Monday, March 25, 2019

Toasting to Life with MDA

Last week, I had the honor of making an appearance as Ms. Wheelchair USA at the Muscular Dystrophy Association's Toast to Life Gala. MDA is actually an organization that I (and my whole family!) have been involved with since I was a little kid. They raise money for many different types of neuromuscular diseases, SMA being one of them, and have been doing so for years and years.

Dress available here

They used to have telethons, where they'd be on the air all day nationwide raising money (I feel so old explaining telethons!). They had different people featured on the telethon in different cities - some celebrities, some entertainers, and some families affected by nueromuscular diseases. A few times, my family and I got to be interviewed on TV for the telethon, which was SUPER exciting as a little kid! My sister and I also got to be Junior Goodwill Ambassadors for a year, spreading the word about MDA and the great work that they do.

Although I never took part, another big thing that MDA does is hold a summer camp for kids with neuromuscular diseases each year, where they can go without their parents. MDA provides all the volunteers and caregivers. This is a HUGE opportunity for kids who might not otherwise physically be able to get that taste of independence.
So it was really exciting to get to work with MDA again now, as an adult. The gala was a fun way to bring attention to the work that MDA is doing to raise money for research, and for kids and families affected by neuromuscular diseases. It also recognizes the organizations that are helping to raise money - the firefighters have been partnering with MDA for years to help fundraise. The night was hosted by two of WTAE's newscasters, Janelle Hall and Andrew Stockey, who were fantastic. I even got to say hi to my pediatric neurologist, who I haven't seen in a few years! It was a really fun night, and I was so happy to be able to support such an amazing cause.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Friday Favorites

What a week! This was a very exciting one for me - my first live, on-air interview (more on that below), plus an appearance as Ms. Wheelchair USA at the gala for the local chapter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. When we were young, my sister and I were actually on the local MDA telethon a few times, and were Junior Goodwill Ambassadors for a year, so it was nice to be reconnected with the organization!
Quick update on the All-In Silent Disco on March 29th as part of the Inclusive Innovation Summit - the Facebook event page is live here. It's free, going to be so much fun, and I hope that you can join us!

On to the weekly favorites!

ONE - My Interview on 90.5 WESA
The team at 90.5 WESA reached out to me after reading my Public Source article and told me they were interested in having me on the show. This was so cool and I was so excited! I love spreading the message about my advocacy, and the experience of my first-ever live interview was just really amazing.

TWO - 100 Best Podcasts
I go through phases with podcasts... I'll be really into them for a while, and then I'll need a break. But I'm always looking for new ones. I've loved a few on this list (Gilmore Guys, S-Town, the first season of Serial), and am looking forward to trying a few more.

THREE - Stranger Things Season 3 Trailer
I am SO excited for this show to come back! The trailer looks great and I can't wait - July can't come soon enough.

FOUR - New Airpods
These are already on their way to me and will be here sometime next week! I love my Airpods, but have been having some sound quality issues on phone calls (and I'm out of warranty). I have been waiting it out, not wanting to buy a replacement pair until the newest version arrived. I love wireless charging (it's hard for me to plug and unplug the wire for charging) and am looking forward to a longer talk time between charges too!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Social Media Time Outs

Last week, I (along with many, many others) was forced to take a bit of a time-out from Facebook and Instagram because they were down for about a day. I know there were tons of jokes going around about how much people were able to get done without the distractions of social media, and honestly, part of it is true! It's so easy to get sucked into these apps, and spend way more time that you meant to just scrolling and scrolling.
On the whole, I think social media is more of a positive thing than a negative one. I wrote a post about it before (here) - I think social media offers the chance to build and connect with a really amazing community. Especially for people with disabilities, whose voices might not be as heard or welcomed otherwise - social media can be a real democratizer. I've connected with some amazing people, and I've been connected with people - all of whom I would never have "met" if not for social media.

But that's not to say that I don't see the downsides of social media, too. It can fuel the comparison game - when you're mindlessly scrolling and all you see is happy faces and pretty handbags and stylish outfits, it's hard to not compare yourself. That can get unhealthy really quickly! And even though we know that people only post the good things - and we know this because we do it ourselves - it's really easy to lose track of that.

