Blog Archives

To Think

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To Think –

I am currently teaching a men’s class on Wednesday evenings in a city that’s an hour away from home. This means on Wednesday afternoon and evening I have a bit of time on my hands. I spent most of it yesterday talking with fathers on the phone. A couple of hours to myself gives me time to think about my day, week, schedule and the materials I will be teaching and how the class went on the way back.

Thinking is a balancing act for someone like me with a Severe Anxiety Disorder. If I’m not careful thinking can turn to rumination and going over and over a situation, interaction, occasion in my mind. I described it one time to my therapist; “My over-thinking is like bubblegum. You chew on it and for a while, you get something tasty. Soon, however, all the flavor is gone and you’re chewing a piece of wet rubber.” I try to be aware of my thoughts and if I’m fixating on a particular subject. When I catch myself I turn on the radio, a podcast or music.

Wisdom tells us; “We cannot stop thoughts from entering the door of our minds
but we do not have to serve them tea
.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Good Looking

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Good Looking

I heard someone say the other day that a person needs to be good-looking in order to see. I liked that turn of phrase. Often we think of being good-looking as being, handsome, pretty, “easy on the eyes.” We think of it as someone looking at us and thinking we are attractive. Much of our culture is obsessed with being perfect, interesting, and wanting others to think good about us. To be good-looking is the goal when we are focused on ourselves.

Let’s turn it around. What if good-looking was about finding the positive in others and in our world? What if good-looking was a concept we took to heart and a discipline we developed? What if we stopped being concerned with whether or not others found us, our lives, attractive and we started finding the unique beauty inherent in almost all things? Our world would be transformed if we thought and focused on others more.

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” #CSLewis

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Beholder

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Beholder

Yesterday afternoon I attended a picnic organized by our company and given to the families who work with us. It was hot, however, with a few fans moving the air around and cold drinks the pavilion was almost comfortable. We had different games for the kids but one of the favorites was the sidewalk chalk.

I noticed a little girl drawing by herself so I bent down, picked up a piece of chalk and began drawing with her. “What are you drawing?” she asked. “A heart!” “Okay, let’s do that,’ she replied and began drawing. I drew a heart with an arrow in the middle. Anyone looking at it would’ve been able to guess what I had drawn. Then I looked at hers. I couldn’t tell what it was and when I asked she said; “A heart!” and she would’ve added “Duh!” if she had known the word. “Oh!” I responded. I couldn’t see the heart but she could. She was the artist, she drew the picture in her mind and it was exactly what she wanted. It wasn’t her fault I couldn’t see it.

Wisdom tells us to admire those whose lives are not like the others; the mystics, saints, vagabonds, ragamuffins, artists. The ones who challenge our way of seeing, thinking and being. If we stay in our standard, normal worlds and never see through the eyes of those different from us we will never truly see the world and others.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Putting Up with Each Other

Putting Up with Each Other

Today is my wife Beth and my anniversary. 28 years to be exact. There are days it seems like only yesterday we said; “I do’s” and others where I wonder; “what happened to those 19-year-old kids? What were they thinking? Were they thinking? Did they understand the journey they were about to embark on?

I told Beth today; “I don’t know how you put up with me.” Some husbands and wives jest in this way but Beth knows how serious I am. Reflecting on that day 28 years ago, a hot June day in 1990 when we met at the church to say our vows to each other there is a realization I am not the person she married. Somehow Beth has grown into an even more beautiful woman inside and out. People love to be around her. Her personality is infectious. Her smile draws people to her and her spirit makes them feel welcome and loved. She is, by far, the better half.

This other half has walked a long, hard part of the journey these last several years. The struggle with, diagnosing of and living with severe chronic depression and severe anxiety have taken their toll in certain areas of my life. However, I have been blessed with a partner who meant it when she said; “for better, for worse, in sickness and in health.” I could not ask for nor deserve her love, patience, perseverance. I tell her this regularly and she reminds me she’s far from perfect.

We’ll stay on this road together’ she says, ‘putting up with each other.” Sounds good to me.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Other People’s Drama

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Other People’s Drama

At one time during my adult years, I came across a quote that read; “An emergency on your part does not constitute a crisis on mine.” I don’t remember where it was but the quote has stuck with me.

There can be an almost irresistible draw when someone has a juicy piece of gossip or wants your opinion about a situation they’re facing. Before you offer your “two-cents” remember that once you pass through that door, enter yourself into other people’s drama, it may be impossible to get out. A couple of weeks ago I had a friend who was starting through the drama door and I reminded them; “make sure its worth it.”

The main issue with other people’s drama is there’s often a side to take, a team to join. This is usually the reason a person tells you about issues and problems in the first place. They want you in their corner. We puff ourselves up thinking; “They need our help. Our advice. Our support.” However, what they mostly want is someone to affirm them in the decisions they’ve already made.

I’m not telling people to not listen, empathize with others who need help, a willing ear or even a hand to pull them up but to understand that sometimes what people want and need are completely different things. Be aware and wary.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Remember

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Remember

This morning, as we were both getting ready for the day, Beth exclaimed; “I remember!” “Remember what?” was my response. She reminded me that she had misplaced something yesterday and it dawned on her where that place might be. To be honest I had already forgotten she had lost it. However, Beth hadn’t forgotten and had been thinking about it since it turned up missing.

The situation reminded me of the three stories Jesus, the Master, told of things missing; the coin, the sheep, and the son, in the Gospel according to Saint Luke, chapter 6 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+15&version=MSG). In these tales, a woman loses a coin and tears her house apart until she finds it. A shepherd loses a sheep and leaves the herd to locate it and bring it home. The last one is about a spoiled son who leaves home gets a taste of the real world and comes back to a father who is overjoyed and thankful the son found his way home.

In all of these stories the one looking never gives up until what’s lost has been found. In our culture where it seems everything is disposable, it’s good to be reminded that not everything is for short-term use. There are “gots to have” “use every means to find” “never give up looking for” things that exist, are eternal. Wisdom helps us learn and helps us find these truths.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Lost in the Moment

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Lost in the Moment

This morning, before worship service began at church, a girl a few pews ahead of us was playing with a squishy ball. Even after the singing started she sat in her seat throwing the ball up in the air and then catching it. Wasn’t long before the inevitable was going to happen, it went flying to the pew and the people behind her. She retrieved her toy and began again. Eventually, her mother noticed and stopped her but for a moment it was just her and the ball. She was focused on that ball and what was next, what might happen, didn’t exist.

Later in the service, another girl was getting fidgety. The preacher was speaking too long and she was ready to go. So she began to mess with the window blinds, play with and drop things on the floor. Making her way around grandma’s legs she was in the aisle and had found a place on the floor that squeaked and clanked when she stomped on it. A boy sitting beside his mother took notice of the girl and slipped from his mom’s grasp to begin stomping on the floor as well. Two more, lost in the moment.

Consequences and outcomes are important. Not thinking ahead can cause great difficulty and trouble. However, there are other times when being lost in the moment, for a moment, can be a wonderful thing.

blessings
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Unexpected Places

Unexpected Places

Bikers that live in our area are not the most subtle folks around. You can hear their loud, screaming engines coming from miles away and can’t hear yourself thinking when they whiz by. The noise plus the obnoxiousness which comes from that “look at me, hear me, acknowledge my presence” of some who choose to ride these cacophonic bikes, amplify their exhaust systems, spew black smoke from their diesel engines gets on my nerves. There’s a part of you which wants to put all these drivers in the same negative category and be frustrated with the whole lot!

However, I came across this video today of motorcycle riders helping an elderly woman cross the street. None of the other drivers stopped to help her, some in factory normal vehicles were speeding past her on their way to someplace important. These guys decided to make sure she arrived safely at her destination. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7I7XUW4Co_c)

The video was a great reminder that categorizing, generalizing, labeling, putting everyone in the same basket is foolhardy and certainly not wise. Be slow to judge, we never know what’s happening “under the helmet.” After all, a lot of good in this world comes from mysterious and unexpected places.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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

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

What’s on Your Plate?

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What’s on Your Plate? –

This afternoon, at a county health council meeting, a speaker from Vanderbilt Hospital gave us a lecture on the importance of heart health. February is Heart Health Month so it was certainly appropriate. He talked about healthy eating even stating; “If it tastes good it’s not good for you!” That certainly got everyone’s attention. He softened the blow a little by following up with limiting the amount of unhealthy, high fat, processed, high-calorie food and increasing healthy choices. The speaker had arrived late and lunch had been served before his lecture. The food wasn’t what he’d call the best in choices but not the worst either. After he sat down and the meeting dismissed someone mentioned to the attendees that there was plenty of food left over from the lunch and to please take some home. I can only imagine what the speaker was thinking as he watched people make “to go” plates. It certainly is a difficult job to get people to think differently, choose differently.

One of the disciplines of mindfulness is mindful eating. It is the recognition that everything we put in our mouths comes from the world around us. It’s not just consuming but being aware that each piece of meat, every spoonful of veggies, a bite of fruit, is a result of the creation we all apart of, participate in and exist in intimate connection. Too often, however, we just consume. Not only food but almost everything in our lives is used and abused, grabbed and possessed, with no thought of creation or consequence to our consumption.

What’s on our plate is, and is more than, the food we eat but also what we allow to fill up our lives.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Where You Heading?

Where You Heading?

