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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The Reading Rush 2020

It’s the end of July which means it’s time to do some reading & rushing for seven straight days. The Reading Rush, formerly known as BookTubeAThon, is an annual weeklong readathon that I’ve been participating in since 2017. There are reading challenges, virtual badges, social media reading sprints, giveaways, merch, and so much more. This is my 4th year, & I’m ready to make it the best one yet. Start scrolling to follow my reading journey for 7 days. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed! 😉👍

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–   J  U L Y   2 0 T H   –

🏅 Earned the 2020 Reading Rush badge for participating in the readathon

✔️ Started & finished “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” by Jenny Han | eBook on Scribd | 328 pages | Earned the Read a Book in a Genre You Want to Read More of badge

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–   J  U L Y   2 1 S T   –

✔️ Earned the Participated in a Twitter Sprint badge with Maureen Keavy

✔️ Started & finished “P.S. I Still Love You” by Jenny Han | eBook on Scribd | 312 pages | Earned the Read the First Book You Touch badge | I really wanted to continue this trilogy so I cheated a teeny tiny bit. I laid out four books on my bedroom floor & touched the one I wanted to read. Ariel & Raeleen said this prompt could be interpreted multiple ways so I used creative license. 😉

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–   J  U L Y   2 2 N D   –

✔️ Earned the Participated in a Read In Live Show badge with hosts Ariel & Raeleen 📱

✔️ Started & finished “Always & Forever, Lara Jean” by Jenny Han | eBook on Scribd | 316 pages | Earned the Read a Book With a Cover That Matches the Color of Your Birthstone badge | This book cover has a pale yellow tint that matches honey topaz. If that’s not enough, topaz comes in multiple colors so take your pick. Another slight cheat! 🙈

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–   J  U L Y   2 3 R D   –

✔️ Started & finished “Stuart Little” by E.B. White | Leatherbound edition from Barnes & Noble | 145 pages | Earned the Read a Book That Inspired a Movie You’ve Already Seen badge

✔️ Earned the Read Over 1,000 Pages badge

✔️ Started & finished “Aquaman, Volume 1: The Trench” by Geoff Johns | Softcover Comic Book | 144 Pages | Earned the Read a Book Completely Outside Your House badge – I read in the shade on my patio. It was really nice until I got “attacked” by a fig beetle. I know they’re harmless, but I don’t care. Beetles freak me out! 😭

✔️ I gave “Aquaman, Volume 1: The Trench” 5 stars & earned the Read a Five Star Book badge

📖 Started “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” by Agatha Christie | Hardcover | 52 pages

📖   3 4 1   T O T A L   P A G E S   📖

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–   J  U L Y   2 4 T H   –

📖 Continued “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” by Agatha Christie | 57 pages

📖 Started “The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society” by Annie Barrows & Mary Ann Shaffer | Hardcover | 120 pages

📖   1 7 7   T O T A L   P A G E S   📖

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–   J  U L Y   2 5 T H   –

✔️ Finished “The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society” by Annie Barrows & Mary Ann Shaffer | 158 pages | Earned the Read a Book That Takes Place on a Different Continent Than Where You Live badge

✔️ Finished “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” by Agatha Christie | 104 pages | Earned the Read a Book That Starts With The Word “The” badge

✔️ Earned the Read Seven Books badge

📖   2 6 2   T O T A L   P A G E S   📖

🎉  I FINISHED ONE DAY EARLY ! !  🎉

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–   J  U L Y   2 6 T H   –

I wanted to participate in the final Instagram & Twitter reading sprints so I picked up “Capturing the Devil” by Kerri Maniscalco, which I started back in October 2019. I finished the last 175 pages & completed the Stalking Jack the Ripper series. 🎉

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R E A D I N G   S T A T S

1 Reading Rush

7 Days

1 Comic Book, Softcover

3 E-books

3 Physical Books, Hardcover

7 Books

1,911 Pages

13 Badges

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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Activities For Social Distancing

Most of us have a lot of home time ahead of us so I thought I would share some recommendations to get you through the coming days. I work a lot on the computer with freedom to listen to music or watch a show. If that sounds like your current situation, this list is for you. If you’re not able to work right now, hopefully these recommendations will be a welcome distraction from all the chaos. 💕

*Note: This is a lot of information to keep track of so please inform me of any mistakes so I can fix them. Please & thank you!

