8 Things I Love About Poshmark

Monday, September 9, 2019

When I got the email that Poshmark had launched in Canada I was thrilled. I had seen bloggers and folks on Instagram mention Poshmark for years, and it had popped up in the occasional search, but up until earlier this year it hadn't been available in Canada. Poshmark is an online marketplace where you can buy and sell clothing, shoes, accessories, home goods and more. The app is super easy to use and the community is a lot of fun. After using Poshmark over the last couple of months, here's what I've been loving.

My love of dresses runs deep

Great way to clear out closet

I've always enjoyed fashion, and over the years have acquired lots of great pieces in a variety of sizes. Normally when I overhaul my closet (or feel inspired by Marie Kondo) I donate a ton of items to a local thrift store, share some with friends and maybe save a few for an upcoming clothing swap. I've found that using Poshmark has inspired me to assess my closet on a more regular basis and help some of my items find new homes. Once you sell an item, Poshmark sends you an email with a shipping label, and all you need to do is print it, package up your item and drop it off at the post office or nearest mailbox - so easy! I've taken to listing a few items each week, and have started a drawer of pieces to go onto Poshmark that no longer fit or spark joy.

Thrifting without thrifting

I love the idea of thrifting and I've definitely found some great pieces over the years, but I don't always have the patience to head to a thrift shop and scour for awesome items. I've shared before that I love a good clothing swap, and that is often the way that I like to add some new thrifted pieces to my closet because it's more of a curated experience. Poshmark takes that curated experience to the next level because as a buyer it's easy to browse or search by brand, size, category or specific style. I love that I can follow some of my very favourite brands to see new listings pop up or search for whatever it is that I'm looking for. Last week I was able to find a great denim jacket in awesome condition to use for layering this fall. 

Environmental impact

The world currently consumes 80 billion pieces of clothing each year - that's up 400% from 20 years ago (source). With much of that clothing being produced in the fast fashion realm, unethically produced and created without an effort to be environmentally friendly, the fashion industry is really taking a toll on the environment. Much of this clothing is made overseas, and many workers create these clothes under poor working conditions and for very little pay. Choosing to purchase clothes second hand saves them from going to a landfill, gives the pieces a new life, and replaces your need to purchase something brand new. Poshmark has so many great pieces, many that are brand new or hardly worn - it has the potential to have a positive impact on this industry.

New markets being added

Have you ever tried to sell anything on Facebook marketplace or Kijiji? When I moved last year, I sold a few items on Facebook and it was an excellent test for my patience. While I was able to get rid of a couple things, there was definitely a lot of haggling, excuses, and flakiness - more than I care to partake in! When I was trying to sell my exercise bench, someone tried to offer a lower price because it was going to cost him $20 in gas to drive to my place. Um, what?! Poshmark has recently added some new markets, including home and back to school, making the marketplace a great place to list those items you'd like to get rid of, without that kind of hassle. Potential buyers can make offers on your items, but since you pop things in the mail, you don't have to deal with setting up a time for someone to pick up the item or worrying that they'll be a no show. Folks can make offers on the things in your closet, but there's a lot less back and forth conversation, and accepting/declining an offer is as easy as pressing a button.

Sharing is caring

When you list an item on one of these other marketplaces (like Kijiji or Facebook), nothing really happens after you've put the item up for sale. On Poshmark, there is a community of people there to help you share your items and assist in gaining visibility. These shared items show up in your feed alongside any new items being posted. There's also Posh Parties which follow a specific theme and they're another fun way to connect with the community and help your items to be seen by more people. This week one of the items from my closet got named a "host pick" which meant that it was put in a special virtual showroom for the party - it was pretty cool!

My first Poshmark Host Pick

Excellent deals

The deals on Poshmark are awesome!! I have found some awesome quality items and paid a fraction of what the items would have cost in retail. While I'm cleaning out my closet I'm trying not to add too many additional things, but I've found some super cute pieces of workout gear and an awesome denim jacket. In the app you can "like" items that really catch your eye to go back to later, and in some cases the seller may offer you a special deal including discounted shipping. Like a couple of items from one seller? You can create a bundle to potentially save even more on those items and only pay shipping once.

New to me workout pants from Poshmark

Perfect for specific pieces or special occasions

Because of the search functionality, shopping on Poshmark can be especially good if you're trying to find a specific piece for yourself or have a special occasion coming up. Know that you want a new coat for the fall? You can do a search or follow a brand you know you'd love to own. Same goes for any special occasions you have coming up where you may need something special that you'll only wear once or twice. I've seen a lot of beautiful dresses and gowns that would be perfect for a wedding or party at a much lower cost than you would spend in retail. 

