Category: Photography

Looking Back at 2021: I’m a bookworm. Now to plan for 2022 and beyond

While looking ahead to a ‘blank slate’ of 2022, I realized that I should also reflect on 2021 and the ups, down, hills, valleys, and everything in between. The post will probably seem a little bit ‘rambling’—but that is due to just writing what I’m thinking and not really organizing my thoughts beforehand.

We were still in the grip of the SARS-CoV2 pandemic during 2021. While there have been several vaccines approved (the Pfizer one received full approval from the FDA and CDC towards the end of the year), there is unfortunately still a good portion of the population that is refusing to get vaccinated.

Come early March, we will be entering year three of the pandemic—hopefully we’ll be seeing the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ by summer????

I’ve still been isolating at home (only leaving the house maybe a couple of times a week—one to get the paper on the weekends, then an occasional walk either at Boomer Lake with my camera or through the neighborhood with Chaos) for the most part this past year. Like everyone else, I would like for things to return to a ‘new normal’—but I also understand that it will take awhile for the ‘new normal’ to emerge and everyone to get on the same page.

I’m not planning on doing any type of travel this year (thanks omicron variant and anti-vaxxers), but hopefully maybe able to do a small trip sometime between 2023 and 2024.

Since the number of cases is still skyrocketing due to the omicron variant—I plan of trying to get my booster shot sometime within the next two weeks.

The only huge crisis we had this past year was with Rolex—when we took her to get an allergy shot, she developed the rare side effect of hemolytic anemia. So, the past few months have been a roller coaster as we try to help her overcome the anemia. So, far she’s had two blood transfusions and is on numerous medications—we’ll hopefully see if she can be weaned off of two of them entirely next month (I’m assuming one of the meds will be lowered again this month).

Chaos doesn’t care of strangers (which is both good and bad), so when I do have to take him into the vet—he has to be given meds to mellow him out. I’m hoping to possibly start taking him for longer walks (to where we might encounter other people) this coming spring.

In terms of my career—I think I’ve figured it ‘out’ (at least a little). I’m going to go in the direction of remote/contract/online science/medical communications/education with the end goal of creating my own freelance business (melding copywriting [medical/science communication/education, health/wellness, and personal/professional development] with blogging [hobbies, travels, and personal/professional development]). Therefore, the blog/website will be getting update throughout the year as I work my way in that direction.

I managed to land a ‘volunteer’ medical content writing position with a company in Canada during the summer—so I’m getting my ‘feet’ wet in the regards of summarizing scientific papers and other topics for the general public. In addition, I put in my application for a couple of freelance writing position and then a medical writers position—didn’t get any of them, but I was proud of the fact I went ahead and applied for each of them, being a total ‘newbie’ in the online medical writing world.

I’ve joined another accountability group—which is good, but since I’ve really ‘narrowed’ down what I want to do (remote/online writing and/or data analysis), I’m having problems finding the job postings. I’ll be working on those assignments, and giving updates throughout the next few months (which will include ‘linking the blog/website’ to my LinkedIn account).

Those were some of the highlights for the year, so how did 2021 go in general?

In terms of steps—I had a rough goal of at least 1,825,000 steps (breaking down to basically 5,000 steps per day). I managed to get 1,979,594 steps for the year, with the following monthly breakdown:

January:          159,685

February:        146,418

March:             197,430

April:              187,411

May:               187,855

June:               149,009

July:                140,686

August:           154,591

September:      157,114

October:          160,753

November:      168,476

December:       170,166

The months with the lowest number of steps happened to be during the summer, when it was a little too warm (or humid or both) to be outside walking either on my own or with my dog.

While I’d set the goal of completing nine workout programs throughout 2021—I managed to complete three, and then spent the rest of the year concentrating on more ‘intentional movements’ than fitness programs.

I also had set the goal of reading a minimum of 80 books (30 non-fiction and 50 fiction), and the actual total number of books that I read last year was a minimum of 127 books (12 non-fiction and at least 105 fiction). These included new and rereads (all of which were within the fiction category).

I met the goal of at least fifty fiction books (actually doubled it), and almost met half the goal of non-fiction books (thirty).

The non-fiction books I read during 2021 included:

  1. Secrets of Six-Figure Women: Surprising strategies to up your earnings and change your life by Barbara Stanny
  2. Badass Habits: Cultivate the awareness, boundaries, and daily upgrades you need to make them stick by Jen Sincero
  3. Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski
  4. The Joy of Missing Out: Live more by doing less by Tonya Dalton
  5. The Renaissance Soul: How to make your passions your life–A creative and practical guide by Margaret Lobensteine
  6. The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking
  7. Permission to Screw Up: How I Learned to Lead by Doing (almost) Everything Wrong by Kristen Hadeed
  8. The Financial Diet by Chelsea Fagan
  9. 25 Ways to work from Home by Jen Ruiz
  10. Write to Speak by Mike Acker
  11. I want to do all the things: finding balance as a polymath, multipotentialite, and renaissance soul by Arcadia Page
  12. The More of Less: Finding the life you want under everything you own by Joshua Becker

In terms of fiction books read during 2021 (new and re-reads), I managed to read (a minimum) of 105 fiction books, and they included:

