All You Need Is Love

Maria gives her take on Miami Social's complicated relationships.

I wanted to write about friends and friendships in this current blog based on episode three. But really all episode 3 was about was LOVE. The goddamn love :) The sweet love. The oppressing love. The love of a man to a woman. Love for life. LOVE was the main thread that I noticed being sewn into the episode's fabric throughout.

The third episode clearly shows that life on the beach is not all that and not all about the beach. It's about us being normal and doing normal things in our abnormal life. I couldn't help but think how each one of us truly are yearning to be loved and love someone. Even when all we can think or talk about is sex (all the while wanting to just be cuddled late at night by our lover before or after or during the period of physical satisfaction) .

Or when we envision ourselves very powerful (just so we never get denied to have sex — be loved on that desk that not even Donald Trump can have, helllooo he has already gotten himself a lady to love him :). Or when we dress to be powerful and put a lot of make up on to support the appearance of looking older and perceived wiser and distract ourselves with our huge goals of making that deal today, that will make a difference (when truly all we want is our soon-to-be husband to tell us he missed us during the weekend instead of enjoying the lap-dances at the bachelor party). When we feel empowered after sex, or after we finish writing about celebrities "totally not getting married" (all the while aching to marry a nice guy who will love us as much as we would love him) . Or when we cut our lover's pants to make a statement and tell them to not play with our heart (during which we think 'is it really the right guy for us?' Because if we have to wonder what his reaction to our pregnancy will be, then maybe you are not in the right kind of phase of a relationship to have babies yet) .

Or when we exercise vigorously on the lawn with our fiance and dont want him to waste rare time shared together on some stupid phone calls discussing furniture? ( We really dont want them to pick up that phone at all and instead tell us they love us just as we are with or without extra pounds). Or when we converse with our child over the internet via skype asking them whether their outfits worked and if they met someone nice they liked (while really wishing they would do better than you did and that is the reason you work so hard and give it all you can).

Pheewww. Can you tell I am ready for love now?

There are a few things I hope I will never forget whether life will grant me love or not :

1. Treat yourself with respect. Because no matter how much love you have got in your heart the only way to truly be able to give is ask yourself if you are loving what you're doing and if there is enough respect (not pride) for yourself in all your actions and desires. If the answer is YES then go for it and no matter what others say (even your best friends), somehow you are on a right path.

2. Take chances. Right after you responded yes to that question above feel free to take that chance. My life experience (living on various continents and having friends and past lovers from various parts of the world as well as my ability to analyze, and many many conversations with people close to my heart about all that stuff) has proven to me that taking chances is the best thing we can do for ourselves. More times than not we are pleasantly surprised, in some instances we discover something so totally new and unknown that our life perception changes so drastically that we cant go on the way we did before and we embrace the new and ultimately become happier human beings. WE are given lives to explore and challenge and I truly believe that is the best part of it!

3. Do the things you love. At least once a day. It breeds the good practice of understanding we all need this time for ourselves to make ourselves feel better. And we are more accepting of something like that in others (like someone wondering what you would think of a silly new desk) or someone stuffing their face with chips (when they really shouldn't, but oh they taste so good) or someone wearing incredulous amount of arm bangles that might irritate us sometime (albeit they do look cool in certain circumstances). We all of a sudden see the world in different colors. We are filled with love and we project love and the world loves us back in every sense of this word, granting us meeting of amazing people, great weather, love of our children and a simple sense of belonging to the human race that you would rather love than hate. I have wanted to express my profound gratitude to all of you my newfound friends who keep finding time to comment on the blog and watch the show. Whether you are a TV junkie and you live through us on the show  or you simply got stuck on Bravo flipping from BBC news to CNN. THANK YOU.

To give something back,  I would like to share some advice on how to make better pictures at parties (because taking pictures is what I do excellent :)

1. Position the camera high up to shoot from the higher point and set up flash to overexpose slightly. The night snapshot mode with slightly overexposed flash compensation gives the best result no matter how tired or drunk the party goers are. On the beach shoot against the sun flash ON.

2. Powder skin under the eyes, this is the part that ages us most on pictures. With current make up offerings (OK, on the show I made a couple mistakes but we all live and learn and that is why i have chosen to write about it) it's easy to cover this area up without it looking too caked , but trust my words you will see the difference as in looking 10 years fresher when u do how I suggest. Currently I use foundation (my fav is lasting silk UV foundation with spf 20) and powder options from Giorgio Armani and it works MAGIC!

3. Shoot from further than the length of your arm (use zoom if u must) because anything closer with lens's distortion will make your objects nose HUGE and disproportionate. Well, have a great shooting and report back how my advice worked!

Maybe I will create a special part of my blog on my website or fan page where you can upload your own pictures to show! Now last but not least is my response to various questions that had been coming in the form of commentary here on bravo's blog as well as in my emails.

1. thank you all for complimenting me on being a strong woman. SHHHHH nobody supposed to know lol

2. I do sometimes go to the russian store Gastronom in Sunny Isles, there are a few around the area that are good, but NOTHING can compare to my mom's cooking when I go back to Russia (was there in june ).

3. There will be more behin- the-scenes of my work and shoots as time progresses.

4. I moved to Miami in 2005. I lived in Hermosa Beach in CA before that and in London UK before LA. I have traveled to a LOT of places on this earth and there is no place more comfortable for me than plane's seat and airports where you can watch people passing by with their lives packed in roll-ons and heading into different chapters in their lives. It's a great time to catch up on all the reading I have missed as well.

5. I do not know if the Eastern European vibe was planned for the show's cast, but i doubt it was. It was first time I have heard Ariel calling himself Polish in first episode. I appreciate his pride in his ancestry. However Ariel is Jewish born in North Miami Beach. I have moved to Miami from LA, natural transition :) Listen to my favorite song EVERYBODY'S FREE by BAZ LUHRMANN and you will get an idea.

6. I do work on assignment basis. I am a freelance photographer. I love shooting portraiture features for magazines, celebrity fashion portraiture and work on my own fine art that I have been working for over a year and its almost finally ready to be let out in the world whether thru my own gallery or via exhibiting at art fairs like Art Basel.

7. I am growing my hair longer. Look at the images on HERE

8. I have sent my daughter to Switzerland for several reasons. I feel Lugano is far more international then any boarding school in America merely for the reason of being located on a border or Italy, Germany and France. She has better chances to learn third and fourth language without too much effort ( everyone speaks italian in Lugano for example). Within just her first year as a boarder she travelled almost every weekend to a different part of Europe with her classmates and discovered new cultures for herself. Friends she made in that school span all over the globe and I truly believe that you are who your friends are and so that is what I have wanted to give her along with great education. Amazing friends from all parts of the world.

9. The brand of sunglasses I wore in a scene at the airport were D&G I think its last year's collection :) It has purple metal frame.

10. I am Russian. I was born in old russian city filled with churches, russian trees BERESKA and situated on one of the largest rivers of Russia, VOLGA. My mom moved me and my older brother to Saint-Petersburg Russia when I was 5. She wanted us to grow up surrounded by culture and wonderful European architecture. I love my mom for that.

11. When I feel the need to bitch slap someone, I do just that :)

12. I am not MAYBE bisexual. I certainly am. I speak openly about that because talking about sex or anything else for that matter comes easy for me. I am genuinely interested in other people's stories and lives. I love to listen and i love to talk about mine as well. I like to entertain people with stories from my life, since there had been so many that u would have hard times making up but that did in fact happen in reality. Life amuses me every single day. I had two girlfriends in my lifetime. I find men easier to build relationships with. There can only be one estrogen filled moody person in relationship — me :)

13. You can see my work at http://www.marialankina.com or simply google my name.

14. For most of my work i use Canon cameras and lenses, lighting for most of my personal projects natural light, studio light is from Alienbees and Profoto.

15. Yes indeed i was "homeless" (as in not having place to live, no car, no money, dept, no profession, no support system in a new city in foreign country) in 2006 and i found myself in least favorable position in life, or so I thought back then. I learned that everything that we perceive as BAD happening in our lives is really leading us up to something challenging and GOOD. I am glad things happened the way they did. If i had to go back and change it up the only things i would change is i would pat myself on a shoulder back then and ask myself to cry less and spend more time positively thinking instead. The challenge would have been slightly easier then. Tune in next week, gosh i can't wait for you to see all the before and after that scene with me and Ariel in regards to working together. you can see the preview HERE.

