Wednesday, July 17, 2019

My Year as Ms. Wheelchair USA

Tomorrow I head back to Stow, Ohio for the crowning of the next Ms. Wheelchair USA. I can't believe how quickly the past year has gone by! It's still surreal to think that a year before my crowning, I could never have imagined that I would take part in a pageant. It's been such a fun, exciting year. I've gotten to do some really cool things that I definitely would have gotten to without my crown.
For example - getting to go on the field at a Pirates game and meeting Leslie Odom, Jr. are definite highlights that stand out!
But of course, my year was more than just pageant-waving and smiling for pictures with my crown on. Being invited to be on AT&T's Advisory Panel on Access and Aging and getting the chance to speak at the SciAccess conference were both incredible opportunities to talk about the importance of advocacy and accessibility. I've also been working behind-the-scenes all year, making connections and building a community, all leading up to my upcoming Ramping the Divide Summit. Even though it's technically a week after the end of my reign, it still seems like the perfect culmination of everything that I've been working on.
I want to think you all for your support this past year! You've all been so wonderful and enthusiastic and excited for me and I appreciate it so much.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Amazon Prime Day

Before I start the post, a quick programming note: I'll post when I can until my Summit is over, but it will likely not be my normal 4 posts a week! Planning the Summit has been super exciting, but is also basically like doing a second job on top of my normal 9-5. There are only so many hours in a day, and I have to prioritize, but I haven't forgotten about you! Now, back to my post...

In honor of today being Amazon Prime Day, I thought that I'd share some of my favorite recent Amazon purchases. I can't guarantee that any of these are a Prime Day Deal, but check them out and then check out the special sales, too.
Travel Jewelry Organizer
I have about a million different travel jewelry cases, but none that are really exactly what I'm looking for. I'm hoping that this one is finally the answer! I always need more space for necklaces, rather than earrings/bracelets/etc., and this one looks like it just might do the trick.

iPad Case with Pencil Slot
I already had an iPad case with a built-in keyboard, but it's a little heavy for me to carry around when I just want to do some reading in Schenley Plaza after work. This case is might more lightweight, and even has a built-in slot for my Apple Pencil, which I love.

T-Shirt Dress
Just a simple, comfy t-shirt dress to wear when you don't want to have to think too much about your outfit. It's probably not the highest quality ever, but it's soft and not see-through, and I'm sold.

Oil Control Sheets
These are an absolute necessity for me! There's only so much that powder can do before it'll start to make your makeup clumpy and gross. These just work - they get rid of oil and don't mess up your makeup. I have these on me at all times!

Pet Brush
Because Lily doesn't shed, we have to make sure we keep her brushed so her fur doesn't get all knotted and tangled. The last brush that we had for her started losing tines every time we tried to brush her, so it was time for something new. This one has a great shape/grip and doesn't hurt, either.

Spray Sunscreen
I've written about this a few times now. It doesn't have alcohol and is lightweight enough that it doesn't feel greasy on your skin. Perfect thing to pick up for the summer!

Laptop Backpack/Bag
I bought this to use as a carry-on for a flight, and while it didn't exactly work out for me for that, I have started using it as an everyday bag that I keep on the back of my wheelchair. It has a padded laptop pocket, plus a slot for my iPad, and lots of other little storage pockets, too.

Clear Quart-Sized Bag
One more travel-related item - a clear quart-sized bag, TSA-approved. Nothing fancy, but it's a definite step up from the disposable Ziploc bag that I was previously using.

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

Monday, July 8, 2019

Loving Leopard

This weekend, we pulled off an (early) surprise party for my dad's 60th birthday! I am not a surprise party person - they give me lots and lots of anxiety and stress - and this was even harder because we were holding it at our house, and needed to let him know that something was going on without letting him know it was something for him! Luckily, I was able to convince him to drive me to Drybar before the cookout we told him was for me and my friends, so it worked out well for everyone.
It was really fun to bring all of our friends and family together to celebrate. For as long as I can remember, my parents have always loved throwing parties and entertaining, so this was the perfect way to celebrate his birthday. We'll actually be at the pageant again for his birthday, so we had to do something for him! A surprise party seemed to be the perfect thing.
Of course, I had to pick out a perfect outfit for the party, too. Leopard is in this summer, but I've been an animal print fan for years and years. So now, I can just be glad that there are so many leopard print options for me to choose from! How cute is this leopard wrap skirt from Nordstrom Rack? And it goes perfectly with this smocked peplum top from Madewell. I love them together - it's put together without being too much (although to be fair, I always err on the side of too much rather than too little).

I can already tell that this will be a go-to outfit for me - the black and white is so me, and the print gives it an extra pop and keeps it from being too plain. It worked for a party at our house, but I know it'll work for lots of other occasions, too.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Friday Favorites

I hope that you all had a happy Fourth! I celebrated at The Frick again (like I did two years ago! I wrote a post about it here - it was in my first month of blogging!). We had a delicious lunch at the Cafe at The Frick, then walked around Frick Park again before going to get soft-serve ice cream at the Millie's Summer of Soft Serve pop-up. It was such a perfect, relaxing way to spend the day.

I'm enjoying an extra-long weekend today (as I assume many of you are, too), so today's post is going to be brief! I haven't spent a lot of time online this week, and it's been a nice break. I've been speeding my way through some books, though, so expect an updated reading post soon.
ONE - Madewell Tie-Back Dress
I wore this on the Fourth, but it's not a holiday-only dress. It's a great, easy but cute summer dress - the slit in the front makes it cooler than a typical maxi dress. I love the tie in the back, because the adjustability means that it fits me really well! The blue color is mostly sold out, but there is a lilac version, and it's on sale, too!

TWO - Live Action Ariel Casting
They announced the casting for Ariel in the live-action remake that they're doing, and I'm so excited. I love Chloe X Halle, and I think Halle will be an amazing Ariel! It's one of my favorite Disney movies, so I can't wait to see the remake.

THREE - Drybar Detox Clear
I've been a loyal Drybar dry shampoo user for a while now, and I'm really loving their new clear version. It's a bit lighter than the regular version, but still holds up well against oil and really doesn't leave any powder showing on your hair. I'm sold!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Ramping the Divide Summit: Accessibility in Pittsburgh

Today's post is one that I have been wanting to publish for a few weeks now, and I'm so excited that everything is official and I can share the news!
On Saturday, July 27, Accessible YOUniverse, alongside The Dane Foundation, will be hosting the Inaugural Ramping the Divide Summit. The Summit will be a hands-on workshop, where members of the disability community and interested allies come together to discuss the "state of the union" of accessibility in Pittsburgh, and come up with priorities to address moving forward. I'm especially excited because I'll be holding the Summit in honor of the anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is perfect.

I think it's so important to bring the disability community together to discuss the pressing issues, and to make sure that whatever is tackled first is what we decide is most important! Too often, other people make decisions for us, but I want to make sure that the voices of people with disabilities themselves are highlighted.