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💻   A M A Z O N   P R I M E   🍿 

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Dancers & dance enthusiasts, drop everything & watch Dance Academy. As a former dancer, I’ve never related to something more on a “teen struggling in the dance world” level. If you don’t have Prime, visit the Dance Academy YouTube channel & check out their playlists. The movie Dance Academy: The Comeback is on Netflix. 🩰  For a period show centered on royalty, look no further than Victoria; I’ve only seen season 1, but it’s amazing so far. Four seasons of Luther & all 7 seasons of The Mentalist are available for a dose of crime. I myself am planning a rewatch in the near future. Speaking of crime, there are three miniseries based on stories by Agatha Christie: Ordeal by Innocence, The ABC Murders, & The Pale Horse. I have yet to watch any of them, but if the Queen of Crime is your source, how could you go wrong?? If you need some fashion to boost your spirits, Clinton & Stacy are on hand to present the  12th & final season of What Not To Wear.

I’m Watching: I’m currently making my way through Gavin & Stacey and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries Season 1. After taking a break, I’m planning on getting back to Downton Abbey & Grimm.

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🦦   A N I M A L S   🦍

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Animal lovers rejoice! You can admire the wildest of God’s creation while quarantined indoors thanks to live webcams. I’m providing links to two aquariums & two zoos in California, my home state. 🇺🇸 Additionally, you can watch live safaris in South Africa thanks to SafariLIVE. 🇿🇦

🐧   Aquarium of the Pacific   🦈

🐠   Monterey Bay Aquarium   🐢 

🐨   San Diego Zoo   🐼

🦍   San Diego Zoo Safari Park   🐅 

🐊   Wild Earth   🦁

You can sit back & watch these live cameras like a TV show or play music & get work done with help from your new critter companions. No matter what you choose, this is educational, relaxing, & great for both kids & adults. 🦉

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📚   B O O K S   📚 

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Mount, Jane. Ideal Bookshelf 822: Agatha Christie. https://www.idealbookshelf.com/products/ideal-bookshelf-822-agatha-christie.

This is a good time for lighthearted reading so I would recommend a trip down memory lane with nostalgic books such as The Baby-Sitters Club series or the Little House on the Prairie series. It might be a bit grim for this particular moment in time, but if you’re feeling brave, pick up the A Series of Unfortunate Events series. If you read the books & still want more from the ASOUE world, watch the amazing show on Netflix. I didn’t read this series until I was an adult, but it is nonetheless an essential comfort read: Harry PotterMy brand new illustrated editions look very tempting right now!

If you’re a bit of a weirdo like me & can read crime/mystery books at any time, I recommend classics like Agatha Christie, Nancy Drew, & Sherlock Holmes. British Library Crime Classics are also fantastic; my favorite so far is “Antidote to Venom” by Freeman Wills Crofts. If you’d prefer modern small town mysteries with a dose of baking, look no further than the Hannah Swensen series by Joanne Fluke; you can read one of the books & then use the included cookbook to bake recipes from the story. If you like the TV show Criminal Minds, The Patrick Bowers Files series by Steven James is fantastic.

For something a little more out of this world, I implore you to pick up the Illuminae Files trilogy by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff. I guarantee you will fly through all three books at the speed of light. If you have access, I’ve heard the audiobooks are also incredible. Buckle up & prepare for an edge-of-your-seat journey! 🌙

I’m Reading: I’ve been in a horrible reading slump since the end of 2019 so I’m still making my way through “Capturing the Devil” by Kerri Maniscalso.

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💻   D I S N E Y   P L U S   🍿 

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When I did my 30-day Disney Plus marathon last November, it was fun to plan out themed days so that’s what I recommend you do now. For example, Emperor’s New Groove & Emperor’s New School or Go Figure & Ice Princess or both versions of The Parent Trap1961 & 1998 ). Show some love to specific actors: Aly MichalkaCow Belles, Now You See ItPhil of the Future, & Pixel Perfect ), Brenda SongGet A Clue, Stuck in the SuburbsThe Suite Life of Zack & Cody, & Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior ), Christy Carlson RomanoCadet Kelly, Even Stevens, & Kim Possible ), etc. It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t mention absolute classics like High School Musical & The Cheetah Girls. For more recommendations, use the search bar on the right side of the screen & type “Disney Plus” to see every single movie & TV show I watched during my marathon.

These are my personal favorite movies & shows. My favorite animated movie is Tarzan, followed by Aladdin & Hercules. My favorite princess movies are Mulan, Aladdin, & Pocahontas. My favorite Pixar movies are Monsters, Inc. & Monsters University. My favorite live action movies are Into the Woods, the Pirates of the Caribbean series, & The Moon-SpinnersMy favorite shows are Lizzie McGuire & Kim Possible.

