Category Archives: Mindfulness

Home

Image result for new home

Home

My friend, role-model, and father passed away early this morning a little after midnight. His fight was over and he was ready. He sat up one last time as if to say, “It’s my time. I’m coming home.

The house seemed empty today when we returned from all the breathless running around one does after a loved one takes their final breath. Even though he hasn’t been home in a few weeks it seemed he had just left the house. Keys, hats, computers, movies, his chair all still in their proper place. It seems this is still his house, his home. But…it’s not. Sure, there are memories and experiences. A lifetime of highs and lows to relive for the rest of our time on this shadow side of eternity but he has moved and left a forwarding address.

I sit in the quietude with his presence still lingering. I think about all of the rough days he’s had over the last 8 months, the noises of the machines which were keeping him alive. After we received the phone call we drove over to the hospice house to say our; “Goodbyes.” The room was so still. No beeping, whirring, pumping, dripping, nurses checking in. It was motionless and the silence was deafening. My mother began to fill the atmosphere with soft cries, and soft words to her best friend and lover of the last 40 years. My brother and I standing in the background, witnesses to a heart affair which is rare in this world. Finally, after a few more kisses from her on his hands and cheek, we left all thankful we’d never see that room again and that he had moved on to his permanent address.

And now, we are left to carry on. To occupy a house which isn’t home without him. To learn to adjust to a new normal we didn’t choose. To loosen our grip on this world, this place, because we know home is waiting for us on the other side.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Lost


Lost

I brought our Siberian Husky, Trooper with us when I came down to see my sick friend a couple of days ago. He’s starting to get used to being in a new place. At first he wasn’t sure where to go, what to do and I walked with him around the back yard, took him to his room and showed him everything was okay. Now, he runs around outside, sleeps better than I do in his spot by the bed and has a look of “like” not lost.

I sat with my friend today and in between his naps read from a Jewish prayer book. The words of the almost one hundred year old book contains a lot of comfort using readings, poems, reflections and Psalms. They tell of a new world and give glimpses of a place unknown. As I read to my friend I can tell some of the words are hard to hear for a part of him. He knows this place, it’s sights, smells, it’s delights and even it’s difficulties and challenges, are familiar.

I hope what I read to him, what others read, the prayers said pull back the veil enough to help him become comfortable, perhaps a growing longing, for the new place which awaits him.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

 

Similar

Image result for red pickup truck

Similar

This morning, on my way to a meeting, I was driving on the main two-lane road in Columbia, Tennessee. I was about to switch lanes when I happened to look up to see a red truck all of a sudden swerve from behind me in the right to the left lane. He didn’t use a signal or proceed cautiously. He seemed in a hurry to get wherever he was going and I waited for him to pass before signaling and merging to the other lane. A few minutes later a white truck ahead of us both quickly jumped from the right lane to the left lane in front of the red truck and then turned on his signal to turn on to another road. The driver of the red truck had to slam on his brakes and I watched as he shook his head at the carelessness of the other driver. I wondered if it ever dawned on him that they had driving habits in common? Probably not. I reflected on the fact that we recognize bad driving in others but rarely notice it in ourselves. The rest of the way to my meeting I followed the driver of the red truck and pondered if I was also a bad driver but hadn’t realized it yet.

We often spot the bad in the other person. Judge harshly another’s words and actions. We jump to conclusions and condemnations about people we see for a moment and allow it to become the lens by which we determine their motivations and value. We are too quick to label people as something negative because of a lapse in judgment. Our world doesn’t have a lot of empathy. We don’t want to walk a mile in another’s shoes. It’s easier to pronounce them as bad or stupid, unqualified or evil.

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.”
-The Master, Gospel of Saint Matthew 7:3-5

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Forgive

Forgive

I found this to be an interesting quote. I’m not sure how to forgive; “everything” or if everything needs forgiveness but certainly believe that forgiveness. Genuine forgiveness is in short supply.

We live in a world where everyone seems angry over something. We fight with family, friends, strangers, internet buddies, internet trolls about banal topics that are of no consequence and about subjects with grave consequences. The problem is we can’t tell the difference and fight over everything.

To live with an attitude of forgiveness, to be a walking, breathing living example of forgiveness in a world that hates, fights, shames, shuns, is to invite hurt, pain, betrayal, and accusations of being out of touch. However, it’s also the antidote to the poison that threatens to kill all we hold dear.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Hurry!

Image result for skid marks on road

Hurry! –

Today, I was driving down my driveway getting ready to pull out on to the main road. As I approached I noticed there was a truck coming and so I slowed down to wait. However, the truck was going at a snail’s pace so I pulled out, rather, quickly, in front of it. I hit the gas harder once my tires were on the asphalt and put a lot of space between me and the truck. I kept checking in my rearview mirror to make sure the truck was out of sight. This one decision impacted the rest of my day because I spent it behind every slow-moving vehicle and driver. Work trucks, buses, elderly drivers talking to their passengers, young drivers talking on the phone. Even on the way home, I spent the last 5 miles behind a big pick-up truck which was hauling another truck on a trailer.

I was forced to wonder if I hadn’t jumped in front of the slow-moving truck and instead have taken a breath and simply waited, would this have reset my day? Perhaps I’d been a few minutes slower but missed all the other obstacles?

Hurrying, rushing, pressing, not being mindful, has its consequences. Sometimes we miss life, which is happening all around us. Other times life has a way of forcing us to slow down whether we like it or not.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

No Contact

No Contact

A cold front moved through our area last night and this morning bringing with it fall like temperatures and rain. On my way to work today I turned my wipers on to clear the water from my windshield and immediately heard an odd flapping noise. I looked at the wipers as they were swiping left to right and noticed on the passenger’s side the rubber on the far side of right wiper had come off the wiper blade. It wasn’t doing anything but flapping in the wind. As a result, where there should have been a clean windshield instead there was rainwater and condensation.

My day has been spent teaching others how to stay in connection with each other, themselves, emotions, thoughts and deepest selves. It’s troubling that in a world where connection should be easy is getting more difficult. The various social media platforms have become places of strident opinions and harsh judgments. Workplace environments, sporting and other social events, community organizations and even our homes are places where we choose sides and the divisions are growing deeper and harder to cross. Where once there was contact and closeness now there are only people flapping their gums, pounding on their keyboards, yelling at the top of their lungs, and our closeness to each other is being lost.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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

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

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