Wednesday, April 29, 2020

My Favorite Non-Adaptive Adaptive Products

Since I've been spending quite a bit of time at home lately (ha!), I've been noticing how many things I have that I use daily that aren't technically "adaptive" products, but that I use that way. If you're not someone who uses adaptive things and don't really know what they are - basically, they're products that have been designed to make every day tasks easier for people with disabilities in some way. They can be high tech, or low tech - think weighted silverware for someone with Parkinson's, so that their silverware doesn't shake if their hand does.

Most of the adaptive things that I personally use, though, are not designed as adaptive products. They're just things that have been designed to make everyone's lives easier or better in some way, and just have the added benefit of making mine even more so. And just like the "official" adaptive products, they span from low tech to high tech, and they're probably things that many of you use, too. I'm sharing them both so that people with disabilities can find something new to add to their lives, and so that people without disabilities think about other ways these things can be used!
Super Lightweight Glass Mugs
It is no secret that I am coffee-obsessed. And while I have quite the collection of coffee mugs - cute ones, souvenir ones, gifts - I can't actually use most of them, because the weight of the mug plus the coffee in it is too heavy for me to lift to my mouth, even with the straw that I always use. Finding these glass mugs on Amazon have been truly life changing. I don't think I've used more than one or two disposable coffee cups since I've gotten these!

Everyone I know who has one loves their Echo. You can listen to music, ask the weather, hear the news, even listen to audiobooks! But for me, it really opens up so many possibilities with the different smart home devices it talks to. Smart lightbulbs (more on these in a minute), smart plugs - so many things that I can turn on and off now that I wouldn't be able to reach otherwise. Plus, since it can also make phone calls, I think of it as an extra safety measure in case I drop my phone.

Hue Lightbulbs
Of all of the smart home things that work with my Echo, these are my favorite. You don't need the Echo to use these - there's also a phone app that you can use independently. Turning on and off the lights is such a basic thing, but I used to have to install a separate handheld remote for each and every light/lamp in my bedroom so that I can control them myself - these smart bulbs are way easier. I also love that you can set them on a timer - I have them set to start to (slowly, gradually) turn on 30 minutes before I wake up, so that it's like my own personal sunrise!

Automatic Pan Stirrer
I found this during an Instagram scroll session, and I'm so glad that I did. It's a little device that stirs things automatically for you in a pan! When you turn it on, it rotates around the pan, stirring whatever you're cooking - a sauce, onions, etc. No more need to stand and stir and watch! And since I can't physically stir, it's even better.

Dry Shampoo
If you're a woman reading this, you're probably thinking that this is, in no way, an adaptive product - this is a staple for women everywhere. And while you wouldn't be wrong, I'd argue it's even more of a staple for me! I obviously can't just hop in the shower, so washing my hair is something that I have to schedule, and that takes more time for me than for the "average" person. So dry shampoo is key! I love Drybar's dry shampoo, but my current favorite is this Ouai Super Dry Shampoo - it lives up to it's name.

iPad and eBooks
I love to read, and there's a part of me that loves physical copies of books (I have a collection of signed books that I'm really proud of). But in terms of the act of actually reading, eBooks are SO much easier for me physically - to hold and balance and maneuver. They also save me lots of space when packing for vacations - I used to bring at least 10 books with me for car trips as a kid! I use an iPad and the Nook app, but any of the eBook readers make things much simpler.

Monday, April 27, 2020

What I've Been Reading

I finally have another reading update for you. As much as I truly love to read, it took me a while into the quarantine before I found my reading groove again. I just found it hard, at first, to really concentrate on reading - it was hard for a book to really keep my attention. Watching Netflix was just so much easier, and didn't require me to really focus on anything.

But I'm back now, and I have about 7 other books waiting to be read on my iPad. So this list might be a bit short, but hopefully the next makes up for it.
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
I got this recommendation from a Twitter thread of another author that I like, and I'm so glad that I stumbled on it. It's loosely based on the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme story, but you could still love the book even if you know nothing about Madoff. It follows a few different characters over different years, and they're all so captivating. It's really great - not necessarily an uplifting read, but great nonetheless.

