Category: spirituality

Revising the 100+ Goal List: 626-Days into the Challenge

Well, I didn’t get around to posting an update on the 500th or 600th day of the challenge. Today (April 6, 2022) marks the 626th day of the challenge (which isn’t quite a third of the way through the challenge).

There has been quite a bit going on between the fourth update (which was roughly around August 23rd of last year) and today.

We’re still dealing with a ‘sick’ pup. Our boxer mix developed a severe reaction to her allergy shot last year—and I do mean severe, she developed hemolytic anemia.

So, the past eight months has been focusing on getting her onto the road to recovery—she’s down to a single med (unless the urinary track infection comes back), and hopefully she’ll be off of that within the next four months.

While she is recovering—the illness has literally taken years off her life, and if we’re lucky we have another two-to-four years (which means she’ll be somewhere between the ages of five and nine when we lose her).

One thing I’ve learned—figure out other ways of dealing with dog’s allergy problems and avoid getting allergy shots at all costs.

We’re still in the middle of the pandemic, and while I know various countries (including the US) are moving towards an ‘endemic’ view—I’ll still be avoiding traveling (at least international) for several more months (possibly looking to travel next spring), until I get my booster shot and the world hopefully mellows.

This decade doesn’t seem to be mellowing out at all—besides the pandemic, we’re a stone toss away from World War 3 breaking out. Russia invaded Ukraine back towards the end of February, and they haven’t left. Personally, I think that all leaders (political and military in Russia) need to be arrested, tried for war crimes and dealt with accordingly.

So, how have I been progressing with the various goals?

Professional development and career: On-going

1. Transition into an industry position (I’ve decided to go in the remote/contract/online direction starting with writing; in addition to slowly trying to start a freelance writing business as well); there will be several posts on this goal

            2. Finish various e-courses that I’ve bought, but in particular:

                        3. Clinical Research Coalition—Finished May 30th 2021

                        4. Medical Writers Organization—need to finish the writing/editing assignments

                        5. Data Scientist Syndicate—Finished September 3rd 2020

                        6. Project Management Consortium

                        7. Management Consulting Firm

                        8. Intellectual Property Pack—Finished June 25th 2021

                        9. Regulatory Affairs Council

                        10. Write Your Way to Freedom

                        11. All other courses—see additional lists in the journal.

                                    I noted how I tried to make a ‘short’ list of additional courses that I would like to have finished in 2021, and then this year (2022) I decided to try to do a BINGO-card style for additional courses. Funny thing—I’ve done several short courses (none of them really on the card). Also will probably hold off on quite a few of the ‘programming’ courses for now

            12. More interacting on Linkedin—Hard to score these, I’m doing the best with #13; though I have started doing my own posts—mainly photographs and quotes; need to start working more on the other 2 (especially the giving/asking for recommendations).

                        13. Sharing articles from various biotech pages, and other science pages

                                    Managing to do this at least two to five days a week for the most part (there are some weeks I don’t share)

                                    The LinkedIn News team has featured two of the shares over the past year

                        14. Commenting on posts

                                    Trying to get better at this.

                        15. Giving/Asking for recommendations—need to start doing

                        16. Start writing my own posts

                                    This is slow going—usually share either a nature photograph or one of my comfort/stretch/risk/die diagrams. The comfort/stretch/risk/die diagrams are usually the ones that get the most views.

                        17. Update my LinkedIn profile to reflect pivot towards writing/copywriting, and strive to have an SSI score of above 65 weekly

            18. Creating monthly/weekly/daily calendars for above goals—trying to get better at the editorial or to-do-list calendars.

            19. Renew professional memberships—Need to pick just one or two currently to renew; can’t do all at once.

Both Personal and Professional Development—still working on all of these

            20. Become fluent in Spanish—Started to use the app Mondly for refreshing my Spanish, though I haven’t been that active with the app for the past month or so. Need to try to spend at least 30-45 minutes two to three days a week on this.

            21. Become fluent in German

            22. Become proficient in French, Norwegian, or Swedish

23. Read at least 300 personal/professional development books; this will include books from my previous attempts at 1001-day challenges as well. I have over 400 books on the list, and I would like to get through at least 100 of them before I keep adding to the list.

I’m aiming to read at least 24-personal/professional development or other non-fiction books during 2022. Currently I’ve read 4, which means that I need to read another twenty books over the next basically eight-and-a-half months. To reach 300, I probably need to read another 210-215 books over the next 1,377 days.

            24. Finish the books on scientific writing

            25. Start building up a portfolio of work (writing/data analysis/plus other ideas)

                        I’ve slowly started doing this—the blog is one part (though currently more creative/reflective and hobby writing), the articles with my own ‘blurbs’ on LinkedIn, and then the volunteer writing I’ve been doing for Medical News Bulletin.

            26. Develop a daily writing habit (tied with several goals below)

            27. Write a letter to my future self

Personal development and hobbies—started a few, but need to also start in on others as well

            28. Paint and frame at least one original painting

            29. More photographyThis is still something that is in progress. I’m trying to get up to Boomer Lake at least once a month, and I could even start trying to do more iPhone photography as well.

                        30. 365-Day Challenge (aim for 365 different pictures)—I haven’t started (or should I say restarted) this yet for 2022. I only managed barely a month last year. My problem has been trying to have 365 different pictures (which is harder than it actually sounds).

                        31. Update photography pages on blog

                                    I’ve combined the photography pages/sections into one section with multiple subsections (birds, and then the other individual pages). I’m slowly working on the research for the various birds that I have pictures of, and am planning on trying to publish a page (plus its accompany blog post) weekly.

            32. Make my own jewelry

            33. Learn to cross-stitch—I’ve completed three abstract pieces, and decided that abstract is currently the way to go—I started, but haven’t finished a fourth that is/was suppose to be natured based).

            34. Get a new sewing machine—On hold; seems getting a sewing machine there is a 50/50 risk that the machine will have problems winding the bobbin

                        35. Make a new quilt (or this may wait until I move)

                        36. Make a set of drapes for the bedroom (for backdrop for any zoom calls)

            37. Start a new afghan (write a post on finishing the other)—need to figure out how to patch the other afghans. I’ve patched one of the two afghans that Chaos chewed a hole in, and am slowly patching the second one (slowly knitting the two or three patches needed).

            38. Show case crafts on blog (possibly a weekly update?)

            39. Start writing a book

            40. Learn Photoshop

            41. Write in journal daily (answer questions/prompts from journaling books and free thought); this has been an on and off endeavor. There are some days/weeks I’m good at writing daily, and then I may go a week or longer without writing in it.

            42. Create my own coffee-table photography book

            43. Learn basic sign language

            44. Start a virtual book club

Finances—still working on these, since I’m taking time off there isn’t a steady paycheck coming in yet.

            45. Create monthly budgets—currently this is just paying off the bills.

            46. Credit card debts down and hopefully paid off monthly—currently this is high, due to pandemic, possible world wars, and me wanting to ‘escape’ reality through reading, playing games, or buying personal/professional development courses; the goal is to have the three high credit cards back down to ‘reasonable’ no later than Feb or March of next year

            47. Declutter the house (way of earning extra cash)

            48. Savings account up another 20K (hopefully)—this will be tied in with previous goals, and any other ways of trying to earn a little extra cash.

            49. Talk with financial person about short-term investment possibilities

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

            51. Finish the various financial e-courses, and decide when/how to start investing

Fitness & Health—On going

            52. Get into the best shape of my life

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

            54.  Hold a two-minute forearm plank

            55.  Hold a 90 second plank

            56.  Meditate nightly—though sometimes it is only for a minute or two. Trying to increase the timing.

            57.  60-80 oz of water a day; this has been more likely 40-60 oz of water daily and sometimes up to 80 oz

            58.  Stretch daily; I do try to stretch nightly, and in the mornings before getting out of bed.

            59. Get at least 10,010,000 steps (breaks down to 5K/day)—on my way; I’ve managed to hit all month goals (and surpass slightly).

Blog and Social Media–Ongoing

            60.  Finish YouTube for bosses course

            61.  Finish YouTube course creation for bosses course

            62.  Launch a YouTube channel

            63. Launch an online course

            64. Get blog traffic to 500+ views a day—While I’ve been doing okay for monthly views (2022 has been ~440-~640 views between January and March), I still need to work on getting the number of daily views up.

            65. Rebrand the blog/website—basically need to work on developing a personal/professional ‘brand’ as everyone is basically a business of ‘one’ (even if they’re working for a company

            66. Get Instagram followers to constant 800+

            67. Get pintrest followers to constant 400+

            68. Get twitter followers to constant 1000+

            69. Publish at least two blog series—this will be started hopefully by summer; I’m thinking that the ‘series’ will be something that is posted weekly on the same day (so I’ll probably have a ‘nature/photography’ series going, a ‘throwback-travel/photography’ series, and then start a set of science series (a topic that is covered for say a month or two before going onto another topic)

            70.  Editorial calendars (monthly/weekly/daily)

                        71. Blog

                        72. Instagram

                        73. Facebook pages

                        74. Twitter

                        75. Pintrest

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

            77. Various top 10 author lists

            78. Various top 10 book series lists

            79. Launch a podcast

Spirituality–Ongoing

            80. Full/New Moon Goals—I’ve been managing to keep up with these posts, though I may not actually meet all the goals that I set for each period, I’ve at least posted for each one throughout the year so far

            81. Create my own altar (wicca/pagan)—This has been accomplished somewhat, as the current altar is on a bookshelf, so it looks fairly crowded.

            82. Weekly (or daily) tarot/oracle card readings—Have been managing to do this (more or less), though I haven’t shared any of the readings on social media yet.

            83. 15 minutes outdoors in the morning (coffee only) weather permitting; Hopefully can start this up within the next couple of weeks as we’re heading into spring, and morning temps should hopefully be above 50

Others–ongoing

            84. Keep at least 3 plants alive—I’ve managed to ‘root’ and replant several cutting from our dumb cane plants, so I guess that could count as keeping plants alive. I need to repot the cuttings of another plant, and then have it outdoors for the summer. I’m also thinking of possibly looking around and getting a succulent or two for the bedroom

            85. Design a science based board game

            86. Create and update digital vision board—I have a digital vision board (it’s the background on the computer; I just need to start updating it to fit my ‘newer’ vision of what I’m working towards

            87. Reorganize my storage unit

            88. Put in at least one flower garden around the house (backyard, and/or front yard)—I’m hoping to get to this over the next few weeks. The front garden needs quite a bit of TLC, and I’d like to try to put in a garden in the backyard, or at least ‘transplant’ some of the groundcover to a new area.

            89. Start downsizing clothes and creating different “minimum” wardrobes (work/professional/casual; home/casual/working out)—need to look and see if there are any non-profits that are taking clothes for donations for Ukraine, and if so how to get them the clothes (I have numerous shirts that can be donated)

            90. Develop at least 30 different 30-day challenges. I’ve lowered the number of days for this challenge, but some of the challenges will include (some ideas taken from the book: “The 30-Day Challenge Book: 500 ideas to inspire your life” by Clare Hudson): Also any of these could also last longer than 30 days

                        One challenge will be 30 days of iPhone Photography

                        Restart an oracle card challenge (at least in terms of ‘sharing’ the picture on Instagram—possibly do it for only 30 days (say three cards per deck)

                        30 days of doodling

                        30 days of coloring in coloring books

                        30 days of mind maps

                        Dance ten-minutes every day

                        Make rubbings of interesting surfaces & textures

                        Film progress of 30-day challenge

                        Learn about politics

                        Learn about a new country a day

                        Research prominent women throughout history

                        Learn economics

                        Pick a subject you’re interested in & develop really niche knowledge within that subject

                        Do a Sudoku or crossword puzzle daily

Goals on hold due to the global coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) outbreak (either because they require traveling, going into a large store, and/or being around large groups of people):

91. Go to at least 1 scientific conference

                        92. Present at a scientific conference

            93. Go to at least 2 professional networking events

            94. Visit at least 3 new countries

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

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

            97. Visit at least one new zoo

            98. Visit at least one new aquarium

            99. Fly out and/or land at 3 new (to me) airports

            100. Visit at least one new city

            101. Visit at least one new state

            102. See the northern lights

            103. Attend at least one blogging conference

            104. Attend at least one author-reader conference

            105. Swim with whale sharks

            106. Parasailing

Once I move:

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

            108. New couch & chair for living room

            109. New dresser for bedroom

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

            111. New TV & stand

            112. New desk/craft workstation

So, while I haven’t cancelled my Beachbody-on-Demand membership yet—I removed all those goals, because I will be cancelling it fairly soon. While I enjoy doing Beachbody workouts (and really do like the ‘live’ classes)—I prefer the DVDs, so that I don’t have to worry on whether or not the WiFi is working well or not; in addition as I’m working on improving my relationship with both food and movement—I rather not be hearing about Shakeology, the supplements, or any of the ‘nutrition’ programs. I will still do ‘Beachbody’ workouts—but only those that I have DVDs for (and still work with the DVD player).

The total number of goals has fallen from 156 to 112—in part due to the removal of the various Beachbody programs, but also the removal of all the different shows I’d though of binge watching via amazon prime or Netflix or Hulu. In addition, various other goals were removed from the list as well. While I’d mentioned the possibility of adding in personal/professional development programs to keep the list ‘long’—I’m happy with it slowly falling towards the ‘original’ number of 101.

I know where I need to focus: time/project management in order to get various things off the ground and sharing a cohesive look. Since I want to pivot in the freelance/remote/online/contract direction for writing—I need to have different pieces (aside from blog posts) to showcase my abilities. Therefore, I will also be writing ‘longer’ pieces that will have a smaller blog post connect to it (‘longer’ piece may also be a ‘landing’ page of sorts).

I have at least three ideas bouncing around in my head for longer pieces, though they’re not specifically ‘medical’ topics—they are science topics (I’m still thinking on the medical topics).

Therefore, one focus over the next few weeks needs to be creating the ‘editorial’ calendar for various sites. I realized the main reason why I ‘fail’ at using the editorial calendar—I put way too much stuff on it, and don’t give myself ample time to write/edit and create images before I want to post something. This is why majority of the posts the blog have been creative/reflective—it doesn’t take much time to write (more time is spent on basic edits).

It has been suggested that I have at least six-to-eight short to medium length pieces written and saved for the weeks that I’m behind schedule. That way, it may not fit the ‘theme’ I’d been going with—but I would have a science, or nature, or travel post ready to go for that week.

I’m getting there in terms of the nature pages/posts—I have four bird pages in the editing stage, and once I have the accompany blog posts done—that is a month’s worth of posts ready to go (at one per week).

The science/medical, health/wellness, and travel posts will take a little longer—science/medical, and health/wellness more so than the travel, especially once I move into different topics (such as GMOs, biofuels, vaccines, cells, cellular pathways, clinical trials, oncology, and so forth).

One thing that may change at some point this year is the web address (becomingjessi) for the blog/website. While it is worked as I was figuring out what I wanted to do, since I have an idea (freelance/remote/contract/online writing/copywriting), I think the web address will be changed (still bouncing between a couple of options), to reflect the additional writing I will be taking on and/or offering.

I’m still doing the volunteer writing position, and approximately half of the articles that I’ve submitted have been published on their site (so that is another little addition to my writing portfolio; though they own the ‘rights’ to the pieces).

Several of those have been short blurbs on different studies that have come out on different health topics (several relating to the SARS-CoV2 virus), so that may be another thing I do on the blog—short blurbs of different papers/studies that I’ve read (or are reading). I’m also thinking of doing slide decks (now the ‘fancy’ name for PowerPoint presentations) as well. That was actually the ‘writing’ assignment for a job application last fall, and I realized where I messed up—so now I need to practice doing it ‘correctly’ (or as correct as I think I’m doing it).

So, over the next seventy-odd days I’m planning on starting to do more writing (hopefully getting enough drafts written and edited that I have possibly at least six weeks worth of posts), start trying to create slide decks and other inforgraphics, work through at least two modules of the Write Your Way to Freedom course, revamp my resume and LinkedIn profile.  In other words—attempt to create and follow a schedule that will let me do multiple things at once and embrace my mixed-styled multipontialite personality and my strengths.

Have you done the 101 Goals in 1001-Day Challenge? If so–how many goals did you manage to get finished, and what did you learn about yourself in the process?

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Updating the personal/professional development plan: reflections on the bounce zone

It has been roughly a year since I drew my first comfort/stretch/risk/die diagram.

Original comfort diagram that I drew mid-Feb 2021

It was an ‘assignment’ that I was given when after talking with a coach–it became obvious that I was floundering on trying to decide what I wanted to do with my life (since I’d decided to take time to actually try to answer that question)…

I decided that the diagram was going to encompass both personal and professional goals, thoughts, and ideas–mainly because I knew if I didn’t have some more ‘creative’ ideas down, I would spend way too much time wallowing in the analytical side of my brain.

The above diagram had roughly seventy-seven items within the four zones: 13 items in the comfort zone, 35 within the stretch zone, 17 within the risk zone and 12 within the die zone.

Over the past year, I also added in the ‘bounce’ zone–as I haven’t/hadn’t developed the ‘confidence’ to state that there were more activities that I felt ‘comfortable’ doing on a day-to-day (or even week-to-week or month-to-month) basis. I was starting to enjoy the activities, but still hadn’t/haven’t figured out the best ‘schedule’ for them to become ‘comfortable’ tasks.

Over the past week or so, I drew another one to see how far I’d come over the past year:

Latest Comfort diagram–Feb 2022

The comfort zone has slightly increased, the bounce zone is present, the stretch zone has ‘shrunk’, and the risk and die zones are holding steady.

While some things have ‘changed’–I also realized that I’ve also become slightly ‘stagnant’ as well. What became ‘stagnant’ is the fact that I wasn’t trying to push the boundaries of teh comfort, bounce, or stretch zones the past few months.

Therefore, I’m working on a plan to change that, with the ultimate goal of expanding the comfort and bounce zones.

How am I going to do that? Well, I decided it would be a combination of picking things from the comfort, bounce, stretch and risk zones and also incorporating things from my personal/professional development board game, and came up with the following list:

  1. Work several different ‘comfort’ tasks into the daily/weekly schedule (so that they don’t fall back into the ‘stretch’ zone), and they include: cross-stitching, meditation, reading (also work on expanding the genera), cooking, gardening, photography, and being outdoors.
  2. I decided to roll the dice last week (for the first time in awhile) for my my personal/professional development board game and came up with the following items:
    1. Start learning python coding
    2. Review genomics (though I’m going to include transcriptomes, proteomes, and metabolomes)–should have called the square ‘review -omics’
    3. Review statistics
    4. Landscape design (funny that I rolled this, as I’d already picked it out of the ‘bounce’ zone as something to work on this spring)
    5. Business development
    6. Public health
    7. ‘Rock Art of the American Southwest’
    8. Ancient India
    9. Ancient China
    10. Reading; while I rolled a ‘list’ of books to read–I will probably just go with whatever catches my attention
  3. Work on content development in the following areas:
    1. copywriting
    2. Blogging (science/medical education/communication; health/wellness; personal/professional development; hobbies/crafts, and travel)
    3. Science writing (‘short’ blog posts [~500-1000 words], ‘longer’ articles [~1000-2500 words], and ‘reviews’ [~2500-5000+ words])
    4. Creative writing (short stories, poetry, and so forth)
  4. Spirituality and Oracle cards
  5. Doodling and drawing
  6. Personal/professional brand development/management
  7. Refresh a foreign language
  8. Project management

Obviously I can’t do all of this at the same time—well I could, but I like sleeping too much…The end goals include: stretching my comfort zone, overcoming the writers block, transitioning into that first remote writing/data analysis position, and rediscovering who I am and what I really want to be doing with my life.

Content development and project management can be tied in with all the other items on the list–and actually that has been one of the ‘bigger bottlenecks’ lately–writing. I’ve started at the screen more times than I want to admit, and I’ve stared at various science news emails more times that I want to admit over the past month or so–and have barely written a word. I haven’t shared an news article for probably two week (prior to today), and that wasn’t because I didn’t want to–but because the words didn’t wan to come…not hte greatest feeling when one is thinking of pivoting into a writing (and deadline) intensive direction…

I created a ‘brain-dump’ (or brainstorming list) of ideas for the three different niches I’m thinking of writing within:

‘Brain-dump’ or brainstorming list of topics to write/blog about

You might notice that the ‘list’ is longer within the science/medical subsection–and that is because that is my background. I have my PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology, and have spent basically two decades working within higher education research, and have at least an understanding of various fields.

The other two areas aren’t as ‘filled-out’, but as I continue to brainstorm ideas, or even look within one or two of the selections–I’m pretty certain I’ll be able to come up with more ideas to write about.

One of the fundamental questions that one is suppose to answer when thinking of blogging, copywriting, or even writing–is who is your audience? What question(s)/problem(s) are you wanting to help answer/solve?

I think that for me one of those answers is trying to improve science communication between the general public and the scientific community, and also trying to improve science education as well. None of the topics are inherently difficult–but can be considered difficult if they’re not explained properly and limiting the amount of scientific jargon one uses.

As Albert Einstein said: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it enough”.

Therefore, I’m going to be ‘diving’ into research for numerous topics, as I have a ‘basic’ understanding, but I also know that I don’t know certain areas well enough to explain them in simple terms.

I’m aiming to start having monthly (then working up to biweekly) blog posts on different science subjects, adding in a new bird photography page (biweekly, if not weekly) with an accompany blog post, and also a monthly ‘throwback travel’ page with its accompany blog post–this will be in addition to the different goals setting posts that I do monthly and any book reviews that I post as well. My aim–is to expand the comfort zone to include writing, blogging, and copywriting by the end of the summer.

What is something you could work on to move it from your stretch zone to your comfort zone?

