Why I Hate Verizon

I just spent the last few days interacting with Verizon on a couple of issues related to my phone, internet, and televisions. Three communication resources I can’t live without. And, they have to rank as the company with the worst possible customer service ever. They make it completely impossible to get a person on the phone. So, I used the chat feature on their website, but of course, you only get a sales rep to respond. And since I wasn’t calling about buying any new products, they were completely unhelpful. That’s Why I Hate Verizon.

Their reps are segmented by very specific categories (mobile phone, landline phone, tv, or internet) so no single person can address all of your issues which is ironic because they sell their products in bundles across all 3 categoires.

Verizon logo

And the most frustrating part is that as a consumer, you need them. You can’t function properly without them. They are the only game in town and they know it, so what do they care? Essentially they are a monopoly and they don’t have any incentive or competitive reason to do a better job.

More Reasons I Hate Verizon – Among Others

Facebook logo

It’s the same with Facebook. As the dominant player in the social media space (they also own Instagram and What’s App) there’s no way to get around taking part in their platforms.

And if we are talking about business monopolies you can’t leave out Amazon. While they provide excellent customer service, they are such huge employers in many towns across the US, they can work their people extremely hard for very low wages.

Amazon logo

As women of a certain age we know, America has long been accustomed to monopolies. According to Investopedia, “to date, the most famous United States monopolies, are Andrew Carnegie’s Steel Company (now U.S. Steel), John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company, and the American Tobacco Company.”

American monopolies date back to colonial administrators who awarded large companies exclusive contracts to help build the New World. “From the late 19th to the early 20th century, the three organizations mentioned above maintained singular control over the supply of their respective commodities. Without free-market competition, these companies could effectively keep the price for steel, oil, and tobacco high.”

Historically, there wasn’t any government regulation until the 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act was passed which led to the eventual dismantling and restructuring of both companies.

For a company to be considered a monopoly the Federal Trade Commission has to define the market the business is engaged in and then prove they own more than 60% market share of it. We all remember AT&T which was broken up in 1982 because they basically owned all the telephone lines in the country. They virtually had no competition. Because of the Anti Trust Law it was broken down and the results were incredibly positive. New companies emerged, they could compete for customers and prices declined.

What is so surprising for our group, are the effects of today’s monopolies in the tech, pharmaceutical, financial, and food industries. They do way more harm than just driving up prices. They now contribute to much more dire matters like power outages, food insecurity, and sky rocketing drug prices.

For example, Insulin – which has been around for more than 100 years, is a drug that regulates diabetic symptoms and is used by 7.5 million people in the US. A recent study in 2018 found it costs 10 times more here than in non-US countries.

Insulin is over priced in the USA

According to the Oxford Academic Journal of Law and Bio Sciences, “the United States comprises only 15 percent of the global insulin market, yet it accounts for almost 50 percent of insulin-related revenue worldwide.” It is pure robbery.

You probably remember an example of a recent successful breakup. The FTC won a two-year legal battle to break up Microsoft in 2000. They broke the company down into two operating units. one for producing the operating system and one for other software components. If you remember, before that you couldn’t buy a computer without using Microsoft Explorer as your browser. That’s because they were giving it away for free on their computers and therefore didn’t have any competition.

So why aren’t more monopolies broken up by the FTC? The answer: it is so expensive and time-consuming to both define the market a company participates in and prove that it owns more than 60% market share of it. Companies today are much more complicated and are engaged in multiple market segments. This makes it difficult for the FTC to successfully define the market Facebook (for example) serves. Are they a social media platform, an idea company or a messaging service, or “D” all of the above? Consequently, attempts to break it up by Congress have been unsuccessful.

While we remember the days when we could call the phone company or speak to our health insurance providers, we have to accept the fact that now we only get to communicate with chat BOTs or get lost in voicemail hell. As women of a certain age, it sucks to feel so powerless. So, for now, we remain consumers of monopolistic companies which drive prices up and provide us with poor customer service. That’s Why I Hate Verizon – among others.

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6 New Instagram Finds And One I Regret

Just to be extra clear, I am completely independent of the products and resources I recommend in my blog. I research and provide information to my audience of “women of a certain age” who share my values for supporting women-owned businesses, female entrepreneurs, sustainable businesses, and in most cases, the goods come directly from the manufacturer to your doorstep side-stepping the middle man. This makes prices much more favorable.

