Author: jessimatts

Self-reflection, ‘jack-of-all-trades’ vs ‘specialist’, & now more planning

So I’m a little over a week into my fourth decade and still working on answering the question: which hobbies, passions, and interests will fall under the jack-of-all-trades umbrella, and which will fall under the specialist umbrella.

This question evolved from my ‘self-reflection, planning, and yet more self-reflection’ post where I was trying to answer the question of who I wanted to become over the next five plus years.

While for some this is probably a quick question to answer—I’m still slightly struggling with for two reasons: 1) imposter syndrome—since I’m wanting to transition out of academia and into industry, there are times when I feel like a ‘fraud’, even though I know everyone’s journey is their own and that no two paths are the same—also no one has the same history, likes/dislikes, strengths/weaknesses, and personality traits that I do. The second reason is that at times I’m still in an somewhat academic mindset, which has a somewhat “clear ladder” on how your job grows—you graduate with your PhD, you do a couple of postdocs, you then get an assistant professor position, and then work your way up the ladder to associate, full, regents, emeritus professor along with possibly going for department head, or positions as a dean.

Since I’m still not sure which direction I want to go in—therefore there is no “clear ladder”, and even once I decide on a direction or directions to go in—there is no guarantee of a “clear ladder” or straight job trajectory in today’s society. Therefore I’m on a mission to create a mix of things that not only fall under both categories (jack-of-all-trades and specialist), but also encompass all aspects of life.

Through self-reflection, I realize that the times I’m happiest and in the ‘flow’ are when I’m both learning and relaxing—in other words when there is a balance between things. This is something that I had lost over the past decade or so—actually, this was something I closed off when I thought I wanted to go down the academic route—I pushed aside enjoyment, relaxation, and balance while focusing on just one small area for ‘learning’.

I’m thinking that the best route will be something that allows me to both—work for a company, but also be an independent freelancer as well. This way I can juggle different hats (under the umbrellas of jack-of-all-trades and specialist), and hopefully never get bored.

Boredom for me is like the kiss of death for the job—and one thing I need to work on is asking for change in the job when I start feeling boredom sneak in—because if I don’t ask for a change, I know I will start to get a little laid back in things and let things start to slide—which is something that I want to avoid moving forward.

So that brings me back to the question: how am I going to divide up my hobbies, passions, and interests into the categories jack-of-all-trades and specialist?

One area can be quickly filed under jack-of-all-trades currently, and that is crafts. These include knitting, sewing/quilting, learning cross-stitching, making my own jewelry, doodling, and hopefully at some point painting. The time I spend on any of these varies—knitting is usually done only in the cooler months, I currently don’t have a sewing machine, and the others have had very little time spent on them.

Therefore until I start spending a good amount of time on any of them during the week, they will be a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ topic. These will be things that I write about maybe once a month or every couple of months on the blog. I have ideas on how to try monetizing some of them (knitting, jewelry, and cross-stitching), but haven’t spent any time trying to work up the plan or even a few showcase pieces.

There are other hobbies that I spend more time on: bird watching, photography, reading, and at times journaling/writing. These are areas of my personal life that I could slowly start working on more and move to what I would consider ‘expert’ level.

In terms of bird watching—seeing how many species in North America I can have identified by a certain age. This would then also allow me to include traveling, being outdoors, hiking, and photography as well.

In terms of photography—I can work on becoming a better nature photographer, and also start learning another form (say architecture or portrait photography). I would consider myself an expert if I then start selling my prints (either through my own site or another site, and/or have a small photography business on the side).

In terms of reading—start writing book reviews and posting them on both the blog and where I purchased the book, in addition to promoting books as well on my blog and social media sites. This way I could also then start possibly reviewing advance-reader-copies (ARCs), in addition to maybe working through affiliate programs—earning a little money, by referring people to buy different books.

In terms of writing—there is quite a bit I need to work on (and actually can be applied to all areas that I would like to become an ‘expert’ in) to get better at writing. The first thing is scheduling time every day to write/brainstorm/outline. Saying I want to become better at writing does nothing unless I also put in the work to become better at writing. So what are the things I need to work on?

            Time management

            Brainstorming, researching, writing, and editing—on a schedule

            Publishing my writing (in more places than just the blog)

            Asking others to read what I’ve written and give constructive criticism

            Different types of writing




            Creating a portfolio to highlight my work

So in terms of my passions and interests—which should be jack-of-all-trades and which should be specialist?

