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FLAG F I N I S H

“The way to measure your progress is backward against where you started, not against your ideal.”

– DAN S U L L I V AN

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I’m a notorious idealist. I tend to set my eyes on lofty goals and choose to see life through an idealistic lens. It wasn’t until recently that I realized this might actually be setting me back versus helping me attain those goals. So let’s break down progress and success on the two therories of ideals vs goals.

An ideal is one’s concept of perfection. It strictly exsists in one’s imagination and is unlikely to become reality. A goal is a product of one’s effort or ambition. An aim that is specific and measureable.

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Here are some facts about ideals:

  1. They’re general and immeasurable
  2. They are constantly changing as you grow and change
  3. The measurement of yourself of where you currently are against your ideals creates unhappiness
  4. If you don’t have a way to measure your progress it’ll be hard to stick with it
  5. They’re distant and abstract

Here are some facts on happiness in relation to success:

  1. When you fail to appreciate where you are right now, you miss out on the benefits of mindfulness, and the journey to the desired “destination.”
  2. If you don’t take time to reflect on your progress, you miss all the small wins along the way therefore have less gratitude, confidence and joy. Without happiness, gratitude and confidence, you won’t want to imagine or create more goals.
  3. If you can’t measure your success, you can’t verify progress, which creates negative emotions versus confidence (a proven by product of success)
  4. The anticipation of success is almost always more powerful than the event itself
  5. Happiness is the secret to success

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Therefore, it’s safe to say our ideals should not be our benchmark for growth and achievement. Rather, ideals should be a source to create specific and challenging long-term goals. When you take the time to reflect and measure your progress, you’ll enable yourself to set powerful goals with clarity as these goals will be created from a place of confidence, happiness, and gratitude. Most importantly, they will be tangible. 

How do we do this? We transistion from ‘The Gap’ to ‘The Gain’ as Dan Sullivan calls it. This means focusing less on the ideals and more on the progess in relation to your starting point! The Gap, or ideal, can feel daunting and as if you’ve made zero progress due to their distant nature. Psychologically, you can also begin to dig yourself into a ditch as you tend to see all the time/energy you’ve used as a waste as you’re still not where you “need” to be.

Rather with ‘The Gain’ mindset, you measure your growth against your starting point. You’ll naturally begin to feel a sense of progress and forward movement as a result. This in return produces an emotion of satisfaction and happiness and ultimately motivates you to continue on your path to growth and achievement.

So let’s just sayfor a second that I would like to make a lofty goal for myself for the year of 2018: That is I want to attain a Sports Illustrated body! Now this isn’t very measurable nor is it specific for that matter. However if I set goals and live in the ‘The Gain’ mentality, I can then go in each month and set smaller, tangible goals such as attending Buti Yoga twice a week. This is a tangible goal I can measure at the month’s end. I can also compare myself from my staring point to map out my phyiscal progress.

I think this is a very important discussion to have in this day an age with all the media we choose to absorb online and out in the world. We all want to be our own boss, have a successful business and home life and of course make loads of money. On the downside we all at one time or another have fallen victim to unrealistic comparison, whether it’s photoshopped bodies we see all over Instagram or the perfection of someone’s feed. I think when it comes down to it, we all just want to be the best versions of ourselves and to that notion, I commend the.

I’m not saying ideals are completely terrible. There is defintiely a time and place for going general and daydreaming (primarily when you lack clarity or you’re building a long-term vision). More so what I’m saying is in order to stay on track, make sure you’re also taking the time to build the specific and attainable goals (with clarity). Know when to use them but also learn to keep up and adjust each accordingly as you change and grow.

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More-gain,

M

 

Photography: Nat Sin of Style Cruise

 

 

 

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| SPECIAL GUEST: KRIS JONES |

“A person who sees a problem is a human being; a person who finds a solution is a visionary; and the person who goes out and does something about it is an entrepreneur.”

– N A V E E N JAIN

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This month I had the pleasure of getting to know Kris Jones. A father, entrepreneur and a true rags-to-riches success story. He is the founder of not one but several apps including, Special Guest AppLSEO.comReferLocal.comFrench Girls App, and APPEK Mobile Apps. He grew a multi-million dollar business while in grad school at Villanova and he sold a separate business to eBay after law school at Albany Law. If that doesn’t give you a dose of motivation I don’t now what will.

As someone who focuses a lot of my time and energy on self-help and personal/professional development, I’m always searching for new tools that will take me to the next level (as I’m sure you do too). The best way to stay inspired is to surround yourself with the wise and great. Kris has achieved huge success and is willing to share some of his secrets with us. In this discussion, we explore the entrepreneur psychology,  how to successfully set goals, and what must be developed to get an idea off the ground.

Before we start, I would like to share a side note and small world ‘coincidence.’ After we connected online, I found that Kris attended law school in my hometown of Albany, NY. How serendipitous that we both share that ‘Albany to Los Angeles’ familiarity. It’s truly inspiring to see someone who had no network and still become wildly successful. With that being said, let’s get right to it, enjoy this month’s special guest, Kris Jones!

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What are your top laws/rules for success?