Man in the Mirror

Maria counts down the most memorable moments of episode 5.

Drops of my favorite mimosa (champagne and orange juice) on my keyboard, liquid cooling my throat, bubbles having a prolonged party traveling the roller coaster of my throat as if immediately transported in my blood stream that is flowing into my brain, the view of great Los Angeles at my feet from the Penthouse floor of my famous hotel. Breeze is touching my shoulders lightly, sun is warming my bronzing skin. My mind is free after an hour of invigorating yoga at West Hollywood Equinox followed by the no less invigorating Michael Levine's industry breakfast. It is now 3 p.m. on Tuesday in the time of forever. Could it be more perfect?

My mind is holding onto this one thought that had lived in my brain since last week's happenings of my life reinforced by the viewing of the current episode of Miami Social.

A thought about assertiveness ....

Assertiveness is linked to self-esteem and considered an important communication skill. As a communication style and strategy, assertiveness is distinguished from aggression and passivity. How people deal with personal boundaries; their own and those of other people, helps to distinguish between these three concepts. Passive communicators do not defend their own personal boundaries and thus allow aggressive people to harm or otherwise unduly influence them. They are also typically not likely to risk trying to influence anyone else. Aggressive people do not respect the personal boundaries of others and thus are liable to harm others while trying to influence them. A person communicates assertively by not being afraid to speak his or her mind or trying to influence others, but doing so in a way that respects the personal boundaries of others. They are also willing to defend themselves against aggressive incursions. (Wikipedia)

In the fast paced world of todays relationships, more so in Miami, a week is considered to be an anniversary (Michael and Diego's date), 6 years is not enough to get married and have babies (Hardy and Trixia), 13 years is enough to break up (Kat and Ben), 2 years is not enough to establish the basics of respective communication ( Lina and George) and one night is enough to have a walk of shame morning after (=we all have been there, I am sure). All of the above mentioned could have been avoided, softened, lived through and enjoyed so much more if we all were the masters of assertiveness.

Like the birds in the sky in the beginning of episode clouding the sky screaming wildly we get carried away inside our brain when we don't have enough self respect to stop for a second and assess the situation. We yell because we dont know better (Lina and George). We agree nodding when we really should speak up (Ben telling Kat he can't wait for her things to be out of the house). What we should do is start loving ourselves enough to REALLY ask ourselves what is that:" I WANT" and after we answer that question politely, make a statement to the rest of the world of our knowledge and feel accomplished, because that is where success in everything in our lives starts. Respecting ourselves we immediately respect other peoples wishes, desires and aspirations without feeling squeezed, pinched, ultimately defeated because someone has the guts to do what we cant put our mind to. BEING OPEN AND HONEST WITH OURSELVES.

I know this is my lesson for the next few months, and I'm practicing every day. ASSERTIVENESS. I hope you will try that too and let me know how that worked out for you?

Now to the lighter stuff :) Three most memorable moments of the episode 5:

1. The Kat's Inner whore night out. Remember I mentioned that Kat would divert attention of men to me that were brought by Michael to meet her? Well, she did it big time at the very end of the night. Remember when Kat mentions it's HER music playing and she is off to dance? Well, she had to trade in my business card to the video director for the latin music to be put in Aerobat. She muscled it out of me, telling me she had a business client for my photography and she will introduce me to him, meanwhile she negotiated with Ivan (the video director) and latin music being put on the speakers after he pointed at me and asked for my card as a payment. Little did she know we would end up working together on HUGE project called ART OCTAGON that would premier during ULTRA festival in Miami with success.

2. Operation Smile. It always warms my heart to see other people helping others. I wish I was there. I was traveling to see Angelika in Lugano and could not make it to the event. I myself am nursing an idea of a charity helping single mothers to achieve their full potential, once in a while giving ability to let their hair loose and be cared for and have a support system that will make them feel NEVER ALONE.

3. Michael's date. He looks so super cute and vulnerable. You can't help but smile with him. I wish him to figure out his business and have time to work on his relationships. I think he makes a great boyfriend and I wish him that with all my heart.

I hope you guys and girls take my words to heart about being assertive and try to implement it into your lives. If we all start with the man in the mirror ( thank you Michael for this song) life will be better all around for ALL of us.

Until next week...