Blog Archives

Exactly As It Is

Exactly As It Is

A few moments ago I sat outside on the edge of the porch and watched my Siberian Husky sniffing the ground. We have three families of rabbits, including little ones, and he has been stopping and smelling the area where they have been. The sun is out today. Its been hidden most of the week. There’s a nice breeze, blue skies with thick white clouds, the grass is an emerald-green. An almost perfect day. As I sat there I felt a splash of water on my leg. I looked to see where it came from and noticed a puddle and drops of water falling off the roof. For an instant, the moment was perfect until I noticed it. I sighed, not because of the splash but because my focus became what bugged me, not on everything else.

Wisdom teaches us to accept each moment exactly as it is; what we judge good and not so good, positive and negative, perfect and less than. The truth is; my moment on the porch was perfect with the drops of water, the splash, and the puddle. It was perfect because it’s what it was and my idea of perfection was what got in my way.

Life is a series of imperfect moments because we decide they would be better; “if…” Acceptance is one of the hardest yet most crucial lessons we must learn if we’re ever to know awareness and contentment.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Remains

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Remains

On Saturday, while burning some debris in the yard, I went to grab a stick which was near the fire but not burning. My intention was to put it in a more advantageous position. However, as I grabbed the still cool end of the stick a single burning piece of ash fell right where I placed my thumb. I quickly dropped the stick and began shaking my whole hand the way someone does when they burn themselves. For the past several days I have had a reminder of the encounter, a blister on my right thumb.

The blister is a reminder of the randomness of life. A second earlier or later and I probably wouldn’t have burned myself. In the same way, we often see the haphazard events of our lives. A moment before or after and there’s no car accident or more or fewer injuries in it. A doctor’s appointment a month or two earlier or later and a disease is detected or too far advanced to undergo treatments. A moment premature or delayed and we miss a relationship we cherish or disdain.

Whatever life brings our way there are remains that stay with us. Whether positive or negative who can tell? The most we can do is be aware, open to new experiences and cautiously protecting our souls.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

What Do You Smell?

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What Do You Smell? –

Yesterday morning I ironed a shirt for Beth to wear to work. This particular shirt was given to my wife by a friend who passed away several years ago. However, even after all this time, the shirt still smelled like our friend. The fragrance immediately brought back nice memories of her kindness, joy, love and grace-filled life. It’s amazing what smells can trigger. I have another friend who had a rough childhood and the smell of certain foods triggers terrible memories. Scientists say smell is one of the major components of remembering the past.

I’ve thought about the shirt Beth wore yesterday and I ask myself; “What would someone think of if a smell triggered a memory?  What smells would remind others of me?” One of the central lessons of wisdom is that everything we do leaves an imprint upon another. Good or bad, negative or positive, our lives leave a fragrance to those around us.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Testing, 1, 2, 3

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Testing, 1, 2, 3

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

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

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

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Teaching Peace

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Teaching Peace

Earlier this week I was talking with a man who has a confessed anger problem. He’s also been hurt by some people he trusted. The pain and rage of this betrayal occupy his thoughts and revenge is his stated goal. As we spoke with each other I explained to him that violence is not going to fix things. It will only make it worse for the man and his family. “Good mental health, the ability to process our emotions in a healthy, positive way will have a lasting impact on your family. Not choosing wisely will hurt you and those you love. I know the feelings are there and they’re eating you up inside but taking a path which doesn’t lead to peace punishes everyone.

Peace is a hard concept and discipline to put into practice. We live in a world which claims the right to revenge and paying people back for the harm they’ve caused us. However, if we stubbornly stay on the path to; “right the wrongs” done to us we will not find contentment but an endless cycle of violence and retribution.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Anticipation

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Anticipation

There is a noticeable lack of Christmas spirit in my family this year. It’s been a long year as my dad battled cancer and passed away on the first of December. The anticipation of Christmas coming has been replaced with a feeling of; “Is it over yet?” I don’t think it’s Christmas per se’ but we’re anticipating the end of 2017 and 2018 to begin.

