Tag: SelfReflection

Virgo Goals: Focusing on time & project management skills

So the moon hit its full stage last night as it enters the Virgo constellation, and I’m a day late in posting my reflections & goals. But that’s the beauty of the moon—it stays ‘full’ or ‘new’ for a day or so past the ‘peak’. There are only four days left in Feb—as this year is a leap year. As I mentioned in yesterday’s update on the Leo full moon goals—the world is going to hell in a hand basket, and at times I fall short on hitting goals (due to sitting firmly within procrastination corner).

Looking back at things—I never set goals last year for the Virgo full moon…but that was because we were still in the middle of dealing with the family medical crisis, and I let a lot of things slide (like posting consistently to the blog). That is one thing I’m aiming on improving this year—posting to at least this blog at least four times a month (covering the new & full moon goals).

If you’re one who tries to understand how your mood changes or is affected by the moon—the Virgo full moon usually has people feeling finicky and anxious. Personally—I don’t need any extra anxiety in my life; I manifest plenty on my own. Though no matter what sign I go with (star, rising, or moon)—all three are able to handle the Virgo energy. 

Feeling even more finicky and anxious currently probably isn’t helping world matters, but I’m going to try to focus on what I can control (how I perceive and react to various things).

So what are some questions that one can ask during this full moon? If one looks to ‘Moonology: working with the magic of the lunar cycles’ by Yasmin Boland—these are the questions:

Have I been too picky, pedantic, or critical of myself or anyone else?

Have I been humble to the point of underrating myself?

Have I been of service to others enough this month?

Have I been worrying and complaining too much, and thus attracting negativity?

Have I paid enough attention to the details that I need to this month?

So if I were to number the above questions 1 to 5, my answers would look like this:

  1. Since I haven’t really been around other people daily since 2019…I don’t think that I’ve been picky, pedantic, or critical of others. Unless, one wants to consider my daily updates on the situation within Gaza—then yes, I have been critical of A LOT OF PEOPLE..all strangers…all politicians…all individuals that are doing LITERALLY NOTHING TO STOP A GENOCIDE. So…I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be harboring critical (and at times disparaging) thoughts on various world leaders—look at the state of the world. In terms of how I see myself? Possibly, I do at times have the bad habit of letting my inner critic/imposter syndrome get the better of me quite frequently lately—and by allowing that, I’ve realized that I’m sitting firmly within procrastination corner, and need to move out into productivity central.
  2. This is a maybe, leaning towards a hard-yes. I’ve realized over the past few years, several ‘problems/issues’ I need to work on addressing. The first—stop being a people pleaser, start having firmer boundaries, learning to say no to things, and not be ‘agreeable’ just to avoid confrontations/conflicts. The second—speaking up for myself—this can be in terms of advocating for projects/work (not wanting to work on the same thing day-in and day-out), or standing up for my right to express my opinions on different platforms. The third—work on ‘speaking’ up on camera/video. I’d realized recently that I’m still letting a particular childhood ‘phobia/trauma’ dictate certain things…that ‘phobia/trauma’—being concerned/scared of others trying to ‘correct’  my speech (and how I say pronounce things). How do these ‘problems/issues’ equate to humbleness—I prefer being in the background and not center stage, and not ‘claiming’ the spotlight when one of my ideas or something I worked on gets spotlighted (letting others take the ‘fame’). Moving forward (either working for myself or into industry)—I need to start tooting my own horn and showing/highlighting my own worth.
  3. I’ve taken over majority of the household chores & half the cooking chores at home. Up until recently—I’d also been sharing a daily update on the situation in Gaza & the West Bank on different social media platforms—giving a voice to those that are being targeted for genocide, and helping to (hopefully) educate more people on what is happening. I say ‘up until recently’—because currently I’ve been restricted from my LinkedIn account, but am still posting those updates to Instagram & my personal Facebook page.  I’m working on my transition plan to either remote writing and/or freelance writing. I’ve discovered that two of my ‘whys’ for this change include wanting to help improve both science communication between the general public and scientists, and to help improve science education (possibly through the creation of online courses that can serve as supplemental study aids for students).
  4. Umm…the world is going to hell in a hand-basket. There is still the Russian invasion of Ukraine (entering like year two?), the genocide going on in Gaza, genocides happening within various African countries (the Congo & Sudan to name two), and other areas of the world. The SARS-CoV2 virus is still floating around as well…so have I been complaining—I’d say I’ve been more sharing news (with my opinions interspersed), and if that accounts for complaining—then yes. Has it attracted negativity? Yes…but there are always going to be people that don’t like things being pointed out to them—and I refuse to moderate what I write/share/post just to appease the emotions of total strangers. Therefore—I’m trying to focus on what is actually within my control (how I react to things), and am working on trying to catch and ‘rewrite’ the negative self-thoughts throughout the day. 
  5. Well, this month is almost over…and I’d say I’ve accomplished possibly a third of what I was aiming for—while making note of where I can strive to improve things. The biggest area that I need to work on: time & project management (aka getting out of procrastination corner and into productivity central). While I managed to watch an e-course this month, I have yet to watch any TedTalks or listen to many podcasts—two things I’m going work on improving moving forward. Creating an fluid weekly schedule, editorial calendar, and having access to all my social media channels—I will hopefully move slowly out of procrastination corner. 

 So one other thing people should look at is what house the moon is moving through as well. For me, the Virgo full moon also correlates to my 11th house or my friend zone. Therefore, the period of the Virgo full moon is a time to try to focus on the other people in your life, plus build up your personal and professional networks as well.

I’d been doing decently at networking on LinkedIn over the past few months—especially since I’d started speaking up on behalf of Gaza & Palestinians. Though, now (since my account has been restricted)—I need to figure out how to build that type of network off of LinkedIn, in other words—really start building out both blogs/websites, setting up an ‘craft’ store, creating newsletters and so forth.  

I’ve realized over the past few months—that while remote work would be nice (steady paycheck), it may not come to be—because of the fact that I’ve been speaking out on behalf of Gaza & Palestinians. Therefore—I do need to start focusing a little more on getting the freelance business(es) up and going by the summer. That also means figuring out how to reach-out/network with other freelancers (and just people in general) off of social media channels (since once your accounts are ‘restricted’—you do lose access to things).

So what can I work on during the next full moon period? Well, I can:

  1. Get back into the practice of doing ‘monthly brain dumps’ and using things from the list as ideas for blog posts, infographics and so forth
  2. Working on that two-to-five year plan. Brainstorming (hopefully) reasonable milestones to aim for
  3. Make a list (from both my 44 things before 44 & 101 goals in 1001 days) that I want to accomplish during the second quarter of 2024
  4. Develop a rough draft of a fluid weekly schedule…leading to hopefully a workable fluid schedule by May.

Four goals for the Virgo full moon. Two could be considered ‘one-and-done’ goals—doing a monthly brain dump, and making a list of things I want to accomplish during the second quarter of the year. Though technically—the second goal could be a ‘one-and-done’, if I make the time to sit and contemplate what those milestones would be. One thing that I’ve realized over the past year or two—I’m old fashion in terms of keeping track of things—meaning, I like writing things down on paper and referencing back to them..though I also know that once various aspects of either getting a freelance business launched or landing a remote job, I will have to also make use of digital tracking systems.

