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.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Stripes for Spring

I'm not usually someone who wears a lot of bright colors, but lately I've been drawn to really bold, bright hues. I'm not sure what it is - maybe I'm just excited that the blah dull grey skies of winter are coming to an end? Whatever the reason, I feel like I've been fully in the spring spirit lately and dressing to match.

I've also been really loving stripes, especially if they're combined with something bright. I'm not really a floral person - I feel like it always makes me look really young - so stripes are the perfect amount of pattern for me. It gives my outfit a little bit of a pop, and makes it more interesting than the solid-colored skirt that I usually gravitate towards.
I picked up this skirt during J. Crew's 40% off sale (which is happening again through the end of today!!), and I love it - it's so good that my sister wanted to buy it after she saw me wearing it, and we're almost never into the same things! I love the length and the colors. It's actually made of wool, but it's super soft and comfy (elastic waistband!), which is something I always pay really close attention to, especially because I'm sitting all day. It's long enough that the wind doesn't completely blow it up while the weather is still a little bit all over the place, but light enough that it doesn't feel like a heavy, winter skirt. Everything about it is just perfect for spring!

I wore this skirt to Easter brunch/my sister's birthday brunch at Spirits and Tales at The Oaklander Hotel. I'm so bummed I didn't take any pictures of the restaurant or the food - everything was so good! I feel like sometimes hotel restaurants can be just okay, but this one felt like a standalone restaurant - the menu was inventive, but not so far out that there you can't find something you like. Plus, the restaurant is up on the 10th floor, and has floor-to-ceiling windows - the views are really stunning! They also have a cute little terrace that I'm definitely excited to check out this summer.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Catching Up

I'm back! I didn't intend to take such an extended break - or any break at all, really - but life just got a little too busy for me to keep up with everything. The semester came to an end, which is really exciting, but I had a few things due all at the same time. When you add on work deadlines plus other things going on in my life, there just wasn't enough time! So I thought it would be fun to do a bit of a catch up on what's been going on.

I mentioned that my semester came to an end - I'm getting closer and closer to finishing my MPH! It looks like I only have one class left, plus my essay and practicum. It feels like I've been in grad school for as long as I can remember, so every time I can check something off the list of requirements, graduation seems just a little bit more real.
Everything else going on has mostly been just other fun, personal things! I went to go see the musical Come From Away at the Benedum, which was so incredible. I had heard that it was really good, but didn't really know what to expect, and was so blown away. It tells the story of 9/11, but it focuses on the people who were flying that day and had to be diverted to Canada since no planes were allowed to enter the US airspace. If you get the chance to see it, I really recommend you do. There's one more show left in my series subscription - Dear Evan Hansen, which I've been looking forward to since they announced it was coming over a year ago. It's been such a treat to see so many amazing shows this year.
I also got to see Jonathan Van Ness's Road to Beijing tour, which was a mix of gymnastics and comedy - I guess my new goal should be to see all of Queer Eye's Fab Five - and I went back to CMU to see a student-run performance of Mamma Mia! Lots of cultural events, all of which were really fun.
I also went to a cousin's baby shower, and went out to brunch for Easter. It was great to catch up with family and to celebrate the holiday, too. We brunched at Spirits and Tales, the restaurant in the new hotel in Oakland - The Oaklander. I've been watching the construction happen every day at work, so it only seemed fitting that I go to check it out. I actually haven't been going to too many restaurants lately (although I did make it back to Or, The Whale), so I was very appreciative of the great meal! There are a few other places that I have been meaning to check out, and I'm hoping to make that happen sooner rather than later.

I'm really looking forward to summer, and to things hopefully slowing down a little... or at least being busy in a different way. Summer is always my favorite season - the perfect mix of travel and relacing weekends at home. It finally seems like it's close, and I can't wait.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Style Revamp: What's on my Wishlist

I cleaned out my closet a few months ago, and it helped me be better for a while about not wearing the same things over and over again, but I think it's just about time for another clean out. I don't know if any of you get this way, but sometimes I just feel like there's nothing in my closet that I like! I think it's partially because I'm tired of wearing the same old winter clothes, but I think it's also partially that I'm refining my style.
I'm definitely not one of those capsule/minimalist wardrobe people - I do not want to narrow down my closet to a small selection that I have to creatively pair and re-pair to find new outfits. It's just not me! But I do like the idea of having a "style" that sort of defines me, and it's starting to come to me more naturally without me even trying. I just gravitate to a certain style - in the winter, it's a lot of leather leggings and jewel tone sweaters (cashmere is my favorite), and in the summer it's a lot of simple maxi dresses or other sundresses. I also love leopard print anytime, anywhere!

I tend to go for more classic things, but I like to have a little bit of edge (aka leather), too. I'm trying to add more color into my wardrobe, and some more interesting pieces - a fun pattern (but not floral), different material or style - something unique.

I'm trying to avoid doing too much online shopping to get me out of my clothing rut, but I am doing a lot of browsing. So you can scroll below to check out some of my picks!

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

Monday, April 8, 2019

Dealing When You're Overwhelmed

I think I'm basically writing this post as a reminder to myself, but I figured it was something that might be useful for you guys, too. These next few weeks are going to be a little bit crazy for me - a paper and a group project still stands between me and the end of the semester, there are lots of deadlines looming at work, and I have fun things going on, too! It's a lot, and when I start to think about it all, it starts to feel really overwhelming really quickly.
And when things get so overwhelming, it can get really hard to even know where to start. There's too much, and it can be really easy to not do anything at all instead. It's a vicious cycle - the more you don't do, the more you feel overwhelmed and don't know where to start!

I think I got better about dealing with this level of stress from my time at CMU - I basically felt like that all the time. So I've devised a sort of (very simple) system for moments like these. I make lists, and then I do my very best to not think about the bigger picture. I focus on each things on the list, one at a time. Doing one thing always seems doable... and then cross off the next, and the next, and the next. It sounds obvious, and I guess it kind of is, but it really helps me. Things start to feel a little bit less overwhelming when you can feel yourself making progress; chipping away little by little at the things that you need to get done.

The other important thing is to schedule in breaks, too, or you'll get burned out, really quickly. None of these things will get rid of stress entirely, but it does help me not get overwhelmed when I'm dealing with it. Which means this weekend, I may or may not have finished all of season two of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. It's all about balance, right?!

Friday, April 5, 2019

Friday Favorites

This week has been a bit of a blur... nothing crazy going on, just the usual work/school/etc. The end of the semester is coming up soon, which makes things a bit more stressful! I really have to plan ahead and make sure I'm using my time wisely so that I leave enough time to work on papers and group projects. Which is exactly why after a fun dinner tonight to celebrate a friend's birthday, I'm quarantining myself to get some serious work done.

Read on for this Friday's favorites!
ONE - Theranos Drama
Have you been following all of the stories and scandals about Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos? I had read the stories when they were in the news, but I decided to watch the HBO documetary and was really sucked in. I'm listening to the ABC podcast The Dropout now - loved both. I can't want to read the book next!

TWO - Your Eyes from Rent
How incredible is this performance?? Her voice is so strong and powerful - I wanted to watch this a million times.
THREE - My Interview with teli
I did an interview with the early learning institute (teli) - they were the organization that my parents worked with for me to receive my very first "intervention" services right after I was diagnosed! I was too young to remember, obviously, but it was fun to talk to them and to hear how things have changed. 

FOUR - Casting for To All the Boys Sequel
As if I wasn't already excited for the sequel for To All The Boys I've Loved Before, now I'm looking forward to it even more! Jordan Fisher was (in my mind) the breakout star from Grease Live, and he's been making big moves since. So excited to see him in this!

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Branching Out

This past year has been a year of tremendous change for me. In some ways, sometimes it feels like things are the same, but in many ways, I can't believe how many things are different. And I don't mean change in terms of just things that I'm involved in, but I mean it in terms of personal growth.
I don't know how effortless it may appear here (or on social media), but I promise you that it is anything but effortless. This year has been so much change, and so much pushing myself outside my comfort zone! I am an introvert by nature - it's not that I hate talking to people, but I definitely need my alone time to recharge. I've also never been particularly outgoing. This year has definitely challenged that perception! Being Ms. Wheelchair USA, starting Accessible YOUniverse, even blogging - all of those require talking to LOTS of people. I still may not be the most outgoing person in a room, but I've become so much more comfortable talking to strangers, whether it's in a group setting or one-on-one. I'm really proud of that progress!

This year has also taught me the importance of just TRYING things. I touched on this a bit in my post about hearing no (here), but I have spent this year saying yes to as many opportunities as I possibly can. Sometimes, these are things that are being pitched to me, but often, they're ideas that I've reached out to pitch to other people! Not only does this mean I have to be okay hearing no, it also means that I have to push myself to write that e-mail and share my idea. It can be hard to imagine where an opportunity will take you - sometimes a little thing can lead to bigger things, or can connect you with someone who can help share your story.

These changes haven't been easy - I have really pushed myself to grow, to keep trying something a little bit different more and more. It has not been comfortable, but I am so happy with where I have ended up.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Current Favorites

I thought about sharing my March favorites, since we're just into April, but I realized that my favorites weren't all from the month of March. Instead, I thought I'd round up some of my favorites from 2019 so far. I may have mentioned some of these before, but I thought it might be helpful to have them all in one place!
Drunk Elephant Products
I've been using the TLC Framboos exfoliant, the C-Firma serum, and the B-Hydra serum every single day, and I still really like them. My skin has been looking great, and I haven't had any breakouts or other reactions. The only thing that has changed is that I've started using the C-Firma at night instead of the morning, because it was making my skin too oily.

Ember Coffee Mug
I think this would probably make a yearly favorites post if I decided to write one! It has saved me many coffee reheats, and I love that my drink is always the perfect temperature.

Everlane Sweaters
Yes, I'm still wearing these sweaters at least once a week. Yes, I still can't get over how well they fit, and how nice the quality is. No, I will not stop talking about them. I just really, really highly recommend!

Trader Joe's Pancake Bread
Have any of you tried this yet?! I feel like it might become one of Trader Joe's cult favorites, like Cookie Butter or Everything but the Bagel seasoning. It's sweet, but not too sugary, and nails the pancake flavor. Delicious!

Cashmere Wrap
This is a great purchase for spring, when you sometimes just need a little something extra that you can take off if the sun gets too warm. This one is lightweight but not too thin, and goes with everything.
Mascara Primer

Naturalizer Heels
It's hard for me to find a pair of heels that fit comfortably. My ankles are really weak and tend to turn in really easily, so any heel that is too high becomes really painful really quickly. These Naturalizers have a small heel, which is the perfect height for me, and also come in a size 4! I love them so much I bought them in both black and silver.

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

Monday, April 1, 2019

Inclusive Innovation Summit 2019 Recap

What a weekend! This year's Inclusive Innovation Summit was a huge success, and I'm so glad that I got to be a part of it for the second year in a row.
I mentioned in this post from earlier this month that there would be another Silent Disco as part of the Summit. Just like last year, this was a huge success and so much fun. It really means a lot to me that this event has continued for the second year, and that everyone attending seems to really love it as much as I do! When we were planning it last year, we really wanted to focus on inclusiveness, and to highlight the disability community here in Pittsburgh in a "fun" light. So much of advocacy is challenging the status quo, and it can make people really uncomfortable. That doesn't bother me - change is never easy or smooth - but I think it's also important to show that inclusion doesn't always have to be difficult, and that's what the silent disco symbolizes to me.

This year, the silent disco was at the Children's Museum. We had the whole first floor, so we really had room to spread out! Each DJ station had their own stage, so that the vibrations on the stage matched the beats of the music. There were delicious (free!) tacos, and room to sit/stand and chat if you needed a break from dancing. It was such a great night!
I also had the opportunity to present one of the Saturday sessions during the Summit in an "official" capacity, representing Accessible YOUniverse. I guess it's a little bit of imposter syndrome, but it's still sometimes surprising to me that I have the authority to (co)lead a session, and that people trust and value what I have to say. I realize it might come off a little bit strange admitting that here, considering that you come here to see what I have to say (and considering that I have no problems sharing my opinions, ever), but it's the truth! The session focused on inclusion beyond the ADA, and how to plan with that in mind. The audience seemed interested and invested, and we had some great questions and discussions, which definitely helped to make me feel more confident. Public speaking is something that I've grown to actually enjoy - I've come to view it as another version of storytelling, just like this blog but in another form!