You know from my previous posts like this one, this one and this one I am a devout Instagram shopper for all of the above reasons and enjoy sharing my finds and breaking them down to make your own shopping experience more effective.

6 New Instagram Finds and One I Regret

I am mostly so pleased with the quality, service, and convenience of shopping online, but sometimes I get a clunker. And this one below was a real doozy.

Comparison of 2 v neck sweaters one from Everlane and the other from Gentle Herd

I purchased 2 classic cashmere V Neck sweaters recently. One was from Everlane @everlane (a dependable resource for quality basics) and the other from a brand I never purchased from before titled Gentle Herd @gentleherd.

Gentle Herd defines itself as “a team with a passion for sustainable fabric and high-quality garments rooted in urban style’s practicality.” They go on to say, “We source our cashmere and wool from the world’s largest pasture – Inner Mongolia.”

Maybe women in Inner Mongolia are very skinny and petite because I ordered a size large from both manufacturers and The Everlane sweater is 4″ wider and 3.5″ longer than the Gentle Herd sweater.

In fact, the Gentle Herd sweater looks like it might fit a child. And their return policy is completely archaic. Meaning – I’ll have to gift it to someone. Thumbs down on Gentle Herd.

I don’t keep my Instagram finds to myself. Besides sharing them with my audience, I also buy for other important people in my life — like my husband and sometimes my daughter. Recently, my husband was in the market for some winter sweaters and I came across a label titled Quince @quince. They define themselves as “quality shouldn’t be a luxury. Our mission is to bring the world’s highest quality goods to everyone for an affordable price.”

So, I took a risk I bought him 3 cashmere sweaters and they are of great quality and fit him perfectly. Way to go Quince. They also make home decor items as well.

3 men's cashmere swaeters from Quince

A recent discovery and new favorite is a site titled Tuckernuck. Apparently, Tuckernuck @tuckernut is an island off the coast of Nantucket Island in Massachusetts. The women who started the business used to vacation there in the summers growing up.

The back story is one we hear from a lot of female entrepreneurs. “We became fixated on creating a happy and authentic retail brand that embodied our classic style and spirit, rooted in sport, travel, family, friends, and celebration. So, we quit our day jobs in finance and retail and launched Tuckernuck together.”

I was in the market for a real shearling jacket and found it on Tuckernut. It was made of real suede and real shearling and priced extremely well for $395. So, I ordered an Extra Large because I wanted to be able to layer bulky sweaters under it, but it was way too big on me. The suede exterior was beautiful and shearling in the lining was great, but I returned it anyway because I found one on another site I liked even more.

Tuckernut Shearling Jacket
Tuckernut Shearling Jacket – $395

Instead, I decided to splurge and used another Instagram resource titled Overland @overland. It’s been a family-run business since 1973 and they offer “superbly crafted outerwear, clothing, and home accents inspired by the American West and made from the finest sheepskin, leather, wool, and other natural materials. make authentic western outerwear.

When I first discovered them, I bought this sherpa half-zip jacket at the beginning of the season and I love it.

So, I decided to splurge and go with an authentic western-style rancher shearling coat from Overland instead.

Marleigh Sheepskin Rancher Coat by Overland
Price $895

It checks all the boxes for the dream winter coat. It covers the bum, still short enough to get in and out of the car easily and it has a button closure – I hate zippers on winter coats. It’s called the Marleigh and I can’t wait until it arrives. I’ll keep you updated on the fit and overall look and feel.

Another tried and true brand I bought several pieces of athleisure wear from is Beyond Yoga @beyondyoga. I love the fact that they re-think yoga pants for women who don’t want to wear skin-tight leggings. This is especially true for those of us women of a certain age and if you need to run errands after class.

Recently, I bought 2 pairs of pants that are as good in the studio as they are on the outside. The first is a plain front pant, no drawstring, in a marbled fabric design. They can be worn to a class or with an oversized sweatshirt or a chunky sweater and boots. It’s called the Natural Marble Easy Weekend pant.

marled patterned sweatpants from Beyond Yoga
Price $99.00

The second is a silky texture pant that has a stomach flattening high waist, a jogger cinch around the ankle, and fits loosely through the thighs. I absolutely adore them – they make your legs look longer and thinner through the thighs. They are called the Speed it Up Jogger and you can find them here.

Silky yoga pants from Beyond Yoga
.

