Friday, May 28, 2010


On Tuesday of this week I went to a luncheon for International Medical Corps. They are a global, humanitarian, nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives and relieving suffering through health care training and relief and development programs. They are in 26 countries including Darfur, Somalia Indonesia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Haiti. Their workers risk their safety (and may times their lives) to provide relief assistance in natural disasters, places of war, and in impoverished nations. One of the things that I find most impressive about this organization (aside from the fact that they are extremely fiscally responsible) is that they enlist the help of local citizens -- doctors, nurses, teachers, mothers, fathers, students, anyone who is willing – to do this work. They teach people how to help themselves and others so that when IMC leaves, the situation does not go back to where it was. They build infrastructure and create communities that can come together and be self-reliant.

I have attended this lunch for 3 years now, and every time it is lovely. This year they had a relief worker that had been in Haiti after the earthquake come and speak. She is a nurse who lives in Arizona, but was born in Haiti and lived their until her early twenties. As this woman told story after story about the people she encountered I was reminded of just how long it will take them to rebuild there. And that is the case for so many places around the world. The media cycle in our country has the shortest attention span – one minute it is non-stop Haiti coverage, then the next is “storm watch 2010” or "Lindsay Lohan goes to jail" or "we hate the president" or "people aren’t picking up their dog poo in downtown LA" (seriously that was as story on the news this week, really?!). Once the next headline is blasted over and over, the last becomes a distant memory. Suddenly we are not hearing about Haiti or the Iraqi refugees or AIDS babies in Africa – it is out of our collective conscience, we stop talking about it, donations cease to be made, it’s like it doesn’t exist any more. Meanwhile, the people who are experiencing these hardships and those who are trying to help are working tirelessly just to make it through each day.

It made me realize that I need to make an effort to remember these things, to give consistently, to pray for these people, to talk about them, to read about them and not let their stories be forgotten. It is inspiring to see what comes out of war or disaster – to see how people come together to help their neighbors, even strangers who are in need. If people can do that in the middle of gunfire and devastation, then I can certainly do it in the middle of my VERY charmed life.

Please take a minute to read about International Medical Corps and the incredible work that they do. It is sure to inspire you too!!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Tonight my cousin and I will drink a few shots of espresso, before venturing to the Archlight Hollywood to join the multitude of sassy gentlemen and over dressed ladies (and the 2 awkward boyfriends who are trying to impress said ladies) in watching the 12:10am showing of Sex and the City 2. We did it for the first one, and it did not disappoint. I know that many people did not like the first movie, but I loved it. I thought it was honest and real and it ended happy AND she got those amazingly incredible shoes in that amazingly incredible closet (which may or may not be honest or real, but it gives this crazy lady warm fuzzies).

I am really hoping that #2 is not awful. I'm leary of the whole middle east trip story line and I will be heartbroken if the return of Aiden leads to Carrie making bad decisions!! None the less, I am looking forward to being inspired to revamp my wardrobe (read: reinvent what the MANY items I have in my overstuffed TINY [thanks cohabitation/loft living] closet) and time with my fabulous cousin! Now the big questions is what ever will I wear?! Ok lets be honest, I'm an old lady and I will need a serious nap in order to stay up that late and will likely roll out of bed, throw on the one pair of jeans that currently fit me and a scarf. Maybe a cocktail ring. We'll see.

Friday, May 21, 2010


I feared this would happen. I just did not expect it this soon. I’ve been so excited by the wonderful comments and emails that I have gotten about the blog (PS-thank you!). So you think that I would be super duper all up on the posting train but, the past week I have been overwhelmed and in a bit of a funk so I have not written at all. Then every time I think about writing I feel like I am awful because I have not posted in 5 days and then the convo in my brain starts, “See, you should not have started a blog, you won’t follow through. This is just another one of the things you start with excitement and let fall off in to the abyss of ‘things Jenn starts and doesn’t finish’. You suck.” (PS-on those days being in my brain is soooooo awesome….NOT). The thing is that I create these expectations that put so much pressure on myself to be funny and witty and poignant and on and on and on that it paralyzes me and I watch 6 hours of Oprahs that I have recorded instead of writing (Judge all you want, but I love me some cookoo Oprah).

