Category: professional development

Recognizing my inner critic/imposter syndrome: February in Review

So we’ve made it through the first two months of 2021–we’re a sixth of the way through the year. I also have a feeling that while 2021 won’t be the total ‘WTF’ year that 2020 was, it will possibly be close.

I mean in January, we saw a bunch of supports of the orange blob storm the capital and try to stop the finalization of the election vote. We also saw the orange blog getting impeached for the second time in two years, plus the inauguration of a new president and vice-president.

This past month saw the senate trial–where only six republican senators chose country over party, so the orange blob was acquitted (for the second time). Hopefully various states will be able to throw the books at him and his family and they’ll be carted away to prison. February also saw a polar vortex push down into the US, and then several winter storms blow across the country.

We go somewhere between 8 and 12 inches (or more depending on what part of the state you are in) of snow in three days (which for Oklahoma is a lot–especially since majority of teh drivers in the state have no idea how to drive in winter weather). Luckily all the snow has melted and we’re back to the ‘normal’ winter temperatures and weather.

I figured out that for the vaccine against the SARS-CoV2 virus, I’m in the last group–so basically the ‘general’ public (phase 1-3 are for essential workers, teachers, and others). Therefore, I’m hoping that by late summer/early fall I will be able to get my first shot and then hopefully no later than October get the second shot. It is looking like this virus is going to be sticking around now, and one problem that has been pointed out–in terms of the vaccine roll out (distribution), there are possibly 100 countries that haven’t gotten any yet for their citizens. Unless we’re able to vaccinate basically everyone on the planet–if the virus continues to mutate (and it will since it is an RNA virus), it could mutate enough to where the current vaccines are of no use, and we’re back to another global shutdown.

Luckily, with a new administration that actually listens to science we’re slowly getting the virus under control here in the US. When I published ‘January in Review’, I noted that the total number of cases in the US was a little over 26.7 million, and now we’re at a little over 29.2 million (so basically an increase of 2.5 million cases in a month–which is still a lot, but not nearly as many as we saw for January or December). I’m hoping it’s because people are getting the vaccine and listening to the experts and isn’t due to a downturn in testing.

So as I look to March (with the hopes that it will be a little more mellow than the previous two months), I also need to reflect on the goals I set for February and how I did with each of them.

The goals for February 2021 included:

At least 120-140,000 steps

Finish up Muscle Burns Fat Advance and start Barre Blend

Read (or finish) 2 non-fiction books from list

Read 3 fiction books

Finish up the MWO (need to do the writing & editing assignments, plus module 6), and then hopefully finish either the Clinical Research Coalition or the Regulatory Affairs Council program

No spend days/No spend weeks/Limited Spending Month

Time outdoors & meditation/sitting quietly

Daily craft time (with hopefully trying something new at least once a week)

Finish at least two other e-courses from list

So how did I do with each of them?

At least 120-140,000 steps; I managed to meet and slightly surpass my step goal for hte month. The total number of steps for February were 146,418 steps. I managed to get in the steps without that many walks (I think I did two or three short walks during the month; onne was with Chaos, and I think the other one or two were up to the corner convenience store to buy the weekend paper).

Finish up Muscle Burns Fat Advance and start Barre Blend; I finished up Muscle Burns Fat Advance on February 7th, and started Barre Blend the next day. While Muscle Burns Fat Advance wasn’t a total favorite, I will probably be repeating the program (along with Muscle Burns Fat) sometime in either 2022 or 2023.

I’ve made it through the first three weeks of Barre Blend (which is two weeks further than I made it last year), and will be finishing up the program in early April (sometime between the 2nd and the 4th). Currently I’d trudging through the program–it isn’t a favorite by a long shot, and truthfully I’m not sure if I’m going to be doing it a second time or not. Though I usually say that about any new program that I’m doing and didn’t fall in love with right away. I will be posting a review of the program when I finish it in early April, and may possibly do another round in 2023.

Read (or finish) 2 non-fiction books from my 2021 to-be read list

I finished the following books this month:

Burnout: the secret to unlocking the stress cycle by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski

The Joy of Missing Out: Live More by Doing Less by Tonya Dalton

I still need to write book reviews for these two (plus the two I read back in January), and hopefully post them by mid-March. I’ve realized that one problem I have in trying to write the reviews is that sometimes I don’t highlight anything as I’m reading–so I at times have to literally skim the book again to get something to write on. Otherwise my review would go something like this:

Great book. There was quite a bit of helpful information that I will slowly be trying to incorporate into my day-to-day life. I give this book ‘X’ out of 5 stars. Highly recommended.

That short of a review would be fine for Amazon where I purchased the book-but ont on the blog. For the blog I’m aiming for at least 500-700 words, and for it to also be something taht I could possibly share on Linkedin as well.

Read 3 fiction books

I managed to read quite a few fiction books in February–but only posted one review so far.

The books that I read included:

Call You Mine (Baker Creek Billionaire Brothers #4) by Claudia Buroga

Blackout After Dark (Gansett Island #23) by Marie Force (this is the only one that I also managed to get a review posted on as well).

Catalina (The Alders #10) by Avery Gale

I also re-read the first nine books in the Alder series as well. I also binge read the following two series by Avery Gale (characters were mentioned throughout the Alder series): The ShadowDance Club and Masters of the Prairie Winds Club. These three series by Avery Gale are definitely for adults, and not those who like the typical romance series.

Finish up the MWO and possibly the Clinical Research Coalition or the Regulatory Affairs Council programs

Actually I don’t think that I did any e-course work, with the exception of watching a couple more videos in the first module of the Regulatory Affairs council program.

No spend days/No spend weeks/Limited Spending Month

It was a limited spending month–though I did splurge on books this month. In addition I decided to try to order what I needed to finish up creating my own Wiccan/pagan altar (and I’m also done with that). While it was a ‘limited’ spending month–I know I can do better at controlling my splurges.

Time outdoors and meditation/sitting quietly

Well it was rather chilly and cold (not to mention snowy) this month. Therefore most of the time outdoors was brief in the evenings with the dogs. There was one afternoon walk with Chaos through the neighborhood (the one day it got into the 60s). I think i have my evening meditation routine down now–I turn off the fans, light some candles, and turn off the lights. I’m getting better at trying to meditate by candlelight, and if I can’t seem to quiet my mind–I will stare at the flames and work on my breathing for awhile.

Daily craft time

Well I did ‘crafts’ daily–if you count doing color-by-number as a ‘craft’. I’ve found the app to be quite addictive and fun to do, and usually end up coloring at least two or more pictures a day. I did start teaching myself cross-stitching and am working on my ‘test’ piece (where I try to see what will work and what will need work).

Finish at least two other e-courses from list

Nope–the only part of an e-courses that I managed to get done was watching another two ro three videos from the first module of the Regulatory Affairs Council program.

So this month did bring about a large ‘aha’ moment–I realized that I’ve been letting my inner critic/imposter syndrome reel me back into my comfort zone on an almost daily basisi. For whatever reason, when I have productive months (basically meeting all of my goals), the next month or two are not nearly as productive–and I will basically state it was anything and everything other than myself that led to the downturn in productivity.

I actually have a couple of drafts going on that topic (roughly titled: self-reflection and stretching/expanding the comfort zone and recognizing the antics of my inner critic/imposter syndrome) and will hopefully have them posted within the next two weeks.

So while I may have not met all my goals (especially for the e-course work and new crafts), I did have the breakthrough on what is holding me back at times. Now that I have ‘recognized’ at least one set of actions, I can slowly start reworking my ‘reactions’ to where I stay in the stretch zone instead of popping back into the comfort zone (at least until I’ve stretched the comfort zone out).

Heading into March, the goals are basically staying the same (though the number of steps will increase), as they are also helping me step into the ‘stretch zone’ and expand the ‘comfort zone’.

