Flies and Sweet Tea

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Flies and Sweet Tea

On Friday, midway through raking and mowing the front lawn, I stopped and went inside, fixed myself a ham sandwich, a large cup with a lid, of iced tea, and went outside to have lunch on the porch. After finishing the sandwich I still had some tea and let it sit while wrapping up the chores for the day. Heading back inside I grabbed the cup of tea, took a big swig of drink satisfied with the accomplishments of the day.

Inside I took a shower, went back into the kitchen and refilled my cup with ice and more tea. For the next hour or so drank, worked on my blog and other things waiting for Beth to come home from work. When she arrived we discussed what to have for dinner, decided on something easy and fast, cooked it and was ready to eat. Before heading into the living room with my dinner plate I took the lid off of my cup of tea to add some ice and that’s when I saw it! A fly had somehow gotten into it, I assume by crawling through the straw when I had left it on the porch. From then until I spied it I had been drinking while the fly, and all that came with it was drowning. At least I didn’t swallow it!

I showed it to Beth and she was grossed out. I thought it was funny. We both thought I should get a new cup. I’ve thought about that insect several times over the last few days. What’s interesting is I didn’t know the fly was in there and so it didn’t bother me having a drinking buddy. However, when I finally did see it, something needed to be done.

Wisdom teaches us that we are learning, absorbing like a sponge, whatever we come in contact with, surround ourselves with every moment of each day. I often tell my clients; “WHAT you do, think, choose today is WHO you’ll be tomorrow.” Self-awareness comes when we are humble enough to take the lid off of our closed lives and look inside. What we find there will be good and not so good. True self-awareness is doing what we do well and improving upon what we could do better.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Cleaning

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Cleaning

Today was a wasted day or a restful day depending on how you look at it. It was cloudy, cool, started raining a few hours ago and hasn’t stopped. As someone who struggles with Major Depressive Disorder, a day when not much gets done is also a day filled with battling thoughts of worthlessness and not living life to the fullest. There is the worry that a depressive episode is around the next corner which is why you didn’t get anything done which causes my anxiety disorder to kick in which is exhausting and overwhelming. These days are when I’m at the greatest risk of spiraling into the black hole of depression.

All that to say I felt something had to be accomplished today so I vacuumed, folded clothes, washed dishes, got rid of the trash while Beth was grocery shopping. It’ll help her out but it was for me more than her.

One of the most difficult things to do, when you suffer from a mental illness, is keeping your thoughts free of the dark and dirty ones which lead to no place good. It’s not easy to always stay busy or struggle with your self-worth when things don’t get accomplished. There is a middle ground, a place of balance and order but some days it’s harder to find than others.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Handle with Care

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Handle with Care

I gave myself a concussion today! Well, probably not an officially medically diagnosed concussion but I whacked my head pretty bad with a rake handle. We’ve had some much-needed rain this week and as has been my ritual the last several weeks I went out today and raked. The leaves were wet which made them heavier and there was a large collection I was moving and pushing with the rake when it snapped at the end and pressure I was exerting on the leaves reversed itself and cracked me on the head and ear. It was painful enough I dropped to my knees and if saying; “OWWWWWW!” counts as a prayer I did a lot of praying. After the pain subsided I began looking for a replacement handle. Finding one I removed the broken handle and attached one from another garden tool. My head, and especially the ear, continued to hurt the rest of the afternoon but the replacement handle worked fine and I was able to finish the job.

Wisdom teaches us that life comes with pain and brokenness. There is no secret prayer, acquired knowledge, or anything one can do to have a life free of suffering. What we can do, however, is accept what comes, fix and heal when we can, and keep going.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannebsaint.com

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Joy of Another

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Joy of Another

Today I got to make a phone call that was wonderful! A lot of the folks I talk to during the day are in need and are usually seeking assistance. It’s part of my vocation and I’m thankful to be of assistance, however, the call this morning was someone wanting to give me some good news, no string attached! They had reached an important milestone and knew I cared enough to want to know and would share their joy at the accomplished goal.

