Bracing for a Blizzard

It's the calm before the storm and from what the forecasters are saying, it could be a big one. I'm prepared as best as I can be but there are some things that you just cannot be prepared for.

With the warning of possible 60 mph winds there is the possibility of losing power. Having gone through Hurricane Sandy and Irene and being without power for days was rough. It was not the middle of winter however, and the idea of losing heat scares me. It was cold enough when it happened in October.

This storm will be affecting a huge amount of people on the East coast and everyone is scrambling to get ready for it.

Here in New Jersey the snow is due to begin late tonight and I am happy for that. No worries about commuting as I no longer work weekends (yay!) but my son does and even though he works about 1 mile away it can still be a treacherous ride.

Stay safe everyone and prepare yourself for the barrage of snow pictures that your friends will be posting online.

Grieving Through the Holidays

Grief is strange. One moment you think you have it under control and then out of nowhere you are hit with the overwhelming urge to collapse and give in to the tears.

I've been on this roller coaster of emotions for a few months now and the only thing I know for sure is that the world goes on in spite of my grief. I feel like I just want to keep to myself and get through this month without having to fake false excitement over a holiday that I pretty much haven't celebrated in years. I am not depressed; I'm grieving and much of the people I come into contact with don't seem to understand the process.

We all will face dealing with the loss of someone we love but unless it is fresh to you, you seem to forget how it feels. Yes, grief does end but you are forever changed from it. I look at the change that has happened to me as a gift. There is light in the midst of all this darkness.

Even though I have learned lessons from my dad's passing I still have the sadness. It is going to take time and unfortunately for my family, the timing of his passing has us dealing with these firsts when the loss is still relatively fresh.

I know we are not the only ones who are missing a loved one right now. My advice to anyone is to allow yourself to feel the sadness. Unless you stop and feel all the emotions you cannot get through them. It's hard to face your day-to-day adult responsibilities when the world goes on in spite of your grief. I've gotten to the place where I don't care if it seems like people don't understand or even if they seem to pity me. Someday they will be where I am at right now.

Everyone grieves differently and handles their emotions differently. Find what works for you. Grief can be exhausting and at this time I need to listen to my own needs and act upon them. I am determined to move forward with my life after my dad's passing honoring him by living up to my potential. It is what he would have wanted.

There is so much that I wish I would have known about my dad and because of this I am going to reach out to his relatives who have knew him before I was even a thought.

I remember Christmas' past and can smile and feel happy about many of those memories. Looking through old photos and home movies is bittersweet but also helpful in accepting that my dad's time here was up. He had a good life overall.

I do miss him but I cannot get caught up in that. My dad was my first teacher and the lessons he tried to teach me did sink in. Those lessons helped to mold who I am and because of that, he lives on through me. I will never forget the influence he had on me and I am determined to not let him down. His life meant something and for me to collapse and wallow in sadness isn't honoring his life. Life goes on and I need to move forward. There are moments where I succumb to the sadness but I cry and get it out. This is a process and it doesn't matter how long it takes. Nothing lasts forever except for love. Love never dies.

Life's Too Short

Life's too short to sweat the small stuff. It's also too short to deal with unnecessary bullshit. Plain and simple.

Since my dad passed just about three months ago, I have been riding this roller coaster of emotions called grief. I was blessed that up until a few weeks ago I was self-employed and unlike my family members I was able to fully feel all of my emotions because I didn't have to leave my house.

Life doesn't stand still for those who are grieving and I felt that my family was courageous to be able to go out into the world and do responsible adult-like things. I managed to scrape by on my meager self-employment earnings but there were days when the grieving process overwhelmed me.

It was during this time that I was able to do a whole lot of soul-searching in between my bouts of uncontrollable crying and I came to a lot of conclusions. I had to accept many things that happened that I couldn't change and most of all I had to realize that my dad's passing brought me blessings.

Yes, in the midst of all the darkness there was light once I was ready to see it. I feel at peace (finally) with myself, for the most part. The grieving process is far from over but I am starting to see that it has brought about changes in me that will stay with me for the rest of my time here.