In my search for the perfect sweatshirt/sweatpant set, I found a new Instagram find Mate The Label. @matethelabel Their, clean, non-toxic philosophy is no joke. Their tagline is, “Organic essentials. Clean from seed to skin. Sustainably made in LA… MATE is a company founded by women, run by women, and focused on making products for all women — through every stage of life (that includes our sisterhood of “women of a Certain Age).”

Cotton and Fleece Sweatpants and sweatshirt by Mate the Label
Perfect sweatshirt – not too bulky
sweatsuit by Mate the Label
Leaner sweatpants than most shops offer

I hope you found my Instagram finds of assistance in navigating the immense amount of available Instagram resources appropriate for “women of a certain age.” I take time to look for apparel, home decor, and accessories that are age-appropriate, sustainable and support female entrepreneurship. If you buy any of these (I do not get paid from these brands), I’d love to hear your thoughts. You can email me at amyharrisonline.com or @amysandelmanharris

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3 Short Jaunts Worth A Visit

I am a “woman of a certain age” with more time and means to travel than ever before. You may be in this category as well, but my husband is not only still working full time, but owns his own business. For this reason, getting him to leave town for more than 48 hours is a huge challenge. But I persist and we recently took 3 short jaunts that are not far from my home in New Jersey and are definitely worth a visit.

The Berkshires

Lennox, Mass

The Berkshires is in the western mountains of Massachusetts and is made up of small charming towns like Stockbridge, Great Barrington, Pittsfield, and my personal favorite Lennox. It is best known for outdoor activities and the arts.

The summer is prime time if you are going to enjoy artistic pleasures like The Shakespeare theater, Tanglewood – where the Bost Symphony is in residence, and Jacob’s Pillow – a dance program by big-name choreographers.

Off-season there is still plenty to do visiting museums like the Norman Rockwell Museum and the Mount – once Edith Wharton’s home, art galleries, shop for all types of clothing, shoes, and boots, etc and have a meal at any one of the great farm-to-table restaurants.

Staying in the Berkshires

The Berkshires is full of grand mansions built at the turn of the century for the uber-rich. Most of these have been sold off to become spas, hotels, golf clubs, etc. The prices to stay at these resorts are very high (The Whealeigh, Canyon Ranch, Blantyre and the brand new Miraval) Basically, you are not going to spend less than $1,00 per night at these choice spots.

Thank God there are plenty of Inns, B&B’s, and motels as well, enabling the more frugal traveler a wide selection of places to stay. On my last two trips, I stayed at The Seven Hills Inn conveniently located just outside the downtown of Lennox. It was a manor home built in 1851 and it was thoughtfully restored using a combination of old and modern furniture and accessories. It is very reasonably priced. You can also view their Instagram feed @sevenhillsinn.

We were there for New Year’s Eve and had dinner at Frankie’s – an old-world Italian restaurant frequented by locals.

After dinner, we made a fire in the fireplace in the parlor, drank wine, and curled up with a good book. A perfect way for me to spend New Year’s Eve.

Our New Year’s Fire

On New Year’s day, we enjoyed some retail therapy in Lennox which has great boutiques with high-quality, unique merchandise. It was so refreshing to find unique things to wear, accessorize my home etc. The Stores we enjoyed the most are:

Naples, Florida

The second short jaunt worth a visit is Naples, Florida. I know what you are thinking – “I’ve been to Florida a million times.” I have been to Florida more times than I can count, so why would I want to go again when my options are so wide? Two reasons: I am looking for a spot to spend part of the winter in the coming years and second because I heard from so many people it was worth a trip.

While I have enjoyed many east coast spots like Miami, Coconut Grove, Boca Raton and Del Ray Beach, I had never been to the west coast.

So I booked a great house through VRBO and took the family for the Thanksgiving holiday. And I must agree the west coast of Florida has a completely different vibe than the east coast.

Overall it is a slower pace, less frenetic, and more open. The beaches are far more spectacular with the finest sand I have ever felt. There are a wide variety of beaches to choose from, depending on how far you want to drive and what best suits your needs. You can read a review of the Top 10 Beaches in Naples here.

The most popular beach is Vanderbilt Beach and it gets crowded, but offers watersports and restaurants on the beach. Do not miss lunch or a cocktail at the famed Ritz Carlton Hotel overlooking the Gulf.

Another beach worth your time is The Beach at Naples Pier. The pier is historic and used to be where ships would unload their goods. One of the best things about the Pier is that you can walk right into Old Town Naples.

