Category: Year in Review

Looking back at the dumpster fire that was 2023

Okay…It’s Monday…and January…and 2024…I didn’t opened the letter last night that I wrote to myself the previous year…because I knew that nothing within that letter was able to happen last year…2023 was a shit-show…but life seems to be shit-show after shit-show..especially since the SARS-CoV2 virus showed up in 2020…

While I’ve gravitated towards the career pivot—building a freelance career that encompasses not science, health, and medical literacy/education—but crafts/hobbies and various aspects of personal/professional growth (health/wellness, finances, spirituality, and developing my own vision of not only minimalism but success)…a good portion of the world seems to have lost its damn mind…

2020 was when the SARS-CoV2 virus made it around the world…and created a pandemic that lasted for a few years. If we had competent leaders in 2020…I don’t think it would have swelled into such a problem…and was the initial spark for pivoting towards science/health/med comms.

I wanted to improve how findings/results and such were relied to the public…because public health should NEVER be politicized…when it becomes a ‘political’ issue…it means lives are lost…and it started the spiral. Everyone either lost a family member or friend, or knows of someone who lost someone to the pandemic…

Fall 2021…when we took our young boxer mix in for another allergy shot…and shortly thereafter found out she developed a rare side effect—hemolytic anemia. Jump forward to spring 2022—she’d been getting weaned from the immunosuppressant meds, her allergies kicked in…and we lost her to a relapse of the anemia…

Fall 2022…mom went into the hospital. She’d finally scared herself enough that she was finally willing to get an medical evaluation…what we thought was only going to be a few days—stretched into nine months…then two and half weeks in a skilled nursing facility getting a little more rehab; being home for less than a day before heading back into the hospital…only for her to pass in emergency surgery the following week (May 2023)…

June 2023…saw the loss of two animals (Pye and Boozer), and the adoption of Apep, our black-mouth cur mix dog. He’s somewhere between 60 and 75 pounds, way too smart for our own good, and lovable goof. He gets along with Chaos, and harasses the hell out of the cats.

September 2023…I’ve had better birthdays…we lost Waffles (our Russian Blue cat) on my birthday last year…which meant we’re currently down to one (Pancakes—my black cat), whose health is bouncing around okay and not great.

Then we come to October 2023…the month when the world lost it’s mind. Yes…whatever the hell happened on Oct 7th was horrible. BUT what has happened since has been nothing but GENOCIDE. Israel is systemically trying to wipe out (or drive out) the Palestinian people from both Gaza and the West Bank. As of today (Jan 1 2024) over 30,000 Palestinians are either dead or missing in Gaza, and over 57,000 are wounded. Hundreds have been killed in the West Bank, thousands injured, and thousands more ‘detained’ for questioning. 

While majority of the world has been demanding a ceasefire for the past two months…thanks to the US’s blind backing of Israel—the US ambassadors to the UN have vetoed any resolution within the Security Council that calls for an outright ceasefire. They abstained from voting on a extremely watered down humanitarian aid resolution last month.

We’re entering 2024 with numerous genocides being carried out around the world—and one being documented daily, but not stopped or condemned..and I wonder if it’s because the genocide isn’t happening on European soils this time??

When did ‘Never Again’ become ‘Everyday’, and ‘Never Again’ BUT only for ‘selected’ groups of individuals?

Since late October…I’ve realized that there are aspects of history that have been left out of books..whether they’re world history books (such as the Nakba of 1948), or state history books (such as the Tulsa Race Massacre or the Osage murders)…and now I have a goal of becoming a better informed global citizen. Which means I will probably be doing more current event posts within this blog–possibly a weekly recap of the news that I’m sharing daily on LinkedIn and Facebook.

One thing I had quit doing early last year—was my monthly reviews of the previous months. This was in part due to dealing with various things related to my mom being in the hospital, trying to keep my mental health on an even-keel and dealing with a thousand and one other things as well. I’m hoping to get back into do those reviews this year, as I managed to get back into do the new moon & full moon goals towards the end of the year. 

