Transition: How to Leave a Good Thing Gracefully

A woman with her head down on a diner table

Ever since I was a kid, I longed for adulthood. As a little girl, I politely declined swinging on the monkey bars with the other kindergarteners, opting to converse with the teachers. I played “school” with my dolls, imagining what it would be like to call the shots—to teach instead of being taught. In middle school, I wore blazers and a sleek bob. 

Freedom dangled before me as my older siblings crossed each threshold ahead of me: staying home alone, driver’s licenses, extended curfews. Then, the ultimate mark of adulthood finally came: college. The place where tastes of high school freedom and responsibility tripled overnight. My siblings packed their suitcases and left behind rooms filled with their childhood memorabilia, and I waited, very impatiently, to grow up too.

I waited, very impatiently, to grow up too.

For me, high school was four years of watching the clock, my foot tapping an anticipatory rhythm on the floor, while waiting for the final bell that signaled the start of adulthood. I flipped  through many chapters of my life like I was cramming for a reading quiz—skimming for the big picture that’ll get me to the ending.

Then, college came. I loaded whatever would fit into my mom’s Jeep Wrangler and trekked 22 hours across the country to adulthood. I exhaled and four years raced by.

Throughout each year of college I felt I was becoming someone dramatically differentsomeone who was more  of myself. The freedom and responsibility that once glittered in my dreams was now reality, and it was just as I hoped. For the first time in my life, I allowed myself to love where my feet were planted, to build roots and press into my reality. For the first time in my life, I stopped trying to read ahead to the end of the book. 

For the first time in my life, I stopped trying to read ahead to the end of the book. 

My senior year of college came in the middle of pandemic uncertainty. After a spring semester spent in lockdown and a quarantine summer, fall was a whirlwind of reunions. However, as the calendar days slipped away and the job search began, I was once again confronted with growing up. I’d always welcomed transition eagerly, deeming it a stepping stone to something greater. But when the fall semester ended, a series of lasts began, and I found myself desperately trying to pump the brakes.

I’d spent 22 years wishing away my youth. Why was I now struggling to move on?

It dawned on me that this was the first time that the next season didn’t sound better than what I had at that moment. I was living in what felt like a hundred answered prayers; the idea of leaving was gutting. It felt almost disloyal to move on. Yet, my college expiration date was rapidly approaching.

Whether you’re graduating from high school or college, changing jobs, entering motherhood or marriage, transition is inevitable. I have a lot to learn and ample space for growth, but there are three lessons that have served me well as I have navigated transition.

Grieving a season of life is normal and healthy.

Even if you feel ready for what’s next, moving on means leaving something behind. It is natural for a sense of loss to linger as you transition. Process through the good and bad of the season you’re leaving and allow it to take up proper space as a chapter of your life. Let tears wet your cheeks and friends sit by your side.

If leaving something is hard, it means that it was important to you.

I have said this about every season of my life: gratitude changes things. Instead of being resentful that a monumental season of life is coming to a close, recognize what a privilege it was to experience it. Take time to reflect on how you grew, the relationships you built and celebrate the person you are at the end of it all. 

Instead of being resentful that a monumental season of life is coming to a close, recognize what a privilege it was to experience it.

Choose to see abundance instead of scarcity. 

I have experienced life stages I couldn’t wait to leave and ones I wished would last forever. In both, I struggled with a scarcity mindset where I believed goodness (contentment, excitement, joy and growth) existed only in small increments in specific settings. However, the reality is that it can exist in every season. Trust that a new life stage will bring renewed perspective and unique gifts. They always do.

A lot of my life was spent waiting for the perfect combination of settings, friends and age to create my idea of an “ideal life.” As I reflect on college, I realize it was less about a calculated synergy and more about contentment. I have learned to find a reason to love every seasonto show up both when life seems thrilling and when it feels impossible. To keep counting answered prayers and investing in the people in front of me. I have learned to balance profuse contentment for the here and now with anticipatory excitement for what’s to come.

Here’s to the beautiful reality of a life full of growth. May we have the courage to keep climbing and the wisdom to grab a hand along the way. 

