Wesley's Journal

Battle of the Dim Sum Restaurants on Alameda

Posted by Anne Wesley on

Despite how popular "Dim Sum Culture" is in the San Francisco East Bay, I'm always surprised how few dim sum restaurants there are in Chinatown Oakland. In fact, I believe there is only one real legitimate sit-down restaurant, Restaurant Peony. But, if you cross the Posey Street Tube into Alameda, then one has their choice of three of the best dim sum restaurants in the San Francisco East Bay.

While there are actually five dim sum restaurants, that I know of, on the Island of Alameda, I'm going to focus on the "Big Three." East Ocean Seafood Restaurant, Chef's Wok, and Pacific Lighthouse. For the most part, there is no clear cut winner, though Anne and I do frequent one more than the other, but I believe the "right choice" has a lot to do with circumstance.

Quick note, Dim Sum is primarily served during lunch hours. Some restaurants may have some dim sum items you can order off the menu at dinner, but the largest selection of items is during lunch.

East Ocean Seafood Restaurant

Char Siu Bao at East Ocean Seafood Restaurant Alameda, CA

Chicken Feet at East Ocean Seafood Restaurant in Alameda, CA

East Ocean Seafood Restaurant is easily the most recognizable of the three with a 4-star rating after 1,415 reviews. When we first moved to the island in 2014, we were amazed at the crowd waiting in front and were "forced" to head down the street to one of the smaller dim sum restaurants, which wasn't that great. When we finally tried it for the first time, we could tell why. The dim sum was absolutely delicious.

Before moving to Alameda, the only places we regularly had dim sum was around the Contra Costa County area. To be honest, for years, it started to feel like all dim sum restaurants were all the same. It was good and satisfying, but never truly outstanding. Fortunately, I was able to go to the original Tim Ho Wan during that golden period when they first got their Michelin Star, as well as other great dim sum restaurants in Hong Kong, and learn that dim sum can be outstanding. East Ocean Seafood Restaurant reminded me of that. It felt a little on the expensive side, but at the time it felt well worth it.

Over the next four years, this was our "go-to" dim sum spot. After all, we didn't feel like we needed to try anywhere else because it seemed perfect and the other main competing restaurant at the time, Chef's Wok, had pretty terrible reviews on Yelp. But, the mystique of the "perfect dim sum restaurant" started to slowly crumble around 2018 and 2019.

It seemed like every time I went, I knew I was going to get a stomach ache afterwards. For a while, the food was still good that I learned to accept my fate of an oily sour stomach. In the end, it wasn't worth it, the quality of the dim sum just wasn't holding up anymore.

At the time I didn't know it, but the long-time owners were in the process of selling the restaurant.  Not surprisingly, this really was the same time period when I feel the quality of the dim sum declined. So far, I haven't been back, but I haven't given up completely. The last time I was there, the new owner had been there for maybe a little over a month. I left a review on Yelp, which he responded, and so I believe there is a possibility that there will be improvements, especially after the new owner has settled into the role.

Despite what I just wrote, East Ocean Seafood Restaurant is regularly the place that I recommend to non-Chinese speaking customers. Compared to Chef's Wok and Pacific Lighthouse, I believe their staff, especially with the original owners, were the best managed and most adept at serving non-Chinese clients. So, for those who want better service and willing to pay for it, East Ocean Seafood Restaurant should be your choice.

Pacific Lighthouse

Pacific Lighthouse Alameda California Dim Sum Lava BunPacific Lighthouse Alameda California Dim Sum Lava Bun

Pacific Lighthouse is the newest dim sum restaurant in town and it chose one of the nicest spots in Alameda for its location. It overlooks the Oakland Estuary, which of course isn't as nice as the open San Francisco Bay, but is a good runner-up. My mom was actually a notary for the owner and so she knows how long it took for them to build out and remodel the space before they finally opened.

I hesitated coming to Pacific Lighthouse for a long-time because of the initial Yelp reviews. Unfortunately, their overall reviews have only gotten worse, now at a dismal 2.5 stars with 312 reviews. But, after finding that East Ocean Seafood Restaurant wasn't meeting my expectation, I was open to trying it, especially since my mom had already given it her thumbs up.

I was really pleasantly surprised. The dim sum item that really got my attention was the lava bun. It oozed to perfect, wasn't too sweet, and in a perfectly steamed bun. Maybe it's the natural lighting coming from the floor to ceiling windows overlooking the estuary, but all the dim sum dishes look beautiful when you're in the "main" seating section. Sometimes, it's really hard to believe that we can come to this restaurant just about every week if we wanted because it's definitely the type of dim sum restaurant that San Francisco Bay Area residents would choose for a special occasion like Mother's Day "brunch."

But that's the caveat, I've actually been to Pacific Lighthouse on a holiday weekend and the dinning experience, including food quality, goes downhill when they're at maximum capacity. I believe that a lot of the complaints on Yelp are when Pacific Lighthouse are at maximum capacity on a busy weekend or hosting a banquet. While my mom has gone on the weekends and said it's fine, I actually don't take the chance and usually go on a weekday, but there's also an added benefit to that.

For a long time, Pacific Lighthouse basically had a secret weekday dim sum lunch special. For $50, excluding tax and tip, you basically could get a feast, which includes lobster noodles, 2 small dim sum, 2 medium dim sum, 1 large dim sum, 1 kitchen item, and a roasted pork dish. It's by far the best deal on Alameda if you're looking to spend that amount.

After I posted this special on Yelp, Pacific Lighthouse actually printed it in english, so it's no longer a secret menu item.

For me, Pacific Lighthouse is a notch above East Ocean, but only if it's not terribly busy and not hosting a banquet. Otherwise, East Ocean might actually be the more consistent.

Chef's Wok

Chef's Wok Alameda California Dim Sum BBQ Pork BunsChef's Wok Alameda California Dim Sum Deep Fried Shrimp Roll

Chef's Wok, the silent underdog. East Ocean and Pacific Lighthouse will always get the press, but Chef's Wok is where the local Chinese community go to eat most of the time and for good reason. Similar to Pacific Lighthouse, Chef's Wok has a fairly bad 3 star Yelp rating after 370 reviews. Of course, don't tell the massive crowd of Chinese people that.

The biggest different between Chef's Wok and the other two restaurants is the size of the dim sum pieces. For example, the chive dumplings are huge. A lot of times, that's actually a bad trait because most take-out dim sum shops, such as the hot food section at  Ranch 99, are gigantic but essentially all tapioca dough and absolutely terrible. That's not the case at Chef's Wok. Their Chive Dumplings are stuffed to the max with shrimp, chives, and flavor.

Chef's Wok is extremely consistent on food quality because no matter if it's a Monday or a Sunday, this place is weirdly always crowded for Dim Sum and they're just pros at this point. Just like East Ocean, Chef's Wok has apparently also changed owners, but unlike East Ocean, everything is just as good as it was before.

The downfall of Chef's Wok comes to dealing with non-Chinese speaking customers. Most of the dim sum waitresses do not speak English and so it's pretty difficult for non-Chinese speakers to navigate service sometimes. On the other hand, I once say a single white male getting the white glove treatment compared to all the Chinese guests. It's a bit of reverse racism to be honest, but like I said Chef's Wok has a hard time understanding how it should treat non-Chinese speakings guests. If they want to give preferential treatment to someone, then look at the people with the camera (aka me). LOL.

A non-dim sum tip, the take out roasted duck, chicken and roasted pork is actually cheaper at Chef's Wok than even Oakland Chinatown. My mom always use to think she had to cross the Webster Street tunnel to pick-up a braised chicken, but now she can skip the tunnel.

Ultimately, these days when my mom says, "let's go eat dim sum," I assume she is referring to Chef's Wok or Pacific Lighthouse. When we know we want to spend $50+, we're off the enjoy Pacific Lighthouse's weekday dim sum special. If we're looking to only spend around $35-45, then we're at Chef's Wok.

I'll definitely give East Ocean another shot and I am hoping for the best, but right now the "big dog" is officially at the bottom of the list for me.

 

Anne Wesley makes handmade leather gifts right from our workshop in Alameda, California. Everything is made-to-order, just for you.

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Battle of the Dim Sum Restaurants on Alameda

Posted by Anne Wesley on

Despite how popular "Dim Sum Culture" is in the San Francisco East Bay, I'm always surprised how few dim sum restaurants there are in Chinatown Oakland. In fact, I believe there is only one real legitimate sit-down restaurant, Restaurant Peony. But, if you cross the Posey Street Tube into Alameda, then one has their choice of three of the best dim sum restaurants in the San Francisco East Bay.

While there are actually five dim sum restaurants, that I know of, on the Island of Alameda, I'm going to focus on the "Big Three." East Ocean Seafood Restaurant, Chef's Wok, and Pacific Lighthouse. For the most part, there is no clear cut winner, though Anne and I do frequent one more than the other, but I believe the "right choice" has a lot to do with circumstance.

Quick note, Dim Sum is primarily served during lunch hours. Some restaurants may have some dim sum items you can order off the menu at dinner, but the largest selection of items is during lunch.

East Ocean Seafood Restaurant

Char Siu Bao at East Ocean Seafood Restaurant Alameda, CA

Chicken Feet at East Ocean Seafood Restaurant in Alameda, CA

East Ocean Seafood Restaurant is easily the most recognizable of the three with a 4-star rating after 1,415 reviews. When we first moved to the island in 2014, we were amazed at the crowd waiting in front and were "forced" to head down the street to one of the smaller dim sum restaurants, which wasn't that great. When we finally tried it for the first time, we could tell why. The dim sum was absolutely delicious.

Before moving to Alameda, the only places we regularly had dim sum was around the Contra Costa County area. To be honest, for years, it started to feel like all dim sum restaurants were all the same. It was good and satisfying, but never truly outstanding. Fortunately, I was able to go to the original Tim Ho Wan during that golden period when they first got their Michelin Star, as well as other great dim sum restaurants in Hong Kong, and learn that dim sum can be outstanding. East Ocean Seafood Restaurant reminded me of that. It felt a little on the expensive side, but at the time it felt well worth it.

Over the next four years, this was our "go-to" dim sum spot. After all, we didn't feel like we needed to try anywhere else because it seemed perfect and the other main competing restaurant at the time, Chef's Wok, had pretty terrible reviews on Yelp. But, the mystique of the "perfect dim sum restaurant" started to slowly crumble around 2018 and 2019.

It seemed like every time I went, I knew I was going to get a stomach ache afterwards. For a while, the food was still good that I learned to accept my fate of an oily sour stomach. In the end, it wasn't worth it, the quality of the dim sum just wasn't holding up anymore.

At the time I didn't know it, but the long-time owners were in the process of selling the restaurant.  Not surprisingly, this really was the same time period when I feel the quality of the dim sum declined. So far, I haven't been back, but I haven't given up completely. The last time I was there, the new owner had been there for maybe a little over a month. I left a review on Yelp, which he responded, and so I believe there is a possibility that there will be improvements, especially after the new owner has settled into the role.

