Eyebrows furled, I lay on the massage table as the masseuse was pressing in between my eyes with his thumbs. Relax. Just relax. Over and over again I was commanding myself to relax without any progress. Then, a quiet voice whispered in my head, “let go, and you will go deeper still.”

Until that moment I didn’t realize that my body, not just my brows, was tense and clenched as I was demanding my body to do  relaxation. The invitation I found was to let go, and simply be. With my next exhale I physically and metaphorically let go.

How we show up for one thing is how we show up for everything. We’re constantly putting demands on our bodies to “chill out,” “just relax” or “get over it.”  But, I wonder if there’s something we can learn in untraining ourselves from constantly doing and instead create space for letting go and simply being.

With today’s fast fashion and fleeting trends, it’s not often that we come across modern day style icons who truly wear clothing the way the ones of the past did. Too often our best assets are now flaunted as opposed to embraced. The influence of magazines, in addition to social media, heavily dictates what’s in and out of style more so than ever before.

Interestingly enough, when we look back to previous decades, there was much more creative expression used to push boundaries and develop the most independent, yet classic, of styles.

Here’s to celebrating three women who succeeded in distinct personal style simply by understanding what made them unique and embracing who they knew themselves to be. Having a sense of what looks good on you starts with how you see yourself.

Autumn brings a focus that breathes new life into even the most simple of tasks. As we put away our summer clothes and reach for layers and scarves, we may also prepare for the beginning of the school year, a new job, or a renewed creative vision.

It’s in these moments that we begin to push past fear and embrace the work and creativity our day may bring.

It can be frightening to express ourselves, particularly when we attempt to generate income in the process. In step with the fresh feelings of autumn, maybe refreshing our minds with beautiful words will inspire a clear focus as we go into fall.

A Note From The Editor: In Darling Issue No. 10 we announced a new partnership with International Justice Mission (IJM), specifically partnering with their work to eradicate sex trafficking in the Dominican Republic. We’re excited to introduce the fourth in a series of update posts, taking you along and behind-the-scenes for a deeper look at how exactly that is being accomplished.

In the Dominican Republic, only a handful of convictions for the commercial sexual exploitation of a minor have been handed down in the past decade, but this week a criminal was found guilty of sexually exploiting a teenage girl, marking the first conviction for IJM’s office in the DR.

The following is an update from Jessica Ortiz, IJM Dominican Republic Director of Casework.

In recent years, our society and culture has been embracing a more natural, more realistic form of beauty. This concept is novel in that it is based on a female’s inherent beauty versus overly polished, photo-shopped models. The media is beginning to show real, regular women with all of their wonderful imperfections.

While the idea of beautiful imperfection is new in the western world of advertising, this philosophy is deeply rooted in Japanese culture. So much so, that the Japanese have a name for it. It’s called wabi-sabi.

Today is Women’s Equality Day, a day that commemorates the historical anniversary (August 26, 1920) of women’s suffrage in the United States.

On August 26, 1970, Betty Friedan and the National Organization For Women (NOW) organized a nationwide Women’s Strike for Equality. Fifty years after gaining the right to vote, women had yet to be granted equal opportunities in employment, education, and services such as twenty-four hour child-care centers. Many of these inequalities, unfortunately, still exist to this day.

Women have come a long way since 1920. And while there is still a ways to go, it’s our mission at Darling that women wouldn’t just see themselves as equals, but also individuals. That we wouldn’t just see barriers as obstacles to smash, but minds to engage, converse with and change for the better. Women of the 21st century should be free to express their femininity in a wide variety of forms, all with virtue, authenticity, beauty and love, pursuing justice at every opportunity along the way.

Below we’re sharing how you can do that, too, in 0:50 seconds. Ready to join us?

It seems as though summer in LA is never really in full swing until August …and during the months that follow.

We’re currently smack in the middle of days that sizzle with heat, sitting under skies streaked with radiant, fire-red sunsets. Perhaps that’s why we felt inspired to curate a few items that have similar August-themed tones. Below we’re sharing items in the shades we’re currently loving, even if true shade is hard to come by.

Enjoy!

We know right from wrong. We are aware of what it looks like to make wise decisions. But, what happens when we face adversity in the workplace?

