SC NewGoodNews

Good News for Recovery + Life (September 2017)


How to Know How Strong You Are (a hurricane Harvey story)


Only the partially submerged stop sign gives any indication this was once a street....the very same street where I grew up!

In late August of this current year, (un)coincidentally just hours after hurricane Harvey had swept through my home city of Houston, TX, I encountered a new me.

She was much stronger than I expected she'd be.

She was kind of....awe-inspiring, really....especially considering disaster struck so very swiftly and oh-so-very-close to home.

Here's what happened:

While my neighborhood (um) weathered "horrible Harvey" fairly well, my parents' neighborhood didn't enjoy the same good luck.

My folks actually have one of the biggest bayous in the city right on the other side of their back fence, so their home stayed dry all the way until the day Harvey waved goodbye to Texas and headed off to visit Louisiana instead.

But then our city officials, apparently attempting to cope with wildly outdated reservoir capacity that threatened to overflow and flood all of the downtown area, decided to open one of the major dams and let the extra water out before it could reach that area. Guess where all that extra water went?

My parents were evacuated from their flooded home by kayak just hours after Houston opened its own floodgates.

The days and weeks that followed were....heart-wrenching. Horrifying. Disastrous. Panic-inducing. And sometimes miraculous.

There was so much to be done and it all needed first-place priority, from filing insurance claims to applying for FEMA assistance to locating temporary housing to finding a contractor to turning the house my folks have lived in for 42 years literally inside out....until pretty much everything that had previously been contained safely inside their four walls was sitting out in full (and gloriously moldy) view on the front lawn instead.

Not to mention that our puppy, Flash Gordon, took one look at that kayak and rather instantly commenced to having panic attacks, panting and shivering and shaking and whimpering nonstop from that point forward whether we were at the hotel, in the car, at a restaurant, or anywhere, really. He wanted his "home" and we couldn't explain to him why going back home just wasn't possible right at this particular moment.

Anytime this type of disaster strikes, it takes a team to work your way through it. I joined up with "Team Cutts" ASAP, of course, and spent long days side by side working with my folks, the workers, the contractor and caring volunteers as we went wading through the mountainous urgent to-do list the dam flooding had generated.

In many areas of our city, people emerged mostly unscathed from Harvey. But in pockets, such as in my parents' neighborhood, the formerly neat rows of polite one-stories with carefully trimmed hedges had turned into epic disaster zones, complete with Homeland Security, police reinforcements and community teams monitoring entry and exit for weeks.

At the entrance to their neighborhood, where several Homeland Security agents stood watch during daylight hours, one enterprising homeowner had made up a hand-drawn sign that proclaimed, "You loot, we shoot." On the nearby table were mounds of donated water, baked goods, bleach, paper towels, mold masks and other things residents might need that were hard to come by at local hardware stores.

It was a beautiful time and a terrible time. And it is still not over. To date, my parents are as yet unable to return to their beautiful classic home, which is even now undergoing a full makeover to make it livable again.

During this time, I have lost many days of work (as a freelance writer, I only get paid when I work, so you can imagine the impact there) in service to the "Team Cutts" effort. I have also lost sleep and occasionally sanity as we all have put our heads together and tried to decipher what our next moves should be.

But we are getting through it. And I think I personally have recovery as well as daily life to thank for this, since recovering from an eating disorder, panic attacks and chronic depression has taught me that any goal can be achieved if the achiever simply refuses to stop trying.

Daily life has also taught me that help can arrive at the most unusual moments and from the most unexpected of places and people, like the hotel concierge who spontaneously organized a "Harvey happy hour" for his full hotel of displaced Harvey evacuees and their dogs, which has since resulted in lots of new friendships, both human and canine.

Since Harvey, we have witnessed equally great devastation from Hurricanes Irma, Jose and Maria, an unspeakable 7.1 magnitude earthquake in Mexico, massive monsoon flooding in India and southern Asia, two back-to-back typhoons in Japan and epic wildfires that have swept through Canada and the northwestern United States.

Our hearts go out to each and every individual - human and non-human - whose lives have been and continue to be touched by these catastrophic events.

From our team to yours - we also have a prayer and a message to share:

You are STRONG. SO very STRONG. And we are all stronger TOGETHER.

Always remember this. <3

With great respect and love,



Is your pet also your mentor? I can totally relate!


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About our little flock

PearlHatPurple Trans

Me. Pearl.

Hi! It is so good to meet you here each month!

I'm so excited about my new book, "Love & Feathers: what a palm-sized parrot has taught me about life, love, and healthy self-esteem."The book focuses on the power of animal mentors in our lives and features my parrot, Pearl.

Malti is my baby red-foot tortoise - she is a born adventurer, a bonafide foodie and an awesome addition to our little interspecies flock.

Bruce, a rescued Texas 3-toed box turtle, is the newest shelled family member to join our little flock.

My first book, "Beating Ana: how to outsmart your eating disorder and take your life back," shares how I recovered from an eating disorder so I could pursue my creative dreams.

MentorCONNECT, the first global eating disorders nonprofit mentoring community, emerged from the experience of writing "Beating Ana." While we closed in April 2017, the website continues to provide information about mentoring-based recovery support resources.

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©2017 Shannon Cutts

The hardest challenge is to be yourself in a world where everyone is trying to make you be somebody else. -E.E. Cummings

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