The Dos & Don’ts of Online Clothing Shopping: How to Avoid Returns & Scams


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In the time of COVID, lots more people are shopping online for their needs rather than going to a store, and even if you do shop in person, there are limits to the availability of fitting rooms and returns might be impossible.

If you’re staying inside but still find yourself in need of new clothes, this post courtesy of guest author Jenny Bloom from ShirtMax will help give you tips on how to do so safely in an age of scams, fraud, and identity theft.


With more than 79% of Americans now doing at least some of their shopping on the Web, it’s become increasingly easy for cybercriminals to take advantage of online shoppers. Online shopping is fast, convenient and allows consumers to purchase just about anything without needing to brave large crowds or travel to other cities to find what they are looking for.

While most online transactions take place without any problems, people still fall victim to cybercriminals every day. Whether they are taken in by scams designed to steal their personal information or they are sold products that do not match their descriptions, shoppers can fall victim to numerous things when shopping for clothing on the Web.

Buying clothes online is appealing for numerous reasons. Whether you’re shopping for blank t-shirts, pants, shoes or accessories, the Internet boasts more selection than your local mall could ever dream of carrying, and the prices are often substantially lower than the prices found in traditional brick-and-mortar stores. It’s important to be aware of the darker side of e-commerce, though, and make yourself aware of how to avoid scams and returns. Here are a few dos and don’ts of online clothing shopping to help you stay safe on the Web.

DO: Shop from Home

It may be convenient to do some online shopping at your local coffee shop on your lunch break, but doing so makes you much more vulnerable to hackers. Even novice hackers can easily access public Wi-Fi connections and see everything you enter online – including your credit card number.

It’s fine to browse your favorite shopping sites while you’re at the airport, a coffee shop, a hotel or another public place with a Wi-Fi connection, but avoid entering any personal information until you are on your own secured network.

DO: Be Careful When Choosing Sellers

If you use Google (or another search engine) to search for products, be careful. Statistically, about three results on every search engine results page are fraudulent. Whenever possible, shop directly from a well-known retailer or directly from the manufacturer or brand you’re shopping for. If you are trying to find the best price, use a trusted price-comparison site.

Before entering any personal information on a website, take a look at the address bar at the top of your browser. The URL should always start with https://. If there is no “s,” it means that your information will not be transmitted privately once you submit it. Also, make sure any website you shop from has an SSL certificate.

DO: Shop Using Credit Cards

Generally speaking, credit card companies offer better protection against online scams. Whether you receive a product that does not match the description or you have your information stolen, they will normally work with you to help you recoup your losses when the seller refuses to cooperate. Using your debit card means that a criminal could gain access to everything in your bank account, and depending on your financial
institution’s policies, there may be little you can do if you fall victim to a scam.

Editor’s note: If you don’t use credit cards, double check your bank’s policies to make sure your debit card offers purchase protection. Shopping via PayPal Goods & Services also provides buyer protections. 

DO: Keep an Eye on Your Credit Card Bills

Pay attention to your credit card bill every month. Make sure only transactions you’ve authorized appear on your statement and watch out for recurring charges. If you notice anything suspicious, contact your credit card company immediately, as there are usually time limits for disputing charges. Also, make sure you’re only shopping within your budget and paying it off every month so as not to carry a balance.

DON’T: Use Your Personal or Business Email Address When Shopping

Having a separate email address to use for online shopping is highly recommended. In addition to keeping all those promotional emails out of your business or personal email account, you’ll be a lot better off if this email address gets hacked than if one of your main addresses does. Set up a separate account that is easy to access, and keep track of the orders you’ve placed, when they’ve been shipped, and when they arrive. Hang onto order confirmations until you’ve received your item and you are happy with it.

DON’T: Wire Money to Sellers

If a seller is asking you to pay by Western Union or a similar money transfer service, it is almost always a scam. Even if you order from an online auction site, you should only pay online using a credit card or a protected service like PayPal. If you wire a payment to someone, you have no way of getting your money back in the event of a problem.

DON’T: Provide Excess Information

When you place an order online, you should expect to provide your name, billing address, mailing address, phone number, email address, and credit card information. If the site is asking for anything else – such as your social security number or your driver’s license number – it’s likely fraudulent. There is no reason why you should need to provide this type of sensitive information when shopping online for clothes.

DO: Shop Eco-Friendly

Unfortunately, shopping in general isn’t the most conscientious thing we do. Products are
typically kept in plastic, fast fashion is bad for the planet, and mass-produced boxes aren’t always properly recycled. But that doesn’t mean you can’t help lessen the overall carbon footprint. Shop from secondhand consignment shops, like ThredUp, to help save the planet. Plus, you’ll normally find a sweet deal and save a couple bucks.

DON’T: Fall Victim to Scams

If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. When you stumble on a website selling designer clothes in the latest styles at a fraction of their normal
price, it’s extremely tempting to load up your cart and submit your credit card information. Chances are, though, the deal isn’t as good as it seems. Entering
your credit card information may do little more than fund a scam artist’s next shopping spree. Or you may find out when your order arrives that you purchased
counterfeit clothing or accessories.

Scoring great deals is one of the best parts about shopping online, but when looking at prices, be realistic. If the price seems too good, it’s probably a scam in one way or another. When you’re shopping for products in bulk such as wholesale shirts, you can expect to pay significantly less than you would pay when shopping retail. Avoid scams by only ordering from established wholesalers with strong reputations for quality and customer service.


With more and more people turning to the Web to shop for clothing and other products every day, it’s becoming increasingly important to be vigilant. There are a lot of people out there who make their living by stealing from others, and they love targeting unsuspecting online shoppers. Exercising caution when ordering online, however, can help you avoid returns and scams while protecting your bank account and personal information from cybercriminals.

About the Author

Jenny Bloom is the Marketing Manager for ShirtMax. When she’s not spending time with her three daughters, husband and two dogs, Roscoe and Boone, she’s creating content on fashion, online shopping and saving money on clothes.

[Transcript] Lakewood Public Library Author Talk: The Gaslighting of the Millennial Generation

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Hello readers! I recently recorded a Meet the Author talk at a local library. It was so much fun and I loved being able to add a little more about current events that obviously weren’t covered in the book that was published a little over a year ago.