So I think the key to social media, as with all things in life, really, is just balance. Balance that allows us to keep up with our online community, but keeps us from constantly comparing ourselves to everyone in that community. But I know... easier said than done. It's hard to force ourselves to take time off from social media when it can seem like there are new posts every few seconds, and we always feel like we're missing out on something. Finding balance on social media is no easier than finding balance in "real life" - balance is always hard.

All of this to say - may the forced time out from social media last week wasn't such a bad thing!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Lipstick Loves

I've always loved makeup - believe me, there are lots of pictures of me in middle school with bright blue eye shadow to prove this. But up until now, I've never really been a lipstick person. When I was testing out makeup in middle and high school, I definitely wore lots of Wet'n'Wild lip gloss and Bonnie Bell Lip Smackers, but even then didn't really reach for real lipsticks. Maybe they felt too grown up to me? I'm not quite sure why, but they just never were my thing.
Recently, though, I've come to appreciate the polish that a coat of lipstick can add to an outfit. Lip gloss is easy and fun, but it doesn't quite make me feel confident the way that lipstick does. I think it's also because I've been taking more pictures now that I ever had before in my life, and I realize how much a simple coat of lipstick can change how a picture looks!

Because I have a Sephora addiction, and am signed up for their two-day Flash shipping, I've started to build up my lipstick collection. Here are a few of my favorites.

Bite Beauty in Chai
This is my go-to daily lipstick. It's a great berry color, but it's not too dark - perfect for a daytime look. It wears really well - it's not necessarily long-wearing, but it wears off in a natural way so you don't get patches on your lips.

Pat McGrath Labs in Obsessed!
This is a very bright orange-red, which is my favorite type of red to wear. I'm usually more of a berry person than a red lip person, but I do love how bright and vibrant this is. This is very, very matte - there's no sheen at all, but it does still go on smoothly.

Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey
This is a classic - I actually bought my first tube of this color in college! As you might be able to tell by the name, this one is kind of a cross between a lipstick and a lip balm. It's subtle and natural, and looks good with anything and on anyone.

Bite Beauty in Virgo
I love this color for a nighttime look - it's definitely a more dramatic statement lip. Unfortunately, this was a limited-edition color, but Tannin (also by Bite), is incredibly similar.

Pat McGrath Labs in Full Panic 
This is one of the only pink lipsticks that I own, and I love how bright it is. I'm not a pale-pink person - I think it just looks weird on me - but this is the perfect, almost fuchsia pink. Like the other Pat McGrath Lipstick, it's almost very matte, but doesn't feel drying.

Click through the widget below to see all of my picks!

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Monday, March 18, 2019

On Hearing No

I love being able to share my successes and accomplishments and exciting news here with you - it's so amazing to know that you all are following along and cheering me on. I honestly look forward to sharing exciting things, because I always feel like you are all genuinely happy for me.
But sometimes, I worry that I do a bit of a disservice sharing the happy things, because it makes it sound like my news is all exciting news, all the time. And while I've had my share of fun things to share this year, it's far from the case that my life is always rainbows and sunshine.

It's been amazing to build my platform and expand my reach over the last year or so... but it hasn't always been people reaching out to me and offering to help. Sometimes it has been, and I am so incredibly grateful for those people and those opportunities. But other times, it's been me reaching out to people and basically selling myself - convincing them that I have a story worth listening to, or that I have something important and valuable to share.

Inevitably, people say no (probably more than you would imagine). And while logically I know that it can't always be a yes... that doesn't mean it necessarily makes it any easier to hear. Especially if it's an opportunity I'm really passionate about and can see real potential in - the rejection stings no matter how gently they deliver it. But if I didn't try - if I always waited for people to come to me, so that I would never have to worry about hearing no - I'd also miss out on a lot of opportunities.