Whether it’s beginning a new job, managing challenging interpersonal dynamics, or navigating a leadership role, each step in your career can present opportunities to act with integrity in order to feel accomplished both personally and professionally.

Though it may be difficult, here are a few thoughts to keep in mind as you progress in your career with integrity.

We’re back again with more helpful, natural health info from Chalkboard Mag. Today they’re sharing what it looks like to rummage in the fridge for more than just food, but healthy, healing ingredients for the outside of your body, too. 

JUST LIKE the food we eat, when it comes to our skin, we like to keep things simple. When we’re buying off the shelves, our motto is “the less ingredients the better.” And when we DIY it up, our step-by-step is usually short-and-sweet (the last thing we want after a long day is to spend hours on what should be self-care!).

Thanks to Deborah at Hello Natural, we’ve found the piece-de-resistance of DIY skin care – or should we say, ten of them. These all-natural, one-ingredient wonders prove that less is more, and use things you probably already have in your pantry or fridge …

What a beautiful morning to wake up
Granted the privilege of putting two feet safe
On green grass, head to the sky, arms open,
Breathing in air laden with dew and inspiration
And the pending promise of a miracle

We search all summer for a version
Of ourselves that went missing
Somewhere between age 2 and today
But I find me in March and memories,
Every Monday and every moonrise

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Although summer is rapidly coming to a close, we seem to find ourselves with no shortage of warm evenings for backyard barbeques.  They’re the perfect excuse to call your friends and keep the easy-going, summertime feelings lingering on well into September. These laid-back and (sometimes) last minute gatherings go best with some refreshing cocktails, especially using — get this — wine!

Here are three quick and easy recipes for you to throw together on these warm afternoons that will have you looking like the master mixologist of your circles.

Femininity exists in a variety of forms, but we think that courageously pursuing a passion and doing so with beauty, grace and confidence is definitely a hallmark.

That’s why we’re so excited to introduce you today to Kelsea Slade, owner and designer of K.slademade. She’s a self-starter who jumped into the entrepreneur arena in 2010 with a desire to create her own line of classic, American-made handbags.

Below we’re sharing her colorful approach to business, life, and staying unique in a digital age, so keep reading to learn more about this Stylist Embodied… and to find out how to win one of her creations for yourself!

A Note From The Editor: While in the past it hasn’t been our policy to promote Kickstarter campaigns on Darling, we’ve been receiving so many amazing and inspiring product pitches that we’ve decided to open the door for submissions and will be selecting one campaign to feature every quarter! If you have an upcoming Kickstarter campaign that you’d like to submit for our fall selection (September – November) please send an email to blog@darlingmagazine.org with “Kickstarter Submission” in the subject line.

A t-shirt company might not sound unique, but when you couple one with a purpose that benefits both the wearer and the maker, we take notice. Uniting that purpose with a deeper sense of social justice and anti-trafficking work, and we can’t help but share The Parative Project. It’s so much more than a t-shirt, and we invite you to watch and discover why below.

A Note From The Editor: On page 82 of Darling Issue No. 12, we announced a call for submissions that tell your story and spark the creative process through word. Over the next month we plan to feature several of these submissions here online. Today we’re excited to reveal our second selection. We think that it’s a piece that’ll encourage you — wherever you work — while also calling you to stand tall in a wild world.

The conference was packed. Once everyone was seated we seemed to collectively reach into our gift bags. My eyebrows knit together as my head tipped to one side, “Why a lion?”

This small, hard plastic toy was meant to be a prompt. Its fierce teeth, menacing eyes, and ready stance were a reminder. It’s a jungle out there!

There is no doubt that social media has made our lives better in a myriad of ways. Thanks to FaceTime, we feel like we’re spending time in person with loved ones who live across the country. We share fun updates on Facebook and Instagram, allowing those in our networks to feel connected to what’s going on in our lives. Social media has advanced the missions of humanitarian causes and small businesses alike, and it has been revolutionary in bringing about change in the United States as well as in countries throughout the world.

