Tag: learning

Adding in the gaming factor: part one of the development plan

Okay.

I redrew my personal/professional growth game last week. I decided to remove a board, and condense certain topics down in order to have a ‘single’ board.

The ‘rules’:

  1. No longer than six weeks per turn
  2. Roll each set of dice three times. Then after all six rolls & determining what squares I’ve landed on–consolidate them down into a list.
    • I have two different colored sets of dice (and I only use six of the seven dice; these are basically the dice one uses for role playing games). After rolling all six dice:
    • Lowest to highest; and lowest number is ‘by itself’
    • Then start adding up the numbers
    • Also…it’s eighty-four squares back around to ‘start’
  3. Pick three to four items to complete. BUT list out everything, so that if something gest completed sooner than the six week period, I can go back and choose other items to complete.
  4. To keep myself accountable: Two blog posts: when starting & then after the six week period. Possibly then take a day or two off before rolling the dice again (that way it isn’t two back-to-back posts on the same day).
  5. Timing:
    • For reading: Fiction books (one week, including time to write & post reviews). For non-fiction books (no longer than three weeks per book)
    • For e-courses: it depends on the length of course. But aim for at least 30 minutes per afternoon working on a e-course
    • For refreshing/learning a foreign language: Minimum of 25 minutes/day. This is actually an ongoing task, regardless of whether or not I landed on the square
    • For crafts: this will also vary (depending on the craft project)
    • For reviewing ‘subject matters’:
      • Randomly choose a chapter
      • Word search (or crossword puzzle) of key terms
      • Infographic or poster
      • Minimum of 15-20 slides on key points
      • Quiz or test

Notes: The textbooks for development biology & genetics are either in the storage unit or garage currently. For the topics of oncology, small RNA biology, molecular cloning, and the ‘-omics-‘ items I don’t really have textbooks for those items (or at least not ones that are fully devoted to all aspects of the topic).

I rolled the dice this afternoon, and the following list was generated based off the squares I landed on:

Landed on multiple times:

Reading (seven times)

E-course (six times)

Review oncology (three times)

Squares I landed on twice:

  1. Landscape design
  2. Interior design
  3. Review cell biology
  4. Review biochemistry

Squares I landed on once:

  1. Learn about public health
  2. Review molecular biology
  3. Research an interesting person in history
  4. Review stats
  5. Small RNA biology
  6. Learn graphic design
  7. Learn about international law
  8. Content development
  9. Learn about economics
  10. Ancient South America
  11. Review molecular cloning
  12. Unplug for the night

What am I going to be focusing on first?

Reading:

I have numerous nonfiction books that I’ve started over the past few months. A goal is to finish at least three of those during the next six weeks. In addition to reading three fiction books (at least) and writing small book reviews over.

E-course:

I plan on working through at least three e-courses on Skillshare and/or Udemy. Bonus points if courses cover items listed further down on the ‘squares’ landed on (such as economics, graphic design, public health, or stats).

Review oncology:

I plan on continuing my oncology blog series on the science/health/medical blog. Over the next six weeks I plan on getting the blog posts for adenocarcinomas up (this is the first ‘carcinoma’ subtopic), and will actually be covering cell biology/anatomy as I talk more about the two major gland systems in the body in regards to how cancers can develop within them.

‘Fourth’ item:

The ‘fourth’ thing will actually be two different things: (a) unplugging for the night. I plan on ‘unplugging’ at least three to four nights per week. This means that I stay off of the computer after say 7pm, and then put the phone on do-not disturb/airplane mode for the same time period. This will allow me to either work on crafts, clean/organize, or read. (b) content development, as this is basically an on-going task (along with the refresh/learn a foreign language).

Those are the main four/five things I will be focusing on…if I feel the need to ‘add’ something in—I’ll add in interior design (as I’m working at trying to turn my bedroom into a ‘micro’ studio apartment (minus the kitchen & bathroom) by the end of fall).

A major goal of the next six weeks: time & project management. Figuring out how to balance out the different ‘projects’ for the different blogs, and other social media channels. In addition to rekindling the enjoyment of research & developing unique ways of sharing the information.

I’m not sure what type of ‘rewards’ I will be going with for the game…as I’m also trying to get the debt down, limit the amount of ‘stuff’ I buy, and am aiming at only buying things that I will actually use (i.e. limit the number of random knick knacks that I might decide to buy). 

I’m also working on the intentional movement/fitness board game—as I decided I wanted something a little more than just a circle with things written. Possibly a similar board game, but with specific exercises in different boxes (the ‘random’ aspect would be the amount of weights lifted and/or time spent on each exercise).

Check back in late July (July 29th to be exact) to find out how I did with the first round of the game…and to find out which books I finished reading, which e-courses I worked through, and how I did at getting the next series of oncology blog posts up on the science/health/medical blog.

How do you go about expanding your learning—by games? To-do lists (tied to goal lists)? Totally randomly, or what? Share your tips below.

