Tag: photography

As it starts to get colder: more time for the computer work (review and looking ahead)

Well, we’re almost halfway through October—that means there are only 79 days left in 2021. I’ve been reflecting over the past two weeks on the goals that I set for the third quarter of the year (or as I was also referring to as—my second attempt at a 12-week year).

I’d mentioned in a post over the summer that I was combining the ideas of two books together and using those as ‘stepping-stones’ for goals in different areas. The ideas that I’m combining are ‘choosing focal points (or specific areas)’ to focus on (‘The Renaissance Soul: How to Make Your Passions Your Life—A Creative and Practical Guide’ by Margaret Lobenstine), and the goal setting method from ‘The 12-Week Year: Get more done in 12 weeks than others do in 12 months’ by Brain Moran and Michael Lennington.

The four areas that I’ve decided that I’m currently focusing on are: professional development, personal development, health, and hobbies. The plan is to blend them together enough that I’ve created a career that is semi-location independent, and is focused on freelance/remote/contract writing/blogging with the possibility of adding in data analysis and/or consulting in the future.

The one thing that I’m still working on is figuring out how to divide the goals that I pick for the each month into weekly and then daily goals.

I’ve usually been trying to set four to five goals per focal area, with the possibility that one or two may have several ‘sub’ goals associated with them.

Instead of listing out every single goal that I set for the summer, I’m going to summarize the areas instead.

In terms of professional development, I had the lofty goals of completing at least two Cheeky Scientist advanced programs, learning python (coding), working through another three small e-courses on Udemy, and continuing to read/share science news and network on LinkedIn.

In terms of personal development, the lofty goals included refreshing Spanish, reading at least one (or two) non-fiction books a month, working through even more e-courses on different sites, and coming up with my own vision of minimalism and how I was going to diversify my income.

In terms of health, I was planning on continuing with BOD workouts (LIIFT4 and then Morning Meltdown 100), meditation, gratitude entries in the journal, oracle card drawings, working through a couple of courses, and trying to find new recipes to try at dinner.

In terms of my hobbies: at least one nature walk with the camera at Boomer Lake, reading, working on a cross-stitch project (or making some jewelry), and then again working through more e-courses.

So how did I do with my various goals?

In terms of professional development:

I’ve been fairly good at reading and sharing new on LinkedIn and twitter (I try to share at least one post Monday to Friday), and I’m working networking more and adding value to connections on LinkedIn.

In terms of the various programs, courses, and programming—I didn’t really get to any of them. Though I have most of the editing assignments for the Medical Writers Organization done—I just need to work on the writing assignments, plus finish up the sixth module.

I would say that I managed two out of the five professional development goals (so forty percent completed).

In terms of personal development:

I think I’ve managed to read possibly two non-fiction books over the past three months, I’m slowly working on my vision of minimalism (I need to go through the clothes and DVDs in the bedroom—and then tackle everything in the storage unit), and I’m slowly working on the ideas for generating varied income sources.

Again, the computer work hasn’t been completed.

Therefore, I probably managed another two out of the five goals (so another forty percent completed)

In terms of health:

I managed about 26 days of the oracle card sharing challenge. While I enjoyed it in the beginning, it was starting to become more of a ‘chore’ and I wasn’t getting that many interactions on the posts. I will probably share a reading here and there on Instagram, but probably won’t be daily.

With having messed up my wrist mid-June/early-July, I’ve been giving it time to heal, so I really haven’t been doing anything that requires lifting weights. I will be trying to start a second round of Morning Meltdown 100 during the fourth quarter of 2021, knowing that it will run into the first quarter of 2022.

I’ve been good with my evening meditations and daily gratitude entries in the journal. I’ve done a little over half of the explicit tarot course, and in terms of cooking—I couldn’t find any recipes that appealed to me this quarter.

I would say that I managed about half of the health goals for the third quarter.

The best area was hobbies:

I managed a walk every month at Boomer Lake with my camera, I read at least two or three fiction books a month, and I finished two cross-stitch projects and started a third. The only goal that I didn’t really touch was the one in regards to the e-courses.

