Body Image & Recovery

Sponsorship and Mentorship

Recently I was asked "what is the difference between having a sponsor and having a mentor?"

Wow. Good question.

Puzzling question too.

A sponsor in the Twelve Step tradition, as we discussed in a previous blog post, originally was intended as a point of contact for a family who was faced with having to deal with serious illness or death of a family member due to alcoholism.

Over time, a sponsor became someone who had worked through all Twelve Steps with their own sponsor, and as an act of completing their own twelfth step then turned around and began sponsoring someone else through the twelve steps.

Today, sponsorship is a commonly used and readily understood term. Even those who have no personal first or secondhand experience with the Twelve Step communities often understand what is meant by a "sponsor".

In fact, now that I think about it, not once in all the years I have worked in and around the recovery community has anyone (whether they knew of my work or not) ever asked me, "What is a sponsor?"

That is actually pretty cool.

Body Image & Recovery

The Big 4-0 in Mentoring

So yesterday Mentoring & Recovery's author turned 40.

That would be me.

Yup. The big 4-0.

This, of course, means that all year long I have been listening to others' input, advice, suggestions, cautions, recollections, affirmations, condolences, and more about the onset of a human being's 40th year. I have heard everything from "wow I would have never guessed you are 40" to "well you don't have that many wrinkles yet" (hmmm).

But the one common theme throughout has been that people have been eager to share their experiences about their own 40th year.

Which is par for the course, because the older I get, the more I view life and this world as one big mentoring merry-go-round.

Animal & Nature Mentors

What Our Mentors Can See That We Can’t

I was out walking the other day. It was a gorgeous, sunshine-y day. The pavement was nice and dry. The pathway was clear, just me and....wait a minute.

Nope, I wasn't alone. There were two of us. Me and the little scrunchy, bunchy, wildly unattractive butterfly-to-be.

I knelt down, peered closer.

Where is it? Are we sure - just positive - that it's in there?

The caterpillar was sure. It just kept scrunching and bunching its way along the path, happy in the not-too-scorching fall sunlight, steadily progressing toward safety and, at some point, transformation.

Now I know that caterpillar-to-butterfly stories are way overdone in recovery communities, and I also am all-too-aware that if I were reading this particular post rather than writing it, I might be yawning and stirring my mouse clicker right about now.

But have you ever stopped to look - I mean really LOOK - at one of those many-legged, aerodynamically-shaped yet unbelievably slow creatures as they scrunch along, making their way towards....somewhere?

I hadn't.

Animal & Nature Mentors

The Mentors in the Kitchen

I have had a series of roommates through the years, none of whom have shared my eating disordered history.

Which meant that they may have differed widely in other areas, but all were fairly uniformly mystified by my frequent bouts of "refrigerator paralysis."

By this I mean, I would walk into the kitchen because it was time to eat, and I would stand in front of the refrigerator "letting all the cold air out" as my mom used to say...

And absolutely paralyzed by my choices.

Too many choices. We live in a world which gives us too many choices.

We have so many choices that our minds get spoiled, and it is a bad deal indeed when our mind can't make up its mind about what we are having for dinner that night.

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 & Nature 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 & Nature 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.

Body Image & Recovery

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.