Author: jessimatts

Night of passion with no last names = semi-awkward Monday morning

Welcome back to Colorado and the Montgomerys—where once they bring you into the fold—you’re a Montgomery for life. #CHEESEFORALL!!

Last First Kiss is Daisy & Hugh’s story…and picks up just after Happily Ever Maybe. 

Daisy Montgomery Knight is owner of Montgomery Security along with several cousins. Hugh Hendricks is one of their new security hires. 

How did they meet? A wedding…and nope—not a Montgomery one. They shared a dance (since he caught the garter & she caught the flowers), one night of passion…and unfortunately no last names…

Imagine Daisy’s surprise, walking into work on Monday morning…and seeing the man that gave her a unforgettable night of passion…

Daisy is still healing from being injured in the warehouse explosion (confused…go read Best Friend Temptation…the explosion is at the end)…and everyone is still trying to figure out who was behind that problem. So various family members are a little bit more ‘over-protective’ than usual…and with the Montgomery men—that’s saying something.

Hugh use to own his own security business…but sold it & moved to Colorado to be closer to his ex-wife & daughter, Lucy. Then his ex decided that it was easier to start ‘anew’ without reminders of the past…and Daisy understands how Lucy feels better than Hugh knows.

Since moving and starting in a new school, Lucy is befriend by none other than Nora Montgomery…who views all ‘strangers’ as friends not yet made. It’s extremely cute seeing how these two six-years plot sleepovers, playdates, and such—playing all adults…nothing better than a sweet little smile from an adorable six-year old.

Though, it does become a little ‘tricky’ when Lucy asks if they’re meeting Daisy for dinner again in front of a couple of Montgomery men. Plus there is the ‘little’ issue of an competing security firm trying to buy them out…or underbid them on jobs.

Can Daisy & Hugh figure out their relationship…and ensure that it doesn’t ‘bleed’ over into their jobs?  Will they discover who was behind the warehouse explosion? In addition to dealing with the competing security firm?

The answers…plus wine, beer, cheese, and ax-throwing can all be found within the pages of Last First Kiss.

I love this next generation of Montgomerys, plus I love when various members of the ‘original series’ pop in for a visit as well..it’d been awhile since I’d seen Daisy’s parents. In fact—I went back and reread their story as well (want to check out their story—grab Fallen Ink (book one of the Montgomery Ink: Colorado Springs spin-off). The best thing about the Montgomery Ink world (whether original or Legacy)—you can start literally anywhere, and know that you have a whole world you can binge read.

Last First Kiss (Montgomery Ink Legacy #5) will be available at all major online stores Monday March 4 2024. Five out of five stars…and I would suggest reading it on a full stomach…or you might just go raid the cheese…or need to go on a run for Indian food…or whatever is your favorite food.

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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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Focusing on improving time/project management skills during the Aquarius new moon

So the moon should be moving through the Aquarius constellation tonight & tomorrow…marking the second new moon of 2024. Whoever has the voodoo doll for this decade—can you PLEASE leave it alone…like seriously, enough…

I asked last year if 2023 was going to be better than the previous few years…and it wasn’t…I almost want to ask the same of 2024…but until more political leaders start finding their backbones..this year is probably going to be even worse than 2020 (the start of the SARS-CoV2 pandemic…and I didn’t think that would be possible).

Looking at “Moonology: Working with the Magic of Lunar Cycles” by Yasmin Boland, there are again several things that one can do during this period:

  1. Detach ourselves from things that are no longer serving us
  2. Be true to ourselves
  3. Be inventive
  4. Be charitable
  5. Be social

Well…I’ve never really been a ‘social butterfly’. While I don’t mind getting together with friends every so often…you’ll find me at home in the evenings working on crafts or reading. So…I’m not going to try to become ‘more social’…it doesn’t fit me or my personality…I’m not anti-social, I’m just selectively social.

