Attend Our Last Class And Get Blogcademy Online For Free!

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This September marks the end of our live Blogcademy classes. Kat, Shauna and I are stuck into producing brand new projects — books, magazines and courses (among others!) — and we want to give them our full attention. Three years, over 1000 students, and a dozen cities later, it’s time to move onto other things. The Blogcademy has been an incredible ride, but you’ve gotta know when to shift your focus. For us, that time has come!

In September, we’re teaching our two final classes: San Francisco on September 12th and 13th, and New York City on September 19th and 20th. If you want to learn how to grow your blog, this is the place to be!

Of course, we’re going out with a bang… Which means we have a very special offer for you. This week, anyone who books into our SF or NY classes will also receive access to The Blogcademy Online, the digital version of our courses, worth $497, for FREE!

Blogcademy Online was filmed last year in London, and it’s the perfect way to refresh your memory of what you learned in class! With access forever, you can watch and re-watch the lessons as much as you like. You’ll also receive a bundle of extra homework, prompts and worksheets to keep you on track!

To qualify for the deal you need to book into either the San Francisco or New York workshop this week, before midnight on Sunday 2nd August. That’s it! We’ll send you access to the course after the live workshop.

You can find out all about the class and what we teach over on our dedicated website, and as always, if you have any questions before you book, just drop us a message and Kat will get right back to you.

Love forever,

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Radical Self Love Letters

“Whatever Forever”: On The Inherent Unsexiness Of Playing It Cool

The Inherent Unsexiness Of Playing It Cool

One afternoon, I sat on a kitchen counter in NYC, swinging my legs as I talked on the phone with one of my most devastating crushes. He had been in town the weekend before, and I had avoided him because he’d said something to me that I didn’t like. He was mad about the fact that I had sidestepped him. I was playing it cool, pretending to be above it, acting like I didn’t really, really like him.

But what he said to me during that phone-call stuck with me forever.

“Don’t act cool with me,” he said. “I just want you to be real. Be messy and embarrassing and tell me the truth. Be your twelve year old self, and I’ll be my twelve year old self, and it’ll be great.”

I’ve never forgotten that, and in some ways, it has become one of my guiding principles.

I know how tempting it is to play it cool, keep one foot out the door, not really say how you feel. To be coy and unavailable, to be afraid that if you brought your full enthusiasm to something, the fear of failure would be too great. That to bring your whole self would intimidate other people and scare them away.

But I also know that holding back your true feelings is just another form of playing small, not allowing your light to blaze through the sky. It’s a way of minimising who you are, of shrinking yourself down to be safe and obliging, of living for other people instead of yourself.

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No more wasting of time.

If you like her, tell her! If you want that job, ask for it! If you want to do something, start! Don’t withdraw; don’t hold back; don’t procrastinate. Give it all, especially when it makes your stomach flip.

The sexiest, most enticing, awesome thing on the planet is a person who is fully engaged with life. Get closer, get involved. Be curious, be enthusiastic. Soak it all up! Otherwise, you live a half-life, cowed by fear, marred with self-doubt, consumed by worry. The best way to love your life is throw yourself into it with gusto, right now.

The real pleasure begins when you admit what you don’t know; when you make mistakes; when you say, “I’m new at this: show me what you know!” It’s in having the confidence to take the stance of a beginner, and not being embarrassed about it.

Allow yourself to become alive with joy. Drop the pretenses and artifice. Show us who you really are. Tell us your dreams so we can help you make them come true. Let joy radiate through everything you do. Bring your energy and life-force to every interaction. Don’t be afraid of who you are.

“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” — e. e. cummings

Get it!

Photo from the Ruby lookbook and truthbomb from Danielle LaPorte.

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A Super-Feel-Good Playlist For The Summer

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As many of you know, in my wildest fantasies, I am a superstar DJ. Or a music producer. Or something that requires wearing headphones for a large portion of the day.

I’ve been working on a playlist of songs that I’m loving right now. I started it in the Spring, and now it’s almost 10 hours long. It is all stuff that makes me feel good, and that I hope will make you feel good too.

Press shuffle. Turn it up. And enjoy…

Queen of living room dance parties,

P.S. Was this post just an excuse to share a photo of Ruby Rose, who is almost certainly the most beautiful person on the planet? Yes, maybe.

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Italy: Gelato, Priests, And Crumbling Old Architecture

Priests in Rome!

