogged about what I do each morning to wake up and fully prepare to live another 24 hours.

However, there is another facet of my process I didn't share in that post, which is preparing for our own death daily.

I have found much of my light through a daily meditation practice, which includes as much study and service as it does actual meditation.

In one of my study sessions, I read an essay on the topic of preparing for your own death that I've never forgotten.

The story went like this:

A man approached a great king asking for self-knowledge. The day he arrived happened to be the day of the annual kingdom-wide fair, and there were festivities everywhere! Magicians, jugglers, fire walks, jousts - it was nearly too much for the simple country man to take in! In answer to his request, the King replied, "Take this bowl of water and walk through the streets all the way to the end, then turn around and walk back. If even one drop of the water in that bowl spills, I will have my best swordsman cut off your head!" 

The man was floored....terrified....and (being as how it was the King and he couldn't just take back his request and leave) determined not to let one drop of water spill from the bowl. He walked very carefully, keeping his eyes firmly fixed on the bowl. He looked nowhere else. Somehow he made it all the way there and back to the King without spilling one drop. Then he asked, "Why did you ask me to do that?" 
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