Category: no spend challenges

Entering the second fall in self-isolation with a new bookcase, craft supplies, and books

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

We’re two-thirds of the way through 2021, and I’ve realized that I haven’t quite hit the stride I did when I started the challenge (January was the best month to date for this particular challenge).

My limited spending challenge is just that–I’m trying to limit my spending by dividing things into two groups (or categories): needed items and splurges.

So I did really well in January, and then started slipping each month a little more. I planned to ‘rebound’ and start honoring the challenge again in June, did fairly well for the month, did okay during July (though there will always be some type of minor splurges), and did semi-okay again this month (if one ignores the book splurges).

Hopefully, the book splurges (at least those that aren’t from the ‘freebie announcement emails’) will start to go back down during the next few months. While I did buy quite a few e-books this month, several of them are in terms of the professional direction I’m thinking of going in: freelance writing.

So how did August go in terms of purchases/splurges?

I bought myself a bookcase/nightstand to replace the haphazard one I’ve created over the years. This will also give me storage for the numerous books that I bought this month as well. In addition I bought a few more craft supplies (including a glue gun) to help me get through the fall and winter in semi-isolation.

Then there are the books (I don’t think a month will go by without at least a small splurge on books). The books I bought during August include:

Electronic books:

  1. How to Launch a Freelance Copywriting Business: Creative Writing for a Living by Jules Horne
  2. The Freelance Content Marketing Writer: Find your perfect clients, make tons of money, and build a business you love by Jennifer Goforth Gregory
  3. Start Your Own Freelance Writing Business: The Complete Guide to Starting and Scaling from Scratch by Laura Briggs and the Staff of Entrepreneur Media
  4. The Essential Guide to Freelance Writing: How to Write, Work, and Thrive on Your Own Terms by Zachary Petit
  5. Here with Me (The Adair Family #1) by Samantha Young
  6. Black Ops Mates (Complete Series-Lion Shifter Romance Box Set) by Ruby Knoxx
  7. One Night Years Ago (Sharp’s Cove #1) by J.R. Pace
  8. Two Favors Repaid (Sharp’s Cove #2) by J.R. Pace
  9. Three Times Ablaze (Sharp’s Cove #3) by J.R. Pace
  10. JET (Books 1-3) by Russell Blake
  11. The Power of Reinvention: Personal Stories of How Our Greatest Challenges Become the Catalyst to Reinvent our Life! by Mags Thomson, Irene Anggreeni, Rachel Claire Farnsworth, Emma Smillie, Dr. Trinise White-Foster, Marie Dobenesque, Silika Thor, Martin Gillespie, and Einavi Avni
  12. Just Tell Me What I Want: How to Find Your Purpose When You Have No Idea What It Is by Sara Kravitz
  13. Slightly Off Balance by Kaylie Hunter
  14. New Girl in Town (Olivia Knight FBI #1) by Elle Gray
  15. Weakest Lynx (The Lynx Series #1) by Fiona Quinn
  16. Deadly Act (Kylie Hatfield Series #1) by Mary Stone and Bella Cross
  17. Catnip & Curses (The Faerie Files #2) by Emigh Cannaday Book Read & Review coming soon
  18. Phoenix Rising (Complete Series) by Annie Anderson
  19. I Want to Do All the Things: Finding Balance as a Polymath, Multipotenialite, and Renaissance Soul by Arcadia Page Book Read

Physical Books:

  1. America Before: The Key to Earth’s Lost Civilizations by Graham Hancock
  2. Lost Civilizations: The Secret Histories & Suppressed Technologies of the Ancients by Jim Willis
  3. Plagues, Pandemics, and Viruses: From the Plague of Athens to Covid-19 by Heather Quinlan
  4. The Mayan Calendar & the Transformation of Consciousness by Carl Johan Calleman
  5. Maya Cosmos: Three Thousand Years on the Shaman’s Path by David Freidel
  6. Statistics for Dummies by Deborah J. Rumsey
  7. Statistics for Absolute Beginners by Oliver Theobald
  8. Biostatistics for Dummies by John Pezzulo
  9. Supernatural: Meeting with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind by Graham Hancock
  10. The Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self Love (2nd Edition) by Sonya Renee Taylor
  11. Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach (4th Edition) by Evelyn Tribole

Several of the ‘physical’ books fell under the personal/professional development area, while others were bought as possible ‘reference’ books for short story ideas. Though they were also bought because I’m interested in the topic (early human history). In addition several of the e-books also fell into the personal/professional development area–and as noted above, I’ve read one of them.

The books on freelancing writing (and how to start a freelance business) were bought mainly because that is the direction I’m really leaning in for my career transition. The transition is going to be a ‘mixed’ niche (science/medical writing along with personal/professional development, crafts/hobbies, and spirituality) that might be heavy in one area to begin with, but even out as I find my footing as a freelance writer.

So, yes numerous books were bought (probably on par with April or May, possibly even June)—but that has always been my weakness—books. I’m an avid reader who has absolutely no problem buying fifteen to forty new books when I still have a couple hundred on my e-reader that I haven’t read yet.

The bookcase/nightstand has been needed for quite awhile; I just hadn’t gotten around to getting one yet. The craft supplies were also deemed semi-essential as the pandemic is still raging, and I foresee myself staying in semi-isolation (weekly walk to get the weekend newspaper, and possibly monthly walks at Boomer Lake with a mask) until at least spring 2022.

I should hopefully be able to curb my impulsive e-book buying starting this month, as I’m going to be working on expanding my writing samples (possibly introducing a new landing page—‘portfolio’), and slowly getting my freelance/remote/contract writing business up and running this fall and winter.

For my inner shiny object/squirrel lover: Who is a ‘new’ to you author that you’ve found lately?

