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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gathering around the boathouse

On Saturday I hung out with a great group of people! I had soooo much fun!! I joined Green Shores NYC, the L.I.C. Boathouse, Riverkeepers, and the Friends of Gantry at the local East River shoreline in Long Island City in the Gantry State Park for the 2014 Riverkeeper Sweep.

It’s a quick commute for me on the 7 train so I arrive early and enjoy my homemade granola bar and coffee on the benches by the waterfront enjoying the view of Manhattan that I LOVE so much. The forecast had predicted rain but the clouds seem to be clearing and the sun is peeking through the leftover clouds. The L.I.C. Flea is already in full swing with music, food vendors cooking, and booths set up. It’s a great place to try different food, enjoy the waterfront in Queens, and buy some antiques or homemade items.

RiverKeeper_logoI had volunteered with Green Shores NYC a few years ago at a waterfront clean-up in Astoria Park. This not-for-profit organization is run by volunteers only and maintains the eight miles of the Astoria-Long Island City Waterfront from Newtown Creek to Bowery Bay. If you want to get involved with a local organization to participate in community clean-ups or other projects along the waterfront in Queens – THIS IS IT! 

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I am pictured above with Katie Ellman, President and Director of Green Shores NYC at the beginning of the volunteer event and, as you can see I am wearing my “Fight Like A Girl” t-shirt today!

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 We started off the day helping the volunteers from New York Cares and the Friends of Gantry to remove excess mulch off the plants in the garden. Apparently the city used too much of the mulch in this area in the garden beds and it is suffocating the plants and trees.

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As we are working in the garden removing the excess mulch we are also picking up small bits of litter which consist mostly of cigarette butts, food wrappers or small plastic pieces which can blow into the river and kill fish and birds. I’ve noticed a lot of dog walkers and smokers stopping in this park and they should be aware of the damage that pollution can cause. I really wish the city would install cigarette butt receptacles, do not pollute signs or more trash cans in this area. The signs don’t look nice but litter does NOT look nice either.

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After a short break, Martha and I move over to the L.I.C. Boathouse dock to check if there is litter for us to pick up. We notice that this area is full of broken glass (pictured above) because the old double paned windows on the building next to the dock are breaking. There is also some trash stuck to the fence which is blowing over from the L.I.C Flea. Once again, I just think that people should be aware of the dangers of litter when they are eating by the waterfront. I’m hoping that anyone who saw us that day cleaning up will take a moment to think about it.

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We managed to fill only 1 large garbage of trash through-out the day which is a good thing. It is nice to see that this park is relatively clean and well maintained. Most of the litter was scattered on the street under cars and stuck to the fencing.

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After the event we hung out by the Long Island Community Boathouse, which offers FREE kayaking or canoeing! What more can you ask for! If you want to explore the area by water or try a fun summer water sport then I highly recommend kayaking with the L.I.C. Boathouse! The boathouse is run by volunteers also so if you are looking for a FUN place to volunteer you could check this out also!

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The view of the river is spectacular at any time. It was a great day to be outdoors enjoying it. It was my first time meeting everyone from the L.I.C Boathouse and being inside their facility.

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After the event, we got beers from the Rockaway Brewing Company next door. And you know I LOVE anyways Rockaways and this brewery was originated in the backyard of a bungalow in Far Rockaway! They brew the beer in the back and sell it in a small room in the front. A friendly staff, good locally brewed beer, and free potato chips – what a deal!

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Like I said before, I had a fun day. Excuse my lack of writing skills but what else can I say. There are moments such as this at a volunteer event where you feel like you are a part of something bigger than what you had signed up for. You meet local community groups with great people who are passionate about similar interests as you. You are sitting in the boathouse with a group of people drinking a beer laughing, talking and enjoying a summer afternoon like you are old friends. You skip home with a smile on your face. Like I said before, what more can you ask for.

sign up for “one thing that’s green” day

I just signed up for the seventh annual One Thing That’s Green on Saturday, April 19th in Highland Park hosted by JetBlue Airlines and New York Restoration Project and its MillionTreesNYC initiative! This tree-planting event is estimated to plant over 100 trees with the help of more than 250 volunteers in the garden space in New York City Housing Authority’s (NYCHA) Woodside Houses in Woodside, Queens! That is great! I can’t wait to be a part of this event. 

