Come Together

Today is November 5th a.k.a. the date of my birth. In honor of this special day, I want to tell you a story. There has been a lot of discussion in recent years about doing more to combat prejudice. During my family’s recent vacation, I witnessed a moment that touched my heart in an unexpected way. My dad, brother, and I wasted no time in checking out the pool once we arrived at our hotel. Right before we left, a trio of teenage girls walked by, each appearing to be of a different ethnic background. There was also an older couple, possibly in their fifties, sitting near the gate. I mention age and race for a reason so stay with me. The girls saw the couple and immediately lit up, saying hello and sitting down to talk; they even took some selfies together. I watched long enough to deduce that these five people were acquaintances because of the hotel. Age didn’t matter. Race didn’t matter. They were able to find things in common and establish a relationship. It is easy to get caught up in the news and feel weighed down by the negative all the time. I want this story to be a reminder of the good in this world as well as a beacon of hope. Please hold on to the positive, no matter how small, because it does exist. ❤️

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– Lauren Michele ❤︎

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Life Update | August 2017

– C O F F E E –

This is a very important update so listen up: I rarely go to Starbucks anymore. G A S P ! ! The reason comes in individual serving size packets and pairs nicely with almond milk & ice. Have you guessed? I still drink Starbucks coffee but in the comfort of my own home thanks to Via Instant. I know that most people know about this product, but it has been unbelievably easy to enjoy frappuccinos on days when I can’t make it to my neighborhood Starbucks. In fact, I have become so obsessed that even when I’m presented with the option to go to an actual Starbucks, I choose my “homemade” frappuccino. How crazy is that??! My favorite flavor at the moment is Sweetened Iced Coffee.

– B E D R O O M –

My room is small so the arrangement requires a lot of creativity. I recently had an epiphany at work regarding how I could make it feel more spacious and homey. I am happy to report that my idea worked, and I vlogged the whole process. The three-day project was exhausting but worth the effort because I feel like I have officially settled in.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbC6KS9yYNc

– B L O G G I N G –

I’ve been trying really hard to post consistently on both my blogs. The balance was off earlier this year because I got a paying job helping a photographer maintain her blog. I have since settled in, and I think everything is back to normal. Here are my recent blog posts:

• Misadventures in Babysitting

• Dance of the Paints | Thomas Blanchard

– F I N A N C I A L  S U P P O R T –

I love blogging & vlogging, but it does require money which I don’t have a lot of at the moment due to my status as a sales associate. I’m not exactly breaking the bank with my checks! I recently discovered a brand new website that makes it fun & easy for subscribers to support their favorite bloggers, business, vloggers, etc. Here is my Ko-fi ( pronounced like “coffee” ) link ➡️ https://ko-fi.com/A3023728

– R E A D I N G –

Good news: I took part in BookTube-A-Thon 2017, my very first time doing so. Even though my camera broke on day 6 and I couldn’t continue vlogging, I did continue to participate by reading & interacting on social media. I had so much fun and can’t wait for next year! Bad news: I am in a terrible reading slump A G A I N ! ! I was in one before BTAT, and here I am right back at square one. I have the desire, but every time I attempt to read, I have to force myself to keep going. Reading is the ultimate getaway for me, and I hate being in this mood. I need to pull up my big girl pants and just do it. I’m in the middle of 6 books ( yes, SIX ), and I need to finish all of them because I have exciting books to read in October & November. I also need to make serious progress on my Goodreads reading challenge because I have only completed 26 of my 50-book challenge. Not bad but still not great. Cheer me on!!

– R E T A I L –

I still hate retail. That’s pretty much it. 😂

– V A C A T I O N –

I am counting down the seconds, minutes, hours, days, & months until my autumn vacation. I know I echo the rest of my family when I say we desperately NEED this trip.

⏰ Current Countdown: 1 month, 12 days ⏰

– W E A T H E R –

If you’re a loyal follower of my blog, you know my visceral hatred for the summer months. I love cold foods & swimming, but this season is the absolute worst. I do nothing but sweat and feel gross and uncomfortable. I would much rather be cold & snuggle up in blankets while wearing a sweater. Whether you like it or not, autumn is upon us. Even though it’s my favorite season, I am hesitant to get excited. California disappointed me last year by remaining unbearably hot until the end of the year. Please please please don’t let me down this year!! 🍂 😭 🎃

– Y O U T U B E –

Lots of exciting news! Since my Charmed Aroma review video, I’ve been contacted by two more companies for reviews. I also have a major project in the works, something I’ve been planning for several months. I am slowly compiling products for a Bookish Gift Guide, a list of gift ideas for the bibliophiles in your life. I’ve already purchased two Jane Austen pillows and five candles inspired by A Game of Thrones, Edgar Allen Poe, Harry Potter, Romeo and Juliet, & The Princess Bride respectively. Before this video comes out later next year, there will be 1-2 review videos for various book-inspired candles; I plan to make this an ongoing series on my channel so suggestions are welcome. Last but not least, I mentioned earlier that my camera broke; thankfully I was able to replace it. The Canon Powershot G7 X Mark II has amazing quality, and I feel refreshed and excited for all the new content coming soon to my channel. Things are happening, and I’m going with flow. 🎉

| • I hope all of you have had a great summer. 🌞 I will be back soon with another post. 😘 • |

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Dance Until The Music Stops

This is a difficult subject for me to discuss, but this blog is like my diary so I need to be honest.  I recently took on the project of turning my dance recital DVDs into digital files so I could put all of my routines into one video.  Doing so brought up a lot of good memories but also an equal amount of bad memories.  I am my own worst critique.  It is a rare occasion for me to watch myself dance and think that I did a good job.  Watching old routines makes me realize how hard a time I had as a dancer.  Was I a good dancer?  Yes.  Was I a great dancer?  No.  What made the difference?  Fear.  The biggest problem I see when I dance is my tentativeness.  I was never able to to dance without flooding my mind with doubts and fears:  “Do I look fat in this costume?”  “No one will watch me if I look fat!”  “Suck in your stomach!”  “Do I remember all the steps?”  “What if I forget the routine?”  “I’m going to forget something!”  “That was a terrible performance!”  “I never want to dance again!”  That’s the basic idea of my dancer’s brain.  Never stopping, never quiet.  Unfortunately, I fall into the category of dancers who’ve fallen prey to distorted body image and eating disorders.  I went to extreme lengths to lose weight.  I thought that if I looked more like a ballerina, I would improve at dancing.  At the time I thought my body was an eyesore, but now I realize I was indeed skinny.  I looked the part, but it wasn’t by healthy measures.  I loved to dance, but I could never overcome the obstacle of fear.  When I first watched “Riverdance” on VHS and saw Michael Flatley and Jean Butler dance, I had no reservations.  I just wanted to dance!  Somewhere along the way, I allowed fear to beat me down and destroy my passion.

“You have to love dancing to stick to it. It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive.”  – Merce Cunningham

• On a happier note, I will forever be grateful for my dance mates.  No one understands the bond between dancers until you have navigated the ups and downs of dance with the same group for years.

I want to encourage boys, girls, men & women dealing with these or similar struggles.  Please don’t let fear run your life!  Take one step at a time and give your all to whatever you are doing.  Failure wont harm you so don’t be afraid to try.  If it doesn’t work out, don’t blame yourself.  When dance turned out to be a stepping stone in my life, I blamed myself for being fat and lacking talent.  The truth is God had always intended for me to turn my attention to something else.  Each and every one of us is dealing with obstacles.  You are not alone!

• It is time to start dancing with abandon & have some fun! :D

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

• I leave you with wise words from a special group of vegetables. ;)

Source: https://twitter.com/veggietales/status/421387397167722496

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The Wonderful World of Disney Presents:

Image Source: http://abc.go.com/shows/the-wonderful-world-of-disney-disneyland-60

I know I know I know!!  I talk about Disney A LOT.  However, I couldn’t help writing a post about the Disneyland 60 celebration that aired on ABC tonight.  Before I jump headfirst into all the amazing moments that took place, I want to mention two things that are not so good.  Go ahead and call me a prude, goodie two-shoes, etc.  I don’t care!  I personally think that the revealing costumes in the opening dance number were inappropriate; this was a special in honor of a family friendly theme park, and families at home and in the park were watching.  The second thing I want to mention isn’t bad, but it is somewhat of an elephant in the room and a detail that will most likely be mentioned by at least one person on the internet.  Most Disney fans wont mind watching two hours of Disney-related television and freaking out over the nostalgia and memories.  However, this two-hour special was more about Disney than Disneyland with the exception of a few interviews and fun facts throughout.  I don’t really care, but the truth is the special was a tad bit unnecessary if you consider that the subject was supposed to be Disneyland.  Moving on to the good stuff!

