Category: Books

Etched in Honor: Mix together: a lioness, a wolf, and a dash of ‘mystic villainy’

Welcome back to the west coast and the packs: Redwood, Talon, and Aspen.

Etched in Honor is the first in the Aspen Pack series, and we’ll be seeing friends from the Redwood and Talon packs popping in and out of the series.

Etched in Honor is Audrey and Gavin’s story, and it’s a doozy…

The Aspen pack is slowly recovering from their past.

The hierarchy is being rebuilt…

Audrey is the beta, only lioness, and sole ‘survivor’ of the former Aspen hierarchy.

Gavin is a lone wolf, and soon to be the Aspen tracker.

He looks like someone Audrey lost decades ago…

Throw in some foes from lore…and you have the recipe for Etched in Honor.

I loved Audrey and Gavin’s story, including all the little twists and turns throughout the book.

Etched in Honor is the perfect introduction to the shifter world created by Carrie Ann Ryan, and I can’t wait to see what is in store for the rest of the hierarchy and pack.

I look forward to reading Chase’s story next…

I give Etched in Honor five out of five stars and highly recommend it to anyone who loves Carrie Ann Ryan’s books, paranormal romance, or those just looking for a new series to start.

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Nico & Sofia’s Story: How Much I Want; Miami Nights #4

‘How Much I Want’, is bringing us back to Miami and the Giordino family and friends.

‘How Much I Want’ can be seen as a continuation of Nochebuena (the Miami Nights holiday story)—though you don’t necessarily have to read it before starting ‘How Much I Want’.

This is Nico & Sofia’s story.

Sofia and her son Mateo were introduced in the first book of the series ‘How Much I Feel’, and have been spotted throughout the other books as well.

Nico is the older brother to Maria, Dee, and Milo and cousin to Carmen, Domenic Jr. and others.

Nico had the reputation of a player, but was working on changing after meeting Sofia when she started working at his family’s restaurant.

Sofia has her plate full—working, taking care of her son, and finalizing her divorce.

Image (c) Wildfire Marketing Solutions

She’s noticed Nico, but at the same time has ‘sworn’ off relationships.

What happens when the relationship-shy Sofia decides to give Nico a chance?

Mix in the possibly dangerous ex, ‘lost’ family, and the rest of the Giordino family—and you have ‘How Much I Want’.

So pull up a seat, a cool beverage, and a fan; then sit back and enjoy ‘How Much I Want’. I loved the latest trip down to Miami, and I may decide to binge read the series again on the next stormy, rainy day that I’m stuck inside.

I give ‘How Much I Want’ five out five stars, and I totally loved Nico and Sofia’s story. I look forward to the next story in the series, and can’t wait to see how the family grows.

Another winner by Marie Force.

This is an ARC review and all images have been supplied by Wildfire Marketing Solutions

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Introducing the first of the Wilder Brothers: Eli

Welcome to Texas, and the Wilder brothers series.

This is a ‘spin-off’ series focusing on Eliza’s brothers (who were first briefly introduced in Inked Obsession [book two of the Montgomery Ink: Fort Collins mini-series]).

One Way Back to Me is the first in the series and focuses on Eli and Alexis and takes place about two years after ‘A Night for Us’ (the free prequel to the series).

Eli and his brothers bought land from a retired Air Force general, and are slowly figuring out the ‘civilian’ life—including how to run a resort and winery.

Each brother has their own little piece, and the resort and winery are going well—but they need a wedding coordinator.

They’ve gone through two wedding coordinators in two years, and are desperate for one that will last.

Who should apply for the job—the one woman that Eli didn’t think he’d ever see again—Alexis.

Alexis applies for the job, as she is need of a new beginning after the disastrous end to her marriage.

The brothers hire her on as the new wedding coordinator for the Wilder Retreat and Winery.

Alexis and Eli realize that their attraction to each other wasn’t just a ‘one-night’ thing.

While they’re trying to figure out their relationship—someone comes ‘knocking’.

What does Alexis’s ex want? How big of a pain will the Dodge family be, and who is being hired as the top chef???

The answers to those questions, and a ‘surprise’ visit from a few familiar faces from Colorado can be found within the pages of ‘One Way Back to Me’.

I absolutely loved this book and the introduction of Eliza’s brothers. I will freely admit that when I read she had six brothers—I had my fingers crossed that there would be another spinoff series.

Carrie Ann did not disappoint with this book. I loved Eli and Alexis’s story, and am going to have to hold off until all of the Wilder boys get their happily-ever-after before I can decide on my ‘favorite’.

So, grab a drink, pull up a chair and settle in to find out what the Wilder boys are up to and I’m hoping to see a glimpse of Eliza and family in each additional book.

I give ‘One Way Back to Me’ five out of five stars and highly recommend it to anyone and everyone.

No Comments Book ReviewsBooks

Revising the 100+ Goal List: 626-Days into the Challenge

Well, I didn’t get around to posting an update on the 500th or 600th day of the challenge. Today (April 6, 2022) marks the 626th day of the challenge (which isn’t quite a third of the way through the challenge).

There has been quite a bit going on between the fourth update (which was roughly around August 23rd of last year) and today.

We’re still dealing with a ‘sick’ pup. Our boxer mix developed a severe reaction to her allergy shot last year—and I do mean severe, she developed hemolytic anemia.

So, the past eight months has been focusing on getting her onto the road to recovery—she’s down to a single med (unless the urinary track infection comes back), and hopefully she’ll be off of that within the next four months.

While she is recovering—the illness has literally taken years off her life, and if we’re lucky we have another two-to-four years (which means she’ll be somewhere between the ages of five and nine when we lose her).

One thing I’ve learned—figure out other ways of dealing with dog’s allergy problems and avoid getting allergy shots at all costs.

We’re still in the middle of the pandemic, and while I know various countries (including the US) are moving towards an ‘endemic’ view—I’ll still be avoiding traveling (at least international) for several more months (possibly looking to travel next spring), until I get my booster shot and the world hopefully mellows.

