Getting Personal #188: October Goals Recap

Image Credit: Ace of Gray

Welcome back!

Here’s the link to my October Goals post:

Getting Personal #184: October Goals

  1. Continue my fun Writing Prompt series, publishing one every Friday in October. — Accomplished!
  2. Celebrate multiple birthdays! — Accomplished!
  3. Volunteer at the blood drive. — Accomplished!
  4. Publish all outstanding Tag posts where I’ve been tagged. — Did not accomplish.
  5. Participate in decorating duffel bags for local children in foster care. — Accomplished!
  6. Celebrate my church’s 50th Anniversary. — Accomplished!
  7. Make at least one thrift store run. — Did not accomplish.
  8. Prep for NaNoWriMo 2019. — Accomplished!
  9. Celebrate the 35th Anniversary of Ghostbusters. — Accomplished!
  10. Send cards to several friends. — Did not accomplish.
  11. Research area rugs for the living room. — Did not accomplish.
  12. Try some new recipes. — Accomplished!
  13. Test-bake the cookies for the upcoming Cookie Exchange with my P.E.O. chapter. — Did not accomplish.
  14. Read every night before bed. — Semi-Achieved.
  15. Enjoy Halloween! — Accomplished!

October was a jam-packed month! I was able to volunteer at the blood drive, and I was also able to give a pint! Turns out that my Power Red donation in August was only counted as one unit because of some complications I experienced. So, I was eligible to donate in October, rather than having to wait until December to give again. I learned this week that my pint of blood went to the University of Virginia (UVA) Medical Center in Charlottesville.

I’m very excited to kick off NaNoWriMo 2019! I’m writing something new, and it’s something out of my comfort zone. Stay tuned!

We celebrated my mom’s birthday during the first weekend of October. Then, Nick and Savy’s anniversary and Mia’s birthday in the middle of the month! We also went to a fun Spooky Brunch during the weekend of the 12th, where we ate amazing food, watched The Nightmare Before Christmas and Beetlejuice, and enjoyed each other’s company.

The church’s 50th Anniversary was incredible. More than two years of work by many people came together in a wonderful weekend. The combined service on Sunday was packed – It was easily 500 people. We had several former pastors attend. All the musical groups performed together – Children’s choir, chancel choir, handbell choir. The catered lunch afterwards was delicious as well.

The significant new recipe I tried was Greek Chicken Bowls. Delicious! And it fed us for lunch for a week!

Did you have any goals for the month of October?

Come back tomorrow to see my November Goals!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #247: October WIP Challenge Prompt: Bewitched!!

Found on Didi Oviatt

I love Didi’s monthly writing challenges!

Here’s the link to Didi’s challenge post: October WIP Challenge Prompt: Bewitched!!

Lizzy adored Halloween. When she and Hunter met, they had bonded over one movie in particular: The Nightmare Before Christmas. Multiple times since then, they’d dressed up as Jack and Sally. Everyone thought they were adorable together.

But Lizzy also enjoyed another Halloween tradition – Becoming a witch. It was a secret from many of her friends at the Lancer Institute, or LT for short. But, the minute the air turned crisp and cool, her witch’s hat, black robes, and potions came out of the closet.

She and two of her closest friends, Brittany and Ashley, gathered in the woods, about two miles from LT’s campus. It was becoming a nightly tradition since that wild October night three years prior.

Brittany was in charge of the massive black cauldron. Earlier this October, they’d constructed a makeshift storage area in their favorite clearing. It wasn’t immediately visible to the average passerby, so the three ladies were pretty proud of themselves. It was a welcome change to Brittany – Lugging that massive cauldron was getting old. Her arms were pretty buff, though.

“It’s almost nightfall, my pretties. What spell should we conjure tonight?” Ashley cackled slightly.

Lizzy looked up at the crimson sky, contemplating. Emotionally, she was sad. Hunter, having to work, wasn’t able to come to the annual LT Halloween celebration. They would still dress up as Jack and Sally, per their tradition, but she was still sad he wouldn’t be at LT to celebrate like he had for the previous two years. She wished he was still a student with her.

“Lizzy? Darling, are you okay?”

Tears in her eyes, she turned to Brittany and Ashley. This felt like a true sisterhood. All of them, at some point, had been rejected by several of the eight sororities at LT. Who needed sororities when the three of them could gather in the woods at any time of night?

Lizzy swallowed. “I want to conjure a happiness spell.”

Ashley and Brittany looked confused. “A happiness spell?”

Lizzy nodded, jutting out her chin. “I’ve been so sad recently. Being here with both of you makes me happy, but I want to be happier.”

Ashley chortled slightly. “Is this because you miss Hunter?”

Lizzy stuck her tongue out. “Maybe.”

The three got to work.

“Double, double, toil and trouble …”

POOF!

As the cloud of hazy purple smoke started to clear, Lizzy felt a bit dizzy. She hadn’t had anything to drink, but she felt drunk. She stumbled a bit, but Brittany caught her.

“Lizzy?”

“I feel great! Oh, wow …”

Her world went sideways.

Lizzy woke up, puzzled as to why she felt the cold, damp leaves on her face. She was on the ground. Alone.

“Brittany? Ashley!”

Lizzy thought she’d heard faint giggling.

“Ashley! Brittany! This isn’t funny!”

Lizzy grabbed her hat, and stumbled to her feet.

“Where are you?”

Lizzy turned in circles, feeling increasingly confused. She certainly wasn’t happy. She was scared.

The spell had backfired. And Lizzy was all alone.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #246: Fall Fridays, Number 7

Image Credit: Unsplash

This is the final installment of Fall Fridays!

I think I’m going to do this every fall. I’ve really enjoyed it!

As the wonderful season of autumn / fall has started, I wanted to create an original writing prompt series to celebrate!

I invite everyone who sees this to participate, if you choose.

The idea is to look at the prompt, take at least five minutes on the Fridays during October 2019, and come up with a story/poem/scene, or whatever strikes your fancy with those words.

This has been extended from September! You can use the image at the top of this post – Just please make sure to credit it.

Ready?

Here we go!

  • October 4th: Corn Maze
  • October 11th: Hay Ride
  • October 18th: Football
  • October 25th: Halloween

The bonfire made shadows across everyone’s faces. Allison shivered. Then, David stretched, and put his arm around her. She felt warmer.

They couldn’t remember whose idea it had been, but having a bonfire on Halloween was becoming a tradition. Everyone had outgrown trick-or-treating age-wise. Lucy was the only one, for now, stuck taking her younger siblings around the neighborhood. She’d promised Allison a text once her sisters and brother were back home, inevitably fighting over the candy.

Allison sighed as she felt David’s lips graze her forehead. She jumped slightly when she heard the neighborhood owl hoot into the night. Past Halloween nights varied in temperature, but this year, it was crisp, cold, and a bit spooky.

Allison jumped again when her phone buzzed.

Hey, Ally, I’m running late. My sister tore her princess dress and had the meltdown of meltdowns. Who else is there?

Allison smiled. David shifted slightly to let her text back.

No worries here. It’s just David and me so far. But, I think Scott and Jeremy will be here soon. You know Scott likes you.

Lucy rolled her eyes, and chuckled, amidst the chaos of her five siblings running around the house. She couldn’t leave just yet – No other adults were home yet. She perched on the couch, hoping her parents or older sister would hurry up and relieve her.

Scott’s cute, sure, but I like Jeremy better. I’m glad he’ll be there. Anyone else?

Allison was distracted. David had lifted her chin and they’d been making out since Lucy’s first text. His hands were everywhere. For once, Allison didn’t resist.

“I like this, David,” she breathed.

“So do I. Although, I think you’re getting a little warm. How about taking off your sweatshirt? Do you need help?”

Allison giggled. “Sure, I could use some help.”

The minute David started lifting her high school orchestra sweatshirt up, he gasped.

“David? What’s wrong?”

“AAAAAHHHHH!”

“David?!”

Cackling, Joker-like laughter followed.

“Damn it, Scott, you scared the bejesus out of me!”

Allison pulled down her sweatshirt, hoping no one else had seen her lacy bra.

Scott was lifting a Michael Myers mask, still laughing.

“Hoo boy, I got you good!”

Jeremy was behind him, carrying a six-pack. David was a bit confused – None of them were 21. But, David also knew better than to ask a lot of questions.

“Damn, Scott. I screamed like a girl.”

Allison socked him in the arm. “Hey! Don’t say that.”

Scott laughed again. “He’s not wrong, Ally.”

She rolled her eyes. “Still, it’s not a nice thing to say. especially in the presence of women.”

Scott chortled. “Whatever, Miss Feminist.”

Allison knew Scott was trying to rattle her cage. But, she didn’t like it. He’d been teasing her since first grade.

David sat up, and Allison straightened.

Allison opened her mouth, about to tell them about Lucy and her texts.

In the direction of Lucy’s house, there was another scream.

After the scream, they only heard the crackle and pop of the raging bonfire.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #80: “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” *Re-Read*

Here’s my review of the first book:

I wasn’t anticipating it would be more than four months in between reviews, but hey, life happens. And I realized I didn’t want to burn myself out with reading the series back-to-back. 

Harry narrowly makes it back to Hogwarts for his second year. There are more adventures, and multiple misadventures, and it’s a thrill ride basically the entire time.

There’s more danger and conflict in this book. Originally, I declared this book as my favorite of the series the first time around. Re-reading it now, I can see why I thought that way. I love so many things about this one – The mystery of the Chamber throughout the book, the introduction of new characters, and not exactly knowing what’s going to happen next.

One of my favorite characters in this book specifically is Ginny Weasley. I won’t spoil anything for those who may not have read the book, but I adore her.

I’m looking forward to reading Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban soon!

5 out of 5 stars.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #245: Fall Fridays, Number 6

Image Credit: Unsplash

As the wonderful season of autumn / fall has started, I wanted to create an original writing prompt series to celebrate!

I invite everyone who sees this to participate, if you choose.

The idea is to look at the prompt, take at least five minutes on the Fridays during October 2019, and come up with a story/poem/scene, or whatever strikes your fancy with those words.

This has been extended from September! You can use the image at the top of this post – Just please make sure to credit it.

Ready?

Here we go!

  • October 4th: Corn Maze
  • October 11th: Hay Ride
  • October 18th: Football
  • October 25th: Halloween

Matt called Andrea, all excited.

“Guess what? I scored season tickets!”

“What?! No way! Congratulations!”

“It only took 15 years, but I have them in my hot little hand. We’re going to Lambeau!”

Andrea was already looking up flights before the first sentence tumbled out of Matt’s mouth. He’d been a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan since childhood. Scoring season tickets was a dream come true. He’d been to Lambeau Field before – Roughly one home game every 3-4 years, and an away game near his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina every single year, without fail. His dad wasn’t a Green Bay fan, but he indulged his son.

Matt sighed on the phone, reminiscing.

“I just … I just wish Dad was here to see this. I know he wanted to be here for this.”

Andrea cradled the phone, pausing her frantic typing. Matt’s dad, in the throes of depression, died by suicide when Matt was 23. Scott had turned 50 the week before.

In a way, Matt was grateful he’d been at school when Dad died. But, he was still sad he’d died alone.

Mom had left, abandoning her 25-year marriage. The alcoholism, not the depression, had broken her spirit.

As Andrea listened, Matt recounted the good days, but clearly remembered the multiple beers at all the football games. It wasn’t necessarily unusual – Beer and football went hand-in-hand. But, Scott always pushed the limit.

When Matt was 15, just shy of getting his learner’s permit, he took the keys away for the first time. In the beginnings of a blizzard, Matt carefully drove the rental car from Lambeau to their hotel. Scott loudly protested, but Matt handled it with grace. Scott passed out in the Honda not 10 minutes later. The snow was getting heavier as he carefully navigated to the Holiday Inn after the Packers’ hard-fought loss to the Chiefs.

After calling security to get him out of the Honda, Scott woke up long enough to barf in the parking lot, all over the fresh snow. Matt winced. After Scott was cleaned up and snoring away, likely dreaming of his next drink, that was the first time Matt cried.

He remembered calling Mom, and her reaction was strangely calm.

“I’m sorry you had to deal with that, sweetheart. Especially alone. Are you okay?”

Matt swallowed. “I … Is it … Is it bad that I want to leave him here?”

Mom sighed. “Oh, honey, I’m sorry. It’s not bad. I’ve had that thought many times, unfortunately. I can send you money if you need it. But, with the blizzard …”

Matt leaned against the bank of pay phones. “I’m stuck, for now. I wish we’d picked a different game. I have school.”

Mom smiled. Her son, so studious and empathetic.

“I just want you … both of you … to be safe. Call me when he wakes up, okay?”

Matt sighed. “I wish you were here.”

“With you, yes. I’m so tired of it, all of it. But this is something my son, at 15, shouldn’t have to worry about.”

“But I am worried, Mom. He’s passed out in the double bed. I’m afraid he’s going to get sick again.”

“Go, check on him. I’ll keep watching the weather. Call me in a couple hours, okay? Don’t worry about waking me up. I don’t think I’ll be sleeping tonight.”

Their dog barked in the background, followed by sibling squabbling.

“I gotta go take care of your brother and sister. Please, call me later, okay? I love you, Matt. Thank you for being there.”

Matt sighed, crying again. “I love you, too, Mom. I’ll call around 10.”

Matt hung up, wanting to sprint out the lobby doors instead of going back up to the fourth floor. For the first time, he was truly afraid what he was going to find in Room 452.

“Matt? Matt? Are you still there?”

Andrea brought Matt back to reality. He wiped his cheeks.

“Yeah, sorry about that. Memories.”

“I know you miss your Dad. We all do.”

“Thanks, Andrea. It’s weird. Most of the time – 98 percent of the time – I’m happy. But, that other two percent comes in like a flood and takes over my brain.”

Andrea shifted the phone. “That’s why you’ve been in some sort of counseling or therapy since 2017. Don’t beat yourself up too badly, Matt. You’re a human being. You’re grieving the man you called your hero.”

Matt scoffed. “Some hero. He drank himself to death.”

“No, he didn’t. He was in a hole he couldn’t get out of. Depression is weird like that.”

Andrea struggled with the words. It was still painful, nearly 2 1/2 years later.

Matt sighed. “Hence why I haven’t touched alcohol. That made me really popular in college, by the way.”

Andrea chuckled. Matt was always able to use humor to shift conversations. It was one of many things she liked about him. As he talked, she felt that familiar longing. She’d wanted to be with him for years, but had suppressed her feelings. They’d been friends since sophomore year of college, about six months before Scott had descended into what would have been his last spiral.

Matt smiled. He was grateful for Andrea’s friendship. She’d been by his side in the good times, and especially the bad times. Many others, including his entire fraternity, had all but abandoned him.

Not Andrea. She’d stuck by him, even pushing him to finish his degree on time. She knew that was the one big thing Scott wanted. She was proud to have helped him so much.

Now she wanted to help him again. This was the first major good news in a long, long time.

“I found a flight, Matt. Lambeau, here we come!”

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #99: Thoughts on Multi-Level Marketing (MLMs)

Image Credit: Reddit

Disclaimer: This post contains strong language.

I’ve been wanting to write a post about multi-level marketing for a while. But, I’ve resisted. They are everywhere.

Full disclosure: I’ve been swept up in them for a while. Not selling for any company, but buying from them and “supporting” friends.

Throughout my life, I was buying from MLMs and not really realizing it. This means that I have hosted a party, attended a party, or bought product from a seller or consultant.

  • Mary Kay
  • Avon
  • Thirty-One
  • Stella and Dot
  • The Pampered Chef
  • Pure Romance
  • Arbonne
  • Scentsy
  • Origami Owl
  • Jamberry
  • LuLaRoe
  • Young Living
  • Sseko Designs
  • Rodan + Fields

Along the way, I have been approached by consultants to try samples, buy product, or actually sell Cutco, Advocare, Plexus, Norwex, Jamberry, Young Living, Amway, and Sseko Designs.

Over the last several months, I have been researching MLMs. It all started with John Oliver’s piece – Multilevel Marketing. Al and I watch his pieces on YouTube every week. It’s funny, entertaining, but also well-researched and frighteningly real.

I felt sick after watching his piece on MLMs. I realized, in the span of 30 minutes, how much money I had FUCKING WASTED on shitty products for many, many years. I’m also grateful I resisted “investing” in any of these companies, meaning that I never signed up to sell anything. Sure, I hosted a few parties, but I never joined anyone’s team.

And I’m so glad I didn’t.

You see, many of these MLMs are like cults. You’re swept up into the world of the company, its culture, and their products. And it’s really, really hard to leave.

I’m so glad I didn’t pay money upfront to “start a business.” Sure, I bought a lot of product – Makeup, skincare, bags, nail strips, essential oils, diffusers, jewelry, clothing, and more.

I recently added up how much money in extra product I had in my house from Young Living. This included unopened essential oils, laundry detergent, cleaning products, makeup, skincare, and foaming hand soap. It was roughly $2,000.

I had it all out on my kitchen counter. And I wanted to throw up. $2,000 is a mortgage payment and then some.

All because I believed that paying for overpriced, “chemical-free” essential oil products would help my family be healthier. For more than TWO YEARS. I was buying product every month, to the tune of about $100 per month, sometimes up to $400 per month. I went back to my purchasing history and cried. I wasted so much of my hard-earned money.

Al actually asked me to stop using the YL detergent months ago because it wasn’t cleaning his clothes as well. That was the first light bulb moment for me.

Then, I started closely researching the cost of my products with Rodan + Fields, and LuLaRoe (LLR). There was so much money in my bathroom and my closet. R+F was costing me about $300 every eight weeks. My skincare regimen in their fancy bottles, and their tiny tube of LashBoost. The LashBoost alone was almost $70. Per tube.

After I joined a Facebook group called Sounds like MLM but ok, my eyes were opened even wider. There were WAY MORE MLMs than I ever imagined. This group has a master list that is literally pages long.

That’s how I discovered Sseko Designs was a fucking MLM, for example. At first, I felt hurt, betrayed even. Hardly anyone had attended the party I had thrown on Facebook earlier this year, and now I know why.

And then there are the lawsuits. One of the biggest reasons I wanted to stop buying R+F several months ago was because of the class-action lawsuit I discovered specifically about LashBoost.

Here are some of the details, from the Keller Rohrback Law Offices: Rodan + Fields LashBoost Litigation.

Another glorious thing I discovered was The Dream podcast. If you haven’t listened to it yet, I highly recommend it. You can find it on Stitcher and Apple Podcasts. Jane Marie is a gem, and I can’t wait to see what happens with Season 2.

I could go on for days about MLMs. They are some of the most deceptive “companies” out there.

What bothers me the most, however, is how predatory they are. They advertise, falsely, that you can make so much money so quickly. Yet, in my interactions with consultants trying to get me to join their teams, all the language is shady and vague. Many pitches are copied and pasted from their upline, or the people above them.