She Regrets Nothing by Andrea Dunlop
This was a lighter read, which was exactly what I needed. I read a description somewhere where it was compared to the love child of Gossip Girl and Crazy Rich Asians, and that's pretty accurate. It was a fun escape to read all about the glitz and glamour of a wealthy New York City right now, when my own life is anything but.

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Another fantastic pick from Reese Witherspoon's Sunshine Book Club - there have been so few books from her list that I haven't ended up enjoying. This novel looks into race, and class/privilege, and is so compelling and really draws you in.

A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende
Isabel Allende is one of my absolute favorite authors. She tells stories so beautifully, and I am always so invested in her characters and their lives and stories. In this book, she followed a family across years and countries, in an attempt to find home, and showed how people's lives change and intertwine in ways that you might not have expected.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Friday Favorites

Another week in the books. I haven't been counting the number of weeks in quarantine - I feel like having a ticking clock like that would only make me more anxious - so I feel like I'm kind of losing track of time. This weekend would have been my commencement ceremony for the MPH... but instead, I have a very low-key weekend planned with only some Disney trivia held by the local library on my agenda!
 This past weekend, I had my first virtual version of my leadership training program - it was nice to "see" everyone again via Zoom! For someone who would have never gone to something like this sans makeup and with my hair pulled up, I've gotten very comfortable with the natural version of me in all things virtual.

Moving on to this week's favorites.

ONE - Ways You Can Help
I shared my thoughts on what you can do to help during the pandemic in this post, here. The New York Times did a nice round up of different ways you can help, too - giving blood, donating money, and more.

TWO - Pants or No Pants
I just thought this was hilarious because it's so accurate - and goes along so well with what I said about being very comfortable with the natural version of me, ha!

THREE - These Candles
I came across these candles and just thought they looked so pretty, and the scent descriptions look amazing! If you're looking for something to send as a Mother's Day gift, these seem like a perfect choice.

FOUR - Washing Your Produce
There are so many questions right now about the "right" way to disinfect groceries when they come into our homes. This seemed like a straightforward, logical way to clean your fresh produce, written by someone who does it often.

FIVE - Shoshana Bean and Ariana Grande
Yes - Shoshana Bean and Ariana Grande are teaming up for a virtual benefit concert on April 27th. Seeing Shoshana live was actually one of the last things that I did before the quarantine started, so this is absolutely on my calendar and I cannot wait!

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Sephora Sale: Skincare Edition

One of the upsides of this whole self-quarantine thing is that I have stopped bothering to wear makeup. I'm not usually a heavy makeup wearer, but I'm not a no-makeup person, either. And it's not that it takes that long, but I definitely haven't missed putting it on each morning and taking it off each night, knowing that I'm just going to be sitting in my house.

Which means that I've also been using this time to really focus on my skincare - I figure that if I'm not wearing makeup, I should try to take advantage of my skin being "free"! So I've been making sure to stick to my routine, and not get lazy about washing my face just because I'm not wearing makeup. My skincare routine also feels like something that I can control, when so much right now is so very uncontrollable.

Sephora's semi-annual sale started at the end of last week for VIB Rouge members (the highest tier of their rewards program), and continues this week for VIB Insiders, followed by VIB members - you use the code SPRINGSAVE for either 20%, 15%, or 10% off, depending on your reward program tier. Since I'm not wearing makeup right now, I'm taking advantage of the sale to stock up on my favorite skincare products, which I'm sharing below. I should note - it's a little heavy on Drunk Elephant products, but it's because I think that they're great products and I use them daily.

ONE - Drunk Elephant TLC Sukari Babyfacial
Before this face mask, I basically only used clay masks to help with oil control. But I got a free sample of this mask and tried it, and it really WORKS. It's probably best for someone who has used chemical exfoliants before, because it's not exactly gentle. But it really helps with skin texture, and isn't overly harsh on my skin.

