Monthly Archives: June 2015

“Don’t you dare wish time away.” A guest lesson by Morgan Weitzel.

Don’t you dare wish time away.

Time is finite, making it one of the most precious things here on this earth. Finite things have an end. Time will end. Always.

One of my biggest college regrets is wishing my time away and wanting to move on to the next chapter of my life before I even finished the page that I was on.

A bad breakup regrettably triggered my time squandering.

For the next year and a half, I not only disliked who I had become because of the breakup, but I also began resenting my life and the cards I had been dealt. I wanted to fast forward to the end of college—where my new life would begin and where I would have a fresh start at happiness.

I stopped going out, cut off close friends and family, and lost my Morgan spark. For that, I honestly hated the guy—but now I know better.

Hating someone still makes them an important part of your life. If you forgive them—even if they stole your heart, time, and money—it makes them obsolete. [Side note: Don’t ever let a stupid boy do that to you, ladies. No guy is worth the pain. I have so much more advice about that…but that’s for another lesson. ;)]

So THAT, expediting my life’s chapters, is my biggest regret. I was so focused on a final destination that I hoped to skip the journey simply because I ran into some bumps.

I’ve learned that no one knows what life will bring on any given day. No one knows how long anything will last. No one knows when you might lose something or someone you love. No one knows when the next tomorrow won’t come. No one knows ANYTHING.

Now, after I’m finally over the mega-douchelord (I guess I shouldn’t call him that..but it’s definitely the most appropriate of the words that I would like to call him), here I sit without any possibility of regaining that time. I have one semester to make up for all the time I lost staying in bed, binging on takeout and Netflix. It breaks my heart all over again to think about how I spent my days crying and angry at the world, when I could have been out with my best friends making unforgettable memories.

All because I was caught up wishing away time.

Time is finite. Everything will eventually come to an end without warning, but don’t rush. Take life slowly and savor every step along the way. Enjoy where you are when you are. The journey is the best part. Don’t waste time being unhappy; it’s just not worth it. Ever.

Don’t you dare wish time away you beautiful soul, you.

-Lesson by Morgan Weitzel-

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Morgan Weitzel is a strong, independent woman with a heart of gold, the lifestyle habits of a 70-year-old man, and (if needed), the attitude of a fighter. She is heading into her final semester at JMU, and will be graduating with a degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology. She’s never really taken the time to scribble down the on-going thoughts in her head, but she is finally ready to share a lesson.

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“The Art of Being Average.” A guest lesson by Brenna Cashen.

I, like I think a lot of other people, am deathly afraid of being average.

As my 22nd birthday approaches in less than two months (thanks Taylor Swift for making 22 a little less depressing), it’s hard not to think back on what my 12-year-old self thought I would have accomplished by now.

12-year-old Brenna did not think she would be in college at 22.

She thought for sure she would be famous in the next ten years for either writing a book or starring in a Disney Channel Original Movie or maybe selling out a tour (even though 12-year-old Brenna only played the flute) or more importantly dating Joe Jonas (cut me some slack, I was 12).

She thought she’d be pretty rich by 22, so she could live in New York City, prevent millions of kids from dying in orphanages and save the rhinos from going extinct.

My dreams aren’t too different today—except the fact that I don’t want to date Joe Jonas anymore.

It’s hard for me to come to terms with the fact that I’ve accomplished none of the things I thought that I would have by now. Looking back on my fairly average 21 years of life can cause me to seriously lose it.

Since I can remember, I’ve just always thought I was supposed to do something great, something above average. When I say it (or in this case—write it), I feel as if it makes me sound  entitled, which isn’t a way I would normally describe myself. To be honest, though, I don’t think it’s a state of mind that is unique to me…

I think a lot of people think that they were put on this earth to do something great…and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

For me, it was to write a book that changed the way people thought or to write a song that helped people through something or have an idea that made an impact in a way I could never have imagined.

When I refer to “something great…” it’s always been on a global scale.

In order for me to be fulfilled and extraordinary and above average, I needed to write a book that touched people like Harry Potter did… or write a song that was as important to people as Let it Be or Fire and Rain was…or save millions of people—not just a few.

Now that I’ve made myself sound like a self-absorbed, power-hungry, fame-crazed girl with an irrational fear of living a totally fine, happy life… let me give some advice that I’ve been trying to learn myself.

**What could this appearing fame-crazed, selfish girl have to say???** Don’t be average? Don’t set unrealistic expectations for yourself when you are 12?!!!

No, no, no… not exactly.

My lesson that I know to be TRUE is…

Being average does not mean you can’t/won’t do extraordinary things and doing extraordinary things on a small scale, doesn’t make it any less extraordinary.

