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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Wonder Woman Movie Review

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As a lifelong DC  fan, I have never doubted that the extended cinematic universe could reach new heights and achieve much more than superhero films from the past. Superman has never been my favorite hero, but I thoroughly enjoyed Man of Steel. I loved Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and was skeptical about change. However, Batfleck won me over instantly, and my heart nearly burst from fangirl excitement during my first viewing of Batman v Superman. Despite harsh criticism, Sucide Squad was a fun ride; I especially enjoyed the dark aesthetic and witty banter. Leading up to the latest DC film, I was confident that this would be their best effort yet. After seeing Wonder Woman on the big screen in 3D last night, I can say with certainty that it was everything I thought it would be and so much more.

Saying I loved the animated Justice League TV show growing up would be an understatement. I have vivid memories of running around my house with my brother and our friends pretending to be superheroes. There was no discussion of who was better, boys or girls. We were all strong heroes on the same team, saving the world one villain at a time. Why do I bring this up? Growing up with a brother, I always wanted to hang out with the boys. If they played hockey, I did too. If they rode their bikes down a hill, I did too. If they had a swimming race, I made my own lane and swam alongside them. I won’t lie and say I never got hurt and cried, but I can add that there were times when the need to prove myself was enough to ease the pain and dry up the tears. I know my brother and his friends thought I was a nuisance, but I wouldn’t go back and change a thing. I never needed a visual of “girl power” to fill me with ambition and passion, but I understand why many girls and women crave it. I’m not one to get involved in political discussion, but I will say that I felt proud and inspired watching women kick butt.

⚠️   S P O I L E R S   A H E A D ! !   Y O U   H A V E   B E E N   W A R N E D ! !   ⚠️

The story is well written and deeper than what most would expect from a superhero movie. I appreciate the heroism that is showcased from men without superpowers. Even though the movie is fiction, it is a reminder of the sacrifice soldiers have made in wars past and present. I also appreciate the message about humanity which is relevant to the present. Diana believes that once Ares is dead, mankind will give up their desire to fight. Her heart breaks when she realizes the god of war is not controlling anybody. He plants ideas but is not entirely to blame for World War I. Steve encourages her not to focus on the men who are bad but rather hold on to the belief that there are good people, people with just intentions.

Speaking of Ares, the twist involving his identity is great. I didn’t have a clue who his human form was, and it was fantastic watching him battle his sister in “god form.” I am not the most knowledgeable DC fan so I had no idea who Doctor Poison was, but I liked her character. I mean, I liked her as much as you can like a villain. Perhaps I read too much into the portrayal, but I felt how her scars and insecurity led to her obsession with toxins and death. It is especially evident when Steve flirts with her while undercover; she feels desired and appreciated but quickly snaps out of it when he is distracted by Diana’s unexpected entrance.

Moving on to the side characters, each one of them contributed something special. Charlie, Chief, and Sameer provided not only entertaining banter but also courage and a whole lot of heart. Etta Candy was charming and made me laugh more than once. I love how inspired she was by Diana. When she sensed trouble and showed up in the alley with the shield and sword, I almost stood up and applauded. And then there are the Amazons. Their strength speaks for itself. The training scenes made me feel way too pumped to be sitting still. I wanted to swim laps and run a marathon. That is especially shocking if you know me well because I DO NOT run.

I want to give Chris Pine the credit he deserves for his portrayal of Steve Trevor. Steve has some doubt regarding his significance within the war, but he never gives up fighting and doing what he feels is right. His humility is refreshing and endearing; it reminds me of a certain Marvel hero by the name of Captain America. Near the end of the movie, he discovers a way to change the course of the war and puts thousands of lives above his own, cementing his value as a soldier and a person. (MAJOR SPOILER) His death, which brought tears to my eyes, was probably the most emotional scene. I do have a serious question though. Have we really seen the last of him??…

Last but not least, Wonder Woman herself. There was a lot of doubt about Gal Gadot because she is a relatively new name in the movie industry. I am not exaggerating when I say she has beat down all doubt and laid the criticism to rest. It was fascinating to pick apart her portrayal and find the nuances she brought to the character. As a child, Diana is curious and eager (credit to Lilly Aspell). As a teen, she is determined (credit to Emily Carey). As an adult, she is ready to combat any evil that might enter Themyscira. Once she ventures away from home, her naive view of mankind is shattered by the realization that their choice to fight one another is not controlled by Ares. Initially she wants to stop fighting, but once Steve’s encouraging words sink in, she accepts her new mission in life as a protector. She is a strong warrior ready to fight at any moment, demonstrated by her willingness to walk into German-controlled territory and protect innocent lives without hesitation. She also has a kind spirit and the willingness to seek the good in people. Her gentle side is seen when she handles Charlie’s PTSD with compassion and encouragement. Brava Gal!