As I mentioned last year—I’m still working on detaching myself from things that are harmful—such as the negative self-talk (that is so ‘unconscious’—I don’t realize it majority of the time), diet culture & mentality, and other things as well. I’m also unlearning & relearning the ‘true’ history of different areas & people (working on decolonizing my mind). 

I’m also still working on being true to myself…since I came to the realization last year that I’d spent way too many years burying parts of myself in order to blend in and not call attention to myself. 

Being true to myself means—working on improving my spiritual health (I’m more Wicca/pagan than following a monotheistic religion; aka more ‘spiritual’ than ‘religious’); my career direction (freelance writing mixed with a healthy dose of crafts), mental health (dealing with burnout, anxiety, depression, stress, & an touch of PTSD), and then personal/professional growth path(s).

I’m ‘foraging’ my own paths in those areas..trying to be ‘inventive’ in how I deal with things…because I’m unique and different…I should ensure that my coping mechanisms fit my personality and aren’t just ‘cookie-cutter’ copies of what others are doing.

Then one should turn to see what zone (or house) the moon is moving through in regards to other aspects of life. Remember there are basically three ways to determine which house/zone the moon is in for any new/full moon: your star sign, your rising sign, and your moon sign. I usually go with my rising sign, which is Scorpio; while my star sign is Virgo, and my moon sign is Pieces. Depending on which ‘sign’ you go with—the zone/house will be different.

So this means that the moon is entering into my fourth house, or the home and family zone. So this can also be a time when one can spend cleaning (getting rid of things), possibly moving, and spending more time with family. So there are several suggestions from “Moonology” on what one can do during this time:

  1. Have a garage sale
  2. Hug your parents
  3. Sort out your photo albums/digital photo files
  4. Invite friends over
  5. Renovate or redecorate, so you’re more comfortable at home
  6. Sell your home and/or change locations, or even countries
  7. Ask your grandparents about your family’s history

As usual, there are several things from the above list that won’t be happening:

Asking my grandparents about my family history…only because all my grandparents are dead. My paternal grandfather made a notebook on part of the history of the family…basically from the time his grandparents came over from Finland…I’d have to try to do more research if I wanted to trace things back further than the late 1800s on my father’s side. If I want to know more on my mom’s side…I just need to email one of her sisters that is into figuring out the family tree.

We’re not a big family on hugging…but if I want to I can give my father a hug…can’t hug my mom as she passed last year.

Hmm…not really inviting people over (again—not big on having a social life)…there are two dogs to also take into consideration..not to mention an elderly cat with bathroom issues.

While we’ve been putting money into the house in terms of updates (new windows & a walk-in tub/shower)…I don’t think we’re selling anytime soon, and I currently don’t have plans for trying to relocate somewhere else.

What may happen this year (BUT NOT during the new moon):

Possibly a garage sale…we’ve got enough stuff around the house that we could try to get rid of some of it, while possibly earning a little money. Or I’ll just start trying to sell things on-line.

I’ve rearranged my room…just need to put things back into some semblance of order, since I had to move things around when we had the windows installed last week.

I really do need to sort through the digital pictures. Currently they’re all back up on the external hard drive (because they’d zap my cloud storage if I had them all on the computer). One goal this year is to try to get at least another 15-20 bird pages up onto the blog. Trying to sort the digital pictures has been something on one of my many lists throughout the years…I try to sort & get rid of the really blurry pictures, or the pictures where I can’t identify the bird…but that only puts a small dent in the total number of pictures. 

One big goal for 2024 is to figure out what my ‘vision/version’ of minimalism is—and embrace it. I know that I have way too much stuff both within the house and then up in my storage unit…and it’s time to figure out how to get things pared down enough in the house that I can get things out of the storage unit & into the house (and save money in the long run).

