Aroma

Image result for dumpster

Aroma

I drove to the dump today on my way to a meeting. When I opened the door the stench of heat, humidity and heaps of garbage smacked me in the face. As quick as I could I deposited my trash into the container and left. There’s nothing quite like the smell of a dump in the middle of July. I’ve lived in a lot of places but the dumps in July seem to share the same aroma no matter where I’m at. To put it delicately, they all have an unpleasant smell, or they stink!

I was talking with someone this week about unpleasant people and the way they try our nerves, disturb our stillness and negatively impact our lives. We all have those people in our life, those folks whose attitude, demeanor, demands and difficult ways give off an unpleasant aroma.

How we handle these foul folks reveal more about us than they do the other person. It’s easy to respect someone who respects us, compliment those who say nice things, return kind gestures and empathize with those who care. However, for the ones who stink it’s easier to get in and out of their presence as quickly as possible and avoid if doable.

To respect, speak kindly, act generously and care for these smelly ones takes a conviction in the deepest part of ourselves that gracious, grace-giving, living isn’t about the other person, it’s about who we are and want to be.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Stuck

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Stuck

Today I was stuck somewhere I didn’t want to be, doing something I didn’t want to do for over 6-hours! A quarter of my day was spent enduring, trying to stay calm, doing much breathing exercises and practicing stillness.

This wasn’t my plan for this day. I had it all laid out and then boom! From out of nowhere, life took a hard turn and I had no choice but to follow. There are moments and seasons in life when you’re given one of two or more choices. This wasn’t available to me today. I walked a 6-hour path of misery, by sitting in an uncomfortable room and an uncomfortable chair, and thankfully came out on the other side.

Life is nothing if not unpredictable. Especially when you have everything scheduled and coordinated. It’s interesting how life’s “surprises” continue to shock. Perhaps one day they won’t surprise us anymore. Maybe we’ll learn the lesson of living in the moment, no expectations and accept everything that comes with an open hand and spirit.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Go

Image result for green light red light

Go

This morning, on my way to work, I was stopped at a traffic light. There were two vehicles ahead of me and one, after stopping, turned right and the other one moved up. He was turning right also and was waiting for a break in the traffic to make his move. He watched and waited, watched and waited. He was so intent on finding a moment when he could go that he didn’t notice the light turned green and he could proceed anytime he wanted to. Finally, he looked up, saw the green and took off.

On the rest of my drive to work, I thought about the driver and life. Many times we are looking for signs, indicators, epiphanies to tell us when to go, what direction to take, the path to follow. Paradoxically we can be so intent on a special signal we miss the ordinary, everyday sign posts which are right in front of us.

Perhaps it is a good word from a friend, a scripture read, a persistent thought, the desire itself. Each of these could be the “Go!” we’ve been looking for and missed because it wasn’t where we thought we’d see, sense it.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

On the Inside

On the Inside

This weekend has been hot! Temps and humidity in the 90’s.  In spite of the temps, I did some yard work on Friday and Saturday and I made my self sick. I took water, Gatorade, breaks. I sat down in the shade several times and laid down with my feet up to avoid heat exhaustion. Even with all these precautions I still sweated buckets and became too hot for my own good. The result was major fatigue and a nauseated stomach. Today, I determined it wasn’t healthy for me to get outside again and so I’ve taken it easy. My stomach is still not normal but better than it was Friday and Saturday. Being sick to your stomach is a terrible feeling. It impacts everything from your appetite to sleeping and doing even the simplest of chores or hobbies.

When I read the quote in the picture (included in post) my stomach troubles are of what I immediately thought. The nauseated feeling is similar to how I feel when I have an anxiety episode so it not a new sensation. I reflected on the truth of how what’s going on in the inside impacts the way see and experience each other, every situation and life. Only when the inside is calm, settled, still are we able to accept life and all of its unpredictability.

“The only peace you find at the top of the mountain
is the peace you bring with you.”

– Wisdom Proverb

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Anger

Image result for funny zen

Anger

One of the first questions I have, when teaching a new class or working with a father, is “Tell me how you express your feelings. Can you show you are angry, disappointed, frustrated in a healthy way or does it all come out as toxic anger?” Toxic anger is dangerous and greatly inhibits a child’s growth, impedes communication with others, and can lead to abuse and neglect. Understanding how a father deals with his feelings is key to understanding his relationship with his family, friends, and community.

