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Defenses

Defenses

Earlier today I was mowing and weeding the yard. While doing so I came across a three to four-foot King Snake hanging out in the grass. I didn’t want to hurt it so I nudged it with the wheel of my push mower and it didn’t move. I bumped it again and the snake curled up into a ball. I was hoping the third time was the charm and tried to get it moving but it wasn’t going anywhere. I then went and grabbed a wooden stake, found the snake still rolled up and not willing to budge. As a last result, I pushed the stake through the center of the ball, picked it up and placed it in another part of the yard where it would be safe. “Sheesh!” I thought to myself. It just had to be difficult.

After getting back to my mowing I thought about the defensive behavior of the snake. It wasn’t helpful for it or me. I reflected on my defensive behaviors and unhelpful coping skills. As someone who deals with mental illness, I know first hand what a sense of being in danger, uncertain, threatened can do. It can cause me to make a bad decision, seize up, pull myself into an emotional ball and try to keep the danger out. Most times it doesn’t work but, like the snake, its instinct.

I know if I would’ve been able to communicate with the reptile I would’ve explained it needed to move for its own safety. If it was left alone eventually the snake would relax and be able to go on its way. When people fight, flight or freeze when we try to help our intention doesn’t matter. What matters is understanding and adapting our help to meet the needs of the other.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Protection

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Protection

We have a family of rabbits living underneath our shed. Every now and then, when we go outside, we spot one of them. They aren’t too afraid of us because we do our best not disturb the big or little ones. Trooper, our Siberian Husky, on the other hand, is on the lookout for a new play buddy. The problem is his “toys” are deceased after he plays with them. So, we have become the rabbit’s protectors. We do our best to make sure they aren’t in the area Trooper likes to frequent outside, know there is danger nearby making noise and giving them reasons to run and hide for a while. Though we try we know that Trooper or another predator could make quick work of the rabbit family. Snakes, cats, coyotes, raccoons, other varmints are dangers which could strike any day at any time.

There are many things we desire to protect in life. Some are possessions but for most of us, we long to protect the ones we love. However, as grow older, and hopefully wiser, the more we realize we cannot protect them from everything. Truthfully we cannot protect them from much that life throws their way. We can be there for them we can help them through the difficulties they are going through. This is a form of protection, one which reminds them they are never alone.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Hope

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Hope

This afternoon the Mrs. and I went to see, “The Last Jedi.” It was good. No spoilers but I still say the Original Trilogy is not in any danger of being replaced on my favorite movies list.

As I sat in the theater I couldn’t help but think of my father. He took me and my brother to see our first Star Wars movie. I remember seeing it and being, pardon the pun, blown away! Dad drove a large white station wagon back then and on the way home from the movie we pretended to be in a spaceship which was in the film named; “The Millenium Falcon.” As we sped down two-lane highways dad would fire lasers, flash high beams, at incoming “Empire” spaceships; “Tie Fighters.” I don’t know what the drivers, targets, of the other cars thought but my brother and I were ecstatic.

The newest Star Wars movie is about hope. In fact, all the Star Wars movies are about hope, fighting an enemy who seems invincible and never giving up. In the newest one different characters are looking for that “spark which will light the fire.” They find it in various places and in other people who give them courage to “not fight what we hate but save what we love.”

I am thankful today for the message of hope and the strength to keep going.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Afraid

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Afraid –

This morning, driving to a Father/Child reading event I was rounding a curve when out of nowhere came a big white dog, barking and headed straight for the truck. I didn’t have much time to react when at the last second it decided to turn back. My heart went into my stomach and as I looked in the rearview mirror the dog made its way back to the bush it was hiding behind to wait for its next victim. It was frightening to have this huge canine all of a sudden appear on what should have been an easy drive to a county library.

After my heart and stomach settled I thought about the dog and the fright it gave me. The fear had subsided and I wondered where its owner was, why the dog was allowed to play this dangerous game when, in a collision, the vehicle almost always wins?

I don’t like being afraid. Fear is unsettling and I’d prefer to live life without it. However, I admit that life can be a lot like the, almost, run in with the dog today. We navigate the road of life the best we know how hoping to reach our destination. When, out of nowhere, something happens which makes us afraid. It may be a brush with death, a lingering sickness, a mental health issue, a financial crisis, a danger or challenge to friends and family. In these moments we become afraid. Our goal is no longer reaching our destination but getting through each next moment. Everything slows down and our attention becomes solely on the fear.