  • Loved You Once (The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers #1) by Claudia Burgoa
  • A Moment Like You (The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers #2) by Claudia Burgoa
  • Defying Our Forever (The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers #3) by Claudia Burgoa
  • Call You Mine (The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers #4) by Claudia Burgoa
  • Blackout After Dark (Gansett Island #22) by Marie Force
  • Catalina (The Alders #10) by Avery Gale
  • I re-read the first nine books in the Alders series by Avery Gale
  • The Shadowdance Club (7 book series) by Avery Gale
  • Masters of the PrairieWind Club (11 book series–as of Feb 2021) by Avery Gale
  • Billionaire Unexpected–Jax (The Billionaire’s Obsessions #16) by J.S. Scott
  • Loving Arms (Slick Rock #30) by Becca Van
  • Reckless (Slick Rock #31) by Becca Van
  • Exception to the Rule (Beautifully Imperfect #7) by Becca Van
  • My One Night (On My Own #1) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  • State of Affairs (First Family #1) by Marie Force
  • Re-read the entire Fatal series (16 books) prior to State of Affairs coming out
  • Tempted by Love: Jack “Jock” Steele (The Steeles at Silver Island #1) by Melissa Foster
  • My True Love: Jules Steele (The Steeles at Silver Island #2) by Melissa Foster
  • Love Under Two Warriors (Lusty, Texas #42) by Cara Covington
  • Ride Out the Storm (SSI #6.5) by Monette Michaels
  • Wild and Loving (Slick Rock #32) by Becca Van
  • Royal Line (Tatter Royals #1) by Carrie Ann Ryan and Nana Malone
  • My Rebound (On My Own #2) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  • How Much I Love (Miami Nights #3) by Marie Force
  • As We Are (The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers #5) by Claudia Burgoa
  • A 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
  • The Green Mountain Series (7 books) by Marie Force
  • First six books in the Butler VT series by Marie Force
  • Vortex: A FBI Thriller by Catherine Coulter
  • Wiretaps and Whiskers (The Faerie Files #1) by Emigh Cannaday
  • Catnip and Curses (The Faerie Files #2) by Emigh Cannaday
  • My Next Play (On My Own #3) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  • Breaking Badger (The Honey Badger Chronicles #4) by Shelly Laurenston
  • Yours to Keep (The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers #6) by Claudia Burgoa
  • Inked Kingdom by Carrie Ann Ryan
  • Inked Devotion (Montgomery Ink: Fort Collins #3) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  • Temptation after Dark (Gansett Island #23)
  • Finally You (Luna Harbor #1) by Claudia Burgoa
  • Enemy Heir (Tatter Royals #2) by Carrie Ann Ryan and Nana Malone
  • Mated in Darkness (Talon Pack #10) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  • Love Under Two Explorers (Lusty, Texas #43) by Cara Covington
  • My Bad Decisions (On My Own #4) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  • The Morgan Brothers (5 books) by Avery Gale
  • State of Grace (First Family #2) by Marie Force
  • Snow Dragon (Dragon Knights #16) by Bianca D’Arc
  • Gatekeeper (Dragon Knights #17) by Bianca D’Arc
  • Falling for Fallon (Masters of the Prairie Wind Club #12) by Avery Gale
  • Billionaire Unnoticed–Cooper (Billionaires Obsessions #17) by J.S. Scott

I’m pretty sure that there are probably another 20-30 books that I re-read during the year, but didn’t keep track of–what can I say, I’m a book worm and I would rather spend my evenings reading than watching TV.

While I had decided on doing a ‘no spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month’, the only month that I really succeed at it was January. I ‘slipped’ and spent more money throughout the year than I really should have. I’ve pledge to restart the challenge this year, and to do better than I did last year (not aiming for perfection—but aiming for progress).

While the goal for 2021 was to finish at least twenty e-courses, I managed to finish nine throughout the year. I’d found that if I managed to watch several in a month, I ‘took’ the next month (or two) ‘off’ (probably unintentionally—letting ‘Pam’ win an unspoken argument). The courses that I ‘watched’ and ‘completed’ included:

On Skillshare:

  1. Powerful storytelling today: strategies for crafting great content
  2. 3 ways often overlooked to get traffic to your blog
  3. Finding your inner creative
  4. Personal Branding: Your Copywriting Secret Sauce
  5. Create a simple digital marketing plan
  6. Crappy Copy: 8 digital copywriting mistakes you should avoid

Two Cheeky Scientist Association Advance Programs:

  1. Clinical Research Coalition
  2. Intellectual Property Pack

Then on Udemy:

  1. Understanding and developing Emotional Intelliegence

The goal for 2022 will be to at least double (if not triple) the number of e-courses that I watch/finish.

One big accomplishment I that managed to get done during 2021 was the creation and updating of my comfort/stretch/risk/die diagrams. The first one that I did in February/March was an ‘assignment’ from a coach, when it became obvious (to her) that I was struggling with figuring out what I wanted to do with my life.

Since that first one—I’ve modified it four times, adding in a ‘bounce zone’ between the comfort and the stretch zone, and have watched the comfort and stretch zones (along with the bounce zone) grow, and the risk zone shrink.

