Category: Month in Review

End of 2021, December in Review: BINGO cards and other goals

Well, 2021 is officially over. We’ve entered 2022, and I’d like to please ask everyone to keep their hands to themselves for at least the first month. Be polite to each other, nod hello, wear the mask, wash your hands, practice social distancing, and possibly this year may go ‘better’ than the previous two years.

While I may not have stayed off social media as much as I should have the past month or so—I am trying to still stay away from mainstream media (to help control my stress/anxiety levels). Though, 2021 could have ended nicer—I mean really Betty White??

We’re now about two months shy of starting year three of the pandemic (things in the US started to close down roughly mid-March 2020), and I’m hoping that people will be kind and considerate of their family and friends and get the damn shot for themselves and their children. In terms of the total number of cases of the virus within the US, when I published ‘November in Review’, I noted that were a little over 49.4 million cases and as of midnight—we had reached almost 55.7 million cases (an increase of 6.8 million cases during the month of December). The numbers are going up—mainly because the omicron variant is more contagious than the delta (or other) variants, and not as main adults are getting their shots (or possibly booster shots).

I’m hoping that the clinical trials for the younger children (under the age of five) has as good of results as the other children clinical trials and those shots are available come summertime. The only way this pandemic is going to get under control is vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate, and also listening to those who have decades of experience working with infectious diseases.

Again, I didn’t get as much work done in regards to the blog/website during the month of December—and I will totally blame it on the games that I’d downloaded on my kindle over the past few months (though they’ve both been ‘removed’). I’m aiming to make the transition to a remote medical/science writer this year, update/organize/rebrand the blog/website, and create a part-time freelance business by the end of the year (with the goal of it becoming full-time within the next two to five years).

But before looking too far into 2022, I need to look back at the goals I set for December of 2021 and see how I did with each of them.

The goals for December included:

  1. 130-155,000 steps
  2. Continuing with my second round of morning meltdown 100
  3. Setting up my ‘master’ plan/outline for 2022-2025
  4. Read at least one non-fiction book
  5. Read two to three fiction books (and possibly have small book reviews written adn published on the blog and other sites)
  6. No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month
  7. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, and daily gratitude journal entries
  8. Craft time (finish the fourth cross-stitch project)
  9. Work through at least one module of a personal/professional development course

So how did I do with each of them?

  1. In terms of 130-155,000 steps, I managed to meet and surpass the goal with a total of 170,166 steps. There were several walks at Boomer Lake and a couple of walks with Chaos through the neighborhood.
  2. In terms of continuing my second round of morning meltdown 100–I’ll be restarting it at the beginning of the year, and probably following it four to five days a week (so it will possibly stretch a little longer than just 100 days). I wasn’t up to pushing play all that often during December.
  3. In terms of setting up a master plan/outline for 2022-2025; I have a ‘master habit tracking journal for 2022 mostly set up (I just need to put in the boxes for almost every page for April-December). Since I’ve decided to go int eh direction of remote/contract/freelance writing and blogging I know that there are several things that I need to focus on this year for that to occur and I’m slowly working on that plan/outline (probably will be its own post within the next two weeks or so0
  4. In terms of reading at least one non-fiction book–I only read fiction books during December.
  5. In terms of reading two to three fiction books–I read the following:
    • My Bad Decisions (On My Own #4) by Carrie Ann Ryan (this is the only one that I wrote a review on last month)
    • Billionaire Unnoticed–Cooper (The Billionaire’s Obsession #17) by J.S. Scott
    • State of Grace (A First Family #2) by Marie Force
    • Snow Dragon (Dragon Knights #16) and Gatekeeper (Dragon Knights #17) by Bianca D’Arc
  6. In terms of my no spend days/no spend weeks/limited-spending month–I did better towards the end of the month (especially after removing a couple of games from the kindle), but still spent more that I should have. I’ll be ‘restarting’ the challenge again come January–so this will be a monthly goal for several more years to come.
  7. In terms of my ‘mindfulness’ activities (time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, and daily gratitude journal entries) the only one that I was consistent with was being outdoors (even if it was only 10-15 minutes at night with the dogs). I’m going to try to get back into the habit of meditating at night and doing a daily gratitude journal entry.
  8. In terms of craft time–I did a few color by number pictures, some photography, but did not finish the fourth cross-stitch project. I think that currently I’m going to stick to abstract/fantasy things and not try to landscape images for awhile.
  9. In terms of working through at least one module of a personal/professional development course–while I didn’t get any ‘modules’ completed during December, I did join another accountability group for working my way towards my transition to a remote writing position (one of the really pricy purchases in December).

I would say that I managed to complete a fifth of my December goals, and also made a little headway on aother two–so in total I managed two-fifths of the goals for December 2021.

Some goals only had minor progress throughout the year (limited spending challenge after January for one), while others were met on a somewhat consistent basis (step goal being within the range set)–but the important thing I didn’t just stop I continued going even if it was only little steps that might look like staying in place to others.

‘Pam’ managed to derail me this past month, but at the same time I was ‘willing’ to be derailed. The first week or so of 2022 will be spent creating various lists for things I want to get accomplished during 2022 (landing that remote writing position, reworking/branding the blog/website, and so forth). I’ve realized that one of my major problems has been trying to throw everything on a list and then struggle to get everything accomplished (or written) in say over the course of a month.

So the goals throughout 2022 are going to be similar to the goals that were set during 2021—mainly because striving for the same goals (especially once you achieve them consistently) makes them habits—and then one can start adding in ‘new’ goals.

Therefore the goals for January 2022 will include:

  1. 130-155,000 steps; hoping to be able to get at least one walk in at Boomer Lake and hopefully at least one or two walks through the neighborhood with Chaos as well
  2. Continue with a second round of Morning meltdown 100 (possibly on ly M-F)
  3. Read at least one non-fiction book from my 2022 non-fiction BINGO card
  4. Continue setting up my ‘master’ plan for 2022-2025 (and beyond)
  5. Read two to four (if not more) fiction books and write mini-book reviews to be posted on the blog and other sites
  6. Continue with the no spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month
  7. Daily mindfulness activities: time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitgude journal enteries, and daily oracle drawings
  8. Craft time
  9. Continue working on updating the blog/website
  10. Assignments for the diamond group
  11. Work through at least one module of a personal/professional development course from my 2022 e-course BINGO card

I’m focusing on making 2022 the year of ‘changes’—landing that remote position, and getting other items check-off the list. ‘Pam’ may still try to derail me, but if I sit and chat once a month with her—maybe, just maybe we can come to a ‘truce’ on the balance between ‘doing nothing’ and ‘doing too much’.

Last year I chose the words growth, creativity, curiosity, happiness, and prosperity as my words of the year.

I’m going to be keeping those this year—mainly because creativity and curiosity are strengths, and growth is needed to ensure happiness and prosperity.

Part of the ‘master’ plan is to determine what my actual ‘definition’ of prosperity is—in other words, what will make me ‘happy and fulfilled’.

In addition I’m keeping the quotes: ‘progress over perfection’, ‘you can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one’ and ‘not caring what other people think is the best choice you will ever make’.

In terms of the last quote—I should state that is isn’t so much ‘not caring’ but ‘not giving’ preference to someone else’s opinion. I’m the only one who can live my life—therefore, I will give preference to my own opinion and needs over the opinions and wants of others.

Have you chosen any word, words, or phrases for 2022 yet? If so—what are they?

No Comments careerfinancesfitnessHealthMonth in Reviewno spend challengesPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

Acknowledging the slips in progress is progress: November in Review

There are now only thirty days left in 2021 (after today). The summer seemed to have flown by, and fall is seemingly racing into winter. While I would like to say that November was better than October—it was in some ways, and worse in others.

One ‘holiday’ down (though other than the fact that we had a turkey and various sides for dinners—we treated Thanksgiving like a ‘normal’ long weekend), and one more to go (for us, that will be Christmas), but Happy Holidays for everyone who celebrates a holiday over the next month or more.

I really don’t care for the holidays (especially Thanksgiving), so I just try to treat each day like a ‘disrupted’ day (realizing that I may not get everything done that I wanted to, since more people may be around).

I haven’t decided when I’m going to head off to get my booster (I wear a mask when I go into stores and even when I walk around Boomer Lake), but it will be done at some point this winter.

