Meeting my Blog Buddies in Montreal!🇨🇦Part Deux!

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Remember this motley crew from part one of this visit? We last heard that Dominique, Darren and I were heading to Mount Tremblant 🏔 for a fun filled day of laughter, food and reluctant hiking. And Linda and Bill, were scheduled to arrive the following day in Montreal.

Dominique saved the trip to Mount Tremblant for when I could go with her and Darren. She thought I would like it, and she was right!! She knows me so well😊

This ski resort is a couple hours Northwest of Montreal in the Laurentian mountains. Like any ski resort it has a vibrant presence year round. Something that I forgot to mention in part un, is that it was hot in Montreal! We were experiencing some really warm temps, and it was gorgeous up here in the mountains.

We arrived and set out for the village. There was stunning architecture everywhere and I took far too many pictures. I will restrain myself and just post a couple.

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The main building at the base of the mountain

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This is one of Darren’s pictures, I didn’t even know he took this one! 😂

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I loved the colors of the village shops and hotels

It would take two gondolas 🚠 to make it to the top of the mountain, where the hiking paths were located.

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The first gondola took us to the shops and restaurants

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It truly was a gorgeous day!☀️

By now, it was lunch time and we (meaning for sure, me😉) were hungry. There were many restaurants to choose from but I saw a Crepe shop, and lobbied hard for that choice! Dom and Darren were kind enough to let me have my way! I could have had any one of the dishes, they all looked good. Dom and I settled on ham and cheese crepes and Darren went for the yogurt. Look at the differences in our lunches 😳

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Darren’s sensible and healthy lunch!

 

Look at these crepes!!! They are massive! And, mind you, Dom and I each had one plate of these😲, and don’t forget the maple syrup we added 🍁😂.

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Clearly Darren is the healthiest of us all! With a couple pounds of protein and carbs in us, we were ready to head to the top of the mountain. This required gondola ride number two, and was a rather long trek up. We had plenty of time for some photos. 🚠

In all combinations possible!

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Damn, I have a lot of freckles!!

 

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Dom loaned me her hat

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This is my favorite picture of them both ❤️

Now, we are ready to hike, or are we?🧐 The tricky part about the term “hike” is that it is subjective. What one person sees as a hike, might be a walk to another. I was prepared to let Dominique and Darren choose what they wanted to do. We were all full, and Dom had  her running shoes on, so we went to the map.

I made a few modifications to the map, just for clarification purposes 😉

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The star marks the gondola, which we were informed, would be closed by 5pm.

The arrow shows the “360 trail”. This is a short loop that is known for its views and observation tower. The three of us decided that would be a smart place to start.

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The views were as advertised!! So pretty💕

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Dom told me that this lake has canoes, paddle boards and kayaks for rent.  I may have to make my way back out here!!

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Darren’s picture of me being a big dork😜

 

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Darren caught this image of Dom and I attempting to lure a crow out of a tree with some chocolate. We wanted a picture of it for Lisa! This did not work as the crow was too smart and the chocolate melted in the sun!

As we neared the end of the 360 trail, the observation platform became an option.

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Well, for one of us! Two of us decided that there were too many stairs😂

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We made our back toward the gondola, where we faced a decision. There were many more paths to choose, should we go on another hike/walk? After careful study of the area, and some quick calculations on mileage vs time until the gondola shut down, we settled on the Sasquatch trail. We would go down the Sasquatch and back up one of the other paths to make our way to the gondola.

It is important to note that every opportunity was afforded all members to vote down this idea!! It was Dom who said “we have plenty of time, lets do it!”

The peppy girl with her hand up on the map is Dom!

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We started off well. As usual, Darren and Dom would stop and take pictures of inspiring critters or plants. About half way, Darren started casually mentioning that we were going down in elevation quite a bit. Then he would speculate on when we might be going back up. We had a group meeting to determine if we should just turn around at that point.