Therefore the list of goals for the Aquarius new moon will include:

  1. Continue working on my ‘long-term’ vision/plan (and brainstorm what the milestones will be)
  2. Continue trying to organize the files on the computer (and see what is actually worth keeping & what can be deleted), and also look at the backup external hard drive as well.
  3. Finish ‘reorganzing’ the bedroom (again)…

Three goals…two could almost be considered ‘on-going’…because let’s face it—the bedroom is going to get disorganized/cluttered throughout the year…I’ll start working on some project (creating a file, folder, and so forth)—to just forget about until I stumble upon everything in six months (or longer). Also…I’m still working on trying to develop my ‘new normal’…I’d thought that part of that would be actually working at a desk for several hours a day (but that was before adopting #apepthepuppy and yeah…desk work right now is possibly being regulated to the evening hours) . But I’m slowly making progress in that direction…and that is all that is needed—some type of forward movement.

What are you hoping to achieve during the Aquarius New Moon?

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Where is the focus needed: Time & Project Management

So…the moon will be entering the Aquarius constellation over the day or so…marking the second new moon of 2024. But, before looking ahead to the Aquarius new moon, I need to look back at the goals I set for the Capricorn new moon…and see how I did with each of them.

So what were the goals for the Capricorn new moon? They included:

  1. Work on developing my vision of where I would like to be in 3-5 years in regards to remote/contract/online freelance writing/blogging. In the same note, write out very specific goals/milestones that will help me achieve the said vision.
  2. Read at least one non-fiction book that I’ve started
  3. Finish at least one module of a personal/professional development course
  4. Start refreshing my Spanish again (or start learning Arabic) using the app Mondly

So how did I do with the above goals?

Developing a vision of where I want to be in three-to-five years:

This vision ties in with my new ‘definition’ of success. In three-to-five years, I have my debt paid off, a credit card (or two) canceled, and all other debt being paid off monthly.

I have two successful freelance businesses—which includes having a podcast & YouTube channel (that I do for fun), an online store to sell crafts, and several e-courses (covering a broad range of not only science topics, but history & social sciences as well).

Plus getting into the best shape of my life, creating & embracing my vision/version of minimalism, mediating more, and having my mental/emotional/spiritual health on an even keel as well. 

Have I figured out the monthly/quarterly/yearly goals to get there? Nope…not yet—but I have the vision…so I’m actually a little over halfway there—compared to the past.

Finish reading at least one non-fiction book:

I’ve actually finished the following:

  1. Letters to a Starseed by Rebecca Campbell
  2. White Women: Everything You Already Know about Your Racism & How to do Better by Regina Jackson & Saira Rao
  3. Healthy at Every Size: The Surprising Truth about Your Weight by Linda Bacon, PhD

These are three of the five non-fiction books that I’ve finished so far this year. The other two–I finished roughly right before the Capricorn new moon started…so they couldn’t count towards this list.

Finish at least part of a personal/professional development course:

Nope…while I did finish a very short e-course last month–it was before the start of the Capricorn new moon & can’t count towards the goal.

Start refreshing Spanish (or learning Arabic) on Mondly:

Nope…haven’t gotten into an consistent habit of doing this currently.

Four goals for the Capricorn new moon, and I managed to complete about half of them (reading & having a rough idea of where I would like to be in three-to-five years). The other two goals…all I can say is that I allowed doom scrolling and reading the news sidetrack me from these goals. Also the fact that I have yet to design/create/figure out the best ‘fluid’ schedule for the day/week/month.

I know the REALLY BIG PROBLEM…I try to put EVERYTHING on the calendar…I try to BLOCK OUT ALL TIME…make use of ALL TIME…be SUPER-PRODUCTIVE…and then I end up doing nothing—due to analysis-paralysis & that pesky imposter syndrome/inner critic. One of the goals for this month—create at least two really detailed outlines for topics related to the science/health/medical blog & at least one really detailed outline for a ‘blog’ series for this blog (I’m thinking of comparing different goals setting methods, time management, project management and so forth). These outlines will be the ‘framework’ for blog posts, infographics, posters and so forth. Plus–I can block time for just them in the weekly schedule.

