“I never thought I’d be sitting in a bar after 2am, surrounded by really cool strangers, sipping booze from a tea cup!” Wait. Did I just say that out loud!? I couldn’t help but shrug and lifted my glass to a “Cheers” with my fellow drinking companions. Thankfully they did not leave me hanging.

The “birds and the bees” was one of the cocktails I had recently photographed and it tasted splendidly! I sat drinking in the nostalgic vibe of the bar along with my cocktail. It was something wonderful, something you can’t really find now days but was reminiscent to the feeling you get when you sit down to watch your favorite old movie. As I looked around it reminded me of a montage of several of my favorite old movies depending on the present constitutes and their moods and drinks. It made me laugh to think what a cocktail could say about a person’s character and taste. The guy in the corner was a Humphrey Bogart. His accomplice an equal alpha personality was definitely a Betty Paige. I wanted to peg the ex-Ad guy next to me as a Mad men but I really had the feeling he was setting out for more of a Rum Diary adventure or perhaps Jack Kerouac. I was living in the land of Audrey but noted my best friend right beside me was just short of 2 cross dressing men to make it into “Some like it Hot”. I’m sure she had a hot water bottle hidden in that giant purse somewhere.
The Birds and the Bees

If you’ve followed my work then you already know what bar this is. If not, you will find it hiding in plain sight, tucked away on the corner of a side street just a block up from the Gassan Diamond factory around the Waterlooplein.

Hiding in Plain Sight is by far the best bar I have ever been to in Amsterdam. I knew it the moment I walked in to shoot for my friend and amazing Chef Fong from Kitchen Seductions as she paired up for a dinner cocktail night. Despite wearing my mom jeans which surely I thought would have put me out of place, my inner gypsy hipster New Orleans lovin self was screaming “Lucy! I’m home!” And I really felt that way because the owners and staff made me feel that way. You see, they and I had something in common. We all love a really, truly good drink.

HPS doesn’t boost pent house views, or massage chairs, but they have some serious passion for great tasting drinks and the knowledge behind making those “blow your taste buds, befuddle your mind” delectable cocktails. The high spirited but cozy atmosphere and cool jivey tunes of the Swing time Gypsy Band or one of their famous themed events certainly don’t hurt either. Please don’t get me started on their Boozy Brunch. Nothing can be said short of very positive expletives. It’s hard to believe that they just celebrated their first year anniversary last February. I’m looking forward to another year of exciting cocktail photo shoots and events. HPS feels like it’s already a Dutch institution but I believe the fun has only just begun.

Check out a few more Vanitas from the last drink menu:

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Filled Under : Local Loves , My Amsterdam

Many people don’t know that I live with a disease called Narcolepsy. Actually many people have heard of Narcolepsy but don’t really know what it is. I decided to participate in Julie Flygare’s  Blogathon Dear Diagnosis and write a letter to myself of my diagnosis day. I really respect Julie. Not only does she live with this disease but she’s managed to finish school, write a book, and is an amazing spokes person that really helps to put things in perspective. Not even 10 years ago Narcolepsy was usually made a joke of on tv shows and movies. There wasn’t much support for it and I believe that many didn’t speak out about there symptoms because they lived in fear of being branded crazy. Thanks to Julie’s advocacy she’s helping many all around the world to open up, speak out and be honest about this strange disease we have to deal with on a daily basis. It’s not perfect but here it is:

 

Dear Melody,

I know it’s a hard day, but I wanted to tell you that the numbness you are feeling will go away. You are not crazy, or possessed (as your old church declared), nor are you lazy. You are quite the opposite. That quiet suspicion that’s been haunting you for so long. You were right. And now you have proof. It’s a good thing, even if it doesn’t feel like it now. I know you feel like damaged goods, that even your best friend and partner doesn’t understand how you feel. Go easy on him. He’s trying to be strong for you. Some days you will be so tired that the ache and the hunger for real rest will make you wish for a more permanent kind of sleep.

But don’t give in. Know that you are a fighter. Every day will be a struggle. Remember that there are much worse things. That despite this, you are truly blessed. That you will even find beauty in being broken. Take joy in the little wonders that you do get. Remember that the good days are worth it.