I’m Watching: I’m in the middle of several shows started during my marathon, but the priorities are Lizzie McGuire & the new Disney movies I have yet to watch: Aladdin, Cars 3, Frozen 2, Incredibles 2 ( currently on Netflix ), Mary Poppins Returns ( currently on Netflix ), Ralph Breaks the Internet ( currently on Netflix ), & Toy Story 4.

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🏋🏻‍♀️   F I T N E S S   🤸🏻‍♀️

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I’m not personally in a good relationship with exercise at the moment, but I know that some of you will be wanting ways to be active while staying inside. I can recommend some fantastic people on YouTube who will have you sweating in no time.

Tip: If you or your child owns a hula hoop, use that for a workout. Turn on your favorite movie or TV show & move those hips for 30 minutes or more.

•   Dance Fitness with Jessica   •

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=knA1CPIKGy4

•   Fitness Marshall   •

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dA2kPPlXDgc

•   Lucy Wyndham-Read   •

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yL_dE81O_mw&t=515s

•   R E F I T R E V  

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wj-YfL8t20U

•   Saskia’s Dansschool   •

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

•   Shine Dance Fitness   •

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRSSv6ZqEfs

•   Valeo Club   •

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cznYdI77WJ4

•   Yoga With Adriene   •

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tD_l3fDTFyg

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🧩   G A M E S   🎲

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If you already have a stash of board games in your home, allow me to recommend my family’s favorites: Clue (available as an app, not free), Logo, & Trivial Pursuit (available as an app, free). We don’t own any right now, but my mom & I also love puzzles. Probably should’ve stocked up before the apocalypse happened! 🙈

*NOTE: After a round or two of the game, check out the film Clue (1985) for free on Crackle. It has a cult following for a reason!

If you have coloring books laying around the house, that’s a great way to relax & destress. There’s also free, printable coloring pages online such as this Golden Girls picture. If you don’t have any coloring tools at home, there are free digital options such as Coloring Book For Adults (Apple only), ColorMe (Apple only), Color Therapy (Apple only), & Happy Color ( Android & Apple ).

I haven’t played games on my laptop in a very long time, but I have to recommend the Papa Louie cooking games from Flipline Studios. They’re addicting & perfect for playing while catching up on audiobooks, music, shows, or podcasts. You can work with any kind of food imaginable: Burgeria ( Android & Apple ), Bakeria ( Android & Apple ), Cheeseria ( Android & Apple ), Cupcakeria Android & Apple ), Donuteria ( Android & Apple ), Freezeria ( Android & Apple ), Hot DoggeriaAndroid & Apple ), Pancakeria ( Android & Apple ), Pastaria, Pizzeria ( Android & Apple ), Scooperia ( Android & Apple ), Sushiria, Taco Mia ( Android & Apple ), & Wingeria Android & Apple ).

*Note: The computer games are free, but the app versions are not. 💰

Speaking of apps, my favorite free phone & tablet games are Angry Birds, Babel Word Game, Candy Crush, Fruit Ninja, Mario Kart Tour, Room Escape: 50 Rooms 1 ( Android & Apple ), Scrabble GO ( Android & Apple ), Two Dots, Word Life, Wordscapes ( same concept as Word Life, Android & Apple ), & Word Stacks ( Android & Apple ). I haven’t played this in awhile, but I used to be obsessed with Diner Dash ( Android & Apple ). If you love music, I recently discovered Dot n Beat ( Android & Apple ) & Tiles Hop ( Android & Apple ).

What I’m Playing: I’ve recently become obsessed with the Crossword app ( Android & Apple ). It’s a great way to start or end my day & keep my mind sharp. I’m also considering a Nancy Drew computer game, which I’ve never completed on my own.

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📀   M O V I E S   🍿 

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Obviously everyone’s movie collection looks different so I’m going to provide links to digital stores & streaming services. For romantic comfort films, I immediately turn to:

Anne of Green Gables trilogy ( available for digital purchase on Gazebo )

Jane Austen movies: Northanger Abbey 2007 ( Amazon $, Apple TV $, & PBS Passport )

Persuasion 2007Apple TV $ )

Pride & Prejudice 2005 ( Amazon $, Apple TV $, Google Play $, Hulu, & STARZ )

Sense & Sensibility 1995 & 2008 | 1985 is on Amazon $Apple TV $Google Play $Hulu,  & Showtime2008 is on Apple TV $, Google Play $Hulu & Prime.

North and South 2004 ( Netflix )

Another classic I can’t say no to is Little Women. I haven’t seen the new adaptation yet, but I personally recommend 1949 & 1994. Surprisingly I don’t own either so I have to wait for TV airings.

