Category Archives: Mindfulness

What You Hear, What You See

Image result for yanny or laurel

What You Hear, What You See

The new debate that is dividing the nation is no longer pro-Trump or Never Trump, democrat or republican, progressive or conservative, not even black and blue dress or white and gold dress. The division now is whether you hear; “Laurel” or “Yanny” when you play the following audio clip; (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDiXQl7grPQ). The numbers are almost even, 53% to 47%.

As I listened to the audio file and the scientific reason behind what and why we hear a certain word I also began reflecting on our brains and how they interpret information. There’s a quote that reads; “You’re unique just like everyone else.” It’s funny but also true. Not one person on this planet has lived the same life. We are all on this path called life but in different, never walked on before places.

I read an article last week about the “version” of ourselves we want others to see and how its impossible to successfully project this image to another. The problem is each person has experienced a myriad of choices, events, experiences, that have shaped who they are and how they see people. In other words, people see us mostly because of who they are not who we try to be. As many people as we know there are this many “versions” of ourselves.

The question isn’t “Laurel or Yanny?” but why do we spend so much time trying to be someone other than ourselves?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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For the Moms

For the Moms

Not that there’s any doubt but I am not a mom. I do wonder, however, what’s it like to be a mom, a human being capable of growing another human being inside them, and then feeding the offspring with their bodies. It truly is a miracle.

I also know, with a few exceptions, that a mother’s love is staggering when it comes to these little ones she has produced. There are no mountains too high, valleys too low, burdens too heavy, distances too great that she will not travail and overcome for the sake of her children.

Wisdom, in many cultures, including the Hebrew and Judaic, is painted in feminine colors. Too often wisdom gets the short end of the stick compared to justice and strength. Wisdom, however, is like a mother’s love; fierce, unrelenting, overwhelming, and never to be underestimated.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Curiosity

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Curiosity

Last week I wrote about a family of rabbits living under our shed. Yesterday I discovered one of the parents has become braver. I had let the dog out to take care of his business and realized too late there was a bunny in his vicinity. The rabbit watched Trooper as I watched it. It was perfectly still, on high alert, but didn’t move. Finally, our husky moved on and the rabbit relaxed until Trooper came bounding toward the front door ready to come in. It was then the bunny decided to high-tail it back under the porch.

A couple of weeks ago a rabbit ran right in front of Trooper and he casually looked at it and went about his duties. When he was younger he would’ve chased, and probably caught, the four-legged hopper. However, now that he is almost thirteen years old he conserves his energy for playing with us or sniffing the entire yard.

I wondered if the rabbit doesn’t feel afraid because Trooper has never chased it. Does his natural curiosity override his life-saving senses? As someone who lives with high anxiety, I too am “ready to run, fight, freeze” at the slightest threat. However, after I realize certain people aren’t a threat to harm, insult, shun me I relax and become curious enough to discover connection and relationship.

In a fast-paced busy world, it’s hard to take time to establish connections and build friendships. Hopefully, those of us who are more hesitant won’t be left behind.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Spoilers

Spoilers

I am sitting outside a movie theater waiting on Beth to arrive so we can go see the new Avengers movie; Infinity War. The movie came out a week ago and though we both wanted to see it we just haven’t had the opportunity. Its been rough avoiding spoilers. They are everywhere! The websites I visit, the commercials on TV and the net, the friends who saw it over the weekend. Making sure I stay as unspoiled as possible takes a lot of work. Finally, in a few hours I won’t have to worry about it.

This afternoon, before getting ready to come I thought about the discipline of watching over our thoughts. Negative ones have a way of penetrating our brains and making themselves at home. Often we allow judgmental, insulting, harsh and harmful thoughts about ourselves and others to spoil our lives and the lives of others.

We each can be discerning in what we look at, allow entrance, and take up residence in our hearts, mind and spirits.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Truth

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Truth

Last night I watched the “The Post” starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. The film is described as; “thrilling, based on a true story. Determined to uphold the nation’s civil liberties, Katharine Graham (Streep), publisher of The Washington Post, and hard-nosed editor Ben Bradlee (Hanks) join forces to expose a decades-long cover-up. But the two must risk their careers –– and their freedom –– to bring truth to light in this powerful film (https://www.foxmovies.com/movies/the-post).” It was an interesting movie dealing with an historic and chaotic time in this nation that I am too young to remember. I did find myself cheering Streep’s and Hank’s characters on as they took a case of the freedom of the press all the way to the Supreme Court. I won’t spoil the ending but it was a good watch and worth anyone’s time who is interested in an event that would directly impact how the press covered the Watergate break-in  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watergate_scandal) and news moving forward to the present.