TWO - Acne Healing Dots
I love this little things for helping keep acne from getting too out of control. If anything, it keeps you from touching the spot, which is key! I know they say that you can wear them during the day, but I just wear them overnight to let it do its thing while I'm asleep.

THREE - Drunk Elephant TLC Framboos Exfoliant
I use this every single day, and I think that it's been really effective in helping to keep my skin clear. It's a mix of different chemical exfoliants, which means that it helps with both the surface of the skin and underneath, in the pores. It's just an all-around great product, and while it's definitely pricey, it's worth it to me. I'd much rather spend a little more on products that work than waste money on ones that don't.

FOUR - LUNA Mini Facial Cleanser
I love this device for helping to really get my skin clean without being too rough on it or stripping it. It's made of silicone, rather than typical brush bristles, so you don't have to worry about it getting gross or needing to be replaced. It's nice and gentle on my face, but really does get the oil off and make my face feel fully cleansed, with no layer of residue or anything left on it. I even travel with it!

FIVE - Drunk Elephant TLC Happi Scalp Scrub
So this is basically the scalp/body version of the exfoliant I mentioned above. It's a new product, and I think it's such a great idea. My hair gets oily quickly because my skin itself gets oily, and when I use dry shampoo it definitely leaves residue on my hair. So I'm excited that Drunk Elephant introduced a product to help with these issues, without being too stripping on the hair like some clarifying shampoos are.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Settling in to the New Normal

For me, the first few weeks under the stay-at-home orders were just about adjusting. We've had to adjust in so many ways - of course, there's the logistical or physical adjustment we've made of cancelled plans, of working from home, of not leaving the house unless it's for something truly essential, if at all.  But there's also the more emotional aspect of it. As much as I'm an introvert by nature, I still live my life based around making so many plans - meetings to go to, friends to visit, shows to see. But that all got put on pause - almost all at once - and it was a strange, surreal new reality that took me some time to get used to.
I always knew that this wasn't likely to be a short-term change, but that was somewhere deep in my mind that didn't seem quite real. But now that a few weeks have passed, I've come to accept the reality in a bit of a more "real" way, for lack of a better term. I'm not focusing on the countdown of when we can go "back to normal," because normal is going to look different once we're back to it. Instead, I'm learning to be happy in our new normal, whatever that may look like. I don't want to try to recreate my "old" life, but rather find a version of it that works for me now.

For me, that means working during the day, close to normal daytime hours. It means watching some of my favorites on Netflix - Gilmore Girls, The West Wing - as "comfort" TV. FaceTiming with my friend and getting to know her toddler through a screen instead of in person. (He points at her phone and says his version of my name to tell her he wants to talk to me! It's so cute.) I'm making some kind of general routine for my days, but not making it too structured, either.

Basically, I think we should settle in to this new normal, while it lasts, however best we can. If you're someone that deals with these times best by doing - by volunteering, but picking up a hobby, but learning a new skill - that's wonderful. But I don't think we all need to expect that we'll all be more productive, skilled people as a result of this pandemic. This is - truly - an unprecedented time. So if your version of settling in to this normal means spending extra time watching Netflix, go for it. I don't think we need to feel pressured to act in any certain way. It's becoming more clear that we're going to be living in some version of this new normal for the long haul - we need to deal with it in whatever way works best for us!

But still - I think it's so important to remember that this will pass - that there is an end in sight, even if we can't tell right now. Having that hope - that light at the end of the tunnel - is so important for us all.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Friday Favorites

Another week down! I feel like I'm pretty solidly into the self-quarantining groove, and I continue to feel incredibly grateful about the fact that I can work from home without any issues, and that I'm healthy. My anxiety has been much lower than it was at the beginning of the stay-at-home orders, and I'm grateful about that, too.
One of my Instagram SMA friends, Alyssa, made this incredible illustration of Lily for me. Isn't it the cutest?! I highly recommend following here on Instagram (here), and also telling her that you think she should open an Etsy shop with her digital drawings!

Honestly, not much else to report! My week has been pretty low-key. I hope that you're all staying safe and healthy too, and staying home if you can. Now, onto the favorites.