Being thankful for another’s success and celebrating with them is a rare gift. Too often we are focused on ourselves and what we desire that we gloss over, looking past their achievements, jealous we aren’t the center of attention.

Wisdom teaches us that when we can feel the same joy at another’s blessing, good fortune, as our own, then we are capable of true friendship and connection with another.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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The Universe in a Choice

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The Universe in a Choice

The idea of the world having a conscious is intriguing. Many wisdom proverbs speak of the commonality every single human being on the planet possesses. We are united and bound together in much more ways than we are separated. Unfortunately, we focus on those few things that divide and in being pulled apart everyone loses.

The last couple of weeks I have been watching an historical documentary series which focuses on the; “what ifs” of the last 100 years. The premise is that if major figures over the last century would have made different choices, thought and acted in different ways our world would be in a better place. From the first two world wars, nuclear bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, Korea, to space exploration, race relations, Vietnam, Desert Storm, financial and housing markets, Operation Freedom, Guantanamo Bay, and other critical turning points that, perhaps, if people would’ve focused on less on themselves and more on others, our world may be a much different place.

Some choices seem to have little consequence on ourselves, those we love and all others who surround us. However, there are decisions which we make that could have a lasting impact on many lives for generations to come.

Wisdom tells us to be mindful, for in every choice hangs the fate of the universe.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Location, Location, Location

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Location, Location, Location

Last week I ordered some pizzas from the Pizza Hut down the street from our offices. I have done this before, several times, when we’ve had our Incarcerated Father’s class Certificate ceremony. Yesterday morning I dialed the same number as always and no one ever answered. I tried again and again with no luck. It was getting close to needing to pick up the pizzas so I decided to hop in my truck and drive there, order them and sit and wait.

When I arrived I was greeted with a sign on the  door which read; “We’ve Moved!” It had a new address so I jumped in the truck once again and found their new location. The door was open, I walked in but immediately noticed the machines weren’t hooked up and no pizzas were going to be made there anytime soon. Exasperation set in. I felt as if I was wandering all over Columbia, TN looking and needing something which wasn’t going to be found or attained. Finally, I went to another place, bought their pizzas and everything worked out fine.

The path of life is rarely dull. I was talking with a friend earlier this week and we discussed the places on the journey we find ourselves. He expressed frustration that he hadn’t arrived at the point he wanted to be, being who he desired. We shared our mutual frustration at times when what we’re looking for and what we long to embrace cannot be found when we feel we need them most. A sense of frustration and loss can set in. However, we also reminded each other the path and path maker can be trusted to provide what we seek and what we need at the right time and the right place.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Carry On

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Carry On

This afternoon I walked into a local convenience store to grab a few 2 liters of soft drinks for a celebration I was attending. Because I was in a hurry I didn’t grab a grocery cart and figured I would carry the drinks to the check-out. I grabbed the 2 liters and headed to the front. Unfortunately for me one of the lanes was closing and I was stuck awkwardly holding the drinks while those in front of me were purchasing their items. The drinks were getting HEAVY and because of the way I was holding them I was worried about dropping if I tried placing them on the floor. Finally, I was second to next in line and the man being checked out only had a few items. I asked if I could put the drinks on the counter? “Sure,’ he said, ‘no problem.” I did and it was such a relief to put down the drinks, stretch my arms out and breathe an exasperated sigh at my impatience at not grabbing a grocery cart. I checked out and the cashier placed the drinks in a couple of plastic bags which made it easier to carry.

