Misadventures in Babysitting

I recently reread the first three books of The Baby-Sitters Club series, and the nostalgia was overwhelming. I remember being inspired back in the day to make my own “kid kit” and be the best babysitter EVER. I’ve been blessed to care for children of all ages, and I like to think that I made some kind of positive impact on their lives. This is starting to sound heartwarming so let me put on the brakes because this is not about the good times. Be honest; you’re here to laugh at my expense. 😂 This is a more accurate description of what you’re about to read:

Just to be clear, I am a responsible babysitter, and nothing dangerous has ever happened in my care. The tales I’m about to reveal weren’t directly my fault, just a handful of humorous and unfortunate events.

– Board Game Gone Wrong –

The brother & sister I was babysitting suggested we play chutes and ladders, and I eagerly agreed because I thought it would be fun to relive my childhood. I have to be honest and tell you that I got beat fair and square. I didn’t come in first place nor did I come in second; I was dead last. This particular board game is meant for kids, and even though I had no intention of beating my young companions, I didn’t think I would be so terrible. We hadn’t been playing long before the sister turned to me and said with a straight face: “You’re really bad at this game.” There is nothing quite as humiliating as an insult from someone who is less than half your age. I haven’t played that game since.

– Late Night TV –

This particular situation was mostly my fault, but have no fear because it had nothing to do with my young charges. For an extended period of time, I had a steady babysitting job with a family who lived in my neighborhood. One night while sitting at their house, I decided to watch some television after the kids were sound asleep; of course I had the parents’ permission. It was late at night, and there was a thunderstorm brewing. Of all the things I could have watched, I settled on a crime show. That was my first mistake. I eventually decided TV was a bad idea, and picked up the book I brought with me which just so happened to be a mystery. That was my second mistake. My third and final mistake was leaving only one lamp on. I’m not sure why, but I never turned on the room light to make myself feel safer. It was a tense few hours. I didn’t know nighttime could be so noisy! I can’t even tell you how many times I checked the doors and windows to make sure they were locked ( once I built up the courage to do so ). When the parents arrived through the garage, I naturally thought they were murderers until they stepped into the house and greeted me by name. That was the last time I ever watched a crime show or read a mystery while babysitting.

– I Cry Fowl –

I will ease you into the fourth and final story with the typical babysitting story of a bird in the garage. It happened while I was outside with the “chutes and ladders siblings” for some fresh air and playing time. While taking a brief break from the sun, a curious bird joined us. He was harmless, but I couldn’t help panicking. The brother’s personality was unpredictable, and I pictured him opening the door and accidentally letting our new winged friend inside the house. Of course I had to cage (get it?!) my fear so the kids wouldn’t panic and do what I just described. I spoke softly and encouraged them to stay still so the bird wouldn’t feel threatened. He explored a little more and flew away, never to bother us again. Crisis avoided! I swear the animal kingdom is out to get me.

– Dino and the Popsicles –

I realize that the title sounds like a cool band name, but the following events are anything but cool. Literally! I was once again babysitting my neighbors, but this time it was during the day. The parents provided popsicles and told me the kids could play outside. Simple enough, right? WRONG!! When the time came, the siblings grabbed their cold, refreshing popsicles, and we ventured outdoors into the unbearable heat & humidity. After some quality playing time with their dog Dino, the sister informed me that she had to use the restroom. I thought nothing of it until she went to turn the doorknob, and nothing happened. I thought the door was stuck because that is normal in Texas, and I gave it a try. Nothing happened, and my heart started to sink into my stomach. I took some deep breaths and reminded myself that I had to stay calm because I was in charge of two kids and one dog. I made my way to the front of the house to try the garage door; I brought along the sister because she was old enough to stay calm and help me with the code to open the door from the outside. I managed to get the garage door open, but the door to the house was locked, and we had no luck finding the spare key. Trust me, I searched high and low. I had told the brother stay in the backyard with the dog; thankfully the garage wasn’t far from the gate so the sister and I pulled double duty keeping a close eye on them. Unfortunately that didn’t work. The little boy gave in to his curiosity and opened the gate before we could reach him. That wasn’t my main concern. Remember who he was with!! I spent the next 10-15 minutes running up and down the street yelling “DINO!!” No, this is not an unaired episode of The Flintstones. I desperately tried to shepherd him into the gate held open by the sister while simultaneously keeping my eye on the brother because, as you already know, he was very unpredictable (typical at his age). He tried to help by joining in with his small but mighty voice, but really it was just more noise and extra stress. Finally I got that darn dog into the backyard and locked all of us in. I had a mischievous dog and two sweaty, sticky kids in my care, and I felt helpless. I hated to pull them away from something important, but I had to inform the parents of our predicament since I had tried every other way to get back inside. Thankfully I had my phone on me so I called and left a calm, collected message. I spent the next hour or so keeping the kids distracted on the trampoline until their parents came to our rescue. I profusely apologized and fully expected to never work for them again. The parents shocked me by apologizing about their faulty lock, which they forgot to tell me about before leaving, and applauded my ability to stay calm in a stressful situation. I did indeed work for them again, and thankfully the preceding story was the worst experience I ever had, both with them and with babysitting period. It was a tough experience to go through, but I learned a lot.

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Out With the New, In With the Old | Throwback Thursday

What does that title even mean??  Patience young padawans.  Let’s look at some of the facts:

🕸️ A certain witchy drama is getting a reboot; yes, I’m talking about Charmed.

🐘 A continuation of the 1995 film Jumanji premieres at the end of 2017.

🌟 All is well with the Force because new Star Wars movies are being produced & released.

💰 DuckTales is coming back to television!  The reboot will premiere on Disney XD this year on a to-be-announced date.

👠 Fashionistas could step back in time & fit right in because many of the current trends were pulled from previous decades.

🎤 Gwen Stefani and JoJo released albums last year, a first for both since 2006.

⌚ If names like Andy Griffith, Buffy, The Cheetah Girls, and The Parent Trap ring any bells, you might want to make space in your schedule for binging sessions because Netflix has what you need.  Two seasons of Fuller House, a Full House sequel show, are also available.

📺 TeenNick airs retro Nickelodeon shows overnight, a programming block known as The Splat.

✨ The classic animated Disney movies are one by one being made into live action films. So far so good!

👾 The demand and availability for retro merchandise is widespread and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.

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That is just the tip of the iceberg, but you get the picture.  Not a day goes by that I don’t hear about nostalgia.  I’m not sure of the main cause.  It could be adults missing the carefree days of childhood; you don’t truly appreciate what you have until it’s gone.  It could also be consumer attitudes turning against the present-day options in media and merchandise.  Personally, I think it’s a bit of both.  To clarify, no fault lies with the evolution of technology & entertainment.  There’s something endearing about what we grew up with.  Those memories are ingrained in our minds and hold a special place in our hearts.  Enjoying something from the past is what I imagine time travel to feel like, a transportation of mind, body, & soul; bliss takes over the senses along with admiration for a way of life without the advances of the present.  Here is an example.  Most of us can’t live without a cellphone in our hands, but I think we subconsciously miss a time when they were nonexistent.  Each household had one stationary telephone, and phone calls were special.  There are problems as far back as history goes, but this topic is less about politics & society and more about the ideology of “simpler times.”  When circumstances become overwhelming, we revert back to when life was, in the mind of a child, simple.

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Back to the Days of Yesteryear

If you know me well, you know that my life is fueled by nostalgia.  Not a day goes by without me thinking about something childhood-related.  For awhile I felt like a freak who just couldn’t handle the stress of “adulting.”  Turns out I’m not alone.  More and more people born in the 90s are speaking up and reminiscing about the “good old days.”  In college, blankets and backpacks adorned by beloved characters such as Strawberry Shortcake and Spongebob Squarepants were a normal sight.  I’ve recently noticed several Youtube videos revolving around childhood.  Remakes of classic TV shows and movies are being produced by the dozens.  There is unrest in the 2010s!!  I can think of two major reasons why this is happening.

1.  It’s normal to reach an age where childhood is a distant memory, and adulthood is a scary place.  The feeling is similar to that of a skydiver’s parachute unexpectedly disappearing.  Suddenly the innocence and freedom of the grade school years sounds like an upgrade.

2.  People are truly unhappy with the quality of entertainment (toys, music, movies, shows, etc) being produced this decade.  The 90s and 2000s are a golden age of sorts.  Think about it.  “Full House” has a successful spinoff, and “Hey Arnold” reruns air every weeknight on The Splat.  If demand is any indication, the surge of nostalgia isn’t stopping anytime soon.

No matter the reason, we are winning the battle.  Millennials unite!!  Here’s a look at my childhood:

• Baby Years (1993 – 1998)

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• Middle Years (1999 – 2003)

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*Note: I also watched a lot of old shows such as “Looney Tunes”, “The Flintstones”, I Love Lucy”, The Andy Griffith Show”, and “The Brady Bunch.”  My dad and I watched western movies on the weekends.  Lots of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. :)

Teen Years (2004 – 2011)

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*Note: My later teen years were spent obsessing over crime shows such as “CSI”, “CSI: NY” and “The Mentalist.”  I also watched reruns of old shows such as “The Nanny”, “Friends”, “Saved by the Bell”, and “Full House.”

• This is only a small part of my childhood.  For more nostalgia, click the following link & visit my “Childhood” board on Pinterest:

Source: https://www.pinterest.com/lagirl93/childhood/

• I also have a “Throwback” playlist on Spotify:

Source: https://open.spotify.com/user/lagirl93/playlist/4iPObw0WtuVbw3v4zIvI4S

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– Image Sources in Order of Appearance –

http://www.eonline.com/photos/10678/the-most-awesome-things-from-the-90s/339845

• http://www.amazon.com/Berenstain-Bears-Forget-Their-Manners-ebook/dp/B00472OBSE/ref=pd_sim_351_4?ie=UTF8&dpID=615x3gtjaNL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_OU01_AC_UL320_SR320%2C320_&refRID=1R8T38FD5SMD9WG6MKE7

• http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/User_blog:Ratigan6688/Top_10_Best_Little_Kids’_Shows

• http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/TaleSpin

• http://dreamworks.wikia.com/wiki/VeggieTales

• http://www.americangirlmuseum.org/beforever/

• http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20140618006549/en/Can’t-Can’t-Meet-Entrepreneur-Barbie®

• http://theodysseyonline.com/uvm/90s-fashion-that-should-make-comeback/376214

• https://play.wimpmusic.com/album/1412843

• http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/Kim_Possible

• http://fortyfoursunsets44.blogspot.com/2012/08/back-to-school-with-lisa-frank.html

• http://www.playbuzz.com/emilyg11/do-you-actually-remember-lizzie-mcguire

• http://www.hulu.com/the-saddle-club

• http://www.m-magazine.com/posts/10-crazy-facts-you-never-knew-about-the-cheetah-girls-40916/photos/flashback-friday-tk-crazy-facts-about-the-cheetah-girls-48579#photo-anchor

• http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/hannah-montana/images/15486507/title/hannah-montana-season-1-wallpaper-21-wallpaper

• http://www.amazon.com/High-School-Musical-1-3-Efron/dp/B001Q3KQ68

• http://tigerbeat.com/2009/08/check-out-this-hot-jonas-poster-only-in-october-tiger-beat/

• http://kellyclarkson.wikia.com/wiki/Breakaway_(Album)

http://olsensanonymous.blogspot.com/2013/04/mka-2004.html

• http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Clock-Nancy-Drew-Book/dp/0448095017/ref=pd_bxgy_14_img_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=1RMEE3QJGKS50VGPE8SR

• http://www.maximumpop.co.uk/suite-life-of-zack-and-cody-throwback/

• http://winxclubworld.wikia.com/wiki/File:Season.jpg

• http://nickelodeon.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_Zoey_101_characters

January 2016 Favorites

Hello readers!  Today I’m going to be sharing my favorite event & products from January 2016.  Feel free to leave comments down below. :)

– Riverdance –

Being the totally awesome parent that he is, my dad bought tickets to a 20th anniversary performance of Riverdance.  The seats were one row back from the stage!!  Unfortunately he got sick, but my mom sacrificed and took his place. ;)  It was my fifth time seeing the show, and I still got emotional.  It was absolutely incredible sitting so close and seeing the emotion and camaraderie between the dancers.

– Seared Ahi Spinach Salad –

After the performance, my mother and I had a lovely dinner at Claim Jumper.  Having said that, NEVER eat dinner at a mall on a Saturday.  The restaurant was across the street from the theater, and by the time we ate, the show had been over for three hours.  However, the salad I had was amazing and worth the wait.  Here is a list of ingredients for those of you who desire such details: ahi tuna, crunchy noodles, red onions, tomatoes, mandarin oranges, dried cranberries, feta cheese, glazed pecans, sesame seeds, and balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

Everybody in my church subconsciously decided to make tamales and give them to my family at the same time.  I dove in headfirst and never looked back.  I want to clarify that my newfound appreciation is directed towards one specific variation: tamales with olives.  My Mediterranean blood compels me to love olives, and I do.  Tamales with olives are muy delicioso!

– Plantain Chips –

Plantain chips are the bee’s knees, and I want the world to know it.  They are crunchy like dried banana but savory like chips.  I recommend the lightly salted Pampa plantain chips because I strongly dislike heavily salted foods.

– Winterberry Wonder Lotion –

This delightfully scented concoction was a Christmas gift, and it has been my go-to lotion ever since.  The keynotes are red winterberry, ruby apple, sparkling cranberry, snowkissed camellia, and crystal vanilla.  It smells mostly floral with hints of berry and apple.  Call me crazy but I almost always smell a hint of watermelon in Bath & Body Works lotions, this product included.

– English Lavender Linen Spray –

I struggle with insomnia, and one of the commonly known remedies is lavender.  I researched and found several different products but ultimately decided to give the spray a try.  Even though this spray from Bed, Bath, & Beyond isn’t made specifically for insomnia, it works.  The scent is distinctly lavender and very fresh.  I spray it all over my pillow and bed right before going to sleep.  Sometimes I read a book post-spray, another helpful trick for treating insomnia.

– Fragrant Jewels Candles –

I bought these candles to review the company for my Youtube channel.  Even though the draw of this company was the rings hidden inside the products, I ended up loving the candles.  The Frosted Gingerbread candle is spicy, and the Winter candle is woodsy.  They can burn for up to four hours at a time, and the scent is detectable within a few minutes.  For more information, watch my video:

– Soda Scribe Womens Booties –

I wore these boots to work on New Year’s Day and received so many compliments.  They are comfortable and look great with or without socks/tights.

– Adult Coloring Book & Colored Pencils –

 

I’ve been wanting an adult coloring book for a long time and used a recent family trip to Barnes & Noble as my chance to get one.  It was a little embarrassing paying for a coloring book and colored pencils, but I got over my pride and did it.  I can already tell this book will last me a lifetime because I haven’t even finished half a picture yet.  Coloring is relaxing and a great creative outlet, and I highly recommend you give it a try. :D

– “Sisters of the Quilt” by Cindy Woodsmall –

I’ve already discussed this series on this blog so all I will say is this series is fantastic and impossible to put down.

“I live in a home full of strict rules, even for an Old Order Amish family. My Daed doesn’t believe in allowing our tradition of a rumschpringe. At its best, the running around years is meant as a time of extra freedoms that gives singles an opportunity to find a spouse. But sometimes young people take advantage of it, so my Daed all but forbids.  Still, I have found love, and even though Paul isn’t Amish, I know that if I spent a lifetime looking, I’d never find a better man. He’s gentle and kind, and his sense of humor is every bit as strong as his sense of responsibility.  But if my Daed knew of our friendship, he’d put an end to it, and I’d be grounded from stepping off the farm for even a stroll for months, maybe a year.  Paul leaves Owl’s Perch each fall, and even though he writes me letters and sends them to his grandmother’s house, he’s never hinted at how he feels beyond friendship.  Despite my Daed, despite that I’m only seventeen, despite that Paul goes away to a sea of girls each year, I choose to believe that he cares for me like I do him, and that love will find a way for us.”

– “Child Genius” –

Does anyone else love this TV show?  I have been watching it since the first season, and the kids never cease to amaze me with their knowledge.  The premise is children with high IQs competing for the title of “Child Genius.”  Every episode features two rounds, each focused on a different subject such as math, history, or logic.  For more information, follow this link: http://www.mylifetime.com/shows/child-genius

– “The Bletchley Circle” –

I am in love with this miniseries!  Netflix recommended it to me.  The show follows a group of codebreakers post-WWII.  Once the war ended they were required to move on with their lives without telling anyone what they had done.  They find themselves brought back together by circumstance in order to solve a crime; this occurs three times.  For more information, follow this link: http://www.pbs.org/program/bletchley-circle/

– “Dance Academy” –

I have watched this show at least three times all the way through.  It is definitely one of my favorite TV shows of ALL time.  WOW!  That’s a bold statement.  I relate to this show on a deep emotional level because of my dance background.  I understand the family-like bonds that develop and the struggles that come with being an aspiring professional dancer.  On top of all that, it’s a great show.  All three seasons are currently available on Netflix.  For more information, here is the IMDB page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1551948/

– “Gossip Girl” –

I realize that I am way late to the “Gossip Girl” party but better late than never.  I’m not that far into the first season, but I like it.  It’s a good show to turn on when I have hours of work to get through.  The show follows the drama surrounding a group of wealthy teenagers living in Manhattan.  It is currently available on Netflix.  For more information, here is the IMDB page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0397442/

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– Lauren Michele <3

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2016 Reading Challenge

I am SUPER DUPER excited about what we are discussing today.  Thanks to a friend on Facebook, I was introduced to the “2016 Reading Challenge.”  Don’t know what that is?  Stand by for a photo…

I am starting to feel like my old self in regard to reading so this challenge came at the perfect time.  I’m going to share my tentative list in hopes that you will get some inspiration.

• Published This Year – “Land of Silence” by Tessa Afshar | “A Spy’s Devotion” by Melanie Dickerson

• Finish in a Day – “Bookplate Special” by Lorna Barrett | “A Caribbean Mystery” by Agatha Christie

• Meaning to Read – “Zoo” by Michael Ledwidge & James Patterson

• Recommended by Bookseller or Librarian – “The Girl on The Train” by Paula Hawkins

• Should Have Read in School – “Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ” by Lew Wallace

• Chosen by Spouse, Partner, Sibling, Child, or BFF – “As Sure As The Dawn” by Francine Rivers

• Published Before You Were Born – “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” by Truman Capote

• Banned at Some Point – “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll

• Previously Abandoned – “Elixir” series by Hilary Duff

• Own But Never Read – “First Light” by Bodie & Brocke Thoene

• Intimidates You – “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen

• Already Read at Least Once – “Sisters of the Quilt” by Cindy Woodsmall

A few of those titles refer to a series so I am challenging myself beyond what is necessary.  However, I am only expecting one book in each category.  I don’t want to set myself up to fail and be disappointed before I have even started.  Can I do it?  Can you do it?  Yes we can!  We shall reconvene and discuss our triumph next January.  On your mark.  Get set.  READ!!!!! :D

“The whole world opened to me when I learned to read.”  – Mary McLeod Bethune

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Florida Travels Part 1 | Vacation Woes

(Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/shookphotos/5727898411)

My family recently returned from a 7-day trip to Orlando, Florida.  Expect the unexpected because I am starting with the negatives of the trip.  Prepare yourself for ranting and venting.

(Image Source: http://www.theprospect.net/what-its-like-to-travel-through-airports-a-gifs-piece-25245)

1.  I have always wanted to travel the world, but I am having second thoughts.  On the way to Florida, the layover in Dallas lasted four hours instead of one hour; sleeping in an airport is definitely not comfortable.  Despite not having problems in the past, I got extremely sick during the flights.  In a nutshell, I am no longer a fan of flying.

(Image Source: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mathewg5/18-questions-sweaty-girls-are-tired-of-being-asked-dst2?sub=3400732_3475297#.al3we0wOdx)

2.  I lived in Texas for 13 years, and the humidity was unbearable.  Visiting Florida was like reliving a nightmare.  Non-stop sweating, irritability, and face breakouts.  Fun stuff!!

3.  I have heard tales of the hissing cockroaches in the sunshine state.  I believed they were big but thought the size was exaggerated.  NO NO NO NO NO!!!!!  Me and my brother, while exploring the resort grounds, discovered the dead body of a cockroach.  Believe me when I tell you the stories are not an exaggeration.  Hissing cockroaches are BIG.

(Image Source: https://nicolegoldfarb.wordpress.com/2014/07/15/10-things-ive-learned-about-living-in-nyc/)

4.  Hotel prices are ridiculous.  I paid $14 for SPF 15 sunscreen.  Seriously???

(Image Source: http://memegenerator.net/instance/24458614)

5.  Where are all the kids coming from??  Is there a fall break from grade school that I have never heard of??  Either that or everyone in Florida is home-schooled.

6.  Sports highs are amazing.  Sports lows, not so much.  Unfortunately, during the trip, the Anaheim Angels came up one game short of the playoffs, and the USC Trojans were upset by Washington.  My heart is still recovering.

(Image Source: https://ethiopiacatalog.wordpress.com/2013/12/02/peace-corps-abcs/)

7.  I had a blast at Disney World, but the crowds were both unexpected and annoying.  My family purposefully went during October because it is supposed to be a slow month.  If that is a slow month, I cannot even fathom what summertime is like.  The crowds were massive, and the people were, more often than not, rude.  I had a lot of fun, but I would be lying if I said the amount of people didn’t make me miserable more than once.

(Image Source: http://smileslovesyou.tumblr.com/post/30292461109)

8.  Never EVER wear converse to a theme park.  For the first two out of three days at Disney World, I wore Converse.  NEVER AGAIN!!  I cannot even begin to explain the excruciating pain, limping, and blisters I endured.  Thankfully, my family lifted my spirits by making me laugh and allowing me to sit and rest every now and then.

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9.  Vacation is exhausting!  I know that might sound snobby and/or ungrateful, but I am being dead serious.  I need a post-vacation vacation.

Stay tuned for part 2 coming soon.  The theme is Disney World versus Disneyland.  :)

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Dear Younger Self

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Two nights ago, I had an eye-opening experience.  I couldn’t sleep so I decided to read through my old diary, and what I found shocked me.  I used vague language and failed to mention most of the significant events from my childhood.  There was no substance!  I am a writer; when the need arises, I express myself through words to vent and heal.  In my poetry journals, I was completely open about what was going on around me and how I was feeling.  However, those poems were written within the last five years.  My diary was started four years prior to my discovery of poetry.  Perhaps I’ve been watching too much “Criminal Minds” because I have an analysis.  I wont give explicit details, but I went through a lot mentally and emotionally.  My memories are crystal clear, but, based on my diary, I was not aware of how I was being affected.  I brushed aside contributing factors as minor annoyances.  I believe that repression is why, years later, I react so explosively; I am overcompensating for my silence in the past.  I don’t want to drag on so I will end with these words, a note to my younger self and girls who have gone through/are going through similar struggles:

“You feel ugly, fat, alone, and hopeless.  You have given up on yourself because no matter how desperate you are to speak up, you are afraid.  Let go of your emotions; allow yourself to scream and cry.  When you feel better, pick yourself up and start anew with your head held high.  It may feel impossible now, but you make it farther than your young mind can imagine.  Do not lose the fire inside of you.  Never stop fighting!”

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“And all those things I didn’t say, wrecking balls inside my brain.  I will scream them loud tonight.  Can you hear my voice this time?  This is my fight song, take back my life song, prove I’m alright song.  My power’s turned on.  Starting right now I’ll be strong.  I’ll play my fight song.  And I don’t really care if nobody else believes ’cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me.”

“Fight Song” by Rachel Platten: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xo1VInw-SKc

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“In the midst of deep sorrow, I see Your light is breaking through.  The dark of night will not overtake me.  I am pressing into You.  Lord, You fight my every battle.  And I will not fear.  I am not alone.  I am not alone.  You will go before me.  You will never leave me.”

“I Am Not Alone” by Kari Jobe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfveawSAHJA

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I hope you feel better!  Feel free to talk and/or vent in the comment section.  This is a safe environment.  “See” you soon readers.  :)

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– Lauren Michele <3

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