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Start to seek balance as soon as you can.  Just because you will only have “x” amount of energy to do things in a day, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make those things worth it. And while we’re at it, go easy on yourself when you can. You’re a mom, a business owner, a volunteer for several charities, a partner, and a friend. That’s a lot for anyone to keep up with. Let go of the feeling that you are always lacking and missing out because you don’t have the energy to do it all. Don’t stress about the little things because it will only make you feel worse. When you look back at all the problems “N” (Narcolepsy) has caused you, with your jobs, relationships and missed opportunities, know that you can’t change any of it. Looking back isn’t worth your time.

If there was one thing I could tell you to really focus on it would be discipline. Learn it! It’s not just something for physical exercise but to help you reach your goals both in the every day with your autistic son and in your chosen career. I hate to break it to you, but there is no magic miracle pill. You’re going to have to try a few until you find what works best for you. They all have drawbacks and that’s why you have to learn discipline in everything you do from eating to making a schedule. Remember that going to bed on time is important. The things you haven’t finished will still be there for you in the morning. Discipline yourself to jump out of bed every day…no matter how hard it is to rise and shine. Not just for yourself but your son as well.

And know that you are not alone. Really, you’re not. You won’t understand what it means until you reach out and find others online and in your community who truly understand because they experience many of the same challenges. It will make more sense soon (look up Julie Flygare) and remember everything is going to be all right!

For more info visit Julie Flygare´s website or click to read other dear Diagnosis letters:

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Filled Under : My Life style

Dear my sweet busy bumble B,

I can’t believe another year has passed. Really, I just can’t believe it. Now looking back, almost all the journals I’ve written for you this year start out saying just that and how busy we’ve been. Things just seem to be happening all so quickly for us. This year also contained so much for us. So many…changes. We both got our diagnoses (you with your autism and epilepsy and me with my narcolepsy). While knowing this has helped us to better our lives we of all people should especially remember to be kind to those we meet because every one really is fighting a battle of some sort, whether it be with their health or something else. I know things have not been easy for you. I feel like I haven’t been the best mom because I was often too busy thinking and viewing our situation from my own perspective that I rarely look at things from yours. I wish I had more energy but I need to remember to prioritize to get more time with you. That’s why this year I will be practicing more unplugged parenting. And when things do go wrong, when you do act differently or have a melt down, and people “tisk” me and make comments I’m just going to let it slide right off my back, because ultimately that stuff really is about as important as I let it be.

Be who you are and say what YOU feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. Theodor S. Geisel a.k. Dr. Seuss
What a difference a year makes

What a difference a year makes

As I was making your special birthday French toast this morning I was thinking about the word “autism”. I realized how much I hate they way people seem to use it with such a negative connotation. And how over the last year we’ve had people we know tell us not to label you, or that you don’t ”look” like you have autism, or a ton of other advise that is usually meant to be a sort of positive pep talk. It is what it is. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

 

3 years ago today, late in the evening I was feeling much like I am now. Emotionally and physically worn out. But the moment I first saw you, my very first thoughts were “My whole world is different now and you’ve changed everything the moment you arrived”. And the truth is, you did. You see, you changed me inside and out, and I was all to happy to experience it. Then year 1 passed. Your birthday was literally a circus and we jet set off to the good ole’ US of A. Everything seemed so picturesque when I look back. You were walking everywhere strutting your stuff in your first pair of walking shoes, and then you got that cold, which led to that fever, which led to the emergency room. 2 injections and a day later you had utterly changed and the little boy I thought I knew so well just didn’t seem there anymore. By birthday number 2 you had gone almost a whole year with out a word. No baby babble, “no mama”, “no papa”. We suspected something was off after returning home and had been diving into the system to get you checked out. We had read up on the diagnosis that you may be autistic and there were so many similarities that it made sense. And then just 2 weeks before your birthday you started counting. Counting out loud to 20. Counting everything, steps, blocks, chopsticks. You still weren’t eating normally or playing with your toys normally but change was a foot and that felt good.

 

And now you are 3. And you are uniquely you. You are bright, funny, and sweet. You are blonde, you have blue eyes, and you are autistic and an epileptic. You have likes and you have dislikes. You have high points and you have struggles. You are finding your own way. You like classical music, shapes and can read more than 150 words. You display some signs of echolia and can repeat back a whole television show. We don’t get to have silly massive conversations like I played out in my head before you were born. As a matter of a fact not very much has played out like I thought, but I of all people should know how life can go unexpected.

Today you are YOU, that is truer than true! There is no one alive more youer than you! Dr. Seuss

I see so many Auti parents using the anecdote from “Welcome to Holland“. It makes so much sense for parents of disabled children to relate to this. Things for us are such a struggle, and yes, your autism can be some what disabling in areas of your life at times, but I’m not sure if I can call it ”your disability”. I can relate all to well to “welcome to Holland” because my life is literally the analogy! I honestly hated Amsterdam when I first came. It was cold, and sometimes unfriendly, and difficult because it was full of change for me. I couldn’t understand what people were saying and didn’t always understand the cultural rules. I thought maybe I had made a mistake in being here. But I stuck it out, and for all the things I disliked about it, I now find twice the amount of things I do love about it. For all the grey days the sunny ones on a bike here are worth it. The people and our friends have a richness to them that can be determined in money and the creative vibe here is enough to light up the whole city! It’s the place for me, where I belonged all along.

 

I know the word Autism is supposed to mean something about “auto” and “into one’s self”. That could be used very much to describe you at times although I don’t think you get a choice in the matter. But when I hear the word “autism” I instantly think of the word “optimism”. And when I think of you, the word in itself is “Awe-tism,” because every day I am in awe of you. Even those really hard, no good, grey, frustrating rough days when nothing seems to go “right” or as planned. We celebrate every little milestone because you struggled and fought to get there. Most of the negative things are a blur but I remember with exact clarity the 3 times you’ve said “Mommy” or the moment you first discovered the moon. You make me smile and laugh every day. I wouldn’t change a thing about you and our crazy little quirky family. Because just like my Welcome to Holland, I believe all our struggles will be worth it one day.

 

 

Filled Under : My Life style

I absolutely loved this quote. Thought it was perfect for this photo I snapped today of a leaf outside my house. Where did the time go? I swear it was only a few days ago I was sunning it up in Barcelona. Fall is officially here it seems! Maybe I will see about selling this photo as a print at the Festive ASBN Pop up event. What do you think? I hope to see some of you there!

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Filled Under : My Life style

Before there was photography there was art. Drawings, painting, sculpting. Some days I think we live in such a camera obsessed world that we forget to actually take the time to lower the technical gadgets between our faces and the world and just see what’s really all around us. That’s one of the things I love about Joseph Segaran, but I will get to that later. When I met Joseph it was actually at an ASBN networking event. I took an instant like to him. He’s super friendly, funny, with a great smile. As a creative mind myself, I loved his drawings and paper cuts. They are all done by hand, no rulers, and no room for mistakes. His drawings are structural with an attention to detail and his lines give to just a little whimsy that really captures the city of Amsterdam. And his paper cuts are well, so bold if I may say, that I have a hard time deciding whether I like the paper cuts or drawings more. What’s not to love?

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You see, I like to look at ceilings (apologies for the short tangent that is Melody’s mind). The simple fact that people can live and work under a ceiling for 5, 10 years and never actually take a moment to look up completely boggles me. Are you looking up yet? One of the things I loved about Joseph on our shoot is that I kept catching him looking up. He thought I was busy setting up camera equipment but I caught him looking up sneaking a peak. I loved the wonder in his eyes like he’s seeing something for the first time all over again.

 

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The next thing I loved about Joseph was his super trusty pen cups. No seriously. It’s another thing we had in common and I believe how you prefer your working utensils can say a lot about you (I too favor a mug for pens). It was actually a reminder that in today’s digital age where art and everything are becoming more digital that it’s easy to forget what’s real. But Joseph and his art is as real as it gets and he brings a fun twist of that special old school feeling. His artworks really tell the story of a building and a whole city. And did I mention that he does custom work! It’s such a wonderful way to commemorate a place where you lived or a great gift to give a special colleague to remind them of where they worked. I’m so lucky to have gotten to know the guy behind the art and to have photographed him. While we’re on it, check out those peepers! He’s got some serious brows on top of the windows to his soul wouldn’t you say? I honestly don’t know how I get so lucky in having such great looking clients.

Be sure to check out Joseph’s website and follow his work on facebook. His daily drawings are super entertaining and he’s one Amsterdam talent to keep an eye on as his works become more published on books and famous buildings!

Filled Under : Read more

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