March 2021 goals will include:

A minimum of 135-155,000 steps, the temperatures are starting to warm up, so hopefully I can get at least one or two walks in at Boomer Lake

Finish Barre Blend (should be done within the first four days of April)

Read (or finish) 2 non-fiction books from list. Currently I’ve finished 4 out of the 89 books on the list, with the goal being a minimum of 30. Though I still need to write reviews over each of them

Read 3 fiction books. Currently (not counting any re-reads) I’ve managed to read 24 fiction books–with the goal being a minimum of 50. I think I will be surpassing the goal–though I’ve only written one review.

Finish up the MWO (power through the writing & editing assignments), plus finish up the Clinical Research Coalition and Regulatory Affairs Council programs

No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month

Time outdoors and meditation/sitting quietly

Daily craft time

Finish at least two other e-courses from list

While continuing to remind myself: “progress over perfection”, “you can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one”, and “not caring what other people think is the best choice you will ever make”.

And finally keeping focused on how 2021 will be the year of growth, creativity, and curiosity which will lead to happiness and prosperity.

No Comments BooksCraftsfinancesfitnessMonth in ReviewPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

February’s Virgo Full Moon: ‘brain dumps’ plus mental & spiritual health goals

So the moon will be entering its full stage tonight as it enters the Virgo constellation. Unlike last year–there isn’t a triple whammy this year (last year was a full moon, setting the clocks ahead an hour, and Friday the 13th all within the same week). Luckily we still have two weeks before we have to set the clocks ahead (that will be followed by a new moon this year), plus we only have one Friday the 13th and that is in November.

If you’re one who tries to understand how your mood changes or is affected by the moon–the Virgo full moon usually has people feeling finicky and anxious. Personally–I don’t need any extra anxiety in my life; I manage to manifest enough of it on my own. Though no matter what I sign I go with (star, rising, or moon)–all three are able to handle the Virgo energy.

My star is Virgo, my rising is Scorpio, and my moon is Pisces; two water signs and an earth sign.

So what are some questions that one can ask during this full moon?

Have I been too picky, pedantic, or critical of myself or anyone else?

Have I been humble to the point of underrating myself?

Have i been of service to others enough this month?

Have I been worrying and complaining too much, and thus attracting negativity?

Have I paid enough attention to the details that I need to this month?

If I were to number the above questions 1-5, my answers would look like:

  1. I don’t think that I’ve been too picky, pedantic, or critical of others (I haven’t been around anyone other than family for a year). Though my overall critical views/thoughts of the world really haven’t changed all that much (though I’m calmer now that adults have been elected and sworn in for the US). In terms of how I see myself? I probably have been a little too pedantic and critical of myself lately. I’ve realized that I’m still allowing my inner critic/imposter syndrome to get the better of me quite frequently. This is something that I have to be watching for on a day-to-day basic and correct it as I catch it (in addition to trying to figure out why I’m slowly self-sabotaging myself).
  2. Another things that I’ve realized over the past year or so is that I have a terrible habit of trying to be a people pleaser (in a way that tries to downplay or mitigate any conflicts), and therefore I haven’t been protecting my time or space. How does that tie in with humbleness–I prefer being in the background and not center stage. Moving forward (either working for myself or going into industry) I need to start tooting my own horn and showing/highlighting my own worth.
  3. I have been doing more of the house chores, and am slowly also taking on more of the cooking chores as well at home. Hopefully with the fact that there are now several vaccines for the coronavirus, I may try to find a part time job later this fall/winter if I haven’t already transitioned into industry or started working for myself full-time.
  4. I’ve realized that at times I do worry/complain about the state of the world. This is something I’ve been trying to work on–worrying only about the things that are actually within my control (namely how I react to everything). I also realized that the negative self-thoughts are a litte harder to catch at times–but it is something that I’m working on daily. Also, it isn’t all negative self-thoughts, but at times actions as well that need to be caught and corrected.
  5. Well this depends on the situation. If we’re talking about the overall details of what I would like to accomplish in a given month–no I haven’t been giving enough attention to details. One of the things that I’m going to start doing is a monthly ‘brain dump’–getting all the ideas of what I would like to accomplish for the month on to paper, and then sorting that list into weekly and daily to-do lists. That way hopefully I will be spending time on all aspects of life and not just zeroing in on one thing and ignoring everything else (like I’ve been known to do).

So, one other thing that people should do is look at what house the moon is moving thorugh as well. For me (using my rising sign), the Virgo full moon is moving through my 11th house or my friend zone. Therefore, the period of the Virgo full moon is also a time to try to focus on the other people in my life, in addition to building and nurturing one’s personal and professional networks as well.

I really haven’t been doing nearly as much networking/connecting as I should be doing since I’m trying to transition into a new position. The reason may seem silly to some people–since I’m not 100% certain of what I want to be doing, I also don’t want to be ‘wasting’ other peoples’ time in informational interviews if I don’t feel like that is the direction I want to go in–but I also know that having informational interviews will help me decide on the direction. Like I said–not logical, but there you have it (one of the many ways my inner critic/imposter syndrome manages to trip me up).

While I have some ideas of what I would like to do moving forward, I am also in that ‘daily struggle’ with my inner critic/imposter syndrome to start dabbling in the stretch zone and start expanding the ‘comfort zone’. Therefore networking is going to be getting done, but at a slower pace than what I was doing this time last year.

So what goals can I set for the Virgo full moon?

Meditating nightly, journaling in the morning, and slowly figuring out how to find balance with the inner critic/imposter syndrome

Try doing a ‘monthly brain dump’–getting all the ideas of what I would like to get accomplished during the month (say for March), and then selecting ideas from the list to put on a weekly and daily to-do lists. Have it such that it is a mix of various things instead of focusing only on one area.

Continue working on the transition plan–figuring out which industry directions are of interest and start trying to network again.

But keeping in mind: that 2021 will be the year of growth, creativity, and curiosity, the combination of which will lead to happiness and prosperity.

No Comments AstrologyFull Moon GoalsHealthPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflectionsspirituality

Recapping Leo Full Moon Goals: health, craft, & spiritual goals

So we’re going to be heading into the second full moon of 2021 this weekend. That means that before I look ahead to the next full moon, I need to take a look back at the goals that I set for the Leo full moon and see how I did with them.

So what were my goals for the Leo full moon? They included:

Continuing with my fitness schedule–to finish up with Muscle Burns Fat Advance and then move on to Barre Blend.

Write down the current ideas I have for going freelance/independent/remote work in addition to also seeing what other industry direction is of interest. Plus figure out other ways of earning a little extra money

Spend time working on crafts (start trying to learn cross-stitching, patch up the afghans, doodle, make jewelry, color, and if the weather warms up–photography time up at Boomer Lake)

Meditate, tarot/oracle card readings, and finally setting up my altar for doing card readings

So how did I do with each one?

I finished up Muscle Burns Fat Advance on Feb 7th and started in with Barre Blend on the 8th. Barre Blend is an eight-week program that I will be finishing up by the beginning of April. I actually tried to do the program last year when it first came out but I wasn’t a) in the right mindset, and b) hadn’t figured out the best time of day for working out. Now I have the time of day more or less figured out (I try to ensure that i have my workout done by no later than 10am), and the mindset is getting there.

Barre Blend isn’t going to be my favorite Beachbody program–but I told myself that I needed to give it an honest try and complete the program. There will be a review of it come early April when I finish my first (and possibly only) round.

In terms of work ideas: currently I’m leaning towards writing, data analysis, project management, photography, and possibly tutoring (or online teaching). I’m also still looking at other positions as well (clinical data analysis, educational consulting, and possibly going back to the bench). Though there will be more on this in upcoming blog post.

I started to teach myself cross-stitching this past month. It is something that is going to take time–mainly in terms of trying to get the design sketched onto the fabric. I’m currently working on my ‘trial’ or hit-and-miss piece right now. This is where I try to sketch different things (such as numbers or words) onto the fabric and try to then fill in with colored thread. I also did a little iPhone photography as well over the past month, though most of the craft time was doing color by number on the kindle. The weather never did really warm up to be able to get up to Boomer Lake–the one really nice day we had this week, the ground was so muddy that I didn’t feel like dealing with walking through it up at the lake. I realized that I’m going on almost a little over two months since I took at a walk at Boomer Lake.

My evening routine lately had been doing an oracle card reading followed by a couple minutes of meditation. I then decided to try to meditate by candlelight, and have been able to do almost five+ minutes of meditation. This usually means though that if I do a card reading, I usually forget to sketch it out in the journal. What I’m going to start doing is drawing a card (or three) in the morning and have them near my meditation mat so that I can meditate on the message again in the evening.

I have created an altar of sorts–but it is on a low shelf, and therefore still not in the best location for doing a card reading. I will probably just move certain items (such as stones or rocks) back and forth from where I meditate at night (and will be doing the card readings in the morning) and the shelf/altar.

I actually managed to meet the minimum of each goal during the past full moon. I feel like I’m on a more even footing in terms of working out–I don’t freak out if I have to move a rest day around, and I know that if I actually take the weekend for rest I will still be able to push play come Monday. I’m slowly working my way out of my comfort zone (more on this hopefully in another post this weekend or early next week). I’m also slowly branching out in terms of crafts (though I do need to commit to working on different crafts daily), and I’m spending more time also focusing on my spiritual and mental health as well.

All in all, a good start to 2021–a year that I stated was going to be focusing growth, creativity, and curiosity leading to happiness and prosperity.

No Comments AstrologycareerCraftsfitnessFull Moon GoalsHealthPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

Aquarius New Moon Goals. Brainstorming ideas, setting goals, and drafting the plans to achieve them

So the moon entered the Aquarius constellation either last night or tonight (depending on where you are in the world). I think the new moon was last night for me–though we’ve been so cloudy and cold, I haven’t seen any stars for the past couple of nights. The enterance into the Aquarius constellation marks the second new moon of 2021. We’ve made it through teh first 42 days of 2021, and some have been chaotic, some calm, but the rest have been somewhere in between.

Looking at ‘Moonology: Working with the magic of lunar cycles’ by Yasmin Boland, there are several things that one can do during this period:

Detach ourselves from things that no longer serve us

Be true to ourselves

Be inventive

Be charitable

Be social

Looking at the above list–it is difficult to try to be social as we’re still in the middle of a pandemic. I’m working on being true to myself (starting with physical and spiritual health), and slowly detaching myself from things that no longer serve me (mainly the diet mentality and the baggage associated with it).

Then there is the aspect of what zone (or house) the moon is moving into with regards to everything. There are three different ways that you can go about figuring out the house/zone: by your star sign, your rising sign, or your moon sign. I usually go with my rising sign which is Scorpio, though I could do my star (Virgo) or moon (Pisces).

By using Scorpio, this means that the moon is entering my fourth house, or the home and family zone. This then means it is a time to spend cleaning, possibly moving, or spending more time with family. Again, there are several suggestions from ‘Moonology’ on what one can do during this time (for the fourth house):

Have a garage sale

Hug your parents

Sort through your photo albums/digital photo files

Invite friends over

Renovate or redecorate so you’re more comfortable at home

Sell your home and/or change locations, or even countries

Ask your grandparents about your family’s history.

Looking at that list, there are some things that aren’t happening (or don’t happen that often)–hugging my parents (we’re not the overly affectionate type of family), having friends over (everyone is busy, plus we’re still in the middle of a pandemic). Since both sets of grandparents are deceased, I can’t really inquire about family history. Though my grandfather did write me a letter about growing up in the Depression and serving in WWII–one of these days I may share the transcribed letter.

I also won’t be having a garage sale (again–pandemic, and too much work to only get ride of a little bit of stuff), renovate (my parents own the house not me). Though I may redocrate my room a little. As much as I would like to move/change locations–again, pandemic and I currently don’t have a steady income (which would be necessary for said move or change in location).

Therefore if I were to make a list of goals for the Aquarius new moon to cover both areas (things for the new moon plus the family/friends zone) they would be:

Sorting through the large amount of digital photos on the computer

Sorting through the clothes in the closet and figuring out what fits and what doesn’t (box up the second and possibly donate)

Set up my wiccan/pagan altar

Continue working on my evolving vision of my future–try to project it say two to four years forward.

Finally remembering that no matter how slowly I need to go, this year will be a year of growth, creativity, and curiosity, which will lead to happiness and prosperity.

No Comments AstrologyNew Moon GoalsPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflectionsspirituality

200 days into the ~150 goals in 2002 day challenge

So as I mentioned last fall I decided that I was going to ‘restart’ and expand the time frame of my 100+ goal challenge. The new challenge started on July 19, 2020 and I planned for it to run through January 10, 2026 (basically 2002 days–double the normal 1001 day time).

So I’ve been updating this list on-and-off since the first update back in October. One of the things I decided to remove were all of the TV shows that I thought I’d be binge-watching. The reason–currently I don’t feel like sitting down and watching multiple seasons of any TV show. While I may decide to watch an episode or two (or maybe a season)–I just don’t see myself sitting down and binge watching like a total of 20+ seasons of shows over even a five year period.

Then, there is still the pandemic going on–which means that my travel plans (and any plans that requires me to be around other people) are still on hold, and I’m still sheltering in place. While two vaccines have been approved for emergency use (with three more in the middle of phase 3 clinical trials), I probably won’t be eligible for the vaccine until late summer or early fall. Therefore I’m still going to be sheltering in place (and wearing a mask when I do go out and about) probably until August or September of this year. This gives me plenty of time to still try to figure out what my ‘new normal’ is going to be looking like.

So my first check-in on this challenge was in October, and the blog title was ‘check-in on the 150+ goal challenge‘. This was where I first started editing out some of the goals that I didn’t feel were fitting my current projections of what I was wanting to do with my life.

So if you want, you can click on the above link, go read that post and see where the changes have occurred.

Note–some goals aren’t numbered as they’re considered a ‘sub-goal’ of the goal above. But in total (numbered and unnumbered) I do have almost 150 goals on the list.

So how have all the goals been progressing?

  1. Transition into an industry position. Currently thinking of either remote/contract or possibly freelance to start (mainly due to the pandemic). But also thinking of possibly doing freelance and then also finding a ‘in-house’ position doing something slightly different.
  2. Learn a programming language (python or R–ties in with #6). I have downloaded a python program, and will be starting to work through some of the e-courses that I bought that deals with python.
  3. Finish various e-courses that I’ve bought, but in particular:
  4. Clinical Research Coalition (Advanced Cheeky Scientist Program)–started watching the videos in this program recently.
  5. Medical Writers Organization (another advanced Cheeky Scientist Program)–need to finish the writing and editing assignments
  6. Data Science Syndicate (another advanced Cheeky Scientist program)–finished this on September 3rd 2020.
  7. Program Management Consortium (another advanced Cheeky Scientist program)
  8. Management Consulting Firm (yet another advanced Cheeky Scientist program)
  9. All other courses–see additional lists in the journal. Decided to make things a little easier–I have a list of courses that I would like to finish in 2021, and if I manage to finish all of those, then I will go back to the master lists in the journal.
  10. More interacting on LinkedIn. This section is hard to score. I’m doing the best with the first one, and trying to improve on the second and fourth ones.
    • Sharing articles from various biotech pages, and other science pages. I usually manage to share at least two to four articles a week from the Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News site.
    • Commenting on posts. Trying to get better at this
    • Giving/Asking for recommendations–need to start doing this
    • Start writing my own posts. I’m slowly trying this, but have started by trying to share photographs and/or inspirational quotes to begin with. I also need to work on the frequency of posts as well.
  11. Creating monthly/weekly/daily calendars for above goals. This is something that I’m still working on. I’ve realized that while calendars are good, I also like the flexibility of deciding what or when to post. Mental block that needs to be worked on.
  12. Renewing professional memberships. I need to decide on which association I will be renewing first, as I had mentioned in a previous post I currently don’t have enough money to renew all of them at once.
  13. Become fluent in Spanish
  14. Become fluent in German
  15. Become proficient in French, Norwegian, or Swedish
  16. Read at least 300 personal/professional development books. This is also including books from my previous attempts at 1001-day challenges as well. I have over 300 books on the list (actually probably closer to 400), and I would like to get through at least half of them before adding any new ones to the list. In addition I’m reformatting the goal slightly and aiming for at least 30-40 non-fiction books a year (so the total number may only be 90-120 instead of 300). Counting in the books read during the previous attempts (2018-2020) I’ve already read 73 books (though I considered 12 of them to be ‘reference’ books on a topic). I’ve also finished 3 books this year. That means in theory to reach 300 books, I need to read another 224 books over the next 1802 days.
  17. Finish the books on scientific writing (tied in with #16)
  18. Start building a portfolio of work (writing/data analysis/other ideas)–may mean either another website, renaming this one and reformatting what I have posted.
  19. Develop a daily writing habit–I usually manage to write in my journal a little every day. Sometimes it is just to make note of the workout I did, or card spread for the evening.
  20. Write a letter to my future self
  21. Paint and frame at least one original painting
  22. More photography–haven’t done as much as I would like so far for 2021, mainly due to the temperatures and not getting outside as often. But I have been updating/adding pages to the bird section
  23. 365-Day Photography Challenge (aim for 365 different pictures). I have a couple of ideas for this, just need to fine-tune one or two of them and hopefully will be starting this challenge again within the next few months.
  24. Updating photography pages on blog. I’ve been adding pages to the bird tab on the website, with the goal of hopefully one new species page a week (with pictures), in addition to pages for the bird order & family. I will also start adding in other pages under the photography and travel tabs throughout the spring as well.
  25. Make my own jewelry
  26. Learn to cross-stitch–I started doing this the other day. It will be something that takes practice at to be good at. I do enjoy doing it and will try to practice at least every other day.
  27. Get a new sewing machine–on hold. Possibly once I move and am willing to take the risk that I’m getting a machine with a defective bobbin winder.
  28. Make a new quilt for my bed–on hold (see #27 for reason)
  29. Make a set of drapes for the bedroom (mainly for backdrop for zoom calls)–again on hold (see #27 for reason)
  30. Start a new afghan (after mending other two and writing a blog post on it)
  31. Showcase crafts on blog–need to have some crafts actually either started or completed
  32. Start writing a book–I have an idea or two for this
  33. Learn Photoshop
  34. Write in journal daily (answering questions/prompts from various books & free thought). Have been doing this–though sometimes it is just noting that I did my morning workout.
  35. Create my own coffee-table photography book
  36. Learn basic sign language
  37. Start a virtual book club–question though is, would it be non-fiction or fiction?
  38. Create monthly budges–currently this is just paying off the bills
  39. Credit card debt down & hopefully paid off monthly–some are still a little high (due in part to impulsive book buying and investing in myself (a couple of courses were rather expensive)
  40. Declutter the house (way of earning extra cash)–need to place a couple of declutter orders over the next few weeks
  41. Savings account up another 20K (hopefully)–this is tied with a few of the other finance goals. In truth the goal should be trying to get my savings to where it was before I started my reboot break
  42. Talk with financial personal about short-term investment possibilities
  43. Continue doing small surveys as a way of earning a little extra cash
  44. Finish the various financial e-courses, and then decide when/how to start investing
  45. Get into the best shape of my life
  46. Multivitamin & supplements daily–I think I’ve only missed a few days here and there
  47. Make it through the following Beachbody programs (at least once):
    • Morning Meltdown 100–First round was finished on 9/15/2020
    • Yoga Booty Ballet (Abs & Butt Series)–~3/4 of program completed by 11/14/2020
    • 10 Rounds–1st Round completed on 12/26/2020
    • Barre Blend–Will be starting this on Monday 2/8/2021
    • Insanity Max:30
    • LIIFT4–2nd round finished on 11/14/2020
    • 22-Minute Hard Corps
    • T20
    • Insanity
    • Insanity: Asylum 1
    • Insanity: Asylum 2
    • 4 weeks of Prep
    • 6 weeks of the Work
    • T25 (have already done this program once)
    • Brazil Butt Lift
    • 21-Day Fix (already done once; 2nd time will be the ‘live’ version)
    • 21-Day Fix Extreme (already done once; 2nd time will be the live version)
    • Country Heat (already done once)
    • CIZE
    • Muscle Burns Fat–First round completed 1/17/2021
    • Muscle Burns Fat Advanced–First round will be completed 2/7/2021
    • Let’s Get Up–Shawn T’s new one
    • 9-week control freak (dumb bell option)
    • Shawn Week
    • 80 Day Obsession
    • Brazil Butt Lift: Carnival
    • Shift Shop: Proving Grounds
    • P90
    • Core de Force
  48. Manage 5 push-ups on my toes (I’ve been practicing & managing between 4-10 on my knees)
  49. Manage 10 push-ups on my toes
  50. Hold a 2 minute forearm plank
  51. Hold a 90 second plank
  52. Meditate nightly–have been doing, though sometimes its only been for a minute or two
  53. 60-80 oz of water daily–getting close though some days its probably between 40-50
  54. Stretch daily
  55. Get at least 10,010,000 steps (breaks down to 5K/day)–on my way to meeting this, as I usually manage to meet monthly goals
  56. Finish YouTube for bosses course
  57. Finish YouTube course creation for bosses course
  58. Finish blog to biz course
  59. Launch a YouTube channel
  60. Launch a online course
  61. Get blog traffic to 500+ views a day
  62. Rebrand myself & website (?)
  63. Get instagram followers to constant 800+
  64. Get pintrest followers to constant 400+
  65. Get twitter followers to constant 1000+
  66. Publish at least two blog series
  67. Editorial calendars (monthly/weekly/daily)
    • Blog
    • Instagram
    • Facebook page
    • Twitter
    • Pintrest
  68. Get becomingJessi (or new name if I change) to 1000+ likes/follows on Facebook
  69. Various top 10 author lists
  70. Various top 10 book series lists
  71. Launch a podcast
  72. Launch a etsy store
  73. Full & New Moon Goals
  74. Create my wiccan/pagan altar
  75. Daily oracle card readings
  76. 15 minutes outdoors in the morning (coffee only)–weather permitting; basically start in spring
  77. Keep at least 3 plants alive
  78. Design a science based board game
  79. Create and update a digital vision board
  80. Reorganize my storage unit
  81. Put in at least 1 flower garden around the house
  82. Help put up a partial privacy fence in backyard
  83. Start downsizing number of clothes I own & creating both different ‘minimum’ wardrobes (work/professional/casual; home/casual/working out) & dressing for my now body
  84. Start downsizing the rest of my things as well–would like to be able to live comfortably in a smallish size house (or apartment)
  85. Develop at least 10 different 100-day challenges–will include 100 days of iPhone photography and 100 days of doodling
  86. Re-pierce my ears
  87. Go to at least 1 scientific conference & present at a scientific conference
  88. Go to at least 2 professional networking events
  89. Move to a new (or maybe not new) city for job
  90. Visit at least 3 new (to me) countries
  91. Visit at least one new (to me) national and/or state park
  92. Visit at least one new (to me) national and/or state monument
  93. Visit at least one new (to me) zoo
  94. Visit at least one new (to me) aquarium
  95. Fly out and/or land at 3 new (to me) airports
  96. Visit at least one new (to me) city
  97. Visit at least one new (to me) state
  98. See the northern lights
  99. Attend at least one blogging conference
  100. Attend at least one author-reader conference
  101. Swim with whale sharks
  102. Parasailing
  103. Buy fabric and foam and make new cushions for chairs
  104. New couch and chair(s) for living room
  105. New dresser for bedroom
  106. New mattress & box spring for bed and/or new bed set
  107. New TV & stand
  108. New desk/craft workstation
  109. New dining table

So while I removed one program from my professional development goals–I added another in it’s place. I also made a list of courses to work through for the year, instead of trying to debate between courses and never getting any done. I’ve already watched three of the small courses from Skillshare during January.

