Tag Archives | blogs on menopause

Writing Menopause – You Must Read This Book!

I love love love fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. I love exceptional writing. I especially love anything that cuts to the heart of what women feel and think. So when Kimberley at Inanna publications sent me the book Writing Menopause, An Anthology of Fiction, Poetry, and Creative Nonfiction, I was anxious to read and review it.

It’s breathtaking. Literally. And hot-flashing, mind melding, heart touching, beautiful. I actually think ALL women would love this book, not just those of us who are approaching, well in, or past menopause.

Each piece was so tender and truthful that I had to stop after reading it to muse on my own feelings, my own journey. This book will join the ‘desert island’ books on my shelf. (Desert island books are those 10 or 20 you would take to a desert island if you were stranded indefinitely and these were the only tomes you could have.)

If I’ve not yet succeeded in convincing you that you NEED to read these vignettes, then let me say that it is the best book on the Big M I’ve read. Including mine.

If you are looking for remedies or learning more of the physiology of the Pause, this book does not offer that. If you are looking for empathy, understanding, and your confused feelings illuminated in words on paper (yes, that’s it, what she said!), then you can’t afford to miss this book. Seriously! I mean it!

I won’t quote from the book, because it wouldn’t do any of the works justice. In lieu of that, I’ll tantalize you with a few titles.

Drenched
Icing on the Cake
The Things We Carry
Disassembly
Go. Rock.
The Hot Women
Adjusting the Ashes

Please order it asap – and then tell us how you experienced it. Because it is indeed an experience when these gifted writers share the personal and universal in Menopause. It’s available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. While I love my e-reader, I suggest you get the paperback version, so you can touch as well as read it, a totem for the journey of becoming that all women must travel.

Writing Menopause: An Anthology of Fiction, Poetry, and Creative Nonfiction.  Jane Cawthorne and E.D. Morin, Editors

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Breathable Bedding for a Toss-Free Night!

We Got Older and My Girlfriends and I Complained about Night Sweats. So What Did I Do? I Launched a Line of Breathable Bedding for a Toss-Free Night!
Guest post by Lana Abrams

You know how a travel memory sometimes sticks with you, bubbling up and making you smile even years later? A while back I had one of those swoon-worthy vacation moments that completely transported me. The day in Shanghai had been busy and I ended the night freshly showered and nestled under a comfy, almost weightless layer of bedding. I rested under those crisp, clean linens. Sigh… just perfect.

It turns out that the comforter was filled with mulberry silk—something I’d never seen in the States. I filed the info away, raised my kids, ran a successful design business, and my girlfriends and I… aged. (Wait. What?!) We chatted about the symptoms that start when you can’t have kids. You know—foggy memory, mood swings and (yuck) night sweats. Welcome to perimenopause.

I turned 50 and wanted to try something new, work-wise. I tapped into that travel memory of the delicious bed dressed with a mulberry silk filled comforter. That was it: my Turning 50 project! Bedding that breathes with you and regulates heat, hot or cold. I took the leap and created a new product for women like us.

Mulberry West 300 tc unbleached polished cotton comforters and blankets offer a naturally cooling cover filled with Grade A mulberry silk— a lifesaver for women who’ve been throwing on and off the covers at night. This porous and pure fiber is known for strong ventilation and moisture absorption, making it ideal for battling hot flashes and hot summer nights. Mulberry silk deters dust mites and mold, perfect for allergy and asthma sufferers, plus it repels bedbugs. And ours is the ONLY silk filled cotton comforter internationally certified for no formaldehyde or chlorine. Made in the same factory where a well-known Seattle-based outdoors store manufactures their goods, Mulberry West is committed to eco-friendly production and international inspections.

The all-white collection includes King, Queen and Twin XL cotton piped comforters filled with silk providing a lightweight, shift-free layer of wicking warmth and comfort. They can be placed in a duvet cover or use as is. The collection also offers generously sized King, Queen and Twin XL cotton with satin trim silk-filled blankets. This is a terrific layering piece or lightweight option to a coverlet. Easy to clean—simply air out in the sunshine for a few hours to naturally whiten the cotton shell and rejuvenate the silk filling.

Menopause Goddess Blog readers are receiving a special reader rate of 25% off any item from Mulberry West, plus free shipping with this code: goddess2017.  Click here to go to the website.

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An Obstetrician’s Transition to Menopause and Survivorship Medicine Part II

love, sweat, and tears

Last week, I posted Part I of Dr. Pam’s openhearted sharing of her journey from gynecologist to menopause healer. In Part II, she tells us more about her journey and how being a caregiver changed her forever. I am profoundly grateful that she has chosen to be naked and unafraid in order to help others. Be sure and click on the info at the end of the post about her breakout film “Love, Sweat, and Tears.”

An Obstetrician’s Transition to Menopause and Survivorship Medicine Part II

I became a caregiver to my husband when I stopped obstetrics in 2005.  He was an OB/GYN himself.    Our lives changed immediately after his first surgery and radiation therapy.  Our intimate relationship ceased immediately.  We tried to remain intimate, and we sought help.  We did ask one of his physicians for assistance, and unbelievably, he said, “Well, you are alive, right?”  Yes, he was alive, and we appreciated the fact that he was alive.  But, we lost a great part of our relationship.

We lost our closeness and our ability to show our love to one another.  It was a terrible loss, and we grieved the loss in different ways.  I didn’t realize that he continued to try to “fix” things.  About 2 weeks before he died, I was getting the laundry together and checking his pockets.  I didn’t realize that he was standing behind me when I took a couple of packets out of his pocket.  I put some glasses on and saw that it was packets of testosterone.  I turned around and saw him there and said the worst thing in the world.  I said, “What are you doing?  I don’t care about that!”  Well, he put his head down, and I know that he was tearful. He said, “I wanted to try.”  As he walked away, I realized that he took my words wrong.  I meant that it was not a factor in how much I loved him.

I wish that I could have that moment back.  The more that I tried to explain my thoughts, the more that I made the situation worse.  After he died, I have had years to think about this situation.  Here, you had a married couple – both of which are gynecologists – that have not talked for 5 years about the fact that we could not have sexual intercourse.   If we can’t talk about it, then I bet lots of people in our situation have absolutely no hope of talking about it.  How sad is it that two gynecologists can’t talk to each other about what we could do to help our problem.  How sad is it that two physicians went to another physician to ask if there was any way to help us get our intimate lives back, and none of us knew what to do.  I mean to change that fact.   I understand that one of the hardest things for a physician to say is, “I don’t know what to do.”   I mean to change that fact, too.  It is terrible to have to accept that a bad or terminal illness means the end of your sexual relationship.

Taking care of another adult is the hardest thing that I have ever done in my life.  Medical school, residency, and having twins were a breeze compared to this responsibility.  This is something else that I completely missed during the early years of my practice.  I didn’t understand what it was like to be a caregiver.  I didn’t understand the physical and emotional wear and tear that was required of my body and mind.  When a patient came in and told me that she was taking care of a husband or parent, I would immediately go into sympathy mode – and I meant it.  I asked who their doctor was, how they were progressing, and the plan of care.  I commented on the physician taking care of them and encouraged them to hang in there.  I completely missed the fact that they were hurting and overwhelmed.

Whether someone is taking care of a spouse, family member, or a parent, they become the “mother.”  It is difficult to take complete care of another adult.  The patient is angry about their situation and frequently those that are closest to them take the brunt of the anger.  As with so many circumstances, life experience is a brutal and uncompassionate teacher.  After being a caretaker, the object of my sympathy reversed – I focused on the caregiver.  I asked if they had any help. I asked if they ever got a break from their caregiving.  Usually, there is not, but someone who understands their “new” life and their “new normal” is a welcome change.  No one can help them, and they know it. However, having someone even acknowledge their responsibility, fear, and stress is comforting.

For almost twenty years, I was a good obstetrician.  I thought I had the best job in the world, and at the time, I did.  For the last ten years, I have become a (hopefully) great gynecologist, gynechiatrist, intimacy, menopause, and sexual medicine physician, intimacy counselor, and survivorship gynecologist.  I have impacted lives in a different way.  I know that I helped so many women as an obstetrician; I loved them and I know that they felt the same about me. However, if I am truly honest, my obstetrical career satisfied me.  The gynecology career that I ended up with satisfies the reason that I went to medical school: my desire and need to help others.

Pamela Dee Gaudry, MD, NCMP
NAMS Certified Menopause Practioner
Medical Sex Therapist
Survivorship Medicine Physician
(and I’m still an Obstetrician 😉

You can host a screening at a theater near you of Dr. Pam’s film, “Love, Sweat, and Tears” through Gathr – they handle the details, it costs you nothing – you get your friends to go and promote the film. Click here for details.

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An Obstetrician’s Transition to Menopause and Survivorship Medicine

love, sweat, and tears

When I asked Dr. Pam Gaudry to share her personal story of how she came to create the film for menopausal women “Love, Sweat, and Tears”, I got way more than I bargained for. Her story brought me to tears at times.

Because she shares with such naked honesty her process of progressing from obstetrical physician to menopausal women’s advocate and then goes on to detail the tolls of caregiving, I am posting her poignant piece in two parts. More about “Love, Sweat, and Tears” at the end.

An Obstetrician’s Transition to Menopause and Survivorship Medicine
I fell in love with my job before I even had one.  I delivered a baby.  I brought life into the world.  As a medical student, a wonderful couple let me into one of the most amazing and private events that they would ever have in their lives: the birth of their child.  I was honored, thankful, appreciative, and overwhelmed.  I could not believe that I could get paid for doing something so beautiful and miraculous. This first time and the last time that I delivered a baby, I was overwhelmed; I had butterflies in my stomach.  I couldn’t wait to go to work every day of my life.

Why did your OB/GYN choose obstetrics and gynecology?  Because pap smears are fun?  Because we want to treat gonorrhea and chlamydia?  Because it’s amazing to see a bladder falling out?  No.  They fell in love with the excitement of bringing a sweet, adorable new life into the world.  Think about the fact that every time that an OB/GYN physician walks into an exam room with a pregnant woman, they have two patients in the room.  An OB/GYN loves their patients, and they love being part of the family.  They thrive on the excitement and thrill of bringing that life into the world. Obstetrics is our first love.

In 2005, I had a bustling obstetrics practice, my husband became ill with an oral cancer, I had 8-year-old twins, I was spending 6-8 nights a month in the hospital, and I was profoundly overwhelmed.  Something had to give.  Unfortunately, I had to give up the best part of my job – delivering my babies.

I really thought that I would hone my gynecologic surgical skills and become a better surgeon, and to some extent, that did happen.  However, I was flabbergasted that women were coming in just to “talk.”  I was shocked.  The major comment that I got was that they were glad that I now had time to address their gynecologic issues.  What?  I had always addressed their gynecologic issues.  How could they say that?  Well, it became apparent that I did not.  I especially did not address menopausal and intimacy issues.  When I thought about it, I realized that I very superficially discussed menopause and did not touch on the ‘legion’ of problems that peri-menopause and menopause causes.

I was always (very happily) running to Labor and Delivery and (unhappily) trying to rectify being very behind schedule in the office. There is no way to be an obstetrician and, “plan your day” – let alone your schedule.  When I had to stop delivering babies, my days changed overnight.  When I did obstetrics, a normal day was running from room to room and then to Labor and Delivery and then back to the office where I (usually unsuccessfully) tried to catch up to the schedule.  After I stopped doing obstetrics, I found myself entering a room, calmly sitting down, and talking to a patient for 20 minutes or so about menopausal and intimacy issues.

To be honest, I really did not have much training in this area; I went and got some.  I decided to become a certified menopause practitioner through the North American Menopause Society.  Additionally, I spent a couple of years getting a medical sex therapy certification.  There are not many gynecologists that have this kind of training.  Patients probably think that it is inherently part of our residency training in obstetrics and gynecology.  Unbelievably, it is not.  There is no information or training to draw from when treating these patients.   An OB/GYN must rely on their own personal experience as well as the experiences that we encounter during years of practice.  Surprisingly, in 2017, only 20% of residency programs have training in menopause and sexual medicine.  Kind of frightening and sad, isn’t it?

So many women ask me why their OB/GYN had not given them information about the changes that occur in the peri-menopausal transition.  My answer? They don’t know what they don’t know.

I had no idea that I was not really paying attention to my menopausal patients, and I’m sure that other OB/GYNs don’t know that either.  But, think about it.  If a physician rushes into the room, stands up the whole time, asks if you have any new problems or concerns, and you both know that the waiting room is full of pregnant women, crying babies, and strollers, and you know that there are probably two people in labor, it isn’t an atmosphere conducive to a discussion about your vaginal dryness, relationship issues (code word for sexual dysfunction and pain), hot flashes, and rage (pushing you to think about killing people).

When I look back, I feel badly about it; I (unknowingly) blew them off.  I probably, and very nicely, told them to try some systemic estrogen – and, oh by the way – it can give you breast cancer and blood clots.  After a quick exam, I was out the door.  There are sweet wonderful babies to deliver; there are mamas to comfort and reassure.  I gotta go.

I do things differently now.  I come in the room in a calm fashion, say hello, and sit down – giving my patient my full attention.  I spaced my visits out to 30 minutes.  I grab their hands and ask how they are handling the changes that their bodies have gone through in the last year.  It is not uncommon for someone to burst into tears.  I know now.  My dear patient, I will take care of these issues with you and for you.  If you were my patient in those first 18 years of my practice and I blew off your gynecologic and menopausal issues…I’m sorry.  I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

Pamela Dee Gaudry, MD, NCMP
NAMS Certified Menopause Practioner
Medical Sex Therapist
Survivorship Medicine Physician
(and I’m still an Obstetrician 😉 )

You can host a screening at a theater near you of Dr. Pam’s film, “Love, Sweat, and Tears” through Gathr – they handle the details, it costs you nothing – you get your friends to go and promote the film. Click here for details.

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Retire Meant: A Few More Thoughts

Blossoming © lynette sheppard

It was a delight to hear so many optimistic, exciting visions for retirement from goddesses in answer to our query. I decided to look up the word “retirement” in the dictionary. Here’s what I found:

noun
1.  the act of retiring, withdrawing, or leaving; the state of being retired.
2.  the act of retiring or of leaving one’s job, career, or occupation permanently, usually because of age
3.  the portion of a person’s life during which a person is retired
4.  removal of something from service or use
Those are some wornout, even depressing definitions. Luckily, we are creating our own definitions and making it up as we go. Most of us baby boomers started out rebelling against the status quo and I don’t see us stopping anytime soon. So here is a my definition of retirement: “a phase of life where one’s own priorities and desires dictate contribution to the whole.” In other words, we decide how we thrive and give back – whether it be gardening, mentoring grandchildren, or volunteering. And give back need not mean externalizing – I met one goddess recently who moved to an island to find and create her own “Walden Pond” to her family’s surprise. She follows her passions of writing and living primarily outdoors. So how does she give back? By simply being fulfilled. It’s a joy to be around those who are following their dreams and modeling living comfortably in their own skins.
I’d love to hear your definitions of retirement – post them here in the comments or email them to me at lynette@9points.com.  Here’s to our next great phase!

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More Visions of Retire Meant

Flower Spiral © lynette sheppard

We received so many great responses from you all – thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I wanted to make sure that these visions didn’t get lost in the comments, so am posting them in this blog entry. Be sure to read to the end, where R shares some concerns about retirement. We all learn from sharing our wisdom with one another, so thank you again!

PK wrote:  

I’m 64 now. I’ve been working since I was 10, at one gig or another. Can’t say I was dedicated to most of those gigs – they were a way to make a living, to support my other interests. Some of them were more intrinsically interesting than others, and one aligned with my higher purpose and felt really satisfactory. For the last 6 years I’ve worked from home primarily as a virtual office manager for a company based on the mainland. I’ve investigated the Social Security retirement plans and am staging a 2-year withdrawal from this company. However, my husband may get a full-time college professor job this year – and then I would retire almost immediately. What would I do with myself? I can think of about 1000 things – but first volunteer with children, be the full-time artist I’ve wanted to be all my life, garden, bake, be a domestic goddess, raise chickens. I look forward to it.

JM shares her own vision: 

Aloha Ladies, I am 61 and still have a 17 year old son at home. He is a jr in high school. Im still so very active being a mom and a grandmother to 11. I teach hula 3 times a week plus work. Being a photographer I can pick and choose my work times. I get a little sad thinking that one day coming up my son will be moving on. I see his excitement and dont want to dampen his enthusiasm for moving out of moms house! So this has been good for me to read as most of you have already passed this point years ago. I am not sure exactly what I will do, but Im sure traveling will be in the picture! Hula keeps me thriving so Im thinking of moving into taking classes to become a Kumu Hula. The older I get the more important relationships are, all relationships including my ancestors. I personally feel there is a whole new world waiting for me.
Yes I have sleepless nights, yes I still get too hot and then too cold. I just giggle and dont let myself get caught in any drama over it. I feel very alive and healthy.

K is looking forward to retirement too:  

As I approach retirement from about 3-1/2 years out — I think about it more and more often.

Right now, I feel like I am in kind of a transition or rehearsal phase. When I take a planned day off from work, I try to mimic what I would do if I didn’t have to report to the grindstone ever again. What would I do if I had my time as my own?

Most times, I try to spend some time in nature, taking a short hike on a trail I haven’t walked before and really open my eyes and drink in the textures, smells, and sights I will have the time to savor in the future.

I think a lot about the type of retired grandma I want to be. I want to be an active and a fun one to be around. One of my daughters is not too domesticated, so I’d like to expose her daughter to some of my favorite pasttimes (embroidery, sewing, gardening) that she otherwise doesn’t get to experience. (I’ve already begun that, but want to continue if it’s something she wants. I learned so much of this kind of thing from my grandmother).

Since the out-of-doors is important and nurturing for me, I would like to share that with my grandkids and continue to with my husband as long as possible. I see camping and many local hikes in the future. There’s a wonderful group of older women who maintain trails and camp together; I’ve been dreaming of joining them.

I branch out my thoughts to the dark times, winter and days when the driving rain keeps me indoors. I like to think I will busy myself finishing long-abandoned projects, starting new ones, taking classes on old and new hobbies. There are many groups who meet in our library system for conversations on local issues, arts, hobbies, travel, foreign language practice, and of course, books! I look forward to accessing those.

So, I guess what retirement means to me is that it is a trigger for the next exciting life series! I’ve done the rest—here comes the best! It’s a time of becoming enriched and enriching the lives of those you love. Of not letting life simply pass by, but enjoying and savoring every moment.

Still, not every woman is looking forward to retirement. R, a menopause Goddess sister from Portugal shares her concerns. I suspect she is not the only one of us caught in some conflict about these changes. Here’s her heartfelt musings:

I’ve found Menopause Goddesses blog by chance, sometimes I read it with the most attention, and sometimes not I have to say.
Retirement subject is not very close for me yet, I’m a Portuguese 55 years woman living near Lisbon our capital and this year the allowed retirement age as come to 66 years and 3 months, or 60 years age and 40 of discount career for pension found, this last option with 6%/year tax and a sustainability tax of 13,8%, resuming, too much limitative for us to think about it, unless you think to live your retirement begging. Situation in Portugal is not friendly for those that think retire sooner than official age.

Although the approaching of that stage of live for my husband, that is 5 years older than me, scares me a lot, besides work he always count with me next to him for everything and I’m afraid to feel myself under a dominance I’m not used to.
I know that in US young people leave their parents’ home when they went to university but in Portugal we have not that tradition, only the students that have less score classifications go to universities outside their residence area.

My 2 daughters with 33 (the older is a journalist and actually is working as public relations) and 26 years (she’s a nurse) have study near and they’re still living with us.
The difficulty to rent or buy a flat in our country is huge for young, and the salaries sometimes are not enough to face their responsibilities sooner, they are now both thinking to rent a flat and share expenses, this situation is causing me the feeling of empty nest, the past 35 years I’ve been first a mother, a wife and less a woman so I’m feeling lost and I don’t know my role any more, I’m beginning to feel also the weight of menopause literally (both: body weight and feelings).

Sorry if I extended myself too much but we still feel this subject as banned in our society, the women don’t like to show their disability to face this stage of mind and always try to show themselves very open mind, with millions of activities, dressing as teenagers sometimes acting if their daughters were rivals.
Thanks for sharing with us.

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Retire Meant

Flying Free © lynette sheppard

Fifteen+ years ago, Theresa-Venus and I had one of those life altering conversations. We were going through perimenopause and wondered if something might seriously be wrong with us. No one told us that all these horrifying symptoms and maladies were going to come with the Big M. We thought that maybe we’d be a little warm once in a while and never have to worry about wearing white pants again.

That conversation spawned the Menopause Goddess Group, our book “Becoming a Menopause Goddess”, and this blog. On average, we have 35,000 visitors each month. That reinforces the fact that we are not alone. We’ll keep this site going – well, as long as we keep going.

Theresa and I had another of “those talks” a couple of weeks ago. A few Menopause Goddesses we know are retiring this year and looking forward to it. It got us to thinking, though. What does retirement mean to each of us? In what ways will we create a vibrant life after “work”? What does it look like to each of us to “retire”?

Before we share our thoughts and feelings, we’d like to hear from you – how do you envision retirement? Or if you are retired, what fulfills you? Is the reality of retirement different from your initial vision? What would you share with your sisters about retirement?

We look forward to hearing from you – write your answers and musings in the comments or email lynette@9points.com  Don’t be shy – this site is about women sharing wisdom – we want to hear from you.

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Maca Root Superfood Black Friday Sale

Yellow Hibiscus with Waterfall © lynette sheppard

Yellow Hibiscus with Waterfall © lynette sheppard

I know, I know! After yesterday, we may never want to eat again. Except we all know that we will. So a heads up about the Black Friday  – Cyber Monday Maca sale starting today!

Maca is a superfood and for menopausal women it is so much more.

From today November 25 – 28, 2016, you can take 40% off all products in their Yellow Gelatinized and Yellow Raw Maca Categories!

Maca Root is a Peruvian plant that boosts strength and energy. It is particularly helpful in hormone balancing and revitalizing lost libido for menopausal women. Available in powder form or elixir, maca root has virtually no side effects (though a small # of women report mild gas with the powder version.) A couple of our original goddesses swear by it. For more info or to order, please visit The Maca Team. They source non-Gmo, organic maca root from Peru.

maca-recipes

Also, they have some really great recipes on their site – although, I know – we are never going to eat again.  Here’s the link:  Maca Team

Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Black Friday Comes Early This Year

Tangled Turkey © lynette sheppard

Tangled Turkey © lynette sheppard

Slumber Cloud, one of my favorite product websites is having an early Black Friday sale – up to 40% off! Here’s the link – sale lasts from now until Nov. 28. Don’t miss out – we menopausal goddesses NEED a comfortable, restful night’s sleep.

Here’s the link: http://try.slumbercloud.com/black-friday-cyber-monday-sale/

dcf8fa96-homepage-banner-text-only_1130fr0qk0ee05901d

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. We are grateful for all of you! Together we will not only survive, we will thrive. (And no, I’m not going to share diet tips or workouts – let’s just enjoy a lovely holiday without guilt. Besides, it is such a wasted and wasting emotion. Say it with me: Gratitude, not guilt. Gratitude, not guilt, Gratitude, not guilt. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh.

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The Magic of Menopause

magic-of-meno

Lorraine Miano, an Integrative Certified Health Coach, sent me her new book: The Magic of Menopause, A Holistic Guide to Get Your Happy Back. I admit the title set me back a bit – after all, it used to be that books on menopause were either dry medicalese or overly perky treatises that only served as a further irritant during the throes of menopause.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Lorraine didn’t shy away from all the suckiness of the Change. She freely shares stories of her transition as well as that of others. Then she moves on to offer helpful options and solutions for beginning to survive and then thrive during the Big M. With humor and heart, she offers a guide to beginning to indeed “get your happy back”.

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