Monday, March 30, 2020

The New Normal

I decided to take a few weeks off here because it just seemed like things were changing in the world so much, and so quickly, that I needed to take some space and time. But I'm back now!
I can't believe that my last post was about how busy my month was going to be, because just days after I wrote that, everything just kind of... disappeared. No more shows, no more weekends at my leadership program - I even had to miss my friend's bridal shower. I was only two weeks into my new job when we switched into working from home for the foreseeable future.

One of the major impacts that SMA has on my body is a very weak respiratory system - even at my best, my lung capacity is much, much less than someone without SMA. So if I got a severe case of COVID-19, it could be incredibly dangerous for me. Also, studying and working in public health, I understand the scale of the pandemic that we're in. I know how terrible it could be if we don't stay at home, and we overwhelm the healthcare system with cases all at the same time - it could be catastrophic. All of this is to say that I'm taking the current situation incredibly seriously. I'm staying home - we're having all of our groceries delivered, limiting our take-out food, and I've even given up my Starbucks cappuccinos. The farthest that I've gone is for a walk around my neighborhood, where I haven't come less than six feet (really, probably less than ten feet!) from another person outside my family. I think it's really, really important that we all take this seriously NOW, to keep it from being worse later.

In many ways, I'm very lucky. My job is safe, I'm not cramped in a small apartment, I have a yard and a deck to get some fresh air, I'm in self-quarantine with my family and my dog and cats, and I have access to almost every streaming service available (and I've been taking advantage, too). And I have some amazing friends and family who have offered to drop off things that we need.

But it's still weird, and strange, and unsettling, because there's so much uncertainty. Honestly, I don't mind being "cooped up" that much, because I'm cooped up with a lot of space. But there's no way of knowing how long this is going to last. It's strange to think that, for now, this is the new normal. And I think it's okay to take some time to adjust to the new normal, and to allow yourself to take that time.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

March Madness

I think that part of the reason that January seemed to go so quickly for me is that I knew March was going to be particularly crazy for me. I always have this thing where I see events that I'm really excited for, buy the tickets/commit, and then don't realize what it will do to my schedule! When I enter them all into my Google calendar, though, it becomes clear quickly how packed things actually are.
Now, I'm not complaining - these are all things that I'm excited for! But I think the anticipation, both in a good and bad way, of March made February really seem to fly by. It's here now, though, and I thought I'd share a little peek into my life for the month.

Quick note, though... I wrote this post over the weekend, when I was less nervous about the Coronavirus. Life with SMA means that I have to be more cautious that someone who doesn't live with a condition that affects their lungs. All of this is to say that now, all of my plans are really up in the air. I'm trying to balance living my life with being safe and cautious, and it's a struggle (and very anxiety-inducing, too).

This past weekend was actually one where I had no plans, which I did on purpose once I realized what the rest of my month looked like! Everything really starts this coming weekend, when I have tickets to see the The Band's Visit when the tour makes its stop at The Benedum on the 14th. I have been looking forward to this show since I saw it perform on the Tony Awards a few years ago, so I'm excited that it's finally here. And to close out my weekend, I get to celebrate one of my best friends at her bridal shower! I'm so excited for her and for all things related to her wedding.

The weekend may end, but my plans do not, because I have tickets to go to the Series Announcement from the Cultural Trust on the 16th. This is their annual event where season ticket subscribers are invited to the Benedum, where they announce each show in next year's subscription, usually with some type of little performance, live or recorded, from each show. I went two years ago and it was so much fun, so I'm really looking forward to going back!

This next weekend is when things really start to get hectic. On the 20th, I have tickets to see Mandy Moore!! I have probably watched A Walk to Remember at least 50 times, so I cannot wait to hear her perform live. I have to brush up on her new album before I go, though! On both Saturday and Sunday, all day, I have my training for the New Leaders Council. I've been participating in this since January, one weekend per month, and it's such a great opportunity to grow my leadership skills and meet like-minded, passionate people. I actually have to leave training early on the 21st, because I'm being named as a Distinguished Highlander from my high school at their Gala! It's such an incredible honor, and it will be fun to go back "to my roots."

