Tag: spirituality

Oracle of the Shapeshifters: Days 21-25 of Challenge

Today marks the twenty-fifth day of the oracle card challenge. While I have taken a day or two off, here or there—I’m pledging to share an oracle card a day on Instagram for a year (decided to expand past the original 120 days, but not do the full 578 days). Therefore, the challenge will last roughly through the first week of July 2022 (depending on how many more days I may take off from the challenge).

So, days twenty-one to thirty are going to be from the Oracle of the Shapeshifter deck by Lucy Cavendish. I have several decks by Lucy, and I love the stories that one can spin from any of the cards, and lately I’ve been flipping though the cards until I come to one that really speaks to me for the day.

The card drawn for day twenty-one was the beautiful little worm. This is a card of ‘rest’, and the encouragement to slow down if only for a day or two to regroup one’s energy.

Take the time to breath, and rest if necessary

It is slightly funny that I drew this card on a Monday, and after spending time attempting to create an editorial calendar for the next few months (I have most of the creative/reflective pieces put in—now the work is to decide on the more ‘in-depth’ pieces and how many do I want per month).

The worm is here to remind us to rest, be kind to ourselves, exercise regularly but gently, and to organize our space enough that we have a place to escape and relax when needed.

These are things I’ve been working on daily for the past few months—self-compassion, rest, intentional movements, and intuitive eating are things that hopefully may come more ‘naturally’ as I practice them. While I have no desire to return to the ‘old normal’, I realize that finding my ‘new normal’ will still take awhile.

The card drawn for day twenty-two was the ‘mermaid in a koi pond’ card.

Rediscover who you are…become the dragon.

She is here to remind us that having a safe haven is nice and needed from time to time, but if we stay too long—we tend to outgrow the haven.

I’m working on expanding my ‘safe haven’, since we’re still in the middle of the pandemic, I’m not keen on doing anything extremely rash.

I am also working on moving ‘upstream’ as well—currently the biggest ‘obstacles’-having too many ideas bouncing around in my head, and semi-horrible time management skills.

I’m working on both—I have (more or less) basically all creative/reflective ideas written out on a calendar, now it to figure out what ‘in-depth’ topics I want to add, the length and the depth of the topic, and when I would like to ‘publish’ the small/medium/large articles.

Science communication is vital these days, and while I could just jump in—I’m trying to ensure that what I share is written in a way that everyone can understand it (not just us science nerds), and that is the difficult part—but can only get better with constant practice in writing, publishing, and getting feedback from others.

The card drawn for day twenty-three was the ‘you are unlike anyone else’ card.

Embrace what makes you unique and complex

A reminder that we are all unique individuals and shouldn’t try to blend into the crowd—that is something I’m slowly working on, figuring out how to stand out in the crowd.

During this career change/transition, I’ve realized where I need to focus: writing (all styles—with focus more on scientific/technical plus creative), time and project management, in addition to possibly learning some coding on the side.

I’m going to ‘reinvent’ myself from a bench scientist to a scientific journalist/project manager who also takes time to focus on crafts and hobbies.

What to share on various sites are still up in the air (especially on Instagram), but I know that I will get there—it just requires baby steps and the willingness to stop, take a breath and keep moving forward when the inner critic/imposter syndrome wants me to move back into the shadows.

The card drawn for day twenty-four was ‘Poe’s Brave Flight’.

Move forward, even if you are afraid

A reminder that when we constantly play it safe and work to avoid things that could ‘hurt’, we end up shrinking ourselves daily.

I will admit to ‘playing it safe’ in terms of my career, I gave academia years long than I should have—because I was ‘scared’ to make a change. I was ‘scared’ to possibly choose wrong and end up in another ‘situation from hell’.

Well, I’m slowly stepping out from my safe zone. I took a volunteer writing position to gain experience in medical content writing, I’m trying to consistently share science news on LinkedIn, and trying to publish creative/reflective pieces somewhat consistently on the blog. In terms of science communications/writing—I’m going to list all sort of topics that interest me (in addition to looking back at news stories) and randomly pick things to look into, write on, and share on various sites.

The card drawn for today, day twenty-five was card seven: bats in the belfry.