You can watch the video here:

The audio is a little quiet, so it’s best watched with headphones (I got the best results watching on my phone), but I also wrote out a transcript in case you’re more of a reader than a viewer or if you miss any of the audio.

Check out the full transcript below, sans all my “um” noises as I checked my notes. (Ugh).

Title Card reads:
Caitlin Fisher
The Gaslighting of the Millennial Generation: How to Succeed in a Society that Blames You for Everything Gone Wrong
Lakewood Public Library

Hi, I’m Caitlin Fisher, the author of The Gaslighting of the Millennial Generation: How to Succeed in a Society that Blames You for Everything Gone Wrong.

I’m a local author, I live on the west side of Cleveland in West Park, and I have a bachelor’s in Psychology, a Master’s in Higher Education with a background in career counseling and marketing. We’ll talk about millennial job hopping later, it’s relevant. And I also write and teach about boundaries and emotional recovery after leaving an abusive marriage two years ago. So, a long and varied story like many millennials. 

About the book

I’m going to start off just by talking about how I got the idea for The Gaslighting of the Millennial Generation. It actually started as a blog post I wrote in 2016. I had been doing some research into emotional abuse, recovery, and trauma work. And I kept coming across the idea of gaslighting, which is a manipulation tactic where essentially you make people doubt their own perceptions or reality. So, they tell you their experience of something and you essentially say, “What, that’s crazy, that can’t be right.” 

The more I learned about this concept, the more I realized that’s sort of how we’ve been treating young people entering the workforce. So we were raised being told, you know, “if you work hard, you can do anything.” And then we leave college, or maybe we don’t go to college, and we’re putting in the work and working very hard, and we’re not getting anywhere. And the more noise we make about this, the more we’re told “That’s not really how it works, you’re being entitled.” 

And this book came from that. So after the blog post I turned it into a full length book, it’s got 12 chapters, and each chapter is titled “Millennials are Killing…” something or other. Topics range from the American Dream to Relationships and Marriage to the Economy. Anything we can be accused of destroying as dirty, entitled millennials, I tried to hit the highlights of. 

Why this book?

What I wanted to do with the book is not only address this concept of gaslighting, I wanted to validate what millennials have been through. I wanted to have space for those experiences and let people know that they’re relatable, they’re not unique and they’re not doing it wrong and messing it up, they’re not alone. There’s a mix of reassurance, unpacking why we’re being accused of being so entitled when we want basic human necessities, and then each chapter ends with practical advice to make sure you’re killing it, since we’re killing everything.

I also want to acknowledge privilege. I am a well-educated white person. I am queer but can pass for cis and straight, and that affords me a lot of privilege in society. Society is set up for people who look like me. So, as much as possible throughout the book, when I talk about concepts I know that not everyone views their experience in our society through the same lens that I did. So I try as much as possible to talk about how racism, classism, and ableism might affect people’s experiences throughout the book. Because I don’t just want to be speaking about my experiences, I want it to be relatable to as many people as possible. 

I am a millennial with baby boomer parents, so those are the experiences that I talk about a lot. I’ve gotten a little bit of commentary about how I skipped Gen X in the middle (Gen X is kind of used to it, unfortunately), but that’s not my lived experience. I can’t really speak to Gen X because I’m a millennial with boomer parents, so that’s what I’m writing about.  

Overall what I want people to take away from this book is that, one, they’re not alone in their struggles. Two, I want millennials to keep standing up and speaking out when they see that things aren’t right and aren’t fair. I love that about us, I love that we are pointing to problems in society and saying, “Hey, let’s maybe do something about that.” And three, it’s also a call for the generational blame game to stop with us. I want us to pave the way for Generation Z to come through and be as amazing as they’re already showing us they are. And so, I don’t want us to argue about the kids these days on TikTok and the Tide Pods and everything, because that’s just more in-fighting and it’s not helping us get where we want to go. 

Also, this is not a book that’s just for millennials. Obviously I’ve been talking about Gen Z a lot, and I think it could be a really helpful primer for them, especially as they’re finishing high school and entering college. And I’ve also had Gen X and Baby Boomer readers say that they’ve really loved it and appreciated the perspective it gave them about the millennial experience. 

How to read “The Gaslighting of the Millennial Generation”

So, just to get into the content of the book, I wrote it in such a way that you can read one chapter if that’s a certain topic that you’re interested in, or you can read through the whole book. It’s definitely a book you can take chapter by chapter, it doesn’t have an overall narrative that has to be read in order, but rather each chapter is its own unique section. 

Part 1: Millennials are Entitled, Disrespectful Punks

It’s divided into three parts. Part 1 is called “Millennials Are Entitled, Disrespectful Punks” and that section talks about the American Dream, difficult parent-child relationships once millennials enter adulthood and they’re starting to connect with their parents on that level, and the tension that can arise there, especially if we had difficult childhoods. There’s a chapter about the workforce and career path of millennials. Like I mentioned, there tends to be a little bit more job hopping and mix-and-match career building. And then there’s a chapter about the education system. 

I started the book off here because I think these are some of the biggest, most impactful claims that people make about millennials and about how we are up-ending the status quo, which I personally think is a good thing. 

The American Dream

The American Dream chapter really tackles that avocado toast headline, where it says “if millennials want to buy a house, they need to lay off the avocado toast.” So this chapter tackles the assumption that we can’t be home owners because we’re too busy spending frivolously on brunch. And I really address the structure of the “American Dream” — air quotes — and the fact that it’s really built on that idea that if you work hard you’ll achieve it. The American Dream being a stable career, retirement savings, a nice house, marriage and kids if you want that. But what’s sort of sinister about the American Dream is that if you tell everyone if you work hard you can achieve it, anybody who hasn’t achieved it, there’s this easy finger-pointing we can do to say that they’re obviously not working hard enough. 

And then millennials are coming in to ruin the day once again and they say, “How can we buy a home? It’s not the avocado toast, it’s student loans, it’s the fact that the minimum wage hasn’t been raised since 2009, it’s the fact that we can’t afford rent and retirement and healthcare.” So we’ve started to see the American Dream fall apart around the edges. 

