Category Archives: Mindfulness

Power

Power

The late Stephen Covey tells a story about a time he was speaking to a group of people in Sacramento, California:

… I was speaking on the subject of proactivity, a woman in the audience stood up in the middle of my presentation and started talking excitedly. It was a large audience, and as a number of people turned to look at her, she suddenly became aware of what she was doing, grew embarrassed and sat back down. But she seemed to find it difficult to restrain herself and started talking to the people around her. She seemed so happy.
I could hardly wait for a break to find out what had happened. When it finally came, I immediately went to her and asked if she would be willing to share her experience.

“You just can’t imagine what’s happened to me!” she exclaimed.

“I’m a full-time nurse to the most miserable, ungrateful man you can possibly imagine. Nothing I do is good enough for him. He never expresses appreciation; he hardly even acknowledges me. He constantly harps at me and finds fault with everything I do. This man has made my life miserable and I often take my frustration out on my family. The other nurses feel the same way. We almost pray for his demise.

“And for you to have the gall to stand up there and suggest that nothing can hurt me, that no one can hurt me without my consent, and that I have chosen my own emotional life of being miserable well, there was just no way I could buy into that.

“But I kept thinking about it. I really went inside myself and began to ask, ‘Do I have the power to choose my response?’

“When I finally realized that I do have that power when I swallowed that bitter pill and realized that I had chosen to be miserable, I also realized that I could choose not to be miserable.

“At that moment I stood up. I felt as though I was being let out of San Quentin. I wanted to yell to the whole world, ‘I am free! I am let out of prison! No longer am I going to be controlled by the treatment of some person.’ ”

It’s not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us.”

Obviously, there are exceptions to this rule, tragedies, sickness, and death, but for the most part, we are a direct result of the choices we’ve made with the experiences we’ve encountered in this life.

I read a quote yesterday that I’ve been reflecting upon; “The world we see and interact with is the product of how our mind perceives the world.” We are assaulted each day by an overabundance of visual, auditory, sensory stimuli. It is hard not to be separated by what we experience. However, if our minds, emotions, and spirits are ever to be free we must train our minds to be still so we can experience the world anew and break free from what we’ve known, what we’ve thought, the life we’ve lived.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Mentoring

Mentoring

Today, at a county health council, I had the privilege to listen to a man speak about an abusive childhood which was saved by someone who cared enough to take him under his wing and become his mentor. He described how this older gentleman would take him out for breakfast some morning and listen, just listen. This went on for several months. Finally, it dawned on the young man that he wasn’t being judged or given unsolicited advice, his mentor was there to hear him. He listened to the good and a lot of bad, the smidgen of positive and a plethora of negatives. The young man, at last, ran out of words to say and the mentor slowly helped him work through all the challenges and difficulties which result from growing up in an abusive and neglectful home. This mentor made all the difference in his life and as a result, the speaker now helps run a multi-county mentoring program and has improved the lives of countless young men and women.

It was a great reminder that most times the greatest gifts we can give another is presence and listening. Too often we see our role in the chaotic lives of others as telling them what to do, how to do it, advice that will make things better and shape to look more like ours. The speaker said today; “I didn’t need someone to tell me all the things I needed to do. I needed someone to let me get it all out so I could sort through it all and figure out what to keep and what to throw away.

Presence and listening. Two of the greatest and perhaps least used treasures we possess.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

the Other

the Other

Last night I was speaking to a group of men and we were discussing the needs men have to develop self-awareness. I told them; “Self-awareness is the ability to look into a mirror and see yourself for who you truly are, the good, the not so good, areas where you excel and places in you which need improving. The ability to know yourself is the first step in understanding what needs to be done to become the man you should be.

Knowing, accepting and loving yourself is also the key to loving others. Unless we’ve learned to see ourselves; flaws, hang-ups, habits, hurts and love ourselves we will be incapable of truly loving others. Often times our shortcomings and failings cause us to judge ourselves more harshly than we’d ever do to others. We stew in our self-hatred and weaknesses. This corrupts us from the inside out and results in a distorted view of ourselves which bleeds over into the way we see the world and the people in it.

It is only when we accept who we are, all of who we are, and love what we like and don’t like can we be free of a soul that is bitter and barren. Released from the prison which contains our hearts we find that others, like us, are frail and broken. We recognize the same limitations and discover in each other the strength to travel the path of life together.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Friends

Image result for zen quote of the day

Friends

You are who your friends are, or show me your friends and I’ll show you, you. I was asked the other day if I had a lot of friends. I answered; “No.” For me, this is not a bad answer but it is a truthful one. I’ve never had a lot of friends, lots of acquaintances, people I know and say; “Hi,” to but not people I would consider friends. If you were to look at my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn profile, you would think I have thousands of people with whom I have a deep connection to. This is false. Online “friends” are fine but most of them are not close confidants with whom you share life.

