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Laura Collins On F.E.A.S.T. — Helping Families With Eating Disorders

Laura Collins

By Phyllis Theroux, Guest Contributor

Twitter: @FEASTtweets
Facebook: F.E.A.S.T

In 2002, Laura Collins was just beginning her career in Warrenton, Virginia as a serious stay-at-home writer when her 14-year-old daughter was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. Her daughter’s various therapists told her and her husband to back off while they took over .

” I was absolutely gobsmacked by the diagnosis . It was the most isolating thing I had ever faced.” Laura

But their daughter did not get better. Finally, they decided to trust their “bravest parental instincts” and manage her care themselves. Only later did the writer Collins kick in. After their daughter recovered, she wrote “Eating With Your Anorexic” which describes the ultimately successful route they took.

Laura Collins

Collins’ niche market now is parents. In 2008, she created a organization, F.E.A.S.T. ( Families Empowered and Supporting Eating Disorders) which offers a variety of services and is the only non-profit of its kind.

Of two things Laura is sure: an eating disorder is a brain disorder, and parents don’t cause it although they can make it worse. This makes her a gadfly in the Eating Disorder world.

Not long ago I spent the day with Laura at her northern Virginia house, which at 7:30 in the morning is full of the click of metal taps on a hardwood floor. Collins is a tap dancer. More on that later… [Read more…]

Nikki Hardin On Her Sassy And Spirited Skirt! Magazine

Nikki Hardin

Nikki Hardin is the founder and publisher of a unique monthly women’s magazine put together in Charleston, South Carolina called “skirt!”. It’s cleverly designed, unpredictable, full of fascinating essays and articles, and free! It came, she says, out of the universe of her subconscious.

” The title was something catchy and controversial, something unexpected.” Nikki Hardin

January Cover of skirt!

January Cover of skirt!

Nikki launched it with $400 as a small 16-page black and white handout in 1994 hoping that women would embrace it, and to make a living. Seventeen years later it’s alive and doing well with ten local editions throughout the country.

I met Nikki through writer Phyllis Theroux who told me that I just had to meet this women who started an incredibly original magazine “skirt!”. And where could I find this freebie with the strange name? “It finds you,” she said.

That’s all I needed to know. So I found Nikki at her Charleston office to get her to explain just what “skirt!” was all about… [Read more…]

Women’s Eye Reflections For The New Year–#4

2011 Image for New Year

Take a look at these last few quotes from 2010 EYE Interviews for more ideas and wisdom for the New Year. Hope these thoughts have inspired you to expand your world in some small or large way. Now let’s take on 2011…

Siena AnstisSiena Anstis

“These women have faced almost insurmountable obstacles, but they have a tremendous ability to adapt. They are the voice of the ‘Women of Kireka’ jewelry business and are making it all possible.”

Ruthie Rosenberg Katonah Book Club

Ruthie Rosenberg

“If you are truly passionate about a cause, motivation to act comes easy. Time that never seemed available appears. And after you take the first step, the adrenaline kicks in and your ambition to help is accelerated.”

Phyllis TherouxPhyllis Theroux

“As I got out of bed this morning I thought about the amazing worth and power of the imagination, how it literally determines everything: one’s ability to love life, make a living, understand others, and -as a writer-create a story. When the imagination dims, we do too.”

Gloria FeldtGloria Feldt

“But what really blew me away researching “No Excuses” was to find that it was no longer external barriers holding women back. Women can now raise money as well as men, are trusted by the voters more than men, and when they run, they are statistically as likely to win.”

Phyllis Theroux On Her Journal From The Heart

Phyllis Theroux by Duane Berger

UPDATE October 1, 2012: We’re happy to report that Phyllis has just finished another book and is teaching at her writer’s retreat this week.

By Pamela Burke

Phyllis Theroux is a rare writer’s writer, a title reserved for those special people who are revered by their peers. She’s an essayist, author , teacher, and natural story-teller who goes right to the heart of everything she writes. Phyllis Theroux book

Her new book “The Journal Keeper” is a personal memoir penned during six years of her life. She takes on all of life’s ups and downs in such a relatable and introspective way that the book becomes your friend.

I was fortunate enough to meet Phyllis at Book Passage, a bookstore in Marin County, California. She was speaking to a group about the wonder of the journal–“a flashlight” as she called it.

