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

How to Cultivate Emotional Intimacy With Your Spouse

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As I sat across the table from him, I wanted to know his thoughts, ones I hadn’t heard before. An undeniable thirst to know him better washed over me in the moment. Not even the perspiring glass of water in front of me could satisfy the feeling. 

What I was craving was emotional intimacy, which is defined as “a perception of closeness to another person that allows sharing of feelings, accompanied by expectations of understanding, affirmation and demonstrations of caring.” The longer I have been married, the more I have come to value emotional intimacy as a tool to know my husband better and to be truly seen and known by him. In our culture of hustle and busyness, this could not be more important.

Here are a few ways I have learned to cultivate emotional intimacy in relationships:

Get creative in conversation.  

There’s something about getting outside of the house and looking the man I love in the eyes that sparks a sense of that first date fondness. In an effort to recreate those early moments, I began asking him “what if” scenarios.  

What if you had to have a job that was dangerous? What would you choose? What if you had to live on an island? Where would you live? If you could only change one thing at your current job, what would it be? 

Similar to dreaming up make-believe worlds as a child, I created scenarios that took my husband to a state of imagination and daydreaming. Those abstract questions sparked conversations that related to our current lives, our ever-developing feelings for each other and our future. By speaking my seemingly odd trains of thoughts into existence, it created emotional intimacy with my otherwise quiet-natured partner. It opened the door for laughter, connection and ultimately, reinforcement of our relationship. 

It opened the door for laughter, connection and ultimately, reinforcement of our relationship. 

Lean into their interests.

When you’re no longer in the early stages of a relationship, you have to get crafty when it comes to discovering new things about your partner. Sometimes, I feel like I couldn’t possibly find out anything I don’t already know about my husband, but he continues to surprise me.

When I give my spouse my full attention as he tells me something he’s discovered, it creates another avenue for emotional connection. He could share anything from a new band, a YouTube show or an author who he has unexpectedly unearthed. Ironically, he typically picks times to reveal these things whenever I’m busy, but what I’ve noticed is that when I put aside what I’m doing and lean into a conversation, he feels seen and heard. His excitement only grows. 

What I’ve noticed is that when I put aside what I’m doing and lean into a conversation, he feels seen and heard.

When I’m at work the next day, if I listen to the song he’s become obsessed with or read an article about an author he loves, I have something to “report back” when we come together for dinner that night. It shows that I’ve taken the time to care for his interests, even if they are not my interests. He does the same for me. It takes a little work on both of our parts since we have vastly different tastes, but the work makes us feel well-rounded in our relationship. 

Take time away from your devices and connect through intentional dialogue.

Most weekday evenings, my husband and I sit down on our living room couch, exhausted after everything we’ve done that day. We binge-watch our favorite shows, and after an hour or so, we go to bed. It hit me, as we were turning out the lights one night, that while we sit together almost every day and while we’re close in proximity, our conversations are minimal.

Our dinners are pretty quick with small talk about our days. Then, it’s on to the next thing until we can’t possibly get anything else done that day and collapse together on the couch. 

Recently, we’ve taken this into account and instead of zoning out (which is totally acceptable to do occasionally), we lie next to each other rather than at opposite ends of the couch. We lie in silence and let whatever thoughts that are top-of-mind surface. We have intentional talks in these quiet moments, making them some of my favorite times. When the silence is broken, it’s only because one of us is telling the other what we observe in them—the good, the areas of needed growth, the unique talents, the beautiful truths and ultimately, the reasons our love grows for the other daily. 

We have intentional talks in these quiet moments, making them some of my favorite times.

When my head hits the pillow on nights like this, my emotional tank overflows. If I haven’t connected with my favorite person in the entire world on any particular day, it hurts my inner being. It’s so easy for us to fall into our daily routines that we don’t realize the damage until it begins to hurt.