If you haven’t participated in a volunteer event this year then sign up! I will be there! I love big sponsored volunteer events. We get FREE t-shirts, training, and fun activities through-out the day. Usually breakfast, lunch, and snacks are provided to volunteers as well. It’s a fun day to get out and meet new people, gain experience, and make a positive difference in the community you live in.

See you there! :)

 

 

gardening in east river park

It’s Saturday! I am volunteering with New York Cares and the New York Park and Recreation Department in East River Park on the Lower East Side of Manhattan to plant daffodil and crocus bulbs in one of the many many gardens. Our many wishes came true and we have a warm sunny Spring day- finally!

I used to play tennis at the Brian Watkins Tennis Center in East River Park, but have’t been here in years! I am eager to walk down Houston Street and explore the Lower East Side of Manhattan this morning before I get to the park. The 7 train was running to Manhattan this weekend so my commute was quick and easy. I got of the F train at Houston and took my time walking down to the river. Katz’s Deli was a great place for me to visit for the first time and get a cup of coffee to go.

I continue to walk another 15 minutes to the East River Park, which runs alongside the Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) Drive and the East River from Montgomery Street to East 12th Street. This park is over 57 acres of waterfront property with spectacular views of the Williamsburg Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge. It has bike paths, flower gardens, tennis courts, baseball courts, playgrounds, soccer fields, an amphitheater, and the Ecology Center. 

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I meet the New York Cares team leaders and fellow volunteers at the track house off the FDR and 6th. The New York City Parks gardener, Hayward, gets our supplies ready for us to start planting!

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For the next few hours we plant daffodil and crocus bulbs in the garden and talk, laugh, and enjoy being outside. I’m really glad I signed up for this project – it was a great way to be outdoors, meet new people, and explore the LES once again, and hopefully in a few weeks we will see our flowers grow and bloom!

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As you can see, there are some daffodils already blooming around the park. The month of March was starting to get depressing because the weather just wasn’t letting winter go quite yet. I was hoping to wash and put all my gloves and hats away for the year but I still need them every day.

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After the volunteer event I decided to walk down the path along the East River and check out more of the park. The baseball field had a game in progress. I noticed the sign (pictured below) that warns players and visitors to clean up after themselves! Just to note, the entire park was really clean of trash except in the fenced off areas under the bridge.

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After the volunteer event I decided to walk down the path along the East River and check out more of the park. The baseball field had a game in progress. I noticed the sign (pictured above) that warns players and visitors to clean up after themselves! Just to note, the entire park was really clean of trash except in the fenced off areas under the bridge.

 

volunteering in chinatown

I was volunteering at Sara D. Roosevelt park today with New York Cares and the New York City Park and Recreation. The weather was great and we worked hard raking leaves along the edge of the fence.

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As you can see in the pictures there is still some snow on the ground. The weather has been quite cold the last few weeks but gave volunteers a break this Saturday morning. It felt great to get outside and work up a sweat!

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The park is in Chinatown area of New York City so there was a lot of trash around the park because of the Chinese New Year parade and celebrations held here recently.

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Thankfully I did see a small crew of workers from New York City Parks and Recreation sweeping and cleaning the trash in the park. They definitely had a lot of work to do that day.

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raking leaves in astoria park

Brrrr! It is a cold November morning but I am eager to get to Astoria Park to volunteer with New York Cares and the Astoria Park Alliance. Astoria Park is 59.96-acres city park that runs along the East River in Queens that has many beautiful trees which means ALOT of leaves to rake in the Fall!