🎶 I have to mention the genius that is Hans Zimmer. He is not the composer for this movie, but we have him to thank for Wonder Woman’s AMAZING theme music. I got chills when it first played. 🎶

🎬 Congratulations to the cast & crew on a job well done! I want to give a special shout-out to director Patty Jenkins. The finished results prove the effectiveness of her leadership. This is a career-defining film, and she should be very proud of the impact it is having on people around the world. 🎥

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Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSB4wGIdDwo&list=PLVfin74Qx3tUT-xIY0_xefei1p3auVaCh&index=1

G O   S E E   T H E   M O V I E   R I G H T   N O W  ➡️   http://wonderwomanfilm.com   ⬅️

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– Lauren Michele <3

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My Favorite Disney Channel Original Movies

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Someday I will write about subjects other than Disney & nostalgia.  Today is not that day.  😂  In honor of Disney Channel’s original movie marathon this Memorial Day weekend, I am going to share my favorite DCOMs.

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• Stand-alone

Stuck in the Suburbs – 2004

Taran Killam is one of my favorite Saturday Night Live cast members.  When I realized he played Jordan Cahill, I freaked out.  Baby Jordan!

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• Series

Cheetah Girls – 2003

Cheetah Girls 2 – 2006

My friends and I listened to the soundtrack on repeat.  We would pretend to be The Cheetah Girls, touring and making music videos with my camera.  Since there were three of us, I was a Chanel/Dorinda hybrid. ;)

High School Musical – 2006

High School Musical 2 – 2007

The HSM movies are the only DCOMs I still own (besides Camp Rock).  That about sums it up.

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Stuck in the Suburbs is my favorite because it possesses the DCOM spirit.  The only reason it’s above The Cheetah Girls and High School Musical is because both of those series blew up and became something beyond just Disney Channel films.  They were revolutionary and to this day hold significance in DCOM history.  A random person on the street might know about T.C.G. or H.S.M. but most likely not S.I.T.S.  Hopefully that makes sense!

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• Others

Cadet Kelly – 2002

Lizzie McGuire and Kim Possible are two of my favorite Disney Channel shows.  A movie with Christy Carlson Romano (Kim) and Hilary Duff (Lizzie)??  Yes please!!

Camp Rock – 2008

I was obsessed with Mitchie’s wardrobe.  Also, the Jonas brothers.

Cow Belles – 2006

Fun fact: Aly & AJ songs still play on repeat on my Spotify account.  No shame!

Go Figure – 2005

Figure skating, hockey, & Everlife music.  Need I say more?!

Jump In – 2007

I’m pretty sure I asked my mom for a jump rope after this movie premiered.

Kim Possible: So The Drama – 2003

I already mentioned my love for KP.  No other words are necessary.

Now You See It – 2005

This movie is a hidden gem.  I found out about it after seeing Johnny Pacar on Flight 29 Down and doing further research about his career.  I’ve been hooked ever since.

Pixel Perfect – 2004

I totally forgot about this movie until I saw it on the Disney Channel TV schedule.  I flipped out!!  Hands down one of my favorite DCOMs.  I wish I could watch it more often.

Read it And Weep – 2006

It’s always special re-watching movies that I saw commercials for before they premiered.  I got the full experience!

The Even Stevens Movie – 2003

My brother and I loved this show growing up.  Of course I love the movie!

The Proud Family Movie – 2005

I wish Suga Mama was my relative.  I love her so much!  😂

Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior – 2006

I had the biggest crush on Shin Koyamada.  Also, girl power!

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All of the previously mentioned films fall below my favorites but are in no way on the bottom.  I could watch them over and over and never get bored.

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• Honorable Mentions

Avalon High – 2010

Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam – 2010

Get a Clue – 2002

Lemonade Mouth – 2011

Starstruck – 2010

The Cheetah Girls: One World – 2008

Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century – 1999

Zenon: The Zequel – 2001

Zenon: Z3 – 2004

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These are movies that I like but don’t love.  Some may surprise you, but keep in mind this is my personal opinion.  I also want to point out something.  I like the Zenon series, but I haven’t watched the movies many times therefore I don’t feel right putting them in the favorites category.

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If you’ve missed part of the marathon, have no fear!  There are many DCOMs available on Netflix.  Also, more will be airing throughout June in preparation for the premiere of Disney Channel’s 100th original movie Adventures in Babysitting.

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I suggest you tune into the Thingamavlogs livestream.  They are staying live through the entire marathon for a great cause: The Pablove Foundation.  Necessary links below:

• Livestream – http://www.dcommarathon.com

• Pablove Website – http://www.pablove.org

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– Lauren Michele <3

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United

On a day that is dedicated to giving thanks, I want to draw attention to a video I just watched.  For those who don’t know, the band “Eagles of Death Metal” recently spoke about what happened at their concert in Paris.

* * * I don’t want to take away from the emotion of the interview, but if you are around small children, there is some language in the video.

Eagles of Death Metal Discuss Paris Terror Attacks

My heart breaks for the band and crew members that survived because what they saw and who they lost will forever affect them.  I want Dave, Eden, Jesse, Josh, Julian, Matt, and anyone else involved to know that they are in my prayers.  I am only one person, but it is important to show that no matter what people around the world are going through, there are others who are aware of and care about what is taking place.

If you would like to send messages of encouragement to Eagles of Death Metal, here are their social media links:

Eagles Of Death Metal – Facebook

EaglesOfDeathMetal (@EODMofficial) | Twitter

I want to share an expression that is used by Jewish people when someone passes away.  In honor of the lives that have been lost in 2015, may their memory be a blessing!

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord!  Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.  Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.  For the Lord is the great God, and the great King above all gods.”  Psalm 95:1-3

Happy Thanksgiving readers!  I hope you have a safe, blessed day.

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– Lauren Michele <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

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Congratulations Bindi!

I don’t usually do this, but I felt the need to write a post congratulating Bindi Irwin on her “Dancing With the Stars” victory.  Over the course of the season, I saw nasty comments on social media saying “Bindi is a fake person” and “She gets special treatment because her partner is Derek Hough.”  I could rant and fight on her behalf, but I don’t think that would do any good.  This is all I will say: There was no way of knowing she would be so amazing because she has never had formal training, and from a dancer’s perspective, Bindi had natural ability from the very first episode.  Despite what people may say from their television, computer, or cellphone, people on the DWTS set interacted with Bindi for three months, and no one has one bad thing to say about her; that speaks volumes about her as a person, more than online comments ever could.  I grew up watching Steve Irwin on TV.  He gave me so much joy as a child, and I am so glad to see Bindi carrying on his legacy with grace.

If you didn’t watch DWTS this season, here are links to videos of Derek and Bindi’s dances:

Week 1 | Jive | “Crocodile Rock”

Week 2 | Tango | “You Shook Me All Night Long”

Week 2 | Waltz | “Only a Man”

Week 3 | Quickstep | “Movin’ on Up”

Week 4 | Contemporary | “Every Breath You Take”

Week 5 | Cha-Cha-Cha |  “Hold My Hand”

Week 6 | Rumba | “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life”

Week 7 | Argentine Tango | “Cry Little Sister”

Week 7 | Team Freestyle | “Ghostbusters”

Week 8 | Foxtrot | “Grace Kelly”

Week 8 | Jive Dance-Off | “Travelin’ Band”

Week 9 | Viennese Waltz | “Roses And Violets”

Week 9 | Team-Up Dance/Charleston | “All That Jazz” & “Hot Honey Rag”

Week 10 | Salsa | “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile”

Week 10 | Samba Dance-Off | “Lean On”

Week 10 | Jazz Trio | “Resolve”

Week 11 | Quickstep | “Dr. Bones”

Week 11 | Freestyle | “Footprints in the Sand”

Week 11 | Argentine Tango & Cha-Cha-Cha Fusion | “All The Way”

Bindi Irwins Wins “Dancing With the Stars”

* * *     Congratulations Bindi & Derek!  :)     * * *

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