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Listening

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Listening

An elder monk was visiting a friend in the big city. They were walking down a street filled with people, vehicles, construction and a cacophony of noise surrounded them. As they were talking the elder monk paused and said; “I hear a cricket.” His friend raised an eyebrow as the monk went over to a section of the concrete sidewalk which had been carved out and filled with dirt and a small tree. Sure enough, after looking for a moment, he pointed out the chirping insect.

His friend was amazed! “How did you hear the cricket amidst all this noise?” The elder monk smiled and replied; “You hear what you are listening for.” The friend, still astonished, shook his head. “Do you have a coin?” his monk friend asked. “Here,” said the friend as he gave it to him. “Now, watch.” the monk ordered. The elder flipped the coin in the air and let it land on the ground making a tinkling noise. Several people stopped and began looking. “Do you understand?” asked the elder monk with a smile.

One of my favorite wisdom parables. It is a reminder that our lives are about listening to the truthful, just and grace filled voices and sounds in this world. Too often we allow the negative noise into our lives which drowns out the voices of God, nature and the sound of the spirit of each other.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Bad Things Happen

Bad Things Happen

I was listening to a webinar this morning which told the story of a mediator in Gaza (a small self-governing Palestinian territory on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, that borders Egypt on the southwest for 11 kilometers and Israel on the east and north along a 51 km border).

It was a story of how a boy who was abused had learned to read the moods of those who harmed him. With this gift, he knew when to stay home and when to leave. Finally, he was taken from his childhood home and placed in foster care. He blossomed, did well in school, went to college and became a mediator. He says it is his gift of reading people and their moods which make him a good mediator. “If I hadn’t gone through the difficulties of my childhood, I wouldn’t be a mediator today. It was the bad which I used for good.”

Such a great lesson to learn and know. There are times when “bad” things happen and we wonder; “why us?” Perhaps the challenges of life we encounter, if we allow them, can be used to help others. The good in the world often blossoms from the worst situations and seasons.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Labels

Labels

I was speaking with someone the other day about personalities, quirks, how people behave, why and how we label someone as “__________” and then put them in the cupboards of our mind as if who and what they are have been discovered.

I once interviewed for a job and part of the process was taking a personality test. The label put on me by the test seemed to fit but the more I looked at who I was, the more it seemed not applicable. What’s interesting was the interviewee gave me the job and told me his personality type. However, the longer I worked under him the more certain I became that he had mislabeled himself. Perhaps neither of us were correct but it cemented in my mind how we can label others or ourselves and think the labels tell us more than what only true connection and relationships reveal.

The person I was talking with earlier this week had placed a label on himself long ago and assumed it was a negative trait. I explained to him that most of our traits are neutral and mean a certain way we think or do things. “Don’t let a label define who you are or what you become,” I told him.

Good advice for us all.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Stuck

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Stuck

Yesterday afternoon I loaded the pick-up truck with the household garbage we keep in a covered area outside. I placed two bins in the back and another bag shut the tailgate and headed to the Refuse and Recycling Center. When I arrived I hopped out the cab, walked to the back, let the tailgate down and something furry jumped out at me! That’s not what happened but it’s what looked like was happening when the deceased mouse (pictured) plopped down on the tailgate when it lowered. “Whoa!” I screamed, initiating a strange look from another person who was throwing away garbage also.

As I looked closer I saw that it was a dead rat. I emptied the bin and discovered he was trapped by a hole in the bottom of the trashcan. He had wiggled his entire body out with the exception of his hips and hind feet. He died trying to escape the trash he willingly entered into. I used a piece of wood to pry him out of the hole and a thick piece of plastic to grab him and toss him in the dumpster.

As I drove away I thought about the choices each of us makes; good and bad, right and wrong, positive or negative. I tell the men I work with; “The choices you make today determine the man you will be tomorrow.” I also speak with them about how there are some choices which drastically impact them and those they love and care about. “Once you make certain decisions you forfeit the ability to be a good man to those who need you be that the most.”

Each of our actions has consequences. We must be careful not get stuck by the choices we make.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

An Example

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An Example

Earlier this week I was part of a conversation where someone began being critical of another person. These conversations usually go down hill quickly but instead, the one who was being critical stopped in mid-sentence and said; “I’m going to stop talking. I have a blind spot when it comes to this person. Too often all I see is the negative and that’s not fair to them.”

I admired this person’s self-awareness and self-restraint. Most people would blame the other for their bad mouthing, continue with their complaining until they couldn’t think of anything else deleterious to be said about the other.

Self-awareness is key to personal and community growth. Being cognizant of our own foibles helps us grow in our knowledge of self and gives others an example to follow.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Space in Between

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Space in Between

It is such difficult discipline; pausing before you react. A man I had worked with in jail has popped up at twice at a rehabilitation center where I lecture. It’s common to see the men I work with in one place again in another. Many who have addictions have a difficult road staying clean and multiple jail sentences and rehab stays are not out of the ordinary.