I’m still staying away from the media as much as possible this fall/winter—mainly because I’m trying to control my stress/anxiety levels and focus on figuring out what to start writing about to showcase as part of a portfolio for freelance/remote/contract work. In terms of the total number of cases of the virus in the US, when I published ‘October in Review’, I noted that the US was a little over 46.8 million cases for the SARS-CoV2 virus, and now we’re at a little over 49.4 million cases (so we had just a little over 2.8 million cases last month; the numbers are still going up, and that could be due to the newest variant (omicron) that has been found to be various countries around the world—and it may or may not be able to get around the vaccines). So please—get vaccinated, get your kids vaccinated, and when you’re able to get the booster shot. (End rant)

So, the only age group that currently isn’t eligible for the vaccine is kids under the age of five (and the clinical trials are starting for that group soon—I think, they’re trying to enroll kids in the first phase currently).

I didn’t get much done in terms of ‘reorganization’ of the blog/website this past month. I also didn’t get that much written either. While I’d like to blame it on ‘writers block’—the truth is that I let the imposter syndrome/inner critic derail me, in part due to the change in time (I hate when we have to reset the clocks), and the fact that it is suppose to be getting cooler (meaning less days outside)—but we’ve been having nice weather, so I’ve been outside soaking up the sun.

But before jumping into December, I need to look back at the goals I set for November and see how I did with each of them.

The goals for November included:

  1. 130-150,000 steps
  2. Restart Morning Meltdown 100
  3. Work through the LinkedIn Mastery Ring program from the Cheeky Scientist Association; plus continue working on the wriing assignments for the MWO (and finish the sixth module)
  4. Read at least one non-fiction book
  5. Read two to four fiction books (have small book reviews written and published on the blog and other sites)
  6. No spend days/no spend/weeks/limited spending month
  7. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, and daily gratitude journal entries
  8. Craft time (finish the fourth cross-stitch project)
  9. Continue working on updating the blog/website
  10. Work through at least one other personal/professional development course

So how did I do with each of them?

  1. In terms of hitting somewhere between 130-150,000 steps, I managed to get 168,476 steps during the month. I managed a weekly walk (usually on the weekend) up at Boomer Lake, plus took Chaos for a couple of walks through the neighborhood.
  2. I’ve started my second round of Morning Meltdown 100, and probably should finish it around March 8 of next year.
  3. I’ve only managed to work through the first module of the LinkedIn Mastery Ring program. I just didn’t feel like sitting aroudn and doing any computer work this past month.
  4. There wasn’t much reading this month either.
  5. I did manage to read two fiction books (though I’m not sure if I got small book reviews written or not):
    • Enemy Heir (Tatter Royals #2) by Carrie Ann Ryan & Nana Malone
    • Mated in Darkness (Talon Pack #10) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  6. I will be covering my spending in the next installment of my limited spending check-in, but can say that November was not a good month in terms of limited spending.
  7. I managed to spend quite a bit of time outdoors this month, and found time to sit quietly as well. In terms of meditation at the end fo the day and writing in the journal–not so much.
  8. I’m still working on finishing the fourth cross-stitch project, and realized that I’m happier when doing abstract/no real design projects. The fourth one was suppose to be a nature inspired project (I was aiming for trying to do different cacti and making it semi-desert like), but while there may be two ‘cacti’ on it, the rest will be abstract in order to finish it.
  9. As I mentioned in my introduction, I didn’t spend much time on the computer or updating/revising the blog this past month. I unintentionally allowed my inner critic/imposter syndrome to derail my ‘schedule for the month’.
  10. Nope, again—I allowed my inner critic/imposter syndrome to derail me this past month in terms of really doing anything on the computer.

When we enter the month of November, it means shorter days (damn you time change), and usually cooler weather. We have been having cooler weather, but also stretch of ‘nice’ days when I feel like sitting outside more than I feel like being on the computer. Also, this past month I just didn’t feel like really doing anything—in part due to the time/weather change, but also because I unintentionally allowed my inner critic/imposter syndrome to derail me.

I have an assessment test early in December with a medical communications company, and if it goes well—a zoom interview possibly after the beginning of the New Year, and I’m thinking of putting in my application for another medical writing position as well. While I am slowly working towards creating a freelance writing business, I’m also willing to start out working remotely for a company as well (besides getting my foot in the door, a steady paycheck, I’d also be building relationships with possible future customers).

I’m now ‘developing’ my interior decorator, as I’m in the process of creating an ‘all-in-one’ room (since I live at home with my parents, and I usually tend to stay back in my bedroom for most of the day)—my room will have the ‘work’ area, the ‘craft’ area, the workout area, the meditation area, and the ‘sleep’ area.

Some will probably flow into each other and the workout area will be ‘picked’ up daily (need to find the best spot for the dumb bells), but by doing this—I’ll be more attuned to living in a small space that isn’t cluttered (this is also an exercise in minimalism as well).

So, while I didn’t meet many goals (basically only the step goal and one of the reading goals), I wasn’t ‘stagnant’—I was moving in the proper direction, just through some very ‘stagnant, negative-energy filled thoughts’. December is here, and in addition to ending the year on a ‘strong’ note—it also means planning out for 2022 and beyond, so that I can transition into a medical writing position, and then within a few years have a full time freelance writing business up and going.

The goals for December shall include:

  1. 130-155,000 steps
  2. Continuing with my second round of Morning Meltdown 100
  3. Setting up my ‘master’ plan for 2022 to 2025
  4. Read at least one non-fiction book
  5. Read two to four fiction books (and have small book reviews written and published on the blog and other sites)
  6. No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending months
  7. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, and daily gratitude journal entries
  8. Craft time (finish the fourth cross-stitch project)
  9. Continue working on updating the blog/website
  10. Work through at least one module of a personal/professional development course

The goals are similar to past months, mainly because I felt like I’ve slid a little during November, and by keeping the same goals—I could possibly achieve them.

Since I’ve realized that I let my inner critic/imposter syndrome win a large fight (one I wasn’t even aware of)—I’ve realized that I need to check in with myself when I find myself doing things that aren’t edging towards goals but instead running away from them.

Some people say that you should name your inner critic/imposter syndrome and when you feel like they’re sneaking up and pulling in the wrong direction, you call them out and ‘have a chat’. I’ve been leaning towards naming mine Pam (as it isn’t someone I talk with or know, I wouldn’t feel bad about having a hard ‘heart-to-heart’ with her when needed).

In order to make progress towards the remote science/medical writing position and starting a freelance business, I need to be able to stick to my goals. Those goals are going to ‘scare Pam’ for a while, but as long as I can talk her into continuing moving forward we should be okay.

Have you named your inner critic/imposter syndrome?

No Comments careerCraftsfinancesfitnessHealthLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesMonth in Reviewno spend challengesPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflectionsspiritualityUpdates

Review of the start of the fourth quarter.

There are now only sixty days left in 2021. The summer seemed to have flown by, and fall is seemingly racing into winter. October became a whirlwind of issues—spotty Wi-Fi (a decade old+ router and modem are going to be getting replaced hopefully sometime early November), vet appointments, and just general craziness.

We’re also heading into the holiday season, which means for most people—even more craziness. Luckily, we’re fairly low-key for the holidays (mainly Thanksgiving and Christmas). Everyone may get a single present at Christmas, and turkey day is treated like almost any other day (with the exception of snacks being laid out).

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine was approved for boosters—so at some point, I’ll be heading to a pharmacy (or possibly waiting for another city-wide clinic) to get my booster (and possibly flu vaccine). Though, I’ll still be self-isolating through the winter and early spring.

I’m still staying away from the media as much as possible this fall/winter—mainly because I’m trying to control my stress/anxiety levels and focus on figuring out what to start writing about to showcase as part of a portfolio for freelance/remote/contract work. In terms of the total number of cases of the virus in the US, when I published ‘September in Review’, I noted that the US was a little over 44.3 million cases for the SARS-CoV2 virus, and now we’re at a little over 46.8 million cases (so we had just a little over 2.5 million cases last month; the numbers are slowly starting—that could be due in part to companies starting to mandate vaccines for workers. The Pfizer vaccine was approved for kids five to eleven, so hopefully things are going to start leveling out, and we’ll be at less than 50,000 cases per month).

So, the only age group that currently isn’t eligible for the vaccine is kids under the age of five (and I’m not sure if that clinical study is going on or not). But everyone else is eligible for the shot—so please, if you want things to be somewhat ‘normal’, get the damn shot (and booster), and if you have kids over the age of five—get them vaccinated. (End rant)

Since I was having Wi-Fi issues throughout last month, I’m still working on finishing up the ‘reorganization’ of the pages/tabs for the website. In terms of the ‘photography’ section—it currently all resides under ‘birding photography’, with all ‘non-bird’ photography launching off of the ‘everything else photography’ page at the bottom of the ‘bird photography’ section.

For the other three ‘areas’ (science/medical education and communication; personal/professional development, and health and wellness), I’m going to be putting examples of ‘large’ and ‘small’ projects in the sections, but also then doing blog series—but haven’t decided on the frequency for each area. This will also be still interspersed with the other topics (crafts, photography, travel, book reviews, and so forth) that I’ve been doing for the past couple of years.

