Tuesday, November 28, 2017

My Thanksgiving

I had lots of plans for my Thanksgiving and for posts on this blog (I really wanted to do a Black Friday post!) but sometimes, things don't go exactly as planned.
I wrote about having to go to the ER for a feeding tube issue in this post - because of that, I decided to schedule an appointment to get it replaced. I scheduled for the Monday of Thanksgiving week, so that it would be done before the holiday, and I didn't have class, so I could take the day off of work guilt-free. It was replaced with no issue (other than a bit of a wait at the hospital) and I went home and back to work the next day.

But by Wednesday, it was becoming clear to me that maybe there was some sort of issue. My skin around the feeding tube "button" was really red and irritated, and it seemed like the button was really digging into my skin. I wasn't sure what this meant, so I did some quick Googling and nothing I read seemed too alarming. I decided to give it a few more days and see if it calmed down.

It didn't calm down, though, and by Thanksgiving evening I knew I'd have to go in to have it looked at the next day. It was certainly not the most enjoyable Thanksgiving for me - it's hard to stuff yourself with mashed potatoes when the skin on your stomach is irritated!

Luckily, they were able to squeeze me in on Wednesday morning - not surprisingly, things weren't too crowded at Interventional Radiology on the day after Thanksgiving! They took some water out of the balloon that holds the feeding tube "button" in place, and that seems to have solved the issue. It was a quick fix, but it did put a bit of a crimp in my plans for the weekend.
That's not to say, though, that I didn't fit anything in! I managed to do a little bit of Black Friday shopping (mostly online - I can't deal with the crowds), treated myself to a blowout at Drybar (where I also picked up their candle) and made time to see family and friends who were in from out of town. So, it wasn't a completely ruined holiday weekend!

I hope that you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving - let me know in the comments what you did to celebrate!

(This post uses affiliate links - I may earn a small commission for any clicks or purchases you make.)

Monday, November 27, 2017

Gift Guide

Since today is Cyber Monday, it seemed like the perfect time to share my gift guide! These are all things that are on my personal wish list this year.
Nespresso Creatista Pro
I've talked before about my love of my Nespresso - this is the newest model, and really lets you customize your drink. It has an automatic frothing wand, so you don't need to be a professional barista to get a delicious foamy cappuccino, and still uses Nespresso pods!

Sapphire Necklace
Sapphire is my birthstone, so I love collecting sapphire pieces of jewelry! I have a sapphire ring that I wear every single day, and this necklace would go with it perfectly.

Cashmere Sweater
There's nothing better on a chilly winter day than a warm, cozy cashmere sweater. These v-necks from Uniqlo are my favorite - very reasonably priced, and they hold up well, too! There's a great variety of colors to pick from.

Moleskine Journal
I can never have enough journals - I love picking up new ones whenever I see a cute one. And of course, I can never say no to anything from TeeRico, Lin-Manuel Miranda's official online store!

Pier One Hayworth Lingerie Chest
I've been slowly replacing all my bedroom furniture with pieces from Pier One's Hayworth collection over the last few years. This piece is next on my list!

Apple Watch Series 3
I've had my eye on an Apple Watch for a while now, but I've been waiting for the newest series to come out. Obviously, I'm not in need of the fitness tracking aspects, but I like the freedom it gives you from your phone!

Drybar Gift Card
My love of Drybar and blowouts is well-documented. Who am I to pass up free blowouts??

Faux Fur Throw
I love snuggling under a soft, warm blanket with a sleepy puppy by my side. This blanket would do the trick, and would look great with my silver furniture, too!

What's on your wish list this year? Let me know in the comments!

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

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

 I hope that your holiday is filled with family, friends, and feasting!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

What I'm Thankful For

Thanksgiving, to me, has always meant family.  My dad comes from a family of six, so Thanksgiving has always meant getting together with aunts, uncles, and cousins, and eating around some (very packed) tables - there are more than 20 of us total! Over the years, to accommodate everyone's schedules, we've started having Thanksgiving "dinner" at noon, to make sure that we could still all get together before people have to head to their next holiday gathering. It may sound cheesy, but I'm thankful for this time to get together and catch up with family members!