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Check-in time on the 44 goals before 44…take four

4th check-in on my ’44 goals before turning 44’ project; & realizing that I’m four months away from my 44th birthday. It’s been a seesaw in terms of productivity…some days I’m productive…other days I’m sitting in procrastination corner. If it were a perfect world & I was totally on top of my game—I’d be two-thirds of the way through the list (having 29 or 30 goals checked off).

It isn’t a perfect world though…I have gotten several goals accomplished, and there are others that are either halfway done or I consider on-going goals (so can’t consider them ‘completed’ until my birthday).

So what goals are completed? Halfway? On-going, or just not started yet? Images for the drawings, paintings, and needlepoint projects are after the list.

Well here are the 44 goals that I wrote out on the evening of my 43rd birthday last year:

  1. Starting my freelance science, health, medical communications business. In progress–I have the website, and I’m slowly getting blog posts up. I’m still in the progress of creating a portfolio to have on the site as well to highlight the types of communication pieces I would enjoy creating for customers. The site: jessicamatts(dot)com
  2. Transition into a remote science/health/medical comms position. Need to have a portfolio (possibly) and need to start looking to see what companies are hiring remote comms workers. I really don’t want to have an hybrid or in-person job.
  3. Launching a YouTube channel. I have a YouTube channel…I just need to ‘rename/rebrand’ it, and figure out what the hell I’m going to talk about on it (whether it’s a mix of science and things or strictly a science/health/medical channel).
  4. Launch a podcast. Need to launch the YouTube channel first…so I’m not sure if this will happen before my birthday or not.
  5. Complete at least ten different Udemy courses: I’ve watched three; a minimum of seven more
    • Gods and Kings: The Art History of Mesopotamia & Arabia
    • Beginners guide to SEO for medical writers
    • Writing an Effective & Successful Business Plan
  6. Complete at least twelve different Skillshare courses: I’ve watched seven; a minimum of five more to go
    • Creating Your Dream Career: Uncovering & Apply Your Creative Strengths
    • Productivity Habits that Stick, Using Time Theming
    • Goal Setting for Creatives: play to your strengths & tap into flow
    • The Art of Setting Goals: Create Your Roadmap to Success
    • Creative business plan for artists: creative a thriving business
    • Creative journaling: getting started
    • Growing your creativity
  7. Read at least 44 non-fiction/historical fiction books: I’m a little over 2/3 of the way done with this one. I’ve read 30 & only have 14 more to go.
    • Monarchs of the Sea (The extraordinary 500-million year history of cephalopods) by Danna Staaf
    • Conquering your burnout: an actionable guide to overcome burnout by Veronica Llorca-Smith
    • Beyond Beautiful: A Practical Guide to being happy, confident and you in a looks-obsessed world by Anuschka Rees
    • Unfuck your brain: Using science to get over anxiety, depression, anger, freakouts, & triggers by Faith Harper
    • Things no one will tell fat girls: A handbook for unapologetic living by Jes Baker
    • Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement by Angela Y. Davis
    • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
    • Body Positive Power: Because life is already happening and you don’t need flat abs to live it by Megan Jayne Crabbe
    • Flying Snakes & Griffin Claws: and other classical myths, historical oddities, and scientific curiosities by Adrienne Mayor
    • Letters to a Starseed by Rebecca Campbell
    • White Women: everything you already know about your own racism & how to be better by Regina Jackson & Saira Rao
    • Healthy at Every Size: The surprising truth about your weight by Linda Bacon, PhD
    • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive approach to living a good life by Mark Manson
    • I’m Not Yelling: A Black Woman’s Guide to Navigating the Workplace by Elizabeth Leiba
    • Pantesdrunk by Misha Rantanen
    • Find Your Unicorn Space: Reclaim Your Creative Life in a Too-Busy World by Eve Rodsky
    • Bust Your Fears (Rebel Diva #4): Three tools to help conquer fear by Tikiri Herath
    • Top 10 Most Interesting Dinosaurs by Daniel Boszo
    • What if it does work out: How a side hustle can change your life by Susie Moore
    • 50 Dinosaur Tales: And 108 More Discoveries from the Golden Age of Dinos by Sabrina Ricci with Garret Kruger
    • Waking up in the Winter: In Search of What Really matters at midlife by Cheryl Richardson
    • Becoming What you are: A concise guide to awakening the light within by Two Workers
    • B*tch don’t kill my vibe: How to stop worrying, end negative thinking, cultivate positive thoughts, & start living your best life (self help with a little sass) by Reese Owens
    • Pagan Portals: Sekhmet: Lady of Flame, Eye of Ra by Olivia Church
    • Pagan Portals: Isis: Great of Magic, She of 10,000 Names by Olivia Church
    • Things You Might Find Hidden in My Ear: Poems from Gaza by Mosab Abu Toha
    • Just Tell Me What I Want: How to Find Your Purpose When You Have No Idea What it is by Sara Kravitz
    • Headstrong: 52 women who changed science & the world by Rachel Swaby
