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 πŸ™‚

Getting Personal #185: Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today is my mom’s birthday!

I’m so happy to have been able to celebrate with her. Today was our regularly scheduled blood drive, and she ran it like a champ. Everyone sang to her, and I bought a fun rainbow birthday cake! We had a good time. She was going to take a nap later.

Hoping to take her out to eat sometime tomorrow.

Happy Birthday, Mom! I love you!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth πŸ™‚

Writing Prompt #239: August WIP Writing Challenge BIRTHDAY BASH

August WIP Writing Challenge Birthday Bash

Image Credit: Didi Oviatt

I love Didi’s WIP writing challenges!

Here’s the link to her August challenge:


Hunter was feeling low. He really didn’t like birthdays.

As he wallowed, his phone buzzed.

Happy Birthday!

Hunter managed a small smile. Bethany was so kind. And, unfortunately, Hunter had the hots for her.

As he composed his reply, more texts came in. Hunter’s heart rose out of his stomach, ever so slightly.

People really do care, he thought.

I do have friends.

Then, a puzzling text from Lizzie came in.

Hey baby, wanna meet me at the arcade tonight? It’s half-price!

Hunter shook his head. He loved how Lizzie tried, but sometimes, she tried too hard. And she knew full well how much he hated his birthday. But, she wanted to pull him out of his misery, in whatever way she felt like could work.

Hunter smiled slightly, contemplating his response.

From Lizzie: Baby? Are you okay?

From Belle: Happy Birthday, Hunter! Hope you’re doing something fun tonight!

From Bill: Enjoy your birthday, dude! Can’t wait to celebrate soon!

Irritated, Hunter nearly threw his phone against the wall. That’s how the last two got broken.

He thought better of it. Pacing the room, he only texted Lizzie back.

Sure, sweetie. The arcade sounds like fun. What time?

Lizzie responded within seconds.

6:00. And don’t be late!Β 

Hunter drove the 10 miles to the arcade, lost in the music. He smiled a bit wider, excited to see Lizzie.

At 6:02, he walked into the arcade. Lizzie greeted him with a long kiss, a flick of the tongue, and then she took his hand and rounded the corner.

“SURPRISE!! Happy Birthday, Hunter!”

Hunter’s eyes went wide, and then filled with tears. Everyone was there – Lizzie, Bethany, Will, Belle, Bill, Robert, Adam, and a few others.

“I’m definitely surprised. Thank you.”

A man of few words, Hunter felt his heart lift higher. He hugged Lizzie tightly, whispered his thanks, and was simply overwhelmed.

As Bill raised the toast of soft drinks to another trip around the sun, Hunter’s smile grew wider.

“Well, friends, this is the first birthday where I haven’t felt miserable. Thank you, Lizzie. Thanks, everyone. Now, let’s shut up and play some games!”


Until the next headline, Laura Beth πŸ™‚

Getting Personal #178: Reflections, On My Birthday

Jeremiah 29-11 - lilyandval
Image Credit: lilyandval.com

This is my fourth birthday reflection! I can’t believe I started this annual tradition in 2016. I’ve enjoyed reading the posts from 2017 and 2018, too.

Here we are, 2019! This year has been a bit of a roller-coaster ride. But it’s been mostly good!


This time last year, we were anxiously awaiting the arrival of our greyhound. It was going to be our first dog together, and we were so excited. We welcomed Pablo to our house in September. However, we quickly realized this poor baby was experiencing severe separation anxiety. We had to return him to the greyhound agency after four weeks. Al and I were incredibly devastated. But, we knew he needed to be in a home with someone who was either retired or home much of the day, and with other dogs or greyhounds. By the time we returned him to the agency, there were at least four people who were willing to take Pablo!

We had a short cooling-off period, and gave ourselves time to heal. We continued working, finally got our HVAC system finished and working, and a few weekend trips away.

