Tag: Books

Review of the start of the fourth quarter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The goals for October included:

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

So how did I do with each of them?

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

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

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

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

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

So my goals for November will include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Down to the last quarter of 2021: where did the time go?

We’re heading into the last quarter of the year—there are only 92 days left in 2021. Somehow, the summer sped by and it seems like the fall is going to swirl into winter before we know it. Truthfully, there really hasn’t been much change for the pandemic—various numbers are bouncing around (namely the number of people getting their vaccines, and booster shots for the Pfizer vaccine [if you’re in one of the three categories] started this week). Hopefully J&J will be announcing when their booster shots are available and will be for everyone (not just a small percentage of the population). But, no matter what—I’ll still be self-isolating for the most part through the fall, winter, and into spring—at least until the numbers are on a steady decline (and I’m not talking about the vaccination rate).

I decided to stay away from the media as much as possible this past month (as it really doesn’t do much for me—other than ramp up both my anxiety and stress levels). In terms of the total number of cases of the virus in the US, when I published ‘August in Review’, I noted that the US was a little over 40.1 million cases for the SARS-CoV2 virus, and now we’re at a little over 44.3 million cases (so it was an increase of a little over 4.2 million cases last month—again all due to the delta variant, poor social distancing [especially in schools] and fewer people getting vaccinated).

So, while there are ‘breakthrough’ cases (people catching the virus after getting at least one vaccine shot), majority of the cases are still unvaccinated individuals. Hopefully within the next few months, the Pfizer shot will get emergency approval for younger kids age five to eleven (which will hopefully help cut down on the spread of the virus through schools). All I’ll say is this again: I really wish things would go virtual for another semester or two, and if everyone wants schools opened—get the damn shot. (End rant)

As one may have noticed—I’m slowly working on ‘reorganizing’ pages/tabs on the blog. I’ve combined the birding tab with the photography tab (more organizational pages will be coming for the ‘main tab’), and I’m renaming/rewriting other tabs. I decided that I’m going to be a multi-niche blog/website and focus my writing on three main areas: science/medical education and communication, personal/professional development, and health and wellness. Though I will also be doing crafts, photography, and travel as ‘enjoyment hobbies’—so those will still pop in every so often, as well as book reviews.

Before looking ahead to October and the start of the last quarter of the year, I should look at the goals I set for September and see how I did with each of them.

The goals for September included:

  1. 130-150,000 steps; I’m hoping to get at least one walk in at Boomer Lake this month
  2. Start my own fitness routine (weight lifting, shadow boxing, and possibly yoga)
  3. Start working through the User Experience Squad program, work on the writing assignments for MWO, and finish the sixt module of the MWO
  4. Read one to two non-fiction books
  5. Read two to four fiction books (have small book reviews written and published on the blog and other sites)
  6. No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month
  7. Time outdoors, mediation/sitting quietly, and daily gratitude journal entries
  8. Craft time (start a new cross-stitch project)
  9. Work through at least one other personal/professional development course

So how did I do with each of them?

130-150,000 steps: I managed to meet and slightly surpass my step goal. I managed to get 157,114 steps during the month of September. I managed to get two walks in at Boomer Lake, took Chaos for two short walks through the neighborhood, and wandered around enough during the day to get my steps.

Start my own fitness routine: This didn’t happen. Mainly due to the fact the month was thrown into partial chaos by the fact that we had to take Rolex (one of our younger dogs) into the vet several times due to her developing hemolytic anemia (all from a damn allergy shot), and this threw me for a loop. I also decided to renew my Beachbody-on-demand for a year, and will hopefully be starting up with morning meltdown 100 again in October.

Start the User Experience Squad program and finish up the MWO program: Well this didn’t happen either. In part due to the issues with the one dog, and therefore I spent more time working on crafts (which seems to help me control my anxiety) then I did workingon any professional development courses.

Read one to two non-fiction books: While I’ve been reading books–I haven’t finished any of them yet.

Read two to four fiction books: So, I managed to publish book reviews for My Next Play (On My Own #3) by Carrie Ann Ryan and Catnip & Curses (The Faerie Files #2) by Emigh Cannaday on the blog earlier in the month (these were two books I’d finished reading towards the end of August).

I’ve also read (but haven’t finished the reviews):

Breaking Badger (The Honey Badger Chronicles #4) by Shelly Laurenston

Yours to Keep (The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers #6) by Claudia Burgoa

No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month: I’ve done better this month in terms of honoring the challenge, and will give a breakdown on it in the next installment of my limited spending challenge check-in.

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

I’ve been spending more time outdoors, as the season is changing (technically we are in autumn now) and I want to be outside while I can. I probably should have my journal, or laptop with me and that way I can also work outside (instead of feeling slightly bad that I’m just sitting and enjoying the weather).

I’ve been really good at my evening meditation/sitting quietly as that has become critical to being able to fall to sleep at night. I think it’s a combination of the ambiance of the room (I have candles lit) and realizing the days over and what has been done is done, and what hasn’t been accomplished can wait until the next day (or week).

I’ve been keeping up with the daily gratitude entries as well—though sometimes they’re something as simple as I’m glad I don’t live in an apartment and having to walk the dog in the rain.

Craft time (start a new cross-stitch project):

I managed to finish my second cross-stitch project and have started (and am also finished with) a third cross-stitch project. I’ve found that cross-stitching is actually relaxing and seems to help me manage my anxiety and stress. Once I’m done with the third (and possibly before starting my fourth), I may try and see if I can cross-stitch with small beads or possibly take a break from cross-stitching and create some jewelry.

My second completed cross-stitch project

Work through at least one other personal/professional development course:

I started working through a little more of the write your way to freedom course, and am currently in the second module (picking a niche or niches and working on a ten to thirty day challenge). As the temperatures get cooler, and the days shorter—I will probably be spending a little more time indoors and working though various courses.

So I’d say I was probably about fifty/fifty on meeting the goals this month. Some of the goals that I didn’t hit—were computer heavy, and those were ‘missed’ because I found the weather to be nice, and spent most of it outdoors. Others that were ‘missed’ were due to scheduling and the month just having curveballs thrown constantly. But—fifty percent is better than nothing.