He spotted me before I saw him and made a beeline to where I was to say he was there. I asked him the question’ “What are you doing here?” and before he could answer I said; “Have you been making good choices?” He shook his head no and we chatted a little about what he’s been up to. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to talk with him following the lecture due to the tight schedule they keep at the rehab center.

In all my classes and one on one sessions, I talk about the discipline of; “the space in between.” It is the wisdom lesson that when something happens, an action, we have space between and before we give a reaction. The smaller the space between action and reaction the greater chance our reaction will be negative. The larger the space in between the greater the chance our reaction produces a positive result.

In a world where people too often speak and act without thinking, we are reaping a local, national and global community torn apart. We don’t stop and reflect on how what we say, what we do, has positive and too often negative consequences.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com
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The End

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The End

Today is the end of 2016. Fittingly it is a rainy, messy, lazy, stay inside type of day. 2016 has seemed to be filled with more bad than good, negative than positive, a seismic movement towards evil leaving good behind. Even as I write the last sentence images of natural disaster, murders, political theater in the absurd, and the death of people everyone knew and those who impacted lives on a less grand scale but no less important to the ones who still mourn their loss.

Also, as I blog this post it is my understanding that not everyone sees 2016 the same way. Some people had a worse year than what I’m describing and others a wonderful year full of blessings, answers to prayer and enjoyment.

My feeling of the year which has passed is a general feeling of woe for our country and world. Myopically 2016 wasn’t a bad year. Personally, I am still blessed with the most wonderful wife a man could be married to, a job that has seen a lot of changes but an enormous amount of good done for others, a house far from perfect but feels more like home each day, and cast of good people I consider my family and friends.

I continue to pray, hope and seek help for my Major Depressive Disorder and Anxiety Disorder. For the first time, I feel my meds, therapy, and personal recovery are headed in the right direction. The diseases I fight are not and will never be easy but having people who care enough to keep fighting with you makes the battles less scary and victory more likely.

So, here’s to 2016, may it rest in peace.  2017? Here’s hoping you’re better than I’m expecting.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Cat Near a Green Tin Roof

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Cat Near a Green Tin Roof

This morning I was letting the dog out for his business appointment and after I put him back in the house, something on the roof near our green tin topped porch caught my eye. It was a cat. This was a surprise because we don’t own a cat and I was unsure how he got on the roof. I; “Meowed” at it like most people do when the see a cat and it; “Meowed” back at me. I warned it as I was leaving that the Siberian Husky inside the house doesn’t take kindly to cats, squirrels, ground hogs, possums, or anything small and furry. It then turned around and disappeared to the other side of the roof.

Life never stops surprising me, catching me off guard and making the unexpected almost expected. I’m not sure what happened to the cat. I; “Meowed” when I got home this afternoon but to no avail. Maybe I’ll see it again, hopefully before our dog; Trooper does. The one thing I do know is life won’t stop being so unpredictable. Blessings and curses, good and bad, positive or negative, probably a lot of in between stuff, will keep showing up and sooner or later I’ll stop being so surprised.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Smoldering

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Smoldering

Sunday afternoon I picked up some branches from the yard, placed them on the fire pit, and set them ablaze. They burned for a while but not long because there were only a few limbs to feed the flame. With only a scarce amount of smoldering embers left I placed a large piece of wood on them and went inside for the evening. The next morning I took the dog outside and noticed the smell of burning wood and looked at the fire pit. The part of a stump I had placed on the glowing embers had burned all night and the piece of wood was almost gone. There was no flame, a bit of smoke, but the stump was slowly being eaten away. Tuesday evening I placed another large piece of wood on the second piece and this afternoon it’s almost gone. Even though a fire cannot be seen the smoldering ashes are still burning away at whatever’s been placed in the fire pit.

I reflected on the embers today and thought about a wisdom proverb;

“Anger is like a hot coal clenched in the hand, ready to be thrown, but destroying the one who grasps it.”

Anger is an emotion that almost everyone, at times, has trouble handling. Whether it’s a spouse, a child, a family member, friend or co-worker, there are people and situations which stoke the embers of anger within. As with every other emotion, anger is not good or bad but rather it’s the reaction to the anger that leads to positive or negative consequences.

When anger is held onto, smoldering, it can destroy us but when expressed in a healthy way can put out the flames, or the embers that burn inside.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Blown Away

Blown Away –

Earlier today, after mowing the back yard of the Loging homestead, I grabbed my leaf blower, leaned a ladder against the house and climbed up on the roof. Using the blower I cleaned off the limbs, leaves and gunk that had collected over the past couple of months. Carefully navigating our steep roof I made my way to each side, and with wind power, rid the roof of some unnecessary and unsightly junk.

Last night, I spoke to a group of men about emotions. We discussed how men have a difficult time showing what they’re truly feeling. “We often avoid our emotions, ignoring them, letting them build up and then releasing them in ugly ways with negative results. As men we must have a method of processing, showing and releasing our emotions in ways which do not harm ourselves or others.”