And we really need to acknowledge that the original American Dream is only accessible to a privileged few. People who can afford to go to college without too much debt, or no debt. People who don’t need to work two or three jobs to make a living. There’s definitely a lot of privilege involved in the American Dream and I think that millennials on the whole are realizing that and pointing it out. And so that gaslighting effect comes in when they say “Hey, this seems kind of messed up, maybe we should change the way we’re doing things,” and the establishment says, “We don’t talk about that, just keep working hard and you’ll get there, I promise.” And we’re starting to see that that’s not necessarily the truth. 

Millennial career paths and company culture

So, related to the American Dream is the career trajectory of millennials. So I’m going to speak a little bit about that workplace chapter. As I mentioned earlier, I have a bachelor’s in Psychology and then I went to grad school to work in Higher Education. I ended up doing purchasing and was doing freelance marketing also, and now I do full time marketing. So none of what I studied in college is necessarily relevant to what I do as a career now. And you find that a lot, I think, with millennials. 

So your classic career path for, let’s say, a baby boomer, is you get an entry level job, you put in time, you get a promotion, you put in time, you get another promotion, you put in the time, and then you retire comfortably at 65. Obviously not everybody, and obviously there are barriers and struggles across generations, but that’s your typical ladder — they call it the corporate ladder for a reason. 

And millennials are coming in and they are leaving jobs without putting in all that time because they want a better work life balance, they want a better culture fit.  And this is really forcing companies when they’re hiring new talent to consider what millennials want. Millennials now are basically adults under 40, so people are hiring millennials, and millennials want flexible hours, they want flex time so they can go to a doctor’s appointment, we really like remote work, which is now especially relevant in the COVID pandemic because we found out pretty quickly that most office work can be done from home without losing any productivity. So I think what we’re going to see post-COVID is that there will be a lot more companies offering remote work as a flexible perk when they’re hiring people, and that’s going to attract the millennials because we like that flexibility and we like the work life balance. You know, when you don’t have to get up super early to get ready and commute, and then commute home before you make dinner, you get a lot of hours in your day back that you can spend on things that make you happy, such as sleeping or having a hobby.

And we also want better paid parental leave when we have kids, better vacation time, wages that are more in line with the cost of living, and even union protections. And once again we say, “Hey, what about these things, they do them in other countries, they’re working, people seem really happy over there in those other countries,” and we’re again told, “No no, don’t talk about that, don’t question it, just keep working, you’ll get there.” And again it’s this cultural gaslighting. 

Just some stats out of the book, a 2014 study from Bentley University reported that millennials would take a pay cut of $7600 a year to take a job with a better work-life balance, better company culture, or that they felt was more purposeful. So, we don’t like work that just feels like droning along for somebody else’s dollar. We like work that makes us feel good about ourselves and the work that we do as well as what the company as the whole is doing. So we want to do work that we feel matters. And I think we’re going to see this also with Gen Z as they enter the workforce. 

So I think that companies are going to have to adapt as we continue. Because if you can’t lure in the talent with money when you have a bad company culture, you’re going to have to adapt your company culture. Which I think is a good thing! 

I do resume and cover letter writing and help people find jobs as a side business (because millennials have to have four businesses, I guess), and I’ve noticed that job descriptions that are being posted by companies now have a really big focus on what it’s like to work there and what the culture is like. So we’re seeing a lot of “one Friday a month we do a team outing,” and they’re really trying to showcase the ways that they value their workers, and so that’s going to attract the millennials that want that sort of more fun, more purposeful, team oriented work. Which I think is exciting! 

The education system – do we need college?

And then, on your way to those jobs we need to talk about education. And the education chapter not only talks about college but starts in preschool. Your school experience can add a lot to your struggle or can add a lot to your privilege, which is important to recognize. 

So a big question that comes up is do you need to go to college to be successful? What does it mean to be successful? Does it mean having a degree, does it mean having a certain income, does it mean being debt free, does it mean the American Dream? Only you can decide what success means for you, which is good and also sometimes a struggle, because you look into the void and you don’t know what success means to you and there’s a little existential crisis sometimes, but I think that college is not always necessary. I think we put a lot of pressure on very young people to decide what they’re going to do with the rest of their lives, and at 18 if somebody’s not sure they want to go to college, I think it’s irresponsible to force them into debt because college is just part of the process. 

I think it’s completely valid if you want to take a couple years off to decide what you want to do, or if you want to go to trade school instead, or if you want to go to school part time, or you end up in your 40s and decide you’re ready to get a degree now. So however you want to do it, whenever you decide you want to go to college, I think it’s really important that we don’t put so much pressure on “the way you’re supposed to do it.” Which I think is pretty important. And you’ll even have people making their own businesses, whether or not they went to college. There’s all sorts of lists of “careers you can get without a college degree” and that’s super valid. And that’s what I explore in the education chapter. 

Part 2: Millennials are Destroying Society

Next up in Part 2, Millennials Are Destroying Society, there’s a few chapters but what I really want to talk about is the chapter about the economy. Because there’s headlines like “Why aren’t millennials buying diamonds?” and “Millennials aren’t saving for retirement” and “Millennials have killed the mall” and I once again think, that’s a little unfair to blame all of that on the millennials. 

We don’t need malls because all those stores are online, and we don’t buy diamonds because we have found out that diamonds can be very unethical. And also, we have to pay rent and healthcare, so we don’t have a lot of diamond money laying around. So we can’t afford those luxury items — it goes back to the minimum wage issue, goes back to housing costs, goes back to wealth in general. 

The latest numbers from the Federal Reserve say that baby boomers have 56.8% of the wealth in the US, and millennials have 3.4%. So, were not buying diamonds or (insert industry) because we don’t have the funds to be doing that. We’re basically just trying to survive. Especially during COVID right now. 

Living paycheck to paycheck

This chapter also tackles poverty and the poverty line. Millennials are the most impoverished generation, as of 2016 data from the Pew Research Center. I could not find more recent data, I tried, but that was the last big report that came out. So in 2016, we had 5.3 million millennial households under the poverty line in the US. Obviously this affects other generations as well, there were 5 million baby boomer households and 4.2 million Gen X households under the poverty line also. 

