New Year, New Mike: The wheel of reinvention never stops.

Yes, it is January. And what does that mean? Reflection but of course. My blog is one big ode to my self improvement. Years ago, I had the brilliant idea of using my blog as a way to keep track of my New Year’s resolutions. A look at what I want to be and a way to hold myself accountable. Since then, I’ve been able to look back at years past and see if I accomplished what I set out to accomplish. I’ve had surprising success writing out my resolutions this way and I’m excited to share what I have planned for this year.

What I’ve Learned

Since I’ve started posting my habits on my blog, I’ve kept my goals as continuous goals. It’s not a one and done list! Instead, I modify and adapt. As such, my goals aren’t shear chaos as they were in years past. They are a constant and I’m glad. With each passing year, they become more focused and refined.

I have started using January as a planning month. Instead of running to the gym come January first, I take my time to carefully consider what I want to do. Since I’ve only started doing this quite recently, I have no idea what the end result will be.

Not a French Kisser

One of my goals for last year was to learn French. My German has become much improved since my youth and I found it time for a new language. I have a French friend and one of my dreams is to make my triumphant return to Europe, not as a boy but as a man. So I’ve been practicing French. The great news is that I’ve started. The bad news is I haven’t been practicing as much as I like. So this year, I’m doubling down. Lessons every day, more French shows, and listening to podcasts. As an added goal, I want to do more to measure my success with languages. My reasons, pardon my French, are rather dorky. I am learning Japanese simply for the sake that I’ve played Nintendo games my entire life. French is to impress my friend. And German was so that I wouldn’t starve to death in the airport when I did study abroad.

My goal right now is to learn French, German, Spanish, and Japanese to fluency. Outside of those languages, I may or may not pick up sign language but only time will tell. My Spanish is rusty and needs work. German I can understand but like Spanish my goal is to learn it so I can hold conversation. This is going to be a year of polish and I’m excited to see where it takes me.

Coding

Coding went surprisingly well. My main focus this year is web development. I’ve been lazy the last couple of months but I found coding material that is not only practical but enjoyable. But tough. Very, very tough. If I build a game, great, but web development comes above all else. I’m putting no pressure on myself for this, I am simply treating it as another skill to learn. It could take years or weeks, but my pace is my own.

Piano Man play me a tune

One of my goals has been to hone my musical craft. In my effort to be the smartest man in the room, music is one obstacle I haven’t quite been able to tackle. Motivation is key. So I reviewed instruments and landed on piano. It’s a social instrument and meant to be shared. I can walk into a building and should I find a piano, nine times out of ten I can sit down and play. The other aspect is lessons are easily available. Piano song guides are plastered around the internet and if I want to learn a song, I can. Try doing the same for violin and you’ll find much more of a headache. I still have my Skillshare account, so I’ll be doing lessons over there. It’ll be off and on but I’m hopeful something will stick eventually. The goal is to make it fun and slowly but surely I am getting there.

Cooking

An elusive habit since I’ve moved back home. In college, I learned how to cook. I made many dishes during my studies and found that cooking was not only cost effective but also a tastier option to eating out. So this year, I’d like to ease back into cooking my own meals. The plan currently is to sign up for a New York Times Cooking subscription and to start looking through a cooking blog I only recently found out about, Food52. I am going to slowly integrate cooking as a lifestyle choice rather than simply force myself to cook for the sake of cooking. There is no set plan for my meals but I’m starting the year by simply looking at interesting recipes. Life is a little chaotic right now so I don’t know when I’ll go shopping but I have faith this year I can really get back into making delicious meals.

Big Picture Goal

Individual, SMART goals are great, but they’re not enough to move someone forward. As has become tradition, I’ve been theming my years. A year of Assertive here, a year of New there… These frameworks help set up the plan for the year and help bring together my “Why”.

So this year I want to be my year of Desire. Desire in the sense of asking myself what I want and setting out to get what I want. When I became an Eagle Scout, I picked out a silver coin of one of our laws. In that moment, I picked courteous as I thought it best represented who I was. Always thinking of others, trying to please everyone to the best of my abilities. Later in life I learned that if you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one. And now I’m ready for the next evolution of that concept; being courteous to myself. So this year is about my goals and getting ahead in life. It’ll be paying off my student loans, helping with as many events as I can and eventually transitioning to project management roles. It’s time I stop sidelining myself and focus on my success, whatever it takes to get there.

