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Like Him

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Like Him

I spent most of last week helping a friend clean up and prepare her yard for winter. There were other friends helping. On Friday, there were several trailer and truck full of limbs, trees, and yard debris. Almost everyone had a truck so we teamed up and began taking loads to the local Refuse and Recycle Center. There was a dump designated for yard trash and my partner and I pulled up and began unloading. There was a lot to put in the dumpster and towards the bottom of the pile I bent down to pick up a dropped limb and when I stood back up my partner was gone! I looked to see if he was in the truck ready to leave, if he’d fallen, or what happened. Then I spotted him. He was at another dumpster over helping an elderly couple with their trash. I hadn’t even seen them but he did and left to offer aid. I was impressed by his sight and his willingness to serve even as he was serving someone else. Even now my heart is warmed by his empathy.

I’ve decided, even though I’m almost 50 as I grow up I want to be like him.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
For more posts, reflections and other writings please visit: http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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Self Focus

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Self Focus

Yesterday I travelled to see a friend. On my way, my gas tank was getting empty so I began looking for a place to stop. I spotted a gas station but it was on the other side of the road. A silly thought popped into my head; “Why don’t they put those stations on the right?” Immediately I realized how self-focused the thought was… First off all the gas station are on the right if you’re on the “right” side of the road and secondly, why would I demand a gas station on “my side?”

A few hours down the road I was in the far left lane moving with the traffic and a white, mid-2000’s, Toyota Four-Runner was in the lane going slower than the rest of the vehicles. People flashed their lights, “rode their bumper” and finally went around them. I flashed my light hoping they would take the hint but to no avail. Exasperated, I went around them as well. I kept my eye on the Fore-Runner and the driver stayed in the far left lane for miles and miles. All of a sudden it crossed all lanes into the right one. I thought; “What are they doing now?” and then I realized they were getting off at the next exit.

Wisdom teaches us to be aware of ourselves, to focus on our self at times, but not to be self-focused. The difference is to understand there are others in this world and we are to be as kind and loving to them as we should be to ourselves.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)

For more posts, reflections, and other writings, please visit: http://www.thewannabesaint.com

Not the Same

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Not the Same

This past weekend Beth was sick and so I was left to my own devices for meals. This isn’t good. Friday night, I decided to warm up a few slices of pizza. I knew to coat the pan with non-stick spray and saw a bright yellow can on the counter. I picked it up and began spraying but immediately noticed it was foamy and didn’t smell like butter. By the time I realized I had the wrong can the fumes had got to me and I began coughing. I put down the can and stepped away to catch my breath. When I came back I looked at the bright yellow can and discovered it was oven cleaner. However, when I retrieved the non-stick spray from the cabinet it was in a bright yellow can as well. Beth would’ve noticed but I didn’t read the label, only looked at the color of the can and sprayed away. Though they looked similar they were not the same!

Wisdom teaches us that many things offer peace, awareness, mindfulness, and clarity. We grab whatever we see first and use it only to find our lives unchanged and perhaps negatively impacted. Wisdom can only be achieved through conscious, purposeful living. We must know what we are bringing into our lives and not just use what’s closest and easiest. A mindful life is possible but only if we are wise in our choices.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

For more posts, reflections and writings, please visit: wwwthewannabesaint.com

The Smell of a Tuna Fish Sandwich

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The Smell of a Tuna Fish Sandwich

My wife came home early from work on Friday. She wasn’t feeling well and had a stomach bug. I’m not a natural caretaker but was able to get her settled in the bed and bring her something to drink with saltine-crackers. She slept most of Friday and Saturday was feeling better. She still wasn’t eating much and when I asked if she would like lunch she opted for a bland bowl of cereal. I, on the other hand, fixed myself a fresh can of tuna, with mayo and pickles. When Beth fixed her cereal I noted she was on the far side of the counter. “What are you doing over there?” I asked. “The smell of your tuna is not helping my stomach!” she replied and told me it was the last thing she ate Friday before getting sick. The smell of my Tuna Fish sandwich was threatening to make her sick again.