I’ve also realized that I’m behind on writing quite a few posts (such as my thoughts on the Data Science program offered by the Cheeky Scientist Association, and several book reviews). I’m also hopefully going to be done with the Medical Writing Organization program this month (once I block out enough time to work through the various writing and editing assignments).

I’m doing well with the fitness/health goals. I made a bingo card for the next two years (2021-2023) with different programs (1st, 2nd, or 3rd rounds) on it. I made it a goal to make it through 9 programs this year (which includes doing the 2nd or 3rd round of a couple of programs), and then hopefully 7 programs next year.

As I mentioned previously–I’m leaning heavily in the direction of going freelance/online/remote for work. Now I’m thinking on what type of combination of things I want to be doing (such as writing, data analysis, project management, or data entry), and then also stick with something in the personal development/hobby realm as well. The dual, multiple focused combination actually appeals to my mixed-styled multipontialite personality.

This then raises the next question of either changing the name of the blog/site, and possibly archiving older posts, or keeping this as my personal blog and then starting another site from scratch. I need to inquire with various people on their opinion (change name/archive/delete or keep and start a second one from scratch).

I’m also still working on developing an editorial calendar/to-be accomplished list that works for me. Besides swinging between two extremes: trying to cram way too much stuff into a day or not getting anything done, I am also still working my way out burnout (more on this in a later post).

So I am making decent progress with some goals, and need to start working on others. The main thing I need to remember: “Progress over Perfection” and to start embracing the learner and intellection parts of my personality again.

Next check-in will be coming in mid-May.

Have you tried a 101 goal in 1001 days? How did it go?

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Starting the year strong: January 2021 goals reviewed

Well we’ve made it through the first month of 2021. I should have known that 2020 wasn’t going to go out without a fight–I think it stole two and a half weeks or so from 2021. Congress did meet on the 6th to finalize the electoral vote–but not before a bunch of right wing nutbags stormed the capital trying to stop the finalization of the vote. This led to the former orange waffle in office to actually get impeached for the second time (there have only been four presidential impeachments throughout this country’s history and he has half of them). The trial in the senate is scheduled to start early Feb (I think next Tuesday), and here’s hoping that another 12 republican senators find their spine & do their job–country over party.

While we do have a new president and vice-president trying to clean up as much of the mess from the last four years as quickly as possible, I realize that we’re still quite a ways away from a new ‘normal’. While there are two vaccines currently in use for the pandemic (3 more are in the middle of the phase 3 clinical trials), they’re both a two-shot system meaning there is a three-to-four week wait between the shots. I’m hoping that I will be able to get my first vaccine shot late summer or early fall (depending on the supply). Though the WHO has stated that we won’t be seeing global herd immunity this year to the virus, so even if I can get the vaccine this fall–I will probably still be self-isolating (and figuring things out) until probably 2022.

As usual, the US still hasn’t totally gotten the virus under control. When I published ‘December in Review’, I noted that the US was a little under 20.5 million total cases, and now we’re at a little over 26.7 million cases (increase of basically six point two million cases in a month; similar to December’s total–but I think it is due to a downturn in testing). New variants are starting to pop up around the world (which isn’t that surprising since the virus is RNA based, and those have a tendency to mutate quicker than DNA based viruses)–but hopefully the vaccines being developed will still offer a decent level of protection against the new variant strains. Though the CDC just mandated that you have to wear a mask on any form of public transportation (plane, bus, or train), and not doing so would be considered a federal offense–so we might be seeing the ‘top’ of the pandemic mountain in the US (hopefully).

So as I look to February (with the hopes of things starting to mellow out), I should also look back the goals I set for January and see how I did with each of them.

The goals for January included:

At least 135-155,000 steps

Finishing up Muscle Burns Fat and starting Muscle Burns Fat Advanced

Read (or finish reading) at least 2 non-fiction books from list

Read at least 3 fiction books

Finish the MWO and start another advanced Cheeky Scientist Program

No spend days/No spend weeks/limited spending month

Time outdoors & meditation/sitting quietly

Daily Craft time

Finish at least two other e-courses from list

So how did I do with each of them?

At least 135-155,000 steps–I met my step goal with a total of 159,685 steps. There weren’t any walks at Boomer Lake, mainly due to the chilly temps (and yes I know it’s winter and I can bundle up—just haven’t figured out how to ‘bundle’ up my camera), and I didn’t want to risk breaking my digital camera (by the off chance of moisture getting into it).

Finishing up Muscle burns fat and starting muscle burns fat advance

I finished up Muscle Burns Fat on the 17th of the month, and started muscle burns fat advance the next day. I wrote both a quick blog post and a slightly more in-depth review of Muscle Burns Fat probably a week or so ago. I will be finishing up Muscle Burns Fat Advance on the 7th of February.

Read (or finish) 2 non-fiction books from list

I managed to finish reading the following:

Secrets of Six Figure Women: Surprising strategies to up your earnings and change your life by Barbara Stanny

Badass Habits: cultivate the awareness, boundaries, and daily upgrades you need to make them stick by Jen Sincero

I should hopefully be posting reviews of both books within the next week or so.

Read at least 3 fiction books

This month has seen me read the following:

The first three books in the Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers series by Claudia Burgoa. The books are:

Loved You Once (The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers #1)

A Moment Like You (The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers #2)

Defying Our Forever (The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers #3)

The last three books in the series will be coming out throughout 2021.

Plus I also read ‘The Ahern Brothers Collection’ also by Claudia Burgoa.

Book reviews, again will be posted within hopefully two to three weeks.

Finishing the MWO and starting another advanced Cheeky Scientist program

While I haven’t totally finished the MWO yet (the writing and editing assignments are taking longer than I originally thought), I have started both the Clinical Research Coalition and the Regulatory Affairs Council advance programs.

One thing I’ve realized is that if I don’t find the topic interesting, it is hard for me to complete the assignment–which is part of the trouble I’m having with the writing and editing assignments for the MWO. I will be blocking out time over the next month to slowly finish the assignments though.

No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month

This was accomplished. While I tried to have no-spending challenges last year, I usually ended up still impulsively buying e-books and/or courses. This year I decided to have a limited spending challenge–things could still be bought, but had to go into one of two categories: needed or splurge. I will be posting this week on how the first month went for the challenge (instead of droning on about it here).

Time outdoors and meditation/sitting quietly

Since we’re in the middle of winter (though there have been one or two days of ‘nicer temps’–those were really windy days), the time outdoors has been brief. It is mainly at night with the dogs, or when I need to fill up the bird feeders. While I don’t mind winter temps–I have yet to find a hobby that will have me outdoors no matter the temperature.

I have been doing small nightly meditations (usually a minute or two), and sitting quietly throughout the day–not as often as I would like, but it is progress.

Daily craft time

I decided that for January I wasn’t going to be picky in terms of what I did for my daily craft time. For the month it was basically the color-by-number pictures on the kindle. I downloaded an app last fall, and I usually color at least two to five pictures a day (and I have also realized that this is one thing I need to cut back on slightly). I also managed to get a little photography done with the iPhone–but that has been the extent of my photography so far for 2021.

Finish at least two other e-courses from list

I watched three other short ‘e-courses’ off of Skillshare and they were:

Powerful storytelling today: strategies for crafting great content

3 ways often overlooked to get traffic to your blog

Finding your inner creative

Mini-reviews for the three courses can be found on the review of December 2020’s Cancer Full Moon Goals.

So I was able to basically meet all my goals for January. Though I need to work on the timing for a few of them. While I enjoy reading (and do it daily), I need to block out time throughout the week to also work on various e-courses. My current method is to look at the calendar, slightly freak out at the date, and then try to see how many e-courses I can get done over say a forty-eight hour period.

