26 year old writer, producer and digital host Mia Brabham started keeping notes on her phone when she was 19. Notes on life, on love, on failure, on starting over, on self care. She saved encouraging words for a rainy day, and recorded lessons learned from moments that were pivotal in her life.
With notes about life, love, dreams and everything in between, Note to Self is a little book full of nuggets of wisdom, and a collection of moments of clarity. These were once written as reminders for Mia and for her future self, but are now available for all who may be on a similar path.
A book for the moments when we need a little nudge forwards. A gentle reminder that someone’s felt this way before, and they’ve gotten through it. For when you need a dash of inspiration, a touch of sympathy, the reassurance that things will work themselves out- eventually. Note to self was published in the middle of the 2020 pandemic, at a time when so many of us were feeling anxious and alone. Here, she talks to me about acting on your ambitions.
On Writing her first Book
I started note to self on my phone in college. It was literally a note on my phone called ‘note to self’ and I never thought I’d show anybody. I never rushed anything, it was just a collection for me. I thought maybe someday I could start a blog or wondered if it would become part of a book. When the pandemic hit, I thought ‘Oh my gosh, how can I help?’. I didn’t have a lot of money to give, and I’d lost a lot of my jobs because of the pandemic, but I wanted a way to give back to the community, so I started researching organisations to donate to.
I felt that by publishing this book, I could turn negative things that have happened to me into something positive- so this shitty thing that happened to me didn’t happen for no reason. I think everyone is a vessel to help someone else, if you are willing to be transparent about your experiences. Everyone has gone through what you’re going through, or at least will have similar experiences.
How did you find The process of self-publishing?
Now that it’s behind me, I can say that it was rewarding and so fun. But it’s definitely a lot of work. You have to put on so many different hats: you become the writer, the publisher, the designer, everything. I studied media, and I like all creative facets, but it was hard work and it definitely took time.
How did writing your wins and losses help you along the way?
It’s just humbling. Life is so humbling. As soon as you get too lofty, it knocks you back down again into the dirt and the soil and then you have to keep rebuilding yourself.
On Being your own Cheerleader
You have to believe in yourself, and you have to believe that if your work has helped you, it can help somebody else. If you don’t use your talents, it’s just such a waste. When I was thinking about publishing my book, I thought ‘I’m like a nobody’; I mean why would a publisher say ‘ wow, this girl’s putting her journal out to the world!’ But I care, and the book was something I wanted to share with others.
Confidence comes with curiosity; I find that people who aren’t confident aren’t doing that thing for the right reasons, like they’re chasing something that comes out of it and not the actual thing itself. I think the core of confidence is not thinking that you’re better than anyone else, or thinking that you’re special. I think confidence comes when you’re not trying to show off, you just honestly want to share something you’re excited about.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to follow their ambitions?
If you aren’t going to do it, who else is going to? I think so many people, especially with social media, get caught up in comparison. They’re just like, ‘ well, shit, I want to be an actor, but there are already so many actors out there. Or ‘ I wanna be a travel blogger, but there’re already so many travel blogs’. But no-one’s going to have your travel blog. You are doing a disservice to the world by not bringing your take. Five people can talk about their experience and their trip to say, Rome, but yours will be a little different, even if you go to the same places. You have your own voice, perspective and take. You have to believe in that.
On Focusing on Your Own journey
We’re on this path in love, in career, in life. And people tell us ‘here’s how you get to this place’. But there’s no rule book, life is literally fraudulent. No one’s living your life, no one’s ever going to be in your shoes. Everybody does things at different ages, at different times. You have to make your own rule book. Trying to follow someone else’s will just make you really sad.
What did you mean when you said stop seeking greatness and start seeking truth?
At some point in the journey, you may start losing track of why you started doing what you do. For me it was the story telling, it was the relating with people, it was the sharing your story with people, inspiring people. For me, seeking truth started when I began pursuing the core of storytelling, rather than the breadth of who it reached; because greatness comes when you pursue truth, not the opposite way around.
On making Future plans
“The darkest times in your life are most certainly an invitation to reinvent yourself.”
Do you remember what made you write this note?
It was during my lowest low when I was living in LA. I was between leases, in between jobs. I didn’t get along with my roommate, I was sleeping on a floor on an air mattress. I was on the verge of splitting with my partner. It was so bad, I was crying everyday.
How do you go about making plans for your future?
I think for making big life decisions, you have to get quiet and be alone. You can get trusted voices and opinions, but in the end you have to sit and think about what you really, really want. To get really practical, I have a planner, I plan every month. I write out my monthly goals, my personal goals, my job goals and I always have a year goal. I write down one thing I want to do or start each year, and I have a word for the year. I think this year it was consistency.
Do you have a word for 2021 yet?
My word for next year is fearless. Hopefully I can just focus on doing what makes me happy.
On prayer and Spirituality
I am a Christian, but I consider myself to be more of a spiritual person than a religious person.
What is prayer to you?
For me it’s more casual. I speak to God about how I can best be of service to the world that He created. I ask how I can reach my full potential here and how I can do what I was put here to do.
I want him to work through me- that’s often my prayer. Prayer to me, can be me reflecting on the beach, and figuring out what the next steps look like
‘Everything in your life has undeniably prepared you for this moment’.
This is one of my favourite notes in the book; I go back to it to remind myself that everything that has happened, happens for a reason. When I’m going through a hard time, I always remind myself of this fact.
Would you ever go back and change anything about your younger self?
I’ve always thought ‘I don’t want to know what’s next’, that’s too scary. I believe you have to live life day by day and be confident that you are making the right decisions; it may not make sense right away, but I believe it will come together.
Want to find the book?