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 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.

Random Thoughts for This Day…

…It’s quite disturbing that people still use rollerblades to travel. It’s so impractical: You need to have shoes in a bag THEN carry your blades everywhere? Dumb.

…Four Weddings on TLC is one of my favorite new shows. You know its good, man.

#seewhatIdidthere is my new favorite hashtag, especially when it makes no sense at all to what I’m trying to say…seewhatIdidthere? Exactly my point.

…So people still use pay phones? Does that mean that I should bring back out my pager? Cause THAT won’t make me look creepy at ALL, right?

…Facebook isn’t cool anymore.

…I’m really loving reading 2 Psalms a day (aka #2aday). If you’re not doing it yet, you should try it out.

…The Dark Knight Rises is…I have no words…

…I think I’m enjoying bright skinny jeans more than I should. I tell ya, I’m the straight black Blaine from Glee.

…Being back on Twitter has made blogging random thoughts a bit harder because now they’re being tweeted rather than blogged.

…As we get older everything gets too loud.

…I really need to use “bro” more in sentences and greetings.

…I wish we knew more possible babysitters in our area so Becca and I could do more dates. I miss dating my wife. There’d be a problem if I didn’t.

…I need a summer TV show to go with my 30 for 30 documentaries…any ideas or suggestions?

…LeBron winning a championship is a direct reminder that games aren’t won on the floor. They’re won in executive suits by old dudes who were good at calculus or finding oil. But by no means am I hating.

…Dark Knight Rises…Dark Knight Rises…Dark Knight Rises…Dark Knight Rises…Dark Knight Rises…

…If I could travel back in time, I’d go back to 3 mins ago and plugged my laptop so it wouldn’t die mid sen

Dealing With Boys (Letter to Ellie)

Boys Suck!!

Something that will bug me forever, Eliana, is that you will one day like boys. Even worse: boys will like you. A lot. You’re funny, pretty, smart, creative, confident (just today when mom asked you if you’re silly, you said, “No, I’m beautiful!”)…the list goes on. And while I will already hate the boy who marries you (kinda), I feel that it is my responsibility to give you the inside track on the majority of guys (there are some exceptions, but in many areas, we’re all the same) and what you need to watch out for.

Now I don’t worry about you ever having to stand up for yourself (the other day at day care, I saw you push a boy over when he tried to give you a hug. The fact that it was during bible story time, is besides the point.). But as you get older, a boy will take your attention and possibly break your heart. And it’ll suck. So before that happens, here are some things about boys you need to know.

1 – Boys Suck

Just right off the bat, they do. All of them.

2 – Boys are smelly

They all sweat a lot, some smell a lot worse than others but the all smell. Really bad.

3 – Boys live in a land of passive aggressiveness

You think you know what they are thinking or how they are feeling. You ask them for their opinion and they hem and haw at you. They get mad but mumble under their breath. They ignore you because they don’t know how to express themselves but desperately want your attention. Is he mad at you? At life? Just quiet? Is he a vampire? Rarely will you know how they feel and when you do, you’re sorry you found out. They know what, or who they want…it just takes them a while to know how to ask for it. (See Edward from Twilight…or so I’m told…).

4 – A lot of boys have dad issues

Boys will try to be just like or completely unlike their dad. A lot of what they are trying to find on the path to manhood has to do with figuring out how their dad feels about them (because THEIR dad never knew how their OWN dad felt about them…you see, men only do as they’ve experienced…). (When you’re old enough, see Good Will Hunting).

5 – A lot of boys are scared

They will never say it because men are to be heroes, leaders, soldiers and athletes (when’s the last time you saw a guys accountant or psychologist action figure?), but underneath it all, they fear. They fear failing, commitment, getting over their issues, never making it, being broke, doing life wrong, living in regret, growing up, zombies…you name it. When you meet “him” ask him what he’s scared of. If he says nothing, he’s a liar. If he says, “I don’t fear because_________”, he’s a liar. Now if he says, I fear this, but I bring that to God everyday, you’ve met someone who hopefully has a good sense of self-awareness. They’ll know that they can’t get over their stuff on their own. I should say, however, that because I am a cynic and because you are my daughter, I MIGHT not fully believe him so he and I might have our own coffee date to hash that out:). (When old enough see the movie Antoine Fisher)

6 – Boys suck at giving and reading signals

He won’t know if you like him and he’ll think you want him. Use words, not eye and ESPECIALLY NOT YOUR FACE!!!!! (Example: Every man who has ever lived. Period.).

