Getting Personal #214: July Goals

Welcome back!


Here are my goals for the month of July:

  1. Participate in Camp NaNoWriMo, July 2020.
  2. Publish my updated TBR post.
  3. Re-organize the filing system.
  4. Finish cleaning out the cabinet above the oven.
  5. Finish de-cluttering the dining room buffet.
  6. Begin the binder of university newspaper articles for preservation.
  7. Send at least five cards, letters, and care packages.
  8. Continue preparations for P.E.O. Virginia State 2022 Convention.

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

Let me know in the comments!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

Getting Personal #213: June Goals Recap

Image Credit: jenny collier blog

Welcome back!

Here’s the link to my June Goals post: Getting Personal #211: June Goals


Here were my goals for the month of June:

  1. Give blood. — Accomplished!
  2. Finish the second draft of my novel. — Did not accomplish.
  3. Send the second draft of the novel to my readers for additional feedback. — Did not accomplish.
  4. Clean out and organize the linen closet. — Accomplished!
  5. Send the box of consignment items to Darby. — Accomplished!
  6. Begin the binder of university newspaper articles for preservation. — Did not accomplish.
  7. Send at least four cards or letters to friends. — Accomplished!
  8. Publish a post about The Ebony and Fire Writing Club at least once a week. — Did not accomplish.
  9. Re-organize the filing system. — Did not accomplish.
  10. Finish cleaning out the cabinet above the oven. — Did not accomplish.
  11. Finish de-cluttering the dining room buffet. — Did not accomplish.
  12. Spend another hour on American Girl items inventory. — Did not accomplish.

This month was weird. I was more deeply affected by the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests than I anticipated.

However, I was able to give blood! Yay! Al made steak the night before the drive, and my iron level was 14.3, one of the highest levels I’ve had. The baseline requirement for women is 12.5. And, my favorite phlebotomist, Spencer, was at the drive and helped me through it. I struggled to fill the bag, which is completely my fault. I forgot to drink enough water. More fluids!

I shipped off the massive Walmart box to Darby. It weighed almost 25 pounds! I paid almost $95 in shipping costs, but Darby offered me $164 in store credit, so I jumped on it. I’ve gotten a lot of pretty things this month, and I found a beautiful shirt with a flower on it and “Mom” on it for my mom.

I did a lot of other things with the house the month. The linen closet is finally clean and organized the way it should be, at least in my mind.

Al and I also went through our closets, filled two garbage bags full of outgrown clothes, and gathered several other things to donate. I dropped everything off at the thrift store on Sunday.

I’ve been slowly making my way through Just Mercy. It’s a good book, but it’s heavy. Look for a review on the Netflix documentary “13th” coming soon.

The Ebony and Fire Writing Club is currently on hiatus. I was disappointed at first, but one of the organizers wanted to take a break to focus on Black Lives Matter and some other priorities for a while.


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

Come back tomorrow to see my goals for July!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

Getting Personal #212: Visiting the Dermatologist

Image Credit: Wandervogel Diary

I have the fair skin curse.

Well, not exactly. But having fair skin is difficult sometimes.


My first pre-cancerous mole was removed from my back before I graduated from high school. Iโ€™ve experienced multiple sunburns, and at least two of them have blistered. The song lyric “sunshine on my shoulders” was so true for me, and also very painful.

Since that first mole removal, I’ve become more vigilant about caring for my skin, being mindful of my sun exposure, and seeing a dermatologist for an annual skin check.


However, I’m also human.

Many of you who know me, know that I grew up around water. I don’t enjoy the beach as much as I used to, but I didn’t always use sunscreen or reapply like I should have, especially in my college years.

The combination of multiple sunburns over many years, and having fair skin caused multiple moles to pop up. I’ve had four significant moles (maybe more, I lost track for a while) removed and biopsied from my back. I’ve had more stitches in my back than anywhere else on my body.


The good news? My annual skin checks are working. Plus, I’m much more aware of my sun exposure now, and I’m using sunscreen, hats, and protective clothing more frequently.

I went to the dermatologist today, after my original appointment was changed twice due to COVID. The Suffolk office is really close to my house. The doctor was great, although I miss my old nurse practitioner (NP) terribly. She left the practice in mid-2019 to go out on her own.

Everything looked good for this year, with the exception of a two-toned brown/black mole on my upper left arm. The doctor was great and pointed out why he was concerned about it. A team of two ladies came in after the doctor, numbed my skin around it, and removed the mole for biopsy. I’ll be notified of the results in 1-2 weeks, depending upon how long it takes for it to be reviewed by pathology.

If need be, the office will call and schedule me for a follow-up visit. In the past, my NP needed to obtain clear margins, meaning that they needed to go a bit farther out from where the mole was removed to make sure all the pre-cancerous cells are gone. Otherwise, it could develop into actual skin cancer.


Skin Cancer

There are three types of skin cancer: Basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.

Basal cell carcinoma is typically slow-growing, and the most common type of skin cancer. It can develop from actinic keratoses, which are scaly, damaged areas of skin. These can occur in places with lots of sun exposure – Your face, scalp, and the back of your hands.

Squamous cell carcinoma is less common. UV exposure is a contributor, but you’re at higher risk if you have had chronic skin wounds, radiation therapy treatment, or were an organ transplant recipient.

Melanoma begins in the melanocytes, where the skin pigment cells change into cancerous cells. This is the lowest diagnosed type of skin cancer, but it has the highest death rate. Melanoma has been found on the torso / trunk, lower legs, palms, soles of the feet, and the skin under the nails. UV exposure is the biggest factor, but family history is also significant.


Educating Yourself

You can do self-check skin exams on yourself!

Here are the “ABCDEs” to look for:

  • A – Asymmetry (Not the same shape on all sides)
  • B – Border irregularity (Ragged / blurred edges)
  • C – Color (Different shades of tan, brown, or black)
  • D – Diameter (Larger than 1/4 inch)
  • E – Evolving (Changes over time)

Now – Don’t panic if you see something suspicious. It’s important to call your dermatologist to make an appointment, or ask family / friends for recommendations. You can also check your health insurance (U.S.) for in-network providers that are close to you. Some providers also perform virtual visits, or you can text photos to a secure phone number for review.

Also, make an appointment as soon as possible if you experience itching or swelling of a skin lesion, if the lesion changes size or color, or there’s pain in the area.


Not Just Fair Skin

There are many factors with skin cancer. Here are a few things to be aware of regarding higher risks.

  • Hair color – Blond/blonde or red
  • Skin that freckles or sunburns easily
  • Family history of melanoma or non-melanoma skin cancer
  • History of unusual moles
  • History of sunburns, particularly blistering ones
  • History of tanning bed use
  • More than 50 moles, or any that look irregular
  • Organ transplant recipient

It’s a good idea to visit a dermatologist annually if you tick off more than one of these. Most skin exams take 10-20 minutes. For today’s visit, I was out the door in 35 minutes, and that included the biopsy. I have to let the area heal with twice-daily bandage changes and petroleum jelly after the first 24 hours (Tip: Don’t use Neosporin or triple antibiotic ointment!) It’s really simple and virtually painless.


Resources

For more information, check out the links below.

Annual Exams | Skin Cancer Foundation

What to expect during a skin exam | MD Anderson

Skin Cancer | MD Anderson


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

Getting Personal #211: June Goals

Image Credit: Fueled By Carrots

Welcome back!


Here are my goals for the month of June:

  1. Give blood.
  2. Finish the second draft of my novel.
  3. Send the second draft of the novel to my readers for additional feedback.
  4. Clean out and organize the linen closet.
  5. Send the box of consignment items to Darby.
  6. Begin the binder of university newspaper articles for preservation.
  7. Send at least four cards or letters to friends.
  8. Publish a post about The Ebony and Fire Writing Club at least once a week.
  9. Re-organize the filing system.
  10. Finish cleaning out the cabinet above the oven.
  11. Finish de-cluttering the dining room buffet.
  12. Spend another hour on American Girl items inventory.

What about you? Do you have any goals for the month of June?

Let me know in the comments!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

Getting Personal #208: “3 Story Treehouse, Scotland” (Reblogged)

I wanted a treehouse so badly as a kid. We had so many trees in our backyard, but I never got my wish. So, I wrote about them, daydreamed about them, and got overly excited when I saw them on TV or in movies. I certainly climbed trees and enjoyed every tire swing, rope swing, and hammock that I came upon, but nothing really compares to a treehouse.

This image caught my eye immediately. Did you know that you can stay overnight in treehouses in certain areas? I would love to do that someday.

But, for now, I’m staring at this photo and daydreaming.


If you could build a massive treehouse, what would you put in it or do with it?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

Just Wunderlust

3 Story Treehouse, Scotland

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Getting Personal #204: 10-Year Blogging Anniversary

This was a happy sight to see today!


Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!

You registered on WordPress.com 10 years ago.

Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging.


It’s kind of wild to think about – I started with WordPress to continue the passion that was kindled during a college assignment. In my Computer-Mediated Communication class in 2009, we were assigned to start a blog, on any topic we chose, that we maintained for the entire semester. That original blog, on a different platform, was about movies that I found in the college library that I figured my classmates had never heard of. It wasn’t much at the time, but it planted a seed.

Ten years ago, Hot Shot Headlines didn’t exist. I started, and then deleted, at least two other blogs. I lost my way, and my passion, for a while.

But, I stuck with it. I never really stopped writing, even when I wasn’t blogging. And it’s been an incredible journey.


Thank you, everyone, for your contributions! I truly appreciate all of my readers and followers. Every comment you write is significant to me. I try my very best to respond to all of them!

Best of all, I have made some amazing friends through the WordPress community. So, here’s to you, Kristian, Jenna, Tony, Simon, Ariel, Vinnie, Antonio, Lori, Sara, Didi, Tiana, Destiny, Greg, and others. Thank you for the words you write, the stories you share, and your friendship!

Cheers to 10 more years!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

Getting Personal #203: Fourteenth TBR Recap

Image Credit: hippoquotes.com

Welcome back!


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

  1. Polacco, Patricia, Thank You, Mr. Falker (Review coming soon)
  2. Rowling, J.K., Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban *Re-Read*

Removing from Laura Bethโ€™s TBR

  1. Brunt, Carol Rifka, Tell The Wolves Iโ€™m Home
  2. Sanchez, Alex, Rainbow High
  3. Wilkinson, Lauren, American Spy

Keep & Re-Classify โ€“ Laura Bethโ€™s Updated TBR

  1. Betz-Hamilton, Axton,ย The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity
  2. Elliott, T.E.,ย Loved by the Beast: A Historical Retelling of Beauty and the Beast
  3. Jennings, Ken,ย Brainiac: Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs
  4. Westover, Tara,ย Educated

Adding to the TBR

  1. Gaiman, Neil, The Ocean at the End of the Lane
  2. Gilbert, Elizabeth, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
  3. Rowling, J.K., Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire *Re-Read*

So, my current TBR is 7 books.

Do you have a TBR?

What book are you looking forward to reading next?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

Getting Personal #201: March Goals Recap

Image Credit: pinterest.com

Welcome back!

Here were my goals for the month of March:

  1. Print out the first draft of my novel, and begin editing it by hand.
  2. Clean out the cabinet above the oven.
  3. Go through at least three boxes in my office. — Accomplished!
  4. Make at least one thrift store run with donations.
  5. Purchase new glasses.
  6. Help my parents get ready for Grandpaโ€™s arrival. — Accomplished!
  7. Publish at least one Book Review.
  8. Finish out my term as P.E.O. Treasurer. — Accomplished!
  9. Prepare for Camp NaNoWriMo April 2020. — Accomplished!

I made amazing progress with my office this month. I have a temporary set-up of a card table and Al’s old office chair, and these will stand in for now until I get my stand-up desk from IKEA. I’m excited to have more space.

This weekend, I hope to get all of the donations out of the corner, hang up some pictures, and make progress with some filing.

I’m grateful that I was able to help my parents when I could, before COVID-19 took hold in Virginia. It was one Saturday – Moving the dryer back to its proper place, moving the dresser from downstairs to upstairs, disassembling the desk at our friend’s house and getting it back to the house for Grandpa – but it feels like it was a lifetime ago.

I’m grateful my dad and grandpa arrived home safely earlier this week. That took away a lot of anxiety.

Now, I’m eager to dive head-long into Camp NaNoWriMo, April 2020. And get back to blogging. I’ve missed it.


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

Come back tomorrow to see my goals for April!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

Getting Personal #199: January Goals Recap

Image Credit: Orange Blogs

Welcome back!

Here were my goals for January:

  1. Finish the first read-through of my novel in PDF form. — Accomplished!
  2. Print out the first draft, and begin editing it by hand.
  3. Clean out the cabinet above the oven.
  4. Start my spreadsheet for cataloging my American Girl items to sell.
  5. Deep clean the living room. — Accomplished!
  6. Go through at least three boxes in my office.
  7. Make an appointment with a new eye doctor. — Accomplished!
  8. Read my Daily Guideposts 2020 book every day.
  9. Celebrate P.E.O. Founders Day 2020. — Accomplished!
  10. Celebrate Alโ€™s birthday! — Accomplished!
  11. Celebrate Mom and Dadโ€™s wedding anniversary. — Accomplished!
  12. Publish at least two blog posts every week.
  13. Purchase photo canvases for the living room.
  14. Get back to a regular cleaning schedule. — Accomplished!
  15. Make at least one thrift store run with donations.

I was able to accomplish several things in January. A lot was left unfinished, but that’s okay. I’m looking forward to being more productive in March. I think I’ve finally emerged from my slump!

Come back tomorrow to see my goals for the month of March!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

Getting Personal #198: Exhaustion

Image Credit: “The Exhaustion Is Real” – The New York Times

I’ve been struggling this month, big time.


Maybe it’s the weather? Here in Virginia, it’s been very mild for January. There have been several days where it’s been above 65 degrees. Now, in the middle of the month, it’s settling back down to chilly and cold. It’s been hovering around 40-45 degrees in the last few days.


I feel like a big failure. I set so many goals at the beginning of the month, and I feel like I’ve already failed all of them.

I mean, how hard is it to write two blog posts a week? But, every night since January 2nd, especially work nights, I’ve come home and not wanted to look at another computer screen. But, at the same time, I’ve watched hours of TV with Al, and buried my nose in Facebook on my phone or games on my iPad. It’s like my brain went into default decompression every night.

I didn’t look at my emails for at least a week, and there were more than 1,000 by the weekend after New Year’s.

And I feel really bad even writing this out – I have NOTHING to complain about. I have my husband and my dogs. I’m not running on fragmented sleep like many I know – Parents, caregivers, those with chronic illnesses, and others. I have it easy.


I know this is part of my anxiety lying to me, but I feel a bit better now getting it out on “paper.”


Writing this short post has actually helped a lot, believe it or not. This is part of the reason why I write. I “brain dump” – I talk it out, I use Post-It Notes at work, and I have my phone close by to use the Notes app. I think getting back into journaling – Actual handwriting – is a good goal for February. I’m involved with enough screens as it is.

In fact, after I finish this post, I’m shutting off all the screens and going to dive back into Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