Category: career

Two more duck photography pages are live, and other news

So there are two more duck pages live under the bird photography tab (specifically under the ‘water birds’ and then the ducks, swan, and geese family).

So, as I mentioned in several posts—I’m slowly trying to update/add to the site to account for wanting to move a little more into the three niches that I’d picked out for concentrating on for writing (personal/professional development, health/wellness, and science/medical writing/communications). One of the things I’ve been trying to do is ensure that there is a single line of tabs at the top of the page—and that if there is a drop down menu, all items are still visible on the screen.

The one section that will probably be ‘changing’ slightly as I work on this aspect is the combo birding/photography tab—mainly because of how many bird pages I have currently up.

With that said—the two new duck pages that have been added are for the Northern Shoveler and the Blue-winged Teal.

Both of these birds are migratory and/or winter residents within Oklahoma.

I’ve only managed to spot the blue-winged teal as it makes its way north in the spring (I have yet managed to make it up to Boomer in the late summer to catch them as they are one of the first ducks to migrate south in the late summer/early fall).

Blue-winged teals swimming in Boomer Lake

The northern shovelers will both migrate through the state, and a few of them will even winter around Boomer Lake—so I’ve managed to spot these guys several times in both the winter and early spring.

Northern Shovelers swimming in Boomer Lake

While the peak of fall migration has passed, there are still birds migrating south—hopefully I’ll be able to spot a few other species over the next few weeks (especially if I can manage to get up to the lake just as the sun is coming up).

What is your favorite fall migratory bird to spot?

No Comments bird watchingcareernatureoutdoorsPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentUpdates

As it starts to get colder: more time for the computer work (review and looking ahead)

Well, we’re almost halfway through October—that means there are only 79 days left in 2021. I’ve been reflecting over the past two weeks on the goals that I set for the third quarter of the year (or as I was also referring to as—my second attempt at a 12-week year).

I’d mentioned in a post over the summer that I was combining the ideas of two books together and using those as ‘stepping-stones’ for goals in different areas. The ideas that I’m combining are ‘choosing focal points (or specific areas)’ to focus on (‘The Renaissance Soul: How to Make Your Passions Your Life—A Creative and Practical Guide’ by Margaret Lobenstine), and the goal setting method from ‘The 12-Week Year: Get more done in 12 weeks than others do in 12 months’ by Brain Moran and Michael Lennington.

The four areas that I’ve decided that I’m currently focusing on are: professional development, personal development, health, and hobbies. The plan is to blend them together enough that I’ve created a career that is semi-location independent, and is focused on freelance/remote/contract writing/blogging with the possibility of adding in data analysis and/or consulting in the future.

The one thing that I’m still working on is figuring out how to divide the goals that I pick for the each month into weekly and then daily goals.

I’ve usually been trying to set four to five goals per focal area, with the possibility that one or two may have several ‘sub’ goals associated with them.

Instead of listing out every single goal that I set for the summer, I’m going to summarize the areas instead.

In terms of professional development, I had the lofty goals of completing at least two Cheeky Scientist advanced programs, learning python (coding), working through another three small e-courses on Udemy, and continuing to read/share science news and network on LinkedIn.

In terms of personal development, the lofty goals included refreshing Spanish, reading at least one (or two) non-fiction books a month, working through even more e-courses on different sites, and coming up with my own vision of minimalism and how I was going to diversify my income.

In terms of health, I was planning on continuing with BOD workouts (LIIFT4 and then Morning Meltdown 100), meditation, gratitude entries in the journal, oracle card drawings, working through a couple of courses, and trying to find new recipes to try at dinner.

In terms of my hobbies: at least one nature walk with the camera at Boomer Lake, reading, working on a cross-stitch project (or making some jewelry), and then again working through more e-courses.

So how did I do with my various goals?

In terms of professional development:

I’ve been fairly good at reading and sharing new on LinkedIn and twitter (I try to share at least one post Monday to Friday), and I’m working networking more and adding value to connections on LinkedIn.

In terms of the various programs, courses, and programming—I didn’t really get to any of them. Though I have most of the editing assignments for the Medical Writers Organization done—I just need to work on the writing assignments, plus finish up the sixth module.

I would say that I managed two out of the five professional development goals (so forty percent completed).

In terms of personal development:

I think I’ve managed to read possibly two non-fiction books over the past three months, I’m slowly working on my vision of minimalism (I need to go through the clothes and DVDs in the bedroom—and then tackle everything in the storage unit), and I’m slowly working on the ideas for generating varied income sources.

Again, the computer work hasn’t been completed.

Therefore, I probably managed another two out of the five goals (so another forty percent completed)

In terms of health:

I managed about 26 days of the oracle card sharing challenge. While I enjoyed it in the beginning, it was starting to become more of a ‘chore’ and I wasn’t getting that many interactions on the posts. I will probably share a reading here and there on Instagram, but probably won’t be daily.

With having messed up my wrist mid-June/early-July, I’ve been giving it time to heal, so I really haven’t been doing anything that requires lifting weights. I will be trying to start a second round of Morning Meltdown 100 during the fourth quarter of 2021, knowing that it will run into the first quarter of 2022.

I’ve been good with my evening meditations and daily gratitude entries in the journal. I’ve done a little over half of the explicit tarot course, and in terms of cooking—I couldn’t find any recipes that appealed to me this quarter.

