Getting Personal #79: Reflections, On My Birthday

Birthday Quote 2017

Image Credit: BrainyQuote

I wrote a Getting Personal post on my birthday last year, and I received a lot of positive feedback. I thought I would continue this tradition every year. For me, it brings the past year into focus, and it makes me feel good.


Since this time last year, I’ve lived in my own house with Al for over a year. I’m so happy that we’ve reached this point. We have independence. We’re navigating our way through “adulting” the best that we can. I’m happy that we both have stable jobs that give us good benefits, as well as modest incomes. We’re paying our bills and saving money, but we’re also able to have a little bit of spending money, too. Our house is certainly big enough for the two of us, but we also have room to entertain and (eventually) grow our family. We’ve already had adventures in dog-sitting, and we’re thinking about getting a cat, or two.

It’s amazing to look around, in almost any room, and realize that it looked completely different when we bought the house. We still have several projects on our list – Matching blinds for the rest of the windows, finishing renovating two dressers for two bedrooms, blackout curtains for our bedroom, painting an accent wall in the living room, and finishing my office – but we’re enjoying working on them together. And that’s the whole point, right?

It’s also hard to believe that I will likely, finally, earn my Associates of Applied Science degree in Paralegal Studies as 2017 comes to a close. Wow. It’s been a long five years, with a few semester breaks here and there – Like not taking any classes for the two semesters before my wedding, for instance. (Best. Decision. Ever.)

I’m officially registered for Legal Writing this fall. I’m headed to campus again on Thursday nights from late August through mid-December. I’m excited to take this class – This is one of the main classes that I have looked forward to since starting the program. Better late than never, but here we are. Keep your fingers crossed that this is truly my last class before graduation!

I’m also glad that I had the opportunity this spring to prepare for the boards (exam) to become a Certified Professional Coder (CPC). Many thanks to Shana for keeping me in the loop. It’s funny how things work out – I was hoping to take Legal Writing in the spring, but an English prerequisite was in my way, and I couldn’t register. During the Super Bowl in February, Shana told me TCC Workforce Solutions was offering the CPC exam prep class again (She took it in the fall of 2016). I was able to sign up in the nick of time, with the class starting two weeks after she told me.

I was incredibly nervous, but also excited. This was new territory for me. I’d had some exposure to ICD-10, CPT codes, and HCPCS codes through the nature of my job and my work, but not a lot. Casey, my former manager, encouraged me for years to get certified, and I finally took the plunge.

Medical coding is HARD. There’s three different sets of codes, and each code is for something different. It also depends on your interpretation of the doctor’s notes, which isn’t always easy.

Test day was Saturday, April 8th. It was almost six hours long! Luckily, I was able to answer all 150 questions before time expired, plus check my answers. I didn’t feel like I completely failed, but I wasn’t super confident that I passed.

About a week later, I discovered that I had passed the exam by accident. AAPC sends emails about meetings, and one of those emails started with, “Dear Laura Beth, CPC-A.” I almost fell out of my chair at work. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t seeing things, so I logged on to AAPC to see my score. I ended up passing with a 76 percent score (I needed at least a 70). I tore out of my cube and ran down the hall to tell Casey. I was jumping up and down!

I found out later that I was the ONLY ONE in my class to pass the boards. I was floored. There were 15 people in my class. It was amazing!

So, now I’m certified. I have to earn a set number of continuing education units (CEUs) by a certain time next year, but going to AAPC chapter meetings every month, plus doing webinars, add up. I was pinned by the Peninsula Professional Coders last month during a special ceremony, and there were several others who are newly certified. It feels nice to have such a supportive community. Being certified also opens the door to new job opportunities. I’m very happy at Riverside, but it’s nice to have different options when thinking about the future.

There have been some challenges this year, but nothing insurmountable. Casey left Riverside for another opportunity in mid-April, which was devastating to me.

We suffered with a broken AC unit at our house for about two weeks, at the peak of the hot weather. We know now that we need to replace our HVAC before next summer. We decided to forgo a wedding anniversary vacation this fall, but we’re planning to go to New York City in the summer of 2018!

I have a lot to look forward to as I start the last year of my 20s:

  • Former work colleagues becoming true friends.
  • Enjoying my slight obsession with LuLaRoe.
  • Being part of the Pray for Me Campaign at New Creation UMC.
  • Celebrating seven years together with Al on September 4th.
  • Heading to the mountains for a weekend in early September, celebrating Savy’s bachelorette and making new friends.
  • Helping Nick and Savy celebrate their kick-ass wedding at the Vardaro Farm in October!
  • Celebrating two years of marriage with Al on November 14th!
  • Being with family for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  • Helping Tony and Rachael celebrate their wedding in December.
  • Finishing my 2012 NaNoWriMo attempt by reaching at least 50,000 words, and then editing begins!
  • Reading many more books.
  • Continuing blogging, and meeting many more amazing bloggers!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #61: My Skin & Makeup Routines (Part 2)

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Image Credit: The Odyssey Online

As promised, here’s Part 2 of my skin and makeup routines!

If you missed Part 1, here’s the link to the post:

Ready?

Here we go!


Makeup

Like I mentioned last week, my makeup routine is pretty simple. I’ve tried both foundation and powder over several years, and I’ve finally decided that I don’t want to use either one!

Here’s my current makeup routine, in four easy steps:

  1. Blush
  2. Eyeshadow
  3. Eyeliner
  4. Mascara

I remember getting introduced to Mary Kay products back when I was in middle school. Between my mom using their skin care products (She still does now!), and several friends having free facials and makeovers at sleepovers, I loved their makeup back then.

Think of a early teenage Laura Beth experimenting with shades like Cotton Candy, Lime Green, Icy Blue, and more …

Years ago, a friend started selling Mary Kay to help pay her way through college. I bought several things at that launch party that I’ve loved since:

I still like a lot of what Mary Kay makes, but I don’t have a regular rep that I buy from right now. Most makeup that I’ve bought in the last year or so has actually come from the Dollar Tree, Walmart, Target, or your average drugstore (Walgreens, CVS/pharmacy, etc.)

Three Mary Kay items that I currently use actually came from a local Goodwill store:


So, back to my current four-step routine. This is what I do, and use, on an almost daily basis:

  1. Blush – Either Sparkling Cider or Cherry Blossom. With my skin tone, I can be liberal with Sparkling Cider, but cautious with Cherry Blossom. Too much of that, and I turn into a porcelain doll!
  2. Eyeshadow – I use the Eye Definer brush for either Truffle or Chocolate Kiss, on my eyelids. I use the Eye Crease brush for Spun Silk, on the skin between my lids and my brows.
  3. Eyeliner – I normally like/prefer a crayon or twist-up black eyeliner, but recently I’ve been loving my L.A. Colors liquid eyeliner. This came from my local Dollar Tree!
  4. Mascara – I used a few different types of mascara from Mary Kay until it ran out. Then, in 2015, while planning my wedding, I found L’Oreal Paris Telescopic Original Mascara from Walmart.com. I loved the look so much on my wedding day, that I bought a second tube!

This morning – Fresh face, no makeup.

Just ten minutes later, all four steps complete.




I definitely love my Mary Kay brushes, don’t get me wrong!

But, I recently found something amazing:

Wizard Wands!!

I ordered these from Storybook Cosmetics a while back, and they are awesome!


Makeup Tips

  • Pay attention to your eye color.
    • I have hazel/green eyes, so I naturally lean toward more brown/beige/suede tones for my eyeshadow.
    • For eyeliner and mascara, I tend to go back and forth between black and dark brown. Both colors work well for me.
  • Always moisturize your face before applying makeup.
    • As mentioned in Part 1, I use Enzymion and Tea Tree Toner from LUSH Handmade Cosmetics. I’ve found that this combination, right now, works the best for my skin. I highly recommend for you to research your skin and test (and re-test) until you find something that works best for you.
    • When I wear makeup (not every day), my skin still feels hydrated and fresh all day.
  • Always take your makeup off before going to bed!
    • I cannot stress this enough – It’s so important. Your face will thank you.
    • This has never happened to me (knock on wood), but one of my friend’s wives got a terrible case of blepharitis (eyelid inflammation) the week of their wedding! It happened mainly because she wasn’t taking off her eye makeup before going to sleep. Lucky for her, she received prompt treatment and everything cleared up for their big day!
    • I currently use oil-free makeup wipes, but you can also make your own.
    • You can also use Coalface or Dark Angels from LUSH. I want to try one of these products next, primarily to cut down on the waste that wipes create.
  • If you’re interested in learning more about makeup, I definitely recommend contacting a Mary Kay representative near you. However, two other good places to learn and explore are Ulta Beauty and Sephora. If you decide to go with either of those, I suggest going into a store. I’ve found that employees at both are not only knowledgeable, but super helpful! Sephora even has the Color IQ test, where you can find out your exact skin tones (red, yellow) and the employees will help you with specific product recommendations for lips, foundation, and concealer.
  • Learn how to wash your brushes/applicators properly, and how often.
  • Make sure to read expiration dates on all of your makeup. Most companies are now required to have a jar symbol with an indicator such as 6M (six months after opening), 12M (twelve months after opening), and so on. There are different recommended dates of use for different types of makeup.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #60: My Skin & Makeup Routines (Part 1)

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Image Credit: Harbor East

Many thanks to Megan over at Freckled Italian for inspiring this post!

Here’s Megan’s original post:

Ready?

Here we go!


Skin

Some of you know that I got into LUSH Handmade Cosmetics products well over a year ago, thanks to a few friends who talked it up. I wasn’t disappointed!

It helps that there’s a store in Norfolk’s MacArthur Mall. It’s an expensive investment, but the benefits have absolutely paid off in spades.

Before I found LUSH, I was using a combination of Clean & Clear products and a few things that my mom and others had recommended. I couldn’t seem to control the oil, and I had absolutely hellacious breakouts during that lovely time of the month. I was massively frustrated. I didn’t want to wear makeup. My skin is relatively sensitive, but I never, ever realized what I was using to wash and moisturize my face could be harming it.

In December 2015, I walked into LUSH for the first time. The staff were wonderful! I was immediately entranced by everything that they offered. They update their product lines regularly, and they always seem to have something new when I visit.

The idea is to use just a little bit of the product every day. Some of my LUSH stuff lasts for MONTHS, and it’s awesome. In all of 2016, I only visited the store four times to make purchases.

This is what I have used and/or sampled since Day 1:

I liked Angels on Bare Skin and Movis, but I probably won’t buy those again. Some of the smells were super strong!

I may buy Aqua Marina again, because it has calamine lotion in it. Considering I usually get eaten alive by mosquitoes in the warmer months, I’ll probably keep a small “pot” of it at home. I will probably do the same with either Dark Angels or Coalface, since both are good to use for makeup remover.

I definitely want to buy Ocean Salt again, closer to the summer months. It smells like the beach, and I felt like I was in a spa every time I used it!

I love the variety of bath bombs that LUSH offers. The baths I have taken with them – Three since we bought our house – have been calming and soothing.

I currently have the following in my bathroom:

The one without a side label is Enzymion. The pots fit perfectly on the shelves in our mirrored cabinet.

Buche de Noel is one of my favorite products. It smells like Christmas, and it does a great job on my face and skin. I use it every day in the shower on my face (unless I just got my eyebrows waxed), and I usually scrub it all over my arms and heels. It’s really helped when the skin on my heels has been very dry and rough. It’s a seasonal item, so I try to make this last as long as possible.

Top: Buche de Noel. Bottom left: Christingle. Bottom right: Enzymion.


Christingle is a new product that I discovered on my last store visit. It smells amazing, and the cool, refreshing tingle I feel after I use it in the shower feels awesome. Like Buche de Noel, I’m trying to make it last, since I won’t be able to buy it again until later in 2017.

Enzymion and Tea Tree Water have been with me since Day 1 – I will always buy these. Enzymion is the perfect moisturizer for my skin. This has helped dramatically reduce breakouts, and my skin feels lighter and far less oily now. The Tea Tree Water is so refreshing. I spritz it on right after I apply Enzymion. In the hotter months, I like to put it in the fridge. It makes the hot and humid days bearable!

I haven’t tried Rose Jam yet. Soon!

This is just a short list of what I want to try in the future:

The other bonus – When you bring back five clean labeled “pots” after using the products, LUSH will give you a free face mask. They reuse the pots, and then recycle them later on.

I’m excited to do this for the first time soon – I had enough pots to redeem in December, but they didn’t have any face masks to give me! I’m collecting them in a box. During my next trip, I can’t wait to see what I get.


Makeup

Since Megan’s post focused on makeup, this is was my comment:

“For me, I completely skip foundation and powder – The different stuff I’ve tried over the years seems to just clog my pores and makes me itchy! I do four things on a regular basis. First, I sweep on some blush – I love Mary Kay. I switch between “Sparkling Cider” and “Cherry Rose.” Second, I do eyeshadow – Also Mary Kay. Since I have green/hazel eyes, I prefer brown/suede/beige tones (“Truffle,” “Chocolate Kiss,” and “Spun Silk.” Third, I’m loving liquid eyeliner right now – The stuff I use currently came from the Dollar Tree. Lastly, I put on mascara. I loved the Maybelline Telescoping Lashes mascara that I bought for my wedding so much, that I saved the information and bought a second tube! It probably takes 10 minutes total, but the compliments are totally worth it.”

However, since the Skin section took up such a huge chunk of this post, I’m dividing this post into two parts.

Come back this time next week to learn more about my makeup routine!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #46: First Wedding Anniversary

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Today marks our first wedding anniversary. I can hardly believe it!

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One of our many honeymoon photos. We were waiting for Blue Man Group to start!

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Hogsmeade!

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December 2015: Lunch before seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens!

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June 2016: We bought a house!

Thank you, Al, for an amazing year! Here’s to many, many more!

