Category Archives: Love & Friendship

Lesson #365: The final lesson.

7/20/15.

The day I started this blog, I was on my closet floor crying because it felt like my life had become a continuous bad day.

Now I’m sitting here on a mocha-colored couch outside of a coffee shop all the way across the country in California, typing my last lesson, and still crying.

It’s good to know some things don’t change.

When I woke up today, all I could think was:

“Mia. It’s been 365 days.”

I couldn’t grasp the number. Trying to process it was like standing on the edge of a cliff, looking out at the vastness, and becoming overwhelmed with fear.

Except I had already done it.

Four seasons, twelve months, 365 days.

I can’t begin to explain the amount of joy, the depth of gratitude, the undeniable sadness, and the expanse of excitement I am feeling right now.

It’s been 365 days, and my life has changed in ways I never thought it would, or could. I have experienced so many things and seen so much in just a single year, and I’ve gotten to express every part of it.

A few months ago, someone told me something. I never wrote it into a lesson because something seemingly more prominent stole the day, but I remember scrambling to write it down, and hoping and praying that the right time would come along again to share it with you all. And I think today is that day.

It literally felt like everything I knew was falling apart in that moment and in the moments that followed—and I’m sure you’ve all experienced the feeling. I walked to work sobbing, and although I cleared my eyes in time before checking in with my boss, she knew something was wrong. After confiding in her, she told me something I’ll never forget.

“The reality of it now is not the reality of it forever—I promise.”

And after this year, and this blog, nothing in my life has ever rang more true.

It just so happens that I started this blog during a dark time in my life, and now it’s ending during the best.

In the nowhere-near-linear process of this turn around, I’ve learned so, so much. Perfection isn’t real. Money can’t buy you happiness. It takes time and guts to heal. Run with full abandon towards what you love, and cut loose what you don’t. Culture and beauty is everywhere. You are seen. People are shitty. People are fantastic. Life is great—or at least it can be if you make it.

From New York to Maryland to North Carolina to Florida. From my beloved hometown of Virginia Beach, VA, to my second life at school in the mountains of Harrisonburg, VA, to landing my dream internship in Los Angeles, California.

It’s been 365 days since I pressed the little blue button to create this account, and hit “publish” on a lesson for the very first time. If I’m being honest—I cannot begin to tell you how utterly happy and relieved I am that I don’t have to come home exhausted at the end of every night and write a lesson. But I also can’t begin tell you how truly sad I am to let this piece of my life go. It’s not every day you get to say you documented each day of your life for an entire year, until you do. And now that it’s over, I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do without my little escape, my outlet, and my canvas for words.

There are truly no words for how bittersweet this is. And if there is a step beyond having no words, then I really have none for how extremely grateful I am.

First, I am always completely and entirely thankful for my God. I know that none of the events in my life go without reason, and that my main man has been by my side through it all. Many times throughout this year my head was more focused on my feet than the sky. I loathed how distracted, busy, and cloudy minded I could be—but He never once left me. I am grateful for the good. I am grateful for the bad. And I am continually and eternally grateful for the grace of God. Even though this (literal) chapter of my life is ending, I am excited to see where He will guide me next.

To my wonderful parents, my special friends, and some really great family members—thank you. Not just for giving me great moments to learn from, but for always pushing me and encouraging me. Nights got HARD. Some days I had so much to do that I wouldn’t be able to start my lesson until 1am. My three options were usually to 1) suck it up and write, 2) cry and write, or 3) go to sleep, wake up the next morning, and then cry and write because now I was behind on a post when I “promised” I never would be. But your constant love and support has been something that’s carried me through, and it doesn’t go unnoticed. All it took was one little comment on the blog or on Facebook or walking across campus to make me look forward to writing the next one. It’s the simple things. You each had a hand in inspiring all these people as well. And I thank you. You know who you are.

To the not so great people—I want to thank you too. After this year, I have a better idea of the kind of people I do and don’t want in my life. I’ve learned that people can teach who you don’t want to be and what you don’t want to be like, and those lessons are just as important. You all have been blessings in my life as well.

To the guest lessonists—thank you for being apart of something so special. Thank you for telling your story.

And of course—the readers. You are all so special to me. Thank you for lending a listening ear. I hope you have all learned and grown in some way. If you remember just one thing from these 365 days—then I’ve done my job.

