Category: Books

What results when you mix intrigue, secrets, a second-chance romance with cheese? A Montgomery Ink Saga

Welcome back to Denver, Colorado & the Montgomery Ink world….where there is intrigue, and an abundance of family, friends, and cheese.

His Second Chance is Kane & Phoebe’s story, and with a ‘brief’ flashback, starts roughly where Last First Kiss ends.

Kane Montgomery Carr is one of the numerous Montgomery owners of Montgomery Security with his cousins (and their significant others). Phoebe Dixon is his ex-girlfriend…though he isn’t sure exactly how/why their relationship fizzled out.

How did they meet? Well…that first meeting involved a hike, a public restroom, a bear, and an unlocked car…I won’t say who was in the car & who ‘jumped’ in to escape the bear.

Phoebe comes back into Kane’s life…when she needs a body guard & help trying to figure out who is sending her weird messages and such…and Kane won’t let anyone else take the job. He may be trying to also rekindle their romance. Plus…there is still the little problem Montgomery Security is dealing with—their former competitor who seems to still have it out for them.

Can Kane & the rest of the Montgomery Security figure out who is stalking Phoebe? Can they also track down their own ‘stalker’…plus there is a few other ‘surprises’ that will shock everyone within the pages of His Second Chance.

I loved this book…I always enjoy the second-chance romances…where a couple can work through their problems and find their way back to each other. I also LOVED the the little extra shock that sits within the pages…sorry—can’t say more until the book hits ‘electronic’ shelves on the 15th…but it’s a surprise everyone will love. 

What I love about the Montgomery Ink world…besides the fact that each book is more or less a stand-alone story, is that there are numerous books one can go back and binge read. I’ll be curling up later with both the Montgomery Ink: Colorado Spring series (where Kane’s parents are introduced), plus the Less Than series (which is the spin-off series for Kane’s aunts/uncles on his father side). Since we’re in the heat of summer—on July 15, grab a cold iced coffee (or ice tea), a comfy chair, and turn the fans up high, as you immerse yourself into the Montgomery Ink Legacy world with Kane & Phoebe’s story.

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Morning routines–check…Now time to fine-tune the afternoon schedules

Introduction/recap:

Okay…once I get this month’s review posted…I’ll have managed three months this year—and will have covered the second quarter of 2024 (I totally lagged behind in trying to do it for the first three months this year). As I’d mentioned in the ‘intro’ to May in Review—I basically ignored most of 2023 (I think I did January), and it took awhile for me to decide to restart the series. 

Doing these monthly posts is one of the ways I’m trying to keep myself accountable towards different goals, in addition to doing a weekly series in a Facebook group. As I mentioned—I probably won’t be hitting anywhere close to 100% on all the goals…in part due to the fact that I usually set out to try to achieve like 10-12 different ‘large’ tasks…and I’m still in the process of developing a fluid schedule for the day. I’ve gotten a decent fluid schedule down for part of the morning…now it’s time to fine tune that and start developing the fluid afternoon schedule. 

I almost have a morning schedule that ‘sticks’: getting on Mondly for say 20-30 minutes to learn a foreign language, then do my morning update on Gaza (post to my instagram channel), then do an oracle card drawing (posting to the oracle card channel), then do a science news brief for LinkedIn. Its after getting those four things done, that my schedule starts to semi-fall apart.

I’m going to be keeping to a list of about twelve goals for the next few months…only because I’ve only been getting about 2/3 of them done (at least fifty percent) at a time. I’m hoping that keeping things ‘similar’ month to month—they’ll become habits, and then I can start adding/stacking other goals in.

Goals that I’d set for June:

  1. Reading at least three non-fiction books
  2. Reading at least four fiction books
  3. Completing at least one (if not two) 30-day challenges
  4. Making time & making use of the intentional movement board game
  5. Launch the YouTube channel (outline & intro video)
  6. Aim for two blurbs on science, health, or medical papers
  7. Watch/work through at least three e-courses
  8. 30-minutes at least 4x/week on Mondly
  9. Posting consistently to the oracle card channel
  10. Post to each blog at least twice
  11. Finish the outlines for the three big creative research projects
    • Interviews with dinosaurs & other extinct animals
    • Interviews with toxic & venomous animals
    • Interviews with various ancient civilizations (this could be upwards of three to five different mini proejcts)
  12. Work on the needlepoint project
  13. Check in with this list at least every other day to ensure that I’m making progress

So how did I do with each of those main goals?

Reading at least three non-fiction books (100% completed):

I finished the following nonfiction books:

  1. Ocean Life in the Times of Dinosaurs by Nathalia Bardet, Alexandra Houssave, Stephane Jouve, & Peggy Vincent
  2. The Last Days of the Dinosaurs: An Asteroid, Extinction, and the Beginning of Our World by Riley Black
  3. The Quest & the Qalandar: Experiences of Sufism by Waqar Faiz
  4. Patrice Lumumba, Ahead of His Time (Political Leadership in Africa #1) by Didier Mumbata
  5. Nice White Ladies: The Truth about White Supremacy, Our Role in It, and How We can Help Dismantle it by Jessie Daniels

Five books that spanned a diversity of topics: the Mesozoic era, religion, politics, and culture. I’d mentioned previously that I’m working at becoming a better global citizen–which includes reading books on people that I’d never heard of before (I didn’t realize that the US gave ‘aid’ in getting rid of the first prime minister of the Congo–Patrice Lumumba), and topics that are ‘difficult’ to read on (aka white supremacy & women’s (specifically white woman’s) both intentional & unintentional parts in upholding those ‘aspects’ of society.

Currently I’m six books away from my goal of reading 44 nonfiction (or historical fiction) books before my 44th birthday (which is in September). Something tells me that I’ll finish ‘above’ the goal of 44 books…and that means I should totally ‘reach’ and finish ‘above’ the goal of 100 books by June 18, 2026.

Reading at least four fiction books (100%+ completed):

I probably spent a little too much time reading fiction books this month. I read well over four fiction books during June. The books I read included:

  1. Forbidden King (Magnolia Falls #3) by Laura Pavlov
  2. California Waves (The Davenports #2) by Bella Andre & Nicky Arden
  3. Fragile Sanctuary (Sparrow Falls #1) by Catherine Cowles
  4. Forbidden Hearts (Whitlock Family #1) by Corinne Michaels
  5. Broken Dreams (Whitlock Family #2) by Corinne Michaels
  6. Tempting Promises (Whitlock Family #3) by Corinne Michaels
  7. Forgotten Desires (Whitlock Family #4) by Corinne Michaels
  8. Come Back for Me (The Arrowood Brothers #1) by Corinne Michaels
  9. Fight for Me (The Arrowood Brothers #2) by Corinne Michaels
  10. The One for Me (The Arrowood Brothers #3) by Corinne Michaels
  11. Stay for Me (The Arrowood Brothers #4) by Corinne Michaels
  12. Return to Us (Willow Creek Valley #1) by Corinne Michaels
  13. Could Have Been Us (Willow Creek Valley #2) by Corinne Michaels
  14. A Chance for Us (Willow Creek Valley #4) by Corinne Michaels
  15. Destined for Me (Come Back to Me/Say You’ll Stay Crossover) by Corinne Michaels
  16. The Sweet Spot (Playing to Win #4) by Bella Matthews
  17. Dragon of Her Dreams (Dragon Knights #20) by Bianca D’Arc

Needless to say…I was reading a lot this past month…which could possibly explain why I didn’t get as much e-courses completed…also I binged read a couple of series by Corinne Michaels that were semi intertwined. 

Complete at least one 30-day challenge (100%)

Well…I’ve completed a 30-day challenge…it was another Sudoku challenge. Maybe next month I’ll remember that I’d stated it would be a jumping jack/squat challenge, along with possibly watching a different TedTalk each day.

Make time for intentional movement (possibly somewhere between 5-10%)

Still gotta get better at setting aside time for intentional movement. The only days where time is ‘set aside’ are on Wednesdays…and those are my ‘chore’ days. So—I need to actually try to ‘schedule’ in time during the other days of the week for some type of intentional movement.

YouTube Channel (outline & intro video) (still somewhere around 5%):

I still have the mind map of topics…that I need to chose from, then mind-map from that topic to determine the ‘subtopics’ that I’d be researching/talking about. One thing I realized—I don’t necessarily have to be ‘on screen’ (since currently my niche is science/health/med education—I’d be doing ‘voice over’ explaining the slides). This might go a little faster since I don’t have to try to ‘record’ myself (other than a possible introduction video to the entire channel)

Blurbs on science, health, medical papers (still around 5%)

Currently this is still sitting at roughly five percent…basically, I still have the extreme rough draft of the blurb on the sea dragon genome paper that I need to edit down to a decent length. I don’t know why I haven’t sat down to edit it yet…other than allowing the inner critic & imposter syndrome to ‘grab the reins’ on this writing project series. When I drew my yearly BINGO card, I’d decided that I was going to try to get back into a habit of reading at least one ‘research’ paper a week on different topics, & then write a blurb/review on it & post it…that was suppose to be 52 writing projects this year (because I also stated within my 101 goals—I have the goal to write a minimum of 100 blurbs/reviews by June 18 2026)…needless to say—I’m behind on this ‘project’. 

