Archive for the ‘Study’ Category

A lot is going to happen in my life in the next 90 days. I will complete my internship year at Coatesville. I will be extremely close, if not finished with my dissertation. I will almost be graduated with my PsyD. Maggie and I will be packing to move or have already moved to…somewhere. I will tackle P90X.

Internship has been a great experience overall. I have grown so much this year and learned a lot about myself professionally. Admittedly I was slow to adapt to the program and had to relearn a couple of things, but my professional confidence continues to grow and I feel like I’m making a difference in the lives of many veterans.

My dissertation is stressing me out. I need 4 more participants and I am working to find them wherever I can. If you are yourself or know a gay male college student in the Philly area who might be interested in participating in my research on the coming out process, send me an email (jschwenker@spalding.edu) for details. Once I have the last 4 I can pull all my data together, analyze it, write it up, and get on defending to my committee. I’m ready to move this process along since my proposal was accepted by ISTSS for discussion at the 2012 conference in Los Angeles. Yay!!!

I’m not sure what our future holds. Everything is once again up in the air (or perhaps it has always been there). We’re currently stuck in PA paying really high rent while I scour the nation for a job or post doc that will take me ABD. Looking forward to a time when I can count on just a little bit more stability.

Finally, I have decided to tackle P90X. After 2 years of consideration and a lot of procrastination, I will begin the program next week. I’ve been auditioning the workouts the past couple of weeks, doing one to the best of my ability and taking a day or 2 off to recover. They’re difficult. No question. And I don’t think I would have made it through Plyo without having spent the last 90 days running and building up my stamina and leg strength. Plyo was rough, but I think the real challenges for me are going to be Abs, pull ups, and yoga.

I plan to approach this the same way that I did my running and, to borrow a phrase from Tony Horton, “do my best and forget the rest.” My goal is to complete the program. Do each routine from start to finish. Do all of the exercises. There are some exercises where I can keep up with Tony and the gang. There are others where I absolutely cannot, and that’s fine. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. I may not be able to do 25 of each type of crunch, but I am sure I can manage 10 and work my way up. The same goes for other exercises. I can do more than half of what they’re doing and work toward matching for the moment.

I plan on tracking my progress here for each of the phases (tracking my measurements anyway and maybe a few pics). I will be tracking my daily progress on Fitocracy now that I’ve managed to translate the P90X exercises into Fitocracy’s language. I have my calendar marked and my worksheets printed. I take my initial measurements tomorrow (Sunday) morning and I start fresh on Monday after work. All that is left is to do the work and stay focused, which applies to more than just my exercise.


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This week is going to be a make me or break me week. I have a presentation on Wed, a final on Thurs, and a couple more sections due on my dissertation asap. I have stepped up my workouts and am pretty much broke, so I’m not eating healthy. I start up my practicum again on Thursday, but it is out at Zorn, which is in Louisville…not within walking distance. Whatmore? My car died. Well, it won’t start, but I’m not sure about the 100 things that could be the problem, so in my mind, since I can’t afford anything and it can’t get me anywhere, it may as well be dead to me.

I got over the hump in my dissertation and I’m winding my way through another section. After this one I w,ill have two that deal specifically with the measures I am using, so they will be simple but tedious to write. I will have 2/3 of what I’m working on done by the end of the week, but my goal is to finish it all.

I ordered resistance bands, which came in the mail today. They are not the bands I ordered; they are a bait and switch. I thought I was paying $30 for a set of $60 bands (you know, nothing is full price on Amazon), but the bands I got are $45 bands. Granted, I still paid only 66% for them, but if I wanted the bands I got I would have ordered them in the first place. They work fine, but I’m (hopefully) sending them back. Yet another thing on my plate.

New House and Chuck tonight, which is exciting, but I’ll have to wait until everything is done this week to watch them. I’m an instant gratification kind of guy when it comes to my shows. I don’t know how I’ve gone almost 90 days without watching the Netflix of Dexter sitting by the tv.

