Darling Letters: The Renewal That Comes With a New Season

A photo of a plant with the moon in the background

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.

The other day, I stepped into my garden right after a morning rain shower stopped. I inhaled the exhilarating smell of the rain and celebrated the raindrops that glittered like diamonds on the white flower petals. I took adoring photos of my plants and wrote a poem to commemorate the moment.

As I reflected, I realized that hope had slowly crept into my heart just as shyly as the flowers in the garden had bloomed. I felt relieved and grateful that spring had arrived within me as well. 

I felt relieved and grateful that spring had arrived within me as well. 

There were times recently when I believed darkness had won and defeat would remain, but those moments did not last. I am learning that paying attention to the seasons helps me listen inwardly as well.

The vernal equinox marks the beginning of spring when there are almost equal amounts of daylight and darkness balancing each other out. My tired soul rejoices for this—for more balance and a new beginning. It’s felt like a long time since last spring. 

May we grow more attuned to the seasons of our hearts. This spring, let’s accept earth’s invitation to spend more time in the sunlight. Let us step into the light for renewal knowing that a change within is what will follow and remain.

May we grow more attuned to the seasons of our hearts.

With love,

Cristina Amaro, the Darling family

What new beginnings does spring usher in? Are there any inward signs that you notice within yourself when the seasons change?

Image via Judith Pavón Sayrach


5 Things to Do For Your Business This Month

The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to take stock of your business’s success over the past 12 months and areas where you have opportunities for growth or transitions. If you’re feeling excited about where to take your business in 2021, it’s time to capitalize on this ideation period and focus on the key things that will help you reach your goals while maintaining your boundaries. We’ve put together five important checks to make this month—from deepening your understanding of your clients to refreshing your digital presence (with a little help from our go-to website building platform, Squarespace). 


Start your free Squarespace trial today (no credit card required) and use code ‘EVERYGIRL’ for 10% off when you’re ready to publish your website.


1. Understand your value drivers

If you’ve been in business for five months or five years, understanding what is resonating with your audience is a huge factor in deepening engagement, brand loyalty, and repeat customers, readers, or viewers. Sometimes knowing what is working and what isn’t feels intuitive, but don’t skimp on the actual data. Take a look at your last six months of operation—where did your customers or viewers come from? What was your most popular product, service, or blog post? Make a master list of everywhere you accumulate data from, including social media, email marketing, accounting software, and your website. 

If the amount of analytics available feels overwhelming, remember to hone in on the essentials. Just because something is available to track, doesn’t mean it will be useful to you and your particular biz. I love the analytics available in Squarespace, because they put the most important information I need at the forefront and make it super easy to navigate traffic and sales through my website. One feature that has been a game-changer for my small business is the abandoned cart analytics. I can easily see how many people are adding products to their cart on my site, but not checking out. Then, I can troubleshoot ways to get that percentage lower, from sending an abandoned cart recovery email (plus I can auto-send these reminders in Squarespace!) to offering sales to repricing or retiring certain products. 



Now as a next step, take a look at the last six months of how you are spending your time. What takes up the bulk of your days? Are they activities that directly align with and enable those revenue flows? You may have to do a bit of connecting the dots here. (Appearing as a guest on someone’s podcast, for example, probably drove some follows to your Insta that resulted in business there.)

The key to growing your business is understanding, with precision, where you are undertaking activities that either create value or eat up your time with few results. Adjust accordingly!


2. Map out client personas

With a better understanding of your value drivers, you’re positioned to revisit your dream client. When you started your business, you probably already did this to some extent. But as you really get your feet under you, who your clients are will change and evolve. You learn a lot along the way in those first few years, and gain a much clearer sense of who your key customer is.

To truly build a successful business long term, you need to know exactly who you’re serving. It’s not sufficient to say your life coaching services “help busy women everywhere.” That big of a population makes it incredibly difficult to create an effective marketing strategy, because you’d need to reach and appeal to too wide a cross-section of needs and interests. Instead, take a day and do some deep digging on your customers, and build a few dream client personas. What are their goals? How do they spend free time? What do they value? Why are they on social media? Getting super granular allows you to build a vision of a customer that creates more opportunities for you to connect with them and add unique value. Don’t be afraid to lean into a niche—that’s where your unique services and your ideal clients will connect. Need help narrowing in on your niche? Read this. 