I think the words friends is overused. Facebook didn’t start the overusing but I think it helped it reach its pinnacle. Each day I try to wish everyone on Facebook, who has a birthday that particular day, a “Happy Birthday!” Many days I recognize at least most of the names but other days I am at a complete loss as to whom I am writing a birthday wish.

The few friends I do have are wise people, not only smart but wise. They are spiritual mentors and people I’ve shared my journey with, the good times and what I’d label bad. They are folks who encourage me when I need it and call me on my BS, inflated ego, and the illusion of goodness I’d like to live in. They are also positive people. Not pollyannaish, pie in the sky, everything’s coming up roses people but truly positive. They help me believe when I am doubting, hold me when I am scared, help me get my bearings when I’m lost, and never give up on me. These are those who I trust with my life and when that’s the criteria, you have to and should be; picky.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Listen 

Image result for kitten hiding

Listen

This morning I heard the sound of a kitten meowing. It was coming from my workshop. I entered, listened and echoed a meow. It meowed again but I still couldn’t locate the source. After searching every corner of the shop I stopped looking. This happened three times. Finally I opened the doors to the workshop and hoped it would make a break for the exit. Since this morning I’ve returned to the workshop and did my best meow but nothing answered. However, instead of being relieved I’m perplexed at where it was hiding and whether or not it’s gone or just being silent.

Listening is one of the best gifts we can give to one another, nature, the world. It isn’t easy, especially when the other isn’t cooperating but it is always necessary. We do not listen only to hear but to quiet our minds and spirits so the other can speak.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Rolling in the Deep

Image result for drawing blood

Rolling in the Deep

Today I had my annual doctor’s visit. It went well with lower weight and blood pressure. Although I was happy with the outcomes of these I knew what was coming. They had to draw blood. I don’t like needles, small rooms, people breaking my personal space, so this was not going to be fun. The nurse was likable and chatty. I told her; “Just do what you have to do. I’m not going to look. I don’t want a warning. I want it over.” She understood and began tapping my veins to find a good one. She said; “Oh! This is going to be easy. You have nice big veins. What she didn’t realize was my veins like to roll. She stuck me, “Ouch!”, and began trying to pin on of them down. She couldn’t do it. After trying to catch the vein with the big metal needle she had in my arm she took it out and tried to find another one. Locating it she stabbed me again and once again couldn’t pin the rolling vein. Finally, she said; “Let me see if another person will have better luck.” I waited and the next nurse came in, began exploring my other arm, found a vein, and struck blood on her first try. “Whew!” When she was finished I was thankful to get out of that office.

After leaving the office I thought about the interior work of wisdom. Sometimes it is a lot like drawing blood from an uncooperative vein. The lessons learned, bring pain and there doesn’t seem anything to show for it. However, if we keep at it, sooner or later the innermost parts of us are touched and the fruits of our searching produce needed results.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Fresh

Image result for porters chapel methodist columbia, tn

Fresh

Beth and I went to a small church a couple hundred yards from our home this morning. Even though we’ve been in our house for almost 3 years we hadn’t visited and thought it’s about time. It is an old church complete with white wooden siding on the outside and wooden pews along with an altar rail on the inside.

The people who met us were nice and inviting. One woman was “too inviting” as she forced a hug from me, a notorious non-hugger. We settled in our pew and waited for the service to begin. As a one-time pastor of a small church I’ve witnessed what folks do when they spot someone new; descend on them like kids on ice cream. They kept coming, shaking our hands, telling us they were glad we had visited. Finally, after what seemed like forever, the service began and everyone found their seat. I whispered to Beth; “We should’ve arrived late so as not to attract so much attention!

The service was loose and unorganized. There was no doubt these families had worshipped a long time together and knew each other well. After the singing, prayers, a kids moment, and offering the pastor stood behind a big pulpit and began to preach. As he did a woman stood up who was sitting in the front pew, holding a basket and began to go to everyone and offer them something. When she got to us I noticed it was candy. She offered me a piece, I took it and she moved on making sure everyone had a piece before sitting back down.

I had never experienced a church doing that before. Was it distracting? A bit. Was it necessary? No. Was it nice to have a piece of candy while listening to the preacher? Certainly. It was a fresh way to feel united with a bunch of strangers. It almost made up for the hugger!…almost.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Heart Hunger

Heart Hunger

This afternoon I attended a meeting where a speaker talked about babies born being addicted to drugs. The mothers of these soon to be born children were addicts of both prescribed and unprescribed drugs and when the baby emerged from the womb it too craved the narcotics.

