Blog Archives

Be Still and Wait

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Be Still and Wait

This morning our Siberian Husky Trooper was ready to go outside. Getting to the door to open it he was dancing in circles! I opened the door to the house and the screened in porch and he darted out. Almost immediately I noticed a big rabbit in the field adjacent to our home. My eyes grew big wondering if Trooper was going to see it. The rabbit was still. I thought to myself; “Can you stay that still with danger lurking that close to you?” I watched intently as Trooper began sniffing the area and the bunny watched and didn’t move. After what seemed like a lifetime for me and the rabbit Trooper lumbered back to the porch and the rabbit was safe.

Many times in life we face trials and temptations, difficulties and decisions, choices and complications. Our instinct might be to take immediate action, react in the ways which seem best, hurry up and solve the problem. However, wisdom teaches us that when the way is clouded and we can’t see or crowded with chaos and hard to move the best we can do mentally, emotionally and spiritually is to be still and wait. To breathe, close our eyes and find our center. With a hectic mindset, we can focus on the immediate and “fix it” at the expense of the future. We can also become reckless running around trying everything at once and creating more hardships for ourselves and those we love.

A great master was asked one time by his student to help him solve a problem for which he could not find the solution. “I’ve gone over it a million times, looked at every angle, and can’t seem to see the way. The master told him; “When you step into a stream your feet muddy the waters. Only when you are still will the waters clear.”

Stillness, the quietude of the mind, is underrated. Pause, rest, be still, and the way will reveal itself.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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What You Hear, What You See

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What You Hear, What You See

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

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

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

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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

Junk Path

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Junk Path

This morning I had an early meeting. I loaded up my truck and began pulling out of my driveway. As I neared the end of it I noticed a truck carrying a refuse container coming in my direction. I didn’t have time to jump in front of it and as it passed I sighed. I didn’t want to be stuck behind this behemoth. I thought about the way I needed to take and realized the Refuse and Recycle Center was the way I was going. In other words, I was going to be behind the truck, carrying the container, almost the whole trip into town. Sure enough, every turn, stop, flashing light I encountered the truck was directly in front of me. I followed it to the junkyard.

As I drove powerlessly behind the truck I thought of myself and others who have, at times, been on a junk path. Poor choices, bad decisions, oversized egos, revenge, remorse, not listening, not paying attention, ended in a bad place and a life that wasn’t balanced or centered. There were good people who tried to warn us, wave us off, show us another, better way but we stubbornly stayed on the path to demise.

Wisdom, it doesn’t do us any good if we fail to follow its lead and travel its path.

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

Stolen

Stolen

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

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Nothing is Lacking

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Nothing is Lacking

I was a part of a conversation this week where a group of people was giving a person advice. The advice was based on what the person had shared; a story of love and betrayal. On the wrong side of a bad choice is a terrible place to be and the person was fixated on how to either get over on the person who hurt him or get over it period. Two choices were staring him the face and he was going to choose either one or the other.

Decisions based on pain are almost always bad ones. We make these in times of stress, confusion, doubt, and loneliness. We feel as though we have lost something, had it taken away from us, and we want it back or rather life back the way it was or the way it should be.

Wisdom teaches us that suffering is the gap between how life is, reality, and how we think life ought to be. The greater the gap the more suffering. It is why learning to let go and acceptance are two of the greatest life lessons we can learn and practice. Life is rarely if ever, the way we want. Even if for a while it seems to be sooner or later it changes and we have no control over this truth. To live with open hand, to not try to grasp, force life to stay the same and allow for the inevitable change is to know and live in peace.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

 

Where You Heading?

Where You Heading?

I’ve spent much of this week thinking about my past and considering my future. It’s always scary, wondering what’s around the corner.

I started two new jail classes this week. One of the first disciplines I teach is for them to consider their present and think about their future. The first part is necessary because it helps us take stock of what we’ve done, who we are, and how choices have led us to this place in our lives. After you’ve accepted where and who you are, then you decide if it is where you want to stay. “If you keep doing what you’re doing you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.”

Most of the men I work with tell me they want to make better choices, be better men and fathers but it’s not enough to want, action must be taken. Different choices must be made to be a different man and father. I explain that; “What you do today determines who you’ll be, what you’ll be, tomorrow.

This is true for all of us.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

I Love Her

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I Love Her

Earlier this week at one of my incarcerated father’s classes one I was listening to resident tell another about a woman who works with the residents at the jail. He said; “I love her!” A few minutes later he was talking about corrections officer and repeated; “I love her!” I couldn’t help myself as I asked him; “You love her?” “Yep,’ he shot right back. ‘Women, all of them. Short ones, tall ones, skinny ones and fat ones. I love ’em all. Except for the ones without teeth. They need to have all their teeth. That’s a real turn-off.” “It’s good to have standards.” I quipped. “Do you think perhaps your lack of judgment when it comes to women is part of the reason you’re in jail?” He thought for a moment and replied; “Yes.

