Getting Personal #225: October Goals

Image Credit: Centre for Collaborative Health

Hello, October! I’m loving the cooler weather. Fall is on its way.


Here are my goals for the month of October:

  1. Donate blood.
  2. Celebrate Mom’s birthday!
  3. Publish a post about my July Camp NaNoWriMo session.
  4. Keep up with my pen pals!
  5. Put away all the clean laundry.
  6. Go through my fall/winter clothes.
  7. Designate what clothes to donate.
  8. Publish my regular TBR Recap post.
  9. Continue work on the filing system.
  10. Clean off the couch in my office.
  11. Complete my American Girl re-organization project with my blue storage cubes.
  12. Prepare for NaNoWriMo 2020.
  13. Help my former professor by reviewing and giving feedback on her book.
  14. Send my completed second draft of my novel to my readers.

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


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #224: September Goals Recap

Image Credit: BeautyBeyondBones

I’m back, with a vengeance!

I fell into a terrible slump in early September. Dealing with my generalized anxiety, COVID-19, work stress, and feeling like a failure. But, I’ve picked myself up, and I’m ready to get back to the blog!


Here were my goals for the month of September:

  1. Celebrate our 10-year dating anniversary! — Accomplished!
  2. Get the photos and other wall hanging items off the floor in my office and get them on the walls. — Did not accomplish.
  3. Make at least one thrift store donation run. — Accomplished!
  4. Finish getting my P.E.O. President materials organized. — Semi-Achieved.
  5. Publish a post about my July Camp NaNoWriMo session. — Did not accomplish.
  6. List at least one of my three boxes of American Girl items for sale. — Accomplished!
  7. Keep up with my pen pals! — Did not accomplish.
  8. Publish at least one Writing Prompt post. — Did not accomplish.
  9. Put away all the clean laundry. — Did not accomplish.
  10. Finish re-organizing the filing system. — Did not accomplish.
  11. Finish de-cluttering the dining room buffet. — Did not accomplish.

Al and I celebrated the 10th anniversary of our first date by getting take-out dinner from a wonderful local restaurant, Lobscouser.

September was full of working from home, going into the office a bit more frequently, paying off more credit card debt, and developing some strategies for the next few months. I feel like I’ve been more on top of things with the house, with the exception of my office. I need to get that mojo back!

I’m also really close to finishing the book I’m reading. It’s been a breath of fresh air, but I’ve been so tired at night that I don’t have the energy to read more than a few pages. We have enjoyed sitting on our porch more often, now that the weather is cooler.

In terms of writing, I made some more notes about my second draft. I need to go back into it and add a few more things before sending it back to my readers. I’m long past my self-imposed deadline of getting it to them (originally the end of August), but I will persevere in October!

I’m excited to participate in NaNoWriMo in November, but I currently have no idea what I’m doing for it yet.


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

Come back tomorrow to see my goals for October!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

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 #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 🙂

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 🙂

Getting Personal #217: Ten-Year Anniversary of My Escape from Abuse

Image Credit: Ethical_Leader

Today is the day that I have been strangely anxious about for the last several weeks.

Today – July 17, 2020 – marks ten years since I escaped from my abusive boyfriend, John.

While I haven’t written down the entire book of what happened to me from 2006 through July 17, 2010, I wanted to share pieces of it, and things I’ve learned in these last ten years.


Something that Elin Stebbins Waldal wrote in her memoir, Tornado Warning, will stick with me forever:

“… I know what he can be and is capable of so I almost always feel on guard. It’s hard to just relax and trust him. It’s all so weird.”


The abuse started gradually. It was all mental and emotional abuse. John’s words could cut me like a knife. One text message could spin me out of control into What-If-Land, where I was terrified that I’d said the wrong thing. Eventually, even the words “I love you” didn’t feel safe.

John hit me twice in the week that I broke up with him, that fateful week in mid-July 2010. That was the only true physical abuse I endured. I was lucky to get out when I did.

I feel fortunate that I didn’t suffer as much physical abuse as Elin did, but, to be honest, the emotional and mental abuse was worse. The two hits that John delivered on that Monday and Wednesday simply solidified my beliefs that I was not happy, that this was not right, and that I finally had enough courage to speak up, say something, and leave.