I feel enlightened and I long for the day when my other family members feel it too.

Life changes after you lose someone you love and although I have lost people before it was different this time around. I never felt the heartache the way I did when my dad passed. Maybe he is the first person who I loved deeply enough to feel the tremendous loss. I don't know why exactly but my soul tells me that everything is okay now.

I've gone into myself and searched for answers. I've remembered things that I've always known but buried inside me. I truly see that love is all that matters and although my feelings about my dad were complicated at times, I know that deep down I always loved him.

They say that all you have left is memories and it is those memories that have helped me accept his passing. My dad was a complicated man because he was a functioning alcoholic. Growing up with him wasn't easy at times but when I think back about what kind of father he was I suddenly don't have that much to complain about. He really was all about his family. He had personal demons that sometimes got in the way but at the end of the day, he did his best.

I spent far too many years judging him by his disease but shortly after he passed it dawned on me that his drinking didn't matter. I could see who he was and I no longer felt the need to focus on the ugliness of his disease. I saw a man who was fiercely loyal to his children even though he was quiet about it a times. When the chips were down he was there for us and that really is all that matters.

He had an insatiable thirst for knowledge and although he was a man of few words, when he spoke it did have meaning. He had a quiet wisdom about him and the funny thing is that I feel that his advice will still come to me when I need it. Yes I believe he is guiding me from the other side and I feel very strongly that he is almost closer to me now than he was the last few years of his life.

Since losing my dad I find myself sweating the small stuff so much less and being more grateful for all the "little" things I didn't notice much before.

Growing up my dad exposed me to many different ideas through the vast library he kept. These books helped mold my ideas and beliefs and we talked many times about those beliefs. I realized just how strong his beliefs were when I stopped and looked back and remembered different events in his life. Even though his passing was sudden and unexpected (for the most) I believe that he was at peace with it. He was tired and had things in the past been different, yes, he might still be here but I believe the freedom he has now doesn't make him regret leaving one bit. He is free now. Free of the body that was failing and free to move on to his next adventure.

I believe that we will meet again because our souls are meant to meet again. I want to be able to thank him for all he did for me that I didn't realize until after he passed. I have thanked him but I want to have a conversation with him and I know that will happen one day.

In the meantime I am trying to make him proud by living the best life possible. He always expected his children to strive to be the best and for a time I failed him and myself. His passing made me see that I need to turn my life around and I have. I am following through on that theme by daily gratitude checks and a new mission to not allow negativity to consume my life. I say what I need to say and I try not to put off anything. Life's too short.

Blessings in Grief

Grieving my dad is a process that I am finally making some progress with. I am beginning to see the light through all this darkness.

Life has gone on since my dad passed on to the other side and even though I have forced myself to go back out into the world, my memories of him have not diminished.

The pain is less because instead of focusing on the loss I am able to see the blessings. Focusing on the love helps the healing.

I can't say that I don't cry anymore because I do. I can't say that I still don't have those moments of obsessive regrets because they are still there beneath the surface. I am better able to reason with them now.

The experience of grief is ever-changing and unique to everyone. There is a sadness in my heart but it is slowly being filled with love which is making this process easier.

Sometimes I worry that accepting this loss will diminish it. I know that is silly but a normal feeling.

Death is a part of life and there is no escaping it. You have to face it and cannot push the feelings aside. You have to feel all the feelings as they come. I think the only way to heal is to feel.

November 24th was my dad's birthday. It is going to be a somber day as his family will remember him on what would have been his 86th birthday. Part of me feels like he should still be here but he is not. Instead of wishing him "happy birthday in heaven" (because I don't believe in that) I will celebrate the 85+ years he did have here and be grateful for it.

He lives on through the lives he touched. My dad was a great teacher and he continues that from the other side. There have been many new lessons I have learned from his passing.