Moving forward this year, I’ve realized that I do need to prioritize my health (mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual) ahead of almost everything else–for the simple reason I usually put myself last in terms of most things. If I’m going to be able to transition to industry (or even start going freelance/remote/independent)–I need to ensure that I’m taking care of myself.

With that thought being at the forefront of all my decisions moving forward I’ve decided that the goals for February will include:

At least 120-140,000 steps

Finishing up Muscle Burns Fat Advance and starting Barre Blend

Read (or finish) 2 non-fiction books from list (and hopefully post reviews within the same month)

Read 3 fiction books (again, hopefully posting reviews within same month)

Finishing up the MWO (blocking out the time needed to work through the assignments), and finishing either the Clinical Research Coalition or the Regulatory Affairs Council program–bonus if I can complete all three

No Spend days/No spend week/Limited Spending month

Time outdoors & meditation/sitting quietly

Daily craft time (with trying something new at least once a week)

Finishing at least two other e-courses from list

While continuing to remind myself: “Progress over Perfection”, “You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one”, and “Not caring what other people think is the best choice you will ever make”.

In addition keeping my five words for 2021 at the front as well: growth, creativity, curiosity, happiness, and prosperity.

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Leo Full Moon Goals: Making total health a priority, in addition to other goals

So tonight marks the first full moon of 2021. We survived 2020, and while I was questioning if 2020 stole a couple of weeks from 2021–I’m confident that we’ll survive 2021 as well. I missed a few months of new and full moon goal setting throughout 2020–and I will basically blame that on the pandemics (both the SARS-CoV2 and the ever rampant stupidity pandemic) for missing them. I have realized that when I do take the time to reflect on the questions for the full moon, or the other activities one can do during the new moon–I feel a little calmer (at least for a day or two).

I decided that instead of having a single word to try to define 2021, I would have several and picked: growth, creativity, curiosity, happiness, and prosperity. In addition, I’m working on refining my core values and merging them with my strengths while working on strengthening a weakness or two.

What are some questions to reflect on during the first few days of the full moon? According to “Moonology: working with the magic of the lunar cycles” by Yasmin Boland, they are:

Have I been too self-centered, egotistical, or proud?

Have I been treating the people around me like minions?

Have I been arrogant, vain, pushy, or pompous?

Have I been expressing myself creatively enough?

Have I shown myself enough self-love?

If I were to number the above questions 1-5, my answers would be as followed:

  1. After last year, I think I can safely say that I haven’t been self-centered or egotistical really about anything. But I can say that I’m proud that I survived the year without having any type of major mental breakdowns. Though over the past year, I have defended my beliefs in everything from wearing masks and social distancing to why I think schools should be taught virtual–defending those stances did upset some people, and several have un-friended me on Facebook. But I’ve gotten to the point where I have very little time and energy for certain types of people.
  2. No, I haven’t been treating the people around me like minions. I live at home with my parents currently–there are no minions here.
  3. Again, nope I haven’t been arrogant, vain, pushy, or pompous. People will probably say that I’m usually the opposite of quite a few of those adjectives.
  4. No, I haven’t been expressing myself creatively enough lately. While I have been trying to write more posts for the blog, it has been a little too chilly for walks at Boomer Lake (while I know I can bundle up–I’m more worried about the temperatures, condensation, and possibly wrecking a $600 digital camera that I currently can’t afford to replace). I am going to be trying my hand at cross-stitching, plus I’ve come up with an idea or two for trying to mend the afghans that my pup chewed holes in.
  5. Again, this one is basically a no, that I haven’t been showing myself enough self-love. While I’ve been sticking with a consistent workout schedule for the past eight months–I still need to work on improving my mental, spiritual, emotional, and social health habits. Over the past few months, I’ve realized that I’m just starting to come out of the total and complete burnout that I was keeping myself immersed in for years (more on this in another post). I’m working on ways to process and deal with stress (that don’t revolve around eating chocolate constantly), reconstructing the negative self-talk, plus trying to acknowledge and work with my inner critic/anxiety instead of against it. I’ve also decided that I’m still keeping the word diet out of my vocabulary and working on improving my relationship with food.

So a good portion of this year is still going to be focused on self-care/love. This will still include a daily workout (my current year schedule will be finishing up Muscle Burns Fat Advance in the early part of February, then on to Barre Blend, then the live versions of 21-Day Fix/21-Day Fix Extreme, a 3rd round of LIIFT4, a 2nd round of Morning Meltdown 100, a 2nd round of 10 rounds, and then finishing the year with either Country Heat or CIZE), evening meditations, oracle/tarot card readings, listening to podcasts, reading, journaling, time outdoors, and just trying to reconnect with my inner spirit/voice.

Looking at my chart–the Leo full moon is also going through my 10th house (or my career zone). I’m still considering myself on a semi-‘reboot break’ (since 2020 took all my plans and threw them out the window with the pandemic)–but I do need to start trying to figure out what I’m doing with the second half of my life.

I have a couple of ideas bouncing around in my head in terms of possible paths, but I need to do a little more research to make sure that those ideas/paths will let me focus on my strengths (learner, intellection, input, achiever, deliberative/ideation/arranger, creativity, curiosity, and critical thinking), while also improving one or two of my ‘weaknesses’. In addition I want to ensure that the paths, plus my strengths are also connected to my values (vitality, spirituality/inner harmony/peace, creativity/curiosity, learning/knowledge, and evolution/growth/transformation/openness)–some of which are identical to some of my strengths.

I’ve put health (mental, physical, and spiritual) as core values–because I’ve learned the hard way that trying to focus solely on my career lead me to becoming burnt out on everything. I’ve only started rediscovery my joy of learning, reading on different topics, and other things over the past six to eight months. I won’t say that I’m back to ‘normal’ yet–because I’m not. But I’m slowly getting there–but to fully get there I also need to prioritize my health above all else, or I will fall back to the bottom of the pit of burnout again if I neglect them.

So what are my goals for the Leo full moon?

  1. Continue with my fitness schedule–to begin with finish up Muscle Burns Fat Advance and then move on to Barre Blend.
  2. Write down the current ideas I have for going freelance/independent/remote, in addition to also seeing what other industry positions may be of interest, plus figure out other ways of earning a little extra income
  3. Spend time working on crafts–and doing more than just color-by number. I’m talking learning to cross-stitch, patch up the afghans, making jewelry, doodling, coloring, and once the weather warms up–getting back up to Boomer Lake with my camera.
  4. Meditating, oracle card readings, reading different books on spirituality, and hopefully finally setting up my altar for doing my card readings.

All of this while reminding myself: “Progress over Perfection”, “You can’t start the next chapter of your life, if you keep re-reading the last one”, and “Not caring what other people think is the best choice you will ever make”.

No Comments AstrologycareerCraftsfinancesfitnessFull Moon GoalsHealthno spend challengesPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentRebootBreakReflectionsspirituality

Reflections on last month’s Cancer Full Moon Goals

So tomorrow is going to be the first full moon of 2021. That means that there will only be three days left in January, 232 days until my 41st birthday, and a little over 11 months left in 2021. Also it’s been a wild January, and I’m hoping that once we hit say March (since I know that February is also going to be a little nuts), things start to mellow a little.

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

The goals for the Cancer full moon included:

Doing both a nightly tarot/oracle card reading and meditating nightly (even if its only for two or three minutes)

Updating various goal posts (150+goals in 2002 days; Level 10 life)

Develop a fluid schedule/planner

Make the lists of non-fiction books to read in 2021 and e-courses to finish in 2021

Read at least one personal/professional development book

Finish at least one more mini personal/professional development e-course

Renew a professional membership

So how did I do with each of them?

In terms of the night tarot/oracle card readings and meditation time–I’ve managed to this nightly. Currently, for January I’ve been using Nature’s Whisper Oracle card deck for my readings (review of the cards coming at some point this spring). I usually then try to sit and reflect on the cards for a few minutes before heading to bed–though the time frame can still use some work.

In terms of updating various goal posts–I drew out a new Level 10 life for starting 2021, and I’m slowly updating the 150+goals in 2002 days (update coming soon, when I reach 200 days into the challenge). In addition, I decided that for this year I was going to do ‘resolutions’ as a bingo card. I also made a two-to-three-year fitness bingo card as well (stretching from 2021 to 2023).

The fluid schedule/planner is still needing fine tuning, as I’ve realized I need to figure out how to balance being overly busy with extremely lazy (I seem to swing from one extreme to the other, and I need to find a way to just hang in the middle). Better time and project management are major goals for this year.

I made my list of non-fiction books to read and my list of e-courses to finish this year. While I have a low-ball number picked for both (~30 non-fictions books and ~20 e-courses), the lists have basically almost three times the number listed, giving me a good selection to chose from throughout the year.

I managed to finish two non-fiction books so far this month and they were:

Secrets of Six Figure Women: Surprising strategies to up your earnings and change your life by Barbara Stanny (review coming soon)

Badass Habits: cultivate the awareness, boundaries, and daily upgrades you need to make them stick by Jen Sincero (review coming soon)

I’m also currently reading: Burnout: the secret to unlocking the stress cycle by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski

In terms of finishing ‘e-courses’, I managed to finish several this month. The first one was Listen to Your Body Method. This was a personal development coaching class that went through various personal development topics such as listening to ones intuition/inner voice, self-compassion, values, purpose, and setting boundaries. As our coach said–these are things that we should always be working on, that there really isn’t a one and one with the course, but we finished our weekly calls mid-month. Now I need to continue working things.

I also watch a couple of short courses on Skillshare over the weekend, and they included:

Powerful storytelling today: strategies for crafting great content. Rate 4/5

This short course was about a half-hour long, and I felt it was crafted more for established entrepreneurs, bloggers, and social media experts. While I did find the course to be helpful, it may be awhile before I can use the tips from the course. The rating was because I felt the title was slightly misleading.

3 ways often overlooked to get traffic to your blog Rate 4/5

This was another short course (about twenty minutes or so) and quickly covered three topics:

Google Adwords–to help you choose your key words(s) or phrase(s) for your blog and content

Suggesting that you should probably aim to put out at least 1 large article/post (~1500 words) compared to shorter articles, plus embedding in an audio transcript for the article as well.

The final suggestion was making use of pintrest.

My takeaways: I know that larger articles at time get more views and visitors to the blog (depending on the topic and where it is shared), I do make use of pintrest (just not as much as I should), and will be looking at both Google Adwords and possibly embedding in an audio transcript (once I find an application that is easy to use to create them). The rating was based on how short the course was.

The final short course that I watched was Finding Your Inner Creative. Rate 4.5/5

This was another thirty-forty minute course with suggestions for different ways to connecting to one’s inner creative. Unlike the other two short courses, this one actually had ‘assignments’ at the end of various videos–which I am going to be incorporating into my schedule over the next week or so. I did find this course to be insightful, especially the exercises (which I will give more details on once I’ve completed them).

I haven’t renewed a professional membership yet for a couple of reasons: 1) it is too expensive to renew all of them at the same time (four to five memberships at ~$150 each–that is ~$750), and I can’t afford that right now. The second reason is that I haven’t decided which membership is more beneficial and pressing to my career transition. Hopefully I will be deciding by April or May, which professional membership will be the most beneficial.

So I managed to basically meet all the goals (with the exception of the last one), for the most part. Though I will admit, that the completion of the goals isn’t at a nice steady pace–some get done quicker than other, and some were done over the entire period (such as oracle card readings/meditating/reading books). But I feel like I’m on a slightly more solid foundation for starting 2021 than I was for starting 2020.

Here is to 2021 being calmer, more productive, more at ease, and less anxiety/worry than 2020 was. Also I’m still basically using the same quotes for 2021 that I did for 2020, and they are: “Progress over Perfection”, “You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one”, and “Not caring what other people think is the best choice you will ever make”.

No Comments AstrologyBooksFull Moon GoalsPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

The ‘microscopic’ edition: recapping Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

So I mentioned earlier that a good portion of January became hectic, to the point that I didn’t get quite as much finished as originally planned.

This meant I was behind on my science news round-ups. I’m hoping that my schedule is back on track, and that it will become a weekly post (but definitely a biweekly post) starting again this week.

Since I missed a week, this week’s post is a combination of recaps of articles I’ve read over the past two weeks (I decided I would only recap 3 articles this week).

Currently I’ve just been reading and sharing articles from Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, though I may start at least reading news from other sites to share here as well. As I mentioned in my first post, their site is updated Monday-Friday with new articles, and if you subscribe to their site you can get their daily newsletter (which is what I do).

So again–this is going to be a fairly long post, probably somewhere between a ten and fifteen minute read.

The first article I want to recap is “Tomoplasma gondii linked to brain tumor”.

The protozoan, Toxoplasma gondii, is one of the world’s most common parasites and is the causative agent of Toxoplasmosis. It has been estimated that approximately 11% of the US population over the age of six has been infected at one point with Toxoplasma gondii.

Colored image of the Toxoplasma gondii protozoan (c)istockphotos credit: Dr_Microbe

We come into contact with Toxoplasma gondii, through either under cooked infected meats, infected cat feces (as cats are a host for the protozoan), or it is passed from mother to child during pregnancy.

After entering the human body, the protozoan forms cysts within various tissues including the skeletal tissue, the heart, brain, and eyes. Depending on how old a person is when they come into contact with Toxoplasma and the strength of their immune system, the cysts may remain throughout the individual’s lifetime.

Toxoplasma now been linked with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, epilepsy, and various cancers. One group of researchers decided to look to see if there could be a linnk between parasite infection/cyst formation and the possible risk of developing glioma brain tumors.

The researchers published their paper “Toxoplasma gondii infection and the risk of adult glioma in two prospective studies” in the International Journal of Cancer. I have not read teh paper–because it is behind a pay wall (hopefully it will be freely available at some point over the next year).

Their reasoning to look at brain cancer, is that the brain tissue is one of the tissues that hte parasite tends to favor in terms of cyst formation. Glioma, is a rare (but fatal) neurological cancer. It is the most common primary brain tumor, though it can occur at any age and part of the central nervous system where the glial cells are found.

Approximately 80% of malignant brain tumors are gliomas, with a very low five-year survival rate of only five percent.

The scientists were wanting to see if there was any correlation between having been exposed to the Toxoplasma parasite at some point in life and development of glioma tumors later in life.

The two groups that they looked at showed that there could be a possible correlation between infection with the parasite and development of glioma tumors. They stated though that a larger and more diverse number of cases were needed to to see if the findings (presence of antibodies against the surface antigens of the parasite) are reproducible.

If the findings are reproducible looking at larger and more diverse groups, then reducing exposure to the parasite could be an easy way to help prevent the development of these highly aggressive and lethal brain tumors. Though it does need to be stressed that exposure to Toxoplasma gondii isn’t the only possible cause for the development of the tumors.

The second article I read was “Dengue virus blocking antibody indentified”

Dengue fever is caused by a flavivirus, carried by mosquitoes, and infects somewhere between 50 and 100 million people per year. Therefore finding a treatment(s) or a vaccine is needed, and is something that scientists have been working on for some time.

3-D image of Dengue Virus. (c) Image created by Kateryna Kon

One of the major problems is that there are four different strains of the virus, and being infected with one strain (and building an immunity to it) doesn’t mean you’re protected from the other strains. In fact, it is just the opposite–building the immunity against one, actually makes you more vulnerable to infection from one of the other three strains.

The research group published their paper “Structural basis for antibody inhibition of flavivirus NS1-triggered endothelial dysfunction” in Science. Since I don’t remember if I have a password for the journal or not, I haven’t read the paper yet (it isn’t behind a pay wall per say, but you do need an account with the journal to read it).

