Tag: Books

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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What ties the Montgomery generations together? Cheese, ink, & family

Welcome back to Colorado, and the next generation of Montgomerys.

Bittersweet Promises is the ‘kick-off’ book for Montgomery Ink Legacy series—which will be following all the ‘kids’ of the original Montgomerys as they navigate adulthood—honoring their parents’ legacy—but at the same time carving their own paths.

Bittersweet Promises is Leif and Brooke’s story.

Leif is all grown up, and while he’s opened another tattoo shop—he’s still figuring out life…

Like will he find the type of connection he had years ago in Paris??

Brooke is now a single mother, who packed everything up and moved back to Denver—taking a professor position at the local university.

As they start to unpack, a neighbor offers to rope her cousin into helping them unpack—and who is the cousin—none other than Leif Montgomery…

Their paths haven’t crossed in years…since Paris…can they talk and find their way back to each other?

They both have issues to work through…

Leif still struggles with early childhood memories, and trying to figure out who is sending him ‘odd messages’.

Brooke is trying to her son settled, and get a lab up and running…and not everyone is happy to see her…

Will they overcome their obstacles and find their way back to each other?

The answers…plus guest appearances by numerous Montgomerys can be found within the pages of Bittersweet Promises—which is now available for purchase everywhere.

I absolutely loved this book and the premise for the series—the next generation of Montgomery kids all grown up and making their own paths. What I really love—is the glimpse of the original Montgomerys—because lets face it, I don’t see any of the Montgomerys just sitting back and letting their kids face the unknown and possible dangers.

Of course, there is cheese, snarkiness, and just a feeling of coming home when you start reading any book within the Montgomery Ink World.

I’m looking forward to the next several books in the series, and can’t wait to read Lake’s story.

Bittersweet Promises, Montgomery Ink Legacy #1 is a five out five star book

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A Review of UNLIKE A BOSS: Positive Leadership Skills for Everyone

I absolutely loved this book.

A book on positive leadership, but one that also ‘highlighted’ the ‘bad’ leadership qualities as well, and it is a book I think should be mandatory reading for anyone heading into any type of leadership role.

While the author was drawing on his years in the financial industry—I saw the parallels of academia…

Truthfully, the book highlighted things that seem like ‘common’ sense…but also seem to be lacking in society.

I also think this would make a wonderful book for just about anyone to read…because lets face—we’re all leaders at one point in our lives…

I give UNLIKE A BOSS five out five stars and recommend it for any book club to read and talk about.

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Review of Inked Temptation: The end of an ‘era’

Welcome back to the Montgomery Ink world! We’re back in Fort Collins, Colorado and Archer is finally getting his happily-ever-after.

Inked Temptation takes place about a year or so after Inked Craving and features Archer and Killian.

Archer is the last ‘single’ Montgomery…and he’s trying to figure out what he wants after his marriage ended…Yes, Marc is no longer in the picture…

He decides to do a lot of the remodeling of a cabin on his own…and literally falls for his neighbor…

Killian is trying to make peace with his past and wanting to be left alone with his dog…

While the ‘neighbors’ might be growly towards each other…maybe they’re just what the other needs…

Though someone seems to be out to cause problems for Killian…

Will these two realize that while they may not be ‘perfect’, they’re ‘perfect’ for each other?

The answer to that question, plus finding out who is causing problems for Killian, in addition to seeing all the Montgomerys can be found within the pages of ‘Inked Temptation’.

I absolutely adored the book and was happy to see Archer getting his happily-ever-after (Marc just didn’t seem like the ‘fit’ for him). While I’m ‘sad’ to see the end of this group of Montgomerys—I can’t wait to see what is in store with the next generation…I’m going to assume a little ink, and probably a whole lot of cheese.

I give Inked Temptation five out of five stars and highly recommend any Montgomery Ink book as a jumping off point into the Montgomery Ink World.

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Six months down…six months to go…June Goals in Review

So, we’re in July—which means we’re halfway through 2022. When we think about how much ‘time’ is left in the year, we can look at it as: six months; or 184 days; roughly 26.3 weeks; or 4,416 hours.

