Category: travel

Another attempt on 101 goals in 1001-days, with 44 things to do before turning 44

I’ve tried several time since 2018 in doing a 101 goals in 1001-day challenge. I’ve even tried to expand it to 100+ goals in 2002-days. My problem has always been the same: I make the list, and then I only occasionally look at it again to see how I’m doing in terms of the goals—and some of the goals never seemed to feel like ‘mine’. They felt like goals I should put down because they’re ones that ‘society’ deems acceptable.

Last year I also tried to a ’43 things to do before turning 43’ list of goals. The problem: I made that list/goal idea during a really rough time—my mother was still in the hospital, and I thought making a ‘smaller’ list of goals and a ‘tighter’ window would result in the goals being accomplished.

I did manage to accomplish about 44% of the goals that I set last year—as I counted even semi-accomplished (or started) goals in the ‘check’ category. Ones I did start or attempt were considered ‘not done’.

So, I’m three weeks and a few days late in posting this particular post—it is a combination of a new 101 goals in 1001 days list, and a ’44 things to do before turning 44’ goal list.

What’s the difference: I’ve actually picked a handful of 101 goals to try to get accomplished (or at least a good head start on) by my birthday next year. In addition, there are several additional goals at the end of the list that are on my ‘44 things to do’ list that aren’t on (or fit with) the 101 goals in 1001 days.

So what is what? The long list is basically the 101 goals that I’m aiming to accomplish in 1001 days. Items that are bolded are from the 44 things to do before turning 44 list. I’ve determined that I’m going to be having ‘scheduled’ updates—every two months for the 44 things before 44 list, and every 100 days for the 101-goals (plus yearly updates around my birthday).

The areas that I’m focusing on for both lists: career/professional growth; personal growth (including areas of health/wellness, spirituality, and personal finances); and crafts/hobbies (tied with career). Why these areas? Because, they’re the ones that if I focus on will also have the most impact in other areas of life (such as social life, friends/family, contributions/donations and physical environment).

So what are the goals? They include:

  1. Start my freelance science/health/medical communications business
  2. Transition to a remote science/health/medical communications position
  3. Monetize blogs and set up an Etsy store for the crafts and so-forth
  4. Launch a YouTube channel
  5. Launch a podcast
  6. Increase blog/website(s) traffic (aim for 500+ views/day)
  7. Social media following of 500+ across different channels
  8. Launch at least one online course
  9. Hit 10K (and then 12.5K, 15K, 20+K) followers on LinkedIn
  10. Go to at least one scientific conference
  11. Present at least one scientific conference
  12. Renew professional memberships (ASBMB, ASCB; at least once)
  13. More interaction on LinkedIn
  14. Go to at least two professional networking events
  15. Attend at least one blogging conference
  16. Attend at least one author-reader conference
  17. Develop a passive income stream
  18. Complete at least 18 different e-courses
    • Finish at least two CSA advanced programs
    • Finish at least four Udemy courses
    • Finish at least six Skillshare courses
  19. Read at leaet 100 different nonfiction/historical fiction books
    • Read at least 44 nonfiction/historical books before Sept 20, 2024
  20. Become fluent in Spanish
  21. Become fluent in German
  22. Become proficient in French, Norwegian, or Swedish
    • Learn to say hello and thank you in ten different languages
  23. Complete at least one 365-day photography challenge
  24. Editorial calendars, to-be accomplished lists for both blogs and various social media accounts
  25. Learn python coding
  26. Create a physical vision board and update it regularly
    • Based on my vision/definition of success
  27. Learn basic sign language
  28. Get out of debt
  29. Increase my savings account 500x
  30. Increase my retirement account 500x
  31. No spend challenges
  32. Finish at least one personal finance book and e-course
  33. Get into the best shape of my life
    • Learn about body confidence
    • Create a happiness plan
  34. Daily mediation (work up to twice a day)
  35. Stretch daily
  36. Hold a 90-second plank
  37. Develop (and stick with) a consistent exercise schedule
  38. Make a candle (or two, or three, or more)
  39. Make some mosaic art & resin art
  40. Make some soap
  41. Make some tie-dye clothes/accessories
  42. Draw/doodle, color, and frame a original drawing
  43. Draw/doodle, paint, and frame a original piece of art
  44. Sew something I’d wear
  45. Start my own jewelry line
  46. Make a memorial quilt
  47. Start another afghan (or make some scarfs to donate)
  48. Upload/update photography pages (namely bird pages) on creative/hobby blog
  49. Complete at least another six cross-stitch projects
  50. Create my own coffee-table photography book
  51. Create my own calendar using my nature photographs
  52. Create at least one piece of wood-burnt art
  53. Monthly new & full moon goals
  54. Daily oracle card drawings
  55. Create my own Wicca/pagan altar & update throughout the seasons
  56. See a coral reef
  57. Tour a vineyard
  58. See the Northern Lights
  59. Go to a Renaissance Festival
  60. Visit at least three countries
  61. Visit at least one ‘new’ national and/or state park
  62. Visit at least one ‘new’ national and/or state monument
  63. Visit at least one ‘new’ zoo
  64. Visit at least one ‘new’ aquarium
  65. Visit at least one ‘new’ state
  66. Visit at least one ‘new’ city
  67. Fly out and/or land at three ‘new’ airports
  68. Make fresh pasta
  69. Learn to make sushi
  70. Learn glass etching
  71. Get a haircut and highlights (light purple, blue, and/or green)
  72. Various top ten author/book series lists (creative blog)
  73. Keep at least three plants alive
  74. Start a succulent garden in a pot
  75. Design a science-based board game
  76. Declutter and downsize
  77. Create a minimal wardrobe
  78. Swim with whale sharks
  79. Put in at least one flower garden around the house
  80. Become better informed in regards to politics
  81. Become better informed in regards to economics
  82. Pick a non-science topic and develop ‘niche’ knowledge on it
  83. Research 30 prominent women throughout history
  84. Write a minimum of 101 mini-book reviews
  85. Write a minimum of 100 blurbs/reviews on different research papers/topics
  86. Start a junk journal
  87. Listen to a different podcast everyday (30-120 day challenge)
  88. Yoga for a minimum of 30 days
  89. 30+ days of iPhone photography
  90. 30+ days of doodling
    • Create a coloring book from various (uncolored) doodles/drawings
  91. 30-days of coloring in coloring books
  92. Solo dance parties (minimum of four to five songs)
  93. 30-days of making rubbings of interesting surfaces and textures (leaves, flowers, tree bark, so forth)
  94. Film progress of one (or more) 30-day challenge
  95. Learn a new country (or fact) a day
  96. Do a Sudoku or crossword puzzle daily
  97. Jumping jack/squat challenge
  98. Watch a different TedTalk each day (30-120 day challenge); plus a 100-200 word summary
  99. Create my own cookbook
  100. Ten minutes on the exercise bike (work up to a 5+ mile bike ride)
  101. 30+ days of mind-maps

The last few things from the 44 things to do before turning 44 list:

Complete at least five 30-day challenges (some of which are listed above)

Read at least two ‘new’ banned books

Read at least two ‘new’ classic books

Read at least one ‘new’ trilogy (or longer) series

Finish creating a inspiring work/craft area

Write a letter to my future self (again)

So that is my combined 101 goals and 44 things list…technically could call it a 107 goals in 1001 days…but splitting things up may help me actually complete more of the goals. In terms of updating the lists: I’ll be updating my progress on the bolded items every 60 days (basically the 20th of every other month) and the first update will be Nov 20 2023. In terms of the 101 goals–updates will be every 100 days, with yearly updates on my birthday (so there will a 365 day and 730 day update in addition to all the other updates). The first update for the 101 goals will be Dec 30 2023.

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November in Review: planning and looking ahead to 2023 & beyond

So, we’re in December…that means there are only 31 days, roughly four and half weeks, or 744 hours left in 2022. That means, I now really need to get serious about planning out things for 2023…because it will be here before we know it (or are possibly willing to accept it).

I’m still feeling massively tired and burnt out on life, and while I would love for the year (and decade) to be over—I’m also not ready for the good-byes that will go along with them.

I’d hoped that November would be a little mellower than the past three months—and it was, and at the same time it wasn’t; if possible it was an even tie for September in terms of being a mess.

Still dealing with the ongoing family medical issue—and the outcome is still up in the air. Then there is the fun of elderly animals…probably having to put one cat and dog down within the next few months (cat due to health issues, that I currently can’t afford to treat; and the dog due to old age and pain).

The only cool thing I can say about the news is Mauna Loa erupting this week. It’s been well over a decade since I’ve been to the big island of Hawai’i—and when I went, I only visited Kilauea (since it was within the main part of the Volcano National Park).

While I wouldn’t want to be living on a island with an active volcano—I think it’d be cool to see it erupt (from a safe distance)—cause while I did see Kilauea erupt—it wasn’t as cool looking as pictures have been lately for Mauna Loa or even when Kilauea erupted a few years ago.

Still staying off the news for the most part—mainly because of my current mental health state. Though if everyone would just grab a snickers bar and take like a three-month timeout, I think that would help things settle down.

By this time next year, I won’t be surprised if I’m diagnosed with moderate cases of depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

Elections were earlier this month, and hopefully Democrats can hold their slim majority in the senate, and knock heads together in the house to get things done. Sorry if that seems ‘violent’—I’m tired of seeing mass shootings in the news, and basic human rights being attacked basically every damn day.

In terms of the total number of cases of the virus within the US, when I published ‘October in Review’ on November 1st, I noted that we had reached a little over 99.3 million cases and now as of December 1st —we have reached just a little over 100.6 million cases (an increase of a little over 1.3 million cases). So, numbers are staying ‘steady’—though I’d like to see the number actually start going down again. But there are the various omicron subs-strains running amok.

So—please, wear a mask, wash your hands, practice social distancing, and get boosted when needed.

I finally got around to getting my booster shot this past month—and other than a sore arm (for about four days), I didn’t have any other side effect of getting the booster. Flu shot is on semi-hold, only because it looks like I potentially have to schedule a doctor’s appointment to get it—and I don’t want to do that right now.

Still trying to keep the mental health on an even keel—therefore, I’m still trying to lean more into my strengths and values: knowledge, creativity, curiosity, spirituality, evolution/transformation (values), learner, intellection, input, achiever, and deliberative (strengths).

So before setting goals for December, its time 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. 120-150K steps
  2. At least one partial walk at Boomer Lake, and at least five-to-ten minutes of intentional movement each day
  3. Finishing at least one of the many non-fiction books that I’ve started
  4. Read at least two-to-four fiction books
  5. Commit to the no spend days/no spend week/limited spending challenge (aiming for at least 22 days)
  6. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily oracle card drawings, daily gratitude journal entries
  7. Craft time
  8. Work through at least part of one personal/professional development e-course
  9. Getting the second blog up and running
  10. Writing, writing, and writing

So how did I do with each of them?

120-150K steps:

I fell short of my minimum step goal of 120,000 steps. I managed to get 116,503 steps this past month. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts throughout the years—I’m an extremely fair weather person, so in order to be outside doing some type of workout I need it to be ‘just right’. We’re heading into winter, though with climate change, the temperatures have been doing a yoyo the past few weeks.

At least one partial walk at Boomer Lake, and at least five-to-ten minutes of intentional movement each day:

There was no walk at Boomer Lake during November. The reason—having to play ‘phone tag’ with medical staff in regards to the on-going family medical issue. I probably could have done a brief walk up there—but I did other chores instead.

I know I’ve probably moved around at least five minutes a day—but I have yet to write down what the intentional movements have been. (Need to get better at this)

Finish at least one non-fiction book:

I finally managed to finish reading INNERCISE: The New Science to Unlock Your Brain’s Hidden Power by John Assaraf. I just need to go back and do some of the exercises within the book (especially those that revolve around setting goals, and putting together routines).

Read at least two-to-four fiction books:

There were six new fiction books read during November, and six re-reads:

The new books:

  1. Someone to Hold (Wild Widows #2) by Marie Force
  2. Always Mine (Honey Mountain #1) by Laura Pavlov
  3. Ever Mine (Honey Mountain #2) by Laura Pavlov
  4. Make You Mine (Honey Mountain #3) by Laura Pavlov
  5. Simply Mine (Honey Mountain #4) by Laura Pavlov
  6. The Path to You (Wilder Brothers #3) by Carrie Ann Ryan

The re-reads included:

  1. Alpha Turned by K.B. Alan
  2. Protect & Defend by Francesca Hawley
  3. Hot & Badgered (Honey Badger Chronicles #1) by Shelly Laurenston
  4. In a Badgered Way (Honey Badger Chronicles #2) by Shelly Laurenston
  5. Badger to the Bone (Honey Badger Chronicles #3) by Shelly Laurenston
  6. Breaking Badger (Honey Badger Chronicles #4) by Shelly Laurenston

No spend challenges:

Well, I did okay with the no spend challenge—managed 17 days (so a little over half the month)…spending money unfortunately is my coping mechanism for stressful situations (and the past several months has been a roller coaster of stress)…but I’m going to work on improving this both in December and then in 2023.

Meditation/sitting quietly, oracle cards, gratitude (aka mental/spiritual health):

Time outdoors is again becoming limited to basically evenings (and when I need to fill bird feeders) due to it being winter.

Meditation and sitting quietly at night (or actually anytime during the day) is something I’ve been fairly good at doing.

I’ve also been on top of doing daily oracle card drawings (I think there may have been one day I didn’t—but I’d done a double the day before), and doing daily gratitude journal entries.

Craft time:

I finished the one abstract science cross-stitch project, and had decided to use buttons to tie off the fabric in the back.

Latest abstract cross-stitch project

I’m currently working on a second abstract cross-stitch project and should be done with that one hopefully before the end of the year.

Working through part of a personal/professional e-course:

I’ve started watching the e-course: Master Business Writing & Editing on Udemy. I’ve watched the first three videos (so about 15 minutes of the three hour course). It looks to be a good course—so, aiming to finish this plus the 15 errors in scientific writing & how to fix them (an two hour course) during December.

Getting the second blog/website up and running:

One of the bigger goals for December

Writing, writing, and writing:

While I’ve gotten quite a bit of writing done during November (kept up with the three ‘series’ that I do on LinkedIn each week; plus the various posts on the creative blog), there is room for improvement.

I know that I need to get the second blog up and running—plus I need to decide on the various social media platforms for each blog, and get a tentative content calendar planned and actually stick with it…goal for December and 2023.

So, other than not getting any work done on the new blog/website—I managed a little on all other goals (while totally meeting at least the reading goals). As I’d mentioned in my #thoughtfulthursday post on LinkedIn today—I’ve been allowing myself to fall into the pits of ‘fear of failure’ and ‘fear of opinions of others’ this year—which has sidetracked, and sidelined my progress on numerous fronts.

Taking today out of the equation—there are thirty days left in the month. I know that I probably won’t be super productive this month (holidays and the on-going family medical drama), but I need to start setting things up so that I can hit the ground running in the New Year.

That means measuring things in the bedroom and rearranging furniture—to hopefully create an ‘office’ space that I actually feel comfortable working in, in addition to creating a portable working space in the living/dining room area (elderly dog likes to be in the same room—and has trouble navigating areas that lack area rugs).

It means getting in the different bullet journals and getting the tracking sheets set up for at least the first several months (besides the ones I did for 2022, introduce some new ones for 2023).

It will mean actually taking the time each day (morning and night) to plan and then reflect on how I did each day. It will also mean creating content calendars and trying to stick with them.

I’ll be spending some time during the next month or so deciding on what other social media channels I want to be active on for each blog…some might overlap (Instagram, Medium, and possibly having a Facebook page for each of them), but others will be specific for one or the other.

Therefore, I’ll still be working on improving my time and project management skills as well throughout the month of December.

The goals then for December will include:

  1. 120-155K steps
  2. Partial walk at Boomer Lake, and intentional movements daily
  3. Finish at least one non-fiction book
  4. Commit to the no-spend challenges
  5. Read at least two-to-four fiction books
  6. Mental/spiritual health (meditation, daily oracle card drawings, daily gratitude journal entries)
  7. Craft time
  8. Get the second blog up and running
  9. Work through at least one module of a personal/professional development course
  10. Writing, writing, and writing
  11. Set up the ‘master’ goal list for 2023; and start the ‘master’ blueprint plan for 2023-2028

The December goals are basically the same as what I’ve set for September, October, and November—with the addition of setting up the ‘master’ goals or plan for 2023 to 2028. What I need to do in terms of that ‘goal’ is start with the five year goals, and work my way backwards. That way hopefully each year I’ll be working towards those ‘larger’ and loftier goals.

As I mentioned the only goal that I didn’t really touch was getting the second blog/website up and running. I have an idea of what I want to write for my about me page (helps that I got my functional resume finished), and hopefully will have at least one blog post in addition to various pages ‘live’ by New Years Eve.

All I can try to do is devise a schedule/plan that will hopefully be able to bear the brunt of whatever happens during 2023…that will be a large focus this coming month.

Becoming more consistent will really let me lean into my strengths and values: learning/knowledge, creativity, curiosity, spirituality, evolution/growth, and intellection.

In addition—they all give me great practice at time and project management as I’m aiming for at least 85% overall completion (I’m fully acknowledging that I may not hit the step goal, and that I may also not have that much time outside—but I can work towards all the other ones).

Time/project management goes hand in hand with consistency and productivity. I’m going to be making more use of airtable (for content/project management—it’s a calendar and spreadsheet in one space), an old fashion timer, and pen/paper to manage my time and projects.

Curious to know what is your favorite time, project, or productivity tracker/manager?

Namaste….

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My birthday goal challenge: 43-things to do before turning 43

So my birthday was a couple of days ago, and I’ve been slowly reworking various goal and bucket lists.