My top strength is love of learning…but if I don’t develop a WORKING schedule that is tailored for ME…my top strength also becomes my top weakness. I also know that for certain projects—I need to write, pause, and then come back and edit. This is a problem mainly when I do my morning updates on Gaza for LinkedIn—I almost always overshoot the character limitation (which is 2974 characters—including spaces).

So, after I get this update posted…I’ll be reflecting back on how I’m (more or less) spending my days…to figure out where I’m wasting time (doom scrolling), and whether or no I need to try to download yet another productivity app that will allow me to ‘block’ access to certain sites during the day (so I don’t ‘doom scroll). This HAS to happen…because I really don’t want to try to do an 9-5 in-person job. I don’t think that will work anymore. I’ve grown a little too accustomed to doing what I want, when I want.

So…2024 will be the year that I continue in the direction of freelance work (with the extremely small possibility of a remote job—as the steady paycheck for awhile would be nice), becoming better at both time & project management. It will also be a year that I develop a “working” relationship with my inner critic/imposter syndrome (that I’m going to name ‘Carla’).

In addition—this is the year of authenticity, growth, creativity/curiosity, & prosperity.

How did your Capricorn goals go? Successes or near misses? And what is your go-to word for 2024?

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The next security specialists to fall are?

Welcome back to Denver, and the Montgomery Ink world. A world—where once you become friends with an Montgomery—you’re now family for life…if you work with an Montgomery—you’re family for life.

Basically—you end up with a very large family.

Happily Ever Maybe is an novella within the Montgomery Ink Legacy world—and is Gus and Jennifer’s story. Gus and Jennifer are two security specialists that work with Noah, Daisy, Kane and others.

Gus and Jennifer have been ‘secretly’ crushing on each other for over a year…neither wanting to make a move that could damage their friendship or work relationship.

So what happens when they give into to their mutual ‘secret’ crush on each other? 

What happens with various obnoxious clients, including client ‘x’?

Can they figure out their ‘relationship’ and how to make everything work…I’d say smoothly—but there are always bumps in the road when a Montgomery is around.

How big of a pain is their latest client?

The answers…are within the pages of Happily Ever Maybe; and it will be available for purchase on Feb 13, 2024 from all major sites.

I love the Montgomery Ink world…whether it’s in Denver, Colorado Springs, or Fort Collins. They’re a large, close loving family—one that I think just about anyone would want to be a part of…children are encouraged to be whatever they want when they get older…whether it’s a tattoo artist, a teacher, baker, or IT specialist. 

If you’ve never jumped into the Montgomery Ink world—grab a cup of coffee (or tea), a comfy chair and settle in to meet Gus, Jennifer and various Montgomerys…and the best part—there is a whole world waiting to be explored after you’re done with Happily Ever Maybe.

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Harnessing time & project management to focus on personal & professional growth

So Thursday night marked the first full moon of 2024. We’re now twenty-seven days into the new year, and I’m ready for it be over. I know I should give it ‘more time’…but there is the ongoing genocide in Gaza (yes, the ICJ ruled…their ruling amounted to a ceasefire [stop any & all genocidal activities]…but Israel is ignoring it [as expected])…and I have a bad feeling things are going spiral out of control soon…and this is going to explode into the third world war.

Plus…there is that new variant of the SARS-CoV2 virus floating around as well…

Last year, I didn’t post any new or full moon goals for the first half of the year (depression and so forth)..and I’ve made it a goal to try to be better this year…even if I’m a day or more late in posting the goals (or reviews). 

What are some questions to reflect on during the first few days of the full moon? According to “Moonology: working with the magic of the lunar cycles” by Yasmin Boland:

Have I been too self-centered, egotistical, or proud?

Have I been treating the people around me like minions?

Have I been arrogant, vain, pushy, or pompous?

Have I been expressing myself creatively enough?

Have I shown myself enough self-love?