KJ: Execution over ideas. I’m a doer. I believe strongly that success doesn’t come from ideas, but rather the execution of those ideas. Building up confidence and skills that leads to successfully executing goals is my super power. Everyone has untapped God-given potential.

The key to success is believing that you can accomplish just about anything you set your mind to. You don’t have to wait. You can take action right now. It all starts with the first step toward your destiny. Don’t sit on the sidelines. Get in the game.

What’s one book you would suggest for any budding entrepreneur?

KJ: The Lean Start-up by Eric Ries

What’s the one psychological skill/mental muscle you believe one should develop to succeed?

KJ: Confidence.

Clearly you know how to set lofty goals (100 episodes of ‘Ask Me Anything’). How do you set goals that are big yet attainable?

KJ: It takes practice. One way to increase the likelihood that you accomplish a goal is to share it with loved ones and make it public – we don’t like to disappoint others so it’s more likely that we won’t come up with reasons to quit something once we set a goal and take action. I don’t recommend that people set realistic goals. Realistic goals tend to be puny and are not inspiring.

Instead, I recommend setting goals that are uncomfortable. Uncomfortable goals are stretch goals – they give us little choice but to take immediate action toward the goal. For instance, at the beginning of 2017 I set a goal of creating 100 “Ask Me Anything” videos focused on personal and professional development. For people that don’t know me – (like most of you) I have a lot going on managing multiple businesses, writing monthly for publications like Forbes, Inc., and Search Engine Land, 3 kids, yada, yada, yada. So the idea of coordinating and finding time to shoot 100 videos in 1 year bordered on crazy. In fact, in the final weeks I received a message from someone saying “Kris – it’s OK that you aren’t going to accomplish your goal. It’s hard to accomplish all the goals we set, etc….” Indeed I accomplished the goal by the end of 2017 (with a band might I add) and I was able to do that because I created incredible momentum by setting an “uncomfortable” goal instead of a puny one that was realistic. 

You’ve touched on the necessity of being risk averse as an entrepreneur in one of your interviews. Are there any techniques one could use to strengthen and/or develop this quality?

When I use the word “risk averse” as an entrepreneur I’m referring to something I learned from the author / speaker Malcolm Gladwell at a conference the two of us spoke at 5 or so years ago. In short, he referenced that SUCCESSFUL entrepreneurs are social risk takers, but operationally risk averse. He went on to describe that as social risk takers SUCCESSFUL entrepreneurs don’t care much if people tell them they have a bad idea or that what they are attempting to do has a low probability of success. However, at the same time the SUCCESSFUL entrepreneur is plotting our a highly specific plan from A to Z to execute on his or her idea.

See my response above about how important execution is in success. So the key to building muscle around execution (in effect being operationally risk averse) is to learn and master business skills, such as financial analysis, growth marketing, mobile / web / product development, branding, etc. Again, one of the reasons why “ideas are overrated” is because having an idea isn’t enough – you’ve got to master how to take an idea and turn it into a business – that requires learned skills around business execution. Once you do that (it’s an ongoing process) your odds of business success go up dramatically.

What do you attribute your success to?

KJ: I believe in my potential to be successful. Success is part psychology and part skills. You can’t have consistent success with strong psychology and weak skills – I’m constantly self-educating on how to master my psychology and extend my business skills. I started reading and attending seminars about 20 years ago or so and I haven’t stopped. Everyday is a baseline.

So you’ve got a great and unique idea, where do you begin? What are the necessary steps that need to be taken to ensure it survives, evolves and flourishes?

KJ: Going from idea to business requires an understanding of how to build a business. It’s just that easy. There’s a massive gap between people with idea’s and people with skills to execute those ideas. So the key is the develop the skills. There are a lot of skills required to execute a business idea, but some of the most important are finance (probably #1), marketing, legal, accounting, HR, and development. Of course you can hire talent to fill some of the necessary skill sets, but I have never met a successful entrepreneur that hadn’t acquired ninja skills across all of the most important areas of business execution. In fact, I think it’s required that you develop the proper skills so that early on you can do things yourself and later on you can step in if necessary to hold staff accountable or to do their job if they aren’t.

How do you find your competitive advantage and make an idea/entity so unique that it cannot be copied?

KJ: It’s all about brand. People don’t buy things – they buy how those things make them feel.

 I think you’d agree, most self-starters like yourself are forward thinking. On that note, what’s next for Kris?

KJ: As you know I founded a talent booking platform with actor / comedian Damon Wayans, Jr called Special Guest App. We are currently focusing most of our resources on the Greater Los Angeles market, but we intend to expand that considerably in 2018. I’m also excited about the growth of a two complementary businesses that are growing quickly – LSEO.com is a digital marketing company that I founded in 2014. It offers a range of growth marketing services, such as search-engine optimization, Google AdWords management, and social media management. APPEK Mobile Apps is a mobile and web development company that I cofounded back in 2011 that helps people build apps. In addition to these businesses I’m excited to continue to support the success of a range of technology investments I’ve made, speak at a few select conferences, and focus most of my time on making sure that Special Guest executes on its mission to democratize the booking and experience of LIVE entertainment.

