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I N D E P E N D E N C E DAY || 07.04.15 ||

“The world you inhabit is a reflection of your internal state. If you want to see external change, work from the inside out.”

-Dali Lama

IMG_7018 (1)            During my senior year of college I took a course on Happiness. I recently decided to re-visit one of the books from the class and in doing so retrieved some valuable information. These excerpts impacted me more today than ever before as I could now apply them to a real life scenario. As I delve into the idea of happiness in relation to personal freedom, it is only right that I bring some philosophical homies along for the ride.

            Confucius was one of the first philosophers to create the notion that we in fact hold the power to self-transformation. This idea of self-manifested change is quite empowering as it can be applied to any area of life. In knowing that we have the ability to change our life from an attitude, it is then not hard to believe that we can bring to life whatever we feel within.

            Aristotle said that happiness is a state of mind arising from purpose. When a sense of inner direction guides our actions and choices, we remain afloat. However, once we lead from an outside desire, and seek pleasure without purpose, we sink. When we confuse “things” with happiness, we find ourselves in a pit of emptiness. Year after year I chased after pleasure and I came to find it only seemed to run farther away from me.

            If I knew what I know now, I would have realized pleasure has the tendency of a firework; a quick burst of electrifying energy that comes as quickly as it goes (talk about impermanence). On the contrary, true happiness as a state of soul is everlasting. As I drive through Hollywood tonight, I first handily experience the role the mind plays in the quest for happiness as I admire the temporary pleasure of fireworks with a detached attitude.

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|| MAV MANTRA ||

Today I am the architect of my own sense of fulfillment

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Four years ago I was far from who I am today. I looked for fulfillment from just about anything material, which I now recognize as pleasure (thanks Aristotle). I was looking for something to fill the emptiness I so desperately longed to alleviate. As a result I blindly created an even larger hole with this vicious cycle. It was around the same time I met you and during this chapter of my life, I thought you were the answer to all my worries. I was so wrong and I am happy to admit it.

I waited to be set free like a genie in a bottle, or better yet a firework, confined to the limits of my own body. It was as if I was trapped in solitary confinement and the only prison bars in sight were those I had built around my mind. I had become conditioned to pleasure and attached to the idea of someone saving me. Little did I know, I would only receive more time behind bars for these actions.

I became lost in your world, a world that in all honesty didn’t co-exist with my own. I was searching for the hands of another and found myself waiting hopelessly on fireworks that would never make it farther than the ground. I was headed down a slippery road with no outlet in sight. As I reminisce I feel a jolt of restrictive energy rush through my veins as my current view is much more expansive and promising.
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● ◎ ●

I drive down Santa Monica Blvd, occasionally glancing up at the explosive beauty that lights up the cityscape. It is July 4th 2015. The evening has yet to begin and I already feel a sense of fulfillment as fireworks light up my eyes. For the first time in four years I feel free from the outside world’s influence. A thought of you surfaces only to fade away in sync with a firework as it lights up, sizzles out and disappears into the night sky.

    It wasn’t until I lost you that I could finally see I held the key to my desired freedom all along. They say you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. In a way I think they’re wrong, for maybe in losing, we can finally realize that which is truly important can never be lost. For me, I needed to set you free in order to see this clearly for myself. In shifting my attitude I broke free and the fireworks that I wished for finally took flight. Now I truly understand what it means to be free. The holiday begins to take on a new significance and I realize we continue to hold onto something for as long as the mind remains attached.

           A burden lifts and my spirits soar as I arrive in West Hollywood to meet up with my friends. We stroll the streets, heading from Pump to The Abbey. As we hop around we pass a bar that’s playing “Genie In A Bottle.” I smirk at the irony. We head to Revolver as our last spot before calling it a night. I follow Austin down a set of stairs to the bathrooms and find myself in the men’s room. I giggle and shrug it off by doing what I know best in awkward situations as such, I dance. Whitney Houston belts out “I get so emotional baby,” as new arrivals greet us with initial looks of shock that quickly shift to smiles as they enter our dance floor and join in on the fun. If singing and dancing to Material Girl in the men’s bathroom on July 4th doesn’t scream independence, I don’t know what does.

          I arrive home in the early morning, park my car and take a moment to listen. I hear the birds sing and my heart beat. I draw in a deep breath. In this moment I’m happy and I wonder what could account for this current state of mind. I have reason to believe it has to do with appreciating all the good of the past with a sense of detachment, as well as a thoughtfulness in saying, “that was good, but I’m here now.” As I look back, I can now honor the beauty found in letting go. Strut, Fashion Model, Bates Motel, Los Angeles,

         A few days later I received an email with these words: “In the long run those who don’t eventually go “within,” often go “without”? You’ve got the power.”Talk about impeccable timing! I allow this to reaffirm my decision to conclude one chapter of my life as I crack open the next. I am satisfied that I finally understand the power I hold in creating the life I know I deserve. Lesson learned, happy are those who fight to find their freedom and refuse to ever let it go.