    • Just do the damn thing: how to sit your @ss down long enough to exert willpower, develop self discipline, stop procrastination, increase productivity…sh!t done (Self help with a little sass) by Reese Owens
    • Authentic: How to be yourself & Why it Matters by Stephen Joseph
  8. Become fluent in Spanish. I need to stick with a daily time to get onto Mondly to work on this and #9 as well
  9. Become proficient in Arabic. See above
  10. Learn to say hello in ten different languages. See #8
  11. Learn to say thank you in ten different languages. See #8
  12. Complete a 365-day photography challenge. Nope. Need to create a ‘schedule’/outline and add this to my 45 things before 45 list
  13. Monthly editorial calendars, weekly/daily to-do lists. This is an ongoing goal, and one I’ve been improving with over the past two or three months compared to the first few months last year.
  14. What is my definition of success? Finished:
    • Being curious, constantly learning, creative, present, productive & aware that not everyday is going to be rainbows & unicorns…sometimes they’re going to be thunderstorms & disasters.
    • Success is more than money, influence & power. It’s being a member of the global community, helping to improve society in whatever small way(s) I’m able to.
    • It’s being comfortable with what I have, doing what I can with what I have, while striving to be a little better tomorrow than I was today. I’m only in “competition” with the me I was yesterday.
  15. Create a vision board based on that definition. Still collecting ‘images/words/phrases’ to place on the vision board.
  16. Learn basic sign language. I think I bought an e-course on this topic.
  17. Get debt down by a quarter to half (based on where it is now). Not sure how well I’m doing..since I’m still in the planning stages of my businesses
  18. Continue getting into the best shape of my life. I do need to figure out what some metrics will be to aim for (heavy lifting or something…because currently its a little too vague still)
  19. Learning about body confidence. Ongoing–have read several book on the subject (see above)
  20. Create a happiness plan. Need to set this up during the next two months
  21. Daily mediation on-going
  22. Stretch daily on-going
  23. Hold a 90-second plank. Need to get on this one
  24. Develop & stick with a consistent exercise schedule. On the agenda for the week.
  25. Make some mosaic art
  26. Make some resin art. Semi-completed. I made a small ‘container’
  27. Draw/doodle, color & frame an original drawing. Completed. See below for the pictures
  28. Draw/doodle, paint & frame original drawings. Completed. Again, see below for the pictures
  29. Start making jewelry. Semi-started. Attempted to make an resin pendant
  30. Complete at least another six cross-stitch projects. In progress-I have one finished, and am currently working on a second large one. Not sure if I’ll get four smaller ones done or not before my birthday.
  31. Create my own calendar using my nature photographs. Debating on whether to do a 2025 or try to make a planner for 2026 with my own photographs
  32. Create at least one piece of wood-burnt art. Haven’t tried yet. I have the kit…just haven’t worked up the nerve to try yet.
  33. Monthly full & new moon goals. I’ve only missed Oct 2023 full moon posting. This is on-going
  34. Daily oracle card drawings. This is on-going. I need to determine the best time to actually also post them to the oracel card channel that I started on instagram
  35. Learn to make sushi. I have a sushi making ‘kit’ and cookbook in my amazon cart to order.
  36. Get a haircut. Since there is starting to be a spike in SARS-CoV2 cases again…not sure if this will happen before my birthday or not.
  37. Create a coloring book from various (uncolored) doodles/drawings. I just need to retake a bunch of photographs (to ensure that that pictures are ‘centered’) so kinda in progress
  38. Complete a Sudoku or crossword puzzle daily (a minimum of 60-day challenge). Currently about two-thirds of the way through the 60-day Sudoku challenge…may have also hit that mark (not sure if I started that on March 20 or not). Almost finished
  39. Complete at least five 30-day challenges. So far have completed at least 30 days of the Sudoku challenge. on-going.
  40. Read at least two ‘new’ (to me) banned books. Halfway done:
    • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  41. Read at least two ‘new’ (to me) classics
  42. Read at least one ‘new’ trilogy (or longer) series. Finished. Have read at least five to seven this year.
    • Lost & Found series by Catherine Cowles (five books–series is done)
    • Cottonwood Cove series by Laura Pavlov (five books–series is done)
    • Lakeshore U by L.A. Cotton (four books, not sure if there are more yet)
    • Kincaid Brothers by Kaylee Ryan (six books, plus another two to finish)
    • Playing to Win by Bella Matthews (three books, plus one more to finish)
    • The Defiant Kings by Bella Matthews (five books–series is done)
    • The Kings of Kroydon Hills by Bella Matthews (four books–series is done)
  43. Finish creating an inspiring work/crafts area
  44. Write a letter to my future self (again). Wrote one for me to read/open on either 12/31/2025 or 01/01/2026

The three pictures that I drew and colored with either colored pencils or markers.

