How to Analyze, Tear Down and Rationalize the False Narratives We Believe

A black and white photo of a woman standing near the ocean with her hair blowing in the wind

Every word and sentence that people say about themselves tells an enduring and more consistent story of how they perceive and experience life. For example, if someone refers to others as “stupid” and then utters painful stories where they expose ideas of their own worthlessness, it begins to shape a narrative of the way that person suffers.

This person may see things in a depressed light. He or she may believe that life only deals a poor hand of cards, that nothing good could be dealt and that life is meaningless. However, such statements begin to shape a pattern of one’s reality, whether the person is aware of it or not. 

A key to transformation begins with perception. Perception uses the faculties of the senses to come into awareness of something and construct a lived reality. To varying degrees, we perceive every moment to help us understand and function within the world we live in. We typically perceive things without being conscious of how sensory information is interpreted and organized through our nervous systems. Instead, we go about experiencing life, sensing and feeling our way through.

We perceive every moment to help us understand and function within the world we live in.

Perception helps form the realities we experience. One experience after another begins to build the narrative of our lives just like a story with a beginning, middle and end. Words tell a story of what one perceives. Oftentimes, people are unaware that how they speak about experiences helps organize the mental framework of their personal narrative.

If I were to tell a story about how everything went wrong, then it could be a stand-alone story of bad luck. If I told similar stories every day, then that could become an enduring tale of personal defeat and disappointment, expressed in my daily life.

How do we become conscious of the narratives that we may be writing? Long-term psychotherapeutic work suggests that when we become more conscious of false narratives, we ultimately transform them.

When we become more conscious of false narratives, ultimately we transform them. 

Here are some points to consider for self-reflection:

Reflect on what you call in. 

Perception teaches us that, while we may not be conscious of it every moment, it can help us reflect on how to attract the best possible experience and create the highest quality outcome. This may mean sensing that good things will happen as opposed to the worst.

This could mean intentionally reflecting on and drawing in positive emotions, thoughts, images and energy to help serve the day and fortify a more resilient life narrative for the long-term. This is a daily and even a moment-to-moment reflection.

Listen to the pattern.

Each person has a pattern of internal communication based on word choice and tone, which frames the narrative of one’s life. The way to identify your patterns is to listen to yourself without judgment. 

For one day, listen to the words you use to describe yourself, others and the world around you. How would you describe your language and tone? For example, perhaps you notice that your language is quite defeatist or maybe your tone represents a positive narrative of faith and perseverance.

Do this exercise over multiple days and see if there is a pattern you see emerging. Try to be open to what is and refrain from self-critique.  

Listen to yourself without judgment. 

Reframe the pattern by taking responsibility.

People can attempt to revise the pattern by taking responsibility for their portion of healing. For this exercise, focus on a particular event that recently occurred that was charged for whatever reason. 

How would you describe what happened in two sentences? Take a step back and consider that there may be multiple sides to the story. While you may feel connected to your side of the story, see if you can hold onto it less nd observe things from another perspective. The other perspective may not always feel good to think about.  

Now imagine that you are an author attempting to write the story in a balanced way to present a perspective for greater healing. Would you see the experience in the same way, an alternative way, a mishmash of both or something else?

You are the author of your narrative.

False narratives rely on experiences happening to you without you happening to them. People may perceive things happening to them without their intended participation. In many cases, but certainly not all, you may have a role to play, which could be quite empowering.  

Through the everyday choices you make, you are the author of your life. This is an invitation to step into that experience. You have the right, the ability and the wisdom to take any experience and “write it” in a way that empowers you.

You have the right, the ability and the wisdom to take any experience and “write it” in a way that empowers you.

If you did not get the job you wanted, change the narrative to not a “job lost” but “a future opportunity gained.” If a relationship ends, then rewrite the narrative from “a bitter ending” to “two consenting individuals doing their best with disattaching.” Your version will be better because it is yours, and it will be authentic to you.

Take a moment. Call in a false narrative, perceive it in the light of day as opposed to the shadow of the night. Reframe the words and tone. Write it in your own way. Sign your name under it and make it the new signature of your life: one of truth, empowerment and wisdom.