So what are some of the things I managed to get accomplish last year (even with everyone else losing their damn minds)? Well…I managed to read a good number of both fiction and non-fiction books:

Non-fiction:

  1. Madly, Deeply the diaries of Alan Rickman by Alan Rickman
  2. Creativity: A short & cheerful guide by John Cleese
  3. Innercise: The new science to unlock your brain’s hidden power by John Assaraf
  4. It’s okay that you’re not okay by Megan Devine
  5. Oracle Cards 101 by Sunny Johnson
  6. Survivors: The Animals & Plants that time left behind by Richard Foley
  7. Unfuck your brain: using science to get over anxiety, depression, anger, freakouts, and triggers by Faith Harper
  8. Monarchs of the Sea (The Extraordinary 500-million year history of cephalopods) by Danna Staaf
  9. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  10. How to GRASP Confidence and own your power by Tara LaFon Gooch
  11. Conquering your burnout-an actionable guide to overcome burnout by Veronica Llorca-Smith
  12. Beyond Beautiful: A practical guide to being happy, confidence, and you in a looks-obsessed world by Anuschka Rees
  13. Things No One will tell Fat Girls: an handbook for unapologetic living by Jes Baker
  14. Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundation of a Movement by Angela Y. Davis

Fiction:

  1. State of Bliss (First Family #6) by Marie Force
  2. Offside Hearts by Nikki Lawson
  3. Born to be Badger (Honey Badger Chronicles #5) by Shelly Laurenston
  4. Iced Out (Heston U #1) by Veronica Eden
  5. The Enforcer (Lakeside University Hockey #1) by Avery Keenan
  6. Jackson (Mercy Ring #1) by Nyssa Kathryn
  7. Declan (Mercy Ring #2) by Nyssa Kathryn
  8. Cole (Mercy Ring #3) by Nyssa Kathryn
  9. Ryker (Mercy Ring #4) by Nyssa Kathryn
  10. The Devil You Know by Veronica Eden
  11. Chase: and the girl who came back by Amber Davis
  12. Mine to Have (Southern Wedding #1) by Natasha Madison
  13. Mine to Hold (Southern Wedding #2) by Natasha Madison
  14. Mine to Cherish (Southern Wedding #3) by Natasha Madison
  15. Mine to Love (Southern Wedding #4) by Natasha Madison 
  16. Mine to Take (Southern Wedding #5) by Natasha Madison
  17. Mine to Promise (Southern Wedding #6) by Natasha Madison
  18. Mine to Honor (Southern Wedding #7) by Natasha Madison
  19. Someone to Love (Wild Widows #3) by Marie Force
  20. Spymaster (Dragon Knights #18) by Bianca D’Arc
  21. Too Close to Home by Abbie Zanders
  22. Where We Belong (Paradise Bay Billionaire Brothers #8) by Claudia Burgoa
  23. The Comeback Pact (Warner University Bullldogs #1) by E.M. Moore
  24. Varsity Series Box Set by Ginger Scott
  25. The Broken Vows by Catharina Maura
  26. Rules of the Game (Rule Breakers #2) by J. Wilder
  27. Rule Number Five (Rule Breakers #1) by J. Wilder
  28. The Temporary Wife by Catharina Maura
  29. The Wrong Bride by Catharina Maura
  30. The Unwanted Marriage by Catharina Maura
  31. Rule Breaker (Wild Card #1) by Nikki Hall
  32. State of Denial (First Family #5) by Marie Force
  33. Wicked Hearts (The Hearts of Swayers Bend #5) by Ivy Layne
  34. Billionaire Unreachable—Wyatt (California Billionaires #5) by J.S. Scott
  35. Finally Found You (Paradise Bay Billionaire Brothers #7) by Claudia Burgoa
  36. One Too Many (Truth in Lies #1) by Melody Anne & John Henley
  37. Two Secrets Kept (Truth in Lies #2) by Melody Anne & John Henley
  38. Three Outs (Truth in Lies #3) by Melody Anne & John Henley
  39. Four Seconds Gone (Truth in Lies #4) by Melody Anne & John Henley
  40. Five Goodbyes (Truth in Lies #5) by Melody Anne & John Henley
  41. Jasmine’s Homecoming (Anderson Heirs #3) by Melody Anne
  42. Forever Goals: Rixon High Epilogue by L.A. Cotton
  43. Hurricane After Dark (Gansett Island #26) by Marie Force
  44. Meant for Me (Paradise Bay Billionaire Brothers #6) by Claudia Burgoa
  45. How Much I Need (Miami Nights #5) by Marie Force
  46. Jacob’s Challenge (Anderson Heirs #2) by Melody Anne
  47. The Way of Us (Paradise Bay Billionaire Brothers #5) by Claudia Burgoa
  48. The Long & Winding Road (Butler VT #9) by Marie Force
  49. Truly You (Luna Harbor #4) by Claudia Burgoa
  50. Finding the Road to Us (Wilder Brothers #6) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  51. Best Friend Temptation (Montgomery Ink Legacy #4) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  52. Stay Here with Me (Wilder Brothers #5) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  53. Longtime Crush (Montgomery Ink Legacy #3) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  54. Love Under Two Rebels (Lusty, Texas #47) by Cara Covington
  55. Coming Home to Us (Wilder Brothers #3) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  56. Happily Ever Never (Montgomery Ink Legacy Novella) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  57. At First Meet (Montgomery Ink Legacy #2) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  58. Sweet Noel (Anderson Heirs #1) by Melody Anne