One of the most common responses on how men deal with the feeling of anger is; “I want to hurt someone else. I want another to feel pain. I don’t want to be alone in my suffering.” This can surface in many ways, a bruising hand, a mouth filled with hurtful and caustic words. Other men leave and don’t come back, others come back but never talk about the emotion that erupted like a volcano. A lot of men simply get mad and stop talking, letting their silence oppress everyone who is near them.

Most men have never learned to deal, and healthfully express, their feelings. This is why for most men anger is their default emotion. The saddest part is they pass these traits along to children and the unhealthy cycle starts all over again.

An old Zen proverb says; “To hold on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging  (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Focus

Image result for butterfly flying

Focus

This morning, it had already gotten hot as I went outside to do some mowing and weeding. The Cypress saplings Beth and I planted a few months ago need to have the grass from around them removed but the little trees are still too small to risk using the weed eater. So, I use the push mower to get as close to the trees as I dare without harming them.

My attention was on the grass, the saplings, and the mower when out of nowhere a butterfly flew into my eye! I had sunglasses on and still not sure how this medium size winged insect got between the frames of my glasses and my eye socket but it did. Luckily, I was able to close my eye in time and immediately took off the glasses allowing the butterfly to flutter away.

I’ve never had a butterfly do that before. It was shocking! It was also a good reminder of the beauty which surrounds us every day. We can become so focused on the work, chores, schedules, and to-do lists that we miss the wonder of simply being alive and the joy each breath can give us.

Hopefully, being aware, sensitive to the beauty which surrounds me won’t require it to smack me in my face next time.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Labels

Labels

I was speaking with someone the other day about personalities, quirks, how people behave, why and how we label someone as “__________” and then put them in the cupboards of our mind as if who and what they are have been discovered.

I once interviewed for a job and part of the process was taking a personality test. The label put on me by the test seemed to fit but the more I looked at who I was, the more it seemed not applicable. What’s interesting was the interviewee gave me the job and told me his personality type. However, the longer I worked under him the more certain I became that he had mislabeled himself. Perhaps neither of us were correct but it cemented in my mind how we can label others or ourselves and think the labels tell us more than what only true connection and relationships reveal.

The person I was talking with earlier this week had placed a label on himself long ago and assumed it was a negative trait. I explained to him that most of our traits are neutral and mean a certain way we think or do things. “Don’t let a label define who you are or what you become,” I told him.

Good advice for us all.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

UnYoked

UnYoked

I listened to an author today talk about the way he writes a book. His latest offering is a metaphor for his family life growing up. His father committed suicide, his brother was a genius and these, along with others, are mirrored by the characters in his novel.

The person interviewing him asked; “Why did you write such a book now? What was the motivation?” The author thought for a moment and then replied; “I guess there were some things I was yoked to and I need to get unyoked.” I don’t hear the word yoked used often. Most of the time it’s being quoted from the Second book to the Corinthians written by the Apostle Paul. This man believed there were memories, experiences, and relationships which had shaped his life for good and bad and at this time of his life he needed to bring them to the surface to examine them and understand why and how they made him into the man and author he has become.

As I reflect on what he said I hear and feel a great truth in his words. Each of us has those life events which help shape us into the people we are today. Unfortunately, along with the good, there are the bad, with the love there is abuse and other negatives to which we are yoked. Becoming unyoked is not forgetting or escaping where we come from but allowing even the worse of times to be a light shone upon dark places inside.

It is only when we come face to face with all that made us who we are can we choose a new path or learn to be thankful for the one we currently travel.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Stripped

Stripped

Death is the great equalizer. As the old proverb states; “King or pauper, rich or poor, famous and infamous, all end up in a box in the ground.

Many faiths and wisdom teachers make a bold declaration that; “death is not the end of the journey but the start of a new one.” Yet, many are scared of this final destination all must face, accept and experience.

Death does indeed strip away all of the illusions and lies we tell ourselves. If allowed, it can bring us a sense of thankfulness and peace instead of dread and anxiety. Death comes for all. Some go kicking and screaming others with an embrace of that which we cannot outrun.

