Category: Books

November in Review: planning and looking ahead to 2023 & beyond

So, we’re in December…that means there are only 31 days, roughly four and half weeks, or 744 hours left in 2022. That means, I now really need to get serious about planning out things for 2023…because it will be here before we know it (or are possibly willing to accept it).

I’m still feeling massively tired and burnt out on life, and while I would love for the year (and decade) to be over—I’m also not ready for the good-byes that will go along with them.

I’d hoped that November would be a little mellower than the past three months—and it was, and at the same time it wasn’t; if possible it was an even tie for September in terms of being a mess.

Still dealing with the ongoing family medical issue—and the outcome is still up in the air. Then there is the fun of elderly animals…probably having to put one cat and dog down within the next few months (cat due to health issues, that I currently can’t afford to treat; and the dog due to old age and pain).

The only cool thing I can say about the news is Mauna Loa erupting this week. It’s been well over a decade since I’ve been to the big island of Hawai’i—and when I went, I only visited Kilauea (since it was within the main part of the Volcano National Park).

While I wouldn’t want to be living on a island with an active volcano—I think it’d be cool to see it erupt (from a safe distance)—cause while I did see Kilauea erupt—it wasn’t as cool looking as pictures have been lately for Mauna Loa or even when Kilauea erupted a few years ago.

Still staying off the news for the most part—mainly because of my current mental health state. Though if everyone would just grab a snickers bar and take like a three-month timeout, I think that would help things settle down.

By this time next year, I won’t be surprised if I’m diagnosed with moderate cases of depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

Elections were earlier this month, and hopefully Democrats can hold their slim majority in the senate, and knock heads together in the house to get things done. Sorry if that seems ‘violent’—I’m tired of seeing mass shootings in the news, and basic human rights being attacked basically every damn day.

In terms of the total number of cases of the virus within the US, when I published ‘October in Review’ on November 1st, I noted that we had reached a little over 99.3 million cases and now as of December 1st —we have reached just a little over 100.6 million cases (an increase of a little over 1.3 million cases). So, numbers are staying ‘steady’—though I’d like to see the number actually start going down again. But there are the various omicron subs-strains running amok.

So—please, wear a mask, wash your hands, practice social distancing, and get boosted when needed.

I finally got around to getting my booster shot this past month—and other than a sore arm (for about four days), I didn’t have any other side effect of getting the booster. Flu shot is on semi-hold, only because it looks like I potentially have to schedule a doctor’s appointment to get it—and I don’t want to do that right now.

Still trying to keep the mental health on an even keel—therefore, I’m still trying to lean more into my strengths and values: knowledge, creativity, curiosity, spirituality, evolution/transformation (values), learner, intellection, input, achiever, and deliberative (strengths).

So before setting goals for December, its time to look back at the goals I set for November and see how I did with each of them. The goals for November included:

  1. 120-150K steps
  2. At least one partial walk at Boomer Lake, and at least five-to-ten minutes of intentional movement each day
  3. Finishing at least one of the many non-fiction books that I’ve started
  4. Read at least two-to-four fiction books
  5. Commit to the no spend days/no spend week/limited spending challenge (aiming for at least 22 days)
  6. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily oracle card drawings, daily gratitude journal entries
  7. Craft time
  8. Work through at least part of one personal/professional development e-course
  9. Getting the second blog up and running
  10. Writing, writing, and writing

So how did I do with each of them?

120-150K steps:

I fell short of my minimum step goal of 120,000 steps. I managed to get 116,503 steps this past month. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts throughout the years—I’m an extremely fair weather person, so in order to be outside doing some type of workout I need it to be ‘just right’. We’re heading into winter, though with climate change, the temperatures have been doing a yoyo the past few weeks.

At least one partial walk at Boomer Lake, and at least five-to-ten minutes of intentional movement each day:

There was no walk at Boomer Lake during November. The reason—having to play ‘phone tag’ with medical staff in regards to the on-going family medical issue. I probably could have done a brief walk up there—but I did other chores instead.

I know I’ve probably moved around at least five minutes a day—but I have yet to write down what the intentional movements have been. (Need to get better at this)

Finish at least one non-fiction book:

I finally managed to finish reading INNERCISE: The New Science to Unlock Your Brain’s Hidden Power by John Assaraf. I just need to go back and do some of the exercises within the book (especially those that revolve around setting goals, and putting together routines).

Read at least two-to-four fiction books:

There were six new fiction books read during November, and six re-reads:

The new books:

  1. Someone to Hold (Wild Widows #2) by Marie Force
  2. Always Mine (Honey Mountain #1) by Laura Pavlov
  3. Ever Mine (Honey Mountain #2) by Laura Pavlov
  4. Make You Mine (Honey Mountain #3) by Laura Pavlov
  5. Simply Mine (Honey Mountain #4) by Laura Pavlov
  6. The Path to You (Wilder Brothers #3) by Carrie Ann Ryan

The re-reads included:

  1. Alpha Turned by K.B. Alan
  2. Protect & Defend by Francesca Hawley
  3. Hot & Badgered (Honey Badger Chronicles #1) by Shelly Laurenston
  4. In a Badgered Way (Honey Badger Chronicles #2) by Shelly Laurenston
  5. Badger to the Bone (Honey Badger Chronicles #3) by Shelly Laurenston
  6. Breaking Badger (Honey Badger Chronicles #4) by Shelly Laurenston

No spend challenges:

Well, I did okay with the no spend challenge—managed 17 days (so a little over half the month)…spending money unfortunately is my coping mechanism for stressful situations (and the past several months has been a roller coaster of stress)…but I’m going to work on improving this both in December and then in 2023.

