Tag: finances

Entering the second fall in self-isolation with a new bookcase, craft supplies, and books

So it’s that time again–for a check-in on my yearlong limited spending challenge.

We’re two-thirds of the way through 2021, and I’ve realized that I haven’t quite hit the stride I did when I started the challenge (January was the best month to date for this particular challenge).

My limited spending challenge is just that–I’m trying to limit my spending by dividing things into two groups (or categories): needed items and splurges.

So I did really well in January, and then started slipping each month a little more. I planned to ‘rebound’ and start honoring the challenge again in June, did fairly well for the month, did okay during July (though there will always be some type of minor splurges), and did semi-okay again this month (if one ignores the book splurges).

Hopefully, the book splurges (at least those that aren’t from the ‘freebie announcement emails’) will start to go back down during the next few months. While I did buy quite a few e-books this month, several of them are in terms of the professional direction I’m thinking of going in: freelance writing.

So how did August go in terms of purchases/splurges?

I bought myself a bookcase/nightstand to replace the haphazard one I’ve created over the years. This will also give me storage for the numerous books that I bought this month as well. In addition I bought a few more craft supplies (including a glue gun) to help me get through the fall and winter in semi-isolation.

Then there are the books (I don’t think a month will go by without at least a small splurge on books). The books I bought during August include:

Electronic books:

  1. How to Launch a Freelance Copywriting Business: Creative Writing for a Living by Jules Horne
  2. The Freelance Content Marketing Writer: Find your perfect clients, make tons of money, and build a business you love by Jennifer Goforth Gregory
  3. Start Your Own Freelance Writing Business: The Complete Guide to Starting and Scaling from Scratch by Laura Briggs and the Staff of Entrepreneur Media
  4. The Essential Guide to Freelance Writing: How to Write, Work, and Thrive on Your Own Terms by Zachary Petit
  5. Here with Me (The Adair Family #1) by Samantha Young
  6. Black Ops Mates (Complete Series-Lion Shifter Romance Box Set) by Ruby Knoxx
  7. One Night Years Ago (Sharp’s Cove #1) by J.R. Pace
  8. Two Favors Repaid (Sharp’s Cove #2) by J.R. Pace
  9. Three Times Ablaze (Sharp’s Cove #3) by J.R. Pace
  10. JET (Books 1-3) by Russell Blake
  11. The Power of Reinvention: Personal Stories of How Our Greatest Challenges Become the Catalyst to Reinvent our Life! by Mags Thomson, Irene Anggreeni, Rachel Claire Farnsworth, Emma Smillie, Dr. Trinise White-Foster, Marie Dobenesque, Silika Thor, Martin Gillespie, and Einavi Avni
  12. Just Tell Me What I Want: How to Find Your Purpose When You Have No Idea What It Is by Sara Kravitz
  13. Slightly Off Balance by Kaylie Hunter
  14. New Girl in Town (Olivia Knight FBI #1) by Elle Gray
  15. Weakest Lynx (The Lynx Series #1) by Fiona Quinn
  16. Deadly Act (Kylie Hatfield Series #1) by Mary Stone and Bella Cross
  17. Catnip & Curses (The Faerie Files #2) by Emigh Cannaday Book Read & Review coming soon
  18. Phoenix Rising (Complete Series) by Annie Anderson
  19. I Want to Do All the Things: Finding Balance as a Polymath, Multipotenialite, and Renaissance Soul by Arcadia Page Book Read

Physical Books:

  1. America Before: The Key to Earth’s Lost Civilizations by Graham Hancock
  2. Lost Civilizations: The Secret Histories & Suppressed Technologies of the Ancients by Jim Willis
  3. Plagues, Pandemics, and Viruses: From the Plague of Athens to Covid-19 by Heather Quinlan
  4. The Mayan Calendar & the Transformation of Consciousness by Carl Johan Calleman
  5. Maya Cosmos: Three Thousand Years on the Shaman’s Path by David Freidel
  6. Statistics for Dummies by Deborah J. Rumsey
  7. Statistics for Absolute Beginners by Oliver Theobald
  8. Biostatistics for Dummies by John Pezzulo
  9. Supernatural: Meeting with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind by Graham Hancock
  10. The Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self Love (2nd Edition) by Sonya Renee Taylor
  11. Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach (4th Edition) by Evelyn Tribole

Several of the ‘physical’ books fell under the personal/professional development area, while others were bought as possible ‘reference’ books for short story ideas. Though they were also bought because I’m interested in the topic (early human history). In addition several of the e-books also fell into the personal/professional development area–and as noted above, I’ve read one of them.