Have you ever grieved a season of life coming to an end? How have you learned to embrace change?

Image via Sarah Kehoe, Darling Issue No. 16

How to Cultivate Emotional Intimacy With Your Spouse

A woman leaning on a guys shoulder as they stand outside against a garage door

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

How to Talk About Finances With Your Significant Other

A woman seated at an office desk

As a couples therapist, it may not surprise you that I see many couples struggling with conversations and disagreements surrounding the topic of money.

It’s a classic fight that couples have, like loading the dishwasher, asking for directions and driving. Money is just one of those things we expect couples to disagree about. However, what may surprise you is the “why.” Why is it that finances can be a difficult topic with your significant other? Once we identify the reason, we can understand more clearly how to talk to our significant other about money in a way that propels the conversation forward positively.

[Money] is a classic fight that couples have, like loading the dishwasher, asking for directions and driving.

Money is a topic that has many layers underneath it. Like the tip of the iceberg, money sits on top and is simply one part of the story—the part that we can see. However, underneath the water, like the base of the iceberg hidden from immediate view, are layers of personal experience, family history, culture, beliefs and values surrounding money.

Money is just one way we express our own history and background. When it comes to the topic of money, we each carry not only our own fears and hopes, but the fears and hopes of those who raised us and those who we grew up with. Money, for each of us, has a story, with lots of voices playing a part. In order to understand how to talk to your significant other about finances, there are few things you must do first.

Money, for each of us, has a story, with lots of voices playing a part.

Understand each other’s “money story.”

I imagine that when you first met your significant other you swapped stories. Maybe even on your first dates, you filled each other in on who you are and where life has taken you. You probably fell in love with your partner as you heard some of these stories. Maybe some of these stories caused you to take pause or maybe some of them were healing to share with each other.

Whatever the case, you probably got to know each other by sharing the stories you each carry. However, even with all this sharing in the early stages of dating, it is unlikely that you shared your “money story” with one another. 

What is your money story? It is all the things you remember and experienced around money growing up in your family and in your larger culture. What were the implicit and explicit rules surrounding money? Were there experiences of being without money that make spending it anxiety provoking?

Was it encouraged that success means making a lot of money? Does that perhaps influence your goals today? Is giving money to those in need a value you were taught? Or were there people around you who spent and lost money irresponsibly which created a fear of doing the same?

[Your money story] is all the things you remember and experienced around money growing up in your family and in your larger culture.

The questions and details of each of your stories will be very unique. Spend some time getting to know and sharing with one another your “money stories.” You will likely marvel at what you never knew and how much more you know your partner afterward.

It’s never just about money.

Remember the iceberg analogy? Well now that you’ve shared your unique stories about money with each other, you may understand more of what goes into each other’s opinions, beliefs, anxieties and hopes about money. Spend some time discussing each of your personal patterns with money.

Is one of you very detailed and never spends a dime not allotted for in a spreadsheet? Does one of you spend more than you make, getting caught up in an emotional moment before crunching the numbers? Think through and discuss these patterns and tension points. Then, connect them to the stories you shared and just learned about the other.

Where does your story influence your decisions? What part of your family history do you want to emulate? What part of your history do you hope not to repeat?

Understand that when you talk or even disagree about money, you are touching on the parts of the iceberg underneath the water. Get curious together about what is impacting each of you as you share.

Understand that when you talk or even disagree about money you are touching on the parts of the iceberg underneath the water.

Prioritize your bond.

If it’s never just about the money, what should be the focus of understanding each other’s stories? One of the emotional questions we are all asking—especially in our most important relationships—is: Can I trust you?

According to the therapy model developed by Dr. Terry Hargraves, we all want to know that we are safe in the world and more specifically, safe with one another. So if your money story holds places of anxiety or a history of worry—or if you or your partner’s behaviors with money cause anxiety for the other—understand it’s still not only about the money.

It is about knowing that you can count on the other person. It is about knowing you will have what you need to feel confident that you will be OK in this world. It’s about knowing that your partner will help this feeling, not threaten it.

It’s still not only about the money. It is about knowing that you can count on the other person.