ONE - Zoom Revival
Before Zoom was what it is now, it was two things to me - 1, a key lyric in the chorus of Supernova Girl, from Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century, and 2, a TV show staple of my childhood - and also a key lyric in the theme song of that show. It's been off the air for quite a while, but they're bringing it back, and of course, they're doing it via Zoom! Can't think of anything more fitting. I know that it's a kids show, but I might tune in for a bit for nostalgia.

TWO - Laura Benanti Covers Sucker
Laura Benanti is one of my favorite Broadway singers/actresses - I'm pretty sure that I've shared a video or two of her before. Because her album release has been delayed, she's sharing this video tribute, and the proceeds of all sales of the single itself will go towards Food Corps, which connects kids to healthy food. I think you should buy the single, too, but the video is definitely worth a watch.

THREE - Stirr Automatic Stirrer
I shared this on my Instagram stories earlier this week and everyone seemed to love it, so I thought that I'd share it here, too. It's a super cool device that you can use when you're cooking - it stirs things for you! I think it's great as an adaptive device, but it's not technically meant as one, and honestly I think that anyone would love it.

FOUR - Dealing with Coronavirus Disappointment
With so many things being cancelled or postponed while we're under stay-at-home orders, it's inevitable that there are things that each of us will be disappointed to miss - some larger than others. I know people who have had to cancel weddings, my MPH graduation will be a virtual affair, and a few of my friends (and my sister) will be celebrating their birthdays with much less pomp than usual. This article talks about accepting, and dealing with, the disappointment that we're all facing.

FIVE - Phantom of the Opera on YouTube
Andrew Lloyd Webber's next free YouTube offering is Phantom of the Opera (the stage show, not the movie) - it will open today at 2:00 PM! I've loved watching the shows he's put up for free so far, and am excited to watch this one this weekend, too.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Cozy Clothes

I know that one of the first things that people say you should do if you're working from home is to get up and get dressed, just like you would if you were going to work in an office. I get it, but that will never be me. Every time I watch a TV show, I can't believe that there are people who hang out wearing clothes in their own houses. I am firmly on #TeamPJs. Especially since I'm sitting all the time - the thought of wearing jeans that are digging into my waistband all day is not something that I'm remotely interested in.

However, now that I'm working from home every day, I'm also understanding that in some cases, I want something in between pajamas and "real clothes." Because my Gap pajamas might be cute and cozy, but it's not quite the right look for a Zoom call with my supervisor and coworkers.

I've never really been a t-shirt person - the usually don't fit me right, and are either too loose and baggy or too tight on my feeding tube. But I immediately set out to search (online, of course!) for the perfect working from home, lounging in t-shirt. Something soft, and stretchy, and definitely not tight... but something that also wouldn't look sloppy if I had a video call. So basically, something that feels like pajamas, but isn't. And also, something not too expensive, because I probably won't be wearing this much outside my house.

I found these lounge t-shirts from Nordstrom, and they fit all my requirements perfectly. They are lightweight, and SO soft and comfortable, but definitely looks more like I'm wearing a shirt rather than pajamas. And I think if you wanted, you could totally wear them out in the "real world" when we're able to do that again. I bought the black and the blue versions, but I'm tempted to get the pink one, too - especially since it's only $20.

If you do decide to pick one up for yourself, the only thing I will note is to be patient with shipping! Understand that the delay means that Nordstrom has procedures in place to keep their warehouse workers protected. Maybe this pandemic will be what it takes for me (and the rest of the world) to work on our patience.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Ways You Can Help

I think that a lot of us feel helpless right now. It's hard to understand the scale of the pandemic that we're in the midst of, and so hard to grapple with the immense uncertainty - we don't know how long this will last, and how long we'll remain quarantined in our homes.

It's hard to feel like there's much that most of us can do right now, since we're essentially homebound. But as a Pittsburgh native, the first thing that springs to my mind when any type of disaster strikes is Mr. Rogers' missive to "look for the helpers" at times like this. And I firmly believe that there are things that each of us can do.
ONE - Stay Home
This is really the most important thing that you can do to help. If it's at all possible, STAY HOME. Really limit your trips out, and only go out for necessities. I know that we haven't been hit "hard" yet in Pittsburgh, but that doesn't mean that we should get complacent and start going out again. I know it's not possible for everyone to stay home, but if you are able to, you should.