Two of the four paintings that I’ve done. I did two watercolors & two acrylics (one of each for two different sizes–the 9×12 seen here & then 8×10).

The finished needlepoint project on the left & the progress of the other large one on the right.

But, since it isn’t a perfect world—I’ve ‘completed’ a few goals: doodling/drawing, coloring & framing at least one original drawing (I did three); doodling/drawing, painting & framing at least one original piece of art (I’ve done four); reading at least one ‘new’ trilogy (I’ve read at least two—truthfully probably closer to five now), determining what my definition of success is (still need to make the vision board), and writing a letter to my future self.

That’s five goals finished…and technically there are three others that are halfway finished (reading at least two banned books, doing at least a two-month challenge of attempting to solve a Sudoku puzzle each morning & creating some resin art). This means I’ve accomplished almost 11.5% of my goals (and if I add in the three halfway completed goals—I’m a little over 18.2% of the way). 

Several of the goals are ongoing goals—meaning I won’t consider them ‘finished’ until I hit my birthday (there are seven which accounts for almost 16% of the goals). So—that means there are 30 to 31 goals that I should still aim at trying to finish over the next four months). Though in all honesty I probably won’t become fluent in Spanish or proficient in Arabic in four months…these goals will possibly also be added to my 45 goals before 45 list, along with the new 365-day photography challenge.

In terms of reading goals: I’ve finished one (reading at least one ‘new’ trilogy or longer series; I think I have like five to seven actually listed above), I’m halfway done with another (reading at least two ‘new’ banned books), and I’m almost two-thirds of the way through the nonfiction/historical fiction challenge (I’ve read 30 books, which means only 14 more to go). I still need to read another ‘new’ banned book & two ‘new’ classics.

In terms of the continuously learning (aka e-courses), I increased the total number of courses for both Udemy & Skillshare—I’m now stating I will finish at least ten Udemy courses (I’ve done three—so I’m also a third of the way there); and I will finish at least twelve Skillshare courses (I’ve done seven—so I’m a little over halfway done ‘watching’ these courses).

Progress is measured in the baby-steps forward, the tasks being checked off the list—and an new goal list is being brainstormed to come into being on the eve of my 44th birthday. I’ll check in later (possibly next week) with the goal list that I’m aiming to accomplish before July 20.

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Return of the monthly accountability posts

So I’ve decided that I’m going to try to ‘revive’ a blog series that I let fall by the wayside last year. That series—“months in review”. Basically I’m trying to restart my monthly accountability posts. 

I think I only managed to do a “January in Review” last year (possibly…maybe?), and then I barely posted on either blog for several months. This was due in part to the family medical issue that had started in August 2022…it continued into the early months of 2023…and ‘accumulated’ with my mom passing away during emergency surgery in May of 2023. Needless to say—in addition to trying to manage burnout symptoms, I’m also trying to manage grief as well. Then it didn’t help in October when the world lost it’s shit and any sense of sanity & common sense.

So, the ‘month in review’ posts—what were they? They were monthly accountability posts. They were posts were I listed out various goals that I attempted for the month & how I did with each of them, and at the end of the post were goals I set for the following month. They were also posts where I’d give an update on the SARS-CoV2 pandemic and various stats. This ‘new’ series will be mainly covering the goals and whether I accomplished them or not—and if not, what I plan on doing differently to accomplish that goal within the first few days of the following month.

You will also notice that I’m going to be referring to personal/professional development as personal/professional growth—because I feel like ‘development’ has a slightly negative vibe to it. I don’t need to ‘develop’ into a writer…I’m already a writer, but I can ‘grow’ into becoming a better writer, photographer, blogger, or whatever.

So, with this ‘restart’ to the month in review series, what were my goals for April? Those goals included:

  1. Reading at least three non-fiction books
  2. Reading at least three fiction books
  3. Complete at least one 30-day challenge (working on a Sudoku puzzle, iPhone photography, something)
  4. Coming up with an intentional movement plan that I can stick with
  5. Outline/mind-map for a YouTube channel
  6. At least two blurbs/reviews on science papers (for the science, health, medical blog)
  7. Working through at least two e-courses
  8. 30 minutes 3x/week on Mondly (refreshing or learning a foreign lanuage)
  9. Post to each blog (minimum once–would like two or more times)
  10. Mind-maps & outlines for different projects (mainly for the science/health, medical blog):
    • Oncology series (carcinomas & sarcomas)
    • What is a microbe series
    • Metabolism series (why some supplements are ‘scams’)
    • Why some foods (chocolate, onions, walnuts/pecans) are bad for dogs & cats

These goals are in addition to the goals that I’d drawn on my April BINGO card (and actually some of these goals are from the April BINGO card). So how did I do with each of the goals?

Reading at least three non-fiction books. I read the following books during April:

  1. Top 10 most interesting dinosaurs by Daniel Bozso 
  2. 50 Dinosaur Tales: And 108 more discoveries from the golden age of dinos by Sabrina Ricci with Garret Kruger
  3. Becoming What You Are: A Concise Guide to Awakening the light within by Two Workers
  4. B*tch Don’t Kill my Vibe by Reese Owen
  5. What if it does work out: How a side hustle can change your life by Susie Moore
  6. Waking up in the winter: In Search of What Really Matters at Midlife by Cheryl Richardson

So 100% on this goal…and actually managed to double the number of books that I read.

Reading at least three fiction books. I read the following fiction books during April:

  1. Moments for You (Wilder Brothers/Cousins #7) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  2. The Keeper (Playing to Win #1) by Bella Matthews
  3. The Wildcat (Playing to Win #2) by Bella Matthews
  4. The Knockout (Playing to Win #3) by Bella Matthews
  5. Caged (The Defiant Kings #1) by Bella Matthews
  6. Shaken (The Defiant Kings #2) by Bella Matthews
  7. Iced (The Defiant Kings #3) by Bella Matthews
  8. Overruled (The Defiant Kings #4) by Bella Matthews
  9. Haven (The Defiant Kings #5) by Bella Matthews

Seeing a pattern? I found a new (to-me) author—Bella Matthews, and have been binge reading her backlist (after having purchased the Playing to win series). I think I’ve also (more or less) finished two other connected series…I just forgot to write them down on teh wod document that I have going to track how many books I’ve read during 2024.

Completing at least one 30-day challenge (100% complete):

This month’s challenge was attempting to finish a Sudoku puzzle everyday. I probably should have kept track of how many days I actually managed to complete the puzzle without messing up…but I’d say it was probably somewhere between 2/3 and 3/4 of the time (so somewhere between 20 and 25 days of ‘correctly’ finishing the puzzle).

I’d started also trying to do a crossword puzzle daily as well…and I’d say the percentage I got done was around 10-15%…not great…so maybe try to work on getting better at crossword puzzles over the next few months.

Coming up with an intentional movement plan that I can hopefully stick with (~60% complete):

I’ve created a basic board game for intentional movements…though I’m thinking of purchasing a hula hoop and some battle ropes to add into the mix. My problem for the past couple of years has been ‘boredom’…aka—doing the same workout programs that I’ve done in the past. In order to break that ‘cycle’ I need to mix things up—and also not focus on a number on the scale or a number on the tag of clothes…but aim to get into the best shape of my life, honor my body, and accept (plus work with) the limitations of my body—i.e. knowing that lunges, pushups, tricep dips, and even jogging/running aren’t things I should be doing a lot of…though jogging may be possible a few months down the road—the others I should avoid due to my bone structure (being knocked-kneed/bow-legged; messed up bone structure due to the hereditary multiple osteochondromas).

My biggest hurdle currently—is figuring out the ‘time’ to workout daily. I’m not a big fan of being ‘observed’ when working out…so yeah—still need to figure out the best ‘time’ of day to do things. 

Outline/mind-map for a YouTube channel (possibly 5% completed?):

Not quite done with this one…mainly because I haven’t quite decided if it’s going to be solely an ‘science, health, med’ comms/topics channel, or is it going to be like me—multifaceted. The single topic channel would be in theory easier to plan than a multifaceted one…but I’m worried that I’d get bored with it…though that could just be the inner critic/imposter syndrome whispering in my ear to keep me ‘stuck’.

Two blurbs/reviews on sciences papers (for the science, health, med blog) (5% completed):

Nope..I have the notes for one blurb/review (over the leafy and weedy sea dragon genomes), and just need to go back through and edit it down—I was over thinking things and started to also create a mini-review, when I should have been making note of things I found of interest and wanted to research on their own…with then linking back to the original ‘blurb’ that brought the ‘new topic’ to my attention. 

Working through at least two e-courses (100%–I watched/took notes):

I watched two ‘short’ e-courses on SkillShare in April, and those two courses were:

“The Art of Setting Goals: Create Your Roadmap to Success” and

“Creative Business Plan for Artists: Create a Thriving Business”

Now…I just need to go back and complete the ‘assignments’ for both of the courses—in order to get the ‘certificates’ of completion. Which will then help me actually move forward with trying to launch potentially two different freelance businesses (the freelance science, health, medical comms & the creative hobby/personal/professional growth business).

30 minutes 3x/week on Mondly (refreshing or learning a language) (only about 5% completed)

Nope…I managed to do this for the first few days of the month, and then I let all sorts of other ‘tasks’ take precedence over logging into Mondly for a half-hour to practice learning a foreign language.

Post to each blog (minimum once—would like two or more times) (100%—creative blog was several times; while the science, health & medical blog was once)

I usually manage to post to the creative blog at least four times a month (in regards to setting goals via of the new and full moon phases), and sometimes I manage a fifth or sixth time (book reviews or updates on what’s going on in West Asia). The site that usually I have more ‘trouble’ posting to is the science, health, and medical comms blog/website. 

I actually managed to post to the science, health, & medical blog website once last month—back on the 7th, I posted about 2024 world health day. I’m behind on the oncology blog series—only because I’ve realized that I need to divide some of the posts into multiple posts. A goal for May is to get back to a biweekly schedule of posting the oncology blog series, plus possibly posting about other topics as well (potential public/global health posts in regards to the rise of certain infectious diseases in certain areas of the world).

Mind-maps & outlines for different projects (mainly for the science, health, medical blog/website): (possibly about 45% done)

The oncology blog series (focusing on ‘location-based’ classification of cancers currently) ~35% done. I need to break these two outlines into ‘multiple’ outlines, as I’d noticed that the posts were getting ‘fairly’ long (i.e. getting close to almost ‘mini-review length–at least in my mind).

What is a microbe series–~80% done. I have a basic outline and some notes. But I should ensure that I have a couple of ‘examples’ of each group/family/class of microbes picked out and a outline for what I’d like to cover on those organisms.

Metabolism series–haven’t started

What various foods aren’t good for dogs and cats–haven’t started

I have notes and a rough outline for the what is a microbe series. I have a very rough draft for the carcinoma position of the oncology blog series (location based cancers part I). Since I haven’t fine-tuned the carcinoma outline…I haven’t moved forward to the sarcoma outline..which is currently ‘okay’ since I’m so far behind in writing/posting this series to the science, health, med blog. 

Conclusions:

So with April being the first month (in over a year) in which I tried to set ‘a laundry list’ of goals…I’m happy to see that there were only two or three that were less than 10% completed (refresh/learn a foreign language, planning out the YouTube channel, & blurbs on science/health/medical papers). I’m acknowledging that my inner critic/imposter syndrome was probably responsible for sidelining me for a good chunk of the month in regards to those two goals, and writing/posting to the science, health, & medical blog/website.

Reading is always something I enjoy…I’m proud of the fact that I managed to read/finish half a dozen non-fiction books this month, and am aiming to read at least three next month as well (if I can do half a dozen, great). Research & writing is something else I enjoy…I just need to get into the mindset that ‘good, decent, & done’ is a better mindset than ‘great, in-depth, and perfect’.

Perfectionism, comparing myself to others, and feeling like I need to have all the answers/solutions/every outcome mapped before moving forward is whats kept me stuck for quite a while (not to mention the whole family medical crisis/grief/finding my new normal). But I can say that I’m slowly making my way forward on my own path…

So what goals are going on my ‘laundry’ list of goals for May? They include:

  1. Reading at least three non-fiction books
  2. Reading at least four fiction
  3. Completing at least one more 30-day challenge
  4. Start following my intentional movement (aka exercise) plan
  5. Finish the outline/mind-map and possibly launch the YouTube channel
  6. Blurbs on the science, health, medical papers
  7. Working through at least three e-courses
  8. 30 minutes 4x/week on Mondly
  9. Post to each blog at least twice
  10. Mind-maps & outlines:
    • The two topics from last month (metabolism & foods that aren’t good for pets & why)
    • “Interviews” with different dinosaurs & extinct animals
    • What makes us “toxic/poisonous” (“interviews” with different creatures that either produce their own toxins/posions or house microbes that produce them)
    • Interviews with citizens of ancient civilizations (Copan, Mesa Verde, Stonehenge, plus others)
    • Ancient Civilizations (Mesopotamia & Ancient Egypt)
  11. Writing/working on projects for at least 30-minutes a day (minimum two different projects a day)
  12. Work on the large needlepoint project and maybe (start and/or finish) a small needlepoint proejct
  13. Create a rough draft of a coloring book from some of my black & white doodles.

There are ‘more’ goals listed for May…but several are just setting up for the research step of the project (such as goal number ten—the mind-maps & outlines). Others may be ‘competed’ quickly (such as say just reading four fiction books—but I know I’ll be reading more than just four). 

Having thirteen goals listed for May means I’ll also be working on my time and project management skills. Especially when it comes to ensuring that I’m doing my daily intentional movement, making time to be on Mondly learning a foreign language, working through an e-course, mind-mapping & creating outlines, research, writing/editing & publishing content. The overall goal for May is to complete at least fifty percent of a third of the goals; complete seventy-five percent of a third, and hundred precent of the other third. Yes, I know that with thirteen goals—it’s not an ‘even’ third.

How do you go about goal setting? Yearly? Quarterly? Monthly? What style of goal-setting do you use? SMART goals? OKR (Objective, Key Results)? WOOP (Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan)? GROW (Goal, Reality, Options, Will)?

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Updating my comfort diagram: reflections & planning for the fall

So I spent a good chunk of last week working on my 3rd comfort diagram. I’d been introduced to the concept about six months ago by one of my coaches during a zoom call (I’d been more or less rambling on what I thought my future plans were).