3. Refresh your digital presence

With a fresh perspective on who your dream client is, it’s time to align your digital presence accordingly. Your social media, website, and messaging should be highly aligned with your core mission, key audience, and overall business goals. If you’ve been in the game for a while, or, if you’re quickly getting more clarity on your target audience, it might be time for a refresh.

Enroll a trusted friend to take a look at your social media and any other digital channels with fresh eyes. Or, do a short survey to past clients or newsletter subscribers. Ask them for feedback on functionality, content, and the vibe they’re getting. Do they know things about your value, style, and business proposition that don’t seem readily reflected? It doesn’t take a complete brand overhaul to continue to refine and align your virtual presence to your value proposition. Think about adding new content, refreshing some photography, or rearranging your bio. Small tweaks add up.

Now is also a great time to check in with your website. (Not sure if you need a website? Read this.) Have a friend review your site and note any questions that come up. Is it hard to find your contact information? Is it clear what you do and where customers, clients, or readers should be led after landing on your site? If you need help with layout, we highly recommend our platform of choice, Squarespace. You can choose from dozens of templates and get started right away. Replace the demo content with your own and you’re ensured a beautiful site that is also functional and lead-generating. Win, win. 



4. Invest in the boss

As a business owner, it’s easy to put yourself last on the list. For many of us, you’re a one-woman show, the Chief Do-er, planner, Executive Assistant—the list goes on. But when that’s the case and it’s all riding on you, it’s even more important that you invest in yourself. You are your business. 

This can look a million different ways, but it’s a good time to reflect on what investing in the CEO of your business looks like. It could mean you’re ready to put some new boundaries in place: for example, not scheduling any client meetings on Mondays. Or, it could mean setting new payment terms on invoicing to better manage your cash flow. It may also mean that you need to set aside some money or time for classes that can continue to elevate your executive presence. This could look like major industry conferences or skill builders like joining a toastmasters club to get better at speaking in public.


Source: Social Squares


5. Define how you give back

It’s increasingly important to understand how your business not only creates financial value, but also how it fits into larger societal good. How do you give back? This is a really exciting space to start to define your goals. And, even the smallest of small businesses have ways to do this.

Get creative. Do you have the ability to discount services to other women-owned or minority-owned businesses? Could you offer a free webinar on a particular topic to people who show a receipt for donating to a cause you care about? What about planting a tree for every package you ship? You don’t need to be a million dollar business to define and act on your goals in this space.


Start your free Squarespace trial today (no credit card required) and use code ‘EVERYGIRL’ for 10% off when you’re ready to publish your website.



This post is sponsored by Squarespace, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board.



What I Learned About Posing From Ashley Graham’s Photos

Ashley Graham. That’s it, that’s the article. She was the first plus-size model that I could truly see myself in. She had hips, boobs, booty, and tummy, and flaunted it before I even knew it was OK to do so.

As the first plus-size model to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated, she brought new life to the conversations of body positivity, fat-phobia, and the lack of inclusivity in the fashion industry.

For me personally, her style and the way she moves her body with confidence are so inspiring to me. Ashley Graham was the reason I put on a bikini again after years of avoiding them, but that’s a story for another day.  

To the folks who love to take pictures and post them on the ‘gram, you know how hard it is to draw inspiration for new pictures whilst in the middle of this pandemic. Moreover, for my curvy girls, there’s always someone out there telling us how to pose to hide aspects of our bodies that we should be insecure about, but guess what? I’m not hiding my beautiful body from the world, that would be doing society a disservice.  

I’m always searching for new content inspiration, so this week I decided to draw from the inspirer herself. I did a deep-dive into Ashley Graham’s Instagram portfolio and attempted to recreate some of my favorite poses. If you’re looking to spice up your Instagram content, join me in what I’m calling the #PostLikeAshleyGraham challenge. (Which isn’t a real challenge, but maybe it should be!).


Pose like a boss

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A post shared by A S H L E Y G R A H A M (@ashleygraham)


My take


This pose is all about the leg. Pop that leg out, throw that head back, and pose with confidence. What drew me to this photo initially was the fact that she was able to create eye-catching shapes with such effortless movement. I’m honestly disappointed in myself for not matching her with my face shield, but I guess I’ll have to save that for another day! 