The books on freelancing writing (and how to start a freelance business) were bought mainly because that is the direction I’m really leaning in for my career transition. The transition is going to be a ‘mixed’ niche (science/medical writing along with personal/professional development, crafts/hobbies, and spirituality) that might be heavy in one area to begin with, but even out as I find my footing as a freelance writer.

So, yes numerous books were bought (probably on par with April or May, possibly even June)—but that has always been my weakness—books. I’m an avid reader who has absolutely no problem buying fifteen to forty new books when I still have a couple hundred on my e-reader that I haven’t read yet.

The bookcase/nightstand has been needed for quite awhile; I just hadn’t gotten around to getting one yet. The craft supplies were also deemed semi-essential as the pandemic is still raging, and I foresee myself staying in semi-isolation (weekly walk to get the weekend newspaper, and possibly monthly walks at Boomer Lake with a mask) until at least spring 2022.

I should hopefully be able to curb my impulsive e-book buying starting this month, as I’m going to be working on expanding my writing samples (possibly introducing a new landing page—‘portfolio’), and slowly getting my freelance/remote/contract writing business up and running this fall and winter.

For my inner shiny object/squirrel lover: Who is a ‘new’ to you author that you’ve found lately?

No Comments financesLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesno spend challengesPersonal DevelopmentPersonal Development ChallengesReflections

Six months into the limited spending challenge: heading back in the proper direction

So it’s that time of the month again–time for a check-in on my yearlong limited spending challenge.

For those who may be new to the blog, here is a brief recap–I decided at the end of 2020 that instead of trying to do ‘no-spend’ months (and end up splurging), I would ‘limit’ the spending and items would fall into one of two categories: needed and splurges.

I did really well in January on the challenge, and then slowly started slipping since then and the plan was that I’ll start ‘rebounding’ and honoring the challenge again starting in June.

So, while I didn’t do as well as I did in January–I did better than I had for the past two or three months. THere were still some purchases and minor splurging–but nothing like I had done from March through May.

I did buy numerous books (I think I had mentioned it sometime in either 2020 or 2019 on a book review–I’m an impulsive book buyer), and those books were:

Chasing Her Trust by Danielle Pays

Rancher Bears Complete Series by Candace Ayers

Cocker Brothers (1st six book box set) by Faleena Hopkins

The Universe Always has a Plan by Matt Kahn

Awakening your inner shaman by Marcela Lobos

Mesopotamia ‘box set’ by Captivating History

Mesoamerican History ‘box set’ by Captivating History

Grumpy Single Dad by Melinda Minx

Classical mythology A to Z: an encyclopedia of gods & goddesses, heroes & heroines, nymphs, spirits, monsters and places by Annette Giesecke

Cellular and Molecular Immunology

United Nations: A History by Stanley Meisler

The Complete Book of Amulets & talismans by Migene Gonzales-Wippler

The Ancestral power of amulets, talismans, and mascots: folk magic in witchcraft and religion by Nigel Pennick

The compendium of magical beasts: an anatomical study of cryptozoology’s most elusive beings by Dr. Veronica Wigberht-Blackwater

Superstitions: A handbook of folklore, myths, and legends from around the world by D.R. McElroy

Creatures of the deep: in search of the sea’s monsters and the world they live in by Erich Hoyt

Dictionary of witches, wizards, and warlocks: the spells, charms, potions and magic of wizardology by Michael Freze

The door to witchcraft: A New Witch’s guide to history, traditions and modern day spells by Tonya Brown

Secrets of Egyptian spellcasting: amulets, talismans, and magical lifeforms by M.A. Budge & E.A. Wallis

The last set of books (from Classical Mythology through Secrets of Egyptian Spellcasting) are going to be ‘reference books’ for a couple of story ideas that I have bouncing around in my head, in addition to other things–the immunology book is because I’m interested in the topic and thinking of writing a blog post or two on the subject–but didn’t have any ‘reference books’ within reach.