Meditation/sitting quietly, oracle cards, gratitude (aka mental/spiritual health):

Time outdoors is again becoming limited to basically evenings (and when I need to fill bird feeders) due to it being winter.

Meditation and sitting quietly at night (or actually anytime during the day) is something I’ve been fairly good at doing.

I’ve also been on top of doing daily oracle card drawings (I think there may have been one day I didn’t—but I’d done a double the day before), and doing daily gratitude journal entries.

Craft time:

I finished the one abstract science cross-stitch project, and had decided to use buttons to tie off the fabric in the back.

Latest abstract cross-stitch project

I’m currently working on a second abstract cross-stitch project and should be done with that one hopefully before the end of the year.

Working through part of a personal/professional e-course:

I’ve started watching the e-course: Master Business Writing & Editing on Udemy. I’ve watched the first three videos (so about 15 minutes of the three hour course). It looks to be a good course—so, aiming to finish this plus the 15 errors in scientific writing & how to fix them (an two hour course) during December.

Getting the second blog/website up and running:

One of the bigger goals for December

Writing, writing, and writing:

While I’ve gotten quite a bit of writing done during November (kept up with the three ‘series’ that I do on LinkedIn each week; plus the various posts on the creative blog), there is room for improvement.

I know that I need to get the second blog up and running—plus I need to decide on the various social media platforms for each blog, and get a tentative content calendar planned and actually stick with it…goal for December and 2023.

So, other than not getting any work done on the new blog/website—I managed a little on all other goals (while totally meeting at least the reading goals). As I’d mentioned in my #thoughtfulthursday post on LinkedIn today—I’ve been allowing myself to fall into the pits of ‘fear of failure’ and ‘fear of opinions of others’ this year—which has sidetracked, and sidelined my progress on numerous fronts.

Taking today out of the equation—there are thirty days left in the month. I know that I probably won’t be super productive this month (holidays and the on-going family medical drama), but I need to start setting things up so that I can hit the ground running in the New Year.

That means measuring things in the bedroom and rearranging furniture—to hopefully create an ‘office’ space that I actually feel comfortable working in, in addition to creating a portable working space in the living/dining room area (elderly dog likes to be in the same room—and has trouble navigating areas that lack area rugs).

It means getting in the different bullet journals and getting the tracking sheets set up for at least the first several months (besides the ones I did for 2022, introduce some new ones for 2023).

It will mean actually taking the time each day (morning and night) to plan and then reflect on how I did each day. It will also mean creating content calendars and trying to stick with them.

I’ll be spending some time during the next month or so deciding on what other social media channels I want to be active on for each blog…some might overlap (Instagram, Medium, and possibly having a Facebook page for each of them), but others will be specific for one or the other.

Therefore, I’ll still be working on improving my time and project management skills as well throughout the month of December.

The goals then for December will include:

  1. 120-155K steps
  2. Partial walk at Boomer Lake, and intentional movements daily
  3. Finish at least one non-fiction book
  4. Commit to the no-spend challenges
  5. Read at least two-to-four fiction books
  6. Mental/spiritual health (meditation, daily oracle card drawings, daily gratitude journal entries)
  7. Craft time
  8. Get the second blog up and running
  9. Work through at least one module of a personal/professional development course
  10. Writing, writing, and writing
  11. Set up the ‘master’ goal list for 2023; and start the ‘master’ blueprint plan for 2023-2028

The December goals are basically the same as what I’ve set for September, October, and November—with the addition of setting up the ‘master’ goals or plan for 2023 to 2028. What I need to do in terms of that ‘goal’ is start with the five year goals, and work my way backwards. That way hopefully each year I’ll be working towards those ‘larger’ and loftier goals.

As I mentioned the only goal that I didn’t really touch was getting the second blog/website up and running. I have an idea of what I want to write for my about me page (helps that I got my functional resume finished), and hopefully will have at least one blog post in addition to various pages ‘live’ by New Years Eve.

All I can try to do is devise a schedule/plan that will hopefully be able to bear the brunt of whatever happens during 2023…that will be a large focus this coming month.

Becoming more consistent will really let me lean into my strengths and values: learning/knowledge, creativity, curiosity, spirituality, evolution/growth, and intellection.

In addition—they all give me great practice at time and project management as I’m aiming for at least 85% overall completion (I’m fully acknowledging that I may not hit the step goal, and that I may also not have that much time outside—but I can work towards all the other ones).

Time/project management goes hand in hand with consistency and productivity. I’m going to be making more use of airtable (for content/project management—it’s a calendar and spreadsheet in one space), an old fashion timer, and pen/paper to manage my time and projects.

Curious to know what is your favorite time, project, or productivity tracker/manager?

Namaste….

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To summarize the Aries Full Moon Goals: Progress not Perfection

So the moon will be entering its next full moon cycle for the year tomorrow night—which means that I should look back at the goals that I had set for the Aries full moon.

So what were my goals for the Aries full moon?

Well, they included:

  1. Making a list of things I would enjoy doing in terms of intentional movement–and then trying to devise a schedule.
  2. Have at least two mini-book reviews written and published on various sites
  3. Work through at least part of a personal/professional development course
  4. Continue reading (and possibly finishing) at least one non-fiction book that I’ve started

So how did I do with each of them?

List of things I enjoy doing in terms of intentional movement:

Those things include:

  1. Walking (nature walks, taking Chaos for a walk, walks with friends, and ‘window’ shopping)
  2. Weight lifting (as long as I stay away from lunges and push-ups)
  3. Cardio (can be a DVD workout, impromptu solo dance parties, riding my bike, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, and ebing outside)
  4. Yoga, Pilates, and stretching

Have I designed a schedule yet? Nope—this is in large part due to both the ongoing family medical issue and then dealing with the pets (most want to be in the same room all the time—and trying to lift weights when you have cats and dogs wanting in your personal space—not fun or easy).