Old Town is a fun, vibrant, place composed of historic buildings in bright colors that house restaurants, bars, and shops. There is also another separate downtown location called Fifth Avenue. As its name personifies, this is where you will find super luxury stores, restaurants, hotels, and residences.

We are a beach-loving family so we loved exploring the diverse beaches in Naples. You could go to a different one every day and they each have their own personality. Not many places offer that. The fine white powdery sand (which doesn’t get hot in the sun), the magical blue crystal clear water, and the two downtown areas make Naples a great jaunt.


West Hampton, NY

Though we live in New Jersey we don’t really patronize New Jersey beaches for more than day trips. We find the majestic beauty of the Hamptons to be much more to our liking. Over the years we have stayed in Amagansett, Montauk, East Hampton, and South Hampton. And we love each and every one of them and their distinct personalities. However, the traffic has become so bad since there’s only one road into and out of these towns, it is no longer a great option for a summer beach vacation for us.

Downtown West Hampton, NY

So, two summers ago. we decided to investigate West Hampton Beach on our way back from South Hampton. It is an hour closer to our home and doesn’t require going on Route 27 (it’s the closest Hampton to NYC). It used to be THE spot in the late 1980’s, but everything pushed further East since then.

When we explored the town we were pleasantly surprised. It’s so unpopular, it’s kind of edgy in its own way. The walkable downtown is vibrant with stores, restaurants, bars, and even a Ben & Jerry’s. And the beaches are every bit as beautiful as the towns further out east.

Staying in West Hampton

As in all the Hamptons, there are few choice places to stay. Through a bit of research, I found a group of cozy cottages located right on Dune Road at the website Stay Marquis. The cottages are between a studio and a one-bedroom in size with all the amenities necessary to make for a fun stay. There’s a king-sized bed, little kitchenette, table with 2 chairs, a sitting room, deck with gas grill, picnic table and an outdoor shower.

It came with plenty of beach towels, chairs, bikes, and snacks. And the best part? All we had to do is cross the road and walk down a path to the beach. No car necessary. That alone makes it a worthy jaunt.

Overall, I hope you enjoyed my recommendations of 3 short jaunts worth a visit. If you have comments or would like to share, please feel free.

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Parenting An Adopted Infant Is Still A Challenge

I am extremely fortunate to have two beautiful adult children I adopted at birth. Infant adoption is rare since most adoptees come out of the Foster Care System and are therefore older. We pursued infant adoption because we thought it would head off some of the complications associated with adopting older children who may have suffered trauma during their time in Fost Care. But, new research shows that parenting an adopted infant is still a challenge.

According to the Adoption Network, “only 4% of women with unwanted pregnancies place their children through adoption. One out of every fifty children are adoptees and of those 15% were adopted as infants.” With over 135,000 adoptions per year in the US, the majority, or 59%, get adopted out of the foster care system.

The dominant emotions described by many adoptees about their own adoption are issues with separation, rejection, guilt, and shame. But since we adopted our infants right out of the hospital when they were 2 days old, we thought we had headed off these potential issues. But, we were partly wrong.

In our case, our children could not be more diametrically opposed when it comes to the issues surrounding their adoptions. My 32-year-old daughter is a well-adjusted, high achiever and has no curiosity about her birth parents. She feels that getting involved in tracking them down would just cause unnecessary complications in her life.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, my son has tracked down both of his birth parents. He is in contact separately with both of them (they broke up 8 months after his birth) and it has given him closure on some of his issues surrounding his adoption. There are groups to help adoptees find their biological parents like Birth Parents Search on Facebook.

As I have learned from doing much research, adopted kids can go either way – accepting they are adopted and happy with their family or they can feel like they don’t belong or that something is missing that they hope to find by learning more about their biological parents.

For one it is a simple fact of life and for the other, it is the source of much anguish. How can it possibly be so opposite when they come from the same adoptive family?

My daughter is a perfect blend of both my husband’s and my personality traits. She is extremely capable, loving, gets anxious about money (thanks to my husband), and coincidentally looks quite similar to me. On the other hand, my son looks nothing like anyone in the family, has many traits from his biological parents including ADHD, and an addictive personality.

