Category: Reflections

Brief Hiatus Again

Well I think it’s been almost a week since I’ve done anything on the blog. Not through a lack of motivation–but just feeling slightly blah. So, I decided that I’d take another short break and hopefully get enough creative juice flowing again to avoid another hiatus (at least until the beginning of the year).

One of the things that I’ve been thinking on is that my birthday was last week, and I’m basically a week into my last year of my thirties. This means that I really need to figure out what the hell I want to accomplish in the next basically fifty one weeks before I start my fourth decade on earth.

I have several ideas–and there will be at least three or four posts on the subject (the introduction post and then possibly at least one follow-up on each sub-topic in the post). These will be in addition to the photography challenge, working on my reboot break (personal and professional development), and starting to go slightly minimalism in possessions.

I will also be trying to do more posts on other topics as well: self-care, spirituality, crafts, and things like that. I’ve realized that in addition to making a long list of different topics for the blog–I need to figure out the best time to sit and write (at least the first drafts of different posts), then edit and then post–in other words, I am still working on my time management skills.

So, I will hopefully be back to posting daily pictures (though the first one may be a composite of numerous photographs to get back on track), and then hopefully up to three or four other posts per week starting this weekend.

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August: Month in Review

Well August is officially over, and there are only 122 days left in the year. I’m also a day late in posting this as well. As I’m writing this I realize that my birthday is now in less than three weeks, and then I will be looking down my last year of my thirties. I also realized that I fell short on some of the goals for August.

There is only a month left in the third quarter of the year, and while that is scary, depressing, and slightly invigorating—I’ve realized that is just how time goes now—in an instant. Though there is still the fourth quarter of the year, and I’m thinking that is where some of the change is going to take place, and the seeds for change in 2020 will be planted.

August goals were basically the same goals that I’ve had for the past few months, including the goal of working on my “reboot break” plan.

The goals for August included:

At least 434,000 steps

Continuing with the photography challenge

Reading (or finishing) at least 3 non-fiction books

Working on my “reboot break”

Aim for two weeks of no spending (keeping a money log)

Get back into a workout schedule (either a full program or a hybrid program between two different programs).

Work on creating more content for the blog (and potentially posts for linkedin).

Work on getting in a routine of reading business & scientific articles.

So how did I do with each one?

At least 434,000 steps

            I was down less than 9,000 steps for the month of August—my final total was 425,266 steps. This was mainly due to the hot temperatures on the weekends, and me not getting my steps in on those days (plus one or two days during the week, when I fell short as well). Though for the year I’m at 3,579,549 steps, which means that to get to 5 million—I only need to aim for a little over 11,500 steps a day. So, I think it is safe to say that I’m going to make the goal of 5 million steps. It is nice to see that by the time I take my reboot break, I don’t necessarily have to aim for 14,000 steps a day (though I probably will—just so I’m not constantly sitting on my butt).

Continuing with the photography challenge

            I took a week off from the photography challenge this month. This was partially due to the heat and not having done a walk for a week or two (therefore I felt like I was running low on photographs to share), and partially due to my mood—I just wasn’t in a good mind space that week.

Reading (or finishing) at least 3 non-fiction books

            I managed to finish one book this month and it was “The Self-Care Prescription: Powerful solutions to manage stress, reduce anxiety, and increase well-being” by Robyn Gobin.

            One thing that I have realized is that while having a kindle is nice—all your books are at your fingertips, at the same time it can be detrimental if you bounce between books a lot (like I do at times). There are numerous books that I’ve started to read in terms of personal/professional development and then I decided I wanted to read something else. So now I’m actually going to go back to some of those books and start from the beginning, as it’s been at least six weeks (if not longer) since I read anything from that particular book.

Working on my “reboot break”

            I have an idea of how the first few weeks will go—as those are the weeks that I’m going to dedicate to getting my storage unit in order and starting to try to get rid of things (either selling or donating).

            As I had posted earlier, I’m thinking that the first week (and it will probably be the week of Thanksgiving) will look a little like this:

                        Get up, have a cup of coffee (or tea), and feed the dogs

                        Go for a morning walk at Boomer Lake (morning zen time and photography time)

                        Breakfast, shower (probably), then to the storage unit to rearrange and/or repack boxes

                        Home for lunch

                        Computer time: **Make use of apps that allow blocking of certain sites for a certain time frame (remove social media temptation—mainly facebook & instagram).

                                    At least one e-course (I have numerous ones bought covering a wide range of topics)

                                    Read/share at least two articles from a biotech/biopharma news site on Linkedin and twitter

                                    Spend at least forty minutes responding to messages and/or sending out connection requests on linkedin

                                    Spend at least thirty minutes reading through other people’s posts on linkedin, and hopefully commenting on at least two or three of them.

