Blog Archives

Elephant in the Room

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Elephant in the Room

I was talking with someone earlier this week about a situation he is experiencing. He is forced to make a choice between one thing and another. It’s not a choice he doesn’t want to make. As he belabored the unjustness of the decision, listing the pros and cons, complaining about the consequences of each side of the coin, I asked him a simple question. “What’s the elephant in the room?” He paused and reflected. “What do you mean?” he inquired. “Dig deeper, past the choice and the consequences, what’s the reason you’re having to make this decision?” He was quiet, then took a deep breath and answered.  He had clarity. Like a man in a cloudy stream, only when his mind was still, did the water clear.

I once had a co-worker whose personality and mine didn’t click. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. It’s the way it is sometimes. He was in charge of employee evaluations. When we met in his office he read over my “grades” and was surprised they were all high. “I didn’t expect this!” he exclaimed. I sat there thinking; “You didn’t expect this because I’ve never had issues with anyone or any part of this job. The problem is you don’t like me and this colors everything.” We chatted and then I left thankful for my scores but still burdened by the negative relationship.

Wisdom teaches us to make sure we deal with the thing that matters not everything else.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Keep What Works

Keep What Works

This advertisement was in my Twitter feed this morning. When I was a pastor who had to prepare and deliver a message each Sunday I loved the times when after the service people would come up and ask a question, make a comment or even challenge something I said during the message.  It meant they were listening! I would listen to them and then discuss whatever was on their mind. At the end of the conversation I would often tell them; “Don’t take what I say as the truth. Go search for yourself. Find out if the all or part of the message is for you and keep what works and leave the rest.” I understood that depending on where we were on our path greatly determined what our minds, emotions, and spirits could process and apply at any given moment. Most of us have had the experience of someone excitedly telling us about something they heard someone say, or read in a book, and how it changed their lives. While we are grateful for our friend’s epiphany we also think to ourselves; “I’ve told them this a thousand times and they never listened!” It’s because they weren’t ready. The good piece of advice, the important life lesson we told them wasn’t ready to be heard.

Wisdom teaches us that many truths surround us presently. However, we can only perceive a few, if any, because we are unaware, distracted. The best news is that these truths are timeless and sooner or later they’re ready to be received and applied. Sometimes we become frustrated because we seem to be learning the same things over and over. We need to learn to give ourselves a break and trust that one day the truth we’ve been searching for will be received and kept because it works.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Invasion

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Invasion

The past few weeks there’s been an invasion of Middle Tennessee! The multi-legged, orange-colored, flying insects called Ladybugs. They’re everywhere and this morning they kept stealing my attention away from the pastor as he spoke from the Book of Saint John, chapter 12. They were collecting near every light fixture which was about 10 feet from the pews the people were sitting in. Every now and then one or ten would fly across the room landing on someone. One tried to use my neck as a resting place but he didn’t stay there long. I watched hundreds on one light fixture as they crawled around it seemingly looking for a way in. I am not sure if they were attracted to the heat or the light. Of course, once in it was nearly impossible for them to get out. They very thing they were after was actually a trap. They would die there getting what they wanted but not able to get out.

I reflected on the Ladybug’s fate and how it also mirrored our own fascination with those things in life which promise safety, warmth, and light. We become fixated on things which we believe will make life better, bring satisfaction and enlightenment only to find out once we’ve achieved or possessed them it was an illusion. Wisdom teaches that what is worth having comes to us. It is our humility, our acceptance that we are not able to control or manipulate love, peace, kindness and a grace-filled life that makes it possible for these to permeate our minds, emotions, and spirits and bring a unique warmth and light to our cold and dark world.

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

Cracked

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Cracked

My fingers have a nasty way of cracking and splitting open when I work outside during the winter in cold and dry conditions. Last week my thumb developed a big one. I had several days of work in front of me and it was becoming sorer by the moment. Finally, after arriving home from a trip yesterday, my wife “made it better.” She cleaned it with Peroxide, gently using a Q-Tip to get the dirt and grime in the crack, applied Neosporin to the affected area and then covered it with a Band-Aid to keep it protected. I repeated the procedure this afternoon and will continue until it improves.

