Montreal Street Photography, VI Plus a Before/After

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Escort, 2015

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Sunstroke, 2015

12 Steps

12 Steps

Melon

Melon, 2015

Polite in Flannel

Polite in Flannel, 2015

Springboard

Springboard, 2015

Grit

Grit, 2015

Genesis

Genesis, 2015

My street photography dropped off significantly the past three weeks because 1) I’m back on the bike and 2) I was busy losing sleep.  Biking is great for the spirit but terrible for street photography.  There are only so many pictures I can capture from my rear-view mirror and they all look like this:

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I feel the loss of momentum but not inspiration so I seize every opportunity.  For example, I took this shot with a shaky iPhone as I nursed Farrah Star:

Fallen Hero

Fallen Hero

I saw her with a cape and rainbow and the caption wrote itself.  I like it but it’s a crappy picture.  Here’s the original:

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I forced it with software, cranking up the contrast and color in a super-hero style because I felt that strongly about the image and its mood.

I’d love to hear your feedback.  How far do you go?  What’s your fix when you just can’t let an image go?

Things to ponder this weekend.  Have a good one and keep your head up!

Visiting Salvation: Born in Bermuda, Sam’s Story

Visiting Salvation is your story.

I met Dawn during a Conscious Birth Class in Bermuda and we were part of each other’s village during the first year of Arlo and Poppy’s lives.  Still living in Bermuda, Dawn recently brought Sam into her world.  Here is their birth story:

 The thought of labour never really worried me because unfortunately, I did not enjoy being pregnant with Poppy or Sam; let’s just say I do not “bloom” in pregnancy.  I had GD (gestational diabetes) again with this pregnancy and gained a lot of weight, so much so that the nurse at the Diabetic Clinic said she would not like me to be any heavier.  I watched what I ate and never went near a sweet, pudding or chocolate.  I was not allowed to eat fruit until after lunch as the natural sugars would make my testing be high.

The thought of labour (and the end of pregnancy) was always a blessing.

 I met with Fiona Dill, my Doula, on February 3rd as we had just moved into our house that week and she recommended I have a stand-by doula as she would be away on my due date of February 13th.  She gave me the names and the websites of both of the ladies and we said our goodbyes and I went back to painting our old house.

I had been having pains all day but that was nothing unusual.  I did however mention it to my husband, Neil.  I had a shower and put Poppy to bed and we did our usual bedtime story.  As I said goodnight my waters broke and I mean broke.  I had to stand in the hallway with seven towels!  We called Fiona and had a joke about me knowing she was going away and that it was also a full moon.  I went into labour with Poppy on a full moon too!  Unfortunately my waters were green in color so I was advised to make my way to the hospital.  We arrived at 10pm – me in my pjs with towels between my legs – we walked all the way.  Many people asked if I would like a chair and I refused. The nurses did their tests by monitoring the baby’s heart rate and checking my blood pressure.

They let me labour for a few hours and then said I was not progressing and there was a higher risk to the baby the longer they left it … so Pitocin was administered into a drip.  The levels were increased slowly.  I knew what was coming next as I had the same with Poppy.  HELL the contractions were so intense I did not have time between the contractions!  I had gas-and-air at this point and Fiona asked for the Pitocin to be turned down.  They checked me and I was only 4cm dilated.  I asked for an epidural as I knew I would never do it by myself – it was just too much.  All in I had a Pitocin IV, fluids, epidural, heart monitor, my blood pressure being taken, my sugar levels being tested and then they were asking me to sign papers to confirm my address and confirmation of my epidural.  I could have been signing my life away, I really had no idea at this stage.

I know that pushing started and took around 4hours. Along with my husband and Fiona, my doula, at delivery there was also my OB and five nurses.  I delivered my baby at 1:20pm with labour lasting 17hours.  He weighed 7.15oz, was 21inches long with a 15inch head; he was a big boy.  At birth, the nursery was called as he had fluid on his lungs.  He was wrapped up and taken away.  I did not get to hold him until later.

When I next saw him he had an IV in his little hand and he had antibiotics for 48hours in case there was any form of bacteria.  The test results take 48hours but they administer the antibiotics straight away.  Once the test results came back negative they took his IV out.

 Everyone had told me he had lots of hair but he was taken away so quickly that I didn’t notice.  After a few hours I asked for him and they said they were still doing tests.  At 5pm the nurse came in and said “I think someone is hungry!”  He was wheeled in, in the small plastic bassinet and I lifted him out and he was the most beautiful little bundle of joy I had ever seen. Already with a full head of brown hair he looked like a little man. My new little man!!!!

Poppy and Sam

Poppy and Sam

Poppy and Sam

Poppy and Sam

Thank you so much Dawn for sharing your birth story.  You are a doting, loving mother and this world is a better place for your lighthearted and good-natured parenting.

Do you have something to share with the BPS community?   Birth, bird-watching, motherhood, street photography from your home town or how much candy is too much candy – if there is such a thing?  If you’d like to Visit Salvation, erase my details, add yours and submit the form below.  I will contact you with next steps.

 

MMM: On Bizard Pond

Mostly Montreal Monday

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Shots and thoughts from my new home of Montreal

Saturday was our second visit to Parc-nature du Bois-de-l’Île-Bizard but a completely different one as we were able to bring the bikes.  There is a lovely series of bridges to ride which was lots of fun for Arlo and a perfect perch for me to park and look for birds.

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There were red-winged blackbirds everywhere and a few obvious mallards and geese.  There was no doubt more to see at the edges of this lush marsh/pond complex because most of the watchers had equipment like this guy:

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I pointed downwards instead.

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I also took note of the beautiful ordinary.

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Then out of nowhere, a green heron flew in over this goose and I was all BAM!

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SNAP!

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OH YEAH!

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CLICK!

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Etc.

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I never met a heron I didn’t want to photograph to death.

The goose left and whenever a goose flies solo it cracks me up because it appears so cartoonish in the air.

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Then I saw a Mother Goose working very hard at tending her nest and I took back everything I just said about her flying relative.  Happy Mother’s Day, Goose.

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Speaking of mothers and nest and ponds, here are two of my favorite books from our home library.  I think you’ll enjoy them too.

Via Amazon.com

Via Amazon.com

Via Amazon.com

Via Amazon.com

Happy Monday!

From your Montreal Explorers

From your Montreal Explorers

Kaher | Black Panty Salvation

The one that started it all.

Kaher | Black Panty Salvation.

Happy Mother’s Day to you.
Peace to you.
Love to you, in all you do.

Lisa

But Now I See

My husband Kris had the honor of toasting his parents during their 50th Anniversary party a couple of weeks ago.  An excerpt:

“The seeds of these opportunities were sown through your hard work and dedication to the family.  I don’t know how obvious it is to all of us, but our success and perhaps excess were only achievable from the sacrifices you made.

I hope one day I’ll be able to explain to Arlo and Farrah about your sacrifices and how everything they have can be traced back to them.  I hope that one day I’ll be able to add to them myself, to show to Arlo and Farrah how one generation can speak to the generations that follow.”
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Kris and his sister Jui with their parents.

When I first met Kris sixteen years ago (WHAT) I had many labels for him and probably the most frequent was “SPOILED”.  I didn’t come from a place where family took care of you, supported you without expectation or repayment (with interest, natch), and because I wasn’t raised that way I thought there was something wrong with those who were.

I was deaf, dumb and blind until I married and mothered into this great family.  Only then could I see how everything my mother- and father-in-law did for their son would funnel directly down to my children – children they could’ve only hoped for while busy raising their own.  My kids could not have the endless opportunities they enjoy if their father didn’t also have them – and use them in the first place.  Even I have endless opportunities because of the way my husband was parented.  Isn’t that amazing?  I see now how love can flow in every direction and from a source so full and faithful it finds the most distant branches and gives them life.

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Happy Mother’s Day to my children’s Mimmi, my mother-in-law, my husband’s mother; from whom such blessings flow.

What I Learned From Nepal

I went to Nepal after the conclusion of my 2000 Habitat for Humanity trip to India.  I saw Kathmandu, Pokhara, woke up to watch a glorious sunrise over the Annapurna Mountains, played with a baby goat, traded English branded t-shirts for local wovens and flew in the tiniest, shakiest propeller plane to the top of Mt. Everest.

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I went with my best friend Patty and a new friend Sherri who I had just met before India; our Team Leader connected us after learning Sherri and I both lived in San Francisco.  Patty and I were inseparable for years and sometimes so wrapped up in each other I ignored or was even unkind to anyone else.  I don’t even know where Patty lives today.  As high as it soared, that friendship burned to ashes just as quick.  I know where Sherri lives though.  Sixteen years later, I know her and she knows me through the peaks of marriage, kids, career changes and some sunrises that came too soon after nights that lasted way too long.  Sixteen years and counting.

I’m donating to Rebuild Nepal via charity:water in honor of Sherri’s lasting friendship.

Beautiful Nepal.  May you rise from the ashes!

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Enjoy it. Because it Goes So Fast. – The Ugly Volvo

Enjoy it. Because it Goes So Fast. – The Ugly Volvo.

Spot. On.  A hearty chuckle, then a nod:

“And to all the parents who tell me “it goes so fast,” please know that yes, you are right.   It does go so fast.  I don’t always feel like hearing that, but I promise I do know it.”

MMM: Where the Wild Birds Are

Mostly Montreal Monday

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Shots and thoughts from my new home of Montreal

Last fall we met a couple who told us if we wanted to see big birds, they’d likely be at Parc des Rapides.  Eight months later we made it.

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As owners of a new bike rack and parents of a new bike rider, we came to this park to ride along the river path jointly and safely.  As it happened, Kris got a flat tire, diverting him and the kids to the playground while I cycled back and got the car.  I took a rushed twenty minutes of this detour to bird-watch but I could have stayed for hours, for days.

I am a lover of a big birds; herons, cranes, egrets so I was pleased – emotional even – when I saw two such beauties during my watch.  They were at quite a distance (shot with my Canon 7D and 300mm ) but it didn’t matter.  As the red-winged blackbirds yakkity-yakked overhead, I realized it had been ages since I’d heard any bird’s song and along with the morning’s bright sun, it warmed my heart.  I can’t wait to return; I have at least eight weeks until it snows again I think.

Happy Monday!

Your Montreal Explorers

(Two of) Your Montreal Explorers

In My Defense

Your outpouring of support during Medicating Salvation has been a tonic and I thank you so much.  From sharing personal experiences to offering pats on the back to telling me about my amygdala, the almond-shaped set of neurons in my head that need to chill the f*ck out, well, you’re the reason why I put myself out there.  Here.

Sometimes however, like that time at your high school prom, putting out can bite you in the ass.  In the middle of a dialogue about my attack, my friend underestimated my vulnerability and called this blog, my words, a “portrait of depression”.

It made me think of my kids reading this blog, as I’m sure they will one day, maybe as teenagers but probably as adults and/or parents.  It’s not the first time I’ve thought about it and while I write for myself, I am accountable to them.  So please let me be clear:

Dear Children,

Getting to you was the hardest and most heart-wrenching thing I ever endured but no sadness or stillness could keep me from you, and nothing, nothing could keep me from you now.

Labor and birth was agony but the purity of your entrance gave me the most powerful and clarifying experience of my life.  You and I are bigger than any pain or despair.  You and I are a phoenix.

Moving, engorgement, polar vortices, sleep deprivation, traveling husband, moving and moving again have been hard and sad and isolating but you and I, my Darlings, we are resolute.  My love for you is stronger than anything that will ever happen to me.

While biking around yesterday morning, Farrah, you and I fell upon this playground and stayed here, alone, for more than hour.  What the hell?  Where is everyone?

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But on the way here, I kept jabbering as I am wont to do: “Hmmmm…..where in the heck are we?  What are we doing?  Where should we go?  Hmm.  Where are we?”  And Farrah Star, do you know what did?  You turned your head to look at me and smiling, replied, “MONTREAL!”

Worth it.  Empty playgrounds, skipped breakfasts, terrible sleep.  Worth it.

Arlo and Farrah, all these words all these years should tell you what I already know: the hardest work reaps the sweetest rewards.  In ever single instance, in every single post, you are not the work; being with you is not hard.  Being with you is the reward.  I’m not afraid of trials and heartache nor am I afraid of talking about them or of you reading them.  You are perfect to me and we to each other; it is only the path that has potholes.

This is my Portrait of Parenthood, not of Depression, my testimony of a life well-lived but a life hard-earned.  How we got here is merely a story, but who we are is the Universal Truth:  I grew you and birthed you and there has never been nor will there ever be anything more perfect than what you and I are together.  The rest is just details.

I love you,

Momma

Medicating Salvation: Know Clonazepam Know Peace

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A chronicle for my own understanding and history, and some light reading while in the trenches.

Continued from No Xanax No Peace

Tuesday Night

I feel great from school pick-up until about 10:00pm when sleep should be imminent.  The switch goes on.  The hot water bottle offers solace but it cannot block the rush.  I take a melatonin and lie down then immediately get up, spinning.  I take my first Xanax at 10:45pm.  An hour later I take a sleeping pill.  I consider taking two and wonder if I’ll die.  Everything stops and moments of sleep flutter in and flutter out.  I have to leave the bed.  I cannot lie next to Kris who sleeps so soundly, yet everything plummets at the prospect of being alone.  I boil more water for the hot water bottle and move to the sofa.  I avoid all clocks.

I mourn my husband, my kids, myself.

I know at some point I do sleep because I dream.

Wednesday

One more day, one more pound lost.

Half-blind with fatigue but dread-full, Farrah and I go to the walk-in clinic.  Like any parent I hate bringing my healthy kid around sick people and since she’s a thumbsucker I feel worse.  Cue more guilt and despair:  If only I wasn’t _______ then I wouldn’t have to put my child at risk.  But I am so I do.  Spin cycle.

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It takes two hours to see a doctor and when we finally do I start sobbing and confess all.  She confirms my physical wellness, questions my mental wellness, scraps the .25mg Xanax and tells me to take .5mg Clonazepam twice a day for an entire week – regardless of how I am feeling – and then once conquered, use as needed.

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Wednesday Night – PILL ONE

With my new pattern of terror one night, collapse the next, I don’t think I need the Clonazepam.  (See how I am?)  My body will shut down on Collapse Night so why should I take it?  I’m very scared.  I detest mind-altering drugs (see Marijuana Doula).  Kris knows this but gently pushes.  I take the pill and simultaneously the terror washes over me, just like every night.

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Indescribable panic fills my veins as I think the one thing that should work is not.  Kris talks me down, reminds me it’s only been 15 minutes.  I exhale and distract myself with an episode of Friends.  Very soon my body grows heavy.  Kris helps me to bed with the hot water bottle I now cannot live without.  My chest is busy, my mind is busy but it is Collapse Night so I sleep.

I wake when Kris comes to bed later.  Surge for several minutes then sleep.  The cats do their usual 3am howl.  Surge for several minutes, despair over Clonazepam not working/needing sleeping pill, panic about having to move to the sofa but then … sleep.

Thursday – PILL TWO

One more day, one less pound.  I have no appetite and realize this is the cause of the daytime tremors but eating makes me sick.  In other words, everything is fucked up.  I cannot put too fine a point on that.

I wonder again, why am I taking this pill?  I don’t have these attacks during the day and well, I have children to raise.  But I do it.  I do it because the doctor told me to and with Kris’s sound logic, I remind myself that I can wean off later.

After hemming and hawing with Kris about whether he should stay home or go to work (“BUT WHAT IF I PASS OUT?!?”), he leaves and the kids and I head out to school.  We walk because 1) I’ve been counseled not to drive or bike and 2) if anything does happen to me there were be plenty of strangers on the street to help.  Welcome to my life.

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I feel nothing different except not caring about being 15 minutes late which is notable because I have never been late to school, let alone 15 minutes’ worth.  It’s a good feeling this not feeling.  I sure know my kids are happier for not being bullied/rushed around.

Farrah and I have a good time wandering back home.  She’s content.  Everything feels normal.  I prep a dinner I won’t eat.

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I am clear in thought and even inspired as I decide to move Farrah’s play kitchen into our kitchen.

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After nap we walk back to school to get Arlo and then go to a friend’s house to play.  I feel totally normal until this friend tells me that he and Kris will likely go out to drinks Saturday night which I only hear as “You will be ALONE Saturday night.”  Cue churning gut, loose bowels, cold sweats. etc.  Could he tell?  It was time to go home anyway so we made it outside and then things got worse.  I have walked many times with the kids loose on the busy streets of Montreal and while it is always nerve-wracking it never manifests physically.  Today though I was almost vomiting from the panic at them running too fast or being too close to the curb or pausing too long — every single thing made me sick and I could not get us home fast enough.

I’m a week in at this point and I’m pissed.  I’m more scared than pissed, but pissed nonetheless.

Thursday Night – PILL THREE

Things calm down at the dinner table but there’s no question of taking the Clonazepam after the kids are in bed.  I’ve also decided to sleep in the extra bed upstairs.  No howling cats, no snoring husband.  When the pill kicks in, I trust I’ll sleep.  I’m not scared, or if the fear is there, the medicine is holding it back.  I sleep and don’t really wake up until the kids do at 6am.  I am elated and enjoy my bounding-in bedmate who is delighted to see his Momma upstairs.

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Friday – PILL FOUR

One more day, no pounds lost.

I take the pill, don’t even think about it and feel no impact from it the whole day.  It was a day like any other.  A good day.

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Friday Night – PILL FIVE

My appetite has returned.  I feel certain that It won’t come tonight.  I already feel like maybe It is something in my past.  But I take the Clonazepam anyway and retire to my sanctuary upstairs.  It never comes.  I fall asleep to Jenna Mulroney choking on artificial coffee creamer.  I shut the laptop and sleep all night.

In the morning I think about that episode of 30 Rock that revolved around Liz Lemon taking an anti-anxiety pill for a flight.

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Stars – They’re Just Like Us!  This is so normal.  Is this normal?  I can’t go to sleep.  A week ago I could go to sleep and now I need a pill and the mind control of David Blaine to shut my eyes for 30 seconds.

Saturday – PILL SIX

Just going with the prescribed flow.

Saturday Night – PILL SEVEN

Before I even take the pill Arlo wakes up from vomiting everywhere.  In the shower, with the laundry, getting him dressed, etc. and I panic that now I’ve waited too long.  The attack doesn’t come but it feels like it might.  To make matters worse (for me), Kris retires to bed with Arlo (who was fine, just too aggressive a cough), with his laptop and headphones so I am left alone.  I take the pill and wait, then make the big mistake of peeking in to Kris’ bedroom to make sure he’s still awake.  Dumb.  I make it upstairs and fall asleep anyway.  Amen.

Sunday – PILL SEVEN-AND-A-HALF

Yesterday’s pill made me a bit groggy and that just tells me I don’t need it so I only take half of today’s pill.  I am still groggy and sleepy but I also know it’s because I did too much.  Whatever that means.  My children’s whole room had to be basically laundered and disinfected before nap and who’s going to do that?  This is the one truism of my parenthood: it doesn’t matter how I feel.  People need me and I will be there.

And here’s where I stop with the minutia.

If This continues past the prescription I will seek therapy to shed the negative feelings I clearly still harbor over our move to Montreal.  At least I understand the trigger and that gives me peace, or a starting point anyway.  I also need to give myself a break which every time I am told this – and I do believe I need one – I laugh because who do you think will be coming to therapy with me?

I appreciate you reading along.  As a child of adoption I document everything about my health so that my kids will never have to guess their medical history.  That I also share it here on BPS means I get to speak my truth, out loud, and for those staring at a bottle of pills they never thought they’d need, I offer peace, over-the-counter, but with the best of intentions.

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