Tag: fitness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Professional development and career: On-going

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

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

                        3. Clinical Research Coalition—Finished May 30th 2021

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

                        5. Data Scientist Syndicate—Finished September 3rd 2020

                        6. Project Management Consortium

                        7. Management Consulting Firm

                        8. Intellectual Property Pack—Finished June 25th 2021

                        9. Regulatory Affairs Council

                        10. Write Your Way to Freedom

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

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

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

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

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

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

                        14. Commenting on posts

                                    Trying to get better at this.

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

                        16. Start writing my own posts

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

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

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

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

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

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

            21. Become fluent in German

            22. Become proficient in French, Norwegian, or Swedish

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

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

            24. Finish the books on scientific writing

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

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

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

            27. Write a letter to my future self

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

            28. Paint and frame at least one original painting

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

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

                        31. Update photography pages on blog

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

            32. Make my own jewelry

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

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

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

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

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

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

            39. Start writing a book

            40. Learn Photoshop

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

            42. Create my own coffee-table photography book

            43. Learn basic sign language

            44. Start a virtual book club

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fitness & Health—On going

            52. Get into the best shape of my life

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

            54.  Hold a two-minute forearm plank

            55.  Hold a 90 second plank

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

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

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

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

Blog and Social Media–Ongoing

            60.  Finish YouTube for bosses course

            61.  Finish YouTube course creation for bosses course

            62.  Launch a YouTube channel

            63. Launch an online course

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

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

            66. Get Instagram followers to constant 800+

            67. Get pintrest followers to constant 400+

            68. Get twitter followers to constant 1000+

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

            70.  Editorial calendars (monthly/weekly/daily)

                        71. Blog

                        72. Instagram

                        73. Facebook pages

                        74. Twitter

                        75. Pintrest

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

            77. Various top 10 author lists

            78. Various top 10 book series lists

            79. Launch a podcast

Spirituality–Ongoing

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

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

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

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

Others–ongoing

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

            85. Design a science based board game

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

            87. Reorganize my storage unit

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

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

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

                        One challenge will be 30 days of iPhone Photography

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

                        30 days of doodling

                        30 days of coloring in coloring books

                        30 days of mind maps

                        Dance ten-minutes every day

                        Make rubbings of interesting surfaces & textures

                        Film progress of 30-day challenge

                        Learn about politics

                        Learn about a new country a day

                        Research prominent women throughout history

                        Learn economics

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

                        Do a Sudoku or crossword puzzle daily

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

91. Go to at least 1 scientific conference

                        92. Present at a scientific conference

            93. Go to at least 2 professional networking events

            94. Visit at least 3 new countries

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

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

            97. Visit at least one new zoo

            98. Visit at least one new aquarium

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

            100. Visit at least one new city

            101. Visit at least one new state

            102. See the northern lights

            103. Attend at least one blogging conference

            104. Attend at least one author-reader conference

            105. Swim with whale sharks

            106. Parasailing

Once I move:

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

            108. New couch & chair for living room

            109. New dresser for bedroom

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

            111. New TV & stand

            112. New desk/craft workstation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Original comfort diagram that I drew mid-Feb 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Latest Comfort diagram–Feb 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Looking Back at 2021: I’m a bookworm. Now to plan for 2022 and beyond

While looking ahead to a ‘blank slate’ of 2022, I realized that I should also reflect on 2021 and the ups, down, hills, valleys, and everything in between. The post will probably seem a little bit ‘rambling’—but that is due to just writing what I’m thinking and not really organizing my thoughts beforehand.

We were still in the grip of the SARS-CoV2 pandemic during 2021. While there have been several vaccines approved (the Pfizer one received full approval from the FDA and CDC towards the end of the year), there is unfortunately still a good portion of the population that is refusing to get vaccinated.

Come early March, we will be entering year three of the pandemic—hopefully we’ll be seeing the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ by summer????

I’ve still been isolating at home (only leaving the house maybe a couple of times a week—one to get the paper on the weekends, then an occasional walk either at Boomer Lake with my camera or through the neighborhood with Chaos) for the most part this past year. Like everyone else, I would like for things to return to a ‘new normal’—but I also understand that it will take awhile for the ‘new normal’ to emerge and everyone to get on the same page.

I’m not planning on doing any type of travel this year (thanks omicron variant and anti-vaxxers), but hopefully maybe able to do a small trip sometime between 2023 and 2024.

Since the number of cases is still skyrocketing due to the omicron variant—I plan of trying to get my booster shot sometime within the next two weeks.

The only huge crisis we had this past year was with Rolex—when we took her to get an allergy shot, she developed the rare side effect of hemolytic anemia. So, the past few months have been a roller coaster as we try to help her overcome the anemia. So, far she’s had two blood transfusions and is on numerous medications—we’ll hopefully see if she can be weaned off of two of them entirely next month (I’m assuming one of the meds will be lowered again this month).

Chaos doesn’t care of strangers (which is both good and bad), so when I do have to take him into the vet—he has to be given meds to mellow him out. I’m hoping to possibly start taking him for longer walks (to where we might encounter other people) this coming spring.

In terms of my career—I think I’ve figured it ‘out’ (at least a little). I’m going to go in the direction of remote/contract/online science/medical communications/education with the end goal of creating my own freelance business (melding copywriting [medical/science communication/education, health/wellness, and personal/professional development] with blogging [hobbies, travels, and personal/professional development]). Therefore, the blog/website will be getting update throughout the year as I work my way in that direction.

I managed to land a ‘volunteer’ medical content writing position with a company in Canada during the summer—so I’m getting my ‘feet’ wet in the regards of summarizing scientific papers and other topics for the general public. In addition, I put in my application for a couple of freelance writing position and then a medical writers position—didn’t get any of them, but I was proud of the fact I went ahead and applied for each of them, being a total ‘newbie’ in the online medical writing world.

I’ve joined another accountability group—which is good, but since I’ve really ‘narrowed’ down what I want to do (remote/online writing and/or data analysis), I’m having problems finding the job postings. I’ll be working on those assignments, and giving updates throughout the next few months (which will include ‘linking the blog/website’ to my LinkedIn account).

Those were some of the highlights for the year, so how did 2021 go in general?

In terms of steps—I had a rough goal of at least 1,825,000 steps (breaking down to basically 5,000 steps per day). I managed to get 1,979,594 steps for the year, with the following monthly breakdown:

January:          159,685

February:        146,418

March:             197,430

April:              187,411

May:               187,855

June:               149,009

July:                140,686

August:           154,591

September:      157,114

October:          160,753

November:      168,476

December:       170,166

The months with the lowest number of steps happened to be during the summer, when it was a little too warm (or humid or both) to be outside walking either on my own or with my dog.

While I’d set the goal of completing nine workout programs throughout 2021—I managed to complete three, and then spent the rest of the year concentrating on more ‘intentional movements’ than fitness programs.

I also had set the goal of reading a minimum of 80 books (30 non-fiction and 50 fiction), and the actual total number of books that I read last year was a minimum of 127 books (12 non-fiction and at least 105 fiction). These included new and rereads (all of which were within the fiction category).

I met the goal of at least fifty fiction books (actually doubled it), and almost met half the goal of non-fiction books (thirty).

The non-fiction books I read during 2021 included:

  1. Secrets of Six-Figure Women: Surprising strategies to up your earnings and change your life by Barbara Stanny
  2. Badass Habits: Cultivate the awareness, boundaries, and daily upgrades you need to make them stick by Jen Sincero
  3. Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski
  4. The Joy of Missing Out: Live more by doing less by Tonya Dalton
  5. The Renaissance Soul: How to make your passions your life–A creative and practical guide by Margaret Lobensteine
  6. The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking
  7. Permission to Screw Up: How I Learned to Lead by Doing (almost) Everything Wrong by Kristen Hadeed
  8. The Financial Diet by Chelsea Fagan
  9. 25 Ways to work from Home by Jen Ruiz
  10. Write to Speak by Mike Acker
  11. I want to do all the things: finding balance as a polymath, multipotentialite, and renaissance soul by Arcadia Page
  12. The More of Less: Finding the life you want under everything you own by Joshua Becker

In terms of fiction books read during 2021 (new and re-reads), I managed to read (a minimum) of 105 fiction books, and they included:

  • Loved You Once (The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers #1) by Claudia Burgoa
  • A Moment Like You (The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers #2) by Claudia Burgoa
  • Defying Our Forever (The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers #3) by Claudia Burgoa
  • Call You Mine (The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers #4) by Claudia Burgoa
  • Blackout After Dark (Gansett Island #22) by Marie Force
  • Catalina (The Alders #10) by Avery Gale
  • I re-read the first nine books in the Alders series by Avery Gale
  • The Shadowdance Club (7 book series) by Avery Gale
  • Masters of the PrairieWind Club (11 book series–as of Feb 2021) by Avery Gale
  • Billionaire Unexpected–Jax (The Billionaire’s Obsessions #16) by J.S. Scott
  • Loving Arms (Slick Rock #30) by Becca Van
  • Reckless (Slick Rock #31) by Becca Van
  • Exception to the Rule (Beautifully Imperfect #7) by Becca Van
  • My One Night (On My Own #1) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  • State of Affairs (First Family #1) by Marie Force
  • Re-read the entire Fatal series (16 books) prior to State of Affairs coming out
  • Tempted by Love: Jack “Jock” Steele (The Steeles at Silver Island #1) by Melissa Foster
  • My True Love: Jules Steele (The Steeles at Silver Island #2) by Melissa Foster
  • Love Under Two Warriors (Lusty, Texas #42) by Cara Covington
  • Ride Out the Storm (SSI #6.5) by Monette Michaels
  • Wild and Loving (Slick Rock #32) by Becca Van
  • Royal Line (Tatter Royals #1) by Carrie Ann Ryan and Nana Malone
  • My Rebound (On My Own #2) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  • How Much I Love (Miami Nights #3) by Marie Force
  • As We Are (The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers #5) by Claudia Burgoa
  • A Scent of Magick (McKendrick Warlocks #3) by Rhyannon Byrd
  • Come Together (Butler VT #7) by Marie Force
  • Inked Obsession (Montgomery Ink: Fort Collins #2) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  • The Green Mountain Series (7 books) by Marie Force
  • First six books in the Butler VT series by Marie Force
  • Vortex: A FBI Thriller by Catherine Coulter
  • Wiretaps and Whiskers (The Faerie Files #1) by Emigh Cannaday
  • Catnip and Curses (The Faerie Files #2) by Emigh Cannaday
  • My Next Play (On My Own #3) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  • Breaking Badger (The Honey Badger Chronicles #4) by Shelly Laurenston
  • Yours to Keep (The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers #6) by Claudia Burgoa
  • Inked Kingdom by Carrie Ann Ryan
  • Inked Devotion (Montgomery Ink: Fort Collins #3) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  • Temptation after Dark (Gansett Island #23)
  • Finally You (Luna Harbor #1) by Claudia Burgoa
  • Enemy Heir (Tatter Royals #2) by Carrie Ann Ryan and Nana Malone
  • Mated in Darkness (Talon Pack #10) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  • Love Under Two Explorers (Lusty, Texas #43) by Cara Covington
  • My Bad Decisions (On My Own #4) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  • The Morgan Brothers (5 books) by Avery Gale
  • State of Grace (First Family #2) by Marie Force
  • Snow Dragon (Dragon Knights #16) by Bianca D’Arc
  • Gatekeeper (Dragon Knights #17) by Bianca D’Arc
  • Falling for Fallon (Masters of the Prairie Wind Club #12) by Avery Gale
  • Billionaire Unnoticed–Cooper (Billionaires Obsessions #17) by J.S. Scott

I’m pretty sure that there are probably another 20-30 books that I re-read during the year, but didn’t keep track of–what can I say, I’m a book worm and I would rather spend my evenings reading than watching TV.

While I had decided on doing a ‘no spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month’, the only month that I really succeed at it was January. I ‘slipped’ and spent more money throughout the year than I really should have. I’ve pledge to restart the challenge this year, and to do better than I did last year (not aiming for perfection—but aiming for progress).

While the goal for 2021 was to finish at least twenty e-courses, I managed to finish nine throughout the year. I’d found that if I managed to watch several in a month, I ‘took’ the next month (or two) ‘off’ (probably unintentionally—letting ‘Pam’ win an unspoken argument). The courses that I ‘watched’ and ‘completed’ included:

On Skillshare:

  1. Powerful storytelling today: strategies for crafting great content
  2. 3 ways often overlooked to get traffic to your blog
  3. Finding your inner creative
  4. Personal Branding: Your Copywriting Secret Sauce
  5. Create a simple digital marketing plan
  6. Crappy Copy: 8 digital copywriting mistakes you should avoid

Two Cheeky Scientist Association Advance Programs:

  1. Clinical Research Coalition
  2. Intellectual Property Pack

Then on Udemy:

  1. Understanding and developing Emotional Intelliegence

The goal for 2022 will be to at least double (if not triple) the number of e-courses that I watch/finish.

One big accomplishment I that managed to get done during 2021 was the creation and updating of my comfort/stretch/risk/die diagrams. The first one that I did in February/March was an ‘assignment’ from a coach, when it became obvious (to her) that I was struggling with figuring out what I wanted to do with my life.

Since that first one—I’ve modified it four times, adding in a ‘bounce zone’ between the comfort and the stretch zone, and have watched the comfort and stretch zones (along with the bounce zone) grow, and the risk zone shrink.

I also created a personal/professional board game as well to help me ‘figure’ things out—and I’ve discovered the ‘biggest’ drawback on the game is that everything is ‘open-ended’ (such as review immunology or review cell biology).

I managed to teach myself basic cross-stitching this past year, and even finished three abstract design pieces. I started to do a more ‘nature’ based piece, and will probably try to turn it ‘abstract’ as I didn’t like how the cacti were turning out. I managed to spend quite a bit of time over the year up at Boomer Lake with my camera (one thing I still need to do is curate and delete all the really dark and/or blurry pictures I’ve taken over the past few decades).

Overall, 2021 was an okay year—not great (I mean there is still the pandemic), but also not a totally horrible year either. I’ve made progress in terms of personal and professional development (while some may see the past two years as ‘unemployed’—I view them as investing in myself)—maybe not as much as I’d originally liked, but still managed to do quite a bit. I’ve decided the career direction I’d like to pursue (remote/contract/online science/medical communications/writing and possibly data analysis), with the long-term goal of creating my own freelance business.

Therefore, heading into 2022, I’ve decided that:

I’ll have an overall BINGO card for the year (similar to what I tried to do for 2021), in addition to having BINGO cards for non-fiction books, e-courses, and intentional movement.

If I read a non-fiction book or complete/watch an e-course that isn’t on either of the current BINGO cards—I’ll write them down to put on an additional BINGO card.

The goal is to have at least a single BINGO on each of the cards (Bonus to have a totally checked BINGO card), and to have at least one BINGO on the overall yearly BINGO card as well.

I will transition into a remote/contract/online science/medical communications position. To help achieve that goal—I’m aiming at writing and publishing at least six scientific blog posts/articles by the end of the year. Each will be a minimum of 1000 words and will probably cover different topics I find of interest (or sub-topics within a specific ‘niche’).

In addition, I’m planning on writing at least two small literature reviews (being somewhere between 1000 and 1500 words), on one or two science topics, in addition to the larger project I’ve had bouncing around in my head for the past year.

I will also finish updating/modifying the blog/website to showcase the addition of science/medical writing in addition to my pieces on personal/professional development, hobbies, and travels.

Overall, I plan on 2022 being the year of ‘change’ and ‘growth’—growing as a science communicator, changing/transitioning into a ‘new’ position, and also finding my online ‘tribe’.

How was your 2021, and what do you have planned for 2022?

No Comments Booksbullet journalcareerCraftsfinancesfitnessHealthLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesno spend challengesPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentReflectionsspiritualitytravelUpdatesYear in Review

As it starts to get colder: more time for the computer work (review and looking ahead)

Well, we’re almost halfway through October—that means there are only 79 days left in 2021. I’ve been reflecting over the past two weeks on the goals that I set for the third quarter of the year (or as I was also referring to as—my second attempt at a 12-week year).

I’d mentioned in a post over the summer that I was combining the ideas of two books together and using those as ‘stepping-stones’ for goals in different areas. The ideas that I’m combining are ‘choosing focal points (or specific areas)’ to focus on (‘The Renaissance Soul: How to Make Your Passions Your Life—A Creative and Practical Guide’ by Margaret Lobenstine), and the goal setting method from ‘The 12-Week Year: Get more done in 12 weeks than others do in 12 months’ by Brain Moran and Michael Lennington.

The four areas that I’ve decided that I’m currently focusing on are: professional development, personal development, health, and hobbies. The plan is to blend them together enough that I’ve created a career that is semi-location independent, and is focused on freelance/remote/contract writing/blogging with the possibility of adding in data analysis and/or consulting in the future.

The one thing that I’m still working on is figuring out how to divide the goals that I pick for the each month into weekly and then daily goals.

I’ve usually been trying to set four to five goals per focal area, with the possibility that one or two may have several ‘sub’ goals associated with them.

Instead of listing out every single goal that I set for the summer, I’m going to summarize the areas instead.

In terms of professional development, I had the lofty goals of completing at least two Cheeky Scientist advanced programs, learning python (coding), working through another three small e-courses on Udemy, and continuing to read/share science news and network on LinkedIn.

In terms of personal development, the lofty goals included refreshing Spanish, reading at least one (or two) non-fiction books a month, working through even more e-courses on different sites, and coming up with my own vision of minimalism and how I was going to diversify my income.

In terms of health, I was planning on continuing with BOD workouts (LIIFT4 and then Morning Meltdown 100), meditation, gratitude entries in the journal, oracle card drawings, working through a couple of courses, and trying to find new recipes to try at dinner.

In terms of my hobbies: at least one nature walk with the camera at Boomer Lake, reading, working on a cross-stitch project (or making some jewelry), and then again working through more e-courses.

So how did I do with my various goals?

In terms of professional development:

I’ve been fairly good at reading and sharing new on LinkedIn and twitter (I try to share at least one post Monday to Friday), and I’m working networking more and adding value to connections on LinkedIn.

In terms of the various programs, courses, and programming—I didn’t really get to any of them. Though I have most of the editing assignments for the Medical Writers Organization done—I just need to work on the writing assignments, plus finish up the sixth module.

I would say that I managed two out of the five professional development goals (so forty percent completed).

In terms of personal development:

I think I’ve managed to read possibly two non-fiction books over the past three months, I’m slowly working on my vision of minimalism (I need to go through the clothes and DVDs in the bedroom—and then tackle everything in the storage unit), and I’m slowly working on the ideas for generating varied income sources.

Again, the computer work hasn’t been completed.

Therefore, I probably managed another two out of the five goals (so another forty percent completed)

In terms of health:

I managed about 26 days of the oracle card sharing challenge. While I enjoyed it in the beginning, it was starting to become more of a ‘chore’ and I wasn’t getting that many interactions on the posts. I will probably share a reading here and there on Instagram, but probably won’t be daily.

With having messed up my wrist mid-June/early-July, I’ve been giving it time to heal, so I really haven’t been doing anything that requires lifting weights. I will be trying to start a second round of Morning Meltdown 100 during the fourth quarter of 2021, knowing that it will run into the first quarter of 2022.

I’ve been good with my evening meditations and daily gratitude entries in the journal. I’ve done a little over half of the explicit tarot course, and in terms of cooking—I couldn’t find any recipes that appealed to me this quarter.

I would say that I managed about half of the health goals for the third quarter.

The best area was hobbies:

I managed a walk every month at Boomer Lake with my camera, I read at least two or three fiction books a month, and I finished two cross-stitch projects and started a third. The only goal that I didn’t really touch was the one in regards to the e-courses.

Therefore, I would say that I managed three of the four goals (or seventy-five percent) for hobbies.

Overall, I would say that I managed to reach fifty percent of all the goals (and sub-goals) that I set for the third quarter.

There are several reasons why I only managed to meet half of the goals:

September was spent dealing with an ill dog and not knowing the outcome/prognosis. While we now know the prognosis, it may still be touch and go—especially when she starts to get weaned off the medication.

I also quit doing my weekly to-be accomplished lists in September (see above about the ill dog), and the daily to-be accomplished lists in August. The reason why I quit writing these out—I let the inner critic/imposter syndrome win a fight. I’m slowly working on getting back into the habit of doing both of these (slightly better with the weekly to-be accomplished lists).

Finally, when the weather is fairly nice—I’d rather be sitting outside enjoying the weather and possibly reading or journaling than being inside and working on the computer. I know that this is something that I need to work on improving (time/project management) as we move into the fall/winter months when more time will be spent indoors than outdoors.

So what are my goals for the four different areas moving into the fourth and final quarter of 2021?

Professional Development (This area is focused heavily on computer work):

  1. Finish at least two of the following Cheeky Scientist advanced programs:
    • Medical Writers Organization
    • User Experience Squad
    • Regulatory Affairs Council
    • Business Development Federation
  2. Finish the following short courses:
    • 15 errors in scientific writing and how to correct them on Udemy
    • How to become a freelance editor on Udemy
    • How to become a freelance writer on Skill Success
  3. Read and share science (and other news) on LinkedIn and Twitter
  4. Network and add value on LinkedIn
  5. (Bonus):
    • Finish Write Your Way to Freedom course
    • Finish Writing Patient Materials course

Personal Development (A third to half of the work will be computer based):

  1. Read one-to-two non-fiction books/month
  2. Draft ideas on how to implement diversification of income streams
  3. Work through the following short courses:
    • How to work for yourself on Udemy
    • Complete personal finance course on Udemy
    • Freelance writing 101: build a successful career on Skill Share
    • Content Marketing: Blogging for Growth on Skill Share

Health (Possibly a third to half could be computer based):

  1. Start a second round of Morning Meltdown 100
  2. Daily mediation and work through the course: Mindfulness for Anxiety on Udemy
  3. Daily gratitude journal entries
  4. Daily oracle card drawings and finish the course: explicit tarot: learning tarot through storytelling on Udemy

Hobbies (possibly a quarter could be computer based):

  1. At least one walk per month at Boomer Lake with camera
  2. Read two-to-three fiction books per month
  3. Finish the third cross-stitch project, possibly start a fourth or design/create some jewelry
  4. Work through the following courses:
    • How to start a creative business through blogging for beginners on Skill Share
    • Modern copywriting on Stack Skills

There are still quite a few e-courses that I’m hoping to finish before the end of the year—I may or may not get through all of them, but I’m hoping to have worked through at least one in each area (bonus points if I can finish all the e-courses under a specific focal point).

I mentioned in my October New Moon Goals—that I was going to be trying to face one ‘big’ fear during the next phase/month. I decided that the fear is starting my freelance/remote/contract writing business. Therefore I’m probably going to focus a little more on the courses that deal with that topic (which all but the two under health). The name of the blog (a little bit of this, a little bit of that) will probably stay the same—I may just change the website address (all depends as I work my way through the various courses).

This also means that I may having more posts written in a specific area (such as science/medical education/communication), but at the same time keeping other posts coming throughout the month (such as book reviews, photography, and crafts).

I realize that getting things up and running will take time (especially when it comes to marketing my business, billing, and creating/sticking with a editorial schedule)—but I currently have the time to do this, so I’m going for it: the overall goal is to reach at least fifty-percent in each area and an overall all progress rate of seventy-five percent for the last quarter of 2021.

Do you use the 12-week method for planning? Best tips? Or is there another method you like?

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Time for personal/professional assessment & developing/modifying the daily schedule

So, we’re going to be heading into another ‘new moon’ phase this week. If you’re in North America, it will be on today (Monday, September 6th), elsewhere in the world—either today or tomorrow.

The new moon is two weeks prior to my birthday this year and the full moon will be on my birthday this year.

So what are some of the things that one can do during the Virgo new moon?

  1. Take an inventory of your life. Figure out what is working and what isn’t and then figure out what needs to change for the things that aren’t working.
  2. Be of service–help out more at work (if able), do the little things that can help make someone else’s day a little more bearable.
  3. Be healthy–see what is and isn’t working in your health and fitness routines and figure out what to fix (what new habits to start working on)
  4. Avoid nitpicking–this is where the motto “progress over perfection” really comes into play
  5. Get organized–pay bills, figure out the monthly schedule (workout, eating, so forth)–things that can make life a little bearable going forward

While most would think that the new moon would be moving through my first house (since my star sign is Virgo), it actually moving through my 11th house (or friends’ zone), since I’ve been going with my rising sign (which is Scorpio).

Looking back at what I wrote last year, I’d realized that the ‘new normal’ was possibly going to consist of social distancing, wearing a mask, and just being considerate of others. Too bad others haven’t gotten that memo yet (but that is a rant for another day).

Some of the things one can do in regards to their 11th house include:

  1. Sign up for an evening class in something you’ve always wanted to do
  2. Ask your friends to introduce you to friends of theirs you’ve never met
  3. Wish on a start every night for a month
  4. Introduce a childhood pal to a friend from your life now
  5. Say ‘Hi’ to someone you see nearly every day but never talk to
  6. Thank your best friend for being there for you

Well, some of these things still aren’t really possible due to the fact that we’re still in the middle of a pandemic (and who knows when it will get under control). Therefore, if I were to try to do something in regards to my 11th house it would be either wish on a star every night for a month, or thank my best friend for being around still. I also know that I could try to do virtual meet-ups, but that will still require me investing in a better wifi router for the house, and some drapes for one side of the room (if I decide to sit at the desk).

