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

Week #31: Core Value.

The simplest definition of “core value” 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 🙂

Getting Personal #78: August Goals

We have arrived at the peak of summer. It’s my birthday month! But, I’m also excited because we’re in the home stretch, headed toward fall. Yay!


Here are my goals for the month of August:

  1. Register for the fall semester.
  2. Donate blood.
  3. Clear out the clothing clutter, once and for all.
  4. Celebrate my birthday!
  5. See The Dark Tower.
  6. Write at least 300 new words for my 2012 NaNoWriMo attempt.
  7. Move my bookcase from my parents’ house to ours.
  8. Update my resume and LinkedIn profile.
  9. Make a series of home improvement blog posts.
  10. Make the Succulent Sphere craft for Savy.

Here’s the breakdown:

Register for the fall semester.

  • This is happening on Friday! I’m absolutely determined to make this happen!

Donate blood.

  • Blood drive #101 is on Saturday!

Clear out the clothing clutter, once and for all.

  • My thredUP donation bag is scheduled to arrive this week!
  • I’m so excited to finally clean out! Our closets need it!

Celebrate my birthday!

  • I’m excited to take the day off from work and thoroughly enjoy it.
  • I’m making my regular pilgrimage to LUSH Handmade Cosmetics and Barnes & Noble, plus meeting Al and his co-workers for lunch!
  • My parents are taking us out to eat sometime this coming weekend – Spaghetti Eddie’s!
  • Al’s parents are supposed to stay with us during the second weekend of August, so hopefully we can get our parents together then, too.

See The Dark Tower.

  • Al is more excited for this movie than I am (Stephen King’s epic book series), but I’m intrigued!
  • Plus, who can resist Idris Elba?

Write at least 300 new words for my 2012 NaNoWriMo attempt.

  • I felt so good at the end of July – I just want to keep going!
  • Making time for it makes such a big difference.

Move my bookcase from my parents’ house to ours.

  • This will be a significant step in making my office complete!

Update my resume and LinkedIn profile.

  • Piggybacking off of last month, this is something that I desperately need to do. Five years is way too long!

Make a series of home improvement blog posts.

  • This is long overdue, so be prepared for lots of Before & After photos!

Make the Succulent Sphere craft for Savy.

  • Link coming soon!
  • Savy saw this video when I shared it on Facebook and tagged her, and I’ve offered to make it for her!

Do you have any goals for the month of August?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #77: July Goals Recap

July felt like one of the longest months to me, but I think that’s because of two weeks of suffering through AC issues (Now gloriously fixed!), and we didn’t have many plans during the weekends. However, the end of the month always seems to sneak up on me!

Here’s the link to my July Goals post:

Ready?

Here we go!


  1. Clear the clothing clutter. — Semi-Achieved.
  2. Start designing my custom American Girl doll cabinet / storage unit. — Semi-Achieved.
  3. Register for the fall semester. — Did not accomplish.
  4. See Spider-Man: Homecoming. — Accomplished!
  5. See Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. — Accomplished!
  6. Write at least 200 new words for my 2012 NaNoWriMo attempt. — Accomplished!
  7. Work toward weekly meal planning. — Accomplished!
  8. Set up a consistent cleaning schedule. — Accomplished!
  9. Update my resume. — Semi-Achieved.
  10. Publish a bigger variety of blog posts. — Accomplished!

Here’s the breakdown:

Clear the clothing clutter. — Semi-Achieved.

  • I got it a bit more organized and clearly divided.
  • I tried everything on, just to be absolutely sure!
  • This past week, I just ordered a Donation Bag through thredUP – I love that what I put into this bag, when it arrives, (including Al’s stuff!) will help our local Big Brothers Big Sisters Foundation! There are three local charities that we can choose from, at any time.

Start designing my custom American Girl doll cabinet / storage unit. — Semi-Achieved.

  • We took measurements of a standard American Girl doll box.
  • Al is starting to work it up on the computer, using Adobe Illustrator.

Register for the fall semester. — Did not accomplish.

  • This is happening, just later this week!
  • I called the academic advising department two weeks ago – They don’t make appointments, they only take walk-ins (Of course they do).
  • I’m prepared to sit on campus all day on Friday until this happens. I’m tired of waiting!

See Spider-Man: Homecoming. — Accomplished!

  • We saw this on Thursday, July 6th! It was a later showing, and we were both really tired on Friday at work, but it was COMPLETELY WORTH IT.
  • It’s one of the best movies with Spider-Man, in our opinion.
  • It’s a movie that I think would make John Hughes proud.
  • If you haven’t seen it, we both highly recommend it!

See Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. — Accomplished!

  • We saw this last weekend – A Sunday matinee.
  • It was good, overall – Not anything spectacular.
  • The CGI was stunning and mind-blowing.
  • The story – Not so much.
  • We’re both a little sad that it flopped at the box office.

Write at least 200 new words for my 2012 NaNoWriMo attempt. — Accomplished!

  • Drumroll … I wrote approximately 452 words!
  • I feel awesome. I’m hoping to keep this momentum going!
  • Current word count: 10,662 words.

Work toward weekly meal planning. — Accomplished!

  • We sat down and mapped out the month of July. We basically picked one meal per week, and then I adjusted the recipes I had accordingly.
  • One of our favorite recipes now is Creamy Parmesan Garlic Mushroom Chicken.
  • The first time I made it, I followed the recipe step-by-step. It was really good!
  • When I made it again this week (Monday), I grilled the chicken on our George Foreman grill after marinating it for over 24 hours with olive oil, water, salt, and pepper. Instead of spinach, I used a whole head of broccoli. Absolutely delicious! I made enough for us to have ample portions for five nights.
  • This week – Taco salad!

Set up a consistent cleaning schedule. — Accomplished!

  • I took a pen to our Chick-fil-A calendar in our kitchen, and basically alternated Kitchen, Bathrooms, and Floors on every weekend. I wrote it down for every Saturday, but I give myself all weekend to make sure whatever it is gets done.
  • I’ve also noticed that I now feel less stressed because I’ve broken it down in this way!

Update my resume. — Semi-Achieved.

  • The main thing I did was write down the highlights of my current job, and the skills that I’ve learned while working for Riverside so far. I just need to condense it down into something that’s resume-worthy.
  • I’m not planning on leaving my current job anytime soon, but I know that it’s a good idea to keep my resume updated and refreshed.
  • I also need to overhaul my LinkedIn profile.

Publish a bigger variety of blog posts. — Accomplished!


Final Thoughts:

  • I was able to put Accomplished next to six out of 10 goals! Yay!
  • The three goals that were Semi-Achieved: I’m happy with my progress with these goals.
  • The one goal that I did not accomplish: I’m okay with this – I’ll be able to mark it as officially Accomplished at the end of this week!

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

Come back tomorrow to see my August Goals!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Tag #23: “Who Am I?” Tag

who-am-i

Image Credit: Stuming Games

Many thanks to Jenna at Bookmark Your Thoughts for tagging me!

Here’s the post where I was originally tagged:


What does my name mean?

Since I go by my first and middle name (given in honor of my great-grandmother, Laura Bethany Powers), I decided to search for “Laura” and “Beth” separately. When I searched “Laura Beth,” most results landed on either “laurabeth” or “laura-beth.”

This is what I found for the name Laura:

“Derived from the Latin laurus (laurel, an evergreen shrub or tree whose leaves were woven into wreaths by the ancient Greeks to crown victors in various contests). Originally a Latin name, Laura came into use in England in the 19th century, and is now popularly bestowed throughout the English-speaking world.”

This is what I found for the name Beth:

“Originally a short form of Elizabeth (God is my oath) and Bethany (house of figs), Beth is popularly bestowed as an independent given name and as a name element in compound names such as Mary-Beth or Laura-Beth.”

According to the website Seven Reflections:

“You always bring to completion anything you start. You are generous but like to see returns from your giving. You have an executive ability, you are a leader. You are moral, balanced, honest and intellectual, and you may attain spirituality. You are wise and practical with an appreciation of beauty. You always think before you act.You are bold, independent, inquisitive and interested in research. You know what you want and why you want it.

You are very intuitive. You have a reservoir of inspired wisdom combined with inherited analytical ability, which could reward you through expressions of spiritual leadership, business analysis, marketing, artistic visions, and scientific research. Operating on spiritual side of your individuality can bring you to the great heights, and drop you off if you neglect your spiritual identity. You are always looking for an opportunity to investigate the unknown, to use and show your mental abilities, to find the purpose and meaning of life. You want to grow wise and to understand people and things. You need privacy to replenish your energy. You have a unique way of thinking, intuitive, reflective, absorbing.”

What is my Myers-Briggs Personality Type? (Link)

My results: Protagonist (ENFJ-T) — Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging, Turbulent.

I would agree with these results. I’ve always been enthusiastic, sensitive, caring, and so on. In terms of Turbulent, my results were 53 percent Turbulent to 47 percent Assertive, and that’s me to a T, no pun intended!

“With vision and determination, nothing is impossible.”

What is my Zodiac Sign? (Link)

I was supposed to be a Scorpio (November 18th), but I was born a Leo (August 7th).

LEO TRAITS

Strengths: Creative, passionate, generous, warm-hearted, cheerful, humorous

Weaknesses: Arrogant, stubborn, self-centered, lazy, inflexible

Leo likes: Theater, taking holidays, being admired, expensive things, bright colors, fun with friends

Leo dislikes: Being ignored, facing difficult reality, not being treated like a king or queen

People born under the sign of Leo are natural born leaders. They are dramatic, creative, self-confident, dominant and extremely difficult to resist, able to achieve anything they want to in any area of life they commit to. There is a specific strength to a Leo and their “king of the jungle” status. Leo often has many friends for they are generous and loyal. Self-confident and attractive, this is a Sun sign capable of uniting different groups of people and leading them as one towards a shared cause, and their healthy sense of humor makes collaboration with other people even easier.

Leo belongs to the element of Fire, just like Aries and Sagittarius. This makes them warmhearted, in love with life, trying to laugh and have a good time. Able to use their mind to solve even the most difficult problems, they will easily take initiative in resolving various complicated situations. Ruled by the Sun, Leo worships this fiery entity in the sky, quite literally as well as metaphorically. They are in search for self-awareness and in constant growth of ego. Aware of their desires and personality, they can easily ask for everything they need, but could just as easily unconsciously neglect the needs of other people in their chase for personal gain or status. When a Leo representative becomes too fond and attached to their achievements and the way other people see them, they become an easy target, ready to be taken down.

Leo – the Lion in the Cave The story of the Lion always speaks of bravery. This is an animal fearless and impossible to challenge, hurt or destroy, their only weaknesses being fear and aggression towards those they confront. Living in a cave, a Lion always needs to have one, nesting and finding comfort in hard times. However, they should never stay there for long. With their head high, they have to face others with dignity and respect, never raising a voice, a hand, or a weapon, bravely walking through the forest they rule.

I completely agree! These results made my laugh out loud so hard! I’m definitely stubborn (My mom mentioned this just a few weeks ago!)

What is my Hogwarts House? (Link)

Hufflepuff – Loyal, Dependable, Hardworking.

I’ll take it!

What are my Learning Styles? (Link)

Visual 10

Aural 9

Read/Write 12

Kinesthetic 14

Am I Left or Right Brain Dominant? (Link)

I’m more Right Brain Dominant —  66 percent versus 34 percent (images, chaos, creativity, fantasy, intuition, curiosity). Yep, that definitely makes sense, especially since I’m left-handed!

What is my Blood Type?

I am A-negative (A-), just like my mom. My blood can be given to patients with four different blood types (A+, AB-, AB+, and A-). My dad is O-negative, so he is the “universal” donor. That means his blood type can go to anyone! I’m currently working on my iron level so I can donate again on August 5th – Blood drive number 101!

What Career am I meant to have? (Link)

Writer

You have a skill for language, your imagination is vast and you are artistic and creative. Your brain is just overflowing with ideas, and all you have to do is get a piece of paper and share it with the world. You were born to turn words into magical stories.

Yes! Awesome!!

What Divergent Faction do I belong to? (Link)

I belong in Divergent.

You deviate from the norm. The aptitude test is inconclusive. It cannot determine just one faction for you, Divergent. Your mind is ceaselessly changing. You’re creative, with a strong sense of self, and you have a clear picture of who you are and what you want. You stand out from the crowd. You may pose a threat to the norms of society, but you are unwilling to give into them.

I love it!

What does my Birth say about me? (Link)

The Firstborn (Technically only child)

Stereotype: Natural leader, ambitious, responsible.
Why it’s true: The eldest, for a while, has no competition for time (or books or baby banter) with Mom and Dad. “There’s a benefit to all of that undiluted attention. A 2007 study in Norway showed that firstborns had two to three more IQ points than the next child,” says Frank J. Sulloway, Ph.D., the author of Born to Rebel. Firstborns tend to be surrogate parents when other siblings arrive, hence their protective and responsible nature.
When it’s not: Parents can set high expectations for a first (or only) child. “When he feels like he has disappointed his parents or can’t measure up, he may veer off in another direction,” says Kevin Leman, Ph.D., a psychologist and the author of The Birth Order Book.


This was such a fun tag! Thanks, Jenna!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #40: “The End of Everything”

The End of Everything

Image Credit: Amazon

A couple of weeks ago, I found this book while I visited 2nd and Charles with a dear friend of mine. They opened a new location across the street from my office last year – They have every type of book, DVDs, Blu-ray, vinyl, CDs, toys, games, and more. Some things are brand-new, still in the packaging! It was only $5.00, so I figured I’d give it a shot.

I immediately recognized that Abbott is the author of other books such as You Will Know Me (currently on my TBR). I was intrigued by a combination of the cover and the synopsis on the inside. And, I can’t really turn down a hardcover book for $5.00!


I found myself reading multiple chapters per night, and I ended up finishing the book after less than a week.

In the 1980s, Lizzie and Evie are finishing up eighth grade, best friends since childhood. They’re attached to each other’s hips, but they appear to be going through their own paths and struggles. What 13-year-olds don’t?

Lizzie’s dad left years ago, but her mom looks like she’s been having a man over to the house recently. Evie appears to be living in her older sister, Dusty’s, shadow, but also excelling at soccer while trying to figure out what happens next.

Then, mere weeks before eighth-grade graduation, Evie Verver suddenly vanishes. As her family and the police investigate, Lizzie proves to be invaluable, finding multiple clues and helping assemble the complex puzzle. Everyone is desperate to get Evie back, although different characters are going through different emotions and handling the situation in different ways. One suspect, from their own neighborhood, looks promising, and the intensity continues to increase.

The book weaves together the complex topics/subjects of a child abduction, painful childhood memories, blossoming sexuality, and the relationships of parents with their children. The setting was the 1980s, and Abbott stays faithful to it the entire time. She also does a good job with balancing tragedy with triumph in her writing.

The only major complaint I had was that Abbott focuses so much on the relationship between Lizzie and Mr. Verver, and then tries to also explain/develop the relationship between Dusty and her father. The lines started to blur, and it was hard to tell sometimes who Abbott was referring to, and to figure out what exactly was going on.

It was challenging to differentiate between the two, and I felt a little creeped out by the end of the book. Mr. Verver appeared to be the sweetest, least-pervy of the fathers in the book, but some of the allusions that Abbott was making, absolutely made my skin crawl. Part of me didn’t want Lizzie, Evie, or Dusty to be taken advantage of, but part of me knew that the setting was also a different era (in a way), and parent-child relationships can still be taken too far, if you catch my drift. It makes me shudder just writing it.

Abbott is a great writer overall, and I look forward to reading more of her books! I just hope this one is just a fluke.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Hot Topic #21: The Confounding Congress

Congress

Image Credit: AZ Quotes

Disclaimer: This post contains strong language.


Hey there, readers. Bear with me. This post is probably going to be long-winded, basically a stream of consciousness, and likely have a significant amount of profanity in it.

You’ve been warned.


As a result of a spirited discussion with my wonderful husband last weekend (Note – Not spirited as in angry or anything. We typically tend to agree on most things, including politics and things going on in Washington), I’ve been inspired / motivated to write out some thoughts about our United States Congress.

Simply put – It’s completely fucked up.

And it has been for a LONG time.

Meanwhile in Congress

Image Credit: Meme Center


I decided to read through the entire U.S. Constitution.

Friends, it’s been way too long since I read this (I think the last time I read it in full was, begrudgingly, for my 10th grade IB Government class). I’m glad that I took the time to read it – It was like another education.

The Patriot Post

Image Credit: The Patriot Post

Here’s some highlights:

“All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” (Article I, Section 1)

“The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.” (Article I, Section 2).

“The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, [chosen by the Legislature thereof,]* for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.” (Article I, Section 3).

“The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.” (Article I, Section 6).

“The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.” (The 16th Amendment – Passed by Congress July 2, 1909. Ratified February 3, 1913.)

“No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of representatives shall have intervened.” (The 27th Amendment – Originally proposed Sept. 25, 1789. Ratified May 7, 1992.)


They’re fighting over healthcare, but they all know that they’re completely exempt from whatever legislation that eventually passes?