Certain seasons of life can also wound us physically, emotionally and spiritually. We do our best to keep going but sooner or later we must pay attention to the hurt because if we don’t it will only get worse. At times others can help us heal and other times we can do it ourselves. Wisdom teaches us the important axiom; “If we can’t take care of ourselves we can’t take care of others.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Beneath

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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

What’s in a Day?

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What’s in a Day?

I was once asked by someone; “What do you want to do with your life? What are your plans for the future?” I was sitting outside, leaned back and thought for a moment and then surprising my interrogator and myself replied; “I’m doing it. I am content. I have no more plans.” My friend didn’t like my answer because everyone should have something they are striving for. How else can you measure life unless it’s by your accomplishments? As a contemplative wisdom teaches that days are measured by the moments when you are aware of your connectedness to all living things and that the universe is in every experience.

What would you do if today were your last? Martin Luther is reputed to have said, “If I knew the world would end tomorrow, I would plant a tree.” In other words, I would contribute to the beauty of the world and thus the universe. As Marcus Aurelius states in the quote, I would want to live my last day as I hope to live every day; “without frenzy, without apathy, without pretense.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Hearing is Believing

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Hearing is Believing

A driver slid off the road during a snowstorm. His cellphone was useless and so he walked until he found a house with an old mule munching on some hay near a barn in the backyard. He knocked on the door of the house and a farmer answered. The man explained his predicament and the farmer said he’d help. The farmer put on a coat, exited the house and walked over to the old mule, put a bridle on it and the three walked back to the car. As they were traveling the driver of the car wondered if the old mule could be of much help. They arrived back at the car and the farmer turned the mule around, attached the rope it carried to the car and to the mule and began yelling; “Go, Joe, go, Fred, go, Jim, go Barney!” The old mule pulled as hard as it could and the car slowly came out of the ditch and back on the road. The driver was amazed and thanked the farmer profusely! Before he drove off he had one question he had to ask the farmer. “Why,’ he inquired, ‘when the mule was pulling the car, did you yell; Go, Joe, go, Fred, go, Jim, go Barney?” “Well,’ replied the old farmer scratching his chin and then petting the mule. ‘Ol’ Barney here doesn’t see too good and I knew if he thought he was pulling by himself he’d never believe he could do it. So, I made him think he was on a team so he’d have the confidence he needed to get the job done.

Wisdom teaches us that we are never alone. Whatever the situation, it is never so dire that whether we can see it or not, the help we need is there to do what needs to be done.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Sharp

Sharp

Today is a wonderful, relaxing, rainy Saturday. A day where the tin roof on the porch sings; “Rest, take it easy, don’t worry about what can’t be done. Just be.” It’s the kind of day we all need more than “once in a while.”  We’ve lost the art of powering down, putting off things until tomorrow, sitting and letting go of schedules, to-do lists, and allowing our spirits, minds, emotions, and bodies to heal, recover from the hurry, harried pace of our lives.

Staying constantly sharpened can wear out the blade.” Wisdom teaches us to wait, enjoy the serenity, like a leaf in a slow-moving part of the stream. Sooner or later the pace picks up and life starts to quicken but for now, in this moment, simply soak in the stillness.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Enemies

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Enemies

I sat and talked with a gentleman yesterday about a disappointing experience which had happened to him in recent days. We spoke about turning negatives into positives and how what we might label as “bad” doesn’t have to be a continuing negative experience. “What you do with this extra time, a time you might not have wanted, but have been given will go a long way in shaping the rest of your life. This time is either a blessing or a curse and the choice is yours.”

We underestimate the moments and seasons in our lives that are unwanted and seem to be working against the goals and dreams we have for the present and the future. Wisdom teaches us that every experience can enlighten us, give us knowledge and wisdom, and take us further along the path of life we all are traveling.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Nothing is Lacking

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Nothing is Lacking

I was a part of a conversation this week where a group of people was giving a person advice. The advice was based on what the person had shared; a story of love and betrayal. On the wrong side of a bad choice is a terrible place to be and the person was fixated on how to either get over on the person who hurt him or get over it period. Two choices were staring him the face and he was going to choose either one or the other.

Decisions based on pain are almost always bad ones. We make these in times of stress, confusion, doubt, and loneliness. We feel as though we have lost something, had it taken away from us, and we want it back or rather life back the way it was or the way it should be.

Wisdom teaches us that suffering is the gap between how life is, reality, and how we think life ought to be. The greater the gap the more suffering. It is why learning to let go and acceptance are two of the greatest life lessons we can learn and practice. Life is rarely if ever, the way we want. Even if for a while it seems to be sooner or later it changes and we have no control over this truth. To live with open hand, to not try to grasp, force life to stay the same and allow for the inevitable change is to know and live in peace.

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

Silent

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Silent

I read an interview this week of an actress who was verbally attacked by a well-known director this summer. He insulted her current movie and her by proxy. Her response? She didn’t say anything. She kept silent in spite of the fact that her movie was one of the summer’s biggest blockbusters. In the last few weeks, she was asked why she never responded to the criticism of the director. She answered simply; “I didn’t want to give him the attention he was looking for.”

Two or three days ago a journalist began publicizing his book about the president. The book and the author weren’t at all flattering of the man or the job he’s doing as our nation’s leader. In response, the president responded with insults, negative tweets, threatening lawsuits and gave the author what he wanted most; more attention. I’ve heard even the most ardent supporters of the president question why he couldn’t leave it alone?

Wisdom teaches us to know when to speak and when to stay silent. If you’re wondering which to do a favorite quote of mine is; “No one regrets a rushed word unspoken.” The truth is we talk too much. We are too quick to defend ourselves. Most can’t handle a perceived slight. Our tongues and lips seem to be “at the ready” to do battle with whoever and whatever insults, belittles, or challenges our view of the world or ourselves.

Wisdom reveals that silence and patience are signs of maturity in those who have a strong sense of who and what they are as a person.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Reacting

Reacting

What are you reacting to? Such a wonderful and powerful question.

We live in a reactive world. Opinions, biases, judgments, loyalties, choosing sides, seems to be what everyone around us is doing. We don’t have to ask for someone’s thoughts on a matter before they tell it to us anyway. Social media is a primary culprit but I’ve heard stories of this happening in restaurants, gas stations, and grocery stores. People can’t shut up or stop typing. It is a wonder anyone can find interior peace when the exterior world bombards our ears with a cacophony of noise and words.

The space in between” is a difficult discipline which needs broader acceptance. Basically, it teaches that between the incident and the comment is the moment to choose our response. Between the action and the reaction, we have the ability to make the situation better, the same, or worse. In the immediate time following an experience we have the ability to make it more or less unstable.

Reacting, choosing, deciding, what our reaction to a stimulus will determine our destiny. Will we be thoughtlessly reactive, speak without considering, act without thinking about the outcome? Or, will we remember the “space in between” and so grace, kindness, and love?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Origins

Origins

In the last few days, I have developed a rash on my left hand. I don’t know where it came from but I only noticed it yesterday on the way to work. It doesn’t itch too bad but my hand is a little swollen. When she came home from work yesterday Beth looked at it and we tried to figure out what I had gotten into. There is, what looks like a bite, near the knuckle on my index finger. I haven’t been near any unusual plants or, as far I know, been bitten by anything. We began treating it last night with an anti-itch, anti-swelling cream and taking a Benadryl. It looks better today and hopefully will continue to disappear.

Since realizing I had the rash I’ve been lost trying to figure out what happened. It seems as if it appeared from nowhere but I know this isn’t the case. Somewhere, somehow I got infected but it doesn’t matter when it comes to treating it and monitoring it.

Wisdom teaches us that we will not always see new challenges and difficulties coming. There are times and seasons when things just appear and we must adjust our lives to it. Illnesses, financial struggles, job loss, people we love enduring suffering. We desire two pieces of knowledge we think will help us deal with these issues. We want to know why and how long. Why, how, did this happen to us and how long will it last before we can get back to normal. Often, however, we don’t have an answer to these questions but they shouldn’t stop us from accepting a new normal, adjusting to the unknown, and continuing to live while we recover.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Checking In

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Checking In

Yesterday afternoon a man wielding a machete walked into a local bank and took 9 people hostage. His intent apparently wasn’t money but the result of a relationship gone bad and most likely a mental health issue. The standoff lasted several hours into the evening. In the end, all the hostages were released. I didn’t find out about this situation until long after it had begun because I had taken a nap and read that was at a Chic-Fil-A several miles from where my wife works.