Prior to the pandemic, I would have a monthly lunch get together with a college classmate, but we haven’t done that since March of last year, and with the way things are going—it could easily be March of next year (or possibly 2023) before we may be able to get together for lunch again.

So, since I’ve decided to stay in semi self-isolation, my goals for the Virgo New Moon period will include:

  1. I’m going to take inventory of various aspects of life (research/writing/editing, crafts/hobbies, fitness, mental health/spirituality, and finances) and work on developing a working schedule that will allow me to be productive, but at the same time enjoy time outside as well.
  2. Continue with daily workouts (either alternate between weightlifting and shadow-boxing ro stream Morning Meltdown 100)
  3. In combination with the first goal–organize the schedule, and work at blocking out periods of time (or assign certain tasks to certain days) and see if that helps improve my productivity
  4. Work on completing the third and fourth goal from the Leo New Moon goal list
    • Determine the top five to ten types of freelance/remote/contract writing that I would like to do and start drafting examples of each. Also start drafting my ‘own’ medical content pieces.
    • Determine the top five to fifteen items/sponsors/affiliates and so-forth for the other three ‘blocks’ of my business foundation
  5. Continue with the evening meditation and start trying to incorporate them into the morning as well.

My focus moving forward has been ‘Progress over Perfection’, and while it has been a bumpy and windy road, I feel like it is now allowing me to start writing the next chapter of my life (since I’ve stopped reading the last one). I also know that I may have to take an ‘in-person’ job at some point to help make ends meet until I really can get the whole online/freelance/remote/contract writing/consulting/blogging career up and running.

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The ‘dog days of summer’ hindered some goals

So the year is officially over halfway over–there are only 153 days left in 2021. While it seems things are still speeding up (I swear that yesterday was May 31st), I have a bad feeling that we’re possibly heading to another lock down (or at least a emergency declaration) within the next few months. The number of people getting vaccinated is starting to decline, and the main variant of the virus (the delta variant) is said to be as contagious as chickenpox. While the vaccine will prevent you from dying (unless you have numerous other underlying issues), you can still spread the virus–so please, get vaccinated, wear a mask, and still practice social distancing. It would be nice if we could end the pandemic before the start of a new decade.

I’m truthfully trying to stay away from the news right now (I’m tired of all the irritating/disturbing news), and I’m fully aware that by doing that I’m exercising my ‘white privilege’. While a good portion of the US population has gotten (or is getting) their vaccine, our total number of cases currently is now slowly going up. When I published ‘June in Review’, I noted that the US was at a little over 34.5 million cases, and now the US is at a little over 35.7 million (So there was an increase of a little over 1.2 million cases for the month). So, the numbers are going back up (June only had ~500K new cases), it’s going to be scary to see what the numbers are in a couple of weeks when various schools (both public and colleges) start up again.

Therefore, I’m going to continue to self-isolate, wear a mask when I have to go out, and even cut back on the frequency of walks at Boomer Lake (or perhaps go a little earlier in the mornings).

Before looking ahead to August (midway through the third quarter, and a new set of goals, plus the plans of become slightly more productive), I should look at the goals I set for July and see how I did with each of them

The goals for July included:

  1. 135-150,000 steps, these will hopefully include at least one walk at Boomer Lake and then I will have to figure out how I’m going to get the rest in–due to the fact we’re going to be heading into the ‘dog days of summer’
  2. Finishing up LIIFT4 and starting the second round of Morning Meltdown 100
  3. Read one to two non-fiction books (and write small reviews)
  4. Read two to three fiction books (and write small reviews)
  5. Finish the writing/editing assignments for MWO, the MWO course, and work through the first module of the Regulatory Affairs Council program
  6. No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month
  7. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude entries
  8. Craft time (start the cross-stitch project, and possibly create at least one necklace)
  9. Work through at least one other personal/professional development e-course
  10. Start back at refreshing Spanish (30-45 minutes a day, two-to-three days a week)

So how did I do with each of them?

135-150,000 steps–I managed to reach the minimum number of steps (and actually slightly surpassed with a a total of 140,686 steps), since I was able to do two walks at Boomer Lake earlier in the month. I know that I can put movies on and march in place/circles to get in the steps (I’ve done it in the past)–I just didn’t feel like watching TV this past month.

Finishing LIIFT4 and starting MM100

I was actually almost finished with LIIFT4 (the lifting portion), when I semi-sprained my wrist mid-month. I had been doing some yard work and tried to cut a thick branch with the pruners and placed a little too much pressure on my wrist. I then decided I would focus on ‘intentional’ movement again while waiting for my wrist to heal. Even though there is some slight discomfort (every so often), I will be restarting LIIFT4 (possibly going light for awhile) on Monday, and then starting my second round of MM100 in September (finishing up 2021 with the program).

Read one to two non-fiction books (and hopefully write small review)

I’m currently a little over a third of the way through ‘The More of Less’ by Josh Becker. July was more fiction reading than non-fiction reading (in part due to the frequent mild anxiety attacks I’d been having).

Read two to three fiction books (and hopefully write small reviews)

The fiction books I managed to read this month included:

The Scent of Magick (McKendrick Warlocks #3) by Rhyannon Byrd

Come Together (Butler, VT #7) by Marie Force

Inked Obsession (Montgomery Ink: Fort Collins #2) by Carrie Ann Ryan

In addition to binge reading the Green Mountain series and the first six books in the Butler VT series by Marie Force (to be able to red book seven).

So far, Inked Obsession is the only one that has a review up on the blog currently. I’m working on the other two (A Scent of Magick and Come Together), and they should be getting posted sometime during August.

Finishing up the writing/editing assignments for MWO, the MWO course, and working through the first module of the Regulatory Affairs Council program

I have my first ‘drafts’ of the editing assignments finished (I may go back and try to re-edit one or two of the assignments [see if I can get the word count down a little more for one of them]), and am slowly working on the writing assignments.

I didn’t watch any of the videos from the Regulatory Affairs Council program.

No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month

While this will be covered in a little more depth in my limited spending check-in post, I will say that I did spend a little more this month than I had originally planned on.

Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude entries

Well, we’re in the dog days of summer—so if I was outside it was usually sitting in front of the fan (though I did manage to get two walks in at Boomer Lake this past month). I’ve been good at doing my evening meditation/sitting quietly for a few minutes before bed.

In terms of the daily gratitude entries, I’d been pretty good at doing those up until the past week or so. Goal for August—gratitude entry before other work in the evening.

Craft time (start the cross-stitch project and possibly create a necklace)

I have started a cross-stitch project. I haven’t gotten very far with it, but it is going to be an abstract design (actually really—no design, but trying to use each color of thread at least once), that I hope to finish by the end of September.

