Blog Archives

Adjusting

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Adjusting –

Beth and I just finished moving furniture around in the living room. Couches, bookshelves, chairs, stools, everything. The reason we did this is that the bookshelves were given to us last week and the way we currently had our living room arranged wouldn’t work with them added. So, we moved and looked, moved and pondered, moved and finally have the room the way we think looks nice and is functional.

The last couple of hours have been a good reminder that anytime we add things to our lives, positive or negative, there is adjusting required. Each of us has a finite amount of time, energy and passion. The more stuff we have in our lives the less we have of the three. This is why mindfulness is so important. We must make sure what we add is worth the readjusting and investing of time, energy and passion.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Excuse Me?

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Excuse Me

Someone asked me today; “Who’s your favorite killer?” I did a double take and asked in return; “My favorite what?” “Color,’ came the response, ‘favorite color?” “Oh!, blue,” I said. I was told I needed to work on my Tennessean listening skills.

It was a good laugh at my expense and a good reminder about listening. Each of us come from a unique background. We often forget that when we are speaking and listening to someone. People speak using words we don’t use, wouldn’t use, aren’t sure how to use. Folks speak with biases, colored by experiences, influenced by generational cycles of positive and negative cultural, religious and familial understandings.

This is why it is so important to listen with our whole being, not casually while we mess with our phones, distract ourselves with “more important” things or not honor the person who is speaking with mindfulness and focus.

Listening is a sacred gift we can give one another.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Attention

Attention

The quote in the picture (attached) is a great lesson, one I learned again today.

Following a meeting, I was rushing to another appointment but had to stop and speak with someone. I was present bodily with the person but wasn’t present emotionally or mentally. I could feel the hurry welling up inside and my attention was elsewhere. As a result, the conversation I had wasn’t fruitful and I am sure I came across as flustered. I’ve since let the person know it was my mistake, apologized and confessed I should’ve been more mindful, present, in the moment, not on my way somewhere else.

It’s so easy to be moving on to the next thing. We love marking items off our lists. It makes us feel productive and successful when truthfully if we aren’t careful, we find ourselves failing at one of the most important reason for existence; relationships.

The difference between misery and happiness is attention. An important lesson not just to read but to practice.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Resistance

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Resistance

Earlier this afternoon, between rain showers, I took some trash to the dump and stopped to get some gas for the lawnmower. Afterward, heading home and stopped at a traffic light, my eye caught a large raindrop in the center of my truck window. My first response was to turn on the wipers but instead, I watched it slowly slip down my windshield. The light turned green and as I began moving the wind flow pushed the large raindrop back up the glass.

The faster I went, the more resistance, the further up it went. However, when the speed was too great the raindrop split into three, one not quite as large and two smaller ones. The two smaller one rolled up the window and disappeared. Another red traffic light requiring me to stop and the raindrop began to slide down again. Green means go and I did my best to keep my speed around 40MPH because this seemed to keep the droplet in the middle of the glass. I did notice that even though it was staying put it was still getting smaller. The wind resistance was wearing away the raindrop and eventually, it vanished.

The rest of the way home I thought about the raindrop and life. We too are worn down by resistance. Time, difficulties, tragedies, and simple everyday living. If we live too fast we fall apart, not enough and it’s a quick descent to oblivion. Finding the right pace, knowing where our balance is, taking care of this fragile gift called life takes mindfulness and patience. Even when we get these things right it doesn’t mean we live forever for resistance, wearing down, out and thin is part of existence.

One life is all we get but if we do it well one is all we need.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannebsaint.com

Dig

Dig

A few weeks ago I broke the wooden handle on my shovel. This week my wife bought me a new one.  It’s a Kobalt and guaranteed “unbreakable“. I did bend it a little today uprooting a stubborn bush. So unbreakable? Perhaps. Un-bendable? Nope.

It was, still is, a gorgeous day outside. Tomorrow the heat and humidity are supposed to come sweeping in but we enjoyed the moment of this day by working way too hard. We’re both exhausted but it’s a good tired.

