Under Pressure

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Dum dum dum da da dum dum
Dum dum dum da da dum dum
Dum dum dum da da dum dum
Dum dum dum da da dum dum

In 1981, this baseline opened up the classic Under Pressure, written and performed by David Bowie and Queen, fronted by virtuoso vocalist Freddy Mercury (it was later on sampled and used in 1991 by Rob Van Winkle, better known as Vanilla Ice. If you don’t know what song I am referring to…that makes me sad…).

The opening lyrics to the song are:
Pressure pushing down on me
Pressing down on you no man ask for
Under pressure that burns a building down
Splits a family in two
Puts people on streets”

We can all relate to that sort of feeling. Well at least I can. Even the coolest cucumber among your tribe of friends feels some sort of pressure, a downward sense of “I don’t know what to do here.” Pressure comes from multiple sources. Here are mine (see if you have any that are similar):

Family – being present when present (which I am currently contradicting by writing these thoughts while Ellie and Liam play at my feet), being a leader in my home, serving my family through my actions.
Work – helping people reach new levels of potential, menial tasks that still matter in the long run, long term planning and short term actions.
Financial – paying off debt, saving, investing
Physical – resting, working out, staying groomed (though #beardwatch continues, suckas!!!)
Spiritual – Growing in my faith intake, making moments for faith outputs
…And more and more and more…

I’ve learned that pressure comes from inside (we know what we NEED to be doing and we want to get there) and outside (those who watch us either place on us expectations OR we, out of insecurities, try to impress others through living for them) but its born out of a need to make ends meet and make due. When we are kids, it’s the pressure for grades and accomplishments planned out by parents and coaches. When we are older, it’s bosses, spouses and other achievers. It is always there. And those pressures, when left alone or added to can kill a job opportunity, kill a family and ultimately, kill a person.

This fall, I felt that sort of pressure in a way I never had before. Some staff changes had me move into interim roles that added to my workload, left me with less home time and pulled me way beyond my regular threshold. So to keep myself ALIVE, here are some things I have tried to incorporate into my life, especially as this fall turned into a winter with more responsibilities on my plate (knowing that all of these things start with a heart to live out Mark 12:29-31 as my launchpad).

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#Beardwatch: Shot to the BEARD & You’re to blame…

                         It’s been 4 months since I first decided to grow my beard for a full year and this last month has been the best one yet. Why? Christmas jokes! I’m hearing a lot of “You should be Santa Claus/Black Santa” comments and while the majority of them aren’t creative, they are still quite funny. My barber has never worked on a beard before of this magnitude (pop POP!) before so he’s quite ‘jazzed‘ by this challenge and my now 1-year-old son takes to my beard like rope to pull himself up from whatever mess he has made in our home.

There are still some beard haters, though…the ‘You should look clean-shaved‘ people.’ Example:

          But to quote the quotable Sean ‘Puffy/Puff/Puff Daddy/P-Diddy/Diddy’ Combs, “Can’t nobody beard me down/Oh no/I gotta keep on moving!” Haters will beardhate© (copyright pending) all day, so you know what I say? Hate the Haters…With love. Boom. I just bearded your mind. Even Wifey*is warming up to the beard life.

(*Okay, she’s not but she’s much better now that she was at the beginning.)

Things I need to do more of in the meantime:

  • More Flickr pics. I think I overshot doing it all the time everyday, as I started to, then fizzled out. My friend Steffan advised on that I should have listened. There you go, Watson. You were right. And if the Spurs win the NBA Finals, you’ll hear me say that again.
  • More #beardwatch tweets. Quotes, thoughts, beard stats…I have to keep the #beard alive.
  • Start working out. That has nothing to do with #beardwatch. But I start at the gym tomorrow. Please pray.
  • Buy some lumberjack shirts. And a thermos. And become more outdoors-y. I know I look like a hipster wannabe, but inside me is a person who wants to camp, cut down trees and who am I kidding, I’m writing this while waiting for a Gingerbread Latte.

All to say, the beard life is a good life. It IS weird though to grow a beard  during Movember. Movember is a great cause to raise awareness (and funds) towards research for prostate cancer and male mental health initiatives where men of different races, ages and stages of puberty look like creeps by growing moustaches for the month of November. And so because I have a beard, many people ask “Are you doing Movember?”, to which I have to reply “No”, which signifies I’m sure: “Yes, I love facial hair. Yes, I am a narcissist. No, I do not care about Movember’s mission…I just look like a hobo because I WANT too.” (And for the record, I am a major fan of Movember and why it exists. Check out my latest blog on mental illness and it’s affects on our family here.)

But the thought of growing my beard FOR something other than my own resolve has struck a chord in me since attending Catalyst in October (I can’t shave it now…I made WAY too much of a deal when I started!). And so my second quest, apart from the beard, is to find an organization to support with my #beardwatch. Because I think there’s something cool about using everything about you to be able to help someone else.

Even your beard.

So send your suggestions here!

Chris

Question: what part of you life have seen as unusable to help others? How can you start making those areas available?

PS: Here are some cool beard sites and links provided by great #beardwatch supporters. Check them out!

#beardwatch update – 2 months

I never thought this would happen but I have something in common with women.

Ladies, you know that point where you wanna grow your hair out just a bit to have it at that style you want? But that in-between time is the worst? Cause your hair isn’t what you want it to be just yet? And so you ponytail it? Or wear weird beanie hats? Or get hair extensions?

Yup. I’m there. Except it’s not my hair, it’s my beard hair(?) and if I try to pony tail my beard it wouldn’t be pretty.

Yes, it’s been two months since my weird project of growing my beard out for the sake of growing my beard out. At home, it’s simply become a part of what we do so much that we don’t really mention it unless Liam grabs at it for fun. My sister came into town and when she saw me she said, “You look like James Harden“, which as you know is the inspiration for this project, and I simply smiled and said, “yup.” Don’t get me wrong, I still love it and can’t wait to see how it turns out, but the in-between time is…well, boring. At least it was, until I attended Catalyst in Atlanta, a Christian church leadership conference that houses 13,000+ people. Pretty cray.

Now why would Catalyst inspire my #beardwatch non-vanity project (cause a beard ain’t vain, y’all!), you ask? Simply put: there were SO MANY COOL BEARDS THERE!!! I mean it was amazing. It was so crazy, I started going up to random dudes and asking to take their picture so I could add it to this blog. My line would go like this:

“Hey, I love you beard! Can I get a picture with it? My wife thinks growing a beard is stupid and this will show her that it’s not!” 

And they would. And it was awesome. I had 15+ pics. My APC friends and I would, by the end of the day, look for people and judge their beards on whether they were blog worthy. I even met a guy who was growing his beard for missions (He’d cut it when he raised a certain amount of money for a worthy cause…made me rethink my efforts. More to come on that thought). It was so much fun. Until I lost my phone. With all the pictures.

Now it sucks for two reasons: 1) Now I look like a creeper who just wanted weird beard pics (I told them about my Flickr account AND my blog. Oops!) and 2)…no, I think the first one covers it all. But just seeing those beards on white and black men alike helped me in a great way. The in-between stage is the time between the valley and the mountain and its the journey that makes the story, not the destination.

And now, I can appreciate the journey. And the loads of grey hairs I’m finding in this thing. Crazy.

Over and Beard,

Chase

PS. The conference itself was amazing. I tried to do a full on recap blog but my brain is still trying to work through all the info. Here’s what I know: God is good, a lot of people want to serve him and share him with others, Tripp and Tyler are one funny comedy duo, I have a new found love for Kid President and Michael W. Smith, I liked the labs more than the arena conference (and the Arena part was amazing…at full one hunned, son, so that is saying A LOT!) AND Americans REALLY love doing the Cupid Shuffle.

And now so do I…and my daughter.

PPS. I did email Becca ONE picture while I was away at Catalyst to show you what dudes were carrying. His was a year old. A year.

Married to a Mumbler (A Marriage Story)

THIS IS A CONVO THAT HAPPENS OFTEN IN THE HOME OF THE CHASES

Chris: Hey hon…where the ________________? (choose whatever)

Wifey: mmh meme muummgmn, mhm memem mhemmm.

C: Pardon me?

W: mdmmmmm mmmmmm mmmmmm mmmmmmmm

C: (To himself) …uh…umm…ooo-kay…I’ll just…dang…

Liam: Da-da-da-da (fart)!

____________________________

This summarizes many of the conversations I have with Wifey on a daily basis. Now not all of them are like that. A lot of them are full-voiced and filled with beautiful syntax, structure and substance. Some end with laughter. Others, with meaningful pauses and lingering gazes. And still others with loud points made and the cries of “Ha! I win!” that follow.