Therefore, I would say that I managed three of the four goals (or seventy-five percent) for hobbies.

Overall, I would say that I managed to reach fifty percent of all the goals (and sub-goals) that I set for the third quarter.

There are several reasons why I only managed to meet half of the goals:

September was spent dealing with an ill dog and not knowing the outcome/prognosis. While we now know the prognosis, it may still be touch and go—especially when she starts to get weaned off the medication.

I also quit doing my weekly to-be accomplished lists in September (see above about the ill dog), and the daily to-be accomplished lists in August. The reason why I quit writing these out—I let the inner critic/imposter syndrome win a fight. I’m slowly working on getting back into the habit of doing both of these (slightly better with the weekly to-be accomplished lists).

Finally, when the weather is fairly nice—I’d rather be sitting outside enjoying the weather and possibly reading or journaling than being inside and working on the computer. I know that this is something that I need to work on improving (time/project management) as we move into the fall/winter months when more time will be spent indoors than outdoors.

So what are my goals for the four different areas moving into the fourth and final quarter of 2021?

Professional Development (This area is focused heavily on computer work):

  1. Finish at least two of the following Cheeky Scientist advanced programs:
    • Medical Writers Organization
    • User Experience Squad
    • Regulatory Affairs Council
    • Business Development Federation
  2. Finish the following short courses:
    • 15 errors in scientific writing and how to correct them on Udemy
    • How to become a freelance editor on Udemy
    • How to become a freelance writer on Skill Success
  3. Read and share science (and other news) on LinkedIn and Twitter
  4. Network and add value on LinkedIn
  5. (Bonus):
    • Finish Write Your Way to Freedom course
    • Finish Writing Patient Materials course

Personal Development (A third to half of the work will be computer based):

  1. Read one-to-two non-fiction books/month
  2. Draft ideas on how to implement diversification of income streams
  3. Work through the following short courses:
    • How to work for yourself on Udemy
    • Complete personal finance course on Udemy
    • Freelance writing 101: build a successful career on Skill Share
    • Content Marketing: Blogging for Growth on Skill Share

Health (Possibly a third to half could be computer based):

  1. Start a second round of Morning Meltdown 100
  2. Daily mediation and work through the course: Mindfulness for Anxiety on Udemy
  3. Daily gratitude journal entries
  4. Daily oracle card drawings and finish the course: explicit tarot: learning tarot through storytelling on Udemy

Hobbies (possibly a quarter could be computer based):

  1. At least one walk per month at Boomer Lake with camera
  2. Read two-to-three fiction books per month
  3. Finish the third cross-stitch project, possibly start a fourth or design/create some jewelry
  4. Work through the following courses:
    • How to start a creative business through blogging for beginners on Skill Share
    • Modern copywriting on Stack Skills

There are still quite a few e-courses that I’m hoping to finish before the end of the year—I may or may not get through all of them, but I’m hoping to have worked through at least one in each area (bonus points if I can finish all the e-courses under a specific focal point).

I mentioned in my October New Moon Goals—that I was going to be trying to face one ‘big’ fear during the next phase/month. I decided that the fear is starting my freelance/remote/contract writing business. Therefore I’m probably going to focus a little more on the courses that deal with that topic (which all but the two under health). The name of the blog (a little bit of this, a little bit of that) will probably stay the same—I may just change the website address (all depends as I work my way through the various courses).

This also means that I may having more posts written in a specific area (such as science/medical education/communication), but at the same time keeping other posts coming throughout the month (such as book reviews, photography, and crafts).

I realize that getting things up and running will take time (especially when it comes to marketing my business, billing, and creating/sticking with a editorial schedule)—but I currently have the time to do this, so I’m going for it: the overall goal is to reach at least fifty-percent in each area and an overall all progress rate of seventy-five percent for the last quarter of 2021.

Do you use the 12-week method for planning? Best tips? Or is there another method you like?

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Oracle of the Shapeshifters: Days 21-25 of Challenge

Today marks the twenty-fifth day of the oracle card challenge. While I have taken a day or two off, here or there—I’m pledging to share an oracle card a day on Instagram for a year (decided to expand past the original 120 days, but not do the full 578 days). Therefore, the challenge will last roughly through the first week of July 2022 (depending on how many more days I may take off from the challenge).

So, days twenty-one to thirty are going to be from the Oracle of the Shapeshifter deck by Lucy Cavendish. I have several decks by Lucy, and I love the stories that one can spin from any of the cards, and lately I’ve been flipping though the cards until I come to one that really speaks to me for the day.

The card drawn for day twenty-one was the beautiful little worm. This is a card of ‘rest’, and the encouragement to slow down if only for a day or two to regroup one’s energy.

Take the time to breath, and rest if necessary

It is slightly funny that I drew this card on a Monday, and after spending time attempting to create an editorial calendar for the next few months (I have most of the creative/reflective pieces put in—now the work is to decide on the more ‘in-depth’ pieces and how many do I want per month).

The worm is here to remind us to rest, be kind to ourselves, exercise regularly but gently, and to organize our space enough that we have a place to escape and relax when needed.

These are things I’ve been working on daily for the past few months—self-compassion, rest, intentional movements, and intuitive eating are things that hopefully may come more ‘naturally’ as I practice them. While I have no desire to return to the ‘old normal’, I realize that finding my ‘new normal’ will still take awhile.

The card drawn for day twenty-two was the ‘mermaid in a koi pond’ card.

Rediscover who you are…become the dragon.

She is here to remind us that having a safe haven is nice and needed from time to time, but if we stay too long—we tend to outgrow the haven.

I’m working on expanding my ‘safe haven’, since we’re still in the middle of the pandemic, I’m not keen on doing anything extremely rash.

I am also working on moving ‘upstream’ as well—currently the biggest ‘obstacles’-having too many ideas bouncing around in my head, and semi-horrible time management skills.

I’m working on both—I have (more or less) basically all creative/reflective ideas written out on a calendar, now it to figure out what ‘in-depth’ topics I want to add, the length and the depth of the topic, and when I would like to ‘publish’ the small/medium/large articles.

Science communication is vital these days, and while I could just jump in—I’m trying to ensure that what I share is written in a way that everyone can understand it (not just us science nerds), and that is the difficult part—but can only get better with constant practice in writing, publishing, and getting feedback from others.

The card drawn for day twenty-three was the ‘you are unlike anyone else’ card.

Embrace what makes you unique and complex

A reminder that we are all unique individuals and shouldn’t try to blend into the crowd—that is something I’m slowly working on, figuring out how to stand out in the crowd.

During this career change/transition, I’ve realized where I need to focus: writing (all styles—with focus more on scientific/technical plus creative), time and project management, in addition to possibly learning some coding on the side.

I’m going to ‘reinvent’ myself from a bench scientist to a scientific journalist/project manager who also takes time to focus on crafts and hobbies.

What to share on various sites are still up in the air (especially on Instagram), but I know that I will get there—it just requires baby steps and the willingness to stop, take a breath and keep moving forward when the inner critic/imposter syndrome wants me to move back into the shadows.

The card drawn for day twenty-four was ‘Poe’s Brave Flight’.

Move forward, even if you are afraid

A reminder that when we constantly play it safe and work to avoid things that could ‘hurt’, we end up shrinking ourselves daily.

I will admit to ‘playing it safe’ in terms of my career, I gave academia years long than I should have—because I was ‘scared’ to make a change. I was ‘scared’ to possibly choose wrong and end up in another ‘situation from hell’.

Well, I’m slowly stepping out from my safe zone. I took a volunteer writing position to gain experience in medical content writing, I’m trying to consistently share science news on LinkedIn, and trying to publish creative/reflective pieces somewhat consistently on the blog. In terms of science communications/writing—I’m going to list all sort of topics that interest me (in addition to looking back at news stories) and randomly pick things to look into, write on, and share on various sites.

The card drawn for today, day twenty-five was card seven: bats in the belfry.

Move forward with a little help from those who ‘can’ see in the dark

The bats are a reminder that one can achieve great things (even if they look strange to others). They can show one how to find their way, even if the path is currently ‘hidden’.

To move ahead in life, it may seem like things are upside down and going against what others may think is best for you—but that is when one needs to have even more courage, imagination, and boldness to move towards their dreams.

I’m slowly moving forward with more imagination, and little more boldness and courage. This weekend is going to be partial spent determining other sites/online magazines/forums that I could possibly submit articles to, brainstorming ideas for crafts (such as photography and maybe jewelry), and others ideas to start diversify things.

One thing I will need to work on–balancing writing the creative/reflective pieces with the more in-depth ‘research’ pieces. Though I think it is almost safe to say that I’m going to focus on creating a freelance/online/remote/contract career that is focused on writing, data analysis, project management, and crafts.

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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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Hiking and Kayaking within the Buffalo National River area

Another #throwbackthursdaytravel page is live under the travel tab. This week was highlighting our first trip to Arkansas, when we spent a few days in the Buffalo National River area.

Looking at the Buffalo River and the cliffs

My dad decided he wanted to do something a little different for our mini-vacation that year–and that was to paddle down a portion of the Buffalo River.

Showcasing what approximately ten miles of river looks like.

We managed to spend a couple of days exploring the area (hiking along various trails that followed the river), before we worked up the courage to actually put our kayaks in the water and head down the river.

As shown on the above map, we put our kayaks in the river at the Ponca site, and paddled/floated down the river for about 10 minutes until we got ‘out’ at Kyle’s Landing (luckily we had someone drive our van down there so we could get back to the cabin).

It was an interesting trip, and I learned quite a bit–such as inflatable kayaks probably weren’t the smartest choice of kayaks to use, class II rapids aren’t ‘baby rapids’, and I shouldn’t freak out when I flip the kayak.

One of the main rapids seen on the river

I would love to go back and visit the area again (and perhaps spend a little more time in the area), possibly spend more time hiking than floating down the river, but I am able to say that I did something that month that I’d never done before: kayaking over class I and II rapids in an inflatable kayak.

Wildflowers seen in the woods around the Buffalo River

Curious to know if you’ve been to the Buffalo River? If you’ve visited the area, did you just hike or did you kayak/canoe/float down the river and how far?

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Starting a new photography challenge: Day 1: Bald Eagle

So I’ve decided that I’m going to start a fresh photography 365-day photography challenge. I will hopefully be sharing a ‘new’ photography daily for the next year. I’m going to clarify the ‘new’—as in hopefully sharing 365 different photographs. Some may be similar to past photography challenges (I mean we are in the middle of a pandemic and I haven’t been traveling), but I’m hoping not to repeat the photograph subject (at least for the first 100 days or so).

Bald Eagle soaring over Boomer Lake, Stillwater OK

In addition, I will probably be linking in a photography page to the current photograph—as a way of increasing views to those pages as well. Again, this is going to be an evolving project, an way for me to 1) increase my photography skills; 2) work on a project during the day that isn’t 100% related to job transition; 3) find beauty in the day; and 4) just have fun.

So the winner for day one is the Bald Eagle. The bald eagle, is the national symbol for the US, and is native to all of North America where it’s range stretches from Alaska down to the northern parts of Mexico. Depending on where you live, you may or may not see them in the wild—but if you’ve been to a zoo, you’ve probably seen one there.

Bald Eagle sitting in a pine tree, Lake Vermilion MN

I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve been able to see these majestic birds in the wild—both where I currently live (I’m probably about half a mile away from the city ‘lake’) soaring above Boomer Lake every so often; and then up at Lake Vermilion in northern MN. I remember being about 12 or so, when my father and I took a kayak out to look at the nest of one of the bald eagle pairs on Vermilion Lake—it was huge.

