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Follow My Lead

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Follow My Lead

Someone asked me a surprising question yesterday; “How do I get from where I am to where you are?” The question took me off guard because I’m usually asking myself the same question of someone who has something I’m lacking. After a moment I answered; “Find someone who has what you want and follow their lead. Get to know them. Build a relationship with the person.” This is how we grow. We recognize that we do some things well but could do other things better. With awareness, we begin to look for the traits, disciplines, the wisdom we feel we are missing and find one who possesses these qualities. If they are amenable we connect, listen, and allow ourselves to be influenced by their mind, emotional maturity, actions and spiritual depth. They won’t be perfect. Up close we will see they have flaws but this doesn’t stop us from soaking in the lessons they can teach us. If they are people we hope to gain from they will be aware of their own strengths and weaknesses and are following someone else’s lead. Humility is key.

Too often our world shames and embarrasses those who admit their shortcomings. However, knowing where we need improvement is the first step to becoming a better person which makes a better world.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Exactly As It Is

Exactly As It Is

A few moments ago I sat outside on the edge of the porch and watched my Siberian Husky sniffing the ground. We have three families of rabbits, including little ones, and he has been stopping and smelling the area where they have been. The sun is out today. Its been hidden most of the week. There’s a nice breeze, blue skies with thick white clouds, the grass is an emerald-green. An almost perfect day. As I sat there I felt a splash of water on my leg. I looked to see where it came from and noticed a puddle and drops of water falling off the roof. For an instant, the moment was perfect until I noticed it. I sighed, not because of the splash but because my focus became what bugged me, not on everything else.

Wisdom teaches us to accept each moment exactly as it is; what we judge good and not so good, positive and negative, perfect and less than. The truth is; my moment on the porch was perfect with the drops of water, the splash, and the puddle. It was perfect because it’s what it was and my idea of perfection was what got in my way.

Life is a series of imperfect moments because we decide they would be better; “if…” Acceptance is one of the hardest yet most crucial lessons we must learn if we’re ever to know awareness and contentment.

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

 

What Do You Smell?

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What Do You Smell? –

Yesterday morning I ironed a shirt for Beth to wear to work. This particular shirt was given to my wife by a friend who passed away several years ago. However, even after all this time, the shirt still smelled like our friend. The fragrance immediately brought back nice memories of her kindness, joy, love and grace-filled life. It’s amazing what smells can trigger. I have another friend who had a rough childhood and the smell of certain foods triggers terrible memories. Scientists say smell is one of the major components of remembering the past.

I’ve thought about the shirt Beth wore yesterday and I ask myself; “What would someone think of if a smell triggered a memory?  What smells would remind others of me?” One of the central lessons of wisdom is that everything we do leaves an imprint upon another. Good or bad, negative or positive, our lives leave a fragrance to those around us.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Right or Wrong?

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Right or Wrong

This morning I watched a political debate that quickly turned into a shouting, insulting, “I’m right and you’re wrong” diatribe from both parties. It’s disheartening to look at our present cultural landscape and realize not many people know how to talk to each other about things upon which they disagree.

One of the lessons I teach residents in my jail class is how to respect each other even if we disagree. We talk about eye contact (which may be while social media is the worst place to have a meaningful conversation), asking questions politely, consider your body language, what to do with your hands, monitor facial expressions, remember that listening is not agreeing and two people can be right or wrong about one subject. It amazes me that my jail students are often nicer, more respectful when discussing a difficult topic than many people on Facebook.

Hopefully, it won’t be this way forever. Debate and deep conversation are some of the values and pillars of a democratic society. I fear, however, perhaps we’ve gone too far and may never recover our civility.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Nothing is Lacking

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Nothing is Lacking

I was a part of a conversation this week where a group of people was giving a person advice. The advice was based on what the person had shared; a story of love and betrayal. On the wrong side of a bad choice is a terrible place to be and the person was fixated on how to either get over on the person who hurt him or get over it period. Two choices were staring him the face and he was going to choose either one or the other.

Decisions based on pain are almost always bad ones. We make these in times of stress, confusion, doubt, and loneliness. We feel as though we have lost something, had it taken away from us, and we want it back or rather life back the way it was or the way it should be.

