Tag Archives: Menopause

Hormones and Superheroes: A Menopause Novel Giveaway

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Going Through the Change

(Cover art by Polina Sapershteyn)

A post by speculative fiction writer Samantha Bryant:

Menopause can be a pretty scary word. In a world that values youth and physical perfection above experience and knowledge, especially for women, getting older is fraught with psychic landmines. The process can make you doubt your own self worth.

Besides what the world thinks, there’s that feeling that your body is betraying you, changing physical shape around you and surprising you with new changes in function. You can start to feel like you can’t trust your own senses. Is it hot in here? No? Guess it’s just me, then.

As a writer, when something scares me, it comes out on the page. In the stories and characters I create, I can deal with the things that worry or upset me. I always tell my husband that it’s cheaper than therapy.  That’s exactly what happened with Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel. The novel follows five women as their journey through the change of life takes some unexpected turns: superheroic turns.

While the subject matter is definitely the stuff of comic books–human flight, wielding fire, and transformations are unlikely to be a problem for any of us here in the real world–the book also explores the heart’s truths of this time of life. One of my characters, Helen Braeburn, is taking it especially hard.

“Sometimes, Helen felt like she had spent her whole life waiting to be ‘old enough’ and then had crossed over into ‘too old’ without finding out what it was she had been waiting for.”

And

“It was a truth of life that as a woman aged, Helen thought, people tended to treat her more and more like a child. Salesclerks called older women honey, just like they might a child. Senior food and movie tickets were sold at a reduced price, just like a child’s. Discounts and nicknames weren’t so bad in the scheme of things, but the assumption of incompetence was hard to take.”

Even in her lighter moments, Helen still struggles with aging.

“Getting old sucked. Of course, so did being beaten up by a giant lizard with red hair, and strangled by a cheerleader.”

Writing this book definitely has helped me deal with all my anxieties about aging and menopause. I hope my readers will find connections with the experiences of these characters, too.

Giveaway: Friend for the Ride is giving away a copy of Going Through the Change (digital or print) to TWO lucky Friend for the Ride readers. For a chance to win, simply enter a comment by May 15 saying you’d like to be the winner. U.S. only. Thanks! Comment link is at the bottom of the post.

Book Launch Party: Meet the author, Samantha Bryant, at Fly Leaf Books on Saturday, April 25 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina at 2 PM!

Amazon link is here.

Going Through the Change

Introducing the stars of the show, the menopausal superheroes! These wonderful drawings were done by artist Charles C. Dowd.

Here’s Helen, who brings new meaning to “one hot mama.”

Helen

Jessica, who finally lightens up, literally.

Jessica

Linda, whose inner strength becomes her outer strength, and it comes with a surprise!Linda

Dr. Liu, who doesn’t see a problem with the means she uses to get to her ends.

CindyLiu

Patricia, who always had a thick skin, but now is bulletproof!

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Samantha Bryant is a writer, mother, and middle school Spanish teacher, so she knows a thing or two about being a superhero. Her secret superpower is finding lost things. She lives in Hillsborough, North Carolina with her family and dog.

Check out Samantha’s Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/samanthadunawaybryant
Here she is on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mirymom1
And Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+SamanthaDunawayBryant/posts
To read her blog, click here: http://samanthabryant.com

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Menopause: Hello Blank Stare

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Jen bling from Zoe

 A post by Jennifer Delabar

I want to thank Barbara for inviting me to share my tale of woe about menopause.

What can I tell you about menopause that you don’t already know? My story, I’m sure, is a common one. It started with my missing a period here and there starting around age 40 (when my gynecologist advised me that I was just “getting old”), to the present day, when I’m 48 and not too happy with Mother Nature.

I’m too young to be in menopause” I kept expressing to anyone who would listen! I was under the mistaken belief that only women over 50 had to think about menopause.

No one can prepare you for what happens to you when your period finally stops coming. You actually miss those horrible cramps, ruined underpinnings, Dorito binges and black rage weeks. At least with the menstrual cycle there was an end in sight. With menopause there is no hormonal drop at the end of the cycle. It’s crazy-time all the time.

I had gone to my mother as most of us do, for some answers. She told me “I don’t remember going through it”. Thanks, mom.

Back to square one. I was desperate to talk to someone about what was happening in my life. I would be in line at the bank or the grocery store, beads of sweat forming on my forehead and under my eyes, and look at the person behind me and say, “They should really turn up the air conditioning; it’s so warm in here.” Hello blank stare. It was January.

Garage sales were always a big draw for me. Lots of people milling around, there must be other menopausal women there that could commiserate with me! But the only comment I ever received was a disheartening “Oh yeah the hot flashes never go away.”

So alone with nowhere to turn! It’s been three years and countless buckets of sweat have escaped from my pores since my last period. I no longer look for answers from strangers. I have found that most women don’t want to talk about it. We are like a secret society that no one wants to belong to!

I tried to talk to my friends about menopause.They were still getting their periods, and they couldn’t understand what I was going through. They didn’t know how to respond. I could feel their fear and pity looking back at me. Secretly in my evil menopausal brain, I couldn’t wait until they entered menopause and then they would come crawling to me, looking desperately for the answers to those “why” questions.

Why so many hot flashes, why the crying without cause, the depression, why the loss of a sex drive, why the loss of feeling feminine?

I will look at them lovingly and say “I don’t remember.”

Jenifer Delabar is the divorced mother of one awesome son, who is 22 years old. She’s a student of Buddhism. She lives on Long Island and works as a legal secretary and has a degree in funeral service.  Jennifer loves to read, learn, practice yoga and never stops asking questions.

From Barbara: I too, found that many women either didn’t remember menopause or didn’t have much to say when I asked them. That’s why I started this blog. I thank all of you for chiming in with your own experiences!

Menopausal Cut-out Lady (and a Craft Book Giveaway)

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I need a new hobby, something to provide a happy break from writing. I love to work with my hands, so I’ve been  pondering.

The pondering took a disarming plunge  last week when I spent long minutes threading a needle. I even had trouble with the handy dandy needle threader. I take this as final proof that my failing eyes, plus my lack of fine motor skills, rule out most hobbies that demand exact hand-eye coordination.

Then, like a flash, I remembered Henri Matisse! When his health began to fail, he took up paper cutting. Peinture avec du papier.  Painting with paper.

Matisse Woman Cut Outs

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And so, I present to you, Menopausal Cut-out Lady.

Menopause Lady

To learn more about Menopausal Cut-out Lady, see the Artist’s Statement at the bottom of the post.

For a craft guide to inspire all of us, there’s Crafting Calm: Projects and Practices for Creativity and Contemplation by Maggie Oman Shannon (Viva Editions, 2013).

 

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The publisher writes:

Rev. Maggie Oman Shannon illustrates that you can literally ‘craft the crazy away” through beading and crocheting, candle-making, and collaging…Each chapter presents five different practices, offering forty activities to inspire, along with a series of questions for journaling and reflection.

Shannon presents plenty of intriguing crafts, but what I love the most are the quotations on creativity. Here are two favorites:

When the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art.

 Leonardo Da Vinci

 I feel that art has something to do with the achievement of stillness in the midst of chaos. A stillness which characterizes prayer, too, and the eye of the storm. I think that art has something to do with the arrest of attention in the midst of distraction.

 Saul Bellow

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Giveaway: Thanks to Viva Editions for offering  a copy of Crafting Calm to one Friend for the Ride reader. For a chance to win, simply enter a comment by November 25. U.S. and Canada only please.

Read about Matisse’s cut-outs in this article.  And if you can get to NYC, the show at the MOMA looks spectacular.

Menopausal Cut-out Lady, Artist’s Statement: 

Barbara Younger  Construction Paper  and Glue on Sketch Paper   2014

Menopausal Cut-out Lady’s skin is green, which represents the new life, the fresh spouts, of menopause. She wears her hair in two lengths,posing this question: At what age should a woman switch to shorter hair? Menopausal Cut Out Lady feels sporty and confident with both lengths. Hooray for her!

Her breasts are blue, symbolizing the blues brought on by the droop of aging. Yet the blue represents water too, and the buoyancy and lack of inhibition she feel as she floats in a lovely blue lake or sea.

Her reproductive organs take the form of a heart. This symbolizes her adoration for her offspring, and the hope that her love life, despite changes, is far from over

Menopausal Cut-out Lady waves a fan, not only as a nod to her night sweats and hot flashes but as a welcoming signal to the changing winds of menopause, bringing relief from periods and a new zest for life.

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