These majestic birds have managed to climb back from the edge of extinction and while they aren’t protected under the Endangered Species Act, they are currently under the protection of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

I’m hoping that soon I can get back to my weekly walks around Boomer Lake and hopefully be able to spot one of these majestic birds soaring overhead looking for lunch to steal or catch.

No Comments bird watchingnaturePhotography

The small, but loud Carolina wren: photography challenge day 69 (slightly late)

So this was suppose to be the picture that was posted last night, but there were issues with the WiFi and internet connection–so it’s a day late. I’m still calling it day 69, as I did try to post last night.

Carolina wren in front of the wood holder.

The Carolina wren is a small wren species that is common in most of the eastern parts of the United States. These wrens like to make their nests in hanging plants, empty flowerpots that have been forgotten and left in a corner, or they may make use of nesting boxes. We’ve had them make nests in hanging plants, and various other things hanging on the house (including gardening equipment). Lately they’ve been around the brush piles that we have on the other side of the fence.

The wren deciding to check out under the wood.

Both sexes look similar—having an reddish-brown back, with a orange chest. They also have a long eyebrow stripe, and white chin and throat.

Carolina wren deciding to check out the top of the wood.

If you’ve heard a Carolina wren sing—you know that they have a very good set of lungs for being such a small bird. Though—it’s only the male (usually) that sings that loud song.

Carolina wrens mate for life, once the pair bond is formed they will stay in their territory year round, and forage together as well. These bird feed primarily on insects (such as caterpillars, beetles, grasshoppers, and true bugs [to name a few]) and spiders. They can also be found on suet feeders grabbing nuts (especially in the winter months), and eating berries as well.

Carolina wren debating on whether or not to go back into the wood pile.

They usually have two broods per year (usually five to six eggs), with the female incubating the eggs. The male may bring the female food during this time (incubation usually ranges about two weeks). The young (which are then fed by both parents) usually leave the nest about two weeks after hatching.

References:
https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/carolina-wren
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Carolina_Wren/id

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Triple the entries: Day 2 of the photography challenge; all fish in one space.

Not often they’re all on the same side of the aquarium at the same time.

So with the fact that a minor winter storm blew in this afternoon, and I really didn’t feel like going outside–the winners for today’s photography challenge are the three fish in the large aquarium.

So we originally bought this 55 gallon aquarium when the koi fish was getting to big for the smaller aquarium in the family room and we didn’t want to donate it to the local botanical garden for their koi pond. Needless to say that fish passed a couple of years ago (we’ve gone through a couple of shubunkins since then). The algae eater adapted to the aquarium quite nicely (though we learned that they don’t like to be caught with the fish nets when they’re adults).

The larger algae eater in the back was the one I had in the aquarium in my room. But alas, the pump went out on the aquarium (and they no longer make the pump), so I moved it over to the aquarium in the other bedroom.

The cats enjoy going in there every so often to watch “fish tv” for a couple of hours–especially when the algae eaters are cleaning the front of the aquarium.

I’ve realized that once Pancakes and I move, I will have to set up an aquarium for her so that she has her fish tv to watch, since I’m not sure there will be many birds around for her to watch.


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Month in Review: January 2019

So we’re off and running into 2019. January has come and gone. The weather has been interesting this month—within the first four days there was a snow/ice storm (did get out of work a little early, and then the next day started a little later)—so can’t wait to see how the weather is going to behave for the rest of the year.

So I decided that to start the year, I was going to start a little slower in terms of goals (not have quite as many as I’d been having) to see if I could get at least 80% on each of them. So what did my goals for January include?

They were:

At least 434,000 steps (this will be breaking down to the minimum of 14K/day), so that I can be on track for reaching 5 million steps again by New Year’s Eve.

Starting to interact more on Linkedin.

Restarting the photography challenge (may or may not be same picture on the blog and other social pages).

Working through different e-courses and on the transition plan (making notes and posting updates on the blog).

Working on different science posts for the blog.

Reading (or finishing) at least 3 non-fiction books (aiming to read at least 10% of a book a day—lovely thing with the kindle as it tells you the % of the book you’ve read; would make it approximately 3 new books a month).

Workout daily (either restart a beachbody program or start a hybrid program), alternating resistance training with cardio (and hopefully a walk on the weekend along with yoga).

Figure out how to ensure that I’m having my shakeology daily.

So how did I do with each of them?

  1. Step goal of 434,000: I managed to surpass the step goal this month. I got in 477,549 steps (and this was with four days being below average; three of which were below 5K). A little closer to reaching 500K in a month, but still a little short. But I’m on track for both the yearly goal (of 5 million) and my 1001-day goal (of either 14,014,000 or 19,124,000 steps).
  • Interacting more on Linkedin: This one is a little slow going. I’m liking posts, and sharing posts every so often, but I have yet to write an post or leave a detailed comment on someone’s post.
  • Restarting the photography challenge: This one has been difficult, mainly due to my cell phone acting up (during the week, that is usually how I take my pictures). So the challenge got restarted again on the 7th (though I did post on the 1st, and then several pictures over the weekend of the 5th & 6th to try to make up for not having a daily picture posted from the 2nd to the 4th).

I restarted the challenge again this week (starting on the 28th), and did a double post on 30th (since I had trouble trying to load any of the pages on the blog on the 29th). So we shall see how long I make it this year.

  • Working through the different e-courses and on the transition plan: I’ve managed to work through one e-course (which was more of a refresher on job searching), and did one or two little linkedin “courses”. In terms of my transition plan, I’ve come up with several things that I’d like to avoid doing, slowly figuring out my “professional lifestyle” and I have an idea about which biotech hubs I’d be willing to move to for a job.
  • Working on different science posts: I’m slowly working on this, as I’ve realized what my two major hang-ups are: 1) trying to draw what I want to relate (structures of DNA & RNA for example), and then 2) making sure that I’m not using a huge amount of scientific jargon. I want to write scientific posts that can be understood by someone who doesn’t have the scientific background.
  • Reading (or finishing) at least 3 non-fiction books: So I managed to finish reading the following books, and have also decided to color code them differently in my master list to differentiate between the books that I finished last year (in red) and the ones I will have finished this year (in green); though I also have one in purple (this is more of a reference book):

Move Your Æ Ash: Know, Grow, & Show Your Career Value by Paul Carney

Anti Goals: Find Success by Knowing what to avoid by Kevin Wagonfoot

Power Up Your Self Talk: 6 Simple Habits to Stop Beating Yourself Up and Reclaim Your Life by Michal Stawicki

Anti-Debt: A guide to personal finance, getting out debt and building a money plan for our life by Kevin Wagonfoot

Though I’ve only written one book review so far: Anti-Goals: Find Success by Knowing What to Avoid by Kevin Wagonfoot

  • Daily workout: I’ve managed to at least get my steps in 27 out of 31 days (which means that my fitbit registered at least 25 minutes of walking). I’ve also done numerous workouts—it may not have been daily though. So this is still something I’m going to be working on (see my other post on trying to finish at least 250 different Beachbody workouts).
  • Trying to figure out the best way to have my shakeology daily. This has been a total washout—I haven’t had shakeology at all this month. I’m considering cancelling my supplements for shakeology (as I have about 2 months worth to still go through). Mornings right now are too chilly for having a shake before leaving the house, and I’ve gotten spoiled having it mixed with almond milk instead of water and blended (instead shaken in a cup). So yeah—I’m still trying to figure out the best way of having my daily dose of shakeology.

So I think I’m off to a good start this year (at least in terms of certain things). There are always going to be bumps or roadblocks in the road, and I just need to go over them or figure out a way around them. So now it’s time to try to set some goals for the next twenty-eight days in February.

February goals will include:

At least 392,000 steps (again this breaks down to at least 14K/day; and will keep me on track for my other step goals).

