Getting Personal #223: Ten Years

Image Credit: BrainyQuote

Today marks TEN YEARS since Al and I went on our first date.

I can’t believe it!

Here are my other dating anniversary posts:


Here are ten photos that are special to me.

November 2010: This was a candid shot taken at the Alpha Sigma Tau Anchor Banquet, just a couple months after we started dating. Photo Credit: Tina Bird Stewart.
Spring 2011: Al and my parents came to Longwood for the weekend when I received my Citizen Leader Award!
Halloween 2011: The love of Star Wars is strong with us.
Halloween 2013: We were on a mission from God.
July 2015: One of my all-time favorite engagement photos!
October 2015: With friends, we did an escape room, played laser tag, ate at Mama J’s and Bottoms Up pizza, and watched movies. This photo was taken in downtown Richmond.
November 2015: Standing in front of the floor-to-ceiling stained glass piece.
November 2015: I love the black and white. Image Credit: Stellar Exposures
December 2019: Al’s company Christmas party!
August 2020: My birthday celebration!

Happy Anniversary, Al! I love you.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #222: September Goals

Image Credit: Entrepreneur Delights

Welcome back!


Here are my goals for the month of September:

  1. Celebrate our 10-year dating anniversary!
  2. Get the photos and other wall hanging items off the floor in my office and get them on the walls.
  3. Make at least one thrift store donation run.
  4. Finish getting my P.E.O. President materials organized.
  5. Publish a post about my July Camp NaNoWriMo session.
  6. List at least one of my three boxes of American Girl items for sale.
  7. Keep up with my pen pals!
  8. Publish at least one Writing Prompt post.
  9. Put away all the clean laundry.
  10. Finish re-organizing the filing system.
  11. Finish de-cluttering the dining room buffet.

What about you? Do you have any goals for the month of September?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #221: August Goals Recap

Image Credit: pinterest.com

Welcome back!

Here’s the link to my August Goals post: Getting Personal #219: August Goals

Here are my goals for the month of August:

  1. Donate blood. — Semi-Achieved.
  2. Celebrate my birthday! — Accomplished!
  3. Finish the book I’m currently reading, and publish the review. — Accomplished!
  4. Get the photos and other wall hanging items off the floor in my office and get them on the walls. — Did not accomplish.
  5. Make at least one thrift store donation run. — Accomplished!
  6. Start the second round of editing for my first novel – Translate my handwritten notes from April’s Camp NaNoWriMo session into my computer. — Accomplished!
  7. Get my P.E.O. President materials organized. — Semi-Achieved.
  8. Write a blog post about my July Camp NaNoWriMo session. — Did not accomplish.
  9. Put away all the clean laundry. — Did not accomplish.
  10. Commit to putting away clean laundry in a more organized, efficient manner. — Semi-Achieved.
  11. Participate in a fun pet portrait session that was a giveaway win. — Accomplished!
  12. Finish re-organizing the filing system. — Did not accomplish.
  13. Finish de-cluttering the dining room buffet. — Did not accomplish.

August was a bit of a strange month!

My iron was high enough to donate blood at our drive on August 1st, but I wasn’t able to fill the bag. I got SO CLOSE, and my vein decided to clot up at the very end. I was so mad. But, I’m able to donate again in October.

I enjoyed my birthday, as much as I could with COVID-19. It fell on a Friday. I took the afternoon off of work, started a Jurassic Park movie marathon, and then my mom had us over for Cuban sandwiches, sweet potato fries, ice cream, and chewy fudge brownies. I felt so much love! Debbie D. was there, and I was able to celebrate my birthday with my Grandpa for the first time in years.

I finished reading Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson.

At the end of the month, I was asked to take mandatory leave. One of those days was August 24th, so I capitalized on the time off to make some progress on the second draft of my first novel. I was blown away with the headway I made. I was able to edit the first 40 chapters! And then I was able to finish the draft on Friday afternoon. I currently have 48 chapters. I’m excited to send it to my list of readers this week!

The house projects are still works in progress. This past weekend, however, I made more progress with my office, a.k.a. the Lady Lounge. I took out the old set of three DVD shelves, removed a full bag of trash, dusted thoroughly, and gathered several boxes for donation. Al helped me assemble my new six-shelf room organizer and navy blue bins, and it looks so much better. The dogs and I have a lot more room to navigate now!

I also posted 45 photos of American Girl doll clothes and accessories on social media, and made my first sale! I shipped those items off today. I still have three plastic storage boxes of items to photograph and post!


What about you? Did you have any goals for the month of August?

Come back tomorrow to see my goals for September!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #91: “Just Mercy”

I was fortunate enough to find my copy through a friend’s store on eBay. I’d heard about the book for a good while, and knew I wanted to see the movie. But, I’m the type of person that likes to read the book before seeing the movie.

Bryan Stevenson is an incredible man. This book is not only a memoir, but a history lesson.

Stevenson graduated from Harvard Law School, moved to Atlanta, and then heard about a man on death row named Walter McMillan. He moved to Alabama to run the Southern Center for Human Rights operation in Montgomery. He is the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). As of August 2016, EJI has saved 125 men from death.

It took me a lot longer than usual to finish this book. I wanted to take my time with it. Ever since the murder of George Floyd in May, I’ve wanted to learn as much as I can about people of color. This book is no exception – Stevenson writes about the appalling history of slavery, Jim Crow, lynchings, disproportionate arrests and heavy sentences, and the struggle of getting relief and overturned convictions for significant sentences, along with wrongfully imprisoned people.

Stevenson’s stories of these people on death row in multiple states, mostly men, but also a few women, were heartbreaking. Some were sentenced to death for crimes that were committed when they were children. Others were prosecuted to the maximum, when the laws that should have shielded them were blatantly ignored. There are more than a few people with physical and intellectual disabilities on death row in the United States.

This is a book that I think everyone should read. Even though it was published in 2014, it is definitely still relevant today.

I’m looking forward to seeing the movie adaptation soon.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Tag #97: “The Bookish Heavenly Virtues Tag”

Image Credit: Ebook Friendly

I spotted this tag on Destiny’s blog, Howling Libraries!

Here’s the link to Destiny’s post: The Bookish Heavenly Virtues Tag

Here we go!


CHASTITY: Which author/book/series do you wish you had never read?

The Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth. I liked Divergent and loved Insurgent, but Allegiant ruined everything for me.


TEMPERANCE: Which book/series did you find so good, that you didn’t want to read it all at once, and you read it in doses just to make the pleasure last longer?

The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.


CHARITY: Which book/series/author do you tirelessly push to others, telling them about it or even given away spare copies bought for that reason?

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I re-read it every year.


DILIGENCE: Which series/author do you follow no matter what happens and how long you have to wait?

Barbara Ehrenreich. I’ve learned so much from her books!


PATIENCE: Is there an author/book/series you’ve read that improved with time the most, starting out unpromising, but ultimately proving rewarding?

I honestly can’t think of one!


KINDNESS: Which fictitious character would you consider your role model in the hassle of everyday life?

I can’t think of one!


HUMILITY: Which book/series/author do you find most underrated?

Fallible Justice by Laura Laakso. I received an ARC from the publisher in the U.K. in 2018. I’m not usually a paranormal fan, but this book was refreshing. I could barely put it down!


Tag – You’re It!

Sara – The Bibliophagist

Kristian – Life Lessons Around The Dinner Table

Jenna – Bookmark Your Thoughts


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #90: “Soulflow” (Audiobook)

Kristen Martin is amazing!

This book went on my Amazon wishlist within hours of her announcing its release date on her podcast, That Smart Hustle.

Then, in March 2020, Kristen made an amazing decision. In part due to the stresses of the coronavirus pandemic, she recorded every chapter of Soulflow, and released one per day from March 20 through April 5. At first, I wasn’t sure if listening to the book would work for me. It’s been YEARS since I’d listened to a book. Think back to books on tape and books on CD from the library. Yeah, that long ago.

But, I dove in. And I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed it. I got a late start in listening to it, so all the chapters had been released by the time I started the Introduction in early May. I found myself listening to multiple chapters per day while working from home. I love Kristen’s voice!

Between May and August, I’ve listened to the entire book twice. I plan to listen to it a third time before the end of 2020.

I know, personal development books get a lot of flack. Trust me, I’ve read a lot of them over the years. But, I feel like Kristen’s book is different. It is personal development, but it also has a lot of her memories and experiences. To me, it’s relatable. This may be in part because she and I are virtually the same age, but I keep coming back to it.

I love Kristen’s energy through this book. I was planning to read some of her fiction work first, but I’m glad I listened to this one first. I’m even more excited now to read her fiction. If her second personal development book is this inspiring and influential to me, I can only imagine what worlds she’s created with her fiction.

5 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #220: Reflections, on My Birthday

Image Credit: lilyandval.com

This is my fifth birthday reflection post! I can’t believe I started this annual tradition in 2016. I’ve enjoyed reading the posts from 20172018, and 2019.

Here we are, 2020! I mentioned in my 2019 post that it had been a roller-coaster ride. Well, 2020 has been one for the books! And it’s only August!


We celebrated having Phineas and Ferb in our lives and our home for the first year in December. They have truly brought so much joy to our lives.

The biggest change toward the end of 2019 for me was changing jobs. I resigned from my analyst position at Riverside on August 13, 2019. That was a significant moment for me. When I was hired in 2012, I thought I would be with Riverside for 10+ years. I saw legacy employees everywhere. I lasted 6 1/2 years, which is now impressive to me, mainly because of the 30-mile-each-way commute I drove every day, five days a week, for 5 1/2 of those years. It got old. But I loved what I did.

An opportunity in Norfolk presented itself in February, and I had my first interview pretty quickly. Months went by, and by the middle of July, I’d figured the team had hired someone else. Lo and behold, I got a call for a second interview at the end of July. I interviewed with the vice president of the department, and I was hopeful, but it was hard to not get excited. I was offered the job a few days after my birthday. I started my role as the Managed Care Contract Analyst for Sentara Healthcare on September 3, 2019.

The first few months, until Christmastime, were difficult. I asked myself several times if I’d made the right choice. I had a couple ugly breakdowns, snot-crying, all of it. But, after the holidays ended, I finally started to feel at peace. I wasn’t the new girl anymore, because a new director came on board before Thanksgiving. I was starting to mesh well with my team, and it was remarkable to notice the differences between the two health systems. As I drove the 14 miles to work in Norfolk, rather than 30+ miles to Newport News, I felt more at ease.

Then, on March 17th, everything changed again. We had our last in-person team meeting, a quick huddle in the afternoon. Because of the virus that we now know as COVID-19, many people in our office were asked to begin working from home, effective immediately.

I set up my personal laptop on one of my parents’ old card tables in my home office, and seethed for the first two weeks. I was miserable. This virus was not only scary, but everything that I enjoyed doing was taken away almost instantaneously – Having date nights with Al at restaurants, movie theaters, hugging my family, traveling, regular meetings for P.E.O. and AAPC, and running the computer and projectors for church services on the third Sunday of every month. Our 20th Anniversary blood drive in April was cancelled because the church was shut down. My extroverted side was scared, sad, and incredibly anxious.

However, as time passed, I pulled myself up out of moping in Al’s old desk chair and started looking at the positives. Al and I were both incredibly fortunate to not only still have our jobs, but that we were both able to work from home. I bought an awesome sit-stand desk on sale, and Al did the same. I bought a computer monitor to mimic my two screens in my cube. Al and I downloaded all the grocery store apps and started ordering online. My anxiety started to ease. I dove into editing the first draft of my first novel for Camp NaNoWriMo in April. I spent a lot more time with Phineas and Ferb. I started getting my home office into shape.

Now, having nearly five months of this “new normal” in the rear-view mirror, I’m happier. I’ve stayed productive at home with work, blogging, my novels, P.E.O., AAPC, and other obligations. We’ve saved a ton of money because of the reduced need for gas, car maintenance, and tolls. Sure, our grocery budget increased, but I think a lot of people did that. Fortunately, and most importantly, everyone in our immediate families has stayed healthy and safe. My 94-year-old Grandpa left Florida, moved in with my parents, and sold his condo within five weeks.

We put a new roof on the house and garage. We’ve started making plans for new siding, gutters, and windows. I accomplished my Camp NaNoWriMo goal for July. I’m primed to finish the second edit of my first novel for my alpha readers by the end of August. Al and I will celebrate 10 years together on September 4th. While we can’t celebrate our five-year wedding anniversary at Galaxy’s Edge in Disney World this fall, I bought the official cookbook, and can’t wait to spend a few days off with Al in November to celebrate.

Cheers to 32!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #111: “50 Best Films About Writers, Ranked”

Image Credit: Medium

I stumbled upon this article when I was researching a daily film challenge post for Facebook. The question that day was: “A film where a character has a job you want.”

My answer: Finding Forrester (2000)


Here’s the link to the article about the 50 best films:

50 Best Films About Writers, Ranked |Flavorwire

Now, granted, this particular article was published in 2014. But, I wanted to take a closer look at these movies and offer my thoughts.

50. Sylvia (2003) — I have not seen this.

49. Finding Forrester (2000) — I have seen this movie, and I like it. I want to watch it again.

48. Total Eclipse (1995) — I have not seen this.

47. Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle (1994) — I have not seen this.

46. Deathtrap (1982) — I have not seen this.

45. Henry Fool (1997) — I have not seen this.

44. Manhattan (1979) — I have not seen this.

43. Barfly (1987) — I have seen pieces of this movie.

42. The Pillow Book (1996) — I have not seen this.

41. My Left Foot (1989) — I have seen this movie, and I like it.

40. American Splendor (2003) — I have seen pieces of this movie.

39. Swimming Pool (2003) — I have not seen this.

38. The Front (1976) — I have not seen this.

37. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) — I have seen this movie, and I like it. I want to watch it again.

36. Ruby Sparks (2012) — I have seen this, and it’s a good movie!

35. Impromtu (1991) — I have not seen this.

34. Kill Your Darlings (2013) — I have not seen this, but I want to.

33. Contempt (1963) — I have not seen this.

32. Prick Up Your Ears (1987) — I have not seen this.

31. Adult World (2013) — I have not seen this.

30. Julia (1977) — I have not seen this.

29. Poetic Justice (1993) — I have seen pieces of this movie.

28. Fellini’s Casanova (1976) — I have not seen this.

27. Shakespeare in Love (1998) — I have seen this, but it’s not my favorite.

26. The Motorcycle Diaries (2004) — I have seen this, and it’s an excellent movie.

25. Midnight in Paris (2011) — I have not seen this.

24. Iris (2001) — I have not seen this.

23. Before Sunset (2004) — I have seen pieces of this movie.

22. The Door in the Floor (2004) — I have not seen this.

21. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) — I have seen pieces of this, and I want to watch it in full.

20. Misery (1990) — I have seen this, and I want to watch it again.

19. Before Night Falls (2000) — I have not seen this.

18. Deconstructing Harry (1997) — I have not seen this.

17. The World According to Garp (1982) — I have seen pieces of this movie, and I want to watch it in full.

16. The Hours (2002) — I have seen this movie, and it’s good.

15. Naked Lunch (1991) — I have not seen this.

14. Starting Out in the Evening (2007) — I have not seen this.

13. Bright Star (2009) — I have not seen this.

12. Young Adult (2011) — I have seen pieces of this movie, and I want to watch it in full.

11. Certified Copy (2010) — I have not seen this movie, but I want to.

10. A Man For All Seasons (1966) — I have not seen this.

9. The Shining (1980) — I have seen this movie, and it’s good.

8. Providence (1977) — I have seen pieces of this movie, and I want to watch it in full.

7. Sunset Boulevard (1950) — I have seen this movie, and it’s good.

6. My Brilliant Career (1979) — I have not seen this movie, but I want to.

5. Adaptation (2002) — I have seen this movie, and it’s excellent. I want to watch it again.

4. An Angel at My Table (1990) — I have not seen this.

3. Wonder Boys (2000) — I have seen this movie, and it’s excellent. I want to watch it again.

2. Barton Fink (1991) — I have seen pieces of this movie, and I want to watch it in full.

(1) Reprise (2006) — I have not seen this movie, but I want to.


What do you think about these 50 movies? Let me know!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #219: August Goals

Image Credit: Blissful Gal

Welcome back!


Here are my goals for the month of August:

  1. Donate blood.
  2. Celebrate my birthday!
  3. Finish the book I’m currently reading, and publish the review.
  4. Get the photos and other wall hanging items off the floor in my office and get them on the walls.
  5. Make at least one thrift store donation run.
  6. Start the second round of editing for my first novel – Translate my handwritten notes from April’s Camp NaNoWriMo session into my computer.
  7. Get my P.E.O. President materials organized.
  8. Write a blog post about my July Camp NaNoWriMo session.
  9. Put away all the clean laundry.
  10. Commit to putting away clean laundry in a more organized, efficient manner.
  11. Participate in a fun pet portrait session that was a giveaway win.
  12. Finish re-organizing the filing system.
  13. Finish de-cluttering the dining room buffet.

What about you? Do you have any goals for the month of August?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #218: July Goals Recap

Image Credit: Centre for Collaborative Health

Welcome back!

Here’s the link to my July Goals post: Getting Personal #214: July Goals


Here were my goals for the month of July:

  1. Participate in Camp NaNoWriMo, July 2020. — Accomplished!
  2. Publish my updated TBR post. — Accomplished!
  3. Re-organize the filing system. — Semi-Achieved.
  4. Finish cleaning out the cabinet above the oven. — Accomplished!
  5. Finish de-cluttering the dining room buffet. — Semi-Achieved.
  6. Begin the binder of university newspaper articles for preservation. — Accomplished!
  7. Send at least five cards, letters, and care packages. — Did not accomplish.
  8. Continue preparations for P.E.O. Virginia State 2022 Convention. — Accomplished!

I had a really good month. I’m still working from home, as is Al. We are grateful to our companies for keeping us and our colleagues as safe as possible as the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc in the United States.

I’m really happy with what I’ve accomplished with this session of Camp NaNoWriMo. I wanted to add 20,000 new words to the novel I started during NaNoWriMo 2013. Look for a post about that in August.

Here’s the link to my TBR post: Getting Personal #216: Fifteenth TBR Recap

I’m really pleased with finally getting to cleaning out the cabinet above the oven. I filled a 13-gallon trash bag nearly full with expired food and spices. A lot of it had gotten pushed to the back of the cabinets, and it’s hard for me to reach back there without standing on a chair or step stool. It’s so much easier to find the spices now. The next step is to install either a Lazy Susan system or moving shelves in both cabinets so that it’s even easier to locate what we need when we’re cooking.

The dining room buffet is a work in progress. I finally got the kitchen table cleaned off, and have kept it clean and clutter-free for almost a full week.

The filing system is also being evaluated. I need to do a few more things in my office before that can be accomplished, but I’m hoping to get a few more boxes out of the room this weekend. I also filled a trash bag and three small boxes with old books and DVDs for donation to the thrift stores. My couch is clean again!

I’m excited to buy acid-free paper and sheet protectors to preserve my university newspaper articles. I got a 3-inch binder for free from a sorority sister that was preparing to move, so that should be plenty of space to store everything.


What about you? Did you have any goals for the month of July?

Come back tomorrow to see my goals for August!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