                                    Read for an hour (personal/professional development) and journal for an hour (answering questions from personal/professional development book)

                                    Workout

                                    Feed the animals

                                    Dinner and evening routine

            Then after getting my storage unit in order, and other things taken care of I can use that time for other things (such as craft time, or more reading/journaling time). This is one thing I’m hoping to improve upon during my reboot break—time management and spending time doing things that I enjoy and things I need to do.

            I’ve realized that I’m not aiming for “balance” per say—just having the ability to say today is a day that I need more “me” time or today is a day that will be heavy workwise, therefore after work this is going to be my recharge plan. It has taken me almost thirty-nine years to realize that I really never have had that type of “balance”—I go all out one way or the other, and therefore it isn’t surprising that I’m basically burnt out on life.

Aim for two weeks of no spending (keeping a money log)

            I think I managed about one day a week of not spending money on campus. I’ve gotten into the bad habit again of going to the student union at lunch and grabbing candy (my excuse is that it’s a walk to help me get in my steps). Hopefully other than a few scheduled purchases (such as pre-ordered books, one lunch out with friends, and one order from Amazon), I can avoid spending money this month.

            I don’t see spending money as bad—but considering what I’m currently buying (namely candy)—I think that I should try to cut back on that spending. Now if I end up buying some fruit or veggies to snack on while on campus—I will make note, but still try to avoid “careless” spending (i.e. spending money on things that I could very well bring from home).

Get back into a workout schedule (either a full program or a hybrid program between two different programs).

            This is one thing that I’m struggling with currently. There have been new “hours” required at work (they’re not really new, but they’re very concrete—can’t leave until basically 5 pm on the dot), which has messed up my evening routine and I have yet to get into the groove of a new one. Hopefully this is something that I can get straightened out over the next few months.

Work on creating more content for the blog (and potentially posts for linkedin).

            Well, other than the photography challenge (and I took a week off from that), and a few other posts—I didn’t get that much content created for the blog, and none that would be shared via linkedin.

            I realize that sharing things via linkedin, they’ll be more of the scientific posts (and I don’t have that many of those done), plus I haven’t decided on the niche/area I would like to focus on. Though to be truthful, for the blog I can be a little more of a jack-of-all-trades, but they would need a central theme.

Work on getting in a routine of reading business & scientific articles.

            I have read several articles on biotech/biopharma business pages, and even shared them on linkedin and twitter. It isn’t totally consistent—but it is a start. I’m still trying to figure out my niche, as everything/one has said that it is better to be an expert than a jack-of-all-trades (which is what I currently consider myself).

            This is currently one of the problems I’m having with my transition plan—trying to narrow down what it is I want to do with my life. One thing I’ve realized over the years—once I master a skill, I start to get bored. Therefore I’m going to need to choose an area, where I will be challenged consistently, and that could even mean working my way up the ladder—more responsibility, more challenges. Or, I may need to look towards smaller companies, where I may wear more than one “hat” in terms of responsibilities.

Therefore the goals for September will include:

At least 420,000 steps

Continue with the photography challenge

Determine some type of workout routine (hopefully more than just walking)

Aim for two weeks of no spending (keep money log)

Read 3 non-fiction books

Continue working on the reboot/pause plan

Try to set up a monthly calendar (getting organize) for various things

Continue reading on various industry websites and sharing interesting articles via linkedin/twitter. Plus notes for weekly recap on the blog

Keep reminding myself: Progress over perfection, and that I shouldn’t fear failure, but fear being in the same place next year as I am today.

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Mini hiatus on the Photography challenge this week (short post)

So I’ve realized that I haven’t done a photograph posting since Tuesday (and that was in fact for Monday). So instead of trying to do a triple posting and make up for it–I’m going to be honest and say that I’m on a mini hiatus from the challenge this week.

This is in part due to the hot weather. Since it has been hot and humid, I haven’t done a full walk on the weekend for a couple of weeks–and that means that I’m running low on pictures to post. That’s not to say that I don’t have pictures–but I’m trying to avoid doing multiple postings of the same theme.

It’s also due in part to my mood–I’ve been in a so-so mood (not totally down and feeling depressed, but also not in the most happy go lucky moods either). This is due in part to the fact that fall is coming soon and I’d hoped to have my life somewhat planned out by now (at least narrowed down the industry sector(s) and hopefully had a few informational interviews by now). It’s also due to the fact that in less than two months now–it will be the one year anniversary of losing both Piranha and Chewi.