As I dug holes for bushes and trees, filled the back of the truck with dirt and planted some grass with my new shovel I thought about the digging we do in our lives. Stillness, mindfulness, reflection are basically the same discipline with its goal to remove anything that stifles the life within us.

Digging around isn’t easy on the outside or on the inside but it’s necessary if we are to make old things new, ugly stuff beautiful, and go deep enough that growth, life, is possible.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Absence of Disease 

Absence of Disease

This afternoon, at a staff meeting, we listened to a Harvard University graduate talk about happiness, mindfulness, and contentment. He was humorous and engaging with lots of information.

One of the things he said that seemed to resonate with the staff was; “Absence of disease is not health.” It takes a while for the truth of this sentence to sink in. We often think sickness, a diagnosis, a trouble, challenge, a difficulty, is what keeps us from a contented life. Perhaps it’s a new job, losing weight,  a promotion, a relationship or whatever that will make us happy.

Wisdom teaches us that anytime our quality of life depends on outward circumstances we are not where we need to be, ie: unhealthy. CS Lewis says; “Never let your happiness depend on something which can be taken away.”

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

The Disease of Busyness

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The Disease of Busyness

Yesterday I attended a webinar on the importance of silence in the discipline of mindfulness. The two speakers, both doctors of psychology, wrote their thesis on the; “the silence in between” the notes in music. These pauses in between are just as important as the notes which are being played.

Too often we construct our lives with what we think makes us successful or at least look the part. We craft an existence that has no place for silence. We believe busyness is a sign of importance. Eugene Peterson says; “Busyness is the disease of our time.”

When there is no place for silence, reflection, taking the time to breathe in quiet and breathe out the noise which pollutes our lives we die on the inside, in the deepest parts of our being where only silence can fill.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

New Life In Dead Things

New Life in Dead Things – 

This morning I was walking, reflecting, on a number of things in a friend’s yard where we are spending the weekend. As I ambled around I came across a rotted tree stump about three feet tall (pictured). I jiggled it a little then a lot and soon it came loose and broke off from the bottom. Carrying the piece of dead wood to a place to throw it away I felt a flutter by my hand and looked down in time to see a bird fly up and land on a tree limb nearby. At first I thought it strange for a bird to fly that close but then I examined the dead stump in my hand. Looking closely I spotted a hole in the trunk about a quarter size with tiny red dotted eggs. I realized I had, like a giant movie monster, yanked up the bird’s home and carried it off. I gently righted the stump and took it back to where it was removed. I hope the mama bird will return.

It was a wonderful reminder that life can be found even in places which appear desolate, dark and dead.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Left Behind

Left Behind

Whew! It’s been a long day! So, this will be a short entry.

Today, Beth and I went through the belongings of a dear friend who passed a few years ago. It was both erie and interesting.

To know one day each of our lives will be reduced to a few boxes, pieces of furniture and other knick knacks is a great lesson in humility. Truly, what we do, who we are is what matters in the short time we exist in this planet. What a shame it would be to just be remembered for the trinkets we left behind instead who we were and the lives we impacted.

Thankfully, my friend lived a life that touched many, didn’t collect a lot of useless things and as we went through her left-behind belongings they paled in comparison to who she was and what she left in us by her love and grace.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Out of the Loop

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Out of the Loop

I had a meeting this morning, at least I thought I had one. I missed this monthly meeting in December because of a scheduling conflict and apparently it was decided that there wouldn’t be one in January. It’s not a big deal. It gave me an extra hour to catch up with a couple of other items which needed to be done.

On my way back I set the cruise control and enjoyed the feeling of not being rushed. Into my bliss came an old small blue Ford pick-up truck driven by a young man in a hurry! He rode my bumper for a while and then finally passed me. Several miles up the road I caught up with him as he waited to turn into a shopping center. I drove past him thinking; “All that rushing and nothing to show for it.”