Whoever is playing with the voodoo doll for the year—please put it down…

The year isn’t mellowing at all…and seems to be trying to spiral downhill faster and faster each month…

The supreme court overturned Roe v Wade towards the end of June…stating that the states should be allowed to dictate a women’s health…FYI: there is the separation of church and state (not to mention freedom of religion) within the Constitution for a damn reason.

Thanks to six jackasses on the court (all of which should be impeached for lying under oath—opinion on Roe v Wade is usually asked during their confirmation hearings and at least five stated it was law) I have to add another layer to the job search (figuring out which companies are going to support women’s right to choose).

Needless to say—the anxiety has been acting up royally.

Now it is easier to get a damn assault rifle than it is for a woman to get life saving medical care.

It’s time to end the filibuster, expand the court, and enact term limits for both the Supreme Court and Congress.

In terms of the total number of cases of the virus within the US, when I published ‘May in Review’ on June 1st, I noted that we had reached a little over 85.9 million cases and now as of July 1st —we have reached just a little over 89.3 million cases (an increase of a about 3.4 million cases). Numbers are going back up—in part to the different variants of the omicron sub-strain of the SARS-CoV2 virus.

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

As I alluded to last month, I’m going to focus on my strengths and values moving forward this summer: knowledge, creativity, curiosity, spirituality, evolution/transformation (values), learner, intellection, input, achiever, and deliberative (strengths).

So before setting goals for July (and possibly the rest of the year), its time to look back at the goals I set for June and see how I did with each of them. The goals for June included:

  1. At least 130-150,000 steps
  2. At least one weekly walk at Boomer Lake, and at least five to ten minutes of intentional movement a day
  3. Finish two non-fiction books that I’ve started
  4. Read at least two-to-five fiction books (having at least one mini-book review written and published)
  5. Recommit to the no spend days/no spend week/limited spending challenge (aiming for at least twelve days)
  6. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, and daily oracle card drawings
  7. Craft time (aim to work on Rolex’s memorial tapestry)
  8. Working through at least one module of a personal/professional development e-course (aim to finish LinkedIn Unlocked)
  9. Writing, writing, and more writing

So how did I do with each of them?

130-150,000 steps:

I managed to get a little over 144,000 steps in for the month…144,303 steps to be exact. I managed to be somewhere in between the minimum and maximum in terms of steps—I would have been able to hit and surpass the goal if the weather had been slightly cooler (I only managed two walks up at Boomer this past month).

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

I managed two walks up at Boomer this past month. We’re in summer—which means that our daily temperatures are ranging somewhere in the 90s to 100s. The two mornings that I managed were two days that we had ‘cold’ fronts moving through the state.

I’m still working on trying to ensure that I’m doing five to ten minutes a day of intentional movement…it’s difficult to get in, when you have a 100 pound dog sprawled across your bedroom floor a good portion of the day. Both Boozer and Chaos basically are my ‘shadows’ for majority of the day…workouts might be ‘returning’ in the evenings when everyone else is home and I can ‘lock’ the dogs out of the room for thirty minutes or so.

Finish two (of the many) non-fiction books I’ve started to read. I managed to read:

  1. The First Fossil Hunters: Dinosaurs, Mammoths, and Myth in Greek and Roman Times by Adrienne Mayor
  2. UNLIKE A BOSS: Positive Leadership Skills You Wish Your Manager Had by Alexander N. Andrews

Read at least two-to-five fiction books (having at least one mini book review written and published). I managed to read:

‘Re-reads’ included the entire Gansett Island series (currently at 24 books) by Marie Force–the 25th book is scheduled to be released on July 19th; and I also read the Buchanan/Renard/MacKenna family series (currently at 13 books) by Julie Garwood, as the 14th book is also due to be released on July 19th.

