Category: Photography

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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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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Progress on the 44 things to do before turning 44 project

Okay…I realized last night as I was working on the latest update to this ‘project’–I never got around to posting the original 44 things to do before turning 44, nor either of the previous two updates. The original post, and both previous updates I think I posted to Instagram, and I think LinkedIn.

I’ve posted the third update to Instagram this morning, and until LinkedIn allows me back onto my account–obviously I can’t post it there. So I’m posting it here, and will probably post it over to Facebook this afternoon sometime. So, this ’44 things to do before turning 44′ is an update/continuation to the previous ‘birthday’ challenge (43 things to do before turning 43) and the ‘goals’ have been taken from the new 101 goals in 1001-days challenge that I’d also started back the day after my 43rd birthday.

Today marks the third update (March 20), and the half-way point between my birthdays. Now, if it was a perfect world–I’d be halfway done with the goals (in theory knocking out 22 goals in six months)…but it isn’t a perfect world, and I’ll admit that I’d fallen into procrastination canyon for awhile last fall. I’m slowly getting better at getting things done, and who knows I may actually get a decent number of the goals totally completed by my birthday in six months.

So what is on the 44 things to do before turning 44?

Well these goals include:

The daily oracle/tarot card readings are an ‘365-day’ challenge…so obviously I’m not going to be checking this one off until basically my birthday in six months. I have been consistent at doing an oracle card drawing daily, and am even thinking of starting an new Instagram account for sharing those ‘readings’.

I’m learning about body confidence (I’ve read several books on the subject–so check out the list a little further down the challenge list). I’ve got an idea for creating a consistent exercise routine (hopefully by the next check-in, I can say that I’ve managed at least 30-days of consistent intentional movement).

The daily mediation goal is another one that I won’t be ‘checking’ off until basically my birthday in six months. I have been sitting ‘quietly’ for a few minutes every evening, and am still working on trying to introducing some ‘quiet’ (aka meditative) time in the morning. Getting into the best shape of my life will slowly start happening once I’ve developed that intentional movement plan that I will (hopefully) be able to stick with.

I have an idea for the name of a YouTube channel, and ideas for what I would be wanting to talk about…I just need to ‘record’ a practice video and see how it looks/sounds before actually ‘launching’ the channel. Then hopefully by the end of the summer I will have ‘launched’ it as a podcast as well–or at least have a outline/schedule for launching it as a podcast.

Working on the happiness plan, and slowly working on getting the debt down (starting to keep track [more or less] of purchases and such).

Again, the stretching daily won’t be ‘checked’ off until my birthday–and I’ve been stretching in the morning & before bed. The monthly editorial calendars have been getting made (and more or less followed). The others are still works in progress.

Okay…something checked off: My definition of success.

I’m defining success as any of the following:

I have my credit card debt paid off…and have canceled a credit card…and the others are paid off monthly

I have started saving money again, and adding to my retirement account

My yearly earnings are in the upper five figure to low six figures

My stress levels have ‘leveled’ out

I’m committed to a fitness routine that I’ve tailored to my likes and dislikes…I’m in the progress of getting into the best shape of my life

I’m meditating twice a day

I’m spending time out in nature

I’m writing and researching things of interest

I have two successful blogs….two successful freelance businesses

I have a podcast…a YouTube channel…that I do for fun…and to educate and entertain others…earning money from them is secondary…

I have an online store for selling my crafts…

I’ve developed an “working relationship” with my ‘imposter syndrome/inner critic’…

I have developed and embraced my vision of minimalism…

I am staying up-to date on world events…

I have created numerous online courses that not only cover science topics, but history, social sciences, and current events.

Basically…Success to me is being curious, constantly learning, creative, present, productive, and aware that not every day is going to be rainbows and unicorns…sometimes they’re thunderstorms and disasters…Success is more than money, influence, and 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.

The next step is to create a vision board based on the above statements.

I’m making progress on the non-fiction reading:

I’ve been averaging about five books every two months (so roughly two and a half books a month). While I’ve read more non-fiction books this time around compared to the list for the 43 before 43 challenge–I’m hoping to still ‘finish’ this challenge. That means I need to try to read at least one non-fiction book a week for the next six months. One thing I need to do–is to go back and write at least four to five mini-book reviews over various books that I’ve finished.

Okay two more things have been totally checked off, and I’m halfway done with the challenge of reading two banned books.

Both of the above series are romance series that are based around a group of siblings. The ‘Lost & Found’ series has aspects of suspense woven throughout all the books, while the ‘Cottonwood Cove’ series has various other ‘tropes’ (such as brother’s best-friend [though so does the ‘Lost & Found’], enemy-to-friends, and friends-to-lovers). I give both series five out of five stars, and am planning on going back and writing reviews for each of the series (haven’t decided if it will be five individual reviews or a combo-five reviews over the entire series).

The other goal checked off that page: Doodling/drawing, coloring & framing at least two original drawings. I decided that for this goal I was going to do large drawings/doodles instead of the smaller ones I’d been doing last spring/summer and early fall.

Here are the three that I’d completed last fall:

In addition last fall, I also finished up the first really large needlepoint project:

I’m currently working on a needlepoint project that is even larger than this one. Though I should possibly do a couple of small ones as well–just to make sure that I hit the goal of completing at least three needlepoint projects. I’m also thinking of launching an etsy store to sell abstract needlepoint projects, digital coloring books, downloadable prints of my colored doodles, and other crafts–so stay tuned to hear about when I decide to launch that project.

I may get several of the above goals finished over the next few days/weeks. I have numerous black and white doodles that I can use to create a coloring book. I just need to have really good pictures of them to upload into a program to then print off (or upload) as a pdf booklet. I’m thinking of possibly trying to complete the draw/doodle & paint goal this upcoming weekend along with starting to possibly play with some resin or make some charm bracelets & necklaces.

Okay. In terms of the photography challenge–I need to try to develop a plan–am I going to do various 30-day challenges, random times with the cell-phone camera or what. The last time I did a photography challenge was back in 2018/2019 and I managed about six to seven months before I called quits (mainly because I felt like I was constantly ‘repeating’ the subject matter).

In terms of new & full moon goals–I’ve only missed one so far, and that was setting full moon goals in Oct 2023. I wasn’t dealing with Oct very well (as that was the start of the ongoing genocide in Gaza), and the one thing that really fell by the wayside was the full moon goals at the end of the month.

I’ve finished three Udemy courses and two Skillshare courses so far:

I now have a couple of ideas of sites to use when trying to do SEO research for writing (both on this blog & the science, health, medical blog), and I have a better idea of what goes into a business plan.

I’ll be doing one of those exercises again that allows me to figure out my values at this stage of life, and then figure out how to combine those with my strengths to determine how to create my ‘dream career’. Time theming is something I’m attempting this week…and I’ve realized so far that I need to pair the ‘theming’ with other productivity ‘tools’ such as using a timer, logging out of social media sites, and so forth to ensure that I’m not getting overly distracted from what I’m wanting to get accomplished.

