Support the Irish Arts

As I was writing this blog post, the Gilmore Girls episode currently playing on my iPad, season 3 episode 7, referenced Riverdance. That is the best possible sign that today is a great day to support the Irish arts! Former Riverdance dancer Kincaid Stringer & his mother Shannon Kincaid, a painter, have teamed up for a great cause. They’re selling seven of Shannon’s paintings through Indiegogo for a COVID-19 relief fund; all proceeds will support Irish actors, artists, backstage workers & crews, clubs, concerts, cultural & event spaces, dancers, dance schools, festivals, musicians, performers, singers, theaters, & writers. I grew up dancing & singing so the arts are very important to me. Riverdance is the reason I asked my mom to sign me up for dance classes at the age of four so the Irish arts are also very important to me. Let’s not forget my Irish ancestors! 🇮🇪 The arts have done a lot for us in quarantine so it’s only right that we give back. You can choose to only donate money or receive a painting or two or seven in exchange for your donation. If it’s not already obvious, I’m buying “The Dancer.” Can’t wait to have a gorgeous Irish dancing queen above my bed! 👑 Please consider setting aside $25, or more, to support a great cause & get a piece of Ireland for your home. 💚🤍🧡

*NOTE: The Indiegogo campaign ends on September 17th, & the paintings will ship in November. Because of COVID-19, please consider that shipping could be delayed.

➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️   S U P P O R T   T H E   C A M P A I G N   H E R E   ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️

Irish people’s love of dancing has been well documented throughout their written history. In fact, one of the earliest references to dancing details a visit between the Mayor of Waterford and Mayor of Baltimore in 1413. The modern Irish dancing of today is no longer merely a processional combination of singing and dancing as an act of celebrating, but a sport that produces athletes that are physically strong, as well as creative and artistic. What was once a tradition specific to Ireland (as well as England, Scotland, and some parts of America) caught like wildfire in 1994 with the debut of Riverdance. The theatrical show consisting mainly of traditional Irish music and dance took the world by storm and has been a global phenomenon ever since. Now, twenty-five years later, the Irish dancing community consists of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people around the world today. Teachers from around the world have committed themselves to spreading their love and passion for Ireland’s traditional form of expression. Regardless of how far a dancer progresses competitively or professionally, being an Irish dancer is something that is inextricably bound to their identity forevermore. In this piece entitled “The Dancer,” you feel the excitement, the confidence, and the artistry that comes from expressing a centuries-old tradition that has touched the hearts of many.  – Kincaid & Shannon

Ireland and Scotland combined have a rich culture within the performing arts, which has resulted in a thriving gig scene. Musicians are constantly pushing the boundaries in order to create new and fresh work that is often steeped in tradition. Many are staunch believers that musical traditions must be preserved as they always have been – the “play it like my father used to” kind of sentimentality. Yet, every generation brings a new wave of talent that feels that this attitude discourages progress and evolution. This debate between tradition and innovation is a tale as old as time. Still, many feel it is possible to honour your origins while also exploring and adapting to the future; they are not mutually exclusive. Irish music legend, Míchéal Ó Súilleabháinn, believed that traditions are never frozen, but rather are fluid. He believed that the idea of authenticity originating from a pure source located in antiquity was bogus! This painting is for the new wave of artists and musicians who are creating some of the most incredible new-age folk / Trad music in the world. Project Smok, Beoga, Talisk, Ímar and the like are leading the way for the future of Irish music. – Kincaid & Shannon