The ‘new’ books that I read this past month included:

  1. Montgomery Bites (Anthology & Cookbook) by Carrie Ann Ryan & Suzanne Johnson (book review written)
  2. Forever with Me (Everhart Brothers #4) by Claudia Burgoa
  3. Can’t Help Love (Paradise Bay Billionaire Brothers #2) by Claudia Burgoa
  4. Hidden Waters (Tatter & Torn #3) by Catherine Cowles
  5. Inked Temptations (Montgomery Ink: Fort Collins #5) by Carrie Ann Ryan (Book review coming early July)

Recommit to the no spend days/no spend week/limited spending challenge (aiming for at least 12 days)

I decided last month that the new ‘goal’ was to be a little better than the month before. The ‘minimal’ goal for June was set at 12 days of no spending and I managed 16…so slightly over half the month…and that will be the goal for July…at least 16 days of no spending…

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

Well, since summer has made it’s presence known—the time outdoors has been regulated at times to the evening when I take the dogs out, or earlier in the day.

Thanks to various things this month—I need to get back into mediation/sitting quietly, writing in the journal, and doing daily oracle card drawings.

I’ve found that as long as I do a few stretches before bed, I sleep somewhat decently—no stretches, and that is when I toss and turn.

Craft time (work on Rolex’s memorial tapestry):

I created one needlepoint tapestry this month. I decided that before working on Rolex’s memorial tapestry (since it will rather complex), I would do a couple of smaller pieces to get the hang of working with the cotton fabric.

The first one I completed was a flower:

Cotton tapestry #1–freestyle drawn flower…

I still need to work on tying off the fabric and the different types of stitches…but not bad for the first time working with the cotton fabric.

Working through at least one module of a personal/professional development e-course (aim to finish LinkedIn Unlocked)

I managed to finish the LinkedIn Unlocked course (I just need to go back through and make a list of the various action items). It was a really good course that highlighted a couple features of LinkedIn I was unaware of—but am slowly starting to use more often (especially the ‘build your resume’ feature).

Writing, writing, and more writing:

I managed to get some writing done this past month—I’ve been posting on LinkedIn some graphics and slowly introducing the molecular cloning series as posts (I’m also through the ‘planning stage’ of the experiment).

I’m in the planning stages for various projects for the blog and other sites—as I’ve realized that I really need to figure things out, get a portfolio together, and start seriously job hunting…

So how did I do overall: I would say that I managed to meet eighty percent of the goals that I set for June. The reading goal was at 100%, as was the craft goal (different tapestry—but it was finished), the rest were somewhere between sixty and eighty percent and it all averaged out to eighty percent.

July goals will be almost identical, though I know that I won’t be spending huge amounts of time outside, and I’ll be lucky to get a single walk in up at Boomer (so I’m not really going to aim for weekly walks).

We’re entering the second half of the year, and the third quarter. Its time to reset, refocus, and commit to various long term goals: getting a remote position (or starting a freelance business), getting into the best shape of my life, and focusing on my strengths and values: learner, intellection, input, achiever, deliberative; knowledge, creativity, curiosity, spirituality, and evolution/transformation.

So what will be my ‘repetitive’ goals for July? They will include:

  1. At least 135-155,000 steps
  2. At least one 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 (having at least one mini book review written and published)
  5. Recommit to the no spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending challenge (aiming for at least 16 days)
  6. Time outdoors (probably briefly in the evenings), mediation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, and daily oracle card drwings
  7. Craft time (work on a needlepoint project and/or create some jewelry)
  8. Working through at least one module of a personal/professional development course (looking at possibly either seven best ways to get paid as a writer and/or the sorthcourse on podcasting)
  9. Writing, writing, and more writing

These are goals that align with various strengths/values: learning/knowledge, creativity, curiosity, spirituality, and evolution/growth.

I recreated a new bingo card for the second half of the year, and will be creating a bingo card for the third quarter and then for July (some of these goals will be finding their way to that bingo card). I’ll also be working on the multi-prong personal/professional development plan that I originally tried to put together last month (and ended up having an anxiety attack over).