I would say that I managed about half of the health goals for the third quarter.

The best area was hobbies:

I managed a walk every month at Boomer Lake with my camera, I read at least two or three fiction books a month, and I finished two cross-stitch projects and started a third. The only goal that I didn’t really touch was the one in regards to the e-courses.

Therefore, I would say that I managed three of the four goals (or seventy-five percent) for hobbies.

Overall, I would say that I managed to reach fifty percent of all the goals (and sub-goals) that I set for the third quarter.

There are several reasons why I only managed to meet half of the goals:

September was spent dealing with an ill dog and not knowing the outcome/prognosis. While we now know the prognosis, it may still be touch and go—especially when she starts to get weaned off the medication.

I also quit doing my weekly to-be accomplished lists in September (see above about the ill dog), and the daily to-be accomplished lists in August. The reason why I quit writing these out—I let the inner critic/imposter syndrome win a fight. I’m slowly working on getting back into the habit of doing both of these (slightly better with the weekly to-be accomplished lists).

Finally, when the weather is fairly nice—I’d rather be sitting outside enjoying the weather and possibly reading or journaling than being inside and working on the computer. I know that this is something that I need to work on improving (time/project management) as we move into the fall/winter months when more time will be spent indoors than outdoors.

So what are my goals for the four different areas moving into the fourth and final quarter of 2021?

Professional Development (This area is focused heavily on computer work):

  1. Finish at least two of the following Cheeky Scientist advanced programs:
    • Medical Writers Organization
    • User Experience Squad
    • Regulatory Affairs Council
    • Business Development Federation
  2. Finish the following short courses:
    • 15 errors in scientific writing and how to correct them on Udemy
    • How to become a freelance editor on Udemy
    • How to become a freelance writer on Skill Success
  3. Read and share science (and other news) on LinkedIn and Twitter
  4. Network and add value on LinkedIn
  5. (Bonus):
    • Finish Write Your Way to Freedom course
    • Finish Writing Patient Materials course

Personal Development (A third to half of the work will be computer based):

  1. Read one-to-two non-fiction books/month
  2. Draft ideas on how to implement diversification of income streams
  3. Work through the following short courses:
    • How to work for yourself on Udemy
    • Complete personal finance course on Udemy
    • Freelance writing 101: build a successful career on Skill Share
    • Content Marketing: Blogging for Growth on Skill Share

Health (Possibly a third to half could be computer based):

  1. Start a second round of Morning Meltdown 100
  2. Daily mediation and work through the course: Mindfulness for Anxiety on Udemy
  3. Daily gratitude journal entries
  4. Daily oracle card drawings and finish the course: explicit tarot: learning tarot through storytelling on Udemy

Hobbies (possibly a quarter could be computer based):

  1. At least one walk per month at Boomer Lake with camera
  2. Read two-to-three fiction books per month
  3. Finish the third cross-stitch project, possibly start a fourth or design/create some jewelry
  4. Work through the following courses:
    • How to start a creative business through blogging for beginners on Skill Share
    • Modern copywriting on Stack Skills

There are still quite a few e-courses that I’m hoping to finish before the end of the year—I may or may not get through all of them, but I’m hoping to have worked through at least one in each area (bonus points if I can finish all the e-courses under a specific focal point).

I mentioned in my October New Moon Goals—that I was going to be trying to face one ‘big’ fear during the next phase/month. I decided that the fear is starting my freelance/remote/contract writing business. Therefore I’m probably going to focus a little more on the courses that deal with that topic (which all but the two under health). The name of the blog (a little bit of this, a little bit of that) will probably stay the same—I may just change the website address (all depends as I work my way through the various courses).

This also means that I may having more posts written in a specific area (such as science/medical education/communication), but at the same time keeping other posts coming throughout the month (such as book reviews, photography, and crafts).

I realize that getting things up and running will take time (especially when it comes to marketing my business, billing, and creating/sticking with a editorial schedule)—but I currently have the time to do this, so I’m going for it: the overall goal is to reach at least fifty-percent in each area and an overall all progress rate of seventy-five percent for the last quarter of 2021.

Do you use the 12-week method for planning? Best tips? Or is there another method you like?

No Comments bullet journalcareerCraftsLifestyle ChallengesPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentReflectionsUpdates

Libra New Moon: Focusing on the self-care

So we’re going to be entering the next new moon phase this week—for those within the US, it will be today—Wednesday October 6th; for others it could on the 6th or it could be on the 7th. This means that there are only 87 days left in 2021. It seems that time is starting to ‘pick back up’ after ‘dragging’ last year.

With the moon moving through the Libra constellation over the next day or tow, there are various things that we can look at or work on over the next few weeks and they include:

Look at how you’re relating to other people (are you’re helping more than asking?)

Look into your partnerships (any issues that need addressing?)

Negotiate–try to bring things into balance if needed

Look gorgeous–work on improving your self-image, and self-love

Regain your identity–figure out how to resolve any unhealthy co-dependency issues if needed.

