Tag Archives: life 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_

Instagram: @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 ;)

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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.

“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 #360: Bad day blues?

7/15/15.

Remember this day?

I lied.

It gets worse.

The night after I got less than two hours of sleep, I stayed an hour and a half late at my internship finishing up work. Exhausted and ready to go home, I was forced to confront one of my worst fears: being stuck on an elevator. First in complete disbelief and then in complete panic, I called my mom to  tell her my final goodbye and that I love her. Finally, security answered my emergency call.

Turns out I wasn’t stuck. Interns just aren’t allowed to be there that late and my badge stopped working.

It was the best.

I walked past the man at the front desk with my head hung in embarrassment. I was the real life Damien from Mean Girls. (“Don’t look at me.”) I got in my car only to be reminded by the bright orange light on my dashboard that I had no gas.

By the time I got to the gas station, I was sobbing on the phone to my parents like a five year old. I felt out of place at stoplights and intersections, in a business blazer much like the other people making their way home.

Except I was 20. And crying.

Thinking about it now, I realized even though it absolutely sucked and all I wanted to do was sleep when I got home, nothing about it was too too bad.

I wasn’t hurt, I didn’t lose anything, and no real damage was done.

I don’t really know what I learned today.

But I was thinking about how long I’ve been writing this blog, and how many bad days I’ve had, and how you’ve had to hear me talk about all them—because whatever it was was happening in my life at the time.

And that’s just it.

It is what was happening… at the time.

Bad days happen.

They happen, and they keep happening, and they will happen until the end of our time.

It’s what was happening at the time.

It’s strange—because there’s so much power in that statement.

What’s happening “at the time” can consume our lives.

It’s what we know in those moments and days, and sometimes it’s hard to think outside of that.

So let it.

Like my very first lesson, use bad days as an excuse. (I mean… this blog was a product of a bad day and it turned out pretty okay, right?)

It the perfect reason to ugly cry, scream a little, give up momentarly—

and then reset.

And that’s the best part of it all.

Sometimes we need to crash and burn to rise again.

Day 360.

Lesson #357: Get her to the Getty.

7/12/15.

As soon as the museum director said “There’s a great power in observing anything” in the orientation video, I knew it was going to be a good day.

Today we took a trip to the Getty Museum.

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When we looked up from the bottom of the highway, we spotted the large white museum sitting atop a tree-scattered mountain with a beautiful view. If ever a building could be majestic, it was this one. Upon riding the tram up the mountainside and stepping into each of the massive buildings, we found the interiors rich with paintings, busts, sculptures, photos, and decorative antiques lining every wall and corner of each room. Outside of the gorgeous stone and marble walls, we zig-zagged down a staircase into the garden. There were bright green trees, plants, flowers in full bloom, and a small stream running through the garden that dropped into a waterfall. Everything about the museum was pristine, well designed, and absolutely breathtaking.

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Although we stuck together as a group at first, we quickly realized that the only way to really experience the art was to experience it ourselves. As certain pieces of work caught our eye and certain exhibits drew our attention, we began to split off and explore the mysteries of the museum on our own.

I stopped and viewed many of the paintings, sculptures, and antiques, listening to the stories behind the art on an app for the museum through headphones. The last exhibit I went to and the one that captured my heart, was the photography exhibit, “Light, Paper, Process: Reinventing Photography.”

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I strolled through the wooden-floored rooms, taking in the pictures of birds with their wings spread and the moon floating through the night sky. I was pleased with the pictures; they were beautiful, but it was easy to just look at them, appreciate them, and quickly move on. Then a small corner room in the back of the exhibit really captured my attention. All of the photos in the room were by a photographer I had never heard of named Matthew Brandt.

I walked over to a series of photos by him titled Rainbow Lake. For these photos, Brandt soaked the prints of the shots he took of a lake in the actual water from the lake. I thought they were fascinating and interesting, but another piece of his was drawing me from across the room.

The first picture of the day that I was completely and utterly enthralled with and completely stopped by, was his photo titled Mathers Department Store, Pasadena, 1971. At first glance, it’s only a photograph of a building falling over. But something about it was magnetizing to me. I immediately typed in the code under the painting and listened to the picture’s story on the Getty app; I now understood I felt that way for a good reason.

Brandt’s voice filled my headphones, telling me how he looks up old photos in the Los Angeles Public Library Archive. When he finds a photo he likes, he takes it. This specific photo happened to be of a department store being torn down in Pasadena, California.

He went to the site in the picture that exists now, and swept up the dust from the ground there. Brandt didn’t go in with his camera or any other tools. Just a small bin to put the dust in.

He brought back the dust to use as pigment over the picture.

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00036082-3 “Mathers Department Store, Pasadena, 1971”; Matthew Brandt, American, born 1982; Pasadena, California, United States, North America; 2013; Gum bichromate print; Image: 110.5 x 143.5 cm (43 1/2 x 56 1/2 in.); 2014.17

Brandt said he did this because he was fascinated with the “conflation of time.” I’ve always been fascinated by time and its mysteries and wonders as well. It was at this moment that I fell in love with the photo even more.

To be completely honest, when I got to the previous paragraph, I realized I still had no idea what I wanted to say in this lesson. I knew I wanted to talk about my trip to the Getty and my fascination with the Matthew Brandt photo, but I had no idea what the actual lesson was. The photograph was riveting and captivating and genius—but what did it teach me?

I originally thought: “Ooh, this could spark thought and discussion about time and the past and the present and how the two join together sometimes.” But it quickly dawned on me that from the very beginning, I knew what this lesson was truly about.

When we are captivated by something; when we are fascinated and floored and curious and in awe—we should chase after those feelings and capture them.

We should explore it, and think about it, and discuss it.

To me, that’s the definition of appreciation: loving something and caring enough to recognize it and acknowledge it.

We won’t always know or understand why we are so drawn to something.

And in a sense, it doesn’t really matter.

But what matters is that we give it the appreciation it deserves,

and then we share it with the world.

It’s like a smile for the soul.

I don’t know about you—but I think we could all use a little more of that.

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Day 357.

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.

Lesson #355: SO MEATY.

7/10/15.

How does one not freak out while meeting Joel McHale?

Answer:

They don’t.

Check the triple chin of excitement

Today was one of the absolute best days ever (there can be like 50 of those, right?) because I saw a live taping of the infamously satiric show—The Soup—and it was so meaty.

My dad used to watch the show religiously. So growing up in my house, it was on every week.

I guess you could say I was pretty excited.

We gathered in the lobby of NBCUniversal, went through a security check and were handed badges, and then escorted through the doors of the studio. The E! News set was completely covered, and the studio-look was replaced by a hanging green screen, black curtains, and rows of chairs on each side of two large cameras.

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A few minutes after we were seated and hyped up by the awesome and hilarious producer, Joel McHale walks onto set: in the flesh and as hot as ever (I think he looks even better with age…….and facial hair).

And who was by his side as tonight’s special guest?

Oh, only JANE LYNCH.

GLEE STAR, GAME SHOW HOST, AND MY IDOL.

As I turned to my friends Wells and Shelby, I had to cover my mouth to keep from screaming any louder than I already was because all of my dreams were coming true and I didn’t want to be carried out on a stretcher—or worse—by security.

Joel was extremely funny and incredibly charming. During commercial breaks, he would talk to the audience, make us laugh, and tell us stories. In between takes, he would run over to a little stool, take a sip of his Starbucks tea, and then run back to the “X” on the floor and tell a joke to the camera like he never left. I’m pretty sure we should either be married or best friends or both.

After the show, Joel invited everyone in the audience to come up, meet him, and take pictures. He told everyone to not be shy and meek and like “hicanitakeapicturewithyou.” His exact words, and I quote, were, “Be bold.” It’s my mom’s birthday today (Happy Birthday, I love you!), so I asked if he could wish her a Happy Birthday. He told me he couldn’t do video, so I asked if I could take a selfie with him instead and put text under it or something, and he was like “Sure?”

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I hope he still wants to marry me.

Even though today was super cool, and Jane Lynch is really awesome, and Joel McHale is the greatest—

we already knew those things.

Or at least, I did.

So what’s the real lesson?

There’s always something going on behind the scenes.

When watching The Soup growing up at home, I laughed at Joel, laughed at the clip he was talking about, laughed at him again, watched a commercial or two, then did it over again until the show was over.

Today—and like the day I shadowed in the control room at my internship—I realized that there’s so much going on that we don’t even see; that we don’t even know about. At home, you don’t see the stage manager handing the wig to Jane to wear in the next sketch. You don’t see Giuliana and Jason talking to each other or laughing or checking Twitter in-between graphics and live takes. You don’t see Joel running to sip his drink or him pacing the floor in between two takes. You don’t see the producers scratch out two or three lines because they’re running short on air time.

There are so many cool intricacies. And I while I could have guessed what happens behind the scenes when the cameras aren’t rolling, how would I have truly ever known?

This goes for everything in life: people, places, stories, things. Just because you think (or assume) you know someone, it doesn’t mean you really do. You never know what’s going on in someone’s life. Sometimes you have no idea what they’ve been through that day, or that month, or that year. You might not always know the story behind a person, or a place, or a thing.

While we may not get to figure out everything that happens behind every scene,

it’s a lesson in itself to just realize that things are happening behind what you can visibly see in front of you—whether those things are good or bad.

So be nice to people, realize that everyone and everything has something going on in one way or another, and that everything has a story.

You never know—it may be worth finding out about.

Right, Joel?

Day 355.