While I said hearing no doesn't necessarily get easier, I do think that the more you hear it, the less it affects you personally each time. I've always been an incredibly Type A person - a competitive overachiever. (This will shock exactly no one who knows me in real life.) I like to succeed, and sometimes hearing no can sound like you're being called a failure. No one wants that!

So now, it's not that I'm not disappointed, when I hear a no, but I have learned not to take it as a personal failing. I've come to accept that there's a risk of disappointment that comes with reaching outside of my comfort zone. And there are so many moving parts, so many different reasons why the answer might be no - the timing isn't right, the opportunity isn't quite the right fit... or maybe there just isn't a good reason, and the answer is no anyway.

It's so cliche, but the important part really is what happens next - what comes after the no. I think the best thing to do is to fight back against the no. Sure, allow yourself to be disappointed, but don't let it hold you back. Don't let it affect your confidence or your passion, because if you stop believing in yourself, you will hear no more and more - it's a vicious cycle.

Everyone hears no, even if you only hear about the times they heard yes. But don't let it drag you down. Make sure you remember that there will be more, maybe even better, opportunities in the future, if you just keep going.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Friday Favorites

I have been looking forward to this particular Friday for a while because Pitt gives us the day off for "spring holiday." I am so excited for sleeping in... and then starting to work on my homework and other things that I haven't had time to get to.

I went to dinner with a friend last night at Spork, and was SO impressed - it's definitely jumped to the top 10 of my Pittsburgh favorite restaurants list. If you decide to try it, I highly recommend the crab souffle - it was delicious!

This week's favorites...

ONE - Best Fake Songs
I would not be able to pick a favorite between the songs on this list. I got so excited reading the titles - there were so many songs that I loved! I actually own a lot of soundtrack CDs, and I have a lot of the songs on this list. My friends and I were obsessed with Zenon - I could probably still sing every lyrics to Supernova Girl.

TWO - Subminimum Wage
This is an issue that I don't think many people know about at all - people with disabilities can actually be paid well below minimum wage. It's a policy that is incredibly outdated, but because it's so little-known, nothing ever changes. Hopefully, this lawsuit (among others) helps to educate about this practice, and helps stop it from continuing, too.

THREE - Lilly Singh on Late Night
I love Lilly Singh's channel on YouTube, and I'm so excited to hear that she's getting a late-night TV show! She'll be the only female late-night network show host, which is a huge deal! I can't wait to watch.

FOUR - Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard
They are just hilarious together, and this video really made me laugh. I love how into it and competitive they get!

FIVE - One Day at a Time
I just finished binging this show a few weeks ago, and I really really hope it's not cancelled for good. It was the perfect mix of funny and heartfelt, and tackled some deep issues without being too "after school special." Fingers are crossed that Lin-Manuel Miranda can use his powers for good and find another home for it somewhere!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

In the Bright Mood

I am having major spring shopping fever. The one good thing about Daylight Savings Time is the extra hour of daylight - that, coupled with the warmer weather we've been having, has made me want to buy all the things for spring.

This is an itch I get every year around this time, if I'm honest. I think it's just that winter starts to feel really long, I start to feel really bored, and doing a little bit of shopping is a harmless way to scratch the itch! I'm definitely being careful and limiting it so that it doesn't get out of control - I don't want shopping to be the ONLY thing that makes me happy. But sometimes, one or two small packages showing up at your door can give you the little jolt of excitement that you need to push through. I think that there are definitely more unhealthy coping mechanisms that a small shopping spree, so I'll go with it.
Top Row: One / Two / Three
Bottom Row: Four / Five / Six
I have a habit of wearing a lot of black and dark colors, especially when I get into a rut. But now, all the bright colors are calling my name! I haven't been able to stop myself from picking up a few brightly colored dresses so that I'm prepared when spring does finally arrive - and I've got a few more on my wish list.

I'm so glad that there are so many options for jewel tones right now. Royal blue is a long-time favorite, but I also love the mustard yellows and teals and darker pinks. I'm not a huge neon color fan, but these darker versions of the bright colors are just my thing.

Check out my picks in the widget below and let me know which is your favorite!

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