Blog Archives

Elusive

Image result for mouse trap fail

Elusive

Yesterday morning while we were standing in our kitchen, my wife and I heard a “snap!” and I asked; “What was that?” Beth said; “Sounded like a mousetrap.” We haven’t had enough rain and it’s been too warm for them to need shelter but soon we heard the squeal of a trapped mouse. Beth was leaving for work and I went and grabbed a bag to dispose of the mouse. As I began to open the drawer with the trap I heard movement and by the time I got it halfway open the little mouse had freed itself and escaped!

I didn’t feel too bad about the little creature getting away. To come that close to death and not die it deserved another chance to live. Over the last two days, I’ve thought about elusive things and how it can be hard to get a handle on life. We have bad habits that we think we’ve beat only to fall back into them again. Maybe its a relationship that requires a lot of work and we wonder if it’s worth it. Perhaps a physical or mental illness that lingers and our hopes of getting better permanently are unrequited.

The choice to try again when all you’ve been doing is trying, and failing, can be a daunting challenge but often reaching the most elusive goals are worth the extra time and effort.

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

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The Question of Freedom

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The Question of Freedom

This morning a question was asked by a friend; “What are you celebrating this July 4th?” My answer was; “I’m not sure.” The easy answer is freedom, but freedom from what? I feel like we live in a time of disillusion and division. People are losing their right to express themselves no matter where their theology, political allegiances or cultural upbringing. We have become an intolerant and shaming nation. Those who are different, not like us, don’t share our beliefs and convictions, we condemn without either side given the chance to express ideas and discuss. Instead, we see different as a threat and label them as unworthy to be an American.

What does it mean to be free? What does it mean to be a patriot? What does it mean to be nationalistic? At one point in our history, being a patriot was speaking out against the government when it stepped over the line and into people’s lives, didn’t treat everyone (EVERYONE) as equal, needed to be put back in its place. We have exchanged our right as citizens of America and traded it in for members of a political party. We are republicans and democrats, conservatives and progressives, commoners and elites. Both sides claim they’re under attack, true Americans, and those outside of their political persuasions as “destroying our country!” The hate, vitriol, attacks, insults, spewed by both parties and their followers is heartbreaking and stomach turning.

So, what am I celebrating this July 4th? The freedom to write this without fear. Another question is; “What am I mourning this July 4th?” The loss of civility, being one people, allowing politics to define who we are, our neighbor is, and what being an American means.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Gently

Image result for yellow monarch butterfly

Gently

Yesterday I stepped out on to our front screened in porch to let the dog have some alone time in the yard. Immediately a frantic movement caught my eye. Inside the screen porch, trapped in a corner was a Yellow Monarch Butterfly. Big, beautiful and needing to be free. I don’t know if butterflies know when they aren’t free but I knew and was determined to do something about it. I took my hands and gently tried to close my fingers around it. Several times it fluttered away but I was finally able to catch it, gently take it outside and then cautiously open my hands and watch it fly away.

I thought about my journey with mental illness and people in my life who have struggles of their own. We might not know we are trapped or at least not see a way out. We need help, assistance that doesn’t force, grab, clutch, and drag us to where someone else thinks we ought to be. We need gentleness, someone who won’t break our wings or our spirits but show us there is life, there is freedom.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Place to Empty

Image result for bag of trash

Place to Empty

This morning I had a lot of garbage at the house which needed to be taken to the dump. Beth and I still wonder how two people can generate so much waste. The truck bed was full. On my way into town, I drove slowly, so as not to cause any garbage cans to topple over. My plan was to stop and get rid of it before my first appointment, however, when I arrived the dump was closed because they were waiting for a canister to be set in place to receive the refuse. This meant I had to carry the garbage until the afternoon when I would go back and try the dump again. It also meant driving slowly and anxiously carefully not to spill the stinky load. Thankfully, it was open and I was able to rid myself of the trash.

Afterward, I reflected on time, seasons in our lives when we need to empty the emotional, physical and spiritual trash from our lives and are unable. It impacts the way we navigate life and our attention becomes more fixed on the garbage than other, more important things. We need to regularly empty our lives of the toxicity, rubbish, and junk which builds up within us so we can be free of that which slows us down and keep moving on the road of life.

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

Disposal

Image result for pickup full of dirt

Disposal

This afternoon I took a trailer full of wood and debris to the local dump. When I arrived there was a line on one side of the dumpster and not the other so I chose the less crowded side. I chose poorly. I pulled up behind a man who was shoveling dirt, plain dirt, into the dumpster. This struck me as strange and watching him I thought; “Mister? Why are you shoveling dirt into a dumpster? Isn’t there someplace else you could put that dirt in your yard, a hole you could fill, a spot which needs leveling?” Finally, he finished, gave me a friendly wave, and was on his way.

