Category: Book Reviews

Bouncing Back with Mackenzie and Pacey: Review of My Rebound

So before getting to the book review, I realize that I’m running a little behind on getting my reviews written and published on the various fiction books that I’ve been reading lately. I think I’m either going to have to make a curated list and then re-read (or skim to refresh my memory), write the reviews and then slowly post them over the next few weeks-or start ‘fresh’ with the books that are coming out this month and move forward from there. Knowing how I do things–it may end up being a combination.

Now on to the book review:

My Rebound is the second book in the ‘On My Own’ series by Carrie Ann Ryan. This is a four book series that is following four roommates and their friends through the last two years of college (at least that is my take from reading the first two books). I’ve read teh first book (My One Night), and will be hopefully getting that review up on the blog as well soon.

My Rebound picks up shortly after the end of ‘My One Night’ and features Mackenzie and Pacey. What happens when you walk in on your boyfriend and catch him cheating?

Those long ago made plans start floating out the window, leaving Mackenzie wondering how is she going to ‘create’ new plans with an already overflowing semester?

Spring is here, and Mackenzie is looking for a rebound–here enters Pacey, friend and all around nice guy (with a secret or two of thier own).

What happens when they both become more emotionally involved than they originally planned?

The answers can be found within the pages of My Rebound.

I loved this book, and can’t wait for the next one, which focuses on Miles and Nessa. I like how Carrie Ann has spun such an interconnected world among her contemporary romance novels. While this is a stand-alone series, it is tied into her larger Montgomery Ink world via Dillon (from My One Night), who is the younger brother introduced in the Fractured Connection series, which branched off from the Montgomery Ink: Colorado Spring series.

Her books are great, because while it is a large world it doesn’t matter where you enter, you are introduced to a small set of characters and a large number of books and series to binge read on those days when you don’t want to deal with the real world.

I give My Rebound five out of five stars and highly recommend it to anyone who loves Carrie Ann Ryan’s books or is looking for a new romance author to try.

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Three Books that have helped me start my burnout recovery journey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seeing those quote reminded me to look at this passage from ‘How to be Everything: A Guide for those who (still) don’t know what they want to be when they grow up’ by Emilie Wapnick:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to be everything: A guide for those who (still) don’t know what they want to be when they grow up by Emilie Wapnick

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

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

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Book Review: 25 Ways to Work From Home. Now onto the brainstorming stage of adulthood

So thanks to the personal/professional development board game, I’m actually starting to make decent progress on the massive non-fiction book list that I started years ago.

The latest book I read is ’25 ways to work from home: smart business models to make money online’ by Jen Ruiz. This is a book for those who are thinking of leaving (or possibly trying to supplement) their 9-to-5 life in a office (or lab) setting.

As someone who has been thinking of a ‘non-traditional’ direction for the second half of my life, this book seemed to be a good compliment for the other one I just finished: ‘The Financial Diet‘ by Chelsea Fagan and Lauren Ver Hage. Especially the chapter(s) on the side hustle (in Financial Diet), though this book doesn’t refer to them as side hustles, but 25 different ways to work from home.

The 25 different ways the book goes into are:

  1. Teach English online
  2. Become a virtual assistant
  3. Self-publish books
  4. Freelance writing
  5. Video editing
  6. Gig economy
  7. Start a podcast
  8. Monthly subscription/membership
  9. Start a you-tube channel
  10. E-commerce
  11. Private coaching
  12. Travel planner or guide
  13. Online courses
  14. Affiliate marketing
  15. Advertising revenue
  16. Summits
  17. Sponsored content
  18. Buy & sell websites
  19. Install & customize wordpress themes
  20. Graphic design
  21. Create an app
  22. Rent your property
  23. Sell your photographs
  24. Selling clothing and accessories
  25. Offer professional services

The authors of both books state that you should figure out how to diversify your earnings (that way if something goes wrong with one ‘job/direction’ you still have money coming in from other jobs/directions. While I’m still contemplating part-time/three-fourths time of a ‘physical in-person’ job–I’d also like to still have some control and variety in my day and week.

Therefore, the ones that either jumped out at me or I’ve been thinking about trying are:

  1. Freelance writing (a high yes/with moderately high anxiety)
  2. Self-publishing books (high maybe)
  3. Start a podcast and/or a you-tube channel (high yes for both/with very high anxiety)
  4. Creating online courses (high yes/with very high anxiety)
  5. Affiliate marketing/advertising revenue/sponsored content (high yes/with moderate anxiety)
  6. Graphic design/video editing (high maybe)
  7. Selling photographs (high yes/with moderate high anxiety)
  8. Creating and selling jewelry (high yes/with moderate high anxiety)

So I’ve listed about 12 total ways I would like to work from home. Three are currently listed as ‘high maybes’ (writing books, graphic design, and video editing), while the other nine are listed as ‘high yeses’ with a decent amount of anxiety going along with each of them. But I’m also going to rank those nine, brainstorm ideas for the top two (or three), and once I have those methods working (with decent income coming in consistently), I will then slowly start adding in other methods (one or two at a time), until I have created my ‘perfect’ blend of activities.

The other thing I liked about this book is that it has links/addresses to quite a bit of supporting material for each potential job type plus little blurbs on people who are earning a decent salary each way. I highly recommend this book to those who are thinking of leaving their nine-to-five, wanting to supplement their nine-to-five, or those of us who have left the nine-to-five and are looking for guidance on starting some totally new.

5 out of 5 stars

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Review: The Financial Diet. Now on to the planning stages of being an adult

So I recently finished my third book via the ‘personal/professional development board game’.

The book was ‘The Financial Diet: A Total Beginner’s Guide to Getting Good with Money’ by Chelsea Fagan & Lauren Ver Hage.

So while this is a book about finances and money–it doesn’t go serious in-depth on topics (with the one exception of what one should have in the kitchen for cooking at home), but does give good advice.

What I really liked about the book was the advice that you can/could/should try to mold to your personal life. They don’t tell you that you have to be investing in stocks and bonds, or that you should be buying a house. They acknowledge that everyone is at a different point with different circumstances when they pick up the book–but the advice given within can be ‘molded’ to fit your circumstances if you want it to.

I highlighted several phrase throughout the book as some of my key ‘take-away messages’ and they included:

To stay financially sane–you should create a collage of strategies that work for you.

Strive to find multiple streams of fulfillment, challenges, and incomes

We’re CEOs of our own lives, every hour accounted for and compensated according to our personal standards of wealth and happiness

Judge your career and success (financial and otherwise) on you and you alone. If you aren’t happy, change something.

I would have to say that I’m still trying to figure out what my multiple/collage of strategies is going to look like. Currently there is the savings account with the ’emergency fund’ (but that is starting to dwindle–so I really need to start figuring out how to diversify my income); I have a small retirement account (but I’m not currently adding to it), and a checking account (that will dwindle as the month goes on and bills are paid).

I would also have to say that I’m working on trying to find that ‘right’ mixture of fulfillment, challenges, and income; there are ideas bouncing around in my head–I just need to get them on paper and then actually ‘start’ working on them.

I’m also trying to figure out what my personal standards of wealth and happiness are as well (I’ve spent too many years just going with the flow and ‘bouncing’ via other people’s ideas on the two topics).

I also found the authors’ four DYFDs (Don’t You F*cking Dares), nine big tips, and their ‘starter kit for happiness’ to be helpful as well in terms of acknowledging where I’m at in terms of my finances or questions that I need to contemplate to figure out various budge issues.

I can safely say that currently I’m guilty of three of the four DYFDs currently (but working on getting better at them); I’m guilty of not following five of their nine tips, and I’m slowly working through/brainstorming/planning via their ‘starter kit for happiness’.

Money is one thing that no one really wants to talk about–but it is one thing that everyone needs to make it in today’s society.

While I may not currently know what my long-term financial plan looks like, I am slowly working on determining those plans, as they are one of the cornerstones for any future plans.

I recommend this book to anyone who is either struggling with his or her finances or just wanting an easy ‘finance’ book to read.

Five out of five stars

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Book Review: Permission to Screw Up.

The second book that I finished this past week as ‘Permission to Screw Up: How I Learned to Lead by Doing (Almost) Everything Wrong’ by Kristen Hadeed.

While I really liked this book, I realized that I was reading it from the viewpoint of a ‘worker’, even though I’ve been a ‘team leader’ in a sense over the years–I never have had to do an evaluation on someone else, I’ve always been the one being evaluated.

I would like to think that I’ve managed to do some things correctly over the years: earn the trust of the student workers, mentor/train them, and allow for minor mistakes to happen so that the students could learn from them (one doesn’t want a major mistake in a lab).

I also realized what I’ve lacked from those above me, and also realized that the blame goes both ways. Since I have mild/moderate social anxiety and a need to avoid (most) confrontations (thanks to public schools and bullies), I’ve allowed myself to flounder for years (or even possibly decades) after graduation.

These two feelings have led me to try to avoid meetings and any type of confrontation–I always felt like any criticism recieved in the meeting/confrontation was negative (even when mentally I knew some/most was positive), and then I would have to deal with negative self-chatter the rest of the day.

This isn’t to say that I didn’t get feedback on the job–I did (for the most part), but at times it didn’t feel timely, and a lot of the time it didn’t feel constructive. In part, there were the jobs–when you’re in the lab at the bench, you’re expected to figure out problems on your own (and I enjoy doing that)–the feedback was usually in regards to hours worked or other related issues (nothing really to do with the science or the bench). The other positions, the feedback at times was in regards to both bench work and other issues.

I realized (well after the fact) that one of the biggest problems was the comparison trap: when you’re hired to do a job, but another person (who also has held that job) is still there–that is who you get compared to–you’re held not to your own standard of what you can accomplish but to how someone else did the job and their performance, and at times it isn’t a good feeling.

Being told that the job matters, you’re making a difference, and that works counts are all things that everyone needs/wants to hear from time to time on the job. Being in science (especially academia) those aren’t things that you hear all that often–and I realized that those are things that I need to make sure that I either tell myself (if and when I decide to start up a freelance business), or are a major part of the company culture for the company I do decide to work for–I’m not saying that those are things that have to be said constantly (I’d be a little worried if they were said constantly), but it’s nice to be acknowledged and appreciated every so often for the job that one does.

I will also have to remind myself that minor mistakes are always okay (as long as it isn’t a constant stream of little mistakes)–major ones should only happen once (if that), the lesson learned, and then the mistake is never repeated again. This is something that I will have to work on (as most of the positions I’ve held–mistakes weren’t really considered ‘okay’–they were considered more of a ‘lack of focus’ and ‘lack of attention to detail’ and were to be avoided)–avoiding both the ‘pit of perfectionism’ and the ‘pit of analysis/paralysis of not getting anything done for fear of mistakes’.

So I mentioned how the book reminded me that I have an ‘aversion’ to meetings. This ‘aversion’ isn’t going to help me in the long run, so I’m going to ‘develop’ a system to help me get over the aversion. The ‘rough idea’ currently is that I’m going to spend part of the weekend in ‘executive’ mode and sit with my to-do lists and other papers and honestly determine how I did for the week in terms of getting things done. Once I’m comfortable with ‘myself’, I plan on reaching out to friends/colleagues who might also be looking for an accountability partner and go from there. Baby steps….

I would recommend this book to basically everyone, even if you’re not a ‘leader’ in the normal sense of the word–you’re a ‘leader’ in your own life and we can all learn something from both this book and each other. My rating for the book: five out of five stars.

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A Review on ‘The Little Book of Hygge’

I just started playing my ‘never-ending personal/professional board game’, and I have ‘read’ down twenty-six times between the two boards–the reason, I have almost (or probably more than) 300 non-fiction books to read (and that isn’t counting any that I may buy as I continue with the game).

I randomized the book list after copying it down once, that way ‘older’ bought books were mixed in with ‘newer’ books. The roll of hte dice would decide which book (or books) I’d be reading.

The first book chosen was ‘The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living’ by Meik Wiking. I think I picked up the book after reading an article on how the Nordic countries were topping the list of ‘happiest countries’ (and I wanted to know why), or I was just browsing through e-books and I came across it and the title caught my attention. I’ve had this book on the digital to-be-read pile for quite awhile, it was one of the many books I bought back towards the end of 2017. That was when I decided I was going to develop a large ‘personal/professional development’ reading list. Needless to say, that list has ballooned from approximately forty to fifty books in 2018 to almost (if not slightly over) 300 books today (approximately 3 1/2 years later).

The little book of hygge basically talks of how to make the most of each day–looking for the little things that create happiness. I liked how the author (and country) goes for the more rustic, handmade, mellow, less is more over the glitz, glamor and more that seems to take over here in the US.

The author takes you through the different components of the ‘Hygge Manifesto’ which includes the atmosphere, being present, pleasure, equality, gratitude, harmony, comfort, truce, togetherness, and tribe. All are things that as a global society we should be striving for. I liked how the ‘truce’ example was that one wouldn’t be talking about politics, and I feel like there are actually two sides to that coin–the ‘political’ side (how to balance budgets, raise taxes, and so forth), and the ‘human-rights’ (women’s rights, minorities, and so forth) that somehow gets ‘colored’ political–but that could be a topic for another post. I agree that one can disagree on basic politics, but when it comes to human rights–not so much.

One main central focus of ‘hygge’ is lighting. The Danish seem to be big on candles and diffused lighting and that is something that I can get behind. The only time(s) I may turn on my large overhead light is to workout, clean, or if it’s really dark and freary outside and I need the ‘extra’ light; otherwise I keep my room lit with only a lamp (the shade diffuses the fluorescence enough that the room isn’t overly bright).

Looking at the ‘manifesto’, I realized that the one element that I need to ‘work’ on improving is actually getting together with people. I’m a ‘pro’ at hygging by myself or with family. But at the same time–we’re in a pandemic (so not really the best time to be trying to host a party), plus I’m still living at home.

Going forward I’m going to try to aim for a mixture of hygge and minimalism in decor and ambiance. I’m also going to try to turn the ‘hygge manifesto’ into a cross-stitch pattern/project as well.

For anyone who needs a little help in the ‘hygge’ department–I highly recommend this book. I give it five out of five start rating.

*Note: This is the first book review of many to come as I continue to play the ‘personal/professional board game’, and is also the first of many blog posts related to the board game as well. I’m hoping that I can possibly get a book review (or two) up every couple of weeks (depending on the book), in addition to other posts, articles, and/or pages associated with various topics.

What’s your favorite way to bring hygge into the house?

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State of Affairs: 1st in the First Family Series

**This series spins-off from the Fatal series by Marie Force. So if you’re a fan of her Fatal series and haven’t finished reading the books–come back after you’re read those, unless you don’t mind spoilers.

Picture of the paperback edition that I ordered from the author

So this is the first book in Marie Force’s new First Family series. This book (and series) starts right after the last scene in Fatal Fraud (the last book in the Fatal series). Therefore, if you haven’t read at least that book–STOP reading, unless you don’t mind spoilers.

This ‘new’ series follows Nick and Samantha as they make their transition from the second family (which was back in book eight or nine of the Fatal series) to the first family after President David Nelson was found deceased in the White House on Thanksgiving.

Without giving too many details away–it is a fast pace book, where instead of things happening over a couple of weeks, it is focused on the first week or so of their ‘new’ lives.

There are compromises from both Sam and Eli in terms of protection, and everyone trying to figure out what their new ‘normal’ is going to be. Everyone from the Fatal series was back (including those that are a pain in the backside for both Sam and Nick), and more characters are being introduced.

I loved the Fatal series (and actually started re-reading it before State of Affairs came out), and am planning on another re-read so that I can post brief reviews here on the blog, and am absolutely in love with the First Family series. It is going to be wait for the second book (it is due out in December), but Marie Force never disappoints so the wait will be worth it.

State of Affairs gets an A+, 10 out 10 stars review and I highly recommend the book to anyone who has read Marie Force (but may not have read the Fatal series), and even to those who haven’t but enjoy a little mystery/suspense to their stories.

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Hopped the ferry to Gansett Island: The latest edition was a hot read for a cold day

Blackout After Dark (image (c) amazon.com)

So the latest book in the Gansett Island series by Marie Force came out yesterday (February 9, 2021).

If you follow Marie on social media, you will know that she referred to this book as the ‘Frankenstein book’ because it has 45 chapters.

I decided yesterday, that I was going to binge and try to finish the book–and I did finish it, at roughly 10pm last night.

Blackout after Dark takes place roughly towards the end of summer–think late July/early August. The whole premise of the book is that there is a massive island wide power failure.

Since it’s a really hot summer–it wasn’t surprising for the power to go out (and if you’ve either lived or visited the east coast–not that many places have central air), since everyone was running their air conditioning.

What I really loved about this book was that it included all the couples from the previous 22 books, and also introduced new people who will hopefully be getting their own stories in the future.

So without too many spoilers, ‘Blackout after Dark’, allowed us to check-in with all the members of the McCarthy family (and I did guess right with one of the story lines–but you have to figure out which one), and all their friends.

While one would think that having 22+ couples weaving in and out of the chapters would be hard to follow, the stories actually flow quite nicely together. A little background is woven in for each couple, then Marie seamlessly weaves in the next couple as we move about the island (and even the US). There were several surprises for various people on the island, and now I’m impatiently waiting for the next several books.

If you haven’t read the series, you can start with any book–there are no cliffhangers, but to get the most out of the series–I suggest you start at the beginning with ‘Maid for Love’ featuring Mac McCarthy and Maddie Chester.

Since we’re still in the middle of the cold front being pushed down from the Arctic, I actually plan on binge reading the entire series again this weekend. Because if it’s cold outside I might as well mentally transport myself to an island during summer time.

I give this book (and the entire series) 5 stars. Kudos again to a great book and continuation of a great series.

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Update on goals set during the Pisces Full Moon

So the moon will be entering its first of two full moon stage either Thursday (marking the full moon at the very beginning of the month) or Friday night. This full moon is the closest one to the fall equinox (which was last Tuesday). The full moon later in the month will be the “blue” full moon. This also means that we’re entering the last quarter of 2020………

So before looking towards the next full moon, I should look back at the goals that I set for the Pisces full moon and see how I did with each of them.

The goals for the Pisces full moon included:

            More creativity time (namely trying to teach myself cross-stitching)

            More time on self-reflection (meditation and journaling)

            More time on personal/professional development

So how did I do with each goal?

            In terms of creativity time—this is something that I still need to work on. I make the time (usually) for practicing my photography skills (currently mainly in the backyard), but I haven’t actually sat down and tried to learn a new craft. I think in part it’s due a little to imposter syndrome—never done it before and therefore I’m immediately judging myself poorly, instead of treating myself with compassion and understanding. This is something I notice myself doing quite a bit of lately, and it is something that I’m working on fixing—being more compassionate and caring with myself.

            In terms of the self-reflection—I would say it was a minor improvement in terms of journaling. For the most part I managed to do a oracle card reading (there were a couple of nights that I didn’t manage), and I feel comfortable in the path that I’m on. I am doing a balancing act—taking it easy, but at the same time moving forward. The biggest insight is that I realized that once I start to feel ‘bored’ on a job, I’d let my thoughts wander during the day—instead of being laser focused on the job. Therefore moving forward I need to make sure that the position is one that will constantly be challenging—also I need to remember that if I feel like I can do more, ask for more responsibility on the job.

            In terms of personal and professional development—I managed to finish the Data Science Syndicate program (and will be writing up my thoughts on both the program and possibly going that route), and downloaded the python program to my computer. I now need to start working through one of the other e-courses that I bought that focuses on python.

            I had just published a post ‘self-reflection, ‘jack-of-all-trades’ vs ‘specialist’, & now more planning’ earlier this week. Within the post I made note on what areas I was going to focus on, where I would consider myself either a jack-of-all-trades or specialist. I also manage to finish at least one book: ‘Careergasm: Find your way to feel good work; bullshit free advice to help you get after it’ by Sara Vermunt. One thing that I hadn’t been thinking on was what if I need to redo my goal list (again)?? I love this passage:

 

           “Sometimes the best thing to do is let go of some old goals that simply aren’t serving you anymore. Lighten your load. Let ‘em go. Make room. It’s time your goals start working for you again, and not the other way around”.

I think that is one of the major things I’ve been doing—recycling/renaming old goals and trying to make them look fresh. I in theory just made a new 150+ challenge list to complete in 2002 days (I decided to ‘modify’ the original 101 goals in 1001 days challenge). Now I’m thinking that I may be having to back to that list and modify it again—though the goals are all ‘me’—I’m just not certain that they’re for the ‘future’ me or the ‘past’ me—and I want to be working towards the future me, not being held back by the ‘past’ me.

So over all, I think I did well with the goals. Yes, I could have spent more time doing creative work—I will probably start doing more, once I remind myself that I don’t have to share the finished product with anyone if I don’t want to (and I think that has been one thing that has been holding me back—fear of what others will think). Self-care is always something that I can strive to be better at (this comes from the fact that I spent way too many years in academia pouring my heart and soul into something that really didn’t give anything back), and personal/professional development should be a never end road—and it is, I’m just slowly finding my way back to it, and will be traveling the road at my speed.

As I keep moving forward, I will also be remembering 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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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.

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