Blog Archives

Attitude?

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Attitude?

I was part of a conversation today where someone suggested another person, not present, had “an attitude.” It was news to me. I’ve had several encounters with this person and never picked up anything other than pleasantness. I’m also the first person to admit that I’m not the best at noticing.

When I was interviewing for a position in the mid-2000’s I felt like everything went well but Beth had a “feeling” about one of the members of the group who were in charge of filling the position. Sure enough, though I accepted the position, this person was a thorn in the staff’s side during my brief tenure.

I believe in looking for the best in the people I know, meet, work and live with but also old enough to know not everyone gets along, like each other, has compatible personalities. There are people you’d stop and help change a tire but wouldn’t go on vacation with or spend extra time with unless its necessary. I don’t think this has to be a negative trait but a truth we should respect and recognize in each other and ourselves.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Spoiler Free

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Spoiler Free

I spoiled a television show for someone. I didn’t mean to. We were listing what shows we liked and followed and she mentioned one in particular. I told her it was a good show and the way she talked about the episodes and the people and certain situations I thought she was on season two when in fact she was still working her way through the first season. I said; “Can you believe he killed that guy?” and all I received in return was a blank stare. My stomach dropped and I knew what I had done and there was no way out of it. “I am so sorry. I thought, from the way you were talking, you knew this! Again, I am so sorry!” She said it was; “okay” but I know from having television or streaming shows and movies spoiled for me it just isn’t the same when something shocking happens and you know its coming.

I was talking with another parent a couple of weeks ago about children. We agreed that life is anything but a spoiler. Twins, raised in the same way, can turn out completely different. Situations, events happen to one group of people and they all react differently. We are in every way a unique creation never to be repeated. Yet, at times, we give out advice like we know what’s going to happen. A person comes to us with a problem and instead of listening and simply being present we say; “Oh! That’s happened to me. Here’s what you should do.” We think, speak and act as if we have the answers to a problem we’ve never encountered before.

Wisdom teaches us to be careful with advice and to respect the one of a kind journey we all travel together.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Gathered Together

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Gathered Together

All over the world today youths and people of every color, creed, and nationality, clergy, organizational representatives, politicians, movie and music stars, are gathered together to protest gun violence and by their voices and presence hope to convince those who have the power to do something about people dying. You don’t have to agree with their position to respect their right and motivation to come together and show their solidarity and support. In this crazy, mixed up and messed up world at least they are doing something.

“Decisions are made by those who show up.” -Anonymous

It is amazing what a group of people, gathered together, with peace, justice, kindness, and determination can accomplish. Too often we sit on the sidelines and voice our opinions, make fun or mock those who think differently than us and are doing what their heart, emotions, and spirits, say is right and good. Perhaps we’ll make mistakes, maybe our ideas aren’t totally thought out and ordered. However, can you imagine an international movement where everyone decided to take action, do good, seek justice and change the world for the better? I can.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Protests

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Protests

Yesterday, almost one million students across the United States of America, walked out en masse to protest school shooting and the inability of adults to agree upon how to make our schools safer.

There were two types of protests that were happening. One was #walkout which encouraged students to leave their school classrooms and #walkup which encouraged these young adults to find someone who seemed to exist “on the edges” and talk with them eat lunch and begin a conversation that hopefully would develop into a relationship. I supported the #walkout and the #walkup protests and thought both had merit and could change lives. Neither was a perfect way of protesting but each one was worth doing.

However, I noticed that many folks were for one or the other. Not many looked for balance in the two approaches. Students were either labeled #walkup or #walkout. It seemed not much conversation was happening between the quickly diverging groups. This made me sad. The reason the students were protesting is that adults can’t talk to one another, find a compromise, work together on behalf of our nation’s youngest and brightest. Now, it was happening again.