Looking at the above five items, I would have to say the following about each one (if I numbered them one-to-five):

  1. It is hard to tell how I’m relating to other people, especially since we’re still in the middle of the pandemic and I really haven’t been around anyone but family for the past eighteen to twenty months. I do try to add more value on-line (especially on LinkedIn)
  2. Well, I’m not in a relationship with anyone right now. In terms of family ‘partnerships’, I’d say that everything is about as ‘normal’ as they would be within the family.
  3. I can’t think of things with other people that need negotiating—I know that I probably need to negotiate quite a bit with myself.
  4. I’m slowly working on improving my self-care/self-love routines, plus how I see myself (self-image).
  5. I’m also slowly working on trying to regain my identity—mainly from the negative thought patterns surrounding body image and my writing ability.

The Libra new moon is also moving through my 12th house—or my secret zone. This is the time/house when you really just want to retreat from the world and work things out for a while. In terms of self-care/self-love what are some of the things you could focus on during this time?

  1. Practice yoga
  2. Take a break from social media and/or numerous social obligations
  3. Start a dream journal
  4. Face one big fear
  5. Trust your intuition
  6. Buy a mediation CD & use it everyday for a month
  7. Write poetry from the heart
  8. Share one of your secrets

So once again, this new moon is urging me to focus on finding a balance (or harmony) between social obligations and self-care/self-love. Since I’m still self-isolation, this is fairly easy to do—I haven’ had a sit-down, face-to-face conversation with someone (who isn’t family) since last March. The one informational interview that I had this year was via Zoom (and with the chat feature). Looking back at last year’s entry—I’m getting better at mental calmness (not having weird ‘stories/conversations’ running through my head, spiking my anxiety for no reason).

I would have to say that I’m going to try to get back into yoga (possibly through various workout programs), and I’m slowly working on the writing.

So what are my goals going to be for the Libra new moon?

  1. Unplug at night. I’ve been slowly setting the boundary of not being on the computer after say eight pm. While I may ‘scroll’ through social media on the phone, it’s usually a very brief scrolling and then I’m back working on my cross-stitch project. I’m going to try to make it a habit of either shutting down the computer or putting it to sleep no later than eight pm every night, and possibly leaving it off all day Saturday and/or Sunday.
  2. Continue at working to regain my identity. I’m still slowly working at resolving/healing the unhealthy diet mindset that I’d developed over the past couple of decades. While I’ve done quite a bit of work over the last ten months or so (thanks to various groups), I know that I still have work to do in that area. I’m also working on ensuring that I don’t wrap myself up in a ‘professional’ identity, only to lose myself ‘personally’ again (as I’d also done over the past several decades).
  3. Facing a fear—figuring out how to launch a freelance/remote/contract business. This is something that I have in my ‘risk and die’ zones on my comfort diagram—I figured it is risky trying to set up a part-time business, and an anxiety inducing dilemma trying to set up a full-time business. I’m going to try—the worse that comes of it, I keep it part-time, the best that can come of it—I manage to double (if not triple) what I was earning in academia within the first year of doing freelance writing.

I am aiming for ‘progress over perfection’, I’m starting the next chapter of my life (since I’ve stopped reading the last one), I’m not going to fear failure—I’m only going to fear the regret of not trying and I will not allow the opinions of others to sway me from the path I’m setting out on—windy and bumpy roads can lead to beautiful destinations.

What is something you’ve always wanted to try to do, but haven’t done yet?

No Comments AstrologycareerCraftsfitnessHealthLifestyle ChallengesNew Moon Goalsno spend challengesReflections

Reviewing Virgo New Moon goals: Some were derailed and some were met

Well, we’ve entered the month of October—less than 90 days left in the year and we’re going to be heading into another ‘new moon’ phase tomorrow. That means before I look ahead to the October Libra New Moon, I should look back at the goals I set for the Virgo new moon and see how I did with each of them.

So what were the goals that I set for the September Virgo new moon? They included:

  1. Taking inventory of various aspects of life (research/writing/editing/publishing, crafts/hobbies, fitness, and mental health/spirituality) and trying to develop a working schedule that will allow me to be both productive, but at teh same time enjoy time outside as well.
  2. Continue with daily workouts (either weight lifting/shadow-boxing or starting a second round of MM100)
  3. In combination with #1–organize the schedule and block out periods of time (or set certain days to certain tasks) and see if that helps improve my productivity
  4. Work on completing the third and fourth goal from the Leo New Moon goal list:
    • Determine the top five to ten types of freelance/remote/contract writing that I would like to do and start drafting examples of each. Also start drafting my ‘own’ medical content pieces.
    • Determine the top five to fifteen items/sponsors/affiliates and so-forth for the other three ‘blocks’ of my business foundation.
  5. Continue with evening meditations and start trying to incorporate them into the mornings as well.

So how did I do with each of them?