Have you ever made assumptions about other people or written a false narrative in your head? What power have you found in reframing your thoughts?

Image via Navarro Aydemir, Darling Issue No. 17

How Returning to Play Shaped My Relationship With My Father

A close up of a baseball on an empty field

My dad and I started playing catch a decade ago, and it changed our entire relationship. To be honest, I’m not sure how it all began. It just happened. Like most life-changing habits, it started as nothing special and, slowly, became something meaningful. 

A decade ago, we had a hard time sometimes even being around each other. In my early 20s, I found myself constantly bucking against his advice. Our conversations quickly turned to disagreements, then into polarizing fights and eventually to silence.

For a while, we didn’t speak. I found other father figures who fed my desire for affirmation. Meanwhile, I was ignoring my own father’s attempt to reconcile—partially because I was being selfish but also because I didn’t know how to communicate with my dad. I didn’t know how to relate to him. Instead of seeing who he was, I was too focused on who I wanted him to be. 

Instead of seeing who he was, I was too focused on who I wanted him to be. 

Unless it was raining or snowing, we’d usually meet in Kirkwood Park to play. He’d bring the gloves and baseball from his trunk while juggling his keys and wallet. We’d settle into a grassy patch, put on our gloves and start throwing the ball. Then, we’d talk. 

That’s where it started. 

There’s something about the rhythm of playing catch that allows for good conversation. For starters, your focus is on the other person. You can’t be on your phone or looking elsewhere, unless you want to get a black eye. You’ve got to wait for the other person to be ready to receive the ball, and you have to throw it so they can catch it. 

After years of struggling, it felt like we could play catch and talk for hours. Sometimes, we’d share and lend advice. Sometimes, we’d fight and have a short game. However, over time, no matter what, we just kept returning to the field. 

No matter what, we just kept returning to the field. 

On the morning of my wedding day, we played catch and I bought him a baseball as a gift. He mentioned this in the closing of his father-of-the-bride speech that night. Microphone in hand and tears in his eyes, he looked at my husband and said, ”Son, I’m tossing you the ball.” 

Commitment has been a theme for me so far this year. As I reflect on the last decade, I can see how committing to a simple game of catch led to a recommitment in our relationship. Playing catch was also the catalyst to a million other inside jokes, hugs, tears and late night phone calls. However, I can attest to the fact that a simple act in a relationship can make a huge difference 10 years down the road. 

I’m so thankful for the time I’ve shared with my dad—getting to know him and letting him get to know me. I can honestly say that I’m a better person because of how he loves. Of course, we’re still human, and we have our road bumps along the way.

In the end, I believe it’s our commitment to growing together that truly matters. In a few weeks, I’m visiting my family back home and you can bet I’m packing my baseball glove. 

Dedicated to my father, thank you for all you do. Happy Father’s Day, I love you.

Image via Today I Found Out

6 Amazon Beauty Brands You Need To Try

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.

Source: @knoursbeauty

Unless you’re living in a beauty product desert, you’ve most likely heard of all the major players in the beauty industry: Fenty Beauty, MAC, Colourpop, NARS, Neutrogena, Pantene. You know them, and you’ve probably tried them. But as these brands gain popularity, we sometimes forget about all the brands hiding in the shadows, and there are quite a few hiding in the depths of the Internet. Namely, the Amazon beauty section is quite full and possibly contains a slew of brands you’ve never even heard of—but definitely need to try.


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Our editors sifted through the massive beauty archives on Amazon to find the best brands lurking in the shadows, and there are so many products we immediately added to our wishlists. Here’s what you need to try next:


1. Belei by Amazon

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Released in spring 2019, Amazon’s dedicated skincare line largely flew under the radar, but its product assortment was enough to get our editors excited even two years later. Everything in this line has near five-star reviews, and everything is under $30.


Triple-Peptide Under Eye Cream

This has a tri-peptide blend, caffeine, and hyaluronic acid to plump up the area under your eyes and reduce fine lines over time. It also dries to a semi-matte finish, so it’s ideal for wearing under makeup.

