Author: admin_MmM2NWU

Why Self-Awareness Is Important When Traveling In Groups

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A woman waving her hand as if to hail a cab

On one uncommonly sunny and warm day in Portland, my friend and I, driving back from a day on the river with freshly sun-kissed skin, were talking about some of our favorite trips we took that year, both together and with others. We realized the most enjoyable trips were the ones we experienced with friends who knew themselves well enough to voice their preferences and were able to adapt to the unexpected.

This sparked the topic of self-awareness when traveling with others and how a fun trip can take a turn for the worst when someone in the group is unaware of how their words or actions affect those they are traveling with.

A fun trip can take a turn for the worst when someone in the group is unaware of how their words or actions affect those they are traveling with.

In my experience when traveling with family and friends, whether it is a quick day trip, a week’s long road trip or flying to a different country, it is crucial to know the type of traveler you are and what type of traveler others you are traveling with are. This can determine how the trip pans out and is remembered.

I have witnessed people, including myself, attempt to warp into types of travelers they are not—whether they are intricate planners trying to be easy-going or someone who has a go with flow mindset trying to make set plans. Neither scenario ends well, and there is often a tipping point where fiery words are said, awkward silences sit for longer than anyone wants them to and passive aggressive comments are muttered under one’s breath. These situations take away from the amazement and joy of visiting beautiful places for the first time.

It took me a few years and dozens of trips to learn what type of traveler I am and the types of people I prefer to travel with. There are two characteristics that I believe create the most fun experiences when traveling with any group of people. The first is having the courage to learn about the type of traveler you are (and those you are traveling with are) and owning it. The second is having the willingness to adapt because plans rarely play out exactly as intended.

Traveling with friends who made itineraries for trips but who were also open to spontaneity, sparked excitement and anticipation. Traveling with friends who simply show up and go with the plan, yet are willing to participate in decision-making, helped the day move forward at a relaxed pace.

A large part of self-awareness when traveling is accepting who you are and who others are—both as travelers and as human beings who move through life differently. A substantial aspect of life is adapting to the unexpected and traveling is no different.

A substantial aspect of life is adapting to the unexpected and traveling is no different.

Through self-awareness and adaptability, there is little to distract from the feeling of awe when seeing the beauty of the Pacific Coast for the first time, experiencing the taste of an authentic churro in Madrid or admiring mountains that look painted on the sky in Glacier National Park. There are many experiences to have, foods to taste and cultures to learn about. Self-awareness and adaptability only enhance the wonder in traveling.

What type of friends do you prefer to travel with? What has travel taught you about yourself?

Image via Sarah Kehoe, Darling Issue No. 15

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Common Misconceptions About Therapy and Counseling

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A bookshelf with books and magazines

I’ll never forget how nervous I felt the first time I went to therapy. I fumbled through the magazines in the uncomfortable waiting room chair, anxious about meeting my therapist in person. Even more than that, I was anxious about what this person may think of me, judge me for or say to me.

What would they think of my story? Would I be told there was something wrong with me? Was there something wrong with me? I second-guessed my decision to begin therapy in that waiting room. 

I second-guessed my decision to begin therapy in that waiting room. 

These are not uncommon fears to have when beginning therapy for the first time. As a practicing therapist myself now, I try to always keep in mind the inherent vulnerabilities in opening yourself up to a complete stranger for the first time. I often ask in the first session how the client is feeling about starting therapy. It breaks the ice, allows them to voice any fears and helps me to normalize their concerns or answer any questions.

Throughout the years, I have found some common threads about why people won’t go to therapy. This information is often volunteered to me about a person’s spouse, parent or friend once they know I am a therapist. They might roll their eyes and say something like,”My husband would never go to therapy because he doesn’t want someone telling him what to do. He doesn’t want advice.”

These misconceptions are completely understandable, but they unfortunately can keep people from getting the help that they could benefit from. Here are the most common misconceptions about therapy I hear and (as someone who believes in the power of therapy, both personally and professionally) I am happy to dispel:

A therapist is going to tell me what is wrong with me.