Though on the contrary, social media has also become a source of stress, anxiety, and frustration. Increasingly, we’re witnessing society’s social commentary on the subject, watching as TV shows, authors, reality stars, and magazines alike share their irritation with social media and the manner in which it inflames tensions amongst loved ones, creates distractions from work, and generally encourages an environment of disconnectedness (or, at best, of forced connectedness).

Since society itself recognizes that we have a problem with using social media in an entirely positive way, what are we to do? Should we continue our fascination with social media as a form of entertainment, or should we take note of the warning signs and try to root out the potentially harmful implications of our online usage?

Here are some questions to consider as we ponder this issue.

I recently hiked sixteen miles round-trip in the backcountry of Mammoth. Not alone — I’m not that brave — but with my boyfriend. I carried my gear and a thudding heart. I know we’ve all heard these stories before, it’s not that wild anymore, but I still needed to remind myself how little we really need. Because what if this was all there was? Just a heavy pack and hot breath and the crystalized sun. And him, this beautiful person that chose me. I remember thinking:

Why should anything be more than this? A world with me and you.

We sit at desks all day typing with one hand, texting with the other, earbuds in either listening to music or talking on the phone. From all angles we have gadgets, social media, tasks, and people vying for our attention. Our goal is that we would find balance in the chaos, and stay grounded in the midst of hectic lives.

We’re best friends, photographers, and yogis in New York City, and we’ve found that yoga and friendship have helped us do just that: Stay balanced (and have fun while doing so).

This week we’re going to work our way into *headstand.

Travel addicts are dreamers.

We long for the far away, picture ourselves on planes, and love to imagine strange surroundings. That is, until reality sets in and we look out the window only to see the same view we see every single day. For most of us, travel is a luxury we only get to indulge in a few times a year, but it just takes a simple shift of the mind to make the most of home.

I’ve lived abroad a few times, but have recently returned to the UK and Ireland to explore more of my motherland. I set out to see it from the viewpoint of an outsider, and now I wonder why I hadn’t explored it much, much sooner. Below are a few things I’ve learned about how to be a traveler at home.

My great-great-grandmother, Valley Ma, used to make Danish ebleskivers for my grandfather when he was a little one. She lived in Mill Valley, California, where my great-grandfather owned a small ice cream shop. My mother carried on the tradition and makes these delectable ebleskivers on Christmas morning every year.

They’re like little bite-sized pillowy donuts.

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The word “budget” can invoke all sorts of feelings: anxiety, boredom, excitement, or even hopelessness. We have many ways to pay for things — credit cards, checks, PayPal, cash — and endless methods to keep track of it all. Just trying to figure out where to start can be overwhelming.

Below we’ve gathered a list of four of the best and easiest budgeting apps to make managing your finances a breeze.

As we soak in these last weeks of summer, we also bask in golden sunlight, carefree days, and in spending our time with friends and family.

Yet, summer also holds a tradition in addition to endless barbecues and baseball games: It’s Wedding Season. Weddings are beautiful, busy, and if you’ve ever attended one you know what I’m talking about. Watching two people you love make a pledge to live in a covenant with one another is both an honor and a blessing.

For many, a wedding is a time of joy and celebration. But, if you’re a single girl, a wedding can also be filled with a mix of anxiety and depression, compounding all of your fears into an avalanche of self-pity.

Does it ever feel like life goes by so quickly that if you’re not running at its pace, it’ll all pass you by?

It’s all too easy to get in a pattern of going and doing at such a speed that those things we thought to be life passing us by were actually just marks on a checklist and the really true moments, often the most quiet and easy to miss, in fact … have passed.

There is peace and beauty to be found in an ultimate balance of work and play, of thinking and feeling, of activity and rest. It’s what we do in the in-between that helps us maintain a mindful stasis and not become worn out or stale.

With the steady rhythm of honking taxi cabs, chasing subways, weaving in and out of tourists, walking up and down that third floor walkup, running to and from meetings, stress seems inevitable. During the storm of the day, trying to fight for even 30 minutes to work out can seem daunting.

In New York City (or any urban environment) there’s a constant pull that beckons us to run rampant every hour of the day. Is it possible to stay grounded living here, through it all?

We’ve discovered a way to not only stay grounded in the chaos, but to thrive in the midst of it: Friendship and yoga.

