| S U N N Y |

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and realize that prisoner was you.”

LEWIS B. SMEDES

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Valentine’s Day seems to be a holiday that stirs up some mixed feelings. The special occasion, which celebrates the purest of human emotions, has in a way been tainted by consumerism and the demand to have a sweetheart. This can easily warp one into believing your worth is dependent on external circumstances. Without realizing it, many of us have bought into the marketing schemes and have thus created expectations, which often lead to disappointment. I can tell you first handedly love is not about flowers, chocolate or a significant other.

I write this as a reminder, mainly to myself, of what unconditional love truly looks like. Love is not validation from others. Love is not co-dependent, and love cannot be bought. To love is to hurt, and to experience both makes it all worthwhile.

This time last year I was in a relationship. Once it was over, I spent the following months reflecting and working through my emotional baggage. In doing so, I was able to turn the mess into a message I wish to share with you today. These three intangible ideas I’ll touch upon allowed me to reclaim my peace, happiness and joy. The best part is knowing that they were cultivated from within, meaning no one can strip them from me. 

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| SELF-CARE |

Self-care is so imperative yet many times misconstrued as selfish. Much to the contrary, self-care proves to be the best way to emotionally ground ourselves so that we may enter any situation with a grand awareness of self. It builds confidence, self-esteem and overall health. In treating yourself with respect, others follow suit.

In my last relationship I started skipping Yoga classes to spend my time with him. Once the blinders came off and I could see clearly, I was shocked. Yoga is something I place great value in for my personal well-being. It was eye opening when I realized I was the one sabotaging my self-care, not him. There was no one to blame but myself. The moment I quit my practice was the moment I lost myself in the relationship. Now I know the balance I find on the mat must also also be applied off the mat in reality.

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| SELF-LOVE |

When you’re hurt and licking your wounds, the focus once again turns to you. Self-love is where compassion is born. For when you no longer have the capacity to be compassionate towards yourself, you no longer have it for others. As what begins within, flows to all.

Any relationship, failed or successful, plays a valuable and versatile role in our life stories. They become our best teachers, our gateways to self-awareness and acceptance. They also become our mirrors, which reflect back to us, our inner worlds. Most people come into our lives to strengthen us so that we can move forward (many times alone). I think it’s quite possible that every strong connection we make with another is an opportunity to test our emotional maturity and capability to let go. For when we accept this simple truth, circumstances cannot define us.

This is why it’s so imperative before entering a relationship to cultivate a strong understanding and respect for self. Self-love cultivates compassion and kindness, which therefore enhances any relationship or connection we have with others because the foundation has been laid. If you imagine a relationship to be a house, you wouldn’t start building without the proper foundation, right? So if self-love is the foundation which we build relationships, you can understand why it’s importance we start here. Through our connection to self and others we can begin to feel safe and at home.

| Self-Love Practice |

1.) Find a quiet space and close your eyes. Begin breathing deeply into your lower belly

2.) Relax into your breath, get into a meditative state while you place your hand over your heart

3.) Recall a painful or stressful situation and visualize the how it felt. Allow the emotional discomfort to wash over you (understand you are not alone, we all feel these emotions)

4.) Feel the warmth of your hand over your heart. Send that warmth to the specific area of your body that’s feeling discomfort

5.) Ask yourself what you need to hear/feel in order to heal. Use whatever comes to mind first and is best aligned with your situation

6.) Repeat the phrase to yourself silently or aloud as many times as needed until you feel peaceful and calm

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| MAV MANTRA |

“I’m worthy of great love. A great love does not define my worth.”

__________

| FORGIVENESS |

Forgiveness might be the glue that holds a relationship together. While intimacy allows for closeness, it also requires us to be vulnerable. Hurt and love go hand in hand, that’s why they often say you hurt the one you love the most. Growing up we must’ve also heard the phrase, “I’ll forgive but I’ll never forget.” If forgiveness means wiping the slate clean, this quote is the antithesis of forgiveness. For if we can never forget, then we are guaranteed to carry the messy pain from our past into our present.

Post break-up I tried to forget everything, the memories, the pain, the laughs. Ironically all that did was strengthen its power over me. It wasn’t until I made the decision to wipe the slate clean, with forgiveness, that I finally moved past the hurt. I could smile again because I had a newfound respect for the relationship and what it taught me.