As I head into the last quarter of the year, I’ve realized that I need to have a slightly more focused agenda—especially in regards to trying to set up my freelance/remote/contract business. I’m going to try to accomplish this by starting my to-be-accomplished lists again, in addition to having a ‘due’ date next to the item (which may or may not correspond to the current week).

The goals for October are probably going to be similar to the ones for the past few months—but trying to be a little more focused (at least in terms of the personal/professional development goals).

Therefore the goals for October will include:

  1. 130-155,000 steps; hopefully there will be one or two walks at Boomer Lake, and a couple of walks through the neighborhood with Chaos
  2. Start my second round of Morning Meltdown 100
  3. Work on the editing/writing assignments for the MWO & finish the 6th module. Start the Business Development Federation program
  4. Read one to two non-fiction books
  5. Read two to five fiction books (have small book reviews written and published on the blog and other sites)
  6. No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month
  7. Craft time (finish the third cross-stitch project; possibly start a fourth or maybe make some jewelry)
  8. Work on updating the blog/website (finish rewriting different landing pages; aim for at least one 1500-3000 word article for each area: personal/professional development, science/medical education/communication and health/wellness [pick one or two subtopics within each to write on])
  9. Work through at least a part of another personal/professional development course (not listed above)

I also put in my ‘application’ for another freelance writing position (with the same group, but for a different project), as I wasn’t selected for the first freelance position.

I’m thinking that in terms of the ‘writing’ assignments that I’m giving myself, I’m going to create a chart/diagram that goes from things I’m totally interested in, willing to learn about, to things that I’m only semi-interested in but still willing to write about to areas that I can write about but not really interested in. I think that having a ‘scale’ on which to rate things will probably help me create content easier, but also help me find my ‘ideal’ clients/customers/businesses that I would like to partner/work with as I move forward.

Hopefully October will be a little more smooth sailing then September was (having to deal with hemolytic anemia in dogs isn’t fun), and I will be able to focus on establishing myself as a freelance/contract/remote writer instead of worrying if we’re going to be losing our dog or not.

As we move forward into the last quarter of the year and then into 2022, I hope that those that are still holding ‘out’ on getting the vaccine for whatever reason—will get it. The Pfizer shot has been granted full approval by the FDA, and any side effects are usually mild to moderate, and then for everyone to get their children vaccinated. That is truthfully the only way we’re going to see the tail end of this damn pandemic (along with masks and social distancing when needed).

So question time: what is your favorite part of fall?

No Comments BookscareerCraftsfinancesfitnessHealthmoney saving challengesMonth in Reviewno spend challengesoutdoorsPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

Mix together one poltergeist, one departmental audit, and an unexpected past. Catnip & Curses: A Review

The FBI division of Occult Crimes is getting an audit, and a new poltergeist case all at the same time.

To keep their division from being shut down, Elena Rivera and Logan Hawthorne have to prove that the things that go bump in the night are real.

Having converted her ‘non-believer’ partner into a believer, one would think that dealing with their ‘shadows’ would be easy.

But, once you mix in a mad poltergeist, two very staunch cynics, vivid dreams, and a past that no one was expecting—and you have the perfect setting for Catnip and Curses.

I’m looking forward to the final book being released next month and finding out how Elena and Logan deal with their respective pasts, and what the future holds for the Occult Crimes division of the FBI.

I give Catnip and Curses five out of five stars, and highly recommend both the book and the series to anyone looking for a lighthearted mystery, with both a touch of the paranormal and romance.

No Comments Book ReviewsBooks

Heading into Fall: Reviewing the ‘dog days of summer’ goals

So, we’re on to the last third of the year—there are now only 122 days left in 2021. While it feels like time is starting to speed back up again, I’m wondering when things are going to totally go to hell. The vaccination rate is still on a steady decline (though there are days when the number of shots given is high), and the delta variant is still running rampant through the country. Luckily, I’ll be able to get the J&J booster shot sometime between October and December (they state that it is most effective six to eight months after the initial shot). So, it looks like I’ll be staying in self-isolation throughout the fall and winter (with the occasional walk to get the paper on the weekend, and possibly a walk once a month at Boomer Lake).

The world is still crumbling at a decent clip, and I’m talking about everything from the issues in Central Asia (Afghanistan) to the fact that while Greenland lost a huge amount of ice—they also got a huge amount of rainfall (for like the third time in recorded history). Therefore, I’m limiting my news intake to morning/night and the occasional lunchtime checks on Facebook. When I published ‘July in Review’, I noted that the US was a little over 35.7 million cases for the SARS-CoV2 virus, and now we’re at a little over 40.1 million cases (so it was an increase of not quite 4.5 million cases last month—all due to the delta variant and fewer people getting vaccinated).

So the numbers are going back up, and less than 0.5% of the hospitalized cases are vaccinated individuals (break-through cases). That means over 99% of the people in the hospital for SARS-CoV2, haven’t gotten the vaccine (and a good number now are children under the age of 12 that currently aren’t eligible for the vaccine). I really wish things would go virtual for another semester or two, and if everyone wants schools opened—get the damn shot. (End rant)

Staying in self-isolation will give me the time to really start focusing on trying to get a freelance/remote/contract career started (focusing first on writing, crafts, and possibly project/product management, then stretching to data analysis, and possibly educational consulting).

Before looking ahead to September (the start of the last third of the year, and a semi-modified new set of goals, and continuing to work on my time and project management skills), I should look at the goals I set for August and see how I did with each of them.

The goals for August included:

  1. 135-155,000 steps
  2. Restart LIIFT4 (mainly following the lifting schedule, not necessarily streaming the program)
  3. Finish up the writing/editing assignments for MWO, the MWO course, and roll the dice to figure out the next advancedcheeky scientist program to start
  4. Finish reading two to three non-fiction books
  5. Read two to four fiction books (and hopefully write small reviews over at least one of them)
  6. No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month
  7. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries
  8. Craft time (Continue working on the cross-stitch project)
  9. Work through at least one other personal/professional development e-course

So how did I do with each of them?

135-155,000 steps: I managed to get in 154,591 steps this past month. Mostly through wandering around the house and yard, though I did manage to get a walk in at Boomer Lake earlier in the month. I’m thinking that for September–most of the steps will be from wandering around the house/yard, walking through the neighborhood (early mornings, so I can wear my mask), and possibly a walk at Boomer Lake.