No Comments financesLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesno spend challengesPersonal DevelopmentPersonal Development ChallengesReflections

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

Slow and steady progress: 400 days into challenge

I just realized that I missed doing a 1-year check-in for the challenge last month since I’d been so focused on doing 100-day check-ins. I’ve also realized that I don’t check-in as often as I should with the list, possibly because we’re still in the middle of this damn pandemic and at times I feel like there isn’t a point.

TV shows were removed during earlier updates, as I usually don’t watch that much TV currently, and I am also thinking of cancelling my Beachbody-on-Demand subscription, since I’m also wanting to start ‘working-out’ away from the TV/computer screens. But, if I decide to do that—it will probably be before the fifth check-in on the challenge, and it will have it’s own post on the blog as well.

There is still the pandemic going on—which means that the travel plans are still on hold, and I’m still sheltering in place. While three vaccines have been approved for emergency use and the Pfizer was just granted full approval for people over the age of 12 (with several more in the middle of phase 3 clinical trials), I managed to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine (1 & done) in early April. The numbers of cases had started to go down, but then people got lax on getting their vaccines (or just didn’t want them—not going to rant here), and then the delta variant decided to become the most dominant—and numbers are going back up. Therefore, I’m still going to be sheltering in place through the fall and winter, and hope that maybe by the late-fall of 2022 things may be heading towards a new ‘normal’.

So how are things progressing?

Professional Development and Career–Ongoing:

Professional Development e-courses completed, and those that I will be working through
  1. Transition into an industry position (this is probably going to be remote/online or freelancing; exact direction (subjects) still to be determined; there will be several posts on this goal
  2. Learn a programming language (going to go with python to start); just need to set up the newer laptop and download both teh program and bookmark the e-courses that I bought on the subject
  3. Finish various e-courses that I’ve bought, but in particular:
    • Clinical Research Coalition--Finished May 30th 2021
    • Medical Writers Organization–need to finish the writing assignments; finished up the editing assignments last month
    • Data Science Syndicate–Finished September 3rd 2020
    • Project Management Consortium
    • Management Consulting Firm
    • Intellectual Property Pack–Finished June 25th 2021
    • Regulatory Affairs Council
    • All other e-courses that are in the journal (including other Cheeky Scientist Courses)
  4. More interaction on LinkedIn-while hard to score (see the below photograph), I’m slowly figuring things out. There are certain posts that do better than others, and certain versions of posts that do better than others.
    • Sharing articles from various biotech pages and other science pages–I’m managing to do this at least once a day, Monday thur Friday, I don’t really share much on the weekend.
    • Commenting on posts–as I commented on a post, I’m trying to do more than the just usual congrats, or that’s great. So this is still a work in progress
    • Giving/Asking for recommendations–this still needs to be done in order to ‘finish’ building my professional/personal brand on LinkedIn. I just have to decide who I’m going to ask (and then who I’m going to give recommendations to)
    • Start writing my own posts–see the below photograph, but I’m slowly dipping my toes into the world of LinkedIn publishing. I mentioned previously that my first two comfort/stretch/risk/die diagram posts had been my best posts (1st had over 1900 views, 36 reactions, and 12 comments; the second had over 6 thousand views, 36 reactions, and 20 comments). Obviously I didn’t use the correct hashtags with the third diagram (as it hasn’t come close to the number of views, reactions, or comments yet).
  5. Creating monthly/weekly/daily calendars for above goals–trying to get better at the whole ‘planning’ things out in advanced.
  6. Renew professional memberships–I need to pick two (one is going to be joining the American Medical Writers Association, and then the other may be either ASBMB or ASCB).

Screen-shots of the stats on some of the ‘original’ content I’ve created for LinkedIn

Personal and Professional Development: on-going

7. Becoming fluent in Spanish–I need to get back to using the app Mondly, and aim for thirty minutes two to three days a week to begin with and build back up to doing it daily.

8. Become fluent in German again

9. Become proficient in French, Norwegian, Swedish, or Mandarin

10. Read at least 300 personal/professional development books total (since I first started these challenges in 2017). Aiming for twenty to thirty (plus) books a year, this year is going to be low (unless I start really reading all non-fiction and very little fiction).

Various Non-Fiction books I’ve read since 2019

11. Finish the books on scientific writing

12. Start building a portfolio (possibly as another ‘page’ on the blog) of different types of work (writing/data analysis)

14. Develop a daily writing habit

15. Write a letter to my future self

Personal Development and hobbies: on-going

16. Paint and frame at least one original painting

17. More photography–have been doing some, but now between the weather and the delta variant I’m not walking at Boomer as much as I would like to

18. 365 photography challenge–this one I’d try to start, but had fallen off track already. May try to restart it in the fall

19. Update photography pages on blog–I’ve been adding pages to the bird tab, and I have about another 100 pages to go, plus have been trying to expand the travel pages as well

20. Make my own jewelry

21. Learn to cross-stitch–I’ve started an abstract project, where I’m just filling in the entire tapestry with colors

The current status of my cross-stitch project

22. Get a new sewing machine–on hold, due to the fact that there are issues with the machines being able to wind their bobbins, and the fact that people are probably buying them up again to make masks.

23. Make a new quilt (on hold due to #22)

24. Make a set of drapes for the bedroom (for backdrop when sitting at desk; on hold due to #22)

25. Start a new afghan–not sure if I’m going to be buying any yarn this year or not, since I still need to finish patching the second afghan that Chaos had chewed holes in.

26. Showcase crafts on blog (weekly update or possibly new pages when I have several completed?)

27. Start writing a book

28. Learn Photoshop

29. Write in the journal daily

30. Create my own coffee-table photography book

31. Learn basic sign language

32. Start a virtual book club

Finances: on-going (still a little difficult as there is no steady paycheck yet):

33. Create monthly budgets–currently this is just paying off the monthly bills

34. Credit cards debt down and hopefully paid off monthly–there are two that are high (where they aren’t paid off in full). Plus one is probably going to be high for a couple of months (since I’m thinking of possibly buying a bookcase and nightstand).