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If you’d like to learn more about Special Guest, be sure to download the app here! For more personal development tips and tricks check out Kris’ “Ask Me Anything” series on Youtube!

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LA LA LA . . . D O N U T S.

“People who love to eat are always the best people.”

– JULIA C H I L D

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Guys, it’s National Donut Day. Boom. The day is officially upon us and I’m patiently waiting for LA to begin the next installment of the Museum of Ice Cream, feat. these golden lifesavers. In the meantime, I figured I’d do a quick round up of my top 5 spots to grab the classic bite in Los Angeles based on my own personal experiences.

In case the only donut run you get to today is devouring this rundown, I hope your sweet tooth’s itchin’ and we up your donut game. Not all donuts are created equal so let the sprinkles fall where they may. Without further ado, here’s the breakdown of my favorites donut joints in Los Angeles.

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(Note: I have not tried every shop discussed, nor have I sampled all their donuts, however the ones I have, I will mention along with my favorite donut I feel is worth dishin’ the dough on. Sources will be provided at the end if not my own opinion.)

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| THE OG C H A M P |

California Donuts 

My first memory of this California landmark began with a late night adventure with the kid, Mitchell. I had never tasted ye old Cali Donut and he was about to school ya girl. We rolled up at maybe 11 PM and the line was stupid long. We decided to pass but I must say, from that day on, I craved those suckers.

How can you crave something you’ve never had you say? By catching glimpses of the funky vintage sign and Lucky Charmed donuts, naturally. That did me in and I felt nostalgia instantly. This old school spot was worth the wait. I’ve since enjoyed a variety of their flavors from playful outings with friends to classic donut walls at weddings.

MAV FAV: The Fruit Loop

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| THE CREATIVE I N D I V I D U A L |

Donut Friend

I must say, there’s something truly special about Donut Friend. I’m not sure if it’s the unique flavors with DIY customization or the passion and story behind the brand. DF sets itself apart with its tongue in cheek appeal, using wit and humor to name their donuts after famous bands. On top of that, they made it all so easy to Insta the crap out of it – an equally addictive “Supermassive Black Donut Hole.” (Ha, that’s my best attempt).

Then there’s the matcha. Game over – favorite flavor in the whole wide world, hands down. When you nail it, you got me 100%. Donut Friend, you do it, you do it so well. Top that with some freeze dried raspberry dust and call it a day….

MAV FAV: Green Teagan and Sara

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| THE C R O W D PLEASER |

SK Donuts & Croissants

Ah the good ‘ol donut birthday cake. This year I was surprised with a box full of SK’s from my girls. Low-key, I wanted to try each and every one myself. I somehow found the will power to share – a huge improvement from the time I had a whole confetti b-day cake to myself circa 2006). Ya, that happened.

Besides the point, I did sample many of their flavors and must say, they’re all winners. This is definitely a great option if you have a large crowd and a variety of tastes to cater to.

MAV FAV: Blueberry Glazed 

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| THE H E A L T H NUT |

Donut Farm

Similar in name but most certainly unique, Donut Farm packs a powerful and healthy punch. Not only do they serve all vegan donuts but they’re also on the food grind too. Their dough is certified organic and is made from scratch daily. It wouldn’t be LA if they weren’t using coconut milk for their glazes, which yes they are.

When given the opportunity I am super excited to sink my teeth into that Coconut Whiteout or their Lemon Poppeyseed. I mmmmmean, probably going to indulge in both, who we kiddin’.

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| ON MY L I S T |

Sidecar

(might see me thurrrr tonight, skrttt skrrrt).

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| CREATIVE DIRECTION + STYLING |

Morgan Ryan 

Fit: Dress Shirt: J.Crew | Dress, Vans + Trench: Crossroads Trading | Tiffany & Co Rose Gold Frames from Fairfax Optical Lab

| PHOTOGRAPHY |

Jordan Zobrist

| MAKE UP |

Emily Gruen

| HAIR |

Kelly De La Cerda

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SOURCES

| HAWAIIAN H E R I T A G E |

“From a small seed a mighty trunk may grow.” 

– A E S C H Y L U S

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Ever since I could remember, I’ve been visualizing. As a young girl in elementary school, I used to be the last person to finish reading. I blame my creative mind, which would wander to exciting places mid-sentence (side note: still happens). The only spot I truly loved was the art room – probably because it was the only place I felt I belonged. The time I spent daydreaming and visualizing was welcomed here.

With anything in life, I realize it’s not all daydreams (although I wish it was). It’s vision combined with hard work that brings what you want into being. Strangely enough, with any accomplishment I’ve made, it’s through a balance of activity and inactivity. Many times what appears to be inactivity, is in fact is very active after all. Taoist refer to this as Wu Wei, and in this case, I call it active visualization. Let me explain…

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Whenever I feel stuck, I pause, reflect and visualize. I’ve always been an advocate for vision boards. Not strictly for its artistic nature, but because it focuses energy and attention on the passion at hand. Love, fitness, career, whatever it may be, it helps the mind ‘go there,’ thus stimulating that dreamer we all have within.

