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Embracing your emotional self without judgment has never been so beautiful.

If you're gonna get real, this is a great way to do it.

Embracing your emotional self without judgment has never been so beautiful.

Who can deny the release and relief of a good cry? Go on, admit it. I won't tell anyone.

Yet many of us (and often men in particular) are culturally shamed away from showing the kind of vulnerability or softness — in other words, our mushy side.

That's exactly why we need artist Lora Mathis' series "Radical Softness." It's a celebration of the mushier side of life and a challenge to our culture that places stoic maleness on a pedestal.



Image via Lora Mathis, used with permission.

The images are an ongoing series of beautiful, saturated florals, with pointed, smart, and incisive statements superimposed on vases, journals, and walls.

But what exactly is radical softness?

"Radical softness is the idea that sharing your emotions is a political move and a tactic against a society which prioritizes a lack of emotions," Lora said.

Go on.

"Our society equates toughness to being guarded and devoid of feelings. It writes off emotional reactions, especially those of femmes, as over-dramatic and invalid. I was sick of feeling weak for being emotional and struggling."

Image via Lora Mathis, used with permission.

I first found Lora's work on Tumblr, where over 2,500 people have liked or shared her work. Lora also has a popular Etsy store called staysoft, where she presents her empowering, sensitive, and fierce art.

"The work is meant to show that strength doesn't have to mean swallowing your emotions. There's strength in healing and vulnerability. There's power in softness."


Image via Lora Mathis, used with permission.

She's right.

There's so much power in softness. By showing that side of ourselves, we humans can be reminded of our own humanity. I'm not saying that means we should all cry all the time ... but if we do, there's nothing wrong with it.


Image via Lora Mathis, used with permission.

"Strength does not have to mean turning off how you feel and being guarded," Lora said.

"It can be sharing yourself openly," she added. "It can be putting energy into healing. It can be documenting your vulnerability in order to make others feel less alone. It can be refusing to be sorry for how you feel."

Image via Lora Mathis, used with permission.

If you think about it, not crying, emoting, or showing your feelings at all is oppressive to everyone. It's tough on the person who feels like they can't show their feelings, and it's tough on their family and friends left forever wondering, "What's going on in there?"

Lora's art is meant to answer that question and provide prompts for others as they heal and express themselves, just as she does.

"The statements pop into my head as I think about my healing process," Lora said. "My instinct when I break down is to beat myself up for reacting that way."

"The phrases act as personal reminders me that it is OK to have a hard time and cry and be soft," she explained.

And Lora's not stopping there. Aside from her Etsy shop, she's working on an art piece on "Radical Softness" for a traveling show this winter and spring through Alt Space in Brooklyn.

Image via Lora Mathis, used with permission.

Though, as Lora said, she creates her work to "process [her] feelings and heal," the more her art spreads, the more she hears from people it has touched.

"When others reach out to tell me how my work has affected them, it proves that work is bigger than the feelings that inspired it."

May every semi-emotionally-repressed person please notice just how much love there is out there for you, your tears, and your humanity.

I'm sharing this in case there's someone who needs to know that.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
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This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

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Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."