Category: Crafts

Nature’s Whispers: Day Sixteen to Twenty of Oracle Card Challenge

Today marks the twentieth day of the oracle challenge (roughly 100 or 558 days left in the challenge—or basically somewhere in between). Today also marks the ‘end’ of using the Nature’s Whispers Oracle deck for at least the next ten weeks or so. While I enjoy the deck, it’s a challenge getting a ‘story’ out of the card.

The card picked for the sixteenth day was the ‘you are worth it’ card. It is a reminder for us to accept praise and credit when it is given to us, for when we learn to be accepting we allow our true potential to blossom and shine.

You Are Worth It was drawn tonight

This is one of many things that I’m working on—accepting praise and credit. I’ve never really been one who wants to be center stage, I prefer to be slightly off to the side watching and observing. While I am proud of what I’ve managed to accomplish over the years, I’ve never really been one to talk about those accomplishments (as it always felt like bragging).

Aiming for a career change means that I need to start keeping track of various ‘accomplishments’ now so that I can use them as metrics moving forward and also as examples of work and so forth.

The card picked for the seventeenth day was the ‘ideal course of action’ card. I actually drew three cards to find the one that ‘spoke’ to me today, as I was slightly tempted to skip a day and then keep going with the challenge tomorrow. The first sentence of the summary resonated with me tonight: ‘It is easy to be overwhelmed in the planning of a new endeavor’.

Ideal course of action–at times even requires rest

I slowly going in the direction as I’ve taken a volunteer medical content writing position and had spent most of the week working on it (as I had finished the ’51 odd facts and stats about US state birds’ earlier Tuesday afternoon), plus a few other little ‘creative’ writing posts for the blog.

The main thing I need to work on—keeping my inner critic/imposter syndrome in-check so that I can continue edging into the ‘freelance/remote/contract’ medical/science education communication sector.

The card picked for the eighteenth day was the ‘contemplation’ card. This is what the past sixteen months has been spent doing in one form or another. With the way things are going I’ll continue doing this in one form or another for quite awhile.

Contemplation–something that I do consistently thanks to the pandemic

It has helped to remember my enjoyment of photography, reading, learning, and crafts. The biggest things still to conquer are time and project management, not overthinking, and aiming for good instead of ‘great or perfect’ before sharing with the world (ties back to overthinking).

The card picked for the nineteenth day was the ‘be gentle with yourself’ card. I find it fitting that this was the second card that I drew and the one that spoke to me. I am ‘technically’ two days behind schedule—but everyone needs a break every so often, and I’m back ‘on-track’. I’ve realized that even if there aren’t that many likes or comments (either here or on Instagram)—I’m actually doing this challenge more for me (getting back into a groove of posting on Instagram) than for getting ‘attention’.

Be gentle with yourself–cut yourself slack every so often.

This card is a reminder that we shouldn’t allow what has happened in the past to define our future. The past has helped to shape and mold us (to a degree), but they aren’t who we are—they’re lessons to help us figure out who we want to be.

The lessons I’ve learned have ranged from learning not to ignore my gut/intuition, that it is perfectly fine to have a different writing style than others, and that aiming for good enough is what I need to do in order to move forward and not overthink things. New adventures a wait as I slowly edge out into the freelance/remote/contract world of writing, project management, data analysis, crafts, and so forth.

The card picked for today was the ‘perfect setting’ card. It reminds us that if we want to have a goal or vision come to fruition, we need to ensure that our surroundings are allowing those ideas to flourish. It isn’t just the physical ‘surroundings’ that we need to ensure are healthy and supportive—but our mental environment as well. Positive self-talk/affirmations, being kind to yourself, and celebrating ones talents and successes—all feed into that ‘positive’ environment one needs to reach their goals or vision.

Perfect setting

I’m learning to let go of perfection, and embrace good enough to almost great. The first actual ‘project’ after a test ‘project’ is always going to be in the gray—because the guidelines may be slightly different, and it is a different ‘project’. I just turned one of these in—could it have been better, maybe—but I decided not to overthink what I wrote and after the fourth proofreading and revision emailed it to my contact. I’ll find out tomorrow what type of improvements it may need (or if they are even going to use the piece).

But I’m not going to overthink/stress on things I can’t control. What I can do is continue to research, write, blog, and time spent on crafts and other hobbies. The only way to gain experience in the freelance/remote/contract world—is to step into and embrace it.

So, in summary it is a good time to remember that once you learn to accept praise and credit when it is given—your true potential can then start to blossom. I’m slowly charting my ideal course of action (freelance/remote/contract writing/data analysis/project management/photography), while drawing on the lessons of the past (and present), practicing positive self-talk/affirmations, and celebrating my talents and successes.

You might have noticed that I’ve mentioned my inner critic/imposter syndrome or similar things through this post and the other oracle card summaries–that is because that (my inner critic/imposter syndrome) is what at times is truly holding me back from jumping into the whole career transition and change. Fear, insecurity, doubt, and all those other nasty little emotions. I’m finding that this challenge is helping me face them, taking the volunteer content writing position (and being will to submit work that is ‘good’ but not great) is helping, writing my own ‘intros’ to shared articles on LinkedIn is helping, but what is helping the most–calling out those emotions. So, while it may seem that ‘not much is getting done’–in truth I’m moving quickly, not as quickly as others–but as quickly as I can.

Tune in Friday, for the next installment as I will be choosing the next deck of cards later tonight that will go for the next two installments.

What’s your favorite oracle or tarot deck?

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Aquarius Full Moon Open-ended goal: Improving time & project management skills

So the moon has (or will be) transitioning into its full moon stage over the next day or so (or it may have already done so), depending on where you live. For me, the full moon was actually last night–so I’m probably about twelve hours late in posting my full moon goals (based on when it was ‘totally’ full). Now there are only eight days left in July, and then there will only be five months left in 2021 soon.

It’s said that time only seems to ‘speed’ up when you’re doing repetitive tasks–I guess with still self-isolating (mainly because of the delta variant and not enough people getting vaccinated), things seem repetitive (something to think on in terms of how to break).

So, with the moon transitioning through Aquarius and if one looks at the book ‘Moonology: working with the magic of lunar cycles’ by Yasmin Boland, there are a series of questions that one can reflect on during the next few days:

Have I been pragmatic to the point of losing the romance of life?

Have I been living too much in my head and not enough in my heart?

Have I been trying to do things my way, just for the sake of it?

Have I been trying to hard to befriend people and for the wrong reasons?

Have I allowed myself to move forward this month?

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

  1. Well, we’re still in the middle of the damn pandemic. While things are slowly opening up–the number of cases (due to various viral variants) are also going up. Therefore I’m not in the mood (nor the mindset) to try and date. So, yes you might say that I’m being pragmatic to the point of losing the romance of life–but I’m still alive and SARS-CoV2 free.
  2. I’ve always been more ‘analytical’ minded than ‘artistic’ minded/hearted. Though this is something that I’ve been working on, by trying to work more craft time into my schedule (though currently that has been mainly photography or color-by-number).
  3. Well, I’m still on my ‘reboot break’, so there aren’t that many options. I am thinking of starting to get serious about freelance/remote/contract work for science communication/education, photography, and possibly data analysis (and maybe even project management). In order to become successful at that–it will probably require me to blend ideas/suggestions of others into something that will work for me.
  4. I don’t think I’ve been trying to befriend people for the wrong reasons. Currently, I have to push myself to network (because while I’m leaning in the direction of freelance/remote/contract work I’m still not totally sure–therefore I’m not networking as much as I should be).
  5. I’ve moved forward a little this month, but not much. Part of the issue is that my inner critic/imposter syndrome is able to lure be back into my comfort zone with reading, color-by-numbers, and sunny but not overly hot days. I’ve realized that I need to get more accomplished during the day/week than I’ve been doing lately–I may try to take my laptop outside for an hour or so to work (on those sunny but not overly hot days), and then take a ‘mini break’ when I have to take it back into the house to charge.

Aquarius is also moving through my 4th house, or my home and family zone. This is the time when one should try to find a balance between one’s personal life and one’s career. This year things are about where they were last year–though this year there are the vaccines for the virus. But cases are going up, due to both various variants of the virus and the number of people who are refusing to get the vaccine. So my personal life and career are still ‘intertwined’ currently, since I’m home basically all day, every day still.