The rough draft weekly schedule has more to do with setting a ‘timer’ for say sixty to ninety minutes for working on a project (or doing research), then taking a ten to fifteen minute break before starting the next block of time. If I get a ‘task’ done quicker, I’ll stop the initial timer (make note in the planner how long task ‘x’ actually took), and set the break timer. In addition I need to find a productivity app that allows me to block access to social media for set periods of time as well (not sure if the self control app works on this laptop).

I’d mentioned two years ago that I’d been trying to work on an mind-map for a post/article where I was going to try to combine different methods of goal setting (SMART goals, the 12-week method, & setting goals by the phase of the moon)…and then something else caught my attention and I never got that particular project off the ground…this year will be the year that I get that article written and published (after coming up with a good tracking method and testing it out).

So..yeah–I’ll be spending most of the Virgo full moon trying to figure out the best ways of being more productive so that I can move out of procrastination corner and further into productivity central. Hopefully by focusing on what I can control, will also help in controlling the anxiety, stress, and to a point the mild depression that I fall into every so often.

I want to end by asking: what is one of your favorite ways of setting goals? Is it using the SMART method, the 12-week method, or by the phase of the moon? Also—how are you handling the extra anxiety of the Virgo moon this week?

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Time to work on getting out of procrastination corner

So, we’re going to be seeing the second full moon of 2024 this weekend. Which means before looking ahead to the Virgo full moon, I need to reflect back on the goals that I’d set for the Leo full moon—and that I’m going to be a day (or two) late in posting both of them. 

I know that I have probably only managed to achieve about half the goals that I’d set at the end of January. The reason…well, I’m currently sitting nice and semi-comfortable within ‘procrastination corner’. Where is procrastination corner, you ask. Well—it’s wherever you’re feeling extremely comfortable, and knowingly putting off tasks. The tasks that I’ve been pushing off…have centered lately on looking to the future. The world is still going to hell in a hand basket (with the ongoing & live-streaming genocide in Gaza; genocides in the Congo & Sudan; and elsewhere). So…yeah, it’s a little difficult right now to try to look to the future, when one isn’t sure if world is going to survive past May.

The world is going down the drain…the country isn’t in much better shape—this is going to be a hellish election year…and also the first one where I vote third-party. I refuse to support a president that is backing a genocide, and I refuse to vote for the orange anus. We’re 55 days into 2024…and there is 111 left…but can we fast-forward to 2028 please…and thank you.

So what were the goals that I’d set for the Leo full moon? They included:

  1. Develop not only an calendar for intentional movement (such as weight lifting, cardio & other stuff), but also a weekly schedule for working on different projects (such as morning updates on Gaza & the West Bank; my microbe series I want to get started; and other ‘random’ projects), as well as continuous learning (working through e-courses and listening to podcasts). 
  2. Continue working on my two-to-five year plan…with mini-goals/objectives
  3. Spend time in the evenings working on crafts (continue the afghan, or also work on the needlepoint project, doodle/draw, maybe try to make some jewelry).
  4. Evening oracle card reading and meditation time. 

So how did I do with each of them?

Developing a calendar & weekly schedule, (I’d say I managed about 10% of this goal):

I draw out a calendar monthly…as I’ve yet to find a physical planner that has an layout that I like. I’ve also realized—I’m “old-fashion”—I do better when I write things out by hand (hence drawing the calendar, making to-do lists, and so forth). I just haven’t created a calendar for doing intentional movement—the best I’ve managed is trying to get out into the backyard for about an hour or so & throwing the ball for the younger dog. I’m still working on developing a fluid weekly schedule. Also, I decided that instead of starting with my microbe series—I’m ‘relaunching’ the oncology series—it will be on the science, health/medical blog, possibly on Instagram, Facebook (have to decide if it will be on my personal page, or what), and then on LinkedIn (once I hopefully have been given access to my account again). I may try to start listening to podcasts at night when I’m working on craft projects.

Continuing to work on my two-to-five year plan, (I’d say that I managed maybe 5% of this goal):

Do I know what I would like to have accomplished within the next two-to-five years? Kinda…do I have those goals broken down into more manageable steps & milestones…nope, not yet. Again, I have fallen into procrastination corner—where I’ve been putting off things…and allowing my anxiety, stress, and depression to kinda dictate what I do during the day…something I’m trying to work on improving—it’s small steps each day, sometimes sliding backwards, sometimes crawling forward.

Evening Craft time, (I managed 100% of this goal):

I’ve been diligent with this goal. I’m not quite two-thirds of the way done with the current afghan project. I should be finished with the second large panel by next week, and by the end of next weekend, have it attached to the other portion of the afghan. The final panel, plus the two border pieces will be hopefully finished by sometime in April—with a completed afghan by early May (at the latest). I’m thinking of using it then as a ‘example’ of the type of afghan I can create & possibly sell (have color selections—like warm colors (red, orange, yellow, and variations of those two), cool colors (blue, greens, purples), and possibly ‘mixed’.

Prior to focusing on the afghan, I’d been working on my second large needlepoint project—which is currently on ‘hold’ until I get the afghan finished. Though I’m thinking of creating a few smaller ‘abstract’ pieces to use as ‘examples’ or possibly to sell (see what type of engagement I get with them).

Evening oracle card time & meditation time (check–100%, though I’m trying to ‘extend’ the meditation time):

I’ve been diligent with reading oracle cards in the evenings..though at times I look back to see if I’ve pulled the cards and then just reference back to those pages…so I should still sit with the cards and see if I feel like I’m getting a ‘different’ answer. 

Meditation time is usually a few minutes and tied in with pulling the oracle cards. 

Overall thoughts on the Leo full moon goals:

I wrote at the end of last month that life wasn’t so much about finding balance—but equilibrium between areas of life. Right now I feel like I have to spend more time doing things to replenish my inner cup due to the massive amount of negative news in the world. It seems that it takes more and more energy every day to read what is happening in Gaza & write something about it for LI and then put it into graphics for Instagram. I didn’t realize how deep the void of compassion & empathy was in the west until the genocide started in Gaza.

So…I managed a little over fifty percent in terms of completing the goals. I fully acknowledge that I’m sitting (quite comfortably) within procrastination corner currently and it is going to take a good amount of energy (and accountability) to move from that corner to being on the outskirts of productivity central. The two areas I need to work on—being more organized & productive during the day (getting back to writing out to-do lists, using a planner, and so forth), and being a little more optimistic about things (especially in regards to long-term goals).

I also acknowledge my privilege in terms of life right now…I’m a white, heterosexual female living within the US…technically I only have to ‘worry’ about: sexual assault and low pay (compared to white male counterparts) in comparison to women of color, and individuals with visible handicaps/disabilities. One of the things I’m working on this year is decolonizing my mind, and relearning (or learning for the first time) the history of places & people that might have been ‘polished’ (shall we say) when they were talked about within history books in the west.

