Wednesday, July 18, 2018

My Favorite Acne Spot Treatment

I won't lie - I really hate when I have acne. I know it's (mostly) out of my control, and it's superficial, but it still bothers me! I think, more than the break out itself, I hate the unpredictability of it - not knowing when a zit is going to crop up, or how long it's going to take to go away. I also hate that no matter how careful I am about my skin, I can't avoid breaking out completely.

Which is why I got nervous when I started to break out before pageant week - I'll have enough to worry about while I'm there; I don't really want to be stressing over my face while I'm there. No matter how much make-up I put on to try to cover up a break out, it still always feels like it's all anybody is looking at. Obviously, rationally, I know that's not true - but that doesn't stop me from feeling like it.

I've shared my skincare routine before (here, here, and here) - I am pretty careful about my skin and taking care of it! But when I get a breakout, I turn to this potent 9% BHA solution from Paula's Choice. It's 9% salicylic acid, so it's strong and targeted - when I put this on a break out at night, it's noticeably smaller and less irritated in the morning. It still takes a few days to get rid of it completely, but adding it to my normal routine definitely speeds the process along. A little bit goes a very, very long way, so make sure to use sparingly!

(This post isn't sponsored, but uses affiliate links - I may earn a small commission from any purchases you make.)

Monday, July 16, 2018

Amazon Prime Deal Day 2018

Greetings from Ohio! I'm out of town for Ms. Wheelchair PA USA this week, so I'm not sure how much I'll be around on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook, but I'll have posts here like usual! I'm sure I'll have some time throughout the week to post updates on social media, and then of course, I'll be sharing all about my trip here once I'm back.

Like almost everyone else, I have an Amazon Prime addiction. I love being able to order things and then have them arrive 2 days later - for a procrastinator like me, that's ideal! Today is Amazon Prime Deal Day, when Amazon shares a whole bunch of amazing deals. I thought this would be the perfect time to share some of my favorite Prime products.
AmazonBasics Microfiber Sheet Set
I have tried more expensive sheets, and honestly, these feel just as nice. They're soft and comfortable, and obviously, a great price!

Laptop Case
I think it's genius that this case has pockets for cords built into the case, and the case itself is really nice and protective.

Fire HD Tablet
I'm actually an iPad Mini user, but my sister just bought this Fire HD 8 Tablet and loves it. It's lightweight, and you can read, watch TV/movies on it, and surf the Internet, too.

iPhone Charging Cable
Nothing crazy here - just a basic charging cable for an iPhone. Mine always break and get ruined so quickly, so I don't need anything crazy.

Dog Shampoo and Conditioner
I know... no dog needs CHI shampoo and conditioner. But they leave Lily silky soft, and they smell soooo good!

Echo Device
I actually have a slightly different one, but this is too great of a deal to pass up. I use my Echo every single day, and I love it!

(This post uses affiliate links; I may earn a small commission from any purchases you make.)

Friday, July 13, 2018

Friday Favorites

I can't believe that I leave this weekend for the Ms. Wheelchair USA pageant - this week has really flown! I am so grateful for all of your support through this process, and I'm so excited to share more with you once I'm back home.
This wasn't planned, but all of the links I have to share with you this week are almost all  disability/accessibility related in one way or another. I think of it as my subconscious helping me to prepare for the pageant.

  • The comic with cerebral palsy
    I hadn't heard of the comic Maysoon Zayid before I came across this article, but I'm looking forward to listening to more of her sets. This interview with her was amazing to read. She talks about how she ended up in comedy because Hollywood "rejected" her - as a woman with a disability, there were no roles for her. She also talks about how it was a struggle to convince people it was okay to laugh at disability.
  • NPR takes on the straw bans
    I've been dipping my toe in engaging on social media about the straw bans, and trying to explain why people with disabilities NEED plastic straws. It's been frustrating, to say the least. I'm really glad to see the issue getting national attention on NPR, and I think the article does a really great job at laying out the arguments that people with disabilities are making, and captures our frustration at not being heard.
  • Aerie's inclusive ad campaign
    American Eagle is actually headquartered here in Pittsburgh, so I love seeing good things about them in the news. I've heard about their Aerie Real campaign before - they promise no airbrushing, to show real people modeling their clothes. This time, they also featured people with disabilities or chronic illnesses as well! The interview notes that many people pointed out this was the first time they'd seen someone who looked like them represented, and I completely agree.
  • ASOS jumpsuit designed by a woman who uses a wheelchair
    I'm not a jumpsuit-wearer - they remind me too much of the Juicy Couture jumpsuits that were popular when I was in middle school/high school - but I am still so happy about this. After having to leave a music festival early when it started to rain, a woman who uses a wheelchair reached out to ASOS about designing something specifically with wheelchair users in mind. The final result may not be my style, but is definitely music festival friendly, and makes me hopeful about more collaboration in the future.
  • The Power of Positivity
    I have talked about how important I think good friendships are before, and this article just confirms my thoughts on their importance! It talks about how the people who we surround ourselves with shape us and our attitudes - so if you surround yourself with positive people, you will in turn become more positive yourself. Having people around you who care about you and support you is so important!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

#Inclusive by Abby and Kristen

One of the best parts of blogging and being on social media is the connections I've made to others. It's been great to connect with other people with disabilities (and in this case, other people with SMA), who are interested in the same things that I am. I'm really excited for you to read about what Abby and Kristen are working on, and I hope that you'll support their #Inclusive campaign and their goal of starting an inclusive fashion line!
The idea for creating an inclusive and adaptive clothing line sprouted from a shopping trip with my best friend/co-founder Kristen.  I had just graduated college and needed interview clothes. I was struggling to find dress pants that looked fashionable, fit nice, and were comfortable sitting in my wheelchair. It was Kristen who actually brought it to my attention that there were no brands really making or marketing clothes for people who used wheelchairs. We realized after that shopping trip that we needed to do something to fix this. This is where the idea of an inclusive clothing line came about.

We are creating a brand that is truly inclusive and starting with a focus on jeans for individuals who use wheelchairs.  These jeans will be different from the normal denim because we are thinking about a seated body when creating these them. From the cut, fit, and materials we are utilizing to develop our products - these are just a few of the adaptations making to create a jean that fits and feels comfortable for people who use wheelchairs. We hope to create not only the best fitting, most stylish jeans you own - but also a community that accepts and allows individuals to connect and engage to the fullest 
We have been in the research and product development stage for about a year now - with most of that time being research. There are many challenges that we are confronted by as we build an emerging brand in a space and industry that has not been successfully scaled before. But those challenges are also what give us drive and determination we couldn’t get anywhere else 
Our first project is a t-shirt campaign that focuses on inclusion, with a hope to spark conversations about what being inclusive means and how to join the movement. We were really excited to launch t-shirts, tanks tops, jerseys, and sweatshirts with our Inclusive logo last month. You can view and buy them here, but only through Saturday! We want the world to be an inclusive place for people of all abilities, and this campaign goes directly towards making that dream a reality! We are enrolled in Factory45, a sustainable fashion accelerator program that takes us from idea to product development to launch. This also means that we have access to suppliers and manufacturers who are based in the US, which is very important to us growing up in the textile communities of Valdese and Hickory, NC! Our #inclusive campaign is providing the resources for us to be able to participate in this program.

We have been blown away by the support we’ve seen so far! We are excited for what the future holds for our first adaptive denim line and Inclusive Brand. To get the latest updates, visit our Instagram page here.  
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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

What I've Been Reading

I wasn't joking when I said that I spent a lot of time in the summer reading! It really is one of my favorite things to do outside, and I spent a lot of my down time on vacation reading. I'm not someone who really likes to just sit outside doing nothing, so reading is the perfect outdoor activity for me.
I say this every time I post something like this, but I mean it - tell me what you've been reading lately! I am always on the lookout for something new.

Here's what I've been reading...

  • When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren WeisbergerThe Devil Wears Prada is one of my all-time favorite movies, and I love the book, too. So of course, when I heard that the author had written a follow-up about Emily's life, I knew I had to read it. It's a fun, light read, and it was interesting to hear Emily's story rather than Andie's - although it was hard to not hear the story told in a British accent in my mind!
  • Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur JaswalThe title makes this novel seem a lot more "erotic" than it really is! It's actually a really good look at different cultures and different takes on relationships. But it also really underscores the similarities across generations and across cultures, and how storytelling can bring people together and create a sense of belonging.
  • The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liz ConstantineThis is a psychological thriller, of sorts - it shoes you how relationships can look very different from the outside than they do to the people actually in the relationships. It's a dark look at relationships, and how people can seem happy and like they have everything, but may actually feel trapped and miserable.
  • Something in the Water by Catherine SteadmanThis book was another pick of Reese Witherspoon's book club, which hasn't disappointed yet! This is another psychological thriller, about deception and lies and how people aren't always who they think you are. It's not a positive, uplifting read, but it is a captivating one.
  • The Hopefuls by Jennifer CloseThis novel is a close look at relationships in DC, and how political relationships there can take precedence over personal ones. I love DC, and think the power dynamics of the city are fascinating, so I really enjoyed reading it. But this is a good read even for people who aren't into politics at all - it's much more about relationships than politics!

Monday, July 9, 2018

Ms. Wheelchair USA: Pageant Preparation

I cannot believe that a week from today I'll be in Ohio for pageant week! Back in April, this week seemed so far away, but as usual, it came quickly and I still have a few things left to do before I pack up my crown to take on Nationals.

I love that the Ms. Wheelchair USA pageant puts a spotlight on your platform, and I've had a great time making my public appearances so far (read about my time at the CTAA Expo here and the Brentwood Fourth of July parade here). I'm excited to keep spreading the word about increasing inclusion for people with disabilities, because it's something I'm so passionate about, and I really love connecting with others who feel the same way! So I've been practicing and honing my platform speech, and am really looking forward to sharing my message at the pageant.

There's lots of other behind the scenes things going on, too! Little welcome gifts for the other pageant contestants, reading (and re-reading!) the schedule, working on my "About Me" display, and packing! This is going to be quite the busy week.
While the pageant is clearly about more than the clothing, I'm won't lie - I'm really excited about my evening gown, and I wanted to share a sneak peek with you here. I don't think I'll have many occasions in my life to go all out like this (although, fingers crossed there are more - I love dressing up!), so I decided to just go for it. I got some accessory advice from Stacy London on Twitter, and I love how everything came together.

Almost as soon as I found out that I'd made it to Nationals, I started looking for my evening gown. It's hard for me to find things that fit, and I knew I'd need the dress to be altered, so I wanted to make sure I found something in plenty of time. I checked Nordstrom and Bloomingdales first, but as usual, everything I liked was way out of my price range. But then I remembered The RealReal - the online designer consignment store. That's where I found my perfect dress. I love the color and how sparkly it is! I also got it altered to change the back from the zipper it had to a lace-up corset-style back, because that's so much easier for me to change into than a zipper - which was really important to me, because I'll be changing into the dress in the middle of the pageant.

Shoes were the next thing I was worried about, because I wear a size 2 - they're not easy to find! Kids shoes are an option usually, but I wanted something that didn't look too young, and I was worried that I wouldn't be able to find what I was looking for in the kids section. So I turned to Shoes of Prey - they offer so many sizes, and let you customize the shoes so you can find exactly what you're looking for. So I was able to get the perfect pair of black sequin flats, that don't look young but also fit!

And then, there's the jewelry. Stacy London was kind enough to offer me some advice on Twitter, and I found the perfect vintage cocktail ring on Etsy, and these sparkly, dangly BaubleBar earrings on Shopbop.

I'm so excited to wear everything during the pageant and show you the finished product!

(This post contains affiliate links; any purchases you make may earn me a small commission.)

Friday, July 6, 2018

Friday Favorites

As strange as it was to have the Fourth of July holiday fall in the middle of the week, it definitely made the second half of the week go very quickly!
If you didn't catch it on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, I got to spend my Fourth walking in the Brentwood Fourth of July parade as Ms. Wheelchair PA USA. I used to go to this parade every year as a kid, so it was really exciting to be able to actually be in it! It was a crazy hot day, but really fun nonetheless.

 I wasn't online as much as usual this week because of the holiday, so today's post is shorter than usual.

  • The Handmaid's TaleI don't have a link to this one, because it's a Hulu series, but if you haven't been watching it, you should start ASAP! Season 2 is currently airing, so you don't have too much to catch up on. It's a dark show, based on the Margaret Atwood novel with the same title. It was written years ago, but still feels relevant - it can be rough to watch, but I really think it's worth it.
  • Exfoliating for the Best SkinI loved this article in The New York Times about exfoliation, because using a chemical exfoliant has made such a difference in my skin. My favorite is this Paula's Choice one, but the article does a great job about talking about the different types.
  • Jacqueline Kennedy's Notes Found
    My favorite parts of history are the personal touches - the everyday things that come to have historical significance after the fact. Jackie Kennedy's packing notes for her trip capture all of that - they mean so much now, but surely she never would have imagined they'd mean anything to anyone at all as she was writing them. This article shows the notes, but also talks about ownership of historical documents and who is allowed to see them.
 (This post contains affiliate links; I may earn a small commission from any purchases you make.)