TWO - Make and Donate Masks
First - if you have any N95 masks (sometimes people buy them when they're doing home repairs), donate them to your local healthcare facilities! Each city has different requirements and instructions - here in Pittsburgh, you can visit PPE Connect PGH here to donate any that you have. And if you don't have any, you can still help by sewing cloth masks! There are lots of different patterns for the masks online, and again, the way to donate varies by city. Operation Face Mask Pittsburgh here is a great resource - he can volunteer to make or distribute masks, and you can donate money if you're not crafty.

THREE - Donate Food
Something that I love is that restaurants are allowing you to buy meals to donate to hospitals and other frontline workers. You just pay and indicate where you want the food to go, and the restaurant handles the delivery and logistics. It's a great way to show support of people risking their lives to keep others healthy, and to also support local restaurants while they're closed for dine-in business. I'm not sure of every restaurant doing this in Pittsburgh, but I know that Senti is - here (Adopt a Healthcare Worker). Or you can donate to Feeding the Frontline Pgh here and they'll take care of the ordering and delivery.

FOUR - Check in With Your Friends, Family, and Neighbors
We've been incredible lucky, and have had friends and family who have been checking in this whole time and offering to pick up things for us that are almost impossible to order for delivery (ahem, paper towels and toilet paper). Help out by checking in with people in your life who might not be able to do even a once-weekly grocery run. If you can, check in on your friends, your family members, your neighbors, and ask them if there's anything that you can do to help. Sometimes it really is the little things.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Friday Favorites

Another week of self-quarantine in the books. It feels like I'm a little more settled into this new reality - I have my work-from-home routine down, I'm getting outside every day that the weather allows, and I'm just a bit calmer, overall. It still feels very surreal - Pennsylvania just formally announced that schools are closed for the rest of this school year, which is not unexpected at all but still just makes it a bit more real that this isn't ending soon.
I will say, I think that Lily is very, very happy with this new situation where we're at home all day. She's getting more walks, more time out in the yard, and more attention (her favorite thing). And I have been loving the extra puppy snuggles at the end of the day, too.

Now, on to the favorites.

ONE - Schitt's Creek Behind-the-Scenes
If you haven't started watching Schitt's Creek yet, now is the perfect time. It is such a feel-good, uplifting show, and I love that they decided to end the show on their terms and their time, even though I was sad to see it go. One of the actresses shared some behind-the-scenes tidbits about the finale and what it was like working on the show.

TWO - Wearing Masks
Now that it's recommended that we all wear masks when out in public, I've seen lots of different guides for making your own fabric masks. Teen Vogue has a great compilation of different ways to make masks in their article here, if you're talented enough at sewing and have fabric/elastic. If you're not crafty (like me), you can buy one here and support a good company, too.

THREE - The Zoom Where it Happened
This is THE CUTEST. John Krasinski gathered together many of the original stars of Hamilton to sing the opening song of the show over Zoom for a girl who had to miss seeing the show because of the pandemic. It was so sweet, and such an incredible surprise.

FOUR - Grieving the Pandemic
I know there's lots of talk/articles out there about how to be productive at home. And of course, I think it's important to do work at home, for those of us who are able to. But I think it's also important to be kind to ourselves, and understand that this is not a normal time. We shouldn't expect to feel normal, and we should allow ourselves to feel however we feel. If it feels better to watch "mindless" TV rather than read, it's fine - don't force yourself.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

My 500th Post

It feels kind of weird to be celebrating anything right now, but I figure that I should focus on any positive thing that I can. And I guess talking about writing 500 posts isn't exactly celebrating - but it does feel like a huge milestone that I want to acknowledge!
Writing this blog was something that I did kind of on a whim, after a summer conversation on my deck with a friend. I had toyed around with the idea before, but after that conversation, decided that I should just... do it. I didn't really know what I was doing, and I still feel that way a lot of the time. So it's a little hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that I've written 500 posts here - I could never have even imagined writing that many posts that day on the porch.

