… 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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Stop hate. Love yourself.

You know what makes me sad? I mean really, deeply sad?

Self-Hatred

Maybe you grew up with a low sense of self-worth.

Maybe affection was withheld except on those occasions when you wore a handsome shirt or a pretty dress, or when you earned an “A” because “a ‘B’ is good, but you can do better.”

Maybe you were labeled “lazy” or “selfish.”

Maybe you started to believe and even repeat those messages to yourself.

Maybe you developed unhealthy coping mechanisms to replace the need for affection or acceptance.

Maybe you started to wish you were different, or someone else entirely, or non-existent.

Maybe you began to hurt yourself, physically or emotionally.

Maybe you learned berate yourself for not being “enough.”

And maybe–just maybe–you are

Maybe there’s a light in you that feels small.

Maybe that light has big dreams.

Maybe that light knows everything about love and nothing about fear.

Maybe that light wants, needs, to expand…
to be free…
to love freely.

Maybe that light isn’t in you.

Maybe that light is you.

Continue reading


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It’s Not You, It’s Me

Well, I’ve done it again. I’ve somehow removed myself from the one thing that’s been a sure source of motivation and inspiration in my life lately: my blog.

You could argue that your significant other or your kids or nature hikes or what-have-you are sources of happiness, but they’re not. Not really. It’s the way we perceive those people and events, how we process and engage in those experiences and interactions. Our happiness is directly proportional to our compound ability and willingness to perceive goodness. In other words, it’s not you, it’s me.  It seems too simple to be accurate, but I believe it fully, at least for myself. Unfortunately, I have the willingness, but not always the ability. And as we all know, anything multiplied by zero is zero.

How could you question the validity of such a high-quality, professional-looking graph? You can’t.

But I’m trying. God help me, I’m trying.

I’ve been mentally flogging myself for Continue reading


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‘If Only I Had the Time’ and Other Excuses for Being Unhappy

If only I didn’t work a full-time job 35 minutes away from home…
If only I weren’t so tired at night…
If only the kids weren’t so demanding…
If only I had a laptop and faster internet service…

If only I had the time…

The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali

The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali. Source: http://www.moma.org/collection/object.php?object_id=79018

Excuses. Distractions. Dwelling on what’s already happened or has yet to happen, forever ignoring the “right now.” Sound familiar?

If I had to put a number on it, I’d estimate that 8-15% of my time during any given 168-hour period (that’s a week for those of you who may not be as mathy as I) is available for use as I see fit. That’s roughly 13-25 hours per week. (See previous post: Striking a Balance.)

25 hours sounds like a lot, but it’s half as much time as I spend at work. And by “at work,” I mean actually working, driving to work, driving home, taking potty breaks, pretending to work, or sleeping with my eyes open at my desk. And Facebook. Let’s not forget Facebook, for Pete’s sake.

But so many of those 13-25 weekly “free” hours are seemingly frittered away on things like putting out metaphorical fires (like  breaking up arguments between any combination of our three boys or making a second or third grocery store run that week) or being depressed and/or pissy. Lousy SAD.

So let’s pretend for a minute Continue reading


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With Love from Dad: An open letter to my three kids

This post is dedicated to all the dads/parents who desperately love their kids, but have a hard time seeing through the visual din of life with depression.

Dear kids,

I have not been the kind of dad  that I want to be. In fact, I am not the man I thought I’d be in many ways. I walk through life viewing the world around me like a movie. I come home from work feeling like a zombie, only to spend a few hours in a house that doesn’t feel like my own. I am disengaged; from work, from you, from life in general.

I wish I could say that I’m doing the best I can with the resources I have, but I’m not sure I’m even doing that. I could spend five minutes each morning in silent meditation. I could talk to a doctor about medication options. I could exercise once in a while, even if it’s just running up and down the stairs for two minutes. I could go to bed half an hour earlier. There are plenty of things I could do; things of which I am fully aware that could have a positive affect on me and, subsequently, on you. By that same token, there are plenty of reasons I could cite for my apparent inability to do and be more, but they would be excuses.

The fact of the matter is: I have let you down, and I am sorry. Continue reading


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Tragedy in Maryland

I read an article today that just about wrecked me. I considered for a moment sharing it on the wall of my Facebook page, but decided it deserved more attention than that. This touches on two topics that are very important to me: special needs and suicide.

This is obviously not a reporting blog, so I’m not going to report on this article so much as share it, along with some of my thoughts, and hope to open a dialogue. The headline of The Huffington Post’s August 8, 2011, article read, “Margaret Jensvold, Maryland Mom Who Killed Son Ben Barnhard, Agonized Over School Costs.” You can read the article here.

Ben Barnhard

An undated photo provided by the Barnhard family shows Ben Barnhard. (AP Photo/Barnhard Family)

This is devastating. The divorced mom, a psychiatrist, was completely overwhelmed emotionally and financially while caring for her son with special needs. The school she placed him in cost around $50,000 per year. Apparently mired in despair, she wrote a note about being unable to handle the education system, and that she wanted to spare her son the lifelong trauma of losing a parent to suicide. She then shot her son in the head, then killed herself.

That last sentence makes me feel ill. Typing it felt wrong. This is not a reflection of judgment. This is my reaction as a parent of a child with special needs. Without judgment, then, and in the interest of self-awareness, here are my thoughts:

Firstly, logic (in my mind) does not allow for this outcome. The thought of taking my own life, if I were to entertain such a thought, is immediately thwarted by the thought of my children’s lives. If I were to then think of taking their lives (my fingers are resisting even typing this right now) in order to “spare” them from the trauma of losing their dad, I’m pretty sure I’d immediately throw up. And since I wouldn’t put them through the trauma of losing their dad, nothing would happen. It’s as simple as an “if, then, else” statement. Value=false.

However, I’m also not going to sit here and condemn her, not that I’m justifying in any way what she did. But I cannot even fathom the extent of her despair to not only consider that the death of her son and herself was the only option, but to actually act on it. It’s unimaginable, and it’s beyond tragic.

As difficult as things get with my own special little guy, there is nothing–nothing–that would bring me to that place. OK, that part sounds a bit like a judgment, but it’s my personal stance, and I’ll stand by it.

What are your thoughts about/reactions to this?

~ Chris

P.S. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 1-800-273-TALK.


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I’ll Know My Name As It’s Called Again

I’m just not feelin’ it today. I had wanted to write last night about how amazing and magical my life is, and how I’m helping to create a successful blended family, but my stupid depression keeps creeping in lately. So I thought, I shouldn’t write today. I can’t get my head into it and it will just be boring and dumb anyway.

Do you ever do this? Classic depression. You have a desire to do something, but some jerkface in your head immediately tells you why it’s a bad idea. It won’t work. You’re no good. And it stops you in your tracks before Continue reading