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Power

Power

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Chirp and Chatter

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Chirp and Chatter

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting on the front steps to our shed waiting for Beth to come home from work. Me and the dog enjoying the day when a bird overhead began to chirp loudly! It wasn’t the usual chirp and it was incessant. I looked to the limbs of our big Oak tree trying to find it. I couldn’t. The chirping didn’t stop but I couldn’t find it among the leaves. Finally, it stopped and only when it flew away could I see that it was a large woodpecker.

After watching this beautiful bird fly away I reflected on the constant chirping and not knowing where it was coming from. Some thought are like that in our minds. They chirp and chatter and we wonder, why and for what reason, they are filling our minds with noise. Perhaps its regret at an action,  a question about why something is happening, puzzlement for a big decision which needs to be made, a betrayal, a hurtful word given or received, a reliving of past events, or worry about the future. Whatever the thoughts, the chirps, and the chatter can keep peace of mind and spirit elusive and unattainable.

Wisdom reminds us that thoughts are going to come and go but it is up to us not grab them and ruminate. A wise master once said; “I cannot stop the thoughts from coming to my door but I do not have to serve them tea.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Sight

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Sight

I have a friend who has vision problems. Not eyesight but “heart-sight.” My friend was hurt a while ago by a group of people and is having difficulty letting go of the pain and rejection felt, still feels when the experience is thought about, re-lived.

My friend recognizes the blinders has upon their heart and mind. They realize the past keeps them from seeing any good in the ones who hurt them. His vision of them is dark, judgmental and biased. In their minds, there is a reluctance to admit there are good and positive things about them but the heartbreak makes even their most magnanimous acts of kindness and grace be viewed with suspicion.

How,’ they ask, “How am I supposed to get past this? How long before I can move on?” I tell them the stories of my pain. I explain to them there is no timetable to heal a heart and soul deeply wounded. It takes as long as it takes. I remind them also that each of us has done things we would do differently if we could. I also remind them not to give up, not to allow the heartbreak to twist their soul and become embittered and unable to see the good in others again.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Protection

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Protection

Today I weeded the grass around our trees and bushes. Tomorrow I will mow. As usual, I grabbed my phone and earbuds going out the door. I also took my clip-on which cradles the phone, protects it and comes in handy when doing chores or other jobs which require two hands. I don’t use the cradle much because it’s too bulky and in most work settings would get in the way when I sit down or am driving.

Though not used often one thing I know about the clip-on is the phone’s screen is facing inward not outward. This way the screen is protected anything you might brush up or hit it against. If you faced it outward, which I’ve seen many people do, it puts your phone’s screen at risk of being scratched or cracked.

When I see people with their phone in the clip-on screen facing out I am always tempted to say something but never do. I don’t want to seem nosey and think; “They have to know it’s not in correctly! Perhaps they have it in backwards for a reason?” I also don’t want to embarrass or make someone upset. So, I try to ignore it thought my instinct is to walk over and put it in the way it belongs!

There are things in our life which offer us protection; jobs, insurance and medicine. Family and friends who care for us and help meet our needs. What we will allow or won’t allow in our minds, hearts, and lives. We make the choice to be protected or unprotected.

There is never a 100% guarantee that even if we avail ourselves of every protection offered we will not be harmed, heartbroken or wounded deeply. Wisdom, however, teaches us how to be protected and what’s worth protecting.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Self-Talk

Self-Talk

One of the most important lessons I teach fathers is to watch what they say, not just around their children, but everywhere. What we have a habit of saying comes out in every place of our lives so training ourselves to be careful with our words is a good discipline.

However, what comes out of our mouth can pale in comparison to what we say to ourselves, silently, in our minds. Some of the most hateful, spiteful, belittling, insulting, jarring, judgemental, biased talk never leaves our brain. At times these words are aimed at other but they are also used to inflict wounds upon ourselves. These may be words a parent, relative, coach, teacher or someone in another place of authority and influence said to us during our formative years. I tell our fathers; “negative, denigrating language never leave your child.” The same could be said of the harmful words which wrap themselves around our brain and leave us feeling; less than, worthless, and contemptible.

