Blog Archives

To Think

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To Think –

I am currently teaching a men’s class on Wednesday evenings in a city that’s an hour away from home. This means on Wednesday afternoon and evening I have a bit of time on my hands. I spent most of it yesterday talking with fathers on the phone. A couple of hours to myself gives me time to think about my day, week, schedule and the materials I will be teaching and how the class went on the way back.

Thinking is a balancing act for someone like me with a Severe Anxiety Disorder. If I’m not careful thinking can turn to rumination and going over and over a situation, interaction, occasion in my mind. I described it one time to my therapist; “My over-thinking is like bubblegum. You chew on it and for a while, you get something tasty. Soon, however, all the flavor is gone and you’re chewing a piece of wet rubber.” I try to be aware of my thoughts and if I’m fixating on a particular subject. When I catch myself I turn on the radio, a podcast or music.

Wisdom tells us; “We cannot stop thoughts from entering the door of our minds
but we do not have to serve them tea
.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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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

Distraction

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Distraction

I watched a video today about distraction. It explained how the brain can become accustomed to being unfocused and our inability to change it back. The presenter gave the example of someone having a cellphone in their hand, laying on their desk, next to their plate at a restaurant, or pulling it out of a pocket or purse during a conversation. At this moment the person with whom they are conversing or meeting with realizes they are not the most important person or thing in the room. The cellphone says to the other; “Someone may call who’s more important than you. Something might ‘ding’ indicating a happening that’s more important than you.” It also impacts the person who has the phone because now they have to look at the screen, see any notifications, continue to check for changes and updates.

I was talking with a group today and part of the session was on; “Listening more than you speak.” I used the adage; “You have two ears and one mouth so you can listen twice as much as you speak.” We spoke about respect and giving the person you are interacting with your eyes, ears, and mind. Focusing on the other when we are talking, engaging, communicating, connecting, experiencing each other is vital for all participants. When we are made to feel like we one of the many tasks a person has that day we lose our focus and become distracted by their distractions.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Bliss?

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Bliss

I was asked earlier this week by my talk therapist; “What is your perfect life?” I didn’t hesitate in describing to her my idea of bliss. After listening, she paused a few moments and asked; “Why do you not have this life?” I reflected on her question and responded; “Because it would screw up other people’s life.” I know my perfect life doesn’t equal the image, illusion, of what those who are connected to me have of their “perfect life.” My idea of a perfect life isn’t grandiose or over the top. It’s simple but would complicate my relationships with those who love and care for me the most. These complications would make my life imperfect. So, the choice to let go of what I think I want, need and accept what I have is key to stillness of mind and spirit.

Life isn’t complicated. We choose to make it that way. One of the ways we make it this way is comparing our “perfect lives,” or the idea of what we think perfection would be, with what our lives are currently. These types of comparisons only cause us to suffer, to strive for an illusion that is improbable. Letting go of comparisons about our lives, each other, and accept this moment, exactly as it is, is a big step forward on the road to a wise and content existence.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Pile It On!

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Pile It On!

Earlier today I had to make a run to the Refuse and Recycle Station because we have been trying to downsize and minimize our belongings. The truck, as a result, was full and I needed to empty it before tomorrow. When I pulled into the station the person in charge told me that the dumpster was full but if I would back my truck up to it I could throw my stuff on top. “Pile it on!” is what he said and what I did.

Afterward, I wondered about all the stuff we collect and surround ourselves with in our homes, vehicles, pockets, and purses. We have drawers filled with clothes we never or seldom wear, closets cluttered with shoes that are collecting dust, sheds, porches, storage units, that are full and yet we continue to; “Pile it on!”

I grow tired of the toys and the treasure I’ve hung on to.  I know people need the clothes I don’t wear, the shoes I don’t put on, the other trinkets that invade not enhance my life. Perhaps one of the keys to a more ordered mind is getting rid of the disorder which surrounds us.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Be Still and Wait

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Be Still and Wait

This morning our Siberian Husky Trooper was ready to go outside. Getting to the door to open it he was dancing in circles! I opened the door to the house and the screened in porch and he darted out. Almost immediately I noticed a big rabbit in the field adjacent to our home. My eyes grew big wondering if Trooper was going to see it. The rabbit was still. I thought to myself; “Can you stay that still with danger lurking that close to you?” I watched intently as Trooper began sniffing the area and the bunny watched and didn’t move. After what seemed like a lifetime for me and the rabbit Trooper lumbered back to the porch and the rabbit was safe.

