Sunday, May 22, 2016

bald point

I'm almost certain that most of life's small annoyances and even some of life's great tragedies can be remedied with a trip to the beach.  Now I'm not sure that there's a scientific reason for this phenomenon, but I chalk it up to the combination of cold salt water, warm breezes, and the sweet sound of waves crashing against the shore and birds calling out to each other.



I'm sure a case can be made for every beach in North America, but you haven't truly experienced the beach until you've been to Bald Point, right here in Florida.  There's really something magical about a pristine white beach, free from the high rises and beer pong tournaments one usually finds in this part of Florida.  The hour long drive from Tallahassee takes you past all the sights that make this state such an oxymoron - first you pass government buildings and law offices, then Walmarts, Dollar Stores, and Piggly Wigglys, then onto long stretches of road with an over-abundance of bail bonds offices and tattoo shops and oyster bars streaking past the car windows.  An endless parade of fire stations, and Ace Hardware stores, and gas stations, until finally, nature takes control of the environment and for several miles its nothing but pine trees and palm trees and scrubby oak trees mixed in with open Savannahs of tall grass and alligators, as far as the eye can see.  Then a bridge, and a small marked road, and a ten minute drive past rental houses and fishing boats and boiled peanut stands, until finally, the State Park sign appears in the distance.  The beach itself is relatively small, but littered with ancient palmettos, and great masses of exposed pine tree roots, and enormous sand dunes, and wild, untouched beauty.

So I say it again - if you haven't been to Bald Point, you haven't truly experienced the beach as it was meant to be experienced.  But enough of my ramblings!

My sweet mama and I got up late this morning and decided there was no time like the present to pack a lunch and head down to the coast.  One hour later we staked out our spot, dove into our lunch (three bean salad, potato salad, deviled eggs, green olives, watermelon, and baby Cokes), and spent a glorious afternoon exploring our surroundings.

 

            

 

 

There really is something magical about the beach.

xoxo,
Eliza

Saturday, April 2, 2016

springtime in the south

Everyone has that one outfit that feels fresh and interesting every time they slip into it.  For me, that outfit is a beautiful gray 1950s dress printed with small white petals and an outrageously large floral hat from the early 1950s.  The hat I picked up in an antique store in Hiawassee, Georgia, eight years ago - I had seen it the previous year, but it was out of my price range.  But as luck (and the Vintage Gods) would have it, when I went back a year later, there it was!  In the same store, in the same place, with a much lower price on the tag.  The dress was picked up from Dalena Vintage and is now a staple in my wardrobe.  Worn separately, both pieces are beautiful.  But worn together, they look as though they were never meant to be worn apart.

 

 

 It was very windy today at the Springtime Tallahassee celebrations, and I stupidly left home without a hatpin, so my arms got lots of unnecessary exercise.  After shopping the vendors, listening to music, and eating our weight in kettle corn, my beautiful mama and I took a tour of the Old Capitol Museum, where we found an exhibit about historic Florida State Parks.  It couldn't have been a more perfect day (although I could have done without the thick layer of soggy oak pollen that carpeted every surface...but that's life in the south). 


 Happy Spring!

xoxo,
Eliza

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

emdometriosis part II

Do you ever find yourself googling a medical condition, becoming convinced that you have said medical condition, making an appointment with a medical professional, and then being told that you are perfectly fine and leave the office feeling silly?  As someone who is VERY conscious of every ache and pain and completely aware of my family history of just about every singe deadly disease in the books and strives to live as healthy a life as possible, this scenario has become very repetitive.  I exercise regularly, I eat clean, I take my vitamins, I wear sunscreen, I watch my intake of salt, sugar, and caffeine, I don't smoke, I don't drink alcohol, and I drink tons and tons of water.  I've been to the doctor, convinced that I broke a toe, only to find that I am perfectly fine.  I've been to the doctor, convinced that I had a torn rotator cuff, only to find out that I just have a super flexible shoulder joint.  I've been to the doctor, convinced that I had breast cancer, only to find out that I have super lumpy boobs.  Notice a trend here?

This is why I was so shocked to find out, last week, that my gut feeling was right.  On Wednesday I was diagnosed as having a Uterine Anomaly.  Were it not for my gut feeling that I had Endometriosis, this anomaly would not have been discovered for years.  And were it not for multiple people sharing their stories about endometriosis, I would not have known the condition existed.

So, because I believe in being honest, and because I believe my story has the potential to help other women, today I am sharing part two of my Endometriosis Story.  (read part one here)

 Jim Schaeffing Vintage Pulp Art Illustration | Female-Centric Pulp Art | Sugary.Sweet | #Pulp #Art #Illustration:


Two months ago I got a call from my primary care doctor saying that the results from my pelvic ultrasound came back negative.  I did not have endometriosis, just incredible horrible periods.  Knowing this information, I made a follow up appointment with my gynecologist to discuss pain management options - birth control?  Lifestyle changes?  Chloroform and a rag to knock myself out for a couple days each month?  (totally joking.....sort of)

On Wednesday, I entered the office in a good mood, cracking jokes to the receptionist and my mom (who I was so lucky to have with me).  An hour later, I exited in tears after learning that I am one of 5% of women in the United States to have a uterine anomaly called a "uterine septum," a congenital malformation of the uterus caused during the early stages of fetal development.  Beginning as two halves, the uterus slowly comes together,the two sides of the uterus connecting to one another.  But in some fetuses, instead of developing into the normal uterine shape, the uterus remains slightly separated with a vertical septum dividing the two halves.  My gynecologist explained it as having a heart-shaped uterus.  Had this not been discovered now, I would have suffered from multiple miscarriages in the future - since currently, my uterus is not big enough or in the correct shape to carry a baby to full term.  Due to the abnormal shape of my uterus, my monthly blood flow is being redirected out of the falopian tubes, which both explains my incredibly painful periods, and puts me at an increased risk of having endometriosis.  As you can imagine, my head is spinning with information, unfamiliar emotions, and a million questions that won't be answered for another month.  Do I have endometriosis?  If so, how bad is it?  How extreme is my uterine septum?  Will I be able to get pregnant?  Will I ever be able to carry a baby, healthily, to full term?  My first pregnancy would have most definitely ended in a miscarriage.  To know that, and now to know that thanks to one person mentioning her experiences with endometriosis, I won't have to experience heartbreaking miscarriages in the future is an unbelievably bizarre feeling.  To mourn something that would have happened.  To know what my future would have held for me.  And now, to know that that WON'T happen, and that my future holds a different outcome, makes me incredibly grateful for modern medicine and for good friends who share their stories.

Now, I have a plan.  Tomorrow I have an MRI, next month I have a follow up appointment, and then a surgery - and then, hopefully, a future clear of the miscarriages and fertility issues that so many women suffer from.

Three months ago I had never heard of Endometriosis or a uterine anomaly.  Life happens quickly.

So, if you are suffering from an endless list of symptoms - related to the uterus, chest, ankle, or forehead - and keep thinking you'll get it checked out a month from now, or a year from now, or when the timing is right, let my story motivate you to GET IT CHECKED OUT NOW.  Nine times out of 10, it will be nothing.  But that 10th time always comes.  And it's better to get to it before it gets to you.

xoxo,
Eliza

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

the basics of style

I often find myself in situations where people ask me why I spend so much of my life surrounded by the past.  Why do I dress in vintage clothing?  Why do I set my hair nearly every night?  Why do I spend countless hours researching novelty prints, various silhouettes, and hat styles?  Why do I only buy vintage clothing?

  :

Now I know it sounds simple, but I feel my most comfortable in vintage styles, I love my hair when it spent the night in pin curls, and vintage clothing is simply better quality than most of the clothing produced today.  There's just something special about taking the time to curate a wardrobe and knowing that behind every piece is a long history and a long list of women who have loved it as much as you do now.

colours: Vintage Knitting Crochet Needlework Patterns Dazespast:

It's all about attention to detail.  It's about the silhouette.  It's about the colors, and the textures, and the accessories.  And it's also about the journey - you can't walk into any old store and find a new addition to your wardrobe.  It takes time, and patience, and trial and error to find your style.

 1940's couple: August Vogue 1949 Eve is wearing a natural gray Persian lamb jacket and white lambskin gloves. Photo by Frances McLaughlin-Gill.:

And it also takes a new attitude.  In a world where casual is king, it takes gumption to be the most dressed up person in the room.  Expect stares.  Expect comments.  And expect the all-to-common "wow, you're dressed up" remark.  But more than that, you have to be confident in your own ability to wear the clothes, instead of letting the clothes wear you.  You have to be comfortable in your own skin.

 Elegant ladies (1961): A tribute to Kodachrome Film - The Photography Blog:

I always think of my grandparents - both exceptionally well-dressed - who always gave me pieces of advice, whether or not they knew they were doing it.  When she was grocery shopping, entertaining grandchildren, or cooking for Thanksgiving, even when she was in the hospital, my grandmother always wore lipstick.  The same shade, the same brand, for my entire childhood.  She kept a small box in the bathroom with lipstick, powder, and a small bottle of perfume.  She kept her nail polish in the fridge because she swore it lengthened its life.  Her hair was always done, even when she could no longer do it herself.  She didn't do it to impress anyone, she didn't do it to please society - she did it for herself. 

My grandfather was always meticulously dressed.  He was a man who owned approximately 14,000 blue button down shirts because they were his favorite.  A man whose closet was better stocked and more organized than a Prada warehouse.  And a man who could rock a bathrobe and slippers just as much as he could rock a tweed suit.  He taught me that one doesn't always need to be daring in one's appearance.  Sometimes the basics are simply the best.

Now, I don't keep my nail polish in the fridge, and I have a really hard time sticking to the basics, and therefor my grandparents are probably both wagging a finger at me right now, but these lessons can be adapted to fit your own lifestyle.  Welcome to my three rules of style.  These are by no means strict, and are open to interpretation, but when I'm having trouble coming up with a new outfit or find myself feeling gross no matter what I'm wearing, here are the rules I fall back on:

1.  Don't overestimate simplicity.  A fitted black skirt, a white blouse, and black ballet flats. Black and white stripes.  Black cigarette pants.  You don't always need to be loud to be stylish.

2.  Find your length.  Also known as, Mini Skirts Aren't for Everyone.  As someone who owns five miniskirts, I clearly have both a problem abiding by rules, and getting rid of clothing, but I also know that I look best in mid-length skirts that hit three inches below the knee.  This knowledge comes from years of wearing super short skirts in ballet class that barely grazed the derriere (over tights and a leotard, and point shoes), and another number of years wearing maxi skirts in the summertime so I wouldn't have to shave my legs. One was too short, one was too long, and one was just right.

3. Dress by the silhouette.  When you begin to think what you want to wear, instead of thinking about colors, patterns, and particular styles, think about your ideal silhouette.  What shape do you want to wear?  If someone took a high contrast photograph of you, so that everything was split into light and dark, what would your silhouette look like?  Once you know what shape you want to achieve, then you can work from there.

 "Ok Mabel, Ethel....I got the pistol in my pocket....you guys go in first then I'll follow with the whole "This Is a stick up" routine. The bank won't know what hit 'em." Stated Francene.:

And the most important rule?  Life is too short to wear boring clothes, and too long to hate what you wear.  So build up from the basics, and never be afraid to be the most dressed up person in the room.

xoxo,
Eliza

Monday, January 18, 2016

endometriosis


I try not to get too serious on here (because who wants to read about finances and doctor appointments when you just want to scroll through recipes and hat photos?), but there are times when I must put aside my own discomfort and try wearing a different hat.  So, meet PSA Eliza. 

This is a Public Service Announcement aimed at people with a uterus.  Sit down, have a cup of tea, and get your pencil ready.  It's story time.

 Housewives:

Ten years ago, a young and newly pubescent me went to the gynecologist complaining of heavy periods, spotting, excruciating cramps, severe abdominal pain, and occasional nausea.  An ultrasound found a small lump, which was diagnosed as an ovarian cyst – not harmful, and likely to go away on its own.  It was recommended that I go on birth control pills to regulate my periods and help with the severe cramps, but given my age and the harsh side effects of the options available to me, I decided to treat them as naturally as I could.  For the ten years that followed the diagnosis, my periods became almost annoyingly reliable (“Can we switch it Wednesday?  My period is going to start at 3:15 on Thursday."), but the cramps were still excruciating.  There were times when getting out of bed was out of the question, and I was in so much pain that I would throw up.  Going to work, going to class, and having a social life proved difficult.  Like a broken record, the phrase “every period is different and everyone has a different threshold for pain” had been circulating my head for years, slowly brainwashing me into believing that I was weak.  I could see the weakness scale in my mind.  There it was, me on one end, lying on the bathroom floor and unable to move, and a marathon runner on the other end, pushing through the pain like an Olympian.

This image kept me thinking that the problem was in my head, not in my uterus.  And that’s a dangerous way to think.  But it all changed when I saw a post on Instagram by Mab Graves.  She bravely talked about her experiences with endometriosis – a big, scary word that I had heard once or twice before but had not paid any attention to.  One Mayo Clinic search later, and all those frozen layers of self-deprecating thoughts began to thaw.  Lower back pain?  Check.  Severe cramping?  Check.  Heavy periods?  Check.  Sharp abdominal pain?  Check, check, check, check, check.

To save you time, here is a portion of the Mayo Clinic's article on endometriosis, though I highly suggest reading the whole thing: 

Endometriosis (en-doe-me-tree-O-sis) is an often painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus (endometrial implant). Endometriosis most commonly involves your ovaries, bowel or the tissue lining your pelvis. Rarely, endometrial tissue may spread beyond your pelvic region.
In endometriosis, displaced endometrial tissue continues to act as it normally would — it thickens, breaks down and bleeds with each menstrual cycle. Because this displaced tissue has no way to exit your body, it becomes trapped. When endometriosis involves the ovaries, cysts called endometriomas may form. Surrounding tissue can become irritated, eventually developing scar tissue and adhesions — abnormal tissue that binds organs together.

Immediately after reading the above section, I thought of my experience ten years ago.  Was it a cyst?  Or was it endometriosis?  I was flooded with panic.  What if I have to have surgery?  What if I’ve had endometriosis for ten years and it’s done serious damage?  What if I can’t have kids?  Those are scary questions, but ones that need to be addressed rather than ignored.

I’m now embarking on what may prove to be a long and scary road.  I have a primary doctor appointment under my belt, a referral to the best gynecologist in town, and an ultrasound appointment slip in my wallet.  Wherever this road leads, I know I have options, and people who will walk beside me.

Thanks to Ms. Graves, I realized it was time I took my body seriously.  Our bodies know what we need, whether or not our brains choose to listen.

So, if you’ve been chocking your symptoms up to a weakness in character, or have spent way too many days crying from the pain, THIS IS YOUR SIGN FROM THE UNIVERSE.  Get it checked.  Your doctor won’t laugh at you, the people who love you will support you, and your body will thank you.

xoxo,
Eliza

Sunday, January 17, 2016

a day at the museum

I find it fitting that my first post of this new year is all about my first trip to the Tallahassee Museum of 2016.  If you've never been to the museum, take this as an omen/sign from the universe/kick in the ass/etc, etc, that it's time to visit.  Now that we've cleared up what you're going to do on your next day off, let me tell you a little bit about the Tallahassee Museum.

Built partly in the swamp, ancient cypress trees jut out of the water with a blanket of Spanish moss dripping from every branch.  Beautiful winding trails take you through the sandy Florida wilderness, past a plantation house, school house, historic church, inactive sinkhole, and a fully functioning farm.

 

Part living history museum, part wild animal sanctuary, and absolute heaven for the children of North Florida. 

 
 

It's safe to say that I spent most of my childhood at the museum, either running around the playground and playing in the sink hole, or volunteering with the mom and sister at the farm house.  Most of my early memories are planting onions in the museum's garden, collecting acorns, visiting the owls, the panthers, and the otters, standing by the wood burning stove in the winter, and collecting cold water from the pump in the summertime.

 

 

 

Thank you for the memories, Tallahassee Museum.  I know we'll make lots more.

xoxo,
Eliza

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

~ holiday cheer ~

The leaves have fallen.  The cookies are baked.  The wrapping paper is down from the attic.

The Holidays are here.

 

And with the Holidays come holiday parties, holiday music on the record player, and a sudden desire to not wear what I slept in.  The fake eyelashes come out of their box, stockings out of their drawer, hair is put into pin curls, nailed are painted, and festive clothing rescued from the back of the closet.






 Perhaps it's the Publix commercials that never fail to bring me to tears, or seeing wreaths hung on doors, or stockings over fireplaces, but the holiday season seems especially merry this year.

2015 has done its best to knock me down - and it's going out with a bang - but despite the painful things in this world, the holiday season still comes around, presents are still given, and love is still shared.  There may be days when it's hard to get out of bed, and hard to face the things one must face, but these moments of happiness (however fleeting) make life worth while.
 
So, Happy Holidays.  Hold your loved-ones close, appreciate what you have, and eat lots of cookie dough.

xoxo,
Eliza