There is a difference between love and lust, want and need. Those who follow their passions only end up making choices that negatively impact their lives. Those who know they shouldn’t have everything they want, their every heart’s desire, satisfaction to every immediate impulse, make better decisions that positively affect their present and future.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

No Other Choice

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No Other Choice

I was greeted today by one of the fathers in my Incarcerated Father’s Class by a resident with a nasty looking black eye. We emphasize choice in this class. Our motto is; “Good choices make good men, and good men make good fathers.” I asked the owner of the shiner what happened and he said he was in a fight. I then asked; “Did you make a good choice?” His answer was yes. He explained sometimes you have no other choice.

I couldn’t argue with him. It would be nice if the world was black and white, clear negative and positives, defined good choices and bad. However, the world offers us a lot of grays. There are times when the choice of going one way or another doesn’t exist. You go forward, with your best intentions and wisdom and hope it works out.

These can be our best or worst moments. They certainly define us or scar us for life. When life doesn’t offer any options, no other choices, we hold our breath and cautiously step into an uncertain future.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Transition

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Transition

Earlier this week I watched a powerful documentary on people being released from prison. It was a story of two men who were sentenced under California’s outdated and recently reformed Three Strikes Law. Simply stated the law demanded that any criminal who was arrested and found guilty three times received a harsh prison sentence often 25 years to life. After almost 20 years of being in place, the penal system and the citizens of California realized it wasn’t effective, led to overpopulation in the jails, severely impacted people of color, and left a trail of broken families in its wake.

The documentary follows two of the thousands of men who have been released for petty, non-violent crimes, after serving decades in jail. The transition for both of them was difficult, however, one was able to get back on his feet stay clean and sober, get married and be promoted in his job. The other man, who had a strong family and church structure, struggled mightily. Old demons such as drugs and mental health issues kept him unbalanced and unable to find his groove the way the first man did. At the end of the documentary both men were still out and making their way the best they could.

As I watched the film I couldn’t help but feel for both of these men. I work with men who are incarcerated and addicted. Addiction is a powerful force for evil and destruction. Incarceration can also be a doorway to a life of crime and recidivism but I’ve also seen men who learn how to make different choices so as not to end up in the same predicament.

Men who do three things greatly reduce their chance of going back to jail or getting back into their addiction. The first is having a positive home environment that might not necessarily be with their biological family. The second is a full-time job, a chance to do something and receive. The third might be most important and that is living a life around positive people, folks who will pull you up not drag you down. These three things, which most of us take for granted, will help men stay balanced, sure-footed, and on the path to a new life.

Psalm 121
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over you will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm, he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

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

Protection

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Protection

Today I weeded the grass around our trees and bushes. Tomorrow I will mow. As usual, I grabbed my phone and earbuds going out the door. I also took my clip-on which cradles the phone, protects it and comes in handy when doing chores or other jobs which require two hands. I don’t use the cradle much because it’s too bulky and in most work settings would get in the way when I sit down or am driving.

Though not used often one thing I know about the clip-on is the phone’s screen is facing inward not outward. This way the screen is protected anything you might brush up or hit it against. If you faced it outward, which I’ve seen many people do, it puts your phone’s screen at risk of being scratched or cracked.

When I see people with their phone in the clip-on screen facing out I am always tempted to say something but never do. I don’t want to seem nosey and think; “They have to know it’s not in correctly! Perhaps they have it in backwards for a reason?” I also don’t want to embarrass or make someone upset. So, I try to ignore it thought my instinct is to walk over and put it in the way it belongs!

There are things in our life which offer us protection; jobs, insurance and medicine. Family and friends who care for us and help meet our needs. What we will allow or won’t allow in our minds, hearts, and lives. We make the choice to be protected or unprotected.

There is never a 100% guarantee that even if we avail ourselves of every protection offered we will not be harmed, heartbroken or wounded deeply. Wisdom, however, teaches us how to be protected and what’s worth protecting.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Code

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Code

This afternoon I stopped by a store to pick up some sodas for our incarcerated father’s class. I grabbed and carried them to the cashier station. I waited on the woman in front of me and when she was finished stepped up and watched the cashier scan the drinks and stick them in plastic bags. When it was time, I scanned my card and then entered my pin number. However, as soon as I punched the digits in I knew it was the wrong pin. I told the cashier and she reset the scanner. For a moment I couldn’t separate all the pins and passwords in my life and choose the correct one but finally settled on the right one. It worked and I walked out with my purchase.

As I drove to the jail I thought about the men in my class who were receiving their certificates of completion tonight. I thought about the different men in the program and how each of them has certain “codes” which work for them. For one humor might be the key, another is not being singled out in class but letting him join the conversation when he’s ready. Our goal at the jail is to give the men a collection of tools and skills which will keep them clean, responsible, have abilities that many people on the outside take for granted. However, getting them to participate and accept the knowledge is tricky. Not any one approach works with all. We must take the time, learning about the men, connecting with them, understanding the way they think so we can “break the code” that will help them make life changing choices.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Destiny

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Destiny

A few nights ago I began watching a documentary; “American Anarchist” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6032170/). It is “the story of one of the most infamous books ever written, “The Anarchist Cookbook,” and the role it’s played in the life of its author, William Powell, now 65, who wrote it at 19 in the midst of the counterculture upheaval of the late ’60s and early ’70s.