I’m hoping therefore to also have more nonfiction book reviews up this year over topics that might make people uncomfortable–because they point out the hypocrisy of the west & at time our willingness to turn ‘blind eyes’ and ‘deaf ears’ to various problems, because they don’t affect us personally.

But to end on a lighter note–what is one goal that you accomplished during the Leo full moon?

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Time/Project Management: Center to the the Pisces goals of the Hunters Moon

So the moon will be entering its latest full moon stage this weekend…and can also be referred to as the Hunters Moon—as it’s the full moon closest to the fall equinox (Sept 22). Since it should be transitioning through the Pisces constellation this weekend—it means that we’re a third of the way through September…

So if I looked to the book “Moonology: working with the magic of lunar cycles” by Yasmin Boland, I’d see that there are five questions that one can ask themselves during this time:

Have I been dreamy to the point of not getting enough done and making silly errors?

Have I been overly sensitive and too easily hurt?

Have I been acting like a martyr? Or too easily led?

Have I been meditating every day, and if not, why not?

Have I been in touch with my intuitive side? Following my dreams and hunches?

So if I were to number the above questions 1-5, I think that my answers would be as follow:

  1. I would have to say that I haven’t been too dreamy lately…too distracted, upset, semi-depressed, and totally irritated with the world? Yes, I have allowed myself to be ‘distracted’ from things and not get enough done (especially since I have a huge to-be accomplished list that I need to write out and start tackling).
  2. The past month has been difficult, so I may be a little more sensitive than usual (and I do admit to losing my temper), and am trying to find a nice balance in dealing with certain people.
  3. Nope
  4. With the use of the app soothing pod, I’ve been able to meditate for anywhere from two minutes to over ten, every night for the past two months.
  5. As I mentioned last year—I’m trying to get better at this—I’m good at being in touch with my ‘analytical’ side, but had spent years ‘ignoring’ my intuitive side. I’m trying to get better at tuning in to my intuitive side/gut. I am slowly trying to follow my dream of having a more ‘independent’ career away from the bench. I’m leaning more and more in the direction of freelance/remote/contract writing (science/medical/health) with the possibility of data analysis or project management style career. I’ve decided this route—because I want something that can be location independent, and also allow me some time independence and project independence as well.

So in addition to the self-reflection questions, one should also check to see what house or zone the moon is moving through as well. For me, the Pisces full moon is moving through my 5th house (according to my rising sign), which is also known as the “kids, romance, and creativity zone”.

I’m still semi self-isolating—I am now starting to occasionally meeting a friend for lunch, trying to get a walk in at Boomer, and visiting a family member in the hospital. I do plan on getting my booster shot hopefully within the next couple of weeks (the new Pfizer one has just been approved).

I’ve realized that when (and if) I move—it will have to be to an area where renting a small one (possibly two) bedroom house won’t be super expensive—the reason, my dog. Chaos is not an apartment dog, nor will he ever become one…I will need a place that has a decent backyard for him to run around in.

Only ‘kids’ I’m currently around are the furry variety (two dogs and three cats), as my niece is out in CA (though they may come for a visit next month), and if I meet up with one friend for lunch—we can do it during the week, so her daughter is in school.

I need to try to start scheduling more time for crafts (cross-stitching, jewelry design/creation, and even photography), as I really haven’t been doing as much as I was either earlier in the year or this time last year.

The comfort zone when it comes to crafts has included photography, knitting, reading, quilting/sewing (when I have a working sewing machine), and now cross-stitching. Hopefully over the next few months I can also add jewelry design/creation and maybe even mosaic design/creation to the list as well.

So what are my goals going to be for the Pisces Full Moon?

  1. Work on developing a ‘workable’ schedule for the day/week/month. I know that part of my problem is that I’m consistent in being inconsistent. If I really want to make freelance work—I need to improve my time/project management skills.
  2.  Make sure that I’m making time for crafts/hobbies and not just falling back into the ‘bad routine’ of work, work, and more work.
  3. Continue working on both blogs (coming up with editorial calendars, getting the copy written for various pages on both, and making sure that I have at least four to five blog posts written for the science/medical/health communications blog).
  4. Work through at least part of one personal/professional e-course.

Four goals, and while only one (the last) will actually have a ‘yes/no’ in terms of completion—the rest can also be considered on-going/continuous goals—but if one doesn’t start them…one can in theory never continue them…

Bits and pieces from previous chapters of our lives usually find their way into our current chapters that we’re trying to write…the bits and pieces from my previous chapters unfortunately right now include: imposter syndrome, inner critic, negative self-talk, and feelings of inadequacy.

I know that I can work through all of those feelings, and will be doing so—but also just acknowledging them is a huge step in the right direction of self-care/self-acceptance, and healing.

Therefore, I’m also going to keep the following quote at the forefront: ‘progress over perfection’, and knowing that I’m slowly starting the next chapter of my life (as I’m done re-reading the last one), in addition to limiting the influence of others in terms of what I decide to do with my future.

Question time: what are some of your favorite crafts?

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Pisces New Moon in Review: Reflections and a Writing Goal

So the moon has transitioned into its fourth new moon phase last night—so I’m going to be a day or so late in posting the April New Moon goals. I talked about how the first quarter of the year was my ‘testing’ quarter—hopefully will get back into some type of consistent posting this month.

But before I look ahead to the April new moon, I should look back at the goals I had set for the Pisces new moon, and see how I did with each of them.

So what were my Pisces new moon goals?

Well, they included:

  1. Work on indulging in more creative work during the day
  2. Spend at least part of the day mind-mapping different ideas (creative writing projects plus expanding the writing portfolio)
  3. Create an intentional movement board game (include weight lifting, yoga, Pilates, cardio, dancing, walking, and so forth)
  4. Continue with an evening meditation routine and also try to meditate in the morning as well.

So, how did I do with each of them?

I would like to state, that only two (creating mind maps and the board game) are ‘one-and-done’ goals, while the other two are ‘continuous’ goals.

Therefore, I would say that the only two that I was semi-consistent were the evening ‘meditation’ (which is currently just sitting quietly for a few minutes at night), and managing some photography throughout the month (though it wasn’t on a day-to-day basis).

While I like my personal/professional development board game, I decided that trying to d a fitness one wasn’t really going to work. I couldn’t decide on how many squares—did I do one for each type of lifting workout, how spaced should they be (one square, three, or more?), and how many of the other workouts (yoga, Pilates, cardio, walking, and say dancing) should be added?

Therefore, I decided I’d copy down (and modify) the tracking sheets from a fitness program I’ve done a couple of times (leaving off the pushups and lunges). I could dedicate several pages within the journal to the tracking sheets, and then I’ll make a list of different cardio, yoga, Pilates workouts that I can choose from for the non-lifting days.

Then I will simply charge the iPod, put it on shuffle and do a workout each day (also taking into account rest days and ‘active’ recovery days [yoga and Pilates]).

I have at least one mind-map completed for a rather large ‘omic’ writing project that I’m going to start on this coming month—in addition to the other large writing project that I’m toying with (melding the ‘troubleshooting tips for molecular cloning’ with the topics of GMOs, biofuels, and vaccines).

