Blog Archives

Digging Around

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Digging Around

This week I had to take three days of classes to qualify as a Certified car seat Technician. Part of the assessments required the students to install, uninstall, spot problems with seats installed by others and know which need to be replaced. It was three long days full of information and statistics.

One of the difficult tasks is sticking your fingers in places you can’t see when you’re searching for tethers, anchors and seat belt clips jammed in between the seats. Not every car is as clean as one would like and you never know what you might find when you’re digging around.

Last week, during therapy, my “talk doctor” told me we’d begin digging deeper in the coming months. We had reached a plateau and now it was time to turn over some fresh dirt. I agreed with her that it was time and needed. I’m not necessarily looking forward to the mental, emotional and spiritual energy required but I also know if you don’t look closer, feel around, poke harder, dig deeper there’s a chance you won’t find what you’re looking for.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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By Surprise

By Surprise

On my way home from Nashville today I was passed by a Mustang convertible. The top was down and the man and woman in the car seemed to be having a carefree drive enjoying the sunshine and summer breeze. Then, out of nowhere, the clouds blocked out the sun and the bright day turned dark. The dark gray clouds opened up and a torrential downpour started. People started slowing down because even with the windshield wipers on high it was difficult to see the road. The people in the Mustang began looking for a place to pull over to the side of the road to put the top back in place so they would no longer be pelted by the rain.

As they struggled to find protection I reflected on the truth that sometimes storms come and we’re not prepared. They surprise us because everything seemed to be going great. We’re enjoying the road of life and all of a sudden; panic, frustration, trauma. We’re left with a mess trying to figure out; “What happened?”

Life is full of surprises. Whether we’re ready or not, here they come.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Balancing Act

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Balancing Act

There is an area in our yard next to the road that is tricky to mow. It is a sharp incline and in order to the get the job done the mower and the rider has to be at a steep angle. When I mow this particular spot in the yard I sit halfway on the seat with my body leaning in the opposite direction of the incline. The balance has to be perfect. Too far off the seat the mower doesn’t sense enough pressure on the seat and shuts off. Don’t lean far enough and there’s a chance the mower and rider could topple over. It’s a twenty-five yard long, difficult and dangerous, balancing act.

Life is also a balancing act. We live in perilous times. All one has to do is turn on the television, log online, and get the sense our families, communities, nations, and world is one mistake from toppling over into a dangerous place and we may not recover.

The problem is balance.  Sides are chosen, political parties picked, litmus tests are given, judgments made and those on the other side, even ones seeking a middle way, are labeled as; “the enemy.” I don’t know if we are going to make it back from the edge of disaster but I do know it takes more strength to listen than to ignore, to understand than to shout down, to accept than to reject, to see others as us than ‘less than,’ to find balance than to demand conformity.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Can You Hear Me?

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Can You Hear Me?

Earlier this week I had a frustrating conversation with someone (not Beth). I was attempting to explain and they weren’t receptive to my words body language and insistence. Finally, we decided we’d try again at a later date when cooler heads would prevail.

It is amazing how difficult it can be to communicate; listen and speak. It doesn’t only involve ears and mouths but minds, bodies, times, temperaments, and most of all the willingness of both parties to check their egos at the door. This is where I made my mistake. I was attempting to force someone to listen, to see and understand what I was doing and it wasn’t taking. Forcing people to do anything rarely, if ever, works. After we both stepped away I realized the whole situation was my fault. I wasn’t showing empathy but exasperation and that’s never a good head-space to be in when trying to speak to someone.

Thankfully, when we came back together I was able to recognize where I went wrong and tried a different way. I instructed and acted more respectfully and thoughtfully. I made sure not to try to cram information into someone but to let them absorb it. When it was over I apologized for my shortsightedness and hope this is a lesson I will take to heart.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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

Cling

Cling

I spent the day helping a friend go through the belongings of a dear loved one who has passed. It’s tough going. One might think it’s the expensive toys, gadgets, and gizmos which you’d want to hold on to but instead, it’s the little things; sheets of paper, old license plates, CDs, notepads. Items which wouldn’t sell at a yard sale or purchased at Goodwill are of immense value, a treasure to the ones who remain.

Death is often an open wound. Scabs may form, some healing might occur, but grasping at past memories and experiences, strains and pulls apart the wound and the pain, heartbreak of loss returns. Its hard letting go. It’s difficult to say; “goodbye.” but death demands we do it again and again in many ways, on many occasions and you wonder if it will ever be the last time.

Moving on requires that one live open-handed, no clinging to earthly, temporal things, allowing the shared life of the one who is gone to be enough.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Torture

Image result for wet siberian husky

Torture

Earlier this afternoon I tortured my Siberian Husky. I am sure that’s his point of view. Mine? I gave him a bath. He hates baths. From the time he was a puppy to now that he’s over thirteen years old when the water hits him and the soap is scrubbed into his thick fur he begins to howl and wail like someone is beating him! He tries running away, shaking the soapy water off, and is uncooperative from beginning to end. If it wasn’t so frustrating it would be funny.

I think many of us are like Trooper. There are hard, difficult, challenging things we go through that we’d rather not experience. However, it could be these very things that help us grow, get rid of old hurts, habits, and hangups. It may seem like torture when we go through it but afterward, we may even be thankful.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Gently

Gently

I saw him as soon as I pulled up to the stoplight. He was a man in late 50’s, early 60’s slowly, carefully, walking down a hill away from the traffic signal. He was slow, taking painful steps. I didn’t want to stare so I looked out the corner of my eye; watching every step, shuffle and pause. His face showed his age, his wincing revealed a hard, difficult, life. Many of his steps were unsteady causing worry that he might fall but he progressed on his way in spite of the awkwardness of his gait.

As I watched him I thought about family, friends, clients who struggle to make their way on this path called life. I’m one who struggles. I think at times we all have seasons where we’re just trying not to fall or fall back. It is in these times especially we should treat ourselves gently, remembering the words of the philosopher #Plato:

“Never judge a person’s progress, no matter how slow.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Untangle

Image result for tangled hosepipe

Untangle

Yesterday I made a promise to my wife. Actually, it was more of a threat. I threatened to leave the hose pipe outside all winter instead of putting it up in the fall. The reason for this is no matter what I try it all seems to be one giant tangled mess when I pull it out in the spring. One of my chores on Thursday was to untangle the jumbled mess of about three hundred feet of hose pipe. First I grabbed and dragged out most of it. Then I detached the ends to make them easier to work with. After this, I pulled each pipe end going over and under the other until I finally had one section free! When I did this six or seven times all the sections were in their own place and then hooking them together again one at a time I was able to run the hose pipe to the different areas of the yard. Whew! It was a hard, difficult job but had to be done.

In my work with men, fathers, and families, the initial times we meet to set up a plan of learning and action can seem like wrestling with a jumbled mess of hose pipe. However, with time and patience slowly learning, finding and breaking down the challenges, habits, hurts, and hang-ups, we can begin to put the pieces back together again.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Charging Stations

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Charging Stations

Where do we recharge? Where is a place we can go to renew and rejuvenate our body, emotions, mind, and spirit? One of the concepts I learned in a training I attended this week in Nashville, Tennessee was that everyone needs a safe place to go and refill, as one presenter said; “the “joy” juice.

These recharging stations are especially important if your life is filled with stress. Stress drains our brains, our souls. It has a way of stealing the “joy” from us and replacing it with a toxic combination which certainly damages us short-term and can damage us for a lifetime.

This is why places such as a church, park, gym, community center, friend’s house, favorite restaurant, mall or a backyard swing or hammock, can make a huge difference in our lives. These places give us an opportunity to breathe, clear our heads, relax, let go, reflect and process difficult experiences and relationships, simply be without needing to do anything else.

Recharging is not just for phones, tablets, and computers. It’s necessary for all of us whose batteries are running low.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

How Could He?

How Could He?

Here is Tennessee and even across America, there is a question that is on many people’s mind; “Why did the father of a five-year-old Autistic boy beat his son to death and then hide his body? How could this father then claim the boy had wandered off and allowed law enforcement officials, volunteers, and others to search areas near his home for three days thinking the boy was alive?” (http://fox17.com/news/local/dad-beat-son-joe-clyde-daniels-to-death-hid-his-body-in-remote-area-affidavit) Its horrible, vile, evil, confusing, and no matter the answers they will not satisfy a grieving family and community.

The next two days I will be training to be a trainer in Adverse Childhood Experiences. According to “SAMSHA (Substance Abuse Mental Health Agency) describes “Adverse childhood experiences or (ACEs)” as stressful or traumatic events, including abuse and neglect. They may also include household dysfunction such as witnessing domestic violence or growing up with family members who have substance use disorders. ACEs are strongly related to the development and prevalence of a wide range of health problems throughout a person’s lifespan, including those associated with substance misuse. ACEs include: Physical abuse, Sexual abuse, Emotional abuse, Physical neglect, Emotional neglect, Intimate partner violence, Mother treated violently, Substance misuse within a household, Household mental illness, Parental separation or divorce, Incarcerated household member.”(https://www.samhsa.gov/capt/practicing-effective-prevention/prevention-behavioral-health/adverse-childhood-experiences)

Put simply; what happens to one when growing up impacts that individual’s behavior, physical and mental health as adults. It changes the question from; “Why or How could you?’ to ‘What happened to you?” The difference is all the difference. It allows for context and the ability to understand, not approve, why a person would do something incredibly harmful to others or to themselves by researching their backgrounds, cultural, community, familial and social environments.