I am sick of litmus tests that divide us as a nation, community, and families. I am tired of people not being able to listen to one another even if we do not agree with the other. There is almost always a middle way where we remember we’re all human, deserving of respect and kindness instead of disdain and meanness. Perhaps one day we will realize we have more in common than what we allow to tear us apart.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Investing

Investing –

This morning I had a meeting with another community organization. I was presenting a new opportunity to work with fathers in our area and hoped they would help us. I have presented ideas, data, skills and a host of other information, to more organizations and ministries than I can count. I’ve never been asked to leave or had a bad experience but have had the occasional person I was talking to be looking at their phone, out the window or at their watch. Those presentations and discussion following seem to drag on forever. I’ve also had the organization be excited about the opportunity to partner with us. Most, however, are somewhere in the middle.

Today’s meeting was the exception because the woman whom I was meeting with was excited and had some great ideas as to how we could make part of our plan work at her location. She paid attention, listened intently, took notes, asked questions and made me feel welcomed and not rushed to finish so she could start doing something else. In other words, she was fully present in our time together. It was awesome.

It was a great reminder the difference we can make in other people’s lives if we invest our time, our kindness, our respect, and our lives in theirs.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Wasted Minds

Wasted Minds

This has been a tumultuous week following the shooting at Parkland High School in Florida. People have chosen sides on the gun debate and have used this tragedy as an example as to why they are on the side of the angels. I’ve seen countless posts about gun rights and gun restrictions. I have posted my opinion on the gun debate on my blog in the last couple of weeks if you care to know where I stand on this cultural, moral and spiritual issue. Everyone has their argument at the ready. They grab screenshots, tweet, put a photo on Instagram, use memes, videos and Facebook are so full of posts on the issue it’s hard to find anything else.

I think it’s an issue which needs many conversations. There’s not an easy solution and anyone who thinks there is hasn’t thought about it enough. What doesn’t need to happen is more arguing over the subject. We are a divided people in our country and it seems every “Breaking News” headline on whatever channel we watch, or website we read, erodes our relationships with those with differing views more.

Whatever side we’re on, opinion we possess, idea we espouse, we should also respect and love our neighbor.  If we can’t then our voice is wasted, nothing changes and the world continues to go to hell.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

What Did You Hear?

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What Did You Hear?

Listening is an art form. It has to do with more than hearing words. It also hears silences, tones and the organizations of words into sentences and questions. Listening is wanting to hear what the other is saying and being willing for those words to impact, challenge, and change the listener. Listening is not, however, always agreeing with the other. You can listen and believe differently than what the other is saying but you listen out of respect.

A friend of mine a few weeks ago was telling me about a conversation he had with a dear friend and said; “It didn’t go the way I planned!” His friend became upset with the conversation. I asked my friend; “Did you ask your friend what she had heard you say?” “No,’ he replied, ‘Why?” “Because,’ I said, “She might have heard something completely different from what you were saying.”

It’s amazing but communicating with others is a combination of listening, speaking, processing, projecting, interpreting and understanding. When one of these is missing the connection with the other can be lost, disrupted and the moment can never be repeated.

Listening is a sacred act, do it well.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Right or Wrong?

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Right or Wrong

This morning I watched a political debate that quickly turned into a shouting, insulting, “I’m right and you’re wrong” diatribe from both parties. It’s disheartening to look at our present cultural landscape and realize not many people know how to talk to each other about things upon which they disagree.

One of the lessons I teach residents in my jail class is how to respect each other even if we disagree. We talk about eye contact (which may be while social media is the worst place to have a meaningful conversation), asking questions politely, consider your body language, what to do with your hands, monitor facial expressions, remember that listening is not agreeing and two people can be right or wrong about one subject. It amazes me that my jail students are often nicer, more respectful when discussing a difficult topic than many people on Facebook.

Hopefully, it won’t be this way forever. Debate and deep conversation are some of the values and pillars of a democratic society. I fear, however, perhaps we’ve gone too far and may never recover our civility.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Expecting

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Expecting

It is so had to do, acting without expecting. Two plus two equals four but life is not mathematics. One action does not necessarily equal an expected result.