In the midst of all the moving pieces of my career right now, which I’m extremely grateful for, I’ve had little time for inactivity. Feeling more pressure than before, I began to think, what’s next? As a result, I’ve negatively begun to doubt my creativity and the future. As dreamers, we should welcome if not anticipate the thought of what could be. In truth, I was running from the very person I am. When I slowed down to realize this, I knew I needed to take time some time out. I did just that in a rather unconventional way; when things picked up, I slowed down.

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There’s a method to my madness. When you’re speeding ahead, you fail to catch the glimpse of the pretty house along the street you’ve never explored. You overlook the excerpt in a book that will inspire your next project. In slowing down, you find everything you need. You’re re-inspired. Thus I found a way to combine my work with my passions.

As I prepped for my Mane Addicts Instastory Takeover (<- click for a highlight), I applied my new found knowledge to social media. The weeks leading up the gig, I used my account to play and test new ideas. Not only was this personally fulfilling, it also left me reassured I could do my best when it came time to take over their account. In fact this methodology helped me successfully accomplish my immediate goal (hitting over 9,000 impressions) while I created a road map for future ones. One of those destined ventures being Hawaii. The idea: reconnecting to the source.

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When I initially dug up information on the Awapuhi Farm and Nature Retreat, my ears were ringing, “ready, set, location, shoot!” For years now, I’ve had the reoccurring vision of being on a remote island, sourcing ingredients and creating botanical/herbal products. One thing many people don’t know about me is that I turn to natural remedies and concoct my own beauty products.

Ayurveda or life science, has always been a secret passion of mine. It became more prevalent in my life when I was diagnosed with ADHD. After years of taking medication, I desired a more long term and natural solution. Thus, I begun to self-educate myself on nutrition and natural means of healing. When I realized this ‘ailment’ made me special not slow, I began to use it creatively to my benefit. That’s when the holistic healer kicked in and I hope one day to help others heal and reach total wellness too.

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When I learned Awapuhi Wild Ginger was born and sourced in Pa’auilo, Hawaii, I saw the initial blending of my two worlds; the muse meets the the healer. I saw myself there, exploring the nature, science and culture of this area. I saw me hosting, traveling, educating, and most of all, learning through personal experiences. Clearly, the passion alarm went off.

Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of taking the first step in that direction. In attending the Paul Mitchell Innovation Center in Santa Clarita, I learned all about the Awapuhi line. It was invigorating to be educated on a product I use often and is rooted in Hawaiian culture. The herbalist in me enjoyed hearing about the ingredients and putting a face to the scientists in the lab. To see the work that goes into perfecting and delivering a product into the hands of the consumer was something special to experience.

Later that afternoon I left feeling all the hope in the world. In fact, I used the positive energy of the day as an opportunity to make my own slice of HI in CA. I made my way to Malibu and created an experience that one could equate to the Aloha State. The strange thing was, that weekend I truly believed a huge leap was made in the direction of that island. I felt one step closer towards actualizing that goal.

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I’ve always had this island dream and I always will. Who knows, maybe the dream is better than reality. What I do know is I will eventually realize this dream and find out one way or another for myself.

Aloha,

M

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R E E B O K | ON | THE BLOCK

(Note: I received the product mentioned in this post for free from Reebok. This post also contains tracking links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.)

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“Great acts are made up of small deeds.”

– LAO T Z U

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| P R E F A C E |

As many brands are jumping on the athleisure train, there’s one thing I note when determining which will make it into my wardrobe. First a great brand has to have a superb brand image. Secondly, they must remain true to who they are in an ever-changing landscape, evolving with the times. The first is easy if you have good creatives behind you. The second, well that takes some practice and self-awareness.

The ability to keep the brand identity while looking forward is a feat many struggle with. A few that come to mind that successfully balance the two are Nike, Adidas and Victoria’s Secret. One brand that didn’t originally dawn on me was Reebok, which now is in my top five. If I’ve learned anything from this brand, it’s to go beyond your comfort zone.

In the past when I heard Reebok, I instantly imagined an older women wearing comfort sneakers; you know, the granny steeze. Clearly I had discounted the brand who has made major improvements and adjustments since the late 90’s. It wasn’t until I caught wind of their “Be More Human” campaign that I was re-introduced to the brand and their unique messaging. Then came the launch of their new design, the ZOKU RUNNER. Needless to say, I was sold.

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| MORE ABOUT THE B R A N D |

The American-inspired global brand is known for their sports and lifestyle products. Built upon a strong heritage and authenticity in sports, fitness and women’s categories, Reebok’s history and values run deep. They are dedicated to providing each and every ‘athlete’ – professional or recreational- with the opportunity, products and inspiration to achieve their full potential. Much like my own personal beliefs, Reebok champions that we’re all worthy of pursuing and achieving greatness.

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| NEW ERA, SAME HERITAGE |

Drawing inspiration from the Reebok Classic designs of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, the ZOKU RUNNER nails it by fusing the brand’s rich heritage with advanced design. I have a thing for brands that go beyond the surface. One way to achieve this is through symbolism and deep intentional meaning. The ZOKU RUNNER does just that by paying homage to the Japanese translation of Zoku, which means ‘to be continued’ or ‘to be part of a tribe.’