I also created a personal/professional board game as well to help me ‘figure’ things out—and I’ve discovered the ‘biggest’ drawback on the game is that everything is ‘open-ended’ (such as review immunology or review cell biology).

I managed to teach myself basic cross-stitching this past year, and even finished three abstract design pieces. I started to do a more ‘nature’ based piece, and will probably try to turn it ‘abstract’ as I didn’t like how the cacti were turning out. I managed to spend quite a bit of time over the year up at Boomer Lake with my camera (one thing I still need to do is curate and delete all the really dark and/or blurry pictures I’ve taken over the past few decades).

Overall, 2021 was an okay year—not great (I mean there is still the pandemic), but also not a totally horrible year either. I’ve made progress in terms of personal and professional development (while some may see the past two years as ‘unemployed’—I view them as investing in myself)—maybe not as much as I’d originally liked, but still managed to do quite a bit. I’ve decided the career direction I’d like to pursue (remote/contract/online science/medical communications/writing and possibly data analysis), with the long-term goal of creating my own freelance business.

Therefore, heading into 2022, I’ve decided that:

I’ll have an overall BINGO card for the year (similar to what I tried to do for 2021), in addition to having BINGO cards for non-fiction books, e-courses, and intentional movement.

If I read a non-fiction book or complete/watch an e-course that isn’t on either of the current BINGO cards—I’ll write them down to put on an additional BINGO card.

The goal is to have at least a single BINGO on each of the cards (Bonus to have a totally checked BINGO card), and to have at least one BINGO on the overall yearly BINGO card as well.

I will transition into a remote/contract/online science/medical communications position. To help achieve that goal—I’m aiming at writing and publishing at least six scientific blog posts/articles by the end of the year. Each will be a minimum of 1000 words and will probably cover different topics I find of interest (or sub-topics within a specific ‘niche’).

In addition, I’m planning on writing at least two small literature reviews (being somewhere between 1000 and 1500 words), on one or two science topics, in addition to the larger project I’ve had bouncing around in my head for the past year.

I will also finish updating/modifying the blog/website to showcase the addition of science/medical writing in addition to my pieces on personal/professional development, hobbies, and travels.

Overall, I plan on 2022 being the year of ‘change’ and ‘growth’—growing as a science communicator, changing/transitioning into a ‘new’ position, and also finding my online ‘tribe’.

How was your 2021, and what do you have planned for 2022?

No Comments Booksbullet journalcareerCraftsfinancesfitnessHealthLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesno spend challengesPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentReflectionsspiritualitytravelUpdatesYear in Review

Review of the start of the fourth quarter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The goals for October included:

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

So how did I do with each of them?

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

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

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

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

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

So my goals for November will include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time management plus planning, and more planning: Aries Full Moon Goals

So the moon will be entering its eleventh full moon cycle for the year tonight (or possibly tomorrow night or even last night—depending on where you are in the world). This means there are only eleven days left in October, and then only sixty-one days (two months) left in 2021. Considering how ‘bouncy’ this year has been—I’m leering to see what 2022 is going to be bringing.

So the moon will be moving through the Aries constellation—which means that astrologically we’re ‘starting a new year’ since Aries is the start of the Zodiac calendar. It is the time to reassess, redesign, toss, and make new goals if one is inclined.

So what are some of the questions we can reflect on during this time?

            Have I been hotheaded, selfish, or argumentative this month?

            Have I been going too fast or been impulsive this month?

            Have I been brash, blunt, or too competitive?

            Have I ignored other people’s finer sensibilities?

            Have I had enough fun?

So, if I numbered the above questions one to five, my answers would be as followed:

  1. I don’t think that I’ve been hotheaded, selfish, or argumentative this month. We’re still dealing with the pandemic—which means that for the most part, the only people I’m around on a continuous basis is family. I try to stay out of any and all ‘arguments’ on-line pertaining to anything related to science, politics, or just general life. The main reason is to protect my health (specifically my mental health).
  2. I don’t think I’ve been going to fast or being overly impulsive this month. While I have decided to go in the direction of freelance/remote/contract writing—I’m doing it at a slower pace, only to ensure that I don’t work myself to the point of almost having another mental breakdown.
  3. One thing I’ve realized over the past few months—there really is no need to be overly competitive with other people. You can be overly competitive with yourself (a nice way of pushing yourself to reach for the goals)—but there is enough success to go around for everyone. Since I’ve been self-isolating for the past eighteen months, I’ve been trying not to be as brash and blunt with people (unless we’re talking about how vaccines are good and they can help get us out of the pandemic—then yes, I will be as brash and blunt as needed).
  4. Again, I don’t think I’ve been ignoring people’s finer sensibilities—I actually think that it would be nice if people would start expressing a little empathy towards each other. There has been one thing that people keep saying is essential for moving forward with any career these days and that is emotional intelligence. One aspect of emotional intelligence is empathy—being able to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. That is something I think a good portion of the world needs to work on—developing (or expressing) empathy. I understand that the past eighteen plus months has been difficult for everyone—but if people sat at home like they were told last summer, we wouldn’t have as many deaths from the virus, and we’d be a lot closer to being done with the pandemic. Now, we’re just trying to stay one step ahead of the damn virus.
  5. I looked back at what I wrote for the Aries full moon last year (which occurred at the beginning of October)—the US only had a little over 7.4 million cases (now, we’re at just under 46 million—that means we’ve had basically 38.5 million more cases of the virus over the past year). We’ve surpassed the death total from the Spanish flu pandemic. Therefore, I’m still working on ways of adding ‘enjoyment’ into my day-to-day routine.

