Category: Personal Development

Three Books that have helped me start my burnout recovery journey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No Comments Book ReviewsBooksHealthLifestyle Challengesno spend challengesPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

Time to brainstorm, mindmap, and plan for the future

So, it looks like I didn’t set any goals last June for the Gemini new moon. That isn’t surprising since I was in a rather foul mood (from about April through mid-June), due to the fact that the SARS-CoV2 virus was getting out of control and was close to being called a pandemic (which we’re still in a year later, though numbers are falling in some parts of the world). So the moon is transitioning through the Gemini constellation today, as it marks yet another new phase–it was also a solar eclipse (but it wasn’t visible from Oklahoma). We’re a third of the way through the month, and I’m truthfully ready for say November or December.

So what are some things that one can focus on during the Gemini new moon?

Think about how you communicate with others.

Meditate.

Socialize more.

See your siblings.

Read more.

Well, we’re still in the middle of a pandemic (and yes, I have gotten my vaccine–but I’m still playing it safe), so I won’t be socializing more (besides, I’m an introvert who prefers minimal socialization anyways). I do see my younger brother every so often (he now lives in town), but my older brother and his family live out in CA–so no visits for quite awhile. I’ve been getting better at meditation, and I always like to read (trying to get better at expanding the genera though).

I’m also looking to the house that Gemini new moon is transitioning through–and for me it is my eighth house, or the ‘sex and shared finances’ zone (also referred to as the money and relationship zone). So what are some of the things that one can do during this time in regards to the eighth house?

Pay off a loan (or take one out)

Open a savings account and make your first deposit

Cancel a credit card you know you can’t afford

Ask for a raise (but really only if you believe you might get it)

Refinance your mortgage

Talk dirty to your partner

Try a sexual position for the first time

Looking back at what I wrote two years ago (since I didn’t post anything for new moon last year), there isn’t much I’d change–other than noting we’re still in the middle of a pandemic and I still have no desire to enter the dating pool. I find it slightly amusing that two new moons in a row have aspects that deal with relationships–and I’m determined not to be in one currently. Basically to restate what I’ve said in previous posts (about relationships): I currently don’t have the time or energy to put into the dating scene and finding someone. In terms of relationships and being with someone–I’m one of the odd ones that doesn’t mind being alone and unattached.

I also find it fitting that they also both mention finances as well–something that I’m going to be focusing on a little more as the year progresses.

So in terms of things that one can do for the eighth house:

I currently have a savings account (with money in it), which I’m going to be working on trying to increase the balance

I only have two credit cards that have ‘high’ balances, but both should be paid down/off within a few months

I don’t own a house–so no need to try to refinance something

I don’t have any loans (and currently not thinking about taking one out)

No pay raise–as I’ve been on my ‘reboot break’ for over a year now (unless I either find the ‘dream job’ and/or I get my own business up and running)

And finally, I’m still not in a relationship, so the last two items aren’t even on my radar.

So my goals for the Gemini new moon will include:

The creation of a financial plan (coming back onto the list). I have ideas bouncing around about how to start earning money–I just need to get them on paper, and broken down into monthly/weekly/daily goals. Plus, I’m not getting younger and therefore should really be trying to ‘plan’ for the second half of my life.

Continue with my daily intentional movements, improving my relationship with food, and nightly meditations/sitting quietly moments.

Continue with my personal/professional development board game, work on writing up some things, and as always reading

Through quite a bit of self-reflection over the past year and a half, I’ve realized that I have the tendency to ‘sacrifice’ my mental health in pursuit of other things (such as my career), therefore I’m going to be focusing a little more each month on maintaining and improving my mental health (through daily meditation, intentional movement, journaling and so forth). Financial health is back on the list–mainly because I’ve slipped (for several months) back into the habit of being an impulsive e-book/e-course buyer.

Being repetitive in goal setting until they become habit is a good thing (as long as you’re making some type of progress on the goal). That is why most of my goals (that are repetitive) focus on personal and professional development–my progress is slow (even microscopic at times), but it is there. Others might not see it, but then I also don’t share everything all the time.

Curious to know–what goals are you repetitive with?