This evening I am thankful for the young man who let me place my burdens down even though  it wasn’t my turn and he could have refused. I’m thankful for lessons, over and over, which help me see hurriedness and mindlessness lead to nothing but pain and exhaustion. Lastly, I am thankful for those I’ve met on my path who have taught, are teaching, me to carry burdens in a different, better, healthier way that allows me to keep going and not lose my way or what I treasure.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Unspoiled

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Unspoiled

This afternoon my wife was painting some wood for an outdoor project we’re trying to finish before it turns cold and stays that way. She had completed one side and was waiting for it to dry. She began helping me and, of course, took longer than expected. When she got back to her part of the project she discovered a bird had relieved itself on her recently white-painted board! She began looking around and said loudly; “A bird pooped on my board!” It was funny but I dared not laugh while she was looking at me. We glanced up into the trees above but no culprit was located. Finally, she went inside, dampened a paper towel, came back outside and cleaned it. Luckily, for any birds that were in the area, none dared soil her board again!

Life can be challenging. Often things we value, have put a lot of effort into, protected and cared for are spoiled by unseen and unexpected difficulties and problems. Relationships, family, friends, vocations, talents, hobbies and more are treasured by us but it doesn’t take long before the world attempts to spoil them.

When the spoiling occurs we have a few choices; look for someone or something to blame, complain and become bitter, let go of the frustration and do our best to make the best of it.

Wisdom tells us; “It only matters when one falls if they refuse to get back up again.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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On the Same Page

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On the Same Page

I like to pick on people I like, have a fondness for, value their friendship. Not bullying but simply old-fashioned kidding around. I am careful whom I do it with because knowing if they can take it is a must! My wife and I been married for 27 years next summer. That someone has chosen to be around me for that long is the only gift I truly want and certainly do not deserve.

My wife worked today for someone who had a relative pass away and needed to be elsewhere. She did this because that’s the type of awesome person she is, inside and out. When she got home, we ate lunch, took some measurements for a project we are working on and went to Lowe’s. I was in a picking mood. She was not. After a while she looked at me and said; “You’re in a mood today!” When she said it, the way she said it, immediately put me on alert. I paused the picking on her and picked at her statement a bit; “Getting on your nerves?” She smiled and replied; “Let’s just say; ‘we are not on the same page!'” That put an end to the picking and I was, and have been since, on my best behavior.

I love my wife. One of the things I am grateful for is a strong-willed, opinionated, passionate woman who will tell her often clueless husband, how she feels and what she feels about certain things. I also know that when we’re not on the same page it doesn’t mean we throw away the book. After 26 plus years we’ve learned how to turn the page, even start a new chapter.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Blue Friday

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Blue Friday

While many folks spent battling crowds and taking advantages of sales today, I raked and tried to make our brown yard look presentable. During the summer months, the colors are so vibrant, the blossoms and leaves, limbs and blades, all bespeak the glamor and glory of the season.

When fall arrives the final burst of color and collages of nature adorn the hills and the dales. Then, everything turns brown. One of my least favorite colors. Most of our tropical plants and trees are inside and dormant. The remaining ones are outside with dull or no leaves which is why I spent the day raking.

As I was finishing and putting up the rake and other garden utensils I rounded the corner of our house and spied a beautiful Blue Bird (http://www.tnwatchablewildlife.org/details.cfm?displayhabitat=grassland&sort=aounumber&typename=GRASSLAND%20AND%20SHRUB&uid=09041708094293898&commonname=Eastern%20Bluebird). It’s color was stark compared to the browns and grays which dominated my vision for most of the afternoon. It didn’t stay long but the sight of it was enough to remind me that life’s vibrancy is never gone.

The season we may be passing through might be one lacking in stimulation and passion but perhaps, just around the corner, is a splash of vigor and vitality that gives us the hope of new life and a new season.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Thanks for the Memories

Thanks for the Memories – 

We celebrated Thanksgiving at a place we’ve been going for years. When people ask I tell them we’re going to the Barrel’s for our holiday meal and they usually respond with; “I don’t think I know them.” Then I explain we’re going to Cracker Barrel for our meal.

We arrived around 1pm and the place was packed!  Folks were parking in the grass and any place they could fit their vehicles.  We placed our name on the list and was told it would be 30 minutes but our party was called in less than 5. Awesome! The meal good the company nice and no clean up necessary.

When we first started hitting the CB many years ago on Thanksgiving there wasn’t nearly as many people as recently. Now, the secret is out. People like the idea of others doing the work and they enjoying the benefits.

I can’t say that there isn’t something missing from Thanksgiving pasts, being with just family, the food being cooked exactly the way you like it to be, people you know and love being squeezed into a dining room, sharing familiar stories, laughing at old jokes and having that magical mix of love, nostalgia, and too many people in too small a room.

Unfortunately those times are long ago and seem long gone. However, its not forgotten and even in Cracker Barrel I carry those memories in my heart and enjoy new ones being made.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Thankful 


Thankful

Tonight I will have the privilege of handing a group of men a certificate that states they have committed an Incarcerated Fathers class. They will also receive letters of support for any legal hearings or other meetings which talks of their participation in the class and willingness to try and make good choices which will help them be good men and better fathers. I am thankful tonight this is the last “work” thing I’ll do this week.

Being with these men makes me thankful for the things we take for granted most days; sunshine, choices of food for meals, going where we like when we like, and freedom in all sorts of small and big ways.

We take life and it’s many blessings so narsasitically. We think we have a right to them and complain so easily about so many things. I’ll serve the guys cold pizza tonight as a congratulations for completing the course and putting up with me for the last three months. None will say a disparaging word about it or the warm drinks. They’ll accept it gladly, even aggressively.

Wouldn’t it be something if we received life, all of it, gladly, aggressively and thankfully.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Eye of the Beholder

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Eye of the Beholder

Yesterday was a day full of teaching/counseling how to best communicate with those we love and treasure most. It’s ironic but sometimes the very ones we have the greatest need to connect with are the ones we seemingly have the most trouble.

I spoke to a group of men about communicating with the mother of their children. Most of them have children with different moms and I had them imagine talking and listening with the one they have the most difficulty engaging. I asked them why and received all sort of answers, most of them blaming the mom. We then discussed the difference between action and acceptance. Ultimately we must accept it if another person won’t communicate with us but we should take every action step we can to attempt to reconnect.

The two starting points with any real conversation are respect and a willingness to be changed by the conversation. If we approach someone not respecting them, not wanting to listen, placing the blame for all the problems in the relationship true connection will not happen. We have to be willing to listen and acknowledge our responsibility in the challenges and difficulties of the relationship. We have to be open to change and make every effort to do our part in healing a broken bond between two people.

It all begins with looking the other person in the eye and seeing ourselves. Knowing and doing what we need to do instead of making demands of the other can be the first steps in a new and stronger bond between the ones we need in our lives.

 blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Cat Near a Green Tin Roof

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Cat Near a Green Tin Roof

This morning I was letting the dog out for his business appointment and after I put him back in the house, something on the roof near our green tin topped porch caught my eye. It was a cat. This was a surprise because we don’t own a cat and I was unsure how he got on the roof. I; “Meowed” at it like most people do when the see a cat and it; “Meowed” back at me. I warned it as I was leaving that the Siberian Husky inside the house doesn’t take kindly to cats, squirrels, ground hogs, possums, or anything small and furry. It then turned around and disappeared to the other side of the roof.

Life never stops surprising me, catching me off guard and making the unexpected almost expected. I’m not sure what happened to the cat. I; “Meowed” when I got home this afternoon but to no avail. Maybe I’ll see it again, hopefully before our dog; Trooper does. The one thing I do know is life won’t stop being so unpredictable. Blessings and curses, good and bad, positive or negative, probably a lot of in between stuff, will keep showing up and sooner or later I’ll stop being so surprised.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Lighting the Way 

Lighting the Way

Last night I was the guest of my beautiful wife to a Christmas light gala hosted by Regions Bank, at Cheekwood Park in Tennessee. The walk around this picturesque landscape was incredible and at the end was warm drinks and cookies for everyone. They had outdoor train sets, an art gallery and carolers singing.  Overall a fantastic time with the Mrs. I am thankful she chose me to be her; “plus one.”

It was dark when we arrived at the park at 5:00pm (thanks daylight savings time!😦 and the only lights for the path we followed were the Christmas lights. It was easy to know where not to go, don’t journey where it’s dark.

I’ve been thinking about the event last night and walking by light. My biggest reflection is the way isn’t always that easy to find. It’s hard to tell sometimes which way to go, especially in our hustle and bustle world. Rushing and finding the path rarely go hand in hand. 

Last night we walked slowly trying to enjoy every light, each song, the entirety of our visit. I think this is also key to staying on the path that leads us home; to go slowly, mindfully, seeking to live every moment, and trusting when the time is right, the light will lead the way.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Brian Wick

Brian Wick

This afternoon I replaced the Wick in our Kerosene heater. It wasn’t an easy job and by the time it was over I had a headache because of the smell of Kerosene and the instructions I was trying to follow.

We realized we needed the Wick replaced because of the difficulty of lighting the heater last week and now that it’s turning cold again we’d like to know our heat source works. 

After the wrestling match was over, with no clear victor to declare I filled the heater with Kerosene and set it on the porch for the required hour to soak up the new fuel and, hopefully, give some much needed warmth to our home.

As I attempted to do this chore which I’d never done before I thought about how we become burnout, at the end of our candles which too often burn at both ends, and wonder how we’ll keep the fires of our spirits and lives lit in a world that seems intent on extinguishing them.

It’s messy work, keeping the fire going, the embers stoked, the Wick trimmed and ready.

Wisdom tells us that it requires a willingness to not give up, a desire to not be a heartless, heatless, being. It’s time consuming, requires a relentless quest of not having that which makes us human, extinguished.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com 

Wrestling with the Wind

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Wrestling with the Wind

The wind has been blowing today, seemingly from all directions, ahead of a cold front which will settle into the area over the weekend. I spent part of the day raking leaves. Raking, gathering, keeping leaves in one place when the wind is determined to send them back to where you brought them from can be frustrating and defeating. The wind can’t be stopped by any force I have, nor can it be altered by anything over which I have control.

After a while I figured out if I would rake small piles, keeping the rake in place to keep the leaves from being blown away, I could eventually form a big enough pile to burn. I also discovered the raking job I was doing today wasn’t going to be close to perfect and I had to be okay with that.

This past week has been similar to my wrestling with the wind today. Many things are moving, changing, and it’s hard to pin anything down. No matter how hard I try, I do not possess the ability to keep things the same nor make them transition slower. Life’s journey has a speed all its own.

So, like the raking method, I take it in small, manageable sizes. I accept what I can that is changing and trust that each partial choice will lead to full acceptance of the inevitable transience of life in time. I’ll also allow for the truth of never being perfectly happy, blissful about change. Wisdom tells me progression not perfection is the way to peace.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Touch

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Touch

Today I attended a luncheon that was a kick starter to a faith-based community council. There were only a few but a lot of passion for the needy that exist mostly in the shadows of the church buildings and our communities. Folks with mental health issues, addictions, homeless, poverty-stricken, those living in the cycle of unfortunate circumstances and poor choices. These are the one we are hoping to help.

At the meeting, one of the attendees brought a service dog. The dog had been trained to be petted for anxiety reduction and assist a special needs person. It was a beautiful black Labrador Retriever. I couldn’t get enough of petting this pooch. It definitely made me feel better to scratch its head, rub his chin, stroke his back.

The power of touch is amazing. It can calm or incite, show acceptance or intimidate, display love or push away. There are people all around us who need their lives touched. Not just physically but emotionally, mentally and spiritually. These are the ones who most avert their eyes or cross the street to avoid. These shadow dwellers, who have a way of making most feel uncomfortable, need the touch of love, hope, and change.

Most of us can’t give them everything they need to get back on their feet and walking the path of life again, but together we can do more, touch more, give grace more, than one person alone.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Broken Vessels

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“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” Second Book of Corinthians, Chapter 4

Broken Vessels

Yesterday, on my way to work I backed the truck up to turn around in the driveway and heard a loud crash. I checked all my mirrors and didn’t notice any flower pots or other things I might have ran over, nothing seemed amiss. I proceeded on and forgot about it until yesterday evening. When I took the dog out to take care of business I spotted the culprit who created the loud sound I heard while backing up. It was the dog’s water dish. It was in pieces all over the driveway. What once was good for holding water, giving our active Siberian Husky vitality was no longer good for anything but to be thrown away.

As I picked up the pieces the verse above from Second Corinthians, along with the song from Jars of Clay based on the same section of scripture, recited itself in my brain. I wrote yesterday about a funeral home speaker I listened to at a luncheon on Tuesday and perhaps it was still rattling around in my mind as I reflected on the fragility of human life. What now holds us together physically, emotionally and spiritually will one day not be able. It is not a morbid thought but one which reminds us to live fully and completely in each moment while our earthly vessels are still able.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Not too Late to Start Early

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Not too Late to Start Early

At a luncheon today myself and about twenty others sat through two presentations. The first was on the newest technology for breast exams; a 3D machine that can catch cancer 40% earlier than most of the equipment currently used in hospitals and doctors’ offices. As a husband who’s married to a wife with a history a breast cancer in her family, I was extremely interested. Breast cancer which is caught early can have a survival rate of up to 90%!

The meeting was held in the social commons area of a large funeral home and the second presentation had to do with pre-planning your funeral. The speaker gave the advice we all know to be true but would rather not think about; “We each like to think we have more time in life than what we probably have.” She then went on to speak about making a record of our basic information, preferred funeral themes, embalmed or cremation and a host of other options one can choose as their way of saying; “Goodbye.”

After the luncheon I thought about doing things early, being ahead of the game, not procrastinating. Procrastinating is not a big problem for me. My anxiety disorder tends to skyrocket when things are left undone, not finished. It’s like a gnawing in the pit of my stomach until I complete whatever is bothering me. However, there are a few things which seem to be able to slip under the radar and can be put off “until…” I don’t forget about them I’m just able to slide them on to the back burner until they threaten to boil over.

Breast exams for Beth do not fall into this category. Because of her family history with this dreaded and damnable disease I make sure she sets and keeps her yearly appointments. Funeral plans on the other hand we haven’t talked much about. We both know we’re getting older, that death comes for us all and not at the time of our choosing. Wisdom tells us to live in the present moment of today but also be aware there is an unknown tomorrow.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Love Lost

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Love Lost

This afternoon I sat in a classroom at the local county jail waiting for the men in my class to arrive. At jails and prisons, they’re never on your timetable, you are on theirs. Just outside my class is a phone the residents use to contact “those on the outside” be it family, friends, or others. A man was using his phone time and talking loud enough I couldn’t help but overhear his conversation. He was begging his mom to make contact with the mother of his child and find out if she would bring their daughter to visit him. Apparently, it’s been a while and he wanted desperately to see her, talk with her, be a dad to her.

This isn’t an uncommon scenario for those who are incarcerated. Their freedoms and controls are stripped away. They can no longer go see someone, do something when they desire, but instead must wait and hope that the object of their affection comes to them. I’ve had many dads in my classes who haven’t seen their children since they were incarcerated because the mom refuses to bring them to the jail. There are valid and questionable reasons which inform the mothers’ choice but the father is powerless either way.

Love confined, locked away, kept from its beloved is one of the great tragedies. Love fully blossoms when it embraces, touches, pulls close the one desired. One of the most difficult losses for our incarcerated fathers to accept is the lack of presence in their loved one’s lives. They understand it was their choices which made it so but they also know; “the heart wants what the heart wants.” So, they will keep asking, begging, trying to stay involved in the lives of those whose worlds consist of more than cement walls, metal bars, and constant reminders that love must be stronger than.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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