Move forward with a little help from those who ‘can’ see in the dark

The bats are a reminder that one can achieve great things (even if they look strange to others). They can show one how to find their way, even if the path is currently ‘hidden’.

To move ahead in life, it may seem like things are upside down and going against what others may think is best for you—but that is when one needs to have even more courage, imagination, and boldness to move towards their dreams.

I’m slowly moving forward with more imagination, and little more boldness and courage. This weekend is going to be partial spent determining other sites/online magazines/forums that I could possibly submit articles to, brainstorming ideas for crafts (such as photography and maybe jewelry), and others ideas to start diversify things.

One thing I will need to work on–balancing writing the creative/reflective pieces with the more in-depth ‘research’ pieces. Though I think it is almost safe to say that I’m going to focus on creating a freelance/online/remote/contract career that is focused on writing, data analysis, project management, and crafts.

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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?

No Comments careerCraftsfinancesfitnessHealthLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesno spend challengesPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentReflectionsspiritualitytravelUpdates

‘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.

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Looking back at the Aquarius New Moon Goals.

So we’re going to be having the third new moon of the year this weekend. Unlike last year, hopefully the transition to daylight savings time won’t be the headache it was last year (remember–the full moon, time change, followed by Friday the 13th, and then the global lock down due to the SARS-CoV2 virus?).

Therefore it is time to look at the goals that I set for the Aquarius new moon and see how I did with each of them before looking ahead to the Pisces new moon.

So what were the goals that I set for the Aquarius new moon? They included:

Sorting, and editing the large number of digital photos on the computer.

Go through the large amounts of shirts and see what currently fits and what should be set aside (semi-clothing challenge)

Set up my Wiccan/pagan altar

Continue working on my evolving vision of my future

So how did I do with each of them?

I’m slowly sorting through the large number of digital photos that I have on the computer. While the long-term goal is to cut the number in half, it will take a while to go through over 10 years of pictures and decide which to keep and which to get rid of. I am happy to say that I’ve ‘recovered’ over a GB of space so far on the computer. Though I still have quite a ways to go to get it to ‘half’–currently I have almost 99GB of memory going for pictures–the goal is half, which means 49.5GB of memory. I’m now aiming at trying to recover between 1 & 3GB of memory every two weeks–which means it will probably take me another four to five months to par the pictures down (not counting the number I’ll be adding weekly once I start walking at Boomer Lake again).

The clothing challenge still stands. Since I spend most of my time currently in workout clothes, I truthfully hardly open the closet. Which means that I could probably donate a majority of the shirts and not realize they’re gone. While I’ve never considered myself a ‘clothing snob’-I realize that the reason why I have so many shirts–I hate doing laundry. Therefore I spent money buying shirts instead of spending the time doing laundry, or I bought several shirts as ‘souvenirs’ on vacation.

I will still be going through the closet at some point this spring and probably putting at least another box of shirts under the bed–probably to be donated once I’ve gotten the vaccine and feel comfortable to leave the house.

So I’ve started to set up my Wiccan/pagan altar. The altar will always be ‘a work in progress’ as the items one has out can change depending on the season or needs.

My starting point for my Wiccan/pagan altar

Currently I have mine set up on a small shelf–which is one of the reasons why it is ‘still a work in progress’. But, I’ve also thought of the current location as the ‘holding zone’ and will be moving items as needed to the actual area where I meditate and read oracle cards (as the shelf doesn’t have enough room for me to also spread out cards).

Since I’m an earth/water child (star-Virgo (earth), rising-Scorpio (water), moon-Pisces (water)), my altar also leans heavily in those directions.

There is a wood carving of a dolphin & sea turtle (purchased down in South Padre Island, Texas several years ago), in addition to the statue of the Goddess Danu, the Celtic goddess of life, and a statue of a goddess holding the triple moon pentagram and spiral.

I also have numerous crystals and minerals–both smooth and rough, I have worry stones off to the left next to a bag of Nordic runes (something that I’m interested in learning to read).

