Category: Lifestyle Challenges

Meditation, Reading, & Long-term goal setting: Cancer Full Moon

There wasn’t actually a Cancer full moon last year—mainly because the Cancer full moon in 2020, happened shortly before the end of the year (it fell on Dec 29, 2020). Tonight (or possibly last night), marks the first full moon of 2022. It is also the smallest full moon of the year (or the first micro-full moon). This also means that the month is a little over half way over, and 2022 is officially off and running.

So, what are some questions that one can reflect on during this time? If one looks at the book: ‘Moonology: working with the magic of lunar cycles’ by Yasmin Boland, there are several questions, and they are:

Have I been insecure, clingy, and no fun this month?

Have I been coming at what I want sideways, instead of tackling it head-on?

Have I been sulky, moody, brooding, or manipulative? Hmmm?

Have I been secretive and possibly even a tad paranoid?

Have I had enough family time, or time with people who feel like family?

If I were to number the above questions one to five, I think that this year my answers would be:

  1. I haven’t really been insecure, clingy, or not fun this month. In terms of insecurity—I may be feeling a little insecure in my job search, and trying to start up a freelance business, but that is totally normal (plus I realized that my ‘biggest failure’ is playing it safe and not stepping outside my comfort zone). I’ve never really been a clingy type of person, and since we’re still in the middle of the pandemic—yes, I’m totally boring and I stay at home.
  2. I would probably say that this is a small yes—I’ve been working around the issue of job transition, setting up a freelance business, networking and everything else instead of tackling the various issues (goes back to what I realized my ‘biggest failure’ was).
  3. I don’t think I’ve been sulky or manipulative. Moody or brooding—sometimes yes I have been either of those things. We’re still in a pandemic, and I’m slowly getting tired of all the anti-science/anti-vaccine people that are prolonging the damn thing.
  4. I haven’t been paranoid, secretive—maybe. One thing I’ve realized is that going forward with the idea of launching a freelance business or even getting a remote/contract position—I need to link the blog/website to my professional profile on LinkedIn. Not that many people know that I’ve been running a blog for the past four and a half years—it isn’t something I’m ashamed of—but I didn’t share it with many only because I wasn’t wanting to deal with any potential negative comments and so forth.
  5. There is nothing but family time—we’re still in the middle of the pandemic. I’m still self-isolating, and the only people I’m around (without a mask) are family.

The Cancer full moon is also passing through my 9th house (or my ‘Big Picture’ zone). This is the time to deal with issues relating to travel, study, and so forth. There are two questions that you can ask yourself in regards to the 9th house and the Cancer full moon, and they are:

Have you been fussing too much over the details of your latest problems or tasks?

Is your life and mind expanding or narrowing?

If I were to number the above questions one and two, my answers would be as followed:

  1. Yes, I probably have been fussing too much over the details (I call it over-thinking, and analysis-paralysis) for various things. I’m currently trying to rework various things to start looking for remote writing positions. I’ve been overthinking looking for the job ads (to find key words and phrases), I’ve also been overthinking how to rewrite my resume (which has to be done, since now it is mesh-mash of things). One problem has been that I didn’t keep the greatest ‘record’ of achievements throughout the years, so I’m trying to pull them from my CV.
  2. I’m working on making sure that my life and mind are expanding. I’m slowly working on stretching my comfort, bounce (I added this zone in), and stretch zones while shrinking my risk and die zones.

There has been some improvement over the past twelve and a half months–I have a direction (possibly two) in terms of career that I’m thinking of pursuing (which is more than I can say really at the beginning of last year), I’ve acknowledge my burnout, and still work on improving (not slipping/falling back into it), and I’ve just been making baby steps forward.

I’m slowly working on trying to do more than just science things—as I remembered how much I’ve enjoyed history, geography, and other social sciences (not to mention art history and the humanities). I’m trying to remember to spend some time doing crafts (photography or maybe starting another cross-stitch project).

The goals for this full moon period are going to include:

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

Finally remember: Progress over Perfection, and You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one.

The combination of growth, creativity, and curiosity will lead to happiness and prosperity.

What are your plans for this first (and only) micro-super moon period?

No Comments AstrologycareerFull Moon GoalsHealthLifestyle ChallengesPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

Looking Back at 2021: I’m a bookworm. Now to plan for 2022 and beyond

While looking ahead to a ‘blank slate’ of 2022, I realized that I should also reflect on 2021 and the ups, down, hills, valleys, and everything in between. The post will probably seem a little bit ‘rambling’—but that is due to just writing what I’m thinking and not really organizing my thoughts beforehand.

We were still in the grip of the SARS-CoV2 pandemic during 2021. While there have been several vaccines approved (the Pfizer one received full approval from the FDA and CDC towards the end of the year), there is unfortunately still a good portion of the population that is refusing to get vaccinated.

Come early March, we will be entering year three of the pandemic—hopefully we’ll be seeing the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ by summer????

I’ve still been isolating at home (only leaving the house maybe a couple of times a week—one to get the paper on the weekends, then an occasional walk either at Boomer Lake with my camera or through the neighborhood with Chaos) for the most part this past year. Like everyone else, I would like for things to return to a ‘new normal’—but I also understand that it will take awhile for the ‘new normal’ to emerge and everyone to get on the same page.

I’m not planning on doing any type of travel this year (thanks omicron variant and anti-vaxxers), but hopefully maybe able to do a small trip sometime between 2023 and 2024.

Since the number of cases is still skyrocketing due to the omicron variant—I plan of trying to get my booster shot sometime within the next two weeks.

The only huge crisis we had this past year was with Rolex—when we took her to get an allergy shot, she developed the rare side effect of hemolytic anemia. So, the past few months have been a roller coaster as we try to help her overcome the anemia. So, far she’s had two blood transfusions and is on numerous medications—we’ll hopefully see if she can be weaned off of two of them entirely next month (I’m assuming one of the meds will be lowered again this month).

Chaos doesn’t care of strangers (which is both good and bad), so when I do have to take him into the vet—he has to be given meds to mellow him out. I’m hoping to possibly start taking him for longer walks (to where we might encounter other people) this coming spring.

In terms of my career—I think I’ve figured it ‘out’ (at least a little). I’m going to go in the direction of remote/contract/online science/medical communications/education with the end goal of creating my own freelance business (melding copywriting [medical/science communication/education, health/wellness, and personal/professional development] with blogging [hobbies, travels, and personal/professional development]). Therefore, the blog/website will be getting update throughout the year as I work my way in that direction.

I managed to land a ‘volunteer’ medical content writing position with a company in Canada during the summer—so I’m getting my ‘feet’ wet in the regards of summarizing scientific papers and other topics for the general public. In addition, I put in my application for a couple of freelance writing position and then a medical writers position—didn’t get any of them, but I was proud of the fact I went ahead and applied for each of them, being a total ‘newbie’ in the online medical writing world.

I’ve joined another accountability group—which is good, but since I’ve really ‘narrowed’ down what I want to do (remote/online writing and/or data analysis), I’m having problems finding the job postings. I’ll be working on those assignments, and giving updates throughout the next few months (which will include ‘linking the blog/website’ to my LinkedIn account).

Those were some of the highlights for the year, so how did 2021 go in general?

In terms of steps—I had a rough goal of at least 1,825,000 steps (breaking down to basically 5,000 steps per day). I managed to get 1,979,594 steps for the year, with the following monthly breakdown:

January:          159,685

February:        146,418

March:             197,430

April:              187,411

May:               187,855

June:               149,009

July:                140,686

August:           154,591

September:      157,114

October:          160,753

November:      168,476

December:       170,166

The months with the lowest number of steps happened to be during the summer, when it was a little too warm (or humid or both) to be outside walking either on my own or with my dog.

While I’d set the goal of completing nine workout programs throughout 2021—I managed to complete three, and then spent the rest of the year concentrating on more ‘intentional movements’ than fitness programs.

I also had set the goal of reading a minimum of 80 books (30 non-fiction and 50 fiction), and the actual total number of books that I read last year was a minimum of 127 books (12 non-fiction and at least 105 fiction). These included new and rereads (all of which were within the fiction category).

I met the goal of at least fifty fiction books (actually doubled it), and almost met half the goal of non-fiction books (thirty).

The non-fiction books I read during 2021 included:

  1. Secrets of Six-Figure Women: Surprising strategies to up your earnings and change your life by Barbara Stanny
  2. Badass Habits: Cultivate the awareness, boundaries, and daily upgrades you need to make them stick by Jen Sincero
  3. Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski
  4. The Joy of Missing Out: Live more by doing less by Tonya Dalton
  5. The Renaissance Soul: How to make your passions your life–A creative and practical guide by Margaret Lobensteine
  6. The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking
  7. Permission to Screw Up: How I Learned to Lead by Doing (almost) Everything Wrong by Kristen Hadeed
  8. The Financial Diet by Chelsea Fagan
  9. 25 Ways to work from Home by Jen Ruiz
  10. Write to Speak by Mike Acker
  11. I want to do all the things: finding balance as a polymath, multipotentialite, and renaissance soul by Arcadia Page
  12. The More of Less: Finding the life you want under everything you own by Joshua Becker

In terms of fiction books read during 2021 (new and re-reads), I managed to read (a minimum) of 105 fiction books, and they included:

  • Loved You Once (The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers #1) by Claudia Burgoa
  • A Moment Like You (The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers #2) by Claudia Burgoa
  • Defying Our Forever (The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers #3) by Claudia Burgoa
  • Call You Mine (The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers #4) by Claudia Burgoa
  • Blackout After Dark (Gansett Island #22) by Marie Force
  • Catalina (The Alders #10) by Avery Gale
  • I re-read the first nine books in the Alders series by Avery Gale
  • The Shadowdance Club (7 book series) by Avery Gale
  • Masters of the PrairieWind Club (11 book series–as of Feb 2021) by Avery Gale
  • Billionaire Unexpected–Jax (The Billionaire’s Obsessions #16) by J.S. Scott
  • Loving Arms (Slick Rock #30) by Becca Van
  • Reckless (Slick Rock #31) by Becca Van
  • Exception to the Rule (Beautifully Imperfect #7) by Becca Van
  • My One Night (On My Own #1) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  • State of Affairs (First Family #1) by Marie Force
  • Re-read the entire Fatal series (16 books) prior to State of Affairs coming out
  • Tempted by Love: Jack “Jock” Steele (The Steeles at Silver Island #1) by Melissa Foster
  • My True Love: Jules Steele (The Steeles at Silver Island #2) by Melissa Foster
  • Love Under Two Warriors (Lusty, Texas #42) by Cara Covington
  • Ride Out the Storm (SSI #6.5) by Monette Michaels
  • Wild and Loving (Slick Rock #32) by Becca Van
  • Royal Line (Tatter Royals #1) by Carrie Ann Ryan and Nana Malone
  • My Rebound (On My Own #2) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  • How Much I Love (Miami Nights #3) by Marie Force
  • As We Are (The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers #5) by Claudia Burgoa
  • A Scent of Magick (McKendrick Warlocks #3) by Rhyannon Byrd
  • Come Together (Butler VT #7) by Marie Force
  • Inked Obsession (Montgomery Ink: Fort Collins #2) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  • The Green Mountain Series (7 books) by Marie Force
  • First six books in the Butler VT series by Marie Force
  • Vortex: A FBI Thriller by Catherine Coulter
  • Wiretaps and Whiskers (The Faerie Files #1) by Emigh Cannaday
  • Catnip and Curses (The Faerie Files #2) by Emigh Cannaday
  • My Next Play (On My Own #3) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  • Breaking Badger (The Honey Badger Chronicles #4) by Shelly Laurenston
  • Yours to Keep (The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers #6) by Claudia Burgoa
  • Inked Kingdom by Carrie Ann Ryan
  • Inked Devotion (Montgomery Ink: Fort Collins #3) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  • Temptation after Dark (Gansett Island #23)
  • Finally You (Luna Harbor #1) by Claudia Burgoa
  • Enemy Heir (Tatter Royals #2) by Carrie Ann Ryan and Nana Malone
  • Mated in Darkness (Talon Pack #10) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  • Love Under Two Explorers (Lusty, Texas #43) by Cara Covington
  • My Bad Decisions (On My Own #4) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  • The Morgan Brothers (5 books) by Avery Gale
  • State of Grace (First Family #2) by Marie Force
  • Snow Dragon (Dragon Knights #16) by Bianca D’Arc
  • Gatekeeper (Dragon Knights #17) by Bianca D’Arc
  • Falling for Fallon (Masters of the Prairie Wind Club #12) by Avery Gale
  • Billionaire Unnoticed–Cooper (Billionaires Obsessions #17) by J.S. Scott

I’m pretty sure that there are probably another 20-30 books that I re-read during the year, but didn’t keep track of–what can I say, I’m a book worm and I would rather spend my evenings reading than watching TV.

While I had decided on doing a ‘no spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month’, the only month that I really succeed at it was January. I ‘slipped’ and spent more money throughout the year than I really should have. I’ve pledge to restart the challenge this year, and to do better than I did last year (not aiming for perfection—but aiming for progress).

While the goal for 2021 was to finish at least twenty e-courses, I managed to finish nine throughout the year. I’d found that if I managed to watch several in a month, I ‘took’ the next month (or two) ‘off’ (probably unintentionally—letting ‘Pam’ win an unspoken argument). The courses that I ‘watched’ and ‘completed’ included:

On Skillshare:

  1. Powerful storytelling today: strategies for crafting great content
  2. 3 ways often overlooked to get traffic to your blog
  3. Finding your inner creative
  4. Personal Branding: Your Copywriting Secret Sauce
  5. Create a simple digital marketing plan
  6. Crappy Copy: 8 digital copywriting mistakes you should avoid

Two Cheeky Scientist Association Advance Programs:

  1. Clinical Research Coalition
  2. Intellectual Property Pack

Then on Udemy:

  1. Understanding and developing Emotional Intelliegence

The goal for 2022 will be to at least double (if not triple) the number of e-courses that I watch/finish.

One big accomplishment I that managed to get done during 2021 was the creation and updating of my comfort/stretch/risk/die diagrams. The first one that I did in February/March was an ‘assignment’ from a coach, when it became obvious (to her) that I was struggling with figuring out what I wanted to do with my life.

Since that first one—I’ve modified it four times, adding in a ‘bounce zone’ between the comfort and the stretch zone, and have watched the comfort and stretch zones (along with the bounce zone) grow, and the risk zone shrink.

I also created a personal/professional board game as well to help me ‘figure’ things out—and I’ve discovered the ‘biggest’ drawback on the game is that everything is ‘open-ended’ (such as review immunology or review cell biology).

I managed to teach myself basic cross-stitching this past year, and even finished three abstract design pieces. I started to do a more ‘nature’ based piece, and will probably try to turn it ‘abstract’ as I didn’t like how the cacti were turning out. I managed to spend quite a bit of time over the year up at Boomer Lake with my camera (one thing I still need to do is curate and delete all the really dark and/or blurry pictures I’ve taken over the past few decades).

Overall, 2021 was an okay year—not great (I mean there is still the pandemic), but also not a totally horrible year either. I’ve made progress in terms of personal and professional development (while some may see the past two years as ‘unemployed’—I view them as investing in myself)—maybe not as much as I’d originally liked, but still managed to do quite a bit. I’ve decided the career direction I’d like to pursue (remote/contract/online science/medical communications/writing and possibly data analysis), with the long-term goal of creating my own freelance business.

Therefore, heading into 2022, I’ve decided that:

I’ll have an overall BINGO card for the year (similar to what I tried to do for 2021), in addition to having BINGO cards for non-fiction books, e-courses, and intentional movement.

If I read a non-fiction book or complete/watch an e-course that isn’t on either of the current BINGO cards—I’ll write them down to put on an additional BINGO card.

The goal is to have at least a single BINGO on each of the cards (Bonus to have a totally checked BINGO card), and to have at least one BINGO on the overall yearly BINGO card as well.

I will transition into a remote/contract/online science/medical communications position. To help achieve that goal—I’m aiming at writing and publishing at least six scientific blog posts/articles by the end of the year. Each will be a minimum of 1000 words and will probably cover different topics I find of interest (or sub-topics within a specific ‘niche’).

In addition, I’m planning on writing at least two small literature reviews (being somewhere between 1000 and 1500 words), on one or two science topics, in addition to the larger project I’ve had bouncing around in my head for the past year.

I will also finish updating/modifying the blog/website to showcase the addition of science/medical writing in addition to my pieces on personal/professional development, hobbies, and travels.

Overall, I plan on 2022 being the year of ‘change’ and ‘growth’—growing as a science communicator, changing/transitioning into a ‘new’ position, and also finding my online ‘tribe’.

How was your 2021, and what do you have planned for 2022?

No Comments Booksbullet journalcareerCraftsfinancesfitnessHealthLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesno spend challengesPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentReflectionsspiritualitytravelUpdatesYear in Review

Time to sit, plan, create bingo cards and workout

So the moon will be entering the Sagittarius constellation today, and its last ‘new moon’ phase for 2021. That means there are 27 days left in December and 2021. While there are now vaccines available for dealing with the SARS-CoV2 pandemic—various countries are hoarding them, companies are ‘protecting trade secrets’ and therefore we’re still in the middle of the damn pandemic. I’m hoping that by the end of 2022, we’re seeing the pandemic coming under control and everyone is finding a ‘new normal’.

So what are some of the things that one can do during the time of Sagittarius new moon?

Looking at the book “Moonology: working with the magic of lunar cycles” by Yasmin Boland, you can:

  1. Get away–travel
  2. Study
  3. Search for meaning
  4. Laugh
  5. Be grateful

Well, since we’re still in the middle of the pandemic—I’m not traveling anytime soon. Yes, I’m vaccinated (though I still need to go get my booster shot, and I wear a mask) but I’m not going to risk catching it and possibly dealing with long-term COVID symptoms.

In terms of ‘searching for meaning’—I’m viewing that as figuring out what I want to be doing with my life and where I would like to be in say fifteen to twenty years.

I’m starting to ‘study’ again—I have numerous different e-courses that I need to be working through.

With the moon entering into Sagittarius, this is also my second house or the “cash, property, and values” zone. Hopefully people will be getting their kids (if they’re over the age of five) vaccinated and getting the booster shots for themselves before having large family gathering this month for the holidays. I’m still not really in the ‘holiday’ spirit (at least in terms of wanting numerous gifts), but that could be due to the how the world is going, and the fact that I’m trying to start going for a more minimalist feel—but still cozy. I’d like to say that I’m moving within a year—but that probably is more like two to five depending on the pandemic and how I mange to transition into a remote/contract/freelance writing positions.

As I’ve mentioned before in numerous posts—I’m still slowly working towards a minimalistic lifestyle. The clothes still need to be sorted through, DVDs sold back that I don’t watch, and another desk and bookcase bought for organization—I decided that I’m going to try to separate the ‘work station’ from the ‘craft station’. Anyway, back to the second house—the cash, property, and value zone.

So some of the things that you can do during this time include (again, according to “Moonology: working with the magic of the lunar cycles”):

  1. Start a savings account
  2. Pay your bills, taxes, debt, etc
  3. Hire an accountant, if it’s all too much
  4. Showcase your talents
  5. Get a neck and shoulder massage
  6. Invest in an expensive neck cream

I have a saving account (though it isn’t as large as I would really like), and I’m paying my bills and debt (taxes currently aren’t an issue since I haven’t had a job for two years). Hiring an accountant isn’t in the cards right now (mainly because there isn’t a reason for it). I’m also trying to ‘showcase’ my talents by reworking the blog/website and leaning in the direction of remote/contract medical/science writing and freelance writing (coving medical/science education/communication as well as health/fitness, and personal/professional development).

I’m slowly trying to get back into a daily gratitude practice (something that I let lapse during November), and realize that compared to where I felt I was at early in 2020—I’ve come a long way.

So if I were to make a small goal list for the Sagittarius new moon period, the goals would include:

  1. Develop a ‘fluid’ daily/weekly schedule for getting various things done
  2. Set up a goal list/bingo card for 2022
  3. Pick the e-courses that I want to be working through over the next few months
  4. Continue with a combination of Morning Meltdown 100 and walking
  5. Setting up a dedicated work station, craft station, and a semi-dedicated meditation area in the bedoroom

While heading into the last few weeks of December, I realize that my inner critic/imposter syndrome is going to be trying to derail me (as it managed to do during November), and that will meaning sitting down and having a ‘discussion’ with myself on why I’m working against myself.

But I will also remind myself: ‘Progress over Perfection’, you’re starting the next chapter of your life, and to remember not to but too much weight on the opinions of others.

2021 didn’t go the way I’d been hoping (though there are vaccines now for the virus), but that just means that hopefully 2022 will be a little more joyous and prosperous.

What are you hoping to achieve in 2022?

No Comments AstrologycareerCraftsfinancesfitnessHealthLifestyle ChallengesNew Moon GoalsPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

E-books and e-games are the splurges of the month

So it is that time again—for a check-in on my yearlong limited spending challenge.

We’re now down to the last thirty days of 2021. I’m still working on hitting the stride that I did in January (which was the best month for the entire challenge so far this year).

My limited spending challenge is just that—I’m trying to limit my spending by dividing things into two groups (or categories): needed items and splurges.

So I did really well that first month, and then started slipping each month a little more. The ‘rebound’ I’d planned for the second half of the year, has been a so-so rebound. I’ve still splurged on things, and hopefully will be getting better at not ‘splurging’ as we head into 2022.

So how did November go in terms of the purchases/splurges?

In terms of physical items bought:

I only placed one ‘essential’ order towards the end of the month that included dog treats, face cleanser, body wash, and some other dog related items.

I totally splurged in terms of the number of e-books bought during November:

  1. The Cowboy SEAL’s secret baby (The Cowboy SEALs #1) by Janalyn Knight
  2. Ignite by Melanie Harlow
  3. The Fine Print (Dreamland Billionaires #1) by Lauren Asher
  4. Elemental Energy: Crystal and Gemstone Rituals for a Beautiful Life by Kristin Petrovich
  5. Crystal Muse: Everyday Rituals to Tune in to the Real You by Heather Askinosie & Timmi Jandro
  6. Contacting Your Spiritual Guide by Sylvia Browne
  7. Oona Goodlight Magic & Murder Mysteries (books 1-5) by Alexes Razevich
  8. Books 1 & 2 of the Rachel Emery Series by Deanna Lynn Sletten
  9. Kit Davenport: The Complete Series by Tate James
  10. Shadow Guild: Wolf Queen (books 1-5) by Linsey Hall
  11. Hayden Family (books 1-4) by Jennifer Millikin
  12. The Viper: A Broken Ridge Novel by Amanda McKinney
  13. Books 4 & 5 of the Tangled Crown series by Ann Denton
  14. Demon Valley Pack (Pretty Little Monster #1) by Avery Stone
  15. Whiskey Moon by Winter Renshaw
  16. The Mountain Mastery series by Avery Gale
  17. The Wolf Pack by Avery Gale
  18. Books 2 & 3 of the Knights of the Boardroom by Avery Gale
  19. Forbidden Honor (Dragon Royals #1) by May Dawson

And I continued to splurge on the silly game: Farmville 2: Country Escape

I think that I was splurging on e-books knowing that we’re headed into winter, and that means more time spent indoors. While I have numerous things that can keep me busy (working on my cross-stitching, working through e-courses, or just reading any of the other books I’ve bought this year)—I splurged on the books, just to have the ‘safety net’ of ‘new books’ to choose from.

There are a few personal development books (as I’m still working on figuring out my own spirituality path), but most are just fun reads that sounded interesting.

Splurging on the game has been due to it being a ‘escapism’ measure. When I don’t want to deal with things—I play the game and lose track of time. So, there you have it—I’m still an impulsive book buyer, and I’m spending way too many coins on the silly game.

As we go into December, there will probably be two or three ‘essential’ orders from amazon (mainly Christmas presents), and me keeping an eye on the game spending. While I haven’t had the same stride since January—I will be continuing the challenge going into 2022 and beyond. Also, I’m going to ‘restart’ the spreadsheet tracking for spending as well going forward.

Curious to know: What are some of your favorite tracking methods for spending money?

No Comments financesLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesno spend challengesReflections

Acknowledging the slips in progress is progress: November in Review

There are now only thirty days left in 2021 (after today). The summer seemed to have flown by, and fall is seemingly racing into winter. While I would like to say that November was better than October—it was in some ways, and worse in others.

One ‘holiday’ down (though other than the fact that we had a turkey and various sides for dinners—we treated Thanksgiving like a ‘normal’ long weekend), and one more to go (for us, that will be Christmas), but Happy Holidays for everyone who celebrates a holiday over the next month or more.

I really don’t care for the holidays (especially Thanksgiving), so I just try to treat each day like a ‘disrupted’ day (realizing that I may not get everything done that I wanted to, since more people may be around).

I haven’t decided when I’m going to head off to get my booster (I wear a mask when I go into stores and even when I walk around Boomer Lake), but it will be done at some point this winter.

I’m still staying away from the media as much as possible this fall/winter—mainly because I’m trying to control my stress/anxiety levels and focus on figuring out what to start writing about to showcase as part of a portfolio for freelance/remote/contract work. In terms of the total number of cases of the virus in the US, when I published ‘October in Review’, I noted that the US was a little over 46.8 million cases for the SARS-CoV2 virus, and now we’re at a little over 49.4 million cases (so we had just a little over 2.8 million cases last month; the numbers are still going up, and that could be due to the newest variant (omicron) that has been found to be various countries around the world—and it may or may not be able to get around the vaccines). So please—get vaccinated, get your kids vaccinated, and when you’re able to get the booster shot. (End rant)

So, the only age group that currently isn’t eligible for the vaccine is kids under the age of five (and the clinical trials are starting for that group soon—I think, they’re trying to enroll kids in the first phase currently).

I didn’t get much done in terms of ‘reorganization’ of the blog/website this past month. I also didn’t get that much written either. While I’d like to blame it on ‘writers block’—the truth is that I let the imposter syndrome/inner critic derail me, in part due to the change in time (I hate when we have to reset the clocks), and the fact that it is suppose to be getting cooler (meaning less days outside)—but we’ve been having nice weather, so I’ve been outside soaking up the sun.

But before jumping into December, I need to look back at the goals I set for November and see how I did with each of them.

The goals for November included:

  1. 130-150,000 steps
  2. Restart Morning Meltdown 100
  3. Work through the LinkedIn Mastery Ring program from the Cheeky Scientist Association; plus continue working on the wriing assignments for the MWO (and finish the sixth module)
  4. Read at least one non-fiction book
  5. Read two to four fiction books (have small book reviews written and published on the blog and other sites)
  6. No spend days/no spend/weeks/limited spending month
  7. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, and daily gratitude journal entries
  8. Craft time (finish the fourth cross-stitch project)
  9. Continue working on updating the blog/website
  10. Work through at least one other personal/professional development course

So how did I do with each of them?

  1. In terms of hitting somewhere between 130-150,000 steps, I managed to get 168,476 steps during the month. I managed a weekly walk (usually on the weekend) up at Boomer Lake, plus took Chaos for a couple of walks through the neighborhood.
  2. I’ve started my second round of Morning Meltdown 100, and probably should finish it around March 8 of next year.
  3. I’ve only managed to work through the first module of the LinkedIn Mastery Ring program. I just didn’t feel like sitting aroudn and doing any computer work this past month.
  4. There wasn’t much reading this month either.
  5. I did manage to read two fiction books (though I’m not sure if I got small book reviews written or not):
    • Enemy Heir (Tatter Royals #2) by Carrie Ann Ryan & Nana Malone
    • Mated in Darkness (Talon Pack #10) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  6. I will be covering my spending in the next installment of my limited spending check-in, but can say that November was not a good month in terms of limited spending.
  7. I managed to spend quite a bit of time outdoors this month, and found time to sit quietly as well. In terms of meditation at the end fo the day and writing in the journal–not so much.
  8. I’m still working on finishing the fourth cross-stitch project, and realized that I’m happier when doing abstract/no real design projects. The fourth one was suppose to be a nature inspired project (I was aiming for trying to do different cacti and making it semi-desert like), but while there may be two ‘cacti’ on it, the rest will be abstract in order to finish it.
  9. As I mentioned in my introduction, I didn’t spend much time on the computer or updating/revising the blog this past month. I unintentionally allowed my inner critic/imposter syndrome to derail my ‘schedule for the month’.
  10. Nope, again—I allowed my inner critic/imposter syndrome to derail me this past month in terms of really doing anything on the computer.

When we enter the month of November, it means shorter days (damn you time change), and usually cooler weather. We have been having cooler weather, but also stretch of ‘nice’ days when I feel like sitting outside more than I feel like being on the computer. Also, this past month I just didn’t feel like really doing anything—in part due to the time/weather change, but also because I unintentionally allowed my inner critic/imposter syndrome to derail me.

I have an assessment test early in December with a medical communications company, and if it goes well—a zoom interview possibly after the beginning of the New Year, and I’m thinking of putting in my application for another medical writing position as well. While I am slowly working towards creating a freelance writing business, I’m also willing to start out working remotely for a company as well (besides getting my foot in the door, a steady paycheck, I’d also be building relationships with possible future customers).

I’m now ‘developing’ my interior decorator, as I’m in the process of creating an ‘all-in-one’ room (since I live at home with my parents, and I usually tend to stay back in my bedroom for most of the day)—my room will have the ‘work’ area, the ‘craft’ area, the workout area, the meditation area, and the ‘sleep’ area.

Some will probably flow into each other and the workout area will be ‘picked’ up daily (need to find the best spot for the dumb bells), but by doing this—I’ll be more attuned to living in a small space that isn’t cluttered (this is also an exercise in minimalism as well).

So, while I didn’t meet many goals (basically only the step goal and one of the reading goals), I wasn’t ‘stagnant’—I was moving in the proper direction, just through some very ‘stagnant, negative-energy filled thoughts’. December is here, and in addition to ending the year on a ‘strong’ note—it also means planning out for 2022 and beyond, so that I can transition into a medical writing position, and then within a few years have a full time freelance writing business up and going.

The goals for December shall include:

  1. 130-155,000 steps
  2. Continuing with my second round of Morning Meltdown 100
  3. Setting up my ‘master’ plan for 2022 to 2025
  4. Read at least one non-fiction book
  5. Read two to four fiction books (and have small book reviews written and published on the blog and other sites)
  6. No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending months
  7. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, and daily gratitude journal entries
  8. Craft time (finish the fourth cross-stitch project)
  9. Continue working on updating the blog/website
  10. Work through at least one module of a personal/professional development course

The goals are similar to past months, mainly because I felt like I’ve slid a little during November, and by keeping the same goals—I could possibly achieve them.

Since I’ve realized that I let my inner critic/imposter syndrome win a large fight (one I wasn’t even aware of)—I’ve realized that I need to check in with myself when I find myself doing things that aren’t edging towards goals but instead running away from them.

Some people say that you should name your inner critic/imposter syndrome and when you feel like they’re sneaking up and pulling in the wrong direction, you call them out and ‘have a chat’. I’ve been leaning towards naming mine Pam (as it isn’t someone I talk with or know, I wouldn’t feel bad about having a hard ‘heart-to-heart’ with her when needed).

In order to make progress towards the remote science/medical writing position and starting a freelance business, I need to be able to stick to my goals. Those goals are going to ‘scare Pam’ for a while, but as long as I can talk her into continuing moving forward we should be okay.

Have you named your inner critic/imposter syndrome?

No Comments careerCraftsfinancesfitnessHealthLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesMonth in Reviewno spend challengesPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflectionsspiritualityUpdates

Using the comfort diagram to expand one of the niches

It’s been roughly nine months since I was ‘assigned’ my first comfort diagram to draw.

Original Comfort Diagram

Over the past nine months (and truthfully, longer than that–I’d say the past five to six years), I’ve been doing quite a bit of personal reflection/self-assessment to try to figure out what it is I want to be doing with my life.

Research at the bench will always hold a special place–it was my longest ‘running’ job: undergraduate lab tech, graduate student, two-postdoctoral positions, and two staff scientist positions.

It just isn’t want I want to be doing with the rest of my life–maybe due to burnout, boredom, growing tired of funding issues, or a combination of all of the above.

The past year and half since the pandemic start has been a reflection and recovery period.

Latest Comfort Diagram

I’m slowly rediscovering my love of learning, doing crafts, thinking outside the box, and not rushing around constantly.

The second comfort diagram has come a long way from the first.

The bounce zone was added, things have been moved around, other things have been added (intuitive eating and interior design for example), and the comfort, bounce, and stretch zones have all grown–while the risk zone is slowly shrinking.

I’ve explored several different job directions over the past year (medical writing, data analysis, clinical research, and intellectual property), and while all are interesting–I also realize that I need to select one (or two) directions to focus on to begin with.

I’ve decided to focus on science/medical writing/communication to begin with, knowing that it can cover clinical research (and possibly even intellectual property), and I can always add in data analysis at some point.

I also know that I should be trying to focus on one or two areas in terms of my ‘expertise’ in science/medical writing/communications. Truth, be told–I’m finding it more difficult to decide on these two areas, than I did on trying to narrow down what type of industry positions I wanted to initially investigate.

Mind-mapping is a wonderful tool, especially when trying to see how things fit together.

My ‘what interests’ me in science mind-map

As I was drawing the mind map, I felt like most items could branch off of either molecular biology or cellular biology. I also felt like those two areas were connected by the ‘central dogma of biology’.

I have expertise in several areas of molecular biology: molecular cloning, recombinant protein expression and purification, sequencing, and construction of libraries for high-throughput sequencing.

Luckily, I know that I can add or switch my ‘focus’ area as I progress as a science/medical writer–meaning I don’t have to strictly write about microbiology or botany forever.

Therefore, I will probably start with the ‘expertise’ areas (if nothing else–I’m thinking of creating longer posts or a self-published short e-book giving troubleshooting tips for one or more of the topics), and possibly pick areas of oncology and neuroscience to begin with.

These two subject areas will still allow me to look at the cell cycle, signal transduction pathways, epigenetics, metabolism, and even the ‘program’ cell death pathways as well.

Though within oncology, I may need to narrow the field and decide which cancer(s) I’m going to focus on (since there are literally over fifty different ‘types’ of cancers). Neuroscience and its related diseases are smaller in number compared to cancer.

What question(s) do you have in regards to oncology (the study of cancers) or neuroscience, that you would like me to answer in a future post?

No Comments careerHealthLifestyle ChallengesPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflectionsspiritualityUpdates

Review of the start of the fourth quarter.

There are now only sixty days left in 2021. The summer seemed to have flown by, and fall is seemingly racing into winter. October became a whirlwind of issues—spotty Wi-Fi (a decade old+ router and modem are going to be getting replaced hopefully sometime early November), vet appointments, and just general craziness.

We’re also heading into the holiday season, which means for most people—even more craziness. Luckily, we’re fairly low-key for the holidays (mainly Thanksgiving and Christmas). Everyone may get a single present at Christmas, and turkey day is treated like almost any other day (with the exception of snacks being laid out).

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine was approved for boosters—so at some point, I’ll be heading to a pharmacy (or possibly waiting for another city-wide clinic) to get my booster (and possibly flu vaccine). Though, I’ll still be self-isolating through the winter and early spring.

I’m still staying away from the media as much as possible this fall/winter—mainly because I’m trying to control my stress/anxiety levels and focus on figuring out what to start writing about to showcase as part of a portfolio for freelance/remote/contract work. In terms of the total number of cases of the virus in the US, when I published ‘September in Review’, I noted that the US was a little over 44.3 million cases for the SARS-CoV2 virus, and now we’re at a little over 46.8 million cases (so we had just a little over 2.5 million cases last month; the numbers are slowly starting—that could be due in part to companies starting to mandate vaccines for workers. The Pfizer vaccine was approved for kids five to eleven, so hopefully things are going to start leveling out, and we’ll be at less than 50,000 cases per month).

So, the only age group that currently isn’t eligible for the vaccine is kids under the age of five (and I’m not sure if that clinical study is going on or not). But everyone else is eligible for the shot—so please, if you want things to be somewhat ‘normal’, get the damn shot (and booster), and if you have kids over the age of five—get them vaccinated. (End rant)

Since I was having Wi-Fi issues throughout last month, I’m still working on finishing up the ‘reorganization’ of the pages/tabs for the website. In terms of the ‘photography’ section—it currently all resides under ‘birding photography’, with all ‘non-bird’ photography launching off of the ‘everything else photography’ page at the bottom of the ‘bird photography’ section.

For the other three ‘areas’ (science/medical education and communication; personal/professional development, and health and wellness), I’m going to be putting examples of ‘large’ and ‘small’ projects in the sections, but also then doing blog series—but haven’t decided on the frequency for each area. This will also be still interspersed with the other topics (crafts, photography, travel, book reviews, and so forth) that I’ve been doing for the past couple of years.

But before jumping into November (and lets not forget that if you’re in the US—this coming weekend, set the clocks back an hour), I need to look back at the goals I set for October and see how I did with each of them.

The goals for October included:

  1. 130-155,000 steps
  2. Starting my second round of Morning Meltdown 100
  3. Working on the writing/editing assignments for the MWO and finishing the sixth module
  4. Reading one to two non-fiction books
  5. Reading two to five fiction books (and having small book reviews written and published on the blog and other sites)
  6. No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month
  7. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, and daily gratitude journal entries
  8. Craft time (finish the third cross-stitch project; possibly start a fourth or maybe make some jewelry)
  9. Work on updating the blog/website
  10. Work through at least one personal/professional development course

So how did I do with each of them?

  1. 130-155,000 steps; I managed to meet and slightly surpass the step goal. I managed to get 160,753 steps for the month. There were two walks at Boomer Lake, and a couple of walks through the neighborhood with Chaos.
  2. Start my second round of morning meltdown 100—I started the program, but until we get the Wi-Fi issue taken care of, I’m probably putting the program on ‘hold’ and restarting it once we have reliable Wi-Fi (as there is nothing worse than a constantly buffering workout).
  3. Work on the writing/editing assignments for the MWO and finish the sixth module; While I’m slowly working on the assignments, I didn’t finish the sixth module yet, because of said Wi-Fi issues.
  4. Reading one-to-two non-fiction books; While I’ve been reading, I haven’t finished any non-fiction books
  5. Reading two-to-five fiction books; I managed to read the following during the month of October:
    • Inked Kingdom by Carrie Ann Ryan (book review published on the blog and various other sites)
    • Inked Devotion (Montgomery Ink: Fort Collins #3) by Carrie Ann Ryan (book review published on the blog and other various sites)
    • Temptation after Dark (Gansett Island #24) by Marie Force (book review hopefully coming within the next week to the blog and various other sites)
  6. No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month–I did okay, and the spending will once again be broken down in my next installment of my limited spending challenge check-in
  7. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, and daily gratitude journal entries; There was time spent outdoors, though as the temperatures slowly start easing down into the winter range (highs only in the 30s-50s), I probably won’t be out for long extended periods of time. I’ve been doing well with at least sitting quietly for a few minutes every night, and the daily gratitude journal entries.
  8. Craft time (finish the third cross-stitch project; possibly start a fourth or maybe make some jewelry); I finished my third cross-stitch project early in the month and have started a fourth. The fourth one isn’t finished yet, because instead of going with a totally abstract design—I’m trying a slightly abstract but nature based design (hopefully finish it up during November).
  9. Work on updating the blog/website; So this is something that was slightly ‘stagnant’ during October. The main reason—our Wi-Fi has been problematic (putting it nicely), and I’ve been staying off the computer more often than not. I have a rough outline for a science topic (‘troubleshooting tips for molecular cloning’) drafted, and I’m slowly deciding on how to break it down into a blog series, though the larger full-length piece will be linked to the science/medical education/communication section when it is finished.For the other two areas (personal/professional development and health/wellness) I’m still thinking on what the one or two subtopics that I want to start with are going to be.
  10. Work through at least one personal/professional development course. I watched the short skill share course: Crappy Copy: 8 digital copywriting mistakes you should avoid

While I put in my ‘application’ for another freelance writing position with the one company that I’m doing ‘volunteer’ writing for—I wasn’t selected (possibly due to my pricing). I think that they had a price and if you overshoot it, you’re taken out of the running (there doesn’t seem to be any type of negotiation for cost).

I’ve created a rough draft of an outline for one writing project I’ve been thinking of trying to tackle (troubleshooting tips for molecular cloning), and now need to figure out the timeline for posting (I’m thinking that each section may be at least one-to-two blog posts). I’m then going to work on the timelines/outlines for the other personal ‘writing’ projects that I have bouncing around in my head.

While I’d hoped that October was going to be a little more smooth sailing than September, and it was on one front (the one dog is at least ‘stable’ in terms of her anemia), it became hectic due to sporadic Wi-Fi issues. Therefore, I didn’t focus nearly as much as I should have on the professional front.

So, as we head into the last two months of 2021 and then into 2022, I hope that people will get their kids their SARS-CoV2 vaccine (and get it themselves if need be), if they’ve gotten their vaccine—when it’s their turn, go and get their booster shot. We’re heading into the second year of this pandemic—and my hope is that by the end of 2022, it may just be ‘epidemic’ (sporadically at that) in various countries in 2023 and beyond.

So my goals for November will include:

  1. 130-150,000 steps
  2. Restart Morning Meltdown 100 (hopefully a new modem/router will help with the ‘buffering’ issues)
  3. Work through the LinkedIn Mastery Ring program from the Cheeky Scientist Association; plus continue working on the writing assignments for the MWO (and finish the sixth module)
  4. Read at least one non-fiction book
  5. Read two to four fiction books (have small book reviews written and published on the blog and other sites)
  6. No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month
  7. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, and daily gratitude journal entries
  8. Craft time (finish the fourth cross-stitch project)
  9. Continue working on updating the blog/website (hopefully start at least one blog series and/or have a medium size piece linked to one [if not all three] main areas)
  10. Work through at least one other personal/professional development course

With cooler weather approaching, there will be more time spent indoors. Which means more time for crafts, reading (though this usually has never been a problem even with warmer weather), and dedicating time to both on-line learning and work. I shouldn’t have been surprised to discover that the age of our modem and router have been part of our problem (we tend to use things until they ‘die’) and both the router and modem are at least fourteen years old. Shock of all shocks—was learning that technically people replace them every two-to-five years.

The modem and router have been replaced (now just need to get the phone problem fixed), so I should hopefully be able to be doing more computer work without losing my temper. I’ve also realized that once I move, I will be needing to get a desktop computer—so I’ll have a ‘hub’ for the WiFi (though I didn’t do that in Boston—but I forgot what I’d done out there for this issue).

It is also becoming the season of sipping hot chocolate in front of the fire place, starting a new knitting project (though that will require the purchase of yarn), and slowly counting down the days until it both warms back up and stays light longer.

Which season do you prefer—spring, summer, fall, or winter?

No Comments BookscareerCraftsfinancesfitnessHealthLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesMonth in Reviewno spend challengesPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentReflectionsspirituality

Time management plus planning, and more planning: Aries Full Moon Goals

So the moon will be entering its eleventh full moon cycle for the year tonight (or possibly tomorrow night or even last night—depending on where you are in the world). This means there are only eleven days left in October, and then only sixty-one days (two months) left in 2021. Considering how ‘bouncy’ this year has been—I’m leering to see what 2022 is going to be bringing.

So the moon will be moving through the Aries constellation—which means that astrologically we’re ‘starting a new year’ since Aries is the start of the Zodiac calendar. It is the time to reassess, redesign, toss, and make new goals if one is inclined.

So what are some of the questions we can reflect on during this time?

            Have I been hotheaded, selfish, or argumentative this month?

            Have I been going too fast or been impulsive this month?

            Have I been brash, blunt, or too competitive?

            Have I ignored other people’s finer sensibilities?

            Have I had enough fun?

So, if I numbered the above questions one to five, my answers would be as followed:

  1. I don’t think that I’ve been hotheaded, selfish, or argumentative this month. We’re still dealing with the pandemic—which means that for the most part, the only people I’m around on a continuous basis is family. I try to stay out of any and all ‘arguments’ on-line pertaining to anything related to science, politics, or just general life. The main reason is to protect my health (specifically my mental health).
  2. I don’t think I’ve been going to fast or being overly impulsive this month. While I have decided to go in the direction of freelance/remote/contract writing—I’m doing it at a slower pace, only to ensure that I don’t work myself to the point of almost having another mental breakdown.
  3. One thing I’ve realized over the past few months—there really is no need to be overly competitive with other people. You can be overly competitive with yourself (a nice way of pushing yourself to reach for the goals)—but there is enough success to go around for everyone. Since I’ve been self-isolating for the past eighteen months, I’ve been trying not to be as brash and blunt with people (unless we’re talking about how vaccines are good and they can help get us out of the pandemic—then yes, I will be as brash and blunt as needed).
  4. Again, I don’t think I’ve been ignoring people’s finer sensibilities—I actually think that it would be nice if people would start expressing a little empathy towards each other. There has been one thing that people keep saying is essential for moving forward with any career these days and that is emotional intelligence. One aspect of emotional intelligence is empathy—being able to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. That is something I think a good portion of the world needs to work on—developing (or expressing) empathy. I understand that the past eighteen plus months has been difficult for everyone—but if people sat at home like they were told last summer, we wouldn’t have as many deaths from the virus, and we’d be a lot closer to being done with the pandemic. Now, we’re just trying to stay one step ahead of the damn virus.
  5. I looked back at what I wrote for the Aries full moon last year (which occurred at the beginning of October)—the US only had a little over 7.4 million cases (now, we’re at just under 46 million—that means we’ve had basically 38.5 million more cases of the virus over the past year). We’ve surpassed the death total from the Spanish flu pandemic. Therefore, I’m still working on ways of adding ‘enjoyment’ into my day-to-day routine.

Looking back at what I wrote last year—while I stated that I’m ‘happier observing than participating’—that doesn’t really mean ‘wallflower’—it could also mean that I’d do well in consulting positions (where one needs to ‘observe’ to figure out the problem and brainstorm potential solutions). I’m still working on networking more—I’ve been ‘slow’ only because I’m trying to also be ‘focused’ and network in directions that I think I’d be interested in pursuing at some point in the future.

Aries is moves through my sixth house (or my daily work and health zone). This house is where we can sit and reflect on who we are (both in terms of professional/work and personal/health) and decide to work on those aspects that we don’t like.

Last year I had made the ‘commitment’ to push play daily on streaming workouts. This year—I’ve made the commitment to intentional movement. That is where I move around at least five minutes a day, and acknowledge the fact that housework can also be considered a ‘workout’. I’m slowly readjusting my relationship with not only food but movement as well. I’d also decided I’d renew my Beachbody-on-demand subscription at least one more year, and do some of those programs—but mixed in with other intentional movements. Therefore, I’m not going to beat myself up if I ‘miss’ a Beachbody workout—usually those days will either be recovery, or I’d decided to be outside doing some yard work or going for a walk.

This time last year, I stated that I didn’t feel like I was close to where I wanted to be in terms of my reboot break and transitioning into industry. I stated that part of the problem was the pandemic—but the larger part (and it was the part I was ignoring) was I still ignoring the fact I was burned out on everything.

I’m slowing coming to terms with the burn out, and figuring out ways of dealing with various warning signs of burnout—that way once I start really moving forward in terms of freelance/remote/contract writing/consulting/data analysis, I’ll be able to acknowledge and work through the warning signs instead of blindly ignoring them and almost hitting that ‘brick wall’.

While I know most people mean well with advice and everything—I’m also going to be trying to stay in my lane and only seek advice when I really need it. I have an good idea of what I need to be doing in terms of heading in the ‘freelance/remote/contract’ direction, and now it is a matter of realistically dividing those larger goals into more manageable goals—and not throw everything on the plate.

Last year I had the goals of continuous personal/professional development, reviewing/editing/reassembling my 150+ goal list, and writing/posting ‘notes’ to myself as a remind of when I felt I could check email/social media.

This year, my goals for the Aries full moon will include:

Better time management, by doing the following:

  1. Making use of the Self-Control App again. This is a time management app that allows you to block access to certain websites for a specific amount of time. I have it block me from social media (Facebook & Instagram) and the news.
  2. Put my phone on airplane mode for a set amount of time (particularly when I’m trying to do computer work [research/writing or working through an e-course), so that I can’t randomly check social media. Also have it set across the room.
  3. Have the kindle off and charging (again across the room). This way I won’t be tempted to read or play games.

Personal/professional development is a never-ending journey. Therefore, I will specify that I will work through the rest of the 30-day hand copy challenge from the write your way to freedom course, and hopefully also watch at least two-to-three other videos in at least one other personal/professional development course that I’ve bought over the years.

Finally, try to draft the ‘master plan’ that includes reworking the blog/website (for the remote/freelance/contract writing), hobbies, personal/professional development, and life in general.

The main ‘note’ that I will be posting on my laptop will be: ‘Progress over Perfection”

I’ve more or less stopped reading the last chapter of my life, so I’m slowly working on writing the next one (possibly with the bad habit of trying to ‘edit’ as I write).

What small steps are you going to take towards a personal/professional goal during this full moon period?

No Comments AstrologycareerFull Moon GoalsHealthLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentReflections

As it starts to get colder: more time for the computer work (review and looking ahead)

Well, we’re almost halfway through October—that means there are only 79 days left in 2021. I’ve been reflecting over the past two weeks on the goals that I set for the third quarter of the year (or as I was also referring to as—my second attempt at a 12-week year).

I’d mentioned in a post over the summer that I was combining the ideas of two books together and using those as ‘stepping-stones’ for goals in different areas. The ideas that I’m combining are ‘choosing focal points (or specific areas)’ to focus on (‘The Renaissance Soul: How to Make Your Passions Your Life—A Creative and Practical Guide’ by Margaret Lobenstine), and the goal setting method from ‘The 12-Week Year: Get more done in 12 weeks than others do in 12 months’ by Brain Moran and Michael Lennington.

The four areas that I’ve decided that I’m currently focusing on are: professional development, personal development, health, and hobbies. The plan is to blend them together enough that I’ve created a career that is semi-location independent, and is focused on freelance/remote/contract writing/blogging with the possibility of adding in data analysis and/or consulting in the future.

The one thing that I’m still working on is figuring out how to divide the goals that I pick for the each month into weekly and then daily goals.

I’ve usually been trying to set four to five goals per focal area, with the possibility that one or two may have several ‘sub’ goals associated with them.

Instead of listing out every single goal that I set for the summer, I’m going to summarize the areas instead.

In terms of professional development, I had the lofty goals of completing at least two Cheeky Scientist advanced programs, learning python (coding), working through another three small e-courses on Udemy, and continuing to read/share science news and network on LinkedIn.

In terms of personal development, the lofty goals included refreshing Spanish, reading at least one (or two) non-fiction books a month, working through even more e-courses on different sites, and coming up with my own vision of minimalism and how I was going to diversify my income.

In terms of health, I was planning on continuing with BOD workouts (LIIFT4 and then Morning Meltdown 100), meditation, gratitude entries in the journal, oracle card drawings, working through a couple of courses, and trying to find new recipes to try at dinner.

In terms of my hobbies: at least one nature walk with the camera at Boomer Lake, reading, working on a cross-stitch project (or making some jewelry), and then again working through more e-courses.

So how did I do with my various goals?

In terms of professional development:

I’ve been fairly good at reading and sharing new on LinkedIn and twitter (I try to share at least one post Monday to Friday), and I’m working networking more and adding value to connections on LinkedIn.

In terms of the various programs, courses, and programming—I didn’t really get to any of them. Though I have most of the editing assignments for the Medical Writers Organization done—I just need to work on the writing assignments, plus finish up the sixth module.

I would say that I managed two out of the five professional development goals (so forty percent completed).

In terms of personal development:

I think I’ve managed to read possibly two non-fiction books over the past three months, I’m slowly working on my vision of minimalism (I need to go through the clothes and DVDs in the bedroom—and then tackle everything in the storage unit), and I’m slowly working on the ideas for generating varied income sources.

Again, the computer work hasn’t been completed.

Therefore, I probably managed another two out of the five goals (so another forty percent completed)

In terms of health:

I managed about 26 days of the oracle card sharing challenge. While I enjoyed it in the beginning, it was starting to become more of a ‘chore’ and I wasn’t getting that many interactions on the posts. I will probably share a reading here and there on Instagram, but probably won’t be daily.

With having messed up my wrist mid-June/early-July, I’ve been giving it time to heal, so I really haven’t been doing anything that requires lifting weights. I will be trying to start a second round of Morning Meltdown 100 during the fourth quarter of 2021, knowing that it will run into the first quarter of 2022.

I’ve been good with my evening meditations and daily gratitude entries in the journal. I’ve done a little over half of the explicit tarot course, and in terms of cooking—I couldn’t find any recipes that appealed to me this quarter.

I would say that I managed about half of the health goals for the third quarter.

The best area was hobbies:

I managed a walk every month at Boomer Lake with my camera, I read at least two or three fiction books a month, and I finished two cross-stitch projects and started a third. The only goal that I didn’t really touch was the one in regards to the e-courses.

Therefore, I would say that I managed three of the four goals (or seventy-five percent) for hobbies.

Overall, I would say that I managed to reach fifty percent of all the goals (and sub-goals) that I set for the third quarter.

There are several reasons why I only managed to meet half of the goals:

September was spent dealing with an ill dog and not knowing the outcome/prognosis. While we now know the prognosis, it may still be touch and go—especially when she starts to get weaned off the medication.

I also quit doing my weekly to-be accomplished lists in September (see above about the ill dog), and the daily to-be accomplished lists in August. The reason why I quit writing these out—I let the inner critic/imposter syndrome win a fight. I’m slowly working on getting back into the habit of doing both of these (slightly better with the weekly to-be accomplished lists).

Finally, when the weather is fairly nice—I’d rather be sitting outside enjoying the weather and possibly reading or journaling than being inside and working on the computer. I know that this is something that I need to work on improving (time/project management) as we move into the fall/winter months when more time will be spent indoors than outdoors.

So what are my goals for the four different areas moving into the fourth and final quarter of 2021?

Professional Development (This area is focused heavily on computer work):

  1. Finish at least two of the following Cheeky Scientist advanced programs:
    • Medical Writers Organization
    • User Experience Squad
    • Regulatory Affairs Council
    • Business Development Federation
  2. Finish the following short courses:
    • 15 errors in scientific writing and how to correct them on Udemy
    • How to become a freelance editor on Udemy
    • How to become a freelance writer on Skill Success
  3. Read and share science (and other news) on LinkedIn and Twitter
  4. Network and add value on LinkedIn
  5. (Bonus):
    • Finish Write Your Way to Freedom course
    • Finish Writing Patient Materials course

Personal Development (A third to half of the work will be computer based):

  1. Read one-to-two non-fiction books/month
  2. Draft ideas on how to implement diversification of income streams
  3. Work through the following short courses:
    • How to work for yourself on Udemy
    • Complete personal finance course on Udemy
    • Freelance writing 101: build a successful career on Skill Share
    • Content Marketing: Blogging for Growth on Skill Share

Health (Possibly a third to half could be computer based):

  1. Start a second round of Morning Meltdown 100
  2. Daily mediation and work through the course: Mindfulness for Anxiety on Udemy
  3. Daily gratitude journal entries
  4. Daily oracle card drawings and finish the course: explicit tarot: learning tarot through storytelling on Udemy

Hobbies (possibly a quarter could be computer based):

  1. At least one walk per month at Boomer Lake with camera
  2. Read two-to-three fiction books per month
  3. Finish the third cross-stitch project, possibly start a fourth or design/create some jewelry
  4. Work through the following courses:
    • How to start a creative business through blogging for beginners on Skill Share
    • Modern copywriting on Stack Skills

There are still quite a few e-courses that I’m hoping to finish before the end of the year—I may or may not get through all of them, but I’m hoping to have worked through at least one in each area (bonus points if I can finish all the e-courses under a specific focal point).

I mentioned in my October New Moon Goals—that I was going to be trying to face one ‘big’ fear during the next phase/month. I decided that the fear is starting my freelance/remote/contract writing business. Therefore I’m probably going to focus a little more on the courses that deal with that topic (which all but the two under health). The name of the blog (a little bit of this, a little bit of that) will probably stay the same—I may just change the website address (all depends as I work my way through the various courses).

This also means that I may having more posts written in a specific area (such as science/medical education/communication), but at the same time keeping other posts coming throughout the month (such as book reviews, photography, and crafts).

I realize that getting things up and running will take time (especially when it comes to marketing my business, billing, and creating/sticking with a editorial schedule)—but I currently have the time to do this, so I’m going for it: the overall goal is to reach at least fifty-percent in each area and an overall all progress rate of seventy-five percent for the last quarter of 2021.

Do you use the 12-week method for planning? Best tips? Or is there another method you like?

No Comments bullet journalcareerCraftsLifestyle ChallengesPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentReflectionsUpdates

Libra New Moon: Focusing on the self-care

So we’re going to be entering the next new moon phase this week—for those within the US, it will be today—Wednesday October 6th; for others it could on the 6th or it could be on the 7th. This means that there are only 87 days left in 2021. It seems that time is starting to ‘pick back up’ after ‘dragging’ last year.

With the moon moving through the Libra constellation over the next day or tow, there are various things that we can look at or work on over the next few weeks and they include:

Look at how you’re relating to other people (are you’re helping more than asking?)

Look into your partnerships (any issues that need addressing?)

Negotiate–try to bring things into balance if needed

Look gorgeous–work on improving your self-image, and self-love

Regain your identity–figure out how to resolve any unhealthy co-dependency issues if needed.

Looking at the above five items, I would have to say the following about each one (if I numbered them one-to-five):

  1. It is hard to tell how I’m relating to other people, especially since we’re still in the middle of the pandemic and I really haven’t been around anyone but family for the past eighteen to twenty months. I do try to add more value on-line (especially on LinkedIn)
  2. Well, I’m not in a relationship with anyone right now. In terms of family ‘partnerships’, I’d say that everything is about as ‘normal’ as they would be within the family.
  3. I can’t think of things with other people that need negotiating—I know that I probably need to negotiate quite a bit with myself.
  4. I’m slowly working on improving my self-care/self-love routines, plus how I see myself (self-image).
  5. I’m also slowly working on trying to regain my identity—mainly from the negative thought patterns surrounding body image and my writing ability.

The Libra new moon is also moving through my 12th house—or my secret zone. This is the time/house when you really just want to retreat from the world and work things out for a while. In terms of self-care/self-love what are some of the things you could focus on during this time?

  1. Practice yoga
  2. Take a break from social media and/or numerous social obligations
  3. Start a dream journal
  4. Face one big fear
  5. Trust your intuition
  6. Buy a mediation CD & use it everyday for a month
  7. Write poetry from the heart
  8. Share one of your secrets

So once again, this new moon is urging me to focus on finding a balance (or harmony) between social obligations and self-care/self-love. Since I’m still self-isolation, this is fairly easy to do—I haven’ had a sit-down, face-to-face conversation with someone (who isn’t family) since last March. The one informational interview that I had this year was via Zoom (and with the chat feature). Looking back at last year’s entry—I’m getting better at mental calmness (not having weird ‘stories/conversations’ running through my head, spiking my anxiety for no reason).

I would have to say that I’m going to try to get back into yoga (possibly through various workout programs), and I’m slowly working on the writing.

So what are my goals going to be for the Libra new moon?

  1. Unplug at night. I’ve been slowly setting the boundary of not being on the computer after say eight pm. While I may ‘scroll’ through social media on the phone, it’s usually a very brief scrolling and then I’m back working on my cross-stitch project. I’m going to try to make it a habit of either shutting down the computer or putting it to sleep no later than eight pm every night, and possibly leaving it off all day Saturday and/or Sunday.
  2. Continue at working to regain my identity. I’m still slowly working at resolving/healing the unhealthy diet mindset that I’d developed over the past couple of decades. While I’ve done quite a bit of work over the last ten months or so (thanks to various groups), I know that I still have work to do in that area. I’m also working on ensuring that I don’t wrap myself up in a ‘professional’ identity, only to lose myself ‘personally’ again (as I’d also done over the past several decades).
  3. Facing a fear—figuring out how to launch a freelance/remote/contract business. This is something that I have in my ‘risk and die’ zones on my comfort diagram—I figured it is risky trying to set up a part-time business, and an anxiety inducing dilemma trying to set up a full-time business. I’m going to try—the worse that comes of it, I keep it part-time, the best that can come of it—I manage to double (if not triple) what I was earning in academia within the first year of doing freelance writing.

I am aiming for ‘progress over perfection’, I’m starting the next chapter of my life (since I’ve stopped reading the last one), I’m not going to fear failure—I’m only going to fear the regret of not trying and I will not allow the opinions of others to sway me from the path I’m setting out on—windy and bumpy roads can lead to beautiful destinations.

What is something you’ve always wanted to try to do, but haven’t done yet?

No Comments AstrologycareerCraftsfitnessHealthLifestyle ChallengesNew Moon Goalsno spend challengesReflections