Category Archives: Self-love

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.

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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.

“Dreams.” A guest lesson by Morgan Galvin.

I was seven years old with dreams that seemed far too big for a young girl.

I was told by my uncle that I’d never make it far in marine biology, and that I would never make money. Looking back now, for someone to tell a little girl that her dream isn’t good enough just boggles my mind. But that’s what gets me to my lesson.

“If you’re going to love someone or something then don’t be a slow leaking faucet—be a hurricane.” -Shannon L Alder

Eleven years later, I’m still questioning his thought process when he said it. His opinionated words resonated when I stumbled across this quote.

Ever since my uncle told me I couldn’t make it to be a marine biologist, I’ve worked my butt off and plan to until I get to my dream job. It was that spark of words that has pushed me ever since. Though I was so mad that he said this to me at the age of seven (and so were my parents), I almost think that without it, I might not have had the fire lit inside of me that burns to be successful and defy the odds of unemployment with a biology degree.

Deep down inside everyone has dreams. Whether it’s to get that one guy, be that amazing person, go to college, or change the world—we all have dreams. Don’t ever suppress your dreams in fear that they might be judged or that you’ll be told they’re unattainable. We quickly learn that time doesn’t slow down and regret is the worst feeling.

So dream big, and never let someone tell you your dream isn’t good. Anything is possible if you work hard enough. I’m not going to tell you the road is going to be easy, because I’m still not even close to being done. Quite frankly, I’m just getting started. But follow your own path. Have your own goals. Dream your own dreams. And never give up.

You only get one life to do it all.

Don’t be a leaky faucet, be a hurricane.

-Lesson by Morgan Galvin-

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Morgan Galvin is a lover of turtles, baseball, and America. She is starting my first year at Louisiana State University this fall. She will be majoring in Biology with a concentration in Marine Biology. She’s also a spastic tweeter. Follow her at @mkimbaaa.

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.

Lesson #331: Adult things.

6/16/15.

Guys, I’m an adult.

I know because of two reasons.

1) Yesterday, I wore white pants and didn’t spill anything on them.

2) Today, I went to my first ever real networking event.

It was like a whole new world. For me, it’s pretty easy to walk right up to people and say hi. But to be put in a room to do that—on purpose?

Eh…a little awkward.

But it ended up being a lot, a lot of fun.

Actually, I had a ball.

And I learned a few things too.

I’ve mentioned it before, but this summer I’m in a LA study “abroad” program with my university. Tonight was the program’s five year reunion dinner.

I talked to quite a few people, but the first person that really struck me was a wonderful young woman not too much older than myself. She did the program a few years ago and knew she wanted to live out here; now she’s currently out in LA doing her thing, working with ABC network, and making it on her own. The jaw dropper? She graduated college in two and a half years.

Me and the other girls talking to her were completely fascinated, and floored. Of course I asked: How?

“I made it happen.”

After interning in California, she knew she wanted to finish school but she knew she wanted to get out here as fast as possible. She met and talked to who she needed to talk to, she managed to get the big signature (they originally told her it wasn’t allowed), and she somehow survived nine classes every semester for two semesters (I can barely survive five). Somewhere between her telling us about her journey and me asking how she was so fearless, she replied:

“I don’t like rules. But I don’t like cheating, either. It’s all about winding your way through and then in.”

She told us when she got to LA, she had already been calling ABC for a period of time telling them, “Look, I’m coming to California in a month. Here’s my qualifications. Can you get me an interview?” They said they couldn’t promise, but she didn’t give up. The day she got to Cali, she called them saying, “Hey, it’s me. I’m coming in now, I’m here,” and then finally landed an interview. She didn’t get the position she wanted, but she did get a position starting with the company.

With that being said, I was definitely filling up on inspiration and taking mental notes from her as she talked, and I got this:

You don’t have to break the rules. But to stand out, you have to bend them.

The next guy I talked to was awesome. When he asked me what I want to do, I gave him my usual rundown:

1. I started making YouTube videos eight years ago.

2. I fell in love with development, pre-production, production, post production, engaging an audience and being on camera, and marketing—because I had to do all of it myself.

3. Now I love every step of creating videos and series and movies, which is a bust, because where do I start? I want to do all of it.

He gave me the best advice ever.

“Then do it. All of it.”

He told me about his journey as well; how he’s currently a writer and producer who also acts and is looking to make it in that way as well.

I got super excited because—well—same.

Finally, someone who understands!

When I asked him how to go about it this, because it’s generally frowned upon, he told me something like this:

“You have to put yourself out there. When people ask, you have to be honest and say, ‘Hey, this is all of what I want to do. I want to do all of this and act too.’ Then when an opportunity arises, you’ll be there, and people will have you in mind.”

It’s true. That’s how doors are opened.

And just by listening to these wonderful people and their great advice tonight, doors were opened for me just by listening and learning.

It all starts with a little bit of belief, a little bit of knowledge, and a little bit of inspiration.

Cheers.

Day 331.

Lesson #313: “I tried hard.”

5/30/15.

Today at dinner, my friend Kandace and I found ourselves standing next to a another young woman waiting for her food. Her hair was perfectly curled, she wore a blue and white sundress, and she was rocking a pair of cute leather booties. I told her how much I loved her outfit, and she thanked me with a huge smile on her face.

“I could lie and pretend like I just threw this on—but to be honest—I tried. Really hard.”

Kandace, me, and the girl fell out laughing. I told her she was my new favorite person for that.

When people compliment us, we either humbly or shyly deflect the comment, or we just smile and say, “Thanks,” because quite frankly—we know how hot we look.

But what this girl said was so honest. When we look at other people or even objects, we seem to always focus on the end product or finished appearance—which is good—but we don’t ever really pay much tribute to or acknowledge the work it took to get there.

That’s probably how it’s supposed to be.

But still. It’s good to remember just this:

Nothing starts perfect.

It takes work to get to where you want to be. It takes a little bit of time and effort.

Recognize the journey, celebrate the destination.

And when you look damn good—flaunt it.

Day 312.