Anticipation can be a dangerous state of mind, emotion, and spirit. For all we know, 2018 will be as rough, perhaps more so, than 2017. It’s not a pleasant thought but it is a possibility. This is why wisdom teachers discourage anticipation. Life rarely lives up to what we think, or wish would happen. It’s almost always different and this can be good or bad, negative or positive. When life fails to fill our desires suffering, pain, confusion can occur.

So, my family and many others wait in this no man’s land hoping Christmas will not be too difficult and 2018 will be a better, certainly different, year.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Redeemed

Redeemed

This morning my scripture readings included the 43 chapter of Isaiah. I had heard a selection of this chapter earlier this week at my dad’s memorial service. He mentioned these verses many times and one of his favorite words in this passage was the word; “Redeemed.”

To redeem means to; “compensate for the faults or bad aspects of (something), to gain or regain possession of (something) in exchange for payment.”

My dad wasn’t a perfect man. He had his habits, hurts, and hangups as we all do. Sunday afternoon, as my mother and I traveled back to her house after meeting the pastoral team who would do his service, I mentioned to my mom that for days all we heard was the good stuff about dad. She responded; “People think he’s a saint!” We both laughed and talked about the myriad of frustrating things dad did that aggravated us so much and the things we did that triggered him.

“The beginning of love is to let the one we love be perfectly themselves,
not twist them to fit our own image.
Otherwise,
we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”
#ThomasMerton

Remembering someone after they’ve passed is to try to hold the whole of them together in our hearts and minds. The good and not so good. The positive and the negative. The stuff we loved and the things which drove us crazy.

Loving each other isn’t about forcing someone to change to meet our expectations or being blind to their faults. It is allowing a fusion of imperfect souls to connect in a deeper way where; “love covers a multitude of sins,” a mountain of aggravation, a collection of experiences that allows each one to maintain their unique identity but also redeems both the loved and the lover and together they are better and greater because of it.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Transition

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Transition

Earlier this week I watched a powerful documentary on people being released from prison. It was a story of two men who were sentenced under California’s outdated and recently reformed Three Strikes Law. Simply stated the law demanded that any criminal who was arrested and found guilty three times received a harsh prison sentence often 25 years to life. After almost 20 years of being in place, the penal system and the citizens of California realized it wasn’t effective, led to overpopulation in the jails, severely impacted people of color, and left a trail of broken families in its wake.

The documentary follows two of the thousands of men who have been released for petty, non-violent crimes, after serving decades in jail. The transition for both of them was difficult, however, one was able to get back on his feet stay clean and sober, get married and be promoted in his job. The other man, who had a strong family and church structure, struggled mightily. Old demons such as drugs and mental health issues kept him unbalanced and unable to find his groove the way the first man did. At the end of the documentary both men were still out and making their way the best they could.

As I watched the film I couldn’t help but feel for both of these men. I work with men who are incarcerated and addicted. Addiction is a powerful force for evil and destruction. Incarceration can also be a doorway to a life of crime and recidivism but I’ve also seen men who learn how to make different choices so as not to end up in the same predicament.

Men who do three things greatly reduce their chance of going back to jail or getting back into their addiction. The first is having a positive home environment that might not necessarily be with their biological family. The second is a full-time job, a chance to do something and receive. The third might be most important and that is living a life around positive people, folks who will pull you up not drag you down. These three things, which most of us take for granted, will help men stay balanced, sure-footed, and on the path to a new life.

Psalm 121
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over you will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm, he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Free Zone

Image result for cell phone free zone

Free Zone

Today, on my way to an Incarcerated Father’s class, I was passed by a truck with one of those “How’s My Driving? Call 1-800——–” sticker. There was a number identifying the truck and another sticker I hadn’t seen before which declared the truck a Cellphone Free Zone. Of course, what was the driver doing? Talking on his cellphone. I found it humorous and was tempted to honk my horn and point to his sign but resisted the urge.

I didn’t call the “How’s My Driving?” number either but I did reflect on the thought; what if we had stickers or buttons, shirts or pants, that asked; “How’s my living?” “How am I acting?” “Hate Free Zone” “Racist Free Zone” “Anger Free Zone” even the dreaded; “How’s my driving?” What would people say about us when they called the number? Good, positive reports or not so good, mostly negative?

The truth is we are being watched, all the time, everywhere. Reporting numbers or not, the world needs to see more kindness, grace, and love.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Directions

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Directions

I was listening to a podcast earlier today and included was a story by the maker of the podcast about needing directions. He normally depended upon OnStar or a similar company for getting directions to a place he hadn’t been before. However, when he pressed the button which should’ve connected him to the service he discovered his subscription had run out. After many phone calls, credit card numbers, VIN numbers and a host of other hurdles he still doesn’t have service and doesn’t know what to do! The person telling the story is a funny guy and told it in a humorous way but you could tell it was also aggravating to him to put this much time and energy into it and still have nothing to show for it.

Each of us has a voice in our heads which tells us how to best navigate the path of life. For some, the voice is positive and good with directions. However, for others, the voice is negative and gives us directions which are wrong and we end up frustrated and desperate. These voices come from

These voices come from a myriad of places; people and places we grew up, mental health issues, trauma in our young or adult lives, being with an individual or group of people who treat us poorly. The voice can tell us We’re stupid, lead us to travel in circles never getting anywhere, or traumatize us to the point we can’t move.

Understanding where our voices come from and being able to identify if they are positive or negative can go a long way in making sure we are able to live a life of purpose and vision. If we have voices which aren’t good for us we can find others. Having a “subscription” to the right voices goes a long way in keeping us on the path toward health and wellness.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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

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

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

One Thought

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One Thought

Yesterday, a friend wrote on her Facebook page, to make sure you spell check political posts before putting them out there for the world to see. I commented snarkily; “How about not posting them at all?” To be honest, I grow tired of the division the current administration and media seems to thrive on and more tired of friends and family, people I love, choosing sides against one another.

Social media can be a great way to keep in contact with folks down the block and across the nation and world. It can be immensely helpful by giving people an opportunity to supply aid when natural disasters strike and notifying users around the world of prayer needs. I use social media for all of these things plus writing my blog. However, over the last year, there has been a noticeable trend towards nasty, mean and downright hateful posts and replies.

When I counsel men and couples on getting along with each other one of the disciplines I teach is the; “The Space in Between.” It is the understanding that between the action and reaction is a space. In this space, we decide how we are going to react and which consequences will come as a result. “The greater the space in between the better the chance of a good decision with positive outcomes. The shorter the space in between the better chance of making a bad decision with negative outcomes.

When it comes to social media I wonder if we shouldn’t reflect on the question; “Will this help? Build up? Bring people closer?

“No one regrets a harsh word unspoken.” -#Wisdom #Proverb

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Friends

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Friends

You are who your friends are, or show me your friends and I’ll show you, you. I was asked the other day if I had a lot of friends. I answered; “No.” For me, this is not a bad answer but it is a truthful one. I’ve never had a lot of friends, lots of acquaintances, people I know and say; “Hi,” to but not people I would consider friends. If you were to look at my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn profile, you would think I have thousands of people with whom I have a deep connection to. This is false. Online “friends” are fine but most of them are not close confidants with whom you share life.

I think the words friends is overused. Facebook didn’t start the overusing but I think it helped it reach its pinnacle. Each day I try to wish everyone on Facebook, who has a birthday that particular day, a “Happy Birthday!” Many days I recognize at least most of the names but other days I am at a complete loss as to whom I am writing a birthday wish.