The final two goals:

The sudoku & crossword puzzle challenge is an way of keeping the brain active. I use to do the sudoku puzzle almost daily, but when things really started to go south late 2022…I quit doing them–now I’m going to try to get back into doing them. The crossword puzzles are just for fun, actually they both are. I don’t expect to ‘win’ at the sudoku puzzle every day–especially the harder levels towards the end of the week, and I’m pretty sure that I won’t be finishing every crossword puzzle either.

Learning basic sign language is another ‘refresher’ in a way. When I was younger I could sign the entire alphabet using sign language, but as with many things–since it wasn’t ‘related’ to school…I quit practicing and have forgotten most of what I’d learned. It similar with wanting to become fluent in Spanish–I took a year of Spanish in high school (my freshman year) before switching to German. I didn’t take any foreign languages in college–though, I did take a class that had a class trip to Honduras (so I brushed up on my Spanish a little). I want to become fluent in Spanish to where I could travel to Spain and hopefully not have to rely on a guidebook. I’m hoping to become proficient in Arabic…because why not?

But there you have it. If you’ve read this far (or scrolled) I’ve managed to complete 3 out of the 44 goals currently–that’s not quite 7% (it’s actually 6.8%) of the goals met. Some of the goals are just a matter of deciding that the evening craft time will be spent drawing, painting, playing with beads/charms, threads, or resin instead of knitting (which has been my major project for the past couple of weeks–trying to finish my latest afghan).

So what am I going to try to accomplish over the next two months?

I’m going to work on accomplishing the following:

  1. Create a vision board based on my definition(s) of success
  2. Launch a YouTube channel
  3. Complete at least two 30-day challenges
  4. Read at least another eight non-fiction books
  5. Read another ‘banned’ book & at least one ‘classic’
  6. Finish at least one small needlepoint project
  7. Draw/doodle & paint an original piece of art
  8. Create a workout plan
  9. Write a letter to my future self
  10. Complete another four Udemy courses
  11. Complete another five Skillshare courses

Have you ever made a list of goals based on how old you’re going to be the next year? If so–were you able to accomplish all the goals, or were there some goals that were left unaccomplished?

I’m hoping to put a little progress into all the goals–regardless of whether or not I land a remote position (I want to have at least applied to say half a dozen remote science/health/medical communications positions), as some goals are on-going (getting debt down, getting into the best shape of my life), while others can be marked as ‘done’ once the birthday rolls around (since they’re ‘on-going’ but only for this particular birthday year–currently).

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Focusing on improving time/project management skills during the Aquarius new moon

So the moon should be moving through the Aquarius constellation tonight & tomorrow…marking the second new moon of 2024. Whoever has the voodoo doll for this decade—can you PLEASE leave it alone…like seriously, enough…

I asked last year if 2023 was going to be better than the previous few years…and it wasn’t…I almost want to ask the same of 2024…but until more political leaders start finding their backbones..this year is probably going to be even worse than 2020 (the start of the SARS-CoV2 pandemic…and I didn’t think that would be possible).

Looking at “Moonology: Working with the Magic of Lunar Cycles” by Yasmin Boland, there are again several things that one can do during this period:

  1. Detach ourselves from things that are no longer serving us
  2. Be true to ourselves
  3. Be inventive
  4. Be charitable
  5. Be social

Well…I’ve never really been a ‘social butterfly’. While I don’t mind getting together with friends every so often…you’ll find me at home in the evenings working on crafts or reading. So…I’m not going to try to become ‘more social’…it doesn’t fit me or my personality…I’m not anti-social, I’m just selectively social.

As I mentioned last year—I’m still working on detaching myself from things that are harmful—such as the negative self-talk (that is so ‘unconscious’—I don’t realize it majority of the time), diet culture & mentality, and other things as well. I’m also unlearning & relearning the ‘true’ history of different areas & people (working on decolonizing my mind). 

I’m also still working on being true to myself…since I came to the realization last year that I’d spent way too many years burying parts of myself in order to blend in and not call attention to myself. 

Being true to myself means—working on improving my spiritual health (I’m more Wicca/pagan than following a monotheistic religion; aka more ‘spiritual’ than ‘religious’); my career direction (freelance writing mixed with a healthy dose of crafts), mental health (dealing with burnout, anxiety, depression, stress, & an touch of PTSD), and then personal/professional growth path(s).

I’m ‘foraging’ my own paths in those areas..trying to be ‘inventive’ in how I deal with things…because I’m unique and different…I should ensure that my coping mechanisms fit my personality and aren’t just ‘cookie-cutter’ copies of what others are doing.

Then one should turn to see what zone (or house) the moon is moving through in regards to other aspects of life. Remember there are basically three ways to determine which house/zone the moon is in for any new/full moon: your star sign, your rising sign, and your moon sign. I usually go with my rising sign, which is Scorpio; while my star sign is Virgo, and my moon sign is Pieces. Depending on which ‘sign’ you go with—the zone/house will be different.

So this means that the moon is entering into my fourth house, or the home and family zone. So this can also be a time when one can spend cleaning (getting rid of things), possibly moving, and spending more time with family. So there are several suggestions from “Moonology” on what one can do during this time:

  1. Have a garage sale
  2. Hug your parents
  3. Sort out your photo albums/digital photo files
  4. Invite friends over
  5. Renovate or redecorate, so you’re more comfortable at home
  6. Sell your home and/or change locations, or even countries
  7. Ask your grandparents about your family’s history

As usual, there are several things from the above list that won’t be happening:

Asking my grandparents about my family history…only because all my grandparents are dead. My paternal grandfather made a notebook on part of the history of the family…basically from the time his grandparents came over from Finland…I’d have to try to do more research if I wanted to trace things back further than the late 1800s on my father’s side. If I want to know more on my mom’s side…I just need to email one of her sisters that is into figuring out the family tree.

We’re not a big family on hugging…but if I want to I can give my father a hug…can’t hug my mom as she passed last year.

Hmm…not really inviting people over (again—not big on having a social life)…there are two dogs to also take into consideration..not to mention an elderly cat with bathroom issues.

While we’ve been putting money into the house in terms of updates (new windows & a walk-in tub/shower)…I don’t think we’re selling anytime soon, and I currently don’t have plans for trying to relocate somewhere else.

What may happen this year (BUT NOT during the new moon):

Possibly a garage sale…we’ve got enough stuff around the house that we could try to get rid of some of it, while possibly earning a little money. Or I’ll just start trying to sell things on-line.

I’ve rearranged my room…just need to put things back into some semblance of order, since I had to move things around when we had the windows installed last week.

I really do need to sort through the digital pictures. Currently they’re all back up on the external hard drive (because they’d zap my cloud storage if I had them all on the computer). One goal this year is to try to get at least another 15-20 bird pages up onto the blog. Trying to sort the digital pictures has been something on one of my many lists throughout the years…I try to sort & get rid of the really blurry pictures, or the pictures where I can’t identify the bird…but that only puts a small dent in the total number of pictures. 

One big goal for 2024 is to figure out what my ‘vision/version’ of minimalism is—and embrace it. I know that I have way too much stuff both within the house and then up in my storage unit…and it’s time to figure out how to get things pared down enough in the house that I can get things out of the storage unit & into the house (and save money in the long run).

