Blog Archives

Fear

Fear

I heard someone talking today about a giant animated spider a neighbor has in their front yard along with several other Halloween decorations. The problem isn’t the decor but the animated spider scares the man and his dog each time they walk near the house The spider is motion activated so there’s never a moment when the spider won’t “react” when he and the pooch are near the house. He’s resigned to walk a different way and in a different direction until his neighbor puts away the spider. He’s hoping the Christmas decorations will be less traumatic for him and his dog.

As I listened to his story I thought about fear; our reaction to it and it’s reaction to us. There are different things we are each afraid of. What scares one might not bother the other and the stuff of nightmares to one is shrugged off by another.

The man would be silly to try to tell his dog; “It’s not real. It’s fake. Stop being fearful!” Two things keep the dog from understanding. One, the dog doesn’t speak or comprehend language. Two, fear doesn’t work that way. How the man handled it is spot on. He walked a different way so he and his dog would be able to walk in peace.

Too often we try to convince people not to be scared of things. Sometimes this works but most of the time we and the person we are trying to convince not to be fearful end up frustrated and eventually separated. Facing our fears is fine in certain cases but in others walking with another a different way shows love, empathy, and acceptance.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Perfection or Progression

Perfection or Progression

A difficult discipline to master is self-awareness. It is when you are aware of the good and the not so good, the skills you possess and the ones which need work. The biases, skewed vision, different experiences, which make you the uniquely flawed individual like the rest of humanity.

Some of the men I work with have begun to develop this discipline and it is hard for them to see themselves as they truly are, with no excuses. It is especially for those who thought of themselves as good partners and fathers only to discover they have a lot of work to do. If we’re not careful these revelations can do more harm than good because the road seems terribly long. They may even ask; “Why try?

Along with self-awareness, another discipline I try to teach is the truth of progression, not perfection. Oftentimes when we see ourselves, perhaps for the first time, we also envision the amount of hard work inside of ourselves out outside. We have this perfect view of what we want to be and what we think our family, friends, and others want us to be. We throw all of our efforts into becoming this perfect version of ourselves, which doesn’t exist and isn’t attainable, and never come close. We fail miserably.

This is why the path to peace and acceptance is progression, not perfection. We are never going to be the idealized version of what we think we want and should be. We will only wear ourselves out and down. To pursue progression doesn’t mean there isn’t hard work to be done but we recognize the realization of our true selves is found on the journey and not at the end of it.

Perfection or progression, the difference makes all the difference.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Into the Light

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Into the Light

Today was a special day for our incarcerated fathers class. The men, who attended and participated, received a certificate of completion, a letter from me along with pizza and soft drinks. Our certificate ceremony isn’t fancy but it is a way to let the guys know how much I appreciate letting me be a part of their lives for the semester.

Getting in and out of the jail is rarely easy which is, I suppose, the way it should be. There’s buzzers, intercoms, thick steel doors and tempered glass to keep people inside. Usually, I arrive at each door, buzz the “door keeper” and identify myself. I then wait until he or she is ready for me to go through the door. Today, however, the corrections officer was especially attentive as I was leaving. He buzzed me out as I was arriving at each door. It was almost as if the doors were unlocked.

In one of our classes during the semester, we talk about action and acceptance. I tell the men; “If the doors of this jail opened and you knew it was okay to walk through you would leave immediately, no hesitation. The problem is this isn’t going to happen. You have to accept you are here until they let you leave. At the same time, you can take action on keeping your family together and connected with the ones you love.” This is the balance of action and acceptance.

I thought about the men in my class today, the lesson of action and acceptance and their decision to come to class, listen, ask questions, share their stories and finally receive their certificates. They are trying to bring balance to their lives and hopefully to those who are travel life’s path with them.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Balance

Balance

One of the toughest of Wisdom’s lessons is finding balance. We live in a world where we are encouraged to devour, to consume, to take and use up all we can. We are taught to chase after the treasures and trinkets of the world, to collect, hoard and protect what is ours as if our belongings were a part of us, a portion of our being.

I was speaking with someone today and they told me a story about their own lives and a choice they need to make. “What do I do?” they inquired. I explained to them the concepts of acceptance and action. Knowing what do and when to do it is key.

Acceptance is the understanding that some things cannot be changed no matter how hard we wish to impose our will upon it. There are ideas, situations, people, which we must accept in spite of our desire to change.

Action is what we can do. Once we’ve accepted the things we cannot change we then see what we can change and set about doing it.

It’s this balance that keeps us from wasting energy on the unchangeable and focuses our energies on what can make a difference.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Simple

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Simple

There are days when I become frustrated that the world isn’t simpler. Everything around me seems complicated. There are dozens of hoops to jump through, obstacles to overcome, and challenges to be met.

A person I know is still dealing with the fall out of a bad decision that has haunted him for almost two years. He’s dealing with it the best he can but if he could he would make it all go away. He feels like he has paid his penance yet his punishment seems ongoing with no end in sight.

Another person I know is struggling with complications of a mental illness. This is a battle I know well. They are making the best decisions for themselves they can but family and friends are interfering and unable to understand the choices being made.

I was reminded yesterday of the death of someone close to many people who live in the area. It’s been a few months but since the beloved has passed away but those who were closest to them are still swimming in the ocean of grief and adjustment to the new normal.

Life is complicated. We don’t make it that way, it just is that way. We can make it even more daunting with selfishness, ego, and biases but even those who have chosen to walk the path of wisdom, acceptance and peace still find the path of life difficult to walk.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Stuck

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Stuck

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

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

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Open

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Open

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

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

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

It seems to always come back to trust and acceptance.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannbesaint.com

knowing

knowing

What is self-awareness? My favorite quote from Aristotle; “The mark of a wise mind is the ability to think a thought without believing it to be true.” The idea is that just because a thought pops into our minds or we’ve been convinced of a thought most of our lives doesn’t necessarily make it true or real.

The problem is that few people arrive at this level of self-awareness. Few question their beliefs, convictions, and paradigms of how life should be, how it’s supposed to work. In fact, for most, it’s the opposite. There’s never a question about themselves and how they came to think the thoughts, do the deeds, be the person in the mirror.

The most important journey each of us takes is the journey within. Knowing ourselves, accepting our prejudices, biases, preferences, and understanding how they make us unique and how they set us apart from others.

A wisdom proverb states; “What annoys you about others reveals the character within you.” The path to self-awareness is first setting aside your preconceptions about everything and allowing the world to just “be“. Each experience, moment, lifetime is a once in an eternity expression of the universe and it’s Creator. Allowing it to make its impression upon you instead of charging into it wanting to put your stamp on it is the first steps into a larger world and a deeper self.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

 

Non-Stop

Non-Stop

One of my favorite wisdom images is that of a waterfall slowly wearing down the rock it is falling upon. It is one of the paradoxes of life; softness combined with persistence is more powerful than the hardest substance or obstacle.

There are many things in life which are hard to overcome. Diseases, health issues, broken relationships, betrayal, and death of loved ones, are never easy to face or deal with on a long-term basis. We’d rather bad things were quick. It’s why people become addicts of all sorts. To rid ourselves of the pain, almost anything else seems preferable.

Life is hard. No one said it would be easy and yet for most of us, our expectation is that it will be, until… Until something happens when we’re young or old that changes our understanding of life being fair, equal, honorable. Bad stuff happens and when it does something inside us breaks and we’re faced with the decision to harden our wills or our hearts.

If we harden our wills, let them be soft but strong, accepting life as it is not as we wish it to be we can overcome almost anything. If we harden our hearts, we keep people at a distance, refuse to be engaged in a dangerous and painful world, and wall ourselves off, stone cold, inside and out.

The choice is ours. It is the choice of living at peace or becoming the walking dead.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Anticipation

Anticipation

The rain is coming! Be ready!” That’s the message I heard from the weather forecasters this morning. As each hour ticked away the chances of rain increased.