Wisdom teaches us that suffering is the gap between how life is, reality, and how we think life ought to be. The greater the gap the more suffering. It is why learning to let go and acceptance are two of the greatest life lessons we can learn and practice. Life is rarely if ever, the way we want. Even if for a while it seems to be sooner or later it changes and we have no control over this truth. To live with open hand, to not try to grasp, force life to stay the same and allow for the inevitable change is to know and live in peace.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

 

On Demand

On Demand

This afternoon I had a follow-up appointment at the doctor’s office. They needed to do a routine check-up and wanted a deposit. I had figured as much so I made sure not to leave my deposit at home before I left. I went to the restroom, readied the bottle and…nothing. No matter how much I concentrated there just wasn’t anything that was going to happen. After several minutes I meekly came out of the lavatory and explained the situation to the nurse. She then sent me to the staff vampire who had no such trouble sticking me with a big needle and taking my second deposit by force. I now have a cotton ball and medical tape covering a hole in my arm.

We live in an; “On Demand” world. We get and expect things instantaneously. The problem is sometimes life doesn’t work that way. We may demand expediency but delay and obstruction is what we’re given. If we decide to take what we need to wait on by force pain is often the what we receive instead of what we desire.

It does us good to wait, to not get what we want, to be told; “No!” It reminds us we aren’t all-powerful, possess full control, aren’t as able as we’d like to believe. Wisdom, and the lessons it uses in everyday life remind us who we are, who we aren’t and how to be at peace with both.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

No Hurry

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No Hurry

I’m not sure what caught my eye first; the quote in the picture above or the picture. It is green, sunny and beautiful, unlike today when it is mostly cloudy, windy and frigid!

The weather forecast is for more cold this weekend which makes sense because it is winter.  I don’t care for this season. The nights are long, the days are short, the extra layers of clothes make me feel claustrophobic. I know from wisdom teachers we are not to hurry through any moment or experience no matter how miserable because there are lessons to be learned and life to be lived. So, I take a breath and try to be still in a place and time I’d rather not be.

Life demands that we hurry. In the Christmas season just passed we rush to get our shopping done so we can “enjoy” the holidays and by the time we finish our “to do,” list Christmas is over. Then we quickly move into the new year with all its demands and before we know it, its spring, then summer, fall and winter quickly follow and we start all over again. Hurrying seems to be what we do best until we remember that all of these days which are flying by are our lives fading.

2018 is here. May we not hurry, take our time, experience each day and the ups and downs they bring. May we cherish each moment because moments are what make up our lives.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

The Heart’s Way

The Heart’s Way

The sky has been cloudy today. It has been mostly dreary and cool. It’s one of those days you stay inside and try to keep warm. This weekend has felt like fall. Not the fall with the beautiful leaves, cool nights and warmer days but the type of fall days which tell you winter won’t be long coming.

I’ve been tired today. It’s been a long 10 days and its caught up with me. I don’t mind “lazy” days. They are good for the mind, body, and spirit. However, there are things which need to get done that didn’t. I know there will still be enough sunny warmer days to finish winterizing the house and yard but letting go of “wasted” day thoughts is still tough.

Looking inside, into my soul, where the stillness exists I am reminded that there must be days we rest. I am thankful for the wisdom teachings of the importance of the mind but even more so the lessons of the heart. Going deep, when the surface is confused or condemning, helps me discover the path is not forged by a quickened pace but by a contented heart.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Purpose

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Purpose

Today, I had a meeting at a discreet location in a women’s shelter. There was no sign and the house was off the road down a long driveway. Blink and you would miss the driveway and the house couldn’t be seen from the road. The meeting was one of our county’s Community Action Board which is made up of several organizations who partner together to reach as many families in need and/or in crisis as possible.

The leader of the house was a nice woman who talked softly but her love for the women in the house was obvious. The women who are enrolled there are from all backgrounds, religions, and nationalities. Some have experienced abuse at the hands of others and some abused themselves. Under the roof of this home, however, all were welcomed, loved and given the skills to start life anew with a sense of belonging and purpose.

Written on a huge dry erase board were the rules of the house, encouragement and motivational sayings, practical applications of the lessons being taught to those who stayed in the home. On one board, almost in the middle was the name of the leader and one of the tenants wrote; “She rocks!” I thought this was awesome. Here is a woman who has given her life to helping those in need. It did not go unappreciated.

I hope each of us can find a place where we can offer love, kindness, time, patience and give worth to those whom life has overlooked or discarded.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Broken

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Broken

We have a beautiful Banana tree in front of our house. It is ten feet tall with as many leaves and several smaller Banana trees growing around it. Unfortunately last night a sudden thunderstorm with strong winds knocked it over and snapped the trunk of the tallest tree. We are going to have to cut almost 5 feet of the tree off and hope it will survive. Beth and I both are disappointed at the mishap. We’ve spent years feeding, watering and taking care of the Banana tree.

It was a painful reminder of the transience of life. There is nothing permanent, nothing which can withstand the storms of life forever. Everything and everyone has a breaking point. One of the most difficult wisdom lessons we can learn is holding things and people loosely. This seems like an easy concept to grasp. We are surrounded by constant reminders of how quickly life changes. What once was is not anymore. Years pass by in the blink of an eye. Adjusting to a new “normal” is an almost everyday occurrence.

“Nothing in the world is permanent, and we’re foolish when we ask anything to last, but surely we’re still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it.”
-W. Somerset Maugham

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Carry

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Carry

One of the hardest things we do on the path of wisdom is to discover we are not all-powerful, all-knowing, all-wise. From the time we are born, we are learning. It might be good, positive lessons, not so good, or, most likely, a mixture of both. As we get older we hopefully begin to separate the good from the not so good. We learn that there are lessons we need to relearn and others we simply need to forget.

One of the most important lessons is we are not meant to carry the mountains we climb. Each of us deals with challenges, struggles, and difficulties. Some navigate incredibly tough paths because of what they endured as children, adolescents, and adults. The climb to the top of the mountain, to overcome these negatives is a great success. However, once the top is reached the question is asked; “What now?” When all you’ve known is pain and heartache it becomes a part of you. Reaching the mountain top doesn’t bring the joy and relief expected.

Unfortunately, some, instead of descending the mountain and continuing on with the journey now free of great burden pick up the mountain and carry it with them. The mountain has become a part of them and to separate from it is like breaking off a piece of themselves and leaving it behind.

Wisdom teaches us how to climb, how to descend and how to let go. It may still feel we are leaving part of ourselves behind but we trust our journey will take us to a place, a discovery of our new selves.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Best Teachers

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Best Teachers

This morning, while getting ready for work, my mind drifted to a place from several years ago. It was a place I worked at for little over a year and yet it seemed much longer. I thought about the people I knew there, the one who brought blessings into my life and the ones that brought difficulty.

It’s hard to know who your life teachers are especially when going through a painful experience. It’s hard to learn the lessons when you are looking to escape.

There are days when looking back over our lives we wonder if there were teachers in our midst, people we would’ve learned from if we had eyes to see. These instructors-in-disguise might be the ones we struggle with the most but still have valuable lessons to teach us. What is being taught might also be what we don’t want to learn but needed.

Wisdom tells us that people, nature, circumstances are some of our best teachers. All we need is a willing, humble spirit.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Smell of Success 


Smell of Success

My truck smells good! It’s Certificate Ceremony Celebration night for one of my Incarcerated Fathers classes. For 10 weeks they’ve listened to me, took notes, completed homework and now the smell of success will go from my truck to the classroom. They’ll also receive a completion certificate, a letter of recommendation, but pizza will be their most beloved prize tonight.

Its amazing how quickly you can get to know and like someone. These guys are serving sentences for everything from drug running to stealing to assault. Some of them have been beaten down by a system that’s can be more punitive than educational. However, the sheriff in this county believes in redemption, that no one is beyond saving. We’re all human and nothing really separates us except the walls we erect.

So, off I go. A glamorous pizza delivery guy. I hope, when all is said and done, they will have received much more from me than a few slices of pie.