I'm also reminded at Thanksgiving how grateful I am for my friends. The holidays are always the perfect time to catch up with friends who are home visiting their own families. I've been lucky enough to stay close with friends I've known since before high school, and now that some of them have moved away, I love being able to see them while they're home for Thanksgiving.

And finally, I'm so thankful for all of you! I started this blog a little less than six months ago now, and the kind words from you all have really warmed my heart.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Wrapped in Warmth

I talked yesterday about how winter can be hard for me, and how part of that is having to deal with taking my jacket on and off all the time. It's hard to have someone else try to help you with your jacket, especially when you're out with friends, or already bundled up with multiple layers of clothing.
one // two // three // four // five

This is why I was really happy when wraps and capes started coming back into fashion. This is a style I'm going to wear long after the trend dies, just because of how much easier it is for me! Even though I'm still not able to put it on myself, it's so much easier for someone else to put a cape on me than something with sleeves. I can also keep it on as part of my outfit, and it reaches over my hands to keep them warm while I'm driving my chair - it's win-win for me!

I found some of my favorite capes in the picture above - I tend to go for plaid, and neutral colors that match with lots of outfits. You can find them at the links above, or click the pictures below in the widget!

(This post uses affiliate links, and I may earn a small commission on any clicks/purchases you make.)

Monday, November 20, 2017

Winter in a Wheelchair

I had a really fun weekend - I went to Casellula, a wine and cheese bar in the North Side that also shares a space with a bookstore and event space - and also saw The Color Purple at The Benedum, which was an incredible show!
This weekend was also Light Up Night, which to me, is the official start of winter here in Pittsburgh. Winter is not my favorite time of year. I know that a lot of people don't like winter - it's cold, it's dark, and it snows! But when you're in a wheelchair, winter is so much more difficult.

The first thing about winter is the clothes. Since I need help getting dressed, more (and heavier) layers means more time in the morning getting dressed - and I talked here about how my mornings are already pretty time-consuming! I also can't put my jacket on and off by myself, so colder weather means that I'm stuck inside during the day. And if I'm going somewhere with someone who can help me with my jacket, I have to choose my coat carefully - anything too think or too puffy makes it really hard for me to move. This coat at Uniqlo (I wear an out-of-stock kids version, but the women's version is still for sale) - has been a lifesaver; it's really lightweight but also really warm! It's also harder to drive my wheelchair with gloves or mittens on (and again, hard for me to put them on and take them off by myself), so I end up with some really cold fingers for the few minutes that I am outside.

The snow and ice are also huge problems for the wheelchair. When it snows, the streets get cleared, but the sidewalks may or may not. And if they do... the snow plowed from the streets and sidewalks usually ends up piled right at the curb cuts, high enough that my chair can't drive through. So even if the temperatures weren't keeping me inside, the piled-up snow traps me, too. And if my wheel hits a chunk of ice on the sidewalk and slides, it could be really dangerous! So I have to plan my sidewalk routes out very carefully, scouting ahead to make sure that the path is clear. Plus, when the snow is all piled up on the side of the street next to the sidewalks, it can be really hard (and sometimes actually impossible) to park on the street, because the ramp that comes out from under our accessible minivan can't clear the pile of snow.

So, if you see less pictures of me outside, or less exciting activities, you'll know why! I definitely get cabin fever if I am inside for too long, so hopefully things won't get too boring around here.

(This post uses affiliate links - I may earn a small commission for any clicks/purchases you make.)

Friday, November 17, 2017

Currently Reading

I have a very exciting article to share this week!

A few weeks ago, someone from my school district reached out to me about being interviewed as a featured alumni in the district newsletter. I was really honored to be asked, and had a great time reminiscing about my time in high school, and about what I've been doing since my high school graduation. I loved being able to share my motivation for starting this blog, too.