I’ve spent much of this week thinking about my past and considering my future. It’s always scary, wondering what’s around the corner.

I started two new jail classes this week. One of the first disciplines I teach is for them to consider their present and think about their future. The first part is necessary because it helps us take stock of what we’ve done, who we are, and how choices have led us to this place in our lives. After you’ve accepted where and who you are, then you decide if it is where you want to stay. “If you keep doing what you’re doing you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.”

Most of the men I work with tell me they want to make better choices, be better men and fathers but it’s not enough to want, action must be taken. Different choices must be made to be a different man and father. I explain that; “What you do today determines who you’ll be, what you’ll be, tomorrow.

This is true for all of us.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Hubris

Hubris

Hubris – excessive pride or self-confidence. synonyms: arrogance, conceit, haughtiness, hauteur, pride, self-importance, egotism, pomposity, superciliousness, superiority.

I watched a webinar today hosted by an esteemed professor on the role of genetics in the development of humanity both culturally and individually. It was an interesting presentation and clearly, the man was intelligent and dogmatic in his proposal. It didn’t take long, however, to realize the man was also proud of himself and said more than once; “This is the way it is and there is no other way.” He even went as far as to insinuate that if a person thought differently they were clearly not his equal.

This attitude has always rubbed me the wrong way. The thinking and feeling of someone else that they are superior to others. While it is true individuals may have more learning in certain areas than others it is usually because the other hasn’t put the time into the subject as another not because they are; “smarter.”

I’ve worked with and for leaders who have shown hubris, pride, arrogance. I’ve also worked with and for leaders who are humble. I have family and friends who fit both these descriptions. And, to be honest, I could rightly be accused of hubris on more than one occasion.

It’s an easy path to walk, the way of self-importance and self-indulgence. A wise person once told me; “Ego breeds ego.” In other words, no one wins when egos clash, but the fallout always brings pain and difficulty to many lives.

But I know that today many seek their way gropingly and don’t know in whom to trust. To them I say: believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it. #AndreGide

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Cleaning Out

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Cleaning Out

The last two days my mother and I have been working in my dad’s garage. It may be mom’s house but it will always be dad’s garage. We’ve been going through a lot of stuff which needed to be sorted. By the time we finished I had things to throw away, to keep and the garage was clean and organized.

It was a sad and enjoyable time rummaging through dad’s things. He loved tools and one could tell as we tried collecting them in one place. There was paint from projects long ago completed and recent work. Other items hadn’t been opened yet and we wondered; “What project was he thinking about when he bought this?

The garage was a sacred space for my father. None of us would’ve dared gone in and rearranged it before his passing. My mom said this morning; “I know it needs to be done but I don’t want to do it.” I understood what she meant. There was a sense of invading another’s domain, eery and holy at the same time. There were items we kept not because they were important but because we just aren’t ready to part with them.

I think this best describes our walk down the path this week. We know we must go on without dad but we just aren’t ready to part with him.

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

Your Last Moment

Your Last Moment

Last night me, Beth and some friends gathered around a fire and roasted wieners, shared how are weeks were going and then rushed inside when it started raining. There wasn’t anything earth-shattering about the evening but that’s what made it special.

Too often, while living in the present moment, our minds are busy thinking about the moments to come or the moments that have gone by. We are rarely present mentally, emotionally, spiritually, in the present moment.

To treat each moment as if it is our last is a difficult discipline but it starts with the understanding that the present moment is truly the only one available to us. The moments which have come and gone are no longer accessible to us. We cannot relive or change them. The moments which are ahead are unpredictable and not within our power to get to until they become the present moment.

This is why the present moment is so special and powerful. It is in this moment where life and all its possibilities and wonder exist. We miss it so often but if we can embrace it, cherish it, drain each ounce of precious promise out of it our lives will be enriched beyond our wildest dreams.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Found

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Found

I’m not sure which was higher today; the sun in the sky or the humidity. What I know is it was hot and sticky!

Today was my first summer class for incarcerated fathers. Passing through one of the checkpoints at t, e jail I saw a man who was in our spring class. “How are you?” I asked. “Still making good choices?” “Yes,” he replied. “How’s the weather outside?” he asked me in return. “Hot! and Humid!” I exclaimed. He had to go and I was hit again how isolated the jail keeps the inmates. One of the hottest days of the year and all he knew was the inside of a hallway and his jail pod. Nothing on the outside except what he learned from others who have the freedom he only dreams about.

A little while later I talked to the class about excuses and illusions we use to justify the choices which led us to where we are in our lives. “Until we learn self-awareness and the real reasons we think, do and live like we do we will never be free.” Many of the men I work with have been prisoners most of their lives, even before they were arrested and placed in the county jail. Imprisoned by their habits, poor judgment, and worse decisions learned from parents and peers. Teaching them how to think differently and ultimately be different is the difficult goal of the folks who invest their lives with these men.