The few friends I do have are wise people, not only smart but wise. They are spiritual mentors and people I’ve shared my journey with, the good times and what I’d label bad. They are folks who encourage me when I need it and call me on my BS, inflated ego, and the illusion of goodness I’d like to live in. They are also positive people. Not pollyannaish, pie in the sky, everything’s coming up roses people but truly positive. They help me believe when I am doubting, hold me when I am scared, help me get my bearings when I’m lost, and never give up on me. These are those who I trust with my life and when that’s the criteria, you have to and should be; picky.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Ripples

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Ripples

Yesterday I told someone about an experience in my life that happened several years ago. They were looking for an example of a certain subject and I had it. As I relayed to them the story you could tell they were surprised but also relieved that someone else had a similar experience that impacted their life. The basic question from the other person was; “Can good rise from bad? Is there a way to navigate a negative part of our journey that will ultimately lead to something positive?” What was interesting is that I didn’t answer their question and they didn’t seem to notice. I’m still waiting for the good, the positive to be revealed from my negative experience. However, what was more important to the person was not what resulted but that I made it through. This gave them hope.

Too often, when going through chaotic times of life we wonder; “Is there a rhyme or reason?” Then we meet someone who’s been through something similar and we are comforted simply by knowing someone who has survived. At first, we want to know how it all ends but we quickly understand each experience no matter how similar is different for everyone with incalculable resolutions. Our deepest desire is to know we are not alone, to believe if another made it through then maybe we can also.

 blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Thought

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Thought

When I woke up this morning my positive thought was; “It’s not Thursday!” Yesterday I had to go to the dentist and while there are times we must do things which bring us anxiety we can celebrate I am thankful I didn’t have to repeat the process today.

It’s also a beautiful day. Sunny with a few clouds. Temperatures in the low to mid-80’s. In a few moments, I will go and mow the grass. Some weeks, especially during the hot summer days, it’s more a chore than a joy but as the days grow shorter I will bask in the sun on my face and driving my little yard tractor.

One thought or several, can indeed change the way you see your day. I know in the future I’ll have to go to the dentist again. Soon there will be no need to cut the grass. By the look of the trees and their colors, the days will quickly be cold enough that even the sun won’t be able to warm me up.

One of the most positive thoughts, disciplines, we can have is focusing on the good each day brings and not the uncomfortable change which may come with tomorrow.

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”
Gospel of Saint Matthew 6:34, The Master

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Distress

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Distress

Yesterday I wrote about hearing the sound of a kitten but not being able to find it (Listen”  (https://thewannabesaint.com/2017/09/08/listen/). Today, I saw it for the first time. However, it wasn’t the way I wanted to be introduced. I was weeding near outdoor shelves and the weed whacker was on full throttle. Grass and dirt flying everywhere and when I was right next to the outdoor shelf all of a sudden the gray kitten (I now know what color it is) shot out from under the shelf running for dear life. I immediately turned off and put down the weed eater and went looking for it. Using my best “meow” and “here kitty kitty” I tried locating it to introduce myself and assure it wasn’t in any danger but no luck. It was in too much distress to come out of whatever hiding place it discovered. After I finished with the weeding I put out a little food and some water in hopes it will show up again. We’ll just have to wait and see.

A friend, who is a teacher, posted on Facebook that it can be difficult to reach students because of the trauma and distress they face in other parts of their lives. He lamented the impact a teacher can have because of the other challenges and difficulties his students are facing on a daily basis. I find this true in my work with men as well. Whether they are incarcerated, in a rehabilitation clinic, non-residential, divorced or living with mom and the children, most of these men have a painful story. They are impacted by their past experiences of neglect, abuse, heartbreaking home lives, and lack of positive male and female role models. These not only affect their current behavior but also wire their brains and condition their bodies to react in mostly negative ways.

What I’ve learned is that I can’t fix these men. It’s not in my power. What I can do is show them respect and kindness. I try to connect with each one personally. If I can establish a relationship built on kindness and respect amazing things can happen. I’m unable to help them all but I try and trust this is enough.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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

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