The best part of Inclusive Innovation, I think, is the conversations that it brings about. The concept of inclusion is vital, but it's also so broad that any conversation around it becomes almost too trite, and just includes the most obvious sorts of inclusion. But in my experience, this Summit aims to be as real as possible about inclusion. It makes me even more proud to be a part of such an important event.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Friday Favorites

I honestly cannot believe that March is just about over. This month has flown by - I'm hoping that April slows down a little bit, because I could definitely use a bit of a break.

While this weekend won't actually be much of a break, I am really excited for it! I cannot wait for the Silent Disco tonight, and I'm excited for my session at the Inclusive Innovation Summit tomorrow, too. The Summit is actually completely sold out, which is amazing. Hopefully Sunday I'm able to lay low a little!
I thought I'd share this funny picture! Simba and Lily both love to lay in my bed... but Lily is wary of laying too close to the cat! So this was her solution.

This week's favorites...

ONE - Shane West and Mandy Moore Reunite
A Walk to Remember is one of my all-time favorite movies. Mandy Moore got a star on the Walk of Fame this week, and Shane West came out to support her and gave her speech. I love everything about this, and may find the time to squeeze in a re-watch of A Walk to Remember this weekend!

TWO - Schitt's Creek Teaches Slang
Honestly, I love anything related to Schitt's Creek, and these two are hilarious. I couldn't stop laughing - Eugene Levy has such a great, dry sense of humor.

THREE - Venmo Stalking
It's not enough that we stalk people on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram - we also have Venmo, too! It feels a little bit like peeking through someone's bank account, but it's all public AND you get to see who they were hanging out with. This is exactly why my Venmo is set to private!

FOUR - Clueless Reunion
I guess this week's post is all about my favorite movies, because this is another! It's fun to watch the cast members reunite and joke around, and so crazy to think that the movie came out 20 years ago - I feel old!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Accessible YOUniverse Updates

I don't want to only share updates on my advocacy work here, but right now, my advocacy work and my life intertwine a lot. It's starting to be a bigger part of my life, and as exciting things happen, I want to be able to share them with all of you.
I mentioned this in Friday's post (here), but last week I got the chance to talk about Accessible YOUniverse and the article that I wrote for Public Source on 90.5 WESA, Pittsburgh's NPR radio station - you can listen here. This was so exciting for me - it really made me feel like people were starting to hear about what I've been working on. I've done some interviews before, after winning Ms. Wheelchair USA, but a live interview on the radio felt like something else altogether. When it's live, you can't really edit yourself or take too long to think about your words - you have the answer the questions as they come. I was a little bit nervous ahead of time, but it was so much fun! The host made me feel completely at ease, and honestly, the time flew by.

This might sound funny, but I think that the interview was so exciting because it made me feel legitimate, because people were actually hearing about and interested in the work I've been doing! Advocacy work can be challenging because there are so many no's, and it feels a lot like I'm shouting into a void; banging my head against a wall. So whenever people are interested in hearing more about my work, I take it as a really good, positive sign.

The other update is a reminder about the Inclusive Innovation Summit this week! Check out the event link here, and the Facebook link for the All-In Silent Disco here (and read about last year's here). It's Friday at 7 PM at the Children's Museum, and I would love for you all to come! It's an event focused on both inclusion and fun, and that's pretty rare. Accessible YOUniverse will also be holding a session on Saturday at 1:45 PM about going beyond the ADA for full inclusion. The Inclusive Innovation team has been so open to improving their accessibility, and the Summit is such a really such a great event. I hope to see you all there!

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Spring Dressing

I had a bridal shower to go to this weekend, and I always struggle on what to wear in this kind of weather. It was going to be a little bit warmer, but the temperature was starting off chillier before it warmed up. Not only does that transition make it hard, but I'm also just so tired of my winter clothes.
But I've learned that in situations like this, layers are key, and maxi dresses are always a good idea. There was a time - for a year or two! - that I totally refused to wear maxis. I thought that looked too young, and that I would look like a little kid playing dress up. Now, I basically live in maxis in the spring and fall! I definitely am careful about the kinds that I buy, though - nothing with a pattern that might look too young. I picked up this royal blue maxi recently from Nordstrom and I already know I'll be wearing it a lot this year! (Also, it's on sale until March 2 - I highly recommend!)

And since layering is key when the weather is so all over the place, I couldn't pass up the chance to wear this suede jacket again. I wasn't kidding when I said that I was obsessed with this - I now own it in three colors and have no regrets. It is the perfect layering piece, and it really goes with anything. I feel like it makes my outfits look a little more polished and sophisticated than they would otherwise. It turns a simple maxi dress into a real outfit, you know?

