Blog Archives

Taking Up Space

Taking Up Space

I have a friend who has a boss who is a pain! At least that’s how they describe him. He’s often in the staff’s way, interrupting staff’s conversations with co-workers and clients, calling last-minute meetings, forcing staff to take late, early, shortened lunches and breaks. My friend is a good employee and enjoys their job and interaction with the customers but this boss makes the job unbearable at times. I told my friend that this guy doesn’t seem easy to work for but also noticed he was creeping into other conversations and being complained about excessively. “Be careful,’ I said, ‘not to let this guy take up space in your head.”

It’s easy to let other people, things, difficulties, hardships rent a place in our noggin. These are issues we must deal with, live with and are forced to confront. However, if we aren’t careful, aware, they can begin to invade the other parts of our lives. We ruminate, stew, in our negative thoughts and this takes energy and a toll on us physically, emotionally and spiritually. Learning how to deal with problems, finding solutions that help us keep them from encroaching in unwanted areas, takes wisdom, practice and awareness.

“Keep the doors to your mind open. Let problems come and go. Do not serve them tea.”
-author unknown

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

 

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Where You Step

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Where You Step

Earlier this week I got up off the couch to walk from the living room to the bathroom. As I did my phone chimed with an email alert. I picked it up and continued walking while reading and scrolling through the message. Unfortunately, I did not see the dog who for some reason had decided he was going to sleep on one of the bathroom mats. I didn’t hurt him but did trip myself. Fortunately, I did catch myself. I had an immediate sense of shame as I help others to be focused, aware, mindful of where they step on the path of life and here I am stumbling over the pooch in my house. Sigh.

J.R.R. Tolkien wrote “Be careful when you step outside your door Frodo. You never know where your feet will lead you.” This goes for inside your house as well.

Where we look is where we end up. Our lives are often the sum of our choices and where we choose to fix our gaze. My gaze that day wasn’t on where I was headed but on a small screen with a message that could’ve waited a few minutes. Too many times we allow the illusion of urgency leads us to lack awareness and a place of unbalance.

Let’s watch our steps or there’s no telling where we’ll end up going.

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

Remains

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Remains

On Saturday, while burning some debris in the yard, I went to grab a stick which was near the fire but not burning. My intention was to put it in a more advantageous position. However, as I grabbed the still cool end of the stick a single burning piece of ash fell right where I placed my thumb. I quickly dropped the stick and began shaking my whole hand the way someone does when they burn themselves. For the past several days I have had a reminder of the encounter, a blister on my right thumb.

The blister is a reminder of the randomness of life. A second earlier or later and I probably wouldn’t have burned myself. In the same way, we often see the haphazard events of our lives. A moment before or after and there’s no car accident or more or fewer injuries in it. A doctor’s appointment a month or two earlier or later and a disease is detected or too far advanced to undergo treatments. A moment premature or delayed and we miss a relationship we cherish or disdain.

Whatever life brings our way there are remains that stay with us. Whether positive or negative who can tell? The most we can do is be aware, open to new experiences and cautiously protecting our souls.

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

Scattered

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Scattered

Last night I stuck a bag of trash on the porch. Living in the country and not placing garbage in a receptacle is like playing Russian Roulette. Sometimes a varmint gets into it and other times they just pass it by. Unfortunately, last night something got into the trash and scattered it all over the driveway. It was the first thing I saw when letting the dog out this morning. I went inside, grabbed a new bag and began recollecting the trash. There’s nothing quite like picking up frost-covered garbage at dawn.

As I was gathering it and stuffing it into the bag I began to recall a Jewish wisdom tale;

A woman repeated a story (gossip) about a neighbor. Within a few days, everyone in the community knew the story. The person she talked about heard what had been said about her and she was very sad. Later, the woman who had spread the story learned that it was not true. She was very sorry and went to a wise rabbi and asked what she could do to repair the damage. After giving this some thought, the rabbi said to her, “Go home, get one of your feather pillows, and bring it back to me.” Surprised by the rabbi’s response, the woman followed his advice and went home to get a feather pillow and brought it to the rabbi. “Now,” said the rabbi, “open the pillow and pull out all the feathers.” Confused, the woman did what she was told to do. After a few minutes, the rabbi said, “Now, I want you to find every one of the feathers and put them back into the pillow.” “That’s impossible,” said the woman, almost in tears. “The window is open and the wind has scattered them all over the room and blown many feathers outside. I can’t possibly find them all.” “Yes,” said the rabbi. “And that is what happens when you gossip or tell a story about someone else. Once you talk about someone, the words fly from one person’s mouth to another, just like these feathers flew in the wind. Once you say them, you can never take them back.”