The final event on my calendar for the month (for now... ) is the MDA of Southwestern PA's Toast to Life Gala on the 26th. I went last year (you can read about it here), and I'm so happy that they invited me back again this year. We were really involved with the MDA when my sister and I were younger, so it's nice to be involved again as adults.

Whew! All in all, one of my busier months, especially knowing that hanging over my head is the fact that I have to finish my essay for my MPH this month. Busy months like this are always a little bit of a mixed bag for me. I'm so excited about all of the fun things that I have planned, but I also know that having SMA means I get tired (physically) easily and I really do need my sleep. So here's to hoping that things go smoothly and it's just the right amount of fun and plans!

Monday, March 9, 2020

Spring Ahead

I know that I'm supposed to be excited about the time change this weekend, because it means more hours of sunlight... but it also means I got one less hour of sleep. And as much as I love the sunshine, I really, really love my sleep. So while I'm looking forward to brighter days, I need a little bit of convincing that I'm actually happy about it. So as usual, I'm turning to my wardrobe! I want allll of the bright things to remind myself that sunnier, brighter days are ahead.

With that in mind, here are some bright things that I have my eye on for the months ahead.
Green Ruffle Wrap Front Dress
I could wear this to work, or to brunch on the weekend. I love the very subtle print, plus the ruffles and the wrap front details.

Red Handkerchief Hem Dress
The hem of this dress is so fun, and the belt adds a little extra something to it, too. It would definitely still work with tights in chillier temperatures.

Pink Pleated Skirt
I'm really into pleated midi skirts right now! I like how this one almost looks striped, depending on how you look at it.

Pink T-Shirt
I'm not usually a t-shirt person, but this looks really cool. They call it reverse printed, and while I'm not exactly sure what that means, I love the end result.

Green Off-the-Shoulder Dress
This is probably the most "me" of all the options. I love the color, I love the off-the-shoulder neckline, I love the eyelet - I just love it all!

Red Linen Dress
I have absolutely nothing like this dress, but I think I like it! It looks so chic and simple, and so perfect for spring.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Friday Favorites

What a week - this one really flew by. I had the chance to attend State Representative Dan Miller's Mental Health and Disability Summit on Tuesday, which was the highlight of my week. Because this year is the 30th anniversary of the signing of the ADA, the Summit was really expanded and was held downtown at the Convention Center. I'm always excited to see so many people gather to discuss mental health and disability issues. I also had the chance to be on a panel that spoke to a large group of high school students from the area, all of whom had disabilities. When I was in high school, I barely knew any other people with disabilities, so giving the students the chance to connect with and see other students with disabilities is just so important. Plus, I got to say hi to a few students from my own high school, which was a trip down memory lane.
This picture is from the legislative panel, where politicians from both sides of the aisle gathered to hear testimony about a number of pre-selected disability and mental health issues. It felt really significant that so many elected officials made the time to be there and learn more.

Okay now that I've run my mouth (fingers?) about that, let's move on to the favorites.

ONE - Love is Blind Reunion
Starting with the silliest - have you been watching Love is Blind on Netflix?! If you have not, you should start immediately - it's great reality TV. And then once you're done, watch the reunion on YouTube! What's crazy is that the show filmed in 2018, so quite a bit of time has passed between the show ending and the reunion.

TWO - Barbie's Dreamhouse is ADA Compliant
This is something that I would have absolutely loved to own when I was growing pup! Mattel is updating their Barbie Dreamhouse, plus their camper, and anything else they decide, so that they're all wheelchair accessible. They even hired a consultant to make sure their designs were ADA compliant. Barbie is such a big brand - this is a huge change for representation of disability!

THREE - Advice from Therapists
Teen Vogue has compiled this great article about the best advice that people have gotten from their therapist. It's really interesting to read the different advice, and also the universality of a lot of it, and then to hear the issues that people are struggling with. So much of it is really relatable.

FOUR - Coronavirus Advice
Some more advice, but slightly more practical this time. A physician shares her best, real-life advice for dealing with the spread of cononavirus - namely, wash your hands and don't buy out all of the masks.