I’d decided that I was going to do a new version of it every three months, but also introduce a new zone between the comfort and stretch zone–the bounce zone.

I’d chosen the name ‘bounce zone’, because I didn’t feel like there were things that I’d been working on from the stretch or risk zones that could be moved all the way into the comfort zone (i.e. I didn’t feel like they’d become fully ingrained habits yet).

3rd rendition of my comfort zone diagram. Growth is being made, everything is back and forth.

You might notice that I still have blogging within the bounce zone. This is because at times I feel like I have ‘writer’s block’ and my inner critic/imposter syndrome pops in every so often and I end up not posting as frequently as I had originally planned.

As I was working on the diagram, I decided I would add one or two things into the stretch zone:

Intuitive eating, which is something I’ve been working on for the past few months. I have it in the stretch zone only because there are a couple of points that I’m still slightly struggling with:

(1) Eating enough protein during the day (especially at breakfast)

(2) Savoring the meals/snacks (i.e. taking more than ten to fifteen minutes to each the meal), and finally

(3) figuring out what type of intentional movements I enjoy doing, figuring out how to incorporate them into my day and then ignoring the rest. I know it may look funny putting movement (or exercise) in with nutrition, but they’re tied together in society.

The second thing I added to the stretch zone is learning more about UX (user experience), as a possible freelance/remote direction to go in.

I’ve actually completed a couple of courses over the past six month where I learned the basics on clinical research and intellectual property. I’m currently keeping them in the ‘stretch zone’ as I haven’t quite figured out how to tie them into the direction that I’m thinking of going (which is freelance/remote/contract focusing first on writing, and then possibly adding in data analysis, project and product management at a later point). Both topics were interesting, but I also realized that I probably wouldn’t want to go in either direction full time (in terms of clinical research–unless I was at the bench, I possibly would have to travel between clinical research sites frequently, and to become a patent agent would require passing the patent bar exam).

While I would like to possibly travel (depending on when the various variants of the SARS-CoV2 virus are contained), I don’t want to constantly travel for work, and currently I don’t want to go in a direction that would require a large amount of money and a standardized test.

But what has changed over the last three months?

Cross-stitching and science writing have bounced their way into the bounce zone, while time management and refreshing a foreign language have bounced their way back into the stretch zone.

I’ve realized that I enjoy doing more abstract design and creation (in other words not having to follow a set pattern), and my first cross-stitch project is actually a continuous circle with a few bumps in the road made up of different colors. I’m going to see how many different colors it takes to fill up the fabric, and not worry about little mistakes that I may make along the way.

I’m slowly making my way into science writing again. I managed to land a volunteer medical content writing position with a online Canadian magazine (Medical News Bulletin) last month. While it is a volunteer position (and they own the ‘rights’ to my work), I am learning the ins and outs of science communication for the lay audience. Hopefully then, this will flow over to the blog and I will be getting out at least one science related blog post a month (and possibly one to two science related pages a month as well).

I’m also trying to focus a little more on my spiritual health as well over the past few months, and it has bounced (along with oracle cards) to sit along side meditation in the bounce zone. This has been an area that has been bouncing between the stretch and the bounce zones the past couple of months (and will probably still bounce the next couple of months). I’ve always been fascinated and intrigued by ancient cultures and practices more so than contemporary practices–and have felt like an outsider growing up due to those interests.

Over the past month, I’ve picked up quite a few non-fiction books related to ancient cultures and practices for two reasons: one because they interest me, and I actually have the time to indulge in those interests; and two–they may serve as ‘reference’ books for a couple of short story ideas that I have bouncing around in my head.

Various non-fiction books that I’ve bought over the past month

I like Graham Hancock–I have his book ‘Underworld: The Mysterious Origins of Civilization’ in my storage unit. I bought this book back in the late 1990s after I finished reading the Egyptian Book of the Dead that I got for Christmas one year. The others were bought because I’m either fascinated with the civilization (Mayan) or feel like they could be good ‘reference’ books for short story ideas.

My time management has been slipping for the past month or more, due in part to the warmer weather (so I want to be sitting outside more often than I do during other times of the year, and preferably without my computer), and my anxiety has been spiking due to the rise in the number of SARS-CoV2 cases due to delta variant running rampant through the country.

So, I’m going to have to just ensure that I have various time management apps up and running on both my computer and phone (and possibly add in the different news sites to the ‘blocked for the day’ list)–because if I can’t see the news, I can’t stress out over it and have my anxiety spike (yes, I know that doing this is showcasing my privilege–but sometime protecting ones mental health means embracing certain things that I would usually try not to embrace).

Refreshing the foreign language also bounced back into the stretch zone for almost identical reasons as time management, with the addition of my inner critic/imposter syndrome poking their heads out and ridiculing me on my progress.

