What My Children Have Taught Me About Courage

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Growing up, I thought that having courage meant doing big, daring and heroic things. I thought it was the kind of things that you watch superheroes do in movies. Yet, the older I get and the longer I am a mother, the more I see that courage is in the small, often everyday choices we make that propel us forward. Courage is in the fabric of each choice to bravely choose your own voice, believe in our worth, stand up for others or to simply try again.

I have found that a common thread weaving through all of parenthood is teaching my kids to choose courage. Because in the movies, the superheroes don’t always look like they’re making a choice. However, in real life, courage is a choice and a constant series of choices made in small, everyday moments. Just like children, we can learn to choose courage daily too.

Courage is in the small, often everyday choices we make that propel us forward.

Here are a few things that my children have taught me about courage:

Choose your own voice.

As a parent, I found myself coaching my children on choosing and listening to their own voices as early as preschool. It’s a skill we often need in unexpected moments.

My daughter came home one day describing in distress how another girl in her class told her, “We don’t like that girl, right? You can’t like her.” Her little 4-year-old mind was working hard to reconcile someone who she identified as a friend not only speaking negatively about another friend, but asking her to choose sides. 

Have you ever been in that subtle moment as a grown-up when in a group of friends, at an office or even with extended family? Choosing your own voice is not always a big moment. It is often a quiet refusal to be incongruent with what you believe.

Choosing your own voice is not always a big moment. It is often a quiet refusal to be incongruent with what you believe.

We work on this in our house a lot. My other daughter, after being told on the playground by another child that there is a group of people God doesn’t love, turned to the girl and said, “Well that’s not true, but you can believe what you want.” She was able to hold onto her own thoughts and beliefs.

Believe in your worth.

“I believe in you, and I’m your biggest fan,” I told my son as he tried out for the soccer team. “No matter what happens we are so proud of you.” 

As adults, we don’t often have as many opportunities to “show our work” to the class, enter a talent show or go for the team. Childhood is full of these exciting and sometimes scary opportunities. Believing in your own worth is an essential part of going for anything and an essential part of picking yourself back up if it doesn’t go how you hoped.

Believing in your own worth is an essential part of going for anything and an essential part of picking yourself back up if it doesn’t go how you hoped. 

I have walked my kids through talent show rehearsals that went well—their little shaky knees walking up the stairs to the small stage in the school gym. Just as important, I hugged my kids as they cried and reminded them that their choice to be brave enough to try and the uniqueness of who they are is much more important than the outcome. 

Knowing our worth is what makes us brave to try. And knowing our worth helps us pick ourselves back up when it doesn’t go how we hoped. What might you try if you knew you were worthy either way?

Stand up for others.

When we drove home from a rally to stand in solidarity with the AAPI community against the growing number of hate crimes this year, my son asked me an insightful question on the way home, “Mom, what can I actually do everyday to help stop this?”

We talked about many options as a white family, including standing up for others in school when there are racist remarks said about or to any other child. I sincerely hoped as a mom this wouldn’t continue to happen, but I knew better. The next week, my son got a chance to practice what he learned as another boy in his class mocked Asian culture. It was a comment made between a few other kids, and in that moment, my son practiced the power of standing up for others. 

Using your voice for others in big ways is essential; however, the potential impact of taking a stand in any small moment that comes your way is a powerful act that can have huge ripple effects. How much more might you use your voice to stand up for others if you believed in the impact of every small moment?

Simply try again.

Sometimes, I feel like literally everything in childhood could be a lesson on trying again. Kids have not mastered anything quite yet. Everything they attempt is new to them at some point, even walking and talking. 

As adults, we lose often sight of this. We fear looking stupid, of being embarrassed or of failing. So we pin ourselves into smaller and smaller corners with little to no new experiences. In the last two years, I have had a child learning to skateboard, another learning to roller blade and still another learning to ride a bike. They fall and fall, over and over again. The only way forward is to simply try again. 

The only way forward is to simply try again. 

It isn’t fancy or complicated. It is just the only thing you can do to move forward. Trying again seems obvious when you fall off a skateboard, but what if we gave ourselves as adults the same permission to just try again when we fail? How many more things might we try?

If courage has felt like a big or far off thing to you, pull that big idea off the metaphorical movie screen and into your everyday life. Courage is a small, daily choice that we all can make.

What have you done today or yesterday that required some measure of courage? Knowing that courage is a choice, what might you choose to do tomorrow?

Image via Melanie Acevedo, Darling Issue No. 11

Home Decor You Should Invest in (and Where to Save)

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News flash: By no means do you need to splurge on every single item in your home to design a place that’s beautiful and reflects who you are. That said, there are some types of home decor that are totally worth their hefty price tags if they’ll serve you for years to come. So where should you spend a little extra cash and where is it worth cutting back? We spoke with seven design experts who shared the five types of items you should invest in and the two categories you can most definitely save some cash in. 


