How I Became a Full Time Reseller

Quick recap for those just joining us, or for those who may enjoy hearing about my bumpy life journey: For several years I made my living working for a public school district here in Minnesota. Started out as a playground lady when my kids were all attending elementary school, and along the way added many different job titles. I subbed for Special Education paras, supervised the loud circle of hell known as the lunchroom, taught preschool, was a glorified door opener and eventually ended up as one of the secretaries in the very school where I began my own elementary school journey way back in the seventies. Talk about life coming full circle!

I was, and am, grateful for all that the various positions gave me. A regular paycheck. Hours that mostly coincided with those of my children. Holidays and vacations that also matched my kids. Health insurance!

It was good until it wasn’t. And when it got bad, it went full scale rotten in a hurry.

I found myself having to decide between my mental health and a paycheck. The fact that the paychecks were small, and I was working for an administration that said one thing but practiced quite another made the decision relatively simple. 

Know your worth. That phrase is kind of tired but still remains very true. I tell it to women who are struggling with lousy partners, and when I realized that being stuck in a crappy job is a lot like being stuck in a crappy relationship I practiced what I preach.

The important thing to keep in mind here is that I had a backup plan. Without it, I’d still be dealing with the whole OVERWORKED UNDERPAID drama. Or, maybe I would have eventually stood up for myself. Who knows? 

But now, I am doing something that I love. I make a living selling clothing, shoes, accessories and pretty much everything else, online. 

This was not a new venture for me. I began my reseller journey way back in the year of our lord 2000. The woman who taught one of my kids in preschool had pulled me aside one day and mentioned his vast and adorable wardrobe. “You could make a lot of money selling his outgrown clothing on eBay” she said. 

Now, keep in mind- at that time I was (supposedly) happily married and doing the whole stay at home mom thing. But my husband was working a lowly insurance job and was in graduate school at night. He also had a short lived temp gig delivering pizza for a little extra cash. When this teacher told me about a potential money making venture, I ran with it.

For many years I had worked part time for The Gap. And as anyone who was employed there in the nineties can tell you, it was the shit. We scored clearance and marked down items for pennies, all day long. At Gap Kids, too. So when I say that my kids had a lot of clothes, lady, I mean they had A LOT OF CLOTHES. I realized that I was sitting on a goldmine and also, a way to help out with the family finances.

We didn’t even have a computer at the time (oh hi, I’m old!) but we finally got one and within days I had created an eBay account and almost immediately began pulling in a nice profit every month. Big Daddy was thrilled, at first. He quit delivering pizza and focused on getting his career path paved and smooth. 

And I sold. I have always been an avid thrifter and garage saler, like from childhood. Secondhand shopping was in my blood and when I realized the veritable mountains of clothing to be found and sold, I began thrifting with gusto. 

I’d drop the bigger kids off at kindergarten or preschool, give the little ones a snack and a sippy cup and off we’d go. I began participating in the eBay chat boards, and not only did I find a bunch of new friends (including my current bestie), I learned. 

I discovered fashion and textiles and vintage and measurements. I picked up photography tips, selling techniques and an encyclopedic knowledge of style names, fabric contents, patterns and designers. On weekends, when that wonderful husband of mine wasn’t “golfing”, I’d get the newspaper and the map book and hit rummage sales. 

And I was very successful. I think at the height of it, before my marriage imploded, I was bringing in at least $2500.00 a month in profit. Which doesn’t sound super exciting now, but back then, it was a huge help. Especially considering the four little kids I was raising at the same time. 

All of this came in real handy when the husband walked out. And came in even handier when he decided to quit paying child support.

I like to say that used clothing kept my kids fed, and it’s the truth. 

When the shit hit the fan, I hit Goodwill. 

I ramped up my business and kept our little family afloat for a long time. Of course I lost the house, but that was because of the three loans that had been taken out on it. A nearly $4,000.00 house payment would have been a hard reach for most people. For a stay at home mom slinging gently worn Chico’s, it was impossible.