What I’ve wrestled with since watching the movie is; “News exists in a vacuüm. The lives of the reporters, editors, and publishers are swayed by their political leanings, experiences, preferences, and worldviews.” We as the readers face the same limitation in our consumption of news. There are so many places to receive our news today that we can stay perpetually stuck in a bubble where only our viewpoints are legitimized. When this happens we cease being open to new ideas or our current ones being scrutinized and challenged. We become entombed, trapped by our own beliefs and limited knowledge. The truth isn’t important anymore only our belief of what is true.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Stuck Behind

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Stuck Behind

This morning, on my way to a community group for dads, I turned left on a road and ended up stuck behind a FedEx truck. He was going slow and I couldn’t tell if it was him or if there was a slow-poke in front of him. I don’t like being behind large semi-trucks, vans with no windows or box trucks because you can’t see what’s ahead. We were on a two-lane road with no place to pass and no way of knowing how many vehicles I’d have to get in front of if I tried passing. I was stuck. The FedEx truck was intermittently breaking taking me by surprise and frustrating me. So, I took a breath and let off the gas and gave the obstacle in my way, blocking my view, more room. We finally made it to a four-lane road and I passed him noting there were a few cars in front of him that he had been stuck behind.

It was a good reminder that at times, in certain seasons, we can’t make the progress we’d like to make. For whatever reason we are stuck and the way forward is hidden from view. We try to fight it, force it, make it work the way we want it to but this only keeps us frustrated. Allowing for slowness, even stillness gives us a chance to catch our breath and trust that when its time the way forward will come into view.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Invasion

Image result for lady bugs light fixtures

Invasion

The past few weeks there’s been an invasion of Middle Tennessee! The multi-legged, orange-colored, flying insects called Ladybugs. They’re everywhere and this morning they kept stealing my attention away from the pastor as he spoke from the Book of Saint John, chapter 12. They were collecting near every light fixture which was about 10 feet from the pews the people were sitting in. Every now and then one or ten would fly across the room landing on someone. One tried to use my neck as a resting place but he didn’t stay there long. I watched hundreds on one light fixture as they crawled around it seemingly looking for a way in. I am not sure if they were attracted to the heat or the light. Of course, once in it was nearly impossible for them to get out. They very thing they were after was actually a trap. They would die there getting what they wanted but not able to get out.

I reflected on the Ladybug’s fate and how it also mirrored our own fascination with those things in life which promise safety, warmth, and light. We become fixated on things which we believe will make life better, bring satisfaction and enlightenment only to find out once we’ve achieved or possessed them it was an illusion. Wisdom teaches that what is worth having comes to us. It is our humility, our acceptance that we are not able to control or manipulate love, peace, kindness and a grace-filled life that makes it possible for these to permeate our minds, emotions, and spirits and bring a unique warmth and light to our cold and dark world.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Groovy

Groovy

Today I am thankful for “shoulder rumble strips” which are; “used primarily to reduce run-off-road collisions. They alert distracted or drowsy drivers that they are leaving the roadway or crossing the centerline of the road.

This morning I awoke before sun up, to take a trip. It wasn’t especially early since the sun doesn’t come out as soon as it did before the time change over the weekend. I didn’t feel tired. I try not to be distracted when I drive but most people feel this way. As I drove down a stretch of interstate the car drifted and before I knew it I was riding on the shoulder rumble strips. They make an awful racket and the dog, asleep in the back of the car, popped his head up as if to ask; “What are you doing?!?!” I yelled back at him that everything was okay and he laid back down. Those shoulder strips can be annoying but I also see how they can be a lifesaver alerting a fatigued or inattentive driver.  I didn’t feel I was either of those but admit they worked and caused me to be more careful to stay in my lane.

It’s good to have people and things which “keep us in our lane” and help us be aware, mindful, so we can continue on our journey and not be stopped or wander off in a different direction. I am thankful for those who assist me in staying the course and alerting me when I begin to drift.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Difference

Difference

This rainy Monday morning I had several errands to run. It was messy, wet and cold. Parking cars, dodging rain drops, running in and out of buildings is not a fun time. Finally, after it was all done I headed home making the comment; “There would have to be a big difference in this nasty weather for me to even think about going out again!” Unloaded the car, ate lunch, and fell asleep in a recliner. Woke up and the skies had parted and the sun was shining. I smiled to myself thinking; “What a difference stillness, rest makes!”

Still decided not to go anywhere but my outlook on the day was much improved.

Blessings,

@BrianLoging (Twitter)

thewannabesaint.com

Comfort

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Comfort

I drove my wife’s car on this cool Wednesday. I enjoy my truck but it doesn’t have one of the greatest inventions in the history of humankind; heated seats.  With the flip of a button, the warmth of coils embedded in the chairs begins to make its way to my shoulders, back and posterior. Its one of those luxuries you don’t realize you “need” it until you use it.

As the heat of the car and the seats began to permeate my body, and ever thinning hairline, I thought about the creature comforts of life. Where do we draw the line at things which we need versus things we like.  A roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, food on a table are things which we need, can’t live without. Television, internet (yes, even the internet), automobiles, computers, phones, and a host of other “things we think we can’t live without.”

Wisdom has a way of winnowing our list of life-items showing us what we truly need, simplifying and emphasizing what’s important and what’s not.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Smoldering

Smoldering

On Saturday afternoon I burned a pile of branches, old newspapers, and other miscellaneous items. The smell of the ashes and leftover debris lingered in the air the next day. I had forgotten to grab an old wooden rocking chair out of the reading room which also needed to be disposed of. When I noticed it Sunday afternoon I wondered if the smoldering ash would still be hot enough to do anything. I took the chair out, broke it into several pieces and put some under the coals, which were still a faint orange, and put the rest in a pile on top. I checked it after a while and noticed the smoke had increased. About an hour later the wood was ablaze with a good flame. It didn’t take long to consume it once the fire restarted. Not too long afterward the chair was gone.

I wrote last week about the struggles I have when February rolls around. Many years have passed but the layers of hurt, anger, and uncertainty still lay buried, ready to ignite when fuel is added. What I try to do, instead of dwelling on the past, is not feed the flames. When I am aware and notice my mind drifting back to the place of pain I find a place to breathe. I close my eyes and take deep breaths. I remind myself of the truth that I cannot change the past but I can be present in the now. Does it always work? No. Does it work? Yes. Maybe one day I will be healed, maybe not, but I don’t want to give up on living today because of the difficulties of yesterday.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Big Ol’ Pile

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Big Ol’ Pile

In our second bedroom/exercise room, we have a queen size bed. At least we think we do. Most of the time it is covered in clean clothes. We call the ever-growing pile; “Mount Clothesmore.” Eventually, we decide to scale the mountain and fold the clothes. This was my chore today. I don’t like folding clothes. I think it’s because it never ends. You fold, put them up, wear them, wash and dry them, and then back on the bed. The cyclic nature of it all can make you feel as if it doesn’t matter whether the chore gets done or not. To prove my point, when I finished today Beth said; “There are more clothes in the dryer!” See? Never ending. Most of life is this way. You get up and do the same things over and over. Eating, working, exercise (maybe), chores, bed. Repeat. It can begin to feel as if nothing matters.

How do we keep going? How do we find meaning in this Big Ol’ Pile of cyclic activities we call; “life“? Being mindful helps. Trying to be aware of the differences each unique day and moment brings. There are new things to see, to experience. Things which give us a one of a kind, never done before, never to be repeated, life.

Perhaps, the question to ask ourselves is; “Am I ready? Am I looking? Am I expecting to see, to find, that new thing which makes all the other mundane stuff worth doing?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Investing

Investing –

This morning I had a meeting with another community organization. I was presenting a new opportunity to work with fathers in our area and hoped they would help us. I have presented ideas, data, skills and a host of other information, to more organizations and ministries than I can count. I’ve never been asked to leave or had a bad experience but have had the occasional person I was talking to be looking at their phone, out the window or at their watch. Those presentations and discussion following seem to drag on forever. I’ve also had the organization be excited about the opportunity to partner with us. Most, however, are somewhere in the middle.