I'd love for you to join me at the Summit! All of the event and registration information can be found here. I'm also looking for volunteers for the day of! If you're interested, send me an e-mail at accessibleyouniverse@gmail.com. I'm so excited, and I'd love to have you all there with me!

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Flying When You Use a Wheelchair

Summer, to me, always means summer vacation. When I was growing up, we would always spend a week at the beach - first it was Ocean City, New Jersey, then when I was a little older it was Hilton Head, and occasionally Myrtle Beach. As my sister and I have gotten older, we’ve lobbied for other types of vacations, too - DC, New York - ones that are not as relaxing but area more exciting.

This year, we actually don’t have a summer vacation planned, because we have a lot of long weekend trips happening. Many of them are driving, but we did fly to Dallas earlier this year. And while I’ve written before about what it’s like to travel with a disability (you can read that here), I’ve never discussed flying, which is its own beast.
To start with - I almost titled this post “Flying In a Wheelchair,” but thought that would be misleading because the whole point is that I DON’T fly in my wheelchair! When I was younger, this wasn’t as big of a deal, but as I’ve gotten older and need more support, this has become increasingly difficult.

So - if I don’t fly in my wheelchair, what does happen? I’m going to start from the beginning of the airport process, right when we arrive. In my travel post, I talked about the number of THINGS we have to travel with. These all have to get packed into the car, and then unpacked again at the airport - we always do curbside check-in because it would take a while to lug everything through the check-in line inside. The good news is that you’re not charged for checking medical equipment, but you still have to be okay with checking it and crossing your fingers that it’s not damaged in the cargo hold. You can also carry on as many medical items as you want, but that’s more that you have to wrangle when you’re stressed and boarding. So we generally try to find a balance - carry on things that seem like they might get damaged in cargo, but check everything that we reasonably can.

Once we’ve checked our bags, we head to security. We do get to go to a separate accessible line that is generally much, much shorter than the general security line - but this #WheelchairPerk goes away very quickly, because we also have to wait for a female TSA agent to pat us and our wheelchairs down, and this can take a while. They pat us down, and then swipe tester strips over every possible surface of our wheelchairs to check for explosives. Because the sensor can also be set off by things like pesticide, we often have to get swiped more than once (I seem to have particularly bad luck).

After that, we head towards the gate. Usually, my sister and I both get something to eat and make sure we use the bathroom as late as humanely possible, because the bathrooms on planes aren't accessible! But we can't wait too long, because we have to preboard to gate check our wheelchairs, which means we have to report to the gate 30 minutes before the scheduled boarding time.

I know that preboarding sounds like a perk, but when it means you have to be there 30 extra minutes early, it's more like another required hoop we have to jump through. At the gate, we gate check our wheelchairs, which means we get to drive them down the jetway, as close to actually taking them on the plane as possible. But at the end of the jetway, we have to get out of our chairs and get carried on to the plane. They do have an aisle chair available for using inside the plane - it's skinny enough to fit between the aisles on the plane - but it has almost no support, and I can't hold myself up sitting in it. Once I'm out of my chair, staff at the airport takes it back down the jetway, down an elevator, and loads it into the cargo area of the plane. My dad always does his best to explain to the staff how to move the chair, and we've gotten incredibly lucky so far, but we never know if we'll get our chair back in one working piece.

Sitting on the plane comfortably is yet another challenge, and one that currently requires the use of many, many pillows. Airplane seats are too big for me - my feet don't touch the floor - so there's lots of propping involved in getting me comfortable. And no matter how good I feel a few minutes after takeoff, by hour three or so, everything starts to get sore. I also can't really eat or drink easily on a plane (it's the same issue of lack of support), so I'm always very ready for the flight to end.

Then when we land, the whole process of bringing the wheelchairs around and back to us has to repeat itself. On a good day, this can take 30 minutes; if the elevator is farther away from our gate, it can take even longer. As soon as we have our wheelchairs and confirm that they work, my dad takes off ahead of us for baggage claim, because by that point, everyone else on our flight has already picked up their luggage. This is also usually when I beeline for the airport Starbucks, because I am worn out.

All this being said - I actually like to fly! Long drives aren't really any easier for me, so flying is my only option for going anywhere more than 5-6 hours driving from Pittsburgh. But I do wish the process were simpler. I didn't even mention yet that there are so many smaller airplanes now, and those don't even have the space in cargo to fit my wheelchair, so I just can't fly on them. What I'd love, more than anything, is to be able to take my wheelchair on the airplane. If you want to learn more, check out All Wheels Up - it's an organization founded by another SMA family, and dedicated to working towards increased airline accessibility.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Speaking at SciAccess

June flew by for me, mainly because I spent two weekends in a row traveling. I love to travel, but it's also pretty tiring for me, so I don't say yes to two trips in a row lightly. This trip, however, was easy to say yes to - I was asked to speak at the SciAccess conference at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.
As you might be able to guess from the name, the conference was all about science + accessibility. It covered all different aspects of those intersections, and even included talks given by Anousheh Ansari, the first female privately-funded astronaut, and Temple Grandin, an animal science expert and autism advocate. It was amazing to see so many people coming together to talk about accessibility in the sciences.

I spoke about my own personal experiences with accessibility in the sciences, both as an undergraduate while studying engineering at Carnegie Mellon University and now with my work and studying in public health at Pitt. The talk went really well, and the very best part was the current students who came up to talk to me afterwards about their own experiences, and how they connected with hearing about mine. I'm hoping to continue working with some of them to continue to improve accessibility in the sciences, and that's so exciting!
I'd actually never been to Columbus, even though it's only about three hours away, so it was exciting to have the chance to explore a new city. I stayed about 10 minutes away from campus, in downtown Columbus in a great pet-friendly hotel. I didn't have a ton of time to explore, but I did get a chance to walk around a bit and check out some restaurants in the area, and stumbled on a really cute outdoor farmer's market right across the street from our hotel! Of course, I also had to make sure I made it to the zoo - Columbus's zoo is run by Jack Hanna, so it's basically a "celebrity" zoo. I even got to feed a giraffe, so basically... life made.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Easy, Breezy, Beautiful

 I had an unexpected ER visit last week (why does everything happen to me outside of Monday-Friday, 9-5?). While I'm feeling much better now, it left me pretty drained. I decided to take the week off from blogging to really focus on recuperating and making sure I was getting plenty of rest. Sometimes when you start to feel better (especially if it's something that came on quickly in the first place!), you don't realize that your body isn't quite caught up yet, and needs some more time to heal. I wanted to make sure I gave myself that time. I also had a trip to Easton this past weekend for a friend's bridal shower, so I knew I needed to be well-rested and recovered for that.

On that note, back to the regular posting... (There's no way to smoothly transition around an ER trip, I'm realizing!)
There's nothing like finding the perfect sundress for summer. Something light and flowy, that still looks cute but isn't too hot. It feels so much more effortless to wear, and yet it still looks put-together.