The grieving process is so much harder than I ever imagined. It is getting easier to manage and I am so grateful for that. I do need to remind myself that my dad doesn't want us to be so broken that we cannot function. We can't allow ourselves to continue to be lost in our grief.

Life goes on and he would be the first to say that.

Life Goes On

Grieving is a process with no rules. The only thing I am sure of is that life goes on while you are stuck in the darkness of it.

I always hated how people seemed to "count down" how long it has been since their loved one passed. I just didn't get it. I judged them for holding onto their grief not realizing that they weren't holding on at all- they were prisoners of their loss.

I am a prisoner also. It's been two months (which isn't a long time at all- I KNOW that!) and although I am a prisoner of grief I can feel myself making progress.

This chart is helpful because it gives you an idea of what to expect but what it doesn't say is how on any given day/moment, you might experience any combination of those feelings. Where am I today?

I woke up this morning and before I even had my coffee I found myself in tears. Maybe it is because it's been two months and those memories of my dad's final days haunt me. No matter what I do I can't seem to get past them.

I have had my days where I have been able to say "my dad died" without tearing up. I do know that he is feeling the love on the other side and I know that he is with us. It's just different now.

It all just seems so unfinished. I beg sometimes for answers and assurance from him that it is okay.

All I can think about is how I wanted to help him but I was powerless to do so. Part of me feels like he just wanted to go home and I couldn't make that happen for him. He hated being in the hospital and even if a teeny tiny part of him knew he wasn't coming home again, he didn't share that with me.

Last night I found myself home alone. My dad was on my mind (it's rare when he is not) so I decided to meditate and even did some mirror gazing. I think I just was feeling desperate for answers. At that moment I think my emotions were running way too high and although I was open, nothing was going to get "through" at that time.

I have felt his presence and even have gotten "without a doubt" signs. I have even "seen" him which means so much to me. I don't care how crazy people think I am. I believe and I know he did too.

Last week while my husband and I were painting his old room my dad was there. We were silent as we were both focused on painted a dresser. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a man and at first, just thought it was my husband. In my mind I said "wait- Joe doesn't wear glasses" and I realized it was my dad standing watch, supervising the project just as he had done so many times before.

As I moved my head to look directly at him, it faded although I know he still was there. I told my husband that dad was next to him watching us paint and probably wanting to correct us. We both laughed remembering how tough it was to do projects with my dad's watchful presence.

I think we both felt comforted by knowing that he was there but also sad that we couldn't have more than that.

It is different now and maybe someday there will be more comfort in knowing he is still around. Right now it feels like there is so much I want to say to him and even though he was a man of few words, I miss hearing those few words.

It's funny but not too long ago out of nowhere suddenly the thought came to me that there are no "do-overs". I know this was a without a doubt sign/message. Accepting that fact is tough.

It's not like I am burdened by constant feelings of regret or even guilt because I am not. It is normal to wish for just one more moment after someone you love dies. Yes there are things I regret not doing but it wouldn't have changed a thing.

Love Never Dies

My beloved grand-dog Cassie crossed over the Rainbow bridge today. I know my dad was there for her.

My dad loved Cassie. Growing up we had dogs and cats and my dad was truly an animal lover. Cassie filled the void that was left when there was no longer an animal in my parents' house. My daughter would bring Cassie to visit her Grandpa and he loved it.

Cassie was one of those dogs that seemed more like a person. She didn't need to be walked on a leash because she was so well-trained that she listened. She loved to sit on your lap and enjoyed being around a group of people because that meant she would get more attention. Cassie loved attention. At one time she was full of energy and would go from person to person working the room for love.

My daughter used to say that Cassie was a little girl hidden in a dog suit and that is exactly how she treated her all these years. Cassie had so many clothes and toys that she was like a spoiled little girl but to me, she never seemed spoiled.

Before I had a human grandchild I had Cassie. Even when my grandsons were born, Cassie still rated highly as my grand-dog. Cassie was my 4-legged granddaughter and Captain and Coco are my 2-legged grandsons. That is just how it is to me.

