Editor’s note: Nancy Cox is the founder of Research Story Consulting and former CPG corporate researcher. Her work and play include words, sketchpads, cooking (not baking) and the occasional sock puppet.

Passions, hobbies, healthy distractions and even guilty pleasures – discover how the research community plays and how that plays out in their work life. In the Venn diagram of work and play, what happens when work and play overlap? Research colleagues share their work and play stories in this interview series by Nancy Cox. 

I have all kinds of play but my biggest play is martial arts. I started back in 2007 through my son, a kid who needed a little bit of structure in his life, and martial arts were a perfect fit. There was a great dojo near our house, where my son took karate lessons, that began offering adult classes. My husband started taking them and I had total FOMO and thought, I want to do this, too! So, I did. Lucky for me, there was an amazing group of four to five women in the 20-person class and we stayed together for the next four-plus years of training. With that incredible support plus my own perseverance, I stuck with it and in November 2011, I earned my black belt. At that point, all three of us in our family had our black belts. 

I was never sporty growing up. I wasn’t a dancer. Having to work my brain and work my body together was something I had never done before, and it was very challenging. Karate became the first thing I did for myself that was NOT a typical accomplishment – not academic, not work-related. My black belt was significant. My black belt gave me a tremendous amount of self-confidence. Karate is hard – it’s hard to stand up there and learn all these forms – around 50 self-defense techniques that you have to remember. You have to quickly think on your feet to take on someone big, often much bigger than you, defend yourself and often throw them down on the ground. Aft...