I say that every member of Congress should have to go through the same process that all of the other Americans in this country go through to sign up for healthcare. They should experience the hardships that so many others face!

There is no “employer-sponsored healthcare” in this instance – That’s only for people who work for businesses that offer health plans to them. Period!


Wouldn’t it be great if Congress also couldn’t vote for themselves?

I wish that every member of Congress could be knocked down a peg, so to speak. I wish we, the people, could mandate that every single member only makes $7.25 an hour. Yep, you got that right, make sure that those serving in Congress only make minimum wage.

Oh, and you’re capped at 40 hours a week. No overtime. Nothing extra. And during those 40 hours, you get your work done. If your work isn’t done … You can be fired. Kicked to the curb. If you’re kicked out, then you have to go back home and start all over. Plenty of Americans have gone through layoffs, corporate restructuring, and being fired. Why should members of Congress just be able to sail through?

You get two weeks of vacation per year – That’s it. No more ridiculous recesses that last WEEKS. Recess is for those in elementary school.

No more housing allowances – That’s only given to those who serve our country in our armed forces. Period.


Back to healthcare for a minute. Since you, as a member of Congress, only make $7.25 an hour – You have to choose your healthcare like anyone else who only makes minimum wage. Yep, that makes you have to take the time and go on Healthcare.gov or go through the exchanges to find your health plan.

Oh, and you have to make sure your spouse and all of your children are covered, too.

Not so easy now, is it?


Oh, and whatever happened to serving in Congress actually being a service to your constituents and this great nation?

If I remember correctly, not too long ago, there were no career politicians. None, zero. There were farmers who were elected in Kansas, businessmen elected in Arizona, dentists elected in California – Those men (and later women) maintained their households, jobs and/or businesses, and lives in their constituencies. When their work was done in Washington, they went back to their families and jobs and businesses at home, and worked with their constituents to help their districts change for the better. These men and women didn’t have apartments or houses in Washington, Virginia, or Maryland. They went home to Kansas, Arizona, California, and so on!

Congress_meem

Image Credit: PolitiFact — Based on numbers from 2014, this is nearly 100 percent accurate. *facepalm*


If you stuck with me through now, thanks for reading! I try really hard to not get political on the blog. But, sometimes, something makes me really mad, and the best way that I cope is to write about it!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #54: “What To Pay For When Publishing”

Things I Learned About Self-Publishing

Image Credit: AbridgeClub.com

I was inspired to write this post from James Harrington’s Blog of Geek and Writing.

Here’s the link to his original post:


As someone who has several novels / stories in the works (A never-ending cycle, it seems), I’ve gotten more and more curious about self-publishing in the last year or so. I have nothing ready to self-publish as of yet, but I like to plan ahead!

Jim offers this advice, as a self-published author on Amazon. You should be prepared to pay for the following:

  1. ISBN Numbers
  2. Copyright registration
  3. Cover
  4. Editing and Reviewing
  5. Advertising

He brings up some excellent points. Before reading his post, I knew that having someone else design the cover, as well as hiring someone else to edit and review your work, would definitely be worth the money. However, I didn’t think about ISBN numbers, copyright registration, and advertising.

Jim says that if you do decide to self-publish, you should be prepared to spend at least $400 at an absolute bare minimum. However, it’s also wise to spend a little more if you want your work to reach more people! (Don’t we all?)


Jim’s post made me research a little bit deeper. Keep in mind – Everyone has their own opinion, and the Internet is chock-full of advice about self-publishing.

There are so many avenues available now – It made my head spin! There’s CreateSpace and IngramSpark, and then a massive number of independent publishers. A Google search for “self-publishing” is almost overwhelming and panic-inducing.

Here’s a few links:

A lot of these articles tend to agree on several items:

  1. Purchase your own ISBN (International Standard Book Number).
  2. Hiring “book doctors” and getting it copy edited by a professional.
  3. Don’t just choose one medium – Consider publishing in print and e-book formats, and even audio books.
  4. Marketing is key.
  5. A good cover design is immensely helpful.
  6. Do your pricing research, and be mindful of the different percentages of the price that each company takes (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Audible, etc.) when a copy of your book is sold.

The bottom line – The publishing and self-publishing worlds seem to be constantly evolving. It’s hard to keep up with!

But, I’m glad that I have bloggers like James, among others, who are willing to write posts, offer advice, and answer questions!


Have you self-published anything? If so, what was your experience like? Can you offer any advice?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