The ZOKU RUNNER, a descendant of the original Classic, celebrates the continuation through its modernized and updated silhouette. Crafted with ULTRAKNIT material, a superior digital knitting technology, the ZOKU RUNNER has a sock like feel and futuristic fashion appeal. Wearing it through out the whole shoot, the comfort was undeniable, which now I know is due to the seamless knit upper and heathered materials. It’s breathable, lightweight and extremely comfortable. On top of it all, the technology reduces material waste.

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| THE B A C K S T O R Y |

Sometimes we justify discomfort for superficial reasons. After experiencing a back injury that left me inactive for about a month, I now consider many factors when purchasing a shoe. For instance, long-term comfort and support comes first and foremost. Then style and design. If it can provide all the above, even better. I kid you not, the ZOKU RUNNER is one of the most modern in terms of style and technology and the most comfortable shoe I own.

After this injury I also began to take note of other things that could act as a factor for poor back health. I looked straight to my everyday tote. Most of us girls throw any and everything into one big bag, which we lug around all day. Sounds great for your back, I know. This in and of itself could be considered a workout, a safe one? Not so much.

Initially, what I loved most about this pair of shoes was how light they were. I threw them in my bag on my way to the gym and barely noticed I had been carrying them. For most of us “on-the-go” women, we go from one thing to the next. Luckily this shoe works with you not against you, allowing you to move freely without weighing (or slowing) you down.

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| SHOE SPECS|

– One piece knit upper for a lightweight, sock-like fit

– Low-cut design for a sleek and sophisticated silhouette

– DMX Lite midsole cushions for a superior feel

– Heathered upper

– High abrasion rubber outsole for traction and durability

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Click here to buy the ZOKU RUNNER.

___________________________

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+ MEET THE TEAM +

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| CREATIVE DIRECTION |

Morgan Ryan

| PHOTOGRAPHY |

Jordan Zobrist

| HAIR |

Tina Greene

| STYLING |

Johnny Escaray

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S I M P L Y BEAUTIFUL

“The things we reject tend to be colored by fear. Those grown from love will flourish.”

– MORGAN R Y A N

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I took a deep breath in as I observed my surroundings. What a sight Los Angeles has become. Before the rainfall, this city had lost a bit of its luster in my honest opinion. Now I feel as though I’m experiencing one of the most beautiful moments since I first moved to California. I had to stop mid-walk to really absorb this momentary time. This story is about finding inner peace with impermanence.

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I held my breath as I looked around. I was in awe because I thought I was just transported to Austria. The sky had not a cloud in it. The mountains stood majestic with snow-capped tips, which blended into the clear blue skyline. Just beyond the peaks lay layers of green hillsides that varied in shade.

The iconic landscape from “The Sound of Music,” rolled through my mind and I couldn’t help but smile as my thoughts amused me. I hoped Julie Andrews would pop out of no where, twirling me around aimlessly like in the movie. Much like Andrews chimes in the familiar song, I go to the hills when my heart’s lonely.

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I spent this past weekend in solitude. Something I do often but always yearn for more of. This time I redecorated my apartment and entertained some of my innermost dreams. The Aquarius New Moon occurred this past weekend, which also marked the Chinese Lunar New Year. Living on the outskirts of Chinatown, I heard firecrackers going off all weekend. This added a kick of energy that ironically foreshadowed the energy of this year’s sign, the Fire Rooster. I felt the desire to take action while the Aquarian vibes got me in touch with my deepest desires.

FLOWING WITH THE NATURAL ENERGY AT WORK: 

I. Write out your goals + dreams

II. Release something

III. Feng shui a room

V. Root and ground

VI. Do something communal

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I.

Friday night I wrote out 6 goals to achieve in the next 6 months. Some were travel related, career/money focused or beauty inspired. I placed them next to my agate rock, hoping it would magnify their energy and ability to come into fruition. In two days I checked off one of those goals! I’m a bit superstitious but clearly it worked for me.

One of my major dreams is to have my own live/work space. Last week was the ideal time to work with this goal as I had my two bedroom apartment to myself. This really gave me the opportunity to soak it all in; what it would truly feel like to have a place I call my own. To experience it to the fullest I took it a step further; I redecorated to my liking to see what it would look like, making it an active visualization.

I arranged mason jars filled with my seeds and spices above my stove. Placed plants throughout my living room. Dried flowers from my cupboards doors and did yoga in the living room while burning incense. For the entire week, I slept sound and woke refreshed. I found the true definition of freedom is found in the little things.

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  II.

 In college I randomly began calling my room the ‘Zen Den.’ It’s stuck ever since. That being said, one of my favorite interests is using artistic decoration as a form of energy healing or redirection. For lack of a better words most would refer to this as feng shui. I’ve always desired to switch up and refresh my room with new arrangement every so often. I’ve noticed it helped with the movement of energy within my space and my physical well-being.

This desire to feng shui tends to happen in line with new chapters of my life, or in this case, new moons. Besides bringing me joy, it has also aided me in the process of letting go. The Tao Te Ching says, “when we know when enough is enough, there will always be enough.” Much like art, this process works on the idea of impermanence; something that is born to be destroyed. Think of fresh flowers. They bring fresh energy to a room but only for so long.