Scientists tell us that smell is one of the greatest memory triggers. However, all our senses, particular situations, certain people, can trigger pain, shame, emotional, mental and even physical reactions in us or others. This is why it’s so important making sure we don’t judge or label others who may react differently to events and experiences. The path of their life, which intersects ours, could be fraught with challenges and difficulties we’ve never encountered. Knowing each person has a unique path helps us be aware, accepting, adaptable, and non-judgemental toward each other.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

For more posts, reflections and other writings, please visit: http://www.thewannabesaint.com

 

No Other Direction

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No Other Direction

I broke my lawn mower yesterday! That might be an overstatement. I misjudged how close I could mow to a fence post and smashed the wheel up against it. When I did that I messed up the steering wheel and had to mow the last half of our yard only being able to turn the steering wheel right. When I turned left the steering wheel wouldn’t turn the wheels. It was frustrating figuring out how to only turn right and accomplish the job. It took longer but I finally mowed the whole yard.

I’ve reflected on the frustration of only being able to turn in one direction. There have been times in my life when I wanted to go one way and haven’t been able to. I struggled, fought, complained, and smashed myself against the way I wanted to go only to go nowhere. I still have that feeling about a particular section of my life. It’s an area I derived a lot of pleasure and purpose but it seems closed off to me and has been for a while. It’s been several years and several failed attempts to turn my life in that direction. As time goes by my doubts of ever being able to turn in that direction grows while hope fades.

Perhaps this is the way it is supposed to be. Maybe still longing for it shows I have growing to do. I can fix the lawnmower but there are seasons in life that are never to be repeated.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

For more posts, reflections and other writings, please visit: http://www.thewannabesaint.com

Common Thread

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Common Thread

Yesterday I told my therapist three distinct experiences that have happened to me since our last appointment. I do my best to remember or jot down events or emotional moments I encounter and relay them to her. I talk about how I felt, why I think I felt it, why I did something, what I thought would be the outcome, what happened to me and the result. I tell her these things because many times I’m not able to see the big picture because I’m so close to the events and experiences.

When I finished telling her my three stories she then asked a series of questions that gave me the ability to look at each one from a different point of view. I thought they were three separate, non-related moments but she was able to see a common thread and we discussed how and why I reacted in a certain way and the possible reasons they imprinted on me. It was an; “Aha!” moment that I was unable to see without the benefit of a pair of unbiased, professionally trained, eyes.

I don’t love therapy. I tolerate it. I know it’s an invaluable part of my treatment plan for chronic severe depression and a severe anxiety disorder. There are times I walk out wondering what was accomplished and there are; “Aha!” days. I don’t always like what I am shown or discover but I hope that every; “Aha!” helps my journey on this path called; “my life” be easier and worth the struggle.

blessings,
@BrianLoging

For most posts, reflections and other writings, please visit; http://www.thewannabesaint.com

Stalking

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Stalking

Waiting on a hurricane is like being stalked by a homicidal turtle!” I read this statement the other day and thought it was humorous and true. My wife and I have friends up and down the east coast and they are preparing for the worst and hoping for the best with Hurricane Florence looming as she’s still deciding when and where to make landfall. The slow-moving storm has people on edge. There’s something to be said for a challenge or difficulty that comes out of nowhere to cause chaos in life and then goes as fast as it came. It’s hard but at least one doesn’t have the agony of waiting.

I was talking with a friend last night about depression and anxiety and the way they steal the joy out of life. It’s a dark storm that hovers filling you with dread as you prepare for the full brunt of the fury. You wait, you pray, you look for signs of the storm passing but it stays in one place and never gives you a true moment’s rest. Your strength is sapped by the anxiety of the approaching darkness and when the storm finally hits its wave and winds batter and beat you into submission. Rest is elusive when something is stalking you, wearing you out with threats and anticipation, and finally, when it strikes, you’re too weak to fight back.

Be kind to each other. You never know the storms that are brewing in each of us.

For more posts, reflections, and other writings, please visit: http://www.thewannabesaint.com

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

Cattle Crossing

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Cattle Crossing

Today, traveling the back roads of South Central Tennessee, I saw a “Cattle Crossing” sign. It was funny at first, the thought of having a cow in the middle of the road or a group of them causing a traffic jam. The more I thought about a cow jumping, waddling, out of nowhere on the road or stepping out from a hidden place the more I slowed down. A cow would cause tremendous truck and bodily damage. I’ve seen the toll a deer can put on a vehicle. I can’t imagine what a cow would do!

Wisdom tells us that we are given insight and warning signs for a reason. It also reminds us that it is our choice whether or not to take the warning seriously. We proceed at our own risk. Too often we ignore them and suffer the consequences of wrecked lives for ourselves and those we hold dear.

Our lives are not to be lived waiting for the next disaster, challenge or difficulty to come our way. However, if we learn to look for the warning signs and trust the wisdom we have gained through experience and knowledge we can avoid a lot of pain and heartache.

For more posts, reflections and other writings, please visit: http://www.thewannabesaint.com

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

Color Blind?

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Color Blind?

This morning our staff attended a lecture on the Understanding Your Implicit Bias. The takeaway is that we all have biases, ways of looking at the world, groups of people, each other. These biases come from our parents, other role models we had as kids, extended families, the neighborhoods we grew up in, friends we hung around, and countless other influences. It wasn’t a lecture on “if” but “why” we developed biases and how they impact your interactions with people you encounter each day, what you think when you hear certain words, see certain images, and how deep these biases are rooted within us.

One of the more interesting topics the lecturer spoke about was the idea of being “color blind.” In other words not seeing a person’s skin color but their character. On the surface, this seems like a great way to connect with each other. The challenge with this way of thinking, according to the speaker, was that you strip a person of part of their identity. As a Christian, white, middle class, middle-aged, southern, heterosexual, male, each of these traits are part me. Along with the unique experiences of my life they make me who I am.

I found this a wonderful and a too often overlooked idea. Sometimes, in order to make everyone “equal”, we take away parts of their identity or neutralize them. When we do this we are doing a disservice to them and ourselves. People, fully known, recognized and loved, connects us in a balanced way that honors the breadth of humanity and the amazing uniqueness present in all of us.

For more posts, reflections, and other writings, please visit: http://www.thewannabesaint.com

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

Your Best

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Your Best

A new employee was given an assignment and then handed in a report to his boss. Without opening the report the boss asked this new employee; “Did you do your best?” The employee thought a moment, requested the report be returned and went back to his desk. The employee came back to his boss, report in hand, and before he gave it to his boss he heard the same question; “Does this report reflect the best you’re capable of doing?” The employee turned around and went back to his desk. The third time the employee approached his boss’ door he asked himself; “Is this the best I can do?” Without hesitation he answered; “Yes.” After telling his boss the same thing the boss said; “That’s all I’ll ever ask of you, your best.

This story. told by the pastor this morning, is of Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and a subordinate. We often conflate our best with perfection. They are not the same thing. Perfection is both unattainable and transient. Perfection to one is not perfect for the other. Our best, however, is more manageable. If we are self-aware, have an accurate understanding of our strengths and weaknesses then we are able to give our best and that will be good enough.

For more posts, reflections and writings, please visit: http://www.thewannabesaint.com

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

Dusted

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Dusted

I had finished mowing my grass and was now weed eating around bushes and trees. Behind our house is a field that a local farmer harvests for hay several times a summer. The front yard was done and I moved into the backyard with the weed eater. Making my way along the fence line I was hot, sweating and looking forward to sitting down in the shade. The farmer that used the field was also out turning the grass with his tractor which would eventually become hay bales. He was stirring up a lot of dust. I don’t know if he didn’t see me or didn’t care but he and I ended up in the same place on either side of the fence. The dust kicked up went everywhere. I couldn’t see because it was in my eyes, and clung to my sweat and made me even more of a filthy mess. I stopped until the dust settled and I could use my shirt to wipe my eyes and glasses filled with grass and dirt. Afterward, I completed the chore and thankful not to be dusted again.