I’m now trying to shift my mindset and not focus so much on ‘balance’ but on ‘harmony’ between things. That is what I’m striving for–harmony, to where I can be happy with whatever choice I’m making at any particular point in the day without feeling guilty for not doing something else.

So what are the mini-goals I’m going to set for the Aquarius full moon?

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.

While that is a totally ‘open-ended’ goal, some specific mini-goals are:

  1. Create a timeline/schedule for my ‘troubleshooting tips for molecular cloning’ writing project
  2. Create a timeline/schedule for the rest of the bird pages for the blog
  3. Determine a specific time for doing the oracle card challenge (as it is–I’m currently two days behind schedule)
  4. Start a 30-day journaling challenge (find some type of inspiration on pintrest)
  5. Create one necklace and/or start a cross-stitch project
  6. Start working through various writing e-courses

Last year I’d mentioned I needed to determine the type of future I wanted instead of sitting around and going with flow. I’m leaning more towards working for myself (mainly due to the pandemic, though I won’t totally rule out going back for a ‘in-person’ job) in terms of writing, photography, crafts, project management, and maybe data analysis. As mentioned earlier–the top two ‘soft’ skills that I need to get better at for this pivot are: time and project management. It seems I end up with more things left to do than finished at the end fo the week (and month)–I know that the main culprit is poor time management (siting outside most of the afternoon, plus taking almost two hours in the morning to ‘wake-up’ before doing anything). This is something I’m working on: I can keep myself off social media (thanks to the app Self Control), but still fine tuning the rest of the day.

Progress not perfection, via small steps and even a winding path are the stepping stones to making lasting habits.

What are some of your time management tools or tricks?

No Comments AstrologyCraftsfinancesfitnessFull Moon GoalsHealthLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

Nature’s Whispers: Days Eleven to Fifteen of Oracle Card Challenge

So today marks day fifteen of the oracle card challenge, and that means there are only 105 (or 563) days left in the challenge. Today also marks the halfway point for the second deck of cards chosen: Nature’s Whispers by Angela Hartfield.

Day Eleven Oracle Card Draw

The card chosen for the eleventh day was ‘be in service’. It is a reminder to give back to the world, and while life is give and take—harmony is achieved when they’re balanced.

A kind word, holding a door, or even an email inquiring how things are going are all simple acts of being in service.

I’ve been bouncing ideas around on how to use my degree/education more and ‘be in service’ and have touched on the topic of science communication. There is a deep rift between how science is communicated between scientists and how they communicate it to the rest of the world—I want to help bridge that rift.

Day Twelve Oracle Card

The card chosen for the twelfth day was ‘higher ground’. It is a reminder that if things seem out of balance, or not going your way—all you may need is to look at it from ‘higher ground’. Sometimes we miss ‘the forest’ because we’re focused on ‘the trees’ and vice versa.

For years I’d been focused on ‘research at the bench’, that I had ‘forgotten’ that research doesn’t have to be just at the bench, but it can be done away from the bench and therefore take on various forms. I’m slowly ‘embracing’ research away from the bench, and looking for the ‘topics’ that I find interesting and enjoy.

Day Thirteen Oracle Card

The card chosen for the thirteenth day was ‘illumination’. It is a reminder that while we all have ‘guardian angels’ willing to help—we still need to believe in ourselves as well. Knowing that we are capable of achieving dreams (old or new) as long as we are willing to put in the work and believe that it is possible.

We also shouldn’t compare our journey to others—everyone has their own path to walk, and some may be ahead, some may be behind, and others may look like they’re walking along side.

While worry and fear have their places in life—one should try not to let them overwhelm. That has been a problem in the past; I’ve let worry and fear overrun my life too many times to count. Now, I simply try to acknowledge their presence, give them space and work through the emotions and the ‘blocks’.

I realize that I will be harboring these emotions frequently as I try to edge my way into a new career—one that may become full-time, or may only become part-time. While acknowledging their presence, I’m also going to work at ensuring they don’t keep me tethered to my comfort zone.

Day Fourteen Oracle Card

The card chosen for the fourteenth day was ‘make a decision’. There are times when it would be nice to turn the clock back to where the biggest decision one had to make was cereal or waffles for breakfast. It becomes difficult at times to see the variety of choices one has once that ‘degree’ is chosen in college, or when the program is decided on for graduate school.

I’ve realized one reason why I’d been a somewhat ‘passive’ player in my career—the ‘goals’ had somewhat already been mapped. Deviating from that course, now means I need to figure out what the goals, benchmarks, and milestones moving forward and that can be somewhat scary.

But I do have the wisdom to create a ‘new’ path, without totally ‘destroying’ the old—but it will take a little more time to figure out the goals, benchmarks, milestones moving forward will be, but that is also part of the fun. Creating something new, melding it with the old, and making it my own.

Day Fifteen Oracle Card

The card chosen for the fifteenth day was the ‘empowerment’ card. It is a reminder that while we can handle things as they come—sometimes it is nice to have the guidance and support of others (especially in our careers).

As we move through life (especially in our careers), we at times have to go looking for the guidance and support of others, while at other times both are always there.

Everyone says one should have mentors—both ones that you talk to (either via phone, email, or zoom), and others that you end up finding online and following their online presence.

For an introvert (with anxiety)—finding mentors that you talk to is semi-difficult, especially when you’re still trying to determine the direction that you want to go in. Finding the ‘virtual’ ones is easy, though I’m starting to go back through and ask myself ‘am I following this person because I truly find them inspiring, or am I following them because they’re the ‘person’ to follow?

This is yet another puzzle piece that I am working on figuring out the shape of, slow but steady.

These cards are slightly different from the enchanted map and others in that they ‘don’t’ tell a story, per say. What I mean by ‘story’ is that card’s meaning is general—so depending on your ‘question’ or situation the ‘story’ or outlook may differ from reading to reading.

These cards are still helping me move forward with the goal of freelance work—they’re reminding me of things that I need to work on (such as finding mentors, not letting fear and anxiety run the show, and asking for (and accepting) help when needed).

Here’s to the next five days of the Nature’s Whispers Oracle deck challenge.

I asked this question on both LinkedIn and Instagram, and only received a single answer (climate change)—so I’ll ask it here as well: what science topic do you wish was communicated better? Also who are some of your favorite people to follow (and why)?

No Comments AstrologycareerCraftsfinancesfitnessHealthjob searchingLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesno spend challengesoracle cardsPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflectionsspirituality

Proud to be a geek: ‘Celebrate your geekness day’

Today is ‘celebrate your geekness’ day, a day that was created by Wellcats Holidasy as a day about being proud of what you do, who you are, and what you’re ‘obsessed’ with. I will freely admit that I’ve always been a ‘geek’, and I’ve been proud of being a geek. While I may seem ‘quiet’ and slightly ‘unsociable’, it is more of the fact that I’m wondering what I can add to the conversation. Depending on the topic, I may either be more of an active listener or an active participant. While I am a ‘geek’ on various subjects, I also admit that some areas I’m reconnecting to, so I may not be that big of a ‘geek’ in terms of random knowledge.

I like these five reasons from ‘a big think edge’ blog post back in 2018 on why one should embrace thier inner geek:

  1. The term communicates that you are intelligent
  2. You may be more socially competent and mature than the ‘cool kids’
  3. As a geek, you are viewed in a increasingly positive way
  4. You are technically savvy and an early adopter of new technologies
  5. Geeks bring different perspectives and knowledge to the conversation

I agree with all of them, with the exception of number four–I really don’t care for updating/upgrading my electronics and such unless I either absolutely have to, or the update/upgrade has something really going for it.

So what are things that I consider myself a ‘geek’ about?

Hobbies such as:

Birds (and bird watching)

Photography

Reading (fiction, especially romance)

Knitting and other crafts

Being outdoors, gardening and nature

Learning, especially on topics related to:

Science

History

Geography

Archaeology

Anthropology

Paleontology

My pets

What am I currently learning or teaching myself?

Python coding, cross-stitching, jewelry making, and brushing up on subjects such as intellectual protperty and clinical trials.