I’m still debating on the oncology topic(s) that I’m going to write on (currently I’m thinking focusing on pathways that are ‘disregulated’ by different cancers), and work on the mind map for those topics.

So, I can possibly say I ‘managed’ possibly half the goals? There was time sitting quietly, and there was some craft time, and some mind mapping—just not always constantly or consistently.

As I mentioned last night in my ‘March in Review’ post—I’d let my inner critic/imposter syndrome drive the ‘fear’ train during the first quarter of the year. Changing directions is difficult, and when you live in the ‘analytical’ side of your head for years—its slightly difficult to move into the ‘creative’ side and get things up and going (such as writing, photography, crafts, and learning).

One thing I’m going to do is write everyday. Whether or not I ‘publish’ what I write daily—well, that is a whole other question (and will depend on what I’m writing). But currently I’m thinking of at least a biweekly (possibly weekly) photography page with its accompany blog post (currently would be focused on birds), and then possibly a biweekly travel page with its accompany blog post (currently would be focused on ‘throwback’ vacations, though may add in ‘wish list’ travel blog posts [places I’d like to travel to and things I’d like to see]).

When it comes to my ‘why’—I think I’ve figured them out: I want to help improve science communications between the general public and the science community, I want to help improve science education (show that it isn’t boring or dull), and share my story as I’m rediscovering my enjoyment of learning, writing, and sharing it with others.

So, I will be also be starting a weekly science series within the next few weeks—I just need to make sure that I have enough written ‘before’ hitting ‘publish’. The current two ‘large’ series I’ve already mentioned above (the ‘omic’ project and the molecular cloning/GMO/biofuel/vaccine project).

So, I digressed a little on the topic—but that is the ‘joy’ of free flow writing—you just write, and possibly go back and edit out what doesn’t make sense. Since this is a post on goals and reflections—I think I’ll leave the few meandering paragraphs on how I’m going to work on improving things.

Therefore, I can say that I’ve been embracing the phrase ‘progress over perfection’.

The Pisces ‘new moon season’ has come to an end, and it is now time to embrace the Aries season–which is also the ‘start’ of the astrological year. This means, that I can ‘reset’ my long-term, yearly, monthly, and weekly goals to match the ‘new future’.

What is that future: A future where I’m a both a content creator and a copywriter all rolled into one.

What are some of your tricks for dealing with your inner critic when it gets totally out of hand?

Namaste….

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Looking ahead to the next revolution around the sun

So, yesterday was my birthday—and I’m now technically a full year into my fourth decade (even though I’ve kiddingly said that I’m celebrating my 39th birthday for the third time).

Last year I did a post shortly after my birthday on trying to answer the question of which hobbies, passions, and interests fall under the jack-of-all-trades umbrella, and which fall under the specialist umbrella. That posts evolved from a previous post (‘self-reflection, planning, and yet more self-reflection’).

I’d stated then that my two biggest struggles were imposter syndrome and being stuck in the ‘academic’ mindset of career progression (though industry does have clear career progressions—my ‘problem’ has been not knowing which direction to go in).

Recently I’ve been coming back to the possibility of freelance/remote/contract work where I could be doing writing, data analysis, project, and/or product management in addition to writing/blogging on personal/professional development topics as well.

The main reason why I’m leaning in that direction—we’re still in the middle of the pandemic, and I feel more comfortable with going in a direction that is semi-location independent and to a degree company-independent as well.

While at the same time, I want to create a ‘niche’ that will allow me to flow between topics that I feel fall into either the ‘jack-of-all-trades’ category or the ‘specialist’ category. In addition to allowing me to make use of my strengths: learner, intellection, input, achiever, and deliberative/ideation/arranger.

So how am I going to do this?

Well, I’ve come up with three broad areas that will be added to the two ‘fun’ niches that I already have ‘pages/tabs’ for on the blog/website.

The three broad areas that I’m going to be adding will be:

  1. Health and Wellness
  2. Science Education and Communications (abbreviated Science Ed and Coms)
  3. Personal Development (may also include some aspects of professional development as well)

Since each area is extremely broad, I’ll be focusing on certain subtopics within each area (though the science education and communication may remain some broad—only because I find almost all science to be interesting). What those subtopics are–I’m still working on those lists, but my goal is to have three-to-five subtopics per broad area.

They will also have their own ‘tab’ on the website (serving as individual ‘portfolios’), and I’ve decided that the Health/Wellness tab is going to be the ‘renamed/worked’ Fitness tab; Science Ed and Coms will be the ‘renamed/worked’ All Things Science tab; and Personal Development will be the ‘renamed/worked’ Everything Else Bucket List tab.

The two ‘fun’ niches that I will be keeping on the blog (and that already have their own tabs/pages) will be travel and photography (which I’m going to be combining with the birds tab).

Having these five ‘niches’ or areas will allow me the flexibility I need to stay focused, productive, and happy. Science education and communication may also branch out to include social sciences and humanities at some point (as I also enjoy those topics as well).

Other crafts (such as cross-stitching, jewelry design/creation, knitting, and others) may show up from time to time under the personal development tab or possibly just as individual blog posts.

Looking back over the past year, I’ve realized that I have made progress in numerous areas (even if it has been minuscule), and as I continue forward on this freelance/remote/contract path I know that I will continue to improve in those areas. That being said, I’m still going to be working on the following areas:

  1. Time and project management (I have numerous writing projects in the pipeline, but haven’t really gotten anywhere with any of them)
  2. Brainstorming, researching, writing, editing, and publishing–on a schedule
  3. Publishing my writing (in more places than just the blog and LinkedIn)
  4. Different types of writing (though I’m actually doing this a little with the volunteer medical content writing position):
    • Creative/Fiction
    • Scientific
    • Non-fiction
  5. Reworking the blog/website to serve as one of my ‘portfolios’ (with another being my LinkedIn account) in terms of the different areas/niches I want to branch out into

So, I have the overall plan of trying to go freelance/remote/contract for writing/data analysis/project and/or product management. Now it is time to rework the blog/website (slowly, since I have had it going for a couple of years now), and then figure out the other little nuts and bolts of starting my own business.

So, for my next revolution around the sun–I’m going to focus on stepping out of my comfort zone more, write more, create more, and if the pandemic every gets under control–perhaps even travel more.

No Comments careerCraftsfinancesfitnessHealthPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentReflectionsspiritualityUpdates

Three Books that have helped me start my burnout recovery journey

So this is an semi-extension of a post I did on LinkedIn earlier in the week. The reason why it is ‘semi’, I’m only including three out of the six books I had in that post.

I quit my job at the end of 2019 because I was burnt out on the whole academia route, and I had no energy to try to figure out my transition away from academia at the time. I would love to say that I spent all of 2020 self-reflecting, taking different courses, networking, and figuring things out–but I only did a little of that. I did do some self-reflection, I bought numerous e-courses, but I didn’t network that much and I still haven’t totally figured things out (though I’m getting closer).

It wasn’t until early this year (2021), when I read “Burnout: the secret to unlocking the stress cycle” by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski in addition to having a zoom call with a coach, that I’d realized while I had made some progress–I still have quite a ways to go.

Burnout talks about what burnout is, what causes it, and the best ways of dealing with it, not to mention how to try to ‘head it off’ to begin with. Without going into super detail, I will mention a few passages that stood out to me as I read the book.

There were three passages that really stood out to me and they were:

“We are built to oscillate between work and rest. When we allow for this oscillation, the quality of our work imporves along with our health.”

“The idea that you can use “grit” or “self-control” to stay focused and productive every minute of every day is not merely incorrect, it is gaslighting and it is potentially damaging your brain.”

“Wellness is not a state of being, but a state of action.”

The first two passages were stark reminders of why I left academia–I couldn’t handle the hours (even though as a staff scientist I was on a ‘normal work week’), and the idea that I had to be busy basically the entire eight hours of every day.

The final passage was just something I realized I needed to strive at–keeping in mind that any type of change takes time and it shouldn’t be seen as an end goal but a process.

I’ve come to ‘terms’ with the fact that I’m still semi-burnt out. I can now describe the feeling as being at teh bottom of a very deep hole/well/pit with very little illumination. Once I managed to find a lantern (or a torch), I was able to see my ‘pit’ with new eyes.

There is a staircase that meanders up the inside wall of the pit–I know that this is the way out, and that it won’t be a fast climb. I also notice that there are ‘slides’, some are short (seeming to connect different levels), but there is a long one that seems to come from the top–the one I hadn’t realized I was on, until it dumped me at the bottom. Also it seems to be connected to the othesr–possibly as a stark warning that lingering too long in certain areas can also lead to ‘burnout’.

The stairs and slides are a stark reminder that there will be no easy path for ‘recovering’ from burnout, and it brings to mind a quote/passage from the book ‘Joy of Missing Out: Live More by Doing Less’ by Tonya Dalton:

“You have to take this journey; you have to do the work because it is your path. The good, the bad, and the ugly. It belongs to you. So own it.”

The author talks to you about finding your ‘north star’ (or what you want to be doing) by using herself as an example. It was how to deal with ‘burnout’ without calling it ‘burnout’.

As much as I would love to brush everything under the rug and “pretend” to be on an even-keel, I know that I’m not there yet–and I’m both owning that fact and figuring out the work that needs to be done to move forward.

You might have noticed that there aren’t a lot of comments on my posts–in part I haven’t figured out the optimal key words to be sprinkling through everything, but also because most have been some type of spam comment. There had been one individual who had basically commented on a couple of posts that it seemed I liked to ‘whine’ more than I liked to ‘take action’. While I deleted those comments, looking back now maybe I should have taken a screenshot and used them as momentum to move forward faster.

Though the past couple of years haven’t been exactly a cakewalk–losing several dogs in 2018, dealing the depressive fallout throughout 2019 (not to mention the burnout), and then the pandemic last year–I’m actually ready for a ‘mild’ year (and hopefully that will be 2022?).

Though thinking back to those comments, I’m reminded that there are things I can’t control: basically how others read and intrepret my writing styles, but the one thing I can control (and I’m trying to get better at) is how I react to those comments.

There isn’t a quick and easy path for getting over anxiety and self-doubt. All I can do is to try to show up each day, and try to do something that pushes me slightly out of my comfort zone and into the stretch or risk zones.

There were two other quotes from ‘Joy of Missing Out’ that also resonated with me and they were:

“We need to stop treating each day as its own scorecard to be balanced. Look at your week as a whole and see if maybe you are spending more time on your priorities than you realize.”

“Productivity should be customized to you and the life you want to live.”

Again, both were a stark reminder that I made the right choice in leaving the academic world behind, and that I am slowly figuring out how to move into either the industry world or the freelancing world.

Seeing those quote reminded me to look at this passage from ‘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 that you’ve gotten what you came for; you have completed your mission. […] That is why you lose interest; not because you’re flawed or lazy or unable to focus but because you’re finished.”

This statement has resonated with me for quite a while, and truthfully is probably the one reason why I’ve been having such a hard time figuring out my transition: I’ve been afraid of losing interest in the project/company/sector/subject and becoming bored.

To combat that ‘fear’, I’m starting to generate ‘brain dump lists’ and ‘mind maps’ of anything and everything that has ever caught my attention over the years–with the end goal of figuring out how to turn all those ideas into a self-sustaining freelancing/online/remote career.

As I’ve made it up the first staircase, I glance around me and notice there is a table with a stack of books, a pad of paper with pens, a cup of coffee (or is tea?), along with a computer–I’ve made it to the first level: Self Reflection.

I will make myself at home for awhile among these books, papers, and computer. I will have my coffee and tea and contemplate on the routes that led me to the bottom of the pit, and up that first staircase towards burnout ‘recovery’.

I would highly recommend all three books and give them all five out of five stars (listed here again for reference):

Burnout: The secret to unlocking the stress cycle by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski

The Joy of Missing Out: Live More by Doing Less by Tonya Dalton

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

So I am still on my journey to heal from ‘burnout’–I’ve made some good progress over the past few months, but I also know I have quite a ways to go until I feel that joy and other happy emotions when thinking of another job–though I do feel those emotions (along with fear) when I think of doing freelance, so maybe I’m further on the path than I originally thought.

Have you read these books? What did you think of them? What are some of your favorite personal development books?

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Reflected and organized–planning still to be done: Review of Libra Full Moon Goals

So April is almost over, and that means that we will be heading towards the fourth full moon of the year on Monday. It seems taht time dragged by this time last year, but is speeding by this year. I’m not sure if it’s due to having a competent federal administration (at least at the executive level) and/or getting the pandemic slowly under control. But before I can look ahead to the next full moon, I need to look back at the goals that I set for the Libra full moon and reflect on how I did with each of them.

While it wasn’t a ‘goal’ per-say, I did managed to get a picture of the moon with my camera and longer lens (not the greatest, but not bad for the first time either):

March’s Libra Super Full Moon

So now back to the goals that I set for the Libra full moon? They included:

Working on my focal points (idea from the book ‘The Renaissance Soul: How to make your passions your life–a creative and practical guide’ by Margaret Lobensteine). Either ‘focus’ them more (making them more specific) or at least have my ‘whys’ added to them.

Create the ‘April brain-dump’ page; basically try to get all ideas and thoughts for the month of April onto paper. Giving me some direction for the month, plus allowing me to see what posts/pages I would like to create.

Continue working through various personal and professional development courses. Probably wouldn’t hurt to develop at least a rough draft of a personal/professional development plan.

So how did I do with each of them?

In terms of working on my focal points, while I didn’t make them any more specific, I did add my current ‘whys’ to each of them.

My evolving focal points plan

While I decided to keep the focal points semi-vague, I added in my ‘strengths’, core values, and my current ‘whys’ for each fo the five focal points. Keeping the focal points slightly vague was an attempt to try and keep my inner critic/imposter syndrome in check. I had spent a couple of weeks staring at the focal points and trying to make them more specific, but then I remembered this passage from ‘How to be everything: A guide for those who (still) don’t know what they want to be when they grow up’ by Emile Wapnick:

“When you lose interest in something, you must always consider the possibility that you’ve gotten what you came for; you have 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”.

I felt like this passage could almost sum up the past twenty years of my life, and I wish I had spent more time in my 20s trying to figure out my life, instead of just going with the flow. Going with the flow can either lead you in the right direction–or carry you so far off your path, you have no choice by to start foraging a new one. Truthfully, I find myself in the second category–having to forage a new path to try to connect back to my ‘original’ path that I deviated from decades ago.

I created my ‘April brain-dump’ page almost as soon as I finished writing the Libra Full Moon post. In terms of making use of it–only a few things have actually been crossed-off/highlighted. I think this was due in part to the weather slowly warming up–I like to spend time outdoors when it is nice, and the other part were the more subtle ways of my inner critic/imposter syndrome pulling me back into my comfort zone.

While I have noticed different ways that I ‘self-sabotage’ myself at times, and with even having ideas on how to deal with those issues–I still fell into those habits this past month. I spent way too much time either surfing social media and/or amazon, plus reading various fiction books (I was pretty much binge reading the Fatal series by Marie Force to get ready for State of Affairs that came out on the 20th).

I’m going to actually try and make use of the one ‘time-management’ app that I downloaded earlier this year (it is called Self Control), and see if I can get more things accomplished in May than I did in April. As I sit here writing this post, I realize that I probably should have been making use of the app for a couple of months–but I allowed my inner critic/imposter syndrome to keep me from activating it with their best ‘lie’: ‘what if there is another webinar or whatever being announced, if you have the site ‘inactive’ you’ll miss hearing about it’. Well–I’m going to take that risk that I will miss out on hearing about something right away.

In terms of working through any personal or professional development course–yeah, that didn’t happen this month. Again it was a combination of the weather getting nicer (therefore wanting to be outside more), and having managed to work myself in a decent anxiety attack with trying to develop a personal/professional development plan (therefore having then ‘shut down’ for most of the month).

I’ve realized that I’m still struggling with trying to define any type of long term goal (basically where do I see myself in ‘X’ years), both professionally and personally–which makes trying to create any type of long-term plan difficult. While I can keep most things vague–I realize that I should try to make a semi-focused long term goal of say 5 years (which is something that I’m slowly working on), and also realize/embrace is the fact that the goal can (and probably will) slowly start changing as I really start figuring out what I really do enjoy doing on a daily basis.

So while I only had three goals set for the Libra full moon, I managed to meet (at least in part) two of the three goals. I added my ‘whys’ to my focal points, and did a ‘brain-dump’ of ideas for the month. I also realized that I tend to start having ‘problems’ getting more things done once the weather starts getting nice and I want to be outdoors more than I want to be indoors. This means that I will need need to try to get all the computer work done in the morning/evenings, or set up an ‘outdoor’ space for working. I will also start making use of the ‘self-control’ app to keep me from scrolling through various sites all day instead of working. Though as I look at what I’ve managed to accomplish (and what I had hoped to accomplish) this month (and year) to date–I realize, that I can ‘start’ the year over at any time. So that is what I will be trying to do: I will use this last week of April to reflect and plan for a ‘new year’ and May will become the new starting point.

This is allowing me to keep with the following quotes: ‘Progress over Perfection’ and ‘You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last chapter’. Progress, no matter how small will add up over time, and will carry one forward–the biggest hurdle is just getting started.

No Comments AstrologyFull Moon GoalsPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

‘CIZED IT UP’: Looking back at the Pisces New Moon Goals

So we’ve entered April, and will soon be having the fourth new moon of the year (either tonight or tomorrow). Having a competent administration to deal with the ‘fires’ from the last administration, seem to be making the days and months go by faster this year.

So before I look ahead to the next new moon (Aries), it is time to look back at the goals that I set for the Pisces new moon and see how I did with each of them.

The goals for the Pisces New Moon included:

  1. Continue with CIZE–while it isn’t belly dancing, it is a dance program. It may teach me how to use my two ‘left’ feet before I try to find a free belly dancing program.
  2. Doodle sketch a cross-stitch pattern and work on cross-stitching this month.
  3. Finish patching the one afghan and start making a patch (or patches) for the second afghan.
  4. Continue with an evening meditation routine and try to meditate in the morning as well.
  5. Dream ‘big’ on where I would like to be in say 3-5 years and start making plans/goals for getting there.

So how did I do with each of them?

  1. I stuck with CIZE and actually am ‘finished’ with my first round. I say ‘finished’ because I didn’t totally follow the schedule for the program, but tried each routine at least once, include additional dance routines that were added to the program as ‘bonus’ workouts.
  2. I totally forgot that I was going to try to start working on a cross-stitch project this month.
  3. While I have a patch on the one afghan–I still need to finish stitching around the hole, and I haven’t started making the other patches for the larger afghan.
  4. For the most part I’ve been good with doing evening meditations before bed, though I haven’t really been able to get into the habit of meditating in the mornings yet.
  5. The ‘dream big’ goal–yeah, it hasn’t happened yet. The reason–good ole’ inner critic/imposter syndrome; while I’ve acknowledge my inner critic/imposter syndrome and am figuring out ways to work with it instead of against it–it does manage to drag me back into the comfort zone frequently (and this pass week that was where I was sitting).

So I managed to meet (more or less) three out of the five goals (so had a success rate of roughly 60 percent) this past month. Not perfect, but not the worse I’ve done either. I realize that part of the issue (at least for the past two weeks) was the anxiety over getting the vaccine for the SARS-CoV2 virus (I didn’t realize how anxious I was until I got in and out), the other part is still working on giving myself grace, acceptance, and realization that I’m not going to be perfect, probably will fall more than once moving forward and that’s fine–as long as I get back up and continue trying.

So I realized that I managed to keep one of the sayings for 2021 front and center this past month: ‘Progress over Perfection’. I’m making progress and it isn’t perfect–it’s messy, but that is life–messy if you’re trying to improve and live; it only seems ‘perfect’ if you’re willing to stay stagnant–and that isn’t something that I’m willing to do anymore.

I’m going to continue making 2021 a year of growth–and it doesn’t matter how microscopically small that progress looks to others as long as I keep moving forward.

No Comments AstrologyfitnessNew Moon GoalsPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflectionsspirituality

Reflections and stretching the comfort zone: personal & professional development

Since the weather was un-condusive to being outside for long periods of time last month (I know that it is still winter–but the temps were well below normal for both the time of year and location), I did quite a bit of self-reflection.

More or less mid-month, I had a conference call with one of my coaches, and then she taksed me with the assignment of filling in/out my own comfort/stretch/risk/die diagram.

She gave me the task, when after talking it became obvious that I was floundering due to my inner critic/imposter syndrome getting the better of me–almost daily.

I actually like this diagram/thinking model better than other ones that label the outer three zones as: fear/learning/growth. The reason–it lacks the word fear. With this diagram–you can continuously dip your toes into the something new, and slowly stretch your comfort zone to include them.

So, now moving forward I’m going to use this model of thinking instead of the other.

