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Teaching Peace

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Teaching Peace

Earlier this week I was talking with a man who has a confessed anger problem. He’s also been hurt by some people he trusted. The pain and rage of this betrayal occupy his thoughts and revenge is his stated goal. As we spoke with each other I explained to him that violence is not going to fix things. It will only make it worse for the man and his family. “Good mental health, the ability to process our emotions in a healthy, positive way will have a lasting impact on your family. Not choosing wisely will hurt you and those you love. I know the feelings are there and they’re eating you up inside but taking a path which doesn’t lead to peace punishes everyone.

Peace is a hard concept and discipline to put into practice. We live in a world which claims the right to revenge and paying people back for the harm they’ve caused us. However, if we stubbornly stay on the path to; “right the wrongs” done to us we will not find contentment but an endless cycle of violence and retribution.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Don’t Resist

Don’t Resist

This afternoon I stepped outside and the warmer temperatures wrapped me like a blanket. The sun shone on me and the warm breeze stirred my soul. It’s been cold the past few weeks. Only a couple of days ago the ground was covered with snow and ice. Today, there is little snow to be seen and the remnants are being chased away by the balmy weather. The kicker is I didn’t have anything to do with the high and low temps, the sun or the clouds filling the sky, the wild difference between now and the near past. All I did was stay warm on the cold days and breathe in the warmth this afternoon.

Life is mostly filled with things we have no control over. We want the ability, the power to make things bend to our will but this is an illusion. If we pursue this type of control our lives will be filled with suffering. The secret to contentment and peace is to allow life to progress at its pace and accept what we think is good and bad, wanted and unwanted, desired and abhorred.

When we are able to practice this discipline we discover the ever-present now is exactly what it needs to be and so are we.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Problems

Problems

There are three kinds of problems; those we can live with, those we can do something about and those we must separate ourselves from.

It’s the last one which gives us the most trouble. Living with something aggravating and, at least in the present moment, is unchangeable can be a challenge. Fortunately, or unfortunately, we can tolerate a lot. This approach can create more hassles if something needs to be changed and we lack the direction, motivation or passion to do something.

Taking control, bending problems to our will, throwing our shoulder into a problem is an attitude we find easy. There’s nothing like grabbing a difficulty by the throat and forcibly doing away with it, changing it to our liking. The risk here is we can make a situation worse if we are too hasty, too stubborn or not wise enough in our decision-making.

Leaving it, for most of us, takes the greatest strength. To be faced with a problem and not change it but change ourselves, how we approach it, takes courage and trust. When we put up with it we are sullen and prone to negative thoughts and spirits. When we take hold of it and wrestle with it, we feel we are in control. When we decide to let go, step back, allow the problem to exist and find contentment at the same time, we have reached a place of genuine spiritual and intellectual maturity.

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

Pampered

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Pampered –

I feel embarrassed to admit I am sitting on the couch, pajama pants rolled up to the knees with my feet soaking in hot water, mixed with Epsom salt. I’m not sure why it’s hard to admit except it doesn’t seem very manly. Of course, that’s a sexist thing to write and it feels really good! Foot massages are for everyone.

The last couple of weeks my feet have been hurting. I’ve bought a pack of gel insoles and arch supports but still after a long day my feet hurt to walk on. The other day I asked Beth if we had a foot massage and she said perhaps but it’s packed up in a box in the shed. It was her idea to add the Epsom salt. So today, I bought a water, foot massage, a big bag of Epsom salt and here I sit.

This has been a long, busy, tough week. My thoughts are in different places with people who are facing difficult challenges in the weeks, months and perhaps years to come. If had a foot massage and some Epsom salt for each of them it would be awesome. However, I also know that even if their feet felt better they would still have to overcome some intimidating obstacles to regain their health and well-being.

I can’t take away the pain, the disease, the needs. I can, however, pray and trust that in some way those who are worried, uncertain and hurting tonight can find comfort and contentment in the midst of it all.

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

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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Wherever You Go

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Wherever You Go

I have a friend who was struggling. Several years ago he was miserable in his personal, vocational,  and spiritual life. He was looking for a change that would solve his malaise. We sat in a restaurant and talked about what he was needing and why. Finally, he decided he needed a new job. “I don’t get along or agree with the vision of the current leadership. Every time I walk into those offices I get a pit in my stomach. Finding another position with a place in a new state might be exactly what I need.” In silence, we ate our food and then I told him; “Remember, no matter what you do, where you go or live, who you are here is who you’ll be there. You always bring yourself with you.

The hardest changes we make in our life are ourselves. One of the biggest temptations we battle is the lie; “What’s wrong is outside of us, not within.” Until we understand the way forward is to travel inside we’ll never find what we seek.

Most wisdom teachers will tell us; “The only peace you’ll find is the peace you bring with you.” and “If you’re not at peace where you are you’ll never be at peace wherever you go.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Grow Again

Grow Again

A few weeks ago when I mowed our lawn it seemed mostly running the blades over dirt. However, the last week and a half has brought several days of much-needed rain and the grass is growing again. In less than a week since the last mow the yard needs cutting again! I am certainly not complaining. I would rather mow more often than look at brown grass and stunted plants. I don’t know if the rain will continue to fall but I am enjoying every drop that settles on the parched land.

It’s interesting how new patterns in life can emerge. For most of the summer the rain would fall around us, just a few miles away but not often at our place. Now we are enjoying being on the receiving end.

The rain is a wonderful reminder that life seems unfair when others are being “blessed” while we are merely witnesses. Though we try to be thankful for others’ gifts and favors we can’t help but wonder; “Why not us?” The answer is often elusive but patience and acceptance are the lessons learned and for these we should be thankful.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Pokémon…huh?

Pokémon…huh? –

Last week was the first time I had heard the words; “Pokemon” and “Go” together. A couple of folks in the office were talking about it and I was listening trying to figure out what they were saying, describing and deriving so much joy and interest. Like a newbie, I asked several questions but still didn’t understand the concept. Little did I know this conversation would be the beginning of an information  immersion into this app game for a cellphone I would receive over the last several days. I’ve heard about it on the news, podcasts, social media and more. I’ve seen pictures of people, phone up to their faces, meandering around, running to areas where “creatures?” can be found and trying to “catch” them.

Reflecting on this latest phenomenon I am reminded how each of us have goals we pursue. We seek the elusive, the valuable, the treasured, the thing that will bring contentment and meaning into our lives. However, unless we are pursuing the truth each goal we grasp only leaves us unfulfilled and a new goal appears with further promises of purpose and peace. If we’re not careful we can spend our lives chasing, finding and capturing that which will not satisfy.

“Truth is easy to understand once it is discovered; the point is to discover it.”
-Galileo Galilei

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Is it Love?

Is it Love? –

“Love is what love does now. It is revealed in the practice of loving presence and action now. Humble acts of everyday kindness, acts that do not encourage attention on the actor, these are what grow us in love.” #LaurenceFreeman

This quote was part of my Morning Office reading today. As I’ve reflected on these words they have echoed in my spirit. “Love” is a word which is thrown around so much it has almost lost its meaning. People tell their partners, spouses, children, family and friends; “I love you,” but also speak of our “love” for chocolate, cellphones, hobbies and clothes. We use the phrase in increasingly flippant and cheap ways for insignificant things.

Love is accompanied by action and love is in the present moment. I’ve wondered today; “can we love in the past? The future?” We can reflect upon what has been, what may be and embrace the emotions which accompany these memories and hopes but is it love if not expressed tangibly?

Loving” and trying to receive “love” from inanimate objects, material things, will only leave us empty, trying in vain to grasp contentment and fulfillment from that which can never satisfy our deepest longing.

To love is to act presently, to give without expectation of return, to offer ourselves in humility and vulnerability. Love does not seek our good but the good of the one who is loved. It is to risk being harmed, betrayed, taken advantage of, and left empty. However, it also comes with the possibility of being loved in return, the greatest gift we can accept and experience.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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More than Enough

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A while ago my wife read me a list of food and drink items which can help contribute to anxiety. As someone who struggles with the Big A it was an article she thought I needed to hear. I listened as she continued to read and then paused when she mentioned; “caffeinated coffee.”