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A post shared by A S H L E Y G R A H A M (@ashleygraham)


My take


I love my little bookshelf, so I had to try this one. I wanted to recreate this pose because  I’m a big fan of content that invites the viewer into the less glamorous parts of the creator’s life. It shows that no one is always on vacation, no matter how many throwbacks they post. 


Use props

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A post shared by A S H L E Y G R A H A M (@ashleygraham)


My take


You might even say I’ve got the juice (wink, wink). Can we just pause to marvel at how effortlessly gorgeous Ashley Graham is? If you know me, you know I love an athleisure look, so I just had to attempt this recreation. I grabbed my favorite cold-pressed lemonade and my sustainable straw to co-star in this photo. Spice up your Instagram feed with everyday props to create photos that feel a bit less posed and more like someone just caught you living your life. 


First, let me take a selfie

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A post shared by A S H L E Y G R A H A M (@ashleygraham)


My take


Here’s the thing: every day is a good day for some selfie love. Not that you need it, but I’m giving you an excuse to do your makeup, get all glammed up with some of your favorite jewelry, and strike a fierce look in front of your ring light or window (good lighting is key). 


I’m on vacation

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A post shared by A S H L E Y G R A H A M (@ashleygraham)


My take


I can’t lie, this pose was harder than it looked. I thought it’d be as simple as just walking away and looking back slightly, but you really have to turn your body in a way that feels a bit unnatural. Pro tip: to recreate this photo, play the song Vacation by Sam Hunt, and record a video instead of trying to just get one photo. You can screenshot the video and then use an app like Remini to make the screenshot just as clear as a photo would have been.


Mirror, mirror, on the wall

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A post shared by A S H L E Y G R A H A M (@ashleygraham)


My take


Who’s the sexiest of them all? It’s you, girl! Mirror pics are a staple piece of social media and they age like fine wine. Next time you put on your favorite outfit, do a mirror check and make sure to take your phone. 

To everyone who reads this, even if you don’t try any of these poses, I hope you feel empowered to post that picture. You’re beautiful just the way you are and that is worth sharing.


How I Found Confidence Again

A woman's reflection in a mirror that has the decal "be confident--you got this."

Growing up, I was a confident girl. I organized kickball games in the cul-de-sac where I lived. I memorized and recited the Declaration of Independence for a speech meet. Once when I spent the night at a friend’s house, I recruited her two older brothers to do relays with us up and down their hallway.

As a teenager, I was the captain of my volleyball team. I led a small group in my youth group. On the morning of my 15th birthday, my mom took me to get my learner’s permit, and I drove home from the office on one of the busiest highways in town. 

Confidence was always something that came naturally to me. My transition to college, however, was a difficult one. The number of people on my campus overwhelmed me. I missed the familiarity of the people I had grown up with. Early adulthood diminished the light I possessed in my adolescent years.

The scary part was that I didn’t know how to make it brighter again. I had begun to lose my way and with that, my confidence waned. 

So I tried moving to another country. The women native to my new country of residence were extremely beautiful—not only in their looks but also in how they carried themselves. They wore heels to run errands on Saturday mornings and fake eyelashes to work. They greeted me with embraces and cheek kisses, and they fussed over me when I visited their homes.

Slowly but surely, I found myself comparing myself to their version of beauty. Comparing myself to them extinguished my light completely. 

Comparing myself to [these women] extinguished my light completely. 

Years later, when my daughter was born, I threw all my energy into teaching her how to hold a spoon, then on how to take her first steps and how to say “please” when she wanted something. Early motherhood was so demanding that it was easy to ignore my insecurities and the feeling that I was living less than whole. 

A few months before my daughter’s third birthday, my world fell apart. I was met with one of life’s unexpected blows, and my heart was broken. At first, I cried, I asked why, and I let myself be a victim. After a few months of this, I thought about the life I wanted to create for my daughter, and I decided to move back home.

Soon after returning home, I played in an alumni volleyball game for my high school team. During the game, I served, jumped to block and bent my knees enough to dig. For those few hours on the volleyball court, I felt my confidence returning. For a moment, I remembered what it was like to be 17 and the captain of my volleyball team—17 and confident, 17 and alive.

