MANAGING STRESS, SOME THOUGHTS

THE COUNTDOWN IS ON... We are so close -God willing- to moving into our newly renovated condo, in addition to being about a month out from our wedding and an oversees honeymoon. These events are creating all good things, absolutely wonderful and exciting things; nonetheless, A LOT of things, for me to do in a fairly compact window of time. Did I mention I am also turning 30 the week of the wedding and attending another friend's wedding out of state the weekend before mine? I haven't even seen my wedding dress -it's being made- and we are hosting a family dinner likely as the paint is still drying in the new condo. Interestingly enough, despite everything going on, I am actually okay and very excited. Staying energized and organized has become a top priority lately and I have found a few solid things that have been helping me during this busy time I thought I'd share. Enjoy! 

EXERCISING AND EATING BETTERI know this might seem so obvious or just straight annoying to hear again and again, but it's the honest truth. I've always made the connection between exercise and stress reduction, but I've often ignored how big a role the food I consume impacts my mood and ability to manage daily stress. I have recently changed up my workout routine and really cleaned up some eating habits in advance of the wedding. I quit my gym membership where I was alternating between yoga and spin classes, and now do high intensity training workouts at Orange Theory. In terms of eating, I have significantly cut down on the refined sugar/carbohydrates and processed foods, adding in a surplus of vegetables, fruits and so much water. I have bene doing this all for almost a month and to be honest, I feel amazing. The difference is quite astonishing. I have always known a good amount about how to eat healthier and what foods are better for you because I listen to so many great podcasts that regularly discuss wellness (GOOP, The Skinny Confidential, Dr. and Mrs. Guinea Pig to name a few). I never really had significant health issues before (knock on wood) but I since cleaning up my diet I have noticed a big change in my energy levels and mood. I feel a lot less tired, more motivated in the afternoon/evening and better at working out. The first week of cutting down on refined sugars and carbs was challenging but once I was over the hump I stopped craving them as much and started to feel a lot clearer. I know this is a sensitive and often emotional topic for so many people, myself included, but it's something worth looking into to help not only manage stress but to also just to feel better, live better, etc. And as always, consult with a medical professional before making any significant changes to your diet. 

ASKING FOR HELP | I am a helping professional and I still struggle so much with this one! I have for most of my life lived by the false ideology of perfectionism and doing everything for myself has been a subconscious rule I am still working on getting rid of! I have been encouraging myself to reach out to friends and acquaintances with questions, recommendation requests, small favors, etc- which can feel very uncomfortable for me. What I do now when that happens is remind myself of how much I actually enjoy helping out a friend. Even if it's just talking out some of the things that are overwhelming me, having someone listen makes me feel less alone in what I have to do. Most of our daily stressors come from problems that feel bigger when kept inside our minds and having a supportive person to debrief with, whether a friend or professional, is often the healthiest way to reduce our worries/problem solve. I am not a parent yet but I would imagine that having a friend or family member help out here and there with childcare might feel like a lot to ask but something most people would be happy to do. We are social beings, no matter how independent we consider ourselves, we must rely on others to function and be well! 



PRIORITIZING SELF-CARE | I can't stress how important self-care is in managing stress. In fact, I recently wrote a whole blog post just on the topic. Often times not having a sufficient time to recover from a crazy day, week, month, even a year, has real outcomes on our physical/emotional wellness and ability to keep moving through life. We tend to have this unhelpful cultural norm that views relaxation as laziness or selfishness, but the reality is that we all need time to restore ourselves, even iPhone's need to recharge. No matter what responsibilities you have, self-care must always be at the top of the list because if you can't function at a basic human level, let alone one that feels good, then what is the point? How can you be of any assistance to yourself or others if you're falling asleep at the wheel, making extra mistakes, on a constant high or low from caffeine and refined sugar. It's not only not worth the expense on our bodies and minds, but it's just a straight out ineffective strategy if that's how you view life. Self-care can sometimes sound like a boujee concept, but in reality it's not an act of frivolity, it's one of restoration. More on this, here



SETTING REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS | “I can only do so many things in one day”- this thought appears on repeat in my mind and it's great reaffirming statement that calms me down when I start making never-ending to do lists in my mind. Speaking of to-do lists, I love them but often times once I start writing my list quickly becomes so large and overwhelming that I have a few times ignored them and went off memory just to avoid the shock of looking at all the things I have to do. Fortunately I employed this very simple trick I heard about on The Skinny Confidential Podcast, where you rank up to 7 items in order of importance and only focus on those 7 tasks until they are complete. They recommend completing them in exact order and really minimizing any interruptions, particularly emails, so that you can really accomplish the 7 main tasks of the most importance. I have been doing this now for several months and find it so incredibly helpful because it feels more obtainable and prioritizing the most important items first really reduces my anxiety about not getting things done. There are a lot of other good ideas out there for managing time but I think the most important thing is to be realistic about what you can get done and have a plan for leftover items. 