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Charcoal Balancing Mask

A charcoal mask is a necessity in every person’s skincare collection, especially if you get the occasional pimple (and who doesn’t?). This one contains tons of aloe to balance out the typically irritating kaolin clay, along with glycerin and beeswax. If charcoal/clay masks usually make your skin feel tight and dry AF, try this one instead.

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Retinol Vitamin A Refining Moisturizer

If adding retinol to your routine feels a little overwhelming, opting for a moisturizer with it as an active ingredient might be the perfect solution. Retinol can be drying and sensitizing, but when combined with a moisturizing formula with hyaluronic acid and squalene, you likely won’t experience the negative parts while still getting the amazing resurfacing benefits of retinol.

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2. Knours

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This one is hard to find on Amazon if you don’t know what you’re looking for because search results might just give you Knorr Pasta Sides. But when you finally come across it, it’s a total gem. Knours is focused on women getting to know their skin once and for all and finally taking control of its hormonal changes and fluctuations. The line is filled with products that specifically target the three hormonal changes women experience: menstruation, maternity, and menopause, resulting in clean, effective, and gentle skincare anyone can use.


Gentle Deep Makeup Remover Face Wash

This cleansing oil contains five different botanical oils (including some of our skincare faves like jojoba and cannabis sativa seed) to remove makeup, dirt, and excess oil from your skin without drying it out. When mixed with a little water, this becomes a milky cleanser that removes makeup easily and leaves no residue.

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Face Mist with Aloe Vera and Jojoba Oil

A face mist is one of the most underrated skincare essentials. Use it to rehydrate your skin, help skincare products apply and adhere better, and refresh after a long day—the uses go on. This one knocks it out of the park as a toner and mist and contains soothing and moisturizing ingredients like aloe and jojoba oil.

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3. Tree of Life Beauty

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This is one of the most reviewed and loved skincare brands on Amazon, but it still doesn’t have the cult-following like other brands you’d find in Target or Sephora. Admittedly, their tagline “Flawless. Younger. Perfect.” is a little outdated, but the products are all extremely budget-friendly and seriously work.

Tree of Life

Anti-Aging Face Cream

If anti-aging is your skincare goal, matrixyl 3000 is a must-know ingredient. It’s an anti-aging peptide that’s powerful in stimulating collagen production in the skin, which plumps up existing fine lines and wrinkles while preventing them over time. This matrixyl moisturizer gives your skin a dewy look without looking too oily, but the real magic is how it improves your skin’s elasticity over time.

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Tree of Life

Anti Aging Vitamin C Facial Serum

Clocking in at under $15, this serum contains a blend of vitamin C and E to brighten skin tone and add a natural, dewy glow. If you’re new to vitamin C, this is a solid starter.

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Tree of Life

Anti-Aging Serum

This is one of the most popular retinol serums on Amazon with over 20,000 reviews and for good reason.

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4. Shaina B. Miami

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Shaina B. is inspired by the vibrant and busy streets of Miami and is focused on showing people how they can be their most authentic, confident selves. The line contains brushes, eyeshadows, face palettes, and more to help you create fun, beautiful looks. 

Shaina B. Miami

7-Pc Makeup Brush Travel Kit

This is a travel kit of makeup brushes, but don’t be fooled—these are full-sized brushes, so they’ll round out any makeup brush collection. They’re soft and well-made, and this set contains pretty much everything you’d need for a trip away (or even just at home).

Shop it now

Shaina B. Miami

Eye Shadow Palette

Buying makeup (especially eyeshadow) on Amazon is a little intimidating because you never really know what quality you’re going to get. But you can trust these shadows to be the perfect mix of pigmented and blendable. This neutral palette has a mix of mattes and shimmers that has a space in both the novice and experienced eyeshadow wearer’s collection.

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5. Nuxe

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Nuxe is an amazing French beauty brand, so being able to easily order them on Amazon is a game-changer. They’re known for their classic French beauty products as well as their famed oil (which has the most amazing summer scent ever).


