This month marks the 75th anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month. In August the Americans with Disabilities Act, which played a major role in giving people with disabilities access to schools and workplaces, celebrated its 30th anniversary. These milestones, combined with the challenges we’ve faced as COVID threatens many of our businesses and livelihoods, have thrust disability employment into the spotlight.
I’ll admit it; I used to think that asking for accommodations to perform my job somehow made me less valuable as an employee and as a human. Of course this isn’t true. And I’ve learned that while some see the needs of people with disabilities as an inconvenience for employers, the resilience, adaptability and determination of those with disabilities often far outweigh the negatives. Fortunately, more and more companies are beginning to realize this and are making strides toward a more inclusive environment.
As a graduate assistant in my university’s Center for Career & Professional Development, I’ve become even more aware of the need for inclusion and immunodiversity in the workplace. To help all students and alumni succeed in their job searches and professional development, we have to remember those with disabilities and/or chronic illness. Luckily, there are more and more resources popping up every day for the growing population of job hunters with disabilities. My current favorite is Chronically Capable, a job search platform created by Hannah Olson, a Lyme survivor who was forced to leave her dream job because of intense IV treatments.
Chronically Capable isn’t just a great resource for people seeking more accessible careers; it’s an opportunity for companies to connect with largely overlooked talent. According to their website, companies that employ people with disabilities have 90% higher retention rates and a 72% increase in employee productivity. And it’s no wonder: employers that have partnered with Chronically Capable provide their teams with the tools they need to succeed. Each employer’s profile includes a breakdown of the workplace accommodations they provide, like flexible work and leave schedules, sign language interpreters, accessible restrooms and fragrance-free workplaces. Many companies also offer the option to work remotely.
Another easily-accessible resource for job hunters is abilityjobfair.org. This site provides live online career fairs with a variety of companies on a regular basis. Job seekers can video chat live with employers on this talk/text/ASL-friendly platform. Abilityjobs.com also offers a job board with thousands of postings by companies seeking people with disabilities.
If you have questions about the ADA, disability employment or accommodations, the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) and the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) are great places to start. JAN even offers an A to Z list of accommodations that you can search by disability, accommodation or work-related function. If you’re not sure how to talk to your supervisor or HR department about accommodations, you can learn how other people with similar limitations have adapted their jobs to fit their needs.
These are just a few of the resources available to job seekers with disabilities. Many colleges and universities also have career and professional development offices or disability and inclusion departments that may be able to help students and alumni in the job search. As more companies realize the benefits of hiring a diverse team and the feasibility of working remotely, more doors may open for people with disabilities. It’s time we start recognizing and appreciating the unique contributions people with disabilities make in their careers every day!
For more great tips on working with a chronic illness or disability, check out this WEGO Health webinar with Ilana Jacqueline and the University of Findlay’s Career Chat with Kara Maruszak.
Whether you’re going back to school, back to work or staying home, fall is approaching – and with it, a new wardrobe! Shopping should be fun, but finding clothes that fit, look flattering and, most importantly, are comfortable is almost impossible when you’re facing the dreaded endo belly.
1. Maternity Jeans
For those days when your stomach is especially bloated and sensitive, nothing beats a stretchy pair of maternity jeans or jeggings. I recently bought a new pair of a:glow™ maternity jeans with a full belly panel from Kohl’s and they’ve been a life-changer!
3. Chunky Sweaters
Sweaters have always been a fall staple, but the chunky knit sweater trend has given new meaning to the word cozy. They’re perfect for chilly days and the best part? They look great with leggings or those maternity jeans!
Besides adding a fun pop of color to an outfit, scarves can give the illusion of a bigger bust and a smaller waist. They draw the eyes up and away from your tummy. Plus, they can work as a mask in a pinch!
5. Push-up Bra
Like scarves, push-up bras can provide the optical illusion of a smaller belly. I have one push-up bra that I reserve for tighter-fitting tops and dresses for just this reason.
6. Dark Colors and Patterns
Autumn is the time to rock those darker tones, and lucky for us, they’re slimming! I’m also a fan of patterned tops, which can help to hide a bulging stomach.
Mr. Rogers was onto something. Anything with an open front is a great disguise for a bloated belly. Plus, cardigans are an easy way to convert those summer dresses and blouses into chilly weather outfits.
8. Compression Undies
For those times when you really want to wear a tight-fitting dress or run a 10K with minimal discomfort, nothing beats high-rise compression underwear. Compression may not be for everyone, but I’ve found that it makes running more comfortable and minimizes bounce.
What are your favorite fall fashion tips for fighting endo? Share them with me in the comments!
When we hold a crystal a transfer of energy occurs, causing the vibrational frequencies in our bodies to change. This explains the physical and emotional sensations we can experience when interacting with different crystals. Just as each of us vibrates at a different frequency, so does each different type of crystal. This exchange of energy between a person and a crystal can be used to change and balance unhelpful physical and emotional states. For centuries, healers around the world have used this knowledge to heal ailments within their communities. This understanding has been passed through generations and combined with physical science to give us the expansive knowledge that we have today.
Because of their ability to absorb the energy around them, crystals need to be cleansed from time to time, and there are several great ways to do this. Sunlight can benefit crystals by charging them and resetting their energy (interactions with different spaces and people can change a crystal's energetic frequency). It is recommended to research your crystal before placing it in the sun, because some stones - like amethyst and fluorite - can lose their vibrancy when exposed to too much sunlight. Stones that are light sensitive can be cleansed under the energy of a full moon. You can also cleanse your stones by burning sage or Palo Santo above them.
With so many different types of crystals available, it may be overwhelming for beginners to know where to start. If you're just starting your journey with crystal healing, here are a few stones I find the most helpful for beginners:
Since beginning to work with crystals, I've gained clarity and calmness that I hadn't experienced before. Because of the positive impact crystal healing has brought to my life, I'm on a mission to share that positivity with those around me by promoting crystal education and supplying affordable, meaningful crystals to those who wish to add this practice into their lives. There's never been a better time to delve into the world of crystal healing. Even if you're skeptical of their healing powers (I was at first), what do you have to lose? At worst, you'll have some beautiful stones to decorate your space with!
Pinterest and HGTV are great for inspiration, but the complexity of some home projects can be intimidating. Luckily, there are tons of simple projects that don’t require expensive tools or special skills to complete. These spoonie-friendly upcycles can be done in an afternoon, and they’re guaranteed to make a statement!
What’s your favorite upcycled project? Tell me in the comments!
In this follow-up to my first Q&A with artist Abi Stevens, she shares the story behind some of her new enamel pin designs. Abi funded her first collection of spoonie pins through Kickstarter, and her second campaign is wrapping up now. She also sells her work on Etsy. Read on to find out what Abi’s been up to and learn more about her new creations.
Q: What inspired you to create your newest designs?
Q: How has the pandemic affected you and your art?
A: It's definitely increased my stress levels, and at various points this has made it difficult to engage with creative work. I was lucky in that I didn't lose any scheduled work due to lockdown, and having external deadlines to work to made it easier to keep creating. Finding inspiration and motivation for my personal work has been more difficult though. I've focused on simpler, quicker pieces that are easier to work on when I'm struggling.
I only went full-time freelance with my illustration and online shop late last year so it's been interesting trying to grow a business during such unstable times, especially as my business was too new to qualify me for government assistance!
Q: Can you describe your creative process?
With these pins I already had a style in mind from previous designs, so I looked up various weapons I was interested in including for reference photos, then went straight into Photoshop. My research phase was mostly deciding which conditions I wanted to represent at this stage and discussing the choices and phrases with other Spoonies.
Q: Do you follow a self-care routine?
A: I try to but I have ADHD so I have trouble developing and sticking to routines. A big priority is to make sure I drink enough during the day (which I used to forget to do all the time), so I keep a water bottle at my desk. I have an app on my computer which reminds me to take screen breaks and this helps me remember to eat regularly and get up and stretch too.
When I'm doing better with routines (the lockdown threw my previous self-care routine out the window) I take yoga classes, go to the gym, take hot baths/showers and massage sessions, which help me reduce severe muscle tension which is both caused by and triggers my Migraine attacks. I also do my best to regulate my sleep by going to bed around the same time each night.
My biggest challenges right now are cooking proper meals and sticking to defined work/rest times. I have a habit of letting work bleed into my evenings and weekends.
I still do this sometimes by mistake, especially when I'm very invested in a project, but it really isn't worth it. Applying the standards of a healthy person's full-time office job to working for yourself while chronically ill is a recipe for disaster. I try to remind myself regularly that I don't have to achieve all of my goals all at once; the only timetable I'm following is my own, so I'm free to create one that doesn't compromise my physical and mental health.
If you want to share your talents and experience too, then go for it! Please be as honest as you're comfortable being, because I think it's important not to accidentally play into the erasure of our struggles, but the more of us out there sharing our stories and our creations, the more we can fight back against ableism and combat misconceptions.