Last year my dad introduced me to a Hawaiian practice called Ho’oponopono, a healing technique that assists in the process of forgiveness. What’s nice about this practice is it’s simple and useful for all. It truly helped me to see there’s a result to every action we take. Regardless of your position in the disagreement, we could all use some forgiveness. If possible, use this technique and verbalize in person. If that’s not possible for whatever reason, you can use this as a self-healing practice in meditation or practicing it aloud or through writing. I chose to write mine in the form of an apology letter to give myself closure.

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| FORGIVENESS PRACTICE |

1.) “I’m sorry.” 

(I’m sorry I judged you. I’m sorry there’s unresolved energy between us)

2.) “Please forgive me.”

(Forgive me for my judgments. Forgive me for creating separation between us. Forgive me for walking away)

3.) I love you.”

(Recall to mind moments or reasons why you love this person. What did they add to your life) 

4.) Thank you.”

(Show gratitude for the experience. Be thankful for the opportunity to grow, the life lesson and joy)

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| WRITING A NEW STORY |

Regardless of your circumstance this year, use this holiday to show pure, unconditional love however that looks to you. That could be towards yourself, a special someone or a complete stranger. The point being we all deserve to love and be loved. Maybe you enjoy giving out loving compliments or speaking highly of others. Maybe you’re creative and enjoy writing love poems, notes or songs. Or maybe it’s creating a personalized card, which expresses your gratitude. (Remember, expressions of love that cannot be replicated/purchased tend to be the most valuable). If you do anything this Valentines Day, let it be forgiveness. Forgive anything that may have come before and step into the present with an open heart.

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IN COLLABORATION WITH THE M I G H T Y COMPANY 

| PHOTOGRAPHY |

Evan Woods

| CREATIVE DIRECTION |

Morgan Ryan

| MUSES |

Cameron Arnett & Morgan Ryan 

LITTLE MS. H A P P Y MEAL || 3.17.15 ||

Happiness Is A Day With You

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When I’m with you, 

I don’t need a whole lot. 

When I’m with you,

We make due with what we got.

When I’m with you,

You make me a little better

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When I’m with you,

I stop counting the hours of the day.

When I’m with you 

Everyday is a vacay.

When I’m with you,

I feel alive and new

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The-maverick-muse-michael-rousseau-photography-morgan-ryan-91It’s sad but true

But when I’m without you 

My day’s shaded in blue.

Because in you,

I found an Endless Summer.

-M.R.

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PHOTOGRAPHY ||

Mike Rousseau

OUTFITTED ||

Vintage Silk Thread, Red Bikini: American Apparel, Red Bandana, Earrings: J. Crew, Shades: Quay.

BIRDS OF P A I R A D I C E || 3.15.15 || H E R M O S A BEACH

“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”

-Albert Camus

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This weekend provided a taste for what I believe Summer 2015 has in store. The weather was hot, the nights were long, and the vibes were strong. Let the good times roll on, like the rockin’ sea below. Cheers to another weekend in paradise; this is only the beginning.

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s e a ling the d e a l

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Team USA, 2015

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Duckin’ Around

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Hermosa Beach, 2015

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Five o’ clock shadows and a smile between sweetened sips of tea. And I watch him, as life changes before my eyes.

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Shout out to Fender for sharing my photo

THE T H I N I S H LINE

“Some people want it to happen,

some wish it would happen,

others make it happen.”

-Michael Jordan

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As I made my way up the third concrete hill of my hood, I repeated to myself,

// you’re stronger than you know //

For the entirety of my run, I compared my physical stamina to that of my mental endurance. In life there will always be hills. Most of us see the hill and run for cover, I know I used to. Some attempt to climb and fail halfway. Only a few see it and run for the top, for they know a spectacular view awaits them as well as a sense of triumph that accompanies those last few steps.

If you feel like you’re the one who is stuck in limbo, like myself, remind yourself of the importance found in fortitude of diligence. Remind yourself of what matters; that you crawled until you could run again because you knew one day you would be strong enough. It’s the art of the climb. The Journey. Those who push make it to the top, even if they have to crawl. That’s the thin line that distinguishes mediocrity from greatness.