If I were to number the above questions 1-5, my answers would be as followed:

  1. Let’s see…there is still the SARS-CoV2 virus running around (technically we’re in the ‘epidemic’ stage and not pandemic stage)…there is a genocide being carried out live in Gaza…and we’re heading into possibly the most heated/volatile presidential campaign season (even worse than either 2016 or 2020). Since I’m still working on building a freelance business, I don’t think I’ve been self-centered or egotistical about things. I’m proud that I haven’t totally lost my sanity or have had any type of major mental breakdowns. I won’t say that it has been a walk in the park—I’m still struggling with a few things, but I’m surviving.
  2. Nope, I haven’t been treating the people around me like minions. I live at home with my father currently—there are no minions here. Though the animals would say that I’m their minion.
  3. Again, nope I haven’t been arrogant, vain, pushy, or pompous. This is also because again—I haven’t really been out of the house for quite a while. Last year, I just started meeting a friend for lunch monthly again. Though I’m sure that those I’ve blocked on various social media sites might argue this. 
  4. Well, this is something I’m working on. Currently I’m working on a afghan and I’m about a little over a third done with it. I also have a needlepoint project I could pick back up, doodling, drawing, coloring, painting, and numerous other craft projects to do in my evening spare time. I would like to get up to Boomer with my camera at some point…but since I’m really a fair weather girl..that will still be a couple of weeks before that happens (and then will probably be the first time in over a year since I took my camera up there).
  5. The answer to this is almost me shrugging my shoulders…as in I’m not sure. From fall of 2021 though this year has been a goddamn rollercoaster…and I’ve never been a fan of them. So, I probably am not showing myself enough self-love and/or self-care. It is something I’m going to be trying to get better at as I navigate 2024 (with fingers and toes crossed that a world war isn’t going to suddenly erupt). So, yeah—I still need to work on improving my health: physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, and social. 

With focusing on self-care/love, this will include doing intentional movements (anything from lifting weights, to walking, to cardio and yoga), meditating at night, doing a oracle/tarot card reading, starting to listening to podcasts again, reading, and just trying to figure out what works for me.

Looking at my chart—the Leo full moon is going through my 10th house, which is also my career zone. So, with it going through my career zone—the past couple of years have been spent trying to figure out what it is I want to do with the second half of my life…both personally and professionally.

I’ve decided that I’m going to be focusing on freelance (and possibly remote work) with science/health/medical communications/education, in addition to also adding in some history/social sciences and current events. As well as figuring out how to monetize the creative/hobby blog (link to a different site for selling crafts? Go to craft fairs and/or farmer markets? The possibilities are possibly endless.

The combination of the two—will allow me to combine my core values: learning/knowledge, imagination/originality, growth/evolution, communication & community, simplicity & insightful; with my strengths: learner, intellection, input, achiever, deliberative, creativity, curiosity, and critical thinking. In addition the combination of these paths (freelance work in different fields and creative craft work) will also allow me to embrace my multipotentialite personality.

So what are my goals for the Leo Full Moon? They include:

  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. 

Life isn’t so much about finding balance…but finding equilibrium between areas of life—sometimes we do need to push a little harder in the career…but then we need to fall back and spend more time doing things that replenish us and allows us to ‘refill’ our internal cup. This has actually been one of my biggest stumbling blocks—finding the equilibrium between things…as well as finally admitting that I was on the wrong career path.

Will I get all goals accomplished? Well, I am starting a couple of days late (because, as usually I’m running behind schedule on things)…and technically half the goals are continuous (three and four), while the first two goals are more fluid…so I’ll aim to get them accomplished…and I’ll check back in next month (with the update) and we shall see…

What are some of your Leo goals?

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Reading..goal-setting..choosing my words: Review of Cancer Full Moon

Okay…we’re going to be heading into the first full moon of 2024 tonight (and I’m behind schedule as usual)…which means that before looking ahead to the Leo Full Moon, I need to look back at the goals I had set for the Cancer full moon. 

It’s 2024…and we’re sliding down a slope towards a regional conflict that could morph into a global conflict. The issues are within West Asia (Gaza, the occupied West Bank and the genocide Israel is carrying out). I’ve managed one update here on the blog…hoping to do it at least twice a month, and once I start doing more research on other conflicts, having a weekly update.

But this post is to look at the goals I’d set for the Cancer Full Moon last month and how I did with each of them. The goals that I’d set included:

  1. Determine the four top goals for 2024 and come up wiht a good tracking system
  2. Determine my words (or phrase) for 2024
  3. Nightly oracle card drawings and mediation
  4. Draft a three-to-five year plan (with yearly/quarterly/monthly/bi-weekly goals)
  5. Finish at least one more non-fiction book
  6. Work through part of a personal/professional growth course.

So how did I do with the goals?

Determine the four top goals for 2024…and come up wiht a good tracking system

The four TOP goals for 2024 are:

  1. Getting the freelance business(es) launched. This will also include a YouTube chnnel, possible podcast (by the end of the year), figuring out how to monetize the creative blog, and possibly an Etsy store (or other site) for selling crafts.
  2. Getting the debt down
  3. Continuing to heal my relationship with food and movement
  4. Continuing working on hitting goals from my 44 things before 44 goal list, and 1001 goals in 1001 days.

I’m still working on developing a good tracking system for the goals.

Determining my words (or phrase) for 2024:

The words: growth, challenge, compassion, curiosity, and creativity.

Why these words? Well 2024 is going to be a challenging year (in more than one way)—which will mean I will be growing, I’m naturally creative and curious—so they will help me navigate the challenging year and determine the best ways to ‘grow’, and compassion is needed to help heal the world.

I haven’t thought of a phrase yet…though it may just be the hashtags: #WTF and #WTH considering the state of the world.

Nightly oracle card drawings and meditation:

Yes, I’ve been doing nightly oracle card drawings (they’re daily on Thursday—as they’re part of my Thoughtful Thursday series on LinkedIn), and I usually am able to manage a couple minutes mediating.

Drafting a three-to-five year plan (with yearly/quarterly/monthly/bi-weekly goals)

This is still a work in progress. Why? Well…we’re still watching a genocide being live-streamed. The occupying force that is committing the genocide is looking to go after other neighbors, and I’m seriously concerned that this is going to spiral into WWIII…so as I continue to work on drafting my ‘long-term’ plan…I may cut the time down to two-to-three years…which could very well be how long humanity has left…

Finish at least one more non-fiction book:

I’d actually finished three non-fiction books during the past month:

  1. Body Positive Power: Because Life is Already Happening & You Don’t Need Flat Abs to Live It by Megan Jayne Crabbe
  2. Flying Snakes & Griffin Claws: and other classical myths, historical oddities, and scientific curiousities by Adrienne Mayor
  3. Letters to a Starseed by Rebecca Campbell

Currently I’m bouncing back and forth between the following non-fiction books:

  1. Healthy at Every Size by Linda Bacon, PhD (53% done)
  2. The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917-2017 by Rashid Khalidi (26% done)
  3. Eve: How the Female Body Drove 200 Million Years of Human Evolution by Cat Bohannon (basically just started ~3% done)
  4. American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America by Colin Woodward (basically just started ~4% done)
  5. They Call Me a Lioness: A Palestinian Girl’s Fight for Freedom by Ahed Tamini & Dean Takruri (~10% read)
  6. Gaza in Crisis: A Reflection on the US-Israeli War on the Palestinians by Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappe (55% done)
  7. White Women: Everything you already know about your own racism and how to be better by Regina Jackson & Saira Rao (72% done)

There are about another 500 that are waiting to be started…I have a habit of buying books before finish about a third of the ones I already own.

Working through part of a personal/professional growth course

Earlier this month I watched an short art history course on Udemy: Gods and Kings: The Art History of Mesopotamia and Arabia.

It was a very short course—only about an hour long; which is one of two things I had against the course. I felt like the instructor could have done more on each of the topics; in addition—there should have been some type of ‘discalimer’ stating that you should take her prehistory art history course before taking this one. I found it slightly distracting that she kept referring back to ‘previous’ lectures—which in actuality would be a ‘previous course’.

But other than those two things—it was a good course for being only about an hour long, and trying to cram thousands of years of art history into that period (especially for the two regions covered). I’d like to see an more extensive course offered for the art history of the Arabian peninsula (Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen, the UAE, Qatar, and Bahrain).

In conclusion:

So…I think I managed to meet most of the goals (long-term planning is always an ongoing process…especially when witnessing an genocide & the lack of compassion that majority of the world is showing). I also know that I’m running behind by about a day or so in posting things to this blog…and I’m woefully behind on posting to the science/health/medical blog…

One e-course was completed…I have a goal of trying to complete at least eighteen different e-courses before June of 2026; and I’d technically like to complete about a third of those before my birthday in September. One of the things I’m going to be doing is (especially since I’ve bought SO many e-courses over the past few years on different sites) to focus on courses that will help me launch my businesses this year.

I also have a goal of reading at least 100 non-fiction books by June of 2026–and I also have the goal of trying to read 44 of those before my birthday. I’ve managed to read ten (between Sept of 2023 and today)…so to reach the goal by my birthday–only 33 more books; and I’m pretty certain I’ll make the 100 books by June 2026–since I’m a tenth of the way there already.

I’m pretty certain I’ve closed the career chapter(s)/section on working in higher education, and actually have ‘written’ a short story within my life story on reasons why I don’t think I’d be a good fit within industry…so I am slowly working on writing that next section of my life.

What goal from the December Cancer Full Moon are you proud to have accomplished?

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Good Time Boyfriend Review: When your ‘imaginary’ boyfriend meets the family

Welcome back to Colorado, and the Cassidy brothers.

The Cassidy siblings: Heath, August, Greer, and Luca. Greer was featured in Best Friend Temptation (and first introduced in Longtime Crush), and it was within Best Friend Temptation that we first met her brothers.

They all ‘hail’ from Washington state…but decided to make Denver, Colorado their home. They’re trying to reconnect as siblings after growing up in a seriously dysfunctional spin-off of the ‘Parent Trap’.

Good-time Boyfriend is Heath & Denvey’s story. They’d ‘briefly’ met when Heath started working with a friend at the bar ‘Lost and Found’…they exchanged a few words…and that was the last Heath had seen of his mysterious woman…

Until a handful of people barged in one night…demanding to know why he’d broken their younger sister’s heart.

It turns out that Denvey comes from a family that could rival a certain other Denver family for butting into each other’s lives. She’d gotten tired of being set up on blind dates…so she ‘conjured’ up a fake-boyfriend; but one with a very real first name—Heath.

So what happens when Denvey needs a ‘fake’ boyfriend for awhile? Well…Heath is always a gentleman and ‘volunteers’ to act as her boyfriend for as long as she needs him.

Throw in Denvey’s large and overwhelming family; the Cassidy siblings, an appearance or two by an Montgomery…and you have drama in Denver again.

Can Denvey and Heath work through their issues? Will Denvey politely ask her elder siblings to give her breathing room…will there be cheese?

The answers..the drama…and the laughs are within the pages of Good-Time Boyfriend. I was ecstatic when Greer was introduced and she had ‘unattached’ brothers…because that meant another spin-off series within the greater Montgomery Ink world. I wonder if Denvey’s younger siblings will have a spin-off series in a year or two (need to let them all reach ‘adulthood’). 

Good-Time Boyfriend will be available at all online spaces come Monday morning. It was a blast of a story to read—and I highly recommend the book, and if you’ve never been in the Montgomery Ink world—it’s a nice one to ‘dip’ your toes in to start meeting that massive family.

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Start of a new year–planning, planning, and more planning

So the moon entered the Capricorn constellation some time over the past day or two…it’s only January 13, and I’m already slightly behind schedule. In terms of setting goals last year based on the new and full moons—I missed quite a few months, as 2023 was not a good year…at all…for anyone.