I’m a big believer in journals and found Phyllis’ so engaging that I had to track her down to learn more about her genius for words and so many other things. She answered the phone at her “Writer’s Cottage” in Ashland, Virginia. [Read more…]


“Getting the Hang of It”

(see Phyllis’ interview on EYE)

From the Ladies Home Journal, 1974


By Phyllis Theroux

Phyllis Theroux | The Journal Keeper | Photo by Duane Berger

Rocking slowly back and forth, pressing the worms in my chest against my hunched-up knees. One little daughter banging for all she’s worth against the front door. The baby, needing to be changed, crying in the backyard. A husband fixing the brakes on his bicycle on the patio. And I am rocking back and forth, not knowing where to place my hands, fix my gaze, or rest my soul.


When the time finally came, I was quite glad to be done with blue jeans and undershirts. One September afternoon my friend Patsy’s mother came to the front door and said that Patsy “wouldn’t be coming out to play today.” I cocked my head toward the second floor and heard radio tunes straining through an open window. I realized Patsy’s time had come. She had dropped out of neighborhood games in favor of curling her hair and pushing back her cuticles with an orange stick. My own participation in ‘Kick the Can grew more desultory. And when my breasts began to hurt from catching hard foot balls, I dropped out, too.

I remember vividly the romance of girlhood when it finally arrived: Merry Widow waist cinchers, crinolines, knowing that I was a rather good dancer. To be perfectly truthful, I didn’t date a lot of boys who measured up to the Big Prize, but they did serve as hooks on which to hang own private visions of marriage.

My tastes lay with the earnest young men who suffered, which brought me into much contact with the short, the acned and the shy. We confessed to thoughts of suicide, fear of breakdowns and worries about Cod. After an evening spent turning over our notions of Beauty, Truth, and Goodness for each other’s inspection, we both felt terribly meaningful. I assumed that this kind of conversation would go on with whomever I married. The little wife would serve up those uniquely feminine insights. I could hardly wait. I had so many stored up.

Always I am trying to communicate. Always he is trying to avoid it. When my soul writhes, I am annoyingly ready to talk about it. Only if I were to take away his children would there be consternation. That is the evil, smelly, never-to-be-played trump card.

In various ways, my family taught me to pity those hot-blooded girls who lent themselves around. It was strongly implied that whereas those thoughtless creatures would marry truck drivers, or worse, I would have my pick of the Ivy League. And so it was that I spent my adolescent passion on the volleyball court, while my peers were getting drunk under their parents’ pianos. I might have been tempted to go astray had I been sought after by the studs of the neighborhood, but they were much more interested in what was going on under the neighborhood pianos.

Here we all are at breakfast. “Starts a man off happy,” mother said. So we get with the orange juice, the frying pan, the buttered toast, the bacon. “Hi, sweetie, here’s the paper.”

Here we all are again at dinner.

Off with the denim skirt, on with a little eyebrow pencil, Simon and Garfunkel. “Hi, sweetie, did you have a good day?” Dinner on the table, fresh corn tonight, clean faces, family together. My bones are singing with fatigue.

“So why aren’t we eating in the kitchen,” he demands. “Look at the crap the kids have dropped on the carpet!

Damn, there it goes—one day’s worth of scenes ruined by the last take, I can’t take another suffocating minute of it.

My parents were very disciplined about keeping their grievances against each other away from us, which made me very good at not taking them into account at all. I graduated from flats to heels, took planes, spent weekends away, and drank steadily of the Hi-C of life.

Once my mother said, with a sigh, that she wished there was a boarding school for grown-ups that she could check into and live the life that I lived every day. But who would gather anything sinister from that?

I am nowhere. Old sources have been blown away. Still there’s that old lust for tenderness, waiting for an arm to gather me in and bury me against a warm chest. Not tonight. With a half-dozen leg twitches, he kicks himself asleep.

Fear freezes anger. Anger apologizes to fear, I am ready to take the pledge again tomorrow. With the orange juice and bacon the Simon and Garfunkel, the positive approach, and time on my side—all in the hopes that there won’t be crap on the carpet or whatever it is that will roll the day back on top of me. One of these days, I’ll get the hang of the slot machine and it’ll come up three cherries. I release the handle and search for sleep.