Serial Thoughts and References

I have come to the conclusion that Adnan is innocent and there has not been a podcast, interview, comment or thread that has swayed me from that belief.

I’ve heard opinions that Sarah Koenig and the Serial team have shown bias. “Jay was painted a criminal while Adnan was strongly favored in the series” and I overall disagree with these opinions.  By the end of episode 12 I feel like we are left to consider that either Adnan is guilty or has really bad luck. This did not sit well with me. Contrary to what many believe I thought Serial was the hardest on Adnan.

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American Sniper

American Sniper. Wow. Incredible movie. While I’m sitting here in a heated home pondering my decision to post this or not-there are US soldiers in situations right now that we cannot even begin to understand. Further to that they come home from this completely different way of life and watch civilians debate or celebrate the most ridiculous subjects (myself included). We can argue all day about the US’s place in any war, but that’s not what this post is meant for. When a man/woman signs up to protect our country-they make the decision (no matter what leader is in office) to defend us. They willfully put their lives on the line for our freedom. I’ve always had the utmost respect and admiration to our military force, but i still can’t comprehend their sacrifices. And I quickly forget when I’m dealing with stupid trivial shit that our military is out there with such a greater responsibility to bear in conditions unknown, away from their family, making decisions a majority of us would never have to consider. Then I try to imagine adjusting to civilian life. Culture shock, PTSD, people who judge you but do not walk a mile in your shoes. I plead ignorance, but my mind is consumed with what our soldiers go through, what the families of the military go through. My father in law always tells us stories about Vietnam that blow my mind. It just really hit hard and consumed my awareness. And the whole point to this is-at the beginning of this blog I contemplate even posting this because my daily thoughts/decisions can be so trivial and dumb compared to what these individuals live through.
In the end I don’t think soldiers are looking for sympathy or to be celebrated-they are most of the time humble and don’t look for recognition but are proud to do their jobs. They are our true heroes though and our “hard days” at work have nothing on theirs. (Doctors, Nurses, Rescuers, Law Enforcement aside)
The country is an uproar for what Michael Moore and Seth Rogen tweeted and I thought what they both said were thoughtless and knee jerk reactions to a jaw dropping, leave the theatre in silence masterpiece. The movie is a great eye opener and way to start these conversations, but it’s so much more than a well written, beautifully performed film. It is a wake up call.
We speak from experiences. It has been 8 days since I watched the film and my mind is still racing. Our attention span in the digital/Internet age is extremely short. We forgot about the Ebola crisis, the missing MH370 plane, and other sensationalized/non sensationalized media blitzes, but we cannot forget to be grateful for these men and women. We cannot forget to recognize the sacrifices & courage of those in the US military.
I get what Michael Moore so ignorantly tried to convey to us and that was, “don’t you feel bad for the Iraqi people who were invaded?” “would you call an Iraqi sniper a hero?” And “if Iraq invaded us would you stay behind and fight for the US?” And his freedom of speech is just that: his Freedom. Our soldiers uphold that freedom. It is naive and entitled to be the one who thinks these rights cannot be taken from us without our government & military presence. Moore’s attitude seems sure he’d have the same liberties without the military’s impact. I do sympathize with innocent victims of any crime/conflict or war, but it is clear to me that the reason I can vote, bear arms, be in a workplace with men as my equals , wear a skirt above my knees, show my face, write this blog will come back to the military and our government protecting my right to do so. In a perfect world we would not need to go to war to protect these liberties, but we are not in a perfect world and when it comes time that the nation is forced to take action-they do so with us, our constitutional rights and this land in mind to protect. Iraqis can and may celebrate their forces Michael Moore (if they are free to do so) & we as Americans will celebrate & honor ours & when I’m aware of the privileges I have because of them, I will always hold our military in the highest regards.

“anthology of anonymoUS” (What Is It That Bullies You?)

Memories of my childhood  make me smile, laugh, cry, cringe, regret, regress, and reflect.   There was someone in Jr. High who bullied me, and during that time I was a tornado of negative emotions with no real understanding of why it was happening.  A classmate of mine, Michael Anthony (who you have read about before For Billy: The Movie) made it his goal to show people who have had a bullying experience that we are not alone.

“The anonymoUS initiative  is a non-profit anti-bullying movement dedicated to helping all people — all ages, all races, all demographics and all orientations — come out, come together and overcome the things that bully them. What began as a simple letter writing campaign has since exploded into an artistic movement, inspiring a feature-length documentary, a book, a musical soundtrack and a live stage show; all focused on exploring the most painful bully of all.”

anthology of anonymoUS (The Book): A powerful collection of 99 responses to the question: “What is it that bullies you?”   This book is a unique look into raw, uncensored truths, experiences, and emotions that will amaze you.  Each story, poem, email, confession is different, yet we can all relate.  Michael Anthony inspired these anonymoUS authors to band together and show us all “Even in our darkest moments, we are never alone.”  Order your copy of this book today! For each copy of the “anthology of anonymoUS” that is purchased through this site (, $1 will be donated to an anti-bullying program that operates within the delivery zip code.  It is extremely important to consider that by referring this book to your friends, parents, grandparents, cousins, uncles, aunts, teachers you could be helping someone going through a difficult time.

anonymUSe (The Music): “An 18-track musical collection that explores our inner bullies through an eclectic mix of folk, jazz, new age, R& B, spoken word and dance music.”  Anthony asked a group of talented musicians to respond in song to a variety of the anonymoUS written pieces. Beautiful music has been created to release and re-illustrate the pain someone has once gone through (if this isn’t Karma for the bullying, I don’t what is!) The pain someone has felt, has now been turned into a candid,amazing song.   This is also one of the first non-profits EVER to release a soundtrack along with its book. Show your support to these artists by ordering your soundtrack today and be sure to get a listen preview at the anonymoUSe site.

Let’s face it, we know Michael Anthony is not stopping with a book and a CD.  The anonymoUS initiative isn’t even CLOSE to being done yet.  Plans for a play and workshops are also in the mix, so keep visiting for more information, updates and news.    I also recommend you follow Michael Anthony on Facebook, or YouTube.

Since I could not word it better myself (to describe the incredible achievements and drive this man has), I will end this blog with more information on Michael Anthony and why he is making my generation PROUD!

Michael Anthony Nalepa is a Wheeling, Illinois native who now works as a professional writer and producer in Los Angeles. His work has been featured in Glamour, The Advocate, Reader’s Digest, TV Guide and TMZ, as well as on NBC, Country Music Television, Sirius Radio and TV Guide Network.
For four years, he served as Creative Director of Alternative Programming for the Celebration Theatre and now hosts and his own award-winning theatrical variety hour at Lilly Tomlin’s LAGLC theatre in Hollywood.
His work as an equal rights activist launched the “anonymoUS initiative”, an international letter writing campaign dedicated to helping people of all ages, races and orientations overcome what bullies them through art and activism. An anti-bullying documentary based on Michael’s childhood in Wheeling, IL is slated for national release in 2013.



Thank You, Gracias, Danke, ありがとう(How to say “Thank-You” in a Card)

As I prepare to write close to 100 Thank-You cards for my daughter’s 1st Birthday, I get overwhelmed with gratitude.  I am truly a thankful person and the generosity of others amazes me.  The problem when I write thank-you cards is that I write too much, they take forever and I never end up sending them which is completely embarrassing to me. It is so important to give thanks!  A few tips/tricks I am using for this go around:

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R.I.P. Customer Service (Part 1)

My recent service experiences as a customer lead me to the cynical conclusion that we live in a world of assholes and assumptions. I posted this as my Facebook status yesterday and many people commented on their own gripes of the new millennium help standards. I have 16 years practice  in the service industry.  Each year I learn how to improve my level of assistance when working with clients.  At the risk of sounding high and mighty; I feel when I am the consumer and have a complaint, issue or question there are very few reps who meet my expectations on how they handle my concern. I shouldn’t have to elaborate that the title of this blog is an indication that customer service is dead. Some of the reasons for the demise are

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Red Hot at The Oscars

It made my Sunday night to see RED on the Red Carpet of the 83rd Annual Academy Awards. My top three picks at the 2011 Oscars all donned this hue and looked stunning.

  1. Jennifer Lawrence: Nominated for best actress in a leading role for Winter’s Bone.  I have to admit I had no idea who Jennifer Lawrence was until I watched the Oscars. Simply put; she is gorgeous.  This dress was my favorite. I am such a fan of the simple elegance this dress exudes. Continue reading

For Billy: The Movie

A 2009 study by the Indicators of School Crime and Safety showed that 1/3 of teens reported being bullied at school. An even more alarming statistic showed that school bullying can be related to violent actions, including suicides outside of school.  It is truly outrageous and heartbreaking to think of a young child or teen who thinks there is “no way out”  that they actually contemplate taking and in some cases do take their own lives.   A fellow WHS alum of mine, Michael Anthony is standing up and making an effort for change. It all started with this hilarious You Tube video.

Michael’s video sparked a reaction in many people and the documentary, For Billy: The Movie, was created.  After posting the You Tube video, “It Gets Better:” “Michael received over 100 responses from friends and strangers alike; however, one letter in particular changed the course of Michael’s life. Simply signed “Billy”, this semi-anonymous note was written by a boy from Michael’s hometown, one who currently attended his very same high school. In the letter, Billy shared his personal struggle with his sexuality and the sadness it has created in his life – a story Michael found all too familiar.” I urge you to go to the For Billy: the movie website and read Billy’s letter, find out how you can help, donate and mark your calendars for the event:  BE: The Exhibit on March 18th in Arlington Heights, IL.  I asked Michael if I could write this blog because it is such an important message to send to kid and adults. He was kind enough to let me share this story and his objective of this documentary: “What do I hope to accomplish from this? My goal is this…You can’t change the world, but you CAN change conflicted hearts, the people that are on the border of accepting everyone. Maybe I can change 10 people in Wheeling. Maybe my media coverage can change 100 people in Illinois. Maybe this documentary can change 100 people in each state. That’s 5,000 people who, before, weren’t accepting or aware of our culture of bullying, homophobia and ignorance. 5,000 people can change the world, I think. That’s what I hope to accomplish.” Michael’s open heart and kindness gives me hope and I feel so proud to support his vision with this movement.  If you have been following my blog, I hope you gather that I am a strong believer in accepting others for who they are.  This is the quintessential time to act on that belief ! See you on the 18th and special thanks to Michael Anthony for the message, movie and motivation to stand up for our youth!!

Don’t want to be called “Pee-Pants?” Try Kegel Exercises.

A Kegel Exercise is the contracting and relaxing of muscles that form part of the pelvic floor.  I found out about these when I was about 18 years old and to be honest, I had a “WTF?” moment.  It was kind of like, “You can exercise your pum pum…say what??”

Turns out it was the truth and all women should do these to prevent pelvic organ prolapse ( a condition that sometimes results in urine leakage & uncomfortable pelvice pressure), combat urinary problems, & improve your sex life.   After researching the internet for the best explanation of these, I found the Mayo-Clinic website was really informative to share below:

  • Find the right muscles. Insert a finger inside your vagina and try to squeeze the surrounding muscles. You should feel your vagina tighten and your pelvic floor move upward. Then relax your muscles and feel your pelvic floor return to the starting position. You can also try to stop the flow of urine when you urinate. If you succeed, you’ve got the basic move. Don’t make a habit of starting and stopping your urine stream, though. Doing Kegel exercises with a full bladder or while emptying your bladder can actually weaken the muscles, as well as lead to incomplete emptying of the bladder — which increases the risk of a urinary tract infection. ( Click HERE for Diagram of find the right muscle)
  • Perfect your technique. Once you’ve identified your pelvic floor muscles, empty your bladder and sit or lie down. Contract your pelvic floor muscles, hold the contraction for five seconds, then relax for five seconds. Try it four or five times in a row. Work up to keeping the muscles contracted for 10 seconds at a time, relaxing for 10 seconds between contractions
  • Maintain your focus. For best results, focus on tightening only your pelvic floor muscles. Be careful not to flex the muscles in your abdomen, thighs or buttocks. Avoid holding your breath. Instead, breathe freely during the exercises.
  • Repeat three times a day. Aim for at least three sets of 10 repetitions a day. You might make a practice of fitting in a set every time you do a routine task, such as checking email, commuting to work, preparing meals or watching TV

No age is too late to start these. Talk to your doctor if you have any trouble, your doctor can walk you through the right way to do the Kegel Excercises.

Girls are Sports Fans too!

The Bears won the Superbowl in 1985 and I was 4 years old. My parents dressed me from head to toe in boys Chicago Bears clothes. I look back on the picture proudly because to this day the Bears are my all time favorite team; I just wish my outfit was more girly & cute.  For many years I bought boys/men’s sportswear to pay homage to my favorite teams.   Don’t get me wrong, there was a very small selection of women’s apparel, but it was slim pickings for sure.  In 2007 Alyssa Milano (yes, Samantha from “Who’s The Boss,”) debuted her Touch collection which includes every sports team you could think of from the NFL, MLB, NHL, NCAA & NBA!  Visit Fandalia to find your faves. It’s refreshing to see such diverse and trendy T’s, jackets, & tanks to represent your favorite sports team. Girls LOVE Sports too and now we can actually wear something fitting and flattering.

Dear Ms. Lohan, You are a HOT MESS, but I love that dress!

Where did the talented and adorable actress from the 1998 remake of Parent Trap go?  She rocked that english accent like nobody’s business and had gorgeous red locks of luxury.  What was there not to love? I was super bummed when I came to the realization that there was only 1 of her when she acted her little heart out as twin girls trying to get her divorced p’s back together in a captivating performance (in my opinion she was just shy of an Oscar 6 years later the actress reappeared in Mean Girls and was an instant “it” girl in Hollywood. Men wanted her and women wanted to be her (both a little scary since she was only a teenage girl) She was beautiful, healthy and greatest of all a real-life “ginge.” She joined the elite Ginge Hot List (members also include Wilma Flinstone, Shaun White, Prince Harry, Lucille Ball etc…). Talented Ginges are RARE to come by, hotter ginges are even more rare. The world fell in love with Lindsay overnight. Sadly the put together LL fell apart as quick as her rise to the top.  A downward spiral of events from anorexia, DUI’s, partying, drugs, relationship probs, rehab, lawsuits, jail and the most current grand theft case plagued LL. One of the worst changes of all, LL took that gingery hair and turned it blonde.  This girl can’t catch a break, but does she deserve one? Definitely not my place to decide! On a serious note I do wish well for Ms. Lohan and hope she can pull it together and get back to the “Mean Girl” years of her career. Frankly this blog is dedicated to the amazing and popular white dress she wore to court on Wednesday.  Peeps are in a frenzy for this Kimberly Ovitz mini-dress and apparently it is sold out and doesn’t even become available for a couple months.  I don’t think its as big of deal as others may think that she wore it to court, I mean what’s the biggie?  Out of all the things LL did, people are shocked by a dress? LOL Amazing what we focus on. Anyways here is a pic of LL (at a healthy weight) in the form-fitting Basic Instinct-esque frock.  Although Ms. Lohan appears to be a hot mess, I do love that dress!