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With over six million square miles of land, Canada is the second largest country in the world. 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada, increasing the interest and intrigue of travelers hoping to explore it.

As you plan your next vacation or adventure here, I’ve rounded up 11 hidden (and maybe not-so-hidden) gems in Canada that are just waiting for you to explore. All that’s left to do is book your ticket and pack your bags for the experience.

1. Gatineau Park

https://www.instagram.com/p/BWtXtvZlpHj/?taken-at=281804742

Ottawa, the capital city, is the center of a majority of the Canada 150 events happening throughout the year. But, one of my favorite parts about visiting Ottawa is taking some time outside of the city to explore Gatineau Park. Only a short ten-minute drive from the city center across the bridge to Quebec, Gatineau Park is made up of 139 square miles of land that includes stunning waters of Meech Lake, miles of hiking trails and beautiful lookout points throughout the park.

It’s also home to the Nordik Spa-Nature, the largest Scandinavian spa in North America.

2. Driving Through the Yukon

2017 is not only Canada’s 150th birthday, but it’s also the 75th anniversary of the Alaskan Highway. This highway extends all the way to Alaska through the Yukon, making it the perfect road trip route for those hoping to explore the miles of unchartered wilderness in the Canadian north.

Begin your RV adventure at the Tagish Lake at the Southern Lakes Resort, then pass through Whitehorse driving north through Kluane National Park all the way to Dawson City to relive the glory years of the Gold Rush.

3. Château Frontenac

Quebec City transports you to old world France with buildings that are centuries old nestled along cobblestone streets. One of the most recognized landmarks in the city is the Fairmont Château Frontenac that sits atop the hill looking over the St. Lawrence River. With over 600 rooms on 18 floors to pick from, each room provides a picturesque view of the old city and river and is filled with historic tales of mystery and intrigue waiting for you to explore.

*Pssst. Also spotted on the cover of Darling Issue no. 6!

4. Saskatoon

Swap the crowds for the charm of Saskatoon that sits along the bend of the South Saskatchewan River. This city has become a haven for creativity with a number of small batch distilleries, breweries and local independent restaurants popping up throughout. Start your day by driving along the prairies along Valley Road to visit the family run Black Fox Farm & Distillery, then pick up lunch at Odd Couple and a beer across the road at 9 Mile Legacy.

Finish off your day with dinner at The Hollows, a locally owned and operated restaurant committed to reducing food waste with their inventive menu. Be sure to also visit the Wanuskewin Heritage Park to learn more about the area’s first inhabitants and celebrate a largely undiscovered part of Canada’s history.

5. The Bay of Fundy
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The best for last. The Southern Head Cliffs are my personal favourite part of this amazing little island. Located at the southern tip of the island, there is no better place to watch the sun slowly fade away past the coast of Maine. // J’ai gardé le meilleur pour la fin. Personnellement, mon coin préféré est situé sur les falaises de Southern Head. Les falaises, qui sont au sud de cette magnifique île, offrent le meilleur endroit pour admirer le coucher de soleil jusqu’à ce qu’il disparaisse de l’autre côté du Maine. | ? by @jonbillings #explorenb . . . #grandmanan #newbrunswick #nouveaubrunswick #explorecanada #canada #instatravel #sunsetporn #coast #southernheadcliffs #atlanticocean #bayoffundy #beauty

A post shared by New/Nouveau-Brunswick, Canada (@destinationnb) on Jul 18, 2017 at 4:24pm PDT

Set between the east coast islands of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, the Bay of Fundy is known for having the highest tidal waves in the world. Nature and outdoor lovers revel in exploring this area by land to see the Hopewell Rocks and Hopewell Cape in New Brunswick or the Cape Split in Nova Scotia and by sea embarking on whale, seabirds and other marine life tours.

6. Jasper Park Lodge
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Mt. Edith Cavell as seen from the lake at Jasper Park Lodge. Ten days ago, during our last days off from work my parents visited and we took them on a lil road trip. In Jasper they treated themselves to a night at the beautiful Jasper Park Lodge for my Dads 60th Birthday. Lydia and I also stayed there…Well, we slept in our car in the parking lot haha!! Still gonna claim it! As is often the case when sleeping in cars I find it pretty easy to get up early, so I spent a couple hours at sunrise just strolling the shores of the lake in complete silence and solitude. It was a picture perfect morning and I enjoyed having it all to myself. Fast forward to today and this time we managed to walk the meadows and be at the feet of this stunning mountain. I'm looking forward to going through the photos I took today. Until then I hope you enjoy this image of her from afar.

A post shared by Adam Whittingham (@adam_captures) on Jul 17, 2017 at 11:50pm PDT

Tucked in-between Alberta’s Rocky Mountain in Jasper National Park is the historic Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. During construction of the Canadian National Railways, the Fairmont hotels were built to help spark tourism and travel in the areas along the route. Today, they are iconic landmarks throughout Canada and the Jasper Park Lodge is a UNESCO World Heritage site that has had a number of notable visitors stay at their 700-acre, year-round mountain resort. In 1939, Queen Elizabeth and George VI spent part of their honeymoon in romantic Outlook Cabin, which is still available for rent.