Going inside I saw the dust continue to rise and blow in the wind as the farmer worked the field. I thought about certain people come into our lives like a dust cloud blowing things everywhere, marking our lives with their presence and then leaving all they’ve touched a mess. When they’re gone we find ourselves disoriented, shaking off the negativity and trying to continue living the best we can. Some people don’t know they do this, others don’t care. Either way, the key to recovering is to be still and wait. Sooner or later, after they blow away and we can regain our focus, our purpose, and try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

For more posts, reflections and other writings, please visit: http://www.thewannabesaint.com

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

Elusive

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Elusive

Yesterday morning while we were standing in our kitchen, my wife and I heard a “snap!” and I asked; “What was that?” Beth said; “Sounded like a mousetrap.” We haven’t had enough rain and it’s been too warm for them to need shelter but soon we heard the squeal of a trapped mouse. Beth was leaving for work and I went and grabbed a bag to dispose of the mouse. As I began to open the drawer with the trap I heard movement and by the time I got it halfway open the little mouse had freed itself and escaped!

I didn’t feel too bad about the little creature getting away. To come that close to death and not die it deserved another chance to live. Over the last two days, I’ve thought about elusive things and how it can be hard to get a handle on life. We have bad habits that we think we’ve beat only to fall back into them again. Maybe its a relationship that requires a lot of work and we wonder if it’s worth it. Perhaps a physical or mental illness that lingers and our hopes of getting better permanently are unrequited.

The choice to try again when all you’ve been doing is trying, and failing, can be a daunting challenge but often reaching the most elusive goals are worth the extra time and effort.

For more posts, reflections, and other writings, please visit: http://www.thewannabesaint.com

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

Forgot

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Forgot!

I forgot to pray for someone this morning. I talked with them yesterday and they had an appointment today for which I said; “I’ll pray for you.” Then, this morning, it completely slipped my mind! I didn’t realize it until the person I was supposed to pray for let me know everything went well. “Whew!” I then prayed a prayer of thankfulness for the person and for God still working even when we forget to ask.

I don’t think that our prayers determine God’s actions. I think we pray because God is already working and we want eyes that see grace, kindness, goodness from a God that connects himself to humanity in an amazing way.

I am thankful for a God that works even when we forget to ask, friends who support even when we take them for granted, jobs that aren’t always easy but provide us money and other benefits, a family who drives us crazy but we wouldn’t trade the world for, and life’s many miracles and answered prayers, that we can’t see or simply forget to look.

For more posts, reflections, and other writings, please visit: http://www.thewannabesaint.com

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

What You Put In

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What You Put In

This morning I got up early to prepare for a presentation to a classroom that would be filled with teachers. It can be intimidating teaching those who teach as a profession. I prepared the coffee maker, got a shower, shaved, prepped my clothes and went back into the kitchen for a nice cup of joe. I poured the coffee slowly to avoid splashing and instead of dark brown delicious goodness, it was a hot cup of light brown water. Instantly I realized my mistake, I had forgotten to put coffee grounds in the filter. *Facepalm!* I put new water back in, made sure to also put in coffee grounds and waited. Finally, I actually had coffee in my coffee mug.

Later this morning I presented to the teachers and everything went well. They were engaged, asked questions and the eighty minutes of lecture time went by quickly which is usually a good sign. Afterward, I was packing up and a teacher asked if I could come back and present to another group of educators and parents. I told her absolutely.

The presentation I gave is powerful. I wrote it, then a media specialist added the slide format, and it was reviewed, refined and approved by our publicity department. A lot of teamwork and effort went into the presentation and it shows because it’s always engaging and informative. All the right things were put into it and all of the right things come out.

Now, if I could just remember to do this to my coffee and the rest of life…

For more posts, reflections and other writings, please visit: http://www.thewannabesaint.com

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

Roots

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Roots

The other day I was outside and noticed a large weed had grown up in half of an old wine barrel we use for plants. I grabbed it as close to the soil as I could and pulled on it. Nothing. I reached down again and pulled with two hands and the weed came out slowly. When all of it had finally emerged the root of the weed was almost as long as the weed itself. I noticed another one and removed it. In another pot, there was also a tall weed. I yanked on it and it didn’t budge. I tried again and zero gain. Even with two hands, it wasn’t going anywhere. The roots of the weed had entangled themselves with the roots of the bush in this pot and were only coming out if the bush came out with it.

