Celebrity Mentors

Troy Roness, Male Eating Disorders Mentor and Activist

Troy Roness is an inspiring role model for any person who is struggling to recover from an eating disorder.

For that matter, he is equally inspiring for recovered persons as well.

Since his own recovery from an eating disorder, Troy has maintained a ceaseless effort to support and encourage recovering persons, and to continually advocate for better treatment and care for all who struggle.

Troy currently serves as the inaugural United States Male Junior Board Representative for the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), Advisory Board Member and M.O.R.E. (Males Owning Recovery From Eating Disorders) Program Director with MentorCONNECT, and is active in promoting legislative changes in his home state of North Dakota to promote education and treatment of eating disorders. Troy is a busy guy!

He is the epitome of what it means to "pay it forward," and it is my pleasure to feature Troy's words and work in "Mentoring and Recovery." Troy, thanks so much for being with us!

Tell us a bit about your battle with an eating disorder and what motivated you to choose recovery.

“I cannot specifically remember a day or ‘ah-ha’ event that I really wanted to choose life. There are specific moments I do recall, however, that really had me analyzing the direction I was headed.

For one, physically I couldn’t function enough to perform daily tasks, let alone enjoy life. Aside from that and more importantly, I was emotionally, psychologically and spiritually drained; I was desperate and completely alone. It was, and still is sometimes, a daily task to choose healthy decisions verses unhealthy ones. I feel confident when I lay my head down each night knowing that I have done the best I can in my efforts to make myself healthier, happier and more in-tune with my feelings.”

Shannon Cutts

Males, Eating Disorders, and Mentoring

Eating disorders are widely considered to be a female disease.

Those of you who are reading this post and are knowledgeable about eating disorders are thinking, "oh, no they're not."

But the vast majority of the population still regards eating disorders as a female disease. This includes many general medical practitioners.

You might be surprised to learn how many males with eating disorder symptoms are told by their family doctor, "you can't have an eating disorder - that is a female disease."

But it is an eating disorder. And they are male. They are a male with an eating disorder.

It happens...and much more often than most of us may suspect.

Celebrity Mentors

Michelle Williams on Mentoring

Recently I was reading Alicia Sparks' excellent "Celebrity Psychings" blog and a post called "Be Respectful of the Absence: Lessons from Michelle Williams" caught my eye. As I read further,  it struck me that Michelle has a powerful lesson to teach us about mentoring.

Michelle, of course, lost not only her fiance but her daughter's father when Heath Ledger unexpectedly passed in 2008.

While I can imagine how devastating such a loss might be, the closest I have personally come to that kind of impact was when my close friend and colleague David died in 2007.  David walked with me through several very important steps on the road towards the eating disorder mentoring and outreach work I do today. I still feel his presence sometimes...still "hear" him encouraging me, telling me I can do it - that I am smart, I can figure it out and be successful.
Two courageous women who are embracing the pain and the joy of life
I still miss him. Sometimes a lot. Especially when I let myself think about him for more than a moment or two.

But even that feeling can't hold a candle to what Michelle and her daughter must have faced and still be facing.

However, there is one area where I can do more than just imagine that kind of heart-wrenching and deeply personal loss.

Book Mentors

Feeling our Feelings in Mentoring

Along the path to self-transformation, self-evolution, or recovery (whichever name we prefer to use) we will encounter many feelings. Depending on our perspective, those feelings can look like sharp mountainous boulders, or glittering precious gems.

Or we may choose to see only the "uplifting" feelings - like joy, happiness, love, comfort, peace - as gems, and the "depressing" feelings - sadness, grief, anger, fear, apathy - as boulders.

The choice, as Rainer Maria Rilke reminds us in his classic mentoring tome, "Letters to a Young Poet", is up to us.

It truly is.

We really do get to choose.


Reaching Out on the Road to Recovery

What is the one thing that seems to consistently cause the most trouble on the road to recovery?


How hard is this to do? Not very - in theory.

How hard is this to do in practice? VERY hard.

"Ed" (our eating disorder) does not want us to reach out. In our minds, we are worthless, helpless, hopeless, without.

In reality, we are priceless, courageous, trailblazers, warriors.

Book Mentors

Finding Beauty and Courage in Mentoring

One of the elements of my longtime relationship with my own mentor, Lynn, that continues to surprise me the most is that my mentor also continues to have hardship in life.

It is so tempting, in reading her reliably wise words to me, to brush aside the FACT that anyone - and I mean anyone - who is able to write such wise and comforting words must have experienced the personal life circumstances to form them. Mentors do not become mentors in a vacuum, just like Olympic skaters do not get to the Olympics by winning the skating lottery.