Watch/work through at least another three e-courses (about 50% completed):

I mentioned above that I read a lot of fiction books this month…and a lot of the time spent reading could have been spent working through e-courses.

Currently I’ve finished an introduction to statistics course on Udemy. This was a decent intro course on stats…there were a few problems within the course & of course ‘quizzes’ at the end of different sections. I rated it four out of five stars—mainly because one of the videos was actually a ‘repeat’, and it had been mentioned like two years ago, and the creator hadn’t gotten around to ‘correcting’ it yet.

I’m about half way through another ‘stats’ course (Statistics and data literacy for non-statisticians). Currently I’ve rated the course at a three out of five stars…mainly because there haven’t been ‘problems’ to work through…there didn’t seem to be an ‘intro’ video (introducing the content creator & content)…and I’m not sure how much I’m actually getting out of the course. I’m not sure if I’ll be finishing this one up this afternoon or not…if I don’t finish it today, I’ll have it finished by tomorrow (July 1st) afternoon.

30 minutes at least four times a week on Mondly (90%):

I started using Mondly again on the 3rd of the month; and other than the first two days of the month & the 16th, I’ve been on the site, somewhere between 20-40 minutes a day learning Arabic.

I went back and did the daily lesson for the 16th (along then with that weekly quiz) today after I finished today’s daily lesson. With ‘missing’ three days this month—I managed to start learning a foreign language & logged in to the site 90% of the time this month. 

Posting consistently to the oracle card channel (90%):

Again, I started posting to the oracle card channel ‘consistently’ on the 3rd. So, in an similar answer to the above foreign language—other than the first two days of the month & the 16th, I’ve been posting oracle cards & their messages to the oracle card channel daily (usually shortly after I do the Gaza morning update on my other instagram channel).

For June I used the Guides of the Hidden Realm oracle deck by Colette Baron-Reid. Next month I’ll be choosing a different deck (possibly The Ancient Stones Oracle deck by Rebecca Campbell that also came out last month). Each month will be a ‘different’ deck, and I think I have at least twelve different oracle decks (along with five different tarot card decks) that I’ll just ‘cycle’ through them.

Post to each blog at least twice (100%):

I did manage to post to each blog at least twice. In terms of the science/health/medical blog—I posted twice earlier this month on two different science related ‘random’ holidays (World Environment & World Oceans days). I’m still posting more often on the creative blog (at least weekly with the weekly summary of the hellish events happening within Gaza & the West Bank).  I really need to decide if I want to ‘pause’ the medical series and start a different one (one that might actually see me posting to the blog on a more consistent basis).

Finish the outlines for the various creative research projects (~5% completed):

This is sitting around 5% completed. I have the ‘basic’ outline for the different dinosaur interviews…but didn’t modify it for other extinct animals; nor did I modify it for toxic & venomous animals.

In terms of the different ancient civilizations—I need to decide how may ‘different’ people I’m going to interview—is it going to be ‘gods & goddesses’, leaders, craftsmen, or everyday people? Hopefully I’ll get more of this project completed over the next few months. I’d really like to have some of these ‘short stories’ published on different sites by mid-September.

Work on the needlepoint project (100%)

Yes. I’ve been consistently working on the needlepoint project & hopefully will have it finished sometime in July. Will it be in time for the 300-day checkin of my 101 goals? Or the 5th checkin for my 44 goals before turning 44? Maybe…but I should have it done by the end of July (or extremely early August) at the latest.

I usually take weekly update pictures on the needlepoint project to share with a friend. But I think the monthly one really shows the progress…I’m even impressed with how much I managed to get done last month. This is working at least twenty minutes (upward of two hours) a day on the project.

“Checking in on the list” (Not really a goal):

I mean there are only a few goals that I haven’t really progressed far on (the science/health/medical paper blurbs, the YouTube channel, intentional movement & getting more of the different creative projects written). Then there are others that I had no trouble completing (reading & working on the needlepoint project). I think what I need to do is have the afternoons structured a little better than what I’ve been doing…possibly try to focus on research/writing from say 2:30 to 4 three to four times a week—instead of waiting until then to try to do a e-course or something.

Conclusions for June:

So I technically set twelve goals for June (the last one was really just a reminder to myself to check the list every so often). I managed to get at least fifty percent (upwards of stating 100% progress) on two-thirds of the goals…so I did well with eight of the twelve goals. The four that I fell behind on—have been the four that I’ve been ‘stalled’ on since I restarted this monthly accountability series.

I think the only one of those four that will be ‘modified’ will be the one for the YouTube channel—I need to finish fine-tuning the outline & decide the format that I’m going to be working with (videos with voice-over, or will I be ‘on screen’ in the videos). The other three I just need to actually ‘fit’ into the daily schedule (whether at a particular time, or just pick a project for the week).

Goals for July:

  1. Read at least three nonfiction books
  2. Read at least four fiction books
  3. Complete at least one more 30-day challenge (and not just a Sudoku challenge)
  4. Set up the intentional movement plan
  5. Polish the outline for the YouTube channel & decide on the format
  6. At least one blurb on a science, health, or medical paper
  7. Work through at least three e-courses
  8. At least 25 minutes each morning on Mondly
  9. Post to each blog at least twice
  10. Post consistently to the oracle card channel
  11. Finish the mindmaps/outlines for different projects
  12. Continue working on the needlepoint project (possibly finish?)

Final Thoughts/Reflections:

Twelve goals…and basically the same (more or less) goals that I had set for June. I’ve ‘modified’ the YouTube channel goal & intentional movement goals, as well as stating I’m aiming for writing a single blurb on a science/health/medical paper for the other blog. The other goals are more or less what I’ve done for the past few months. Will I remember to do an additional challenge (along with the Sudoku)? Hopefully…I do have in the daily schedule to doodle in the early afternoon before attempting to do any learning/virtual chats.

Instead of ‘rewriting/rewording’ things—this is what I wrote at the end of May/beginning of June in terms of the goals I’m probably going to be ‘repeating’ for awhile:

The rest of the things…will require that I work on silencing the inner critic/imposter syndrome on a daily basis. I know what I want to do with my life—not only help improve how various topics are communicated to the public…but education overall…in addition to finding a way to make a partial living as an crafter/artist—as I’m starting to think about branching out and teaching myself other crafts—crochet (I knew how to do this years ago), making jewelry (I’ve got enough beads & charms), resin, mosaics, and wood-burning. I don’t need to make millions…I just need to make enough to ensure that my bills are paid, I have a roof over my head, and food on my table. Travel really isn’t even that big of a necessity currently (mainly due to the state of the world).

I want to become a better global citizen…which means decolonizing my mind and ‘relearning’ things about various parts of the world. It means learning an language (or two)—as English isn’t spoken everywhere. It means figuring out how to live with less…so to help cut back on the demand/need for vital elements that are fueling genocides and conflicts throughout the African continent. 

Progress…good, and done is better than ‘perfect, and never published’…because perfectionism is a myth…a myth of white supremacy that I’m going to jump up and down on until it’s grounded back into dust. What is one thing you’ll do to help break down the barriers around the world? 

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Mix one part time & project management with reading & e-courses: equals Capricorn Full Moon Goals

So the moon will be entering the Capricorn constellation tonight (or possibly last night depending on where you are in the world), and it will mark the sixth full moon of the year; and we’re a little over two-thirds of the way through June. We’ve passed the summer solstice, and now are slowly heading towards the shortest day of the year.

Two years ago, I wrote that: ‘I have various ideas of what I would like to do professionally (such as science/medical/health communications, creating (and selling) e-courses, e-books, workbooks (and so forth), creating crafts (jewelry, cross-stitching, scarfs, afghans and so forth) to sell on etsy, educational consulting, professional coaching, blogging, setting up a podcast and YouTube channel, and photography)…now I just need to make the ‘map’ that will blend all of them together (honoring my strengths and values).’

Last year I didn’t do much to move these goals forward (due to the family medical issues which ended in my mother’s passing; then losing two pets within four days of each other in June)…so I’m now working towards getting these goals manifested into reality.

So looking to book “Moonology: working with the magic of lunar cycles” by Yasmin Boland—what are the questions that can be asked during the Capricorn full moon?? Those questions include:

Have I been ambitious to the point of ruthlessness?

Have I been obsessed with work to the detriment of my personal life?

Have I been hard headed, hard-nosed, or just too hard on others?

I have allowed my head to overrule my heart?

Have I been planning my life enough? Or have I been planning it too much?