Yes…all fifty-eight of these books are romance (of some sub-genera)…but these are my go-to genera when I’m in a off mood, feeling blue, down, or whatever…and 2023 had more of the ‘negative’ emotions than it did of the ‘happy/positive’ emotions.

Fifty-eight fiction books read…and that number is a very small percent of the number of books that I bought last year, in addition to the number I downloaded on the ‘load your kindle with free books’ days…also fourteen non-fiction book read…also a very small percentage of my non-fiction book list (which grew by probably by a hundred books or so last year). A goal for 2024—not to add any books to the non-fiction list, and to read at least 24 of them; and not to randomly buy fiction books…work my way through the ones I have (plus the pre-orders). I know that there are a handful of authors that I’ll buy books from when they announce publication dates.

I know I worked through possibly a half a dozen e-courses (between Jan-March & then again in September)…I just didn’t really write down that those courses were (I think I downloaded a certificate or two of completion)…

I worked on crafts….finished several—including drawing/doodling, coloring and framing several large drawings:

Large colored & framed doodle…under the sea…my vision

Under the sea…version #2

Mix of dragon eyes and abstract faces

A large needlepoint:

Currently the largest abstract needlepoint project that I’ve finished.

Plus numerous doodles. I’ve also started working on a new afghan–and am hoping to have that project finished by summer.

Going into 2024 I have one REALLY BIG & SCARY GOAL:

Launching the freelance businesses (science/health/med comms/education; and the craft/hobby), and possibly setting up an Etsy store (or other online store) for selling crafts. 

It’s time to start getting serious on the writing for science/health/med comms & health, and figuring out how to earn money via freelance, crafts, and who knows what other side hustle.

Other goals for 2024 include:

  1. Reading at least 24 non-fiction books and reading at least 60 fiction books (with writing at least twenty mini-book reviews)
  2. Continue working on mending my relationship with food & movement; and continue working on improving/healing my mental/emotional/spiritual health as well.
  3. Pick a ‘non-science’ topic and develop ‘niche’ knowledge on it
  4. Write/research/post to each blog at least twice a month…it will probably be more on the creative/hobby/reflective blog—but for the science/health/med one I’m starting ‘slow’.
  5. Write 52 mini-reviews/blurbs on different research papers/topics (basically review one science/health/medical paper a week).
  6. Plus other goals from my 101 goals in 1001 days challenge.