Several years ago I was on staff at a large organization and following a particularly long meeting I was among a group of members talking in a hallway. The conversation didn’t last long but I said something in passing that hurt the feelings of a fellow staff member. I didn’t realize it until that evening when I received a long email about what I had said and done. It took me by complete surprise. I sent an email back immediately apologizing and promising to be more careful with my words and received another email outlining other things I had done that this staff member found irritating and insulting. Again, I apologized and began looking at my words and behavior to see if I could find all of these faults. I didn’t agree with everything this staff member wrote but I felt they deserved enough respect from me to pray for greater self-awareness in all my interactions.

This is why expectations can be so dangerous. We may know, or hope we know, our intentions as we develop and cultivate relationships, make our way with others along this path called life. We may not wish to hurt others or offend them. Our life can be about peace and kindness but it may not always be perceived that way. We must purposefully live well but not expect our lives to be beyond questioning. When we make a mistake or someone is hurt by something we have done, even if we believed we acted innocently, we seek forgiveness and restoration so that our lives match the intent of our hearts.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Others

Others

I had a conversation last week with someone about a person I used to know who got on my every last nerve almost every day. We talked about how this person, who probably had good intentions, didn’t have a way with people. In fact, there were many who repelled by his brusque personality and crude behavior. I relayed a story about a time he wanted to help but was unable because of who this person was on the inside and outside.

There were days I dreaded knowing I would encounter this man. It got to a point where this person was beginning to take up an inordinate amount of space in my mind. One day it dawned on me that I was spending too much time thinking about them and not focused on stillness of spirit. I threw on my tennis shoes, took a long walk, and hashed out in my mind all the things this person did and when I felt I had it all in a nice tight ball in the pit of my stomach, I took it out (metaphorically of course) and threw it away. I decided I would not give this one the power to make me crazy(er?) any longer. It was the freest and at ease, I had been in a long time.

We can’t and will not get along with everyone. Personalities clash, goals and visions collide, certain people and us don’t mix. This is okay as long as we treat them with respect, put some distance between us if at all possible, and never let them steal our inner peace.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannbesaint.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

Craving

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Craving

I had a surprise waiting for me in my workshop this morning. On a table where odds and ends are kept is a pail with a plastic top that’s full of rat poison. We’ve had a wet summer and this might be the reason the rats are keeping near the house. Whatever the reason I don’t want these varmints in or near us. Several weeks ago I bought the rat poison and placed some in strategic areas of the workshop. Since then I’ve found two bodies so I know it’s working. However, today, to my shock the lid of the pail with the poison had been eaten through and there was a rat size hole! I took the lid off and much of the poison had been nibbled on along with rat feces. Yuck!

I’m not sure why it was a surprise to me except that I knew it was poison. The whole point is that the rats smell something which entices them to eat. They have no idea its poison. To them, it simply tastes good. For me, knowing it’s poison means I wear gloves when I open it, place it in the desired area, and seal it tightly when finished. I wash my hands after I am anywhere near the stuff. The difference between me and the rat is I know it kills.

I reflected on this today as I finished up the yard work and came inside. Many of the things we crave; attention, respect, fortune, fame, come with a high price. Wisdom teaches us to not get caught up in the cravings. From our point of view, we wonder; “What’s the harm?” but from those who know, it’s a truth which could save our lives.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Attention

Attention

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

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

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

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

To Listen

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to Listen

I have a friend who had a tough conversation earlier this week with one of the leaders at her work. It was a conversation long overdue but oftentimes these are easier to avoid than begin. Part of the challenge is the fact that once a grievance is aired, it can’t be taken back. If the person is caught unawares the conversation can get uncomfortable, quick! Another risk is the recipient might also see this time as an opportunity to unload something they’ve been holding back.

However, this wasn’t my friend’s experience. Her perception of the conversation was that the other wasn’t listening. There wasn’t much feedback or input from the other party. They sat there, injected a few words, and then moved on to another topic before ending the conversation. My friend was frustrated because nothing was solved and the subject will have to be addressed again.