You can read the article here. I'd love to hear about what your life has been like since your high school graduation!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thanksgiving Outfit Ideas

Thanksgiving is a holiday that is so loved because it combines two of everyone's favorite things - loved ones, and food! It's great to be able to gather and catch up with friends and family that we may not have seen lately, while sharing a delicious meal. It's also a holiday that everyone celebrates differently - some people have relaxed, buffet-style meals earlier in the day, and other people have more formal affairs.

My dad comes from a family of 6, so I have lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins to celebrate Thanksgiving with. Because everyone has multiple meals to get to, our Thanksgiving "dinner" is actually at noon. It tends to be more casual, so I definitely go for comfort over style when I'm picking my Thanksgiving outfit. It's usually cold here by the end of November, so I go for something cozy and loose, so that I'm not uncomfortable after I have my favorite stuffing and mashed potatoes!

I know not everyone celebrates as casually as I do, though, so I'm sharing my favorite styles for every type of Turkey Day celebration.
1: A comfy cowl neck tunic
Leggings and a tunic is the ultimate comfort outfit! I love that this slouchy tunic comes in some great colors and still looks cute while letting you feel relaxed.

2: This ruffled burgundy dress and 3: this cozy grey turtleneck option
Sweaterdresses are actually my go-to for Thanksgiving. They look a little more put-together, and bonus - there's no waistband, so it's the perfect choice if you indulge a little too much.

4: This velvet flowy dress
If you're looking for something dressier, I love this velvet dress. It's still loose and comfortable, but the texture and ruffles dress it up a bit more. If it's chillier, you can easily throw a cardigan over this.

You can also find the items in the widget below!

(This post uses affiliate links, and I earn a small commission from any clicks/purchases you make.)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Health Activist Update

I cannot believe how quickly fall has flown! We've gone from leaves turning bright colors to frigid temperatures, and Thanksgiving is only about a week away. My Health Activist Fellowship with the Jewish Healthcare Foundation is also coming to a close, so I wanted to give you all an update on what I've been working on.

When I first talked about my Fellowship here, I wasn't really sure what it would be like, or what I'd choose to work on. The Fellowship has been amazing - the Jewish Healthcare Foundation has helped connect us with mentors for our specific projects, and has also brought in influential speakers who are experienced in many different aspects of activism.

We were advised to think big, but start small. It's great to have a big-picture idea of what you what your journey as an activist to look like, but you should start with a small, achievable step to get things started. My big-picture idea is to make the world more accessible to people with disabilities of any type. For my first step, though, I knew I needed to start smaller. I want to focus on Pittsburgh - the city I live in and love! And as a 28-year-old, I want to have a thriving social life, and be able to go out to a local boutique, bar, or restaurant without any concerns (other than my bank balance!). So I am focusing my project on making these buildings more accessible, for both old and new construction.

I'm calling my project Accessible YOUniverse. I'd love for you to hear more about my project, and where I envision it going in the future! The Fellowship is holding a Finale, open to the public, on November 30 from 5:30 - 8 PM at the August Wilson Center downtown. If you're free and in the area, stop by and hear about my project and the other great projects the rest of the Fellows have been working hard on! You can RSVP here, and e-mail me here or leave a comment with any questions.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Winter Closet Clean-Out

I try to go through all of my clothes twice a year - in winter and spring, when I'm changing from one season of clothes to another. Full disclosure - this does not always happen. This year, however, I had some extra motivation from Stacy London's talk still fresh in my mind, so I wanted to do it.

I tried to be really ruthless about going through my closet this time. I went through every single thing individually, and really thought about if I had worn it at all recently, and if I actually felt good the last time I had worn it! It's hard to get rid of things that you know you spent money on and rarely (if ever) wore, but it's pointless to leave it in your closet just sitting there. There's nothing worse than rushing to get ready for work, pulling out a shirt you can't remember why you haven't worn recently, only to be uncomfortable all day.
Obviously I still need to work on my hanger game!