Sometimes I'm so excited to sit down and write, and have so many thoughts that I want to share... and sometimes I sit here, wracking my brain to come up with something that I think other people would be interested in reading. I think that's going to get even more interesting in the next few weeks/months - there definitely won't be any sharing of places I went, or things that I went out and did. But I'm kind of excited to come up with things to write about now, and think (and hope!) that more people will be reading blogs now that our lives are centered around our houses.

I also think that this pandemic is going to change the world and the way that we live our lives when this is over. I'm not a journaler, so this is the closest that I'm going to come to capturing what it's like right now, and how things change. Living through this is going to change us. And I don't just mean the immediate things - the willingness to make plans and see people, to make up for what we've been missing out on - but I think it's going to have a larger-scale impact than that. I just don't think we can live through something this major and then immediately go back to our lives like they were before. So I'm glad to be documenting it in some way.

So here's to the first 500 posts, and hopefully, the next 500, too. I continue to be so honored that you're here, along for this ride with me!

Monday, April 6, 2020

Workng from Home Tips

I've always wanted the flexibility to be able to work from home occasionally. I know that it's a common perk of lots of jobs these days, but for me, it's a little more than that. So many people with disabilities look for jobs that have at least some ability to work from home, because it can make things so much easier. I've written before about how I'm already tired by the time I get to work, because of how long it takes just to get ready. Being able to work from home simplifies a lot of that.

When I was interviewing for my new job, I made sure that I'd have the option to work from home at times. I definitely did not expect things to turn out like they did, though - I had been working in the new position for less than a month before everything changed, and we were all sent to work from home for the foreseeable future.
Not only am I working from home now, but my mom, dad, and sister also are, too. And I didn't have any real work space set up - I have a desk in my room, but it is... kind of a mess, and working there didn't really make me feel like I was "at work." So it took some time to figure out the best way to make working at home work for me. It's been a few weeks now, and I feel like I've got my routine figured out now.

Now, to be clear - this is what works for me. I know that my work-from-home routine won't work for everyone! But I thought I'd share what I have found, in case it helps out anyone else who is new to working from home, too.

Create a Work Space
Like I mentioned, this has been key for me. Working from my room just didn't feel different enough - I found out that I really needed a separate space. So I have taken over a room in our basement and made it into my "office." All that really means is that I bought a desk from Amazon - since this isn't going to permanently become an office space, I bought a desk that could fold up and be put away easily when I'm not using it. It's actually a really nice size, and I even have room for a second monitor on it.

Have Some Sort of Schedule
I don't think that your schedule needs to be the same as it was if you were going into the office, but having some sort of routine creates the feel of a work day. I am not someone that is going to wear real clothes when I'm at home, but I change into what I've named my "day pajamas," I shower or wash my face, brush my teeth, etc. - all things that I'd normally do in the morning. It helps me feel like my day is starting. I also try to work regular-ish working hours - I'm not starting at 8 AM, but I'm not working on Saturday, either.

Take Advantage of the Flexibility
I guess this one flies a little bit in the face of my last point, but that doesn't make it less true. I think it's even more true given with the coronavirus - the reason that we're all working from home. If it's a nice day, get outside for a little bit, even if it's during working hours. If a workout video is more your speed, do that. I think we need to do whatever keeps us healthy mentally right now, and sometimes that means taking a short break during the work day. If you feel like you need to justify it for yourself, think about the time that you're not spending going out for coffees and lunches right now!

Figure Out How to Communicate
There's no more popping by someone's office for a quick chat, so you have to figure out the best way to communicate with your coworkers. Make sure you stay on top of your e-mail inbox if you can, and get behind the new Zoom/Skype meeting trend. My team has started using Slack for quick, day-to-day talking, and it's working really well for us.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Friday Favorites

I'm trying to figure out the best kinds of things to share on Fridays right now. The public health professional part of me wants to share resources about COVID-19... but I also know that I JUST talked about limiting your viewing of the news to help manage stress and anxiety. So I think, for now, I'm not going to share the "hard news" about coronavirus... no hard statistics or articles that spell out the scale of this. But maybe I'll change my mind in a week or two - I'm taking all of this one step at a time. Also - get ready for lots of pictures of my dog and cats and scenery, because I haven't looked camera ready in quite a while.
I will say, though, in general - if you can, please just stay home. Even if you don't think that it's a big deal - just do it.

Okay, on to the favorites.

ONE - Oh, Hello: The P'dcast
My love of Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, and their show Oh, Hello is well-documented now. Their show on Broadway was truly hilarious, and I can't believe that I got to see it. If you're also a fan - or if you're just looking for something to lighten up your days a bit - listen to their new podcast (or "p'dcast," as they would say). I can't wait for the first episode!

TWO - Types of Zoomers
I have had more Zoom video chats - for work and with friends - in the last few weeks than I have basically ever. This is a fun look at what type of Zoom user you are - my current Zoom background is the Hamilton stage, and I haven't worn makeup once, so I think that answers that question for me.

THREE - Ben Platt
Ben Platt and the cast of Dear Even Hansen sang one of the show's well-known songs at the end of one of James Corden's shows, and it's just perfect. It's so fitting right now, and just so beautiful.

FOUR - Dolly Parton's Imagination Library
Each night, Dolly Parton is reading one of the books from her Imagination Library live, as a goodnight book for kids. I saw the tweet and then found out that kids who live here in the city of Pittsburgh who are up to 5 years old can get a free book mailed to them each month from Dolly's Library! Such a great program.

FIVE - Harry Styles Tiny Desk concert
Harry Styles is such a great performer, and so charming, too. His Tiny Desk concert, unsurprisingly, is excellent, and is a great break from reality. Makes me hopeful that I'll get to hear live music again sometime in the future.

Thursday, April 2, 2020


I think for many of us, this is an incredibly anxiety-inducing time. I have moments where I'm totally fine, and things seem normal, and then moments where it all seems like SO much - fear of getting coronavirus, fear of it spreading, and just the uncertainty about everything surrounding this situation.

During my first week of self-quarantine, I got anxious a lot. But it has slowly, little by little, gotten better since then. I wanted to share what I've done since then to keep anxiety at bay, and to make the current situation seem a little bit more palatable.
ONE - Limiting the news
The first week that I was home, and even before that, I was reading the news all day long. I was reading Facebook posts about coronavirus, scrolling through Twitter constantly, and texting with my friends about it the whole day. But reading all of that was incredibly overwhelming. It was information overload. So I've started limiting the number of times I check coronavirus-related news. I'll look through Twitter a few times, but not all day. I won't read every article that I come across. And it's helped, a lot. It feels so much more manageable when I'm not inundated.

TWO - Headspace Sleep
I recently discovered that Headspace has an entire section devoted to sleep. There are options for drifting off, for winding down at the end of the day, for waking up in the the middle of the night - there's something for everyone. Each night, I've been putting one of the drifting off meditations, and I've actually been falling asleep before it even ends. It's such a calm, peaceful way to fall asleep.

Headspace actually has a whole section of meditations available for free to help people deal with increased anxiety right now. If you haven't tried it yet but have been interested, now's the time.

THREE - Getting fresh air
I have been trying to get outside every day, even if it's just for a few minutes. Even though I can already tell that my allergies are going to be bad, taking a few breaths of fresh, crisp air is just so calming! When it's been nice enough, I've even been taking my laptop outside onto the porch or deck (depending on which one gets the most sun!) to work for a bit. It's made a huge difference in helping me feel like I'm not too cooped up.

Four - Talking with Friends
While I'm lucky enough to be quarantined with my family (mom, dad, and sister), I've missed seeing my friends! We've been making an effort to stay more connected virtually since we can't physically see each other - Zoom happy hours and lunch dates, and more daily group texts going on. One of my friends has a son who is a little over a year old, and he now recognizes my face on the screen when I FaceTime her! I'll take it.