So as you talk about money, ask each other what you need to feel like you are reasonably secure in the world. Ask each other what behaviors and choices help build confidence in your partner around the topic of money.

Merge your stories: Make a plan that fits you both.


Finally, you are a couple now, not just an individual. You are two stories merged into one. This can feel hard sometimes, but it can also be amazing.

Discuss together which part of each of your stories you want to carry forward in terms of money. Also, figure out which parts you want to do differently and where you hope to veer away from the habits of your parents and those who came before you. Define together what you hope your shared relationship with money will look like. You’re writing a new story together.

What story do you hope those who see you or come after you will learn from the way you interacted with money? What do you want to include, aim for or prioritize as a couple going forward?

Image via Frank Terry, Darling Issue No. 6

Darling Letters: On the Type of Leaders We Choose to Be

A woman seated on a chair with her hands pressed against her mouth

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.

In her novel “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” author J.K. Rowling wrote, “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” 

Recently, on a hectic work day, I was reminded of these powerful words. As my email notifications pinged in the background, my stress levels piqued. Then, the moment happened. Someone on my team asked a question in an email chain about something that I had previously explained in detail, and I reacted instead of responding with patience. 

I reacted instead of responding with patience. 

I sent a quick and snippy, “Per my previous email…” You know that passive aggressive, easy response we send when we safely sit behind the comfort of our computer screens? She responded kindly with the necessary information, and instantly, I felt that little twinge in my heart say, “Oh shoot, I could have done better.”

The ball was in my court. I thought: What type of leader do I want to be? Will I be the person who is quick to apologize and who lifts up my team? Or will I be the prideful leader who is unrelenting and unwilling to show grace?

I knew what I wanted my answer to be. So I sent her a note thanking her for her hard work on the project and apologizing for being short with her in my previous email.

I’ve had my fair share of bad bossesinternship managers in NYC who sent me home crying, nonprofit leaders who micromanaged my every move and retail managers who made me carry all the weight. None of these are the type of leader or person I want to be. I want to roll up my sleeves and work side-by-side with my team. I want to champion them. I want to stay at the table to have the hard but necessary conversations for clarity. 

The measure of our leadership isn’t contingent upon how well we treat our superiors or those who have something to offer us. It’s based on how we treat our team, especially the ones who are a few steps behind us. Let’s roll up our sleeves and be leaders who lead from a place of humility and grace and watch how it transforms the workplace.

The measure of our leadership is based on how we treat our team, especially the ones who are a few steps behind us.

With hope,
Stephanie Taylor, Online Managing Editor

How would you describe your style of leadership? As leaders, how can we help foster healthy workplace culture?

Image via Ben Cope, Darling Issue No. 15

Here I Go Again: How To Stop Self-Sabotaging

A woman looking down as she walks with her hands in her pockets

We all have an image of what our ideal life looks like: successful, purpose-driven, balanced, content. So what’s preventing us from fulfilling that vision?

Well, if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer most likely will be: ourselves. We know what’s good for us and what we need to do to reach our goals, but oftentimes, self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors prevent us from stepping out toward that vision.   

Self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors prevent us from stepping out toward that vision.   

Some forms of self-sabotage are obvious, such as declining opportunities outside of one’s comfort zone or shortchanging relationships. Meanwhile, others are more subtle, such as procrastinating on projects or making little excuses for our shortcomings. 

For me, self-sabotage has recently manifested itself as fear of the future. After experiencing constant change and loss during the pandemic, I’ve been feeling as though I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop. This in turn has prevented me from appreciating all the beautiful blessings and happiness of the present moment and from fulfilling the vision I had for this season. 

According to my friend Britt Van Asbach, a mental health worker based in Wisconsin, the good thing about being able to recognize self-sabotaging in our lives is that it enables us to work to overcome it. No matter what self-sabotaging behavior we’re dealing with, acknowledging the incongruence between our goals and actions is the first step toward breaking the pattern.  

The good thing about being able to recognize self-sabotaging in our lives is that it enables us to work to overcome it.