For me, It’s safe to say today was one of those days. A hill day. Not even intervals, just straight hill. One where your hope is shattered, your belief is weary, and the heat, paralyzing. Everything seems to irritate you. The only thing I wanted to do was escape from the ball and chain was the attachment to my computer, which, by now, was overheating in exhaustion. I broke away from ‘cyber reality’ and made my escape for the freedom and solitude of the great outdoors.

My optimism was rattled, but never shattered. Reflecting back on the day, there was truly no reason for any lows to affect my highs. I was presented with challenges from the outside world, and, well, I’ve got a competitive spirit—so challenge accepted!

I’m learning to take control of the reigns of attitude when thrown a curveball. Today, I ended up landing a Brand Affiliate program with Lulus, as well as representation as a Brand Ambassador for WhatIWear. So, really not a bad day at all. I just lost sight of the positives because I was too entangled in what I perceived to be the negatives. What I am slowly learning is that perception is reality and that you are the creator of that reality. This happen for a reason and you become what you fuel. If you feed the victim role you’ll become the victim, but if you nurture pacifist, you’ll be rewarded with peace of mind.

My peace of mind came in the form of a daily reminder. The Hummingbird. Flying so effortlessly and with more strength than ever, I instantly smiled at this diligent little creature. If I never learn the exact meaning of this symbolic reoccurrence in my life, I’ll know it at least reminds me to always smile and feel resilient. Someone once told me, “your smiles are your alms,” and because it was you, I’ll never forget the power of my smile.

// I guess your attitude really does define your altitude //

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FLIGHTLESS B I R D || 05.12.14

Soaring east–

Three birds took flight

 chasing away the demons & shadows of your yesterday.

M.R.

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As the Summer sun trapped its heat in my apartment, I began to lose energy. Before I could melted into a relaxed state similar to that of a sauna, I decided to kill two birds (never a Mockingbird) with one stone; I headed out for a late afternoon stroll to escape the heat and re0energize. This has become something I look forward to each day and a rewarding experience to say the least.

Four minutes into my walk I end up dropping my iPhone, shattering the screen. I guarantee you I am the most graceful klutz’s you’ll ever encounter. But instead of reacting I just let it be. I pivoted at the end of the street for my return up the hill and the idea of manifesting your own reality resurfaced from the depths of my restless memory. Something or someone said to me,

If you need something, just ask for it. 

Is it that easy? Can I really just ask for an opportunity to get a new iPhone? I smiled to myself for I was happy I could transform a negative into a positive and chase any trace of pessimism away with a dose of optimism. As this thought passed, I looked up at a tree that stood majestically in front of me. Its limbs sprawled with blossoms delicately placed along each intricate branch. In between these branches something appeared–a hummingbird. She stopped long enough for me to notice but quick enough for her beauty to be missed. Having occurred consecutively after a moment of clarity made the impact seem even more surreal. This little bird won’t leave my side, for she plays a pretty song in my life story. I’ve never met a creature so delicate yet so strong. These are the moments that allow me to see life for how it truly is,

//beautiful//

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Day Tripper

Got no deeds to do, No promises to keep.

I’m dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep.

Let the morning time drop all its petals on me.

Life, I love you; All is g r o o v y ||

59th Street Bridge Song,  Simon & Garfunkel

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It was the first week of May and a heat wave engulfed the city of Los Angeles. A wave similar to that of the ocean when it casts its lazy spell and shifts your energy into a mellow mood. Refusing to become controlled by the heat of a delicate summers daydream, I waited for the blazing sun to slowly cool, then made my way out into the nights setting sun.

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I walked along a windy path which led me in the direction of Elysian Park. Soon after setting out, I found myself walking heel-toe in a straight line, mimicking a linear cracked path that lay beneath my feet. Merely an act of instinct, I soon realized this was my way of actively finding balance within my body.

Before I started dancing, my mom enrolled me every summer in gymnastics camp. I would spend all my time by myself at one station, the walking beam. I worked everyday on perfecting my foot placement, alignment, and balance, which required a lot of focus and patience. Many things a kid has yet to develop.

My mind quickly tries to catch up to me from the past but decides to make a pit stop about two years shy of the present moment when I visited a friend in Santa Cruz, CA.

He was the king of “slacking.”  Although it did seem like time stood still whenever I found myself in Santa Cruz, I’m referring to his mastered technique of slacklining. He made balance look effortless and even when he decided to add an ambitious trick; He seemed to always land on both feet like a cat. When he encouraged me to try, I let shyness overcome me as I feared being embarrassed in front of him. I realized I had lost that sense of pure innocence and wonder we’re all born with as kids. Crazy how much two years can make a difference as I fast forward to the present moment as I’m looking at the world once again through eyes of wonder.

// Restored //

Long-A line made by walking

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/long-a-line-made-by-walking-ar00142/text-summary

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As dusk approached, the rambling trail of thoughts I left behind had now brought me to a final realization. About a year ago  I had saved one photo on my laptop from a History of Photography class. It was called “A Line Made by Walking,” by Richard Long. At first glance, there’s nothing overwhelmingly captivating about the photo but never the less it intrigued me at the time. Now as day turns to night, I’m beginning to make sense of the intricate simplicity of this work in relation to my life.

“Nature has always been recorded by artists, from prehistoric cave paintings to twentieth-century landscape photography. I too wanted to make nature the subject of my work, but in new ways. I started working outside using natural materials like grass and water, and this evolved into the idea of making a sculpture by walking…My first work made by walking, in 1967, was a straight line in a grass field, which was also my own path, going ‘nowhere’. In the subsequent early map works, recording very simple but precise walks on Exmoor and Dartmoor, my intention was to make a new art which was also a new way of walking: walking as art.”

 I find myself using nature as a resource. From observation, I’m aware of the relationship between life and art. This notion that life imitates art seems to reappear–But maybe in contrast, we are all art and life/nature are just imitating us.

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We glamorize a life in which we live fast and die young, but we have it all wrong. What if we were to live slow and die wise?  

You see, we label it as laziness if we’re to slow down. Moving so fast we tend to feel like we’re being pulled in several directions because we lack grounding and a connection with what’s truly important. This false reality we paint online doesn’t connect us  it separates us. Maybe that’s what drew me to Santa Cruz in the first place; Its ability to allow me to slow down and reconnect. 

The beauty I encountered that day within my hour journey made we realize one overlying idea. Everything is alive, connected, and communicating you just have to

//L I S T E N//

Slow down, you move too fast.
You got to make the morning last.

Lady Luck

She’s up all night ’til the sun | We’re up all night to get lucky.
-Daft Punk 

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As Spring semester began to wind down the temperature started to warm up. Purple floral trees adorned the sidewalks of Orange, CA. A distinct honeysuckle fragrance filled the air on campus at Chapman University, as the frenzy of finals week foreshadowed the chaos to come – our annual tradition, Undie Run.

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Wednesday 

Loud music pounds off the walls to greet the bantering and chatter of pre-Undie Run excitement. Warmth fills the air and turns the heat up a notch in the swarmed house, which is packed wall to wall with enough body heat to melt an Igloo. This easily kept the scantily clad, underwear outfitted students warm while they additionally partook in other such activities that induce a blanket of warmth to defend against the brisk air awaiting them outside. I smiled to myself as I walked through the animal house, as it was in no position to contend to the zoo in my mind. I couldn’t gather a notion to engage in anything but the mental hysteria in my mind; a combination of memorizing my movement backwards, body placement, and not to mention the art of mastering convincing facial expressions with style and ease . The cast and crew remained focused with our eyes on the prize in the midst of the liveliness. We had one shot. We needed Luck.

11:45 pm 

Hit and the house filed out and emptied like horses to the brooke. The extreme difference in atmosphere marked the beginning of our excitement and allowed time for a run through of the one continuous shot. We had 15 minutes to fine tune any details or possible mishaps we might encounter (such as a run in with the cops).

12:00 am 

A stampede of students rush the streets of Old Towne Orange, cue music.

[We’ve come too far to give up who we are. So let’s raise the bar and our cups to the stars]

After posting the video, we woke to a reality which seemed to be more characteristic of a dream. Just hours after posting the video it went viral and landed us on the front page of Reddit. In the past week, we have reached over 360,000 views and have gained online and media recognition within Southern California. Peep it.

The OC Register: August 20, 2013 

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The Waves hit LA: August 21, 2013 

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College Blogs/Sites:

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The Nose Bleeds

 

Like the legend of the phoenix | All ends with beginnings.

Desert Oasis

“The most creative act you will ever undertake is the act of creating yourself.”
― Deepak Chopra

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Stylist, Hair, Makeup: Morgan Ryan

Photographer: Natalie Wentworth

Assisting: Ariel Stark