I smiled the entire game. I knew what it was like to live diminished. I wanted to live again. I wanted to light a new fire in my bones, body and heart. 

I wanted to live again. I wanted to light a new fire in my bones, body and heart. 

It has been a few months since the volleyball game. Now, I have a new job. Every day that I am there, I am surprised by how much I like the job and how much I like the people I work with. I wake up early to write and pack my daughter’s lunch for preschool. I make my lunch for work, and after I get off work, I take care of my daughter until she goes to sleep. As I make my way through my daily routine, I am finding my way again.

Just as my daughter watched me play in the alumni volleyball game, high-fiving me during time-outs, I know she is watching me in life. Watching me pack those lunches, seeing me go to work and hearing me say that I am tired but still choosing to take care of her. My daughter is watching me put one foot in front of the other, even when it’s hard. She is watching me choose to live again.

Instead of “living with a broken heart,” I think of it as living because of the broken heart. The broken heart was what propelled me forward, opening my eyes to a full and beautiful life that, for a long time, I had only been living halfway. 

The broken heart was what propelled me forward, opening my eyes to a full and beautiful life.

I once was a confident girl. Then, I became a confident teenager. This is the year that finally, I became a confident woman.

Have you ever gone through an experience that crushed your confidence? How did you find your way again?

Image via Tony Li


Women, We Did This

An illustration of an older woman in a kimono

I look into my tía’s eyes
Her eyes are red with anguish
For my sister who is in labor
I can’t even look into my mother’s eyes
I know I’ll see my sister’s screams there too
We agonize when the women we love are in pain
We agonize when we know the pain ourselves
It’s over, oh thank God, it’s over
A baby boy, skin bright red, is yelling
I look around the room and my heart swells with pride
To see it was all women side by side
The doctor, nurses, mothers, tías, sisters
We have always ushered in life
Since the beginning
We are innately empowered and gifted
We have not always been thus uplifted
Triumph gleaming out of every eye
We did this 

Something so strong I had witnessed
The intrinsic, unbreakable bond between women
That has also withstood the ages
We are tied and tethered, and when we work together
We are powerful beyond understanding
Beyond the words that can be expressed
Women, our power breaks through the pages
Like the rising sun that spreads across the canyons
Filling every cold, dark crevice with light
Strength that makes the world go ‘round
We did this 

A mother with a swollen belly
Torn between two countries
Forced to leave behind her little girls
Crosses the border to give birth to her son
She risks her life for her family
She sacrifices all for the children yet unseen
For a dream far out of reach from the between
Who can understand this?
This granddaughter can
She did it for me and she did it for us
Her legacy is her daughters having daughters
Who no longer have to risk their lives crossing waters
Her legacy is granddaughters traveling the world with ease
Granddaughters graduating with their Master’s Degrees
Abuela, you did this
We did this 

We honor the women who have done the crossing for us
We remember the women wiping tear-stained eyes in the dust
Whose hearts broke to leave their own mothers behind
Whose worn feet, hands and backs
Tell the story of love poured out under the scorching sun
In their memory, we find our strength to run
We are the seeds you birthed in grief
We grow and flourish beneath your radiance
Like the bougainvillea plant Mami loves so much
We, the next generation, emit the most joyful fragrance
We did this 

My sister refuses to get out of bed
All desire for living drained out of her young eyes
She scribbles swirls of darkness onto a white page
This is what’s happening inside of me she says
Sisters on a sunny day begging her to get out of bed and live
Women surround her; we have life to give
Pastors, therapists, mothers, sisters
Please tell us your pain
We love you; let us help you
Little sister, you choose to face your pain
We walk with you toward the light
We carefully tend to the tiny flame of life
Healing wraps her gentle arms around you
You find the courage and strength deep within
Now you are becoming a therapist to guide others
Through the healing labor of birthing wholeness
You did this
We did this 

Women, we succeed when we all thrive
There is nothing we cannot overcome
There is no one we cannot become
There is no seed we cannot nurture
There is no wound we cannot suture
Since time immemorial
Uplifted by our powerful history
We walk with our heads held high
Triumph gleaming in our eyes
As we look to each other and proclaim
We did this  

Image via Agata Rek, Darling Issue No. 22