If I look to my scientific background that has spanned a little over two decades I’ve noticed that I can focus on any of the following: recombinant cloning, recombinant protein expression and purification, sequencing, HPLC, MALDI-TOF, NMR, transcriptional and translational assays, small RNA biology, plant biology, cell culture, yeast, bacteria, fruit flies, the cell cycle, and bioinformatics.

If I had to chose areas for jack-of-all-trades those would include: bioinformatics (data science, programming, and data analysis), cell culture (basic mammalian and insect), sequencing, HPLC, MALDI-TOF, and NMR. These are the more technical things—though cell culture isn’t very technical, I just didn’t do that much of it through the years.

The areas I would chose for specialist would then include basically everything else: recombinant cloning, recombinant protein expression and purification, transcriptional and translational assays, small RNA biology, plant biology, yeast work, fruit flies, bacteria, cell cycle and almost anything that falls within these categories.

If I looked to other topics that I enjoyed during college—these were classes in social sciences and humanities (history, anthropology, sociology) that I got good grades in and never really stressed out over the exams (unlike all the other science classes).

So I would probably include some of those topics—medieval history, art history, anthropology, ancient North/South American history (prior to the arrival of the Europeans), archeology, and paleontology within both categories depending on the amount of time I could give to each area.

Other interests that could probably bounce between being jack-of-all-trades and specialist include spirituality, personal finances, and health/fitness.

These are areas that I’m interested in gaining more knowledge (finances—getting out of debt, saving more, retirement, multiple streams of income), becoming the best version of myself (health/fitness—completing programs, getting outdoors, and setting fitness goals to achieve and celebrate instead of spending money), and embracing (spirituality—I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m more spiritual than I am religious, therefore I want to become better at reading tarot/oracle cards and be able to meditate longer than say two to four minutes).

Therefore within the next five to ten years I would like to become a more well rounded person and scientist—this means over all balance, some days may be more science than crafts, more time at the computer than behind a camera—but also more days crafting, reading, and meditating. It is time for me to forge my own path forward that allows me to embrace all aspects of who I am, my strengths (learner, intellection, input, achiever, deliberative/ideation/arranger), while also working on my weaknesses.

The next step will be creating a plan that will allow me to slowly start moving in that direction.

No Comments careerfinancesfitnessHealthjob searchingPandemic2020Personal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentReflectionsspiritualitytarot cardstravel

Happy Fall (or Spring) Equinox–depending on where you are

So today is the first day of autumn (in the northern hemisphere). Depending on which day of the week it would fall (nice unintended pun there), I would go for a walk around Boomer Lake—or the closest Saturday or Sunday. Technically I could have tried today—but between the pandemic (I don’t trust the reporting of the numbers for where I live) and the overcast weather (which makes most pictures a little too dark) I decided not to do a walk. I’ve decided that even a short walk will have to be done fairly early in the morning (to avoid others), so I have a couple of choices in terms of mornings for a walk at some point before the end of the month.

Green Heron seen last summer at Boomer Lake.

I missed seeing all the little goslings and ducklings this year but I am hoping to be out a couple of times to catch some of the migrating birds (both the ones that stop for a short layover and those that winter in town) between this fall and the coming spring.

I’ve created a series of pages dedicated to my bird-watching hobby (Birds, Birds, and Birds is the ‘home’ page), and more pages will be added to the series, and pages will be updated as well (with potential additional pages added within to house some more of the photographs).

So far I’ve managed to make a page for the migratory ruby-throated hummingbird, the year round red-bellied woodpecker, and the year round great blue heron.

Migration of various animals (such as birds and butterflies) will start to pick up in intensity over the next few weeks—though if they summer further north, they may have already started their migrations a few weeks ago. Some animals base their migration on the amount of sunlight—so as the sun starts to set earlier and rise later, they start to head south.

Monarch (or Viceroy) Butterfly seen resting at Boomer Lake early last fall.

Over Labor Day, we actually saw part of the dragonfly migration (they were also being followed by kestrels and Mississippi kites)—though we haven’t seen any since (but that is understandable—it all depends on the direction of the winds for both that particular day and the few days leading up to the current day).

What is your favorite migratory animal??

No Comments Astrologybird watchingbutterfliesPhotographyReflections

Goals for the Virgo New Moon

Well we moved into another ‘new moon’ phase this week (specifically for me, it was last night) and I realize that I didn’t get around to posting my double new moon post last month (since the moon cycled through Cancer twice, it was a review of the previous month’s goals and trying to set new goals for the next Cancer new moon), and then I forgot about the Leo new moon last month.

