Wednesday, July 8, 2020

My Experience as an NLC Fellow

At the end of the summer last year, I got an e-mail letting me know that I had been nominated to apply to be an NLC Fellow. I was intrigued, but largely, I was confused - I had never heard of the NLC before, and I didn't (and still don't, actually) have any idea who nominated me.

Some of my best experiences in life have come when I wasn't sure about something but decided to just go for it - participating in Ms. Wheelchair USA, starting Accessible YOUniverse. So, after some Googling to figure out what exactly NLC was (more on that in a minute), I decided this was another opportunity that I needed to just go for - and I'm so glad that I did.
For those of you who are like me and aren't sure what NLC is - it stands for New Leaders Council, and their fellowship is a months-long training program for emerging progressive leaders. Typically, you meet one weekend a month (both days, mostly all day long) for about six months. Now, obviously, my program started out that way, and then had to pivot and figure out how to make the program work completely virtually. While the format changed, the content didn't. We heard from people involved in progressive work across a wide variety of fields - business, non-profit, elected officials - about their work, and how they came to be involved. We also had sessions focused on ourselves, as leaders - where we learned to tell our stories, and where we dug deep to really think about our values and our goals.

It will sound incredibly cliche, but truly, the best part of the program was meeting all of the other fellows. I think the most disappointing part of having to go virtual was not getting to spend more face-to-face time together, as a group. It was just such an empowering experience to be surrounded by such a passionate group of people. While we each may have had different areas of interest, the desire to do something, to be involved and make some sort of impact really brought us together quickly. And there was really an atmosphere of lifting each other up. I think it could have quickly become competitive, but instead, everyone wanted to see the others' ideas succeed, and wanted to help in whatever way they could.

If you want to find out more about the NLC, you can check out their website here. And if this sounds like something you'd be interested in, please e-mail me at - I'd be happy to talk more!

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Beachwaver Braid Balm Review

It has been so hot lately, and since I haven't gotten my hair cut since pre-pandemic times (January? February? I can't actually remember...), my hair is long, heavy, and hot. To get it out of my face, I've been pulling it back in a French braid a few times a week while it's still wet - it keeps it off my shoulders, and I don't have to worry about blow drying it.
The other plus is that if I leave it in the braid for a full day, when I take it out I have perfectly wavy hair with very little effort involved at all. I always laugh when people compliment me on it, because I think of it as my lazy hairstyle!
I've learned that using some product in my hair while it's wet, before I braid it, helps the braid to stay in place and helps the waves to hold better after I take the braid out. This Beachwaver "braid balm" came up as an ad while I was scrolling through Facebook, so I decided to give it a try.

First of all - it smells so good, and reminds me of the beach! I figure this is as close to a body of water as I'm going to get for a while, so I'll take what I can get. It's basically a mousse, so I spread it all over my hair and then comb it through. It says you can use it from the roots to the ends, but I found that if I put too much at the roots it's a little crunchy, so I apply lightly at the top.

It did a great job keeping my waves looking smooth and frizz-free once the braid was out. I thought they looked, and felt, really nice. I still add a little hairspray afterwards because my hair falls super easily, but if your hair holds a curl/wave better, the braid balm might be enough for you. All in all, I'm really happy with the braid balm, and it makes my work-from-home hairstyles much simpler.

Monday, July 6, 2020

My Favorite Sunscreens

I have been spending more time than ever outside this summer, and so I've had to be extra careful about making sure I'm wearing sunscreen. I burn super easily, so I take it seriously - nothing below SPF 30.

Also - let this post serve as your reminder that if you're still using sunscreen from last summer, it's time to throw it out and open a new one! They lose their efficacy and while using a year-old one won't harm you, it won't protect you from the sun.

Here are my go-to sunscreen choices, for my face and my body.

Face Sunscreen

I have worn this for years, regardless of season, under my makeup. It's very, very thin, and really just feels like a lightweight moisturizer. It doesn't break me out at all or feel heavy on my skin. If you're looking for something simple, this is a great choice.

This is a recent addition that I've been loving - I've actually been wearing it every day in place of makeup because it's slightly tinted. It's very glowy, though, like the name implies, so I mix it with the Paula's Choice so that I don't look like a disco ball after a few hours. It also doesn't make me break out, and it doesn't feel like I'm wearing makeup, either.

Body Sunscreen

I prefer spray-on sunscreens to lotions because it's easier for other people to apply it on me that way - but I'm also super picky in that I don't want it to have alcohol in it, and a lot of the ones from major brands do. I love this one because it's alcohol free, and sprays on fairly easily. However, it definitely needs to be rubbed in a little bit after it's sprayed on.

Someone shared this on an Instagram story (sadly, I can't remember who!) and I bought it almost instantly. It's also alchol-free, and it sprays in more of a mist than the La Roche-Posay one does. Just make sure to give it a few minutes to dry down, because it's pretty "wet" straight out of the can.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Friday Favorites

It has been a WEEK. Lily had to go to the emergency vet on Wednesday night after hours because she somehow hurt her leg - we're still not really sure what happened, but fingers crossed, it seems to just be a sprain. It made for a long night, though, and I was very happy that I had already decided to take Thursday off to extend my holiday weekend. What a start to July!

On to this week's favorites...
I'm so excited to announce that I've been nominated for a WEGO Health award for my Instagram! They're an organization that really supports patient leaders and advocates, and I'm so honored to be nominated. I'd really appreciate if you'd endorse me to help me make it to the next round! Just click the link above and click the thumbs up icon that says "Endorse."

The Hamilton movie comes out today!! To say I'm excited would be an understatement. This video of the original cast singing Helpless on Jimmy Fallon was the perfect little teaser.

Cloth masks are only useful if you clean them every time you wear them! If you were wondering about the best way to make sure they're actually clean, this is a great explainer.

If you haven't watched the Eurovision movie on Netflix yet, with Will Ferrell, Rachel McAdams, and Dan Stevens, you have to! Even if you're not familiar with what Eurovision is, it's still such a great, funny movie. And then read this article about how they wrote the songs for the movie!

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

My Favorite Small Business Jewelers

Because I've been really leaning into comfort in my fashion choices lately (and, in turn, lots of re-wearing), I've felt the need to step up my jewelry game. I figure that if I'm going to wear the same dress again, I can at least change it up with a different necklace or pair of earrings. And it's also been a way for me to feel like I'm able to support some small businesses, who are likely struggling right now, while also getting some fun new jewelry pieces that I love.
I'm sharing a few of my favorite small business jewelers below - let me know of your favorites so I know where to shop next!

I found out about Blakbird through a Pittsburgh Instagram account highlighting Black-owned businesses, and immediately knew I had to buy a pair of her earrings. I love that they're statement earrings but still have a simple, chic design. I'm wearing them in the picture above - I got the Maryen hoops!

I found this company on Madewell's website, but wanted to support them directly and check out all of their offerings. I love how dainty their designs are! I picked up a pair of earrings for myself, and got my friend who is a breast cancer survivor the pair that looks like boobs. So perfect.

Not the first time that I'm sharing Old Soul, but I have since purchased a few more pairs of earrings and the Etsy shop has really expanded. So many options to choose from, and all sustainable and shipped in sustainable packaging, too!

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Recent Reads

I was in a really good reading groove for all of May. And then about halfway through June, I feel like I lost it a little bit - sometimes, after I finish a great book, it takes a while for me to get into another one. (I also got a Nintendo Switch in June, so it's possible that had something to do with it...) I'm back in the habit now, though, so more books to come next month!
This is written as a letter from the author to his son, but it also explores issues about race on a societal level in addition to the personal. It's a short read, but it's honest and direct - which makes it hard to read at some points. It's also incredibly beautifully written.

This wasn't my favorite of the ones that I've read this month, but it wasn't bad, either. It's written as a story about complicated friendships and complex personal histories, and who we are and how we see ourselves.

I loved how this book was so multi-generational - it wove together so many different story lines so seamlessly. It really drew me in - I wanted to hear each character's story, and how they all fit together!

I learned a lot from this memoir - it's written about the author's life, and her experiences as a Black woman personally, and professionally in fields that claimed to place a high value on diversity. It really gives a first-hand look at the complexities of racism, and how it's a large-scale societal issue.

This book is meta - it's about a "chick lit" author facing writer's block after her vision of happily ever after has crumbled, and, of course, follows her own romance while also following her writing. I couldn't put it down!

I think this was my favorite for the month. Books that I really love have both engaging storylines and good writing, and this one definitely had both. It looks at belonging, and home, and race as a Black person living in different countries. I've also read We Should All Be Feminists by her and recommend both.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Three Years of Blogging

I am really bad at remembering my blogging "anniversary" - the end of May actually marked three years, but I didn't realize it until a week ago! Since I was already late, I figured the end of June was as good of a time as any to celebrate.
I started blogging because, at the very heart of it all, I love to write. Because I've always worked or studied in a more science-based field, I didn't really have an opportunity to do non-technical writing in my day-to-day life. Plus, as anyone who knows me even a little bit will tell you... I am not shy about my opinions. I have opinions about basically anything and everything, and I do not hesitate to share them. So a blog seemed like the perfect combination of the two - a way for my to write, and a way for me to share my opinions.

But what I underestimated was the opportunity I'd have to build a community. To connect with people who read my blog, to connect with new friends on Twitter and Instagram. And right now, it's those connections and that community that I'm the most grateful for. I definitely didn't think that I'd ever be blogging during a pandemic, or that I'd be coming up with things to talk about here without going anywhere for three (plus) months. But I've actually found the opposite to be true - I've felt like I've had more things to talk about and share. And I think that it's largely because of those connections and that community - because I can't make in-person connections right now, the virtual ones feel extra special.

Three years feels like a long time, in some ways - it's hard for me to remember not blogging - and yet I can also remember clearly the moment that I decided to stop just thinking about blogging and start actually doing it. I'm so glad that I did make that choice, and didn't allow myself to get too overwhelmed by the actual process of what it would mean to start a blog. I have loved sharing about my life with you; I love sharing about disability topics equally as I love sharing about cute new sundresses or a new habit that I picked up. I'm looking forward to more sharing in the months and years ahead.