Once we do acknowledge the issue, there are a few steps that we can take to transform our habits: 

1. Define the root cause.

Perhaps we’re afraid of the expectations other people have of us or we do not dare to dream for fear of being disappointed.  Whatever we might be experiencing, unless we understand what’s driving our self-sabotaging behavior, we’ll never be able to cultivate alternative habits or thought patterns to fill that void. 

Unless we understand what’s driving our self-sabotaging behavior, we’ll never be able to cultivate alternative habits or thought patterns to fill that void. 

2. Get support.

It is also important to not isolate. Find friends and mentors to talk with about your weaknesses, strengths and goals. This will provide you with both accountability and support. 

3. Engage in wellness activities.

It can also be helpful to do activities that switch your thoughts from self-sabotaging behaviors to positive things. This could be as simple as spending time in nature, cuddling a pet, seeing friends or volunteering. 

Last but not least, we must remember who we are. “We must know that even if we fail, our failures don’t define us,” Van Asbach writes. “We can fail at our goals over and over again; what’s important is that we pick ourselves back up and continue striving.”

Do you have any self-sabotaging habits? What emotions compel you toward that habit? How can you confront those feelings head on?

Image via Jack Belli, Darling Issue No. 17

Tips for Succeeding as a Full-Time Freelancer

A man at a table with measuring tape and rulers

The start of my career as a full-time writer, ghostwriter and content creator was unintentional. I was 21 years old when I found myself simultaneously graduating from college and being my grandmother’s primary caretaker.

At the time, I felt like I had the rug pulled out from under me. Up until that point, I’d lived most of my adult life as if both roles were meant to be my future. I saw myself taking my resume and pivoting to a full-time role as a magazine editor, all the while still working to keep my grandma alive and healthy as she continued to grow older. 

A life as a freelancer was never in the plans. Yet, on the heels of a new chapter, it was the only part of my life that made sense. Taking on self-employment full time gave me the opportunity to grieve my grandmother’s loss at my own pace. The flexible schedule made tending to my mental health a possibility. The excitement of being responsible for bringing on new clients and working on projects I loved helped remind me that I had a say on where and how my life unfolded. 

A life as a freelancer was never in the plans.

Now, almost eight years since that first client, it’s easier to know what makes my life as a full-time writer and content creator fulfilling, less stressful and more manageable. Here are a few tips I have found to be helpful for finding success as a full-time freelancer:

Create your “A team.” 

I’ll start with the lesson that I’ve had to learn time and time again: schedule intentional time to workshop or to simply chat with people who are on similar paths. You will never regret having a mastermind group of people who just “get it.”

These people will understand the ins and outs of trying to grow and scale your career. They get the nuances of figuring out contracts or negotiating rates. They get it. They support you, and they help you become better at your craft.

They get it. They support you, and they help you become better at your craft.

Whether you come from a traditional work environment where you were surrounded by coworkers or you have been a solo-preneur since day one, the freelance path can get lonely. Having a built-in support system helps keep you on track. 

Play to your strengths.

The best part about being a full-time freelancer is that you get to cater your work to play to your strengths. This also happens to be one of the hardest parts about being a freelancer. Oftentimes, we’re our own worst enemies and playing to our strengths turns into a hard task because we don’t believe we have any strengths to begin with.

Take some time at the beginning of every quarter (or month, especially at the beginning of your freelance career) to list on paper all your strengths, what you do well and when you work best. This will set you up for success. It will also give you a tangible reminder whenever you’re feeling down because of work. 

The best part about being a full-time freelancer is that you get to cater your work to play to your strengths. 

Build routines and skills.

A big mistake I made early on in my career was to focus solely on building routines. I am constantly working on my morning routine or on setting boundaries at home so that my work time is protected. While those routines have been beneficial and I recommend anyone who is self-employed to dedicate time to building them, it’s also important to pour into your skillset.

A gap is born the minute you go freelance because unlike those who work under a manager and are learning from higher ups, you are now (mostly) working solo. In order to fill that gap, build your skills by attending seminars, listening in on panels or participating in courses. 

Define success for yourself.