Additional income

You may only want to be a shopper/buyer on Poshmark and that's totally cool, but joining as a seller means that there's potential for you to earn some additional money for clearing out your closet. Listing an item takes a few minutes (from taking some lovely photos, gathering details about the item, and then listing it in the app) So far I've made just a couple of sales on Poshmark, but it's nice to see that balance starting to add up in the app. Poshmark takes a percentage of the selling price, but the shipping is all taken care of and everything else goes back to you.

Want to check out Poshmark Canada? You can use my code ASHLEYDTL to sign up, and get $15 in Posh credit to use for your first purchase! 

This post isn't sponsored in any way, but if you use my code to sign up I'll also get $15 so it's win-win for both of us. (US friends, you'll receive $5 if you sign up using my code)

I'm so excited to keep selling and buying on Poshmark. It's really cool when you get the sale notification, and also amazing when you find the perfect piece that you've been looking for!

Have you tried Poshmark? What's been your favourite find so far?

Treating my Crohn's Disease

Friday, August 9, 2019

After having a flare-up of my Crohn's Disease this spring, I waited nearly 3 months to see a new gastroenterologist. Most of the Crohn's symptoms I had been experiencing had diminished. When I finally met with her in June, we talked through my experience, initial diagnosis and symptoms and she recommended a colonoscopy to understand/see everything that was going on - which was what I expected would happen. I was thankfully able to get an appointment for a colonoscopy 2 weeks later, and I hoped that answers would be around the corner.

It had been over 10 years since my first colonoscopy, and it was the prep that I was dreading most. Peglyte had been horrific, and I wasn't looking forward to drinking 4 more litres of that awful liquid. To my surprise, my doctor prescribed something a bit different for prep and there was no jug in sight! My preparation included taking a laxative pill, followed by something called PICO-SALAX (I got the generic version called PURG-ODAN). It was to be mixed with 150 mL of cold water and then followed by clear fluids of your choice. In the morning, you were to drink another 150mL of cold water mixed with the sachet and that was it!

While the prep was still tough (a clear fluid day mixed with a night of clearing out your colon is never going to be delightful) it was so much more manageable than Peglyte. I opted for coconut water, organic broth, and juices for my clear fluids - even having those choices made the experience more pleasant.

Heading into the colonoscopy I told people about the upside. When I had my first colonoscopy, I woke up from the sedation, the nurse asked me if I wanted a glass of juice and then the doctor came in and told me I had Crohn's Disease.

I didn't expect how hard the results would hit me this time around.

strength morgan harper nichols
via Morgan Harper Nichols

If I'm honest, I don't know what I was expecting as I headed into the colonoscopy. I recognized that I had had a flare in the spring, but didn't give too much thought to the notion that things may have gotten worse; When I woke up from the sedation after my colonoscopy, my doctor came in and told me just that.

She described my colon as angry. She had found a section that had been difficult to maneuver around, filled with ulcers, inflammation and scar tissue. (When I visited her office a couple weeks later she showed me photos, alongside photos of a healthy colon - one of these things is not like the other). She told me that she was recommending biologics as a course of treatment, and made me a list of options that she wanted me to research. After hearing this news, I burst into tears. It was all so much to take in, and this definitely wasn't the result that I was anticipating.

I did a lot of wallowing and crying in the days that followed. It was hard to hear that my body was in such a bad place. It was hard to hear that the things I had been doing to help my Crohn's weren't helping enough. It was hard to hear that biologics were the recommended course of treatment. I was angry, sad, and afraid.

Biologics may not be a term that you're familiar with. They're a family of medications that are named so because they are created from biological materials, aka living cells. Some other things in this family include insulin and vaccines. Some of these biologics are specifically created to treat inflammation in patients with IBD. Because of the nature of these drugs, they're administered by injection or infusion, and many doctors anticipate that a person who starts biologics and has success achieving remission, will likely continue to be on them for the rest of their life. My doctor had given me a list of 4 different biologic options, listed some of the pros and cons of each, and asked me to do my own research before coming back to her with a decision in a couple of weeks.

When I was diagnosed with Crohn's in 2008, there were a few biologics being used to treat Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) but usually after trying a few other treatments that were deemed less invasive/extreme. In the research that Paul and I did, I've learned that the approach to using biologics has changed over time. Rather than using biologics as a second or third line of defence after trying other medications and steroids, doctors are now using a "top down" approach, and starting with biologics in moderate to severe cases of Crohn's or Colitis. They do this because of the efficacy of the treatment for those with IBD, and it also means that more patients will have fewer flares in the midst of trying other medications first. Fewer flares = less inflammation in the body, and fewer instances of using steroids to treat.

As someone who has always leaned more to the holistic side, it was tough to accept that a medication that I could potentially be on for the rest of my life was the right decision. Initially I was reluctant to accept this course of treatment as the right thing for me, but after learning and reading more and some big conversations with Paul, I decided that biologics were the best option. It also meant that I was in control of making the right choice for me right now - if left untreated this disease could continue to get worse, and if I had an even more extreme flare, I would have fewer options to treat it and be unable to advocate for anything I wanted to do. Starting this treatment now would mean that we could work towards getting into endoscopic remission (no / little signs of disease in my colon) vs. waiting to see what would happen next.

Of the 4 biologics my doctor recommended, all had been approved for use in Canada since 2013 - which means that they weren't even an option when I was diagnosed in 2008 - so crazy! Two of them were administered through an injection and two were administered through an IV infusion. I did some thinking and soul searching, and realized that I didn't feel comfortable, confident or good about giving myself injections on the regular. So that ruled out two options immediately. I learned more about the other two that were administered through an IV, and in the end I chose a biologic called Entyvio.

Entyvio was approved for use in Canada in 2015. It works by preventing an excess of white blood cells from entering the gut, which helps to decrease inflammation. Of the biologics I was learning about, it was the only one that was specifically targeted to the gut. There's been some studies that have shown its efficacy for people with IBD, and because of its gut-targeted approach, it sounds like fewer people have a negative reaction to it. Entyvio is also the biologic that some people end up on when others don't work. When I went back to my doctor and told her my decision, she reassured me that Entyvio was a safe option to try and reaffirmed my choice.

It's been an intense couple of months - from having a flare, waiting to see a specialist, having a colonoscopy and now starting a new treatment. I feel thankful to have a solid team in place, from a good support network to a gastroenterologist who I trust; She's really taken the time to get to know me as an individual, and offered a lot of reassurance about this course of treatment. I feel much more solid and grounded in my choice to start biologics, and recognize that it's the right approach for me at this time in my journey. It's still all a bit scary - biologics are new and there are a lot of unknowns, but I'm taking it all day by day. I'm hopeful and optimistic that it will help to get me into endoscopic remission, and enable my insides to feel as good as I do on the outside.

Please note that this is only based on my experience and opinions. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition

Crohn's Disease: 10 Years Later

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

It was sometime last year that I thought I would be great to write a post on my journey with Crohn’s Disease, and how different things were 10 years later. After my colonoscopy, diagnosis, and a brief experience with medication, I turned to more holistic methods to manage my Crohn’s in 2008-2009. I changed my diet. I studied nutrition. I worked on my stress. After 2 weeks of cutting out gluten and dairy I wasn’t in pain anymore, and for a really long time, my symptoms were kept at bay and I thrived. When I thought about writing an update post about my journey with IBD and what things were like 10 years later, I didn't imagine that I would be sharing details of new symptoms and stories of seeing a specialist.

The last time I experienced any major Crohn’s symptoms was four years ago. I noticed a reduction in appetite that persisted for a few weeks, so I tried to get an appointment with my gastroenterologist. I wasn’t going to be able to see him for about 6 weeks, and I figured it would sort itself out before that time. Then I got the flu and it was awful. Then my Crohn’s symptoms came out full force while I was dealing with the flu. And to top things off, I got my period. There was basically a flaring rager of a party happening in my body, and I was an unwelcome guest.

The flu passed. My symptoms started to diminish. I made some tweaks in my diet, and started to feel like myself again.

Fast forward to February of this year when I was on a trip to San Francisco. I was there mostly for work, but I also got to spend a few days exploring the city and soaking up the sunshine. I noticed that my appetite wasn’t showing up in its normal ways, which was especially strange since I had access to so many tasty restaurants and treats in a new city. I also had a bit of a sore throat, which I thought may be contributing to my lack of appetite and I had a canker sore or two appear in my mouth. It was all a bit strange, but I didn’t think too much of it since it was the midst of cold and flu season, and maybe my body was just fighting something off. 

When I got back to Toronto, my appetite didn’t return. I had a dentist appointment, and the hygienist mentioned quite a bit of inflammation in my gums.

Lack of appetite.
Canker sores.

It didn’t hit me quickly, but eventually I started to link these things together and came to the realization that my Crohn’s Disease was rearing its ugly head again. I think it took me some time because it wasn’t presenting as more extreme, obvious symptoms (like diarrhea, blood in the stool, urgency before a bowel movement) and I was in a bit of denial that my disease could re-emerge. “I take good care of myself! I eat well! I am resilient!”

I had a big cry and a heart to heart with my partner. Once I realized what I was dealing with, I identified a few more symptoms: unintentional weight loss over the last couple months, lack of energy, and abdominal pain after eating. I vowed to get some blood work done and make an appointment with my GP and specialist so that I could work on getting better. I talked to those close to me about what I was experiencing, and gave myself permission to slow down. I talked to my lead who was super supportive, and encouraged me to take the time I needed to figure things out and put work second. Workouts stopped. Sleep was a priority. I was going to get to the bottom of this.

And then I fainted on the streetcar during my Monday morning commute.

It started off as a normal Monday. I got dressed and made a smoothie, which I packed in my bag. I normally drink my smoothies at my desk, along with some tea or fruit, or anything else that catches my eye from my work’s breakfast catering. I walked 5 minutes to catch the TTC and got on to a pretty packed streetcar. A couple minutes into the ride, I realized I wasn’t feeling great. I was standing by the stairs and knew we were a couple stops away from a lot of people getting off, so I could get myself a seat when they exited. I started to feel hot, so I unzipped my winter jacket and had the instinct to ask someone for help as my vision started to get a bit weird.

Then I woke up on the ground with some strangers trying to help me up. I had fainted.

A couple of very lovely humans helped me off the streetcar, and one woman walked me to safety and sat me down at a bus shelter on Queen St. She went and got me juice, and helped me figure out a plan and some next steps. We were a couple of blocks away from a hospital so I thought it made the most sense to check myself into the ER and see if they could find anything wrong. She walked me there, and I was so thankful for her kindness.

I spent the morning in the ER where they did an ECG to check my heart and did some basic blood work to see how I was doing. They didn’t find anything glaring and encouraged me to connect with my doctors.

I had a neglected requisition for blood work that I filled the next day and made an appointment with my GP. I tried to get an appointment with the gastroenterologist who diagnosed me with Crohn’s Disease and I saw a few times after, but found out that if you haven’t seen a specialist in over a year, you require a new requisition.

My GP and I chatted about my symptoms, the fainting, and my blood work that had come back. It showed that I was pretty anemic again and she wanted to dig a bit more into my iron levels with some more blood work. She also put in a new request for a gastroenterologist referral, and said that any other tests would go through that new doctor. I was pretty excited when I got an email later that day letting me know I had an appointment with a new gastroenterologist, but that feeling faded pretty quickly once I realized the appointment isn’t until June.

It’s been a couple of weeks since all of this happened, and I’ve been doing my best to process it all.

To be honest, at first I was filled with a whole bunch of feelings of guilt and shame that my symptoms had returned; I really thought this was a thing of the past and had put in so much work to feel good. I’ve talked through those feelings, and have reminded myself that this is an autoimmune disease. You can do everything “right” in the world, and your body can still start attacking itself. I’m thankful for Canadian health care, but it was definitely disheartening to realize I’d need to wait nearly 3 months to see a specialist. I also figure they’ll likely book me in for a colonoscopy, and waiting for that could also take some time, which means it could be late summer or even fall before I have a full understanding of what’s going on. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared about what they’ll find - I feel like I’m back at the beginning again, ten years ago before I was diagnosed. Writing all of this down makes me feel very vulnerable, because it's all the scary stuff in my innermost thoughts, and my instinct is to spare you all of that! But it's real and I think it's important to share.

I’ve managed to work on feeling positive amid all of this uncertainty. I started seeing a naturopath to help me in the interim while I’m waiting to see the gastroenterologist. I’ve started an iron supplement that is already helping with my energy levels. While it’s not fully normal yet, my appetite has returned and I’ve been navigating what types of foods make me feel best, and which ones exacerbate my symptoms. I've been eating smaller meals more frequently, and that seems to be helping. I did a new food sensitivity test, and I’m looking forward to getting the results this week. I haven’t started working out regularly again, but I’ve been doing some gentle yoga and meditating which has been a great brain break. I can feel my Type-A tendencies seeping through all of this, along with my desire to control as much as humanly possible with a really, really great plan. I'm working through that too, and trying to be gentle with myself.

While this isn't the Crohn's Disease update I expected to be sharing, I'm ready to navigate whatever comes next, armed with all of the knowledge and experience I've gained over the last ten years. 
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