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III.

I tend to grow attached to things. My art, people, things, did I mention my art? Every time I must say goodbye I lament. (Side note: That’s probably where my nostalgia stems from). However I’ve become wiser and realized every goodbye allows for a fresh hello. A constant offering of a blank slate, now that’s my jam.

Next up was a space that felt stale, my bathroom. I added some energy with a sprig of fresh flowers and some bamboo. My second reaction was to throw something away. One thing led to another and eventually I was throwing out a handful of old products that had expired. I saw items that had accumulated dust and that simply irritated me. That was my cue that it was time to go. According to the Tao, by decluttering we simplify. By simplifying, we create greater power and peace by choosing beauty, order and health.

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IV.

After this creative jaunt, I wanted to get outside for some fresh air. It was as though clearing out my material life had made room for more physical health. I felt this spaciousness within, an unbound freeness. I wanted to fill this newfound space with something new. I was reminded of my favorite park I used to frequent every day when I first moved to LA. The trails were calling my name.

I was shocked how much it changed since I last visited. ‘Simply Beautiful’ by Al Green played through my headphones and I felt the emotion of those lyrics as I looked out over the improved landscape I once called my stomping grounds. The pathways were now lined with clover and grass that reached to my mid-calf. I sat down in it and closed my eyes and just breathed. I felt grounded. I felt present. I felt re-aligned. In just an hour, I was re-connected to earth and my purpose.

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V.

On Sunday, I attended a charity event organized by my friend, Brooke. Brooke is a fellow PM Insider and blogger who has dedicated her purpose to giving back. She hosted a beautiful wine tasting and food pairing that creatively raised awareness for some of her favorite charities. Dedicated to pertinent issues such as child hunger and autism, we learned about the love these brands are spreading around the world.

With conscious brands such as This Bar, Cheeky and One Hope, it inspired me to learn about brands and how they’re making a difference but more so, how I could be making a difference with everyday decisions. Oh btw, they’re all DELICIOUS! If you’re interested in healthy snack options, delicious wine or simply ways to do good, check out these sites!

CHEEKY

THIS BAR

ONE HOPE WINE

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How do you spend your weekends? Do you hope to give back or live in more alignment? Tell me in the comments below. I would love to get to know you and your inner most desires!

Xx,

M

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| SHOP THIS L O O K |

  Military Jacket | Turtleneck | White Jeans | Penny Loafers | HeadbandPaul Mitchell Tool

| FEATURED P H O T O G R A P H Y |

Nat Sin 

| FEATURED L O C A T I O N |

Shakespeare Bridge

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WOMEN’S MARCH | L O S A N G E L E S

“Well-behaved women rarely make history.”

-LAUREL T H A T C H E R ULRICH

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January in Los Angeles this year could be best described as a monsoon. Okay, maybe that’s a little hyperbolized. Nevertheless, we’ve had uncharacteristic amounts of rain this month. With our current drought-ridden situation, we’re quite consoled by the rainfall. As a result, LA has been refreshed with greenery resembling the Pantone color of the year. (Well-played M. Nature).

For instance, this week it’s rained 5 out of 7 days. Friday, it rained all day. Sunday, it rained all day. Saturday, well Saturday was sunny and warm. A crisp bite was in the air when you found yourself in the shade. Saturday, January 21st 2017 also marked the official Women’s March in Downtown Los Angeles. Little did we know, that in attending and showing our support, we would be a part of written history.

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It was as though the heavens supported our efforts by offering this momentary hiatus. The sun shined bright and wide on us all, while we marched and made hisherstory. We expected a large turnout, roughly 80,000 people. What we got was much much more. As we turned the corner we found ourselves among what seemed like half of LA. On that beautiful Saturday morning, Evan and I marched for the equal rights of all.

The drums and chants rhythmically surged through my soul like the beat of my own heart. In that moment, I felt my beat was one with everyone else’s. A sense of unity washed over me. I felt utter peace and the strength in numbers for the first time. What an unbelievable feeling it is to be connected to a passionate, fired up community and make history through peaceful action.

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Saturday I felt the power of LA surge through my soul as I marched through the heart of the city. I was amazed by the love that filled streets I’ve so often walked alone, with no purpose but my own. For me, that’s what made this all the more impactful, that shift from personal to universal; the coming together of ALL, united against hate.

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Submerged in mass energy, we made our way to the middle of the crowd. There was a positive peacefulness that filled the air. I felt extremely lifted. Like kinetic energy, we slowly ascended up the hills towards Grand Park. As we gained momentum, we gained energy and passion. The joy and love was undeniably infectious. Our spirits weren’t crushed, they were elevated. There was something so special about the day that we couldn’t stop reliving and talking about it.

The next morning we found out LA had an estimated 750,000 attendees alone. In DC, the turnout was 3 times the size of Trump’s inauguration the day before. With more than 3.7 million people (and still counting) that took part in Women’s Marches around the world, it’s safe to say we participated in one of the largest demonstrations in history. (Not bad for my first protest).