Blessings,
Brian Loging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Late and Right on Time

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Late and Right on Time

About a year ago I bought some anti-freeze windshield wiper fluid and a blue ice scraper that were on sale. I stuck the fluid in our shed and the ice scraper in the back seat of the cab of my truck and forgot about them.

This morning before getting my shower I went outside to start the truck and let it warm up while I finished getting ready. While getting in I noticed the windshield had a thick covering of ice on it. I tried the wipers, no luck, and the nozzles with the antifreeze were frozen. I started the truck and hoped it would melt. It didn’t. When I came back outside to leave for work the windshield was still as frozen as before. I grabbed a plastic gift card and tried scraping. No luck. Then I remembered the fluid in the shed. I carefully scaled the steps to the shed which were covered in ice retrieved the container and went back to the truck. I poked a hole in the aluminum covering under the cap and began to pour the fluid on the windshield. It seemed to be working but I needed something durable and thick. “AHA!” Then I remembered the scraper which has laid on the floor board unused and mostly unthought of for the last 12 months. I grabbed it and began to scrape where I had poured the fluid and soon I had removed enough ice to leave for work and as the truck warmed up even more the window defroster took care of the remaining ice.

I hadn’t thought of the fluid or the scraper in a long while but am very thankful I remembered them both. On my way to work I reflected on the difficulties and challenges each of us face in our lifetimes. There are those times of struggle when we wonder; “Why? What’s the reason? For what purpose are we going through this?” We can’t see the point and only later, further down the road of life does the answer come. It is then we realize a lesson learned might not prove useful today but invaluable tomorrow.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Muddy Words

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Muddy Words

I had an interesting conversation with a gentleman this week who had a unique combination of over-confidence, a persecution complex, an incredibly loud voice and a gift(?) for being able to talk for long periods without taking a breath.

It was hard to follow everything he was saying. There were times when I tried interrupting, even holding up my hand to try to get him to pause long enough for me to say anything! No luck, so I took a breath. Wisdom tells me when water is muddy only being still will allow you to see clearly.

So, I listened, without obstructing his word flow and waited. Finally, he was finished and I knew what he was trying to tell me. I didn’t agree but listening and agreeing aren’t the same thing. When I was able to speak with him I did so slowly, purposefully, not with the idea of changing him, but letting him know he had been heard. Doing this made all the difference in the rest of our time together.

It was another reminder we are never the master, always the student when it comes to the lessons wisdom tries teaching us.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Swing and Miss

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Swing and Miss

Finger meet hammer, hammer; finger.”

Earlier today I was trying to wedge a piece of wood into a tight spot without damaging it. I grabbed another block of wood to use as a buffer from the hammer while getting the wood in place. It was slow work but working when I became distracted, the block of wood slipped, or simply poorly aimed and I whacked my thumb with the hammer. “OUCH!” I immediately dropped both the hammer, the block of wood, stepped away and took several deep breaths and tried to shake the pain away. Several hours later the finger still hurts and I’m still not sure how I managed to try to pound my digit instead of the wood.

Wisdom teaches us there are painful lessons in life. We can reflect back upon some and realize the mistakes which were made, things we could have handled differently, while other events seem to happen for no rhyme or reason. Part of living a mindful lifestyle is knowing there isn’t a lesson in every accident, difficulty or problem. The pain is real, the healing takes time and we move on wiser for knowing nothing more than sometimes things just happen.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.comimg_0511

 

Grow Again

Grow Again

A few weeks ago when I mowed our lawn it seemed mostly running the blades over dirt. However, the last week and a half has brought several days of much-needed rain and the grass is growing again. In less than a week since the last mow the yard needs cutting again! I am certainly not complaining. I would rather mow more often than look at brown grass and stunted plants. I don’t know if the rain will continue to fall but I am enjoying every drop that settles on the parched land.

It’s interesting how new patterns in life can emerge. For most of the summer the rain would fall around us, just a few miles away but not often at our place. Now we are enjoying being on the receiving end.

The rain is a wonderful reminder that life seems unfair when others are being “blessed” while we are merely witnesses. Though we try to be thankful for others’ gifts and favors we can’t help but wonder; “Why not us?” The answer is often elusive but patience and acceptance are the lessons learned and for these we should be thankful.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Get Moving

Get Moving – 

“When they rise for the Work of God  let them gently encourage one another,  that the drowsy may have no excuse.” #RuleofSaintBenedict

The excerpt above was from my morning reading of the Rule of Saint Benedict today. It made me think of Beth. My beautiful wife can be described in many wonderful ways but being a; “morning person” isn’t one of them. When the alarm sounds, threatening to awake her from rest she’s not getting up without a fight. Finally, after several snoozes, she sits up, head down, exasperated sighs filling the air, one foot and then another are placed upon the floor. She shuffles to her closet, then to the kitchen and then to get a shower. Everything about her says; “I’d give almost anything for another hour of sleep!” There are a few approaches I have to help her get through these dreaded times. Some days I can engage her in a conversation, others I can be playful but mostly I’m quiet allowing her to locate the rhythm of her day. After 26 years of marriage I almost always pick the right approach to get her moving but there are some days when I choose poorly and quickly back off when it’s clear I’m pushing the wrong buttons.

Wisdom teaches us that folks have different speeds on the path of life. Each of us finds our own rhythm and we must be careful to allow others to move at their own pace. Our gift to others is not making them go as fast or slow as we want but to offer the gift of grace and love when our lives intersect for a moment or a lifetime.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Into Practice

Into Practice –

It happened all of a sudden. Out of nowhere a back spasm that almost brought me to my knees.

Beth and I were outside and she wanted to lay a few brick squares next to the porch to place a few plants on. First we needed to level the ground, so I grabbed a shovel and garden rake and went to work. For about 15 minutes I worked on it and had most of it done until I hit a spot which was extra stubborn. I put “my back into it” and that’s when the unexpected pain shot through me. I stood straight up, grabbed my lower back and took a deep breath. “Ouch!” I yelled and told Beth; “I just pulled, strained something and it didn’t feel good at all!” I suffered through it until we finished. When we got inside I took some Tylenol and before bed Beth put some ointment on my back. This morning it was still hurting and I placed a heating patch on the affected area before getting ready. Its helped and feels like I’ve been carrying a heating pad with me all day.

I hurt my back because I was doing a physical activity I don’t usually do. Instead of taking my time and taking it easy I do what I usually do when a project needs to be done; go at it hard with abandon and giving no thought to the consequences. I’m not sure why I approach it this way but I do know this isn’t the first time I’ve hurt myself and unfortunately it probably won’t be the last. My back will, hopefully, get better and I’ll forget about the injury until the next one.

It’s interesting how long it takes to learn certain lessons and put them into practice. Our habits, preferences, prejudices, judgments, points of views are ingrained and ridding ourselves of the negative and replacing it with positive isn’t easy. Truthfully, for some of us, it’s a long and painful process.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Making Our Way

Making Our Way

You never know what’s going to happen at the county jail! Today it was a ceiling sprinkler that broke and flooded our classroom before I arrived. As a result of this malfunction I had to wait, and wait, and wait. We were supposed to start at 1:30PM but didn’t actually begin until 3:00PM.

Waiting is hard. Especially when you are geared up and ready to go teach a class of men who’ve been cooped up for many hours at a time. When I was finally able to get out of the foyer and into the bowels of the jail I was escorted to a small room with no dry erase board, only a few desks and was located next to the jail’s common area which meant it was loud! As I sat there waiting for the men to arrive another inmate from a previous class I had taught came in the room. At first it was small talk but eventually he shared his story of being let out but through a series of bad decisions he was back inside after only being gone for 5 months. It was heartbreaking and you could see the disgust on his face and hear the despair in his voice. He ended up staying for the class and at the end I told him; “If you want to keep coming and take the class again, you can.” He smiled and said he would. I hope he does.

One of the lessons we learn in the class is; “progression not perfection.” There will be difficult seasons which come either by our own choices or life never being easy. The question is; “what will you do when things don’t go as planned?” Hopefully, this young man will make the right decisions, recover and continue finding his way toward his better self. Hopefully the same can be said for us all.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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