There are years of hard work, tears, trials, self-effort, mentoring, errors, mishaps, missteps, victories, setbacks, and continued determination and patience that form a mentor out of the malleable and ever-changeable clay that is a human being.

Mentors are made, not born.

Mentors have been mentored.

Mentors are willing to serve because they once needed (and often still do need) their mentor just as much as their mentees now need them.

Book Mentors

Trusting in What is Difficult in Mentoring

Mentoring is a contact sport.

No question about it.

When it comes to inviting another person into our life to offer solicited feedback, advice, and guidance, we are guaranteed to feel some amount of discomfort - most likely in equal measure with any relief that is brought through the opportunity for a shared journey.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in "Letters to a Young Poet," the book I would put forward if there were ever a nomination for the award of  "all-time classic mentoring text."

As we have been exploring some of the many nuggets of mentoring wisdom revered poet Rainer Maria Rilke offers to his young poet/mentee, Franz Kappus, in "Letters," we have also repeatedly discovered that serving as a mentor is a task that is equally as difficult as being mentored.

This is because the mentor is often asked tough questions - questions which may not have an easy, or any, answer.

Book Mentors

Learning to Love the Questions in Mentoring

In "Letters to a Young Poet," in what was only his third letter to the venerated poet Rainer Maria Rilke, the young poet Franz Kappus begins to delve into a depth and breadth of questioning that we can only guess at (since only Rilke's replies and not Kappus' original letters were published).

Kappus is quite obviously feeling very alone, regardless of the presence of those near and dear to him.

He is casting about for answers, for some place solid to stand on as his young life changes again and again.

This is an experience we can all relate to - whether our life is changing in relation to age, to marital status, to recovery progress, to career progression, or to other factors!

Life brings change, and change brings questions.

And questions bring about the insatiable desire for answers.

Celebrity Mentors

Mentoring and Recovered. Period. With Author Jenni Schaefer

This month we have our long-awaited interview with recovery expert Jenni Schaefer.

Author of "Life Without Ed" and "Goodbye Ed, Hello Me", Jenni is a much-beloved and sought-after speaker, author...and mentor.

In this interview, she shares her insights about her own experiences of being mentored, mentoring others, and learning to fall in love with life. Thanks, Jenni, for visiting us here at "Mentoring and Recovery".

1. In Goodbye Ed, Hello Me, there is an inspiring chapter called "My Mentee" where you describe being asked to be your nephew Aiden's mentor for life. How cool! What are some of the wise messages your own mentors have taught you that you want to pass on to Aiden?

In recovery, my mentor, Emily, taught me not to be so hard on myself, that relapses were normal and okay. She also said that I didn’t always have to settle for relapsing. I could ultimately make the decision to get fully better. A key was to have patience and to never, never, never give up.  I hope to pass this message of patience and persistence along to Aiden.

2. You mention in the chapter that you have mentors for many different areas of life. I can really relate to this - mentoring has such a wide application. What advice do you have for readers who are interested in finding a mentor for recovery or for other areas of life?

To find a recovery mentor, I, of course, recommend reading your book, Beating Ana, and joining MentorCONNECT! To find mentors in other areas, I encourage people to be open to learning and to ask questions. In my life, I have found that by being open, my mentors have actually found me. I love the old saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

3. One interesting point you bring up that I can really relate to is that some of your mentors may not even know that they are your mentors. Can you share more about this?

Book Mentors

Letters to a Young Poet…or Mentee

As I mentioned in my last post, Rainer Maria Rilke's collection of correspondence with his mentee, "Letters to a Young Poet," is my all-time favorite book on mentoring.

It is not fancy. It is not flashy.

But it is real, raw, honest, full of humility and wisdom.

Rilke, already a revered poet of his time, was 27 years old when the correspondence began. The young poet, Franz Kappus, was 19, about to enter military service, and full of questions about art, vocation, and the meaning of life.

Over the course of the next five years, the mentor-mentee pair discussed everything from finances to romance, sometimes touching on poetic art, but more often focusing on topics that outline the fundamentals of being human, learning to connect, and growing up.

So, given that "Letters to a Young Poet" was the book that inspired all of the mentoring work I do today, the MentorCONNECT community, and my own book on mentoring, "Beating Ana," I thought we would spend a few posts examining some of Rilke's profound and sage words to his mentee, the young aspiring poet.

In his very first letter, the young poet sends some of his poems to Rilke. The young poet asks Rilke, "are my poems any good?"