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”  – George Bernard Shaw

Ériu is the goddess of sovereignty and the mythological mother of Ireland. She is often interpreted as the modern-day personification of Ireland. Along with her two sisters, Banba and Fódhla, Ériu was a part of a triumvirate of goddesses. Before their final defeat, each goddess requested that the island be named for her. This was granted to all of them, but Ériu became the chief name in use. The old Irish name Ériu evolved into Éire in modern Irish and depending on the case is spelled Éireann or Éirinn. This is how we finally arrived with the English name for the country, Erin. The painting has been imbued with symbols to depict all that Ériu embodied within pre-Christian Irish culture. Ériu represents the sacred feminine, as illustrated in the column capitals, or the decorative element at the top of a column, that represent the three phases of a woman’s life cycle – the maid, mother and crone. The stars behind her and the lunala around her neck evoke her role as a lunar goddess. Her hair bleeds into the trees, depicting her connection to the earth and its bounty. She holds this bounty in her hand as a glass of mead, which was served at the feast of Goibhniu, and offered immortality to those that drank it. Around her head is a ring of knot work encasing the land, which is topped by the stone of divisions from the hill of Uisneach, the symbolic and sacred centre of the island in Irish mythology. Ériu’s bones are said to have been laid to rest on this hill and serves as a gateway between the Underworld and the world above. – Kincaid & Shannon

There is much more to an Irish pub than just having a drink. In Ireland, pubs are central to the way of life. Similar to a church, they represent a pillar of Irish social life and community. A place where pints, comfort food, live music, and sport can be always be found; somewhere you can meet friends, neighbors, or even complete strangers, in an inviting atmosphere. It’s for these reasons that recreations of Irish pubs can be found in any city around the world. O’Connor’s was opened as a pub in Galway in 1942 by Thomas O’Connor, and is currently operated by third generation O’Connors. Every inch of it decorated in eclectic memorabilia, the pub has become famous for its hospitality and world-class live music. So much so that Ed Sheeran used it as the location of his music video “Galway Girl” in 2017 featuring actress Saoirse Ronan, furthering the pub’s world-wide recognition. – Kincaid & Shannon

Ireland has a rich tradition of various festivals taking place throughout each year. The Rose of Tralee was first held in 1959 and has since been held every August in Tralee, County Kerry, to select a young woman to be crowned the Rose. Cities all over the world host their own selection balls to determine who will represent them in Ireland. The festival bills itself as a celebration of the “aspirations, ambitions, intellect, social responsibility, and Irish heritage” of modern young women. Bursting with music and dancing, this festival celebrates the very best of Irish culture and the future of Irish relations worldwide. The winner and their family become a part of a global network, showcasing how Irish culture is thriving amongst the Irish Diaspora. They say, “Once a Rose, always a Rose.” – Kincaid & Shannon

A session is a casual gathering of musicians playing traditional Irish music, usually taking place in a pub, but has also been known to take place on street corners or even in someone’s kitchen. Irish “trad” music has garnered a deep appreciation, not just in Ireland, but also around the world. It’s important to note that a session is more than just a casual jam between musicians – the focus is on the instrumental tunes found within the Irish tradition – reels, jigs, hornpipes, polkas, slip jigs, and the like. Whether it be in a pub or someone’s home, sessions are times of brilliant music and ever-flowing drink that have a certain habit of continuing late into the night, if not into the wee hours of the morning! – Kincaid & Shannon

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.

These are just two quotes from one of the biggest literary personalities in Ireland’s history, Oscar Wilde. A literary treasure, Wilde was a hugely popular playwright and poet in the late 1800s. Besides well-known works such as The Picture of Dorian Gray and Lady Windermere’s Fan, his biting wit and flamboyant style gained him notoriety as well. As a people, the Irish are known for their good sense of humour, which has bolstered them during periods of great hardship throughout history. Wilde embodied this intrinsically Irish trait to the very end. Even as he faced death, he was cracking jokes and reportedly said, “This wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. Either it goes or I do.” A collection of art in support of Irish culture would be incomplete without paying homage to Oscar Wilde. – Kincaid & Shannon

➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️   S U P P O R T   T H E   C A M P A I G N   H E R E   ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHAx8IE3PTk&feature=youtu.be

➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️   S U P P O R T   T H E   C A M P A I G N   H E R E   ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️

Reflecting on 25 Years of Life

This isn’t going to be easy for me to write so while I take a few deep breaths, please listen to this song (or at least part of it):

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFeJkfB4xKo

“This is a story that I have never told. I gotta get this off my chest to let it go. I need to take back the light inside you stole.”