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The Astoria Park Alliance is a GREAT organization that was started in 2007 to create a bridge between the community surrounding Astoria Park and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Volunteers and supporters assist in keeping the park maintained and clean and bring awareness to the community. They hold many fun events such as Leaf Fest and the NY Cupcake Run to encourage people to become more involved in Astoria Park and the community.
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Even though the weather was chilly that morning, a large group of volunteers arrived and within a few hours we filled over 100 bags of leaves! And it was nice to hear that most of the black garbage bags we used to fill with leaves are re-used from previous volunteer events in the park.

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Build It Green! NYC is a nonprofit that takes in salvaged material such as doors, windows, and wood from construction sights, supplier, and other sources to stop these items from going in the landfill. Most of these items are sold in their warehouse and some are donated. This is a GREAT idea! Reuse! Recycle! AND Build It Green! NYC has a program called BIG!Compost that works very hard to increase the participation and acceptance of composting. They supplied a truck and driver on Saturday to come pick up all the leaves we raked to compost at their facility. This compost will later on be used as mulch for city parks.

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It had been a really stressful week for me so it was great to get outdoors and enjoy being outside in my favorite park and participate in a fun volunteer event! :) HAPPY!

buying books for a cause

This afternoon I ventured down to the Housing Works Bookstore Cafe on Crosby Street in SoHo to check out the Open Air Street Fair.  There were boxes of donated books, albums, and clothing all on sale starting for $1! I couldn’t miss this street fair because I love to buy books at a bargain and it’s for a good cause.

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There are a lot of bookstores in the New York City area to buy your favorite book but if you like a bookstore with thrift store prices, a great selection, and most importantly helps others you will LOVE the Housing Works Bookstore Cafe! It is located at 126 Crosby Street. All the books in this store are donated, most of the staff is a volunteer and 100% of the profits go to Housing Works, which provides housing and related supportive services to low-income and homeless New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS.

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The Open Air Street Fair had the street closed off in front of Housing Works with tents full of books, dvd’s and clothing such as summer hats and flip flops. There was several food trucks such as Luke’s Lobster, and homemade cupcakes and cookies from the cafe. I got a BBQ chicken slider from Mexicue and loved it!

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I have attended the free writing classes on Sunday morning several times in the last year. I always go in early to browse the shelves of books and order a hot coffee and cinnamon scone or banana bread. I really enjoy the class and learn a lot from published authors and I meet new inspiring writers and artists. I never leave the bookstore without buying a bag full of books no matter how much I try to convince myself that I don’t need them.

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There are many ways to volunteer for Housing Works at their several locations and events but if you don’t have a lot of time just remember to stop by one day and order a cup of coffee and buy a book. I bought a few today and that made me HAPPY! :)

I love, New York Cares

After moving to New York, I was searching for a new volunteer opportunity, and I found an organization called New York Cares. It is the city’s largest volunteer organization, running volunteer programs for 1,300 nonprofits, city agencies, and public schools. They have almost 56,000 volunteers signed up right now. New York Cares has many different programs and volunteer opportunities.  They also show if the volunteer opportunity would be something good for children, families or groups. After a quick orientation meeting you can go to their website and just sign up for any program that you are interested in at the time that is convenient for you because we both know that life never slows down.

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A few projects I have participated in have been: to clean, revitalize and garden in Astoria Park in early summer, spread mulch and weed flower beds in Riverside Park in the fall, played sports with children with disabilities for KEEN at  the East 54th Street Recreation Center, served water and snacks during the 5 Boro Bike Race,  and helping out at the Long Island City cat sanctuary owned by Bobbi and the Strays. I have had a lot of much fun and gained a lot of experience by volunteering. I have met some amazing people and made a few friends. I’ve learned a lot about the city as well.

If you would like to get involved please go to www.newyorkcares.org and sign up for an orientation. If you want to donate go to http://www.newyorkcares.org/donate_now/. New York Cares also has several opportunities to donate your time to the Hurricane Sandy Relief efforts.

Most of these organizations would be not running without the help of their volunteers. It’s a great and easy way to volunteer your time and give back to the NY community. We all have our reasons to donate our time and we all have different reasons why it makes us HAPPY!