Throughout the span of our marriage, we have both intentionally sought connection. Because of this, we now can quickly discern when it’s been too long since we’ve had a night of talking and getting to know each other again. While our mind-numbing TV binging habit can be fun at times, we consciously choose to take a few nights away from the screen. We intentionally choose to rekindle our love for one another. 

If your emotional tank is running on empty in your relationships, it is possible to cultivate emotional intimacy. It requires effort, energy and a little TLC. You and your partner’s relationship will only be better for it!

How do you and your partner cultivate emotional intimacy? What, if anything, might be getting in the way of you connecting on a deeper level?

Image via Prakash Shroff, Darling Issue No. 17

How to Start and Grow a Business

A smiling woman with glasses in her hands that are touching her chin as she stands in front of a two-tone wall

Starting and growing a business is a deeply gratifying experience. Your business is a reflection of your unique gifts and experience—a contribution that no one else can make to the world. However, it’s not always easy.

Throughout several years of running a custom jewelry studio and coaching purpose-driven entrepreneurs, I’ve grown and been stretched more than I could imagine. There’s no single right way to run a business, and we’re all on a journey of discovery.

There’s no single right way to run a business, and we’re all on a journey of discovery.

Here’s a few things I’ve learned about how to thrive as an entrepreneur.

Learn about yourself. 

Honesty is best when it comes to your business. The start-up stage can be grueling, and you don’t want to build something you won’t enjoy. You’ll wear many hats and some may not be your favorite, but the bulk of the work should align with your talents, interests and past experience. 

Now is the time for personal exploration. Ask yourself:

  • What are your strengths? What are your assets?
    This might be prior work experience, education, finances or a professional network.
  • What gives you life?
    Consider keeping a journal for a week to identify what activities give you energy and which drain you.
  • How can you leverage your strengths to overcome challenges?
    After you’ve taken inventory of your strengths and assets, take notes on how to use those strengths to overcome any challenges you might encounter.
  • How much is “enough” revenue from your business? What would success look like for you? How many hours are you willing to work? What boundaries will you need in place?
    It’s more difficult to define values while you’re in the midst of struggle. Define your values around time and money. Take time to set the values and intentions you want to operate from in the future.

Create a self-care routine.

There will be tough days in your business. Don’t wait until you are already exhausted to try and refill your bucket. Build a healthy foundation by creating a self-care routine. As a business owner who is also raising four children, proactive self-care has become essential for me. 

Here are a few tips that have served me well:

  • Review my journal of life-giving and life-draining activities to identify things that could trigger exhaustion, as well as ways to refill.
  • Make a list of self-care practices you’ll need on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis.
    Consider your physical, emotional and spiritual needs. A few of my practices include a weekly long walk with a podcast, a monthly date with nature and annual health check-ups.
  • Schedule your self-care on your calendar.
    Booking appointments with yourself means you’ll be more likely to keep yourself running in a balanced state.

Build a community of encouragers.

Building a business is exciting. You’ll want to celebrate your wins and also maintain a sense of hope. As with a self-care routine, building your community of encouragement now will start you off with the support you’ll need throughout the life of your business.

Tell friends and family about your new venture. It may be tempting to wait until you’ve had “success,” but the whole point is to have support and encouragement before you have the “proof.” Running a business is often an act of faith, and there are days when you’ll need others to hold the faith for you. Don’t wait on success to connect. Let people accompany you at every step.

Running a business is often an act of faith, and there are days when you’ll need others to hold the faith for you.

That said, do be choosy about who you bring into your circle. This is sacred ground. Be sure you’re sharing with people who respect that. You’ll want people that can provide support without judgment or unnecessary fear.

Explore creative ways to broaden your community of encouragers. Consider networking or mastermind groups to meet other entrepreneurs.  Make a list of motivating music, quotes, social media accounts, books and movies to keep you inspired.

Plan and take action.

A business is its own entity and warrants thoughtful planning. However, don’t let fear or perfectionism turn into procrastination. There’s nothing about running a business that you can’t handle. 