When you’re freelance, you choose whether you’ll inherit society’s definition of success or whether you’ll pave your own. Success used to mean solely climbing the corporate ladder. Now, however, it can mean whatever you want it to mean. Lately success for me as a self-employed individual has meant scaling my business so that I don’t have to exchange time for money in a 1:1 transactional way. I set goals based on what makes sense, both for my career and my life. 

Whether you call yourself a freelancer, self-employed, a solo-preneur or a small business owner, we’re all on the same path to pursuing a career that’s meant to wrap around our lives. It’s a good journey to be on!

What tricks or hacks have helped streamline your day-to-day as a freelancer? What advice would you give to someone who is new to self-employment?

Image via Tony Li, Darling Issue No. 17

Why We Should Celebrate Other People and Life’s Small Moments

A smiling woman outside leaning back on a rock with flowers growing next to her

Standing ovations always make me cry.

Without subtlety or reservation, my heart melts at the sight and sound of a crowd rising to their feet as they roar with cheer, shouting as loud as their voices will carry. As the echoes of applause fill the room, no matter the musical, movie or ceremony, a familiar lump forms in my throat. 

I’d love to tell you that my salty tears trickle delicately down my cheek as I lightly pat my eyes with tissue (the kind of classy and composed weep you see actresses do so beautifully on-screen) Yet, if I did, I wouldn’t be painting a true picture of the seriously soppy scene. In a not-so-graceful fashion, my tears spill down my face like milk. My cheeks turn rosy red with emotion, and my voice runs dry from cheering with such vigor.

The crowd isn’t standing for me. In fact, my presence is lost and mostly unknown in the noise of the room. However, all the more, those brief moments of unified joy move a world within me. 

Those brief moments of unified joy move a world within me. 

Perhaps I’m a little too soft. But stay with me while I tell you more.

In the movie “The Holiday,” there’s a scene toward the end of the film where screenwriter Arthur Abbott (who, of course, introduces us to “gumption”—the iconic meet-cute and the “you’re the leading lady of your own life” concept) receives a lifetime achievement award for his contribution to the film industry. 

As elderly and ever-charming Arthur arrives at the ceremony—smartly dressed in his suit—the music plays, and the auditorium doors swing open. Much to his surprise and humble dismay, there’s a sea of people waiting to greet him—clapping, whistling and celebrating. He takes a step forward and walks through the crowd, shaking the hands of his comrades and friends. 

Upon reaching the end of the aisle, he approaches a small set of stairs, which he has to climb in order to reach the stage. All eyes are on him. 

Though offered a helping hand to assist him, Arthur decides to take a leap of faith. Fueled by the praise of his friends and unfazed by his old age, he says, “I’ll do it,” before bounding up the stairs with determination, gumption and a lively spring in his step. 

The camera remains focused on Arthur before panning around the room to show the crowd as they continue their heartfelt applause. Despite his many achievements and accolades, Arthur didn’t believe his life’s work was worth much. Those who loved him, however, fervently showed up to celebrate him—commemorating his triumphs and wins, even when he wasn’t sure if they were due any honor at all.

Those who loved him, however, fervently showed up to celebrate him—commemorating his triumphs and wins, even when he wasn’t sure if they were due any honor at all.

While life isn’t a movie and standing ovations won’t usually play a part in our everyday schedules, there is deep joy to be found in celebrating the brilliance and beauty of those around us. In big and small moments alike, supporting our friends will never grow old.

Like Arthur leaping up the steps to the ceremony stage, encouragement and acclamation can go a long way. With a gentle nudge, a word of kindness, a “you can do this” and a warm smile of support, we can empower those around us to go the extra mile—to reach higher, stretch further, imagine greater and finish stronger. 

Our love and belief in them, consistent and honest, can help shine a spotlight on the goodness and gold they haven’t yet seen in themselves.

There is deep joy to be found in celebrating the brilliance and beauty of those around us.

As human beings, we have been designed to walk through life together. It’s important to remember that the strengths and successes of our friends, family and even strangers do not negate or diminish our own. Our victories still belong to us. But how much sweeter would they be if we shared them with the people near and dear to us?

The pure and sincere celebration of others is a privilege we get to enjoy when we live in community. In fact, sharing in their happiness is one of the richest rewards of a life lived well.