Today’s meeting was the exception because the woman whom I was meeting with was excited and had some great ideas as to how we could make part of our plan work at her location. She paid attention, listened intently, took notes, asked questions and made me feel welcomed and not rushed to finish so she could start doing something else. In other words, she was fully present in our time together. It was awesome.

It was a great reminder the difference we can make in other people’s lives if we invest our time, our kindness, our respect, and our lives in theirs.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Wasted Minds

Wasted Minds

This has been a tumultuous week following the shooting at Parkland High School in Florida. People have chosen sides on the gun debate and have used this tragedy as an example as to why they are on the side of the angels. I’ve seen countless posts about gun rights and gun restrictions. I have posted my opinion on the gun debate on my blog in the last couple of weeks if you care to know where I stand on this cultural, moral and spiritual issue. Everyone has their argument at the ready. They grab screenshots, tweet, put a photo on Instagram, use memes, videos and Facebook are so full of posts on the issue it’s hard to find anything else.

I think it’s an issue which needs many conversations. There’s not an easy solution and anyone who thinks there is hasn’t thought about it enough. What doesn’t need to happen is more arguing over the subject. We are a divided people in our country and it seems every “Breaking News” headline on whatever channel we watch, or website we read, erodes our relationships with those with differing views more.

Whatever side we’re on, opinion we possess, idea we espouse, we should also respect and love our neighbor.  If we can’t then our voice is wasted, nothing changes and the world continues to go to hell.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Single Moment

Single Moment

One of my favorite wisdom quotes is; “All we ever have is this present moment but if we do it right, it’s all we need.” Moments in time are what life is made up of. If we mindfully put enough of them together there’s a life worth living.

About an hour ago I needed to drive into town and pick up some medicine for my wife who has a nasty flu bug that’s been making the rounds. On the way home I was stopped at a traffic light where two lanes merge into one after the light turns green. There was an elderly woman behind me who must’ve just come from the beauty shop. She stopped before she needed to and was blocking traffic from both lanes. I looked in my mirror and watched her as she admired her hairdo. She played with it, flicked it with her fingertips. She was enjoying her hair and herself. Behind her was another driver who wasn’t enjoying the display. She wanted to get into the other lane but couldn’t because the beauty queen was lost in her own world.

Here’s my question; “Which one was living in the moment and which wasn’t?” Part of being mindful is the awareness of the creation around you but it’s also enjoying the little things which can make a big difference. Was I being mindful as I watched the two people in my mirror? Did I miss something because I was “rubbernecking?”

Each moment is special, unique, never to be repeated. Finding the center, the stillness, the focus of not focusing takes the journey of a lifetime. I’m still learning but aware enough to know there are things I need to know.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

What’s in a Day?

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What’s in a Day?

I was once asked by someone; “What do you want to do with your life? What are your plans for the future?” I was sitting outside, leaned back and thought for a moment and then surprising my interrogator and myself replied; “I’m doing it. I am content. I have no more plans.” My friend didn’t like my answer because everyone should have something they are striving for. How else can you measure life unless it’s by your accomplishments? As a contemplative wisdom teaches that days are measured by the moments when you are aware of your connectedness to all living things and that the universe is in every experience.

What would you do if today were your last? Martin Luther is reputed to have said, “If I knew the world would end tomorrow, I would plant a tree.” In other words, I would contribute to the beauty of the world and thus the universe. As Marcus Aurelius states in the quote, I would want to live my last day as I hope to live every day; “without frenzy, without apathy, without pretense.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

What’s on Your Plate?

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What’s on Your Plate? –

This afternoon, at a county health council meeting, a speaker from Vanderbilt Hospital gave us a lecture on the importance of heart health. February is Heart Health Month so it was certainly appropriate. He talked about healthy eating even stating; “If it tastes good it’s not good for you!” That certainly got everyone’s attention. He softened the blow a little by following up with limiting the amount of unhealthy, high fat, processed, high-calorie food and increasing healthy choices. The speaker had arrived late and lunch had been served before his lecture. The food wasn’t what he’d call the best in choices but not the worst either. After he sat down and the meeting dismissed someone mentioned to the attendees that there was plenty of food left over from the lunch and to please take some home. I can only imagine what the speaker was thinking as he watched people make “to go” plates. It certainly is a difficult job to get people to think differently, choose differently.