  1. I’ve realized that one of the things I’ve really been struggling with is setting aside enough time to do the research/writing and editing for various writing projects that I have on my plate. Why? Mainly because I haven’t prioritized them, and unlike the bird pages, I haven’t done a lot of ‘batch research’ (looking for papers on different topics on PubMed at the same time). So, this is something that I’m going to be working on (in addition to making sure that I schedule in enough time for fitness as well).
  2. September was a roller coaster month (one of the younger dogs developed hemolytic anemia after getting an allergy shot—so there were several vet visits, and a lot of worrying), and I didn’t get into an fitness routine. I also decided I’d renew my Beachbody-on-Demand subscription one more year, so I will actually be figuring out the best time to schedule in my daily workout (probably going to start with a second round of Morning Meltdown 100).
  3. Organizing the schedule is still something I’m working on—I’m going to make use of my larger bullet journal as a planner and over the upcoming weekend see how many pages will be required for a monthly/weekly/daily spread.
  4. In terms of the freelance/remote/contract writing areas: I published a post earlier this week mentioning how I’d decided that I was going to be a ‘multi-niche’ writer/blogger. I decided that the three ‘main’ niches were going to be health/wellness, science/medical education/communication, and personal/professional development. In addition, I would still be doing posts on photography, travel, book reviews, and various other things as well (though they may be shorter in length compared to topics from the three main ‘niches’). While those areas are still extremely broad, I’m slowly working on narrowing down to say three to five areas within each one (for example within personal/professional development I’m interested in learning more on personal finances, minimalism, time and project management, and online learning). After choosing the three to five (possibly more) areas, I’ll slowly be writing longer posts/pages for those areas and publishing them both on the blog, possibly LinkedIn, and other sites as well. In terms of the other three pillars (advertising, selling photographs and jewelry), I’m still working on determining those top five plus items (though I’m also thinking of possibly trying to sell my cross-stitch projects as well).
  5. I’ve been doing really well with the evening mediation (or sometimes just sitting quietly), but haven’t really been able to get into the habit yet of doing it earlier in the day.

Okay—so I managed to possibly get two of the five goals met during the Virgo new moon (meditation and slowly figuring out the main ‘niches’ I am going to migrate towards for starting a freelance/remote/contract writing business. I’ve also decided that the best thing to do will be to have polished examples on the ‘tabs’ (the main ‘portfolio’ pages), and then additional posts within the blog. So this means that I will really need to get on top of developing a editorial calendar, and making sure that I’ve got my ‘key words’ for the different niches narrowed down and picked out (something else to put on the to-do list for the weekend).

Luckily, we hopefully caught the hemolytic anemia in time, and our younger dog will be making a ‘full recovery’. It may be another month on the high dose of meds until the allergy shot is totally out of her system, and then a gradual tampering down on the dose of the two meds.

Hopefully it will be somewhat smoother sailing for the rest of the year (as long as there are no more medical emergencies—either animal or human, or any other problems). Minor progress is still progress, and trying to develop a schedule has always been a minor problem for me (I don’t really like trying to totally plan out my days/weeks to far in advance).

But tomorrow, is another new moon—which means it is another chance to set a series of new goals, but also to continue working on the goals that have been previously set—but not totally met.

As I’d mentioned at the end of my Virgo New Moon goals—I’m going to be focusing on progress not perfection, slowly starting to write the next chapter of my life, and not allowing the opinions of others to deter me from the path that I’ve started on. It is usually the bumpy and windy roads that lead to unique places.

Though I am curious: when is your favorite time to meditate?

No Comments Astrologybullet journalcareerfitnessHealthNew Moon GoalsPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

The three niches for starting my freelance career

As I work on navigating the realm of the online world and freelancing/remote/contract writing—I’ve realized one thing: the suggestion of choosing a single niche for writing, makes me feel like I’m back in college, where one is urged to declare a major by the end of your freshman year.

Truthfully, when I first think of the word ‘niche’—I think of the scientific definition of the word—where every plant and animal within a specific ecosystem has a functional and even defined role.

The term has also expanded into the ‘human’ day-to-day realm, and can be defined as a ‘comfortable or suitable position in life or employment’ or as ‘ a specialized segment of the market for a particular kind of product or service.

Can one have more than one niche, and can they be ‘different from each other’, and melded into a broader category?

Well, I’m going to find out—because I’ve realized over the past few weeks of trying to narrow things down to one or even two niches—it felt like being back in college. I declared a major—but always felt like I had to choose one direction over the other (I like/enjoy both the typical sciences and the social sciences, but never could figure out how to combine them into one major or double-major).

When it comes to picking a niche, people always suggest some variation of the following questions:

What could you talk about all day?

What do people ask you about?

What would you love to learn about?

What is a unique subject you know about?

And finally–is it more important to write about what you enjoy or being in a profitable niche?

In theory, answering these questions is suppose to help you narrow down a list of niches that you could focus on. If I numbered the above questions one-to-five, my answers would be:

  1. I could talk about crafts, books, bird watching, photography, science, nature, various random facts, and numerous other things all day long. I would say that these areas could fall into a couple of categories: personal development/hobbies (crafts, books, bird watching, and photography), education/communications (science/nature) and health/wellness (science). This is also just a very short ‘curated’ list of things I could probably talk about all day.
  2. While it has been awhile since I’ve actually talked face-to-face with someone outside of family (thanks pandemic). I would have to say that I’ve been asked about fitness/health/nutrition, job searching post-graduate school, science, and other things. These subjects could also be divided into professional development (jobs after grad school), education/communication (science) and health/wellness (fitness/nutrition/health).
  3. Learning is my top strength according to both the Clifton Strength Assessment and the VIA Character Assessment tests. While I took an ‘on-and-off’ break from learning after grad school, I’m slowly embracing that inner quality again. Things I’d enjoy learning more about include: intuitive eating, personal finances (especially investments and saving for retirement), stress/anxiety management, time/project management, minimalism, and improving my mental and spiritual health (along with my physical health). These are only a few of the topics I’d enjoy learning more about and can fall under the umbrella of health/wellness (intuitive eating, stress/anxiety management and improving mental/spiritual/physical health), and personal/professional development (personal finances, time/project management, and minimalism).
  4. Unique subjects that I know quite a bit about all fall under education/communications–specifically science education/communication. Those topics include molecular cloning, small RNA biology, recombinant protein expression and purification, cell biology, molecular biology, and many other little nuances within the molecular and cellular world.
  5. I would say that one could probably do both (enjoy what they’re writing on and earn living doing it), and it can be done wither by being within one niche that you really like and can talk about all day, or enjoying two niches, but one is a little more profitable than the other. I’m starting with the second path–more than one niche, for several reasons that I’ll explain below.