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On a micro scale, it was inspiring to see all the creative chants and posters people came up with. People speaking their mind and using their god-given creative gifts for the power of good. Simply incredible. In the downtime before the march began, I found myself scanning the crowd to understand what people were fighting for.

To me, given the circumstances, the artistry seemed to be ignited with fiery passion. Passion on fire is crazy and something I’ve experienced myself. In that way, regardless of our different lives and struggles, I felt their pain and fire. I felt harmony and compassion.

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As powerful as these moments look in photo, there’s something to be said about video. The true essence of this event was captured best in sound and movement. That being said, here’s a short compilation of my favorite clips recorded throughout the day.

 After seeing the numbers roll in yesterday, the message became clear: Numbers don’t lie, and never underestimate the strength of passion. This is just the beginning. We must keep the momentum for this fight is far from over. However, as this marks the beginning of 2017, we will be in for a year of history in the making.

Power on,

M

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| CRYSTAL LAKE |

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I ascend in delight

where the heaviness looms,

and spirits they lift

atop a misty cliff

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An inverted fog

you engulf me in,

a view so unclear

as I watch you disappear

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In the golden valley below

the skies open up,

to taste your sweet tear

oh, the melody I’ll hear

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I followed where you led

upon water cast thy bread,

a vision crystal clear,

in the reflections of my fear

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Waited a long time

to have you by my side,

it was a hell of a ride

though we’ve reached the end of our tide

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There’s something so majestic

about a biblical sky,

to pierce velvet skin

and harden the bone within

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Where thoughts of you lead

 the layers reveal,

indigo hillsides

 so pure and wide

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In a technicolor dream

we ignite with desire

 where greenery’s on fire,

and you are my rectifier.

_________

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GET THIS LOOK:

Jacket | Shirt | Pants | Creepers | Gloves | Lipstick

. . .

| CREATIVE DIRECTION |

Morgan Ryan & Evan Woods for SCHAI 

| FEATURED PHOTOGRAPHER |

Evan Woods

| FEATURED MUSE + STYLING |

Morgan Ryan

| FEATURED MUA |

Emily Gruen using MAC Cosmetics

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|| P L A N B ||

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

– JOHN L E N N O N

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It was a cool October evening in Los Angeles — not quite summer, not quite fall. The sun began to dip behind the industrial buildings that lined the streets of Downtown. As it transitioned from day to night, I began to contemplate the irony of my day ‘on-set.’ I use the term loosely as I tend to shoot with other unconventional artists who embody a similar relaxed approach and finesse. Similarly, we thrive in the fluid and somewhat chaotic unexpectedness of ‘the streets.’

Out here, you can never be entirely sure of what you’re going to get. I guess you could say the same about life. Then again, life imitates art. With that being said, I will preface with the following; this is a story about a plan gone awry. If you can roll with the punches and maybe even color outside the lines, you’ll arrive exactly where you need to be. Somewhere I call PLAN B.

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|| P L A N  A ||

Plan A involved something like this: A classic Bardot outfit against a french inspired street cafe scene. What we got? A 180 of everything I just said. Well, I was never one to believe in Murphy’s Law. I did however always find comfort in the quote by Lennon, “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

What I think Lennon’s stressing is the importance of being flexible and not resisting life’s plans. As humans, we like structure and predictability to feel secure. Becoming best friends with uncertainty and letting life flow are personal skills worth developing. You may even recall some of your fondest memories happened to be a result of fate or the unexplainable.

With that being said, here we go:

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When I began to style a look for my shoot with Ashlyn, I had my head rigidly wrapped around a classic Brigitte Bardot look. Problem was, I couldn’t seem to pull it off with my current wardrobe. Slightly frustrated, I felt my ego creep in and fear began to manifest. I took the uncomfortable feeling as my cue to get quiet and become present. As I stared blankly into my color coordinated closet, a vibrant orange number caught my eye.

I reached for the piece out of curiosity having almost forgotten I owned it. I pulled it out to reveal a 70’s vintage lounge dress in mint condition. I must’ve bought it on one of my thrifting expeditions. As I held it overhead, examining at arms length, I wondered why I had not worn it yet? I threw it on and realized two things:

1. I loved the design and fabric

2. I hated the fit

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|| P L A N  B ||

So I did what I knew best under such circumstances; I performed a quick (and painless) surgery. I began to re-imagine it. I figured if things go wrong, so be it. If things go right, so be it. And with a few quick snips of my orange Fiskars, I was now the proud owner of a 70’s duster. Excitement rushed over me and without second thought, I threw it on over top my current outfit; a pair of Levi’s and a long-sleeved blouse.

I looked at my reflection in awe, not because of my amazing craftsmanship (because clearly I could use help in that department) but because of the overall look. A strange approach to layering now made complete sense. It was unconventional, funky and best of all, it was me. I’ve learned that mistakes are at times more helpful than harmful.

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I met up with Ashlyn just outside the ETO building. We originally had a spot mapped out but much like my original look, it ceased to exist. We walked up to a cafe in a hidden alley illuminated by string patio lights. The gates were locked. In that moment, I heard my dad’s best impersonation of John Candy in National Lampoon’s Vacation echo in my mind, “Sorry folks, park’s closed.” Ashlyn and I look at each other with an encouraging c’est la vie glance and carry on into the unknown.