Designers Say You Should Invest In…


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Your Sofa

Specifically, you’ll want to select “a good, quality sofa that can withstand the test of time both literally and figuratively,” Patrice Stephens said. “You want a piece that is used daily to be able to hold up.” When it comes to choosing a specific style, Stephens has some additional tips. “It would need to be a timeless piece that isn’t trendy and will carry you through the years,” she explained. But that doesn’t mean your overall setup has to look bland. “Adding textiles will help in changing up the vibe, and you for sure can go a little trendier there,” Stephens added.



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A Mattress

Purchase one that’ll last you 10 years or more, Tanika Rottura advised. After all, she said, “Your sleep is key to living a productive and sane life.” I can personally attest that an amazing mattress makes all the difference—I’ve had mine for the past eight years, and while it was a bit of a splurge up front, I can’t imagine parting with it anytime soon. It’s truly the comfiest and has moved with me to over five different apartments!



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Your Bed Frame

After you find the perfect mattress, go ahead and tackle the next item on your list—a bed frame. “Your bed is the main focal point of your bedroom, so you want to invest in a beautiful frame,” Lidia Salazar explained. Whether you prefer something super glam and traditional or are inclined to go a more modern route, have fun with the shopping process! Just think carefully about which styles will prove most versatile in the long run should your aesthetic change in just a few years’ time.



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Pieces You’ll Use Every Day

These may include your dining chairs or a living room rug, Ellie Mroz explained. Even if you only have space for a small breakfast nook, for example, you may as well make it nice and luxe if you’ll be eating all three meals there many days of the week!



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Light Fixtures

“Lighting sets the tone for a room, and a beautiful light fixture above can have a big impact, so that’s where I splurge,” Hannah Hamburger said. However, she noted, lighting can also be a prime category in which to save. Though she shells out more for statement pieces, Hamburger spends less on her bedside and floor lamps.



Designers Say You Should Save Money On…


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No need to spend a pretty penny on that one-of-a-kind piece (at least not quite yet) when there are plenty of other options that’ll better suit your budget. “‘Real’ or original art can be very expensive, and I definitely think that at some point investing in art is the move, but beautiful art absolutely does not have to be expensive,” Hattie Kolp explained. “My favorite hack is to download art for free off of a museum website like the Met, then have it printed on canvas. It gives it a textured look that is pretty convincing!” With this tactic, you can easily create an entire gallery wall for less than the cost of one pricey piece.



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Decorative Accents

Consider this your excuse to go ahead and load up that Target cart! “Save on easily replaced accessories such as lamps, decorative items, throw pillows, and any trendy items that you will eventually tire of once the trend is over,” Linda Holt said. Facebook Marketplace and other community resale sites are also excellent resources for scoring these types of accents for a cheap price.


The One Update That Will Completely Transform Your Kitchen



8 Things We Want to Happen in Outer Banks Season 2

Source: Netflix

Like most people with a Netflix subscription, I was sucked into the world of Outer Banks during April 2020. I was absolutely obsessed with the show (still am) and binged it in less than 48 hours. I’ve come back to it since then, putting it on whenever I need a little escape from real life. The show seemingly took over the world when it came out—I swear, every TikTok I saw, person I talked to, or Instagram post I scrolled past was singing praises and wanting more.

From the moment it got renewed for a second season, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the return of the Pogues to my screen. And after a long 15 months of production delays, watching behind-the-scenes snapshots from the cast on social media when they finally did start filming, and guessing about what day it might return, it’s finally time.

When Netflix dropped the trailer for OBX2, I was immediately transported back into their world, wondering what exactly was going to happen and counting down the days until July 30. If you’re just as excited as we are, this one’s for you. And if for some reason you haven’t seen the first season yet, stop reading and go check it out while you still have time to catch up because warning: There are major season one spoilers ahead.

But before we get into what we’d like to see, here’s what Netflix gave us in the trailer…



Now that we’re all caught up and excited, here are eight things we want to happen in Outer Banks season two:


1. Happiness for JJ

This had to be first on this list because I want this more than I’ve ever wanted anything from a fictional TV show. We saw JJ go through so many hard moments in season one—from his relationship with his dad to his struggle with self-worth to taking the blame for sinking Topper’s boat for Pope. I would love nothing more than to see JJ just be happy this season, whether that’s through a love interest, a path to a better family dynamic, or even, like, a dog?


2. Justice for John B.

John B. struggled a lot in season one. He didn’t know where his father was, what happened to him, or if he was even alive, but he at least got some closure when he finally learned the truth (which, if you don’t remember, was that Ward and Big John were working together to find the Royal Merchant gold; they got super close and Big John thought he deserved more than a 50/50 cut, then they got into an argument on a boat in which Big John falls and hits his head, and instead of taking him to get help and save his life, Ward pushed him overboard and left him for dead). So with all of that in mind, I think there’s definitely more room for John B. to process what happened, and Ward will hopefully face consequences for what he did. Also, the season ended with an island-wide lockdown and a giant manhunt for John B., all over a crime he did not commit. Although he definitely did some sketchy (and illegal) things throughout the season, he definitely didn’t shoot the sheriff—so I’m going to need his name to be cleared for that one.


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3. The downfall of Ward and Rafe Cameron

Speaking of shooting the sheriff, I’m really hoping that the cops come around and believe John B., Sarah, and the rest of the gang when they tell them it wasn’t John B. but Rafe who shot Sheriff Peterkin. Rafe was clearly in a downward spiral at the end of the season, and I think it would do him good to actually face some consequences for once in his life. And don’t even get me started on Ward. He is the literal worst, and aside from the aforementioned situation with John B.’s father, the number of other people’s deaths that he’s responsible for is truly alarming. He’s also just not a good father or husband—he consistently lies to his family and is clearly the reason that Rafe is the way he is. I would love for him to not only be put in jail and never see a cent of the gold, but also for everyone (including his family) to realize that he’s not the model citizen he appears to be.


4. More cute Pogue moments

First things first, season one ended with JJ, Pope, and Kiara believing that John B. and Sarah died when the boat overturned during the storm, so I need them to find out ASAP that they survived (I can’t handle any more JJ crying scenes, OK?). In my opinion, the best part of OBX season one was the chemistry among the Pogues. The cast is close in real life, and I think that really shines through in their acting. I loved watching them dance and laugh together at Kie’s family’s restaurant, hang out on the boat together, have each other’s backs at the Midsommar party, and just comfort each other through the hard times. Needless to say, I’m very excited to see more of the little things—the moments when a group of friends is just having fun, hanging out, and having real conversations with one another. #P4L, am I right?


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5. $400 million in gold

We got painstakingly close to the Royal Merchant gold being in the hands of the Pogues last season before Ward Cameron rudely ruined everything once again by eavesdropping on Sarah and John B.’s conversation (per usual) and discovering that they had found the gold in the well under Ms. Crain’s house. He then used his wealthiness and privilege to purchase the land and excavate the gold himself. John B.’s father devoted his whole life to finding that gold and even died trying, so it only seems right that John B. gets to finish the job. While I presume it won’t be easy (because what kind of show would that be?), I do hope the gang gets the pay they deserve in the end.


6. A little more redemption in Topper’s character arc

Although Topper was the actual worst for most of the first season, in the second to last episode, we saw him have a little change of heart. If you don’t remember, he decided to actually help John B. and Sarah when he distracted the cops by wearing John B.’s hoodie (the bright orange one that all of the cops were looking for), as the real John B. and Sarah escaped the bell tower. While I will never forgive the way he treated Sarah—namely, not reacting well when she changed her mind about having sex with him, befriending her crazy brother, and calling her a whole slew of inappropriate names—and the general way he acted throughout most of the season, there’s still a chance for him to have a little more redemption. I’d love to see him realize the things he has done wrong, apologize, and make some real progress toward becoming a better person.


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7. John B. + Sarah Cameron = 💖

Madelyn Cline and Chase Stokes won “Best Kiss” for their kissing in the rain scene at the MTV Movie & TV Awards for good reason. They have undeniable chemistry (I mean, they are dating in real life, so that’s probably why), and I can’t wait to see how that chemistry continues to shine in season two. Plus, according to the trailer, we’re starting the season in the Bahamas, and while it might not be a relaxing vacation, it’s still romantic. I’m excited to see how their relationship matures and grows. However, if I just jinxed it and they end up breaking up this season, I’m going to need a minute to recover.


8. Pope and Kie or JJ and Kie??

Ah, the question we were all wondering throughout the entire first season: who should Kiara be with (or should she just be the boss babe she is on her own)? Personally, I was rooting for a JJ and Kie love story the entire time. Needless to say, I was shook when Pope confessed his love and Kie denied him, only to change her mind and show interest in him in the end. I mean, I love Pope just as much as the next gal, but did everyone see how she comforted JJ during the hot tub scene? Whatever happens, I hope that they all end up happy and that no friendships are ruined in the process.


Final Thoughts

As I’ve mentioned about 100 times now, I am beyond excited for the premiere of Outer Banks 2. I can’t think of another show in recent memory that has had the same effect as this one, in that a whole generation of people clung to it like John B. and Sarah clung to the overturned boat in the final episode (sorry, I had to). 