Restarting LIIFT4: I’m still giving my wrist a little more time to heal (I semi-sprained or did something to my right wrist last month), and therefore didn’t do any lifting this past month. As I mentioned in another post (400 day update), I have until basically the end of September to decide if I’m keeping my beachbody-on-demand subscription or not. I’m trying to limit my ‘screen time’ (or as much as one can when they’re thinking of freelance/remote/contract writing as a career option). Therefore I’m thinking of working out away from the screen (lifting weights and doing other things), and doing ‘screen time’ for mainly yoga.

Finishing up the MWO program & deciding on new one: I’ve finished the editing assignments for the program, and am still working on the writing assignments. I have one module left to go through (though I may not get the certificate until I complete the writing assignments), and then would be ‘done’ with the program. I did roll the dice and decided that I’d be working through the following programs over the next several months (regardless of when I finish the MWO): User Experience Squad, Project Management Consortium, Regulatory Affairs Council, Business Development Federation, and Product Management Group.

Finish reading two to three non-fiction books: I managed to read the following non-fiction books:

I Want to Do All the Things: Finding Balance as a Polymath, Multipotentialite, and Renaissance Soul by Arcadia Page

The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own by Joshua Becker

Though I haven’t written mini book reviews over either of them yet.

Read two to four fiction books (and hopefully write small reviews on at least one of them): The fiction books Imanaged to read during the month of August included:

Vortex: A FBI Thriller (#25) by Catherine Coulter (review posted to blog)

Dawn Unearthed (Ravenwood Coven #1) by Carrie Ann Ryan (review posted to blog)

Wiretaps & Whiskers (The Faerie Files #1) by Emigh Cannaday (review posted to blog)

Catnip & Curses (The Faerie Files #2) by Emigh Cannaday (review coming soon)

My Next Play (On My Own #3; advanced reader copy) by Carrie Ann Ryan (review coming soon)

Three out of the five books have reviews posted to the blog, and the other two books are books that I just finished within the past few days, so those reviews should hopefully be getting posted to the blog (and other sites) by the weekend.

No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month:

There have been a couple of books bought, one (or two) large amazon orders–but truthfully, nothing more than usual. The breakdown for this will be in the next installment of the limited spending challenge check-in.

Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries:

I’ve been able to spend time outdoors this month–though there was only one walk at Boomer Lake (due to combination of temperatures and the delta variant). I am very grateful that my parents have a decent size backyard that one can be out in during this period of time. I’ve been doing my evening meditations/sitting quietly moments for at least a few minutes (hoping to add this to the morning routine as well).

In term of the daily gratitude entries–I’ve been pretty good with these, even if they’ve been something along the line of being grateful that I don’t have kids and therefore I don’t have to worry/stress about navigating things with the pandemic still raging.

Craft time (continue working on the cross-stitch project):

I actually finished my first small abstract cross-stitch project the other day. Instead of trying to find a pattern, I’m sticking with abstract made up on the spot designs. The reason: I can’t draw a straight line to save my life, and trying to write letters on the fabric was giving me a headache, though I do know that with practice I’d be getting better at both of them).

My first cross-stitch project completed

I should be getting in my glue gun by the end of the week, and will be gluing some of the fabric to the backside of the framefor a more completed look.

I’m starting on a second and larger cross-stitch project, and am finding it therapeutic stabbing the fabric over and over again with teh needle and thread. It seems that the amount of time spent on the project is directly correlated to how irritated I am with the world.

Work through at least one other personal/professional development e-course:

I started two different short e-courses this past month, and finished one of them:

Understanding and Developing Emotional Intelligence on Udemy

With the way the world is going today (especially in terms of the anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers), this is something that a lot of people seem to be lacking. Out of the five main concepts (self-awareness, self-control, social skills, empathy, and self motivation)—I feel like everyone needs a good dose of empathy.

While I may be getting tired of being in self-isolation (more or less) daily, at least I know that I’m doing my part not to spread the virus. Just like I know that wearing a mask in public, helps slow the spread of the virus (even though I shouldn’t be carrying it—it would still help protect me from catching it).

Everyone that is screaming ‘it’s their right’ on whether or not to wear a mask, or get vaccinated, or whatever—yes it is your right, but the world doesn’t revolve around you. We’re a global society, and we really should be looking out for each other (instead of being of the ‘me-and-mine’ mindset).

After taking the course, I’ve realized that I need to work on the self-motivation (keeping the inner critic/imposter syndrome in check) the most, with maybe self-awareness coming in second. I’m usually aware of my emotions, and while I try not to let them get the better of me, sometimes I don’t always control my facial features as much as I should.

Another thing I did last month (and actually at the very end of the month)—I submitted a ‘application’ for paying freelance writing gig. The opportunity came from the company that I’m doing the volunteer writing for (one of the editors wants the pages on another site rewritten), so I sent a response with links to both the blog and my LinkedIn profile (as my portfolio) to the editor I work with and we’ll see what happens.

Even if I don’t get the job—I managed to quiet my inner critic long enough to ask some questions in one of the medical writing Facebook groups I’m in, and put together a response and emailed it back in the afternoon. This is a really big step for me, since I’m more likely to try to let the inner critic/imposter syndrome win and not try to go for things.

I decided earlier in the month that I was going to be keeping the website url, and running tagline for the blog. I will be updating the site over the next few months (especially with a ‘portfolio’ section to highlight various science/medical writing styles/topics, and other writing examples).

I’m not going to change up my ‘goals’ that much, though I will be trying to put a little more time into the other ‘writing’ projects that I’ve got on my plate.

The other goals for September will include:

  1. 130-150,000 steps; I’m hoping to get at least one walk in at Boomer Lake this month, in addition to maybe one or two walks through the neighborhood in the mornings (when I shouldn’t run into anyone who could be potentially ‘anti-mask’)
  2. Start my own fitness routine (weight lifting, shadow boxing, yoga/stretching)
  3. Start working through the User Experience Squad program, work on the writing assignments for the MWO and finish the sixth module of the MWO program
  4. Read one to two non-fiction books
  5. Read two to four fiction books (have small book reviews written and published)
  6. No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month
  7. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, and daily gratitude journal entries
  8. Craft time (continue working on the new cross-stitch project)
  9. Work through at least one other personal/professional development e-course

I’m keeping the goals similar to the ones for August—though I’m changing up the fitness/intentional movement goal. Instead of streaming workouts (though I might do that for the yoga), I’m going to just put on music and either lift weights (focusing on certain muscles) or shadow box. This way I’ll be getting in my fitness/intentional movement for the day, but at the same time will be having some ‘screen free’ time as well.

