Tag: personalfinances

Time to make plans, read, and write: Taurus New Moon Goals

So the moon is going to be transitioning through the Taurus constellation this weekend (either tonight or tomorrow night—depending on where you are in the world), bringing us our fifth new moon of the year, and either the second new moon of April or the May new moon. We will more or less be a third of the way through 2022. It seems each year, the ‘roller coaster’ ride of life is getting a little more ‘insane’—I’m personally ready for things to settle down, but I’m pretty sure that it won’t be happening anytime soon.

Looking back over the past year or two—I didn’t set any goals for the Taurus new moon during 2020 (I was in an angry haze due to the pandemic and the anti-science/vaccine movements), and I set them last year (when I had my hopes that everything was turning around).

Are things turning around? In terms of the pandemic—slightly, there are vaccines but there are also new variants that may be able to escape the immune system. So, I’m afraid that we’re going to be living in a world where one will have to make the decision on whether or not traveling; working in an office, and so forth is worth the risk (however slight) of contracting the virus.

Looking to the book ‘Moonology’, there are several things that one can focus on during the Taurus new moon, and they include:

  1. Make a financial plan
  2. Love yourself (i.e. Make a list of your values and ask yourself if you’re living your life in a way that allows you to honor those values. If the answer is no–figure out a new plan to allow yourself to honor those values)
  3. Be sensual (i.e. Ask yourself ‘What would/could make my life better?’)
  4. Character check (Ask yourself–Am I being too stubborn or too lazy?)
  5. Persevere–remember that there is more to life than racing ahead, there is also the journey that should be enjoyed as well (or as much as possible). Slow and steady will win the day.

In addition, the new moon in Taurus is also moving through my seventh house, or my “love zone”. This zone can also be referred to as the relationship zone as well. So what are some of the things that one can do during this time in regards to the seventh house?

  1. Go through old love letters and get rid of at least some of them
  2. If you’re single and feeling brave, try online dating
  3. Ask your parents about their ideas on how to make love (aka a relationship) work
  4. Recommit to your partner
  5. If you hurt a past lover, admit you were wrong and apologize to them
  6. Make a list of the qualities you look for in a partner

Since we’re still in a pandemic (I don’t care of states and countries are opening back up, when there are still over half a million (plus) new cases worldwide a day—it’s still a pandemic), I’m going to focus more on the financial/personal development aspects of things. While most would say it isn’t good to totally ignore the current house—I’m not ignoring it per say—I’m just not putting all my focus on it.

I like what I wrote last year, and therefore am going to ‘recycle’ it:

Yes—there is online dating, but that isn’t something I want to be focusing on right now, instead I’m going to focus on improving myself and then worry about possible dating issues. Also, I don’t have the time or energy to put into the dating scene and finding someone. In terms of relationships and being with someone—I seem to be one of the odd ones that doesn’t mind being alone and unattached. I also know that I still have other things to work out on my own before even attempting to stick my toes into the dating pool.

So my goals for the Taurus new moon include:

            Making a financial plan. I’ve been on a reboot break for over two years now, and the savings account has dwindled down to almost nothing. I still have a couple of ‘high’ credit cards that I need to pay down—therefore, the financial plan will have a ‘role’ in my personal/professional development plan I’m also going to be putting together.

            Start writing daily—I have the ‘hobby’ areas of the blog (photography, travel, and crafts), plus the ‘areas’ that I’m thinking of branching out into for remote writing: scientific, medical, and health communications and copywriting. This means I need to start developing a ‘portfolio’ of different types of pieces (basically—have a ‘landing’ page on the topic & these posts linked to them).

            The topics I’m thinking of writing/learning about: oncology (clinical trials, drug development, pathways—specifically for breast cancer, brain cancer, and liver or pancreas cancer), antibiotic resistance (diseases and how bacteria can obtain resistance), microbiomes (specifically gut and vaginal), and then some basics—molecular cloning, the cell, biofuels, GMOs, and vaccines.

            Continue reading various personal/professional development books.

            Go through the clothes and box up t-shirts that no longer fit well and figure out where to donate them.

            Continue with daily intentional movement, and getting back into a meditation routine.

