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Since 2004, I have diligently - perhaps compulsively - tethered myself to the Around the Dinner Table forum. Well, that's the name now - it has had different names and addresses along the way. I set it up in 2004 after I was asked to leave the SomethingFishy forum for parents for saying all the same things I say now. In 2011, ATDT is not only a huge virtual community but it has created an actual community - now augmented by get-gethers and alliances and blog relationships and Twitterers and Facebook groups. It also led to the start of Maudsley Parents, and F.E.A.S.T., and a worldwide network of empowered families and clinicians with no relationship to the forum.

ATDT has been my baby all these years. It changed the course of my life. I made friends (and lost them) there. I wake up to it, carry it with me, talk about it all day. Because I receive all messages on the forum (7261 so far in 2011), and all registrations, in my email it means I get hundreds of emails a day and carry my Blackberry or laptop with me everywhere to stay on top of it. There is no little maintenance behind the scenes when moderating a busy forum - deleting spammers and trolls, smoothing interpersonal issues, enforcing rules, solving registration issues, keeping non-parents from posting, trying to identify and reach out locally in dangerous situations.

Historic moment: yesterday, after a Board of Director's meeting and vote, F.E.A.S.T. invited the most active member of the international moderator team, Mamame, to take the title and the role of "Lead Moderator." She's a trusted, energetic, multi-talented member of the "Mod Squad" and has single-handedly changed the back-office operations and smoothed the administration of the site and knows everything I know about the rules and boundaries of what we do. She's also fiercely protective of the forum and the parents there. I am confident and enthusiastic about her leadership, and know that this begins a new era for the forum where I no longer will make it "my job" to be aware of the forum every waking hour. The Mod Squad works well together and we manage it very collaboratively - it is time.

But I get to admit that it makes me weepy, too, right? I'm not going anywhere - still a moderator and still overseeing the forum but it feels like dropping a kid off at college, or like my dad must have when he drove the moving van to New York and left me in my Harlem apartment... I know it'll be fine. I know they'll call, but...

It's time to delegate more, and take a birds-eye view. I have been at eating disorder parent advocacy now for eight years and for this movement to move forward it be a group effort and have a life of its own - it already does. New advocates will need to step up and F.E.A.S.T. will reflect the vision of a changing parent community. With hard work and luck the ultimate goal is that F.E.A.S.T.'s principles be adopted by all eating disorder organizations who will make us obsolete.

It may be symbolic, but perhaps the biggest change in my waking hours is a decision I perhaps should have done before: I am routing the forum messages to a separate folder and not into my inbox. The silence is amazing. Instead of a futile battle to keep my inbox empty, I will choose when to check in to the forum. I will post less, and focus more on other tasks.



  1. Sob.

    We will miss your calm, confident posts every day, Mom.

    However, I KNOW that you need the time and space to focus on other things and that you are concentrating on the other things that need doing to achieve the ultimate goal.

    Love you.


  2. Laura, I love your vision "With hard work and luck the ultimate goal is that F.E.A.S.T.'s principles be adopted by all eating disorder organizations who will make us obsolete." I salute the work you have done to make FEAST, AroundTheDinnerTable and Maudsley Parents into organizations that give life-saving and life-affirming information to people who need it. Thanks for that "obsessive" attention you have given to ATDT. It was necessary and worth it. I look forward to following your continued efforts towards the "ultimate goal."

  3. The forum was in good hands when you were lead moderator, Laura. Thanks!

  4. I have to admit I got a bit teary when I heard you were going to step back a bit from the site, but it also made me proud that you can see the big picture for FEAST. It needs to grow, and so do you! Please pop in when needed so that I can read your posts -- they always make me think, "Wow. How does she do that? Say exactly the right thing, with the right tone, with the right amount of guidance and love."

    Also, choosing Mamame as a lead mod is an excellent decision! She will do a great job.

  5. Not that this is the main point of your post, but I never realised that ATDT was started after you got kicked off of SF - I was a member there from 2001-3, it definitely held me back as it encouraged me to look for the reasons behind my eating disorder rather than focussing on changing, perpetuating the myth that you have to be "ready" to recover. I'm sure it holds parents back in similar ways! Go you anyway :) I love your ultimate goal too. I hope one day that all organisations agree with each other as to causes and best practice.

  6. Erica, I always felt that was as well about Laura's responses. Laura, somehow, along with giving solid evidenced based knowledge to those floating through the abyss, I really felt like I found a friend. I really believe with the help of many wise contributors, you hav changed the face of Eating Disorders. As much as Drs Kaye, Locke, LaGrange, Treasure, Tsanchuria, OToole to name few. I am not inflating this response. You have been such a strong wise brave woman to take on the obstacles that have helped so any of us follow and maneuver successfully. I can only believe that you are destined continue to grow and ways to make this world a better place for you and the everyone else. I am confident that your choices are good ones and Mamame will bring her own wonderful contributions and leadership in your lace. And I know that you will always be there for us...

  7. Oh yes, Laura, you certainly do need and deserve some quite/calm time too! Many, many . . . okay, a MILLION thanks for all you've done with F.E.A.S.T. and the ATDT forum! They have been such a blessing in so many ways - helpful, encouraging, understanding, etc. I know this to be true for countless others as well. THANK YOU! Now, please go enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

  8. Thank you Laura for all you have done and continue to do. Words cannot express how grateful and blessed I am to have found you and the site.

  9. Well, shoot, is it wrong that I'm really happy for you?

    ATDT is such a tremendous gift, and it has and will continue to save lives. And Mamame and the rest of current and yet to be Mods are going to take wonderful care of it. Yet, organizations must be able to outlast their founders to stay vibrant and viable.

    Kids; you feel so proud of them when they're all growed up and don't need you any more. And you feel so "why don't they need me anymore?" too. And you realize, you both still "need" each other, just not in the same way at all.

    Anyway, I just admire what a hotshizzle you really are; have fun with the that time spent not opening those emails!



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