Tag: BookReviews

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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The nanny and tattoo artist: Review of Happily Ever Never

Welcome back to Colorado and the next generation of Montgomerys.

What I love about Carrie Ann Ryan’s series is that secondary characters are never overlooked. Usually one or two couples get their happily ever afters via novellas.

Happily Ever Never is one of those stories, and is May and Leo’s story.

Both May and Leo were first introduced in Bittersweet Promises (the first of the Montgomery Ink Legacy series).

Leo is a tattoo artist at Montgomery Ink Legacy (the tattoo shop run by Lief, Nick, Sebastian and Lake).

We first met May on her one and only blind date with Lief, and then she became the nanny to Brooke’s son Luke in Bittersweet Promises.

May had made a promise to her father—to keep looking until she found her happily-ever-after.

She made a deal with family members—every other blind date—they’d chose her date.

She feels she’s become the ‘queen’ of first dates…as no one sparks enough interest for a second date.

She then decides to swear off dating after a specially horrendous one results in her car getting totaled.

Leo has a crush on May…but doesn’t want to potentially mess up the dynamics of all their little groups…and foolishly listens to the other guys.

Which results in him managing to mess things up for awhile…

To find out how Leo fixes things…and how many ‘first’ dates they go on…pick up a copy of Happily Ever Never today.

Happily Ever Never is a five out five star read, and I love the glimpses into lives of all the Montgomerys…looking forward to the series continuing.

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To summarize the Aries Full Moon Goals: Progress not Perfection

So the moon will be entering its next full moon cycle for the year tomorrow night—which means that I should look back at the goals that I had set for the Aries full moon.

So what were my goals for the Aries full moon?

Well, they included:

  1. Making a list of things I would enjoy doing in terms of intentional movement–and then trying to devise a schedule.
  2. Have at least two mini-book reviews written and published on various sites
  3. Work through at least part of a personal/professional development course
  4. Continue reading (and possibly finishing) at least one non-fiction book that I’ve started

So how did I do with each of them?

List of things I enjoy doing in terms of intentional movement:

Those things include:

  1. Walking (nature walks, taking Chaos for a walk, walks with friends, and ‘window’ shopping)
  2. Weight lifting (as long as I stay away from lunges and push-ups)
  3. Cardio (can be a DVD workout, impromptu solo dance parties, riding my bike, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, and ebing outside)
  4. Yoga, Pilates, and stretching

Have I designed a schedule yet? Nope—this is in large part due to both the ongoing family medical issue and then dealing with the pets (most want to be in the same room all the time—and trying to lift weights when you have cats and dogs wanting in your personal space—not fun or easy).

Two mini-book reviews written and published on various sites:

The two books that I’ve gotten around to writing mini-book reviews over were:

  1. Bittersweet Promises (Montgomery Ink Legacy #1) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  2. Always the One for Me (Wilder Brothers #2) by Carrie Ann Ryan

I’m hoping to finish reading Hunted in Darkness and getting that book review posted by the end of the weekend.

Watch/work through at least one module of a personal/professional development e-course:

I managed to watch a couple of short courses on Skillshare and they were:

  1. 3X your productivity with this weekly planning guide
  2. Content Calendar made easy: Save time and develop a personal brand
  3. Blogging rituals and routines: 10 secrets for increased blogging productivity.

I briefly reviewed each of the courses in my ‘October in Review‘ post.

Finish at least one non-fiction book:

Well, I’ve started a couple more non-fiction books—but haven’t finished any of them yet. As I mentioned in my ‘October in Review’ post—I go in cycles when it comes to reading non-fiction.

The best way to illustrate what I mean—oscillation waves, these waves can vary in both height and width:

That is how I view my reading cycles (regardless if it’s non-fiction or fiction).

Currently my non-fiction trend is more of the top—it’s taking more time to finish a book, and then I start numerous books, and it’s a ‘uphill’ battle to finish one (or more).

Whereas my fiction reading trend (and non-fiction trends in certain months)—resembles the bottom oscillation wave, I can read several books within a short period and have no problems moving on to another book (or going back and re-reading books).

So—I know that I need to try to decrease the ‘height’ of the non-fiction oscillation wave to have it match the height of the non-fiction oscillation wave over the next few weeks/months.

Well—I managed to accomplish about seventy percent of my goals for the Aries full moon. The only one that I didn’t get ‘accomplished’ was the non-fiction reading—which based on how October went, I wasn’t shocked to see that I didn’t accomplish it.

Seventy percent works well with the motto that I’m using for the final quarter of 2022—‘Progress over Perfection’.

Sometimes it is difficult to catch all the little negative stories/thoughts that run through our heads—so when I don’t catch them right away, it means I’ve accidentally let the inner critic/imposter syndrome out to play.

But, I’m getting better at catching them…I think they only ‘played’ for a few days during the Aries full moon.

So now, I’m going to celebrate this win—and then look ahead to the Taurus full moon.

How did you do with your personal/professional goals last month?

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Time & project management improving–time to focus on the second blog

So, we’re in November…that means there are only two months, 61 days, roughly nine weeks, or 1,464 hours left in 2022. It’s the final sixth of 2022, and I’m trying to figure out what and how much stuff I can get accomplished before both the end of November and the end of 2022.

As I mentioned last month—I’m tired, burnt out (more on life overall than career), and really ready for this year, and the decade to basically be over.

October was even a bigger mess than September—which is saying something. So how was it a bigger mess than September?

Well—the ongoing family medical issue that I mentioned having started in my August in Review (and touched upon in my September in Review)—it’s still ongoing, and there was a point where it wasn’t looking very good. Currently we’re back to the fifty-fifty chance of it going either way.

I’m also trying to stay off the news (I know that this is showing my privilege—but with my current mental health state—I need to stay off of it). But I will just say—Russia should be kicked off the UN Security Council and kicked out of the UN in general.

By the time the family medical issue is resolved, I won’t be surprised if in addition to the moderate cases of depression and anxiety, I don’t also have a moderate case of PTSD as well.

Elections are coming up next week for the US—and this is where I’m going to share my two-cents.

Basic human rights are on the ballot this year. Women’s rights (voting and health care), sensible gun laws, the environment, education—all of it are on the line. For whatever reason there is a major dichotomy between the two major political parties within the US—and I don’t mind debating how each view finances, the budget, and those topics—but I won’t debate my stance on women’s rights, education, gun control, the environment, or issues I consider to be general ‘moral’/’common sense’ issues.

Therefore, if we elect more common sense and/or liberal individuals to Congress—we can end the filibuster, expand the Supreme Court, enact term limits for both the Supreme Court and Congress, and finally codify women’s health care and gun control into law.

And I’ll end my political/social/economical ‘rant’ here, before it takes over the post.

In terms of the total number of cases of the virus within the US, when I published ‘September in Review’ on October 1st, I noted that we had reached a little over 98.2 million cases and now as of November 1st —we have reached just a little over 99.3 million cases (an increase of a little over 1.1 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 thought I’d manage to get my booster shot in October—but with the way the beginning of the month went…this task fell by the wayside. Hopefully I can get around to scheduling it for sometime in November (and possibly the flu shot—if its free as well).

While trying to keep the mental health on an even keel—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). Though sometimes it doesn’t help having the background/understanding of medical issues…ignorance is bliss at times.

So before setting goals for November, its time 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. 125-155K steps
  2. At least one partial walk at Boomer Lake, and at least five to ten minutes of intentional movement a day
  3. Finish at least one non-fiction book
  4. Read at least two-to-four fiction books
  5. Commit to the no spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending challenge
  6. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, and daily oracle drawings
  7. Craft time
  8. Getting the second blog/website up and running
  9. Working through at least one module of a personal/professional development course
  10. Writing, writing, and writing

So how did I do with each goal?

125-155K steps:

I managed to get 134,240 steps in during the month of October—basically right in the middle between hitting a little over 4K steps a day and the ‘goal’ of 5K steps a day. I managed two walks at Boomer—a partial and a full, plus took Chaos through the neighborhood once. Hopefully I will be able to get Chaos out on more walks in November, plus have an late morning/early afternoon walk at Boomer Lake at least once or twice in November.

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

I managed to get in one partial walk and one full walk at Boomer Lake, plus a walk through the neighborhood with Chaos. I probably managed about five minutes or so each day of ‘intentional’ movement (which for me means helping our elderly, arthritic dog in and out of the house).

Finish at least one non-fiction book:

I’m still reading Trilobite: Eyewitness to evolution; and I’m about thirty percent of the way through the book. I’m almost finished with INNERCISE; and I’m about eighty percent of the way done with that book–so I should possibly finish it sometime in November.

I’ve realized that I have cycles when it comes to reading non-fiction books—I can read several in a month (or over a period of say two months), then I go for a month (or longer) where I only end up reading a little bit of different non-fiction books (as none really grab my full attention).

Read at least two-to-four fiction books:

I’m pretty certain that I read more than four books during October (but didn’t track how many were re-reads). But teh four fiction books that I know I read during October were:

  1. Give Me Love (Rose Canyon #2) by Corinne Michaels
  2. Bittersweet Promises (Montgomery Legacy #1) by Carrie Ann Ryan (book review was posted last week)
  3. Fractured Sky (Tattered & Torn #5) by Catherine Cowles
  4. My Favorite Mistake (Paradise Bay Billionaire Brothers #4) by Claudia Buroga

In addition, I also finally got around to writing and posting the book review for Always the One for Me (Wilder Brothers #2) by Carrie Ann Ryan.

Commit to the no spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending challenge

My goal for October was a minimum of 22 days but aiming for 29.

Well, I managed seventeen days (just a little over half the month) without buying any extra e-books, or other stuff. But since how bad the beginning of the month was (in terms of the family medical issue)–managing seventeen days isn’t too shabby.

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

There was time outdoors—possibly not as much as I would have liked—but we’re heading into the cooler months, and unless the sun is directly overhead, it can get chilly sitting outside (even in a sweatshirt).

I’ve been making use of the soothing pod mediation app at night—and managing to sit and focus on the mediation for at least five minutes (some of the meditations are upwards of ten to fifteen minutes).

I’ve been on track doing my daily gratitude journal entries, and doing daily oracle card drawings. For October I was using the Oracle of the Shapeshifters deck:

Thursdays–I share the oracle spread on LinkedIn as part of my Thoughtful Thursday series

Craft time:

In addition to creating graphics and other multimedia items on Canva—I’ve also been spending quite a bit of time working on a new cross-stitch project (that I’ll hopefully have completed sometime during the month of November).

My current cross-stitch project: An abstract ‘microbiology’ petri dish showing different bacterial, fungal, and viral growth.

Getting the second blog up and running:

Still working on this….

Working through at least one module of a personal/professional development course:

I watched three short courses on Skillshare during October, and they were:

3x your productivity with this weekly planning guide

I liked the course–though I didn’t print off the planning guide. Basically you’re given ten tips on how to improve your week (and those tips could also be applied to one’s monthly or even yearly calendars).

The tips that the instructor gave were:

  1. Visualize your goals
  2. Schedule self-care
  3. Celebrate and appreciate small and big wins
  4. Just say No (to things you don’t want to be doing)
  5. Major lessons and inspirations (from the previous week/month)
  6. Failure is feedback
  7. Who can I help? Who would I benefit from?
  8. Feed your soul
  9. Focus (top three priorities for the week)
  10. Daily goals and review (break the three top priorities down into actionable steps for each day)

Needless to say—I’m still working on incorporating some of these tips into my schedule/life.

Content Calendar Made Easy: Save Time and Develop a Personal Brand

This was a decent course—it talked about taking your top traits (but traits in terms of what works best for content development) and mixing them with different types of content prompts (such as FAQs, behind the scene, future plans, and so forth).

I know my strengths/values—but am still working on how to meld those into my brand, but also realize I should be thinking of traits as well (would be having to brainstorm with others on this one).

Blogging Rituals and Routines: 10 secrets for increasing blogging productivity

This was a good course, and similar to the other productivity course gave ten different tips on how to improve one’s productivity.

The ten tips this instructor gave were:

  1. Clean up your office/desk space
  2. Organize drawers and files
  3. Clean up your computer files
  4. Remove things that don’t belong in the office (ties in with #1)
  5. Write at the same time everyday
  6. Have a daily, weekly, or monthly word count goal
  7. Have a daily time goal for writing (say fifteen minutes each day)
  8. Go on a ‘blogging retreat’
  9. Go on a weekly solo artist date
  10. Put on your ‘writing’ clothes each day

In addition, there were the suggestions of going for a morning walk, and changing your scenery (going somewhere other than your home ‘office’) to help improve your productivity.

There are several things that I need to do to help improve my productivity—and the big one is to create a couple of functional (but fun) work spaces in the house. One in my bedroom (which will be the biggest challenge), and then another in either the living room or dining room (since I split the time I spend working in different areas of the house).

Writing, writing, and writing:

I managed to get quite a bit of writing done overall during the month of October. I think I managed to do all three of my weekly post series on LinkedIn (Science Tuesday, Thoughtful Thursday, and the Oncology Friday), plus several posts for the creative/reflective blog.

I still need to work on drafting more blog posts (especially for the medical/science/health blog) in addition to starting to build out a portfolio of different communication style projects (mini-reviews; clinical trial summaries, slide decks, posters, and infographics).

What other lessons did I learn in October?

Trust your gut. I almost landed a freelance client for a writing project—but the payment method that they wanted to use was extremely phishy—so I politely declined (after having drafted an contract), and two days later—they’d blocked me on LinkedIn and the conversation thread disappeared as well (I wonder if I try to send another email if it would go through???).

Slowly dip your toe outside your comfort zone—but be completely honest and transparent with the other party.

A recruiter reached out to me on LinkedIn about a potential remote writing position focusing on oncology—great, I’m dipping my toes into the field, but was honest that I didn’t have the post-doc or publication experience that their client wanted. The recruiter thanked me, and basically then terminated the conversation (in all it was less than a five minute phone call).

In addition last week, I reached out to someone who was looking for a freelance science/medical writer—and while they aren’t sure if they’re going to be taking on that particular project—they gave me the idea/suggestion of possibly doing consulting work for training/on-boarding science/medical writers.

So, while I may not have made progress with all the goals (still need to carve out time to focus on the other blog/website)—overall progress was made during the month of October. There should always be room for improvement (if nothing else—extending the ‘goal’ line [in terms of steps for fitness, or words/time for writing).

So looking further into November, what are my goals going to be? Well, they’re going to include:

  1. 120-150K steps
  2. Hopefully at least one partial walk at Boomer Lake and at least five to ten minutes of intentional movement each day
  3. Finish at least one of the many non-fiction books I’ve started
  4. Read at least two-to-four fiction books
  5. Commit to the no-spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month challenge (aiming for at leat 22 days; goal is 27)
  6. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily oracle card drawings, and daily gratitude journal entries
  7. Craft time (finish the one cross-stitch project, start a new one, and/or possibly create some jewelry)
  8. Working through at least part of one personal/professional development e-course
  9. Getting the second blog/website up and running
  10. Writing, writing, and writing

So the goals for November are basically identical to the goals for October; and technically are identical to the goals for September.

The only goal in October that I really ‘fell’ down on was getting the second blog/website up and running. It is technically ‘live’—I just need to write the copy for the various pages, get the blog up and going, and start developing the portfolio.

In terms of how I’m hoping November will go—I’m going to be pessimistically optimistic, and just try to take things a day/week at a time. This means that I might have to scrap the weekly to-do list if something goes south—or I might get more accomplished, because I’ll be hyper-focused on something other than the family medical issue.

I’m still going to be aiming to become more consistent—especially in terms of posting to the different blogs (I have a editorial/content calendar created [more or less] for LinkedIn, and semi-created for this blog—just need to work on one for the other blog).

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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Finding their way back to each other: Review of Always the One for Me–Evan & Kendall’s story.

Welcome back to Texas and the Wilder brothers…

‘Always the One for Me’ takes place shortly after ‘One Way Back to Me’ and features Evan and Kendall.

Evan and Kendall have a history and past—they met on a plane to Vegas, had a whirlwind romance and got married.

Then things fell apart…or more specifically—Evan had a hair-brain idea on how to keep Kendall safe…

Now Evan is out of the military and trying to run a resort/winery combo with his brothers in the middle of Texas.

One position that needs to get filled—head chef

The top candidate happens to be Kendall, Evan’s ex-wife.

Promising to be civil to each other, she’s hired as the head chef for the Wilder Resort and Winery.

Well, they still have chemistry through the roof…

Can they have the discussion—that they should have had years ago, and find their way back to each other?

What types of trouble will the Dodge family try this time?

The answers to these, and a wonderfully written enemies-to-lovers story can be found within the pages of ‘Always the One for Me’.

I absolutely love this series and am waiting for the other brothers to get their happily-ever-afters before I try to pick a favorite.

I’m also hoping for more guest appearances by their in-laws up in Colorado as well.

While this review is late (Always the One for Me has been available on-line for a few months now)—I give it a solid five out of five stars and highly recommend it to anyone who love the Montgomery Ink world, or who wants to give Carrie Ann Ryan’s books a try.

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June in Review

So June has come and gone—which means that we’re halfway though 2020. Sufficient to say—2020 hasn’t gone the way I wanted it to go so far, and the next six months probably still won’t totally go the way I would like to go, but I have to keep reminding myself—the only reactions I can control are my own—so it’s into month four of self-isolation (though I did go vote yesterday and most people had masks on, and things were set up for social distancing so I’m not totally freaking about the November elections), I go.

So there are quite a few countries that have decided to slowly reopen in hopes of seeing tourists show up to help their economies—the sad thing is, since the US has been doing such a dismal attempt at containing the virus (the US is currently a little over 2.7 million total cases; and the state I’m in is currently a little over 14K; plus the town is a little over 340 cases—we were only 22 cases at the end of May), most of Europe has said that no one from the US is allowed in currently. I don’t blame them in the least—this is a nasty little virus (that attacks more than just your respiratory tract), and no one wants to have to go through a second lockdown (though the US should—we probably won’t until we get a competent person in the White House). Therefore that means that any type of international travel I had planned is still on hold until sometime in 2021 (plus I’m a little upset with one of the airlines that has decided that they’re going to quit doing social distancing—it should be lives over profit, and not the other way around).

The summer heat is now officially here—so I’m probably going to be spending more time indoors (I can deal with temps in the 90s-100s—I just really can’t stand when you add in the humidity and the heat index goes into the upper 100s), so hopefully I will be getting quite a bit more done over the next few months or so.

So as we head into the second half of the year (and can it please go a little easier than the first half—no more pandemics, at least until we have the current one under control), it is time to look at the goals I set for June, see how I did with each of them and then set some goals for July.

So what were the goals for June? The goals for June included:

1) Moving more (workouts, being outside, walks, marching in place, chores, and other things). I’m not going to set a step goal (as I’m not sure why my fitbit isn’t syncing and I’m currently not in the mood to get a new one), but will be trying to ensure that I’m moving around a good portion of the day.

2) Daily workouts—I’m thinking of bouncing between several different programs right now (Morning Meltdown 100, LIIFT4, Country Heat, and Yoga Booty Ballet) to keep my interest going.

3) Reading at least 2 non-fiction books

4) Personal/Professional Development—listening to podcasts, working through various e-courses, networking, and interacting more on linkedin.

5) Money log/weekly check-ins/No Spend Days—trying to work up to no spend weeks and have a bare minimum spend month

6) Continue working on devising a goal list and breaking it down, plus working on various different ways to translate those goals into an overall editorial calendar for the different areas I want to focus on: the blog, personal/professional development, fitness & health/mental health/crafts.

So how did I do with each of them?

1) Moving more (workouts, being outside, walks, marching in place, chores, and other things). I’m not going to set a step goal (as I’m not sure why my fitbit isn’t syncing and I’m currently not in the mood to get a new one), but will be trying to ensure that I’m moving around a good portion of the day.

So I know that I stated that I wasn’t going to set a step goal—this was due to the fact that neither my phone or my computer is syncing my fitbit zip and I haven’t felt like getting a new fitbit (the zip still works fine). But I did decide to set a mini-step goal—150,000 steps. This meant that I was aiming at only about 5,000 steps a day, which during self-isolation should be totally doable. I made a tracker in my journal that looked like a little road, spread out over two pages. Each dot (since it’s a dot journal) equaled 1,000 steps and I made note of both the daily total and then the running total. The total amount of steps for June was 202,542—there was only one day that I was below the 5K-minimum. So this is probably how I’m going to keep track of my steps—will stick with 5K/day for awhile and then slowly start increasing it back up towards 10-14K/day.

2) Daily workouts—I’m thinking of bouncing between several different programs right now (Morning Meltdown 100, LIIFT4, Country Heat, and Yoga Booty Ballet) to keep my interest going.

June BeachbodyonDemand Workout Tracker

I managed to workout every single day during June—the first week of the month was doing different programs, and then on the 8th I recommitted to doing Morning Meltdown 100, which will take me through to September 15th.

3) Reading at least 2 non-fiction books

I managed to finish reading two non-fiction books over the course of the month. It probably should have been at least one or two more than that—but then I got into re-reading other books and never got back to finish some of the other non-fiction books that I started. The two non-fiction books that I finished were:

“Find what you were born for: discover your inborn skills, forge your own path and live the life you want; Maximize your self-confidence” by Zoe McKey

This book talks about unearthing what could be your strong innate abilities (these abilities are divided into nine different categories). The nine categories are: linguistic and verbal intelligence (you’re good with words), logic/mathematical intelligence (you’re good with numbers and solving logic problems), visual/spatial intelligence (you’re good with pictures), body movement intelligence (you’re good at sports), musical intelligence (you’re good at music and rhythm—you can play at least one musical instrument or you can sing), interpersonal intelligence (you’re good with people and communication), intrapersonal intelligence (you’re good at analyzing things), naturalist intelligence (you’re good at understanding the natural world), and existential intelligence (you’re good at understanding the supernatural world).

The book goes into each one, and shares the key characteristics of each type—technically if you match more than four of the traits, you’re “gifted” in that area. Luckily we can all excel in more than one area. For example as I was reading the book I realized that my main areas included logic/mathematical intelligence because I enjoy solving mysteries, I can solve logic problems, I’m usually good at (and enjoy) math, I’ve always been interested in scientific discoveries and experiments (I mean I should—I have my damn PhD), and I’m both an abstract thinker and I wonder how things work at times.

I also have good visual/spatial intelligence because I’m good at putting puzzles together, I enjoy art and photography, I can study with charts and pictures, I’m probably one of the few people who can still read a traditional road map (event though I don’t drive), and I consider myself decent at doodling.

I matched two to three key points in one or two other areas:

Naturalistic intelligence, as I have a broad knowledge of nature, I feel the best when I can get outdoors, and I prefer nature to the cities (though due to driving anxiety, I will acknowledge the fact that I will be needing to live in cities that have a decent public transportation system).

Intrapersonal and interpersonal intelligence, as I’m unique, have an analytical mindset, a good listener, have good problem-solving skills, and I’m also a private person.

Areas that I’m not quite as good at: musical intelligence—I did play an musical instrument (flute) through most of my public school years (6th through 10th), but I was basically tone deaf, couldn’t afford lessons, and the teachers weren’t into really helping me learn how to play—they were in it for the ones who could understand the music and/or afford the private lessons outside of class. Then there is body-movement intelligence—I’m not good at sports, and I dance like I have two left feet. I’m working on improving my linguistic and verbal intelligence.

Since I now know areas that I’m good in, okay in, bad in, and need to improve in—I think I will be able to slowly start developing a new master plan for various areas of life (career, fitness/health, personal/professional development, and crafts).

I would rate the book at probably a four out of five stars—mainly because it doesn’t give that many ideas on how to improve various areas.

The second book I finished was “Mind Mapping: Improve Memory, Concentration, Communication, Organization, Creativity, and Time Management” by Kam Knight

This book was going a little more in-depth on the different ways one can use mind mapping in day-to-day life. This is actually something that I’m going to be trying to do more of over the next few weeks/months as one thing I have been struggling with are content ideas for the blog.

I would also give this book a four and a half star rating—great content, and ideas for using something basic in day-to-day life.

4) Personal/Professional Development—listening to podcasts, working through various e-courses, networking, and interacting more on linkedin.

In terms of personal and professional development I managed to get a bit accomplished during the month of June—most importantly realizing that it shouldn’t be a race to see how many small e-courses I could get finished, but rather I should be slowing down and actually reflecting on the various assignments from each course.

I’m about half way through with a advance course within the Cheeky Scientist Association (Data Science Syndicate), and while I’ve finished one or two others I will probably go back and look at the questions after each module and try to reflect on them again as I’m still working on determining my industry transition path.

I’ve also finished several small e-courses as well (usually on SkillShare or SkillSuccess), and those courses were:

            Productivity strategies for success (on skillshare)

            Writer’s toolkit: 6 steps to a successful writing habit (skillshare)

            Work It Daily: Professional Strength Assessment (course offered by work it daily)

            Project Organization (A to-do list that works) (on SkillShare)

            Discover Your Dream Job: Find Your True Meaning (on SkillSuccess)

I managed to learn a little from each one—namely 1) have my own definition of success (it differs for everyone), 2) everyone has their own ways of getting organized; and 3) it’s hard to get organized when you still have no idea of what your long term goals are.

I haven’t really been listening to podcasts lately—mainly because either 1) I’m listening to a ‘lecture’ on one of the e-courses, or 2) I haven’t felt like finding the I-buds for the phone. Though I am going to try to do better during the next few months and listen hopefully at least one podcast a week (working up to one podcast a day). I am also going to try to spend more time on linkedin and reading more business/industry related news as well.

5) Money log/weekly check-ins/No Spend Days—trying to work up to no spend weeks and have a bare minimum spend month

Okay, so I haven’t been doing weekly blog check-ins in terms of no spend days—but I did have a nice page in the journal that I used for keeping track of no-spend days. Overall, I managed basically three weeks of no spending. Money was only spent during eight days last month on something (either an new e-course, or books, or both). The plan now is that July will hopefully be a totally no spend month (not counting setting up bills, and any pre-ordered books).

6) Continue working on devising a goal list and breaking it down, plus working on various different ways to translate those goals into an overall editorial calendar for the different areas I want to focus on: the blog, personal/professional development, fitness & health/mental health/crafts.

So this goal is still a work in progress—namely in trying to figure out matrix for measuring certain goals (health/fitness related) that isn’t relying on the scale. Also I’ve realized that instead of trying to play around with different matrixes I’d been going with the first one I set up years ago—which in part relays on the scale for a measurement. So moving forward I need to figure out the long term goals (which for at least health/fitness should be pretty damn easy—getting into the best shape of my life and being outdoors more), and then figuring out how to break all the goals down into smaller steps.

So what will the goals for July include?

At least 155,000 steps (since I’ve made a tracker for the journal, it is easy enough to write down the numbers at the end of the day)

Continuing Morning Meltdown 100 (Days 24-54)

Reading (or finishing) at least 2 non-fiction books

No Spend Days/No Spend Weeks/and hopefully no spend month

Finish the Data Science Syndicate program

Finish at least 3 other short e-courses

And finally,

Continue working on devising a goal list and breaking it down, plus working on various different ways to translate those goals into an overall editorial calendar for the different areas I want to focus on: the blog, personal/professional development, fitness & health/mental health/crafts.

Then remember: “Progress over Perfection” and “Don’t fear failure. Fear being in the same place next year”

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