Although the show might be overly dramatic, unrealistic, and a tiny bit cheesy, what entertaining show isn’t? Outer Banks provides us with an escape unlike anything else, and the complexity of and chemistry between the characters is unmatched. I can’t wait to binge the season in less than 48 hours again, but I’m already dreading the sadness that will come when it’s over. So, let’s grab our bandanas and tropical button-down shirts and get ready for what’s bound to be quite the journey.

Season two of Outer Banks premieres on Netflix on Friday, July 30. Don’t forget to catch up on season one while you wait!

A Lesson From the French on How to Rest Well During Summertime

A view of the Eiffel Tower from behind a tree

It’s difficult to put into words what summertime means in France. An analogy that seems fitting is to compare summer in France to a finely aged wine. The French work hard all year to harvest the fruit of their labor, but when it comes to summer vacation, they know that, like an aged bottle of red, the secret to excellence is allowing time, rest and stillness to do the work. So let’s learn the French way to do summer—by taking time to relish in the abundance and harvest of the year through true rest. 

As a lover of California sunshine, living abroad in France for four years gave me a new understanding of summer as I faced my first dark, cold and damp winter in Paris. The short days and crowded metros made me crave space and light. Springtime in Paris was an emotional rollercoaster as weather was unpredictable and thunderstorms would interrupt pique-niques and plans.

The French do not live to work. They work to live. Even embedded within the language, the verb “être” (to be) is often used more than “faire” (to do). Daily life in the summer is centered on being not merely doing. Summers are not just for kids on break from school, but the entire society celebrates and savors all that summer has to offer. 

The French do not live to work. They work to live.

Summer Solstice, June 21, is welcomed with a national music festival called La Fête de La Musique. The festival originated in the 1980’s when the Minister of Culture desired to bring people and music to the streets. 

By allowing amateurs and professionals to play without permits, cost or noise restrictions at the festival, all genres of music are made accessible to the public. On the longest day of the year, everyone celebrates life with a 24-hour nationwide party. In Paris, all you need to do is walk for a few blocks and you will stumble on elderly couples dancing in the streets, punk-rock youth blasting their protests, classical quartets lining cafés and children, always at the front line of any crowd, soaking in the sounds and experience of music. 

This annual festival is just a debut of all France has to offer for the summer months. All year long you hear the French dream and discuss plans for “les vacances.” Embedded in French culture is the value of time for rest more than the grind of work and capitalism. 

Embedded in French culture is the value of time for rest more than the grind of work and capitalism. 

The government by law requires full-time workers to take at least five weeks vacation, on top of public holidays throughout the year. By August, most shops are closed for the month with handwritten notes from owners explaining “on est en vacances.” We are on vacation and will reopen in September. 

The French summer is unlike any other. Located in the heart of Europe, the geography of France allows for easy access to travel and weekend trips to new cultures and countries. All you have to do is hop on a south-bound train and you will be at the seaside in a matter of hours. 

The longer days, full feasts of delicious seasonal food, time spent with family and a nation-wide pause on work allow for a restoration of the soul of humanity. This summer, may we also learn to pause and let time and rest do its work in usmaking us like a fine wine full of flavor and life.

How good are you about prioritizing rest? Why is this so important?

Image via Coco Tran, Darling Issue No. 19

Darling Letters: Disappointment Is A Comma, Not a Period

A woman's hands as she writes inside a magazine, one page with a large comma and the other with writing

We are bringing “Darling Letters” from your inbox to the blog! We love the art of letter writing and believe it helps build authentic community. Our editors and contributors have thoughtfully written encouraging letters to cut through the busyness and speak straight to your heart.

After a long day of frantically refreshing my inbox, I finally got a response, but it was not the one I was hoping for.


The small, Arial text seemed as though it spoke in all caps. It felt as if the short message punctuated a dream of acceptance into the program and the subsequent joy that I anticipated. 

It felt as if the short message punctuated a dream of acceptance into the program and the subsequent joy that I anticipated. 

The immediate disappointment that followed this email seemed like confirmation that dreaming and hoping for something that was not immediately within reach was not viable nor worth it. In an ongoing season replete with dissolved dreams, this seemed like another reason to see the present moment as one of isolation disconnected from the future.

However, to dream is to realize that what you see is not all there is and is not all there will be. In doing this, we take stock of the state of things around us while also allowing ourselves to long for something better. When disappointment comes, we can try to suppress our dreams as “outlandish” or “unattainable,” or instead, we can discern a healthy discontent for the present moment while still creating new aspirations for the future.

May we see interruptions to our dreams as commas, not periods. Dream on (even when it’s hard).

To dream is to realize that what you see is not all there is and is not all there will be. 

Sam Miller, the Darling family

Is there any disappointment in your life that is causing you to feel disillusioned? How can we continue to dream in the midst of disappointment?

Image via Tony Li