Freedom cannot be given it must be found within and brought to the surface of our lives.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

 

Thinking

Thinking

One of the easiest lessons of wisdom to learn is you are what you repeatedly think or do. One of the hardest wisdom disciplines to practice is thinking and doing good things.

Aristotle said, paraphrased by Will Durant; “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.” So what we keep thinking and keep doing reveals who we truly are, on the inside. We can say we are kind, loving, grace-giving, but if our thoughts and deeds betray us we must come to the reality of who we are if we desire to change or be at peace through acceptance.

For those like myself who live with depression, one of the cycles we can get into are negative thoughts about ourselves. We relive painful moments, negative events, over and over again. We get stuck with thoughts of how we could be better, how terrible we are, and how little we can offer the world and those closest to us.

Being caught in a cycle of negative thoughts, reliving mistakes and mishaps is called ruminating. For those battling depression the thoughts can literally go on for days, weeks, months. When we are doing well, on a plateau, we can catch ourselves and refuse to hop on these train of thoughts. When we are struggling our thoughts can take us down tracks from which we may never recover.

I like the Zen saying; “You can’t stop negative thoughts from coming but you don’t have to sit and serve them tea.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Hope

Hope

Last night I sat in the classroom at a local county jail with a man who is close to being released. We talked about many things but mostly of our conversation was centered around the plan he has for getting his life in order, re-establishing his relationship with his children and how to live one day, one good choice at a time.

He was hopeful, a rare mindset for those incarcerated. He had his plan memorized and as he laid out the path he wants to follow I sensed in him genuine excitement at what his future holds. Part of mentoring men who are in jail is helping them not only formulate a post-incarceration strategy but also a second and a third option. After all, life has a way of not working out the way we anticipate. As we conversed the different possibilities his hope wasn’t dissipated and his determination, motivation was inspiring. I was careful not to dampen his enthusiasm too much while assisting him in making adjustments to his proposals. When our time was up he was not deterred. He believed in his plans, his ability to choose well and that he wouldn’t squander his regained freedom and sense of purpose.

Thinking on our conversation I believe it would be good for each of us to carve out spaces in our lives to remember our hope, purpose and reason for being. Life has a way of trapping us in the mundane minutiae of everyday living. Refocusing on our purpose, our hope, frees us from just passing one day to the next and allows us to truly live, not just exist.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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What Reality?

What Reality-

I’ve never been an optimist. I’m not sure what, in my childhood, adolescence, or young adulthood happened to make me look on the dark side of things but I do. Psychiatrists say that people with depression and anxiety have different way of seeing and thinking. One of the ways we differ is expecting the worst out of most situations. This feeds anxiety which also leaves us open for a depressive episode. Black and white thinking, feeling guilty for everything that goes wrong, all or nothing thinking are other ways our minds try to make sense of the world around us.

It is difficult but learning not to automatically accept my view of reality is a lesson I am learning and trying to put into practice. Examining our way of thinking and seeing the world is also a wisdom discipline. We each have biases, paradigms, views of life that have been shaped by where, when and how we were raised and what we’ve experienced in our lifetimes. Our environments, cultures, religious preferences, and more result in a worldview which few people seldom question. We assume the way we see the world, life, is how it should be and when it fails to meet our expectations and preferences we tend to judge the people, institutions, whoever and whatever refuses to submit to our viewpoints.

No longer being prisoners to our way of thinking can be one of the hardest places to escape from but it can lead us to a freedom few will ever know.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabsaint.com

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Fires Together, Wires Together

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This interesting picture and intriguing quote was in my Facebook feed this morning. It caught my attention in part because I’ve been studying Epigenetics. It’s the study of how trauma impacts people and generations following.

One of the experiments used to prove this area of science involved shocking a female rat with electricity when a certain odor was emitted. After a while the rat, even though there was no shock, still reacted when she smelled the specific odor. What’s even more compelling is the rat’s babies and the baby’s babies also reacted negatively even though the second and third generation of rats had never been shocked with electricity when the odor was emitted.

Epigenetics proposes that the genes of the rats have been altered, changed due to the trauma of the original female rat and these genes have been passed down to preceding generations.

Neurons that fire together wire together” is another phrase used by brain scientists which deal with nerve pathways. The more often we do something, or have something done to us, the more used to certain behaviors and environments we are mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. In other words it becomes our definition of normal, our reality. It is only when we are able to learn new ways of thinking, being, can we change our personal and family’s destiny. To consider that the choices for our lives impact the immediate now and our, other’s, future the more important it is to be sure our decisions are filled with wisdom and grace.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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