Words are powerful. So mighty that even if they aren’t spoken can shape the destiny of a life.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Filling

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Filling

This morning I went to the dentist. I hate going to the dentist! I went at 7:30AM because thinking about the appointment all day would make my anxiety grow by the hour. This way I wake up and go straight there and get it over. I take my phone and ear buds along with me to listen to, a dose of anti-anxiety medicine, and the dentist provides comforting words, gentle work and a supply of Nitrous Oxide (https://www.google.com/search?q=nitrous+oxide&oq=nitrous+o&aqs=chrome.0.0j69i57j0l4.2956j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8). When I first went to the dentist we sat and talked about my anxiety and claustrophobia issues. He understood and has done a fantastic job making me feel the least anxiety as possible. After it was over I left, slightly woozy but two teeth which needed fillings done completely.

The dentist is one of those things in life you don’t want to do but know have to be done. Know matter how much worry, dread, and procrastination, sooner or later you have to go and if it’s too much later you will regret it. As the numbing in my lips and gums wore off I thought about other things in life we don’t like to do but should. Forgiving people who have hurt us, asking forgiveness of those we have offended, reflecting on difficult and painful situations and asking; “What did I learn?”, allowing wisdom to search the deepest places in our lives, filling the holes in our minds, emotions, and spirits to be filled with kindness, love, and grace. These are never easy but waiting until we are ready might mean we never reach a place of healing and peace.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Occupy

Two Cars One Lane: Fight

Occupy

On my way home from Nashville, Tennessee, earlier this week the road I was traveling had a construction zone. I maneuvered into the proper lane and most other vehicles did the same. However, there was a woman in a silver Mercedes who misjudged when she needed to get over. I noticed just in time as she attempted to pull into the same space occupied by my truck.   When I recognized that she didn’t see me I honked the horn but this didn’t stop her and I slammed on the brakes to avoid getting into a collision. I’m not a science professor but I remember that one of the Laws of Physics says; “Two solid objects cannot occupy the same at the same time.” I couldn’t tell if she was oblivious, didn’t care or wasn’t up on her physics laws.

After we passed through the construction zone we went back to our regular speeds and as I passed the driver of the silver Mercedes I reflected on the truth of this Law of Physics in other parts of our lives. We have too many things which occupy our minds and spirits. We fill our homes, jobs, brains, and souls with trinkets which need constant attention. We rarely, if ever, find a place to leave everything behind and just be still. The objects we possess end up possessing us.

Simplicity scares us because we think we must get rid of things; “we can’t do without.” This is a lie. There are many objects, treasures, things that seem important which if we dared we could eliminate. Stillness of spirit, peace, eludes us because too many things occupy our lives.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Hate

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Hate

This week and weekend have been about hate. Hate has only one outcome; death.

Heather Hyer (pictured) was the woman who was killed when a white nationalist drove his car into a group of counter protestors at the Charlottesville, Virginia rally yesterday sponsored by hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, Neo Nazi, and other terrorists organizations. Their hatred fueled the rally and the result was death for Heather and two police officers who died in a helicopter accident.

I don’t understand the hate. I grew up in the south, had a few black friends, but do not recall overt acts of racism. However, I did hear jokes, phrases, insulting words pointed at those who were not white. I didn’t understand what I do now that this is where hatred starts. Words are powerful. They have a way of lodging themselves in our minds and shaping us from the inside out. No one is born hating another. It takes family, friends, co-workers, and others speaking vile, evil, and vicious judgments it poisons our spirits, contaminates our brains and spews out of us like projectile vomit infecting everything we touch.

Hate makes me and others uncomfortable. It’s easier not to engage, to turn our backs, hope it goes away. Unfortunately, this isn’t what happens. Hate grows and spreads. Like minded people come together and depend on most folks looking the other way. Ignorance is a weapon used by people of ill will to gain power. If we aren’t careful, if we don’t call hate what it is it will win and we will be forced to choose hatred or death.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

P.O.S’s

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P.O.S.’s

Beth and I spent most of the day taking care of P.O.B’s (Piles of Beth or Brian). It’s those ever-increasing places at home that seem to collect stuff we put down when we come in the door, lay down when our hands are full, place somewhere; “only for a moment.” However, before you know it a couple of months have gone by and we’ve continued to add, never subtract, from the piles and they seem to take over the house. So today we began tackling them, going through, getting rid of what’s now not needed, putting up what is actually still useful in our lives.

As we worked from room to room we also talked about things which we could’ve conversed about weeks ago but hadn’t. We teased each other, laughed and broached topics that were sensitive and allowed ourselves to be vulnerable, not defensive.

