Blog Archives

Casting

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Casting

Recently Beth and I went out-of-town. Before we left I gave Trooper, our Siberian Husky, a bath. He needed one after a long winter and he wasn’t smelling his best. Huskies and their underfur can be tricky to manage. There’s a lot of brushing and picking year round but it is recommended they only get bathed two or three times a year so as not to damage their underfur. The undercoat is a great protection from the weather, regulates their body temperature and deters fleas and ticks.

The bath I gave him a few weeks ago kick-started his seasonal casting. This is a process when a new undercoat pushes out their old one. As a result, he’s been biting, scratching, clawing and using our fingers as a way to remove it. He also likes to go outside and lay down on his back and move back and forth trying to scratch where it itches, which is everywhere! The best kindness we can give him is brushing him vigorously and do out best to get rid of the old fur.

Wisdom tells us that we have to shed the old to make room for the new. What once protected us, regulated us, helped us through seasons of life must be pushed out, let go, removed so that what’s new and better can replace it. It’s not easy but its necessary.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Place to Empty

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Place to Empty

This morning I had a lot of garbage at the house which needed to be taken to the dump. Beth and I still wonder how two people can generate so much waste. The truck bed was full. On my way into town, I drove slowly, so as not to cause any garbage cans to topple over. My plan was to stop and get rid of it before my first appointment, however, when I arrived the dump was closed because they were waiting for a canister to be set in place to receive the refuse. This meant I had to carry the garbage until the afternoon when I would go back and try the dump again. It also meant driving slowly and anxiously carefully not to spill the stinky load. Thankfully, it was open and I was able to rid myself of the trash.

Afterward, I reflected on time, seasons in our lives when we need to empty the emotional, physical and spiritual trash from our lives and are unable. It impacts the way we navigate life and our attention becomes more fixed on the garbage than other, more important things. We need to regularly empty our lives of the toxicity, rubbish, and junk which builds up within us so we can be free of that which slows us down and keep moving on the road of life.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Defenses

Defenses

Earlier today I was mowing and weeding the yard. While doing so I came across a three to four-foot King Snake hanging out in the grass. I didn’t want to hurt it so I nudged it with the wheel of my push mower and it didn’t move. I bumped it again and the snake curled up into a ball. I was hoping the third time was the charm and tried to get it moving but it wasn’t going anywhere. I then went and grabbed a wooden stake, found the snake still rolled up and not willing to budge. As a last result, I pushed the stake through the center of the ball, picked it up and placed it in another part of the yard where it would be safe. “Sheesh!” I thought to myself. It just had to be difficult.

After getting back to my mowing I thought about the defensive behavior of the snake. It wasn’t helpful for it or me. I reflected on my defensive behaviors and unhelpful coping skills. As someone who deals with mental illness, I know first hand what a sense of being in danger, uncertain, threatened can do. It can cause me to make a bad decision, seize up, pull myself into an emotional ball and try to keep the danger out. Most times it doesn’t work but, like the snake, its instinct.

I know if I would’ve been able to communicate with the reptile I would’ve explained it needed to move for its own safety. If it was left alone eventually the snake would relax and be able to go on its way. When people fight, flight or freeze when we try to help our intention doesn’t matter. What matters is understanding and adapting our help to meet the needs of the other.

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

Deep Purple

Deep Purple

This morning I turned on the water for all the outside faucets in a friend’s yard. As I waited for the water to reach the spigots I heard the unmistakable sound of gushing water. This is not what you want to hear after turning the water on for the first time since winter. Using my ears I could tell it was a pipe running under the deck. I loosened some sideboards which allowed me to see under the deck and sure enough, there was a busted PVC elbow that connected two pipes. Sigh. I was able to find all the pieces I needed without going to the hardware store and began sawing, drying, applying a deep purple primer and putting the new fittings together. I turned on the water for a quick test and it went to the outside spigots and then turned it off to apply some cement putty and ensure it won’t, hopefully, crack, bust, leak, at least for the summer.

