| 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 

THE || C O N C R E T E || FLOWER

“Spark of inspiration,
Light my spirit’s fire,
Let the joy of creation
Be my heart’s desire.
Let me flow with the music,
Let me dance my dreams alive,
Let me sing my deepest feelings,
Until the whole world thrives.
Exploding into expression,
My joy takes many forms,
Leaving the tears and sadness
For the warmth of tender arms.

-Mystic Mamma

A few months back Bianka and I met briefly at Quixote Studios. Despite her bold style, it was her gentle character that I remember most. I instantly took a liking to her taste in fashion and humility. Little did I know she would soon again grace me with her presence.

This past weekend I wove in and out of Venice Beach with photographer, Sabrina Hill. We kept it casual as we bounced from one location to the next, changing looks in the car. This “on the whim” style of shooting has been my method ever since I could remember. I love the degree of uncertainty and innovation it creates and how it forces me to be resourceful. It opens me up to the opportunity to express my DIY spirit, while keeping me grounded in expression.

● ◎ ●

THIS IS A M A V E R I C K TUTORIAL:

|| HEADSCARF ||

Turban, Chic, Urban, Beauty, Fashionista

1. Flip your head to let your hair hang towards the ground

2. Place the scarf at the nape of your neck

3. With your hair gathered inside, begin twisting the scarf until it’s entirely twisted in one tight strand (Ex. twisting your hair up in towel after showering)

4. Allow the tension to coil the scarf naturally as you wrap each coil around the next until you have only the end of the scarf

5. Tuck the end up the base of a coil and pull through until tightly secured

Venice, Coffee, Flowers, Fashion● ◎ ●

Menotti's, Coffee, Venice, M, I use the car window for my mirror as I wrap my hair into a silk scarf, securing it into a top knot. I look up from the window to observe my surroundings. In the opposite direction of the boardwalk I notice a wooden sign embossed with a cursive M. Starry-eyed, I point to it as if I’m Captain Morgan and I’d just discovered some uncharted territory. Clearly this was a fully established location but this didn’t stop me from seeing it as today’s treasure.

|| ON THE M A P || #XMarksTheSpot || (Better yet, #MMarksTheSpot) 

Location: Menotti’s.

Smile, Menotti's, Venice Beach,

Menotti's, Coffee, Venice Beach, DIY, House of Harlow, Succulent As we head towards the quaint coffee stop, I notice a tall, well-dressed woman meticulously placing floral arrangements on a wooden barrel outside. As I draw nearer. she turns around and I am greeted by a familiar face. I’ll admit it, I’ll admit it. I am horrible with names, but when it comes to a face, I always remember. We re-introduce ourselves and catch up for a few moments. Curious about the flowers, I ask her what they’re for. Come to find out they’re her newest creation, Bianka Blooms, an artistic platform to spread love and positivity. Quite simple and true, however she forgot the most obvious aspect of her work, beauty. Without second thought I ask if I could incorporate them into the shot.Rosie The Riveter, Tough, Strong, Beauty, Denim Jacket,

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What I love most about my craft is how I see the world. I’m just a young adult with the spirit of a child. With eyes of wonder, I see the world as as one big playground. I joyfully smile as I step into today’s pre-determined scene and begin interacting with the energy. As Sabrina tests the light, I take a few moments to talk the girls leisurely sipping on their lattes across the way. As people begin to pass by, I can’t help but engage with my them. Bianka snaps some behind the scenes shots with her iPhone and slips in some words of encouragement like “Your killin’ it Morgan.” A young boy then passes by with his family, he looks back again saying “That’s gonna be a good shot!” Then an older gentleman comes up from the street, greeting us with a smile. I send him one back and he demands more people should make me smile so my dimples show.

In that moment it was as if time didn’t exist. In slow motion, I watched these people from different walks of life as they passed by me. Despite their differences they were all doing one thing in common. They were smiling. I realized the images we originally set out to capture were not nearly as important as the real deal, the present moment. What struck with me most was how my desire to live authentically somehow created this catalyst for human interaction, connection and collaboration. We all shared a connection in that moment by adding our own unique energy to the space. Without a doubt the tangible can evoke feeling. However it can never truly re-create that energy ever again. I will never forget the warmth and love I experienced this past weekend and how my intuition brought me face to face with fate.

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| MAV MANTRA |

Love breeds love

PETAL P I C K H. E. R.

“Jim raised me up
He hurt me but it felt like true love.
Jim taught me that
Loving him was never enough.”

– LANA DEL REY, Ultraviolence

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I lay in a feathery cloud of down comforters picking petals off Gerbera flowers the color of pink lemonade. Their uplifting hue providing a refreshing sensation similar to the summer drink. The corners of my mouth being to curl into a slight smirk as I reminisce on the “he loves me, he loves me not” days. I playfully engage in this old behavior. A romantic air permeates the room. I look down at the flowers I had just destroyed, yet to me they still retained a figment of their original beauty.

I bought the flowers for no particular occasion other than the fact I felt I deserved them. Now the perfect gift lay in ruins. I look again at the beautiful mess I created and a connection between myself and those petal-less flowers began to brew.

I believe the way you treat yourself is a direct reflection of they way you wish to be treated by others. Just within realizing that concept I began to gain back a sense of control I had unknowingly misplaced. I realized I allowed the love for another to overpower my love for myself. As I became more aware with each passing moment, I reset the standard of personal respect for myself and I began to regain this sense of power back. Much like the action of picking petals from a pretty flower, I had been ruined by my desire for love from another. I had allowed my source of love to become dictated on someone elses terms instead of my own.

As Lana Del Rey’s new album, Ultraviolence, plays in the background, I re-visit the once harmless action of desiring one’s love by the petals of a flower. Retracing the pattern in my mind, I’m now conscious to the fact that my own love is far more important than the love I had once longed for, which proved to be self-destructive. This transformation from submissive masochism into self-appreciation is the key that will eventually open the door for someone truly deserving to share your love versus strip you of it.

“Yeah my boyfriend’s pretty cool
But he’s not as cool as me
Cause I’m a Brooklyn baby.”

-LANA DEL REY, Brooklyn Baby

.  .  .

I look down at a single flower that had some how managed to weather the storm. I gently pick it up in my hands and begin picking its petals again. This time with each pluck, I think to myself, ” I admire my creativity.” Then another. “I admire my inner beauty.” I keep picking until I lay in a pile of petals filled with meaning. As I look at these symbols of admiration, I am finally left with a love that I can call my own.

// The perfect Summer Fling Love //