1949Amazon $, Apple TV $, & Google Play $

1994Amazon $, Apple TV $Crackle, Google Play $, & Showtime

Speaking of classics & romance, set aside an Audrey Hepburn day for Breakfast at Tiffany’s ( Amazon $, Apple TV $, Google Play $, Hulu, & STARZ ), Funny Face ( Amazon $, Apple TV $, & Google Play $ ), & Roman Holiday ( Amazon $, Apple TV $, Crackle, Google Play $, & Tubi ). Audrey always makes everything seem brighter & better! ☀️

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uirBWk-qd9A

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xo1onGh3us

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AiKm3DrWpdU

If you love musical theater, these are some of my favorite musical films (not including animated Disney movies):

ChicagoAmazon $, Apple TV $, Google Play $, & Hulu 

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0c2bKZMxEQg

Fiddler on the RoofApple TV $Google Play $, & Prime (leaving on 3/31)

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVGNdB6iEeA

Grease Amazon $, Apple TV $, & Google Play $

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZS9SXH3DfT8

Into the WoodsApple TV $Amazon $, & Google Play $

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6t79Nw_6YA

Once Amazon $, Apple TV $, & Google Play $

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8mtXwtapX4

Singin’ in the Rain – Amazon $, Apple TV $, & Google Play $

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0asbGJbLKc

The Greatest ShowmanAmazon $, Apple TV $, & Google Play $

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RW61RQZojMQ

The Prince of EgyptAmazon $, Apple TV $Google Play $, & Hulu

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NieC8KA0EvI

The Sound of Music Amazon $Apple TV $Disney Plus, & Google Play $

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drnBMAEA3AM

Thoroughly Modern Millie – DVD

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSCz9LgvClw

Here are a few more that I love but don’t own yet:

Hairspray 2007 Amazon $, Apple TV $, Netflix, & Google Play $

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nm2iTP1NaB4

Mary PoppinsAmazon $, Apple TV $, Disney Plus, & Google Play $

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

The Music Man 1962 Amazon $, Apple TV $, & Google Play $

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2ySBtVLCYA

Since you have so much time on your hands, dive into a favorite franchise:

Harry Potter Amazon $, Apple TV $, & Google Play $

Indiana Jones – Amazon $, Apple TV $, Google Play $, & Netflix

Lord of the Rings Amazon $, Apple TV, & Google Play $ | Movies 2 & 3 are on Netflix

The Hobbit Amazon $, Apple TV $, & Google Play $ | Movies 1 & 3 are on Hulu

Star WarsAmazon $, Apple TV $Disney Plus, & Google Play $ | Rogue One & episodes 2, 3, & 4 are also on Hulu. Solo: A Star Wars Story is also on Netflix.

The Hunger Games Amazon $, Apple TV $, & Google Play $

If you’re wondering where the superheroes are, I have one name for you: Batman. Do me a favor & go watch the Dark Knight trilogy ( Amazon $, Apple $, & Google Play $  ). For an extra dose of bat, you can’t go wrong with Batman: The Animated Series ( Apple $, DC Universe, & Google Play $ ). That’s all you need! 🖤🦇🖤

*Note: Batman Begins & The Dark Knight are also on Netflix.

We’ve now come to the end of this long list which could definitely be longer. I suggest we throw caution to the wind & get a little dangerous. 🔥 Here are some crime thrillers that my brother & I are obsessed with: Gone Baby Gone ( Amazon $, Apple $, Google Play $, Hulu, & Starz ), Gone Girl ( Amazon $, Apple $, & Google Play $ ), Insomnia ( Amazon $, Apple $, & Google Play $ ), Nightcrawler ( Amazon $, Apple $, & Google Play $ ), Prisoners ( Amazon $, Apple $, Google Play $, & Hulu ), Se7en ( Amazon $, Apple $, & Google Play $ ), & Zodiac ( Amazon $, Apple $, Crackle, & Google Play $ ). I probably missed one or two, but that’s enough to get you started. 🚔

I’m Watching: I’m seriously considering a Jane Austen marathon. I need some dashing men in my life right about now! 💘

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🎵   M U S I C   🎶 

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I speak fluent Disney so this list could get quite lengthy. I’ll keep it short with just a few favorites. For soundtracks, look no further than Phil Collins ( Apple & Google Play ). Tarzan ( Apple & Google Play ) & Brother Bear ( not available for digital purchase ) are masterpieces, and it’s an absolute travesty if you haven’t listened yet. My number one song is “If I Never Knew You” from PocahontasApple & Google Play ), which was cut from the movie because it didn’t perform well with kids during test screenings. Thankfully it’s now available as a single & extended scene on DVD. Other favorites include “A Whole New World” from Aladdin ( Apple & Google Play ), “God Bless the Outcasts” from The Hunchback of Notre Dame ( Apple & Google Play ), “Go the Distance” from HerculesApple & Google Play ), “Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride” from Lilo & Stitch ( Apple & Google Play ),“I’ll Make a Man Out of You” from Mulan ( Apple & Google Play ), “I Wont Say I’m in Love” from Hercules ( Apple & Google Play ), & “Life is a Highway” from Cars ( Apple & Google Play ).

