Blog Archives

Thorny Situation

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Thorny Situation

Today working in a friend’s yard I came across several thick, thorny, vines. They were growing up from the ground and had worked their ways into several trees wrapping themselves around numerous limbs. I found the source where they started and sawed it as close to the ground as possible. Then, with a pair of thick gloves, I grabbed and pulled. I was able to get almost ten feet of the vine dragged down before the vines drew a bunch of limbs together and wouldn’t go any further. I asked another friend who was helping to grab a saw and cut the vines as high as he could. He did and the remaining vines popped back up into the trees. Eventually, since they have no connection to the ground, they will rot and die. At the source, a vigilant eye will be needed to make sure it doesn’t start growing again.

Wisdom teaches us there are thorny issues in our lives. They intertwine themselves into many parts of our lives and begin to choke us. They’re sharp and we’re sensitive to the impact they have on us and others. To rid ourselves of them we have to find the source and cut it out of our lives. We also need to be untangled from the hold they have on us. Thorny issues are not easy to get rid of. It will take perseverance and patience until they are fully gone and a vigilant eye to make sure they don’t return.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)

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

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Color Blind?

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Color Blind?

This morning our staff attended a lecture on the Understanding Your Implicit Bias. The takeaway is that we all have biases, ways of looking at the world, groups of people, each other. These biases come from our parents, other role models we had as kids, extended families, the neighborhoods we grew up in, friends we hung around, and countless other influences. It wasn’t a lecture on “if” but “why” we developed biases and how they impact your interactions with people you encounter each day, what you think when you hear certain words, see certain images, and how deep these biases are rooted within us.

One of the more interesting topics the lecturer spoke about was the idea of being “color blind.” In other words not seeing a person’s skin color but their character. On the surface, this seems like a great way to connect with each other. The challenge with this way of thinking, according to the speaker, was that you strip a person of part of their identity. As a Christian, white, middle class, middle-aged, southern, heterosexual, male, each of these traits are part me. Along with the unique experiences of my life they make me who I am.

I found this a wonderful and a too often overlooked idea. Sometimes, in order to make everyone “equal”, we take away parts of their identity or neutralize them. When we do this we are doing a disservice to them and ourselves. People, fully known, recognized and loved, connects us in a balanced way that honors the breadth of humanity and the amazing uniqueness present in all of us.

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

Playing the Cards You’re Dealt

Playing the Cards You’re Dealt

This video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvECZ_ZXGqs) was amazing. Watching this young woman be given four random notes on index cards and from those notes play an extraordinary piece of improvised musing was marvelous. It makes me wonder about the mystery of the human brain and soul, and its capability for good and bad, right and wrong, positive and negative impact on this world.

While watching I also reflected on the phrase; “playing the cards you’re dealt.” The saying comes from the card game of poker but is applicable to all of life. Life is the dealer and the “cards we’re dealt” or what, where, who, we’re born to and in goes a long way in determining about what our life becomes. How we play those cards, choose to live our life is the way we play our hand. Some that seem to born with all the advantages either use or lose their blessings. While others come into the world with the cards stacked against them turn their lives into miracles.

It’s not the hand you’re dealt but how you play the hand that counts.

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

Double Back

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Double Back

Last night, after dinner, Beth wanted a popsicle. I was getting up anyway and told her I’d get her one. I opened the top freezer door on the refrigerator and grabbed two by mistake. One fell to the floor and using the three-second rule I quickly stooped down and picked it up. Unbeknownst to me, the freezer door was swinging back and when I was two-thirds up I whacked the top back of my head on the corner of the freezer door. “OUCH!” It hurt so much I crumpled to the floor rubbing the wounded area. Beth heard me, came and looked at it and thought there would be bruising and soreness. She was right. It never occurred to me until it “hit me” that the door was doubling back. My mind was elsewhere and the freezer door brought me back to reality.