I mentioned to a couple of people that my biggest ‘problem’ is that I’m overzealous and try to cram months worth of ideas/goals into a shorter time period, and then allow my inner critic/imposter syndrome to drag me back into the comfort zone when I ‘fail’ to achieve a goal in say five days when in reality it would take five weeks to achieve the goal.

I also will be trying to decide on a new web addy for the blog/website, as I still want to have a multi-facet site (the ‘professional’ communication side and the ‘personal’ hobby/creative/reflective side)…and everything is up for renewal this coming month.

I’m actually thinking of restarting both the 90-day content creation/research challenge as well as restarting the 101 goals in 1001-day challenge (I’ve tried this one several times; latest was doubling the time frame to 2002 days).

The goal of restarting both is to be a little more focused on things (at least in terms of the large number of goals).

I truthfully don’t think a single month has gone ‘smoothly’ so far this year…I’m just trying to roll with the tide and punches…

I deleted the one game from the kindle again, and once I feel like I’m on ‘auto-buy’ again, I’ll save things on the computer, shutdown the computer and go outside for a few minutes (minus all electronics).

How are you handling the stress that is 2022?

Namaste….

No Comments BookscareerCraftsfinancesfitnessHealthLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesMonth in Reviewno spend challengesPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

Cancer New Moon Goals: Utilizing the 90-day Content Research Project & Reading

So the moon will be transitioning through the Cancer constellation tonight—marking the sixth new moon of the year; and somehow there are only two more days left in June, and then 2022 is halfway over.

That means I should be spending a good chunk of the next few days, reflecting on the past six months, the goals I’d set and whether or not I’ve reached them…and whether or not I’d be reaching them by the end of 2022. As of Friday, there will only be 184 days left in 2022…

If one looks to the book ‘Moonology: working with the magic of lunar cycles’ by Yasmin Boland, there are various things that one can focus on during the Cancer new moon. They include:

  1. Family time (checking in with relatives)
  2. Banishing insecurity
  3. Get in touch with your caring nurturing side
  4. Review your goals
  5. Take a hot bath

Three out of the five things seem straightforward (family time, reviewing goals, and taking a hot bath). I probably should try to get in touch with various family members (at least through social media), since our paths really don’t cross that much and travel is still currently out of the question (at least for me). I have plenty of family time with my immediate family (since I still live at home and we see my younger brother quite frequently now that he is back in town).

The other two items (banishing insecurity and getting in touch with your caring and nurturing side) may not seem so straightforward, and may actually require more work to begin with.

Since I like what I wrote last year, I thought I’d ‘recycle’ my thoughts on banishing insecurity and getting in touch with ones caring nurturing side.

How I picture these areas:

Caring and nurturing side:

In terms of getting in touch with your caring and nurturing side—basically this means that you’re going to try a little harder this month in terms of self-care. You’re going to try to rephrase negative self-talk into more positive self-talk, you’re going to take time to focus on your breath, and you are going to be more gentle and understanding with yourself.

Banishing Insecurity:

In terms of trying to banish insecurity—this means being honest with yourself in terms of different areas of your life. Do you feel insecure in an area? Fearful? Or are you being overly possessive of things? The best work is to try to identify and work at getting rid of barriers in different areas of life (if possible).

Where do I feel ‘insecure’?

  1. Oral communications (talking in front of people)
  2. Written communications (sharing my writing)

How to work through the ‘insecurities’?

  1. Setting up more coffee/water zoom and/or Google chats
  2. Starting a podcast (or just recording myself talking about various things)
  3. Figure out where I can ‘publish’ different styles of writing (and then work on those projects)

If one also looks to see what house the moon is moving through, it will give you a few other things to also take into perspective. For me, the moon is moving through my ninth house (or my big picture zone). This is all about adventure, travel, and personal development.

While a lot of people will say we’re in the epidemic stage of the virus—I’m still calling it a pandemic, and will still be doing mostly ‘virtual’ traveling (Google meet-ups, zoom meet-ups and so forth). As I mentioned last year: we live in a digital world, so there are others ways of ‘traveling’—reading, communicating with others (email, online meetings, phone calls), and writing (creative, poetry, and journaling). So what are some of the things that one can do in regards to their ninth house?