The same light that shines on them as they win the award, overcome the struggle, run the race, achieve the grade, get the job or fulfill the dream, shines on us too. Let us remember this as we stand to our feet in the auditorium, join the chorus and cheer from the very top of our lungs for the ones we love.

How well do you celebrate the victories, big and small, of the people in your world? Why is it important to share in the victories of others?

Image via Koty, Darling Issue No. 24

LeAnn Rimes Leads With Vulnerability in Second Season of ‘Wholly Human’ Podcast

A smiling woman standing on a set with a cameraman behind her

“Real Women, Real Work” is a Darling series about everyday women who work in various fields including business, entertainment, science and education. We want to get to know the WHY behind their WHAT and get an inside look into different industries.

LeAnn Rimes is known for her success as a Grammy-award winning singer, songwriter and actress, but with the launch of the second season of her mental wellness and wholeness podcast, “Wholly Human,” she is now also a leader in the mental health advocacy space.

Following up on the success of the first season of the iHeartRadio podcast, which reached #2 on iTunes Health & Fitness chart and in the Top 35 overall for podcasts worldwide, LeAnn continues to explore the wellness space in the second season of the acclaimed podcast. Ranging from topics such as anxiety, neuroscience, spirituality and the chatter in the mind, LeAnn leads listeners in honest conversations with experts to provide practical tools for their own wellness journeys.

More than ever, LeAnn is dedicated to using her voice and her celebrity to uplift others by removing the shame surrounding mental health. As she celebrates her 25th anniversary as a recording artist, LeAnn will continue her country-wide tour, and in early fall, will release her next studio album, “God’s Work.”

Darling got to sit down with LeAnn to discuss the second season of her podcast, which debuts today, as well as the journey that led to her upcoming album. 

LeAnn, you are a singer, actress, author and now podcast host. When you were a kid, what did you imagine you’d be when you grew up?

As a child, I wanted to perform. I loved to entertain. I loved to sing. I remember when I was little I either wanted to be a singer, psychiatrist or the first female professional softball player. The singing panned out way more than the other things. I remember when I was young telling my mom that I wanted people to know my name. Everybody would know my name no matter where they lived. So I think I’ve done fairly well. 

I’d also say the past year and a half has allowed me to diversify in a lot of ways. There are gifts through this pandemic. It’s allowed me to play in different areas where I didn’t know if I would have the time before. I have been on tour since I was 13.

At the beginning of 2020, I was talking to a friend, and I had all these ideas for a new record and a podcast. All of the sudden, I had plenty of time to create all these things. The pandemic really has allowed me to diversify and play in areas where I wanted to play but perhaps there was fear. This past year and a half has really been about expanding into other places and beautiful crevices of myself that I have not yet explored. It’s been really exciting.

This past year and a half has really been about expanding into other places and beautiful crevices of myself that I have not yet explored. 

You were catapulted into the spotlight at a really young age. At 13, you were a country music star. How did you deal with the pressure?

In one word, denial. Honestly. We just celebrated 25 years since my first single and album. I look back and I recognize how much denial I had to go through in order to continue to do the work that I was doing. It was always about forward movement and not stopping.

During this down time during COVID, I’ve been off the performance train for 16 months. It’s hard to get back on. It’s given me an opportunity to recognize how unhealthy some of my life was. My nervous system has been stunned since I was a child. In 2020, it was really uncomfortable to have so much down time because my nervous system was wound up. It has been eye opening to reflect after 25 years and to recognize the ways in which I had to suppress and deny in order to survive.

A woman wrapping her arms around herself as the wind blows in her hairAs a public figure, people might assume you don’t have struggles with finding your voice, fear or feelings of depression. What have been the biggest stereotypes or assumptions you’ve had to overcome?

I think there’s a big assumptionthat I am not human actually. We have spent many years as a society, not just with celebrities but with ourselves, shoving down our humanity and presenting a one-dimensional version of ourselves to everyone else. I think we are now finally stripping that back and we are being able to meet one another in our full humanity. 

People look at anyone in the spotlight and think they have everything. They ask: Why would they be upset? We always think that having things equals happiness or that it would get you out of some level of pain. On many levels, that is not true. 

Having so many opinions and projections, as a celebrity you really are projected on by thousands and millions of people. I joked the other day with a friend that the fact that I know who the hell I am outside of what people have projected on me is a miracle. I think we are breaking down a lot of stigmas right now.

I am happy to be on the forefront of that and tear down the stereotypes and shame around mental health. I’m honored to allow people to have their experiences fully and not hide parts of themselves.

I am happy to be on the forefront of that and tear down the stereotypes and shame around mental health.

One of your newest projects is your podcast, “Wholly Human with LeAnn Rimes.” Can you tell me a little bit about the backstory of why you started it?

My whole journey has been about collecting fragmentations of myself and bringing them back into wholeness. It’s a bit of a play on being incredibly human and the souls that we are. I wanted to create a place to connect with people on a human level. 

With me being a public figure, people forget that I am human. There have been so many projections upon my story by the media and people. This is another avenue to be even more open about it and share what I am going through and use my celebrity and my name. It’s been about sharing my journey of expanding into a fuller version of myself and taking people along that ride so that they have the opportunity to do the same. 

We are talking about things I never would have thought I would talk about in a million years. People are connecting with it, and that’s been so beautiful. Hearing the stories of how this has helped listeners deepen their own paths has made me really happy because that was my intention.

On the podcast, what are some common roadblocks you’ve found that hinder our wholeness?

One of our biggest roadblocks is our own voice in our heads. The bully that we think is true and isn’t 99 percent of the time.

It’s so common to see all the different ways in which we have survived, all of our survival mechanisms from an early age. We fed off the world around us. From the time we are born until we are 6 or 7 years old, we basically are carbon copies of our environment. It really is about retraining ourselves and our thoughts. Our programming all plays into who we think we are. It’s about unwinding who we think we are and discovering who we really are.

It really is about retraining ourselves and our thoughts…. It’s about unwinding who we think we are and discovering who we really are.

A woman with a sheer top and her hands playing in her hairThe second season of the podcast is releasing today! What can listeners look forward to?

I am definitely more comfortable with the podcast experience and hosting. We deal with everything from anxiety to the chatter of the mind to the space of the heart and love. Every podcast guest this season is so different from experts on neuroscience to spirituality. We really have dug in further this season and bring people some really great information. 

Everyone’s healing journey is so different. The hope is that the podcast is just a guide. We give them some helpful and tangible things to play with. We are all scientists, and we are also science experiments. So we have to play and see what works for us.

You have a new album releasing this fall called “God’s Work.” What inspired this album?

It is really incredible and inspired from a very spiritual place. I look at it as an extension of the chant record I released in 2020 in a lot of ways but in full musical form. 

I speak truth on this record that scares me. It scared me to write. It scared me to perform, and that’s exciting because I know I’m pushing a boundary for myself and probably a lot of people too. I don’t hold back. I am so proud of this album. 

I know I’m pushing a boundary for myself and probably a lot of people too.

I hope that it helps support people in their awakening. I am creating music to support the awakening and the moment of time that we are in. It’s been a really exciting album to make. 

How would you describe the sound? How is it unique from previous albums?

I like to call it “World-acana” because it has an Americana vibe, but it has a lot of world groups. I love rhythm. There’s something about rhythm that moves me. Drums move me. So we started off playing with rhythms and kind of built it out from there. 

I feel like every album of mine is so different. I have always been one to play. I love music and creating it. There’s a real message that I’m sending with this album. I think that it’s a call to action for a lot of people, a wake up call. It’s been a world expression that I feel called to include.

If you had to pick, what would be your favorite song on the album? What about a close second?

Now that’s like choosing your favorite child. There’s a song called “The Wild” that probably is my favorite song on the record so far. It’s my favorite expression of something new of mine.  It scared the shit out of me when I wrote it. What came out was so true, honest and raw.

There were five incarnations of this song. Even when I went in to cut a scratch vocal, I felt like it wasn’t right. So I sent everyone out of the room, and I ended up finding this really cool hook to the song. I felt like I really let out the wild in me. Then, I knew that the song was complete, but it felt like serious birth pains. I felt like I was birthing a truth for myself and so many women when I recorded the song. I am really proud of that song and how I trusted the process.  

