let’s talk | breast drama

boobs

let me get real for a moment as I talk about my boobs. I have a love/hate relationship with mine, depending on the day. today is most definitely heading towards the hate side of the spectrum. the funny thing is, I actually think breasts are glorious, for multiple reasons. for one thing, their physicality – if you’ve ever seen any of the amazing paintings by the great masters, you know what I mean. they’re such a hallmark of the female form, in any & all sizes. secondly, they’ve allowed women to feed their children since time immemorial – how cool is that?  I also happen to think they’re just kind of cool in general.

so why the love/hate relationship? well, if you’re a regular around these parts, you’ll know that I’m, uh, shall we say ‘generously endowed’ in the breast department. big boobs have their charms (ha!), but they can also be quite literally a pain. I’ve always loved silk camis with elegant, slim straps & minimalistic, unstructured dresses, but they just don’t look good on my build – at best, I look shapeless & top-heavy; at worst, I look borderline tawdry. you can’t have pieces that are too-structured either, at least not off the rack. I’ve given up on finding a blazer that doesn’t make my chest look like a stuffed sausage.

finding a good bra, of any kind, is really hard & oftentimes expensive. I used to get so jealous of all my friends who could buy a bra from anywhere or could get away with going without (I wish!). a bra that’s supportive enough without feeling constricting is the key, …and is as commonplace as a unicorn. and speaking of support, I worry about what all that weight on top might be doing to my back over time.

I wish I could say that the worry about the state of my back is what triggered this rant in the first place, but it’s not. it was because I tried on a top that had just been delivered and it just did.not.work. I had ordered two sizes; the smaller of the two was the right length but too tight on the chest while the larger of the two accommodated my breasts but dwarfed me everywhere else. usually, this does not make me lose it as this is hardly the first time this has happened (to me or to any number of women). but I don’t know if it’s the heat or hormones or because I’ve been struggling to get back in shape or whatever, it just got me really annoyed & a bit down.

I realize now writing this that this might read shallow, and in the grander scheme of things, it is. but I think it’s also something that lots of women can relate to, that feeling of nothing fitting, whether it’s because of big breasts or small, a short torso or short legs, or what have you. I have no grand pronouncements about the meaning of it all except to say that I get it, I’ve been there, and boobs will be boobs.

p.s. you can find that awesome pillow here.

let’s talk | changes

Death_to_stock_above_10there’s been a lot happening on my end these past couple of months. between my classes ending in july and now, I feel like there hasn’t really been time to process it all, until now that I’m on vacation. I feel like I’ve just stored a whole bunch of events inside and it’s only now that I can go back and really take stock of how they’ve affected me.

first things first: getting accepted into nursing school. I was really pleased when I got the letter, and I’m really proud of the work I did to get here…but I was so exhausted from the intense school/work load that I didn’t really get worked up over it. it was a little surreal. I am definitely thrilled to be starting in october, but it’s only now that I’m really reveling in it. I had to recharge my batteries before I could get worked up about going into high gear again.

I’ve been also feeling like so many things are changing all around. I don’t know how or when it happened, but I feel like I blinked, and in a split second, I went from being a post-college-20-something to a I’m-out-in-the-real-world-almost 30-something. I’m thinking about having children and buying a home and embarking on a career. I’ve always dreamed about doing and having those things when I was younger, but now I think of them in terms of 5-10 year plans, as opposed to a nebulous “someday”.

the other day, I realized out of the blue that my parents were getting older. I’ve taken to doing more yard work and helping them with house repairs and the like because I noticed that they tired much quicker than I had ever noticed before. even when I was in college, I never once thought about my parents aging. and now, I realize that time really has passed and my parents are now solidly approaching retirement. it just puts a lot of things in perspective.

I’m not immune to time passing either. I’m not as flexible as I used to be, there are little nagging twinges and aches every now and then. I can’t stay up as late as I used to, and when I do pull the occasional all-nighter, I don’t bounce back like before. I was never a big party girl to begin with, but now I’m loathe to do anything on a friday night other than getting into some comfy pjs and just chilling.

that’s a lot of philosophizing, huh? if you’ve made it this far, thanks for following my rambling thoughts. I’m off to grab some fried clams in essex.

have a great wednesday!

image: death to the stock photo

let’s talk | life lately

Under the Elwhy, hello there. life around these parts has been going at about 100 miles per hour, and I’m still trying to figure out how to keep up. let’s play catch-up together:

1. I am finishing up my last round of prerequisites, and my current schedule has me in class monday-thursday in sugar grove (60 miles west of Chicago) when I work full-time monday-friday in the city. getting to class in the evening requires an intricate juggle of bus, train, & car, with minutes to spare. I’ve been praying to the traffic gods frequently, trying not to stress out about things that I can’t control…

2. …speaking of which, stress management has been something I’ve been working on lately. a lot. I make it to class in the evenings with about 4 minutes to spare if everything goes to plan. which, if you’re as anal about time & schedules as I am, means that I’m constantly checking my watch and worrying about being late. which I was, last thursday, by 10 minutes. and as I sat in class, sweaty & grouchy & grumpy & out of breath from the 2.5 hour commute I had just gone through, I realized it wasn’t worth it. the worrying, the stress, any of it. my life is much easier if I just let things go and do my best to show up without obsessing about every little second ticking away. it’s still something I’m working on. I am stressing about the Stanley Cup finals, though…

3. …since the hawks are in it again. they’re about the only tv during the week I bother watching making time for these days. so, less stress about things not hockey + more stress about hockey = my stress level these days. man, I hope they win because consciously going with less sleep to cheer them on is getting harder by the day…

4. …as I’m getting on average about 5 hours of sleep a night. it could be worse, but it could be much, much better. so I’m working on getting my self to bed on non-hockey,  non-school nights as early as possible to get my sleep numbers up…

5. …especially since my workout schedule has been shot to hell. I haven’t been able to work out at all the past 3 weeks, and it’s not doing my waist or my mind any favors. I miss the feeling of having a good sweat session, and I’m thinking up of creative ways to get a workout in. it’s necessary, both physically and mentally, so I’m just going to have to make time…

6. …but really, how do I go about that? there are only 24 hours in a day after all. I’m still figuring it out, along with this blog…

7. …which has obviously been neglected in the past few weeks. still working on it, I promise.

and that’s where I’m at. I want to pick y’all’s minds…how do you keep all the balls in the air? is there a secret I’m not in on? for those of you who have children, how do you that on top of everything else? mad props, by the way! give a girl some tips!

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what’s in a name?

hesI was listening to npr on the way to work the other day, and I happened to catch an interview about a young man who felt that his name had led others to make assumptions about him in general and about his race specifically (his name is Jamal, and he is white). it got me thinking about my own name, and as I thought about it more & more, I realized I wanted to let you all in on my thoughts on it.

most people call me Hes, but my full first name is Hesed. it’s a Hebrew name that means “loving kindness” or “God’s covenant love for humankind”. my parents were in seminary school when I was born, and they were inspired by their studies of the Bible in Hebrew when it came time to name me.

like a lot of kids who had unusual first names, I wasn’t very fond of my name as a child. no one in my family aside from my parents were familiar with it. in fact, a lot of my dad’s family found the name difficult to pronounce because in our language, the letter ‘h’ is not a part of the alphabet, so all members of that side of the family call me “Esed” (pronounced as in blessed) or, even shorter, “Sed” (rhymes with Ted). at least these nicknames were at least related to my real name. sometimes I would just get called Hazel or Heather or some other H-name that was more familiar to other people.

when I came to the US, my situation didn’t improve very much. no one knew how to pronounce Hesed either. no one, except my Jewish friends, of course, who all pronounced it with its original guttural H at the beginning (my name can also be transliterated to English as “Chesed”). though my name wasn’t foreign to them at all, they were a little bit amused to find that a short, Filipino girl had such a Hebrew name. once, a package for my office was mistakenly delivered to the Jewish student center down the street from us. The rabbi emailed me to ask that I come pick it up. when I did and I introduced myself, he said with a chuckle, “I didn’t expect you to be Hesed”.

now that I’m older, I’ve become really proud of my name. it’s aspirational, and I try to live up to it every day, although I inevitably fall short. I used to be mortified when people would mispronounce my name; I would be so self-conscious and embarrassed. but now, I love that it’s unique. if I ever get a tattoo, I’d want it to be a very small one of my name in Hebrew script.

do you have a unique name? do you love it/hate it? have you always felt that way?

let’s talk | coloring as therapy

coloring4

I previously mentioned how I was diagnosed with depression last year, and I wanted to talk about something that has really helped me in times when I find myself getting anxious or very stressed: coloring.

different people experience anxiety & depression in different ways. I find that my anxiety contributes to my depression, and I’ve learned in the past several months how to calm myself down to a more relaxed state. when I’m anxious, I withdraw and lose myself in my own thoughts. my mind will run at a million miles a minute as I work through whatever I’m anxious about and run through all the different scenarios in my head of possible outcomes. it’s overwhelming and exhausting. what’s ironic is that because my mind is on overdrive, I find it impossible to articulate what it is I’m anxious about. james often asks me what’s wrong or how he can help when he sees me stressed & withdrawn, but I find myself unable to give voice to the infinite number of loops going on in my head, which of course contributes to the anxiety, which then accelerates the loop in my head…and so on and so forth.   coloring3I’ve found that coloring helps me to come out of that loop. I think the focus it takes to concentrate on choosing a color and staying within the lines forces me to just think about this one thing, instead of the thousands of other things. everything else gets pushed to the background and after a little while, I find that I’ve calmed down enough. I’m sure that there’s some scientific explanation for it all, but I just know it relaxes me.

it’s funny how something we did as children can be so helpful, but now that I think about it, wasn’t coloring something that helped us as kids, too? it was more than just a fun past time –  it gave us a task to focus on, and focusing on something so minute & detailed gave us a sense of calm purpose.

coloring

p.s. this coloring book is all sorts of awesome. great for adults & kids.

p.p.s. mental illness is different for everyone. please know that I am not a physician or an expert on mental illness and that I am not prescribing any form of therapy for anyone. I am sharing what I find helpful for me, in hopes that talking about my personal experience is comforting and helpful to some of you, but please always talk to your physician about your own experience.