I'm starting to get the love/hate relationship thing. I began a Couch to 5k running class nearly two weeks ago, and our first in-class run was a shock to my system. The last memory I have of running for running's sake involves middle school, a mile-and-a-half trip around the track, a severe case of cotton mouth, and as close to a near-death experience as an eighth grader can have. I associate running with embarrassment at being the fat kid, or with envy of others to whom it seems to come so easily.
Now I know something about the gray area between the extremes: I, too, can run, and while it isn't easy, it isn't the hardest thing in the world. Tonight I alternated three minutes of running with a minute of walking -- I did five sets of that, for a total of twenty minutes in motion, plus the time to walk back from where I ended up. It made me feel good. It's not rocket science -- it's exactly like they say: Exercise makes you feel good. All the mental gymnastics someone like me has to do in order to actually get himself moving, that stuff's another story. That just makes me feel tired.
Another thing they say is true: Lace up your shoes and go outside, and you're 90% of the way there. 95%, even. Before my run tonight, I attended an open house at Antioch University's graduate psych program. I'm taking prereqs for a Bastyr University M.S., but I'm not done shopping around; the idea was for the prereqs to help me figure out whether I really want to do the three-year nutrition/psych grad program they offer. Antioch doesn't seem much cheaper than Bastyr, but I like their couples and family therapy track within the M.A.
Going to the event tonight helped me to realize that taking on eating disorders, especially in teenagers, will almost certainly require training in family therapy, since it's familial patterns as much as what's happening in the teen's mind that keep the disordered behavior going. I know full well that even well-intentioned parents who have nothing but love for their child can be confused about what to do, how to respond, in the face of a strange, wasting affliction like anorexia. They may be even less aware of the signs of compulsive overeating, or they may feel unable to confront them.
The prereqs for Antioch are simpler than those for the Bastyr program: three psych classes and 100 hours of "helping" work, either professional or volunteer. I've thought about volunteering at a crisis clinic in the past, and this would give me a good reason to do it. Also, I've already taken abnormal psych for the Bastyr program, and I might be able to do the other two classes online, making it easy to work while preparing for the master's at Antioch.
I ran into an old friend-of-a-friend at the open house, and she advised me against the MSW at UW, saying it doesn't provide enough clinical training. I was going to look into that program, partly because it's a good deal cheaper than either Bastyr or Antioch, and because another friend who's a therapist-in-training suggested I do so. In any case, the open house was exciting; even hearing about the Psy.D. program, which I'm unlikely to pursue, got my mind working.
Taking one day at a time has been a little harder than usual for me lately, as I try to incorporate exercise into my life, keep up with classes, do well in job interviews, and stay involved with Kibbutz matters while also keeping up my non-Kibbutz social life. Even without a day job, it's quite a balancing act, and I guess I needed to offload a few of my thoughts tonight. I hope to keep taking solo runs, even if I don't follow the instructor's "homework" schedule. Not giving up, in everything I try, is more important than doing things a particular way. That's one lesson running has taught me already. I bet it applies to my education and career planning, too.