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I can still remember standing in line for dinner at summer camp. My best friend and I had just met six other teenage strangers who we would share a cabin with. As our counselor had asked us to do, we’d gone around the circle to share our name and a few details with each other.

Standing in line for salad and lasagna I said rather brazenly, “Oh my gosh, how annoying was that girl sitting next to you!? Ugh. I can tell she wants to be our best friend, but no thanks. Couldn’t they find another cabin for her?”

I laughed, we agreed — and then I turned around.

Sometimes, it’s not until we are feeling ill or uncomfortable that we pay attention to what our bodies might be trying to tell us. When we are truly sick, there’s nothing else we can attend to; our bodies force us to stop, heal, and replenish.

Attentiveness to our bodies — and also to our minds, and hormones, and spirits — can pay wonderful dividends. A health journal is a wonderful tool that helps us track changes in our physical, emotional and spiritual experiences, possibly helping to pinpoint the sources of insomnia, distress, or pain. Additionally, if there is a family history of a particular health issue, journaling can help us to stay on top of genetic tendencies that we want to keep an eye on.

It’s not necessary to journal for all of the following categories, but what follows are ways to stay in tune with your body. Entries can be as short or long as you desire, but consistent entries will yield the most insight.

A Note From The Editor:  We’re so excited to begin sharing content with FabFitFun. Known for their monthly curations of health and beauty products, they also host a wealth of fun reads — ranging from entertainment to wellness — over on their magazine. We thought this article was especially relevant for the wannabe hostess who might be a little too intimidated to cook like a pro. One read-through of the below, however, and you should be well on your way.

Want to become a more romantic cook?  The best way to start is by figuring out all those exotic cooking and consuming terms. We’re here to help you learn the basic culinary terminology you should know when cooking in the kitchen (and when ordering at a restaurant).

Check out our guide below:

Traveling with a dog is rewarding, but it does take work.

In the past, my dog Maya and I have lived in Turkey and traveled from Athens to Prague. As of June 2015, we are traveling through Europe, Asia, Oceanian, South and Central America. As a travel partner, Maya doesn’t whine about where we go, what we see (or what we don’t), or how fast we go. She is content to lie at my feet in a café, sleep next to me in a tent, and walk at my leisure. While there is great deal of effort that goes into traveling with a dog, I prefer Maya’s long-term companionship to a trip by myself.

People have often asked me how complicated it is to travel with a dog. If you are interested in adding your pup to your travel plans, here are a few of the most important things to consider based on my life-learned experiences.

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   This post is brought to you by Target Style. Shop the new Apparel & Accessories collection in stores and online.


The little black dress. The perfect white tee. And a good pair of jeans.

Your wardrobe can’t get any more classic than it does with denim. It’s the fabric that dresses up just as easily as it breaks in, leaving you with an ever-ready outfit choice you don’t have to think twice about.

Maybe that’s why Target recently decided to update their denim line, releasing a brand new collection containing everything from vests and overalls to joggers and jeggings. If those choices overwhelm you (after all, who knew there could be so many different ways to name a pair of jeans?) don’t worry. We had three of our Darling staffers head over to Target and pick up a few of their favorites to style themselves.

Below, we’re sharing their tips for how to take a risk — and have it pay off — with denim.

A Note From The Editor: On page 82 of Darling Issue No. 12, we announced a call for submissions that tell your story and spark the creative process through word. Over the next month we plan to feature several of these submissions here online. Today we’re excited to reveal our very first selection. It’s a piece that simultaneously invites you in while encouraging you to step out and into the stories of those around you. We hope you enjoy.

She went into labor at 41 weeks and 4 days. She was determined not to rush this child, even though the thick, sticky heat of July was wearing on her.

Upon arrival at the hospital, she slipped in to the tub, and her husband pulled out his guitar to strum and sing soft words of encouragement. Labor progressed slowly, but her water broke on its own, and contractions started to intensify. After 12 hours of labor, at 8 cm, she was in so much physical pain, and so mentally exhausted, she asked for an epidural. Every contraction was still strong, but the intensity lessened, so she could actually breathe again. The improved relaxation helped her get to 10 cm, and then her body moved to push. She was delighted, and stared in to her husband’s eyes, already feeling relief.

They were going to make this happen.