I've basically been on a quest to find this perfect dress, and this one from Madewell is a definite contender. It's not super fitted, so it's perfect when you need something quick to throw on. The material is a little more "dressed-up" than a plain cotton dress, but it still feels light and just easy! I love the bright color - I've been trying to stay away from buying black sundresses, both because I own more than enough and because it gets so hot wearing black in summer sun. This red-orange is so bright and fun.

My work is pretty casual, so this has become one of my new go-to work outfits, but if you have to dress a bit more formally, this is a great weekend dress, too. It really is the perfect "easy, breezy, beautiful" summer dress.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Friday Favorites

As much as I love summer, my allergies have been so bad this year - I think they're the worst they've ever been. I love being outside, but when I went to the Arts Festival this week, my eyes and throat were both burning within minutes of getting there. It's made it a bit tough to get in all the outside reading that I'd like to do, but I'm surviving, somehow.
This week's favorites ahead!


ONE - Lawsuit against Uber
Big and exciting news here in Pittsburgh - a lawsuit was just filed against Uber for their failure to provide rides for people who use wheelchairs. I know the lawsuit is not the first nationwide, but I'm hoping that this helps put a little pressure on them to increase access for people with disabilities. (Note: Do not look this article up on Facebook and read the comments there! Very disheartening.)

TWO - Ali Stroker Interview
I wrote my own post about Ali's amazing win at the Tony's (here), but this is a great interview. She talks about people's misconceptions, and about the need to make the backstage areas of Broadway theaters more accessible, rather than just focusing on the audience-facing areas. You can't expect to see more actors with disabilities on Broadway if they can't even get to their dressing room and the stage!

THREE - Everlane Choose What You Pay Sale
I love Everlane - I love their transparent pricing, their style, and their sizing options that ACTUALLY fit me. They're having one of their "Choose What You Pay" sales, which is too good to pass up. I particularly love this tank dress for summer!

FOUR - Taylor Swift's New Album
Taylor Swift announced her new album and her new single (which will actually be out already when this goes live), and I'm so excited. Unashamed #Swiftie!

FIVE - Late Late Live Tinder
I'm asleep well before the Late Late Show comes up, but I do love watching segments on YouTube. The Live Tinder one makes me laugh every time! 


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Sunscreen for the Summer

I mentioned this briefly in one of my Friday Favorite posts, but I consider sunscreen an absolute essential in the summer. I burn really easily - I actually barely tan, I basically just burn, peel, and then burn again. I know that's super unhealthy, and it's also painful! I am really mad at myself, because I accidentally got sunburnt earlier this summer when I ran out of the house in a rush without thinking. I am still in the midst of peeling, and it's made me more certain now than ever about the necessity of sunscreen.

I'm really picky about the type of sunscreen that I use, though! I use it daily on my face in my moisturizer, so I put it on every single day - in the winter, in the rain, it doesn't matter. But because I'm wearing it daily, I need something that isn't too heavy and greasy, and that I know won't break me out. My favorite for a few years now has been this one from Paula's Choice. It's really light - the texture is really liquidy - and it dries down to a nice matte finish and works really nicely under my foundation. I haven't tried it personally, but I've also heard rave reviews about this one from Elta MD.

As for my body, there is only one that I use - this spray lotion from La Roche Posay. So many of the sunscreen sprays have alcohol in them, which is actually damaging to your skin! This one isn't as much of an aerosol as those are (you still need to rub it in a bit), because it's the alcohol that makes it so light and able to be sprayed so easily. It does, however, do a great job protecting my skin, and still takes less effort since it sprays all over evenly. If you're not a fan of a spray, just make sure you pick one with SPF 30 or higher.

And don't forget - sunscreen only lasts for the season! If you're still hanging on to one from last summer, make sure you toss it and pick up a new one.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Represented at the Tony Awards

You all probably know about my love of musicals very well by now. I know... you're probably sick of me mentioning Hamilton every single time I possibly can. But don't worry - this post is NOT about Hamilton!

This past weekend was the Tony Awards, which is Broadway's version of the Oscars. Since I don't live in New York, and don't get there very often, the Tonys are a great way for me to see and hear some of the current shows on Broadway, before they begin their tours and make it here to Pittsburgh. This year's Tony Awards was especially exciting for me to watch, because Ali Stroker was nominated for, and won, for her role in Oklahoma, and Ali is the first person who uses a wheelchair to win a Tony!
When she accepted her award, she started her speech with: "This award is for every kid who is watching tonight who has a disability, who has a limitation, or a challenge, who has been waiting to see themselves represented in this arena. You are."

Ali is actually the first person who uses a wheelchair to ever perform on Broadway, and as far as I know, the only person who uses a wheelchair to currently be on Broadway. While there is a lot of talk about diversifying Broadway, it doesn't seem to have included disability in that diversification. This isn't a Broadway-specific issue - often, diversity issues and disability issues are considered separate.

But seeing Ali Stroker on stage, and hearing her speech, was really special. I think that people often don't understand the importance of representation because they're so used to being represented. But when you have never seen anyone like you in a certain place - whether it's on stage, on TV, or somewhere else - it's not just that you don't have someone to look up to. It's that you feel unwelcome, like there's some invitation you haven't received, some guest list that you were left off of. You think that it's probably not even possible for you to ever get there, because if no one ever has, why would you be the first?

It's 2019, and the very first ever person who uses a wheelchair won a Tony Award. It's a little bittersweet - as exciting as it is, I can't believe that it's taken this long. My fingers are crossed that Ali's win brings more disability to Broadway, and that I get to see more people in wheelchairs on stages all over.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Wheelchair Wash and Tune Up

When you think about it, in some ways, using a wheelchair isn't all that different from using a car. Just like a car gets dirty when it's outside and dealing with salt and slush and rain and dirt, my wheelchair does, too. Except there's no equivalent of a car wash for me to take my wheelchair to when it gets too dirty. So honestly... I usually just ignore it! I can't see it, so it doesn't bother me. I did have my parents help wash it last year before the pageant, but that may have been the first time that chair ever got washed (much to my dad's chagrin, and constant nagging about it!).
My current wheelchair is less than a year old, so it's still (relatively) clean. But when I saw a Facebook event for a Wheelchair Wash and Tune Up at UPMC Mercy, I knew that I had to check it out! It did not disappoint. When I got there, I was so impressed - the turnout was amazing, and there were also so many volunteers! I didn't even have to wait five minutes before a whole group was ready to start washing my wheelchair. They did such an incredible job and my wheelchair looks so shiny and like-new!
They also had someone on site to do minor wheelchair repairs, so I was able to get some screws tightened that had been really annoying me. Plus, they had tables from other disability organizations set up, free food, and lots of tables for people to sit and chat and get to know each other. I can't wait to go back next year... especially since it's likely that my wheelchair will not be washed again before then!

Friday, June 7, 2019

Friday Favorites

This week seemed to fly by for me (although there was a moment where I thought it was Friday on Thursday, so...). I have lots of different projects that I'm trying to balance right now, and then trying to balance those with my personal life... the free time just seemed to go away very quickly!

This weekend starts Pittsburgh's Arts Festival, and my amazingly talented friend Katie has a booth there - I'm really looking forward to seeing it! You should definitely check out her art even if you're not in Pittsburgh - her website is here.

I'm really excited about this week's favorites - I feel like I came across some really cool things this week.
ONE - IKEA Recreates Rooms from TV
How fun is this?! IKEA took rooms from some famous TV shows - Friends, Strangler Things - and recreated them with their furniture. I'm so impressed by both the execution, and the thought behind it too!

 TWO - Apple's Voice Control
One of the things that Apple announced earlier this week was the ability to use voice control to use your phone, computer, or iPad. This is different than just Siri - you can actually direct your computer to open a file, you can type, and even direct it to save the file all without ever having to touch the mousepad. This is huge for people with mobility impairments - so cool! Watch the video for yourself to see it in action.

THREE - When They See Us
If you watch one thing this week, you should make it When They See Us on Netflix. It's about the Central Park jogger/Central Park Five case, and while I knew some of the basics, I definitely did not know all of the horrible details. It's definitely not the easiest thing to watch, but its really important.

FOUR - Musical Mash-Up
On a lighter note - the Hamilton YouTube channel is creating musical mash-ups to celebrate the Tony Awards this coming weekend. I had just started listening to the songs from Hadestown this week, so the timing of this was perfect!

FIVE - The Comfiest Flats Ever
These flats are the most comfortable that I've ever worn - I may have to buy them in every color possible. One of my friends at work was actually wearing them on the same day that I was, and we both said they were our favorite flats! The sole of the shoe is so cushioned - I call them my "cloud shoes. Worth every penny!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

What I Read in May

Sitting outside and reading is one of my absolute favorite things to do in the summer. It helps me wind down after work, or gives me an excuse to relax for a few hours on the weekend. I think that with reading, the more you do it, the more you want to do it - it scratches an itch that mindless TV watching just doesn't (and I love TV).

I got through some really good books last month, including one so good that I have not been able to get my mind off of it. Please leave me your recommendations in the comments! I love getting personal recommendations more than trying to scroll through pages and pages of Barnes & Noble's website!
The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
This was, by far, my favorite of everything I read during the month. It's spread over two different timelines, but with connected characters, and it just tells the story so beautifully. It's partially set during the AIDS crisis in Chicago, and it really makes you think about how it might have felt to lose so many of your friends to a disease without a cure or any real treatment. If you read anything this summer, make it this book!

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
I didn't really know what to expect from this book - the lead character is sometimes so socially awkward in ways that made me physically cringe while I was reading! But the story has turns in ways that you wouldn't expect, and its a really interesting story. I don't want to give away the plot, but I enjoyed it.

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
After I read The Female Persuasion last year, I knew that I wanted to read more books by Meg Wolitzer. She writes characters in a way that makes you really identify with them and their stories. This book follows a group of friends from camp through adulthood, and by the time I was done reading, I felt like I was part of their group, too.

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
It took me a little to get into this one, because it's written as if it's one long magazine interview, and I wasn't sure how I felt about the format. But it actually is perfect for the story, and I really loved it. It follows the story behind a fake musician and band, and when it ended I almost Googled to confirm that it wasn't actually a real story!

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou
This one is my current read - it's the real-life story of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos. I've listened to the ABC podcast and watched the HBO documentary already, so this seemed like the next step. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Travel Essentials

I shared my search for the perfect carry on bag last week (in this post, here), so I thought I'd share some of my other travel essentials. I love to travel, and I actually love packing - I even made an Excel packing list after reading Alyssa Mastromonaco's book where she included hers. I know that you can almost always buy whatever you forgot at your destination, but the control freak in me likes to make sure that I have every box checked before I go. I feel so much more relaxed and ready for a trip when I feel prepared.
Toiletry Bag
Just like I was searching for the perfect carry on, I've also been looking for a new toiletry bag for trips. If there's an area where I always overpack, it's my toiletries. The products I use in my skincare routine are not travel sized, but I refuse to leave them at home. So I am not one of those people who can ever just use a carry on bag when I fly, because I always bring more liquids than are TSA-allowed. But the bigger a toiletry bag is, the more it seems like a black hole - it's so hard to find anything. I finally bought this family-sized toiletry bag from L.L. Bean after looking at it online for months, and I love the number of pockets and pouches it has. If you don't have quite as much stuff as me to bring, they have lots of different sized options - the large is still plenty big.

Electronics
I never travel without my AirPods or iPad. I actually use them on a daily basis, but I'm always sure that I have them when I travel. I always download a few new books on my iPad before I leave, and maybe a few episodes of a TV show or a movie, too. I also always bring an extension cord with me. It might sound weird, but when you have to charge a wheelchair and plug in your breathing machine and feeding tube, there are never enough outlets in the hotel rooms, and they're always in the weirdest places. Even if you don't have medical equipment, you could still at least reach your phone from the bed!

Being Comfortable
There's something about travel that always makes me want to be as comfortable as possible. I always bring a cashmere wrap/scarf - whether it's a plane trip or a road trip, you never know where the AC is going to be blasting. I also always travel with a blanket - I'm not too crazy about germs in hotel rooms, but I have seen too many horror stories to use the hotel duvet! So I always bring my own fleece blanket. I also travel with my own pillow - I use multiple pillows when I sleep at night, and I sometimes want one that's a little smaller than the giant fluffy hotel pillows. Okay... so maybe I overpack in this area, too!

Packing Extras
This was the first time I ever used packing cubes when I traveled, and I don't know why I waited so long. They keep everything so neat and organized, and make it so easy to find what you're looking for! I don't usually unpack everything at the hotel, so these keep me from searching through my suitcase for that one dress I know I brought but can't find. I also like to have an extra bag or backpack with me - sometimes my day-to-day purse just doesn't cut it. This packable backpack from Everlane is absolutely perfect for that.

Miscellaneous
The rest of these are just cute travel versions of things that I don't necessarily need, but make things a lot easier. Hotel hairdryers never cut it for me - I need something with a lot more power - but my T3 dryer that I use daily is heavy and a lot. This Baby Buttercup from Drybar folds in half, so it's way easier to bring with me, but still is strong enough to actually dry my thick hair! The Foreo Luna Go is so tiny and lightweight that it takes up almost no room at all, and keeps me from breaking out while I travel. This little travel case for my BeautyBlender lets air in so that it doesn't get moldy. And finally, this mini lint roller is so cute that I couldn't resist it.

Scroll through the widget below to see all of my travel must-haves, and let me know what yours are. 




Monday, June 3, 2019

Two Years of Blogging

This is the second year in a row where my blogging "birthday" has passed and I haven't realized it until after the fact. I guess time flies when you're having fun, right? One year felt like a really big deal - it felt "official" - and now two  years feels like it means that I have some real stability and staying power.
There are definitely days where I sit here thinking that I have nothing to say; days when I can't imagine writing another post because I have no idea what to write about. There are also days where I struggle with the balance of posts - how much do I want to share about my disability, and how much can I share about clothes and makeup and things like that without losing the interest of people who care about disability?

And yet (shocking no one who knows me in real life), I somehow always come up with something to talk about, with something else to say. I really love having this outlet - blogging is as much for letting me have an outlet for my thoughts as it is for other people reading it! I have always loved writing, and blogging has given me a way to explore that in a really fun way.

I also hope, that in some point over the last two years, I've helped shed a little more light on what it's like living with a disability. That I can care about both my need for plastic straws and my need for stylish clothes that fit me well. The issues that come along with living with a disability can often be more societal than medical, and that's why I think it's so important for society to understand disability more. There are so many different ways to do that, and I hope my blog does its own small part.

And of course - I'm so grateful and thankful to you for following along and reading. I have loved connecting with you so much! I'm really looking forward to this next year, and to see what it brings.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Friday Favorites

I think there's something fitting about the last day of the month falling on the last day of the (work) week - it just feels right, you know? I'm looking forward to June, because it always starts to feel like it's officially summer. We've had a lot of rain this week, so I'm hoping that the new month brings new (and better) weather.

As of right now, I don't have any real plans for the weekend, and I'm so happy. I'm really looking forward to some reading and coffee drinking outside - perfect weekend relaxation.
On to this weeks favorites!

ONE - Fosse/Verdon Interview
I've been watching Fosse/Verdon on FX, and love it. Michelle Williams is so absolutely incredible in this, and the show is all about Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon and musicals, so I was already interested! This is a great interview with the actual daughter of Fosse and Verdon. She talks about her parents, what her life was like growing up, and how the show compares to her real life.

TWO - Mandy Mouse in Peppa Pig
I do not have kids, so I don't really know anything about the children's TV show Peppa Pig other than the fact that it's very popular. Even so, I love that they introduced Mandy Mouse, a new character with a disability who uses a wheelchair. When kids are see disability on TV, they become more comfortable with it in real life - and they grow up to be adults who are comfortable with disability, too!

THREE - Good News for Alex Trebek
Any other Jeopardy fans out there? I can't even imagine the show without its host, Alex Trebek. I'm so glad to hear that his cancer is in near-remission and he's doing better, and hope to see him in many more Jeopardy seasons to come.

FOUR - My Favorite Sunscreen
Summer time means more sun, which for me means more of a chance of getting a sunburn. I burn really easily, so I try to be very cautious about wearing sunscreen. (I actually already got burnt once this summer accidentally and am trying extra hard to keep it from happening again!) I'm also picky about the type of sunscreen I use. I like the spray-on kind, because I feel like it's easier/faster, but almost every single one has alcohol as a main ingredient, which is actually damaging to the skin! It seems really counter-intuitive to me to include it in something meant to protect your skin. I will basically ONLY use this spray sunscreen by La Roche Posay on my body. It's alcohol free and sprays on, though you do have to rub it in a bit. I highly recommend.

FIVE - Mindy Kaling Interview
I love Mindy Kaling's shows, her books, and her commitment to diversity in bringing her own stories and interest to the big and small screens. I can't wait to see her new movie, and am excited to learn more about her upcoming shows, too!

SIX - Campaign Training for People with Disabilities
I found this on Twitter and knew I had to share. This program is called Elevate, and its goal is to help people with disabilities who have considered running for some sort of elected office learn how to do so. It's so important - people with disabilities have so much to offer politically, and are incredibly under-represented. This is such an amazing opportunity.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Perfect Carry On Bag

When I was flying to Dallas earlier this month, it became clear that I still need to find the perfect carry-on bag. I have a suitcase that I love, but my carry on bag still isn't quite what I wanted it to be. I bought a new one from Amazon to try for my most recent trip, and there were some things that I liked about it, but it wasn't quite right for me. I realized that I need a bigger bag - I like to carry some of my medical supplies on in my bag, to decrease the chance of it getting damaged, and I use pillows on the flight to help position me comfortably, and they also have to be stored somewhere. The bag that I bought just didn't have enough room to fit everything comfortably. I ended up having to put some of my things into my mom's and sister's bags because I just couldn't fit them into mine.

So when I got home, I started doing research to find the perfect carry on bag. I knew that I wanted more of a tote bag in shape, and definitely not anything with a hard shell or wheels. I need my bag to be able to fit in the underseat area, and something without too much structure is so much easier for that. I also wanted something with pockets/organization so that I can actually find things easily inside the bag. I did a lot of Googling, a lot of comparing, and found a few final contenders that I wanted to share.
Top Row: Dagne Dover XL Landon Caryall; Cuyana Classic Overnight Bag
Middle Row: Mark & Graham Maggie Overnighter; Sole Society Lacie Duffel
Bottow Row: Madewell the Essential Overnight Bag; MZ Wallace Large Sutton


I think that I've decided on the Dagne Dover XL Landon Carryall Duffel Bag. I love that it's flexible, it has so many pockets, a laptop sleeve, and even a removable pouch that will fit my iPad. It will definitely be big enough, and I'll be able to squish my pillows in there and won't have to worry about them slipping out of my bag. I'll let you know how it works out after my next trip!



 My other options were the Cuyana Classic Overnight Bag, the Mark & Graham Maggie Overnighter, the Sole Society Lacie Faux Leather Duffel Bag, the Madewell The Essential Overnight Bag in Canvas, and the MZ Wallace Large Sutton Shoulder Tote. You can scroll through them in the widget below.

Now that I've got the bag situation figured out, I just need to pick out all of the perfect travel accessories to fill it with. If you have any suggestions, please share them with me!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Weekend Recap

I don't want to take away from the reason that we have a three day weekend for Memorial Day by saying that I really needed the day off... but it's true. I have been basically running on fumes for the last few weeks, and I was really grateful to have this extra day off.
I haven't done a weekend recap post in a while, and I had a nice mix of things going on this weekend, so I thought it would be fun. Friday started off with an early dismissal from work, and a really fun dinner at Smallman Galley to celebrate a friend's good news. I don't make it to the Strip District often, but I got there early for dinner because of my early dismissal and got to check out a new-to-me coffee shop/cafe, De Fer. It was so cute, and I'll definitely have to go back.
On Saturday, I got to see Dear Evan Hansen. I have been looking forward to seeing this show since it was announced that it would be stopping in Pittsburgh as part of their tour. I've been listening to the soundtrack for a few years now, and I was so glad to be able to hear and see it live. The show is so incredibly powerful, and I don't think there's anything quite like this show and the story line. If you get the chance, absolutely go see it (but also be sure to bring some tissues!). When the show let out, a night market was going on in Market Square, so I got to walk around that for a few minutes and resist buying something from every single stand.