It was heartbreaking to hear the stories of some of the moms. 85% were on welfare, didn’t have much in the way of education, lived in poverty and were receiving the help of many community and national organizations. What was even sadder was the moms knew their addictions were harming their unborn child and yet couldn’t break the cycle. The addiction had overtaken the heart of the mother and superseded their instincts to care for their soon to be born child. The hunger for being a good mom was less than the appetite for the drugs.

Our hearts, the souls, and spirits of us are powerful. They can give us the strength to overcome the greatest of challenges and reach heights unthinkable or take us to the depths of hell and nightmares unimaginable. Wisdom teaches us to choose today who we will be tomorrow. Choose carefully because our decisions mean life or suffering and death.

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

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

 

Highs and Unknowns

Highs & Unknowns

Earlier today I helped a friend install a street light on a cottage in his backyard. It was quite the climb to the top of the ladder with a new lighting assembly.  My wife held that ladder, and prayed, as I fixed the light atop the building.

As I was working I felt something strange land on my head and began crawling but every time I reached up whatever it was moved to another place on my dome. Finally, holding on to the ladder with one hand, I knocked off the unknown creature. It was a frog!  I have no idea how the frog made its way onto the roof but this one was quite the climber.

After dispatching it, I finished installing the light and climbed down still shaking my head at the frog from nowhere. It was a great reminder that no matter how high we climb the ladder of life there are always unknown challenges that can come from nowhere to test our balance and our wisdom.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Choices


Choices

Last night was our Spring 2017 Certificate Celebration for our Incarcerated Father’s class. On this night we give the men a nice graduation certificate, an official letter that can be used to help them progress towards parole, pizza and pop. We also talk about what they’ve learned and how they’re going to use this knowledge.

About half way through the class the speaker system in the room crackled and the voice called a name. The resident answered and the voice said his ride was here to pick him up. He was going home! All of sudden nothing mattered. Not the pizza, pop, or the celebration. It was his time to get out and he was taking advantage of the opportunity. I met him at the door and told him I’d he needed anything he had my contact information and looked him square in the eye and said; “Make good choices.” He smiled and said he would.

In life there are the important things and the real important things. He chose one last night and hope he continues to make the right choices.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

A Way

A Way

Several weeks ago I discovered by accident a small nest which had been hollowed out in a dead stump (https://thewannabesaint.com/2017/03/18/new-life-in-dead-things/). Yesterday, while doing some yard work I came across the stump again and looked inside to see if the mother bird had returned to her nest or abandoned it after the chaos of her home and offspring being picked up and moved. To my relief and delight the mother did return, nursed her young and now the nest was empty. In spite of the turmoil life still happened.

It was a wonderful reminder that life even with all its challenges, difficulties and fear isn’t easy to stop. We exist in a world where there are so many dangers and threats to life and a fair, egalitarian living for everyone. With all the craziness in the world, countries gone wild and threatening other nations and the planet that perhaps we are near the end. I still choose to believe that life will find a way.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Perfect 


Perfect

It is a perfect day! Blue skies, moderate temperature, nice breeze. You couldn’t make an afternoon more desirable if you tried. I am waiting to go into the jail to hold a class for incarcerated fathers. The sterile atmosphere, concrete floors and steel doors will be in stark contrast to what’s just beyond the walls.

What I’d like to do is bottle up this day and take it into class with me. I wouldn’t have to teach or say a word. I’d open the bottle and stand back! Nature would speak for me. It would talk of beauty, freedom, joy and life. 

I wonder if it would inspire the students to never be confined, cut off, unable to experience a day like this again? I think it might.

Blessings,

@BrianLoging (Twitter)

thewannabesaint.com 

Words


Words

Last night, at the county jail, I overheard someone talking with an incarcerated resident who will be paroled soon. The person joked; “I’ll see you back here in a couple of days.” The resident responded; “Probably, seems like I can’t stay away from here.” The conversation felt like someone punched me in the stomach.

One of our goals at the incarceration facility is to teach the men how to think differently. Most of the men grew up in dysfunctional homes, surrounded by difficult environments. Their minds work a certain way because they’ve been conditioned to do so. Raised with violence, drugs, alcohol, abuse, distant or absent parents, and other challenges give them a skewed understanding of who, what they are and should be as a person.

Trying to change the mindset for most of these men is tenuous at best and to have someone reinforce their old patterns is frustrating.

Words are powerful. The old saying; “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me.” Is not only wrong but devastatingly so.