Despite what I just wrote, East Ocean Seafood Restaurant is regularly the place that I recommend to non-Chinese speaking customers. Compared to Chef's Wok and Pacific Lighthouse, I believe their staff, especially with the original owners, were the best managed and most adept at serving non-Chinese clients. So, for those who want better service and willing to pay for it, East Ocean Seafood Restaurant should be your choice.

Pacific Lighthouse

Pacific Lighthouse Alameda California Dim Sum Lava BunPacific Lighthouse Alameda California Dim Sum Lava Bun

Pacific Lighthouse is the newest dim sum restaurant in town and it chose one of the nicest spots in Alameda for its location. It overlooks the Oakland Estuary, which of course isn't as nice as the open San Francisco Bay, but is a good runner-up. My mom was actually a notary for the owner and so she knows how long it took for them to build out and remodel the space before they finally opened.

I hesitated coming to Pacific Lighthouse for a long-time because of the initial Yelp reviews. Unfortunately, their overall reviews have only gotten worse, now at a dismal 2.5 stars with 312 reviews. But, after finding that East Ocean Seafood Restaurant wasn't meeting my expectation, I was open to trying it, especially since my mom had already given it her thumbs up.

I was really pleasantly surprised. The dim sum item that really got my attention was the lava bun. It oozed to perfect, wasn't too sweet, and in a perfectly steamed bun. Maybe it's the natural lighting coming from the floor to ceiling windows overlooking the estuary, but all the dim sum dishes look beautiful when you're in the "main" seating section. Sometimes, it's really hard to believe that we can come to this restaurant just about every week if we wanted because it's definitely the type of dim sum restaurant that San Francisco Bay Area residents would choose for a special occasion like Mother's Day "brunch."

But that's the caveat, I've actually been to Pacific Lighthouse on a holiday weekend and the dinning experience, including food quality, goes downhill when they're at maximum capacity. I believe that a lot of the complaints on Yelp are when Pacific Lighthouse are at maximum capacity on a busy weekend or hosting a banquet. While my mom has gone on the weekends and said it's fine, I actually don't take the chance and usually go on a weekday, but there's also an added benefit to that.

For a long time, Pacific Lighthouse basically had a secret weekday dim sum lunch special. For $50, excluding tax and tip, you basically could get a feast, which includes lobster noodles, 2 small dim sum, 2 medium dim sum, 1 large dim sum, 1 kitchen item, and a roasted pork dish. It's by far the best deal on Alameda if you're looking to spend that amount.

After I posted this special on Yelp, Pacific Lighthouse actually printed it in english, so it's no longer a secret menu item.

For me, Pacific Lighthouse is a notch above East Ocean, but only if it's not terribly busy and not hosting a banquet. Otherwise, East Ocean might actually be the more consistent.

Chef's Wok

Chef's Wok Alameda California Dim Sum BBQ Pork BunsChef's Wok Alameda California Dim Sum Deep Fried Shrimp Roll

Chef's Wok, the silent underdog. East Ocean and Pacific Lighthouse will always get the press, but Chef's Wok is where the local Chinese community go to eat most of the time and for good reason. Similar to Pacific Lighthouse, Chef's Wok has a fairly bad 3 star Yelp rating after 370 reviews. Of course, don't tell the massive crowd of Chinese people that.

The biggest different between Chef's Wok and the other two restaurants is the size of the dim sum pieces. For example, the chive dumplings are huge. A lot of times, that's actually a bad trait because most take-out dim sum shops, such as the hot food section at  Ranch 99, are gigantic but essentially all tapioca dough and absolutely terrible. That's not the case at Chef's Wok. Their Chive Dumplings are stuffed to the max with shrimp, chives, and flavor.

Chef's Wok is extremely consistent on food quality because no matter if it's a Monday or a Sunday, this place is weirdly always crowded for Dim Sum and they're just pros at this point. Just like East Ocean, Chef's Wok has apparently also changed owners, but unlike East Ocean, everything is just as good as it was before.

The downfall of Chef's Wok comes to dealing with non-Chinese speaking customers. Most of the dim sum waitresses do not speak English and so it's pretty difficult for non-Chinese speakers to navigate service sometimes. On the other hand, I once say a single white male getting the white glove treatment compared to all the Chinese guests. It's a bit of reverse racism to be honest, but like I said Chef's Wok has a hard time understanding how it should treat non-Chinese speakings guests. If they want to give preferential treatment to someone, then look at the people with the camera (aka me). LOL.

A non-dim sum tip, the take out roasted duck, chicken and roasted pork is actually cheaper at Chef's Wok than even Oakland Chinatown. My mom always use to think she had to cross the Webster Street tunnel to pick-up a braised chicken, but now she can skip the tunnel.

Ultimately, these days when my mom says, "let's go eat dim sum," I assume she is referring to Chef's Wok or Pacific Lighthouse. When we know we want to spend $50+, we're off the enjoy Pacific Lighthouse's weekday dim sum special. If we're looking to only spend around $35-45, then we're at Chef's Wok.

I'll definitely give East Ocean another shot and I am hoping for the best, but right now the "big dog" is officially at the bottom of the list for me.

 

Anne Wesley makes handmade leather gifts right from our workshop in Alameda, California. Everything is made-to-order, just for you.

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How I'm Living a Fairly Boring Life After Being Diagnosed With Bipolar Disorder

Posted by Craig Wesley on

Recently, I had a Facebook acquaintance post about the problems her brother was having with a psychotic breakdown. For the first time, in a very long-time, I opened up to her about my pretty terrible experience during a period when I was diagnosed Bipolar I and what helped me survive that experience.

As one can guess, it’s not something I like to talk about these days because, fortunately, I’m not in the same mental or emotional state that I was when I was in my late teens and my twenties. Now, approaching forty years old, I can say that I’m pretty much an average boring guy.

For the most part, except for a pretty bad “hiccup” around 2017, I haven’t had any manic or major depressive experiences since around 2007. Don’t get me wrong, I still have anxiety and for a period of time was practically a shut-in, but relatively speaking those problems never could compare to when I was having full-on manic depressive episodes.

To be honest, I even started lying to myself by telling myself and other people that I don’t think I was ever Bipolar and maybe it was something I did to get attention, but honestly that’s far from the truth. I feel so different from being the person I was in my 20s that sometimes it’s hard to reconcile the two and I that’s the reason why I started thinking that.

Ultimately, that’s the point of this blog post. I’ve come pretty far from the person who was diagnosed Bipolar I to the fairly boring guy you’ll meet today. I’m not a psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, doctor, etc, but it’s nice to think that if I can make my way out of that “place,” then whoever may be reading this can do it as well and that I can help in someway do that.

I don’t want to write too much about my crazy Bipolar stories because, if you ever talked to another Bipolar person, then it starts to feel like a competition on who can tell the craziest story. It starts to feel like that scene in one of the Lethal Weapon movies where Mel Gibson and Rene Russo talk about their scars and who’s the toughest. At the same time, I know I have to establish some type of “street cred” with you, the reader, to know that I wasn’t a tourist. So, I’ll give you one story.

Shortly after I was diagnosed, I decided to go to a support group. It was a support group in a very suburban city about 45 minutes to 1 hour outside of San Francisco. If I remember correctly, then it was at some kind of community center, maybe even a church. The set-up is very much like one would see in a movie. There’s an organizer/moderator and attendees are essentially sitting in a circle because it’s not a very big group, at most 8 to 10 people.

I saw down and I thought to myself, “What the fuck is going on?” Not because I thought the people there were weird, strange, or crazy, but because I thought I had seen most of the people in that room before. I started to think that I was being set-up or something. My blood pressure, paranoia, whatever you want to call it skyrocketed. I never went back to that group.

The funny part is that one of the ways they started that meeting is by having the moderator ask something like, “on a scale of 1 to 10, what’s your level of depression or mania at the moment,” or something of that nature. My answer was pretty high and it was because of the meeting.

Anyway, that was one of many interesting aspects of my mania. I started seeing people that I thought I had seen before and I was constantly experiencing deja vu. I thought I was experiencing situations not just once before, but 3, 4, 5 times before. Honestly, the experiences were so vivid that I couldn’t help but think that I could see the future and that the government was spying on me. I mean, if someone could see the future, then it would make some logical sense that the government would do so, right? LOL.

As most people with Bipolar or Schizophrenia can attest to, that’s just one of many many stories. OK, so now that I’ve established my crazy card, let’s talk about how I actually got better. Warning, I’m notorious for getting sidetracked and not staying 100% on topic.

The one things that mania really helped me with was study for the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test), which is the test one would take to get into an MBA or other business related Masters program. (Not) To too my own horn, I scored in the 94 or 96% percentile, which basically means on that day, I scored better than 94 or 96% of all test takers. Full disclosure, my test score was actually cancelled because I was a member of an online test taking forum where people discussed real test questions and answers. Their smoking gun, I wrote a forum post talking about how much I studied for six months and that it wasn’t important to remember answers because it’s not practical, but more important to know how to solve the math problems. Basically, I told people that I studied like a crazy person to score in the 96 percentile and I learned how to do maths better because of that, LOL. Anyway, that’s why they only cancelled my score and didn’t ban me.

So, despite having full blown manic and depressive episodes. I got into what’s considered probably the number one Masters in Finance program in the world at London Business School. By the way, I literally went into tears during my interview for London Business School talking about how difficult of a time I was having with manic/depressive episodes and still got in. Meanwhile, I gave a perfect interview for Wharton School of Business and got rejected. So to all those youngsters wanting to get into a top business program, make sure to cry during your interview, at least you’ll be memorable.

Months later, in the fall of 2007, I found myself in London, living with two other London Business School students…while still having full blown manic/depressive episodes. I’m sure it was quite an experience for my flatmates. The really sad part is that one of my flatmates, about two to three years later in 2010, committed a very public suicide during a business trip to Scotland. I still feel a sense of guilt about that because, while I only talked about my manic side, my depressive side was just as bad, if not worse. To quote a few lines from the movie Inception, “An idea is like a virus. Resilient. Highly contagious. And even the smallest seed of an idea can grow. It can grow to define or destroy you.” Almost 10 years later, I wonder if I infected her and for some reason I managed to survive the virus and she didn’t. Anyway, maybe I can “infect” you with the idea that you can get better and live a pretty normal boring life.

Sorry, about the part where I get better. I know a lot of people are going to hate me for this next part, but to not mention it as part of my “recovery” would be an outright lie. I met the person who I would eventually marry seven years later. While she probably saved my life, I don’t believe finding your future spouse is required to getting better.

I Surrounded Myself with Emotionally and Mentally Stable People

What I do think is required is surrounding or being around people who are, for a lack of a better word, not crazy. Before heading to London, I was very casually dating a person who was suffering from major depression. Guess what, that didn’t help me and it certainly didn’t help her. Before leaving the USA, I also ended up going to two more Bipolar support group meetings at a different location and, in my very specific case, it didn’t help me at all. There was no useless information to help me get better, just miserable people being with other miserable people. I ended up going to a concert with someone from the group and guess what, we just talked about crazy shit when we hanged out. It certainly didn’t make me feel like a normal person. Anyway, maybe it’s different now or it depends on who runs the meeting, but that was my experience.