But before jumping into November (and lets not forget that if you’re in the US—this coming weekend, set the clocks back an hour), I need to look back at the goals I set for October and see how I did with each of them.

The goals for October included:

  1. 130-155,000 steps
  2. Starting my second round of Morning Meltdown 100
  3. Working on the writing/editing assignments for the MWO and finishing the sixth module
  4. Reading one to two non-fiction books
  5. Reading two to five fiction books (and having small book reviews written and published on the blog and other sites)
  6. No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month
  7. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, and daily gratitude journal entries
  8. Craft time (finish the third cross-stitch project; possibly start a fourth or maybe make some jewelry)
  9. Work on updating the blog/website
  10. Work through at least one personal/professional development course

So how did I do with each of them?

  1. 130-155,000 steps; I managed to meet and slightly surpass the step goal. I managed to get 160,753 steps for the month. There were two walks at Boomer Lake, and a couple of walks through the neighborhood with Chaos.
  2. Start my second round of morning meltdown 100—I started the program, but until we get the Wi-Fi issue taken care of, I’m probably putting the program on ‘hold’ and restarting it once we have reliable Wi-Fi (as there is nothing worse than a constantly buffering workout).
  3. Work on the writing/editing assignments for the MWO and finish the sixth module; While I’m slowly working on the assignments, I didn’t finish the sixth module yet, because of said Wi-Fi issues.
  4. Reading one-to-two non-fiction books; While I’ve been reading, I haven’t finished any non-fiction books
  5. Reading two-to-five fiction books; I managed to read the following during the month of October:
    • Inked Kingdom by Carrie Ann Ryan (book review published on the blog and various other sites)
    • Inked Devotion (Montgomery Ink: Fort Collins #3) by Carrie Ann Ryan (book review published on the blog and other various sites)
    • Temptation after Dark (Gansett Island #24) by Marie Force (book review hopefully coming within the next week to the blog and various other sites)
  6. No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month–I did okay, and the spending will once again be broken down in my next installment of my limited spending challenge check-in
  7. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, and daily gratitude journal entries; There was time spent outdoors, though as the temperatures slowly start easing down into the winter range (highs only in the 30s-50s), I probably won’t be out for long extended periods of time. I’ve been doing well with at least sitting quietly for a few minutes every night, and the daily gratitude journal entries.
  8. Craft time (finish the third cross-stitch project; possibly start a fourth or maybe make some jewelry); I finished my third cross-stitch project early in the month and have started a fourth. The fourth one isn’t finished yet, because instead of going with a totally abstract design—I’m trying a slightly abstract but nature based design (hopefully finish it up during November).
  9. Work on updating the blog/website; So this is something that was slightly ‘stagnant’ during October. The main reason—our Wi-Fi has been problematic (putting it nicely), and I’ve been staying off the computer more often than not. I have a rough outline for a science topic (‘troubleshooting tips for molecular cloning’) drafted, and I’m slowly deciding on how to break it down into a blog series, though the larger full-length piece will be linked to the science/medical education/communication section when it is finished.For the other two areas (personal/professional development and health/wellness) I’m still thinking on what the one or two subtopics that I want to start with are going to be.
  10. Work through at least one personal/professional development course. I watched the short skill share course: Crappy Copy: 8 digital copywriting mistakes you should avoid

While I put in my ‘application’ for another freelance writing position with the one company that I’m doing ‘volunteer’ writing for—I wasn’t selected (possibly due to my pricing). I think that they had a price and if you overshoot it, you’re taken out of the running (there doesn’t seem to be any type of negotiation for cost).

I’ve created a rough draft of an outline for one writing project I’ve been thinking of trying to tackle (troubleshooting tips for molecular cloning), and now need to figure out the timeline for posting (I’m thinking that each section may be at least one-to-two blog posts). I’m then going to work on the timelines/outlines for the other personal ‘writing’ projects that I have bouncing around in my head.

While I’d hoped that October was going to be a little more smooth sailing than September, and it was on one front (the one dog is at least ‘stable’ in terms of her anemia), it became hectic due to sporadic Wi-Fi issues. Therefore, I didn’t focus nearly as much as I should have on the professional front.

So, as we head into the last two months of 2021 and then into 2022, I hope that people will get their kids their SARS-CoV2 vaccine (and get it themselves if need be), if they’ve gotten their vaccine—when it’s their turn, go and get their booster shot. We’re heading into the second year of this pandemic—and my hope is that by the end of 2022, it may just be ‘epidemic’ (sporadically at that) in various countries in 2023 and beyond.

So my goals for November will include:

  1. 130-150,000 steps
  2. Restart Morning Meltdown 100 (hopefully a new modem/router will help with the ‘buffering’ issues)
  3. Work through the LinkedIn Mastery Ring program from the Cheeky Scientist Association; plus continue working on the writing assignments for the MWO (and finish the sixth module)
  4. Read at least one non-fiction book
  5. Read two to four fiction books (have small book reviews written and published on the blog and other sites)
  6. No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month
  7. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, and daily gratitude journal entries
  8. Craft time (finish the fourth cross-stitch project)
  9. Continue working on updating the blog/website (hopefully start at least one blog series and/or have a medium size piece linked to one [if not all three] main areas)
  10. Work through at least one other personal/professional development course

With cooler weather approaching, there will be more time spent indoors. Which means more time for crafts, reading (though this usually has never been a problem even with warmer weather), and dedicating time to both on-line learning and work. I shouldn’t have been surprised to discover that the age of our modem and router have been part of our problem (we tend to use things until they ‘die’) and both the router and modem are at least fourteen years old. Shock of all shocks—was learning that technically people replace them every two-to-five years.

The modem and router have been replaced (now just need to get the phone problem fixed), so I should hopefully be able to be doing more computer work without losing my temper. I’ve also realized that once I move, I will be needing to get a desktop computer—so I’ll have a ‘hub’ for the WiFi (though I didn’t do that in Boston—but I forgot what I’d done out there for this issue).

It is also becoming the season of sipping hot chocolate in front of the fire place, starting a new knitting project (though that will require the purchase of yarn), and slowly counting down the days until it both warms back up and stays light longer.

Which season do you prefer—spring, summer, fall, or winter?

No Comments BookscareerCraftsfinancesfitnessHealthLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesMonth in Reviewno spend challengesPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentReflectionsspirituality

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

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

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

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

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

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

The goals for September included:

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

So how did I do with each of them?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My second completed cross-stitch project

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

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

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

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

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

Therefore the goals for October will include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

No Comments BookscareerCraftsfinancesfitnessHealthmoney saving challengesMonth in Reviewno spend challengesoutdoorsPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

Heading into Fall: Reviewing the ‘dog days of summer’ goals

So, we’re on to the last third of the year—there are now only 122 days left in 2021. While it feels like time is starting to speed back up again, I’m wondering when things are going to totally go to hell. The vaccination rate is still on a steady decline (though there are days when the number of shots given is high), and the delta variant is still running rampant through the country. Luckily, I’ll be able to get the J&J booster shot sometime between October and December (they state that it is most effective six to eight months after the initial shot). So, it looks like I’ll be staying in self-isolation throughout the fall and winter (with the occasional walk to get the paper on the weekend, and possibly a walk once a month at Boomer Lake).

The world is still crumbling at a decent clip, and I’m talking about everything from the issues in Central Asia (Afghanistan) to the fact that while Greenland lost a huge amount of ice—they also got a huge amount of rainfall (for like the third time in recorded history). Therefore, I’m limiting my news intake to morning/night and the occasional lunchtime checks on Facebook. When I published ‘July in Review’, I noted that the US was a little over 35.7 million cases for the SARS-CoV2 virus, and now we’re at a little over 40.1 million cases (so it was an increase of not quite 4.5 million cases last month—all due to the delta variant and fewer people getting vaccinated).

So the numbers are going back up, and less than 0.5% of the hospitalized cases are vaccinated individuals (break-through cases). That means over 99% of the people in the hospital for SARS-CoV2, haven’t gotten the vaccine (and a good number now are children under the age of 12 that currently aren’t eligible for the vaccine). I really wish things would go virtual for another semester or two, and if everyone wants schools opened—get the damn shot. (End rant)

Staying in self-isolation will give me the time to really start focusing on trying to get a freelance/remote/contract career started (focusing first on writing, crafts, and possibly project/product management, then stretching to data analysis, and possibly educational consulting).

Before looking ahead to September (the start of the last third of the year, and a semi-modified new set of goals, and continuing to work on my time and project management skills), I should look at the goals I set for August and see how I did with each of them.

