Blog Archives

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

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Fear

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Fear

Earlier today I was weed whacking and mowing the grass. As I maneuvered around one of our smaller trees a movement caught my eye and I stopped to see a big black spider fleeing from the lawn mower. It paused for a moment and I had a choice to make; step on it or let it live.

A few weeks ago I suffered a bite from something that caused my hand to swell and turn partially red with splotches. It occurred to me that perhaps it was a spider bite. As I stood there this morning I wondered the same thing. The spider didn’t move and finally, I began pushing the mower in the other direction. I had decided I wasn’t going to kill out of fear this spider, in the middle of the yard, might bite me.

After finishing the chore I sat down with some cold water and my mind drifted back to the spider but also to the way fear can impact us. When fear finds a place in us we can become angry, vengeful, and cruel. We begin to be suspicious of things we may not consider beautiful, acceptable, normal and wanted. We allow the fear to make decisions for us and use it as an excuse for deplorable thoughts, words, and deeds.

Fear runs rampant in our world today. We can’t read online magazines, news, opinion columns or watch the news, many shows without our fear factor being dialed up to the extreme. We are told those who think different, talk different act different, look different, from us are to be feared.

As a result, our world is lacking grace, kindness, and love. The choice is ours to make; live in fear or love like the fate of the world depends on it because it does.

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

Sing Along

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Sing Along

Earlier this week I had a song stuck in my head. It played over and over in my mind. It was from an artist I don’t like or dislike and was a song that was fine but not spectacular. These facts didn’t matter because the song was like an earworm which burrowed its way into my brain and wouldn’t stop. I found myself humming the tune, singing along, tapping my foot and fingers, when I was in meetings, classes, and other places.

It is hard to get a song out of your head sometimes. I usually try listening to it several times in a row which can dislodge it. Other times singing it out loud, all the way through, will do the trick. However, some songs refuse to let go and I just live with it until finally, another song, or silence if I’m lucky, takes it place.

I was speaking with someone this week about the causes of poverty, abuse, addiction, incarceration and the incredibly hard task it is to break free from these often generational, familial, cycles. Too often, people think the battles we face are won by acts of wills and choice. While these are important they are not the sum of all problems. When you have been surrounded with these ills of society and family you become used to a normal. You witness those you love and look up to make decisions that keep them trapped in the cycle. Growing up in these environments impact the way you think, your view of the world, and the hopelessness of being free.  Who we are, what we are, are not only the choices we have made but from a myriad of choices which happen when we cannot decide for ourselves or even before we are born.

Understanding the truths about some of the people we meet each day will, hopefully, rewrite the judgmental and biased scripts we easily recite in our minds when we encounter the poor, drug addicted, alcoholic, homeless, ex-felons, and wonder; “Why can’t they do something about their lot in life?” Maybe, they need us to sing a new song to them.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Steps

Steps

I was talking with someone this week about choices and the impact every one of them has upon our lives. “Each step,’ I said ‘is a step down the path of your life. At the end of the journey is your death. When you’re lying in the box what will people say you did? Who will people say you were?

It is a difficult concept to wrap our heads around sometimes that we are mostly a direct result of our own decisions. There are few things which happen to us which are not a consequence of our choosing. This is not to dismiss diseases, abuses, crimes, and other challenges which can impact our lives without us bearing responsibility but most of what we do and who we are is a direct result of the life we choose to live, the path we choose to walk, the people we decide to be.

One good choice, one step in the right direction, can be a powerful act which reverberates to every corner of our lives and to the deepest part of our souls. Each day, what we think about, what we do, who we spend time with, what we read or don’t read, watch or don’t watch, learn or not, are steps toward or away from the person we need to be to make the world and those directly impacted by our lives better.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Heart Hunger

Heart Hunger

This afternoon I attended a meeting where a speaker talked about babies born being addicted to drugs. The mothers of these soon to be born children were addicts of both prescribed and unprescribed drugs and when the baby emerged from the womb it too craved the narcotics.

