You’re Not That Skinny, You Know!

Posted by on Jan 11, 2014 in All About Jen | 9 comments

When I began to take photos of myself each morning (well, my husband does it, not me), I had decided that not only was it good for me, but that it’d be good for my daughter as well. As a six year old, who just loves princesses, it’s my duty as her mother to remind her as often as possible that skinny doesn’t automatically mean beautiful (you know, like the princesses). I want to be sure she realizes that beauty is more than just how you look, but also that beauty is what you make it to be. (Along with that, we talk about being smart, getting good grades, being nice to people, sharing, and all the other “good parent” topics.)

But as a woman who has had weight issues her entire life, even when I wasn’t *actually* overweight (I’d like to thank my dad for always reminding me I didn’t need that extra helping of food), I’m hyper conscious about my daughter feeling that way as well. My hope is that in 20 years, when she’s a grown woman, living her life, she will know and understand beauty, and feel comfortable being herself. I also hope that she’ll look back fondly on our relationship, and how I loved her, and how I loved myself.

That seems weird to say, but honestly, I don’t want her to write a post (or actually a book) like the one Kasey Edwards wrote titled “When Your Mother Says Your Fat.” I highly recommend you read it, as it will help to understand what I don’t want to do. I want to be nurturing, and help my daughter understand the importance of eating healthy and getting plenty of exercise. But my goal is to never make her feel bad, or ugly, or unimportant, or unloved because she’s not thin. I was going to make headway on this goal, by making sure she realized that even though, I’m big, I’m still beautiful (as she actually says to me often.)

Now, this morning, my daughter was having a play date with a couple friends at our house, and then heading to a birthday party in the afternoon. But for some reason she was throwing down some real attitude about everything. At one point while her friends were over, I asked them to stop running in the house before someone got hurt (you know… as you do as a parent). All the kids got a little grumpy about that and mine walked over to the front door and said, “I’m outta here!” We all just looked at her, because there’s a kid-proof doorknob it, and she can’t get out… I may have even smiled knowing she couldn’t go anywhere. But what came next from her, I simply couldn’t have prepared for.

“You’re not that skinny, you know!”

Uh.

*silence*

Her friend looked at me with huge, astonished eyes, then back at her.

“Wait, what did you say?” I asked, wanting to be clear of what I’d heard.

She gasped and immediately started bawling. She ran to her room yelling how sorry she was, and cried on her bed for a while. I didn’t actually know what to do. I was in shock.

Since this morning, she’s apologized several times, and she often tells me how beautiful I am (perhaps as much as I tell her). I’m not actually upset with her at all, I’m finding that I just keep questioning myself, my motives, and trying to figure out what she meant exactly.

Did I do something that I didn’t realize, that made her say that (even when it seemed so random)?
Does she see through me saying I feel pretty, knowing full well that I really don’t like the way I look?
Does she think, that I think, that I’m skinny?
Does she simply know that I worry too much about my weight, so she knew my weight was an easy target when she was angry?

 

I don’t really know the answer to any of these questions, I’m not totally sure I want to know the answer. But, what I do know is that the things I do, say, and feel… affect her as well. She picks up on things, and sees through me, and reads me. I’m pretty sure she knows if I’m bullshitting her. So I need to work harder on getting myself together, because she needs me to, hell I need me to.

 

 

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Finding My Fashionista in Greenmarket Square

Posted by on Jan 7, 2014 in All About Jen | 0 comments

It was just about a year ago, when I was lucky enough to visit South Africa for the third time. I went with a group of co-workers for an event called Mozcation, and spent the first week with them hanging out in Cape Town. We went on a tour of the cape, walked to the V&A Waterfront, took a boat to Robben Island, and rode the cableway to the top of Table Mountain. But one of the things I always enjoy most while traveling, is shopping at local markets.

On my last day in Cape Town, before I was headed to spend a week with my best friend, Melissa, and her family in Durban, a group of us went to Greenmarket Square in CT. I had been there before, and remembered buying quite a few necklaces and other jewelry on my previous trip. Now, in a perfect world I could shop for beautiful clothes, and not have to always focus on accessories while I travel. But, that’s usually not the case because it’s tough to find plus size clothes ANYWHERE.

