Category:

Entertainment

Entertainment is enjoyable from babies to adults. Whether you’re single, married, have kids or not movies, arts, sports and events bring people together.

3D printing, vinyl cutting, circuit building, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, Make Festival, Make Shop, Spring Make, MIY, Make it Yourself, Things to do in Chicago with Kids, Spring break in Chicago

Our Spring Break started on Friday and since we just returned from Walt Disney World and our Disney Dream Cruise, we wanted to head to one of our favorite cities close to home, Chicago and visit the Museum of Science and Industry to experience the Make Festival and the Make Shop. I love sharing my childhood favorites like the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) with my girls. Chicago’s my hometown and I love nothing more than sharing it with my girls.

Chicago is one of our favorite Spring Break destinations because it’s a quick drive away, we get to visit with my parents and sisters and you will never run out of things to do. In fact, last year we spent the entire week drinking in all the sights and sounds of the Chicago.

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Disclosure: We were hosted by the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago but all opinions and experiences of the Spring Make Festival and the Make Shop are my own.

We were extra excited to head to the city and MSI this year because they are hosting their first ever Spring Make Festival. What is the Spring Make Festival, you ask? It’s four weeks of MSI hosting a special program for expressing your creativity, including hands-on activities like a high-tech maker workshop (the Make Shop), evening events dedicated to brewing and collective digital art and a marathon Mini Maker Faire. There is something for everyone of all ages but I was most excited about my girls getting some hands-on time with technology.

I remember when I first got to Purdue, everyone I knew was studying to be an engineer and I had no idea what an engineer was or did. I heard “engineer” and my mind automatically went to a train engineer. I don’t want my girls’ to go through life not knowing all the amazing places science and math can take them. I want them to embrace all things STEM.

I’ve come a long way from the girl who was white-knuckling her word processor. I did not go gently into the Internet era but now, I don’t know what I’d do without it. I literally make my living on the Internet. I am one of the biggest tech geeks you could ever hope to meet and I want that for my girls. Let’s just skip the whole white knuckling part.

3D printing, vinyl cutting, circuit building, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, Make Festival, Make Shop, Spring Make, MIY, Make it Yourself, Things to do in Chicago with Kids, Spring break in Chicago

What is Chicago Museum of Science and Industry Spring Make Festival?

The first ever Spring Make Festival, which runs March 9 through April 8, offers a robust combination of daily activities and special events designed to help guests see themselves as designers, makers, and tinkerers including the MSI Chicago Mini
Maker Faire; a facilitated workshop offering LED circuitry building, 3D printing, and vinyl cutting; Hebocon, a renowned “crappy” robot competition, adults-only events and new hands-on challenges. Hands-on high tech 101 and the facilitators make it all seem so easy and attainable. My girls never felt overwhelmed with any of the concepts.

Simply put, the Spring Make Festival is a vacation from all the things you have to do and an opportunity to create your heart’s desire using today’s most technologically advanced methods. You are truly only limited by your imagination. It’s the place where your innate creativity meets high tech and anything is possible. It’s teaching our children that they can rule the world with their minds.

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Spring Make Festival is a celebration of high and low-tech ways that people, especially kids, can tap into their creative potential and see firsthand that there are multiple paths to a STEM-focused career. The Spring Make Festival introduces children to the wonders of modern technology in a way that invites participation and does not overwhelm.

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The Make Shop takes that process one step further with a more intimate setting and a docent to explain the entire process as you experience it.

3D printing, vinyl cutting, circuit building, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, Make Festival, Make Shop, Spring Make, MIY, Make it Yourself, Things to do in Chicago with Kids, Spring break in Chicago

My girls are 10 and 13-years-old and they loved the Make Shop. The Make Shop is a place where you and your children can try out the technology literally reshaping the worlds of design and production. My girls were in STEM heaven. Kids today are so tech savvy that they have high expectations from their experiences and my girls were not disappointed.

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The Make Shop introduces you to the kinds of technology that you’ve been hearing a lot about: 3D printing and building, vinyl cutting and LED circuit building. This new facilitated experience allows you the chance to try out some of these cutting-edge fabrication tools in an approachable, beginner-friendly environment. What’s more, you get to bring home the proof you did- a custom craftwork; a constant reminder of the inner designer, maker and tinkerer in all of us. A reminder that there isn’t anything that we can’t do if we set our minds and hearts to it.

3D printing, vinyl cutting, circuit building, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, Make Festival, Make Shop, Spring Make, MIY, Make it Yourself, Things to do in Chicago with Kids, Spring break in Chicago

We are all makers. It is intrinsically human to create, tinker, innovate and express ourselves through made objects. As you create, you will learn about problem-solving skills, the diverse community of local Chicago makers and how making can have a positive impact on communities. By exchanging ideas, we push one another forward to invent and build new and innovative things.

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As a tech aficionado, I felt like I was at a tiny CES. I’ve railed on and on about the wonders of 3D printing and now my girls saw it up close and firsthand. My 10-year-old rattled off about a million things she wants to create and invent on a 3D printer. She’s already put it at the top of her Christmas list for next year. I just loved seeing their eyes light up when they accomplished these feats of technological wonder.

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The Make Shop takes technology that seems like far off ideas to most people and breaks it down into digestible parts. It takes it from overwhelming and unachievable to hands on. It removes the doubt and replaces it with, you did it!

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In the Make Shop, you have access to new tools and that is empowering. It inspires you to creatively problem-solve and invent. We shape our world with the ideas we share and the things we make.

3D printing, vinyl cutting, circuit building, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, Make Festival, Make Shop, Spring Make, MIY, Make it Yourself, Things to do in Chicago with Kids, Spring break in Chicago

Select experiences and events require an additional ticket purchase. A full schedule with pricing along with additional information is available online at msichicago.org/springmake

3D printing, vinyl cutting, circuit building, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, Make Festival, Make Shop, Spring Make, MIY, Make it Yourself, Things to do in Chicago with Kids, Spring break in Chicago

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Best Walt Disney World Resorts for Families to stay on your next family vacation., walt disney world, disney world vacation, 10 tips for maximizing yoru walt disney vacation for free, magic kingdom, happily ever after, mickey mouse, pandora, #disneySMMC, Toy story land, epcot, astro orbitor, rose gold ears, disneyfamilia, familia first, disney family, family travel

I’ve been to Walt Disney World many times and each time I go I learn something new so I am sharing my 10 tips for maximizing your Walt Disney World Vacation for free. These are simple tips that every person that takes a Walt Disney World vacation should know before going. I’ve been about 20 times and some of these I just learned this year when I attended Disney Social Media Moms Celebration so these tips can even teach a seasoned Disney World vacation taker a thing or two or ten. Hold on to your rose gold Mickey Ears because you’re about to be blown away.

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10 tips for maximizing your Walt Disney World Vacation for free

1.There are outlets and charging areas in each park. Some are well-known and easily found others are hidden in plain sight. One option available at all 4 Walt Disney World parks is to drop your phone off at Guest Relations in the park for charging. You provide your own charging cord and they will give you a claim ticket. There are outlets throughout the parks if you know where to look. My favorite charging stations are the ones in the Magic Kingdom, particularly, the false tree stumps across from the bathrooms in the Rapunzel/Tangled area and the outlets in The Yellow FastPass+ Tent in Storybook Circus.

2. You don’t have to pay $3.25 for water to survive the raging Florida heat. Disney World provides free ice water/ water bottle refills at all quick service restaurants. All you have to do is ask.

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3. Everyone knows that you get three fast passes per person per day on your Walt Disney World vacation. Did you know if they are used before 3 pm, you can then schedule 1 more at a time for your group so the earlier you schedule your fast passes, the better.

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4. If you are celebrating a special occasion (birthday, 1st visit, honeymoon and anniversary) every cast member will wish you a happy, pixie dusted celebration and some places you even get royal treatment like free desserts and fast passes. It’s a great way to make a celebration even more special but please, don’t say you’re celebrating if you’re not.

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5. If you love Walt Disney World but hate long lines, have I got a tip for you. Lines are always shorter for rides during parades, fireworks and mealtimes. I know, it is total common sense but if you are like me, you might get swept up in all the Walt Disney World magic and totally lose all that common sense when you hit the parks. I do.

6. Speaking of long lines. I tend to get hangry and a hangry mom is a bad situation. It’s even worse than hangry toddlers. So to avoid both, use Disney’s new mobile food ordering option on the My Disney experience app. It’s like the Starbucks app, you place your order, pick up your food and eat and avoid the lines and the hangries. It’s a win, win, win. Nothing ruins a nice Disney World vacation with your family like turning into monster mom because you need food.

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7.  As I just mentioned the My Disney Experience app, I’m going to mention it again because it is THAT good. I use it to schedule fast passes, meal reservations and know the extended magic hours (if you are staying on grounds) 180 days in advance. Believe me you will want to get those coveted reservations as far in advance as possible. But even if you miss that 180 day window of opportunity, by using the My Disney Experience app, you can check while you are on grounds and reservations open up all the time and if you want to go old school and you like to do your Disney World vacation with no tech whatsoever, most restaurants do take some walk-ups.

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8. Speaking of magic hours, like the way I did that? If you are staying at one of the Disney resorts on grounds or one of their participating partners, you can take advantage of magic hours which are either an extra hour in the morning before the general public is allowed into the park or a few hours at the end of the night. It is a great way to grab photos that are not saturated with strangers and get in line for the most popular rides and avoid some of the wait time. At night, it is so much fun to ride the rides in the dark and also to have access with so many fewer people. I highly recommend planning your days in the park according to the days they have extended hours.

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9. Memory Maker is your friend. As a mom, I’m usually never in the photos and that makes me sad especially when we are making all those amazing memories on our Disney World vacation. However, with Memory Maker I can just let Disney take all the photos and not worry about it. Then I have access to 100s of photos including those hilarious ride photos. It’s simple you find the photographers in the parks ( they are everywhere) and they will take your photo. They scan your magic band and voila, they appear in your my Disney Experience. Same protocol when you get off the rides, go to the kiosk and scan your band. They even do some Disney Magic and add fun little surprises to some of your photos.

 

10. Last but not least, my best tip for maximizing your Walt Disney World vacation for free is to simply be in the moment, enjoy yourself and most importantly enjoy your family. Those little ones will only be little for a little while and it goes by in a flash. Who stole my toddlers and gave me these teens? Luckily, magic is not just for the little ones. Walt Disney World has a way of transforming us all into happy, excited 4-year-olds every time we walk through the gates. That’s the real magic and I love every single minute of it, every single time.

What is your best tip for maximizing your Walt Disney World vacation for free?

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Imagine Dragons, Believer, Imagine Dragons Believer lyrics, the meaning of lyrics, music is life, soundtrack of my life

My girls “anthem” sing Imagine Dragons Believer, at the top of their lungs,  every time it comes on the radio. I know the chorus. It’s a catchy tune but I never paid attention to the lyrics. I never listened to the words, not like I did this morning.

The funny thing is as a tween/teen and even into my twenties, I lived and died by lyrics. I’m a writer, words mean everything to me. But somehow, as a result of my 13 years of living in a mom coma, from which I am just recently waking, those words have been reduced to just the choruses. But not today Satan. As I listened to Believer,  it was as if I was hearing the song for the first time ever and now, I can never unhear it. Nor do I want to.

I’m glad my girls are singing it loud and fiercely because it deserves at least that. It’s a strong song of overcoming life and becoming who you are meant to be. It’s about persistence and growth and never giving up and it is beautiful.

I was struck because, when I actually paid attention to the lyrics, it’s so familiar. It is my life. It’s everything I feel, believe and lived. I’m fairly certain most of us can. I’ve told my girls from birth that beauty is pain and it’s true, just as you can’t hate without love; you cannot fully comprehend beauty in life without having survived the pain. That pain is what makes you appreciate the beauty or notice it at all.

READ ALSO: Girl Where do You Think You’re Going

The pain in our lives that we survive, they make us stronger and make us fighters. We grow in our refusal to give up. We become better versions of ourselves, more sufficient; stronger. Not saying that I’d wish hard times on anyone but life is not for the soft and the pristine. In this world, you need to have experienced some pain in order to find the beauty to carry on because if there is nothing worth fighting for to lose then why bother?

I, honestly, think that pain and hardship makes us kinder more compassionate people. I know that it can harden some but, personally, it made me decide if I wanted to fight or be a victim. Giving up was never an option for me.

The simple fact is that life is hard and sure, it’s at varying degrees for each of us. We all have our strengths and breaking points. You’ve heard the saying, “God never gives you more than you can handle?” Well, I’ve had that saying thrown at me on many occasions in my life and many times I’ve wanted to say, “THIS IS my breaking point!” And yet, here I am. I bend. I don’t break that easily so I guess, he knows my breaking point. I can only guess.

Each tragedy has made me stronger, more understanding of others,  more aware of my own limitations ( or my strengths) and they’ve left me with something to contribute on the subject. There is always a way to make your horrible experience a cautionary tale and save someone else from your same fate.

READ ALSO: All I Can Do is Cry

When you’re living through the pain, it doesn’t feel like there could ever be such a purpose for such physical and mind shattering pain but in retrospect, each horror I have endured in my life; every tragedy and almost moment of complete brokenness has made me stronger and better. Not that I want any more pain in my life but I can see its purpose now and I try to hold on to that when life starts trying to kick the shit out of me.

Life is good. I am blessed, even in my pain because each hurt has helped me to help someone else. I share my pain and others know they are now alone. They leave comments and I can respond thoughtfully and honestly because I do understand. I don’t have to wonder what it feels like to be so beaten down. I’ve been there. I survived and that means they can too because I’m not special, by any stretch of the imagination, I’m just human.

 

 

Imagine Dragons Believer

First things first
I’ma say all the words inside my head
I’m fired up and tired of the way that things have been, oh ooh
The way that things have been, oh ooh
Second thing second
Don’t you tell me what you think that I can be
I’m the one at the sail, I’m the master of my sea, oh ooh
The master of my sea, oh ooh

I was broken from a young age
Taking my sulking to the masses
Write down my poems for the few
That looked at me, took to me, shook to me, feeling me
Singing from heartache from the pain
Taking my message from the veins
Speaking my lesson from the brain
Seeing the beauty through the

You made me a, you made me a believer, believer
(Pain, pain)
You break me down, you build me up, believer, believer
(Pain)
Oh let the bullets fly, oh let them rain
My life, my love, my drive, it came from
(Pain)
You made me a, you made me a believer, believer

Third things third
Send a prayer to the ones up above
All the hate that you’ve heard has turned your spirit to a dove, oh ooh
Your spirit up above, oh ooh

I was choking in the crowd
Building my rain up in the cloud
Falling like ashes to the ground
Hoping my feelings, they would drown
But they never did, ever lived, ebbing and flowing
Inhibited, limited
‘Til it broke up and it rained down
It rained down, like

You made me a, you made me a believer, believer
(Pain, pain)
You break me down, you built me up, believer, believer
(Pain)
I let the bullets fly, oh let them rain
My life, my love, my drive, it came from
(Pain)
You made me a, you made me a believer, believer

Last things last
By the grace of the fire and the flames
You’re the face of the future, the blood in my veins, oh ooh
The blood in my veins, oh ooh
But they never did, ever lived, ebbing and flowing
Inhibited, limited
‘Til it broke up and it rained down
It rained down, like

You made me a, you made me a believer, believer
(Pain, pain)
You break me down, you built me up, believer, believer
(Pain)
I let the bullets fly, oh let them rain
My life, my love, my drive, it came from
(Pain)
You made me a, you made me a believer, believer

I told you it was a powerful song, once you know the lyrics. What are your thoughts on Imagine Dragons Believer?

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Disney Cruise, Disney Dream, Castaway Cruise, Bahamas, Disney Social Media moms Celebration, Disney dream cruise, Walt disney world, #DisneySMMC

Last week at this time, I was debarking from a Disney cruise with my family. We were living the dream, the Disney Dream that is, thanks to Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. Life was magical. Today, not so much. My husband and I both have the flu. Now, I get why they kept handing me sanitized wipes for my hands.

Let me tell you about cruising because a Disney cruise was my first ever cruise. I think the Disney Dream may have ruined me for all other cruises. I’ve always wanted to try a Disney cruise. I love being on the sea, I love traveling with my family and I love, love, love Disney so what was there not to like? But, I had no idea what to expect. I think cruising is one of those things you really need to experience for yourself, like childbirth and marriage, no one can explain in words how it actually feels but I will try.

Cruising on the Disney Dream was like no other vacation we’ve ever had. I used to think to vacation in the great outdoors was the best a family vacation could get but I see now that a Disney cruise gives you the best of both worlds.  It was luxury beyond anything I could have imagined. I get why they call it the Disney dream.

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For someone like me, who is always connected, the Disney Dream allowed me to live one of my biggest dreams…being present and in the moment. Yes, I had WiFi and was still connected but not in the same way as I am in my day to day life. I was semi-connected but I was 100% plugged in and present for my life and my family. I was given the gift of time to breathe and exhale and to look around and see all the beauty and wonder that was right in front of me. I think that is a gift that all of us deserve and can use in today’s world of fast-paced living.

I woke up to sunrises on the horizon of the ocean and went to bed with the sounds of the ocean waves lulling me to sleep. It was definitely magical but of course, it was a Disney cruise so I would expect nothing less.

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Everything You Need to Know About the Disney Dream Cruise

  1. Excellent service from the cast members from everyone on board, everyone was so kind and generous with their time and efforts just as we’ve all come to expect from all Disney employees.
  2. Amazing food, high-quality meals and options galore. You will eat like a King/Queen while onboard a Disney cruise ship.

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3. Amazing Broadway shows like Beauty and the Beast. It was beyond amazing and as a theater freak, I’m telling you, that it is a must see.

4. More food. There was so much good food, I wished a had more days but I’m not sure my jeans would have survived the trip.

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5. Lots of onboard activities for adults too, so there is no chance of getting bored; beer tasting, mixology course, tequila tasting, BINGO, fitness center, several pools, Aqua Duck, Nightclubs and lounges, Senses Spa and Salon and movie theaters.

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6. Relaxation beyond anything you could have ever imagined. There are separate adult only areas and a Spa onboard but beyond that, they’ve even thought of ways to keep the kids occupied so that you can relax.

7. Kids clubs with different age-appropriate activities for kids of all ages. They are full of activities like putt-putt golf, basketball, foosball, dodgeball, crafts, movies and video games to name a few. My girls were at Edge (for kids ages 11-14) and it was amazing because they were in a safe and secure environment being supervised by trained cast members. They got some freedom and it gave us some time alone. It was a nice perk, I hadn’t expected.

 

8. Thoughtfulness, it is apparent in everything from the towel characters they leave on your bed with the chocolates at turndown service to the royal proclamation of your family upon your arrival. The cast members notice the little things and remember your preferences. It really makes for a special trip.

9. Free 24-hour room service, including Mickey Mouse ice cream bars and pizza.

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10. Cleanliness. Our staterooms were spotless and so was everything else on the ship. In fact, they even handed us sanitized wipes before entering all restaurants to help stop the spread of germs.

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11. Unlimited ice cream. This was my daughters’ favorite thing ever. All the soft serve your heart can desire.

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12. Time alone on a private island. Our Disney cruise culminated with us spending our final day on Disney’s Castaway Cay; Disney’s very own private island, perfectly manicured and peaceful right in the middle of the Bahamas. If you’ve never been on a private island, and who of us have been, you are really missing out. It’s having the best of all worlds with just a fraction of the population. We tubed, we rode in a paddle boat, we swam with the fishes, biked and hiked and that was just tip of the iceberg as to what is available. There is parasailing, chartered fishing and so much more but I will save that for another post.

13. You will never forget it and you will be changed for the better once you take a Disney Cruise. The Disney Dream allowed me to slow down enough in my life to set reset and shuffle my priorities. Being with my family on the cruise made me realize how lucky I am and how important and fleeting these next few years are with my family. I want to make the most of every single second. The Disney Dream gave me fresh perspective by letting all the noise of our day-to-day fall away and focus on what’s really important; the people.

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14. Last but not least, the first 24 hours you might experience a sensation of feeling a little unsteady on your legs while the boat is moving. No worries, you just haven’t found your “sea legs” yet. Make sure to take your dramamine before you start to move and you will be fine in no time.

But the Disney Dream is only one ship in a fleet and only one adventure you can take. New itineraries for May through September are available and you can book your very own Disney Cruise starting March 8 at 8 a.m. EST!

Check out the new destinations and set your sights on a high seas vacation brimming with excitement and allure—and be among the first to experience special sailings in Europe, Alaska, the Caribbean or The Bahamas.

This is everything you need to know about the Disney Dream Cruise but if you have any other questions, please leave below and I will answer.

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How Disney Pixar Coco got Mexican Culture Right, Coco, Disney Pixar, Mexico, Why Coco is culturally relevant, What Coco is really about, Dia de los Muertos, Day of the dead

Yesterday, we finally saw Disney Pixar’s Coco and, as a Mexican, it exceeded my expectations in every way. Disney got this movie 100% right from the culture, to the people even down to the small details in the geography. Being Mexican isn’t just where your people are descended from it is a way of life, a way of thinking and believing. It is all about our culture and our culture revolves around one primary belief…family is everything.

Without too many spoilers; Coco is the story of a little boy and aspiring musician, Miguel, who in pursuit of his own dream to be a musician goes against what his family wants for him. Through his disobedience on Dia de los Muertos, he finds himself in the Land of the Dead. In order to return, all he needs to the Land of the Living is a blessing from a family member, a magical marigold petal and a promise he’s not sure he can make.

Through an expected spiritual journey of his own, Miguel comes to realize that while pursuing your dreams and being passionate and unrelenting in that pursuit is something that our people believe very deeply in, family always comes first. Sometimes you have to lose that safety net, one most of us have never been without, to realize what is truly important in this life and beyond.

Director, Lee Unkrich, went above and beyond by sending members of the crew to Mexico for research in order to gain an authentic sense of the country’s music and culture and it shows. I also love that he used an all Latino voice cast including, to name a few, Renee Victor, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Edward James Olmos, Anthony Gonzalez and Ana Ofelia Murguía. It made it feel authentic and not contrived like so many other movies have done. The Spanish language is not merely adding an “o” to every English word and the culture is certainly more than adding heat to everything. I especially loved that in the Land of the Dead some of Mexico’s great icons were included like Frida Kahlo, Cantiflas, Pedro Infante, Jorge Nigrete and Pancho Villa to name just a few.

If you’ve ever wanted to get a real inside feel for what it’s like to be Mexican, to live the culture and to understand what propels us forward, what drives us to live our truth on every level, Coco will lay it all out for you.

I love that it also shows how important music is to our people. It is not just to dance to, though we love a good party, but to pass down the stories of our people, portray the love of our culture and share our deep feelings about life, love and death. The grito, that portrays pure happiness and excitement, was a big part of my childhood coming from a family of musicians and farmers. Farming was the family trade but playing music and singing was the family’s joy, something we’ve always done together.

When I was watching the movie, I was quite emotional because the landscape was the perfect portrayal of my Mexico. The cobblestone streets, the courtyard in the center of the family homes, the iron gate opening to the family’s courtyard, the graveyard, the “chancla”, the musicians in the plaza and the way the people all take care of one another; everyone is family, this is exactly what it was like for me as a child visiting my grandfather and grandmother in my dad’s small village of Etúcuaro, Mexico.

Coco, Disney Pixar, Mexico, Why Coco is culturally relevant, What Coco is really about, Dia de los Muertos, Day of the dead

I think there has always been a common misconception to the outside world that our Day of the Dead is an extension of modern-day Halloween, in which the main focus is dressing up but it is nothing like that. Our Day of the Dead is a beautiful day of reverence; a day to pay homage, honor and remember our loved ones who have passed on. For us, they may be gone but they will never be forgotten. It’s a day to feel close to them and share memories of their lives. It’s a day to celebrate not that they are gone but the lives they lived. I think Coco did an amazing job of portraying that.

The film, Coco, itself is a visually stunning Disney film with a beautiful message; the most important message. I think every child and parent of every culture, nationality and race should watch this movie because when you have nothing else, you always have your family because family is everything. They are who will always catch you when you fall, love you when you are unlovable, forgive you when you do the unforgivable, pick you up when you’ve fallen down and never forget you. We live on through their memories forever so be the best you while you’re here because that’s how you will be remembered for eternity.

Coco is a movie that I can and do plan on handing down to my children and my children’s children. My only regret is that I didn’t get to watch it with my dad and he will be returning to Mexico this week. As a Mexican and a musician himself, I know he will fall in love with Coco and its soundtrack as much as I have. The music is haunting and beautiful and pulls at your heartstrings while making your chest swell with emotion. I was transported back to my childhood and left blurry eyed remembering all those who have crossed over the Marigold bridge.

Coco, Disney Pixar, Mexico, Why Coco is culturally relevant, What Coco is really about, Dia de los Muertos, Day of the dead

I haven’t been to Mexico in years since my grandfather died. My dad has asked me repeatedly to bring my girls to visit him, to show them the land where he was born; the country that is drenched in passion, soul, and an unending belief that through hard work and big dreams anything is possible but the pain of the loss of those I remember so fondly, no longer being there to greet me with a smile and a hug has been too much to bear.

The thought of not greeting the day with the sight of my grandfather’s back as he quietly eats his breakfast of pan con leche or hearing my tio Narci’s Grito or “Orale” when he’s proud of something we did, even if it was just our first steps has been hard for me but now, I want to go to be among the place where they once lived, where their memories are soaked into the furniture and the walls. Where they are known and remembered.

Coco stirred up all the pride I feel for my culture, its people and brought it all to the top. I’m putting it out to the universe to take my daughters to see the land that made us who we are today and visit the graves of our loved ones who came before us and made those dreams possible.

Last night, Coco took home the Golden Globe for Best Animated Motion Picture. Unkrich thanked his cast and crew during his acceptance speech and made a point of highlighting the vital importance of the culture that inspired the film and it was beautiful.

Coco would not exist without the incredible people of Mexico and their tradition of Día de los Muertos.”

I fell in love with the story of Coco, maybe it was because I’m Mexican, maybe because my dad plays the guitar and has been singing songs to me since I was born, maybe because I saw myself and my family in every scene of this movie. All I know is that I love it.

If you’ve seen it, I would love to discuss the film and its themes with you. What did you like or not like about it? What moved you? What did you not understand? Do you have any questions about the cultural side of it that I can explain better?

What did Coco mean to you?

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Netflix, roadtrip, Streamteam, travel, children

The holidays are my favorite time of year. There is just something about the chaos of it all that makes me energized. I thrive on the craziness. It’s my happy place, especially when you add in baked goods, holiday music and all the twinkling lights your heart can desire. There is one part however that I could give a good pass on; holiday travel.

It’s not that I don’t like traveling. I love it. I love visiting family. I love going home. I love seeing new sites and old ones too. I even love the actual act of traveling…the journey, not just the destination but during the holidays, traffic is a special kind of hell. Everyone is trying to get somewhere and all of us are getting nowhere fast. There is nothing I hate more than being stuck. The worst kind of stuck is in an enclosed compartment for long hours with no possibility of escape and children.

My children have fortunately inherited my wanderlust and verve for life. They’ve unfortunately also inherited my lack of patience. On the precipice of tweendom, they are far more pleasing travel companions than they were as toddlers. Aside from the occasional, about 25 times an hour, inquiry, “are we there yet?” they tolerate long trips very well. Nothing a pair of good noise canceling headphones can’t rectify. But when they were tiny, as cute as they were, they were the worst.

Road tripping with toddlers is not for the weak. A few years back on a quick trip to Virginia to check out the city for a job move, we found this out the hard way. The girls were just about 2 and 4-years-old. We decided in our youth and naiveté that a long drive across the country was just what our sanity needed.

The area was one of the most gorgeous parts of the country that I’ve ever been. The weather was perfect, the scenery beautiful, large metropolitan cities concealed by nature. There as nothing not to love about the destination.

The 12-hour journey with toddlers, however, left much to be desired. My, otherwise, sweet loving girls apparently had a time limit to being constrained in those 5 point harnesses. On a good day that was a trip across town. You can imagine their state of mind at the very thought of taking their very first long road trip imprisoned in those body shackles.

My rambunctious eldest insisted on asking, every 20 minutes, “Are we there yet?” I always thought that question was a parenting cliché but now I realize that it is, in fact, the truth of traveling with children. I never realized how frazzling that could be to me as a person. I thought “those” moms have no patience. Just say, “Not yet, in a little while.” Why all the overreaction? Then I realized that it can actually bring you to the brink of insanity and make a grown woman ugly cry if asked in the right voice and enough times over a 12-hour period.

While the oldest was hitting us with the barrage of “Are we there yet”s the youngest was freaking out over a gnat. Yes, a gnat, that supposedly must have been the scariest, meanest, baby eating gnat you ever did see because, god bless her little bitty heart, she screamed bloody murder for at least 3 hours of the trip. We were all ticking time bombs.

In summation, my 4-year-old was wondering if we were there yet, every single second of every single minute we were on the road. My 2-year-old was being terrorized by a gnat and screaming so highly pitched, that all the dogs of the world were seeking her out to eat her and end the misery. I was on the brink of insanity, on the verge of losing the battle and my poor beloved husband was trying to plot his course to the nearest gunsmith to rent a gun and buy a bullet.

Then I pulled out my bag of tricks because obviously, the 1200 DVDs that I brought were not holding their attention. First, we colored (you know those Wonder Crayola colors that magically appear on the special paper but nothing else. That’s what you think, but that’s another story entirely), then we colored the glittery ones, then we colored My Little Pony. We sang, only the songs that they know so we had Bella’s favorites, “Twinkle, Twinkle” and “Mary had a little Lamb” and Gabi’s favorites “Happy Burtday to you!” and ” Five, Five Dolla..Five Dolla foot long!”

Yes, my 2-year-old was obsessed with the Subway commercial jingle. Have you any idea how many times they used to play that thing? I do, because she sang it incessantly for her second year. Don’t get me wrong, in the right context, it was absolutely adorable. She was the cutest thing that ever walked the earth, besides her sister, of course, but everything in moderation. Interrupted only by the “Are we there yet?” inquiry of her sister.

So on the brink of insanity, on the way to the gun shop, we stopped at lunch to let them stretch their tiny legs at some wayward Wendy’s in West Virginia. Not my idea, have you seen Wrong Turn?

We got lunch, they had ants in their pants and couldn’t keep still. We got the food, the chicken flavored whatsamanuggets are not done, still doughy,”EWWWW, gross”, as my daughter liked to say. I returned them. We waited again, I returned with nuggets, all is good in the land.

Then a “fly” dared to descend upon the table. All hell broke loose. Toddlers jumping everywhere, screaming, crying, running away in terror. I mentioned it was a fly and not Godzilla, right? Not a horsefly, just a regular old house fly! In true fix the situation fast fashion, I took off my flip flop and the untimely death of one unsuspecting fly ensued. All was good in the land.

Then Gabs, because all of the attention we just received was apparently not enough for her, screamed, at the absolute top of her lungs “EWWWW, FAARTED.Stinks”. Absolutely, mortified, I say ” OK, honey, it’s OK.” Then I realize, amongst all of the commotion, she did not have any kind of flatulation incident. Apparently, she just thought it was funny and liked to take credit, really loudly.

The point of all of this recounted trauma is that I am so thankful for things like Netflix and noise canceling headphones and toddlers who have grown into tweens who now find many ways of entertaining themselves. Daddy’s hotspot has saved us all many times on long road trips to Disney.

If you are looking for something to binge on your next long trip. My top recommendations are Alias Grace, Godless, She’s Gotta Have it, Glitch, Frontier, Man Down and Stranger Things.

For the tweens, I recommend Riverdale, Stranger Things, Anne with an E and my girls’ favorite, Project MC2.

Netflix, Streamteam, travel, childrenFor the toddlers/preschoolers whom I adore, Octonauts, Beat Bugs, Super Monsters, PJMasks and Word Party which are all available for download.

Netflix, Streamteam, travel, childrenSpeaking of long drives to Disney World, did I mention all of the amazing Disney Movies that Netflix currently has in the queue? What are you binging right now?

Disclosure: I am a member of Netflix’s #StreamTeam but all opinions and genuine love for Netflix are my own.

 

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ATMOSTFX, Halloween, How to win the creepiest house on the block, digital decorating, #ATMOSFX

Disclosure: I was provided some of the products I mentioned by AtmosFX but all opinions and love of Halloween and tips for how to have the creepiest house on the block this Halloween is all mine.I scream! You scream! We all scream for Halloween! Well, you do if you’re doing it right anyway. Is Halloween your favorite holiday? Do you live for all things spooky and spectacular?

I scream! You scream! We all scream for Halloween! Well, you do if you’re doing it right anyway. Is Halloween your favorite holiday? Do you live for all things spooky and spectacular?

It’s Friday the 13th and you can bet that I am binge watching Jason Vorhees slash some teenagers trying to have sex. What a c-block, right? Having Jason Vorhees around is like having little kids in the house but with a machete.The point is I love Halloween, always have.

We are crazy for Halloween. It’s not just me. The Big Guy, our girls, my brothers and sisters and myself. We love to scare and be scared. The bigger the fright, the better the night.

Starting in August (sometimes before) we’re planning our costumes, by September we’re setting up our decorations and by mid-September, you can bet we are binge-watching all the horror movies on all the days. We live for Fright Fest and the Zombie walk. I know, it’s a bit much but it is what it is and it is full on our favorite holiday.

Every year we try to kick it up a notch. The family costumes get a little more intricate and we’re aiming for straight up scary. As the girls get a bit older we are able to decorate a little creepier with a little more of a macabre factor. When they were young, it was all about the blow-up decoration. In fact, we have a witch that we bought the year we found out that we were pregnant with Bella. I can still see her as a toddler sitting on her dad’s lap as they figured out the fan and blew the friendly witch up.

Ever wonder, how to have the creepiest house on the block?

As the girls grew, so did our collection of blow-ups to the point where all the neighborhood children came to the yard, every day to see what was new; parents were pushing strollers down in front of my lawn showing their toddlers that there is nothing to be afraid of at our house. It was “fun”. But this year, we’re upping the wow- EEE as in screaming factor.

ATMOSTFX, Halloween, How to win the creepiest house on the block, digital decorating, #ATMOSFX

This year, thanks to the graciousness of AtmosFX, we have discovered the piece de resistance in outdoor ( and indoor) decorating…Digital decorating! Y’all know we are tech nerds up in this house but this year, with the help of some exciting new products like the ATMOS FX Digital decorating kit and ATMOSFX Media Player with Motion Sensor, Premium window projection material, Hollusion Projection Material ( to hang in the yard and create holograms of the most macabre Halloween site on our block ever), the AtmosFX Digital ProDecorating Kit 2017 and the 3DFX Inflatable Form and accompanying digital download decorations.

This is how to have the creepiest house on the block this Halloween using AMOSFX!

What does all of this mean? This means that in my yard this year, in addition to the blow up witch, black cat, pumpkins, and bat there will be zombies trying to escape from the house, dancing skeletons in the graveyard assembled in our front yard and greetings from a particularly nefarious child ghoul at our front door, all accompanied by a spooky soundtrack, a smoke machine and strobe lights. I seriously can’t wait.

The best part is, not only do we get to earn the title of scariest house in the neighborhood this year, at Christmas time we simply change the projections and become the most elaborately decorated house in the neighborhood. I’ve always wanted to put a Nutcracker scene in the yard since our girls are ballerinas and it has been such a big part of our lives for the past 8 years. This year, I can do that because I can project a winter wonderland, complete with Santa and the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Nutcracker himself. It’s going to be awesome but first, we scare the neighborhood this Halloween.

If you love Halloween scares as much as we do, and you probably do, I would highly recommend checking out ATMOSFX. There is still time to get your scare on this Halloween Night!

I’m sharing some pics in this post but will be sure to share some live video on Halloween night of all the decorations in action.

ATMOSTFX, Halloween, How to win the creepiest house on the block, digital decorating, #ATMOSFX

What are you dressing as for Halloween this year? What’s your favorite decoration/fright that you’ve ever seen while trick or treating or out on Halloween night? What do you do to be the creepiest house on the block? Have you ever used ATMOSFX to kick your Halloween decorations up a digital notch?

 

 

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Eminem, Marshall Mathers, BET Awards, Donald Trump

Marshall Mathers, rapper Eminem, tore into President Donald Trump during a ferocious acapella freestyle titled “The Storm” at the BET Hip Hop Awards on Tuesday. Eminem opened the four-minute tirade with a reference to Trump’s ridiculous “calm before the storm” wisecrack before tearing Trump apart over immigration, corruption, white supremacy, the NFL, gun control, environmental disasters and all the other BS he’s done since taking office.

Eminem is my hero and The Storm is my anthem.

Like so many Americans, Eminem is tired of watching silently as our country is being torn down and ripped apart at the seams. Those of us who see the irreparable damage that is being done to our citizens, our country and our reputation have been trying to find a way to make our voices heard.

We protest. We take knees. We stand up. We yell though it feels like into the abyss. I have used my venue and my voice first to convince my fellow citizens to never allow this ill-equipped and unqualified man to run our country. When he became our president, I weeped and became despondent because how could those of us who knew, history and politics, allow those of you who don’t to make such a dire choice? I felt like I failed in educating you.

Eminem, Marshall Mathers, BET Awards, Donald Trump

Then, I was angry because we were strapped in and on this ride for the next four years. I no longer yelled because yelling fell on deaf ears. I tried to respectfully, point out the issues. I feel it’s my responsibility to myself to make sure that the world keeps its eyes open. I feel it is my responsibility as a mother to fight for a better world for my children.

I changed my plan for change, how I would go about it but every single one of us who is watching with a functional brain, a loving heart and the belief in human equality and true democracy feels the frustration and angst bubbling beneath the surface about to boil over.

Eminem, The Storm, Marshall Mathers, BET Awards, Donald Trump

Every word Eminem spoke was the truth.

I am not one to go about change by cracking jokes at the expense of our president. Even though I detest the man and his lack of experience, the way he is heading us straight for civil and nuclear war, I refuse to mock the office he holds because I do believe in democracy. I believe in America but the America we are living in today since Trump took office, is one of discord and hatred. We are hated from afar and we are hated from within.

 

I’ve felt for a long time that the president is playing a game of shells.He’s got us debating semantics when children are dying because we’d rather have our guns than our people. While we are busy looking over “there” he is doing something twice as horrid over “here.” The news covers his tweets but what about his lack of compassion for the people of Puerto Rico, the wall he’s building to keep Mexico out, a fight he picked with the NFL over men taking a knee for equality when he allowed KKK clansmen to run a woman over because they had a permit. He is saying and doing things that could very well lead to our demise as a people and as a country. Why is he inciting a nuclear war by playing chicken with a lunatic? Is his ego so big that he’d risk all of our lives?

Do you think Eminem went too far or are you balling up a fist?

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NLF,Donald Trump, Take a Knee, #TakeAKnee, Equality, lives matter

I’ve been trying to figure out what exactly I wanted to say about this NFL take a knee situation and Donald Trump’s condemnation of it. I can’t believe how divided the country has become over the NFL taking a knee.  Are we really so collectively ignorant that we don’t understand what it’s about? I mean what is so controversial about taking a knee in silent protest of the divisive racism that plagues our nation currently, always if we’re being honest, only more openly these days?

I say shut up and take a knee. In my world, it is the only thing to do. Unless you want to stand up and throat punch racists, bigots and misogynists all day long like some kind of throat punching righter of wrongs superhero. I suspect it would be a full-time job, especially in Trump’s America.

Let’s get some facts straight:

  • In the United States, we have the right to peaceful protest.
  • Nowhere in the constitution does it demand that we stand for the National Anthem and wouldn’t we be hypocrites if we did stand to respectfully salute a country that only protects and respects some of us. This is no reflection of our military, I am referring to the laws in this country that allows us to treat some people as less than.
  • We are “the people” of “we the people” and we have every right to demand that equality.
  • You can take a knee and 1000% support our military. The National Anthem is not a homage we pay to our service men before every national sporting event.
  • Donald Trump picked a fight because he is a bully and that’s what he does. Apparently, his social feeds were lacking in drama so he created some.

To me, this entire controversy is stupid because we should all be taking a knee to demand equality for all Americans. If you are standing, either you don’t understand why the knee is being taken or you are part of the problem. I honestly think every person in the United States who believes in equality should take a knee. We should do a national knee in and refuse to move until things change. I’ve got time. I can type in a kneeling position.

This morning I read a post in which the author said that the NFL is messing up. They are putting asunder what is already not divided, they are bucking up the system and in the process messing up what America is all about….football. She spoke of the one nation of football under God and I kind of wanted to puke.

According to her, its all kumbaya and rainbows in the stands but these damn, political football players with all their lofty dreams of equality and oneness are messing up her tailgating and football time. In her mind, the NFL players are part of the problem. They only need look into the stands to see that the country is united in football. Can’t we all just get along?

Firstly, this woman is part of the problem. Secondly, I was very recently in the stands and just like the United States, if you are sitting in the wrong section, it’s not so comfortable and united. It’s pretty fucking scary and intimidating. It’s like openly accepted prejudice. As a Latina woman, it felt the same as being the only minority in an all-white, male event.

Sure, it’s awesome if you’re part of the majority. For you, it’s all chicken wings and beer, extraneous high fives and lots of shouting. For the minority, the wrong person in the wrong place, wrong color at the wrong time, it is uncomfortable AF. There I stood, in the wrong section, rooting for the wrong team.

Aside from the expected normal rude, loud, obnoxious behavior that anyone tends to get being the minority anywhere, especially at an organized sporting event where alcohol is sold to fuel the fire, one particularly deranged fan took it even further and personally, tried to pick a fight with me by first accusing me of stealing his seat to then accusing me of stealing his water? I was pretty flabbergasted because a) I’m an adult b) I had the brains to buy 4 bottles of water in 100 degree temperature when I knew I was in row 1 and my out of shape, old-self wasn’t going to be making multiple trips up and down those stadium stairs and c) I.AM.GROWN !

Now, if I were a meeker woman this short, fat, balding loud man would have made me feel threatened and scared. As it were, he just really pissed me off and I was completely prepared to throw his ass over the railing and go to jail for it because I can no longer shut my mouth while some loud-mouthed white guy tries to intimidate me into shutting up and staying in line. That is the problem.

And this woman who says the NFL players only need to look to the stands, to their fans, to see the cohesiveness and unitedness of this great nation under God, well, that broad is delusional. She in particular needs to take a knee because she is the biggest part of the problem. She refuses to believe there is a problem because, for her, there is no problem. It must be nice to have the option to not see the problem because it does not affect you whatsoever but for those who it does, standing up for the National Anthem is not an option. We all need to take a collective knee to stand up for equality.

What is your opinion and why on the NFL players taking a knee?

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Netflix, Stefani Germanotta, Joanna, Lady Gaga, Gaga, Five Foot Two, Loss, Grief, miscarriage

Take my hand, stay Joanne
Heaven’s not ready for you
Every part of my aching heart
Needs you more than the angels do

 

Earlier this month, my Aunt died and suddenly, I was consumed with people and things that I had pushed down into the deepest recesses of my heart. I was stunned and shocked and it brought up all of these feelings of loss for me; from the life-changing loss of my own pregnancy to the close losses of my Uncle Ramon, my Uncle Narciso and then that took me down a rabbit hole of what ifs…what happens when my parents die. How will I survive? You survive by going on, putting one foot in front of the other and smiling when you feel like dying and wearing big sunglasses so no one sees the constant tears in your eyes.

I watched my uncle and his sons willing with everything inside of them to stay upright when all they wanted to do was collapse into that all too familiar, to me, fetal position on the floor. It’s been 5 years but I remember that feeling of utter hopelessness and unrecoverable loss that leaves you discombobulated and broken beyond repair like it was yesterday. All I could do was love them and try to be there to lean on.

Loss and grief are a bizarre thing. They can take any form they want at any time. I always refer to them as emotional time bombs but make no mistake, they can be absolutely nuclear on impact. One minute you are laughing at something funny you are remembering about the person you lost, then maybe you are smiling remembering their smile or the way they held your hand, then the next you are so angry that you want to punch the entire world in the throat and still in another you are overcome with sadness and emptiness realizing you will never hear them speak your name ever again and sometimes, that is too much to stay standing.

It’s bad enough when you are the one it’s happening to but it is so much worse, for me anyway, to helplessly watch as someone I love goes through it. All I want to do is make it better for them but I know from experience that the only way to truly get through it is to feel every single one of those feelings. It’s nature’s way of severing the tether in a slow, gradual way. Our minds can’t handle pure pain all at once. I remember feeling like I would surely break and yet, I survived. I am definitely scarred by each loss, some more than others, but they leave their mark.

 

If you could I know that you’d stay
We both know things don’t work that way
I promised I wouldn’t say goodbye
So I grin and my voice gets thin

Girl, where do you think you’re goin’?
Where do you think you’re goin’?
Goin’, girl?
Girl, where do you think you’re goin’?
Where do you think you’re goin’?
Goin’, girl?

 

I don’t normally find that any two losses are the same, not equal even to ourselves and they all manifest differently. Grieving is something so very personal. There is no right or wrong way to do it. We all just try to survive from one day to the next. The thing is it doesn’t just affect us. It has ripples and it changes everyone it touches.

Recently, I watched a documentary on Netflix, Gaga: Five foot Two and I felt a connection to her song, Joanne. I think by seeing the documentary and learning more about her life and the meaning behind the song, I could relate to her vulnerability in a way I never have before. I saw the woman, Stefani Germanotta, and not the icon Lady Gaga and honestly, I found her so endearing in her vulnerability.

Netflix, Stefani Germanotta, Joanna, Lady Gaga, Gaga, Five Foot Two, Loss, Grief, miscarriage

 

You know we tend to put up fences and build walls around ourselves to protect us from public scrutiny. I don’t just mean celebrities like Lady Gaga but each and every one of us. It’s human nature to preserve our most vulnerable parts. Mine’s always been more of a see-thru chain link that you can see what’s going on but still, I protect myself. That’s one of the reasons that I don’t do a lot of videos. You’ve read about my howling in pain and grief at the loss of my pregnancy but you never actually saw it because there’s a vulnerability even I can’t go to about some things.

Anyways, this documentary has me full of admiration for what Stefani Germanotta does and who she is in spite of however much pain she is suffering. She uses it to fuel her art. She is no one’s victim. She is honest, raw, funny and completely in love with her family and her fans. She’s a fierce and mighty woman and in her movie you see the sacrifices she makes for her art. She is a bootstrapper. This is something we share in common.

I have a theory that everybody in the world chooses to either be a victim and wallow in their circumstances or pull themselves up by their bootstraps and become stronger because of the hard parts. There is no such thing as try, we have to choose one or the other and do it. I refuse to lay down and give up; that’s not me. I don’t even know how to do that. I tried once. It didn’t take.

Netflix, Stefani Germanotta, Joanna, Lady Gaga, Gaga, Five Foot Two, Loss, Grief, miscarriage

 

I’ve been listening to Joanne almost constantly since seeing the documentary and it has become an anthem for strength for me. It’s about letting go, even when you don’t want to. It’s about the sadness and beauty in having had the chance to love someone, maybe even someone you never got the chance to properly meet, and the pain and vulnerability of maneuvering through those most painful moments in your life.

It’s about embracing that vulnerability, relinquishing control and giving yourself over to the acceptance of the pain of the loss. Swimming in the letting go, letting it wash over you like warm waves in the sunshine is the only way to become one with it. It’s the only way to survive it and it is beautiful and ugly and amazing and horrible all at the same time.

 

Honestly, I know where you’re goin’
And baby, you’re just movin’ on
And I after love you even if I can’t
See you anymore can’t wait to see you soar

Girl, where do you think you’re goin’?
Where do you think you’re goin’
Goin’, girl?
Girl, where do you think you’re goin’?
Where do you think you’re goin’
Goin’, girl?

 

Have you seen the Netflix documentary Gaga; Five Foot Two and if not, please do and tell me what you think in the comments.

Disclosure: I am a Netflix StreamTeam member but the above post about my new found admiration for Lady Gaga and my connection with the documentary Gaga: Five Feet Two and the album Joanne are all my own.

 

 

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