DESIGN YOUR LIFE: anna mitchael of “just don’t call me ma’am”

Flashback! Today we have a good old fashioned DESIGN YOUR LIFE interview with a really cool guest: Anna Mitchael the witty author of Just Don’t Call Me Ma’am: How I Ditched the South, Forgot My Manners, and Managed to Survive My Twenties with (Most of) My Dignity Still Intact. After reading her honest and pretty hilarious story of how she survived her 20’s, I was shocked many times at the correlation between her life and my own- and I’m guessing many of you will see shades of your own experience in her story as well. In fact, if you are interested in winning a copy of her book, hop on over to the Summer (Home) Slim Down Challenge and enter to win.

After reading Anna’s story (you can read more of her work on her site as well), I was thrilled that I had the chance to interview her for the DYL series to find out what her intentions were post 20-something. It seems that she’s found a great outlook on life that I think we all can learn from. Not to mention that her (very) newborn looks adorable.


DESIGN YOUR LIFE: Anna Michael of Just Don’t Call Me Ma’am

Make eye contact.

‘Make eye contact’ sounds like something your mom told you before your first job interview, and there’s a damn good reason for that: Mothers know best. As a rather cynical person, I have a tendency to approach too many situations with my eyes ready to roll. This idea reminds me to be open to new thoughts, people and perspectives—and to keep from immediately rejecting what doesn’t easily fit into my view of the world. I also believe looking a person in the eye is a show of respect. It says ‘I hear you’ and ‘I realize you are worth my time.’ Even if the time is just a few quick seconds paying a few quarters at the toll booth or passing someone in a grocery store, imagine how much better this world would be if we all took the time to truly see and listen to one another, to treat everyone with just a tad more courtesy and care than is required in our everyday worlds.

Stay big picture.

I can’t tell you how many times a day I have to stop, drop and repeat this to myself. I’m chronically frustrated by the mundane. From doing laundry to paying bills—the little things can throw me for a big loop. It’s good for me to slow down and remember that the balance of my life only stays balanced when the small things stay small. And when it comes to one of the biggest things in my life—my writing—I find I can get off track for weeks (if not months) by getting too wrapped up in the nitty-gritty of publishing, focusing on a negative comment on my website or letting a few days of zero creativity throw me into a self-confidence crisis. Staying big picture reminds me that it isn’t about one review on Amazon, or a missed opportunity to write an article for a specific publication—it’s about the big picture of which words you put on the page, who those words reach and the difference you can make through the larger sum of your days and efforts.

Show me the honey.

Obviously money is necessary because (unfortunately) you can’t buy burritos with smiles (trust me, I’ve tried.) But beyond guacamole, living with money too high on the totem pole can get you into dangerous territory. I’d take the sweet truth of love, friendship or kindness any day of the week: Show me the honey, baby.

Fight for what you love.

It isn’t enough to have passion for the things you love. Whether we’re talking about people, places, things, or maybe even a passion for a way of life, if you aren’t willing to stand up for what matters for you and defend that which moves you, then there is the chance that those things could disappear, or even worse, be taken away. If it’s worth loving, it’s worth protecting; if it’s worth having, it’s worth fighting for.

Find your own answers.

Much of my twenties went down to chasing lifestyles, cities and achievements that I thought I was supposed to want. But no matter where I lived, what cool bar I hung out at or how many stiletto heels I tried on, I was never fundamentally happier for the efforts. I thought I could adopt the life choices that worked for other people (choices our culture deemed cool and desirable) and have them work for me, but that was never going to happen. Ultimately, I had to find my own answers. Hell, in some cases I even had to write my own questions in order to create a life that would truly make me happy.

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

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  1. pve

    Ma’am, I mean Anna, now I want to read your book! Just yesterday we had the lovely Mindy come all the way from Oregon to speak to our local Middle school about the importance of good posture, eye contact, the proper handshake and a smile! Lessons like these are so good to learn and to remind one another that we can stand for so much more in this fast life!
    As always I love these interview and adore JessLC.
    happy summer!!!!

  2. Piper

    Loved this interview!! (and I think I need to rush out and get your book – love your writing style :)!! So many things resonated with me – but I really loved how you talked about fighting for what you love. I love that sentiment and it’s so true. And oh boy – the big picture – totally know what you mean!! I get wrapped up in the nitty gritty and can do the same thing, let a negative comment or something small just throw my whole day or week off. Think big picture – love that! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. Angela

    Great interview! I also wanted to tell you that I really appreciate being able to READ it! I’ve noticed that a lot of blogs are doing video (interviews, updates, etc) and I just skip over them. This is great.

  4. Great post. It’s nice to see that these things are all real. And it’s good to be reminded about the big picture and to appreciate the things that are of real value in our lives.

  5. Thanks Jess for introducing us to Anna! I needed to hear that today in regard to the Big Picture! Sometimes I can get so distracted by the little things (call it procrastination) that I miss out on what really is important and needs to be done! As always I leave feeling inspired, thanks!

  6. Loved reading this interview with Anna! It’s nice to be reminded of what’s really important from a relatable person whose experiences, however haphazard, have lead her to become the grounded person she is today. Ps. Have read this book and it is fantastic.

  7. colleen

    ah, anna, you are so wise. I love to read your words my friend. You are one of the people I hope to keep in my life, whether you are near or far. Keep writing so we can keep reading, my sunny gal!

  8. Jennifer Shannon

    I’m reading your book now and I love it! It not only makes me laugh, but it is also very familiar. This interview is brilliant. It seems that you’re onto the next phase in life. Maybe the next book?

  9. rose

    find your own answers… another fantastic interview, that makes me run to grab my journal and write down more inspiring words. thanks anna + jess

  10. Loved reading this interview with Anna! It’s nice to be reminded of what’s really important from a relatable person whose experiences, however haphazard, have lead her to become the grounded person she is today. Ps. Have read this book and it is fantastic.

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