Some of the most extraordinary people I know are my parents. They taught me how to be myself and how to love, two of life’s most important lessons. My mom changes hundreds of people’s lives by volunteering in her community and my dad is pretty much a poster child for being the perfect son.

I look at my parents and think “Wow. They’ve done so much great stuff and it doesn’t even matter that they will never save as many people as Bill Gates does or inspire as many people as Beyoncé does. They are still great.”

The fact that someone, somewhere has done something on a larger scale, doesn’t make what they do any less great, any less important, or any less above average.

I think about that and it makes me happy to have such extraordinary parents. They might not be extraordinary to everyone else, but they are extraordinary to me.

But when I apply this logic to own life—my stomach knots up, my skin clams, and my irrational fear takes over. (It’s happening right now as I write this)

I can’t apply the same logic to my own life… but I’m trying to learn how.

You (I) have to remember that you might not change the world on a global scale, even if you think you were put on this earth to do so. You may never live up to your childhood dreams of being in the NBA or going to outer space or winning a Grammy.

But that shouldn’t make you feel sad or ashamed or as average as it makes me feel sometimes.

It doesn’t make you average or boring or unimportant.

I was recently talking to a friend who shares a very similar fear as me. When he told me he was afraid of getting a job he hated and continuing into an average life, I was pretty shocked.

This person has made such a huge and important impact in my life that I never would think of him as average… he was always going to be special and extraordinary to me because of what he had done in my life and I knew he would continue to do extraordinary things.

And that’s when I realized that it’s okay to not change the world. It’s also okay to dream of changing it and trying to change it… but I shouldn’t want to throw up every time I realize that I might not.

If I write some stories and plays and blogs and it makes A FEW people feel comforted or encouraged or happy, then I should be proud of that.

There is going to be a whole lot of people in the world who never give a shit about me or what I have to say. There will be a far less amount of people who give a shit about me and everything I have to say.

Those people, whose lives that have/will impact, those are the lives that will make me not average. Those are the lives who will make me feel like the time I dedicate to writing is worth it, and the time I spend dreaming isn’t pointless.

A lot of people will think you are average at what you do and a lot of people will never think about you ever, but as cheesy as it sounds… someone will think of you and they will think it would be impossible for you to ever be average.

Just remember: doing extraordinary things on a small scale, doesn’t make it any less extraordinary.

-Lesson by Brenna Cashen-

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Brenna Cashen is studying media arts and design at James Madison University with a minor in Music Industry. She loves cereal and lemons more than the average person and spends 98.7% of her time pretending to live in NYC.

 

Lesson #342: The city is the cure.

6/27/15.

After taking on a day’s worth of beautiful places—I’m pretty sure I found the cure-all to bouncing back from a stress-filled week and refreshing a cloudy mind.

The city.

Today we hopped on the metro bright and early (half of us weren’t awake) and headed towards Hollywood. We started out with the usual tourist attractions—the Chinese Theatre and the Hollywood stars and handprints—and made our way across town. We passed incredible street art, walked through the Walt Disney Concert Hall, took a coffee break and an impromptu tour of the Biltmore Hotel where a 1940s Oscars ceremony was held, dropped by Perishing Square, visited Union Station, went to a few famous film locations (500 Days of Summer, anyone?), and had incredible and authentic tacos, beans, and rice at Grand Central Market. The ice-cream we treated ourselves to for desert was the cherry on top of the day thus far.

Our last stop was a quaint but lively area called El Pueblo, a hispanic corner in the city. Live upbeat music filled the streets and colorful flags were strung from lamp to lamp. Little shops and stands with food, clothing, and trinkets lined a crowded alleyway. I had a lovely time finding teeny presents for my loved ones back home, and learning about the culture behind the items from the stand owners. I even found a cute little wishing well, and #blessed my tiny coin as it made its way to the blue bottom of the fountain.

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Taken by the wonderful LA roomie, Alejandra Buitrago.

People were everywhere.

Of course, as soon as we got there, I immediately made my way towards the dancing and music. I pulled my friends Lexie and Christine into the commotion, and we began to salsa—horribly. A small, adorable older man in a red shirt approached us and started dancing with me. We shimmied together and shook our hips and danced and laughed as the crowd surrounding us got larger and larger and pulled out their cameras.

Today was literally the happiest I’ve been all week.

It’s funny and strange to think that I almost didn’t come, because I have so many things to do.

This week, I’ve felt a little out of my element.

Obviously I’m in a completely different city across the country.

But in addition to being in new surroundings and new situations, I’ve felt more than stressed out trying to find a balance between getting things done (this blog, my youtube documentary series, homework, and a freelance project) and having the time of my life in LA.

I couldn’t quite pinpoint why I’ve felt so strange, but I now realize that it’s because I let the weight of my tasks weigh me down.

While I still didn’t end up getting much done at all, I learned a lesson that was well worth it.