I was listening to someone describe addiction this week and they said; “It gets inside of you. You think you have a handle on it and then you begin to crave it. It comes back again and again and again.” I thought about other things which come around over and over. Grieving the loss of a loved one who has passed on, anger at being taken advantage of, bitterness at being betrayed, the pain of past memories and experiences that hurt us emotionally and physically, drug, alcohol and other addictions, friends who have negative influences on us, wounds which seem to never heal. All of these can cause us to crumple to the floor when they double back into our lives.

There is a needed balance of awareness and acceptance. Awareness is needed because perhaps we can see it coming and side-step the toll it would take on our minds and spirits. Acceptance is important because we are human, are not all-powerful, and difficult and challenging experiences are part of what makes us unique.

It is in this balance we may find wisdom and peace.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Empathy

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Empathy

My wife is a wonderful woman, and brave. Brave because she went to Wal-Mart on Saturday afternoon! There are many reasons she’s wonderful but her concern and empathy for people and other things overwhelms me sometimes. Today, on her way to what we infamously call; “Wally World” a chipmunk jumped on the road and tried to run across when Beth was at the same spot with her car. “Thump, thump,” was all she heard but it was enough. She called me a few minutes after leaving the house and I knew something had happened. “Hello?” I answered. “Hey. I ran over a chipmunk,” she replied on the verge of tears. “It came out of nowhere and I tried to stop but couldn’t and that’s when I heard the ‘Thump!‘” I listened to her and told her I was sorry. “I know you would never do that if you could avoid it.” She knew this also and after a while she was okay. I asked her to be safe and remember that I love her. We hung up and the rest of the day has been without incident but the confession over her accidentally taking the life of a rodent is one of the many reasons my life is better because she’s in it.

While she was gone, after the phone call, I reflected on her having a heart big enough that a chipmunk she didn’t know existed a moment before the incident could have an impact on her. I wondered what our families, communities, nation, and the world would be like if each of us had the respect, concern, and empathy for all things, especially each other. I think we’d all live and be in a happier, safer, place.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Hangover

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Hangover

Today I am feeling the impact of three intensive days of training. My body hurts and my mind hurts. My eyes are tired from staring at a screen for too long. I have both a migraine and fuzzy brain. It’s hard to process new information today because of receiving so much from earlier in the week.  The data and detail are still bouncing around in my noggin and hasn’t found a place to settle. New thoughts and ideas are like puffs of smoke that never quite become solid enough to grasp. A couple of days of quiet and rest should do the trick but until then giving it my all will be less than.

Growing in our learning, understanding, and wisdom takes a toll. Its tough work which may be why we are hesitant to do it at times. Immersing ourselves in new thoughts, ideas, studies, to become more capable in our personal, relational, connections and jobs takes commitment and courage. Commitment because growth is effort and energy. Courage because when we dare to learn, understand gain wisdom, we change and we’re never sure who will be on the other side.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

What We Leave Behind

What We Leave Behind

YouTube can be infuriating with the number of commercials and advertisements it has between videos. Every now and then though there will be one that gets its hooks into your brain. This song played several times today while I was mowing the grass and when I finished I came in and looked it up (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0czMhagZgwY). It’s a simple video of a man going to the beach and jumping off a high cliff into the ocean below. He then crosses it off a list of things he wants to do.

There is a note at the beginning of the song. It’s hard to read but it says:

Dear Friends, My name is Fred Rister. For those who don’t know me, I have had cancer 9 times in 30 years. The one I am fighting this time around will be the last since I know for sure; my days are numbered. I have decided to release a song called, “I Want a Miracle” in which all proceeds will go to the Kidney Cancer Association, with whom my physician, Dr. Escudier, from the Gustave Roussy Institute is affiliated. This project is very important to me because it is a bit of hope for all those fighting cancer. Whether you donate directly or download/stream the song your support is immensely appreciated.
This is: “I Want a Miracle” “Music is therapy” #FredRister

The note made me pause and feel his pain, heartache, kindness and giving spirit. He’s dying of cancer. It is the ninth time he’s faced this dreaded disease in thirty years. He knows his days are numbered and instead of blaming, sulking, being too frightened to do anything he wrote a song to be shared and a hope to be kindled.

