the purge

DesignNo, I’m not referring to the horror movie – this is about something far more awful and frightening. Every so often, my neat-freak boyfriend designates a “Cleaning Day,” an entire 24 hours devoted to tidying up around the apartment and getting rid of anything we haven’t used in a while. As a shopaholic and natural hoarder (seriously, it runs in my family), I can’t help but get a little panicky when I’m asked to throw things away. So the conversation with my boyfriend goes kind of like this:

Me: “I can’t do this.”

Him: “Yes, you can. Let’s start with this – which clothing items don’t you need?”

Me: “I need everything.”

Him: “Okay…Which clothing items don’t you wear anymore?”

Me: “I wear everything.”

Him (holding up sequin-covered top and dark blue wrap skirt): “Even this belly dancing outfit you bought on a whim?”

Me: *nods solemnly*

I wish I were naturally this neat

I wish I were naturally this neat

Okay, so maybe that belly dancing costume was an impulse buy. And maybe I’ll never get around to taking dance lessons or using my indoor trampoline or figuring out how to put on those outrageous fake eyelashes I bought. But for some reason, it’s still super tough to get rid of things. I LOVE shopping and I love things. I get a thrill out of receiving a package from Amazon because it’s like a gift from my past self to my present self. Nothing lifts my mood on a bad day quite like buying myself a little something.

Shopping has never been a problem for me, though, because I always stay within my budget. The only issue now is that there’s barely any space left in the small apartment I share with my boyfriend and my dog. The closets are full and there’s not many places we can put new things (even though we’ve gotten creative with our storage options.) So when it comes time to clean up the place, I know I’ve got to let some things go. And to be perfectly honest, a lot of the things I’ve accumulated fall neatly under the category of junk.

What my apartment would look like if I had my say

What my apartment would look like if I’d had my say…

So why do I hoard “junk”? I think that at the heart of hoarding is an anxiety that there will come a time when you’ll actually need and use the “junk.” The problem is that usually that time never arrives, and you’re keeping all that crap for no reason. As someone who has struggled with anxiety issues before, I’m perfectly aware that letting go of irrational beliefs and the anxiety associated with them is extremely freeing. So for the sake of being freed and relieving my home of pointless clutter, I decided to put together a list of five things I don’t really need in my apartment. Here goes:

1. Magazines – I’m a total magazine hoarder because it just feels weird throwing away all that information, you know? I have no problem getting rid of flyers and receipts, but magazines sometimes have content that’s worth revisiting and rereading. In the olden days, this may have been a legitimate reason for keeping glossies forever, but the beauty of technology means that now most major publications are also posting their content on their websites. So goodbye, magazines!

2. Shoeboxes (and all pretty boxes, really) – I have a ton of boxes from ShoeDazzle (you know, the hot pink boxes all their shoes come in?) and perfume boxes

3. Business cards – I used to keep these in an ever-growing messy pile, just in case I need people’s contact info in the future. But now I just save the number and email in my phone and throw out the cards.

4. Books – I am a HUGE bookworm and a believer that you can never have too many books. That said, I’m also aware that there’s only so much space in the apartment. Enter the Kindle, my favorite way to download ebooks and carry an entire library around with me everywhere. And those books I own that I know I’ll never read? I donated those, and now my bookcase no longer looks like it’s going to topple over from the excess weight.

5. Clothes I know I’ll never wear – Okay, so maybe I did keep the stupid sequined belly dancing top, but there’s definitely a lot of clothes hanging in my closet that I didn’t even know I owned. So everything I was 100% sure I’ll never wear again (or even once, since some stuff still had tags on them) went to my sister and to charity.

Voila! My apartment is now free (or at least freer) of clutter and junk!

 

(Images from weheartit.com)
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halloween 2014

This year’s Halloween costume came together at the last minute, but I think it turned out okay.

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looking the part

While I’ve had my share of regrettable fashion choices (you can ask my former boss about the summer I cycled through 12 different colors of the same t-shirt dress), I’ve always considered myself a rather stylish person. I love dressing up, and I’m a big believer in the idea that what you wear influences how you act. So the minute I found out I was hired for a new teaching job, I knew it was time to hit the mall.

One of the reasons teaching is such a cool profession is that you’re allowed to be creative and have fun with your wardrobe. When I think of how women in corporate careers are expected to dress, images of black-and-white pantsuits and patent leather pumps (which are cute but impossible to walk in, at least for me.) I always expect teachers, especially the younger ones, to wear bright colors and cute dress with ballerina flats and fun accessories (think Jess Day, Zooey Deschanel’s character on the show “New Girl.”) And that

Anyway, I took photos of what I wore the first week of school, so let me know what you think! (And yes, that’s a “tattoo” on my prosthetic arm.)

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when your ‘last resort’ is your ‘dream come true’

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If you had told me even five years ago that I would be experiencing a major career switch before the age of 25, I would have thought you were crazy. I was IN LOVE with my social media position at the Oxygen Network, and I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else. I was also fortunate to have an amazing boss and mentor (whom I still love and admire like crazy) who later brought me on with her as the digital marketing coordinator for a political news network. When that network was sold to an international news network, however, I started to realized that maybe social media was not the right career path for me. I loved creating content and curating the various social pages, but the job became increasingly focused on the marketing aspect of the business with little room for creativity. (It’s not like you can be super creative when you’re reporting facts and news stories.) And that shift wasn’t particularly exciting for an artsy and nerdy English major who is happiest when she’s dreaming up new ideas and working on creative projects.

10628626_10152804020652642_9176936420018892715_nI knew that I had to make a major change in my life when, after being laid off from my job in early spring, I was surprised to find that I was actually elated and relieved. I was free. But free to do what? I had an English degree and absolutely no desire to pursue a career in law (can you seriously picture me in a drab old court all day?). So what’s a girl to do? Remembering my childhood dream of becoming a teacher, I reluctantly took education classes and figured that was my only option. Teaching was a career choice I had always kept on the periphery, considering it my Plan B in case I was on the verge of becoming a starving artist or something like that. But after giving it a lot of thought and spending the summer in Norway, where I did some deep soul-searching and (as cliche as it sounds) discovered myself a little better, I decided to give this teaching thing a shot.

1979508_10152801864832642_7612538560193325680_nFlash forward just over a month, now that I’ve been teaching for nearly four weeks, and I can’t imagine why I’d been so reluctant about choosing this profession. I think I was born to be a teacher. Is there anything more rewarding than knowing you’re educating and inspiring a love of knowledge in the next generation? Is there anything cooler than doing whatever you can – from wearing a book-themed shirt to handing out Ninja Turtle and Frozen stickers – in order to make lessons relevant and exciting for today’s kids?

In the upcoming posts, I would love to share more about my new life as a teacher. I still love to write about growing up with a disability and sharing stories about others with disabilities who have accomplished amazing things, but my life is about way more than just my nonexistent hand. And I really want this blog to reflect that.

 

Peace,

Caitlin (or Ms. P, as the students like to call me)

 

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why style matters

IMG_0180Like most other red-blooded females in the universe, I LOVE shopping. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something so exhilarating about buying new clothes and then pairing them with other pieces in your closet. The idea of following fashion and obsessing over finding the perfect outfit may seem frivolous (my boyfriend always rolls his eyes at me when I bring up this topic), but your clothes are actually a big part of how others view you and how you act. What you wear is an outside expression of who you are and what you like. Some studies even suggest that the way you’re dressed also influences your attitude and how you feel. And it’s not like it’s legal to walk around naked anyway, so why not give a little thought to how you present yourself to the world?

IMG_0767Although it seems like some people expect those of us with disabilities to care less about our looks and what we wear, that idea is far from the truth. I can’t speak for everyone, but I do know that I (and several others I’ve both met and followed online) love nothing more than the opportunity to doll up in a cute dress and pearls. That said, I’d love to introduce you to a few style blogs that happen to be written by women with disabilities and that are definitely worth a follow.

1) Spashionista

1b5bcb7a9064abd7f474291dad3c67c1Alicia is a ‘fashionista over 50′ whose quirky and fun style makes you wish the stick-thin 20-something runway models would be a little more like her. Every outfit perfectly captures her personality and sunshiney attitude. And aside from sharing her personal style, Alicia also advocates for animal rights and has rounded up a group of ‘roll models’ (I’m one of them!) to prove that fashion and happiness are for everyone.

2) Threaded -

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Haylee may still be in college, but this girl is already on her way to becoming the next big fashion designer (I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll see her on Project Runway someday soon.) She’s a master seamstress who designs and creates her own gorgeous outfits that leave you thinking, “Oh my gosh, she made that?!” Yup, that’s talent.

3) Manufactured 1987

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Jillian, an FIT grad and NYC native, writes about the latest in the fashion world and shares photos of her own daily outfits. She’s also completely badass and makes me wish I were brave enough to rock her unique hair color. Oh, and she’s a model in the most recent Nordstrom catalog. No big deal, right?

 

These women have the style and confidence that I admire and aim to exude in my own daily wardrobe picks. They take the idea of self-expression to another level and make sure every outfit they wear says, “This is me. This is my personality. And I know I’m awesome.”

 

(Just as a side note: I’m hoping to include more topics, like style and fashion, in this blog in the near future. I still plan to write posts on disability and living with a physical difference, but I would love to include some other content as well. What do you all think?)

 

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