I’ll also be trying to figure out what other types of writing I’d like to be doing, so there may be a variety of blog posts (or pages) popping up throughout the month as I try my hand covering different topics.

While I’ve semi rewritten the ‘work with me’ page, that page and the welcome page may get updated throughout the fall as I slowly make my way into the freelancing world of writing, editing, proofreading, and crafting.

So, while time is starting to ‘speed’ up, I hope that everyone is getting their vaccination shot(s) against the virus, and if you have kids—they’re getting theirs as well. As that (along with masks and social distancing when needed) is really the only way we’re going to be able to get to a ‘new’ normal.

While I’d asked this question last month on what types of posts people would like to see more of (science/educational, personal/professional development, hobbies/crafts, book reviews, or thoughts on different career paths), I decided that I will continue forward with a mixture of all (as that fits my personality and my top two strengths: learner and intellection).

I’m going to share the words I chose for 2021 again— growth, creativity, curiosity, happiness, and prosperity.

What are you most excited for this fall?

No Comments Book ReviewsBookscareerCraftsfinancesfitnessHealthLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesMonth in Reviewno spend challengesPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentReflectionsspirituality

Missing children, goblins, & a new partner..what could go wrong.. Introduction to the Faerie Files

What happens when the FBI division of Occult Crimes is finally informed about the disappearance of hundreds of children?

They send in their specialist…With her new partner.

Elena Rivera was recruited by the FBI for her unique abilities and talents—especially those that could deal with the things that go bump in the night.

Logan Hawthorne was just promoted to Senior Special Agent and assigned to the Occult Crime Division.

What happens when you have a play it by the book agent and an agent that trusts her gut and senses, partnered together on a high-stake case?

A team that is sent to the Smoky Mountains to figure out why children have been disappearing, where they are and how to get them home.

Add in the antics of a small mountain town, and you have the perfect ingredients for a paranormal mystery.

I enjoyed the escapades and introduction the Faerie Files Series, and am looking forward to reading the second book (Catnip and Curses) this weekend, and waiting impatiently for the third book (Hexes and Hairballs) to be released in October.

I give Wiretaps and Whiskers five out of five stars, and highly recommend the book to anyone looking for a lighthearted mystery with a touch of the paranormal.

No Comments Book ReviewsBooks

Bumps in the road: Review of Capricorn Full Moon Goals

I meant to post this yesterday, but was feeling a little under the weather due to a sinus/tension headache so I’m posting it this morning.

We’re heading into the next full moon either tonight or tomorrow night (depending on where you live in the world). For me–the full moon is tonight, so those goals will be posted no later than tomorrow morning.

But before I can look ahead to the Aquarius full moon, I need to look back at the goals I set for the capricorn full moon and reflect on how I did with each of them.

The goals for the Capricorn full moon included:

  1. Continuing to lift weights (following the schedule for LIIFT4 but listening to music instead of streaming the program).
  2. Work on creating a new long-term goal list; with the goal being having a rough outline (or list) of the major goals for different areas of life (such as health/fitness, finance, career, personal/professional development, spirituality, hobbies, and living space).
  3. Continue on my ‘personal/professional development’ journey by starting (and finishing) the following:
    • Writing my semi technical document: ‘Troubleshooting Tips for Molecular Cloning’
    • Reading: ‘Why You’re Stuck’ by Derek Doepker; ‘More of Less’ by Josh Becker, and ‘Master Your Core’ by Dr. Bohdanna Zazulak
    • Starting at least one copywriting course

As I was reflecting on my progress last night, I realized that my third goal was ‘open-ended’ in that I probably wasn’t going to get all three things accomplished before the start of the Aquarius full moon. The other two should be mostly finished by the time the Aquarius full moon rolls around tonight.

So how did I do with them?

In terms of the fitness goal (lifting weights following the LIIFT4 schedule), I had to take a short break since I semi sprained my right wrist two weeks ago. I had been doing some yard work, and tried to clip a thick branch that was actually too thick for the pruners and ended up putting a little too much pressure on my wrist. It is almost back to normal, so I’m going to start lifting weights again next week (possibly going a little lighter, but we’ll see). If I hadn’t sprained my wrist, I would have finished up LIIFT4 today and be starting Morning Meltdown 100 on Monday–but I’m two weeks behind schedule.

In terms of the new long-term goal list, it is slowly in production. I’ve realized that when it comes to trying to develop these ‘long-term’ lists I usually end up either making them too general–in that I never actually put in a ‘city’ for where I picture myself living or a ‘company’ in terms of where I see myself working. This has also been a slight problem with my career transition/change–I never specify any particular place/company, I always say in ‘X years I will be a manager in Y field’, but never adding in at ‘Z company in W town’. So this is something I need to work on fixing in terms of setting the goals.

I am currently leaning more towards the Midwest only because it is slightly lower cost of living compared to the coasts. If I go freelance/remote/contract, I should be able to live in the Midwest, and possibly travel to the coasts every so often for meetings with clients, but shouldn’t have to move there.

The personal/professional development projects are slow going. I’ve realized that I was setting an unrealistic deadline for the technical document. While it covers a topic that I’ve spent a good chunk of my professional career doing, I realized that I should also look for actual references instead of just going with my own personal opinion. The first item now is to draft an outline (which I already more or less have), and start looking for references for each section (hopefully). I had set a deadline of end of July for ‘publication’ of the document—but now it is going to be pushed back to possibly mid-October.

I’m slowly reading through the books—this past month has been more on the fiction side of things than the non-fiction, but that is the usual cycle I go through every few months. The goal is to have the three books done by mid-September.

Working through different copywriting courses is going even slower than the non-fiction writing. The main reason—one course can only be viewed on Google Chrome, while the others it doesn’t matter. Silly reason, but I usually just use a single web browser during the day, and it currently isn’t Google Chrome (plus it keeps telling me that updates are no longer available until I update my computer).

So, basically I semi met at least one of the three goals (weight-lifting) this past moon cycle. I realize what my problem is—proper time and project management. While there is enough time in the day to do what I need, since I don’t ‘schedule’ the time for various tasks, it always seems time gets away from me. In addition, I still ‘bite off more that I can chew’ in terms of to-do lists and outlines. I try to cram everything in at once instead of spreading things out. The combination of both leads to semi-burnout and a cycle of me not doing anything for a while as I ‘recover’. There are soon to be only five months left in the year—and this is something that I really need to work on ‘fixing’ as I head towards 2022 and the career transition to freelance/remote/contract writer/data analyst.

Mild progress has been made over the past month, though I now need to remind myself good is good enough and I don’t always need to aim for super or perfect.

No Comments AstrologyBookscareerfinancesfitnessFull Moon GoalsHealthPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflectionsspirituality

Proud to be a geek: ‘Celebrate your geekness day’

Today is ‘celebrate your geekness’ day, a day that was created by Wellcats Holidasy as a day about being proud of what you do, who you are, and what you’re ‘obsessed’ with. I will freely admit that I’ve always been a ‘geek’, and I’ve been proud of being a geek. While I may seem ‘quiet’ and slightly ‘unsociable’, it is more of the fact that I’m wondering what I can add to the conversation. Depending on the topic, I may either be more of an active listener or an active participant. While I am a ‘geek’ on various subjects, I also admit that some areas I’m reconnecting to, so I may not be that big of a ‘geek’ in terms of random knowledge.

I like these five reasons from ‘a big think edge’ blog post back in 2018 on why one should embrace thier inner geek:

  1. The term communicates that you are intelligent
  2. You may be more socially competent and mature than the ‘cool kids’
  3. As a geek, you are viewed in a increasingly positive way
  4. You are technically savvy and an early adopter of new technologies
  5. Geeks bring different perspectives and knowledge to the conversation

I agree with all of them, with the exception of number four–I really don’t care for updating/upgrading my electronics and such unless I either absolutely have to, or the update/upgrade has something really going for it.

So what are things that I consider myself a ‘geek’ about?

Hobbies such as:

Birds (and bird watching)

Photography

Reading (fiction, especially romance)

Knitting and other crafts

Being outdoors, gardening and nature

Learning, especially on topics related to:

Science

History

Geography

Archaeology

Anthropology

Paleontology

My pets

What am I currently learning or teaching myself?

Python coding, cross-stitching, jewelry making, and brushing up on subjects such as intellectual protperty and clinical trials.

What are my end goals?

Continuous learning, finding harmony between ‘work’ and ‘everything else’, and bridging the communication gap beteen the scientific community and the general public.

What is one scientific topic that you wished was communicated better?

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Reflecting on June’s goals. Now on to the third quarter and second half of 2021

So, the year is officially halfway over–there are only 184 days left in 2021. It seems like yesterday it was December 2020 and March 2021 all wrapped up in one. While there are vaccines rolling out to deal with the SARS-CoV2 virus, the virus is also mutating at a good rate–so I will probably still be self-isolating through the summer and into the fall (especially until I hear how the J&J vaccine does against the delta variant). There is yet another variant of the virus that is starting to become the more dominant one (delta), and we’re finding out that even if you have had the vaccine–you could still contract the virus (and still possibly die from it as well). It will be interesting to see what type of numbers/spike in cases we’re going to have moving towards fall.

I’m truthfully trying to stay away from the news right now for the most part (I’m getting really tired of all the irritating/disturbing news in the world), and I’m fully aware that by doing so, I’m exercising my ‘white privilege’. Since we’ve managed to vaccine a decent percentage of the US population, we’re not seeing an overwhelming number of new cases each month. We’re still seeing new cases, but the numbers are on the low side. When I published ‘May in Review’, I noted that the US was at a little over 34.1 million cases, and now the US is at a little over 34.5 million cases (an increase of less than half a million new cases). I’m worried though that the numbers are going to start going up again, since it is summer, there is a new variant becoming dominant, and those who are un-vaccinated may still refuse to get their shots. Also, I’m going to be listening to the World Health Organization–they’re telling people that even if you’re fully vaccinated you should still be wearing a mask, especially with the delta variant gaining ground.

So before looking ahead to July (the start of the third quarter, and the second half of the year; plus a new set of goals and plans), I should also look at the goals I set for June and see how I did with each of them.

The goals for June included:

At least 130-150,000 steps

Continue with LIIFT4

Read at least one non-fiction book and post the review

Read at least two fiction books and hopefully post the reviews

Start (and hopefully finish) the Intellectual Property Pack course, and work on the writing/editing assignments for the MWO

No spend days/No spend weeks/limited spending month–honor the limited spending challenge

Time outdoors and meditation/sitting quietly

Start (and hopefully finish) at least one other e-course

Craft time

So how did I do with each of them?

130-150,000 steps: I managed to meet the minimum step goal (130,000 steps), and was just under the 150,000 goal for the month. My final number of steps for June were 149,009. Since we’re in summer–the temperatures hit the 90s with high humidity (which put the heat index in the low 100s), so I only managed a single full walk, plus a partial walk up at Boomer Lake this month. I’m going to have to figure out ways of getting the steps in around the house since the weather doesn’t look to be cooperating with me this summer.

Continue LIIFT4: I have been continuing with LIIFT4, though I decided to follow the lifting schedule on my own. Instead of trying to stream the workouts each morning, I simply put on some upbeat music and lift weights. I may not be doing the exercises in the ‘correct’ order–but it’s my order and the workout gets done.

Read at least one non-fiction book and post the review: I have managed to actually finish three books this month, and reviews have been posted on the blog for the first two (I’m currently working on the third book review). The three books that I’ve read were:

‘The Financial Diet’ by Chelsea Fagan

’25 Ways to Work from Home’ by Jen Ruiz

‘Write to Speak’ by Mike Acker

Read at least two fiction books and post reviews: I’ve managed to read three fiction books, but have only gotten a review written over the first one (the other two are on my to-do list). The books that I read were:

‘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

Start (and hopefully finish) the Intellectual Property Pack course, and work on the writing/editing assignments for the Medical Writers Organization:

I managed to start and finish the Intellectual Property Pack program offered by the Cheeky Scientist Association. While I found the course interesting (and didn’t realize that there are people who deal with trademarks and copyrights daily), I’m not sure if it is a path I’m going to be pursuing. While I will be talking more about this in another post, the basic reason for me being leery of the field–is the standardized test you have to take to become an accredited patent agent.

I’m slowly working through the writing/editing assignments for the Medical Writers Organization. I decided to start with the editing assignments first, and I’m currently ~two-thirds of the way done with that assignment. I may go back and rework one of my answers though. I’m hoping to finish the assignments (and course) during the third quarter of the year.

No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month–honor the limited spending challenge

I was able to basically honor the limited spending challenge this month. I did a single large purchase from amazon mid-month for books that will hopefully be serving as reference books for a story idea. While I did purchase a few e-books throughout the month, it hasn’t been to the same extent that I did during March, April, or May.

Time outdoors and meditation/sitting quietly:

The amount of time spent outdoors this past month depended heavily on the weather. We had really hot and humid weather at the beginning of the month, and then really wet and rainy weather towards the end of the month.

I only missed one meditation night earlier in the month, and I learned that even sitting for a minute or two focusing on my breath at night does help me sleep better. When I decide not to do that exercise–my sleep suffers and I have a harder time staying asleep throughout the night.

Start (and hopefully finish) at least one other e-course

In addition to going through the Intellectual Property Pack program, I also watched a short e-course via skillshare on punctuation. This is one that I may go back and re-watch every so often just as a refresher. While I’m fairly good at understanding and using most punctuation marks–the comma and semi-colon are ones that I’m probably misusing from time to time.

Craft time:

So I’ve been trying to slowly move away from my go-to ‘craft time projects’ of doing the color-by number app on my Kindle. Therefore I’m slowly working other crafts into my day. I have semi-doodle an cross-stitch pattern, but have also decided that the my ‘first real trial piece’ is going to be a mixture of geometric designs and trying to see how may colors I can use. I have some ideas for necklaces and bracelets–I just haven’t gotten around to actually creating them yet.

I would say that I managed to reach about eighty percent of my goals for June. With the way the weather is going–I may be falling back on my old ‘step making’ method of putting on a movie and marching in place/circles and getting the steps that way. I realize that finding the dedicated time for crafts and the more computer intensive work will require me actually setting aside time in the day to focus on those items (goals for the third quarter).

As we move into the third quarter and second half of 2021, I’m going to be slowly focusing a little more on how to create that ‘new career’ that will hopefully be a mix of freelance/remote/contract/online/consulting and blogging/photography/writing/crafts–in other words trying to find that harmony between personal and professional interests.

Therefore the domain (web address) of the site may change (I have two ideas bouncing around in my head and might put them up for a vote on LinkedIn and/or Facebook) at some point this month. The content won’t change that much–there will be additional pages added, and possibly a few more science/humanities related blog posts but that currently will be the extent of the ‘changes’ at least for 2021.

Therefore my goals for July 2021 will include:

135-155,000 steps, since we’re entering the ‘dog days of summer’ and the fact that it may be too hot for weekly walks, I will be figuring out an alternative method for reaching daily step goals.

Finishing LIIFT4 and starting my second round of Morning Meltdown 100

Read one to two non-fiction books (and write small reviews)

Read two to three fiction books (and write small reviews)

Finish up the editing assignments (and start the writing assignments) for MWO, and watch the first few videos in module one of the Regulatory Affairs Council program

No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month

Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude entries in the journal

Craft time (start the cross-stitch project and possibly create at least one necklace)

Work through at least one other personal/professional development e-course

Start back at refreshing Spanish (30-45 minutes a day, two to three days a week)

These goals are more or less the same as last month, but again–that is how they become habit, you keep doing them until you no longer really think about them, and then you can go to ‘new goals/habits’ and keep repeating those and so on.

These are in addition to other goals that I’m going to be developing to help push that ‘new career’ forward. I will share those later when I do an update on how my second 12-week year is going. These goals help me focus on my health (physical and mental), that I have the had habit of not looking after when I get laser-focused on something else. So, until I make these habits stick (so that no matter how laser-focused I am on something else, I keep doing them)–I will be repeating them in some variation over and over again until they’re habit.

The first half of 2021 is over, and it has helped me slowly start laying the foundation for creating an ‘online’ career and presence. Moving forward, I now need to figure out how to slowly start ‘standing out’ in that crowd, but at the same time stay multi-facet (so I don’t lose interest and get bored).

2021–will be the year of growth, creativity, curiosity, happiness, and prosperity.

Random question: What are some of your favorite business podcasts to listen to??

No Comments BooksCraftsfinancesfitnessHealthMonth in Reviewno spend challengesPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

Reviewing my first attempt at a 12-week year

So I realized that I haven’t posted much this week and that is due in part to it being the end of the second quarter and I’m deep in the reflection zone–looking back at what I had hoped to get accomplished over the past three months and then what I had actually managed to get accomplished.

With today marking the last day of June, the second quarter, and the first half of 2021–I decided that I would reflect on my first actual attempt of a ’12-week year’. If you’ve never heard of a ’12-week year’, I highly recommend reading the book: ‘The 12 Week Year: Get more done in 12 weeks than others do in 12 months’ by Brain P. Moran and Michael Lennington.

I actually read ‘The 12 Week Year’, last year prior to the world going into lock down due to the pandemic (click on the link and it will take you to my mini-review and reflection post from last year). Over the past year and a half, I’ve tried to plan a ’12-week year’ but have always fallen short of the goal. My problem: putting too many items on the calendar or plate, and not having a good breakdown of weekly or monthly goals.

Therefore, this year I decided to merge that idea with an suggestion from another book. The other book is ‘The Renaissance Soul: How to make your passions your life–a creative and practical guide’ by Margaret Lobenstine, and her suggestion was creating focal points to focus on for whatever set period of time you wanted.

I then created a ‘central’ focal point of crafting a ‘new career’ that would be focused on freelance/remote/contract/online/consulting/blogging work allowing me to have flexibility in creating my own schedule and would also be semi-location independent.

