Q+A: Jenny Alden, Blogger+Survivor
Jenny is the blogger behind The Darling Sites as well as a recent brain tumor survivor.
Q: When did you decide to take your love of desserts to a professional level as a blogger?
A: I’ve always had a passion for desserts and found myself wondering amongst the landscape of proliferating bakeries, “Who makes the best cupcakes?” It occurred to me then that there needed to be a Zagat-like guide for desserts. Since I have a discerning palate, a love for writing, and an insane breadth of sweet experiences, it became clear that I had to write said guide. I launched Dessert Darling in August 2009. I use a 5-Cherry rating system and have a Golden Cherry [award] for the very best dessert in each category.
All my blogs have generated from a place of genuine passion and a need to share fun, exciting, or important info accordingly.
Q: How did you come to your recent decision to expand the Darling brand?
A: All my blogs have generated from a place of genuine passion and a need to share fun, exciting, or important info accordingly. After attending 35 weddings as a guest and spending a year and a half planning my own affair, I had so much information that I just had to share with future brides. At WeddingDarling.com, I blog cute finds and darling ideas as well as more practical bits of advice that aren’t typically found in bridal blogs. Additionally, I love scientific studies about health advancements, and once you learn about GMOs, it changes the way you look at food: you just can’t unlearn that information. I thought it was time to share all the intriguing info in a fun blog that made the studies really simple and digestible, so I launched HealthyDarling.com.
Q: You were married last year and your gorgeously feminine wine-country wedding was featured on Style Me Pretty. On your one-year wedding anniversary, you underwent brain surgery to remove a tumor that you unexpectedly discovered after taking a tumble. You’ve been very candid with your audience about your experience; please share with us a little bit about your story.
A: Wow- this experience is a little hard to put into words. My reaction to the diagnosis was so atypical and my results so seamless, that it feels like I just had a mole removed! At first, when I fell and thought I had a concussion, I freaked out (from those good ol’ scientific studies I’d read on the brain!). But when I found out that the bump from the fall was minor, but oh incidentally, I have a brain tumor… now that was hilarious. I knew from that moment on I had angels watching over and guiding me. I then cut sugar and gluten from my diet to be a healing-machine for surgery and I’ve never had more energy. I would seriously leap around my house singing and giggle to myself in public thinking “lady with a brain tumor coming through!” My poor husband, though, was a bit of deer in headlights leading up to the operation. Tyler listened to the doctor tell us that I may never be able to speak or comprehend language after surgery, and that I may very well need speech-therapy or chemo post-op. To his credit, he put his arm around me and said, “We’re in it together.” I was like, “Really? We haven’t been married a year yet, you can still turn me in!”
I would giggle to myself in public thinking “lady with a brain tumor, coming through!”
When we got back home he looked at me hard and said I wasn’t taking this seriously enough. (I believe I was making a puffy-paint brain binder at the time). I was like, “Babe, I’m not going to lose out on Olympic Gold by focusing a little harder- the only thing I can do is have a good attitude. What would you rather I do: sulk, eat too much, and snap at you?” To which he agreed, I had a good point. In an odd way, my brain tumor was one of the greatest experiences of my life. It taught me that angels exist, it brought my family closer together, it forced me to slow down, it highlighted the abundance of love in my life, and reaffirmed the power of positivity. Additionally, I feel emboldened. If I can do brain surgery with a smile, I can surely handle anything else that comes my way!
Q: What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned from your recent scare? How do you think it will change your life and career?
A: We’ve all heard of The Secret and the power of positive thinking: my recent experience could not have better punctuated the truth of that message. It never occurred to me that I would be anything but fine after my operation. Yes, my doctor had to share the scary possibilities, but I chose to never think of them again. I figured that worrying about them would only manifest a negative outcome. I would cross each bridge as necessary, but in the meantime, I just wanted to enjoy life in innocent bliss. Now that time has passed, little things that used to worry me before my surgery still emerge, but instead of letting the concerns snowball into a bundle of frustration and anxiety, I find myself stopping to remember how a positive, laissez-faire attitude suited me so well throughout the surgery. Our country recently had the Presidential election and I knew people on both sides of the political spectrum freaking out about the potential results. Democrats and Republicans alike swore to me they would leave the country if so-and-so won. I was like, you know what– someone’s going to win and my little vote aside, there’s not much I can do about it. So I then evaluated the positives that would come from each candidate’s presidency, and I was very zen on election day. While you can’t change some things around you in life, you can change the way you react to them. This was my greatest lesson from my brain experience.
That, and angels exist.