Amy with her daughter when she was just 2 years old
Amy Sandelman Harris with her son
Amy with her son when he was just 3 years old

What You Need to Know About Parenting Adopted Infants – It’s Still a Challenge

What we didn’t know when we adopted our kids (32 and 26 years ago respectively) is what the newest research shows about infant adoptions. According to the “The Center for Youth and Family Solutions” research now identifies “that as early as the second trimester of pregnancy, the human fetus is capable of auditory processing. In fact, the fetus is capable of processing rejection in utero. In addition to the rejection and abandonment felt by the newborn adoptees, the far greater trauma often occurs in ways in which the mind and body of the newborn are incapable of processing. Childhood trauma impacts an infant’s physical and emotional growth. It colors how an infant views the world and others in it.

According to Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D., your baby learned to be comforted by the voice and heartbeat of his mother well before birth – a voice that was not yours. This connective disruption has an impact on the brain and body.

According to Paula Thompson – a writer for Birth Psychology, “these early experiences set our ongoing physiological and psychological regulatory baselines.”

It is not the adoption that causes the trauma, it is the relinquishment and the loss of the familiar that is traumatizing. Unfortunately, research has shown my son’s issues surrounding his adoption are more common than not.

According to The Center for the Treatment of Anxiety and Other Mood Disorders “When a child is not with their original mother, the newborn becomes frequently anxious and confused causing the baby to release stress hormones. Even newborns that are placed with their adoptive parents within days of their birth can often feel traumatized. Newborns know their mother is missing and they are being cared for by strangers.”

According to this source, further research shows, “that a child could inherit a predisposition for sadness or anxiety if their first mother was anxious or depressed while pregnant. And what mother who is about to give up their baby isn’t both anxious and depressed?

The Psychological Effects of Adoption on Adoptees

According to The Center for the Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders: the psychological effects of adoption on adoptees can include some or all of the following:

Loss – …”as the child matures and finds out they were adopted, that sense of loss becomes a theme running through their subconscious. As such, adopted children typically feel succeeding losses much more deeply than their non-adopted counterparts.”

Rejection – …”is part of the initial loss the adoptee experiences. In order to be adopted, they had to be rejected by their birth parents. “

Guilt/shame  – …”comes from the adoptee’s feelings of rejection. As we know, children tend to blame themselves when something bad happens, therefore an adopted child naturally questions what they must have done wrong (or what was wrong or “bad” about them) that made their birth parent give them away. Even if the adoptee knows the reason they were placed for adoption, they often still secretly harbor the idea that they were somehow “broken” or could have been a “better” baby, which is why their birth parents rejected them.”

Grief – …”is part of adoption because the child lost their birth parents. We see adoption as a joyous occasion for the parents who are adopting the child, therefore the thought is that adopted kids should feel thankful to have a new family. Grieving for what they lost doesn’t usually have a place in the child’s life – it is considered a rejection of the adoptive parents if the child grieves.

Additionally, children sometimes don’t feel the effects of their deep-seated loss until they reach adolescence or adulthood and have developed a high enough cognitive level to understand what the loss means to their life. In many cases, this leads to substance abuse, depression, or aggression ” See my post on addiction here.

Identity – “…is another loss the adopted adult must face. While they have been given a new name and identity by their adoptive parents, is it who they truly are? Or are they really the person they were before the adoption?

Intimacy “…is frequently difficult for the adopted adult because they have such deeply rooted feelings of rejection, guilt or shame, and don’t truly have an identity. Often people who have gone through these negative emotions subconsciously push others away to avoid experiencing another loss.

The Silverstein and Kaplan study notes that, “Many adoptees as teen[s] state that they truly have never felt close to anyone. Some youngsters declare a lifetime emptiness related to a longing for the birth mother they may have never seen.”

Mastery/Control -Lastly, adoptees often feel little control over their lives because they had no say in the matter of their adoption. Whether placed with their adoptive family at birth or as an older child, they were not given an option. As they mature, this can result in power struggles with authority figures and a reduced sense of responsibility.”

My son exhibits all of these issues. And now I feel like a bad parent for not knowing infants absorb the rejection, loss, and abandonment before they are even born. I thought we had circumvented all of these issues by adopting him when he was only 2 days old.

There are many resources to help adoptees overcome the issues surrounding their adoptions (see below). My hope is that providing this information will help other adoptive parents to look for behaviors associated with trauma and provide the right resources to avert the possible devastating effects of their infant’s adoption.