Wisdom teaches us that; “Listening is not agreeing.” Too often, when someone confronts us, challenges our way of thinking, we become aggressive and want to prove to them and our ourselves we are right in our thinking. So, instead of listening while they are talking, understanding and evaluating what they have to say, we are too busy planning what we are going to say next in our minds. We don’t listen and aren’t open to something that might be said which we need to hear. Even if, as we carefully and contemplatively listen, don’t find something we can at least show the other person what they say matters.

Listening is not agreeing but it is allowing the other person to be and have a worldview which might not be ours but is respected because we honor them.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Handle with Care

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Handle with Care

Today the Mrs. and I decided to reorganize the kitchen. We wanted to rid ourselves of extra cups, plates, tea brewers, cake molds and more. As a man who is married to a wonderful cook, I knew when we started I was on her turf. As I moved anything breakable a gorgeous pair of blues eyes watched me. There were times when I would bump coffee mugs, Lenox ware, and other fragile items and though I didn’t break them I could feel her cringe every time. We finally finished with what we could do together and she told me she would take care of the few remaining items. I am positive it was her not so subtle way of saying; “You’ve been in my space long enough!” I didn’t argue and told her if she needed me to say something. Not a word was uttered.

Honoring each other’s space is wise. Different people have different spaces but each should be entered and exited with care. I knew a minister who used to have a large personal space. When you’d go to shake his hand he would lock his arm and elbow and not let you get any closer to him. Recognizing that places and spaces are valuable to people allows you to add a layer of respect and makes a way for deeper, more intimate conversation and strong relationships.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Unique Approach

Unique Approach

Sometimes working with people can be exhausting. You think you’ve reached a turning point which will make all the difference only to discover that around the corner leads to a dead-end.

I was speaking to a group of dads today and explaining to them each family, similar to individuals are unique. There isn’t a one size fits all approach to helping people get well and healthy. It takes time, effort and a willingness to listen, get to know, build trust and a relationship. Only then are you able to guide folks toward choices which benefit them and those they love.

Too often we approach people and life with a predetermined way of how things should be. We allow our biases, judgments and limited knowledge to build a lens which distorts our view. If we are to be of real service to those we love, our neighbors, those in need ,we cannot skip over respect, listening, building trust and relationships. If we only have a part of the picture and proceed to “fix” what we believe to be the problem we may end up causing more harm than good.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Safe is Not a Place

Last night it was my privilege to give a group of dads a graduating certificate from our Incarcerated Fathers’ class. We began the evening by highlighting the previous twelve weeks and the core values we’ve learned as we walked this path together. Then each dad was called up to the front of the classroom and handed an official certificate stating they had completed the course.

I asked the fathers what they had learned over the last three months. Answers included; “how to respect others, communicate, control emotions, expressing emotions in productive ways, better understanding of how to love their children and family, self-awareness and the need to keep trying and not give up.” I followed by inquiring what they would miss about the class. One father stated; “Being with a group of guys and not worrying about sharing, someone judging, knowing we’re all on the same level trying to be better men and better dads.” For a man to express this in a jail, with a group of men he spends almost every minute of every day was huge and humbling.

One of the keys to listening, learning and changing is feeling safe and jail can be a dangerous place. In spite of being filled with people it can also be depressingly lonely. You keep to yourself, mind your own business and try not to get on the wrong side of anyone. You’re on edge constantly and never let your guard down. For a place designed to keep groups of people confined and secure, isolation and fear are ever-present.

Bring together a group of men who’ve seen the worst this world has to offer, living in a place they don’t want to be, put there by both their choices and the choices of others, plop them in a room and trouble seems the likeliest outcome. However, the opposite can happen if you treat them with respect, listen to their stories, see them as equals and commit to walk this part of their journey with them. Do this and friendships are formed, confessions are uttered, weaknesses recognized, worth is bestowed and people become more than what they believed possible.

We are all so very much alike. What unites us is far greater than what divides us. What we need is someone to help us feel safe, a person who makes us feel accepted, loved, appreciated, valued for where we’ve been and where we’re going.

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

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