That was when I started working part time at the school. I still did eBay, right up until my account was suspended and then banned, when I had to file for bankruptcy. I will never forget receiving that email- I was on a 15 minute break at the preschool and cried like a baby for approximately 10 minutes. Probably ate my lunch simultaneously, because even when life throws a gut punch a bitch has to eat.

So reselling was paused. And it stayed paused until a happy hour with my two best friends, in 2017. Our girl Joyce said something about Poshmark. I had heard of it in passing, but hadn’t given it much thought. How could you do reselling on an app? Oh lord. Sometimes it’s fun to look back on those old timer moments, isn’t it?

Anyway. I did figure it out, and before long my sales on Poshmark outpaced my secretary paychecks. The extra money was a godsend, and the adventures my friends and I went on in search of thrifted bargains are some of the best memories I’ll ever have. 

It ended up being not only a safety net, but a new career. When the school district placed that last straw on this old camel’s back, I knew it was time to take the leap. 

And now I am a full time reseller. I pay my mortgage with this income. A car payment. All the other bills that grownups have, too. 

I would not recommend this job to anyone, though. At least not to 99% of the population. It takes a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career (do you know how long I’ve been trying to work a Liam Neeson quote into this blog?)

It’s hard work. It’s stressful. Bookkeeping, and doing my own taxes, is a panicky organizational nightmare. My employment hinges on a few apps staying in business. It can get lonely at times. There are no sick days, vacation days, or paid holidays. I know that I could wake up tomorrow and find out Poshmark has gone poof into that good night. Or that Depop has become like most of its users and ghosted me. 

But for now, it’s working. I can work a 15 hour day or a zero hour day. My coworkers are cats. I get to shop for a living. My work wardrobe consists of leggings, sports bras and sweatshirts. If I’m having an awful mental health day, I don’t have to suck it up and pretend everything is fine. I can work while watching Ted Lasso or listening to BeyoncĂ©. I have incredible flexibility. I work my ass off on my own terms and without having to put up with hypocrisy and toxic personalities.

I remind myself that even while having a reliable income and the support of a union I somehow managed to get screwed. I remind myself of how it felt when people who supposedly had my back stayed silent when there was a knife sticking out it. I remind myself that I have done some really scary shit and survived.

Life is never predictable and now, more than ever, I know that. Thankfully I also know that you may find my picture in the dictionary under the word resourceful. The bumps and roadblocks along the way have taught me to not only roll with the punches, but to turn that punch into a paycheck. 

This is so not the life I pictured for myself all those years ago, when the future was vast and wide and I had a faster metabolism and plenty of collagen. But it’s my life, and for now, I’m loving it.

Gotta go- while writing this I sold a sweet pair of overalls from Anthropologie for $85. That’s what I used to make in one day as the person who enrolled children in school. Go hug a school secretary, my friends.


The Dog Shaped Hole in my Heart

This is the one. This is the story that has been blocking all the other stories, a virtual plug. It’s a cold snowy Sunday in March and this feels like the day to try and yank it out. Bear with me, or not. Like labor, this one may be long and erratic and there will be crying at the end. Also during.

For those who know me in the real world, and for those who have followed along online, Walter has been one of the main characters in this cuckoo production called My Life. One of the constants. Like sunshine and snow and happiness and sadness, Walter was always there. And if he wasn’t around, he was just outside. Or napping on the porch. 

Fifteen years. That’s what we had with him. It’s so much longer than many people get with a beloved pet. And somehow it feels like such a ripoff. I wanted more time. I wanted him to be around forever and then some. 

For those who don’t know me in the real world, Walter was a dog. The dog, actually. My one and only. I think there’s a search bar in this ancient blog- find it and type in Walter and you will find many posts, mentions, pictures. Walter was as thoroughly interwoven into this story as his fur was into our clothes and furniture. 