No Comments careerfinancesHealthmoney saving challengesNew Moon Goalsno spend challengesPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

Tiny steps forward: now to get the plans onto paper

So we’re almost a third of the way through June–actually, tomorrow when we have the new moon it will mark the one-third mark in terms of days (since tomorrow is the 10th). So before looking ahead to the Gemini new moon (which will also be a solar eclipse–that I will not be seeing as it won’t be visible from Oklahoma), I need to look back at the goals I set for the Taurus new moon and see how I did with each of them.

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

  1. Making a financial plan (short term but also hopefully long term as well)
  2. Really start investigating potential directions for transition/career
  3. Try and finish the following books: Career Rehab: rebuild your personal brand and rethink the way you work by Kanika Tolver; Creativity Rules: Get Ideas out of you head and into the world by Tina Seelig; and finally Percolate: Let Your best self filter through by Elizabeth Hamilton-Guanino.
  4. Box (or bag) up t-shirts that no longer fit well for donation (or selling online)
  5. Continue with the daily intentional movements

So how did I do with each of them?

  1. I actually just finished a book on this subject (‘The Financial Diet’) last week, and am working at formulating some plasn. Trying to think ahead long term (especially in terms of money) has always been slightly difficult, but I’m slowly getting there. While I don’t have the perfect (or even imperfect) plan written down–I have ideas bouncing around in my head. I just need to start following some of the tips and suggestions from the book ‘The Financial Diet’.
  2. I also just finished a book on this subject (though that book looked exclusively at online work) as well last week (’25 ways to work from home’). So I semi-touched on this in that post–but basically I have several ideas that I just need to sit down and try to flesh out (which includes trying to develop a ‘business’ plan if I’m serious about trying to work for myself).
  3. Well, I didn’t finish those three books. I’d mentioned in an earlier post that I created a personal/professional development board game and while it has ‘read’ down several times, the book list has been randomized and a roll of the dice chooses the book. While those three books are on the list, and will be finished–it just depends on a roll of the dice when I start (at the beginning again) for each of them. But I have finished reading four books between the new moons and they were:
    • The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking
    • Permission to Screw Up: How I learned to lead by doing (almost) everything wrong by Kristen Hadeed
    • The Financial Diet: A total beginner’s guide to getting good with money by Chelsea Fagan and Lauren Ver Hage
    • 25 ways to work from home: smart business models to make money on line by Jen Ruiz
  4. Didn’t do–I wasn’t up to trying on shirts that probably don’t fit that comfortably (even though I should, as I’m trying to reach a somewhat neutral relationship with my body). I figured that this will happen once I figure out what my ‘business casual’ dress code is going to be along with my weekend/at home casual wardrobe. I will also have to have a ‘business professional’ dress code (mainly for interviews), but this will happen later this summer or early fall.
  5. Yes, I managed to keep up with the daily intentional movement (though it may not have always been recorded). These movements have been everything from house and yard work, to walking the dog, walks at Boomer Lake, and lifting weights.

So the only goal that I would say I met almost ‘perfectly’ was the daily intentional movements goal. I did read several books–but they weren’t the ones I’d ‘initially’ chosen. Going through clothes isn’t what I would consider a ‘fun’ chore (it is a necessary chore–but one that is still going to be put off a few months).

The long-term goals (career & finances) are slowly coming along. Through quite a bit of self-reflection, I’ve realized that one of my ‘sticking’ points with trying to develop new long-term plans is the fear that I’m either making another mistake or the path is going to ‘dead-end’ again. While I can’t control what the future holds, I can try to make sure that I’m ‘checking-in’ with myself on a regular basis to know whether or not I’m happy with the direction I’m going, so I can try to ‘correct the course’ before it leads to another ‘dead-end’ and I have to forage yet another new path.

All four books that I mentioned reading have been reviewed within the past two weeks here on the blog–and I highly recommend them to people in need of a different point of view on leadership, what hygge is, or finances.

Small steps forward mean that I’m edging closer to my goals–and while I may not have them totally set, I’m not afraid to wander forward searching for something better than what is behind me.

No Comments BookscareerfinancesfitnessHealthmoney saving challengesNew Moon Goalsno spend challengesPersonal Developmentprofessional development

Book Review: 25 Ways to Work From Home. Now onto the brainstorming stage of adulthood

So thanks to the personal/professional development board game, I’m actually starting to make decent progress on the massive non-fiction book list that I started years ago.