As I squirmed and worked under the deck I thought about how all of us at one time or another, one season or another, end up being dry because our source has been diverted. What’s required is listening, heeding, discovering where the leak is so that it can be fixed. It’s often not an easy job but a necessary one.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Straight

Image result for plant trees ties

Straighten

Last week was a mess! Weather-wise it rained a lot, the wind blew, the skies were overcast. As a result of the drenched soil and the wind, several of our young trees were tilted and needed to be straightened. To make them upright is more than grabbing them and forcing them back to the desired position. What needs to happen is for two or three stakes to be driven in the ground around the tree, a rope or string tied from the stake to the tree so that it can keep it straight. So, Beth and I went out Sunday and did this to several of our trees in need. As they grow the strings and ropes will need to be adjusted, the stakes repositioned and anchored until one day the tree doesn’t need the support any longer.

People in our lives are like these trees. The storms of life come and blow them off-balance, weakens their foundation, makes life skewed and pointed in the wrong direction. What we can do is come alongside these needy ones and be their support, giving them the additional strength they need until one day, hopefully, they are ready and able to stand straight on their own again.

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

In the Heart

In the Heart

Earlier this week a friend called and during our conversation, she mentioned the weather forecast called for beautiful weather now and the foreseeable future. I explained it was overcast in Tennessee and rain was expected the next several days. The conversation then turned to something she needed to talk about and as I listened it dawned on me that my outside weather was cloudy and rainy and this mirrored her inside on a certain subject.

I hoped my advice helped, at least in part, to help the clouds to dissipate and for her inside and outside to match. The experience was a reminder that we carry seasons, weather in our souls. There are times and places where things are clear, warm, light, easy. There are others where our spirits are dark, overcast, dreary and difficult. Wisdom helps us monitor, adjust, and accept our inside forecast. We change what we have the power to and trust that even the worst of our inside days do not last forever.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Junk Path

Image result for dumpster on truck

Junk Path

This morning I had an early meeting. I loaded up my truck and began pulling out of my driveway. As I neared the end of it I noticed a truck carrying a refuse container coming in my direction. I didn’t have time to jump in front of it and as it passed I sighed. I didn’t want to be stuck behind this behemoth. I thought about the way I needed to take and realized the Refuse and Recycle Center was the way I was going. In other words, I was going to be behind the truck, carrying the container, almost the whole trip into town. Sure enough, every turn, stop, flashing light I encountered the truck was directly in front of me. I followed it to the junkyard.

As I drove powerlessly behind the truck I thought of myself and others who have, at times, been on a junk path. Poor choices, bad decisions, oversized egos, revenge, remorse, not listening, not paying attention, ended in a bad place and a life that wasn’t balanced or centered. There were good people who tried to warn us, wave us off, show us another, better way but we stubbornly stayed on the path to demise.

Wisdom, it doesn’t do us any good if we fail to follow its lead and travel its path.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Deflated

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Deflated

Yesterday I received a frantic call from Beth. She had an important appointment and when she walked out of her place of work she noticed her passenger’s side tire was flat! Fortunately, a co-worker let her borrow her vehicle. I hopped in the truck and went to replace her deflated tire with the spare. When I arrived it was completely flat. I’m not sure what she ran over but I soon had the car ready to drive, or so I thought.

After I let the jack down I noticed the spare was low. It was almost flat. I began thinking about it and we’ve had our car for almost 8 years and haven’t had to change a tire. So, the spare has stayed in the back of our Honda for eight years losing pressure over that long time. I told Beth I would drive the car home while she took my truck to run an errand. I stopped at the first gas station with an air pump and filled the spare tire with air. I made it home safely and we’ve contacted the tire store to let them know we’d be coming soon.

Feeling deflated, being deflated can hinder our journey on the road of life. Sometimes we know why we’ve lost our drive, maybe life’s normal wear and tear or a tragedy, difficult time we are going through. Other times deflation takes us by surprise and one day our get up and go has gone and can’t be located. Wisdom teaches us that in these times asking for help, allowing someone else to fix or temporarily repair what impedes us is needed and appreciated.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Tender Touch

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Tender Touch

I washed a friend’s hair today. That’s a sentence most people don’t type often. It was an interesting experience. Washing my hair isn’t nearly as exciting. I think it’s because I don’t have much hair but also because I do it almost every day. I know how hot I like the water, the amount of shampoo I need, the best way to move my hands and arms so I can do a good and quick job, the pressure it takes to get my head and hair clean but not so hard I hurt myself. When washing another’s hair you aren’t sure about any of these things so you are more hesitant, you listen to their instructions intently, careful you are cleaning their head and hair but not scrubbing their scalp off! I did a decent job, spilling some water on their shirt, needed more shampoo because they actually have hair, but overall they were a satisfied client.