Other Goals for the Year

While new skills are a blessing to learn and typically what I choose to focus on, I also want to instill other habits beyond simply building my human capital. For that, I have two goals for 2022. And those two goals are more walks and riding my bike again.

Walking

In Corvallis, I opted to walk every day to class. It gave me time to think and enjoy simply being in the moment. I could walk everywhere and it was great. Now, when I try to walk, I find I have no destination. So I’ve been looking to change that. I’ve recently gotten into Pok√©mon Go this past year and downloaded Pikmin Bloom as a way to encourage walking. Now going out has a destination and I couldn’t be happier. This year, I want to ramp up my walks and make them more rewarding. Between the two apps, I think I’m on the right track.

Biking

I bought an electric bike. Right before the Pandemic… The good news, last year I finally put it together. How many times have I ridden it? Once… I went from biking every day in college to nothing. So this year, we are going to course correct. I want to ride and I’m going to use my brother to help me get back in the habit. He’s started riding a lot this last year and he clearly has found a motivation I am lacking. So the easiest way forward is to join him. Sibling outings until I’m comfortably riding on my own again. I’ve felt rather homebound for the last couple years with my anxiety, so I’m hoping bike rides will help restore some of the freedom I lost. It’ll be nice to bike to work instead of taking the bus and should I need to get somewhere, it’ll hopefully be less of an ordeal than it has been for the last two years.


Happy New Year! That’s it for the article! Overall, I’m hopeful 2022 is going to be a great year. I’ve taken a lot of time for myself during the Pandemic and have come away better for it. Cheers to 2022!

4 Things I’m doing to stay sane during the apocalypse

So the world has ended and you don’t know what to do. Social norms have disintegrated overnight and you’re left to your own thoughts. You slowly feel the insanity creep as you lose track of days and time starts to become irrelevant. While we’re not quite at the point where I can make use of my horseback riding and archery skills, I thought it might be fun to cover some tips and tricks I’m doing to keep sane. Remember when I used to do bullet point articles? Yes, it’s that time again! Without further ado, let us jump into number one:

1) Meditation

My go to recommendation, especially now. Where our world was once filled with noise, we now have upon us a forced quiet. There is no more go, there is only being in the moment. Like any skill, meditation is something you teach yourself. We are wired for connection, so being able to disconnect yourself from the world is invaluable for a pandemic. The hardest part is simply the act of starting. I love meditation and I still find it hard to simply sit down and start the meditation. I meditated for 9 months straight the last time I was unemployed and the health benefits were immediately noticed. Back then I did 5 minutes a day and eventually 10. I wore a sleeping mask and typically had my window open to feel a breeze and listen to the leaves rustle. Eventually I stopped when I started working but have once again been meditating off and on. If your chest is tight, just take a little time to breathe deeply. My meditation is quite enjoyable right now and I went ahead and bought a game called “Playne” to help. 9 months of blind folding myself was great but that can be taxing. With Playne, I simply start the game and I can choose different ambient sounds like a creek, wind, or rain to listen to while I meditate. It also has a visual world and a story (as well as guided meditations) so it’s been well worth the $15 I paid. I’ve been doing 20 minutes a day and for me, it completely rids me of anxiety for the rest of the day.