35. De-clutter the house–basically trying to sell DVDs back as a way of earning some extra money; on hold only because of the delta variant and me not wanting to be around other people

36. Saving account up another 20+K–this will take quite awhile since I haven’t ‘officially’ started doing any freelancing or remote work yet; nor have I landed any type of contract position

37. Talk with financial person about short-term investment possibilities–on hold, again due to the delta variant

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

39. Finish the various financial e-courses (and decide how to implement what I’ve learned)

Fitness and Health: On-going

40. Get into the best shape of my life

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

42. Manage to make it through the following Beachbody workouts–these might be removed by the time I do a 500-day check-in as I’m thinking of cancelling my beachbody-on-demand membership

43. Morning Meltdown 100–I finished my 1st round on 9/15/2020

44. Yoga Booty Ballet-Abs & Butt series–Made it through 3/4 of the program by 11/14/2020

45. 10 Rounds–1st round finished 12/26/2020

46.Barre Blend–Started on 2/8/2021; managed to do half the program before deciding to call it quits

47. Insanity Max 30

48. LIIFT4–Did a round of the program back in 2018; second round finished on 11/14/2020, 3rd round (focusing mostly on the lifting) was finished 7/23/2021

49. 22-Minute Hard Corps

50. T20

51. Insanity

52. Insanity: Asylum 1

53. Insanity: Asylum 2

54. 4 weeks of Prep

55. 6 weeks of work

56. T25 (have already done once)

57. Brazil Butt Lift

58. 21 Day Fix (have done once); started the ‘LIVE’ version and made it a week before moving to LIIFT4

59. 21 Day Fix Extreme (have done once)

60. Country Heat (have done once)

61. CIZE–managed to make it through the program, even though I felt like I had two left feet the entire time. Finished this April 9th 2021)

62. Muscle Burns Fat–First round finished 1/17/2021

63. Muscle Burns Fat Advanced–First round finished 2/7/2021

64. Let’s Get Up! (hopefully out fall 2021; but have to decided if I’m keeping BOD or not)

65. 9-week control freak off the wall (technically with dumbbells)

66. Shawn Week

67. 80-Day Obsession

68. Brazil Butt Lift: Carnival

69: Shift Shop: Proving Grounds

70. P90

71. Core de Force

72. Manage 5 push-ups on my toes (I had been practicing, but I haven’t done much lately–need to get back to it)

73. Manage 10 push-ups on my toes

74. Hold a two-minute forearm plank

75. Hold a ninety second plank

76. Meditate nightly–Have been doing, even if its only been for a minute or two

77. 60-80 oz of water daily–some days I fall way short on this; something to work on

78. Stretch daily

79. Get at least 10,010,000 steps (breaks down to 5K/day)–on my way; some months are better than others.

Blog and Social Media: On-going:

80. Finish the YouTube for bosses course

81. Finish the YouTube course creation for bosses course

82. Launch a YouTube Channel

83. Launch an online course

84. Launch an online freelance/remote/contract business

85. Get blog traffic to 500+ views a day–have managed to increase the monthly views (May-July it was a little over 500 views per month), and now just need to work on increasing the weekly and then the daily views

86. Rebrand myself (?)

87. Get Instagram followers to constant 800+

88. Get Pintrest followers to constant 400+

89. Get twitter followers to constant 1000+

90. Publish at least two blog series

91. Editorial calendars (monthly/weekly/daily)

92. Blog–tried this for August, but life had a way of throwing it out the window; will try it agian for September

93. Instagram

94. Facebook Page(s)

95. Twitter

96. Pintrest

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

98. Various top 10 author lists

99. Various top 10 book series lists

100. Launch a podcast

Spirituality: On-going:

101. Full/New Moon Goals–I’ve been managing to keep with these, even if I may not hit each goal that I set for each new/full moon

102. Create my own altar (wiccan/pagan): This was accomplished earlier this year, though I will be moving things around since it is a small shelf and everything feels crowded

103. Oracle Card readings (Weekly or Daily)–I’ve managed to do this more or less daily (though there have been a few days that I’ve missed). I started a 120-day oracle card sharing challenge, but after 26 days I’ve called it ‘quits’ for now, as it was feeling more like a task than an enjoyable hobby.

104. Sitting outside in the morning with my coffee (back to waiting for nicer weather–so hopefully sometime this fall)

Others (that don’t require travel): On-going

105. Keep at least three plants alive–I’ve managed to ‘root’ and replant several cuttings from our dumb cane plants, so I guess that could count as keeping plants alive. Though the Christmas poinsettia didn’t survive it’s repotting.

106. Design a science based board game

107. Update my digital vision board

108. Reorganize my storage unit

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

110. Help put up a partial privacy fence in backyard

111. Start downsizing clothes and creating different ‘minimum’ wardrobes (work/professional/casual; home/casual/working out). Have found different non-profits that I could donate clothes too, but the overall project is on hold due to the delta variant. Once that is under control, I’ll box up clothes that I don’t want and ship them off.

112. Develop different 30-day challenges–this one may be taken off by the 5th check-in if I haven’t come up with one and seen it through to completion.

113. Start down sizing the rest of my belongings (would like to live comfortably in a small house/apartment and I know that I don’t need majority of my stuff).

Goals that require a little traveling (or having moved into my own place):

114. Re-pierce my ears

115. Go to at least one scientific conference

116. Present at a scientific conference

117. Got to at least two professional networking events

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

119. Visit at least three new countries

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

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

122. Visit at least one new zoo

123. Visit at least one new aquarium

124. Fly out and/or land at three new (to me) airports

125. Visit at least one new city

126. Visit at least one ‘new’ state

127. See the northern lights

128. Attend at least one blogging conference

129. Attend at least one author-reader conference

130. Swim with whale sharks

131. Parasailing

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

133. New couch and chair for living room

134. New dresser for bedroom

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

136. New TV & stand

137. New desk/craft workstation

While the number of goals seem shorter than previous: the total number is still about 147 (ten of the goals in the professional development group were dotted instead of numbered).

Since, I thinking of cancelling my Beachbody-on-Demand membership next month, there will probably be about 25 ‘goals’ that may disappear from the list (at least the ones that would require the use of streaming; older programs that I have the DVDs on may still be done).

Therefore I may in add some additional personal or professional development programs to the list, or some other goals to take their place (in other words I’m not sure I’ll be decreasing the total number of goals or simply switching numerous ones out).

I’d mentioned in a post last week (my most updated comfort diagram share), that I felt like I’d let my time management slip the past month or so—and I have. I actually tried to make an ‘editorial’ calendar last month for August through October. But, life has a way of getting in the way at times, and it threw the calendar out the window (though I’m going to try to update it for the rest of fall).

I’m almost certain that I want to go in a freelance/remote/contract direction for my career (since the delta variant isn’t going to be disappearing anytime soon), and am slowly brainstorming the ideas needed for that pivot.

The bingo card that was created at the beginning of the year (both for yearly goals and the fitness programs I wanted to get completed), with the best intentions—I’ve realized that I probably won’t be getting a ‘bingo’ this year, and I will need to fine-tune the ideas for my 2022 yearly bingo card and any future fitness bingo cards.

I’ve decided currently that I’m going to keep the current web addy (becomingjessi) and the running tag-line (a little bit of this, a little bit of that) for the blog, but also start trying to brainstorm some ideas for new ones as I slowly start trying to develop my freelance/remote/contract business (writing, with possibly data analysis, project/product management, consulting).

So, the summer saw me becoming a little lax in time management and online learning—but I’m reactivating the self-control app, and will be setting weekly goals (say three hours of online learning, non-fiction reading, and work on crafts; in addition to some type of word total for writing).

The volunteer writing position that I took is helping me learn some of the ins and outs of researching various types of topics and writing for a general audience (I’m slowly figuring out how much science is actually needed within those topics), and I’m hoping to be able to do more than one post a week (one for the company, and then a different one for the bog) within another month or so.

So I will be brainstorming/mind-mapping different ideas for the career pivot that will appeal to my mixed-style multipontialite personality (different types or number of projects), and my strengths (learner, intellection, input, achiever, ideation, and deliberative) moving forward. This will mean trying to determine the best type of daily schedule (when to do research; what to research; how long to research; blocks for writing and so forth).

Therefore, the goals for the next 100 days will include getting through various professional development programs (finishing up the writing tests for the Medical Writers Organization, making it through the Regulatory Affairs Council, and possibly the Business Development Federation program as well), reading at least 3-4 books off the personal/professional development list, and creating my own fitness/intentional movement calendar for the rest of the year (weight lifting, and then some types of cardio and recovery), and then whatever else from the list that will fit into the 100-day schedule.

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Time and project management: Focus of the Second Aquarius Full Moon

So we’re going to be heading into our second Aquarius full moon for the year. Tonight, we will see the moon enter its full moon stage & the Aquarius constellation (for the second time). This means there are only 131 days left in 2021. While the year isn’t dragging as much as it did last year, I wouldn’t mind it slowly down just a bit.

I reflected on the questions for the Aquarius period again, and realized that some of my answers changed a little from the last month. So, again one can look at the book “Moonology: working with the magic of lunar cycles” by Yasmin Boland there are a series of questions that one reflect on during the next few days:

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

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

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

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

Have I allowed myself to move forward this month?

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

  1. I would say that my response is going to be similar to what I wrote last month. We’re in the middle of the delta variant surge (numbers are going up—and not the correct numbers [i.e. the number of people getting vaccinated]), so I’m really not interested in ‘the romance of life’ (though I am re-reading a couple of romance series).
  2. Well, yeah I have been living a little too much in my head and not enough in my heart. I’m trying to survive the combination of the pandemic and stupidity waves. Though I am trying to be a little more optimistic going forward-I’ve also realized that my faith in humanity has been severely shaken thanks the past few years.
  3. This depends on what one is talking about—especially since I’ve been on a ‘reboot break’ for the past year and a half. Since there is really no one correct way to take care of ones mental health—I’ve been focusing on what works for me (crafts, sitting outdoors, and when needed ignoring the world).
  4. I’m trying to network more on LinkedIn, but at the same time trying to have it focused in a few directions. I know that I need to build rapport and add value before even thinking of asking for something as simple as an informational interview. Therefore, I don’t think I’ve been trying to befriend people for the wrong reasons.
  5. I’ve slowly been moving forward this month. While I did try to set up an editorial calendar for the month (it went out the window by the 6th), I have made small progress in a couple of different areas. I’d decided that I’m going to try to go with weekly goals (in terms of different personal/professional development areas), and will also try to set aside certain time periods to focus on say research (even as simple as finding papers on different topics), and then also set aside time to write and edit.

Aquarius is also moving back through my 4th house or my home and family zone. This is the time when one should try to find a balance between one’s personal life and one’s career. Two months in a row, it is focusing on my home and family zone. While I mentioned last month that cases are starting to go up again, I’m pretty certain by fall we’re going to be back at hitting 2+ million new cases a month, at least until the vaccines are approved for younger kids and the parents wise up and get their kids (and themselves) vaccinated. Therefore, my personal life and career are still deeply ‘intertwined’, since I’m going to be home more or less all day, every day for the next few months.

I’m still working on shifting my mindset from ‘balance’ to ‘harmony’; allowing myself to be happy with whatever choice I’m making at any particular point of the day, without the overwhelming feelings of guilt for not trying to ‘multi-task’.

Therefore, I’m going to keep with the larger ‘open-ended’ goal that I set for the last Aquarius full moon:

Working on time and project management skills, by finding time for crafts, making progress on projects, and feeling accomplished at the end of the day.

My specific mini-goals will be:

  1. Create a timeline/schedule for my various writing projects that I’m coming up with (including the  ‘troubleshooting tips for molecular cloning’ writing project)
  2. Create a timeline/schedule for the rest of the bird pages for the blog
  3. Start a 30-day journaling challenge (find some type of inspiration on pintrest)
  4. Continue working on the cross-stitch project (hopefully have it done by no later than the end of September)
  5. Start working through various e-courses.

I’ve been slowly working on my time management skills over the past week. I’m back to using the app Self Control (added in a few additional sites to the block list), and that has helped in terms of mindless scrolling. Though I still need to fine-tune my daily/weekly schedules (or at least be at peace with the fact that I enjoy sitting outside so much during the nice weather).

I’m going to be trying to work on the project management aspect of things over the next few months, especially since I accepted he volunteer medical content writing position last month.

Therefore, I need to figure out the timelines for different projects (in addition the volunteer position), and actually stick to the schedule—though I know there will probably always be a slight change due to something going on in the world.

I will be reminding myself that the goal is progress not perfection, and even if the path looks to be winding back on itself—it is still forward progression, and as I move forward I will be able to see how far I have actually come.

What are some of the projects that you’re juggling?

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Updating my comfort diagram: reflections & planning for the fall

So I spent a good chunk of last week working on my 3rd comfort diagram. I’d been introduced to the concept about six months ago by one of my coaches during a zoom call (I’d been more or less rambling on what I thought my future plans were).

I’d decided that I was going to do a new version of it every three months, but also introduce a new zone between the comfort and stretch zone–the bounce zone.

I’d chosen the name ‘bounce zone’, because I didn’t feel like there were things that I’d been working on from the stretch or risk zones that could be moved all the way into the comfort zone (i.e. I didn’t feel like they’d become fully ingrained habits yet).

3rd rendition of my comfort zone diagram. Growth is being made, everything is back and forth.

You might notice that I still have blogging within the bounce zone. This is because at times I feel like I have ‘writer’s block’ and my inner critic/imposter syndrome pops in every so often and I end up not posting as frequently as I had originally planned.

As I was working on the diagram, I decided I would add one or two things into the stretch zone:

Intuitive eating, which is something I’ve been working on for the past few months. I have it in the stretch zone only because there are a couple of points that I’m still slightly struggling with:

(1) Eating enough protein during the day (especially at breakfast)

(2) Savoring the meals/snacks (i.e. taking more than ten to fifteen minutes to each the meal), and finally

(3) figuring out what type of intentional movements I enjoy doing, figuring out how to incorporate them into my day and then ignoring the rest. I know it may look funny putting movement (or exercise) in with nutrition, but they’re tied together in society.

The second thing I added to the stretch zone is learning more about UX (user experience), as a possible freelance/remote direction to go in.

I’ve actually completed a couple of courses over the past six month where I learned the basics on clinical research and intellectual property. I’m currently keeping them in the ‘stretch zone’ as I haven’t quite figured out how to tie them into the direction that I’m thinking of going (which is freelance/remote/contract focusing first on writing, and then possibly adding in data analysis, project and product management at a later point). Both topics were interesting, but I also realized that I probably wouldn’t want to go in either direction full time (in terms of clinical research–unless I was at the bench, I possibly would have to travel between clinical research sites frequently, and to become a patent agent would require passing the patent bar exam).

While I would like to possibly travel (depending on when the various variants of the SARS-CoV2 virus are contained), I don’t want to constantly travel for work, and currently I don’t want to go in a direction that would require a large amount of money and a standardized test.

But what has changed over the last three months?

Cross-stitching and science writing have bounced their way into the bounce zone, while time management and refreshing a foreign language have bounced their way back into the stretch zone.

I’ve realized that I enjoy doing more abstract design and creation (in other words not having to follow a set pattern), and my first cross-stitch project is actually a continuous circle with a few bumps in the road made up of different colors. I’m going to see how many different colors it takes to fill up the fabric, and not worry about little mistakes that I may make along the way.

I’m slowly making my way into science writing again. I managed to land a volunteer medical content writing position with a online Canadian magazine (Medical News Bulletin) last month. While it is a volunteer position (and they own the ‘rights’ to my work), I am learning the ins and outs of science communication for the lay audience. Hopefully then, this will flow over to the blog and I will be getting out at least one science related blog post a month (and possibly one to two science related pages a month as well).

I’m also trying to focus a little more on my spiritual health as well over the past few months, and it has bounced (along with oracle cards) to sit along side meditation in the bounce zone. This has been an area that has been bouncing between the stretch and the bounce zones the past couple of months (and will probably still bounce the next couple of months). I’ve always been fascinated and intrigued by ancient cultures and practices more so than contemporary practices–and have felt like an outsider growing up due to those interests.

Over the past month, I’ve picked up quite a few non-fiction books related to ancient cultures and practices for two reasons: one because they interest me, and I actually have the time to indulge in those interests; and two–they may serve as ‘reference’ books for a couple of short story ideas that I have bouncing around in my head.

Various non-fiction books that I’ve bought over the past month

I like Graham Hancock–I have his book ‘Underworld: The Mysterious Origins of Civilization’ in my storage unit. I bought this book back in the late 1990s after I finished reading the Egyptian Book of the Dead that I got for Christmas one year. The others were bought because I’m either fascinated with the civilization (Mayan) or feel like they could be good ‘reference’ books for short story ideas.

My time management has been slipping for the past month or more, due in part to the warmer weather (so I want to be sitting outside more often than I do during other times of the year, and preferably without my computer), and my anxiety has been spiking due to the rise in the number of SARS-CoV2 cases due to delta variant running rampant through the country.

So, I’m going to have to just ensure that I have various time management apps up and running on both my computer and phone (and possibly add in the different news sites to the ‘blocked for the day’ list)–because if I can’t see the news, I can’t stress out over it and have my anxiety spike (yes, I know that doing this is showcasing my privilege–but sometime protecting ones mental health means embracing certain things that I would usually try not to embrace).