What are my end goals?

Continuous learning, finding harmony between ‘work’ and ‘everything else’, and bridging the communication gap beteen the scientific community and the general public.

What is one scientific topic that you wished was communicated better?

No Comments bird watchingBookscareerCraftsfinancesfitnessHealthHistoryLifestyle ChallengesnatureNature Preservesoracle cardsoutdoorsPersonal DevelopmentPetsPhotographyprofessional developmentRandom Celebration DaysReflectionsSciencespiritualitytravel

Reflecting on June’s goals. Now on to the third quarter and second half of 2021

So, the year is officially halfway over–there are only 184 days left in 2021. It seems like yesterday it was December 2020 and March 2021 all wrapped up in one. While there are vaccines rolling out to deal with the SARS-CoV2 virus, the virus is also mutating at a good rate–so I will probably still be self-isolating through the summer and into the fall (especially until I hear how the J&J vaccine does against the delta variant). There is yet another variant of the virus that is starting to become the more dominant one (delta), and we’re finding out that even if you have had the vaccine–you could still contract the virus (and still possibly die from it as well). It will be interesting to see what type of numbers/spike in cases we’re going to have moving towards fall.

I’m truthfully trying to stay away from the news right now for the most part (I’m getting really tired of all the irritating/disturbing news in the world), and I’m fully aware that by doing so, I’m exercising my ‘white privilege’. Since we’ve managed to vaccine a decent percentage of the US population, we’re not seeing an overwhelming number of new cases each month. We’re still seeing new cases, but the numbers are on the low side. When I published ‘May in Review’, I noted that the US was at a little over 34.1 million cases, and now the US is at a little over 34.5 million cases (an increase of less than half a million new cases). I’m worried though that the numbers are going to start going up again, since it is summer, there is a new variant becoming dominant, and those who are un-vaccinated may still refuse to get their shots. Also, I’m going to be listening to the World Health Organization–they’re telling people that even if you’re fully vaccinated you should still be wearing a mask, especially with the delta variant gaining ground.

So before looking ahead to July (the start of the third quarter, and the second half of the year; plus a new set of goals and plans), I should also look at the goals I set for June and see how I did with each of them.

The goals for June included:

At least 130-150,000 steps

Continue with LIIFT4

Read at least one non-fiction book and post the review

Read at least two fiction books and hopefully post the reviews

Start (and hopefully finish) the Intellectual Property Pack course, and work on the writing/editing assignments for the MWO

No spend days/No spend weeks/limited spending month–honor the limited spending challenge

Time outdoors and meditation/sitting quietly

Start (and hopefully finish) at least one other e-course

Craft time

So how did I do with each of them?

130-150,000 steps: I managed to meet the minimum step goal (130,000 steps), and was just under the 150,000 goal for the month. My final number of steps for June were 149,009. Since we’re in summer–the temperatures hit the 90s with high humidity (which put the heat index in the low 100s), so I only managed a single full walk, plus a partial walk up at Boomer Lake this month. I’m going to have to figure out ways of getting the steps in around the house since the weather doesn’t look to be cooperating with me this summer.

Continue LIIFT4: I have been continuing with LIIFT4, though I decided to follow the lifting schedule on my own. Instead of trying to stream the workouts each morning, I simply put on some upbeat music and lift weights. I may not be doing the exercises in the ‘correct’ order–but it’s my order and the workout gets done.

Read at least one non-fiction book and post the review: I have managed to actually finish three books this month, and reviews have been posted on the blog for the first two (I’m currently working on the third book review). The three books that I’ve read were:

‘The Financial Diet’ by Chelsea Fagan

’25 Ways to Work from Home’ by Jen Ruiz

‘Write to Speak’ by Mike Acker

Read at least two fiction books and post reviews: I’ve managed to read three fiction books, but have only gotten a review written over the first one (the other two are on my to-do list). The books that I read were:

‘My Rebound’ (On My Own #2) by Carrie Ann Ryan

‘How Much I Love’ (Miami Nights #3) by Marie Force

‘As We Are’ (The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers #5) by Claudia Burgoa

Start (and hopefully finish) the Intellectual Property Pack course, and work on the writing/editing assignments for the Medical Writers Organization:

I managed to start and finish the Intellectual Property Pack program offered by the Cheeky Scientist Association. While I found the course interesting (and didn’t realize that there are people who deal with trademarks and copyrights daily), I’m not sure if it is a path I’m going to be pursuing. While I will be talking more about this in another post, the basic reason for me being leery of the field–is the standardized test you have to take to become an accredited patent agent.

I’m slowly working through the writing/editing assignments for the Medical Writers Organization. I decided to start with the editing assignments first, and I’m currently ~two-thirds of the way done with that assignment. I may go back and rework one of my answers though. I’m hoping to finish the assignments (and course) during the third quarter of the year.

No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month–honor the limited spending challenge

I was able to basically honor the limited spending challenge this month. I did a single large purchase from amazon mid-month for books that will hopefully be serving as reference books for a story idea. While I did purchase a few e-books throughout the month, it hasn’t been to the same extent that I did during March, April, or May.

Time outdoors and meditation/sitting quietly:

The amount of time spent outdoors this past month depended heavily on the weather. We had really hot and humid weather at the beginning of the month, and then really wet and rainy weather towards the end of the month.

I only missed one meditation night earlier in the month, and I learned that even sitting for a minute or two focusing on my breath at night does help me sleep better. When I decide not to do that exercise–my sleep suffers and I have a harder time staying asleep throughout the night.

Start (and hopefully finish) at least one other e-course

In addition to going through the Intellectual Property Pack program, I also watched a short e-course via skillshare on punctuation. This is one that I may go back and re-watch every so often just as a refresher. While I’m fairly good at understanding and using most punctuation marks–the comma and semi-colon are ones that I’m probably misusing from time to time.

Craft time:

So I’ve been trying to slowly move away from my go-to ‘craft time projects’ of doing the color-by number app on my Kindle. Therefore I’m slowly working other crafts into my day. I have semi-doodle an cross-stitch pattern, but have also decided that the my ‘first real trial piece’ is going to be a mixture of geometric designs and trying to see how may colors I can use. I have some ideas for necklaces and bracelets–I just haven’t gotten around to actually creating them yet.

I would say that I managed to reach about eighty percent of my goals for June. With the way the weather is going–I may be falling back on my old ‘step making’ method of putting on a movie and marching in place/circles and getting the steps that way. I realize that finding the dedicated time for crafts and the more computer intensive work will require me actually setting aside time in the day to focus on those items (goals for the third quarter).

As we move into the third quarter and second half of 2021, I’m going to be slowly focusing a little more on how to create that ‘new career’ that will hopefully be a mix of freelance/remote/contract/online/consulting and blogging/photography/writing/crafts–in other words trying to find that harmony between personal and professional interests.

Therefore the domain (web address) of the site may change (I have two ideas bouncing around in my head and might put them up for a vote on LinkedIn and/or Facebook) at some point this month. The content won’t change that much–there will be additional pages added, and possibly a few more science/humanities related blog posts but that currently will be the extent of the ‘changes’ at least for 2021.

Therefore my goals for July 2021 will include:

135-155,000 steps, since we’re entering the ‘dog days of summer’ and the fact that it may be too hot for weekly walks, I will be figuring out an alternative method for reaching daily step goals.

Finishing LIIFT4 and starting my second round of Morning Meltdown 100

Read one to two non-fiction books (and write small reviews)

Read two to three fiction books (and write small reviews)

Finish up the editing assignments (and start the writing assignments) for MWO, and watch the first few videos in module one of the Regulatory Affairs Council program

No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month

Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude entries in the journal

Craft time (start the cross-stitch project and possibly create at least one necklace)

Work through at least one other personal/professional development e-course

Start back at refreshing Spanish (30-45 minutes a day, two to three days a week)

These goals are more or less the same as last month, but again–that is how they become habit, you keep doing them until you no longer really think about them, and then you can go to ‘new goals/habits’ and keep repeating those and so on.