Death can also strip away our excuses, narrow our focus, help us find our purpose. When death is our company on the way it is either a reminder of compromise and wastefulness or determination and simplicity.

We should not fear death but welcome it daily as a silent partner who helps us truly live.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Found

Image result for sun humidity

Found

I’m not sure which was higher today; the sun in the sky or the humidity. What I know is it was hot and sticky!

Today was my first summer class for incarcerated fathers. Passing through one of the checkpoints at t, e jail I saw a man who was in our spring class. “How are you?” I asked. “Still making good choices?” “Yes,” he replied. “How’s the weather outside?” he asked me in return. “Hot! and Humid!” I exclaimed. He had to go and I was hit again how isolated the jail keeps the inmates. One of the hottest days of the year and all he knew was the inside of a hallway and his jail pod. Nothing on the outside except what he learned from others who have the freedom he only dreams about.

A little while later I talked to the class about excuses and illusions we use to justify the choices which led us to where we are in our lives. “Until we learn self-awareness and the real reasons we think, do and live like we do we will never be free.” Many of the men I work with have been prisoners most of their lives, even before they were arrested and placed in the county jail. Imprisoned by their habits, poor judgment, and worse decisions learned from parents and peers. Teaching them how to think differently and ultimately be different is the difficult goal of the folks who invest their lives with these men.

Freedom cannot be given it must be found within and brought to the surface of our lives.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

 

Trapped

Image result for butterfly on a screen

Trapped

Earlier today I walked the dog outside for him to have some alone time. I stood on the screened in porch as he sniffed what seemed like the entire backyard. While watching, I heard a flapping and turned to see somehow a butterfly had gotten itself trapped. It was fluttering its wings madly but only succeeded in bumping its way again and again on the screen. I cupped my hands and gently corralled it into a corner. Then, ever so softly scooped it into my palms and then released it away from the screen so it could fly away.

After it flapped out of sight I thought about the times when I’ve felt trapped, banging my head against an invisible barrier, fighting for freedom only to become more frustrated and exhausted. I forget sometimes, okay, a lot of times, that it takes one bigger than me, more gentle than me, more powerful than me, to take me into trustworthy hands and bring me to a place of freedom.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Confusion

Image result for two brown dogs

Confusion

Earlier today I was trying to get the mowing done before a storm front moved through our area. I saw Beth come outside with our Siberian Husky, Trooper and waved at her. My attention went back to the mowing and when I looked up again she had Trooper by the collar with one hand and was shooing two brown dogs with the other. I quickly disengaged the blades and drove down the hill in our backyard to help.

The two dogs didn’t seem aggressive just curious but Trooper was also curious and you’re never sure what’s going to happen when unfamiliar dogs get too near each other. I jumped off the mower and had the brown dog’s attention now and Beth was able to get ours inside. I clapped my hands, marched toward the dogs, while yelling; “Go home! Now!” The younger of the two dogs began trotting home but the older one looked at me and wasn’t intimidated. Once I noticed Beth and Trooper inside I made my way back to the mower and headed again to the backyard. The older dog followed. I tried yelling again. It used the bathroom and continued to go wherever I drove and mowed. Finally, I finished mowing and told it to; “Please! Go home!” and thankfully, it did.

I don’t know whose dog exactly it was but I think it confused me with its owner. It never growled nor did its hair stand up, it just wanted to be loved, petted, played with? I’m not sure what it wanted which makes me confused as well.

Life is never predictable. We get confused and this makes us frustrated and desperate. We follow what seems familiar only to find ourselves in a strange place with no sense of direction. Hopefully, eventually, someone or something will help us find our way.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

A Little Higher

A Little Higher

A year and a few months ago I wrote about my major depressive disorder and my attempts to begin to run again after a two-year hiatus. I also wrote, a few weeks later, about major knee pain, a visit to an orthopedic and the diagnosis that running wasn’t in my future. I tried again earlier this year and knee pain came back.

For those with depressions and anxiety, the BIG 3 in treating them are medicine therapy, talk therapy, and exercise. There are a lot of other things as well but these three are the foundation to successfully living with the disease. Without running I’ve spent the last few months trying to find another effective and somewhat enjoyable way to work out. I’ve found a few cross training videos that seem to hit the intersection.