On the roof today I was thinking about these men and the need for all of us to occasionally have a fresh wind blow through our lives. A stormy and chaotic world can often leave debris, junk, littering our spirit and having the unnecessary and unsightly mess blown away is good for the soul.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Not Out There

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Last night we had our Spring 2016 certificate ceremony for our incarcerated fathers’ class; Inside Out Dad. For the last session I give them their certificates and we talk about what we’ve learned over the last 3 months. One of the key points I focus on is self-awareness. It is the realization that most, if not all, our problems and challenges start with us. I tell the men; “Self-awareness is like looking in a mirror and truly seeing ourselves. We are able to recognize the good, bad, positive, negative, things we do well and things which need improvement.” I remind them to move beyond blaming others for our present conditions, accept responsibility for what we’ve done and should have done, and take an honest look at who we are and what we’ve become. “Only when we truly know ourselves can we be and do better.

It’s a wisdom lesson for us all, a discipline which takes a lifetime to learn and practice, and one we can’t start soon enough.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Off the Rails

I was speaking with a friend the other day about how our thoughts can be our worse enemy. We get into a repetitive, negative train of thought and the tracks take us to bad places. We get down on ourselves, see no way out of difficult present circumstances, lose hope and despair over events and seasons we find ourselves traveling through. Our thought trains can run away with us, drag us to places our minds and spirits have no desire to go.

Taking a breath, slowing down our thinking, letting go of ideas, fears, anxieties is key. A wise proverb says; “Keep the front and back door of your mind open. Allow thoughts to come and go, just don’t serve them tea.” Mindfulness and wisdom teach us that often we cannot control thoughts popping into our heads but grasping and holding onto them is up to us.

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

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What Crosses Our Path

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Traditions, superstitions, are strange. Last night my wife boldly declared; “I’m not washing clothes tomorrow nor doing other house work because if I do it on the first day of the year, I’ll be doing it all year!” Being a fan of logic I thought; “Aren’t we going to be washing clothes and cleaning the house no matter what?” but I digressed and simply said; “Okie dokie.”

No matter your traditions, superstitions, predictions, resolutions, each of us are hoping for a good 2016. I do wish we had power over what’s going to happen but the truth is much of what will impact our lives is out of our control. Our real choice is what we’ll do when we encounter the good and the bad, the light and the dark, the positive and the negative when it crosses our path.

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

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Hit or Miss

There are those days when you; “hit the nail on the head,” and others when you hit the finger instead.

Yesterday evening I finished building two doors for an outdoor lean-to we use for firewood and other misc objects. Critters have been messing around in it and I needed something to keep them out. The project wasn’t hard but my focus was off and in a relatively short amount of time I smashed my finger and hand with a hammer. I was becoming frustrated both by being off target and the pain which was shooting up my arm. Finally, doors in place, I went inside, washed and looked at my damaged digit and hand. Each one had already begun to turn purple and I rolled my eyes at my incompetence. This morning I looked again at the doors and at my bruises. The doors looked nice and will last, hopefully, longer than the damage to my hand. I also thought about all the nails that I hit on the head, drove into the wood without any problem at all.

The path we travel will have it shares of twists and turns, bumps and bruises, obstacles and heartaches. The temptation when we encounter these is to close our eyes to all the good, what’s going right, the blessings and focus solely on what’s not working, hurting us, the negative, impeding our way. The choice to look around and see the fuller picture can be the difference between keep going or giving up, hoping or despairing, living or just existing.

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

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Defusing by Removing

Negativity is like a virus. Spreading, invading, permeating, controlling, manipulating and killing peace, contentment and stillness.

There are moments in our lives where we must choose to walk the path of negativity, strife, anger and hate or walk away, even if it’s from someone we care for and love. These aren’t easy choices and it isn’t necessarily a permanent departure but separation is a must.

Each of us have those in our life who are bitter, spiteful, malevolent people. They criticize, demean, hurl insults and can fill a room with enough emotional turmoil we either choose to enter into combat or retreat  to remain, regain, stillness and centeredness. It may bother us to make this choice, we may desire another way, but sometimes it’s our only option.

As much as we may want to help these rancorous ones make the connection between their malignant attitudes and a life littered with strained and broken relationships it doesn’t work. We know because we’ve tried. We still love them but sometimes we just can’t be near them.

Militant, hostile, antagonistic personalities take hostages, tries to make you a prisoner of the moment. You want to return fire with insults of your own, get even, pay back their vindictiveness with derision but, ultimately, no one wins these pitched battles because criticism, pessimism, nihilism, can’t be quenched or defeated. You can only keep it from detonating your spirit by removing the fuse, putting distance between yourself and the other.

I’ve had encounters with negative, spiteful people where my jaw hurts from clenching it shut. Being silent in the face of insult and ridicule can have a tremendous impact. It may take hours, days, to find balance and peace after a run in with someone hell-bent on bringing chaos into the lives of others.

Run ins with argumentative, belligerent folks will drain you, wear on you, and it’s easy to get sucked in to an uncivil, acrimonious, atmosphere that will scorch your spirit and burn out your emotions.

Wisdom helps guide us in discovering if we can defuse or extinguish the toxicity through acts of love, words of calmness or simply knowing when to remove ourselves from the poisonous environment.

blessings,
bdl

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