Resources:

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My Great Finds on Etsy

If you haven’t shopped on Etsy.com, you are truly missing out. They define themselves as “the global marketplace for unique and creative goods. It’s home to a universe of special, extraordinary items, from unique handcrafted pieces to vintage treasures.” They have over 45 million items to choose from and they run the gamut from new to vintage in almost every category you can imagine. And that’s why I end up with great finds on Etsy.

It’s like hunting for treasures in a market in any country in the world where every vendor makes their own merchandise. They feature makers, independent designers, and creative entrepreneurs from around the world. In addition to the wide array of products, I like supporting the site because it is made up of individuals who are creating the products, and each has its own storefront. There are also editor’s picks that highlight new trends curated by folks at Etsy.

Alternatively, you can shop by category from pillows to jewelry (2 of my personal favorites). Just enter what you are hunting for in the search bar and you will get the results. Each vendor has its own inventory and the products are typically made by hand. I love knowing my purchases support artisans from all over the world. You can find the site here. You can also follow them on Instagram at #etsy or shop their Instagram store here.

Here Are Some of My Great Finds on Etsy:

Etsy Find #1

Kilim Pillows – Last year I was re-designing our family room and wanted to add some tribal accents to give it a more global feel. After much research, I settled on kilim pillows to put on my sectional couch which is a beige neutral palette.

Wikipedia defines kilim as “… a flat tapestry-woven carpet or rug traditionally produced in countries of the former Persian Empire, including Iran, the Balkans, and the Turkic countries.” They are typically vintage carpets re-worked to be pillow covers. Each one is unique since they are vintage and they have thick, nubby fabric.

Covers are sold separately from inserts. But they have every size and fabrication of inserts to choose from. These pillows range from $15 – $20 per pillow cover and the inserts cost about the same. You can find them here.

Esty Find # 2

For my living room which is more formal, I have a charcoal gray velvet couch that required a pillow scape. So I searched for velvet pillow covers and came across this vendor that has every color velvet imaginable in every size and she handmakes each one. You can find them here.

Etsy Find # 3

Sometimes I like to mix in vintage accessories with my modern furnishings for a more eclectic look. I decided I wanted an old French match sticker. Match strikers are match holders made of hard surfaces that you can light strike-anywhere matches on. They come in various sizes and styles and double as beautiful pieces of home decor. My mother collected them and I was lucky enough to find one I loved because they don’t have too many to choose from. I bought it from a vendor named Me1851, but they don’t have any in stock right now. Instead, you can go to this page which has a big inventory of match strikers from various vendors.

Etsy Find # 4

One of my passions is hunting for vintage-style jewelry. I comb antique stores, markets, and even garage sales. I love Victorian-style pieces the most. Right now I am totally obsessed with the look of layering vintage style chains with unique charms. I have found no better place to scratch this itch than on Etsy. For years I’ve wanted a vintage watch fob to wear around my neck. I have been to many antique stores, but the ones I find are either too short to fit around my neck or way too expensive. So, I searched Etsy and found a reproduction I love by a designer Linda Mikk and her store is here.

I also found quite a few other vintage charms, connectors, and chains:

This is a reproduction of a vintage pocket magnifying glass pendant chatelaine. Before we had reading glasses, people used them to read small print. The vendor is madcrafter and you can find them here.

Madcrafter also has antique-looking chains at various lengths for layering my charms. I hope you get inspired by They have lanyard curb chains that look extremely authentic.

Etsy Find #5

To complete the look I needed connectors so I could attach my pendants. For just a few dollars I found multiple options. This one vendor has a big selection and the connectors come in different shapes and sizes. You can find them here.

Etsy Find # 6

One of the charms I had been searching for, for quite some time was available and the price was amazing. I wanted a blue enameled star charm (like a compass) and I grabbed it for $4.60. You can find it here.

All in all, Etsy is a unique resource since it features hundreds of designers’ and artisans’ products from around the world. I hope you find it as great a resource as I do and that you will be inspired by great finds on Etsy.

Any questions or comments let me know.

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Eating Disorders Kill More People Than Any Other Mental Health Disorder Besides Opiods

For women, being thin is still society’s archetype for defining beauty. And well if you can be skinny it’s even better than being just thin. Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines skinny “as lacking sufficient fleshvery thinEMACIATED.” Why should being emaciated be something women need to strive for? No wonder eating disorders kill more people than you realize.

Yes, we are beginning to see some advertised brands include models with more diverse body types, (like Dove) but it doesn’t compare to the constant barrage of the hyper skinny models and influencers young women see all around them while their bodies are still forming. The worst contributor to this growing problem is social media which is devoured by young women across all cultures.

