Not Doing Great With the Stress Thing

Guess what? 

I have shingles. Again. Almost exactly a year after the last time I had them, for the first time. 

What causes shingles? The chicken pox virus living in your adult body, just waiting to, come back out and run amok and cause nerve pain and generalized awfulness. 

What triggers it to come sneaking out on your skin, on one side of your body, usually in the MOST PAINFUL PLACES EVER, which for women is anywhere your bra touches (and it can go on your face, which is super dangerous near your eyes, but thankfully I just get bra shingles)? 

STRESS. Lots and lots of stress. 

I am struggling to stay on top of things. Probably because I've piled up a mountain of things I need to stay on top of. I am bad at saying no. I actually have said no to a whole bunch of stuff, but I made a list and the things I am still yessing are...many. 

This school year is complicated and challenging, as every school year has been it seems, but the extra layer of COVID and students whose last normal school year was 3 years ago adds to it. My 8th graders haven't had a normal Sept-June school year since 5th grade. Which means there's a lot of teaching about how to do school and how to interact with other humans in acceptable ways. Which is not too far from the normal 8th grade experience, but this year it is particularly exhausting. Other teachers I have talked to have said, "It seems a bad sign that we are in October and feels like the bone tiredness of March." 

I have a caseload with a lot of social-emotional needs, a lot of kids who ask for help in the least appealing ways, who speak through behavior, who have many more needs than just academic. I will confess I wanted a number of these students because I enjoy working with "tough kids." And while I don't take the hard parts personally, it is exhausting to stay patient and firm but kind but holding kids accountable all day long. And then to manage the lead teacher pieces with my department, which I really enjoy but there have been a number of Union issues and things that are frustrating about communication from district level, and needing to do more things with fewer resources, and I am the  person to come to who then goes to the higher up people with proposals. I really like advocating, for students and teachers alike, but again... it's exhausting. 

And then there's the tiny piece that came out while crying to my therapist about my shingles and my exhaustion -- I feel like I HAVE to do more because I CAN do more, because. . .  I don't have kids. That somehow it's an unspoken responsibility that I have to take up time and do as much as possible since there's no small humans depending on me at home. I've been going home late every day, because Bryce works late and has his PhD work, and so if we eat dinner at 7 or 8 that's fine, but I have soooo little down time. Which I am not saying to be like, "oooooh, look at me, I'm just so BUSY!" like a badge of honor...I'm legitimately upset about it and need to make a change.

My therapist actually said that when she was raising her daughter, she was an excuse to not do more -- that of course she wanted to spend time with her and mother her but also she could be like, "NO, I'm not staying later because I have to pick my daughter up/take her to dance class/help with her homework/whatever parent-y thing." It helped her set boundaries. And granted, then she had this other responsibility at home to take care of, but she was like, "That was my home time. That was enjoyable for the most part." She was like, "just because you don't have kids doesn't mean you have to take on more because you have that time, you can do other things with that time. You can take care of yourself with that time. You need to let some shit go. You need to maybe adjust your expectations of what you should be doing, because it's literally showing up in your body." 

You would think I would learn this lesson. I'm smacked in the head with it way too many times. 

So today I left at 3:45, a rarity for me, but mostly because I had my image review/ordering session for my boudoir shoot. And that was awesome -- I had to pare down 100 images to 20 (I was between two packages, one with 30 and one with 20). I decided to go with the cheaper package at 20 images and a smaller book, but then add in a travel kit (7 wallet sized photos with envelopes) and a wall piece (I did a triptych). It was a good boost to see all the amazing photos and pick out what I wanted for each element. I cannot WAIT to have everything in hand to give Bryce. 

I'm also super grateful the shingles chose to erupt AFTER the shoot, because that would have been awful. For the actual rash, and also because I'm on a boatload of medications including my nemesis, Prednisone, therefore I feel insanely gross and not sexy at all. Which sucks because our legal anniversary is Saturday... so we rescheduled our fancy dinner out for Saturday the 30th. Bryce will cook this weekend and I will hopefully feel better, not worse. I caught the shingles faster than last time (it only took me two days to realize that I didn't have an invisible spider biting me in a linear fashion on only one side of my torso, that it was indeed shingles again), and so I got to the doctor WAY FASTER. Which means I'm on the heavy drug cocktail faster, which hopefully prevents the level of pain I had last year. So far it's not fun, but it's not excruciating. I hope it doesn't get to that level. 

So, my mission in the next few days is to figure out what I can do to lessen my load and do...less. Without feeling guilty, without feeling like I'm letting myself and everyone else down. I have to, or I'm going to get the shingles every damn year until I can get the vaccine at 50. 

Anniversary Gift

We are celebrating our twelfth wedding anniversary this month -- TWELVE! It's also our 5th anniversary post-resolution. When we hit our 15th anniversary, we will celebrate having more years out of infertility/adoption than in...which is exciting to look forward to. 

Last year, I gave Bryce the Love Bats, a painting I commissioned from a very talented friend. I kept it secret until I picked it up in the parking lot of a Starbucks, like some sort of suburban-bougie heist setup. I made it to October 13th, 10 days before our "legal" wedding anniversary. 

This year, I did something else secret, and I kept it totally quiet until today...but there are still secrets until I have something physical to share with Bryce. 

I did a boudoir photo shoot. 

Before you think this is creepy, or smutty, or whatever, I chose to do this because the Natalie, woman who runs the studio and does the shoot is amazing -- she has a philosophy that this is primarily for YOU, that it is a way to see yourself the way your significant other sees you, and that every woman deserves to do something to celebrate their body and sexuality AS YOU ARE TODAY. Not 15 years ago, not after losing 25 pounds. NOW. I could not love this message more. 

I have thought about doing this for years. And this year, I decided... it's time. 

I sneakily bought tasteful lingerie from Adore Me that fit my body just right and highlighted just what I wanted highlighted. I love that they are size-inclusive not just in their advertisement but in reality (sometimes you get things that are more full-figured that look great on the model and they look absolutely dreadful on an actual curvy body, because not all curvy bodies are made the same). 

I said I was going for a massage (SHOULD HAVE SAID HAIR APPOINTMENT/MAKEOVER to continue sneakiness), and then went this morning to the COVID location in an adult education warehouse sort of place. My best friend said, "Sounds totally up-and-up that you went to an abandoned warehouse to get photos taken of you in your underwear." That sounds very murder-y and shady, but it was anything but. All-woman team -- a logistics lady who got me set up and spreading out my fancy wares on a long table that people probably do watercolors or flower arranging on during other times, a hair/makeup lady, and then the photographer lady. They were all masked and we were all vaccinated, and it was a very airy, ventilated space so I felt super safe. When it was time for the shoot it was just me and Natalie, two women having a blast. 

I wore a dusky plum babydoll set, a black bra and lace panties set, prop 7" platform stilettos that tried to kill me even though I just stood and sat in them for less than 10 minutes, a lace-and-jersey nightie thing, white cheeky panties with a very nerdy Dungeons & Dragons (Critical Role) sweatshirt I stole from Bryce's closet that was literally my favorite thing ever (the back says How do you want to do this? which is literally perfect), and then an artfully draped sheet. At no time did I feel anything but sexy, beautiful, celebrated, and maybe a little goofy. There's only so many times you can toss your hair and laugh amusedly at your left shoulder without laughing hysterically and probably unattractively, but that was part of the fun. 

I cannot wait for the image review next week. It is so exciting, because what I saw on the camera screen was just crazy -- I looked like me but like some kind of magical sexified celebrity-ish me. I have so much more to write about this experience, but I'm already way over Micro for a Monday. 

I felt empowered and beautiful. I fell in love with my body again. And then I went home looking like this: 

Cover...blown. Could not keep it secret any more. Natalie suggested I say I popped in to the mall for a free makeover, but I don't think Bryce would ever believe that I'd go to the mall voluntarily. Honestly, now the intrigue will make it even more fun when I actually have the photos to show Bryce. I can't wait to see how they turn out. 

Want to read an actual #Microblog Monday? Go here and enjoy! 

A Fantastic Realization

So, a while back I wrote about "accepting the mess" and being okay with my body as is. I was feeling powerful. Then I got my blood work results prior to my physical and... Ooof. Cholesterol high (always has been but this was a new record) and glucose on the cusp of elevated. 

I dreaded going to the actual doctor appointment -- I was going to get lambasted, shamed, told to go vegan. 

The day of my appointment though, I made a decision. I wasn't going to bring my weight up at all. Not once. I was going to focus on health and not comment on it AT ALL. 

I also decided to assume my weight was going to be way over my last appointment. It was 5 pounds less. Before, that would have frustrated me, but this time I was relieved. 

And then I made it through the entire appointment without mentioning my weight once. And when I didn't bring it up, my doctor didn't either. I started to wonder if all this time I'd felt judged by my doctor, I was actually initiating the conversation. Judging myself.

It was such a powerful realization. (And as for the scary blood work, I dodged pre-diabetes and my overall risk of a cardiac event is less than one percent for the next 10 years per my risk factors, so yay for health and weight not necessarily being the same!) Phew.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!