But yeah, in a lot of them, I have no clue what Wifey is saying. Here’s a summary of why this is (or rather why I believe this is):

  1. Wifey has a naturally soft voice. I THINK I’ve only heard her yell at me once. She’s been justifiably mad a bunch  but yelling isn’t her thing. Which makes me very afraid for the day she breaks and yells out.
  2. Wifey has a naturally higher voice. Now when I say I don’t mean squeaky high or chalkboard high, just higher.
  3. Wifey is a “baby of the family”-last of three child. I think that all younger siblings develop that “Talk under your breath”-thing so they don’t get beaten up or something. I’m no clinical psychologist but that’s my opinion. It’s easy to say whatever you want (good, bad, nice, mean) in a lower grumble.
  4. I am naturally hard of hearing. This is both in being stubborn AND in what I hear. Years of big headphones and loud base filled tunes have wrecked my ears. As for being stubborn…I got nothing.

So you can imagine the frustration Wifey must feel when she asks something of me and I can’t respond because I’m not sure what she said. ALSO: She, like many people, hates repeating herself! So that’s never fun to say, “What?” (Ever notice that when people repeat themselves, the tone is much more “You’re a deaf dummy!!” Or is that just me?)

So with every mumbled statement made, I have different responses that I can make, with each have different results.

  1. Pretend Like Nothing Was Said (Times used: 25%. Fear of reveal: 80%. Percentage of wifey’s anger: 90%). So in this scenario, I just walk around FULLY knowing she said something but out of either fear of asking again OR being too lazy/tired at the time to re-ask the question, I say nothing. This then consists of me walking around or strategically playing with the kids, who are always loud and therefore blocking my ears. This always works by leaving the room.
  2. Guess what was being said (Times used: 15%. Amounts of times incorrect: 60%). This is a good one if you’re not worry about being wrong. My natural response is to often say, “I thought you said…” which is responded with a “Why would I say that?!” Which is always true.
  3. Stand, Pause and Wait for a Repeat (Times used: 30%. Frustrated glances from Wifey: 70%). How annoying would that be? Just having me stand around you, not doing anything waiting for you to say, “Did you HEAR me?!” Never a good one to choose. I really should change my approach here.
  4. Get sarcastic and mad (Times used: way more than I should). This is when I’m tired at my wits and I’m thinking “Just a bit louder, puleeze!” Any negative response I receive based on this when I’m called out on it is fully deserved. Plus, it’s a bad example for my kids to see, Wifey to feel and me to be. Trill
  5. Respond by saying “What?!” (Times used: It’s my default! Classic response: eyeroll and repetition). This one has  the right intentions but wrong delivery.
  6. Mumbling back. This is never a good one. This is when it get really immature on my part. I tend to do this more when I know Wifey may be saying something that she actually doesn’t want to say allowed.
  7. Just asking (Times used: 5 to 7%. Residual effect: Minimal). I get nervous about asking, which is dumb because she is my best friend but when I do, while there might be some annoyance, getting the task done is better than not. Plus, I know that she knows that she mumbles at times, so I should give her the fairness of simply asking. PLUS, I have MANY more hangups than that! I am talking many.

Being married to a mumbler is “tough“, and by tough I mean funny enough to blog about, but not as tough as other issues found in marriages. I think it’s fair to be real about stuff like this though. Just like she would be on how I didn’t help her find her keys, once. We, and by we I mean couples, never talk aloud about the little things, which often makes openings for the BIG things. And in  my doing so here, it’s not as a complaint (trust me, I told her about this post and she laughed at it and said okay, especially since I’m showing off my immaturity) but more in a “You know a funny thing Wifey does that I feel fine sharing with you is…”-type way. I do know that I am very fortunate to be with someone as funny, talented, forgiving and creative as her. In two weeks it’ll be seven years of her accepting and putting up with me, not the other way around. We do get on each other’s nerves at times (as other young couples do at times) but in the end, Chase loves Brown (maiden name) For Life.

Even if many-a-times I have NO clue what she’s saying.

More than likely, she’s talking about the beard.

PS. Ellie is a lil Mumbler too, which makes for fun moments too!

