Approaching her 50’s, Nicole Cutts, a psychologist and author based in the Washington D.C. area, knew her opportunities would have changed with regard to those traditional milestones related to the female lifecycle. “I grew up with the expectation that, by a certain age, I’d be married and have kids – she says-. I didn’t question if I wanted that. But when I got older the possibility for that lessened“. However, that turning point resulted as a way to reinforce her mission: to create a legacy to inspire and empower women and girls (especially women and girls of colour) to thrive. “I wanted them to know that there’s no wasted time – she explains- and they should pay attention to every moment of their life while they are embodied on this planet“.
As a master facilitator and Success Coach, Nicole helps people create an exceptional life by honouring their mind, body, and spirit so they can experience joy, passion, meaning, and ultimate success in their work.
Nicole, what’s changed for you since you’ve turned 40?
I realised that I needed to think of my passion more in terms of how it could support me in the way that I wanted to live. My earnings would have given me the way without still having in my mind the paradigm of the man as the main provider.
You are one of those lucky women whose work coincides with their passion. How did you manage that?
Yes, I am lucky but this is also the result of a purposeful choice. By the time I finished my PhD program, I’d fallen out of love with clinical psychology. So it was important for me to find a new passion. I embarked on a journey of prayer, meditation and study. I read a lot of books like, I Could Do Anything: If Only I Knew What It Was (Barbara Sher, 1994), and others. And what I learned was that I had to be guided by my instincts and if I felt an urge to do something, I needed to do it.
How has your Jamaican heritage influenced your life and your choices?
I always had a fascination with learning. My personality is what guided me to be a psychologist, but the drive that I have comes from both my mother, who came from Jamaica and my father, who grew up as a poor black man in the American South. Immigrants from all countries tend to place an emphasis on education and hard work as did the Black community in the South. Both my parents were good students and physicians. So my choice of profession was partly influenced by their culture, but more by their personalities and professions.
Are elders treated differently in Jamaica than in the United States?
Generally, yes. There’s a whole familial connection. For instance, being part of an extended family means that everyone is valued. There is also more of a hierarchical family structure and an expectation that the elders will be respected and taken care of by their children and grandchildren.
At what age did you come out as a bisexual woman and how did that identity change for you after 40?
That’s an interesting question because I never actually “came out” for two reasons: I was never really “in” and because I didn’t feel the need to “come out”. My mum actually knew I was bisexual from about 15 years old and both of my parents discussed this again with me in college. They were both “cool” with my sexual orientation. My close friends and lovers are also aware because in the course of conversations we discuss sexual encounters and feelings. I resent the heterosexism in society that creates a narrative where people who are not heterosexual are forced to “come out” when they just live their lives and we guess that they are straight. I’m just honest with my friends, family and public where it makes sense. I’m not in the closet because anyone who wants to look at what I’ve put out there publicly can assume whatever they like. Some people assume I’m a lesbian, some that I’m heterosexual and some that I’m bisexual. If they want to know they can ask.
How do you achieve a balance in your everyday life?
I recognise that I can be a workaholic. If I am not happy, I know I need to chill. Being intentional about it helps. I set the intention to be balanced and do what I need to feel better. One way is to pay attention to my body. When I realised that I am driving too hard and need a break, I stop working. So I plan walks into my day. I generally reserve Sundays as a sabbath.
Nicole, I know you have a deep connection with nature. How did that develop and how does it benefit you?
It was always there. My grandmother called me “nature girl” and I grew up on five acres of land, covered with woods with a creek on it. Nature was a refuge for me when I was young and continues to be one now: I experience great feelings of peace and it’s a place for me to pray and meditate. When I take my walks, I purposely unplug. I have rituals, and I need that time to connect with my ‘Higher Power’. This allows me to free my mind and give it a rest.
You often write and speak about the heroine’s quest. How did it work in your life? Has anything surprised you about your quest?
Choosing to see my life as a heroine’s quest is empowering and it helps me to put what happens into context. It keeps me inspired and prevents me from being pulled down by despair, frustration and depression. Once I’d embarked on this current phase of my quest, which started after I’d become sober, I was getting much healthier. I was in my fourth year of a five-year doctoral program in clinical psychology when I realised that it would be unhealthy of me to remain in that profession steeped in disease and pathology. So, instead, I parlayed my degree into organizational work and coaching. I created a life for me where being a psychologist fits, but it is a smaller part than what I had originally conceived. Nowadays, there are no surprises on my quest because I regularly check in with my ‘Higher Power‘ who helps me to keep doing what she wants me to do.