You Gotta Have Friends

In this the last installment of my Cedar Rapids adventure it's only fair to introduce the people and resources without which I would never have attempted this trip.

Meet my friend Glenda Watson Hyatt. She writes a terrific blog called Do It Myself and is the author of I Can Do It Myself, an autobiographical account of living with Cerebral Palsy. Glenda has made it her life's work to help make the world more accessible for everybody, so when I seriously contemplated making this trip she was the first person I turned to for advice. She gave me a few pointers in selecting a truly accessible hotel room, then referred me to her friend in Iowa, Deb Brown. Deb is an entrepreneur and founder of Debworks, which specializes in helping businesses get the most out of the ever-expanding world of social media.

The first - and best - thing Deb did was point me towards the right city! For whatever reason, the website from which I initially learned about the Alphonse Mucha exhibit listed it as being in Des Moines, not Cedar Rapids. The next was to send someone out on my behalf to physically inspect hotels to confirm that the amenities listed were, in fact, available. Based on these findings I chose the Hampton Inn North in Cedar Rapids.

 

The room we stayed in featured one king-sized bed with enough room to wheel up to on either side, and an accessible bath tub and toilet. The desk was wheelchair accessible and the closet, which is not pictured, had a lowered closet rod from which to hang your garments. Likewise the dresser and TV stand had drawers that were easily maneuvered from a wheelchair. The room also had a visual alarm and notification devices for the doorbell or door knock and incoming phone calls. Last, but not least, it had a coffeemaker; vital for my existence!

The staff was very friendly and helpful. I only have two complaints about the accommodations. The door to the room was impossibly heavy. If my husband hadn't been with me I don't think I could've opened it on my own. The other, bigger problem was the bathtub's floor was as slick as ice. There were plenty of grab bars and great access to the shower head, but as soon as I sat down I slid to the front of the tub! I solved the problem by using a hand towel as a tub mat of sorts.

To be fair, I was contacted by email after we got home to inquire about our stay and when I shared my concerns was assured that maintenance would be notified and the problems fixed. If I ever have occasion to go back to Cedar Rapids I wouldn't hesitate to stay at the same hotel.

I also had the pleasure of meeting my new friend Deb Brown and her friend Melanie, for lunch at the Ox Yoke Inn in the Amana Colonies. The food was delicious and the company was easy and fun. Deb has a wonderfully dry sense of humor, which I deeply appreciate, and Melanie is a really sweet lady.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App That's Melanie, Deb, and myself from left to right.

Interestingly enough, Deb is a regular speaker at the Small Town State of NOW, which was, “Originally called the 140 Characters Conference, aka #140conf, the State of Now takes online interaction and turns it into an in-person conference. The State of NOW is made up of immediate communication tools  like Twitter, Google +, Facebook and many others. The 140conf explores how the State of NOW is disrupting business, education, agriculture, media, celebrity, music, politics, public safety, and our culture.”

"You have to speak at State of NOW Nashville." She insisted.

How can I refuse a chance to be "disruptive"? Glenda wants in, too. We're all trying to get the details and logistics to bring this to fruition. I'll keep you posted.

Call For My Carriage

You know, the one that says "Nissan".

I have a confession to make. I'm already back home. I posted last week's entry from my hotel room. Now I can tell you all about my trip.

Let me start by saying the weather forecast was for unseasonably warm temperatures. I checked for several days prior to packing and finally decided on three outfits, two pairs of shoes, and several accessories. I was ready.

Mr Spashionista and I threw our suitcases and a cooler with drinks, snacks, and lunch into our rental car and headed out early to make the 9 hour drive from our house to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. We decided it would be best to drive straight through.  Given the circumstances comfortable, casual clothing was the order of the day.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

Nothing fancy here, just my Nine West thrift store jeans, Blue Canyon Petite top, and Lucky Brand Mary Jane clogs (not pictured). I knew that I would be sitting for the better part of nine hours so I wanted an outfit I could stretch in and shoes I could kick off if need be. I'm glad for it, too, because it was a long haul. I'm used to stretching and moving as much as possible at home to avoid aches so it was tough sitting still for so long.

Fortunately, the view on the drive up was breathtaking with the fall colors at their peak for the season. Even better, thanks to my new Note tablet, for the first time ever, I was actually able to take some good pictures.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

I guess I can retire the Palsy Cam; hooray!

In the next few weeks I'm going to show you some beautiful places -  and some great outfits!

In Fashion It's All About The BODS

No, it's not what you think.

BODS is the acronym every Spashionista needs to remember. It stands for budget, occasion, disability, and shape, and it's the encapsulation of everything you need to know to have the ultimate wardrobe that works exclusively for you.

Budget - This much-maligned term should be approached from a positive point of view instead of from a place of limitation. While it's true that our money seems to buy less with each passing day there's no reason why, regardless of our income, we shouldn't always try to get the best value for the lowest price. This is especially true for the majority of the disabled for whom disposable income and transportation can be hard to come by.

Occasion - Your wardrobe should be appropriate for the places you go, the people you're with, and the events in which you're participating. If you work in an office you won't last long if you wear sweats or a tube top. On the other end of the spectrum you'll seem oddly out of place if you wear an formal dress to a sporting event.

Disability - Those of us with a physical handicap have to take this into account with every article of clothing we wear. If you're on crutches chances are good you can't walk on 4" heels - whereas if you're in a wheelchair these may be quite doable. You may want to rethink a very short skirt if you're spastic because you may inadvertently show off more than you intended. Get the picture?

Shape - Here's where your body type comes into play. Take a little time to figure out what your true shape and size are. Every body type has it's blessings and it's curses. If you're smart you'll quickly learn how to maximize the former while minimizing the latter.

That's the synopsis of BODS. Next time I'll start what will be a series of posts focusing on clothing options from full-price to a fraction of retail.

BODS