CHIC PLACES: NEGRITA, MYKONOS

Beautiful cocktails, bougainvillea and picture perfect sunsets— what more could anyone ask for? The second I knew we were going to Greece for our honeymoon, I had pictured a romantic place to sit and watch the sunset on the water (I know so basic right) Even though I live in Los Angeles, where there’s ample access to oceanside (http://www.giselechic.com/2018/05/the-la-guide.html?m=1) drinks and dinner (and amazing people watching), this charming little cocktail bar in the Little Venice area of Mykonos delivered something even more special.



But before we get into the good stuff, let me first acknowledge how offensive the name of this establishment is. I have no known understanding of how the owner chose this name or what message they were trying to send at it’s birth about three years ago, but from the looks of the menu and wall art it seems as if they turned a racist term for a black woman into a theme for something as frivolous as a nightlife establishment. 



The term Negrità is Spanish for darling, young black girl, an extension of the male term Negra— I would expect you know the shameful American version already. Both terms have a history routed in racism. I’m going out on a limb assuming the name of this bar is meant as a celebration of black women, however, to reclaim a word that was once used to divide people is a tricky task and I just can’t help but wonder why this bar had to make that choice. 



Aside from that, we had a very enjoyable evening there at sunset before heading to dinner. It’s located right in Little Venice, where there are lots of similar small bars, with prime views. The interior itself is fairly big, extending long and narrow onto a wonderfully cozy patio where the water and sunset literally meet the pavement, creating such a magical feeling of being at sea. 



Everything else was pure summer magic. Getting a little table for two was fairly easy given we came right before sunset and during the end of high season on a Monday. So if you have more than two people in your party I would recommend starting early so you can hold down one of the prime patio views. 




The mounds of pink bougainvillea framed the view so perfectly. As you sit in a tiny booth and enjoy the most delectable drinks. I usually avoid fancy cocktails because of the sugar content but I knew this was one place worth an exception. I had the Mai Thai because they had homemade almond syrup as one of the ingredients and obviously I knew how beautiful it would be. Despite the sugar content and pretty garnishes, it felt like a heavy pour. Perhaps it was just my sea sickness patch, but regardless, it was well worth the 16€ price tag. 



After the sun completely set we left for dinner and asked the cocktail waitress where we should go out after, of course her response was “back here” and from the sounds of the DJ I could see why. Unfortunately after a long day of sailing, dinner made us too sleepy to head out anywhere but back home, but if I had had a second wind, this spot would have definitely been my first choice for dancing and drinks without a the large club scene Mykonos is known for. 


All in all it was definitely my favorite spot for cocktails and I’m just hoping they open something similar in Los Angeles! 

 With any other name please. 

 -MGN

CLASSIC STYLE: MY GREECE PACKING LIST


Well the time has come! This wonderful honeymoon my fiancé (now husband o.m.g.) and I planned is finally here! I am obviously writing this ahead of time in great anticipation of our wedding day and big adventure in Greece to come, but I wanted everyone to get a little taste in real time. I can't wait wait to share all the details when we return about the places and things we are planning to see and do in a full Greece Travel Guide, but until then let's get to the most exciting part, what I am planning to wear. In true Monica planning, most of my outfits were purchased far in advance but I did my very best to link as many similar and direct items as I can, with some lovely additions here and there! Opa! 















Hoping I return with Jackie's perfect tan and half her Grecian grace! 

-MGN 

SANTA MONICA BEACH APARTMENT TOUR: MY CLOSET


Well this little wardrobe has served me well... Before living with my fiancé I had a tiny closet in my Brentwood apartment but I removed the door so all my color coded clothing, carefully arranged shoe racks and handbags on the top shelf could show through. I think whatever size closet you have there is a way to make it both functional and pretty, emphasis however on pretty. And this one has been great, despite the fact that I still needed to borrow some extra room from Arthur for my coats, and yes I wear all my coats in Los Angeles in case you were wondering. Next closet has yet to be built but I am hoping to have everything in one place! 


Now I am by no means an expert at closet organization but here are some extremely basic things I did to make this all come together. I changed everything for the pictures, so this is only the right side of the closet, which has mirror sliding doors covering the left side, where there is more room for hanging clothes (thankfully)

All together I arranged every piece of clothing by color category, with my favorite colors more visible. This differs for everyone but my biggest color categories are navy, blue, pink, white/cream. Arrange it however you like so that it shows off the colors you like to see and wear most. After color, I arranged by sleeve length, ensuring each sleeve shows next to its neighbor so every item has a fighting chance. These two things will make a huge difference in how organized your closet looks.

Some other tips; the shelving was too deep to show off all my shoes and since I just happen to have lots of pretty covered novels (yes, I judge my books by their covers) I decided to line the back of the shelves with them (also color coded) behind my most beloved footwear. Small handbags are arranged by color and size in three rows and my mini straw bag contains all my sold scarves. For anyone wondering, my "pink champs" mini straw bag was a custom order from here







Aside from my pearl earrings and engagement ring, I only wear and purchase costume jewelry. And as you already should know, I absolutely DIE FOR a fun statement earring; the more absurd, the better! From pineapples, to giant tassels, flowers and palm leaves, the more specific the better! Same goes for necklaces, which I'll admit I used to be way more obsessed with- like Olivia Palermo on The City hello- with this irreplaceable pearl statement necklace being my most prized possession of them all. I purchased it almost 12 years ago at the tiny Aldo accessories store in Chicago's Woodfield Mall. Not a huge fan of Aldo shoes, but I have always found the most amazing pieces of costume jewelry there and they have since continued to create similar versions of this bib necklace. Unfortunately the original is no longer available but I linked similar ones below. 






Like a lot of my wardrobe, my bags are mostly vintage from consignment stores, Etsy or Poshmark (which if you aren't using, please start now, you're welcome). What I like about Poshmark is that it saves your recent searches, for example, "mini pearl bag" so that you can continue to easily search the same criteria every time you reopen the app and hopefully find what you want within a few days. I happen to be very specific with what I am looking for or creating in my mind so that tends to work well for me. For everyone else, thank goodness you have me to find inspiration for you! 







Like I mentioned earlier, my clothes are from a lot of different places, many of which are consignment stores, Poshmark, Zara and Forever 21. Yes, I shop there, and I will stop shopping there once they stop making gorgeous things. Despite my obsession with embellishments and details, the majority of what I wear are very comfortable basics like striped shirts, cashmere sweaters, jeans and silky blouses. When I go out I like to get a little more detailed with some frills, ruffles and bows, but no matter what I will always crave a cozy sweater. I also have started notable collection of little white dresses, a consistent staple for me year round! I linked similar items below, you can find my BASK toweling blazer here



Hope you enjoyed my closet tour as the next one will likely be quite a ways away!

-MGN

TURNING 30, SOME THOUGHTS

After 30 years of chasing perfection, I am FINALLY chasing peace...So what exactly does peace even mean at this point? For some context, I am writing this reflection on the last thirty years of my life. It’s my 30th birthday today and I initially imagined I would have a big collage of pictures celebrating all the years so far of my life, some witty anecdotes on surviving my twenties, perhaps a sunset beach photoshoot with sparklers, pink champagne and cake…

Short story, it’s an accomplishment I got to the pink dress. It's the week of my wedding so I am eating mostly salads and even after successfully getting a lime wedge to hold my two pretty pink candles upright, the number 3 decided to break in half. Arthur immediately vetoed the sparklers I purchased as the condo we were supposed to move into a week ago is still an open construction site with many flammable opportunities. It's a miracle I know where my toothbrush is, let alone this fun tulle dress I spent 30 minutes unpacking boxes to get to. Yes, I did cry at some point while taking these perfectly, imperfect photos, but I also laughed so hard I almost fell off the ladder. #Balance?  

The reality is that I am writing this entry during an undoubtedly exhilarating, yet also exhausting, period of time in my life in which I am getting married, moving into an unfinished condo, preparing to take off work for three weeks, welcoming my new in-laws to Los Angeles, living out of boxes/hotels, eating more consciously without a home kitchen; oh and did I mention I am on my way to Chicago while I write this, just before my own?  

This is 30. 




This is just the reality of a surplus of extremely-positively-amazing things happening right now. I am not complaining, I recognize the privilege in having a lot to do, but I am going to acknowledge that these last couple weeks/months has taken a toll on me and I feel a bit shaken, emotional, excited, in need of some serious beauty sleep.. 

But as I reflect over these last thirty years I have of course, like everyone, learned so many things. I've essentially become more of my myself, as we would all hope one does. But of all the opportunities I've had for growth so far, the most helpful shift has been my increased mindfulness around the trap of perfection.





I could try to explain the concept myself, however this quote just articulates it so beautifully;

After endless hours of doing therapy on myself -kidding but perhaps not- there are many places this concept of perfectionism for me has likely stemmed from. Likely my resiliency coming from a family of divorce, the mean kids in middle school, the unspoken, yet powerful societal message that beauty is power. With so many unpredictable factors throughout life, it must have felt nice when having control over myself; my body, the people around me. And this wasn't a difficult thing to manifest from a young age, as I always had a confidence that allowed me to persevere, a quality that allowed me agency over my life, but also created difficulty sitting with the very human experience of defeat." I am a Leo after all. 


When I really think about this one, I realize that I created a construct of what a success looked like for myself at a very young age; a seemingly reliable way to measure whether or not I deserved the things I wanted and the things most people want; praise, confidence, security, love, acceptance. But just like Peter's quote so effortlessly explains, the perfection standard can never be met, because it's not real, it's a lie, it's not authentic. 





I suppose that's why the one remedy I've found is just that, the antithesis of perfectionism, authenticity

Authenticity wasn't easy at first. Authenticity didn't allow me to hide behind the stereotypes I tried so desperately to fit, it didn't allow me to run away from rejection. It was uncomfortable, scary for someone who tended to find solace in the constant hustle for a prize I'd never really get. And I think subconsciously, I knew that all along. I think in fact, the lie of perfectionism kept me going, kept me striving, kept me achieving things. Great things, useful and important things. 

But not the things I really needed, really craved, which I don’t think I even knew how to define until now. But now I realize it’s peace. Peace for what is, for what I am, for what you are, what the world is. In harmony of what is, which is at times not that pretty, not that easy, stowed away in a pile of boxes I just can’t find right now...





But what is real also keeps producing unapologetically beautiful things for which the burden of control can't manifest. Like my raw, relentless humor, the way I can connect and see people, starting way before I went to graduate school to become a therapist. I think we all can attest to parts of our personality that have always been there and will always be authentically us, no matter what forms of shields we use to protect ourselves. I think one of the reasons I have been so interested in other people, is because I can identify with that authentically human feeling of being vulnerable. 

Vulnerability in people is perhaps what I have always felt a particular need to draw out, through my humor, my charm and perhaps it's validation for me that I am not the only one. I now see vulnerability as the biggest strength. It's fucking hard to let yourself be seen sometimes and my mission as a therapist has always been to make that process as safe as possible for other people. Now, for myself. 




What peace now means for me. 

Connecting with people and systems who authentically support and encourage me. 
Seeking relationships for connection, instead of power, status, social mobility. 
Honesty about where I am and why I might want to be somewhere else. 
Eating well and exercising to feel good, not to appease a standard.
Unconditional love for self before anyone else. 
Accepting what I can’t control. 
Shame free, grateful


So as much as I’d love to share some salacious stories of living in la la land over this past decade or my goals for the next one, it’s just not my reality in this moment. But that doesn't mean I am not still striving for something, that something has just been redefined a bit. 

And now I can honestly say, I am finally chasing peace. 

*Chasing is an in-motion verb, it’s in process, it doesn’t have an end. It may want to stop sometimes and take a breather and grab a cookie that won’t feel good later, it may have more capacity on Saturdays and less on Mondays, but it never judges itself. It’s not a destination, it’s a practice. It’s not perfect, it’s just peace. 

-MGN