– Dance –

The “Part of Your World” dance number featuring Maddie Ziegler was short but beautiful.  The flowy costumes, monochromatic blue stage, and underwater background set a tranquil, dreamy mood.  Derek Hough lead a dance number set to “Step In Time.”  I couldn’t help but shed a few tears when Dick Van Dyke stepped onto the stage and danced at the end.

– Music –

The musical performances were amazing!  Here is a list of the songs performed in order:

• “Be Our Guest” – Pentatonix

• “When You Wish Upon a Star” – Jessie J

• “I Wan’na Be Like You” – Fall Out Boy

• “Circle of Life” – Elton John

• “Rainbow Connection” – Tori Kelly & Kermit the Frog

• “Let It Go” – Idina Menzel

• “Part of Your World” – Kelsea Ballerini

• “Friend Like Me” – Ne-Yo

• Star Wars Medley

Hore, Steven, and Sky Creative. Sky Movies, Star Wars. Web. 22 Feb. 2016. http://imgur.com/gallery/G7AaaFg.

Hore, Steven, and Sky Creative. Sky Movies, Star Wars. Web. 22 Feb. 2016. http://imgur.com/gallery/G7AaaFg.

• “Steve McQueen” – Little Big Town

• “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” – Gustavo Dudamel & The Los Angeles Philharmonic

• “Wonderful Crazy Night” – Elton John

– Non-Musical Highlights –

• Helen Mirren was one of the first presenters.  Her grace & eloquence was in fine form and the perfect way to open the show.  She’s not a Disney princess; she is an honorary Disney QUEEN!  👑

• During the “Modern Family” cast interview, hidden Mickeys were discussed.  Being the geek that I am, I began to hyperventilate when I realized that hidden Mickeys were placed within the interview setting.  They were eventually pointed out, making me feel super smart.  😉

• I must admit I got teary eyed during the Disney girls montage.  Hearing famous lines from the diverse group & interviews from female celebrities impacted by female Disney characters was touching.  💕

• It was really cool to see a sneak peek of Star Wars land & the Shanghai Disneyland Park.  Soon, Star Wars fanatics will be able to board the Millenium Falcon in California 🌠, and Disney princess enthusiasts will be able to see the largest Disney theme park castle in Shanghai 🏰.

• Last but certainly not least, my favorite part of the entire show which occurred early on.  While walking around Disneyland, Josh Gad visited Walt Disney’s apartment and mentioned a lovely fact: When working inside the park, Walt Disney would keep his lamp by the window lit to let employees know he was watching to make sure everything was running smoothly.  Now, in his honor, the lamp is lit at all times.  🌟

During financial troubles, Walt took a leap of faith and created a mouse.  His creation continues to have a worldwide impact.

“You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”

Now I desperately want to visit Disneyland.  I hope you enjoyed this post readers.  “See” you soon!  :)

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Happy Birthday Pixar! | Part 1

The official 30th birthday of Pixar was February 3rd, but the celebration is lasting all year long.  Let’s throw our own “party” readers.  I’m going to answer some Pixar-related questions.  Feel free to participate and leave your own answers in the comment section below. :)

– Favorite Movie –

(I’m counting both of these movies as one)  I have been touched emotionally by a lot of Pixar movies, the “Toy Story” series being at the top of the list.  However, there is something so unique and mesmerizing about the concept and execution of “Monsters Inc” and “Monsters University.”  Also, the relationship between Sully, Mike, & Boo never ceases to tug at my heartstrings.

Video Source: https://youtu.be/6tCxnHCqqxg

Video Source: https://youtu.be/xBzPioph8CI

– Favorite Character(s) –

Mike Wazowski is stubborn.  No matter how many times he gets knocked down and told no, he gets back up and finds a way.  Woody hates change, but once he lets you into his heart, he never lets go.  Mike is a fighter, and Woody is a friend; I’d like to think those two labels describe me as well. 💖

– Favorite Scene –

I just watched this scene on Youtube and cried.  It gets me every time!!  😭  I think this scene affects me so deeply because I said a final goodbye to childhood within the past 4 years.  My childhood wasn’t perfect, but I can say with confidence that I pushed my imagination to infinity and beyond. ;)  Some people may not understand, but it was very hard for me when I started giving away my movies and toys.  I cried giving away my “Blue’s Clues” movies, not because I wanted to keep them but rather I truly cherished every piece of knowledge I had gained through that TV program.  When I sold my barbies, I took the time to clean them up and make them look nice because they had given me so many adventures; I wanted the next child to have the same experiences.  I still feel stuck in a transition period.  I am constantly listening to old songs and drowning myself in nostalgia.  Never be embarrassed to step back in time in order to feel happy. :)

– Favorite Song –

No contest!  “Life is a Highway” from “Cars.”  I dare you to watch the movie and resist the urge to sing along. 🎶

“There’s no load I can’t hold
Road so rough this I know
I’ll be there when the light comes in
Just tell ’em we’re survivors.”

Video Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tXh_MfrMe0

Happy Birthday Pixar Part 2 – Happy Birthday Pixar! | Part 2

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We’re All in This Together

I can’t believe it!  Today is the ten year anniversary of “High School Musical.”  I just finished watching the cast reunion on Disney Channel.  I am so glad they maintained close relationships with one another.  I had a huge, goofy smile on my face listening to them reminisce.  HSM was a HUGE part of my childhood, and I want to take a trip down memory lane to share with you my most vivid memories.

1.  I don’t actually remember watching the premiere of HSM.  I may not have watched it on January 20th, but I discovered it soon after because I remember following the cast’s every move  and watching the premiere of “I Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You.”

2.  I freaked out when the music video mentioned above premiered.  It was an extra song featured on the soundtrack but not in the movie.  I watched it to death!  It also fed my suspicion that “Zanessa” was real. 😍

Video Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFB54wp41zo

3.  Seeing Zac Efron sing in the music video strengthened my belief that he sang in HSM.  He didn’t, but I believed and fought for him until the 2nd movie came out (he sang in the last 2 movies).  I’ve learned to live with it. 😂

4.  I might as well follow #3 with the fact that Zac Efron was a 2000s heartthrob featured in Bop, J-14, M, Tiger Beat, etc.  Yes, I did have posters of him on my wall, but I also had posters of the other cast members.  No shame. ;)

5.  I believe this happened in either 2009 or 2010, but me and my dance friends put together a big sleepover complete with food, games, and a “High School Musical” marathon.  There was a lot of squealing, laughing, singing, and crying.

6.  Every time we did jazz squares in dance class, me and my friend Katie would look at each other and quote: “It’s a crowd favorite.  Everybody loves a good jazz square.”  Every time without fail!!  Nailed it.

6.  Up until 2010 (the big bad Zanessa breakup), I followed the cast’s every move.  They were the BIG Disney celebrities of the 2000s.  I wouldn’t say I was obsessed, just genuinely curious and in awe.  I think every young girl goes through that phase.  I looked at every publicity photo, listened to every solo and group song, and read every magazine.  I also want to clear up that the breakup wasn’t the reason I lost interest.  I still look up the cast from time to time, but everybody grows up and leaves behind the things of childhood.

Favorite Character:  Gabriella Montez

Video Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4lv9xVA3Tk

Favorite Scene:  The very first scene featuring “Start of Something.”  That moment started the whole HSM phenomenon.

Video Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6EOUaWscrE

Favorite Song:  “Breaking Free”

Video Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLa__49Ltv4

Favorite Quote:  “It’s a crowd favorite.  Everybody loves a good jazz square.”  Also, everything Ms. Darbus says.

Only Ms. Darbus could pull off these quotes:

*Chad is playing with a basketball at his desk*  “Mr. Danforth! This is a place of learning, not a hockey arena.”

“Holidays are over people.  Way over!!”

“This school is about more than just young men in baggy shorts flinging balls for touchdowns.”

“The theatre is a chapel of arts, a precious cornucopia of creative energy.”

“It’s called crime and punishment, Bolton. Beside, proximity to the arts is cleansing for the soul.”

Say it loud, say it proud:

What team?  Wildcats!

What team?  Wildcats!

What team?  Wildcats!

Wildcats!  GETCHA HEAD IN THE GAME!!!!!

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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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