2024 is going to be an extremely scary year…between the powder-keg that West Asia has become and the fact that it is election year here in the states…while I can’t control everything–I’m going pave my path…writing more science, health, medical pieces. Writing more personal/professional growth pieces, creative/hobby pieces, more time on crafts & hobbies..and work at also becoming a better global citizen.

What is your BIG & SCARY goal for 2024?

No Comments 101 GoalsBookscareerCraftsfinancesHealthno spend challengesodds and endsPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflectionsspiritualityUpdatesYear in Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January:          159,685

February:        146,418

March:             197,430

April:              187,411

May:               187,855

June:               149,009

July:                140,686

August:           154,591

September:      157,114

October:          160,753

November:      168,476

December:       170,166

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

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

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

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

The non-fiction books I read during 2021 included:

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

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

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

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

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

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

On Skillshare:

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

Two Cheeky Scientist Association Advance Programs:

  1. Clinical Research Coalition
  2. Intellectual Property Pack

Then on Udemy:

  1. Understanding and developing Emotional Intelliegence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Quickly gazing back at 2020, while planning for 2021

So 2020 is finally over (and I’m cautiously looking out the window at 2021), but it is also time to reflect back on the year (ups, downs, hills, and valleys). So my apologies if this seems to be a really rambling post–I’m covering the year, but there isn’t any particular order for my thoughts.

2020 managed to shake up the entire year by itself. Earlier in the year there was talk of a novel coronavirus that had popped up in China and was possibly making its way around the world. The first ‘identified’ cases in the US showed up in late January/early February (though now we know that the virus was actually here earlier); and now at the end of the year-the US had just under 20.5 million cases as of New Years Eve, and leads in total cases and number of deaths (I wish someone would explain to people–this isn’t a damn popularity contest; you actually want to be coming in last).

Vaccine development was pushed to the forefront as case numbers due to the virus continued to climb; currently there are two vaccines that have been granted emergency use (I also think that there are two or three more entering phase III clinical trials)–but I won’t be eligible for either of the them until late summer/early fall (with a three-to-four week wait period between the two shots). So needless to say–there was no travel this year, and probably won’t be any travel (at least international) probably until 2022 (at the earliest).

Though I’ve been self-isolating for the most part this year, I decided I would buy some face-masks for whenever I needed to go out and possibly be around people. So far those times have been walking at Boomer Lake this fall and winter (I figured fewer people out in the cold weather), I have the face-mask on, but pulled down and when I can’t keep at least six to eight feet between myself and the other person, I pull the mask up over my mouth and nose. I also have one that I wear when I need to go buy the weekend newspaper, plus several others that I can go between for any other errands I may need to run in 2021.

Both puppies that we adopted last year have settled in, grown, and are showing their unique personalities. Rolex seems to have developed an autoimmune disorder (Vitilgo), which is also an autoimmune disorder that humans can have. So now whenever she loses a little bit of fur-it will grow back in white instead of black. So at some point, she may start looking like a reverse Dalmatian (black with white spots), though she still has a pinkish jaw (the fur hasn’t totally grown back).

Rolex, our boxer-mix puppy, before her Vitilgo started acting up

Chaos has basically finished growing, though I think he still as a little more muscle mass to put on, and should top off somewhere between 55 and 65 pounds. He walks nicely on a leash for me, and listens to most commands (though to get him in–you do need to have a treat in your hand, he is a little devil in that regard). His only ‘health’ issue right now is dry/itchy skin that we’re treating with a combination of bendaryl, flaxseed, and anti-itch pills (which are a combo of various omega oils). Though we may be switching the food to see if that has anything to do with his issue.

Chaos snoozing on the bed.

