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Self Focus

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Self Focus

Yesterday I travelled to see a friend. On my way, my gas tank was getting empty so I began looking for a place to stop. I spotted a gas station but it was on the other side of the road. A silly thought popped into my head; “Why don’t they put those stations on the right?” Immediately I realized how self-focused the thought was… First off all the gas station are on the right if you’re on the “right” side of the road and secondly, why would I demand a gas station on “my side?”

A few hours down the road I was in the far left lane moving with the traffic and a white, mid-2000’s, Toyota Four-Runner was in the lane going slower than the rest of the vehicles. People flashed their lights, “rode their bumper” and finally went around them. I flashed my light hoping they would take the hint but to no avail. Exasperated, I went around them as well. I kept my eye on the Fore-Runner and the driver stayed in the far left lane for miles and miles. All of a sudden it crossed all lanes into the right one. I thought; “What are they doing now?” and then I realized they were getting off at the next exit.

Wisdom teaches us to be aware of ourselves, to focus on our self at times, but not to be self-focused. The difference is to understand there are others in this world and we are to be as kind and loving to them as we should be to ourselves.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)

For more posts, reflections, and other writings, please visit: http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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What Do You Feel?

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What Do You Feel?

Identifying feelings can be hard. One doesn’t usually experience just one feeling but a myriad of them. When we ask someone; “What do you feel? or How do you feel?” what is our honest expected answer. There are many events I attend, running into acquaintances and they ask; “How are you?” I wonder what they’d do if a person told them their feelings. If someone actually laid our their emotions, the good, bad and in between, what would be the response? I think most of us wouldn’t know how to handle it. When we ask; “How are you?” there is an unspoken code that says; “Fine, good, or okay” is the appropriate comebacks.  We get used to this and even when someone we love and loves us inquires about feelings we give the easy answers.

Therapy was today. My talk therapist doesn’t let me get away with; “Fine, good, okay.” She digs deeper, wanting to know what I’m feeling, why these feelings, what happened to produce these feelings. She’s big on feelings and questions about feelings! I’m not big on answering them. Honestly, I squirm, become animated and agitated, but she’s persistent and eventually, we dig down deep enough where there’s no longer pleasantries but raw emotion.

I realize we can’t do that with everyone but there are times if we’re focused and aware of the person we are talking with we notice the answer doesn’t match the facial expressions, the tone of voice, the hollow eyes or body language. Are we willing to set aside our schedule to dig deeper, offer a listening ear, reach out to help? Feelings and emotions are messy. However, if someone opens up to you be sure not to let this amazing moment pass by.

For more posts, reflections and other writings, please visit: http://www.thewannebsaint.com

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

Stop and Go

Stop and Go

Ever feel like traffic lights are purposefully hindering your travel? Yesterday I attended an event in a city about an hour and a half from our house. I left early enough to still arrive on time if there was any trouble on the way. Fortunately, there were no accidents or incidents but it seemed as if every traffic light was red or turning red when I approached. It was frustrating! It all evened out on the way back because it was mostly green lights but then I didn’t have to be somewhere at a certain time.

The stop and go of driving is draining for me. You build up some momentum only to have it taken away by watching a green light turn yellow and then red. There’s the thought of speeding up when the light is yellow or ignoring a just changed red light but that’s how accidents happen. As my truck sits there at the light, my eyes focused, waiting for it to turn green I hear the voice of wisdom in my head; “The lights aren’t doing this on purpose. You have plenty of time. There’s no need to feel rushed. Don’t give into the frustration. Breathe Brian. Breathe.” Usually, I can catch myself before I lose it and was able to yesterday although it was close! I arrived at the event with plenty of time to spare. The day was not ruined by traffic lights. All was well.

Life is similar at times. We build up momentum to change a problem, overcome a difficulty, make progress on our journey of life, only to run into roadblocks, obstacles, and setbacks. It can be easy to give up and become negative and a malcontent. We must remember to breathe, that most hard times are followed by easier, less testing times. Life is a long road. As sojourners we hope for the best, plan for the worst and find our way somewhere in between.

For more posts, reflections and other writings, please visit: http://www.thewannabesaint.com

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

Treasure

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Treasure

Last week, exiting a store, I was behind a woman whose arms were full of boxed soda cans. As she was walking she suddenly stopped and bent down to pick up a coin she had spotted on the pavement. The drinks shifted, she adjusted them in her arms and was able to grab the coin with her fingers while also holding her keys. I was impressed with her dexterity but also puzzled as to why she was putting that much effort into the shiny object?

I was reminded of the story of the wise man and the city dweller who had met on a bench. The city was full of hustle and bustle and the man asked the sage what he was doing? Quietly the wise man said; “At this moment I am listening to the sound of a cricket.” The city dweller tilted his head and asked; “With all these people, the traffic, the cacophony of the city, how do you hear a solitary, small, insect?” The wise man smiled and asked the city dweller for a coin. He gave him one and the wise one flipped it into the air and it came down and bounced on the sidewalk. Immediately, many who were walking stopped to look for the coin. “See?‘ said the teacher, ‘It’s what we’re listening for, focused on, that counts.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Good Looking

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Good Looking

I heard someone say the other day that a person needs to be good-looking in order to see. I liked that turn of phrase. Often we think of being good-looking as being, handsome, pretty, “easy on the eyes.” We think of it as someone looking at us and thinking we are attractive. Much of our culture is obsessed with being perfect, interesting, and wanting others to think good about us. To be good-looking is the goal when we are focused on ourselves.

Let’s turn it around. What if good-looking was about finding the positive in others and in our world? What if good-looking was a concept we took to heart and a discipline we developed? What if we stopped being concerned with whether or not others found us, our lives, attractive and we started finding the unique beauty inherent in almost all things? Our world would be transformed if we thought and focused on others more.

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” #CSLewis

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Lost in the Moment

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Lost in the Moment

This morning, before worship service began at church, a girl a few pews ahead of us was playing with a squishy ball. Even after the singing started she sat in her seat throwing the ball up in the air and then catching it. Wasn’t long before the inevitable was going to happen, it went flying to the pew and the people behind her. She retrieved her toy and began again. Eventually, her mother noticed and stopped her but for a moment it was just her and the ball. She was focused on that ball and what was next, what might happen, didn’t exist.

Later in the service, another girl was getting fidgety. The preacher was speaking too long and she was ready to go. So she began to mess with the window blinds, play with and drop things on the floor. Making her way around grandma’s legs she was in the aisle and had found a place on the floor that squeaked and clanked when she stomped on it. A boy sitting beside his mother took notice of the girl and slipped from his mom’s grasp to begin stomping on the floor as well. Two more, lost in the moment.

Consequences and outcomes are important. Not thinking ahead can cause great difficulty and trouble. However, there are other times when being lost in the moment, for a moment, can be a wonderful thing.

blessings
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Sunshine

Sunshine

Yesterday evening Beth and I went out to eat. I was coming from home and she was coming from work. I arrived first and registered our name with the hostess. The inside lobby was packed and so I went and sat in the lobby located next to the front doors. I sat down, whipped out my phone and found a news article to read. Across from me was a precocious young girl saying; “Hi” to everyone who came in. She wobbled over to the bench I was on and said; “Hi” to me. I looked away from my phone and returned her salutation. She was playfully climbing on the bench and I went back to reading. After a few moments, she was sitting next to me and I reflected on my behavior. This wonderful little child, a social butterfly in the making, was sitting next to me and I was focused on my phone, not on her. I turned the phone off and put it in my pocket. “How are you today?” I asked. “Fine, she replied, how are you today?” “Good. Is that the sun on your shirt?” “Yes.” “Did you have a good day?” I inquired. “Yes. Did you have a good day?” she responded. We went back and forth until they called the name she was registered under and we said our “goodbyes.”

I am thankful for the awareness in that moment to put away all distractions and bask in an actual ray of sun shining in my life.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Where You Step

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Where You Step

Earlier this week I got up off the couch to walk from the living room to the bathroom. As I did my phone chimed with an email alert. I picked it up and continued walking while reading and scrolling through the message. Unfortunately, I did not see the dog who for some reason had decided he was going to sleep on one of the bathroom mats. I didn’t hurt him but did trip myself. Fortunately, I did catch myself. I had an immediate sense of shame as I help others to be focused, aware, mindful of where they step on the path of life and here I am stumbling over the pooch in my house. Sigh.

J.R.R. Tolkien wrote “Be careful when you step outside your door Frodo. You never know where your feet will lead you.” This goes for inside your house as well.

Where we look is where we end up. Our lives are often the sum of our choices and where we choose to fix our gaze. My gaze that day wasn’t on where I was headed but on a small screen with a message that could’ve waited a few minutes. Too many times we allow the illusion of urgency leads us to lack awareness and a place of unbalance.

Let’s watch our steps or there’s no telling where we’ll end up going.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Attention!

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Attention!

This afternoon I stopped at a store and picked up a few items. When I was done I walked to my truck, put my seatbelt on and began to back up. My mind has been full of different and difficult thoughts the last several days and for some reason, I only glanced out my rearview mirror. When I looked again there was a woman behind me with a horrified; “This guy’s gonna run me over!” look on her face. I slammed on the brakes and waited for her to pass. I then rolled down my window and apologized profusely telling her it was my fault I wasn’t paying attention.

When I arrived at my mother’s house I asked her to wash a few items of clothes for me and she said she would. I gave her the clothes and was turning around to walk back down the hall when I heard her yell; “No!” I came back and asked what had happened and she said she had poured fabric softener where the bleach was supposed to go. I then told her my story about the woman in the parking lot and we both agreed our attention has been elsewhere.

