Category: professional development

Stepping back from being an Beachbody independent coach/consultant

So I had mentioned previously that I had decided back in December that I had stepped back from being an independent fitness coach/consultant for Beachbody.

The reasons for this decision are both simple but complex.

Though before getting into my reasons: I should also mention that Beachbody doesn’t guarantee that coaches will automatically earn money–you have to put the time and effort into the process.

So the first reason is that I’m not the biggest sharer of personal things on social media (though I had shared some of my progress pictures in the past)–therefore I wasn’t doing one of the main caveats of coaching–sharing my story.

This is because in part over the past couple of years, my weight has swayed back up and I have regained the weight I had lost prior to becoming a coach/consultant.

The weight gain was in part due to me dealing with a moderate level of depression the past few years (2018 was the capstone year for depression), and pretty much went into survival mode. One mistake I had made was not reaching out for help from other coaches that I knew. I didn’t want to share my issues, I didn’t want to burden others–I’ve learned over the past year or so–there is no shame is asking someone if they can listen, or if they can give you some advice on something.

That is one key take away I’m trying to take forward with me–that it is okay to ask for help when you need it, and it isn’t a sign of weakness asking for help–but a sign of strength.

But, since I wasn’t sharing my story, I wasn’t gaining customers–and without customers purchasing Beachbody products and improving their lives through my pages–I wasn’t earning any money. I was actually losing a little money monthly.

The second reason–is that I’m trying not mend my relationship with food. While proper nutrition is important for weight loss/management–neither of their nutrition programs seem to to be the right fit for me. I’m tired of trying to always count my calories/macros/colored containers, and while I’m trying to drink more water throughout the day–I don’t like being told when I should be drinking water and that half my plate is suppose to be veggies.

The third reason–is that I have never bought into the whole organic, non-GMO, gluten-free diet/nutrition mindset. True, I have bought (and do still occasionally buy) items that are labeld non-GMO or organic, but I usually just shake my head at the marketing strategy.

The list of GMO plants (as of 2019) include:

Maize (corn)–15 varieties

Soybean–8 varieties

Cotton–10 varieties

Canola–3 varieties

Cowpea–1 variety

Arctic Fuji Apples–1 variety

Sugarcane–2 varieties

The time and effort that go into producing GMO plants is extremely long–we’re talking at a minimum of 2 to 4 years, but usually much longer (depending on the flowering/germination rate of the plant).

Therefore, scientists put a lot of time and effort into generating a crop that has a single change in a gene that will extend it’s life, improve the crop, or help to start reducing the amount of water needed for it.

So truthfully–labeling items ‘non-GMO’ is a marketing scheme. Companies realize that we’re willing to part with more money for ‘organic’ or ‘non-modified’ items. Hate to break to everyone–humans have been ‘modifying’ plants and animals since we started doing agriculture (that is the very basis of getting better crops and animals). ‘Organic’ food is actually worse for the environment than GMO plants because it takes more land to grow the same amount of food.

So while I don’t buy into the reasons for ‘non-GMO’/’organic’ labeling and pushes, I will probably still end up purchasing products labeled that way because there may not be any other options on the market.

So to sum up my leaving independent coaching/consulting–while I share on social media I don’t share much, and therefore it isn’t easy to build a large fitness following. I was tired of losing the little money monthly (and currently need that money elsewhere). I’m mending my relationship with food, and I don’t want to be measuring, counting, or weighting anything (and that includes myself). Finally–I just got tired of seeing so much ‘non-GMO’/’organic’/’all-natural’/lets cut calories/need to do this to burn that off crap throughout my various social media channels.

I’m still a Beachbody customer–I’m keeping my on-demand subscription to have access to all the workouts. I’ve actually been a Beachbody customer for decades, and have nothing bad to say about them–these were my reasons/decisions for stepping away from the coaching side of their company.

Everyone’s fitness and nutrition journey is different–some don’t mind sharing their ups and downs with the world. I’m a little more private, which at times makes it a little harder to build up a consistent following.

While I will probably still be sharing my fitness/nutrition journey, it may just be a little more sporadic with very few pictures or measurements or things like that.

Reference for list of GMO plants: news.agropages.com/News/NewsDetails—34089.htm

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Capricorn New Moon: self-development, self-compassion, & defining my purpose/vision

So the moon will be entering the Capricorn constellation today, and it is also the first new moon transition of 2021. I’m hopeful that things are going to slowly start mellowing out over the next few weeks/months. Joe Biden & Kamala Harris will be getting sworn in as the new president & vice-president of the United States in a week. Hopefully all the knuckle-draggers and ass-hats will just slide back under their rocks for another couple of years. Though, white supremacy is an issue that we have to address as a country, specifically heterosexual male white supremacy (not to say that Caucasian women aren’t part of the problem–but the boy’s club is a bigger piece of the pie).

So one of the long-term goals I have is to try to consistently set and post goals for each new/full moon every month. I know that I missed several throughout 2020, so I’m hoping to be more consistent this year in setting, posting, and actually working towards the goals.

So, back to the first full moon of the year, which is happening tonight (or possibly last night depending on where you are in the world). The moon is moving through the Capricorn constellation, and according to “Moonology: Working with the magic of lunar cycles” by Yasmin Boland, there are several things that one can do during this time:

Plan for next year

Be ambitious with your plans for the next year (or few years)

Be kind (to both yourself and others)

Cede control (don’t micromanage or manipulate others)

Establish traditions (also working on your reputation–both personal and professional)

Then one should also look to see what zone/house the constellation is traveling through. You can base it off of your star/sun, rising, or moon sign. I usually do all of mine using my rising sign: Scorpio, though I could do it with my star/sun sign (Virgo), or even my moon sign (Pisces).

So the new moon in Capricorn is entering my third house, or my communication zone. This is a time to concentrate on communication, and spending time with siblings and friends. So there are several things that one can do during this time (again, taken from “Moonology”):

Take a public speaking course

Read the books you’ve got stacked up

Take a short trip

Hang out with your siblings

Study a foreign language

Really listen to others

Write those letters you’ve been putting off

So looking at the above lists there are few things that I can cross off, since we’re still in the middle of a pandemic (and it’s difficult to be around anyone who isn’t living in your house). Therefore, I probably won’t be spending too much time with my siblings (namely my older brother who is out in California)–though I am helping the younger one move back to town. Traveling is still out of the question (even a short trip), and any courses need to be virtual and already purchased (I’m trying to do a limited spending year).

So if I were to take ideas from the two lists and compile a short goal list for the Capricorn new moon they would include:

Work on developing my vision of where I would like to be in 3-5 years and what I wouldlike to be doing. In the same note, write out very specific goals/milestones that will help me achieve said vision.

Read (or finish) at least two non-fiction books that I have on my curated 2021 to-read list; and read at least three fiction books.