However, on this excruciatingly hot day at Greenmarket Square, I ran into this gorgeous woman, selling hand-made dresses that I simply couldn’t pass up. Being a bit embarrassed about my size, I shyly asked her if she had any in extra large, and she started showing me these dresses that would actually fit. I’m pretty sure I was beaming, but when I asked about the price, I realized I didn’t have nearly enough cash to buy one. I told her I was sorry, and walked away. *sad face* I didn’t even have enough to bargain with her.

How could you *not* buy a dress from this lovely woman?

How could you *not* buy a dress from this lovely woman?

I found my way back to Erica and Geraldine, who had been haggling with a tea pot/cup vendor for at least a half and hour, but I couldn’t stop thinking about that dress. It was at that moment that I had the brilliant idea to have them come look at the dress with me, and asked if I could borrow money to buy it if they thought it was actually worth it.

My assumption was that they would also help me haggle a bit on the price (since they’d been giving this other vendor a hard time right before that ;). But no, they had the same response I had… BUY THE DRESS from this lovely woman!

Sadly, the dress didn’t actually fit all that well, it was too big if you can imagine. So it stayed in my closet for close to a year, because I had promptly forgotten about it after I got home from the trip. But as I’ve recently found my love for fashion, I pulled out and remembered the sweet lady, and haggling, and the wonderful trip with my coworkers, and my best friend. And decided to give it a whirl.

To make a short story, long… Here’s my gorgeous South African, hand-made dress, on cold and rainy Seattle day, almost a year later. The umbrella is my daughter’s, the gloves from Portland, and the beads are also from South Africa. :)

NOT my favorite picture of me But let's just focus on the dress now shall we.

NOT my favorite picture of me. But let’s just focus on the dress now shall we.

To top off the day, when I got home from work I made curry for dinner from a packet of spices I’d bought at a grocery store in Durban. I’d show you a photo of it, but the entire family had seconds. WIN!

PS. Before I close out my memories of that amazing trip, I wanted to show off a few of my favorite moments.

I'M PETTING A BABY RHINO.

I PET A BABY RHINO. A. BABY. RHINO!

 

Well hello, end of a continent.

I visited the end of Africa. Hello, bottom of a continent.

 

Spent an entire week with my best friend. <3

Spent an entire week with my best friend. <3

 

Thanks for the lovely memories, South Africa, and for proving to me that I *can* find fashion just about anywhere! I can’t wait to see you again soon.

 

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Time to Just Be Me

Posted by on Jan 6, 2014 in All About Jen | 28 comments

One day, after having been through chemo for eight months, I was driving through the mountains with my family. As I was taking in all the greenery (after four years living in Seattle, I still can’t get over how green it is all year long), and thinking back to how I got to that exact spot, I thought about writing a book. I mentioned it to my husband, he thought it was a great idea. He was quite encouraging in fact, but I couldn’t get myself to take the first step. My thought process always went back to something along the lines of, “Who would want to read my story of dealing with Cancer and chemo… except maybe my family?” I just couldn’t shake the thought that my story wasn’t all that unique.

Yep. I thought my story of getting Colon Cancer at age 37 wasn’t unique… Or that after 8 months of chemo, one day I just couldn’t get out of bed. Or that it took me two months to return to work, after that fateful day. Or that someone I had always looked up to told me (just a few weeks before that day I couldn’t get out of bed), that I was bad at my job. Or that soon after I got so sick, a past co-worker passed away from Colon Cancer.

Obviously there are a million reasons why my situation was unique. But that’s not the point, really. The point was that I was afraid. I was afraid no one would want to read it. I was afraid to share my voice, and show my vulnerability. I was afraid that that person was right, and that I was bad at my job. Maybe I was just an imposter, making all this shit up. Hell, maybe she was right! I mean, I’m not really a marketer… I just play one on the internet, right? Perhaps they’ve all figured me out!

So, I didn’t do it.

After I got intensely sick (and when I say sick I mean I was in a deep depression, but that scares people too much… so I say I was sick), I began posting pictures of myself on Facebook and Twitter, because I was excited to show off the one positive effect of my “sickness”, my weight loss. But as quickly as I started to do that, I felt the wrath of myself. I was being too showy, people didn’t want to see a super fat lady just get less fat (but still fat). People also don’t want to see an almost 40 year old, acting like she has some fashion sense. That’s what you do when you’re young, and thin… right?

So, I stopped posting the photos.

Have you ever noticed an over-weight person call themself a foodie, and think “Obviously.” Or how about when a “plus sized” woman talks about how she eats when she’s stressed… “Oh reaaalllyyyy.” That’s how I felt people thought about me (Ok, I’m sure some did, but those people suck.) I was always afraid to talk about food, because I was big, and self-conscious.

So, I tried not to talk about food.

I could go on, and write about all the things I wanted to do, but didn’t because I was afraid for this reason or that. But the truth is, I’m tired of being scared to show people who I am.

So, I’ve decided not to worry about all that crap… and just be me. It shouldn’t be so hard, right?

Recently, I’ve found that all the stomach issues and pain I’ve been dealing with for years (before, and much worse after my cancer surgery), can be calmed by being super careful of what I eat. I’d already gone vegetarian (mostly, now and then I have fish or sometimes chicken, but don’t tell Erica, she’ll yell at me. ;) Along with this change of diet, I’ve found my love for cooking. In the past, I was too scared to try new things, or I’d worry that my food wouldn’t taste good. But I feel like I’ve found my voice. I’ve become that chick that posts instagram photos of her food. :)

instagram-food

Also a big thanks to my husband for making sure I got lots of great cookbooks for Christmas. :)

 

You know what I’ve also found my love of? FASHION. Screw this “40 year old fat women shouldn’t be showing off” idea. I recently signed up for Gwynnie Bee (that’s a referral link, not an affiliate link), which is like Netflix for plus sized clothes. RIGHT?! I love the idea of having “new” clothes all the time, and not having a closet fill up of stuff I only wear a couple times. So far I’ve received three items, and they’ve been great. I’ve posted a few pics on Twitter and Facebook, with great responses. I’ve enlisted my husband to take photos each day (or most days), not just to show of me, but to show that “older” and “plus size” women can be proud and be themselves.

blue-dress     jacket

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those are my “I’m going to kick your ass” and “I really *am* nice” looks. ;)

So, I’m just going to go ahead and be me now. It’s time to be less afraid, and just be myself.

 

 

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The Cover Letter & Resume That Got Me Hired at SEOmoz

Posted by on Aug 25, 2012 in All About Jen, Internet Marketing | 17 comments

Earlier today a friend asked me if I had a cover letter she could use as a template for a job she was applying for. Well the last time I wrote a cover letter was in April 2009 when I applied for an SEO Consulting position at SEOmoz. I hopped into my email and quickly found the letter and resume I had sent to apply for the job. In the end, I did get the job (my role changed though in January 2010 to Community Manager).

While I’m positive that my cover letter and resume alone were not the reasons I ended up getting the job, it seems that you never get a peek into what “got you in the door” to begin with. So with a little prodding from Cyrus Shepard and in the spirit of TAGFEE, I thought I’d publish my original cover letter and resume that helped me to get my original job at SEOmoz back in 2009.

A quick reminder, the job I applied for and initially got was for an SEO Consultant (here’s the original listing). However in January 2010 we stopped doing consulting and at that time my role changed to what it is yet today: Community Manager.

The cover letter and resume

Hi Lindsay,
 
I’d like to take this opportunity to express my interest in the SEO Expert position with SEOmoz. Over the past two years I have acted on my passion for SEO and realized the combination of my background in writing, web development and general web geekery has been leading me straight to a career in Search Marketing. I think you’ll agree that I’d make an excellent addition to the SEOmoz team.
 
Last year I attended the SMX Advanced Developer Day sessions. That experience was a huge “aha” moment in my life and the SEO light switch in my brain was turned on for good. I had started working on my first technical SEO project about a year earlier, but it wasn’t until after meeting other SEOs (and realizing how much I had in common with many of them), and letting all the information from the sessions sink in, that it hit me how interested I was in all aspects of SEO. Quickly, I realized how much I enjoyed the inner workings of search engines, learning the ins and outs of getting a site to rank well and just as importantly, how much I enjoyed becoming a part of this community.
 
At onTargetjobs, I’ve had the opportunity to learn from one of the best SEOs in the business and have loved being a part of growing our business. I have given numerous SEO presentations to the development team, covering topics ranging from how the search engines work, to what’s the best way to re-write and redirect URLs using ASP .Net. Coming from a technical background lends credibility to me when I’m explaining technical SEO issues and implementations. But don’t get me wrong, I’m not just all about the technical aspects! Currently I’m writing content for Medhunters.com and loving every minute of it (Ok I’m lying a bit, after 20 pages of talking about healthcare and nursing jobs, I think I’m getting a bit giddy).
 
In a previous life at SpireMedia Inc. (an interactive web agency), I began as a Web Developer and within a year was promoted to the role of Technical Director. I managed the team of developers, and worked directly with the clients on varying sized projects. A major aspect of my position was to help clients understand the development process and train them on various web applications. Often times our clients were not technical themselves, and were grateful for the way I could explain things, in a way that they could grasp.
 
My addiction with the web began back in college (I won’t go into my age right now, heh) and I would spend hours on end in computer labs doing research using Mosaic, chatting on IRC and checking my email using Pine. Ever since those first interactions with the web, I have been completely hooked. Working for SEOmoz would be an excellent opportunity for me to continue to learn and grow in my search marketingness. I realize this may mean working on some mundane tasks and working long hours when necessary, but in the long run it’s a win-win situation for both of us. When I’m passionate about something, I want to learn more and be the best I can possibly be. And if I’m at my best, SEOmoz gains the reward of my efforts.
 
Ok, so let’s get down to it. The great thing is, not only am I getting more and more experienced with SEO every day, but I also have 10 years of development experience behind me (so I know the workings of the web), have no problems speaking in front of groups, AND I have a degree in Journalism. Really, what more could you want? I realize that my current salary may be higher than others, but my background, skills, passion for SEO and the web in general speaks for itself.
 
I look forward to hearing from you and learning how I can become an integral part of the SEOmoz team.
 
Jennifer Sable Lopez
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jensable
Twitter: http://twitter.com/jennita
 
View the original resume: Jennifer-Sable-Lopez-Resume-2009.pdf
 

Whew. Well that’s it! I find it interesting that I mentioned the SEO community in that first letter. Perhaps I was always destined to focus on community. :) I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback.

Update: Later last night after I posted this, two of my former coworkers also posted their resumes and/or cover letters! Take a peek at theirs as well:

Cyrus Shepard: When Companies Hire for Culture, Does Your Resume Have an Attitude?
Timmy Christensen: The Cover Letter That Got Me Hired at SEOmoz

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2011: A Year of Growing

Posted by on Dec 30, 2011 in All About Jen | 25 comments

New Year’s Resolutions. meh. I’m really not a fan. I mean I can “eat less sugar” or “read more books” any time of the year, why only start now? For me, my only “resolution” for 2012 is to continue down the path that 2011 set me on. A path of growing and learning. I’ll be honest, this past year has kicked my ass. It has been the toughest year of my life and I feel like I’ve been through a lot over the years. Hell in 2010 I was diagnosed with cancer, but still 2011 even beats that in terms of suckiness.

You know what they say “when the going get’s tough… Jen gets tougher” haha ok so they don’t say that, but I do. :) I’ve learned a lot about myself this past year and after 38 years I finally find myself on a path I’m quite happy with. As I was taking a walk this morning (more on that below), I was thinking about all the good that has come out of this crazy year and wanted to write them down. This is a year I’d like to forget, but never want to actually forget. I realize that doesn’t actually make any sense, but it does to me. :)

The end of 2011 = smiles

So… what have I learned this year (in no particular order), that set me on my path for next year?

I’m not always right.

BOOM. Hard to believe, but quite true. I can already hear my mother gasp as she reads this and can see my best friends’ smiles, since they’ve known all along. This year I’ve learned to be humble and the biggest takeaway for me was that being wrong sometimes is actually ok.

When the doctor says you need to rest, you REST. You don’t fly to Salt Lake City for a big event because damnit I’ll be just fine. If your husband says he’s not sure you’re ready to go back to work yet, but you’ve already made up your mind (even when your body tells you you’re not ready), you LISTEN TO YOUR HUSBAND.

This doesn’t sound like rocket science right? But for me, I had to learn the hard way. I. don’t. always. know. best. Shocker.

I’m extremely hard headed and will fight until the bitter end if I think I’m right about something, or at least I would have. It’s not that I easily back down now, but I find myself taking time to see the other side, understand the situation better. Rather than automatically defend myself, I try to think about the whole picture and what really is the “right” answer. This is fairly new to me, and I’m definitely still working on this one. :)

You all can pick your jaws up off the floor now. ;)

Family really is most important.

Bla bla bla, family is important, yada yada yada. Everyone says this, most of us believe it, not many of us actually act on it. But when you realize that you may not be around forever, all that changes. Strangely it wasn’t when I learned that I had cancer, but when I was going through depression caused from chemo, that this became crystal clear to me.

I’ve always been a family person. Growing up, family was a big deal to me and when I had my own daughter, she always came first in decisions. But when your husband has to take care of you day and night for weeks and your 3 year old daughter has to learn to let mommy sleep, family becomes even more engrained in you. Both my mom and dad would call me every single day to check on me. Aunts, cousins, my brother and sister, they all worried sick about me.

But every day my husband and daughter were there for me. And I will always be there for them.

My sweeties. :)

Many days when I get home from work, I’m tired and would love to just rest. However, when my little girl asks me to play, I say yes (ok, most of the time). We play cards and dolls, put together puzzles and dance around the house. My job isn’t your typical 9-5 job, and while I may still check email and Twitter in the evenings during family time to make sure the sky isn’t falling, I don’t focus on work until after she’s asleep. It’s only a few hours at night that I get to spend with her each day and when I get grumpy and don’t want to play I try to remind myself of those days when I thought I wouldn’t get to play with her again, at all. And I play. :)

But it’s not just about playing. It’s about being there for the Lopez team (as our daughter likes to call us). It’s about being thoughtful of their feelings and needs and being open to change. Spending time with my husband and daughter is more important than anything to me. Without them, I’d just be some lonely lady.

Let life happen.

Within a matter of days, I went from feeling like I was on top of the world, to being so tired I had to take a nap at work. Not long after, I was at the park with my friends and family one day, and the next I couldn’t get out of bed (and didn’t for many weeks). Life happens quickly and for most of my life I’ve fought for things to happen the way I wanted them to go. But you know what? Life doesn’t work that way.

When I finally learned to let life happen naturally, without me trying to push and shove it a certain way, I began to actually enjoy life more. Now, this doesn’t mean I just sit back and not take charge of my life. But it does mean that when a curve ball is thrown my way, rather than try to make it straight, I go with the flow.

Of course I’m not perfect, and I’m still in the process of learning how to let things happen rather than force them, but overall my life has improved because of these changes I’m making.

Exercise is a wonderful thing.

For almost four months now I’ve been going for a walk every single day (I only miss every now and then). All my life I’ve wanted to make exercise a priority but for some reason I could never do it. There was always a nagging voice (that oddly sounds just like my dad) in the back of my head constantly telling me that I should get my butt moving, but for whatever reason I just couldn’t do it. But when you’re faced with depression and possibility of getting cancer again, you make changes in your life.

Each morning as I’m on my walk, I always have a song in my head. Sometimes it’s a song from one of my daughter’s shows, and lately it’s been different Christmas songs. I laugh at myself as I hum the tune in my head and begin to get my mind ready for the day. It’s my one time of the day that’s all mine. I’m not only walking for my body’s health, but for my mind’s health as well.

My dad asks me every time we talk on the phone (which is several times a week) if I’m still walking. At first I was getting annoyed that he kept hounding me about it, but then I realized that he probably is still in shock. For 38 years he’s been trying desperately to get me to take exercising seriously, how can I expect him to believe me in only four months. I like proving my dad wrong on this one and continuing to walk and lose weight.

One thing I’m proud of is that or most of my adult life I’ve worn plus-sized clothing. I couldn’t shop at regular stores because an XL was always too small. This year for Christmas my husband bought me a gorgeous new running (walking) jacket since my old one was three sizes too big. But do you know what was the most exciting part?? It was a size Large. Just large. Like regular… large!!!! I’m pretty sure I almost peed my pants when it fit. :) Now just look how cute I am when I go out for my walk!

Thanks to my sweet husband for the new jacket!

I can handle anything.

Cancer… check. Chemo… check. Depression… check.

What else do you have for me life? I’m ready for it.

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How Foursquare Helped Me Overcome Depression

Posted by on Nov 2, 2011 in All About Jen | 10 comments

Over the past few years there has been lots of discussion about whether local check-in services like Foursquare were worthwhile. From a marketing perspective I can see why a business would want to have a profile set up, create some campaigns and generally use it to market their business. But personally I’ve struggled with finding a reason to use it.

A couple years ago I first signed up, added a few friends and started checking in to places. I thought it was interesting to read the tips and fun to see where my friends were, but it also felt a bit creepy. Plus I never wanted to be that chick that checked in at Applebees (or some other horrifying place) and told the whole world about it. You know those folks who feel it necessary to share on Twitter and Facebook every step they take each day. So I never hooked up other social sites to my Foursquare account. As someone who works in social media every day this may seem a bit odd, but for me it just didn’t seem right to scream to the world every place I went.

Then several months ago, I lost my phone (ok, actually it got flushed down the toilet but that’s another story) and never even bothered to add the Foursquare app to my phone. I went on my merry way, living my life just fine without checking in to places. I thought about it a few times and had several occasions where a friend would check in and have a good tip or something along those lines. But I never really saw the point.

Until one day this summer while I was going through the end of my chemo treatments and dealing with a deep depression where I didn’t want to leave the house. Literally I spent weeks inside my house, not even wanting to go outside to get the mail. It depressed me even more to think that I couldn’t go to the grocery store, or to a restaurant without horrible anxiety.

Then I started going on walks each day sometimes to the Ballard Locks close by, other times to the beach. One day my husband, in his infinite wisdom, mentioned that perhaps I should start checking into places on Foursquare. He thought it might help me feel like I’m getting out and doing things if I had a “record” of it. So that’s what I started to do.

It’s not like I was going many places, but if I checked in to one place each day I felt pretty good about it. After a month or so of walking to the Locks every day, I got a notification that I was 9 days away from being the mayor. Woohoo! I wasn’t sure why but that message elated me. So I kept walking, every single day. I didn’t care if it was raining or dark or cold or hot or whatever, I wanted that damn mayorship. I needed to prove to myself that I could get out of the house. Then after those 9 days (I think it actually only took 7 days, which I haven’t quite figured out how) I checked in one morning and VOILA I was mayor. I think I did a little dance right there at the Locks. “Oh yea, I’m the mayor, Oh yea, I’m a baddass” is what I sang to myself.

Again, it still didn’t really mean anything. But to me, it meant everything. It meant I had gotten out of the house 43 days straight. It also meant that I had gotten exercise for 43 days. Woooohawwww!

At some point along the way, I went back to work (after two months out). I slowly started going back to the office, sometimes just one day a week, and now I’m back to full time. Again, I started to check in at the office (when I remembered). And today, I became the mayor of the office as well. :) Which I think is pretty damn good for a gal who was out for two whole months in the summer. :) Of course this probably just means that my coworkers don’t check in, but that’s ok. To me it proves that I’m getting better. That I get out of the house and into the office full time. It means I feel normal again.

So yea… I’m damn proud of my mayorships and now it gives me something to hold on to. It may sound silly, but some days when I don’t want to get up and go for a walk because it’s pitch-fricken-dark out there, I remember my mayorship. And I’ll be damned if someone is going to take that away from me.

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Depression: What Summer Was Made of

Posted by on Oct 27, 2011 in All About Jen | 45 comments

Tonight I’m sitting here trying to keep my mind off the CT scan I’m getting in the morning. It’s a routine scan for a 6-month check up to see if there’s any sign of cancer in my body. Ugh, the c word. For the most part, I’m feeling pretty positive about it, but I can’t seem to get my mind off the past year and especially those ugly summer months. (I should warn you now, this post is long and you’ll see a side of me you’ve probably never seen before.)

I’m lucky to have so many people who care about me, asking how I’m doing and wanting an update. But most people have no idea or at least don’t understand what I went through over the summer. It’s been hard for me to talk about it really. The last time I wrote about this I was just realizing I had to go with the flow. Unfortunately, I figured this out too late and my body took over for me.

Just a few days after I wrote that post, I was sitting at work one day and I couldn’t stop crying. I was dead tired and felt an anxiety about being in the office that I had never experienced before. Every email I opened created more tears. I was overwhelmed. I took a cab home because I could feel that I needed to get home quickly, then proceeded to sleep for the next several hours. I felt like the rest helped.

But the next morning came, and I literally couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t get out of bed. I also couldn’t stop crying. I was scared.

My husband emailed my boss to let him know I wouldn’t be in… little did we know that I wouldn’t be in the office again for another 7 weeks.

For the next three days I slept and I cried. My husband would force me to get up and brush my teeth and make me eat a peanut butter sandwich. I didn’t want to eat, I didn’t want to drink, hell I didn’t want to get up to pee. I wondered if I was depressed or something, but somehow that scared me even more than having cancer.

After several days I finally called the doctor. Yes, I was depressed. I was going through shock and mourning after finally realizing what I had been through the previous seven months. The doctor called it an “adjustment reaction.” Oh. Shit. So what did this mean? He instantly put me on anti-depressants but explained that it would take at least a couple weeks for the medication to kick in. I was absolutely horrified. How could I be like this for the next 2 weeks?! It was hard on me and even harder on my husband and daughter. Pfft… if only it had been 2 weeks.

The worst part though was my own mind. I couldn’t stop thinking. I thought about work and worried and cried because I wasn’t there to answer people’s questions about Mozcation Brazil. I was getting emails about MozCon and all I could do was forward them for someone else to handle. I couldn’t do anything and it was killing me. I was worried about every little thing. I thought about high school, college, my first job, living in Mexico and Costa Rica. Literally all I did was think, and it was scary in my head. I felt sick that someone else was having to do my work for me on top of their own job. I just wanted to feel better, and I wanted to feel better NOW damnit. The doctor said 2 weeks, so I should be back on my feet in 2 weeks right? Right?!

We had been planning a trip back home to Denver for months and unfortunately it came along just a couple weeks into getting sick. I was scared I wouldn’t even be able to make it on the drive to the airport, let alone a 3 hour flight and all that goes with traveling. But I was bound and determined to get home. I wanted my mom. I wanted her to take care of me. And that’s what she did. For the 10 days I was home, my mom would give me massages every day. She would sit next to me and tell me it was going to be ok, that was I was going to be myself again. The entire time I was there I left the house twice, once for a quick drive and the second time to go to dinner on my last day. It was a disaster. I came home and cried. I couldn’t even go to a restaurant?! And why the fuck wasn’t this medicine working yet? It had been two weeks. I felt the same. Why? Why? Why?

The following week was MozCon and I was supposed to speak about Community Management. This whole time I kept telling myself that I was going to be well enough to make it to MozCon. I had been looking forward to the event all year since the previous year I missed most of it because I had just found out about the cancer. I totally fought myself. I didn’t want to be sick, I wanted to be well. I wanted to go to MozCon and see my friends and meet the community. I wanted to do what I love!

But I couldn’t.

I couldn’t leave the house. I was scared. I, Jen Lopez was scared to be around other people. I thought often that I would be like this forever now. That I’d never be myself again. That I would lose my job because I couldn’t do it. I was depressed and I was embarrassed to talk about it. I couldn’t let people see me like this. My mind just kept thinking all these things.

All the while my boss was telling me that it was ok, to take my time, that everything was under control. He was amazing and very kind and understanding. As was my husband and my doctor and everyone else really. But I was still a mess. I was fighting myself and couldn’t seem to go with the flow like I had tried to learn earlier.

Oh, I should also say that some time during this whole mess I decided I couldn’t proceed with chemo. I had 1 1/2 rounds left, which would have been another 8 weeks. When I told the doctor, he completely agreed and felt that my body was telling me it was time to stop. WHEW! At least that was out of the way. The day I found out I for sure didn’t have to go back for chemo I was overjoyed. I tweeted about it and posted on Facebook. It was so great to tell everyone the news and get such positive feedback. :) Unfortunately, the next day I felt horrible again.

Mornings were the worst. I would wake up and it felt like my heart was racing, but it wasn’t. I had this incredible anxiety and it would often take me until noon or so to actually get out of bed. It was frustrating. Not just for me but for my husband who all summer had been taking care of our daughter full time while she was out of school and taking care of me full time because I was a fricken mess. He hates when I say this, because it was hard on him, but he’s a saint. He was sweet and understanding when needed, and forced me to get up off my ass when I needed that.

One morning when I was complaining about feeling that horrible anxiety he said “maybe you need to exercise a bit to get your heart pumping and get rid of it.” He literally forced me to do situps and pushups. I was so pissed at him for “being mean” until I realized I felt better. WTF!??? I felt better after exercising a bit. This was new to me. The next day (or maybe the day after that, who knows anymore) he made me go for a walk around the block. Then I went for a walk around two blocks. Finally one day I walked to the Ballard Locks and was hooked. I felt great! Ok… let’s not lie, I felt pretty good which at that point meant great.

So I started to walk every day.

The walks help me clear my mind in the morning and obviously get some exercise. They also make me feel like I’m prolonging my life. My friend Mike recently passed away from colon cancer. He was too young. One time after he found out I also had colon cancer, he emailed me about how walking for an hour each day had helped him go into remission. He was feeling great at the time and was passing along lots of great advice. Now when I go on my walks I think about Mike and how if those walks prolonged his life to help give him another year with his wife and sons, then what could it do for me?

I walk so I can see my little girl grow up and grow old with my sweet husband. (Oh! Also because I’m now the mayor on Foursquare. ;) )

After 7 very long and very dark weeks, I attempted to go back to work. It was a complete disaster. I wasn’t actually ready, but again I forced myself. It had been too long, I needed to be there. I walked in and my coworkers right away gave me lots of hugs… and I started to cry. Those damn tears were back. I made it about 2 hours, then had to go home. I slept the rest of the day. I was exhausted and being there had sent me back into that depression. Now this scared the hell out of me. If I couldn’t be in the office, what was I going to do?!

I finally, after 7 excruciating weeks, gave in to my body and mind. I stopped fighting. Ok, fine, I’m depressed, I feel horrible, FINE. I kept going on walks and started working from home. Little by little I was finally feeling better. Over the next few weeks I slowly worked myself into full days and am now back to work full time.

At this point I mostly feel like myself again, other than the fact that I’ve lost a ton of weight. :) It has been a long road to get back here and I’m definitely not done. But I’m glad to be out of that dark place. I’m scared about two things now: depression and cancer. And honestly, while the cancer could actually kill me, getting depressed like that again feels worse.

So as I sit here wondering what the scan tomorrow will bring, I’m content. I have a wonderful husband, the sweetest child anyone could ever imagine, and I feel pretty ok. I’m thankful for my family and for the support of SEOmoz and the entire community. No matter the outcome of the test, I know one thing for certain:

I’ll be going on a walk tomorrow, as if my life depends on it.

 

** update 10/28/11 – Talked to the doctor today and the CT scan came back clean. woohoooo!

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