Sunday was my day for sleeping in and relaxing, and catching up on TV (currently I'm bingeing Grace & Frankie), and reading outside (I'm in the middle on The Great Believers). I was so glad to be able to have some down time, and to be able to just have a day to myself! And on Monday, I got to spend time with family to celebrate one of my uncle's birthdays with a cookout at our house. It was a great way to wind down the weekend.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Friday Favorites

Can you believe that it's already Memorial Day weekend?! I don't know where May went, and I can't believe how quickly it flew. Going to Dallas in the middle of the month really made it seem very short to me!

I am looking forward to the extra day off this weekend, and also excited to see Dear Evan Hansen this Saturday. It's the final show of this year's subscription, and I can't wait.

Some of my favorites are from the past few weeks, not just this week, but I still wanted to make sure that I shared them!
ONE - Sinead Burke at the Met Gala
If you don't know, the Met Gala is considered the hottest of tickets. Every single person attending has to be approved by Anna Wintour herself - it's very, very exclusive. Check out this interview given by the first little person to attend!

TWO - Carpool Karaoke with Celine Dion
This is possibly my favorite carpool karaoke ever. Obviously Celine Dion has an incredible voice, but she is so hilarious in this! You absolutely need to watch.

THREE - Ramy Co-star Interview
One of the co-stars on the new show Ramy has a disability - and the best part is that it's a character with a disability played by an actor with a disability. He is actually friends with Ramy (the real person, not the TV show character... it's confusing, I know!), and this is a great interviewing covering his life, his disability, the show, etc.

FOUR - 143 Day
This is a really cute thing that Pennsylvania started this year - yesterday was 143 ("I love you") day here in honor of Mr. Rogers. The goal was to do a good deed or act of kindness, just like Mr. Rogers would have wanted

FIVE - Restaurant Reviews to Include Accessibility
I love this - the top restaurant reviewer at The Washington Post is going to start including general accessibility information in his reviews, and he got input about what to include from people with disabilities. Hopefully more reviewers start doing this moving forward!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Being Let Down

Sometimes I think that I say that too many different things are the one frustrating part of having a disability, or of using a wheelchair. Obviously, there are lots of things, big and small, that are annoying about having a disability. But usually, it’s not the disability or the wheelchair itself - it’s the way in which the world is not built to accommodate it.

Some of these things can be small - lack of curb cuts, flights of stairs - and others are larger and more complex, like airline travel. But the point is, there are lots of things that are just not built for wheelchair users to easily access. Which means that when I find something that does work for me, I come to really count on it and rely on it. I start to let my guard down a little bit, and don’t go through the song-and-dance of calling ahead and double- or triple-confirming that it will be accessible to me. And inevitably, something that I thought I could rely on lets me down.

I’ve talked a lot (here and on social media and incessantly in person) about my Drybar obsession. I can’t style my own hair - I can hold a blow dryer and dry my hair, but that’s it. No round brushes when I dry, no straightening brush, no curling irons. I have to hope that my mom or aide can do my hair the way that I want. Sometimes that turns out really well, and sometiimes it does not. That’s why Drybar is so great for me - I can go there to get my hair washed and styled, and it always turns out great.

I’ve been to Drybar here in Pittsburgh, and also in multiple New York City and DC locations. Each time, there is a removable chair in the hair washing area, so that I can wheel my chair right up to one of their sinks without having to get out of my chair. That is huge for me. Transferring and getting positioned isn’t always easy, and isn’t necessarily comfortable. Being able to stay in my own chair makes it a comfortable experience.

So when I made my Drybar reservation in Dallas, I didn’t call ahead and confirm that they had a removable chair, because I never imagined that it was something that I would need to check. But of course, I got there... and no removable chair. The manager told me that NONE of the three different locations in Dallas had a removable chair. Luckily for me, the staff was incredibly kind and flexible and worked with me to find a solution that worked. But they shouldn’t have had to, and I shouldn’t have had to stress and scramble to figure something out with them! A simple accessible solution already exists, and is already used in their other locations!

Accessibility should be standard. It’s disappointing, and disheartening, and was really jarring for me, especially since I was in Dallas for a meeting all about accessibility! And while I know it wasn’t personal, it felt like it was - it felt like they had made the conscious choice not to include an accessible feature they knew existed, because they didn’t value or think about my business. We should be moving forward towards full inclusion, not backwards, getting farther away from it.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Summer Sundresses

I don't know about you, but when it's summer, I like to spend all of my weekend time in sundresses. They're light and breezy, and they don't require mixing-and-matching to make an outfit like skirts and tops do. Shorts are not comfortable to wear since I'm sitting all day... I haven't been able to find a pair that both looks and feels good when I'm wearing them. So dresses it is.
As I was sitting in the very hot, very direct sun this weekend wearing a black dress, I began to think that maybe it was time to introduce a bit more color into my summer wardrobe. I do have this sundress from ASOS that you've now seen in more than one post, but I can't wear it every day! So I want to add a few more light and bright options to the rotation.... and maybe one or two black options, just to be safe!

I pulled together a few that I have my eye on below... let me know your favorite, and what your go-to easy summer look is.






This post contains affiliate links; I may earn a small commission for any purchases you make. The recommendations, however, are all my own!

Monday, May 20, 2019

Quick Dash to Dallas

Last week, I had the most incredible opportunity to take a trip to Dallas to be part of AT&T's Advisory Panel on Access and Aging. I had been invited earlier in the year, but didn't exactly know what I was getting myself into.

It turned out to be really amazing. It was so exciting to be around a group of people who were also so excited and passionate about accessibility issues. We learned about some great products, but maybe more importantly, had some great discussions about disability and aging and access and everything in between. I can't talk about the details of the meeting itself, obviously, but it was just so invigorating to be able to take part in. I'm really so honored that I was asked to take part in it. Sometimes I feel like I'm a little bit out of my league at things like this, but I really felt like I was able to take part in the conversations and add to the discussion.
We stayed in the beautiful Magnolia Hotel, right in the very heart of downtown Dallas, very conveniently across the street from AT&T headquarters. It was the perfect location for walking around downtown. I didn't have a ton of time to explore the city (although we did head down a day early to visit with family, which was so fun!), but what I did get to see was all easily walkable.
I was a little bit surprised - for a city as big as Dallas is, I ran into a lot of sidewalk corners without curb cut ramps, so we had to do a lot of backtracking and lots of weird, circuitous paths to make our way around. I also didn't love the streetcar tracks all over the streets - they were SO bumpy and I had to cross them so slowly that the time to cross the street was basically over before I could even make it across! That one is less of an issue and more of a personal preference, but I'm sure I'm not the only wheelchair user who feels that way.