It was heartbreaking to hear the stories of some of the moms. 85% were on welfare, didn’t have much in the way of education, lived in poverty and were receiving the help of many community and national organizations. What was even sadder was the moms knew their addictions were harming their unborn child and yet couldn’t break the cycle. The addiction had overtaken the heart of the mother and superseded their instincts to care for their soon to be born child. The hunger for being a good mom was less than the appetite for the drugs.

Our hearts, the souls, and spirits of us are powerful. They can give us the strength to overcome the greatest of challenges and reach heights unthinkable or take us to the depths of hell and nightmares unimaginable. Wisdom teaches us to choose today who we will be tomorrow. Choose carefully because our decisions mean life or suffering and death.

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

Destination

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Destination

I heard a business investor say today that; “Right choices bring the wrong results and wrong choices bring the right results all the time when it comes to investing your money.” Luckily, I don’t have enough money to worry about whether or not this is true but it did cause me to think about the consequences of our decisions.

One of the core principles I try to give to the men I work with is that; “Choice is destiny. What we do today determines who we will be tomorrow.” I believe this to be true but I am also old enough to know life is never predictable and the unexpected could be around the corner ready to smack you!

As I thought about this gentleman’s words today I realized they were indeed factual. Making bad decisions could lead to something unexpectedly joyful but the odds are long. Also, we make good decisions, not just because they will lead us to something better, but because of who we are in the deepest part. We certainly hope our lives will be blessed by choosing fidelity to ourselves and those we love but no matter our destiny. We choose to be good because we know it is the better way.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Decisions

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One of the hardest decisions a father has to make is whether or not to give up the rights to his child(ren).  I spoke with someone today who is wrestling with this decision. He is thousands of dollars behind on his child support payments and realizes that every day increases the debt he owes.

He doesn’t make any excuses and understands why most people would look on his fathering skills with disgust. He’s been in and out of jail, rehab and has developed the habit of making the worst possible decisions.

Still, however, there is hope. Hope that he can turn it around and be a good man and a good father. Hope that he can have a relationship with his child. Hope that his life even at such a young age won’t be told with head shakes and frowns but with smiles and sighs of relief.

The piece of paper he’s being offered, to give up parental rights to his child, represents both a way out financially but a resignation that he will never be the dad he needs to be and his child will grow up without knowing their dad.

Decisions. Some come with little or no consequences, others with incredibly heavy burdens and life-altering outcomes.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Descisions

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Decisions –

Earlier today I was dropping off a list of names for the incarcerated father’s class to one of the corrections officers at the jail. Usually, there are a few pleasantries and I do my best to stay out of their way as they do a hard job with immense pressure. However, today was different. When I handed the list to the corrections officer he was rude and said something unkind. The biggest part of me knows the responsibilities of the position requires focus and a mind which can make quick decisions. The residents are often attempting to “get away with something“, they work long hours, put up with a lot of harsh treatment and there’s not a lot of “thank you’s“.

I tried to ignore it as I walked away from him. These things don’t happen often but as I got further from him I noticed a small part of me was upset at the way I had been treated. It didn’t last long because as I walked by the cells and buzzing doors which led to my class a question formed in my mind; “Are you going to let what was said imprison you? Will you allow the hurtful words of another coerce you into a bad mood or will you choose to be free?”

By the time I go to the classroom I had decided that I would be not be captured, imprisoned, held captive by the words of another. I let it go and it lifted off my shoulders and disappeared.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

The Other End

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The Other End

One of the key tenets of our incarcerated father and fathers with addictions class is the understanding that every choice we make has consequences. There may be huge, dramatic outcomes or little and benign results but there are repercussions to every decision. Most of the men in the classes understand they’ve made some big, bad choices to be locked up but in the class, we are discovering that often the momentous poor choice was preceded by smaller ones.

We conversed about this last night as we do each week, “What you do today determines who you’ll be tomorrow.” What they think about, talk to one another about, listen to, read, watch, everything has a deciding factor in the person they are becoming.