Two mini-book reviews written and published on various sites:

The two books that I’ve gotten around to writing mini-book reviews over were:

  1. Bittersweet Promises (Montgomery Ink Legacy #1) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  2. Always the One for Me (Wilder Brothers #2) by Carrie Ann Ryan

I’m hoping to finish reading Hunted in Darkness and getting that book review posted by the end of the weekend.

Watch/work through at least one module of a personal/professional development e-course:

I managed to watch a couple of short courses on Skillshare and they were:

  1. 3X your productivity with this weekly planning guide
  2. Content Calendar made easy: Save time and develop a personal brand
  3. Blogging rituals and routines: 10 secrets for increased blogging productivity.

I briefly reviewed each of the courses in my ‘October in Review‘ post.

Finish at least one non-fiction book:

Well, I’ve started a couple more non-fiction books—but haven’t finished any of them yet. As I mentioned in my ‘October in Review’ post—I go in cycles when it comes to reading non-fiction.

The best way to illustrate what I mean—oscillation waves, these waves can vary in both height and width:

That is how I view my reading cycles (regardless if it’s non-fiction or fiction).

Currently my non-fiction trend is more of the top—it’s taking more time to finish a book, and then I start numerous books, and it’s a ‘uphill’ battle to finish one (or more).

Whereas my fiction reading trend (and non-fiction trends in certain months)—resembles the bottom oscillation wave, I can read several books within a short period and have no problems moving on to another book (or going back and re-reading books).

So—I know that I need to try to decrease the ‘height’ of the non-fiction oscillation wave to have it match the height of the non-fiction oscillation wave over the next few weeks/months.

Well—I managed to accomplish about seventy percent of my goals for the Aries full moon. The only one that I didn’t get ‘accomplished’ was the non-fiction reading—which based on how October went, I wasn’t shocked to see that I didn’t accomplish it.

Seventy percent works well with the motto that I’m using for the final quarter of 2022—‘Progress over Perfection’.

Sometimes it is difficult to catch all the little negative stories/thoughts that run through our heads—so when I don’t catch them right away, it means I’ve accidentally let the inner critic/imposter syndrome out to play.

But, I’m getting better at catching them…I think they only ‘played’ for a few days during the Aries full moon.

So now, I’m going to celebrate this win—and then look ahead to the Taurus full moon.

How did you do with your personal/professional goals last month?

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Time & project management improving–time to focus on the second blog

So, we’re in November…that means there are only two months, 61 days, roughly nine weeks, or 1,464 hours left in 2022. It’s the final sixth of 2022, and I’m trying to figure out what and how much stuff I can get accomplished before both the end of November and the end of 2022.

As I mentioned last month—I’m tired, burnt out (more on life overall than career), and really ready for this year, and the decade to basically be over.

October was even a bigger mess than September—which is saying something. So how was it a bigger mess than September?

Well—the ongoing family medical issue that I mentioned having started in my August in Review (and touched upon in my September in Review)—it’s still ongoing, and there was a point where it wasn’t looking very good. Currently we’re back to the fifty-fifty chance of it going either way.

I’m also trying to stay off the news (I know that this is showing my privilege—but with my current mental health state—I need to stay off of it). But I will just say—Russia should be kicked off the UN Security Council and kicked out of the UN in general.

By the time the family medical issue is resolved, I won’t be surprised if in addition to the moderate cases of depression and anxiety, I don’t also have a moderate case of PTSD as well.

Elections are coming up next week for the US—and this is where I’m going to share my two-cents.

Basic human rights are on the ballot this year. Women’s rights (voting and health care), sensible gun laws, the environment, education—all of it are on the line. For whatever reason there is a major dichotomy between the two major political parties within the US—and I don’t mind debating how each view finances, the budget, and those topics—but I won’t debate my stance on women’s rights, education, gun control, the environment, or issues I consider to be general ‘moral’/’common sense’ issues.

Therefore, if we elect more common sense and/or liberal individuals to Congress—we can end the filibuster, expand the Supreme Court, enact term limits for both the Supreme Court and Congress, and finally codify women’s health care and gun control into law.

And I’ll end my political/social/economical ‘rant’ here, before it takes over the post.

In terms of the total number of cases of the virus within the US, when I published ‘September in Review’ on October 1st, I noted that we had reached a little over 98.2 million cases and now as of November 1st —we have reached just a little over 99.3 million cases (an increase of a little over 1.1 million cases). So, numbers are staying ‘steady’—though I’d like to see the number actually start going down again. But there are the various omicron subs-strains running amok.

So—please, wear a mask, wash your hands, practice social distancing, and get boosted when needed.

I thought I’d manage to get my booster shot in October—but with the way the beginning of the month went…this task fell by the wayside. Hopefully I can get around to scheduling it for sometime in November (and possibly the flu shot—if its free as well).

While trying to keep the mental health on an even keel—I’m still trying to lean more into my strengths and values: knowledge, creativity, curiosity, spirituality, evolution/transformation (values), learner, intellection, input, achiever, and deliberative (strengths). Though sometimes it doesn’t help having the background/understanding of medical issues…ignorance is bliss at times.

So before setting goals for November, its time to look back at the goals I set for October and see how I did with each of them. The goals for October included:

  1. 125-155K steps
  2. At least one partial walk at Boomer Lake, and at least five to ten minutes of intentional movement a day
  3. Finish at least one non-fiction book
  4. Read at least two-to-four fiction books
  5. Commit to the no spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending challenge
  6. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, and daily oracle drawings
  7. Craft time
  8. Getting the second blog/website up and running
  9. Working through at least one module of a personal/professional development course
  10. Writing, writing, and writing

So how did I do with each goal?

125-155K steps:

I managed to get 134,240 steps in during the month of October—basically right in the middle between hitting a little over 4K steps a day and the ‘goal’ of 5K steps a day. I managed two walks at Boomer—a partial and a full, plus took Chaos through the neighborhood once. Hopefully I will be able to get Chaos out on more walks in November, plus have an late morning/early afternoon walk at Boomer Lake at least once or twice in November.

At least one partial walk at Boomer Lake, and at least five to ten minutes of intentional movement a day:

I managed to get in one partial walk and one full walk at Boomer Lake, plus a walk through the neighborhood with Chaos. I probably managed about five minutes or so each day of ‘intentional’ movement (which for me means helping our elderly, arthritic dog in and out of the house).

Finish at least one non-fiction book:

I’m still reading Trilobite: Eyewitness to evolution; and I’m about thirty percent of the way through the book. I’m almost finished with INNERCISE; and I’m about eighty percent of the way done with that book–so I should possibly finish it sometime in November.

I’ve realized that I have cycles when it comes to reading non-fiction books—I can read several in a month (or over a period of say two months), then I go for a month (or longer) where I only end up reading a little bit of different non-fiction books (as none really grab my full attention).

Read at least two-to-four fiction books:

I’m pretty certain that I read more than four books during October (but didn’t track how many were re-reads). But teh four fiction books that I know I read during October were:

  1. Give Me Love (Rose Canyon #2) by Corinne Michaels
  2. Bittersweet Promises (Montgomery Legacy #1) by Carrie Ann Ryan (book review was posted last week)
  3. Fractured Sky (Tattered & Torn #5) by Catherine Cowles
  4. My Favorite Mistake (Paradise Bay Billionaire Brothers #4) by Claudia Buroga

In addition, I also finally got around to writing and posting the book review for Always the One for Me (Wilder Brothers #2) by Carrie Ann Ryan.

Commit to the no spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending challenge

My goal for October was a minimum of 22 days but aiming for 29.

Well, I managed seventeen days (just a little over half the month) without buying any extra e-books, or other stuff. But since how bad the beginning of the month was (in terms of the family medical issue)–managing seventeen days isn’t too shabby.

Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, and daily oracle card drawings:

There was time outdoors—possibly not as much as I would have liked—but we’re heading into the cooler months, and unless the sun is directly overhead, it can get chilly sitting outside (even in a sweatshirt).

I’ve been making use of the soothing pod mediation app at night—and managing to sit and focus on the mediation for at least five minutes (some of the meditations are upwards of ten to fifteen minutes).

I’ve been on track doing my daily gratitude journal entries, and doing daily oracle card drawings. For October I was using the Oracle of the Shapeshifters deck:

Thursdays–I share the oracle spread on LinkedIn as part of my Thoughtful Thursday series

Craft time:

In addition to creating graphics and other multimedia items on Canva—I’ve also been spending quite a bit of time working on a new cross-stitch project (that I’ll hopefully have completed sometime during the month of November).

My current cross-stitch project: An abstract ‘microbiology’ petri dish showing different bacterial, fungal, and viral growth.

Getting the second blog up and running:

Still working on this….

Working through at least one module of a personal/professional development course:

I watched three short courses on Skillshare during October, and they were:

3x your productivity with this weekly planning guide

I liked the course–though I didn’t print off the planning guide. Basically you’re given ten tips on how to improve your week (and those tips could also be applied to one’s monthly or even yearly calendars).

The tips that the instructor gave were:

  1. Visualize your goals
  2. Schedule self-care
  3. Celebrate and appreciate small and big wins
  4. Just say No (to things you don’t want to be doing)
  5. Major lessons and inspirations (from the previous week/month)
  6. Failure is feedback
  7. Who can I help? Who would I benefit from?
  8. Feed your soul
  9. Focus (top three priorities for the week)
  10. Daily goals and review (break the three top priorities down into actionable steps for each day)

Needless to say—I’m still working on incorporating some of these tips into my schedule/life.

Content Calendar Made Easy: Save Time and Develop a Personal Brand

This was a decent course—it talked about taking your top traits (but traits in terms of what works best for content development) and mixing them with different types of content prompts (such as FAQs, behind the scene, future plans, and so forth).

I know my strengths/values—but am still working on how to meld those into my brand, but also realize I should be thinking of traits as well (would be having to brainstorm with others on this one).

Blogging Rituals and Routines: 10 secrets for increasing blogging productivity

This was a good course, and similar to the other productivity course gave ten different tips on how to improve one’s productivity.

The ten tips this instructor gave were:

  1. Clean up your office/desk space
  2. Organize drawers and files
  3. Clean up your computer files
  4. Remove things that don’t belong in the office (ties in with #1)
  5. Write at the same time everyday
  6. Have a daily, weekly, or monthly word count goal
  7. Have a daily time goal for writing (say fifteen minutes each day)
  8. Go on a ‘blogging retreat’
  9. Go on a weekly solo artist date
  10. Put on your ‘writing’ clothes each day

In addition, there were the suggestions of going for a morning walk, and changing your scenery (going somewhere other than your home ‘office’) to help improve your productivity.

There are several things that I need to do to help improve my productivity—and the big one is to create a couple of functional (but fun) work spaces in the house. One in my bedroom (which will be the biggest challenge), and then another in either the living room or dining room (since I split the time I spend working in different areas of the house).

Writing, writing, and writing:

I managed to get quite a bit of writing done overall during the month of October. I think I managed to do all three of my weekly post series on LinkedIn (Science Tuesday, Thoughtful Thursday, and the Oncology Friday), plus several posts for the creative/reflective blog.

I still need to work on drafting more blog posts (especially for the medical/science/health blog) in addition to starting to build out a portfolio of different communication style projects (mini-reviews; clinical trial summaries, slide decks, posters, and infographics).

What other lessons did I learn in October?

Trust your gut. I almost landed a freelance client for a writing project—but the payment method that they wanted to use was extremely phishy—so I politely declined (after having drafted an contract), and two days later—they’d blocked me on LinkedIn and the conversation thread disappeared as well (I wonder if I try to send another email if it would go through???).

Slowly dip your toe outside your comfort zone—but be completely honest and transparent with the other party.

A recruiter reached out to me on LinkedIn about a potential remote writing position focusing on oncology—great, I’m dipping my toes into the field, but was honest that I didn’t have the post-doc or publication experience that their client wanted. The recruiter thanked me, and basically then terminated the conversation (in all it was less than a five minute phone call).

In addition last week, I reached out to someone who was looking for a freelance science/medical writer—and while they aren’t sure if they’re going to be taking on that particular project—they gave me the idea/suggestion of possibly doing consulting work for training/on-boarding science/medical writers.

So, while I may not have made progress with all the goals (still need to carve out time to focus on the other blog/website)—overall progress was made during the month of October. There should always be room for improvement (if nothing else—extending the ‘goal’ line [in terms of steps for fitness, or words/time for writing).

So looking further into November, what are my goals going to be? Well, they’re going to include:

  1. 120-150K steps
  2. Hopefully at least one partial walk at Boomer Lake and at least five to ten minutes of intentional movement each day
  3. Finish at least one of the many non-fiction books I’ve started
  4. Read at least two-to-four fiction books
  5. Commit to the no-spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month challenge (aiming for at leat 22 days; goal is 27)
  6. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily oracle card drawings, and daily gratitude journal entries
  7. Craft time (finish the one cross-stitch project, start a new one, and/or possibly create some jewelry)
  8. Working through at least part of one personal/professional development e-course
  9. Getting the second blog/website up and running
  10. Writing, writing, and writing

So the goals for November are basically identical to the goals for October; and technically are identical to the goals for September.

The only goal in October that I really ‘fell’ down on was getting the second blog/website up and running. It is technically ‘live’—I just need to write the copy for the various pages, get the blog up and going, and start developing the portfolio.

In terms of how I’m hoping November will go—I’m going to be pessimistically optimistic, and just try to take things a day/week at a time. This means that I might have to scrap the weekly to-do list if something goes south—or I might get more accomplished, because I’ll be hyper-focused on something other than the family medical issue.

I’m still going to be aiming to become more consistent—especially in terms of posting to the different blogs (I have a editorial/content calendar created [more or less] for LinkedIn, and semi-created for this blog—just need to work on one for the other blog).

Becoming more consistent will really let me lean into my strengths and values: learning/knowledge, creativity, curiosity, spirituality, evolution/growth, and intellection.

In addition—they all give me great practice at time and project management as I’m aiming for at least 85% overall completion (I’m fully acknowledging that I may not hit the step goal, and that I may also not have that much time outside—but I can work towards all the other ones).

Time/project management goes hand in hand with consistency and productivity. I’m going to be making more use of airtable (for content/project management—it’s a calendar and spreadsheet in one space), an old fashion timer, and pen/paper to manage my time and projects.

Curious to know what is your favorite time, project, or productivity tracker/manager?

Namaste….

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Finding their way back to each other: Review of Always the One for Me–Evan & Kendall’s story.

Welcome back to Texas and the Wilder brothers…

‘Always the One for Me’ takes place shortly after ‘One Way Back to Me’ and features Evan and Kendall.

Evan and Kendall have a history and past—they met on a plane to Vegas, had a whirlwind romance and got married.

Then things fell apart…or more specifically—Evan had a hair-brain idea on how to keep Kendall safe…

Now Evan is out of the military and trying to run a resort/winery combo with his brothers in the middle of Texas.

One position that needs to get filled—head chef

The top candidate happens to be Kendall, Evan’s ex-wife.

Promising to be civil to each other, she’s hired as the head chef for the Wilder Resort and Winery.

Well, they still have chemistry through the roof…

Can they have the discussion—that they should have had years ago, and find their way back to each other?

What types of trouble will the Dodge family try this time?

The answers to these, and a wonderfully written enemies-to-lovers story can be found within the pages of ‘Always the One for Me’.

I absolutely love this series and am waiting for the other brothers to get their happily-ever-afters before I try to pick a favorite.

I’m also hoping for more guest appearances by their in-laws up in Colorado as well.

While this review is late (Always the One for Me has been available on-line for a few months now)—I give it a solid five out of five stars and highly recommend it to anyone who love the Montgomery Ink world, or who wants to give Carrie Ann Ryan’s books a try.

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What ties the Montgomery generations together? Cheese, ink, & family

Welcome back to Colorado, and the next generation of Montgomerys.

Bittersweet Promises is the ‘kick-off’ book for Montgomery Ink Legacy series—which will be following all the ‘kids’ of the original Montgomerys as they navigate adulthood—honoring their parents’ legacy—but at the same time carving their own paths.

Bittersweet Promises is Leif and Brooke’s story.

Leif is all grown up, and while he’s opened another tattoo shop—he’s still figuring out life…

Like will he find the type of connection he had years ago in Paris??

Brooke is now a single mother, who packed everything up and moved back to Denver—taking a professor position at the local university.

As they start to unpack, a neighbor offers to rope her cousin into helping them unpack—and who is the cousin—none other than Leif Montgomery…

Their paths haven’t crossed in years…since Paris…can they talk and find their way back to each other?

They both have issues to work through…

Leif still struggles with early childhood memories, and trying to figure out who is sending him ‘odd messages’.

Brooke is trying to her son settled, and get a lab up and running…and not everyone is happy to see her…

Will they overcome their obstacles and find their way back to each other?

The answers…plus guest appearances by numerous Montgomerys can be found within the pages of Bittersweet Promises—which is now available for purchase everywhere.

I absolutely loved this book and the premise for the series—the next generation of Montgomery kids all grown up and making their own paths. What I really love—is the glimpse of the original Montgomerys—because lets face it, I don’t see any of the Montgomerys just sitting back and letting their kids face the unknown and possible dangers.

Of course, there is cheese, snarkiness, and just a feeling of coming home when you start reading any book within the Montgomery Ink World.

I’m looking forward to the next several books in the series, and can’t wait to read Lake’s story.

Bittersweet Promises, Montgomery Ink Legacy #1 is a five out five star book

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Reading, writing, and planning: Aries Full Moon Goals

So the moon will be entering its next full moon cycle for the year probably tonight (at least for me). This means that we’re not quite a third of the way through October—but time does seem to be going a little quicker. I’m hoping that the last quarter of the year goes a little smoother…but I’m also not going to hold my breath on it either.

So what are some of the questions we can reflect on during this time?

Have I been hotheaded, selfish, or argumentative this month?

Have I been going too fast or been impulsive this month?

           

Have I been brash, blunt, or too competitive?

           

Have I ignored other people’s finer sensibilities?

           

Have I had enough fun?

So before answering the questions, I do need to point out that it is the beginning of the month, so I actually going to answer these questions based on 1) how I want to behave during the coming month, but also 2) how I behaved during the past couple of weeks. So as usually I’m going to number the questions 1 to 5 as I answer them.

  1. I would have to say no—I haven’t been hotheaded, selfish or argumentative this month (a couple months ago—yes I was slightly argumentative then). We’re still dealing with a family medical crisis that may or may not resolve the way we’d like it to—so I could be considered semi-selfish in just wanting the whole ordeal over one way or another.
  2. Considering the month I’m currently having and the past two months, I don’t think I’ve been overly impulsive this month nor do I think I’ve been going too fast (possibly going a tad too slow). I know what I need to do—but currently the other issue is taking majority of my concentration and I’m working on ensuring that I don’t impulsively spend too much money.
  3. No, I haven’t been brash, blunt or too competitive—this month. I was slightly brash and blunt a month or so ago—but that particular circumstance called for me being brash and blunt (and I’m still not going to apologize for it either). While I understand the need for competition (to ensure that the best person is hired)—I truthfully think that there probably is more than enough work for everyone who wants it—so I’m only going to try to be competitive with myself—and only the person I was yesterday.
  4. Well I would say this year it would depend on the situation and the people involved. While I do try to empathize with others—I’m also starting to draw my boundaries and stating what I will and won’t do in particular situations. I also realize that sometimes things can get a little tense and sometimes conversations may need to be put on hold.
  5. What is this word fun? While there are hopes that we’re moving from a ‘pandemic’ to an ‘epidemic’—we’re still stuck dealing with the damn SARS-CoV2 virus, and considering the past nine weeks (and counting)—I really haven’t had much fun, and am still working on ways of adding ‘enjoyment’ into my day-to-day routine.

Aries is moves through my sixth house (or my daily work and health zone). This house is where we can sit and reflect on who we are (both in terms of professional/work and personal/health) and decide to work on those aspects that we don’t like.

For the past two years I’d made various ‘commitments’ such as pushing play daily on streaming workouts or committing to intentional movements each day. Well, I canceled my Beachbody-on-demand (and technically my Beachbody) subscriptions this past month—for whatever reason, I’d prefer to pop in a DVD than trying to log into the website…the DVD player relies on power (and not being overly dusty), while streaming workout relies on power plus a good internet connection and the website not being down.

Therefore I’m still in the process of trying to develop a good mix of things I like to do (weight lifting, walking, hiking, and so forth) and making a ‘schedule’ that I can more or less stick with—because life has been throwing more lemons and limes at me than I can use for making various drinks and dishes.

I have a good idea of what I’m wanting to do career wise—it’s a matter now of making a schedule that will work with everything that is going on in life right now—plus I’m still dealing with the feeling of burnout (but not just in terms of career—currently its in terms of everything).

Since I’m pretty sure that this Aries full moon is going to be a very chaotic time, I’m going to limit the number of goals that I’m going to be setting. The goals for the Aries full moon will include:

  1. Write out a list of things I’d enjoy doing in terms of intentional movement (weight lifting, walking, cardio, yoga, and so forth)—and try to devise a schedule.
  2. Have at least two mini-book reviews written and posted on various sites
  3. Work through at least part of a personal/professional development course
  4. Continue reading (and possibly finishing) at least one non-fiction book that I’ve already started.

The motto for this quarter is ‘Progress over Perfection’

Four goals for the Aries full moon–and hopefully four goals that will get accomplished. I know that I have an extra one or two listed above–those are bonus goals…I’m trying to just remember to take things a day at a time, and even then–remember to take things an hour at a time, and if need be a minute at a time.

What personal/professional goal are you working towards this quarter?

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My birthday goal challenge: 43-things to do before turning 43

So my birthday was a couple of days ago, and I’ve been slowly reworking various goal and bucket lists.

Reworking the bucket lists—because I need to be totally honest about how much travel I will probably be doing over the next few decades (especially international).

Reworking the 101 goals in 1001-days list—because there are few things that just haven’t happened and I’m not sure if they’re goals I was putting down for myself or things I thought were needed.

But, one thing I’ve done—I’ve created a list of 43 things I want to do before I turn 43. Some of things I’m already doing (such as meditating, daily oracle cards, and monthly new/full moon goals), but there are others that I attempt and never make that much traction with—I’m hoping that this is the extra little push I need to accomplish those items.

My 43 things to do before turning 43 list

The list contains goals such as researching the origins of my last name. Which is a semi-easy goal—since my grandfather did a good amount of the research back in the 1980s when he was composing a family tree.

But it also contains goals such as defining my vision of success, learning about body confidence, and creating a happiness plan.

Then there are goals associated with finishing certain courses that I’ve bought over the years—such as the project management consortium, management consulting firm, and business development federation courses offered by Cheeky Scientist.

The goal is that by my 43rd birthday I will have accomplished at least eighty percent of the goals (a minimum of 34.4—or 34 goals). I’ll be keeping track of some of the goals in spreadsheets (such as the 365-day photography and writing challenges; what books I’ve read).

Time to start pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone, and expanding the bounce zone while shrinking the risk and stretch zones—I’ll be giving updates throughout the year, just haven’t figured out the approximate time frame.

Within the next week or two, I will also be posting an updated 101 goals in 1001-day challenge as well.

Have you done a birthday year inspired goal challenge before? If so–how did it turn out?

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

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

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

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

Have I been overly sensitive and too easily hurt?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question time: what are some of your favorite crafts?

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Two-thirds of the way through 2022: August in Review

So, we’re in September…that means there are only four months, 122 days, roughly 17.5 weeks, or 2,928 hours left in 2022. I’m now nineteen days from my next birthday…I thought I’d have gotten more done during August—but it was a total mess of a month.

I’d like to ask again–whoever is playing with the voodoo doll for the year—please put it down…

How was August a mess? Well, we’re currently dealing with an ongoing family medical issue—that may or may not be resolved by Halloween—so yeah, it’s been a hellish month.

I could on and on about being pissed about Roe v Wade being overturned…but I’m trying to stay on a somewhat upbeat outlook of life (due to the ongoing family medical issue)…

While the anxiety has been acting up—I’ve been getting better at meditating at night (soothing pod meditations help), and am working on catching the imposter syndrome/inner critic as it pops its head out to yell…

I will mention again, that it is time to end the filibuster, expand the Supreme Court, enact term limits for both the Supreme Court and Congress, and finally codify women’s health care and gun control into law.

In terms of the total number of cases of the virus within the US, when I published ‘July in Review’ on August 1st, I noted that we had reached a little over 93.1 million cases and now as of September 1st —we have reached just a little over 96.3 million cases (an increase of a little over 3.2 million cases). Numbers are going back up—in part to the different variants of the omicron sub-strain of the SARS-CoV2 virus.

So—please, wear a mask, wash your hands, practice social distancing, and get boosted when needed.

I need to get my booster shot soon, but am waiting for the next Pfizer one to be released (since it is suppose to also protect against the omicron variants).

As I alluded to the past few months, I’m going to focus on my strengths and values moving forward this summer: knowledge, creativity, curiosity, spirituality, evolution/transformation (values), learner, intellection, input, achiever, and deliberative (strengths).

So before setting goals for September (and possibly the rest of the year), its time to look back at the goals I set for August and see how I did with each of them.

The goals for August included:

  1. 125-155K steps
  2. At least one partial walk at Boomer Lake, and at least five to ten minutes of intentional movement a day
  3. Finish at least one non-fiction book
  4. Read at least two-to-four fiction books (and have at least one mini-book review written)
  5. Commit to the no-spend days/no-spend week/limited spending challenge (aiming for 20 days; goal is 30 days)
  6. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, and daily oracle card drawings
  7. Craft time
  8. Working through at least one personal/professional development e-course module
  9. Writing, writing, and writing

So how did I do with each of them?

125-155K steps:

I managed 132,940 steps during August. Between the weather and the ongoing family medical issue—I didn’t get any long walks in at Boomer Lake, just several walks up to the corner store on the weekend looking for the paper.

One partial walk at Boomer Lake, and five-to-ten minutes of intentional movment:

There weren’t any walks at Boomer Lake this month (refer back to family medical issue), and I would have to say that I probably managed five minutes of intentional movement each day.

Finish at least one non-fiction book:

Nope…I’ve started reading quite a few non-fiction books, but haven’t finished any of them.

Read at least two-to-four fiction books:

I did manage to read quite a few fiction books (though I have yet to write any mini book reviews). The books I managed to read include:

  1. Always the One for Me (Wilder Brothers #2) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  2. Help Me Remember (Rose Canyon #1) by Corinne Michaels
  3. My Grumpy Billionaire by Nadie Lee
  4. Frayed (Willow Springs #1) by Laura Pavlov
  5. Tangled (Willow Springs #2) by Laura Pavlov
  6. Charmed (Willow Springs #3) by Laura Pavlov
  7. Sealed (Willow Springs #4) by Laura Pavlov
  8. Claimed (Willow Springs #5) by Laura Pavlov
  9. Off Limits (Rixon High #1) by L.A. Cotton
  10. Tragic Lies (Rixon High #2) by L.A. Cotton
  11. Ruined Hopes (Rixon High #3) by L.A. Cotton
  12. Broken Ties (Rixon High #4) by L.A. Cotton
  13. Missed Notes (Rixon High #5) by L.A. Cotton

Plus I think I reread The Callaghan Brothers series by Abby Zanders and the Winters Saga by Ivy Layne as well.

Commit to the no spend days/no spend week/limited spending challenge:

I did okay with the no spend days/no spend week/limited spending challenge. I managed 22 days of not spending money…eight days shy of my goal of thirty days no spend. I’m hoping to do a minimum of twenty-four days no spend during September.

Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, and daily oracle card drawings:

I’ve gotten better at evening meditations (the soothing pod meditation app helps), writing at least one thing I’m grateful for each night in my journal, and doing a daily oracle card drawing.

Time outdoors has been sporadic—mainly in the evenings, though there were a couple of days that I did manage to sit outside during afternoon/evening hours.

Craft time:

Well, it depends on what one would classify as ‘crafts’…I did spend some time trying to design new graphics on Canva, did a little iPhone photography, and possibly colored one or two color-by-number pictures on the kindle.

I do need to try to do other crafts (such as design some jewelry or work on a cross-stitch project) over the next few months.

Working through at least one module of a personal/professional development course:

I don’t think I got much personal/professional development done. I am in a boot camp course for career confidence (but have only been able to catch one class ‘live’ and am behind on the homework).

Writing, writing, and writing:

Well, there was some writing done this past month…I think I managed the science Tuesday posts on LinkedIn and only missed one thoughtful Thursday post. But—I know that I can (and will need to) do better in terms of writing daily.

So I would say that I managed to hit probably half the goals for August…the month had its problems—and while I didn’t ‘hide’ from them…I also fell into some bad coping habits (buying ebooks for example)…

I have no idea of September is going to be any easier than August…but I know that I need to stay focused on the goals of finding either a flexible remote position or really trying to start up a freelance business…

Therefore the goals for September will include a mixture of personal/professional development (as they all usually are) areas:

  1. 120-150K steps
  2. Hopefully one partial walk at Boomer Lake and at least five-to-ten minutes fo intentional movement each day
  3. Finish at least one of the many non-fiction books that I’ve started
  4. Read at least two-to-four fiction books (plus write at least one mini book review)
  5. Commit to the no-spend days/no spend week/limited spending challenge (aiming for at least 24 days; goal is 29)
  6. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, and daily oracle card drawings
  7. Craft time (aim to create at least one necklace, one bracelet, and one pair of ear rings)
  8. Working through at least one module of a personal/professional development e-course (taking notes)
  9. Getting the second blog/website up and running
  10. Writing, writing, and more writing

Goals are basically the same as last month (with the addition of getting the second blog site up and running)—but that is how you build consistent habits—repetition. Also, since I ‘fell’ down on a few of the goals last month, by repeating them—I’m giving myself grace for not being ‘perfect’ and another shot on hitting the goal this coming month.

I can already tell that September isn’t going to be any easier than August (and potentially could be worse)…but instead of falling under the ‘influence’ of my inner critic/imposter syndrome (which would result in very few things getting done)…I’m going to aim for consistency—consistency in reading, research (on various topics), and writing.

By aiming for consistency—I’m leaning into my strengths and values: learning/knowledge, creativity, curiosity, spirituality, evolution/growth, and intellection.

In addition—they all give me great practice at time and project management as I’m aiming for at least 85% overall completion (I’m fully acknowledging that I may not hit the step goal, and that I may also not have that much time outside—but I can work towards all the other ones).

I mentioned last month that I was going to try to ‘unplug’ from the computer at night to read or work on a craft project—and I think I only managed it a few times throughout the month—so another ‘mini-goal’ to work towards (no computer after 8pm at least four days a week).

With fall around the corner—what is one of your fall goals?

Namaste….

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Review of Leo New Moon Goals: Progress on time/project management goals

So the moon is going to be making its transition into the Virgo constellation over the next day or so—which will mark the eighth new moon of the year. But before I can look ahead to the Virgo new moon, I should look back at the goals I set for the Leo new moon and see how I did with each of them.

August isn’t panning out to be the greatest month (more about next week in my ‘August in Review’ post), but I’ll be completely honest in saying that it will be a ‘miracle’ if I actually managed to get all the goals accomplished for the Leo new moon.

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

  1. Continue developing my self-care/self-love routine. This includes: meditation, time outdoors, journaling, stretching, and getting back inot weight training
  2. Create an editorial calendar for the blog and possibly even LinkedIn to help streamline projects and have an idea of waht I’m talking about on different platforms
  3. Create my August BINGO card for goals
  4. Continue working on filling out the job search spreadsheet

So how did I do with each of them?

Self-care/Self-love:

Developing a self-care routine will always be an ongoing process. I’ve gotten better at evening meditations, and temps are starting to cool off—so it’s not that bad sitting outside for a while in the afternoon/evenings.

I do journal daily…even if it’s just a few brief notes about how the day went. Still trying to figure out the best timing for getting back into weight training.

Editorial calendars:

I created an editorial calendar for both the original blog and LinkedIn…but then life happened (more on that next week)…and I haven’t been posting (or even writing) as much as I originally planned.

August BINGO card:

I created an August BINGO card…I may not get a ‘BINGO’…but there are several goals that will be getting the stamp of completed…

August BINGO Card

Job Search:

I haven’t even really looked at my job search spreadsheet this month (again—August hasn’t turned out the way I was planning it).

I would say that I managed probably about half to two-thirds of the goals for the Leo new moon. I’m currently striving for just a little forward progress each day, knowing that it can be considered compound progress when I look back at what I’d been trying to accomplish.

Did I put my head in the sand this past month…no—and it wasn’t for lack of wanting, but because I needed to be the adult.

We’re going to be heading into the Virgo new moon—which is my star sign (rising is Scorpio, and moon is Pisces)…so maybe things will be going a little better as I move closer to my birthday…

How did you do in terms of reaching your Leo goals?

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