My Second Semester at Yale Divinity: a plan, a purpose, and preparation

Introduction

As some of you may recall from a prior blog post and my increasingly-frantic Facebook statuses, this past fall semester was another jewel in my Mike Crown of Taking On FAR FAR FAR Too Much.  I am basically an old man at this point, so this crap can’t continue.

A Plan

So, first (as is almost always the case with me), there is a plan.  In this case, the plan is simple enough: cease doing anything and everything that leads to my wearing myself down and missing out on the more enjoyable parts of life, while still maintaining an acceptable minimum (luckily as a dyed-in-the-wool perfectionist, that minimum will not be lacking, [un]fortunately enough).  As a secondary but integral part of this plan, I am writing out the specifics here so 1) interested parties can use whatever works for them, but far more importantly 2) I have the accountability of people knowing my intentions.  After all, I wouldn’t want someone who reads this to later approach me and say: “Mike, you wrote a good faith proposal to stop taking on too many things… sadly, the proof in the pudding over this past semester demonstrates that when it comes to your written proposal, IT’S A FAKE!  Consider the preceding example sentence to be a free invitation to make me keep my word(s) below.

A Purpose

The above plan can only work with an overarching purpose: I have finally, totally and completely decided to forestall EVERYTHING other than school and work, in order to focus on my own health (mental, spiritual, physical, et al.).  As a matter of fact, I am going to re-implement last semester’s intention of health being more important than school, which is more important than work… except this time, I am going to implement that policy with an iron fist.

Preparation

The above gives a general sense of what I am setting out to do; what follows are some of the key specifics:

Health

Fitbit: This neat little device was my graduation present to myself from my American University undergrad experience, and while I have used it off and on for the past few years, I will be getting my money’s worth out of it this semester and beyond.  This tiny little bit of tech is a pedometer, accelerometer, sleep monitor, and calorie counter all in the same package.  The sleep monitor works by wearing it on your wrist at night (and is great for helping you figure out if you’re actually sleeping soundly or not, thereby tipping you off to the potential of something stressing you, etc).  The calorie counter isn’t quite to Star Trek levels yet: while I cannot say “Computer, add a 12-inch Subway chicken breast sandwich to my daily calorie count,” I can indeed manually input the foods I eat in a day, thus keeping an online private set of records of how many calories, my percents of daily values consumed, and eating patterns in general.  This calorie count is even more useful when combined with the pedometer/accelerometer – this pair enables the device to know when you’re walking/running versus in a moving vehicle, and only counts your real steps…. AND it is capable of detecting when you’re going upstairs, and thus logs those steps as having burned more calories.  Between all of those pieces of functionality, I have all the tools I will need to quantitatively badger myself into keeping up good habits.  I honestly cannot recommend this product highly enough to anyone – the price is great, the shipping was quick, and the customer service is up there with the giants (Amazon and Newegg).
Kettlebells: A Ukrainian invention that won the Soviet Union a WHOLE bunch of Olympic Gold Medals, I purchased three different sizes of this exercising demi-god a few years ago.  As my experience last semester showed me, using them for no more than 20 minutes, 5 days a week (and combined with some incredibly easy calisthenics) gave me enormous amount of muscle gain as well as losing a bunch of weight quickly.  It was almost uncanny, and as the next item in this list will explain, was also partially due to the diet I was and will again follow, but the fact remains: I have kettlebells and a floor mat and thus can work out on the landing outside of my bedroom door, at any hour, in any weather, without a problem.  I am well-prepared for the coming exercise storm.
4 Hour Body: This book, by Timothy Ferris, was recommended to me by my doctor from home of all people.  While I do not agree with every bit of advice put forth in the tome, I can attest to three things: 1) his years of experience with the necessity of quantifying health habits was the tipping point to make me want to use the aforementioned Fitbit as the amazing tool it is; 2) the exercises I did and will start anew (and kettlebells in general) came recommended AND explained from his book, and work like a charm; and 3) the diet he proposes, basically the cessation of sugar intake for 6 days of each week followed by a day with a lot of sugar, enabled me (when combined with those exercises and sleeping enough) enabled me to lose 28 lbs last semester over the course of a few months.  As per usual, finals stresses thoroughly ruined most of those improvements, but that is why I am doing this post: I intend on achieving them anew, and then some, and then maintaining that state of being.  Assuredly, this diet is tough to pull off (protein is expensive, I don’t have a lot of time to cook, and I have many, many sweet teeth), I did it before for a time, and I will do it again.  This time, for as long as it takes to get down to a healthier state of being, and then doing a modified version of it to stay healthy.  While I know the dangers of the no carbs –> to –> eat lots of carbs after the diet changes, I will put this forward as a counter-argument: the Mongolians ate pretty much only protein, fought numerically-superior armies of grain-fed Europeans, and won so effectively that they decided to turn around as their foes weren’t advanced enough to be worth their time.  In a sense, I guess this means I am partially engaged in this diet procedure in order to be able to fend off any number of Horse Lord invasions, but more seriously: I have found that a more protein-heavy diet leads to better sleep, highly-improved capacity to concentrate, the cessation of spikes/drops in hunger from carbs, and generally being better-enabled to take care of business every day.  That preceding sentence sounds like moves in the right direction for my overall purpose of health, so I will embark on this journey, and from time to time post updates on the blog.
Attending a local Lutheran church regularly: while the ecumenical environment of Yale Div has been excellent, and I have found many good friends amongst the Lutheran student community with whom I have enjoyed weekly Lutheran student vespers, I find myself missing the experience of attending a regular church, specifically a Lutheran one.  As such, I am going to do my very best to attend one somewhere in New Haven weekly. More on this as I explore the options/I am not awake past 7am on a Sunday writing this post.
Having more fun: As I once mentioned, when I attended my Lutheran Candidacy Committee interview as part of the process of seeking to become a diaconal minister, one of the Committee’s chief expectations and hopes for me was to do less work, and have more fun. I am fully embracing that command, and this will likely manifest itself in a lot of gaming with my housemates and friends here in town (as the past few posts should indicate, I am already geared up for this process!)
Rekindling the greatness of my saltwater reef: sadly, the reef tank got neglected far too often last semester, when in reality it is extremely relaxing and satisfying to watch the ecosystem in play after a hard day’s work.  As such, I am going to strive to keep the tank up to a higher level of care, and also to set aside pennies here and there to add some new denizens (first up, and soon: multiple peppermint shrimp, to start dealing with the pest anemone explosion that started last semester). More on this as it happens.

Work

While my work schedule started off way above an acceptable number of hours last semester (due to my own choosing, and with my boss’ hesitation), she was the biggest supporter of my scaling them back.  I fully intend to both keep that lower number of weekly hours, while also ABSOLUTELY AVOIDING scheduling any kind of massively important meeting during finals prep week (say, like I did this past fall).  Also, expect more updates on the blog about work, as plans and projects move forward… this spring should be exciting at my office in general, and with paper reduction efforts specifically.

Scheduling spring classes

Finally, I thought folks might be interested in hearing my intended spring schedule.  It is not especially different from the fall, as I am taking three Part 2’s, so here is the list:

-Transitional Moments in Western Christianity II (English Reformation to the present day)
-Old Testament Interpretation II (the Prophets and the Writings)
-Systematic Theology…. II
-American Religious Thought and the Democratic Ideal (this course sounds eerily similar to what I tried to produce back when I wrote my undergraduate thesis at American University, but with more of a focus on religious outlooks, so I am VERY excited!)

To the general tone, timbre, and content of the above, I pledge my life and sacred honor, &c.  -Mike

Photos

As will sometimes happen over the coming months, I find myself compelled to include some action shots of various board games played in the house.  First is a fantastic game that was Game of the Year for nearly 10 years, and is currently #3 – it is called Puerto Rico (simply put, this game involves creating plantations on your own section of the newly-discovered island of Puerto Rico in order to score the most victory points via several methods).  Second, you’ll find an old favorite of mine, a card game called Citadels (which is a card game where players attempt to add the highest-valued districts to their corner of a medieval castle, while attempting to forestall other players’ attempts to do the same).

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One response to “My Second Semester at Yale Divinity: a plan, a purpose, and preparation

  1. Pingback: Before and After: A Mike’s Tale of the First Year | A Jaunt Around the World – New Haven, CT

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