… 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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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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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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Answers: On embracing and letting go

Once in a while, a friend will come out of the shadows to ask for my thoughts on a particular matter. Somehow, they know I’ll act as a sounding board and a safe place for them to share. After chatting with one such friend the other day, I asked for her permission to share our conversation, and she agreed. This is the second post in my “Answers” series.*

Hi, Chris.

I wanted to tell you how much I enjoy reading your posts. They are always insightful. I love hearing your thoughts on parenting. You are a great dad to all three boys. They are lucky to have you.

Your advice a few months ago worked with my son. Things have gotten much better. I wonder if you’d share your wisdom with me again, but on a more personal problem. In your experience/opinion/training can a person “let go” and move on from a past physical/emotional trauma without experiencing the emotions that occurred at the time of trauma? Or does a person have to relive (fully remember: physically, emotionally and mentally) the traumatic event?

Thanks in advance.

Hi, Sandra.

Thanks for your confidence in me. I don’t know if a person can truly let go of something traumatic without revisiting some of those emotions. But I do think it’s more of a side-effect than the focus. In other words, I don’t think that’s where you need to start, but it’s likely to come up in the process.

In my experience, the most effective way to release myself from something is to embrace it first. That’s difficult to do. There are different ways to go about this. If I can make the time and create the space, I like to take myself through a meditation in which I release bad or constricting energy. This can be specific or non-specific, but I like to allow my thoughts to take me where my attention is most needed.

This tends to work better for “lighter” issues. Issues that are more deep-seated are like miscellaneous debris that get mixed up in the foundational concrete. It’s removable, but can be stubborn…

I once participated in a 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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Take Care of Each Other, Goddammit: A simple, three-step guide to maintaining your sanity (Blogger Idol Week 8)

[This was my post for Week 8 of Blogger Idol. The assignment was to get on our soapboxes and write about something we feel passionately about. The original post was shared over 160 times on Facebook, received hundreds of views and received a perfect judges’ score.
Enjoy the post.]

Two-thirds of my immediate family live in another state. Three-fifths of my mom’s immediate family are deceased. I have a few friends, but most of us have moved to different towns. So when I do need help, it feels like asking too much of the few people who would be in a position to offer it, and that’s only if I suck up my pride long enough to consider asking for it. I wrote a post on this subject a few months ago called Where’s My Village?. I admitted to more than I really wanted to in that post, but for me it was worth it.

But why is that? Am I afraid of appearing weak or incapable? Why should I have so much pride? I know I’m not alone in this kind of behavior. We don’t want to be the runt of the litter, we don’t want to burden others, people have their own lives to worry about, etc.

Wait, did I really just say that? Their “own lives”? This is part of the problem. As a society, we have become increasingly independent and proud, but independence can turn into isolation. We want to be seen as strong, like we’ve “got our shit together,” but people sometimes lose their shit. And, usually, no one even sees it coming.

Ben Barnhard-AP

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

I’ve read two articles in the past handful of days about parents of kids with special needs killing their child. Murdered. And I wasn’t seeking out these articles. They just came across my desk, as it were. The first one, which I talked about in Tragedy in Maryland, was a murder-suicide. This psychiatrist and single parent to a boy with ASD couldn’t handle life anymore and decided to spare her son the trauma of losing his mother to suicide. The second article I read was about a man who decided just a few days ago to decapitate his 7-year-old son who had cerebral palsy, then left is dismembered body at the curb for garbage pick-up. Continue reading


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Paging Dr. Chach (Blogger Idol Week 6)

Here’s my Blogger Idol Week 6 post. Again, the judges liked the direction I took with it, and thanks you all of you beautiful people, I’m through to Week 7! That means I’m halfway there and I’m guaranteed at least sixth place. My goal is to make it at least to fifth place. Stay tuned this Wednesday to help me get there!

What do I want to be when I grow up? Or, what does my dream career look like?

River Stones Question MarkI’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching in this area lately. And by lately, I mean the past 15 years or so. But more so in recent history. I just took a career profiling questionnaire with my career counselor last week, but I won’t see the results until the end of this week. But what was interesting about this questionnaire were my responses to some of the questions.

I would never have thought, for example, that I’d say that I’m interested in training people on new services, or that I’d love to be a musician. (Of course I would. I just never thought it to be practical.) Yet, that’s how I answered. See, there’s always that little voice in my head telling me why I can’t (or shouldn’t) be or do something. But then, let’s think creatively for a minute, because part of me believes that there is nothing that I cannot be, do or have, but that I am limited only by my own thoughts and behaviors. Letting go, then, of those nagging little thoughts, I ask myself: What do I want?

Dr. Chach.

Buddy Christ(opher)I have this nickname (sort of–no one actually calls me this these days) that a now-lost friend once gave me: Chach. (I don’t know where it came from; he was usually on drugs…) And I have this longing to be the fun, go-to guy; the expert in the field; the guy who helps people and changes the world. I’d be Dr. Chach or just “Doc,” and I’d be a kick-ass, regular Joe kind of therapist. I’d have the coolest, funnest, “meaningfullest” group therapy sessions. I’d be the guy walking through the center shooting the ol’ point-and-wink at my clients in the lobby. Alright, I probably wouldn’t be that cheesy. Probably.

You know, they say that the quickest way to accomplish a goal or manifest a dream is to put it in present rather than future tense. With that in mind, what’s with all this “I would be” stuff? Let’s forgo the “I will be” and go straight for the “I am.”

Putting things in “the now.”

I am a published researcher and author. I’m the keynote speaker at international conferences. And I’m considered the coolest expert in my field due to my multi-faceted approach to mental health, because on top of holding a PhD in counseling or psychology, I’m also an accomplished musician and music psychotherapist. (See The Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music.) Of course, I still blog, and I have a wildly popular site about mental health from a regular Joe standpoint (cue Dr. Chach, *point-and-wink*).

And now that I’m famous for my contributions to mental health, my family and I enjoy trips to places like Machu Picchu, Tokyo, Seattle and the moon. (Hey, it’s my dream.)

Make it so.

Zen Rock Garden--So Shall It BeSo often, we fall into those pesky, negative thought patterns: I’m not experienced enough, not smart enough, not committed enough. I need training. It’s too difficult, too expensive, too time consuming. What will others think of my decisions? What if I fail? What if I let down those who depend on me? What if I succeed? What new responsibilities will I have? Will I be able to handle it?

Here’s the thing, though: our dreams (hopes) are entirely our own. Reality has no bearing on dreams. Carl Jung said, “It all depends on how we look at things, and not on how they are themselves.” Who I am today is the culmination of my own past thoughts, beliefs and actions. So today I will think, believe and act as if my dream is reality. Perception is everything.

Paging Dr. Chach.

~ Chris, from the Bungalow (https://fromthebungalow.wordpress.com/)

Judges Comments:

“I would say that you have definitely lived an eventful life and are thinking of the right things right now…and of course I too would be interested to see what the career counselor might add to the mix!”

Chris, from Dad of Divas 

“That is one doctor I would look forward to seeing. Putting yourself in the present of what you want to materialize, that is powerful stuff. I could almost see you standing at a podium in front a huge adoring audience who was hanging on your every word. Way to capture that scene and take us there with you to ‘the now.'”

Random Girl, from Random Girl Blogs

“While I was reading this post, I could almost feel you getting excited about things. I could see you sitting at your computer, typing faster and faster as you got more and more motivated to live your dream as you were telling us the story.  This was a great, motivating post.”

Heather, from My Husband Ate All My Ice Cream