  1. Find a way to explore the world
  2. Read those books you know you should be reading
  3. Do a personal development course
  4. Manifest a new spiritual teacher
  5. Think about what you have faith in–and what you don’t
  6. Make a cyber pal on the other side of the world
  7. Have something you’ve written published

So it seems fitting that the universe is pushing personal development again—I was just talking with a couple of people about this and how I have a bad habit of trying to throw everything on the calendar to do all within a week—instead of spreading out the tasks. I’m still working on ‘slowing down’ and processing what I’ve learned and also figuring out how to share it with the world.

So what are a few goals that I can set during this time?

  1. ‘Explore the world’–do research over different countries, geographical landmarks, historical landmarks, (items from my ’90-day content challenge creation project
  2. Reading–finish the follow books: ‘Unlike a Boss: Positive People Leadership Skills You Wish Your Manager Had by Alexander ANdrews; A Short History of Humanity: A New Hisotry of Old Europe by Johannes Krause & Thomas Trappe; and Dinosaurs Rediscovered: The Scientific Revolution in Paleontology by M.J. Benton
  3. Start (and hopefully finish) at least one personal/professional development course
  4. Start participating in the 100 days of coding challenge that starts July 1st (and runs through Oct 8)
  5. Work on getting back into my evening oracle card drawings and sitting quietly

I originally had the courses listed out (and will copy them out into a journal)–but I also developed a major anxiety attack (I’d say an EF4) due to at first putting too many courses down and thinking I could finish them all within a two-to-four week period (I mean I could if I didn’t take any time to reflect and try to implement what I had ‘learned’).

In addition I will also try to be working on developing my personal/professional development plan (and not try to throw everything onto it and assume that I can accomplish everything in the quickest amount of time).

Overall, the biggest goals for this period will be writing, self-reflection, and pushing myself a little more each day to get out of my comfort zone. Staying within the comfort zone won’t help me get a remote position or start a freelance business—all it will do is keep me within the lab…it’s time to start breaking out…

And always remember: Progress over perfection.

What is one of your Cancer goals?

Namaste…

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What make the Montgomery Ink World go round? Family and Food….

Welcome back to Denver and the Montgomery Ink world!

Montgomery Ink Bites is a anthology and cookbook collaboration between Carrie Ann Ryan and Suzanne M. Johnson.

It is a time to check-in with the ‘original’ Montgomery siblings that kick-started the Montgomery Ink world, and get some tasty recipes with each story.

So what’s the latest with the Denver crew?

Are Austin and Sierra ready to send Leif to college??

Spend Valentine’s Day with Decker, Miranda, and their crew…

Then spend some quality time with Montgomery-Dodds…

See what brings Griffin and Autumn to New Orleans…

Catch up with Maya, Jake, and Border on vacation…

Spend some time with Tabby, Alex, and their twins…and of course cheese…

Can Storm and the rest of the family pull off his surprise for Everly?

Then finally check in with Wes and Jillian, and the ‘surprise’ they find when they work to fix a plumbing leak….

I loved checking in with the original Montgomery crew and seeing how everyone was doing.

Plus—the recipes!!

Each short story also includes at the end—several original recipes by Suzanne Johnson that fit each family.

I have several ‘bookmarked’ to try—including the cheesy chicken enchiladas, the cheesesteak stuffed peppers, raspberry dark chocolate fudge, s’mores cinnamon rolls, and peanut butter and chocolate cupcakes.

I loved being able to check back in with the Denver branch of the family, and while I know we’ll be seeing everyone in various spin-offs—I would love to see each ‘branch’ get their own cookbook…..

So, pull up seat, grab a drink, and possibly a pad of paper and an pen (to start the grocery list) and enjoy spending time with the various members of the Denver branch of the family.

Carrie Ann never disappoints, and I’ll be checking out Suzanne Johnson’s other collaborative cookbooks with other authors…

I give Montgomery Ink Bites five out of five stars and highly recommend it to anyone who loves to read or to cook…

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Time to make plans, read, and write: Taurus New Moon Goals

So the moon is going to be transitioning through the Taurus constellation this weekend (either tonight or tomorrow night—depending on where you are in the world), bringing us our fifth new moon of the year, and either the second new moon of April or the May new moon. We will more or less be a third of the way through 2022. It seems each year, the ‘roller coaster’ ride of life is getting a little more ‘insane’—I’m personally ready for things to settle down, but I’m pretty sure that it won’t be happening anytime soon.

Looking back over the past year or two—I didn’t set any goals for the Taurus new moon during 2020 (I was in an angry haze due to the pandemic and the anti-science/vaccine movements), and I set them last year (when I had my hopes that everything was turning around).

Are things turning around? In terms of the pandemic—slightly, there are vaccines but there are also new variants that may be able to escape the immune system. So, I’m afraid that we’re going to be living in a world where one will have to make the decision on whether or not traveling; working in an office, and so forth is worth the risk (however slight) of contracting the virus.

Looking to the book ‘Moonology’, there are several things that one can focus on during the Taurus new moon, and they include:

  1. Make a financial plan
  2. Love yourself (i.e. Make a list of your values and ask yourself if you’re living your life in a way that allows you to honor those values. If the answer is no–figure out a new plan to allow yourself to honor those values)
  3. Be sensual (i.e. Ask yourself ‘What would/could make my life better?’)
  4. Character check (Ask yourself–Am I being too stubborn or too lazy?)
  5. Persevere–remember that there is more to life than racing ahead, there is also the journey that should be enjoyed as well (or as much as possible). Slow and steady will win the day.

In addition, the new moon in Taurus is also moving through my seventh house, or my “love zone”. This zone can also be referred to as the relationship zone as well. So what are some of the things that one can do during this time in regards to the seventh house?

  1. Go through old love letters and get rid of at least some of them
  2. If you’re single and feeling brave, try online dating
  3. Ask your parents about their ideas on how to make love (aka a relationship) work
  4. Recommit to your partner
  5. If you hurt a past lover, admit you were wrong and apologize to them
  6. Make a list of the qualities you look for in a partner

Since we’re still in a pandemic (I don’t care of states and countries are opening back up, when there are still over half a million (plus) new cases worldwide a day—it’s still a pandemic), I’m going to focus more on the financial/personal development aspects of things. While most would say it isn’t good to totally ignore the current house—I’m not ignoring it per say—I’m just not putting all my focus on it.

I like what I wrote last year, and therefore am going to ‘recycle’ it:

Yes—there is online dating, but that isn’t something I want to be focusing on right now, instead I’m going to focus on improving myself and then worry about possible dating issues. Also, I don’t have the time or energy to put into the dating scene and finding someone. In terms of relationships and being with someone—I seem to be one of the odd ones that doesn’t mind being alone and unattached. I also know that I still have other things to work out on my own before even attempting to stick my toes into the dating pool.

So my goals for the Taurus new moon include:

            Making a financial plan. I’ve been on a reboot break for over two years now, and the savings account has dwindled down to almost nothing. I still have a couple of ‘high’ credit cards that I need to pay down—therefore, the financial plan will have a ‘role’ in my personal/professional development plan I’m also going to be putting together.

            Start writing daily—I have the ‘hobby’ areas of the blog (photography, travel, and crafts), plus the ‘areas’ that I’m thinking of branching out into for remote writing: scientific, medical, and health communications and copywriting. This means I need to start developing a ‘portfolio’ of different types of pieces (basically—have a ‘landing’ page on the topic & these posts linked to them).

            The topics I’m thinking of writing/learning about: oncology (clinical trials, drug development, pathways—specifically for breast cancer, brain cancer, and liver or pancreas cancer), antibiotic resistance (diseases and how bacteria can obtain resistance), microbiomes (specifically gut and vaginal), and then some basics—molecular cloning, the cell, biofuels, GMOs, and vaccines.