Refreshing the foreign language also bounced back into the stretch zone for almost identical reasons as time management, with the addition of my inner critic/imposter syndrome poking their heads out and ridiculing me on my progress.

Therefore, the next three months are going to be focused on:

(1) Time management,

(2) learning (aiming for spending at least three and a half hours a week working through various e-courses; this breaks down to roughly thirty minutes a day),

(3) reading (aiming to read non-fiction for another three and a half hours a week (again, another thirty minutes a day),

(4) craft time (also three and a half hours a week at minimum; thirty minutes a day, while focusing on cross-stitching, jewelry design/creation, photography, and doodling), and

(5) writing (this will be the most varied area with different projects, but aiming for four to six thousand words a week).

Progress is being made–writing is slowly becoming an enjoyable habit again (after years of dreading having to do it), meditation at night is helping with anxiety (for the most part), and I’m going to work on incorporating it more often during the day. The staircase out of the pit of burnout does seem to go on forever, but I only need to take it a step at a time, and I can sit with a book on a stair whenever I need to catch my breath.

Question time–what are your favorite e-course sites and subjects?

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Focusing on self-care/self-love and research for the future

So, it doesn’t look like I set any goals during the Leo new moon last year–which isn’t that surprising since I think I was in a mini-meltdown due to the numbers skyrocketing and everyone complaining about things being closed, but unwilling to sit at home any longer. This year, the moon will make its transition into Leo either today or tomorrow (depending on where you live in the world), marking the eight new moon of the year.

I’m still having minor anxiety attacks and meltdowns due to the fact that we’re sixteen to eighteen months into the pandemic and while the numbers started to fall a couple of months ago, they’re on the rise again (due to people not getting vaccinated and the spread of the delta variant of the virus). But, I’m trying to work with the anxiety and hopefully not have that many days where I just sit and do nothing.

So, what are some of the things that one can do during the Leo New Moon?

  1. Show off–celebrate life
  2. Flirt
  3. Be creative
  4. Love thyself–self-love, work on confidence and leadership skills
  5. Spoil thyself

Well, since we’re still in the middle of the damn pandemic–I’m not going to be flirting with anyone (still trying to figure out my life), and I doubt I’ll be showing off that much (though this might change). I will be working on self-love/self-care, building my confidence (in terms of writing, crafts, and so forth), and possibly work on improving my leadership skills along with being creative and spoiling myself.

These are all good for being within the Leo constellation, but one should also look to see what house/zone the moon and Leo are progressing through as well. For me, it means that Leo is going through my 10th house (or my career zone). This is about my career and reputation (professional brand).

So what are some of the things that one can do during this time in regards to the career zone?

  1. Speak to your boss about how you’re doing
  2. Help a colleague out of a rut
  3. Check that you’re not becoming status mad
  4. Start a new business as close to the new moon as you can
  5. Apply for new jobs with confidence
  6. When you’ve earned it, take the credit
  7. Plot your next best career move

It’s nice that we’re reminded to check in on our careers twice a year (when the moon moves through our tenth house–both new and full). Since I’m still on a ‘reboot break’, there are a few things from the above list that currently aren’t happening–basically numbers one to three (speaking to one’s boss, helping out a colleague, and checking one’s ‘status’).

In terms of the others: I’m combining the next career move and ‘new business’ into one–I’m leaning more towards online/remote/contract/freelance writing, then looking for an in-person position currently (though this might change once the pandemic is hopefully under control again). Since I’m thinking also in terms of ‘contract’ positions–once I have my ‘ducks’ i a row, I will also be applying for new jobs with confidence as well.

The writing won’t be the only part of the ‘new business’; I’m also going to be doing some crafts, photography, and other things as well (to ensure that I won’t be super bored). Therefore the look and organization of the blog will be changing slightly over the coming months.

Looking at the lists of things that one can do during the Leo new moon, my goals for this period will include:

  1. Continue developing my self-care/self-love routine. This will include meditation time, time outdoors, journaling, stretching, and figuring out what type(s) of exercise I enjoy the most.
  2. Continue with the creative/reflective and minor research content posts for the blog, but also start working on creating more in-depth pieces as well (in addition to new pages, and consolidation of other pages)
  3. Determine the top five to ten (maybe even fifteen) types of freelance/remote/contract writing I would like to do, and start drafting examples of each, in addition to start drafting my ‘own’ medical content pieces.
  4. Determine the top five to fifteen items/sponsors/affiliates and so-forth for the other three ‘blocks’ of my business foundation.

Above all else remember: Progress over perfection, and keep in mind three of the words chosen for 2021: growth, creativity, and curiosity.

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Looking back at the ongoing personal and professional development adventures

So, the moon will be heading into the next new moon cycle tomorrow night (or possibly Monday night—depending on where you are in the world). That means I should look back at the goals I set for the Cancer new moon and see how I did with them, before looking ahead to the Leo new moon.

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

  1. Continuing with the ‘next adventures’ of my personal/professional development board game: reading two to three books (‘Why You’re Stuck’ by Derek Doepker, ‘More of Less’ by Josh Becker), work through a copy-writing course, and start drafting some science posts/pages.
  2. Figure out the answers to the following questions/points that I raised when trying to create a financial plan: (1) what are the different ways that I can earn money; (2) what would the ‘minimal monthly earnings’ be for each areas’ and (3) will it stay a online/remote/contract/freelancing/consulting/blogging mixture or will it be a hybrid (online and in person).
  3. Use the answers from above to slowly create a new 12-month goal/plan for the various areas of my life.
  4. Continue with my evening meditations/sitting quietly moments.
  5. Continue with my oracle card challenge and doing my evening readings/drawings as well.

So how did I do with each of them?

  1. I’m still working through the ‘current adventures’ of my personal/professional development board game. I’m currently halfway through ‘More of Less’ by Josh Becker, and just a little ways into ‘Why You’re Stuck’ by Derek Doepker. I’m slowly working through the different copy-writing courses, and I have an outline for my ‘troubleshooting tips for molecular cloning’ writing project completed.
  2. Last night I did a double post on how I was going to try to simplify my life and at the same time ways I was going to try to diversify my earnings. The initial four methods are going to be: freelance writing, affiliate marketing/advertising revenue/sponsored content; selling photographs; and creating/selling jewelry (and possibly some tee shirts). I’m still working on figuring out what the ‘minimal monthly earnings’ would be for each area (and I also realize that they may change month to month, especially as I’m just starting out). Currently I’m aiming for strictly online/remote/contract/freelance work since there are various variants of the SARS-CoV2 virus still spreading throughout the US and the world.
  3. This will actually be accomplished over the next week or so, since my ‘pillars’ for diversifying my income were only chosen over the past week or so. I also need to work on my ‘vision’ statement as well–basically try to answer the question of where do I see myself in say three, five, ten, or even twenty years.
  4. I’ve been doing well with the evening meditations or periods of just sitting quietly and focusing on my breathing.
  5. I’d been pretty good at the oracle card challenge, up until this past week. Currently I’m basically five days behind ‘schedule’ and I am thinking of doing a four-to-five card spread to ‘catch’ up and end it (currently) at 30 days. While I enjoyed doing the challenge, it has started to lose its enjoyment and is starting to feel like something I ‘have to do’ instead of something I want to be doing. The evening card drawings have been going okay–though I’m thinking of trying to move them to the mornings so that I can reflect on them throughout the day.

So, I focused more on the mental health goals this month compared to the professional development goals. I’ve realized what one of the triggers of my anxiety is–trying to set goals that are years in the future. The reason: I’m still ‘afraid’ of making the wrong decision in terms of my life, therefore I overthink things to the point of almost not doing anything.

The only way to face that ‘fear’ is to slowly move in the direction of change, and while I say ‘slowly’—I’m talking about working on ‘change’ daily (brainstorming ideas, research, writing, editing, and so forth), so that the anxiety starts to dull and hopefully only spikes then for ‘real’ threats. I’ve already started ‘slow’—I managed to get a volunteer medical content writing position, and I’m learning quite a bit from the editor and position (especially that writing 1000 words is harder than it looks when you need to limit the amount of scientific jargon you use).

So, the personal/professional development adventures will continue—hopefully I will be done with at least one of the books within a week or so, I will also have hopefully worked through part of at least one writing course, and have found five to ten resources/references for my ‘troubleshooting tips for molecular cloning’ writing project. I’m pretty certain that I can develop a ‘year’ plan that can be extended and revised as I met (or change) goals and benchmarks.

Progress is never a straight line, it can curve, fold back, and zigzag along—you just need to trust in the process and continue moving forward. Compared to where I was mentally three years ago—I’ve made strides in putting myself first, I need to continue those strides, but also work on creating a community as well.

What strides have you made over the past few years?

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Limited-spending Challenge Check-in #7: still splurging on the e-books

So, it’s that time again–checking in on my yearlong limited spending challenge.

A brief recap for those who are new to the blog–I decided at the end of 2020 that instead of trying to do ‘no-spend’ months (and totally splurging), I would do ‘limited’ spending months, and items would fall into one of two categories: needed or splurges.

I did really well with the challenge in January, and then started slipping a little each month since (I think I got a little too proud of myself and the inner critic/imposter syndrome has been slowly derailing me since). Last month (June) I planned on doing a ‘rebound’ and really honoring the challenge, but still ended up splurging a little. Though if you don’t count the books (I am a total impulsive book buyer, especially in terms of e-books), I did okay.

So how did I do for July?

Well, there were still purchases, and a few splurges.

I bought myself an early birthday present of two new pairs of workout leggings (also to be worn throughout the year).

I bought a few ‘physical’ books–but they’re to serve as ‘references’ as I move forward in science communications/education:

  1. Medical writing: A guide for clinicians, educators, and researchers by Robert Taylor
  2. Molecular and Cellular Biology of Viruses by Phobe Lostroh
  3. AMA Manual of Style, 11th Edition by the JAMA Network Editors

Then there were the e-books:

  1. A Tainted Mind (Windsor Series #1) by Tamsen Shultz
  2. What if it does work out? How a Side Hustle can Change Your Life by Susie Moore
  3. Wiretaps and Whiskers (The Faerie Files #1) by Emigh Cannaday
  4. The Misters: Seven book box set by JA Huss
  5. The Varsity Dad Dilemma by Lex Martin
  6. African Goddess Initiation: Sacred Rituals for self-love, prosperity, and joy by Abiola Abrams
  7. The Dark Emeralds Series (#1-3) by Jerry Lambert
  8. The Mixed Six-Pack (#1-3) by Danika Bloom
  9. Forever & Storm (the last two Linear Tactical books that I was missing) by Janie Crouch
  10. Absolution (Anderson & Costello #1) by Caro Ramsay
  11. The Girl in the Motel (Joe Court #1) by Chris Culver
  12. Shadow Forces by Camilla Black and Kimberly Griggs
  13. The Perfect Death (Brannon House #1) by Stacy Clafin
  14. Cunning Devil (Lost Falls #1) by Chris Underwood
  15. More of Us to the West (The Adrift #1) by Trinity Dunn

In addition to the dozen or so that I got for ‘free’ through various promotions last month. I’ve realized that the biggest problem–seeing all the ads on Facebook for the various books. I think that is how I found basically all of the e-books, was through those ads. I need to start using the time management app Self Control again, and then only be on Facebook in the evenings for specific reasons (that way hopefully limit the possible splurges and new author buys).

The cost of the three physical books was probably equal to the cost of the e-books for the past month or so (and I won’t even add in the cost of the ‘physical’ books that I bought back in June), since the larger the book (and/or hardback), the pricier the book. I know that I could have gotten the ‘physical’ books as e-books, but in terms of ‘reference’ books, for the most part I prefer to have the physcial book.

I did add another e-course to the list: How to write Patient Materials offered by Health Writer Hub. This is a three-week course, which is self-paced, with lifetime access (which is nice, since I’m way behind schedule on completing it).

While I added the above course to the list of things to work through, I did decide against adding in others (including learning how to set up a freelance writing business, and a personal development/health course). The goal now for the last five months of the year is to work through several of the large courses that I bought, read more of the books I bought (though I still have a list of books that have been preordered throughout the rest of the year), possibly only buy another three to four ‘reference’ books, and ‘honor the limited spending challenge’.

I’m hoping that for the last five months, the main purchases will be health/beauty items, dog treats, and the possible three or four other ‘reference’ books that I may find beneficial to have (such as biostatistics for dummies, and statistics for dummies).

Curious–how many fiction books do you read a year, and who are some of your automatic-buy authors you follow?

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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

Oracle of the Shapeshifters: Days 21-25 of Challenge

Today marks the twenty-fifth day of the oracle card challenge. While I have taken a day or two off, here or there—I’m pledging to share an oracle card a day on Instagram for a year (decided to expand past the original 120 days, but not do the full 578 days). Therefore, the challenge will last roughly through the first week of July 2022 (depending on how many more days I may take off from the challenge).

So, days twenty-one to thirty are going to be from the Oracle of the Shapeshifter deck by Lucy Cavendish. I have several decks by Lucy, and I love the stories that one can spin from any of the cards, and lately I’ve been flipping though the cards until I come to one that really speaks to me for the day.

The card drawn for day twenty-one was the beautiful little worm. This is a card of ‘rest’, and the encouragement to slow down if only for a day or two to regroup one’s energy.

Take the time to breath, and rest if necessary

It is slightly funny that I drew this card on a Monday, and after spending time attempting to create an editorial calendar for the next few months (I have most of the creative/reflective pieces put in—now the work is to decide on the more ‘in-depth’ pieces and how many do I want per month).

The worm is here to remind us to rest, be kind to ourselves, exercise regularly but gently, and to organize our space enough that we have a place to escape and relax when needed.

These are things I’ve been working on daily for the past few months—self-compassion, rest, intentional movements, and intuitive eating are things that hopefully may come more ‘naturally’ as I practice them. While I have no desire to return to the ‘old normal’, I realize that finding my ‘new normal’ will still take awhile.

The card drawn for day twenty-two was the ‘mermaid in a koi pond’ card.

Rediscover who you are…become the dragon.

She is here to remind us that having a safe haven is nice and needed from time to time, but if we stay too long—we tend to outgrow the haven.

I’m working on expanding my ‘safe haven’, since we’re still in the middle of the pandemic, I’m not keen on doing anything extremely rash.

I am also working on moving ‘upstream’ as well—currently the biggest ‘obstacles’-having too many ideas bouncing around in my head, and semi-horrible time management skills.

I’m working on both—I have (more or less) basically all creative/reflective ideas written out on a calendar, now it to figure out what ‘in-depth’ topics I want to add, the length and the depth of the topic, and when I would like to ‘publish’ the small/medium/large articles.

Science communication is vital these days, and while I could just jump in—I’m trying to ensure that what I share is written in a way that everyone can understand it (not just us science nerds), and that is the difficult part—but can only get better with constant practice in writing, publishing, and getting feedback from others.

The card drawn for day twenty-three was the ‘you are unlike anyone else’ card.

Embrace what makes you unique and complex

A reminder that we are all unique individuals and shouldn’t try to blend into the crowd—that is something I’m slowly working on, figuring out how to stand out in the crowd.

During this career change/transition, I’ve realized where I need to focus: writing (all styles—with focus more on scientific/technical plus creative), time and project management, in addition to possibly learning some coding on the side.

I’m going to ‘reinvent’ myself from a bench scientist to a scientific journalist/project manager who also takes time to focus on crafts and hobbies.

What to share on various sites are still up in the air (especially on Instagram), but I know that I will get there—it just requires baby steps and the willingness to stop, take a breath and keep moving forward when the inner critic/imposter syndrome wants me to move back into the shadows.

The card drawn for day twenty-four was ‘Poe’s Brave Flight’.

Move forward, even if you are afraid

A reminder that when we constantly play it safe and work to avoid things that could ‘hurt’, we end up shrinking ourselves daily.

I will admit to ‘playing it safe’ in terms of my career, I gave academia years long than I should have—because I was ‘scared’ to make a change. I was ‘scared’ to possibly choose wrong and end up in another ‘situation from hell’.

Well, I’m slowly stepping out from my safe zone. I took a volunteer writing position to gain experience in medical content writing, I’m trying to consistently share science news on LinkedIn, and trying to publish creative/reflective pieces somewhat consistently on the blog. In terms of science communications/writing—I’m going to list all sort of topics that interest me (in addition to looking back at news stories) and randomly pick things to look into, write on, and share on various sites.

The card drawn for today, day twenty-five was card seven: bats in the belfry.

Move forward with a little help from those who ‘can’ see in the dark

The bats are a reminder that one can achieve great things (even if they look strange to others). They can show one how to find their way, even if the path is currently ‘hidden’.

To move ahead in life, it may seem like things are upside down and going against what others may think is best for you—but that is when one needs to have even more courage, imagination, and boldness to move towards their dreams.

I’m slowly moving forward with more imagination, and little more boldness and courage. This weekend is going to be partial spent determining other sites/online magazines/forums that I could possibly submit articles to, brainstorming ideas for crafts (such as photography and maybe jewelry), and others ideas to start diversify things.

One thing I will need to work on–balancing writing the creative/reflective pieces with the more in-depth ‘research’ pieces. Though I think it is almost safe to say that I’m going to focus on creating a freelance/online/remote/contract career that is focused on writing, data analysis, project management, and crafts.

No Comments HealthLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesno spend challengesoracle cardsPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentReflectionsspirituality