Tag Archives: a year of lessons

A year of lessons, a year later.

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7/20/16.

WHAT?

I can’t believe a year ago today I finished writing A Year Of Lessons. It was absolutely one of (if not the) most transformative experiences of my life to this day. It wasn’t just a year that I lived and documented, but it was one that I created and shaped because I intentionally chose to see something special (both the good AND bad) in every single day. I learned gratitude and dedication and vulnerability and perspective and persistance and all those nights sitting on my college apartment floor at 3am after a horribly long day but still writing and hating my life finally added up to something. Looking back today, A Year Of Lessons was such a wonderful gift I granted to my future self, and hopefully to some of you all who hopped on the ride and read along.

This is exactly why I’m so in love with storytelling and words and writing and art, and sharing it with others. Because it’s a message from the past for the future. When I was unpacking my very last box from college a few weeks ago, at the top of the box was the first month of lessons from my blog printed out on paper. I read some of them and was completely shocked at the effect it had on me: I cringed at some, laughed at others, and couldn’t stop the smile on my face from spreading at most. The words on these pages were still so powerful, and reminded me what I still need to learn but also how far I’ve come. Later that day, I was editing my new podcast (https://soundcloud.com/user-986375572) (eep so excited) and something a professor said in an interview over three months ago had beautiful meaning then, but in that very moment, in my circumstances at that point in time, it moved me to tears. Stories are like time capsules. It’s a gift; a whisper and a warm smile from God saying, “You need this.” Words can move us and transform us and they transcend time and space. They’re little messages. Little signs.

This blog was never just a blog to me. The writing was never just writing. The job you hold, the things you go through, the people you meet… they’re never just that. They are experiences, and they are lessons waiting to happen. At such a crucial time in my life where I’m at a crossroad beginning a new journey that i’m not 100% sure about it (I’m working in DC!!! This was not my original plan at all!!! But I’m excited!!! And scared!!! And also confused at how one metros!!!), this was the perfect reminder to be open, be excited, and to learn.

Thank you, AYOL.

And thank you to you all.

Both are forever engrained in my heart. <3

All my love,

<3

Mia (Your newest post graduate… I did it!)

To stay updated with me and my ~crazy~ life, and to hear about my future/current projects, follow me on my social media accounts!

Twitter: @yourstrulymia_

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PS… something that’s square and binded together and may have a little (or a lot) to do with A Year Of Lessons may be happening sometime in the near future… stay tuned ;)

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.

“How to be a gardener.” A guest lesson by Monise Brabham.

So they say gardening is therapeutic, right? You’d really have to ask my husband, since he’s the gardener/landscaper in the family. He works really hard to keep our flowerbeds looking beautiful. There was one time I felt compelled to help him get all those pesky little weeds out. Sadly, I didn’t realize what I had signed up for until after I had sat down and really looked at the ridiculous amount of weeds that had pretty much overtaken our used-to-be-beautiful flowerbeds. At that point I was thinking, “Uh………therapeutic???” Nope, labor intensive!

For the next several hours, I sat and pulled all of the weeds out. Honestly, what kept me going was the image of beauty restored in our flowerbeds. I began to think about the other benefit of pulling the weeds: weeds not only look bad, but they can choke out life in the flowers because they compete with the flowers for water and nutrients. Ultimately and most importantly, overcrowding would be inevitable if we never pulled out weeds.

Makes sense and seems simple, right? Well now I’m forced to cross reference these simple benefits with my life. Imagine going through your life never cleaning out your closet and getting rid of old clothes, never getting rid of old papers or old technology, never leaving behind old thought processes—and of course—relationships. I begin to think about the amount of space in my life being used on things I don’t use or benefit from.

Going through the daily motions of life, we become unconscious collectors of relationships, issues, emotions, decisions, and things. There is so much power in taking inventory of our lives. Once we do this, we begin to realize just how overgrown our very own “flowerbeds” are. This means we have little to no room for growth. We’re blocking opportunities, self improvement, knowledge, beneficial relationships—and most importantly—becoming a better you.

You have two options. You can choose to ignore all the extra, unnecessary luggage you’re carrying around, and slow yourself down. Or, you can choose to invest your time in de-cluttering.

1. Inspect your relationships closely. While it’s true that not every person has to bring added value to your journey, they should definitely be a positive influence in your life. If that’s not the case, begin the process of shedding the naysayers, pessimists, leeches, and joy stealers, and fill that new space with people who are for you and want you to win.

2. Evaluate your negative emotion meter. Are you holding onto regret, animosity, anger, or fear? Remember: if you think it you become it. Let go and in comes a new perspective. This is the best way to stop blocking your blessings.

3. Purge those closets, drawers, and even under the bed. If you haven’t worn it in the past two seasons, chances are you won’t ever wear it again. Donate everything in that pile and reward yourself with two new outfits to go with the new you that is bound to occur if you truly take the time to pull the weeds in your life.

When you do all of these things, you will have more mental clarity, positive energy, and space for all the good things coming your way.

-Lesson by Monise Brabham-

“It isn’t easy.” A guest lesson by Michael Galfetti.

I’m tired of people thinking things will be easy.

I feel like people think “once I get my dream job” or “once I meet the right person” or “once I find God” that life will be easy.

But that isn’t true.

Being in love with your soulmate will not be easy.

Discovering who you are will not be easy.

Being caring and open will not be easy.

But the thing is—you will not be satisfied with an easy life.

The challenge is what makes life all the better.

Here’s the thing: life is hard.

But don’t ever let it stop you from doing what you want.

In fact,

life being difficult probably means you are doing something right.

-Lesson by Michael Galfetti-

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Michael Galfetti is a junior at George Mason University studying Government and International Politics. The picture was taken on his study abroad in El Salvador (that is also where he gained the perspective that allowed him to write this blog post). Where he learned about women’s fight for their rights in the country. He has an interest in working internationally and recognizes the role the West plays in international development. You can find him on twitter at @spaghetigalfeti.

 

Lesson #354: Staying late.

7/9/15.

Today’s lesson is about after hours,

but in no way, shape, or form is it hot or sexy or steamy.

I stayed at my internship an hour late today to finish up work after I was asked to do a few more things.

I usually really don’t mind.

But this time the sun was setting, and there was a total of four of us left in the office.

I was exhausted, I had a prior commitment that I had to push back, and after a really long day I just wanted to go home.

But as soon as I felt those thoughts starting to come on, I stopped and reminded myself how absolutely lucky I am to have this internship. I reminded myself how opportunities like this only happen once, and how someone needed me. I remembered that everything I do or touch, or everything I don’t do or don’t touch, has an effect on the final outcome. I remembered what I was here for, and that I was chosen to be here. So I sucked it up. I wouldn’t let them down.

As walked across the room to take something somewhere, one of the producers I was working with noticed and stopped me.

“How long are you supposed to be here for?” he asked.

“Until six,” I said. “I’m staying late today.”

The corners of his mouth flipped into a smile.

“That’s how you get ahead,” he said. “That’ll set you apart.”

I’ve always thought it was a myth—the whole idea of staying late and looking good for it. I’ve always thought, “Couldn’t anyone do that to look good?”

But tonight didn’t provide me with some huge realization that it’s not myth, or that in order to be great you have to stay behind.

It just made me realize that people are always watching. People are always noticing.

And that’s nice.

Scary,

but nice.

The real lesson?

Always do your best,

and do what has to be done.

Even if that means staying late every once in a while.

Day 354.

Hi…atus

Dearest friends, life on the west coast has been wonderful and crazy.

This past week has been especially insane.

I have seen and learned such an incredible amount this week, that rather than use the tiny amount of time I had each night to quickly write a lesson, I wanted to allow myself a reasonable, full, and fair amount time to get everything on the page.

I figured better “late” than completely rushed… and completely shitty.

Those were my thoughts after a fantastic happening on Tuesday night.

Then again on Wednesday.

And Thursday.

And Friday.

And Saturday.

And now today.

So.

In the midst of this hectic time—using my last few weeks to explore LA, (attempting to) kick butt at my internship, and editing an entire wedding video—I have to apologize for the delay.

But like last hiatus,

I scribbled down notes each day.

Now to just put them into coherent words.

You can expect quite a few lessons over the next 48 hours.

Get ready for a week worth of stories about an all-star writer, advice from Andy Cohen, an experience with Joel McHale, losing, fucking up, realizing I’m not over it—and my favorite—just learning.

Talk to you soon.

x Mia

“Crying while eating salad.” A guest lesson by Frannie Nejako.

Inevitably, at some point in your life, you will feel lonely. I have felt this recently after I finished eating salad, which leads us to the title of this lesson: Crying while eating salad.

This week, I had a moment when everything crashed and burned. This can be attributed to three things:

1. My desk at work was moved to a corner away from everyone in the office.

2. I was in the midst of a soul search after I officially graduated college in May. This search for my passion in life took place thousands of miles away from my support group in Virginia.

3. I found out through my mom that one of my old basketball teammates died.

I was feeling a weird combination of depression and homesickness and my natural response was to cry. I couldn’t, however, because I had bought a delicious salad from Fat Sal’s that I needed to eat. No one cries while eating salad. How do I know this? I googled people crying while eating salad and received images of the opposite. People eating salad were laughing and smiling in a state of unrelenting euphoria.

The people who were crying couldn’t bring themselves to eat their food.

So I finished my salad while Skyping my long distance boyfriend and, after everything was thrown away and done with, I sobbed for a good thirty minutes. I couldn’t explain this feeling of loneliness that I had but I knew everything was falling around me and I could barely keep myself together. He comforted me through it all but there’s only so much you can do when you live on the opposite coast.

The next morning, I decided to change things around. It was a half day at work due to the Fourth of July holiday, so I made a few promises to myself.

1. I would keep my chin from dipping to the floor. My head would be held high and proud because I would seize the day.

2. I would smile at every person I saw.

3. I would be honest in all things.

To my surprise, the sadness melted away throughout the day. I was laughing and smiling, joking and having a great time. As I headed home in the car, I called my family members who were on the road to Massachusetts for the weekend.

However, the best moments of my ride happened when I was in complete silence. No music. No phone. No technology. I took time to listen to my thoughts and check in with myself.

I wanted to be a writer. I was writing every day and finally, after years and years, I admitted to myself that this was something I felt ready to pursue. I thought through numerous life plans: what was I going to do in the meantime? How would I get by? What were the next steps?  The silence allowed me enough time to truly ask myself if this was something I wanted.

Throughout this holiday weekend, I promised to allow myself more of these moments in silence. I reached realizations I didn’t think I would reach. I got to know my classmates better and had a variety of new experiences. Lastly, I climbed a mountain to a waterfall, something you’ve probably read on Mia’s blog already.

Sometimes we’re so caught up in our phones, texts, emails, tweets, etc. that we don’t take the time to check in with ourselves. You are the most important person you will ever spend time with. Take yourself on a date somewhere new. Go and see a movie by yourself. If you need something more simple, turn your radio off when you are in the car alone.

It’ll give you time to hear yourself think.

There are reasons you can’t cry while eating salad. Crying is personal. You need a moment to collect yourself and check in with your emotions. When you have managed that, you can finally move towards a happier lifestyle.

Your decision to be happy comes from your decision to let yourself by happy.

So, what’s your hesitation in making this day the best you’ve ever had? It’s all in your mind. And once you know yourself, nothing can stop you from creating the life you want.

-Lesson by Frannie Nejako-

View More: http://rbphotog.pass.us/frannie-nejakoFrannie Nejako is a writer and director from Virginia. She is a recent graduate of James Madison University, with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Creative Writing. She loves new experiences almost as much as she loves a good meal. Frannie has recently become obsessed with HGTV and home renovation shows, ironically at a time in her life when she can’t afford a house, let alone a few paint buckets. Frannie is called to be a storyteller, and plans to tell stories for the rest of her life. You can read more about her adventures in her blog, https://adventureswithfran.wordpress.com.