This is my last week of graduate school classes…presumably ever. I have practicum supervision and dissertation (and later internship) left to complete, but they don’t count as classes. At any rate, I don’t have to buy any more text books, which is very nice.

As for P90, I am kicking my butt. I’ve been adding reps and challenging myself and I find myself exhausted, almost to the point of not being able to stand, when I complete the workouts–especially cardio and abs. I worked it out. I’ve done about 2500 crunches since I began P90. I am able to complete the cardio workout without stopping for breaks, but I can’t do all of the exercises for the full duration. The run lunges and crosshops are what get me every time. I will do them as intensely as the video, but I can only do one full rep and later a half a rep (total of 30 + 15 sec, 45 sec) of each. I continue to move and I will either run in place or do the alternative move (respectively) to keep up with the video, but it is all I can do not to sit down and rest. I’m proud of myself for that at least, even if my calves feel like 100 lb stones on fire when I’m finished.

I am taking things one day at a time and allowing for mental health time throughout the day, which has included napping, watching 30 min of tv, playing on the internet, and eating a snack. I will make it to May!

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Buddhist For a Day

Yesterday I visited the Vietnamese Buddhist temple in town and shared lunch with a monk. I can safely say the experience was overly positive. I learned a bit about Buddhism in general and about how it was practiced at this temple in particular. I happened to show up on a day when some other college students were there as part of a class, so I participated with them a bit to learn about Buddhism from an academic perspective, but my goal was the service. I participated as much as I could (I don’t speak Vietnamese and I don’t know how the service is conducted) by sitting with my legs crossed, bowing, and chanting the mantras that I could understand (pretty much the one that was repeated: Nam Mô A Di Đà Phật).

The monk acknowledged me during the service and gave me a 100-words-or-less description of what that day’s service was about (suffering). We later discussed mindfulness and my experience with it through school. We share a common interest in psychology and he briefly explained how mantras are used in meditation (basically the same way one focuses on breathing, but add in awareness of timbre, pitch, and duration of voice to acquire harmony between voice and breathing).

I learned a bit about the bodhisattva (enlightened people who have prolonged Buddhahood to assist others in becoming enlightened) and those revered at this particular temple (Amitābha, Kuan Yin, and Ksitigarbha) and particularly enjoyed the story about Ksitigarbha, who is a bodhisattva who resides in hell and vows not to achieve Buddhahood until all hells are emptied.

I must say something about my ignorance. Upon entering the temple I walked by this enormous statue of Kuan Yin. I walked right behind it to open the door and get inside. I really didn’t even notice it was there. I realized this much later when a woman brought it to my attention outside and talked about the ritual of approaching the statue, bowing, and asking for the bodhisattva to watch over you (I think I have that right anyway), both before entering the temple and when you leave. Yup, I definitely didn’t do that on the way in, but I most certainly did so on the way out.

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This week is already shaping up to be a busy one. Here are the highlights:

