Tag Archives: 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 ;)

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“What is rest? A question from the girl with mono.” A guest lesson by Nikki Gregg.

I am one to work hard all the time, without stopping. A lot of us do. During the semester, my days were no shorter than thirteen hours. This summer my hours are just as long.

I work hard. I work hard all the time. I push myself to the limit and then crash when the semester ends or the midterms are over, but something happened this week that threw me a curveball. I was diagnosed with mono yesterday, which is forcing me to take time to slow down and truly rest.

I found out my sore throat, aching body, extreme exhaustion, and little appetite for the last week was more than the common cold, but a serious virus that will take me weeks or months to get over. While I was working at my internship and serving tables at a restaurant in the city, it wasn’t until a week after feeling terrible before making time to see a doctor.…who told me exactly how sick I am.

She told me I needed to rest, but seriously…what is rest? I have been so caught up in hard work so that I can be successful. I have to get this grade on this test. I need to get this job, this internship. If I don’t do this or this I won’t get into graduate school. The list goes on and on, and as time goes on… the days of rest, nights of relaxation, and my time to do things that give me joy have all become restricted from the limitation of time.

Well, now I have all the time in the world to figure out what rest looks like, feels like again. In our culture most of us don’t know what it means to fully rest. We go on little hours of sleep, and push ourselves so hard that we run ourselves down, and ignore what our bodies are telling us. We ignore needs like food, to make meetings and study for tests. I know someone who didn’t make enough time to shower during midterms of her freshman year. I remember one midterm week that I was so hysterical from sleep deprivation I was walking in circles around campus.

This is not normal. We need sleep. Food. Good Hygiene.

So while you may not have mono but if you feel run-down, exhausted, overwhelmed…join me in taking some time to rest for yourself. Your mind. Your body. Your overall health.

To be better, to be there for other people… we must take care of ourselves first.

-Lesson by Nikki Gregg-

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“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.

“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 #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.

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.

Lesson #345: And they worked happily ever after.

6/30/15.

Can you forgive me for a momentary lack of loyalty?

For a second today, I abandoned my number one rule:

Never stop learning.

As you know, Tuesdays mean we have a guest speaker in class.

But I’m only human, and I made a mistake.

I momentarily caught myself thinking that I had nothing new to learn—mostly because I was missing being an extra in a movie to be in class—but nonetheless, I’m still embarrassed the thought even crossed my mind. How could I basically betray the whole purpose of my blog?

I’d like to think it wasn’t with pretentious way; thoughts like this aren’t a regular occurrence for me. But after three or four guest speakers combined with my circumstance, I started thinking: What does it even matter? Won’t their advice all be the same? To make connections? Work hard? To do our best?

Today, Amy Baer came to my rescue, and seriously proved me wrong. She completely flipped the table, and gave some of the most incredible advice I’ve ever received in my life. It was an absolute honor.

Amy Baer is a former studio executive (AKA the previous CEO of CBS Films and Executive Vice President of Sony Pictures…wowza) turned independent producer and founder of her own content company, Gidden Media. Baer and her Gidden colleagues, Chris Ceccoti (JMU Alumni…whoop whoop) and Jes Bikert, were kind enough to share a little bit of their stories and give us some insight into the professional world.

Amy started with my favorite thing to hear from people:

her story.

When Baer started her career, she was working at a desk. She began thinking rather quickly: ”How do I break out of this mold?” She was terrified that she would get comfortable; that she would become a career secretary. Working at a popular company, she realized that nothing about it was appealing other than the outside perspective; that the company was “cool” and “big.”

She said one day it hit her: “I’m not exactly sure what I want, but I know it’s not this.”

I think this is all something we can relate to—or will at some point in our lives—whether it’s a job, internship, relationship, or something of the sort. Here’s some freaking great advice from Amy Baer on how she handled it, and what she’s learned over the course of her career.

Before your happily ever after

One of the very first things Amy told us, is to tune in internally and really get clear on what we want to be doing.

“You have to be clear internally, because this is a noisy business.”

We know in our gut what kind of things we enjoy doing naturally; it’s instinctive. It’s pretty simple: you know what you like and what you don’t—whether you know exactly what you want to do with your life, or not. Don’t focus on the job title you want, or the position you crave. Focus on what you love to do.

Sounds easy, right?

But with your first few jobs, that might get put to the test.

You might have to try a few places or positions to figure out where your heart lies.

So onto the next chapter of life.

During your happily ever after

So you finally get your ‘happily ever after’ job.

Or at least—you think you do.

But the story isn’t over here.

The truth is, what we usually think is our end destination, is only the beginning.

The show goes on—and there might be a few plot twists along the way.

Here’s five things you may want to know.

1. Part of remaining happy in what you do involves holding near and dear what’s valuable to you. It’s unavoidable: at some point in your career, you will have to choose between what you value, and your job. At one point in her life, Amy got offered a great job opportunity with DreamWorks, but she had to watch another person get it because she didn’t want to move her kids in school. You will have to choose. And because of this, you won’t get every job. But you will ultimately get to keep and have what you love and value. As for Amy, she didn’t get that specific job. But in the end, she got the job. (I mean…she’s running her own company!)

2. Discover and create a safe space with a great group of people where ideas can be kicked around without judgment. The people in this environment should be encouraging, but everyone should constantly be pushing and challenging one another also. Jes loved a script they received about rice. It was a strange concept, but he went for it anyways. He told Amy to read it, and she ended up loving it too—all because she was open to it.

3. If you’re afraid, this business is not for you. Amy told us that we’re constantly going to be told our idea “won’t work.” She has received feedback on pitches multiple times: ”No one is going to buy this.” She told us, “Well that’s their opinion. Next phone call.” And even we you do get it—everybody falls flat on their face at some point. “Everybody. Everybody. Everybody,” she said. “And it’s not ‘if’. It’s ‘when.'” One or two or five projects are bound to be a bust. But there are one or two or five that won’t be.

4. If you’re looking for security, this business is also not for you. Things are changing, constantly. Nothing is promised. But the good news? There’s endless possibility. Especially in this day and age.

5. Beware of boredom. And most importantly, when you do get bored with what you’re doing, leave. Fear boredom like the plague. Don’t listen to the paycheck, or the voices that say, “This is what I should be doing next.” Hating or becoming disinterested in what you do everyday—and staying—is death on earth. You should love what you do, because it’s what you’re spending your life doing.

When you do come to that fork in the road, feeling unhappy or unsure about what you’re doing, really sit down and ask yourself this:

“Why am I doing this?”

Baer had to ask herself this when she found herself unhappy at one of her jobs. She remembered thinking, again,

“This is not what I want to be doing.”

She recalled her earliest memories of being happy. “When I was younger, I fell in love with the way I felt when I watched movies. I thought, ‘What does this job have to do with creative content?’ It didn’t. So I quit.”

When it came time for questions, I asked: “How do you know it’s definitely time to leave, or if you should stay a little bit longer to get the most of the experience?” Chris answered: “Ask yourself: ‘Am I still learning things? Am I growing?’ If not, it’s probably time to go.”

As we were about to move onto to the next question, Amy came back to me and told me something I’ll never forget—or at least something I never want to.

She told us to always ask ourselves:

Am I serving where my passion is?”

And I think that pretty much sums up the entirety of the talk.

Go where you are able to serve your passion by doing what you love.

Go work happily ever after.

But like any old tale, we have to question it’s authenticity.

Is ‘happily ever after’ a real thing?

Maybe we’ll work happily ever after, and that will be the end of it.

But maybe we’ll spend our whole lives searching for what we love to do, finally finding it, and then searching and finding it all over again.

Like Brenna expressed in her guest post a few days ago, many fear being average.

But what I fear?

Finding something above average that I love doing, but never being satisfied with it somehow; always wanting more.

That idea is actually terrifying to me. But in a way—it’s inspiring. It’s fantastic. It’s whimsical. It’s magical.

A world of opportunity is a scary thing.

But it only means more opportunity for us to keep falling in love with different aspects and subsets and branches of what we love to do. It means we have the opportunity to constantly create different things, think in new ways, and continually change and impact our corner of the world. We just can’t fear the change.

So how does it end?

Well.

It looks like we’ll work happily ever after—

—until our next fairytale carries us away.

Day 345.