Continue trying to interact more on linkedin.

Read at least one article on fiercepharma or fiercebiotech each day (maybe make notes for a small weekly recap blog post).

Continue with the photography challenge

Continue working through various e-courses/groups and the transition plan (pick specific cities, and have an idea of what my superpower trifecta is).

Continue trying to workout daily.

Aim for a week of no spend days (start money log)

Read (or finish) at least three non-fiction books

Start really trying to work on science posts for the blog (and potentially on linkedin as well).

Figure out the best way (still) of trying to have my shakeology daily.

Image of Goofy running: http://clipart-library.com/clipart/pc787erqi.htm

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Photography Challenge Day 4: Mississippi Kites

Today’s winner of the photography challenge is the pair of Mississippi kites that I saw on my morning walk at Boomer Lake. Truthfully, I almost missed seeing them—I’d turned at just the right time to see a bird swoop into a tree, and when I went to get a closer look, I realized that it was a pair of Mississippi kites.

                           Mississippi Kites

I’ve seen the kites all summer—but usually when they’re just swooping around in the sky foraging for flying insects and they’re usually a good block or so away and I can never get a good picture. Today I managed to get several good pictures of them.

       Swooping Mississippi Kite

The Mississippi kite (Ictinia mississippiensis) is a bird of prey that spends its summers in both the southeastern and southwestern parts of the United States (it winters down in central South America). Unlike larger birds of prey, the Mississippi kite feeds primarily on insects though will also forage on small reptiles, amphibians, smaller birds, small mammals and bats.

These graceful birds can be seen throughout the day flying and soaring though the sky as they hunt for their meals. Since these are social birds, usually they can be seen in groups as small as just a pair, upwards to a dozen or more (depending on how main breeding pairs and yearlings are in the area).

                  One Mississippi Kite

As much as I’d like to get a picture of the youngsters—I’m going to need a better lens that zooms as the pairs are fiercely territorial and will dive bomb anything that gets to close to the nest. Obviously this morning, either the tree where they were perched didn’t contain the nest, or the youngsters are old enough that the parents don’t dive bomb any more, or I was still far enough away that they didn’t see me as a threat.

             Two Mississippi Kites

And here are a couple of more unusual facts about these graceful birds:

They may build their nests near (or incorporate) a wasp nest to help protect their eggs and chicks from climbing predators (because who wants to mess with a colony of wasps?).

They allow certain smaller birds to nest near them (namely mockingbirds, blue jays, and house sparrows).

Facts and trivia were found at: www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Mississippi_Kite/overview

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Goldfinch looking for spring….Photography challenge day 14

Well I thought we were going to be settling into spring temperatures this weekend, but no…..Mother nature has decided to play with us, like a cat does with a mouse. The weather was beautiful on Thursday, rainy and chilly on Friday, and then plain cold on Saturday. The forecast claimed today was suppose to be warmer than yesterday (and in a way it was—just at 5PM and not earlier in the day).

Finch in the bush

So today’s photograph is brought to you by an rather irritated goldfinch that I accidentally disturbed at the feeder when I went out to top off all the bird feeders. I guess with cooler weather, we’ll be getting a lot of birds in the yard. I swear this weekend we probably had somewhere in the total of fifty to sixty grackles around two of the feeders (and they wiped out a small suet twice this weekend).

Its also nice to see that the cold snap hasn’t totally killed of the flowers and leaves that budded out already this year (though it will be probably fifty-fifty on whether or not we have a peach crop this year). As much as I don’t care for most insects, I want spring temperatures to come–I’m tired of wearing my winter jacket in the mornings and then having to carry it home in the afternoon because the temperatures rose by a good thirty to forty degrees.

This is one of my favorite times of the year to bird watch (I did see a bluebird the other day, I just didn’t have my camera on me [which has a better zoom than my phone]). I’m thinking that I need to make time to walk around Boomer Lake and bird watch to see what species are out on the water and flying around.

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