And it’s important to talk about this in relation to that American Dream, in relation to the economy and the workforce, because while we do have security measures in place to help people under the poverty line, like food stamps, housing assistance, daycare assistance, things like that so that people can go to work and work hard for that American Dream, you can get a 25 cent pay raise that loses you eligibility for your benefits and then you’re worse off than before you got a raise. So our systems are set up to keep poor people poor. And the more we point that out the more everybody says “Hey we don’t talk about that, be quiet, you’re starting to sound a little crazy and entitled” — gaslighting. 

So definitely my intention here is to let people know, again, that they’re not crazy for saying “This is my experience and I’m working hard and it’s not getting me anywhere.” You know, the expectation is that that should make you successful and if you’re not successful by American Dream standards, and you think you’re doing something wrong and other people think you’re doing something wrong. So we’re creating this us vs. them thing of “Well, people who don’t have these measures of success must not be working hard enough, and those things will never happen to me because I work hard.” 

But 40% of Americans are one missed paycheck away from the poverty line. We wouldn’t know what to do, we’re paycheck to paycheck in this culture. And we’re so much closer to being homeless or jobless than we are to becoming billionaires, but if the billionaires keep us arguing amongst ourselves then we don’t notice the billionaires telling us not to worry and that everything will be alright. 

So I am apparently slowly radicalizing people with this. Or just pointing out that there’s issues in society and it’s okay to talk about them, and we should talk about them and we should make change. 

Part 3: Millennials Are Just Making Stuff Up Now

So that’s my hard hitter from Part 2. And then in Part 3, Millennials Are Just Making Stuff Up Now, I talk about gender identity, the Me Too movement, the relationship escalator, how we’re killing marriage by not necessarily going dating-marriage-babies, we’re turning all that on its head. Millennial parenting, which I had to consult with millennial parents about to make sure I knew what I was talking about. And then just sort of a call to action, once again, to stop turning it around and blaming it on the next generation when they show up and they start making this noise too. 

Millennials and Gen Z activism

I want millennials to cheer on Gen Z, which so far we’ve really been doing a good job of. Transitioning out of talking about the book and coming into the world of 2020, there’s so much going on since I wrote this that I really want to talk about. And that’s especially the fact that millennials and Generation Z are so active politically and in activism and advocacy work. 

We’re seeing a demand for more transparency from brands and businesses. We’re seeing that millennials and Gen Z consumers expect brands to stand up for social justice issues. And we expect to see more about their business practices. 

Nike did an ad for Black Lives Matter that said, “Just this once, don’t do it,” as in, don’t turn your back on racism, don’t look away. And the millennials and Gen Z were like, “Cool, well we buy Nike now” and that got them a lot of brand affinity. It’s a good business move now for brands to be chasing that millennial and Gen Z approval because those are the fastest growing generations with buying power. 

We also are voting with our dollar, shopping locally and with small businesses, trying to keep local businesses afloat especially during COVID. I know a lot of my friends are not eating out as much because we’re tipping higher when we do eat out. So with that restaurant budget, we’re trying to keep restaurants that are locally owned afloat more because we don’t know what it’s going to look like by the time whatever’s happening with COVID is done happening. 

We’re also seeing millennials and Gen Z, and the older generations too, purchase from Black-owned companies and crafters, and queer-owned companies and crafters. We’re saying “I want to support these communities that are typically marginalized and held back from businesses” so we’re spending what money we do have in ways that align with our morals, which I love about us and Gen Z. 

I specifically want to talk about the Black Lives Matter movement, just because that is so important to discuss in 2020. We’ve seen protests happening since May and it is now August and they’re still happening daily, they’ve been happening across the world. And there was some data from Y Pulse that came out this June, that said 50% of Gen Z and millennials have participated in Black Lives Matter protests or awareness, and 69% think that brands and companies should be involved in the Black Lives Matter movement, going back to that Nike story. 

Business Insider also reported that 90% of Gen Z supports the Black Lives Matter movement, 77% of them have been to a protest, and 62% are willing to be arrested at a protest. So Generation Z is not holding back, they are showing up, and I love them for it, and I’m so excited and can’t wait to hear more about what they’re doing. 

But that really starts with us as the millennial generation. We’ve been recognizing and pointing out “this isn’t right, we need to change the way our society is set up” and everybody older than us is saying “No, just pipe down, just put your head down and work hard and you’ll get there.” We need to keep saying that we need change, and then we need to give Gen Z the space to show up and have that 90% of them supporting really important justice efforts. So we can work with them or we can turn around and be our crotchety elders and I’d really rather we be the awesome generation that I know we are. 

Get a copy!

Buy The Gaslighting of the Millennial Generation on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop, Target, or anywhere else books are sold!

Or borrow from the Lakewood Public Library (or any local library) as a hard copy or virtually via Hoopla, Libby, or your favorite library app. 


When Art is Your Love Language

When I’m so happy and satisfied and moved and full of love about something or someone, I make art about it.

I write poetry or love letters. I paint. I create little cartoon portraits on internet apps.

As children and still as adults, long afternoons and evenings were spent with my brother and sister, reaching over each other to get a tube of the next color we needed, trading brushes, just creating together. It led to a lifelong love of creativity and art as an expression of love, affection, and closeness.

When I love someone, I show it in art.

In April, coping with the early days of socially isolating due to the COVID pandemic, my partner and I sent letters to each other to get through the long stretches without seeing each other. I sent him six small watercolor paintings with my letters, and the last letter was a poem.

When my friend lost two pets over the summer, I thought “I should paint them a portrait of those pets.” I haven’t done it yet, but I’ll get there. Sometimes the art has to percolate.

My partner and his roommate love Skyrim, so I painted them a scene of a dragon flying among snowy mountains and a forest. I plan to paint my sister a similar one for her new home when she moves in with her fiancé.

An ex partner loved mermaids, and I painted her a scene of a mermaid looking out to sea at sunset. The mermaid had a back tattoo and a fin mohawk, and the sunset and water were the colors of the bisexual pride flag.

If I love you, I show it in art. In colors. In words.

I’ve tried selling art before, and it doesn’t always feel the same. It’s hard for me to get the art moving without that love behind it.

It’s okay to just enjoy your artistic hobbies and not try to monetize them — it’s a capitalist pressure to think we need to only do things that can bring in income.