While the goals seem to be on a repetitive loop from year to year (new moon to new moon; or full moon to full moon)—there is progress that is made, steps that are so small they may not be noticeable to the stranger’s eye. When I started this blog almost five years ago, it was with the intention of self-accountability on this journey of rediscovery—so while others may not notice the progress, trust me when I say progress has been made—and sometimes that progress is to admit that I’ve fallen off ‘track’ and am working my way back onto the track.

What are your goals for the Taurus New Moon?

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Updating the personal/professional development plan: reflections on the bounce zone

It has been roughly a year since I drew my first comfort/stretch/risk/die diagram.

Original comfort diagram that I drew mid-Feb 2021

It was an ‘assignment’ that I was given when after talking with a coach–it became obvious that I was floundering on trying to decide what I wanted to do with my life (since I’d decided to take time to actually try to answer that question)…

I decided that the diagram was going to encompass both personal and professional goals, thoughts, and ideas–mainly because I knew if I didn’t have some more ‘creative’ ideas down, I would spend way too much time wallowing in the analytical side of my brain.

The above diagram had roughly seventy-seven items within the four zones: 13 items in the comfort zone, 35 within the stretch zone, 17 within the risk zone and 12 within the die zone.

Over the past year, I also added in the ‘bounce’ zone–as I haven’t/hadn’t developed the ‘confidence’ to state that there were more activities that I felt ‘comfortable’ doing on a day-to-day (or even week-to-week or month-to-month) basis. I was starting to enjoy the activities, but still hadn’t/haven’t figured out the best ‘schedule’ for them to become ‘comfortable’ tasks.

Over the past week or so, I drew another one to see how far I’d come over the past year:

Latest Comfort diagram–Feb 2022

The comfort zone has slightly increased, the bounce zone is present, the stretch zone has ‘shrunk’, and the risk and die zones are holding steady.

While some things have ‘changed’–I also realized that I’ve also become slightly ‘stagnant’ as well. What became ‘stagnant’ is the fact that I wasn’t trying to push the boundaries of teh comfort, bounce, or stretch zones the past few months.

Therefore, I’m working on a plan to change that, with the ultimate goal of expanding the comfort and bounce zones.

How am I going to do that? Well, I decided it would be a combination of picking things from the comfort, bounce, stretch and risk zones and also incorporating things from my personal/professional development board game, and came up with the following list:

  1. Work several different ‘comfort’ tasks into the daily/weekly schedule (so that they don’t fall back into the ‘stretch’ zone), and they include: cross-stitching, meditation, reading (also work on expanding the genera), cooking, gardening, photography, and being outdoors.
  2. I decided to roll the dice last week (for the first time in awhile) for my my personal/professional development board game and came up with the following items:
    1. Start learning python coding
    2. Review genomics (though I’m going to include transcriptomes, proteomes, and metabolomes)–should have called the square ‘review -omics’
    3. Review statistics
    4. Landscape design (funny that I rolled this, as I’d already picked it out of the ‘bounce’ zone as something to work on this spring)
    5. Business development
    6. Public health
    7. ‘Rock Art of the American Southwest’
    8. Ancient India
    9. Ancient China
    10. Reading; while I rolled a ‘list’ of books to read–I will probably just go with whatever catches my attention
  3. Work on content development in the following areas:
    1. copywriting
    2. Blogging (science/medical education/communication; health/wellness; personal/professional development; hobbies/crafts, and travel)
    3. Science writing (‘short’ blog posts [~500-1000 words], ‘longer’ articles [~1000-2500 words], and ‘reviews’ [~2500-5000+ words])
    4. Creative writing (short stories, poetry, and so forth)
  4. Spirituality and Oracle cards
  5. Doodling and drawing
  6. Personal/professional brand development/management
  7. Refresh a foreign language
  8. Project management

Obviously I can’t do all of this at the same time—well I could, but I like sleeping too much…The end goals include: stretching my comfort zone, overcoming the writers block, transitioning into that first remote writing/data analysis position, and rediscovering who I am and what I really want to be doing with my life.