On the plus side, though, we had the best accessible minivan rental experience that we've ever had when traveling! Renting an accessible minivan isn't quite like renting a car - you can't get one from any of the major car rental companies. You have to use a company that specifically does wheelchair-accessible vehicles. One company we called said that they only do airport drop-off/pick-up Monday-Friday during normal business hours? Your flight arrives outside that window? You're out of luck. But we found Premier Accessible Van Rental, and they made the whole process SO easy and smooth and seamless. If you need an accessible minivan rental in Dallas, I highly recommend, and they're not paying me to say that!
The rest of my time there, I just explored - checked out the JFK museum, quite a few local coffeeshops, and the Dallas Museum of Art. I was really bummed that I was two days too early for the opening of their new Dior exhibit, but a kind docent did let me into the outer room to let me get a picture with the amazing dresses.

It was such a great trip, but felt way too short. I'm looking forward to next year's meeting already!

Monday, May 13, 2019

Straw Bans Revisited

I first wrote about the proposed plastic straw bans (and why I'm against them) almost exactly one year ago (read that post here). They may not be in the news as much as they were a year ago, but that doesn't mean that they're not happening. I actually think it's even worse - they make the news less, but they're remarkably persistent and keep popping up places that I wouldn't expect them to.

And it's not only all-out bans - it's shifts in what kinds of straws a restaurant or cafe will stock, by choice. I ordered a cappuccino out the other day, and unknowingly picked up a compostable straw, which was the only kind they had. It melted the SECOND it hit the hot coffee. It was almost funny how quickly it went from a straw to a wiggly blob. The compostable straw was completely unusable in a hot drink. And based on many life experiences, I can say that a paper straw would have been only marginally better.

So why not use a reusable straw? Carry a silicone or metal or glass one around for me to use whenever I want? It really all comes down to independence.

When you have a disability, small gains of independence are hard-won. I need help for so many parts of my day-to-day life; there are just a lot of things that I can't physically do alone. So I really treasure the moments that I do get to be by myself, and the things that I can do without assistance. And right now, one of those things that I really look forward to is going to Starbucks to get my cappuccino on my own. Mobile ordering make things even easier for me - I can place an order for the drink I want, it'll come with the right amount of milk/sugar that I specified (and I don't need to ask for help with that while I'm there), I pick up a straw so that I can actually consume my drink, and I leave. Simple, right? It's basically the same process for everyone.

Once Starbucks takes away those plastic straws, though, things get a lot more complicated. I order my drink, just like above, it's prepared, and I go to pick it up. But once I get my cappuccino, how do I drink it? Let's even assume that I am carrying around a reusable silicone straw, and that I'm able to get it out of my bag on my own. First, this is already a bit assumption - it's something that I need to make sure is always in a specific, reachable spot, because if I forget, or if it slips out of reach, I physically cannot drink my coffee. And then what do I do when I finish my cappuccino? Able-bodied people can just go into the bathroom, rinse it off, and move on with their day. It's not that easy for me, though. I can't get into the bathroom, so I'd have to ask someone to open the door for me, and then once I'm in there, I can't reach the sink or soap dispenser. And while I'm generally pretty comfortable asking for help, asking a stranger to clean my straw is a bridge too far for me. So I'm stuck with a dirty, sticky straw that I have to put somewhere until I'm home. And because I'm not only a once-per-day Starbucks customer, I have to repeat this whole process over again later with another reusable straw.

Maybe this sounds too detailed for you - like I'm blowing it out or proportion and overthinking it. But this is the level of detail that I have to approach every single part of my day with. And that's why I look forward to the things that I can do on my own, without having to deal with my own complicated logistics plus involving someone else for help. And it's more than just the planning - it's knowing that going for a coffee is something that I can do on my own. Banning plastic straws (or voluntarily eliminating them) has so many unintended consequences that people without disabilities just don't have to think about. If you want to stop using plastic straws, by all means, please do that! But don't force me to give up my independence while you're at it.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Pittsburgh Half Marathon 2019

Yesterday was the Pittsburgh Marathon/Half Marathon, which my mom has been running for 10 years now (you can read last year's post here)! Even though it was rainy, the city really comes out and shows up on race day, and it's really fun to see.
For the last 5 years or so, she and some of my friends/family have created a charity team for Cure SMA for the race. It's been so great to be able to have a team running to raise money for the organization that funds the seed grants for so many SMA treatments that are making their way through the approval process.

The thing about my mom running the half marathon, though, is that it means she's not around to help my sister and I get ready in the morning. And when we can't get an attendant to come help, it means it's all up to my dad. My dad definitely does help my sister and I, but he's not used to having to do everything that we need help with, plus get himself ready, and get out of the door on time. And when you have SMA, you can't exactly just rush and make it work and make it out on time no matter what. Things take the amount of time that they take - and they may take longer than they did last year, or the year before that.

All of this is to say that this year, we didn't make it to the race until AFTER my mom and friend had crossed the finish line. It was certainly not for a lack of trying - we woke up VERY early - but it was just the reality of it. It's frustrating for sure, and even more frustrating when you wish you could come up with one thing to pin the lateness on... but there really isn't any one thing. It's every single thing taking just a little too long, and each of those few extra minutes just adds up more quickly than you'd think. And I think this is one of the most frustrating parts of SMA. I'm used to using a wheelchair, that's not something that I even really think about on a day-to-day basis - I've never known anything different. But the way that simple, everyday tasks get time-consuming so quickly - that gets annoying. It's also the part that's the hardest to explain. Not making it to dinner because the restaurant has a step makes sense. Being late because things just took longer than you wanted them to is something that is harder to understand until you experience it yourself.

So, we didn't make it to cheer them on in the crowd, but we still did make it to meet up with them afterwards and congratulate them. It's not what we hoped for, but it's what we were able to make happen, and that's okay.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Friday Favorites

I seriously cannot believe it's already May! As busy and stressful as it was for me, April completely flew by. This weekend is the Pittsburgh Marathon, which is always fun (and tiring, even as a spectator)! I'm looking forward to cheering on my mom and friend as they run the half marathon.

It also seems like the nice weather is finally here to stay! I'm loving it and so happy to see color in the world again.
I feel like I had a mental list of SO many things that I wanted to share this week... and I've forgotten most of them. I do have some fun things to share, though!

ONE - Measles in Pittsburgh
This is so frustrating because it's so preventable with vaccines! Measles are serious and scary, especially for people with compromised immune systems or babies that are too young to be vaccinated. The count in Pittsburgh is up to 5 confirmed cases, and there's still a long while to go before the window for symptoms to appear has officially closed. Please, just get your vaccines - it really is so important! Your decisions don't only affect you.


TWO - ME! by Taylor Swift at the Billboard Music Awards
This song is so poppy and fun and has been stuck in my head/on replay in my headphones for a week now. I loved the performance of the song at the Billboard Music Awards - the production was so over the top in the absolute best way - and it made me so excited for her (yet to be announced) new tour!


THREE - MK and A on Hulu
My sister and I, plus our friends, were OBSESSED with the Mary Kate and Ashley Olson movies when we were younger. We had a specific piece of dialogue from "Winning London" memorized, and would randomly quote it. I cannot wait to watch all of these movies on Hulu (even though "Winning London" isn't actually included)!! I will definitely be marathoning them all.