The latest book I read is ’25 ways to work from home: smart business models to make money online’ by Jen Ruiz. This is a book for those who are thinking of leaving (or possibly trying to supplement) their 9-to-5 life in a office (or lab) setting.

As someone who has been thinking of a ‘non-traditional’ direction for the second half of my life, this book seemed to be a good compliment for the other one I just finished: ‘The Financial Diet‘ by Chelsea Fagan and Lauren Ver Hage. Especially the chapter(s) on the side hustle (in Financial Diet), though this book doesn’t refer to them as side hustles, but 25 different ways to work from home.

The 25 different ways the book goes into are:

  1. Teach English online
  2. Become a virtual assistant
  3. Self-publish books
  4. Freelance writing
  5. Video editing
  6. Gig economy
  7. Start a podcast
  8. Monthly subscription/membership
  9. Start a you-tube channel
  10. E-commerce
  11. Private coaching
  12. Travel planner or guide
  13. Online courses
  14. Affiliate marketing
  15. Advertising revenue
  16. Summits
  17. Sponsored content
  18. Buy & sell websites
  19. Install & customize wordpress themes
  20. Graphic design
  21. Create an app
  22. Rent your property
  23. Sell your photographs
  24. Selling clothing and accessories
  25. Offer professional services

The authors of both books state that you should figure out how to diversify your earnings (that way if something goes wrong with one ‘job/direction’ you still have money coming in from other jobs/directions. While I’m still contemplating part-time/three-fourths time of a ‘physical in-person’ job–I’d also like to still have some control and variety in my day and week.

Therefore, the ones that either jumped out at me or I’ve been thinking about trying are:

  1. Freelance writing (a high yes/with moderately high anxiety)
  2. Self-publishing books (high maybe)
  3. Start a podcast and/or a you-tube channel (high yes for both/with very high anxiety)
  4. Creating online courses (high yes/with very high anxiety)
  5. Affiliate marketing/advertising revenue/sponsored content (high yes/with moderate anxiety)
  6. Graphic design/video editing (high maybe)
  7. Selling photographs (high yes/with moderate high anxiety)
  8. Creating and selling jewelry (high yes/with moderate high anxiety)

So I’ve listed about 12 total ways I would like to work from home. Three are currently listed as ‘high maybes’ (writing books, graphic design, and video editing), while the other nine are listed as ‘high yeses’ with a decent amount of anxiety going along with each of them. But I’m also going to rank those nine, brainstorm ideas for the top two (or three), and once I have those methods working (with decent income coming in consistently), I will then slowly start adding in other methods (one or two at a time), until I have created my ‘perfect’ blend of activities.

The other thing I liked about this book is that it has links/addresses to quite a bit of supporting material for each potential job type plus little blurbs on people who are earning a decent salary each way. I highly recommend this book to those who are thinking of leaving their nine-to-five, wanting to supplement their nine-to-five, or those of us who have left the nine-to-five and are looking for guidance on starting some totally new.

5 out of 5 stars

No Comments Book ReviewsBookscareerfinancesPersonal Developmentprofessional development

Review: The Financial Diet. Now on to the planning stages of being an adult

So I recently finished my third book via the ‘personal/professional development board game’.

The book was ‘The Financial Diet: A Total Beginner’s Guide to Getting Good with Money’ by Chelsea Fagan & Lauren Ver Hage.

So while this is a book about finances and money–it doesn’t go serious in-depth on topics (with the one exception of what one should have in the kitchen for cooking at home), but does give good advice.

What I really liked about the book was the advice that you can/could/should try to mold to your personal life. They don’t tell you that you have to be investing in stocks and bonds, or that you should be buying a house. They acknowledge that everyone is at a different point with different circumstances when they pick up the book–but the advice given within can be ‘molded’ to fit your circumstances if you want it to.

I highlighted several phrase throughout the book as some of my key ‘take-away messages’ and they included:

To stay financially sane–you should create a collage of strategies that work for you.

Strive to find multiple streams of fulfillment, challenges, and incomes

We’re CEOs of our own lives, every hour accounted for and compensated according to our personal standards of wealth and happiness

Judge your career and success (financial and otherwise) on you and you alone. If you aren’t happy, change something.

I would have to say that I’m still trying to figure out what my multiple/collage of strategies is going to look like. Currently there is the savings account with the ’emergency fund’ (but that is starting to dwindle–so I really need to start figuring out how to diversify my income); I have a small retirement account (but I’m not currently adding to it), and a checking account (that will dwindle as the month goes on and bills are paid).

I would also have to say that I’m working on trying to find that ‘right’ mixture of fulfillment, challenges, and income; there are ideas bouncing around in my head–I just need to get them on paper and then actually ‘start’ working on them.

I’m also trying to figure out what my personal standards of wealth and happiness are as well (I’ve spent too many years just going with the flow and ‘bouncing’ via other people’s ideas on the two topics).

I also found the authors’ four DYFDs (Don’t You F*cking Dares), nine big tips, and their ‘starter kit for happiness’ to be helpful as well in terms of acknowledging where I’m at in terms of my finances or questions that I need to contemplate to figure out various budge issues.

I can safely say that currently I’m guilty of three of the four DYFDs currently (but working on getting better at them); I’m guilty of not following five of their nine tips, and I’m slowly working through/brainstorming/planning via their ‘starter kit for happiness’.

Money is one thing that no one really wants to talk about–but it is one thing that everyone needs to make it in today’s society.

While I may not currently know what my long-term financial plan looks like, I am slowly working on determining those plans, as they are one of the cornerstones for any future plans.

I recommend this book to anyone who is either struggling with his or her finances or just wanting an easy ‘finance’ book to read.

Five out of five stars

No Comments Book ReviewsBooksfinancesmoney saving challengesno spend challengesPersonal DevelopmentPersonal Development Challengesprofessional development

Books, and more books, plus some e-courses: Update on the limited spending challenge

So it is that time again–for a check-in on my year long limited spending challenge.

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

I did really well in January on the challenge, and then slowly started slipping since, and hopefully May will be the last ‘major’ sliding month for the year.

So yes–I splurged. On what? Well–mainly books, I think I mentioned it last year (or maybe in 2019) on a book review–I’m an impulsive book buyer. So the books I bought were:

2021: Webmaster Series by Dr. Andy Williams

A couple of books on SEO

Hope River series by Margaret McHeyzer

The Guardians series by Victoria Paige

25 ways to work from home by Jen Ruiz

Wildfire Hearts series by Savannah Kade

Bad Karma Special Ops series by Tracy Brody

Linear Tactical series by Janie Crouch

Authentic: How to be yourself and why it matters by Stephen Joseph

The Lt. Kate Gazarra series (books 1-3) by Blair Howard

Guardian Hostage Rescue Specialist series by Ellie Masters

So, I think that I have enough books to get me through the rest of the year, in addition to the books I splurged on last month, all the free ones I downloaded in March & December, plus the pre-orders I still have set throughout the year.

I also bought a couple more e-courses as well. While I stated at the beginning of the year that I was aiming at not purchasing any other e-courses, I did buy one or two earlier in the year (there is an copy writing course I’m going to be starting soon). Also once I created my ‘personal/professional development board game’, I decided that I wanted to get a couple of art history courses if possible (as it is a subject that I’ve always been fascinated with and any books I have on the various subjects are currently in a storage unit). In addition to those courses, I found several others that could be beneficial moving forward as well.

So the e-courses I recently purchased included (and they’re all from Udemy):

How to Awaken & Connect to Your Spiritual Higher Self

Learn Bioinformatics from Scratch (Theory & Practical)

How to become a freelance editor

Kick start a freelance editor & proofreader career on upwork

Art history: prehistory to the renaissance

From Caves to Cities: Prehistoric art history

Gods & Kings: The Art History of Mesopotamia

Ancient Art of South Arabia: The Himyarite Kingdom

Olmec Art

Islamic Architecture

Computer Vision Masterclass

Luckily I purchased all these courses during various ‘sale’ periods (so they were only $9.99-11.99 a courses in stead of $99+). The goal is to now try to bounce between some ‘professional development’ courses and some ‘personal development’ courses throughout the summer.

I realized that I spent way more money that I meant to during May, and therefore am aiming at a totally limited spending month (only pre-orders and my automatically monthly order from Amazon). I’ve figured if I make use of the time management app Self Control, I can stay off Facebook, Instagram, and Amazon during the day, and that is usually when I ‘splurge’–mindless scrolling though social media.