Coffee has long been a staple of my morning routine but I decided to cut my Java intake in half and try to gauge the impact, if any, on my battle with anxiety. So far I haven’t noticed much of a difference in my stress level but I have noticed that I’m still filling up the coffee pot with water to the level I used to drink before I cut back. It’s a habit and a waste so I’m trying to remember I don’t need as much as I used to.

Life goes best when lived simply and lightly. As we travel our path we begin to drop, let go of the things we don’t need. Wisdom teaches us that our lives become full when we’ve learned to limit our desires and empty ourselves of things no longer needed.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Comfortable or Contentment

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What’s the difference between comfortable and contentment?  Is there a difference? I was part of a conversation this morning and when I said; “comfortable” the person I was speaking to didn’t like the word choice so I asked; “Is ‘contentment’ better?” and she said; “yes.”

Since the conversation I’ve been reflecting on the two words and the meaning we associate with both. Comfortable, for me, is to be at rest, not striving but satisfied with life or certain circumstances.
Contentment is to be accepting, non-judgemental, allowing life and events to unfold with a deep trust the path will lead us in the best direction for our lives.

As I look at my understanding of the two words I believe I would rather be content than live in comfort.  Being content I can still rest in acceptance, not see life as a competition and be satisfied in all things and seasons.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Purpose

What is our purpose, our calling? For some it seems so easy but for others the search for the meaning of our lives takes a whole life to find.

I sat with a young father on Monday evening speaking with him about his purpose. He’s had several jobs, numerous opportunities to make a career but for some reason nothing has intersected with his interests and his skills. I asked him; “What would you like to be when you grow up?” He smiled and then responded; “I really have no idea.” We talked a little more about what he liked and disliked, his past occupations and what he found intriguing about them but at the end of the conversation we weren’t closer to him finding his “calling.”

I was okay with the way things ended because I don’t believe everyone’s purpose is clearly defined in a moment’s time. For some their purpose may change with the seasons of their life. What’s important is that we are available to wherever the path may lead. If we walk and trust we may just find that purpose and contentment with our lives are one in the same.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Centered

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This morning, on my way to worship, I passed a huge flock of birds inhabiting a neighbor’s front yard. Resisting the urge to honk my truck horn I noticed that the birds on the fringes of the mass, away from the center, took flight at sudden noises or unexpected movement of a cow or passerby. However, in the middle, the birds didn’t move, remained undisturbed.

I reflected on the longing I have to live in a similar way. I realize that scares and unexpected shifts in how life plays out may frighten me for a moment but I desire to be still in the center. I want to be undisturbed, grounded, at peace.

I am reminded of a verse from an old faith song; “When peace like a river, attends my way,
Or sorrows like giant sea waves roll; Whatever my lot, you have taught me to know, It is well, it is well, with my soul.”

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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Fly Away

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Yesterday afternoon, after a long day of errands and yard work, I sat down by a fire of yard and outdoor debris. As I exhaled exhaustion and inhaled rest a beautiful hawk alighted on a table about twenty feet away from me. It’s wingspan was impressive, his claws looked sharp, a regal face and gorgeous coloring. I was as still as possible wanting the moment and the hawk’s presence to last. The fire popped, the large bird quickly took flight and I was left with with the remnant of it’s memory.

Too often we want to hold onto the beauty and let go, ignore the ugliness, happenstance and choice bring our way on the path of life. We don’t want to pause and be still for only a moment but instead stay in pleasant places. However, the impermanence of existence makes this impossible.

Wisdom tells us that developing the discipline of receiving blessings and fortune, chaos and calamity, with open hands is crucial to contentment. Understanding the transience of every moment, good and bad, positive and negative, wanted and unwanted, is to accept the truth that nothing lasts forever and all things sooner or later fly away.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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