Since altars usually have symbolic items for the four elements (earth, air, fire, and water)–I’m currently missing an item for air and fire, but will be looking for those over the next few weeks/months. While I have a bell (that could be symbolic for air), it is currently packed away in my storage unit. Therefore, unless I stumble upon it repacking my storage unit–I will be looking for another symbolic element.

I may look for symbolic carvings or statues for the two elements, but sticking with Celtic and Norse traditions (as this is my heritage–Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, Welsh, English, and also a little German as well).

The final goal of the Aquarius new moon was to continue working on my evolving vision of my future and try to project it two or three years into the future. Yeah, this didn’t really happen–I ended up with a mild anxiety attack instead of an idea of my future.

I’ve realized that one of the problems for me in trying to move my vision forward is the fear that I’m going in the wrong direction, taking the wrong job, lose said wrong job, and be back at square one.

What I have to continue reminding myself–even if something goes wrong, it still went right. I will have learned something from the situation/job that I can apply to the next job/position/situation. Something only stays as a negative if one fails to spin it into a positive.

For the past couple of months, I’ve had the same idea(s) for my career–having a freelancing business going (writing, data analysis, project management, photography, and/or online tutoring), but at the same time also working for a company (possibly as a clinical research scientist, market research analyst, or something else). The reasons for having both of them: 1) the freelance business allws me the freedom to chose what I’m doing (giving reign to the learner and intellection strengths), 2) working for a company allows me to have more interactions with people (yes, I know I would have them as a freelancer, but it may be a little more structured this way), and 3) ability to know that no matter what I’m getting a monthly paycheck.

So, that could be considered an evolving vision of where I see myself in a couple of years–now I need to determine the plan for each path, determine the steps and goals, and then start putting in the work to get there.

So I had basically four goals for the Aquarius new moon–two were accomplished (I started setting up my altar, and going through all my digital photos), and the other two were kinda of hit and misses. The evolving vision was semi-figured out while writing the post, but I haven’t gone through the clothes in the closet yet.

2021 is turning out to be a year of growth, creativity, and curiosity. It is leading to improved happiness and will also hopefully lead to improved prosperity as well this year.

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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.

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Aquarius New Moon Goals. Brainstorming ideas, setting goals, and drafting the plans to achieve them

So the moon entered the Aquarius constellation either last night or tonight (depending on where you are in the world). I think the new moon was last night for me–though we’ve been so cloudy and cold, I haven’t seen any stars for the past couple of nights. The enterance into the Aquarius constellation marks the second new moon of 2021. We’ve made it through teh first 42 days of 2021, and some have been chaotic, some calm, but the rest have been somewhere in between.

Looking at ‘Moonology: Working with the magic of lunar cycles’ by Yasmin Boland, there are several things that one can do during this period:

Detach ourselves from things that no longer serve us

Be true to ourselves

Be inventive

Be charitable

Be social

Looking at the above list–it is difficult to try to be social as we’re still in the middle of a pandemic. I’m working on being true to myself (starting with physical and spiritual health), and slowly detaching myself from things that no longer serve me (mainly the diet mentality and the baggage associated with it).

Then there is the aspect of what zone (or house) the moon is moving into with regards to everything. There are three different ways that you can go about figuring out the house/zone: by your star sign, your rising sign, or your moon sign. I usually go with my rising sign which is Scorpio, though I could do my star (Virgo) or moon (Pisces).

By using Scorpio, this means that the moon is entering my fourth house, or the home and family zone. This then means it is a time to spend cleaning, possibly moving, or spending more time with family. Again, there are several suggestions from ‘Moonology’ on what one can do during this time (for the fourth house):

Have a garage sale

Hug your parents

Sort through your photo albums/digital photo files

Invite friends over

Renovate or redecorate so you’re more comfortable at home

Sell your home and/or change locations, or even countries

Ask your grandparents about your family’s history.

Looking at that list, there are some things that aren’t happening (or don’t happen that often)–hugging my parents (we’re not the overly affectionate type of family), having friends over (everyone is busy, plus we’re still in the middle of a pandemic). Since both sets of grandparents are deceased, I can’t really inquire about family history. Though my grandfather did write me a letter about growing up in the Depression and serving in WWII–one of these days I may share the transcribed letter.

I also won’t be having a garage sale (again–pandemic, and too much work to only get ride of a little bit of stuff), renovate (my parents own the house not me). Though I may redocrate my room a little. As much as I would like to move/change locations–again, pandemic and I currently don’t have a steady income (which would be necessary for said move or change in location).

Therefore if I were to make a list of goals for the Aquarius new moon to cover both areas (things for the new moon plus the family/friends zone) they would be:

Sorting through the large amount of digital photos on the computer

Sorting through the clothes in the closet and figuring out what fits and what doesn’t (box up the second and possibly donate)

Set up my wiccan/pagan altar

Continue working on my evolving vision of my future–try to project it say two to four years forward.

Finally remembering that no matter how slowly I need to go, this year will be a year of growth, creativity, and curiosity, which will lead to happiness and prosperity.

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Leo Full Moon Goals: Making total health a priority, in addition to other goals

So tonight marks the first full moon of 2021. We survived 2020, and while I was questioning if 2020 stole a couple of weeks from 2021–I’m confident that we’ll survive 2021 as well. I missed a few months of new and full moon goal setting throughout 2020–and I will basically blame that on the pandemics (both the SARS-CoV2 and the ever rampant stupidity pandemic) for missing them. I have realized that when I do take the time to reflect on the questions for the full moon, or the other activities one can do during the new moon–I feel a little calmer (at least for a day or two).

I decided that instead of having a single word to try to define 2021, I would have several and picked: growth, creativity, curiosity, happiness, and prosperity. In addition, I’m working on refining my core values and merging them with my strengths while working on strengthening a weakness or two.

What are some questions to reflect on during the first few days of the full moon? According to “Moonology: working with the magic of the lunar cycles” by Yasmin Boland, they are:

Have I been too self-centered, egotistical, or proud?

Have I been treating the people around me like minions?

Have I been arrogant, vain, pushy, or pompous?

Have I been expressing myself creatively enough?

Have I shown myself enough self-love?

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

  1. After last year, I think I can safely say that I haven’t been self-centered or egotistical really about anything. But I can say that I’m proud that I survived the year without having any type of major mental breakdowns. Though over the past year, I have defended my beliefs in everything from wearing masks and social distancing to why I think schools should be taught virtual–defending those stances did upset some people, and several have un-friended me on Facebook. But I’ve gotten to the point where I have very little time and energy for certain types of people.
  2. No, I haven’t been treating the people around me like minions. I live at home with my parents currently–there are no minions here.
  3. Again, nope I haven’t been arrogant, vain, pushy, or pompous. People will probably say that I’m usually the opposite of quite a few of those adjectives.
  4. No, I haven’t been expressing myself creatively enough lately. While I have been trying to write more posts for the blog, it has been a little too chilly for walks at Boomer Lake (while I know I can bundle up–I’m more worried about the temperatures, condensation, and possibly wrecking a $600 digital camera that I currently can’t afford to replace). I am going to be trying my hand at cross-stitching, plus I’ve come up with an idea or two for trying to mend the afghans that my pup chewed holes in.
  5. Again, this one is basically a no, that I haven’t been showing myself enough self-love. While I’ve been sticking with a consistent workout schedule for the past eight months–I still need to work on improving my mental, spiritual, emotional, and social health habits. Over the past few months, I’ve realized that I’m just starting to come out of the total and complete burnout that I was keeping myself immersed in for years (more on this in another post). I’m working on ways to process and deal with stress (that don’t revolve around eating chocolate constantly), reconstructing the negative self-talk, plus trying to acknowledge and work with my inner critic/anxiety instead of against it. I’ve also decided that I’m still keeping the word diet out of my vocabulary and working on improving my relationship with food.

So a good portion of this year is still going to be focused on self-care/love. This will still include a daily workout (my current year schedule will be finishing up Muscle Burns Fat Advance in the early part of February, then on to Barre Blend, then the live versions of 21-Day Fix/21-Day Fix Extreme, a 3rd round of LIIFT4, a 2nd round of Morning Meltdown 100, a 2nd round of 10 rounds, and then finishing the year with either Country Heat or CIZE), evening meditations, oracle/tarot card readings, listening to podcasts, reading, journaling, time outdoors, and just trying to reconnect with my inner spirit/voice.

Looking at my chart–the Leo full moon is also going through my 10th house (or my career zone). I’m still considering myself on a semi-‘reboot break’ (since 2020 took all my plans and threw them out the window with the pandemic)–but I do need to start trying to figure out what I’m doing with the second half of my life.

I have a couple of ideas bouncing around in my head in terms of possible paths, but I need to do a little more research to make sure that those ideas/paths will let me focus on my strengths (learner, intellection, input, achiever, deliberative/ideation/arranger, creativity, curiosity, and critical thinking), while also improving one or two of my ‘weaknesses’. In addition I want to ensure that the paths, plus my strengths are also connected to my values (vitality, spirituality/inner harmony/peace, creativity/curiosity, learning/knowledge, and evolution/growth/transformation/openness)–some of which are identical to some of my strengths.

I’ve put health (mental, physical, and spiritual) as core values–because I’ve learned the hard way that trying to focus solely on my career lead me to becoming burnt out on everything. I’ve only started rediscovery my joy of learning, reading on different topics, and other things over the past six to eight months. I won’t say that I’m back to ‘normal’ yet–because I’m not. But I’m slowly getting there–but to fully get there I also need to prioritize my health above all else, or I will fall back to the bottom of the pit of burnout again if I neglect them.

So what are my goals for the Leo full moon?

  1. Continue with my fitness schedule–to begin with finish up Muscle Burns Fat Advance and then move on to Barre Blend.
  2. Write down the current ideas I have for going freelance/independent/remote, in addition to also seeing what other industry positions may be of interest, plus figure out other ways of earning a little extra income
  3. Spend time working on crafts–and doing more than just color-by number. I’m talking learning to cross-stitch, patch up the afghans, making jewelry, doodling, coloring, and once the weather warms up–getting back up to Boomer Lake with my camera.
  4. Meditating, oracle card readings, reading different books on spirituality, and hopefully finally setting up my altar for doing my card readings.

All of this while reminding myself: “Progress over Perfection”, “You can’t start the next chapter of your life, if you keep re-reading the last one”, and “Not caring what other people think is the best choice you will ever make”.

No Comments AstrologycareerCraftsfinancesfitnessFull Moon GoalsHealthno spend challengesPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentRebootBreakReflectionsspirituality

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.

No Comments careerfinancesfitnessHealthjob searchingPandemic2020Personal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentReflectionsspiritualitytarot cardstravel

Cancer New Moon Goals: Review

So tomorrow, the moon will be entering another new moon phase, and it will be the second one for the month of July (and is also considered a black super moon—aka the second new moon in a month), though for some it will actually fall on August 1st. This means that July is basically over, and there are only a little over 150 days left in the year. It also means that it’s time to look back at the goals that were set for the Cancer new moon, and see how I did with them.

So what were my goals for the Cancer new moon?

1) Review, edit, and update my 12-month goals/plans for the different areas that I set out back under the Aries new moon.

2) Meditate nightly (even if it’s only for a couple of minutes).

3) Do a daily tarot/oracle card reading (even if I don’t share on social media right away).

4) Read at least one more non-fiction book (two-three would be great)

5) Start working through some of the different e-courses that I’ve bought over the past two years.

So how did I do with each one?

  1. I’m still reviewing, editing, and updating my 12-month goals/plans especially since I’m going to be starting a reboot break/pause towards the end of the year. I’m slowly figuring out what I want to do in life (I have several ideas brewing), and I know that the goals that I set out a few moons ago are in need of constant adjustment.
  2. I’ve managed to do this, even if it’s only for a few minutes. I’d like to be able to get back to where I was meditating for five minutes or more, but I know that I can get there—it will just take daily/evening work to get there.
  3. I have been doing daily oracle/tarot card readings, but I’ve only been sharing maybe once a week on social media. This is because I feel like some of the readings are a little too personal for social media (or at least the messages seem that way). I will try to share at least twice a week (if not more often).
  4. I managed to finish two books during the new moon period. One was about decluttering and the other was about pausing (taking a break) to help figure out one’s life.
  5. I’ve tried to start some of the e-courses, but only manage about ten minutes here or there. I know that I should schedule time for doing them (and I may try to do it the last hour or so of the workday).