This decade doesn’t seem to be mellowing out at all—besides the pandemic, we’re a stone toss away from World War 3 breaking out. Russia invaded Ukraine back towards the end of February, and they haven’t left. Personally, I think that all leaders (political and military in Russia) need to be arrested, tried for war crimes and dealt with accordingly.

So, how have I been progressing with the various goals?

Professional development and career: On-going

1. Transition into an industry position (I’ve decided to go in the remote/contract/online direction starting with writing; in addition to slowly trying to start a freelance writing business as well); there will be several posts on this goal

            2. Finish various e-courses that I’ve bought, but in particular:

                        3. Clinical Research Coalition—Finished May 30th 2021

                        4. Medical Writers Organization—need to finish the writing/editing assignments

                        5. Data Scientist Syndicate—Finished September 3rd 2020

                        6. Project Management Consortium

                        7. Management Consulting Firm

                        8. Intellectual Property Pack—Finished June 25th 2021

                        9. Regulatory Affairs Council

                        10. Write Your Way to Freedom

                        11. All other courses—see additional lists in the journal.

                                    I noted how I tried to make a ‘short’ list of additional courses that I would like to have finished in 2021, and then this year (2022) I decided to try to do a BINGO-card style for additional courses. Funny thing—I’ve done several short courses (none of them really on the card). Also will probably hold off on quite a few of the ‘programming’ courses for now

            12. More interacting on Linkedin—Hard to score these, I’m doing the best with #13; though I have started doing my own posts—mainly photographs and quotes; need to start working more on the other 2 (especially the giving/asking for recommendations).

                        13. Sharing articles from various biotech pages, and other science pages

                                    Managing to do this at least two to five days a week for the most part (there are some weeks I don’t share)

                                    The LinkedIn News team has featured two of the shares over the past year

                        14. Commenting on posts

                                    Trying to get better at this.

                        15. Giving/Asking for recommendations—need to start doing

                        16. Start writing my own posts

                                    This is slow going—usually share either a nature photograph or one of my comfort/stretch/risk/die diagrams. The comfort/stretch/risk/die diagrams are usually the ones that get the most views.

                        17. Update my LinkedIn profile to reflect pivot towards writing/copywriting, and strive to have an SSI score of above 65 weekly

            18. Creating monthly/weekly/daily calendars for above goals—trying to get better at the editorial or to-do-list calendars.

            19. Renew professional memberships—Need to pick just one or two currently to renew; can’t do all at once.

Both Personal and Professional Development—still working on all of these

            20. Become fluent in Spanish—Started to use the app Mondly for refreshing my Spanish, though I haven’t been that active with the app for the past month or so. Need to try to spend at least 30-45 minutes two to three days a week on this.

            21. Become fluent in German

            22. Become proficient in French, Norwegian, or Swedish

23. Read at least 300 personal/professional development books; this will include books from my previous attempts at 1001-day challenges as well. I have over 400 books on the list, and I would like to get through at least 100 of them before I keep adding to the list.

I’m aiming to read at least 24-personal/professional development or other non-fiction books during 2022. Currently I’ve read 4, which means that I need to read another twenty books over the next basically eight-and-a-half months. To reach 300, I probably need to read another 210-215 books over the next 1,377 days.

            24. Finish the books on scientific writing

            25. Start building up a portfolio of work (writing/data analysis/plus other ideas)

                        I’ve slowly started doing this—the blog is one part (though currently more creative/reflective and hobby writing), the articles with my own ‘blurbs’ on LinkedIn, and then the volunteer writing I’ve been doing for Medical News Bulletin.

            26. Develop a daily writing habit (tied with several goals below)

            27. Write a letter to my future self

Personal development and hobbies—started a few, but need to also start in on others as well

            28. Paint and frame at least one original painting

            29. More photographyThis is still something that is in progress. I’m trying to get up to Boomer Lake at least once a month, and I could even start trying to do more iPhone photography as well.

                        30. 365-Day Challenge (aim for 365 different pictures)—I haven’t started (or should I say restarted) this yet for 2022. I only managed barely a month last year. My problem has been trying to have 365 different pictures (which is harder than it actually sounds).

                        31. Update photography pages on blog

                                    I’ve combined the photography pages/sections into one section with multiple subsections (birds, and then the other individual pages). I’m slowly working on the research for the various birds that I have pictures of, and am planning on trying to publish a page (plus its accompany blog post) weekly.

            32. Make my own jewelry

            33. Learn to cross-stitch—I’ve completed three abstract pieces, and decided that abstract is currently the way to go—I started, but haven’t finished a fourth that is/was suppose to be natured based).

            34. Get a new sewing machine—On hold; seems getting a sewing machine there is a 50/50 risk that the machine will have problems winding the bobbin

                        35. Make a new quilt (or this may wait until I move)

                        36. Make a set of drapes for the bedroom (for backdrop for any zoom calls)

            37. Start a new afghan (write a post on finishing the other)—need to figure out how to patch the other afghans. I’ve patched one of the two afghans that Chaos chewed a hole in, and am slowly patching the second one (slowly knitting the two or three patches needed).

            38. Show case crafts on blog (possibly a weekly update?)

            39. Start writing a book

            40. Learn Photoshop

            41. Write in journal daily (answer questions/prompts from journaling books and free thought); this has been an on and off endeavor. There are some days/weeks I’m good at writing daily, and then I may go a week or longer without writing in it.

            42. Create my own coffee-table photography book

            43. Learn basic sign language

            44. Start a virtual book club

Finances—still working on these, since I’m taking time off there isn’t a steady paycheck coming in yet.

            45. Create monthly budgets—currently this is just paying off the bills.

            46. Credit card debts down and hopefully paid off monthly—currently this is high, due to pandemic, possible world wars, and me wanting to ‘escape’ reality through reading, playing games, or buying personal/professional development courses; the goal is to have the three high credit cards back down to ‘reasonable’ no later than Feb or March of next year

            47. Declutter the house (way of earning extra cash)

            48. Savings account up another 20K (hopefully)—this will be tied in with previous goals, and any other ways of trying to earn a little extra cash.