Answering the questions, have allowed me to ‘narrow’ it to three niches: personal/professional development, health/wellness, and education/communication (starting with science, but possibly expanding to other ‘subject areas’).

Should I focus on just one? Possibly—but I realized early on when I first started this blog/website, I need to bounce around between topics or I get bored and quit doing things. I’d always wondered why I would start to get bored after awhile in lab (undergrad, grad, and postdoc)—and finally figured it out—if I’m not learning something new, or challenging myself with a new hobby/topic, I get bored and only put in the minimal effort required for the job.

Having three niches that are somewhat intertwined (at least in my mind), will allow me to challenge myself in terms of research needed on the topics, and enough variation that I shouldn’t get bored while working. The niches are also diverse enough, that there are numerous ‘sub-niches’ within each as well.

If I look to just science education/communication—I can name at least eight broad ‘subject areas’ (cell biology, molecular biology, biochemistry, botany, microbiology, zoology, entomology, and soil science) that I’d be willing to ‘dive’ into researching. Then within cell/molecular biology and biochemistry I could probably name numerous other ‘sub-topics’ such as the cell cycle, the central dogma of biology, metabolism, genomes, proteomes, transcriptomes, metabolomics, pre/post-transcriptional and translational control, apoptosis, and prokaryotic versus eukaryotic cells.

Therefore, I’m going to go with a ‘triple-niche’ approach (at least for the bigger articles/posts) and focus on those areas: personal/professional development, science education/communication, and health/wellness. I will still be doing photography (it has its own tab), plus travel posts (most will be throw-back posts until I feel like its safe enough to travel).

The posts may cycle through the different niches, or I may focus on one for a particular month and then tie it to the next niche as I transition to writing on a different topic—but the tag line for the blog/site sums up my current state of mind and focus: ‘a little bit of this, a little bit of that’.

So question: In terms of those three areas (personal/professional development, health/wellness, and science education/communication)—which would you like me to write on first (and bonus if you have a topic idea)?

No Comments careerCraftsfinancesfitnessHealthmoney saving challengesno spend challengesPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentReflectionsspiritualityUpdates

Down to the last quarter of 2021: where did the time go?

We’re heading into the last quarter of the year—there are only 92 days left in 2021. Somehow, the summer sped by and it seems like the fall is going to swirl into winter before we know it. Truthfully, there really hasn’t been much change for the pandemic—various numbers are bouncing around (namely the number of people getting their vaccines, and booster shots for the Pfizer vaccine [if you’re in one of the three categories] started this week). Hopefully J&J will be announcing when their booster shots are available and will be for everyone (not just a small percentage of the population). But, no matter what—I’ll still be self-isolating for the most part through the fall, winter, and into spring—at least until the numbers are on a steady decline (and I’m not talking about the vaccination rate).

I decided to stay away from the media as much as possible this past month (as it really doesn’t do much for me—other than ramp up both my anxiety and stress levels). In terms of the total number of cases of the virus in the US, when I published ‘August in Review’, I noted that the US was a little over 40.1 million cases for the SARS-CoV2 virus, and now we’re at a little over 44.3 million cases (so it was an increase of a little over 4.2 million cases last month—again all due to the delta variant, poor social distancing [especially in schools] and fewer people getting vaccinated).

So, while there are ‘breakthrough’ cases (people catching the virus after getting at least one vaccine shot), majority of the cases are still unvaccinated individuals. Hopefully within the next few months, the Pfizer shot will get emergency approval for younger kids age five to eleven (which will hopefully help cut down on the spread of the virus through schools). All I’ll say is this again: I really wish things would go virtual for another semester or two, and if everyone wants schools opened—get the damn shot. (End rant)

As one may have noticed—I’m slowly working on ‘reorganizing’ pages/tabs on the blog. I’ve combined the birding tab with the photography tab (more organizational pages will be coming for the ‘main tab’), and I’m renaming/rewriting other tabs. I decided that I’m going to be a multi-niche blog/website and focus my writing on three main areas: science/medical education and communication, personal/professional development, and health and wellness. Though I will also be doing crafts, photography, and travel as ‘enjoyment hobbies’—so those will still pop in every so often, as well as book reviews.

Before looking ahead to October and the start of the last quarter of the year, I should look at the goals I set for September and see how I did with each of them.

The goals for September included:

  1. 130-150,000 steps; I’m hoping to get at least one walk in at Boomer Lake this month
  2. Start my own fitness routine (weight lifting, shadow boxing, and possibly yoga)
  3. Start working through the User Experience Squad program, work on the writing assignments for MWO, and finish the sixt module of the MWO
  4. Read one to two non-fiction books
  5. Read two to four fiction books (have small book reviews written and published on the blog and other sites)
  6. No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month
  7. Time outdoors, mediation/sitting quietly, and daily gratitude journal entries
  8. Craft time (start a new cross-stitch project)
  9. Work through at least one other personal/professional development course

So how did I do with each of them?