Reflecting back on the tall weeds I thought about how there are often weeds in our lives. Hurts, habits, and hang-ups that don’t produce anything positive and affirming in us. Often before any of these “weeds” are noticed they have rooted themselves in our attitudes, personalities, words, and actions. When we become aware of them or someone else makes us aware we want to rid ourselves of them. We face our hurts, develop better, more mindful habits and try to untangle ourselves from hangups. Hopefully, they come out and goodness, kindness, and love take their place. However, if we aren’t careful and allow these “weeds” to continue to take root, dig deeper into our souls they become a part of us and we can’t tell where they end and we begin.

For more posts, reflections, and other writings, please visit: http://www.thewannabesaint.com

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

What’s Worse?

What’s Worse?

The pastor started out this morning’s message with the question; “What’s worse than finding a worm in the apple you’re eating? Finding half a worm.” The insinuation being you are already eating the other half. It’s gross but it’s funny. His message was about being good, having true character, inside and out.

Google defines authenticity as; “the quality of being reliable, dependable, trustworthy, credible; accurate, truthful.” That is a lot for a person to live up to. We live in a world where the president’s lawyer said last week; “What is the truth? There is no truth.” The president himself is seen as a man whom constituents from both parties agree has a difficult time with the truth. The cardinals, bishops and perhaps the pope(?) in the Catholic church, the head coach at Ohio State University, Republican and Democratic congressional candidates, and many others from all walks of life seem to find telling the truth, being of true character, a challenge.

True character starts from the inside and makes it way out. Who we are, what we are, will always be revealed sooner or later. The question; “Am I an authentic person? A person of true character?” is one of the most important and ultimately life-defining we can ask. However, don’t stop until you can answer it with certainty and clarity.

For more posts, reflections, and other writings, please visit: http://www.thewannabesaint.com

blessings,
@BrianLoging

A Little Bit

A Litte Bit

Our Siberian Husky, Trooper, has a habit of shaking in front of a fan in our foyer. He does it when he wakes up from his many naps, is stretching or comes inside. When he does it little hairs are blown all over the foyer and some make it to the living room. I try to remember to get him to shake outside since he will do it on command but that only takes care of a fraction of the bits of Trooper that end up on the carpet, furniture and sometimes on me and Beth.

Reflecting on this behavior of our old dog today I thought about the way each of us leaves a little bit of us wherever we go. We all know someone who comes and goes from our lives and leaves us in a bad mood, feeling worse for wear, insulted, ashamed, belittled and weary. Unfortunately, we’ve also been this person at times. There are also those who come into our lives and bring love, kindness, empathy, caring, and light. We look forward to them coming and when they go we are left better than before. May we all strive to be these kinds of people.

For more posts, reflections and other writings, please visit: http://www.thewannabesaint.com

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

Forgetfulness

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Forgetfulness

He forgot! That was his excuse, his reason for not being in the place he told me he’d be. I was on time, early actually, and waited. After a while, I began to wonder if I got the date wrong so I checked my phone calendar and I was on time, in the right place. Several moments passed and I texted him and waited. After a while, a text came back which read; “I’m sorry! We won’t be able to meet tonight. I told others and forgot to tell you.” I took a deep breath as frustration washed over me but didn’t last long. He forgot. I forget. There are times I’ve missed appointments and have let someone down. He didn’t do it on purpose. I knew him well enough to know he would’ve told me if he had remembered. I turned the key to my truck, put it in drive and left for home. Soon I was lost in thought driving down a road and had forgotten the whole situation. The next day he was in contact with me again trying to make things right. There wasn’t anything wrong. He had forgotten, I knew how he felt, and I’d moved on as did he.

People make mistakes. No one is perfect and yet sometimes we beat ourselves up or others for making mistakes. If we are honest we know mistakes happen and will keep happening. We do our best not to make them often and forgive others as, hopefully, they have and will forgive us.

For more reflections, posts, and other writings, please visit: http://www.thewannabesaint.com

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

Open Mouth

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Open Mouth

I heard someone say yesterday that; “only a fish with its mouth open gets caught!” I like the saying. It’s similar to the wisdom teaching; “No one regrets a harsh word unspoken.

One of the key tenets of my job is to ensure each client’s privacy. I am not allowed to talk about conversations, other information, or even affirm a client is a client to anyone who does not and should not know. It’s difficult at times when someone calls from another organization to inquire about a client to say; “I’m sorry. I cannot talk about clients. Period.” but sometimes I have to do it.

Though a challenge I think it would be great if everyone followed the rule of not talking about another without the other’s permission. However, often times it’s the opposite. We hear a juicy piece of gossip, an embarrassing story, someone is facing a challenging situation, carrying the burden of a struggling relationship and we can’t keep it to ourselves! We’ve got to share it. Like fish we’ve chomped down on the bait and once we’re caught we dangle it in front of others to see if they will take a bite also. Gossip turns to rumors and they always come back around to the person being talked about. The hurt they already felt is multiplied. Their burden becomes that much more to bear.

Instead of an open ear and open mouth to hear and repeat innuendos and insults perhaps we can offer the person struggling, a listening spirit and words of comfort and kindness.

For more posts, reflections, and other writings, please visit: http://www.thewannabesaint.com

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

Tribalism

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Tribalism

It is incredibly easy to start an argument these days. Declare your allegiance to a political party, voice your opinion on an issue, talk about who you voted for or why you didn’t vote for the other person, accuse someone of not caring because they don’t share the same convictions you do.

I am amazed, but not really, how terribly divided our world, nations, states, communities and even our families are over matters of the mind and heart. We are so quick to pick a fight, defend our position, be suspect of anyone and everyone.

I was reflecting today over what it will take to bring us back together again. Then I wondered if we had ever, truly, been together. Maybe all the hate and vitriol had been under the surface all along and we couldn’t keep it hidden any longer. I don’t like thinking that way. I’d rather believe we, humanity, are going through a rough spot and, in time, something deeper will bring us back together. To be honest I don’t have much hope in what’s deeper being what’s better. Throughout human history we have hated, warred, fought against, killed and used one another to further our own goals with little thought of how it impacts the other.

Wisdom teaches humility first. Serving, helping, putting our neighbor (hint: everyone’s our neighbor, including our “enemies”) and their needs above our own. It doesn’t seem likely to happen soon, if ever, but it starts with the choice to love, be kind, refusing to see the other as separate, apart from us. We are human. If we could only find our purpose, our “being”.

For more reflections, posts, and other writings, please visit: http://www.thewannabesaint.com

blessings,
@BrianLoging

Pioneers

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Pioneers

Last week I watched a documentary titled; “Pioneer Quest: A Year in the Real West.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pioneer_Quest:_A_Year_in_the_Real_West) It was the story of two couples who gave up everything from the 21st century to live life in the 1880’s for one year. They didn’t have electricity, running water, indoor or outdoor plumbing. They planted and hunted for their food, depended on a cow for milk and a team of two horses to do everything from plow the land for farming, to pulling a sleigh in the snow, and to get them wherever they needed to go. The biggest obstacles were to adjust their mindset from present day to the late 1800’s and their bodies to work harder and longer than they ever had before. The two couples, who didn’t know each other before, had their differences but needed to work together well enough to make it to the end of the year and possibly collect the $100,000 prize money.

The show is a slow burn. It takes a while for the couples to get used to the pace of living in a way that required time and effort to do everything and for the viewer to accept that each episode won’t be non-stop action or suspense. However, once this is done there is a rhythm to the living this way and the watching this show.

I won’t spoil the ending but watching it made me long for a slower pace of life. The folks in the documentary didn’t have the luxuries we have now, they lived in a one room log cabin, had to walk in all sorts of weather to go to the bathroom. No internet, no fast food, no power tools, no zipping to town to grab something forgotten at the store. If they didn’t have it they learned to live without it.

I wonder if these are the keys to a simpler life; you don’t need everything and if you don’t have it you’ll still find a way to live and possibly thrive.

For more reflections, posts and other writings, please visit: http://www.thewannabesaint.com

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

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