Looking back at what I wrote last year—while I stated that I’m ‘happier observing than participating’—that doesn’t really mean ‘wallflower’—it could also mean that I’d do well in consulting positions (where one needs to ‘observe’ to figure out the problem and brainstorm potential solutions). I’m still working on networking more—I’ve been ‘slow’ only because I’m trying to also be ‘focused’ and network in directions that I think I’d be interested in pursuing at some point in the future.

Aries is moves through my sixth house (or my daily work and health zone). This house is where we can sit and reflect on who we are (both in terms of professional/work and personal/health) and decide to work on those aspects that we don’t like.

Last year I had made the ‘commitment’ to push play daily on streaming workouts. This year—I’ve made the commitment to intentional movement. That is where I move around at least five minutes a day, and acknowledge the fact that housework can also be considered a ‘workout’. I’m slowly readjusting my relationship with not only food but movement as well. I’d also decided I’d renew my Beachbody-on-demand subscription at least one more year, and do some of those programs—but mixed in with other intentional movements. Therefore, I’m not going to beat myself up if I ‘miss’ a Beachbody workout—usually those days will either be recovery, or I’d decided to be outside doing some yard work or going for a walk.

This time last year, I stated that I didn’t feel like I was close to where I wanted to be in terms of my reboot break and transitioning into industry. I stated that part of the problem was the pandemic—but the larger part (and it was the part I was ignoring) was I still ignoring the fact I was burned out on everything.

I’m slowing coming to terms with the burn out, and figuring out ways of dealing with various warning signs of burnout—that way once I start really moving forward in terms of freelance/remote/contract writing/consulting/data analysis, I’ll be able to acknowledge and work through the warning signs instead of blindly ignoring them and almost hitting that ‘brick wall’.

While I know most people mean well with advice and everything—I’m also going to be trying to stay in my lane and only seek advice when I really need it. I have an good idea of what I need to be doing in terms of heading in the ‘freelance/remote/contract’ direction, and now it is a matter of realistically dividing those larger goals into more manageable goals—and not throw everything on the plate.

Last year I had the goals of continuous personal/professional development, reviewing/editing/reassembling my 150+ goal list, and writing/posting ‘notes’ to myself as a remind of when I felt I could check email/social media.

This year, my goals for the Aries full moon will include:

Better time management, by doing the following:

  1. Making use of the Self-Control App again. This is a time management app that allows you to block access to certain websites for a specific amount of time. I have it block me from social media (Facebook & Instagram) and the news.
  2. Put my phone on airplane mode for a set amount of time (particularly when I’m trying to do computer work [research/writing or working through an e-course), so that I can’t randomly check social media. Also have it set across the room.
  3. Have the kindle off and charging (again across the room). This way I won’t be tempted to read or play games.

Personal/professional development is a never-ending journey. Therefore, I will specify that I will work through the rest of the 30-day hand copy challenge from the write your way to freedom course, and hopefully also watch at least two-to-three other videos in at least one other personal/professional development course that I’ve bought over the years.

Finally, try to draft the ‘master plan’ that includes reworking the blog/website (for the remote/freelance/contract writing), hobbies, personal/professional development, and life in general.

The main ‘note’ that I will be posting on my laptop will be: ‘Progress over Perfection”

I’ve more or less stopped reading the last chapter of my life, so I’m slowly working on writing the next one (possibly with the bad habit of trying to ‘edit’ as I write).

What small steps are you going to take towards a personal/professional goal during this full moon period?

No Comments AstrologycareerFull Moon GoalsHealthLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentReflections

Two more duck photography pages are live, and other news

So there are two more duck pages live under the bird photography tab (specifically under the ‘water birds’ and then the ducks, swan, and geese family).

So, as I mentioned in several posts—I’m slowly trying to update/add to the site to account for wanting to move a little more into the three niches that I’d picked out for concentrating on for writing (personal/professional development, health/wellness, and science/medical writing/communications). One of the things I’ve been trying to do is ensure that there is a single line of tabs at the top of the page—and that if there is a drop down menu, all items are still visible on the screen.

The one section that will probably be ‘changing’ slightly as I work on this aspect is the combo birding/photography tab—mainly because of how many bird pages I have currently up.

With that said—the two new duck pages that have been added are for the Northern Shoveler and the Blue-winged Teal.

Both of these birds are migratory and/or winter residents within Oklahoma.

I’ve only managed to spot the blue-winged teal as it makes its way north in the spring (I have yet managed to make it up to Boomer in the late summer to catch them as they are one of the first ducks to migrate south in the late summer/early fall).

Blue-winged teals swimming in Boomer Lake

The northern shovelers will both migrate through the state, and a few of them will even winter around Boomer Lake—so I’ve managed to spot these guys several times in both the winter and early spring.