Instead of trying to look back at the things I should have been trying to do for the Leo new moon, I’m going to move ahead and look towards the Virgo new moon that we just transitioned into.

The new moon is pretty close to my birthday this year (which is still two days away)—three years ago, the new moon was on my birthday; and next year the full moon for September will fall on my birthday. Since, Virgo is my start sign—it means that I’m semi-neat, semi-organized, and semi-neat freak (constantly cleaning). My other signs are Scorpio (rising) and Pisces (moon).

So what are some of the things that one can do during the Virgo new moon?

            Take an inventory of your life. Figure out what is working and what isn’t and then figure out what needs to change for the things that aren’t working.

            Be of service—help out more at work (if able), do the little things that can help make someone else’s day a little more bearable.

            Be healthy—see what is and isn’t working in your health and fitness routines and then figure out what to fix—what new habits to start working on.

            Avoid nitpicking—this is where the motto “progress over perfection” really comes into play

            Get organized—pay bills, figure out the monthly schedule (workout, eating, so forth)—things that can make life a little more bearable going forward.

The moon is also moving through my 11th house—or my friends’ zone. So what are some things that one can do during this new moon in regards to friends, hopes, and dreams (and take into account the new “normal” of social distancing and so forth, due to the ongoing pandemic)?

            Sign up for an evening class in something you’ve always wanted to do.

            Ask your friends to introduce to friends of theirs you’ve never met.

            Wish on a star every night for a month.

            Introduce a childhood pal to a friend from your life now.

            Say ‘Hi’ to someone you see nearly every day but never talk to.

            Thank your best friend for being there for you.

Well having a ‘real’ social life during a pandemic isn’t possible right now. I’m currently still self-isolating, and most of the people I know are trying to keep their ‘bubbles’ small (i.e. the people they interact with on a daily basis). So having physical meet-ups right now is out of the question. I know that I could probably do virtual meet-ups, but first I still want to purchase some thin drapes to cover up the bookcases that would be seen behind me in my room when doing virtual meet-ups (unless I sit on my bed).

Usually I would be meeting up with a classmate once a month for lunch—but we haven’t done that since right before the shelter at home orders were given—six months ago, and it may be at least another six months before we may be able to meet up face to face for lunch.

So what will my goals be for the Virgo New Moon period?

  1. Take inventory of various aspects of life and try to develop a working schedule that will allow me be both productive, but at the same time enjoying time outside as well.
  2. Continue with daily workouts (currently it is a combo of Yoga Booty Ballet with LIIFT4).
  3. In combination with #1—organize the schedule, possibly alternating days that certain things are done on (for example networking on Mondays & Wednesdays, but following up with people on Tuesdays & Fridays).
  4. Continue with nightly oracle card readings and also try to spend at least two to three minutes meditating (either before or after the reading).

Finally continue moving forward while remembering: “Progress over Perfection”, “You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one”, and “Not caring what other people think is the best choice you will ever make”.

No Comments Astrologybullet journalcareerfinancesfitnessHealthNew Moon GoalsPandemic2020Personal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

Update on site: Check out the birds!

So the website will be getting updated periodically (hopefully weekly, but definitely biweekly). I realized that I have several pages within the blog that I don’t add to consistently, and I’m hoping to change that fact.

First up—I decided to add a new page called Birds, birds, and birds. The topic of the pages associated with it is specific—birds. Since I enjoy doing bird photography, I decided that I would dedicate a page to the topic. I’m hoping that each week I can add a new page to the series.

Currently the only additional page that is listed is the ruby-throated hummingbird.

I will also be updating the Travel page as well—and it may be alternating weeks with the bird page.

I will still be posting photography photos on the blog (and the photography page), but decided to also give certain subjects home pages as well.

In terms of the other pages—Fitness will have three additional pages added to it before the end of the year, and I will probably have several blog posts as well throughout the rest of the year.

Adding to the All Things Science page will be a little more sporadic (I’m hoping to add a page once a month, as it will be a fairly in-depth coverage of a subject), but also adding in some blog posts as well.

I’m also thinking of redesigning/renaming the Odds & Ends Bucket List—to the 150+ Challenge in 2002 days, and have both pages and maybe even blog posts associated with it as well.