Around Thanksgiving, Al and I had been casually researching local rescue organizations, thinking we were going to be ready to try again after the holidays. We had heard good things about Saver of Souls Pet Rescue, based in Virginia Beach. A few people we know had great success with them and adopting from them. We fell in love with bonded brothers, older miniature pinschers named Phineas and Ferb. We filled out the application, and crossed our fingers. We didn’t want to get our hopes up, but we felt drawn to them.

Our lives changed on December 2nd. We learned at an event in Virginia Beach that our application was approved, and we could take Phineas and Ferb home!

They have changed our lives for the better! I can’t imagine not having them. It’s hard to believe December will be a year since we adopted them. We’re hoping for many years with them. We believe they will turn 10 sometime in November.

Aside from adopting Phineas and Ferb, we’ve stayed busy! I truly think turning 30 was a huge turning point for me. I’ve enjoyed finding and making new recipes, celebrating many birthdays, taking trips with Al, and soaking up as much time with family and friends.

Here’s a few other big things that happened this year:

  • I read 17 books in 2018, including two Advance Reading Copies (ARCs).
  • On March 30, 2019, I hit a HUGE milestone with my writing. I finally finished the first draft of my 2012 WIP, tentatively titled, “Experiences From Camp.” It’s just over 50,000 words. It feels incredible! Two of my friends have graciously offered to look it over and begin the editing process with me!
  • I paid off some significant credit card debt!
  • I have seven American Girl dolls now. Mia, Girl of the Year 2008, is the newest addition.
  • I participated in a wonderful group of Gal Pals on Facebook, and really enjoyed it. I look forward to participating in another round, either later this year or the beginning of 2020.

Cheers to 31!

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Until the next headline, Laura Beth πŸ™‚

Getting Personal #135: Reflections, On My Birthday

Birthday Quote 2018

Image Credit: BrainyQuote

This is the third birthday reflection post I’ve written. I wrote the first in 2016, and enjoyed it so much, that I did it again in 2017.

Now, here we are in August 2018. For those who don’t know, I turn 30 today. It’s kind of crazy, but so exciting!


We’ve owned our house for two years now. We continue to have stable jobs, with a few much-appreciated raises and bonuses thrown in. Last year, we celebrated seven years together, added two new members to our family with Savy and Mia, and toasted to two years of marriage. We spent a week with Al’s family during Thanksgiving, and then a quiet Christmas here at home. It was definitely a cold winter – Lots of blizzards!

This year, we finally did our HVAC overhaul, and we’re so happy we did. We’ve seen a ton of movies, and tried several new recipes. Thanks to my awesome father-in-law, I now have a beautiful custom display case and wardrobe for my American Girl dolls. We’re getting better at going to the gym during the weekday mornings, and riding our bikes around the neighborhood at night.

As the summer is starting to wind down, we’re eagerly awaiting the arrival of our greyhound! Look for the first blog post about him in mid-September!


Reflecting on my long birthday weekend celebration, I’m immensely grateful for all the time I’ve been able to spend with so many people – Al, my parents, my church family, my office family, Al’s co-workers, wonderful family friends, Al’s parents, Nick and Savy, and their new puppy! There has been an abundance of food, hugs, warm wishes, thoughts, appreciation, cards, and love! I saw two wonderful movies as well, Christopher Robin and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, surrounded by family and friends.

I can’t wait to see what this new decade has to offer!!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth πŸ™‚

Getting Personal #79: Reflections, On My Birthday

Birthday Quote 2017

Image Credit: BrainyQuote

I wrote a Getting Personal post on my birthday last year, and I received a lot of positive feedback. I thought I would continue this tradition every year. For me, it brings the past year into focus, and it makes me feel good.