John and I dated from July 1, 2006 through July 17, 2010. The first year, and part of the second year, I thought they were great, although there were red flags that I missed. John swept me off my feet. He romanced me. I thought he truly loved me.

I thought we were okay because we’d successfully dated the entire first year at different high schools. Turns out, he completely changed his college plans to be with me. I knew I was going to Longwood in November 2006. He had been accepted to VCU, which was only 45 minutes away in Richmond. But, he applied to Longwood, got in, and decided to go there to be with me. It sounds romantic, but it was the beginning of the perfect storm.

He started isolating me almost immediately. I remember how upset he was that I got to move in earlier than him, because I was going on a retreat with my Honors College classmates the weekend before the semester started. I could hear the anger and jealousy in his voice during the few phone calls we exchanged before he moved on campus. Each phone call made me feel horrible, like I had done something wrong.

It only got worse from there. I spent nearly every break from college crying to my mom, unloading all my worries, anxieties, fretting, fears, and more. Once I dried my tears, I felt better. I picked myself up, dusted off, and moved along. But, the next break, it happened again, like clockwork.

Abuse manifests itself in so many ugly, horrendous forms.

It took years for me to see the light. Even though EVERYONE around me saw right through it, years before. I finally realized, at some point in 2010, that I was not the same Laura Beth. I wanted to change.

The key with abusive relationships (and friendships) is that YOU have recognize that you’re being abused. No one else can convince you otherwise.


When I read Janine Latus’s book in early 2016, I made these observations in my Book Review:

  • The constant feeling of walking on eggshells when talking to / being around your partner – You never feel calm / relaxed around them.
  • Being contacted multiple times by phone / text/ Facebook message, etc. – Always checking in, concerned if I was minutes late to something with him.
  • Restricting time with friends and family.
  • Manipulating ideas and thoughts (Example: John put the idea in my head that my own mother was one of the laziest people on this Earth, and he convinced me to tell her that. It was absolutely awful. Mom forgave me, but I still feel terrible about that, all these years later.)
  • Certain habits become routine / expected – John was always hunting for the new trends, and wanted me to go along with him. He wanted me to wear what he thought looked best. He asked me multiple times to change clothes (phrased as, “You’re wearing that?”), even if I felt great in what I had been wearing.

This book hit me harder than Tornado Warning, which surprised me. I remember reading the end of this book while Al was asleep next to me in bed, and my eyes filled with tears as I closed the book, filled with gratitude that I found and married the man who loves me for who I am and doesn’t want to change me.

I’m glad I read this. It renewed my gratitude that I am a survivor, but also renewed my awareness that women (and men) still suffer from, and die from, abuse every single day.


If nothing else, there are two specific terms that I want you to take away from this post: Love bombing, and gaslighting.

Love bombing: The practice of showering a person with excessive affection and attention in order to gain control or significantly influence their behavior.

Gaslighting: manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.

I was a victim of both.


Resources

Tornado Warning: A Memoir of Teen Dating Violence and its Effects on a Woman’s Life, Elin Stebbins Waldal

If I Am Missing or Dead: A Sister’s Story of Love, Murder, and Liberation, Janine Latus

Love Bombing: 10 Signs of Over-the-Top Love | Healthline

Love Bombing: A Narcissist’s Secret Weapon | Psychology Today

Manipulative people hook their victims with a tactic called ‘love bombing’ – here are the signs you’ve been a target | Business Insider

Love is Respect (1-866-331-9474 or TTY 1-866-331-8453)

One Love

I’ve counseled hundreds of victims of gaslighting. Here’s how to spot if you’re being gaslighted. | Vox

Gaslighting | Britannica

How to survive gaslighting: when manipulation erases your reality | The Guardian

A Deeper Look Into Gaslighting | National Domestic Violence Hotline (U.S. – 1-800-799-7233, 1-800-787-3224 (TTY))

Gaslighting: A Sneaky Kind of Emotional Abuse | betterhelp


Thank you for reading. I’m so grateful to all who have supported me in the last ten years and longer.

I’m especially grateful to Al, who loves me for who I am, has never tried to change me, and is an amazing husband. I try my best to be as amazing of a wife to him.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