… from the bungalow


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Lost Hope: On Reaching Out

On December 3, 2015, Scott Weiland, lead singer of the band Stone Temple Pilots, was found dead, apparently due to cardiac arrest. Weiland has been publicly open about his struggles with addiction, which one could assume led to heart issues down the road. But I’m not here to talk about the perils and pitfalls of addiction or the pity and compassion we should demonstrate toward those who struggle with it. In fact, I wasn’t going to write about it at all until I read the piece written by his ex-wife and the mother of his two children, Mary Forsberg Weiland, published by Rolling Stone on December 7. This is what struck me:

December 3rd, 2015, is not the day Scott Wieland died…
What [our children] truly lost on December 3rd was hope.

She went on to describe how Weiland had “replaced” his family and estranged himself from them. Now, we could all conjecture about how he must have struggled with his demons, felt guilt/shame about the divorce, etc. Whatever his reasons, no matter the explanations and underlying motivations, regardless of how valid those may be, the reality is, he was gone. This is not a judgment; Glob knows I’m in no place to cast stones. I’m just coming from a mindset of working with what is.

Personal demons, drugs, depression? These things can make it functionally impossible for someone to reach out for help or change their behavior. If there’s one thing I hate about western society, it’s the notion of independence. We are mostly tribal–not independent–beings. It’s to be expected in a culture in which dependence is synonymous with weakness that we’d shy away from reaching out to others. This goes both ways: asking for help or giving it. To me, the worse evil is to not reach out to someone you know is struggling; they may not see it. Yes, you might offend the person, but you know what? Being offended is way preferable to leaving your kids without a father and without hope.

Because here’s the thing about people who need help but get angry when you offer it: Continue reading

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2014 Donna Day: On loss, regret, and taking action

I’ve missed a lot of opportunities. I have regrets. When my mom’s health was declining after her ALS diagnosis, I thought I’d have plenty of time to see her, to talk to her, to ask her about her best and worst parenting moments. I was wrong. I missed out on so much. That’s something I’ll feel continuously for the rest of my life.

On her birthday this year (February 13, 2014), I had this to say:

You know what really sucks? That the gentlest, most caring person I’ve ever known shouldn’t get to celebrate her 57th birthday. That her husband shouldn’t get to shower her with flowers and gifts, or her children and grandchildren call her or take her out for breakfast. That she shouldn’t get to hear for another year, another day, that she means the world to some people. To me.

“Yeah, it feels like the world has grown cold now that you’ve gone away.”

Although she would say she had no regrets about how and when any of us kids were conceived, I know she regretted a lot about her life. She was trapped, chained, and held captive by her own lack of self-worth. She never finished college and was consistently paid less than she was worth in non-fulfilling jobs. I like to think that, had it not been for her crippling self-consciousness and abysmal self-esteem, my mom would have been a singer/dancer.

I like to imagine her as carefree, moving her limbs expressively with the wind, singing like no one was listening. Really, I think that’s the kind of life she wanted for her kids and grandkids. Before she died, she said that she wanted Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance” played at her funeral. That was her farewell message to her grandchildren.

Since then, I’ve felt so weak and checked out of life more times than I can count. I’ve wanted to leave, just quit living. But then sometimes, out of nowhere, I’ll hear “Brave” by Sara Bareilles, and it’s like my mom is there, telling me to keep living and thriving. It’s not how she lived her own life, yet I feel like it’s what she wanted for me. I’m not brave, though. I want to build a nest and bury myself in it until I forget, until I’m forgotten.

But that’s not what my mom wanted for me. She’d want me to be brave, to speak up, to be an advocate and a champion, to be the empathetic, strong yet sensitive human being she helped create. She’d want me to speak up.

I will not miss this opportunity. I almost didn’t do anything for 2014 Donna Day. By now, you’re probably wondering what this post has to do with Donna at all. Continue reading


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Some thoughts on the R-word and what you can do

The R-Word

Today I read an article on The Good Men Project titled “I Challenged a Famous Ethicist… And Changed His Mind.” As I left my comment on the post thanking Kari Wagner-Peck for taking a stance against the R-word, I wondered if I should mention that I also have a son with an intellectual disability.

Why even consider it? Would it lend credibility to my comment? Worse, would it diminish the sincerity of my gratitude because her actions indirectly benefit me and my son? I opted to leave it out in favor of brevity.

But it left me wondering… If I didn’t have The Little Professor, would I care about the R-word so much?

I’d like to believe that I’d take a stance against it even if I didn’t have a personal stake in it. It takes character to stand up for others even when there’s no obvious personal investment. The thing is, there’s always personal investment when the well-being of others is involved. We’re all connected.

Is this an altruistic stance? Technically speaking.

Is it self-serving? To an extent, sure.

Is it the right thing to do? Absolutely.

What You Can Do

Spread the Word to End the Word is a collaborative effort between Special Olympics and Best Buddies to “raise the consciousness of society about the dehumanizing and hurtful effects of the R-word and encourage people to pledge to stop using the R-word” (Murphy & Schatz, 2013). If you choose to do so, you may pledge your support as I did.

Peace, love, and understanding.


Chris

Reference

Murphy, M. & Schatz, H. (2013). Spread the Word to End the Word Fact Sheet. Retrieved from http://www.r-word.org/r-word-resources.aspx/



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Movember Madness or: Why I didn’t do the ‘stache

Surely, you’ve noticed the mustachioed men (and women and children and pets and cars and coffee mugs and fingernails and …). You probably know what that’s about. If you don’t, here’s some info about Movember. (I particularly recommend browsing member-submitted photos.)

movember

A couple of posts that got my attention this morning come from The McGill Daily and  Dad All Day (DAD).

Mr. Heddad of The McGill Daily wrote a persuasive piece on the nature of Movember as microaggression. Heddad writes:

The pure and charitable sentiment is there – raising money for prostate and testicular cancer research, and fighting mental health problems among men – but what once started out as a harmless campaign has become sexist, racist, transphobic, and misinformed.

DAD responded by explaining why “everybody needs to chill the fu*k out!”

I think there’s a happy medium to be found. Here was my response in an online bloggers’ group… Continue reading


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My mom passed away.

Friends, I need your help.

Last spring I learned I would lose my mom to ALS, as I wrote about here.

Three days ago, she took a sudden, serious turn for the worse. She passed away while I was on my way to say goodbye. When I arrived, I lay on the bed next to her and cried until I couldn’t force out another breath.

I am carrying a heavy load right now, weighed down by grief and the responsibility of planning my mom’s funeral so much sooner than anyone expected.

This is where I need your help. I have set up a fund here to help defray costs of my mom’s funeral. If you are able to contribute a few dollars, it would be more helpful than my family and I can find the words for right now. It is difficult and humbling to ask, because I know you are shouldering your own burdens.

I don’t know what’s ahead. What I do know, even in the depths of mourning, is that I am grateful for your support these past several months, and now. It is sustaining in the face of such enormous grief.

Thank you for helping hold me up through sorrow. Even in mourning, I know I am blessed.

Thank you, Mom, for teaching me about love, compassion, and acceptance.
I love you.

 

Denise L. Tucker 13 February 1957 - 7 June 2013

Denise L. Tucker
13 February 1957 – 7 June 2013

Thank you so much.

Chris

 

Donate here if you can.


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Chicago, Round Two: A St. Baldrick’s Post

Going Bald, Raising Funds

One year ago, my wife and I (and Deb, along with many others) made good on a commitment to shave our heads (read about our decision to do that here) while friends, family, and complete strangers alike gave their money to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation to fund childhood cancer research. Here are the before and after photos:

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Amazing People

We did it all for Donna. The experience was incredible. We finally got to meet Continue reading


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Donna Day 2013: Hair Grows Back

Donna looking to side

Friends, I’ve been working on this project for a long time, and today is the day it sees light. I wish I had more energy right now to write about Donna, the amazing little girl to whom this video is dedicated, but I think I’ll let the video do the talking. (It’s now after 5 a.m. I’ve been up all night and I have to leave for work in 2 hours.) If you’re not sure who Donna is, or want to catch up on my previous post about her (which was Freshly Pressed, I might add) and why Karin and I shaved our heads, please read this.

Enjoy!

Continue reading