In addition, I’m thinking of adding in a spirituality page that will cover my rediscovery journey to being a wiccan/pagan.

Finally, I’m hoping to get into a consistent mode where I’m adding to the site weekly (probably different topics), but at the same time helping to improve science education/communications; educate, and just help others who may also feel like they don’t really fit the mold of the current society.

No Comments bird watchingnaturePandemic2020ReflectionsUpdates

My next fitness challenge: combining Yoga Booty Ballet with LIIFT4

So I am going to be finishing up with my first round of morning meltdown-100 next week (specifically on Sept 15th), and then moving right into a combo/hybrid workout of another two programs—LIIFT4 (which will be my second time going through the program) and Yoga Booty Ballet (specifically using their abs & butt makeover calendar).

I’m combining these two programs for the following reasons: 1) I want to continue doing weight training, and I really enjoyed doing LIIFT 4; 2) I’ve always enjoyed the Yoga Booty Ballet program (and actually this was the first program I bought from Beachbody years ago); and 3) I think they will complement each other nicely.

The workouts in each program are between 30 and 45 minutes—which is basically the current amount of time I want to spend working out (especially in the mornings), and while the yoga booty ballet workouts aren’t ‘live’—I don’t mind doing them on repeat for the next eight and a half weeks.

One goal for this combination is to see if by the end of the program am I lifting heavier than I did at the end of the first round of LIIFT4?? I’m hoping with coming off of morning meltdown 100, I will be lifting a little heavier for some of the exercises (though I also know that there are several that I’ll still be lifting “light” on for quite a while as well). So we will have to see mid-November how much heavier I’m lifting on some of the exercises.

No Comments 101 GoalsfitnessFitness ChallengesHealthPandemic2020Personal Development Challenges

2020 Update on my Level-10 Life. Reflections & future plans.

All right, I realize that I haven’t posted a level-10 check-in since July of last year. I did do a level-10 check-in in December 2019, May 2020, and then this most recent one—beginning of September 2020; but two of those three were only in the journal.

So, just a quick reminder of what a Level-10 life check-in is:

There are 10 areas of life: family & friends, personal development, spirituality, finances, career (and I also include professional development here as well), social life, fun & recreation, giving & contribution, physical environment, and then finally health & fitness.

You then rank each area on a scale of 1-to-10, quickly and without thinking too hard on each one. Then you can compare your most recent Level-10 to the previous one and see how (or if) each area changed. Then depending on how you score them, and the change you can set up goals for each for the coming cycle.

Instead of doing three months, I stretched it into four months this year—because it’s 2020. Usually areas have been either staying constant, or just going up or down a little.

Though, with this check-in there were two areas that had slightly higher ups and downs.

Those two areas were finances, and the physical environment. My ‘happiness/appreciation’ of my finances went down 1.5—due largely to my impulsive e-book buying (and therefore a slightly larger than normal amazon bill). My ‘happiness/appreciation’ of my physical environment went up 1.5—due mainly to me keeping things better organized than I have in the past.

So what are my goals for the last four months of 2020? These goals are going to encompass basically seven out of the ten areas—leaving out family/friends, giving/contributions & social life. Not that I don’t care about those two—but 1) we’re still currently in a pandemic, so if I want to socialize with people, it will have to be online (or a minimum of 12 feet apart); 2) I try to keep in semi-touch with family/friends via social media; 3) there may be things to be donated or given away—just not sure on that particular point.

1) Finish the following workout programs:

            Morning Meltdown 100—I should be finishing my first round of the program on 9/15/2020

            Yoga Booty Ballet & LIIFT4—I should finish this combo by 11/15/2020 (marking the first finish for Yoga Booty Ballet-Abs & Butt Makeover & the 2nd time through LIIFT4)

            10 Rounds—I should then finish this program by Christmas (and it will be my first round of this program).

            I will then start either Muscle Burns Fat & then Muscle Burns Fat Advance or another round of 21-Day Fix and 21-Day Fix Extreme (either of these will then carry me into 2021).

2) Finish the following professional development courses:

            Data Science Syndicate (finish by the end of September; only 1 ½ modules left; actually finished this on 9/3/2020).

            Medical Writers Organization (by the end of October)

            Management Consultant Firm (by the end of November)

            Project Management Consortium (by the end of December)

3) Start learning python (tied with #4 and #2)

4) Finish at least 6 other short e-courses

5) Read at least 8 personal/professional developments books and write short reviews

6) Daily mediation and tarot/oracle card readings (bi-weekly or monthly oracle card review on blog)

7) Learn a new hobby (try my hand at cross-stitching). Also get more yarn and start another afghan possibly.