I know you're probably tired of hearing me talk about this jacket, but I don't buy new things weekly (and I don't think that most of you do, either). So when I buy something I love, I do try to wear it in different ways so that it becomes a real staple of my wardrobe.

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

Monday, March 25, 2019

Toasting to Life with MDA

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

Dress available here

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

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

Friday, March 22, 2019

Friday Favorites

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

On to the weekly favorites!

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Social Media Time Outs

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Lipstick Loves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 18, 2019

On Hearing No

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 15, 2019

Friday Favorites

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

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

This week's favorites...

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

In the Bright Mood

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Inclusive Innovation Summit 2019

You may recall me talking about Inclusive Innovation Week last year (this post, and this one). This year, it's coming back as a 3 day summit at the end of the month, and I'm so excited to tell you that Accessible YOUniverse is a sponsor of the Friday night Silent Disco, and will be presenting a session, on Saturday!
Image via
This Silent Disco is back and better than ever after being a huge success last year. This year it will be held at the Children's Museum, and will have the same vibrating backpacks and floor pads that allow people who are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing to join in on the fun. People with sensory needs should also feel welcome! Because the music is all controlled through the headphones you wear, you're in total control of the volume, and if it gets overwhelming, you can just take them off and take a break. We had such a fun time last year, and I'm so excited to do it again. Check out event info here!

I'm also really looking forward to the Saturday session that Accessible YOUniverse is holding. We'll be discussing the going beyond the ADA, and really thinking about how to include people with disabilities. I'll share more details as they become available, but it's shaping up to be a really great session. You can find the information for my session here.

My favorite part about the Summit is that they don't just talk the talk - they really put their words into action. They want their event to be as inclusive as possible, so they're providing free on-site childcare and transportation for all attendees. And they will have accessible (ACCESS) vehicles available for people with disabilities, too.

I hope I'll get to see some of you there! You can register here. I'm really looking forward to it!

Monday, March 11, 2019

A Weekend of R&R

This past few weeks have really tested me and my struggle with balance. I touched on it in this post, but it just happened that things in my professional life, personal life, and student life all converged with deadlines at the same time. I'm so excited and happy and proud about the opportunities that I've been given, but it has come with challenges, too. Namely, figuring out how to do everything that I want to do, see my friends, and also sleep.

What I've come to realize is that balance isn't about the day-to-day - it's about the longer term. So I took some time this weekend to try to even things out a bit. My weekend wasn't completely work-free (if it was, there wouldn't be a post for you to read!), but it was much more laid back and relaxed than usual.
I thought it'd be fun to share some of the things I do when I want to relax. Let me know your go-to things when you're in need of a little R and R.

Comfort Viewing
When I want to just chill and turn my mind off, I love watching a tried-and-true movie that I know I love. I don't have to think too hard, and I can just relax and enjoy. For me, my number one is The Devil Wears Prada. I love it and never get tired of seeing it!

Sleeping In
This is probably my absolute favorite thing to do on a relaxing weekend (or any weekend, really). There's nothing better than staying in a nice, warm, snuggly bed. I sleep in and then get up slowly - really enjoy every moment of relaxing in bed! It's the best.

A Little Reading
It's hard for me to find time to read for pleasure during the semester, but I really miss it, so when I want to take some time for myself I love to crack open a (digital) book. I loved Alyssa Mastromonaco's first book about her time working in the Obama White House, so as soon as I saw she had written another book, I knew I had to start reading ASAP.

Some Online Shopping
I realize this may not be the healthiest coping mechanism, but I do think that online shopping is a stress reliever! I have a really hard time finding heels that are comfortable (my ankles have contractures, which means they bend in really easily, and heels make it worse). But these Naturalizer ones are perfect - it's a really low heel, but the pointy toe keeps them from looking too much like a granny shoe!

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

Friday, March 8, 2019

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! This Sunday is what I (un)affectionately call "the worst day of the year" because we set the clocks back. I am excited for the extra hour of daylight, but i'm really not excited for the hour of sleep I'm going to lose. There aren't enough hours for sleep as it is!
This has been an exciting week for me on a few different fronts. First, I got my pictures back from the meet-and-greet with Karamo (I talked about it in this post), and I got to relive my excitement from meeting him all over again, which was fun. The other very exciting thing takes us into this week's favorites....