Stressful times full of difficulties and challenges taxes our minds. We don’t sleep well, eating what’s available, our minds, emotions, and spirits quickly become depleted because our energies are used in other areas. As hard as it is we need to take time to be focused and still. Catching up on rest, eating at more regular times and a decent diet can help. Deep breaths, times of meditation and prayer, trying to be still so the muddied, frenzied water can still so we are able to see.

Finding the mindful way when the way is rough isn’t easy but it might be the only thing which will keep us sane until we reach a more welcoming and easier path.

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

Keep Your Head

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Keep Your Head

Yesterday, after coming home from worship, I changed from my Sunday best into my “not so best” and went into to the kitchen to make myself from lunch. I grabbed a burrito shell, sprinkled a bit of cheese on it, popped it into the microwave and “viola!” a cheese burrito. While the burrito heated up I picked up the cheese and burrito packages to place them back in the fridge. As I was doing this I dropped the cheese package on the floor. I bent down, pinched it with my fingers, lifted it up and began to stand up. However, I had misunderestimated how close I was to the fridge. As I swung my body up my head came in contact with the edge/corner or the freezer door. “Ow!” It hurt so badly I thought I might pass out for a second. Keeping my bearings I backed away, stood up all the way and held my head as it throbbed. Later, when Beth got home, she looked at it and noticed it was swollen. “You have a nice Goose egg right there!” I didn’t know what birds had to do with my head but I did know I wish I would’ve paid more attention to where my head was at.

We’ve heard people say; “I lost my head!” when they’ve let their temper get the best of them, forgotten something important or have no idea what’s happening around them. Keeping our heads, being focused, in the present moment is essential. Knowing where we are, when we are, how we are doing and what can save us from injury, harm, pain, and Goose eggs.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Hidden

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Hidden

Last week I posted about a rat that had gotten stuck in a hole in the bottom of one of our outdoor trash cans. Today, as I was collecting the trash from the same bin there was a large mouse in the bottom who could fit through the hole and did so. He didn’t get very far but another movement caught my eye. In the back of the storage place where we keep the trash cans, I saw a patch of brown fur and thought another rat had made its way into the area and needed to be “taken care of“.

However, as I looked closer, I saw it was a large Hedgehog hiding in the corner. He wasn’t something that could be rid of so easily and our Siberian Husky, who’s killed his fair share, was off in another part of the yard. I wondered if he was able to get in the storage area but not out so I opened the door as far as it would go and left. Hopefully, it will get the hint and leave.

As I reflected on the Hedgehog I also thought about self-awareness. It’s the discipline of truly knowing and seeing ourselves, understanding what we do well and what we need to improve. Oftentimes, we become focused on the smaller challenges and don’t see the biggest area of improvement we need to make. True self-awareness reveals the largest issue, hidden behind all the smaller things, which needs to be brought out into the light.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

How’s the View?

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Beth and I went to breakfast this morning and then ran a couple of errands. We went to one store and parted ways to retrieve our items. As I was looking at a shelf a woman pushing a cart toward me caught my eye.  I stepped back to allow her to pass and anticipated continuing to browse after she went by. However, she stopped right in front of me and began looking in the same place I had been. “Wow! Are you kidding?” was the first thought which flashed across my mind. Tempted to say; “Excuse me!” I instead, bit my lip, and waited for her to get what she needed and move on.

On this journey of life, as we look for purpose and meaning, there will be two kinds of people. The first are those who help us know where to look, teach us how to be focused, help us see and concentrate on the things which are most important. The second are those who distract us, block our view, attempt to take our vision off of where it needs to be and place it on them.

True wisdom teaches us the difference between those who helps us see and those who’d make us blind.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannnabesaint.com

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Not Real

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I was speaking with a friend this week who’s struggling with three things; judgmental thoughts, judgmental words and judgmental actions. The latter follow the first and are causing difficulties with people he holds dear. “I don’t want to speak harshly and condemningly to those I love but I can’t seem to stop the thoughts from expressing themselves.” He sighed. “What if your thoughts weren’t real?” I asked him. “What if your thoughts were just clouds of words floating through your mind and have no substance? What if they didn’t define your reality and only became form and influence when you plucked them out of the sky of your mind and made them into tangible words or actions?” While he considered this I quoted to him one of my favorite wisdom sayings from Aristotle; “The mark of a wise mind is the ability to think a thought without believing it to be true.

When we judge others, even only in our minds, we are forcing our limited understanding of what’s real, normal, acceptable onto their limited understanding of the same. When we label someone as lacking we’ve actually judged ourselves. We show our minds, emotions and wisdom to be lacking.

Thoughts are meant to be considered, reflected upon, examined in broad and focused ways. We are to seek to understand and then be understood. When judgement fills our minds, hearts and spirits there’s no more room for wisdom, compassion, relationship.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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