In my research, I’ve discovered that roughly 95 percent of people in MLMs don’t make any money. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

Google “income disclosure statement,” and immediately many MLM names come up behind it – Monat, It Works, Arbonne, Young Living, Beachbody.

For example, Monat’s income disclosure statement reads “A typical Participant in the Plan earns between Cdn $22 and $1,188 annualized.”

That’s NOTHING. Fucking nothing. Only $1,188 PER YEAR? And that’s Cdn – Canadian. Currently, 1 Canadian dollar equals 0.76 United States dollar. Quick math – I think that translates to $902.88 USD per year.

That’s not even enough to pay my mortgage for ONE MONTH.

And that $1,188 CDN doesn’t include costs incurred by hosting parties, participating in events, and purchasing products. So, very likely, a Monat partner will never see that $902.88 in a year.

I’ve heard horror stories of people, mostly women, (but men are targeted for MLMs, too) have accumulated THOUSANDS of dollars in debt from purchasing inventory. My Facebook Marketplace is full of people desperate to unload their excess stock of Young Living oils, unsold LuLaRoe clothes and leggings, Scentsy products, and more.

Bottom line: MLMs are designed to prey on vulnerable people – Women and men. And many are stuck in it for years. It’s all very sad, and infuriating.

However, there is some good news. At the beginning of October, AdvoCare and its former CEO agreed to pay $150 million and be banned from multi-level marketing to resolve Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charges that the company operated an illegal pyramid scheme.

My hope is the FTC continues to investigate these predatory companies and take action. Like many industries, however, there are lobbyists and politics involved. I’ve posted a link to the Direct Selling Association (DSA) below in my resources list.

So, what can you do about MLMs?

  • Become aware. Many MLMs follow similar models, and use similar language to get people to buy in.
  • If you know someone involved in an MLM, don’t try to convince them to get out or stop. It’s like being in an abusive relationship – Only the person involved can decide when they want to leave. No one else, sadly, can change their mind.
  • Research. A simple Google search brings up articles from various sources, including The Washington Post, CNN Money, and AARP.
  • If you are approached by someone to invest or buy in, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Be your own advocate. Use words such as MLM, multi-level marketing, direct sales, or pyramid scheme.
  • At craft fairs, farmers markets, and other local events, support your neighbors and their small businesses. I guarantee you it will be a better experience for everyone. The money you spend will help them grow and invest in their products, whether it’s handmade soap, hand-crafted jewelry, doll clothes, or locally-sourced food.
  • If you help organize craft fairs, fundraisers, or farmers markets, work to limit the number of MLMs that are allowed to participate. Some places and organizations have gone so far to ban them entirely. I’m not telling you what to do, but just be mindful of the businesses you want to attract and support.
  • “No” is a complete sentence.

Resources

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #187: My Skin & Makeup Routines (Part 6)

Image Credit: Pinterest

It’s been well over a year since I published a skin and makeup routine post!!

Here are the links to my other posts:

Skin

I decided a few months ago to switch back to LUSH products, and Bath & Body Works. I finally decided I wasn’t happy with the cost of the Rodan + Fields products, among other things. More to come on that with a different blog post, very soon.

  • Ocean Salt (face and body scrub)
  • Angels on Bare Skin (face and body cleanser)
  • Magic Crystals (shower scrub)
  • Eucalyptus Spearmint (body wash and foam bath)
  • Eau Roma Water (toner)
  • Imperialis (moisturizer)
  • D’Fluff (shaving soap)

Hair

  • I Love Juicy (shampoo)
  • American Cream (conditioner)

Makeup

I threw out all my old products, including everything from Mary Kay and Savvy Minerals by Young Living.

I’m happy with my LUSH and drugstore products at this point. At the moment, I only use liquid eyeliner and mascara. However, I plan to use a Target gift card on some new blush and a few eyeshadow palettes soon.

What about you?

Do you have a certain skin routine? What about makeup?

Have you tried any homemade recipes related to skin or makeup?

Check back in a few months – I’ll likely have another update post to share!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