July 21, 2015

Women's Plaza of Honor

The other day a young woman I know deflected a compliment. A seasoned old woman, I admonished her, saying that not taking compliments is bad for self-esteem and leads to being dismissed in society.  Also, it insults the giver.

She expressed her instictive horror at appearing to brag or be conceited. She also didn't want to be seen as ungrateful. As we discussed this we realized that while we both feel uncomfortable with appearing braggy or full of ourselves we also recently had experiences with being passed over or not taken seriously -- or even SEEN -- because we waited for others to acknowledge our contribution.

Worse still, our ungracious deflecting was surely an insult to the giver and invalidates their opinion.

So then today I laughed because I was cleaning up files and updating my resume and came upon an honor, a compliment, really, that I myself didn't want to brag on and thereby have failed to fully acknowledge the gift of receiving it.

I felt funny about "bragging" so I accepted this honor privately and although I squealed with delight with my mom (it's not bragging when it's your mom), I took the modesty route and didn't make a big deal over it. But it is a big deal when someone acknowledges you and your work and while I fall over myself to do that for others I have never found a way to feel gracious doing it myself.

After all, we don't do this work for the fame or the money or to be loved. We do it because we are inspired to and want to help others, just as those who came before us and inspired and encouraged us.

I am HONORED and GRATEFUL and very pleased to have been nominated and accepted for a brick in the Women's Plaza of Honor at The University of Arizona by my friend and fellow advocate, Jennifer Aviles. Thank you for noticing and showing your appreciation for my advocacy. I can't tell you how thrilled and validated and happy it makes me. I am proud to be among other women so honored. 

Taking a bow, and blushing, and encouraging us all to take compliments with at least as much pride as modesty.

July 18, 2015

Read it? Review it today!

If you're a reader, then you need writers, and writers need YOU. We only need two things in life: to be read, and to be reviewed.

Post a review for a book you've recently read. It matters!

I'd love it to be one of mine, of course, but reviews only take a moment of your time, don't need to be works of literature themselves, and they keep the readers in charge of what happens to books.

on Amazon
on Goodreads
on LibraryThing

ps if you would like a review copy of any of my books, let me know!

July 16, 2015

F.E.A.S.T. Executive Director describes advocacy goals and approaches

Fantastic, must read blog post from Leah Dean at F.E.A.S.T. today. She says what many of us think and believe, expressed beautifully!

Same Brain: Different Operating System

On a personal note, I've been disturbed, myself, to see conflict inside the ED world of a kind I never thought I'd see. People with many of the same beliefs I have about evidence and science and parent involvement are forming their own groups and factions and running into many of the same obstacles and road blocks I know well. These informal groups are not always operating with the accountability and civility that I feel is so important. They are not always taking the time to understand the history or to know who has done or is doing what. Some individuals are making demands without having earned trust, confusing informal lists of people with accountable organizations, personalizing their critiques and making the issues into conflicts between people and not ideas, calling out organizations and individuals in the field instead of recognizing them as allies.

Also worrying is the resurgence of parent-led advocacy that repeats history by promoting ideas about parents and eating disorders that are not evidence-based and not parent empowering. Factions and fights and splitting are abundant. And people are confused.

I'm seeing people be exiled and shunned and pathologized. This is not the way I operate or recommend that others do either.

I know the temptation of throwing bombs. I've thrown some myself. They always land in my lap because I didn't recognize that change in the ED family comes through persuasion and trust, not being "right." I had a lot of "shoulds" in my head: people SHOULD understand, SHOULD behave differently, SHOULD have courage, SHOULD operate logically, and SHOULD trust me. Didn't work.

We are a family whether we like it or not. If you make an enemy in this world its a small room, and there's no room in here to stalk off and sulk. If we as an individual don't gain the trust of others we don't get very far and we often hurt our allies and the ideas we hold dear. You may be right, and you may not be the person you're accused of being but if the perception is there you aren't going to be effective until it is repaired. If you are associated with someone who has, rightly or wrongly, gotten a bad reputation or scared people, you carry that burden and have to fix that first. It "shouldn't" be that way, of course. People should do the "right" thing and they should believe the science as we know it. But, we're not there. And we're not going to get there as individuals or even as single groups.

The way forward, I find, is in accountable advocacy. F.E.A.S.T. started with just a handful of people, as Leah Dean describes so well, who built the scaffolding and accountability for the principles and beliefs we hold dear. It built a structure for present and future parent advocates and those who care about parents and science to do effective advocacy, to have a collective voice. An accountable voice. As individual members of F.E.A.S.T. each of us has a single voice but by supporting the organization's work we speak as a group.

You can be part of that voice, or you can distract from that voice.

Accountable advocacy is a team sport. It isn't as immediately satisfying as an angry tweet, or intimidating someone who disagrees with you. It isn't as visible, often: building relationships and real conversations are not showy. And it doesn't always feed your ego and make you well "liked" on Facebook.

Much of the very personalized infighting I see going on at the moment is about individuals, not ideas. I support F.E.A.S.T. because it keeps all our egos in check and is about more than any one of us or any informal group of us. But it also depends on the families it supports to support it through joining, volunteering, donating, and sharing it with others.

I don't want to hurt those in the field with whom I disagree. I want to persuade them, and learn alongside them, and succeed together in our common goal: better ED treatment. That doesn't mean not having or stating or pressing my points. It means doing so in a way that acknowledges our common goals and humanity. It means listening as much as talking. It means establishing trust, which can't be forced or demanded. Too small a room, and too fractured and embattled from the outside. We're a family and have to pull together and resolve our disagreements if we want to have a clear voice to the public and to policy makers and the media. We have disagreement and that's okay. Resolving them is what we need to do, not "win" or prove others wrong.

We're getting closer. Let's "keep going."

July 11, 2015

60 seconds of lovely

Cute cat videos are good, but I get my blissful moments this week by way of moments like this:

In the rare moments of sundown in Norwegian summer, gorgeous colors and peace.

July 5, 2015

The Norwegian art of slow

Writers live on coffee and resisting distraction.

Hubby is in charge of the coffee around here: he roasts and brews it.

Distractions, well, those are my problem.

This week I'm unable to tear myself from the live feed from a ship travelling south along the coast of Norway, a project called Sommerb├ąten 2015. In a few days the boat will pass right by my ancestral island, where the Lysters come from, but my fascination with this very "Slow TV" phenomenon from Norway is deeper than that.

It is "hynotic." One recent night I spent hours on the phone with my daughter, both of us watching it on our own devices, noting the scenery and the light, watching the landscape of coastal Norway pass by. My husband and I keep calling out highlights from various screens. Smaller boats come and accompany the boat for a while, then trail off. Families come down to the shore, in groups around bonfires or waving signs and flags.

There are long stretches, hours long, of the boat simply sitting on the dock and you are sitting there too, looking at people walking and biking by. Yesterday there were folks on horseback. The sounds of a boat at rest. Here's a highlight reel, below. #sommerb├ąten is the hashtag, should you care to follow along.

Occasionally, in Norwegian prime time, there are little concerts and interviews, but I'd just as soon skip that. When the boat is moving between ports someone's very eclectic playlist is alongside, from Norwegian rap to American country and everything in between.

I can't embed the feed, but you can visit the page here. If the current view gets too dull you can position it back in time and see highlights from the past week. If you're lucky you'll catch the very cleverly produced Mystery on the Summer Boat drama that is part of the show. Mostly, you experience the fjords and islands and birds, and families waving.

With nearly 23 hours of sunlight this time of year, Norway is an excellent place to offer a 24 hour live feed. There's something to see at all hours, even if it is only birds going by and a change in the rain.

As distractions go, however, it's not ideal. I can keep the screen up in the corner and it doesn't need my attention very much. It's ambiant and contemplative most of the time. Even the speaking, since I only know 25 words of Norwegian, isn't as diverting as it could be.

Better, though, than the very popular overnight fireplace cam experience they called National Firewood Night in 2013. That was way too short.

So, I keep drinking coffee, keep writing. But I have no doubt that this summer's writing will have a distinct sense of space, of sea and sky, of sweaters even in July, and people waving as we pass by.