Multi-Purpose Dry Oil

The oil that started it all, the Nuxe Oil has a cult-following for its gorgeous finish (it’s not too oily or sticky but still gives your skin a glow) and its phenomenal scent. It’s the perfect summer vacation scent, best described as a floral vanilla. You can use this on your hair, body, as a perfume oil, and even on your face because the ingredients are so mild—heck, some even call this the French beauty secret!

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Scented Shower Oil

Say goodbye to drying body washes now that this is in your life. A cleansing body oil is the secret to soft, supple skin that still gets that oh-so-clean feel. This has that same Nuxe oil scent, but when mixed with a little water, it turns into a foaming wash, leaving skin super smooth, hydrated, and lightly fragranced.

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6. Fatboy Hair

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Developed by two members of Grammy-nominated international band Steriogram, Fatboy started after the rockstars couldn’t find products that kept their hair in place on stage. So they made their own hair putty, and once the band went on hiatus, Fatboy became their full-time gig. The brand has expanded into a full line of products that combine hold with movement and body, and it’s sold at salons all throughout the country.

Fatboy Hair

Tacky Oil – Protective Spray

This hair oil is a first of its kind, containing a finish that mimics a sticky foundation primer. It gives your hair lots of extra hold all day long and tons of shine, bounce, and movement. With jojoba, castor, and argan oils as well as aloe, it’s also nourishing and conditioning on the hair.

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Fatboy Hair

Defining Finish Flexible Hold Hairspray

A flexible hold hairspray can go very wrong, but this one gets it all right. It gives your hair enough hold to maintain your style all day, but it still allows for a lot of movement that makes any hairstyle look natural. It’s also humidity-resistant, so if your hair usually freaks out when humidity strikes but a crunchy hairspray just isn’t your style, you’ve found your match.

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Fatboy Hair

Sea Salt Pomade

The perfect beachy waves can be made a reality with this pomade. That matte, bouncy texture you crave can often make your hair look dry and dull, but not with this. Instead, it adds that shape while still keeping the hair moisturized. It’s the texture of a sea salt spray with the extra hold of a pomade and the moisture of a hair cream—what more could you ask for?

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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

Fashion to Figure: Our New Favorite Plus-Size Brand

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.

By now, we’ve established that shopping for plus-size clothes is no easy feat. Whether it’s because pieces are ill-fitting or just not cute, it’s hard to find a brand that nails it time and time again—but I’m here to announce that I’ve finally found one: Fashion to Figure.


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I met Fashion to Figure when I was about 19 years old. Truthfully, I was looking for summer internships for my freshman year summer, and they popped up in my research. I was ecstatic at the idea of interning for a company that focused on plus-size women and had fashion that didn’t make them look frumpy, age them up unnecessarily, or only put them in floral patterns. (I didn’t get the internship, but I did get a lot of cute clothes in one of their sales! How’s that for looking on the bright side?).

Fast forward: Here I am, years later, as an avid fan of this brand. They don’t know, but I’ve been watching them grow and get better and better every year—so much so that I just can’t keep quiet any longer. Here’s why I love them:

  • Their size 0 is an XL
  • They have everything from clothes to swimwear to shoes
  • They regularly collab with my favorite plus-size influencers
  • Their styles are constantly evolving and always on trend

Have I convinced you yet? If not, check out some of the pieces I have my eye on:  

Pro tip: If you like something you see, buy it now! Their cutest items tend to sell out quickly! 