7. Nunavut

Nunavut is not only Canada’s newest addition, but also it’s one of the more remote areas of the country set in Canada’s Artic Archipelago. This northern territory is made up of expanses of tundra, craggy mountains and remote villages that can only be reached by water or by air. One of the best ways to plan your northern expedition is by booking an Artic cruise through Adventure Canada that sails through the article circle and provides you with a once in a lifetime educational expedition.

8. Iceberg Alley in Newfoundland & Labrador

Every year, tourists and locals flock to Newfoundland & Labrador to catch a glimpse of the icebergs floating close to shore. Visible from over 18,000 miles of coastline, the eastern and northern coasts are the prime location to see an iceberg from the Maritime province. Local operators also offer boat tours to provide an up close look at these cold giants. Eerily enough, these icebergs compare in size to the one that sunk the Titanic 400 miles from the Newfoundland coast.

9. Tofino

Tofino is the outdoor retreat for Vancouver islanders and travelers in search of the sun, sea and surf. Sitting on Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Tofino embodies the relaxing British Columbia life where you can kayak, surf, go whale watching, bear watching, bird watching and hiking all in one ambitious day. Named one of the best surf towns in North America, be sure to book your stay at one of the seaside resorts while in town.

10. Thousand Islands

A picturesque destination for both cottage goers in the warmer months and leaf chasers in the fall, the Thousand Islands are made up of over 1800 tiny islands varying in size offering you the seclusion of being on your own island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River. The area is best seen by boat through the Gananoque Boat Line or by air with the 1000 Islands Helicopter Tour offering  astonishing aerial views.

11. Northern Lights in the Northwest Territories

For those hoping to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, I’ve been told that the Northwest Territories offers the best conditions for viewing. The flat tundra terrain gives you an unobscured view of the sky’s shimmering glow on a clear night. To better your chances of seeing the Aurora, book your stay at a remote lodge or bed and breakfast that’s miles away from the city light pollution and in a room that looks out onto the night sky.

Where have you been in Canada that took your breath away?

Feature Image via Esther Lee

The post 11 of the Dreamiest Spots in Canada appeared first on Darling Magazine.

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When was the last time the shape of the clouds fascinated us more than what’s on our phones? Or we sat engrossed in the sunset without a single interruption?

Chances are, for most of us it’s been a while. As much as we might appreciate these things, the never-ending to-do lists and distractions of our lives tend to desensitize us to the little miracles around us – to the point where we might stop noticing them altogether.

As we get older, it’s natural to grow accustomed to the things that once enchanted us as kids because we’re no longer seeing them for the first time. Before I moved to Los Angeles, for example, I remember how incredible I thought it was that there were palm trees lining the streets here (I’m from Minnesota, after all).

But since living here, that initial fondness and excited wonder has long subsided.

On the one hand, it’s wonderful to be able to adapt to our surroundings and grow comfortable in our environments, but isn’t it tragic when we become dulled to their unique magic in the process? Whether it’s the newness of a palm tree or perhaps the glisten of bubbles in a warm bath, the scent of wild gardenias on a hot summer evening or the warmth of a hug from Mom… there are countless experiences in our lives that merit our awe and appreciation.

The world is full of beautiful, awe-inspiring life and cultivating a sense of wonder toward it is not just some feel-good exercise, but an attitude with profound benefits; it’s what inspires our imaginations and allows us to immerse ourselves in the present moment. Who wouldn’t want to experience the humbling and surprising admiration that true wonder brings?

… it’s wonderful to be able to adapt to our surroundings and grow comfortable in our environments, but isn’t it tragic when we become dulled to their unique magic in the process?

According to Albert Einstein, “He … who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead – his eyes are closed.”

Though our innate sense of wonder might have diminished since childhood, it is not difficult to restore. All we must do is seek to see the world through a fresh lens, as if for the first time. Each moment is unique and fleeting, never again to be created, so each time we look at something actually is the first (and last) time we will see it just as it is in that moment. That’s kind of amazing to think about, isn’t it?

Once we internalize that, we’ll become more curious about the things we too often take for granted and start to see the miraculous even in the common. A glass of water is no longer just a glass of water; it’s part of a resource that is constant and could have passed through dinosaurs before us. The weather is not just “good” or “bad,” but a remarkable formation never again to be reproduced. The faces of our friends reflect not just their own stories but the stories of all their ancestors.

When we are open to it, each person and place we encounter contains their own unique charm. So the next time we feel bored and are tempted to open Instagram or Snapchat to kill time, let’s remember that the real captivating, miraculous stuff is already right here in front of us.

What was the last thing that filled you with a sense of wonder?

Images via Tanja Heffner

The post Yet Another Reason to Put Down Your Phone and Reclaim This appeared first on Darling Magazine.