Self-awareness, is the discipline of truly knowing who you are; the good, the bad, and the in-between. Until you are honest with yourself about the person you are you’ll never discover how to become the man, the father, you’re supposed to be.”

A wise teacher once told his followers; “When you pick up one end of the stick, you also pick up the other.” A good lesson for us all to learn and remember.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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The Universe in a Choice

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The Universe in a Choice

The idea of the world having a conscious is intriguing. Many wisdom proverbs speak of the commonality every single human being on the planet possesses. We are united and bound together in much more ways than we are separated. Unfortunately, we focus on those few things that divide and in being pulled apart everyone loses.

The last couple of weeks I have been watching an historical documentary series which focuses on the; “what ifs” of the last 100 years. The premise is that if major figures over the last century would have made different choices, thought and acted in different ways our world would be in a better place. From the first two world wars, nuclear bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, Korea, to space exploration, race relations, Vietnam, Desert Storm, financial and housing markets, Operation Freedom, Guantanamo Bay, and other critical turning points that, perhaps, if people would’ve focused on less on themselves and more on others, our world may be a much different place.

Some choices seem to have little consequence on ourselves, those we love and all others who surround us. However, there are decisions which we make that could have a lasting impact on many lives for generations to come.

Wisdom tells us to be mindful, for in every choice hangs the fate of the universe.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Protection

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Protection –

This morning one of my lectures at a rehabilitation clinic was double booked which gave me a free hour until it was time for the second lecture. I needed to pick up a few items at a store so I decided this was a good time. I parked and went inside. Entering the store, through sliding glass doors, an employee was crossing in front of the doors and underestimated how much time she had until we occupied the same space. When it became obvious we were headed to a collision course we altered our current paths. We side-stepped each other and when we did a case for glasses the employee was carrying dropped from her hand and went bouncing on the floor. “Excuse me. I’m sorry.” I said. She replied it was ok and picked up her case. “Good thing you had that case!” I chirped “It sure was!” she said smiling and we parted ways.

Walking through the store and collecting the items on my mental shopping list I thought about the employee and her glasses case. One of the phrases I use when speaking to groups about healthy children and families is called; “Protective Factors.”

Protective factors are conditions or attributes in individuals, families, communities, or the larger society that, when present, mitigate or eliminate risk in families and communities that, when present, increase the health and well-being of children and families.   (https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=protective%20factors)

Protective Factors shape the way we see the world, dictate a lot of our behaviors and coping abilities. The fewer protective factors the more hostile the world looks and this shapes our lives, who we are, in the deepest part of us.

The second lecture went well. Part of my presentation is to ask; “How many of the attendees come from families where drugs and alcohol were abused, physical violence, negligence, abandonment was part of their childhood?” It’s always humbling to see how many raise their hands. We then talk about how our past can determine the way we see the world, how we think and make decisions in the present. I spend the rest of the lecture, hopefully, helping them see how to begin to build protective factors into their and their family’s lives.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Ahead

Ahead

This morning I was on my way to give a lecture and counsel a group of fathers with addictions when a white box truck pulled in front of me. We stopped at a place where you must cross a busy four-lane highway to continue on our current road. I knew the box truck would need extra time to get to the center of the highway where there was a large section used to wait and then continue across to the other side. So I, and several folks behind me waited, and waited, and waited but the box truck driver wouldn’t go though they had ample opportunity. I finally figured out the driver wasn’t waiting for the traffic coming from his left to cease but also from the right. They wanted all four lanes clear and as a result, couldn’t find the right time to proceed.

As I sat there, and when I was finally able to cross the highway, I thought about the stubborn attitude we all have to want everything perfect, “just the way we like it“, how we think it’s supposed to be, before we make decisions, hard choices, take steps of faith, on the road of life. We spend inordinate intervals waiting, wondering, if it’s safe to continue, is this the right time, and, as a result, miss genuine opportunities of growth and progression on our path.

Wisdom teaches that most of the time there isn’t a perfect time to keep going. We must trust the path, it’s maker, ourselves and the belief a greater reward lies on the road ahead.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Smell of Freedom

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Smell of Freedom

The aroma of six pizza filled my truck cab today as I drove to the county jail. This is Celebration Week as we give certificates, serve pizza to the dads who have put up with me for the last 3 months and, hopefully, have learned to be better men and fathers. I arrived at the jail a few minutes early and began setting things up when I noticed a young man standing on the other side of a heavy steel door with a section of plexiglass in the upper middle. I raised my voice and asked him; “How are you today?” “Fine.” he responded, then added with a big grin; “I’m going home today!” “Congratulations!” I answered back. “I know you’re excited.” “Sure am!” I continued setting up the room and finally, the door buzzed opened and the man began to make his way across the room. As he reached for the door that would take him to freedom he said to me; “Hope you have a good day.” I smiled and replied back to him what the dads in my class have heard many times; “Make good choices! None that will bring you back here!” “I won’t,” he said and disappeared.

A few moments later the incarcerated fathers began to fill the room. They eyed the pizza sitting on a bench in the corner and smiled. “Good choices, make good men and good men make good fathers! Choice is destiny.” is how I begin every class. At the end, before we ate pizza and took pics of the men with their certificates I made them say it loudly! “Good choices make good men and good men make good fathers!” They nailed it and we enjoyed our final few moments together. When I got back to my office I bowed my head and prayed it would be more than words for them and me.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Sum of Life

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Sum of Life

“…the sum of Your words is Truth.”
#Psalms 119 v160

This portion of Psalm 119 was part of my Daily Office reading this morning. It is the longest Psalm in the Bible coming in at 176 verses. There’s a lot of words in these verses and to have one of them say; “The sum of your words is truth,” was humorous to me because I wondered; “Why so many words and verses then?” As I’ve reflected on; “The sum of your words is truth“, I’ve considered; “What is the sum of our life?”

Albert Camus says; “Life is the sum of our choices.” In other words at the time of our death, when we look back over the journey we’ve traveled, it will be the innumerable decisions, made over the countless minutes, hours, days and years we’ve been given which ultimately decides who and what we are, our impact upon the world. Is this true? Are we simply the sum of our selections? What about the tragedies and miracles, unexpected and unwanted events and experiences which happen to us? How do these figure into the equation? Is it also our reactions to these?

I’m not convinced that we are completely in charge of our destiny. There are too many unknown variables, caveats and exceptions. What I do believe is that life happens. How we accept and adjust to it all makes us the people we are presently and will become eventually. I also think we are never done “becoming” and when we take our last breath, however the sum of our lives is ultimately calculated, desiring to make the best choices for ourselves and others is the best way to go.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Loyalty 

Last night I watched the movie; “Legend” about two brothers who were London gangsters in the 1960s. The titular roles were both played by Tom Hardy in an excellent performance.

The theme of the movie was the bond between a smart business minded brother Reggie and his schizophrenic sibling Ron. Throughout the film Reggie’s attempt to climb the ladder of the underworld and become, possibly, a legitimately respected businessman was constantly being thwarted by his mentally unstable brother. The movie ends with a disturbing scene in which Reggie kills a low life extortionist in front of Ron and when Ron asks why he did it. Reggie’s response was; “Because I can’t kill you.”

Loyalty is almost always a laudable virtue. We want to be the type of people who stick by our family and friends. We long to be seen as ones who are there for others no matter what, in thick and thin, whatever the costs, no sacrifice too big. As desirous a trait this seems, there are times when loyalty can be detrimental and disastrous. If our loyalty violates our principles, puts us in situations which keeps us from our purpose, stops us from being who we’re called to be, and should be, then our loyalty is misplaced.

I tell the men I work with, who are suffering from the disease of addiction or incarcerated, that one of the hardest choices they’ll make in their new lives is deciding which friends, family, associates they can no longer be around. They will need to make a conscious decision of who will and who wont walk with them on the right path. Even folks who have been loyal to them; if these people are harmful influences in their lives, have to go.

Loyalty is part of a desirable character but when loyalty to others means we are disloyal to ourselves a new way of thinking and being is required.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Fires Together, Wires Together

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This interesting picture and intriguing quote was in my Facebook feed this morning. It caught my attention in part because I’ve been studying Epigenetics. It’s the study of how trauma impacts people and generations following.

One of the experiments used to prove this area of science involved shocking a female rat with electricity when a certain odor was emitted. After a while the rat, even though there was no shock, still reacted when she smelled the specific odor. What’s even more compelling is the rat’s babies and the baby’s babies also reacted negatively even though the second and third generation of rats had never been shocked with electricity when the odor was emitted.

Epigenetics proposes that the genes of the rats have been altered, changed due to the trauma of the original female rat and these genes have been passed down to preceding generations.

Neurons that fire together wire together” is another phrase used by brain scientists which deal with nerve pathways. The more often we do something, or have something done to us, the more used to certain behaviors and environments we are mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. In other words it becomes our definition of normal, our reality. It is only when we are able to learn new ways of thinking, being, can we change our personal and family’s destiny. To consider that the choices for our lives impact the immediate now and our, other’s, future the more important it is to be sure our decisions are filled with wisdom and grace.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Disappointment

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I had to disappoint a group of people this past week. It wasn’t easy or fun but necessary. Life’s path comes with many choices. I don’t think or believe there is one direction we must walk and one wrong choice takes us, perhaps irrevocably, away from our purposed destination. Life is much more complex and mysterious than we often give it credit for being. Some choices have great, maybe even grave, consequences but even those can further our travels on wisdom’s way if we allow all decisions and their outcomes to be teachable moments and seasons.

My choice not to pursue an opportunity had to deal with many things and was made with peace of mind and spirit. When it was done I was content and trust the path will still lead me to the place I need to go and the person I was created to be…

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Decision and Dentistry

Confession time. I hate going to the dentist! I am not saying that I dislike going to the dentist, I am not hinting that there is something I would rather do on a day off, or alluding to the thought that it is a place I would rather not visit on vacation. I am clearly and emphatically stating so that there is no equivocation, that I hate going to the dentist!

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I hate going to the dentist because I am at his/her mercy once I get there. I hate the way they talk nice and then take you into that small room and place you in that chair. I hate they way they tie that bib around your neck so when they begin their torturing they won’t get anything on you. I hate the way they lean you all the way back until you get woozy, then they begin to “explore” by tapping on your teeth with these pointy little metal things looking for problems. I hate how they make you open your mouth in the most painful position possible and continue to poke around.

I hate the shots in the gums, the drilling, the poking, prodding, grinding and sticking other instruments into your mouth that just frankly don’t go there. I hate the x-rays. The pieces of card board they stick inside your mouth and then tell you to bite down so hard you cut off the circulation while they excuse themselves and go grab a burger, watch some television, or whatever they are supposed to be doing, while they are “taking the pictures.” I hate when the technicians come back and say something silly like “Now that wasn’t to bad was it?” If you could talk you would tell her how bad you thought it was, but she knows you cant talk which is why she asked.

But what I hate the most is that dentists are important. When a tooth starts hurting you need to go. Cleanings, check ups, routine visits all of which are vital for dental health.  In spite of the pain, agony, x-rays I know these visits have a purpose. Problems are found, issues are dealt with, major work is avoided if I can just bring myself to make the appointments and follow through.

There are enemies to oral hygiene seeking to destroy my teeth. There are germs that want to make my gums recede, foods and drinks that taste so good and yet are terrible for my choppers and each of these things make getting back in that small room and reclining back in that torture device called a dentist chair necessary.

So I figured I got one of two choices. I can either brush my teeth 24 hours a day and not eat anything, or I can resign myself that the dentist is always going to be a part of life.

Sigh….I feel better…I think.

light and wisdom,

bdl

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