What advice would you give the young woman struggling to find her voice or perhaps who feels stuck?

Trusting the process is so important. Know that where you are is not where you will end up. It’s not the end. It’s just a momentary stop on your journey. 

The more we resist the thing that is showing up for us in the moment, the longer it persists. When we let things in, we become free because we give ourselves and that moment of our lives space to fully express themselves.

The feelings of being stuck are only momentary. Trust your heart and listen to what you feel. I don’t think there’s a wrong answer. We are here to learn. It’s all about the journey.

Know that where you are is not where you will end up. It’s not the end. It’s just a momentary stop on your journey. 

Knowing what you know now, what words of wisdom would you give to your younger self?

Keep a sense of self. I don’t even know if I had a sense of self back then. I think I did have one but then opinions, projections and that programming gets put on us from the outside world. Trust yourself. I don’t think anyone knows better than you.

To keep up to date with LeAnn, follow her on Instagram and listen to the second season of her podcast “Wholly Human.” To find out more, visit her website.

Images via Norman Seeff

Fashion Through the Decades: How 1940s Fashion Inspires My Style

A woman with a structured jacket and collared shirt posing

Drawn to 1940s style, I can’t help but agree with the motto: Vintage style, but not vintage values.

Due to World War II, designers were forced to stop making new styles from 1939 to 1945. This created a strikingly different fashion aesthetic from the beginning of the decade to the end. The government set limits on how much material a woman could purchase. Thus, women needed to get creative with their wardrobe selections.

Hence, the 1940s was known for its seemingly classic style, simple designs and clean lines. Trends could be thrown out the window in favor of versatile pieces that could be worn from season to season. Perhaps this is where the idea for the capsule wardrobe originated.

The 1940s was known for its seemingly classic style, simple designs and clean lines.

Many of us, whether we realize it or not, have been influenced by 1940s fashion. It can definitely be regarded as the start of our modern-day interest in stylish minimalism. Pieces that once gained popularity in the mid-20th century currently sit in our closets, no time travel required.

Here are some of my favorite style inspiration ideas from the 1940s:

Hair Scarfs

Seen perhaps most recognizably on Rosie the Riveter, hair scarfs were a practical way for a woman of the 1940s to keep her hair out of the way during WWII. Women of the time rolled up their sleeves and went to work outside the home for the first time. They took on essential roles in factories left behind by men who had to enlist in the military.

Patterned scarfs are a go-to accessory in my own wardrobe. I first picked up a few while thrift shopping for a feminine, yet vintage flair item. An easy, go-to scarf style can be as simple as a top-knot with a scarf wrapped around the head. It’s a perfect hack for when I run out of dry shampoo.

Pencil Skirts

In the 1940s, designers raised hemlines for the sake of fabric shortages. Also, pencil skirts that were trimmed close to the body came into fashion. Women’s fashion maintained a feminine shape, while still allowing for pieces that were practical enough for everyday wear.

Women’s fashion maintained a feminine shape, while still allowing for pieces that were practical enough for everyday wear.

In 2021, we don’t wear pencil skirts on a daily basis. However, they are still the perfect piece for a professional look with a blouse tucked in to further show off one’s shape for a “femme-fatale” look.

The Classic Dress

Perfect for the summer months, a common look that women in the 1940s wore was the iconic, yet simple, floral dress. During a period when clothes were transitioning to more practical designs, women still wanted to get dolled-up on occasion, especially toward the end of the decade as feminine styles reigned supreme once again.

An easy find today, a light and airy classic knee-length dress is still a staple in my wardrobe. A faultless and versatile fashion staple to throw on, one can dress the look up for a glamorous night out on the town or down for a casual day out at the park.

A simple dress with a good structure is the first article of clothing that drew me to 1940s fashion. It inspired me to become more in tune with my femininity and strength like the women in that time did so eloquently.

What fashion trends do you appreciate from the 1940s? What time period influences your style the most?

Image via Chris and Sarah Rhoads of We Are the Rhoads, Darling Issue No. 7