Therefore the list of goals for the Aquarius new moon will include:

  1. Continue working on my ‘long-term’ vision/plan (and brainstorm what the milestones will be)
  2. Continue trying to organize the files on the computer (and see what is actually worth keeping & what can be deleted), and also look at the backup external hard drive as well.
  3. Finish ‘reorganzing’ the bedroom (again)…

Three goals…two could almost be considered ‘on-going’…because let’s face it—the bedroom is going to get disorganized/cluttered throughout the year…I’ll start working on some project (creating a file, folder, and so forth)—to just forget about until I stumble upon everything in six months (or longer). Also…I’m still working on trying to develop my ‘new normal’…I’d thought that part of that would be actually working at a desk for several hours a day (but that was before adopting #apepthepuppy and yeah…desk work right now is possibly being regulated to the evening hours) . But I’m slowly making progress in that direction…and that is all that is needed—some type of forward movement.

What are you hoping to achieve during the Aquarius New Moon?

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Another attempt on 101 goals in 1001-days, with 44 things to do before turning 44

I’ve tried several time since 2018 in doing a 101 goals in 1001-day challenge. I’ve even tried to expand it to 100+ goals in 2002-days. My problem has always been the same: I make the list, and then I only occasionally look at it again to see how I’m doing in terms of the goals—and some of the goals never seemed to feel like ‘mine’. They felt like goals I should put down because they’re ones that ‘society’ deems acceptable.

Last year I also tried to a ’43 things to do before turning 43’ list of goals. The problem: I made that list/goal idea during a really rough time—my mother was still in the hospital, and I thought making a ‘smaller’ list of goals and a ‘tighter’ window would result in the goals being accomplished.

I did manage to accomplish about 44% of the goals that I set last year—as I counted even semi-accomplished (or started) goals in the ‘check’ category. Ones I did start or attempt were considered ‘not done’.

So, I’m three weeks and a few days late in posting this particular post—it is a combination of a new 101 goals in 1001 days list, and a ’44 things to do before turning 44’ goal list.

What’s the difference: I’ve actually picked a handful of 101 goals to try to get accomplished (or at least a good head start on) by my birthday next year. In addition, there are several additional goals at the end of the list that are on my ‘44 things to do’ list that aren’t on (or fit with) the 101 goals in 1001 days.

So what is what? The long list is basically the 101 goals that I’m aiming to accomplish in 1001 days. Items that are bolded are from the 44 things to do before turning 44 list. I’ve determined that I’m going to be having ‘scheduled’ updates—every two months for the 44 things before 44 list, and every 100 days for the 101-goals (plus yearly updates around my birthday).

The areas that I’m focusing on for both lists: career/professional growth; personal growth (including areas of health/wellness, spirituality, and personal finances); and crafts/hobbies (tied with career). Why these areas? Because, they’re the ones that if I focus on will also have the most impact in other areas of life (such as social life, friends/family, contributions/donations and physical environment).

So what are the goals? They include:

  1. Start my freelance science/health/medical communications business
  2. Transition to a remote science/health/medical communications position
  3. Monetize blogs and set up an Etsy store for the crafts and so-forth
  4. Launch a YouTube channel
  5. Launch a podcast
  6. Increase blog/website(s) traffic (aim for 500+ views/day)
  7. Social media following of 500+ across different channels
  8. Launch at least one online course
  9. Hit 10K (and then 12.5K, 15K, 20+K) followers on LinkedIn
  10. Go to at least one scientific conference
  11. Present at least one scientific conference
  12. Renew professional memberships (ASBMB, ASCB; at least once)
  13. More interaction on LinkedIn
  14. Go to at least two professional networking events
  15. Attend at least one blogging conference
  16. Attend at least one author-reader conference
  17. Develop a passive income stream
  18. Complete at least 18 different e-courses
    • Finish at least two CSA advanced programs
    • Finish at least four Udemy courses
    • Finish at least six Skillshare courses
  19. Read at leaet 100 different nonfiction/historical fiction books
    • Read at least 44 nonfiction/historical books before Sept 20, 2024
  20. Become fluent in Spanish
  21. Become fluent in German
  22. Become proficient in French, Norwegian, or Swedish
    • Learn to say hello and thank you in ten different languages
  23. Complete at least one 365-day photography challenge
  24. Editorial calendars, to-be accomplished lists for both blogs and various social media accounts
  25. Learn python coding
  26. Create a physical vision board and update it regularly
    • Based on my vision/definition of success
  27. Learn basic sign language
  28. Get out of debt
  29. Increase my savings account 500x
  30. Increase my retirement account 500x
  31. No spend challenges
  32. Finish at least one personal finance book and e-course
  33. Get into the best shape of my life
    • Learn about body confidence
    • Create a happiness plan
  34. Daily mediation (work up to twice a day)
  35. Stretch daily
  36. Hold a 90-second plank
  37. Develop (and stick with) a consistent exercise schedule
  38. Make a candle (or two, or three, or more)
  39. Make some mosaic art & resin art
  40. Make some soap
  41. Make some tie-dye clothes/accessories
  42. Draw/doodle, color, and frame a original drawing
  43. Draw/doodle, paint, and frame a original piece of art
  44. Sew something I’d wear
  45. Start my own jewelry line
  46. Make a memorial quilt
  47. Start another afghan (or make some scarfs to donate)
  48. Upload/update photography pages (namely bird pages) on creative/hobby blog
  49. Complete at least another six cross-stitch projects
  50. Create my own coffee-table photography book
  51. Create my own calendar using my nature photographs
  52. Create at least one piece of wood-burnt art
  53. Monthly new & full moon goals
  54. Daily oracle card drawings
  55. Create my own Wicca/pagan altar & update throughout the seasons
  56. See a coral reef
  57. Tour a vineyard
  58. See the Northern Lights
  59. Go to a Renaissance Festival
  60. Visit at least three countries
  61. Visit at least one ‘new’ national and/or state park
  62. Visit at least one ‘new’ national and/or state monument
  63. Visit at least one ‘new’ zoo
  64. Visit at least one ‘new’ aquarium
  65. Visit at least one ‘new’ state
  66. Visit at least one ‘new’ city
  67. Fly out and/or land at three ‘new’ airports
  68. Make fresh pasta
  69. Learn to make sushi
  70. Learn glass etching
  71. Get a haircut and highlights (light purple, blue, and/or green)
  72. Various top ten author/book series lists (creative blog)
  73. Keep at least three plants alive
  74. Start a succulent garden in a pot
  75. Design a science-based board game
  76. Declutter and downsize
  77. Create a minimal wardrobe
  78. Swim with whale sharks
  79. Put in at least one flower garden around the house
  80. Become better informed in regards to politics
  81. Become better informed in regards to economics
  82. Pick a non-science topic and develop ‘niche’ knowledge on it
  83. Research 30 prominent women throughout history
  84. Write a minimum of 101 mini-book reviews
  85. Write a minimum of 100 blurbs/reviews on different research papers/topics
  86. Start a junk journal
  87. Listen to a different podcast everyday (30-120 day challenge)
  88. Yoga for a minimum of 30 days
  89. 30+ days of iPhone photography
  90. 30+ days of doodling
    • Create a coloring book from various (uncolored) doodles/drawings
  91. 30-days of coloring in coloring books
  92. Solo dance parties (minimum of four to five songs)
  93. 30-days of making rubbings of interesting surfaces and textures (leaves, flowers, tree bark, so forth)
  94. Film progress of one (or more) 30-day challenge
  95. Learn a new country (or fact) a day
  96. Do a Sudoku or crossword puzzle daily
  97. Jumping jack/squat challenge
  98. Watch a different TedTalk each day (30-120 day challenge); plus a 100-200 word summary
  99. Create my own cookbook
  100. Ten minutes on the exercise bike (work up to a 5+ mile bike ride)
  101. 30+ days of mind-maps

The last few things from the 44 things to do before turning 44 list:

Complete at least five 30-day challenges (some of which are listed above)

Read at least two ‘new’ banned books

Read at least two ‘new’ classic books

Read at least one ‘new’ trilogy (or longer) series

Finish creating a inspiring work/craft area

Write a letter to my future self (again)

So that is my combined 101 goals and 44 things list…technically could call it a 107 goals in 1001 days…but splitting things up may help me actually complete more of the goals. In terms of updating the lists: I’ll be updating my progress on the bolded items every 60 days (basically the 20th of every other month) and the first update will be Nov 20 2023. In terms of the 101 goals–updates will be every 100 days, with yearly updates on my birthday (so there will a 365 day and 730 day update in addition to all the other updates). The first update for the 101 goals will be Dec 30 2023.

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November in Review: planning and looking ahead to 2023 & beyond

So, we’re in December…that means there are only 31 days, roughly four and half weeks, or 744 hours left in 2022. That means, I now really need to get serious about planning out things for 2023…because it will be here before we know it (or are possibly willing to accept it).

I’m still feeling massively tired and burnt out on life, and while I would love for the year (and decade) to be over—I’m also not ready for the good-byes that will go along with them.

I’d hoped that November would be a little mellower than the past three months—and it was, and at the same time it wasn’t; if possible it was an even tie for September in terms of being a mess.

Still dealing with the ongoing family medical issue—and the outcome is still up in the air. Then there is the fun of elderly animals…probably having to put one cat and dog down within the next few months (cat due to health issues, that I currently can’t afford to treat; and the dog due to old age and pain).

The only cool thing I can say about the news is Mauna Loa erupting this week. It’s been well over a decade since I’ve been to the big island of Hawai’i—and when I went, I only visited Kilauea (since it was within the main part of the Volcano National Park).

While I wouldn’t want to be living on a island with an active volcano—I think it’d be cool to see it erupt (from a safe distance)—cause while I did see Kilauea erupt—it wasn’t as cool looking as pictures have been lately for Mauna Loa or even when Kilauea erupted a few years ago.

Still staying off the news for the most part—mainly because of my current mental health state. Though if everyone would just grab a snickers bar and take like a three-month timeout, I think that would help things settle down.

By this time next year, I won’t be surprised if I’m diagnosed with moderate cases of depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

Elections were earlier this month, and hopefully Democrats can hold their slim majority in the senate, and knock heads together in the house to get things done. Sorry if that seems ‘violent’—I’m tired of seeing mass shootings in the news, and basic human rights being attacked basically every damn day.

In terms of the total number of cases of the virus within the US, when I published ‘October in Review’ on November 1st, I noted that we had reached a little over 99.3 million cases and now as of December 1st —we have reached just a little over 100.6 million cases (an increase of a little over 1.3 million cases). So, numbers are staying ‘steady’—though I’d like to see the number actually start going down again. But there are the various omicron subs-strains running amok.

So—please, wear a mask, wash your hands, practice social distancing, and get boosted when needed.

I finally got around to getting my booster shot this past month—and other than a sore arm (for about four days), I didn’t have any other side effect of getting the booster. Flu shot is on semi-hold, only because it looks like I potentially have to schedule a doctor’s appointment to get it—and I don’t want to do that right now.

Still trying to keep the mental health on an even keel—therefore, I’m still trying to lean more into my strengths and values: knowledge, creativity, curiosity, spirituality, evolution/transformation (values), learner, intellection, input, achiever, and deliberative (strengths).

So before setting goals for December, its time 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. 120-150K steps
  2. At least one partial walk at Boomer Lake, and at least five-to-ten minutes of intentional movement each day
  3. Finishing at least one of the many non-fiction books that I’ve started
  4. Read at least two-to-four fiction books
  5. Commit to the no spend days/no spend week/limited spending challenge (aiming for at least 22 days)
  6. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily oracle card drawings, daily gratitude journal entries
  7. Craft time
  8. Work through at least part of one personal/professional development e-course
  9. Getting the second blog up and running
  10. Writing, writing, and writing

So how did I do with each of them?

120-150K steps:

I fell short of my minimum step goal of 120,000 steps. I managed to get 116,503 steps this past month. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts throughout the years—I’m an extremely fair weather person, so in order to be outside doing some type of workout I need it to be ‘just right’. We’re heading into winter, though with climate change, the temperatures have been doing a yoyo the past few weeks.

At least one partial walk at Boomer Lake, and at least five-to-ten minutes of intentional movement each day:

There was no walk at Boomer Lake during November. The reason—having to play ‘phone tag’ with medical staff in regards to the on-going family medical issue. I probably could have done a brief walk up there—but I did other chores instead.

I know I’ve probably moved around at least five minutes a day—but I have yet to write down what the intentional movements have been. (Need to get better at this)

Finish at least one non-fiction book:

I finally managed to finish reading INNERCISE: The New Science to Unlock Your Brain’s Hidden Power by John Assaraf. I just need to go back and do some of the exercises within the book (especially those that revolve around setting goals, and putting together routines).

Read at least two-to-four fiction books:

There were six new fiction books read during November, and six re-reads:

The new books:

  1. Someone to Hold (Wild Widows #2) by Marie Force
  2. Always Mine (Honey Mountain #1) by Laura Pavlov
  3. Ever Mine (Honey Mountain #2) by Laura Pavlov
  4. Make You Mine (Honey Mountain #3) by Laura Pavlov
  5. Simply Mine (Honey Mountain #4) by Laura Pavlov
  6. The Path to You (Wilder Brothers #3) by Carrie Ann Ryan

The re-reads included:

  1. Alpha Turned by K.B. Alan
  2. Protect & Defend by Francesca Hawley
  3. Hot & Badgered (Honey Badger Chronicles #1) by Shelly Laurenston
  4. In a Badgered Way (Honey Badger Chronicles #2) by Shelly Laurenston
  5. Badger to the Bone (Honey Badger Chronicles #3) by Shelly Laurenston
  6. Breaking Badger (Honey Badger Chronicles #4) by Shelly Laurenston

No spend challenges:

Well, I did okay with the no spend challenge—managed 17 days (so a little over half the month)…spending money unfortunately is my coping mechanism for stressful situations (and the past several months has been a roller coaster of stress)…but I’m going to work on improving this both in December and then in 2023.

Meditation/sitting quietly, oracle cards, gratitude (aka mental/spiritual health):

Time outdoors is again becoming limited to basically evenings (and when I need to fill bird feeders) due to it being winter.

Meditation and sitting quietly at night (or actually anytime during the day) is something I’ve been fairly good at doing.

I’ve also been on top of doing daily oracle card drawings (I think there may have been one day I didn’t—but I’d done a double the day before), and doing daily gratitude journal entries.

Craft time:

I finished the one abstract science cross-stitch project, and had decided to use buttons to tie off the fabric in the back.

Latest abstract cross-stitch project

I’m currently working on a second abstract cross-stitch project and should be done with that one hopefully before the end of the year.

Working through part of a personal/professional e-course:

I’ve started watching the e-course: Master Business Writing & Editing on Udemy. I’ve watched the first three videos (so about 15 minutes of the three hour course). It looks to be a good course—so, aiming to finish this plus the 15 errors in scientific writing & how to fix them (an two hour course) during December.

Getting the second blog/website up and running:

One of the bigger goals for December

Writing, writing, and writing:

While I’ve gotten quite a bit of writing done during November (kept up with the three ‘series’ that I do on LinkedIn each week; plus the various posts on the creative blog), there is room for improvement.

I know that I need to get the second blog up and running—plus I need to decide on the various social media platforms for each blog, and get a tentative content calendar planned and actually stick with it…goal for December and 2023.

So, other than not getting any work done on the new blog/website—I managed a little on all other goals (while totally meeting at least the reading goals). As I’d mentioned in my #thoughtfulthursday post on LinkedIn today—I’ve been allowing myself to fall into the pits of ‘fear of failure’ and ‘fear of opinions of others’ this year—which has sidetracked, and sidelined my progress on numerous fronts.

Taking today out of the equation—there are thirty days left in the month. I know that I probably won’t be super productive this month (holidays and the on-going family medical drama), but I need to start setting things up so that I can hit the ground running in the New Year.

That means measuring things in the bedroom and rearranging furniture—to hopefully create an ‘office’ space that I actually feel comfortable working in, in addition to creating a portable working space in the living/dining room area (elderly dog likes to be in the same room—and has trouble navigating areas that lack area rugs).

It means getting in the different bullet journals and getting the tracking sheets set up for at least the first several months (besides the ones I did for 2022, introduce some new ones for 2023).

It will mean actually taking the time each day (morning and night) to plan and then reflect on how I did each day. It will also mean creating content calendars and trying to stick with them.

I’ll be spending some time during the next month or so deciding on what other social media channels I want to be active on for each blog…some might overlap (Instagram, Medium, and possibly having a Facebook page for each of them), but others will be specific for one or the other.

Therefore, I’ll still be working on improving my time and project management skills as well throughout the month of December.

The goals then for December will include:

  1. 120-155K steps
  2. Partial walk at Boomer Lake, and intentional movements daily
  3. Finish at least one non-fiction book
  4. Commit to the no-spend challenges
  5. Read at least two-to-four fiction books
  6. Mental/spiritual health (meditation, daily oracle card drawings, daily gratitude journal entries)
  7. Craft time
  8. Get the second blog up and running
  9. Work through at least one module of a personal/professional development course
  10. Writing, writing, and writing
  11. Set up the ‘master’ goal list for 2023; and start the ‘master’ blueprint plan for 2023-2028

The December goals are basically the same as what I’ve set for September, October, and November—with the addition of setting up the ‘master’ goals or plan for 2023 to 2028. What I need to do in terms of that ‘goal’ is start with the five year goals, and work my way backwards. That way hopefully each year I’ll be working towards those ‘larger’ and loftier goals.

As I mentioned the only goal that I didn’t really touch was getting the second blog/website up and running. I have an idea of what I want to write for my about me page (helps that I got my functional resume finished), and hopefully will have at least one blog post in addition to various pages ‘live’ by New Years Eve.

All I can try to do is devise a schedule/plan that will hopefully be able to bear the brunt of whatever happens during 2023…that will be a large focus this coming month.

Becoming more consistent will really let me lean into my strengths and values: learning/knowledge, creativity, curiosity, spirituality, evolution/growth, and intellection.

In addition—they all give me great practice at time and project management as I’m aiming for at least 85% overall completion (I’m fully acknowledging that I may not hit the step goal, and that I may also not have that much time outside—but I can work towards all the other ones).

Time/project management goes hand in hand with consistency and productivity. I’m going to be making more use of airtable (for content/project management—it’s a calendar and spreadsheet in one space), an old fashion timer, and pen/paper to manage my time and projects.

Curious to know what is your favorite time, project, or productivity tracker/manager?

Namaste….

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Time & project management improving–time to focus on the second blog

So, we’re in November…that means there are only two months, 61 days, roughly nine weeks, or 1,464 hours left in 2022. It’s the final sixth of 2022, and I’m trying to figure out what and how much stuff I can get accomplished before both the end of November and the end of 2022.

As I mentioned last month—I’m tired, burnt out (more on life overall than career), and really ready for this year, and the decade to basically be over.

October was even a bigger mess than September—which is saying something. So how was it a bigger mess than September?

Well—the ongoing family medical issue that I mentioned having started in my August in Review (and touched upon in my September in Review)—it’s still ongoing, and there was a point where it wasn’t looking very good. Currently we’re back to the fifty-fifty chance of it going either way.

I’m also trying to stay off the news (I know that this is showing my privilege—but with my current mental health state—I need to stay off of it). But I will just say—Russia should be kicked off the UN Security Council and kicked out of the UN in general.

By the time the family medical issue is resolved, I won’t be surprised if in addition to the moderate cases of depression and anxiety, I don’t also have a moderate case of PTSD as well.

Elections are coming up next week for the US—and this is where I’m going to share my two-cents.

Basic human rights are on the ballot this year. Women’s rights (voting and health care), sensible gun laws, the environment, education—all of it are on the line. For whatever reason there is a major dichotomy between the two major political parties within the US—and I don’t mind debating how each view finances, the budget, and those topics—but I won’t debate my stance on women’s rights, education, gun control, the environment, or issues I consider to be general ‘moral’/’common sense’ issues.

Therefore, if we elect more common sense and/or liberal individuals to Congress—we can end the filibuster, expand the Supreme Court, enact term limits for both the Supreme Court and Congress, and finally codify women’s health care and gun control into law.

And I’ll end my political/social/economical ‘rant’ here, before it takes over the post.

In terms of the total number of cases of the virus within the US, when I published ‘September in Review’ on October 1st, I noted that we had reached a little over 98.2 million cases and now as of November 1st —we have reached just a little over 99.3 million cases (an increase of a little over 1.1 million cases). So, numbers are staying ‘steady’—though I’d like to see the number actually start going down again. But there are the various omicron subs-strains running amok.

So—please, wear a mask, wash your hands, practice social distancing, and get boosted when needed.

I thought I’d manage to get my booster shot in October—but with the way the beginning of the month went…this task fell by the wayside. Hopefully I can get around to scheduling it for sometime in November (and possibly the flu shot—if its free as well).

While trying to keep the mental health on an even keel—I’m still trying to lean more into my strengths and values: knowledge, creativity, curiosity, spirituality, evolution/transformation (values), learner, intellection, input, achiever, and deliberative (strengths). Though sometimes it doesn’t help having the background/understanding of medical issues…ignorance is bliss at times.

So before setting goals for November, its time 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. 125-155K steps
  2. At least one partial walk at Boomer Lake, and at least five to ten minutes of intentional movement a day
  3. Finish at least one non-fiction book
  4. Read at least two-to-four fiction books
  5. Commit to the no spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending challenge
  6. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, and daily oracle drawings
  7. Craft time
  8. Getting the second blog/website up and running
  9. Working through at least one module of a personal/professional development course
  10. Writing, writing, and writing

So how did I do with each goal?

125-155K steps:

I managed to get 134,240 steps in during the month of October—basically right in the middle between hitting a little over 4K steps a day and the ‘goal’ of 5K steps a day. I managed two walks at Boomer—a partial and a full, plus took Chaos through the neighborhood once. Hopefully I will be able to get Chaos out on more walks in November, plus have an late morning/early afternoon walk at Boomer Lake at least once or twice in November.

At least one partial walk at Boomer Lake, and at least five to ten minutes of intentional movement a day:

I managed to get in one partial walk and one full walk at Boomer Lake, plus a walk through the neighborhood with Chaos. I probably managed about five minutes or so each day of ‘intentional’ movement (which for me means helping our elderly, arthritic dog in and out of the house).

Finish at least one non-fiction book:

I’m still reading Trilobite: Eyewitness to evolution; and I’m about thirty percent of the way through the book. I’m almost finished with INNERCISE; and I’m about eighty percent of the way done with that book–so I should possibly finish it sometime in November.

I’ve realized that I have cycles when it comes to reading non-fiction books—I can read several in a month (or over a period of say two months), then I go for a month (or longer) where I only end up reading a little bit of different non-fiction books (as none really grab my full attention).

Read at least two-to-four fiction books:

I’m pretty certain that I read more than four books during October (but didn’t track how many were re-reads). But teh four fiction books that I know I read during October were:

  1. Give Me Love (Rose Canyon #2) by Corinne Michaels
  2. Bittersweet Promises (Montgomery Legacy #1) by Carrie Ann Ryan (book review was posted last week)
  3. Fractured Sky (Tattered & Torn #5) by Catherine Cowles
  4. My Favorite Mistake (Paradise Bay Billionaire Brothers #4) by Claudia Buroga

In addition, I also finally got around to writing and posting the book review for Always the One for Me (Wilder Brothers #2) by Carrie Ann Ryan.

Commit to the no spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending challenge

My goal for October was a minimum of 22 days but aiming for 29.

Well, I managed seventeen days (just a little over half the month) without buying any extra e-books, or other stuff. But since how bad the beginning of the month was (in terms of the family medical issue)–managing seventeen days isn’t too shabby.

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

There was time outdoors—possibly not as much as I would have liked—but we’re heading into the cooler months, and unless the sun is directly overhead, it can get chilly sitting outside (even in a sweatshirt).

I’ve been making use of the soothing pod mediation app at night—and managing to sit and focus on the mediation for at least five minutes (some of the meditations are upwards of ten to fifteen minutes).

I’ve been on track doing my daily gratitude journal entries, and doing daily oracle card drawings. For October I was using the Oracle of the Shapeshifters deck:

Thursdays–I share the oracle spread on LinkedIn as part of my Thoughtful Thursday series

Craft time:

In addition to creating graphics and other multimedia items on Canva—I’ve also been spending quite a bit of time working on a new cross-stitch project (that I’ll hopefully have completed sometime during the month of November).

My current cross-stitch project: An abstract ‘microbiology’ petri dish showing different bacterial, fungal, and viral growth.

Getting the second blog up and running:

Still working on this….

Working through at least one module of a personal/professional development course:

I watched three short courses on Skillshare during October, and they were:

3x your productivity with this weekly planning guide

I liked the course–though I didn’t print off the planning guide. Basically you’re given ten tips on how to improve your week (and those tips could also be applied to one’s monthly or even yearly calendars).

The tips that the instructor gave were:

  1. Visualize your goals
  2. Schedule self-care
  3. Celebrate and appreciate small and big wins
  4. Just say No (to things you don’t want to be doing)
  5. Major lessons and inspirations (from the previous week/month)
  6. Failure is feedback
  7. Who can I help? Who would I benefit from?
  8. Feed your soul
  9. Focus (top three priorities for the week)
  10. Daily goals and review (break the three top priorities down into actionable steps for each day)

Needless to say—I’m still working on incorporating some of these tips into my schedule/life.

Content Calendar Made Easy: Save Time and Develop a Personal Brand

This was a decent course—it talked about taking your top traits (but traits in terms of what works best for content development) and mixing them with different types of content prompts (such as FAQs, behind the scene, future plans, and so forth).

I know my strengths/values—but am still working on how to meld those into my brand, but also realize I should be thinking of traits as well (would be having to brainstorm with others on this one).

Blogging Rituals and Routines: 10 secrets for increasing blogging productivity

This was a good course, and similar to the other productivity course gave ten different tips on how to improve one’s productivity.

The ten tips this instructor gave were:

  1. Clean up your office/desk space
  2. Organize drawers and files
  3. Clean up your computer files
  4. Remove things that don’t belong in the office (ties in with #1)
  5. Write at the same time everyday
  6. Have a daily, weekly, or monthly word count goal
  7. Have a daily time goal for writing (say fifteen minutes each day)
  8. Go on a ‘blogging retreat’
  9. Go on a weekly solo artist date
  10. Put on your ‘writing’ clothes each day

In addition, there were the suggestions of going for a morning walk, and changing your scenery (going somewhere other than your home ‘office’) to help improve your productivity.

There are several things that I need to do to help improve my productivity—and the big one is to create a couple of functional (but fun) work spaces in the house. One in my bedroom (which will be the biggest challenge), and then another in either the living room or dining room (since I split the time I spend working in different areas of the house).

Writing, writing, and writing:

I managed to get quite a bit of writing done overall during the month of October. I think I managed to do all three of my weekly post series on LinkedIn (Science Tuesday, Thoughtful Thursday, and the Oncology Friday), plus several posts for the creative/reflective blog.

I still need to work on drafting more blog posts (especially for the medical/science/health blog) in addition to starting to build out a portfolio of different communication style projects (mini-reviews; clinical trial summaries, slide decks, posters, and infographics).

What other lessons did I learn in October?

Trust your gut. I almost landed a freelance client for a writing project—but the payment method that they wanted to use was extremely phishy—so I politely declined (after having drafted an contract), and two days later—they’d blocked me on LinkedIn and the conversation thread disappeared as well (I wonder if I try to send another email if it would go through???).

Slowly dip your toe outside your comfort zone—but be completely honest and transparent with the other party.

A recruiter reached out to me on LinkedIn about a potential remote writing position focusing on oncology—great, I’m dipping my toes into the field, but was honest that I didn’t have the post-doc or publication experience that their client wanted. The recruiter thanked me, and basically then terminated the conversation (in all it was less than a five minute phone call).

In addition last week, I reached out to someone who was looking for a freelance science/medical writer—and while they aren’t sure if they’re going to be taking on that particular project—they gave me the idea/suggestion of possibly doing consulting work for training/on-boarding science/medical writers.

So, while I may not have made progress with all the goals (still need to carve out time to focus on the other blog/website)—overall progress was made during the month of October. There should always be room for improvement (if nothing else—extending the ‘goal’ line [in terms of steps for fitness, or words/time for writing).

So looking further into November, what are my goals going to be? Well, they’re going to include:

  1. 120-150K steps
  2. Hopefully at least one partial walk at Boomer Lake and at least five to ten minutes of intentional movement each day
  3. Finish at least one of the many non-fiction books I’ve started
  4. Read at least two-to-four fiction books
  5. Commit to the no-spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month challenge (aiming for at leat 22 days; goal is 27)
  6. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily oracle card drawings, and daily gratitude journal entries
  7. Craft time (finish the one cross-stitch project, start a new one, and/or possibly create some jewelry)
  8. Working through at least part of one personal/professional development e-course
  9. Getting the second blog/website up and running
  10. Writing, writing, and writing

So the goals for November are basically identical to the goals for October; and technically are identical to the goals for September.

The only goal in October that I really ‘fell’ down on was getting the second blog/website up and running. It is technically ‘live’—I just need to write the copy for the various pages, get the blog up and going, and start developing the portfolio.

In terms of how I’m hoping November will go—I’m going to be pessimistically optimistic, and just try to take things a day/week at a time. This means that I might have to scrap the weekly to-do list if something goes south—or I might get more accomplished, because I’ll be hyper-focused on something other than the family medical issue.

I’m still going to be aiming to become more consistent—especially in terms of posting to the different blogs (I have a editorial/content calendar created [more or less] for LinkedIn, and semi-created for this blog—just need to work on one for the other blog).

Becoming more consistent will really let me lean into my strengths and values: learning/knowledge, creativity, curiosity, spirituality, evolution/growth, and intellection.

In addition—they all give me great practice at time and project management as I’m aiming for at least 85% overall completion (I’m fully acknowledging that I may not hit the step goal, and that I may also not have that much time outside—but I can work towards all the other ones).

Time/project management goes hand in hand with consistency and productivity. I’m going to be making more use of airtable (for content/project management—it’s a calendar and spreadsheet in one space), an old fashion timer, and pen/paper to manage my time and projects.

Curious to know what is your favorite time, project, or productivity tracker/manager?

Namaste….

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My birthday goal challenge: 43-things to do before turning 43

So my birthday was a couple of days ago, and I’ve been slowly reworking various goal and bucket lists.

Reworking the bucket lists—because I need to be totally honest about how much travel I will probably be doing over the next few decades (especially international).

Reworking the 101 goals in 1001-days list—because there are few things that just haven’t happened and I’m not sure if they’re goals I was putting down for myself or things I thought were needed.

But, one thing I’ve done—I’ve created a list of 43 things I want to do before I turn 43. Some of things I’m already doing (such as meditating, daily oracle cards, and monthly new/full moon goals), but there are others that I attempt and never make that much traction with—I’m hoping that this is the extra little push I need to accomplish those items.

My 43 things to do before turning 43 list

The list contains goals such as researching the origins of my last name. Which is a semi-easy goal—since my grandfather did a good amount of the research back in the 1980s when he was composing a family tree.

But it also contains goals such as defining my vision of success, learning about body confidence, and creating a happiness plan.

Then there are goals associated with finishing certain courses that I’ve bought over the years—such as the project management consortium, management consulting firm, and business development federation courses offered by Cheeky Scientist.

The goal is that by my 43rd birthday I will have accomplished at least eighty percent of the goals (a minimum of 34.4—or 34 goals). I’ll be keeping track of some of the goals in spreadsheets (such as the 365-day photography and writing challenges; what books I’ve read).

Time to start pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone, and expanding the bounce zone while shrinking the risk and stretch zones—I’ll be giving updates throughout the year, just haven’t figured out the approximate time frame.

Within the next week or two, I will also be posting an updated 101 goals in 1001-day challenge as well.

Have you done a birthday year inspired goal challenge before? If so–how did it turn out?

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July in Review: Reading, meditation, & spirituality goals on track

So, we’re in August—which means we’re now over halfway through 2022. When we think about how much ‘time’ is left in the year, we can look at it as: five months; or 153 days; roughly 21.9 weeks; or 3,672 hours.

I’d like to ask again–whoever is playing with the voodoo doll for the year—please put it down…

While the year isn’t totally mellowing, I think things are ‘slowing down’…though to be truthful, I’ve been staying away from the news for the most part this past month.

I’m still pissed about the supreme court overturning Roe v Wade towards the end of June…stating that the states should be allowed to dictate a women’s health…FYI: there is the separation of church and state (not to mention freedom of religion) within the Constitution for a damn reason.

While the anxiety has been acting up—I’ve been getting better at meditating at night (soothing pod meditations help), and am working on catching the imposter syndrome/inner critic as it pops its head out to yell…

I will mention again, that it is time to end the filibuster, expand the Supreme Court, enact term limits for both the Supreme Court and Congress, and finally codify women’s health care and gun control into law.

It also seems that the US ha fallen into yet another recession—which is going to make finding a job a little more difficult (but I need to find something so that I can start really paying down the damn credit cards that I’ve overused the past eight months).

In terms of the total number of cases of the virus within the US, when I published ‘June in Review’ on July 1st, I noted that we had reached a little over 89.3 million cases and now as of August 1st —we have reached just a little under 93.1 million cases (an increase of a about 3.8 million cases). Numbers are going back up—in part to the different variants of the omicron sub-strain of the SARS-CoV2 virus.

So—please, wear a mask, wash your hands, practice social distancing, and get boosted when needed.

I will probably getting my booster shot within a couple of weeks—only because I plan on possibly trying to find something on campus (in terms of potential part-work).

As I alluded to last month, I’m going to focus on my strengths and values moving forward this summer: knowledge, creativity, curiosity, spirituality, evolution/transformation (values), learner, intellection, input, achiever, and deliberative (strengths).

So before setting goals for August (and possibly the rest of the year), its time to look back at the goals I set for July and see how I did with each of them. The goals for July included:

  1. 135-155,000 steps
  2. At least one walk at Boomer Lake, and at least five to ten minutes of intentional movement
  3. Finish at least one non-fiction book
  4. Read at least two-to-four fiction books (having at least one mini book review written and published)
  5. Recommit to the no spend days/no spend week/limited spending challenge (aiming for at least sixteen days)
  6. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, and daily oracle card drawings
  7. Craft time
  8. Working through at least one module of a personal/professional development course
  9. Writing, writing, and more writing

So how did I do with each of them?

135-155,000 steps:

I missed the minimum goal by about 5,000 steps. I only managed to get in 130,460 steps during July. It was an extremely hot month, and I only managed to do a single partial walk up at Boomer Lake.

While there were weekly walks up to the corner store to get the weekend newspaper–majority of the week I was only averaging about 3,000 steps per day.

One walk at Boomer Lake, and five to ten minutes of intentional movement:

I managed a partial walk up at Boomer Lake last week. The temperatures were usually in the upper 70s/low 80s by the time I’d normally be walking on the weekends. When you add in the humidity and total sun—I decided not to risk heat stroke/illness by walking.

Finishing at least one non-fiction book:

I finished the following:

  1. Dinosaurs Rediscovered: The Scientific Revolution in Paleontology by Michael J Benton
  2. HUSH MONEY: How one woman proved systemic racism in her workplace and kept her job by Jacquie Abram, Deborah Harris, and Delilah Harris
  3. Locked in Time: Animal Behavior unearthed in 50 extraordinary fossils by Dean R. Lomax and Robert Nicholls

Which brings my non-fiction reading to ten books so far for 2022. If I want meet the ‘original’ goal I set of 24 books read in 2022, that means I need to basically read three non-fiction books a month for the rest of the year.

Read at least two-to-four fiction books (having at least one mini book review written and published):

I finished:

  1. Along Came You (Paradise Bay Billionaire Brothers #3) by Claudia Buroga
  2. Grace Under Fire (Buchanan/Renard/MacKeena #14) by Julie Garwood
  3. Resilience After Dark (Gansett Island #25) by Marie Force (Book review written)
  4. Love Under Two Architects (Lusty, Texas #46) by Cara Covington

I think I was also rereading various books by Julie Garwood and Marie Force to get ready for the latest in both of their series.

Which brings me to 67 total new fiction books read this year so far…and considering how many I’ve bought hut haven’t read yet.I could probably triple this number if I didn’t have various other things to also be doing during the day.

Recommit to the no spend days/no spend week/limited spending challenge (goal is at least 16 days)

I’m getting better at this…managed to do not quite two-thirds of the month with no spending (managed 20 days)…There were several large purchases this past month (including numerous e-books). The goal for August—is a single purchase from Amazon (in addition to any books pre-ordered).

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

Well, the time outdoors for the most part was only in the evenings when I took the dogs out. We were in the triple digits for most of July, and when its like 81F feeling like 87F at 7am—I just didn’t feel like dealing with humidity for any long walks.

I managed all three of the other goals: evening meditations (I’ve started using soothing pod meditations and can usually keep the eyes close for half if not all the practice); I did a daily oracle card drawing and wrote one thing I was grateful for each night in my journal.

I think it helped that I had all three down on my July BINGO card.

Craft time:

I managed to do a little photography and spend some time on Canva, plus doing some color-by-number on the kindle.

I should get back to the needlepoint and/or jewelry creation (would be a good use of time, when I ‘unplug’ at 8pm).

Working through at least one module of a personal/professional development course:

I finished the last module for the medical writers organization (just need to do the assignments and post those within the Facebook group to possibly get the certificate of completion).

I also started watching the course on podcasting (its about seven hours), but decided its on hold until I either get the microphone and other equipment needed or download an voice recording app on the computer to play with (macs don’t come with that app preinstalled).

In addition I also started watching the course on infoprenuer: create information products and online courses on Udemy.

Writing, writing, and more writing:

In terms of writing—I’d managed to get a good amount done (there were the weekly assignments for medical news bulletin); I’m continuing with a weekly ‘post’ series on LinkedIn (molecular cloning step-by-step), and I’m starting a thoughtful Thursday post series as well.

There were only a handful of posts written for the blog though (something I’m working on changing).

I realize that with pivoting the blog to be more multi-facet (including science/medical/health topics in addition to the normal creative/reflective/hobby posts)—I may be both gaining followers and possibly losing followers (via wordpress) as well.

But that is what happens when you start trying to really figure out who you are, who your ideal ‘client’ base is, and the types of posts you’re going to be putting out.

So I did manage to get a BINGO for July…just not sure what the reward for that BINGO is going to be yet.

July BINGO Card

It was almost two BINGOS–but I haven’t changed the url of the blog, and the editorial calendar is still a work in progress.

In addition I set up a BINGO card for August as well…I’m finding it a little easier to work towards goals, if I have a way of checking them off that’s fun.

August BINGO card

You might notice that I ‘messed’ up a square–I accidentally put meditation down twice on my list of items for the August BINGO card, which meant I accidentally put it down twice on the card….

The website addy/url will probably be changed at the end of the week. I’d made a rookie mistake last month—I’d come up with several ideas for new urls, but totally forgot to see if any were already in use/claimed.

I ran a poll on LinkedIn to get some feedback, and when I decided yesterday to check on the status of the winner (plus some runner-ups), I found they were all in use. Which meant back the drawing board in terms of ideas, and another poll on LinkedIn.

Though, the ‘winner’ seems pretty obvious even this early in the duration of the poll (one week), that I will probably be updating it on Friday (August 5th).

I have it as a goal (on the August BINGO card) to create a editorial calendar for both the blog and then LinkedIn as well. This means I’ll have an idea of how often I’m posting and what posts require more ‘research’ than others (for both the blog & LinkedIn).

If I try to have a similar posting schedule of original content—I’d be driving myself crazy.

LinkedIn is going to have three ‘long’ post series (Tuesday, Thursday, and Fridays), plus I do a reintroduction post on Mondays; which leaves Wednesday and the weekends.

The weekends are networking time (Saturday is the big day via different social Saturday threads), and self-care time.

Wednesday may be a random type of post (I’d been thinking Wednesday wisdoms, but it may vary).

The blog on the other hand, is where I need to be careful…

People have signed up to be notified when I post a new blog post…I’m pretty sure they don’t want to be getting a daily email stating that there is something new. Therefore I’m going to try to have most weeks be just one or two posts; though there will be some weeks when there are more (depending on books I read and write reviews over, new/full moon goals and review, month in review and so forth).

Currently I’m thinking of starting a Tuesday science blog series, working with molecular cloning and then come September work in the Friday medical topic blog series.

Some weeks may have numerous posts, other weeks only two. Plus I’m going to be working on getting the various birds’ pages up and published (so there will be a blog post here and there covering the various bird pages that are getting published).

With all that said, what are my goals for August? They will include:

  1. 125-155K steps
  2. At least one partial walk at Boomer Lake and at least five to ten minutes of intentional movement a day
  3. Finish at least one non-fiction book
  4. Read at least two-to-four fiction books (having at least one mini book review written and published)
  5. Commit to the no spend days/no spend week/limited spending challenge (aiming for at least 20 days; goal is 30)
  6. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, and daily oracle card drawings
  7. Craft time
  8. Working through at least one module of a personal/professional development course
  9. Writing, writing and more writing

These are goals that align with various strengths/values: learning/knowledge, creativity, curiosity, spirituality, and evolution/growth.

In addition—they all give me great practice at time and project management as I’m aiming for at least 85% overall completion (I’m fully acknowledging that I may not hit the step goal, and that I may also not have that much time outside—but I can work towards all the other ones).

In that regard—I will probably ‘unplug’ from the computer around 8pm or so in order to just read or possibly work on a craft project (or even brainstorm/mind-map an outline for a science topic).

So—how has your summer been progressing, and which goals are you finding it easier to keep?

Namaste….

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