It will be a challenging and difficult two days especially in light of the tragedy that unfolded over the past week. However, only when our emotional and intellectual biases are confronted can we move beyond them to greater wisdom and knowledge.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Deflated

Image result for flat tire

Deflated

Yesterday I received a frantic call from Beth. She had an important appointment and when she walked out of her place of work she noticed her passenger’s side tire was flat! Fortunately, a co-worker let her borrow her vehicle. I hopped in the truck and went to replace her deflated tire with the spare. When I arrived it was completely flat. I’m not sure what she ran over but I soon had the car ready to drive, or so I thought.

After I let the jack down I noticed the spare was low. It was almost flat. I began thinking about it and we’ve had our car for almost 8 years and haven’t had to change a tire. So, the spare has stayed in the back of our Honda for eight years losing pressure over that long time. I told Beth I would drive the car home while she took my truck to run an errand. I stopped at the first gas station with an air pump and filled the spare tire with air. I made it home safely and we’ve contacted the tire store to let them know we’d be coming soon.

Feeling deflated, being deflated can hinder our journey on the road of life. Sometimes we know why we’ve lost our drive, maybe life’s normal wear and tear or a tragedy, difficult time we are going through. Other times deflation takes us by surprise and one day our get up and go has gone and can’t be located. Wisdom teaches us that in these times asking for help, allowing someone else to fix or temporarily repair what impedes us is needed and appreciated.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Old News

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Old News

The last couple of weeks of February have been a rough time for me the last several years. There are painful, heart hurting memories which seem to resurface and dealing with these challenging emotions is difficult.

Today I cleaned up our yard after a round of storms and rain this last week. I threw them on a burn pile and set it afire. I also had some old fence pieces and newspapers to burn. The newspapers are from my wife. She is doing her best to understand and begin to use extreme couponing in an effort to save money. I made sure to take old piles of newspaper and watched as the flames began consuming them. I tried reading some of the headlines and articles before the fire reached them and then they were gone.

As the fire leaped into the air I thought about it being old news which was out of date and historical. I also reflected on the memories I’ve struggled with the last few weeks and tried to remind myself that healing and time can also consume the heartache of the past and that our history enlightens our present.

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

Slowing Down

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Slowing Down

The last few days have been slooooooooooooooooooooooooooow. We’ve had overcast skies, plenty of rain and this makes for a dreary season and spirit. April showers may bring May flowers but February showers bring time to a standstill. The last few months have been long. I always have a difficult time between Thanksgiving and Easter. It’s dark when you arise and when you arrive home in the evening. The darkness that surrounds me seems to permeate my emotions. As someone with Chronic Severe Depression and a Severe Anxiety Disorder the days slowing to a crawl, mess with my balance and threaten to send me over the edge into negative thought patterns and fixations on disappointments and failures.

The balance, of course, is not letting the anxiety get in there and make my brain whirl like a drugged up hamster on a greased up wheel. Again, it is balance. I make sure the things which help me; meds, exercise, talking to others about how I’m feeling, are done and not discarded even when tempted to do so.

The balance to keep life’s rhythm manageable is an everyday if not every moment discipline. If we let it we would be either swept away in a chaotic whirlwind of activity or mired in a despondent state of surrender. Slowing down isn’t the goal but balance and mindful living are what keeps us sane and steady on the path.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Sweeping Up

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Sweeping Up

This past weekend my wife and I were going to do some needed cleaning. However, as the weekend wore on we both discovered motivation was lacking. I told her I would vacuüm the house one day this week and today was it. I began with a simple vacuüm across the floors but then noticed there were dust bunnies under a piece of furniture. I grabbed the broom and swept up the dirt only to discover there was more than I thought. Getting down on my hands and knees I swept all the way back and to the sides. There wasn’t a dust bunny it was more like a family of rabbits. I then began to do this to all the furniture and; “Wow!” The vacuuming chore took more time than I anticipated because of the extra work required. Real cleaning is a whole other level of commitment.

As I swept up all the little furballs and removed and returned furniture back to its original place I reflected on the need to deep clean our minds and spirits. It’s not too difficult to do a quick surface sweep but to get down to the hidden dirt and grime that reside in the dark places we must be willing to be uncomfortable and humble.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

No Apologies

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No Apologies

I have a friend who is going through an incredibly difficult season of life. It’s not easy what she’s dealing with but we both know there are certain stages of this journey she must travel alone. It is hard watching a friend, a family member, a loved one going through a dark time and know we don’t have the power to stop it or even ease the pain. We long to wrap our arms around them and chase the doubts, confusion, fear, and pain away but in spite of our effort, it isn’t possible. My friend knows me and a host of others are there for her and doing what we can but the path she treks is long and oftentimes lonely.