This is a very common and understandable fear—that you will show up to the therapist’s office and be told all the ways you are lacking or messed up. This sounds infinitely worse than a trip to the dentist. It sounds more like being put on trial than going to therapy.

What happens instead, however, is that you—the client—tell the therapist where it hurts. You tell the therapist what is not working and what is difficult or painful, not the other way around.

You tell the therapist what is not working and what is difficult or painful, not the other way around.

People are driven to seek out therapy most often because they are suffering in some way. In your therapy session, you will be given space to share, perhaps in lengthy detail for the first time, what is hard, hurting or painful for you. I often find that people are pleasantly surprised by what a relief it is to tell someone their stories.

Therapy is advice or someone telling me what to do.

Advice implies that the “advisor” knows more than you, and I believe that is one thing that repels people from therapy. “Who is this person to tell me how to run my life?” is a common question I’ve heard.

Therapy is not advice. Therapy is experiential, and it utilizes science and your relational experience to help you find healing. Therapy is more about what you think about yourself, rather than someone telling you how to live your life. Yes, a therapist should have more education on mental health than you do, but that education is meant to be a tool to help come alongside you as you enter your process of self-discovery and healing. 

Therapy is not advice. Therapy is experiential, and it utilizes science and your relational experience to help you find healing.

Therapy at its best is collaborative. I often give this explanation as I am detailing the therapy process to a new client. Then, I add “you are the expert on you.” This means that you know a lot more about being yourself and living in your skin than I ever will. A therapist should always take a position of curiosity without judgment. I want my clients to teach me about themselves and about what it is like to be them in the world.

Therapy is all about my mother or dwelling on the past.

A common misconception I hear is: “I don’t want to just talk about my mother. I don’t want to dwell on the past.” Therapy actually begins in the present with what is not working or what is hurting now, and the hope is not only for the present but for the future.

I often tell clients I am trying to work myself out of a job, but we all know that our present has been informed by our past. This is not dwelling on the past. This is understanding it and how it impacts you today.

Some people have a fear of talking about the past—that it will overwhelm them. Other times, it is a fear of being disloyal to a parent if you “complain.”

Our past is in some ways like a marinade. It is not who we are or who we have to become, but it undoubtedly impacts our view of ourselves, our relationships and the world around us. Unpacking your own story allows you to decide your future rather than be controlled unknowingly by your past.

Understanding should truly lead to freedom. Freedom is the goal, not dwelling on the past.

Understanding should truly lead to freedom. Freedom is the goal, not dwelling on the past.

It is vulnerable to open up to a therapist, but that vulnerability is often where you meet yourself, where you find healing and where you understand more about your past. That sacred place of vulnerability is not about someone telling you what is wrong with you or what to do.

Instead, it is about clearing space in your life for you to really hear, connect to and understand yourself and your relationships. Therapy at its best creates an emotionally safe place for you—free of judgment and free of the unwanted advice you get in other relationships. It gives you a chance to understand your own story.

What are some of the negative perceptions you believe or have heard about therapy? How can understanding our pasts and our internal processes lead to greater self-awareness and freedom?

Image via Joe Schmelzer, Darling Issue No. 17

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Darling Letters: How to Keep Your Heart Tender

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A woman in a navy blue suit crouched on the floor

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.

My bleary eyes check the clock, confirming it’s already tomorrow. 1:17 a.m. I grab my journal and scribble “I’m too raw and exposed. Just teetering on an edge.” 

I breathe in and out the prayerful pleas on my heart to steady myself back into my body. Now, it’s 6:12 a.m. I’m awake again as my 4-year-old daughter clumsily tries to sneak under my covers. Her big, sleepy eyes beg for a snuggle, and she’s wrapped up in my arms just like that. Down the hall my eldest runs his fingers across the keys of our hand-me-down piano, and music fills the house and my heart too, which is strung out from yesterday’s heartache. Right now, however, it’s so full from the sweet glory of a new day that tears hit my cheeks.

Right now, however, [my heart is] so full from the sweet glory of a new day that tears hit my cheeks.

The kids are antsy for breakfast, but I quickly journal, “My mind reels and wanders. My heart swells and breaks. I need the both/and. I don’t want to dull myself from feeling tender to all that remains good.”

The tender parts of us are a glimmer of our humanity. We remain tender by holding the tension of our “ands”joy and grief, hard and sacred. I want to be soft enough to behold and brim the beauty of it all while remaining unflinchingly curious and empathetic to wade into the deep of what is broken and painful. Hard-fought, deep joy doesn’t deny or look away from sorrow. Even in heartache, we can hold space for hope to return. 

Even in heartache, we can hold space for hope to return. 

Author and activist Parker Palmer taught me the etymology of the word humus, which is the decayed vegetable matter that nurtures the roots of plants. It comes from the same root word for humility. Our most humble momentsface down in the dirt, tender and rawmay create the richest soil for deep rooting and meaning. If we harden ourselves, we’ll miss it. Stay tender for truth, healing, beauty and justice to grow wild here.

With a tender heart,
Jessica Mayfield, the Darling family

What negative connotation does “a tender heart” carry in society? How do you perceive “tenderness” and “vulnerability”? How can keeping your heart soft and tender be used to your advantage?

Image via Taylor Roades, Art via Ash (Opperman) Wilson

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Darling Letters: The Freedom Found in Embracing the Grey

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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

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How Nature Can Revive a Weary Soul

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A woman's hand holding out a book along a gravel trail

While it may seem trite or obvious that nature is good for us, the benefits of nature on our mental wellness are infinite. There’s something so poetic and Thoreau about it, of course. We all love a bucolic moment—visualizing ourselves milking the cow and leisurely running our hands through a wheat field. But how do we, the suburban and city folk, really benefit from nature? 

After 2020 and transitioning back into a faster pace of life in 2021, it is possible that you may be feeling weary. We’ve overcome the trappings and the drawbacks of a year of the “new normal” and are walking a path now that is perhaps ambivalent and unknown. We are all finding our footing again. Last year, we were inside more than ever, and now as we return to the hustle of our “new normal,” it can be harder to find time to simply take a walk in the woods. 

So this, my friends, is where we begin. 

A walk in the woods is a lovely place to start, but what if we don’t have the woods? I know in suburban Southern California that I do not have any sort of woodland nearby. However, hills will work. Hiking paths, trails, a small yard or public park, they all work. 

If there’s nothing nearby, then I encourage you to familiarize yourself with what is close and accessible to hike or visit. There are urban farms and even many fairgrounds have botanical gardens or large grass lots where you can picnic. If nature isn’t convenient, please do not let that deter you. Find a way to access your own little piece of the great outdoors and bring it into your fold.

Find a way to access your own little piece of the great outdoors and bring it into your fold.

Here are a few practical tools on how to use nature to counteract your weariness:

1. Train your brain to crave the outdoors.

Just like exercise and coffee, which you’ve told your brain to do each morning, add going outside to your daily routine. After a while (it takes 21 days to build a habit), it’ll be second nature (pun intended). 

When you start to feel unrest, anxiety, sadness, the 2 p.m. slump or even the itch to “doom scroll” your Instagram, instead go outside. Sit with the sun on your face. Feel and smell the grass. Walk slowly enjoying any trees, shrubs and flowers that are along your path.

Sit with the sun on your face. Feel and smell the grass.

2. Soil makes us happy.

It’s been scientifically proven that gardening reduces anxiety and depression. How? Soil contains microbes that when inhaled, mimic what serotonin does to our brains. What?! I know, it’s wild. 

Gardening, and literally digging in the dirt, increases happiness and relaxation while decreasing feelings of dissatisfaction. Place yourself in the way of good things and find a way to garden if you can. Perhaps, a small 2 x 4 ft. raised bed would fit on your patio, or find a community garden that you can become involved in!

3. Learn to rest, not quit.

When you’re weary and rundown, it’s common to want to throw in the towel on whatever is ailing you, whether that be relationships, jobs, projects, etc. Nothing is safe. Instead, rest and then reevaluate. I’m not talking about a 20-minute power nap where you awake to an alarm and remain groggy all day. I’m talking about active rest in nature.

Nature has a revitalizing effect on us because it entertains us while allowing us to escape mentally. It turns off the active thinking brain and allows the subconscious to take over a bit. Similar to meditation, being in nature allows the neural pathways in your brain to rebuild and heal. It changes up your environment and introduces calm. This is necessary for our bodies and brains, and it allows our cells to repair and, in turn, keeps us healthy, rested, happy and moving. 

Everyday wonder and miracles abound in nature. Seeds self-sow. Colors emerge that have never before been seen. Plants create medicine that heals us. Being in mere proximity to that kind of wonder will revive your weary soul. After all, we’re simply atoms and dust ourselves, belonging quite perfectly amongst the ferns and flowers. 

Everyday wonder and miracles abound in nature.

For absolutely no reason whatsoever other than your own joy, today go be in nature. See for yourself the difference in how you feel. 

How often do you intentionally spend time in nature? How do you feel after time spent outside?

Image via Zoe Lea

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Here I Go Again: How To Stop Self-Sabotaging

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Define the root cause.

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

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

2. Get support.

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

3. Engage in wellness activities.

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

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

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

Image via Jack Belli, Darling Issue No. 17

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How to Celebrate When You Are Feeling the Birthday Blues 

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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

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How Returning to Play Shaped My Relationship With My Father

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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

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Thrifting Guide: How to Get The Best Finds

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Source: Becca McHaffie | Unsplash

I like to consider myself a little bit of a thrifting connoisseur. There are few things that make me happier than getting a compliment on something I’m wearing or a piece of decor and being able to respond with, “Thank you, I got it at Goodwill!” However, the skill of being able to find great pieces in places like Salvation Army and Goodwill has taken years of practice. 

My love of thrifting—and really, of the hunt and thrill of finding something beautiful in a collection of junk—began at a young age. I learned from the best: my parents have always loved antiques and had them in our homes growing up. My dad and I consistently bonded over watching shows like American Pickers and Storage Wars, as well as browsing countless antique stores, thrift shops, and flea markets for a few great items. I collected vintage cameras for a long time, so hunting those down and finding one that I didn’t have yet was a favorite pastime of ours. Now that I’m older, we’ve moved on to tracking down the best secondhand furniture for my apartment. 

My passion for buying clothes from thrift stores came to fruition a little bit later. In middle school and high school, my cousin and I would drive 30 minutes to this hole-in-the-wall thrift store that had half off everything sales every Monday. We’d come out with huge bags of vintage clothes, always having spent less than $20. Nowadays, I like to go to my local Goodwill about once a month and see what they have to offer.

Here are some things that I’ve learned through my years of thrifting experience:

 

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose

I would say this is the golden rule of thrifting. You just have to go into it knowing that you might not find what you hoped you would, or you might not find anything at all. You also have to be very patient, because looking through racks and racks of hideous clothing can be draining and time-consuming. But I promise you that the thrill of finding that perfect piece for something like $2 is so worth it!

 





Source: Milad B. Fakurian | Unsplash

 

Step out of your comfort zone and keep an open mind

The other golden rule: you don’t go looking for things, they find you. It’s really rare to think of something you want when thrifting and then be able to go into a store and find exactly that. If that does happen, it’s an amazing treat, but I recommend keeping an open mind and letting the store speak to you (I know, sorry, but it’s true). And if you do have something in mind, keep it general, like “a cute midi skirt” not “a black midi skirt with a floral pattern.”

Step out of your comfort zone by checking out sections that you wouldn’t normally think to look in. I’ve found some of my best stuff in the men’s section, for example. Also, don’t be afraid to try on things that aren’t your “normal size.” You never know what might fit, and hey, that oversized look is super in right now. It’s much easier to not be disappointed in your thrift store experience when you’re super excited about a gem that you happened to find, instead of being bummed about not finding what you were looking for. 

 

Learn your favorite sections

This one is hugely important to master. If you don’t want to spend hours in the store, learn what sections usually work for you and where you find the most stuff that you like. Then you can get into a routine of hitting each of those sections, rather than wasting time trying to look at everything in the store.

Here’s what I do at my local Goodwill: walk in, go straight to men’s T-shirts (seriously one of the best sections—I’m always looking for cool and unique oversized graphic tees), and then work over to men’s jeans and jackets (more on that later). Then I like to do a quick glance over women’s dresses and tops and decide if it’s REALLY worth going through the trouble of sifting through some of the biggest sections of the store. Sometimes a pattern *cough, cough… leopard print* will stick out to me, then I’ll check it out. But honestly, usually it’s not worth it—there is sooooo much stuff, and a lot of it is… ugly.

If I do decide to go through this section, I will run my hand very quickly over the racks of things that could fit me, looking for textures or patterns that spark my interest and only pulling those out. I also pay attention to tags here, because sometimes you can find great true vintage pieces. I do always like to look through women’s skirts and pants, because they are relatively small sections that have produced some amazing finds. Next, I do a quick once-over of purses and accessories and see if anything catches my eye.

And then, on to my next tip… 

 





Source: Anastase Maragos | Unsplash

 

Thrift shopping isn’t just for clothes

A fairly recent addition to my list of favorite sections is home decor, especially baskets. I know that sounds weird, but the boho-style of wicker and rattan is a huge trend right now and thrift stores usually have a wide variety of baskets in different shapes, styles, and colors. I have also found the cutest planters, vases, frames, and glass pieces. The selection of home accent pieces is always so diverse that you can find something you love, no matter what your style is. You just might be surprised by how well some of the seemingly eclectic decor fits in your home. 

As I mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of buying secondhand furniture as well. In looking for great pieces, always be open to doing a little DIY project and seeing something for what it could be rather than what it is. You also just might come across an amazing deal on a high-end item. To show off his skills for a second, my dad just found a loveseat for me at the Habitat ReStore that had an original price tag of almost $1,500. We got it (still in great condition, but just slightly used) for $199.

 

Denim. Denim. Denim.

I couldn’t miss talking about this, because I am being 100 percent honest: I get my favorite and most-worn denim pieces from thrift stores. Like I said earlier, I always check out men’s jeans and jackets. My holy grail Levi’s jean shorts that I wear all summer long are men’s jeans that I cut off myself, and my favorite oversized jean jacket is from the men’s section of Goodwill as well. A few of my favorite pairs of “mom jeans” are from the women’s jeans sections of thrift stores. You can find brands that went out and came back in style, such as Gap, Lee, and Levi’s, in those flattering vintage-style fits that today’s brands have brought back.

 

Know the best stores

Another important key to success: know which thrift stores are the good ones, and which are best to avoid. Some stores just carry better stuff. Some are majorly overpriced. It might be worth driving a little further away in pursuit of a better selection. I’m lucky enough that the closest Goodwill to me has great stuff, but I’ve been in some horrible ones (I’m looking at you, college town Goodwill). For example, mine tends to have higher-end brands, so I always browse athletic wear and usually find Nike, Lululemon, Athleta, etc. However, I do highly recommend always checking out new thrift stores when you’re traveling, especially if you’re in a super cool city. Some of my greatest finds have happened while I’ve been on vacation.

 

So, now you know: thrifting is an art form. There’s nothing quite like tracking down those unique and one-of-a-kind pieces to curate a wardrobe or a home unlike anyone else’s. Now it’s time to get out there and enjoy the hunt.

 

Categories: RECIPES

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

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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

Categories: Uncategorized