In one sense it’s helpful our vision is singularly focused. It helps us concentrate on what’s in our way and how to avoid it or fight it. However, if we are not careful the thing which makes us afraid becomes the only thing we see and our vision to all the beauty and wonder of life is obscured. Balancing being fearful and mindful is tricky but is the only way we make sure we don’t spend our lives afraid to live.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Head On

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Head On

On Friday, my chores included riding the lawn tractor around the property picking up limbs, leaves, trash and other debris. I was finishing up just as it was getting dark. There were a couple of pieces of trash on the corner end of our yard which is next to the road. I stopped, picked them up, threw them in the trailer attached to the mower, checked both ways and drove the lawn tractor up and on the road. I had the headlights on and as soon as I made it on the road a semi-truck turned and began driving toward me. I was a spot where I couldn’t stop or pull back in the yard because of a steep grade and tried to figure out how far I had to go before me and the large truck would be at an impasse. I was going as fast as I dared and the semi didn’t seem to be slowing down. With my limited headlights on, while being blinded by the brightness of his, I searched for a location to pull back into the yard. Looking, longing, becoming anxious at the thought of being flattened by the truck I found a safe place to get off the road and avoid anymore; “playing chicken with motor vehicle” scenarios.

After breathing a sigh of relief I reflected on my; “Fast and Furious” moment. There are times, on the road of life, where there is little light by which to see. We are blinded by what’s coming our way and helpless to stop it. We do everything we can to find a safe place but disaster, danger, difficulties are looming and we don’t know if we’ll make it. Sometimes, at the last moment, we discover a safe spot a place out of danger. Other times we keep going, hoping, praying, there’s more strength, power, and courage in us than we’d ever imagine.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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On the Inside

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On the Inside

The other day I was in the mood for something sweet and grabbed a piece of candy out of my stash, anticipating relief from a caramel Werther’s. However, as soon as I had the piece of candy in my hand it felt differently, lighter than usual. It didn’t take me long to figure out there was only air in the wrapper. It was puffed up, looked normal, but closer inspection showed nothing on the inside.

One of my greatest fears is being non-existent, like this piece of candy. Puffed up by my ego seeming like there’s substance but it’s only an illusion, nothing on the inside. It’s a danger we all face. The world tells us if we look like everyone else, consumed by our collection of shiny objects, pretending we have it all together, claiming to be full of life when hollow and empty inside.

“The one who finds inner peace and purpose will stop thinking about how to live and begin to live.” #ThomasMerton

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Our Displeasure

Our Displeasure

My Siberian Husky, Trooper, is a nut. He’s always in a hurry to go somewhere, fast! He feels left out if you leave him inside while you do a task outside. He wants to be in on everything I do, tagging along, “supervising.” He’s especially not fond of being chained up when I use the riding mower to cut the lawn.

The reason I place him on the chain out-of-the-way is that he wants to be near me. His desire for closeness results in him being in front, on the side and behind the mower. Its dangerous and so he’s put in a safe place until I finish. However, he doesn’t understand the reason so he expresses his displeasure by pulling the chain as far as it will go and then standing on his hind legs and howls, loudly! If you’ve never heard a Husky howl, click here for a few YouTube videos of Huskies getting their howl on! (https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=husky%20yelling) I can hear his protestations over the lawn mower and ear plugs. In spite of my empathy for his plight I know the reason he’s there and, until the proper time, his screaming doesn’t dissuade my resolution.

Wisdom teaches us that limits and boundaries in life are necessary. There are times when we want to go further, harder, reach the summits of our dreams and desire yet something seems to hold us back from achieving what we so desperately want. We complain, scream, cite unfairness and simply don’t understand why we can’t have everything. Perhaps we can’t see the whole picture. Maybe there’s a danger we can’t see. Possibly acquiring our highest aspiration would lead us down a path which would threaten us and all we hold dear.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Caution Ahead

On my way home from leading a couple of Addicted Fathers’ groups today, driving up a windy country road, I came upon a sign warning me of a; “Flagger Ahead.” I immediately slowed down and sure enough, a little further down the road, there stood a flag man, his sign read; “SLOW” and he was gesturing emphatically to move over and stay in the left lane. I followed his instructions and began cautiously moving up the curvy road looking for the reason I was told to drive in the “wrong” lane. Up and up I went with no reason in sight for staying in a lane which made me anxious. I kept thinking another vehicle would come around the next curve and hit me head on. Finally, I saw a big tractor with a large attached mower cutting grass, bushes and trees in the right lane. It was a great reason to be in the other lane! Soon, after passing the big machine, another flagger, standing in the left lane motioned me to get back in the left one.

