Category: Lifestyle Challenges

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?

No Comments AstrologycareerCraftsLifestyle Challengesoracle cardsPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentReflectionsspirituality

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?

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Recapping days six to ten of Instagram Oracle Card Challenge

So, today marks the second installment in my oracle card challenge, with a summary of days six to ten using the Enchanted Map Oracle Deck. Starting tomorrow I will be using Nature’s Whispers Oracle Deck by Angela Hartfield for the next ten days. It is hard to believe that it has already been ten days into the challenge—and only another 110 (or possibly 568) more days left.

Card thirty for the enchanted map oracle deck: making a choice
Card drawn on day six of oracle card reading challenge

The card for day six was making a choice (card thirty in the upright position). It is a reminder that we have a choice to be either an active player in our own lives or passive players allowing others to make the choices and just going with the flow (either intentionally or unintentionally). I’ve been a somewhat passive player in my own career fluttering from position to position without really asking myself if this is something that will make me happy in the long run.

I am at the ‘proverbial’ fork in the road, and am taking the route of using my education in a different manner/direction. While the bench will always be there, now is the time to edge away and find the enjoyment again in writing, looking at data, picking up the camera, and all the other ideas that are bouncing around in my head.

It will take awhile to get everything lined up—but I’m going slowly down the path (knowing that I can jump over to the bench, or even some other ‘physical’ job if needed).

Cleaning house card drawn on day seven of challenge
Card drawn on day seven of challenge

The card for day seven was cleaning house (card thirty-seven in the upright position). I found it slightly funny pulling this card the other night, as I’m also reading a book on minimalism (More of Less by Joshua Becker) right now as well. This is something that I’ve slowly been working on for quite a while, as I’ve realized that once I do have things in place career wise and then start thinking of moving—I have way more stuff than I really need.

I’m slowly ‘cleaning house’, mainly because most of my stuff is still in storage. What am I doing—downsizing the number of items that I currently have around me daily. I know the areas that I can go ‘minimalistic’ in, and I also know the areas that I won’t be going ‘minimalistic’ in as well—it is all about balance.

The mental decluttering will take a little longer (namely the negative stories, self-doubts, and those things), but it is something that I’m working on.

Card forty seven of enchanted map deck: the sacred pool
Card drawn on day eight of challenge: the sacred pool

The card for day eight was the sacred pool (card forty-seven in the upright position). It asks of us to do a detached self-examination that is made with rigorous honesty, but also acknowledges how far we’ve come through the years. It is time to focus on self-love and self-esteem.

These are areas that I work on daily—I’ve always been proud of what I’ve managed to accomplish, but there are times when my self-esteem hits rock bottom. It is never easy to change paths, directions, or callings and is even harder when you’re an introvert with social anxiety. The though of reaching out to others is nerve wracking (and brings about all those negative self-esteem thoughts).

This is something I’m working on changing. I’m slowly developing several ideas I have for articles/posts for the blog, LinkedIn, and possibly other sites as well. Improving one’s self-love and self-esteem should always be daily goals in this day and age.

Card drawn on day nine: the dry desert

The card for day nine was the dry desert (card thirty-one in the upright position). This is a card that I feel has the same message no matter the direction you draw it (upright or reverse). It is reminding us that we can survive what life throws at us—we’re resilient and adaptable. Self-reflection helps in any situation (regardless of how the situation turns out).

Looking inward, remembering childhood dreams, and such are several ways to help reconnect with things we enjoyed doing at one point but may have forgotten about them, as we got older.

Self-reflection is almost a daily habit, and I’ve remembered things that I had enjoyed doing at one point—learning, writing, reading, and doing research. Research doesn’t have to always be done at the bench—it can also come from a book, a paper, or elsewhere. All of these things can be merged into an online (or in-person) career, I just need to place the pieces of the puzzle or perhaps find those last few missing pieces.

The gentle gardener

Today’s card was the gentle gardener (card two in the upright position). She is a reminder that our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs help to create our reality. All feelings are valid and should be acknowledge. Give them room, sit with them, work through the emotions, and try to find the sliver lining in the situation.

I have the tendency to let my thoughts spiral out of control, and at times jump to the worse case scenario, both of which spend my anxiety spiking, my stomach rolling and has me questioning what I’m doing with my life. All of which makes it harder to see the ‘rainbows’ through the storm clouds.

I’m getting better at not going down those dark ‘rabbit holes’. I realize that I’m not going to be pleasing everyone in terms of what I write, how I write, or even what I decide to write about. Which is fine—I think that it is time that I start living my life for myself and not for other people.

One of the many mental health goals moving forward is to tend my mental garden and nourish the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that will help me move forward and gently remove the ones that are keeping me stagnant.

So, today marks the ‘end’ of the first ten days of the challenge and using the enchanted map oracle deck. The past ten days have shown me that I do need to make a choice in terms of life and career—being an active participant over a passive participant. In choosing to do an online career shift, I need to start slow—build a good foundation before trying to go in several different directions at once. Writing will probably be that base—with a good chunk being science communication and education. The rest of the base will go between personal/professional development and hobbies, with a touch of other educational subjects as well.

What is one science topic that you wished was written in a way that the general public could understand it better?

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New Moon Goals: Realizing only 175 days left in 2021

Looking back over the past year, and I managed to sporadically post the new/full moon goals in 2020 (for example my Cancer new moon goals last year were posted but tied in with a semi-rant on how the pandemic was going and how it had messed up the few plans that I had started to make for 2020). This year, I’ve managed to post for each new/full moon so far (and usually on time as well).


So the moon will be transitioning through the Cancer constellation either today or tomorrow (depending on where you are in the world), for the US-it will be today (Friday, July 9th). It marks the seventh new moon of the year and signals the fact that the year is just a little over halfway over (there are only 175 days left in the year). That is 175 days to brainstorm ideas, develop goals, and figure out hte plan for moving forward into 2022 and beyond.

If one looks to the book ‘Moonology: working with the magic of lunar cycles’ by Yasmin Boland, there are various things that one can focus on during the Cancer new moon and they include:

  1. Family time (checking in with relatives)
  2. Banishing insecurity
  3. Getting in touch with your caring/nurturing side
  4. Review your goals
  5. Take a hot bath

Now taking a hot bath isn’t a problem–that is actually part of my daily ‘self-care’ routine. While my ‘sun/star’ sign is an earth sign (Virgo), both my rising and moon signs are water signs (Scorpio and Pisces)–so I really like my water time.

I’ve figured out that three of the five are fairly straightforward (family time, reviewing goals, and taking hot baths) to try to do–though I probably should try to get in (and stay in) touch with various family members (outside of my immediate family).

The other two items (banishing insecurity and getting in touch with your caring and nurturing side) may not seem as straightforward and may actually require more work to start with.

How I picture these two areas/items:

In terms of getting in touch with your caring and nurturing side–basically this means you’re going to be trying a little harder this month in terms of self-care. You’re going to try to catch those negative voices/ideas and rephrase/spin them into more positive ideas/self-talk; you’re going to take time to focus on your breath (to help calm anxiety, frustration, or anger), and you’re going to be more gentle and understanding with yourself.

In terms of trying to banish insecurity–this means being honest with yourself in terms of different areas of your life/ Do you feel insecure in an area? Fearful? Or are you being overly possessive of things? The best work is to try to identify and work at getting rid of barries in different areas of life (slowly, and if needed with the help of a trained professional).

If one also looks to see what house the moon is moving through, it will give you a few other things to also take into perspective. For me, the moon is moving through my ninth house (or my big picture zone). This is all about adventure, travel, and personal development.

Well, we’re still dealing with the pandemic and the various variants of the virus that are trying to see who will come out as the one to beat the vaccine. Therefore, I still won’t be doing any physical traveling until sometime next year (at the earliest). But since we live in a digital world, there are other ways of ‘traveling’–reading, communicating with others (email, online meetings, phone calls), and writing (creative, poetry, journaling, and more research based ideas). So what are some of the things that one can do in regards to thier night house?

  1. Find a way to explore the world.
  2. Read those books you know you should be reading
  3. Do a personal development course
  4. Manifest a new spiritual teacher
  5. Think about what you have faith in–and what you don’t
  6. Make a cyber pal on the other side of the world
  7. Have something you’ve written published

So it’s fitting that personal development is being emphasized again–this is something that I’m slowly working on but still try to make it a race (see how many courses I can finish), to where I’m unsure of what I’ve learned (or retained). Therefore I’m only working htorugh a course or two at a time for short periods of time (say 45 minutes to an hour). This allows me to reflect, hopefully retain, and try to think of ways of sharing the information with others.

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

Continuing with the ‘next adventures’ of my personal/professional development board game: reading two to three books (‘Why You’re Stuck’ by Derek Doepker and ‘More of Less’ by Josh Becker), working through a copywriting course, and starting to draft some science posts/pages.

Figuring out the answers to the following questions/points that I raised as I was trying to create a financial plan: 1) waht are tehd ifferent ways that I can earn money; 2) what would the ‘minimal monthly earnings’ be for each area; and 3) will I try a hybrid (online adn in-person) or stick with online/remote/contract/freelance/consulting/blogging?

Use those answers to slowly create a new 12-month goal/plan for various areas of my life

Continue with my evening meditations/sitting quietly moments

Continue with my oracle card challenge and doing my evening readings/drawings as well.

No Comments AstrologyBooksfinancesfitnessHealthLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesNew Moon Goalsno spend challengesPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

Recapping day one to five of Instagram Challenge

So I decided earlier this week that I was going to do a 120-day oracle card challenge on Instagram. This challenge has two objectives: ensuring that I’m posting something daily, and locating my online ‘tribe’. While I realize that oracle card readings may not be everyone’s ‘cup of tea’, I’ve found them to be a great starting point for reflecting on various things.

Since I have several different oracle decks (actually I have thirteen), I decided that I would use a different one every ten days, in addition to possibly extending the challenge longer (130 days would allow me to use each deck once, but extending it to 578 days would allow me to draw each card once).

While I’m sharing the cards daily on Instagram, I decided that I would do a summary of them on the blog every five to ten days (ensuring at least one to two posts per oracle deck, to begin with).

To start the challenge, I decided to use the Enchanted Map oracle deck by Colette Baron-Reid. I like the stories that one can draw from the cards.

The first card that I drew to start the challenge was ‘Into the Unknown’ (card number seven, in the upright position).

This was a fitting card to start the challenge with as I’ve been slowly thinking of stepping into the unknown of changing careers. I’ve spent the past year and a half doing a large amount of personal and professional reflections, and while I don’t have the path totally planned out—I do have an idea (or two) of where I would like to start. Part of any path is knowing that you have a learning curve to deal with, but at the same time one needs to figure out how to move into the new ‘arena’ even if you’re at a ‘disadvantage’ compared to others.

It is also a reminder that growth comes by stepping out of our comfort zones and into the unknown.

The second card that was drawn for the challenge was the ‘One-Ring Circus’ (card number fifteen, in the upright position).

This card reminds us that we’re capable and competent in any endeavor that we pursue—as long as we put in the work. Self-reliance is key, as we’re the only ones who can forage our paths, others may ‘walk’ with us, but we have to do the work. For me this is also a reminder that I need to become a more ‘active’ learner—actually starting to put various things into practice instead of just reading/watching and moving on to the next book or e-course.

I’m slowly becoming better at setting (and meeting) my own deadlines for projects. My biggest ‘problem’ actually is that I get overly ambitious about the project and bite off more than I can chew initially. These two aspects (setting and meeting deadlines) will be essential as I move towards my career transition (especially so I won’t be feeling overwhelmed and able to juggle more than one project at a time).

The third card drawn was ‘Heal the Ouch’ (card number thirty eight, in the upright position).

Did you know the phrase let ‘bygones be bygones’ originated in the 15th century?

This card is a reminder that forgiveness is the healer of the soul and sooths the heart and mind as well. It also brought to mind the Buddhist saying, “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

This is something that I’m working on—releasing past angers, irritations, and feelings of not good enough, not dedicated enough, or not driven enough. I’ve realized that by allowing myself to either compare myself to others (or allow others to do so), has been one of the key reasons why I’ve been ‘stuck’ and afraid to step into the virtual world as a science communicator, educator, and advocate (even though that is my training and background).

I know that not everyone will agree with my posts, comments, or tone of writing—and that is fine, I need to be true to myself so that I can find my ‘tribe’ both in the virtual and real worlds.

The fourth card drawn was ‘Metamorphosis’ (card number twenty-five in the upright position).

This card is a reminder that nothing in life really stays the same and that to become the best version of ourselves—we need to change. Change is also at times painful and scary (especially when it seems like we’re the only ones going through the process).

As mentioned previously–I’ve been thinking of a career change for several years now, and only decided right before 2020 to take time off to really try to figure out what I wanted to do with my life—the long hours in lab and at the bench no longer appealed to me.

Over the past year and a half, I’ve been reflecting on what type of ‘change’ I could do—a total change in direction, or a hybrid change (bench work part-time and something else part time). The ‘loss’ has been the realizing that the childhood dream of my own marine biology research lab wasn’t going to happen, the ‘pain’ is realizing that I’m going to be trying to step out in an arena with others who have been doing it longer. But the ‘growth’ is there, I just have to take the baby steps away from the lab dreams and start focusing them on a different area of life.

Today’s card is the ‘Spark’ (card number thirty four and in the upright position).

The spark is here to remind us that if we’re feeling the spark of creativity to go ahead and move forward with the idea, or if we want to start a new job—now is the time to search and apply.

It has taken awhile for me to be able to find or see the ‘spark’ of creativity—I’d thought it had be totally extinguished as I kept trying to make a go of a career in academia. But it hadn’t been extinguished; it was just not burning as brightly as it could have been. It is slowly starting to burn brighter. What is my creative idea/job that I’m trying to move forward? Figuring out how to blend science education/communication/advocacy together with a personal development/hobbies/spirituality blog.

It’s been suggested that I do two blogs—but I know that if I try to do that one of them will flounder and fail. Not because I don’t have ideas for both—but because I know that I’d focus on one more than the other (as I’ve been prone to do—focusing on something and ignoring everything else). The plan—slowly start adding in more science posts to the blog, and keep reworking things until I find the right ‘mix’ of the two areas.

So, that covers the first five days of the challenge. Each card, while randomly drawn has been the exact card that I needed that day. They’ve been reminding me to listen to my inner voice (no matter how quiet it is)–I just need to be able to sit quietly and turn inward. I also need to trust both in myself and this journey that I’m on–that I not only will ‘survive’ but thrive as I make my way down the ‘unknown’ road of online entrepreneurship.

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Six months into the limited spending challenge: heading back in the proper direction

So it’s that time of the month again–time for a check-in on my yearlong limited spending challenge.

For those who may be new to the blog, here is a brief recap–I decided at the end of 2020 that instead of trying to do ‘no-spend’ months (and end up splurging), I would ‘limit’ the spending and items would fall into one of two categories: needed and splurges.

I did really well in January on the challenge, and then slowly started slipping since then and the plan was that I’ll start ‘rebounding’ and honoring the challenge again starting in June.

So, while I didn’t do as well as I did in January–I did better than I had for the past two or three months. THere were still some purchases and minor splurging–but nothing like I had done from March through May.

I did buy numerous books (I think I had mentioned it sometime in either 2020 or 2019 on a book review–I’m an impulsive book buyer), and those books were:

Chasing Her Trust by Danielle Pays

Rancher Bears Complete Series by Candace Ayers

Cocker Brothers (1st six book box set) by Faleena Hopkins

The Universe Always has a Plan by Matt Kahn

Awakening your inner shaman by Marcela Lobos

Mesopotamia ‘box set’ by Captivating History

Mesoamerican History ‘box set’ by Captivating History

Grumpy Single Dad by Melinda Minx

Classical mythology A to Z: an encyclopedia of gods & goddesses, heroes & heroines, nymphs, spirits, monsters and places by Annette Giesecke

Cellular and Molecular Immunology

United Nations: A History by Stanley Meisler

The Complete Book of Amulets & talismans by Migene Gonzales-Wippler

The Ancestral power of amulets, talismans, and mascots: folk magic in witchcraft and religion by Nigel Pennick

The compendium of magical beasts: an anatomical study of cryptozoology’s most elusive beings by Dr. Veronica Wigberht-Blackwater

Superstitions: A handbook of folklore, myths, and legends from around the world by D.R. McElroy

Creatures of the deep: in search of the sea’s monsters and the world they live in by Erich Hoyt

Dictionary of witches, wizards, and warlocks: the spells, charms, potions and magic of wizardology by Michael Freze

The door to witchcraft: A New Witch’s guide to history, traditions and modern day spells by Tonya Brown

Secrets of Egyptian spellcasting: amulets, talismans, and magical lifeforms by M.A. Budge & E.A. Wallis

The last set of books (from Classical Mythology through Secrets of Egyptian Spellcasting) are going to be ‘reference books’ for a couple of story ideas that I have bouncing around in my head, in addition to other things–the immunology book is because I’m interested in the topic and thinking of writing a blog post or two on the subject–but didn’t have any ‘reference books’ within reach.

In addition there was another large free sale of e-books, so I managed to get another 58 romance books in a variety of different sub-genera.

I did talk myself out of the one pricey e-course, and instead bought another ‘cheaper’ one that will also be shorter than the other. The additional e-course I bought is: ’15 errors in scientific writing and how to fix them’ on Udemy. It is roughly an hour and a half long, and I’m hoping to work through the course sometime in July (and hopefully not later than August).

So, yes I still ‘splurged’ on books this month–but in terms of the e-books it wasn’t that much (in comparison to earlier months). The physical books were pricey–but since they weren’t trade size paperbacks, the price wasn’t a surprise. I know that people will say that I could have just checked out books from the library-and my response is yes, I could have checked out books–but I prefer to have the ‘reference’ book. I never know when I may want to revisit the topic, and this way I know that the book will always be available.

I’m going to try to stick with the same goal for July, and hopefully ‘be on par’ with January in terms of spending of money. I am slowly learning to curb the impulsive spending, as I realized this wasn’t something I was going to be able to change overnight, and that it would be something to focus on daily.

What are some of your favorite subjects???

No Comments financesLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesno spend challengesPersonal Development ChallengesReflections

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

Three Books that have helped me start my burnout recovery journey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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