Getting to Know hollybee + a Recipe

You know what's contributors and moderators think about migraine, but there’s more to us than migraine. We’re doing a Getting to Know… series to introduce you to the people behind the names. We’re sharing information in a variety of formats, but the goal is always the same—to help you get to know us a little better.

36 facts about me in honor of the 36 million Americans who have Migraine

  1. Where have you lived? I was born and raised in Chapel Hill, NC. I went to college up north where it was too cold for my southern blood so after graduating I moved back to Chapel Hill. I lived in and around the area but always kept my eye on my childhood home because it was my dream house. After marrying and having two children, the house I grew up in came back on the market, so my husband and I bought it back and it is where we now raise our two boys.
  2. What's the most unusual thing you've ever eaten? Still-moving sea urchins while traveling for work in Africa.
  3. Describe your support system: I am blessed to have my mother, my sister and her family, my husband’s parents, his brother and sister and their families - including seven nieces and nephews - and my best friend all living within 10 miles. My marathon running, Superior Court judge of a husband and our two courageous, hilarious, creative, driven sons hold me up figuratively and sometimes literally and I don’t know how I’d get by without all of them.
  4. What is your favorite quote? “There’s something that you learn on a tightrope: just outside the spotlight there’s a big net waiting for you.” Tanya Donelly
  5. What was your first job? I worked as a singing balloon deliverer. We delivered balloons with a song to say happy birthday, get well or congratulations. I’ll never forget showing up to a hospital to deliver balloons and being asked to sing “When You’re Smiling” to an unconscious elderly woman on a ventilator.
  6. What song describes your migrainesWind and the Mountain by Liz Phair.
  7. What scares you? Lightning. When I was 19, I was struck while sitting on a porch watching a storm roll in. The sky was churning and dark, the wind was gusting, but to that point, there had been no lightning. Out of nowhere came the loudest sound I’d ever heard and the brightest light I’d ever seen.  And then nothing. I awoke six feet away from where I had been sitting - having been thrown that far. My foot, which had been resting on a wrought iron railing that surrounded the porch, took the brunt of the contact and was slightly burned. I was of course badly shaken. Now, all these years later, any loud, unexpected noise takes me right back to that moment. That scare is sewn into my skin.
  8. What are your top three activities? Hanging with my family, long walks, and cooking.
  9. Do you collect anything? I inherited my Mema’s spoon collection from her world travels and I also collect sand dollars.
  10. What issues, besides migraine, do you care about? My mother was a home health care nurse before she pursued her degree as a Nurse Practitioner. When I was 9 years old, she took me and my sister to see patients in rural North Carolina who lived in mobile homes. Observing her caring for people from all backgrounds with such compassion opened my heart to the importance of helping those in need. After graduating from college, I followed suit and dedicated myself to social service, justice, and advocacy by working in nonprofits on issues including women’s health, HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, sexual assault, childhood education, and global health.
  11. What is the most outrageous thing someone told you would help your migraines? Colored lights. And like so many other suggestions, I tried it.  I shelled out $140 and spent ninety crazy minutes lying on a shag carpet with a woman putting different colored lightbulbs on the end of a tiny flashlight and pressing them on my forehead. Desperate times call for desperate wastes of time and money!
  12. Who are your favorite musicians? Kate Bush, Throwing Muses, Kristin Hersh, Tanya Donelly, Liz Phair, Cocteau Twins, Beck, Catpower.
  13. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?  An extrovert in my younger years, I’m now more of an introvert. I believe as people age, they generally tend toward being introverts and migraines can accelerate the process.
  14. Do you play any instruments? I am a singer and songwriter. I have taught myself how to play rudimentary guitar, bass, and piano just enough to help me compose songs and perform them but I can’t read music.
  15. How many siblings do you have? I have one of those great Brady Bunch families. I grew up with one sister who is my lifelong best friend. After my parents were divorced and both remarried, I ended up with a half-brother and five step brothers and sisters. Quite a crew!
  16. What is your biggest comfortAn end of the day bath of epsom salts, baking soda, and lavender essential oil.
  17. Where would you go if you could close your eyes and be anywhere? Treasure Cay, Bahamas. Our family has a deep history there and for me, it’s a touchstone that re-centers me spiritually, physically, and emotionally.
  18. What is one thing you've always wanted to do? Hike the Pacific Crest Trail.
  19. When you were little, who was your favorite superhero and why?  I desperately wanted to be Wonder Woman because she was such a great combination of strength, smarts, and beauty. I would spend hours spinning around in my driveway hoping that I would turn into her.
  20. How would your friends describe you? Compassionate, optimistic, resilient.
  21. How old were you when you had your first migraine?   When I was 6, my teacher used to smack my desk with a ruler to gain the attention of the class. My mom recalls me coming home with red swollen eyes, head hurting.
  22. Besides migraines, what other health conditions do you manage? None.  Thanks, migraines.
  23. What are you most grateful for? My sons. I am constantly learning so much from them and am grateful for the friendship that they share with each other and with me.
  24. What’s a favorite life story?  When we were both 25 years old, my husband and I met when I was working at the local women’s center and he was organizing a service for law students to provide free legal advice to women in need.  We dated for about 4 months before our mothers met. When they did, they gasped and smiled. “I remember you from drop off”. It turned out that we had attended the same preschool. His mother found a class picture that included the two of us at three years old. We now have that picture framed and prominently featured in our home, 18 years into our marriage.
  25. If you could give a small piece of advice to someone who is new to living with migraine, what would it be? Find a headache specialist and really dig into the resource that is It truly is a great place to find answers and community.
  26. Besides writing for, are you able to work outside the home? No. It's been 5 years since I had to stop working as a fundraiser for a global health nonprofit. At the time, I was excusing myself from high-powered meetings to vomit in the bathrooms of restaurants nearly every day. I had hoped that stopping working would lower the severity or frequency of my pain or other symptoms. It did not. I still struggle with nausea and vomiting even at home. Unless something dramatic changes, I have a hard time picturing being able to return to work. I’m grateful to have found other fulfilling volunteer opportunities such as serving on the Board of the Carolina Headache Foundation and baking for Meals on Wheels that offer flexibility, a sense of purpose, and allow me to help others.
  27. Name one thing you miss doing: Being spontaneous.
  28. Have you ever had a nickname? Hollywood, Wood, Hollybee, Holmol, Hoobie.
  29. What would you do if you won the lottery? I would certainly give a large portion to migraine research as it truly is the ugly stepchild of the medical field.  With over 36 million people affected by migraine, it remains vastly understudied, with too few physicians choosing it as their field of specialty.
  30. How many pillows do you sleep with? Four. Is that crazy? I travel with my tempurpedic pillow and can’t sleep without it.
  31. Are you a clean or messy person? I’ve always been really serious about cleanliness, but after a brief stint as a house-cleaner one summer during college I learned how to properly clean a house. Once I had the skills and know-how, there was no going back. Now I’m one of those annoying people who can’t relax until everything’s put away and cleaned up.
  32. Is your glass half full or half empty?   Full. Always. That’s how my mom raised me. Yes I have chronic daily migraines that have made it so I can’t work, but they helped me slow down and have more time with my children. I’m living with fairly constant physical discomfort but with more love and gratitude in my heart than I likely otherwise would’ve had.
  33. How do you want to be remembered? I’ve come to see that our impact in this world comes down to the way we live and how we love more than the things we do. So, I hope my impact will be related to the love I gave to my family and friends. I hope that they feel buoyed by my support in a way that helps them throughout their lifetimes.
  34. What teacher inspired you most and why?  Math was my least favorite subject. It didn’t come naturally to me. I was interested in dance and was sure it would be my major in college. What is the point of math, I asked my teacher, Norm.  With his great energy and bright eyes, he encouraged me to look for the connections. He took the time to give examples of ways that math connected to music and therefore would be key to dance. He also explained how math would come in handy in choreography. And he was right.
  35. What is your favorite childhood memory? Singing and dancing along to Dionne Warwick and Judy Collins with my mom and sister in our living room.
  36. What's your favorite recipe? With migraines, I have to avoid a lot of foods that are triggers including dairy, gluten, and many kinds of meat. This recipe lands in the sweet spot that excludes all of those triggers and still tastes delicious:

Kale Quinoa w/ Egg & Avocado

(serves 2)

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 6 garlic cloves sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large handfuls kale, stemmed & cut into 2" pieces
  • 2-4 eggs
  • ½ cup chopped avocado
  • 1 chopped scallion
  • red pepper flakes
  • kosher salt
  • fresh ground pepper

In large skillet or wok on medium heat, sauté garlic til fragrant. Add cooked quinoa til heated through (1-2 minutes).  Add kale on top – let the steam from the quinoa wilt the kale.

While the kale is steaming, in separate small skillet, fry your eggs sunny side up (one or two eggs per person to top depending on who’s hungrier).

While eggs are cooking, turn the kale under the quinoa and mix fully. Don’t overcook. Take off burner when kale is brighter rather than darker wilted green.

Place quinoa and kale mixture into large shallow bowl or plate for serving. Top with egg(s). Top with chopped avocado, scallion, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.


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