Tag Archives: life lesson

“Listen to the guy that was friends with a volleyball… I’m not kidding.” A guest lesson by Lauren Makely. 

I remember waking up in my bed the morning after I found out my mom had passed away from her long and tough battle with cancer and thinking:

“Do I get up?”

“Do I stay here?”

“Can my body even lift itself off the bed?”

“How am I even still breathing?”

It took me a great deal of time to understand how I could’ve possibly woken up that morning when the reason I existed no longer did.

Yet there I was, staring at the ceiling of my bedroom eight hours after my worst fear had come true. I wasn’t crying or angry. I just lay there watching the sun peak out of the bottom of my shade.

Weirdly enough, this little ray of light reminded me of a line from the movie Cast Away (Yes the one with Tom Hanks), a movie my brother and I had watched an embarrassing amount of times growing up,

“So now I know what I have to do. I have to keep breathing. And tomorrow the sun will rise, and who knows what the tide will bring in.”

As cheesy as it sounds, this is the moment I think I decided how I would live the rest of my life. This moment I decided I was going to make it out of my bed. I decided I wasn’t going to break.

This is the moment I decided I was going to keep moving.

However, this didn’t mean I was just going to go through life like a zombie. I was going to keep reaching for my dreams and working hard to do everything I set my mind to, just like my mom had taught me to do for the last 20 years. I decided I was going to grab ahold of my passion and never let it slip from my grasp because in the end, no matter how often we forget, we never really know what the tide will bring or wash away.

The lesson here is to get up, brush yourself off when the world knocks you down, and keep going. No matter how scared or uncertain you are about what lies ahead, let it inspire you.

Let it inspire you to live more freely,

Live more positively,

Succeed in what makes you happy,

Take chances,

And love harder.

Since that moment, I’ve continued to make strides in school, discover incredible friendships, meet influential people, land my dream internship, discover more about the person I want to be in the future, and yes…. fight more battles, but all the while keeping in mind, “you’re going to make it because you’ve made it this far.”

All things mama would be proud of and I know she’s has had a part in thus far.

So next time you’re asking yourself whether to get out of bed or not, just remember that you have to live through the toughest of days and struggle through the toughest of moments to get to the best of your life.

Lesson by Lauren Makely.

GetAttachment.aspxLauren Makely is a coffee powered human being with a slight obsession with morning talk shows. She is a human rights activist entering her senior year at James Madison University, finishing her Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Anthropology. When she grows up she wants to influence policy and fight for the rights of women and girls facing gender-based violence, because every empowered girl leads to a better world.


Lesson #359: Don’t you, forget about me.


Another day, another lesson.

But it’s Tuesday—so you know what that means:

Some amazing, motivational, inspirational life and career advice.

Today in class, an amazing couple named Erin and Soon Hee Retting came to speak with us. Erin is a film editor for 20th Century Fox (he’s edited productions such as X-Men: Days of Futures Past and Fantastic Four…wow), while Erin is a producer and composer.

Let’s jump right in, shall we?

Here are 10 things I learned from this awesome duo.

1. Always take time to know and understand your Plan B.

Have a Plan B.


Because on your way to Plan A, you’ll always come across your Plan B.

When class began, Erin took a student’s laptop in the first row and held it up. The very first thing he asked all of us?

“What would happen if your computer died right now?”

Everyone shuttered at the thought.

“If my computer died, I would die,” Shelby, one of my friends and peers, responded.

Erin told us that in one of his first and earliest films, by the time he went to turn in the master track, the dialogue was off by two seconds. Luckily, he had everything backed up on disks. And if he didn’t… well… you get the picture.

So what’s your Plan B?

On your way to the top, you may have to use it.

2. It’s a waiting game.

Much like Ross from Glee, it took Erin one year, four months, and four interviews to get the job he has with Fox. So don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.

3. Interviews are fun.

Says no one ever. But they can be. Think of your next interview or interviews as a series of conversations. Be yourself. Chat it up. It’s like getting coffee with an old friend except for the fact that you just met but whatever. Let them get to know the real you. You obviously have the skills to be there. Now just prove them right.

4. It’s going to take time.

And it’s going to take a lot of it.

Things always tend to take a LOT longer than you originally thought they would,

especially if you want them to be great.

5. It takes a village.

You can do it alone, but you don’t have to.

6. Keep in mind who you are giving your work to.

Make it memorable. Make it relatable. Make it good.

Speaking of good…

7. Do good at every job you do.

Even getting coffee. Seriously.

If a coffee comes back sloppy they’ll think: “Are they sloppy in the rest of their work?”

When you make it easier for the next person, they’re going to remember you. When they need someone or something in the future, they’re going to remember you.

Be organized, be professional, and have that Plan B ready.

Everything is connected.

Every task matters.

Everyone notices.

8. A, B, C. It’s easy as 1, 2… caring.

Build relationships. Never ever ever just network. Erin said the people he can remember every time are the ones who showed they really cared. Not the ones who are necessarily great at what they do—but the ones who just wanted to learn more. An intern he worked with used to stay 10 or 15 minutes after her paid shift and ask, “Can I see what you do?” She watched what he did because she wanted to know more, and she was the one he called when a friend asked if he knew someone for the job. It’s as easy as showing you care about someone, and that you care about what you do.

9. You’re only as good as your last job.

So again, make it great.

You won’t get it perfect every time,

but if you work your ass off like this is the last thing you’ll ever do—

your work will show for it.

10. The number one thing Erin wish he knew:

Keep in touch.

It’s okay to call someone you know or admire, ask them for a little bit of their time, and thank them for speaking with you. Tell them your desires, your goals, and what you want to do. Ask for advice, and take it.

But the key?

Call again.

Send a birthday card, or a quick message saying Hello or Happy Holidays. Stay on their radar, always.

Don’t expect someone to remember you after the first time. In fact, Soon Hee told us on average it takes up to seven times for someone to remember you after the first encounter. They might even forget about you after the first twenty minutes. But keep yourself in their loop, and place them in yours.

I was actually talking to Frannie, my LA roommate, about this the other day.

I shared with her one of my all-time favorite quotes, and now I’ll share it with you.


This may not be The Breakfast Club,

but much like Erin and Soon Hee taught us today—

don’t let them forget about you.

Day 359.

Lesson #346: Getting clear.


I can’t quite explain what was happening in my brain as Amy was talking yesterday, but somewhere in the midst of it, something clicked for me. And today only confirmed it further.

Like Amy, early on in my life I fell in love with the way movies made me feel; how all these elements could come together and move a group people—even change people. Before I lost all my baby teeth or knew how to write cursive, I already was putting on shows with my Barbie dolls on my bedroom floor. By the time I was 10, I had a notebook full of novel ideas and chapters, pieces of movie and television scripts, and short plays. I wrote and devoloped a television series about a group of pre-teens living on the beach before I even had boobs. I remember asking my mom and dad to use the family computer to type all of these scripts and chapters, printing out pages and pages of stories and sticking them in Lisa Frank folders (that I still have… it’s hilarious). Kids were asking for Polly Pockets and Easy Bake ovens, and I was the kid asking for a typewriter.

My friends would come over after middle school, and we would re-enact scenes from Hannah Montana in the living room for our parents. On a shitty flip-cam that I got for Christmas one year, my neighbors and I would record ourselves singing songs we wrote in spiral notebooks that were falling apart from being written in so much. We even took turns strumming my small green guitar that we had absolutely no idea how to actually play. 

When I picked up a much better (but still shitty) camera at the age of 12 and made my first semi-real video with a friend, we decided to post it on YouTube for fun. I later found a video editing software that came with my laptop, and started experimenting with more videos. That’s when it really began.

I started making and filming my own original skits—then music videos—then movie scene re-makes—then my own short films. I gained a YouTube following and started building relationships with people in the online community who loved doing the same thing. My interest in being in front of the camera began to grow as well. During my first year of middle school in sixth grade, my mom encouraged me to try out for the school play. I won best actress for my role as the school nerd that year, and tried out and acted in the plays every year after that. I continued to do theatre all throughout high school, making friends and falling in love with the costumes and characters and stories; both performing and directing. I took what I knew from the stage, and let it inspire me to do some of the same things on camera—and I loved it.

In one of my first production classes in college, it hit me: I was developing and writing treatments before I knew what they were, and shooting low angles and high angles and rack focusing before I even knew they had names. I was a writer, producer, and sometimes actor, and I didn’t even know it. I was just doing what I loved.

As I got older, I realized it wasn’t just the act of movie-making that I loved.

It was storytelling.

As you can see—I used the word “love” at least four or five times while explaining my story.

And if that doesn’t say something, I don’t know what else does.

When Amy told us yesterday to get clear on what we want by tuning in to what we love instinctively—it only solidified the answer for me.

Storytelling runs through my veins; it’s constantly on my mind and in my heart.

But I’m still pretty confused.

I mean—I’m 20.

Storytelling is a very broad term. I like a lot of things—so many things that I don’t know exactly what I want to do yet. I don’t know where to start. I want to act. I want to talk and discuss. I want to write. I want to develop. I want to produce. I want to direct.

At my internship this summer, I love being there. I like what I’m doing and how much I’m learning. I’m working hard.

But in the midst of Amy talking, I realized something right then and there.

There are two different kinds of hard work. There’s the kind of work where you try hard because you want to appear good, be good, or look good.

And then there’s the kind of work where you’re working hard and you don’t even realize it. Where you stay up all night (like right now on the living room floor writing this) to perfect something, or understand something, or finish something. Where you work hard because you want to discover, or find, or build, or be better; because you want to make something the best that it can be.

You’re working hard for yourself.

And I realized the second is the one we’re supposed to chase after.

I found that where I worked my hardest, is creatively.

Using my brain to create. To problem solve with my eyes, heart, and mind. To figure out where something should be placed, or what to capture, or how something can be told. To strategize how it can be marketed and advertised and sold. To execute visions, and write ideas. To bring something inspiring to the world. And it’s what what feels right to me.

I don’t know where I’m going yet.

But I do know that feeling is what I’m going to follow.

Day 346.

Lesson #331: Adult things.


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.


Day 331.

Lesson #327: Is this seat taken?


I really hate myself sometimes.

Today on my flight, a man was sitting in my assigned seat. I approached him and said, “36C?”

He just looked at me.

Cue awkward pause.

Him: “Oh, is this your seat?”

Me: “Yeah, I think so. But I can switch with you.”

Him: “Yeah, that’d be great.”

Face palm.

Why do I continue to do nice things, even in situations that don’t call for it? I told him I didn’t mind… BUT I DID.

I wanted to be near the front. I wanted to be in an aisle seat—like I was supposed to be. But once again, I just had to go and be nice.

Although in the end, I wasn’t really being nice. I was just being a doormat.

So instead of being furiously upset with myself or this guy for being in my seat and then not even offering to move, I’ll just take a deep breath and take this as a lesson learned.

Don’t sacrifice your happiness just for the sake of being nice.

Take what’s yours.

Day 327.

Lesson #326: You’re never “just” anything.


Today at my internship, I went on my first two shoots: an interview and a red carpet event. I’m not allowed to mention specifics thanks to “the man,” but I’ll say what I can. Here’s how it went.

I had an absolutely incredible time. It was so awesome being in an environment that had such high energy and excitement, but was so relaxed at the same time. It felt like home. There was a lot of waiting and then running and then waiting. I loved watching everything and everyone get set up, observing people doing their job, being a peasant in the presence of greatness, and just experiencing how everything runs before and after a shoot. It’s amazing, and even more of a complex, down-packed science than I originally thought.

End dreamy rant.

As we were about to enter the back room to set up for the interview, the friendly lady who runs (the place that shall not be named) passed me. We had talked earlier, so I smiled at her and said hello again.

“You keeping busy?” I asked.

She laughed. “Always! You go on yet?”

“Not yet, soon though,” I said.

Then she said something along the lines of: “It must be great to be on-screen talent!”

If I could turn red—I would have. I laughed instead.

“No no no, I’m not the on-screen talent!” I pointed to the host from E! News. “That’s her. I’m just the intern!”

Then the most embarrassing thing happened.

Is there a name for second hand embarrassment from someone else, but towards you?


This woman SCREAMS,

(I’m not exaggerating)


I get quiet. I have no idea where this is going, and the producer, the cameramen, and the host are all standing right behind me. She’s screaming (loudly but lovingly) about me being “just” an intern—which were my words—but totally and completely not in the way that she’s repeat-screaming them in this low-key, dimlight place.


…not that i doubted it. I know I make a contribution, and I like to make a contribution. But I also know my place, and I diddddn’t exactly need this lady screaming it to make it look like I didn’t.

She proceeds to yell—


And this was the moment I knew my lesson of the day.

Even though I much rather would have learned this lesson a little bit more quietly and maybe, like, not right in front of four very important people, she makes a point.

In case you didn’t already know it,

you’re never just anything.

You are important to this world, and someone needs you in some way, shape, or form.

Whatever puzzle you’re apart of—it’s not complete without you.

Whether it’s work, your family, your school, or your friends.

The world needs you.

So today, know this.

You’re never just.

You’re you.

You are.

Day 326.

Lesson #319: The 5 whens.


1. When you’re part of a team, the team comes before any personal want, gain, or goal. What I learned at my internship from sitting on set instead of at my desk during the busiest time of the day.

2. When you’re willing to walk the extra mile, you will be rewarded in the end. What I learned from walking thirty minutes down Sunset Boulevard, desperately and hilariously searching for a Mexican restaurant with my friend Carly, and finally finding the perfect one after almost turning around and giving up hope. It turned out to be the best food I’ve had in LA so far, and the wait staff was made up of the most kind, incredible people. (Go to Antonio’s on Sunset… you won’t be sorry)

3. When you just communicate and ask—I promise you—you save yourself 10x the trouble.  What I learned when Carly and I parked at Astroburger, spontaneously decided to walk all the way down Sunset, then realized that we were probably going to get towed. I called and begged for forgiveness and the safety of my car. It worked. Just be nice, and ask.

4. When you’re open and kind and apathetic towards others, you have the ability to positively shape someone’s day—even their life. What I learned as a broke college student during her first week in LA with a depleting bank account, waiting on her first paycheck, who had to pay for her meal with two different cards plus cash. After such great service, I told the waiter how embarrassed and horrible I felt for putting him through the trouble. He looked at me, smiled, and said, “It could be much worse. One time I forgot my wallet, had to leave my watch and my gold necklace at a restaurant, and ran back to my house to get my money.” I hugged him and thanked him for his kindness and understanding. “It happens,” he said warmly. I don’t know if he’ll ever know how much he made my day and shaped my thoughts. While I still felt bad, he made me feel better. I am a huge believer of always being kind to others and I try to do this every day of my life. But this made me think about how I treat others even more. What about when it’s not that easy? How will I react when I may be in a frustrating situation with someone else? Will I allow myself to get upset? Or will I be understanding? Ask yourself this too. So in closure: share your stories, be understanding, and be kind. Pass it forward.

5. When you don’t copy or save your blog posts before you submit them, the day will come when autosave won’t actually save you. What I learned when the day finally came. You’ll hate yourself, completely lose the desire to type it again for a few hours (…or days), and then have to type the entire thing over again.

But it’s okay.

It’s different, of course.

But somehow, it’s always a little bit better the second time around.

Day 319.