Learning to ‘Go With the Flow’

Posted by on Jul 3, 2011 in All About Jen | 24 comments

Have you ever had someone tell you to relax and “go with the flow?” Well, I don’t know about you, but I’ve always fought this concept. It sounds easy, but the actual implementation is quite difficult. Plus, let me be honest here, I like things to go my way. Why should I have to change my ways to accommodate something or someone else? Why? No seriously… why?

My husband recently reminded me of this idea of going with the flow, and I fought him on it (not the first time). But damn it, he was right. It’s time for me to let things be, live and let live and not try to force things to be the way I want them to be.

So what has lead me down this path? Well… as you may already know, I had colon cancer and am in the middle of taking chemo treatments. I’ve been known to call my treatment “chemo light” as the drugs I get are often the base of much more aggressive treatments. Since I started chemo back in November 2010, I’ve had a few bad days, but honestly life has been pretty good. Ok, and by good, really I mean pretty great (relatively).

Life has been a bit harder, but that just means I’ve had to work harder. Since the time I started chemo I’ve:

  • Traveled to Spain, NYC (twice), San Jose, Salt Lake City & Denver
  • Been to 5 conferences and 2 meetups
  • Spoken at 4 conferences (soon to be 5), 1 meetup & helped with several webinars
  • Been interviewed once and have been mentioned in several other posts
  • Written one guest post and have another one in the works
  • Commented on countless blog posts
  • “Talked” with hundreds of people via Twitter, Facebook, IM, email, etc.
  • Had countless team meetings
  • Essentially… done my job

None of the things listed above are all that extraordinary. These are all aspects of my job, just a part of what’s expected. The point is that I’ve been able to keep on keepin’ on with only a few bumps in the road. On the other side, I should put these into perspective with some of the things I’ve been doing in my personal life too. Since September of 2010, I’ve had:

  • Major surgery
  • 3 CT scans and 5 X-Rays (literally the X-Ray & CT people know me now)
  • 2 Colonoscopies, 2 Endoscopies, 2 Flexible Sigmoidoscipies and have had my colon stretched 3 times (eww)
  • 45+ various doctor’s visits
  • 25 weeks of chemo (only 11 more to go!)

Yea, I’ve been a bit busy.

But whatever, life goes on and you deal with it. Ok I say that all nonchalantly like it’s been super easy. It hasn’t been, my husband has been my rock and has helped me through every single day. SEOmoz & my team members have been open and understanding through everything. Without the support at home and work, life would be much more difficult! But back to the chemo…

This chemo bullshit hasn’t stopped me though, until recently. Around the time of SMX Advanced, I caught a nasty cold. I had already been running myself a bit ragged but the combination of chemo + cold + conference + quick trip to Denver, left me so fatigued I could barely move. Literally one day I was sitting in a meeting at work and had to talk myself out of falling asleep. Right after the meeting I went and took a nap in our video room. That’s when I finally called the doctor (mainly because my husband said “call the doctor, or I will”) to see wtf was wrong with me.

For the past six months I’ve been chugging along as usual, perhaps even pushing myself a bit more than normal. When I think about it now, I wanted to be sure I wasn’t considered “that girl.” You know, the one that had chemo and made a big deal about it. The one that couldn’t be Wonder Woman through it all. The one that made everyone else suffer because she was suffering. “That girl” sucks. But so does being so f-ing tired that your body feels like it’s been run over by a truck.

So you know what the doctor told me?? He reminded me that I’m taking chemo. That I’m putting poison into my body and that it’s cumulative. So all those 25 weeks of treatments are finally adding up… and apparently kicking my ass. Well fuckity fuck. He also told me I had to slow down. Wait. What?! Didn’t he know what industry I’m in?? Doesn’t he know that internet marketers don’t slow down for anything, not even chemo? Bah.

He also told me my husband was right (literally he said “your husband is right,” Rudy is still rejoicing over those words). He reminded me that when my body says “you’re too tired to work” then I stop working, rather than trying to push through. He reminded me that I need to learn to say no and not put more work on my plate (eek.. what?!). The doctor told me to take a couple days off work and sleep.

Shit.

This was getting serious. So… I’m taking it into my own hands to “go with the fucking flow.” Yea. I cuss. So what? I’m taking chemo right now, and I’ve earned the right. I’ve also earned the right to sleep and to ask for help. So that’s my point. I’m tired, chemo is kicking my ass and I’m going to just go with it rather than fight it. Oh… and my husband was right. :)

24 Comments

  1. Jennifer, you have earned the right to rest. And I’m sure that work will only go better once you give your body what it needs–sleep. Because as creatives (and we are all that, one way or another) we cannot keep giving when the reservoir is empty.

    You’re in my prayers–really hope you feel better soon and that in 11 weeks you’ll be free and clear.

    • Thank you so much Patricia. :) It’s true that when we’re worn out, we’re not able to give both personally and professionally. I was just a bit amazed at how hard the fatigue hit me so quickly. I’m looking forward to getting this over with for sure!

  2. Jen,

    I love you – heart and soul. You are one of the most amazing beings to ever come into my life.

    Here’s the thing though. I had to learn the hard way that none of us can be “on” all the time. Without the time and space to recharge, in any condition, we’re not able to then be “on” at max force / max pace for the next cycle of life.

    I’m truly glad to hear you’re starting to get it. Allow yourself this reality – that you really just need to trust in the process. You’ll find it does wonders.

    • Yes yes yes! You are so right Alan. It’s hard for me to believe it took me so long to figure this out. Glad I have friends like you and the sweetest husband to smack me into reality. :)

  3. Jennifer, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I am blown away.

    For the time that I have been following you on Twitter now, I always admired your enthusiasm and effort you are putting into your work.

    Learning now, that you did all this with the burden of cancer and chemo, just leaves me with my jaw on the floor.

    It truly is unbelievable that you continued with everything and pushed yourself amidst all these problems.

    So if there is anything I can say, you are definitely NOT that girl.

    And if there is anyone on this planet allowing themselves to have a little rest and slow down, well it gotta be you.

    You rock! :)

    • Wow thanks Leo, I really appreciate you comments! Going through all this definitely has forced me to become a stronger person… I just never thought it would help me gain the perspective it has. Thanks for following me on Twitter even though I’ve been too tired to tweet as much lately. :) I appreciate your sweet tweets today too!

  4. Nobody thinks you’re “that girl”. Are you fucking crazy? Your husband is right and Patricia is right: Let your reservoir refill.

    And now you’re right too. “Go with the fucking flow”.

    You deserve your rest, and never for get that understanding (or trying to) and empathy are not the same thing as pity. A lot of people care about you because you’re an awesome human being. You have some equity here. Use it.

    • Whew.. I have a hard time with this, “You have some equity here. Use it.” I hear what you’re saying but I don’t want to use chemo or cancer as a “thing” – ya know?

      • I don’t mean chemo and caner are what gives you “equity”. I mean you being an awesome person gives you equity. So whether it’s chemo or just stubbing your toe, if you need some Jen-Time you have people who care enough and respect you enough that you shouldn’t worry about taking that time. You’re still Wonder Woman after a few days off. Your awesomeness has wiggle room. Equity. Sorry about the confusion. ;-)

  5. OK; was just feeling a bit tired-then caught this post, and Uhm …have not done nearly as much as you- nor experiencing the chemo. I do think it’s one of the good things about colds (yes, good things!)-letting us know to manage and care for the vehicle. Superb post.

    • Thanks Ric! Please don’t feel bad for being tired though. This is one thing I have a hard time with as well. No one likes to complain to me… as if no one around me can have a bad day, a headache or be pissed off about something. “Oh no, don’t complain to cancer girl!” :)

      • Ha! Was just marveling at your biz accomplishments, never even mind the cancer!

        Did you ever worry about cancer before your diagnosis? What is it, one in four of us do get it by a certain age- maybe more? Wonder if, somehow, getting the diagnosis means being able to let go of that fear? Actually somehow enabling a person to go with the flow?

        Reminds me, too- need to go get that test- turned 50 this year! Thank you for letting us in on such a personal note.

        • Oh! haha :) I never really worried about cancer before, especially not colon cancer! I had thought about skin cancer before but never really anything else. The moment my doctor said they found a “growth” I freaked out. That was the moment it all became real.

          Yes, yeas yes, please go get your test! There’s simply no reason not to make it happen. :)

  6. Great post! The problem for me (and it sounds like maybe you) is opening my eyes and ascertaining the direction of the flow. Sounds like Rudy and the Dr. have you covered though. Love you!

    CK

    • Thanks my friend! I’m quite lucky to have these two smart guys in my life. :) But I agree it’s hard to determine which way the flow is going. Lately for me though it’s just slowing down to a screeching halt.

  7. You aren’t “that girl” – if you were, you wouldn’t worry about being her. :P I will be keeping you in my prayers, because you’re “this girl” – someone who always has a smile, and makes time for everyone (including those of us on the Twitter). You cannot be there for us, if you aren’t there for you. Take this time to be there for you. Because “this girl” is the kind of girl who needs time to heal – and patience to realize that, indeed, God requires that we go with the flow.

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment! You’re so right, I have to be good to myself to be able to be good to others. It’s tough to remember that sometimes and I don’t take my own advice very well. Today was one of those bad days and I went home and slept for 3 hours. I may finally be getting this through my head that I have to slow down. Thanks!

  8. So happy to hear you’re making yourself breathe a little. Sleep and laughter are the best things in the world.

  9. Our wee one has a terrific role model in her mother. I can’t add anything to what Jennifer has said other than I have never known a stronger person. And while she has to (temporarily) accept a few limitations, rest assured she hates every fucking second of it.

  10. You are a great person and your husband is a very lucky man.

  11. Your words hit my heart as well as motivated me, and surely many others:

    “…when my body says “you’re too tired to work” then I stop working, rather than trying to push through. …learn to say no and not put more work on my plate (eek.. what?!).”

    Please remind yourself of that daily, and I’m taking this on as a queue to do the same. Since when is work and search more important than health?

    Love you so much and can’t wait until that poison and cancer are out of your body and you’re once again set free!

  12. I love you and you kick ass

  13. You inspire me a lot jennifer. Inspite of your disease you still continue to move on. Enjoy life to the fullest. Hope you’ll be ok!

  14. wow Jen you’re a tough cookie. I really like your way of looking at life and I believe you’re both right. Sometimes you got to relax, but if you really believe in working hard (if you love it anyway) keep doing it, it’s probably your DNA.
    I know from experience what you’re going through having had Leukemia when I was a kid, and I know it isn’t easy. But I know a personal like you will kick cancers ass. For now just relax, you DO deserve it. I just want to say I found you through a post Rand made about social media and you were in there. I’m glad I found you.

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