I thank this blog for allowing me the space to not be perfect. I thank this blog for teaching me about self control and dedication—but for also teaching me about the fact that shit happens. Living comes before anything else, and you have to momentarily leave all guilt and thoughts if you’re going to do it fully. I thank this blog for teaching me how to be scared, but doing it (or writing it) anyway. I thank this blog for teaching me to live with thicker skin, but to be open, honest, and vulnerable.

Most of all, I want to thank this blog for challenging me to look for the best in each and every single day—especially when there was no “best” in the day—for confronting it, expressing it, and turning it into something meaningful.

I will miss this so much.

I no longer have an excuse to find the best in each day—but I hope this year has taught me how.

It’s good to know some things don’t change.

But it’s good to know some things do.

This blog has added so much color to my life. It been more than a blog for me; it has been a journey. And I can’t believe I did it.

It feels weird coming to the end. It feels like I’m not finished; like there’s so much more to say.

And that’s because there is.

The lessons we learn are perennial. They will continue to arise in many shapes, sizes, and forms.

It all branches on one big tree. They stem from the root of life, and they turn out to all be a part of the same foundation. I’ve found that all lessons all come back to the same core concepts, and this is what I’ve come to know.

Do what makes you happy,

be passionate, compassionate, and kind,

and always, always, always keep learning.

The world will keep telling us this time and time again.

And so will I.

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Day 365.

Lesson #361: Hey, I just met you. And this is crazy.

7/16/15.

Today I rolled out of bed at 5:30am to start getting ready for my day, but no coffee was needed because I was headed to the Emmy Nomination Announcement Ceremony for my internship that morning—and that was enough to fuel me for the entire day.

I arrived at the Pacific Design Center and walked nervously through the beautiful halls complete with sleek modern design and old-fashioned gold detailing. I followed the Emmy Nomination signs to the theater destination. IMG_7368 I assumed I’d report directly to a set-up area labeled E! News like a few of the other shoots I had been on. I thought I would sit there until the crew and the producer arrived, and then I’d help set up.

Surprise.

When I arrived upstairs just shy of 7am, there was no area labeled E! News.  There was a medium-sized room full of breakfast foods and fruit, hot coffee, and a large number of very scary real life adults.

I love engaging with new people. But about 30 or 40 busy, experienced, and most likely stressed out professionals running around at 8 in the morning?

Not so much.

For close to an hour, I waited in a room with retro couches and standing tables packed with producers, camera operators, sound engineers, television hosts, reporters, anchors, and other high-up workers. The producer at E! that I was working under for the morning wasn’t there yet, so I had an hour to either sit by myself in the corner, or use this as an opportunity to chat it up as many industry heads as I could.

I sat in the corner by myself.

Luckily, I had an everything bagel and some strawberries and fruit to keep me company.

A few kind texts from my mom, too.

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I chose a seat in the corner next to a guy in his late 20s/early 30s—mostly because he didn’t seem as intimidating as the others and he was on his phone. This meant I wouldn’t have to awkwardly attempt to talk to him, awkwardly keep a conversation going, or scope out whether he was too busy to talk or if he didn’t want to talk at all.

I knew what an opportunity I was passing up, not out on the floor (or on the couch) interacting with others.

I mean—these are people IN the industry.

But I honestly couldn’t bring myself to do it.

I look 16, I’m obviously younger than the rest of them, and I had trouble thinking I would be taken seriously. What would someone do if I approached them to talk?

Who was I to them?

As soon as the guy next to me got off the phone, he turned to me, rolled his eyes with a kind humor, and a lightheartedly said: “Roommate drama.” I laughed and replied: “Yea, everyone knows about that.” We began talking.

Our conversation was interesting, and it lasted a good while. I told him why I was out here, how I got to where I am, and what I want (or think I want) to do. He seemed genuinely interested; it took me by surprise. Not that he seemed rude or mean from the beginning—or that any of these people did—it was just the fact that he was giving me a piece of his time. And that’s a precious, hot commidity out here.

After the first part of the conversation and a little bit of back and forth about our lives, I ask him what he does and how he likes it.

Turns out, he’s a producer at Time Warner.

We exchanged information, and now I have a new LA friend. Or at least, a connection.