In this world where everything seems terrible someone using their last days to touch and help others is a wanted and needed gesture that we all could follow. Whether we know it or not our days are limited. What we do with every moment can have an impact on those who follow. Our lives should be spent making each moment count instead of counting down our moments until the end.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannebsaint.com

Would You like to Dance?

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Would You like to Dance?

At a party at a friend’s house, one woman sat alone on the couch, her crutches beside her, watching the others dance. From across the room a man made his way to her, sat down, introduced himself and they made small talk. After a while, he asked; “Would you like to dance?” She pointed to her crutches and sighed; “Most people are worried my crutches will get in the way of their dancing.” He smiled and replied; “How about if I let you lead and I’ll move with you?

This story was told to me a few weeks ago. I have been reflecting on it since I heard it. Most people are injured in some way; physically, emotionally or spiritually. We have crutches, not in a negative way, but in the sense that we need help to heal. However, too often, because of our hurts, habits, and hang-ups or the aids we use to walk this road of life we’re seen as a hindrance. People focus on how another’s imperfections will impact their lives.

What we need is someone who will let us lead or, if we’re the one helping, let the other lead us. We relinquish our desire to control, force someone to do it “our way” and by letting go we will find synergy and companionship.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Storms Pass By

Storms Pass By

I stood on my porch a few moments ago watching the skies turn gray and the wind blow. I had received a weather warning earlier that thunderstorms were headed our way. I was excited because we need the rain. It was a wet late winter and early spring but it has been dry lately. However, the wind picked up and the skies became darker but no rain. Now it is sunny outside. More waiting and hand watering our plants and trees this evening.

Interesting how life works. There are actually storms we hope for and need and those from which we seek respite. I read an article this afternoon about “Introversion Hangovers.” These occur when an introvert becomes overstimulated by too much time around extroverts, events, experiences. Afterward, they require a time of recuperation. Introverts need a quiet, space and the opportunity to rest. For me, this subdue weekend has been that after a busy past couple of weeks. I am thankful the rhythm of life can, hopefully, get back to normal.

Storms come and go, impact us or miss us all together. Wherever we find ourselves may we also find peace.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannebsaint.com

Truth

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Truth

Last night I watched the “The Post” starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. The film is described as; “thrilling, based on a true story. Determined to uphold the nation’s civil liberties, Katharine Graham (Streep), publisher of The Washington Post, and hard-nosed editor Ben Bradlee (Hanks) join forces to expose a decades-long cover-up. But the two must risk their careers –– and their freedom –– to bring truth to light in this powerful film (https://www.foxmovies.com/movies/the-post).” It was an interesting movie dealing with an historic and chaotic time in this nation that I am too young to remember. I did find myself cheering Streep’s and Hank’s characters on as they took a case of the freedom of the press all the way to the Supreme Court. I won’t spoil the ending but it was a good watch and worth anyone’s time who is interested in an event that would directly impact how the press covered the Watergate break-in  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watergate_scandal) and news moving forward to the present.

What I’ve wrestled with since watching the movie is; “News exists in a vacuüm. The lives of the reporters, editors, and publishers are swayed by their political leanings, experiences, preferences, and worldviews.” We as the readers face the same limitation in our consumption of news. There are so many places to receive our news today that we can stay perpetually stuck in a bubble where only our viewpoints are legitimized. When this happens we cease being open to new ideas or our current ones being scrutinized and challenged. We become entombed, trapped by our own beliefs and limited knowledge. The truth isn’t important anymore only our belief of what is true.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Soul Alive

Soul Alive

Outside, under our two sheds and front porch are families of rabbits. I see them when I let out the dog, who’s too old to chase them anymore, when I drive the truck into the driveway, when I sit still long enough and wait for them to emerge from their hiding holes. It excites me. Wildlife has always had this impact on me. I slow down to look at deer on the sides of the highway or in far-off fields. Stare at Falcons and Hawks perched on fence posts or electric poles. Turkeys, skunks, opossum, armadillos, foxes, even cows grab my attention.

