ManyPaws! A Menopause Pop-up Book and a Giveaway

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Many Paws with Popups

A post by artist  and teacher Susan De Garmo:

When I was about 47 years old, I put some eggs on the stove to boil. I went downstairs to my office to grade papers and before I knew it, I heard explosions coming from my kitchen! I ran up and saw exploded boiled eggs sitting in a pan with no water. Exploding because I left them in there and totally forgot to take them out.

That year when I had my yearly check-up, I told my doctor I thought I was going crazy! I couldn’t remember the simplest things. I was starting to leak when I laughed, I sweated in bed, had hot flashes in the day, my eyesight was getting worse and my middle was spreading!

She patted my hand and told me that I was going through the change. I couldn’t believe what she was saying! At 47 years old I started getting “old.” She handed me a paperback book that she said would help me understand what my body was doing.

That night I relaxed in the tub and picked up the book and began to read. The words were sweet and delicate. “You’re still a woman even though you can’t have babies anymore.”

I couldn’t take it! I tossed it in the trash.

My doctor wouldn’t give me anything to get rid of the symptoms. “It’s perfectly normal,” she said.

So, every day became a new adventure with the symptoms of menopause. Thank God my family still loves me!

Since I couldn’t find a book that shared the in-your-face experiences of menopause and getting older with a bit of humor, I decided one day while teaching my altered book class at a local design college, I would make an altered book on the subject and it would be about my experience.

Why did I come up with that idea? It was freezing cold outside, my head was beet red, sweat was dripping down my face, and my students looked at me like I had a third eye! I just shrugged and pressed on.

I found an old book that had a by-line…the years of change. I took that book and altered it to create  ManyPaws, the Years of Change.

Each week I did a spread in the book.  Depending on what challenges I was going through, that is what I wrote about. We had a show-n-tell in the class every week to show off the work we did in our books. I showed mine to the students and there were lots of “yuck,”“my mom’s doing that,” and sometimes laughter. I wasn’t trying to appeal to them, just critiquing the pages.

At the end of the semester, we had an Altered Book Show. The students and I would have our altered books on display for the faculty, staff , family and friends. Of course, my whole experience with menopause was there for the whole world to see.

It wasn’t long before we heard laughter. Not only from the moms and older women of the college, but from their husbands!
Oh no. I was totally embarrassed, but come to find out, they liked it. The women started telling me their stories and wanted a copy for themselves or to give to their girlfriends.

So my husband and I decided to publish it ourselves and see if the book could really work the way I made it and it did! Not such a bad outcome that started with exploding eggs….in more ways than one!!

To see Susan’s cool book trailer and to purchase ManyPaws and greeting cards taken from its pages,  check out the ManyPaws website.  You can also purchase ManyPaws though this Amazon link.

Here’s the Facebook page!

Giveaway: Susan is giving a copy of ManyPaws to one lucky reader. For a chance to win, simply enter a comment by November 1 saying you’d like to be the winner. U.S. and Canada only. Thanks, Susan!

Many Paws Cover

About herself, Susan writes: 

I was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee.  Since I could remember, I had a crayon in my hand, coloring something. I was one of those kids who wanted to learn about anything creative. I sewed, painted, took apart things and put them back together just to see how they were made.  My curiosity always guided me to figure out how things worked.  It still does!

I graduated from Memphis College of Art in 1984 with a BFA  Advertising/ Graphics Design Degree…that was BC….before computers. I started college with two small children and a husband that traveled a lot, so you can imagine what my house looked like! Anyway, being a graphic designer I was able to work from home and be with the kids while my husband was away. I’ve designed gift cards, album covers, invitations, license plates, basically anything except wall paper and  wrapping paper.

For almost eighteen years, off and on, I taught graphic design at a design college. The students wanted me to teach them something that wasn’t on the computer, so I looked around to see what could be interesting.  I stumbled upon altered books (taking old books and making or re-purposing them into something else).

I’ve sewn and designed costumes and painted backdrops for a play, was an art director for a boys magazine, designed the house we live in, won first place from Liberty of London for a quilt I made using their fabrics. (That’s a crazy story!) I also paint!

I married an incredible guy, have two beautiful daughters, two son-in-laws and 5 grands. They are the delights of my life, especially now that they suffered through my weirdness with the “change!”