FIVE - Judith Heumann on The Daily Show
I saved the best for last! Judith Heumann, an iconic disability rights advocate, was a guest on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah this week!! This is the first time that I can remember, EVER,  a disability advocate being on a late-night show to talk about their work. It means so much, and I'm so excited to see her being honored for the incredible work that she's done.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020


I mentioned in my last Friday Favorites post (here) that I was starting a new job this week. Now obviously, it's too soon to actually talk about my new job - I'm still settling in - but this whole thing has made me introspective and nostalgic, in a way, so I wanted to talk about it.
My previous job was my first "real" job ever - my first full-time job after graduating college. That means that I spent almost 10 years in that position! Now, of course, the job responsibilities themselves had shifted and changed and grown over those years, but the people that I was working with stayed largely the same. While my work itself could definitely be challenging, I was mostly comfortable on the whole. Comfortable with my job, with the people I worked with, with what the job would be.

Comfortable can be good, but it's also easy to get stuck, and to be too comfortable. A new job is the absolute opposite. There's absolutely no comfort at all - everything is new, and unknown. And while it's exciting... it's also kind of terrifying. I've only ever worked with one supervisor - I have to learn how a new department works, new responsibilities of a position.... new everything! Everything is so unknown, it's such a giant question mark looming over my head all the time, and it can feel like a lot.

For me, changes, especially big ones like a new job, are always full of excitement but always tinged with a little bit of fear. It can be so hard to push yourself outside of your comfort zone, to be okay living in that fear and that questioning of the unknown for a while until you find your footing again. But I also know that the super cliche statement about the best things lying outside of your comfort zone is one thousand percent true. Obviously, there's something appealing about the comfort zone (hence it being called comfortable...), but I don't want my whole life to just be comfortable. I want to be able to change and grow, and to do that I have to push myself.

A lot of the things that I've done in the last few years have been pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. And I know that I've grown so much during that time - I'm doing things now that I never really even imagined I'd be doing. So now, when I get nervous about a change, as I inevitably do, I remind myself about all the good things that have come from me doing things that I was a little bit afraid of.

I remember reading once that fear and excitement elicit the same biological response - it's the feelings that you associate with that response that makes you feel one vs. the other. You can actually shift your own emotions by focusing on the positives rather than the negatives, and letting the excitement frow over the fear. Isn't that cool??

This time, instead of the fear, I want to choose excitement. So instead of saying that I'm nervous about my new job, I'm going to be excited about the new opportunities that it will bring!

Monday, March 2, 2020

Spring Stripes

Now that it's March, I've decided that I'm going to convince myself that spring is on the way, whether or not that's true. To me, that means no more need to wear tights, no more heavy jackets or layers, and lots of bright colors to make up for the dreary, overcast skies that I've been seeing almost every day.
So naturally, this dress from Banana Republic was right up my alley. It's technically a midi dress, but of course it's a bit longer than a standard midi on me, which I actually really like. I'm obsessed with the colors - they're so bright and vibrant, but not in a young, childish way. I think the colors are actually a tiny bit darker than they appear online, and they just look really good together. Maybe I like it because growing up, I had a pink and purple Barbie wheelchair? But whatever the reason, the colors and the stripes/colorblocking just look really great together.

I also love the material and fit of the dress - it's a sweater dress, but because of the pleats that run all around the dress, it's a little bit stretchy, too. Sometimes, dresses that are just straight/shift dresses don't look good on me because I'm always sitting, but because this one has give to it, it lays perfectly. And it's so comfortable - it's not a "fuzzy" sweater texture, but it's still soft, and has some weight to it, too. I'm wearing the XXS petite size, but it's sold in regular sizes, too.

You know how sometimes you just feel so good in a dress that it makes you feel extra confident? That's what this dress does for me. I'm basically trying to keep myself from wearing it everywhere, all the time. I already have it in mind for a few special events coming up... so don't be surprised if it pops up again!

Oh, and bonus - it's already on sale, and there's an extra 40% off through the end of the day, no promo code needed!