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Shannon Cutts

Mentoring as a Path to Self-Kindness

What does the world look like through kindness-colored sunglasses? I woke up this morning craving kindness.

Wow.

Shocker.

Not to mention a far cry from the things I used to wake up craving, like self-annihilation.

Higher bed frames so I could make my permanent home underneath mine.

Or at least a large bag of potato chips.

There were many days I craved depression, when anxiety’s high speed chases left me worn and weary.

Other days, I craved anxiety, because anything was better than the block of depressive concrete weighing down on body, mind, heart, and soul.

But I honestly can’t remember, even in the many days and months and years I have been in strong, sustained recovery from my eating disorder, a day until today when I have woken up consciously and actively craving kindness.


Shannon Cutts

How a mentor can help you tell recovery fact from fiction

The leaf-sandshark I looked down at my feet and there it was.

A tiny sandshark.

My (obviously equally tiny) brain was suddenly gridlocked in processing.

Sandshark. On concrete. Far away from any water, salt, or sand.

How could this be?

The next thing I knew, a thousand tiny neurons fired up their guns to come to the exact same conclusion at the exact same time.

“Shannon, it’s not a sandshark. It’s a leaf.”


Shannon Cutts

How to Become a Mentor


One of our wonderful readers recently posted a question that I wanted to explore together in more detail.

She wrote: I was wondering how you become a mentor? I have had friends and relatives refer some of their friends to me when they have needed help and guidance, and I have received good feedback from the people I have worked with. They have said that I have really helped them a lot and that they don’t feel so alone anymore and like that they have someone who understands them. I enjoy sharing my experiences to help others, so how would I go about becoming a mentor to others?

What a great question!


Recovery

Mentoring as a Structure and Theme for Life

The strange structure - what is it? I woke up much earlier this week to a strange structure in my neighbor’s backyard.

I studied it, trying to figure out what it could be.

A shower? A bathroom? A closet? Or perhaps a tiny garden gazebo?

Like a small wooden UFO, it simply appeared, and has been parked there quietly ever since.

Now, there is a small house under construction just across the way. And I happen to know that my landlady’s husband is the general contractor for that house. And it just so happens that my landlady and her husband live downstairs.

But that small structure is still much too wide and much too tall to fit through the front door of the half-finished mini-house behind us.

For that matter, even I can figure out that it doesn’t make much sense to build a usable, useful structure in the backyard, only to have to take it all apart again to get it indoors.

So what could it be? What will it be used for? How long will it stay there?

I have no idea.


Recovery

Becoming willing to be mentored

NOT what I am aspiring to...
I don’t follow directions well.

Let’s take cooking for example. I don’t need to watch Hell’s Kitchen because I go there every day. After all these years I have not yet cured myself of the irresistible impulse to skim a set of recipe instructions, nod my head sagely, and counsel myself, “well, let’s get started then – how hard could it be?”

Quite hard, and quite often, as it turns out, although I can’t discount the frequent opportunity for valuable key learnings such as:

•    Spray non-stick cooking spray into skillet, THEN turn on gas flame
•    Timers are there for a reason (also, unburned cookies taste better than burned ones)
•    Steaming brussels sprouts is easier when you add water to the pot
•    Before cooking, thoroughly consider ordering takeout

Yet I persist.


Shannon Cutts

Mentoring, Recovery and YOU

Circa 2001: Me with my long-time (and sometimes long-suffering) wonderful mentor to this day, Lynn

We are all recovering from something.

Life. Love. Lack. Loss.

Not to mention all those big and small “oops” moments that linger long after we’ve fled the scene.

But through it all – in the midst of it all even - we rarely (and actually never, I suspect) are without help.

Better yet, most often it is not even a matter of locating a guide to help us get from Point Then to Point Now and beyond.

Rather, it is more simply a matter of becoming aware of the help that is already close at hand so we can then make the choice to accept it.

Case in point - right now, stop and think of one situation where, for a time at least, you really, honestly, thoroughly believed, “No way, no how am I going to get through this one.”

Then think of one or more of the folks who deserve at least partial credit for leading, guiding, or dragging you successfully and safely from then to now.

This is what is called “mentoring”.


Celebrity Mentors

In Mentoring, Relationships Replace Eating Disorders

I so enjoyed a recent chance to share more about my work in mentoring for eating disorders recovery with Ashley Solomon, PsyD, who publishes the wonderful "Nourishing the Soul" blog. I thought I would share our two-part interview with you here as well. Thanks Ashley for such a great resource!

Nourishing the Soul, Part I:

I’m thrilled to be able to share with all of you today my interview with Shannon Cutts, author of Beating Ana: How to Outsmart Your Eating Disorder and Take Your Life Backand creator of MentorCONNECT. If you’re not familiar with Shannon, you are truly missing out! She is a renowned speaker, intuitive writer, and award-winning musician. She is also someone who has struggled herself with eating disorders and has a beautiful message of hope that she shares through various media. In Part I of our interview, Shannon talks about her own recovery journey and why recovery isn’t optional.



NTS: You are a person in recovery, a speaker, author, songwriter, and advocate. What was instrumental for you in getting to be the person who you are today?

SC:  Well, the first thing I can say is that who I am today continues to be a work-in-progress. When I first started my recovery journey I had no plans to do what I do today in terms of advocacy and outreach work for eating disorders recovery. Since I became ill at age 11 and progressed all the way through recovery before I ever met another person who had struggled with an eating disorder, I had little formal information about my disease and only the support of one person – my mentor – to figure out how to do the hard work of recovery.

So I emerged from my recovery journey understanding just how vital, how critical, the presence of even one caring, supportive, encouraging person can be in the life of someone who is struggling to recover.



NTS: You say frequently that “relationships replace eating disorders.” Explain what you mean.


Celebrity Mentors

Relationships Replace Eating Disorders Part One

Recently I was invited to share more about my own journey through mentoring, from the time before I met my mentor, to when I became a mentor myself, and all the way through until now, when MentorCONNECT, the global eating disorders mentoring community I run, and Beating Ana, the book I wrote to introduce the community, are both about to turn two years old!

I thought I would share the interview with you here as well. It is so important to keep our own timelines in our heads, and as you read, for Today's Takeaway, consider your own recovery timeline and how you might answer some of these questions as they relate to mentoring, recovery, and life.

The following interview was originally posted at Nourishing the Soul blog, courtesy of Ashley Solomon, PsyD:

I’m thrilled to be able to share with all of you today my interview with Shannon Cutts, author of Beating Ana: How to Outsmart Your Eating Disorder and Take Your Life Backand creator of MENTORConnect. If you’re not familiar with Shannon, you are truly missing out! She is a renowned speaker, intuitive writer, and award-winning musician. She is also someone who has struggled herself with eating disorders and has a beautiful message of hope that she shares through various media. In Part I of our interview, Shannon talks about her own recovery journey and why recovery isn’t optional.



NTS: You are a person in recovery, a speaker, author, songwriter, and advocate. What was instrumental for you in getting to be the person who you are today?

SC:  Well, the first thing I can say is that who I am today continues to be a work-in-progress. When I first started my recovery journey I had no plans to do what I do today in terms of advocacy and outreach work for eating disorders recovery. Since I became ill at age 11 and progressed all the way through recovery before I ever met another person who had struggled with an eating disorder, I had little formal information about my disease and only the support of one person – my mentor – to figure out how to do the hard work of recovery.

So I emerged from my recovery journey understanding just how vital, how critical, the presence of even one caring, supportive, encouraging person can be in the life of someone who is struggling to recover.



NTS: You say frequently that “relationships replace eating disorders.” Explain what you mean.