One of the instructors on a video says the following; “Watch your posture. Imagine two balloons tied to your ears lifting you high, keeping your body straight as you do this workout.” I’ve watched the video and heard this instructor say it so often I know when it’s coming and I’m already checking my body’s alignment.

I’ve also thought about the advice in other parts of my life. Too many times I’m looking down, hunched over, not seeing the light and feeling the heat of the sun because my face is looking at the ground. Depression has this type of impact on a person. However, if I would, even on my darkest days, put those balloons on I might be surprised how looking up can help when I’m feeling down.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

In Line

Image result for line of traffic

In Line

This afternoon, on my way into town, I was in a line of traffic. About three cars in front of me a young man, hand out the window, smoking a cigarette, and in a hurry. He was “riding the bumper” of the car in front of him in spite of their being numerous cars in front of the object of his fury. I watched him and wondered; “Why? Why are you being an aggressive, desperate driver, when there are more cars in your way? Are you going to tailgate every car until you get in front of them all?” I knew the answer was probably; “yes if he could.

I reflected on this man and the way our focus of life can be out of whack. When we go through a challenge, a difficult situation, we focus our intensity on the object in front of us. We blame it for our lack of peace and purpose. We think; “If I could just get this off my to-do list, remove that problem, rid myself of this habit, break off or begin this relationship, everything would get better.” The truth, however, is more poignant. If we do not have peace before we run into a challenge, overcoming it will not bring us peace. If there is no stillness inside prior to a relationship there will be none afterward. New job, friends, home, whatever, cannot bring us the sense of calm and wisdom we desire if we don’t acquire them deep inside by searching for them now.

The only peace and wisdom you find at the top of the mountain you are climbing are what you bring with you” -Wisdom Proverb

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Waiting

Image result for waiting room hospital

Waiting

Today I spent most of my day in a hospital waiting room. There were all sorts of people there; young and old, loud and quiet, book readers and tv watchers. All of us there in one of the most powerless positions imagined. Each of us trying to find something to do to occupy our minds while a loved one’s life was in another’s hand.

It’s not a good feeling. To kiss, hug, say goodbye, to someone who means so much to you and trust the person who will be doing the surgery that they have enough knowledge, training, and skill to hold another’s life in their hands and know what to do with it.

I was by myself, which was fine. Others had one, two or a whole group to help them through the challenge of waiting. Finally, my name was called to the post-op area and was able to go back and see that everything was fine and breathed a sigh of relief and thankful words.

Waiting is never easy but key to building trust.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Open

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Open

There are seasons of life where nothing feels certain. Times when you aren’t sure what happens next. Places on the road where the truth of life’s unpredictability is too real.

This is where I am now, at a place where many things are uncertain, challenges and difficulties are everywhere. Worry and frustration over people I love hurting and going through difficult times and trials, no way of knowing how it will all work out in the end. Concern over other aspects of life that are out of my control. Finding my way slowly and, at times, painfully through circumstances I wasn’t expecting or desiring.

In seasons such as these being open, staying open seems a humongous task. My wants and needs are not evil or bad but I know they will only bring suffering if I choose to believe they are the only way. Accepting whatever life throws at me, walking life’s path not being able to see far ahead, letting go of anything preconceived and accepting what is given will take courage.

It seems to always come back to trust and acceptance.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannbesaint.com

Fragile

Image result for baby deer

Fragile

My first inclination that something was happening on the road ahead was the car in front of me slamming on the brakes. I took my foot off the gas pedal and began looking around. Then, from the side of the road, a small, baby deer came running into my lane. It was unsteady and scared. I hit the brakes as it continued in a head on collision with my truck. At the last moment, it wobbled into the other lane almost getting hit by another car, crossed quickly again in front of me and then bounded on the side of the road. It tried to go further but there was a cow fence and he couldn’t find a gap. Watching I wondered if its mom leapt over the fence but the little deer’s legs just weren’t strong enough. It bounded out of sight looking for a hole in the fence. I continued on to church but on the way back I looked warily for its body on the road, hit by an unaware motorist. To my relief, there was no body or sign of it anywhere. I hope it found the place in the fence it was looking for or an adult deer showed it the way.

The baby deer was small and fragile, desperately looking for where it belonged. It knew the middle of the road was not the way.

I wonder if we are like this to God? Tiny, brittle souls in bodies easily broken. We try to find our way in life, looking for the hole, the gap, the answer, the way to the peace we desperately crave. Perhaps we are more like a brutish, boar recklessly, disastrously, making our way not caring what we break or who we hurt. Maybe we’re somewhere in the middle.

Either way, what we need, is someone to show us the way home.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Aging

Image result for mr coffee pot

Aging

I think I am getting old.

This morning I woke up and is my custom headed to the kitchen to put on a pot of coffee. I pulled out a filter, placed the proper amount of coffee grounds into it, put it back into the holder and turned on the coffee maker. I then walked out of the kitchen, did a few other things, walked back in and noticed there was no coffee in the maker. Why? Oh wait, I forgot to add the water.

Yesterday, I was doing some yard work which included mowing. I started the mower, began riding over the grass and after a few rounds looked down and realized I hadn’t engaged the blades. Basically, I’d just been taking a ride around the yard.

As a man in his mid 40’s I hope I have a few more years before I can blame aging for my forgetfulness but getting older is a part of the transience of life. It happens every day whether we can see it or not, acknowledge it or not, accept it or not.

“As a parent has compassion on their children, so the Lord has compassion on those who love him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. The life of a human is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; 16 the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.”
The Book of Psalms 103

Remembering our frailty and shortness of life is not a reason to despair but to celebrate every moment and breath knowing it could be our last.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Growth

Growth

Earlier today I mowed the grass. The back yard was ready to be cut but the front was a different story. The torrential rains we’ve had this week have left a large portion of the front yard too muddy to mow and some spots have standing water. Hopefully, next week, when it’s had more time to dry, I can try again.

What’s interesting is that the grass in this flooded area is still growing. The watery conditions have not impeded it. So, one part of the front yard is mowed with shorter grass while the other section is tall doesn’t look like it should.

Wisdom teaches us that growth can occur under several different types of conditions. We might think ideal conditions are where we would learn the best but this just isn’t so. Oftentimes we grow in the mud and the muck of the aftermath of storms which impact our lives.

When we understand that all types of experiences, challenges, difficulties, adverse conditions, can be fertile ground for our spirits we stop complaining and allow for the possibility that growth is mightier than the storms.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Shade and Shadow

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Shade and Shadow

Most of the week there have been rain clouds hovering low and blocking the sun from view. The rain has been needed and I am thankful but today is sunny, mostly blue skies and I am thankful for it as well.

When I mow the grass and weed I like to have my phone and ear buds playing music to help block out the noise. I select my preferred playlist and off I go. However, as the sun blazed today it was hard to see the screen to pick the songs. I had to turn my back towards the sun and use myself as a shade to see the phone’s screen.

Our yard isn’t huge but it’s big enough to require two hours worth of mowing plus two hours worth of weeding. Even though it wasn’t especially hot today when I finally finished the weeding portion I sat down under the shade of the large Oak tree in our front yard and enjoyed some water and Gatorade.

The quote in the picture (attached) is that; “We stand in our own shadow and wonder why it’s dark.” and it resonated with me today because of being outside using my shadow and enjoying some shade. Earlier in the week, it was storm clouds which shaded the sun from being seen and today it seemed nothing could block its radiance.

In our lives, there are times of shade and shadow when the light we are looking for is hidden. We make our way the best we can and trust the light will find us again. There are also seasons when the light is bright and easy to follow. For both of these, we give thanks because we wouldn’t appreciate one without the other.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

See

Image result for zen sayings

See

Life is full of ups, downs and sideways. When we think we have life figured out it has a way of reminding us that it is never controlled or predictable. The question becomes; “Will we accept life as a constant state of change and challenge or continue to try to manipulate it to fit our needs?”

I was talking with someone yesterday about; “what is normal?” As we conversed back and forth there was agreement that there is no true normal. We spend our lives adjusting to the everyday small and sometimes huge changes that happen. The little tweaks are hardly noticed while the bigger adjustments are much more difficult to handle.

Accepting the transience of life is a necessary step on the path of peace. Only within, deep down, can big and small changes not move us. What is outside of us is always in flux but our inner selves can stay solid and still.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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