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.



In Mentoring, What Would Recovery Do?

The bulk of my mentoring work is done through MentorCONNECT, the web-based international mentoring community I founded back in 2007.

Had I had any idea at all how much work it would be to start a community like MentorCONNECT, well, you can probably finish that sentence as well as I can!

But I didn't know, and MentorCONNECT did launch, and today there are sixteen of us who serve in various leadership roles to keep the community functioning and growing.

Many of these incredible folks serve as mentors to me, and of course my own longtime mentor, Lynn, is also a part of our team (like she had any choice.....prior to obtaining my degree in recovery, I am afraid I may have earned at least a certificate in whining).

MentorCONNECT's leaders mentor me every single day as we face new opportunities, new challenges, and new chances to learn and grow together.


Mentoring As A Team Based Approach

Lately MentorCONNECT, the global mentoring community I work for, has been experiencing growing pains. With more than 1,200 members interacting together within the community's walls, each with wildly different medical issues, treatment needs, levels of access to treatment, diagnoses, ages, and backgrounds, it can be really tough to apply "one size fits all" policies that can serve the community as a whole.

Which is why this past weekend I called my own mentor to ask for insights about what might work best from her extensive work in the Twelve Step communities. She reminded me that I tend to be wordy (she shoots, she scores!) and that in the Twelve Steps, there is a continual focus on simplicity.

In other words, use less words for greater impact.

Book Mentors

Medical Mentoring

If there is one thing I can say about Dr. Julie O'Toole's new book, "Give Food a Chance," it is that it should be required reading for every medical student, treating professional and parent/loved one.

Written in challenging yet concise, definitive language, "Give Food a Chance" earns its endorsement from Laura Collins Lyster Mensh, founder of, author of "Eating with your Anorexic," parent of an anorexia survivor, and longtime advocate of family-based treatment: "There are books one recommends to strangers, and those one presses on friends. I will be showing 'Give Food a Chance' to my friends and enemies alike, and I look forward to the discussion it will initiate. O'Toole presents a conflict for all of us: We can either remain stuck in old and ineffective ideas or have the courage to reject them."

I wholeheartedly agree with Laura, who also just happens to be one of my longtime writing mentors and a personal hero.

When I first received "Give Food a Chance," the title tugged at my heartstrings. I remembered that when I was in the midst of my own recovery journey, I wanted more than anything to give food a chance...but I just couldn't.


Worry, Mentoring and Ed

When we struggle with an eating disorder, we struggle with worry.

However, if there is one thing I have learned throughout my years of recovering from an eating disorder, it is this:

Very little of what we worry about from day to day is actually worth worrying about….with one exception.


Ed IS worth worrying about.

Because out of all those piles of worries, all those emotions and opinions and thoughts and ideas that our brain spends most of its waking (and much of its sleeping) hours worrying through, the eating disorder is the only one that will kill us if we do not worry about it!

We should be worried about a disease that is considered to be the deadliest amongst all psychiatrically-based disorders.

We should worry when we catch ourselves saying things to ourselves or others like, “I’m in no immediate danger,” or “I’m just not quite ready to give up my eating disordered thoughts and behaviors yet” (to my horror, these are both statements I have heard relatively recently from MentorCONNECT members).