FOUR - Instagram Changes Coming?
It looks like Instagram is planning to test some potential changes, including hiding the number of likes on photos, in an attempt to take away some of the obsession and competition surrounding number of likes. It would still allow you to see who liked your own picture, but you wouldn't have that information for other people's pictures. Personally, I'm totally fine with this - what do you think?

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Spring Sephora Sale

It's that time of the year again - Sephora sale time! VIB Rouge members get 20% off, and VIB members get 15% off, and it's the perfect time to pick up a few things that you've had your eye on, or that you're running low on.
I like to pick up a few fun things during Sephora's sale - things that I wouldn't necessarily pick out normally, but getting that 20% just makes it seem worth it! I do also stock up on a few tried-and-true favorites that I know won't go bad before I can use them. And I definitely try to make any pricier purchases during the sale period, to get the most out of the 20% off that I can! So here's what I'm picking up from this year's sale...

Bite Beauty Lip Stain in Orange Fizz
I bought this in the bright pink color a few weeks ago, and I fell in love. It's SUPER bright and pigmented, and it really does last like a stain! It feels like a balm, though, which I love. So I decided to pick up the coral color, too - now I'll be ready for summer!

Beauty Blender Set
I use a Beauty Blender for my foundation every day, and even though I was it daily, it still doesn't last forever. This set is just a great deal, and the perfect time to stock up!

Stila Liquid Eyeshadow
This one definitely falls into the fun category. Do I need a turquoise metallic liquid eyeshadow? Absolutely not. But this just looks so fun! I do have other Stila liquid eyeshadows and really like how they apply, so I figured why not go for it?!

Drunk Elephant T.L.C Framboos Exfoliant
I've been using this for a few months now, and I still think it's great. I love the texture of it on my skin, love the mix of AHAs and BHAs - really I just think it's a great product! But it's definitely not cheap, so I wanted to take advantage of the sale.

Charlotte Tilbury Colour Chameleon Eye Shadow Pencil
I am all for easy makeup application, and I love eye shadow pencils/crayons because they make the process so much easier. I had a green eye shadow from Ulta that I loved in high school and wore basically every time I "dressed up" (makeup when I was in high school was VERY different than it is now for kids in high school!). The "smoky emerald" color of this pencil seems like the grown up version of that eye shadow!

Peace Out Acne Healing Dots
These are great for covering up any acne that you have (face or body) overnight and letting them heal. Not only does it keep you from picking/touching, but it actually does help speed up the healing process. These were an impulse, checkout line purchase the last time I was in a Sephora, and I've been using them often and need a refill.

You can click through the widget below to see all of my Sephora sale picks!




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

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Best Laid Plans

This post is another that I'm almost writing as a reminder to myself... but I figure that if it's something that I'm going through, it's something that other people are probably dealing with (or have dealt with), too.
I wrote a few weeks ago about how to deal when you're overwhelmed... which is basically how I've been feeling ever since I wrote that post. Work deadlines, school deadlines, things going on in my personal life - sometimes everything just comes at you all at the same time. And while I've been following my advice as much as I can (basically, just take things one step at a time - don't look too far ahead!), I still have basically felt that I can't quite get out of the hole I'm in. Every time I think that I'm seeing the light at the tunnel, something else comes up that delays things a little bit more, or adds one more thing to my to-do list.

I can be a bit of a control freak, so I don't exactly love it when this happens. While I work really well with deadlines, I work with them so well because I hate leaving things until the very last second. If I have a goal/deadline in mind, I like to be able to check things off at least 24 hours before that, especially if it's work-related. But when things come up last minute, that's not always possible. No amount of list-making at that point is going to let you go back in time and anticipate this happening proactively. Sometimes, you just have to roll with the punches. Stressing out over things not going as expected, and what that will do to your life will just make you more stressed, and it becomes a vicious cycle really quickly.

I think it's especially hard for me because I know how crucial balance is. I'm not someone who can pull an all-nighter anymore - or even survive on 3-4 hours of sleep. That has a serious affect on me physically - being tired just makes every single thing so much harder. And less time sleeping means less time on my feeding tube, which means less calories for me overnight. These are all things I have to be aware of, and careful of. But if I focus on them too much, I go down that rabbit hole of stressing about being stressed - definitely not productive.

So this is just a reminder to me, and to you - things will not always go as planned! It's really important to remember that things will still be ok when that happens, and to not let yourself spiral - because that does not help make things feel like they're more under control at all.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

When Sidewalks are your Streets

I've been writing a lot lately about how excited I am for spring - and I haven't been lying, I really am so happy for winter to be over. But there is one part of spring (other than the rain) that I don't love - and that's the sidewalks here in Pittsburgh.

If you drive at all in Pittsburgh, you know how bad the potholes in the streets get by the end of winter. The city has a "blitz" every year once the weather starts to warm up, where they try to fill as many as possible as quickly as possible. It makes for a much smoother drive around the city.

There's no equivalent blitz, though, for the sidewalks. Just like cracks in the roads get worse over winter, so do cracks on the sidewalks. It's probably not something that you pay much attention to, unless there's a piece so uneven that it makes you trip. But the "smaller" cracks are things your probably don't notice at all. However - I notice. I notice a lot! It's something that I actually have to pay constant attention to. Think about that noise that your car makes when you go over a pothole too quickly - it's basically the same for me in my chair going over cracks and holes in the sidewalk. Not only could it damage my chair (which can take a while to repair, and leaves me quite literally stuck while it's out of commission), but I could actually get hurt if I wasn't careful! I could fall forward, or sideways... or really any direction - I could really get thrown by a big enough bump if I was going too quickly. My wheelchair has shocks, but they can only do so much. A lot of up-and-down bumping and jumping over cracks really starts to wear on me, physically, after a while. It's actually tiring, too!

So I'm constantly looking down while I drive around. I have to move around and swerve constantly to find the least-cracked part of any given sidewalk that I'm on. I think I probably look like I'm drunk and can't stay on a straight path - and I'm sure it makes it more difficult for people to walk around me! But if I don't, I have to go so super slowly on each and every crack that it would take me forever to get anywhere. I even have specific paths memorized, and will go out of my way a little bit if it makes an easier, smoother drive. (Unrelated to spring - cobblestones are THE WORST. Those, I will avoid at all costs. They are always the most bumpy, uncomfortable ride.)

I know this whole post is basically a long, extended rant about how bad sidewalks can be for people who use wheelchairs, but I think that's not the most important takeaway. When people think of accessibility, they think of ramps and elevators, maybe Braille or sign language. They don't tend to think of sidewalk conditions. But sidewalks actually affect my day-to-day life a lot! Accessibility touches on so many different things that you wouldn't necessarily think about - and unless you actually talk to, or listen to, someone with a disability, it's likely that you'll never realize it and nothing will ever change.