As we turn the corner, we begin our adventure surprised as we find a bushel of strawberries randomly placed on the sidewalk. The strange encounter made us both laugh and we continued on. I felt as though it was almost placed there for us, a free prop! About 15 feet later, Ashlyn says “Actually, I think I wanna use those.” Without further notice, I pivoted and marched back with a assertive “you read my mind.”

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I learned something plain and simple from this entire experience; strawberries are always a good idea. Well, that and sometimes the so called roadblocks are just opportunities to embrace life; to allow life to redirect you instead of you directing it. Sometimes Plan B can be just as sweet if not sweeter than Plan A.

Without making mistakes, we may never explore new terrain or innovate new things. Instead of forcing our free will, we could use it wisely to choose between a life run by ego or a life in tune with a higher intelligence.

As life continues to surprise me and push my boundaries, I’ll make a better point of allowing. Perhaps you may see for yourself that coloring outside the lines is no mistake at all. Perhaps in falling outside the predetermined box, you create a new street worth exploring. For yourself and others.

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| FEATURED O U T F I T |

Nordstrom Rack, Straw Hat | dRA Blouse | Levi’s, 511 | Steve Madden Holllly Sneaker in Camel Suede | JCPenny Lounge Dress, (cut into duster) Goodwill

Styled by Morgan Ryan

 | FEATURED P H O T O G R A P H Y |

Ashlyn Kudransky

Shein, Off-The-Shoulder, Dress, Blue, Pastels, Colorful, Los Angeles Fashion Bloggers, Bright, Playful, Havana Style, Moroccan Accents, Cool Design, Charming Locations, That's Darling, Platforms, Socks with Heels, Fashion Statements, Color Blocking,

THE A L C H E M I S T

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“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.”

– THE A L C H E M I S T

Shein, Off-The-Shoulder, Dress, Blue, Pastels, Colorful, Los Angeles Fashion Bloggers, Bright, Playful, Havana Style, Moroccan Accents, Cool Design, Charming Locations, That's Darling, Platforms, Socks with Heels, Fashion Statements, Color Blocking,

This story is simple but special.

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When I first moved to Los Angeles, I was constantly enamored by this particular structure. Nestled discreetly between shops on Sunset Blvd. stood El Chavo; a lively concoction of Moroccan design meets Havana flair. Earlier this month, the Mexican restaurant with the mean margarita happy hour decided to officially close its doors for good.

I heard rumors of this looming fate last year but somehow found it hard to believe. It seemed far too beautiful too be left behind. I told myself one day I would shoot there before it was too late. I knew it would happen when the moment was right. At the time, I knew I didn’t have the tools necessary.

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I’ll be honest; my desire for this goal was strong, yet my effort was minimal. That’s the crazy thing about manifestation, we’re told we have to want it, yet if we exert too much force it evades us. Things begin to happen when we demonstrate the strength and faith to release whatever it is we want. I’ve found there’s a special kind of magic in trust.

Two years came and went. This past September, I finally made good on the promise I made to myself. Like a well mixed cocktail, all the ingredients came together seamlessly; location, wardrobe, photographer and a little bit of ‘magic.’ The result of getting out of my own way was the imagery within this post.

Shein, Off-The-Shoulder, Dress, Blue, Pastels, Colorful, Los Angeles Fashion Bloggers, Bright, Playful, Havana Style, Moroccan Accents, Cool Design, Charming Locations, That's Darling, Platforms, Socks with Heels, Fashion Statements, Color Blocking,

Shein, Off-The-Shoulder, Dress, Blue, Pastels, Colorful, Los Angeles Fashion Bloggers, Bright, Playful, Havana Style, Moroccan Accents, Cool Design, Charming Locations, That's Darling, Platforms, Socks with Heels, Fashion Statements, Color Blocking,

At first, I felt as I do with any successful shoot: accomplished. When I paused, I realized it was deeper than success. It was that my vision came to light through my unwavering faith. What makes life most exciting is the possibility of having a dream actualized. Of creating the unseen in the mind and watching it appear.

As El Chavo phases out, and the old becomes the new, I’ll be curious to see how the spot is modernized. I truly hope whoever decides to take over this special space chooses to preserve some of its iconic and stylistic appeal. Regardless, I will continue to slide my cat eye shades down the bridge of my nose to sneak a peak whenever I cruise by.

She’s watching you, kid.

M

Shein, Off-The-Shoulder, Dress, Blue, Pastels, Colorful, Los Angeles Fashion Bloggers, Bright, Playful, Havana Style, Moroccan Accents, Cool Design, Charming Locations, That's Darling, Platforms, Socks with Heels, Fashion Statements, Color Blocking, Old Hollywood, Palm Trees, Sunset Blvd.

|| FEATURED L O C A T I O N ||

El Chavo Restaurant

|| FEATURED P R O D U C T S ||

Shein, Off-The Shoulder Dress

Zara, Suede Platfroms

J.Crew, Chandelier Earrings

Wildfox, La Femmes Sunnies

|| P H O T O G R A P H Y ||

Nat Sin