Northern Shovelers swimming in Boomer Lake

While the peak of fall migration has passed, there are still birds migrating south—hopefully I’ll be able to spot a few other species over the next few weeks (especially if I can manage to get up to the lake just as the sun is coming up).

What is your favorite fall migratory bird to spot?

No Comments bird watchingcareernatureoutdoorsPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentUpdates

As it starts to get colder: more time for the computer work (review and looking ahead)

Well, we’re almost halfway through October—that means there are only 79 days left in 2021. I’ve been reflecting over the past two weeks on the goals that I set for the third quarter of the year (or as I was also referring to as—my second attempt at a 12-week year).

I’d mentioned in a post over the summer that I was combining the ideas of two books together and using those as ‘stepping-stones’ for goals in different areas. The ideas that I’m combining are ‘choosing focal points (or specific areas)’ to focus on (‘The Renaissance Soul: How to Make Your Passions Your Life—A Creative and Practical Guide’ by Margaret Lobenstine), and the goal setting method from ‘The 12-Week Year: Get more done in 12 weeks than others do in 12 months’ by Brain Moran and Michael Lennington.

The four areas that I’ve decided that I’m currently focusing on are: professional development, personal development, health, and hobbies. The plan is to blend them together enough that I’ve created a career that is semi-location independent, and is focused on freelance/remote/contract writing/blogging with the possibility of adding in data analysis and/or consulting in the future.

The one thing that I’m still working on is figuring out how to divide the goals that I pick for the each month into weekly and then daily goals.

I’ve usually been trying to set four to five goals per focal area, with the possibility that one or two may have several ‘sub’ goals associated with them.

Instead of listing out every single goal that I set for the summer, I’m going to summarize the areas instead.

In terms of professional development, I had the lofty goals of completing at least two Cheeky Scientist advanced programs, learning python (coding), working through another three small e-courses on Udemy, and continuing to read/share science news and network on LinkedIn.

In terms of personal development, the lofty goals included refreshing Spanish, reading at least one (or two) non-fiction books a month, working through even more e-courses on different sites, and coming up with my own vision of minimalism and how I was going to diversify my income.

In terms of health, I was planning on continuing with BOD workouts (LIIFT4 and then Morning Meltdown 100), meditation, gratitude entries in the journal, oracle card drawings, working through a couple of courses, and trying to find new recipes to try at dinner.

In terms of my hobbies: at least one nature walk with the camera at Boomer Lake, reading, working on a cross-stitch project (or making some jewelry), and then again working through more e-courses.

So how did I do with my various goals?

In terms of professional development:

I’ve been fairly good at reading and sharing new on LinkedIn and twitter (I try to share at least one post Monday to Friday), and I’m working networking more and adding value to connections on LinkedIn.

In terms of the various programs, courses, and programming—I didn’t really get to any of them. Though I have most of the editing assignments for the Medical Writers Organization done—I just need to work on the writing assignments, plus finish up the sixth module.

I would say that I managed two out of the five professional development goals (so forty percent completed).

In terms of personal development:

I think I’ve managed to read possibly two non-fiction books over the past three months, I’m slowly working on my vision of minimalism (I need to go through the clothes and DVDs in the bedroom—and then tackle everything in the storage unit), and I’m slowly working on the ideas for generating varied income sources.

Again, the computer work hasn’t been completed.

Therefore, I probably managed another two out of the five goals (so another forty percent completed)

In terms of health:

I managed about 26 days of the oracle card sharing challenge. While I enjoyed it in the beginning, it was starting to become more of a ‘chore’ and I wasn’t getting that many interactions on the posts. I will probably share a reading here and there on Instagram, but probably won’t be daily.

With having messed up my wrist mid-June/early-July, I’ve been giving it time to heal, so I really haven’t been doing anything that requires lifting weights. I will be trying to start a second round of Morning Meltdown 100 during the fourth quarter of 2021, knowing that it will run into the first quarter of 2022.

I’ve been good with my evening meditations and daily gratitude entries in the journal. I’ve done a little over half of the explicit tarot course, and in terms of cooking—I couldn’t find any recipes that appealed to me this quarter.

I would say that I managed about half of the health goals for the third quarter.

The best area was hobbies:

I managed a walk every month at Boomer Lake with my camera, I read at least two or three fiction books a month, and I finished two cross-stitch projects and started a third. The only goal that I didn’t really touch was the one in regards to the e-courses.

Therefore, I would say that I managed three of the four goals (or seventy-five percent) for hobbies.

Overall, I would say that I managed to reach fifty percent of all the goals (and sub-goals) that I set for the third quarter.

There are several reasons why I only managed to meet half of the goals:

September was spent dealing with an ill dog and not knowing the outcome/prognosis. While we now know the prognosis, it may still be touch and go—especially when she starts to get weaned off the medication.

I also quit doing my weekly to-be accomplished lists in September (see above about the ill dog), and the daily to-be accomplished lists in August. The reason why I quit writing these out—I let the inner critic/imposter syndrome win a fight. I’m slowly working on getting back into the habit of doing both of these (slightly better with the weekly to-be accomplished lists).

Finally, when the weather is fairly nice—I’d rather be sitting outside enjoying the weather and possibly reading or journaling than being inside and working on the computer. I know that this is something that I need to work on improving (time/project management) as we move into the fall/winter months when more time will be spent indoors than outdoors.

So what are my goals for the four different areas moving into the fourth and final quarter of 2021?

Professional Development (This area is focused heavily on computer work):

  1. Finish at least two of the following Cheeky Scientist advanced programs:
    • Medical Writers Organization
    • User Experience Squad
    • Regulatory Affairs Council
    • Business Development Federation
  2. Finish the following short courses:
    • 15 errors in scientific writing and how to correct them on Udemy
    • How to become a freelance editor on Udemy
    • How to become a freelance writer on Skill Success
  3. Read and share science (and other news) on LinkedIn and Twitter
  4. Network and add value on LinkedIn
  5. (Bonus):
    • Finish Write Your Way to Freedom course
    • Finish Writing Patient Materials course

Personal Development (A third to half of the work will be computer based):

  1. Read one-to-two non-fiction books/month
  2. Draft ideas on how to implement diversification of income streams
  3. Work through the following short courses:
    • How to work for yourself on Udemy
    • Complete personal finance course on Udemy
    • Freelance writing 101: build a successful career on Skill Share
    • Content Marketing: Blogging for Growth on Skill Share

Health (Possibly a third to half could be computer based):

  1. Start a second round of Morning Meltdown 100
  2. Daily mediation and work through the course: Mindfulness for Anxiety on Udemy
  3. Daily gratitude journal entries
  4. Daily oracle card drawings and finish the course: explicit tarot: learning tarot through storytelling on Udemy

Hobbies (possibly a quarter could be computer based):

  1. At least one walk per month at Boomer Lake with camera
  2. Read two-to-three fiction books per month
  3. Finish the third cross-stitch project, possibly start a fourth or design/create some jewelry
  4. Work through the following courses:
    • How to start a creative business through blogging for beginners on Skill Share
    • Modern copywriting on Stack Skills

There are still quite a few e-courses that I’m hoping to finish before the end of the year—I may or may not get through all of them, but I’m hoping to have worked through at least one in each area (bonus points if I can finish all the e-courses under a specific focal point).

I mentioned in my October New Moon Goals—that I was going to be trying to face one ‘big’ fear during the next phase/month. I decided that the fear is starting my freelance/remote/contract writing business. Therefore I’m probably going to focus a little more on the courses that deal with that topic (which all but the two under health). The name of the blog (a little bit of this, a little bit of that) will probably stay the same—I may just change the website address (all depends as I work my way through the various courses).

This also means that I may having more posts written in a specific area (such as science/medical education/communication), but at the same time keeping other posts coming throughout the month (such as book reviews, photography, and crafts).

I realize that getting things up and running will take time (especially when it comes to marketing my business, billing, and creating/sticking with a editorial schedule)—but I currently have the time to do this, so I’m going for it: the overall goal is to reach at least fifty-percent in each area and an overall all progress rate of seventy-five percent for the last quarter of 2021.

Do you use the 12-week method for planning? Best tips? Or is there another method you like?

No Comments bullet journalcareerCraftsLifestyle ChallengesPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentReflectionsUpdates

The three niches for starting my freelance career

As I work on navigating the realm of the online world and freelancing/remote/contract writing—I’ve realized one thing: the suggestion of choosing a single niche for writing, makes me feel like I’m back in college, where one is urged to declare a major by the end of your freshman year.

Truthfully, when I first think of the word ‘niche’—I think of the scientific definition of the word—where every plant and animal within a specific ecosystem has a functional and even defined role.

The term has also expanded into the ‘human’ day-to-day realm, and can be defined as a ‘comfortable or suitable position in life or employment’ or as ‘ a specialized segment of the market for a particular kind of product or service.

Can one have more than one niche, and can they be ‘different from each other’, and melded into a broader category?

Well, I’m going to find out—because I’ve realized over the past few weeks of trying to narrow things down to one or even two niches—it felt like being back in college. I declared a major—but always felt like I had to choose one direction over the other (I like/enjoy both the typical sciences and the social sciences, but never could figure out how to combine them into one major or double-major).

When it comes to picking a niche, people always suggest some variation of the following questions:

What could you talk about all day?

What do people ask you about?

What would you love to learn about?

What is a unique subject you know about?

And finally–is it more important to write about what you enjoy or being in a profitable niche?

In theory, answering these questions is suppose to help you narrow down a list of niches that you could focus on. If I numbered the above questions one-to-five, my answers would be:

  1. I could talk about crafts, books, bird watching, photography, science, nature, various random facts, and numerous other things all day long. I would say that these areas could fall into a couple of categories: personal development/hobbies (crafts, books, bird watching, and photography), education/communications (science/nature) and health/wellness (science). This is also just a very short ‘curated’ list of things I could probably talk about all day.
  2. While it has been awhile since I’ve actually talked face-to-face with someone outside of family (thanks pandemic). I would have to say that I’ve been asked about fitness/health/nutrition, job searching post-graduate school, science, and other things. These subjects could also be divided into professional development (jobs after grad school), education/communication (science) and health/wellness (fitness/nutrition/health).
  3. Learning is my top strength according to both the Clifton Strength Assessment and the VIA Character Assessment tests. While I took an ‘on-and-off’ break from learning after grad school, I’m slowly embracing that inner quality again. Things I’d enjoy learning more about include: intuitive eating, personal finances (especially investments and saving for retirement), stress/anxiety management, time/project management, minimalism, and improving my mental and spiritual health (along with my physical health). These are only a few of the topics I’d enjoy learning more about and can fall under the umbrella of health/wellness (intuitive eating, stress/anxiety management and improving mental/spiritual/physical health), and personal/professional development (personal finances, time/project management, and minimalism).
  4. Unique subjects that I know quite a bit about all fall under education/communications–specifically science education/communication. Those topics include molecular cloning, small RNA biology, recombinant protein expression and purification, cell biology, molecular biology, and many other little nuances within the molecular and cellular world.
  5. I would say that one could probably do both (enjoy what they’re writing on and earn living doing it), and it can be done wither by being within one niche that you really like and can talk about all day, or enjoying two niches, but one is a little more profitable than the other. I’m starting with the second path–more than one niche, for several reasons that I’ll explain below.

Answering the questions, have allowed me to ‘narrow’ it to three niches: personal/professional development, health/wellness, and education/communication (starting with science, but possibly expanding to other ‘subject areas’).

Should I focus on just one? Possibly—but I realized early on when I first started this blog/website, I need to bounce around between topics or I get bored and quit doing things. I’d always wondered why I would start to get bored after awhile in lab (undergrad, grad, and postdoc)—and finally figured it out—if I’m not learning something new, or challenging myself with a new hobby/topic, I get bored and only put in the minimal effort required for the job.

Having three niches that are somewhat intertwined (at least in my mind), will allow me to challenge myself in terms of research needed on the topics, and enough variation that I shouldn’t get bored while working. The niches are also diverse enough, that there are numerous ‘sub-niches’ within each as well.

If I look to just science education/communication—I can name at least eight broad ‘subject areas’ (cell biology, molecular biology, biochemistry, botany, microbiology, zoology, entomology, and soil science) that I’d be willing to ‘dive’ into researching. Then within cell/molecular biology and biochemistry I could probably name numerous other ‘sub-topics’ such as the cell cycle, the central dogma of biology, metabolism, genomes, proteomes, transcriptomes, metabolomics, pre/post-transcriptional and translational control, apoptosis, and prokaryotic versus eukaryotic cells.

Therefore, I’m going to go with a ‘triple-niche’ approach (at least for the bigger articles/posts) and focus on those areas: personal/professional development, science education/communication, and health/wellness. I will still be doing photography (it has its own tab), plus travel posts (most will be throw-back posts until I feel like its safe enough to travel).

The posts may cycle through the different niches, or I may focus on one for a particular month and then tie it to the next niche as I transition to writing on a different topic—but the tag line for the blog/site sums up my current state of mind and focus: ‘a little bit of this, a little bit of that’.

So question: In terms of those three areas (personal/professional development, health/wellness, and science education/communication)—which would you like me to write on first (and bonus if you have a topic idea)?

No Comments careerCraftsfinancesfitnessHealthmoney saving challengesno spend challengesPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentReflectionsspiritualityUpdates

Looking ahead to the next revolution around the sun

So, yesterday was my birthday—and I’m now technically a full year into my fourth decade (even though I’ve kiddingly said that I’m celebrating my 39th birthday for the third time).

Last year I did a post shortly after my birthday on trying to answer the question of which hobbies, passions, and interests fall under the jack-of-all-trades umbrella, and which fall under the specialist umbrella. That posts evolved from a previous post (‘self-reflection, planning, and yet more self-reflection’).

I’d stated then that my two biggest struggles were imposter syndrome and being stuck in the ‘academic’ mindset of career progression (though industry does have clear career progressions—my ‘problem’ has been not knowing which direction to go in).

Recently I’ve been coming back to the possibility of freelance/remote/contract work where I could be doing writing, data analysis, project, and/or product management in addition to writing/blogging on personal/professional development topics as well.

The main reason why I’m leaning in that direction—we’re still in the middle of the pandemic, and I feel more comfortable with going in a direction that is semi-location independent and to a degree company-independent as well.

While at the same time, I want to create a ‘niche’ that will allow me to flow between topics that I feel fall into either the ‘jack-of-all-trades’ category or the ‘specialist’ category. In addition to allowing me to make use of my strengths: learner, intellection, input, achiever, and deliberative/ideation/arranger.

So how am I going to do this?

Well, I’ve come up with three broad areas that will be added to the two ‘fun’ niches that I already have ‘pages/tabs’ for on the blog/website.

The three broad areas that I’m going to be adding will be:

  1. Health and Wellness
  2. Science Education and Communications (abbreviated Science Ed and Coms)
  3. Personal Development (may also include some aspects of professional development as well)

Since each area is extremely broad, I’ll be focusing on certain subtopics within each area (though the science education and communication may remain some broad—only because I find almost all science to be interesting). What those subtopics are–I’m still working on those lists, but my goal is to have three-to-five subtopics per broad area.

They will also have their own ‘tab’ on the website (serving as individual ‘portfolios’), and I’ve decided that the Health/Wellness tab is going to be the ‘renamed/worked’ Fitness tab; Science Ed and Coms will be the ‘renamed/worked’ All Things Science tab; and Personal Development will be the ‘renamed/worked’ Everything Else Bucket List tab.

The two ‘fun’ niches that I will be keeping on the blog (and that already have their own tabs/pages) will be travel and photography (which I’m going to be combining with the birds tab).

Having these five ‘niches’ or areas will allow me the flexibility I need to stay focused, productive, and happy. Science education and communication may also branch out to include social sciences and humanities at some point (as I also enjoy those topics as well).

Other crafts (such as cross-stitching, jewelry design/creation, knitting, and others) may show up from time to time under the personal development tab or possibly just as individual blog posts.

Looking back over the past year, I’ve realized that I have made progress in numerous areas (even if it has been minuscule), and as I continue forward on this freelance/remote/contract path I know that I will continue to improve in those areas. That being said, I’m still going to be working on the following areas:

  1. Time and project management (I have numerous writing projects in the pipeline, but haven’t really gotten anywhere with any of them)
  2. Brainstorming, researching, writing, editing, and publishing–on a schedule
  3. Publishing my writing (in more places than just the blog and LinkedIn)
  4. Different types of writing (though I’m actually doing this a little with the volunteer medical content writing position):
    • Creative/Fiction
    • Scientific
    • Non-fiction
  5. Reworking the blog/website to serve as one of my ‘portfolios’ (with another being my LinkedIn account) in terms of the different areas/niches I want to branch out into

So, I have the overall plan of trying to go freelance/remote/contract for writing/data analysis/project and/or product management. Now it is time to rework the blog/website (slowly, since I have had it going for a couple of years now), and then figure out the other little nuts and bolts of starting my own business.

So, for my next revolution around the sun–I’m going to focus on stepping out of my comfort zone more, write more, create more, and if the pandemic every gets under control–perhaps even travel more.

No Comments careerCraftsfinancesfitnessHealthPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentReflectionsspiritualityUpdates

The Australian Budgerigar page is live: Throwback Thursday

Another bird page is live under the birding tab–the Australian budgerigar, or as it is known within United States as–the common parakeet.

Common parakeet seen ‘walking’ around the park, Boston MA

When I started this project of creating individual pages for each bird I’ve managed to get a picture of in the ‘wild’–I never thought that I’d be considering the parks and streets of cities (such as Brighton MA or London UK) as ‘wild’.

But currently, that is exactly where I’ve spotted the two parakeets–the ringed neck parakeet (in a London park), and the budgerigar–‘walking’ around the corner park as I was walking my dog one afternoon. Since I didn’t see it later that afternoon, it either flew off or the owner was able to find it and take it home.

The budgerigars are native to Australia, but are a favorite in terms of captive birds raised for pets. They’re third on the list, behind dogs and cats.

I actually had one as a pet when I was younger—but my cat at the time managed to figure out how to open the cage and while he didn’t eat the parakeet he did injure it severely (hence why I don’t try to have cats, dogs, and birds at the same time).

With the budgerigar page published, that currently ‘wraps’ up the parrot and parakeet order in terms of birds spotted in the ‘wild’ and me having digital pictures of them. I do have a couple of pictures of a scarlet macaw from a trip to Honduras back in 2001—but those are actual physical pictures (I have to try to locate where the scanned pictures ended up).

Have you either seen a parrot/parakeet in the wild, or have you owned a budgerigar (and if so—what color)?

No Comments bird watchingnatureoutdoorsPhotography

Raptor & Duck Pages are live: the red-tailed hawk & bufflehead

So, another two bird pages are now live under the bird tab.

One is a year-round resident of Oklahoma, though you need to look towards the sky (or take a drive to potentially see it), and the other graces the state with its presence during the winter months.

They are the red-tailed hawk and the bufflehead.

I’d finally managed to get pictures (and properly identify) of the red-tailed hawk this spring and summer.

Red-tailed Hawks perched over Boomer Lake, with another flying in the background

While I’ve always heard their calls, I always had a hard time spotting them. This year, I managed to spot a couple of them soaring over Boomer Lake, and over the house (one nice thing about living close to a wooded area).

Their ‘red’ tails are harder to spot when they’re soaring above your head, as the tails only look ‘red’ from above (or when they’re perched), looking up at them—the tails are more of an off-white color with bars across the feathers.

The bufflehead, is the smallest diving duck in North America and graces Oklahoma with its presence during the winter months.

The mature males are easy to spot—they have a large white patch on the back of their heads, along with a white flank, and black wings (that when folded—give the appearance of a black back).

Group of male Buffleheads swimming on Boomer Lake

The females (and immature males) have a smaller white oval on their cheek, and are more drab in color (they lack the white flanks).

Group of Buffleheads swimming on Boomer Lake

Since they’re diving ducks—once you spot them going under, keep an eye out as they will pop up somewhere nearby within thirty seconds or so.

One goal (hopefully for this fall) is to try to get up to Boomer Lake early enough in the day to spot different duck species that are going to be migrating through on their way to the warmer waters to the south.

As much as I’d love to get a picture of a bufflehead duckling, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make a trip north to Alaska or Canada and wander around looking for a duck sticking its head out of a old flicker hole.

What is your favorite migratory bird to spot?

No Comments bird watchingnatureoutdoorsPhotographyScience

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