It has been shown that the dengue virus has a specific protein (NS1 or non-structural protein 1) that it uses to attach to endothelial cells around organs. This protein helps weaken cellular membranes and allows the virus to enter the cells. The weakening of cellular membranes and movement of the virus may also lead to the rupture of blood vessels.

The research group found that an antibody that would physically block NS1 from being able to attach to other cells. Therefore helping to slow the spread of the virus. This is an important discovery, due to the fact the antibody is against the protein and not the coding sequence. This means that it should be effective against all four strains of the dengue virus (the physical structure of the NS1 protein should be similar enough for the antibody to recognize it).

If shown to be effective against all four strains of the dengue virus, and if it gets into (and through) clinical trials, it would mean that there is at least one possible treatment for dengue fever. It would also open the door to looking at other flavivirus diseases (such as Zika or West Niles) to see if an antibody against their surface binding proteins would also be effective or not.

The final article I want to recap is “Taurine enhances the microbiome’s resistance to future pathogens”

There has been a wealth of research done over the years that show our microbiome in our gut plays a role in just about every part of our day-to-day lives, and can be connected to numerous different diseases and conditions (though more research still needs to be done to show that the microbiome is playing a significant role whatever the disease or condition is).

So one of the problems when we develop a bacterial infection, is that the antibiotic treatment doesn’t just get rid of the bad bacteria, it also gets rid of some of the good bacteria in our gut. This is one reason, why now doctors suggest that you eat yogurt that is fortified with the ‘good’ bacteria to help recolonize your gut as you’re taking your antibiotics.

Therefore, a key area of research now in infectious disease is to find alternatives to antibiotics for treating bacterial infections–but hopefully not harm our native gut microbiome.

It has recently been shown that taurine (an amino sulfonic acid, it is derived from cysteine), which is found in foods such as meats, fish, and eggs could help enhance the protection of the gut by the native microbiome.

Taurine biosynthesis. Image (c)

Taurine is also a molecule that we can make ourselves from the amino acid cysteine (see above image). Taurine can be found in the brain, retina, muscle tissues, and in bile acids. The presence of taurine in the bile acids helps up digest fats and oils in our gut.

The group published their paper “Infection trains the host for microbiota-enhanced resistance to pathogens” in the journal Cell. Hopefully it will be freely available to read within a year.

When present in high enough concentration in the gut, it helps the microbes produce excess amounts of sulfides to prevent any cellular respiration from occurring in the gut. By helping to prevent cellular respiration, it helps to then prevent the colonization of invasive bacterial pathogens that rely on cellular respiration to replicate and invade neighboring cells/tissues.

Their research showed that even an small initial infection can be enough to induce taurine production (bile acids), which then led to the increase in population of certain bacterial species in the gut. If a second infection (same or similar bacteria) occurred, the microbiome was quicker to react. But treating the animal with an over the counter medication (one to say soothe an upset stomach, deal with diarrhea or even indigestion), was enough to actually allow the pathogenic bacteria to colonize the gut by removing sulfide producing bacteria in the gut.

This also shows that we should take into consideration our own microflora when taking over the counter medications–because you never know when you could possibly come down with food poisoning or some other bacterial infection.

So that wraps up this week’s Science News Round-Up. I could have covered quite a few more articles, but decided that three to four articles is a good number, especially if I can get a good variety in the articles. I think that going from protozoan parasites, to viruses, to bacteria was a good choice this week–it kept everything at the microscopic level (more or less).

Again, let me know what you think of the post–too much scientific jargon still? Is there something that you would like me to cover in more detail? Do you have a specific site you go to read science news on?

Image References:

Image of Toxoplasma gondii again is from; image credit: Dr_microbe

Image of Dengue virus again is from; image credit: Kateryna Kon

Image of taurine biosynthesis is from the following site:

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Stepping back from being an Beachbody independent coach/consultant

So I had mentioned previously that I had decided back in December that I had stepped back from being an independent fitness coach/consultant for Beachbody.

The reasons for this decision are both simple but complex.

Though before getting into my reasons: I should also mention that Beachbody doesn’t guarantee that coaches will automatically earn money–you have to put the time and effort into the process.

So the first reason is that I’m not the biggest sharer of personal things on social media (though I had shared some of my progress pictures in the past)–therefore I wasn’t doing one of the main caveats of coaching–sharing my story.

This is because in part over the past couple of years, my weight has swayed back up and I have regained the weight I had lost prior to becoming a coach/consultant.

The weight gain was in part due to me dealing with a moderate level of depression the past few years (2018 was the capstone year for depression), and pretty much went into survival mode. One mistake I had made was not reaching out for help from other coaches that I knew. I didn’t want to share my issues, I didn’t want to burden others–I’ve learned over the past year or so–there is no shame is asking someone if they can listen, or if they can give you some advice on something.

That is one key take away I’m trying to take forward with me–that it is okay to ask for help when you need it, and it isn’t a sign of weakness asking for help–but a sign of strength.

But, since I wasn’t sharing my story, I wasn’t gaining customers–and without customers purchasing Beachbody products and improving their lives through my pages–I wasn’t earning any money. I was actually losing a little money monthly.

The second reason–is that I’m trying not mend my relationship with food. While proper nutrition is important for weight loss/management–neither of their nutrition programs seem to to be the right fit for me. I’m tired of trying to always count my calories/macros/colored containers, and while I’m trying to drink more water throughout the day–I don’t like being told when I should be drinking water and that half my plate is suppose to be veggies.

The third reason–is that I have never bought into the whole organic, non-GMO, gluten-free diet/nutrition mindset. True, I have bought (and do still occasionally buy) items that are labeld non-GMO or organic, but I usually just shake my head at the marketing strategy.

The list of GMO plants (as of 2019) include:

Maize (corn)–15 varieties

Soybean–8 varieties

Cotton–10 varieties

Canola–3 varieties

Cowpea–1 variety

Arctic Fuji Apples–1 variety

Sugarcane–2 varieties

The time and effort that go into producing GMO plants is extremely long–we’re talking at a minimum of 2 to 4 years, but usually much longer (depending on the flowering/germination rate of the plant).

Therefore, scientists put a lot of time and effort into generating a crop that has a single change in a gene that will extend it’s life, improve the crop, or help to start reducing the amount of water needed for it.

So truthfully–labeling items ‘non-GMO’ is a marketing scheme. Companies realize that we’re willing to part with more money for ‘organic’ or ‘non-modified’ items. Hate to break to everyone–humans have been ‘modifying’ plants and animals since we started doing agriculture (that is the very basis of getting better crops and animals). ‘Organic’ food is actually worse for the environment than GMO plants because it takes more land to grow the same amount of food.

So while I don’t buy into the reasons for ‘non-GMO’/’organic’ labeling and pushes, I will probably still end up purchasing products labeled that way because there may not be any other options on the market.

So to sum up my leaving independent coaching/consulting–while I share on social media I don’t share much, and therefore it isn’t easy to build a large fitness following. I was tired of losing the little money monthly (and currently need that money elsewhere). I’m mending my relationship with food, and I don’t want to be measuring, counting, or weighting anything (and that includes myself). Finally–I just got tired of seeing so much ‘non-GMO’/’organic’/’all-natural’/lets cut calories/need to do this to burn that off crap throughout my various social media channels.

I’m still a Beachbody customer–I’m keeping my on-demand subscription to have access to all the workouts. I’ve actually been a Beachbody customer for decades, and have nothing bad to say about them–these were my reasons/decisions for stepping away from the coaching side of their company.

Everyone’s fitness and nutrition journey is different–some don’t mind sharing their ups and downs with the world. I’m a little more private, which at times makes it a little harder to build up a consistent following.

While I will probably still be sharing my fitness/nutrition journey, it may just be a little more sporadic with very few pictures or measurements or things like that.

Reference for list of GMO plants:—34089.htm

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