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Aquarius goals: fleshing out future goals & sorting digital files

So the moon will be entered the Aquarius constellation either last night or Sunday night (depending on where you are in the world). This entrance into the Aquarius constellation marks the second new moon of 2022. We’ve made it through the first 32 days of 2022—and I’m not sure if 2022 is going to be a repeat of 2021, slightly better or slightly worse, I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Looking at “Moonology: Working with the Magic of Lunar Cycles” by Yasmin Boland, there are again several things that one can do during this period:

  1. Detach ourselves from things that are no longer serving us.
  2. Be true to ourselves
  3. Be inventive
  4. Be charitable
  5. Be social

Well, I’m still self-isolating this spring–mainly due to the omicron variants of the virus (all of which seem to be even more contagious than the delta varaint), and the simple fact that I’d rather not catch the damn thing.

I’m also slowly working on detaching myself from things that no longer serve me–mainly the negative self-talk and stories, plus continuing to work on detaching myself frmo the diet mentality and all that associated baggage.

I’m also working on being true to myself–in terms of spiritual health, career direction, and other things. This also ties in with being ‘inventive’–as I’m trying to ‘invent’ my own career path.

Then I turn to see what zone (or house) the moon is moving into in regards to everything. Remember there are basically three ways to determine which house/zone the moon is in for any new/full moon: your star sign, your rising sign, and your moon sign. I usually go with my rising sign, which is Scorpio.

So this means that the moon is entering into my fourth house, or the home and family zone. So this can also be a time when one can spend cleaning (getting rid of things), possibly moving, and spending more time with family. So there are several suggestions from “Moonology” on what one can do during this time:

  1. Have a garage sale
  2. Hug your parents
  3. Sort out your photo albums/digital photo files
  4. Invite friends over
  5. Renovate or redecorate so you’re more comfortable at home
  6. Sell your home and/or change locations or even countries
  7. Ask your grandparents about your family’s history

So, there are several things from the above list for my fourth house that probably aren’t going to be happening this year:

  1. Hugging my parents–we’re not really the overly affectionate type of family. We hug–but since we see each other daily–hugs dont’ happen all that often
  2. Inviting friends over–hello, we’re still in the middle of a pandemic; if I’m going to be meeting up with friends, I’d prefer a ‘neutral’ location that neither of us has to clean
  3. Both sets of grandparents are deceased, but we do have some family history from my father’s side (my grandfather had started putting together a family tree), and I have a letter he wrote me back in the late 1990s that talked about life during the Depression, ‘Dirty Thirties’, and fighting in World War II.
  4. No garage sale–because, again we’re in the middle of a pandemic
  5. No selling or relocation–again pandemic, plus my parents own the house, and I’m still working on figuring out the whole freelance and/or remote working gig here

The two things I could focus on:

Sorting all my digital photos (since probably half the computer memory is going towards pictures) and semi-rearranging/redecorating my bedroom.

Therefore if I were to make a list of goals for the Aquarius new moon, they would include:

Sorting and editing the large amount of digital photos on the computer

Going through and sorting the large number of clothes and deciding what I want to keep and what I’m willing to part with

Setting up an area for reading oracle/tarot cards

Continuing to work on my three-to-five/ten year vision/plan

Continuing to develop my personal/professional brand

Finally remembering that no matter how slow I may need to go, this year will be a year of growth, creativity, and curiosity that will lead to happiness and prosperity.

What are a few of your goals for this new moon?

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Looking back at January of 2022: Reading goals on track, others are lagging

So, we’re officially a month into 2022—January has somehow come and went. I’d like to say that I’m going to be even more productive than last year—and I know I will be more productive, but how much more—well that is the question.

I feel like January has been a ‘tester’ month. I started out with large plans, and then the inner critic came out and tossed them all into the wind. I’m realizing that I need to find a ‘harmony’ if you will with my inner critic—a time when I’m more than willing to say ‘I’m done’ for the day, and a time when I politely tell my inner critic that there is still work to be done before playing ‘hokey’.

So, we’re now about six weeks shy of starting year three of the pandemic (the US started shutting things down roughly mid-March 2020), and I’m scared that we’re starting to ‘normalize’ this damn virus and all its variants. In terms of the total number of cases of the virus within the US, when I published ‘December in Review’ on January 1st, I noted that we had reached almost 55.7 million cases and now as of January 31st—we have reached a little over 76.2 million cases (that is 20 million cases in a month). The numbers are going up due to the omicron variant that is more contagious than the previous variants (and doesn’t seem to care if one has had their vaccine and booster shots or not).

Its looking like the younger kids (under the age of five) could be eligible for vaccines come as early as March or April—that means if everyone does their part, we may just be able to see the end of the pandemic within a year or so. Because, as I mentioned last month—the only way this pandemic is going to get under control is vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate, and also listening to those who have decades of experience working with infectious diseases.

I managed to get several posts published on the blog/website during January—but I didn’t get to updating/modifying the last set of pages I’ve been needing to—again the inner critic won that round of ‘battles’. I’d mentioned that I’d removed the games I’d been playing on the kindle at the end of December—only to re-download and overplay them again this month. I deleted them from both the kindle and my amazon cloud today—so there is won’t be giving into any urge to download to play occasionally.

But before I can look ahead to setting goals for February, I need to look back at the goals I set for January and how I did with each of them.

The goals for January included:

  1. 130-155,000 steps
  2. Continue with a second round of Morning Meltdown 100 (may only be M-F)
  3. Read at least one non-fiction book from my 2022 non-fiction book BINGO card
  4. Continue setting up my ‘master’ plan for 2022-2025 (and beyond)
  5. Read two to four (if not more) fiction books (and write mini-book reviews to be posted on the blog and other sites)
  6. No spend days/no spend weeks/ Limited spending week
  7. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, and daily oracle card drawings
  8. Craft time
  9. Continue working on updating the blog/website
  10. Assignments for the diamond group
  11. Work through at least one module of a personal/professional development course from my 2022 e-course BINGO card

So how did I do with each of them?

130-155,000 steps: I managed to get a little over 144,000 steps (144,123 steps or 58.91 miles to be exact). There was a walk at Boomer Lake, and a walk with Chaos through the neighborhood this month. I would have preferred to surpass the 155K steps—but I didn’t, though I did get past the bare minimum number of steps.

Continuing with a second round of Morning Meltdown 100: This didn’t really happen. I started it back up at the beginning of the month, but just didn’t feel like pushing play daily. I’ve realized that this is a ‘theme’ at times for me—I complete a program, decide to repeat it and then fizzle for a while before I actually manage to repeat the program (happened with LIIFT4).

Currently I’m thinking of just putting on music and lifting weights three to four times a week, streaming a yoga/Pilates/cardio workout once or twice a week, and then trying to get in a walk on the other day of the week. We’ll have to see how this plan goes.

Read at least one non-fiction book from my 2022 non-fiction BINGO card:

I managed to finish reading the following books:

‘Work Quilting’ by Vicki Walton

‘Girl, Take Back Your Career’ by Solange Lope

I’m now bouncing between several other non-fiction books (like I usually do), though some of them aren’t currently on the 2022 non-fiction BINGO card.

Continuing setting up my ‘master’ plan for 2022-2025 (and beyond):

I mentioned in my Capricorn New Moon goal review post that I’d let my imposter syndrome/inner critic derail me for a good portion of the month, so this was one of the goals that fell by the wayside.

Read two to four (if not more) fiction books:

I managed to read quite a few fiction books this month, though I only wrote and posted mini-book reviews for two of them.

The ‘new’ books I read during January included:

Dusk Unveiled (Ravenwood Coven #2) by Carrie Ann Ryan (book review posted)

Nothing But Ink (Montgomery Ink: Fort Collins #3.5) by Carrie Ann Ryan (book review posted)

The following books by Michele Miller:

From the Wreckage

Out of Ruins

All That Remains

West: Male POV

Into the Fire

After the Fall

Until We Crash

The entire Maverick Billionaire series by Bella Andre and Jennifer Skully; the seventh was just released and I went back and read the first six that I’d bought over the years.

Inked Fantasy by Carrie Ann Ryan

In addition to several ‘re-reads’, that I decided I didn’t need to list out, but I am keeping track of in a spreadsheet so that I can include them in my end-of-the-year total.

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

Nope—January was a bad month in terms of spending. I did delete various games again from the kindle, and then went ahead and deleted them from the ‘cloud’ as well. Hopefully this will help me really curb the impulsive spending.

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

There was some time spent outdoors this month. With the temperatures bouncing back and forth—there were days spent sitting outdoors, while the next day I barely stepped foot outside.

Mediation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, and daily oracle drawings only happened really for the first half of the month, and then inner critic/imposter syndrome derailed me.

Craft time:

I did a little crafting throughout the month (some photography, and color by number). I’m going to try to start another abstract cross-stitch project this coming month as a way of switching things up.

Continue working on updating the blog/website:

Nope. I only managed to post nine blog posts last month, though there was a decent amount of traffic to the page (at least according to wordpress analytics). This will probably be yet another goal for the next two or three months (as I don’t see me getting all the pages I needed redone done in just a couple of weeks).

Assignments for the diamond group:

This has been slightly slow going—remember the saying ‘you are your own worse enemy?’—Well that has been me. I’ve been getting in my own way on a lot of the assignments. I’m slowly working through the mindset/reflective questions (and am thinking that at least one or two of them may become a slightly longer ‘essay’).

There is still another month or so of the group—and I’m aiming to transition by the end of the summer (or at least then find a part time job possibly on campus since I’ll be really tight on funds by then).

Work through at least one module of a personal/professional development course from my 2022 e-course BINGO card:

I’m working through two of the courses on the BINGO card:

Write Your Way to Freedom (a course on becoming a freelance copywriter), and How to work for yourself (an course on Udemy talking about freelancing/side-hustle)

But I did finish watching two other short ‘courses’ on Skill Share:

Productivity Basics: How to become more productive in 4 steps

Personal and Lifestyle Branding: Building your story

It is slightly funny how I started the month with big plans to be highly productive (and even watched a small course on it)—and ended the month being somewhat unproductive.

While I wasn’t perfect with all the goals (and some I wasn’t even in the ballpark of being ‘okay’ with)—acknowledging those mistakes are progress in and of themselves.

I’ve deleted all the games on the kindle that I would spend way too many hours and way too much money on playing. While I bought quite a few books this past month—I read most of them (at least most of the fiction books I’d bought). I’ve also realized that I do get antsy during the day (at times), and that I really do need to find a variety of recipes for protein-rich breakfasts (since I’m pretty certain I’m not getting nearly as much protein as I should be getting).

I’m still debating on whether or not to do the monthly spending challenge updates (especially in light of how much I spent this month)—but it is a way of keeping myself accountable.

So, January wasn’t the ‘perfect’ month—but I’m not aiming for perfection, I’m aiming for progress, and progress was made.

I read two non-fiction books, and have started several others (and I’m over halfway through one of those), I watched two short courses, and spent part of the time earlier this month working through a couple of other courses.

I deleted the games (not just from the kindle, but from the amazon cloud as well)—that means I have to ‘search’ for them if I want to download them again, and not to mention having to ‘start’ from the beginning.

The goal is still to ‘change’ this year—getting a remote position, starting the freelance side-gig, and everything else that I want to be trying to do—I’m not going to let ‘Pam’ stop me, she may slow me down quite a bit—but I’m going to keep moving forward.

Therefore the goals for February will include:

  1. 120-140,000 steps
  2. Daily Intentional Movements (walks, chores, lifting weights, yoga, and so forth)
  3. Read at least one non-fiction book (preferably from the BINGO card, but not required)
  4. Read at least two-to-four fiction books (and have mini book reviews posted on the blog and other sites)
  5. No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month
  6. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, and daily oracle card drawings
  7. Daily craft time
  8. Work through at least one module of a personal/professional development e-course on the 2022 e-course BINGO card

In addition to the above goals—I’m also going to work on improving my time and project management skills as well (as being better at both will help me reach the above goals and all other goals as well).

While I may have ‘missed’ a few goals (or at least completed ‘half’)—I still made progress. Knowing that I was sabotaging myself, and how I was doing it—half the battle, the other half is determining how to ‘fix’ the sabotaging problems so that I am productive as I go forward.

What are some of your favorite time/project management tips or tricks?

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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

A New Year and Moon, but similar goals: Capricorn goal setting

So the moon entered the Capricorn constellation over the weekend (either Saturday or Sunday night). In addition to being the first new moon of the year, it is also the first super new moon of the year.

I managed to set and post my goals for both the new and full moon each month last year (a couple were a day or so late—but they were posted), and I usually managed to accomplish at least two-fifths of each series of goals.

So, back to the first new moon of the year, which happened last night (and I’m a few hours late in posting—but still within the new moon phase). The moon is moving through the Capricorn constellation, and according to “Moonlogy: Working with the magic of lunar cycles” by Yasmin Boland, there are several things that one can do during this time:

  1. Plan for the next year
  2. Be ambitious with your plans for the next year (or few years)
  3. Be kind (to both yourself and others)
  4. Cede control (don’t micromanage or manipulate others)
  5. Establish traditions (also work on your reputation (both personal and professional)

What is nice about life under the Capricorn constellation—all items listed above can be accomplished without having to be in ‘crowds’ (since we’re probably going to be entering year three of the pandemic in a few months).

There is another aspect of the moon cycles—and that is the zone (which is associated with your signs [there are your star, rising, and moon signs]). I usually do all my predictions using my rising sign: Scorpio, though I could do it with my star sign (which is Virgo), or even my moon sign (which is Pisces). Just like the constellations, we pass through each zone twice each year (once for the new moon and once for the full moon).

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

  1. Take a public speaking course
  2. Read the books you’ve got stacked up
  3. Take a short trip
  4. Hang out with your siblings
  5. Study a foreign language
  6. Really listen to others
  7. Write those letters you’ve been putting off

So looking at the above lists—since we’re still currently in the middle of a pandemic, there are a few things that won’t be happening:

  1. Hanging out with my siblings (though my younger brother does stop in quite often since he moved back to town)
  2. Taking a short trip. While I’m vaccinated (and will be getting my booster shot within the next few weeks), I’m not traveling becasue it isn’t essential for me to travel (and I currently don’t want to, since I don’t trust a good portion of the population)

So if I were to try to combine the two lists into a short goal list for the Capricorn New Moon, I would say that my goals will include:

  1. Working on developing my vision of where I would like to be in three-to-five years in regards to remote/contract/online freelance writing/blogging. In the same note, I also know that I will need to write out very specific goals/milestones that will help me achieve said vision.
  2. Read at least one non-fiction book from my 2022 non-fiction BINGO card
  3. Finish at least one module of a personal/professional development course from my 2022 e-course BINGO card
  4. Start refreshing my Spanish again using the app Mondly
  5. Continue developing my mindfulness/self-care routines to help me deal with my anxiety and other issues

While I have an idea of my future (remote/contract/online medical/science writing that will become a freelance medical/science writing business along with blogging), I will need to figure out the best schedule for showcasing my medical/science writing talents on the blog (in addition to finish reworking/rebranding the blog and various other social media sites).

The biggest hurdle is actually going to be the writing—researching various science topics is fairly easy (as long as I don’t fall down the rabbit hole of investigation), but its making sure that I’m writing for a general population and not the scientific community. Therefore, I’m hoping to have at least one ‘science’ blog post per month. I thought of going back to the science news cap pieces and I may do that as well (just picking two or three pieces to recap instead of five to ten).

We’re on a new year—which means new goals, new directions, and almost new everything—but it also means getting rid of what no longer works. For me that means letting go of the negative talk, the self-doubt, and starting to ‘tame’ the inner critic/imposter syndrome (‘Pam’).

I’m also going to be keeping the same words for guidance into and through 2022 as well: growth, creativity, curiosity, happiness, and prosperity.

What word (or words) have you chosen for 2022?

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Progress made on nutrition/movement and acknowledging inner critic

It’s already December, and the moon will be transitioning through another new moon phase this weekend. That means there will be less than thirty days left in 2021—where did the time go this year? Last year seemed to drag, and this year some months seem to have flown by. I’m hoping that come 2022, the ‘richer’ countries will start donating vaccines by the millions to the lower income countries, so that maybe we can get this damn pandemic under control.

So before looking ahead to the next new moon (which will be Sagittarius new moon), I should look back at the goals I set for the Scorpio new moon and see how I did with each of them.

The goals that I set for the Scorpio new moon included:

  1. Continue working on healing my relationship with food and movement.
  2. Continue with my evening meditations/sitting quietly for at least five minutes
  3. Start working through the complete personal finance course that I bought on Udemy
  4. Continue working through the Write Your Way to Freedom copywriting course

So how did I do with each of them?

I’m still working on mending/healing my relationship with food and movement. I’ve started a second round of Morning Meltdown 100 and will be pairing it with walking (so there may be days when I’m not pushing ‘play’, but instead took a two-hour nature walk). I’m still working on getting more protein in during the day (and I do realize that I feel better on the days that I have my yogurt or cottage cheese for snacks). Still working on drinking more water during the day (I did buy a gallon water jug and now am working at actually trying to drink that much water during the day; currently it takes me about four to six days to drink that much water), getting more fruits and veggies in during the day as well.

While the Wi-Fi issues were resolved, I didn’t do much computer work this past month. Mainly—I let my inner critic/imposter syndrome win a couple of internal arguments that I didn’t realize I was having with myself. Therefore I didn’t make any progress on the personal finance or copywriting course.

I need to expand the time for my sitting quietly/meditation in the evenings. This past month, it was more just sitting quietly—I didn’t feel like lighting the candles and actually trying to meditate, though that is something that I’m going to be working on going forward.

Minor progress was made on goals (I’d say about thirty to forty percent), but huge progress was made in realizing where I was tripping myself up at this past month. If I actually acknowledge the feelings (namely anxiety), I can figure out ways of working through the panic/anxiety attacks and still be productive—instead of trying to ‘put my head in the sand’ and ignoring the bigger issues.

My plan now is when I’m realizing that I’m having a panic/anxiety attack–I will shut down (or at least put to sleep) the computer and just writing things out by hand. Tonight for example–I’ll be doing my monthly ‘brain dump’ after I done here, along with figuring out my December goals (two things I should have done earlier this week).

I’ve also realized that the anxiety/panic attacks are caused by me overthinking and making things a lot more complicated than they really need to be–so progress is being made.

So, now it will be time to focus on goals and brain dumps for the night, a nature walk tomorrow morning, Sagittarius goal planning tomorrow afternoon, and working on a couple of writing assignments this weekend as well.

Do you try to get out into nature to help cure anxiety/panic attacks??

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Acknowledging the slips in progress is progress: November in Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The goals for November included:

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

So how did I do with each of them?

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

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

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

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

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

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

The goals for December shall include:

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

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

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

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

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

Have you named your inner critic/imposter syndrome?

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

Using the comfort diagram to expand one of the niches

It’s been roughly nine months since I was ‘assigned’ my first comfort diagram to draw.

Original Comfort Diagram

Over the past nine months (and truthfully, longer than that–I’d say the past five to six years), I’ve been doing quite a bit of personal reflection/self-assessment to try to figure out what it is I want to be doing with my life.

Research at the bench will always hold a special place–it was my longest ‘running’ job: undergraduate lab tech, graduate student, two-postdoctoral positions, and two staff scientist positions.

It just isn’t want I want to be doing with the rest of my life–maybe due to burnout, boredom, growing tired of funding issues, or a combination of all of the above.

The past year and half since the pandemic start has been a reflection and recovery period.

Latest Comfort Diagram

I’m slowly rediscovering my love of learning, doing crafts, thinking outside the box, and not rushing around constantly.

The second comfort diagram has come a long way from the first.

The bounce zone was added, things have been moved around, other things have been added (intuitive eating and interior design for example), and the comfort, bounce, and stretch zones have all grown–while the risk zone is slowly shrinking.

I’ve explored several different job directions over the past year (medical writing, data analysis, clinical research, and intellectual property), and while all are interesting–I also realize that I need to select one (or two) directions to focus on to begin with.

I’ve decided to focus on science/medical writing/communication to begin with, knowing that it can cover clinical research (and possibly even intellectual property), and I can always add in data analysis at some point.

I also know that I should be trying to focus on one or two areas in terms of my ‘expertise’ in science/medical writing/communications. Truth, be told–I’m finding it more difficult to decide on these two areas, than I did on trying to narrow down what type of industry positions I wanted to initially investigate.

Mind-mapping is a wonderful tool, especially when trying to see how things fit together.

My ‘what interests’ me in science mind-map

As I was drawing the mind map, I felt like most items could branch off of either molecular biology or cellular biology. I also felt like those two areas were connected by the ‘central dogma of biology’.

I have expertise in several areas of molecular biology: molecular cloning, recombinant protein expression and purification, sequencing, and construction of libraries for high-throughput sequencing.

Luckily, I know that I can add or switch my ‘focus’ area as I progress as a science/medical writer–meaning I don’t have to strictly write about microbiology or botany forever.

Therefore, I will probably start with the ‘expertise’ areas (if nothing else–I’m thinking of creating longer posts or a self-published short e-book giving troubleshooting tips for one or more of the topics), and possibly pick areas of oncology and neuroscience to begin with.

These two subject areas will still allow me to look at the cell cycle, signal transduction pathways, epigenetics, metabolism, and even the ‘program’ cell death pathways as well.

Though within oncology, I may need to narrow the field and decide which cancer(s) I’m going to focus on (since there are literally over fifty different ‘types’ of cancers). Neuroscience and its related diseases are smaller in number compared to cancer.

What question(s) do you have in regards to oncology (the study of cancers) or neuroscience, that you would like me to answer in a future post?

No Comments careerHealthLifestyle ChallengesPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflectionsspiritualityUpdates

Review of the start of the fourth quarter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The goals for October included:

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

So how did I do with each of them?

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

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

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

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

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

So my goals for November will include:

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

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

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

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

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

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