We decided that we would have time to make it, if we didn’t stop for any more pictures and picked up the pace. Ya, that did not last 😂😂. You can’t have three bloggers together and not take pictures!

We made it to the bottom of the route, and turned to head back up the other trail (yellow arrow). That’s when it happened! Dom went down, voluntarily! I was a little further ahead scouting for the best/shortest path back up. I turned around and Dom is laying on the ground (😵) and I hear Darren’s sweet, soft voice saying “are you ok?”

We really were not that far away from the finish, but I was getting worried that Darren and I may be carrying her the rest of the distance! I resorted to, what every hiking guide does at some point, lying! “Its just over the next hill!” They saw through my deception immediately! But, once Dom was vertical again, and with some well placed hands on her back, we made it to the gondola, with time to spare 😊

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Another brilliant capture by Darren! 

We had another couple hours in the car to make it back to Montreal. And a delicious and hearty meal at a Thai place (I think). We were discussing what to do the next day, we knew Linda and Bill were planning on arriving, but not exactly sure when.

Dom and Darren had some photo work to do with Lisa, and I thought that they might need a break from me the next day😂. We decided to do our own thing in the morning, and meet up for lunch. Dom and Darren were going to work on some photo shoots and me…..

I was starting to feel the need for a work out 🏋🏻‍♀️! There were several climbing gyms in the Montreal area, however, I was on foot and wanted a good one within walking distance. Allez UP turned out to be just the right fit!

It was a 4 mile walk to the gym, actually 4.5 thanks to, you guessed it, more construction! I had to get going early so I could get there, climb, and get back for lunch with my buds💕

It was another beautiful day ☀️ and there were some cool things to see. This bridge, near the gym, had hundreds of spider webs! 🕸🕷 Had to take a pic!

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I finally found an unblocked entrance to the building! And, had a great time climbing the auto belays and bouldering 🧗‍♀️

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I felt good and ready to walk back. Near the end of the trip I realized that I was seriously low on nutrients and caffeine😬  I didn’t want to eat lunch without Dom and Darren, but what to do? Remember that beautiful gift basket they gave me when I arrived at the hotel?
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I tore into this like a pack of hyenas with a fresh kill! Well, not the gourd! This, and the in-room coffee at the hotel, got me through!

After lunch, we still had some time to kill while waiting for Linda and Bill. Dom took us for a short walk to a beautiful cemetery. Ya, a cemetery. Honestly, I could have spent all day there 😊 So serene and full of old architecture that you just don’t see anymore.

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Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name, but I do know that it is hundreds of years old.

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You just don’t see headstones like this anymore

 

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I loved this angle, where you see the old statue with the newer church dome in the background

While we were roaming around, we got the word! Bill and Linda were at the hotel😍!

The three of us rushed back to find Bill in the hotel lobby. Somehow, Darren recognized him from a picture Linda posted three years ago!!! I am now officially in awe of Darren!

We chatted for a bit, the five of us, and decided to head to a nearby park that Dom knew to have amazing views of the city. Once again, she was right💕

It was a short walk to the top of the view point. And, once again, I took too many pictures! I will just post this one.

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It was at this point in the trip that Dom revealed a very personal battle that she has been having with her phone. Apparently, she has “selfie” issues 😲 So, at the top of a very steep drop off, she decided to work on her craft. Darren and I were a little concerned as she seemed to be teetering on the edge of a long drop!

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My picture of Dom’s selfie form, it looks good from here😂

I still haven’t seen any of her selfies and do hope she is making progress on this vital skill 😉.

My last night in Montreal was upon us, and we went to a Thai restaurant (or was it Indian?) for the only meal I would share with Bill and Linda.

Sadly, I only saw them for a couple hours, and the lighting at the restaurant was not awesome for photos.

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Linda getting a shot of Dom and Darren

 

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Not sure what Linda and I were thinking with this one!