Content development and project management can be tied in with all the other items on the list–and actually that has been one of the ‘bigger bottlenecks’ lately–writing. I’ve started at the screen more times than I want to admit, and I’ve stared at various science news emails more times that I want to admit over the past month or so–and have barely written a word. I haven’t shared an news article for probably two week (prior to today), and that wasn’t because I didn’t want to–but because the words didn’t wan to come…not hte greatest feeling when one is thinking of pivoting into a writing (and deadline) intensive direction…

I created a ‘brain-dump’ (or brainstorming list) of ideas for the three different niches I’m thinking of writing within:

‘Brain-dump’ or brainstorming list of topics to write/blog about

You might notice that the ‘list’ is longer within the science/medical subsection–and that is because that is my background. I have my PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology, and have spent basically two decades working within higher education research, and have at least an understanding of various fields.

The other two areas aren’t as ‘filled-out’, but as I continue to brainstorm ideas, or even look within one or two of the selections–I’m pretty certain I’ll be able to come up with more ideas to write about.

One of the fundamental questions that one is suppose to answer when thinking of blogging, copywriting, or even writing–is who is your audience? What question(s)/problem(s) are you wanting to help answer/solve?

I think that for me one of those answers is trying to improve science communication between the general public and the scientific community, and also trying to improve science education as well. None of the topics are inherently difficult–but can be considered difficult if they’re not explained properly and limiting the amount of scientific jargon one uses.

As Albert Einstein said: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it enough”.

Therefore, I’m going to be ‘diving’ into research for numerous topics, as I have a ‘basic’ understanding, but I also know that I don’t know certain areas well enough to explain them in simple terms.

I’m aiming to start having monthly (then working up to biweekly) blog posts on different science subjects, adding in a new bird photography page (biweekly, if not weekly) with an accompany blog post, and also a monthly ‘throwback travel’ page with its accompany blog post–this will be in addition to the different goals setting posts that I do monthly and any book reviews that I post as well. My aim–is to expand the comfort zone to include writing, blogging, and copywriting by the end of the summer.

What is something you could work on to move it from your stretch zone to your comfort zone?

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Spending Check-In #10: Books, and the odd game

So I’m a few days late in posting my latest check-in on my limited spending challenge. This is basically due to having not gotten the WiFi issues solved until late Monday. I was then a day behind on all postings, and decided to move this one to later in the week so I could post my review of last month’s new moon goals & this month’s new moon goals on the ‘correct’ days.

We’re now down to the last two months of 2021. I’m still working on hitting the stride that I did in January (which was the best month for the entire challenge so far this year).

My limited spending challenge is just that—I’m trying to limit my spending by dividing things into two groups (or categories): needed items and splurges.

So I did really well that first month, and then started slipping each month a little more. The ‘rebound’ I’d planned for the second half of the year, has been a so-so rebound. I’ve still splurged on things, and hopefully will be getting better at not ‘splurging’ as we head into 2022.

So how did October go in terms of the purchases/splurges?

In terms of physical items bought:

There were two ‘essential’ orders from Amazon that included: dog treats, a couple of notebooks, a large water bottle, decaf tea, and various supplements.

In terms of books, there were mainly a small handful of e-books bought:

  1. The rest of the Talon Pack by Carrie Ann Ryan (books 2-9)
  2. Maybe We Will (Silver Harbor #1) by Melissa Foster
  3. Maybe We Should (Silver Harbor #2) by Melissa Foster
  4. Klutz: Phoenix Down (But Did You Die? #1) by Sedona Ashe
  5. Klutz: Phoenix Heat (But Did You Die? #2) by Sedona Ashe

And I’ve been splurging on a silly game: Farmville 2: Country Escape (so this will also showing up on my November check-in).

The biggest spending area was towards the end of the month with the free purchase of the game—but spent some money ‘setting’ it up. I’ll be more stringent going forward on not spending money on the game (as that was a problem with a couple of other games I’d bought for the kindle—the games themselves are free, but the coins or whatever to level up at times can cost).

Going into to November and December, I’m aiming at only one or two major orders from Amazon (possibly three come December, only because it is the holiday season). I’m also hoping to possibly ‘tighten’ the requirements for the two different categories come the beginning of the year, when I start up my second round of limited spending.

In addition I’m going to set up a spreadsheet that I’ll enter any and all purchases into—as a way to ‘physically’ see how I’m carelessly spending money. Though I already know the two main areas: e-books (as I’ve already purchased another handful this month), and the one game (Farmville 2: Country Escape).

What are some of your favorite tracking methods for spending money?

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Stretching the comfort zone by introducing the bounce zone

So I decided earlier this month to ‘update’ my comfort zone diagram, as it had been almost three months since I drew the first one. Then it took several days to decide what to ‘write and share’ about it, as there is a ‘character limit’ for a LinkedIn post versus a LinkedIn article (and I’m not quite up to ‘writing’ personal/professional development LinkedIn articles yet).

Luckily, that (character limit) isn’t really a problem with blog posts. So, this post is an expansion of the LinkedIn post that I did earlier in the week.

First comfort/stretch/risk/die diagram

Looking at the first diagram and reflecting/pondering on what could be moved around in the various zones, I realized that I actually needed to add a zone–the bounce zone.

This is the zone/area of things that I’m doing on a somewhat consistent basis, but they haven’t become ‘comfortable habits’ yet.

Introducing the bounce zone……

When I looked at the newest version of the diagram I realized several things:

  1. The professional development area hasn’t been ‘stretched’ as much as the personal development area
  2. I’ve unintentionally allowed my inner critic/imposter syndrome to run the show for the last month or so by falling into overthinking and the analysis/paralysis loop
  3. I’ve been uncomfortable with the fact that I’m still unsure of the direction(s) I want to go in terms of my job transition
  4. I’m also still slightly uncomfortable sharing the fact that I have a blog up and running

These realizations had me looking back at this quote that I had highlighted in ‘How to be everything: A guide for those who (still) don’t know what they want to be when they grow up’ by Emilie Wapnick:

“When you lose interest in something, you must always consider the possibility that you’ve gotten what you came for; you completed your mission. […] That’s why you lose interest: not because you’re flawed or lazy or unable to focus but because you’re finished.”

Re-reading that quote had me realizing the following:

  1. While I can’t control how others perceive (or like) my blog or writing style(s), I can control how I react.
  2. I won’t know if a particular direction will work in terms of a job transition, unless I investigate them more (which means getting out of the comfort zone)
  3. I am making progress forward, even if it looks like baby-steps or crawling to the outside world–progress is being made.

Therefore with summer around the corner–it is time that I start getting more comfortable with being uncomfortable (I can even start small, since baby steps are better than large leaps). I fully acknowledge that not everyone will like what I’ve written (or how I write) or even how I have the blog/website set up, but I need to continue in my ‘lane’ to find my ‘tribe’.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks has been overthinking–thinking about the various learning curves (for new subjects), the vast amount of information (for any subject), and wondering how to break everything down into easier to handle goals.

Therefore I’m slowly creating a multi-prong/step approach to continuing to stretch the comfort zone, while dealing with my inner critic/imposter syndrome.

The multi-prong step/approach is going to include the following:

  1. I’m creating a ‘bingo-like’ card that has different items listed. I’m saying ‘bingo-like’ in the fact that I’ve expanded it from a 5×5 grid to a 7×8 grid with no free space. The columns will be numbered 1-8, and the rows will be 1-7
  2. Each square will either contain a book to read, or a topic to investigate (or review). There will be two fitness squares–one will be automatically selected as a ‘continual square’ for the time frame needed to complete the listed programs.
  3. I will be making use of multi-sided dice (more than 1-6) for picking ‘squares’ to focus on
  4. I’m slowly creating the ‘rules’ for the game
  5. Once a square has been completed, I’ll stamp it with the check-mark stamp I bought earlier this year.

A longer (more fleshed out) post will be up by the end of the week on the ‘game’ after I get everything figured out and ‘finalized’

As I mentioned yesterday with my update on my 100+ goals, the name of the blog/website will probably be changing come fall/winter when I have a better idea of the direction(s) that I’m headed in both in terms of personal/professional development and online services that I can provide to the greater public.

Have you done the comfort/stretch/risk/die diagram before? How long did it take you to draw your first one? How often do you look back at it and revise it?

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