These are in addition to other goals that I’m going to be developing to help push that ‘new career’ forward. I will share those later when I do an update on how my second 12-week year is going. These goals help me focus on my health (physical and mental), that I have the had habit of not looking after when I get laser-focused on something else. So, until I make these habits stick (so that no matter how laser-focused I am on something else, I keep doing them)–I will be repeating them in some variation over and over again until they’re habit.

The first half of 2021 is over, and it has helped me slowly start laying the foundation for creating an ‘online’ career and presence. Moving forward, I now need to figure out how to slowly start ‘standing out’ in that crowd, but at the same time stay multi-facet (so I don’t lose interest and get bored).

2021–will be the year of growth, creativity, curiosity, happiness, and prosperity.

Random question: What are some of your favorite business podcasts to listen to??

No Comments BooksCraftsfinancesfitnessHealthMonth in Reviewno spend challengesPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

Reviewing my first attempt at a 12-week year

So I realized that I haven’t posted much this week and that is due in part to it being the end of the second quarter and I’m deep in the reflection zone–looking back at what I had hoped to get accomplished over the past three months and then what I had actually managed to get accomplished.

With today marking the last day of June, the second quarter, and the first half of 2021–I decided that I would reflect on my first actual attempt of a ’12-week year’. If you’ve never heard of a ’12-week year’, I highly recommend reading the book: ‘The 12 Week Year: Get more done in 12 weeks than others do in 12 months’ by Brain P. Moran and Michael Lennington.

I actually read ‘The 12 Week Year’, last year prior to the world going into lock down due to the pandemic (click on the link and it will take you to my mini-review and reflection post from last year). Over the past year and a half, I’ve tried to plan a ’12-week year’ but have always fallen short of the goal. My problem: putting too many items on the calendar or plate, and not having a good breakdown of weekly or monthly goals.

Therefore, this year I decided to merge that idea with an suggestion from another book. The other book is ‘The Renaissance Soul: How to make your passions your life–a creative and practical guide’ by Margaret Lobenstine, and her suggestion was creating focal points to focus on for whatever set period of time you wanted.

I then created a ‘central’ focal point of crafting a ‘new career’ that would be focused on freelance/remote/contract/online/consulting/blogging work allowing me to have flexibility in creating my own schedule and would also be semi-location independent.

From there I created four other focal points that would help me start ‘crafting’ that career and they were/are:

Professional Development (with specific sub-items/topics):

  1. Continuous Learning
  2. Networking
  3. Brand Development and Management
  4. Digital Marketing
  5. Graphic Design
  6. Writing

Personal Development (with specific sub-items/topics):

  1. Continuous Learning
  2. Physical space (developing my own definition/style of minimalism)
  3. Financial health (savings, budgeting, investing, retirement, multiple streams of income)

Health (with specific sub-items/topics):

  1. Mental health (focusing on emotional and spiritual health)
  2. Physical health (getting into the best shape of my life)

Hobbies (with specific sub-items/topics):

  1. Photography
  2. Reading
  3. Writing
  4. Crafts
    • Knitting
    • Cross-stitching
    • Jewelry design/creation
    • Painting
    • Crochet

So while these focal points all seem a little ‘weird’ and you may be wondering how they work together–they’re the four points I’d decided on earlier when I was figuring out what I needed to focus on to work my way out of my ‘burnout’ hole/pit/slump. I realized that I couldn’t just focus on personal/professional development without also focusing on my health and hobbies. They all need to be listed as a reminder, not to hyper-focus in one direction (when I do that–everything else tends to suffer).

It is suggested within ‘Renaissance Soul’ that you only have four to five focal points, and then no more than four or five goals for each focal point. I’m still working on the ‘makers’ for the central focal point, but for the other four I drafted four to five goals for each that I had hoped to get accomplished during the second quarter.

Those goals included:

Within professional development:

  1. Finishing the CSA courses: Medical Writers Organization and Clinical Research Coalition
  2. Starting to learn python programming
  3. Continuing to read and share science news articles on LinkedIn and Twitter
  4. Continuing to add value and network on LinkedIn
  5. Starting (and hopefully finishing) another CSA advance course

Within personal development:

  1. Continue refreshing my Spanish with the Mondly app
  2. Read two non-fiction books a month
  3. Work through various personal finance courses
  4. Develop my vision of ‘minimalism’
  5. Start looking into second income stream ideas

Within health:

  1. Finish the following programs: CIZE, 21-Day Fix Live, 21-Day Fix Extreme Live and then start third round of LIIFT4
  2. Daily meditation
  3. Oracle card drawings (weekly, but hopefully daily)
  4. Cook Monday & Tuesday dinners–new recipes hopefully monthly

Within hobbies:

  1. At least one walk a week at Boomer Lake with my camera (photography)
  2. Read two fiction books a month
  3. Design at least one bracelet/necklace set
  4. Doodle a cross-stitch design

So how did I do with each area?

Professional development goals:

  1. I completed the Clinical Research Coalition program, along with the Intellectual Property Pack program. These are two of the many advanced professional development programs offered by the Cheeky Scientist Association.
  2. I’m still working through the writing and editing assignments for the Medical Writers Organization program. I’m hoping to have those finished sometime during the third quarter of the year.
  3. There may have been a couple of days scattered throughout the quarter that I didn’t share articles on LinkedIn or Twitter–but I try to share at least one article a week (preferably an article a day). I’ve been doing better at this, since I created a separate tracking sheet for this goal.
  4. I’ve been slow in networking lately, as I’m trying to semi-narrow my broad ‘career’ area. Therefore I may only send a connection request once a week, and may also only accept an connection request every few days. I have been also trying to be better at commenting on other people’s posts as well.
  5. I haven’t started learning python, even though I’ve bought several e-courses on the subject. I even have a ‘new’ laptop set aside for this very task–I just need to download python (and possibly one or two other apps), and set aside at least 30 minutes a day to ‘learning’ the program and language.

I would say that I managed to accomplish three and a half out of the five goals–giving me a score of roughly seventy percent.

In terms of personal development:

  1. I haven’t been keeping up with refreshing my Spanish, even though I had been doing a decent job of it at the beginning of the year.
  2. I have been reading non-fiction books, and it probably averages out to one and a half to two books a month, and the books read were:
    • ‘The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living’ by Meik Wiking
    • ‘Permission to Screw Up: How I learned to lead by doing (almost) everything wrong’ by Kristen Hadeed
    • ’25 ways to work from home’ by Jen Ruiz
    • ‘Write to Speak’ by Mike Acker
    • ‘The Financial Diet’ by Chelsea Fagan
  3. I’m still slowly developing my ‘vision’ of minimalism. I know some of the area that I wan to minimize: clothing, DVDs/Cds, and knick-knacks. I also know that since I’m a learner at heart and a bookworm–I’m always going to have a large number of books around me. Since I’m also a crafter–I’m also going to have a good number of craft supplies around me as well. As long as I can balance things out-to where I won’t feel like I’m living in an overly cluttered hole, I’ll be happy. By limiting the items around em, and trying to keep things organized and ‘clean’–I’m also finding it helps alleviate my anxiety and depression as well.
  4. I haven’t worked through any of the personal finance courses that I’ve bought over the years yet.
  5. In terms of looking into the second income stream idea–I think I should have ‘rewritten’ it as looking into both first and second income ideas. I know that there are numerous ways of earning extra cash, and I had been doing a few of them: filling out surveys and selling used DVDs–I just haven’t done either of them lately (due in part to the pandemic).

I would say that I managed to hit about a fifty-five percent on personal development goals. Two were close to zero, but other three had at least some ‘footwork’ done on each of them.

For the health goals:

  1. I did finish my first round of CIZE, but only made it through a week of 21-Day fix live before deciding to concentrate more on intentional movements before starting up my third round of LIIFT4. While I’ve done 21-Day Fix and 21-Day Fix extreme before, this would have been the first time doing the ‘live’ versions. While I like the program–the reason why I called it ‘quits’ before finishing is that I’m trying to improve my relationship with food, and quit the whole diet/counting calories/macros/restricting food mindset. That type of nutritional advice is given a lot through both programs. So until I’m on a better footing with my relationship to food, I’m going to avoid workout programs that also focus heavily on the diet mindset.
  2. I have managed to do evening meditations for the most part. I may only be focus on my breathing for a minute or two–but those two minutes are essential for being able to have a good night sleep.
  3. I’ve been doing evening oracle card drawings, even if I haven’t been sharing them on social media or even writing about them in the journal. That is something I’m aiming at changing–both starting to share more (maybe an 100-day challenge), and journaling about them (possibly weekly blog posts?).
  4. In terms of cooking dinner twice a week–I’ve been doing this, though there may be a night or two where it was decided we’d have leftovers, or grill (which I don’t do), or whatever. But for the most part, I have found several new recipes that are now in the rotation for Monday and Tuesday night suppers. I’m also going to be looking for more ‘summer’ dinner recipes as well–different salads, and so forth.