8) Determine way(s) of earning extra money (or free-lancing options)

9) Start building up a varied portfolio for looking into free-lancing/remote/on-line job options.

10) Go to the storage unit and start repacking boxes that need it, plus maybe start seeing what I don’t need.

No Comments Book ReviewsBooksbullet journalfinancesfitnessHealthLevel 10 Lifemoney saving challengesPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentReflectionsspirituality

Self-reflection, planning, and yet more self-reflection—all in one question.

Question that I was thinking/meditating on for the month of August: Who do I want to become over the next 5 to 20 years?

This has been the question plaguing me for the past few months (and actually if I’m honest about my transition plan—probably the past two or three years), as there at times is conflicting advice on whether or not one should have a solid plan for ‘x’ years down the road or going after ‘y’ job title/position—mainly because we don’t know what will happen in the future (right 2020), and if we become so narrowly focused, we could miss or pass by an opportunity of a lifetime.

Though the same can be said for not having a focused plan or idea of the future. If I’m totally truthful with myself—I probably fall into the latter category of not having a totally focused plan. Up until probably five years ago, I had thought that I’d be able to handle doing the academic route (post-doc for years, find an assistant professor position and work my way up to full professor)—but what I use to consider fun (putting in somewhat long hours in the lab to try to answer part of a question), was no longer fun and I no longer had the energy to try to fight my way into the academic arena.

This has also left me slightly disillusioned when it comes to figuring out where I want to be in say five to twenty years—what do I want to do? Do I want to stay in research (my comfort zone)? Go in a different direction and apply the skills I have in a slightly different manner? Then I get more pressing questions—like will I still enjoy the work?  Will I still be willing to make the sacrifices needed to move forward to the next promotion? Or will I become disillusioned again?

One thing I’ve realized is that I could handle anything that was tossed my way as long as I kept true to the following: 1) I was always learning. While I was getting slightly tired of school by the end of my undergraduate career (I will take full responsibility for taking 7 years to earn 2 BS degrees, a minor, and being able to graduate with 0 student loans)—I did enjoy the ability to take classes in different areas (though now I wish I took a few more business courses), and I enjoyed the time working in various labs as an undergraduate research technician. 2) I stopped doing school work/studying at a certain time so I could unwind before bed. 3) I tried to keep the weekends homework free (for the most part), so that I could enjoy being outside and getting a little natural vitamin D.

I was okay with having to bend number three every so often in grad school (sometimes experiments needed to be finished or started on the weekend), and even a little during the later positions. What I shouldn’t have bargained with was number one—always learning. It wasn’t so much during grad school (I did enjoy focusing and diving deep into a single subject area that is still growing today), but later positions. If I wanted to learn or read on something that was outside the scope of what I was doing on the job—I was told to do it on my own time (which I mentally took as well, now there is less time to unwind before bed). So what did I do—I stopped looking at other subjects that interested me— and I did the bare minimum needed for the job and that was it.

It has taken me a couple of years to realize where and when that mindset started—I actually feel more comfortable knowing a little about numerous different areas, and quite a bit about say one or two areas—but I don’t want to become a narrow-focused specialist.

So, winding back to the main question—where do I see myself in 5-20 years? I see myself as someone who has been able to balance being both a professional blogger/online entrepreneur and holding a normal 9-to-5 job. My industry position is within health economics, medical/scientific writing, or possibly market research, or market communications. Since we’re still in the middle of a pandemic—for the normal job I’m finding it better to have a couple of different options to look into.

I’ve probably rebranded the blog, and have also managed to launch several different e-courses/tutorials covering different science topics and starting to branch out into different social science topics as well. Staying true to my multi-facet nature, having numerous pages to the blog has actually been one of the key successes to my online presence. I’ve stuck with the areas of personal/professional development, lifestyle (crafts, money management, minimalism), and fitness/nutrition (encompassing all three areas of health—mental, physical, and spiritual). In addition, within five to ten years I will have worked up the nerve to launch a podcast (a YouTube channel will be launched between years three and five).

It took quite a bit of soul searching during the pandemic to reach the point to where I could state that I want to be both a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ and a ‘specialist’. The major work will be trying to figure out which areas of life will be focus of ‘jack of all trades’ and which ones I will become a ‘specialist’ in. In addition, it will take work to build up a solid following on social media (One area to work on is getting better at posting on various social media sites), and then move forward from there. The next soul-searching question would be “what do I want to be a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ in and a ‘specialist’ in”??

No Comments careerPandemic2020Personal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

Creativity, personal/professional development goals for the Pisces Full Moon

So the moon will be entering its latest full moon stage either tonight (marking the full moon at the very beginning of the month) or tomorrow night. The full moon is marking the fact that there are now only four months left in 2020 (quietly looking out the window to see what is coming towards us).

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’m not sure if I would say that I’ve been dreamy to the point of not getting enough done. I’ve probably been wasting time (scrolling through social media and the news) that I could have spent doing something more productive. This was actually something I realized earlier—I need to find a balance between being an well-informed individual and wasting time on the computer.
  2. I don’t think that I’ve been overly sensitive lately. Truthfully, while being in self-isolation due to the pandemic, I haven’t been around many other people so I haven’t had to deal with other people’s emotions.
  3. No, I have haven’t been acting like either a martyr or someone that can be easily led around.
  4. I usually try to mediate for at least five minutes every night—some nights I manage, and other nights I don’t. One thing I’m still working on is creating an optimal meditation area in the room.
  5. This is something that I’ve been trying to do more of lately. I resigned back in December so that I would have the time and energy to try to figure out what it is I really want to do with my life. Then the SARS-CoV2 pandemic hit, and I will admit that I’ve spent quite a few months shaking my head—I realized that it would probably be a bad year, I just didn’t fathom how bad it was going to get. So I am trying to follow my dreams and hunches—one of the things I’m going to be doing is trying to help improve science education/communication somehow (still brainstorming ideas on that).

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”.

Any of the zones this year are more of a challenge—mainly due to the pandemic and self-isolation. Truthfully—even if we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic, I probably still wouldn’t have a lot of time currently for romance. I’m trying to figure out my life and part of that is trying to figure out where to move—I don’t want to start a relationship with anyone knowing that I’d be moving out of state at some point in the near future. So—I’m not to worried about romance, currently not around any kids (I don’t have any, my niece is out in California, again with the pandemic I’m not getting together with any friends that may have kids)—unless you count animals (then I do have six to deal with—three dogs and three cats and they’re constantly around, and two of them will have all the veto powers in any of my future relationships), so the only aspect that I’m going to concern myself with currently is the creativity zone.

I had promised myself that once I started my “reboot break” I was also going to have more time to spend on creative work (whether that was doodling, journaling, knitting, taking pictures—something that was not related to the current job search mindset). While I have been spending time doing something creative daily, I haven’t been varying (and learning new) crafts. I’ve been sticking with things I know how to do—if not great, at least well (namely photography, knitting, and some doodling and journaling). Since self-isolation is going to be stretching longer than anticipated—I’m going to slowly start stepping out of it and try my hand at a different craft.

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

            More creativity time—specifically I’m going to try my hand at cross-stitching. I bought a small starter kit a couple of months ago—and haven’t touch it—due in large part to it being something new that I’ve never done and therefore I have nothing to compare it to (in terms of what I think of the finished project). But I’m going to probably try sketching out some basic geometric shapes and then try my hand at coloring them in (this should be interesting, since I have a hard enough time drawing a straight line with a ruler, can’t wait to see how the lines look when I’m just stitching them by hand).

            More time spent on self-reflection. This is going to be a combination of meditation, and journaling. The journaling will be done as part of both personal/professional development (answering any questions that pop up), and self-reflection—I’m going to start drawing a single tarot/oracle card (sometimes in the morning, sometimes the night before), and writing whatever comes to mind when I look at it, then read the message in the tarot/oracle book, and see if my thoughts have differed from the intended message.

            Time also spent on personal/professional development—namely working through various e-course packages that I’ve bought over the years. I know that I want a career that allows me to use my strengths (learner, intellection, input, achiever, and deliberative/ideation/arranger), while also allowing me to improve on some of the ‘weaker’ areas as well. The best way to start doing this—work through various courses bought, network, and try to set up and hold informational interviews as well.

But above all remember the following—“Progress over Perfection,”, “You can’t start the next chapter of your life, if you keep re-reading the last one”, and “Not caring what other people think is the best choice you will ever make”.

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Making progress on professional development, & fitness goals.