I knew the grass needed mowing and cutting wet grass is bad for your mower and your lawn. I rushed outside a little after 8:30 AM and began. I finished it in a couple of hours and hurried inside to collect the trash to take to the dump before the rain began to fall. On my way I drove into a small shower and thought; “This is it!” but nothing else happened. I got back home put up the trash cans, let the dog out, looked at the gray ominous skies and knew it was about to downpour. Nothing.

A couple of hours later it finally rained, a nice shower, but nothing like I, and the weather channel, anticipated. I was thankful for the rain but couldn’t help but wonder; “Where’s the rain that was promised? Why did I hurry to the dump? Mow the grass so early?

Wisdom tells us suffering comes from the difference between our anticipation of life and what life ends up being. The gap is where the struggle takes place. Living in anticipation instead of acceptance is the difference between turmoil and peace.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

True Selves

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True Selves

I listened to a speaker today talk of our “impostor selves.” He said these are the people we present to the world. They aren’t our true selves but the image we think others want us to be or what we want to appear to be. There are many problems with these impostor selves but the biggest one is they can never bring us peace. The reason is the impostor self is always changing, shifting, moving, playing catch-up, making excuses or apologizing for not meeting the expectations they have set for us.

To be our true selves is to be vulnerable and refuse to try to be all things to all people. It’s the acceptance that we aren’t perfect. There are more talented, better equipped, more able-bodied people and we’re okay with this truth. We have hurts, habits, and hangups. We let people down, don’t always do our best and are far weaker than most will ever believe, much less admit.

Allowing others to see us, the real us isn’t easy in a world which seems ready to tear down anyone who flashes signs of shortcomings and imperfections. However, most often the biggest critic isn’t found in our family, friends, or co-workers. Usually, the one we can’t please and have the hardest time outing the impostor to is ourselves.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Accomplished

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Accomplished

It’s raining outside. A wonderful sight and a break from the summer weather we’ve been having this past week. I had checked the forecast this morning and it called for rain around noon and yet nothing happened. I assumed whatever rain was coming had passed us by. However, not long ago the first drop fell and the ground, plants, and trees are getting some much-needed nourishment.

The quote (pictured) is a reminder of our limited power to make most things happen. We fight, struggle, anticipate, worry, try to make a good thing happen or a bad thing stop with not much to show for it. Finally, we remember we are but mere creatures ourselves and we cease our striving, release our desire, and accept that what happens or won’t happen will take its course, arrive in its time, and all will be accomplished.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Jumpy

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Jumpy

It came out of nowhere this morning when I was mowing the grass! I have seen a lot of small frogs the last couple of weeks and try to be aware of them but this little guy jumped up on my lawn mower and before I could stop it, it hopped on the engine! I was afraid it was going to fry itself, but a nanosecond later he jumped off and into the grass.

Isn’t it interesting how worried we can get over little things? Surprises which suddenly appear and there’s no time to prepare but our anxieties, stress, negative thoughts spike and we ask perplexed; “What am I going to do? What should I do? What can I do?” Sometimes the troubles disappear as quickly as they come and other times life comes to a halt while we figure out the best way to handle it.

What’s interesting is that whatever jumps into our lives is often beyond our control. We couldn’t have stopped it even if we knew it was coming. The second truth is we can only do what we can and let the rest just happen. It’s not comforting to know we can’t always stop or change, difficulties, and challenges that appear in our lives but instead of resisting we can accept and continue to move forward, even if it’s in a different direction.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

Strangled

Strangled

I don’t like wearing ties. They aren’t my preferred mode of dress. When I am forced to wear ties I feel as though I am being strangled and somewhere in my mind, there’s a countdown clock ticking to when I can loosen and take it off.

I exclusively wear ties for important events. Weddings (maybe) unless I am the minister officiating the wedding (then definitely), presentations for the company I work for (if the people I am presenting to are expected to be wearing them) and funerals (always). I own enough ties to do each of these a few times a year along with one suit.

Life is meant to be experienced, enjoyed, savored. Even when wearing a tie, or going or doing something we’d rather not be going or doing, it is a moment never to be repeated. Every instant is an opportunity to allow it to exist, to be what it is going to be, without our controlling or manipulating. Nothing lasts forever. Not even wearing ties.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

to Learn

to Learn

I once listened to a man who was in charge of a big organization. He spoke about how he arrived at his position, ran the day-to-day business, and wanted to teach others how to follow in his footsteps. As I listened I also glanced around the room at the staff he had assembled and realized something was missing. As jazzed as he was being their leader their eyes, mannerisms, betrayed the fact that they didn’t feel the same way.

As I got to know the managers and leaders who worked under the main guy I realized there was a lot of dissatisfaction and exasperation. The main leader could be a bully, didn’t listen, had all the answers to all the wrong questions. He was a leader but he wasn’t their leader. Most of them felt distant and disconnected.

Since then I’ve met similar leaders and similar staffs. I’ve also met good leaders who sit with their staff members and let them talk. I’ve met leaders who are open to criticism. I’ve seen leaders apologize for not being good enough and watched them work to become better.

The quote (pictured) is a valuable lesson. To learn, not just from those who do things well, but also from those who need improving, takes a willingness to be open, willing and ready to learn in all situations and seasons.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Toxic

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Toxic

There’s a funny, not so funny, saying that goes; “The world would be great if it wasn’t for all the people!

I spoke with someone today who’s going through a difficult time. His relationship with someone important is slipping away and he can’t do anything to stop it. I know this because he told me all the ways he’s tried to stop it and nothing has worked. As we talked I reminded him of the troubling, but truthful news, that if someone decides not to be a part of your life anymore there’s not much to do but accept it.

Sometimes people stay in toxic relationships because what you know is better than what you don’t. However, sometimes one-half of the poisoned couple chooses to end it. Most of the time, even when it’s for our own good, it’s difficult to let go of someone we’ve shared a significant portion of our life.

Wisdom teaches us to keep an open hand on all things and with some things to turn your hand over and empty it. Relationships, be it marriages, partners, friends or co-workers should be built upon trust, love, kindness and mutual growth. When they go bad and there’s no hope of restoration it’s best to let go and move on.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Pick Up

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Pick Up

This afternoon it was hot. So hot that I was struggling to walk up a hill on my exercise route. As I labored to make it up a man in an old pick-up truck pulled up beside me and asked; “Need a lift?” I smiled, thanked him and replied; “No thank you. Just trying to get in shape.” He nodded and drove off. It was nice of the man to stop and ask but it also brought up images of stories I’ve read on the news about people hitchhiking, accepting a ride and never being heard from again.

We live in a place and time when even genuine offers of help are looked on with suspicion. I don’t like that this world has made me more dubious, overly cautious, hesitant to see an act of kindness as anything less than gracious.

I don’t know how we turn it around. I’m not sure what to do to make the world more hospitable and less hostile. I think it starts with laying aside our fears and living free. I believe we need more acceptance and less aggression.

Or…maybe we can’t and a better world is a dream. I guess it’s up to all of us to determine if dreams do come true.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Balancing Act

Balance

Life is a balancing act. It is a lesson I have been keenly aware of this week. To walk the line between the joy of being alive and the acceptance that one day everything, everyone dies takes careful, reflectful steps. If you veer too far one way or the other you fall into illusion and suffering.

We all want to live but not just live, to thrive. This is our desire for those we love as well. If we could we would protect ourselves and everyone we care about from disease, difficulties, and death. However, when we forget our place, our lack of power and lack of ability to make life safe and well, we become anxious, envious and desperate.