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALY-NdKexs0

I’ve been into metal, especially metalcore, since middle school. A lot of bands had to cancel tours due to Coronavirus, & many may not recover from this loss of income. If you have some extra money to give, I suggest seeking out your favorite singers & bands that don’t have a Beyoncé-level following; they’re the artists to support during this time of inactivity. I would personally like to introduce you to my favorite metalcore band Oh Sleeper, based out of Fort Worth, TX. Buy merch & music. Follow their social media accounts & stream their songs. Show them some love! 🖤

Apple Music

Facebook

Google Play Music

Instagram

Merch

More Merch

Twitter

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4A10teaSiQ

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-AIn2qjP1A

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xQ3IpHSugk

If you love to blast show tunes, my favorite musical albums from broadway & film are Fiddler on the Roof ( Apple & Google Play ), Into the Woods ( Apple & Google Play ), Once ( Apple & Google Play ), The Greatest Showman ( Apple & Google Play ), The Prince of Egypt ( Apple & Google Play ), The Hunchback of Notre Dame ( Apple & Google Play ), Waitress ( Apple & Google Play ), & Wicked ( Apple & Google Play ). I recommend you throw in Once Upon A December” from Anastasia ( Apple & Google ), Moon River” from Breakfast at Tiffany’s ( Apple & Google Play ), & “The Trolley Song” from Meet Me in St. Louis ( Apple & Google Play ).

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxbi92g_ToI

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwP6kNIDg30

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDDqIxGk9pg

I find no greater comfort than that of nostalgia. It’s like picking up a favorite blanket from childhood & snuggling with it. My throwback playlist on Spotify is a personal favorite of mine. Allow me to throw out a choice group of jams: “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton ( Apple & Google Play ), “Beautiful Soul” by Jesse McCartney ( Apple & Google Play ), “Be Good To Me” by Ashley Tisdale ( Apple & Google Play ), “Complicated” by Avril Lavigne ( Apple & Google Play ), “Everywhere” by Michelle Branch ( Apple & Google Play ), “I Could Get Used To This” by Everlife ( Apple & Google Play ), “Leave (Get Out)” by JoJo ( Apple & Google Play ), “Rush” by Aly & AJ ( Apple & Google Play ), “Spinnin’ Around” by Jump5 ( Apple & Google Play ), & “There’s Gotta Be More To Life” by Stacie Orrico ( Apple & Google Play ).

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cwkej79U3ek

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ek2PDE1cAyY

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NPBIwQyPWE

Amidst the chaos, take time to be still, close your eyes, & seek God. There are so many songs I could recommend, but I’ll stick with a choice few that always put my heart at ease:

“Cry Out To Jesus” by Third Day ( Apple & Google Play )

There is hope for the helpless, rest for the weary, and love for the broken heart. And there is grace and forgiveness, mercy and healing. He’ll meet you wherever you are. Cry out to Jesus!

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmVxRl5bc4Y

“How He Loves” by David Crowder Band ( Apple & Google Play )

He is jealous for me. Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy. When all of a sudden I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory. And I realize just how beautiful You are and how great Your affections are for me.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCunuL58odQ

“Living Hope” by Phil Wickham ( Apple & Google Play )

Then came the morning that sealed the promise. Your buried body began to breathe. Out of the silence, the Roaring Lion declared the grave has no claim on me. Jesus, Yours is the victory!

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-1fwZtKJSM

“Lord I Need You” by Matt Maher ( Apple & Google Play )

Lord I come, I confess. Bowing here I find my rest. Without You I fall apart. You’re the One that guides my heart. Lord I need You, oh I need You. Every hour I need You.

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

“Simplicity” by Rend Collective ( Apple & Google Play )

I come with my broken song to You the Perfect One, to worship You in spirit and truth. Only You. Give me a childlike heart. Lead me to where You are ’cause I’m coming back to my first love. Only You.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrusZ-MkTn4

“When Loves Sees You” by Mac Powell ( Google Play ) | This song isn’t available anywhere else for digital purchase, but you can still support Mac on Apple Music.

I see what I made in your mother’s womb, and I see the day I fell in love with you. I see your tomorrows, nothing left to chance. I see My Father’s fingerprints. I see your story. I see My name written on every beautiful page. You see the struggle. You see the shame. I see the reason I came.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4DK7arkztw

“You Can Have Me” by Sidewalk Prophets ( Apple & Google Play )

When did love become unmoving? When did love become unconsuming? Forgetting what the world has told me, Father of love You can have me.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzniohIV7ZE

I’m Listening To: According to Spotify, the last song I listened to was “Two Ships” by Oh Sleeper.

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💻   N E T F L I X   🍿 

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Time for yet another long list! I will probably miss a show or two, but there should be something for everybody. The ✔️ indicates that I’ve either finished the show all the way through or just the portion that’s available on Netflix. FYI, I mostly stuck to TV shows because a movie recommendations list would take the rest of my life to curate. Take what you can get! 😉

🇬🇧 British Broadchurch, Call the Midwife, Sherlock, The Great British Baking Show ✔️, & The Stranger ✔️

*Note: Sadly Happy Valley & Shetland are no longer available. 😭 I would also recommend Rosemary & Thyme if you can find it. I think all 3 shows are  on BritBox but don’t know if what’s available in the UK is different from the US.

Cartoon Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island ✔️, & What’s New Scooby-Doo? ✔️

Classic The Andy Griffith Show ✔️ & Twin Peaks ✔️ ( season 3 is on Showtime )

Comedy – I recommend comedians John MulaneyKevin Hart, & Sebastian Maniscalco. I promise you’ll be in pain from all the laughter! 😂

🇫🇷 French Black Spot ✔️ & La Mante ✔️

Binge & Then Binge Again Breaking Bad + El Camino ✔️, Gilmore Girls + Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life ✔️, Parks & Recreation, & The Office ✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️

Netflix Originals Stranger Things, The Witcher ✔️, Unbelievable ✔️, & You ✔️

🇪🇸 Spanish Cable Girls, El Barco ✔️, Gran Hotel ✔️, High Seas ✔️, Morocco: Love in Times of War, The Invisible Guest ✔️, & Velvet + Velvet Colección

*Note: I also like Isabel, Los Hombres de Paco,  The Time in Between, & Un Paso Adelante, all shows I have yet to complete. Sadly I can’t recommend any place to watch them because they’ve all moved since I started. If you live in Europe, you might have better luck.

True Crime Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes ✔️, Evil Genius ✔️, The Keepers ✔️, & The Staircase ✔️

I’m Watching: I’m taking a brief break from Criminal Minds & making my way, once again, through Heartland. I read the books in middle school & have been a fan of the show for basically the same amount of time. 🐴 💕

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📸   Y O U T U B E   💻 

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Instead of listing a bunch of YouTubers, I’m going to share what I turn to when I’m feeling sad: Laughter! My go-to sources are bloopers from Friends, The Office, & Whose Line Is It AnywayMark Ferris & Zoe Sugg‘s funniest moments, Holly & Phillip on This Morning, & The Carol Burnett Show.

There are so many bloopers I could share, but it wouldn’t feel right not focusing on Lisa Kudrow‘s laugh. If you make it all the way through this video without smiling, you’re dead inside. 💀

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcVvllNmu4Y

Dinner Party is one of my favorite episodes, & the bloopers might be even funnier, specifically the TV scene at 4:56. ⬇️

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrqQFD6ak6E

I swear Drew Carey’s laugh clears acne! Chip & Colin & Drew & Jeff & Ryan & Wayne . . . I love all of them! 💕

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrXm2U8dfOo

These two are a force to be reckoned with. Every time they spend time together, I count the seconds until their vlogs are uploaded. It’s hard to pick a favorite moment, but 35:29 is definitely at the top.

*Note: The best two channels for Ferris/Sugg content, aside from their own channels of course, are Funny Montages & YouTuber Moments.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCwZdoNH7rI

I only recently discovered the hilarious duo that is Holly Willoughby & Phillip Schofield on This Morning. It is impossible to choose one favorite moment so I chose a classic:

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHuLy0DT_84&t=49s

It doesn’t get much better than Harvey Korman & Tim Conway. This sketch is a classic! Harvey’s accent when he says “Daffy Duck” never fails to makes me laugh out loud. 😂

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3rCOwLwb5s

I’m Watching: It should come as no surprise that I’ve been watching Mark & Zoe‘s funniest moments while working on my laptop. Can’t stop, won’t stop!