In addition there was another large free sale of e-books, so I managed to get another 58 romance books in a variety of different sub-genera.

I did talk myself out of the one pricey e-course, and instead bought another ‘cheaper’ one that will also be shorter than the other. The additional e-course I bought is: ’15 errors in scientific writing and how to fix them’ on Udemy. It is roughly an hour and a half long, and I’m hoping to work through the course sometime in July (and hopefully not later than August).

So, yes I still ‘splurged’ on books this month–but in terms of the e-books it wasn’t that much (in comparison to earlier months). The physical books were pricey–but since they weren’t trade size paperbacks, the price wasn’t a surprise. I know that people will say that I could have just checked out books from the library-and my response is yes, I could have checked out books–but I prefer to have the ‘reference’ book. I never know when I may want to revisit the topic, and this way I know that the book will always be available.

I’m going to try to stick with the same goal for July, and hopefully ‘be on par’ with January in terms of spending of money. I am slowly learning to curb the impulsive spending, as I realized this wasn’t something I was going to be able to change overnight, and that it would be something to focus on daily.

What are some of your favorite subjects???

No Comments financesLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesno spend challengesPersonal Development ChallengesReflections

Sagittarius goal plan: small steps & a roll of the dice

So the moon has transitioned into its full moon phase and is in the Sagittarius constellation currently. It was also an lunar eclipse this morning as well, but due to the overcast sky and slight fog–I was unable to see it (I was hoping for clear skies and the possiblity of getting a picture).

The Sagittarius moon is the ‘fun energy’ moon, and while this is nice going into the summer months, I’m hoping that it isn’t going to lead to a spike in infections/cases of SARS-CoV2 (since we’re still not technically out of the pandemic yet). Therefore, I’m personally going to use this time for more reflection and aim for a more transformative period moving into the summer.

Every month I look at ‘Moonology: working with the magic of lunar cycles’ by Yasmin Boland to get questinos to reflect on for a day or two that deal with the moon in each zodiac constellation. The questions for the Sagittarius full moon are:

Have I been too flippant, or carefree to the point of being careless, irresponsible, even?

Have I been letting myself down by allowing myself to get distracted and bored?

Have I been overconfident to the point of arrogance, or too preachy?

Have I been a commitment phobe, to my own detriment?

Have I been seeing the bigger picture?

If I were to number the above questions 1-5, my answers would be as follows:

  1. In terms of finances, I would have to say that I’ve been a little too ‘carefree’ lately. While I started a ‘limited-spending’ challenge at teh beginning of the year, I’ve splurged on books for the past four out of five months, but at the same time investing in my professional development (bought some more e-courses). While I’m aiming to go freelance/online/remote/contract in terms of work, I do need to start really focusing on improving in several areas (data analysis/programming, writing/editing different styles/formats, and so forth).
  2. Yes, I have been allowing myself to get distracted (I won’t really say bored, but more of a ‘fear of failure/’imposter syndrome’ feeling) more often lately. One thing I’ve noticed is that I get caught up in the ‘comparison’ trap and that spikes the anxiety, which leads me to look for distractions instead of working on the issue. While I’ve realized that I’m slowly getting better at time and project management (though still having some issues), I need to develop or find some type of productivity tracker to help keep me focused as well.
  3. Nope, I can easily say that I have not been overconfident to the point of arrogance or being too preachy.
  4. Depending on what aspect of life we’re talking about. Yes, I have been a slight commitment phobe to myself (mainly in terms of professional development, and a little on the personal side as well). I’m working on getting better–I think having created the personal/professional development board game is going to help a lot with those areas. I’m also working on giving myself grace and trying to ‘rework’ my mindset in terms of fitness and nutrition. Can’t be labeled a commitment phobe in terms of others since I’m currently not in a relationship, and we’re still in the middle of a pandemic (so it really isn’t a good idea to try to get together with people currently).
  5. What bigger picture are we talking about? In terms of myself–I’m still having ‘troubles’ trying to see/project where I want to be in say five or more years down the road. The bigger picture of my career? I’m slowly getting an idea of what I would like to do–but there is a lot of work to get there (both in terms of skills I need to have at least a basic understanding of, and trying to find clients). I’m also still way more pessimistic than optimistic about things (though possibly not as pessimistic as I was a year ago). But there are still way too many problems right now, that has me wondering if we’re going to survive as a society over the next few decades.

For me, the moon in Sagittarius is also going through my second house (or the cash, property, and values zone). This brings about feelings of one’s financial security, stability, and self-worth. We’re suppose to strive to find a balance between various aspects of life–are we tired of working for others and wanting to strike out on our own–now would be the time to start planning it, or have we been neglecting ourselves and focusing on others?

This zone is popping up when I still have the time to do some serious self-reflection. While the world is slowly trying to reopen, I’m still planning on self-isolation of several more months (I want to see what type of a spike the summer is going to bring) before I think of any type of travel (for either enjoyment or career-related). I’m still working on lowering my bills, and thinking of other ways of earning cash. The idea of having an online/freelance business is really starting to sound appealing, though I need to decide whether to try to go in a single direction to begin with or a combination of different areas (I am leaning more towards the second direction than the first). This could be my ‘new normal’ as we finally ge through this first long pandemic wave of the SARS-CoV2 virus.

My reflection time will be spent on figuring out the freelance/online possibility, but at the same time thinking of how it can also be of help to a changing world, as I noted last year: the world won’t heal itself, and unless we start addressing all of the issues, the world won’t be around long to support us–and there is no planet B.

So the small goal list I have for the Sagittarius full moon includes:

  1. Honor the ‘limited-spending’ challenge during the month of June. I’m going to try to limit it to a single order from Amazon (in addition to any pre-ordered books, and my automatic monthly order). I truthfully have enough books to read, that I need to just stay away from any and all e-book ads.
  2. ‘Track’ my energy, so that I know what time(s) I actually have the energy to do various things (exercise, writing, research, and so forth), and slowly work on ‘transforming’ that into a weekly schedule and editorial calendar.
  3. Roll the dice and see what the next adventure (or adventures) will be in terms of personal and professional development.

Finally, as the one quote (more or less) states: ‘You can’t start the next chapter of your life, if you keep re-reading the last’, and I’m working hard on not flipping back through ‘old chapters’ but trying to forage ahead and start a new one.

No Comments financesFull Moon GoalsHealthLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesno spend challengesPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

How to stay ahead of the inner critic and boredom? Create an personal/professional development board game.

So while contemplating on how to really start stepping into the stretch, risk, and die zones more often–I decided to jump right into the ‘risk’ zone and created a personal board game.

I’m thinking of it as a mix of chutes-and-ladders, trivia pursuit, and life. Why these three? Well, there are squares to move forward or back a certain number of spots (or even boards), covers/reviews numerous subjects (though I do admit it does lack sports and entertainment), and it is never-ending (though even the game of life ended after awhile).

My never-ending personal and professional development game

These are topics that I find interesting in the sciences and humanities (though some are missing), in addition to numerous personal development ideas and projects. I taped the two boards into a normal file folder so that I can folded it up and take it with me even on trips, without it getting damaged.

The goals for the game include:

  1. Learning to turn some items (such as writing, learning programming, and refreshing a foreign language) into daily habits.
  2. Learning more about various job directions (and how to possibly meld some of them together).
  3. And finally: embracing the learner mindset in terms of both multiple science and non-science topics, by refreshing my knowledge of the topics and learning what is ‘new’ in the different fields.

I will accomplish these goals by becoming more proficient in time and project management as shown by creating/writing multiple styles of web content, increased traffic to the blog/website, posts written in additional languages, and an up-to-date GitHub account for example.

There are only a few rules for the game:

  1. No quitting.
  2. If I decide that I want to ‘jump/skip’ a square that I landed on, I have to answer the following questions first:
    1. Why am I avoiding this topic/subject?
    2. Where is this belief (or beliefs) coming from?
    3. What can I do to slowly start in on the topic/subject?

Yes, ‘read’ is down quite often–but since I’m an impulsive book buyer, I have almost 300 non-fiction e-books that I’ve bought over the past five years that I haven’t read yet.

I also discovered that my inner critic/imposter syndrome was trying to ‘derail’ me from starting the game. How, you may ask? By trying to ‘convince’ me that I needed to have a list of topics on hand for anything that had ‘review’ with it on the board. After starting to make a list for both biochemistry and immunology, I realized what was happening.

I decided that I would then add the following ‘rules’:

After landing on a ‘review subject’ square, I would roll the dice again–this would give me a ‘time limit’ (in either hours or minutes) for coming up with a starting list of possible sub-topics to review.

This should be easy enough to do–Google ‘textbook of ‘x’ subject’ and you can usually find a link to at least one textbook that will let you look at the table of contents.

I will then roll the dice again, and the number will hopefully correlate to a topic number. If there is currently no topic to correlate the number to, I will roll until I get a number.

Then I will roll the dice a final time to come up with the ‘time frame’ for the assignment.

All squares will be landed on at one point or another, as there is no ‘end’ to the game. The time frame for each square will vary (even within the topic), and I should hopefully not be ‘sitting’ on a square for more than say three weeks (as that is how long it usually takes to make something a habit), though it may be shorter (as long as I have the topic worked into the weekly schedule and I now to move it over each week).

In terms of the reading squares–if the book doesn’t have any exercises/questions associated with the chapters, I’m going to give myself four to five (no more than six) days to read the book, and then additional two days (max) to write and post the book review to both the blog and possibly Amazon as well. If there are questions/assignments associated with the book then the time frame might go towards two or three weeks.

I started the game last night, and landed on a ‘read’ square. I rolled the dice again to determine the book to pick from the list, and it was ‘The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living’ by Meik Wiking. Since there doesn’t seem to be any exercises/questions associated with the book–I picked another book from the list to start once I have the book review for ‘Little Book of Hygge’ posted, and therefore I will probably rolling the dice for the ‘second’ move on the board around June 4th or so.

What are some of your favorite board games?

No Comments BookscareercomputersCraftsfinancesHealthHistorymoney saving challengesno spend challengesPersonal DevelopmentPersonal Development Challengesprofessional developmentReflectionsSciencespirituality

Taurus New Moon Goals: making career, financial, & life plans

So the moon will be transitioning through the Taurus constellation today–bringing us to our fifth new moon for the year. Somehow we’re a little over a third of the way through 2021, it seems that time just crawled by last year and now is speeding up to ‘catch’ up (if that makes any sense).

While writing the post, I realized that I didn’t set any goals last year for the Taurus new moon. I spent most of April and May of 2020 in an angry haze at how the world was dealing with the emerging SARS-CoV2 pandemic. Since I wasn’t in a good place mentally last year–I spent more time ‘lurking’ than ‘engaging’ and offline whenever possible. Things are slowly starting to look up though (and I know it depends on the criteria–and currently my criteria is that there are component people in the White House that are actually listening to the scientists, and we’re no longer seeing over 100K new cases a day in the US).

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

  1. Making a financial plan
  2. Checking in with yourself and seeing if you’re living your life in a way that allows you to honor your values. Values may change over time, so it is important to take the time every so often and ask yourself ‘what are your values’
  3. Be sensual; ask yourself “what would make my life better?”
  4. Character check; ask yourself “am I being too stubborn or too lazy?”
  5. Persevere–remember that life is more than just an ‘end goal’, one should also be enjoying the journey to reaching any goals set.

So if I were to look at my core values for 2021, they include: Vitality; Creativity/Curiosity; Spirituality/Inner Harmony/Peace; and Transformation/Evolution/Growth

I am trying to live my life in a way that is allowing me to honor my health and fitness (vitality), find the inner harmony/peace that is difficult to maintain when dealing with high levels of anxiety, and grow/evolve as a scientific industry professional/potential online entrepreneur, while maintaining my creativity and curiosity in the world around me.

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 their 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
  7. If you’re already attached, play matchmaker for a friend

Since we’re still in the middle of a pandemic, I’m going to focus more on the financial/personal development aspects of things. While most would say that 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.