It was a great reminder that not only every word but every action has consequences that we cannot foresee. Our lives should be lived mindfully aware that our scattered thoughts, words, and actions will impact the world for evil or for good.

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

Empathy

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Empathy

I heard a story today about a chaplain who worked in a veteran’s hospital in the 1950’s. There was an African-American soldier in the hospital who had lost a leg in the Korean War. The physical therapists had worked with him trying to get him used to wear a prosthetic leg. Both the soldier and medical personnel tried everything they could think of but nothing worked and the soldier was ready to give up and live life with one leg and crutches for the rest of his life.

The chaplain was made aware of the situation and stopped by soldier’s bed one night to see if he could be of any help. “I can still feel my leg, my real leg!” the soldier cried. “It’s a phantom pain.” replied the chaplain, “It will go away in time.” “That leg!” retorted the soldier gesturing toward the prosthetic one, “will never be ‘my’ leg.” After visiting with the young man the chaplain prayed with him and asked if he could take the prosthetic one with him. The soldier responded with a shrug.

The next day the chaplain returned with the same leg except it was painted a shade of brown to more closely match the soldier’s own skin tone. “What did you do?” asked the perplexed soldier. The chaplain, hoping he hadn’t offended the young man said he took it home with him and thought painting it might make it seem more palatable. “That’s all you did?” asked the soldier admiring the leg. “That’s it.” smiled the chaplain. The chaplain helped the young man to the side of the bed, attached the leg, helped him take his first few steps and from that day forward the soldier made remarkable progress.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. The chaplain helped the soldier not by insisting he use resources given to him by the hospital but by listening and understanding what the soldier was going through and then adapting his help to the soldier’s personal, unique need.

Too often we see people who need assistance and we automatically assume there are places and resources that are available. We surmise that if someone wants help enough they’ll figure out how to get it. The truth is everyone’s story is unique and unless we listen, understand and are willing to personally get involved many will go on suffering and being blamed for doing so.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Pardon the Interruption

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Pardon the Interruption

When my wife and I first moved up north we were aware there would be cultural differences that both the people we work with and we would need to get used to. For instance, down south we say we’re going to put something “in the hopper,” which means we’ll think about it. Up north, however, it has something to do with a commode. So, that was a phrase I stopped using. Another difference was people interrupting each other. It didn’t take long to notice, especially at meetings, that people would start talking before another person was finished. When this happened the person interrupted either returned the favor or waited for the interruptee to stop before they started up again. In the south, we might fake it but we at least acted like we were listening and waited for the person to finish before we began to talk.

I remember bringing this up at a meeting where people were talking all over each other. I stated the difference and perhaps if we waited, and listened until the other was finished, perhaps our meetings would be more productive and not last as long. It didn’t go over well. No one told me to get over it but the behavior never stopped and I never brought up the subject again.

This was about 10 years ago and I’ve noticed rudeness isn’t going anywhere. In fact, rudeness seems to be expanding at an incredible rate. From radio to tv, social media, family, friends, co-workers, people at grocery stores, arguing and not listening, folks stubbornly stating their point of view, driving haphazardly, everyone in a hurry and not caring who they offend to get their lists of to-do’s done. Even our president cusses, calls people names, makes fun and insults others. Rudeness is winning.

So, how do we stop rudeness from continuing to be the norm? My only answer is kindness, patience, being at peace and giving peace. It’s not about arguing a point but being what you hope others will become.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Hate

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Hate

I have a friend who is dealing with a broken relationship in his life.  He has tried reaching out, apologizing, offering to make good on the accused slight he did to the offending party but nothing has worked. The wounded one doesn’t want anything to do with the other, has expressed his hatred for my friend numerous times, and it is bothering my friend something fierce.

He asked the question; “What else can I do?” after he listed all the things he’s tried to do to make up for something he’s not even sure he did. “You’re going to have to let them hate you.” I know this isn’t the answer he wanted but it was the only answer to give. When someone has been hurt by us whether we meant to or not it is not within our power to make them forgive us, to restore a broken relationship. As soon as we become aware of the pain, betrayal, we’ve caused we should immediately go to them, express a contrite and sincere spirit of sorrow apologizing for the behavior and offer to make penance to satisfy the other who has been wronged. If they accept, that’s great but if they don’t accept we have to live with that and though it’s not easy it is our only option.

What we hope for, pray for, look for every opportunity to make it right again in the future. However, for now, we must bear the burden of hate, knowing we have done all things within our power to right the wrong. We live with their hate and the separation hoping a time will come when both can reconnect and restore what’s been torn apart and destroyed.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Lift

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Lift

This afternoon I ran into Wal-Mart to grab a couple of items. As I navigated the parking lot my cell phone rang and I began a conversation. Approaching the door a woman was coming out the exit with a grocery cart full of stuff and a pack of paper towels on the bottom of the cart. I noticed right away that the paper towels looked as they were going to fall off and to the pavement. I smiled and said; “Excuse me,” reached down and lifted them back on the cart securely. It happened so fast I’m not sure she was aware at first what I was doing. She replied; “Thank you,” and we headed our separate ways.

It was a small gesture but wisdom writers tell me; “No act of kindness is wasted.” I believe this is true and that if each of us would be alert, aware and willing, we might extend kindness in such a way it would lift our world out of darkness.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Unseen

Unseen

Last night I buzzed the tower at the County Jail to let them know I was there for our Dad’s class. They unlocked the several doors I have to go through to get to the classroom. I stopped about half way, opened my travel box and retrieved the list of names for the evening’s class.

I walked up the stairs to the tower where several men were sitting on one side of the octagonal room. As I handed the list to the corrections office in charge I turned to the men and asked; “how are you guys doing?” “Good,’ came the reply; ‘but there aren’t just men here.'” I looked around and on the other side of the room, sitting by herself was a woman corrections officer. I apologized for not noticing her and she accepted. If it wasn’t for the male officer I never would’ve noticed the woman.

I was talking with a friend this week who said he believed God had shown him his presence in a special way. I responded that I think God regularly shows himself to us; “We’re just too occupied, unaware to notice.” The conversation came back to me last night when I was unaware of the woman officer.

The Bible speaks of “serving angels unaware.” I wonder how many times we miss God’s presence, a stranger’s need, a chance to show grace, kindness, and love to a world which to see and experience it.

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

In the Air

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In the Air

A couple of weeks ago the Mrs. and I were sitting by the firepit talking about our day with our Siberian Husky, Trooper, laying beside us. One of us were in mid-sentence when he popped up and began sniffing the air. He smelled…something. We weren’t sure what. We hadn’t heard, seen or smelled anything but he has the stronger; “sniffer” so his alertness got our attention. I grabbed the flashlight and began shining it all over the area and sure enough, there was a possum ambling through the yard. Possums aren’t dangerous but I wouldn’t want one to waddle through my legs and Beth might still be running today if it had scurried past her. Thanks to our dog’s senses we had ample warning of the encroaching critter.

Wisdom can give us an extra sense of perception, a radar of sorts, which alerts us when something isn’t right, a correction needs to be made, or heightened alert is in order. It’s in these times we want to shine a light in the dark places, be vigilant, ready to make a course adjustment, be still or move forward cautiously. Finding our way can be difficult. We must be sure that every sense is used and heeded.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Good Eye

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Good Eye

Last week I had an important meeting. During it, a woman walked into the room to give the person I was meeting with a message. As she delivered it the other noticed the woman was shaking. She asked; “Are you okay? You’re really shaking!” The person said she had a lot going on and was trying to fit all of it into a small amount of time. She then left the room and my meeting continued. Afterwards, I saw the woman who had been shaking and told her I hoped she had a good day.

As I went to my next appointment I thought about both the woman and the fact that I didn’t notice her shaking at all. I totally missed it. I try to be aware of people and their emotional, mental and spiritual states. I even try to notice new glasses, haircuts, and changes people make but not this time. I realized it swept by me because all of my focus was on the “important” meeting. The person I met with was at the same meeting but didn’t allow it to consume all of her attention and she was able to show concern to someone in need.

It was a good reminder that true awareness is finding the balance between paying attention to ourselves and others.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Deeper than Now

I’ve been thinking about my friend who I wrote an article on last week. The cute little varmint who’s been tearing up my lawn with his sharp claws and pointy snout. I haven’t seen him in a few days but if my dog’s constant sniffing is any indication he’s been in the area excavating for more grubs.

As I reflect upon the armadillo and his keen awareness of what he’s searching for I wonder if we can be so invested in what we want that we miss other things? Can we be so completely focused on what we’re doing, fully invested in the need of the moment, that we are left vulnerable?

The day I spied the prehistoric bug and worm eater I made several noises to try to get him to stop digging but he never heard me. I honked my truck horn and slammed the door several times before he became antsy and eventually sauntered away. Could I have snuck up on him? Could I have hurt or captured him if so desired? Was he so engrossed in the task he was oblivious to all else?

What is the difference in being mindful, fully in the present and being so focused on what we’re doing that we become unmindful?

Perhaps the difference is all the difference. When our attention is our appetite, needs and wants, what we believe is required to be happy, content, satisfied, we are only capable of scratching the surface.

It is when we dig deeper, past the exterior and into the seldom explored interior that we feed body, mind and spirit. When these three are nurtured all we do, each moment, will be infused with greater significance and we become mindfully aware of all that surrounds us.

blessings,
@brianloging
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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