Finish at least one e-course from my curated 2021 to-be-completed e-course list

Work on getting better at self-compassion.

The vision will probably be the hardest goal to be working on–and one reason (at least for me), is that I enjoy learning and jumping from topic to topic. So while people might think that scientific writing is the best (and it is one of the careers I’m looking into)–I want to possibly do something that allows me to bridge STEM with the more interdisciplinary fields (such as humanities and social sciences), plus figuring out how to give back in a way that helps to improve the educational system of the United States.

So I will be using the words I chose for 2021 as guidance: growth, creativity, curiosity, happiness, and prosperity.

In addition, this month has already shown that I need to focus on ‘progress, not perfection’ and to quit reading the last chapter of my life and start writing the next one.

No Comments AstrologyBookscareerNew Moon GoalsPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

Reflecting on December’s Sagittarius New Moon Goals

So the moon will be entering the Capricorn constellation tomorrow, marking the first new moon of 2021. We’re entering week two of 2021–though it still feels like 2020 (mainly due to the fiasco last week of the attempted coup by right-wing nut-bags (all of whom I hope are arrested, found guilty of treason, and spend the rest of their miserable lives in prison)). So before I can look ahead to the Capricorn new moon, I need to look back at the goals that I set for the Sagittarius new moon, and see how I did with each of them.

The goals for the Sagittarius new moon included:

Developing a ‘fluid’ daily/weekly schedule to for getting things done.

Setting up a goal list for 2021 (working via the larger 150+goals in 2002 days post)

Starting to work through different e-courses (and taking notes for future blog posts)

Finally, setting up a dedicated work station, and a semi-dedicated meditation area in the bedroom.

So how did I do with each of them?

In terms of developing a ‘fluid’ daily/weekly schedule–I’m getting better at it. Basically, I’m trying to do things in a 90-minute chunk with a 20-minute break between the ‘work chunks’. Currently I’m finding I do better in the morning than the afternoon. While I’m fine with this (everyone has a time of day that they work the best during), I may actually try to possibly get some more creative work done, or possibly work through an e-course (but not have a timer set for 90 minutes like I do in the morning) in the afternoon. This may also be the time when I could probably get some uninterrupted meditation time in.

Setting up a goal list for 2021–I managed this one. I decided that this year I would try it in the form of a bingo card. In addition to the bingo card, I also have a curated list of non-fiction books I would like to read this year (from my extremely larger list I started a couple of years ago), and a curated list of e-courses I would also like to work through (again curated from the huge list I’ve accumulated over the past few years).

2021 Bingo Goal Card

Plus I decided that I would also do a workout bingo card, but stretch the time frame to be from 2021 through 2023.

2021 to 2023 Beachbody fitness program bingo card

I worked through the ‘e-course’ Listen to Your Body Method. Though this was more of a weekly coaching/personal development program where there was a group zoom meeting once a week for about 10 weeks. This course opened my eyes to several different things that I’m going to try to start practicing (channel switching, incorporating ‘right’ brain activities into my day, having ‘conversations’ with my inner critic, acknowledging my inner critic, and slowly stepping into my power). Again, as I mentioned above with the goals–I have a curated list of courses I would like to finish during 2021.

In terms of setting up a dedicated work station and semi-dedicated meditation area–well, I almost have the desk cleared off and I’m thinking of turning the other desk/table into where I do my oracle/tarot card readings at night. I’ve realized that I’m still allowing a few things to keep me from totally moving forward in setting up these areas: 1) I use the desk chair as a nightstand (for my glasses, kindle, and journal)–I can easily still use it for that, as I wear my glasses during the day and would just have to find a different spot to lay the kindle and journal during the day; 2) things are still under the desk, but since I don’t really like sitting forward (unless there is room to stretch out my legs), I need to figure out what to use as a possible foot stool, and 3) I need to have a discussion with both my inner critic and anxiety about whatever other issues that are holding me back that I may not recognize day-to-day.

Currently my workstation is bouncing between the table at the window and my bed (and yes, I know that I shouldn’t be working on the bed as I may have a hard time falling asleep at night), and the meditation/oracle card reading is being done on the floor where I currently have my meditation mat.

I’m heading into 2021 knowing that I’m slowly getting better at time and project management (though I would rank both as can-get-better-at). I’m slowly figuring things out, and realizing that the path I carve for myself moving forward doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s path. I know that focusing on time and project management will be key for moving forward both personally and professionally in 2021 and beyond.

Also, taking the time to sit and reflect/question when I realize I’m hitting a roadblock in either area. One of the key things I realized last year–I’ve spent way too much time over the years being a ‘people pleaser’/team player in my career. That isn’t to say that being a team player is bad–it isn’t, but I also need to stand up for myself and my career and learn to start saying no to things that don’t align or wouldn’t help me move my career forward.

I have decided that the following phrases are going to be stay with me in 2021: “Progress over Perfection”, “You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one”, and “Not caring what other people think is the best choice you will ever make”..

In addition the words I’ve chosen for 2021 are: growth, creativity, curiosity, happiness, and prosperity

No Comments AstrologycareerNew Moon GoalsPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

Recapping Genetic Engineering & Biotech News: First Weekly Round-up

So I mentioned earlier this month that one of the ideas that had been floating around in my head last year was doing a weekly post summarizing all the science news I had read that week (and probably shared via Twitter or LinkedIn).

This will be the first in hopefully weekly (or possibly bi-weekly) installments of my Science News Round-Up. The topics are going to be bouncing around from cancer treatments to neurological disorder treatments, to DNA, RNA, protein, and probably everything in between.

As mentioned before–my top strength is learner, which means I love reading on different topics (and within science I hop between just about everything). Also these posts may lead to other spin-off posts as I will possibly be looking into various topics more deeply.

Also if I am able to download the paper that is mentioned in the article–they will automatically become a separate post and will show up at a later date (after I have time to read the paper and take notes). So, with that said basically all of the news round-ups will be over the news brief, background, but not the actual article.

Also–FYI this first one, is going to be a very long post (possibly a fifteen to twenty minute read).

The articles this week are all showcased on Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News website. Their site is usually updated Monday thru Friday with new stories, and you can also subscribe to their newsletter and get their daily briefings.

One article this week was entitled “Strategy to boost CAR-T cell efficacy against solid tumors demonstrated in mice”.

A little background is probably needed:

CAR-T cells are white blood cells that have been genetically engineered to recognize and attack cancer cells that are expressing certain proteins on their surface.

The proteins on the surface of the cancer cells are the ‘antigens’ that the CAR-T cells recognize. This allows for the CAR-T cells to be ‘customized’ for different cancer types, and can be considered almost a ‘personalized’ treatment plan for cancer patients.

Generation of CAR-T cells. Cartoon (c) Dana-Faber Cancer blog

This treatment method has been successful for B-cell lymphoma and is in clinical trials for other blood cancers.

