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.

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.

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.