Relearning Self-Forgiveness

By Shannon Cutts • 3 min read
My beautiful parrot, Pearl, pretending he is going to fly away.

My beautiful parrot, Pearl, pretending he is going to fly away (even though we both know full well he can’t fly).

A few weeks back I posted about my journey towards releasing false self-esteem.

I really loved reading your comments on this post – thank you!

As part of my work to release false self-esteem, I have discovered I also need to re-learn how to forgive myself.

To start with, I am noticing some things are easier to forgive myself for than other things.

For example, right or wrong, it would seem I can forgive myself for transgressions against myself without even breathing hard. (“Oh, it was only me who got hurt – oh, well, then, no big deal!”)

More challenging is to forgive myself for transgressions – accidental or otherwise – against others (in order of difficulty – most to least: family, friends, acquaintances, total strangers).

Nearly impossible is forgiving myself for any transgression that may have put an innocent (my pets, any animal, a child) in harm’s way.

Yet in this new “re-learning self-forgiveness regimen,” forgiving myself for all of the above is not optional.

If I am going to learn – I mean really learn – to forgive myself, I can’t just do the easy ones and call it a lesson learned. I have to be able to forgive myself no matter what.

Ack.

Here is an example of particularly challenging one I’m working on now:

The other day I was on the phone with my best friend. She was in tears – I had taken care of her during her eye surgery, and she was telling me she had been taking her eye drops in the wrong order. I was the one who was in charge of reading the directions and organizing her drops. While we were talking, my parrot started screaming. He was very loud, but my friend was very upset, so I ignored him. He screamed for at least 10 minutes (probably longer) before I went to check on him. When I did, I discovered he was on the floor and unable to get back to his cage (he can’t fly so if he ends up on the floor he needs me to help lift him back up to safety).

So here, there are two main areas where I need to forgive myself:

  • The eye drops oops.
  • The parrot rescue oops.

Where I’m at with the eye drops oops

Continue reading… »



(Not) Sexy Baby

By Shannon Cutts • 4 min read

Netflix can be a blessing or a curse.

SexyBabyMovieTruthfully, sometimes I have trouble figuring out which is which on any given day.

Case in point – the other day, I loaded a movie called “Sexy Baby” into my queue.

The synopsis stated: This provocative documentary examines what it’s like to be female in today’s sex-obsessed culture from the viewpoints of three very different women.

Okay….interesting, right?

And also depressing, frustrating, mind-boggling, rage-producing, and “I’m so over this issue” fatiguing.

The film centers around the completely separate lives of three women:

  • A NYC tween named Winnifred, 12 years old.
  • An assistant kindergarten teacher named Laura, 22 years old.
  • A former porn star/pole dancer named Nichole, 32 years old.
Winnifred, age 12.

Winnifred, age 12.

For reasons likely having to do with both interest and footage, the film largely hones in on Winnifred, who at 12 (she is 14 when the film closes) admittedly has the toughest challenges of her life yet ahead.

Near the end, she says:

I think this is the same with every teenager. You are going through so many changes, and it is so freaking confusing to figure out how you want to portray yourself. And there’s a lot of girls just exploiting themselves and putting themselves out there to be judged by guys and other girls. But at certain point, if you don’t want to become a prop in some guy’s life, you have to find a goal and a path. And I do want to change people’s lives. Um…and I’m not going to do that by being sexy. 

Winnifred is right. However, the fact that she knows this, and can articulate it, at age 14, is an insight many teens her age likely yet lack.

As well, it is easy to forget while watching “Sexy Baby” that these three women are people first and “props” (for the filmmakers to explore an issue common to all three) second. There is a lot of nudity, no small bit of rank language, an uncomfortably bloody moment in the operating room (Laura opts to have her labiaplasty on camera), and a number of terms from the adult film industry all jumbled in with the human beings living amongst it all.

Yet each woman has her own life that she is doing her best to live with what she knows in each moment as it unfolds.

Continue reading… »



Baby Steps to Tortoise Mama-hood

By Shannon Cutts • 2 min read
My Malti on her very first day home with me (I was so nervous I drove over to my own folks' house for help caring for her!)

My Malti on her very first day home with me (I was so nervous I drove over to my own folks’ house for help caring for her!)

Can I just say I thought being a tortoise mama would be easier?

I kept several water turtles when I was a girl, and it felt smooth and simple (of course maybe this was because my mom was the real “keeper of the torts” and I just fed and admired them….and fled when it was water-changing time!)

But for years I had wanted a tortoise (land turtle) and one day, after a bit too much “bad day” for my taste, I got on Craig’s List.

The next thing I knew I was driving home with a tortoise the size of a silver dollar sitting in a tiny tupperware in my front passenger seat.

It has been like this ever since.

She is 1 year old this month, and I don’t feel any more confident (well, only marginally more) than I did on that very first day.

One of the hardest things about being Malti’s mom is not knowing where to go to get my questions answered.

With my parrot, Pearl, there are loads of amazing cockatiel groups and communities with wonderful peeps who eagerly respond to all my queries.

It is not the same with Malti.

Continue reading… »



A Pomegranate a Day for Patience

By Shannon Cutts • 1 min read
There they all are - fresh, delicious seeds - so close and yet so far away!

There they all are – fresh, delicious seeds – so close and yet so far away!

I adore pomegranate season.

Pomegranates are so juicy and tasty – like a sweet and a nut all in one.

What I do not love is de-seeding the pomegranates.

In short, it is crazy-making.

My boyfriend, on the other hand, finds peeling pomegranates relaxing.

He says it is like meditation.

(Obviously this works out to both our advantage – I buy, he peels, we both eat).

I love meditation and do it daily, so it is odd I don’t find the same quality in peeling fruit.

But truthfully, my “efficiency-oriented” brain always thinks it can improve the pomegranate de-seeding process.

I start peeling, and then a thought pops up. “Hey, look how easy that last group of seeds came off. What if you did the next section this way instead….”

Before I know it, I’m trying to outsmart the pomegranate, creating a faster, more streamlined approach to de-seeding.

This is about the same time the pomegranate pushes back. 

Continue reading… »



How I am Learning to Fly

By Shannon Cutts • 2 min read
Me, during one of my rare moments of liftoff.

Me, “flying,”…..sort of.

Last year my boyfriend and I watched a very sad (but good) movie.

It was called “Now is Good.”

One scene featured some kind of flying contraption – you went inside a clear tube, and somehow it made you float in the air.

Of course, I thought the filmmakers just made it up – something cool you can only do in movies.

When I found out the flying contraption is a real thing called ‘iFly,’ and that the newest one had just been built in the city of Houston where I live, I signed us right up!

Being a parrot mommy and all, I assumed I would be a natural.

Plus, I was so eager to discover if real-life flying would feel like the flying I do in my dreams (which feels very floaty yet controlled, and so wonderful!)

When we got to iFly, we quickly got all oriented and suited up (our ensemble included a full “flight suit,” goggles, ear plugs, AND helmet).

Then we entered the flying chamber, where we discovered the way we would fly is to be hit from below by 170 mph gusts of artificial “wind.”

When the instructors did it, they looked graceful and confident, like human birds.

When my boyfriend did it, he was a pure natural – he said it was so relaxing he nearly fell asleep in the chamber.

When I did it, I felt like a giant (and really pissed off) bird had just chewed me up, swallowed me, and then spit me back out again.

I emerged shaking and sweating, drool coating my chin and the top of my neck (the wind blew my mouth open and my saliva took its chance and made a break for it).

Continue reading… »



You Have Friendly Mentors All Around You

By Shannon Cutts • 1 min read
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. 

Continue reading… »



I Kissed a Spider (and it wasn’t awful)

By Shannon Cutts • 2 min read
Perhaps if my many-legged visitors looked like this I wouldn't be so quick to the trigger!

Perhaps if my many-legged visitors looked like this I wouldn’t be so quick to the trigger!

Well, not exactly.

But at least I didn’t kill it.

That – for me – is major progress.

Lately I’ve found myself having a number of conversations about why we human beings spare – or kill – what we choose to spare or kill.

Growing up, my family lived in a humid place near a bayou, so every day was like a brand new episode of “Bugs Gone Wild.”

I got used to killing with impunity (the other option being the possibility of ingesting, being bitten by, and/or sleeping with whatever creepy-crawly I was staring at at that particular moment).

But then I started meditating….and studying teachers like the Dalai Lama (a bug pacifist if I’ve ever met one).

Enter guilt.

From an interview with the Dalai Lama:

His Holiness particularly emphasized the role of education in developing compassion so that intellectual development is concurrent with moral development. He urged that children should be taught the value of compassion when they are small. He said that Tibetan parents teach their children not to kill insects and the children grow up to value all life. If children do not value insect life, that can be a slippery slope to devaluing all life.

Yet, when asked (by Oprah) if he ever needed to forgive himself for something, His Holiness stated:

My attitude towards mosquitoes is not very favorable, not very peaceful. Bed bugs also. 

Continue reading… »



My Struggles with Evil

By Shannon Cutts • 4 min read
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. 

Continue reading… »



Traveling Along the Continuum

By Shannon Cutts • 2 min read

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. 

Continue reading… »



To Love is to Struggle (Thank Goodness!)

By Shannon Cutts • 2 min read

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!): 

Continue reading… »



 
 

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  • Shannon Cutts: You are so welcome, Kristi!
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