Writing Prompt #71: “52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge” (Week 33)

Week #33: Something You Look Forward To.

I’m definitely looking forward to the next few months, as we start to wrap up the year 2017, for several reasons.

I start what will hopefully be my LAST paralegal class next week! It’s Legal Writing, and I’m excited about it. I just ordered my textbook, and I’m excited to be in the presence of a new professor!

September kicks off Labor Day weekend, which is usually the weekend that Al and I celebrate our dating anniversary. It’s hard to believe it’s almost been SEVEN years!

The following weekend, I’ll be heading to the “Mimosas in the Mountains” event – A fancy term for Savy’s bachelorette weekend! I’m so grateful that she invited me along and has included me during their wedding planning and festivities. I’m so excited to spend a weekend with her, Crystal, and several of her amazing friends! I may die a little when we go on this supposedly epic hike on Saturday. But, that’s why I just bought KEEN hiking boots and socks! Thank you, Amazon Prime!

October 14th is Nick and Savy’s wedding! It’s gonna be fantastic. I can’t wait!

The weekend after is Hampton Comic-Con! We’ve never been, so it sounds like it will be fun!

Then, as we make our way into November, we will celebrate our second wedding anniversary. Time flies, doesn’t it? Two weeks after that, it’s Thanksgiving!

December dawns with the spirit of Christmas. My anticipated graduation from TCC is a week or two before Christmas. I’m excited to celebrate Lyndsey’s 30th birthday around the 16th! And then, we’ll blink, and we’ll be celebrating New Year’s Eve and Kathryn’s birthday!

Needless to say, these last few months of 2017 will be exciting!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth πŸ™‚

Writing Prompt #70: “52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge” (Week 32)

Week #32: A City You’ve Visited.

I will always feel like a part of me belongs in New York City. I don’t ever want to live there now, although I used to dream about it for years. Yes, I was that kid who wanted to leave Virginia far behind and either start by going to college there, or become a famous writer and live in an apartment and enjoy the city.

Being born at Mount Sinai Hospital, it’s directly across the street from the west side of Central Park, one of the most amazing parks in our country. I could spend hours upon hours looking at Google Images of people’s photos. When I take Al to visit the city for the very first time next summer, I want to spend as much time in the park as possible, getting as many photos as I can. I have fond memories of practicing softball with my dad when we were there to visit the hospital. I need to find those photos and share them. I’m definitely an awkward 13-year-old there, but we had so much fun.

My parents took me back to the hospital every summer until I was 16 years old. The story that’s been told is the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurses say, “Our greatest joy is seeing these children grow.” The last time we were there as a family, in 2004, there were two gigantic bulletin boards on one wall of the unit, completely covered in pictures of kids who “graduated” from the unit. Most are school photos, but some are family photos. Every single one is precious. My parents did that for a few years, and we found an old photo of me on the bulletin board when we were there. It was staggering to see how many photos were there. My parents have a photo of that visit – Me, Dr. Ian Holzman, and my mom – on their refrigerator.

But, the nurses also remember the babies who didn’t survive.

When I was 18, and a senior in high school, the Oscar Smith Chamber Orchestra was invited to play at Carnegie Hall. It was such an amazing experience to close out my high school years. It rained the entire weekend, but everyone had a blast. Many of my classmates had never seen the city, and one long weekend wasn’t enough to take it all in. We played our hardest. I almost cried as we walked out on stage, seeing the historic venue from that perspective absolutely took my breath away. Many of our families were there to support us. My mom invited the head nurse from the Mount Sinai NICU, Doris Haddad, to come to the performance. She cried. She gave me flowers. It was awesome! I graduated from high school about two months after we performed.

I’ve been fortunate to have seen a lot of New York City throughout my life – Broadway shows, Times Square, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, the World Trade Center before and after 9/11, the Statue of Liberty, being on the plaza at The Today Show, Radio City Music Hall, FAO Schwarz, Macy’s, the New York Public Library, the Ghostbusters Firehouse, Tribeca, Soho, the subway, The New York Times building, different museums, Katz’s Deli, Ellis Island, Governors Island … I could go on.

But, now, as an adult, I’m realizing that I’ve only seen a very small fraction of what the five boroughs have to offer. When we visit next summer, I want to see Madison Square Garden, Brooklyn, The Bell House (home of NPR’s Ask Me Another), Coney Island, Staten Island, The Bronx, and Queens. I want to experience a variety of restaurants. I’m sure there’s many museums that are new and different, too. Plus, I’ve never been to an American Girl Store. The New York store is one of their flagship stores, so, why not?

Have you ever been to New York? What did you like about?

If you haven’t been to New York yet, what do you want to see or experience? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth πŸ™‚

Writing Prompt #69: “52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge” (Week 31)

Week #31: Core Value.

The simplest definition of “core value”Β that I found is as follows:

  • Core values are the fundamental beliefs of a person or organization. These guiding principles dictate behavior and can help people understand the difference between right and wrong.

This one was a big challenge!

As I thought about it over the course of the last week, the one I kept circling back to was that I’m incredibly grateful for my faith and belief in God.

The image below was created by Caralyn, the beautiful and amazing author behind the fabulous blog called BeautyBeyondBones.

BeautyBeyondBones (2)

Image Credit: BeautyBeyondBones

I draw a lot of inspiration from Caralyn. Reading her posts always lifts my spirits, and renews my faith!

She’s also inspired me to get even closer to God. Because of her, I pray a lot more. I also pray a lot more out loud, especially in the car!

I’m excited to be participating in the upcoming Pray for Me Campaign at New Creation, which kicks off on August 10th. The idea behind the campaign is to “bridge the gap between generations through prayer.” I love it! Our Director of Children and Youth Ministries, Jeremy, started promoting this a few months ago, and I helped run the promotional video last month during both services. I felt immediately inspired, and filled with hope. I can’t wait to be a personal Prayer Champion for my young one throughout this entire upcoming school year! I firmly believe that participating in this campaign will strengthen my faith, and help me become a better Christian and a better person! I know that God is smiling on all of us, all the time, even when it’s dark and gray outside.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth πŸ™‚

Writing Prompt #68: “52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge” (Week 30)

Week #30: Your Current Age.

As of right now, I’m 28 years old. As I’ve said several times before, I’m incredibly grateful to have been on this Earth for these 28 years!

It’s hard to believe that my birthday comes around again just a few weeks from now. The last year of my 20s! It always seems to sneak up on me now. When I was a kid, though, it was a different story. I was always slightly jealous of the kids who had their birthdays during the school year – Their parents would bring in treats for the whole class, and so on. It felt like it took forever for August to arrive!

But, in a way, I’m also lucky. My birthday is during the summer, so I never had to go to school on my actual birthday! I did go to work a handful of times on my birthday, but now I’ve started to deliberately take the day off, if it falls on a weekday. I’ve really enjoyed it, and it’s like a mental health day where I can do whatever I want!

Here’s 28 things that I’m grateful for:

  1. Living on this Earth for so long!
  2. My amazing parents.
  3. My wonderful husband!
  4. Our families that love each other and enjoy each other’s company.
  5. A house that is livable and in a great neighborhood.
  6. A fridge/freezer full of food.
  7. Having good jobs that allow us to have our house, food, and spending money.
  8. A closet full of clothes.
  9. Excellent education!
  10. A reliable car that is able to make the 60-mile commute five days a week.
  11. Being able to travel frequently.
  12. A wonderful, stable church home that’s lasted for 25 years.
  13. My overall good health.
  14. The ability to see doctors when needed.
  15. Enjoying several passions – Reading, writing, American Girl dolls, movies, photography.
  16. Connecting and re-connecting with friends and family.
  17. Being able to go to a gym near the house to work out and strengthen my body and mind.
  18. Affordable Internet access.
  19. Easy access to a library system, where I can check out as many books as I want, at any time.
  20. Intelligence.
  21. Humility.
  22. Grace.
  23. Understanding.
  24. Being able to control my anxiety.
  25. Being able to listen.
  26. The power of prayer.
  27. Connecting with so many amazing bloggers, all around the world!
  28. Being loved and appreciated!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth πŸ™‚

Writing Prompt #67: “52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge” (Week 29)

Week #29: Your Favorite Memory.

For me, Oreos simply taste better if they’re frozen. Every time I eat a frozen Oreo, I think of the countless visits to Florida with my grandparents. My mom’s parents lived in Coral Gables, very close to Miami. My dad’s dad is still alive, and at age 91, he lives independently in a wonderful condominium community in Seminole, about 15 miles away from the Gulf of Mexico.

Florida is the state that I’ve been to the most times, easily over 100 times now. I have so many memories – We visited both sets of grandparents, along with other friends and family members, up to four times a year for many years. It was routine to get on a plane to visit for either Thanksgiving or Christmas, and sometimes, both.

Thinking of the current package of frozen Oreos in my freezer, easily reminds me of the Oreos and vanilla bean ice cream almost every night in Florida, coupled with Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! Spending time with them meant lots of adventures, and mostly unhealthy food. I learned how to play and master Scrabble and Upwords, improve my tennis skills, swim better, visiting many libraries, eating lots of good food, and enjoying each other’s company.

Both sets of grandparents were married for over 50 years! My mom’s parents celebrated an astounding 64 years together before Grandpa passed away in 2008. I feel incredibly fortunate and grateful to have had all four grandparents in my life until I was 20 years old, which is increasingly rare.

My dad’s parents were married for just over 50 years before Grandma Betty passed away in 2011.

Grandma Grace died in 2013 at the age of 96. This year, just a few weeks ago, would have been her 100th birthday.

Writing this post has inspired me to call Grandpa this weekend, as well as my Uncle Richard (Mom’s brother). It’s been too long since I’ve talked to them.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth πŸ™‚

Writing Prompt #66: “52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge” (Week 28)

Week #28: Your Past

I’m grateful to simply be sitting here, typing this. As I write this, I think of my birthday that’s coming up in a few weeks. My mom recently commented on how stubborn I am, and that’s part of the reason I’m alive today.

I was given a 50-50 shot when I born. I came 15 weeks early, which was terrifying for everyone, especially my parents. However, I quickly made it known that I was a fighter, and I was determined to live.

As an only child, I was independent, outgoing, and enjoyed a variety of interests. Being involved in the local Methodist church was a family affair, and that involvement continues today, nearly 25 years later.

I loved school, although I struggled with math. It was clear early on that I was definitely not engineering material like my dad! I loved reading, writing, and history. I thought about many different careers over the years – Being an explorer for National Geographic, a teacher (like my mom), a writer/author, working in the news business.

As I graduated from high school and went off to college, I realized how naive I was. I had been a sheltered child. I was called spoiled more than once, although I tried to maintain my Christian image. I worked hard in college, and enjoyed most of my experiences. I loved working for the student newspaper, and as a junior, I joined an incredible sorority.

Not everything in my life was sunshine and rainbows. I was in an abusive relationship from 2006 through 2010. When I finally got the courage to escape and leave, I tried to pick up the pieces that was my relationship with my mom. Many people, however, were immensely forgiving, and soon discovered my abuser’s true character.

It’s amazing how things come together when you least expect it. Shortly after I ended the abusive relationship, I was formally introduced to Al. His brother, Nick, had wanted to set us up for a long time. Nick thought we would be awesome for each other.

I wanted to be friends first, being very cautious and somewhat apprehensive after my recent experiences.

That only took two weeks of talking on the phone, texting, and being friends on Facebook. Our first date was September 4, 2010, and I felt like I was on top of the world. I couldn’t believe what was happening. We kissed for the first time, and I knew I loved him.

Now, here we are, nearly seven years later. He stuck by my side from the very beginning, when we were long-distance for nearly nine months while I was in my senior year of college. We’ve seen each other through job searches, celebrations, frustrations, vacations, multiple moves for me, and more. It’s hard to believe we got engaged nearly three years ago, and we’ve been married for almost two. We bought our house last year. We’re enjoying making home improvements (for the most part), trying new recipes, and we like getting together with our families and friends regularly.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth πŸ™‚

Writing Prompt #65: “52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge” (Week 27)

Week #27: Favorite Spot In Your City.

My first thought was theΒ Commodore Theatre in Downtown Portsmouth!


Image Credit: Commodore Theatre


Image Credit: The Virginian-Pilot

Built in 1945, it’s a 1,000-seat theater. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 27, 1997!

You feel like you’ve been transported back in time. It was beautifully restored to its original glory years ago, and it looks awesome! I actually feel weird if I go to see a movie and I’m not dressed up.

You buy your tickets in advance, at the box office, when it opens. The tickets look older, too! They have their matinee at 2:00 p.m., and their evening show is at 7:00 p.m.

They only show one movie at a time, usually for four weeks. You can sit at one of the tables and have a meal – The food is delicious. Β You order through the phone on the table!

You can also sit in the balcony and buy traditional concessions – Popcorn, soda, and candy.

It’s one of those places that have been around forever, and it feels special. I’m happy that we have such a treasure so close to home!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth πŸ™‚