So if I were to number the above questions 1-5, my answers would probably be as following:

  1. No, I haven’t been ambitious to the point of ruthlessness. There is enough success to go around, and everyone is on a different path…some ‘parts’ may overlap—but not everyone is aiming to be both a science/health/medical communicator who is also creating e-courses/workbooks, crafts, and such. Also—being ambitious to the point of ruthlessness—can be seen as a sign of poor leadership, and people being severely toxic (and I’ve been trying to avoid those types of people the past couple of years). 
  2. I’ve never really been much of a social butterfly (even before the pandemic/epidemic of SARS-CoV2 virus), but in terms of my ‘personal life’…no I’m not obsessed with work to the detriment of my personal life. I do try to ‘unplug’ in the evenings and work on crafts and such; and I also try to balance the ‘work’ portion between the more research-focused work, and the creative/free style work. 
  3. Nope, I haven’t been hardheaded, hard-nosed or too hard on others. I don’t associate (in person) with many people right now. I meet up with a friend for lunch monthly (if we both remember), and currently most of my interactions are online. I try to avoid arguments with people…by either not commenting; turning off comments; or just removing the connection. 
  4. Two years ago I asked the question ‘in what context?’. Right now there aren’t that many decisions that I need to make that are in the realm of head versus heart type of decision.
  5. I’m working on accepting the ‘where you are is where you’re meant to be’ mentality. I would say that in terms of whether or not I’m planning my life enough…the answer is firmly in the middle. My ‘problem’ is trying to do either too much or not enough. Something I’d touched on a few years ago…and that problem is a extremely large one to work on correcting…and I’ll fully admit that I really didn’t do much last year in terms of trying to plan things out better. Breaking large goals down into easier ‘bite-size’ goals is still something I’m working on this year. 

So the Capricorn full moon is also going to be traveling through my third house—or the communication zone. This zone deals with both communications with people that you would see on a day-to-day basis (more or less): friends, co-workers, and possibly family; but it also deals with other things as well: to-do lists, self-expression, and so forth. While it is a time for communications—the communications are best done when people are in “good” moods—you don’t want things to spiral out of control and a disagreement started because someone took something you said the wrong way.

In terms of ‘major disagreements’…well there is a genocide being carried out live-stream, along with others that aren’t being ‘streamed’ (I’m talking about Gaza, the Congo, Sudan, & other places)…so there are disagreements with people on this topic—but I usually just delete the comments and/or block the person. I don’t think In the middle of any type of major disagreement with people that I talk to on a more day-to-day basis (my father, younger brother, or friends). 

I’m working on making the to-do lists (or as I do like to call them the to-be accomplished lists) more manageable—by only have a few things on them per day (and having a longer ‘list’ for the week, that I can go back & grab things to work on once I get other things taken care of). Self-expression/self-care is always an ongoing task..especially when you realize that you’ve spent way too many years ‘shrinking’ yourself to appease others.

So what are my goals for the Capricorn full moon period? They include:

  1. Finish fine-tuning my intentional movement game/schedule & then just doing something each day (whether it’s lifting weights, dancing around the living room, getting on the exercise bike or massive cleaning spree)—just doing something each day.
  2. Work on creating a new long-term goal list. Since I’ve listed out numerous ideas at the being of this post in terms of what I’d like to do career wise—I now need to figure out how to weave them together, plus have goals for other areas of life: health/wellness, finances, personal/professional growth, spirituality, living space, and crafts/hobbies).
  3. Work through at least part of an ‘long’ e-course (one that is over three hours) or watch at least two (possibly three) shorter e-courses
  4. Get at least half-way through at least one non-fiction book that I’ve started over the past few months.
  5. Planning for the second half of 2024 (BINGO cards; July calendars; and July brain dump; possibly August or Sept brain dump as well).

Five goals…that all focus on time & project management. Therefore I should be able to get at least three of the five done (planning for the second half of 2024 & July; new long-term goal list; working through part of an e-course; and possibly finishing (or getting halfway through) at least one nonfiction book). The fine-tuning the intentional movement game/schedule is the really ‘iffy’ one…as I’ve been great at procrastinating doing anything that is ‘fitness’ related (though I have been cleaning out the storage unit, cleaning the house, & carting around the 12 pound cat daily)…so progress is the goal—not perfection.

What is one of your Capricorn goals?

And of course remembering: Progress not perfection.

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Adding in the gaming factor: part one of the development plan

Okay.

I redrew my personal/professional growth game last week. I decided to remove a board, and condense certain topics down in order to have a ‘single’ board.

The ‘rules’:

  1. No longer than six weeks per turn
  2. Roll each set of dice three times. Then after all six rolls & determining what squares I’ve landed on–consolidate them down into a list.
    • I have two different colored sets of dice (and I only use six of the seven dice; these are basically the dice one uses for role playing games). After rolling all six dice:
    • Lowest to highest; and lowest number is ‘by itself’
    • Then start adding up the numbers
    • Also…it’s eighty-four squares back around to ‘start’
  3. Pick three to four items to complete. BUT list out everything, so that if something gest completed sooner than the six week period, I can go back and choose other items to complete.
  4. To keep myself accountable: Two blog posts: when starting & then after the six week period. Possibly then take a day or two off before rolling the dice again (that way it isn’t two back-to-back posts on the same day).
  5. Timing:
    • For reading: Fiction books (one week, including time to write & post reviews). For non-fiction books (no longer than three weeks per book)
    • For e-courses: it depends on the length of course. But aim for at least 30 minutes per afternoon working on a e-course
    • For refreshing/learning a foreign language: Minimum of 25 minutes/day. This is actually an ongoing task, regardless of whether or not I landed on the square
    • For crafts: this will also vary (depending on the craft project)
    • For reviewing ‘subject matters’:
      • Randomly choose a chapter
      • Word search (or crossword puzzle) of key terms
      • Infographic or poster
      • Minimum of 15-20 slides on key points
      • Quiz or test

Notes: The textbooks for development biology & genetics are either in the storage unit or garage currently. For the topics of oncology, small RNA biology, molecular cloning, and the ‘-omics-‘ items I don’t really have textbooks for those items (or at least not ones that are fully devoted to all aspects of the topic).

I rolled the dice this afternoon, and the following list was generated based off the squares I landed on:

Landed on multiple times:

Reading (seven times)

E-course (six times)

Review oncology (three times)

Squares I landed on twice:

  1. Landscape design
  2. Interior design
  3. Review cell biology
  4. Review biochemistry

Squares I landed on once:

  1. Learn about public health
  2. Review molecular biology
  3. Research an interesting person in history
  4. Review stats
  5. Small RNA biology
  6. Learn graphic design
  7. Learn about international law
  8. Content development
  9. Learn about economics
  10. Ancient South America
  11. Review molecular cloning
  12. Unplug for the night

What am I going to be focusing on first?

Reading:

I have numerous nonfiction books that I’ve started over the past few months. A goal is to finish at least three of those during the next six weeks. In addition to reading three fiction books (at least) and writing small book reviews over.

E-course:

I plan on working through at least three e-courses on Skillshare and/or Udemy. Bonus points if courses cover items listed further down on the ‘squares’ landed on (such as economics, graphic design, public health, or stats).

Review oncology:

I plan on continuing my oncology blog series on the science/health/medical blog. Over the next six weeks I plan on getting the blog posts for adenocarcinomas up (this is the first ‘carcinoma’ subtopic), and will actually be covering cell biology/anatomy as I talk more about the two major gland systems in the body in regards to how cancers can develop within them.

‘Fourth’ item:

The ‘fourth’ thing will actually be two different things: (a) unplugging for the night. I plan on ‘unplugging’ at least three to four nights per week. This means that I stay off of the computer after say 7pm, and then put the phone on do-not disturb/airplane mode for the same time period. This will allow me to either work on crafts, clean/organize, or read. (b) content development, as this is basically an on-going task (along with the refresh/learn a foreign language).

Those are the main four/five things I will be focusing on…if I feel the need to ‘add’ something in—I’ll add in interior design (as I’m working at trying to turn my bedroom into a ‘micro’ studio apartment (minus the kitchen & bathroom) by the end of fall).

A major goal of the next six weeks: time & project management. Figuring out how to balance out the different ‘projects’ for the different blogs, and other social media channels. In addition to rekindling the enjoyment of research & developing unique ways of sharing the information.

I’m not sure what type of ‘rewards’ I will be going with for the game…as I’m also trying to get the debt down, limit the amount of ‘stuff’ I buy, and am aiming at only buying things that I will actually use (i.e. limit the number of random knick knacks that I might decide to buy). 

I’m also working on the intentional movement/fitness board game—as I decided I wanted something a little more than just a circle with things written. Possibly a similar board game, but with specific exercises in different boxes (the ‘random’ aspect would be the amount of weights lifted and/or time spent on each exercise).

Check back in late July (July 29th to be exact) to find out how I did with the first round of the game…and to find out which books I finished reading, which e-courses I worked through, and how I did at getting the next series of oncology blog posts up on the science/health/medical blog.