A few years ago I choreographed a dance routine to “Warrior” for a talent show. I hadn’t danced in awhile so it wasn’t my best performance ever, but something inside me needed an outlet. After I finished, I had to run to the bathroom because I was shaking so bad & sobbing. I’m not open about things in my past because I don’t think it’s something the public needs to know. However, if you are someone who is still healing, you are not alone. Middle school and high school were hell for me, but college was even worse. I suffered for so long and then turned around and made my precious family suffer because of my anger. I was angry at myself for being weak & at God for abandoning me. I hope my mom doesn’t mind me sharing this, but she has told me that she thought she would lose me in college because I was so close to the edge without caring. There is no sugar coating this: I wanted to die.

Tomorrow I turn 25 years old. The broken little girl in middle school didn’t think she would make it this far. The angry college student didn’t want to make it this far. God brought me this far, and He isn’t done yet.

“I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth—Praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord.”  – Psalm 40:1-3

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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Mad Dash

I need you to sit down & settle in for part two of my blog post from yesterday. About 15 minutes after it was published, my phone rang. Thanks to caller i.d., I knew it was one of the managers from my retail job. Forgetting that my phone was charging, I grabbed it only to have it ripped from my hands. While the ringing continued, I frantically searched my room on hands & knees. I finally found it on my bed (hold your laughter), but the ringing had already been replaced by a voicemail. I will now take you back to about one hour earlier. While eating dinner, my mom implied that I had to work that evening. I replied that she was thinking of my closing shift on Friday. I was 100% sure that I had two days off before my two weekend shifts so I didn’t even bother to check my schedule, which is something I do religiously. Fast forward to my manager’s voicemail. I was 15 minutes late for my closing shift, and she was wondering if I was ok & still coming in to work. In an outright panic, I called the store to let her know I would be there as soon as I could to replace a fellow associate who couldn’t stay much longer. Feeling like a horrible person, I got ready as fast as humanly possible, which is no easy task when you’re shaking like a leaf and clumsy. It would’ve been  much easier if I hadn’t had a ton of coconut oil in my hair. I didn’t want to look like a greasy mess at work so I had to wash my hair, two shampoos required. I put on as little makeup as I was comfortable with and braided my hair, all of which looked as effortless as it actually was. A hoodie, jeans, and boots completed the look, and I was out the door. I received the call around 5:15 and made it to work right before 6. For the first hour my body was shaking uncontrollably, but I eventually settled down. It wasn’t the restful night I had planned, but everything turned out ok in the end. On the bright side, I am free as a bird today. Go ahead & laugh now. I am.

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– Lauren Michele ❤︎

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Injured Reserve

My clumsiness is no secret, but I have outdone myself. If you’re even the least bit squeamish, LEAVE NOW JUST IN CASE!!

1. On Friday September 15th while folding clothes at work, I looked down and realized my arm was scratched and bleeding; I still have no idea when or where it happened.

2. On Saturday September 16th while carrying a heavy sign at work, I stubbed my toe. It hurt momentarily, but I didn’t think anything of it. When I put the sign down, I realized my toe was bleeding… A LOT. Thankfully it wasn’t as bad as it seemed; my toenail was only partially split, and the bruise caused very little discomfort.

3. Fast forward to Thursday September 21st. I was preparing my usual breakfast: coffee & a blueberry bagel with lactose free cream cheese. The cream cheese was brand new so I slid my finger around the container to loosen the lid. What you think happened did happen and required immediate medical attention. Nothing a quick patch up couldn’t fix! I went back to preparing my bagel and found myself uttering these words: “Dang it! I got cream cheese on my band-aid.”

4. I can’t remember the exact date, but I know that sometime that same week I tripped going up the stairs and scraped my leg in two places. I can’t even remember the last time this happened to me so it was bound to happen sooner or later. The bruises are still visible.

One, two, three, FOUR accidents in one week. That is quite possibly a record! The embarrassment is long gone so feel free to laugh at my expense. If you don’t want to laugh at me (I appreciate your loyalty), laugh at this girl. ⬇️

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– Lauren Michele ❤︎

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Night of the Living Moths

Be honest. You love my bug stories. Need I remind you of the june bug saga?! You can’t make this stuff up!!

• Big Bad June Bug Attack of 2015

• Those Summer Nights

This story begins at midnight on August 28th. I was the last person awake in my household and decided that reading a crime novel would be a great stimulant for sweet dreams. I happened to glance up and see something on the wall. I immediately knew it was a bug and what looked like a moth. Even though I know that they’re harmless, they still make me anxious. While deciding how the heck I was going to dispose of him without disturbing my sleeping family, I didn’t dare move or breathe. In a heart-stopping moment, the moth flew to a new spot on the same wall. Simultaneously I dove off the couch and ran down the stairs, making a beeline (get it?!) for the bug spray & fly swatter. Armed with weaponry, I slowly made my way upstairs. The moth had now moved even lower down the wall, low enough for me to see him up close. Even though I was scared out of my mind, I inched closer until I was halfway behind a wall but still about a foot away from my foe. I thought my fear couldn’t possibly get worse, but then I saw it. This was no ordinary moth. It was the Moth From Hell a.k.a. Mothra. I had never seen a moth with a head like this, if it was actually a moth. It had wings like a moth but a big head that appeared to be red, although I cannot defend the accuracy of what I saw since I had been reading a crime novel. The only thing I can compare it to is the round, red nose of a fighter plane; I’m not even joking.  I couldn’t swat him because my brother was sleeping right behind the wall and had to be up early for work. I knew I had to risk it and use the spray even though Mothra could potentially fly into my face. I’m sure it’s not hard for you to believe that it took me several moments to summon up the courage. Thank God he didn’t move!! I finally pulled up my big girl pants and inwardly commanded myself to JUST DO IT. I assumed the proper stance for quick reaction, said a quick but heartfelt prayer, and sprayed Mothra with the vengeance of Godzilla. Of course he moved so I naturally ran and hid. Big mistake!! When I inched back around the wall, he was G-O-N-E. I thought his movement had been downward due to the lethal spray, but I wasn’t quite ready to search just in case he still had enough life left to fly at me. It was now 1am, and I was panicking. Unfortunately my mom saw the lamplight and decided to see who was still up. She was now part of my late night soap opera episode. We spent the next fifteen to twenty minutes searching the entire house for Mothra. We never found his body. Also, my fear became too much for me, and I cried. I don’t mean pitiful tears; I mean my body was shaking and water was leaking out of my eyes like the California drought was at stake. I calmed down a little bit, but nerves still ruined my night. I shut my bedroom door, which I never do, and after a few more hours of reading because I didn’t want to shut my eyes, I tentatively turned off my light. I had a difficult time falling asleep and woke up several times but did eventually get some rest. It still upsets me that Mothra disappeared. I know what I saw was real, but that’s hard to explain when you’re the only one awake and you’ve been reading a crime novel which amps up imagination. If Mothra reveals himself again, dead or alive, I will add an update. Hopefully tonight is uneventful because I am exhausted. 😭

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Lost in Translation

Time for another story from the misadventures of Lauren Michele Stewart! Just kidding. This tale is actually very thought-provoking. *GASP*

Back in my college days Spanish dramas were my escape from reality, Isabel, Los Hombres de Paco, & Un paso adelante being my personal favorites. On top of that, I listened to a lot of Spanish music in an attempt to perfect my ear for the beautiful language of España. Never in a million years did I think that music and TV shows in another language would affect me around English speakers, but it did indeed happen. One day while I was in class, my ears started to interpret English in a different way. At first I thought I was just extremely tired, which is normal for a student, but careful listening proved that I was indeed hearing what sounded like the only other language in my life: Spanish. At one point I silently prayed that the teacher and students wouldn’t talk to me because I couldn’t understand a word they were saying. Even though I was hearing a familiar language, my brain wasn’t distinguishing the words. After a few minutes everything went back to normal, but I never forgot what happened.