Every utterance we speak is packed with power. As the Master says; “Spoken words contain life and death.” Wisdom teaches us not to speak unless it improves upon the silence. It’s a way of reminding us that careless words which escape from our mouths can imprison others and ourselves.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Motion


Motion

When your only bathroom in the house is being remodeled you find creative ways to workarounds the missing bathroom. You wash your hair with a cup in the kitchen sink, take sponge baths, and other ways to do other bathroom things.

Life has a way of making us adapt. We get used to what’s normal just to experience the demolition and forced to adjust or be lost in confusion.

Wisdom teaches us to be aware of how transient life is and how “normal” is an illusion. Everything temporal is always in flux. The key isn’t finding a place that never changes but learning to find peace in the motion.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Safe

Image result for safe spaceSafe

It has begun!

Several weeks ago my wife and I hired someone to remodel our bathroom. Today, they started. I work at home and it wasn’t easy to focus on anything with the bathroom being demolished a few feet away.

A safe space is important for someone like me who’s battling a major depressive disorder and a severe anxiety disorder or another who deals with any mental health issues. We need a quiet, mostly uninterrupted space where we can collect our thoughts, process the day that was and prepare for the next day.  This week I don’t have that and it has me concerned.

In times and seasons when our rhythm is disrupted, our safe space invaded, what we use to cope is taken away, we need to remember that all outward places we look for protection are not always available. The safest space is in the arms of grace, a deep abiding peace which travels with you wherever you go.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Absence of Disease 

Absence of Disease

This afternoon, at a staff meeting, we listened to a Harvard University graduate talk about happiness, mindfulness, and contentment. He was humorous and engaging with lots of information.

One of the things he said that seemed to resonate with the staff was; “Absence of disease is not health.” It takes a while for the truth of this sentence to sink in. We often think sickness, a diagnosis, a trouble, challenge, a difficulty, is what keeps us from a contented life. Perhaps it’s a new job, losing weight,  a promotion, a relationship or whatever that will make us happy.

Wisdom teaches us that anytime our quality of life depends on outward circumstances we are not where we need to be, ie: unhealthy. CS Lewis says; “Never let your happiness depend on something which can be taken away.”

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Aware of Surroundings


Aware of Surroundings

On my way to a meeting this morning I was passing through a town with several four way stops. I was also behind an elder gentleman who not only fully stopped at each sight but lingered and proceeded slowly, very slowly, to the next. After a while my patience was wearing thin and I was thinking; “Please just go faster!” We approached the final four way stop, still at a snail’s pace. Trying to mind push him through the four way stop I followed him closely. Half-way in the intersection I realized I didn’t look to see if someone was waiting to go after the elder and should’ve gone before me. Sure enough there was a driver watching the knucklehead (me) go without waiting his turn. I waved at the person, mouthing; “Sorry!” And feeling embarrassed as I slinked through.

My problem wasn’t the elderly man in front of me it was that I allowed someone else to distract me and lose my focus. Luckily the waiting driver was aware of me when I was not.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Each Decision

Image result for zen quote petal

Each Decision

One of the hardest disciplines to commit to in life is letting go of things, places, and people who are not good for us.

Wisdom teaches us that to have an ordered life, one that is not torn between calm and chaos, requires us to evaluate all that we possess, or possess us. In an examination such as this, we decide what is holding us back and what will allow us to let go and find serenity.

Google defines serenity as; the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled (“an oasis of serenity amidst the bustling city”). As I read this definition and it’s example, I was struck with the image. As OASIS in a BUSTLING city. The place of peace and stillness is not found in the desert, on a mountain top, a cabin in the woods but in the midst of the hustle and bustle of today, this moment.

Letting go or being dragged comes down to how we want to exist in our physical, emotional and spiritual being. It is the choice we make as each second ticks by leading us to the destination that is dictated by our most important decision.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

 

Smell of Success 


Smell of Success

My truck smells good! It’s Certificate Ceremony Celebration night for one of my Incarcerated Fathers classes. For 10 weeks they’ve listened to me, took notes, completed homework and now the smell of success will go from my truck to the classroom. They’ll also receive a completion certificate, a letter of recommendation, but pizza will be their most beloved prize tonight.

Its amazing how quickly you can get to know and like someone. These guys are serving sentences for everything from drug running to stealing to assault. Some of them have been beaten down by a system that’s can be more punitive than educational. However, the sheriff in this county believes in redemption, that no one is beyond saving. We’re all human and nothing really separates us except the walls we erect.

So, off I go. A glamorous pizza delivery guy. I hope, when all is said and done, they will have received much more from me than a few slices of pie.

Blessings,
Brian Loging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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