Creating for the sake of creation is a radical act, and we should do it more often.

I’ve also made art for people who it turned out weren’t safe for me.

This art feels like a betrayal. Short stories I wrote for an abuser. A painting. A story recited in public about how real and true love and friendship could be.

That lost art was part of me, and undeserved by them. If I had a time machine I would write a different story. But I told that story — even if the story isn’t the truth anymore.

It hurts to know that I put that part of myself on paper or in words, when I later wish I never had.

I can’t take it back, but it hurts to feel like I wasted it.

When I’m feeling blocked creatively, is it because I don’t want to “waste” art on people?

In “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” Marie Kondo says that it’s okay to discard (throw away, donate, or otherwise re-home) gifts from others, because sometimes the joy of the item was in the moment of giving. If it no longer gives you joy, it’s okay to discard.

Can the same be true of art?

In the moment, the creation of that art was joyous and full of love. In the moment, the art was pure. The words, the brushstrokes, the art, the love — it was all real.

And the love being real doesn’t mean that the pain wasn’t real. The love being real doesn’t mean that the abuse wasn’t real. The love being real doesn’t mean that the betrayal wasn’t real.

I can be at peace with the fact that those people received my art, and my love.

The authenticity of my love, and my art as an extension of it, is about me. Not them.

And I will keep making art.

And I will keep loving.

Doing the Work

Thanks to James Eades for sharing their work on Unsplash.

You may have noticed a distinct lack of blog posts around here for the last few weeks! I took June off to rest for my mental health and I’m looking forward to getting back to a regular writing schedule.

It’s been hard to know what to say lately. I support the Black Lives Matter movement (both ideologically and financially by paying monthly reparations to Black activists and families in need). I haven’t wanted my voice to take up space that should have been taken up by Black voices, but I also don’t want to ignore the reality that this movement needs attention and that I can use my privilege and platform to call attention to the work.

Your mission today is to follow Black activists, especially women or trans folks who are multiply marginalized. Some suggestions: Ijeoma Oluo, Sonya Renee Taylor, Ava DuVernay, Ericka Heart, Jessamyn Stanley, Devin-Norelle, Laverne Cox, Serena Hicks, Graeme Seabrook.

Follow Black artists, creators, and writers too, because anti-racist work isn’t just about learning about racism, it’s normalizing the presence of Black content in our social media feeds as beautiful and important too. Suggestions: Billy Porter, Lizzo, Jaime Milner, Shanee Benjamin, Gabriella Grimes.

Racism is a white supremacy problem, and it’s the responsibility of white people to stop being racist, to make reparations, and to do anti-racist work. This is hard because we were raised in racism and we often don’t recognize racism in our own behaviors. When it’s called out, we feel defensive.

That discomfort is where we do the work, friends. When you feel defensive about it, stop and listen. Research. Learn.

I recently had a friend let me know she was unfriending me on Facebook because her experience being called out for a racist comment about China was too uncomfortable. Even though she listened and learned, apologized, and said she wouldn’t say something like it again. The experience of being called out was uncomfortable. But we can’t let that stop us from doing anti-racist work.

Keep an eye out for new content soon. I’ve missed you!

And yes, there will be more commentary on anti-racist work. If that makes you uncomfortable… maybe stick around.

5 Tips To Overcome Loneliness While Social Distancing

As COVID-19 continues to impact the lives of millions around the world, Americans are being urged to stay home and practice social distancing to help slow the spread. That means that numerous non-essential businesses have closed, non-essential events canceled, and people are limiting their interactions with one another.

While all of this is for the greater good, the isolation can still get to people, generating overwhelming feelings of loneliness. And it’s not easy to get through the day when you experience loneliness. As a result, the pandemic is now more than a health issue, but also a mental issue.

However, there is good news so far. You can overcome loneliness – it’s possible. Here are five tips for coping with isolation and reducing feelings of loneliness, while practicing social distancing.

1. Practice Self-Care

“Take time out of each day to take care of yourself,” says Madeline Prichard, a content writer at Study demic and Australian help. “This may include catching an extra hour of sleep, or imagining someone giving you an uplifting affirmation – or maybe you can give that affirmation to yourself. Also, make sure that you’re eating right and staying active. The healthier you’re eating, and the more you exercise, the better you’ll feel.”

Also, take the time to self-reflect. In your mind, ask yourself how you’re feeling today. Know the difference between what’s temporary and what’s permanent. The pandemic shouldn’t get to you: Instead of saying “My life is forever changed,” think: “Okay, things are hard now, but I look forward to tomorrow.”

Editor’s note: While eating a balanced diet helps make sure you get a variety of nutrients, be mindful of eating disorder relapse or trying to reduce your food consumption out of fear you’ll run out of food. Now is not the time to be dieting or worrying about your weight.

2. Practice Breathing

As you meditate, incorporate breathing exercise. Even when you’re not meditating, practice breathing. No materials or equipment is needed to do this. 

Start with a few slow deep breaths, while focusing on the sensation of air going into your nostrils, and down your lungs. This helps you relax your body and mind while maintaining breath. 

3. Stay Productive – Occupy Your Mind

A good antidote to loneliness is keeping yourself busy with things you enjoy. If you’re feeling tired of doing the same old thing, now’s a great time to do something different. Maybe you’ve put off something for a good while, and you want to go back to it? If so, do that thing instead. And remember to start off small and focus only on what you can do, instead of what you’re “hoping” to do. Here are some good ideas on how to occupy your mind and find joy in variety:

  • Restart a hobby
  • Discover a new hobby
  • Tackle a new house chore
  • Read a book in a new way to mix things up – hard copy if you usually read digitally, or audio if you usually read hard copy
  • Do some exercise – some gentle stretching or a walk around the block for fresh air is a great way to stay active and give yourself time for your mind to wander and process things

4. Virtually Connect With Others

Now more than ever, it’s imperative to connect with people, even during this period of social distancing. Reach out to people through messaging apps, social media, etc. Or, you can be there for somebody who’s struggling right now, just by listening to them. But above all, it’s okay to express how you’re feeling, because chances are, you’re not alone in this pandemic, you’re not alone in the sadness, and you’re not alone in the loneliness. 

5. Stay Positive And Grateful

“It’s always a good idea to savor the little moments that give you joy in your daily life,” says Toby Aronson, a lifestyle blogger at Writemyaustralia and Studentwritingservices. “Whatever gives you joy, write it down somewhere so you won’t forget it. Also, stay positive with your thinking – appreciate the things in your life that you already have. Enjoy the time you have with your family, with your partner, and where there’s something that doesn’t stress you out.”

Social Distance Doesn’t Mean You’re Alone

Social distancing is what people have to do to try and contain COVID-19 — but along with these necessary steps come negative emotions in some people. In fact, people in social isolation will surely experience excessive points of loneliness now more than ever, even to the point of depression or thoughts of self-harm.

If you are feeling depressed or have thoughts of self-harm, don’t be afraid to reach out to a certified counselor or crisis hotline. There are always people standing by, waiting to help, despite the pandemic. If you suspect a friend is experiencing poor mental health, try reaching out to them to see if they’re open to receiving help. Sometimes just checking in with someone can alleviate their loneliness, but it’s important to remember that their mental health is not your responsibility – protect yourself with boundaries and know when things are no longer at a level you can help with. It’s okay to refer your friend to a professional who is trained to help them through crisis. 

For immediate help, call 911, or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990, or text TalkWithUs to 66746. (TTY 1-800-846-8517).

Remember that although you may feel alone right now, just know that you’re not facing the pandemic alone. We’re all in this together.

Molly Crockett writes for and, and teaches writing skills for As a health writer, she not only shares nutritional tips and great recipes, but also documents the ups and downs of her diet journey.

The Number One Way to Simplify Your Life


Photo by Igor Starkov from Pexels

Is it touching everything you own and asking yourself if it sparks joy?

Is it decluttering one area at a time and putting things where they go right away so you never end up with a living, breathing, “Keep” pile?

Is it limiting yourself to only one hundred belongings that you can fit into a duffel bag at a moment’s notice?

No. Or yes.

The number one way to simplify your life is to do something that works for you personally.

Not everyone has the time to change their life with tidy magic. And not everyone can take on a slow, speed-of-life approach when they want to get it done right now.

Sometimes people simplify, declutter, downsize, or minimize due to the need to move quickly or just because they’ve finally had enough and need to change something in their lifestyle because it’s driving them bananas.

No matter your reason for applying minimalism to your life, the best way is whatever way works for you personally, because everyone’s preferences, speed, and ability levels are different.

If you don’t know where to start, start by researching the different methods available to you and just pick one to try out. If it works for you, great! If it doesn’t, try a different method. This Ultimate Home Decluttering Guide breaks down the benefits of decluttering as well as several approaches to minimizing your belongings.

Benefits of decluttering include:

  • Improved concentration
  • Reduced stress
  • Improved mood
  • Improved sleep
  • Finding things you thought you lost
  • Increased home safety

Some of the Ultimate Home Decluttering Guide’s tips include:

  • Establish a regular time to declutter daily and weekly
  • Get rid of anything you haven’t used in the past year
  • Have a friend or family member help you
  • Ask yourself, “Would I trade inner peace for this?”
  • Create a quarterly schedule to declutter large areas like the garage or attic
  • Try out to-do lists to organize your efforts
  • Learn to declutter your mail as it arrives daily
  • Return borrowed items to their owners
  • Throw away or recycle anything you don’t need
  • Try filling one trash bag per day with donations, recyclables, or trash as a short-term decluttering method
  • Declutter one item each day (throw away or give away)
  • Try the “four box” method and sort things into keep/not sure/throw away/give away boxes
  • Try the “cardboard box test” and pack items away in a cardboard box – if you don’t open it in a month, donate the whole thing
  • Declutter room by room
  • Look for easy things to discard, such as expired food or medicine (call a local pharmacy for tips on disposing of medicine)
  • Try creative organization methods like an over-the-door shelf or hanger, drawer organizers, tension rods, etc.
  • Start in one corner of a room and declutter one area at a time
  • Declutter hidden spaces like dresser drawers and closet bins too
  • Donate clothing that doesn’t fit well or isn’t comfortable (and therefore isn’t worn regularly!)
  • Maximize your storage space
  • Reduce the number of redundant kitchen tools you have
  • Deal with your stacks of paper
  • Donate unused comfort items like blankets if you have too many to reasonably use
  • Teach kids to clean up their toys as part of their bedtime routine
  • DON’T buy organizers before you see the final result of your decluttering and know exactly what you’re organizing
  • Break tasks down into manageable chunks and schedule your decluttering

The Ultimate Home Decluttering Guide also identifies several clutter personalities:

  • People who don’t recognize their clutter
  • People who clear then re-buy
  • The Superman (organizes without decluttering)

If you recognize yourself in these clutter personalities or you’re curious about trying some of the methods described, go check out and bookmark the Ultimate Home Decluttering Guide – it’s a very valuable resource for staying on task with a decluttering project.



How to Keep Your Body and Mind in Check When at Home

Health Trackers

Photo provided by Siege Media

Keeping up with your mental and physical state is extremely important, especially during times of uncertainty like these. Luckily, there are at-home tools to help you do just that. From a pain tracker that records your hourly symptoms, to a mindfulness tracker that marks your head-to-toe sensations, there are plenty of options available no matter your wellness goals.

Documenting your overall mental and physical well being can help you answer pivotal questions about who you are and how you react to stress. Some questions that these trackers can help answer are:

  • Have you ever wondered what triggers your bad mental health days?
  • How did you physically feel a week ago vs today? What caused this change, if any?
  • Have you drunk enough water today?

The pain, healthy habits, and mindfulness trackers explained below will help you answer the questions above, while allowing you to understand yourself a little bit more.


Pain Tracker 


A pain tracker uses colors to help you understand the level of pain you are experiencing. By being able to track your pain hour-by-hour, you have a great resource to bring to a doctor if and when you choose to seek help for your pain management.


Healthy Habits Tracker


Are there specific habits you want to implement into your daily routine? If so, the healthy habits tracker allows you to record how much sleep you’re getting, if you’re eating food that is good for you, how much water you are drinking daily, and anything else you want to monitor.  How you feel when you wake up and when you are about to go to sleep is also recorded, just to see what habits might make you physically and emotionally improved. 


Mindfulness Tracker 


The mindfulness tracker allows for awareness of your mental well-being and while taking into account what your triggers may be. By listing out your everyday moods, you can see how practicing mindfulness and practicing relaxation techniques are improving your overall, full body well-being. 

If you’re feeling lower than normal, journaling and taking a moment to be conscious of your thoughts can be beneficial to reflect with later on. If it’s one of your better days, identifying the differences in what you’ve been eating, how many hours of sleep you got, or even how much coffee you’ve had can help you incorporate those habits again.

To integrate mindfulness and other healthy habits into your daily routine, the health-management tracker can be printed and used one day at a time, or even one hour at a time. Follow the link to download the printable trackers!


How to Make Any Criticism Constructive


Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Criticism is hard to hear, because no one wants to hear that they’re doing something wrong. But criticism can be a gift, if you know what to look for. 

We often hear about “constructive criticism,” which is meant to help us improve (that’s why it’s constructive). But even well-meaning criticism can feel bad, because it makes us believe negative things about ourselves.

How to Break the Criticism Cycle

Criticism makes us feel bad because we believe that if we were doing things right, there wouldn’t be anything to criticize. Therefore, criticism means we did poorly, and we believe it’s a sign of our failure.

Criticism does not mean failure.

Every final version of something you see has gone through the process of critique and editing. Sometimes we self-edit and critique, and sometimes we ask others to do it for us, like a proofreader, a workshop group, or sending it to a friend and asking for their thoughts. Sometimes we receive criticism we didn’t ask for, and when criticism comes as a surprise we often feel defensive and hurt.

Each time we receive criticism, whether it’s asked for or not, we have an opportunity to learn from it and turn it into something constructive and helpful.

Taking Constructive Criticism

When faced with a criticism, get curious instead of defensive. Ask yourself some questions about it, like: 

  1. Is this criticism true?
  2. Is this criticism something I need to change to improve myself or my work?
  3. Can I use this experience to learn something?

Is it true?

Sometimes people will criticize you and it’s something you should change to be a better version of yourself. But other times, criticism may not actually be relevant. 

When criticism hits us hardest, it’s usually because we already believe a negative thought about ourselves about a similar thing. If I feel like someone is criticizing my writing, it hurts more if I already believe I’m not a good enough writer and they’re echoing that negative belief.

But ask yourself, really deeply ask, if the criticism is true.

And also ask if your interpretation of the criticism is true.

They said I’m a bad parent. Did they say that? Or did they point out to you that your car seat wasn’t installed properly? Is your car seat installed properly?

They said I’m not qualified as an expert on the subject I talk about. Did they say that? Or did they make a broad statement about your field that you took personally? Are you qualified?

They said I’m not good at my job. Did they say that? Or did you get feedback in a review on areas that need improvement? Do you need to improve those areas of your performance?

But if it’s criticism that can help you improve, here’s how to sift out the constructive bits.

Is this something I need to change?

Once you determine if something is true or not, the next step is deciding if it’s something you need to change.

They said my carseat wasn’t installed properly. If this is true, do you need to change it? Absolutely, yes. It’s a safety concern. Go fix your carseat.

They said I’m not qualified. Is this true? Make a list of the reasons you’re qualified to do your work and if you actually are qualified, move along and get back to work. If you determine that you really aren’t qualified for something, then make a plan to get what you need in order to feel confident in your qualifications.

I got a negative review at work. Is the criticism of your work performance true? If so, make a plan with your supervisor to check in on your improvements over the next several months so your next review is outstanding.

Can I learn something?

Whether or not a criticism is true, can you learn from the experience?

They said my carseat wasn’t installed properly. In this example, you learned about proper carseat installation. This is great information to have for the safety of your kids.

They said I’m not qualified. In this situation, you learned about all the things that do qualify you and add evidence to your list of reasons to feel confident when you’re facing imposter syndrome. In your research of additional qualifications, you might have also learned some easy ways to up your credentials to feel even more confident.

I got a negative review at work. In this example, it’s a great time to commit to learning new things at work to take your performance to the next level in your career. The things you improve and learn will be great for your resume too.

Being Vulnerable to Criticism

Criticism feels so uncomfortable because it makes us feel vulnerable. Putting yourself out there into the world as a writer or artist can feel extra vulnerable and intimidating simply because it means people will critique our work.

Someone left a comment on a review of my book that I’m capitalizing on millennials’ insecurities. 

This commenter is criticizing me – but is a book that targets millennials’ insecurities something I need to change? Actually, no. Because my book helps people overcome those insecurities. 

This criticism gave me some clarity. I do hope to attract millennials with insecurities to my book. Because my book is here to help them. 

However, I also received criticism that I didn’t push far enough on certain topics in my book, and this is relevant criticism that I would change next time. I was too timid and didn’t want to make waves with divisive opinions. I value this criticism and will address it in my next book, or a later version of Gaslighting. 

Is There Non-Constructive Criticism?

Absolutely. Sometimes, people’s criticism truly is just bullshit that’s about them.

People who criticize you for not being part of their religion, not living up to their standards or expectations, or not trusting you to make your own choices are people who are criticizing you to control you.

This is not constructive criticism, this is a boundary violation and manipulation tactic. You’re free to simply ignore them and take distance from people who criticize to hurt you.

PS. You can buy my book here!


Stop Hustling: Pacing Yourself is Part of the Plan


Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash

“You’re trying to do it all,” my coach said — gently accusing me of taking on more than I could handle without burning out.

I had just gotten back from a business trip to test a workshop concept and told my coach I’d have it turned into an online course by the end of the month.

And when I told her the rest of the things on my list to accomplish, including book proposals, keeping up on my social media schedule, taking individual coaching clients, and starting an email list, she said, “You’re trying to do it all.”

“No,” I assured her. “I’m not trying to do it all. It all works together. Everything I do supports my brand as an author, and it’s all related. It’s all one thing!”

Okay, she caught me. I was trying to do it all.

I had spent a solid two months developing the workshop into its current state by working on it — and only it — for weeks, while my ideas for other projects got put into a list for later.

My focus got me this far, and I didn’t want to lose momentum.

Since I wanted to start 2020 off organized and with a solid calendar of social media and blog content, it stood to reason that I could not turn my workshop into a six week course at the same time I was writing a book proposal, learning how to make an email list, and regularly posting on my social accounts.

I needed to give the course a little room to breathe while I created the channels I will use to give it life when it’s ready.

Curiously, I wondered what had been making me think I needed to launch myself into the next huge step instead of making a plan that made sense.

Why was I still hustling?

The answer came to me as I was in the middle of a conversation with someone about something my mother did to me as a kid.

After my sixteenth birthday, I decided I wanted to learn to play guitar. A friend’s mom had an old acoustic one sitting around in a garage and she gave it to me.

I named my guitar Lorelai, and she stayed in my room looking very cool. Sometimes I’d take her out of her black case with its shiny silver buckles and I would strum and try to play a chord or two.

But I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t have a plan.

One day, I received a phone call from my sister.

“Mom’s having a yard sale and she’s selling your guitar.”

I exploded over the phone in livid, shrieking tones at my mother that she had no right to sell my guitar!

She replied coolly and calmly, “Well, you haven’t learned to play it. If you tell me when you’re going to learn to play it you can keep it.”

I felt trapped. I didn’t have a plan.

I could not give her an answer I knew would be true and wouldn’t get my guitar scrapped upon the deadline if I hadn’t kept up my end of the bargain.

She offered an alternative: I could keep it, but she wanted to nail it to her living room wall as decor.

I let her sell my guitar.

The false promise of hustle and perfection

That need to figure out a new hobby right away, to be the best at something immediately, to only bring something into my life if I have a plan for it is directly related to the way my mother treated my hobbies.

I had to earn the right to have an idea by hustling to put it into motion.

But now that I know where this belief comes from, I can take away the power it holds over me.

My approach to undoing mental obstacles is similar to trauma therapy. Find the root of the negative thought (in this case, mom sold my guitar because I didn’t learn it right away = I must constantly be working toward a goal as fast as I can), and then process it.

What would the ideal situation have been with my guitar?

  • I would have been allowed to keep it as long as I needed until I either decided to make a plan to learn or I decided to let it go. That decision should never have been forced.
  • If I had decided to stop learning guitar, that decision should have been accepted and not attached to shame for not trying hard enough, or assumed that I never wanted it in the first place. People can change their minds.
  • I would have had opportunities to learn from people who could teach me in a way that made sense. I was limiting myself to self-teaching, when I could have asked for lessons or help. I didn’t have to learn something new in a vacuum.
  • My mom would have supported that I was interested in a new creative hobby and encouraged me to learn at my own pace. I should not have had to justify my desire or my timeline.

Chasing immediate perfection is never the answer, because we all deserve the time it takes to evaluate if a new idea fits into our life and our plan for growth.

I can’t imagine telling anyone, especially a child, “You have to learn this immediately or I’m getting rid of it.”

The pressure of that edict was enormous, unfair, and harmful.

It has kept me in a pattern of thinking I needed to always be jumping to the next thing in my life in order to achieve goals at breakneck speed and learn new skills as quickly as possible. I need to execute things perfectly, and quickly, in order to not lose the thing I’m working on.

I have to succeed before it’s taken away and I lose the chance forever.

Replacing the negative pattern

It’s not enough to simply find and understand the root cause of a negative belief.
You have to pull an Indiana Jones and swap that thought for a positive one that you can believe is just as real.
Here are some thoughts I can try out to see if they feel just as real and believable as the thought that I need to go fast or I’ll lose my chance.
  • I have plenty of time to get this new skill right.
  • It’s okay to take my time on this project.
  • This project is part of my plan and I don’t need to rush it.
  • I am in charge of how long it takes to learn something new, and I can take as long as I need.

Those beliefs feel so much more loving and supportive.

It might take a little time and practice, and I will need to repeat these new beliefs a lot while I swap them out for the old one.

But that’s okay.

I can take as long as I need to learn something new.

PS. I’m teaching people how to stand up for their boundaries after traumatic pasts in my six week course that starts Monday. Email me to reserve a spot at 50% off list price.

What You Need to Know About Weight Gain During Social Distancing


Photo by sheri silver on Unsplash

Now is not the time to freak out about your diet. 

Honestly, NO time is the time to freak out about your diet, for most people. 

You might gain weight during social isolation because we’re all stressed out and impulse buying cherries and pie crust (just me? I stress bake). Gaining weight is fine. You will fluctuate to your normal set point after the stressful period. 

Gaining weight is okay.

Stress or comfort eating is okay.

Snacking “mindlessly” is okay.

It’s all okay — this is an unprecedented time, and sometimes the convenience of a frozen dinner you can throw in the oven on Friday after a timey-wimey work from home week is worth the sanity.

We have to take more time between grocery trips, and we can’t go out mid-week to top up on fresh produce. So that means canned food, frozen food, shelf-stable food.

We have to stay fed, but we don’t have to stay low-carb, counting macros, and sticking to a diet when the global stress level is off the charts.

Yes, do what you can to eat a balanced diet and include fruits and vegetables along with whole grains, and the whole healthy eating nine yards. But you have permission to not be on a diet right now (and forever after this is over).

Exercise During Social Distancing

Can’t get to the gym? You’re also not obligated to keep up a strict exercise regimen right now, especially if you’ve been ill or might become ill. The best thing you can do right now is be as healthy – and rested – as possible. 

Take this time to rest your body.

Embrace joyful movement. Do exercise that makes sense and makes you feel good. This could include taking a walk around the block or a short bike ride if you can go outside. You can do some gentle stretches or yoga. Lift weights or do home calisthenics if these are part of your regular routine and you want to continue them. 

But it’s okay if you just rest and recover right now without an exercise regimen. 

Diet Culture Resources

I highly recommend these amazing books to help you break the diet cycle so you don’t hate yourself for quarantine snacks — they might change your life for long after this social distancing period is over! 

The Fuck It Diet by Caroline Dooner

Health At Every Size by Lindo Bacon 

PS. I overcame my eating disorder with the help of the books above, and now I help others overcome boundaries and traumatic triggers in a six week class that reframes the usual negative spiral in your head. Email me to get on the roster for 50% off!