  • I have a group project in Multicultural II that needs some TLC. My partner and I are researching Appalachian Americans and learning about history, culture, and implications for doing mental health work with this population. I have acquired 3-4 books on the subject and found a documentary that would be good for the presentation. I’m meeting my partner tomorrow to divide up the labor and implement a serious plan on the subject.
  • I have a book review due next week for the same class on the book “White Like Me.” So far it is a good book and I have a feeling it is one that will hold my interest to the end. I’m kind of surprised by it though. Usually when I read about White Privilege I feel really guilty for being White. This book, however, seems to take the sting out of it through it’s personal story approach and “normalization.” What I mean by that is that the author is normalizing the ickiness that comes with learning about privilege and being willing to do something about it.
  • Keeping with the Multicultural theme, I have an in-vivo experience to participate in. I’m interested in doing one based in the LGBT culture and my current plan, barring disapproval from my professor, is to go to a drag show. This is currently my only idea, so I’m hoping it is approved or something else comes along.
  • Dissertation, Dissertation, Dissertation. I’m writing on this after a hiatus from it for over a month (which puts me behind schedule). Currently working through the “personality characteristics” and “coming out process” sections and I’m formulating a plan for the section on Bronfenbrenner’s work. At some point I’ll have to post more about my dissertation so people will know what I’m talking about. Briefly: it is a look at the coming out process in gay men through the use of Rorschach inkblot variables. I’m comparing positive versus negative coming out experiences and identifying how they may present on the Rorschach. I’m hoping to learn more about the coming out process and how it affects the mental health and personality of gay men, as well as what interventions and supports can be provided for those who are experiencing the coming out process.
  • I’m planning another trip to NC. Sometime in May. I need to get my schedule figured out to determine when I can fly in. I’ve got some time but I’d like to check it off my list so I can make it a date to look forward to.
  • I’m looking for a job and for opportunities for the next year. I need to prepare for reapplying for internship and I need to strengthen my CV in the process. I have more resources in Louisville than I do in NC, but I would rather be in NC with my wife and friends. I really want to have and eat my cake! Currently I’m trolling job sites for NC and looking for opportunities in Louisville as my peers vacate their jobs. I hate everything being up in the air like this, but there is little I can do about it. I plan on defending my dissertation before I go on internship and taking the EPPP to get both of those out of the way.
  • On the fun side of things, I have another disk of Dexter Season III to watch and I will be playing D&D this weekend (in addition to my usual GURPS Saturday night game). That’s more motivation for me to get my work done during the week.

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Well, I have returned to Louisville and sadly, my vacation/break is over. St. Patty’s day was fun, though it was spent at home with my roommate and a guest. We had wine, wore green, and watched Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day. Guitar Hero was played as well. I was amazed at how well I played the drums after 3-4 glasses of wine.

I have a lot on my plate this week and next. I have a class project to get working on and a dissertation to continue working on. I’m hoping to have the dissertation part written by the end of the month as I am extremely behind on my schedule. I’m headed to practicum here shortly to see my one client and hoping that I can get a few intakes this week to get more clients. I’m starting to get concerned about my hours.

As for my exercise schedule, I’ve maintained it for almost two weeks now. I didn’t do my P90 strength training on Tuesday because of the gym visit with Carl. We did more there than my usual program would have me do. I’m quite thrilled actually that I’m not sore after that event. I expected to be dragging my arms on the ground yesterday and today, but I was able to do my workout today without problem and without the expected strain from Tuesday. Hooray!

I’m not sure what the rest of the day holds. I will inevitably watch the Murray State and UK games today/tonight (MSU plays in 20 min, but I have to record it because I’m meeting my client at the same time). I have a lot of reading and writing to do this weekend and I will hopefully catch up on schoolwork and dissertation a bit. My plan is to finish reading “White Like Me” and write 1-2 sections of my dissertation before Sunday. Wish me luck.

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Travel Woes

Who would have thought flying to NC would actually take me farther away from Maggie? As it turns out, she missed her flight and is stranded an extra day in MO while I’m hanging out in her apartment with the cats. They don’t seem to mind the company. My first flight was overbooked and I tried volunteering for a later flight, but that didn’t work out. Luckily Maggie secured a flight at the same time tomorrow and got comped the price.

So I basically have the day to myself. I brought a couple of books with me to read for classes. I’m reading White Like Me by Tim Wise for my Multicultural book report. I’d been meaning to pick it up anyway and, since I rarely find time to read a book I want to read due to all of my required reading, it is fortuitous that it is an approved book for the assignment. It is a great read about racism and white privilege and it has me thinking about just how white I am and how far back my privilege spreads (he traces his geneology back to find some interesting results).

That should keep me busy today. Well, that, Netflix, and maybe a pizza.

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