The canceled meeting gave me the time to drive thoughtfully, carefully and do my best to enjoy a bleak, gray, overcast day. I saw cows, hawks, Turkey Buzzards, businesses closing and others opening, people working, walking, talking, going to and fro. I was in the moment, my mind was present each mile and not jumping ahead to my next appointment and whether I would be on time.

I’ve decided it would be great to have an extra hour between all my appointments. I’m not sure this is possible so this year I’d like to try being more mindful, less in a hurry, more observant and less focused on the clock, more present less worried about what’s next.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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A Strange Season

A Strange Season

When I was growing up Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were filled with family, food and gifts. We were at one grandmother’s house on Christmas Eve and the other on Christmas Day. In between was the opening of gifts followed by a big breakfast with my parents. It was a special time and for me never to be repeated.

People say the magic of Christmas is lost as you enter your teens and twenties but can be recaptured when you have children and eventually grandchildren. The joy, excitement, anticipation in a child’s eyes can reignite the ember within. Christmas can also transform into a time of being with family and friends. Instead of gifts you open your hearts to others and allow relationships to be renewed.

Beth and I don’t have any children so recapturing the Christmas Spirit this way isn’t an option. We live near Beth’s family and she loves spending time with them. Her Christmas Spirit is almost always burning brightly. She comes from a large family who welcome me with plenty of love and open arms but the amount of people in a confined location triggers my social anxiety. I’ve tried a few times in different settings to be a part but it’s difficult to be comfortable while fighting a real battle on the inside.

So, Christmas has become a strange time for me. I have not given up hope for the return of the Christmas Spirit. I am thankful for it being on a Sunday this year and the chance to celebrate it with others. I’m also thankful for a wonderful wife who supports me and the challenges I try to overcome each day. Knowing when to push, when to hold, attempting to understand what I have a hard time describing. She is my greatest gift.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Where there’s Smoke…

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Where there’s Smoke…

Our little old farmhouse doesn’t have central heat and air. We hope to add it one day but there are several other home improvements we’d like to make before investing in a unit and duct work. During the summer we use window air conditioner units and in the winter we have a few space heaters plus a Kerosene heater for the main front rooms. It works well enough for now and does a good job keeping the cool at bay.

Last night, after we finished sitting around the fire-pit for a while we came inside and I lit the Kerosene heater. I went into another room and it wasn’t long before Beth was yelling my name; “Brian! There’s smoke, lots of smoke, everywhere!” I came running into the living room and she was right, the heater was putting out black smoke which was filling the room. I quickly took the heater outside, we opened all the windows in the three rooms the smoke was residing and put fans in them to help draw out the unwanted ash cloud. It didn’t take long to clear and for our hearts to begin beating at a normal rhythm again.

Though we like the Kerosene heater, the trick is getting the wick lit and the container which fits around and over it set just right. If you aren’t careful you can end up with rooms full of black smoke or worse. It was a good lesson in paying attention and making sure something which needed to be done specifically and correctly was done so.

As the fans hummed drawing out the smoke and soot last night I thought about how careless we are in other areas of life. There are times when we don’t handle things rightly, correctly, carefully and making sure what we do doesn’t end up making a big mess.

Wisdom, mindfulness, tells us to focus on what we are doing, presently, in the now. Lesson learned, again, yesterday.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Carry On

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Carry On

This afternoon I walked into a local convenience store to grab a few 2 liters of soft drinks for a celebration I was attending. Because I was in a hurry I didn’t grab a grocery cart and figured I would carry the drinks to the check-out. I grabbed the 2 liters and headed to the front. Unfortunately for me one of the lanes was closing and I was stuck awkwardly holding the drinks while those in front of me were purchasing their items. The drinks were getting HEAVY and because of the way I was holding them I was worried about dropping if I tried placing them on the floor. Finally, I was second to next in line and the man being checked out only had a few items. I asked if I could put the drinks on the counter? “Sure,’ he said, ‘no problem.” I did and it was such a relief to put down the drinks, stretch my arms out and breathe an exasperated sigh at my impatience at not grabbing a grocery cart. I checked out and the cashier placed the drinks in a couple of plastic bags which made it easier to carry.