We got him at the Humane Society thanks in part to a crusty but sweet old friend who told me, as we stood there in the cold back Big Dog room with the various yaps and barks echoing off the cinder block walls, “every kid needs a dog”. Also thanks in part to an immediate connection. 

I will go to my grave knowing that Walter and I were supposed to find each other. It was destined. I needed him more than anyone could have ever convinced me, and he surely needed me. We were like two bruised and damaged planets that happened upon one another in a vast and desolate galaxy. Which one of us held the other in their little gravity grip? I’d like to think it was equal forces. We held each other down.

And now I’m floating in that dark black hole again. My gravity is gone.

Whoa. That’s what you’re thinking, right? This chick is nuts.

Well yes. Have we met? I am indeed nuts. That’s part of my charm.

But I’ll argue with you if you feel that grieving a dog classifies someone as crazy. Grief is no stranger in these here parts. It’s a frequent visitor and as I get older I realize that grief comes in all shapes and sizes and intensities. 

Grief is shaped like a dog. It has velvety soft ears that flap happily on walks. It has coarse fur that comes to a downy little swirl on a barrel chest. Grief stands next to me in the kitchen, eagerly awaiting for some chicken to accidentally fall to the floor. Grief is a grimy blue collar that now rests atop a wooden box.

I’ve lost people and it hurt. I miss my mom with such a deep, primal stab so huge and raw that it still takes my breath away after several years. I miss my dad. The feelings with him aren’t as painful as the mom ones, they are softer and less sharp but just as deep and they poke me with just as much frequency. 

I’ve lost grandparents and aunts and uncles and acquaintances. Favorite musicians and writers and actors. They are all missed and well loved. 

But the loss of Walter has been the one that sticks. It’s the stringy blobs that cling to your fingers while kneading dough. It’s that quote I love about the scent of a violet that’s been crushed by a nonchalant heel.

It didn’t even occur to me that he was aging. He was a puppy, in my eyes, up until the end. 

He was innocence and purity and forgiveness and unconditional love. 

He was walks. He was hilarity. 

He was the king of finding food literally EVERYWHERE. 

He was patiently impatient. He was a foot warmer and sometimes tried to be a lap dog and a shoulder dog.

He waited in the front window and he was the first thing you saw when you pulled up to our house. That sweet yellow face, more white than yellow in later years. Those hopeful brown eyes with the ginger lashes. He was always waiting. 

He loved snow. He loved the first warm days of spring and rolling in dewy grass. 

Walter never played fetch. He didn’t give a shit about sticks. 

He had exactly one toy he liked, a stuffed Grinch, and when that toy was destroyed he was finished. I once found the exact same Grinch at a thrift store and when I triumphantly presented it to him, he looked at it and then walked away. Been there, done that. Movin’ on. 

I was not a good dog mom. Far from it. We were poor and there were times I could barely feed my human kids. Walter got what was available. But he survived. We all did.

When I wrote an essay about having to go to the food shelf, and it went all kinds of viral, there was a comment from someone that said “pretty dumb to have a dog if you can’t feed your kids” and while they were not entirely wrong, it still shook me to think of cutting corners that way. 

As I said earlier, I was blissfully unaware of time stacking up on him. Oh, for sure I saw the fur on his face turning lighter and lighter. I noticed how it took him a while to stand up. I felt his lumps and bumps multiply and grow. 

But it didn’t really sink in until a woman we were passing while on a walk paused and said “he’s getting around great for being such an old man!” 

THE AUDACITY. I was actually offended for him. That was the first time I looked at him through a stranger’s eyes. And I saw his winter white face, his bony back, his lumpy bumpy body. And I loved him even more. But I also started thinking about the things we try really hard to not think about. 

Soon after that he could no longer hop up onto my bed, even with the ottoman I’d brought in from the porch. He slept on the couch, and more often than not, I’d sleep out there with him.