If you have a similar story, I’d love to have some dialogue with you on it. Leave a comment OR email me at cchase101@gmail.com. We’ve all got a story, so let’s share them. Also, feel free to subscribe to this blog by clicking the “subscribe me” button. Thanks – Chase

I Hate Chris Chase (Based on a True Story)

The other day while I was fabrezing my beard, I logged onto my WordPress to see the movement of my latest post. While doing this I noticed something quite…unnerving. Someone did a google search for me. Now before you say, “Calm down there Mr. Narcissist!” Look at what the search was (this is not made up):

Now that’s pretty crazy, isn’t it? First, I’m not google worthy. Secondly, HATE? Wowzers! Like the person couldn’t even just search my name or my work or something but that they actually “Hate Chris Chase.” And it’s not general hate. Nor is it invitational hate (as in Let’s hate…). It is personal hate…and its something that I’m sure they didn’t expect I’d ever see.

So I saw that and my mind went racing to figure out who would do such a thing. I mean…I am loud and while not as loud as I used to be, I do get up there in volume. I sometimes put my foot in my mouth at the pain of others, but I am much better at saying sorry now than I was back in the day. Could it be someone from my old youth group (I do wish I had more friends from that time in my life at times but life is what it is…)? Someone who I spited accidentally or maybe purposely? Could it be Frank Grimes (go to 0.21)? So then who could it be…this really bugged me,

Because no matter how confident you are, especially if your identity isn’t found in yourself, or something/one else but rather in Christ, you still want to be liked or even loved by others. Call me weak. I call it human. We’re all built for relationships. No one is above wanting to be accepted. Even snobs want love. Even bullies want love. Bullies bully cause they don’t know how to ask for love. And when you find out someone doesn’t like you, most of us, when we’re alone get really bothered by it, even if for a split second. And trust me, it sucks (if I had a dime for how many time I got blamed for a friendship flame out i’d have at least 25 cents). The weak part is when you can’t get over it, i guess.

So I got pretty sad. Then angry. Then wanting to find a way to track the person down and simply ask them why…then I decided to create a back story for this person…and that made me laugh a lot. Cause it was good.

Then, after 3 hours  (or so…) of laughing to myself I realized that I wasted my time on this person’s  anger/resentment/unforgiveness/fear/narcissism/sad googling/mistake (hard to believe but there is more than just 1 Chris Chase in the world) and realized that “haters gonna hate”, I guess. And even if their anger is justified (albeit not gone about in a healthy manner) I’m no better if I sit there and hate them back or even dwell on their hate. So, I decided to leave it. Until I blogged about it…and went through it again. But now I’m fine…i think…lol.

 

I guess the beard really isn’t for everyone. Real Talk.

…And to my friend, the googler…It’s all good. Thanks for reading the blog anyhow. Hopefully we can make amends one day. And if not, I hope you have diarrhea for a month

…kidding:)

(*added today) I guess I also have to admit that we all have hate in our hearts too. I mean we all don’t like/trust/accept people. There are some we connect with and others who we don’t as…easily. I need to work on that in MY life as well. Love (and hate) is a two way street…

PS. The beard lives on. The beard drinks hate and produces grey hairs of wisdom.

PPS. I normally have my phone on vibrate but when it’s on loud, this is my ring tone – 

If you have a similar story, I’d love to have some dialogue with you on it. Leave a comment OR email me at cchase101@gmail.com. We’ve all got a story, so let’s share them. Also, feel free to subscribe to this blog by clicking the “subscribe me” button. Thanks – Chase

#beardwatch at one week

So the quest for the greatest beard ever started a week ago. It’s been 7 days and so far so good. I’ve gotten a lot of comments about it already which have been fun along with a challenger who believes his beard, in a year, will be better than mine. Well Drew Oliphant, consider yourself the silver medalist in this two person beard dance. Love you, dude but you’re gonna lose. Don’t believe? Check out the site bro!

So I thought in this post, I’d talk a little bit about my rules, my hair process and my upcoming difficulties because of my beard. Let’s go!!!

1- My Grooming Rules:

On Sunday, one of my buddies asked me if I had cut my beard at all since I started and I told him yes. His suggestion was that I should then start from scratch from the day I cut my beard. My good friend failed to understand what is known by us urban folks as “Goin’ for a touch up“. What is that you ask? Well I will tell you!

A touch up is simply cleaning up the lines on the face to keep the main parts looking neat without actually cutting the girth of the beard off. Kids used to do this when they wanted to grow their hair out for braids or huge fro but still look good and not bruck up (def: unkept). So with my beard, I will never cut the goatee portion or the hairs closest to it. However the sideburns area can be trimmed to keep with some neatness. The reality is, I have a job where at times I need to stand in front of people and so I should look somewhat decent…even with a HUGE face carpet!

2 – My hair:

The hardest thing about this beard will be that black hair will never grow as fast my caucasian friends. And my hair is curly and not straight. Knowing this, I spend a lot of time combing out my beard. I know how weird that sounds but I do it at LEAST 6 times a day. Now I can do this while typing this blog, watching TV, reading a book, throne-ning it…you name it, I can do it! I’m always picking this thing out. I remember way back when I grew out my hair to have braids and it went from tight curls to straight. That is what I am anticipating. It’s already happening in the chin region…now for the jaw!

I also have to shampoo it too, which is a weird feeling. Soon…conditioner. I’m three steps away from a curling iron.

3 – Upcoming Difficulties

I have a black tie wedding in December that normally I’d be clean-cut for…and I will be tempted to cut it. Also, I always get poutine cheese stuck in this thing. And I have a wife who will hate this more and more as this continues. Lastly, I will be venturing into hipster territory soon (the large frame glasses, color jeans and nonchalant rapport doesn’t help either). I’m not trying to be a hipster…which is again venturing to hipster territory. Also, I made fun of a friend named Mitch Pitt for having a thick beard. And when he sees me, he’s gonna throw it on me in a bad way. And lastly, Easter plays…

I’m sure more will come up but we’ll see.

____________

Well, that’s all for now! I’ll save more stuff for next week as the #beardwatch continues!!!! I’d love, if you’re a reader, for email questions that I can answer here on some posts. Email me at cchase101@apchurch.com and maybe your question might get picked!!!

#beardwatch – The Quest for the Awesome Beard

Hello reader!

Yesterday I made a big decision. One that will rock my home and bring unnecessary tension between wifey and I. One that will bring weird comments from friends who say more than they need too. One that will bring fear into the minds of people I don’t know. And one that will cause barbers all over the GTA to wonder aloud, “Dude, what are you doin‘?”

Here was my decision via twitter:

Yup. I want to grow my beard out something fierce. Why? No real reason other that why not. Now I’ve done this once before. After September/early October of last year, I didn’t cut my hair or beard until Liam was born. But I didn’t keep it kept, didn’t fresh my hair or anything. I looked, how do I say…rough?!

Anyhow, this time around, I have a template. A hero if you will: NBA star and recent USA Basketball Olympic Gold Medalist James Harden. Here’s a pic of him, along with Kevin Durant and Melo Anthony. James is in the middle.

Pretty awesome, eh? Now, he’s been growing this for a couple of years now (since 2009, to be accurate…4 years, boi!) so I’m not expecting to be at that level in 3 months. However, I am hoping that by then, Wifey will have given up on getting me to shave it and simply added this to the long list of her long sufferings as my wife. By then, i’ll be smooth growing; apart from the itchiness, the curly sideburn hair that won’t straighten without a black man’s brush, the grey hairs that are becoming more pronounced and the possible never getting hugs from anyone in my home (though I am sure Liam will have fun pulling it for sport).

I also plan to, for as long as I can, keep my faux hawk. I went to the barbershop recently and my barber and I both commented on how my hair isn’t growing fast,  a sign of old age, I guess. Since then, I’m doing what I did when I wanted braids: always picking my hair out. And it has worked so far. I am quite excited.

So along with trying to read more, get to the gym, be a better man in my home and save up to buy a life size robot, I will be on #beardwatch. Each week (or so) I will be posting a beard pic (some in different locations, some with the kids, some very repetitive…okay most will be…), to keep my progress on file. This will be fun.

I also hope to talk with James Harden via twitter or email in the next months or so to hear from him on how he did it for so long. That would ALMOST make me switch teams from LA to OK…nah, not happening!

Let the early mid-life crisis begin!!!

Chase
PS. Basketball talk pt 1: I am really nervous that the Dwight Howard Laker thing won’t work. Call me a pessimist but the only thing more spectacular than a ring in LA is combustion in LA: both get headlines, one gets TV movie’d.

PPS. Basketball talk pt 2: I hate to admit this…LeBron is great. I want to vomit now…all over my computer and children. Yuck.