Wisdom tells us that our lives can quickly become P.O.S.’s (piles of stuff). They fill our minds and lives, clutter our spirits and if we’re not diligent, suffocate the light by which we navigate. It’s not easy to sort through the messes but living with the chaos proves much harder the longer we try and exist in the junk and confusion.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Think

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Think

Someone asked me today; “Why aren’t you more politically active in your social media posts? It’s hard to know exactly where you stand.” I explained, best I could, that arguing with people over the internet, or in person, using talking points heard on the radio, tv, podcast, seen on TV and online doesn’t seem a good use of time and time is what life’s made of.

Another friend asked his Facebook posse what Donald Trump would have to do to make him seem more favorable to those who didn’t vote for him. People quickly chimed in with compliments and insults, agendas and wish lists. I didn’t post but I’ve thought about it today and the answer for me was what I’d also like to see in myself, my friends, my acquaintances and certainly my president; humility, repentance, forgiveness, mercy, grace, kindness.

The last part of my answer would be; I’d like people to use their minds and their spirits. I’d like each of us to think for ourselves not regurgitate what we’ve heard or seen but use our brains and voices, filtered by wisdom and experience to speak and do good to each other.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Filter

Yesterday I wrote about changing the oil & oil filter on my John Deere lawn tractor. (https://thewannabesaint.com/2016/06/24/not-comfortable/) It was a new experience for me. Today, I continued working on the deck extension which is almost complete. As I cut, hammered, screwed and ensured the deck was level and secure I thought about the oil filter.

“An oil filter is a filter designed to remove contaminants from engine oil, transmission oil, lubricating oil, or hydraulic oil. Oil filters are used in many different types of hydraulic machinery.” #Wikipedia

I reflected on the need of a filter for our lives. We live in a dirty and difficult world. All around us are contaminants which can pollute our spirits, cloudy our vision, stain our intentions and bespatter our minds. It’s incredibly hard, if not impossible, to keep ourselves untainted.

What’s required is a wisdom greater than our own, a spirit that’s stronger, a cleaner which can keep our vision, intentions and minds clear. Being aware and admitting our need for a filter are the first steps in living a bright, grace filled existence in a too often dark and dingy world.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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The Chosen Way

This morning I had a lecture to give in Nashville. I left early, as usual, because I’d rather be an hour early than a minute late. The interstates and bi-ways were filled with cars, trucks and semis. Traffic moved slowly in spots, too many traffic lights, lots of stopping, going, waiting, merging, until I finally arrived at the conference.

When it was over I once again turned on the handy-dandy GPS on my phone and noticed it offered me a different way than the one I had taken this morning. It indicated the Natchez Trace was only a few miles from my location. I decided to take this route. Exiting onto it I was at first dismayed when I noticed the speed limit was only 40 MPH! This was too slow when other routes would’ve let me go 70 MPH! “This is going to take forever.” I sighed. However, there was very little traffic and the drive was incredibly beautiful. There was no switching lanes, no bumper to bumper, only trees with a myriad of colorful blooms. It didn’t take long to get used to the slow and steady pace of the highway or to decide this is the way I’ll go tomorrow when I have my next session to give at the conference.

Wisdom teaches us that often it takes experiencing a different way to open our minds and spirits to the better chosen path for our lives.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Not Real

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I was speaking with a friend this week who’s struggling with three things; judgmental thoughts, judgmental words and judgmental actions. The latter follow the first and are causing difficulties with people he holds dear. “I don’t want to speak harshly and condemningly to those I love but I can’t seem to stop the thoughts from expressing themselves.” He sighed. “What if your thoughts weren’t real?” I asked him. “What if your thoughts were just clouds of words floating through your mind and have no substance? What if they didn’t define your reality and only became form and influence when you plucked them out of the sky of your mind and made them into tangible words or actions?” While he considered this I quoted to him one of my favorite wisdom sayings from Aristotle; “The mark of a wise mind is the ability to think a thought without believing it to be true.

When we judge others, even only in our minds, we are forcing our limited understanding of what’s real, normal, acceptable onto their limited understanding of the same. When we label someone as lacking we’ve actually judged ourselves. We show our minds, emotions and wisdom to be lacking.

Thoughts are meant to be considered, reflected upon, examined in broad and focused ways. We are to seek to understand and then be understood. When judgement fills our minds, hearts and spirits there’s no more room for wisdom, compassion, relationship.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Inspection

Teaching at the county jail is rarely boring. You never know when and what to expect. Today it was my turn to have a random luggage search (my classroom supplies are in a hard plastic/metal box with wheels and a handle). The corrections officer had me step to a certain spot, opened my case and with a flashlight proceeded to search every workbook, lesson guide, folder, pencil & dry erase marker bag and box. I wasn’t worried he’d find something because I’m careful not to bring in anything which would get me into trouble. I enjoy my time in the jail but I don’t want to call it home! When he finished, he thanked me and I went on my way.

I reflected on this random search and how our lives might be different if every now and then our hearts, minds and spirits were opened, thoroughly inspected and all their contents were lit up for the whole world to see.

blessings,

@BrianLoging (Twitter)

http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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Unseen Protector

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Yesterday, on my way back to Columbia, TN from Bedford county, I passed a cable laying company and noticed a large empty wooden spool. I pulled into the business’ parking lot, walked in and asked if they would sell, or even better, give it to me. The owner was willing to part with it at no cost and helped me load it into the back of my truck. There were already some other building materials in the bed so we positioned it on top and I tied it down. However, because of the other materials the tailgate was lowered and the spool couldn’t be turned sideways. I am fairly confident in making a knot that’ll stay secure but I kept a close eye on the big wooden spool all the way home. There were two fears; one that it would roll out the back and into another vehicle, two that it would roll forward and break out my back window. Slowly navigating the back hills to my home I held my breath on every incline and decline, turn and stop. Finally, I pulled into the driveway and exhaled! “Whew!” I gathered my work things from the crew cab and started to go inside. I walked around the truck and to my surprise and amusement I spied the chrome metal toolbox that’s attached to the bed of the truck just below the back window. I’ve owned my vehicle for almost a year and a half and have used this toolbox many times but today completely forgot it was there. The back window was never in danger of being broken because this forgotten protector would’ve stopped it from getting that close.

My worry was that my knot, my ability, my attempt to keep myself and others from pain and loss wasn’t enough. I was so concerned and focused on this obstacle of potential destruction I never considered there was something else stronger, sturdier, in place to keep me from harm. Looking through my rear-view mirror I only saw the spool, never the toolbox.

It was a needed reminder that our focus determines our state of mind, emotions and overall well being. When our vision is obscured because of forgetfulness or refusal to look at other things our minds, bodies and spirits are tied in knots, our energy strapped, living itself becomes a labor. However, when we remember our protector, even though unseen, is keeping us safe we are able to let go and trust even in the most anxious and stress filled circumstances.

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

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Keep the Wood Dry

One of my favorite things to do is sit by our fire pit after a long day and watch the flames light up the night sky filled with stars.

On Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon we had several rain showers move through the area. Finally, Sunday evening, they scattered to the winds leaving a damp chill in the air. I went out to the fire pit and uncovered some wood in a holder that’s protected from nature’s elements. The ground in and around the fire pit was soaked but placing the dry kindling in and putting a match to it I soon had a roaring fire that chased the dampness away. The area around the fire was wet but the wood was dry and this made all the difference.

I smiled as the flames leapt into the air and reflected on the storms that often come into our lives. They deluge us with difficulties and pain, heartache and despair, hopelessness and powerlessness. We may wonder if our lives will ever burn again with passion and purpose. The key to being reignited is to protect our spirits, a layer of shielding around our hearts and minds, to know at our center the rain cannot penetrate and when the time comes we will be ready to once again be set aflame and light up the night.

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

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Disruption

It’s happened to most cellphone owners. You think your device is on silent, everything muted and, at an inconvenient time, you realize you thought wrong! Yesterday, in a meeting, a presenter was giving an in-depth report and a person’s phone began to play loud music. Of course everyone in the room turned around and looked at her as she frantically tried to turn it off.

Last Christmas, sitting in church, I began to hear the song; “Another Tender Tennessee Christmas.” I recognized the tune because it’s one of my wife’s favorite songs and I wondered where it was coming from. The choir wasn’t singing it nor the worship team. As the song began to grow louder I realized my wife had selected it for her ringtone. Leaning over to her, I whispered; “I think someone is calling you.” Beth, who hadn’t even noticed, reached quickly for her purse. The phone was at the bottom and she rifled though her belongings finally locating and silencing it. She was embarrassed, I thought it hilarious.

Life is rarely predictable. Even when we think everything is taken care of, settled, under control, life has a way of grabbing our attention and forcing us into a panic, reactive mode. Hardships, difficulties, disease, death take us by surprise and we become focused on the unanticipated and all other things become hidden. While shock and preoccupation may be our first response we cannot stay locked in a state of worry, anxiety and fear. Wisdom teaches us that working through sudden disruptions, finding the stillness and silence once again isn’t easy but is vital to the well-being of our minds, emotions and spirits.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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