One of the disciplines of mindfulness is mindful eating. It is the recognition that everything we put in our mouths comes from the world around us. It’s not just consuming but being aware that each piece of meat, every spoonful of veggies, a bite of fruit, is a result of the creation we all apart of, participate in and exist in intimate connection. Too often, however, we just consume. Not only food but almost everything in our lives is used and abused, grabbed and possessed, with no thought of creation or consequence to our consumption.

What’s on our plate is, and is more than, the food we eat but also what we allow to fill up our lives.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Catch Me

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Catch Me

Pastors, social workers, nurses, doctors, organizations, and ministries are, by design, places where people get help. The help comes in many forms but the places which offer assistance are staffed, mostly, by people who want to reach out to the unfortunate among us. These unfortunate ones are not always poor, addicted, homeless, challenged mentally, grew up with poor role models, but many do bear one or more of these burdens.

The urge is to rescue them. To be the hero in the story of their lives. To sweep in with our resources and connections and leave them in awe at how their lives are now healed and whole. However, it doesn’t take long to discover we may want to help but we do not have the power to change their lives. Only they can do what needs to be done. They must be the hero, their own rescuer. We can provide them with the tools and skills to begin the transformation but they do the work of lasting change.

It is this way for all of us. Too often we want the easy way to self-discovery, enlightenment, and fulfillment but there is no easy way. It is a journey both inside of us and out. We will have company on the road of life but the steps to the destination must be our own.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Stolen

Stolen

Earlier this week someone took something that didn’t belong to them. I knew who it was but had to figure out how to ask for the item back without humiliating or embarrassing the person in front of his peers. At first, I asked the group if anyone had forgotten to return all items they had used. Nothing. So then, standing next to the man who had the item, I said; “Okay, who has (insert item name)?” The man started to laugh and gave it to me while the other people in the group laughed with him. “I almost got away with it,” he said with a chuckle in his voice. I breathed a sigh of relief because I knew I couldn’t let him walk away and a confrontation could have a detrimental impact on the progress we’ve made. Obviously, he’s still a work in progress but aren’t we all?

Good choices. It’s the cornerstone of all the services our organization does with males. Without good choices, life is harder than it needs to be and can exact a tremendous and painful toll. Old habits, ways of thinking, choosing the best isn’t easy but not impossible. Grace, kindness and an opportunity for forgiveness are things we all need.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Sharp

Sharp

Today is a wonderful, relaxing, rainy Saturday. A day where the tin roof on the porch sings; “Rest, take it easy, don’t worry about what can’t be done. Just be.” It’s the kind of day we all need more than “once in a while.”  We’ve lost the art of powering down, putting off things until tomorrow, sitting and letting go of schedules, to-do lists, and allowing our spirits, minds, emotions, and bodies to heal, recover from the hurry, harried pace of our lives.

Staying constantly sharpened can wear out the blade.” Wisdom teaches us to wait, enjoy the serenity, like a leaf in a slow-moving part of the stream. Sooner or later the pace picks up and life starts to quicken but for now, in this moment, simply soak in the stillness.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Mistaken Identity

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Mistaken Identity

Today we had a staff meeting at our main office. During the meeting we watched a video on the impact not sleeping enough can have on a person mentally and physically. It’s not good. Before the video, I was trying to get someone’s attention and kept saying their name over and over. Yet, they didn’t acknowledge me. I spoke louder and louder until they turned toward me and asked; Are you talking to me?” “Of course,’ I thought, ‘why else would I be saying your name?” Then she and other staffers informed me that wasn’t her name. She didn’t answer when I called because her name wasn’t mentioned. In my defense, I was close but not close enough. People laughed but I felt bad not remembering her name. When she told me it I instantly knew but until then…I think perhaps I’m getting old.

Wisdom teaches us that we must know who we are or we will answer to anything. To be in touch with our true identities, our real selves takes time, patience, and breaking through the walls of our false selves. This seems like too much work for some and they settle for being their work selves, familial selves, parental selves, friend and family selves or a combination. The problem is when these selves are destroyed and shadows will be what’s left.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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