No Laughing Matter

Palley, Stuart. The Border Fire burns near Campo and Potrero Wednesday in San Diego County, California. Web. 31 Aug. 2016. http://www.outsideonline.com/2109026/man-behind-summers-most-iconic-fire-photos#slide-5.

Palley, Stuart. The Border Fire burns near Campo and Potrero Wednesday in San Diego County, California. Web. 31 Aug. 2016. http://www.outsideonline.com/2109026/man-behind-summers-most-iconic-fire-photos#slide-5.

I consider myself a person with a good sense of humor.  I try my best to decipher the appropriate times to let go and laugh.  This is not one of those times.  Recently, I noticed some jokes on social media centered around the California drought.  I not only find this in bad taste but extremely offensive.  I am a California girl born and raised so I am naturally protective, but I have other reasons.  The drought is much more than a shortage of water.  Thanks to the lack of rain and scorching temperatures, the Golden State is kindling ready to ignite.  Hearing about or driving by a fire is a daily occurrence.  A few weeks ago, the shopping center where I work was more crowded than usual because people were waiting for the smoke from a nearby fire to clear from the air.  Of course some fires are started by people, but the dry conditions invite the flames to spread with open arms.  Farmers are scrambling to protect their livelihood.  Families have lost their homes.  People have lost their lives.  Is that funny??  NO!!  Yes, there are selfish people who have not taken the drought seriously, but that is not an excuse.  It doesn’t matter what your personal feelings are regarding this state.  Next time you want to poke fun at the California drought, remember the people whose lives are being negatively affected.  Let this be a lesson to us all: educate yourself before opening your mouth.

If you need more proof of the devastation, here are links to eye-opening images:

• http://mashable.com/2015/09/14/valley-fire-devastation-photos/#HLDqTGuiASqh

• http://www.outsideonline.com/2109026/man-behind-summers-most-iconic-fire-photos

• http://stuartpalley.photoshelter.com/index/G0000ZMVoBzIEtqs/I0000BH7TwqpPOO0

 

 

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Elf in Recovery | Blogmas 2015

 

Trick 3D. An Elf's Story: North Pole Hospital. 2011. Web. 10 Dec. 2015. http://www.trick3d.com/_/img/_folio/orig-elf-hospital-lg.jpg.

Trick 3D. An Elf’s Story: North Pole Hospital. 2011. Web. 10 Dec. 2015. http://www.trick3d.com/_/img/_folio/orig-elf-hospital-lg.jpg.

I am off work today so the only things on my to-do list are PJs, Christmas movies, and blogging.  Even though Hanukkah is in full swing and Christmas is 15 days away, I am in holiday limbo right now.  Perhaps starting the festivities early really is a December buzzkill.  Either that or my long, emotional year full of changes is taking its toll on my mentality.  Oy vey!!  I love Christmastime.  I’m pretty sure there is elf somewhere in my heritage.  Why oh why is the Christmas struggle real right now??!  I’m sorry readers.  Despite my attempts to be holly jolly, I’m only human.  That’s what this blog is all about, me being myself.  Unfortunately that includes mood swings. ;) Perhaps eggnog, Chinese food, and quality time with my brother will boost my spirit. :D

Vlogmas – Lauren Michele

5 days until Artmas – Lauren Michele Photography – WordPress.com

15 days until Christmas…

I hope all of you are having a very merry Thursday night.  Happy 5th night of Hanukkah!!

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Florida Travels Part 3 – The Highlight Reel

(Image Source: http://saszombieassault.wikia.com/wiki/File:Cute-sun-with-sunglasses-clipart-yTkg5reGc.jpeg)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Magic Kingdom)

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

• Kali River Rapids (Animal Kingdom)

• Kilimanjaro Safaris (Animal Kingdom)

• Pirates of the Caribbean (Magic Kingdom

• Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (Magic Kingdom)

• Swiss Family Treehouse (Magic Kingdom)

• The Magic Carpets of Aladdin (Magic Kingdom)

• World Showcase (Epcot)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out my first Disney World Vlog:

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Florida Travels Part 2 | Disneyland vs Disney World

(Image Source: http://disneydose.com/disneyland-v-walt-disney-world/#axzz3oJ2zYWzd)

Let’s get ready to rumble!!  Although it has been a little over a year since I visited Disneyland, I was able to determine differences between these two parks and decide my favorite.

– Weather –

In this category, Disneyland is the winner.  The dry air makes for a much better experience when one is on their feet all day long.  The Florida humidity was miserable to endure, and it brought back awful memories from my time living in Texas.  Sweat?  No thank you!

– Size –

Disneyland is at a disadvantage in terms of “wiggle room” therefore when a new ride is opened, more often than not an existing ride has to go.  Sometimes the change is good, sometimes it is bad.  Disney World has plenty of room for expansion; however, more room also means larger crowds.  Because I am most definitely not a people person and both parks get ridiculously busy, I am calling this a category a draw.

– Accessibility –

Disneyland is the winner of this category because its two parks, Downtown Disney, and the parking lots are close together and within walking distance.  Disney World is so big that a significant part of the day is spent catching a bus or the monorail to visit another park or leave.  This requires extra walking/running, and it takes up park time.

– Rides –

Most of the rides I went on were different in a subtle manner, specifically “Space Mountain” and “Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.”    The one ride I went on that was unique to Disney World was the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, which was really fun; however, much like Radiator Springs Racers at Disneyland, it was disappointingly short.  The changes that caught my attention at Disney World were Pirates of the Caribbean being short and the lack of an Indiana Jones ride (there is only a show).  Those are two of my favorite rides therefore Disneyland wins this category.

– Cleanliness –

The bathrooms and a few of the park areas were dirty, and, in certain areas such as Animal Kingdom, the tables only had two chairs therefore if a family took chairs to accommodate a larger party, others would not have seating.  I understand that it is hard to keep up with such a large crowd, but it is very much noticeable and inconvenient.  However, I am not picking a winner because I do not recall the state of Disneyland.

– Animal Kingdom –

Animal Kingdom is unique to Disney World.  I love going to the zoo so I was really excited to visit this park, but it exceeded my expectations.  I had the pleasure of seeing numerous gorillas, watching a hippo swim from an underwater point-of-view, and coming closer than ever to zebras, my favorite exotic animal, on a safari ride/tour.  This park was a pleasant surprise.

– Pricing –

One more thing I would like to discuss regarding both parks is the ticket and pass prices.  I am outraged that the pricing continues to rise.  Disney makes MILLIONS of dollars per year.  Why do people have to go broke in order to enjoy a fun day at a Disney park??!!!  I guarantee that the prices could be significantly lowered, and income would remain steady.

– The Results –

There are many more categories to debate such as castle size (FYI, I don’t care), but I chose only those that directly affected me and/or caught my attention.  Disneyland is the obvious winner based on both the categories and my California roots.  Disney World is a fun adventure to plan for and experience at least once, but Disneyland is much better in terms of frequency.  Once again, keep in mind this is my personal opinion, and I am a biased California girl.  ;)

Stay tuned for part 3 A.K.A. “The Highlight Reel.”  :)

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Florida Travels Part 1 | Vacation Woes

(Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/shookphotos/5727898411)

My family recently returned from a 7-day trip to Orlando, Florida.  Expect the unexpected because I am starting with the negatives of the trip.  Prepare yourself for ranting and venting.

(Image Source: http://www.theprospect.net/what-its-like-to-travel-through-airports-a-gifs-piece-25245)

1.  I have always wanted to travel the world, but I am having second thoughts.  On the way to Florida, the layover in Dallas lasted four hours instead of one hour; sleeping in an airport is definitely not comfortable.  Despite not having problems in the past, I got extremely sick during the flights.  In a nutshell, I am no longer a fan of flying.

(Image Source: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mathewg5/18-questions-sweaty-girls-are-tired-of-being-asked-dst2?sub=3400732_3475297#.al3we0wOdx)

2.  I lived in Texas for 13 years, and the humidity was unbearable.  Visiting Florida was like reliving a nightmare.  Non-stop sweating, irritability, and face breakouts.  Fun stuff!!

3.  I have heard tales of the hissing cockroaches in the sunshine state.  I believed they were big but thought the size was exaggerated.  NO NO NO NO NO!!!!!  Me and my brother, while exploring the resort grounds, discovered the dead body of a cockroach.  Believe me when I tell you the stories are not an exaggeration.  Hissing cockroaches are BIG.

(Image Source: https://nicolegoldfarb.wordpress.com/2014/07/15/10-things-ive-learned-about-living-in-nyc/)

4.  Hotel prices are ridiculous.  I paid $14 for SPF 15 sunscreen.  Seriously???

(Image Source: http://memegenerator.net/instance/24458614)

5.  Where are all the kids coming from??  Is there a fall break from grade school that I have never heard of??  Either that or everyone in Florida is home-schooled.

6.  Sports highs are amazing.  Sports lows, not so much.  Unfortunately, during the trip, the Anaheim Angels came up one game short of the playoffs, and the USC Trojans were upset by Washington.  My heart is still recovering.

(Image Source: https://ethiopiacatalog.wordpress.com/2013/12/02/peace-corps-abcs/)

7.  I had a blast at Disney World, but the crowds were both unexpected and annoying.  My family purposefully went during October because it is supposed to be a slow month.  If that is a slow month, I cannot even fathom what summertime is like.  The crowds were massive, and the people were, more often than not, rude.  I had a lot of fun, but I would be lying if I said the amount of people didn’t make me miserable more than once.

(Image Source: http://smileslovesyou.tumblr.com/post/30292461109)

8.  Never EVER wear converse to a theme park.  For the first two out of three days at Disney World, I wore Converse.  NEVER AGAIN!!  I cannot even begin to explain the excruciating pain, limping, and blisters I endured.  Thankfully, my family lifted my spirits by making me laugh and allowing me to sit and rest every now and then.

(Image Source: http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/3t8s5i)

9.  Vacation is exhausting!  I know that might sound snobby and/or ungrateful, but I am being dead serious.  I need a post-vacation vacation.

Stay tuned for part 2 coming soon.  The theme is Disney World versus Disneyland.  :)

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Early Morning Pondering

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I should most definitely be in bed considering I have had intense headaches on and off for the past three days.  However, here I am at 3am wide awake; my brain is working overtime.  Many changes have taken place in my life over the past three years, and the process has been overwhelming.  There have been moments when I chose to not think, ignore the problem, and pretend like everything is A-OK.  The emotional pain has been easier to deal with in parts.  I have a breakdown, struggle through the resulting depression, feel a little better, and wait for the next breakdown.  It is incredibly hard to move away from a place you called home for thirteen years.  No words can describe the pain of letting go of a life I thought I would have forever.  I never once considered that God would uproot me and my family and take away the house, the people, and the atmosphere I was familiar with.  Routines are my comfort zone.  Anytime change comes along, I panic.  Hence my earlier statement about shutting down and becoming a zombie.  I have no regrets about the jobs I accepted, the events I volunteered for, and the people I associated myself with.  I have vivid memories, both positive and negative; at least I have something to remember.  During this time of transition, social media has been a great tool for staying in contact with friends.  However, it has also been a window for watching life go on without me.  As I said before, I never once thought my life would change so drastically.  Now that my comfort zone is gone, I realize how much the small things meant to me.  For those of you who are letting go of something or someone right now, I am right there with you.  The process sucks, plain and simple.  Cling to the happy memories and the hope that something even better is right around the corner.  Oy vey!  That was cheesy enough to stop my tears.  But seriously, give yourself time to mourn and adjust.  I stayed up late Monday night eating goldfish and watching episodes of “Make It or Break It.”  I know, I know.  I am practically the conductor of the crazy train.  My point is that taking the time to do something you know will instantly make you happy works wonders for your mood.  One step at a time.  Breathe in, breathe out…

Image 1 Source: http://gifsgallery.com/tangled+lanterns+gif

Image 2 Source: http://mickeyandcompany.tumblr.com/post/58935992915/the-descending-lantern-that-rapunzel-lifted-back

This quote scares me to death, but I suppose that is a good thing: “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”  – Alan Watts

Think happy thoughts readers!!  :)

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Debbie Downer

Illustration by Lily Clark                     Clark, Lily. 2011. Web. 16 June 2015. http://www.layouth.com/held-down-by-depression/.

Prepare yourself.  I’m about to vent about some not-so-happy issues.  Me and my mom recently relocated to the west coast to join my dad and brother who had already been living in that area for a few years.  Because of college, the move was stretched out to three years for me and for my mom who selflessly chose to stay behind and help me.  Words will never be able to express my gratitude!  An impending out-of-state move is not easy to deal with while going through undergraduate education.  As if the stress of daily homework and sleepless nights wasn’t enough, let’s throw in living out of boxes and without furniture.  Fast forward to now.  My family is currently sharing a mini apartment above a garage, a space I have nicknamed “The Loft”; it has one main room (a living room, table, and kitchen with no stove), one bathroom, and one bedroom (two small beds).  In case you haven’t already done the math, four adults are sharing a living space meant to comfortably accommodate two people, perhaps two adults and one small child.  I can’t complain because at least my family has somewhere to live.  However, living in small quarters for an extended period of time is not a comfortable situation to be in.  The cherry on top is I have no job, no money, and no car.

I am an introvert therefore it is important that I force myself to go out otherwise I wont do it at all.  So far I am failing miserably even though living like a hermit is sucking the life out of me.  I am pale from not going outside.  I have no physical energy.  I have way too much time to analyze and criticize myself.  I am becoming even more uncomfortable around people.  I am stressed to the point of regular migraines and anxiety attacks.  In a nutshell, NO BUENO!!!  Why the heck am I writing all this down on my blog??  Well, Tuesday was one of those days when I was stuck in the loft working on my laptop and stressing over my current project and life in general.  Also, it was really hot outside, and heat is the worst possible antagonist on a stressful day.   I doubt it is too late for me to get out of this awful cycle, but in my “Debbie Downer” brain, it is.  Being social has not produced positive results in my life therefore I am very cautious.  I am unfortunately comfortable in this way of life, but I know it is not a healthy way to live.  The moral of this story is “Don’t live like a hermit if you have the choice not to.”  The black hole does not magically disappear and replace itself with sunshine and rainbows; it only gets deeper.  Find a happy medium between being yourself and living without regret.  I am going to close with a list of things that make me happy.  Let’s end on a positive note!

– Books –

Bookstore(Source: http://ericsmithrocks.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/gif-belle-books.gif)

Reading(Source: http://cdn1.theodysseyonline.com/files/2015/02/20/6356007252500528281501978539_reading-icarly.jpg)

– Dance –

Dancing 2(Source: https://38.media.tumblr.com/aae44b2e115758ff9f398dafd9d0baca/tumblr_mw9jc58eUV1rk27dgo3_500.gif)

Dancing 3(Source: https://38.media.tumblr.com/6cec61d67499e2f768b5a81978562039/tumblr_mzfcf5cEhA1s2ntk9o4_500.gif)

– Disney –

Disney(Source: http://33.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m3krhzBJEL1r63keto1_500.gif)

Disney 2(Source: http://imgfave.com/view/5795750)

– Fashion –

Shopping(Source: http://s3.scoopwhoop.com/osi/momshop/12.gif)

Clothes(Source: http://media.giphy.com/media/iB37W6VDrWWAw/giphy.gif)

– Music/Singing –

iPod(Source: http://cdn.pigeonsandplanes.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Commute7.gif)

Singing(Source: https://38.media.tumblr.com/189f117354908443e8d52ab73d2517f9/tumblr_mh7c8ceZjz1rrlldmo1_500.gif)

– Water –

Dancing in the Rain(Source: http://media.giphy.com/media/ZotL3kezxlpFC/giphy.gif)

Swimming(Source: http://33.media.tumblr.com/82a0f1d735eb1f001888dc0f4a0c4df3/tumblr_inline_n5heuejuuH1scyims.gif)

I spent the rest of the night playing a video game and watching a movie with my brother so I already feel much better.  Keep moving forward, and don’t look back readers!

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”  – Albus Dumbledore, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkban”

– Lauren Michele <3

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