Since this time last year, I’ve lived in my own house with Al for over a year. I’m so happy that we’ve reached this point. We have independence. We’re navigating our way through “adulting” the best that we can. I’m happy that we both have stable jobs that give us good benefits, as well as modest incomes. We’re paying our bills and saving money, but we’re also able to have a little bit of spending money, too. Our house is certainly big enough for the two of us, but we also have room to entertain and (eventually) grow our family. We’ve already had adventures in dog-sitting, and we’re thinking about getting a cat, or two.

It’s amazing to look around, in almost any room, and realize that it looked completely different when we bought the house. We still have several projects on our list – Matching blinds for the rest of the windows, finishing renovating two dressers for two bedrooms, blackout curtains for our bedroom, painting an accent wall in the living room, and finishing my office – but we’re enjoying working on them together. And that’s the whole point, right?

It’s also hard to believe that I will likely, finally, earn my Associates of Applied Science degree in Paralegal Studies as 2017 comes to a close. Wow. It’s been a long five years, with a few semester breaks here and there – Like not taking any classes for the two semesters before my wedding, for instance. (Best. Decision. Ever.)

I’m officially registered for Legal Writing this fall. I’m headed to campus again on Thursday nights from late August through mid-December. I’m excited to take this class – This is one of the main classes that I have looked forward to since starting the program. Better late than never, but here we are. Keep your fingers crossed that this is truly my last class before graduation!

I’m also glad that I had the opportunity this spring to prepare for the boards (exam) to become a Certified Professional Coder (CPC). Many thanks to Shana for keeping me in the loop. It’s funny how things work out – I was hoping to take Legal Writing in the spring, but an English prerequisite was in my way, and I couldn’t register. During the Super Bowl in February, Shana told me TCC Workforce Solutions was offering the CPC exam prep class again (She took it in the fall of 2016). I was able to sign up in the nick of time, with the class starting two weeks after she told me.

I was incredibly nervous, but also excited. This was new territory for me. I’d had some exposure to ICD-10, CPT codes, and HCPCS codes through the nature of my job and my work, but not a lot. Casey, my former manager, encouraged me for years to get certified, and I finally took the plunge.

Medical coding is HARD. There’s three different sets of codes, and each code is for something different. It also depends on your interpretation of the doctor’s notes, which isn’t always easy.

Test day was Saturday, April 8th. It was almost six hours long! Luckily, I was able to answer all 150 questions before time expired, plus check my answers. I didn’t feel like I completely failed, but I wasn’t super confident that I passed.

About a week later, I discovered that I had passed the exam by accident. AAPC sends emails about meetings, and one of those emails started with, “Dear Laura Beth, CPC-A.” I almost fell out of my chair at work. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t seeing things, so I logged on to AAPC to see my score. I ended up passing with a 76 percent score (I needed at least a 70). I tore out of my cube and ran down the hall to tell Casey. I was jumping up and down!

I found out later that I was the ONLY ONE in my class to pass the boards. I was floored. There were 15 people in my class. It was amazing!

So, now I’m certified. I have to earn a set number of continuing education units (CEUs) by a certain time next year, but going to AAPC chapter meetings every month, plus doing webinars, add up. I was pinned by the Peninsula Professional Coders last month during a special ceremony, and there were several others who are newly certified. It feels nice to have such a supportive community. Being certified also opens the door to new job opportunities. I’m very happy at Riverside, but it’s nice to have different options when thinking about the future.

There have been some challenges this year, but nothing insurmountable. Casey left Riverside for another opportunity in mid-April, which was devastating to me.

We suffered with a broken AC unit at our house for about two weeks, at the peak of the hot weather. We know now that we need to replace our HVAC before next summer. We decided to forgo a wedding anniversary vacation this fall, but we’re planning to go to New York City in the summer of 2018!