In my opinion, Instagram is the most egregious platform of all. For instance, there is a widely distributed food brand constantly promoted on Instagram by the owner herself; Bethenny Frankel (@bethennyfrankel). She was once a reality star and leveraged her fame to start the Skinny Girl line of products. She has become a leading Instagram influencer with 2.3 Million followers and her brand page titled Skinny Girl (@skinnygirlbrand) has another 190,000 followers. She does all the promotion for her products herself and is so thin – it looks to me like she might have an eating disorder. She is 50 years old with bones jutting out from her neck and malnourished-looking arms. Is this what we want our daughters to strive for? To be so thin they are near death?

These media messages affect adolescent girls in profound and dangerous ways. Here are some sobering facts from Anad.org – a leading non-profit offering free peer-to-peer support services to people with eating disorders:

  • 9% of the US population will have an eating disorder in their lifetime
  • That translates to 28.8 million people
  • Eating disorders are among the deadliest mental illnesses, second only to opioid overdose
  • 10,200 deaths each year are the direct result of an eating disorder—that’s one death every 52 minutes.2
  • The economic cost of eating disorders is $64.7 billion every year.
  • Black teenagers are 50% more likely than white teenagers to exhibit bulimic behavior, such as binge-eating and purging.3
  • Hispanic people are significantly more likely to suffer from bulimia nervosa than their non-Hispanic peers.3

As women with a great deal at stake, we need to more aggressively advocate for overcoming the media’s relentless “skinny” messaging.

An Eating Disorder Killed My Cousin

Recently, our family lost a female cousin at the tender age of 34 years young who had been struggling with an eating disorder since her early teens. In and out of hospitals from New Jersey to Pennsylvania to Florida and Minneapolis, she never found a reprieve from her illness. She is just one of the many statistics who was killed by her eating disorder. end up dying

And the disease starts much younger than you think:

  • 2% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner.
  • 81% of 10 year old children are afraid of being fat.
  • 46% of 9-11 year-olds are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets.
  • 35-57% of adolescent girls engage in crash dieting, fasting, self-induced vomiting, diet pills, or laxatives.19
  • In a college campus survey, 91% of the women admitted to controlling their weight through dieting.20

In our cousin’s case, we think the disorder was caused by Post Traumatic Stree Disorder. When she was just 8 years old (1995), her mother enrolled her in one of New Jersey’s top private schools. She flourished and her parents couldn’t be happier.

But soon her disposition changed and she became combative, anxious and depressed. It was not until years later she disclosed to her parents that a teacher in the elite private school had sexually assaulted her.

This traumatic event is what precipitated a life of emotional pain, anorexia, bulimia, cutting, and self-loathing. Of course, her parents were horrified that their daughter kept this a secret for so many years. But predators often swear their victims to secrecy threatening them if they tell.

Because our cousin got so sick from anorexia (sometimes weighing as little as 80 pounds) many times she was hospitalized with a feeding tube to ensure she get proper nutrients and supplements. But unfortunately, the treatments didn’t seem to help.

Her parents decided to file a civil lawsuit against the teacher and the private school to ensure this predator be stopped before harming other young girls. They found out during the course of the trial that the teacher had been fired from other private schools before coming to this one for similar reasons, but it was never put on his record. This was before the term predator was used and awareness of predatory behavior remained silent.

They won the case and were awarded a large sum of money which they used to provide additional treatments in the hopes of saving their daughter. With a plethora of residential treatment programs, outpatient treatment programs, psychiatrists, multiple medications, therapy, and the like she could never overcome the trauma of the sexual abuse. Consequently, on Thursday, November 11th, 2021 she was found unconscious in her apartment. She never regained consciousness having suffered both liver and kidney failure.

Eating Disorders Kill More People Than You Realize

This is my effort to increase awareness of how deadly eating disorders are and the media’s role in perpetuating the problem. It is also an effort to get the word out that eating disorders kill many people – mostly women. Parents please talk to your kids about body image and make sure to listen to signs from your child who may be suffering in silence. Some things to listen for from your sons’ (yes boys get it too) and daughters’ conversations are, “I’m too fat,” “I need to eat less,” “I’m going on a diet, “I don’t like my thighs.” These can all be tell-tale signs.

For more information on the disease, treatments, and support go to: