Commentary #16: “The Roots of ‘America’s Best Idea'”


Yellowstone National Park. Image Credit:

“Keep close to Nature’s heart … and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”

~John Muir

In the beginning of February, I stumbled upon this article on

I didn’t know that the National Park Service was turning 100 in 2016, so that grabbed my attention immediately.

I love that CNN is launching a year-long series to celebrate. I can’t wait to see what they publish.

This first kick-off article focuses on Yellowstone National Park, the first federal park to be created, in 1872.

Its anniversary, the 144th this year, is March 1st.

The National Park Service was established on August 25, 1916, by way of the Organic Act. Back then, it protected the existing 14 national parks, 21 monuments, two reservations, and “those yet to be established.”

While reading this article, I recognized John Muir’s name immediately. I remembering researching him and the Sierra Club in high school. I took Visual Arts in my junior and senior years, and I had to have a focus, or an overall theme, for my final presentation at the end of my senior year. I was drawn (no pun intended) to flowers, nature, and landscapes, so I made environmentalism my overall theme. I remember being fascinated by Muir and his work to help conserve our land, dreaming of the day that I would get to experience the lands that he worked to protect.

Sadly, Muir died two years before the National Park Service was created. He died on Christmas Eve 1914, at age 76, of pneumonia.

However, his legacy lives on.

He helped establish Yosemite National Park in 1890, and has been lauded as an inspiration to both Scotland and the U.S.

His name, in the U.S., is on a 211-mile hiking trail in the Sierra Nevada, a national monument, a beach, a glacier, a college, a camp, and a mountain.

In Scotland, his name is on a 130-mile long distance route. In 2013, the first ever John Muir Day was celebrated in the country, to mark the 175th anniversary of the conservationist’s birth.

Reading this article, it’s chock full of history that you just don’t see in the history textbooks today. Personally, this article has inspired me to dig deeper. I want to learn as much as I can about the National Park Service, Hetch Hetchy Valley, artist George Caitlin, Stephen Mather, and the National Geographic Society.

It also makes wanna get away. Between reading this article and recently chronicling My Bucket List, I want to go West as soon as possible!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #19: My Bucket List


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This post was inspired by a blog that I’m loving right now:

28 and Counting …

While browsing through her posts a few weeks ago, I found this gem:

My Bucket List

She inspired me to write down my list, all in one place.

I also liked the way she categorized her list, so, here goes …

Travel Experiences

Go on a cruise as an adult.


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I’ve been fortunate to have gone on two cruises already, but the last time, I was 9-years-old. Yup. It’s beyond time to experience one as an adult. There are so many amazing places! And a cruise ship is just awesome – It has everything in one place!

Al and I have talked about going on one in the next year or so, so I think we need to pay another visit to Jody at AAA – She helped us plan our awesome honeymoon!

Visit as many of America’s national parks as possible.

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This has always been a life-long dream. I’ve been fortunate to see several of the states so far, but I haven’t had the chance to see the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, and others, not yet.

I did a Google search of America’s national parks recently, researching for an upcoming blog post, and I wanted to pack up and head West!

Experience Cedar Point.

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This obsession / quest started years ago. I love roller coasters! Cedar Point currently has 16 of them, and 72 rides total! I think I’ll need to stay close to the park in Sandusky, Ohio, for more than one day!

Set foot in every U.S. state.


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By my count, I have set foot in approximately 17 states so far, plus one Canadian province (British Columbia, 1998).

“Setting foot in” doesn’t count layovers in airports, though (Texas, that means you). I also like scarletpen’s idea of visiting every Canadian province!

Go to Costa Rica.

Costa Rica

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I remember writing stories as a child about adventures in the rainforest. Costa Rica is one of those places that I have dreamed of.

Go on an Alaskan cruise.

Alaska Cruise

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I was so jealous when my cousin Missy got to go on an Alaskan cruise with her parents and our grandparents when she was 11. Since then, I’ve always wanted to go!

Kayak in a bioluminescent bay.


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I learned about this experience just a few years ago, when one of my PEO sisters recounted her travels to Puerto Rico. I enjoy kayaking, and the photos I’ve seen are just breathtaking.

Spend a week at a Disney Resort.

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I’ve been to Disney World multiple times, but I’ve never stayed at any of the Disney Resorts. After seeing some of them on our honeymoon whilst traveling between Hollywood Studios and Epcot, Al and I decided that’s what we want to do, the next time we head to Orlando. The trouble is, which resort to pick?

Go to Disneyland.


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I’ve been to California three times in my life, but I haven’t experienced Anaheim yet! I can’t wait to experience Disneyland, and California Adventure.

Go to Key West, Florida.

Key West

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Florida has been the state that I’ve visited the most times. I think I can easily count over 100 times, since I was a baby. The perks of having both sets of grandparents live down there! Key West has been a dream of mine for a long time. My parents have visited several times, and I was envious of their pictures from a few years ago. See my friend Megan’s recap of her recent Floridian adventure!

Go to at least one amusement park in another country.

Disneyland Paris

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The closest I’ve gotten to this goal was seeing Disneyland Paris in 2008, and that was only their equivalent of Downtown Disney. The tickets were so expensive!

Zip line (in as many places as possible!).

Zipline Maui

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Since I love roller coasters, zip-lining has been one of the top things that I’ve wanted to do. My mom has even beaten me to it! She got to zipline FIVE TIMES across a river in Canada!

Go white water rafting.

White Water

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I wasn’t able to go on the white water rafting trips to Tennessee in high school, but I wish I had! I would love to experience this in a natural setting.

However, closer to home, there is a place in Charlotte, North Carolina called the U.S. National Whitewater Center.

Their official description on Google: “Recreation grounds with whitewater rafting, canoeing, kayaking, rappelling, rock climbing & more.”

Yes, please!

Re-visit several places.

I could go on, and on, and on … But I definitely want to re-visit:

  1. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  2. Hershey Park
  3. Chicago, Illinois
  4. Washington, D.C.
  5. Miami, Florida
  6. Los Angeles, California

And more! This particular list will continue to grow, I have no doubt. I look forward to writing many more Adventure Time posts!

Personal Development

Finish editing my three NaNoWriMo novels (2012, 2013, and 2014).


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Curious about what I’ve written, so far?

Well, guess what, you’re in luck!

I did a series of blog posts, called Writing Wednesdays, that attempted to capture these three novels. There are 25 posts!

Granted, I have a long way to go with these three. The longest one, the 2014 one, currently stands at 16,000 words and some change. I want to get each of these to at least 50,000 words (the goal for NaNoWriMo) before considering publication.

Self-publish those three novels.


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Again, I need to finish those three, and then edit them.

However, I’m looking at you, Amazon, when the time is right.

Knock NaNoWriMo 2016 out of the park.

NaNoWriMo 2016

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I already have a big idea percolating, and it’s something completely different from my first three novels. I’ve vetted it by a few VIPs of mine, and all seem to be very intrigued. Bring it on!

(Finally) Finish my paralegal studies degree.


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I’m SO CLOSE. I’m taking Family Law right now, online, which is going great.

The only classes I have left are Legal Research (Summer 2016), Legal Writing, and Trial Prep & Discovery.

My hope is to earn the degree some time in 2017!

Become certified with the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC).


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I have been interested in becoming a Certified Professional Coder (CPC) since 2013. However, I’ve done quite a bit of research over the years, and my manager has given me some great advice. I look forward to pursuing this in the next couple of years. At a minimum, I would like to be a CPC before we start having children!

Chronicle my experiences from July 2006 – July 2010.

My Story

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I’ve shared part of my story already, through this post: Book Review #8: Tornado Warning: A Memoir of Teen Dating Violence and its Effect on a Woman’s Life.

However, I was recently given some great advice by a good friend, Mike H., who wrote this via Facebook message: “Write that book. Even if you don’t publish it, it can be cathartic or therapeutic.”

He’s exactly right.

And I plan to do that. I already know how I want to write it.

And, eventually, I’d like to share it on the blog, as well.


Find a house!


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What a journey we’ve been on in the last year, Al and I .

We are FINALLY seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, however, and we will be getting a home of our own in 2016!

Learn new recipes.


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I enjoy cooking, so I’m on a mission to learn new recipes!

If you have any favorites, please, share!!

Make a Difference

Volunteer with Faith Works Coalition.

Faith Works

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This is something new. Our associate pastor has been involved before, and we are in the planning stages of getting our church involved. It’s exciting!

Make a blood drive happen at Tidewater Comicon.


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It may not happen this year, since the 2016 event is May 21-22 (Less than three months away!), however, it’s exciting to think about. Similar conventions in Florida have reported success, and we’d love for it to happen in Virginia Beach!

Final Thoughts

This list will continue to grow and change. However, for now, I’m very excited that I have most of my ultimate goals here, in one space.

I will be reviewing this list often, holding myself accountable!

I look forward to publishing future blog posts with accomplishments!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #15: “The Best Explanation of Marriage”


1 Corinthians

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I wanted to share this graphic with you first. This passage has always been one of my favorites, and it was read at our wedding in November.

But, that’s not the main message I want to share in this post.

Take a look at this:

Image Credit: CatholicLink Español on Twitter

Image Credit: CatholicLink Español on Twitter

My friend Katie shared this infographic on Facebook recently.

What’s interesting, though, is when Katie originally shared this, the graphic had everything you see, except for the CatholicLink logo/symbol on the bottom. It makes sense, since it is a Bible verse, but still, it was an interesting observation to note.

As many of you know, I am a Christian. I was raised in the United Methodist Church. I have read the whole Bible. In the words of a Jeremy Camp song, I walk by faith.

This graphic struck me, hence why I wanted to write about it.

I wanted to break down this infographic and really dive deep.

“A man” – Maturity

I’m interpreting this as a man has matured from a boy when he decides to get married. That makes sense to me. The age of consent to get married varies by state though. Some states allow parties to marry when they’re 15 or 16!

“Leaves” – Transition

Transition is a big part of marriage, but it’s a big part of life, too. For me, I have transitioned several times. I left home for the first time in 2007, to attend college. I transitioned again in 2011, when I came back home after college graduation. In 2013, I left home again to move into my first apartment. In 2014, I moved back home, again, to save money, in anticipation of eventually buying a house. And then, in 2015, I transitioned into marriage with Al. Sometime in 2016, we will transition again – together – into our own home!

I used to believe that a person, whether man or woman, should experience at least some of these transitions before getting married.

That wasn’t the case with Al – He’s only moved once in his entire life, and he never went away to college. The biggest transition, that I think he went through, was a few years ago, when he didn’t have a job for six months. But, we’re married now (Tomorrow is our 3-month anniversary), and it’s amazing!

He’s shown me so many things through his experiences, like going to community college. It’s cheaper, and you get a great education, too!

“Father and mother” – Model of a complete family

This part, I disagree with. I get that this comes from the Bible – One of the oldest books, ever.

But, in today’s world, a “complete family” is not just a mom and dad anymore.

It can be two dads. It can be two moms. It can be grandparents, or other relatives. It can be either a mom or a dad. It can be a mom and stepdad, and vice-versa.

“Attached” – A new family

I’m not sure if “a new family” is the right/best way to interpret the word “attached.” With marriage, the idea is that you’re creating a new family, yes. And that the parties involved are creating a new chapter, together.

But the word “attached” is a bit strong, to me. I still have a strong attachment to my parents, I believe I always will. That’s mainly because I am an only child. It’s important to keep close ties with your family, unless you have solid reasons/beliefs to not to.

“His wife” – Complement

This interpretation confused me, at first, until I realized that I was thinking of the wrong word. My first thought was “compliment.”

Complement – Refers to something that completes or goes well with something.

I agree with “goes well with something.”

I don’t agree with “completes.”

The reason I say that is Al doesn’t “complete” me. I am my own person. I am Laura Beth. I wasn’t incomplete before I met Al. I was recovering from an extensive abusive relationship, and Al helped make me whole again, but he himself didn’t do that for me. He helped me heal, over time. He listened. He comforted me. He understood the journey I was on.

He wasn’t my missing piece. He’s a beautiful, wonderful addition to my life. I’m so happy that we fell in love, dated, got engaged, and are now married. I look forward to spending the rest of my life with him!

“They become” – A process of learning, friendship and trust

I like this one. To make a marriage, relationship, or friendship work, you have to put in the effort to learn about each other, be friendly, and trust each other.

For Al and I, we started out as friends. I didn’t know him from Adam, so to speak. Before we exchanged phone numbers and became Facebook friends, I had said hi to him maybe twice in their house between 2009 and 2010.

When I watched Inglorious Basterds with Al and Nick the night before I went back to Longwood in August 2010, I sat between them on the couch in their backyard garage. I remember thinking to myself, “I will be content if we are friends forever.”

I trusted Al from the very beginning. I felt like I could tell him anything, and I still feel that way now, all these years later. That’s one thing that will never change.

“One flesh” – Deep intimacy between two people

I get that intimacy and sex is a big part of marriage. And that’s wonderful. I don’t and won’t judge you.

But, it isn’t everything. And I’m glad this graphic shows that. It’s a significant part, but you have to have trust, friendship, and more.

Justin, a regular reader and friend, offered his two cents about this to me in a Facebook message:

“As someone not of religion, I can tell you this Laura Beth: Marriage is a grand adventure. It’s like finding a companion in an RPG, the healer to your fighter, the Sword user to your Bow and Arrow. It’s meeting someone who will fill that empty spot in your passenger seat where groceries once was. It’s finding someone who you want to annoy, or be annoyed by, for life. Someone who you love spending time with, but also can appreciate the time you spend apart, for absence does make the heart grow fonder. It’s finding someone who you may get really angry at but you’ll still hold the umbrella under them on a rainy day, and most of all it’s finding someone who you can say is THE ONE …”

I love his analogies. It’s hard for me to say anything better than this.

I’m so glad Al and I found each other. I was reflecting on the journey I’ve been on in the car yesterday. I feel so fortunate. I am blessed. My faith has guided me through my life, even when it has wavered.

It is true – Everything happens for a reason.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