  • Invest in learning.
    Think back to your list of strengths, assets and areas of growth. Where might you benefit from professional development? The surge in online courses has made it easier than ever to learn new skills. Word to the wise: Invest in learning, but don’t use it as a way to procrastinate. There is a temptation to wait until you’ve learned everything, but some things just have to be learned by doing.
  • Make a plan but practice flexibility.
    You don’t know what you don’t know. Businesses that are flexible are more likely to survive.
  • Invest time in creating systems.
    It takes longer at first, but systems create more time as you grow.  They also lead to a more sustainable business in the long run.

Also, a few practicalities to plan for when starting a business: Create a separate checking account from the beginning. Research licensing requirements, and consider hiring an accountant if you’re not versed in the tax implications of owning a business. 

With knowledge of yourself, a solid foundation of self-care and encouragement and a plan that is adaptable, welcome to the journey of a lifetime! It’s hard to top the joy earned from launching your ideas out into the world. I can’t wait to see what you create.

What tips do you have for the new entrepreneur? In business, what are some things you can plan ahead for and some that you cannot?

Image via Sierra Prescott, Darling Issue No. 16

What We’re Buying From the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

The Everygirl’s product selections are curated by the editorial team. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission, at no cost to you. We only recommend products we genuinely love.

If you haven’t heard by now, the best sale of the year is here and in full-swing (but you probably have because our editors have been yelling it from the rooftops for days now). Yes, the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is here—and if you haven’t already, it’s time to figure out what you want to add to your cart before it sells out.

Every year, the Nordstrom Sale is marked on our editors’ calendars and circled in red marker because we know that it’s our opportunity to add the pieces of our dreams to our wardrobes at majorly discounted prices (and that they won’t be in stock for long). We scour every page of the sale, write down our wishlists, and do everything in our power to get our hands on the things we want before they’re gone.

This year, we’ve made purchases we’re very excited about, and we don’t want to keep the news to ourselves. From full-size beauty sets at unbelievable prices to jackets we’re planning on living in this fall, these are the pieces our editors purchased (or have in our carts) from this year’s sale. Trust us, you don’t want to miss out on them.

Source: Jordan McDonnell for The Everygirl

$96 value

Oribe Dry Shampoo & Dry Texturizing Spray Full-Size Set, $64

As someone with thin hair who is constantly pining over Gisele-level locks, I have tried every dry shampoo and texture spray out there. Oribe texture spray is by far the best at giving me tousled volume and the I-Woke-Up-Like-This texture (you know what I’m talking about) while still leaving my hair soft and touchable. The dry shampoo is also truly a game-changer for my hair routine because I spray it before bed or in the morning days after I blow dry, and it looks like I just got a fresh blowout. I call them both miracle products, but I often settle for not-as-great options because Oribe is so expensive. I’m taking full advantage of the Nordstrom sale to stock up on two bottles for basically the price of one. Your hair will never look better (at such an affordable price!)

– Josie Santi, Associate Editor & Wellness Content Manager

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$156 value

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cleanser Set, $88

The Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cleanser and Ultra Facial Cream are already a part of my daily skincare routine, and I love how simple and nourishing these products are. I’m going to use the Nordstrom sale to stock up on my favorite products to save some money the next time I run out.

– Keely Geist, Social Media Editor, The Everymom

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Le Labo

Santal 26 Votive Set

I’m all about any candle that makes me feel like my home is a luxury resort, so it’s no surprise my eyes zeroed in on this votive set. The concrete vessel adds a chic, industrial touch and can make for cute decor once the candle runs out.

– Andi Wynter, Contributing Writer

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$150 value

T3 1.25-Inch Curling Iron, $99

I recently went on vacation with a whole gaggle of girlfriends, and one friend brought a 1.25-inch curling iron. I’m a firm believer in my 1-inch, but I decided to try it because it was already plugged in and hot. Since then, I’ve been researching and wanting to order a bigger iron because I loved the soft waves it gave my medium-length, fine hair. I swear by my T3 blow dryer, so I already know I love their technology and that it’s high quality. This is an incredible deal that I don’t want to miss.