Fashion to Figure

La’Tecia Thomas Floral Midi Dress

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Fashion to Figure

Asymmetrical Hem Top

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Fashion to Figure

Tropical Print Tie Front Top

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Fashion to Figure

Tropical Print Joggers

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Fashion to Figure

Drawstring Peplum Tank

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Fashion to Figure

Strapless Handkerchief Top

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Fashion to Figure

Off-Shoulder Jumpsuit

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Fashion to Figure

Harem Jumper

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Fashion to Figure

Lace Hemmed Satin Blouse

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Fashion to Figure

Halter Maxi Dress

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Fashion to Figure

Leopard Print Puff Sleeve Top

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Fashion to Figure

Drawstring Top

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Fashion to Figure

Wide Leg Pants

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Fashion to Figure

Double Drawstring Shirt

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Fashion to Figure

Light Wash Jeans

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Fashion to Figure

Ruched Faux Leather Skirt

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Fashion to Figure

Double Tie Front Dress

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Fashion to Figure

Sleeveless Mini Dress

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How to Deal With ‘Playground Bullies’ Who Are All Grown Up

Three posh women crossing a New York Street as they look over their shoulders and back at the camera

I remember the shock when I heard my son had been shoved against the concrete wall in the school hallway. I can feel the tension in my chest now as I picture him in that hall. A teacher nearby swooped in and grabbed the bully. My son, shaken and injured, seemed to be able to work through it well, in part, because the boy got caught. 

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the reality with kids, and definitely not with adults. In the hallways and on the metaphorical playground of adulthood, bullies far too often go unnamed and unchecked. Adult bullies don’t play by the rules, and there is no teacher to yank them to the principal’s office.

Adult bullies don’t play by the rules, and there is no teacher to yank them to the principal’s office.

When we were children, we may have been told that bullies would grow out of their bullying ways, but that expectation can be misleading. Adults can be bullies too. But just like in childhood, the more they are named and exposed, the less power they have.

Bullies don’t grow up necessarily. They can simply just change form. Things are often more obvious on the playground when you are a child. However, as adults, things are often much more confusing, and the bullying is much more complex. It is not always obvious, at least at first, who the bullies are.

A person you thought was a friend or at least hoped would be, may turn on you. Sometimes, bullies are even nice to everyone except you. Bullying can be done in a nice tone and by “nice people.” Nothing is as pronounced in adulthood as it was when we are kids so we have to know what to look for.

Bullying can be done in a nice tone and by “nice people.”

As a therapist, I often tell my clients to trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, then it isn’t. Trust yourself, and don’t get hung up on labels. People will debate whether or not something is truly bullying, but that matters infinitely less than you recognizing that something feels wrong and acting accordingly. 

Bullying can look like repeated insults by a colleague at work or like a manager abusing power. Bullying can look like a boyfriend mocking and belittling his girlfriend. Bullying can look like harassing someone online. Bullying can come in the form of insensitive remarks. Bullying can look like refusing to open your social circle to allow someone in. Bullying can also look like mocking someone’s vulnerability. 

More than anything, bullying thrives in isolation. Because when victims are isolated, in a relationship or situation, they are much more likely to doubt themselves and to feel powerless.

Bullying thrives in isolation.

When I was in graduate school for counseling, I sat across from my favorite professor in his tiny office. He had a big beard and grey hair, and the wisdom to match. I wrung my hands and described to him in tears how one of my childhood friends (whose behavior I would now identify as bullying), whom I had not seen in years, had sent me the most hate-filled letter I had ever received.

I anxiously asked him how I should respond. He looked at me with compassion and said simply: “You don’t have to respond.” Refusing to engage with this bully was response enough.

Not all situations are so simple. Adult bullies have illegitimate power that has been stolen. Their strength is illegitimate strength. Just like a parasitic plant, they steal life. 

Adult bullies have illegitimate power that has been stolen. Their strength is illegitimate strength.

The difference in adulthood bullying is that no one else is coming. We are the teachers now—yanking the bully to the principal’s office in our own lives and in the lives of each other. As adults, we must learn to know our power and stand together. Our playground is more complex now, but the same wisdom we would tell kids holds true for us now. 

Tell someone.

If you were to do research about bullying, one of the first recommendations you’ll find is to tell someone. Since bullying can include confusing nuances, a witness to the behavior helps the person being bullied stop doubting their own experience. This also helps shine a light on what is happening.

Expose them.

Bullies can’t live in full exposure. They thrive in anonymity, secrecy and a lack of accountability. Too often, bullies are left unchecked. Learn to expose bullies. Naming them and naming the behavior is imperative.

Bullies can’t live in full exposure. They thrive in anonymity, secrecy and a lack of accountability.

Refuse them.

Refuse to engage with them or actively push back. Either way, remember a bully’s power is illegitimate, and taking that power back is an important step.

Get help; gather together.

In childhood, this may look like your friends backing you up on the playground. However, in adulthood it looks like gathering people, aka your best friend, someone in HR or your faith community. A person who is being bullied needs other people to create a swell of support to push back. Fight back in numbers. Ask for help, and offer that same help for others.

Recently, I sat with a friend as we read out loud the thinly veiled racist responses to her social media post. The comments were uninvited and slimy. I felt the tension in my chest again as we read. I sat with her as she read what another friend of ours said, with her permission, in order to push back on the commenters. My friend pushed back on them, and I did too. We actively refused them together.

Don’t be a bystander; we need each other.

If we witness bullying, it is important to refuse to tolerate it, refuse to look away and refuse to be inactive. I wonder what would happen if all the smaller occurrences of bullying that grow into larger issues were not tolerated. Bullying is a gateway for all kinds of hatred. It is our responsibility not to be complicit by looking away.

Bullying is a gateway for all kinds of hatred. It is our responsibility not to be complicit by looking away.

We are no longer children. There is no teacher coming, and things aren’t always so clear. However, bullies cannot continue when their behavior is exposed, when the truth is told and when we gather together against them.

We are the ones monitoring the hallways now.

Have you ever encountered an adult version of a bully? How have you learned to speak up for yourself and others in the face of bullying?

Image via Aki Akiwumi, Darling Issue No. 20

How to Celebrate When You Are Feeling the Birthday Blues 

A closeup photo of an ice cream cone swirl

At the beginning of the pandemic, two weeks after much of the world shut down, I celebrated my 22 birthday at home with my family. My mom cooked my favorite meal. We played a board game at the kitchen table. In the evening, we went for a walk around our neighborhood like many other families desperate for a breath of fresh air.

Throughout the day, I fought against feelings of sadness and loneliness. Even though it was my birthday.

Perhaps you also experienced a subdued birthday celebration this year and find yourself relating to that strange melancholy emotion that accompanies a quiet birthday. Although a low-key celebration is a small sacrifice to make in the midst of a pandemic, the “birthday blues” deserves our attention nevertheless. The urge to seek out life and joy in the midst of hard times is a part of what makes us human.

The urge to seek out life and joy in the midst of hard times is a part of what makes us human.

There are also many other circumstances that can impact how we feel about our birthdays. Perhaps by the stage of life you are in, you assumed that a relationship, a stable career or a family would be within your reach. Maybe your birthday falls near a big holiday, like Christmas, and it causes you to feel overlooked each year. Perhaps, you are feeling lonely or like you do not have a community to celebrate your birthday with.

In the midst of an uncertain, life-altering year, the quietness and simplicity of my birthday seemed to teach me more about the years behind and the years ahead than a big birthday bash surrounded by friends and loud music ever could. 

Here are a few of the things I discovered about the feelings of “the birthday blues:”

Lean into loved ones.

Oftentimes, my instincts tell me to isolate whenever I feel hurt or frustrated. Opening up to a close friend or family member might be the last thing you want to do when feeling down on your birthday. However, just as we came into this world through and beside other people, we also walk through our lives in community. 

The pandemic has certainly allowed me to hone in on my tribe—the people I love and experience life with on a daily basis. This year, I discovered the sweetness in celebrating my birthday with only the people closest to me. I learned to focus on quality over quantity—large groups, extravagant celebrations and shiny Instagram posts.

I learned to focus on quality over quantity—large groups, extravagant celebration and shiny Instagram posts.

Whether an hour-long Facetime call with friends far away or an intimate dinner with a few family members, one remedy to the birthday blues might be enhancing the time and space we spend with loved ones on our birthdays.

Reflect on the past year.   

Our birthdays often come and go without us giving much thought to how this year fits in with the rest of our lives. Devote some time on or around your birthday to acknowledge the highs, the lows and everything in between from the past year. Write about it in a journal, discuss it with a friend or think it over on a long walk.

Some prompts to consider are: What were some of my favorite moments from the past year? What were some of the hardest moments? What, if anything, would I like to change about this year? What are my dreams for this upcoming year?

Thoughtfully consider any texts, letters or kind words. For many of us, receiving an onslaught of “Happy birthday!” texts can feel like the mark of birthday success. In the age of social media likes and comments, it can be tempting to measure our worth based on the number of birthday texts or social media comments we receive.

It can be tempting to measure our worth based on the number of birthday texts or social media comments we receive.

One way to push back on this is to spend time reflecting on and responding to birthday texts, notes and social media shout-outs. If you tend to skim the card from your great aunt who you only see once every five years, then this year take some time to appreciate it. You might be surprised at how meaningful you find her words to be when you take the time to really consider them. 

Be kind to yourself.

Here is the bottom line: your life is worth celebrating. No missed milestone in life or forgotten birthday wish should tell you otherwise.

The birthday blues might be here today, but it lacks the power to define the other 364 days in the year. Another year is ahead of you—a year to fall and get up again, a year to laugh and cry, a year to discover more and more about this messy thing we call life.

This day is just the beginning.

Have you ever experienced the birthday blues? How can we choose joy and gratitude on our birthdays?

Image via Dana Hursey, Darling Issue No. 15

15 Easy Recipes to Bring to Your BBQ

Source: Easy Peazy Mealz

This weekend, we’re ready to relax with our favorite drink in hand and celebrate America in the best way possible—with a classic BBQ. Whether this idea gives you anxiety or makes you want to frantically call your mom for help (because she actually has the solution to everything), take a look at our collection of fun and easy BBQ recipes. Cheers!


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1. Grilled Corn on the Cob

Source: Foodie Crush



2. Tomato Avocado Salad

Source: Gimme Delicious Food



3. Fruit and Cream Cheese Sandwiches

Source: Family Food on the Table



4.  Peach Salsa

Source: Two Peas & Their Pod


5. Raspberry Chipotle BBQ Ribs

Source: The Foodie Crush



6. Cauliflower Mac N’ Chicken Casserole

Source: Fit Foodie Finds



7. Summer Strawberry Spinach Salad With Avocado

Source: Ambitious Kitchen


8. Blackened Salmon Burgers with Herbed Cream Cheese

Source: Half Baked Harvest



9. Italian Antipasto Tortellini Pasta Salad

Source: My Food Story



10. Korean Chicken Kabobs

Source: Chungah Rhee | Damn Delicious


11. Jalapeño Popper Cornbread Muffins

Source: Sweet Peas and Saffron



12. Campfire Cones

Source: Eazy Peazy Mealz



13. Honey Butter Stone Fruit and Blackberry Meringue Tart

Source: Half Baked Harvest



14. S’more Rice Krispies

Source: What’s Gaby Cooking


15. Minty Strawberry Coconut Molk Popsicles

Source: Foolproof Living



Darling Letters: The Freedom Found in Embracing the Grey

A gray image of an ocean shore

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.

Four summers ago, a friend and I sat on a dock, staring at the stars and pondering life. We talked about the differences in how we thinkhow she thinks in the grey whereas I think in black and white. Since then, my way of thinking has been turned on its head, and I now see the beauty of life in the grey.

I now see the beauty of life in the grey.

This past year held more paradoxes than I could have imagined. A year of deep sadness and grief, laughter and fun, anger and examination, adventure and renewal, shame and fear, curiosity and growth. I felt more confused than ever before. Yet, somehow I came to a place of grounded confidence that I didn’t know was possible.

Areas of grey can be intimidating because there is no control there. We have to actually see people as dynamic human beings rather than separating them into neat, little categories. Some people might describe this as holding a tension of opposites. I experienced it as a freedom washing over me like a wavesometimes so powerful I couldn’t stand and sometimes so calm that all I could do was sit and breathe everything in. 