Now once the weather starts to behave, I’ll be walking him more and possibly trying to walk him at Boomer Lake where we may see other people and animals–he grumbles a little at people he doesn’t know very well. When Arick is in town, Chaos grumbles at him every so often–though it may be due also to the fact that Arick was wearing dirty clothes that day and Chaos didn’t like the smell of them. But I do need to try and get him a little more social–mainly so I don’t get the lecture from the vet on his personality problems.

Looking back at what I had planned for 2020, I almost want to break down into tears–I had the idea of trying to focus on just a couple of areas, creating a monthly calendar to keep me on track, posting more on the blog, and just getting more stuff done in general. I also had plans for at least one mental health break trip and then a networking trip as well–needless to say, neither trip happened (and probably won’t happen for another year or so).

While I’m still slightly stuck in the weeds in terms of trying to figure out the next direction for my carer/job, I have realized a couple of things. 1) I know realize that once I feel like I’ve learned all there is to learn within the position, I start ‘coasting’ and have a hard time asking for more things to keep me engaged at work; 2) I really don’t work well with micro-managers and straight up-right upholders (if you don’t recognize the term–I suggest reading ‘Four Tendencies’ by Gretchen Rubin); 3) I do like working in a group setting where there is interaction between people (at least conversations every so often).

While trying to figure things out, I decided that I would retake the Clifton Strength Assessment to see if any of my strengths had changed since I first took it. The top four stayed in the exact same order (learner, intellection, input, and achiever), while the fifth one changed (deliberative to ideation; and when I averaged the two assessments, the fifth changed again to arranger, followed by deliberative. Ideation fell to number nine on the average).

This means that when looking for jobs/assignments/positions, I need to choose things that allow me to be learning (but I also need to have at least a small interest in the subject), dive as deeply as I want into the subject matter, change topics on a whim, work remotely, at an office, or both, and realize that I could be changing tones/subjects/ideas or whatever on a day to day (or even hour to hour) basis.

Earlier in the year (basically at the start of the pandemic) I had more of a drive to try to transition into an industry position and joined an accountability group to help make that happen. While, I haven’t transitioned yet–it did give me ideas on how to go about filling in my job search spreadsheet, which I will be starting a fresh one in the coming weeks for 2021. One issue that was brought up is that since things are probably going to be sticking remote for awhile (especially interviews), one should try to have a dedicated ethernet connection for virtual meetings. Currently, we don’t have one and probably won’t–I don’t want the headache of having to stretch a cord from my parents room (which is where the closest phone jack is) into my room–but this is also a problem to address at a later day in 2021.

Informational interviews probably won’t start happening until the earliest April, since 1) I still haven’t figured out the direction(s) I want to be focusing on in terms of job transition, and 2) I will still need to build rapport with people online before asking if they have time to answer a couple of questions either via email, a phone call, or a Skype/Zoom call.

Another area I was trying to focus on in 2020 was health and fitness. I managed to get serious about pushing play on working out in June. Up until then I had been trying different times of the day for working out and none of them really stuck, until I decided that I would workout in the morning after having breakfast. So, I made the decision on June 1st to push play in the morning (and so far the latest has been ~10AM), and I managed to finish three and a half programs (I still have probably another week or so of the Yoga Booty Ballet-Abs&Butt Series to finish) by the end of 2020.

The goal for 2021 is to complete a total of nine Beachbody workouts.

I also made the decision to step back from trying to do coaching via Beachbody. I had several reasons for this, and I will probably do a separate post on that during the first month or two of 2021.

I had made note at the end of 2019 that I was trying to focus on too many different things, and therefore would try to focus just on health/fitness, career transition (these were tied at number one), then personal/professional development (number two), and if possible crafts as number three. Needless to say–having multiple things actually helps me focus better, when I can switch between things if I start to get bored. My problem was actually needing to figure out how to prioritize the projects/topics and setting up a workable schedule/calendar. Though if I look at my reading list–I did manage to read eighteen non-fiction books in 2020, which is about the average of the past couple of years.