Therefore, the next three months are going to be focused on:

(1) Time management,

(2) learning (aiming for spending at least three and a half hours a week working through various e-courses; this breaks down to roughly thirty minutes a day),

(3) reading (aiming to read non-fiction for another three and a half hours a week (again, another thirty minutes a day),

(4) craft time (also three and a half hours a week at minimum; thirty minutes a day, while focusing on cross-stitching, jewelry design/creation, photography, and doodling), and

(5) writing (this will be the most varied area with different projects, but aiming for four to six thousand words a week).

Progress is being made–writing is slowly becoming an enjoyable habit again (after years of dreading having to do it), meditation at night is helping with anxiety (for the most part), and I’m going to work on incorporating it more often during the day. The staircase out of the pit of burnout does seem to go on forever, but I only need to take it a step at a time, and I can sit with a book on a stair whenever I need to catch my breath.

Question time–what are your favorite e-course sites and subjects?

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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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Saturday Night Sayings–Day 13 of Photography Challenge

Decided to have fun with laying out different sayings and trying to find a good combination of sayings to share. Initially I had a set of twenty cards, and when I laid them all out, and tried to take a picture, the messages were blurred and lost. So I decided that I’d share a small set at a time over the next few weeks. Apologies ahead a time–I’m sure that one or two of them are going to be repeated within the different sets.

Saturday night sayings.

These first four are especially resounding for me right now–two of them have to deal with both personal and professional development: Never stop learning and stay curious. I will be the first to admit that after graduate school, I did stop learning for awhile–I had switched focus a little in my first postdoc, but there wasn’t much learning on the job (skill wise). I did learn a few more skills over the next few years as I did my second postdoc position and then the two different senior research specialist positions.

I am starting to push myself to start learning again, and I am remembering the enjoyment of learning (yep–I’m a nerd). In addition I’ve always been curious–one reason why I fell in love with science–there is always something new to discover and learn. I love being out in nature (weather permitting, and temperature dependent [I don’t care for super cold or super hot–though I know how to deal with both]) and taking pictures or just sitting outside and enjoying the breeze and being outside.

The third quote: Why not?–this is a reminder that anything really is possible, and we shouldn’t have to answer to people for wanting to learn or for being curious. It is also a reminder that we shouldn’t have to explain either to people when we want to back off a little and relax and take things slow and try to enjoy life every so often.

The final quote: Don’t settle.  This is a reminder that I need to really figure out what it is I want out of life and not to settle for anything less than what it is that I want.  I’ve realized that at times I’ve just settled in a little and taken the path(s) of least resistance. Doing the postdoctoral position(s) was just following the basic academic roadmap–the switch to being a senior research specialist, was a shift away from the basic academic roadmap. Now I’m trying to figure out the direction that the new road map is going to take and aim for a position in industry.

I’m going to start looking more into say three or five different types of industry positions (or non-academic), and then see which ones mesh more with the things I want to try to do with my life: travel (one [maybe two] vacations a year to some place new), par down on the belongings, and get back into a fitness and health routine that I know I need to focus on. There will be post updates throughout the year on the new job search–so check back every so often to see where I am on my professional development/journey to an industry (non-academic) position.

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Settling into the job

So I’m settling into my position as a senior research specialist in charge of DNA sequencing. Right now I’m just making sure that I have my feet under me, to where I can handle doing the sequencing on a day-to-day basis without too many mishaps (loose lid……), before trying to do anything more in terms of protocol modifications/development–that will probably be after the new year.

Right now I’d say my job is 80% technical (with 75% of that being pipetting for anywhere from thirty minutes to three plus hours, depending on the number of samples for the day; and the other 5% is taking care of the machine). Of the remaining 20%, I’d say 15% is dedicated to customer service (looking at the data before the customers get it, and letting them know what happened with their samples (which ones failed/which ones gave noisy reads/and which ones ran fine). The last 5% of my job is administrative paperwork (filling out log sheets, order forms, making copies, tabulating charges, and getting the paperwork to the finance guy in the department).

While it can be tedious and repetitive, it is also interesting because if something doesn’t work–you get to work with the lab to try to figure out what when wrong, and what a possible solution to the problem could be.

I’ve also decided that while I’ve applied for academic positions over the last few months (mainly to make the weekly quota of job applications for unemployment)–that isn’t where I really want to be anymore–I don’t want to be stuck teaching 12 credits a semester and trying to get a research program up and running at the same time. I’d rather find a good position within a company that does outreach (or maybe spearhead an outreach program for a company), then try to survive in the academic rat race.

I’m starting to listen to my gut and realize that it is okay to turn down a potential job offer if it doesn’t seem like it is going to be what I want out of life. A few years ago I may have wanted to have my own lab and do my own research–now I want to work for a company that is trying to do something good in the world (say try to find a treatment for cancer, or a neuro-degenerative disease), and still be able to have a life outside of a lab.

I want to be able to work on crafts, continue working on personal development, getting into shape, spending time with my pets, friends, and remember that there is more to life than the nine-to-five rat race (that is found no matter where you get a job).

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