From there I created four other focal points that would help me start ‘crafting’ that career and they were/are:

Professional Development (with specific sub-items/topics):

  1. Continuous Learning
  2. Networking
  3. Brand Development and Management
  4. Digital Marketing
  5. Graphic Design
  6. Writing

Personal Development (with specific sub-items/topics):

  1. Continuous Learning
  2. Physical space (developing my own definition/style of minimalism)
  3. Financial health (savings, budgeting, investing, retirement, multiple streams of income)

Health (with specific sub-items/topics):

  1. Mental health (focusing on emotional and spiritual health)
  2. Physical health (getting into the best shape of my life)

Hobbies (with specific sub-items/topics):

  1. Photography
  2. Reading
  3. Writing
  4. Crafts
    • Knitting
    • Cross-stitching
    • Jewelry design/creation
    • Painting
    • Crochet

So while these focal points all seem a little ‘weird’ and you may be wondering how they work together–they’re the four points I’d decided on earlier when I was figuring out what I needed to focus on to work my way out of my ‘burnout’ hole/pit/slump. I realized that I couldn’t just focus on personal/professional development without also focusing on my health and hobbies. They all need to be listed as a reminder, not to hyper-focus in one direction (when I do that–everything else tends to suffer).

It is suggested within ‘Renaissance Soul’ that you only have four to five focal points, and then no more than four or five goals for each focal point. I’m still working on the ‘makers’ for the central focal point, but for the other four I drafted four to five goals for each that I had hoped to get accomplished during the second quarter.

Those goals included:

Within professional development:

  1. Finishing the CSA courses: Medical Writers Organization and Clinical Research Coalition
  2. Starting to learn python programming
  3. Continuing to read and share science news articles on LinkedIn and Twitter
  4. Continuing to add value and network on LinkedIn
  5. Starting (and hopefully finishing) another CSA advance course

Within personal development:

  1. Continue refreshing my Spanish with the Mondly app
  2. Read two non-fiction books a month
  3. Work through various personal finance courses
  4. Develop my vision of ‘minimalism’
  5. Start looking into second income stream ideas

Within health:

  1. Finish the following programs: CIZE, 21-Day Fix Live, 21-Day Fix Extreme Live and then start third round of LIIFT4
  2. Daily meditation
  3. Oracle card drawings (weekly, but hopefully daily)
  4. Cook Monday & Tuesday dinners–new recipes hopefully monthly

Within hobbies:

  1. At least one walk a week at Boomer Lake with my camera (photography)
  2. Read two fiction books a month
  3. Design at least one bracelet/necklace set
  4. Doodle a cross-stitch design

So how did I do with each area?

Professional development goals:

  1. I completed the Clinical Research Coalition program, along with the Intellectual Property Pack program. These are two of the many advanced professional development programs offered by the Cheeky Scientist Association.
  2. I’m still working through the writing and editing assignments for the Medical Writers Organization program. I’m hoping to have those finished sometime during the third quarter of the year.
  3. There may have been a couple of days scattered throughout the quarter that I didn’t share articles on LinkedIn or Twitter–but I try to share at least one article a week (preferably an article a day). I’ve been doing better at this, since I created a separate tracking sheet for this goal.
  4. I’ve been slow in networking lately, as I’m trying to semi-narrow my broad ‘career’ area. Therefore I may only send a connection request once a week, and may also only accept an connection request every few days. I have been also trying to be better at commenting on other people’s posts as well.
  5. I haven’t started learning python, even though I’ve bought several e-courses on the subject. I even have a ‘new’ laptop set aside for this very task–I just need to download python (and possibly one or two other apps), and set aside at least 30 minutes a day to ‘learning’ the program and language.

I would say that I managed to accomplish three and a half out of the five goals–giving me a score of roughly seventy percent.

In terms of personal development:

  1. I haven’t been keeping up with refreshing my Spanish, even though I had been doing a decent job of it at the beginning of the year.
  2. I have been reading non-fiction books, and it probably averages out to one and a half to two books a month, and the books read were:
    • ‘The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living’ by Meik Wiking
    • ‘Permission to Screw Up: How I learned to lead by doing (almost) everything wrong’ by Kristen Hadeed
    • ’25 ways to work from home’ by Jen Ruiz
    • ‘Write to Speak’ by Mike Acker
    • ‘The Financial Diet’ by Chelsea Fagan
  3. I’m still slowly developing my ‘vision’ of minimalism. I know some of the area that I wan to minimize: clothing, DVDs/Cds, and knick-knacks. I also know that since I’m a learner at heart and a bookworm–I’m always going to have a large number of books around me. Since I’m also a crafter–I’m also going to have a good number of craft supplies around me as well. As long as I can balance things out-to where I won’t feel like I’m living in an overly cluttered hole, I’ll be happy. By limiting the items around em, and trying to keep things organized and ‘clean’–I’m also finding it helps alleviate my anxiety and depression as well.
  4. I haven’t worked through any of the personal finance courses that I’ve bought over the years yet.
  5. In terms of looking into the second income stream idea–I think I should have ‘rewritten’ it as looking into both first and second income ideas. I know that there are numerous ways of earning extra cash, and I had been doing a few of them: filling out surveys and selling used DVDs–I just haven’t done either of them lately (due in part to the pandemic).

I would say that I managed to hit about a fifty-five percent on personal development goals. Two were close to zero, but other three had at least some ‘footwork’ done on each of them.

For the health goals:

  1. I did finish my first round of CIZE, but only made it through a week of 21-Day fix live before deciding to concentrate more on intentional movements before starting up my third round of LIIFT4. While I’ve done 21-Day Fix and 21-Day Fix extreme before, this would have been the first time doing the ‘live’ versions. While I like the program–the reason why I called it ‘quits’ before finishing is that I’m trying to improve my relationship with food, and quit the whole diet/counting calories/macros/restricting food mindset. That type of nutritional advice is given a lot through both programs. So until I’m on a better footing with my relationship to food, I’m going to avoid workout programs that also focus heavily on the diet mindset.
  2. I have managed to do evening meditations for the most part. I may only be focus on my breathing for a minute or two–but those two minutes are essential for being able to have a good night sleep.
  3. I’ve been doing evening oracle card drawings, even if I haven’t been sharing them on social media or even writing about them in the journal. That is something I’m aiming at changing–both starting to share more (maybe an 100-day challenge), and journaling about them (possibly weekly blog posts?).
  4. In terms of cooking dinner twice a week–I’ve been doing this, though there may be a night or two where it was decided we’d have leftovers, or grill (which I don’t do), or whatever. But for the most part, I have found several new recipes that are now in the rotation for Monday and Tuesday night suppers. I’m also going to be looking for more ‘summer’ dinner recipes as well–different salads, and so forth.

I would say that I met seventy-five to eighty percent of my health goals for the second quarter. Each one was met at least partially(since there were a few days that I may have missed my meditation time or oracle card drawings).

In terms of my hobbies:

  1. I think I only made it maybe once or twice a month up to Boomer Lake with my camera. The weather was partially to blame–it has either been rainy and/or overcast, or the temperatures and heat index have been a little too high for my liking for walks. I also haven’t been getting up as early in the mornings as I use to in order to be able to get to the lake to watch the sun rise.
  2. I have managed to read quite a few fiction books over the past three months and they include the following:
    • My One Night (On My Own #1) by Carrie Ann Ryan
    • State of Affairs (First Family #1) by Marie Force
    • 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 #33) by Becca Van
    • 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
  3. While I have several ideas for necklace/bracelet sets, I haven’t actually gotten around to creating any of them.
  4. I have semi-doodle or drawn a cross-stitch pattern. I’m also thinking that my first ‘real practice’ piece is going to be seeing how many geometrical shapes I can fit on it, and if I can use every single color of thread at least once.

I would say that I managed to to meet about half my goals in terms of hobbies, the only one that I totally didn’t get close to was the jewelry design/creation. I managed to get at least a monthly walk in at Boomer, slowly attempting to teach myself cross-stitch, and reading (at least fiction) has never been a problem.

So I ranged from about fifty to seventy-five/eighty percent on my goals for the second quarter, and if I added them all u–over all I probably averaged about sixty percent.

Not great, but not bad for my first ‘official’ trial at a 12-week year. I know the areas that I need to focus more on (mainly the computer intensive goals). These will simply require setting aside actual time in the day dedicated to those specific tasks. I won’t try to do each one daily, but will aim for at least two-to-three times a week for each and slowly work up to daily work on each of them.

I knew that my first trial wasn’t going to be perfect–but that wasn’t my goal: my goal was progress, seeing if I could stretch my comfort zone a little more each month and branch out in different areas.

I managed to do that in terms of professional development, learning some of the basics of both clinical research and intellectual property. I think it would be interesting doing data analysis for clinical research (but I wouldn’t want to be the person overseeing numerous clinical sites), and I will be looking in to different aspects of intellectual property (mainly copyrights and trademarks), as I don’t see myself trying to climb the ladder on the patent side of things.

While reading has never been a problem–it is more of ensuring that I’m in the ‘proper’ mindset for reading non-fiction, as it tends not be quite the ‘story’ that fiction books are, and I at times lose interest fast.

I’m developing my own sense of health/fitness and will be deciding soon if keeping my Beachbody on demand subscription is worth it or not. I’ve decided that it is time to honor my body and what it is actually capable of doing–that means substituting in exercises for the different lunges, working on trying to do a normal pushup (and forgetting about tricep pushups), and just shaking my head and sitting out the tricep dips.

Moving into the third quarter of the year, the goals for the four focal points will be semi-similar to the goals set for the second quarter.

Third quarter goals will include:

Professional Development:

  1. Finish up the following CSA programs: Medical Writers Organization and then either Government Careers Union or Regulatory Affairs Council
  2. Finish the following short courses on Udemy:
    • 15 errors in scientific writing and how to fix them
    • How to become a freelance editor
    • Kickstart a freelance editor and proofreader career on Upwork
    • How to be a journalist
  3. Start learning python coding by working through the following courses:
    • Data Science for beignners: Hand on Python (on Udemy)
    • Complete Python course (on StackSkills)
  4. Continue reading and sharing science news on LinkedIn and Twitter
  5. Continue adding value and networking on Linkedin

Bonus Professional Development activities:

  1. Write and publish: ‘Trouble-shooting tips for Molecular Cloning’
  2. Write and publish: ‘Polymerases: why the native ‘reverse transcriptase’ isn’t a problem for the SARS-CoV2 mRNA vaccine’ (Title may change)
  3. Work through the copywriting e-course: Write Your Way to Freedom

Personal Development Goals:

  1. Set aside 30-45 minutes (two to three days a week) for refreshing Spanish
  2. Read one to two non-fiction books a month
  3. Work through the following e-courses:
    • The complete personal finance course (on Udemy)
    • Reinvent your career (on Udemy)
    • How to work for yourself (on Udemy)
    • Freelance writing 101: build a successful writing career (on SkillShare)
    • Content marketing: blogging for growth (on SkillShare)
    • Writing and blogging with passion: create a flexible editorial plan and calendar (on SkillShare)
  4. Continue developing my vision of ‘minimalism’
  5. Start trying to ‘draft’ first/second and possibly third stream of income ideas (more tied to professional)

Health goals:

  1. Finish LIIFT4 (basically around the 23rd) and then start Morning Meltdown 100 (will go from 7/26/21 to 11/2/21)
  2. Daily meditation and oracle card reading/drawings
  3. Work through the following courses:
    • Mindfulness for Anxiety (on Udemy)
    • Learn Tarot in a Day (on Udemy)
    • Explicit Tarot: Learn Tarot Card Reading through Story Telling (on Udemy)
  4. Start a daily gratitude entry in the journal
  5. New recipes at least once a week/month

Hobby Goals:

  1. At least one walk a month at Boomer Lake, and maybe start trying food photography as well
  2. Work through the following courses:
    • Food Photography (on StackSkills)
    • How to create an engaging food post (on SkillShare)
    • How to start a creative business through blogging for beginners (on SkillShare)
  3. Read at least two to three fiction books a month
  4. Continue to doodle/draw/sketch cross-stitch patterns and create the geometric/multi-colored ‘trial’ piece
  5. Design/create necklace and/or bracelets–individually or as sets.

You might have noticed that I have quite a few e-courses down for the third quarter compared to second. We’re entering the ‘dog days of summer’–where it will either be too hot, too humid, or both in terms of being outdoors for extended periods of time. Therefore, I’m planning those days now–instead of wondering what to do when I reach them.

I still need to break these goals down into monthly and then weekly goals (in addition to other goals I’ll have for each week). My main goal for the third quarter is to meet at least seventy-five to eighty percent of each set of goals, with an overall percentage foal of eighty percent (meaning by the end of September I’ve accomplished at least four out of the five goals).

Have you done a 12-week year before? If you have–how long have you been doing them? And what is your running average of goal completion?

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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.

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