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If you’ve made it all the way to the end, you deserve a medal for your treacherous journey. 🏅 Even though that was a lot of information to process, I hope you’ve gained some ideas to make social distancing a little easier to bear. Stay inside, & stay safe everybody! 💕

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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Just Want To Say Hello

I haven’t written a personal note to all of you in awhile. Coronavirus, specifically COVID-19, has everybody on edge so now seems like a good time. I love living like a hermit & barely leaving the house so let me know if you need any tips. 😂 Jokes aside, this situation shouldn’t be taken lightly. The spread of the virus is serious cause for concern. The first thing you can do is not panic. Think logically! Don’t buy a warehouse of supplies that could be shared with your entire city or maybe even state. Buy things you’ll actually need for your household & be on your merry way. Treat this like the flu season. Wash your hands with soap for 20-30 seconds. If you have to make a necessary trip out of the house, touch as few public surfaces as possible & sanitize your hands. Cough & sneeze into the crook of your arm. Drink water & take your vitamins. Get a good night’s sleep (hard for us Night Owls, I know!). Going back to the beginning, the immediate thing to do is NOT panic. That will affect how you react to the situation, & now is not the time to be reckless. Panic will also cause stress which will affect your immune system. I know it feels overwhelming because the whole world is going into quarantine, but focus on the little corner you call home. Evaluate with a clear mind & go from there. I think we could all use a break from the apocalypse so I’m going to end with a hilarious video from Trey Kennedy about germaphobes. Get cozy & laugh as loud as you want to! 💕

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izYn6GeAeD0

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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Disney+ Marathon Day 4 | November 15

8am – Rise & shine! 🌞

8:20am – Getting ready for work + Lizzie McGuire 💄 

S1E1 – Rumors

Still remember the entire theme song. Nailed it! 🎶

S1E2 – Picture Day

9:20am – Driving to work + Lizzie McGuire 🚗 

S1E3 – When Moms Attack

10am – Work 🛍 

3:30pm – Driving home from work + Lizzie McGuire 🚗 

S1E4 – Pool Party

I am Lizzie, Lizzie is me. Drama! 😂

4pm – Dinner + Lizzie McGuire 🍗 

S1E5 – I’ve Got Rhythmic

4:30pm – Blogging + Lizzie McGuire 💻 

S1E6 – Jack of All Trades

S1E7 – Here Comes Aaron Carter

S1E8 – Misadventures of Babysitting

S1E9 – Election

I always forget that Sara Paxton cameoed as Holly, the former class president. 😯

S1E10 – I Do, I Don’t

S1E11 – Bad Girl McGuire

I accidentally watched an extra episode. Oops! ☺️

8:30pm – Blogging + The Lizzie McGuire Movie 💻 

Um . . . Can we talk about Paolo’s lame attempt to convince Lizzie that music just flows out of him?? A lame “La la la la” That’s it. That’s literally it. I can’t with him. 😂

Final thoughts for the day: Because of work, today wasn’t jam-packed with Disney+ activity. However, I still managed to have a wonderful LIZZIE MCGUIRE DAY. I watched 11 episodes & the movie. Basically I lived my best life. See you tomorrow for day 5! 💋

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D I S N E Y +   M A R A T H O N   D A Y   F O U R   A R T 

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Subscribe to my blog to receive email notifications, and check out my other links listed below.

– Lauren Michele ❤

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Quarter Life Crisis

As of November 5th, I am 26 years old. Year 25 was NOT a walk in the park for me. I have really struggled with energy & motivation & purpose this past year. I am so passionate about what I do online, but being defeated time after time after time is so deflating. My Instagram, Twitter, & YouTube follower counts barely go up from month to month. I stay up late editing videos & writing blog posts, but it feels like no one cares when I make my work public. I worked for weeks & hours on my Tarzan video for the Disney+ Dream Job contest. I was so incredibly proud of what I produced, & yet I didn’t get one of the five spots to watch 30 Disney movies in 30 days for $1,000. Instead of breaking down barriers, I feel like I’m beating my head against a wall that isn’t going to budge. Is year 26 going to be better, or do I have to accept that I’m not meant to do this any longer?!?