This is the ‘experiment’ for June anyway–stay off social media for majority of the day, and then have a ‘plan’ in place for teh rest of the time and start reading the books I’ve bought and working through the e-courses I’ve bought.

I realized when I started this challenge, I wasn’t going to be perfect, and I have ‘slid’ a lot in terms of book buying–but recognizing the signs is the first step, activating the self control app is the second step, and then the third step is going to be ‘creating’ check-sheets for being on Facebook (responding to comments, commenting on posts, posting in certain groups), to help limit the ‘social media’ time that way.

Here is to June being a much better (and money controlled) month in terms of the limited spending challenge.

If you’re an impulsive book buyer–who are a few of your favorite authors? If you buy e-courses, what sites do you use for continous learning?

No Comments financesmoney saving challengesno spend challengesPersonal DevelopmentPersonal Development ChallengesReflectionsUpdates

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

Book Review: Permission to Screw Up.

The second book that I finished this past week as ‘Permission to Screw Up: How I Learned to Lead by Doing (Almost) Everything Wrong’ by Kristen Hadeed.

While I really liked this book, I realized that I was reading it from the viewpoint of a ‘worker’, even though I’ve been a ‘team leader’ in a sense over the years–I never have had to do an evaluation on someone else, I’ve always been the one being evaluated.

I would like to think that I’ve managed to do some things correctly over the years: earn the trust of the student workers, mentor/train them, and allow for minor mistakes to happen so that the students could learn from them (one doesn’t want a major mistake in a lab).

I also realized what I’ve lacked from those above me, and also realized that the blame goes both ways. Since I have mild/moderate social anxiety and a need to avoid (most) confrontations (thanks to public schools and bullies), I’ve allowed myself to flounder for years (or even possibly decades) after graduation.

These two feelings have led me to try to avoid meetings and any type of confrontation–I always felt like any criticism recieved in the meeting/confrontation was negative (even when mentally I knew some/most was positive), and then I would have to deal with negative self-chatter the rest of the day.

This isn’t to say that I didn’t get feedback on the job–I did (for the most part), but at times it didn’t feel timely, and a lot of the time it didn’t feel constructive. In part, there were the jobs–when you’re in the lab at the bench, you’re expected to figure out problems on your own (and I enjoy doing that)–the feedback was usually in regards to hours worked or other related issues (nothing really to do with the science or the bench). The other positions, the feedback at times was in regards to both bench work and other issues.

I realized (well after the fact) that one of the biggest problems was the comparison trap: when you’re hired to do a job, but another person (who also has held that job) is still there–that is who you get compared to–you’re held not to your own standard of what you can accomplish but to how someone else did the job and their performance, and at times it isn’t a good feeling.

Being told that the job matters, you’re making a difference, and that works counts are all things that everyone needs/wants to hear from time to time on the job. Being in science (especially academia) those aren’t things that you hear all that often–and I realized that those are things that I need to make sure that I either tell myself (if and when I decide to start up a freelance business), or are a major part of the company culture for the company I do decide to work for–I’m not saying that those are things that have to be said constantly (I’d be a little worried if they were said constantly), but it’s nice to be acknowledged and appreciated every so often for the job that one does.

I will also have to remind myself that minor mistakes are always okay (as long as it isn’t a constant stream of little mistakes)–major ones should only happen once (if that), the lesson learned, and then the mistake is never repeated again. This is something that I will have to work on (as most of the positions I’ve held–mistakes weren’t really considered ‘okay’–they were considered more of a ‘lack of focus’ and ‘lack of attention to detail’ and were to be avoided)–avoiding both the ‘pit of perfectionism’ and the ‘pit of analysis/paralysis of not getting anything done for fear of mistakes’.

So I mentioned how the book reminded me that I have an ‘aversion’ to meetings. This ‘aversion’ isn’t going to help me in the long run, so I’m going to ‘develop’ a system to help me get over the aversion. The ‘rough idea’ currently is that I’m going to spend part of the weekend in ‘executive’ mode and sit with my to-do lists and other papers and honestly determine how I did for the week in terms of getting things done. Once I’m comfortable with ‘myself’, I plan on reaching out to friends/colleagues who might also be looking for an accountability partner and go from there. Baby steps….

I would recommend this book to basically everyone, even if you’re not a ‘leader’ in the normal sense of the word–you’re a ‘leader’ in your own life and we can all learn something from both this book and each other. My rating for the book: five out of five stars.

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A Review on ‘The Little Book of Hygge’

I just started playing my ‘never-ending personal/professional board game’, and I have ‘read’ down twenty-six times between the two boards–the reason, I have almost (or probably more than) 300 non-fiction books to read (and that isn’t counting any that I may buy as I continue with the game).

I randomized the book list after copying it down once, that way ‘older’ bought books were mixed in with ‘newer’ books. The roll of hte dice would decide which book (or books) I’d be reading.

The first book chosen was ‘The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living’ by Meik Wiking. I think I picked up the book after reading an article on how the Nordic countries were topping the list of ‘happiest countries’ (and I wanted to know why), or I was just browsing through e-books and I came across it and the title caught my attention. I’ve had this book on the digital to-be-read pile for quite awhile, it was one of the many books I bought back towards the end of 2017. That was when I decided I was going to develop a large ‘personal/professional development’ reading list. Needless to say, that list has ballooned from approximately forty to fifty books in 2018 to almost (if not slightly over) 300 books today (approximately 3 1/2 years later).

The little book of hygge basically talks of how to make the most of each day–looking for the little things that create happiness. I liked how the author (and country) goes for the more rustic, handmade, mellow, less is more over the glitz, glamor and more that seems to take over here in the US.

The author takes you through the different components of the ‘Hygge Manifesto’ which includes the atmosphere, being present, pleasure, equality, gratitude, harmony, comfort, truce, togetherness, and tribe. All are things that as a global society we should be striving for. I liked how the ‘truce’ example was that one wouldn’t be talking about politics, and I feel like there are actually two sides to that coin–the ‘political’ side (how to balance budgets, raise taxes, and so forth), and the ‘human-rights’ (women’s rights, minorities, and so forth) that somehow gets ‘colored’ political–but that could be a topic for another post. I agree that one can disagree on basic politics, but when it comes to human rights–not so much.

One main central focus of ‘hygge’ is lighting. The Danish seem to be big on candles and diffused lighting and that is something that I can get behind. The only time(s) I may turn on my large overhead light is to workout, clean, or if it’s really dark and freary outside and I need the ‘extra’ light; otherwise I keep my room lit with only a lamp (the shade diffuses the fluorescence enough that the room isn’t overly bright).

Looking at the ‘manifesto’, I realized that the one element that I need to ‘work’ on improving is actually getting together with people. I’m a ‘pro’ at hygging by myself or with family. But at the same time–we’re in a pandemic (so not really the best time to be trying to host a party), plus I’m still living at home.

Going forward I’m going to try to aim for a mixture of hygge and minimalism in decor and ambiance. I’m also going to try to turn the ‘hygge manifesto’ into a cross-stitch pattern/project as well.

For anyone who needs a little help in the ‘hygge’ department–I highly recommend this book. I give it five out of five start rating.

*Note: This is the first book review of many to come as I continue to play the ‘personal/professional board game’, and is also the first of many blog posts related to the board game as well. I’m hoping that I can possibly get a book review (or two) up every couple of weeks (depending on the book), in addition to other posts, articles, and/or pages associated with various topics.

What’s your favorite way to bring hygge into the house?

No Comments Book ReviewsBooksLifestyle ChallengesPersonal Development

Sagittarius goal plan: small steps & a roll of the dice

So the moon has transitioned into its full moon phase and is in the Sagittarius constellation currently. It was also an lunar eclipse this morning as well, but due to the overcast sky and slight fog–I was unable to see it (I was hoping for clear skies and the possiblity of getting a picture).

The Sagittarius moon is the ‘fun energy’ moon, and while this is nice going into the summer months, I’m hoping that it isn’t going to lead to a spike in infections/cases of SARS-CoV2 (since we’re still not technically out of the pandemic yet). Therefore, I’m personally going to use this time for more reflection and aim for a more transformative period moving into the summer.

Every month I look at ‘Moonology: working with the magic of lunar cycles’ by Yasmin Boland to get questinos to reflect on for a day or two that deal with the moon in each zodiac constellation. The questions for the Sagittarius full moon are:

Have I been too flippant, or carefree to the point of being careless, irresponsible, even?

Have I been letting myself down by allowing myself to get distracted and bored?