Work through at least one other personal/professional development e-course

I started working through the one program ’15 errors in scientific writing and how to fix them’ last week (I’ve managed to watch at least five videos, and am about a quarter of the way through the course).

Start back at refreshing Spanish (30-45 minutes a day, two-to-three days a week)

Nope, this still hasn’t happened. I think the main reason is that I’m trying to put too much stuff on the ‘plate’ each day, and if something has to be ‘left’ behind (as in not finished or started), it is usually this—refreshing Spanish.

While there were a few goals that I didn’t meet (refreshing Spanish, working through various e-courses, and having a ‘good’ limited spending month), I did manage to get a few other things accomplished.

I applied for, and was accepted as a volunteer medical content writer. While it isn’t a paid position—I’m gaining experience in medical content writing, and a company I can use as a reference at some point in the future. It is also helping me focus on topics that may not be of total ‘interest’ to me, but of interest to others.

Therefore, going forward I’m going to have to try to get better at time/project management—so that I can get things checked off the to-do list, but also generate content for others (currently just the medical content company).

I’m also working on trying to add more science and health posts and pages to the blog as well, with the goal of having at least one to two new pages a month, in addition to one to three new posts a month.

I’m keeping my goals fairly consistent—as that is how they become habits. Since I still slightly struggle with a few of them (limited spending, working through e-courses, and so forth), that means they’re not habits yet, and even when they become habits—they will still have a spot in the tracker journal.

As we move into the last five months of 2021—we may be facing another ‘shelter in place’ order (depending on how bad the delta variant of the SARS-CoV2 virus continues to spread), which means focusing on my mental health may take priority again this fall. The past couple of days, I’ve felt my anxiety spike just over the thought of picking a new template for the blog, rearranging the order of pages (possibly combining some and removing others), adding new pages and ‘rewriting’ my home and work with me pages.

While, I don’t like the semi out of control feelings that the anxiety attacks produce—I’m acknowledging the sensations and working through the feelings. The redesign of the blog may take a few weeks (or possibly even a few months), but I’ll get it done. When the anxious feelings really spike—that will be when the computer is shut down, and I pick up the cross-stitch project and stab the cloth over and over again (it actually helps).

So, the first seven months of 2021 are over, who knows how the last five months are going to go (especially in terms of the pandemic)—but I know that I will keep showing up daily, working on laying the foundation to an online career and presence. That career and presence will be multi-facet, mainly so that I don’t lose interest as I move forward.

Therefore the goals for August will include:

  1. 135-155,000 steps; I will probably need to put a movie (or three) on to get the steps in this month. We’re in the middle of the ‘dog days of summer’, and the delta variant is surging both in town and the state–this means I’m going to have to start limiting both the number of walks and the time spent up at Boomer Lake.
  2. Restart LIIFT4 (following the lifting schedule, not necessarily streaming the program)
  3. Finish up the writing/editing assignments for MWO, the MWO program, and roll the dice to figure out the next advanced cheeky scientist program to start
  4. Finish reading two to three of the four non-fiction books I’ve started over the past two months
  5. Read two to four fiction books (write small reviews for at least one of them)
  6. No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month
  7. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, and daily gratitude entries in the journal
  8. Craft time (continue working on the cross-stitch project)
  9. Work through at least one other personal/professional development e-course

The goals are similar to last month; I just decided I’d leave off refreshing Spanish currently (since I have enough on the plate, when I also add in the weekly content I need to write for my volunteer position).

If another ‘shelter in place’ order is given this fall, I will probably have to go through various social media accounts and limit the number of political things I see (I’m totally pro-vaccine, pro-mask, and pro-social distancing; I just get tired of seeing all the stuff in regards to those who aren’t following the guidelines).

The blog/website will be getting a ‘new look’ over the coming weeks/months as I try to streamline how things look, and what type of ‘work’ I’ll be offering (writing/photo stock/project management and so forth). The domain name won’t be changing for a while (possibly late fall or early next year), depending on how things work out.

I’m going to share the words I chose for 2021 again— growth, creativity, curiosity, happiness, and prosperity.

What type of post would you like to see more of: science/educational, personal/professional development, hobbies/crafts, book reviews, or thoughts on different career paths?

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New Moon Goals: Realizing only 175 days left in 2021

Looking back over the past year, and I managed to sporadically post the new/full moon goals in 2020 (for example my Cancer new moon goals last year were posted but tied in with a semi-rant on how the pandemic was going and how it had messed up the few plans that I had started to make for 2020). This year, I’ve managed to post for each new/full moon so far (and usually on time as well).


So the moon will be transitioning through the Cancer constellation either today or tomorrow (depending on where you are in the world), for the US-it will be today (Friday, July 9th). It marks the seventh new moon of the year and signals the fact that the year is just a little over halfway over (there are only 175 days left in the year). That is 175 days to brainstorm ideas, develop goals, and figure out hte plan for moving forward into 2022 and beyond.

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 and they include:

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

Now taking a hot bath isn’t a problem–that is actually part of my daily ‘self-care’ routine. While my ‘sun/star’ sign is an earth sign (Virgo), both my rising and moon signs are water signs (Scorpio and Pisces)–so I really like my water time.

I’ve figured out that three of the five are fairly straightforward (family time, reviewing goals, and taking hot baths) to try to do–though I probably should try to get in (and stay in) touch with various family members (outside of my immediate family).

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

How I picture these two areas/items:

In terms of getting in touch with your caring and nurturing side–basically this means you’re going to be trying a little harder this month in terms of self-care. You’re going to try to catch those negative voices/ideas and rephrase/spin them into more positive ideas/self-talk; you’re going to take time to focus on your breath (to help calm anxiety, frustration, or anger), and you’re going to be more gentle and understanding with yourself.

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 barries in different areas of life (slowly, and if needed with the help of a trained professional).

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.

Well, we’re still dealing with the pandemic and the various variants of the virus that are trying to see who will come out as the one to beat the vaccine. Therefore, I still won’t be doing any physical traveling until sometime next year (at the earliest). But since we live in a digital world, there are other ways of ‘traveling’–reading, communicating with others (email, online meetings, phone calls), and writing (creative, poetry, journaling, and more research based ideas). So what are some of the things that one can do in regards to thier night 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’s fitting that personal development is being emphasized again–this is something that I’m slowly working on but still try to make it a race (see how many courses I can finish), to where I’m unsure of what I’ve learned (or retained). Therefore I’m only working htorugh a course or two at a time for short periods of time (say 45 minutes to an hour). This allows me to reflect, hopefully retain, and try to think of ways of sharing the information with others.

So what are my goals going to be for the Cancer new moon?

Continuing with the ‘next adventures’ of my personal/professional development board game: reading two to three books (‘Why You’re Stuck’ by Derek Doepker and ‘More of Less’ by Josh Becker), working through a copywriting course, and starting to draft some science posts/pages.

Figuring out the answers to the following questions/points that I raised as I was trying to create a financial plan: 1) waht are tehd ifferent ways that I can earn money; 2) what would the ‘minimal monthly earnings’ be for each area; and 3) will I try a hybrid (online adn in-person) or stick with online/remote/contract/freelance/consulting/blogging?

Use those answers to slowly create a new 12-month goal/plan for various areas of my life

Continue with my evening meditations/sitting quietly moments

Continue with my oracle card challenge and doing my evening readings/drawings as well.

No Comments AstrologyBooksfinancesfitnessHealthLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesNew Moon Goalsno spend challengesPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

Stretching the comfort zone by introducing the bounce zone

So I decided earlier this month to ‘update’ my comfort zone diagram, as it had been almost three months since I drew the first one. Then it took several days to decide what to ‘write and share’ about it, as there is a ‘character limit’ for a LinkedIn post versus a LinkedIn article (and I’m not quite up to ‘writing’ personal/professional development LinkedIn articles yet).

Luckily, that (character limit) isn’t really a problem with blog posts. So, this post is an expansion of the LinkedIn post that I did earlier in the week.

First comfort/stretch/risk/die diagram

Looking at the first diagram and reflecting/pondering on what could be moved around in the various zones, I realized that I actually needed to add a zone–the bounce zone.

This is the zone/area of things that I’m doing on a somewhat consistent basis, but they haven’t become ‘comfortable habits’ yet.

Introducing the bounce zone……

When I looked at the newest version of the diagram I realized several things:

  1. The professional development area hasn’t been ‘stretched’ as much as the personal development area
  2. I’ve unintentionally allowed my inner critic/imposter syndrome to run the show for the last month or so by falling into overthinking and the analysis/paralysis loop
  3. I’ve been uncomfortable with the fact that I’m still unsure of the direction(s) I want to go in terms of my job transition
  4. I’m also still slightly uncomfortable sharing the fact that I have a blog up and running

These realizations had me looking back at this quote that I had highlighted in ‘How to be everything: A guide for those who (still) don’t know what they want to be when they grow up’ by Emilie Wapnick:

“When you lose interest in something, you must always consider the possibility that you’ve gotten what you came for; you completed your mission. […] That’s why you lose interest: not because you’re flawed or lazy or unable to focus but because you’re finished.”

Re-reading that quote had me realizing the following:

  1. While I can’t control how others perceive (or like) my blog or writing style(s), I can control how I react.
  2. I won’t know if a particular direction will work in terms of a job transition, unless I investigate them more (which means getting out of the comfort zone)
  3. I am making progress forward, even if it looks like baby-steps or crawling to the outside world–progress is being made.

Therefore with summer around the corner–it is time that I start getting more comfortable with being uncomfortable (I can even start small, since baby steps are better than large leaps). I fully acknowledge that not everyone will like what I’ve written (or how I write) or even how I have the blog/website set up, but I need to continue in my ‘lane’ to find my ‘tribe’.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks has been overthinking–thinking about the various learning curves (for new subjects), the vast amount of information (for any subject), and wondering how to break everything down into easier to handle goals.

Therefore I’m slowly creating a multi-prong/step approach to continuing to stretch the comfort zone, while dealing with my inner critic/imposter syndrome.

The multi-prong step/approach is going to include the following:

  1. I’m creating a ‘bingo-like’ card that has different items listed. I’m saying ‘bingo-like’ in the fact that I’ve expanded it from a 5×5 grid to a 7×8 grid with no free space. The columns will be numbered 1-8, and the rows will be 1-7
  2. Each square will either contain a book to read, or a topic to investigate (or review). There will be two fitness squares–one will be automatically selected as a ‘continual square’ for the time frame needed to complete the listed programs.
  3. I will be making use of multi-sided dice (more than 1-6) for picking ‘squares’ to focus on
  4. I’m slowly creating the ‘rules’ for the game
  5. Once a square has been completed, I’ll stamp it with the check-mark stamp I bought earlier this year.

A longer (more fleshed out) post will be up by the end of the week on the ‘game’ after I get everything figured out and ‘finalized’

As I mentioned yesterday with my update on my 100+ goals, the name of the blog/website will probably be changing come fall/winter when I have a better idea of the direction(s) that I’m headed in both in terms of personal/professional development and online services that I can provide to the greater public.

Have you done the comfort/stretch/risk/die diagram before? How long did it take you to draw your first one? How often do you look back at it and revise it?

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‘CIZED IT UP’: Looking back at the Pisces New Moon Goals

So we’ve entered April, and will soon be having the fourth new moon of the year (either tonight or tomorrow). Having a competent administration to deal with the ‘fires’ from the last administration, seem to be making the days and months go by faster this year.

So before I look ahead to the next new moon (Aries), it is time to look back at the goals that I set for the Pisces new moon and see how I did with each of them.

The goals for the Pisces New Moon included:

  1. Continue with CIZE–while it isn’t belly dancing, it is a dance program. It may teach me how to use my two ‘left’ feet before I try to find a free belly dancing program.
  2. Doodle sketch a cross-stitch pattern and work on cross-stitching this month.
  3. Finish patching the one afghan and start making a patch (or patches) for the second afghan.
  4. Continue with an evening meditation routine and try to meditate in the morning as well.
  5. Dream ‘big’ on where I would like to be in say 3-5 years and start making plans/goals for getting there.

So how did I do with each of them?

  1. I stuck with CIZE and actually am ‘finished’ with my first round. I say ‘finished’ because I didn’t totally follow the schedule for the program, but tried each routine at least once, include additional dance routines that were added to the program as ‘bonus’ workouts.
  2. I totally forgot that I was going to try to start working on a cross-stitch project this month.
  3. While I have a patch on the one afghan–I still need to finish stitching around the hole, and I haven’t started making the other patches for the larger afghan.
  4. For the most part I’ve been good with doing evening meditations before bed, though I haven’t really been able to get into the habit of meditating in the mornings yet.
  5. The ‘dream big’ goal–yeah, it hasn’t happened yet. The reason–good ole’ inner critic/imposter syndrome; while I’ve acknowledge my inner critic/imposter syndrome and am figuring out ways to work with it instead of against it–it does manage to drag me back into the comfort zone frequently (and this pass week that was where I was sitting).