It takes a while to learn to walk through the narrow gate of humility and acceptance. The narrow path becomes more narrow but the paradox is the smaller the way becomes the more we open ourselves to grace and healing.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Perfectly Acceptable

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Perfectly Acceptable –

It is time!” my wife told me last night. “Cutting the lawn can wait no longer!” I was hoping to wait until mid-April because mowing the grass too early can leave it vulnerable to disease. However, last week the church beside us cut theirs and now our yard looks even more unkempt. So, if it doesn’t rain today and the grass can dry out from a shower last night, I will mow today.

I blame the mild winter and the enormous amounts of rain we’ve had the last two months on the lawn being so out of control. Everything is blooming, budding sprouting and looks beautiful. The grass is the exception. It’s not all one height. Part of the grass is several inches tall while other parts are just turning green and still short.

Waiting for the sun and slight wind of this beautiful spring day to chase away the moisture I’m also reflecting on how the lawn and life are similar. There are parts of our lives where everything seems to be growing and flourishing while other parts seem to have trouble keeping up. There are relationships that are blossoming and healthy while we struggle with others. Our job may be going well but our home life needs improving. We are well-balanced emotionally but our physical side could use some conditioning. Mentally we are strong but spiritually we are lacking.

Wisdom teaches us that life is rarely, if ever, simultaneously great or terrible. What we look to do is find balance and acceptance. To do this we must ask; “Are we giving too much time to one area while neglecting another?” or “Is it just seasonal?” Perhaps a little more attention and lot more patience and we will see the blessing of a life that’s not perfect but is loved, accepted and a work in progress.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Futility

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Futility

The first Thursday of each month is a busy one. It is on this day that I go to an out-of-town rehabilitation center and lecture close to 100 men, in multiple classes, about the dangers of drugs, alcohol and the impact it has upon them and their families. My schedule necessitates that I have to leave early so this morning I decided to take my coffee with me. I prepared it with cream and sweetener, placed it in a cup with a top and sat it by the front door so I would remember to grab it when I picked up my bag.

I’ve done this countless times before and never had a problem. However, today, after I got ready, picked up my bag, I opened the door and spilled the coffee everywhere. I ran and grabbed a few paper towels, cleaned up the mess and had about a 1/3 of a cup left over. I had the cup in one hand, the bag over my shoulder, the keys in my other hand. Locking the door I turned around and somehow, someway, caught my foot on a rug on the porch, twisted my ankle, and came crashing down on my left knee scraping it in several places. To top it off the rest of the coffee was now on the porch and stoop. In that moment, I sat the cup upright, left it on the porch and drove off.

There are times in life where something we want, desire, crave just wasn’t meant to be ours. We may fight for it, jump through hoops, feel we’ve earned it but in the end, it wasn’t meant to be. How we react when we realize our quest is futile is key to acceptance and contentment. Do we let go and move on or do we continue to grab at what refuses to be grasped?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Enjoyment and Loss

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Enjoyment and Loss

A clump of faded feathers is all that’s left of a once majestic and beautiful sight.

Several months ago Beth came home from work and told me about two Peacocks she had seen a few miles up the road from us. She described them as “gorgeous” and “amazing“. I had never seen the birds so we hopped in the truck and went to the spot where they had been but there was no sign of them. Several times over the preceding months she spotted them but I was never able to catch even a glimpse.

Then a couple of weeks ago I spied something in the middle of the road. As I got closer my heart sank because I could tell by the color and size of the feathers that one of the peacocks had been hit by a vehicle. The ugliness of the sight was in stark contrast to the beautiful feathers scattered everywhere. When I arrived at the house I asked Beth if she had seen the downed bird. She hadn’t and I had to break the news to her.

We live in a world where nothing lasts. Even those things which seem permanent are slowly being worn away by time. The highest mountain will one day be laid low, the largest boulder ground into dust. Transience, change, gain, and loss; all part of the experience we call life.

Wisdom teaches us to take nothing for granted because all is vapor and smoke. This truth is not to discourage us from investing ourselves in the enjoyment of life in the present moment but to stop us from clinging to what cannot and will not last. To embrace the blessing of each moment while also letting it go is difficult and the key to acceptance and freedom.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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