I have a lot to look forward to as I start the last year of my 20s:

  • Former work colleagues becoming true friends.
  • Enjoying my slight obsession with LuLaRoe.
  • Being part of the Pray for Me Campaign at New Creation UMC.
  • Celebrating seven years together with Al on September 4th.
  • Heading to the mountains for a weekend in early September, celebrating Savy’s bachelorette and making new friends.
  • Helping Nick and Savy celebrate their kick-ass wedding at the Vardaro Farm in October!
  • Celebrating two years of marriage with Al on November 14th!
  • Being with family for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  • Helping Tony and Rachael celebrate their wedding in December.
  • Finishing my 2012 NaNoWriMo attempt by reaching at least 50,000 words, and then editing begins!
  • Reading many more books.
  • Continuing blogging, and meeting many more amazing bloggers!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth πŸ™‚

Getting Personal #27: Reflections, On My Birthday

Birthday - quotesgram

Image Credit: quotesgram.com

There’s no significant holiday in August, so my birthday has always felt like one.

My parents have a beautiful frame that holds two of my footprints and my birth announcement. Around the age of 10, I remember reading it, trying to understand it, and then carefully taking the frame it to my mom, asking her what it meant.


There’s a reason why there are two footprints in that frame.

The first one, very tiny, has the following caption:

  • 1 lb., 15 oz.

The second one, a little bigger, has the following caption:

  • 5 lbs., 10 oz.

I came into this world 15 weeks too soon.

I was given a 50/50 chance of survival.

I am a survivor.

My birth announcement indicates that I came home from Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City on my actual due date – November 18th.

Through pictures and stories, I learned I was on oxygen for the first full year of my life. I was hospitalized twice within that first year for the common cold.

My favorite baby picture is the one where my dad’s wedding ring fit through my whole hand, hanging off my tiny wrist like a bracelet.

I first flew on an airplane when I was six months old, oxygen and all.

My parents put me in every kind of therapy program imaginable – Speech, occupational, physical. You name it, I was probably in it.


As I grew older, I simply marveled at, and was humbled by, my beginnings.

I was placed in a class called “Developmental First” at my elementary school, in between kindergarten and first grade. It technically held me back for a year, but it was a wonderful class that helped me immensely. There were about 10 other kids in the class with me, who all needed an extra boost, so to speak. My mom and my teacher, Mrs. Mansell, are still close friends to this day.

I was in occupational therapy until third grade, working on my motor skills.

I was in speech therapy until fourth grade. I still remember the day that I was pulled out of Mrs. Hartis’s class and told that I had “graduated” from speech.

Towards the end of elementary school, I discovered my passion for writing. The “Young Authors” program / contest was held every year, and each student created their own story, writing and illustrating it. Once finished, it was bound with spiral-looking plastic and sent off to be reviewed. My little book, titled “Electro Girl,” was chosen for recognition, and my parents and I were invited to an awards ceremony. That ceremony is also where I also met my best friend, Melissa.

Since then, I haven’t been illustrating any more books, but I’ve been trying to write them. I’ve kept a blue binder, covered in stickers, that’s full of stories that I wrote from age 10, all the way through the end of high school. I want to dig it out at some point and look through it again.


Reflecting on my time so far on this Earth, I feel immensely humbled and blessed. There were so many people who bent over backwards for me – My parents, my family, our friends, the doctors and nurses, teachers, and so many others. There were thousands of prayers, kind words, and constant encouragement – Then, and now.

Before I leave you on this gorgeous Sunday morning, I want to share my favorite Bible verse with you.

Jeremiah 29:11

Jeremiah 29-11 - lilyandval

Image Credit: lilyandval.com

Jeremiah 29-11 - embeddedfaith

Image Credit: embeddedfaith.org

I think I was in sixth grade when I was first introduced to this passage. I clearly remember the first time I read this passage in my own Bible – I immediately grabbed a pen and underlined it.

For those who know me, I almost NEVER make marks / highlights / notes in any books, at all, unless it’s super important or significant.

It’s stuck with me ever since.

On tough days, I know that I can look at this verse, and I feel peace.

God has a plan.

He always does.

Thanks for reading.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth πŸ™‚