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.

 

 

28 Comments

  1. Meat?! Blasphemy. Can you hear my yelling from Wallingford? ;)

    Go you! I think the most beautiful people in the world are the ones that are confident and comfortable in their own skins (and kind and all those other good things people do).

    • Hah! Damn it, I was hoping you were already in bed and wouldn’t see that. :P Thank you! <3

  2. Keep posting your photos! Not just of the food, but of you!!

    Love the dress – it looks great and you look fab. Go you :)

  3. Jen,

    Welcome to the world of “enough already – there really is value in “me” “. :-) You are an amazingly tenacious, intelligent, and yes, beautiful, human – inside and out.

    As you begin to allow your passion for expression to shine, in ways you already do with your passion for excellence in your work, you’re going to rock this world in even more wonderful ways.

  4. Jen, I love how you have taken an awful experience and turned it into a lesson AND a happy ending! You look great in your new duds and you ARE great. And just Erica you ARE a vegetarian….once removed :-p. Michael

  5. YOU GO GRRRLLLLLL!! Big shout out to SEO Aly, too, she shared your blog!

  6. You are in inspiration :)
    Keep being awesome!

  7. Now WHO told you that you aren’t good at your job? I hope that you told them to go pound sand. Anyway, it’s amazing how well-cut, well-made clothing that fit properly can not just be comfortable, but also make you feel spectacular. It’s an instant transformation and boost in confidence. I love seeing these model photos, and I love seeing your food photos. They are inspiring and frankly, I love seeing my friends thrive.

    • +1 to what Monica said, especially about well-cut, well-made clothing. I recently made that discovery and it was amazing.

      As for food, well, my wife is an amazing cook and she doesn’t care who knows it. Embrace your foodiness and fuck the haters. Especially that douche who told you you’re not good at your job.

  8. I love and encourage this, it’s very Beyonce! (hope you take that as the compliment is is intended to be!)

  9. Jen, you know I think you are great and I watched from afar as you kicked cancer’s ass. You are a great and beautiful woman. As you know I suffered with an eating disorder for a long time and I am not a huge fan of how I look, but what I discovered is that the outside of me and what people think of it matters very little. What matters is who I am inside, what I do for others and what I accomplish.

    You are outstanding and you live life to the fullest, anyway you see fit. And one day you can teach me how to cook, because I so suck at it!

  10. YES! You shouldn’t be afraid to show who you are for a number of reasons. You’re a lovely human being. You certainly aren’t old. And your new clothes are awesome (dammit, see, I need another word to use)! On top of that, you have a community that loves and adores you. I look forward to more food and clothing photos!

  11. Holy crap this is the best thing I’ve read in a long time. Thanks for your honesty, and let me echo others here in saying that you are a personal (and professional!) inspiration.

  12. Smart, beautiful and talented women like yourself – of all ages and shapes – should never, ever “quiet” themselves. #flauntIt

  13. The only person who is eligible to judge if you do a good job or not, on anything really, is you. Keep being you and stop worrying about what others will think if you did this or that. You are awesome as you are :)

    Oh and print a big copy of this quote and attach it on your desk. Even better, set it as your desktop – http://www.pinterest.com/pin/147000375310223804/

  14. Right On!
    Fight the power J.Lo!!!

  15. It takes along time to realize that what you think about yourself is much more important than what others think about you, so go for it, girl!

  16. Well, I for one wish you’d stop posting the awesome pictures of the fabulous clothes. It makes me want to update my wardrobe! :-) Seriously though, I love seeing the pictures of you in your new clothes and your new fondness for cooking. Keep up the good work and know that you are an inspiration to many (always have been and always will be) including that beautiful girl of yours.

  17. I love this. Keep it up! You’ve got a lovely writing tone.

  18. I love you confession to “Be Just You”! You are such a huge inspiration for a lot of us (regarding work and your personal deal with life). Just stay like you are :-)

  19. Well done, Jen! Your story is inspiring. You’ve given me some much-needed perspective. Can’t wait for your book!

  20. I still say you’re a freakin’ Super Hero

  21. Thank you so much. This was exactly what I needed right now. I’m journeying through a similar landscape of fear surrounding writing and the place in my soul from which it comes. What if no one cares? What if it doesn’t help? What if it makes someone’s life even worse? I don’t know if I’ll ever slay those dragons…but I stand a decent shot at taming them and learning to fly on their backs.

    Thank you for writing this.

    Thank you for writing.

  22. So… you are pretty much the awesomest woman ever! I also learned to love cooking and post way too many food pics on Instagram. Hehe. I have also found more appreciation for expressing myself in fashion and have become a lot more girly. <3 I think I am still making up for those 6 months in "comfy clothes."

    Love that dress!!!

  23. You’re a survivor and inspiration to so many. Keep up the great work. And, share on! :)

  24. Go on and be your self Jen. We accept and respect you just the way you are. We always will.

  25. It’s funny how we often have conversations in our head where we are defending ourselves against people, real or imagined, when in “reality” those people probably aren’t even thinking or saying what we are defending ourselves against. I think it’s called projection. I’m sure there are a few idiots out there who know Jennifer Sable Lopez, but most of us just love her and want her to be happy, healthy and free to be herself.

    Keep up the great food posts on Facebook Jen! And you look great.

  26. I said this in my tweet but i’ll say it again, these are the kind of posts EVERY woman should read. Not just the ones the ones with cancer, not JUST the ones who have battled with weight (as a woman though rly, haven’t we all?) or just the women that have sat in technical seat doing marketing wondering if you really deserve to be sitting there or just an imposter. These are issues that ALL women face in every aspect of their lives and I love that you have been so open to expressing it.

    So much so.. i wanted to share my OWN story. (I rarely do this.. but you inspired me.) The other day my mom (who is plus sized) told me she needed a dress for a wedding. I thought, hey no worries let’s go this weekend. The weekend came and my mom bailed on me. When I pressed to figure out why she answered, “It doesn’t matter.. I’ll look horrible anyway.” What? My mother with all the confidence in the world, who told ME that it doesn’t matter what you look like as long as you raise your head? How dare she! So the weekend after I forced her to come out with me. We went for a relaxing brunch at a restaurant here at Toronto then made our way into the “big city” (she lives an hour away in the burbs) and headed to the Addition Elle, the canadian plus sized store. From the moment we stepped in these women made my mother feel like she wasn’t “plus sized” she was “woman sized” and they swept her into the dressing room and started handing her dresses to try. At one point they even stopped her and made her “walk the runaway” teaching her to strut her stuff. The surprising part? It wasn’t that my mom was plus sized and she was embarrassed, it was that she had a nasty scar across her throat after a recent bout with throat cancer and THAT was why she didn’t want to wear a dress. She didn’t see what I saw, a woman with confidence with a scar that showed everything she had been through. We got her a dress, and I wrote an email to the store thanking them for the amazing customer service and for helping me get to the bottom of this.

    As someone whose been in the SEO world for years, you’ve also been an incredible inspiration to me personally as a woman in technology. I’ve watched many of your talks, and even forced others i’ve managed over the years to watch them as well. It was funny because it wasn’t until i read another article of yours I didn’t even realize you were plus sized. And the answer, was oh whatever she looks great and she’s awesome! But, I think it’s until we say these things aloud that other women can also feel like they can share also. And hopefully we can come together to be a better world.

    Sorry the long comment – but I thought it was important to share how your words have touched me personally.. and hopefully it can balance out some of the haters. ;)

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