7 – Boys want to be better

Even the really rough ones, when they are away from their crew, don’t want to be bad. Many of them want a better life for themselves and for ones they may bring into the world. Some are rotten apples who have been dealt a bad hand (whether they were spoiled or left alone). And if you confront them (and wade through the passive aggressiveness) and ask them about it, they’ll tell you. However, once they are back with their crew, it’ll be like it never happened (see The Simpsons episode where Nelson dates Lisa for an example).

8 – Boys often don’t know how to be the “starter“.

You won’t be sure if something should be happening or IS happening and he won’t say anything (see nos. 3, 5 &6). And so you’ll become the man to ask him what’s going on. That should never, ever be. If you have to go to him for that, you’ll have to do that for the rest of your life. And it’ll annoy the heck out of you. Think on that one.

9 – Boys will break your heart (knowingly and unknowingly)

At least some will do it knowingly. I will hunt them for sport. The guys who do it unknowingly…they are the worst. They led you on, didn’t know how to get out of it and they broke it off in an ugly manner. Urgh…boys really suck (Example: Scott Pilgrim Versus The World).

10 – Boys are territorial

They may not want to be with you but at the same time, they won’t want anyone else to be with you either. It’s really weird…and when you’re taken, they won’t know what to with themselves…watch out for guys who are naturally selfish. If they are selfish with stuff, they’ll also be so with you.

Bonus: Beware of the guy best friend. You may end up marrying him OR running after him like in “My Best Friend’s Wedding…”

Bonus 2: Boys suck. It’s true, kid. They do.

Bonus 3: Even the Christian ones can be sucky. That’s a whole other letter, kiddo.

There are so many more things I could say. And I’m no psychologist here. I just know a lot of guys, kiddo. And I was a boy too (and still am sometimes.). My prayer is that as you do life the right way, you’ll meet the right kid of guy who will take care of you and love you sacrificially and unconditionally. And something I have to remind myself of is that you will (i don’t know if it’s consciously or unconsciously) look for a guy who is either a lot like or the complete opposite of me. And so if I do life right (love my life, love your mom, you and your soon-to-be brother or sister), your standards will be set and you’ll be okay. And if I don’t, I’ll meet him and say (to myself, of course…maybe to your mom…), “You’re MY fault.”

And it will be.

I love you kiddo. And when a boy breaks your heart, we’ll sit on the couch, eat ice cream and plot our revenge.

I already have their graves dug out 🙂

P.S. This is not ALL guys, I know. Dudes, I got love for you. I just gotta give my kid the 411 on the bad ones! If you have a daughter, you know EXACTLY what I mean. None of you want a dummy son-in-law right?

Did I Just Sing “Friday??” – A Lesson From #EODYC (Read and RT!)

This past weekend I came to the sad realization that I am getting older.

Maybe it’s the gray in my beard. Or the fact that everything is loud or too bright. Maybe it’s the fact that I always make reference to something (Music, especially…) from years ago to let kids today how bad they have it now. I’m rambling here…let me explain.

My friend Jeff asked me a few months ago to be the co-host/emcee at our annual Senior High Convention, where students from all over the eastern churches of Ontario come together to be encouraged and to encourage others in their relationships with Jesus. I had an idea to open the event with a rendition of the Rebecca Black musical monstrosity known as “Friday” that I saw Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert collaborate on. I knew that it would pop (meaning go over well with the majority of the crowd because of its random placement and overall hilarity) if we did it right so but that if it didn’t, it would be a loss that we’d be unable to retract.

Life is risk.

So as the event is getting closer, I’m quietly stressing over the song, the duties, etc. We’ve never had someone do what I’d be doing before. Urgh. Thankfully, Matt Robinson, our event’s worship leader and all around great man and friend, helped on the musical and creative end to make the song work with his band. But something was missing.

The “Friday” rap.