Human interaction comes in all shapes and sizes. We connect with each other in a variety of ways. Hopefully, we come out the better for it afterward. Often we take these joinings for granted. We interact with each other and forget how important these linkings are to who and what we are and become. It’s a delicate dance to make sure we don’t violate each other’s space and move together allowing each one to lead and follow, instruct and listen, b secure enough in the relationship to simply be or change entirely.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Beneath

Image result for fire ants rotted wood

Beneath

Today I was tearing down an old wooden, raised flowerbed that was built many years ago. It was mostly rotten and needed to be removed. I was on my hands and knees prying apart a corner and noticed the wood seemed to be moving. Looking closer I realized there was an ant bed behind the wood. If you know anything about ants it is that they’ve noticed you before you notice them. This was true. I looked and they were on the sleeves of my shirt and hands. Fortunately, I was stung only one time. I quickly stepped back and brushed myself off. It was amazing to watch how quickly they went on the defense when under attack. There was no discussion, no plan, just instinct and getting rid of the intruder.

I know people this way. They are quick to attack, slow to find out what’s happening. If they even perceive that someone is going to be a threat they become defensive and hostile.  Some people attack themselves. They are more critical of their life than any critic would ever be. Others’ aggressive style protects themselves from getting hurt.

Wisdom teaches us that this is not the way to live with ourselves or others. We are to be patient, kind, grace-filled, faithful, hopeful, and loving with everyone, including us.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannbesaint.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

Single Moment

Single Moment

One of my favorite wisdom quotes is; “All we ever have is this present moment but if we do it right, it’s all we need.” Moments in time are what life is made up of. If we mindfully put enough of them together there’s a life worth living.

About an hour ago I needed to drive into town and pick up some medicine for my wife who has a nasty flu bug that’s been making the rounds. On the way home I was stopped at a traffic light where two lanes merge into one after the light turns green. There was an elderly woman behind me who must’ve just come from the beauty shop. She stopped before she needed to and was blocking traffic from both lanes. I looked in my mirror and watched her as she admired her hairdo. She played with it, flicked it with her fingertips. She was enjoying her hair and herself. Behind her was another driver who wasn’t enjoying the display. She wanted to get into the other lane but couldn’t because the beauty queen was lost in her own world.

Here’s my question; “Which one was living in the moment and which wasn’t?” Part of being mindful is the awareness of the creation around you but it’s also enjoying the little things which can make a big difference. Was I being mindful as I watched the two people in my mirror? Did I miss something because I was “rubbernecking?”

Each moment is special, unique, never to be repeated. Finding the center, the stillness, the focus of not focusing takes the journey of a lifetime. I’m still learning but aware enough to know there are things I need to know.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Sweeping Up

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Sweeping Up

This past weekend my wife and I were going to do some needed cleaning. However, as the weekend wore on we both discovered motivation was lacking. I told her I would vacuüm the house one day this week and today was it. I began with a simple vacuüm across the floors but then noticed there were dust bunnies under a piece of furniture. I grabbed the broom and swept up the dirt only to discover there was more than I thought. Getting down on my hands and knees I swept all the way back and to the sides. There wasn’t a dust bunny it was more like a family of rabbits. I then began to do this to all the furniture and; “Wow!” The vacuuming chore took more time than I anticipated because of the extra work required. Real cleaning is a whole other level of commitment.

As I swept up all the little furballs and removed and returned furniture back to its original place I reflected on the need to deep clean our minds and spirits. It’s not too difficult to do a quick surface sweep but to get down to the hidden dirt and grime that reside in the dark places we must be willing to be uncomfortable and humble.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Watching Over

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Watching Over

This afternoon I ran into a store to grab something I needed. The place didn’t have the item so I exited the store. As soon as I stepped outside I could hear a toddler screaming. I looked and the mom, clearly at her breaking point, was fussing at a small boy and neither was getting the better of the other. Finally, the mom, who was waiting for the dad to come out with keys told this boy and his sister who was standing beside the grocery cart watching the scene unfold, to wait while she ran into the store. I sat and watched as she left both toddlers by the car and began to walk inside. I couldn’t leave. I thought to myself; “Someone has to watch over these kids.” Suddenly the little girl bolted towards the mom who was inside the store by now. I tried to watch over both of them making sure no cars were coming or that anything else would happen to them. After a few moments, the mom emerged holding the hand of her daughter walking toward the boy who had only gotten louder when mom disappeared leaving him in the cart. I left knowing they were safer than when they were alone.

This post isn’t about how bad the mom handled the situation. I’m not a parent and have no idea what its like to have children wanting, needing, things all day every day. It’s about helping others, watching over them, caring enough to protect even if the parties don’t realize you’re there. There are times in our lives when all of us need someone to watch over us.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Go Your Own Way

Image result for side seat driver

Go Your Own Way

A friend of mine told me a story yesterday and I told her; “That would make a good blog post!” So, here goes…

My friend had a procedure done yesterday and needed someone to drive her home from the doctor’s office and to any other place she needed to go. However, on the way to her appointment, my friend’s friend was telling her to go and drive a certain way. On the way home, when my friend’s friend was driving she did the same thing. Because they are good friends and can tell each other almost anything they quickly made a deal. They agreed to allow the other person to drive the way they drive and to go the route they wanted to go. The one who was the passenger would only be a passenger, not a side seat driver. Problem solved. My friend made the comment; “She goes and does her way, I go and do mine. As long as we get where we need to go, the other stuff doesn’t matter.”

I’ve reflected on this story for the last two days. We live in a world divided. People argue and end friendships over big and small things. It makes me wonder why we can’t agree to disagree. We don’t have to be enemies with those who challenge our beliefs, think differently, walk another path, find peace and do kindness different from us. What matters is we all get where we need to go.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Grounded, Simple, Generous, Controlled, Joyful, Present

Image result for taoist thought of the day

Grounded, Simple, Generous, Controlled, Joyful, Present

The contemplative life isn’t hard to understand. Most of the teachings can be learned in a day but they offer a lifetime of wisdom.

A few moments ago I was sitting on the porch basking in the sun. It was wonderful. I had brought my phone with me but not sure why. I laid it down beside me and closed my eyes. It’s warm for the month of January. Yesterday it was cloudy and cool but in that present moment of sitting on the porch, the skies were a brilliant blue. Our Siberian Husky was sprawled out on the driveway, not a care in the world. As I embraced the beauty and warmth my attention kept going to the phone. I knew there wasn’t anything on it I needed to read or respond to but the fact it was there distracted me.

This is why simplicity is important in the contemplative life. Everything we own, invest our ourselves in, give our passion, energy and time takes a piece of us. The more we have in our lives the less contemplative we are able to be. Letting go of all that is superfluous allows us to focus on what’s important while the fluff floats away.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Wrinkles

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Wrinkles

This morning, per our routine, I ironed Beth’s clothes as she was getting ready for work. I turned the iron on and then took the dog outside. When I returned to the clothes that needed pressing I began to run the iron over them. My mind was elsewhere, on things I needed to do today, and so I didn’t notice the wrinkles weren’t being removed. When I finished I held the dress up to look at it and it was still full of wrinkles! “Argh!” I grunted exasperatedly.  I checked the iron and it was cool to the touch. I looked at the lights on the iron which indicate the amount of heat that is being emitted and then noticed the automatic off had been activated while I was outside with the dog. I had been gone too long.

Today is my birthday. The older I get the more I understand there’s always going to be wrinkles in my life, imperfections. I’m never going to be perfect and that’s okay. There will be days I get it right, on time, with no mistakes and other days when I wait too long, mess it up, wonder why I keep trying. Such is life and I am doing my best to live it.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Non-Action

Non-Action

Today was busy! I know for some it was a holiday but my schedule was stuffed! The day started early and it felt like a sprint to the end of it. I don’t mind busy days most of the time because it keeps the time moving and there’s no boredom to fight off.

On the other hand, my wife had a holiday. Today is Martin Luther King day and she was able to sleep in, keep her PJs on and enjoy a wonderful day of doing nothing, purposefully. She’s been incredibly busy since November of last year and a day home, without me!, and zilch on her schedule was what she needed.

There is a thin line between balancing a healthy life or action and inaction. Our chaotic world and its need for non-stop entertainment, to-do lists, places to go, things to experience, can set a pace where eventually we burn out, fall apart, or both. We need to know when to stop, take our foot off the gas and be still; not just emotionally and mentally but physically.

Knowing, sensing, its time for a break, a rest, a lazy day is an important sense to develop and put into practice.

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

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