– Beth Gillette, Beauty Content Manager & Associate Editor

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Originally $69

AllSaints Leather Card Case, $45

I’ve had the same wallet since I was 20 years old. It was once a white, simple card case that has now become tattered and so stretched out that my cards easily slip out (I mean, the wallet was about $15, so I’m impressed it even lasted this long). I know a nice wallet is one of those “adult purchases” that just has to happen at some point, so the Nordstrom Sale would be the best time to find a grown-up and chic wallet, maybe even from a cool AF brand (you know, the kind I wouldn’t pay full price for but endlessly wish I could). This camel croc printed card case has been on my list since Nordstrom announced the sale’s lineup this year because it’s timeless, stylish, and affordable. This is totally going to update my bag for fall 2021 and beyond.

– Josie Santi, Associate Editor & Wellness Content Manager

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Originally $100

Ugg Shearling Slippers, $69

Since working from home, I’ve become super into slippers. Last fall, I decided it was time to stop constantly buying $20 pairs that fall apart after a couple of months and get myself a nice pair. I never pulled the trigger, but I knew that this sale was finally my excuse to. These slippers are one of those little things that just spark joy every day, and I’ve already been wearing them even though it’s 90 degrees here. Uggs rarely go on sale, so this is a great time to purchase these—and with all the colors they come in, you’ll be sure to find a pair that you love.

– Madeline Galassi, Fashion Content Manager & Associate Editor

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Originally $80

Converse Platform High-Tops, $59

We’ve seen it all over Instagram—Converse are back and one of the hottest shoes you can get your hands on this year. I think this pair has the same great, classic look as the original high-tops, but the leather adds an elevated touch. I’m excited to wear them to day and night outings all fall. Plus, as someone on the shorter side, I’m all about the additional height that the platform is going to give me.

– Keely Geist, Social Media Editor, The Everymom

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Originally $56

Alo Biker Shorts, $36

I take full advantage of purchasing activewear that has been on my wishlist whenever a sale comes around. Alo is super comfy, whether I’m taking a brisk walk or in a hot yoga sesh, and I’m obsessed with how flattering their shorts always are. Adding color back into my wardrobe has also been one of my goals for this year, and this pink is super fun and bright and makes me excited to work out.

– Andi Wynter, Contributing Writer

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Originally $89

Levi’s 501 Straight-Leg Jeans, $58

Look, I’m not here to make friends, I’m here to find jeans for life. I’m happy to report that Levi’s never disappoints and are made to last. I’m obsessed with the straight-leg fit of these. They’re also perfect for when you’re going out, and I love anything that I can feel comfortable in all night long.

– Andi Wynter, Contributing Writer

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Originally $188

Suede Moto Jacket, $99

The Nordstrom sale is my favorite time to purchase higher-ticket items that I normally wouldn’t even consider. Sure, this moto jacket at full-price wouldn’t be the most expensive thing I’ve ever purchased, but I’d go back and forth on it for a long time before taking the plunge. At almost $100 off, I didn’t even think twice about adding it to my cart. It’s a classic cut and staple color that I know I’ll wear literally all the time. The best part? I’ll never have to worry about it going out of style. I’m looking forward to this jacket being a staple in my wardrobe for years to come.

– Garri Chaverst, Managing Editor

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Originally $189

Plaid Teddy Jacket, $99

I’m at the point in my life where my wardrobe is pretty covered in the “basics” department, which means that when I’m shopping now, I’m looking for pieces that pack a bit more of a punch. I wore my lighter-weight teddy coat all fall last year and absolutely loved the idea of having this purple one in my arsenal. I sized up and got a medium, and it’s perfectly boxy and cozy. I wish it was already fall so I could get to wearing it every single day.

– Madeline Galassi, Fashion Content Manager & Associate Editor

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Originally $69

Double Breasted Blazer, $45

I’m here for all the blazer looks: over a T-shirt and jeans for work, a sexy top for nights out, or biker shorts and a sports bra for a trendy, street-style look. I think this blazer is versatile enough for all of them. I don’t have a pinstripe blazer that I love yet, so I’m excited to give this one a try.

– Keely Geist, Social Media Editor, The Everymom

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Originally $300

The North Face Parka, $224

A few years ago, I moved down to South Carolina and donated all of my winter clothes, swearing up and down I would never move back to Chicago. But in April, I moved back. Now that winter weather is quickly approaching (I’m quite stressed about it already), I need to add a heavy-duty winter coat to my closet. I’m convinced that this Nordstrom one is the best bet I have at fighting off the cold.

– Jessica Jones, Social Media Editor

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Originally $200

Puffer Jacket, $119

I somehow survived winter 2020 without a puffer coat, and while I’m here to tell the tale, I know I need one going into winter 2021. The reason I never bought one last year was because I could never find anything I loved. I wanted something short, warm-but-not-hot (I get very sweaty, what can I say), and that had a hood for snowy days. Then, as I perused the Nordstrom sale, I found this, and it was love at first sight. I tried it on in the store and it fits true-to-size with a little extra room for sweaters or cardigans. I also love that this is water repellant—snow days, here I come!

– Beth Gillette, Beauty Content Manager & Associate Editor

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The Best Plus-Size Pieces From the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale
grab your wallet—you’re going to need it


Darling Letters: How to Take Up Space

A woman with her hands in her hair as she screams

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.

I can’t remember the exact moment I realized something wasn’t right—that the “same old, same old” wasn’t going to cut it anymore. Up until that point in my life, I felt confined. So I took a hard look at myself in the mirror and started the work of asking myself why.

What I discovered was that no one was confining me but me. In a subconscious attempt to protect myself from the disapproval of others, I put my voice and my opinions in a box of limitations. In this metaphorical box, who I was wouldn’t rock the boat and I couldn’t step on any toes.

What I discovered was that no one was confining me but me.

It took me years of self-discovery and growing pains to realize that I was living for the approval and applause of others and that the fear of not receiving it caused me to play the role of a lesser version of myself. For a while, this worked for me.

Yet, as I’ve matured, I’ve grown out of the box of playing small for other people. Now, that box of limitations is not large enough for me to fit in and living inside it is no longer sustainable for the healthier, more whole version of myself that I am today.

So I got out. I’m stretching my arms. I’m using my voice. I’m learning to speak up for myself and say what I think and what I want. I’m learning to take up every bit of space I’ve been given, and it feels good.

I’m stretching my arms. I’m using my voice. I’m learning to speak up for myself.

Let’s step out of the tight spaces where we have confined and limited ourselves. Everything about you—your thoughts and your opinions—is valuable and worthy of being seen and heard. There is room for you to be the most true and authentic version of yourself.

Starla Gatson, the Darling family

Have you ever felt the need to play small for other people? In what practical way, can you start taking up space in your life?

Image via Koury Angelo, Darling Issue No. 11

How to Cope if the Reopening Makes You Anxious

Source: Stocksy

In 2019, I considered myself to be a social person (pre-pandemic and pre-reopening): I’m a decent conversationalist, never had a Taco Tuesday that I didn’t like, and tended to gravitate toward the people I didn’t know at a party. When I got vaccinated and restaurants started opening back up at the beginning of the summer, I thought I was ready to dive all in, see people I hadn’t seen in over a year, and even make new friends. Spoiler alert: I was wrong. 