So to help with the prioritizing, setting up a schedule/calendar, I’m going to do the following:

Have a list of non-fiction books that I would like to read–instead of just saying that I will randomly pick one out of the three hundred that I still have to read. This way, the list is smaller and curated–almost guaranteed that I should be able to read at least twenty-five of them during 2021.

I also have a goal to read about forty to fifty fiction books as well during 2021–and I think that I have probably forty-five on pre-order already for the year. I’ve also decided that for the books that I still want to get in 2021, but haven’t been put up for pre-order yet–in order to buy one of them I will need to have read two non-fiction books and two to three fiction books and posted a review on them (blog and amazon) before buying another book.

I’m also going to have a list of forty to sixty different e-courses that I would like to work through for the year as well. These will include most of the advanced Cheeky Scientist programs and then a variety of other courses that I’ve bought from other sites. The goal is to continue working towards an industry transition, though now I’m thinking more remote/freelance/independent/consultant/contract type of work for a while (mainly due to the pandemic situation). As I work through various courses, I will be taking notes and posting updates on the the blog as to what I think of the courses and how taking it has benefited (either by being something I will continue working with or showing me that the topic isn’t for me).

In terms of crafts and hobbies–I’m hoping to get out more with the camera and work on my nature/landscape photography skills and maybe also some architecture/city photography as well. Photography was one of my saving graces during 2020–with sheltering in place I managed to get quite good at getting pictures of hummingbirds in motion at their feeder. I think my top three photography subjects were the ruby-throated hummingbird, the red-bellied woodpecker, and the downy woodpecker.

Hummingbird sitting in the pecan tree

I’m also going to sit down and teach myself cross-stitching and jewelry design, plus work on my drawing skills. I have a couple of books on jewelry design (and I’m sure I can find other articles and so forth on-line), e-courses on drawing, and I can probably look up an introduction video on YouTube for cross-stitching. One thing I’m having to remind myself of lately–that trying new hobbies doesn’t mean that I’m going to be dedicating my life to them.

I also got back into the habit of doing an evening oracle/tarot card reading. I decided that instead of taking a picture of every reading–I’d ‘sketch’ out the cards in my journal along with what I took away from each card. Then once I started doing a review on the oracle/tarot deck I would reference back to my journal for the layouts that I wanted to use as examples. I’m slowly working on those reviews–I find that even though they’re ‘creative’ writing, I put more thought into them than I do some of the other creative writing posts I do.

Another idea that I had bouncing around in my head during 2020 was to do a weekly recap of the various science news posts that I had read and shared on twitter or LinkedIn–needless to say the idea stayed in my head all year, but will hopefully be put into practice in 2021.

While 2020 was difficult year–December was a very trying month. There were a couple of deaths in the family (one due to the SARS-CoV2 virus, one to other health issues/surgery complications, and one to old age/health issues). Also it didn’t help hearing from an friend who is just getting over botulism poisoning that they are having to go through surgery due to possible cancer tumor on their salivary glands. Then to top off the month–a close friend and her entire family caught the SARS-CoV2 virus, but luckily they seem to have “recovered” from it. Luckily, we’ve been fortunate that no one in the immediate family has come into contact with anyone who has tested positive for the virus.

So while there was zero traveling during 2020, I did manage to get a few things accomplished–I got better with my camera and getting pictures of birds; I have several ideas of possible directions to go in terms of my career; I’ve done quite a bit of self-reflection (though there will be more of self-reflection in 2021 as you can never really be done with it), found quite a few more book series and new (to me) authors, and managed to stay safe and healthy in the midst of the SARS-CoV2 pandemic.

While traveling is still probably on hold for 2021 (damn you both pandemic and poor government response), I will be focusing on the things that make me happy–learning, reading, crafting, photography, meditating, tarot/oracle card readings, and spending time with my family and pets.

Hopefully 2021 will also be the year of making numerous new friends and having coffee/tea/water chats over Skype/zoom/phone/email. I’m going to slowly start trying to get out of my ‘shell’ but at the same time realize that the shell may be the best place to be at times.

The phrases for 2021 are now going to be: “Progress over Perfection”, “You can’t start start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last”, “Not caring what other people think is the best choice you will ever make”, and “evaluate the people in your life; then promote, demote, or terminate. You’re the CEO of your life.”

I’ve also decided that the words for 2021 are going to be: growth, curiosity, creativity, prosperity, and happiness.

No Comments careerfinancesfitnessHealthPandemic2020Personal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentRebootBreakReflectionsYear in Review

2019: A Year in Review

So 2019 has come to a close, and now it’s time to reflect back on the year (with its ups and downs, hills and valleys).

This was the year that I decided that I needed to do some type of major shakeup career wise—this wasn’t to say that I was totally unhappy with my job—something needed to change though. I had decided that I would hopefully either transition into an industry position, or I would resign my position, take some time off to re-center myself and then refocus on my job search. I ended up going with option number two—my “reboot break” started shortly after the Thanksgiving holiday.

I’ve realized over the past few months that I’ve more or less been in a “coasting” mode for the past couple of years—never really thinking of where I want to be in five or ten years, just focusing on trying to get through the day and the week to the weekend. It’s hard to figure out the next direction to go in, when you’re stuck in the weeds with nothing but a slightly broken oar to propel yourself—you don’t get very far.

I’ve also realized that I’ve been trying to focus on too many different areas at once (health/fitness, finances, moving my career forward, and trying to find time to do crafts to balance things out), that I’m going to try to focus on just two to four areas (health/fitness and moving my career forward are tied for number one, and then it will probably be personal/professional development (tied for number two, and tied into both areas at number one), and then some time for crafts.

This was I can probably set up an monthly calendar easier with just those “three” areas instead of considering them four to five different areas. This should also mean that I have more ideas for blog topics throughout 2020 as well (which is one area that I felt that I didn’t push forward enough throughout the year).

In terms of health and fitness—I’m slowly making my way back to a routine that works for me. I will probably stick with the workouts provided by Beachbody, but figure out the best nutrition plan on my own. I know that I have a major sweet tooth, and instead of depriving myself (and ending up binge eating sweets), I allow myself some sweets and try to balance it out with more fruits and vegetables throughout the day. I’m pretty sure that there will be more posts on nutrition and fitness throughout 2020 as well, as I work to get into the best shape of my life (I’m thinking of some trip later in the year that would require me to be in better physical condition than I am currently).

We also adopted a puppy back in May shortly after mother’s day. My mom decided that it had been long enough since losing her dog, that she was willing to get a puppy. So we adopted a boxer mix, renamed her Rolex and it’s been a crazy ride ever since. Then basically a week before Christmas, I decided that I really wanted a puppy (I know that I will never be able to replace Chewi), so I went with my brother to the animal shelter and adopted a blue heeler/collie/shepherd mix. Now we have a period of adjustment—Rolex is a little jealous of the puppy (mainly the amount of attention that I’m giving him)—but I chose the right name for him—Chaos (since I was getting him right before the holidays—I knew that I was going to be bring chaos into the house). Now, as I start looking forward again on my job search—the position/location will also need to be puppy friendly (nearby parks and so forth).

In terms of personal development I managed to read nineteen different books (though several of them were challenge books—where you pick a topic and try to work on it for a month or so). Several of the books related to finances (mine are okay—which is why I’m able to do the reboot break right now), decluttering (something that I really need to do—both for myself and ease my parents into it as well), and then just some good old fashion self-care (reboot break, and being reminded that I shouldn’t be waiting for others to give me a ‘permission slip’ to live my life). I’m hoping that in 2020, I double the number of books that read in terms of both personal and professional development.

I had gotten back into doing oracle/tarot card readings for a good portion of the year (quit doing them the last few months), and realized yet again my pulling back was due in part to me trying to fit in to molds that I don’t belong (worry about what prospective employers might think if they come across my instagram account). But I was reminded with reading a couple of books last month that I shouldn’t be waiting on a ‘permission slip’ from others—it’s my life and I doubt that I would be wanting to work for any company that doesn’t value everyone’s spirituality.

I had wanted to travel a little during 2019, but those plans never came to fruition—either due to not having enough vacation time earned, the weather (one major “fear” earlier this year was being stranded somewhere due to the weather and losing money since I wouldn’t be working & would have used up all my vacation time), or just not being able to decide where I wanted to go.

Hopefully in 2020 there will be more travel—both for mental health (since I’ve realized it has been over a year since I’ve taken a vacation) and networking/job search/hopeful job interviews, or a combination of the two types.

So while there was some change in 2019—there wasn’t as much as I’d hoped for—but I did manage to plant the seeds for change (namely in quitting my job) to occur in 2020. As we head into a new year and decade I need to remember that for 2020 I’m going to focus on “grow (th)”, “change”, “achievement(s)”, and “success”.

And remember: Progress over perfection. I’m also going to remember to “evaluate the people in [my] life; then promote, demote, or terminate. [I’m] the CEO of my life”.

No Comments careerHealthjob searchingLifestyle ChallengesPersonal DevelopmentPetsprofessional developmentYear in Review

2018 in Review

So it is now 2019 (where has 2018 gone?). While I wasn’t upset to see the door close on 2018, I would like to know why time flies faster at certain times and then crawls at others? There were several extremely low points for 2018—we lost three dogs last year (2 to cancer—Spelunkers in February, and then Chewi in October; and we also lost Piranha in October as well [four days before we lost Chewi actually]). So we went from a house with four dogs to a house with one dog (though Arick does visit with his puppy every now and then).

So 2018 was a year of ups and downs (I’ve already mentioned two major downs in the previous paragraph). But what were some of the highlights?

Going to Roswell, the White Sands National Monument, and Carlsbad Caverns National Park in May for a mini vacation. I’d never been to that part of New Mexico before (we’d been through the northern half previously). I loved the whirlwind trip, and I would love to go back and actually sign up for an guided tour of some of the other caverns within the national park (the main large cavern is the easily accessible one), though those tours can take up to five hours (round trip). So that is something to try to add to my bucket list.

I went back to the Boston area in October (actually about a week after losing Chewi) for both a mini vacation and to go to a couple of networking events. I’ve decided that since I want to relocate for my next job (the hopeful transition into industry), I need to show that I’m willing to relocate by going to some local networking events. I enjoyed the day that I took in Salem and walking the Freedom Trail in Boston (though I did it backwards).

Finishing a workout program. Beachbody had released a new program in September (but I bought early access to it at the end of summer), which is called LIIFT4. The program is basically 4 days and alternates between resistance training and HIIT exercises. This was the first program in quite awhile that I managed to actually go from start to finish (usually I’d been giving up within a week or so).

Figuring out what I don’t want to do in terms of my career. I know that it sounds funny that I consider this a highlight—but in truth knowing what you don’t want to do is just as important as knowing what you want to do. I’ve figured out that I really don’t want to be in a position that requires excess amounts of traveling. I know that travel is important for any career—but I don’t want to be traveling basically four or five days out the week. This basically takes out about a quarter of the different types of jobs that one can do with a PhD. I’m hoping that by slowly starting to write science blog posts/pages I can recapture my enjoyment of scientific writing and maybe see about doing some of that on the side.

2018 was a year that I’m happy is over and one that I don’t care to repeat (namely in terms of the low points). There were good things, but the loss of pets will take a good amount of time to get over and hopefully it won’t hurt as much to think about the dogs as we progress through 2019 (and yes I will be making Chewi her memorial collage during the early part of 2019).

If I had to decide on a word for 2019, I will choose the word change. The reason(s) are simple–I want to change (i.e. a new job), and I want to start exploring more (different vacations in other areas of the country/world). So, yes the word for 2019 will be change.

No Comments Year in Review