The purpose of drawing the diagram and filling in the areas allows one to see where they stand at any particular point on different areas. I decided to do a combination of personal and professional development for my diagram.

My comfort/stretch/risk/die diagram

In addition to having it a mix of personal and professional development, I decided that I would also list some of my various strengths around the edge as well. My strengths include: learner, intellection, input, achiever, deliberative/ideation/arranger (via Clifton Strengths Assessment), curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking (via VIA Character Assessment). This way as I slowly start moving into the stretch zone, I can also make sure that my strengths are guiding me.

So the professional comfort zone was pretty simple to fill in–it really only consisted of three things: research at the bench, being in academia, and trying to find a research (bench) position in industry.

Then when it came to my personal comfort zone–those were basically all hobbies.

Heading into the outer portions is where the self-reflection comes in, plus knowing that as I did things within one area (say the stretch zone), it would become part of the previous zone (comfort zone), and things can and will always be added.

The stretch zone is a mix of personal and professional development tasks. The professional development tasks lean more towards learning about different possible industry directions (such as clinical research, regulatory affairs, and project management) and certain skills (such as programming and technical/scientific writing).

I’ve listed various hobbies, in addition to working on improving my mental and spiritual health within the stretch zone as well.

The risk zone includes things like having a functional part-time (or three-quarter times) side business established, starting a podcast, and branching out in my writing.

The ‘die’ zone includes things like traveling abroad frequently, giving a talk (or talks) at a conference or other large venue, and going all in on working (100%) for myself.

Just filling in that diagram was enough for the inner critic/imposter syndrome to drage me back into my comfort zone for a day or two. Hell, it took me almost two days to respond to a comment on the post in a group because of my inner critic.

In addition to that assignment, I took it a slight step further and generated a list of topics that I would enjoy writing and/or learning about on a continuous basis. I’ve seen/heard it so many times that one should look at the books they’re currently reading, their purchase histories, their hobbies, and their educational background.

My current list of topics to explore

When I looked at mine, I came up with a list that ranges from science (with various subtopics), history (again with various subtopics), anthropology, and other ‘school subjects’ to bird watching, reading, photography, cooking, spirituality, and numerous different crafts.

When asked if this helped me break out of the ‘I seem to be stuck’ mode–the answer was yes, because it reminded me that I enjoy doing research. It also reminded me that research doesn’t have to be done at the bench–it can also be done in books and via computers.

I told my coach that I was going to start looking at things as ‘research projects/papers’–do a survey of the surface, figure out what interests me, and then deep dive into the topic for awhile.

Truthfully this has been one of my biggest sticking points–trying to just choose one or two directions for a possible career change. I’ve realized over the past year that since graduating high school the things I enjoyed the most were: 1) undergrad–since there was such a large variety of classes one could take. It did take me awhile to get finished, but I was paying my own way–therefore I took classes I needed for the major in addition to classes that were of interest; 2) my first staff position (though there were some troublesome coworkers)–the main focus was helping with undergraduate research, so I had to have at least a brief understanding of the different projects that were going on in the department.

While I’ve been edging into the stretch zone (I have a blog up and running, and I’ve been getting better at evening meditations), I will still find myself being pulled back into the comfort zone (hence why I haven’t figured out the best posting schedule for the blog) before I edge back into the stretch zone.

Even with having a list of topics to start choosing from (knowing that I could add, and go more in depth with certain topics)–my inner critic/imposter syndrome managed to drag my ass back into my comfort zone for basically another week. The problem–I had too many ideas to choose from and I couldn’t decide between starting a history post/section, adding to the science section, or maybe focusing on book reviews.

The solution–I decided I would try to do a monthly ‘brain-dump’ of ideas and then pick a handful each week to work on.

March ‘Brain-Dump’

Doing this allowed me to still have a ‘choice’ of what I could research and write about—but from a pared down list. It is similar to how I decided to go about my non fiction reading and e-courses that I wanted to finish for the year.

The initial large list had sent me into ‘analysis-paralysis’, where the smaller list makes it easier for me to do things.

While it is a large list, I’m also comfortable with the fact that I many not cover or get to every topic on the list. The science (and history) topics are going to require a more in-depth outline and research time compared to the bird pages and blog posts.

Do things this way, will hopefully allow me to start stretching the comfort zone, moving the ‘risk’ to ‘stretch’ and contemplate on what other topics/ideas/things could be added to the ‘risk’ or ‘die’ zones.

I’m also going to be doing updates on the diagrams–probably in either three or four month increments, which means the first update will somewhere between mid-May to mid-June.

No Comments careerCraftsfinancesfitnessHealthLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesno spend challengesPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentReflectionsspirituality

Evaluate Your Life Day–reflect & ensure that you’re headed in the right direction.

So today is evaluate your life day. This ‘holiday’ was created to help people sit back and reflect on their lives—are you going in the direction you want to be moving in? If not, what can be changed?

So questions that I found via the web included:

The BIG Question: Am I really headed in the direction I want to be going?

Other questions:

Am I using my time wisely?

Am I waking up in the morning ready to take on the day’s challenges?

Am I in the right mindset before I go to bed?

Am I letting things I can’t control stress me out too much?

What do I wish to be known for?

Am I spending enough time with loved ones?

Am I putting enough energy into my relationships?

Am I listening to others as I should?

Do I have an open & receptive mind?

Am I taking things for granted?

Have I been taking care of myself physically?

How is my appearance?

Do I trust myself?

Have I been being true to myself?

Have I been avoiding anything?

Have I gone outside my comfort zone?

Are things going well overall?

Am I achieving the goals I set for myself?

Is there something I need or want to change?

If I were to number the above questions 1-19, and then answer totally truthfully—here would be my answers:

In terms of the big question: I would like to think that I’m on the path to where I want to be. Listening to various courses, there was the one conversation between the Chestier Cat & Alice:

“Which road do I take?” she asked.

“Where do you want to go?” he responded.

“I don’t know,” Alice answers.

“Then, it doesn’t matter,” said the cat.

            I’m still in the process of trying to figure out the exact direction I want to be going in—the reason, I’m remembering/realizing that I enjoy numerous different topics, and I don’t want to go down the hole of ‘specialist’ and become bored.

            That being said, I am reading and doing quite a bit of self-reflection to help narrow down on the ideas/paths. It could very well become a single path to one destination—or it could be the melding of several areas into something that is uniquely me.

  1. So with being totally truthful—no I am not using my time wisely. The reason is that I’m still trying to figure out what part of the day do I have the most energy, and which part of the day does my energy dwindle. I know that it is usually somewhat in the morning and evening—but it varies depending on what I do day-to-day. So currently, I’m trying to track my energy levels to determine peak times for getting things done.
  2. Usually, I do wake ready for the day—though again, this varies. I’ve realized over the past few weeks/months of self-reflection that it is perfectly fine to slow down and not get everything checked off the to-do list (which is why, actually I just make a large weekly to-do list; that way I know that I have all week to get everything done, and I’m not over committing myself to things). I’m also in the process of trying to create my life handbook, to help me choose what things should go on the to-do lists, and what things are worthy of my time and energy.
  3. I try to be in the right mindset (somewhat calm and relaxed) before heading to bed. To get there—I do a oracle card reading; this helps me see if I’m staying on the right course or if something needs adjusting and then I usually try to mediate on the message from the cards. In addition, I’m trying to do quite a bit of journaling and getting my emotions and mindset down on paper as well.
  4. Yes—I am letting things that I can’t control stress me out too much. This is mainly in regards to the current political atmosphere in the US (I’m going to be voting on Nov 3rd, but I live in a red state, so who knows how much of an impact a blue vote will be), and the current pandemic situation (the US is leading in total cases & deaths, and I’m starting to go just g a little stir crazy; as I’ve been in isolation since mid-March, only going out every so often—with a mask and proper social distancing).
  5. This one is tricky and tied in with question one. On one hand—I should know where I’m going in order to know what I want to be known for; on the other hand—that path may change and what I want to be known for may no longer meld with that path or even with the second path. So—currently what I wish to be known for is someone who is compassionate, caring, able to convey complex science topics with ease to others, a good friend, colleague, and someone who also stands by her principals and values—even if it means having a smaller community around her.
  6. This is tricky and with the current situation (SARS-CoV2 pandemic) both a yes and no question. Yes, I am spending time with loved ones—I’m self-isolating at home with my parents, and my younger brother has managed to come in for one visit. It is also a no answer—because it isn’t possible right now to spend time with friends and family that are outside of our immediate ‘bubble’.
  7. Again—tricky question and one that has both a yes and now answer. Yes I feel like I’m putting enough energy into some relationships, and there are relationships that I know I’m not putting enough energy into. With the current situation (SARS-CoV2 pandemic), and still trying to find my footing, plus dealing with imposter syndrome, social anxiety, and not wanting to feel like I’m wasting people’s time—I know that I could be putting more energy into various relationships.
  8. Well—it depends on the topics, if it’s politics and someone is trying to defend the current resident of the White House or anyone in that particular party—no I’m probably not listening. While I have no problem trying to debate politics, I do have a problem when it comes to morals—there are certain things that aren’t up for debate (and a lot seem to be on the ballot this year). Otherwise, I hope I’m listening to other people well enough—but I know that this is something that I work on.
  9. Yes, I have an open and receptive mind. Again—I’m usually open to debating various things, unless they’re either blatantly false (such as those who believe that the earth is flat and the center of the solar system), or situations where we just won’t agree (such as pro-choice vs pro-life).
  10.  I don’t think I’ve really ever taken anything for granted—other than maybe believing that if something can go wrong it will go wrong.
  11. I’ve gotten back into a workout routine, and have even gotten to the point to where I can take the rest days and not fear that I’m not going to push play again come Monday. I know that it will take awhile to get into the best shape of my life—but life is a marathon and not a sprint. It is time to honor my body and work with it, instead of against it.
  12.  Well, currently this is a trick question. We’re still in the middle of a pandemic; I’m self-isolating so that means that my wardrobe currently consists of comfortable clothes. I’ve never been one for makeup and fixing my hair—as far as I’m concerned they both take way to much damn time. So I’m more of clean-faced, and pull my hair back into a pony-tail. While I’m sure that I may have to do a little more ‘dress-up’ for any potential interviews and so forth—right now I’m not going to be worrying about it.
  13. I think that I’ve spent quite a bit of time not trusting myself over the years and I’m slowly starting to slow down so that I can hear the internal voice and guidance of my intuition.
  14. I’m trying to be true to myself. I’ve made the decision that I probably won’t alter anything on any of my social media accounts. Why have I made this decision? Well, everyone is always told to make sure that you haven’t posted anything that can in theory ‘haunt’ your job applications or your career—I’m an introvert, so there isn’t any socially awkward pictures anywhere on the net—but I am a liberal, a pagan/wiccan, and I have a snarky/sarcastic sense of humor. Therefore I have memes on my personal facebook page that make fun of the current administration, I have links to petitions on my twitter feed, and I have numerous pictures of tarot/oracle card readings on my instagram account. I’m proud of all those things—my response to the ‘don’t post things so you don’t offended others’—if my posts ‘offended’ you, don’t send me a friend request and don’t follow me on social media; my feelings won’t be hurt.
  15. What have I been avoiding lately? I’ve been avoiding doing in-depth personal and professional development. The reason why: mainly imposter syndrome and social anxiety. Though I’ve decided that I’m going to acknowledge the feeling and try to find middle ground on moving forward towards my goals.
  16. I find this to be a trick question—because if you look up comfort zone to learning zone, you’ll find graphics that show that between those two zones is the fear zone. So, in a way I’ve been stepping outside my comfort zone—but I’ve realized also that I’ve become trapped in the ‘fear zone’. This zone is one that takes more work to get through, and at least for me a lot of that work is mental—I need to shift my mindset. While I have shifted my mindset, it takes longer to internalize those messages. So while I logically know that not everyone is going to approve of my choices—emotionally it is taking longer to internalize.
  17. I would like to say that things are going as well as can be for it being 2020. The pandemic has taken everyone’s plans and thrown them into the shredder. While I may not be able to do the traveling that I wanted, I have been making strides in self-reflection, personal and professional development. I’ve started to embrace the phrases “progress over perfection” and “slow and steady wins the race”.
  18. Yes, I am slowly achieving the goals that I’ve set for myself. I’ve realized that I can’t change every aspect of life overnight, and going after too many goals at once is a recipe for a nice heavy anxiety attack. Today is still going to be spent looking at various lists of goals, and asking myself the following question: “Am I pursuing this goal for myself or because someone else things I should be pursuing it?”
  19. Finally, yes there are things that I need to change—I need to change my mindset (getting over or through imposter syndrome; feeling like others are judging/mocking me; and so forth); I need to become better at time management (need to tune into my body and figure out what part(s) of the day I have the most energy—and then dedicate those times to pursuing my goals); I need to continue working through various personal and professional development courses—but mostly I need to find the path back to myself. I realize that my next career step may (or may not) be unconventional—but it will be what ever works best for me.

I’ve also realized that I need to go back and look at the results of my Clifton Strength Assessment Tests again (I took it the first time in 2017 and then again back in December of 2019), and see how I can both leverage my strengths and start working on improving some of my weaknesses. Though as one author put it—we all have a little of all the strengths, we just don’t use some as much as others. So while I will never be the outgoing extrovert—I can at least work on improving my people-facing skills.

The biggest takeaway for me this year is acknowledging that I’m still not absolutely certain of what I want to do with my career moving forward. While I know that I probably want to move away from the bench—towards what I’m still not certain on; though I have some ideas.

I have courses to work through, a large network of people I can ask questions to (as soon as I stop feeling like an imposter/idiot), and knowledge that I can adapt to any situation that I need to moving forward in life. My next step is going to be creating my ‘life handbook’ and that way I will have all goals in one central location and can sit and review them on a more consistent basis.

Have you either evaluated your life today, or created a life handbook? If you’ve created a life handbook—did you do it digital or in a notebook?

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