CREATING MORE PRODUCTIVE WEEKENDS | This one is so hard for me! It’s summer and all I want to do on the weekends (and every weekend really) is the fun stuff- blogging, reading magazines in bed, Pinterest-ing, seeing friends, entertaining, etc. I’ve often struggled with the idea that because it’s a weekend and I have more freedom to decide how I schedule my time, that somehow equates to endless amount of time. But the hard reality I face is that I only have 24 hours, things still take time, I get tired, things happen unexpectedly and other people’s schedules and priorities factor into mine. That doesn’t mean that I can’t get that breakfast in bed, lazy morning every once in a while, but it does mean I have to be more particular about what I say yes and no to. We all end up traveling on weekends because it's the easiest time of the week for most people to get away. However, it can be very stressful when you get back home Sunday night, feeling really unprepared for the rest of the week. I have learned to really try and make the most of my weeknights the week before a busy weekend, or just say no to doing things that won't allow me the time and rest I need. I just heard this wonderful new slang term-JOMO, which stands for the joy of missing out. Maybe it's because I am hitting 30 or because I am just too busy to care what everyone else is doing without me, but that is exactly how I feel right now!

-MGN

CHIC PLACES: BONJOUR FÊTE AT THE PALISADES VILLAGE


Ever since the Palisades Village first opened last year... I have become a full on regular. Living in Santa Monica makes the drive up PCH to this quaint little oceanside suburban oasis we call the Pacific Palisades, just that more inviting, and this charming shopping center has become the crown jewel of the tiny coastal town. The village isn't a massive mall but carries a lot of well known brands like Alo Yoga, Chanel Beauté, Serena & Lily, Sephora and Zimmerman. There's also a handful of smaller shops like The Little Market, Jennifer Meyer and my spotlight place for today, the one with the chic pink door, Bonjour Fête



Bonjour Fête, as you'd imagine by the charming French name, is a wonderfully well curated party supply shop. They have everything you could possibly need when it comes to throwing or attending a chic celebration; cake toppers, gift wrapping paper, disposable plates with the most non-disposable designs, favors, decorations and so much more, all perfectly laid out by color and occasion. Some of my absolute best finds were these blue and white marbled candles I've been using for years, these perfect blue and white porcelain paper plates and the absolute best sparklers!




As a one stop party destination they of course have the most beautiful gift wrapping paper, unique cards and lot's of gifts, all of which I'd love to receive as a hostess or present any day! Also, the hand soaps are perfection! I always say the best things to give people are trinkets they wouldn't buy themselves. I will probably never buy myself a fancy had soap but I most certainly want one and thankfully my friend Diana heard and gave me this adorable soap as a thank you gift when she stayed with me! 




Let's all take a moment to acknowledge this GORGEOUS hydrangea blue wrapping paper. I honestly can't imagine actually using it, it's simply too beautiful. 



I was so close to grabbing this Mr. Boddington thank you card set but figured I would wait until after I used all my blue wedding crest wax seals first!



Out of all the gifts here, I would most certainly want anything from the adorable selection of well packaged sweets! These truffles have been on my Pinterest lists forever and I am just waiting for a friend to send me some so I can keep the box after devouring the fanciest of truffles! Also, Sugarfina makes the most perfect additions to any present and are also great favors for a dinner party. How amazing are these pink pineapple gummies??? I can't even.







