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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Lost in Translation

Time for another story from the misadventures of Lauren Michele Stewart! Just kidding. This tale is actually very thought-provoking. *GASP*

Back in my college days Spanish dramas were my escape from reality, Isabel, Los Hombres de Paco, & Un paso adelante being my personal favorites. On top of that, I listened to a lot of Spanish music in an attempt to perfect my ear for the beautiful language of España. Never in a million years did I think that music and TV shows in another language would affect me around English speakers, but it did indeed happen. One day while I was in class, my ears started to interpret English in a different way. At first I thought I was just extremely tired, which is normal for a student, but careful listening proved that I was indeed hearing what sounded like the only other language in my life: Spanish. At one point I silently prayed that the teacher and students wouldn’t talk to me because I couldn’t understand a word they were saying. Even though I was hearing a familiar language, my brain wasn’t distinguishing the words. After a few minutes everything went back to normal, but I never forgot what happened.

The experience gave me a higher level of respect for both polyglots and immigrants learning a foreign language. I wasn’t necessarily scared or overwhelmed, but it was unexpected and left me feeling disoriented. I don’t necessarily have a moral or a mind-blowing message to share with you. I just thought the experience was unique, something I’d never heard of before. I wish my tongue had miraculously become bilingual in that moment and remained so. 😂 As a side note, I highly recommend utilizing television and music as immersion techniques for learning a language. I am by no means fluent, but I understand a decent chunk of Castilian Spanish. I refer to a specific type because that is what my ears are accustomed to; I have a very hard time understanding accents outside of Spain. 🇪🇸

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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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Back to the Days of Yesteryear

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

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

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

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

• Baby Years (1993 – 1998)

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• Middle Years (1999 – 2003)

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

Teen Years (2004 – 2011)

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

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

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

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

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

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– Image Sources in Order of Appearance –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• http://www.hulu.com/the-saddle-club

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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– Lauren Michele <3

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2016 Reading Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• Previously Abandoned – “Elixir” series by Hilary Duff

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

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

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

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

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

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– Lauren Michele <3

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