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There are many longings of the human heart. These longings are powerful and can serve as a common thread, crossing continents and boarders, language barriers and cultures, social classes and traditions, connecting us all.

While the desire to love and be loved is one such common thread, there is another longing that remains ever present within our hearts: the desire to know and be known.

From a young age, we seek to know and be known. This desire is coupled with a yearning to more deeply know and understand ourselves. We spend years of our precious time — and great amounts of our hard earned money — in search of people, experiences, words and phrases that will aid us in this long distance journey of self-discovery. We hike the tallest peaks, parachute out of moving planes and travel to the furthest corners of the globe searching for clues to ourselves. We watch television shows and relate to characters who share similar (or exude seemingly desired) attributes.

We cruise the internet and various social media platforms for quizzes, self-assessments and personality tests, all in an effort to better understand our true natures. These tests and self-assessments only succeed in grouping us into one or more categories; nevertheless, we review our results with the intent of helping us along our quest of defining who we are.

Why do we pursue the external to define the internal? Why do we seek out others’ definition of who we are and so easily adopt their words or phrases as truth?

When we place too much emphasis on what others say, allowing them to tell us who we really are, it can subconsciously cause us to overshadow the empowering and life-giving traits that this world desperately needs its women to embody, embrace and inspire.

Here are five labels, words and phrases which you may have been told in the past and unknowingly accepted as truth. They will require strength, wisdom and self-awareness to break, but you’re not in this alone. With a little love, generosity and an open mind, you can begin to embrace the fullness of the beautiful life you have been given.

Label No. 1: “Weird or Out There” to “Innovative and Interesting”

Break the mold by embracing your creativity and uniqueness. View yourself as innovative and interesting! Present your thoughts and art to others in new and unexpected ways that inspire thought and action.

Label No. 2: “Conceited” to “Empathetic”

C.S. Lewis once said, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” Allow this simple quote to influence the way you serve others and see the world.

Label No. 3: “Too Opinionated” to “Action-Oriented”

Don’t just talk the talk. Together, let’s impact the world for good by discovering what within it breaks our hearts. Then, respond by finding ways to heal the hurt and pain through our actions.

Label No. 4: “Perfectionist” to “A Risk-Taker Who Learns From Mistakes”

I’ve heard it said, “Strive for progress not perfection.” Perfection is overrated and robs us of the beauty that is only found when we make mistakes and learn from them. Go ahead, take risks and resolve to learn from the inevitable mistakes of life. The world needs more women who are willing to share their lessons of growth with those following a few steps behind.

Label No. 5: “Insecure” to “Self-Accepting”

We all struggle with insecurity in some aspects of our lives. Whether it’s public speaking, finances, physical attributes or career advancement, these insecurities can run deep. Instead of meditating over our insecurities, let’s spend more of our valuable time focusing on our strengths and what we do well. Together, we can lead the world in wholly embracing the skills and talents that make us all unique.

Toni Collette once said “The better you know yourself, the better your relationship with the rest of the world.” The more we begin to embrace what we do well, and continue to develop those gifts and talents, the better we can impact this world for good. Starting today, learn to move forward in spite of the insecurities and fears that have held you back for far too long. The strengths and skills that you have to offer this world far outnumber the weaknesses and insecurities that you might now face.

There is power in our words; the cadence with which we speak of and to ourselves can impact our self-worth for better or worse. The decision to allow any label to bend us until we break is ours. So don’t wait! Beginning today, the labels of your past don’t need to serve you any longer. Know that you were meant to accomplish beautiful and brilliant things. You were meant to inspire others to love, push others to succeed and to accomplish good in this world.

You were meant to shine!

What other labels are you ready for society to break?

Images via Esther Baseme

The post 5 Labels Society is Waiting For You To Break appeared first on Darling Magazine.

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We’ve often heard it said that integrity is who you are when no one is watching. I always thought that meant what you do in secret and in part, it is. But I also think it means being faithful and intentional even when it doesn’t feel like a big deal. It’s the minor, almost unnoticed decisions of our days that prepare us for what lies ahead.

What does this have to do with our wardrobe? A lot.

And how do we begin to process what it means to have integrity as we approach our closets and get dressed each day? Like most things: little by little.

The fact that we get to express ourselves creatively through fashion is a gift. It’s another area of our lives where we’re constantly making tiny, unimportant or unnoticeable decisions. Yet, how we show up in the small things will reflect how we show up in the bigger moments of our lives.

We can mindfully show up and develop our integrity through the clothes we choose to wear as well as noticing our relationship to ourselves and the pieces. Here’s how:

1. Be Curious

Notice the thoughts that come to your mind as you’re getting dressed. Don’t judge yourself or your clothes, simply notice. Are they thoughts like: If only I could squeeze into that smaller size or I hate my thighs or If I only had that blazer that so-and-so had?