On Wednesday, by way of Twitter, I contacted a student I knew and asked him if he’d be willing to do the rap, a mix of the original HORRIBLE lyrics and his own swag. The student jumped at the chance, wrote his verse and was pumped for the opportunity. I, on the other hand, thought about the logistics, the response, the spacing…technical crap. On the actual Friday, we did a run through and sound check. Again, I was really in the technical zone, PLUS I was sick with a cold and losing my voice (as if having a voice would make the worst song in the history of poetry OR prose or caveman writings better, but alas…) so I was in a pretty crummy mood. But then I would look at Ian, (aka Creo) as he was waiting for his mic check. He was so excited. He just wanted to rip the stage UP! He couldn’t sit still! Up the minute before he was to get in position, he look at me with the “Should I go up NOW?” face and I’d say, “I’ll let you know, man, don’t worry on it.”

Such a grown up.

Finally the night kicks off. I get into that “There is no one better at this job than me”-zone and go for broke with the hosting gig, dappered out in my Don Draper suit. I’m still not having full fun yet but I’m getting there. Then we start “Friday” (…in the back of my mind, I’m thinking, if this fails, oh man…) and the kids are having fun as the Shakespearian call of “7 AM, waking up in the morning, gotta be fresh gotta go downstairs…” penetrates through the speakers. Ian then has his shinning moment and the kid kills it. He really does, all swagged out as he ran the stage (he’s seen lot of rap videos, I guess!). Then the song went into high gear as Batman, Spiderman, a sumo wrestler and guys in unitards hit the stage for the finale. You had to be there, I guess (any videos of it out there…?)

It popped. It killed. It was epic. It was actually FUN!

Right after the song (Catch you on the flippity flip!), I went, changed and got ready for the next segment, really forgetting what just happened. Back to tech stuff. No time for roses.

Not Ian. His twitter was a-blazing, excited to perform in front of the “biggest crowd of his life”, truly finding his purpose as an entertainer and rapper. He tweeted on it all nite! I read them and laughed with joy, pride and hint of “okay, cool it down, son!”

…And then I realized that he had something that I, and many adults, have lost due to social media, 24 hour news channels, broken promises, lack of encouragement, bad high school experiences (which we’re still trying to break free from), dad issues and more: DREAMING. He still believes, and rightly so, that what he can do will change the world. I was like that once, excited to stand on a stage, be it at church or school…whatever. NOW? I think about wording, time, people’s perceptions, “could someone else do it?”, speaking to the influencers, etc. Ian reminded me that having fun is okay. It’s cool to get lost in the moment and simply BE. It’s okay to dream about being better. It’s okay to actually believe you can change the world, be it through a rap, a dance, a story, a conversation or a smile.

I just wished the lesson came from a cooler song.

Or a mime.

Tough Talking Over Thursday Nite Tacos (Working on Honesty)

Ever have a day where everything just clicks?

Today was, to quote now has-been Charlie Sheen, winning.

From getting work done (Resonate), to laughing with friends (way too many to count), to chats on twitter (Special shout outs to Saj & Kathy! Felt like the three of us were in the same room all day!), this day has been awesome. Plus I got Bon Iver’s latest tunes. Such amazing songs (though his music is utterly depressing!).

But the best part was being home for two reasons. First, I was able to leverage my way into getting tacos for supper. Now unless you hate God’s green earth, you have a deep love for tacos, both hard AND soft shell. And me nah taaakin bout Taco BELL tacos. I taaakin bout some meen at hooommme tacos (saw what I did there? Got all west indian on the blog!). And boy were they good. Even Ellie had two full tacos on her own. I mean who doesn’t love TACOS!

The second reason was because Becca and I had a great convo. This happens often but not on the subject. Becca was talking about some research found in her job about people and their addictions and her discoveries led to a loving and honest conversation about ourselves as individuals and as a couple. What was cool about what remembering how much we know each other and our warning signs. Becca knows when she needs to get hold of my attention and vise versa. It was great to talk about where I am at and where I want to be and know that she understood and wasn’t condemning. It was also cool to be able to know that I could come honest in my short comings and know that even though she’d be upset or even hurt, she’d be understanding. It’s taken some time to get there but it’s nice to be here.

And all the while, Ellie just peacefully ate her tacos like a big girl.

And today she FINALLY wore her Jordans, too. Swagger on a HUNDRED, SON! And it rained and she still kept them things white.

You feel that? I just blew your mind. Boom.

Some days, everything just clicks.

Gents, even when it sucks, be honest. If you’re not honest with the ones you care for, you’ll never be honest with yourself. As awkward as it is, even if you can’t make eye contact, do it. Then do each day one at a time.