The experience gave me a higher level of respect for both polyglots and immigrants learning a foreign language. I wasn’t necessarily scared or overwhelmed, but it was unexpected and left me feeling disoriented. I don’t necessarily have a moral or a mind-blowing message to share with you. I just thought the experience was unique, something I’d never heard of before. I wish my tongue had miraculously become bilingual in that moment and remained so. 😂 As a side note, I highly recommend utilizing television and music as immersion techniques for learning a language. I am by no means fluent, but I understand a decent chunk of Castilian Spanish. I refer to a specific type because that is what my ears are accustomed to; I have a very hard time understanding accents outside of Spain. 🇪🇸

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– Lauren Michele <3

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MacGyver Moment

If you thought my misadventures as a retail employee were over, think again!  Buckle your seat belt and prepare to be amused.  Let the story begin!

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Carrying a large bag of trash and a medium sized cardboard box, Lauren walks down the creepy hallway and opens the door to the alley where the dumpsters are located.  She looks for the brick used to keep the door open and finds nothing.  The door will lock upon closing if she walks away to put the trash in the dumpster.  She frantically looks around for something to keep the door open.  She uses the trash bag as a temporary solution while throwing away the cardboard box.  Resuming the search, she looks in all directions, her gaze eventually landing on her feet.  It is the only way!  She reluctantly removes her Italian-made boot, places it in between the door and door jamb, and moves as quickly as she can to and from the dumpster in one boot and one Hanukkah sock.  She makes it safely out of the alley, and the boot fulfills its task without a scratch.

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I will leave you to appreciate my ingenuity in solitude. 😉

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– Lauren Michele <3

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2016 Wrap-Up | 2017 Reading Challenge

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

I did it!  With 45 minutes to spare on New Year’s Eve, I completed both of my reading challenges for 2016.  Here is what I read for the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge:

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

📚 Published This Year •

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco 

📚 Finish in a Day •

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum 

📚 Meaning to Read •

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn 

📚 Recommended by Bookseller or Librarian •

The Series of Unfortunate Events series by Lemony Snicket 

📚 Should Have Read in School •

Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace 

📚 Chosen by Spouse, Partner, Sibling, Child, or BFF •

Harvest of Rubies by Tessa Afshar 

📚 Published Before You Were Born •

The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

 

📚 Banned at Some Point •

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll 

📚 Previously Abandoned •

Elixir trilogy by Hilary Duff 

📚 Own But Never Read •

An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson 

📚 Intimidates You •

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 

📚 Already Read at Least Once •

Sisters of the Quilt trilogy by Cindy Woodsmall 

• Total: 12 categories & 31 books

• Here are links to my blog updates & my Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge:

2016 Reading Challenge

– 2016 Reading Challenge Update #1

– 2016 Reading Challenge Update #2

Life Update | November 2016

– My 2016 GoodReads Reading Challenge

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I told myself I wouldn’t do it, but here I am.  I’ve decided to once again do the Modern Mrs. Darcy reading challenge.  Keep reading to find out my tentative list for the twelve categories.

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📚 A Book You Chose For the Cover – The Messenger of Athens by Anne Zouroudi

I found this gem in my local library’s teeny tiny used bookstore.  The bright yellow bird against a blue background hooked me, and the murder mystery synopsis reeled me in.  I’m trying my best not to build expectations, but I really hope this book is as good as I want it to be.

📚 A Book With a Reputation for Being Un-Put-Down-AbleSix of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews about this book.  Some people have said it’s one of their favorite books/duologies ever written.  Of course I’m going to start with the first book, but I am optimistic that I will be purchasing book two very soon.

📚 A Book Set Somewhere You’ve Never Been But Would Like to Visit – The Curse of the Pharaohs by Elizabeth Peters

Fun fact: I am dying to visit Egypt!!  Egyptology is one of my favorite subjects to learn about.

📚 A Book You’ve Already ReadThe Rook by Steven James

The Patrick Bowers Files series is AMAZING.  To be fair, I’ve only read the first two books, but how could it possibly go downhill from there??  I would actually like to read a few of the books in this series in 2017, but I’m setting the bar low so I don’t get too stressed.  I want these reading challenges to remain fun!

📚 A Juicy Memoir –  In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox by Carol Burnett

DUH!  Who wouldn’t want to read behind-the-scenes stories about The Carol Burnett Show?!

📚 A Book About Books or Reading – Bookplate Special by Lorna Barrett

This book is part of one of my favorite cozy mystery series.  It has been on my shelf for a few years, and it’s about time I got around to reading it.  Fun Fact: The main character’s cat is named Miss Marple.  How cute is that?!

📚 A Book in a Genre You Usually Avoid – The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

I rarely read and enjoy contemporary books outside of the mystery genre, but I’m willing to give this book a chance since it revolves around books.

📚 A Book You Don’t Want to Admit You’re Dying to ReadHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

I’m not embarrassed about this book.  It’s just weird to admit that I’ve never read such a beloved series.  My aunt was kind enough to give me the first book for my birthday so I will definitely be reading it this year.

📚 A Book in the Backlist of a New Favorite Author – Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar

I received all of the books Tessa Afshar has published thus far as Christmas and Hanukkah gifts.  I don’t want to set myself up for failure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I finish all of them before January 1, 2018.

📚 A Book Recommended by Someone With Great TasteAs Sure as the Dawn by Francine Rivers

My friend Gabby recommended the Mark of the Lion series years ago, and I finally got around to reading books one and two in 2015.  The experience was so unbelievably mind blowing that I had to take a break.  There is no longer a good excuse so I need to pick up book three NOW.

📚 A Book You Were Excited to Borrow or Buy But Haven’t Read YetThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I am on pins and needles waiting to read this book.  I’m going to watch the movie with my brother first since that’s what I did with Gone Girl.  I realize that sounds like reader sacrilege, but I’m not your average bibliophile.  Watching the movie first or liking it better doesn’t bother me. ;)

📚 A Book About a Subject or Topic You Already LoveWicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

I haven’t actually seen the musical yet, but I am obsessed with the story and soundtrack.  I liked The Wizard of Oz growing up but fell out of love with it for a period of time.  Listening to the Wicked soundtrack every day has made me fall back in love with Oz, and I am ready to read the story that started it all.  I am on page 32 and loving it so far. 💚

• Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge 

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• Modern Mrs. Darcy Blog

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– Lauren Michele <3

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No Laughing Matter

Palley, Stuart. The Border Fire burns near Campo and Potrero Wednesday in San Diego County, California. Web. 31 Aug. 2016. http://www.outsideonline.com/2109026/man-behind-summers-most-iconic-fire-photos#slide-5.

Palley, Stuart. The Border Fire burns near Campo and Potrero Wednesday in San Diego County, California. Web. 31 Aug. 2016. http://www.outsideonline.com/2109026/man-behind-summers-most-iconic-fire-photos#slide-5.

I consider myself a person with a good sense of humor.  I try my best to decipher the appropriate times to let go and laugh.  This is not one of those times.  Recently, I noticed some jokes on social media centered around the California drought.  I not only find this in bad taste but extremely offensive.  I am a California girl born and raised so I am naturally protective, but I have other reasons.  The drought is much more than a shortage of water.  Thanks to the lack of rain and scorching temperatures, the Golden State is kindling ready to ignite.  Hearing about or driving by a fire is a daily occurrence.  A few weeks ago, the shopping center where I work was more crowded than usual because people were waiting for the smoke from a nearby fire to clear from the air.  Of course some fires are started by people, but the dry conditions invite the flames to spread with open arms.  Farmers are scrambling to protect their livelihood.  Families have lost their homes.  People have lost their lives.  Is that funny??  NO!!  Yes, there are selfish people who have not taken the drought seriously, but that is not an excuse.  It doesn’t matter what your personal feelings are regarding this state.  Next time you want to poke fun at the California drought, remember the people whose lives are being negatively affected.  Let this be a lesson to us all: educate yourself before opening your mouth.

If you need more proof of the devastation, here are links to eye-opening images:

• http://mashable.com/2015/09/14/valley-fire-devastation-photos/#HLDqTGuiASqh

• http://www.outsideonline.com/2109026/man-behind-summers-most-iconic-fire-photos

• http://stuartpalley.photoshelter.com/index/G0000ZMVoBzIEtqs/I0000BH7TwqpPOO0

 

 

Farewell Rio

🏀 🏇 🏉 🚣 ⛳ 🏊 🎾 🚴 ⚽ 🏀 🏇 🏉 🚣 ⛳ 🏊 🎾 🚴 ⚽ 🏀 🏇 🏉 🚣 ⛳ 🏊

With sadness, I bid farewell to the 2016 Olympics.  I have been filled with pride and joy watching my teams compete these past two weeks.  Yes, I said teams.  Of course USA is my number one, but I also support the countries that make up my heritage.  After all, they are underdogs compared to team USA.  No harm done!  Let’s take a look at the medal count:

🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆🏆 🏆🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆

• Team USA 🇺🇸 | 121 Medals | 46 G – 37 S – 38 B

• Team Great Britain 🇬🇧 | 67 Medals | 27 G – 23 S – 17 B

• Team Spain 🇪🇸 | 17 Medals | 7 G – 4 S – 6 B

• Team Israel 🇮🇱 | 2 Medals | 2 B

• Team Ireland 🇮🇪 | 2 Medals | 2 S

🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆🏆 🏆🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆

What were your favorite moments in Rio?? I have so many I could mention, but I will try to narrow it down.  I felt like a proud mother watching Michael Phelps have one last successful Olympic games after the rough few years he’s had (maybe he’ll be back!).  The USA women’s gymnastics team kicked butt and made me feel more patriotic than I have ever felt in my entire life.  Shout-out to Michael Phelps (5G, 1S), Katie Ledecky (4G, 1S), and Simone Biles (4G, 1B)!!  According to Google, they are the top medalists for 2016.  Team USA made me proud all around, but it felt good to dominate artistic gymnastics and swimming.  After a rough start, I am so proud of Spain for getting the bronze in men’s basketball.  Also, a silver in women’s basketball.  Top 3 in the world.  Not too shabby!!  I watched Marc Lopez & Rafael Nadal win gold in men’s doubles.  I’m pretty sure I grew gray hair during that match.  The stress was real, but Lopez earned his first medal, and Rafa now has a gold medal in singles and doubles.  I watched Team GB get the gold in women’s field hockey.  It was a stressful but thrilling game.  Well done ladies!  I did not have the pleasure of watching Ireland at all, but I am nonetheless proud.  Last but certainly not least, I want to express my admiration for Team Israel.  My heart breaks knowing that the Israeli athletes continue to be treated like trash.  However, they held their heads high, maintained composure, and walked away with two medals.

Farewell Olympics!  See you in Tokyo!! 🇯🇵

🏀 🏇 🏉 🚣 ⛳ 🏊 🎾 🚴 ⚽ 🏀 🏇 🏉 🚣 ⛳ 🏊 🎾 🚴 ⚽ 🏀 🏇 🏉 🚣 ⛳ 🏊

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– Lauren Michele <3

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