Reworking the bucket lists—because I need to be totally honest about how much travel I will probably be doing over the next few decades (especially international).

Reworking the 101 goals in 1001-days list—because there are few things that just haven’t happened and I’m not sure if they’re goals I was putting down for myself or things I thought were needed.

But, one thing I’ve done—I’ve created a list of 43 things I want to do before I turn 43. Some of things I’m already doing (such as meditating, daily oracle cards, and monthly new/full moon goals), but there are others that I attempt and never make that much traction with—I’m hoping that this is the extra little push I need to accomplish those items.

My 43 things to do before turning 43 list

The list contains goals such as researching the origins of my last name. Which is a semi-easy goal—since my grandfather did a good amount of the research back in the 1980s when he was composing a family tree.

But it also contains goals such as defining my vision of success, learning about body confidence, and creating a happiness plan.

Then there are goals associated with finishing certain courses that I’ve bought over the years—such as the project management consortium, management consulting firm, and business development federation courses offered by Cheeky Scientist.

The goal is that by my 43rd birthday I will have accomplished at least eighty percent of the goals (a minimum of 34.4—or 34 goals). I’ll be keeping track of some of the goals in spreadsheets (such as the 365-day photography and writing challenges; what books I’ve read).

Time to start pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone, and expanding the bounce zone while shrinking the risk and stretch zones—I’ll be giving updates throughout the year, just haven’t figured out the approximate time frame.

Within the next week or two, I will also be posting an updated 101 goals in 1001-day challenge as well.

Have you done a birthday year inspired goal challenge before? If so–how did it turn out?

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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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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?

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More bird pages are live: Canada Goose and Tufted Duck

There are two more bird pages live under the birding tab (and specifically within the Anseriformes/Anatidae [ducks, geese, and swans] sub-tab of the ‘water birds’).

The two pages are the Canada Goose and the Tufted Duck.

The Canada goose is a bird that probably needs little introduction, as it is a common waterfowl species throughout North America, and was introduced to the ‘Old World’ in the late 1600s.

Canada Geese and goslings swimming in Boomer Lake

The Canada goose is one of two waterfowl species that is present year-round at Boomer Lake (the other is the mallard—page coming soon), and can be spotted either out on the lake, along one of the many ‘fingers’ or wandering through the fields grazing on the grass. Also, depending on where you live in town, you may even see them crossing the street, snoozing in someone’s front yard, or grazing in said yard.

I actually was able to get a couple of walks in this spring, to where I was able to get some pictures of the latest group of goslings as well.

The tufted duck on the other hand, is a native to Eurasia—but has slowly made its way to North America (unlike the Canada goose—I don’t think anyone ‘introduced’ the tufted duck to over here). They can occasionally be spotted within the northeastern part of the continent (both within the US and Canada), but is considered somewhat common in western Alaska.

I managed to get a single picture of one when I was over in London several years ago, walking through Kensington Park on my way back to my hotel.

Tufted Duck swimming in Kensington Park, London UK

The only photography goal I can think of for the Canada goose is to see if I can get pictures of the different subspecies (currently that number sits at seven), while my photography goal for the tufted duck is to try to get a picture of one in North America, and then try to get a picture of one with a gosling swimming somewhere in Europe.

No Comments bird watchingnatureoutdoorsPhotographytravel

Slow and steady progress: 400 days into challenge

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

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

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

So how are things progressing?

Professional Development and Career–Ongoing:

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

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

Personal and Professional Development: on-going

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

8. Become fluent in German again

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

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

Various Non-Fiction books I’ve read since 2019

11. Finish the books on scientific writing

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

14. Develop a daily writing habit

15. Write a letter to my future self

Personal Development and hobbies: on-going

16. Paint and frame at least one original painting

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

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

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

20. Make my own jewelry

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

The current status of my cross-stitch project

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

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

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

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

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

27. Start writing a book

28. Learn Photoshop

29. Write in the journal daily

30. Create my own coffee-table photography book

31. Learn basic sign language

32. Start a virtual book club

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fitness and Health: On-going

40. Get into the best shape of my life

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

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

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

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

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

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

47. Insanity Max 30

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

49. 22-Minute Hard Corps

50. T20

51. Insanity

52. Insanity: Asylum 1

53. Insanity: Asylum 2

54. 4 weeks of Prep

55. 6 weeks of work

56. T25 (have already done once)

57. Brazil Butt Lift

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

59. 21 Day Fix Extreme (have done once)

60. Country Heat (have done once)

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

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

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

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

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

66. Shawn Week

67. 80-Day Obsession

68. Brazil Butt Lift: Carnival

69: Shift Shop: Proving Grounds

70. P90

71. Core de Force

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

73. Manage 10 push-ups on my toes

74. Hold a two-minute forearm plank

75. Hold a ninety second plank

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

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

78. Stretch daily

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

Blog and Social Media: On-going:

80. Finish the YouTube for bosses course

81. Finish the YouTube course creation for bosses course

82. Launch a YouTube Channel

83. Launch an online course

84. Launch an online freelance/remote/contract business

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

86. Rebrand myself (?)

87. Get Instagram followers to constant 800+

88. Get Pintrest followers to constant 400+

89. Get twitter followers to constant 1000+

90. Publish at least two blog series

91. Editorial calendars (monthly/weekly/daily)

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

93. Instagram

94. Facebook Page(s)

95. Twitter

96. Pintrest

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

98. Various top 10 author lists

99. Various top 10 book series lists

100. Launch a podcast

Spirituality: On-going:

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

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

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

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

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

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

106. Design a science based board game

107. Update my digital vision board

108. Reorganize my storage unit

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

110. Help put up a partial privacy fence in backyard

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

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

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

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

114. Re-pierce my ears

115. Go to at least one scientific conference

116. Present at a scientific conference

117. Got to at least two professional networking events

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

119. Visit at least three new countries

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

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

122. Visit at least one new zoo

123. Visit at least one new aquarium

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

125. Visit at least one new city

126. Visit at least one ‘new’ state

127. See the northern lights

128. Attend at least one blogging conference

129. Attend at least one author-reader conference

130. Swim with whale sharks

131. Parasailing

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

133. New couch and chair for living room

134. New dresser for bedroom

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

136. New TV & stand

137. New desk/craft workstation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Short post: The parakeet in the park

Female (or immature male) rose-ring (ring-neck) parakeet spotted in Kensington Park, London

So another series of bird pages are live under the bird tab. I decided to go a head and get the order page (Psittaciformes) for parrots and their relatives, the family page (Psittaculidae) for one of the three ‘true parrot’ families, and the species page for the rose-ring (or ring-neck) parakeet completed and published.

Did you know that there are over 350 different species of parrots (and their allies), and a third of them (basically a little over 115 of them) are endangered or threatened? This is due to lost of habitat, illegal bird trade, and introduction of non-native predators.

I managed to get a single picture of a female (or immature male) rose-ring parakeet on my trip to London several years ago. Seeing a parakeet in the middle of London in early October was an odd sighting—but it turns out they’ve adapted to the country quite well.

London is just one of the cities that these parakeets have managed to adapt to, they can also be found in other large cities in Europe, and even within the US (they’ve formed colonies in California, Florida, and Hawaii).

A goal is to get a picture of a mature male (they’re the ones that have the colored ‘rings’ around their necks), and a picture of them in either Africa or India (their ‘natural territory’), plus possibly getting a picture of one within the US (I’d prefer to go back to Hawaii to try to find one, but might have to settle for California after we get the pandemic under control yet again).

Have you seen a rose-ring (or ring-neck) parakeet before, and if you did–was it in the wild or at a zoo?

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Odd facts and statistics on the US State Birds

Unless this is your first time visiting my blog (and then, hello and how do you do), one may realize that bird watching and photography are some favorite pastimes of mine. While creating the birding section of my blog and the various bird pages, I’ve come curious on the topic of ‘state’ birds.

Every state has an official ‘state’ bird and after seeing the list of birds, I decided to create a list of ‘fifty-one’ odd facts about the state birds. In addition, I also found about a dozen odd stats about them as well.

Collage of all the ‘state’ birds

So to start off, here are the odd statistics on the ‘state’ birds:

  1. There are over a thousand different species of birds within the United States, but only twenty-seven species, plus two types of chickens were chosen as state birds.
  2. Ten states have both a state bird, plus another ‘official’ bird (game, waterfowl, raptor, or symbol of peace)
  3. The state birds of nine states (plus the District of Columbia) are only present in the state (or area) from mid-spring to early/mid fall (breeding season)
  4. Seven states have the northern cardinal as their state bird
  5. Six states have the mockingbird as their state bird
  6. Six states have the western meadowlark as their state bird–though it is a summer resident for three of those states
  7. Two states have a chicken as their state bird
  8. Three states have the goldfinch as their state bird
  9. Three states have the American robin as their state bird
  10. Two states have the eastern bluebird as their state bird
  11. Two states have the mountain bluebird as their state bird (though it is a summer resident in one of those states.
  12. Two states have the black-capped chickadee for their state bird

What I found ‘weird’ was that high frequency of the northern cardinal (14% of the states), mockingbird (12% of the states), and western meadowlark (12% of the states) being chosen for state birds. These three choices by nineteen states account for 38% of the ‘state birds’.

So, what are some weird/odd or amazing facts about the various state (or national) birds?

  1. The national bird (the Bald Eagle) is no longer considered endangered or threatened (it is one of the biggest success stories of the Endangered Species Act). Though it is still protected at the state level in many states.
Bald Eagle and gulls flying over Boomer Lake. Picture by JessicaMattsPhotography

2. The District of Columbia has a ‘state bird’–the wood thrush.

Wood Thrush

3. The rough translation for the wood thrush’s scientific name (Hylochila mustelina) is ‘weasel-colored woodland thrush’

4. Male wood thrushes do more of the feeding of the chicks than the female; this allows her to start a second brood.

5. The first national wildlife refuge (Florida’s Pelican Island) was created in 1903 by Teddy Roosevelt to protect the brown pelican.

Brown Pelicans flying over the beach. Photograph: JessicaMattsPhotography

6. Besides being the state bird of Louisiana, the brown pelican is also the national bird of Saint Martin, Barbados, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

7. Northern flickers actually hunt for their food on the ground, with ants being a staple in their diet.

Northern flicker

8. In addition to nesting in trees (like all other woodpeckers), northern flickers have also been know to use abandoned burros of belted kingfishers or bank swallows.

9. The willow ptarmigan is the only grouse in the world where the male regularly helps raise the young.

Male Willow Ptarmigan in mating colors

10. The willow ptarmigan is also a master of camouflage; they can be snowy white in the winter and a mix of reds and browns in the summer.

11. The cactus wren gets its liquids from the juicy insects and fruits it eats; therefore rarely relying on water.

Cactus Wren

12. Young California quail gain their gut microbiome by pecking at the feces of the adults.

California Quail

13. California quail broods mix after hatching and all parents help care for the young

14. A male northern mockingbird can learn up to 200 songs during his lifetime.

Northern mockingbird

15. While it is called the northern mockingbird, it is actually absent from many of the northern states.

16. Lark buntings are able to survive periods of drought by taking moisture from grasshoppers and other insects

Lark Bunting

17. Lark buntings are endemic sparrows to the grasslands and shrub steppes of North America.

18. The entire American robin population ‘turns over’ on average every six years, though many may live longer than that.

American Robin

19. Did you know that robins can become intoxicated when they exclusively eat honeysuckle berries?

20. Brown thrashers have been known to imitate the songs of Chuck-will’s-widows, wood thrushes, and northern flickers

Brown thrasher seen up at Boomer Lake

21. Brown thrashers are the largest common host for the ‘parasitic’ brown-headed cowbirds. Though they can tell the difference between their eggs and the cowbird eggs, and usually reject the cowbird eggs that had been laid in the nest.

22. The Nene evolved from the Canada goose, which probably arrived on the Hawaiian Islands roughly 500,000 years ago.

The Nene or Hawaiian Goose

23. The Nene is the sixth-most endangered waterfowl species in the world.

24. There are Hawaiian geese (Nene) living in the Slimbridge Wetland Wildlife Reserve near Gloucestershire, England

25. Mountain bluebirds can hunt for insects either in flight or from perches

Mountain Bluebird

26. A male mountain bluebird with a high-quality nesting site is more likely to attract a mate than a more ‘attractive’ male with a low-quality nesting site.

27. Female northern cardinals are one of the few female songbirds that sing

Northern Cardinal

28. Cardinals don’t molt into duller colors–the mature males stay bright red year-round.

29. Goldfinches are strict vegetarians, and the offspring of other birds who parasitize their nests (such as the brown-headed cowbirds) rarely survive more than a few days on the all-seed diet.

Goldfinch

30. Meriweather Lewis, noted in 1805 the differences between the eastern and western meadowlarks

Western Meadowlark

31. Male western meadowlarks usually have two mates at the same time, as the females do all the incubating, brooding, and most of the feeding of the young

32. Black-capped chickadees hide their food to eat later, placing individual items in different spots

Black-capped chickadee

33. Black-capped chickadees adapt to changes in their flocks and the environment every fall, by allowing neurons with ‘old information’ to die and replacing them with new neurons

34. Baltimore orioles are known to breed/hybridize extensively with Bullock’s orioles where their ranges overlap within the Great Plains

Oriole spotted at Boomer Lake

35. When migrating the common loon has been clocked at speeds greater than 70mph

Common Loon

36. Common loons are only present in a few states during the summer. Most of the US is actually within their migratory routes to the coasts, where they will spend the winters (and the young will stay for two years before heading back north).

37. Eastern bluebirds will typically have more than one brood per year

Eastern Bluebird spotted at Boomer Lake

38. Purple finches have lost territory in the eastern US to the house finch

A finch spotted in the winter

39. Roadrunners are able to eat venomous lizards, scorpions, and rattlesnakes.

Greater Roadrunner

40. Roadrunners may also be seen walking around with a snake protruding from its bill, swallowing a little at a time as the snake is digested.

41. The scissor-tailed flycatcher tends to wander on their way to and from their winter grounds in Central America. They have been spotted as far north and west as British Columbia, and as far north and east as Nova Scotia.

Scissor-tailed flycatchers at Boomer Lake

42. The scissor-tailed flycatcher as the second longest tail for members of the kingbird family. The fork-tailed flycatcher has the longest tail.

43. The popularity of the ruffed grouse as a game bird led to some of the earliest game management efforts in North America back in 1708.

Ruffed Grouse

44. The overall population of the ruffed grouse goes through an eight-to-eleven year cycle that is in correlation to the snowshoe hare population.

45. It is only the male Carolina wren that sings

Carolina wrens in the backyard

46. Ring-necked pheasants will sometime parasitize the nests of other birds (such as the ruffed grouse or the greater-prairie chicken)

Ring-necked pheasant

47. Ring-necked pheasants practice ‘harem-defense polygyny’ where one male will keep other males away from a group of females during the breeding season.

48. The California gull became the state bird of Utah in 1848, after they started feasting on the katydids that had been devastating the crops of the settlers.

California Gull

49. Hermit thrushes are likely to nest in trees west of the Rocky Mountains, but on the ground east of the Rocky Mountains

Hermit Thrush

50. Male hermit thrushes will collect the food for the nest, giving it to the female who will then feed the nestlings.

51. Not really odd facts, but here are the two pictures of the chickens that are also state birds:

Delaware’s state bird
Rhode Island’s state bird

So there are the ‘fifty-one’ odd facts on state birds (yes, I know that the last fact are just pictures). So far I’ve managed to get a picture of thirteen or fourteen of the birds–I’m leaning more towards fourteen, since I’m pretty positive that is a purple finch I got a picture of this winter.

A photography goal–get a picture of the other state birds, though I’m not sure if I’m also going to include the chickens in that or not. You might have noticed that I didn’t mention every state in terms of their state bird–I thought it would be more fun to test everyone’s knowledge.

So question–do you know the state bird of your state?

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European Edition: Two more Rail Member Pages are Live

So there are two more bird pages live under the birding section, and they aren’t geese, swans, or ducks: they’re two members of the rail family that I saw on my trip to the UK a couple of years ago.

Ever since I started this project (creating bird pages for the various birds I’ve gotten pictures of over the years), I’m constantly going through my old pictures and asking–which bird is this, and am I sure that is the correct bird?

For most birds, I’m usually correct with my identification, but there have been others that I’ve been wrong on. As it turns out I wasn’t correct with my first identification of these two birds; I’m made a ‘rookie’ mistake and assumed they were just ‘regional’ variations of birds I’d seen back in the US.

Well, it turns out that that was the wrong assumption to make–they’re actually separate species from the ones I’d spotted within the US.

The first one is the common moorhen. The reason why I’d thought that it was similar to the one I’d seen down in South Padre Island, is that they had been considered the same (or possibly subspecies) up until 2011–so only a decade ago, and I have an ‘outdated’ bird book.

The ‘Old World’ has the common moorhen, while the ‘New World’ has the common gallinule.

Common moorhen spotted within Kensington Park in London, UK

The second one I had ‘mistakenly’ identified was the Eurasian coot–I thought it was the American coot. Yes, I know that the name ‘American’ should have given it away that it probably wouldn’t be found in the UK–but if the pied grebe can occasionally migrate over the Atlantic Ocean, whose to say that the coot couldn’t?

Eurasian coots swimming in Kensington Park

I now know that there are several coot species, and I’ve managed to get pictures of two of them–in order to make it a perfect trifecta, I now need to head back to the Hawaiian islands and get a picture of the Hawaiian coot.

There are still one or two more birds from the UK trip that will be getting pages, but currently this brings the rail family up to date for members that I’ve spotted either within the US or abroad.

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