            49. Talk with financial person about short-term investment possibilities

            50. Continue doing the small surveys as a way of earning a little extra cash

            51. Finish the various financial e-courses, and decide when/how to start investing

Fitness & Health—On going

            52. Get into the best shape of my life

            53. Multivitamin and supplements daily; I’ve only forgotten to take my multivitamin and supplements every so often.

            54.  Hold a two-minute forearm plank

            55.  Hold a 90 second plank

            56.  Meditate nightly—though sometimes it is only for a minute or two. Trying to increase the timing.

            57.  60-80 oz of water a day; this has been more likely 40-60 oz of water daily and sometimes up to 80 oz

            58.  Stretch daily; I do try to stretch nightly, and in the mornings before getting out of bed.

            59. Get at least 10,010,000 steps (breaks down to 5K/day)—on my way; I’ve managed to hit all month goals (and surpass slightly).

Blog and Social Media–Ongoing

            60.  Finish YouTube for bosses course

            61.  Finish YouTube course creation for bosses course

            62.  Launch a YouTube channel

            63. Launch an online course

            64. Get blog traffic to 500+ views a day—While I’ve been doing okay for monthly views (2022 has been ~440-~640 views between January and March), I still need to work on getting the number of daily views up.

            65. Rebrand the blog/website—basically need to work on developing a personal/professional ‘brand’ as everyone is basically a business of ‘one’ (even if they’re working for a company

            66. Get Instagram followers to constant 800+

            67. Get pintrest followers to constant 400+

            68. Get twitter followers to constant 1000+

            69. Publish at least two blog series—this will be started hopefully by summer; I’m thinking that the ‘series’ will be something that is posted weekly on the same day (so I’ll probably have a ‘nature/photography’ series going, a ‘throwback-travel/photography’ series, and then start a set of science series (a topic that is covered for say a month or two before going onto another topic)

            70.  Editorial calendars (monthly/weekly/daily)

                        71. Blog

                        72. Instagram

                        73. Facebook pages

                        74. Twitter

                        75. Pintrest

            76. Get becomingJessi (or new name if I change) to 1000+ likes/follows

            77. Various top 10 author lists

            78. Various top 10 book series lists

            79. Launch a podcast

Spirituality–Ongoing

            80. Full/New Moon Goals—I’ve been managing to keep up with these posts, though I may not actually meet all the goals that I set for each period, I’ve at least posted for each one throughout the year so far

            81. Create my own altar (wicca/pagan)—This has been accomplished somewhat, as the current altar is on a bookshelf, so it looks fairly crowded.

            82. Weekly (or daily) tarot/oracle card readings—Have been managing to do this (more or less), though I haven’t shared any of the readings on social media yet.

            83. 15 minutes outdoors in the morning (coffee only) weather permitting; Hopefully can start this up within the next couple of weeks as we’re heading into spring, and morning temps should hopefully be above 50

Others–ongoing

            84. Keep at least 3 plants alive—I’ve managed to ‘root’ and replant several cutting from our dumb cane plants, so I guess that could count as keeping plants alive. I need to repot the cuttings of another plant, and then have it outdoors for the summer. I’m also thinking of possibly looking around and getting a succulent or two for the bedroom

            85. Design a science based board game

            86. Create and update digital vision board—I have a digital vision board (it’s the background on the computer; I just need to start updating it to fit my ‘newer’ vision of what I’m working towards

            87. Reorganize my storage unit

            88. Put in at least one flower garden around the house (backyard, and/or front yard)—I’m hoping to get to this over the next few weeks. The front garden needs quite a bit of TLC, and I’d like to try to put in a garden in the backyard, or at least ‘transplant’ some of the groundcover to a new area.

            89. Start downsizing clothes and creating different “minimum” wardrobes (work/professional/casual; home/casual/working out)—need to look and see if there are any non-profits that are taking clothes for donations for Ukraine, and if so how to get them the clothes (I have numerous shirts that can be donated)

            90. Develop at least 30 different 30-day challenges. I’ve lowered the number of days for this challenge, but some of the challenges will include (some ideas taken from the book: “The 30-Day Challenge Book: 500 ideas to inspire your life” by Clare Hudson): Also any of these could also last longer than 30 days

                        One challenge will be 30 days of iPhone Photography

                        Restart an oracle card challenge (at least in terms of ‘sharing’ the picture on Instagram—possibly do it for only 30 days (say three cards per deck)

                        30 days of doodling

                        30 days of coloring in coloring books

                        30 days of mind maps

                        Dance ten-minutes every day

                        Make rubbings of interesting surfaces & textures

                        Film progress of 30-day challenge

                        Learn about politics

                        Learn about a new country a day

                        Research prominent women throughout history

                        Learn economics

                        Pick a subject you’re interested in & develop really niche knowledge within that subject

                        Do a Sudoku or crossword puzzle daily

Goals on hold due to the global coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) outbreak (either because they require traveling, going into a large store, and/or being around large groups of people):

91. Go to at least 1 scientific conference

                        92. Present at a scientific conference

            93. Go to at least 2 professional networking events

            94. Visit at least 3 new countries

            95. Visit at least one new national and/or state park

            96. Visit at least one new national and/or state monument

            97. Visit at least one new zoo

            98. Visit at least one new aquarium

            99. Fly out and/or land at 3 new (to me) airports

            100. Visit at least one new city

            101. Visit at least one new state

            102. See the northern lights

            103. Attend at least one blogging conference

            104. Attend at least one author-reader conference

            105. Swim with whale sharks

            106. Parasailing

Once I move:

            107. Get fabric and foam and make new cushions for chairs

            108. New couch & chair for living room

            109. New dresser for bedroom

            110. New mattress & box spring for bed and/or a new bed set

            111. New TV & stand

            112. New desk/craft workstation

So, while I haven’t cancelled my Beachbody-on-Demand membership yet—I removed all those goals, because I will be cancelling it fairly soon. While I enjoy doing Beachbody workouts (and really do like the ‘live’ classes)—I prefer the DVDs, so that I don’t have to worry on whether or not the WiFi is working well or not; in addition as I’m working on improving my relationship with both food and movement—I rather not be hearing about Shakeology, the supplements, or any of the ‘nutrition’ programs. I will still do ‘Beachbody’ workouts—but only those that I have DVDs for (and still work with the DVD player).