 

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I love this one of Linda! This is who she is, fun, warm and so very kind! Bill is pretty awesome too💕

 

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These three are up to something!!

We ate, we laughed, we talked way too loud, we took tons of pictures, we told stories and we closed the place down!! Honestly! The dude had to kick us out😂

And then I was out of time😔! I had a very early flight back to Washington, plus I walked a total of 14 miles that day😏, I was tired!!

I know this was a long post, and most of you gave up reading by now. But this was an emotional journey for me. I never dreamed that when I started my blog, almost two years ago, that I would make such important connections, with such amazing people! It’s true that not everyone could make this trip, and there are other bloggers out there who are just as important to me. But the fact that I pulled myself out of that dark place, and put myself out there, and let’s be honest, that is scary, and came away with these friends…Well, all I can say is thank you❤️ Thank you Dom, Linda and Darren, for rescuing this once sad, lonely and invisible person. I love you all🙏

 

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Meeting my Blog Buddies in Montreal!🇨🇦Part Un!

 

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It has been almost one month since I went to Montreal to meet up with some of my BBBs (best blog buddies). Why has it taken me so long to blog about the trip? Is it because I had a rotten time? NO!! Is it because we didn’t do anything fun? NO!!! Is it because I took so many pictures of all the places we visited that I could not figure out how to start this post? BINGO😊

I was only there for three days, so how could I have a billion photos? I think this phenomenon has something to do with getting bloggers together. As individuals we tend to take more pics than the average human, but combine us! I can’t begin to imagine how many storage sticks Darren had to buy for his 10 day trip🤣 Not only was this my first time meeting Darren, Dominique, Linda and Bill, it was my first trip to Montreal. Another reason for my snap happy camera finger.

I decided that the best way to approach this retelling of the first annual BBB meeting, would be chronologically, and in two posts. Is my boring science background coming through loud and clear? 😂

I flew in on Tuesday, about 3 hours late (thank you Air Canada). Darren and Dominique waited to have dinner with me! I felt so bad for starving them all day. We had a lovely dinner, not that the food was scrumptious, it wasn’t. But, meeting these two wonderful souls was a blast! I could tell this was going to be a fun trip😊!  It was getting late, so we called it a night and wound are way through the maze of construction that is downtown Montreal. Seriously, every street was in some state of reconfiguration! 😳

Dominique chose the perfect hotel for our stay, the Hotel Terrasse Royale (not my photo!). As she put it, it is clean, comfortable, affordable and central to everything. She was right on all counts!

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I would definitely stay here again and recommend it to everyone.

There was one more surprise when I checked in.

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As if being the best host in all of North America was not enough for her, she and Darren put together a gift basket for me❤️ This would be very important in a couple days!

The next morning, I was still on West Coast time, so I was up kinda early. I needed coffee so I ate at the hotel restaurant. Of course, being a food blogger too, I wanted to capture my gorgeous and tasty breakfast!

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This oatmeal with fresh fruit was so good, I had it the second morning as well.😋 I did my morning yoga and met Darren at the pastry shop across the street, for more coffee! ☕️☕️Montreal is so much like Paris! I couldn’t resist taking some photos of the breads and pastries.

I didn’t sample any, but did have a fantastic cappuccino (or two 😉)

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Wednesday was to be our Botanical Garden day🌳 so off we went to Le Jardin Botanique de Montreal.

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I did not take this picture, I swiped it from the internet. I like it for a couple reasons. Firstly, the garden was presenting their Chinese Lantern Exhibit, and some of that is depicted here. Secondly, see that tower in the background? I was in love with this structure! I believe Dominique told us that it was part of a venue built for the Montreal Olympic village.

We began our tour inside, with the tropical flowers and plants. You can imagine how many pictures Darren, The Arty Plantsman, took😆 He was a botanist/blogger/photographer on a mission!

As he is far more talented at plant photography, I will only share a couple of shoots and blooms that caught my eye. See Darren’s post for the real good pics!🌸

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I love these giant, prehistoric looking leaves🌿

 

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I couldn’t resist taking a pic of Dom, taking a pic of the pathway. Can we just appreciate how she is dressed right now! She always looks fabulous🤩

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This waterfall was located at the end of the pathway. I took a couple long exposure shots from the front….

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and the back.

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The ceiling of the inner building had these beautiful botanical drawings.

IMG_5172I could totally envision Darren’s artwork hanging up here one day 💕!

Eventually, we made our way outside!

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I loved the reflection in this shallow pool

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the one dark berry caught my eye

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This picture just says “fall” to me and made me think of Lisa! She could do so much with this💚

There were a few critters out too! I did my best to channel my inner Roda, who along with Lisa, we missed on this trip😞

And speaking of Roda, I can’t see a sunflower, without picturing her! Anyone else remember that post of her carrying 300 pounds of sunflower heads?🌻

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There were some structures in the garden as well.

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This little potting shed caught my attention

 

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Dominique took this picture of me, as Darren took a picture of her. I haven’t seen it yet! Dom does pretty well behind the camera too. Not just a a model my friends! 

Of course, while I am taking these pictures, Darren is capturing images of flowers the size of a pea and Dom is on her second wardrobe change! I can’t wait to see how those shots turned out😊!

We continued meandering our way through the Chinese lantern display.

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I am determined to get this Silver Chinese Grass in one of my yards, maybe both of them!

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Another view of my favorite structure in Montreal!

 

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A beautiful bench for a cup of coffee ☕️

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One of the rare moments when Darren isn’t smiling! He is deep in thought, looking for his next shot 💕

We posed in the corn for one last picture! We had a great time, but needed nutrients, well, caffeine! Darren and I opted for, yet another, cup of coffee and Dom would have passed out if she didn’t have that Diet Coke in the car 😂 it was hot and flat but she downed it like a pro!

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What a doof I am! Look at these two European gems and I am the dopey American with the white shoes on! I have got to read Dom’s blog more often🤣🤣😂

Off we went to an Indian Restaurant, my first! I have no idea what I ate that night as Darren ordered for me (thank God!). It was delicious!! Seriously, I will have to try that again, whatever it was 😋. I slept well that night, after all that walking and laughing😂 Little did we know that our trip to Mount Tremblant the next day would require even more effort 🏔.

I will save that story for the next post, but let me just warn you…..Dominique almost didn’t make it off the mountain. 😱!

You may be asking “where was Linda and Bill”? They won’t be in Montreal for another day, but they should have started driving by now😉💕

Seven Days Photo Challenge, with a twist 📸😉, Day 2

The lovely Dominique at 3C Style has nominated/tagged me in a photo challenge. And, we all know how I can’t say no to a challenge😉

Apparently the rules are: Seven days. Seven black and white photos of your life. No people. No explanation. Challenge someone new each day.

No Explanations!! Ok, I will let this one speak for itself, but will include the color version and ask for feedback. I am taking a photo class and am looking to improve 😊

Today I would like to tag Linda 😊 I know that she doesn’t love tags/awards but I do remember her black and white and color challenge! So, maybe she will be interested in this one 😳, hope so, as she takes great photos!

I am so touched and humbled by this!

growning self blogger award

“The Growing Self Blogger Award has been created to acknowledge and celebrate amazing individuals, in the blogging community, who are persevering through life’s challenges not only to GROW as individuals,  but to reach out and help others GROW as well.” ~Roda

I feel truly blessed to have met so many wonderful individuals through this process called blogging! I had no idea this world even existed a year ago. I started blogging to deal with my personal pain and isolation and found a network of strong, funny, talented, artistic and kind human beings! Many of whom were dealing with life’s struggles just like me.

I never would have dreamed that the friends I have made in the blogosphere would help me in my “real world” relationships as well. I have been more open, more willing to try new things and, dare I say it, more trusting. Actually, I am still working on that last one 🙂

Many bloggers have been generous to me and nominated my blog for awards, and all of those are important to me. I admit, I am way behind! Embarrassingly so! I hope to start catching up soon. But one lovely human, one that I will never be able to put on the back burner, has nominated me for the award that she herself has crafted. Which makes it extra special! If you know Roda, then you understand what I am talking about! Her nomination brought tears to my eyes, so I will begin digging out of the backlog with “The Growing Self Blogger Award”

 

How it works:

  • Put the award logo/image on your blog
  • List the rules
  • Thank the individual that nominated you and provide a link to their blog
  • Describe the award and mention the creator: Roda  – Growingself.blog
  • Nominate up to 5 blogs.  Remember, the purpose of this award is to specifically celebrate those individuals that have made a difference in your life or the lives of others.
  • Give at least 1 reason why you nominated each individual.
  • Notify your nominees of the award

Today I would like to nominate:

Sophie from Foodzesty

Monika from Everyday Healthy Recipes

Jay from My Truth is Now

Linda from Mainepaperpusher

Sophie- You are my long lost sister from Greece! No, we don’t look alike, I’m sure, as I have red hair, freckles and burn instantly so no one would ever confuse me for a Greek beauty! But, we connected so quickly and strongly from the instant we started messaging. You are so kind and considerate and inspire me to get into the kitchen and try new recipes. We have our mutual love of Rafa to bind us across time zones and you are the first person I think of when a tennis match pops up on my TV. Thank you my dear friend for all the emails and the beautiful post card from Greece!

Monka- I have learned so much from you! Your healthy recipes help me stay on track and fuel my, sometimes, insane workout schedule. I have found new ingredients and tried new techniques which have helped me grow my culinary repertoire. Thank you for putting up with all my questions! One day I will figure out how to get to your cooking site to share those recipes. You are so sweet to take the time to research my queries and help me navigate the blogosphere!

Jay- You are such a sweet man! You inspire me to read more than my usual “goto genres”. I am a creature of habit and will easily fall back on my usual authors. You have made me a better analyst, helping me look beyond the obvious and uncover the many underlying possibilities. I am honored to be a witness to your literary ascent! Please know that I am truly privileged to be a small part of helping you on your way 🙂

Linda-I know, I know, you don’t do awards. I also know that you break the rules when you feel strongly about something. Guess what? Your friendship is so important to me that I am breaking your rule! I am not nominating you to be irritating, but because I feel so strongly about the impact you have made on my life that I am going to talk about you whether you like it or not! So there! We have much in common, and I know if we lived on the same coast we would be fast friends. You inspire me to keep putting myself out there, we both know how easy it is it become isolated. Those of us who are a little too comfortable with alone time can become overlooked, as it were. And, we have the same sense of humor! Your Guest in Jest series is one of my favorite weekly posts! I would give just about anything to spend an afternoon with you drinking coffee, eating cookies and laughing our asses off. Thank you, my friend 🙂

And Roda….The only reason you are not nominated is because you nominated me! I will find you in Colorado, or Seattle, one day. And, hug the stuffing out you 🙂

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Guest in Jest #18 Invisible-No-More

I was honored to be a Guest in Jest on Linda’s blog! If you haven’t done so already, check out her site and consider submitting a story for her to share 🙂

Everyone Else Has the Best Titles

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My name is Dee Dee, and I go by Dtills on WordPress. I started my blog, Invisible-no-more.com because I felt, well, invisible! I had entered that magical time known as “the midlife crisis”, sort of fell into it really, and couldn’t figure out how to begin the painful process of pulling my life together. My youngest had gone off to college, my husband and I were not connecting well and I felt alone and isolated. My blog is a chronicle of those activities, actions and connections formed that have helped me piece together a future that I now feel is hopeful and engaging. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have helped me as I work through this transition!