Many times in life we face trials and temptations, difficulties and decisions, choices and complications. Our instinct might be to take immediate action, react in the ways which seem best, hurry up and solve the problem. However, wisdom teaches us that when the way is clouded and we can’t see or crowded with chaos and hard to move the best we can do mentally, emotionally and spiritually is to be still and wait. To breathe, close our eyes and find our center. With a hectic mindset, we can focus on the immediate and “fix it” at the expense of the future. We can also become reckless running around trying everything at once and creating more hardships for ourselves and those we love.

A great master was asked one time by his student to help him solve a problem for which he could not find the solution. “I’ve gone over it a million times, looked at every angle, and can’t seem to see the way. The master told him; “When you step into a stream your feet muddy the waters. Only when you are still will the waters clear.”

Stillness, the quietude of the mind, is underrated. Pause, rest, be still, and the way will reveal itself.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Everything But

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Everything But

This morning I was shopping at Wal-Mart looking for items to check off my list. However, I couldn’t find one so I began to look for an employee to help me. I spotted a man in a white shirt, blue and white ID holder attached to a lanyard. He was about to leave so I called from the opposite end of the aisle; “Excuse me, sir? Could you help me?” He stopped and I walked up to and asked him where the item I needed was located. “Sporting goods. Over there.” and though I thought his answer was vague I thanked him and began looking again. I was frustrated he didn’t narrow down my search. Then, it hit me. The man I spoke to wasn’t a Wal-Mart employee. He just happened to look like one because I was searching for one. I laughed at myself and wondered about the guy who would tell his family and friends today about the stranger who mistook him for someone who worked at Wal-Mart.

Later in the day, I was teaching a Dad’s Community Group and we were learning about listening. One of the ways to be a better listener is to leave your biases out of the conversation. When we’ve made up our mind about a person to or the topic *before* listening and understanding what the person is saying, and feeling, we are not listening. We are only waiting to speak.

Listening is not about criticizing, advice giving, making the conversation about us. Listening is, at its essence, letting a person know they are valued, respected. Too often we make it about everything but…

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Starting Over

Starting Over

I was speaking with a friend this week who struggles with anger. We were trying to figure out how to take a breath before responding to a situation or a person who triggers his angry responses. We talked about tricks and tips to get him to breathe in fully and exhale before whatever words were forming on his tongue. I told him; “At that moment think, see with your mind what the consequences of your words are going to be.” It’s the discipline of ‘the space in between.’ The greater the space in between the stimuli and the response the better. Take time to think, to breathe, there is healing, understanding, awareness, and acceptance in that moment. Use it.

With each breath is a new beginning, a starting over, an opportunity to live and give life.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Second Thoughts

Second Thoughts

Earlier this afternoon there was a knock on our front door. Unfortunately, I was indisposed and couldn’t answer it and be decent at the same time. When I finally got to the door the person was gone and all that was left was a book on the evilness of Protestantism. I picked up the book, flipped through it as I walked into the house. I put it down in the foyer and continued on with my day.

However, as I was busy with other things a thought crept into my mind; “What if someone had brushed a coat of poison on the outside cover of the book? What if there had been dust inside and as I flipped through it floated into the air and on me?” I asked my wife; “How have we gotten to a place in the world where a book left on a front porch can cause us to have thoughts of terrorism and criminal intent?”

We live in a time where nothing seems innocent. We are suspicious, judgemental, accusatory, on high alert, expecting and preparing for the worst. How do we get back to a more innocent time? Was there ever such a thing?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Gathering

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Gathering

This morning I stopped by the office on my way to a Community Group for Dads. It was cold today. Last night it was below freezing and when I left the house it was lightly snowing! I know Spring is supposed to be here but I wish it would step up and exert itself! Anyhow, when I arrived at the office there was the familiar hum of a leaf blower. Even though its cold the grass is still growing and the flowers are still blooming. I parked the truck and as walked to the office door I noticed what the maintenance man was doing. There are trees planted near the building that houses a suite of offices. Because of the wind and cold, the petals were scattered over the parking lot and in front of the office doors. Opening ours I saw them tumble into the foyer. The man operating the blower was trying to collect them into a corner and then sweep them into a trashcan. Expertly he gathered them setting the blower on high when moving them from a big space and then on low to push them into the area they needed to go.

