Tag Archives: life advice

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.

“Tell yourself you can.” A guest lesson by Kandace Florence.

Chasing your dreams can be an exciting, terrifying, and insanely complicated task.

The toughest battle I had to fight was trusting myself. You can’t be persuaded by outside opinion, whether that be friends, family, or even your significant other. This is especially true in a creative field—because chances are they won’t get it but that’s OK. You know what you want to do, so just do it.

Everyday I had to tell myself that I can be successful, no matter what anyone thinks. And after I told myself that I worked hard through the obstacles I came across.

Now that I’ve finished school, I’m like: ” WOW I ACTUALLY DID THAT!”

Even though the process was HELL and there were days I felt like I couldn’t make it to the finish line, I just had to stick with it and trust myself.

Your dreams ARE possible.

Tell yourself you can.

-Lesson by Kandace Florence-

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Kandace Florence is a recent graduate of the Fashion Institute of Merchandise and Design in Los Angeles, California. She loves and plans to work in the fashion and beauty industry.

Lesson #362: The tale of a perfectionist’s nightmare.

7/17/15.

As a detail-oriented perfectionist, I bring this news to you with a heavy heart.

You don’t have to get it perfect the first time around.

At my internship, a good percentage of my time goes into transcribing interviews.

Word for word, we write down exactly what the interviewer and interviewee are saying in the video. It helps when a producer can quickly scan over a log to decide which pieces of the interview they want for a story, rather than having to watch and listen to minutes and minutes of footage.

Keep in mind that these interviews are usually ten or fifteen minutes; sometimes thirty minutes to an hour.

This whole time, my strategy was to listen to each sentence, write down exactly what they were saying, and then move on to the next one.

The two other interns I work with were finishing much quicker than I was. I was disheartened and confused as to why it was taking me longer. I quietly chugged along, my fingers quickly flying over the keyboard.

Today, I decided I didn’t want to feel that way anymore.

I wanted to know what I was doing differently, so I asked.

Another intern named Sarah told me the method to her madness:

Do now, fix later.

She would press play, write as much as she could, pause it, and then do that all over again until she reached a break in the questions and answers. She wouldn’t look back at the section until the end, then she would go back and add missing words and take out wrong ones and fix misspellings.

What.

Why hadn’t I been doing that all along?

I was so intent on getting it perfect the first time in order to dodge having to go back and fix a mess that I kind of made a mess anyway.

Or at least—I made a mess of myself.

The truth is, you waste your sweet time by walking on egg shells, correcting everything gone astray, and avoiding making a mess.

Because let’s be real.

You’re going to make a mistake, regardless.

Today I learned that sometimes you have to let things go wrong before they go right.

And while I bring you this news with a heavy heart,

I also bring it to you with a huge sigh of relief.

Make a mess.

You’re going to do it anyway.

Day 362.

“I forgot to floss today: A lesson on living your values.” A guest lesson by Taylor Jackson.

Values… what even are those? What does it mean to value honesty? To value kindness? To value flossing every day?

If I asked you to list every single one of your values, chances are it would be seemingly endless: from social equality to breakfast foods. If someone asked you, “Do you value the ethical treatment of living creatures?” you would likely answer yes. But the real question at hand, is what does it really mean to value something? How would I know you valued the ethical treatment of living creatures if you hadn’t just flat out told me?

What I’ve learned in my whopping 20 years is that there are two different people to every person; there is the person you are, and the person you say you are or the person you would like to be. Our entire lives are spent attempting to close that gap, attempting to push ourselves closer to that ideal self.

Prior to college, never once had I considered the importance of aligning my lifestyle with my values. All through my years, I had been taught the importance of having values and the things that I should value. But nobody ever told me what that entailed. It all looked great on paper, but I didn’t have the substance to back it up.

My first real attempt was 10th grade, when I researched the meat industry. I realized that it was an industry that didn’t align with my values, and I became a vegetarian. Now happily vegan, I look back and see that as my first real move towards closing the gap. My freshman year of college, I had a professor who taught a critical thinking class. The entire class was focused on sustainability, individuality, self-thinking, and values; he essentially created a class that asked people to take a hard look at themselves in the mirror and ask, “Who really am I?” I had never felt so passionate about self-improvement. I began stepping outside of my comfort zone and doing all sorts of things I never would’ve, all for the sake of aligning my life with my values. I valued independence, so I took myself out to dinner and a movie… alone! I valued working on my weaknesses, so I joined an organization that pushed me to be outgoing and conversational. I valued supporting local businesses, so I began going out of my way to always shop and eat local. That class was the real wake up call of what it meant to be an honest person and a good human.

Today, I am a completely different person than I was 2 years ago. Though I value all the same things, I now have substance in my life to show for it. I still have a long way to go, but I feel so much pride and love for the life I live and the person I am.

Compliments on my character or my lifestyle mean so much more than they ever did before. My values are now so much more than just words; they have depth and meaning.

As I mentioned before, your list of values could go on forever. It’s not easy, creating a life that aligns with every single person and every single moment. There are days when I’m whiny or lazy or careless, and those days become my fuel to be better. It’s okay to to be different on different days; our lives are a constant push and pull. The important thing is that you’re working on it.

My hopes in writing this bit is not to make you feel guilty or lazy, but to inspire and empower you to be your best self. As people, we are our own biggest investment, our own personal powerhouse; it’s important to be the best that we can be. It allows us to be better in everything else we do. Go ahead, write a list and think about those values. What are they? What does it mean to live them? And yes, it’s okay to skip flossing every once in awhile.

-Lesson by Taylor Jackson-

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Taylor Jackson studies Communications, Music Industry, and Anthropology at James Madison University. An avid animal rights and environmental activist, Taylor spends her time drinking coffee, looking at Instagram, and devoting herself to serving togethers. She has more hobbies than she needs and her favorite past time is to inspire and be inspired.

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

Lesson #351: Knowledge by repetition.

7/6/15.

Slightly different from the saying “practice makes perfect,”

is what I like to call knowledge by repetition.

It’s different than acquiring and perfecting a skill.

It’s remembering and retaining and realizing.

It’s the satisfaction of something finally coming with ease, rather than attaining a goal by exertion.

If you’re anything like me—

and I’m sure a ton of other people—

you find yourself frustrated when you can’t get something right the first time around, or when you can’t quite remember how to do it or what to do.

But before we can even attempt to hone a craft, perfect a talent, or deepen our knowledge,

we need to simply know how to do it first.

That foundation, the first and most important step, is the one that we seem to skip over and become impatient with—when it’s the one we need the most.

As I was driving home from work today, I realized I can finally get back to my apartment without a GPS. I remember being so frustrated the first few weeks. Everyday I would challenge myself to start heading home on my own through the streets of LA, get lost, and then have to type the address on my phone again. Why couldn’t I just remember already? It couldn’t be that hard.

After coming down Franklin today and merging onto Cahuenga, a huge smile spread across my face, and I couldn’t help it. I felt like a complete idiot. Who gets happy over the fact that they can finally get home on their own?

Me, I guess.

It’s just so special and fascinating, how we come to know things and pick up on things—people and places and faces and information—and even the most mundane and simple actions.

We have to do it, and do it, and do it.

And then one day,

we’ll just do it.

We’ll just know it.

Day 351.