Cassie's health had been declining the last few months and as much as we hoped for a miracle, we all knew her time was coming. When my dad passed a little more than 2 weeks ago, I worried about how my daughter would take having to make the choice to end Cassie's suffering when she (like the rest of us) are still coming to grips with adjusting to life without my dad.

It was such a painful decision, one that she struggled with for some time but today Cassie let her know that it was time.

I didn't even have words to comfort my daughter because honestly, there is nothing I can say. I'm still struggling with accepting that my dad has passed. What could I possibly say to my daughter who was facing yet another great loss?

Saying goodbye is so painful. Cassie has been the constant in my daughter's life for so long. I always dreaded this day because I knew it would be so hard for her. Losing her right after losing my dad seems cruel but maybe there is comfort to be found.

I know he greeted Cassie as she made her way across the rainbow bridge. I can almost picture it- Cassie running to him, seeing the familiar face of someone who loved her.

Cassie was so special to our family and like my dad, it will take time to move on from this loss. Grieving is a part of life that people tend to avoid thinking about probably because it hurts so badly. I am trying to remember that love never dies. Death changes things but it can't change the love. It just becomes different.

The love will always be there in the memories and that will never die.

Secrets to Successful Online Selling

"Turning Your Trash into Treasure" is my first book that is available on Amazon. (just search by the title or follow link on this blog)

As a writer I prefer to write about what I am most passionate about and what I know. I recently reached my 6 year anniversary selling on eBay under the name PMBenfield. Previously I had sold under a different name that I no longer use. Reaching top seller plus status took many sales and a lot of work but it was worth it.

I have learned so much about how to sell online and this is why I wrote the guide that I did. Turning your Trash into Treasure is an easy-to-understand guide to help anyone who wants to get started earning some extra cash from their stuff that they no longer want/need or use.

After giving myself a break from online selling ( I stopped for about 2 weeks) I recently started to list again. I am ignoring some inventory that hasn't moved and instead focused on selling some new-to-me items.

Books are not an easy re-sell online but being faced with a huge (and I mean HUGE) amount of books to move I decided to change my attitude and accept the challenge.

As I state in my book sometimes it doesn't matter how much money you make when your goal is to find a new home for an item. Currently I have 13 items listed for sale. About 5 of these items are books and the majority are listed as buy-it-now or best offer. Just about any offer I get I will take. Again, the goal is to find the book a new home.

Storing items while I wait for them to be sold takes organization. I can admit that back when I got started I wasn't perfect about staying organized. I can remember a frantic moment here and there when an item sold and I searched to find where I put it.

These days I have a process and even though I struggle at times to stay on course, ultimately keeping organized will save time later on.

At the moment I have several already packed boxes of inventory which if I decide to re-list these items I will be ready to ship on a moment's notice.

With such a large inventory of books I have taken a different approach to my organizing. I have boxes of books to be listed and another box of books that are currently listed for sale. Listing books can be time consuming and in order to avoid making mistakes I am only listing about 5 a day. Taking pictures is easy but I have to go slowly to determine the condition of the book which means slowing down and paying attention to detail.

Correctly identifying the condition of anything that you sell is essential to building a good rating with your customers! Ebay does stand behind their sellers but if you mess up your posting by not mentioning imperfections it can cost you money.

Most books sell for on average between $5 to $15. That is not a lot of money. If you have to refund someone it hurts. It does take time to list an item for sale but if you rush through it you are more likely to make errors.

The other part about selling online that can be frustrating is the amount of time it might take for an item to sell. There are days when I have to remind myself of how long some items previously took to sell. I remind myself to just hang in there. Do the tedious work now of listing items and then play the waiting game.

I have so much inventory right now that I can easily distract myself by slowly listing what I have and hopefully the sales will start happening. It usually does. Patience is a virtue that I am lacking but like everything else, practice makes perfect.

If you have questions about selling online send me a message or an e-mail at

Thanks for taking a look!

Monday Motivation

Every day I have a plan. It might seem like baby steps but every step I take is one step closer to reaching my goals.