The goals for August included:

  1. 135-155,000 steps
  2. Restart LIIFT4 (mainly following the lifting schedule, not necessarily streaming the program)
  3. Finish up the writing/editing assignments for MWO, the MWO course, and roll the dice to figure out the next advancedcheeky scientist program to start
  4. Finish reading two to three non-fiction books
  5. Read two to four fiction books (and hopefully write small reviews over at least one of them)
  6. No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month
  7. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries
  8. Craft time (Continue working on the cross-stitch project)
  9. Work through at least one other personal/professional development e-course

So how did I do with each of them?

135-155,000 steps: I managed to get in 154,591 steps this past month. Mostly through wandering around the house and yard, though I did manage to get a walk in at Boomer Lake earlier in the month. I’m thinking that for September–most of the steps will be from wandering around the house/yard, walking through the neighborhood (early mornings, so I can wear my mask), and possibly a walk at Boomer Lake.

Restarting LIIFT4: I’m still giving my wrist a little more time to heal (I semi-sprained or did something to my right wrist last month), and therefore didn’t do any lifting this past month. As I mentioned in another post (400 day update), I have until basically the end of September to decide if I’m keeping my beachbody-on-demand subscription or not. I’m trying to limit my ‘screen time’ (or as much as one can when they’re thinking of freelance/remote/contract writing as a career option). Therefore I’m thinking of working out away from the screen (lifting weights and doing other things), and doing ‘screen time’ for mainly yoga.

Finishing up the MWO program & deciding on new one: I’ve finished the editing assignments for the program, and am still working on the writing assignments. I have one module left to go through (though I may not get the certificate until I complete the writing assignments), and then would be ‘done’ with the program. I did roll the dice and decided that I’d be working through the following programs over the next several months (regardless of when I finish the MWO): User Experience Squad, Project Management Consortium, Regulatory Affairs Council, Business Development Federation, and Product Management Group.

Finish reading two to three non-fiction books: I managed to read the following non-fiction books:

I Want to Do All the Things: Finding Balance as a Polymath, Multipotentialite, and Renaissance Soul by Arcadia Page

The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own by Joshua Becker

Though I haven’t written mini book reviews over either of them yet.

Read two to four fiction books (and hopefully write small reviews on at least one of them): The fiction books Imanaged to read during the month of August included:

Vortex: A FBI Thriller (#25) by Catherine Coulter (review posted to blog)

Dawn Unearthed (Ravenwood Coven #1) by Carrie Ann Ryan (review posted to blog)

Wiretaps & Whiskers (The Faerie Files #1) by Emigh Cannaday (review posted to blog)

Catnip & Curses (The Faerie Files #2) by Emigh Cannaday (review coming soon)

My Next Play (On My Own #3; advanced reader copy) by Carrie Ann Ryan (review coming soon)

Three out of the five books have reviews posted to the blog, and the other two books are books that I just finished within the past few days, so those reviews should hopefully be getting posted to the blog (and other sites) by the weekend.

No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month:

There have been a couple of books bought, one (or two) large amazon orders–but truthfully, nothing more than usual. The breakdown for this will be in the next installment of the limited spending challenge check-in.

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

I’ve been able to spend time outdoors this month–though there was only one walk at Boomer Lake (due to combination of temperatures and the delta variant). I am very grateful that my parents have a decent size backyard that one can be out in during this period of time. I’ve been doing my evening meditations/sitting quietly moments for at least a few minutes (hoping to add this to the morning routine as well).

In term of the daily gratitude entries–I’ve been pretty good with these, even if they’ve been something along the line of being grateful that I don’t have kids and therefore I don’t have to worry/stress about navigating things with the pandemic still raging.

Craft time (continue working on the cross-stitch project):

I actually finished my first small abstract cross-stitch project the other day. Instead of trying to find a pattern, I’m sticking with abstract made up on the spot designs. The reason: I can’t draw a straight line to save my life, and trying to write letters on the fabric was giving me a headache, though I do know that with practice I’d be getting better at both of them).

My first cross-stitch project completed

I should be getting in my glue gun by the end of the week, and will be gluing some of the fabric to the backside of the framefor a more completed look.

I’m starting on a second and larger cross-stitch project, and am finding it therapeutic stabbing the fabric over and over again with teh needle and thread. It seems that the amount of time spent on the project is directly correlated to how irritated I am with the world.

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

I started two different short e-courses this past month, and finished one of them:

Understanding and Developing Emotional Intelligence on Udemy

With the way the world is going today (especially in terms of the anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers), this is something that a lot of people seem to be lacking. Out of the five main concepts (self-awareness, self-control, social skills, empathy, and self motivation)—I feel like everyone needs a good dose of empathy.

While I may be getting tired of being in self-isolation (more or less) daily, at least I know that I’m doing my part not to spread the virus. Just like I know that wearing a mask in public, helps slow the spread of the virus (even though I shouldn’t be carrying it—it would still help protect me from catching it).

Everyone that is screaming ‘it’s their right’ on whether or not to wear a mask, or get vaccinated, or whatever—yes it is your right, but the world doesn’t revolve around you. We’re a global society, and we really should be looking out for each other (instead of being of the ‘me-and-mine’ mindset).

After taking the course, I’ve realized that I need to work on the self-motivation (keeping the inner critic/imposter syndrome in check) the most, with maybe self-awareness coming in second. I’m usually aware of my emotions, and while I try not to let them get the better of me, sometimes I don’t always control my facial features as much as I should.

Another thing I did last month (and actually at the very end of the month)—I submitted a ‘application’ for paying freelance writing gig. The opportunity came from the company that I’m doing the volunteer writing for (one of the editors wants the pages on another site rewritten), so I sent a response with links to both the blog and my LinkedIn profile (as my portfolio) to the editor I work with and we’ll see what happens.

Even if I don’t get the job—I managed to quiet my inner critic long enough to ask some questions in one of the medical writing Facebook groups I’m in, and put together a response and emailed it back in the afternoon. This is a really big step for me, since I’m more likely to try to let the inner critic/imposter syndrome win and not try to go for things.

I decided earlier in the month that I was going to be keeping the website url, and running tagline for the blog. I will be updating the site over the next few months (especially with a ‘portfolio’ section to highlight various science/medical writing styles/topics, and other writing examples).

I’m not going to change up my ‘goals’ that much, though I will be trying to put a little more time into the other ‘writing’ projects that I’ve got on my plate.

The other goals for September will include:

  1. 130-150,000 steps; I’m hoping to get at least one walk in at Boomer Lake this month, in addition to maybe one or two walks through the neighborhood in the mornings (when I shouldn’t run into anyone who could be potentially ‘anti-mask’)
  2. Start my own fitness routine (weight lifting, shadow boxing, yoga/stretching)
  3. Start working through the User Experience Squad program, work on the writing assignments for the MWO and finish the sixth module of the MWO program
  4. Read one to two non-fiction books
  5. Read two to four fiction books (have small book reviews written and published)
  6. No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month
  7. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, and daily gratitude journal entries
  8. Craft time (continue working on the new cross-stitch project)
  9. Work through at least one other personal/professional development e-course

I’m keeping the goals similar to the ones for August—though I’m changing up the fitness/intentional movement goal. Instead of streaming workouts (though I might do that for the yoga), I’m going to just put on music and either lift weights (focusing on certain muscles) or shadow box. This way I’ll be getting in my fitness/intentional movement for the day, but at the same time will be having some ‘screen free’ time as well.

I’ll also be trying to figure out what other types of writing I’d like to be doing, so there may be a variety of blog posts (or pages) popping up throughout the month as I try my hand covering different topics.

While I’ve semi rewritten the ‘work with me’ page, that page and the welcome page may get updated throughout the fall as I slowly make my way into the freelancing world of writing, editing, proofreading, and crafting.

So, while time is starting to ‘speed’ up, I hope that everyone is getting their vaccination shot(s) against the virus, and if you have kids—they’re getting theirs as well. As that (along with masks and social distancing when needed) is really the only way we’re going to be able to get to a ‘new’ normal.

While I’d asked this question last month on what types of posts people would like to see more of (science/educational, personal/professional development, hobbies/crafts, book reviews, or thoughts on different career paths), I decided that I will continue forward with a mixture of all (as that fits my personality and my top two strengths: learner and intellection).

I’m going to share the words I chose for 2021 again— growth, creativity, curiosity, happiness, and prosperity.

What are you most excited for this fall?

No Comments Book ReviewsBookscareerCraftsfinancesfitnessHealthLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesMonth in Reviewno spend challengesPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentReflectionsspirituality

The ‘dog days of summer’ hindered some goals

So the year is officially over halfway over–there are only 153 days left in 2021. While it seems things are still speeding up (I swear that yesterday was May 31st), I have a bad feeling that we’re possibly heading to another lock down (or at least a emergency declaration) within the next few months. The number of people getting vaccinated is starting to decline, and the main variant of the virus (the delta variant) is said to be as contagious as chickenpox. While the vaccine will prevent you from dying (unless you have numerous other underlying issues), you can still spread the virus–so please, get vaccinated, wear a mask, and still practice social distancing. It would be nice if we could end the pandemic before the start of a new decade.

I’m truthfully trying to stay away from the news right now (I’m tired of all the irritating/disturbing news), and I’m fully aware that by doing that I’m exercising my ‘white privilege’. While a good portion of the US population has gotten (or is getting) their vaccine, our total number of cases currently is now slowly going up. When I published ‘June in Review’, I noted that the US was at a little over 34.5 million cases, and now the US is at a little over 35.7 million (So there was an increase of a little over 1.2 million cases for the month). So, the numbers are going back up (June only had ~500K new cases), it’s going to be scary to see what the numbers are in a couple of weeks when various schools (both public and colleges) start up again.

Therefore, I’m going to continue to self-isolate, wear a mask when I have to go out, and even cut back on the frequency of walks at Boomer Lake (or perhaps go a little earlier in the mornings).

Before looking ahead to August (midway through the third quarter, and a new set of goals, plus the plans of become slightly more productive), I should look at the goals I set for July and see how I did with each of them

The goals for July included:

  1. 135-150,000 steps, these will hopefully include at least one walk at Boomer Lake and then I will have to figure out how I’m going to get the rest in–due to the fact we’re going to be heading into the ‘dog days of summer’
  2. Finishing up LIIFT4 and starting the second round of Morning Meltdown 100
  3. Read one to two non-fiction books (and write small reviews)
  4. Read two to three fiction books (and write small reviews)
  5. Finish the writing/editing assignments for MWO, the MWO course, and work through the first module of the Regulatory Affairs Council program
  6. No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month
  7. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude entries
  8. Craft time (start the cross-stitch project, and possibly create at least one necklace)
  9. Work through at least one other personal/professional development e-course
  10. Start back at refreshing Spanish (30-45 minutes a day, two-to-three days a week)

So how did I do with each of them?

135-150,000 steps–I managed to reach the minimum number of steps (and actually slightly surpassed with a a total of 140,686 steps), since I was able to do two walks at Boomer Lake earlier in the month. I know that I can put movies on and march in place/circles to get in the steps (I’ve done it in the past)–I just didn’t feel like watching TV this past month.

Finishing LIIFT4 and starting MM100

I was actually almost finished with LIIFT4 (the lifting portion), when I semi-sprained my wrist mid-month. I had been doing some yard work and tried to cut a thick branch with the pruners and placed a little too much pressure on my wrist. I then decided I would focus on ‘intentional’ movement again while waiting for my wrist to heal. Even though there is some slight discomfort (every so often), I will be restarting LIIFT4 (possibly going light for awhile) on Monday, and then starting my second round of MM100 in September (finishing up 2021 with the program).

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

I’m currently a little over a third of the way through ‘The More of Less’ by Josh Becker. July was more fiction reading than non-fiction reading (in part due to the frequent mild anxiety attacks I’d been having).

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

The fiction books I managed to read this month included:

The Scent of Magick (McKendrick Warlocks #3) by Rhyannon Byrd

Come Together (Butler, VT #7) by Marie Force

Inked Obsession (Montgomery Ink: Fort Collins #2) by Carrie Ann Ryan

In addition to binge reading the Green Mountain series and the first six books in the Butler VT series by Marie Force (to be able to red book seven).

So far, Inked Obsession is the only one that has a review up on the blog currently. I’m working on the other two (A Scent of Magick and Come Together), and they should be getting posted sometime during August.

Finishing up the writing/editing assignments for MWO, the MWO course, and working through the first module of the Regulatory Affairs Council program

I have my first ‘drafts’ of the editing assignments finished (I may go back and try to re-edit one or two of the assignments [see if I can get the word count down a little more for one of them]), and am slowly working on the writing assignments.

I didn’t watch any of the videos from the Regulatory Affairs Council program.

No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month

While this will be covered in a little more depth in my limited spending check-in post, I will say that I did spend a little more this month than I had originally planned on.

Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude entries

Well, we’re in the dog days of summer—so if I was outside it was usually sitting in front of the fan (though I did manage to get two walks in at Boomer Lake this past month). I’ve been good at doing my evening meditation/sitting quietly for a few minutes before bed.

In terms of the daily gratitude entries, I’d been pretty good at doing those up until the past week or so. Goal for August—gratitude entry before other work in the evening.

Craft time (start the cross-stitch project and possibly create a necklace)

I have started a cross-stitch project. I haven’t gotten very far with it, but it is going to be an abstract design (actually really—no design, but trying to use each color of thread at least once), that I hope to finish by the end of September.

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

I started working through the one program ’15 errors in scientific writing and how to fix them’ last week (I’ve managed to watch at least five videos, and am about a quarter of the way through the course).

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

Nope, this still hasn’t happened. I think the main reason is that I’m trying to put too much stuff on the ‘plate’ each day, and if something has to be ‘left’ behind (as in not finished or started), it is usually this—refreshing Spanish.

While there were a few goals that I didn’t meet (refreshing Spanish, working through various e-courses, and having a ‘good’ limited spending month), I did manage to get a few other things accomplished.

I applied for, and was accepted as a volunteer medical content writer. While it isn’t a paid position—I’m gaining experience in medical content writing, and a company I can use as a reference at some point in the future. It is also helping me focus on topics that may not be of total ‘interest’ to me, but of interest to others.

Therefore, going forward I’m going to have to try to get better at time/project management—so that I can get things checked off the to-do list, but also generate content for others (currently just the medical content company).

I’m also working on trying to add more science and health posts and pages to the blog as well, with the goal of having at least one to two new pages a month, in addition to one to three new posts a month.

I’m keeping my goals fairly consistent—as that is how they become habits. Since I still slightly struggle with a few of them (limited spending, working through e-courses, and so forth), that means they’re not habits yet, and even when they become habits—they will still have a spot in the tracker journal.

As we move into the last five months of 2021—we may be facing another ‘shelter in place’ order (depending on how bad the delta variant of the SARS-CoV2 virus continues to spread), which means focusing on my mental health may take priority again this fall. The past couple of days, I’ve felt my anxiety spike just over the thought of picking a new template for the blog, rearranging the order of pages (possibly combining some and removing others), adding new pages and ‘rewriting’ my home and work with me pages.

While, I don’t like the semi out of control feelings that the anxiety attacks produce—I’m acknowledging the sensations and working through the feelings. The redesign of the blog may take a few weeks (or possibly even a few months), but I’ll get it done. When the anxious feelings really spike—that will be when the computer is shut down, and I pick up the cross-stitch project and stab the cloth over and over again (it actually helps).

So, the first seven months of 2021 are over, who knows how the last five months are going to go (especially in terms of the pandemic)—but I know that I will keep showing up daily, working on laying the foundation to an online career and presence. That career and presence will be multi-facet, mainly so that I don’t lose interest as I move forward.

Therefore the goals for August will include:

  1. 135-155,000 steps; I will probably need to put a movie (or three) on to get the steps in this month. We’re in the middle of the ‘dog days of summer’, and the delta variant is surging both in town and the state–this means I’m going to have to start limiting both the number of walks and the time spent up at Boomer Lake.
  2. Restart LIIFT4 (following the lifting schedule, not necessarily streaming the program)
  3. Finish up the writing/editing assignments for MWO, the MWO program, and roll the dice to figure out the next advanced cheeky scientist program to start
  4. Finish reading two to three of the four non-fiction books I’ve started over the past two months
  5. Read two to four fiction books (write small reviews for at least one of them)
  6. No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month
  7. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, and daily gratitude entries in the journal
  8. Craft time (continue working on the cross-stitch project)
  9. Work through at least one other personal/professional development e-course

The goals are similar to last month; I just decided I’d leave off refreshing Spanish currently (since I have enough on the plate, when I also add in the weekly content I need to write for my volunteer position).

If another ‘shelter in place’ order is given this fall, I will probably have to go through various social media accounts and limit the number of political things I see (I’m totally pro-vaccine, pro-mask, and pro-social distancing; I just get tired of seeing all the stuff in regards to those who aren’t following the guidelines).

The blog/website will be getting a ‘new look’ over the coming weeks/months as I try to streamline how things look, and what type of ‘work’ I’ll be offering (writing/photo stock/project management and so forth). The domain name won’t be changing for a while (possibly late fall or early next year), depending on how things work out.

I’m going to share the words I chose for 2021 again— growth, creativity, curiosity, happiness, and prosperity.

What type of post would you like to see more of: science/educational, personal/professional development, hobbies/crafts, book reviews, or thoughts on different career paths?

No Comments Book ReviewsBookscareerCraftsfinancesfitnessHealthLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesMonth in Reviewno spend challengesPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflectionsspiritualityUpdates

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

May Goals: Time Management Improved, onto increasing daily productivity

So we’re entering the final month of the first half of the year–I guess with the vaccines rolling out to deal with the pandemic, time seems to be speeding up again (at least for me). I’m slowly figuring out my productivity ‘cycle’ as I’ve realized that I’m more productive/aare during certain months compared to others. This shouldn’t have surprised me–everything is basically cyclic, from our days to our habits–we have good days and bad days. Therefore I’m working on not ‘beating’ myself up if I don’t hit all the milestones that I set for teh month (and I have been in the habit of setting a lot of goals lately).

I’m still planning on self-isolating for at least the summer and early fall (I want to see what type of numbers we’re going to ahve wtih summer and everyone heading out on vacations and traveling).

The news is still irritating/disturbing (but what else is new?)–The republican senators blocked the passage of the bipartisan commission to look into January 6th, and everyone who voted to block it should be voted out of office next year (fingers crossed, but not holding out too much hope). It has been 100 years since the Tulsa Race Massacre, and I think the event is just making its way into Oklahoma history books. I grew up in Oklahoma, and part of the curriculum to graduate is taking a semester class on Oklahoma history, and this event wasn’t covered (and it wasn’t covered in high school American history either), I think I first heard about it in college.

I’m still liking the fact that we have an administration that is actually listening to science, as we’re still slowly getting the virus under control. When I published ‘April in Review’, I noted that the US was just a little over 33.1 million cases, and now the US is at a little over 34.1 million cases (so an increase of basically a million cases, and I think this has been one of the lowest increases since last summer). This is probably due to more people getting the vaccine and listening to the experts. Now we’re just going to have to wait and see if there are any spikes this summer/fall due to summer breaks, vacations, and the experts saying that if you’re fully vaccinated (and without underlying health conditions) you don’t have to wear a mask or really social distance (I’m fully vaccinated & I plan on still doing both of those things for quite a while).

Though before jumping into June with both feet (and becoming more productive), I need to look back at the goals I set for May and see how I did with each of them.

The goals for May included:

At least 135-155,000 steps

Finish up 21-Day Fix Live & start 21-Day Fix Extreme Live

Finish reading the three books I started in April

Read 3 fiction books

Finish up the Clinical Research Coalition program, the writing/editing assignments for MWO, and the first two modules of the Regulatory Affairs Council program

No spend days/No spend weeks/limited spending month

Time outdoors & meditation/sitting quietly

Craft time (make/design 1 necklace/bracelet set)

Finish (or start) at least two other e-courses

Manage at least 30-45 minutes a day of Spanish

Activate the time management app: Self Control

So how did I do with each of them?

  1. At least 135-155,000 steps; I managed to surpass the minimal number of steps, and actually got 187,855 steps for the month. This included several walks up at Boomer Lake, and at least two to four walks through the neighborhood with Chaos.
  2. Finish 21-Day Fix Live and start 21-Day fix extreme live; Well, I finished the first week of 21-Day Fix Live, then concentraetd more on intentional movements for a couple of weeks, and then started my 3rd round of LIIFT4 at the end of the month.
  3. Finish reading the three books I started in April; I did manage to read (and finish) two non-fiction books this month, but they weren’t ones that I started in April. Instead they were books that were randomly chosen as I started to play my personal/professional baord game. The two books were ‘The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living’ by Meik Wiking and ‘Permission to Screw Up: How I Learned to Lead by Doing (almost) Everything Wrong’ by Kristen Hadeed. Book reviews for both of the books have been posted as well last week. One of the two (‘Little Book of Hygge’) was actually on my abridged 2021 reading list.
  4. Read 3 fiction books; While I managed to read quite a few fiction books throughout the month–there were really only three that were ‘brand’ new reads (the rest were basically re-reads). The three books that I read were (and book reviews will hopefully be posted wtihnn the next week or so):
    • 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
  5. Finish up the Clinical Research Coalition program, the writing/editing assignments for the MWO group, and the first two modules of the Regulatory Affairs Council program; I did finish the Clinical Research Coalition program, and am in the process of writing up a review on it, plus the things I may need to brush up on (learn), if I decide that this is a direction I may want to go in. In terms of the other parts to this goal–I’m still working on the writing/editing assignments, and I didn’t get around to watching any of the videos for the first two modules of the regulatory affairs council program.
  6. No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month; Still fell short of a totally limited spending month, I would say that it was on par for March in terms of spending. There will be more on this when I do my monthly check-in on the spending challenge (post will probably be posted either tomorrow or Thursday).
  7. Time outdoors & meditation/sitting quietly; I’ve been getting better at my evening meditations, I think I only talked myself out of it once or twice this month. It was a soggy month (especially mid-month), that limited the amount of time spent outdoors. But when I could spend time outdoors I did.
  8. Craft time (design/make 1 necklace/bracelet set); Well, I didn’t ‘sit’ down for craft time this month. I was outside more with the camera (on the days that permitted it).
  9. Finish (or start) at least two other e-courses: So, this didn’t happen. I didn’t start or finish any e-course (other than the Clinical Research Coalition program) during May.
  10. Manage at least 30-45 minutes a day of Spanish: So this is something else that I didn’t get accomplished during May. While I’m trying to get better at time (and project) management, I never seemed to figure out the best time of day for refreshing Spanish. I also realized that I should probably have started with a lower ‘aim’ of 30-45 minutes, 2-to-3 days a week (instead of aiming for everyday).
  11. Activate the time management app: Self Control; I did manage to activate the time management app, Self Control this month. This is an app, where you add in the websites you want to stay off of, the amount of time to stay off of them, and then you hit start.

The pros: you can adjust the time and list from day-to-day. The only ‘con’ is you have to turn on the app every day (there isn’t a setting for setting which days you want it to be active). Plus (this can be a pro or con depending on your viewpoint), it stays active even if you have to reset your computer (which I’ve had to do a couple of times).

But I do think that I managed to get a little more accomplished this month once I got over my ‘fear’ of using the app, instead of aimlessly scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, or shopping on Amazon.

So I think I managed to meet about half the goals (in some form), and I realized having 3 goals that require a good amount of time on the computer daily was being a little ambitious, and at times has been probably a reason for one or two (possibly all three) not getting fully accomplished. Going between different genera for reading is ‘easier’ than mentally ‘switching gears’ in terms of concentration and note-taking (at least for me at times).

I had posted earlier that I created a board game to help me stretch the comfort zone and also limit the indecision on what to do next–it would simply be a roll of the dice, and if I wanted to ‘skip’ the square, answering a few questions. So far, the game has allowed me to get two non-fiction books read (yep, prior to the game I was once again bouncing between non-fiction and fiction books), and finishing up the clinical research coalition program.

I also decided yesterday that I would create a few more ‘trackers’ for tracking professional development ‘social media’ interactions, as I have a bad habit of lurking or not getting on social media for extended periods of time (due to anxiety), and I’m hoping that this helps me deal with said anxiety issues.

First attempt for tracking professional development ‘social media’ interactions

So in addition to what I will be trying to track for professional development, the other goals for June will include:

  1. At least 130-150,000 steps; we’re basically in summer, so hopefully will be able to get up to Boomer Lake at least once a week
  2. Continue with LIIFT4 (mainly the lifting portion, HIIT/core if I feel like it)
  3. Read at least one non-fiction book and post the review (more if I land on another ‘read’ square)
  4. Read at least 2 fiction books (and post reviews)
  5. Start (and probably finish) the Intellectual Property Pack course, and work on the writing/editing assignments for the MWO group
  6. No spend days/No spend weeks/Limited spending month; honor the limited spending challenge
  7. Time outdoors and meditation/sitting quietly
  8. Start (and possibly finish) at least one other e-course (take good notes)
  9. Craft time (doodle a cross-stitch design, design a necklace/bracelet set, more photography)

The goals are more or less the same as last month (just changing the name of the workout program and at least one of the e-courses), but that is how they become habit–you keep doing them until you’re no longer really thinking about doing them–you just do them. Then you can go to ‘new goals’, and keep repeating those, and on and on.

Besides trying to make sure that I ‘succeed’ at reaching the goals for June–my ‘biggest’ goal will actually be feeling like I was productive and not just sitting around ‘wishing’ for things to go a certain way, but actually brainstorming and working towards those ‘wishes/goals’. With thinking of joining the ‘online’ space as a freelance writer/proofreader/editor/data analyst/project manager/photographer–I’m going to have to figure out ways of ‘sticking out’–which means determining the category/subjects/niches for at least writer/proofreader/editor/data analyst/project manager portion, since I’m pretty sure I’ll be sticking with nature (and pet) photography for awhile.

I’m going to remind myself daily of one of the quotes that I picked for 2021: “You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one”, plus the words: growth, creativity, and curiosity.

What science (or possibly history) topics do you either find interesting or confusing (or both)???

No Comments bird watchingBookscareerfinancesHealthmoney saving challengesMonth in Reviewno spend challengesPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentReflectionsUpdates

Review of April Goals: Cyclic trend in goal completion

Well, we’re a third of the way through the year–four months down and eight to go. While the number of people getting vaccinated is either going up or holding steady, new cases of SARS-CoV2 are also on the rise in certain parts of the world (namely India). Therefore, this lady is still going to be self-isolating for quite a few more months, even though I did manage to get my vaccine at the beginning of the month (I got the J&J vaccine, so 1 shot and done).

In terms of various news stories–the cop, who was filmed with his knee on the neck of George Floyd was found guilty on all three counts of murder. His sentencing is in another two months or so (and I personally hope it is life without parole). There are so many problems in this country that have their roots sunk deep in racism, and how a portion of cops act towards non-whites is a huge part of that problem. Then there is the whole other topic of gun control (which I’m not going to touch here, at least right now).

I like the fact that we have a new administration that actually listens to and promotes science. While there are still a few hots pots within the country, we’re slowly getting the virus under control. When I published ‘March in Review’, I noted that the US was a little over 31.1 million cases, and now the US is at a little over 33.1 million cases (so it was an increase of basically 2 million cases for the month, slight increase but compared to numbers from last year–nothing really major). I think the slight uptick in cases was probably due to various spring breaks and small regional ‘outbreaks’.

Before looking ahead to May (with the plans of becoming slightly more productive and organized), I should look at the goals that I set for April and see how I did with each of them.

The goals for April 2021 included:

At least 130-150,000 steps; this will hopefully include at least 1 walk at Boomer Lake and several shorter walks with Chaos with the weather hopefully getting nicer

Getting a new pedometer

Finish up CIZE and then move on to 21-Day Fix Live

Read (or finish) 3 non-fiction books

Read 3 fiction books

Finish up the Clinical Research Coalition program, MWO assignments, and at least the 1st module of the Regulatory Affairs Council

No spend days/No spend weeks/Limited Spending Month

Time outdoors and meditation/sitting quietly

Craft time (jewelry design)

Finish (or start) at least 2 other e-courses

Manage at least 30-45 minutes a day learning Spanish

So how did I do with each of them?

At least 130-150,000 steps: I managed to meet and surpass the goal of 150,000 steps. I actually managed to get in 187,411 steps–this included 2 full walks at Boomer Lake, a partial walk at Boomer Lake, and probably half a dozen walks or so with Chaos throughout the neighborhood.

Get a new pedometer: I got a new pedometer that also acts as a watch during the day. I decided that I didn’t need to sleep with it on (as one of the features is sleep tracking), as I usually sleep better without knowing how often I toss and turn

Finish up CIZE and then move on to 21-Day Fix Live: I finished up CIZE (more or less), and while I have started 21-Day Fix Live, I’ve also been walking and doing things outside as well, so there are days that aren’t ‘tracked’ via the Beachbody workout platform, since they no longer have an option for adding in non-Beachbody workouts.

Read (or finish) 3 non-fiction books: While I’ve been reading, I haven’t actually finished any of the three that I started as I’m also trying to work through the various exercises within the books as well. The books that I’m currently reading are:

‘Design Your Life: How to build a well-lived, joyful life’ by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

‘Career Rehab: Rebuild Your Personal Brand and Rethink the Way You Work’ by Kanika Tolver

‘Reivention Road Map’ by Liz Ryan

Read 3 fiction books: I have manage to read quite a few books this month (though I have yet to write any book reviews). The books I read were:

My One Night (On My Own #1) by Carrie Ann Ryan

State of Affairs (First Family #1) by Marie Force

I also re-read the entire Fatal series by Marie Force as well before State of Affairs was released (there were 16 full length books and two novellas in the series).

I also read the first two books of the ‘Steeles at Silver Island’ series by Melissa Foster.

Finish up the Clinical Research Coalition program, work on the MWO assignments, and start in on the Regulatory Affairs Council program (three of the advanced Cheeky Scientist programs): Well, none of this happened this month.

No spend days/No spend weeks/Limited spending month: I did okay for the first three-fourths of the month, there were book splurges towards the end of the month. More on this in the next installment of my limited spending challenge updates.

Time outdoors and meditation/sitting quietly: Weather was nice, so there was more time outdoors, and I have been meditating most nights as well.

Craft time (jewelry design–try to make 1 necklace/bracelet set): Nope, the only crafts I did this month was a little photography and the addictive color by number pictures on the kindle app

Finish (or start) at least two other e-courses: Well, since I didn’t complete any of the cheeky courses, this didn’t happen either.

Manage at least 30-45 minutes a day refreshing Spanish: I think I managed a day or two of Spanish this past month.

So in terms of meeting my goals for April–I think I am more or less at an even fifty percent. I managed to meet half the goals, while not getting close on the other half of the goals. Part of the problem is the nice weather–I want to be outside, so I go outside but I usually don’t take anything out with me to work on–then I get upset with myself at the end of the day when ‘nothing’ has really been accomplished.

Another problem–is just the mindless scrolling through both the internet and social media. Therefore, I’m going to start making use of the one ‘time management’ application (Self Control) that I downloaded earlier in the year, but have yet to activate it. While I have done my ‘May brain dump’, I’m also going to be putting thing on a weekly ‘to-be-accomplished’ list with a set of due-dates for various stages of work (research/rough draft/editing/posting and publication). This will hopefully allow me to get more posts and pages up on the blog, and possibly some posts for LinkedIn as well.

I’m also giving myself grace, as I realize that everything is cyclic, and while some months may be extremely productive, the next month (or two) may not be that productive, but things can always swing back towards productive with a little bit of focus.

Therefore, the goals for May 2021 will include:

At least 135-155,000 steps; since the weather will be getting warmer, hopefully there will be at least a weekly walk at Boomer Lake, and possibly half a dozen or so with Chaos through the neighborhood

Finish up 21-Day Fix Live and then start 21-Day Fix Extreme Live

Finish reading the 3 non-fiction books listed above

Read 3 fiction books

Finish the Clinical Research Coalition program, the MWO assignments, and the first 2 modules (at least) of the Regulatory Affairs Council program

No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month

Time outdoors and meditation/sitting quietly

Craft time

Finish (or start) at least two other e-courses

Manage at least 30-45 minutes of Spanish at least 5 days a week

Activate the time management app: Self Control

While continuing to remind myself: ‘Progress over Perfection’, ‘You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one’ and ‘Not caring what other people think is the best choice you will ever make’

In addition to remembering: Growth, Creativity, Curiosity, Happiness, and Prosperity were the words I chose for 2021.

No Comments careerCraftsfinancesfitnessHealthLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesMonth in Reviewno spend challengesPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentReflectionsspirituality

A quarter of the way through the year: Reviewing March Goals

So we’ve made it through the first quarter of 2021–three months down, and nine to go. While non-essential trvel (bacially anything other than work) is still semi-frowned upon hopefully by mid to late 2022, it will be allowed again. While numbers are still going up worldwide, hopefully between the various vaccine that are available the pandemic is starting to come under sometype of control.

I have a feeling that basically every year now there will be several ‘WTF’ moments scattered throughout the year. Though so far in 2021–we’ve had at least one WTF moment a month:

January & February saw issues with both the supporters of the orange blob and orange blob himself (for more see the post February in review), and winter weather. March then saw a cargo tanker get stuck in the Suez Canal for almost a week before it was unstuck and traffic started moving again. I loved the one meme that basically stated that you weren’t really having bad week unless your problem was visible from the international space station.

In terms of when I’ll be eligible for the vaccine–the state has opened up Phase 4 (which is my phase)-so all I really need to do now is call one of the local pharmacies and find out what the times are for the shot(s) and go get mine. So that means I should hopefully be ‘protected’ by summertime. Though I will still be social distancing and possibly self-isolating still as well.