Even though I have been on a great medication that has worked very well, there are still highs and lows that I have to deal with. I’ve accepted that this is just part of the territory and even though it does effect my daily life, it is WAY better than it was pre-meds, so I just deal with it. And by deal with it, I mean I call my doctor, we tweak meds and I hope for the best. But just when it seems like I’ve got it, a month later I’m in a funk again. I really don’t notice it as much when I get a little manic because honestly being a tad manic is kinda fun. I need less sleep, I get a lot done, I’m extra bubbly and sassy…its pretty much awesome, until its not. Then it is really not ok. So I have to get better at noticing. Note to self. Moving on…

It’s the depressions that I notice big time, just not right away. It starts out as just having a bad day or two. No reason to be alarmed, everyone has bad days, even bad weeks. “Don’t over react Jennifer Ann, everyone has days where they hate their life a little. Simmer down.” But then those days turn into a week and that week becomes two weeks. Next thing I know its been a month and angry chick rock has made its way to my running play list, I hate getting ready in the morning (read: perma-messy-on-purpose-ponytail), I wear the same 5 things that resemble clothes for pregnant ladies, all I want to eat is cereal, I don’t return emails, my tear ducts are just begging for someone to look at me the wrong way and I am a snappy sally over any little thing. (this is the point that you should start feeling bad for my boyfriend.) It ain’t pretty. It’s hard to admit. No one wants to be that much of a hot mess. Get it together already. Thankfully the time between the funk getting out of hand and pulling it together keeps getting smaller and smaller. I’ve gotten way better and acknowledging my hot-mess-ness, sucking it up, calling my doctor (who is amazing, btw) and make what ever changes necessary to get back on track. It is my hope that eventually we will find the right combo that makes the ups and downs happen less frequently allowing the crazy to resume it’s role as superpower.

So there you have it. That’s been my week. I’m sorry it’s kinda debbie downer, but its real and honest -- that is what I set out to be when I decided to start this whole thing.

That being said, I will leave you with a smile and a curtsy. Happy Friday everyone!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Wisdom Shared.

This past weekend I went away on a retreat with a business group that I have been meeting with for the last 5 years. We meet monthly and go away for a weekend once a year. We went to San Diego this time around and had a great time! On Saturday we listened to a speaker, went on a brewery tour and to a Padres game. They played the Dodgers – I had a hot dog and cracker jacks, knowing full well that on I would pay the price in extra push-ups at bootcamp – TOTALLY worth it!! Then Sunday we had our meeting and went to Cardiff by the Sea, SO beautiful!!

The highlight of the weekend for me was the speaker on Saturday morning. The father of one of the members in our group came to speak to us about his story. He and his wife immigrated to the US from the Former Soviet Union over 30 years ago. He started at a small electrical company that he helped grow and upon realizing that he would never make partner there he decided to start his own business. He risked a lot to do so – he left a really good job and had a family to support, but it was really important to him to work at building something that would be his own. Today, he is the owner of a large and very successful company – the same company that he started on a shoestring budget over 20 years ago. He took time out of his busy schedule to share with us lessons that he has learned along the way. While he had many important things to say, the one that stood out most to me was the simplest: There is no substitute for hard work. For some reason this really struck me. It got me thinking about how often I look for a short cut or the easy way out. Don’t get me wrong, I work really hard and love what I do, but it seems like as a society we are constantly surrounded by the message: It is ok to get away with doing as little as possible.

One of the things that I struggle most with in my daily life of being bipolar is focus and follow-through. [Side note: I am not saying that these things are unique to being bipolar. I am sure that people who do not have crazy brains struggle with this too, but all I can speak for is me and my crazy brain.] So often I start something with HUGE ENTHUSIASM – jazz hands a blazing, “I’m going to change the world. I can’t be stopped!” etc. etc. Then when something glitters in the distance and says, “Look at me, I’m shinny and new. Pick me! Pick me!” my attention is diverted in an instant. Each day the cycle starts again and it takes great effort on a daily basis for me to fight this tendency. I work hard to appear as if that is not the case, but often am disappointed when I fall prey to the cycle. His perspective made me re-evaluate the way I approach my days – rather than just being “busy”, I need to be focused, work on and finish one thing at a time (or maybe 2 things, but certainly not 50). By approaching each day as a new and simply working hard, I can overcome these things that make me so frustrated with myself. And who knows, maybe I will change the world, perhaps I can’t be stopped…only time will tell.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A different kind of crazy

I am writing this post at 4:30am. Usually I’m up at this hour for one of two reasons (yes, there are two): 1) I have an early flight or very important meeting and I wake up every hour on the hour for fear that I will over sleep or 2) I’m a Manic Molly (some might argue that #2 could be the cause of #1, but that’s another post entirely).

Today’s 4am wake up is induced by different kind of crazy: BOOTCAMP. Normally I go to the evening class mostly because I’m one of those people who has to eat well before I can exercise so I don’t barf or pass out mid lunge, but I am going out of town this weekend and my only option is the morning session (hence sitting at my kitchen table eating high fiber cereal and blogging at 4:30am so I can leave at 6:30am to endure torture that I pay for). I decided to embark on this
pleasant journey because in another lapse of good judgment I signed up for a triathlon this September (which, BTW, is around the corner) and I needed someone to kick my ass into shape.

Have you ever been really good at something and then let it go for a long while before trying to take it up again only to realize that it is going to take WAY more work than you thought to get remotely close to where you were? That’s where I am now -- about a year ago I was a super duper hard-core Workout Wendy. I had a trainer who forced me to do crazy and insane things that I would have NEVER thought possible. At the height of my badass-ness I was 13.6% body fat, could hold plank position for over 4 minutes and could do 41 for realsies push-ups in a row. One time I was doing pull-ups (with some help) on the bars in the middle of my fancy pants West Hollywood gym when Fabio (yes, the
actual Fabio) came over to tell me that I was hardcore. Another time I won a push-up contest at the gym by doing 64 girl push-ups in a minute (and for those of you who just thought “that’s not hard, they were girl push-ups”, please take 60 seconds, try it and let me know how it goes). All of this shameless bragging has a point: I was serious business.

But now, I just try not to vom as I eeek out 10 push-ups while a camo-clad gentleman named Marcos yells that we will have to start over if we don’t count out loud. I try not to cry while being chased up a hill by a woman (also wearing camouflage) who could give Jillian Michaels a run for her money. It sucks, I hate it – not the actual working out part, but the fact that I suck SO bad and I’m SO far away from where I want to be. But I go, 3 days a week because it know it is the only fighting chance I have not to die during the triathlon. I will train and I will get to a point where I am happy and healthy in my workout life. I will finish the triathlon (if I don’t get eaten by a shark during the swim…yikes!). I may never be Fabio-style hardcore again, but I do know for certain that the time will come when idea of wearing a bathing suit won’t cause me to stab myself in the eye.

What about you? What’s something that you wish you didn’t “let go” and need to start up again??

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Crazy on Paper

I was diagnosed as bipolar about 5 ½ years ago. I vividly remember when the therapist I was seeing at the time (who was fabulous, BTW) uttered the statement: “I think you should be tested for bipolar.” Now, I was no stranger to this scenario. I had been in and out of therapy and treated for depression since I was 13. Had an eating disorder for 4 years that culminated in a suicide attempt at 17, which landed me in treatment for 2 months (affectionately known as “camp” in my world, more on that hilarity later). Spent the majority of my early 20s struggling with severe depressions and euphoric highs, often resulting in jazz-hand laden diatribes, binge drinking and absurd shopping sprees (thankfully not together, well…except for that one time…but OMG, those divine Gucci shoes [still in my closet] warranted the jazz hands AND celebratory drinking). I questioned my sanity more than once [a day] during that time, but BIPOLAR? That s like FOR REALS crazy. There is no way. I was only like sorta crazy. That being said, I was at the end of my rope with regard to the way my life was turning out and I’m all about trying new things…so I said, “Sure, why not?” All the while thinking that the result would be a zany story that I could tell while holding a martini at a dinner party…"remember that one time, I took the bipolar test?! Bahahahahahaha"…etc. etc.


Jenn makes an appointment with a psychiatrist who suggested she do what she coined “A Family Tree of Crazy”, more commonly known as a family mental health history. Turns out, there is a smidge (read: significant amount) of alcoholism and mental health issues on both sides of her family. Bipolar: 1. Jenn: 0.


Jenn taking the longest test in the history of tests (aka the MMPI) which consisted of several hours of anxiety ridden bubble filling out -- each question making more sense than the last, as if the test were reading her brain. Bipolar: 2. Jenn: -1.


Aforementioned psychiatrist sitting down with Jenn to go over the results of the longest test in the history of tests…an 11 page “report” complete with detailed analysis, a bunch of numbers, and a nifty graph made of stars (which she thought was a nice touch) all pointing to what she hoped would not be the case: “So what you are saying is, that I am crazy on paper?” Bipolar: 3. Jenn: terrified.

and SCENE.

So I was faced with a decision: either live the life of a tormented heroine in a Hallmark Channel movie or embrace the crazy and see it for what it was: my superpower. I’d like to think that I use my powers for good, rather than evil (I mean, with in reason). Since my diagnosis, I’ve gone through ups and downs in trying to get my medication right. I’ve struggled and had triumphs. I’ve made great strides and taken HUGE steps back.

But, most importantly I’ve become comfortable with who I am.

My journey is far from over (Lord willing) and so I’ve decided to write about it. To talk about the good, the bad and the HILARIOUS, past and present - to give voice to the crazy that no one talks about. And in the middle of all that I’ll shimmy in my thoughts/unsolicited opinions on pop culture, current obsessions, fashion dos and don’ts and any other nonsense that pops into my brain. I’d love to hear what’s in your brain – leave a comment, ask a question…stay for a while.