An interesting, frustrating, and paradoxical character, William describes a time in the 60’s and 70’s when he is swept up in the protest movement of these two decades and writes a book that is both a declaration against an unjust society and a “how to” manual on building, bombs, guns, and other weaponry. Powell’s book has been used all over the world to commit acts of terror and revolution. However, after the turbulent time in which the book was written, Powell moved on to become a teacher of students with special needs.

In the documentary, he is surprised and saddened when confronted by his book’s place among many terrorists and criminal’s library. He’s even contacted some major book sellers and tried to stop his book from being sold. In most of the interview, he seems at a loss that this book, which took him only a few months to write still holds sway over him after almost 50 years. He wonders if he’ll ever be free.

Some poor choices we make are able to be overcome and put behind us. Other decisions, and their consequences, are ours to carry for life. Who we are, what we do; our thoughts, words, and actions have lives of their own once we choose to enact them. As always, we must choose carefully.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Routine

Routine

I watched a video this week about an important military leader giving graduates a piece of advice. He said; “If you want to change your life, improve your life, make your bed every morning.” He went on to elaborate and talked about how a simple disciplined act at the beginning of your day can positively shape your day, your week, your life. I’m not sure I bought all of what he was selling but I do think good choices today lead to good results tomorrow.

Tonight I spoke to a group of guys who have each made the decision over the last two months to come to class and learn how to be better men and better dads. I tell them each week it starts with; “Good choices which lead to being good men and then good dads. It all starts with the choices you make today and they determine the type of man you will be tomorrow.

Moments, hours, days, years from now, when we lay in a box and people stand over us staring, what will they say? A lot of what is said will be determined by the decisions we make presently, the routine of our everyday life.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Change

Change

I was speaking with a group of men last night and we talked about the ability to be someone different from the person we are currently. I told them; “What you do today determines who you will be tomorrow.” If you want to be the man and the dad you need to be you must first know what you need to change and then begin making the choices that will lead you to your goal.

I went on to explain that everything we do presently, what we watch, listen to, speak about, participate in, everything! makes us into the person we will be in the future. Our present choices shape our destiny. “It’s when we see that now, this moment, is all we have and need to transform, that we finally have the wisdom to become what we need to be.”

As I talked to the men the truth of what was being said also resonated with me and my spirit. The truth, when revealed, is powerful enough to impact both audience and speaker.

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

Found

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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

 

Paradox

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Paradox

“par·a·dox” –perəˌdäks – a situation, person, or thing that combines contradictory features or qualities.

I listened to a speaker today talk about his father who was a Jewish prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. He talked about how his father and a German guard became friends over their interest in fishing.

One day the guard told him he was having troubles with his bowels and to go to the bathroom immediately. The speaker’s father was confused but listened, went to the bathroom and came out several minutes later to find all the other Jewish prisoners had been taken to one of the notorious gas chambers the Germans used to kill millions of Jewish people. His friend, the guard, upon seeing him said; “You are the only Jew left. You should leave. The speaker’s father walked out of the camp and went back to his home. “This is a paradox,” said the speaker. The German guard knew the other Jewish people, human beings, placed on the train were going to die but still chose to save his friend.

Human beings are walking, talking, breathing, skin encased paradoxes. We are tough to figure out. We do what we don’t want to do sometimes and don’t do what we should. We take stands for things which don’t really matter and shrink from the spotlight on the most important. Brennan Manning, one of my favorite authors, wrote; “I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer.” He was a priest, an oblate, and a recovering alcoholic.

We are all paradoxes and have that in common with one another. There are a plethora of beliefs, convictions, and certainties we hold that unite us and divide us. However, we are also, every one of us, human beings and this truth should overcome everything else.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Stuck

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Stuck

Yesterday afternoon I loaded the pick-up truck with the household garbage we keep in a covered area outside. I placed two bins in the back and another bag shut the tailgate and headed to the Refuse and Recycling Center. When I arrived I hopped out the cab, walked to the back, let the tailgate down and something furry jumped out at me! That’s not what happened but it’s what looked like was happening when the deceased mouse (pictured) plopped down on the tailgate when it lowered. “Whoa!” I screamed, initiating a strange look from another person who was throwing away garbage also.

As I looked closer I saw that it was a dead rat. I emptied the bin and discovered he was trapped by a hole in the bottom of the trashcan. He had wiggled his entire body out with the exception of his hips and hind feet. He died trying to escape the trash he willingly entered into. I used a piece of wood to pry him out of the hole and a thick piece of plastic to grab him and toss him in the dumpster.

As I drove away I thought about the choices each of us makes; good and bad, right and wrong, positive or negative. I tell the men I work with; “The choices you make today determine the man you will be tomorrow.” I also speak with them about how there are some choices which drastically impact them and those they love and care about. “Once you make certain decisions you forfeit the ability to be a good man to those who need you be that the most.”

Each of our actions has consequences. We must be careful not get stuck by the choices we make.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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