Moving into the lane, feeling more comfortable, and continuing on my journey I reflected upon the truth that sometimes we must travel in places which aren’t pleasant, agreeable or feels safe. There are folks we trust who warn us about the way ahead; threats, hazards and risks to avoid. One of the greatest gifts are wise ones in our life who can help us navigate the road of life. The question becomes; “do we listen and trust their guidance or remain in a place, which may feel safe, but puts us in danger?”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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What Happens

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This morning, on my way to a Father and Child reading event, I noticed a pair of long skid marks on the road leading to an even longer pair of tire marks on the grass which came to an abrupt stop on a small incline. It was obvious a driver wrecked but not what ultimately happened or the cause. Perhaps the person behind the wheel was taken by surprise when a deer darted in front of them. Maybe the road was slick, the car or truck began to drift and the driver over corrected. There are countless scenarios of how and why the wreck occurred and the final outcome.

As I wondered about the skid marks I also reflected on a group of incarcerated men I spoke to this week. I told them I had no idea the choices made that resulted in them being in jail, what happened in their life that brought them to this place. I also let them know I had no idea what happens next. “The rest of the story of your life will be determined by your choices.”

The road of life is full of twists and turns, hills and valleys, places of danger and difficulty. Oftentimes it’s not what happened before but what happens next that is most important.

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

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Destination and Reaction

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She was shocked, I wasn’t. She wasn’t looking, I was. She didn’t know where she was going, I was watching for her. She scurried out of the way, I slowly proceeded.

This morning, I pulled into the church parking lot and cautiously made my way to a spot. As I located one I also noticed an elderly lady crossing in front of me while talking to someone. She had no idea I was there and only when she took a breath from her conversation and looked up did she realize she had wandered into the path of an approaching vehicle. Her face said it all as her mouth fell open, her eyes grew wide and she made a quick bee line out of the way. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud because I knew she wasn’t ever in any danger.

After I parked I reflected and wondered if our lives are similar. Are we anxious and frightened over perceived danger when in truth we are safe? Our focus is too often on the threat not the One in control. Where we look, what we know, determines our destination and our reaction to life and what it brings our way.

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

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A Little Closer

YouTube seems to be very random in what it recommends for me to watch. Sometimes its videos of practical jokes on unsuspecting people, then science facts; “that will blow my mind!”, life hacks to “make house cleaning fun!” (yeah right), and this video about Komodo Dragons hunting a Water Buffalo in Indonesia.

Last week at one of my addicted father groups we talked about the lure of drugs and alcohol. It’s always an interesting discussion with men who are coming to grips with the deadly hold this disease has on their lives. Some are still fighting acceptance. They don’t see their substance use as an addiction but more of a hindrance. “It’s just a little out of control. Once I’m clean it won’t be a problem.” They’re convinced the drinking and drug use isn’t a real threat and they can outrun it, out muscle it, out man it.

Other men in the group understand their addictions are stalking them, hunting them, never far behind them and waiting for a chance to strike.  If the opportunity is there, defenses are relaxed, one strike is all that’s needed. Like the Komodo Dragon in the video, all it needs is an opportunity to inject the deadly venom.

While watching this tough, virile, powerful Water Buffalo and the sneaky, scheming, deceptively lethal slayer, I thought of all the dads I know who are doing their best to escape the deep hurts, deadly habits and persistent hangups that threaten them and the lives of their families.

I also thought about how easy it is for all of us to fall victim to things which don’t seem to be a real threat to our sanity and spirits. We fool ourselves into thinking we’re strong enough to handle all that life sends our way. We don’t need rest and recovery for our spirits, minds and bodies. We can bear the load of everyone and everything around us. Life will never get the best of us. We can escape the danger at anytime.

All the while the hunter stalks, biding it’s time, looking for an opening, waiting for a moment of weakness, whispering with forked tongue; “Everything’s okay. Nothing to worry about. No threat here. Just let me get a little closer.

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

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