The total number of goals has fallen from 156 to 112—in part due to the removal of the various Beachbody programs, but also the removal of all the different shows I’d though of binge watching via amazon prime or Netflix or Hulu. In addition, various other goals were removed from the list as well. While I’d mentioned the possibility of adding in personal/professional development programs to keep the list ‘long’—I’m happy with it slowly falling towards the ‘original’ number of 101.

I know where I need to focus: time/project management in order to get various things off the ground and sharing a cohesive look. Since I want to pivot in the freelance/remote/online/contract direction for writing—I need to have different pieces (aside from blog posts) to showcase my abilities. Therefore, I will also be writing ‘longer’ pieces that will have a smaller blog post connect to it (‘longer’ piece may also be a ‘landing’ page of sorts).

I have at least three ideas bouncing around in my head for longer pieces, though they’re not specifically ‘medical’ topics—they are science topics (I’m still thinking on the medical topics).

Therefore, one focus over the next few weeks needs to be creating the ‘editorial’ calendar for various sites. I realized the main reason why I ‘fail’ at using the editorial calendar—I put way too much stuff on it, and don’t give myself ample time to write/edit and create images before I want to post something. This is why majority of the posts the blog have been creative/reflective—it doesn’t take much time to write (more time is spent on basic edits).

It has been suggested that I have at least six-to-eight short to medium length pieces written and saved for the weeks that I’m behind schedule. That way, it may not fit the ‘theme’ I’d been going with—but I would have a science, or nature, or travel post ready to go for that week.

I’m getting there in terms of the nature pages/posts—I have four bird pages in the editing stage, and once I have the accompany blog posts done—that is a month’s worth of posts ready to go (at one per week).

The science/medical, health/wellness, and travel posts will take a little longer—science/medical, and health/wellness more so than the travel, especially once I move into different topics (such as GMOs, biofuels, vaccines, cells, cellular pathways, clinical trials, oncology, and so forth).

One thing that may change at some point this year is the web address (becomingjessi) for the blog/website. While it is worked as I was figuring out what I wanted to do, since I have an idea (freelance/remote/contract/online writing/copywriting), I think the web address will be changed (still bouncing between a couple of options), to reflect the additional writing I will be taking on and/or offering.

I’m still doing the volunteer writing position, and approximately half of the articles that I’ve submitted have been published on their site (so that is another little addition to my writing portfolio; though they own the ‘rights’ to the pieces).

Several of those have been short blurbs on different studies that have come out on different health topics (several relating to the SARS-CoV2 virus), so that may be another thing I do on the blog—short blurbs of different papers/studies that I’ve read (or are reading). I’m also thinking of doing slide decks (now the ‘fancy’ name for PowerPoint presentations) as well. That was actually the ‘writing’ assignment for a job application last fall, and I realized where I messed up—so now I need to practice doing it ‘correctly’ (or as correct as I think I’m doing it).

So, over the next seventy-odd days I’m planning on starting to do more writing (hopefully getting enough drafts written and edited that I have possibly at least six weeks worth of posts), start trying to create slide decks and other inforgraphics, work through at least two modules of the Write Your Way to Freedom course, revamp my resume and LinkedIn profile.  In other words—attempt to create and follow a schedule that will let me do multiple things at once and embrace my mixed-styled multipontialite personality and my strengths.

Have you done the 101 Goals in 1001-Day Challenge? If so–how many goals did you manage to get finished, and what did you learn about yourself in the process?

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March in Review: Figuring out where more work is needed–finances and personal/professional development

So, we’re now a quarter of the way through 2022, and the historical events can take a break for a decade or two now…I didn’t get the ‘reset’ I’d been planning on during March—but I’ll forage into the second quarter of the year guarding it closely.

The first quarter of the year seems to have been my ‘testing’ quarter. Testing to see if I could figure out a schedule that I could stick with, and the answer is—I’m still working on that schedule. I’ll fully admit that I’m not handling the possibility of a greater global conflict very well—when I get super stressed or down, I have the terrible habit of spending money. That means I now need to head into the second quarter of the year with a more solid plan for personal/professional development, writing, networking, crafts, and just life in general.

So, we’re now into year three of the pandemic, (the US started shutting things down roughly mid-March 2020), and its looking like everyone is trying to move to the ‘endemic’ mindset—hate to be a party crasher, but even in an endemic, the virus can and will still kill people. Therefore, lets still practice social distancing, washing hands, and wearing masks when in a crowded space. In terms of the total number of cases of the virus within the US, when I published ‘February in Review’ on March 1st, I noted that we had reached a little over 80.6 million cases and now as of April 1st —we have reached a little over 81.7 million cases (an increase of a little over one million cases). Numbers are going down, but is it due to the people vaccinating or just not going and getting tested??

Historical events?? The war is still ongoing in Ukraine, the sanctions are still building against Russia, North Korea is trying to develop longer range missiles, the SARS-CoV2 virus is still circulating, and I won’t even mention what happened at the Oscars last week. But, seriously—enough is enough, time out for everyone—grab a damn candy bar and chill.

The illegal invasion of Ukraine is entering the fifth week, and it seems that the talks between the two countries are stalling—FYI: I don’t think Ukraine should have to make any concessions—and Russia shouldn’t be asking for anything. Russia should have to make all the concessions for the illegal invasion. Yes, I know that there can be similarities drawn between this invasion and several that the US has led over the past few decades—the only difference, those political individuals are no longer in power here in the US (and haven’t left the country since they know they can be arrested elsewhere).

