I was struck by this quote by my friend and Darling contributor Katherine Wolf from her newly released book Hope Heals:

I imagine most of us have fairly straightforward pictures in our heads about what our lives will look like and who we’ll become. When something happens that is not inside the four corners of that picture we view it as a detour and hope to get back on track as quickly as possible. So what happens when you take a detour and can’t ever get back to the original picture?

A Note From The Editor: We’re nearing the end of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week and felt that this personal narrative, though one unique experience, helps to capture a sentiment we hope all women learn to embody just a little bit more: Perfection doesn’t equal satisfaction. Our bodies are miraculous, amazing, strong, and beautiful. Let’s love them as they are, and honor them in all the ways they can be.

One of the little details I love best about my life is that my parents still live in the house I grew up in. My room is practically untouched from the time I was a teenager, photographs and books stacked up on my desk from when I moved home my senior year of college. The box of sand dollars collected on the beaches of San Diego in 1995 are right where I left them, the magazine cut-outs of Broadway performers and Wendell Berry quotes from an early-200s O Magazine issue are still taped up to my walls and cabinet doors. The Beatles poster I got when I was 15 is torn and faded, but it still hangs to the side of my bed as a reminder of my classic rock roots.

My closet is also fairly unchanged.

A Note From The Editor: In Darling Issue No. 10 we announced our 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 sixth in a series of update posts, taking you along and behind-the-scenes for a deeper look at how exactly that is being accomplished. Today we’re reviewing the past year of support with IJM and what they hope to see for the year ahead.

The work of justice would not be possible without people who believe in its worth. At IJM, we’re so grateful for our partnership with Darling Magazine, and for the Darling readers who have been following our updates and walking with us as we collectively seek to bring an end to modern day slavery and human trafficking. Darling’s support of the IJM office in the Dominican Republic—a country where 1 in 10 victims of commercial sexual exploitation are children—has meant freedom and a new life for so many.

We didn’t go in for the first doctor’s visit and sonogram until I was 8 weeks along. We were excited and anxious to get a glimpse of our baby and hear its rapidly beating heart. The tech was silent as she performed the sonogram. We watched the image of the baby on the screen, waiting for her to speak. I finally asked “Is anything wrong?” She said the baby’s heart wasn’t beating and it looked like it had stopped growing a few days before our appointment.

I was blindsided. It was all so surreal. We just went through the motions at that appointment, shocked that the baby that had been making me so sick, that had been pulsing in my tummy, was no longer alive.

No one seeks out insecurity. No one anticipates the idea that tomorrow may not go according to plan. Like it or not, however, life often seems bent on twisting our rigid roads and turning our maps upside down.

Our natural response is to safeguard ourselves with even more tenacity than we did before. Billboards and status updates reinforce our dream of carving a life full of possessions and policies that keep risk at bay and harm at arms length.

And yet the world continues to push back like a pounding wave against our fragile sandcastles. Everything from foreign bombs to personal explosions brings us face to face with the idea that safety is a myth and our pursuit of it is futile.

If that’s true, perhaps there’s another way to respond when crisis creeps into our lives and culture.

My mom says that before my first birthday I was talking in full sentences with most of them ending in question marks. In later years, on the drive to school, my dad would lovingly ask me to take a breath and sit with my questions so he might have time to think about his answer before I peppered him with the next one.

And in college, when I was dating my now-husband, Jay, he almost swore off watching movies with me because of the number of non-stop interrogatories concerning what was happening next and why and where and to whom.

I make no apologies for it. I’m a woman — asking questions is what women do; it’s how we make sense of the world around us. And, quite beautifully, at the heart of this very ordinary action lies a real vulnerability, an invitation to a communal experience of the world as we offer to each other, “I don’t know … but maybe you do?”

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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.