Yes, there is online dating, but that isn’t something that I want to focus on right now. That isn’t to say that I’m ‘afraid’ of online dating–I just don’t want to weed through the incompatible to find someone who may be compatible. As I stated on my 2019 Taurus new moon goals–I seem to be one of the odd ones that doesn’t mind being alone and unattached, plus I know that I still have other things to work out on my own before even attempting to stick my toes into the dating pool.

Therefore my goals for the Taurus new moon will include:

  1. Making a financial plan. I’ve been on a reboot break for a little over a year, and really should start thinking of ideas on how to start replenishing the savings account.
  2. Continue investigating the different potential directions that I’ve come up with in terms of transitioning away from academia.
  3. Try and finish the following books: Career Rehab: Rebuild Your Personal Brand and Rethink the Way You Work by Kanika Tolver; Creativity Rules: Get Ideas Out of Your Head and Into the World by Tina Seelig; and Percolate: Let Your Best Self Filter Through by Elizabeth Hamilton-Guanino
  4. Continue going through clothes and boxing (or bagging) up the clothes that no longer fit well for donation (or selling online)
  5. Continue with daily intentional movements and meditation.

While the goals seem to be on a repetitive loop from year to year–there is progress that is being made, but the steps are so small they may not be noticeable to the stranger’s eye. When I started this blog almost four years ago, it was with the intention of self-accountability on this journey of rediscovery–so while other may not notice the progress, trust me when I say that progress has been made.

No Comments AstrologyBookscareerfinancesHealthmoney saving challengesNew Moon Goalsno spend challengesPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

Self-reflection, ‘jack-of-all-trades’ vs ‘specialist’, & now more planning

So I’m a little over a week into my fourth decade and still working on answering the question: which hobbies, passions, and interests will fall under the jack-of-all-trades umbrella, and which will fall under the specialist umbrella.

This question evolved from my ‘self-reflection, planning, and yet more self-reflection’ post where I was trying to answer the question of who I wanted to become over the next five plus years.

While for some this is probably a quick question to answer—I’m still slightly struggling with for two reasons: 1) imposter syndrome—since I’m wanting to transition out of academia and into industry, there are times when I feel like a ‘fraud’, even though I know everyone’s journey is their own and that no two paths are the same—also no one has the same history, likes/dislikes, strengths/weaknesses, and personality traits that I do. The second reason is that at times I’m still in an somewhat academic mindset, which has a somewhat “clear ladder” on how your job grows—you graduate with your PhD, you do a couple of postdocs, you then get an assistant professor position, and then work your way up the ladder to associate, full, regents, emeritus professor along with possibly going for department head, or positions as a dean.

Since I’m still not sure which direction I want to go in—therefore there is no “clear ladder”, and even once I decide on a direction or directions to go in—there is no guarantee of a “clear ladder” or straight job trajectory in today’s society. Therefore I’m on a mission to create a mix of things that not only fall under both categories (jack-of-all-trades and specialist), but also encompass all aspects of life.

Through self-reflection, I realize that the times I’m happiest and in the ‘flow’ are when I’m both learning and relaxing—in other words when there is a balance between things. This is something that I had lost over the past decade or so—actually, this was something I closed off when I thought I wanted to go down the academic route—I pushed aside enjoyment, relaxation, and balance while focusing on just one small area for ‘learning’.

I’m thinking that the best route will be something that allows me to both—work for a company, but also be an independent freelancer as well. This way I can juggle different hats (under the umbrellas of jack-of-all-trades and specialist), and hopefully never get bored.

Boredom for me is like the kiss of death for the job—and one thing I need to work on is asking for change in the job when I start feeling boredom sneak in—because if I don’t ask for a change, I know I will start to get a little laid back in things and let things start to slide—which is something that I want to avoid moving forward.

So that brings me back to the question: how am I going to divide up my hobbies, passions, and interests into the categories jack-of-all-trades and specialist?

One area can be quickly filed under jack-of-all-trades currently, and that is crafts. These include knitting, sewing/quilting, learning cross-stitching, making my own jewelry, doodling, and hopefully at some point painting. The time I spend on any of these varies—knitting is usually done only in the cooler months, I currently don’t have a sewing machine, and the others have had very little time spent on them.

Therefore until I start spending a good amount of time on any of them during the week, they will be a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ topic. These will be things that I write about maybe once a month or every couple of months on the blog. I have ideas on how to try monetizing some of them (knitting, jewelry, and cross-stitching), but haven’t spent any time trying to work up the plan or even a few showcase pieces.

There are other hobbies that I spend more time on: bird watching, photography, reading, and at times journaling/writing. These are areas of my personal life that I could slowly start working on more and move to what I would consider ‘expert’ level.

In terms of bird watching—seeing how many species in North America I can have identified by a certain age. This would then also allow me to include traveling, being outdoors, hiking, and photography as well.

In terms of photography—I can work on becoming a better nature photographer, and also start learning another form (say architecture or portrait photography). I would consider myself an expert if I then start selling my prints (either through my own site or another site, and/or have a small photography business on the side).

In terms of reading—start writing book reviews and posting them on both the blog and where I purchased the book, in addition to promoting books as well on my blog and social media sites. This way I could also then start possibly reviewing advance-reader-copies (ARCs), in addition to maybe working through affiliate programs—earning a little money, by referring people to buy different books.

In terms of writing—there is quite a bit I need to work on (and actually can be applied to all areas that I would like to become an ‘expert’ in) to get better at writing. The first thing is scheduling time every day to write/brainstorm/outline. Saying I want to become better at writing does nothing unless I also put in the work to become better at writing. So what are the things I need to work on?

            Time management

            Brainstorming, researching, writing, and editing—on a schedule

            Publishing my writing (in more places than just the blog)

            Asking others to read what I’ve written and give constructive criticism

            Different types of writing

                        Creative/Fiction

                        Scientific

                        Non-fiction

            Creating a portfolio to highlight my work

So in terms of my passions and interests—which should be jack-of-all-trades and which should be specialist?

If I look to my scientific background that has spanned a little over two decades I’ve noticed that I can focus on any of the following: recombinant cloning, recombinant protein expression and purification, sequencing, HPLC, MALDI-TOF, NMR, transcriptional and translational assays, small RNA biology, plant biology, cell culture, yeast, bacteria, fruit flies, the cell cycle, and bioinformatics.

If I had to chose areas for jack-of-all-trades those would include: bioinformatics (data science, programming, and data analysis), cell culture (basic mammalian and insect), sequencing, HPLC, MALDI-TOF, and NMR. These are the more technical things—though cell culture isn’t very technical, I just didn’t do that much of it through the years.

The areas I would chose for specialist would then include basically everything else: recombinant cloning, recombinant protein expression and purification, transcriptional and translational assays, small RNA biology, plant biology, yeast work, fruit flies, bacteria, cell cycle and almost anything that falls within these categories.

If I looked to other topics that I enjoyed during college—these were classes in social sciences and humanities (history, anthropology, sociology) that I got good grades in and never really stressed out over the exams (unlike all the other science classes).

So I would probably include some of those topics—medieval history, art history, anthropology, ancient North/South American history (prior to the arrival of the Europeans), archeology, and paleontology within both categories depending on the amount of time I could give to each area.

Other interests that could probably bounce between being jack-of-all-trades and specialist include spirituality, personal finances, and health/fitness.

These are areas that I’m interested in gaining more knowledge (finances—getting out of debt, saving more, retirement, multiple streams of income), becoming the best version of myself (health/fitness—completing programs, getting outdoors, and setting fitness goals to achieve and celebrate instead of spending money), and embracing (spirituality—I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m more spiritual than I am religious, therefore I want to become better at reading tarot/oracle cards and be able to meditate longer than say two to four minutes).

Therefore within the next five to ten years I would like to become a more well rounded person and scientist—this means over all balance, some days may be more science than crafts, more time at the computer than behind a camera—but also more days crafting, reading, and meditating. It is time for me to forge my own path forward that allows me to embrace all aspects of who I am, my strengths (learner, intellection, input, achiever, deliberative/ideation/arranger), while also working on my weaknesses.

The next step will be creating a plan that will allow me to slowly start moving in that direction.

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