I would say that I met seventy-five to eighty percent of my health goals for the second quarter. Each one was met at least partially(since there were a few days that I may have missed my meditation time or oracle card drawings).

In terms of my hobbies:

  1. I think I only made it maybe once or twice a month up to Boomer Lake with my camera. The weather was partially to blame–it has either been rainy and/or overcast, or the temperatures and heat index have been a little too high for my liking for walks. I also haven’t been getting up as early in the mornings as I use to in order to be able to get to the lake to watch the sun rise.
  2. I have managed to read quite a few fiction books over the past three months and they include the following:
    • My One Night (On My Own #1) by Carrie Ann Ryan
    • State of Affairs (First Family #1) by Marie Force
    • Tempted by Love: Jack “Jock” Steele (The Steeles at Silver Island #1) by Melissa Foster
    • My True Love: Jules Steele (The Steeles at Silver Island #2) by Melissa Foster
    • Love Under Two Warriors (Lusty, Texas #42) by Cara Covington
    • Ride Out the Storm (SSI #6.5) by Monette Michaels
    • Wild and Loving (Slick Rock #33) by Becca Van
    • My Rebound (On My Own #2) by Carrie Ann Ryan
    • How Much I Love (Miami Nights #3) by Marie Force
    • As We Are (The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers #5) by Claudia Burgoa
  3. While I have several ideas for necklace/bracelet sets, I haven’t actually gotten around to creating any of them.
  4. I have semi-doodle or drawn a cross-stitch pattern. I’m also thinking that my first ‘real practice’ piece is going to be seeing how many geometrical shapes I can fit on it, and if I can use every single color of thread at least once.

I would say that I managed to to meet about half my goals in terms of hobbies, the only one that I totally didn’t get close to was the jewelry design/creation. I managed to get at least a monthly walk in at Boomer, slowly attempting to teach myself cross-stitch, and reading (at least fiction) has never been a problem.

So I ranged from about fifty to seventy-five/eighty percent on my goals for the second quarter, and if I added them all u–over all I probably averaged about sixty percent.

Not great, but not bad for my first ‘official’ trial at a 12-week year. I know the areas that I need to focus more on (mainly the computer intensive goals). These will simply require setting aside actual time in the day dedicated to those specific tasks. I won’t try to do each one daily, but will aim for at least two-to-three times a week for each and slowly work up to daily work on each of them.

I knew that my first trial wasn’t going to be perfect–but that wasn’t my goal: my goal was progress, seeing if I could stretch my comfort zone a little more each month and branch out in different areas.

I managed to do that in terms of professional development, learning some of the basics of both clinical research and intellectual property. I think it would be interesting doing data analysis for clinical research (but I wouldn’t want to be the person overseeing numerous clinical sites), and I will be looking in to different aspects of intellectual property (mainly copyrights and trademarks), as I don’t see myself trying to climb the ladder on the patent side of things.

While reading has never been a problem–it is more of ensuring that I’m in the ‘proper’ mindset for reading non-fiction, as it tends not be quite the ‘story’ that fiction books are, and I at times lose interest fast.

I’m developing my own sense of health/fitness and will be deciding soon if keeping my Beachbody on demand subscription is worth it or not. I’ve decided that it is time to honor my body and what it is actually capable of doing–that means substituting in exercises for the different lunges, working on trying to do a normal pushup (and forgetting about tricep pushups), and just shaking my head and sitting out the tricep dips.

Moving into the third quarter of the year, the goals for the four focal points will be semi-similar to the goals set for the second quarter.

Third quarter goals will include:

Professional Development:

  1. Finish up the following CSA programs: Medical Writers Organization and then either Government Careers Union or Regulatory Affairs Council
  2. Finish the following short courses on Udemy:
    • 15 errors in scientific writing and how to fix them
    • How to become a freelance editor
    • Kickstart a freelance editor and proofreader career on Upwork
    • How to be a journalist
  3. Start learning python coding by working through the following courses:
    • Data Science for beignners: Hand on Python (on Udemy)
    • Complete Python course (on StackSkills)
  4. Continue reading and sharing science news on LinkedIn and Twitter
  5. Continue adding value and networking on Linkedin

Bonus Professional Development activities:

  1. Write and publish: ‘Trouble-shooting tips for Molecular Cloning’
  2. Write and publish: ‘Polymerases: why the native ‘reverse transcriptase’ isn’t a problem for the SARS-CoV2 mRNA vaccine’ (Title may change)
  3. Work through the copywriting e-course: Write Your Way to Freedom

Personal Development Goals:

  1. Set aside 30-45 minutes (two to three days a week) for refreshing Spanish
  2. Read one to two non-fiction books a month
  3. Work through the following e-courses:
    • The complete personal finance course (on Udemy)
    • Reinvent your career (on Udemy)
    • How to work for yourself (on Udemy)
    • Freelance writing 101: build a successful writing career (on SkillShare)
    • Content marketing: blogging for growth (on SkillShare)
    • Writing and blogging with passion: create a flexible editorial plan and calendar (on SkillShare)
  4. Continue developing my vision of ‘minimalism’
  5. Start trying to ‘draft’ first/second and possibly third stream of income ideas (more tied to professional)

Health goals:

  1. Finish LIIFT4 (basically around the 23rd) and then start Morning Meltdown 100 (will go from 7/26/21 to 11/2/21)
  2. Daily meditation and oracle card reading/drawings
  3. Work through the following courses:
    • Mindfulness for Anxiety (on Udemy)
    • Learn Tarot in a Day (on Udemy)
    • Explicit Tarot: Learn Tarot Card Reading through Story Telling (on Udemy)
  4. Start a daily gratitude entry in the journal
  5. New recipes at least once a week/month

Hobby Goals:

  1. At least one walk a month at Boomer Lake, and maybe start trying food photography as well
  2. Work through the following courses:
    • Food Photography (on StackSkills)
    • How to create an engaging food post (on SkillShare)
    • How to start a creative business through blogging for beginners (on SkillShare)
  3. Read at least two to three fiction books a month
  4. Continue to doodle/draw/sketch cross-stitch patterns and create the geometric/multi-colored ‘trial’ piece
  5. Design/create necklace and/or bracelets–individually or as sets.

You might have noticed that I have quite a few e-courses down for the third quarter compared to second. We’re entering the ‘dog days of summer’–where it will either be too hot, too humid, or both in terms of being outdoors for extended periods of time. Therefore, I’m planning those days now–instead of wondering what to do when I reach them.

I still need to break these goals down into monthly and then weekly goals (in addition to other goals I’ll have for each week). My main goal for the third quarter is to meet at least seventy-five to eighty percent of each set of goals, with an overall percentage foal of eighty percent (meaning by the end of September I’ve accomplished at least four out of the five goals).

Have you done a 12-week year before? If you have–how long have you been doing them? And what is your running average of goal completion?

No Comments BookscareerCraftsfinancesfitnessHealthLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesno spend challengesoracle cardsPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentReflectionsspiritualityUpdates

How to stay ahead of the inner critic and boredom? Create an personal/professional development board game.

So while contemplating on how to really start stepping into the stretch, risk, and die zones more often–I decided to jump right into the ‘risk’ zone and created a personal board game.

I’m thinking of it as a mix of chutes-and-ladders, trivia pursuit, and life. Why these three? Well, there are squares to move forward or back a certain number of spots (or even boards), covers/reviews numerous subjects (though I do admit it does lack sports and entertainment), and it is never-ending (though even the game of life ended after awhile).