So with that, here are my tips for make a closet clean-out easier and more productive!

- Go section by section in your closet
It's really easy to get overwhelmed and want to quit when you have your whole closet ahead of you. So, pick an article of clothing and start with that. Go through all of your skirts, then stop and take a break before you move on to the next category. It'll keep you from getting frustrated, and keep you from making quick decisions just to get the whole process over with!

-Think about the last time you wore each item
Clothes can be really cute, but if you never wear them, they have absolutely no value to you. I had a skirt that I really loved, but never felt like it went well with anything else I owned, so I never wore it. I finally got rid of it, because it wasn't doing me any good while it sat in my closet unworn.

-Don't keep something just because the tag is still on it
I know - you feel really guilty getting rid of something with the tag still on it, because it feels like a huge waste of money. But if it's more than a month or two old and the tag is still on, you're never going to wear it.

-Don't keep something that doesn't fit
If it's something that a tailor could easily make work for you, that's fine. But don't keep things that you're hoping might work for you some day in the future. It just takes up space for clothes that you could be wearing right now!

-Think about your lifestyle
It's perfectly fine to have "special occasion" clothes that you love, but can't wear every day. But if 90% of your closet is clothes that don't work with your lifestyle in one way or another, that's a problem! You're going to end up re-wearing the same few things that do work with your life. Stacy London called this "use value" - does the piece of clothing have any value in your life?

And don't forget - don't just throw away your clothes that are still in good shape! Donate them to Goodwill, or your local clothing charity of choice. Just because your clothes don't work for you anymore doesn't mean they won't work for anyone else.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Shopping the Sephora VIB Sale

Sephora doesn't have sales very often, so when they do, it's a big deal. From now until Wednesday, VIB Insiders at Sephora get 20% off their purchases, which is no small thing! So I'm sharing my favorite picks to buy during the sale.
1: Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Gel
I don't "do" my eyebrows every day, but if I do, I swear by this gel. It looks natural and is so easy to use!

2: ColourPop Eyeshadow Palette
I was so happy when ColourPop came to Sephora, and I love every single color in this palette. When there's a sale like this, I like to get something fun that I wouldn't buy otherwise, and I cannot wait to try out these colors.

3: Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush
This blush is just the right mix of shimmer and matte, and is so incredibly pigmented - I only have the use the tiniest bit. It also really lasts all day, and doesn't settle into my pores! I use the color Radiant Magenta (pictured) but all the shades are great.

4: Anastasia Beverly Hills Blush Kit
This was intriguing to me - I haven't used Anastasia blush before, but I trust their brow gel, so I trust them. The color selection is great!

5: Touche Eclat Radiant Perfecting Pen
I use this as an under eye highlighter/concealer, and it is the only one I will use! I tried a few drugstore dupes, and while they certainly weren't bad, there's just something about the texture and finish of the Touche Eclat that keeps pulling me back to it!

6: T3 Featherweight Luxe 2i
If you're looking for a good deal during the sale, this is what you should buy! This is the blow dryer that I use, and it's actually on sale right now for $50 off, which is amazing. It's definitely not cheap, but it's worth it - my hair is less frizzy and healthier when I use this dryer!

You can also find the products in the widget below - happy shopping!

(This post uses affiliate links, and I may gain a small commission for any clicks/purchases you make.)

Friday, November 10, 2017

Currently Listening, 11/10/2017

I feel like it's been a heavy week here on the blog - talking about my feeding tube and friendships - so I wanted to keep my Friday post light, short, and sweet!

In case you somehow missed it.... Taylor Swift's new album, reputation, came out today at midnight. I know Taylor can be a bit of a divisive figure, but I'm a big fan. I have always loved her music, and I think she seems like a nice, genuine person. I know the word "manipulative" gets used a lot to describe her, but I think it's an insulting way of saying she knows who she is, both on a personal level, and on a professional level as a "brand" - I think she's actually an incredibly smart businesswoman!