How do you go about expanding your learning—by games? To-do lists (tied to goal lists)? Totally randomly, or what? Share your tips below.

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Time to redraw the board game & update the plans

So, the moon is going to be transitioning through the Gemini constellation tonight—marking the sixth new moon for the year, and the only new moon for June. The past few years have had me in a yo-yo when it comes to consistently setting goals via the moon cycles. I didn’t set any Gemini new moon goals in 2020 or 2023, but did set them in 2021 and 2022. As I mentioned in an earlier post—a goal is to consistently post the goals via the moon cycles this year…since I missed like over half the year last year.

So what are some of the things that one can focus on during the Gemini new moon? They include:

  1. Think about how you communicate with others
  2. Meditate
  3. Socialize more
  4. See your siblings
  5. Read more

I’m not really a social butterfly…nor am I an extrovert. I barely consider myself to be an ambivert (I’m like 99.9% introvert, and 0.1% ambivert/extrovert). Since various strains of the SARS-CoV2 virus are still floating around (and I have extremely limited funds)—I’ll still be doing most of my ‘socializing’ online. 

I see my younger brother quite frequently (he lives in town), but the older sibling is still out in CA, though we did see them last year when they came for a brief visit. Again—extremely limited funds, so I won’t be doing any type of traveling currently (plus there are the animals to think about as well).

I love to read…so reading more isn’t a problem, and I’m still working on getting back into a mediation routine at night. Yes, I’ll think about (and work at improving) how I’m communicating with others.

But then I should also look to see what house the new Gemini moon is moving through as well. So the new moon in Gemini is also moving through my eighth house, or my “sex and shared finances”. This zone can also be referred to as the money & relationship zone (or at least that is how I think of it). So what are some of the things that one can do during this time in regards to the eighth house?

  1. Pay off a loan (or take one out)
  2. Open a savings account and make your first deposit
  3. Cancel a credit card you know you can’t afford
  4. Ask for a pay raise (but really only if you believe you might get it)
  5. Refinance your mortgage
  6. Talk dirty to your partner
  7. Try a sexual position for the first time

Okay…still not in the market for a relationship. Not that I need to share my reasons, but: 1—still in a epidemic/pandemic due to the virus (and I’m not interested in meeting anti-vaxxers); 2) I’m still a work in progress; 3) family obligations; and finally 4) I don’t have the energy or time to even think about entering the dating scene & finding someone. 

While humans are social creatures…I feel like I was the medicine woman/hermit/‘witch’ living out in the woods…at the edge of the community—still close enough to ‘belong’ but far enough out to have space, peace, and quiet. I’m really that odd duckling—I don’t mind being unattached, childless, or single.

So in terms of things one can do for the eighth house: 

I currently have a savings account (with a little bit of money in it), which I’m going to be working on trying to increase the babalce

Working at paying off credit cards and then possibly canceling one (or two)

Nope..not taking out a loan

Don’t own the house…and the parents already have the mortgage paid off

No pay raise (at least until I start landing clients or find a remote position)

Still not in a relationship…so the last two items aren’t even on my radar.

Therefore, goals are really going to be focused on the personal/professional growth aspect of things, and my goals for the Gemini new moon will include:

  1. Continue to fine-tune my personal/professional growth plan (focusing on career [writing], health/wellness, finances [fine tune that plan], spirituality, hobbies/crafts, and personal space). 
  2. Update the personal/professional growth game (remove a few items and/or expand others—micropaleontology is on hold currently)
  3. Continue to clean/organize/declutter the bedroom & house…in order to get the storage unit cleared out by early fall.
  4. Continue with my daily intentional movements and nightly meditations/sitting quietly moments.
  5. And…read, read, and read some more. I’m actually nine nonfiction/historical fiction books away from my goal of reading 44 nonfiction/historical fiction before my birthday. So—try to read three more during the month of June.

I mentioned this previously on LinkedIn (in my numerous ‘reintroduction posts), but I’ve been spending the past few years trying to reconnect with strengths & values:

Strengths: Learner, Intellection, Input, Achiever, and Deliberative (my top five Clifton Strengths)

Values: Knowledge/Learning, Creativity/Curiosity/Imagination, Authenticity/Self-respect, Spirituality/Inner Harmony, and Growth/Evolution/Transformation

I’ve realized over the past few years—that I had the tendency to ‘sacrifice’ or ‘down-play’ strengths/values to either not make waves or to stay in the background (I’m not really an attention seeker). But now—I’m making sure that those strengths and values are front and center for any and every decision I make going forward in terms of personal/professional development, career trajectory, and just overall happiness.

Some things will be ‘semi’ down-played (aka how much/often I talk about Gaza on say LinkedIn)—but that is only due to not wanting to have my account restricted again (like it had been earlier this year).  The focus on the personal/professional growth plan will be a little more ‘time-consuming’ as I need to be clear—but at the same time ensure that I’m not trying to cram too much stuff into a short period of time (like I’ve been known to do…which then results in me tossing out the plan…instead of going back to ‘refine’ it). Also, with the current status of the world..I need to focus on more ‘short-term’ goals than really long-term…since who knows what the hell will be happening throughout the rest of this year.

This is why, that as I’m also ‘restarting’ my monthly accountability posts—a lot of the ‘goals’ seem to be repetitive..I’m trying to turn the goals into habits (writing, fitness, and so forth). Progress is slow…but it’s getting better, especially since I’ve figured that spending time learning a foreign language & posting to the oracle card Instagram channel needs to happen in the morning (and I put them around doing the morning Gaza update—one before, & one after); and so far it seems to be working this week.

What goals are you repetitive with?

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Progress, but stalling…then a little more progress–leads to some forward momentum.

Introduction:

Last month I ‘restarted’ my monthly accountability posts—also known as ‘months in review’. I’d been doing these posts on and off for a couple of years…but last year—I think I only did January…and then totally fell of the wagon in trying to do things (in part to the family medical issue). Will I be hitting 100% on all goals…probably not. Only because I’m still working on developing a good ‘fluid’ schedule for the day—one that allows me to focus on different tasks without feeling like I’m ‘ignoring’ the major task in favor of quicker, easier tasks to complete. 

At times I’ve realized I have ‘shiny squirrel’ syndrome…where I start a task, and then get easily distracted by something else…start in on that ‘task’…get distracted…and within a couple of hours totally forget what it was I was meaning to do earlier in the day. I have found that just setting say four to six major tasks per day does seem to be helping…though I’ve also found that I need to move the ‘learning’ (especially refreshing or learning an foreign language) closer to the top of the list…it seems it’s one of my more ‘difficult’ (would love to put off) tasks.

Since I did fairly well in April with the goals that I’d set…I added a few extra to May—and probably shouldn’t have done that. I’ve realized that sometime less is actually more. I can always have an ‘side’ list of goals—goals that I can pick from after majority of the other goals have been completed. So what were the goals that I’d set for May—well, they included:

  1. Read at least three non-fiction books
  2. Read at least four fiction books
  3. Complete at least another 30-day challenge
  4. Start following my intentional movement (aka exercise) plan
  5. Finish outline & launch a YouTube channel
  6. Blurbs on science, medical, or health papers
  7. Working through at least three e-courses
  8. 30 minutes 4x/week on Mondly
  9. Posting to each blog at least twice
  10. Mind-maps & outlines:
    • Interviews with different dinosaurs & extinct animals
    • What makes us ‘toxic’ (interviews with the different creatures that house microbes that produce neurotoxins and other types of toxins)
    • Interviews with ‘ancient’ civilizations (Copan, Mesa Verde, Stonehenge, plus possibly a few others)
    • Ancient civilizations: Mesopotamia & Ancient Egypt
    • Micropaleontology
    • Plus the topics that I didn’t get to last month: the metabolism project & food that aren’t good for pets & why.
  11. Writing at least 30 minutes a day on two different projects
  12. Working on my needlepoint project
  13. Creating a rough draft of an coloring book from my black & white doodles

So how did I do with each of them?

Reading at least three non-fiction books: (completed, actually tripled the number–so 300% completed) I read the following books:

  1. Pagan Portals: Sekhet-Lady of Flame, Eye of Ra by Olivia Church
  2. Pagan Portals: Isis-Great of Magic, She of 10,000 Names by Olivia Church
  3. Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear: Poems from Gaza by Mosab Abu Toha
  4. Just tell Me What I Want: How to Find Your Purpose When You have no idea what it is by Sara Kravitz
  5. Headstrong: 52 women who changed science & the world by Rachel Swaby
  6. Just do the Damn Thing by Reece Owens
  7. Authentic: How to be Yourself and Why it Matters by Stephen Joseph
  8. 365 Days of Walking the Red Road: The Native American Path to Leading a Spiritual Life Every Day by Terri Jean
  9. The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur
  10. unBuried-unMarked: the unTold Namibian Story of the Genocide of 1904-1908 by Jephta Nguherimo

Reading at least four fiction books: (completed, 100%), I read the following books:

  1. Wild Heart (Hearts of Swayer’s Bend #6) by Ivy Layne
  2. Stay Anyway (Kincaid brothers #7) by Kaylee Ryan
  3. State of Suspense (First Family #7) by Marie Force
  4. Last Minute Fiancé (The First Time/Cassidy Brothers #2) by Carrie Ann Ryan (This one I also wrote a book review over)

Complete at least one more 30-day challenge (Completed, 100%):

I’ve completed another 30-day Sudoku challenge. While I may not have gotten every Sudoku filled in correctly…I’ve at least attempted a Sudoku every day (with the exception of Memorial Day—no paper was delivered) for the month of May.