I love you.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #39: “The Truth About Toxic Relationships” (Reblogged)

Carla’s post about toxic relationships is spot on. I sincerely appreciate her writing about this, since this topic is something I have been struggling with immensely, for a good while now.

No names mentioned, but seeing this post this morning makes me feel so much better, and so much less guilty.

Thank you, Carla!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #27: Reflections, On My Birthday

Birthday - quotesgram

Image Credit: quotesgram.com

There’s no significant holiday in August, so my birthday has always felt like one.

My parents have a beautiful frame that holds two of my footprints and my birth announcement. Around the age of 10, I remember reading it, trying to understand it, and then carefully taking the frame it to my mom, asking her what it meant.


There’s a reason why there are two footprints in that frame.

The first one, very tiny, has the following caption:

  • 1 lb., 15 oz.

The second one, a little bigger, has the following caption:

  • 5 lbs., 10 oz.

I came into this world 15 weeks too soon.

I was given a 50/50 chance of survival.

I am a survivor.

My birth announcement indicates that I came home from Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City on my actual due date – November 18th.

Through pictures and stories, I learned I was on oxygen for the first full year of my life. I was hospitalized twice within that first year for the common cold.

My favorite baby picture is the one where my dad’s wedding ring fit through my whole hand, hanging off my tiny wrist like a bracelet.

I first flew on an airplane when I was six months old, oxygen and all.

My parents put me in every kind of therapy program imaginable – Speech, occupational, physical. You name it, I was probably in it.


As I grew older, I simply marveled at, and was humbled by, my beginnings.

I was placed in a class called “Developmental First” at my elementary school, in between kindergarten and first grade. It technically held me back for a year, but it was a wonderful class that helped me immensely. There were about 10 other kids in the class with me, who all needed an extra boost, so to speak. My mom and my teacher, Mrs. Mansell, are still close friends to this day.

I was in occupational therapy until third grade, working on my motor skills.

I was in speech therapy until fourth grade. I still remember the day that I was pulled out of Mrs. Hartis’s class and told that I had “graduated” from speech.

Towards the end of elementary school, I discovered my passion for writing. The “Young Authors” program / contest was held every year, and each student created their own story, writing and illustrating it. Once finished, it was bound with spiral-looking plastic and sent off to be reviewed. My little book, titled “Electro Girl,” was chosen for recognition, and my parents and I were invited to an awards ceremony. That ceremony is also where I also met my best friend, Melissa.

Since then, I haven’t been illustrating any more books, but I’ve been trying to write them. I’ve kept a blue binder, covered in stickers, that’s full of stories that I wrote from age 10, all the way through the end of high school. I want to dig it out at some point and look through it again.


Reflecting on my time so far on this Earth, I feel immensely humbled and blessed. There were so many people who bent over backwards for me – My parents, my family, our friends, the doctors and nurses, teachers, and so many others. There were thousands of prayers, kind words, and constant encouragement – Then, and now.

Before I leave you on this gorgeous Sunday morning, I want to share my favorite Bible verse with you.

Jeremiah 29:11

Jeremiah 29-11 - lilyandval

Image Credit: lilyandval.com

Jeremiah 29-11 - embeddedfaith

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I think I was in sixth grade when I was first introduced to this passage. I clearly remember the first time I read this passage in my own Bible – I immediately grabbed a pen and underlined it.

For those who know me, I almost NEVER make marks / highlights / notes in any books, at all, unless it’s super important or significant.

It’s stuck with me ever since.

On tough days, I know that I can look at this verse, and I feel peace.

God has a plan.

He always does.

Thanks for reading.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #26: “Guest Post by Laura Beth @HotShotHeadlines: Raising Awareness About Domestic Violence” (Reblogged)

Domestic - pinterest

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Today, this blog post is a HUGE step for me.

For the first time, ever, I’m sharing my entire story — My entire experience from 2006 through 2010. Until now, I’ve mentioned pieces of it, here and there, on this blog. This took a lot of courage. It took me multiple drafts of an email, several days of reviewing and re-reading, feeling knots in my stomach and tears in my eyes.

I’ve wanted to do this for almost six years now, but something kept telling me to wait, to be patient, that the right venue or opportunity would come along.

Thanks to Carla and her amazing blog, she’s made it her mission to share those stories that need to be read / heard. Please check out her blog – The Melodramatic Confessions of Carla Louise. She balances tough, scorching topics – Feminism, rape culture, domestic violence, abuse, capital punishment – with awesome challenges about TV shows and music.

Carla has a disclaimer at the beginning of her post, but I’ll share a version of my own:

Disclaimer: This post contains graphic depictions of abuse, violence, sex, alcohol, and a few other difficult topics.

With that said, I welcome comments or questions. Please feel free to reach out to me, via commenting here, or by the information on my “Contact” page.

Thank you.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