Thursday, May 6, 2010

Three Women and Their Stories

I'm taking the opportunity today to give a shout-out to the notable achievements of three women, each of whom is making in her own way an important contribution to our understanding of such issues as divorce, alcoholism, discrimination, relationships, and eating disorders. Kudos to all!

Laura Boggess' Brody's Story: Book One of The Wings of Klaio — the story of a 12-year-old's efforts to cope with her parents' divorce, her father's alcoholism, and her own loneliness in the midst of separations and estrangements — was published in 2007. Since then, Laura's book has become available on Kindle and several weeks ago was published in eBook format, making it even more affordable and accessible. To download the low-cost pdf directly to your computer, go to

Laura, a psychologist who lives and works in West Virginia, writes at The Wellspring; be sure to visit her there, where she writes both lovely prose and poetry.

* * * * * 
A nation is not conquered until the hearts 
of its women are on the ground. Then it is done, 
no matter how brave its warriors or strong its weapons.
~ Cheyenne Proverb

Pamela Ferris-Olson independently published Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women's Stories in January. Available at Amazon in paperback and on Kindle, Ferris-Olson's book celebrates the life stories of three women — a Native American, an African American, and an Asian — as they search with unflagging determination for identity, self-worth, and happiness while also struggling to come to terms with the discrimination, abusive relationships, isolation, poverty, and other hardships common to other women who are like them. Ferris-Olson opens the window onto her protagonists' lives using their own words as well as  interviews, blog entries, letters, and comments from friends, family members, and colleagues. 

Long-time freelancer Ferris-Olson, who writes at Living in the Heartland, is devoted to celebrating women's inspirational achievements. On her site, you'll find Ferris-Olson's stories about Ellen, a woman who is raising a son with cerebral palsy and "building a community of support and resources for moms who have their own special needs";  Rebecca Lolosoli and 16 other women who founded in Kenya the Umoja Uaso Women's Organization to provide a safe haven to women and girls experiencing abuse in their village; Kathy, who founded Catskill Animal Sanctuary in Saugerties, New York; and the late Wilma Mankiller, the first female to hold in modern times the position of chief of the Cherokee Nation.

To learn more about Ferris-Olson's book, watch the YouTube video below — just one of the numerous smart ways that Ferris-Olson is promoting her book. And if you'd like to benefit from Ferris-Olson's considerable experience in getting her book published, marketed, and in the hands of readers, visit Ferris-Olson's OutoftheBoxPublishing.

Ferris is donating a portion of the proceeds from sales of her book to a number of charities, including nonprofits to assist Chinese orphans with special needs, teenagers experiencing homelessness, and women in need of college scholarships.
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In her documentary Someday Melissa, now being edited for release, Judy Avrin traces the heart-breaking arc of her daughter Melissa's eventual death, in May 2009 at age 19, from the complications of bulimia.

Profiled in April in the New York Times, Avrin says she decided to make the film after opening Melissa's journal one day and finding a list of goals titled "Someday". On the list was this statement: I'll make a movie that changes lives. That list and in particular that goal about movie-making created what Avrin describes as both a "way for me to channel my grief" and a way "to put off grieving."

What Avrin has produced is important — not just because it exposes how deadly eating disorders can be but because it also underscores how essential treatment is to recovery. The figures on eating disorders in the United States run to as many as 10 million females and 1 million males with anorexia or bulimia and "millions more" with binge eating disorder. The mortality rate among those with anorexia is approximately 12 times higher than the annual death rate due to all causes of death among females ages 15-24 in the general population (National Institute of Mental Health). Five percent to 10 percent die within 10 years of developing the disease, often from complications related to the disorder, such as suicide and heart attack (a contributing cause of Melissa Avrin's death). Unfortunately, research on eating disorders is under-funded and insurance coverage generally is wholly inadequate for treatment that requires three months to six months of care at a cost of $500 per day to $2,000 per day.  Judy Avrin believes her daughter "could have beaten" bulimia, though she admits the depth of the illness — Melissa took to scavenging for food in garbage — militated against her.

Judy Avrin, who raises money for the National Eating Disorders Association and advocates on behalf of initiatives to bring eating disorders "out of the shadows", has a Website to promote her documentary and educate and inform others about the importance of receiving treatment early on. Eating disorders do not have to be fatal. Overcoming them, however, requires understanding, time, money, treatment specialists, and a system of health care that makes treatment available and affordable to all who need it.

Here's the trailer for Someday Melissa. Another video is here. Both can be seen on the Someday Melissa  Website.


M.L. Gallagher said...

And I'd like to add Maureen Doallas to the list. Her words strengthen, inspire and create a world of wisdom and of love. A world where no one feels the need to hide their light, or shelter their truth from prying eyes. Maureen creates beauty -- and that is a rare and wondrous talent.

Cassandra Frear said...

Eating disorders are a terrible thing and very hard to treat, as anyone who has seen the disease in a friend or relative knows.

Kudos to you for taking on a hard subject gracefully.

Anonymous said...

some very strong/loving women.

sarah said...

your posts are always such a treasure trove, thank you for the work you put into them.

Billy Coffey said...

Isn't it amazing how even struggle and pain can bring about works that can heal the hurting?

S. Etole said...

It's good to know that when pain from any source stops us in our tracks we can take a new track and have healing occur in the process.