This evening I am thankful for the young man who let me place my burdens down even though  it wasn’t my turn and he could have refused. I’m thankful for lessons, over and over, which help me see hurriedness and mindlessness lead to nothing but pain and exhaustion. Lastly, I am thankful for those I’ve met on my path who have taught, are teaching, me to carry burdens in a different, better, healthier way that allows me to keep going and not lose my way or what I treasure.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Ordinary

Ordinary

Most days are ordinary. There’s nothing special about them with the exception of the miracle of being alive, which is truly something if you take the time to stop and think about it which we don’t do nearly as often as we should.

By this definition there wasn’t much that happened today. I had a session with a dad who is probably facing jail time for a poor decision at the wrong time. We talked about what imprisonment does to a family and began making plans for this event that’ll impact his loved ones.

I taught a class in jail this afternoon to a group of guys who are trying to change a life of bad decisions into one they, and their families, can be proud of. We spoke about the importance of making choices that would not harm them or others, especially those they love.

I talked on the phone, answered and sent far too many emails. Now I sit in front of the fire pit watching the logs being eaten by the flame. Like most of my days days, they are disappearing too quickly.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Two Sides 

Two Sides – 

Earlier this week I received a phone call about a father who needed help as soon as possible. There were insurmountable and dangerously difficult obstacles he was facing and the concerned caller made sure I understood the need for me to connect with the dad.

So, I called the dad and explained why I was calling and offered my immediate assistance in anyway I could help. After a long pause the father told me; “Thank you.” but he was fine, handling everything life was bringing his way and appreciated my offer but at the present time wasn’t sure he needed any. I told him again if he changed his mind to call me anytime. He said he would and we disconnected.

I was confused at the original caller’s insistence of the father needing immediate help and the dad’s assured response that he was doing just fine. I then reflected on the wisdom teaching of knowing all sides to each story and person before acting. Once again it’s a lesson hard to remember and to put into practice. 

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Kindled 

Kindled

Fall is one of my favorite seasons. It’s warm enough in the day to work but not sweat too much and the evenings are cool enough to sit around a fire pit.

Last night I gathered some wood, made a fire and enjoyed the warmth as the sun set. To keep a good fire going you need to rotate the wood as it burns and adjusting the pieces so the fire doesn’t run out of fuel. During one of the adjustments last night a hot ash jumped over my head and onto my back. It quickly burned through my shirt while I shimmied, loudly saying; “Ow! Ow! Ow!” Finally, most of the pain subsided and I sat down once again enjoying the fire but still, every now and then, feeling the burn.

Wisdom teaches us that it takes frequent adjusting to keep the fire lit inside. If we aren’t careful the flames quickly turn to embers and can be snuffed out. Accepting these alterations isn’t always easy and can be painful. However, the pain is temporary and a kindled fire in our spirits can last an eternity.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Settling

Settling – 

This morning, as I was preparing to go to the office, I  heard a sound; “Knock, Knock, Knock.” And again; “Knock, Knock, Knock.” I checked the front door and no one was there but the knocking continued. Then, as a wannabe Sherlock Holmes would do, I stood perfectly still and waited for the next, “Knock, Knock, Knock.” and began following the sound to the source. I did this until I was ear to wall with the front porch. The sound was definitely coming from the other side. I tried spying through the window blinds but could not get the right angle as the, “Knock, Knock, Knock” echoed through the house. I walked back to the front door opened it and the screen door as quietly as possible. I crept along the side porch until I could see a female Woodpecker, who also saw me, and flew away. She was knocking on a piece of scrap wood. About twenty-five feet away from this warped and splintered two by four is a giant Oak tree. I wondered why did the bird settle for a snack when she could’ve had a gourmet meal? 

I also reflected on the truth that too often we settle for a trinket when there’s a treasure waiting, chase after worthless shiny objects when the most important things are there if we would alter our gaze. Wisdom tells us; “Don’t settle for scraps. Wait, keep searching, what you seek may be just around the corner.” 

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Waiting

Waiting – 

Beth and I stopped by Lowe’s Home Improvement store on the way home from church today. One of the items on our list was a gallon of paint. We found the right brand and then went to the kiosk where they mixed in color. There was a line of three people and one woman working as hard and fast as she could. After a while it was our turn and as we walked up to the counter a man came up to the counter, got the employee’s attention and proceeded to have his order filled. I was frustrated. He had cut in line while the rest of us had waited our turn. Seemingly without noticing or caring he had his paint mixed and then left.

After we finished and checked out, I asked Beth; “Was he in line before and I hadn’t noticed?” “Nope.” she said but in a way that told me she had moved on and was in the present while I was still reliving the past. “Well,’ I said, ‘no big deal.” and following my wife’s example I moved on as well.

In this life we will face injustices and inconveniences. Injustices are worth fighting against for they impact past, present and future. Inconveniences, however, are just distractions that take our distort our focus and blind us to the now, the present, where life happens.

Blessings,
Brian Loging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Looking and Still

Looking and Still – 
Yesterday, as I worked outside on a project, a small brown butterfly landed on my red t-shirt. I immediately froze and admired it’s beauty. It flapped it’s wings a few times and then flew away. A little while later it was back and on me once more. It made no noise, demands, wasn’t frightening or frightened by me. After a while it flew off again. This happened several times all day long into the evening. In the middle of working hard, sweating, sawing, hammering, drilling measuring, the butterfly would, seemingly out of nowhere, appear, alight on me and I would stop everything and admire it until it fluttered away.

After quitting for the day I reflected on that beautiful butterfly whose presence brought a sense of wonderment and a reminder that in the midst of busyness the miracle of existence is all around us. To notice we have to be looking for it and be still enough to soak it in when it makes itself known.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Welcome 

Welcome – 

A few days ago I watched a documentary entitled; “Welcome to Leith.” It told the story of a white supremacist man who moved to a small town in North Dakota. The population of Leith was at most a few dozen and the WS plan was to have other like minded folks move to Leith and take over the town by taking over the government through legally democratic elections. The town caught wind of his plot and stopped it from happening. 

What was interesting is the fear which gripped the people of Leith.  This man and another family scared the townsfolk so much that they armed themselves, began to harass the WS group and used legally and morally questionable behavior to have the WS group sent to jail and ultimately drove them out of Leith. By the time the documentary was over I wondered which group was more dangerous.

Fear is a powerful force. It can make us think, say and do things we’d not think possible as a civilized person in a civilized community. Yet, people, groups, nations use fear to bring out the worst in us. Wisdom instructs us not to be ruled by our emotions but to let the actions of  grace, kindness and love be our guide to how we approach ourselves and each other. 

Blessings, 

@BrianLoging (Twitter) 

thewannabesaint.com 

on Fire

This morning I overheard a conversation involving someone who was either incapable, unwilling, or had never been taught how to listen. He insulted the people around him, calling them; “idiots” and made sure he was the “Alpha Dog.” As I listened to him not listening, I thought about our culture and the many voices, personalities, activists, politicians (especially politicians), talk show hosts, pod-casters, television and music stars and others, who scream, pontificate and insist vehemently that their view of themselves, others, the nation and the world is the only correct one and any who might dare disagree should be consumed with ferocity.

We live in such an inflammatory time when it seems most burn with self-righteous indignation and personally justified rage. We yell, fight, accuse, condemn and never stop to look around and see what this incendiary atmosphere is doing to everything and everyone around us. People burn with hatred and fear rushing to fight whatever threatens their way of life. One life ignites another and another and another…

As I listened to this man I wondered if it’s too late to change and what would be left when the flames of ego, greed, foolishness and closed ears, burned us up and out.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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