When Beth got home yesterday she was distant and I couldn’t figure out why. I asked her and she responded that everyone else at the bank had gotten a call or text from their significant other regarding the standoff at the bank but I didn’t check in to make sure she was okay. It hurt her feelings. After listening I told her; “Babydoll, I didn’t know it had happened, that it wasn’t at a bank or close to your location.” I could tell my reasons weren’t resonating with her. So, I apologized. I wasn’t sure what I was sorry for except she was hurt and this was enough.

Too often we don’t want to apologize, especially if we feel we’re in the “right.” Asking forgiveness is like pulling teeth when we can offer a defense. Wisdom teaches us that if another person is harmed we should feel empathy, sorrow and do whatever we can to ease the pain and heal the wound.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Protection

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Protection

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

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

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

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

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Vision

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Vision

Last night Beth and I watched the bio-movie; “The Founder”, starring Michael Keaton. It is the story of Ray Croc, the “founder” of McDonald’s, the world’s largest fast food chain. It is an interesting movie of how Croc took a hamburger stand, owned by the two McDonald’s brothers, and made it into a food empire.

At the beginning of the movie, Croc is a persistent, charismatic, but not completely successful restaurant equipment sales rep. While on the road he learns that a place in Bakersfield, California, has ordered six milk shake makers! He’s intrigued enough to find out what kind of restaurant needs this many and drives to their location. While there he sees the McDonald’s brothers “Speedy System” (where and how the workers are placed in the assembly area) and the unique layout of their restaurant which allows them to make “made to order” hamburgers in less than thirty seconds! Ray Croc is in awe and talks the brothers into letting him begin to sell franchises all over America. Initially, everything goes relatively smoothly but Ray Croc’s ambition, craving for money and fame, eventually drive him and the brothers apart. I won’t spoil the movie but it’s worth watching.

As I was reflecting on the story today I thought about vision and how it unites or divides people. It can be the vision of ourselves, family, community, church, organization, nation or world. Everyone has a vision of how things “should” be and some share the same vision while others oppose it. Competing visions can cause dissension and dissolution of connectedness and relationships.

Wisdom teaches us the more tightly we hold to our visions of things the more suffering we cause ourselves and others. Only when we are open and allow for the possibility of differing views can we be at peace with ourselves and others.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Wrong Way

Wrong Way

This morning, on my way to Bedford, Tennessee, I took a wrong turn, went the wrong way. It wasn’t the wrong street. I knew exactly where I was, where the road would take me, but today was the wrong time to travel it.

Some way, somehow, I missed the; “Road Work Ahead” sign. About a quarter of a mile down the road I had to steer around a large road roller. Then I came upon a road grader who was spreading sand. The sand was thick and difficult to drive through. Then, around the corner, there was a dump truck, in the middle of the road, putting sand on it. I stopped and realized I had made a mistake making the turn and traveling this road. I turned around in someone’s driveway, made my way past the grader and the roller and back to the main highway. I reset my GPS and continued on road less impeded by giant machines.

Wisdom teaches us that not every way, even the familiar ones, are always open to us. Some roads are closed off to us and missing the signs can make the way difficult and dangerous.

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

Carry

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Carry

One of the hardest things we do on the path of wisdom is to discover we are not all-powerful, all-knowing, all-wise. From the time we are born, we are learning. It might be good, positive lessons, not so good, or, most likely, a mixture of both. As we get older we hopefully begin to separate the good from the not so good. We learn that there are lessons we need to relearn and others we simply need to forget.

One of the most important lessons is we are not meant to carry the mountains we climb. Each of us deals with challenges, struggles, and difficulties. Some navigate incredibly tough paths because of what they endured as children, adolescents, and adults. The climb to the top of the mountain, to overcome these negatives is a great success. However, once the top is reached the question is asked; “What now?” When all you’ve known is pain and heartache it becomes a part of you. Reaching the mountain top doesn’t bring the joy and relief expected.

Unfortunately, some, instead of descending the mountain and continuing on with the journey now free of great burden pick up the mountain and carry it with them. The mountain has become a part of them and to separate from it is like breaking off a piece of themselves and leaving it behind.

Wisdom teaches us how to climb, how to descend and how to let go. It may still feel we are leaving part of ourselves behind but we trust our journey will take us to a place, a discovery of our new selves.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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