How do I turn this into a positive? One step at a time. I may not have won a check for a Disney+ marathon, but I’m going to do it anyway. Starting November 12, I will be watching a Disney show & movie every day for 30 days. Don’t worry! You can follow along on here, Instagram, Twitter, & YouTube. Just use my links listed below to make sure you’re following me with notifications turned ON. 🍋 This is called turning lemons into lemonade. 🍹 I’m also trying to step outside my comfort zone & interact with people I follow on social media. Scary! 😱

🌻 Go enjoy your Saturday readers! 💛 Hopefully it’s cold & feels like the holiday season wherever you are because California is still HOT. 🥵 🙄 😂

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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Three Generations

Vivianita Grace, Mona Lisa, & Lauren Michele

Happy Mother’s Day! First of all, how cute are we?!? Grandma Vivian in her purple sweater, my mama with picture-perfect makeup, and me with big blue eyes. A trio of 90s beauties! My grandma and mom’s relationship the last years of her life is something I will never forget. She lived with us for a period of time, and even when she wasn’t there, we were over at her house every Thursday. The one thing I will forever remember as though it were yesterday is the joy. I was constantly walking into a room and finding the two of them doubled over from laughter. It is overwhelmingly emotional thinking of how blessed I am to have seen that. They walked through a lot of hardship to get to that point, but for most of my early childhood I was privileged to have both a grandma and a mom who loved Jesus. Even though she’s gone now, I know my grandma is in Heaven, healthier than ever. I hope that in some way she knows that my mom & I have carried on the legacy of joy, always laughing. This special day is for moms & grandmas, but I want to give a special *internet hug* to all the people who are celebrating without their mothers today. ♥️

“Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness. She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.” Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”  

– Proverbs 31: 25-30

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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Aquaman Review

I’m starting the new year with a review of Aquaman, my family’s 2018 Christmas movie. Even though I’m a “DC Girl For Life,” I still have the ability to be constuctively critical. In short, I loved this movie. In depth, there are a few things that bothered me:

  1. Some of the camera angles & shots took me out of the movie. The beach training scene between Arthur and Vulko involved back and forth shots of both characters straight on. It felt odd and a bit too melodramatic. In the Italy scene with Arthur & Mera, the atmosphere dramatically changed to a cheesy rom-com and felt out of place in an adventurous superhero movie.

2. Speaking of the rom-com scene, that brings us to the terrible soundtrack. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. I specifically dislike the songs from the Black Manta costume creation scene (“It’s No Good,” Depeche Mode), the Italy rom-com scene (“She’s A Mystery To Me,” Roy Orbison), and the infamous Pitbull cover of Toto’s “Africa.” I should clarify that those first two songs aren’t bad; they just felt out of place. The Pitbull song is the one I hate with a vengeance, with or without the movie. All that being said, the score is amazing, and I really like the end credits song “Everything I Need” by Skylar Grey which fits right in with the tone of the movie’s finale.

Let’s end with two MAJOR positives:

  1. I  teared up twice: once during the title sequence from pure, unadulterated joy & again when Arthur Curry is proclaimed king of Atlantis because FINALLY we have the Aquaman we deserve on the big screen.

2. My dad loved the movie! You definitely won’t understand why that is such a big deal so let me provide some clarity. He enjoys movies like Darkest Hour and The Post. Superhero blockbusters are usually a little too weird & rarely impress him as great films. I 100% expected him to either fall asleep or walk out of the theater unimpressed. Shock of all shocks, he stayed awake the whole time and loved both cast and plot. 😱

I can understand why length was an issue for some people. Right before the finale, it started to feel like the story was being stretched out . . . and then BAM! It ended with an E P I C fight; I teared up; and all was forgotten and forgiven. Lastly, I want to give the cast & crew a round of applause. Director James Wan brought Atlantis to life which is no small feat considering you can’t actually film an entire movie underwater. There wasn’t even one weak link in the cast; I was impressed with every single performance, and I can’t wait to see more.

This is a DC film I can stand behind, and I think my fellow fans should do the same. Moving forward, we need to focus on the positive & support the parts of our cinematic universe that we love. Things can only get better from here because the casts & crews are experimenting, learning, and growing. So what if DC is darker and/or weirder?! At least we’re daring to be different!

GO.  SEE.  AQUAMAN.  🌊

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wcj6SrX4zw

🌊 🦀 🐠 🧜🏼‍♀️ 🌊 🐢 🐟 🧜🏻 🌊🐬 🌊 👑 👊🏼 💥 🔱 🌊 🐙 🌊 🧜🏾‍♀️ 🐳 🦑 🌊 🧜🏿‍♀️ 🦐 🦈 🌊 

Check out some awesome Aquaman art  ➡️  H  E  R  E  ⬅️

🌊 🦀 🐠 🧜🏼‍♀️ 🌊 🐢 🐟 🧜🏻 🌊🐬 🌊 👑 👊🏼 💥 🔱 🌊 🐙 🌊 🧜🏾‍♀️ 🐳 🦑 🌊 🧜🏿‍♀️ 🦐 🦈 🌊 

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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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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