As for an amusing story, well this was not all that amusing at the time, but with the passage of 23 years, it has taken on…

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A Submission to Guest in Jest, for you Linda!

The wonderful and hilarious Linda, from Everybody Else Has the Best Titles asked for submissions for her “Guest in Jest” series. If you have not met Linda, aka mainepaperpusher, you really should check out her blog! She has some fun series and great, edgy sense of humor that I really appreciate! I decided to post this on my own blog because it gives a little snapshot into my past and maybe some mom out there can relate.

 

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My name is Dee Dee, and I go by Dtills on WordPress. I started my blog, Invisible-no-more.com because I felt, well, invisible! I had entered that magical time known as “the midlife crisis”, sort of fell into it really, and couldn’t figure out how to begin the painful process of pulling my life together. My youngest had gone off to college, my husband and I were not connecting well and I felt alone and isolated. My blog is a chronicle of those activities, actions and connections formed that have helped me piece together a future that I now feel is hopeful and engaging. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have helped me as I work through this transition!

As for an amusing story, well this was not all that amusing at the time, but with the passage of 23 years, it has taken on a warm and satisfying glow! In 1994 I was a graduate student working on my doctorate degree at USC in Los Angeles. At that time, the process required the Ph.D. candidates to finish a series of written exams, which, after the successful completion, then required an oral exam. The oral had to be completed within eight weeks of finishing the written tests, or the candidate would have to start over from the beginning. These are the kind of exams that take months to prepare for so starting over is not something anyone wanted to do, I assure you! I was deep into studying for these five written exams, when I found out, in February of 1994, that I was pregnant with our first child. Honestly, the timing could not have been less ideal as I would have to take the exams at the beginning of October that year, and Alex was born October 28th. This meant that my oral exam had to happen in mid November, or I would have to start over, effectively loosing a year of work in my program. The crux of this “amusing” story is that I was breastfeeding my new daughter during this time. Now, all of you lactation survivors know that producing pints of milk all day long comes along with a unique set of challenges. For one thing your milk doesn’t just flow for your little one, a number of triggers can cause milk to “let down”, as the specialists call it. My personal triggers were ANY child crying, my crying, Hallmark commercials and once a dog barked scaring me so much that my shirt was soaked before I could run home. Oh yeah, and stress. Standing up in front my oral testing panel, which was made up of five men, and two women, who choose not to have children in order to focus on their careers, while they fire questions at me was, indeed, stressful.

That day I felt prepared, not well rested with a 4 week old at home, but I had my presentation and had done my research. I also had two sets of nursing pads on and a thick knit sweater. I could have stacked books on my huge, busty chest. The exam started and everything was going well. I was almost done; just a few final questions and I could go home and feed my daughter. Then it happened. The committee member that I feared the most asked me a question and I had absolutely no idea how to answer. I could feel the cortisol rushing through my blood stream and hitting my lac glands. I was starting to sweat and the room went eerily silent as the milk raindrops started hitting my feet! All I could think about was “I am going to fail and my shoes will be squeaking as I walk to the car”! That same committee member, after what felt like a month, gently asked me if I would like to take a break. Hell yes, I wanted to take a break and die! As I was walking through the door I heard him tell the others “she just had a baby a couple weeks ago” and I thought, great now I am done for sure! I took a few minutes to wring out my pads and blot my sweater, as best I could, and most importantly, I figured out the answer to the question. I mustered up what little dignity I could find and entered the exam room. I was expecting them to tell me to pack up and head out but instead they took pity on me. That same, scary committee member told me to just write up the final questions and submit them the following week. He was so nice to me! I had passed on the contingency of submitting the final write up! I didn’t wait around for them to change their minds and got the hell out of there. I guess I didn’t really learn my lesson because I had my final doctoral defense in December of 1996, after giving birth to our son the preceding April. But this time I kept my milk tightly in my jugs!

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My daughter and I on graduation day!