Radio Active #94: Keep Calm and Geek On

Radio Active PodcastWelcome to 2021, the year in which we try to release more than one episode every 12 months.

On this episode of Radio Active, I talk about life during the COVID-19 pandemic, delve into using exercise and meditation to stay calm, and then geek out with the Nintendo Switch, Animal Crossings: New Horizons, Roll for the Galaxy, and more.

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Keep Calm…

2020 was a stressful year. 2021 is shaping up to be more of the same. My way of dealing with it? Keep calm, and focus on what I can control.

My Approach to Staying Calm

  • Be mindful.
    • Pay attention to the here and now.
    • Don’t get swept away by what if’s. There’s an infinity of things that could go wrong. Worrying about them won’t help.
  • Stay Focused
    • Don’t get caught up in other people’s drama. It’s a difficult time and there’s plenty to worry about within my own extended family unit. Borrowing trouble from folks beyond that is unhelpful and exhausting.
    • Don’t lose sight of what’s fun and enjoyable … even if that’s just a quiet Sunday afternoon of podcasting.
    • Maintain goals … but be flexible.
  • Stay Healthy
    • Make time for exercise, even if it’s just short walks between meetings.

Bullet Journaling

  • My bullet journal is the cornerstone of my “keeping calm” strategy.
  • A bullet journal is a hand-written journal that I use to keep track of daily meetings and tasks, maintain a week-ahead view, and sketch out my months. I also use it to jot down notes about the day, from challenges with the kids to the passing of a relative to accomplishing exercise goals.
  • For the first six months of the pandemic, the distinguishing feature of each day was that it was the same as the day before … and totally different, as the virus forced us to constantly shift plans.
  • I have just as much to do (if not more) than in the pre-COVID days.
  • Everything keeps changing, but the bullet journal keeps me organized.
  • Recently started adding my team’s stand-up cadence to each day (what I did yesterday, what I’m doing today). It adds some much-needed reflection.
  • Overall, it keeps me tethered to reality and helps me avoid getting overwhelmed.
  • You can learn more about my approach to bullet journaling on Nuketown.

Meditation via the Calm app

  • Meditation isn’t often considered a geeky thing, despite the fact that many of our geeky heroes do it (e.g. Jedi)
  • My own focus is on mindfulness (e.g. being more aware of the here and now, not getting caught up in circular thoughts, not kneejerk reacting to people or situations)
  • My tool of choice is the Calm app for iOS. I liked it enough to buy a subscription, which comes with:
    • The Daily Calm – daily 10-minute meditations
    • Relaxing music and soundscapes (e.g. rain on leaves)
    • Guided meditations for beginner, intermediate, and advanced meditation
    • “Sleep stories” to help fall you asleep (or get back to sleep)
  • It helps. A lot. If I start stressing out too badly, I meditate.

Exercise at Home

  • For the last five to six years, exercise has been a critical aspect of stress management for me. The COVID-19 era is probably the most stressful time any of us have experienced, so it’s more important now.
  • For me, exercise gives me a break from my everyday worries. It lets me focus on a particular activity, and gives me a good reason to avoid thinking about COVID-19 for a while.
  • Ultimately, I treat it as a mindfulness exercise – something I do specifically to maintain a routine, focus on my own health, and make progress toward goals that are largely within my control.
  • So what’s the approach?
    • Run three times a week.
    • Walk 2-3 miles up to five times a week in the morning. Listen to podcasts while I do this.
    • Core strengthening exercises, bodyweight exercises, and a variety of stretches.
    • Once it stops raining and the temperature stays above 40 degrees F, include bike riding.
    • During the day, build in 15-30 minutes between each meeting and use that time to walk, even if it’s just running downstairs for some water.
    • Move my work area around so I’m not sitting in the same place continuously. I have a jelly cupboard that I use as a standing desk on the first floor, and the back patio makes for a good work and meeting place if the neighbors aren’t out and the neighborhood dogs aren’t barking.
  • Overall, this strategy is working. I’m still stressed, but I feel better. I lost 20 lbs with this routine, and by maintaining it, I was able to keep the weight off.

… and Geek On

  • Roll for the Galaxy
    • The dice-based version of the card game.
    • Like the card game, it’s all about science fiction empire building. You explore the galaxy, colonize planets, establish various corporate and governmental interests, and score enough points to win.
    • I got it for Christmas 2019, and NeutronLad loves it (so much so, that we got two expansions)
    • During the game, you get a certain number of dice, which represent workers. You roll the dice, which randomly determines which workers are available, and each player chooses a work phase, which determines what work actually gets done.
    • Heck of a lot of fun. And yes, there’s a lot of smack talking.
  • Nintendo Switch
    • Just before things when into lockdown in March 2020, my daughter and I got Nintendo Switches (my son already had one).
    • We knew we’d need the distraction, and we were right. Great handheld system; it’s not as easy to stash as a Nintendo 3D6, but it’s got beautiful graphics
  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons
    • My daughter’s first video game – at age 4 – was Animal Crossing. Now 17, she still loves it. So does her soon-to-be 14-year-old brother. And so do I.
    • Each of us has our own towns (which avoids the mayoral debates we had in the 3DS version).
    • It’s fun to see how the kids’ Animal Crossing sensibilities have evolved over time.
      • StarGirl has a fun, comfy little town with a homemade coffee shop and tree-lined streets.
      • NeutronLad is terraforming his entire town to meet a much more structured vision of how things should be. He’s also very interested in securing certain cat-like villagers, like Bangle (the tiger).
      • My own town features a downtown and a small, dense village with an adjacent outside diner and performance center. It’s largely wilderness though (no doubt a projection of my own desire to get back outside).

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  • Is there anybody out there? We’re looking for podcast promos! Send yours to us at nuketown@gmail.com.

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  • A few of my bullet journals, one of my favorite tools for staying calm, focused, and mindful. Credit: Ken Newquist

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