So I managed to do pretty well with the goals for the Cancer new moon period, though I might not have gotten as much done with a few as I would have liked—a little progress is better than none. Also in terms of the e-courses, while I have numerous ones—I may start with the ones that I feel could be the most beneficial at this time, work through those and then move on to the next set of courses. It has only taken me almost thirty-nine years to realize that I really haven’t been steering my ship, I’ve been adrift on the current but now I’m slowly starting to readjust the course of the ship.

No Comments AstrologyLifestyle ChallengesNew Moon GoalsPersonal Developmentprofessional development

Oracle Deck Review: Oracle of the Unicorns

So one of the things that I have decided to work more on cultivating is my spirituality. Note—I said spirituality and not religion. I don’t believe in organized religion, or the idea that you have to be threatened with the thought of eternal damnation to be a good person. If you need that threat to behave—you have moral issues in addition to spiritual issues.

Depending on my mood (and possibly people around me), I fluctuate between saying that I’m a pagan/wiccan and I’m an atheist. The last time I actually set foot inside a church was back in 2001 for my older brother’s wedding. My main criticism of organized religion is that they all argue that one is better than the other, when in truth they’re all the same (just slightly different forms) and no matter what—we all bleed the same.

So in terms of cultivating my spirituality more, I’ve decided that I’d do a couple of different things: 1) to read more books on different aspects of spirituality (there are probably a good half a dozen on my personal/professional development book list), 2) build my own pagan/wiccan altar, and 3) do a daily tarot/oracle card reading (which may or may not be posted on social media). I think that there have only been probably two or three days this year that I haven’t posted my evening oracle card reading.

In terms of the daily card readings, I have also decided that each month I will try to stick with one oracle/tarot card deck. Currently I have like six different decks in my room (and another three or four in my storage unit). Card readings have always fascinated me, in that it’s a way of seeing what the universe has in store for us, and to possibly get another view to a question.

So last month’s deck that I used as the Oracle of the Unicorns (which I bought out in Salem last October when I was there on a mini-vacation). I have always been fascinated by the idea of supernatural creatures (and I don’t mean the horror show variety), but ones that have both a human side and an otherworldly side (I guess that is one reason why I’m drawn to paranormal romances as well). So back to the cards—January was the month of the unicorn for me. This was the second month of using oracle cards for guidance (December was using the enchanted spell oracle cards), and wisdom.

So the oracle of the unicorns has forty-four cards in the deck, and over the course of January, only two cards weren’t drawn in a reading (either privately or ones posted on Instagram). Of the other cards, the number of times ranged from a single drawing to eight times over the month. The cards that showed up the most in the drawing included:

Adventure (8 times),

Passion (8 times),

Strength (8 times),

Freedom (7 times),

Prosperity (6 times),

Imagination (5 times),

Intuition (5 times),

Miracles (5 times),

Patience (5 times),

Rebirth (5 times), and

Trust (5 times). The others (other than leadership and beloved) showed up between one and four times, throughout the month.

So let’s look at some of the readings that I did last month:

January 9th Spread

So on the 9th, the spread stated that adventure and change are still on the horizon, though it is also a time for self compassion and forgiveness. Strength and passion will also see you through the process as well. One of the things that I am trying to work on this year, is replacing the negative self-talk with more positive self talk (more compassion towards myself). Adventure is pretty self explanatory—the world is a large place, and we really shouldn’t stay in just a small area of if (though now traveling is expensive—but one should try to do at least one trip a year; preferably to somewhere they haven’t been before).

The passion card refers to more than just doing what you love—it also refers to taking care of yourself. Again this is something that I’m working on this year. Though my methods may go against the norm, but I’m going with moderation (still having snacks [i.e. chocolate and candy], and not putting a label on food [good vs bad]), and doing some type of exercise at least six days a week—a rest day is always good).

The strength card is referring to the fact that life will always be testing us, and that we can get through it to the other side stronger than what we started. The “main test” this year is my transition from academia to industry, and finding my footing again in terms of getting into the best shape of my life.

January 16th pyramid reading

So on the 16th I decided to do a pyramid reading using the cads. I was thinking on another question in terms of my job search (the why), and got quite a bit of information from the unicorns. They were urging me to remember what excites me about science, but at the same time listen to my inner voice and be in the moment. There will be more networking on the horizon and a new path will be forged and support from other will help on the way.

The awareness card reminds us that only when we are truly living in the moment do we actually feel peace and security—and that our guides are watching over us and that things are happening for a reason. The passion card showed up again in the pyramid—showing that it has a firmer foundation when you surround yourself with liked minded individuals who are also seeking to grow. But at the same time you need to listen to your inner voice and trust your instincts (intuition).

The rebirth card showed up in the spread. This unicorn urges you to shed what no longer is of use to you, so that you can continue growing into the person you were meant to be. The support and friendship cards showed up to remind us that we don’t have to do everything alone, that there are people who support us in our journeys and to surround ourselves with them.

January 20th spread

This was a reading that I did right around the time of the Leo full moon, and I was also trying to reflect back on different areas of my life. I noticed that the unicorns were urging me to slowly start stepping out of my comfort zone so that I could grow and reinvent myself this year. I had stated that while change can be scary, its better than being stuck in a job you don’t love and one that doesn’t offer that much growth.

So again the passion card showed up in the spread, as well as the rebirth card. In addition to the oracles of celebration, flow, and expansion.

The oracle of celebration reminds us to look for even the smallest achievements and successes that we’ve been having (for me at times that means getting through the work day without actually saying what is on my mind), and that if we remain positive, we will be reward with positive outcomes as well.

The oracle of flow reminds us that somethings aren’t meant for us and that once we realize that and surrender the outcome things become much easier to navigate. All you can do is your best, and once the day is done—the day is done. No one should be trying to repeat and correct days that they had already done their best on.

The oracle of expansion is reminding us that we need to spread our wings and soar. Once that happens we can share our magic with the world, and maybe just maybe start making the world a better place for all of us.

January 23rd reading

Adventure is still on the horizon, but as always there is an obstacle in the path, but strength and believing in myself will see me through to the other side. Action, self love, and believing in dreams will also see me through.

So the adventure and strength cards showed up again in today’s spread. The main obstacle to my transition is my negative thoughts and doubts about what I actually want to be doing in my next career. The unicorns are saying that I’m ready for taking that step—I just need to believe in myself and take that first step. In addition, I need to practice self love and realize that I’m not going to look like others even once I get into the best shape of my life—but that I need to love myself now and realize that getting into shape isn’t to punish or change, but to honor myself by being able to do things that I’ve wanted to do (but haven’t due to the fact that I’m out of shape).

Also I’m reminded that there are divine powers that are watching over me, and that at the right time my “prayers” or requests will be answered by the universe.

January 24th spread

The unicorns said that change is still on the horizon, and that hard work, patience and imagination will get me there; along with help from friends and mentors.

The oracle of patience is to remind us that it is okay to slow down every once in awhile—if we do hard work, put in the effort, there are times when all you can then do is wait (i.e. after a job interview) to see if the fruits of your labor paid off. The oracle of growth is reminding us that having a mentor (or several mentors) can always help the process go a little quicker as well.

The oracle of imagination is there to remind us not to neglect the other half of our selves—the side that loves imagining new things, ideas, creations, and so forth. In addition the healer showed up in the spread, to remind that we all have gifts to share with the world.

So these were just a few of my evening readings from last month. As I continue on my spiritual path, I’m slowly realizing that there are some decks that make it easier to share the insights, while other decks seem to be a little more personal in the readings and interpretations. The unicorn deck is one deck that I will be going back once I’ve cycled through all of my decks.

Also once I have my wicca/pagan altar built, the guidance of the cards may pop a little more than what it’s currently doing (as my current reading spot is on the rug in my bedroom).

If you are looking for an oracle deck to start using yourself for inspiration and guidance, this is one (of probably many) that I strongly recommend.

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