If you’re comparing or struggling with loving and accepting yourself physically, chances are these same negative thoughts are showing up in your career, relationships, home life, etc. What if, as you zipped that zipper and a painful thought came up, instead of accepting it you shifted the perspective into one of gratitude and love toward yourself? Instead of, Ugh I’ll never have a thigh gap to I’m so grateful for my strong legs that allow me to walk, run and adventure through my life?

Every moment is an opportunity for growth, if we choose it to be.

Image via Sara Kerens 2. Be a Storyteller

We all are storytellers. Everyone of us. And we are constantly inviting others into a journey when they are with us. Our physical appearance is the first thing people notice about us. What message are you intending to give off versus the reaction you are getting from people? Is there a disconnect?

Ask a few trusted friends how you come across. In college, I was insecure about my body, so I hid myself in baggy sweats. One day, a mentor told me I needed to start taking myself seriously and put on some mascara and clothes that fit me. How did she know I was hiding? I thought I was being so sly covering up my flaws and insecurities by being “sporty.” But my hiding was no secret — all anyone had to do was look at me. If I didn’t take myself seriously, how was I to expect others to?

3. Be Creative

Over 60 percent of millennials are in debt and living above their means. It’s so easy to be this way, especially in our just-one-click-away culture. Perhaps it’s time to pay off the credit card debt, create a budget and work with the closet you have and not the closet you can’t afford. How you spend your time and money is a reflection of what you care about most.

While I want to look put together, I don’t want my legacy to be, “Man, that girl sure knew how to dress.” I want to leave the world a better place and be defined by a generous and kind heart with a commitment to invest in the lives of others.

While I want to look put together, I don’t want my legacy to be, ‘Man, that girl sure knew how to dress.’

One of the most profound ways I’ve been challenged to integrate integrity into my wardrobe is by pairing down my closest to a more lean capsule wardrobe. I don’t want to fuss about my clothes, but I do want to be comfortably chic. A few ways I do this are:

1. Make a list.

At the beginning of each season, I make a list of things I need, I.E. my black pants are on their last thread and I’d really like to save up for a nice trench coat. Search your closet and make of list of things you’d like and need. Once you determine your budget for that quarter, you may have to save a few things to buy for next year. This has completely extinguished random shopping trips for me where I would spend $50 here and there and end up frustrated with a closet full of clothes I didn’t really like or were out the next season.

2. Check for versatility.

Now when I go shopping, I make sure I can envision myself wearing the item in three completely different outfits. If I can’t, then the piece is a no-go for me. Even better is if I can find multiple seasons of the year to wear the piece. Functionality and versatility is key.

3. If you don’t love it, then get rid of it.

Go through your closet and take out anything that fits into the category of: If I lose 10 pounds, I’m not crazy about the color, the straps always fall off, those pants cut off my circulation, etc. The reality is if you don’t love it, then you won’t wear it. And when/if you do, you usually regret it.

This was a painful process for me as I began to pair down my wardrobe. My closet was full of items that I didn’t really like, but felt obligated to keep them because of what I paid for them or worse, I kept them because maybe they’d fit me one day. My wardrobe is much smaller now, but it takes me only a few minutes to get ready in the morning because it’s made up of only pieces I love, feel confident in and know I’ll be happy in throughout my day.

Image via Sara Kerens

The lean wardrobe is becoming a movement and there are incredible brands on the forefront of this capsule mentality. A few brands I love are: VETTA, AYR, The Podolls and Cuyana. (At the end of this article are listed even more.)

Chanel was really onto something when she said “Less is more.” And like building any characteristic, it takes time, discipline and patience. Focus on one or two of the minor changes above and practice incorporating them into your life and wardrobe this summer!

What are some capsule pieces that make you feel good about yourself?

Images via Tutti del Monte

The post How to Dress Intentionally with a Pared Down Closet appeared first on Darling Magazine.

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It crept in slowly, like a pebble wedged in the toe of my shoe that I’d only feel occasionally. If I moved a certain way – or, in this case, if I caught a certain scroll, pin or post – then there it’d be, a tiny stab of insignificance.

I’d brush it aside, thinking maybe I was just jealous or being judgmental, giving too much room to those self-centered tendencies we can have as human beings. But it started getting worse. What’s more, I started getting worse. I was becoming annoyed and cynical with anything new, anyone billing themselves as artistic or creative or living their best life. As ugly as it sounds, I’ll admit: I’ve internally rolled my eyes more times in the last year than maybe ever as an adult.

Pride is a nasty root. And underneath its web, there’s usually something more.

For me, what lay beneath was insecurity (shocker – despite my firm belief that it’s a great decade, how many women can’t relate to self-doubt in their 30s?). Insecure that I wasn’t on track. Insecure that I was losing relevance in friend groups. Insecure that time was slipping away and I was just wasting it. All of it.

Yes. That was me.

How does Italy fit in?

***

From the outside, you’d never expect it. That’s what’s great about being different, isn’t it?

Pulling up (or walking up — its location is conveniently walkable) to Villa Tra’monti in Bassano del Grappa doesn’t achieve the assumed grandiosity of saying you’re off “to vacation in a villa in Italy.” You don’t weave up an exclusive drive and a liveried service staff isn’t standing at attention. Instead, you turn off the main road and immediately to your left, as if still on the off-ramp, you arrive at the front gate.

The stone structure with its mid-century modern, almost commanding silhouette slices itself into your view of the mountains, now an ombre blue against the sunset in the distance.

I’m welcomed by Carolina, who owns and runs the villa and is apologetically distracted; a hailstorm tore through the night before and her plants, which frame the perimeter of the property, remain in critical condition. The door handle is old, she says, so only use the key. She twists the lock and pushes the iron grate.

In we go.

Immediately, I get the sense I’ve just entered someplace special. There’s a warm glow as the setting sun — still infusing the living room’s pink sofa and matching armchairs — spills onto the wood-paneled floor at our feet. It’s the best kind of light.

I decide I’d happily camp in the entryway if I could. But I can’t.

Carolina leads me to the kitchen where the color palette changes from pink to yellow. The walls are tiled and there’s a vintage yellow fridge in the corner, not the ironic kind. A bottle of prosecco with my name on it chills inside, awaiting a later pour. I’m invited to use the kitchen at leisure with the only reminder to segment my trash for recycling.

It’s a green home, she says. The green energy is important.

As we wander back through the rest of house, Carolina explains how her father collected art. Uniquely chosen, every piece in her home — some dating back to the 17th century — has a story. Originally just two floors, two additional levels were added to the villa in the 1950s; not the top two, as you might expect, but the bottom two. Italian architect Francesco Bonfanti guided the project. Depth was carved out intentionally.

I note the life metaphor and follow Carolina down the arched corridor to my room.

Over the next five days, whether waking up jet-lagged to lavender skies and the swaying cypress trees outside my window or coming back to the villa mid-day to rest my blistered heels (and cursing for not packing sandals), I settle into the stillness of Villa Tra’monti. It’s ironically active with something I can’t put my finger on.

The pattern on a table runner. A collection of vintage books behind a curtain. The detail on a wall sconce. My eye seems to find the things that aren’t asking for attention. Appreciation is the reward and there’s a sense of refreshment edging in.

Eventually, it hits me: I didn’t know how much I needed to see a place like this. That was unapologetically itself. Where time is an art form instead of a burden.

I’m not just talking about the magic of Italy in general, that’s well-documented, but being in a home with a unique sense of collection. The villa isn’t trying to be anything but what it is and in doing so, it invites you to disarm a guard of ineptitude. You, too, have details waiting to be discovered.

It’s the parts that feel different that end up being distinct.

And it’s the view from the shared balcony that really cements this for me.

Looking out over the edge of historic Bassano, I’m reminded that creativity by nature (and just like nature) cannot be compared. A deep sense of self is synonymous with significance. When we’re not striving to keep up, we can offer something new. Something imaginative and truly beautiful. Ourselves. That’s what we share. That’s what inspires. That’s where we rest.

It’s the fullness of our stories, with all their unexpected storms and stand-alone colors, that’s truly the reward.

P.S. I haven’t felt the pebble since.

Villa Tra’monti hosts three rooms year-round. Contact for availability by emailing villatramonti@gmail.com or reserving on AirBnb here.

Images via Nicole Ziza Bauer

The post Why a Villa in Italy Gave Me Back Myself appeared first on Darling Magazine.

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Whenever we host a Darling Dinner, the intention goes far beyond just enjoying a great meal with one another; it is truly a chance to connect at a deeper level and leave encouraged and refreshed.

If you’ve been to our dinners, you know that each one is centered around a theme. For this one held in the Cafe at Thistle Farms in Nashville, TN, the word was obvious right from the inception: Light.

This is due to the fact that Becca Stevens, the founder of Thistle Farms, has created a company that literally pushes back the darkness on a daily basis by providing long-term housing, healthcare, and therapy for survivors of prostitution, trafficking and addiction without charging residents. They also provide survivors employment through their Body & Home line, The Café of Thistle Farms, and a Global Market.

With the dinner held in the Thistle Farms Café, we couldn’t help but talk about how we each hold a “light,” something we can give to others to encourage them—whether it be just our life story itself, a piece of advice, or a hug that says, “I’ve been there, too.”

As fifty women gathered, we started out by chatting and taking all the necessary selfies with wine by Winc in hand and cocktails by Hamilton Bartending, along with crostini appetizers with whipped goat cheese and strawberry bruschetta.


The dining area was so stunning with table design by Alex Cantrell from The New Eclectic with an aesthetic that was modern, warm and curated, yet bold at the same time—with hints of dusty rose and mustard yellow. 

Alex even hand dyed all the napkins into the most beautiful pink tone we’d ever seen! It was a cozy, welcoming and calming space to enter, and we settled in for the intro to the evening by Darling Founder Sarah Dubbeldam and Becca Stevens. They each told their stories of overcoming hardship in their lives and how although these times were tough, they brought about vision for what they do now—encouraging women to thrive, heal and find light again.

As the first course was served—a stunning colorful salad with shaved watermelon radishes, chioggia beets, heirloom carrots, pickled onions, and goat cheese—we started wth our icebreaker question:

What is the story behind your shoes?

 The room filled with laughter as women lifted up their feet around the tables to show one another their shoes and the story of where they got them and why they chose them.

As the main course was brought out—airline chicken breasts with eggplant tapenade and dill-yogurt sauce along with  tabbouleh w/ tomatoes, cucumbers, and fresh herbs—Sarah shared the second question:

 What’s something you’ve been through that you’ve seen light come from?

First opening up about her own struggles with severe anxiety and depression, she set the level of depth and the permission to “go there,” for the room. It’s interesting how as women, it can be so hard to put down our masks and share what’s really going on, or even where we’ve truly come from. As people began to share, a special love and care fell upon the room—there were tears or sadness and joy, shared experiences, and a general feeling of celebration for the light that has come out of the hard places, and the rough patches that have been made smooth.

A big surprise of the evening was having renowned singer/songwriter, artist and entrepreneur, Amy Stroup play a song for us live between each table question—each filled with vivid storytelling and rich, emotional honesty. She is multi-talented as part of the acclaimed group, Sugar & The High-Lows, but also one of the most licensed females in music today. Her music helped each of us soak up all that had been said and that we learned from each conversation.

Becca Stevens posed the third question: 

What special light do you hold? 

This thought brought up the fact that no matter how big or small, we each have a light that we can shine in whatever environment we find ourselves in. We might be at home with our kids, or at a 9-5 job, or starting a business—whatever it is, we each carry something and we shouldn’t measure our light against anyone else’s. 

Lastly, dessert was served—an orange almond layered cake w/ whipped cream, fresh berries and edible flowers. The last question of the evening was a call to leave the evening with vision and fresh inspiration:

What’s the distant light on the horizon for you? 

This was a lovely question to end on—speaking out into existence the things we’ve been pondering or dreaming about for our future. 

Women stayed long after the dinner, chatting and exchanging numbers, along with peeking into the lovely gift bags from the following sponsors:

Missio Hair: A beautiful gold scarf that can be worn so many ways! They also have an amazing hair care line that’s incredible product that gives back to victims of sex trafficking. 

ABLE: A gorgeous ring from Nashville based lifestyle brand that has beautiful bags, jewelry, fashion and shoes. They focus on ending generational poverty by working with women who have often overcome extraordinary circumstances and manufacture directly in the communities they wish to impact—also publishing wages publicly to be fully transparent. 

Dakotah Smith Designs: A Pinky Promise Enamel Pin Set that is great kept together or split up to give to your best friend, your #1, your sibling, your S.O., your mom – the options are endless!

We are so thankful to Thistle Farms for co-hosting this dinner with us, and continue to support the work that they do. 

Images by Shelley Roberts

The post A “Light” Filled Evening with Thistle Farms appeared first on Darling Magazine.

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Especially during this time of year, we’re all about the cold. Ice cream. Popsicles. Frozen for days. But is splashing our system with ice-cold-goodness actually doing more harm than help? Thankfully, we can turn to Chalkboard Mag* for some answers here. Below, Certified Health and Wellness Coach, Nicole Granato, is filling us in about the negative effect cold foods and drinks can have on our body.

In our smoothie-crazed health world, have we ever stopped to wonder if frozen drinks are really healthy for us? We’re ingesting an ice-cold drink while bundled up in socks and a sweater warming the outside of our bodies but freezing the inside.

Auyervedic medicine explains that every season is associated with a dosha – spring with kapha, summer with pitta and fall and winter with vata. These seasonal fluxuations with doshas are essentially balanced through diet. While pitta is the most dominant in women, each dosha has one main thing in common: None of them recommend ice-cold drinks or food. Chinese medicine also says women should be eating warm to room temperature foods throughout the seasons – anything colder greatly increases the chances of hormonal imbalance, skin irritation, bloating, digestive sensitivity, blood stagnation, hair loss and mood disorders like depression and increased anxiety. So could our iced drinks and smoothies really be hurting us?

THE FIX: Nourish yourself with warmed foods like soups, almonds, fresh ginger, vegetables boiled or roasted, bone broth, fruits like dates and figs, warm nut milk or goats milk, turmeric, ghee, pumpkin seeds, whole grains, avocado, sweet potato, room-temperature salads and matcha green tea. Stay away from frozen fruits and berries, cold acai bowls and fruit bowls, iced drinks, cold vegetables and salads and iced coffee. Drink things at room temperature.

3 REASONS TO NIX ICED DRINKS + COLD FOODS
1. GUT HEALTH

Our digestive systems are extremely sensitive to foods and liquids and, most importantly, the temperature of those foods. Nothing disrupts the digestive system more than a cold beverage, especially on an empty stomach – it sends a big shock throughout the entire body. Women who ingest cold beverages first thing in the morning tend to experience bloating, puffiness in their face and neck, mild forms of acne and digestive sensitivity throughout the day and into the evening. Replace that cold drink in the a.m. with a warm or room-temperature one.

2. HORMONAL HARMONY

Pitta governs all heat, metabolism, hormone balance and transformation in the body and mind. Symptoms like irritability, thinning hair, excess stomach acid, loose stool, skin prone to rashes and puffiness in the face and neck may be connected to an imbalanced pitta. Most women tend to suffer from this imbalance in the fall, winter and spring months. Eating a diet based on warm and room temperature foods is key.

3. FERTILITY

Warm foods have been suggested as the best foods to eat while trying to conceive. Nourishing our body with food that is easy on the digestive system allows our bodies to absorb the nutrients within the food. When we eat ice cold foods and smoothies our body freezes up, creating a blockage, preventing our tissues from absorbing the nutrients that are being given to us. Warm foods promote a healthy menstrual cycle, ovulation and lower symptoms of PMS as our bodies are able to shed uterine lining and build blood efficiently. It is highly important to eat warm and nourishing foods during this time of the month and stay away from cold foods and drinks!

Some of our favorite warming recipes from Chalkboard are: Cauliflower Rice, Coconut Quinoa Pudding, and Sweet Potato Nachos with Vegan Queso. *The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise, or other health program.

Image via Jillian Guyette

The post Could Eating Cold Foods Sabotage Your Health? appeared first on Darling Magazine.

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Here at Darling we cherish our pets as the family members they are. We love dogs, cats, turtles, hamsters, fish — all sorts of creatures — and we give all species the same degree of worth, knowing that while some of us may be distinctly dog people, others of us have the very same relationship with our pet ferret or snake or bird.

Having a pet can be challenging, certainly, but we unanimously agree that the effort of caring for our beloved creature is worth it; in fact, we often feel like we need our pets more than they need us. Animals can teach us so many lessons about life. Today we’re waxing poetic about the pets in our lives and the things they’ve taught us that have shaped us into the pet owners (and people) that we’ve become.

Pets Teach Us About Loyalty

I must confess up front that I am a dog owner, so my realm of understanding of other pets is a bit limited, but I think we can all agree that pets of all kinds are incredibly loyal creatures. They greet us when we come home, they protect us from the mailman (whether we’ve asked them to or not), and they show us great affection.

Photo of Amanda Shine for The Setting NYC via Camila Gutierrez | www.thesettingnyc.com

The loyalty they display reminds us of the ways in which we can be loyal and loving to the important people in our own lives. Loyalty isn’t a topic we discuss much even though it’s a hugely crucial component in relationships. We often focus on honesty, openness and love when discussing relationships (all good things!), but we less frequently expound upon the importance of being loyal to one another by being supportive of one another’s decisions, showing up when someone’s in need, and protecting the parts of each other’s lives that should be kept confidential. Pets remind us of how it feels to be on the receiving end of someone’s loyalty, encouraging us to treat our family and friends in the same way.

Pets remind us of how it feels to be on the receiving end of someone’s loyalty, encouraging us to treat our family and friends in the same way.

Pets Teach Us About Contentment

In a world full of opportunities to compare ourselves to one another, I find this lesson to be the one that resonates most with me. In the midst of being blessed with a wonderful husband, an incredible family, a beautiful community of friends, good health, a full-time job, and a lovely place to live, I still find ways to compare myself to others. It’s ridiculous, really, but I find myself falling into the trap time and time again.

Whenever I need a reality check, I think about the ways in which I’ve learned about contentment from the dogs I’ve had over the years. Granted, pets don’t have to worry about overdue bills, insurance snafus, home repairs or ill relatives, but they still remind us of all there is to be content with, including the basics like food, water, shelter, and love. Pets are content to simply just be present with their owners, which is a tender reminder of how special and meaningful it is to spend time with loved ones, whether we’re engaging in an activity together or just resting in one another’s presence.

Pets Teach Us About Gratitude

Pets remind us of the value of being grateful for all that we have. This life lesson goes hand-in-hand with the concept of contentment: First we learn to be content with what we have, and then we learn to express gratitude for those things. Pets are thankful for the simplest little things in life, and most are able to express their gratitude in specific ways, whether they come in the form of slobbery kisses or loud squawks.

I often reflect on the way my dog excitedly runs around our living room in circles when he realizes he’s about to go on a walk, and it makes me wonder if I ever approach the little things in my life with that much enthusiasm and gratitude. His sweet behavior puts life into perspective for me, and it reminds me that there’s something that I can be thankful for every single day.

Pets Teach Us About Responsibility

As any pet owner knows, taking care of our animal friends is a lot of work. It’s worthwhile work, certainly, but it’s work nonetheless. Scheduling appointments, tracking medication, keeping living spaces clean, and taking pets out for bathroom breaks are consuming tasks that help teach us to become more responsible with our time and our resources. We learn to better prepare for financial emergencies, should they arise, and we make our schedules in such a way to be the best parents to our furry/feathery/scaly friends.

