Thursday, April 23, 2015

a bit on mental illness

I'm pretty sure this is about to be a soapbox post. Sorry in advance. But not that sorry.

For nearly a year and a half, I worked at a treatment center for teenage girls with emotional, mental, and behavioral issues. I interacted with so many amazing yet troubled girls who just wanted to be understood and loved. I learned so much about mental illness, more than I ever did while reading about it in textbooks in college classes.

Today I was reflecting on this experience and thinking about how mental illness is still so misunderstood in our society. While I personally have not suffered from a mental illness, I have worked very closely and had some very hard conversations with some people who do struggle with mental illnesses. While reflecting, I ended up thinking about one girl specifically that I have worked with. She has severe depression and borderline personality disorder. I started thinking about all the conversations we had where she would be fighting with her own mind, struggling to regain control. I wanted to try to put into words what I observed in these conversations with her, as well as conversations I had with other girls with similar issues. I do not claim to know what it is like to have either of these disorders, but I wanted to put into words what I have observed in conversations with clients and what I perceive is going through their mind on a daily basis.


This is my attempt to both understand and explain what may be going through the mind of a person with depression and borderline personality disorder. As with any mental illness, there are good days and there are bad days, but this pattern of thinking in circles and unconnected thoughts seems to be something that happens to a lot of the girls I've worked with. I can't even imagine how difficult it is to try to control those thoughts and that is why I am in this line of work - I want to do everything in my power to help people figure out how to help themselves.

It is so difficult to live with a mental illness, and I have so much love and compassion for every person I have worked with that struggles with one. I just want all people to understand a little bit more, so they can be a little bit more accepting. Mental illness is a real issue that so many people struggle with, live with, and succeed with. I think it is so important for everyone to look at themselves and see if they can be more understanding and compassionate in regards to mental illness.




Monday, March 30, 2015

Evolution of my curls.

I have fallen in love with my hair.

This is not a thing I ever thought I would be able to say, but it is one of the truest things I know. I'm going to explain to you my journey over the last 12 or so years of my life that brought me to this acceptance of my hair.

I was not born with curly hair. My hair was actually very, very straight for the first 10 years of my life. And then puberty, as it is prone to do, effected some huge changes. Suddenly, my hair was wavy and just seemed to be getting curlier. Being a bit of a tomboy already, my solution for dealing with curly hair at 11 or 12 years old was to pull it into a pony tail and forget about it.
We're digging deep in the archives for this baby. Here is 8th
grade Jennie with her awesome crunchy curls and braces. 
It was hard time for all of us. 
Through middle school and high school, my hair just kept getting more and more curly by the year and I had no idea how to handle it. When I say my hair was getting "curlier," what I mean is it was just getting frizzier and more terrifying. I didn't know anyone that had curly hair, so I had no one to instruct me in how to care for it, so it was a hot mess. When I let it go free, it was a giant frizz ball. When I tried to put product in it, my hair became nasty crunchy waves plastered to my head. There was no in between and I didn't know what to do.
Please excuse me at the awkward age of 15. Thanks. Also excuse the crunch curls
on my head. No pictures of the frizzy version of my hair, because I was self
conscious back then and never let pictures be taken of it.
The only solution I had for my struggling curls was to straighten my hair. And that's what I did everyday of my life. I scorched those natural curls as straight as they would go nearly everyday. Probably once every 3 to 4 weeks I would get brave (or lazy) and try out the curls again - but to no positive effect. So I lived my high school years with straight hair, denying the very essence of my hair personality.

My freshman year of college I finally realized that the crunchy curls were happening because the mousse was too heavy and I needed something lighter, and that enhanced my curls a ton. They still weren't the best, but much better and I started going curly more often. That year I was about half and half in curly versus straight hair.
Frizzy and awkward. But not crunchy!
Decent. But frizzy and not living up to its full potential.

























And then that blessed summer happened.

I was teaching swim lessons that summer, so my hair was getting wet everyday and I did not have the time or patience to straighten it every single day. So I declared it the summer of freedom, and I let the curls run wild and do their thing. Coincidentally, this was also declared the summer of headbands and I swear I wore a headband to keep those wild curls out of my face every day that entire summer.

I came out of that summer with so much love for my curls and how fun they are. I read a bunch of blogs giving me some really helpful tips and tricks for caring for my curls. Did you know towel drying makes curls more frizzy and it's better to just use a t-shirt? I swear by this now. Did you know it's better to diffuse your curls with your head upside down? And only diffuse 50-75% of the hair and then let the rest air dry? I can attest to the truthfulness of these things. So much trial and error that has been so helpful in my life!

Curly hair was WAY easier and faster than straight hair and after that summer, I vowed to wear my hair curly more often. As it turned out, I just stopped straightening my hair all together. I have MAYBE straightened my hair once a month for the last 4 years; it's probably closer to once every two months. I feel like the longer I go letting my hair just do its thing, the curlier my hair has become, and I love it.

These curls just define me and I feel like they very accurately represent my personality. and CURLY HAIR IS SO EASY.

I love my curls. Seriously so much. I feel like over the last few years I've grown into them and realized their full potential. I think it's so important for people to embrace their natural beauty. If you have curly hair, then free the curls. If you have straight hair, then you rock that baby, because I've wanted that for more years of my life than I care to admit. JUST BE YOU. Seriously, that's all you can ask for and that is THE best way to be happy in your life.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Winter?

I've been highly disappointed with this winter. Now don't get me wrong, I love 60° weather just as much as the next guy, but I also love me some good hardy winter weather. I love the snow and the way it has of covering the world and making it look brand new. I love walking outside all wrapped up cozy and having the chill nip at your nose a bit.

But you know what I love the most about winter? How excited it makes me for spring. I feel this way about every season. I love living in Utah because we have 4 very distinct seasons with very different tempertaures.
When it's spring, I get so excited for summer and the sun and swimming and freedom.
And once that gets old, I get so excited for fall, with it's crisp air and beautiful colors.
And then I can't wait for that first snow fall and sledding and cuddling inside with hot chocolate.
And then once winter becomes dreary, I get excited for spring and the warmth and new life.
And then it starts all over again.

But with this failure of a winter we've had here in Utah, I haven't even been excited for spring, because it's kind of felt like spring since the beginning of January!
However, it has not been all bad, the warmth has allowed for so many fun outdoor adventures! Utah is a beautiful and fun place, even when it's winter and everything is dead. So here's some pics of my hiking adventures with the brothers.




And then here's this moment when I found the one patch of snow left on President's Day. Happy Fake Winter, ya'll.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Color Code.

Have you heard of the color code personality test? More accurately the Hartman Personality Profile? It's a brilliant little 45 question test created by Dr. Taylor Hartman in his book "The Color Code" which divides personalities into 4 different colors: red, blue, white, and yellow. And I LOVE it.

The social scientist in me can't get enough of learning about different personality theories. I love reading different explanations about what motivates people and why they do the things they do. And I think that the color code is a pretty accurate explanation. My friends and family can attest to the fact that I can not stop talking about it and making everyone I know take the test. I just want to know what makes them tick!

So, let's chat about personalities!

Reds are motivated by power.
Blues are motivated by compassion and relationships.
Whites are motivated by peace.
Yellows are motivated by fun.

My results are: 1 red, 8 blue, 23 white, 13 yellow

So I am very strongly a White-Yellow personality. And after having read through the book, The Color Code, I AM ONE HUNDRED PERCENT CONVINCED THAT THIS IS ACCURATE. Seriously, the more I read the book, the more I found myself nodding my head and telling my mom or my roommates, "oh my heck! Listen to this! I do this!" It's always cool when you can put your personality into words.

I am such a White personality. I have had people get so frustrated with me because I couldn't make a decision. Truth is that I really am just always willing to do whatever everyone around me wants to do. I am perfectly content to just sit around and do nothing, or go out and party and be crazy, or anything in between. I just enjoy being around people and doing whatever it is that they enjoy. This has sometimes lead to some difficult moments in my life when I've realized that I don't know what I personally like to do. In high school and even a bit in college, I just kind of absorbed the personalities and interests of those that I spent my time with. I always had fun and enjoyed myself, but one of the biggest things I had to learn in my college years was who I really am and what I really like.
This is honestly one of my favorite and simultaneously least favorite things about myself. Because I have such a White personality, I can get along with pretty much anyone and have fun doing pretty much anything, which I think is awesome. But at the same time, I am constantly having to check myself and make sure I'm being true to who I really am and sometimes I even have to force myself to have an opinion about things or make a decision and thats really hard for me.

I love people. I love being around people and I kind of lose my mind and get antsy and depressed when I am by myself for too long. This makes so much sense in relation to BOTH the White and the Yellow parts of my personality. The Yellow portion of me craves having fun and being social. And this is really helpful to the White portion of me because on my own I can get kind of boring and can't ever think of anything to do and I need people around to motivate me to do things and be social. As soon as I am around people, even a small group of people, I immediately feed off their energy and become really fun and social, which is my favorite version of me.

Okay, I honestly, I could go on forever analyzing my own and other's personalities, but I will stop there. All I have to say is:
Seriously, take the test. Read the book. And let me know what your results are!

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