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journey in video

I admired him - for his talent, recovery and kindness. Photo: Feb. 2012. Thank you, Robin (& wife Susan)

Richard Jeni encouraged me to move to Los Angeles every time I performed with him in Chicago. I did, and he gifted me $100 when I was broke. In exchange, he asked that I pay it forward.


It's taken years to fully understand that I am everything that my stories have made me. I wanted to separate myself into parts that others may find most appropriate. I am queer. I love God. I cuss too much. I love big. I have turned to alcohol and drugs for refuge. I no longer use drugs or alcohol for relief. I am a teacher and a counselor and a performer, a mom, daughter, auntie, God Mother and wife. And I'm silly and I did graphic design for years. And I can be VERY serious at times.


Today I realize I am doing an injustice to myself and to the world if I stifle any part of who I am in this life. I've come to believe that striking a wobbly balance between sanity and service is my greatest goal. It is from that place that I can do the best job of serving my purpose. SIMPLE. Creating and learning - learning how to love all of me so that I can love all of you.

Ms. Jen AIR CHECK - 107.9 The Link

...and on the radio


I wanted to be famous. I just knew from my small little world that people in Hollywood were more sophisticated than the people in my life. I just knew that nobody screamed or hit or hurt in that magical place. I'd feel such spirit when I heard Michael or Whitney sing it would bring me to tears at times. I assumed that Hollywood was as beautiful a place as their voices were magical. I just knew that it felt deeply.

Since I held those beliefs, or delusions, a lot has happened. I've gone to college, been a graphic designer for many years. I've been in and out of relationships due to low self esteem and alcohol.  I came out of the closet, studied Improv at Second City and Improv Olympic in Chicago. I began doing stand-up in Chicago, where the likes of Richard Jeni told me to move to LA - that I would never become what I could be as a performer in Chicago. I had already applied to McCormick Seminary on the South Side of Chicago. I had dreams of doing street ministry or comedy for Saturday Night Live. I couldn't decide. Through ministry I wanted to love and care for those often forgotten on the periphery. There didn't appear to be a bright future in 1999 for lesbians getting ordained in the Presbyterian Ministry. I decided to move to LA after a long battle to win acceptance to the Seminary... I was in fact finally accepted but was already swept up in the momentum of leaving town. I went after comedy and had some success.


Then I dealt with my drinking becoming much more than social lubricant and I found myself dealing with much greater demons than appeared to be the case for my comedy peers.

I had to make a choice to stay sober if I were to live. Many folks passed me by and became very successful. I did comedy time and again for recovery events. One of my last I was honored to meet the late and great Robin Williams. He and his wife Susan were warm and kind. Robin was quite forthcoming about his struggles to stay well since his relapse after many years clean. I had no idea that we would lose him hardly two years after that.  

I've watched many larger-than-life persons leave us, allegedly in the throws of mental illness and/or addiction. Michael, Whitney, Prince, Robin, Richard Jeni and other angels have left remarkable bodies of work behind. As I write this blog I am prayerful about my life's next steps. I've always had a desire to connect deeply with other human beings in the world. Performance generated that connection for a while. Now I find it with other people in recovery from addiction and challenging lives.


I believe we need more focus on the soul, less focus on material things. Our values are goofed. Our hearts are broken and for all of the joy that exists, we are socialized to embrace tragedy with our attention. Those are my thoughts. I will not embrace tragedy. I've seen too many people and families recover.


I choose to embrace HOPE.

I'm a Hope Dealer. 

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