(Shout out to Allen for turning me onto The Internet’s new album, Ego Death)

|| CREATIVE DIRECTOR | MODEL ||

Morgan Ryan

|| PHOTOGRAPHY ||

Evan Woods

|| MAKEUP ||

Emily Gruen

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Shoes | Nike Force

● ◎ ●

|| MUSES ||

Aristotle

Confucius 

Dali Lama

Happiness by Chittister (pg. 45, 172)

PLEASURE & CHAOS || PART I: THE C R O S S R O A D S ||

A Collaboration with

THE M I G H T Y COMPANY

– – – – – –

“What is meant to be, is just that, and will unfold. Still, show some guts. Say to destiny, “I am calling the shots around here, go take a hike.”

-RUMI

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If you were to ask me where I’m headed, I would throw you a curve-ball and say, “hopefully somewhere I get lost.” Then again, I’ve never been one to give a straight answer to a simple question. Life seems too unpredictable not to play the same game. As a test of my self-awareness, I welcome the chaos of the unknown. I’m beginning to believe the sure-fire path to creating yourself requires getting lost…a little.

tresspassingThere was a confusing period where all I knew about myself was who I was not. I couldn’t explain it then, but by following my heart, I was confident it would lead me where I needed to be. If becoming lost meant I’d meet “a moment,” one that had the capability of reminding me just who I am, well then I’m certain I was wise in letting instinct be my guide.

A moment is far more complex than a simple label. It can be dynamic, as it has the capability to define in ways a word can not. “A moment,” such as the wind warmly greeting soft tousled hair, that has now become textured wisps, from dust in the air. As I reflect on this, it elicits a parallel memory from the day you and I met, and I let the wind carry me away.

– – – – – –

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Before me I see a road which meets in the middle and splits two separate ways. Torn between a place of safety and the unknown, I softly close my eyes as I slip away in a deep meditative bliss. I imagine my surroundings as my senses attempt to paint the landscape. I listen to the wind as it brushes tall feathered grasses which sway back in slight rebellion to the wind’s demand. As I escape into this daydreamers delight, I discover a place of repose; as you approach, and I alight.

In the midst of the cascading dance between wind and grass, I hear a voice that kindly calls me to relax. Instantly every muscle in my body calms as his voice soothes. It was in this instant my heart told me to open my sleepy eyes and awaken. I look up to greet smiling eyes, which mirrored the crystal-blue sky that hung overhead. One might say his sideways grin concealed a veneer of danger. I never was one to listen to the opinions of others, for they only noticed the obvious. It was only me that could see, he held all his power and meaning, behind those two eyes.

Locked in a gaze, I sink into eyes that genuinely smiled like my own as the sensation of butterflies stir within. In a blink of an eye, the moment evades me as my mind tries to make sense of these sensations and sends me into paralysis from over-analysis. He speaks again. Relief fills my mind and silences the voices in my head. An internal war begins to ensue, as I battle between the two: The path of feeling or logic.

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twirling

I found him–Or he found me

An informal harmony

of stable unpredictability

A life of excitement—we ignite the flame

and play with a fire

that neither of us could tame.

| Together we burn in a fury of Pleasure & Chaos |

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Down at the crossroads I was asked to make a choice, to listen to my feelings or a little voice of reason. Confused and unsure of which to trust, I remembered the one thing that brought me to this turning point, and that was my heart. I learned something that one fateful day; An unexpected encounter may not be easy to explain. People are placed here as we stumble along our way, to remind us who we are, and sometimes who we are not. It’s when you stay in the center of your own life that you begin to trust yourself enough that you may flow; and the more you can flow within, the more you can flow without.americanbarnmodernprom

Today I stand before you uncompromised, demanding who I am: I am that unknown path, the one you might hesitate to explore because you never know what you’ll get. Just know that’s okay with me, for I only want to see the wild ones. The ones who join me in dance, and rage on in jovial laughs, not kissing ass because we’re too busy kicking it.

