Category Archives: Mindfulness

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

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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

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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

The End

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The End

Today is the end of 2016. Fittingly it is a rainy, messy, lazy, stay inside type of day. 2016 has seemed to be filled with more bad than good, negative than positive, a seismic movement towards evil leaving good behind. Even as I write the last sentence images of natural disaster, murders, political theater in the absurd, and the death of people everyone knew and those who impacted lives on a less grand scale but no less important to the ones who still mourn their loss.

Also, as I blog this post it is my understanding that not everyone sees 2016 the same way. Some people had a worse year than what I’m describing and others a wonderful year full of blessings, answers to prayer and enjoyment.

My feeling of the year which has passed is a general feeling of woe for our country and world. Myopically 2016 wasn’t a bad year. Personally, I am still blessed with the most wonderful wife a man could be married to, a job that has seen a lot of changes but an enormous amount of good done for others, a house far from perfect but feels more like home each day, and cast of good people I consider my family and friends.

I continue to pray, hope and seek help for my Major Depressive Disorder and Anxiety Disorder. For the first time, I feel my meds, therapy, and personal recovery are headed in the right direction. The diseases I fight are not and will never be easy but having people who care enough to keep fighting with you makes the battles less scary and victory more likely.

So, here’s to 2016, may it rest in peace.  2017? Here’s hoping you’re better than I’m expecting.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Wait and Trust

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Wait and Trust –

Twice today, once by an ambulance and another by a fire truck, I was forced to move over to the far right lane on my way to and from Nashville. Most other drivers did the same and traffic slowed to a crawl until the emergency vehicles passed or exited. The law states drivers are required to get out-of-the-way so those who are on their way to help someone in need can get where they’re going as fast, and safely, as possible.

I try to remember to pray for the unknown victims to which these emergency responders are headed when I encounter them. I also reflected today on the times in our lives when tragedy and unforeseen crises hit. Often times our urge is to hurry and try to fix everything ourselves. However, in many cases the best thing we can do is slow down, get out-of-the-way, wait and trust that help is on its way.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Lighting the Way 

Lighting the Way

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

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

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

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

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Brian Wick

Brian Wick

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com 

Not too Late to Start Early

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Not too Late to Start Early

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

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

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

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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What Unites Us

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What Unites Us

This morning our Fatherhood Engagement program held a Father-Child reading event in a little town named Hohenwald. The event was at the library in town, so I stopped by Wal-Mart, grabbed a few brunch items and according to the clock in the truck would arrive plenty early to set up and do whatever else needed to be done for a successful affair.

Approaching downtown I noticed people with bright orange jackets, hoodies and hats standing in the middle of the road. I wasn’t sure if something bad had happened but slowed down and proceeded cautiously. Getting closer I realized they were collecting money for something and the light turned green so I wasn’t able to ask; “Why? What reason?

We were close to getting started at the library when I noticed a woman walking towards the exit. She was wearing a bright orange hat and I stopped her and inquired; “Are you with the folks at the traffic lights?  What are you collecting monies for?” She told me they were a local hunting club , raising funds for impoverished children at Christmas. They did this fundraiser every year to help those in need.It was interesting to put the two things together; “hunting club and children’s’ Christmas fundraiser.” 

I needed that conversation today. I’m not a hunter, don’t like guns, but I love kids and think everyone should have a little something under the tree on Christmas day. If this woman and I would have talked more we probably would have discovered a lot of differences between us but, hopefully, even more similarities.

 After a week of divisiveness and choosing sides, labeling, judging, and protesting I needed to be reminded that what unites us is often fargreater than what divides us.

May peace and wisdom be upon our nation. Amen.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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For the Weary 

For the Weary –

Today, I am tired. I did a few house chores this afternoon, worked from home for awhile this morning but it’s been slow going.

I’m not sure if it’s an election hangover or simply being worn out from a busy work week. Probably both.

Life isn’t easy. I have been reflecting on the election the last few days. As the dust settles some are ready to build, others feel covered in dirt as if they’re being prepared for burial. As each side recovers from a scorched Earth political season there is an uneasy silence. Both sides have little fight left. Bridging of the fissures of our nation will begin at the appropriate time but not soon, if ever, for lack of conviction, ability and perhaps desire. We all need time to heal.

I sit in a parking lot waiting for a play my wife’s performing in. We went to dinner before and she noticed my tiredness. “You okay?” “Just tired.” my reply. I could tell she was also looking for the energy to perform over the next three days. Our dinner seemed like silence with moments of words injected into it.

Now, I’ll go inside, enjoy Beth’s play and hopefully be thankful for the distraction from the weariness or weary mess life can sometimes be.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Choose Wisely

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Choose Wisely

Yesterday I needed to drive into town and sign some important documents. I wasn’t excited about dropping everything I was doing and running this errand but there was no other option. On the way, it seemed like every light was red, the road was occupied with the slowest of drivers, and I even had to pull over for a funeral procession.

By the time I arrived to sign the papers my patience was wearing thin. I walked in, told the woman behind the counter my name and what documents I needed to sign. She looked all around her with no luck. There were three two-drawer metal filing cabinets behind her. She pulled on one with no luck and began looking for the keys. “Sigh!” She found the key to one of the filing cabinet and said over her shoulder to me; “It has to be in one of these!” “Ugh!”

She opened the first one and no luck. She then looked for and found the key to the second one, opened it up and…no papers. Finding the third key she opened the last filing cabinet and; “Tada!” I signed the papers, told the woman thank you, and began to drive back home. I immediately became aware that my patience was thin and I needed to breathe out the tension and anxiety and breathe in stillness and peace.

  • As much as I like to consider myself a contemplative, patience isn’t my default emotional and mental place. Like the filing cabinets; I start with frustration, move to irritation with patience and letting go, seeming to be one of the last drawers I open.
  • I hope, pray, that one day instead of patience and peace being one of the final options they will be my first and only.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Tasty

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Tasty

“Does not the ear test words as the tongue tastes food?” Book of Job

This was an interesting question from my morning reading. It’s visually vibrant to think of the ear tasting words to test whether or not they’re good.

Yesterday my wife tasted some potato salad she made last week to know if it was still good. No crinkled face meant it was good to eat. A couple of weeks ago I left a drink in the truck and a hot day later grabbed it instead of one I just bought, took a big swig, and almost spit it out all over the truck cab. It was not good.

I think it would be a good thing if we when we spoke words which hurt, insulted, were untrue, our faces would match what we said, the intent in which they were given. It would’ve been especially interesting to watch the Presidential debate last night if this were a reality.

Our words are powerful. They are stronger than fists, guns and can wound more severely. In a culture where words fly out of people’s mouths, from social media, radio, TV, and internet sites, its good to imagine mean, hostile, judgmental, evil words contorting a person’s face to match their speech. It also begs the questions; “What type of words do we speak? What would our face look like?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Feeling Around

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Feeling Around

Dirty dishes, like dirty clothes, seem to multiply at an impossibly exponential rate in almost every household.

Yesterday afternoon, I washed the dishes which had been piling up and grabbed a small Coca-Cola glass. I pulled it out of the soapy water to see if there were any spots I missed and discovered it had somehow broken while in the sink. I walked over to the trash can and disposed of it but knew I wasn’t finished with the glass.

By the shape of the break, it looked like a large singular piece was somewhere in the water. I couldn’t see so I put my hands in the soapy water and began slowly, methodically, making my way through the water. I knew the feel of spoons, knives, forks, bowls and other glasses that they weren’t what I was searching for but finally discovered the broken piece. I carefully brought it out of the sink and threw it away.

I finished washing the dishes and thought about others and myself when things have somehow become broken. Maybe it’s a broken heart, spirit, emotions, or body and it’s hard to see how things can be put back together. When we have a desire to heal we must not rush but carefully, contemplatively, tenderly, kindly find all the broken pieces and hope they can be put back together.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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