Start following the intentional movement (aka exercise) plan, (~10% completed)

I need to work the intentional movement (exercise) plan into my personal/professional board game. Maybe that way I’ll actually start doing things. Within my ‘fluid’ schedule—I’m going to be ‘putting in movement’ blocks—which may be something as simple as putting on a movie and marching in place for 20 minutes, or getting on the exercise bike and riding it for 10-20 minutes, or possibly both.

Finish outline & launch a YouTube Channel (~30% completed)

I have a mind-map of topics for the YouTube channel—things ranging from science, health, medical topics (similar to that blog) to current events, to crafts & hobbies, and other interests. I just need to decide which ‘hub’ to start with—and then draft that outline…and possibly record an ‘introduction’ video to post to the channel (which I already have…just need to change the name).

Blurbs on science, medical, or health papers (Still sitting around 5%)

I still haven’t finished polishing (and shortening) the one blurb that I’d started a couple months ago on the sea dragon genome paper. I’m not sure why I’m dragging my feet on this ‘task’…other than numerous papers sound interesting until I start to read them…and then I’m quickly reminded why I detest reading (and writing) academic papers.

Working/watching three e-courses (completed, 100%):

I watched three short courses on Skillshare this month:

Creative Journaling: Getting Started

I think I would give this course a 4 out of 5 stars. It basically was more along the lines of ‘creative’ bullet journaling (at least for me—since most journals I’m using for either planning or journaling happen to be dot journals (that are mainly used for planning)).

While I journal daily…I just haven’t been using washbi tapes or stickers for the most part…doing creative (or junk) journaling is actually on my 101 goals…I just haven’t started doing it, and am unsure how I’d track my ‘creative/junk’ journaling habits.

Growing Your Creativity

I actually not sure what I’d rate this course. I think my biggest ‘issue’ is that I do consider arts & crafts to creativity at a certain level…because you are creating something. Also I didn’t care too much for the instructor’s definitions of artists versus craftsmen. I do need to try to do the ‘assignment’ which actually had multiple parts: list of things that you truly care about, spend time/money/effort on, likes, hobbies, and so forth. Brainstorm 25 possible creative ideas for next project for this inspiration list, and then choose one for your next project. Currently I’m still working on my large needlepoint project (which is why I haven’t finished this ‘assignment’ yet).

Fictionalize Your Life: How to Keep A Writer’s Diary. 

I would this one a 3.5 out of 5 stars, only because I didn’t care for the tone of the instructor in some of his videos. Nor did I care for how he defined journal versus a diary. Both can be for practicing, and both can also be ‘private’ never to be shared. It’s literally all in the preference of the person sitting at the keyboard or who holds the pen (or pencil). I find the idea of trying to create ‘short’ glimpses of daily activity into a micro-scene of a short story intriguing and I may try them…and then see how they’d potentially merge into a larger story.

30 minutes 4x/week on Mondly (0% completed)

I’m not even sure if I logged into Mondly this month or not…but I do know that I need to move this task upwards on the ‘daily’ to-do tasks. Have it second on the list, after putting together the daily update on Gaza & the West Bank.

Post to each blog at least twice (100% completed for science/health/medical blog, and 200-300% completed for the creative blog):

I know that I’ve posted to the creative blog numerous times this month (new & full moon goals, two book reviews, and months in review). I also posted twice to the science/health/medical blog towards the beginning of the month. I know that blog is slowly taking off—towards the end of last month (or it was possibly early this month)—I got my first ‘trolling’ comment on the blog.

I need to get better at posting to the science/health/medical blog—I’m hoping that possibly creating a minimal content editorial calendar during June will help me post at least two to three times (an oncology post, a blurb on a science paper, and then possibly another blog post on something else).

Mind-maps & outlines (probably about 40% done):

For the four ‘creative/research’ projects—I’m probably about 40% done in terms of mind-maps and outlines for those projects. I’ve paused two projects for the science, health, & medical blog (metabolism series and why certain foods aren’t good for pets), and put learning more about micropaleontology on hold indefinitely. Below I’ve stated how far I’ve gotten with each of the projects..

Interviews with different dinosaurs & extinct animals (About 60% completed)

I have an ‘basic’ outline for “talking” with dinosaurs, and I need to try to modify it slight in order to make use of the outline with other extinct animals (such as sabertooth tiger, giant sloths, cave bears, woolly mammoths, and other extinct creatures). I also need to decide if I’m going to use research papers as the main ‘reference’ points, or if I’m also going to use books (which would require me then going back to any I’ve read—and skimming to get to areas to highlight important bits and pieces of information).

I also need to work on the ‘story’ outline aspect—the part that will be more ‘creative’ in respects to the how I’d flow from ‘question’ to ‘question’.

What makes us ‘toxic’ (interviews with the different creatures that house microbes that produce neurotoxins and other types of toxins) (About 35% complete)

I know the three main animals that I’m going to “interview” in terms of being toxic animals: the puffer fish, the blue-ringed octopus, and the roughed skin newt. In addition I’m thinking of “interviewing” the Gila monster, now need to find an ‘venomous’ fish & cephalopod to interview & have a “balanced” look between toxic and venomous animals.

I’m still working on the outline—especially since in terms of the ‘toxic’ animals—there really ins’t a agreed upon mode of ‘uptake’ that turns these animals toxic.

Interviews with ‘ancient’ civilizations (Copan, Mesa Verde, Stonehenge, plus possibly a few others) (Still working on these ideas—so not that far into the project)

Ancient civilizations: Mesopotamia & Ancient Egypt (probably about 60% done)

I have several books on ancient Mesopotamia already (part of an early book buying splurge)…I just need to see if they have anything in them on Queen Puabi of Ur, Queen Kubaba of Kish, or the goddess Ishtar.

I’d bought several non-fiction books on Nefertiti & Hatshepsut…and then went back and bought one on Sobekneferu (the very first female Egyptian Pharaoh). I haven’t gotten around to reading them though…one of the problems when you give into your impulsive book buying tendencies…you end up with dozens of new books over the past few weeks/months. I think my non-fiction/historical fiction list is probably closing in on 600 books—though I’ve read a handful (probably about 40 or so since 2022; the list is one that I started back in 2019…and I keep adding books to the list…so yeah—I probably buy about 100 nonfiction/historical fiction books a year).

Since these queens were from different centuries & cities within Mesopotamia, or eras of ancient Egyptian history (Hatshepsut was a few hundred before Nefertiti; and Sobekneferu was a few hundred years before Hatshepsut); I need to possibly also find a book (or two) about those general eras of ancient Egyptian history, as I’m hoping the books I have on Mesopotamia can fill in those ‘dots’ for me there. But I’m thinking that I may do a interview series in the ‘spirit’ of the one I’d done in college (when I was ‘interviewing’ different gods or religious figures for the survey of Eastern Civilization course).

Micropaleontology (This topic is on ‘hold’ indefinitely)

The study of micro fossils. Fossils of pollen and other microorganisms. It sounds extremely cool…but as much as I’d love to become a micropaleontologist—I’ need to get the debt down first. Then I can possibly get a textbook or two on the subject (though who knows if I’d ever be able to afford the type of microscope one really needs to see these guys).

Plus the topics that I didn’t get to last month: the metabolism project & food that aren’t good for pets & why. Okay, the metabolism project is on hold..I want to get the ‘what is a microbe’ series launched first. Also I’m not 100% certain how I want that (the metabolism) series to flow and which direction I want to go in.  Food that isn’t good for pets & why—also on hold. In part because it’s tied to the metabolism project.

Writing at least thirty minutes a day on different projects (~10-30%??)

I know since not quite mid-month I’ve been ‘writing’ daily…and actually ‘writing’ daily well before that. But—I don’t know if the ‘projects’ (with the exception of the daily updates on Gaza) have been within the half-hour range. I know the Gaza one should be within that range, only due to the time it also takes to read the news and then determine what little ‘blurb’ I’m going to be writing on it. 

Working on the needlepoint project (100% effort on this one):

I’m not done with my current needlepoint project. This is currently the largest one I’ve attempted, and it’s totally abstract and original. Will I be finished with by July 17th (300 day check-in on my 101 goals in 1001 days) or July 20 (on my 5th check-in on my 44 things before 44)? Maybe…since I still have six and a half weeks—but I do know I should have it finished by my birthday in September. The picture (below) was taken last night (May 30) to highlight the progress that I’ve made during the month-compared to how it was at the end of April (compared to early Feb).

Showcasing different status pictures of latest abstract needlepoint project

Create a rough draft of a coloring book from black & white doodles (~15-30%)

Okay I have a very rough draft of a collection of PDFs of the different doodles…they’re just not totally ‘straight’ (you can see some of the bedroom in the background). So I need to place the sketchpad on a surface (that isn’t my lap) and stand above them to take a picture (and hopefully have it ‘straight’ enough that I can crop out the background of the desk or table). 

I need to also see how many different black and white doodles I have—and I may need to take some time over the summer to draw/doodle some more pictures to flesh out the coloring book. In addition—figure out how to copyright (so what would the business name be—or would I just do things in my own name), pricing, and how would I collect (Venmo, PayPal, or what)…so yeah—I have several things I need to figure out still.

Conclusions:

Well, I made progress on all but three of the goals (refreshing/learning a foreign language, the science/health/medical paper blurbs, and following an intentional movement plan). The YouTube channel at least has a mind-map drawn, and now I just need to decide which ‘direction’ to go in to start (science/health/medical blurbs/news, crafts/hobbies, personal/professional growth, or current events), the direction will also let me know how many ‘videos’ I’d be trying to do a week/month. While some progress wasn’t great…the amount of progress is actually really good—considering the fact that last week was the year anniversary of my mother’s death, and I’d been sitting in procrastination corner a lot this month. 

I’ve also realized that In need to schedule the time for Mondly (and actually working out—or the ‘main’ workout time) for the morning, and preferably as soon in the morning as possible. While I have no problem watching an short e-course (or trying to start a longer one) in the afternoon, I don’t feel like trying to learn an language that late in the day. So, yea! I’ve figure out part of the schedule needed; in addition I should probably ‘schedule’ my oracle card drawings/sharing to the oracle card Instagram channel for the morning as well. Both of these may before my Gaza updates on Instagram (or at least they’ll bracket it—Mondly before, and then oracle card afterwards).

The coloring book is still an extremely rough draft, especially since I have various ‘business’ questions/tasks that I’d need to get settled before I could ‘sell’ the book. The business questions/tasks are something I’ll be working on tackling this summer. Because selling digital items (coloring books, prints, or whatever) may be one the quickest ways of earning a little cash.

I’ll probably have roughly the same number of goals for June—with actually the final goal, being checking in with the goal list periodically to ensure that I’m actually working on things I’ve stated I want to work on. Therefore the goals for June will include:

  1. Read at least three more non-fiction books
  2. Read at least four more fiction books
  3. Complete at least one (if not two) 30-day challenges
  4. Improve intentional movement game & make time during the day for intentional movement
  5. Launch the YouTube channel (outline, schedule & intro video)
  6. Two blurbs on science, health, and/or medical papers
  7. Watch/work through at least another three e-courses
  8. 30 minutes 4x/week on Mondly (after breakfast probably)
  9. Posting consistently on the oracle card channel (after Gaza update probably)
  10. Post to each blog each least twice
  11. Finish up the outlines for the three large creative research projects:
    • Interviews with dinosaurs and other extinct animals
    • Interviews with toxic and venomous animals
    • Interviews with various citizens/leaders of various ancient civilizations
  12. Continue working on the needlepoint project
  13. Check in with this list every few days to ensure that I’m making progress.

Conclusions, part II: In regards to June goals:

Twelve goals, well thirteen—but the last one is literally a reminder to myself to check in with the list (either opening this document or looking at the journal where I will have it written out). Similar goals to the past two months…mainly that is how one builds habits—repetitive actions. Reading is an enjoyment…I read more non-fiction this month than fiction, but that was because I’ve got the goal of 44 non-fiction/historical fiction before my birthday, and I felt like I was slightly behind schedule & wanted to catch up.

The rest of the things…will require that I work on silencing the inner critic/imposter syndrome on a daily basis. I know what I want to do with my life—not only help improve how various topics are communicated to the public…but education overall…in addition to finding a way to make a partial living as an crafter/artist—as I’m starting to think about branching out and teaching myself other crafts—crochet (I knew how to do this years ago), making jewelry (I’ve got enough beads & charms), resin, mosaics, and wood-burning. I don’t need to make millions…I just need to make enough to ensure that my bills are paid, I have a roof over my head, and food on my table. Travel really isn’t even that big of a necessity currently (mainly due to the state of the world).

I want to become a better global citizen…which means decolonizing my mind and ‘relearning’ things about various parts of the world. It means learning an language (or two)—as English isn’t spoken everywhere. It means figuring out how to live with less…so to help cut back on the demand/need for vital elements that are fueling genocides and conflicts throughout the African continent. 

Progress…good, and done is better than ‘perfect, and never published’…because perfectionism is a myth…a myth of white supremacy that I’m going to jump up and down on until it’s grounded back into dust. What is one thing you’ll do to help break down the barriers around the world? 

How are you coming along on your yearly goals?

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Mix the birthday shots, sprinkled with a ‘little white lie’-equals Addison & Luca trying not to freak out

Welcome back to Colorado and the Cassidy brothers…and their friends (which may include an Montgomery or two). Last Minute Fiancé is Addison’s & Luca’s story and takes place shortly after Good Time Boyfriend.

Luca is the youngest Cassidy brother, and a vet…who has been dealt a little bit of heartbreak in the past. Addison is Denvey’s best friend, enjoys numbers, and is stuck in a job that she isn’t sure if she still loves or not. At a birthday party…they both might have had a few too many birthday shots & cake…and it might have led to a few things in the bedroom. 

What happens when you’re working in a male dominant field and find out that you might not get the promotion that you’re more than qualified for…because you’re a single, independent woman? Well…you might talk your best friend into going along with your little ‘white’ lie…that you’ve engaged…and, oh could he take the weekend off to come to a business retreat with you? After a little in-home test confirms something else?

What to do when you’re both freaking out about the results of that little in-home test, your boss is a giant a-hole, and your ex gets the promotion?

Throw in some family drama, wine, kittens and puppies—and you have the storyline for Last Minute Fiancé. To find out how Addison & Luca navigate the ups and downs of what life is throwing at time…plus catching up with Luca’s siblings—grab Last Minute Fiancé as soon as it comes out.

I love these little spin-off series that Carrie Ann does from the wider Montgomery Ink world. You not only get to know a wonderful group of people—but it gives you a lot of books to later buy and binge read. Last Minute Fiancé is a five out of five stars, and I can’t wait for the final book in this ‘short’ series, which is due out in October—but until then, grab a series (or two…or three) and get to know the Cassidy brothers, the Montgomerys, and all their friends and family.

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Check-in time on the 44 goals before 44…take four

4th check-in on my ’44 goals before turning 44’ project; & realizing that I’m four months away from my 44th birthday. It’s been a seesaw in terms of productivity…some days I’m productive…other days I’m sitting in procrastination corner. If it were a perfect world & I was totally on top of my game—I’d be two-thirds of the way through the list (having 29 or 30 goals checked off).

It isn’t a perfect world though…I have gotten several goals accomplished, and there are others that are either halfway done or I consider on-going goals (so can’t consider them ‘completed’ until my birthday).

So what goals are completed? Halfway? On-going, or just not started yet? Images for the drawings, paintings, and needlepoint projects are after the list.