Walter bore witness to the raising of four feral children. He helped a depressed lonely woman (that’s me!) get outside and exercise. He was a reluctant viewer of a few awkward trysts with shadowy lovers. He loved us all without a shred of judgment or pity or obligation. 

I am not ready to talk publicly or I guess, write publicly, about his last day or his last hour. I still haven’t looked at the pictures that our dear friend Whitney took that evening. Looking at them will cement it. It will be the final goodbye and I cannot do that, not yet. 

I will say that while I am haunted by guilt, even now with 14+ months passed, I know deep down that we sent him off with the dignity and the fanfare that he deserved. Hell, I’d be okay with a last day like that. 

A good walk. So many good treats. And surrounded by those I loved, and who loved me.

Death was something that I feared greatly. It was the ultimate terror, the worst thing that could happen. But now, it’s a little less scary. 

Because even though I am probably one of the least spiritual or religious people around, the thought of seeing him, waiting there at the window for me, is comforting. 

For now, I wait. I take walks that aren’t as fun. I smile when I see random food on the ground. I sometimes absentmindedly reach down about mid-thigh to scratch a knobby furry head that isn’t there. I feel him sometimes, just like I can tell when my mom is riding shotgun with me or my dad is shaking his head at my high pitched panic over a minor household crisis.

I wait. And I miss him. 


We made up a song for Walter back when we were all younger. For the life of me I can’t recall the tune we based it on but the words were:

Walty McWalterton, prettiest dog I know

Walty McWalterton, always on the go

He’s pretty

He’s yellow

He’s such a fine fellow (carry that last note with some soprano gusto)

Walty McWalterton, prettiest dog I know

We sang this to him as he passed. And sometimes I find myself humming it just because.


Thanks, Trauma! And also, Lint Rollers

Hey there! Again with the restart, eh? Yeah. Well, there’s a lot to unpack but today the urge to write absolutely pounced on me and I decided to go with it.

Trauma. Every one of us has some. Whether your trauma is that time you cut your toenail too short and it hurt to wear shoes for a week, or you witnessed a fatal car crash, or you were relentlessly abused by a trusted family member, trauma is trauma is trauma. Just like strokes, there’s different traumas for different folks. Whatchutalkinbout, Jenny? 

So this morning, I was getting a darling Boden dress ready to package up and ship out, when I started thinking about my odd personality traits. Like, take my reselling habits, for example. 

I am obsessive about sending out perfect items. I will spend way too long on a pair of jeans that someone has paid $25 for…I’ll turn them inside out. Trim little threads. Use the sweater shaver on the LINING of the pockets. Yeah, those of you who have spent time with me in real life are undoubtedly laughing a little right now. Because I may come across as many things, but a perfectionist is probably not one of them.

It got me thinking what I might have been like if my life had been more “normal”. What if my parents hadn’t divorced? What if there was no evil stepdad who used me as a punching bag? What if I’d had a good marriage to a good man? 

These little quirks that manage to poke out like wispy feathers from a down coat make me think that in the Bizarro Alternate Universe there is a different Jenny, one who can let the tiny things go but who also probably has fewer tiny things to obsess about. 

This BAU Jenny (lol to all my Criminal Minds homies) is most likely an overachiever. She’s surely college educated and maybe even has a successful career in some sort of challenging and lofty profession. Advertising? Writing? I doubt it’s anything in the sciences because trauma free or not, this brain is not wired that way. 

I wonder if she’s fun to be around, though. Does she find the humor in the most unlikely places like I do? Can she make people smile during shitstorms? Because I can. And no matter how I got that skill, it’s one that I appreciate. 

We can’t go back in time. We can’t unscramble an egg. 

But what we can do, is make an omelette with that shit. 

I’ll have extra mushrooms in mine. 

And now back to that Boden dress. I swear I saw some lint in one of the pockets.


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