My wife, on the other hand, is really one of the most emotionally and mentally stable people I know. Other than with insects, she’s not overly dramatic about most things. She can overthink things where it takes forever for her to make a decisions, but her brain is essentially not hardwired like those of Bipolar people.

Of course, you still need to be around understanding people. I had one person who essentially gave me the, “snap out of it” talk. Yeah, doesn’t work, will never work. While that person was relatively more emotionally and mentally stable, by a very slim margin mind you, it was not helpful.

You also need to be around positive people. My wife is one of the more optimistic people I know. I remember when we first met, I would tell her a crazy business idea, almost as a joke, and she would be pretty much be on board. Meanwhile, someone like my mom, is prewired to tell you all the reasons why you shouldn’t do something.

Yeah, you’re not alone. There are lot of those people in the world, especially people close to us, who can’t help but tell you what you can and cannot do. It’s important to find someone in your life who believes in the seemingly the impossible. Well, not a crazy person, but an optimistic person who is probably a little crazy for being optimistic in such a crazy world.

Good Nutrition is The Best Medicine

Back to London, other than meeting my future wife, the biggest change in my life was my diet. The year prior to moving to London, I had been on the Atkin’s low-carb diet. Of course, I didn’t follow it as it probably should and I literally just ate meat all the time without any vegetables or fruit. I lost something like 30 lbs. and was pretty fit, but I was getting crazier and crazier. I believe there was a fairly small study that showed that people on low-carb diets tends to have more mental health issues and it was certainly true in my case. Coincidence or not, I experienced my first full manic depressive episodes during college when I also lost a lot of weight in a fairly short amount of time.

In December of 2007, my wife and I, along with her friends, took a trip to Glasgow, Scotland, which is pretty darn magical during Christmastime. I had a classmate, who previously followed a traditional diet who turned vegetarian, asked me during class one day, “would I eat my dog?” From that simple question, I decided to not eat meat for one week starting with that trip to Scotland.

Eventually, I settled into my current diet, which still indulges in seafood, occasional broths, and dairy, but with way more vegetables and fruits. Also, I only eat for 8 hours, between Noon to 8pm, and I try, emphasize on “try,” to limit processed foods. I think my dietary change alone pretty much help me get to where I am today.

I believe after that week in Scotland, I stopped all my medications. By the way, none of them worked for me because it was either I couldn’t sleep at all, which makes everything manic or depressive episode much worse, or I needed to sleep all the time. When my wife and I were studying for exams, I remember just sleeping right on the floor of the study rooms at London Business School.

I almost don’t want to write this to manage your expectations, but I almost “normalized” within weeks. I had some feeling of melancholia, but I didn’t experience any mania or major depressive or suicidal thoughts. Of course, this was a pretty special period in my life so it’s a combined effect of everything that helped me get to a much improved mental and emotional space.

There was a book about the “Bipolar Diet,” which I bought but never really followed, but obviously I probably should have. If there’s at least one thing you should try, then it would be changing your diet.

For me, I found just stop eating meat was the key because my diet was still pretty bad after Scotland. By bad, I mean that I was still eating a lot of processed foods. I loved salty snacks, have been addicted sugary drinks at different parts of my life, loved frozen pizza, and ate plenty of non-meat based fast food and convenience meals. Even after putting all that terrible food in my body, it didn’t matter because when I stopped eating meat everything changed. Like I mentioned, I still indulge in seafood and broths, such as in Vietnamese Pho or Japanese Ramen, so I’m not on some kind of crusade against the meat industry, but rather just telling you what changed my mental and emotional well being.

Still, you probably need to cut the processed foods. I was a processed food junkie for a long long time. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve literally been snacking on a bag of fresh tortilla chips and salsa that I bought from the taqueria from up the street while writing this blog. While processed foods didn’t seem to make a huge impact at the beginning of my road to “normal,” cutting it out just took me to the next level of mental health because I felt better about myself and my body.

After, Scotland, I actually slowly gained 50 lbs because instead of meat, I was eating so much processed foods. So don’t fall into that trap. Fortunately, by cutting most processed foods and with intermittent fasting, where I eat between noon to 8pm, without feeling hungry and without much effort, I shed 40 lbs where I’m just about 10 lbs overweight.

Without meat and processed foods, what are you left with? Yep, organic whole foods such as vegetables and fruit. Notice how I didn’t write fruit and vegetables. You really need to learn how to love dark green vegetables and not super sweet pineapple. And the fruits you should be focusing on are anti-inflammatories such as blueberries.

If you don’t know what a whole food is, then just think about how the item should look coming from the earth and how it looks now. When corn is being picked by farmers, does it looks like a Dorito? Actually, even whole corn is said to be pretty bad for your health because of all the pesticides, but relatively speaking eating corn on the cob without processed toppings is healthier than eating a corn tortilla chip.

I Exercise Every Day For At Least 30 Minutes

I hope you’re seeing a trend here, but basically I try to lead a relatively healthy lifestyle. This includes some exercise. I wake up and within an hour I’m either on my indoor climber or treadmill, putting in my minimum 30 minutes of cardio. This is always my baseline, so even if I’m feeling tired and planning on sitting or laying down most of the day or if my wife and I go on a three mile hike in the afternoon, I’ll make this is the minimum amount of exercise I get.

I run away from many haunting existential questions during this time. Every time I have some unnerving question about the world or something terrible from the past, I just exercise a bit harder. Then other times, I’ll just be bored waiting out the clock. I think many people can attest that working out is a type of therapy and I believe there are plenty of studies regarding exercise and the neurological benefits that you can find elsewhere online.

I Work With My Circadian Rhythm, Not Against It

Ever since I was a small child, I’ve been a night owl, going to sleep no earlier than two or three o’clock in the morning, but more often around four or five o’clock in the morning for most of my adulthood. I’ve also experienced times in my life where I would normally go to sleep at 3am, then 4am the next night, and so on and so forth until I actually temporarily had a normal sleeping schedule for a few nights. At that time, I was diagnosed with a running sleep phase disorder, which I actually experienced after I stopped having manic-depressive episodes.

It turns out that many people with mental health issues are night owls or have major sleep disruption issues. At my worst, I felt like I wasn’t able to sleep at all, which had a lot to do with my medication.

Truth be told, it’s only until very recently have I changed my sleeping habit and what motivated me to do so was learning about the human bodies Circadian Rhythm or Body Clock. It’s a relatively new science in the Western world, but valid enough that three researchers won the Nobel Prize for their work in the field.

Science has always been my worst subject, but my understanding is that humans, as well as plants and fungi, are genetically coded at the cellular level to follow a biological “body” clock. More plainly, we’re genetically coded to sleep and recover at certain times, our brains tend to peak at specific times, we perform physically better at certain times, we’re able to digest and process foods more efficiently during certain hours, etc. When people go against their circadian rhythm, especially with sleep and food, there is a very good case that it contributes to disease and illness. Hence, by working with my circadian rhythm, I believe that I’m physically, mentally, and emotionally more able to deal with life’s challenges.

Seriously, google “Mark Walberg’s schedule” to get an idea of what a healthy schedule looks like. The only fault, at least what I’ve read about an optimal Circadian rhythm, is that he might actually being going to bed and waking up too early. According to Satchin Panda, a lead researcher in the field, bedtime should be something like 10pm with about eight or nine hours of sleep, which would put getting up at around sunrise. For me, the best I can do is bed around midnight and wake-up pretty consistently at 8:30-9am.

In terms of diet, humans apparently are not meant to eat whenever they feel like it. The body actually needs you to stop eating and enter a type of fasting period. Fortunately, not necessarily a fasting period many people have heard of where one stops eating for 24 to 72 hours, but rather a fasting period where one stops eating for 12 to 16 hours. Conversely, one should only be eating between 12 to 8 hours a day.

Not only that, but in order for the human body to get better rest and recovery, one shouldn’t eat at least 3 hours before bedtime and it’s better to eat your biggest meal earlier in the day to where you actually don’t necessarily need to eat much by dinner time.

For me, I eat between noon and 8pm. Even when I first started, I can honestly say that I was rarely ever hungry. Sometimes, I get late night cravings because I’m watching some type of food show on Netflix, but even then it was just a craving and not real hunger. To be fair though, I’m the type of person who can easily skip breakfast, especially since I like to get in my 30 minute work-out, like to get my online French lessons out of the way, and of course actually have to do some type of money making activity. Often times, I actually will not get my first meal until 2 or 3pm and still be done eating by 8pm. Some people will read that and probably think that’s unhealthy, but I’m pretty sure it’s healthier than literally eating 16 hours a day.
But for your information, even if you’re eating 8 to 12 hours a day, it’s actually best to eat on a set schedule every day and to actually avoiding snacking in between meals, at least according to circadian research. Like I said I’m not a scientist, I’m just relaying information I’ve read and tried.

With only eating for eight hours a day and pretty minimal exercise, I lost 20 lbs in six months without trying. I really have to emphasize the part about not trying. My plan was actually only to follow my circadian rhythm and it just turned out I lost weight. Like I mentioned earlier in my post, I really know how to lose weight and fast. I’ve lost weight so fast through diet and extreme exercise where I got kidney stones and the doctors wanted to remove my gall bladder, which is something that occurs with people who do weight loss surgery.

So now, I’m sitting just about 8 to 10 lbs over my ideal Body Mass Index weight, but I’m not sweating it. I really don’t eat that much, so I’m pretty sure it’s not practical for me to eat even less food, and I don’t really want to spend more time exercising. To get to 155 lbs would probably require something extreme and I’m not looking for that. The younger version of me wouldn’t accept that as an answer, but the 39 year old version of me can, which leads my to my next point.

I Just Snapped Out of It

Hahaha, I’m just kidding. That shit doesn’t work. What’s happening to you, what happened to me, is essentially a chemical imbalance. Hence why diet, exercise, sleep, etc is so important to “recovery” Those are all variable that are proven to change your brain chemistry.

The reason I believe this is purely anecdotal and kind of unbelievable. While I’ve had depression and melancholia for a lot my life, especially as a child and teenager, I’ve only had to periods in my life with major manic-depressive episodes. The first episodes were around 2000 to 2002, I had a couple of years break, and then it hit even harder in 2005-2007.

But at the very end of 2001 (I just round to 2002 to make it simpler), I was “cured” of two years of major episodes after one night. I mean this is going to sound pretty unbelievable. One night, I had a really high fever. I’m talking the type of fever where I just stacked several blankets on top of me, but because it’s fever I was still cold, shivering, and sweating. When the fever “broke” the next morning, I was pretty much better and it was a really weird feeling. It’s almost as though all my feeling went away. For a day or two, it almost felt like I had no emotions any more. Melancholia pretty much kicked in with some mild depression, but nothing compared to the manic depressive episodes I had before.

Seriously, I probably would have graduated with honors from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley if I had still been manic during my last semester. Up until that semester, I was on the honor roll every semester, with basically a 4.0 GPA. In junior college, that was easy, at UC Berkeley, it’s not that easy. Instead, I enjoyed my new found mental freedom and literally started hitting the clubs. I really wanted to promote parties and DJ, which I actually ended up doing as one of my first jobs after I graduated.

As usual, I digress. The point being is that fever changed something in my brain. Seriously, it’s hard to think of another conclusion other than that. I know there’s some skeptic out there who’s going, “oh, he could have hit his head during the night or gotten bitten by a radioactive spider, but without scientific proof,” blah, blah, blah. Yes, I took a critical thinking course as well when I was in college. But seriously, more logically, it was probably the fever.

But, there is something to be said about your frame of mind and changing your perspective to help not fall back into major episodes, especially once you’ve figured out how to “normalize.” If you’re like me, then it was always some major stressor that put me into the thick of it. But fortunately, as I’ve gotten older, my mind has matured enough to basically not fall into that trap anymore. Here’s a couple thoughts that have helped me stay relatively stable.

First, I realized that I don’t need to be special or at least not that special. Some people will read this and think that this is just “loser talk,” but thinking this way helps me feel more content with my life as it is. It’s true, maybe I’m too content and not pushed enough to do something noteworthy, but I’m also pretty damn happy.

When I got into transferred in the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, the acceptance rate was something like 9%, which is basically nearly Ivy League hard. I had got accepted into every single program I applied to and my only regret is not applying to actual Ivy League universities. When I graduated, I set out to become a nightclub DJ. Low and behold, I was probably the youngest resident DJ at 1015 Folsom, which was pretty much “the club” during the 90s rave scene in San Francisco. Between the ages of 25 - 27 years old, I was an independent investment advisor and quite literally worked less than 20 hours those two years and received a six figure income. Then, as I mentioned before, I scored in the 96% in the GMAT, which essentially quantifies that I’m not stupid, and got into what is still considered the world’s number one Masters in Finance program.

The wild part is that I’m actually not good at finance. I scored in the 83 percentile in maths on my GMAT, but I scored a 96 percentile in logic, verbal, and writing, which is some crazy way adds up to being in the 96 percentile for the entire test. So, even though I came in a with one of the weakest quantitative scores in the program, I still graduated with a 3.0 GPA, the same as over 50% of my classmates in a subject that I wasn’t particular very good at. What I’m saying is that I have a Masters in Finance in a subject that I’m not good at. Imagine my abilities in subjects that actually cater to my strengths and not my weaknesses.

After that graduation, I convinced two private investors, one a senior manager at Salesforce and one a CEO of a $500 million revenue public company in Thailand, to invest in an online retail idea I had. In total, the sum would have been close to $500k. I didn’t have developers or a team. They were pretty much just investing in me and eventually my wife. I turned down the money both times.

Then, I ended up becoming a social media marketer for that same company in Thailand. I grew a facebook page with real authentic followers from 0 to 1 million followers in less than a year at only about $0.03 to $0.05 a followers. I emphasize that these were “real” followers in Thailand and not dummy accounts. I once had someone tell my that my facebook marketing was so successful that I was probably in the top .01 percent of marketers. The page was for a chain of Japanese restaurants the company was newly launching in Bangkok, Thailand. I kept on asking my wife, who was working with the restaurant group before we got married and she moved to the USA, if on the big opening day they could handle the crowd because I knew I was doing really well with the ads.

They couldn’t. It was so crowded and they were so inexperienced that they couldn’t handle it and it all fell apart eventually with just about all restaurants closing, but that wasn’t my job. Even though I hadn’t had any restaurant experience, while they were conceptualizing and implementing the vision, I was studying and observing and giving my input and telling my wife what I think is wrong. Every one of those reasons I mentioned contributed largely to the failure of those restaurants.

As you can see, I had very high expectations of myself for most of my 20s and early 30s, but I was also out of my mind for most of that period. My mania could help me excel, but it was too steep of a price to pay. For most of my late 20s and early 30s, I linked my happiness to financial success and achievement because that’s what many of us are taught in industrialized societies, especially if you go to business school where all you do is compare success in terms of public recognition. Notice how I didn’t say financial success. Business school doesn’t necessarily want every student to be the next tech billionaire or millionaire, but what they do want are students who’ll be publicly recognized for whatever they end up doing. There’s no such thing as a successful, silent, and unrecognized hero in the business world. If you’re not recognized and not putting yourself out there, then you’re not a hero and certainly not successful in that world.

Once I figured out that I could still be happy and not successful, rich, famous, etc, etc, my life drastically improved because I decreased a lot of stressors in my life. Now, I pretty much live a pretty uneventful life with really not very much money, no real recognization, and fairly unsuccessful professionally to be honest. But, I feel extremely lucky. Not lottery lucky, but pretty damn lucky.

A lot of that, for me, has to do with the idea that I don’t have to be special. That, quite honestly, most people in this world are pretty average and there’s nothing wrong with being one of those people. It’s pretty hard to logically deny that basically all celebrities want to be just that, rich, famous, and be considered special. But it’s also pretty hard to deny that a lot of them probably have real mental issues. How do I know? To take another quote from a Christopher Nolan movie, “Right when I saw you, I knew who you really were.” Bipolar people can spot their own. I rather be one those top 1 percenters who nobody actually knows their name than be a celebrity.

Second…I can’t believe I wrote so much to get to the second point of this section and thank you for sticking with it for so long. I’ve really learned to focus on the good parts of my life and be thankful for that. The truth is that I live a fairly lucky and privileged life compared to people who don’t know where they’re going to sleep tonight or where they’re going to get their next meal. Seriously, I have a phone, the other lady in my life, that talks to me like a freakin’ human being. Of course, I married an actual great human being, where my biggest complaints are her lack of tidiness and her Facebook and Youtube obsession. I have a very close relationship with my mom, even though she, in her own right, is crazy, but I rather have a crazy mom than no mom at all. Even now, I view my dad leaving us when I was in the first grade a good thing. Basically, being alive with all the stressors and problems in my life, is much better than not actually being alive.

Third, to basically continue the last point, I realize there are a lot of people in this world much more unfortunate than I am. There are literally children being born in war zones and people dealing with real trauma in their lives. I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I had a major hiccup in my mental health in 2017. For literally the first and only time in my life, I took 3 grams of THC, which is basically the psychedelic component of cannabis, and experienced a bad trip. Remember how I write that for a time being, I was telling myself that maybe I wasn’t really Bipolar and maybe it was just some weird phase in my life? Well, THC showed me that wasn’t true. For 30 minutes, my mind was racing so fast and I honestly thought, and even still think it’s a bit true today, that I could probably unlock the secrets of the universe. I could tell that my brain was just functioning at a much higher level than it’s ever functioned before, but then the bad thoughts came in.

Everything slowed down and I lost a good sense of reality. I didn’t know if I was still laying in bed or if I was still in the kitchen drinking water because I was so thirsty. Then, the one thought popped into my brain that would almost break me psychologically, “what if someone breaks into the house and I can’t protect my wife and mother?” But that wasn’t bad enough, then the thought became,”because I feel I have lost control of my body, what if I hurt the people I love; my wife, my mom, our dogs?” Then, the thought became, “Well, then the only choice I might have is for me to kill myself so that I don’t hurt them.”

Yep, pretty fucking terrifying thoughts. Here’s the one good thing about trying cannabis so late in life, I was somewhat mentally strong enough to tell myself, “Ok, just stay calm. Just lay here and let these bad thoughts pass.” Apparently, I metabolize what I ingest very slowly because I was in this “bad trip,” for what seemed like an eternity. But once you have thoughts like that, it was hard to get back to “normal.” My mind was actually visualizing violence to an obsessive levels. To be honest, I’ve had flashes of violent thoughts since the first time I had Bipolar episodes in my early 20s, but like John Nash did in A Beautiful Mind, I learned to ignore them pretty easily.

In this case, these thoughts were so obsessive that I was having panic attacks months and months down the line because I thought I was basically becoming a psychopath and that my life was over. Thank god, that wasn’t the case.

One of the things that I kept telling myself was that there are people in this world who’ve experienced much worse trauma, people who’ve literally seen massacres, death, etc, and they get through it. All I had was 3mg of THC and had bad thoughts, literally that’s all that happened to me. They were terrible thoughts, but nothing compared to seeing something truly traumatic.

I also kept on telling myself that time heals. In my case, it really has. I was having panic attacks for months after that cannabis experience, but two years later, I can say I’m in a better mental state than I was even before I took THC and that just came with time.

Here’s another crazy result of my THC use. It helped me get out of the house and live again. I previously mentioned that I experienced years of being a bit of a shut-in. There were period where I wouldn’t leave the house for weeks at a time. I would have anxiety just thinking about a difficult traffic situation and my mind would obsessive about that stop light or intersection and so it was easier just to not go out at that point. This lasted for about 3 or 4 years. I could leave the house, I wasn’t a full agoraphobic, but it was pretty bad compared to “normal” people.

After I had my bad trip, I realized I need to occupy my mind with anything but those obsessive thoughts. So, for the first time in nearly a decade, my wife and I went to concerts, baseball games, football games, basketball games, fairs, try new restaurants, etc. Just like anyone going through a midlife crisis, I picked up hobbies that I had when I was young, such as making music, playing guitar, learning a new language, etc.

I basically went from thinking I broke my brain, to basically enjoying my life in more ways that I thought I could have before that. Honestly, it’s a full on, “turn your frown upside down” situation.

Nonetheless, here’s my final point.

I Will Never Experiment with Hallucinogens Every Again!

Seriously, if you’re Bipolar, then you should not be touching THC or other known hallucinogens. Your brain chemistry is already messed up and if you’re experiencing episodes, then hallucinogen are more likely going to make things even worse.

That’s It…For Now


If I think of something, then I’ll add on to the list. As you can probably tell, this actually ended up being pretty therapeutic for me and if you made it the end, then thank you for bearing through my rambling.  Life can be pretty long and painful so who knows what will happen to my brain, but for now it’s doing pretty damn well and I think I’m building an arsenal of coping devices to help me deal with what’s to come.

Anyway, I wish you the best on your "recovery." As you can tell, this is far from a business blog post, so please don't email our business email address. If for some reason you would like to message me, then please do so through my Instragram @craigwesleysf Sorry, as I kind of mentioned, I'm not really into negativity so don't bother if you're interested in trolling. I mean, I guess you can do it if it makes you feel better, but I seriously will not read it and will not waste time responding, so try not to spend too much time on it. Hahaha.

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Recently, I had a Facebook acquaintance post about the problems her brother was having with a psychotic breakdown. For the first time, in a very long-time, I opened up to her about my pretty terrible experience during a period when I was diagnosed Bipolar I and what helped me survive that experience.

As one can guess, it’s not something I like to talk about these days because, fortunately, I’m not in the same mental or emotional state that I was when I was in my late teens and my twenties. Now, approaching forty years old, I can say that I’m pretty much an average boring guy.

For the most part, except for a pretty bad “hiccup” around 2017, I haven’t had any manic or major depressive experiences since around 2007. Don’t get me wrong, I still have anxiety and for a period of time was practically a shut-in, but relatively speaking those problems never could compare to when I was having full-on manic depressive episodes.

To be honest, I even started lying to myself by telling myself and other people that I don’t think I was ever Bipolar and maybe it was something I did to get attention, but honestly that’s far from the truth. I feel so different from being the person I was in my 20s that sometimes it’s hard to reconcile the two and I that’s the reason why I started thinking that.

Ultimately, that’s the point of this blog post. I’ve come pretty far from the person who was diagnosed Bipolar I to the fairly boring guy you’ll meet today. I’m not a psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, doctor, etc, but it’s nice to think that if I can make my way out of that “place,” then whoever may be reading this can do it as well and that I can help in someway do that.

I don’t want to write too much about my crazy Bipolar stories because, if you ever talked to another Bipolar person, then it starts to feel like a competition on who can tell the craziest story. It starts to feel like that scene in one of the Lethal Weapon movies where Mel Gibson and Rene Russo talk about their scars and who’s the toughest. At the same time, I know I have to establish some type of “street cred” with you, the reader, to know that I wasn’t a tourist. So, I’ll give you one story.

Shortly after I was diagnosed, I decided to go to a support group. It was a support group in a very suburban city about 45 minutes to 1 hour outside of San Francisco. If I remember correctly, then it was at some kind of community center, maybe even a church. The set-up is very much like one would see in a movie. There’s an organizer/moderator and attendees are essentially sitting in a circle because it’s not a very big group, at most 8 to 10 people.

I saw down and I thought to myself, “What the fuck is going on?” Not because I thought the people there were weird, strange, or crazy, but because I thought I had seen most of the people in that room before. I started to think that I was being set-up or something. My blood pressure, paranoia, whatever you want to call it skyrocketed. I never went back to that group.

The funny part is that one of the ways they started that meeting is by having the moderator ask something like, “on a scale of 1 to 10, what’s your level of depression or mania at the moment,” or something of that nature. My answer was pretty high and it was because of the meeting.

Anyway, that was one of many interesting aspects of my mania. I started seeing people that I thought I had seen before and I was constantly experiencing deja vu. I thought I was experiencing situations not just once before, but 3, 4, 5 times before. Honestly, the experiences were so vivid that I couldn’t help but think that I could see the future and that the government was spying on me. I mean, if someone could see the future, then it would make some logical sense that the government would do so, right? LOL.

As most people with Bipolar or Schizophrenia can attest to, that’s just one of many many stories. OK, so now that I’ve established my crazy card, let’s talk about how I actually got better. Warning, I’m notorious for getting sidetracked and not staying 100% on topic.

The one things that mania really helped me with was study for the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test), which is the test one would take to get into an MBA or other business related Masters program. (Not) To too my own horn, I scored in the 94 or 96% percentile, which basically means on that day, I scored better than 94 or 96% of all test takers. Full disclosure, my test score was actually cancelled because I was a member of an online test taking forum where people discussed real test questions and answers. Their smoking gun, I wrote a forum post talking about how much I studied for six months and that it wasn’t important to remember answers because it’s not practical, but more important to know how to solve the math problems. Basically, I told people that I studied like a crazy person to score in the 96 percentile and I learned how to do maths better because of that, LOL. Anyway, that’s why they only cancelled my score and didn’t ban me.

So, despite having full blown manic and depressive episodes. I got into what’s considered probably the number one Masters in Finance program in the world at London Business School. By the way, I literally went into tears during my interview for London Business School talking about how difficult of a time I was having with manic/depressive episodes and still got in. Meanwhile, I gave a perfect interview for Wharton School of Business and got rejected. So to all those youngsters wanting to get into a top business program, make sure to cry during your interview, at least you’ll be memorable.

Months later, in the fall of 2007, I found myself in London, living with two other London Business School students…while still having full blown manic/depressive episodes. I’m sure it was quite an experience for my flatmates. The really sad part is that one of my flatmates, about two to three years later in 2010, committed a very public suicide during a business trip to Scotland. I still feel a sense of guilt about that because, while I only talked about my manic side, my depressive side was just as bad, if not worse. To quote a few lines from the movie Inception, “An idea is like a virus. Resilient. Highly contagious. And even the smallest seed of an idea can grow. It can grow to define or destroy you.” Almost 10 years later, I wonder if I infected her and for some reason I managed to survive the virus and she didn’t. Anyway, maybe I can “infect” you with the idea that you can get better and live a pretty normal boring life.

Sorry, about the part where I get better. I know a lot of people are going to hate me for this next part, but to not mention it as part of my “recovery” would be an outright lie. I met the person who I would eventually marry seven years later. While she probably saved my life, I don’t believe finding your future spouse is required to getting better.

I Surrounded Myself with Emotionally and Mentally Stable People

What I do think is required is surrounding or being around people who are, for a lack of a better word, not crazy. Before heading to London, I was very casually dating a person who was suffering from major depression. Guess what, that didn’t help me and it certainly didn’t help her. Before leaving the USA, I also ended up going to two more Bipolar support group meetings at a different location and, in my very specific case, it didn’t help me at all. There was no useless information to help me get better, just miserable people being with other miserable people. I ended up going to a concert with someone from the group and guess what, we just talked about crazy shit when we hanged out. It certainly didn’t make me feel like a normal person. Anyway, maybe it’s different now or it depends on who runs the meeting, but that was my experience.

My wife, on the other hand, is really one of the most emotionally and mentally stable people I know. Other than with insects, she’s not overly dramatic about most things. She can overthink things where it takes forever for her to make a decisions, but her brain is essentially not hardwired like those of Bipolar people.

Of course, you still need to be around understanding people. I had one person who essentially gave me the, “snap out of it” talk. Yeah, doesn’t work, will never work. While that person was relatively more emotionally and mentally stable, by a very slim margin mind you, it was not helpful.

You also need to be around positive people. My wife is one of the more optimistic people I know. I remember when we first met, I would tell her a crazy business idea, almost as a joke, and she would be pretty much be on board. Meanwhile, someone like my mom, is prewired to tell you all the reasons why you shouldn’t do something.

Yeah, you’re not alone. There are lot of those people in the world, especially people close to us, who can’t help but tell you what you can and cannot do. It’s important to find someone in your life who believes in the seemingly the impossible. Well, not a crazy person, but an optimistic person who is probably a little crazy for being optimistic in such a crazy world.

Good Nutrition is The Best Medicine

Back to London, other than meeting my future wife, the biggest change in my life was my diet. The year prior to moving to London, I had been on the Atkin’s low-carb diet. Of course, I didn’t follow it as it probably should and I literally just ate meat all the time without any vegetables or fruit. I lost something like 30 lbs. and was pretty fit, but I was getting crazier and crazier. I believe there was a fairly small study that showed that people on low-carb diets tends to have more mental health issues and it was certainly true in my case. Coincidence or not, I experienced my first full manic depressive episodes during college when I also lost a lot of weight in a fairly short amount of time.

In December of 2007, my wife and I, along with her friends, took a trip to Glasgow, Scotland, which is pretty darn magical during Christmastime. I had a classmate, who previously followed a traditional diet who turned vegetarian, asked me during class one day, “would I eat my dog?” From that simple question, I decided to not eat meat for one week starting with that trip to Scotland.

Eventually, I settled into my current diet, which still indulges in seafood, occasional broths, and dairy, but with way more vegetables and fruits. Also, I only eat for 8 hours, between Noon to 8pm, and I try, emphasize on “try,” to limit processed foods. I think my dietary change alone pretty much help me get to where I am today.

I believe after that week in Scotland, I stopped all my medications. By the way, none of them worked for me because it was either I couldn’t sleep at all, which makes everything manic or depressive episode much worse, or I needed to sleep all the time. When my wife and I were studying for exams, I remember just sleeping right on the floor of the study rooms at London Business School.

I almost don’t want to write this to manage your expectations, but I almost “normalized” within weeks. I had some feeling of melancholia, but I didn’t experience any mania or major depressive or suicidal thoughts. Of course, this was a pretty special period in my life so it’s a combined effect of everything that helped me get to a much improved mental and emotional space.

There was a book about the “Bipolar Diet,” which I bought but never really followed, but obviously I probably should have. If there’s at least one thing you should try, then it would be changing your diet.

For me, I found just stop eating meat was the key because my diet was still pretty bad after Scotland. By bad, I mean that I was still eating a lot of processed foods. I loved salty snacks, have been addicted sugary drinks at different parts of my life, loved frozen pizza, and ate plenty of non-meat based fast food and convenience meals. Even after putting all that terrible food in my body, it didn’t matter because when I stopped eating meat everything changed. Like I mentioned, I still indulge in seafood and broths, such as in Vietnamese Pho or Japanese Ramen, so I’m not on some kind of crusade against the meat industry, but rather just telling you what changed my mental and emotional well being.

Still, you probably need to cut the processed foods. I was a processed food junkie for a long long time. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve literally been snacking on a bag of fresh tortilla chips and salsa that I bought from the taqueria from up the street while writing this blog. While processed foods didn’t seem to make a huge impact at the beginning of my road to “normal,” cutting it out just took me to the next level of mental health because I felt better about myself and my body.

After, Scotland, I actually slowly gained 50 lbs because instead of meat, I was eating so much processed foods. So don’t fall into that trap. Fortunately, by cutting most processed foods and with intermittent fasting, where I eat between noon to 8pm, without feeling hungry and without much effort, I shed 40 lbs where I’m just about 10 lbs overweight.

Without meat and processed foods, what are you left with? Yep, organic whole foods such as vegetables and fruit. Notice how I didn’t write fruit and vegetables. You really need to learn how to love dark green vegetables and not super sweet pineapple. And the fruits you should be focusing on are anti-inflammatories such as blueberries.

If you don’t know what a whole food is, then just think about how the item should look coming from the earth and how it looks now. When corn is being picked by farmers, does it looks like a Dorito? Actually, even whole corn is said to be pretty bad for your health because of all the pesticides, but relatively speaking eating corn on the cob without processed toppings is healthier than eating a corn tortilla chip.

I Exercise Every Day For At Least 30 Minutes

I hope you’re seeing a trend here, but basically I try to lead a relatively healthy lifestyle. This includes some exercise. I wake up and within an hour I’m either on my indoor climber or treadmill, putting in my minimum 30 minutes of cardio. This is always my baseline, so even if I’m feeling tired and planning on sitting or laying down most of the day or if my wife and I go on a three mile hike in the afternoon, I’ll make this is the minimum amount of exercise I get.

I run away from many haunting existential questions during this time. Every time I have some unnerving question about the world or something terrible from the past, I just exercise a bit harder. Then other times, I’ll just be bored waiting out the clock. I think many people can attest that working out is a type of therapy and I believe there are plenty of studies regarding exercise and the neurological benefits that you can find elsewhere online.

I Work With My Circadian Rhythm, Not Against It

Ever since I was a small child, I’ve been a night owl, going to sleep no earlier than two or three o’clock in the morning, but more often around four or five o’clock in the morning for most of my adulthood. I’ve also experienced times in my life where I would normally go to sleep at 3am, then 4am the next night, and so on and so forth until I actually temporarily had a normal sleeping schedule for a few nights. At that time, I was diagnosed with a running sleep phase disorder, which I actually experienced after I stopped having manic-depressive episodes.

It turns out that many people with mental health issues are night owls or have major sleep disruption issues. At my worst, I felt like I wasn’t able to sleep at all, which had a lot to do with my medication.

Truth be told, it’s only until very recently have I changed my sleeping habit and what motivated me to do so was learning about the human bodies Circadian Rhythm or Body Clock. It’s a relatively new science in the Western world, but valid enough that three researchers won the Nobel Prize for their work in the field.

Science has always been my worst subject, but my understanding is that humans, as well as plants and fungi, are genetically coded at the cellular level to follow a biological “body” clock. More plainly, we’re genetically coded to sleep and recover at certain times, our brains tend to peak at specific times, we perform physically better at certain times, we’re able to digest and process foods more efficiently during certain hours, etc. When people go against their circadian rhythm, especially with sleep and food, there is a very good case that it contributes to disease and illness. Hence, by working with my circadian rhythm, I believe that I’m physically, mentally, and emotionally more able to deal with life’s challenges.

Seriously, google “Mark Walberg’s schedule” to get an idea of what a healthy schedule looks like. The only fault, at least what I’ve read about an optimal Circadian rhythm, is that he might actually being going to bed and waking up too early. According to Satchin Panda, a lead researcher in the field, bedtime should be something like 10pm with about eight or nine hours of sleep, which would put getting up at around sunrise. For me, the best I can do is bed around midnight and wake-up pretty consistently at 8:30-9am.

In terms of diet, humans apparently are not meant to eat whenever they feel like it. The body actually needs you to stop eating and enter a type of fasting period. Fortunately, not necessarily a fasting period many people have heard of where one stops eating for 24 to 72 hours, but rather a fasting period where one stops eating for 12 to 16 hours. Conversely, one should only be eating between 12 to 8 hours a day.

Not only that, but in order for the human body to get better rest and recovery, one shouldn’t eat at least 3 hours before bedtime and it’s better to eat your biggest meal earlier in the day to where you actually don’t necessarily need to eat much by dinner time.

For me, I eat between noon and 8pm. Even when I first started, I can honestly say that I was rarely ever hungry. Sometimes, I get late night cravings because I’m watching some type of food show on Netflix, but even then it was just a craving and not real hunger. To be fair though, I’m the type of person who can easily skip breakfast, especially since I like to get in my 30 minute work-out, like to get my online French lessons out of the way, and of course actually have to do some type of money making activity. Often times, I actually will not get my first meal until 2 or 3pm and still be done eating by 8pm. Some people will read that and probably think that’s unhealthy, but I’m pretty sure it’s healthier than literally eating 16 hours a day.
But for your information, even if you’re eating 8 to 12 hours a day, it’s actually best to eat on a set schedule every day and to actually avoiding snacking in between meals, at least according to circadian research. Like I said I’m not a scientist, I’m just relaying information I’ve read and tried.

With only eating for eight hours a day and pretty minimal exercise, I lost 20 lbs in six months without trying. I really have to emphasize the part about not trying. My plan was actually only to follow my circadian rhythm and it just turned out I lost weight. Like I mentioned earlier in my post, I really know how to lose weight and fast. I’ve lost weight so fast through diet and extreme exercise where I got kidney stones and the doctors wanted to remove my gall bladder, which is something that occurs with people who do weight loss surgery.

So now, I’m sitting just about 8 to 10 lbs over my ideal Body Mass Index weight, but I’m not sweating it. I really don’t eat that much, so I’m pretty sure it’s not practical for me to eat even less food, and I don’t really want to spend more time exercising. To get to 155 lbs would probably require something extreme and I’m not looking for that. The younger version of me wouldn’t accept that as an answer, but the 39 year old version of me can, which leads my to my next point.

I Just Snapped Out of It

Hahaha, I’m just kidding. That shit doesn’t work. What’s happening to you, what happened to me, is essentially a chemical imbalance. Hence why diet, exercise, sleep, etc is so important to “recovery” Those are all variable that are proven to change your brain chemistry.

The reason I believe this is purely anecdotal and kind of unbelievable. While I’ve had depression and melancholia for a lot my life, especially as a child and teenager, I’ve only had to periods in my life with major manic-depressive episodes. The first episodes were around 2000 to 2002, I had a couple of years break, and then it hit even harder in 2005-2007.

But at the very end of 2001 (I just round to 2002 to make it simpler), I was “cured” of two years of major episodes after one night. I mean this is going to sound pretty unbelievable. One night, I had a really high fever. I’m talking the type of fever where I just stacked several blankets on top of me, but because it’s fever I was still cold, shivering, and sweating. When the fever “broke” the next morning, I was pretty much better and it was a really weird feeling. It’s almost as though all my feeling went away. For a day or two, it almost felt like I had no emotions any more. Melancholia pretty much kicked in with some mild depression, but nothing compared to the manic depressive episodes I had before.

Seriously, I probably would have graduated with honors from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley if I had still been manic during my last semester. Up until that semester, I was on the honor roll every semester, with basically a 4.0 GPA. In junior college, that was easy, at UC Berkeley, it’s not that easy. Instead, I enjoyed my new found mental freedom and literally started hitting the clubs. I really wanted to promote parties and DJ, which I actually ended up doing as one of my first jobs after I graduated.

As usual, I digress. The point being is that fever changed something in my brain. Seriously, it’s hard to think of another conclusion other than that. I know there’s some skeptic out there who’s going, “oh, he could have hit his head during the night or gotten bitten by a radioactive spider, but without scientific proof,” blah, blah, blah. Yes, I took a critical thinking course as well when I was in college. But seriously, more logically, it was probably the fever.

But, there is something to be said about your frame of mind and changing your perspective to help not fall back into major episodes, especially once you’ve figured out how to “normalize.” If you’re like me, then it was always some major stressor that put me into the thick of it. But fortunately, as I’ve gotten older, my mind has matured enough to basically not fall into that trap anymore. Here’s a couple thoughts that have helped me stay relatively stable.

First, I realized that I don’t need to be special or at least not that special. Some people will read this and think that this is just “loser talk,” but thinking this way helps me feel more content with my life as it is. It’s true, maybe I’m too content and not pushed enough to do something noteworthy, but I’m also pretty damn happy.

When I got into transferred in the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, the acceptance rate was something like 9%, which is basically nearly Ivy League hard. I had got accepted into every single program I applied to and my only regret is not applying to actual Ivy League universities. When I graduated, I set out to become a nightclub DJ. Low and behold, I was probably the youngest resident DJ at 1015 Folsom, which was pretty much “the club” during the 90s rave scene in San Francisco. Between the ages of 25 - 27 years old, I was an independent investment advisor and quite literally worked less than 20 hours those two years and received a six figure income. Then, as I mentioned before, I scored in the 96% in the GMAT, which essentially quantifies that I’m not stupid, and got into what is still considered the world’s number one Masters in Finance program.

The wild part is that I’m actually not good at finance. I scored in the 83 percentile in maths on my GMAT, but I scored a 96 percentile in logic, verbal, and writing, which is some crazy way adds up to being in the 96 percentile for the entire test. So, even though I came in a with one of the weakest quantitative scores in the program, I still graduated with a 3.0 GPA, the same as over 50% of my classmates in a subject that I wasn’t particular very good at. What I’m saying is that I have a Masters in Finance in a subject that I’m not good at. Imagine my abilities in subjects that actually cater to my strengths and not my weaknesses.

After that graduation, I convinced two private investors, one a senior manager at Salesforce and one a CEO of a $500 million revenue public company in Thailand, to invest in an online retail idea I had. In total, the sum would have been close to $500k. I didn’t have developers or a team. They were pretty much just investing in me and eventually my wife. I turned down the money both times.

Then, I ended up becoming a social media marketer for that same company in Thailand. I grew a facebook page with real authentic followers from 0 to 1 million followers in less than a year at only about $0.03 to $0.05 a followers. I emphasize that these were “real” followers in Thailand and not dummy accounts. I once had someone tell my that my facebook marketing was so successful that I was probably in the top .01 percent of marketers. The page was for a chain of Japanese restaurants the company was newly launching in Bangkok, Thailand. I kept on asking my wife, who was working with the restaurant group before we got married and she moved to the USA, if on the big opening day they could handle the crowd because I knew I was doing really well with the ads.

They couldn’t. It was so crowded and they were so inexperienced that they couldn’t handle it and it all fell apart eventually with just about all restaurants closing, but that wasn’t my job. Even though I hadn’t had any restaurant experience, while they were conceptualizing and implementing the vision, I was studying and observing and giving my input and telling my wife what I think is wrong. Every one of those reasons I mentioned contributed largely to the failure of those restaurants.

As you can see, I had very high expectations of myself for most of my 20s and early 30s, but I was also out of my mind for most of that period. My mania could help me excel, but it was too steep of a price to pay. For most of my late 20s and early 30s, I linked my happiness to financial success and achievement because that’s what many of us are taught in industrialized societies, especially if you go to business school where all you do is compare success in terms of public recognition. Notice how I didn’t say financial success. Business school doesn’t necessarily want every student to be the next tech billionaire or millionaire, but what they do want are students who’ll be publicly recognized for whatever they end up doing. There’s no such thing as a successful, silent, and unrecognized hero in the business world. If you’re not recognized and not putting yourself out there, then you’re not a hero and certainly not successful in that world.

Once I figured out that I could still be happy and not successful, rich, famous, etc, etc, my life drastically improved because I decreased a lot of stressors in my life. Now, I pretty much live a pretty uneventful life with really not very much money, no real recognization, and fairly unsuccessful professionally to be honest. But, I feel extremely lucky. Not lottery lucky, but pretty damn lucky.

A lot of that, for me, has to do with the idea that I don’t have to be special. That, quite honestly, most people in this world are pretty average and there’s nothing wrong with being one of those people. It’s pretty hard to logically deny that basically all celebrities want to be just that, rich, famous, and be considered special. But it’s also pretty hard to deny that a lot of them probably have real mental issues. How do I know? To take another quote from a Christopher Nolan movie, “Right when I saw you, I knew who you really were.” Bipolar people can spot their own. I rather be one those top 1 percenters who nobody actually knows their name than be a celebrity.

Second…I can’t believe I wrote so much to get to the second point of this section and thank you for sticking with it for so long. I’ve really learned to focus on the good parts of my life and be thankful for that. The truth is that I live a fairly lucky and privileged life compared to people who don’t know where they’re going to sleep tonight or where they’re going to get their next meal. Seriously, I have a phone, the other lady in my life, that talks to me like a freakin’ human being. Of course, I married an actual great human being, where my biggest complaints are her lack of tidiness and her Facebook and Youtube obsession. I have a very close relationship with my mom, even though she, in her own right, is crazy, but I rather have a crazy mom than no mom at all. Even now, I view my dad leaving us when I was in the first grade a good thing. Basically, being alive with all the stressors and problems in my life, is much better than not actually being alive.

Third, to basically continue the last point, I realize there are a lot of people in this world much more unfortunate than I am. There are literally children being born in war zones and people dealing with real trauma in their lives. I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I had a major hiccup in my mental health in 2017. For literally the first and only time in my life, I took 3 grams of THC, which is basically the psychedelic component of cannabis, and experienced a bad trip. Remember how I write that for a time being, I was telling myself that maybe I wasn’t really Bipolar and maybe it was just some weird phase in my life? Well, THC showed me that wasn’t true. For 30 minutes, my mind was racing so fast and I honestly thought, and even still think it’s a bit true today, that I could probably unlock the secrets of the universe. I could tell that my brain was just functioning at a much higher level than it’s ever functioned before, but then the bad thoughts came in.

Everything slowed down and I lost a good sense of reality. I didn’t know if I was still laying in bed or if I was still in the kitchen drinking water because I was so thirsty. Then, the one thought popped into my brain that would almost break me psychologically, “what if someone breaks into the house and I can’t protect my wife and mother?” But that wasn’t bad enough, then the thought became,”because I feel I have lost control of my body, what if I hurt the people I love; my wife, my mom, our dogs?” Then, the thought became, “Well, then the only choice I might have is for me to kill myself so that I don’t hurt them.”

Yep, pretty fucking terrifying thoughts. Here’s the one good thing about trying cannabis so late in life, I was somewhat mentally strong enough to tell myself, “Ok, just stay calm. Just lay here and let these bad thoughts pass.” Apparently, I metabolize what I ingest very slowly because I was in this “bad trip,” for what seemed like an eternity. But once you have thoughts like that, it was hard to get back to “normal.” My mind was actually visualizing violence to an obsessive levels. To be honest, I’ve had flashes of violent thoughts since the first time I had Bipolar episodes in my early 20s, but like John Nash did in A Beautiful Mind, I learned to ignore them pretty easily.

In this case, these thoughts were so obsessive that I was having panic attacks months and months down the line because I thought I was basically becoming a psychopath and that my life was over. Thank god, that wasn’t the case.

One of the things that I kept telling myself was that there are people in this world who’ve experienced much worse trauma, people who’ve literally seen massacres, death, etc, and they get through it. All I had was 3mg of THC and had bad thoughts, literally that’s all that happened to me. They were terrible thoughts, but nothing compared to seeing something truly traumatic.

I also kept on telling myself that time heals. In my case, it really has. I was having panic attacks for months after that cannabis experience, but two years later, I can say I’m in a better mental state than I was even before I took THC and that just came with time.

Here’s another crazy result of my THC use. It helped me get out of the house and live again. I previously mentioned that I experienced years of being a bit of a shut-in. There were period where I wouldn’t leave the house for weeks at a time. I would have anxiety just thinking about a difficult traffic situation and my mind would obsessive about that stop light or intersection and so it was easier just to not go out at that point. This lasted for about 3 or 4 years. I could leave the house, I wasn’t a full agoraphobic, but it was pretty bad compared to “normal” people.

After I had my bad trip, I realized I need to occupy my mind with anything but those obsessive thoughts. So, for the first time in nearly a decade, my wife and I went to concerts, baseball games, football games, basketball games, fairs, try new restaurants, etc. Just like anyone going through a midlife crisis, I picked up hobbies that I had when I was young, such as making music, playing guitar, learning a new language, etc.

I basically went from thinking I broke my brain, to basically enjoying my life in more ways that I thought I could have before that. Honestly, it’s a full on, “turn your frown upside down” situation.

Nonetheless, here’s my final point.

I Will Never Experiment with Hallucinogens Every Again!

Seriously, if you’re Bipolar, then you should not be touching THC or other known hallucinogens. Your brain chemistry is already messed up and if you’re experiencing episodes, then hallucinogen are more likely going to make things even worse.

That’s It…For Now


If I think of something, then I’ll add on to the list. As you can probably tell, this actually ended up being pretty therapeutic for me and if you made it the end, then thank you for bearing through my rambling.  Life can be pretty long and painful so who knows what will happen to my brain, but for now it’s doing pretty damn well and I think I’m building an arsenal of coping devices to help me deal with what’s to come.

Anyway, I wish you the best on your "recovery." As you can tell, this is far from a business blog post, so please don't email our business email address. If for some reason you would like to message me, then please do so through my Instragram @craigwesleysf Sorry, as I kind of mentioned, I'm not really into negativity so don't bother if you're interested in trolling. I mean, I guess you can do it if it makes you feel better, but I seriously will not read it and will not waste time responding, so try not to spend too much time on it. Hahaha.

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The Perfect Gift For New Friends & Acquaintances

Posted by Craig Wesley on

When Anne & I started Anne Wesley, we honestly had no intention of being gift makers. We just wanted to create a leather goods brand line based on our urban lifestyle. Even when we started personalizing leather goods, we thought our customer base was just those who wanted to have their own name or monogram on their personal item.

Now, years later, If I had to guess, then I would say that at least seventy-five percent of our orders are gifts. So while the end product is a handmade, customizable, made-to-order personalized leather good, ultimately what we provide are perfect presents and gifts for friends and loved ones.

But what if you're trying to find a gift for someone who doesn't quite fit into the "friend" or "family" category, at least not yet. Anne & I honestly don't have a lot of close friends, but we have given a lot of gifts to acquaintances! Such as Arnold, our USPS Postman, Simon, who ended up staying in our Airbnb for eight months, Liesbet, the girlfriend of another Airbnb guest...I'm sure you get the point.

Let's face, even if there's someone you're really interested in getting to know, but you've just recently met, then getting the right gift to essentially not scare them off is also important.

From literally thousands of gifts that we've handmade, we've found the perfect gift for these situations is an Anne Wesley Personalized Leather Keychain. I'm not talking about the cheap keychains sold at tacky gift stores or gas stations, but one that's handmade in the USA with some of the finest leather available and made-to-order just for your recipient.

Personalized Leather Keychain with Gift Box

First, the price for our most basic personalized keychain is priced perfectly at $30. These days, any gift under $30 is considered relatively inexpensive, especially for working adults in larger cities like the San Francisco Bay Area where it already costs $30/day to commute and grab lunch. Gifts over $50 is a common price for closer friends and anything over $100 is of course in the "family" or "friends who are essentially family" category.

Second, because you can personalize the keychain with the person's name or initials and customize certain colors, it fills the "it's the thought that counts" requirement, which truly is the most important aspect of gift giving. Even though this gift is for someone who you may consider as a "new friend," it can't be completely impersonal.

For example, if you were to shop for a keychain on Amazon and just hit that "buy it now" button, then more likely than not you've just gifted something that's going to be junk. Gift them something that shows you put in some thought and that person will most likely at least keep it, even if it's out of pure guilt. But more likely, they'll end up using it and start thinking of you as a really thoughtful person that they may want to be friends with in the future.

Lastly, all Anne Wesley products come with a free gift box and card. As I previously mentioned, Anne & I make a lot of the gifts we give, but that's because it's the field we work in. For those making a decent living, it's probably more cost efficient to let us take care of it for you.

Anne Wesley Free Gift Box

Anne & I have a inside couples joke about how our order of gift giving is like a rewards program and that everyone always starts off with a keychain.

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The Perfect Gift For New Friends & Acquaintances

Posted by Craig Wesley on

When Anne & I started Anne Wesley, we honestly had no intention of being gift makers. We just wanted to create a leather goods brand line based on our urban lifestyle. Even when we started personalizing leather goods, we thought our customer base was just those who wanted to have their own name or monogram on their personal item.

Now, years later, If I had to guess, then I would say that at least seventy-five percent of our orders are gifts. So while the end product is a handmade, customizable, made-to-order personalized leather good, ultimately what we provide are perfect presents and gifts for friends and loved ones.

But what if you're trying to find a gift for someone who doesn't quite fit into the "friend" or "family" category, at least not yet. Anne & I honestly don't have a lot of close friends, but we have given a lot of gifts to acquaintances! Such as Arnold, our USPS Postman, Simon, who ended up staying in our Airbnb for eight months, Liesbet, the girlfriend of another Airbnb guest...I'm sure you get the point.

Let's face, even if there's someone you're really interested in getting to know, but you've just recently met, then getting the right gift to essentially not scare them off is also important.

From literally thousands of gifts that we've handmade, we've found the perfect gift for these situations is an Anne Wesley Personalized Leather Keychain. I'm not talking about the cheap keychains sold at tacky gift stores or gas stations, but one that's handmade in the USA with some of the finest leather available and made-to-order just for your recipient.

Personalized Leather Keychain with Gift Box

First, the price for our most basic personalized keychain is priced perfectly at $30. These days, any gift under $30 is considered relatively inexpensive, especially for working adults in larger cities like the San Francisco Bay Area where it already costs $30/day to commute and grab lunch. Gifts over $50 is a common price for closer friends and anything over $100 is of course in the "family" or "friends who are essentially family" category.

Second, because you can personalize the keychain with the person's name or initials and customize certain colors, it fills the "it's the thought that counts" requirement, which truly is the most important aspect of gift giving. Even though this gift is for someone who you may consider as a "new friend," it can't be completely impersonal.

For example, if you were to shop for a keychain on Amazon and just hit that "buy it now" button, then more likely than not you've just gifted something that's going to be junk. Gift them something that shows you put in some thought and that person will most likely at least keep it, even if it's out of pure guilt. But more likely, they'll end up using it and start thinking of you as a really thoughtful person that they may want to be friends with in the future.

Lastly, all Anne Wesley products come with a free gift box and card. As I previously mentioned, Anne & I make a lot of the gifts we give, but that's because it's the field we work in. For those making a decent living, it's probably more cost efficient to let us take care of it for you.

Anne Wesley Free Gift Box

Anne & I have a inside couples joke about how our order of gift giving is like a rewards program and that everyone always starts off with a keychain.

Read more


How Safe is Alameda California

Posted by Craig Wesley on

Probably the biggest question people have before moving to Alameda is in regards to its safety. Over time, I've learned that the answer is relative to the one asking the question. For example, we host Airbnb guests in our 1889 Victorian home and have met travelers from across the USA, as well as a handful of international travelers. One travelers was a Medical Doctor born and raised in South Central Los Angeles who had been shot on three different occasions before the age of 13, including one time by police officers. For him, Alameda was a fantastic city; an ideal place for him to raise his newborn son.

On the other hand, I once had an undergraduate college couple from Tokyo, Japan stay with us. For four days, they stayed holed up in their bedroom because they didn't feel too safe. I felt so bad that I took them out for a little tour of Alameda, which is something I've never done before with an Airbnb guest.

If you're not away, Japan is one of the safest developed countries in the world. I once hired a Japanese interpreter who lived in Philadelphia, PA for a few years and asked her if Japan had any city as dangerous as Philadelphia or Oakland. Her response was a resounding "no."

I've also had people who simply come from suburban cities within the USA who simply are not use to a city like Oakland, California. They have no experience with places like Deep East Oakland or seeing homeless encampments.

In the end, it really comes down to what one is use to. For those coming from San Francisco or Oakland, Alameda is significantly safer. According to City-Data.com, in 2016, Alameda had one murder, which is 1.3 murders for every 100,000 people. Meanwhile, during that same period, Oakland had 85 murders at a per capita rate of 20 murders for every 100,000 people. San Francisco is surprisingly relatively safer than Oakland with 57 murders during 2018 at a per capita rate of 6.5. In terms of percentage, Alameda is a significantly far safer city than both. (FYI, Tokyo's murder rate is less than 1 for ever 100,000 people.)

But for those coming from extremely safe small cities with essentially a zero murder rate for numerous years, Alameda can actually feel pretty dangerous for them. Though the chances of being murdered and other violent crime is still relatively low, Alameda has plenty of assaults, robberies, burglaries, and thefts, as well as drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The Alameda police blotter gives a better insight into what types of crime take place over a two week period, with plenty of arrests for DUI, domestic abuse, theft, and outstanding warrents. Of course, it should be measured against ones current location or other cities being considered for relocation.

I would also suggest for people to use Google news to search local news and, once again, compare it to the local news of other cities. If one were to google "alameda california" into Google news, then one would probably find very few articles about major crime occurring in the city. While searching "Oakland" in the google news will result in articles covering homicides and shootings.

But my number one suggestion, especially for those thinking of moving to Alameda,  is to simply "feel out" the city. Walk down our two main streets, Webster and Park, and see how you feel. Walk around the neighborhood that you hope to move into. Have breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner on the island. Catch a movie at the Alameda Theatre & Cineplex and see if you're comfortable. Go grocery shopping at Safeway or Trader Joes at the Shoreline Center. Essentially, if you have the resources, then give Alameda a little trial run. Consider staying at an Airbnb on the island for one or two nights.

Reading the news and police blotter can be off-putting, but the reality is that it doesn't represent most peoples' experience living on Alameda. One's natural instincts, as well as experience, should tell if where they are is safe or not. My instincts and experience living on Alameda tells me that I can raise a happy family here, but with some caveats.

Read more

How Safe is Alameda California

Posted by Craig Wesley on

Probably the biggest question people have before moving to Alameda is in regards to its safety. Over time, I've learned that the answer is relative to the one asking the question. For example, we host Airbnb guests in our 1889 Victorian home and have met travelers from across the USA, as well as a handful of international travelers. One travelers was a Medical Doctor born and raised in South Central Los Angeles who had been shot on three different occasions before the age of 13, including one time by police officers. For him, Alameda was a fantastic city; an ideal place for him to raise his newborn son.

On the other hand, I once had an undergraduate college couple from Tokyo, Japan stay with us. For four days, they stayed holed up in their bedroom because they didn't feel too safe. I felt so bad that I took them out for a little tour of Alameda, which is something I've never done before with an Airbnb guest.

If you're not away, Japan is one of the safest developed countries in the world. I once hired a Japanese interpreter who lived in Philadelphia, PA for a few years and asked her if Japan had any city as dangerous as Philadelphia or Oakland. Her response was a resounding "no."

I've also had people who simply come from suburban cities within the USA who simply are not use to a city like Oakland, California. They have no experience with places like Deep East Oakland or seeing homeless encampments.

In the end, it really comes down to what one is use to. For those coming from San Francisco or Oakland, Alameda is significantly safer. According to City-Data.com, in 2016, Alameda had one murder, which is 1.3 murders for every 100,000 people. Meanwhile, during that same period, Oakland had 85 murders at a per capita rate of 20 murders for every 100,000 people. San Francisco is surprisingly relatively safer than Oakland with 57 murders during 2018 at a per capita rate of 6.5. In terms of percentage, Alameda is a significantly far safer city than both. (FYI, Tokyo's murder rate is less than 1 for ever 100,000 people.)

But for those coming from extremely safe small cities with essentially a zero murder rate for numerous years, Alameda can actually feel pretty dangerous for them. Though the chances of being murdered and other violent crime is still relatively low, Alameda has plenty of assaults, robberies, burglaries, and thefts, as well as drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The Alameda police blotter gives a better insight into what types of crime take place over a two week period, with plenty of arrests for DUI, domestic abuse, theft, and outstanding warrents. Of course, it should be measured against ones current location or other cities being considered for relocation.

I would also suggest for people to use Google news to search local news and, once again, compare it to the local news of other cities. If one were to google "alameda california" into Google news, then one would probably find very few articles about major crime occurring in the city. While searching "Oakland" in the google news will result in articles covering homicides and shootings.

But my number one suggestion, especially for those thinking of moving to Alameda,  is to simply "feel out" the city. Walk down our two main streets, Webster and Park, and see how you feel. Walk around the neighborhood that you hope to move into. Have breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner on the island. Catch a movie at the Alameda Theatre & Cineplex and see if you're comfortable. Go grocery shopping at Safeway or Trader Joes at the Shoreline Center. Essentially, if you have the resources, then give Alameda a little trial run. Consider staying at an Airbnb on the island for one or two nights.

Reading the news and police blotter can be off-putting, but the reality is that it doesn't represent most peoples' experience living on Alameda. One's natural instincts, as well as experience, should tell if where they are is safe or not. My instincts and experience living on Alameda tells me that I can raise a happy family here, but with some caveats.

Read more


Burberry Burned £90m Of Goods So "Luxury" Buyers Could Feel Better About Themselves

Posted by Anne Wesley on

According to BBC, Burberry burned £90m of unsold clothes, accessories, and perfume over the last five years to protect its brand. Burning overstock goods, rather than recycling them, keeps them out of the hands of discounters, as well as saves the company in storage costs. In an oversimplification of economics, it's Burberry's solution to controlling their demand and supply curve. Unable to push demand by consumers further, by limiting supply in the open market, even if it's literally by purposefully burning goods into ashes, it pushes back the supply curve to where they can sell handbags for over $1k.

In more laymen terms, if consumers saw Burberry bags at TJ/TK Maxx or eBay for 60% off, then most consumers would stop seeing Burberry as a high-end luxury brand, especially compared to a company like Hermes were second-hand Birkin Bags still sell for at least $8-10K.

Nonetheless, this strategy has worked for Burberry, with average annual operating profits of £418m for the last five years. But while this may be an economically sound strategy, is it an ethically sound strategy.

From day one, Anne Wesley handcrafted items on a made-to-order basis because it minimizes fashion waste and, for us, a stand against fast fashion. If you're not aware, then fast fashion is fueling an environmental crisis. The clothing and textile industry is the second largest polluter in the world, following just behind oil. For a more comprehensive look, read this Newsweek Article by Alden Wicker.

While consumers would never identify Burberry as a "fast fashion" brand, its wastefulness and environment impact are no different. Additionally, if Burberry has so little hesitation to burn its unsold goods, then what actually makes them a luxury goods brand. I have yet to read that Hermes is burning Birkin and Kelly Handbags in order to manipulate supply. From my understanding, Hermes simply makes less than what the market demands.

I would argue that true luxury, at its pinnacle, is bespoke (made-to-order), regardless of the price or brand. What matters most is not only quality materials but also craftsmanship. While I believe most craftsmen would admit that most handcrafted items will never have the same finishing as factory made items, that is often what is most important. Knowing that an actual artisan, with all their skills and faults, made-to-order your item just for you.

While I don't know for sure, I would bet a pretty penny that Jeff Bezon, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet are not wearing suits off the rack, but rather having them made-to-order to fit them properly.

My question to readers is this, especially those self-proclaimed brand loyalist, is "a luxury brand simply a company that spends millions of dollars in advertising, while also burning millions of dollars in unsold goods, in order to justify a high-end price. Or is luxury brand one that hand makes goods just for you, with premium materials, by passionate craftsmen, but without the brand name and premium price that goes along with it.

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According to BBC, Burberry burned £90m of unsold clothes, accessories, and perfume over the last five years to protect its brand. Burning overstock goods, rather than recycling them, keeps them out of the hands of discounters, as well as saves the company in storage costs. In an oversimplification of economics, it's Burberry's solution to controlling their demand and supply curve. Unable to push demand by consumers further, by limiting supply in the open market, even if it's literally by purposefully burning goods into ashes, it pushes back the supply curve to where they can sell handbags for over $1k.

In more laymen terms, if consumers saw Burberry bags at TJ/TK Maxx or eBay for 60% off, then most consumers would stop seeing Burberry as a high-end luxury brand, especially compared to a company like Hermes were second-hand Birkin Bags still sell for at least $8-10K.

Nonetheless, this strategy has worked for Burberry, with average annual operating profits of £418m for the last five years. But while this may be an economically sound strategy, is it an ethically sound strategy.

From day one, Anne Wesley handcrafted items on a made-to-order basis because it minimizes fashion waste and, for us, a stand against fast fashion. If you're not aware, then fast fashion is fueling an environmental crisis. The clothing and textile industry is the second largest polluter in the world, following just behind oil. For a more comprehensive look, read this Newsweek Article by Alden Wicker.

While consumers would never identify Burberry as a "fast fashion" brand, its wastefulness and environment impact are no different. Additionally, if Burberry has so little hesitation to burn its unsold goods, then what actually makes them a luxury goods brand. I have yet to read that Hermes is burning Birkin and Kelly Handbags in order to manipulate supply. From my understanding, Hermes simply makes less than what the market demands.

I would argue that true luxury, at its pinnacle, is bespoke (made-to-order), regardless of the price or brand. What matters most is not only quality materials but also craftsmanship. While I believe most craftsmen would admit that most handcrafted items will never have the same finishing as factory made items, that is often what is most important. Knowing that an actual artisan, with all their skills and faults, made-to-order your item just for you.

While I don't know for sure, I would bet a pretty penny that Jeff Bezon, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet are not wearing suits off the rack, but rather having them made-to-order to fit them properly.

My question to readers is this, especially those self-proclaimed brand loyalist, is "a luxury brand simply a company that spends millions of dollars in advertising, while also burning millions of dollars in unsold goods, in order to justify a high-end price. Or is luxury brand one that hand makes goods just for you, with premium materials, by passionate craftsmen, but without the brand name and premium price that goes along with it.

Read more