Well here are the 44 goals that I wrote out on the evening of my 43rd birthday last year:

  1. Starting my freelance science, health, medical communications business. In progress–I have the website, and I’m slowly getting blog posts up. I’m still in the progress of creating a portfolio to have on the site as well to highlight the types of communication pieces I would enjoy creating for customers. The site: jessicamatts(dot)com
  2. Transition into a remote science/health/medical comms position. Need to have a portfolio (possibly) and need to start looking to see what companies are hiring remote comms workers. I really don’t want to have an hybrid or in-person job.
  3. Launching a YouTube channel. I have a YouTube channel…I just need to ‘rename/rebrand’ it, and figure out what the hell I’m going to talk about on it (whether it’s a mix of science and things or strictly a science/health/medical channel).
  4. Launch a podcast. Need to launch the YouTube channel first…so I’m not sure if this will happen before my birthday or not.
  5. Complete at least ten different Udemy courses: I’ve watched three; a minimum of seven more
    • Gods and Kings: The Art History of Mesopotamia & Arabia
    • Beginners guide to SEO for medical writers
    • Writing an Effective & Successful Business Plan
  6. Complete at least twelve different Skillshare courses: I’ve watched seven; a minimum of five more to go
    • Creating Your Dream Career: Uncovering & Apply Your Creative Strengths
    • Productivity Habits that Stick, Using Time Theming
    • Goal Setting for Creatives: play to your strengths & tap into flow
    • The Art of Setting Goals: Create Your Roadmap to Success
    • Creative business plan for artists: creative a thriving business
    • Creative journaling: getting started
    • Growing your creativity
  7. Read at least 44 non-fiction/historical fiction books: I’m a little over 2/3 of the way done with this one. I’ve read 30 & only have 14 more to go.
    • Monarchs of the Sea (The extraordinary 500-million year history of cephalopods) by Danna Staaf
    • Conquering your burnout: an actionable guide to overcome burnout by Veronica Llorca-Smith
    • Beyond Beautiful: A Practical Guide to being happy, confident and you in a looks-obsessed world by Anuschka Rees
    • Unfuck your brain: Using science to get over anxiety, depression, anger, freakouts, & triggers by Faith Harper
    • Things no one will tell fat girls: A handbook for unapologetic living by Jes Baker
    • Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement by Angela Y. Davis
    • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
    • Body Positive Power: Because life is already happening and you don’t need flat abs to live it by Megan Jayne Crabbe
    • Flying Snakes & Griffin Claws: and other classical myths, historical oddities, and scientific curiosities by Adrienne Mayor
    • Letters to a Starseed by Rebecca Campbell
    • White Women: everything you already know about your own racism & how to be better by Regina Jackson & Saira Rao
    • Healthy at Every Size: The surprising truth about your weight by Linda Bacon, PhD
    • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive approach to living a good life by Mark Manson
    • I’m Not Yelling: A Black Woman’s Guide to Navigating the Workplace by Elizabeth Leiba
    • Pantesdrunk by Misha Rantanen
    • Find Your Unicorn Space: Reclaim Your Creative Life in a Too-Busy World by Eve Rodsky
    • Bust Your Fears (Rebel Diva #4): Three tools to help conquer fear by Tikiri Herath
    • Top 10 Most Interesting Dinosaurs by Daniel Boszo
    • What if it does work out: How a side hustle can change your life by Susie Moore
    • 50 Dinosaur Tales: And 108 More Discoveries from the Golden Age of Dinos by Sabrina Ricci with Garret Kruger
    • Waking up in the Winter: In Search of What Really matters at midlife by Cheryl Richardson
    • Becoming What you are: A concise guide to awakening the light within by Two Workers
    • B*tch don’t kill my vibe: How to stop worrying, end negative thinking, cultivate positive thoughts, & start living your best life (self help with a little sass) by Reese Owens
    • Pagan Portals: Sekhmet: Lady of Flame, Eye of Ra by Olivia Church
    • Pagan Portals: Isis: Great of Magic, She of 10,000 Names by Olivia Church
    • Things You Might Find Hidden in My Ear: Poems from Gaza by Mosab Abu Toha
    • Just Tell Me What I Want: How to Find Your Purpose When You Have No Idea What it is by Sara Kravitz
    • Headstrong: 52 women who changed science & the world by Rachel Swaby
    • Just do the damn thing: how to sit your @ss down long enough to exert willpower, develop self discipline, stop procrastination, increase productivity…sh!t done (Self help with a little sass) by Reese Owens
    • Authentic: How to be yourself & Why it Matters by Stephen Joseph
  8. Become fluent in Spanish. I need to stick with a daily time to get onto Mondly to work on this and #9 as well
  9. Become proficient in Arabic. See above
  10. Learn to say hello in ten different languages. See #8
  11. Learn to say thank you in ten different languages. See #8
  12. Complete a 365-day photography challenge. Nope. Need to create a ‘schedule’/outline and add this to my 45 things before 45 list
  13. Monthly editorial calendars, weekly/daily to-do lists. This is an ongoing goal, and one I’ve been improving with over the past two or three months compared to the first few months last year.
  14. What is my definition of success? Finished:
    • Being curious, constantly learning, creative, present, productive & aware that not everyday is going to be rainbows & unicorns…sometimes they’re going to be thunderstorms & disasters.
    • Success is more than money, influence & power. It’s being a member of the global community, helping to improve society in whatever small way(s) I’m able to.
    • It’s being comfortable with what I have, doing what I can with what I have, while striving to be a little better tomorrow than I was today. I’m only in “competition” with the me I was yesterday.
  15. Create a vision board based on that definition. Still collecting ‘images/words/phrases’ to place on the vision board.
  16. Learn basic sign language. I think I bought an e-course on this topic.
  17. Get debt down by a quarter to half (based on where it is now). Not sure how well I’m doing..since I’m still in the planning stages of my businesses
  18. Continue getting into the best shape of my life. I do need to figure out what some metrics will be to aim for (heavy lifting or something…because currently its a little too vague still)
  19. Learning about body confidence. Ongoing–have read several book on the subject (see above)
  20. Create a happiness plan. Need to set this up during the next two months
  21. Daily mediation on-going
  22. Stretch daily on-going
  23. Hold a 90-second plank. Need to get on this one
  24. Develop & stick with a consistent exercise schedule. On the agenda for the week.
  25. Make some mosaic art
  26. Make some resin art. Semi-completed. I made a small ‘container’
  27. Draw/doodle, color & frame an original drawing. Completed. See below for the pictures
  28. Draw/doodle, paint & frame original drawings. Completed. Again, see below for the pictures
  29. Start making jewelry. Semi-started. Attempted to make an resin pendant
  30. Complete at least another six cross-stitch projects. In progress-I have one finished, and am currently working on a second large one. Not sure if I’ll get four smaller ones done or not before my birthday.
  31. Create my own calendar using my nature photographs. Debating on whether to do a 2025 or try to make a planner for 2026 with my own photographs
  32. Create at least one piece of wood-burnt art. Haven’t tried yet. I have the kit…just haven’t worked up the nerve to try yet.
  33. Monthly full & new moon goals. I’ve only missed Oct 2023 full moon posting. This is on-going
  34. Daily oracle card drawings. This is on-going. I need to determine the best time to actually also post them to the oracel card channel that I started on instagram
  35. Learn to make sushi. I have a sushi making ‘kit’ and cookbook in my amazon cart to order.
  36. Get a haircut. Since there is starting to be a spike in SARS-CoV2 cases again…not sure if this will happen before my birthday or not.
  37. Create a coloring book from various (uncolored) doodles/drawings. I just need to retake a bunch of photographs (to ensure that that pictures are ‘centered’) so kinda in progress
  38. Complete a Sudoku or crossword puzzle daily (a minimum of 60-day challenge). Currently about two-thirds of the way through the 60-day Sudoku challenge…may have also hit that mark (not sure if I started that on March 20 or not). Almost finished
  39. Complete at least five 30-day challenges. So far have completed at least 30 days of the Sudoku challenge. on-going.
  40. Read at least two ‘new’ (to me) banned books. Halfway done:
    • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  41. Read at least two ‘new’ (to me) classics
  42. Read at least one ‘new’ trilogy (or longer) series. Finished. Have read at least five to seven this year.
    • Lost & Found series by Catherine Cowles (five books–series is done)
    • Cottonwood Cove series by Laura Pavlov (five books–series is done)
    • Lakeshore U by L.A. Cotton (four books, not sure if there are more yet)
    • Kincaid Brothers by Kaylee Ryan (six books, plus another two to finish)
    • Playing to Win by Bella Matthews (three books, plus one more to finish)
    • The Defiant Kings by Bella Matthews (five books–series is done)
    • The Kings of Kroydon Hills by Bella Matthews (four books–series is done)
  43. Finish creating an inspiring work/crafts area
  44. Write a letter to my future self (again). Wrote one for me to read/open on either 12/31/2025 or 01/01/2026

The three pictures that I drew and colored with either colored pencils or markers.

Two of the four paintings that I’ve done. I did two watercolors & two acrylics (one of each for two different sizes–the 9×12 seen here & then 8×10).

The finished needlepoint project on the left & the progress of the other large one on the right.

But, since it isn’t a perfect world—I’ve ‘completed’ a few goals: doodling/drawing, coloring & framing at least one original drawing (I did three); doodling/drawing, painting & framing at least one original piece of art (I’ve done four); reading at least one ‘new’ trilogy (I’ve read at least two—truthfully probably closer to five now), determining what my definition of success is (still need to make the vision board), and writing a letter to my future self.

That’s five goals finished…and technically there are three others that are halfway finished (reading at least two banned books, doing at least a two-month challenge of attempting to solve a Sudoku puzzle each morning & creating some resin art). This means I’ve accomplished almost 11.5% of my goals (and if I add in the three halfway completed goals—I’m a little over 18.2% of the way). 

Several of the goals are ongoing goals—meaning I won’t consider them ‘finished’ until I hit my birthday (there are seven which accounts for almost 16% of the goals). So—that means there are 30 to 31 goals that I should still aim at trying to finish over the next four months). Though in all honesty I probably won’t become fluent in Spanish or proficient in Arabic in four months…these goals will possibly also be added to my 45 goals before 45 list, along with the new 365-day photography challenge.

In terms of reading goals: I’ve finished one (reading at least one ‘new’ trilogy or longer series; I think I have like five to seven actually listed above), I’m halfway done with another (reading at least two ‘new’ banned books), and I’m almost two-thirds of the way through the nonfiction/historical fiction challenge (I’ve read 30 books, which means only 14 more to go). I still need to read another ‘new’ banned book & two ‘new’ classics.

In terms of the continuously learning (aka e-courses), I increased the total number of courses for both Udemy & Skillshare—I’m now stating I will finish at least ten Udemy courses (I’ve done three—so I’m also a third of the way there); and I will finish at least twelve Skillshare courses (I’ve done seven—so I’m a little over halfway done ‘watching’ these courses).

Progress is measured in the baby-steps forward, the tasks being checked off the list—and an new goal list is being brainstormed to come into being on the eve of my 44th birthday. I’ll check in later (possibly next week) with the goal list that I’m aiming to accomplish before July 20.

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Finally getting Naomi & Amos’ full story…with a touch of cake, cheese, & wine

Welcome back to Texas and the Wilders. There’s a wedding coming up…but then again—there are always weddings, since the Wilder Retreat is a wedding venue.

But this is a special wedding…it’s a Wilder wedding.  But the main scope of the story—is that Naomi & Amos finally get their time in the spotlight.

Naomi & Amos have been around the Wilders since the beginning…they were actually employees that decided to stay on when the Wilders bought the winery/resort from the previous owner.

Throughout the books—they’ve had an on/off relationship…but it all comes full circle in A Wilder Wedding.

I loved seeing Naomi & Amos get their time in the spotlight…and Amos did need to have a little sense knocked into him by the Wilders.

If you’ve been keeping up with the Wilders—you know who’s getting married…and if you haven’t…well you should probably grab the last book (or two) to catch up with everything that’s been happening around the Wilders.

It wouldn’t be a Wilder book if there wasn’t just a little bit of mayhem…because they seem to attract it like honey. 

What mayhem? Well—it’s a little bit of family drama (possibly not the Wilders), and just a little bit of drama in general.

I give A Wilder Wedding five out of five stars. I love this series, and am glad that there were the cousins to bring in to keep it going for a while longer. I’m looking forward to Wyatt’s story later in the year.

The best thing about A Wilder Wedding—you technically don’t need to have read the rest of the books in the series…this is a perfect ‘introduction’ to the loud and loving Wilder family.

A Wilder Wedding will be available to purchase on Monday May 13 from all online bookstores. So plan on taking Monday afternoon off…grab a cup of tea (or coffee, or whatever), a good chair and settle in to visit some possibly new friends down in Texas as they come together to host a family wedding.

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Exhausted…by the world…but striving to become a better person

So the moon is going to be moving through the Taurus constellation midweek, marking the fifth new moon of the year. I did managed to see part of the solar eclipse last month during the Aries new moon—but didn’t have the proper filters on the phone to be able to get a picture.

But before looking ahead to the Taurus new moon, I should look back at the goals that I made for the Aries new moon and see how I did with each of them. So what goals did I set for the Aries new moon? Well, they included:

  1. Make a draft of a 13-to-15 month plan
  2. Start using the intentional board-game that I drew last month
  3. Start having yogurt & fruit for breakfast, more veggies throughout the day/week; change up what I’m eating
  4. Read at least one of the books i have on ‘positive’ mindset
  5. Mediate nightly

So how did I do with each of them?

Draft of a 13-to-15 month plan:

I have several long-term goals written out: getting the freelance businesses up, getting debt down, getting the storage unit emptied (and my bedroom turned back into a mini studio apartment), and so forth. 

Turning those (plus the few others) into an combo plan has been a little harder than I initially thought. Mainly—trying to turn a long-term value driven goal into smaller ‘objectives’ (with their key results). Doing monthly moon-phased goals usually works well (for the most part). So I’d say that I have this goal about 50% done.

Making use of the intentional board-game that I drew

While I printed off a tracking sheet for using weights…I still haven’t fully made use of the board-game yet. Mainly because I don’t schedule in the time…and allow everything and anything push intentional movement to the bottom of the list.

Yogurt with fruit for breakfast:

Yes, I’ve had yogurt with fruit for breakfast a few more times during the week. Breakfast has always been one of the meals that is ‘rushed’…so I can try to get the day started…so I can get things off the to-do list…so that I can ‘relax’ after dinner and unwind. 

Obviously this is still something that I need to work on…as I’m still working to heal my relationship with food (working at removing various terms like ‘diet’, ‘serving size’, and so forth from my mental vocabulary).

Read at least one book on ‘positive’ mindsets:

I recently finished: “B*tch don’t kill my vibe: how to stop worrying, end negative thinking, cultivate positive thoughts & start living your best life (self help with a little sass) by Reese Owens.

When you’ve been bullied throughout your childhood (mainly at school)…negative thoughts are an almost guarantee when you’re older. I’ve been slowly working on trying to ‘catch’ the negative thoughts and work at ‘rephrasing’ them in a more ‘positive’ light.  But at the same time…it is literally impossible to be happy/positive all the time. Also trying to ‘maintain’ positivity/happiness all the time…only helps to uphold ‘white supremacy’…something that really needs to be fucking dismantled in the world today.

Meditating nightly:

I’ve been able to ‘sit’ quietly for a few minutes every night. I need to get back to the ‘guided’ meditations to try to go a little longer than just three or four minutes. But considering the state of the world..I’m happy that I’m able to sit ‘quietly’ for just a few minutes every night.

Conclusions and thoughts:

With the exception of trying to become better at doing daily intentional movements—I at least started every goal I’d set for the Aries new moon. One thing I’ve realized—is that I’m getting ‘tired, worn down, frustrated, add in just about any other ‘negative’ emotion’—due to the hypocrisy of the western world. 

Why in the hell is everyone okay with the genocide that is going on in Gaza? Like really—why? Why is there silence on the on-going genocide-within-a-genocide—where the Palestinian Christians are also being targeted? Did you know their (Palestinian Christian) population has fallen by over 3% since this current genocide started in Oct? 

I’m realizing that I’ve been ‘silently and slightly blindly’ complicit in things over the past few decades…and by that I mean due to trying to figure out my own life that I’d ‘tuned out’ global politics and things happening around the world…that is white privilege being able to do that…and I while I acknowledge & ‘own’ that privilege…I’m trying to release that privilege as well.

People seem fine with the fact that a foreign country is carrying out a genocide with American tax dollars…yep folks—those taxes we pay are funding this genocide—with the total approval of the US government (with a few minor exceptions within the house of representatives).

The ‘timer’ already went off and the occupiers have started to invade Rafah (the technically ‘last safe’ zone within Gaza)…now it’s a matter of time before this turns into a regional and then a global war. One that could have been avoided…but for some reason various politicians (along with military leaders & all their blind followers) have avoided ending…while they may say they don’t want a ‘war’…they truthfully don’t care…because their children, grandchildren, and children of those they know won’t be the ones fighting & dying in it…that they’ll leave to their ‘blind followers’.

If that above paragraph offended you…sit with those feelings…and realize that is how a huge percentage of the globe has felt since the occupiers started their latest attack on Gaza…killing men, women & children with total lack of empathy, compassion, or caring.

I’m going to try to continue to be productive throughout the day…trying to figure out my life…and the direction I want it to go in…one thought now is how can I become at least 85% self-sufficient (i.e. how to ensure that I’m not spending that much money on companies that are backing genocidal maniacs)? I know putting in a veggie garden is one way to do that…unfortunately we missed the peak planting season for quite a few veggies & fruits…but I can plan for next spring—write down the best times and so forth for planting lettuce, cabbage (probably purple), onions (would like to plant some red/purples along with the ‘normal’), carrots,  and then the usual tomatoes and peppers. 

As I’d mentioned previously (in several different posts—maybe?) one huge goal is to turn my bedroom into a mini studio apartment & to clean out the storage unit…possibly clean out the garage and attic while I’m at it…there is so much stuff that we don’t need (or use) that can be donated to habitat for humanity, sold/traded, or whatever…but it’s time to really figure out what my particular vision of minimalism/maximize—or maybe it should be called moderation??

I’m now going to try to look ahead to the Taurus new moon, and see what goals I can set for those few weeks. I’d love to wake up tomorrow (the morning of the new moon) to hear that countries have forced the occupiers into accepting the ceasefire agreement & that various political & military leaders have been arrested and are on their way to The Hague to stand trial for war crimes.

But…for now—happy, safe, loving thoughts, vibes, and prayers sent to everyone in the world that needs them—especially those with Gaza, the Congo, Sudan, along the Lebanon border, within Syria, Yemen, and any other place that is being targeted by people who want to exploit not only the resources but the people as well.

Namaste…

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