Have I been overconfident to the point of arrogance, or too preachy?

Have I been a commitment phobe, to my own detriment?

Have I been seeing the bigger picture?

If I were to number the above questions 1-5, my answers would be as follows:

  1. In terms of finances, I would have to say that I’ve been a little too ‘carefree’ lately. While I started a ‘limited-spending’ challenge at teh beginning of the year, I’ve splurged on books for the past four out of five months, but at the same time investing in my professional development (bought some more e-courses). While I’m aiming to go freelance/online/remote/contract in terms of work, I do need to start really focusing on improving in several areas (data analysis/programming, writing/editing different styles/formats, and so forth).
  2. Yes, I have been allowing myself to get distracted (I won’t really say bored, but more of a ‘fear of failure/’imposter syndrome’ feeling) more often lately. One thing I’ve noticed is that I get caught up in the ‘comparison’ trap and that spikes the anxiety, which leads me to look for distractions instead of working on the issue. While I’ve realized that I’m slowly getting better at time and project management (though still having some issues), I need to develop or find some type of productivity tracker to help keep me focused as well.
  3. Nope, I can easily say that I have not been overconfident to the point of arrogance or being too preachy.
  4. Depending on what aspect of life we’re talking about. Yes, I have been a slight commitment phobe to myself (mainly in terms of professional development, and a little on the personal side as well). I’m working on getting better–I think having created the personal/professional development board game is going to help a lot with those areas. I’m also working on giving myself grace and trying to ‘rework’ my mindset in terms of fitness and nutrition. Can’t be labeled a commitment phobe in terms of others since I’m currently not in a relationship, and we’re still in the middle of a pandemic (so it really isn’t a good idea to try to get together with people currently).
  5. What bigger picture are we talking about? In terms of myself–I’m still having ‘troubles’ trying to see/project where I want to be in say five or more years down the road. The bigger picture of my career? I’m slowly getting an idea of what I would like to do–but there is a lot of work to get there (both in terms of skills I need to have at least a basic understanding of, and trying to find clients). I’m also still way more pessimistic than optimistic about things (though possibly not as pessimistic as I was a year ago). But there are still way too many problems right now, that has me wondering if we’re going to survive as a society over the next few decades.

For me, the moon in Sagittarius is also going through my second house (or the cash, property, and values zone). This brings about feelings of one’s financial security, stability, and self-worth. We’re suppose to strive to find a balance between various aspects of life–are we tired of working for others and wanting to strike out on our own–now would be the time to start planning it, or have we been neglecting ourselves and focusing on others?

This zone is popping up when I still have the time to do some serious self-reflection. While the world is slowly trying to reopen, I’m still planning on self-isolation of several more months (I want to see what type of a spike the summer is going to bring) before I think of any type of travel (for either enjoyment or career-related). I’m still working on lowering my bills, and thinking of other ways of earning cash. The idea of having an online/freelance business is really starting to sound appealing, though I need to decide whether to try to go in a single direction to begin with or a combination of different areas (I am leaning more towards the second direction than the first). This could be my ‘new normal’ as we finally ge through this first long pandemic wave of the SARS-CoV2 virus.

My reflection time will be spent on figuring out the freelance/online possibility, but at the same time thinking of how it can also be of help to a changing world, as I noted last year: the world won’t heal itself, and unless we start addressing all of the issues, the world won’t be around long to support us–and there is no planet B.

So the small goal list I have for the Sagittarius full moon includes:

  1. Honor the ‘limited-spending’ challenge during the month of June. I’m going to try to limit it to a single order from Amazon (in addition to any pre-ordered books, and my automatic monthly order). I truthfully have enough books to read, that I need to just stay away from any and all e-book ads.
  2. ‘Track’ my energy, so that I know what time(s) I actually have the energy to do various things (exercise, writing, research, and so forth), and slowly work on ‘transforming’ that into a weekly schedule and editorial calendar.
  3. Roll the dice and see what the next adventure (or adventures) will be in terms of personal and professional development.

Finally, as the one quote (more or less) states: ‘You can’t start the next chapter of your life, if you keep re-reading the last’, and I’m working hard on not flipping back through ‘old chapters’ but trying to forage ahead and start a new one.

No Comments financesFull Moon GoalsHealthLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesno spend challengesPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections