HOLIDAZED: SOME THOUGHTS ON HOW TO DEAL

Because sometimes the holidays aren't merry and bright... beyond the mistletoe, classic movies, enticing treats, ornate decorations and overhaul of lofty expectations for happiness, altruism and gratitude, is the not so jingle worthy reality that holidays can also be hectic, stressful, overindulgent, lonely and expensive. When our friends, families, partners, kids and coworkers can bombard us with unattractive small talk, uncomfortable political discussions, the overconsumption and ugliness of too much food and booze. Reminders of those who've passed or are no longer are in our lives in the way they used to be, the tendency to overlook or instigate the differences and separations between family members. The reality that a picture perfect holiday doesn't exist no matter what Instagram and the Macy's windows tell us. So today I'm offering a little room for us all to be real about the part of the holiday that hasn't always been so celebrated, but has always had a seat at the table. I originally wrote this post last year around the holidays and my intention was to write a newer version, but it seems like pretty much everything still applies. So I tweeked a few things and added some new thoughts, but for the most part, these were the main themes I considered when thinking about the holi-daze we can easily fall into. I write this post with a lot of honesty, empathy and of course, love. Enjoy. 

1. Mindfulness around the food and booze... but seriously, so hard. This, I believe is one of the most difficult things for me to maintain mindfulness about during the season of nonstop feasting, cheering, and nibbling on salt and sugar. If you are only planning to attend one celebration then by all means go all out and deal with the cookie and alcohol combo hungover but for those of us attending multiple holiday parties it's a slippery slope. And let's be real, I often find the yummy cheese plate and glass of rosè as a reward for doing 20 minutes straight of small talk with a girl named Sara who hates her boss, no offense to any Sara's out there. It's so tempting to just calm our social anxiety with too much cake and wine but, at the end of the day I will often ask myself, "is it worth the lull, the bulge, the lack of energy?" And to be clear, I always ask myself these questions from a place of love and acceptance of my body, and not shame and resentment for my choices. I try sometimes to think of all the cocktail parties as a marathon, not a sprint, trying to think of other ways I can manage some of the temptation by nourishing myself maybe before I go to a party with foods that make me feel good, so I'm not starving and consuming large amounts of food that won't feel good the next day. It's not an easy task but before alternating between nonstop fasting and feasting for several months, it might be worth some consideration. 

2. Family comes first, but...  The holidays are also supposed to be enjoyable, so why do others have to dictate what that looks like exactly? I know, I know, this is hard one. But I really believe that as individuals we need to stop apologizing for wanting more for ourselves, especially when it comes to our own happiness. If you don't enjoy seeing Aunt-oh how are you still single?- then don't. I understand people have commitments to see family for so many different and complex reasons, and sometimes it's just not feasible. I wonder, however, if is at all feasible to cut some of the guilt out and do what's best for yourself, your partner, or your kids in any small way (for example limiting the time with difficult family members or planning something separate and special for yourself or loved ones). Life is just too short and the holidays too special not to enjoy some or all of it the way you'd like. 

3. Can we just say no... Like the last thought but a tad easier sometimes than with family. Saying no to "omg I haven't seen you in forever, let's do brunch", saying no to more than two secret Santa's, saying no to the entire cookie making station, just take your snap of the cute holiday party invite and Instagram that custom hot chocolate making station and get the hell out. Saying no to whatever you don't want to go to and stop feeling bad about it. It's not selfishness, it's common sense. Remember, the holidays are about being happy, right?

4. #Holiday on a budget...Let's face it, way easier said than done and I am no expert in budgeting. We all want that understated but ultra-luxe and on trend New Year's Eve dress, the substantial donation to our favorite charity,  the extra pretty gift wrap option, the $70 ugly Christmas sweater (I wish I was kidding), that gift that makes our partner go wow! And with social media it's hard to re-wear the expensive cocktail dress and not be a tad jealous about what model Range Rover kid car the Joneses got Timmy. It's the thought that counts and I'll admit that it is sometimes very difficult for me to understand that fully. So in the spirit of supporting the opportunity and meaning behind giving this season, making a budget for everything involved, not just the gifts and donations, but the real cost of each event, the holiday cards, the last minute/overpriced bottle of champs, the beauty regimens, the Uber surge pricing, the outfits, the secret Santa gifts you forgot about until the night before, and all the little extra details that add up, aka the $8 ornate, but oh so convenient  wine gift bag nobody will ever use again. 

5. Don't just do it for gram...I know, I know, I'm a total hypocrite. But I do constantly tell myself this all the time and for the most part it reminds me why I gather and plan before the gram (haha that wasn't meant to rhyme but I like it). Remember that you can Insta at anytime and often it's the photos we don't post that make us look cooler. If you're having a good time, the photo can wait, if it has to happen at all. Heather Dubrow said on her podcast that she only takes photos at the beginning of an event so she can enjoy the rest of her time without worrying about it. Clearly she isn't a blogger, but hey I think the principle still applies. Some of the best photos required the most work and stress. I am clearly still thinking hard about this one... 

6. Exercise, exercise, exercise... A general rule of thumb that's been particularly useful for me in this last year. If I can't make time to relieve the stress, then I don't make it. AKA if I know I'm going to be in a frenzy going to three events in one week and won't have time to recover (aka workout or relax a night or two in between) then I just don't go. Its kind of like putting gas in the car, if you are constantly on empty you won't be able to go very far! 

7. Can we honor those who've passed... Perhaps one of the hardest parts about the holiday is being reminded of those who we have lost, who played significant roles in our celebrations in past years and remind us of how much we miss them even if the rest of the year is more bearable. As a therapist I often encourage clients to acknowledge the loss in the safest and most bearable way possible. This can vary from reading a poem or quote, playing a particular game, sharing a fond memory, eating a special food or even visiting the grave or special place he or she used to love. These are not as simple as they sound and perhaps not appropriate for every situation, however, often times allowing a welcomed space, that may come with some sadness and difficult memories, feels better in the long run then avoiding the loss entirely. 

8. And maybe it's okay to be sad... As a matter of fact, maybe we can even plan for it, just a little. Like I mentioned before, as much as the holidays are fun and filled with happy memories, they are also sometimes stressful and emotionally draining. We tend know ourselves well enough to sense when we might have an extra hard time putting up with a parent who might not change, a recent breakup, or a change in life circumstance beyond our control. And when everyone is forcing cheerfulness and gratitude down your throat it can often leave us feeling extra sensitive to the things we don't have, or did and lost. It's never a bad idea to have a little plan in place for these days — maybe promising yourself no guilt in saying no to a party invitation, or treating yourself to a massage/movie/SoulCycle class, having a friend on speed dial who is comfortable with just listening or watching a re-run of Friends. We all have things that make us sad and often times the stress or pressure that comes with this season brings it up a little more for us, and for what it's worth, I'm here to tell you that is so okay. 


Tis' the season and take care, but really

-M
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AN AUTUMN INSPIRED CHEESE PLATE


As you know... I am not much of a cook. I do try to refrain from eating mounds of quick meals from Postmates or Whole Foods by preparing myself chicken, quinoa, and veggies as much as possible, but I by no means enjoy it. So when the holidays roll around (or just another Monday night) I like to stick with what I’m good at; pouring the drinks and throwing together a fabulous cheese plate. So in the sprit of the season, I created my lovely little fall inspired cheese plate. As per usual on my boards I always try to mix sweet and salty, with a soft cheese, typically a form of creamy Brie, a hard cheese, often my favorite Manchego and then something in between in texture and taste; typically something more strong in taste like a blue cheese, but this time I did Morbier. To make it more autumn-like I added some pumpkin seeds, dried apricots, blood oranges (in season now) and apple, with a honey sauce to dip. And there you go, an easy, festive and incredibly delicious way to entertain. Enjoy! 




Brie Humble!

-MGN
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PINK PEACOAT NYC


A pretty pink peacoat ... makes the dreary sweater weather in New York so much more bearable, I’d imagine. I was secretly happy about cooler temps during my stay in NYC last week, as they appear to be fleeting in Los Angeles. When I planned for this trip I really wanted layers and fortunately this coat is thin enough to lay nicely over a thick and cozy sweater, without being bulky. Mine is from last year but I linked a very similar and reasonably priced option here. Its also a great lighter coat option for spring and those semi muggy, semi chilly days most of the country tends to see. And of course I shot this outfit outside the pretty pastels at Ladurèe. Didn’t get a chance to visit the beautiful soho location but fortunately we now have two locations in Los Angeles to brighten any rainy day. Enjoy. 




Happy Weekend!

-MGN

photography by diego farfan
makeup by anita aguirre
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2018 AGENDAS


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What have we got on the agenda today...? As much as I love technology, I’ve still kept some artifacts of the past in my daily life. For example, phone calls, books you can hold, handwritten cards, and of course, my trusty old school agenda. For the last 5 years I have used the same agenda from Gallery Leather because it's got a great weekday outline, divided by each hour, which helps me keep all my sessions and meetings straight. And of course, they monogram. I will most likely continue to order the same version every year, until I can justify purchasing a Symthson but I complied a list of other noteworthy (see what I did there) options too! Now full disclosure, I do use my google calendar (synced to my iPhone calendar) to keep all my personal dates such as dinner plans, blogger events, vacations, etc. But I find it much easier to keep all my work related items like meetings, client appointments and trainings, in a more tangible way. I will admit, that with Outlook appointments and Google docs the temptation is real to put it all online, but there's just something so much more meaningful to me about writing things down, especially important dates and being able to physically keep track of everything. I also think it's in poor taste (no offense 2017) to use my phone during a work meeting or in front of clients, and so using a planner keeps me organized and feeling a bit more professional. So if you're anything like me, this selection of organized eye candy will get you going, to work! Enjoy! 

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NAVY ON NAVY

Well, well, it's FINALLY sweater weather here in Los Angeles, aka 65 degrees, and I am fully embracing fall now; even outside my air-conditioned office. And to me the fall season always has my style leaning more towards menswear; baggy sweaters, blazers, darker colors like blues, greens, and brown, and of course, a staple men's watch. I have always loved a 'borrowed from the boys' look and an oversized watch is one of the chicest ways to add it in. I have been searching the last couple years for a navy face version, as I always find myself in some shade of blue on a daily basis, and I think I have found just that! I am obsessed with my new navy on navy watch from Lilienthal Berlin. It had just what I was looking for and at right price point too. I love the pebbled leather and the ability to switch out the bands from the new Urbania collection, which I have in rose gold/white with a red strap to mix and match. I just tried it on with pink coat and the red looked less bold and much more fall like, if that makes sense. And the blue looks so great with navy velvet blazer I just got, can't wait to pair them. Enjoy! 








Happy November, 

-MGN

CHAMPS + CIDER FALL PUNCH


It's starting... to be that time of year again. The time when we start getting invite after invite, eating cheese plate after cheese plate (or is that just me...) and drinking from punch bowl after punch bowl. Any good hostess knows that it's just easier to make a punch, instead of multiple rounds of cocktails fit to everyone's specifications. And as an avid party goer I tend to steer clear of them because they always seem to be loaded with sugar and not strong enough haha. So here a very simple recipe, less sweet version, even I can handle to make. A festive fall themed punch, enjoy!

Ingredients 
2 bottles of your favorite champagne 
1 quart cider (I used the 365 organic pumpkin spiced apple cider from whole foods)
1/2 cup of Cointreau (optional) 
2 trays of ice cubes 
1 lemon sliced up 
5 cinnamon sticks 

Mix all together in a large punch bowl and add a cinnamon stick to each glass for taste and garnish! 

*Serves 5






Enjoy, let me know what you think!

-MGN
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ON A DEEPER NOTE...

As a therapist who has worked with so many victims of sexual trauma I'm amazed by the outpouring of women AND men who've come forward, but unfortunately I am shocked by some of the responses from both men and women as a result. Let's get one thing straight, sexual violence is not about being a pretty face or dressing suggestively. It's not about women trying to get ahead or being willing to exploit themselves for the sake of fame. It's about our society's belief that some people have no other value aside from their sexuality. It's not about being coquettish or playing coy. It's about our society reducing a female's value to that of a sex object. It's not about men being led on, sex addicts or dawgs. It's about men being raised to feel as if they have more worth. It's about men believing they are entitled to sex without consent. It's not about sex trafficking, it's about the demand the world has for buying sex. It's about it being acceptable to call women sluts, whores, bitches, the c-word. It's about women being portrayed as emotional, gold diggers, dramatic, unreasonable, or a burden. It's about girls being told that when boys are mean they actually like them. Violence is about power and control, so let's stop giving men with atrocious behavior the ability to exert it. How about we allow kids to be innocent and not sexualized (Toddlers & Tiaras). How about we rename The Real Housewives to The Real Women (entrepreneurs, advocates, mothers & role-models). How about we let women choose how they express their sexuality, not categorize them as either good or bad. How about we compliment little girls on more than just their pretty dress or cute smile. How about we stand up against sexual violence, not just because we have a daughter, mother, sister, aunt, girlfriend, niece or wife, but because we are human beings. Whether women run fortune 500 companies or fabulous households, it all comes back to respect. We've already made so much progress and despite thinking Weinstein took us 50 years back, I believe it will help us move 50 years forward. I'm feeling pretty hopeful, hope you are too.

Here's to the next 50 years, 

-MGN

DIY BLUE + WHITE CHINOISERIE PUMPKINS


My favorite color combo... will always be relevant. Whether in my living room, my daily uniform of various shades of blue and white, my Instagram feed, my Christmakuh decorations, and now pumpkins too, this is and will always be the color scheme of choice. So when I found these amazing chinoiserie pumpkins last year on Pinterest, my heart fluttered and I immediately got out all my acrylic paint and did my best at creating some semblance of a pattern all over my pumpkins. I quickly realized the white pumpkins needed to be raised one shade whiter so this year I made sure to grab an additional paint and keep a steady hand with the blue. Here's some pattern inspiration and all the tools you'll need indulge the most timeless color combination. Enjoy! 

What will you need
1. acrylic paint, blue shades 1 & 2 and white
2. small and big paint brush set
3. magazines or newspaper to save your table 
4. pumpkins (I used fake ones so I can keep them for next year too but acrylic paint will also work well on a real pumpkin) 

Blue and White Chinoiserie Pattern Inspo



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Happy Chic-O-Ween!!

-MGN
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THE M LIST: OCTOBER


1. Chic-O-Ween in full swing! Yes, I made that sentence up and I'm proud of it. I think I'm starting to like Halloween more now as an adult then I did as a kid or teenager even. I think maybe because ever since graduating from college I've become more, shall I say, creative, with my costumes. My best one yet, here. I've already been watching Hocus Pocus, Harry Potter and Gilmore Girls on repeat and started wearing sweaters every day despite the temperatures hitting an average of 88 degrees everyday at noon. I've also decorated some beautiful blue and white chinoiserie pumpkins I'm excited to share and of course, a delicious fall themed cheese plate. 

2. Girls trip to NYC, and of course it's me and my three friends, so basically I'm Carrie Bradshaw. I'm very excited to go to New York, I truly believe I'm better suited to live there more then Los Angeles. I love the hustle and fast pace of New York, the rush of being busy just makes sense to me. I also of course love how fashion forward people are, and how restaurants are not just known for who's there and what they look like, but also have a very high standard for good food. New York also seems to have more tradition and history that people actually appreciate. Needless to say, I'm also very excited to see some friends, particularly one who I miss terribly after she left LA about a year ago. So if you have any recommendations for places to shop, eat, relax, see, be fabulous  — please let me know!! 

3. MoviePass an app that will sound too good to be true for any movie theater going lover like me, which apparently offers one movie theater pass per day for less then $10 per month. There has been controversy about how feasible this idea is but I can't wait to test is out. The average movie ticket cost in Los Angeles is more then the monthly cost of this service so I'd be more then happy to test is out, especially since prime movie theater time is upon us (Oscar season) and I just love a good afternoon theater outing. It's actually the one thing almost always do by myself (aside from serious shopping) and has always been a great way for me to deal with stress. 

4. Fall reading list. I have to admit I have once again fallen off the wagon with reading. I would like to say this doesn't happen all the time or that I'm really busy but I'd be lying because EVERY time I start reading again, I fall off the wagon and as busy as I am I still manage to watch every episode of Real Housewives while knocking out work on my laptop. Usually a vacation helps since I need something for plane rides and while lounging but I actually left my copy of Rich People Problems (the 3rd installment in the the Crazy Rich Asians Series and a great easy read) at our hotel in France this summer, so I need to order another stat. I also started reading Fake Plastic Love but have hit a bit of a wall. So any recommendations? I found some good lists here and here

5. The Harvey Weinstein news that recently broke has been weighing heavily on my heart. On one hand I am so relieved that after decades of injustices against many women, a man with great power was ousted. But I am also extremely disappointed at the fact that such insidious behavior was tolerated for so long, up until it was publicly shamed. Sexual harassment, assault and violence is a truly evil and systematic problem in almost every industry, all over our country and the entire world. This makes everyone responsible, from parents teaching our young people to respect one another, from teachers educating students about consent, from HR departments executing a no-tolerance policy, to decent human decency suggesting we show one another safety, respect and integrity. It's a great thing I suppose that we as a society are starting to take this problem more seriously then in the past and that women have more of a platform for speaking out. But I guess it's still sort of sad that we have advanced so far with technology, education and laws, and yet still are so behind on basic human rights- the right to live a safe and fulfilling life. But here's my part, my mini contribution, my opinion that may or may not make a big difference but that like many others, can slowly, help change the world. It's as simple as respect. Respecting those around us, those with more power, those with less. Respecting our children, neighbors, strangers, ourselves. If we can equate people, we can live free of exploitation. 

Much love and RESPECT, 

-MGN

THOSE WERE THE DAYS...

{my senior class photo}

A walk down memory lane... If you noticed on Instagram, I was recently back in my hometown of Chicago visiting my family and friends as I tend to do about once a year, preferably during the summer (aka the best time in Chicago). This year just happened to be my 10 year high school reunion, man how time flies, so it just made sense to make a weekend out of it and let the nostalgia sink in! I still talk to my main group of girlfriends from high school but seeing a bunch of people I went to school with was quite an experience. Full disclosure, my high school experience was quite nice. I always tell people "I got lucky" considering how tough teenagers can be and just the unique nature of the adolescent experience itself. And as a therapist who enjoys working specifically with teens, I just can't help but think about where I was at that time, during those super important years of my life. I think back to my own experience and realize that I really haven't changed too much, aside from having a tad more confidence, less drama with friends and the very fortunate realization that blonde is not my best hair color.  

{a page I designed in yearbook class with a real dress I wore to turnabout in the backdrop}

But aside from the normal developmental milestones we tend to make post grad, I really, truly believe we evolve as people and that our core personality, fears, and desires are fairly similar over our lifetimes. That they always remain a significant part of the person we were and the person we will continue to always be. So to think back about that time when my friends and I all left our little four year safe heaven, graduation caps and futures in tow, and I wondered where I would be when we reunite in ten years, I can honestly say that I might not have been wearing the exact same outfit I imagined, married to the same celebrity crush (yeah turns out that date with Jesse McCartney didn't pan out), or had exactly the same life I dreamed about at 18. But the way I thought about myself, the ambitions I had for my future, the things that were most sensitive and real for me, are really all quite the same now. I always knew I wanted something different and more exciting, I knew I would be equally as passionate about helping people as my creative outlets. I knew I wanted to leave Chicago and see what else was out there, take on the challenge of meeting new people and experiencing new things. All of these things were just as real when I was a tenth grader as they are now, about to turn 28, and although some of the aesthetics might look a little different, they will likely be a more evolved, but similar version when I'm 50, and when I'm 70 and when I'm 100. Living proof pictured below, in one of my newspaper columns encouraging young people to care about politics. And I can honestly say I still stand behind every statement!

{ my column in the school newspaper} 

When I see today's youth, they are mostly coming in for therapy because of some hardship in their life (but what teenager doesn't report hardship at least once a week let's be real) I must say I am really impressed by how mature, thoughtful, and ambitious they are. They all seem to have very clear personas and feelings about the world and how they fit into it. I can say almost every teenager tends to have a bit of angst considering their future and even the day to day lives they sometimes make out to be the center of the universe. But for the most part, at the core of themselves, they are developing a real sense of identity they will carry on for the rest of their lives. And that's why I think it's oh so incredibly important not to downplay a youth's dream, to really listen when teenagers talk, to nurture and support their ambitions as much as possible. I am so grateful to have grown up in a home where my dreams were always supported, my creativity encouraged, and my often, overdramatized ideas (taking a taxi cab to school, midnight scavenger hunts, teepeeing the quarterback's house, making my brand new poodle puppy sit outside in the cold while I filmed him - to name a few) not completely shot down. If I have learned anything from working with teens, babysitting teens, being a teen, it's that our longings, ambitions and fears are always real, no matter our age, grades, salary, or relationship status. The things we obsess over now and then are important and the things that I loved then are still some of the most meaningful things now. So when I look back now, it's with more gratitude, more insight, more forgiveness. And today, I realize I might not have accomplished everything yet, and life is nowhere near perfect, but I think my 18 year old self would be proud. And she would most certainly have loved my reunion ensemble. 

{10 years later...}

I think we did pretty good...

Xx, 

-MGN