There are two problems with using this treatment for other types of cancers (outside of lymphomas) are 1) CAR-T cells have to get to the tumor site, and then 2) enter the tumor and be able to survive and replicate to kill off the cancer cells.

A group of scientists at the University of North Carolina may have found a way to increase the success rate of CAR-T cells when combined with other immuno-therapies.

They published their work “STING agonist promotes CAR-T cell trafficking and persistence in breast cancer” in the journal of Experimental Medicine. Again disclosure–I haven’t read the article, because it is behind a pay wall (where you have to pay to have access to the article). I’m hoping it will become freely accessible within the next six to eight months.

The key take away points from the news article were that by activating the STING pathway (which is an pathway that induces inflammation in response to a viral or bacterial infection), the CAR-T cells ability to destroy cancer cells in mice increased. In addition if the ‘checkpoint’ of turning off the CAR-T cells was inhibited, their ability to ‘stay on’ increased as well.

They then came up with a triple combination: CAR-T cells derived from either Th17 or Tc17 cells (T-cells that had longer persistence in the tumor micro-environment), use of therapeutic antibodies to deplete various immuno-suppressive cells from the micro-environment, and turning off the CAR-T ‘check-point’ allowed for these CAR-T cells to destroy breast cancer cells in mice.

To be able to translate these results to human trials, a different agonist for the STING pathway would be needed (as the one used in mice doesn’t activate the pathway in humans). Plus, one would need to see which cancer could be treated with activating the STING pathway. The group stated that they would initially focus on improving treatments for head and neck cancers first, and if the combination is beneficial, move on to other cancers.

CAR-T image came from: https://blog.dana-farber.org/insight/2018/20/recurrence-remission-lymphoma-patient-cancer-free-car-t-cell-therapy/

The second article I read was titled “RNA-DNA World Circumvents RNA World Sticking Point”.

This article covered the sticky question–which was first DNA or RNA?

Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute published their paper “Prebiotic Phosphorylation and Concomitant Oligomerization of Deoxynucleosides to form DNA” in the journal Angewandte Chemie. Again–I haven’t read the paper, because it is behind a pay wall.

What the group found though is that through the combination of two chemicals (diamidophosphate and 2-aminoimidazole) that were probably also present in the ozone of Earth’s early atmosphere, along with various nucleotides, you can end up with a RNA-DNA chimera.

This chimera then allowed each ‘strand’ to somewhat easily disassociate from the other to replicate, but at the same time forming a chimera from time to time for stability.

The RNA-DNA World Hypothesis. (c) phys.org/news/2019-09-rna-dna-rna-chimeras

The RNA-world hypothesis is based on the idea that RNA was the original self-replicating molecule. The only ‘sticky’ problem with this hypothesis is that when RNA binds to itself (forming a double-stranded molecule), it is very difficult to pull them apart without the help of enzymes (which wouldn’t have been present at early in Earth’s formation).

The chimera RNA-DNA gives support to the hypothesis that maybe DNA and RNA co-emerged at roughly the same time.

This discovery (that the interaction of these two chemicals and various nucleotides can lead to synthesis of DNA) leads to another question–could there now be a broader impact on science? Could the use of these two chemicals possibly make various things easier and cheaper? Such as developing an enzyme-free method of making DNA & RNA, which could then lead to revamping how we do PCR reactions or even synthesize various oligo nucleotides for research.

Image of the RNA-DNA world hypothesis from: https://phys.org/news/2019-09-rna-dna-rna-dna-chimeras

The third article that I read this past week was “Single-cell transcriptome profiling of gastric tumors reveals prognostic gene signatures”.

One major problem with all forms of cancers is the heterogeneity of the tumors. While people can have the ‘same type’ of cancer–for example, breast cancer–each cancer is actually slightly different due to the individual mutations of each patient.

This is why developing cancer treatments are so difficult–they may not (and often do not) work for every patient with that particular cancer. This is one reason why there has been such a push for individualized cancer treatment plans.

So a group of scientists at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, were able to use single-cell sequencing to look at the individual transcriptome of cancer cells from 20 patients who had/have advanced gastric cancer.

Schematic for single cell sequencing from basically any biological starting material

Their article “Single-cell dissection of intratumoral heterogeneity and lineage diversity in metastatic gastric adenocarcinoma” was published recently in Nature Medicine. Again, I have not read the article because it is behind a pay wall (hopefully will be available freely in about six to twelve months).

They collected ascites fluid (which is the fluid that accumulates in the abdominal cavity due to liver disease, cancer, and/or heart failure), from these patients and then isolated a specific cancer cell: peritoneal carcinomatosis cells. These are a specific cancer cell that invades the abdominal cavity, adhering to the stomach and other organs.

They isolated, profiled, and sequenced 45,048 peritoneal carcinomatosis (PC) cells. They learned that the cells seemed to have one of two lineage origins: gastric (stomach) and were considered the most aggressive PC cells resulting in a shorter survival prognosis, or intestinal-like, which were less aggressive, allowing patients to have a longer survival rate.

Through the profiling of the 45,048 cells, they were able to isolate a signature pattern of 12 genes that could be correlated to patient survival, which they tested against even more data from more patients who have PC.

They are hoping that the profiles of the PC cells may also give rise to potential targets for treatment, as there is currently no effective treatment for patients who have peritoneal carcinomatosis.

Cartoon on single-cell sequence came from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single_cell_sequencing

The next article was one I found really interesting: “MicroRNAs modulating diurnal rhythms in cells identified in genome-wide study”.

I found this article fascinating in part to the fact that microRNAs were the topic of my dissertation thesis (though I worked with plants and not animals), and the fact that the other portion (diurnal or circadian rhythm) was the recipient of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (and had been awarded to a trio of scientists–Dr. Jeffrey C. Hall, Dr. Michael Rosbash, and Dr. Michael W. Young).

The paper “A genome-wide microRNA screen identifies the microRNA-183/96/182 cluster as a modulator of circadian rhythms” and was published recently in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. While I haven’t read the paper, I am going to figure out a way to access it (without hopefully having to pay for it), or maybe wait for to to be freely accessible.

So, basically every living thing has a circadian clock (the internal 24-hour clock that is basically running on auto-pilot in the background carrying out the day-to-day essential functions of living).

Most research has been focused on the protein-protein interactions and various pathways and feedback loops. This group changed their focus and looked at a specific class of non-coding RNAs (miRNAs) that regulate genes, but at the transcriptional level.

They screened almost a thousand microRNAs in a luciferase reporter system that was engineered to glow on and off based on the cell’s specific 24-hr circadian clock.

To their surprise, they found 120 microRNAs that affected the bacteria’s circadian clock. Looking at the microRNAs, they decided to go with the cluster miR183/96/182, as mi96 showed to regulate PER2 (which is a core circadian clock gene).