One of the rules my friend and I have in place is that she doesn’t have to say she’s sorry. There are no apologies necessary when she doesn’t feel like talking or going somewhere, being social and choosing isolation. There is no; “I’m sorry.” There’s just now and getting through each day moment by moment.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

The River

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The River

“Imagine yourself sitting on the bank of a river. The river is your stream of consciousness. Observe each of your thoughts coming along as if they’re saying, “Think me, think me.” Watch your feelings come by saying, “Feel me, feel me.” Acknowledge that you’re having the feeling or thought. Don’t hate it, judge it, critique it, or move against it. Simply name it: “resentment toward so and so,” “a thought about such and such.” Then place it on a boat and let it go down the river. When another thought arises—as no doubt it will—welcome it and let it go, returning to your inner watch place on the bank of the river.”
#ThomasKeating, “Open Mind, Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel”

One of the greatest and most difficult realizations is the truth that we are not our thoughts. We are not our actions. We are not our egos. True, each of these can reveal things about us and to the world but we are not these things.

The problem is we’ve been taught the opposite most of our lives. The famous quote; “Reap a thought, a word, an action, then a destiny,” seems right but our thoughts do not have to lead us to who we ultimately become. We can choose to go deeper, change paths, refuse to be captive to our thoughts by breaking free of them.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Long

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Long

A question was asked today; “If you had one word to describe this year what would it be?” I knew the answer before the question was finished. The answer was/is looooooooooooooong.

My father passed away on December 1st. His battle with pancreatic cancer began near the first of the year. I went through it with him and my mom long distance, over the phone, and travelled down to South Carolina several times to see them. What they went through, the endless doctor’s appointments, the good news and bad news proclamations from well-meaning physicians, the ultimate acceptance of; “there’s nothing more we can do,” and then his sudden demise. As I said, “long year.”

Yet, paradoxically, there is a part of me that is holding on to 2017. It may have been fraught with battles and ultimately surrender but at least there was still a fight to be had. Since December 1st and the flurry of activity of the next few days prepping for his memorial service, the days have been living in slow motion. In spite of it’s pace, this was the last month I can say that I saw him, talked with him, sat in his presence, read and prayed with him. Now, in just a few hours I won’t have that attachment any longer.

It is quite difficult to let go, to walk into an unknown future, live a new normal with only 30 days of adjustments and finding our place, gaining our balance. It will be a challenge to press on into this new, strange year, but it must be done.

A soft, sorrowful; “Goodbye 2017” and a hesitant, and perhaps hopeful; “Hello” to 2018.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Empty

Empty

Last week Beth had purchased some groceries at the store and brought them home. I went outside to help her bring them in when she arrived home. One of the bags I grabbed was a carton of milk and as I carried it inside somehow the milk fell out and bounced off the floor. Then milk began to shoot out everywhere. I picked it up and put it over the sink and observed there was a two-inch crack that resulted from the fall in the plastic container. I called to Beth and she came and found something else to pour the milk into before it had all of it was wasted in the sink.

There are times when I feel like that container of milk. It’s like; “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up or stop leaking!” Life has a way of bouncing us around, cracking us up and before we know it the good stuff; emotional stability, mental acuity and healthy spirituality are wasted away. Thankfully most of us have others we can depend on to help us through these difficult times. They help keep negative attitudes from filling what is empty and enable us to still remain useful no matter what life may bring our way.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Flashback

Flashback

Today, while working out, I began to think of someone I haven’t thought of in a long time. It was a song that started the flashback. The memories began emerging and it wasn’t long before I began to feel the emotions, experience the memories and time melted away. It was almost as if I was back in the place, with the person and struggling. This person and I had a difficult relationship. There are times when two people don’t mesh. Sometimes there are reasons other times there are not. The pairing produces negative results, hurt feelings, harmful actions, and regrets.

I was thankful my anxiety didn’t take me too far down the road. There are times when my anxiety disorder goes into high gear and I can’t turn my thoughts off. They keep coming and it seems I am at their mercy. Today, the flashback was only a few moments and I was able to move on.

Though unexpected and unwanted the flashback was a good reminder that I have put a lot of distance between what was then and what is now. Most of the pain has vanished, the hurt feelings healed, the memories and experiences seen differently. The person is no longer my adversary but a fellow sojourner trying to find their way home on another path.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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