It’s the moments that we lose ourselves in the things we don’t know, and re-lose ourselves in the things we already know, that we find little pieces of ourselves again.

We find happiness.

The city isn’t the only option. Maybe a trip to the woods, or to the top of the mountains, or a day sprawled out across a field, or on a beach.

But every once in a while, we do need to get outside of ourselves and be around people who are walking the same earth as us.

We need to live.

Today reminded me of one of my favorite lessons I’ve ever written, and I was happy to revisit it in a new light, and in a new place.

Get lost in what’s around you.

Sometimes a day on the town is exactly what we need.

Day 342.

Lesson #340: These are my confessions.

6/25/15.

I’m not Usher.

And I really don’t know how to say any of this today,

but I’m going to try.

I am not perfect.

I don’t know the last time I said this and actually meant it—really, really meant it.

And it feels so good to say right now; to really own it.

I am not perfect.

I’m not talking about my appearance: the pimple on the bottom right of chin, or my lanky legs, or my short torso. I’m not talking about the fact that I’m clumsy, or that I suck at math, or that didn’t floss today (or yesterday), or that I just ate an entire frozen pizza for dinner. I’m not even talking about my regrets or mistakes.

I’m talking about the things that are actually hard to talk about.

The kind of imperfections that I bury deep within myself and choose to overlook, in hopes that one day, they might just disappear.

These are the kind of flaws that I don’t want to admit to—because then it means they’re really true.

And it means I have to face them.

But here’s the truth today.

I am not good at not getting what I want, or what I think I deserve.

And I hate it.

I’m not spoiled. I’m not “privileged.” I would never cry because “Daddy didn’t get me a Mercedes Benz,” or the “new iPhone 6.” I don’t get upset when everyone chooses here instead of where I wanted to go.

I’m not a brat. I don’t have melt-downs. I don’t start screaming, or yelling, or throwing things.

But in the most mundane way possible, I internally just don’t process it well when I am determined to get something, or when I work hard for something, or when I envision something—and I don’t get it.

Yesterday was a perfect example.

But people would never know, because I rarely ever show it or express it.

Determination is good, but it’s also my downfall.

What makes my imperfection ten times worse is that I’m very hard on myself—to the point that when I say or do something wrong or stupid—I beat myself up about it way longer than the average person should. I repeat it to myself over and over; I replay it a million times in my head. I know that everyone says they do this—but sometimes I wonder if they’re anything like me. I wonder when enough is enough.

I bring this up today, because my imperfection was put to the test once again.

When someone else got to do something that I had the same opportunity to do and wanted to do so badly instead of myself—I was extremely upset. Internally, of course. But upset, nonetheless.

Lucky me, I couldn’t go anywhere, or get my hands on something to distract me from my own mind. I had no choice but to sit there and reflect on how upset I was, even though it was the last thing that I wanted to spend my afternoon doing. I had to address this certain imperfection. I had to face what I’m not proud of. I had to confront what I want to change. I had to dig deep, yank it out by its root, and examine what and how and why.

Of course it stings at first. But in the end, it was the most alleviating thing I’ve done in a while. It honestly feels as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I feel a lot more clear-minded just by acknowledging it; by finally saying to myself: “Hey, I do this. And I need to figure out how I will handle it better.” It’s like airing the dirty laundry, or unloading the dishwasher.

A few months ago, I attended a wonderful poetry reading by an incredible poet, Kamilah Aisha Moon. She read from her moving and phenomenal book of poetry, called She Has a Name. The collection sheds light on her sister who lives with Autism, by taking on different perspectives of various people in her sister’s life. It explores the human mind, love, appreciation, and life.

During the Q&A, I asked Kamilah: “As someone who has a cousin with Aspergers, I know this book must have been hard to write at some points. Was is it challenging? Was it cathartic? Or was it a little bit of both?”

She answered with this, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it:

“Claim the truth, so that it has no power over you.”

By acknowledging an ugly truth about myself today—I claimed the truth.

And when you claim the truth, you give yourself power and control over it; over how you will let it affect you.

I feel as if “I am not perfect” is something we tell ourselves to convince ourselves that we are not.

We tell ourselves we aren’t perfect, but do we really, truly accept it?

My question for you today is this:

What truly makes you imperfect? What are you keeping yourself from acknowledging, but really want to or need to accept?

I know it’s probably the shittiest thing you’ve ever been asked to do—sorry.

But sometimes, we need a perfectly rude good awakening.

And the best kinds are the ones we bring upon ourselves.

So will you challenge yourself to that?

This is just one of my many imperfections.

But today, I learned this.

I am not perfect.

I’m truly not, and I know this.

But I am working every day to learn from it, handle it, accept it, and be happy with it.

Day 340.