Releasing the tension of paradox and embracing the grey leads to both radical acceptance and gratitude. There is beauty in recognizing how unique experiences and even opposites can coexist.

Releasing the tension of paradox and embracing the grey leads to both radical acceptance and gratitude.

With resolve,
Emma Dixon, the Darling family

Do you tend to see life and people in black and white? What is the value in learning to hold space for paradox?

Image via Raisa Zwart Photography

Letters to My Younger Self: The 25-Year-Old Who’s Setting Sail for the First Time

Three paddles leaned against an old wooden cabinet

“Letters to My Younger Self” is a series focused on wisdom and self-awareness. Just as you write letters to a friend to encourage and uplift them, here is the advice we would go back and tell our younger selves.

Dear 25-year-old me,

Your world is about to turn upside down in the best way possible. Don’t worry. You won’t be alone. Take a deep breath, and read on. 

You’re moving to New York City this week! Newly single, newly sober and with no clue how you’ll land on your own two feet. But you booked that one-way ticket. I’m so proud of you! You’ll never be the same. 

But you booked that one way ticket. I’m so proud of you!

This leap of faith will be a touchstone for you in the years to come, reminding you of the great reward that follows great risk. I know it feels irresponsible, almost selfish, to make this move. However, you’ll learn to see this as an investment—both in yourself and the countless others you’ll meet along the adventure. 

You’re starting to wonder if everything your sister told you about God is true. You’re clutching tightly to the handwritten map of the five boroughs. You’re about to fall in love with the world all over again. 

NYC will romance you. Her architecture, modern and old world, will excite you. Her city-dwellers, children and grownups, will teach you. Her parks, lively and quiet, will inspire you. 

Right now, all you see is the unknown. You’re trying to navigate the uncharted waters of your future, ping-ponging between every emotion. I know you’re afraid that you’ll lose your kindness in the hustle and bustle of city life. With intentionality, you’ll grow rich in compassion, learning to love others as you are loved in community. 

Right now, all you see is the unknown. You’re trying to navigate the uncharted waters of your future.

I know you’re afraid that your creativity will dwindle without drinking and partying. With trust, you’ll become a stronger artist, liberated from the heaviness of addiction. 

I know you’re afraid that you’ll miss your “person” by being single in your mid-20s. With faith, you’ll lean into the freedom of flying solo and find your groove. And you will marry a wonderful man who waited for you, too. 

Yes, it will be challenging, too, as evolving can and should be. Your expectations will be interrupted by the colorful, messy reality of life, again and again. Every belief you swear by will be tested until what is gold remains.

Friendships will change. People will surprise you in the best ways and in the worst ways, too. However, with each relationship, each success, each failure and each risk, you will grow stronger. Trust me, I’m living proof.

Your expectations will be interrupted by the colorful, messy reality of life, again and again.

Here I am, writing this letter on the other side of an adventure you’ll take later on: Marriage. Another exciting, challenging, rewarding voyage into the unknown. Except this time, we’re not alone. Everything you’re doing and feeling now will lead you here. 

A little note on writing letters: your words are powerful. To your great surprise and merriment, you’ll end up in places with people you never thought you’d meet. Write them letters just for joy; expect nothing in return.

But remember: You are not beneath them, nor are you above them. Don’t write, or do anything for that matter, to be seen. Get in the habit of being kind for kindness’ sake. 

A related little note: you are worth investing in. Stop picking up furniture off the street. Stop cutting corners and putting yourself last. I wish we would stop doing that even now. Let people invest in you, too. You are not trash.

You are a daughter. That will take some time to sink in, but let it. Let love sink in. 

Get in the habit of being kind for kindness’ sake. 

From where I’m standing, I can see now that there was no other way forward than to let faith set your course. So lift up your sails and let faith launch you into the great unknown.

Cheering you on,
Your Biggest Fan 

P.S. Keep writing.

How do you feel when you were beginning a new journey or embarking on a new path when you were younger? What advice would you give to your younger self?

Image via Sheri Giblin, Darling Issue No. 13