2) Exercise

My love, hate activity. Another show stopper that reminds me how poorly designed we as humans are. There are only benefits to exercise so you’d think the brain would prioritize it over all else. Yet it doesn’t, so you have to trick the brain. It might be easy to justify not exercising right now since all the gyms are closed but you can indeed, exercise at home. This article may foreshadow some topics to come but for now I just want to introduce you to some ideas you might not have considered before. Before the pandemic, I rode public transit and spent about 40 minutes of my commute walking. On weekends, I made it a habit to go to the bouldering gym. If it sounds sad that I built a bouldering gym in Animal Crossing, you’d be right. If you don’t know what Animal Crossing is, shame on you. What’s not said is an idea I had to turn exercise into a game. If I could make it fun, then my brain would want to do it in the future. As a planner, I like to have versatility in my approach. Bouldering was fantastic and is missed dearly but I also set up my home for exercise. 10 years ago I bought the iron gym and that was not so fun; this year I bought “Ring Fit Adventure” for the Switch, which is very fun. The game works as follows; you have a ring that you use to work out. You push and pull the ring to build resistance in your muscles. There’s a variety of activities to choose from ranging anywhere from upper body workouts to yoga. The second brilliant aspect is the joycon leg strap, which you strap to your leg and you can jog within the virtual game world! The game itself is an RPG (role playing game) that has enemies to defeat, clothing to unlock, and a world to save. If you hate exercise, learning to turn it into a game (or better yet, buy a game) is the way to go. I also just downloaded Pokemon Go and bought the Pokemon Go Plus accessory, which allows me to play the game while keeping my phone in my pocket. While I’m avoiding the outdoors as much as possible right now, I take comfort in knowing that should I get too agitated, I can go for a walk and train Pokemon, because lets face it, it’s extremely hard to stay inside 24/7.

3) Cardboard

No, I did not make a typo; since this is my list, these are my rules. Ok, so this is more about DIY projects but I’m still going to talk about cardboard. It started after I bought a switch and was unhappy with my job. I did a little soul searching and my goal for the last year was to recapture my long lost childhood magic. I used to build when I was younger. I would take apart mechanisms and turn them into art. My favorite was the fencer I made from a mini radio. There was an antennae I used as a sword and the speaker covers made a great mask. The fencer has been lost to the ages, but the memory has not. And then there was cardboard. Large boxes made forts and smaller boxes were broken down and repurposed. I once made a house for Mario and Luigi from boxes, complete with stairs and a chimney. While I don’t remember much from my cardboard days, I do remember the long forgotten love of crafting. So when Nintendo came out with Nintendo labo, I said, “why not”? I’ve built a piano, a fishing rod, and even a steering wheel (and motorcycle wheel) for Mario Kart and I was able to recapture a little of my long lost childhood magic. I’ve also built a fully functional virtual reality headset out of cardboard, so thanks Nintendo for making me smile in a way I haven’t smiled in a very long time. So moral of the story, do DIY projects. This covers a wide range, from sitting down and assembling your electric bike to fermenting hard cider and kombucha. I’m talking about projects you can sink hours into.

4) Play Video Games

So this is a habit I never really considered having a huge impact on my behavior and overall welfare. Typically, video games have been historically frowned upon as a hobby. Fun but ultimately a waste of time. When I did the math, however, this was far from the case. Take TV for example. You are simply sitting, you are not engaged. As far as brain development, there is none. You enjoy a story and that’s it. The Office might get a laugh and Jersey Shores might make you cringe, but the highs are lows. The best you can truly achieve with a show is a documentary. Netflix has been on point for content and the documentaries have been reminiscent of what the Discovery channel and History channel used to offer; a thirst for knowledge, quenched. But even with the best documentary, I would feel like shit if I spent the entire day sitting around watching it. Every once in a while, fine. But every day? Unfathomable. Video games I can play every day and I never feel my time is wasted. My brain is actively working when I fire up a game. If you want to learn from a game, you can. The stories are typically beautifully written and you are playing through the game, living the experience. The closest I’ve gotten with TV is choosing whether to take the grappling hook or the slingshot with Bear Grylls in “You vs. Wild”. Fun, but not on the level of a game. Want to learn a foreign language? Download Duolingo. Gaming is fun and there’s no better time to jump in than the apocalypse.


And that’s it! 4 things that I’ve been doing to keep sane in the apocalypse. Hope you enjoyed the article! As mentioned, I have an article planned for each of the topics covered today but it’ll take time as I need to play the games consistently before I publish. The “Cardboard Mechanic” article is ready though, I just need to put thought to paper and take a couple photos! And if you like my content, don’t forget; like the post, follow, and share with your friends! The traffic will help the blog grow and will help bring in revenue as more ads are views; I’m a one man army, so the money does help! Last week, I received my first patron over on patreon, so huge shoutout to Tara for the support! If you feel inclined to donate, below is the link to my Ko-Fi and Patreon pages:

Support this blog!!!

Thanks for reading and all the support over the last 5 years! I’d like to ask the question back to you; what are you doing to keep sane on day 40 (I think, oh my) of quarantine. What are some of your personal tips and tricks for staying sane and positive?

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