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.

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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

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

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My Disney & Pixar Bracket

It’s been awhile since we last talked so why not do something that will likely rip us apart. 😂 We are in the midst of March Madness so naturally a Disney bracket is making the rounds on social media. I have very strong opinions when it comes to all things Mickey Mouse, but it was extremely difficult to make these “life-altering” decisions. I felt like I was choosing between children. I allow me to walk you through each category so I can relive the pain.

Brave vs Up – This was hard because I really like both movies, but I had to listen to my wee Scottish heart. 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🇬🇧

Toy Story vs Toy Story 2 – I absolutely adore this entire trilogy so my answer to this category is WHY WOULD YOU MAKE ME CHOOSE?!? In the end, I went with Toy Story because it’s the classic that started it all.

Cars 3 vs Coco – I haven’t seen either, but I went with Cars 3 because it’s the only one I’m interested in.

The Good Dinosaur vs Toy Story 3The Good Dinosaur is good, but it never had a chance against Toy Story 3 which makes me weep with little more than a thought.

A Bug’s Life vs Ratatouille – This is another tough choice. I would drop everything & watch either right now. I ultimately went with A Bug’s Life because I’ve always loved the concept & characters . . . which is also true about Ratatouille. UGH!!

Inside Out vs Finding Nemo – Why has Pixar made so many great movies?? 😡 I chose Inside Out, but both reduce me to tears so it could be a different answer on a different day.

Cars vs Monsters, Inc.Cars is really good, but Monsters, Inc. is my favorite Pixar movie so this choice was easy.

The Incredibles vs Wall • E – I’ve never seen Wall • E so The Incredibles won by default, but I probably would’ve chosen it anyway.

Right side is complete! Moving on . . . to the left, to the left!! ⬅️ ⬅️ 😂

The Lion King vs TarzanI love The Lion King, but I chose Tarzan because it’s my favorite Disney movie. Duh!

Lilo & Stitch vs The Princess and the Frog – I chose Lilo & Stitch because it’s in my Disney top 10. Also, I’m not a big fan of The Princess And The Frog. Sorry (but not really).

Tangled vs Big Hero 6 – I’ve seen Big Hero 6 once, and it was okay but not very memorable. Tangled, however, is amazing. Flynn Rider has my heart. 💘

Frozen vs Moana – Frozen wins by default because *gasp* I haven’t seen Moana. 😭

Aladdin vs Hercules – My babies!! This category ripped my heart out of my chest, broke it, & stuffed it back into my body so I could relive the pain all over again. 💔 The only reason I was able to make a decision is because I have a set Disney trinity: Tarzan, Aladdin, & Hercules. That being said, Aladdin is pretty much interchangeable with Hercules.

The Little Mermaid vs Pocahontas – Ariel was one of my favorite princesses growing up but not so much anymore. These days Pocahontas is #3 behind Mulan & Jasmine therefore her movie wins this battle & my heart. 🍂 🍃 🍂 🍃 🍂 🍃

Mulan vs Zootopia – I love Zootopia, but as I’ve already mentioned Mulan is my favorite princess. 💚

Beauty & The Beast vs The Nightmare Before Christmas – I’ve tried to get into Nightmare Before Christmas, but it just isn’t happening. Beauty And The Beast will always hold a special place in my heart. 🌹

The time has come to choose between Tarzan, my favorite Disney movie, & Monsters Inc., my favorite Pixar film. I love both, but the choice is easy . . .

🍃  🌳  🐵  🌳  🍃   T  A  R  Z  A  N   •   F  O  R  E  V  E  R   !  !  !   🍃  🌳  🐵  🌳  🍃

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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I Saw Frozen For the First Time | Blogmas 2016 🎄

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1 DAY UNTIL CHRISTMAS (I know it’s the 25th, but this was supposed to go up on the 24th so just roll with it)

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I can’t apologize enough for my absence.  To make up for lost time, I’m going to be blogging through Hanukkah.  I will call it “Blogukkah.”  Genius!  I have a good excuse for not blogging this week.  I worked myself into the ground and got the flu.  I had the worst day of work possible Tuesday, and it went from bad to worse once I got home.  I spent both my days off resting and reenergizing for my last two shifts before Christmas.  I hope you follow my art blog and Youtube channel because I’ve been active on both those platforms all month long.  I’m not sure why I haven’t been posting as often for Blogmas this year.  I think it has a lot to do with my retail job.  I’ve felt like such a grinch and haven’t done anything outside of working.  No spirit and no fun means no good material for your reading pleasure.  I do have something to share with you tonight so let’s jump right in.  I watched Frozen for the first time.  I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

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Have you composed yourself?  Alrighty then!  I’ve heard a lot of different perspectives.  People loved the movie.  People liked the movie.  People hated the movie, some only because of the ridiculous amount of attention and hype.  I didn’t want my first viewing experience to be ruined by someone else’s opinion so I waited and waited and waited until the right time.  I’m glad I did because I was pleasantly surprised.  I knew the music would be good, but other than that I had no expectations.  I ended up liking it much more than I thought I would.  The animation is beautiful, and the characters are charming.  Idina Menzel’s voice is beautiful as always, but Kristen Bell’s voice stunned me.  WOW!  I love the end (SPOILER) when Kristoff is available to save Anna with an act of true love, but she ends up being saved by sisterly love.  That is a refreshing twist.  It’s adorable how Kristoff’s gruff exterior is slowly melted by Anna’s quirks.  I could watch an entire movie with him, Sven, & Olaf.  Those three crack me up!  I highly recommend this film if you love Disney, but wait until your mind is clear from the bombardment of other opinions.

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VLOGMAS – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLUvowXnQBLryeHcwz801Rsx7d1upOgV8k

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

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Due to my new job, my schedule has been a bit hectic this week.  I finally have some free time today!  I hope you don’t mind that this blog post is Disney-related.  Yes, this post is about Frozen, but hear me out before you roll your eyes and walk away.  First of all, I’m going to be honest and tell you I have not actually watched the movie.  As a Disney fanatic, I know that is like admitting to a crime, but I simply haven’t had an opportunity to do so.  Now that my “crime” is out in the open, I want to shine a light on what I believe is a hidden gem in the soundtrack.  The hype around Frozen has been unreal, and the film & music are in no way eligible for the label “underrated.”  However, I think there is a song that deserves a lot more recognition.  Do You Want to Build a Snowman starts out cute and transitions into a very serious and emotional song.  Elsa has isolated herself from the world, and Anna knocks on her door at three different ages asking her to build a snowman.  The first time she knocks, Anna is 5 years old (voiced by Katie Lopez).  The second time she is 9 (voiced by Agatha Lee Monn).  When Kristen Bell takes over as her singing voice the third and final time, Anna is 18.  Katie and Agatha did such a great job capturing Anna’s childish innocence and personality.  Well done ladies!  I want to shine a very special spotlight on Kristen because she deserves so much more credit for the depth and emotion she adds to the final verse.  Every time I hear her sing the lyrics, I’m a blubbering mess.  I have provided a video of the scene/song down below.  I highly recommend you close your eyes because even without watching, Kristen’s voice makes you feel and understand what is happening.  How do I know that??  I’ve only ever heard the song.  I watched the movie scene for the first time today.

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Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-zXT5bIBM0

I cried watching it!  Did you?  From the title, you would never think of this song as emotionally impactful, but it truly is.  Disney tricked us!! 😂

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• Bonus Video | The song starts at 0:51

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8MUkjn1ol0

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Florida Travels Part 3 – The Highlight Reel

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Part 1: https://laurenmichelelifestyle.wordpress.com/2015/10/11/florida-travels-part-1-vacation-woes/

Part 2: https://laurenmichelelifestyle.wordpress.com/2015/10/12/florida-travels-part-2-disneyland-vs-disney-world/

The time has come.  Let’s look at the highlights from my trip to “The Sunshine State.”

1.  Leading up to the trip, I was freaking out due to the constant rain in Florida.  I knew my family desperately needed a vacation and didn’t want anything to go wrong.  Praise Jesus hallelujah!!!  It barely sprinkled while we were there.

2.  For the first time in my life, I got to stay in a resort.  The experience was not perfect, but overall it was really nice and relaxing.

3.  Me and my brother love to swim.  Unfortunately, we do not own a pool or live near a pool.  It felt great to have a pool nearby for 7 days.  The hot tub was the cherry on top, especially after walking all day at Disney World.  ;)

4.  My family ate at Freddy’s and Shake Shack for the first time, two places that have delicious burgers and to die for frozen custard.