So August is over, that means there is now less than three weeks before my birthday, barely three weeks before fall, a little over 2 months until the election, and only four months left in 2020. I’ve been joking that I’m not acknowledging this year—so in theory I won’t be turning 40, but having my 2nd 39th birthday.

I feel like I’ve been slightly more productive during the second half of the year so far—mainly in terms of pushing play and getting in a daily workout. Nutrition hasn’t been on point (and yes I know, that in terms of weight loss—one should focus heavily on nutrition instead of exercise), but I’m doing a little better every week (usually). I’ve realized what one of the major things I need to work on—finding balance between being well informed on what is going on in the world, and constantly scanning social media and the news. One thing I’m going to be looking into this coming month are web apps that block access to certain sites for a specific amount of time (say 8am to noon)—that way I can hopefully focus on other personal and professional development tasks and not just scroll through the internet.

The US still hasn’t gotten the virus under control—when I published ‘July in Review’ I noted that the US had over 4.7 million cases and now the US is a little over 6.2 million cases (that is an increase in over 1.5 million cases in a month). I’m hoping that the election goes the way I want it to go, and therefore travel may be possible by the end of 2021 (I’m currently debating on whether I want to spend a week in the UK or traveling through Northern Europe—Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark).

So as we head into the last few months of 2020, I should look back on the goals that I set for August and see how I did with each of them.

The goals for August included:

At least 155,000 steps (again breaking it down to roughly 5K/Day)

Continuing Morning Meltdown 100 (Days 55-85)

Reading (or finishing) at least 2 non-fiction books

No Spend Days/No Spend Week/ and hopefully a no-spend month

Finish the Data Science Syndicate program (or at least modules 4 & 5)

Finish at least 3 other short e-courses

And finally,

Answer the question: “Who do I want to become over the next 5 to 20 years?”

So how did I do with each one?

At least 155,000 steps (again breaking it down to roughly 5K/Day)

I managed to get in almost 186,000 steps (I ended the month at 185,860) and I was not quite 3K above the steps for July. Hopefully with cooler weather coming, I can get out and walk in the early morning, or even during the day with the pup. I haven’t done a long walk around Boomer Lake since early February (so about a month before everyone realized how serious the virus was actually going to be)—but once late fall, early winter hits I may be able to be out at the park walking (maybe with my smaller digital camera or without) and enjoying some time in nature—though I would also like to see some of the migrating birds this fall/winter.

Continuing Morning Meltdown 100 (Days 55-85)

I’ve been continuing with morning meltdown 100—only did one double day early in the month. The dogs had played a little too rough, so I kept an eye on Chaos that day—but did both workouts (melt-con and re-vibe) the next day to keep on track. I really like this program; right now my only complaint is that there aren’t worksheets for tracking the weights (so you can see if you need to or have gone heavier than previous workouts). So I’m thinking that I will probably be designing a set of tracking sheets for the next time (or possibly the third time, as there were a couple of workouts that I didn’t write down the exercises on).

Reading (or finishing) at least 2 non-fiction books

One of the books that I read this month was a short book (actually the author called it a booklet) on blogging. The title is “How to write great blog posts that engage readers” by Steve Scott.

            Now I’ve had this e-booklet for a little over two years (though I just had to add it to the long personal/professional development reading list), before I actually got around to reading it. The reason—I have a habit of buying and downloading numerous books a month, and not removing books I’ve read from the device. So books that have been bought (but not read) have a habit of being at the very bottom of the list usually (or close to it). I’m now trying to get in the habit of removing read personal/professional development books—that way the only books that I’d be scrolling through are either the numerous fiction books/series that I have and any unread personal/professional development books.

            I liked this book because it gave a suggestion that one should aim at having a minimum of 8 posts a month. Two of the posts are larger articles, and the other six are smaller articles. I’m thinking of adopting this mindset, but also varying month to month what each type (large & small) articles would be over—since I’m also keeping the blog “multi-facet”—in other words I’m sticking with probably two (maybe three) niches: lifestyle, personal/professional development, and hobbies.

I started a couple of other books, but hadn’t finished any of them by the end of the month. At times I couldn’t get in the mind frame for reading personal/professional development.

No Spend Days/No Spend Week/ and hopefully a no-spend month

I’ve managed to have several no spend days that almost stretched into a full no spend week—but I have yet to work up to an actual no-spend month (that is a HUGE goal for September, and hopefully October as well).