Anyway, I’ve digressed into a semi-rant on current events. As stated earlier, we’re a quarter of the way through the year, and before I really sit down and try to generate the goal list for April (and possibly an broad list for the second quarter), I should look back at the goals I set for March and see how I did with each of them.

The goals for March included:

  1. 130-150,000 steps
  2. Figure out my intentional movement calendar/board-game (aim for at least five minutes of intentional movement each day)
  3. Finish at least one non-fiction book
  4. Read two-to-four (if not more) fiction books
  5. Recommit to the limited spending challenge
  6. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, daily oracle card drawings and overall commitment to improving my mental and spiritual health
  7. Craft time–complete one new cross-stitch project and at least eight days of photography
  8. Continue working on updating the blog/website
  9. Continue working on expanding my writing portfolio
  10. Work through at least one module of a personal/professional development course

So how did I do with each of them?

130-150,000 steps; I actually managed to surpass my goal step for the month. Since there were several days wehre I managed to get a walk in at Boomer and take Chaos through the neighborhood–I managed to get 169,631 steps for the month.

Intentional movement calendar/board-game; I’m still working on developing the calendar/board-game. I’m putting weight tracking sheets into my yearly journal (so far I have tracking for 10 weeks), and am working on developing ideas for HIIT workouts (and other cardio workouts as well)–probably will take moves from various workout programs.

Finish at least one non-fiction book; I’m still bouncing between different non-fiction books, and have only read about a third to half of any one.

Read two-to-four (if not more) fiction books; I’ve read numerous fiction books this past month, and they include:

  1. A Night for Us (Wilder Brothers Prequel) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  2. Evernight Unleashed (Ravenwood Coven #3) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  3. Perfectly You (Luna Harbor #2) by Claudia Buroga
  4. Here, There, and Everywhere (Butler, VT #8) by Marie Force
  5. Falling for the Enemy by J.E. Parker
  6. Don’t Call Me Greta by Angie Santon
  7. Unraveling the Past by Beth Andrews
  8. On Her Side by Beth Andrews
  9. In This Town by Beth Andrews

Though the only two that I’ve written mini-book reviews for are the two by Carrie Ann Ryan.

Recommit to the limited spending challenge; Umm..moving on to the next goal…

Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, daily oracle card drawings, and overall commitment to improving my mental and spiritual health

I managed to spend a decent amount of time outdoors, though there were some days where it was fairly brief.

I’m still working on doing the daily gratitude journal entries, oracle card drawings, and improving my overall mental and spiritual health.

Those two aspects of health are just like one’s physical health—they don’t ‘collapse’ overnight, and they can’t be ‘fixed’ overnight either. Improvement has to be a steady and ongoing effort.

Craft time; I managed several days of photography (either iPhone or camera), but haven’t completed a cross-stitch project yet.

Continue working on updating the blog/website;

Well, the answer to this will also encompass the following goal (expanding my writing portfolio). The short answer—I posted during the month of March, but not as often as I had during the previous years.

The two reasons: my inner critic/imposter syndrome and fear.

Fear, that none of the ‘newer’ topics would get viewed. Fear, that what ‘traffic’ I do get to the blog would disappear, and finally fear that I wouldn’t succeed.

My inner critic/imposter syndrome has been driving that train for the past few months. I know that it will take awhile to do proper SEO research for different topics (especially for the science/medical topics) in order to be able to drive traffic to the blog organically.

I also know that I can also find my tribe by writing and sharing the posts on different sites—I haven’t done a lot of that because I didn’t/don’t want to deal various other ‘hot button’ topics of my youth.

Self-reflection over the past month reminded me that I do have that deep inner sisu—I needed it in order to finish grad school, and both post-docs. If I didn’t have that inner fortitude, I wouldn’t have finished grad school (at least not with a PhD) and I sure as hell wouldn’t have made it through the post-docs.

Continue working on expanding my writing portfolio (science/medical writing, personal/professional development, hobbies/crafts, travel, and other topics as well).

As a slight continuation of the above answer—this really didn’t happen as I’m still trying to figure out what I want really want to write about (at least science/medical topic wise). Though I’m thinking of starting with an introduction to molecular cloning (and some tips on how to get a cloning project from start to finish), and then weaving that into series on GMOs (genetically modified organisms), biofuels, and vaccines.

I’ve got several bird pages ready to write and publish and am working towards writing/publishing a page a week (along with a blog post) or possibly every other week. I also have quite a few trips that I can write about for ‘throwback’ travels as well.

I just have to ‘ignore’ the inner critic/imposter syndrome and ‘quiet’ the inner editor that wants a ‘perfect’ outline before starting to do any type of research or writing.

Work through at least one module of a personal/professional development course from my 2022 e-course BINGO card (or others if they strike my fancy).

Nope, I didn’t work through any personal/professional development courses during March. Also, if I had work through a course—I didn’t make note of it in either of my larger journals.

So March wasn’t the best month in terms of meeting my goals. I managed to hit the step goal, get outside a little more often, and read quite a few fiction books (though this really isn’t a problem usually).

Moving into the second quarter—I’m going to focus on not spending nearly as much as I have the past few months (probably looking at deleting the two games off the kindle again this coming week). Also, focusing on writing, working through various personal/professional development courses, and being more active on LinkedIn.

Therefore the goals for April will include:

  1. At least 130-150,000 steps
  2. Finishing the intentional movement tracking sheets/game board and doing at least five minutes of intentional movement each day
  3. Read at least two non-fiction books
  4. Read at least two-to-five fiction books
  5. Commit to the no spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month
  6. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, daily oracle drawings
  7. Craft time
  8. Working through at least one module of a personal/professional development course
  9. Finally, writing, writing, and some more writing.

In addition to the above goals—I’m going to continue working on improving my time and project management skills as well (as being better at both will help me reach the above goals and other goals as well).

I’ll continue to send happy thoughts/good vibes to the people of Ukraine fighting to keep their country intact and move forward as they chose.

While the decade has been far from ‘smooth sailing’, and this year definitely seems bumpier than the last two—I’m hoping that it will be the last really bumpy year and we can heal, and move forward to a brighter future.

Therefore, I will remind people that if you follow me on other social media sites—I will probably have some political and/or religious posts/statements. I won’t apologize for my views (I believe in science, education for all, healthcare for all, women’s right to choose, people’s right to marry who they want, people identifying as they choose, and the separation of church and state—I’m a mix of pagan, wiccan, and atheist).

I will say this again—if my post is ‘upsetting’—ask yourself why you find it upsetting. I don’t share things to offend, but I do share to help try to educate in addition to showing my stance on various topics.

Therefore on the eve of this new moon, I send healing thoughts and vibes to the people of Ukraine and Russia. Nothing is gained through the loss of lives…

Namaste…

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Introducing the Wilder brothers and Alexis…A great prequel, now waiting on book one

So what happens when you and your younger brothers all get out of the military at the same time?

The Wilder brothers (first introduced in Inked Obsession) are out of the Air Force and figuring out how to adjust to civilian life.

Eli, Evan, Everett, Elijah, East and Elliot are settling into life in Texas, and deciding on what to do now that they’re all civilians.

Eli has the crazy idea of them buying land and going into business together.

A friend invites Eli and Everett to ‘crash’ a wedding, and that’s where Eli finds her—Alexis.

A Night for Us was a great introduction to Eliza’s brothers and Alexis. I’m now impatiently waiting on “One Way Back to Me” to be released to find out how Eli and Alexis’s relationship turns out.

I’m sure that the Wilder brother series will have an appearance or two by Eliza, Beckett, and the Fort Collins Montgomery family.

I give “A Night for Us” five out of five stars, and highly recommend it (and the Montgomery Ink World) to anyone looking for a great contemporary romance to read.

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Evernight Unleashed: The Final Installment in the Ravenwood Coven Trilogy

Welcome back again to Ravenwood, Pennsylvania—a small town both like and unlike others.

If you haven’t read the first two books in the trilogy (Dawn Unearthed and Dusk Unveiled)—I suggest you stop here, and go read both Sage and Rome’s, and then Laurel and Jax’s stories before continuing…

Evernight Unleashed is the final book in the Ravenwood trilogy and is Rowen and Ash’s story.

What happens when the ‘family’ curse takes your soul?

What happens when your mate bond breaks?

Rowen and Ash grew up together, loved each other, and then ‘loss’ each other—or did they?

While trying to save her town, Rowen discovers the enemy’s ‘tie’ to both her and the town.

The coven needs to break the Christopher family ‘curse’ once and for all in order to survive…

What is ‘buried’ beneath the town?

All these and yet more is revealed in the pages of ‘Evernight Unleashed’.

While I enjoyed the trilogy—I think that this one was my favorite. I was always wondering what secrets Ash was hiding when he came back to town.

There are a few other little twists thrown into the story…Possibly another mystical creature…

Paranormal romances are one of my favorite genera, and this book (and actually trilogy) did not disappoint. I highly recommend Evernight Unleashed (and the previous two books) to anyone who enjoys a good paranormal romance with a few twists.

Carrie Ann Ryan doesn’t disappoint whether it is contemporary or paranormal romance. I highly recommend the Ravenwood Coven trilogy to anyone who wants to take a trip without leaving the comfort of his or her home (or favorite chair).

So, pour yourself some coffee, tea, or hot chocolate and settle into getting to know some dear friends. I give Evernight Unleashed five out of five stars.

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Slow start to 2022 Full Moon Goals: reading, & planning

So, we’re going to be entering the second full moon of the year, probably tonight (or last night, or Thursday night depending on where you are in the world). That means, 2022 is officially off and running. That means we are six and a half weeks into 2022—and truthfully I’m not sure how I feel about that…

Before looking ahead to the next full moon, I need to look back at the goals that I set for the Cancer full moon and see how I did with each of them.

The goals that I wrote out for the Cancer full moon included:

  1. Nightly oracle card drawings and meditation
  2. Draft a three-to-five year plan (with yearly/quarterly/monthly/weekly goals)
  3. Finish at least one non-fiction book
  4. Work through at least another three-to-five videos (possibly one or two modules) of a personal/professional development course)

How did I do with each of them?

In terms of the nightly oracle card drawings—I’ve been fairly consistent, there have only been a day or two (at least in Feb) that I didn’t do it in the evenings. I’ve been considering January to be my ‘tester’ month for most goals.

I’m still working on trying to get back into a meditation routine—especially after ‘losing’ both meditation mat and yoga/fitness mat to animal accidents. I think the meditation mat might be salvageable, but the yoga/fitness mat was a total loss. Basically—I’m trying to find something comfortable to sit on, and hope that the animals won’t ‘wreck’ it like they did with the yoga/fitness mat.

The three-to-five year plan… This has been a ‘stumbling block’ for quite awhile. Then I finished reading ‘The Slight Edge’ by Jeff Olson last week (or possibly the week before). Anyway, my biggest takeaway from the book was on goals/habits/plans—and that was have a plan to get started and goals to meet—but don’t try to set up this intricate multi-year plan, as things have a habit of changing, and we need to be able to go with the flow. With that being said, I’m in the process of writing out one-to-three ‘big’ goals for different areas of life, and figuring out what the one thing I can do today (and everyday) that will bring me closer to that goal.

So far this year, I have managed to read (and finish) three non-fiction books:

  1. Work Quilting by Vicki Walton
  2. Girl: Take Back Your Career by Solange Lopes
  3. The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson

I’m also bouncing between probably another three-to-five non-fiction books (aim is to have at least one more finished before the end of February).

Working through another module (or possibly two) of a personal/professional development course…Well, I did manage to watch two short courses on Skill Share:

  1. Productivity Basics: How to become more productive in 4 steps
  2. Personal and Lifestyle Branding; Build Your Story

Plus I’m trying to work through the following two courses:

  1. Write Your Way to Freedom (course on becoming a freelance copywriter)
  2. Work For Yourself (course from Udemy on self-employment/freelancing)

Though all of the work was done towards the end of January—I just can’t get into the mindset (so far) this month.

So, I would say that I’d managed to meet about 80% of the goals—figuring out the ‘alternative’ to a massive three-to-five year plan gave a small ‘check’ on that goal. My problem this year (so far) seems to be getting into the mindset to do the work. I’ve realized that since the one time management app isn’t currently working on the computer—I’m going to be having to log out of various social pages, and then probably ‘un-bookmark’ others. I also need to ‘create’ a mediation area that is easy to set up and take down (to try to minimize the number of possible pet accidents in the area).

Therefore, 2022 is off to a slow walk…Life isn’t suppose to be just about the end point, but the journey as well—and that is something I’m trying to enjoy as I still work on finding the ‘career’ endpoint.

How is your 2022 going so far?

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ARC review: The latest Montgomery Ink: Inked Craving-A friends to Lovers tale

Welcome back to Fort Collins, and the Montgomery Ink family.

Inked Craving picks up where Inked Devotion left off, and features Paige and Lee.

Paige is the youngest of the Montgomerys (she has four older siblings, and fifteen older cousins), is the office manager for the family business, and is workingo nmeding her broken heart.

She had thought she was getting a proposal, instead she is working on mending her heart and determined to move forward with her life.

Lee has been an ‘honorary’ Montgomery for years–what with being best friends with Beckett and Benjamin.

He comes to Paige’s rescue during a thunderstorm, and is the first to find out her ‘secret’.

He promises to be there as a friend to help her adjust and deal with things, since she is determined to do things without family interference.

They slowly go from friends to lovers, with all the ‘normal’ bumps in the road.

Though there is also some danger lurking in the shadows….

Who is Clay’s ‘secret admirer’?

Will Paige and Lee be able to hand the bumps and twists?

The answers and more can be found within the pages of Inked Craving; I give Inked Cravings five out of five stars. I’m really enjoying the Fort Collins branch of the family, and especially enjoyed the appearance of a couple of Montgomery cousins from Denver. I would say that I’m ‘sad’ that Archer’s story is the last in the Montgomery family—but it looks like we’ll be seeing the next generation as they grow up and get their own stories.

Looking forward to seeing Archer get his happily-ever-after this summer. Take a dive into the Montgomery Ink World—a perfect way of dealing with the chills of winter.

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Looking back at January of 2022: Reading goals on track, others are lagging

So, we’re officially a month into 2022—January has somehow come and went. I’d like to say that I’m going to be even more productive than last year—and I know I will be more productive, but how much more—well that is the question.

I feel like January has been a ‘tester’ month. I started out with large plans, and then the inner critic came out and tossed them all into the wind. I’m realizing that I need to find a ‘harmony’ if you will with my inner critic—a time when I’m more than willing to say ‘I’m done’ for the day, and a time when I politely tell my inner critic that there is still work to be done before playing ‘hokey’.

So, we’re now about six weeks shy of starting year three of the pandemic (the US started shutting things down roughly mid-March 2020), and I’m scared that we’re starting to ‘normalize’ this damn virus and all its variants. In terms of the total number of cases of the virus within the US, when I published ‘December in Review’ on January 1st, I noted that we had reached almost 55.7 million cases and now as of January 31st—we have reached a little over 76.2 million cases (that is 20 million cases in a month). The numbers are going up due to the omicron variant that is more contagious than the previous variants (and doesn’t seem to care if one has had their vaccine and booster shots or not).

Its looking like the younger kids (under the age of five) could be eligible for vaccines come as early as March or April—that means if everyone does their part, we may just be able to see the end of the pandemic within a year or so. Because, as I mentioned last month—the only way this pandemic is going to get under control is vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate, and also listening to those who have decades of experience working with infectious diseases.

I managed to get several posts published on the blog/website during January—but I didn’t get to updating/modifying the last set of pages I’ve been needing to—again the inner critic won that round of ‘battles’. I’d mentioned that I’d removed the games I’d been playing on the kindle at the end of December—only to re-download and overplay them again this month. I deleted them from both the kindle and my amazon cloud today—so there is won’t be giving into any urge to download to play occasionally.

But before I can look ahead to setting goals for February, I need to look back at the goals I set for January and how I did with each of them.

The goals for January included:

  1. 130-155,000 steps
  2. Continue with a second round of Morning Meltdown 100 (may only be M-F)
  3. Read at least one non-fiction book from my 2022 non-fiction book BINGO card
  4. Continue setting up my ‘master’ plan for 2022-2025 (and beyond)
  5. Read two to four (if not more) fiction books (and write mini-book reviews to be posted on the blog and other sites)
  6. No spend days/no spend weeks/ Limited spending week
  7. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, and daily oracle card drawings
  8. Craft time
  9. Continue working on updating the blog/website
  10. Assignments for the diamond group
  11. Work through at least one module of a personal/professional development course from my 2022 e-course BINGO card

So how did I do with each of them?

130-155,000 steps: I managed to get a little over 144,000 steps (144,123 steps or 58.91 miles to be exact). There was a walk at Boomer Lake, and a walk with Chaos through the neighborhood this month. I would have preferred to surpass the 155K steps—but I didn’t, though I did get past the bare minimum number of steps.

Continuing with a second round of Morning Meltdown 100: This didn’t really happen. I started it back up at the beginning of the month, but just didn’t feel like pushing play daily. I’ve realized that this is a ‘theme’ at times for me—I complete a program, decide to repeat it and then fizzle for a while before I actually manage to repeat the program (happened with LIIFT4).

Currently I’m thinking of just putting on music and lifting weights three to four times a week, streaming a yoga/Pilates/cardio workout once or twice a week, and then trying to get in a walk on the other day of the week. We’ll have to see how this plan goes.

Read at least one non-fiction book from my 2022 non-fiction BINGO card:

I managed to finish reading the following books:

‘Work Quilting’ by Vicki Walton

‘Girl, Take Back Your Career’ by Solange Lope

I’m now bouncing between several other non-fiction books (like I usually do), though some of them aren’t currently on the 2022 non-fiction BINGO card.

Continuing setting up my ‘master’ plan for 2022-2025 (and beyond):

I mentioned in my Capricorn New Moon goal review post that I’d let my imposter syndrome/inner critic derail me for a good portion of the month, so this was one of the goals that fell by the wayside.

Read two to four (if not more) fiction books:

I managed to read quite a few fiction books this month, though I only wrote and posted mini-book reviews for two of them.

The ‘new’ books I read during January included:

Dusk Unveiled (Ravenwood Coven #2) by Carrie Ann Ryan (book review posted)

Nothing But Ink (Montgomery Ink: Fort Collins #3.5) by Carrie Ann Ryan (book review posted)

The following books by Michele Miller:

From the Wreckage

Out of Ruins

All That Remains

West: Male POV

Into the Fire

After the Fall

Until We Crash

The entire Maverick Billionaire series by Bella Andre and Jennifer Skully; the seventh was just released and I went back and read the first six that I’d bought over the years.

Inked Fantasy by Carrie Ann Ryan

In addition to several ‘re-reads’, that I decided I didn’t need to list out, but I am keeping track of in a spreadsheet so that I can include them in my end-of-the-year total.

No spend days/no spend weeks/Limited spending month:

Nope—January was a bad month in terms of spending. I did delete various games again from the kindle, and then went ahead and deleted them from the ‘cloud’ as well. Hopefully this will help me really curb the impulsive spending.

Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, and daily oracle drawings

There was some time spent outdoors this month. With the temperatures bouncing back and forth—there were days spent sitting outdoors, while the next day I barely stepped foot outside.

Mediation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, and daily oracle drawings only happened really for the first half of the month, and then inner critic/imposter syndrome derailed me.

Craft time:

I did a little crafting throughout the month (some photography, and color by number). I’m going to try to start another abstract cross-stitch project this coming month as a way of switching things up.

Continue working on updating the blog/website:

Nope. I only managed to post nine blog posts last month, though there was a decent amount of traffic to the page (at least according to wordpress analytics). This will probably be yet another goal for the next two or three months (as I don’t see me getting all the pages I needed redone done in just a couple of weeks).

Assignments for the diamond group:

This has been slightly slow going—remember the saying ‘you are your own worse enemy?’—Well that has been me. I’ve been getting in my own way on a lot of the assignments. I’m slowly working through the mindset/reflective questions (and am thinking that at least one or two of them may become a slightly longer ‘essay’).

There is still another month or so of the group—and I’m aiming to transition by the end of the summer (or at least then find a part time job possibly on campus since I’ll be really tight on funds by then).

Work through at least one module of a personal/professional development course from my 2022 e-course BINGO card:

I’m working through two of the courses on the BINGO card:

Write Your Way to Freedom (a course on becoming a freelance copywriter), and How to work for yourself (an course on Udemy talking about freelancing/side-hustle)

But I did finish watching two other short ‘courses’ on Skill Share:

Productivity Basics: How to become more productive in 4 steps

Personal and Lifestyle Branding: Building your story

It is slightly funny how I started the month with big plans to be highly productive (and even watched a small course on it)—and ended the month being somewhat unproductive.

While I wasn’t perfect with all the goals (and some I wasn’t even in the ballpark of being ‘okay’ with)—acknowledging those mistakes are progress in and of themselves.

I’ve deleted all the games on the kindle that I would spend way too many hours and way too much money on playing. While I bought quite a few books this past month—I read most of them (at least most of the fiction books I’d bought). I’ve also realized that I do get antsy during the day (at times), and that I really do need to find a variety of recipes for protein-rich breakfasts (since I’m pretty certain I’m not getting nearly as much protein as I should be getting).

I’m still debating on whether or not to do the monthly spending challenge updates (especially in light of how much I spent this month)—but it is a way of keeping myself accountable.

So, January wasn’t the ‘perfect’ month—but I’m not aiming for perfection, I’m aiming for progress, and progress was made.

I read two non-fiction books, and have started several others (and I’m over halfway through one of those), I watched two short courses, and spent part of the time earlier this month working through a couple of other courses.

I deleted the games (not just from the kindle, but from the amazon cloud as well)—that means I have to ‘search’ for them if I want to download them again, and not to mention having to ‘start’ from the beginning.

The goal is still to ‘change’ this year—getting a remote position, starting the freelance side-gig, and everything else that I want to be trying to do—I’m not going to let ‘Pam’ stop me, she may slow me down quite a bit—but I’m going to keep moving forward.

Therefore the goals for February will include:

  1. 120-140,000 steps
  2. Daily Intentional Movements (walks, chores, lifting weights, yoga, and so forth)
  3. Read at least one non-fiction book (preferably from the BINGO card, but not required)
  4. Read at least two-to-four fiction books (and have mini book reviews posted on the blog and other sites)
  5. No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month
  6. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, and daily oracle card drawings
  7. Daily craft time
  8. Work through at least one module of a personal/professional development e-course on the 2022 e-course BINGO card

In addition to the above goals—I’m also going to work on improving my time and project management skills as well (as being better at both will help me reach the above goals and all other goals as well).

While I may have ‘missed’ a few goals (or at least completed ‘half’)—I still made progress. Knowing that I was sabotaging myself, and how I was doing it—half the battle, the other half is determining how to ‘fix’ the sabotaging problems so that I am productive as I go forward.

What are some of your favorite time/project management tips or tricks?

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