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 🙂

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 🙂

Commentary #110: Fatphobia in the Medical System, and Thin Privilege

I found this on Facebook on July 29, 2020. It was originally shared by Heatherina Lavender on May 25, 2018.

This was utterly shocking to me. I’m ashamed of how shocking it was.

No wonder Americans have issues with eating disorders!


The resounding comment I got when I shared this on my Facebook page/profile was about Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Many of my friends have it, but almost all of them were not properly or appropriately diagnosed for YEARS. And that is completely unacceptable.

I remember learning about PCOS in “Family Life.” I think The Care and Keeping of You, by American Girl, may have covered it? I can’t remember for sure. I also read Girlology multiple times through the library.

Here’s some more information about PCOS:

  • The ovaries produce an abnormal amount of androgens, male sex hormones that women typically have in small amounts.
  • Some women do not have cysts in their ovaries with PCOS, and some women have cysts that do not have a PCOS diagnosis.
  • The most common treatment is medication, but there is currently no cure.
  • Many women with PCOS have insulin resistance.
  • Symptoms: Missed periods, irregular periods, excess body hair, weight gain (especially in the belly region), acne or oily skin, infertility, skin tags, dark or thick patches of skin in certain areas.

I’ve included a list of resources at the end of this post.


I’m not a medical professional, far from it. I’m not here to give medical advice. However – Something I completely agree with in this series of screenshots is this: Unless your child is severely obese, there should be no discussion of weight at their doctor visits, especially not in front of them.

Having worked for two different healthcare systems since 2012, I’ve watched the changes in body mass index (BMI), weight management, diabetes, nutrition, and more. It’s been staggering, and a lot of it has made my head spin. I can’t imagine how it feels for people with chronic pain, autoimmune diseases/disorders, and parents!

Also, the way weight is approached needs to change. A good example is what happened to a family member more than a decade ago, probably 17-18 years ago now. They knew full well they were overweight, and never went to the doctor regularly. Well, this family member ended up with a terrible UTI, and needed antibiotics at a minimum. They went, reluctantly, and the doctor advised bloodwork since they were already there at the office. To no one’s surprise, the bloodwork indicated Type 2 diabetes.

But, here’s the kicker. The doctor didn’t say “I want you to lose weight.”

The doctor said, “I’m giving you a week to improve these numbers. Then we’ll re-evaluate.”

This family member went home, started walking more frequently, and started changing their diet. It’s been a slow process, but the doctor was pleased with their progress in that one week. And the progress continued. Their diabetes is now under control, and has been successfully controlled for the last several years. It’s remarkable what that doctor said. It changed the family member’s life!


I mentioned eating disorders (EDs) earlier. I’ve been educating myself on EDs for quite a while now. I personally have never truly experienced or suffered from (or diagnosed with) anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating, or disordered eating, but I know many people who have. It’s mostly women, but I know men who have struggled as well. It’s called a disorder for a reason. Many of my friends, thankfully, have received help.

One blogger who truly opened my eyes has been BeautyBeyondBones. She posts the most amazing and delectable recipes based on her specific eating plan (Specific Carb Diet – SCD – among others), but she has also been incredibly candid about her ongoing journey with ED. She was in treatment, relapsed, and has been recovering ever since.


The other thing I noticed was “thin privilege.” I had to look it up.

In simple terms, it means that I, among others, have never experienced demeaning comments, unsolicited advice, medical discrimination, paying more money for clothes and airline seats, and other shaming instances because I’m “thin.”

Have I gained weight? Of course. I’ve gained about 35 pounds since I met Al in 2010. But, there are reasons why – I graduated from college and wasn’t walking around campus multiple times a day, every day; I started working a job in front of a computer (and that hasn’t changed since 2011, except for getting a sit-stand desk); and I got older. Studies show that a woman’s metabolism begins to slow down at age 25.

If we looked at my BMI, I’m borderline overweight for my height. But, I don’t let that affect me.

Do I struggle with body image? Yes. A lot of it was ingrained in my head from certain family members since childhood, church members, and my ex-boyfriend who was incredibly vain and wanted me to look good for him at all times. I struggled with how to work out properly for years.

Now, in my early 30s, I finally have a healthier mindset. You are not defined by your weight or image. Children are certainly not defined by that. I have vowed to remove this harmful language from my vocabulary!


Resources


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Tag #95: The Mid-Year Freak Out, 2020

This is a consensus cloud of Books Everyone Should Read. Image Credit: Imgur

I’ve seen this tag on several of my book blogging friends’ sites, so I figured I would jump in and give my two cents.


Best book you’ve read so far in 2020?

The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity. It’s going to be hard to knock this one off the top.

Best sequel of 2020 so far?

I haven’t read any sequels in 2020.


New release you haven’t read yet, but want to?

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.


Most anticipated release of the second half of 2020?

Superman’s Not Coming: Our National Water Crisis and What We the People Can Do About It, Erin Brockovich (August 25, 2020)


Biggest disappointment?

Nothing so far, book-wise.


Biggest surprise?

Big Magic: How to Life a Creative Life, and Let Go of Your Fear. This was one of my Christmas gifts from Al. I hadn’t read any of Gilbert’s other books, although I was intrigued by Eat, Pray, Love. I read this book at the right time.


Favorite new (to me) author?

Neil Gaiman.


Newest fictional crush?

I’m not a fictional crush person anymore.


Newest favorite character?

Lettie Hempstock – The Ocean at the End of the Lane.


Book that made you cry?

Thank You, Mr. Falker.


Book that made you happy?

Big Magic.


Favorite book to movie adaptation you’ve seen this year?

I don’t think I’ve watched one yet. I do know that I want to watch Just Mercy after I finish reading Stevenson’s book. Wow.


Favorite review you’ve written this year?

The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity.


Most beautiful book you bought or received so far this year?


What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

  • Buried Colony (ARC)
  • Educated
  • Sketch
  • Smashed *Re-Read*
  • The Hate U Give
  • The Nickel Boys

Tag – You’re It!

I’m not tagging anyone specifically. If you feel led, do this tag. I had so much fun!


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 🙂

Getting Personal #216: Fifteenth TBR Recap

Image Credit: Pinterest

Welcome back!


Here’s what I’ve read since my last TBR update:

  1. Betz-Hamilton, Axton, The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity
  2. Gaiman, Neil, The Ocean at the End of the Lane
  3. Gilbert, Elizabeth, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
  4. Jennings, Ken, Brainiac: Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs — DNF
  5. Martin, Kristen, Soulflow (Audiobook via That Smart Hustle podcast)
  6. Rowling, J.K., Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire *Re-Read* — DNF
  7. Stevenson, Bryan, Just Mercy

Removing from Laura Beth’s TBR

Nothing! I read almost every book on my last TBR.


Keep & Re-Classify – Laura Beth’s Updated TBR

  1. Elliott, T.E., Loved by the Beast: A Historical Retelling of Beauty and the Beast
  2. Westover, Tara, Educated

Adding to the TBR

  1. DiAngelo, Robin, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism
  2. Oviatt, Didi, Sketch
  3. Thomas, Angie, The Hate U Give
  4. Weilert, Benjamin M., Buried Colony (ARC)
  5. Whitehead, Colson, The Underground Railroad *Re-Read*
  6. Whitehead, Colson, The Nickel Boys
  7. Wilkinson, Lauren, American Spy
  8. Zailckas, Koren, Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood *Re-Read*

So, my current TBR is 10 books.

Do you have a TBR?

What are you looking forward to reading next?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