Once again, I find myself down at the Crossroads. Whether you follow or not, that is up to you. As for me, I continue to take the unbeaten path. The one that encourages me to get a little lost, so that I’m encouraged to listen from within. In my heart I hold with me an unwavering hope, that I might come to find someone like you, who reminds me why I chose to get lost in the first place. For now all that remains is a trace of calmness amidst life’s chaotic storm. I thank you for that moment of pleasure, a warm breeze and a smile held the day’s treasure.

meetmeatcross| MAV M A N T R A |

Lead with the heart

 

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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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 S U M M I T || 12.29.14

“And she soared high above the trees,
towards the vast escaping light.
From the shallows of her darkness,
she broke free in majestic flight.”
– m.r.

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It was not even two hours after my flight had landed in Los Angeles that I found myself back where I had left off, Elysian Park. Before departing for New York two weeks ago, the crew and I headed up to the same spot after our latest shoot to watch the sunset and revel in our potential, which twinkled in the city lights below.

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Jet lagged and running off of four hours of sleep, it was safe to say I was in need of some Vitamin D, product of California. This I figured would dust off any remaining cobwebs created by the New York Winter I just encountered.
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With my leather backpack slung over my right feather-coated shoulder, I made my way up to my favorite spot to detox, re-center, and grab a dose of fresh air. The sun was warm, the air crisp, as both penetrated my very being in the friendliest manner. Before me lay a scenic playground. I lightly played ambient music, hoping to drone out the plentiful amount of thoughts that raced through my mind, quite similar to the twirling streets that lay ahead of me as I made my way to the top.

// The Summit //
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As I parked at the peak’s overlook, I opened the car door, turned up the volume on my radio, and took a seat on the stone ledge. Something felt mildly ironic as I placed my feet, properly protected by synthetic floral Doc Martens on Mother Nature’s rich soil. Breathing deeply from my diaphragm, I began to welcome in happiness, kindness, peace, and love. In return, what goes up must come down–and on the exhaling breath, out came any traces of sorrow, malice, discomfort, or greed. I continued in this way with a rose quartz in one hand and a cooling green stone in the other. A warming sensation washed over me. This time it wasn’t the sun, but rather the sunshine within me.

// My light //

I began to work my way into a trance. Visualizing a time I was very happy and in a way, transporting myself back into that landscape. I imagined Santa Cruz. I smelled the fresh ocean breeze laced with sea salt and remembered the uplifting presence I once felt. At the time I was in love, madly, adding to the natural high I had experienced and was currently cultivating once again. Time stopped as I freeze framed a once picture perfect moment. I didn’t care about anything. Not a moment that came before, nor anything in that present moment. And definitely nothing that lay ahead of me.

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I can in part owe much of this to you, as at the time I wasn’t fully aware of many concepts, including that of Tao. I only saw that you were totally and utterly awake. Because of you, I saw and experienced the highest feeling we as humans can encounter, the Present Moment. I realize now, you were only the vessel of this message that now lives within me. To my surprise, this was only the beginning of my journey,
a journey of self.

I realized each individual in our life serves a very specific purpose. We are all vessels of light and by knowing this, we are encouraged to touch one another with our unique power. When we touch others, we impart a piece of ourselves on one another, in hopes that they may now carry it within themselves. These people either stay, leave, or come in and out of your life like the ebb and flow of a tide, to serve as a reminder that
 all we seek can be found within.

Mantra:
I know I’m never alone–
because I always carry a piece of you,
within me.
.  .  .

 We give so that we can receive.
And where you end, I begin.

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Pretty Thoughts

You looked at me with certainty.
I couldn’t look away.
Took your jacket off like,
Like you were here to stay.
Chasin’ your pretty thoughts
And your plastic love.
There goes my mind,
Let it go.
You’re that lace trimmed danger,
One day you’ll be the face of a stranger.

-Pretty Thoughts, Alina Baraz

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We were dancing and I was feeding off the energy of everyone around us. We weren’t necessarily dancing together but we seemed to compliment eacb other nicely as people undeniably noticed us. He looked at me with his effortlessly cool smile and said,

“You’re the freest spirit of them all.”

I know I’ve always maintained an air of freedom about me and I’m aware of my ability to adapt to any environment,  but I never truly connected myself to the word “free-spirit,”not until that moment. I guess it’s because connecting myself to a word then begins to feel like a label, and I tend to run away from any type of restriction. (Yet again another hint that my spirit needs freedom to roam, guess he’s right)  You never really believe something until you hear it from someone whose opinion matters.

.  .  .

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 As a result of my curiosity and love for the unknown, I learned more about the term and as a result I give you The Free-Spirit Commandments:

1. Be Free

 live your life as a free agent and don’t be afraid to contradict yourself

2. Pursue your Passions

but also take the time to figure out what they really are – which is arguably much more difficult. 

3. Let Go of Barriers

when you’re brutally honest about the barriers in front of you can you find solutions for moving past them.

4. Let Go of Rebellion

disliking something simply because it’s conventional is just as mindless as liking it for that same reason.

5. Be Here Now

engage with the people, places, and things around you on a deeper level and you’ll find that your reactions to them will suddenly become a lot more authentic

6. Starve The Ego

the death of authenticity; once you become more interested in impressing than being, everything you’ve been working toward will disappear.

7. Honor Others Freedom

remember that your freedom ends where everyone else’s begins.

.  .  .

|I figure you can’t take life too seriously, it will begin to laugh at you|

 

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The Wanderess

“She was free in her wildness. She was a wanderess, a drop of free water.

She belonged to no man and to no city.” – Roman Payne

 

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Arsenic Magazine Feature 
Photographed: Ev Marquee
Hair/MUA: Daisy Palos

Elysian Park, Los Angeles. January 2014

As snow falls in New York, it seems as if Summer has arrived in Los Angeles. I arrive in Elysian Park as the sun shines over the City of Angeles. Palm trees line the left side of the dirt path that I drive along, windows down and the sunroof peeled back. My face greets the cooling breeze. As I draw in a dose of sunshine and a breath of fresh air I couldn’t imagine a more perfect moment-That’s when I caught a quick yet distant glimpse of the Hollywood sign as I turned the corner. I marveled at the sight of the infamous letters that lay staggered in the hillside. I had never seen them at eye level. |That’a the thing about corners, you’re guaranteed a few surprises|.

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The park was so grand that I got lost a few times before finding the set location; Whether that was by choice or default I will not say. The views were spectacular and characteristically different from the next. In one instance I felt as though I was in Palm Springs and just around the bend I was promised a sight similar to that of Northern California. I wanted to see where the road would lead next, but I was already lost and 15 minutes late so I refrained.

I pulled up to the location where I found Ev and Daisy awaiting my arrival under the shade of a tree. We made our way to a park bench to set up for todays transformation which was that of a woodsy, hunter wanderess. Daisy got situated and propped open her make-up case which effortlessly unfolded into two levels like a London double decker. I likewise proceed to get comfortable, situating myself in my usual cross-legged ‘Indian Style’ fashion facing Ev. I noticed in those moments sitting with Ev there was a peacefulness. A comfortable silence washed over allowing me to focus on the present moment of the atmosphere. I gently closed my eyes as Daisy began to work on my makeup and my senses sharpened. I listened to the natural music made by the birds who sang lightly from the same relative direction of the sun above that kissed my skin.

About 30 minutes had passed before I was handed a mirror. The usual tinge of excitement mixed with fear rushed through my veins as I pick up the mirror to reflect on who I had just become. A few auburn wisps fell beside my face and danced playfully in the afternoon breeze. I slipped into a burgundy one piece and draped a faux-fur jacket over one shoulder.

“Wow,” an onlooker mumbled under his breath and then proceeded to stumble over his own two feet. All three of us looked at one another and giggled like young teenage girls at the affect I seemed to have over the stranger. With the tone set, we were ready to shoot. We jumped in Ev’s Jeep Wrangler and headed off into the winding streets of our next adventure.

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Be sure to check out the full submission: http://arsenicthemagazine.com/submissions/2014/2/4/ev-marquee-evmarquee

And heart it while you’re at it (if your feeling fancy).

The Hummingbird

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You’ll learn, as you get older, that rules are made to be broken. Be bold enough to live life on your terms, and never, ever apologize for it. Go agaisnt the grain, refuse to conform, take the road less traveled instead of the well-beaten path. Laugh in the face of adversity, and leap before you look. Dance as though everybody is watching. March to the beat of your own drummer. And stubbornly refuse to fit it.”

-M.H

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I always noticed the hummingbirds. They seemed to follow me everywhere I went. They especially showed up whenever the self-doubt began and I was on the verge of giving up.

The hummingbird is a symbol of resilience as it is capable of the most amazing feats despite its small size. Whenever I see a hummingbird it serves as a reminder to continue being adaptable and resilient while maintaining a playful and optimistic outlook.

Following your dreams isn’t as glamorous and easy as its made to seem…if so, everyone would be doing it. That’s what I find the most upsetting; When people settle. Don’t settle for the ordinary when you can have the extraordinary.

If there’s anything I have learned throughout the process, you must be yourself, know your strengths and limitations, stop comparing yourself, and always adapt. You’re YOUnique for a reason, you have to have that extra spark that distinguishes yourself from everybody else doing the same thing for a reason. Never hide who you truly are, go out a show the world your brilliance. So next time when you’re thinking about quitting, think of a hummingbird.

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