 

Susan Headshot

Downsizing: The White Elephant

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White Elephant

“I wanted to give you your first white elephant,” my mom’s kooky friend said as we unpacked the wedding present.

And she did.

We found the elephant so homely, we never put her on the wall.

But we’ve never gotten rid of her either.

“We gave her away, didn’t we?” Cliff asked at dinner a year or so ago.

“Yes, I’m pretty sure we did,” I answered.

But in our attic downsizing project this summer, we found her in a dusty corner in her original box.

It’s funny what a lot of years will do to you.

Now I see her charm. Her whimsy. And the skill it took to make her.

Cliff found the perfect spot, high above a cabinet in our downstairs bathroom. She won’t have to be a working towel rack; she can just be Elephant Queen of the Powder Room. She deserves it after how we’ve treated her for the last 37 years.

What about you? Any treasured white elephants in your life?

White Elephant!  Where did the expression come from? From real white elephants! Read it here on Wikipedia.

White elephant

My Cancer Story: A Gulp and a Cookie Celebration

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Cookie

When I went back to my oncologist and surgeon, Paola Gehrig, for my post-op check up a few weeks ago, she announced that all systems are go. I don’t need to return for six months.

I asked some practical questions and then said, “Now may I ask a more serious one?”

“Of course.”

“If I hadn’t had this surgery, what would have happened?”

“Your cancer was early stage, but it was definitely not just a pre-cancer. It was moving into the uterine wall. It would have metastasized in two years.”

Gulp.

After the appointment in oncology, I celebrated life with a cookie on the terrace of UNC Hospital. The day was gorgeous, cool and dry with a breeze that tossed the cookie wrapper into the air. Not your usual fare for late summer in North Carolina. I’m a frosting girl, and I ate that treat as slowly as I could.

If my cancer has a purpose, the interior one is (I think) to be more appreciative and to whoop it up more.

But the outward purpose is clear. I’m now using my writing to advocate for early detection of endometrial cancer. I’ve been healthy all my life, and I felt fine. Look how close to death I maybe was.

Please help me spread the word.

My Endometrial Cancer page is an archive of all of my posts. This post  includes an interview with my doctor, Paola Gehrig. Dr. Gehrig highlights those early and often quite subtle cancer symptoms.

For those of you on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus,and others, a simple way to help spread the word is to share my endometrial cancer page or individual posts. Thanks!

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Relief from Hot Flashes: A Book Giveaway

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Front Cover_Elkins

 Hot off the press!

Relief from Hot Flashes: The natural, drug-free program to reduce hot flashes, improve sleep, and ease stress

Here’s what the publisher, Demos Health, has to say:

Whether going through menopause or suffering from the side effects of breast cancer treatment, hot flashes are an uncomfortable and often embarrassing aspect of over 25 million women’s lives. Based upon a decade of his own research and proven to reduce hot flashes by 80% on average, Dr. Gary Elkins is finally offering his revolutionary, step-by-step, 5-week hypnotic relaxation therapy program to the public.

How do patients describe Dr. Elkins’ hypnotic relaxation therapy program?

“It’s like a spa. It’s wonderful…It’s my “me” time. Sometimes I have trouble calling it hypnosis because [it’s] just helping us relax our bodies…helping you get control over your own body.”—Sally, program participant

“Control is the key thing. You can control your body, your temperature, your attitude, anything, you can control it… You don’t have to go through a hot flash. You can actually stop it and make it go away.” —Linda, program participant

With five accompanying audio recordings to guide readers through relaxation practice, Relief from Hot Flashes is a new and innovative program, emphasizing deep relaxation, which will help every woman overcome hot flashes without the potentially harmful side effects of hormone treatment, including:

•A personal hot flash diary to track frequency, severity, and daily triggers of hot flashes

•Questionnaires and forms to help rate and improve quality of sleep

•10 Essential steps to successful practice of hypnotic relaxation for hot flashes

•How to relieve other symptoms of menopause and improve your mood, relationships, and quality of life

Front Cover_Elkins

 

Giveaway: For a chance to win a copy of Relief from Hot Flashes, simply enter a comment by October 15 saying you’d like to be the winner. U.S. and Canada only, thanks!