A few minutes after 8am, we were finally allowed into the theater where the announcements would soon take place. Each network lined up in a row to begin preparing to record the live event. A few minutes later, the celebrity announcers, Uzo Aduba and Catt Dealy, gracefully pranced onto stage to greet the house and begin listing the lucky nominees. They were surprised at the end of the announcements when the president of the Television Academy came out on stage to read the last two categories. Both of them were nominated for their own show! They didn’t put that part in the rehearsal, so they had absolutely no idea it was coming. I had a huge smile on my face, watching the two amazing women humbly and adorably freak out on stage as they were selected for such an honor—especially Catt in her british accent.

Both seemed humble and sweet. Uzo was absolutely beautiful (she doesn’t have real life crazy eyes…hence the reason she deserves an Emmy) and flawless, and Catt light up the stage with the positive energy and presence she radiates. Before the interview, I told Catt I loved her romper (seriously it was so cute) and she smiled and laughed and thanked me. She went on to tell me how she loved them because they reminded her of Jimmy Kimmel’s pajamas. After the interview she thanked the crew and turned to thank me (for whatever reason). I wanted to shed a single tear of happiness, but I kept it together. What a kind lady.

On the way back to my car, I found myself walking next to an older lady on the way down the large ballroom stairs. She commented on how marvelous and grand the stairs were, and how she was waiting for her prince at the bottom. I laughed and made a joke about still waiting for my prince to come, and she said “I’ve been waiting for years.” We began talking—and again—I had a lovely conversation with yet another person.

Turns out, she’s a producer at the Television Academy for the Emmy’s and Tony’s.

I wanted to fall over and die.

I also wanted to tell her how funny and ironic it was that I applied to the Television Academy internship and didn’t get it—but somehow I still ended up here anyway.

I wasn’t sure if we were on that level yet, so I didn’t.

Even at my own internship, in one of the first weeks I ran into the executive producer in the bathroom without knowing it.

Sometimes we come across the best people in the most mundane of places.

Whether it’s a producer, a stranger with an interesting or inspiring past, your next best friend, or your future significant other—you never know who you are speaking with.

Be kind to all,

and most of all,

don’t be afraid to say hello.

Day 361.

Lesson #356: They say bad things happen in 10’s… and 20’s… and 30’s.

7/11/15.

You know when one bad thing happens? And then another? And another? Then so many bad things start happening that you begin to wonder if you’ll ever see the sunlight again through the heap of horrible things piling up on you?

Okay, that was a little bit dramatic.

No tears, but today was definitely rough day.

My external hard drive crashed in the middle of editing a good friend’s wedding video, I had to drop a ton of money on a new drive without even knowing if I would be able to get all the files back, I came across something that I didn’t even know would still hurt, and I was behind on my blog posts, amongst a list of other things. Add in one little thing here and one little thing there, and soon my entire day was a hot mess. About the only good part of it was a phone call with my dad and a huge chocolate chip cookie.

I went to a coffee shop around the corner that I had never been to and did some work alone, and it turns out that my day got a lot better with just that small action. It was just distracting enough, but it also gave me the space to think.

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I typed up a little list of some things that I learned.

1. Be gentle. With the things you handle, and with yourself.

2. Outlines work on everything and anything. It’s the best way to get organized. Seriously. If you learned nothing else from middle school English class, remember this.

3. Schedule time at least once a week to be alone. And I don’t mean “alone” as in coming home to an empty house or sitting in your living room while your friends or roommates or significant other is out. I mean “alone” as in out doing something alone. Alone, as in surrounded by people. Being purposefully alone. Re-centering yourself in the presense of other bodies is a very powerful, refreshing, and empowering thing. You’re not tucked away in the usual comfort of your own mind as you sit on the couch; you’re just ever so slightly aware of what’s happening around you, and you’re forced to be in tune with yourself. You’re out, and you’re doing your own thing. You’re spending time with you.

4. I’ve come to a resolution about a certain thing, and the resolution is that it’s just not going to hurt any less. I don’t mean it’s going to hurt forever—because it can’t. But I know that right now, and for a very long time, it’s not going to hurt any less without action. I need to seriously separate myself for a while, or it will never get better. T-swift said that bandaids don’t fix bullet holes, and that’s the truth. But what she didn’t tell us (until next single) is that you can’t keep putting bandaids over open wounds. I need to accept that it hurts and work to get past it by creating space. As I’ve said in a previous lesson, realizing something is a completely different lesson than actually executing what you’ve learned. But at least I’ve gotten as far as the first one. Wish me luck.

5. When I spoke to my dad today, he reminded me of the most true and fundamental thing we need to remember. Bad things that happen to us—and even the bad things that we bring on ourselves—will only make us stronger and better. You can’t afford to get all frustrated over it. You have to take it as it is, learn from it, and know what to do next time. It’s as simple as that.

I’ve learned so much about myself today. How I become hesitant and introverted when I go into crisis mode; how tough I can be, but how fragile I am too. I realized that I am stronger than I give myself credit for. I realized that I am confident and independent, but I sometimes rely on others for answers that I need to find myself. I realized that it’s okay to rely on others for a push sometimes, but NEVER for validation. I learned I am meek and shy when it comes to being wrong, but regardless, I always admit when I am. I learned that I am most discombobulated and frantic and not myself, not when I’m stressed, but when I’m nervous. And all of these are things I want to work on.

As we get closer and closer to Day 365, I’ve realized that the good times teach us something wonderful, but the hard times aren’t just hard—they teach us something as well. There is no good feeling that comes with mess-ups, mishaps, or moments gone wrong. But the greatest feeling that rises from it all, is the feeling of a lesson learned; of a little piece of betterment for ourselves.

Use it to carry on.

Day 356.

“Don’t Put All of Your Eggs in One Basket.” A guest lesson by Joe McGraw.

Recently, I lost the best relationship I had ever been in. We were together for a little over two years, and he was honestly my best friend. But one night I could sense something was wrong. He later told me he didn’t love me anymore, and that he was no longer attracted to me. My self-esteem was destroyed. It felt as though a piece of me had died, and finding a way to feel complete again has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I knew something was wrong a few months before it all ended, but I chose to ignore the signs because I thought it would pass and we would spend the rest of our lives together.

About a year into our relationship he proposed that we move to Germany together because free tuition is now being offered to international students. We both dropped out of college and started working more to save up our money. The thought of living out the rest of my days with the guy of my dreams made me so incredibly happy, it felt as though it was too good to be true. And it was.

I’ve been dealing with depression since around the 8th grade, but after it was all said and done between us, I fell into a pit of self-hatred and lost any motivation I had left to move forward in life. I moved back in with my parents in Georgia because I thought making a fresh start for myself would fix everything. I lost contact with the majority of the people that I called my friends, and I can honestly say I have never felt more alone in my entire life. I began having several thoughts of suicide.

Looking back, I know there were plenty of reasons the relationship had to end. To name one, we smoked pot every day and sat around accomplishing nothing. Sure, we were still working, but after about a year we didn’t really have a whole lot of money to show for it because we spent most of it on weed.

I’m in no way trying to bash this person by any means, because honestly, he’s a really good guy. He just ended up losing feelings for me and it all came out in a really bad way. We had reached a point where we were both stuck in a stasis, and the path we were both once following had reached a fork, and it was time to go our separate ways. He still wanted to be friends, but I knew if I had let that happen I would never actually be over him. I’m still not, but I’ve unfollowed him on all social media and I’ve deleted his number off of my phone in hopes that one day I will be.

Depressing shit aside, I do want to convey a lesson here. Throughout the relationship, I put all of my heart and soul into being with him. We were together just about every day. We didn’t give each other any room to grow as individuals. I focused all of my time and effort on staying in that relationship, I no longer even had a hold on who I was. I put all of my eggs in that basket and just hoped that everything would work out. I basically depended on him for my happiness, which is something nobody should ever do. I couldn’t make myself happy, so he was my solution. Its cliché, but a person really cannot love another until they can learn to love themselves, and that’s something I’m desperately trying to do. I’m going back to therapy and I’ve been going on daily walks and trying to work out more.

I’m still not sure on what I want to do with the rest of my life, but I feel like making these small steps to better my overall mental health is at least a good start. So what’s the lesson here?

Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Work towards your own goals and never lose sight of yourself. I’m not saying be selfish and never invest your time in a relationship, just don’t let your relationship consume your life. Don’t let any other person be the source of your happiness. That happiness needs to come from within.

I’ve also realized that it’s perfectly okay to not know what you want to do with your life. What I’ve started doing is just considering every little thing that I’m the slightest bit passionate about and going from there. Don’t be afraid to try anything and everything.

Stay cool, kiddos.

-Lesson by Joe McGraw-

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Joe McGraw likes long walks through beautiful scenery and following an endless number of cats on Instagram. Coffee is life.

“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.

Lesson #336: The only way to it, is through it.

6/21/15.

Of course,

today’s lesson is the exact opposite of yesterday’s lesson.

That would happen.

At 5:00am, seven of us woke up at the crack of dawn to see the sunrise at a little park in the Hollywood hills called Griffith Observatory. We sped to catch the sun, got re-routed about three times (the freeway exit was closed), and finally arrived at the park.

Surprise.

We ended up doing a three hour hike for 7.2 miles through the mountains, all to make it to the Hollywood sign.

This was not planned.

We had no water. We hadn’t eaten. Some of us had one or two hours of sleep. We sure as hell weren’t in proper hiking shoes.

But when saw the incredible view, acknowledged the fact that we were already there, and realized that we had the whole day ahead of us—we decided,

“Why not?”

As soon as I saw the “Beware of rattlesnakes” sign, I knew shit was about to go down.

It started out as a dirt road.

Then it became a winding dirt road.

Then it became an upward winding road.

We had no idea where we were going, and we didn’t start out at the traditional entrance that headed to the sign. Basically, we were on one of the mountains nearby, we saw it, and we decided to head for it.

We asked people along the way which direction to go, and got different answers each time. So  we just kept heading towards the electric tower near the sign, determined to find a way to get there—whether it was up, around, down, or through.

Seriously.

We started scaling the mountain.

The path was carved out, but the trail was pretty thin. We were ridiculously high in the sky, so much that we could look down at the city through clouds of fog.

People were passing us in full-on hiking gear, meanwhile we’re grabbing rocks with our hands and sliding down drops on our butts.

But the view was absolutely beautiful.

Houses, lights, meandering roads, clouds, hills, greenery—it seemed like the world was endless.

After an hour of panting, stopping, and sweating, we finally reached the bottom of the mountain hike, and raced onto the normal path.

But we weren’t done yet.

We had another thirty minutes of walking uphill, tackling the last mountain.

Finally, we reached a gate.

The Hollywood sign was right in front of us, facing outwards towards the city. The letters were huge and white, even bigger than I had imagined.

We made it.

There were times that we actually doubted we would—but we did.

And it was honestly one of the most rewarding moments of my entire life.

It’s sounds so incredibly cheesy, but really, we did it all together. And that’s what made the experience so cool. We helped one another and kept each other going and it was great.

We got to the top and took pictures and hung out for a second, taking it all in. It wasn’t the view we initially imagined—but we soon realized that it was even closer.

The hike back down was even harder than coming up. We decided to head home towards our apartment, since it was closer than where we started. When we saw the new mountain we had to go down… I couldn’t even begin to tell you some of the looks on our faces. It was HUGE. And steep. Even steeper than the first. Since I was in a pair of converse and we were going downhill, I was sliding everywhere. I slipped and got a huge cut on my ankle and elbow, and scratches on my leg.

I guess I could call them wounds.

But I think I’ll call them battle scars instead.

See what I did there?

When the morning began, we thought it would be a nice, clear day—but there was a ton of fog. We thought we would reach the front of the sign—but we were behind it. We thought we were simply going to watch the sunrise—then we went on the most unexpected, challenging, hilarious, and incredible hikes of our lives.

So today’s lesson?

It’s all about perspective and perseverance.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s lesson, planning is important.

But when it comes to planning, things go wrong.

And when things go wrong, you have to be flexible.

And when you have to be flexible, being positive about it helps.

And when you’re positive about it, your perspective changes.

And when your perspective changes,

you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Believe me—this trip was not perfect. Aside from the physical hardships and barriers, I’m not going to pretend like it was all roses and daisies. There were definitely some emotions happening; some resentment and hesitation on everyone’s part.

But in the end,

we had each others back,

we changed our perspective,

we persevered,

we had fun,

we made memories,

and we made it.

And that’s what matters.

The next time you’re forced to face a mountain in your life (literally or figuratively…ha)—remember:

The only way the get to it, is to get through it.

Day 336.