Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Recent Reads

I was in a really good reading groove for all of May. And then about halfway through June, I feel like I lost it a little bit - sometimes, after I finish a great book, it takes a while for me to get into another one. (I also got a Nintendo Switch in June, so it's possible that had something to do with it...) I'm back in the habit now, though, so more books to come next month!
This is written as a letter from the author to his son, but it also explores issues about race on a societal level in addition to the personal. It's a short read, but it's honest and direct - which makes it hard to read at some points. It's also incredibly beautifully written.

This wasn't my favorite of the ones that I've read this month, but it wasn't bad, either. It's written as a story about complicated friendships and complex personal histories, and who we are and how we see ourselves.

I loved how this book was so multi-generational - it wove together so many different story lines so seamlessly. It really drew me in - I wanted to hear each character's story, and how they all fit together!

I learned a lot from this memoir - it's written about the author's life, and her experiences as a Black woman personally, and professionally in fields that claimed to place a high value on diversity. It really gives a first-hand look at the complexities of racism, and how it's a large-scale societal issue.

This book is meta - it's about a "chick lit" author facing writer's block after her vision of happily ever after has crumbled, and, of course, follows her own romance while also following her writing. I couldn't put it down!

I think this was my favorite for the month. Books that I really love have both engaging storylines and good writing, and this one definitely had both. It looks at belonging, and home, and race as a Black person living in different countries. I've also read We Should All Be Feminists by her and recommend both.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Three Years of Blogging

I am really bad at remembering my blogging "anniversary" - the end of May actually marked three years, but I didn't realize it until a week ago! Since I was already late, I figured the end of June was as good of a time as any to celebrate.
I started blogging because, at the very heart of it all, I love to write. Because I've always worked or studied in a more science-based field, I didn't really have an opportunity to do non-technical writing in my day-to-day life. Plus, as anyone who knows me even a little bit will tell you... I am not shy about my opinions. I have opinions about basically anything and everything, and I do not hesitate to share them. So a blog seemed like the perfect combination of the two - a way for my to write, and a way for me to share my opinions.

But what I underestimated was the opportunity I'd have to build a community. To connect with people who read my blog, to connect with new friends on Twitter and Instagram. And right now, it's those connections and that community that I'm the most grateful for. I definitely didn't think that I'd ever be blogging during a pandemic, or that I'd be coming up with things to talk about here without going anywhere for three (plus) months. But I've actually found the opposite to be true - I've felt like I've had more things to talk about and share. And I think that it's largely because of those connections and that community - because I can't make in-person connections right now, the virtual ones feel extra special.

Three years feels like a long time, in some ways - it's hard for me to remember not blogging - and yet I can also remember clearly the moment that I decided to stop just thinking about blogging and start actually doing it. I'm so glad that I did make that choice, and didn't allow myself to get too overwhelmed by the actual process of what it would mean to start a blog. I have loved sharing about my life with you; I love sharing about disability topics equally as I love sharing about cute new sundresses or a new habit that I picked up. I'm looking forward to more sharing in the months and years ahead.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Friday Favorites

This was an incredibly busy week for me, and I'm really looking forward to being able to relax over the weekend. This week was also momentous because Lily finally got a haircut!! It was done very, very safely, with incredibly minimal contact, but it was SO needed. She couldn't really see anymore because her hair was covering her eyes in all directions. She looks so much smaller after a fresh haircut!
On to this week's favorites:

I. Am. So. Excited!! Seriously, every time I watch the trailer I get chills. I can't wait to watch the original cast and be able to watch the show over and over and over and over...

I bought this on Carly's recommendation, and it does not disappoint. By far, the most comfortable bra that I've ever worn, and ideal for these working-from-home days.

This is a really important reminder - now and in the future - about reading scientific papers. It's almost an art form - it's different than reading a newspaper or online article, and this is a good, basic explainer.

Pitt's Diversity and Inclusion Office has been holding Town Halls all through June on different topics. I was a panelist on the most recent one about being disabled during the pandemic. If you're interested, I think we had some great conversations.

I actually shared this pillow in a post a long time ago, but what better time than a pandemic to spotlight it again? If you are a side-sleeper, you NEED this pillow. I don't know how I ever slept without it!

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Where I'm Buying Masks

I can honestly say that this is a post I never thought that I'd be writing. The concept of wearing a mask out in public is something that seemed so strange at first, but is such a simple thing to do to help keep everyone safe and healthy.

I actually haven't gone anywhere yet that I'd need a mask, but I wanted to be prepared just in case. I have some plain black ones, but I've also had fun picking out some cute colors and patterns. Here's where I'm buying my masks:

Nancy was my absolute favorite designer on the last season of Project Runway - not only did she make it to the finale, but after being inspired by an earlier week's challenge, she used models with disabilities during her final runway show! She has so many different patterns to choose from, and even has a DIY kit if you want to make your own. Each mask is hand-signed, and a portion of the proceeds goes towards material to provide free masks to those who need them.
I've shared Equal Entrance scarves before, so I was excited to see that they started making masks too! These are on the simpler side, but they're really well-made and the material feels really nice. I love how easily adjustable the ear straps are, too.
The selection from Knotzland is, I think, the most fashion-forward. They make all of their masks from reclaimed materials, just like they do for their bow ties, and I love seeing the variety that they've come up with! They have the option of a simple face covering, or a more formal "mask." I ordered a "surprise" one, and I can't wait to see what it looks like.

Where are you buying your masks?

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Friendship, Just A Perfect Blendship

I've been reflecting a lot lately on how important friendships are to me. I've had a lot of time lately to really think about what's important in my life, and where my priorities are (and should be) - on what I value.
Having a small number of close, supportive friends has been something that, as I've gotten older, I've come to value more and more. It's so important to me to have friends who I can be open and honest with, who I know will be there for me, and who will be supportive. If you're anything like me, you've had your fair share of friends who turn out to be competitive - who aren't really happy for your successes because they feel like life is a constant game of comparison, that there has to be a "winner." But to me, real friendships are the opposite - real friends are excited for your successes; they're the ones cheering you on, supporting your ideas when you're not sure that you can make them a reality. And they know that you'll do the same for them, because there isn't a finite amount of success out there.

My friends have been there for me when I was applying for my new job, when I was starting my own advocacy organization, when I decided to apply for Ms. Wheelchair USA, and when I decided to start writing a blog! Not being able to be there physically for my friends right now doesn't mean it's any less important to me to make sure I'm still celebrating them. Some of my friends have gone through pretty major events - one got married, another decided to launch a virtual art exhibition - and it's been sad not to be able to be there for them the way that I would normally. But I've made an extra effort to be there in different ways - group texts, Zoom calls, handwritten cards, flowers/little gifts delivered. I'm SO proud of and excited about the steps that they've taken, and it's important to me to celebrate them.

If anything, the pandemic has only made me more of a believer in the importance of supportive friendships. These past few months have not all been easy, and it's just as important to have a supportive group during the rough times than it is during the good times. Those group texts or Zoom calls aren't just for celebrating - they can be just to feel connected, to feel like there are people there for you, who understand what you're going through. Having a great group of friends in my life is something I'm thankful for all the time, but extra-appreciative of lately.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Pandemic Purchases I've Loved

I think I've definitely shopped less than usual over the last few months - although there have also been times that I've done some "retail therapy" to make me feel better about being at home all the time. Maybe not the absolute healthiest, but I figure that there are worse things I could do. I'm sharing some of the things I've bought that I've loved.
I think this actually arrived before the AirPods themselves did - I ordered it as soon as I ordered the AirPods themselves. A case is a necessity - I definitely don't want to break or lose these!

I'm obsessed with this! It's an exfoliant for your scalp (you can actually use it on your body, too) that helps get rid of product build-up, dead skin, etc. It works SO well! I learned it works best if you really do leave it on for at least 10 minutes before you rinse it out - it helps the little granules dissolve better.

I bought these when I bought my initial necklace (from this post). They're so elegant and simple, and they're different from anything that I already had. Plus, they're really affordable.

I have been wearing this every single day since it arrived! Since it's a loop with velcro, it's so much easier for me to put on myself with my limited dexterity, and it feels so comfortable on.

When I started working from home, I bought about 5-10 different t-shirts to figure out which was the most comfortable. This was, far and away, the winner. I picked up a discontinued color on sale, and keep checking back and hoping it goes on sale again so I can scoop up some more!

This body wash smells AMAZING, which is a real feat considering that there's no added fragrance. It also leaves you skin feeling nice and moisturized.

I love the Velvet Noir mascara by Marc Jacobs so much that of course, I had to try the new one. It makes my lashes look so long, and it doesn't rub off/smear when my skin gets oily.

I'm trying really hard to be careful about not getting burnt, and this is a great, easy way to make sure that my face keeps getting covered all day long. I can just put this on over my face throughout the day to make sure I stay burn-free. And when it runs out, you can buy refills for the powder so that you don't need to get a whole new brush.

Lily has recently decided that she's afraid of thunder, of storms, of fireworks... anything that makes a loud noise. This isn't a total fix, but it does seem to help some in calming her down.

I finally got a Switch!! I have wanted one since March - I'm not normally a "gamer," but there was just something about the pandemic that made me decided that I HAD to have one. And so of course... they've basically been completely sold out since then. But my sister set an alert online for availability, and we were able to place an order very, very quickly earlier this week!

Last, but definitely not least - what good is a Switch without Animal Crossing?! This is basically the whole reason I wanted the Switch, and it doesn't disappoint. It's such a fun distraction!

Friday, June 19, 2020

Friday Favorites

I'm not going to lie, I'm really excited that it's Friday. This week has seemed very busy, but also very long, and I'm looking forward to the weekend to have some time to relax a bit. It's also Father's Day - it'll be a different kind of celebration this year, since we won't be going out anywhere, but it'll be a celebration regardless.

This week's favorites ahead!
This actually happened a few weeks ago, but it didn't really seem like the time to be sharing celebratory news. I was inducted into my high school's Highlander Hall of Fame as a distinguished alumni, which is an honor that I feel incredibly undeserving of. Since we couldn't gather in person, you can watch the virtual ceremony (and check out some pictures of me from high school!)

This is a really interesting look at how you say Black Lives Matter using ASL, and how language can evolve differently in different groups of people. You might think that ASL is a direct translation from spoken English, that follows the same patterns and syntax, but it's actually pretty different.

I think part of why this week felt so long is that I have so many different projects going on all at the same time. I was trying to make digital lists, but I'm really missing the pen-on-paper experience. I'm hoping this pad makes me feel a little more organized!

My incredible artist friend Katie Koenig wanted people to remember the role that art plays in our lives now, even when we're separated physically. So she organized a virtual exhibition with over 50 artists, all with new small works (12x12 inches or less). It goes live TODAY and everyone should check it out!

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Being Disabled During the Pandemic

Living during the COVID pandemic has been a unique time for all of us - it's like nothing else that most of us have ever experienced, and it's kind of incredible how much our day-to-day life changed so quickly. But I'm going to get a little bit personal today, and talk about the pandemic beyond the science and statistics. I want to talk about what it's been like being disabled during the pandemic.
It became clear to me at the very beginning of it all that this was going to be a particularly challenging time for me, and for other people with disabilities, when I heard the language that was being used to talk about the severity of coronavirus. Over and over, I heard things like: "It's only dangerous for people with pre-existing conditions." "The only people that have died are those with pre-existing conditions." People didn't understand why life had to stop just to protect people who were vulnerable. As someone who does have a pre-existing condition, and for whom COVID could be incredibly serious if not deadly, it's hard to hear that people think like that, hard to hear that other people don't think my life is valuable and worth protecting. It seemed, right from the start, that it was going to be an uphill battle for people to take this seriously, for me and for the everyone else, too.

My family knew that we'd be staying home no matter what the city of the state decided. But while my parents are also my caregivers a lot of the time, my sister and I also have a paid caregiver that comes in part of the time. We had to really think about what to do in this situation - was it safe to have her keep coming? Was she taking precautions to stay safe and healthy? If we told her not to come, we knew life would be much more stressful for us. So we took a calculated risk and had her continue to come for her scheduled shifts. We'd also been in the process (for months, actually) of getting additional caregivers for the "shifts" that weren't currently filled. We had to put that on an indefinite pause, until we feel like it'll be safe for strangers to come into our house again, people with who we haven't built up that trust.

When you're truly staying at home, and not leaving even for necessities, there's the matter of actually getting the things that you do need. I know there were lots of jokes and memes about finding toilet paper, and paper towels, and hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes. But for most people, if you really needed one of those things, you could go to the store and within maybe a few days, you'd be able to pick up whatever you needed, because the stores were rationing how many each customer could have. Well, it didn't quite work that way with online ordering or delivery - even now, you can't order things like disinfecting wipes easily. Luckily, we had some kind friends and family who helped us get things when buying online/for delivery just wasn't possible - but not everyone has the support network that we do.

And now... people are bored. They're over the pandemic, they're over not being able to see their friends, to get a haircut, to go on vacation. They don't want to wear masks - they're uncomfortable, they restrict their breathing (even though, of course, doctors and nurses and all medical staff have been wearing masks for hours each and every day for the last few months). I wish the pandemic were over too! I want to hang out with my friends, go to a concert, go out to eat. But as a disabled person, people's disregard now towards COVID makes me more nervous than ever. It's clear that because people in general won't take simple precautions (obviously - not everyone, but many people), I have to stay vigilant, and stay home, away from friends and from the public. But for how long will I be able to do this? For how long will virtual options remain? When people talk about "opening up," they say that we need to continue to protect the most vulnerable - continue to protect me. But if people aren't willing to do something as simple as wear a mask to protect me, how can I believe that there's anything they will do?

So I urge you to keep me, and to keep other people with disabilities, on your mind in these next few months. Weigh your discomfort with wearing a mask and not being able to get a haircut with my continued inability to even leave the home. Make risk calculations, but really consider if the reward is worth the risk - not just the risk of being infected with coronavirus yourself, but with unwittingly adding to the spread and the concern of taxing the healthcare system.

One thing that I strongly believe is that living with a disability has taught me resilience and adaptability. I know that a pandemic is a stressful time for everyone. But I'm confident that as a society, we can adapt to a "new normal" if we try - we can make changes for now, knowing that it might not be our preference, but that we'll survive until the current threat has passed. And it will pass - but we all have to be willing to do our part now.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Easy, Breezy, Beautiful Summer Dresses

For the first few weeks (okay... maybe months!) of staying at home, I basically lived in a t-shirt. I wanted to be comfortable, and it felt nice to get a break from having to be "dressed up" all the time. Plus, it was March, and it was cold! I was spending a lot of time indoors, with a few minutes here and there outside. Comfort was key. And while there are still days that I still reach for a t-shirt, I've started to embrace getting dressed again. It has been HOT, and I have been working outside on my deck whenever possible. Now, instead of going for a t-shirt most days, I'm putting on a sundress.
I've been going for dresses that are light, and flowy - I love how easy it feels to wear one, definitely not like I'm dressing up. I don't feel like I'm sacrificing my comfort at all! When summer hits and it's hot out, there's nothing better to me than an easy sundress.
I picked up this one from Gap sometime last month during a sale - it's mostly sold out now, but there a few sizes left, and there's also a few more sizes left in the black version here. I love the little polka dots, and the twist in the back of the straps. It fits all my qualifications - the material is super comfortable and not stiff, it's a good length, and felt great when I wore it all day.

You can scroll through my picks for other easy, breezy sundresses below!

Monday, June 15, 2020

Getting into Journaling

Growing up, my mom tried every summer to get my sister and I to keep a journal. I think that she even set time aside most nights for us to write in them. Being the stubborn person that I am, though, this made me want to NOT do it! I don't always love being told what to do. So I'd usually only last a few weeks before I gave up on it, much to my mom's disappointment.
But recently, a few things have happened that have made me want to take up journaling again. One of my good friend's colleague/mentor passed away from COVID-19 in New York, and his son wrote an incredibly touching tribute to him (you can read it here). He mentions that his dad kept a diary, to be read by his family after he passed away, and that detail just really struck me. I've also been thinking about how much I love writing here, and how much I get out of it, and that it might be nice to do that on my own, without having to worry about sharing too many personal details online.

So I've been writing in a journal for the last few weeks, but not putting any real pressure on myself in writing in it. I'm not forcing myself to do it every day, or on any set schedule - just whenever I feel the urge. For as much as I love all things tech, there's still something so satisfying for me about putting pen to paper, and acknowledging thoughts that you might not be ready to say out loud. And I realize that because of my SMA, I might not be able to keep a handwritten journal forever (writing is much "harder" physically than typing, after a while), but I can right now, and I'm grateful for that. I do think it'll be interesting, 5 or 10 years from now, to be able to look back and see what it was like during the pandemic.

Since we're all spending more time than usual by ourselves right now, I think journaling is a great way to be introspective, and to work through the stress and anxiety and just questions about life right now! It can help work through things, and I think it helps us (or me, at least) to be fully honest with ourselves.
Of course, because I'm me, I needed a new journal to start writing in - I wanted it to feel like a fresh start, literally and metaphorically. I had pretty specific requirements - I needed it to be a spiral-bound one, because it's too hard for me to write on ones that have to be held open flat - and found this perfect one (it's even leopard print!!). If you don't have strict requirements, though, and just want something cute to write in, I'm sharing some of my other favorites below.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Friday Favorites

It has (finally!) felt fully like summer here in Pittsburgh this past week. It hit 94 degrees on Wednesday, which is usually what it hits at the peak of the season! I've been trying to really take advantage of this while I can, and have spent a lot of my working-from-home time outside on my deck. It really makes me feel so much better, and happier, and less stressed.
On to this week's favorites...

This was filmed before all of the shutdowns, obviously, and just reminds me how much I want to be able to see a live show again! The music (and story) are so powerful.

I don't know how many of you are from Pittsburgh, but the local newspaper (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) recently barred a Black reporter from covering the protests after she tweeted something that they claimed made her biased. Obviously, this is just a quick overview, but if you feel (like I do!) that their actions were wrong, you can sign on to support the journalists.

Another tinted sunscreen to add to my repertoire! The texture of this one is like a mousse, and it took me a bit to get used to it, but now I'm sold. It just evens out my skin with a tiny bit of tint, and has mineral-based sun protection, if you're sensitive to chemical sunscreen.

I have SO many questions about the safety of so many different activities right now - being outside with friends, 6 feet apart? Being inside? Traveling by car for a short trip? This isn't a set of hard-and-fast rules, but surveys over 500 epidemiologists on when they'll feel comfortable returning to different activities again. It's not certainty, but it's somewhere to start.

Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures is hosting a virtual talk by Dr. Robin DiAngelo about her book, White Fragility: Why It's So Hard to Talk to White People About Racism. Tickets are only $10 (including taxes and fees), and if money is an issue, you can e-mail info@pittsburghlectures.org for one of their Community Tickets. I bought my ticket already - let me know if you do, too!

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Father's Day Gift Guide

I can't believe that we're coming up on Father's Day - to me, it feels like Mother's Day just happened. I'm admittedly not the best gift-giver for Father's Day... my dad and I both share the trait of being very specific about what we want, and like, and not always being open to other people making selections for us. I'm trying to give gifts that are more thoughtful, though - something that my dad wouldn't necessarily think to buy for himself, and thus, won't have a super-strong opinion about!

With that in mind, I've rounded up a wide range of different types of Father's Day gifts, for whatever type of father or father-figure is in your life.

For the dad that's a mix of old-school and high-tech, this is a record player that also has Bluetooth capability.

Mr. Rogers is one of PIttsburgh's hometown heroes - what better gift for a Dad than a book about life according to Mr. Rogers?!

Personally, I think that starting the day with a delicious cup of coffee is the ultimate gift. This coffee is from a Pittsburgh roaster, and it's what a start each of my days drinking.

I've seen Chef Marcus Samuelsson on so many episodes of Chopped, and have always wanted to go to his restaurant in New York. For any Dads that love to cook, these recipes look amazing.

My dad is definitely more comfortable at a grill than in a kitchen. This is such a great collection of grilling tools!

If your dad is a snappy dresser, there is no better gift than a bow tie from Knotzland. If he's not quite that dressy, they also sell unique, handmade wallets.

Bose speakers really have such amazing sound quality. This one is wireless, and can be taken anywhere around the house - inside or out.

A puzzle with a picture from another Pittsburgh hometown hero, Andy Warhol. I figure we're all spending more time at home these days, and a puzzle could be a great family bonding activity.

There is nothing more classic than a pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarers. They look good on everyone!

An easy, simple travel duffel bag that doesn't look overly professional for weekend trips (whether they're taken this year or next).

Monday, June 8, 2020

Just Checking In

I haven't done a more casual update post about what's been going on in my life lately because, well, there hasn't really been anything going on with me. But there's a lot going on with the world right now, so it seems like as good of a time as any to check in with you all about life.
In a lot of ways, my life is not very different than it was in March, and April, and May. While I hope that governors are making the right decisions by starting to "open up" again, I basically need to live under the assumption that they're not. As much as I, too, want to go out to dinner, and spend time with friends and family, there's no real evidence that the risk has diminished in any real way for me. The hardest part for me is the lack of any real answers or guidelines. We don't have a clear answer on what is safe for the general public to do right now, and it's even less clear what's safe for people who are at higher risk. Since I've never been someone who deals with uncertainty well, it's a struggle for me. I've mentioned before that while the city was under stay-at-home orders, my anxiety went down, because everyone was forced to take the precautions that I had to take. But now that things are opening up, and people are out and about, I'm having to re-think all of my actions and make sure I'm taking every single precaution that I can. It feels like people are just.... over it, and while I get that mentality, it doesn't mean coronavirus is just going away because we're bored of it being here. And while I understand that we cannot all stay at home indefinitely, it doesn't make me any less anxious about the logistics of it all.

And then, of course, there are the continued protests against racism and injustices faced by Black people in this country - both at the hands of the police, and in a real, systemic way that is not easy to untangle. While I cannot physically take part in the protests, I've been doing my own part, in the ways that I can, to dismantle racism - I've been reading, I've been diversifying the voices that I listen to, and making a real effort to check my own biases. Something that I've learned from my own work in disability advocacy is the difference between equality, and equity, and justice. There are people who can speak on this much better than I can, but the crux of it is not just giving people an equal opportunity, but about reaching out specifically to people who have historically been underrepresented. So, right now, I think the most important thing to do is to listen to Black people, to amplify the stories and voices of Black people, and give them our support - not to talk over them, but to help their voices be the ones that are heard.

It's a lot to deal with, and it's heavy, and it's something that is going to require continual work, beyond a few weeks of protests. So I hope that you're all taking care of yourselves, and staying safe and healthy, whatever that means to you. Burnout is very real, and I think we're all at higher risk right now because we've been more isolated in the recent months. So remember to practice self-care in whatever form works best for you, and however you're able to - take a break, stretch, do a meditation, talk to therapist, talk to a friend... make sure you're still sleeping, and eating well.

I'd love for you all to check in with me in the comments, because I think staying connected is so important right now! Just a little note letting me know how you're doing, and how you're feeling.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Friday Favorites

I want to do a different kind of Friday Favorites post this week. I've been watching the continued protests and demonstrations this week, and have been trying to listen, to read, to learn, and to share resources and posts that I've come across. It can be hard, as a white woman, to know exactly what to say, but I think it's become clear over the past week that the important thing is just showing support and making it clear that racism isn't okay, and isn't something that I'll ever support. I also want to be clear that this is something I'm going to continue to learn about, well beyond this week.

So for today's post, I want to share some of the resources that I've come across, and some of the things I've been reading to educate myself.
Image via Imani Barbarin's Instagram, designed by Jen White Johnson

This is a constantly-updating resource of things that you can do to help even after this is no longer a trending conversation. It has links to petitions, places to donate, other resources/education, and information for protestors.

It feels like President Obama always has the right words. This is a great look at what's happening, and about how we can work to enact change.

Reading about experiences that are different than your own is one way to keep educating yourself. I've previously personally pledged to read more books written by women; I'm now going to make a conscious effort to read more books by non-white authors, too. One I can recommend to start with by local author Damon Young is "What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker."

FOUR - People to Follow
It's important for me to remember, and to remind all of you, that it's important to consider the intersection of race and disability, too. A few people that I recommend following (please note this is definitely not an exhaustive list!) are: Vilissa Thompson, Imani Barbarin, and Keah Brown (who is also an author of The Pretty One).

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Updated No-Makeup Makeup Routine

I have gotten much more relaxed about my daily makeup routine now that I'm at home all day. I never really wore that much makeup to begin with, but since I'm only seeing my family in person and other people through a tiny computer screen, it feels good to be more laid-back. Some days I won't put on anything past moisturizer, but there are some days where I want to look just a little more pulled-together.

So I've come up with a very simple, straightforward makeup routine for my days at home. It's been feeling so nice to be so low key!
I used to use First Aid Beauty's Skin Tint, but when I went to order more about a month ago, I found out that they had discontinued it! So I did some research, and some testing, and ended up with a different First Aid Beauty product - their weightless mineral SPF. It is tinted, but basically just enough to offset the white cast it would leave on your skin from the mineral SPF. I wish it came in more color options - the tint luckily works for me, but it would not work for everyone. I have incredibly oily skin, so I use this in place of moisturizer. If you have drier skin, their tinted moisturizer looks like it would be a great option!

(As a runner up - if I'm looking for something that gives just a tiny, tiny bit more coverage, but is still light, I've also been loving this waterweight "foundation" from MAC.)

I don't really feel "done" without mascara - it's probably the one thing I just can't go without when I'm doing even minimal makeup. This is my favorite, and I've been wearing it for a few years now. It doesn't smudge or flake, it's easy to remove, and it makes my eyelashes look longer plus thicker.

I love these so much! They add just the tiniest bit of color, but they go on like a lip balm. You don't need a mirror, you don't need to worry about it smearing when you eat, and it's so nice and moisturizing. I keep one by my desk at all times. I have it in Orgasm, Dolce Vita, and Turbo, and I may pick up another color or two soon...

This is my optional, extra step, because my eyebrows are decent enough on their own. But if I want to add a little something extra - maybe I have a Zoom meeting going on - I'll add this. It's easy and quick to put on because it's a gel, but it also really does make your brows look more defined.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Physically Distant, Socially Connected

I know that some places are starting to open up, so maybe this post is coming a little bit late. But I do think that whatever normal we're opening up to now isn't going to be the normal that we're used to. And I don't think that the road ahead of us is going to be straight, either - I don't think anyone really knows what it's going to look like! I know that as someone at higher risk, my coming days/weeks probably aren't going to look much different than they do now. And I think that there are lots of other people in the same situation as me, or people who live in cities/areas that are less open.

So I think it's important that we keep looking for ways to stay connected, even if it's not physically. I recently saw on Twitter the idea of calling it physical distancing, rather than social distancing, because keeping our social connections strong is so important right now. Isolation only adds to stress, and there are ways to keep from being isolated while maintaining physical distance.
Virtual Game Night
There are probably lots of ways to do this, but I've used Jackbox Games. Someone buys a game set - it usually comes with 5 or so different games - and then shares their screen on Zoom so everyone else can play, too. They're usually silly and simple games, but they're a lot of fun.

Friend Dates
The important thing is making sure that you're staying connected - so you can do FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, or even just a regular phone call. I think the key is to plan them regularly, but not too often - it seems like too many virtual hang outs actually just seems exhausting rather than refreshing!

Virtual Movie Night
Sometimes the best part about watching a movie is the group experience - knowing that you're all seeing the same thing, at the same time, and talking about it afterwards. There a browser extension called Netflix party that helps a group of people all watch a movie "together," at the same time. You can even chat during the movie - and since it's not talking out loud, you won't even interrupt everyone else's experience and be shushed!

Zoom Trivia
I love trivia, but sometimes I think I'm too old for bar trivia - I want to be in bed before it ends! So virtual trivia has been PERFECT for me, and it's been so fun! The ones that I have done use Zoom - you start out all together to hear the question, then you're sent to a breakout room with your team to discuss (or, sometimes, just to chat when you have no idea what the answer is). I have not yet even come close to winning, which is hard for me because I'm so competitive, but I've had a great time nonetheless.

Letter Writing
The most low-tech suggestion of them all! I have been sticking with my new habit of sending people little cards to let them know that I'm thinking of them, and it's been a fun way to send a little piece of cheer through the mail. And I still love looking at my stationary (from this post), so it makes me happy, too!