Thursday, October 30, 2008

Book Review by Carroll and Lael: A Future for Tomorrow/Surviving Anorexia By Haley Hatch Freeman

It’s hard to imagine a teenager standing 5’9” and weighing only 85 pounds, but that’s the state Haley Hatch Freeman reached when she was at the low part of her terrifying struggle with anorexia. In "A Future for Tomorrow," Haley bravely recounts her journey to the brink of death and back again in a way that is both touching and inspiring.

This struggle began with Haley not feeling good enough, pretty enough, or loved enough. She was surrounded by loving friends and family, but when they told her she was pretty or loved, she discounted what they said: “Oh, they’re just saying that to be nice.” Haley also suffered from body dysmorphia. She had a distorted image of her own body, which led her to see herself as fat even when she was skeletal and in danger of losing her life.

The frankness with which Haley describes her journey is remarkable. She opens her heart and mind to her readers because she feels called to let others know how devastating anorexia nervosa can be. Part of the book is told in excerpts from her journal. showing her progess—or lack of it. Before we read this book, we didn’t understand what young women suffering this disease go through, but now we both feel as if we’ve been through it ourselves.

Eating disorders are on the rise, even among young men. This is not surprising, given the mostly unattainable images of beauty we see in the media. Reading Haley’s book gives adults insight into behaviors which might be early warning signs that young people are in danger of becoming anorexic. "A Future for Tomorrow" is a wake-up call for readers of any age.

The first ten chapters of the book are told in an unusal way. It starts with January 27, 1997, and moves backward until July 17, 1996, at which time it starts moving forward beginning with May 7, 1997. We couldn’t see a reason for this convuluted telling and would have preferred a straightforward story. Nevertheless, the impact is not lost as we move with Haley into despair and then hope and then healing. The pictures at the end of the book are very reassuring, the final one being her wedding day in November 2002.

Much happiness, Haley. You have earned it.

To learn more about Haley, click here to visit her blog.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Wedding, Vertigo and Unexpected Benefits

I realized this morning that the blog I thought I'd posted about the big trip my family took to Europe last month existed only in my head! So here I am, the morning after the last big presidential debate, blogging about life, love, weddings and how an event that seems unfortunate can have unexpected benefits.

Gary and I started planning for this trip when our daughter, Lisette, who lives in Germany, announced that she and York Hagmeyer were going to get married on the 13th of September. Getting that kind of news is always exciting, but for us it had extra significance. In the years since my husband was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, we've learned that having an event to look forward to changes how one lives in the present. And what better event to anticipate than the marriage of our daughter to a fine man we were proud to welcome into our family.

The celebration was truly an international event. In addition to Lisette and York's friends and family in Germany, four of Lisette's high-school friends from America were in attendance, plus York's host family and friends from when he'd been an exchange student in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I got such a kick out of watching York's exchange mother carrying on an animated conversation with his mother, Heidrun, when neither understood the other's language!

The love that was present during the ceremony in the city hall in Goettingen was palpable, and it carried over to the celebration held in the square in front of the city hall and later to the reception held in a restaurant in Werretal. Even the servers commented on what a wonderful event it was.

I was so proud of my family that night. Gary's toast to the bridal couple was so sweet and touching, many guests told Lisette they wished they had a father who would say something like that at their wedding. David sang a song in German while Lisette and York danced the first dance. Then Gary, who at times during the day had been using canes or a wheelchair, actually danced with me--and I have the photos to prove it!

The party was still going strong when Gary and I finally went to our room after midnight, wrapped in the glow of love, friendship and fun. The plan was to visit a park in Kassel the next day and leave for Rome the day after.

But the next morning, I woke to find the room tilted and sliding to the right. Rats! It was vertigo, which I'd had problems with off and on for years. I closed my eyes for a moment and carefully opened them again, hoping the room would be mercifully stable. No such luck. I stayed in the hotel during that day, thinking by resting I would be in shape to go to Rome. But the next day, it was even worse. Gary, Mattie, John, and David left for Rome, and I left for the a doctor's office.

I never did make it to Rome. Instead I spent the week with York and Lisette at their apartment in Kassel. It was a disappointment not to be with the rest of the family while they toured The Eternal City, but there was something very sweet about being able to spend more time with my daughter and new son-in-law. Once I was feeling better, I had the opportunity to get a picture of what their life in Kassel was like--going to the Saturday market, walking in the city park, and seeing the clinic where Lisette works.

I treasure that time. In fact, I wouldn't want the trip to have turned out any other way. Now we're back to our normal routine, enjoying the glory days of SE Arizona in the fall. Life is good.