What life lessons have you learned from your pet?

Images via Camila Gutierrez

The post Life Lessons We Can Learn From Our Pets appeared first on Darling Magazine.

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When you work hard to accomplish your goals, do everything in your power to achieve a milestone and earn a leadership position, you have every right to be proud of your successes. However, it’s also just as important to remain gracious and treat your team with the same respect once you have made it to the top. While you’re enjoying the view you so rightly earned, it’s very easy to lose sight of what is right and what is wrong. Here are some ways to stay grounded, no matter how prosperous you are in life.

Show Humility

Taking pride in your accomplishments and pushing for constant achievements are great characteristics to possess. But people admire the leaders whose accomplishments speak for themselves and whose greatest achievements are noted as a result of the success of their team or followers as a whole.

Remember Your Hardworking Team

Being in a leadership position, you have a team you are working with. Sure, in the system of hierarchy, you are on the top tier of the triangle. But if you flip the triangle to be pointed down, and work in the mindset that your team who works with you is just as important to the results of success in your business, you will have a much healthier team. Building your business, no matter what field you’re in, is a team effort; it is not a venture you accomplished on your own. Be thankful for your company’s crew and treat them with the same respect. Take the job seriously but not yourself.

Apply the Same Standards Before Your Big Win

No doubt that serious, focused discipline is what gets the job done effectively and productively. That’s why your business has thrived. But not everyone can go nonstop as a robot all of the time. It’s okay to allow your team members to be humans. They need time to relax, recharge and take breaks. Show your team that they can have fun while they work as well. A little humor and light-hearted celebrations are much needed with your team to make working enjoyable and more successful.

Stay in Contact

It is very important, as you climb the stairs to success, that you do not disconnect yourself from everyone else. Do not lock yourself up in your big, private corner office away from the heart and soul of your hardworking team. Stay involved just as you did in the beginning of your venture and continue that same workmanship. Remember the people you meet on your way up will be the same people you may meet on your way down. Always be kind to those you work with.

After we reach a certain point in our successes, some of us subconsciously subscribe to the belief that we no longer need to work as hard to get what we want, or that we are now better than those around us. By adjusting our expectations, we will stay involved, humble and above all, gracious.

Image via Shannon Lee


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The post How to Remain a Gracious Leader appeared first on Darling Magazine.

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I recently found myself surrounded by over thirty women, in many different stages of life, but who all shared my chosen career of physician. As a fledgling medical student, it was quite the honour to have been invited to the annual female physicians Christmas party. There was a gift exchange, home-made appetizers, and a chocolate box or two, but the ultimate treat was meeting real women living out their vocation – my vocation – five, 10, 25 years beyond my current stage.

Pursuing a professional career can be a daunting task in itself, yet as women, we face additional challenges beyond school admissions, performance reviews, and job interviews. We must overcome the fears and expectations that we are not capable, within ourselves and also within the lingering ideas of our respective work subcultures; ideas women before us have fought to overcome.  We must also consider how we will integrate the other facets of femininity into our days, roles like friend, sister, daughter, wife, and mother. We wrestle over future days and projected responsibilities, imagining the possible challenges to innate desires of travelling overseas, pursuing interests, finding a mate, or having a family.

It’s these considerations that I was able to peer into at this holiday party. As I met and conversed with several women doctors, I did not have to dream up a future as a female in my career, since I was seeing multiple versions right before me: women sharing the news of their first pregnancy to women caring for elderly parents; women newly moved into town to women nearing retirement; women accepting work referrals to women needing relief support; women who played instruments for the city’s symphony; women who loved to sew; and women planning their next vacation trip. All lived full and rich lives as female physicians.

No one can decide for us how to balance the many roles we will play in the course of our lives, but that does not mean we cannot follow the example of those who have managed before us. Just as we may borrow our grandmother’s sure-fire recipes, or a good friend’s wedding program design, we can also borrow from our mentors’ course and decisions. Hearing how other women have played their many roles, alongside working as a professional, can demystify our own future balancing-act; as long as we take care to consider how our own values and priorities may differ.

No one can decide for us how to balance the many roles we will play in the course of our lives, but that does not mean we cannot follow the example of those who have managed before us.

Even if we make a point to have a few women mentors, there is something about the extent and diversity of perspectives found in a larger get together, especially one that is multi-generational. It requires intentional effort, but we must find ways as women to share with one another our routes in life. Whether it be a female Christmas party, our colleague’s baby shower, a women’s association conference, or lunch out with ‘the girls’; let’s make it happen. We may find a new viewpoint into aspects of our own future, and eventually find ourselves giving back and shedding light on those coming after us.

Image via Apartment Therapy

The post Finding Mentors In Your Career appeared first on Darling Magazine.

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