Finish the Data Science Syndicate program (or at least modules 4 & 5)

I managed to get through all of module 4 and about 80% of module 5. I think that there are two videos left before taking the quiz for module 5, and then I would have the sixth and final module for the Data Science Syndicate. I think that I might enjoy doing data science, though I need to download python (the data analysis program, and not a snake) and start working with it before I could say one way or the other on this particular job path.

Finish at least 3 other short e-courses

This was something that I fell behind on doing this month—I managed to get through another quarter of the data science syndicate program, but didn’t really work on any other e-courses (or not enough to have finished a course). I did write out all the courses that I have bought over the past few years so that I can keep better track of what I’ve completed and what I still need to work on. One of my issues has been trying to mentally switch gears and sit in front of the computer and listen to someone talk for awhile and then do what ever little work is assigned for that video or section. I’ve also realized that I can work on whatever course I want—it doesn’t always have to be a professional development course—if I want to spend the afternoon learning how to read tarot cards better, I can.

And finally,

Answer the question: “Who do I want to become over the next 5 to 20 years?”

The answer to this question will actually be posted as a separate blog post—currently my answer is going on two pages and I still feel like I haven’t answered the question in full detail.

Goals for September will include:

At least 150,000 steps (This breaks down to 5K/day; depending on how the number of virus cases goes, I will probably slowly start increasing the daily goal.)

Finishing up Morning Meltdown 100 (I only have 15 days left), and then starting a duel calendar of Yoga Booty Ballet and LIIFT4 (once I draft the calendar I’ll share it)

Read (or finish) at least 2 non-fiction books

No Spend Days/No Spend Weeks/leading to hopefully a no spend month

Finish the Data Science Syndicate program, install python and start learning how to use it

Finish at least 3 other e-courses

While reminding myself: “Progress over Perfection”, “You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one”, and “Not caring what other people think is the best choice you will ever make”.

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Goals for the Aquarius Full Moon–reviewed

Somehow tomorrow marks the beginning of September—that means we’re down to the last four months of 2020. If it were any other year, I’d crack some type of smartass comment—but since it’s 2020, I’m not going to. The next full moon is within a couple of days, so it is time to look back on the goals that I set for the Aquarius full moon and see how I did with each of them.

So what were my Aquarius full moon goals?

The goals included:

            Photography—while it will mainly be backyard bird watching, I can still try to improve my skills.

            Journaling—this is actually for multiple fronts: getting back into the habit of writing daily (I mean if I’m going to try to be a freelance writer, I should be trying to write daily), work through various personal/professional development questions, and as a way of working on keeping positive mental health going.

            Other personal/professional development: crafts (try my hand at cross-stitching, maybe get a new sewing machine and fabric, create some jewelry), reading, and working through e-courses.

So how did I do with each of them?

            In terms of photography—I managed to take pictures almost every day. I’m getting better at using manual focusing—though I haven’t totally started playing with the other features (which is slightly sad, since I’ve had this particular camera a little over 2 years). One thing I’m going to try to start doing is actually using the tripod and zoom lens and maybe try to get a picture or two of a full moon.

            In terms of journaling—I’ve managed to write in the journal every day, even if it was just to write down the weights for that particular workout (or even just logging the workout). I have several ideas for how I can improve on my journaling, and also expand into possible blog posts.

            In terms of working on other personal/professional development: I’m almost through one of the professional development courses I’ve bought (I have one video and the test for the 5th module and then the final module), though I still need to download python (the data analysis coding language program) and start learning actually how to use the programming language. While I had hopes that I managed to get a good deal on a sewing machine—it turned out to be a scam (I managed to get my money back though), so now I’m waiting to see if/when sewing machines become available again through Joann Fabric’s store. I have also bought a couple of books to help me further my ability with photography and jewelry making (just in case I actually want to start selling the jewelry)—so I just need to read through those books and start implementing the ideas and suggestions.

Overall I’m happy with how I did with each goal—yes, I could have written more in the journal, or worked through a couple more e-courses but I’m currently striving for progress and not perfection. Also, I’m trying to be kinder to myself and acknowledge that sometimes not doing anything is just as productive (at least mentally) as striking everything else off the to-do list.

All three of these goals are goals that I’m going to continue working on going forward into the rest of 2020 and on wards. The reasons are simple—I want to become a better photographer, writer, and continue to learn and grow. I may have stubbornly taken a hiatus from actively learning after a couple of the positions—but now that I know my strengths that I can use and also what other traits I can improve—personal and professional development are becoming fun again. In addition, currently I can make my own hours.

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