Instead of the pre-2020 excitement I felt before going to a large social gathering or meeting someone new, dread set in. Questions like, “What do I do if the conversation lulls?”, “What if I’m awkward?”, and (the worst of them all) “What if I’m still not safe, even with the vaccine?” plagued the nights out where I used to only worry about what to wear or if my mascara would smudge. The truth is that we’ve been at home with only our quarantine crew and Uber Eats drivers to keep us company, and a lot of those “fun” things (like crowded bars or concerts) became situations that put us in danger. Of course, there’s going to be some adjusting. 


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“Feeling anxious about reopening is quite common,” explained Dr. Tyson Lippe, MD, a psychiatrist at Heading Health in Austin, Texas. “A lot of our fear in returning to pre-pandemic functions, like the office and engaging in social events, stems from uncertainty. It is unclear who is vaccinated, what precautions will be implemented, and what the new social norms are.” Basically, even the most social of butterflies are way out of practice. Add on stress about safety and dangerous new strains, and it’s no wonder so many of us are feeling stressed RN. So I did what any wellness editor would do and asked experts for their best tips to cope if reopening and getting back to “normal” isn’t as easy as we thought. 

Just as a brief disclaimer: We always recommend seeking help. Whether that’s leaning on your best friend, finding a therapist near you, or joining a community for your mental health, it’s always important to prioritize how you feel, especially when going through a tough time. Find a therapist you love, come up with a game plan, prioritize self-care over anything else, and try out these seven tips from experts on how to cope with getting back to “normal.”


Recognize how you feel

It may sound basic, but the first step is identifying and acknowledging the way you feel. Maybe you haven’t historically been anxious in social settings or maybe you didn’t know our lack of normalcy throughout 2020 and 2021 affected you as much as it did. Once you recognize what you’re feeling, you can make a plan. “The first step is to recognize that you’re feeling anxious,” Dr. Lippe said. “Pay attention to your emotional state as well as any physical manifestations.” For example, does your stomach get queasy when thinking about going back to the office or does your heart start pounding when you enter a crowded restaurant?

Keeping track of how and what you feel will help identify certain triggers. “Is it a particular place, group of friends, type of setting, etc., that’s making you feel anxious?” asked Merissa Goolsarran, LCSW, a licensed therapist who specializes in anxiety treatment. “Keeping a log of situations where you might experience anxiousness is helpful in determining if a pattern is present.” 


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A post shared by Brooke & Meggan (@somewherelately)


Appreciate those feelings (yes, even the negative ones)

I get it. Any negative emotion, whether it’s stress, worry, annoyance, frustration, or sadness, can feel so uncomfortable that we actually get mad at the feeling. But take it from someone who has been in a toxic relationship with anxiety for years: Thinking “why me?” or “I just need to get over this already!” makes it worse. “We have to give ourselves time to be programmed back in the other direction,” said Dr. Emily Stone, PhD, LMFT-S, a professor and licensed marriage and family therapist. “Of course we are going to experience anxiety returning to work and other pre-COVID activities: We have been telling ourselves that these situations are dangerous.” 

Any extra worry or stress may be annoying, but it’s not irrational. In the big picture, “negative” feelings can actually keep us safe. Feelings of anxiousness and fear are biologically useful—the mind reacts to help us avoid danger so we survive (that’s where “fight-or-flight” comes from). After all, emotional reactions like fear, worry, or empathy are what drove us to make safe decisions during the pandemic in the first place. Appreciate the purpose of that extra stress and worry, and then remind yourself that you aren’t in any immediate danger like the fight-or-flight response tells us, and those feelings aren’t serving a purpose anymore.


Have a mini escape plan

If you anticipate that your first day back at the office or a larger social gathering might garner some overall overwhelm, have a game plan to help ease discomfort during each situation. “There are several useful techniques to keep you calm when faced with anxiety-provoking situations,” suggested Dr. Mimi Winsberg, a board-certified psychiatrist and the chief medical officer at Brightside. “Try self-talk, breathing exercises, or even rehearsing worst-case scenarios to realize they are not that bad.” Planning ahead is crucial when easing into uncomfortable situations you’re not used to. For example, mentally repeat an affirmation when you start feeling a little overwhelmed at the office, make a list of topics in your head for when there’s a lull in a conversation, or have a back up plan if the restaurant feels a little too crowded for your comfort level (takeout and wine nights are still fun!). 


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Say “no”

Just because everything is opening back up does not mean you have to totally open back up. In other words, just because you’re happy that concerts, office happy hours, dinner parties, and restaurants are coming back in full swing does not mean you have to do it all. “Go at your own pace,” advised Jenny Okolo, an occupational therapist from London. “While it may be tempting to say yes to everything, do so at your own pace until you feel more comfortable as your confidence returns.” Also, it’s OK if your comfort level looks different from your friends, significant other, or coworkers. “You’ll probably have different standards or a different ‘normal’ than others,” Goolsarran agreed. “It’s helpful to communicate what you’re comfortable with so that you don’t get stuck in an uncomfortable situation.” Let friends know that you’re sticking to small groups or invite your work friend to meet up at a coffee shop with outdoor seating.


Get into your body

Whether it’s a day at the office or a night out, if you anticipate any uncomfortable feelings coming on, try a ritual that will help you calm down before heading out the door. “Think of something simple that leaves you feeling more confident, like exercise or meditation,” suggested Teri Schroeder, a licensed clinical social worker and co-founder of Just Mind Counseling. “For many people, focusing on the body before a challenging event can help reduce stress and clear the mind.” Dr. Winsberg agreed, explaining that she often recommends her clients try jumping jacks or even singing out loud prior to social situations to loosen up and let out anxious feelings. Sometimes the secret to calming the mind is as simple as putting energy into the body. 


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Start small 

Even if you frequented clubs, concerts, and crowds all the time pre-2020, there are many “muscles” you haven’t worked in over a year. That’s right: Feeling social can be like a muscle and requires work to keep it healthy. “Too much too soon may feel overwhelming right now: start small and try to exercise that social muscle again. Resume social life with your inner circle, and gradually expand outward,” Dr. Winsberg suggested. “It may feel most comfortable to first interact with one or two other people who are vaccinated in an outdoor setting,” Dr. Lippe agreed. “As you begin to acclimate [and the CDC guidelines say so], you can move toward larger groups or indoor environments.” Just like biceps or glutes, it may take some time to warm up that social muscle and to identify what will make it fatigue too quickly. Identify what feels doable and enjoyable, and then limit what might be too much, knowing you’ll work your way there.


Adjust your routines

So you’re still in the habit of sleeping in until two minutes before the workday starts, staying in pajamas, and then eating Postmates for dinner in front of the TV? No shame in your quarantine game, but we can all agree that our routines are very different from the days working out at 7 a.m. or putting on a full OOTD before commuting, and then running errands or heading to happy hour after 5 p.m. (how did we do it all?). If your routines are the same when you were staying at home, of course, any difference will feel overwhelming. Even if you’re not ready to go back to the office or fill up your social calendar, start adjusting your routines.

Roxanne Francis, MSW, RSW, a psychotherapist and owner of Francis Psychotherapy & Consulting Services, recommended structuring your day as if you were going into the office (even if you’re still working from your couch): get up earlier, get dressed as if you were going to work, and treat your WFH space as if it was your actual office (no more empty candy wrappers or dirty dishes). Also, if you’re Zooming with friends after work, put on jeans (pause for shock), take a walk around the block beforehand, or just do a quick makeup routine to start feeling that normalcy come back.


*These tips are meant to be used as inspiration for coping with stress or anxious feelings, not as a treatment for anxiety. Anxiety can feel isolating, but you shouldn’t have to feel as though you’re going through it alone. Please reach out to your doctor, a therapist, or another trusted professional for support.

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or actions, please get help immediately. 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)

Crisis Textline: text CONNECT to 741741


Hitting a Pandemic Wall? These Are the Best Ways to Cope
according to experts.