My never-ending personal and professional development game

These are topics that I find interesting in the sciences and humanities (though some are missing), in addition to numerous personal development ideas and projects. I taped the two boards into a normal file folder so that I can folded it up and take it with me even on trips, without it getting damaged.

The goals for the game include:

  1. Learning to turn some items (such as writing, learning programming, and refreshing a foreign language) into daily habits.
  2. Learning more about various job directions (and how to possibly meld some of them together).
  3. And finally: embracing the learner mindset in terms of both multiple science and non-science topics, by refreshing my knowledge of the topics and learning what is ‘new’ in the different fields.

I will accomplish these goals by becoming more proficient in time and project management as shown by creating/writing multiple styles of web content, increased traffic to the blog/website, posts written in additional languages, and an up-to-date GitHub account for example.

There are only a few rules for the game:

  1. No quitting.
  2. If I decide that I want to ‘jump/skip’ a square that I landed on, I have to answer the following questions first:
    1. Why am I avoiding this topic/subject?
    2. Where is this belief (or beliefs) coming from?
    3. What can I do to slowly start in on the topic/subject?

Yes, ‘read’ is down quite often–but since I’m an impulsive book buyer, I have almost 300 non-fiction e-books that I’ve bought over the past five years that I haven’t read yet.

I also discovered that my inner critic/imposter syndrome was trying to ‘derail’ me from starting the game. How, you may ask? By trying to ‘convince’ me that I needed to have a list of topics on hand for anything that had ‘review’ with it on the board. After starting to make a list for both biochemistry and immunology, I realized what was happening.

I decided that I would then add the following ‘rules’:

After landing on a ‘review subject’ square, I would roll the dice again–this would give me a ‘time limit’ (in either hours or minutes) for coming up with a starting list of possible sub-topics to review.

This should be easy enough to do–Google ‘textbook of ‘x’ subject’ and you can usually find a link to at least one textbook that will let you look at the table of contents.

I will then roll the dice again, and the number will hopefully correlate to a topic number. If there is currently no topic to correlate the number to, I will roll until I get a number.

Then I will roll the dice a final time to come up with the ‘time frame’ for the assignment.

All squares will be landed on at one point or another, as there is no ‘end’ to the game. The time frame for each square will vary (even within the topic), and I should hopefully not be ‘sitting’ on a square for more than say three weeks (as that is how long it usually takes to make something a habit), though it may be shorter (as long as I have the topic worked into the weekly schedule and I now to move it over each week).

In terms of the reading squares–if the book doesn’t have any exercises/questions associated with the chapters, I’m going to give myself four to five (no more than six) days to read the book, and then additional two days (max) to write and post the book review to both the blog and possibly Amazon as well. If there are questions/assignments associated with the book then the time frame might go towards two or three weeks.

I started the game last night, and landed on a ‘read’ square. I rolled the dice again to determine the book to pick from the list, and it was ‘The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living’ by Meik Wiking. Since there doesn’t seem to be any exercises/questions associated with the book–I picked another book from the list to start once I have the book review for ‘Little Book of Hygge’ posted, and therefore I will probably rolling the dice for the ‘second’ move on the board around June 4th or so.

What are some of your favorite board games?

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Stretching the comfort zone by introducing the bounce zone

So I decided earlier this month to ‘update’ my comfort zone diagram, as it had been almost three months since I drew the first one. Then it took several days to decide what to ‘write and share’ about it, as there is a ‘character limit’ for a LinkedIn post versus a LinkedIn article (and I’m not quite up to ‘writing’ personal/professional development LinkedIn articles yet).

Luckily, that (character limit) isn’t really a problem with blog posts. So, this post is an expansion of the LinkedIn post that I did earlier in the week.

First comfort/stretch/risk/die diagram

Looking at the first diagram and reflecting/pondering on what could be moved around in the various zones, I realized that I actually needed to add a zone–the bounce zone.

This is the zone/area of things that I’m doing on a somewhat consistent basis, but they haven’t become ‘comfortable habits’ yet.

Introducing the bounce zone……

When I looked at the newest version of the diagram I realized several things:

  1. The professional development area hasn’t been ‘stretched’ as much as the personal development area
  2. I’ve unintentionally allowed my inner critic/imposter syndrome to run the show for the last month or so by falling into overthinking and the analysis/paralysis loop
  3. I’ve been uncomfortable with the fact that I’m still unsure of the direction(s) I want to go in terms of my job transition
  4. I’m also still slightly uncomfortable sharing the fact that I have a blog up and running

These realizations had me looking back at this quote that I had highlighted in ‘How to be everything: A guide for those who (still) don’t know what they want to be when they grow up’ by Emilie Wapnick:

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

Re-reading that quote had me realizing the following:

  1. While I can’t control how others perceive (or like) my blog or writing style(s), I can control how I react.
  2. I won’t know if a particular direction will work in terms of a job transition, unless I investigate them more (which means getting out of the comfort zone)
  3. I am making progress forward, even if it looks like baby-steps or crawling to the outside world–progress is being made.

Therefore with summer around the corner–it is time that I start getting more comfortable with being uncomfortable (I can even start small, since baby steps are better than large leaps). I fully acknowledge that not everyone will like what I’ve written (or how I write) or even how I have the blog/website set up, but I need to continue in my ‘lane’ to find my ‘tribe’.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks has been overthinking–thinking about the various learning curves (for new subjects), the vast amount of information (for any subject), and wondering how to break everything down into easier to handle goals.

Therefore I’m slowly creating a multi-prong/step approach to continuing to stretch the comfort zone, while dealing with my inner critic/imposter syndrome.

The multi-prong step/approach is going to include the following:

  1. I’m creating a ‘bingo-like’ card that has different items listed. I’m saying ‘bingo-like’ in the fact that I’ve expanded it from a 5×5 grid to a 7×8 grid with no free space. The columns will be numbered 1-8, and the rows will be 1-7
  2. Each square will either contain a book to read, or a topic to investigate (or review). There will be two fitness squares–one will be automatically selected as a ‘continual square’ for the time frame needed to complete the listed programs.
  3. I will be making use of multi-sided dice (more than 1-6) for picking ‘squares’ to focus on
  4. I’m slowly creating the ‘rules’ for the game
  5. Once a square has been completed, I’ll stamp it with the check-mark stamp I bought earlier this year.

A longer (more fleshed out) post will be up by the end of the week on the ‘game’ after I get everything figured out and ‘finalized’

As I mentioned yesterday with my update on my 100+ goals, the name of the blog/website will probably be changing come fall/winter when I have a better idea of the direction(s) that I’m headed in both in terms of personal/professional development and online services that I can provide to the greater public.

Have you done the comfort/stretch/risk/die diagram before? How long did it take you to draw your first one? How often do you look back at it and revise it?

No Comments careerCraftsfinancesfitnessHealthLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesno spend challengesPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentReflectionsspiritualitytravelUpdates

Check-in on the 100+ goal challenge. 300 Days in, progress is slow but steady

So, it is time for my 3rd check-in on my latest attempt on my take of the 101 goals challenge. If you haven’t heard of this challenge, it goes something like this–you make a list of 101 things that you would like to get accomplished in 1001-days. You then should periodically check-in with your list to see how you’re doing with the various goals on the list. I’ve tried to do the 101 goals in 1001-days several times, but usually ended up quitting after a few months (mainly due to forgetting to check-in with my list on a fairly consistent basis).

I decided to modify the challenge to where I have a longer list of things I’d like to get accomplished, and I basically doubled the time frame (so instead of 1001-days or 2.7 years, I’m trying 2002-days or roughly 5.5 years). I decided to double the time frame mainly because of the SARS-CoV2 pandemic is still going on, and therefore quite a few of my goals are actually on ‘hold’ until I feel like it is safe to travel again.

While I got my vaccine in early April (the Johnson’s & Johnson’s 1 & done shot), I decided that I’m still going to shelter in place through the summer and into the fall–I’m curious to see what type of ‘spikes’ the US will be seeing this summer/fall due to summer vacation and travel starting to pick up again. In addition I’m still working on figuring out what my ‘new’ normal is going to be looking like.

So, now it is time to look at the goals and see how I’m progressing in the different areas.

Professional development and career:  On-going

            1. Transition into an industry position (probably remote/online or freelancing at this point to start); there will be several posts on this goal

            2. Learn a programming language (python or R—ties in with #6)—going to go with python to begin with.

            3. Finish various e-courses that I’ve bought, but in particular:

                        4. Clinical Research Coalition—only have a little over one module left for this program (I think it’s like 13 videos and two tests).

                        5. Medical Writers Organization—need to finish the writing/editing assignments

                        6. Data Scientist Syndicate—Finished September 3rd 2020

                        7. Project Management Consortium

                        8. Management Consulting Firm

                        9. Intellectual Property Pack

                        10. Regulatory Affairs Council

                        11. All other courses—see additional lists in the journal.

                                    Decided that to make things a little easier—I will have a list of courses that I would like to finish in 2021, and if I manage to finish all of those, then I will go back to the major lists in the journal.

            12. More interacting on Linkedin—Hard to score these, I’m doing the best with #13; though I have started doing my own posts—mainly photographs and quotes; need to start working more on the other 2 (especially the giving/asking for recommendations).

                        13. Sharing articles from various biotech pages, and other science pages

                                    Managing to do this at least two to five days a week.

                        14. Commenting on posts

                                    Trying to get better at this.

                        15. Giving/Asking for recommendations—need to start doing

                        16. Start writing my own posts

                                    I’m slowly dipping my toe into the world of LinkedIn publishing, but usually by posting a picture or a motivational quote to begin will. My two best posts have been the comfort/stretch/risk/die diagram posts. The first one had 1,934 views, 36 reactions, and 12 comments over a two month period, while the second post has had 7,602 views, 46 reactions, and 27 comments over the past 4 days. I will be posting the updated comfort diagram possibly tomorrow here on the blog as well.

            17. Creating monthly/weekly/daily calendars for above goals—trying to get better at the editorial or to-do-list calendars.

            18. Renew professional memberships—Need to pick just one or two currently to renew; can’t do all at once.

Both Personal and Professional Development—still working on all of these

            19. Become fluent in Spanish—Started to use the app Mondly for refreshing my Spanish, though I haven’t been that active with the app for the past month or so. Need to try to spend at least 30-45 minutes 5 days a week on this.

            20. Become fluent in German

            21. Become proficient in French, Norwegian, or Swedish

22. Read at least 300 personal/professional development books; this will include books from my previous attempts at 1001-day challenges as well. I have over 300 books on the list, and I would like to get through at least 100 of them before I keep adding to the list.

This is actually going to be reformatted and the number slightly lowered. I’ve decided to go with say reading ~30-40 non-fiction books a year. With counting previous years in to the running total I’ve read: 2018-2020 (73, though I considered 12 of them to be “reference” on a topic). I’ve also finished 7 books so far in 2021).

This means that to reach the 300 total I need to read another 220 books over 1702 days.

While I decided to try to not add any new books to the list–I probably have added in another five to ten books over the past two months or so.

            23. Finish the books on scientific writing

            24. Start building up a portfolio of work (writing/data analysis/plus other ideas)

            25. Develop a daily writing habit (tied with several goals below)

            26. Write a letter to my future self

Personal development and hobbies—started a few, but need to also start in on others as well

            27. Paint and frame at least one original painting

            28. More photographyWith the weather warming up, I’m hoping to do at least a weekly walk up at Boomer Lake (weather permitting); and updating/adding pages

                        29. 365-Day Challenge (aim for 365 different pictures)—have started this challenge again, though it isn’t going at a consecutive 365 days.

                        30. Update photography pages on blog

                                    I’ve been adding pages to the bird tab on the website, and have been aiming to add at least one new species page a week (with pictures). The other pages added would be information on the bird order and bird family (with pictures as well).

            31. Make my own jewelry

            32. Learn to cross-stitch—Started doing this the other day. I’ve realized it will take practice and time to be able to do this decently, but it is something new to concentrate on

            33. Get a new sewing machine—On hold; seems getting a sewing machine there is a 50/50 risk that the machine will have problems winding the bobbin

                        34. Make a new quilt (or this may wait until I move)

                        35. Make a set of drapes for the bedroom (for backdrop for any zoom calls)

            36. Start a new afghan (write a post on finishing the other)—need to figure out how to patch the other afghans. I’m slowly patching the other two afghans that Chaos chewed holes in. One is basically patched (though I need to sew the patch on a little better), and then I need to knit the patches for the second one.

            37. Show case crafts on blog (possibly a weekly update?)

            38. Start writing a book

            39. Learn Photoshop

            40. Write in journal daily (answer questions/prompts from journaling books and free thought); this has been an on and off endeavor. There are some days/weeks I’m good at writing daily, and then I may go a week or longer without writing in it.

            41. Create my own coffee-table photography book

            42. Learn basic sign language

            43. Start a virtual book club

Finances—still working on these, since I’m taking time off there isn’t a steady paycheck coming in yet.

            44. Create monthly budgets—currently this is just paying off the bills.

            45. Credit card debts down and hopefully paid off monthly—some are high, but that is due to buying a couple of personal/professional development courses that were rather expensive.

            46. Declutter the house (way of earning extra cash)

            47. Savings account up another 20K (hopefully)—this will be tied in with #44, #46, and any other ways of trying to earn a little extra cash.

            48. Talk with financial person about short-term investment possibilities

            49. Continue doing the small surveys as a way of earning a little extra cash

            50. Finish the various financial e-courses, and decide when/how to start investing

Fitness & Health—On going

            51. Get into the best shape of my life

            52. Multivitamin and supplements daily; I’ve only forgotten to take my multivitamin and supplements every so often.

            53. Manage to make it through the following Beachbody workouts

                                    54. Morning Meltdown 100)—Finished my 1st round 9/15/2020

                                    55. Yoga Booty Ballet—Abs & Butt ~3/4 of program completed by 11/14/2020

                                    56. 10 Rounds—1st round finished on 12/26/2020

                                    57. Barre Blend—Starting on 2/8/2021; only managed to do half the program before moving on to another one mainly due to the lunges and just not really feeling the program. Hoping to fit the last four weeks in this year between other programs.

                                    58. Insanity Max 30

                                    59. LIIFT4 (have already done this program once); 2nd round finished 11/14/2020

                                    60. 22-Minute Hard Corps

                                    61. T20

                                    62. Insanity

                                    63. Insanity: Asylum 1

                                    64. Insanity: Asylum 2

                                    65. 4 weeks of Prep

                                    66. 6 weeks of the work

                                    67. T25 (have already done this program once)

                                    68. Brazil Butt Lift

                                    69. 21-Day Fix (Already done this program once)—Started to do the ‘LIVE’ version, though may go ahead and start the third round of LIIFT4 next week instead of finishing this program.

                                    70. 21-Day Fix Extreme (Already done this program once)

                                    71. Country Heat (already done this program once)

                                    72. CIZE—Did this program during March and finished it the first week of April. Enjoyed it even if I have two left feet and couldn’t keep up with the cast

                                    73. Muscle Burns Fat—First round finished 1/17/2021

                                    74. Muscle Burns Fat Advanced—First round done on 2/7/2021

                                    75. Let’s Get Up! —Shawn T’s new one; hopefully out fall 2021

                                    76. 9 week control freak off the wall (technically with just dumbbells)

                                    77. Shawn Week

                                    78. 80-Day Obsession

                                    79. Brazil Butt Lift: Carnivale

                                    80. Shift Shop: Proving Grounds

                                    81. P90

                                    82. Core de Force

            83. Manage 5 push-ups on my toes (practicing and managing 5-8 on my knees)

            84. Manage 10 push-ups on my toes

            85.  Hold a two-minute forearm plank

            86.  Hold a 90 second plank

            87.  Meditate nightly—though sometimes it is only for a minute or two. Trying to increase the timing.

            88.  60-80 oz of water a day; this has been more likely 40-60 oz of water daily and sometimes up to 80 oz

            89.  Stretch daily; I do try to stretch nightly, and in the mornings before getting out of bed.

            90. Get at least 10,010,000 steps (breaks down to 5K/day)—on my way; I’ve managed to hit all month goals (and surpass slightly).

Blog and Social Media–Ongoing

            91.  Finish YouTube for bosses course

            92.  Finish YouTube course creation for bosses course

            93.  Finish blog to biz course

            94.  Launch a YouTube channel

            95. Launch an online course

            96. Get blog traffic to 500+ views a day

            97. Rebrand myself (?)

            98. Get Instagram followers to constant 800+

            99. Get pintrest followers to constant 400+

            100. Get twitter followers to constant 1000+

            101. Publish at least two blog series

            102.  Editorial calendars (monthly/weekly/daily)

                        103. Blog

                        104. Instagram

                        105. Facebook pages

                        106. Twitter

                        107. Pintrest

            108. Get becomingJessi (or new name if I change) to 1000+ likes/follows

            109. Various top 10 author lists

            110. Various top 10 book series lists

            111. Launch a podcast

Spirituality–Ongoing

            112. Full/New Moon Goals

            113. Create my own altar (wicca/pagan)—This has been accomplished somewhat, as the current altar is on a bookshelf, so it looks fairly crowded.

            114. Weekly (or daily) tarot/oracle card readings—Have been managing to do this (more or less), though I haven’t shared any of the readings on social media yet.

            115. 15 minutes outdoors in the morning (coffee only) weather permitting; probably on hold now until spring—fall/winter mornings are usually somewhere between the 30s and 50s (if it’s closer to the higher end—maybe).

Others–ongoing

            116. Keep at least 3 plants alive

            117. Design a science based board game

            118. Create and update digital vision board

            119. Reorganize my storage unit

            120. Put in at least one flower garden around the house (backyard, and/or front yard)

            121. Help put up partial privacy fence in backyard

            122. Start downsizing clothes and creating different “minimum” wardrobes (work/professional/casual; home/casual/working out)

            123. Develop at least 30 different 30-day challenges. I’ve lowered the number of days for this challenge, but some of the challenges will include:

                        One challenge will be 30 days of iPhone Photography.

            124. Start downsizing rest of my things./ as well—would like to probably be able to live comfortably in a smallish size apartment (or house) wherever I move for the next job.

Goals on hold due to the global coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) outbreak (either because they require traveling, going into a large store, and/or being around large groups of people):

            125. Re-pierce my ears

126. Go to at least 1 scientific conference

                        127. Present at a scientific conference

            128. Go to at least 2 professional networking events

            129. Move to a new (or maybe not new) city for job

            130. Visit at least 3 new countries

            131. Visit at least one new national and/or state park

            132. Visit at least one new national and/or state monument

            133. Visit at least one new zoo

            134. Visit at least one new aquarium

            135. Fly out and/or land at 3 new (to me) airports

            136. Visit at least one new city

            137. Visit at least one new state

            138. See the northern lights

            139. Attend at least one blogging conference

            140. Attend at least one author-reader conference

            141. Swim with whale sharks

            142. Parasailing

Once I move:

            143. Get fabric and foam and make new cushions for chairs

            144. New couch & chair for living room

            145. New dresser for bedroom

            146. New mattress & box spring for bed and/or a new bed set

            147. New TV & stand

            148. New desk/craft workstation

So I added in another couple of advanced Cheeky courses under the professional development area (and that isn’t even all the advanced Cheeky courses–I have another nine on my list in my notebook), not to mention all the other professional development courses that I’ve bought over the past few years.

Currently my main goals for professional development is to create (or at least start planning) a career that allows for me to make use of my strengths, is potentially remote/online/freelancing, but also would allow me to work ‘in-house’ as well from time to time. I also realize that I haven’t been making as much progress with the various courses (both personal and professional) that I would like, an dwill be working on ways to correct this issue moving forward.

As I write this post, I realize that I really do need to start developing some type of calendar for posts, as I’ve stated that I’m going to write posts (views on different job paths and book reviews), but that is as far as I’ve gotten with certain items–so yet again, problem acknowledged and will be working on correcting this issue as well moving forward.

At the beginning of the year I set up a bingo card of different workout programs that I would like to complete over the next two years, and had set a goal of trying to complete nine of them this year (2021). I’ve realized that I may or may not reach that particular goal–reason, I would rather repeat programs that I enjoyed doing instead of trying to force my way through other programs. I will probably give each program a week or so of time, but if I haven’t gotten into by then I’ll move on to another one. Programs that will probably be repeated: LIIFT4, Morning Meltdown 100, 10 Rounds, and possibly Let’s Get Up (haven’t done this one yet, but like the trainer). Programs that may not be totally completed: Insanity, Insanity Asylum 1 & 2, and possibly Insanity: Max 30; the reason is that these are mainly cardio and at times I get bored with a cardio only (or cardio-heavy) program.

In terms of the direction for my career transition, I’m still leaning in the direction of freelance/remote/online work, with the possibility of some onsite positions as well. Trying to do both (working for myself and a company) would allow me to have interactions with others on a somewhat consistent basis, but also allow me to have a steady second stream of income as well (just in case another pesky pandemic comes along and shuts things down again). I’m also leaning to the more multi-directional approach (such as writing, data analysis, project and/or product management just to name a few ideas), as it appeals to both my mixed-styled multipontialite personality, and my strengths (learner, intellection, input, achiever, and ideation).

This means at some point this year (probably closer to fall/winter), I will be changing the name of the blog/site to encompass both aspects of life (personal hobbies and development and the professional development and services offered). I have a couple of ideas bouncing around for a new name and I may post a poll on either Facebook or LinkedIn (or possibly both) to gauge others opinions on the new names.

I’m slowly developing a hybrid editorial/to-be accomplished calendar/list, but still am swinging between being overly ambitious in what I would like to get accomplished for the month, and then falling into analysis/paralysis and not getting anything accomplished for a week or so.

I started using the time management app Self Control to limit the amount of time that I’m spending on social media and other pages, and it has helped (when I remember to turn the app on). As I look ahead to trying to balance various aspects of things I will possibly try to organize my ‘professional/work’ hours to where I’m doing research on topics say Monday & Tuesday, writing the rough drafts and finding images on Wednesday, editing on Thursday, and then publishing on Fridays. This will possibly be the type of schedule I take once I’m really trying to showcase various professional services (such as writing, data analysis or project management projects). I will still be publishing more frequently on the personal/professional development aspects and hobbies (photography, book reviews, course reviews, goals and so forth).

I can say that I am making forward progress, no matter how slow it looks. I’ve found that slow (and the sometimes back-and-forth bounce from comfortable to slightly uncomfortable) is the best, as it usually allows me to notice when my inner critic/imposter syndrome tries to derail me from reaching various goals.

Over the next 100 days, I plan on focusing more on various personal/professional development courses, writing book reviews, course reviews, reading, crafting, and continuing on my health and fitness journey.

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An Elusive Fisher on Boomer Lake: The Belted Kingfisher

Another series of bird pages are now live under the bird tab.

This week’s addition to the birding portion of the blog/website is the order Coraciiformes, family Alceidinidae, and the belted kingfisher.

Belted Kingfisher at Boomer Lake

As mentioned on the order page, there is just basic information on this order as there is still debate on which families actually belong within the order. So I’ve added the Coraciiformes order to my ‘research’ list along with the Gaviiformes order (the loons) in terms of looking more in the scientific literature and adding information from there. Though currently–this ‘research’ project is one of thw many on both the mental and the physical to-do lists.

Belted kingfisher in flight

While the family Alceidinidae has over 100 species within it–there are only about eight species within the ‘New World’, and only one that is ‘common’ within North America. That ‘common’ kingfisher is the belted kingfisher.

I’ve been on the lookout for the belted kingfisher ever since I manged to get a couple of pictures of one back in 2019. These are ‘secretive’ birds that you may not see unless you startle them from their perch or they’re on the way back to the burrow.

While writing the pages, I also realized that when I had managed to get the pictures–I had been at the lake fairly early in the morning (within about a half hour of the sun rising), and lately it has been about an hour or so after the sun comes before I leave the house. So, I think that if I want to be able to spot them again–I’m going to have to get up to the lake a little earlier in the mornings.

My main goal is to try to get a picture of the kingfisher from the front–that way I can tell if I had managed to get a picture of a male or female kingfisher.

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