ONE - Accessibility in Pittsburgh
I wrote an article!! This has been in the works for a while now, and I'm so proud and excited that it's out there in the world. I am so appreciative of the reactions so far - it's been overwhelming how interested people seem to be! I'm very hopeful this helps keep accessibility in the cultural conversation moving forward.

TWO - Luke Perry
In college, I discovered Beverly Hills, 90210 reruns on SOAPnet, and was quickly obsessed. I've seen every episode many many times (Donna Martin graduates!) and of course had a huge crush on Dylan McKay/Luke Perry. I started watching Riverdale because he was in it! He passed away after a major stroke earlier this week, and I know I didn't know him, but it does feel weirdly surreal. Every single tribute and story about him talks about what an amazing person he was - he leaves behind a great legacy.

THREE - Second Cured HIV Case
Technically, the scientists are calling it long-term remission, but it's still really amazing. I love to learn about new advances in science and medicine. The potential for curing HIV is huge - this is really exciting.

FOUR - Queer Eye Season 3 Trailer
How could I not include this?! Can't wait to see what the third season brings - I love that the show seems to get deeper and deeper each season.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Drape Front Jacket

We've had a few days lately where I haven't needed to be completely bundled up to go outside for a few minutes. We're slowly inching closer to spring, and I am so excited to be able to spend more time outside and get some fresh air.

I've been wearing lots of drape front jackets recently, and I think they're perfect for this time of year. They add some warmth and layers, and I love what they add to the rest of my outfit - they really take it up a notch. It adds a polish to my look that a cardigan doesn't, and I think it looks a lot more sophisticated (but maybe that's just me). I especially love leather and suede jackets, because of the texture they add to my look (Stacy London always talks about color, texture, pattern, and shine!).

I have to be kind of careful when I'm picking out jackets like this - if I pick anything too restrictive or stiff, it's hard for me to use my arms. I have to look for jackets that aren't too stiff, and this BB Dakota one is the best I've found for me. But I've pulled together a few other options for people who don't need to worry so much about the range of movement of their arms! Check them out in the widget below. I love the color of the maroon/berry one!

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

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Taking On Too Much

I've written a few posts about knowing your limits, and balance, so I felt like in the interests of full disclosure, I needed to write this one, too. This is the flip side of those seemingly wise posts... it's what happens when you are trying to find balance, but aren't always successful.
These past few months have gone by so quickly for me, but mostly because I've been so busy. The class I'm taking this semester is really interesting, but it's also a lot of reading and work. Launching Accessible YOUniverse and trying to get a few events lined up to participate in have taken up any spare time I can find. And as we get closer and closer to July, I feel the countdown clock ticking until the end of my time as Ms. Wheelchair USA. I don't want to waste any of this time, or this opportunity, so I've really been saying yes to as much as I possibly can. And sometimes, I say yes to too much. It results in me writing posts (like this one) at 10:30 on a Saturday night. Or, it can mean I have to skip the Andrew McMahon concert I was really looking forward to, because after I made my to-do list for the weekend I realized there just weren't enough hours in the next two days to do it all!

I am still learning. I'm figuring out how to make time for everything that I'm interested in doing, and how to be okay with saying no to things I want to do but might not have time for. It's easy to say no to something you're not really interested in, but it's a lot harder to say no when it's an opportunity you feel like you might miss forever by turning it down.

At an event about civic engagement hosted by Pitt that I went to last week, the keynote speaker talked about the power of detours. I was hearing this only a few days after the missed concert, so it was especially poignant. Just as I'm still learning about balancing, I'm also still learning that sometimes, things going ways you didn't expect can actually be good. Something that seems like a missed opportunity now can actually just be a detour to something that's even better for you later on. And when I think back to my life a year ago, I definitely would never imaged that I'd be where I am now. There were definitely some detours involved, well off the beaten path, that got me to where I am today.

Especially with social media now, it's so easy for it to seem like everyone has everything figured out. Maybe it even seems like I have it all figured out! But I promise you, I don't, and I don't really think everyone else does, either. We're all learning as we go, and course correcting on our way there. Sometimes we succeed, and sometimes we fail - but as long as we're learning from our experiences, we're still moving ahead.