            Continue reading various personal/professional development books.

            Go through the clothes and box up t-shirts that no longer fit well and figure out where to donate them.

            Continue with daily intentional movement, and getting back into a meditation routine.

While the goals seem to be on a repetitive loop from year to year (new moon to new moon; or full moon to full moon)—there is progress that is made, steps that are so small they may not be noticeable to the stranger’s eye. When I started this blog almost five years ago, it was with the intention of self-accountability on this journey of rediscovery—so while others may not notice the progress, trust me when I say progress has been made—and sometimes that progress is to admit that I’ve fallen off ‘track’ and am working my way back onto the track.

What are your goals for the Taurus New Moon?

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Introducing the first of the Wilder Brothers: Eli

Welcome to Texas, and the Wilder brothers series.

This is a ‘spin-off’ series focusing on Eliza’s brothers (who were first briefly introduced in Inked Obsession [book two of the Montgomery Ink: Fort Collins mini-series]).

One Way Back to Me is the first in the series and focuses on Eli and Alexis and takes place about two years after ‘A Night for Us’ (the free prequel to the series).

Eli and his brothers bought land from a retired Air Force general, and are slowly figuring out the ‘civilian’ life—including how to run a resort and winery.

Each brother has their own little piece, and the resort and winery are going well—but they need a wedding coordinator.

They’ve gone through two wedding coordinators in two years, and are desperate for one that will last.

Who should apply for the job—the one woman that Eli didn’t think he’d ever see again—Alexis.

Alexis applies for the job, as she is need of a new beginning after the disastrous end to her marriage.

The brothers hire her on as the new wedding coordinator for the Wilder Retreat and Winery.

Alexis and Eli realize that their attraction to each other wasn’t just a ‘one-night’ thing.

While they’re trying to figure out their relationship—someone comes ‘knocking’.

What does Alexis’s ex want? How big of a pain will the Dodge family be, and who is being hired as the top chef???

The answers to those questions, and a ‘surprise’ visit from a few familiar faces from Colorado can be found within the pages of ‘One Way Back to Me’.

I absolutely loved this book and the introduction of Eliza’s brothers. I will freely admit that when I read she had six brothers—I had my fingers crossed that there would be another spinoff series.

Carrie Ann did not disappoint with this book. I loved Eli and Alexis’s story, and am going to have to hold off until all of the Wilder boys get their happily-ever-after before I can decide on my ‘favorite’.

So, grab a drink, pull up a chair and settle in to find out what the Wilder boys are up to and I’m hoping to see a glimpse of Eliza and family in each additional book.

I give ‘One Way Back to Me’ five out of five stars and highly recommend it to anyone and everyone.

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Planning, planning, and more planning: Libra Full Moon Goals

Nothing like realizing your computer is acting up several hours too late. While I ‘saved’ the draft of this post—it didn’t actually ‘save’. So, lets see if I can remember what I had wrote last night…or, the post could be slightly better (or slightly worse) than I’d originally planned.

So the moon will be transitioning through the Libra constellation today—marking the fourth full moon of the year.

Currently it is hard to tell which direction we’re moving in with regards to the SARS-CoV2 virus. Yes, there are vaccines for everyone over the age of five (and boosters for those over the age of 12—though Pfizer has put in for emergency filing for boosters for children), and hopefully soon there will be the boosters for six months to four-year olds. But, there is the second omicron variant starting to make its way to the ‘top’—so we’ll have to see how things go.

Nothing is heading in the right direction in terms of the world (and I’m going to leave it at that for now). I’d mentioned for the past few years that I’ve wanted to try to get a good picture of the full moon using the longer lens and tripod. Well, I think the tripod is a little too short—since I have to sit behind it (instead of just leaning over slightly), so there probably won’t be any pictures of a full moon for a while.

So looking to the book ‘Moonology: working with the magic of lunar cycles’ by Yasmin Boland here are the top five questions that one may meditate/think on during this time are:

Have I been too concerned with appearances in general?

Have I been thinking too much about others and neglecting my own needs?

Have I been too easily influenced, gullible, or unable to decide for myself?

Have I been living my life through someone else?

Have I spent enough time beautifying my life?

If I were to number the above questions one-to-five, my answers would be as followed:

  1. I’ve never been one to be overly concerned with appearances even before the pandemic struck. I know that certain situations require you to dress a certain way (job interviews, career fairs, and so forth)—but I’m not going to stress and worry if people like how I’m dressed. I’d prefer to be comfortable in my clothes and appearance.
  2. I would say that I’m not thinking too much about others to the point I’m neglecting my own needs. Though, I would say that I’m perhaps being a little too hyper-focused on certain areas that I’m neglecting other areas.
  3. So, last year I talked about how I felt I’d just been ‘floating’ along with no clear ‘map/direction’ in my career. I don’t think this was due to being ‘easily influenced, gullible, or being unable to decide for myself’. I think it was due to not knowing what other options there were and not knowing how to position myself for those roles. I know have an idea of the direction I want to go in, and I’m starting to draw the map as I move forward.
  4. Well—do fictional characters count? Okay, seriously I don’t think I’ve been living my life through other people. True, I haven’t been traveling much (so I’ve been looking at pictures of different places that other people post)—but we’re still dealing with the pandemic, and therefore I don’t plan on traveling too much for the foreseeable future. We may follow the paths of others, and we either add our own unique stamp to the path, or realize we’re on the wrong path and forage a new one. I’ve jumped off the academic path, and am now foraging a path towards industry or freelance work.
  5. While I don’t put much thought into what others think of my life, I am trying to make changes—changes that will help improve my mental health. It has been shown that having too much clutter can be distracting and lead to anxiety and stress—and I’ll admit that from time to time I can become a ‘pack-rat’. So this is something I’m working on changing, and also working on developing my own definition of ‘minimalism’ (figuring out what I don’t need a lot of, and what I like having a lot of). Right now I’m thinking more of working outside in the yards and trying to improve on the flower gardens (or at least what use to be the flower gardens).

One can also look to see what house the moon is moving through as well. For me, the Libra full moon is moving through my 12th house, or my secrets zone. This is the time to actually take some time for one self—meditate, practice yoga, and just work to find some balance.

So the 12th house this year is coming at a time when the world is slowly going to hell in a hand basket. There is still the pandemic raging, and the illegal invasion of Ukraine by Russia, Russia issues ‘warnings’ to various other countries, and probably numerous other travesties that aren’t being covered by the news. I no longer try to keep up with the numbers (except monthly), since people can do in-home testing and they may (or may not) report themselves to the local health department if they test positive. Since booster shots are now available for the three main vaccines, I will be making an appointment over the next few weeks to go and get mine (a little added protection against the two omicron strains).

For me, the Libra full moon and the twelfth house means a time to focus on my plans for the future, and my self in the present.

So my list of goals for the Libra full moon will include:

  1. Finish ‘fleshing’ out my twelve-month plan that I started under the Aries new moon (focusing on career/professional development, health/wellness, personal development/finances/spirituality, and hobbies/crafts). Will be a continuation of expanding my focal points from last year (the main idea from the book ‘The Renaissance Soul: How to make your passions your life—a creative and practical guide’ by Margaret Lobensteine).
  2. Create the ‘May brain-dump’ page; basically try to get all ideas and thoughts for the month of May onto paper. This will allow me to see pages/posts that I would like to create and give some direction to the month (possibly also convert it into the start of an editorial calendar).
  3. Develop a rough draft of a personal/professional development plan (ties in with the finishing of my ‘twelve-month plan’).
  4. Get back into my evening meditations, and possibly start doing some light yoga as well.
  5. Start working through my to-do list for ensuring the transition to a remote writing position and/or starting my own freelance business.

While remembering: ‘Progress over Perfection’ and ‘you can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last chapter’.

What are your plans for the Libra full moon?

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