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 #103: “The Elegance of Kindness”

Image Credit: Found on Gratitude and Trust

This post started with an email and a YouTube link. Thanks, Momma V.!

Al’s mom sent this link to me, asking if I’d seen it: Story Behind the Song: The Rainbow Connection


I hadn’t, so I clicked on it. It’s a bit dated now – It was posted in October 2016. However, what I clicked on and witnessed was nearly 12 minutes of magic and appreciation. It was an interview where Paul Williams discusses how “The Rainbow Connection” came to be. In the middle, Williams mentioned his website, Gratitude and Trust, along a post he wrote called “The Elegance of Kindness” about Jim Henson. I paused the video, grabbed a Post-It note, scribbled that down, and continued the video.

Visiting the website a little while later, I noticed that Paul posted it in September 2013. But, dates don’t matter.


As I started reading, all I felt was warmth when I digested Paul’s words. What an amazing life he’s had as a songwriter. He’s also a recovering alcoholic, a major feat by itself. And, to meet AND work with Jim Henson! Wow.

He told the same story in the video as he did in his blog post, about not wanting to throw any surprises at Jim when he and Kenny Ascher were beginning to produce the music for The Muppet Movie (1979).

Jim smiled, and reassured Paul with these words, “Oh, that’s all right Paul. I’m sure they’ll be wonderful. I’ll hear them in the studio when we record them.”

Hearing Jim say that immediately allayed Paul’s fears and worries. He also told this story in the liner notes when the soundtrack was re-released for the nearly 35th anniversary of the movie. And, in a way, this meeting paved the way for one of the most memorable and warm songs that has ever been created.


But the point here is “the elegance of kindness.” As I was telling Al about the video and the blog post, he immediately nodded and said, “Yes, exactly. That’s how many people have described Jim Henson. How kind he was.”

Jim Henson died in 1990. I wasn’t quite two years old when he left the world. But, I’ve learned who he was. And what an impact he has made! In his short 53 years, he became a legend. He created the Muppets, helped develop characters for Sesame Street, produced The Muppet Show, started the Jim Henson Foundation, and founded Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.


I made the same connection that Paul did about Jim. With kindness comes trust. With kindness and trust, magical things can bloom and grow. I don’t think “Rainbow Connection” would have been written if Jim Henson didn’t trust Williams and Ascher. There have been so many issues with trust, time and time again, with the world of entertainment. And it’s not limited to entertainment, either.

I write this post as the pandemic continues. I’m frustrated and appalled at the President of the United States and other leaders who have spouted clear lies, and they have incited great fear among millions of people. Millions of people who have gotten so many mixed messages at the worst possible time. No wonder I have trust issues! And there’s not a shred of kindness from the top. Sadly.


However, my spirit has been renewed. There is kindness, still.

Some Good News with John Krasinski is AWESOME!

I’ve loved Steve Hartman since he started reporting with CBS News in the 1990s (Remember Assignment America? And throwing a dart at a map of the U.S.?). A while ago, he did a four-part series called Kindness 101. Not only are his kids adorable, but he’s sharing many of his stories, old and new, and reminding everyone who’s watching what the important things are in life. Character. Gratitude. Empathy. Optimism. Purpose. I’ve watched all of them, and I’m excited the series is continuing.

Just today, I read a father’s account of his daughter, Emerson, and her letters. Her handwritten letters and decorated envelopes. She wrote a letter to her mailman, Doug, expressing her appreciation for him to help her mail her letters. Now, it’s gone all over the country, through thousands of people and postal workers. I’m inspired to be a pen pal again.

And, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Sesame Street’s theme is now “Smarter, Stronger, Kinder.” The elegance of kindness can, and should, be embraced as young as possible. But, you’re not too old to start. You’re never too old to embrace something like kindness.

Enjoy a special performance of “Rainbow Connection” from Kermit that posted to YouTube last week.

Stay safe, stay well, friends.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #198: Exhaustion

Image Credit: “The Exhaustion Is Real” – The New York Times

I’ve been struggling this month, big time.


Maybe it’s the weather? Here in Virginia, it’s been very mild for January. There have been several days where it’s been above 65 degrees. Now, in the middle of the month, it’s settling back down to chilly and cold. It’s been hovering around 40-45 degrees in the last few days.


I feel like a big failure. I set so many goals at the beginning of the month, and I feel like I’ve already failed all of them.

I mean, how hard is it to write two blog posts a week? But, every night since January 2nd, especially work nights, I’ve come home and not wanted to look at another computer screen. But, at the same time, I’ve watched hours of TV with Al, and buried my nose in Facebook on my phone or games on my iPad. It’s like my brain went into default decompression every night.

I didn’t look at my emails for at least a week, and there were more than 1,000 by the weekend after New Year’s.

And I feel really bad even writing this out – I have NOTHING to complain about. I have my husband and my dogs. I’m not running on fragmented sleep like many I know – Parents, caregivers, those with chronic illnesses, and others. I have it easy.


I know this is part of my anxiety lying to me, but I feel a bit better now getting it out on “paper.”


Writing this short post has actually helped a lot, believe it or not. This is part of the reason why I write. I “brain dump” – I talk it out, I use Post-It Notes at work, and I have my phone close by to use the Notes app. I think getting back into journaling – Actual handwriting – is a good goal for February. I’m involved with enough screens as it is.

In fact, after I finish this post, I’m shutting off all the screens and going to dive back into Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

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 🙂

Tag #87: “3-2-1 Quote Me! – Happiness”

Happiness

Image Credit: Thrive Global

Thanks for tagging me, Kristian!

Here’s the link to the post where I was tagged:


The Rules:

  • Thank the selector
  • Post 2 quotes for the dedicated Topic of the Day, “Happiness”
  • Select 3 bloggers to take part in ‘3-2-1 Quote Me!’

best short happy quotes | happy quotes positive | happy quotes funny | happy quotes positive good vibes | happy quotes about life | happy quotes inspirational | short happy quotes simple | short happy quotes | short happy quotes positive thoughts | short happy quotes smiles | short happy quotes for instagram | short happy quotes love | #happyquotes #happymotto #quotes

Image Credit: Pretty Wild World 

It was hard to pick just two quotes!

happy life quote mother teresa

Image Credit: Country Living


Tag – You’re It!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

 

Getting Personal #164: Happy Birthday, Uncle Richard

Happy Birthday, Uncle Richard. This is your first one in Heaven. We know you are celebrating with Grandma and Grandpa! We miss you so much here on Earth. You are loved!

I think back to this day last year. It was the first Saturday in April, which is always a blood drive day, I kept telling Al to remind me to call Uncle Richard, to tell him Happy Birthday, before we went out to dinner with our friends Casey and Beth. I had such a wonderful 20-minute conversation with him, and I could hear his smile in his voice. I was so thrilled to have remembered to take the time to do that. Little did I know what would happen next.

My Uncle was a life-long bachelor, never married, no kids. He went to Vanderbilt. He was a flight attendant for National Airlines, and then they merged with PanAm. He lived 15 minutes from my grandparents for decades. He loved history, movies, food, and laughter.

He selflessly took care of Grandma Grace and moved her in with him from 2010 until she died peacefully in July 2013.

He always called me his favorite niece. I always laughed, since I was his only niece.

We worried about him for several years, but he persevered through happy times and challenging times.

I called him on Saturday. On Tuesday, the world as my family knew it came crashing down. He’d been in a car accident, four blocks from his house. We found out later he’d suffered a massive stroke. My parents, bless them both, literally dropped everything here in Virginia and got to Miami as fast as possible. My mom, Richard’s kid sister, took charge, and my dad bent over backwards. I stayed put, checking on their house and getting their mail.