So, today, I'll be listening to reputation on repeat.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Importance of Quality Friendships

One of my friends recently went through a not-so-good time, and it was really heartwarming to me to see our friends rally to be there for her - both physically and emotionally there. I felt really grateful to have such a great group of friends, and it made me really think about my views on friendship.

I have been lucky enough to have a group of people, some of whom I've known since elementary school, that I consider some of my closest friends. We don't all necessarily live in the same city anymore, but we are there for each other without a doubt, in both the good times and the bad times.

I've also been lucky in that my friends don't treat me any differently just because I'm in a wheelchair. I was talking to one of my friends the other day about how I don't think that I was ever really bullied or teased as a kid about my wheelchair, and I think it's partially because I had such a great group of friends who accepted me so readily!

I am not someone who has a ton of acquaintances. I think I probably take friendships more seriously than most - I really expect a lot of my friends, but I'm willing to give a lot, too. I think that having a few quality friendships is so much more important than quantity of friends. I'd much rather have a small number of friends who I know I can go to and count on for anything and everything, rather than a larger group of people I'm friendly with and can make plans with, but can't necessarily count on.

Friendships like these - quality friendships - take real work. But the time and effort that you put it is more than worth it in having friends that you know you can count on no matter what.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Feeding Tube, Part 2: Dealing With Emergencies

Yesterday I talked about why I have a feeding tube, and how great it's been for my life.  However, in the interest of honesty, I wanted to write a follow-up post about the downsides to having a feeding tube - about what it's like when I have a feeding tube "emergency."

The human body is a crazy and fascinating thing. My feeding tube sits in a hole in my stomach, and is held in place by a little balloon that is inflated on the inside of my stomach. But balloons can break, and when it does, there's nothing left keeping the feeding tube from slipping right out. And the craziest part of all is that if the feeding tube comes all the way out, the little hole in my stomach can start closing back up in an hour! That would mean that I'd need another surgery to get a new feeding tube placed, which I definitely do not want.

The first time that my feeding tube balloon broke, I was in New York, seeing Hamilton and Oh, Hello On Broadway. I had just come back to my hotel room after meeting Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, so I was having a great night and feeling pretty fantastic. I was eating a burger and milkshake I had picked up from Shake Shack, so again - feeling great. As I was changing into my PJs, though, I realized that the bottom of my shirt was soaked (the balloon is filled with water/saline), and my feeding tube was sticking way out of my stomach.

I completely PANICKED. I pushed it back in really quickly, put a Kleenex over it, and put about 100 pieces of tape on it to keep it from coming out. I called the on-call physician at my gastroenterologist, who calmed me down a little bit by telling me that since it had been in for 3 years, the hole wouldn't close with the feeding tube still inside it, and told me that if it did come out somehow, I could just put it pack in and it would be ok. I was allowed to use it overnight still, but at a much slower rate than usual. That meant I got a lot less calories than usual, which made for a really rough drive home from New York to Pittsburgh. Luckily, the hospital was able to fit me in for an emergency replacement of my feeding tube the next morning, which was surprisingly quick and easy.

Then, over this past weekend, almost a year to the day from last time, I felt the same familiar rush of liquid and soaking of my shirt. I was happy to be home this time, at least, but I was no less panicked. After a few hours in the ER, I found out that the balloon wasn't completely broken, but had deflated a bit and wasn't holding the feeding tube tightly into my stomach. They were going to put in a new feeding tube anyway, to be safe, but the hospital didn't have any of my "size" of feeding tube. So instead, they refilled it, took an x-ray to make sure it was in the right place, and sent me on my way. While it was actually a relatively quick ER visit, it still basically ended up being my entire day.

Things like this, that happen with no warning and are completely out of my control, are the frustrating parts of my feeding tube. The positives absolutely outweigh the negatives, though, and I'll take a day spent at the ER over being too tired to live my own life anytime.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Why I have a Feeding Tube

A few years ago, I was going through a really rough time, health-wise. Because of my SMA, I've always weighed less than a normal person would - well under 100 pounds. But after graduating college and starting to work, I somehow gradually lost around 20 pounds. When you only weigh around 60 pounds to start with, 20 pounds is a lot. I wasn't trying to lose weight, and I honestly didn't even realize that it was happening.

Weight and metabolism are tricky for people with SMA. My body can go into fasting/starvation mode really quickly, and I don't have much of a fat reserve. So if I go too long without eating, my body will start to break down my own muscles to try to get the energy that it needs. So when I was down to weighing about 40 pounds, everyday life got really, really hard.

I basically couldn't eat enough to get enough energy to get through a normal day. I was burning so much energy just breathing that I couldn't get a good breath when I was sitting up - it would be hard for me to breathe, and my heart would start racing. I was exhausted all the time. I honestly didn't have much of a life at that point, and it was not fun. But it took a while to figure out that my weight was the problem - I don't get weighed often, so it was hard to pin down what the issue was.

Once we knew it was my weight loss that was the problem, I tried really hard to gain the weight back. I had so many chocolate flavored Ensures every single day, and ate as many of the high calorie foods covered in butter as I possibly could. I gained maybe 3 or 5 pounds back, but it wasn't nearly enough to get me back to a healthy weight.

The whole time I was trying to gain weight, I knew that if I couldn't, I'd have to get a feeding tube. I really, really wanted to avoid this. I hate going under anesthesia and having surgery, and I didn't love the idea of having a button sticking out of my stomach for the rest of my life. I was terrified, but I knew that I was out of options. So surgery was scheduled for early November, almost exactly four years ago to the day. This is a picture of myself that I took the night before surgery - the quality isn't great (I had no idea I'd ever share it!), and even though I'm wearing really baggy, loose clothes, you can still see how thin I am.
It's still crazy to me how quickly the feeding tube helped me. I was already feeling better in the first few days afterwards. I had energy again, and my heart didn't start racing if I sat up for too long. I was incredibly lucky in that I didn't have any side effects (like nausea) from the feeding tube, and my body adjusted really quickly.

Now, I use the feeding tube overnight, and eat "normally" during the day. Knowing that I can get in extra calories overnight takes away from the constant stress of trying to eat enough that I felt while I was trying to gain weight. It can be a little annoying sometimes - not all of my old clothes work with the feeding tube, and when I go to bed, I have to plan ahead and know what time I'm going to get up so I can do the math to get the right amount in overnight. But it honestly gave me my life back, and I am so grateful for that.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Stacy London at The Frick

I'm a huge fan of Stacy London - What Not to Wear is such a great show, and I also love following her Twitter account - so when I saw that she was coming to speak at The Frick, I bought my ticket as quickly as I possibly could. This turned out to be a great decision, because the event sold out in about 12 hours!
Top: here // Necklace: old, similar here
I've talked about The Frick here before - the last time I went, they had an Irving Penn photography exhibit, which I absolutely loved. Their new exhibit is called Undressed: A History of Fashion in Underwear, which looks at how style reflects and shapes our views of human bodies, and how this has changed over time. Stacy's talk was titled The Power of Personal Style, and focused on how knowing your body and taking control of your style can help improve your own body image.

Stacy talked a lot about the psychology behind style and body image, which was a really interesting perspective. She explained that we're always going to make judgements about other people - our brain makes an initial judgement in the first three seconds of seeing someone, and it's not something that we can control. She also brought up how much we internalize what we see, and how our brains can be held hostage by these images.

"What you wear is being aware" was my favorite quote of the night, and something I absolutely agree with. Stacy made it clear that we have the right to wear whatever we want, and it's never an invitation for any type of sexual harassment. But by being aware of our bodies, and our style -  that's going to help us to look and feel our best, and going to help us achieve what we want to in our lives.

She had a lot of other useful tips and tricks for personal style - she talked about the use value and joy that our clothes should bring us - but my favorite part of the evening was when diversity in fashion came up. Another woman in the audience asked a question about dressing for her body type, and Stacy talked about how she decided to work with the midwest store Meijer because they wanted to have a line of clothes were all sizes were available for all styles on the same rack, and not segregated into "regular sizes" and "plus sizes."
She went on to talk about how fashion really needs more diversity to reflect what the rest of the world looks like. She looked over to me and we had a great discussion about the lack of handicapped diversity in fashion. I talked about how hard it is for me to find clothing that fits me but doesn't make me look like a child. The fashion industry doesn't make clothes for "different" body types like mine. Stacy had some tips for me, and even complimented my necklace, which felt great - but what felt the best was knowing that she was aware of, and had thought about, the lack of handicapped representation in fashion.

 Stacy's talk about diversity in fashion fits in really well with my hope for this blog. I want to add to diversity here online! I do care about fashion and style, about how I look and about how I present myself. It makes me feel good about myself, and I do think it goes far in showing people that my wheelchair doesn't define me. But finding clothes that work for me isn't always easy, and lots of other parts of my life that seem like everyone else's aren't always easy, either. Stacy's discussion was a great reminder that while people are aware of this, more diverse voices adding to the discussion is needed.

Stacy was kind enough to stay after her talk to chat and take a picture with everyone who asked. She even let me gush to her about my love for Hamilton, since she knows and has worked with the Miranda family. She recommended a new series on Vox, called The Divided States of Women, which highlights underrepresented female voices, that I'm really looking forward to. It was such an amazing night, and I cannot thank Stacy enough for all of it!

I don't want to end this post without mentioning Undressed, the current exhibit at The Frick. We got to walk through the exhibit after the talk ended, and it was really interesting to see the history of underwear - how it started as something just as a necessity, and then started to change to shape and reflect society's ideas of bodies. The exhibit also showed how fashion has borrowed from and been inspired by shapes in undergarments over the years. If you're in the Pittsburgh area, definitely go check this out!

(This post uses affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission for clicks/purchases you make.)

Friday, November 3, 2017

Currently Reading, 11/3/2017

Happy Friday! I can't believe it's already November - October really flew by for me.

Today, I want to share this excellent New Yorker article I read a few weeks ago. I thought it was very well written and interesting, but was hesitant to share it at first because it talks about essential oils, which I know many, many people are a fan of right now.

I have no problem with essential oils in and of themselves - they smell great, can help people relax, and have no real side effects when used properly. But what makes me nervous is when people start to use essential oils in a medicinal way, based on the word of multi-level marketers who are literally being paid for every sale they make, and are incentivized to keep expanding their sales and sell more. And I get especially nervous when saleswomen, like Carla in the article, say "Rub it clockwise three times. That activates the electrical properties in the oil, and aligns your DNA." Or when customers are told that there is an essential oil that can cure cancer. That's when, from a public health and medical perspective, essential oils become dangerous.

I worry that people are going to start using essential oils to boost their immune system and skip their annual flu shot - and I talked here before about why the flu shot is so important! I have no problem with alternative medicine used in conjunction with Western medicine, but I do take issue with factually incorrect statements like those that say oils "align your DNA" or detoxify your body.

As someone in public health, I'm really glad that people are so invested in being healthy. But I hope that people don't get so invested in a wellness craze that they do it at the expense of their actual health.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Knights of Malta Investiture in Washington, DC

I mentioned in yesterday's post that I went to DC because one of my good friends invited me to an event. He was invited to join the Knights of Malta, and asked me to be his date for their Annual Dinner/gala that they held in the evening after the formal investiture (initiation) ceremony in the morning. Since I love DC, I was more than happy to join him and have an excuse to make the trip!
I didn't know anything at all about the Knights of Malta before my friend joined, so I'm going to explain a little bit what they are. The order actually started as a Catholic religious order that ran a hospital in Jerusalem (I enjoyed the public health connection!) back in the eleventh century. The US part of the organization originated in 1927 in New York City, but has now expanded nationwide. The general mission of the order is to care for the poor and the sick, and they do this many different ways, both domestically and internationally. Currently, there are over 3,000 dames and knights (what members of the order are called) in the US, and about 13,500 internationally. (If you’re interested, you can read more here.)
The investiture day was a fun, but long, day. It began with the actual investiture Mass itself, celebrated by Cardinal Wuerl, who actually used to be a bishop here in Pittsburgh!. Mass was followed by a luncheon, and then they gave us a few hours to get ready for the dinner in the evening! I, of course, had made an appointment at Drybar to get my hair blown out, so I hurried there, and only had about an hour or so by the time I got back to my hotel after my blow out, so I had to get ready pretty quickly.

Of course, picking out my dress for the dinner was very important. I ended up going with this Adriana Papell dress - I love anything beaded and sparkly! They also make a cocktail length version, and it comes in lots of other colors, too.
The dinner was so much fun - it was a really amazing night. It was held at the US Chambers of Commerce, which was an absolutely beautiful building. I didn't want to take any pictures during dinner, but I wish I had - the ceiling was wooden beams that were intricately carved with state names, and mottos, and emblems. Every single part of the evening was fantastic - from dinner, to dancing, to all of the people I met, who were so kind!

I'm really excited for and proud of my friend being invited to join the Order of Malta, and truly honored to have been asked to join him on such a wonderful day!

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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

My Trip to DC - Staying at The Mayflower Hotel

A few weeks ago, I took a long weekend trip to DC. A friend invited me to join him for an event in the city, and I decided to stay an extra day so that I had some time to enjoy and explore. I'll talk more about the event in tomorrow's post, but today, I want to recap the rest of my trip.
I stayed at The Mayflower Hotel, which is by far the most beautiful hotel that I've ever stayed in. It's in the heart of downtown DC, maybe a 10 minute walk from the White House. It opened in 1925, and has hosted inaugural balls, numerous Presidents, and many heads of state - the hotel actually had historic photographs and other memorabilia on display in the mezzanine level. We stayed in a suite, which was incredibly spacious, and I'm always impressed with hotels that offer accessible suites with roll-in showers - they're actually very difficult to find! Since my whole family made the trip to DC, there's just not enough room for me and my sister to move around if we don't stay in a suite.
I loved the decor of the room and the hotel - how cute are the fireplace and the globe?
The bathroom was so huge it was almost unbelievable - more than enough room for me and my sister to get ready at the same time! They also had a little light-up makeup mirror in addition to the huge mirrors on the wall! I always pack a small stand mirror when I travel, and it was great to not have to unpack it.
I was busy all day Saturday with events, but had time on Sunday to walk around. I didn't plan this, but I was delighted to find out that the National Geographic Museum was right behind our hotel. When I found out that the current exhibit was wildlife photographs, I knew I had to go! I loved all the pictures, and it was fascinating to read the stories behind the shots and to watch the video clips they had playing throughout. I had to get a picture outside with their sculpture for their Big Cats Initiative, which was started by a husband and wife filmmaker/conservationist team. Big cats are my favorite, and I have a framed print in my bedroom that supports the Big Cat Initiative!
We had dinner reservations, so we didn't end up with too much time between the museum and dinner, and decided to just walk towards the National Mall. We ended up having time to walk to the Washington Monument, and I made mental plans to come back in 2019 when the elevators are operational again so I can ride up to the top! It really is an amazing and awe-inspiring moment - you don't really grasp the size of it until you're up close.
I never feel like I have enough time in DC - I really love just walking around and finding new coffee shops and restaurants to try. I can't wait to tell you about the rest of my trip tomorrow, and I also already can't wait to go back to DC!