They then went on to knocking out the cluster in the bacteria, and found that depending on how they knocked out the cluster (leaving one miRNA present), they either shortened the circadian period or increased the amplitude of the period.

Wanting to see how the cluster affected the circadian clock in mammals, they knocked the cluster out in mice and found that the mice lacking the cluster had a more difficult time trying to run on a wheel in the dark.

It will be interesting to see how miRNAs, the circadian clock, and disease all tie together.

The final article that I read this week was “Marine natural products identified with potential to treat lethal RNA viruses”.

The title of the actual research paper is “Natural products with the potential to treat RNA virus pathogens including SARS-CoV2” and was published in the Journal of Natural Products. This is a journal that if I renew my membership in the American Chemical Society I should be able to gain access to at some point this year.

So there is a big push in science to find natural products that can serve as antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, antiparastic, and anticarcinogenic treatments. This is due in part to various things (such as bacteria and cancer cells) finding ways to get around current treatments.

There is already quite a bit of research going in this area in terms of looking at plants and soil bacteria (plus other soil organisms), for natural products. Recently there has been a push to look at the oceans for other potential natural products that could be beneficial to human health.

Currently there are ~21 pharmaceuticals that can trace their discovery to a marine natural product. For example, Marizomib (an potential proteasome inhibitor) is in clinical trials for be used as a potential treatment for different brain cancers.

It can trace its discovery to a genus of marine bacteria that was collected from seafloor sediments in 1990 by scientists at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography.

The scientists are looking to develop a library of compounds with medicinal potential from natural products found in the marine environment (so metabolites from various organisms).

The one thing that I found interesting was that I didn’t realize that members of only 3 RNA virus families have caused all the viral epidemics and pandemics throughout human history (or at least since we’ve started recording it). These 3 virus families (Coronaviridae, Flaviviridae, & Filoviridae) are responsible for the following viruses: SARS-CoV2 (COVID19), dengue fever, West Niles encephalitis, Zika, Ebola, and Marburg disease.

The thought that a treatment is just floating under the waves for any of these viral diseases is quite fascinating–as we are still learning what is actually living under the waves. But it also serves as a reminder that we need to continue (and improve) the protections we have in place for the oceans. These waters cover almost 70% of the planet, so it really shouldn’t be a surprise that the cure/remedy/treatment for numerous diseases caused by viruses could be under the waves.

So this wraps up my first science news round up. I realize that it is an extremely long post, and I may try to do it in two parts moving forward or just limit the number of articles I recap (here I did five articles).

I hope that this has been beneficial to you, and let me know if it still seems to have too much scientific jargon, which topic you found interesting, and also possibly what topic(s) you would like me to dive deeper into with either a series of blog posts or pages under the ‘all things science’ category.

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Quickly gazing back at 2020, while planning for 2021

So 2020 is finally over (and I’m cautiously looking out the window at 2021), but it is also time to reflect back on the year (ups, downs, hills, and valleys). So my apologies if this seems to be a really rambling post–I’m covering the year, but there isn’t any particular order for my thoughts.

2020 managed to shake up the entire year by itself. Earlier in the year there was talk of a novel coronavirus that had popped up in China and was possibly making its way around the world. The first ‘identified’ cases in the US showed up in late January/early February (though now we know that the virus was actually here earlier); and now at the end of the year-the US had just under 20.5 million cases as of New Years Eve, and leads in total cases and number of deaths (I wish someone would explain to people–this isn’t a damn popularity contest; you actually want to be coming in last).

Vaccine development was pushed to the forefront as case numbers due to the virus continued to climb; currently there are two vaccines that have been granted emergency use (I also think that there are two or three more entering phase III clinical trials)–but I won’t be eligible for either of the them until late summer/early fall (with a three-to-four week wait period between the two shots). So needless to say–there was no travel this year, and probably won’t be any travel (at least international) probably until 2022 (at the earliest).

Though I’ve been self-isolating for the most part this year, I decided I would buy some face-masks for whenever I needed to go out and possibly be around people. So far those times have been walking at Boomer Lake this fall and winter (I figured fewer people out in the cold weather), I have the face-mask on, but pulled down and when I can’t keep at least six to eight feet between myself and the other person, I pull the mask up over my mouth and nose. I also have one that I wear when I need to go buy the weekend newspaper, plus several others that I can go between for any other errands I may need to run in 2021.

Both puppies that we adopted last year have settled in, grown, and are showing their unique personalities. Rolex seems to have developed an autoimmune disorder (Vitilgo), which is also an autoimmune disorder that humans can have. So now whenever she loses a little bit of fur-it will grow back in white instead of black. So at some point, she may start looking like a reverse Dalmatian (black with white spots), though she still has a pinkish jaw (the fur hasn’t totally grown back).

Rolex, our boxer-mix puppy, before her Vitilgo started acting up

Chaos has basically finished growing, though I think he still as a little more muscle mass to put on, and should top off somewhere between 55 and 65 pounds. He walks nicely on a leash for me, and listens to most commands (though to get him in–you do need to have a treat in your hand, he is a little devil in that regard). His only ‘health’ issue right now is dry/itchy skin that we’re treating with a combination of bendaryl, flaxseed, and anti-itch pills (which are a combo of various omega oils). Though we may be switching the food to see if that has anything to do with his issue.

Chaos snoozing on the bed.

Now once the weather starts to behave, I’ll be walking him more and possibly trying to walk him at Boomer Lake where we may see other people and animals–he grumbles a little at people he doesn’t know very well. When Arick is in town, Chaos grumbles at him every so often–though it may be due also to the fact that Arick was wearing dirty clothes that day and Chaos didn’t like the smell of them. But I do need to try and get him a little more social–mainly so I don’t get the lecture from the vet on his personality problems.

Looking back at what I had planned for 2020, I almost want to break down into tears–I had the idea of trying to focus on just a couple of areas, creating a monthly calendar to keep me on track, posting more on the blog, and just getting more stuff done in general. I also had plans for at least one mental health break trip and then a networking trip as well–needless to say, neither trip happened (and probably won’t happen for another year or so).

While I’m still slightly stuck in the weeds in terms of trying to figure out the next direction for my carer/job, I have realized a couple of things. 1) I know realize that once I feel like I’ve learned all there is to learn within the position, I start ‘coasting’ and have a hard time asking for more things to keep me engaged at work; 2) I really don’t work well with micro-managers and straight up-right upholders (if you don’t recognize the term–I suggest reading ‘Four Tendencies’ by Gretchen Rubin); 3) I do like working in a group setting where there is interaction between people (at least conversations every so often).

While trying to figure things out, I decided that I would retake the Clifton Strength Assessment to see if any of my strengths had changed since I first took it. The top four stayed in the exact same order (learner, intellection, input, and achiever), while the fifth one changed (deliberative to ideation; and when I averaged the two assessments, the fifth changed again to arranger, followed by deliberative. Ideation fell to number nine on the average).

This means that when looking for jobs/assignments/positions, I need to choose things that allow me to be learning (but I also need to have at least a small interest in the subject), dive as deeply as I want into the subject matter, change topics on a whim, work remotely, at an office, or both, and realize that I could be changing tones/subjects/ideas or whatever on a day to day (or even hour to hour) basis.

Earlier in the year (basically at the start of the pandemic) I had more of a drive to try to transition into an industry position and joined an accountability group to help make that happen. While, I haven’t transitioned yet–it did give me ideas on how to go about filling in my job search spreadsheet, which I will be starting a fresh one in the coming weeks for 2021. One issue that was brought up is that since things are probably going to be sticking remote for awhile (especially interviews), one should try to have a dedicated ethernet connection for virtual meetings. Currently, we don’t have one and probably won’t–I don’t want the headache of having to stretch a cord from my parents room (which is where the closest phone jack is) into my room–but this is also a problem to address at a later day in 2021.

Informational interviews probably won’t start happening until the earliest April, since 1) I still haven’t figured out the direction(s) I want to be focusing on in terms of job transition, and 2) I will still need to build rapport with people online before asking if they have time to answer a couple of questions either via email, a phone call, or a Skype/Zoom call.

Another area I was trying to focus on in 2020 was health and fitness. I managed to get serious about pushing play on working out in June. Up until then I had been trying different times of the day for working out and none of them really stuck, until I decided that I would workout in the morning after having breakfast. So, I made the decision on June 1st to push play in the morning (and so far the latest has been ~10AM), and I managed to finish three and a half programs (I still have probably another week or so of the Yoga Booty Ballet-Abs&Butt Series to finish) by the end of 2020.

The goal for 2021 is to complete a total of nine Beachbody workouts.

I also made the decision to step back from trying to do coaching via Beachbody. I had several reasons for this, and I will probably do a separate post on that during the first month or two of 2021.

I had made note at the end of 2019 that I was trying to focus on too many different things, and therefore would try to focus just on health/fitness, career transition (these were tied at number one), then personal/professional development (number two), and if possible crafts as number three. Needless to say–having multiple things actually helps me focus better, when I can switch between things if I start to get bored. My problem was actually needing to figure out how to prioritize the projects/topics and setting up a workable schedule/calendar. Though if I look at my reading list–I did manage to read eighteen non-fiction books in 2020, which is about the average of the past couple of years.

So to help with the prioritizing, setting up a schedule/calendar, I’m going to do the following:

Have a list of non-fiction books that I would like to read–instead of just saying that I will randomly pick one out of the three hundred that I still have to read. This way, the list is smaller and curated–almost guaranteed that I should be able to read at least twenty-five of them during 2021.

I also have a goal to read about forty to fifty fiction books as well during 2021–and I think that I have probably forty-five on pre-order already for the year. I’ve also decided that for the books that I still want to get in 2021, but haven’t been put up for pre-order yet–in order to buy one of them I will need to have read two non-fiction books and two to three fiction books and posted a review on them (blog and amazon) before buying another book.

I’m also going to have a list of forty to sixty different e-courses that I would like to work through for the year as well. These will include most of the advanced Cheeky Scientist programs and then a variety of other courses that I’ve bought from other sites. The goal is to continue working towards an industry transition, though now I’m thinking more remote/freelance/independent/consultant/contract type of work for a while (mainly due to the pandemic situation). As I work through various courses, I will be taking notes and posting updates on the the blog as to what I think of the courses and how taking it has benefited (either by being something I will continue working with or showing me that the topic isn’t for me).

In terms of crafts and hobbies–I’m hoping to get out more with the camera and work on my nature/landscape photography skills and maybe also some architecture/city photography as well. Photography was one of my saving graces during 2020–with sheltering in place I managed to get quite good at getting pictures of hummingbirds in motion at their feeder. I think my top three photography subjects were the ruby-throated hummingbird, the red-bellied woodpecker, and the downy woodpecker.

Hummingbird sitting in the pecan tree

I’m also going to sit down and teach myself cross-stitching and jewelry design, plus work on my drawing skills. I have a couple of books on jewelry design (and I’m sure I can find other articles and so forth on-line), e-courses on drawing, and I can probably look up an introduction video on YouTube for cross-stitching. One thing I’m having to remind myself of lately–that trying new hobbies doesn’t mean that I’m going to be dedicating my life to them.

I also got back into the habit of doing an evening oracle/tarot card reading. I decided that instead of taking a picture of every reading–I’d ‘sketch’ out the cards in my journal along with what I took away from each card. Then once I started doing a review on the oracle/tarot deck I would reference back to my journal for the layouts that I wanted to use as examples. I’m slowly working on those reviews–I find that even though they’re ‘creative’ writing, I put more thought into them than I do some of the other creative writing posts I do.

Another idea that I had bouncing around in my head during 2020 was to do a weekly recap of the various science news posts that I had read and shared on twitter or LinkedIn–needless to say the idea stayed in my head all year, but will hopefully be put into practice in 2021.

While 2020 was difficult year–December was a very trying month. There were a couple of deaths in the family (one due to the SARS-CoV2 virus, one to other health issues/surgery complications, and one to old age/health issues). Also it didn’t help hearing from an friend who is just getting over botulism poisoning that they are having to go through surgery due to possible cancer tumor on their salivary glands. Then to top off the month–a close friend and her entire family caught the SARS-CoV2 virus, but luckily they seem to have “recovered” from it. Luckily, we’ve been fortunate that no one in the immediate family has come into contact with anyone who has tested positive for the virus.

So while there was zero traveling during 2020, I did manage to get a few things accomplished–I got better with my camera and getting pictures of birds; I have several ideas of possible directions to go in terms of my career; I’ve done quite a bit of self-reflection (though there will be more of self-reflection in 2021 as you can never really be done with it), found quite a few more book series and new (to me) authors, and managed to stay safe and healthy in the midst of the SARS-CoV2 pandemic.

While traveling is still probably on hold for 2021 (damn you both pandemic and poor government response), I will be focusing on the things that make me happy–learning, reading, crafting, photography, meditating, tarot/oracle card readings, and spending time with my family and pets.

Hopefully 2021 will also be the year of making numerous new friends and having coffee/tea/water chats over Skype/zoom/phone/email. I’m going to slowly start trying to get out of my ‘shell’ but at the same time realize that the shell may be the best place to be at times.

The phrases for 2021 are now going to be: “Progress over Perfection”, “You can’t start start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last”, “Not caring what other people think is the best choice you will ever make”, and “evaluate the people in your life; then promote, demote, or terminate. You’re the CEO of your life.”

I’ve also decided that the words for 2021 are going to be: growth, curiosity, creativity, prosperity, and happiness.

No Comments careerfinancesfitnessHealthPandemic2020Personal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentRebootBreakReflectionsYear in Review

Looking back at the last month of 2020: reflections, & preparing for 2021

So December is over–2020 is now in the past and here is to 2021 being more mellow, laid back, productive, healthier, and just all around better. While the Electoral College met on December 14th and finalized the vote–on January 6th, Congress is suppose to do the same thing. Then on the 20th, the new president and vice-president will be sworn in (as long as there is no stealing the election by a certain political party).

December was not a good month over all, in fact it ranks right up there with February and October of 2018 as one of the three worse months ever. There were a couple of deaths in the family, illnesses in the family, finding out friends came down with the SARS-CoV2 virus, and another friend having even more medical issues. But the month is over–2021 is here and with the presence of two vaccines (and hopefully two or three more by the summer), the world may slowly start getting this damn pandemic under control.

The US still hasn’t gotten the virus under control-when I published ‘November in Review’ I noted that the US had just under 14 million cases, and as of last night the US had almost 20.5 million cases (that is an increase of almost six and a half million cases in a month–a little over two million more than what we had in November).

We’re in the log phase–where numbers/cases are doubling at a faster rate than our hospitals can handle them. People are still ignoring the advice of the health professionals–wearing masks, washing your hands, social distancing, and not getting together in large groups. I’m almost afraid to think of how high the numbers are going to be this coming month. But as I mentioned there are two vaccines that have been approved for emergency use in people over the age of sixteen (or eighteen), but I probably won’t be able to get either of the shots (since both are a two shot unit) until the earliest mid-summer/early-fall. That means that there will probably be zero travel again for 2021, and hopefully sometime in 2022 I can possibly think of planning a trip again.

So as I gaze towards 2021, I need to look back at the goals I set for the last month of 2020 and see how I did with each of them.

Goals for December included:

At least 130-155,000 steps

Finishing up 10 Round and then either a week of YBB or starting one of the following combos: Muscle Burns Fat/Muscle Burns Fat Advance or 21-Day Fix Live/21-Day Fix Extreme Live

Read (or finish) at least 2 non-fiction books

No spend days/no spend weeks/hopefully no spend month

Finish up the writing/editing assignments for the Medical Writers Organization

Get halfway through one of the other advanced Cheeky Scientist programs

Complete at least two other short e-courses

Brain dump/organize/create a rough draft of an editorial/to-accomplish calendar/list

So how did I do with each of them?

At least 130-155,000 steps–I managed to get a little over 200,000 steps (209,869 steps to be exact). I managed to do five walks at Boomer Lake in December, and have realized that on days that I can get a walk in at Boomer Lake results in me getting over 10K steps for that particular day. Since June, I’ve managed to get a little over a million steps. Goal for 2021 is to have at least 1,825,000 steps (breaking down to basically 5,000 steps per day).

Finishing up 10 Rounds and then either YBB or Muscle Burns Fat/Muscle Burns Fat Advance or 21-Day Fix Live/21-Day Fix Extreme Live.

I finished up 10 Rounds the day after Christmas, and will probably be doing at least a second round of the program so that I can focus on some of the other moves (such as the rolls, slips, pivots, and foot work)–as the punches came easy to me.

I decided that I would start 2021 off with the combo of Muscle Burns Fat & Muscle Burns Fat Advanced. Currently I’ve done the first four days, and while it isn’t going to be one of my favorites (possibly the only time I do these two programs)–I am pledging to give each workout an honest try with a decent amount of effort.

Read (or finish) at least 2 non-fiction books

While I’ve been reading books all month, I haven’t finished any non-fiction books. The goal for 2021 is to have a shorter list of books to choose from–so instead of wondering which of the three hundred books I’m going to pick, the list is shorter at about eighty-eight.

No spend days/no spend weeks/no spend month

I managed to have quite a few no spend days, and I think even a no spend week. Though I still haven’t worked up to having a no-spend month.

Finishing the writing/editing assignments for the Medical Writers Organization program

These assignments weren’t finished this month. I’ve realized that while I’m thinking of going the scientific writing route professionally (probably freelancing to start)–I’m leaning more towards science education or possibly writing for a non-profit (museum, aquarium, zoo) and possibly doing less medical writing. I will be doing the assignments–but I’ve realized that while I’m a learner at heart, I also have a small bit of interest in the subject to really get into it.

Get halfway through one of the other advanced Cheeky Scientist programs

Since I haven’t finished the writing assignments for the Medical Writers Organization, I didn’t want to start another program without finishing that one first. I probably will start one of the other programs next month just to get a little traction going again in professional development.

Complete at least two other short e-courses

December really wasn’t a month for me in terms of professional development–I couldn’t find the energy, push, or drive to sit through any videos this month. I have decided that I will be making a shorter list of e-courses that I would like to get through for 2021 (so that instead of having a massive list of courses to choose from, it will be a shorter, condensed list).

Brain dump/organize/create a rough draft for an editorial/to-accomplish calendar/list

I have managed to do at least one or two brain dumps–both on paper and digitally. I’m working on organization (smaller lists of non-fiction books to read, e-courses to work through, and a workout schedule for 2021). While I have the shorter list of non-fiction books and the workout schedule done, I’m still working on the short list of e-courses (hoping to have that done by the end of the weekend).

Once I have that list, I can then attempt to create a to-be-accomplished calendar or list to start off 2021.

So, looking back at everything I managed to meet some of the goals for December, and fell behind slightly on others. In terms of writing–I’m leaning more towards science education, non-profit, creative, with just a little medical (though if I find the topic interesting I may do more on the topic).

I’m still working on figuring out the direction to go in for career, blog, and life in general–but also figuring out how to make sure that I’m not laser focusing in on one aspect and neglecting everything else.

2021 is a fresh start in many ways, while still be in limbo for other things. So the goals for January 2021 will include:

At least 130-155,000 steps; since it is still winter I’m not sure how many walks at Boomer Lake I will be getting in, so I will need to think of other ways of getting the steps during the day.

Finish up Muscle Burns Fat and start Muscle Burns Fat Advance

Read (or finish) two non-fiction books from list

Read three fiction books

Finish the MWO & start another advanced Cheeky Scientist program

No spend days/no spend weeks/maybe a no-spend month

Time outdoors, meditation and/or sitting quietly

Daily craft time

Finish at least two other e-courses from list

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

I’m also stating that the words for 2021 are: growth, creativity, curiosity, happiness, and prosperity.

No Comments Month in ReviewPandemic2020Personal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

Reflections and planning for 2021: Cancer Full Moon Goals

So tonight is the last full moon of 2020–that means there will only be two days left in the year. This has been a very long year with everything that has happened, especially the SARS-CoV2 pandemic that we’re still in the middle of; while there have been two vaccines that have been granted emergency use–I’m not eligible for either of them until probably the summer time (I’m currently in tier four for OK in terms of need). Therefore I’m probably not going to be making any major plans for any type of traveling until maybe sometime in 2022 going towards 2023.