Everyone in Florida were wonderful. The church community gathered together and offered everything, especially prayer.

After several weeks, the difficult decision was made to bring in hospice care. He’d fought hard, but his body was failing. He was coherent until the very end, saluting my dad, as he always had since my dad had served in the Coast Guard for more than 23 years. One of them brought the wedding photo of us to his room, and he knew who I was. I was able to call one last time. He wasn’t able to speak or respond to me, but my mom said he was nodding and recognized my voice. I told him I loved him, and then I couldn’t talk any more. I’d said my piece. I felt at peace.

He died peacefully on April 25th. It was the hardest four weeks my parents had been through, and many more months of challenges would follow, making sure his estate was taken care of. Months later, my mom gave an incredible presentation at a church fellowship dinner, dubbed “The Miracles in Miami,” where so many amazing God Things happened during this horrible, tragic, trying time.

Here’s to you, Uncle Richard, from your favorite niece.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #161: “Way in the lake, Lipnik Park in Ruse, Bulgaria” (Reblogged)

I feel at peace when I’m surrounded by nature, especially water, trees, or both.

This photo also symbolizes a path. A path, a journey to the other side.

We are all on our own journeys. The good thing? We can choose our paths. We have that choice. No one can take that away from us.

I’m constantly inspired by nature and landscapes. This particular photo looks like it was taken in autumn, when the leaves are changing colors and the trees are changing seasons. Here in Virginia, we don’t always experience four seasons. But, the trees do. I like to think so, anyway.


What’s your favorite season?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Just Wunderlust

Way in the lake, Lipnik Park in Ruse, Bulgaria

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Writing Prompt #194: “30 Day Disney Challenge” (Day 26)

30 Day Disney Challenge

Image Credit: Meerkat Musings

Day 26 – Saddest death

Image result for saddest disney deaths

Mufasa’s death, The Lion King (1994)

I’m getting emotional just thinking about it. I sobbed the first time I saw it, and realized what was happening.


Come back tomorrow for a new post!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #190: “30 Day Disney Challenge” (Day 24)

30 Day Disney Challenge

Image Credit: Meerkat Musings

Day 24 – A movie that makes you cry

Big Hero 6 (2014)

Image result for big hero 6 official poster

Image result for big hero 6 official poster

Image result for big hero 6

This was a good movie, but it had so many emotions packed into it. I won’t spoil it here, but let’s just say I cried more than once while watching it in the theater. It’s one of those movies where I need to be in a certain mood to watch. It’s one of the most unique Disney movies. It’s also more emotional than I think people expected. The original impression, for many, is this is a futuristic movie with robots and technology, but there’s also a significant human element.


Come back tomorrow for a new post!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Tag #74: Pick Me Up Playlist

Pick Me Up Playlist

Image Credit: like as the waves

I saw this tag on Jenna’s blog, Bookmark Your Thoughts!


The Rules

  1. Link back to ‘Pick Me Up Playlist’ creator, Laura Spoonie.
  2. Tag the blogger who nominated you.
  3. Mention how music helps your Mental Health.
  4. List 10 songs that you would consider to be a part of your ‘Pick Me Up Playlist’ (optional: mention a little bit why each song is on your list).
  5. Tag 10 other bloggers to join in with the ‘Pick Me Up Playlist’ Challenge.

Laura Beth’s Pick Me Up Playlist

Who I Am With You – Chris Young

Mine – Taylor Swift

Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars

Better When I’m Dancin’ – Meghan Trainor

The Way – Clay Aiken

Old Alabama – Brad Paisley

Carolina In My Mind – James Taylor

You Raise Me Up – Josh Groban

Feelin’ It – Scotty McCreery

Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) – Kelly Clarkson


Bonus Musicians!

I echo Jenna here. I love Lindsey Stirling!

Also, pretty much anything by Postmodern Jukebox is uplifting and fun!