I reflected on the man and his load of dirt which needed to be disposed of.  Each of us has burdens which need to be lifted, weights taken off our shoulders, troubles to be solved, millstones to be removed, from our lives.  We often do not know the difficulties family, friends and strangers are carrying. It is not our place to judge but instead to understand that none of us journey the road of life burden free.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Tethered

Image result for long black grey scarf

Tethered

This morning in church we were finishing a song and the song leader asked us to be seated. Beth had on a beautiful gray, black and white scarf wrapped around her neck and as we were sitting it ended up between the person and seat back of the pew in front of us. Beth was sitting and all a sudden the scarf now pressed into the pew by the woman couldn’t sit back she was stuck, tethered to someone we didn’t know. The situation was absurd and funny and we both got the giggles. I reached over to pull it from between the woman and pew and realized there was a lot of scarf to retrieve. Luckily, we weren’t seated for long and we stood back up expecting the woman to do the same. Unfortunately, she didn’t. Argh! Beth then began to pull the scarf little by little until, finally, she had freed herself and was careful not to lean too far forward again.

In life, there are times we find ourselves tethered to someone or a group that chokes the life out of us. We might not notice it at first but sooner or later we find we must be free or suffer. Cutting the cord, letting go, escaping from a toxic relationship is hard but it is better than the life being pulled out of us.

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

Idols and Illusions

Idols and Illusions –

I would add to the quote attached to this post anything that’s fleeting, temporal, transitory, this that tell us lies about ourselves or others. Things like politics, money, jobs, reputations. Idols are all of these and more which fix our focus on the illusion that we are in control, we are powerful and by our wills, the world can be recreated in our image. It is this illusion that destroys our world and ourselves.

This morning part of my contemplation and meditation time included a portion of the Second Book of Kings, chapter seventeen, verse 15; “They worshipped false idols and became false.” I have read that several times today, talked about it with a friend and wrote it down in a journal. It says we become what we worship. Where our heart is, our mind, emotions, spirits, where our energies are applied is what we are and what we become.

Idols and illusions are hard to see sometimes. Breaking free from them isn’t easy. #AlbertEinstien said; “All of reality is an illusion, a persistent one, but still an illusion.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Power

Power

The late Stephen Covey tells a story about a time he was speaking to a group of people in Sacramento, California:

… I was speaking on the subject of proactivity, a woman in the audience stood up in the middle of my presentation and started talking excitedly. It was a large audience, and as a number of people turned to look at her, she suddenly became aware of what she was doing, grew embarrassed and sat back down. But she seemed to find it difficult to restrain herself and started talking to the people around her. She seemed so happy.
I could hardly wait for a break to find out what had happened. When it finally came, I immediately went to her and asked if she would be willing to share her experience.

“You just can’t imagine what’s happened to me!” she exclaimed.

“I’m a full-time nurse to the most miserable, ungrateful man you can possibly imagine. Nothing I do is good enough for him. He never expresses appreciation; he hardly even acknowledges me. He constantly harps at me and finds fault with everything I do. This man has made my life miserable and I often take my frustration out on my family. The other nurses feel the same way. We almost pray for his demise.

“And for you to have the gall to stand up there and suggest that nothing can hurt me, that no one can hurt me without my consent, and that I have chosen my own emotional life of being miserable well, there was just no way I could buy into that.

“But I kept thinking about it. I really went inside myself and began to ask, ‘Do I have the power to choose my response?’

“When I finally realized that I do have that power when I swallowed that bitter pill and realized that I had chosen to be miserable, I also realized that I could choose not to be miserable.

“At that moment I stood up. I felt as though I was being let out of San Quentin. I wanted to yell to the whole world, ‘I am free! I am let out of prison! No longer am I going to be controlled by the treatment of some person.’ ”

It’s not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us.”

Obviously, there are exceptions to this rule, tragedies, sickness, and death, but for the most part, we are a direct result of the choices we’ve made with the experiences we’ve encountered in this life.

I read a quote yesterday that I’ve been reflecting upon; “The world we see and interact with is the product of how our mind perceives the world.” We are assaulted each day by an overabundance of visual, auditory, sensory stimuli. It is hard not to be separated by what we experience. However, if our minds, emotions, and spirits are ever to be free we must train our minds to be still so we can experience the world anew and break free from what we’ve known, what we’ve thought, the life we’ve lived.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Free Zone

Image result for cell phone free zone

Free Zone

Today, on my way to an Incarcerated Father’s class, I was passed by a truck with one of those “How’s My Driving? Call 1-800——–” sticker. There was a number identifying the truck and another sticker I hadn’t seen before which declared the truck a Cellphone Free Zone. Of course, what was the driver doing? Talking on his cellphone. I found it humorous and was tempted to honk my horn and point to his sign but resisted the urge.

I didn’t call the “How’s My Driving?” number either but I did reflect on the thought; what if we had stickers or buttons, shirts or pants, that asked; “How’s my living?” “How am I acting?” “Hate Free Zone” “Racist Free Zone” “Anger Free Zone” even the dreaded; “How’s my driving?” What would people say about us when they called the number? Good, positive reports or not so good, mostly negative?

The truth is we are being watched, all the time, everywhere. Reporting numbers or not, the world needs to see more kindness, grace, and love.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

the Other

the Other

Last night I was speaking to a group of men and we were discussing the needs men have to develop self-awareness. I told them; “Self-awareness is the ability to look into a mirror and see yourself for who you truly are, the good, the not so good, areas where you excel and places in you which need improving. The ability to know yourself is the first step in understanding what needs to be done to become the man you should be.

Knowing, accepting and loving yourself is also the key to loving others. Unless we’ve learned to see ourselves; flaws, hang-ups, habits, hurts and love ourselves we will be incapable of truly loving others. Often times our shortcomings and failings cause us to judge ourselves more harshly than we’d ever do to others. We stew in our self-hatred and weaknesses. This corrupts us from the inside out and results in a distorted view of ourselves which bleeds over into the way we see the world and the people in it.

It is only when we accept who we are, all of who we are, and love what we like and don’t like can we be free of a soul that is bitter and barren. Released from the prison which contains our hearts we find that others, like us, are frail and broken. We recognize the same limitations and discover in each other the strength to travel the path of life together.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Undercover

Undercover

I was talking with a friend this week about the different masks we wear when we go different places. There’s a work mask, family mask, friend mask, public mask, and somewhere, often buried deep is our true authentic ourselves. The problem is that we become so accustomed to wearing masks we never take one off for too long or risk showing the world who we are under all the fantasy. The conversation continued and we wondered if any of the illusions we create could eventually lead us to allow others to see the genuine person.

The conversation continued and we wondered if any of the illusions we create could eventually lead us to allow others to see the genuine person. We are so accustomed to hiding the “real” us, the person we think people won’t like, that wearing masks become our default and our defense.

The question becomes how do we break free of this habit of wearing masks? Overcome the fear of our authentic selves not being good enough? How do we begin to discover who we are when concealing our true identity has been our goal for most of our life? This is the reason we are here now, the journey we are meant to travel, the discovery, not of a lifetime, but of life.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes
but in having new eyes.”

#MarcelProust

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Others

Others

I had a conversation last week with someone about a person I used to know who got on my every last nerve almost every day. We talked about how this person, who probably had good intentions, didn’t have a way with people. In fact, there were many who repelled by his brusque personality and crude behavior. I relayed a story about a time he wanted to help but was unable because of who this person was on the inside and outside.

There were days I dreaded knowing I would encounter this man. It got to a point where this person was beginning to take up an inordinate amount of space in my mind. One day it dawned on me that I was spending too much time thinking about them and not focused on stillness of spirit. I threw on my tennis shoes, took a long walk, and hashed out in my mind all the things this person did and when I felt I had it all in a nice tight ball in the pit of my stomach, I took it out (metaphorically of course) and threw it away. I decided I would not give this one the power to make me crazy(er?) any longer. It was the freest and at ease, I had been in a long time.

We can’t and will not get along with everyone. Personalities clash, goals and visions collide, certain people and us don’t mix. This is okay as long as we treat them with respect, put some distance between us if at all possible, and never let them steal our inner peace.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannbesaint.com

Little Things

Image result for inchworm hands

Little Things

Yesterday, while mowing the grass I ducked my head as I maneuvered the mower underneath a low hanging branch. When I came out from underneath it I felt something on my finger. Looking down I discovered an inch worm had hitched a ride. I wasn’t sure what to do with him so I made the magnanimous decision to shake him off on some cut grass so ensuring I wouldn’t run over him. Holding out my hand I shook and shook but the little inch worm wasn’t letting go. Finally, giving it one more violent, animated shake, I looked on my hand and it was gone. I continued mowing and a few minutes later I felt something crawling on my neck. I reached up and took a swipe and it was the inch worm. It hadn’t flown off until the grass but on my shirt and made its way to my neck. This little guy had grown quite attached to me! Aiming carefully I whipped my hand to some mowed grass and he disappeared.

Wisdom tells us that it can be the little things that attach themselves to us and are the hardest to get free from. We recognize the larger attachments to possessions, time, a desire for a good reputation, money, job status, pride, and ego but often miss the smaller ones. These can include resentments, biases, complaining, negative attitude, being myopic and not recognizing the good in others and all around us.

Smaller attachments might seem like only nuisances but they stick to us and impact our ability to live life with gratefulness and grace.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

The Risk

Image result for bumble bee screen insect

The Risk

There’s a bumblebee stuck on a screen of our front porch. It’s the porch we’ve been building for several months now and have almost everything completed but the doors. There will be double sliding doors leading to the front door of the house and a side door leading to the front of the house. These missing doors leave large gaps to fly to freedom, yet for some reason, for several days, the little-winged insect stays put.

The problem is we’re hoping to finish up the porch quickly so we can enjoy it these spring and summer months. When the doors go up the bee goes out, forced to face the world full of birds, bug zappers, and countless other dangers.

When I see him I think of the invisible barriers that we all place upon our lives. Most of us like the idea of a smaller world.  A place where we aren’t in too much danger, there’s shelter from storms, protection from so many things which we can’t control.

However, to truly live, we must venture beyond our comfort zones and self-constructed barriers. There’s no guarantee we will be safe nor comfortable but freedom is worth the risk.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Release and Purifiy

Image result for leaves on the ground

Release & Purify

They weren’t there a few days ago but today, when I and the dog went outside, the storm door pushed them aside. Brown, dead, Oak tree leaves are everywhere. Each blast of wind or short breeze seems to shake more loose. Sitting, you can watch them fall, seemingly endlessly, piling up in corners, next to the fence, in flower pots and against the house. What to do? Find the rake, gather them in a pile, set them ablaze.

Last week I wrote about letting go of things and how the fall season is a great metaphor for living a life where we don’t hold on to things (https://thewannabesaint.com/2016/10/18/falling/). Not grasping the fragile things of life is certainly the way of wisdom but so is getting rid of those fallen things which now lay at our feet. Being truly free is ridding ourselves of those trinkets which, if allowed, will still grasp hold of our lives and souls. To be pure, clean, unburdened by the world’s worthless toys, takes an act of release and purification.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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unleashed

Creating-and-animating-a-dandelion-in-Autodesk-Maya-and-ZBrush

dandelion, sitting on a hill

rooted, grounded, in place, until

a mighty force arose and lifted

carried your essence far from home

floating in all directions at once

never letting you settle

dropping and raising

bouncing between stillness and gales

yet in the chaos, swirling turmoil

your beauty decorated the wind

the gift of recognized breezes

making that which could not be seen

now traced over meadows, fields, hills and valley

where you take root again is unknown

until then your untamed spirit

alights upon my shoulder for a glimpse

of what it means to be unleashed

bdl 6/4/2016

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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When We’re Stuck

Awesome video!  I watched in awe as the operator gently picked up the stuck deer with the giant scooper and placed it where it could move again.

As it played I thought about times in my life when I was stuck. Seasons when I couldn’t move, find my way, get loose of the muck and mire which held me, trapped me, threatened my life. I also reflected on those who came to my rescue. Folks with great skill, compassion, love and commitment who helped me when I couldn’t help myself.

Life’s path leads us to strange and uncomfortable places. There will be experiences and events which pull us in, hold us fast, wear us out and leave us stuck. Struggling, fighting to free ourselves may only leave us immobile and unable to journey forward. Having mentors, counselors, advisers, people who love and care enough to not leave us stranded can be one of our greatest treasures.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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for Granted

He hovered about as the other men left the classroom. I didn’t know what to expect, I never do when it comes to the incarcerated dads I am privileged to work with but who also keep me on my toes. He was tall, skinny, long grayish brown hair, missing most of his teeth and spoke softly. It was the first class of the spring semester and after everyone had left he came forward. He is soft-spoken with lines and wrinkles of a life filled with heartache and wrong decisions engraved on his face. I leaned forward as he struggled to tell me his secret; he couldn’t read. My heart sank.
Reading is such a vital part of our program and everyday life. There are homework assignments and times during class we read to ourselves and together. Not being able to read certainly presented another challenge for a man who has faced, and lost, his share of them including a drug addiction. I asked if there was another resident in the jail he could ask to help him and he shook his head; “No.” I breathed in silently and thought about the courage it must’ve taken to admit his weakness. “Then we’ll meet after each class and go over the lesson. Let’s start today.” We made our way over to a couple of chairs, sat down and began to review.

After we were done, driving away from the jail, I reflected on the different ways we can be imprisoned. It’s not just about concrete walls, bars, thick glass and heavy metal doors. Prisons can be addictions, basic education skills we’ve somehow missed, mental illnesses, bad attitudes, negative environments. Too often we take for granted so many blessings. The gifts we’ve received, the talents we’ve been given, the good, are not for hoarding but for sharing, multiplying and helping others find freedom.

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

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abigail

chain

pulling on that chain
not wanting to listen
chasing after boys

mama's in the front yard
begging for attention 
you're running in circles

sights and sounds
the road of life beckons
stifling your lover's plea

resenting the restraining
tugging at those fetters
one day you're gonna break free

the road can be dangerous
for one so easily injured
but shoulders aren't strong enough to hold 

impulses won't be shackled
you keep pulling on that chain
running in circles

---
bdl
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