130-150,000 steps: I managed to meet and slightly surpass my step goal. I managed to get 157,114 steps during the month of September. I managed to get two walks in at Boomer Lake, took Chaos for two short walks through the neighborhood, and wandered around enough during the day to get my steps.

Start my own fitness routine: This didn’t happen. Mainly due to the fact the month was thrown into partial chaos by the fact that we had to take Rolex (one of our younger dogs) into the vet several times due to her developing hemolytic anemia (all from a damn allergy shot), and this threw me for a loop. I also decided to renew my Beachbody-on-demand for a year, and will hopefully be starting up with morning meltdown 100 again in October.

Start the User Experience Squad program and finish up the MWO program: Well this didn’t happen either. In part due to the issues with the one dog, and therefore I spent more time working on crafts (which seems to help me control my anxiety) then I did workingon any professional development courses.

Read one to two non-fiction books: While I’ve been reading books–I haven’t finished any of them yet.

Read two to four fiction books: So, I managed to publish book reviews for My Next Play (On My Own #3) by Carrie Ann Ryan and Catnip & Curses (The Faerie Files #2) by Emigh Cannaday on the blog earlier in the month (these were two books I’d finished reading towards the end of August).

I’ve also read (but haven’t finished the reviews):

Breaking Badger (The Honey Badger Chronicles #4) by Shelly Laurenston

Yours to Keep (The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers #6) by Claudia Burgoa

No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month: I’ve done better this month in terms of honoring the challenge, and will give a breakdown on it in the next installment of my limited spending challenge check-in.

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

I’ve been spending more time outdoors, as the season is changing (technically we are in autumn now) and I want to be outside while I can. I probably should have my journal, or laptop with me and that way I can also work outside (instead of feeling slightly bad that I’m just sitting and enjoying the weather).

I’ve been really good at my evening meditation/sitting quietly as that has become critical to being able to fall to sleep at night. I think it’s a combination of the ambiance of the room (I have candles lit) and realizing the days over and what has been done is done, and what hasn’t been accomplished can wait until the next day (or week).

I’ve been keeping up with the daily gratitude entries as well—though sometimes they’re something as simple as I’m glad I don’t live in an apartment and having to walk the dog in the rain.

Craft time (start a new cross-stitch project):

I managed to finish my second cross-stitch project and have started (and am also finished with) a third cross-stitch project. I’ve found that cross-stitching is actually relaxing and seems to help me manage my anxiety and stress. Once I’m done with the third (and possibly before starting my fourth), I may try and see if I can cross-stitch with small beads or possibly take a break from cross-stitching and create some jewelry.

My second completed cross-stitch project

Work through at least one other personal/professional development course:

I started working through a little more of the write your way to freedom course, and am currently in the second module (picking a niche or niches and working on a ten to thirty day challenge). As the temperatures get cooler, and the days shorter—I will probably be spending a little more time indoors and working though various courses.

So I’d say I was probably about fifty/fifty on meeting the goals this month. Some of the goals that I didn’t hit—were computer heavy, and those were ‘missed’ because I found the weather to be nice, and spent most of it outdoors. Others that were ‘missed’ were due to scheduling and the month just having curveballs thrown constantly. But—fifty percent is better than nothing.

As I head into the last quarter of the year, I’ve realized that I need to have a slightly more focused agenda—especially in regards to trying to set up my freelance/remote/contract business. I’m going to try to accomplish this by starting my to-be-accomplished lists again, in addition to having a ‘due’ date next to the item (which may or may not correspond to the current week).

The goals for October are probably going to be similar to the ones for the past few months—but trying to be a little more focused (at least in terms of the personal/professional development goals).

Therefore the goals for October will include:

  1. 130-155,000 steps; hopefully there will be one or two walks at Boomer Lake, and a couple of walks through the neighborhood with Chaos
  2. Start my second round of Morning Meltdown 100
  3. Work on the editing/writing assignments for the MWO & finish the 6th module. Start the Business Development Federation program
  4. Read one to two non-fiction books
  5. Read two to five fiction books (have small book reviews written and published on the blog and other sites)
  6. No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month
  7. Craft time (finish the third cross-stitch project; possibly start a fourth or maybe make some jewelry)
  8. Work on updating the blog/website (finish rewriting different landing pages; aim for at least one 1500-3000 word article for each area: personal/professional development, science/medical education/communication and health/wellness [pick one or two subtopics within each to write on])
  9. Work through at least a part of another personal/professional development course (not listed above)

I also put in my ‘application’ for another freelance writing position (with the same group, but for a different project), as I wasn’t selected for the first freelance position.

I’m thinking that in terms of the ‘writing’ assignments that I’m giving myself, I’m going to create a chart/diagram that goes from things I’m totally interested in, willing to learn about, to things that I’m only semi-interested in but still willing to write about to areas that I can write about but not really interested in. I think that having a ‘scale’ on which to rate things will probably help me create content easier, but also help me find my ‘ideal’ clients/customers/businesses that I would like to partner/work with as I move forward.

Hopefully October will be a little more smooth sailing then September was (having to deal with hemolytic anemia in dogs isn’t fun), and I will be able to focus on establishing myself as a freelance/contract/remote writer instead of worrying if we’re going to be losing our dog or not.

As we move forward into the last quarter of the year and then into 2022, I hope that those that are still holding ‘out’ on getting the vaccine for whatever reason—will get it. The Pfizer shot has been granted full approval by the FDA, and any side effects are usually mild to moderate, and then for everyone to get their children vaccinated. That is truthfully the only way we’re going to see the tail end of this damn pandemic (along with masks and social distancing when needed).

So question time: what is your favorite part of fall?

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Looking ahead to the next revolution around the sun

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

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

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

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

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

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

So how am I going to do this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Working on crafts, & updating the website: Goals for the Pisces Full Moon

So the moon will be entering its latest full moon stage either tonight or tomorrow night (depending on where you are in the world). This full moon is also falling on my birthday, marking there are only ten days left in September, and then only three months left in 2021 (slowly peaking around the corner to see what may be coming towards us in 2022).

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. Well, I haven’t been too dreamy—I’ve been at times too distracted, too upset, semi-depressed, and totally irritated to the point of not getting enough done. But then again—the idea/concept of being super busy, productive, and always getting things done—that can be a determent to ones mental health. Therefore, while I may have been slightly less productive the past month (in terms of trying to get my freelance business up and running), I have been more productive in terms of managing my mental health.
  2. No, I haven’t been overly sensitive and too easily hurt. But then again—we’re still in the pandemic and I haven’t been interacting with a lot of people outside of family (and what other interactions I have had have been online, and its easy to block the trolls and haters).
  3. Nope.
  4. I’ve been getting better at meditating, or at least sitting quietly for a few minutes every night. Now the goal or challenge will be trying to introduce meditation/sitting quietly to the morning and possibly early afternoon routines as well.
  5. 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. That is something I’ve been working on correcting over the past year or so. In terms of trying to follow my dreams and hunches—I’m slowly working on moving away from the bench, and towards a more independent ‘career’ of freelance/remote/contract writing/data analysis/project and/or product management style career. This is because due to the pandemic—I think it is more important to have a career that is location independent, and semi-company independent 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”.

All of the zones are still a ‘challenge’ this year due in part to the fact that the pandemic is still going and I’m still self-isolating (even though I got my J&J shot back in April—I’m a little petrified of the delta variant). Though, even if everything had gotten under control and we weren’t in the middle of the pandemic—I still don’t have the time for romance.

As I stated last year, I’m still trying to figure out my life, and part of that is determining where I may be moving (with at least one dog), and I don’t feel like trying to start a relationship with someone knowing that I’d possibly be moving at some point in the near future. Currently I’m not around ‘human kids’ (my niece is out in California, and I haven’t gotten together with any friends that have kids in well over a year), but I am surrounded by ‘furry kids’ (three dogs and three cats) daily. Though one of those furry kids is currently at the vet’s getting numerous tests done to determine what caused her to develop hemolytic anemia. Therefore I’m going to focus on the ‘creativity’ part of the fifth house.

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time lately doing cross-stitching, as this is a nice activity that doesn’t require me to concentrate that much on it (as I’m doing more abstract designs than following a pattern) and it doesn’t cause my hands to cramp as much as knitting does.

I’m still working on stretching my crafting comfort zone (which usually encompasses photography, knitting, reading, and when I have a working sewing machine-quilting), and now can add cross-stitching to that list. Next craft that I will hopefully find as enjoyable will be jewelry design/creation.

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

  1. Continue working on my third cross-stitch project, and then also start working on creating some jewelry (bracelets and necklaces to start but maybe also some ear-rings).
  2. Start reworking various pages/tabs on the website. I have a general idea of the direction(s) I want to go in, and some pages will be combined, others will stay the same, and one or two will be renamed and/or reworked.
  3. Personal/professional development and self-reflection

There are only a few goals for this full moon period—mainly because I know that I’m going to be a little distracted (at least emotionally) until we have a ‘proper’ diagnosis and treatment plan for our one dog (who developed hemolytic anemia earlier this month). My game plan is to be productive, but at the same time realize that there may be a day or two of doing nothing but creative work—and that is fine.

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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Aquarius full moon goals: One done, the others ongoing

So we’re going to be heading into the September full moon tomorrow (which also happens to be my birthday), but before I can look ahead to the Pisces full moon—I need to look back at the goals I set for the second Aquarius full moon and see how I did with them.

My goals for the second Aquarius full moon were similar to the ones that I’d set for the first one, and they included:

The larger ‘open-ended’ goal of working on time and project management skills, by finding time for crafts, making progress on projects, and feeling accomplished at the end of the day.

The specific mini-goals within that open-ended goals included:

  1. Creating a timeline/schedule for my various writing projects that I’m coming up with
  2. Create a timeline/schedule for the rest of the bird pages for the blog
  3. Start a 30-day journaling challenge
  4. Continue working on the cross-stitch project
  5. Start working through various e-courses

Looking at this list, the only goal I managed to accomplish was the cross-stitch project. I’ve managed to finish two pieces within the past six weeks (mainly because I’ve been frustrated, irritated, and feeling down/depressed).

My second cross-stitch project: Rainbow squares. Total time for completion: three and a half weeks.

So, the other goals had a little work put into them–but I stress little. I’m playing around with how I want to combine pages, rework other pages, and so forth on the site, and those ideas are tied into the first, second, and final goal (timelines and working through other courses). The journal goal just didn’t happen again.

One of our younger dogs has just been diagnosed with hemolytic anemia and she’s back in the vets getting a second transfusion, and more tests will be getting run on tomorrow. So last week, nothing (other than working on the cross-stitch, and some minimum networking) was really completed.

I’m actually perfectly fine with the fact that most things haven’t been accomplished—because I knew that I wouldn’t be mentally functioning very well last week. While I’m still semi-depressed (especially since it isn’t looking good for our pup), I’ve also realized that I need to start getting various things done during the day/week and that I really shouldn’t spend all day working on my cross-stitch projects.

So, I’m going to try to figure out the timelines for different projects (including reworking the blog/website—I have basic ideas of how pages are either going to be combined and/or renamed/worked), and actually try to stick to the schedule. I have discovered that there are certain times of the day that I prefer doing research, or reading a small article and sharing it on different sites (after writing a brief introduction to it in my own words).

I don’t have to be busy all day, every day—but I do need to be productive. The different writing projects that I’m brainstorming are also to showcase different writing styles (technical, educational, and then communication with the general public) and to help serve as a ‘portfolio’ as I try to navigate the online freelance/remote/contract work environment.

The third quarter isn’t going the way I’d hoped—but I also know that it could be going way worse as well. The plan is to take every day as it comes, plan out what I want to get accomplished for that day (and at the beginning of the week—the week), and focus on those small tasks.

The goal of life is progress and not perfection, and no path is ever totally straight—so while it feels like I’m winding backwards on depression/anxiety, there is progress from where I was several years ago (when we were dealing with the health issues of three dogs).

Tomorrow is the Pisces full moon, and the start of another year around the sun.

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Time for personal/professional assessment & developing/modifying the daily schedule

So, we’re going to be heading into another ‘new moon’ phase this week. If you’re in North America, it will be on today (Monday, September 6th), elsewhere in the world—either today or tomorrow.

The new moon is two weeks prior to my birthday this year and the full moon will be on my birthday this year.

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

  1. Take an inventory of your life. Figure out what is working and what isn’t and then figure out what needs to change for the things that aren’t working.
  2. Be of service–help out more at work (if able), do the little things that can help make someone else’s day a little more bearable.
  3. Be healthy–see what is and isn’t working in your health and fitness routines and figure out what to fix (what new habits to start working on)
  4. Avoid nitpicking–this is where the motto “progress over perfection” really comes into play
  5. Get organized–pay bills, figure out the monthly schedule (workout, eating, so forth)–things that can make life a little bearable going forward

While most would think that the new moon would be moving through my first house (since my star sign is Virgo), it actually moving through my 11th house (or friends’ zone), since I’ve been going with my rising sign (which is Scorpio).

Looking back at what I wrote last year, I’d realized that the ‘new normal’ was possibly going to consist of social distancing, wearing a mask, and just being considerate of others. Too bad others haven’t gotten that memo yet (but that is a rant for another day).

Some of the things one can do in regards to their 11th house include:

  1. Sign up for an evening class in something you’ve always wanted to do
  2. Ask your friends to introduce you to friends of theirs you’ve never met
  3. Wish on a start every night for a month
  4. Introduce a childhood pal to a friend from your life now
  5. Say ‘Hi’ to someone you see nearly every day but never talk to
  6. Thank your best friend for being there for you

Well, some of these things still aren’t really possible due to the fact that we’re still in the middle of a pandemic (and who knows when it will get under control). Therefore, if I were to try to do something in regards to my 11th house it would be either wish on a star every night for a month, or thank my best friend for being around still. I also know that I could try to do virtual meet-ups, but that will still require me investing in a better wifi router for the house, and some drapes for one side of the room (if I decide to sit at the desk).

Prior to the pandemic, I would have a monthly lunch get together with a college classmate, but we haven’t done that since March of last year, and with the way things are going—it could easily be March of next year (or possibly 2023) before we may be able to get together for lunch again.

So, since I’ve decided to stay in semi self-isolation, my goals for the Virgo New Moon period will include:

  1. I’m going to take inventory of various aspects of life (research/writing/editing, crafts/hobbies, fitness, mental health/spirituality, and finances) and work on developing a working schedule that will allow me to be productive, but at the same time enjoy time outside as well.
  2. Continue with daily workouts (either alternate between weightlifting and shadow-boxing ro stream Morning Meltdown 100)
  3. In combination with the first goal–organize the schedule, and work at blocking out periods of time (or assign certain tasks to certain days) and see if that helps improve my productivity
  4. Work on completing the third and fourth goal from the Leo New Moon goal list
    • Determine the top five to ten types of freelance/remote/contract writing that I would like to do and start drafting examples of each. Also start drafting my ‘own’ medical content pieces.
    • Determine the top five to fifteen items/sponsors/affiliates and so-forth for the other three ‘blocks’ of my business foundation
  5. Continue with the evening meditation and start trying to incorporate them into the morning as well.

My focus moving forward has been ‘Progress over Perfection’, and while it has been a bumpy and windy road, I feel like it is now allowing me to start writing the next chapter of my life (since I’ve stopped reading the last one). I also know that I may have to take an ‘in-person’ job at some point to help make ends meet until I really can get the whole online/freelance/remote/contract writing/consulting/blogging career up and running.

No Comments AstrologycareerfitnessHealthNew Moon GoalsPersonal Developmentprofessional development