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Q&A | positivity, buy nothing vs. eBay, and piano teaching for newbies

Quick question: How do you manage to keep such a positive outlook during challenging times?


Hmmm. I’ve probably answered something similar to this before, but three things briefly:

1. I roll with the sadness/grief/anger when I feel it

rainy windshield.

I do better if I don’t fight the feelings that we label as negative; they move through faster if I just sit with them instead of fighting them.

I try really, really hard to remember that these awful feelings never have lasted forever, even though in the middle of a wave, it’s hard to remember that. 

You know how when you stand in the ocean and you try to push against a wave, you often get knocked over? But if you just float with the wave, or you dive into it, it’s not nearly as bad.

The damage is worse when you resist! 

2. I hunt for what is good

sun peeking through a pine tree.

All of us have good things in our lives, but if we do not make an effort to find them and focus on them, we might completely miss them.

Our brains are programmed to find danger and problems automatically, but they don’t tend to find blessings automatically.

3. I focus on what I can control

When times are hard, there’s often a lot that’s out of our control. Focusing on that makes me feel helpless and hopeless, so I feel better when I look at what IS in my control. 

I can work on my own attitudes.

I can control my own choices.

I can face my problems and take steps to work through the challenges in front of me. 

I can work on my own healing.

I can build something new out of wreckage. 

To reiterate #1: as counterintuitive as it is, an important part of staying positive and healthy for me is to allow for the variety of real feelings that happen in life. I can be sad/angry sometimes, AND also be happy and positive sometimes. 

Hello Kristen!

I hope you are well! I had a quick question for you about deciding when to sell something on ebay vs offer it to your Buy Nothing group. Do you have a rule of thumb you use to decide? I’ve only ever sold things locally, never through ebay, but I often find myself debating which to try first.


Ooh, that’s a good question!

eBay package

Something is a good candidate for eBay if:

  • it’s small/lightweight (shipping will be easy then)
  • it’s a book (shipping is easy and cheap)
  • it’s a niche item (no one on Buy Nothing would want it; it needs a bigger audience to find the right person)
  • it’s got a history of selling for a price that makes it worth my time

If it’s something with value and mass appeal but it’s heavy and/or large, then I list it on Facebook Marketplace (something like a piece of luggage, for instance).

An eBay package, sitting on a padded bench.

And if it’s something that doesn’t fit any of those criteria, then I list it on my Buy Nothing group. 

Ohh, also: if I want to get rid of something, like, RIGHT NOW, then Buy Nothing is the best option.

donations out for pickup.

Buy Nothing stuff waiting for pickup!

Sometimes it takes a while for something to sell on Facebook Marketplace or eBay, but on my Buy Nothing group, things are usually picked up in a day or two. 

ebay packages.

Waiting for something to sell is not a big deal if the item is small; I just put a book on my bookshelf, or I put a small item, such as a Christmas ornament, in a little bin in my office.

But when it comes to large things, I usually want them out of my house faster. 🙂 

My very last option is to drop things off at Goodwill; I do this when I have a collection of little things that are so random, it would be too annoying to list them on my Buy Nothing group. I also will put things in Goodwill bag if no one has responded to a Buy Nothing listing. 

Here’s a post explaining what a Buy Nothing Group is.

And here’s how I sell books on eBay (the process is similar for other things too!)

Hi Kristen,
I play the piano myself and would like to teach my five year old twins but I don’t really know how to start. So far I’ve taught them the 2 black and 3 black keys are repeated across the board and they can find the C note. If you have tips for how you start teaching little ones or can point me to other resources, that would be amazing, thank you!


In all the years that I taught piano lessons, I used the Alfred materials.

A little girl in a pink shirt practicing piano.

A small Zoe

For younger students, I like their prep course, which is the simplest, slowest-moving path. I find that to be less overwhelming for kids who are six and under. Here’s the first book of the prep course

You can also get a set of the Prep Course books to add things like a theory book. 

Also, if you’d like some teaching help, there’s a teacher’s guide.

You might not need that for all the levels, but it could be helpful as you find your footing at first! 

Readers, do you have any input on these questions?

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Saturday 13th of January 2024

Kristen, thank you so much for answering my question! And also a big thank you to all the commenters who added in their experiences.

Y'all are lovely :)


Thursday 11th of January 2024

I am certainly not a trained piano teacher, but have taught two of my kids. I bought a beginner book on Amazon that came with stickers that label the keyboard. The fleet book was Piano Lesson-book 1 by QMG. My kids used the stickers for several months until they finally learned which key was which. The stickers were color coded and matched the note colors in the book, so it let them learn some very basic songs even as they were just learning to read music.

Alyssa P.

Thursday 11th of January 2024

Hi everyone. I've been reading Kristen's blog now for a little over a year, and have found so much joy and information doing so, but this is my first comment. Kristen - I must say thank you for your writing. I love your positive and realistic outlook on life!! And also your recipes :-) I have an eight year old son who I would like to start teaching piano to. I am in the market for a second hand digital piano and am wondering if anyone has suggestions for brands or features to keep an eye out for, or any other tips. Thanks in advance :-) -Alyssa

Dawn in WA

Thursday 11th of January 2024

Craigslist is our go-to, then there are Neighborhood pages, and Offerup. Local women's shelters are great options. My S/O hates FB and was using my account for FB marketplace (very inconvenient for both of us), so I convinced him to set up an account using a handle (ex."Sign Collector") or a variation of his name (first name and middle/last initials) where no one would recognize him and try to friend him. It's worked well so far and he can do all the searching and selling he wants but not bugged by friend requests or having feeds to scroll through. Like Kristen, we use ebay for items that need a wider audience and are fairly easy to ship.


Wednesday 10th of January 2024

You have a golden buy nothing group, Kristen. I haven't had great experiences with my buy nothing group. One time, as an experiment, I listed 3 things, and it took multiple people arranging for each item and 3 or 4 days to give the items. After that I would far rather donate at my local mission thrift store. At least I know the money is going to a good cause.

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