Dear Italy, how are you so beautiful? After our breakneck trip to Marrakech, we knew Italy would be a change of pace, but we had no idea how different!

These trips were totally life-enhancing. Nothing can remind you of the intense beauty of the world — and gently prompt you to think bigger than your own bubble — than travelling around and seeing things you’ve never seen before. When I told my father we were going to Italy, he said, “You’ll come back a different person.” I thought this was a sweet piece of hyperbole, but — as is often the case with my father — he was right. Italy changed all of us for the better. What an incredibly charming, elegant, divine country.

As with Morocco, I have a massive photo overload post on its way… But I also put together a video of some of our adventures in Rome that I hope you enjoy! (A video about Florence is coming, too.)

Click play below to watch the video and pretend you were with us on our whirlwind trip! (If you’re reading this via email, click here for the video!)

 

Gosh, Italy. I never knew I’d love you so much. Next time, we’re definitely going to hit up the Amalfi Coast… And stay for a much longer time!

Ciao bella!

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Morocco: A Day Of Delights!

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Morocco is the place of my technicolour dreams. It is such an incredible country. I had high hopes for Marrakech, but didn’t really know what to expect, and I was blown away. Let me first say that if you love vibrant colours, incredible architecture, hot temperatures, and not constantly being within spitting distance of a Starbucks, you have to go to Morocco.

I completely understand the people who pack up all their worldly possessions and move, seemingly on a whim, to this amazing country in North Africa. I’m tempted to do the same myself!

Here, then, is my love letter to Morocco, in the form of a travel diary…

Fresh off the plane from London, we arrived in Marrakech in the afternoon. Even the immigration area of the airport — typically the world’s most unglamorous place, as those of you who travel a lot are well aware — was decorated with hand-carved tiles. Helloooooo! Once we’d handed our passports to a crew of extremely handsome Moroccan immigration officers (again, a stark contrast to what you experience everywhere else in the world), we were pretty sure this was going to be a trip in every sense of the word! We picked up our suitcases and met the driver who transported us to our hotel, El Fenn. (We organised this through the hotel and it made everything much less stressful.)

The airport is awe-inspiring, and looks like it is covered in elaborate ribbons of lace. It’s funny, as soon as I walked out of the airport, I felt the same feeling I had when I first got to NYC. Unless you’ve experienced it, it’s hard to describe: it feels like your energy and the energy of the city are one and the same. I was practically jumping out of my skin with excitement as we wheeled our suitcases to the van, and greedily drank everything in with my eyes as we drove towards the hotel.

I had never been somewhere like this before. The sun was just starting to set, and the whole sky was pale blue and flecked with pink and orange streaks. The streets are lined with palm and orange trees, and the road is almost entirely lawless. The paradox of the beautiful, calm sky, set against the chaos around us made my brain light up like a pinball machine. There seem to be no lanes, and the road is shared with people on bicycles, scooters, donkeys, and people pulling enormous trailer-loads of everything imaginable. I loved seeing women in hijab and sunglasses, whizzing past on motorcycles. They looked so cool.

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As we drove through the streets which were teeming with people, cars, and everything else you can imagine, we were in awe. I don’t really know what Kat and Shauna were thinking, but I was overwhelmed with thoughts, excitement, and nervousness. I was loving it and I felt so alive.

All of a sudden, we came to an abrupt stop in the middle of a crowded area. The driver got out and started unloading our suitcases. We were a little anxious: where was our hotel?! But as we followed him through a few twists and turns, we realised that our hotel was tucked off a little alleyway, hidden away in the Medina.

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Talk about an oasis of calm amidst the chaos. El Fenn is a staggering hotel. Owned by Richard Branson’s sister Vanessa, she and her partner purchased the property when it was an old, crumbling private home, and have transformed it into a luxurious, colour-soaked, truly unique hotel. It was the perfect place for us to stay.

Since there were four of us, we spent our first night in two Courtyard Rooms, and then moved into a Family Suite for the remainder of our time.

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The room Shauna and I stayed in was vibrant red, with beautiful lanterns illuminating the roof and a creepy but wonderful portrait over the fireplace. A turquoise pool glowed in one of the (many) courtyards, floor lamps cascaded down stairs, and the floor flickered with candlelight on green tiles.

El Fenn is absolutely loaded with lanterns which shine fragments of light all around the walls. They are insanely gorgeous. I want to hang a hundred all over my apartment!

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If you’re heading to Morocco, get ready to drink a lot of peppermint tea. Traditionally, you’ll drink three glasses, and the flavour changes as the tea deepens and transforms. There’s even an old Maghrebi proverb about it, which goes “Le premier verre est aussi doux que la vie, le deuxième est aussi fort que l’amour, le troisième est aussi amer que la mort.” Translation: The first glass is as gentle as life, the second glass is as strong as love, the third glass is as bitter as death. (Thanks, Wikipedia!)

On the first morning, I woke up so excited. I slithered into a truly psychedelic Mara Hoffman kaftan and enormous Prada sunglasses. Always understated! I was READY for a day of shopping!

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But first, we needed to have breakfast. We headed to the rooftop terrace for a delicious buffet: Moroccan eggs (cooked in tomato sauce), teeny-tiny sausages, foamy lattes, and big glasses of unbelievably fresh orange juice. I mean, I could have sat there all day, gorging myself… But there was a whole city to explore!

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Then we sat on an amethyst daybed accented by red, pink and yellow roses as we waited for our guide to show up. His name was Abdel and he lead us all over the medina, showing us to the best slipper shops, into a traditional Moroccan apothecary, and through the winding alleyways.

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If you’re heading to Marrakech, I’d recommend having a guide (at least for the first day). The medina is intense, with no logical layout, and the odds of getting lost are extremely high! It’s also not expensive at all to have someone show you around. We paid 300 dirham which was $30 US for the entire day. (By the way, this conversion rate made shopping dangerously convenient and easy. Just take a zero off the price? Well, don’t mind if I do!)

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The entire medina is made from a salmon-coloured clay and chalk. Apparently the reason everything is this colour is because it reflects the heat! (But don’t be fooled, it is still HOT HOT HOT.) Walking through these crooked little streets was such a life highlight. You absolutely never knew what you’d see next.

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Partners in crime since 2008. I’m convinced we were sisters in another life. There is way too much synergy between us.

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Gorgeous. By the way, haggling is still a major part of shopping in the souks. There are no prices on anything. You always have to ask… And then the fun begins!

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My first purchase was a hot pink Moroccan wedding blanket from this gentleman… And that set the tone for the rest of the day. I initially intended on holding out for a while before going crazy on textiles, but I just took the plunge and I’m so glad I did! (The blanket is currently draped over my couch, bringing a whole lot of colour and sparkle to Darling HQ!)

We weaved in and out of stalls and stores, buying scarves, rugs, blankets, cosmetics, amber perfume, leather slippers with gold hamsa embroidery, and kaftans… Drool.

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Oh, don’t mind us. We’ll just be over here, ogling your fabric!

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Doesn’t David look dashing? I wish he’d bought this. Such a wasted opportunity! Regal as fuck!

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Another day, another donkey.

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My favourite people to travel with. So much ridiculousness, so little time.

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The medina winds and weaves, and is absolutely loaded with things to delight the hell out of anyone who walks past. There are tiled pillars and bright walls, stray cats, vendors selling everything you could possibly imagine, and dilapidated but beautiful doors which conceal the homes behind them.

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One thing I always find slightly disappointing about travel is that, a lot of the time, the shops are full of the same stuff. It’s all a bit homogeneous. I am extremely happy to tell you: Marrakech is not like this. There are 18 souks in Marrakech alone, employing over 40,000 people! So much of what you can find there is handcrafted and totally unique. It was like being in heaven.

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Abdel took us to this shop where the man above learnt metalwork from his father, and now makes these enormous padlocks, chests, keys, and other amazing things. So fantastic! But a little too heavy for my suitcase…

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After a few hours, we were exhausted from all the heat and excitement. It was time to go back to the hotel and relax…

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After a couple of hours spent relaxing by the pool, eating french fries and chicken kebabs, and drinking cocktails, we headed out to a restaurant for dinner.

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I don’t know what the restaurant was called, but that’s okay, because I wouldn’t recommend it anyway. We still enjoyed ourselves, ate tagine, and Shauna and I joined a Moroccan band. Pretty sweet!

Our first day in Morocco was so big, and our second day was wonderful too. Stay tuned!

Love and peppermint tea,

Photos by David McNeil (with the exception of the lantern and our red bedroom).


P.S. If you haven’t picked up your copy of Radical Self Love yet, you only have until Sunday! xo

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