-MGN

CLASSIC STYLE: SUMMER TUNICS



There's nothing easier than a tunic... They are festive, colorful and easy; my instant wardrobe staple in warmer temps. I have always loved the silhouette; timeless, flattering on everyone. I've worn them as coverups, tops and dresses to the beach, barbecues, on boats and cocktail parties. I just can't seem to get enough! Tunics were considered fairly exotic before Tory Burch became one of the first designers to bring the tunic into western mainstream fashion. Since then, the tunic has remained an effortless symbol of style and many designers have created embellished, embroidered or just simple versions of the classic shape. More recently I've become obsessed with Sail to Sable for their extremely classic and clean designs in every imaginable color. A few of mine are from Caylpso St. Barth but unfortunately the stores are no longer. Fortunately for us, the brands might die but tunic will continue on forever as a classic ensemble for any summer or vacation related activity. These photos pictured are from my recent trip to Charleston, when I scouted this perfectly cool toned home and immediately pulled out this cornflower blue tunic to pick up the color. It's a lovely embroidered tunic by Tory Burch from a few years back. It's old but here's a link for it on Poshmark, where I found mine and many other great things! Of course I've linked a bunch of my favorites below that are ready to shop. Enjoy!












-MGN

Photography by Gladyxa Mari

CLASSIC STYLE: FIVE SUMMER STAPLES I'M OBSESSED WITH


I'm officially calling summer on Los Angeles; for whatever that means. The June gloom continues to linger but we've had a few mini heat waves and at some point the sun has managed to peek its stubborn head out in Santa Monica everyday for a few good hours. The summer for me has always been an exciting time, however, this one is full of major moments, my upcoming wedding being the biggest, turning 30 years old and being on the verge on completing our full condo remodel topping the cake that is summer 2019! So along with all this craziness going on, I'm letting myself breath in the most effective way. Online shopping. I've narrowed down quite a few of my lust worthy splurges into this mini summer staple guide. As you likely already know, I don't like spending a lot on fashion, hence my continued obsession with Forever 21 and Zara. However, there are a few things here and there that I consider an investment in my closet. These Celine tortoiseshell sunnies are the nicest sunglasses I have ever purchased and I have been so absolutely careful with them that I am starting have anxiety about loosing the case and therefore forgoing all protection possible, ruining my chances of keeping them longer than 6 months. I'd been eyeing them for quite some time, after my beloved Forever 21 thick rimmed glasses went missing, to which my friends said "oh the Celine pair" and I quickly realized how the fashion industry tends to work. Since then I have been very happy with the frame thickness, which as the salesman pointed out to me is 100% Celine and the classic tortoiseshell I will absolutely never tire of for the rest of my life, I am certain. I linked this exact pair, as well as some much more reasonable priced items below, in addition to the other summer things I am currently obsessed with. This dreamy Onia bikini by We Wore What, being my second best purchase yet. Enjoy!





-MGN

CHIC PLACES: GRAY MALIN'S ITALY COFFEE TABLE BOOK


Italy will always hold a special place in my heart. I studied the Italian language and culture for three years in high school and it was my minor as an ungraduate in college. I spent a semester abroad living and "studying" in Verona, Italy; which will forever remain my favorite place in Italy. Obviously my love affair started with the food, I could live on pasta, bread and cheese for the rest of my life if it didn't kill me and it's no surprise my love for Spritz, a drink I can honestly say I loved before it became so basic. Next love was obviously the beautiful language, then the movies and of course, the amazing Italian people, who are known for many things, the most important to me (next to pasta) being how to spend a summer well. Gray Malin has captured some of these moments perfectly through his photography series La Dolce Vita, a perfect set of inspirational images that will instantly make you lust for sun, Spritz and a colorful beach umbrella. When my fiancé and I went to Positano I had to show him Gray's lovely series at the fabulous La Fontelina Beach Club to lure him into a day trip to Capri. Hint, hint- it worked- and he even said that it was his favorite beach club out of all the ones we ventured to in the South of France and Amalfi Coast. Next time I think I might just completely skip Positano all together and just venture to Capri and Ravello themselves, they are so beautiful! 

Gray Malin has been such an inspiring artist for my generation, the content he creates is effortlessly chic and timeless. He shoots at some of most well established swoon -worthy destinations for leisure and in some ways is the Slim Aarons of our time. So when my friend Adele invited me to a book signing for Gray's latest book, Italy, I was beyond thrilled. The signing was held at the perfect venue, Serena and Lily, the home store of my beach house dreams. We arrived to a lively little party with Gray signing books and an abundance of Aperol Spritz's to go around. After getting our copies signed we sat for a minute and went through some of the pages, a few of my favorites below. I immediately decided I must visit Lake Como, Sicily and the beach cities of Tuscany I somehow didn't think existed. Overall, It's a wonderful collection of Italian summer escapes and I am excited to have it on my coffee table! Enjoy. 

Gray's Italian Summer Inspiration 











-MGN

WEDDING: MY BRIDAL SHOWER AT IVY AT THE SHORE


This past weekend some of my closest friends in Los Angeles threw me the sweetest lunch at one of my favorite restaurants, Ivy at the Shore. I can't imagine a more beautiful setting, the facade alone is enough to steal my heart, the abundance of pink bougainvillea spilling over a pretty pale pink and green trimmed Spanish style building. It was a perfect backdrop for the millions of pictures we took and coordinated well with my unintentional, but very Carrie Bradshaw-esque, all white ensemble (links to shop below). The table was stunning, the cocktails as delicious as they were pretty, and quite potent to be honest. The food was amazing, my friends brought a fun and not too cheesy game to play. The girls and I had a really lively afternoon in Santa Monica, to say the least. It was a perfect celebration and I was so incredibly touched by the sweet gift they created for me, despite my request for no gifts. Overall, it was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me and reminded me of how important these girls are in my life. 

So I’m almost embarrassed to admit I was completely touched by a celebration that I didn’t exactly want to happen. I had originally said no to the whole bridal shower idea from the day I got engaged, in addition to my choice to have a sister weekend in lieu of a bachelorette party. I think almost anyone, let alone the people who know how much I cherish any reason to get people together and celebrate, would be surprised to hear I wouldn’t want to partake in some of the most arguably common traditions we have celebrating American brides. And to be honest, I didn't exactly know why I felt this way after getting engaged, why I felt so much distance from the idea of celebrating myself and this special time in my life. I certainly had a ready response for inquiring minds, but it really wasn’t until this weekend, when I sat with these ladies, reading the loveliest book with messages from each of them and even a few who couldn’t be there, that I started to notice what my hesitation really was about.

To start, I’d like to be candid about my initial block. I identify as a feminist, a position that is not always popular, but for what it’s worth defending, to me means equality between all people, women and men and everyone in between. More on that here. Obviously I believe in marriage, but it’s always frustrated me the amount of pressure I’ve felt as a woman to be married, and the priority of attracting and maintaining a marriage, above everything else. And so as much as I LOVE attending and planning these celebrations for my friends, I suppose there was some deep rooted guilt about spreading a message that this is the main ways to be celebrated as a woman. I know we all have birthdays and other life moments, but haven’t you rolled your eyes a few time at the friends that do “birthday weeks” or want to do something fancy and expensive for themselves, with their friends? Have you ever shamed a friend’s splurge on nice shoes, aka that episode of Sex and the City, or questioned why a female would travel by herself? I’ve always seen these subtle, but powerful messages about what’s more important, missing a friend’s wedding or birthday party? The weddings always seem to rank higher, despite the fact that divorce rates do too. So I suppose I thought that if I didn’t partake in these celebrations, I’d be silently pleasing this part of me that often questions the status quo. 

But what I realized was that’s only half the puzzle. The other piece is the guilt I feel about letting people celebrate me. This is weird because I’ve always been extremely outgoing, on the surface it probably looks like I “celebrate myself” everyday. Remember readers, this is a curated lifestyle blog— not reality. But I think it hit me when I walked in and sat down with all these special friends, with the realization that this whole lunch would be about me and felt a tad uncomfortable. What's crazy is that this is something I talk about with my clients all day- do I not feel worthy of this appreciation, love, gratitude for my friendship? Do I lack self-love or the ability to be recognized for my contribution? I am still not exactly sure the answer to these questions —hey Freud please help. What I do know is that I’ve become more aware lately about how I accept praise. How I take a compliment without a funny, albeit, self-deprecating comment. To sit and listen to my clients, co-workers and mentees that I’ve helped them change, learn or grow. Perhaps there is a part of me that hasn’t fully allowed myself to accept praise, even though I do enjoy being appreciated. I’ve also thought that maybe it’s something a lot of people struggle with, maybe we are taught that humility has to equal selflessness. But maybe selflessness is just a deterrent to self love, a healthy confidence is perhaps something we all deserve. I’m still evolving with this one. 

One thing I know, however, is that I am worthy of this and extremely fortunate, to have such wonderful friends, who despite my extreme hesitancy to have a bachelorette-like weekend and bridal shower (she called it a lunch for my sake) strongly encouraged me to be celebrated. 

They say that we learn to love by the people who love us, and I must say, I’m still learning. Being appreciated, being shown attention, being celebrated are all things I know I want and need, and I’m working on accepting just that. 

Enjoy. 



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-MGN