5.  Staying with the theme of food, we also ate Brazilian food at Gilson’s Brazilian Restaurant.  YUM!

6.  Seeing Disney World for the first time was pretty special.  I rode/visited the following attractions:

• Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Magic Kingdom)

• Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (Magic Kingdom)

• Kali River Rapids (Animal Kingdom)

• Kilimanjaro Safaris (Animal Kingdom)

• Pirates of the Caribbean (Magic Kingdom

• Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (Magic Kingdom)

• Swiss Family Treehouse (Magic Kingdom)

• The Magic Carpets of Aladdin (Magic Kingdom)

• World Showcase (Epcot)

7.  Hearing foreign accents and languages for 3 days straight was music to my ears.

8.  While in Hollywood Studios, I noticed a group of kids lining up to meet a Disney Junior character.  Thinking of my niece, I walked over to see who the character was.  I was so excited to discover it was Doc McStuffins.  I immediately recorded a video and sent it to my sister so she could show my niece.  Hearing that my niece was watching the video over and over again made my day.  :)

9.  My family has endured a lot over the past three years.  Finally being together, relaxing, and laughing, the experience is indescribable.  My heart was and is very happy and satisfied.  <3

10.  Last but definitely not least, this is the highlight of my year.  Mom, John, and Lauren are standing at the entrance of Reebok waiting for dad to make a purchase.  A man walks in looking for a friend.  He yells “Marco!”  Mom promptly yells back “Polo!”

Are you done laughing???  I’m not!!!  We had to walk out of the store because we were laughing so loud.

I hope you enjoyed this 3-part series about my first trip to Orlando, Florida.  I have one more Disney-themed post coming your way so keep an eye out for that.

Check out my first Disney World Vlog:

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Disney Challenge

Disney Challenge Thumbnail

Me and my best friend Gabby did the Disney challenge featuring songs from “Frozen”, “Jungle Book”, “Lilo & Stitch”, “Lion King”, “Little Mermaid”, “Mulan”, “Pocahontas”, “Princess and the Frog”, “Shrek 2”, “Tangled”, and “Tarzan.”  Warning!  The following video features A LOT of dramatic lip synching and laughter.

– <3 http://youtu.be/Z-4aTEJX2XU <3 –

If you would like to do this challenge, here are the rules:

1. At least two players are required plus someone to play the songs and keep score.  We did not have a third person so I used the Pandora app on my phone.  I put a towel over the top half of my phone where the songs were displayed and did the manual work myself (playing, pausing, etc).  Gabby kept score on her phone.

2. Each person has ten seconds to guess the title of a song (One Point) and what Disney movie it comes from (One Point).  After time is up, the other person can take a guess and try to steal the points.  Each round can earn a player 0, 1, or 2 points.

3.  The person with the most points at the end of the game wins.  Me and Gabby ended the game after ten songs.

I hope you enjoyed the video!  Film your own version.  It’s a lot of fun!!

Stay tuned for more posts coming soon.  Stay young at heart readers!  :)

– Lauren Michele <3

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Frozen Fitness

Frozen Fitness(Source: http://www.olivera.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/funny-pictures-winter-weight-loss-snowman.jpg)

If only losing weight was that easy!!  If you think I am about to give you an AMAZING workout routine based on a Disney movie about a queen with ice and snow powers, fear not!  Today we are discussing the struggles that accompany working out during winter.  I, like the majority of the world population, made a New Year’s resolution to exercise.  January was the easiest month, so far, to get through; I was motivated and determined.  February was an entirely different story.  My body suddenly decided to realize it is winter and go into hibernation mode.  I was tired all the time from the beautifully dreary weather, and preparing for a workout took extra time in order to overcome freezing temperatures and aching joints.  I hit a wall!  I saw results in January, but February was comparable to running up a hill of ice and expecting to reach the top.  My solution?  I kept going.  I know, I know,  That is a typical and boring answer, but it is the truth.  I got through February with the help of hot baths, layers of warm clothing, and stretching, and the accomplishment feels good.  It is too early to tell if March will be difficult, but I am finally starting to see results again so I am optimistic.  I know I am not the only one struggling with this issue so prepare for an extremely cheesy pep talk: We are in this together!!  You can do it!!  Next time you find yourself facing a workout whilst shivering uncontrollably, remember there are other people going through the same thing (in this case, me).  Don’t let the icicles win!!  Enough of this cheesy talk.  I am starting to annoy myself.  Enjoy the rest of your day readers!

“I believe in process.  I believe in four seasons.  I believe that winter’s tough, but spring’s coming.  I believe that there’s a growing season.  And I think that you realize that in life, you grow.  You get better.”      – Steve Southerland

– Lauren Michele :)

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