August 31, 2014

What is this? HAPPY where?

OK, I am about to make a bunch of parents cry by showing them some dancing. Are you ready, friends?

First, I want you to watch this fun bunch of co-workers. Try to figure out from the video what their industry is: insurance? coffee export? hair products?

Then I want you to enjoy this delightful group of their clients. They seem very, well, HAPPY with the services, whatever they are.
And then I will tell you that the first are the staff at an eating disorder center in Italy. And the second: the parents of the clients. You have to be the parent of an eating disorder patient to get how profound these videos are. You would have to have looked into the eyes of your ill child and wondered if they would live to appreciate how welcome this much JOY and letting loose can be. You would have to have been subjected to all the grim and dire and horrid documentaries and news stories which, rightly, let us know how very scary and dangerous eating disorders are -- to know how needed and life-giving it is to see families take a moment of joyous movement together.

Take that ED. Take that Disturbi del Comportamento Alimentare in any language!

And brava, Palazzo Francisci - and grazie!

Special thanks to my friend, Shan Guisinger, for first sharing these with me.

August 24, 2014

consider the source

One of my dear aunties once wisely reminded me to "consider the source."

When a sour person delivers a sour remark: consider the source. Attend an opera.... don't expect Country & Western.

And, when the Daily Mail publishes a piece on a dearly cherished project, expect a shocking title and photo. I did, and it did, and yet I am absolutely overjoyed.

This picture is awesome:

The other picture (online version only) is not. It's schtoopid, as Charlotte would say, and reflects the shallow pool of visual associations with anorexia nervosa.

My heart fell at the "born with" phrasing. It did. It is tragi-comedic in its misinterpretation of the science and may even perpetuate the very myths we hope to dispel with this research.

But here is the truth, my friends. The Daily Mail is doing more to bring in the necessary DNA samples to #AN25K, and donations, than any of us sitting around wishing and wanting. This article has more correct information about current eating disorder science than 95% of the digital ink spilled daily on the topic. It quotes the right people about the right topic and reaches countless people who wouldn't otherwise stumble onto Charlotte's Helix.

I can control what I type here. When I wrote for my local paper for a decade I had an editor, a copy-editor, an editorial policy, advertisers, and the context of the public's current thinking between me and the public. Those quoted don't get a say in the rest of the piece or the visuals. Headlines, in particular, are at the discretion of the editor. Photos come from banks of keyword-linked copyright-free folders. Science literacy, well, it is what it is. How much of the public is fully literate in the fine points of genetics, heritability, risk, and the actual meaning of "born with?"

For those needing an anthem today, this will be mine.

August 22, 2014

She is dancing toward recovery and for Charlotte's Helix!

You all know how I love to dance, and to share dancing with others. You can imagine my smile and delight at a new friend's idea to spread the word on Charlotte's Helix through dance. Join me in celebrating this young woman's project and the joyful energy she brings to it! Thank you, Anya, for this guest post:

Charlotte’s Helix Project, by Anya

I heard about ‘Charlotte’s Helix’ through a fellow campaigner who I was in contact with. I was overwhelmed by the positive and collective support that was available there. Discovering Charlotte Bevan’s foundation was a lifeline for me because it helped to not only to connect me to alot of online support but it also allowed me to realise how many other people out there had similar experiences or were struggling with the same problems and utilising similar strategies to do so.

Out of gratitude for Charlotte, along with a friend, I donated a dance. However odd it may seem to donate such a thing, it seemed fitting to me. Part of recovery is about reconnecting with positive forms of self-expression. I have always found that dance is an amazing way to celebrate and express what it is to be human.

This small act has led other people getting involved. For example, friends composed music for the dance ensemble, and fellow campaigners offered their DNA to the genetics study. I am now continuing the process of honouring Charlotte’s legacy by finding other dancers to join me in creating choreography that express their identity. An eating disorder does NOT have to define you and through this donation project I found a way of redefining myself. Consequently, I have learnt to delve into new and nurturing ways to support my wellbeing.

I invite anyone who is reading this to join the #DanceYourWayToRecovery# project and donate a dance today.  You don’t need to be the next Darcey Bussel; it is just about having fun and donating to a good cause.

Let the silliness begin!

August 18, 2014

Music and Marching!

It's the first day of school here in our county and boy is it quiet here at home!

This also means it is Marching Band season, and that reminds me of important MUSIC and MARCHING news:

For MARCHING, put the MAED MOM'S MARCH in Washington on your calendar: September 30. I'll be there to say a word or two on F.E.A.S.T., as will many parents I know all ready to take a stand, literally, on eating disorders. Everyone is welcome and everyone is needed. Let's make some noise!

And for MUSIC, there's a lovely Opera event for Charlotte's Helix on September 25. I won't be there except in spirit but many of Charlotte's friends and family and supporters of the Helix will be on hand. There will be gorgeous music by Royal Opera singers, a reading from a new book by a parent about coping with eating disorders, and a special guest, David Robb, who you may recognize as Dr. Clarkson from Downton Abbey (one of Charlotte's favorite shows).

There is a special therapeutic factor to being with others who understand your experience and are doing something together to make things better. Both of these events, within days of one another, are a way to BE THERE and be part of change.

Forward: march!

August 8, 2014

Difficult times, small favors

Our family is going through a difficult time: details are unimportant at this point.

I am mindful not to barrage people with appeals. Most of those I know, especially through this blog, are struggling with something or other and don't need to be asked one single thing: just supported.

I'm also not that good at being the receiver --

But today I am actively hoping that at least 20 of you will do me a specific favor, to help me fulfill a promise that I made a few weeks ago. There is no money involved, it is simple and it is anonymous. I offered to find 20 people from the eating disorder world to spend 60 seconds leaving a message of hope for others at the Project Hope Exchange site.

A few of my friends have done so already and felt really good about it: there was catharsis and healing just in the act of reaching out.

Now that I'm struggling with an elderly family member's adversity I find enormous comfort in the messages of others who have faced similar situations.

I committed to getting messages from the ED community because I know how needed and appreciated it is to hear warmth and feel understood by others with such a confusing and confounding condition. I want there to be a bank of family members, friends, sufferers, and their supporters leaving those "messages in a bottle" for others. YOU NEVER KNOW WHO YOU WILL HELP.

As I said, it's free, it's anonymous, and it will be your good deed for the day. Well, since many of you are generous and kind by nature it may be your 5th or 15th good deed of the day!

Please do this for me so that I can rest easy during this difficult time. All I ask is that you make the recording and then send me an email or leave a message here that you did it. I know you are out there and if you ever wanted to show me you care this is a great time!

My family doesn't need flowers or casseroles at the moment. But, the gift of this message, and supporting me through this difficult time, would be truly priceless to me. Helping others always makes me feel better.

I may not have time to respond immediately, but I am looking for your messages!

Jessica / Heart Attack:
Laura / Eating Disorders:
Scott / Paralysis: