talking about my uterus

I wore my “Fight Like A Girl” t-shirt for Endometriosis Awareness to the volunteer event last weekend as promised. I was nervous before I left the apartment because I haven’t been very open about discussing my surgery or endometriosis diagnosis with most people around me. I am still trying to deal with it internally. It was a very emotionally painful experience for me at the time and not sure how to put all of it into words.

But, I there were several comments about my t-shirt through-out the day. I was glad that it was noticed but I kept my replies to a minimum. One guy said, “I don’t know how to pronounce that word or what it is.” As it was explained by another lady, he exclaimed, “UTERUS! Stop, I don’t want to know anymore after hearing words like uterus.”

I was not offended by the comment because it is to be expected by some people. There isn’t much known about endometriosis and I am learning quite a bit myself lately. I am wearing my t-shirt to raise awareness because it is important to me and many other women who suffer from it every day. I read horror stories about infertility and chronic pain that women are sharing on their personal blogs and websites – it truly breaks my heart.

But, I am disappointed that he disregarded the subject based on one word that made him uncomfortable because it could affect a woman in his life such as his wife, sister, or friend. Having endometriosis is uncomfortable. Explaining it to someone is uncomfortable. But, I want to talk about my uterus! I want to get to the point where I can be comfortable talking about this. Either way, it was a good start for me.

-Holli

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in need of beach therapy

It’s 42° out and I am taking the bus to Far Rockaway for some “beach therapy” this morning. I’ve spent the last few weeks at home lying on the couch recovering from surgery. The most excitement I’ve had is walking six … Continue reading

a winter weekend in north fork

On Saturday morning we took a leisurely drive to North Fork, the heart of Long Island’s wine country. It was a last minute trip since the beach cleanup had been canceled earlier that day. It was rainy and foggy but warm for a winter day so we decided to find a different adventure  instead of sitting at home or running errands. We both decided that taking down the Christmas tree and packing the decorations could wait just one more week even though it is the middle of January.

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Our first stop was the Horton Point Lighthouse located high on the cliffs overlooking the Long Island Sound in Southhold, NY. This lighthouse was commissioned by George Washington himself in the 1700’s. We didn’t get any pictures of the lighthouse because it was still raining and very foggy. Our adventure took us down the long rickety wooden steps to the beach. The beach was extremely rocky and slippery and dangerous so we couldn’t wander too far.

We did find some small pieces of trash on the beach to pick up quickly but it was relatively cleaner than we had expected. We hadn’t planned to clean the beach that day anyways and the rain prevented us from staying too long.

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Why did the wild turkeys cross the road? I don’t know but we had to chase them into a yard because the road was windy and cars were speeding by and we didn’t want to take a chance they wouldn’t get to the other side.

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Since it is winter time, most of the vineyards close early so we are off to find a wine tasting event soon. There are 52 vineyards on Long Island with 26 wineries open to the public. You can find more information on the official website of the Long Island Wine Council at www.liwines.com. We stopped at a Bedell Cellar and Winery which closed at 7 pm and had a nice atmosphere and a diverse menu.

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Bedell Cellars Winery is a fully sustainable vineyard in Cutchogue, NY area. We chose the Estate Flight tasting off the menu pricing at $15, which includes five wines. It was nice to relax by the toasty fireplace. The staff at Bedell Cellars were friendly and informative and Jack gave us a private tour in the back where the “magic happens.” We both learned a lot about wine making, how the grapes are grown in the sandy rocky soil and when they are harvested.  We also had a chance to taste the wine that was served at the last Presidential inauguration dinner. It was a great experience!

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On the crisp winter afternoon the sleeping vines showed their raw beauty of stark browns and reds contrasting with the white snow and pale green grass. Visiting a vineyard in winter seems unintentional but the area is quiet and lazy with fewer visitors. I enjoyed the quieter time of the countryside because it was a nice escape from the busy city life for a weekend.

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Sunday morning didn’t start off well with a dead car battery and a few hours to fix the issue but eventually we got back on the road to enjoy the clear skies and visit a few places we missed during the fog from the previous day.

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Did you know that agriculture is Long Island’s largest industry? We drove past many farmstands that sell their fresh vegetables and fruit, cut firewood for $5, and even homemade pies during the season.  There isn’t many restaurants or farmstands open in the winter time so be prepared with snacks or a picnic lunch.

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Our last destination was to Orient Point, which is literally the end of the road. The next stop is to jump a ferry boat to Shelter Island or Plum Island from the marina or sail to the coast of Connecticut. The sign below is before the ferry for visitors getting off their boat. Welcome to New York!

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The drive on Main Road to Orient Beach State Park gives you beautiful views of the small towns like East Marion, rocky beaches, horse farms, and seafood restaurants. At one point the road narrows and there is only water on both sides. We saw flocks of geese feeding in the shallow water, white-tailed deer running through the tall reeds, and an abandoned boat on the shore.

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The beach at Orient Point near the marina was quite beautiful with a far away view of a lighthouse and a perfect spot to have a picnic and watch the ferry dock.

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Apparently this beach is a shell collectors paradise because most of the beaches are covered in seashells and we had heard that there were rare yellow ones that could be found on only one beach in the area and we found some here!

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We had a great time exploring the north side of Long Island over the weekend. I can’t wait to go visit again in the summer!

i’m in miami b*tch…

This year we decided to travel to Miami for our long Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Our flight on Wednesday was on time despite the rainy cold weather threatening the skies of New York. The weather forecast was telling us that rainy ice and snow was on the way and we were anxious to leave our winter coats behind and enjoy the nice sunny weather in Florida! :)

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The cold front followed us to Miami for a few days but I definitely enjoyed 60 degree weather over 20 degrees and snow! We spent four days exploring Miami’s sandy beaches, eating seafood at several restaurants, and window shopping at all the local stores.

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The beaches in Miami are absolutely breathtaking! It is my first time in Miami and I fell in LOVE with the area! I also noticed the beaches were very very clean especially around the resorts and hotels. I saw several city workers emptying the trash cans and sweeping the paths through 0ut the day. My time on the beach would not be complete if I didn’t do my part. I walked the beach early each morning picking trash and enjoying the sunshine.

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I found a few mylar balloons stuck in the bushes near the beach and a few beer cans by the paths but otherwise my bag was still half empty after an hour on the beach. It was really nice to see the beach so clean.

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One small defender of the sandy beach of Miami! I found this little plastic toy and a few blue creatures on my second day of beach cleaning while on vacation in Miami Beach! And I found out later these are NOT jellyfish, they are  Portuguese Man O’ War (which are actually siphonophores). Apparently their stings cause excruciating pain and can grow up to 165 feet in length!

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Any time that I am able to sit and relax on the beach I am HAPPY! It was a great vacation! :) We are already planning our next trip to Florida.

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We rented a car one day and drove down to the Florida Keys. We only had time to stop in Key Largo for a quick half day of exploration. On the way we drove through the southern part of the Everglades. Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to take a hike or fan boat through the Everglades but that is on our list for our next trip.

Key Largo is the northern most part of the Florida Keys and is 33 miles long and still connected to the mainland and is called the “Diving Capital of the World” because the living coral reef a few miles offshore attracts thousands of scuba divers, and fisherman, and explorers. The weather was windy and the sea was rough so our snorkeling plans were canceled for the day. This tropical area is quite different than what I pictured though. We found out that because it is on the coral reef there is no sand and all beaches here are man made. The shoreline is generally rocky with limestone and fossilized coral and caprock.

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We drove into the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Here you can rent a kayak, canoe, or go snorkeling or take a tour in a glass bottom boat to check out the beautiful coral reef. The park covers approximately 178 nautical square miles of coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangrove swamps. The park extends 3 miles into the Atlantic Ocean and is approximately 25 miles in length. These areas were established to protect and preserve the living coral reef here in the United States.

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The visitors center has a 30,000 gallon saltwater aquarium to view living coral and exotic fish. We learned a lot about the coral reef and the Florida Keys. I’ve traveled quite a bit in my  lifetime so far; swimming in the Mediterranean Sea in France, kayaking the bays of the Atlantic Ocean, exploring the beaches of the Pacific Ocean in Northern California, and fishing on the Mississippi River, but nothing compares to the feeling of being on the coral reef in a tropical area that holds so much diverse living organisms and beauty.

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We took the short hike through the Mangrove Trail in John Pennekamp State Park. In all my hiking adventures I’ve never seen mangrove trees and it was exciting to explore. The trail was secluded and we were left alone with the sound of birds and frogs in the dense mangrove forest.

Thanks to the net, I learned that a mangrove tree thrives in salty environments because they are able to obtain freshwater from saltwater. Some secrete excess salt through their leaves, others block absorption of salt at their roots. In Florida, there are over 469,000 acres of mangrove forests and are very important to the ecosystem of the southern coast. Unfortunately, these areas are not all protected and urban delevelopment is the main reason for the decline of this ecosystem. The mangrove trees provide shelter for fish and shellfish, and food for some marine life. They also provide food for a multitude of marine species such as snook, snapper, tarpon, jack, sheepshead, red drum, oyster, and shrimp. Florida’s important recreational and commercial fisheries will drastically decline without healthy mangrove forests.

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In Key Largo, we stopped for dinner at Jimmy Johnson’s Big Chill Restaurant. We relaxed on the waterfront deck sipping margaritas and eating fresh Key Largo Mahi Mahi steak and Old Bay peel n eat steamed shrimp and homemade conch chowder. After the sun set behind the clouds, we walked over to the tiki bar for one more drink  with the locals to celebrate our day of adventure in the Florida Keys.

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We had a few hours to drive through downtown Miami and see the cruise ship terminals at PortMiami. This area is known as the cruise capital of the world and the cruise ships are a sight to see if you are ever in the area. Miami’s unique geographic position makes the Port easily accessible to Caribbean and Latin American markets, as well as those of Asia and Europe by way of the Panama Canal.

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The marina here is filled with fishing boats, shopping, and bars. It was a great place on the water to enjoy lunch and watch the ships come in.

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On our last night in Miami, we took a taxi to South Beach and walked Ocean Avenue and found CJ’s Crab Shack for dinner. It was rated the best place for crab! My boyfriend ordered a bucket of steamed blue crab and I ordered the stone crab legs and garlic shrimp. It was delicious!!

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Miami was a great vacation! The last few months have been stressful and we needed some time to relax and unwind and spend some quality time together. Miami offered us both our favorite things to do and see and our memories will last forever.

Exploring new places expands our perception of  life and gives us a better understanding of our inner self and the world around us.

Adventure and love both make me HAPPY! :)

a day at far rockaway beach

On Sunday morning a friend and I packed our beach bags and traveled out to Far Rockaway for the day. After a few days of rain we were relieved to see the sun shining and were hoping to enjoy a day at the beach. I love going to the beach and since the Atlantic Ocean is a quick subway ride away I spend a lot of time here in the summer.

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Upon arrival in Far Rockaway from the A train stop we did notice the devastation of Hurricane Sandy is still very evident in this area. The boardwalk is still under heavy construction and some of the beach is not accessible. Some of the bathrooms and concession stands are still being repaired.

I did read in one article that the beach repair has been quite complex and costing $270 million. Almost 430,000 tons of debris had to be removed after the hurricane damage before construction could begin. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers placed four and a half million cubic yards of new sand on the beach. Hundreds of independent contractors were hired to work day and night, and the Parks Department had to hire 1,000 extra employees and used 8,000 volunteers. The entire project has been non-stop for less than 5 months which is a record time.

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I noticed a few new signage on the beach designed by a Graphic Design Studio in Manhattan called Pentagram that clearly marks the beach areas and some have warnings about dangerous ocean tides. I read that 35 lifeguard stations have been built and extra lifeguards were out on full watch. I did get a chance to talk to Park Security as well which I had never seen at the beach before. They have been out since the beach reopened to monitor conditions and the safety of the beach-goers.

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Even though we arrived early the beach was getting crowded and it was nice to see everyone enjoying themselves on this beach once again.

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Afterwards, we decided to search for a place to eat and unfortunately had to walk a few blocks on Rockaway Beach Boulevard before we found an open establishment. Most of businesses are still boarded up, damaged and empty. The narrow streets were lined with construction equipment making it hard for cars to drive through.

Our search brought us to the famous taco stand and it was great to see business was flourishing with a hour long wait for delicious tacos so we opted to walk back down to Elegante Restaurant and Pizzeria. We ordered a chicken parmigiana which was large enough for both of us to share and it was worth raving about the entire ride home! It was the best marinara sauce I’ve ever had! We had a moment to talk to the Co-Owner, Frank Amato and our waitress about their struggle to rebuild the restaurant after Hurricane Sandy. Unfortunately they are still waiting for relief aid and had to take a huge financial risk to reopen their business by maxing out credit cards and loans. I think the entire community is glad they reopened because we heard that Elegante Restaurant and Pizzeria has the best pizza in town! We were treated like family from the moment we walked in the door and we wish them all the best and we will visit next time we go to the beach!