I grew up in the suburbs but my parents took us to National Parks as often as the could. We loved camping, canoeing, hiking, exploring. We saw lots of wildlife and even had a few run-ins with Black Bears. I believe this is where my love of nature was born and raised along with the important lessons of treating it gently, basking in its beauty and always leaving a place better than you found it.

Nature, along with other gifts we take for granted each day, bring life to my soul. I can’t imagine not being excited, filled with joy, while experiencing it.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

 

Mind Made Up

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Mind Made Up

Today is April 5th. I mowed my grass today because springtime makes things grow. Usually, I mow grass on Friday or Saturday. The reason I mowed today is that rain is in the forecast tomorrow and it might snow on Saturday. Snow. Did I mention we’re in the month of April?

The weather cannot make up its mind. My mind has been made up. I’m ready for spring, all of it. Not a little, not touch and go, not warm one day and cold the next, sunny and then snow. The problem is my mind made up doesn’t impact the weather or the seasons. I don’t have that kind of power. I can be frustrated that I mowed grass in jacket and toboggan today. I can be wary of cool breezes and cold noses. However, my wariness doesn’t change things either. Sigh.

So, I accept what I cannot change, understand the finiteness of humankind and remember that gaining wisdom begins with humility.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Scattered

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Scattered

Last night I stuck a bag of trash on the porch. Living in the country and not placing garbage in a receptacle is like playing Russian Roulette. Sometimes a varmint gets into it and other times they just pass it by. Unfortunately, last night something got into the trash and scattered it all over the driveway. It was the first thing I saw when letting the dog out this morning. I went inside, grabbed a new bag and began recollecting the trash. There’s nothing quite like picking up frost-covered garbage at dawn.

As I was gathering it and stuffing it into the bag I began to recall a Jewish wisdom tale;

A woman repeated a story (gossip) about a neighbor. Within a few days, everyone in the community knew the story. The person she talked about heard what had been said about her and she was very sad. Later, the woman who had spread the story learned that it was not true. She was very sorry and went to a wise rabbi and asked what she could do to repair the damage. After giving this some thought, the rabbi said to her, “Go home, get one of your feather pillows, and bring it back to me.” Surprised by the rabbi’s response, the woman followed his advice and went home to get a feather pillow and brought it to the rabbi. “Now,” said the rabbi, “open the pillow and pull out all the feathers.” Confused, the woman did what she was told to do. After a few minutes, the rabbi said, “Now, I want you to find every one of the feathers and put them back into the pillow.” “That’s impossible,” said the woman, almost in tears. “The window is open and the wind has scattered them all over the room and blown many feathers outside. I can’t possibly find them all.” “Yes,” said the rabbi. “And that is what happens when you gossip or tell a story about someone else. Once you talk about someone, the words fly from one person’s mouth to another, just like these feathers flew in the wind. Once you say them, you can never take them back.”

It was a great reminder that not only every word but every action has consequences that we cannot foresee. Our lives should be lived mindfully aware that our scattered thoughts, words, and actions will impact the world for evil or for good.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Driverless

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Driverless

Driverless automobile technology doesn’t seem like something that might happen but is happening and will impact all of us soon. I was listening to NPR this week and the person being interviewed said that everyone will have a driverless automobile by the year 2050. I’m not sure what the 70+-year-old will think but the 45+-year-old is skeptical. Maybe it’s the loss of control, maybe it’s watching too many sci-fi movies but driverless cars, trucks, semis zipping down the road all dependent on a group of engineers and designers seems too futuristic but it’s where we are going.

In my lifetime I’ve gone from record players to compact disc players to mp3 players which could hold 100 songs to my phone being able to play any tune I can think of at the press of an icon under a piece of glass. 30 years ago that would’ve been unthinkable so driverless cars are coming whether I am ready or not.