A lesson learned in life is that nothing worthwhile is going to be handed to you. The greatest satisfaction comes from earning what you have.

I'm not afraid of hard work. Results will happen, maybe not at first, but they will come.

On to my daily to-do's knowing that when my day is done I can relax knowing I have planted the seeds to a better tomorrow.

What motivates you?

Getting Naked

Creative "types" can relate to what I am feeling today. I finally realized a dream a few months ago when I self-published my first book "Turning Your Trash into Treasure". My first book is a how-to guide for getting started selling online.

Writing is a passion of mine but it is also like getting naked. Although I feel confident about what I wrote, I still feel very vulnerable about how people might react to it. I get the same way about selling my crafts/creations. At times I don't feel like any of it is "good enough".

I've thrown out wreaths I made that others have complimented me for. Being an artist is tough.

I chose to write "Turning Your Trash into Treasure" as my first book because I wanted to write about a topic that I felt confident about. I have always enjoyed flea markets and finding treasures in attics and other forgotten places. After my grandparents passed and my parents moved out of their home that they spent 50 years in, suddenly I had a surplus of "stuff".

I admire old "things" but like to live without clutter. It was time to get busy and find homes for all these treasures. I turned to eBay and eventually Etsy and learned a lot along the way. What I learned about selling online I put into my book in a way that any novice could understand.

Selling online is a part-time hobby for me that earns me some extra cash. My book is free today for Kindle users and I hope that this promotion will help to raise book sales. This is just one step in my long-term goal to eventually be able to not have to work a crappy retail job that has no future.

In the meantime I will try and cope with feeling "naked" as I put my work out there for the world to see. Check out my book for free on Kindle and leave me a review. Try and be kind and feel free to email me with questions or comments (or leave a comment here).

Turning Your Trash into Treasure

I realized a long-time goal this year when I self-published my first book "Turning Your Trash into Treasure". I followed the rule "write about what you know" when I chose to focus on writing this guide for selling items online. It took me years to achieve but I reached the goal of becoming a top-rated seller on eBay and that helped me to gain the confidence to write this book.

Let me tell you how (and why) I got started selling online. I'm a practical person; maybe too much so at times. I don't like clutter and prefer to live without excess possessions. When my children were growing I made it a ritual that we would go through items like toys and clothing and donate to charity what they no longer needed or wanted. I even tried making some money by having yard sales but never found it worth the effort.

A friend of one of my daughter's gave her a few boxes of items that he no longer wanted. There was an entire box of gay-themed movies. My daughter had no use for these and feeling that it was a waste to just toss them in the trash, I volunteered to sell them on eBay. The response to them was overwhelming and I got hooked on selling on eBay.

We didn't get rich from selling unwanted movies on eBay but we did earn some cash for stuff that was going to get thrown away. I built up a following on eBay and starting going through closets and the basement listing stuff that was just collecting dust. It was a fun hobby that lasted a few months.

Fast forward a few years later and my husband was working at a recycling facility. He was bringing home slightly damaged and some brand-new items that weren't garbage but not really needed by us. I got excited when I realized that I had an opportunity to get back into eBay again. Little did I know that my hobby was going to turn into more than just a hobby when soon after I got laid off from my job.

Selling unwanted items on eBay has helped me to supplement my family's income and it is a "job" that I enjoy. Selling online is not easy and I tried to stress that in my book. I am not rich from selling on eBay but it has helped us get through some tough financial times.

I don't think I know anyone who doesn't have "stuff" that they don't need. We get busy in our day-to-day lives and while times flies, stuff accumulates. Well-meaning family and friends pass off stuff to us that we in turn stick in a closet, basement or garage. Our families grow up and out of stuff and it just seems to multiply, crowding our space. I do believe in donating unwanted items and I do but I also can use the cash so I sell it online.

My book is a helpful, easy to understand guide for the person who wants to earn some cash and clean up! Order my book and if you have questions about how to sell online, send me a message and I would be happy to help!