So the full moon tonight will be moving through the Cancer constellation. Looking within “Moonology: working with the magic of lunar cycles” by Yasmin Boland, there are several questions that one can reflect on during this time:

Have I been insecure, clingy, and no fun this month?

Have I been coming at what I want sideways instead of tackling it head-on?

Have I been sulky, moody, brooding, or manipulative?

Have I been secretive, and possibly even a tad paranoid?

Have I had enough family time, or time with people who feel like family?

Well, if I were to number the above questions 1-5, my answers this month would be as follow:

  1. I don’t think that I’ve been insecure or clingy this month. While I’m still not 100% certain of what I want to do with my life–I have several ideas, and need to fine-tune a plan/schedule to be able to devote enough time to each potential project. In terms of not ‘being fun’–we’re in the middle of a pandemic, and therefore there really isn’t anything to do, if one is listening to the health officials and staying home. Finding time for hobbies, in addition to the different ideas for my career are on the agenda–I’ve realized over the past year or so, I do have the tendency to be laser-focused on one thing to the determinate of other things (for example–laser-focused on career/job/school and ignoring health/fitness/hobbies).
  2. Yes, I probably have been going at what I want sideways instead of tackling it head-on. I think I found it a little easier to do it this way, since I’m not 100% certain of what it is I want to be doing.
  3. No, I have not been sulky, brooding, or manipulative. Yes, I’ve been a little moody–but hello, we’re entering the tenth month of this damn pandemic–everyone is getting a little moody.
  4. No, I have not been secretive or paranoid.
  5. Yes, I have been having enough family time (again–there is a pandemic and I’m self-isolating at home with my parents; and we’ve seen my younger brother twice since it started. We’ll probably be seeing more of him once he moves back into town). I would love to spend more time with friends, but again–pandemic, and it really isn’t safe to be getting together with people who aren’t in your immediate family/household.

In addition to the above questions, the full moon in Cancer is also entering my ninth house. The ninth house is the “Big Picture” zone. Basically this zone deals with all things in terms of personal growth, professional growth, travel, religion and philosophy, and so forth.

There are actually two questions you can ask yourself in terms of the above topics:

Have you been fussing too much over the details of your latest problems or tasks?

Is your life and mind expanding or narrowing?

If I were to number the above questions 1 and 2, my answers would be as follows:

  1. This is both a yes and no answer. Yes, I have been fussing too much over the details. I like lists, and I also like to basically have an outline (or at least rough draft) for various projects before starting things. This is more difficult to try to do when you’re thinking of switching directions career wise–especially, if you’re still uncertain about the direction. So instead of doing various things like networking, reading, listening to podcasts, and so forth I’ve been trying to make lists of skills, jobs, companies–but always second guessing and asking myself–“is this really the direction you want to be going”, and more often than not the answer comes back “I have no idea”. I don’t think I’m fussing over the tasks, but that is mainly because I’m not certain of what those tasks should be.
  2. I think that I’m slowly getting back into a learning mindset, and therefore I am slowly starting to expand both my life and mind again. I fell into a ‘closed’ mindset for awhile, more out of self-preservation since I didn’t know what I was wanting to do with my life. I now realize that instead of investigating things and asking questions, networking, reading and trying to figure things out (basically where I am now)–I narrowed my focus to just getting through the day/week to the weekend, and that isn’t the best way to live one’s life.

So the goals for this full moon period may look like a long list–but a couple of them are hopefully going to be checked off the list before the New Year (as they’re part of another goal series that I’ll share in another post).

The goals for the Cancer Full Moon include:

  1. Continue with my night tarot/oracle card reading and brief meditation.
  2. Update various goal posts (150+goals in 2002 day [next installment will be in Feb]; Level 10 life)
  3. Develop a fluid schedule/planner
  4. Make a list of books (mainly non-fiction) to read in 2021 and e-courses to finish in 2021
  5. Read at least one personal/professional development book from said list
  6. Finish one small e-course from said list
  7. Renew one professional membership

And as always the following quotes are going to be coming with me into 2021: “Progress over Perfection”, “You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one”, and “Not caring what other people think is the best choice you will ever make”.

No Comments AstrologyBookscareerCraftsfitnessFull Moon GoalsHealthPandemic2020Personal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

Reviewing Gemini Full Moon Goals: improving, reflecting, and starting to plan for 2021

So we’re going to be entering the last full moon of the year (and December) on Tuesday.  That means there will literally be only two days before the end of 2020, and the start of 2021. This is one of the few years that I’m actually looking forward to staying up late to see the year out—and hopefully 2021 will be a lot more mellow, laid back, and more productive.

But before I can look the next full moon, or even start trying to look back on the month or year—it is time to look back at the goals that I set for the Gemini full moon and see how I did with each of them.

What were my goals for the Gemini full moon? They included:

            Read (or finish) at least two non-fiction books, and take (or highlight sections) notes in order to also post a book review on the blog (and possibly amazon as well).

            Continue to work on improving my evening/afternoon meditations.

            Get creative in figuring out an schedule/calendar for things. I’ve had ideas of doing everything from a ‘syllabus’ (treating different areas like they were ‘school subjects’) to making a to-be accomplished list. Needless to say neither has really stuck (though to be fair on the to-be accomplished list, the first draft was more of a brain dump). I may try to make a hybrid of the three—a brain dump, cleaned up into a to-be accomplished list, which can be formatted into one or more ‘syllabus’.

So how did I do with each of the goals?

In terms of reading/finishing two non-fiction books—I managed to start two new ones, but haven’t really finished any of them. I think that one part of my problem this year in terms of reading non-fiction books, I have SO many of them on my personal/professional/non-fiction reading list that at times it’s hard to choose which one to read at any given time. Another part of the problem is that sometimes I’m not in the mood to read non-fiction, so I will go read a fiction book instead (and I have managed to finish at least five fiction books during the Gemini full moon).

I am still improving my evening meditation routine. If I can manage to get my tarot/oracle card reading done prior to taking the dogs outside for their last romp—I can then meditate after I bring them in, instead of trying to get the card reading done and then meditate. Though this hasn’t happened as often as I like—therefore I may try to meditate and then do the card reading.

In terms of trying to develop an schedule/calendar, I’m going to be doing a couple of different things as we head into 2021. For starters I’ve created two ‘bingo cards’—one is a 2021 goal bingo card and the second is a 2021-2023 fitness program bingo card. I’m also going to be making a shorter list of books to read and e-courses to complete—and if I manage to finish everything on the lists, I will go back to the master lists and select some more to add to each list. I’m also going to start working on ‘channel switching’ (more on this in a later post); that once I get bored (or have reached a particular time limit) with something I will go do something totally opposite. This means that if I’m doing a lot of computer work—I will go do some chores, or a walk, or play with the dogs; and if I’m doing chores, I’ll take a break and read or just sit and be for a while.

It may not have been perfect this past month in terms of meeting these goals—but this is the last month of 2020, holidays, and lets just say that December 2020 is a month that I’m more than willing to ignore for the rest of time.

I am still going to be using the following quotes as we move into 2021: “Progress over perfection”, “You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one”; and “Not caring what other people think is the best choice you will ever make”.

No Comments AstrologyFull Moon GoalsPandemic2020Personal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

Mid-month updates, semi-reflections, & setting a direction for 2021 & beyond

So we’re now basically halfway through December—there are only sixteen days left in 2020.

Fingers are crossed that 2021 goes a lot smoother than 2020 did—though I know that I shouldn’t just sit back and expect things to work if I don’t’ put the work in as well.

I had big plans for the blog in 2020—I was going to be doing weekly posts on different personal/professional development courses that I was taking, I was going to restart the yearly photography challenge, and I was going to post at least one book review a month.

Needless to say—majority of that didn’t happen. In part because of the pandemic, and I was just too pissed, irritated, and frustrated at the world to be able to write anything coherent. Also because of my mood, I only really finished one e-course program (which I still need to write a review over)—I did several small ones but didn’t really take the greatest notes on them.

I read quite a bit—though most of it was fiction, but again didn’t really take any notes (or highlight anything) to be able to go back and write a book review. In terms of the photography challenge—I started it in September, managed probably a week and a half, was looking at the news a little too often—got pissed, frustrated, and irritated again at the world and quit posting pictures.

I’m hoping to change things back around come 2021—there are two vaccines now approved for emergency use in terms of dealing with the SARS-CoV2 pandemic, though I probably won’t be able to be in line for it until probably late summer or early fall (this means that I won’t be doing any major traveling until sometime in 2022). The US elections went the way I wanted (Biden & Harris won, and will be sworn in as the president and vice-president of the US on Jan 20 2021).

How am I planning on turning things around?

Setting up a fluid schedule that will allow me to move between different projects/subjects with a little more ease and not feel like I’m leaning too much in any particular direction.

Possibly having a weekly (or monthly) theme in terms of major blog posts. I will still be doing my new/full moon goals & reviews, plus my month in review. In addition if I start up the photography challenge again, it may just be the picture with a small blurb under it (I may or may not go to the lengths of trying to do heavy research on the topic—especially if I’ve posted pictures before—I may actually link back to the old posts).

Possibly trying to narrow down what I’m talking about (though currently this thought is giving me a small case of the hives). I’ve realized throughout 2020—I have to keep things varied, and I love to learn—I’m actually making several long lists of topics that I wouldn’t mind diving deep into, but I also need to figure out how to make those topics flow within the overall theme of the blog.

I will also be expanding on various pages, plus adding in other pages as well to the site. Since I notice that when I post pages, people may or may not realize that something has been added to the site—therefore within two to three days after pages are posted, I will post a quick blog update linking to said pages. Currently that will probably be within the bird section of the blog, and possibly the travel section as well.

I also realize that it will probably take awhile to build up a large following, since I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be posting on—it’s hard to answer the question of what will help others, when I’m not even sure what direction(s) I want to be taking the blog.

Suggestions are always welcomed—just remember that all comments are usually initially tagged as spam (depending on your IP address and email), and it is up to my sole discretion then if comments show up on posts or if I delete them.

No Comments Pandemic2020Personal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

Time for reflection, planning, & goal setting: Sagittarius New Moon goals

So the moon will be entering the Sagittarius constellation today, and its last ‘new moon’ phase for 2020. That means there are 18 days left in December and 2020. Truthfully I’m more than ready for the month and the year to be over (but more on that in the month in review post).

So what are some of the things that one can do during the time of Sagittarius new moon?

Looking at the book “Moonology: working with the magic of lunar cycles” by Yasmin Boland, you can:

            Get away—travel.

            Study.

            Search for meaning.

            Laugh.

            Be grateful.

With the moon entering into Sagittarius, this is also my second house or the “cash, property, and values” zone.  Since the world is still in the grasp of the SARS-CoV2 pandemic, the holidays may not shape up the way they do normally for people (I’m actually hoping that people are smart and stay home and have very small gathering for the holidays—set up zoom meetings with family that live far away). I haven’t really been in the holiday spirit the past couple of years—at least not wanting to have a lot of gifts under the tree for myself.

There are several reasons: the main is that hopefully within a year or so I’m going to be moving and I don’t want to be adding any more boxes than what I’m already going to have to add to the ones in my storage unit.

As I’ve mentioned before in numerous posts—I’ve been thinking of working towards a minimalist lifestyle. Luckily the lifestyle can be tailored—as I know I will have quite a few tarot/oracle card decks (one thing that I am trying to limit—but at the same time I love), but will have very few books on the shelves. The books that will be on the shelves will mainly be school textbooks that will be serving as reference books for various posts/courses that I’m also thinking of developing in the future. Anyway, back to the second house—the cash, property, and value zone.

So some of the things that you can do during this time include (again, according to “Moonology: working with the magic of the lunar cycles”):

Start a savings account.

Pay your bills, taxes, debt, etc.

Hire an accountant, if it’s all too much.

Showcase your talents.

Get a neck and shoulder massage.

Invest in an expensive neck cream.

So if I look at the above two lists, there are some items that I can simply check off already—I have a savings account (though it has been used over the past year), and I’m paying my bills, and trying to get my debt down. I would love to travel—but again, we’re in the middle of a pandemic and the holidays. Even if it wasn’t the holidays—travel (especially plane travel) is on hold until I’m able to get the vaccine for the virus and that probably is going to be late summer/early fall 2021 at the earliest. Also—not getting a massage, because hello—pandemic and not wanting to be in close contact with strangers.

With the way the year has started and is ending—I am working on trying to develop a daily gratitude practice, where I write down at least one thing I’m grateful for daily; I’m also trying to find humor in the day (but again with the state of the world—this is a little difficult).

So if I were to make a small goal list for the Sagittarius new moon period, the goals would include:

  1. Develop a ‘fluid’ daily/weekly schedule for getting various things done.
  2. Setting up a goal list for 2021 (working via the larger 150+goals in 2002 days post)
  3. Starting to work through different e-courses (taking notes for future posts)
  4. Setting up a dedicated work station, and a semi-dedicated meditation area in the bedroom

And as always as I head into the last few weeks of December, I am going to remind myself to keep the following phrases/quotes front and center:

“Progress over Perfection”, “You can’t start the next chapter of your life, if you keep reading the last one”, and “Not caring what other people think is the best choice you will ever make”.

While 2020 did NOT go the way I was hoping—it is almost over, and here is to a hopefully joyous and prosperous 2021.

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