They’re hard for a reason…until they’re easy?

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Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

Today I want to talk about what I’ve learned from paying off my credit card debt. I wrote about how I got into debt and how I tackled it, here. This was written when I was still in the middle of that process, and as of Friday (pay day!) I will have completely paid off my credit cards.

I learned a lot about myself and money and all the things I talk about in that article. …


This Is Us

I’ve been fat and I’ve been thin, but I think I like myself best when I stop caring so much

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Illustration: Alex Eben Meyer

As I write this, my city is on lockdown in response to the spread of Covid-19 — which means it’s just me and my body, alone together, in my little row house in Pittsburgh. I can’t go to the gym, obviously. I’m cooking for myself, and eating alone. I’m not dressing for anyone or anything. The only person I need to please is me.

Our current situation is with what diet culture tells me should be my ultimate Fat Girl Fear. In a world without shame, without the rails of other people’s judgment to keep me in check, I’ve been…


This is why everyone’s baking, if you’re confused. Also, some recipes if you’re a baker!

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Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

Even though I love to, I normally only bake on special occasions. After all, it’s time consuming, and I don’t need three dozen cookies or an entire cake to eat by myself.

That’s all changed, with this pandemic. Now I’m baking up a storm and super grateful my neighbors aren’t so germ-phobic they won’t take some so I can’t eat it all by myself.

Everything that usually keeps me from baking is why baking is saving my sanity right now. Baking can be fairly straightforward, but the yummiest things are often labor and time-intensive. You use a ton of bowls…


You can’t change the situation, but these techniques allow you to weather the storm

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Photo: Willie B. Thomas/Getty Images

I’m a bonafide optimist. In fact, I’ll admit my sunny disposition can be a little much even in the best of times. But throughout this pandemic, I’ve been struggling to find the bright side of anything, and it’s disorienting. All my previous tactics for feeling better don’t seem to be working.

What I’m learning is that the best way to deal with hard emotions isn’t to arm myself with more optimism. It doesn’t work to simply put on a smile and chirp, “We’ll get through this!” Instead, I need to see this challenge in a different way.

A recent episode…


I’m learning the hard way what I need to see me through social distancing

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Photo by Maria Teneva on Unsplash

I had a rough couple of days last week and I’m sure I’m not the only one. These are crazy times, and while I’ve got decent coping mechanisms, there’s a LOT to cope with. So after a few days of kinda spiraling, I had to give myself a bit of a talking to. What was I doing that wasn’t helping, as I confronted all this craziness we’re living in? The answers, it turns out, were pretty obvious. Here are some of the things I was NOT doing, which were exacerbating — rather than alleviating — my anxieties.

Letting my evening routine slip

It seemed silly…


You might feel like life is mundane and you have nothing significant to say right now. Keep a journal anyway.

A photo of a woman writing in her journal while her laptop is on her lap.
A photo of a woman writing in her journal while her laptop is on her lap.
Photo: Cavan Images/Getty Images

These are scary times, but they’re not exactly exciting ones. Unless counting toilet paper rolls is your idea of a raging Friday night, you’re probably not living your most thrilling life right now. So why in the world would you want to record it?

It’s a fair question. But weirdly, I can’t think of a better — or more necessary — time to start journaling.

First, there’s the big-picture rationale: We’re in an unprecedented time in American history. If, like me, you’re fascinated by stories of how people lived during World War II or after earthquakes or through the Depression…


During self-isolation, I’m more grateful than ever for learning how to rest

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Photo by Iván C. Fajardo on Unsplash

I’ve always had a weird relationship to resting. Growing up, my mother got up in the morning and, like a worker bee, she was never still again until it’s time for bed. My father, however, can almost always be found in one place: sitting at their counter, reading a paper or listening to NPR, drinking coffee or sherry, and smoking his pipe.

In other word, he rests a lot while my she rests…never. Meanwhile, my mother is quite vocal about what she thinks about my dad’s habits, to which my father merely shrugs and puffs smoke, like a professorial dragon…


Before you start writing, you gotta know your reader’s expectations

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Photo by Lucas Faragoza on Unsplash

When we go into a bookstore for a pop fiction novel, we often know which section we’re going to head to first. We might head to Sci Fi/Fantasy, or Mystery, or the Romance section. Sometimes we’re confounded when a popular fiction writer like Stephen King or Dean Koontz are allowed on the (often centralized) shelves labeled simply FICTION. But for the most part, because people know what they want to read, bookstores are laid out to help us find it.

This is why, if you want to publish a popular fiction novel, you have to know where your book would…


These won’t strain your brain.

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Photo by Krists Luhaers on Unsplash

If you’re like me, you’re finding it hard to concentrate at the moment. I pick up my phone to check a date to answer an email, and I find myself scrolling through Instagram five minutes later, having forgotten what I was meant to be doing in the first place.

I’m even finding it hard to concentrate on my entertainments! I can’t always focus to read, and if I try to watch anything that requires thinking, I end up drifting over to my computer to check the New York Times.

The only thing I can really get into seems to be…


Acknowledge that this is supposed to suck

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Photo: Cavan Images/Getty Images

I have no idea what the fuck I’m doing right now. I mean, I do in the sense that I know how to wake up, make my bed, brush my teeth, and pour my coffee. But then I look at my planner and see a sea of unfamiliarity: Zoom meetings in lieu of sitting around a table. Online courses rather than classrooms. FaceTime dinner dates instead of shared appetizers at my favorite local restaurants. I’m trying to get used to this new way of existing, but I’ve been struggling to settle in.

The other day, I listened to the first…

Nicole Peeler

Novelist and essayist. Director of the MFA in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University. Find out more at http://nicolepeeler.com.

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