Shannon Cutts

Mentoring’s Urban Tumbleweed

For many years of my life, I felt conspicuously out of place.

I was just sure that everybody around me was totally fixated on the outfit I had chosen, how I had styled my hair, that noticeable blemish on my forehead, my black socks and blue name it, I was sure everyone else was noticing it.

Which you and I both know they weren't.

Those other folks - the ones I was so convinced were following my every move - they didn't have time to keep up with me. They were too busy fixating on their own every move to have time to take note of mine as well.

People are people. We all fixate. None of us blend. We all fit in - or none of us do. We are all "normal"....or none of us are.

Or, like my bluegrass-loving dad used to tell us when we'd make a mistake on stage, "just do it twice - the audience will think you meant to play it like that."

I wish it hadn't taken so many years of my life to realize that Dad was right.

Animal Mentors

The Opposite of the Goal of Mentoring

I am just going to take my opportunity to state the obvious here.

Life is going to throw us some surprises.

We are going to feel disappointed, confused, hurt, clueless, hopeless, furious.

And sometimes when we are feeling any or all of those things, no one else will be around to talk to about it.

Over the years, I have watched myself struggle through these times, and later on I watched my mentees struggle as well.

I will never forget the night that one of my mentees, in the middle of just such a time as this, spent her precious sleep hours calling my fax line over and over and over again, hoping I would pick up.

This is not the goal of mentoring.

Animal Mentors

Our Furry, Feathered, Finned Mentors

On MentorCONNECT, the eating disorders mentoring community I run, we have a special group called "Creatures of Comfort." This group is a place where our members can post pictures of and talk about the animal companions who are such a source of strength, support, and comfort during the difficult recovery journey. Knowing about my love for my own feathered buddies, a friend recently recommended the most wonderful book to me. Hearing the title, "Wesley the Owl" I instantly wanted to read it.

For years, I have had dreams of owls. Mostly, the dreams have not been pleasant, happy, princess-wakes-to-gorgeous-rich-prince type dreams, but more scullery-maid-survives-dreadful-brush-with-death-to-learn-valuable-life-lesson type dreams.

And when I have these dreams, sometimes the owls are there.

Movie Mentors

Charting Our Recovery Course in Mentoring

Recently I watched the movie "Amelia," starring Hilary Swank in the title role of the legendary female pilot Amelia Earhart.

As I watched, I was struck again and again by Amelia's courage. And stamina. And vision.

Amelia knew where she was going. She knew what she wanted. She knew what she was capable of.

Long before anyone else did.

Sound like anyone you know?

Movie Mentors

With Mentors Like These

One of my favorite health and beauty activists is Darryl Roberts. This is not the first blog I have written that focuses on Darryl's work, nor will it be the last.

Darryl is the producer of "America the Beautiful", and every month he writes a nice long blog about his adventures traveling the country, speaking to folks of all ages about how they're doing, how they're feeling, and what we can each contribute to creating a planet that is more appreciative of the infinite variety of beauty we together represent.

In this month's blog, he shares that someone recently asked him what the human race's most valuable asset is.

For today's post, I wanted to share with you just a few of his thoughts on this subject:

What mankind needs desperately right now is the ability to love. Love is the most wonderful invention of mankind.


Mentoring Basics: Tuning in, Infant-style

I am an Auntie...and boy is that a great job!

Unfortunately I do not get to see my nephew and niece often enough as we do not live in the same city. ...which means that every time I do see them, I am literally speechless upon witnessing how much they have learned, and grown.

They also take after their mom and dad (and their aunt I hope!) in their musical abilities. Already there is a tiny piano set up in the corner, a small violin that my nephew enjoys as much for its stretchy strings as for its haunting melodies, and a small electric guitar (courtesy of yours truly).

In fact, my brother and sister-in-law have a third child who will arrive just in time for Christmas, which, with our family's background in bluegrass music, means the rest of us are already envisioning the next year's family-wide Christmas gift - a tiny replica of Jonas Brothers (and sister) for our listening pleasure.

Exciting times are definitely ahead!

Not to mention that (lest you spend too much more time wondering what all this has to do with mentoring) these kiddos have a lot to teach us about the kind of focus it takes to learn something recovery.

Shannon Cutts

When Our Brain Needs A Mentor

I subscribe to a number of newswire services that dump a new crop of body image and eating disorders articles into my inbox on a fairly regular basis.

Most of the time I just sift through, reading a headline here or there, maybe skimming a paragraph or two.

But last week, a headline caught my eye "Keira Knightley is rewiring my brain!" the title screamed.

"Uh oh," I thought to myself. "That is not what I want."

So of course I opened up the link and started to read. The fact is, these days I can barely force myself inside the doors of the Galleria, my city's super-huge, super-famous shopping mall, so furious do I instantly become upon being forced to stare at endless stores with their needle-thin mannequins, so at odds with the hoards of curvier shoppers browsing their merchandise shelves within.

Pretty much the moment I enter the Galleria, or any larger shopping center for that matter, my brain starts in...

Who do they think they are?


In Mentoring, What Would Ed Do?

Ed would stay sick.

Without a doubt.

Ed (for "eating disorder") is not the least bit interested in getting healthy. So when we hang out with Ed, all day every day, two things happen: 1. We start to look, walk, talk, and act like the company we keep (if you doubt me, just think of those folks who look like their pets)

2. We stay sick

So Ed is NOT a good mentor to least not if we want to recover.

But Ed is an excellent mentor for how to stay sick...and for how to die.


Mentoring’s First Steps

Mentoring for eating disorders recovery is at an interesting - and exciting - time in our growth and development. We are (even as I type this!) in the process of creating our own history and legacy (for more on this click here).

The other day I was telling my mentor, Lynn, that I marvel at my own role as founder of the first global eating disorders mentoring organization. In fact, I told Lynn that if I had been able to find a Twelve Step-based community where I lived that had a strong "recovered" presence, MentorCONNECT probably wouldn't exist today.

That is the truth.

When I was ill with my eating disorder in the 1980's and 1990's, the local Overeaters Anonymous (O.A.) groups I attended (over a period of several months' time) were largely populated by individuals who were still acting out their disordered eating thoughts into behaviors. All the while as I attended the groups, week after week, I was seeking a way to recover from my eating disorder, but without a strong "recovered" presence in the community, what I took away were ever more ideas for how to stay sick.

One important thing I learned from that experience is that no community, no matter how wonderful and helpful to many, will work for every single person.


Sitting at the Feet Of Recovery Mentoring’s Big Sister

My own mentor, Lynn, is steeped in the history of the Twelve Steps.

Not only does Lynn have thirteen strong years of sobriety under her belt, but she has made a point of learning the history of her community so she can understand for herself the bigger picture of what she has received in the gift of being sponsored, and what she has to give by becoming a sponsor herself.

I find this awe-inspiring, so respectful, and utterly essential to getting the most out of what a supportive community like a Twelve Step or a mentoring community can offer to our recovery.

For instance, she told me the other day that the original "job description" of a sponsor was more along the lines of a person from that alcoholic's Twelve Step group who expressed willingness to go to the hospital, and if necessary the morgue, to identify the body, sign the death certificate, and assist the family in those first few critical moments.