Life and its continuous change are shocking. Places we are now on the journey probably aren’t where we thought we’d be. Plans we thought were “set in stone” have been shattered and adjusting, accepting and letting go require more strength than we think we possess. There are days when we feel like we are steering our lives and other seasons when life keeps taking the wheel and driving to unknown and sometimes unwanted destinations.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Stolen

Stolen

Earlier this week someone took something that didn’t belong to them. I knew who it was but had to figure out how to ask for the item back without humiliating or embarrassing the person in front of his peers. At first, I asked the group if anyone had forgotten to return all items they had used. Nothing. So then, standing next to the man who had the item, I said; “Okay, who has (insert item name)?” The man started to laugh and gave it to me while the other people in the group laughed with him. “I almost got away with it,” he said with a chuckle in his voice. I breathed a sigh of relief because I knew I couldn’t let him walk away and a confrontation could have a detrimental impact on the progress we’ve made. Obviously, he’s still a work in progress but aren’t we all?

Good choices. It’s the cornerstone of all the services our organization does with males. Without good choices, life is harder than it needs to be and can exact a tremendous and painful toll. Old habits, ways of thinking, choosing the best isn’t easy but not impossible. Grace, kindness and an opportunity for forgiveness are things we all need.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

What Did You Hear?

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What Did You Hear?

Listening is an art form. It has to do with more than hearing words. It also hears silences, tones and the organizations of words into sentences and questions. Listening is wanting to hear what the other is saying and being willing for those words to impact, challenge, and change the listener. Listening is not, however, always agreeing with the other. You can listen and believe differently than what the other is saying but you listen out of respect.

A friend of mine a few weeks ago was telling me about a conversation he had with a dear friend and said; “It didn’t go the way I planned!” His friend became upset with the conversation. I asked my friend; “Did you ask your friend what she had heard you say?” “No,’ he replied, ‘Why?” “Because,’ I said, “She might have heard something completely different from what you were saying.”

It’s amazing but communicating with others is a combination of listening, speaking, processing, projecting, interpreting and understanding. When one of these is missing the connection with the other can be lost, disrupted and the moment can never be repeated.

Listening is a sacred act, do it well.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Teaching Peace

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Teaching Peace

Earlier this week I was talking with a man who has a confessed anger problem. He’s also been hurt by some people he trusted. The pain and rage of this betrayal occupy his thoughts and revenge is his stated goal. As we spoke with each other I explained to him that violence is not going to fix things. It will only make it worse for the man and his family. “Good mental health, the ability to process our emotions in a healthy, positive way will have a lasting impact on your family. Not choosing wisely will hurt you and those you love. I know the feelings are there and they’re eating you up inside but taking a path which doesn’t lead to peace punishes everyone.

Peace is a hard concept and discipline to put into practice. We live in a world which claims the right to revenge and paying people back for the harm they’ve caused us. However, if we stubbornly stay on the path to; “right the wrongs” done to us we will not find contentment but an endless cycle of violence and retribution.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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

Learning and Letting Go

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Learning and Letting Go

Today was a training day for learning what is and how to do Motivational Interviewing. It sounds like a discipline someone would learn who is a professional job seeker! However, it is a counseling, teaching, technique that helps people overcome their biases and objections and allowing them to live a better life. I have done a quite a bit of training in Motivational Interviewing but the leader today was a Certified Motivational Interviewing Trainer so she had more information than online learning could give.

The two biggest keys to Motivational Interviewing are listening to learn the client’s story and needs and letting go of the idea we are responsible for the client’s success in counseling and/or learning. Our work is helping the client get to the place where they can choose for themselves their own path. By listening to understand who the client is and their willingness to get healthy in mind, body, and spirit, we can help them find the inner strength to make the changes that will impact them and their families.

I liked the training and the approach through my anxiety makes it difficult for me to sit for long periods as was the case today. It was a great reminder that we can’t fix people. It is not within our power to do so. What we can do is come alongside and help them discover their path and the willingness to walk it.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Little Things

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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

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

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