I realize that I need to look for the sliver lining in each day, and should probably write in my journal more often than what I’ve been doing. I also realize that I can try to do photography during the week, especially on my lunch break–but right now that is a no go (see above for the weather).

Photography has been and is becoming an hobby again–I just need to make time for it during the week and not just regulate it to the weekends. It may also be one of the few things that helps keep me on an even keel when I start my reboot break and refocus on my job search/transition in the spring.

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Reflections Part 1: The years since getting my PhD

As I stared at the calendar wondering how it could be August already, I realized that in a little over a month I’ll be staring down my last year of my thirties.

So I’ve decided that I’m going to start looking back on the past nine years or so (since I’ve earned my PhD), and look at what was good and bad–but also what lessons I can now take from those years. So my first reflection is on the twisting road I’ve taken through academia, and realizing that I need to reboot and plan for my industry transition.

I realized that it has been nine years since I finished graduate school—I had made a promise to myself that I would have my graduate degree before (or shortly after) my thirtieth birthday. I managed to keep that promise—I defended a little over two months before my birthday, and I got my diploma before the end of the year. I then spent the next two years out in the Boston area.

Being out in the Boston area for a little over two years was a mix bag of both good and bad—it was good in that I made new friendships (that I’ve been trying to maintain online, as I haven’t been back there as often as I would have liked), experienced living on my own, well away from having a family security net, and started to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Though on the flip side, the bad included: my postdoctoral position ending on a extreme sour note, unintentionally giving my dog an anxiety/separation disorder, and at the end of the time—being in heavily in debt and emotionally bankrupt.

I came back home to get my financial and emotional feet back on steady ground—and it’s taken quite a few years to accomplish those feats—almost seven to be exact. I am no longer heavily in debt (my monthly debt now can be paid off each month), and I’m still working on getting my emotional/spiritual reserves filled up.

During the past six and a half years, I’ve held three different positions within my alma mater department, at my alma mater. I started with a post-doc position (this was fairly smooth compared to my first, though any situation can head south when funding becomes an issue), then after a brief unemployment period I got a staff position helping with undergraduate research (this as a little over three years; ended again because of funding), and then after yet another unemployment period I got my most current staff position.

In total over the past nine years (since getting my PhD)—I’ve been unemployed probably a total of nine (maybe ten) months—which averages out to about a month per year. But also over the past nine years—I’ve taken jobs that may not have been the best fit for me (first postdoc, and most current position) because of the fact I needed a job and income.

This is one of the main reasons why I’m so adamant about doing my reboot break/pause towards the end of the year and into the beginning of next year—I need to figure out what it is I want to do with my life. I’ve learned little things over the past nine years in terms of what I can put up with, what I can’t put up with, and what I would like in the next job.

For starters, I miss working as part of a team—or at least being around other people with whom I could have conversations with during the day. In my current position, we’re in a secure facility (so unless you have access, you can’t get in), and there aren’t that many people in the facility (five in total, counting myself; though there are two graduate students—but they aren’t actually within the facility (in other words they don’t work in the inner lab). I miss being able to talk with people while I’m doing things or inquiring what they’re doing (and learning a little at the same time). I’ve also realized that I don’t do well with micromanagers (and this is something that I will need to inquire with people about during informational interviews), and overbearing colleagues.

I also miss doing actual research at the bench, but at the same time—is that how I really feel or is it because that is all I’ve ever done? This is something that I will need to see how I feel during and after my reboot break—also this is a good informational interview question for people who have moved away from the bench—do they miss doing research?

I don’t mind doing an occasional long day or working a weekend in lab—as long as I’m compensated for it (in other words having a good income), and knowing that it isn’t expected daily. I also want to be within a group, that once someone apologizes for a mistake, the apology is accepted and everyone moves on—it isn’t harped upon constantly. Also I don’t want to be within a company where there is someone watching the clock to make sure that people are leaving exactly at a certain time (say 5 o’clock on the dot)—if you get in a little early, you should be able to leave a little early—but if you need to stay a little late, you’re allowed to stay a little late. In other words—I want a job with a little flexibility on the work hours.

Life shouldn’t be all work and no play, just like it shouldn’t be all play and no work—there should be a point where things are somewhat balanced—there is time for both work and play, but that balance is different for each of us, and each need to find it on their own.

Hopefully during the reboot break, I can work through various e-courses, interact more on Linkedin, network, set up informational interviews and actually decide on a direction to go–instead of wandering around a swamp with a lantern that is going to be going dark and risk falling into the swamp waters again (and possibly not escape this time).

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