I like the fact that we have a new administration that actually listens to science–we’re slowly starting to get the virus under control. When I published ‘February in Review’, I noted that the US was at a little over 29.2 million cases, and as of last night the US is at a little over 31.1 million cases (an increase of less than 2 million–and I’ve forgotten when the monthly increase was that low). Hopefully it is due to people getting the vaccine and listening to the experts. Though spring break was two weeks ago–so we will have to see if there is any upswing in cases during the early part of April.

So before I look ahead to April (with the plans of trying to become slightly more productive), I should look at the gaosl I set for March and see how I did with each of them.

Goals for March included:

Getting somewhere between 135-155,000 steps

Finishing up Barre Blend

Reading (or finishing) 2 non-fiction books

Reading 3 fiction books

Finishing up the assignments for the MWO & finishing the Clinical research coalition and Regulatory affairs council programs

No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month

Time outdoors and meditation/sitting quietly

Daily craft time (more emphasis on cross-stitching and jewelry design)

Finish at least two other e-courses

So how did I do with each one?

Getting somewhere between 135-155,000 steps. I manage to hit and surpass the step goal for March. With teh weather warming up and getting outside more–I managed to get 197,430 steps for the month. I had been able to do two walks at Boomer (a full ~5 mile walk and a shorter ~1.5 mile walk), plus walk Chaos through the neighborhood a couple of times.

Finish Barre Blend–well I managed to do the first four weeks of the program, and then switched and did CIZE and/or yard work/walking for my exercise regime for March. I switched the programs mainly because I’m not a barre fan. Being bowlegged/knock-knee didn’t help and the ‘modifier’ was still a professional dancer–so I felt like it wasn’t really a ‘modifier’–she was just someone who is doing the workouts low impact.

I am going to finish up the last four weeks of the program throughout the year–possibly a week at a time between other programs.

Doing CIZE has been fun–I still have two left feet and have to go slower and modify more than I would like to currently (there are certain moves that I just don’t feel like I can do them ‘on beat’)–but I’ve managed to try five of the six workouts (routine six will be tried next week), but currently I actually prefer the second and third one over the others (though how I feel on #6 is still up in the air until after next week).

Read (or finish) 2 non-fiction books

I managed to finish the following: ‘The Renaissance Soul: How to make your passions your life: A creative and practical guide’ by Margaret Lobensteine

I’m also halfway through the following: ‘You Turn: Get Unstuck, Discover Your Direction, and Design Your Dream Career’ by Ashley Stahl

I’m working on a post that incorporates an exercise from The Renaissance Soul, so I will also be posting it as a partial book review, along with it also being a partial book review for ‘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. I finished that book back in October last year.

Since I’m only halfway through ‘You Turn’–I’m about a half a book behind ‘schedule’ for the year. I’ve managed to read 5 non-ficition books so far–I’m a sixth of the way to my goal of 30 non-fiction books by the end of the year.

Read 3 fiction books

I read the following books during March:

Billionaire Unexpected–Jax (Billionaire Obsessions #16) by J.S. Scott

This is the 16th (though technically 17th book since there was a novella released within the ‘Washington Billionaires’ arch) billionaire obsession book. This series focuses on ‘ultra-rich’ billionaires and the trials and tribulations of being able to find someone who will love them for them and not their money. While every book is a stand-alone book, they’re ‘grouped’ into mini-series that usually introduces the next ‘mini-series’ (usually within the last book of that ‘mini-series’), and I would suggest reading them (at least each ‘group’ ) in order to have all the backstory for each character. Jax is the second in the ‘California’ group following his older brother’s book: Billionaire Undercover: Hudson, which had come out back in July of 2020.

Loving Arms (Slick Rock #30) and Wild & Reckless (Slick Rock #31) by Becca Van

I have the entire series and have been slowly re-reading the last 15 books since I decided to pre-order #32 which is out on April 2nd. This series (and all series by the author) are at the ‘hotter’ edge of romance (they’re menages), in addition to fact taht the heroines are all dealing with some contemporary social issue–so if you’re not into reading menages and don’t like dealing with various topics-then these books aren’t for you. While I would like to see a book where the female lead isn’t dealing with societal crap, I do like how she has numerous shoulders to lean on within the book and series. I read romance mainly to escape reality and transport myself somewhere where there is still a decent amount of good in the world–not saying that there isn’t good in the world, but with the way the world is going and the news–I’ll take my escapism every day thank you.

Exception to the Rule (Beautifully Imperfect #7) by Becca Van

Another contemporary series by Becca Van–again similar background to her Slick Rock series, so again–if you’re just into sweet and rosy romance series, again not for you.

There was also a sale on free e-books mid-month and I bought/downloaded probably another 30-40 books, so I will have pently to chose from during those weeks when I don’t have a new book to look forward to.

Finish up the MWO assignments and the Clinical Research Coalition & Regulatory Affair Council programs

I’m also through the third module for the clinical research coalition program. There are another eight videos left in this module (which is all about job search strategy) and then the fourth module (which has five videos about job trajectory) to finish. While I find the field to be interesting-if I decide to go this way, I think I will be focusing on the clinical research scientist side (the one that writes the protocols and does the analysis of the data collected in the study) instead of the clinical research associate side (which is the side that oversees the clinical trials–too much traveling for this girl).

I didn’t make any headway into the regulatory affairs council program this month (I’m still somewhere within module 1) and I ididn’t try to power through the writing/editing tests for the MWO.

No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month

I’ve been pretty good at this challenge (and will have a more detailed breakdown on it in the monthly update on this challenge).

Time outdoors & meditation/sitting quietly

For the most part I’ve been able to spend a little more time outside in March than I did in January or February, since the temperatures are warming up. The issue now will be to make sure that I’m not spending so much time outside that I neglect doing what I need to do on the computer.

I’ve been doing better at evening meditations, as I think I only skipped one night last month.

Daily craft time–so I’ve done ‘crafts’ daily (if one counts being obsessed with the color by number app on the kindle), but other than that or the few days of photography–I haven’t expanded my ‘crafts’ niche yet.

Finish at least two other e-courses

Since I’ve been thinking more and more of going freelance/independent in terms of the next career stage I decided that I should start figuring out my ‘personal/professional’ brand and brushing up on digital marketing.

Therefore I watch the following ‘short’ courses on Skill Share (each were less than a half-hour):

Personal Branding: Your Copywriting Secret Sauce by Bonnie Summerfeldt

Create a Simple Digital Marketing Plan by Tamara Budz

Both were good short courses, and of course left me with more questions than answers (plus an assignment or two to work through).

I’m also starting to refresh my Spanish with the website Mondly as well. I’m happy that I remembered that I bought a premium subscription to the site and have the choice of numerous languages to learn. I’m starting off by refreshing my fluency in Spanish, and then will refresh my fluency in German, and then move on to another language).

Since it is April already the goals for the month will include:

At least 130-150,000 steps

Getting a new pedometer; my fitbit zip is currently acting up and since I can’t find a decently priced replacement–I’ll be going with a different brand of pedometer (hopefully getting the new one on Saturday–so steps may be off for the first two or three days of the month

Finish up CIZE and move on to 21-Day Fix Live

Read (or finish) 3 non-fiction books (plus hopefully post book reviews within 2-3 days of finishing)

Read 3 fiction books (again post book reviews within 2-3 days of finishing)

Finish up the Clinical Research Coalition program, work on the writing/editing assignments for the Medical Writers Organization, and work through at least the first module of the Regulatory Affairs Council (bonus if I finish all threethis month)

No spend days/No spend weeks/Limited Spending Month

Time outdoors & mediation/sitting quietly

Craft time (more photography and designing/creating at least 1 necklace/bracelet set)

Finish (or start) at least two other e-courses

Manage at least 30-45 minutes a day on Spanish

While I didn’t hit all goals 100% (especially reading non-fiction and working through professional development courses), I’ve realized that part of the problem is that I’m afraid if I decide to go that ‘direction’ in terms of my career I may end up bored before too long, and unable to articulate the reason to managers/supervisors and end up either being dissatisfied with my work or possibly fired.

But now that I know what part of my issues are–I should be able to recognize the signs and be able to prevent boredom from either totally occurring or getting too out of hand (because lets face it–all jobs are going to be slightly boring at some point).

I’ve figured that the best way to deal with this issue is to create personal/professional development plan for the next few years–I’m going to tailor it towards freelance/remote/contract/consulting/blogging and actually try to reach out for help in a few areas (something that I’ve been slightly petrified of doing lately–not admitting that I need help, but trying to figure out who would be the best to ask for help from–aka trying to find mentors).

Currently I’m reminding myself of the following: “Progress over Perfection”, and “You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one”. In addition to keeping the following words at the forefront: growth, creativity, curiosity, happiness, and prosperity.

How did your first quarter go?

No Comments BooksfinancesfitnessHealthMonth in ReviewPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections