Reviews & Testimonials

Reviews for Dr. Deah's Calmanac Patricia Kirby of The Art Therapy Blog, works hard to provide a website full of valuable resources for people using art therapeutically.  The Art Therapy Blog recently interviewed me about The Calmanac, and here is an excerpt from the piece.  CLICK HERE for the full transcript. Dr. Deah’s Calmanac is patterned after The Old Farmer’s Almanac. The OFA is a guide for cultivating healthy gardens and crops. Dr. Deah’s Calmanac is a guide for cultivating a healthier and more positive body image. Each chapter coincides with a month of the year and provides the reader with the predictable triggers in that month that may present challenges for anyone struggling with a negative body image and or disordered eating patterns. In addition, each chapter includes an example of how those situations can look in real life and finally each chapter provides two self-help art directives that can be used to proactively address those triggers. In fact, in the book I refer to these directives as Proactivities. The Proactivities may be used in groups as well as by individuals.

What can people expect to learn from Calmanac?

The most important thing that I am hoping people learn from The Calmanac is that they are not alone in the struggle to find a place of peace and self-acceptance around their body and that even though our culture reinforces negative body image, we are ultimately in control over how we feel about ourselves. It is a book about taking back our power and knowing that our bodies are as diverse as anything else in nature. No one looks at a cantaloupe and a banana and loves the banana simply because it is a thinner fruit. Both are nutritious, both are useful, and both are beautiful in their own unique way. Learning how to embrace human diversity in that same way is possible, but it is a learning process because we have been taught since we are very young that beauty and health supposedly come in one body type.

What or who inspired you to write Calmanac?

My first book, Leftovers DVD/Workbook Set was created primarily for therapists and educators training future therapists in how to use Expressive Arts Therapies to address body image issues and eating disorders. It is a great resource but I wanted to create something that was more accessible to a larger (no pun intended) audience. The Calmanac, while it can be used very effectively by therapists and educators in clinical settings, is really targeted towards anyone who has ever woken up in the morning with that inner voice in their head telling them that they are not okay because they do not weigh a certain amount or wear a certain size clothing. This idea that we are only valued by our appearance is so prevalent in our society and is so damaging. The idea that I could possibly provide some relief, hope, laughter, and most importantly healing, to people was a “catalystic” inspiration for me to write The Calmanac.

What’s your favorite part of the book?

That’s a challenging question! There are several stories in the book that I really love. The May and June chapters about mothers and dads respectively I think are poignant and archetypal and people will really relate to those. And I love how the book is formatted. It is an easy read, approachable and relatable. But I would have to say my favorite part is at the beginning of the book I explain that not everyone is into doing activities in workbooks. I have numerous self-help workbooks in my library that are still in mint condition but sometimes just reading through what the Proactivity is asking you to do and to think about can be enough of an eye opener and inspiration for thought and healing for some folks. I also like the fact that I don’t include any visual examples of the Proactivities. I think we are so used to being judged and comparing ourselves to others that I didn’t want to impede the individual’s creative flow by giving them anything that may make them feel that their work had to look like a photo in the book.  

Keep Calm and Find Body Peace: A Review of Dr. Deah’s Calmanac

By Erin McKelle and Allison Epstein
AE: It’s laid out like a more portable version of the Farmer’s Almanac, but readers of Dr. Deah’s Calmanac will be gaining knowledge about more than just planting advice and what days it’s expected to rain. This is no almanac – it’s a calmanac, designed to, in its own words, “plan our garden of positive body image around the elements that are most certain to occur… [creating] a sense of safety, control, and calmness.” Sounds like a message I can get behind! EM: I have to say, my spirit was instantly lifted just by looking at the cover. Yellow is not usually a color I’m particularly fond of, but in this case, it brought me nothing but tranquility. I love the idea of playing off of the Farmers Almanac and the acknowledgement of body positivity being a process, not a quick-fix solution.  I really enjoyed the way the book is structured by months. I like the idea of reading and revisiting a book throughout the year instead of just reading it once and then forgetting everything about it. Body positivity is a journey, and I love how this book acknowledges that and embodies it. Living in a body-positive way is a really massive undertaking, and I’ve found personally that it can take a lot of time to really digest. Using this book over the course of a year definitely gives you that time to reflect.- See more at:
"...Reading Calmanac (Calming Almanac) is like sitting down for a cup of coffee with a quirky, funny friend who shares her philosophy about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and how to achieve that happiness without the tyranny of dieting and self hatred. Dr. Deah (as the author refers to herself) is a champion of the Health at Every Size Movement which encourages people to focus on healthy eating rather than lamenting about the size of their body. Dr. Deah's Calmanac combines a personal diary with a twelve month interactive guide. Her goal is to help readers transform their negative body image and disordered eating into a "body-positive" way of life. Each chapter (month) has four components: Personal Perspective: The author's musings on eating and emotions. Predictable Challenges: Themes to be aware of during the month. Important Dates to Remember: Opportunities for activism or possible triggers that may arise during that month. Proactive Activities: Using her extensive experience in expressive arts therapy, Dr. Deah includes arts and crafts suggestions for readers to explore their personal body image issues. In a culture where dieting, weight loss, and plastic surgery are touted as the routes to achieving happiness with yourself, Dr. Deah encourages the reader to become more responsive to hunger, fullness, and mindful eating and to love one's body without apology, judgment, or shame. Her primary theme throughout:  Body Acceptance is the true antidote to self hatred. Dr. Deah exhorts us to embrace: "I am a perfect size me!" --Mary Anne Cohen, Director of The New York Center for Eating Disorders "...When it comes to issues of positive body image and all the complexities around loving ourselves just the way we are, it's easy to know what we want to happen, and a lot harder to figure out how to make it happen. There are quite a few good books out there about the politics of fat and size acceptance. We can shake our heads in agreement, but that doesn't necessarily change how we feel about ourselves. That's where a book from someone like Dr. Deah comes in. As a clinician who also has a personal story to tell, she is able to meld pragmatism with empathy -- which is an excellent combination for a book that helps to get things done and is interesting to read all the while. Think of this as a workbook for the brain and soul. It's about figuring out how how to feel good and actually feeling that way. That is a lot to pack into one book, and valuable for anyone of any size or shape." --Rebecca Jane Weinstein, author Fat Sex "...I opened my copy of Dr. Deah's Calmanac with excited anticipation and I was not disappointed. I read the entire book in two days. Brilliant! I love the monthly format and the expressive arts activities are wonderful. I wish I had ordered copies for many of my clients. Deah's sense of humor and her witty comments made me LOL. I hily recommend this book to anyone who has ever struggled with body image issues, compulsive eating, dieting disorders, etc. It's a winner!" --Ellyn Herb, LCSW "...It's Christmas morning and I'm reading my copy of Dr. Deah's Calmanac while I wait for others to wake. What a gift! Now I wish I had one wrapped for everyone under the's terrific! Her gripping introduction drew me in and her use of humor and personal narrative make factual information about health and wellness relevant to me. The Calmanac will touch readers in multiple ways as it plants seeds of hope in what can be experienced as a hopeless body-negative world at times. Each month offers opportunities to grow body-esteem, heal seemingly disparate and disowned parts of ourselves, and graft new positive ideas about our bodies, our health and our well-being. Brava--Dr. Deah!" --CJ Ross Reviews for the LEFTOVERS Workbook/DVD set “....any therapist working with clients with Eating Disorders must include this workbook in their professional library. This is the Cookbook  of all Eating Disorders Interventions. Made with creativity, humor—and well thought out activity plans—the LEFTOVERS Workbook is a step-by-step guide made specifically for therapists to help them achieve their goals in working with people with Eating Disorders and Body Image Issues.” —Kathy Miller-Higgs, Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, Langley Porter Psychiatric Hospital and Clinic “I was enthralled with the DVD Leftovers and think the workbook is wonderful! I love what you have created and applaud your courage and wisdom!” -Judy Freed, Registered Drama Therapist and Creator of the one-woman show, “Food Fight.” Philadelphia, PA. “As a therapist who works with disordered eating clients, I have found that the LEFTOVERS workbook has been very helpful in healing clients  struggling to make their mind/body connections whole. The workbook is very interactive with a multidimensional focus designed to help clients and therapists working together.  I will definitely continue to use LEFTOVERS in my practice!” —Robin Heller, LCSW Oakland, CA I am loving the Leftovers DVD!” -Camerin Ross, MA, Tiburon, CA “A unique tool for therapists to use with their patients/clients  as treatment  for disordered eating and body dissatisfaction as well as for educators training students how to be effective practitioners. “As Faculty Emerita of the Recreation/Creative Arts Therapy program at San Francisco State, I spent 15+ years teaching new practitioners how to treat addiction and compulsion disorders. I also had a practice as a recreation/creative arts therapist treating people recovering from issues of addiction. I found that creative modalities work exceptionally well for these populations. “I wish a workbook like this had been around then. I would have mandated it for all of my therapy classes and relied heavily on it in my own practice. Not only does it provide practical protocols and full treatment sessions, but it has the added benefit of a DVD that is a creative movie that goes along with each session. “For a student learning to facilitate groups, or for practitioners in social work, recreation therapy, occupational therapy, allied therapists, rehab therapists, activity directors, creative arts therapists, psychotherapists, and educators, this is a must- have guide. It is applicable for individual and group sessions—and provides a full 16 week treatment plan, handouts and creative therapeutic activities in a variety of expressive arts modalities. “It is also written by two masters in their respective fields—a renowned psychotherapist and a distinguished  educator who not only administrated a variety of creative arts/recreation therapy programs in institutional settings, but taught several generations of students how to use hands-on activities for therapy.  This is their magnum opus. “We are fortunate to have this wonderful addition to our field of practice culled from years and years of experience in the field and in the classroom.” —Dr. Laura Rifkin, Faculty Emerita S.F.S.U., Former coordinator of Recreation and Expressive Arts Therapy emphasis Reviews for the LEFTOVERS theatre piece “LEFTOVERS is a moving play about the struggles many people have with body image, love, and how food can become a way to manage one’s difficult feelings around these and other issues.  The play is a catalyst for stimulating discussion and reflection and can be used as an effective adjunct to working clinically and educationally with families, individuals, and groups.” —Amy Glick, MFT Berkeley, CA psychotherapist “The show offers a wry sophistication, a humorous yet very honest view of a nagging problem that is played unaffectedly and with panache.... It ends with a positive manifesto: after all the struggles, laments and guilt, the last happiness is the acceptance of and pride in the self as it is. What’s inside instead of out.” —Don Nelson Daily News (review of the off-Broadway stage show) “What made this theatre piece particularly effective was the range and depth of emotions touched upon, and the insight which each of the women in the cast clearly possess.... LEFTOVERS is intensely personal, yet highly entertaining theatre.” —Liz M. Braun Haight Ashbury Newspaper “...a comic, compassionate, insightful and ultimately courageous theatre piece about women who are fat—or believe they are, it makes little difference—in an age when thin is in.... it soon becomes clear however, that they could as easily be talking about such other compulsive behaviors as sex, smoking, work and alcohol—to name but four.” —John V. Hurst The Sacramento Bee “LEFTOVERS reheats the trials and tribulations of fat women, but could be served to anyone with any socially-induced compulsive habits (i.e.smoking, working, drinking, buying, driving)... LEFTOVERS rises above being uncomfortable psychodrama, and becomes fine entertainment with a satisfyingly educational effect.” —Chris Orr PLEXUS, San Francisco Bay Area Women’s Newspaper “LEFTOVERS is... a clever, funny, self-deprecating but frequently sharp exploration of the external and internal conditioning that causes so many women to spend so much of their adult lives dieting and binging, losing and gaining weight.” —Marti Keller Drama Critic, Berkeley Gazette “Performing in leotards so that every bulge shows.... the trio works quickly through about an hour of fast-paced a capella songs and skits related to various aspects of fat... The performers work their material expertly, moving from comic exaggeration... to compassionate moments of introspection, and using their voices beautifully in song and as backup instruments.” —Robert Hurwitt Express, The East Bay’s Free Weekly “LEFTOVERS: The Ups and Downs of a Compulsive Eater addresses the important issue of compulsivity in a sensitive and intelligent way...” —Marti Hanna Acting Director, Women’s Resources and Research Center, University of California, Davis “Marcia Kimmell, Deah Schwartz and Anne Wilford are all improvisational veterans, and well at home on stage.... they have tapped into the collecive fat consciousness, and have brought every woman’s fat fears to the spoken word... It is a sensitive and delicate piece in many ways, despite the unbounding energy these three women expend on stage. If you’re 5 pounds underweight, or 50 pounds overweight, LEFTOVERS has got your number.” —Viola Weinberg KTIM FM, San Rafael, CA “I found myself identifying with many of the problems, and feeling many of the emotions that were being enacted onstage. It is really a question of self-perception and that is why the work is so valuable and appealing.” —Carol Lucha Burns Associate Professor, Theatre, University of New Hampshire “After watching a performance, we discovered that our individual problems are not unique—and with this knowledge, we were brought even closer together by the experience. The LEFTOVERS production is an inspiring work.” —Angela Tonies Stanford Women’s Center, Office of Student Activities