Exiting the office, I reflected on the petals. They reminded me of the many thoughts which swirled in my head. Its Monday and my mind was filled with a list of; “to-dos, schedules, phone calls, meetings, reports, and a host of other things” which have already filled my week. My thoughts, like the petals, were scattered and needed to be gathered and sorted. I will follow the discipline of my leaf blower friend and willfully, but gently, take control where once there had been chaos by paradoxically, stilling my mind and spirit.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Charging Stations

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Charging Stations

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

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

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

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Mush

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Mush

My brain has officially turned to mush! After two full days of training in Nashville, my head organ can take no more! It is full of pieces of information, stories, facts, figures, graphs, bars, charts and more. I know in a few days when everything I received processes everything it will be worth the mental fatigue but right now it’s like my brain is in a blender set on high. My eyes are heavy from lack of sleep, my back hurts from sitting for two straight days in a non-reclining chair, my stomach hungry for homemade food and nothing pre-packaged. It’s amazing, or horrifying, that your body, mind, and spirit can be so out of sync after a couple of days.

This morning, on my way into Nashville, I listened to a prayer app and it has a time, after the invitation to pray, to pause and be silent. As silence filled the car I thought about how disjointed I felt, vowed to never work in Nashville and drive into the city every day, reflected on the difference between a room full of forty people plus four teachers and the quietude of the moment and then the app started playing scripture. I wasn’t ready for the noise. I said out loud; “Not long enough!”, then sighed and continued.

Silence is underrated.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

How Could He?

How Could He?

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

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

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

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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

Keep What Works

Keep What Works

This advertisement was in my Twitter feed this morning. When I was a pastor who had to prepare and deliver a message each Sunday I loved the times when after the service people would come up and ask a question, make a comment or even challenge something I said during the message.  It meant they were listening! I would listen to them and then discuss whatever was on their mind. At the end of the conversation I would often tell them; “Don’t take what I say as the truth. Go search for yourself. Find out if the all or part of the message is for you and keep what works and leave the rest.” I understood that depending on where we were on our path greatly determined what our minds, emotions, and spirits could process and apply at any given moment. Most of us have had the experience of someone excitedly telling us about something they heard someone say, or read in a book, and how it changed their lives. While we are grateful for our friend’s epiphany we also think to ourselves; “I’ve told them this a thousand times and they never listened!” It’s because they weren’t ready. The good piece of advice, the important life lesson we told them wasn’t ready to be heard.

Wisdom teaches us that many truths surround us presently. However, we can only perceive a few, if any, because we are unaware, distracted. The best news is that these truths are timeless and sooner or later they’re ready to be received and applied. Sometimes we become frustrated because we seem to be learning the same things over and over. We need to learn to give ourselves a break and trust that one day the truth we’ve been searching for will be received and kept because it works.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Knocking

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Knocking

This morning I woke up with a headache. It felt like a giant was knocking on the front door of my face. I at breakfast took a pill and laid back down. It helped a little but it’s been painful off and on most of the afternoon.

Last week a friend told me he had a “secret knock” whenever he went over to his mother’s home. He said this knock was for her to know that it was him without looking out the window to see. I liked this idea both the reality and the thought behind it.

We have ideas which knock on the doors of our heads. Some of these thoughts, especially the ones filled with doubt, confusion, anger, can take us to places we don’t want to go. Wisdom teachers call this; “monkey mind” a mind filled with chatter like monkeys in a tree, never-ceasing or giving a moment’s peace. It can also be called; “thought train” which is a mind that’s on a particular set of tracks taking us to places it’s not always wise to go.

The good news is we are able to train our minds to recognize “monkey minds, thought trains” and refuse to let them take over our spirits and emotions. The key to mindful living is to be present, in the now. Our minds are not all-powerful and we do have the capability of saying; “No” to negative, repetitive, thoughts and “Yes” to those which keep us centered, balanced and at peace. We simply need to know when and when not to open the door.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Blue

Blue

Everyone has a bad day once in a while. Mine was today. It started this morning and lasted all day. It was a bad day for decisions, conversations, yard working and everything else I tried. Finally, this evening, sitting in the yard of a friend, reflecting on this terrible, bad, no good day, a Bluebird landed on a branch not far from where I was sitting. I watched it. I would love to write it turned my whole day around but it didn’t. It did, however, impress me with its shade of blue. Beautiful. It was especially gorgeous against the brown yard and my dark mood. It was a reminder of spring, newness, and rebirth. I stared at it and the simple, obvious thought; “tomorrow is a new day,” echoed in my mind and spirit. I couldn’t argue with the Bluebird and as it flew off I was thankful this day was also quickly fleeting and the next one will be arriving shortly.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Smoldering

Smoldering

On Saturday afternoon I burned a pile of branches, old newspapers, and other miscellaneous items. The smell of the ashes and leftover debris lingered in the air the next day. I had forgotten to grab an old wooden rocking chair out of the reading room which also needed to be disposed of. When I noticed it Sunday afternoon I wondered if the smoldering ash would still be hot enough to do anything. I took the chair out, broke it into several pieces and put some under the coals, which were still a faint orange, and put the rest in a pile on top. I checked it after a while and noticed the smoke had increased. About an hour later the wood was ablaze with a good flame. It didn’t take long to consume it once the fire restarted. Not too long afterward the chair was gone.

I wrote last week about the struggles I have when February rolls around. Many years have passed but the layers of hurt, anger, and uncertainty still lay buried, ready to ignite when fuel is added. What I try to do, instead of dwelling on the past, is not feed the flames. When I am aware and notice my mind drifting back to the place of pain I find a place to breathe. I close my eyes and take deep breaths. I remind myself of the truth that I cannot change the past but I can be present in the now. Does it always work? No. Does it work? Yes. Maybe one day I will be healed, maybe not, but I don’t want to give up on living today because of the difficulties of yesterday.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Temporary

Temporary

The sun, which shone so brightly the last couple of days filling my spirit and mind with images of spring, is gone today, replaced by gray, gloomy clouds. My wife’s flu bug which bit her last week seems to have been squished and she’s on the mend. The weekend is winding down and soon a new week will start.

I commented to a friend today about a photograph taken about 4 years ago that; “sometimes it seems long ago and other times yesterday.” I think that’s life. When younger I was told; “time moves faster as you get older.” It didn’t make sense to me then but now, on the other side of the hill (midlife), it’s a boulder rolling faster and faster.

The present moment, where we long to continuously dwell, is the one place that brings thankfulness, humility, and acceptance. We are thankful because we are only “grass that whithers, blows away, and its place remembers it no more.” Every moment is precious, even the ones we’d rather not experience. We are humbled by the brevity of ourselves and the things around us. Nothing is permanent which we can touch, see, feel, hear, or taste. “All things are passing away.” By accepting this truth we can choose to consciously, deliberately, live leaving nothing unfinished, and embrace this flash of light we call being alive.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Testing, 1, 2, 3

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Testing, 1, 2, 3

Today was my annual Tuberculosis test for the non-profit where I am employed. I don’t like tests, shots, or pain so this was a three for three experience of joy! It’s the same every year.  I go into a small room, the nurse tells me this is going to hurt but not too much. I look away and tell her I don’t want to know when just do it. She does and then tells me to come back in 2-3 days for the results. So, I wait.

I don’t have Tuberculosis. At least I don’t think I do. Would I know it if I did? The test makes me think about it. Each year I forget what a positive result looks like so I google the symptoms and then look at my arm over the next couple of days to make sure I don’t have what I don’t think I have…

Life has a way of making us worry about a lot of stuff.  You watch, read or listen to the news you begin to worry about things you hadn’t even thought of before. You talk with family, friends and they’ll give you something else to be concerned about. Before you know it, if you’re not careful, you have enough stress and anxiety to last a lifetime.

Wisdom teaches us that agonizing, over thinking, brooding, and panic are not a healthy state of mind or emotions. Letting go of that which distresses us might not be easy but carrying around a load of tension and agitation ensure we will never find the peace which we desperately desire and need.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Enemy Within

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Enemy Within

I had a meeting with my talk therapist yesterday. It went well. She is professional, a good listener and has a way of pointing out things I miss in life experiences. We were talking about a certain subject, one I struggle with mightily at times, and asked a question that made me think in a completely different way. She didn’t say; “Think this way.” Like a good therapist should do, she allowed me to look inside and find my way out of dark corners.

As someone with a Chronic Severe Depression disorder the battle with ruminating thoughts, anger, doubt, confusion, and fear cover my mind, emotions, and spirit like a wet blanket. Some days I can shake the blanket off of me, other days it’s like a chill in my bones and I can’t get warm. Therapy helps remind me that many of the feelings, and non-feelings, which come with depression may not be gotten rid of completely but a new thought, a burst of light, a letting go of some of the negative, can make room for hope and a willingness to continue the journey.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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