One of the goals this year is to set goals for both the new and full moon each month, and try to accomplish at least half of them…or at least have ‘started’ half of them, as I usually have some ‘on-going’ goals (such as working through e-courses, reading, or trying to listen to podcasts).

So, back to the first new moon of the year, which is moving through the Capricorn constellation, and according to “Moonlogy: Working with the magic of lunar cycles” by Yasmin Boland, there are several things that one can do during this time:

  1. Plan for the next year
  2. Be ambitious with your plans for the next year (or few years)
  3. Be kind (to both yourself and others)
  4. Cede control (don’t micromanage or manipulate others)
  5. Establish traditions (also working on your reputation [both personal & professional])

What is nice about life under the Capricorn constellation—all items listed above can be accomplished without having to be in ‘crowds’—since there are variants of COVID that are popping up again, it’s winter, and I’m not much for large gatherings currently.

There is another aspect of the moon cycles—and that is the zone (which is associated with your signs [there are your star, rising, and moon signs]). I usually do all my predictions using my rising sign: Scorpio, though I could do it with my star sign (which is Virgo), or even my moon sign (which is Pisces). Just like the constellations, we pass through each zone twice each year (once for the new moon and once for the full moon).

So this new moon in Capricorn is entering my third house, or my communication zone. This is the time to concentrate on communication, and spending time with friends and siblings. So there are several things that one can do during this time (again I’m taking this from “Moonology”):

  1. Take a public speaking course
  2. Read the books you’ve got stacked up
  3. Take a short trip
  4. Hang out with your siblings
  5. Study a foreign language
  6. Really listen to others
  7. Write those letters you’ve been putting off

Well…while we technically aren’t in the middle of a pandemic (we’re in the ‘endemic’ stage)…money is tight, so there are still a few things that probably won’t be happening:

  1. Hanging with siblings…though this deals more with the older sibling who lives out of state..I see my younger sibling a litte more frequently, since he lives in town
  2. Taking a short trip. While I’ve gotten my vaccine & one booster shot–money is an issue, and truthfully, while there are plaecs I’d like to visit..they can wait until I can afford to travel and it’s warmer.
  3. Taking a public speaking course…this is on this list due to money, and the new COVID strain running around.

Therefore, if I were to combine the two lists and create goals from them, my goals will include:

  1. Developing my vision of where I want to be in 3-to-5 years in regards to my freelance/blogging & crafts businessses. In addition start drawing out the ‘road-map’ to get there.
  2. Finish reading at least one of the non-fiction books I’ve started
  3. Finish at least one module of a e-course
  4. Start refreshing my Spanish again (or start learning Arabic) using Mondly

I know what I want to do with my future—a combination of freelance science/health/medical communications/education along with the crafts/hobby/personal/professional growth blogging and potential monetizing of selling crafts. Last year had so many stumbling blocks that I only got certain ‘pages’ up and live towards the year. I have numerous ideas—I just need to get them all down on paper, mindmap/brainstorm, and then pick different projects that I can move between (say blog posts, creating infographics, posters/slide-decks and so forth). 

That also means I need to develop (and stick) with a good posting schedule for the blogs, and different social media sites…plus start writing on other sites (such as Medium). Currently, one hurdle I’d dealing with—is trying to edit as I write. While I logically know I need to write, take a break and then come back and edit…I’ve fallen back into the semi-bad habit of trying to edit as I write…which makes things go three times as long.

2024…a new year…but continuing in the direction of freelance work, possibly remote (a steady paycheck would be nice for awhile), and becoming better at time & project management. Things I’m going to try to ‘shed’ this year—-the negative self talk, the self-doubt/comparing myself to others, and working at ‘taming’ my inner critic/imposter syndrome (‘Carla’)…

I forget what words I’d chose for 2023…they could have been similar to the words I’d chose for 2021 and 2022. While I’m keeping a few of those words, I’m adding a new word for 2024: authenticity; the other words are growth, creativity/curiosity, and prosperity.

What word (or words) have you chosen for 2024?

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