Every Thursday I meet with a group of men who all encourage each other to be better. Better husbands, fathers and people in general. Last February, one of the guys came to the group with a challenge for himself and the rest of us. The challenge was to buy a journal and then every day for a year write one thing that you love or admire about your wife or children or other significant person in your life. I accepted this challenge and the end product will be given to my wife on Valentine’s Day 2017.
Category: Voice of an FCNI Staff
Last year, we began a partnership with the creative minds behind Zest it Up, a local catering and event planning company. Owners, Chanda Brown and Samantha Nason, came to us in early 2016 with the idea of putting on a series of pop-up dinners to not only help up raise funds, but to also raise community awareness and exposure to the work and heart behind our mission. The idea to accomplish this by hosting pop-up dinners stemmed from the popularity of popping up a restaurant for one night only in a unique location, something done in larger cities but not yet done with any regularity in San Luis Obispo County. These dinners would be a creative way to connect our community with us like never before, Zest it Up explaining, “Community is contagious and the strength that comes from it is boundless. This strength is the kind that lifts up those who struggle and knits them more intricately into the fabric of our community. Those without a voice, are given a voice.” By creating a series of fundraising events for us, Zest it Up were also able to achieve their goal to “dive deeper and call more people out to connect and support FCNI.”
This holiday season, I will be celebrating my 43rd Christmas. In this time, I have made many holiday memories--some good, some not so good, and some which are still very funny. After all these Christmases, I have one particular memory which sticks out in my mind, and it involved “Santa’s Workshop”. No, I didn’t grow up in the North Pole, but I did grown up in Texas. And every year at my elementary school before school ended for the winter break, the stage in our cafeteria would be transformed into “Santa’s Workshop.” When I say “transformed,” I mean folding tables were set up in rows and a variety of family-satisfying gifts were put out on the tables. Gifts such as coffee mugs displaying slogans like “World’s Best Dad”, ceramic figurines of all sorts, neck ties, aprons, and, yes, even ashtrays (remember, this was over 30 years ago) lined the tables for students to peruse and purchase for different family members as gifts for the holidays. Every year, as I stood on the wooden steps leading to “Santa’s Workshop,” my anxiety would rise in hopes that the children in front of me would not buy the last pet rock which I knew my dad wanted more than anything. As I retell this memory, I am somewhat surprised at how a humble school fundraiser contributed so greatly to the development of my character as an adult and father. “Santa’s Workshop” helped to form generosity within me. It was the first time in my life that I remember thinking about other people and what they would like or need as a gift. This kind of generosity is a character trait that I strive to instill in my own children to this day.
The holiday season is here. And while a lot of us are happily picking out décor and planning parties, too many of us are struggling and hurting. This time of year can be challenging for many, especially those dealing with mental illness and/or the lasting impact of trauma. In the below piece, Brooke Cone lovingly acknowledges the brave struggles of these Dear Loved Ones. And asks us to pause in our planning, reminding us to be kind, be supportive and be present for those fighting the unseen fight against depression and trauma.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and on our blog we’ve shared different perspectives on this tremendously impacting issue, detailing how detrimental it is to our families, communities and culture as a whole. Every instance of domestic violence has multiple victims; multiple lives irrevocably changed. Below is such a life. Tanya Winje, an FCNI Program Supervisor, bravely shares her personal story of fear, hopelessness, survival and healing.
For those of you who are not in the behavioral health field, you may be surprised to learn that the term “Recovery” refers not just to addiction issues but also mental health issues. As someone who works in the field and also has a sister diagnosed as having Bipolar Disorder, understanding the concepts of the Recovery Model has been an encouragement to me. I can distinctly remember getting a phone call while I was in one of my grad school classes telling me that my sister had been hospitalized due to her mental illness. This wasn’t the first time she was hospitalized, and the weight of my fear and grief hung off of me like an oversized coat. I can remember standing outside during my break from class, staring at the grass, and realizing that for all her gifts, talents, hopes and dreams, my sister would always struggle with a profound mental illness.
It is a late summer morning on a Saturday not too long after the Labor Day holiday has passed, as close to fall as you can get without it being fall. I am outside in a very public place and people are all around. My heart is racing, blood pressure higher than my doctor would like and my stress level higher than it has been in a long time. Directly in front of me is my six year old son and a number of his friends whom I am responsible for at this given moment in time. Things are going bad very quickly, and the words that come to my mind are “chaos” and “turmoil.” My son and his friends are completely oblivious to how devastating things around them really are. Now, I am pacing, yelling, and becoming more and more dysregulated emotionally. I have no real control over this current situation. I can’t force my son or his friends to move faster, become more aware of their surroundings or even listen to the directions I am giving them to prevent them from the loss they are about to experience. It is the first game of the Under Age Eight soccer season, a pretty big deal in my life as I am the Head Coach.
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, originally attributed to the Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, which states, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Walking a thousand miles sounds impossible to me. Would I get lost, walk in circles, be in a lot of pain? Attempting to push fears aside, I start to think of what a personal accomplishment it would be to walk so many miles. Then I think of how walking all of those steps might benefit me--physically, emotionally and spiritually. So I then brainstorm how I might accomplish this impossible task. Ten miles a day for 100 days or two miles a day for 500 days? I start to think of all the opportunities that might cross my path on this walk; all the people I might meet, the sights I could see and the things I would miss if just sped past in car. Pretty soon, a concept that started out as impossible, starts to look more and more plausible.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams
What does it mean to be a positive supervisor and why do I enjoy it?
Caring for teenagers is oftentimes the ride of a lifetime! They are growing and developing into even more independent people, while at the same time still looking for guidance and direction. It can be challenging to know how to support your teen, in the midst of this often tumultuous stage of development. But while challenging, there is nothing quite like seeing them succeed at something they have worked really hard to earn. And recently, we got to celebrate some of our youth’s educational success. It’s been a humbling experience to see all of these youths’ hard work pay off. And we are so grateful for support they have all received along their way--the parents, foster parents, social workers, friends, family, teachers, counselors and other adults who have been championing them on and providing them the right amount of guidance, so they were able to reach their goals.