So I managed to meet (more or less) three out of the five goals (so had a success rate of roughly 60 percent) this past month. Not perfect, but not the worse I’ve done either. I realize that part of the issue (at least for the past two weeks) was the anxiety over getting the vaccine for the SARS-CoV2 virus (I didn’t realize how anxious I was until I got in and out), the other part is still working on giving myself grace, acceptance, and realization that I’m not going to be perfect, probably will fall more than once moving forward and that’s fine–as long as I get back up and continue trying.

So I realized that I managed to keep one of the sayings for 2021 front and center this past month: ‘Progress over Perfection’. I’m making progress and it isn’t perfect–it’s messy, but that is life–messy if you’re trying to improve and live; it only seems ‘perfect’ if you’re willing to stay stagnant–and that isn’t something that I’m willing to do anymore.

I’m going to continue making 2021 a year of growth–and it doesn’t matter how microscopically small that progress looks to others as long as I keep moving forward.

No Comments AstrologyfitnessNew Moon GoalsPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflectionsspirituality

Reflections and stretching the comfort zone: personal & professional development

Since the weather was un-condusive to being outside for long periods of time last month (I know that it is still winter–but the temps were well below normal for both the time of year and location), I did quite a bit of self-reflection.

More or less mid-month, I had a conference call with one of my coaches, and then she taksed me with the assignment of filling in/out my own comfort/stretch/risk/die diagram.

She gave me the task, when after talking it became obvious that I was floundering due to my inner critic/imposter syndrome getting the better of me–almost daily.

I actually like this diagram/thinking model better than other ones that label the outer three zones as: fear/learning/growth. The reason–it lacks the word fear. With this diagram–you can continuously dip your toes into the something new, and slowly stretch your comfort zone to include them.

So, now moving forward I’m going to use this model of thinking instead of the other.

The purpose of drawing the diagram and filling in the areas allows one to see where they stand at any particular point on different areas. I decided to do a combination of personal and professional development for my diagram.

My comfort/stretch/risk/die diagram

In addition to having it a mix of personal and professional development, I decided that I would also list some of my various strengths around the edge as well. My strengths include: learner, intellection, input, achiever, deliberative/ideation/arranger (via Clifton Strengths Assessment), curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking (via VIA Character Assessment). This way as I slowly start moving into the stretch zone, I can also make sure that my strengths are guiding me.

So the professional comfort zone was pretty simple to fill in–it really only consisted of three things: research at the bench, being in academia, and trying to find a research (bench) position in industry.

Then when it came to my personal comfort zone–those were basically all hobbies.

Heading into the outer portions is where the self-reflection comes in, plus knowing that as I did things within one area (say the stretch zone), it would become part of the previous zone (comfort zone), and things can and will always be added.

The stretch zone is a mix of personal and professional development tasks. The professional development tasks lean more towards learning about different possible industry directions (such as clinical research, regulatory affairs, and project management) and certain skills (such as programming and technical/scientific writing).

I’ve listed various hobbies, in addition to working on improving my mental and spiritual health within the stretch zone as well.

The risk zone includes things like having a functional part-time (or three-quarter times) side business established, starting a podcast, and branching out in my writing.

The ‘die’ zone includes things like traveling abroad frequently, giving a talk (or talks) at a conference or other large venue, and going all in on working (100%) for myself.

Just filling in that diagram was enough for the inner critic/imposter syndrome to drage me back into my comfort zone for a day or two. Hell, it took me almost two days to respond to a comment on the post in a group because of my inner critic.

In addition to that assignment, I took it a slight step further and generated a list of topics that I would enjoy writing and/or learning about on a continuous basis. I’ve seen/heard it so many times that one should look at the books they’re currently reading, their purchase histories, their hobbies, and their educational background.

My current list of topics to explore

When I looked at mine, I came up with a list that ranges from science (with various subtopics), history (again with various subtopics), anthropology, and other ‘school subjects’ to bird watching, reading, photography, cooking, spirituality, and numerous different crafts.

When asked if this helped me break out of the ‘I seem to be stuck’ mode–the answer was yes, because it reminded me that I enjoy doing research. It also reminded me that research doesn’t have to be done at the bench–it can also be done in books and via computers.

I told my coach that I was going to start looking at things as ‘research projects/papers’–do a survey of the surface, figure out what interests me, and then deep dive into the topic for awhile.

Truthfully this has been one of my biggest sticking points–trying to just choose one or two directions for a possible career change. I’ve realized over the past year that since graduating high school the things I enjoyed the most were: 1) undergrad–since there was such a large variety of classes one could take. It did take me awhile to get finished, but I was paying my own way–therefore I took classes I needed for the major in addition to classes that were of interest; 2) my first staff position (though there were some troublesome coworkers)–the main focus was helping with undergraduate research, so I had to have at least a brief understanding of the different projects that were going on in the department.

While I’ve been edging into the stretch zone (I have a blog up and running, and I’ve been getting better at evening meditations), I will still find myself being pulled back into the comfort zone (hence why I haven’t figured out the best posting schedule for the blog) before I edge back into the stretch zone.

Even with having a list of topics to start choosing from (knowing that I could add, and go more in depth with certain topics)–my inner critic/imposter syndrome managed to drag my ass back into my comfort zone for basically another week. The problem–I had too many ideas to choose from and I couldn’t decide between starting a history post/section, adding to the science section, or maybe focusing on book reviews.

The solution–I decided I would try to do a monthly ‘brain-dump’ of ideas and then pick a handful each week to work on.

March ‘Brain-Dump’

Doing this allowed me to still have a ‘choice’ of what I could research and write about—but from a pared down list. It is similar to how I decided to go about my non fiction reading and e-courses that I wanted to finish for the year.

The initial large list had sent me into ‘analysis-paralysis’, where the smaller list makes it easier for me to do things.

While it is a large list, I’m also comfortable with the fact that I many not cover or get to every topic on the list. The science (and history) topics are going to require a more in-depth outline and research time compared to the bird pages and blog posts.

Do things this way, will hopefully allow me to start stretching the comfort zone, moving the ‘risk’ to ‘stretch’ and contemplate on what other topics/ideas/things could be added to the ‘risk’ or ‘die’ zones.

I’m also going to be doing updates on the diagrams–probably in either three or four month increments, which means the first update will somewhere between mid-May to mid-June.

No Comments careerCraftsfinancesfitnessHealthLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesno spend challengesPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentReflectionsspirituality