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.

25 Comments

  1. Your growth is inspirational and amazing to witness. Thank you for sharing so much of you this year, struggles, gorgeous family photos and all. Cheers to 2012.

    • Thanks Rhea! I’m grateful we had time to hang out last year. :) Hoping to have more of that in 2012!

  2. Whatever life plans to send your way… check.

    …and that’s a fact.

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey during the year, but most of all, thank you for being good to you.

    2012 can roll on in, because life doesn’t stand a chance.

    • Thanks Sha :) and thanks for all your support this year!

  3. Awesome post! Very inspiring, specially for the ones like me who had to experience cancer, chemo and radiotherapy in our families. We know well what you are talking about.
    Good learning curve you describe and incredibly good values to live by. Loved the cutie photos!
    Happy 2012 from Madrid!

    • Hola Charo! I’m so sorry to hear that you and your family have had to deal with cancer and chemo as well. I know it’s tough on the entire family. Hope you have a great new year!

  4. I’m so glad you have shared with us today and all year long. You and your family are truly an inspiration. You’re an amazing woman Jen – I will be cheersing to an awesome 2012 for you and your family this holiday!

    • Thanks Kristy. :) I hope you and your family have a wonderful 2012. I know last year was a crazy one for us all. <3

  5. I remember when you went to Salt Lake City. We had fun. You were so strong I thought you were taking care of me. Very inspirational story – I’m so proud of you.

    • Wow, you know I could barely stay awake the whole time. I was honestly pretty miserable. I felt like I wasn’t holding up my end of the bargain!

  6. Congratulations on making it through 2011. Hope Team Lopez gets a much deserved break in the new year.

    • Thanks Pete :)

  7. I know people have said it already, but you are an inspiration, and a rock not just to your family but to the community as well. Here’s a strong, healthy and fantastic 2012!

  8. How can you not root for Team Lopez? You have an ability to express feelings about struggles and triumphs that strike a chord with me, keep it up in 2012!

    • Very sweet Chris, thank you!

  9. This was beautiful, Jen. You gave all of us a scare, but it says something about what kind of person you are to have so many people who were pulling for you. Thank you for sharing your story so poignantly, even confessing to depression (who wouldn’t be?). It’s a topic no one ever wants to admit to, but I think it’s validating to others to read about someone else’s struggle out of an emotional crater. Thank you for bringing a ray of sunshine to my day. <3

    • Your comment actually made me tear up when I read it the other day. I also had a huge grin on my face. :) Thank you Annie, it’s been interesting being so open about this stuff. But it’s really helped me to get through this.

  10. you are one of the most inspiring people I follow. Thanks for being so transparent aBout your life. I know you don’t know me but I’m praying that you have an amazing 2012!!! Happy new year.

    • Thank you! Happy new year to you as well. :)

  11. Love this post. Love what you’ve accomplished this year. Love the Lopez family. And love you, Jen :-)

    Fingers crossed, 2012 will bring some easier wins. I think you’ve earned ‘em.

    • Thanks Rand! We plan on rocking 2012. :)

  12. You are amazing Jen! This is my favorite of all of your posts so far. :-)

    Please keep inspiring me!

    • <3

  13. GO GIRL! Maybe we should get serious about walking that half marathon after all….

    So very glad to hear you’re doing well, and look forward to seeing you out and about more this year.

    • Thanks Alison! Walking a half marathon doesn’t actually seem so bad (omg did I just say that??). Really looking forward to hanging out with you this year! Have a great one. :)

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