Down and to the Left

We had a kitchen faucet that leaked. It was a slow drip. The only way to stop it was to move the handle slightly to the left when turning it off. We lived with this special faucet for approximately seven years – which was 6 years, 11 months, 3 weeks and 6 days too long, but we survived.

Down and to the left became a normal response when we found a guest standing at the sink unsure how to stop the gentle flow of water. 

Down and to the left was the instruction given to the grandkids when they grew tall enough to reach the handle.

Down and to the left was our normal.

Then one glorious day, my husband and son installed a new faucet. It was a new day! A new dawning! I was certain there would no longer be the need for down and to the left. 

And I was correct. Those five little words were successfully removed from our vocabulary. However, it did not changed our behavior. When not in use, the new faucet is in it’s old familiar position – down and to the left. 

We have a new vocabulary now. Ouch! This water is too hot! You have to adjust the temperature! The problem? Down and to the left is the new hot. Really hot. Our sink is directly above the hot water heater, a direct line. It’s instantly hot.

Our old faucet forced us to learn a behavior the new faucet doesn’t require. Learned behaviors can be difficult to unlearn. It’s been 3 years since that new faucet was installed. Three years of mindlessly following the down and to the left rule. Three years of hot water blasting out of the faucet and 3 years of Ouch! This water is too hot! You have to adjust the temperature!

I am certain I have a lot of down and to the left kind of behaviors in my life. Things that I do on a regular basis that were once essential to my existence and are no long required. The problem? I still do them. Sometimes, I have to scald my hands a few times before it dawns on me that I could possibly be the cause of my own pain.

There is a couple of ways to fix this. We could switch the hoses and have the cold be hot and the hot be cold. My father and father-in-law did this once when installing a toilet. When you flushed, steam rose from the bowl. 

We could get a new faucet, the kind with two handles. That would certainly bring an end to the down and to the left. 

Or we could just learn to do it differently with gentle reminders that we don’t have to do it that way anymore.



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Our Deepest Desires

Our Deepest Desires blog by Jeannie Bruenning

Our Deepest Desires blog by jeannie bruenningLast week I listened to a meditation. Now that sentence doesn’t even make much sense. How can you listen to a meditation? Well, for people like me who find it hard to think about nothing, we must be instructed how to meditate. Apparently organizing the day, planning the menu, and practicing conversations are not what mediation is all about.

Facebook flashed an intriguing ad about meditating and I clicked. Then I listened and for the first time in my life, 15 minutes passed without me wondering what time it was. Or thinking that surely this is longer than 15 minutes. Or if the carpet needed to be vacuumed. Or what we should have for dinner….

At the beginning of the meditation the instructor, who had a deep and gentle voice, told me to repeat the words “I am” whenever I found myself wondering. He actually said it in another language but I couldn’t understand him. I figured I could repeat sounds I didn’t know or I could just say them in English. I stuck with I am.

I heard the newspaper delivery guy and I said, I am. I thought about my day and I said, I am. I thought about Miss Piggy wanting to kiss Kermit a lot and I said, I am. I even asked myself, What am I? and then I answered, I am. I was quiet, I was peaceful, I was.

Then I heard a soft chime and I opened my eyes just a few seconds before the gentle soft voice said, “Open your eyes.”

Wait till he says, “Open your eyes” next time, I noted to myself.

“I am”, he repeated and it sounded calming, soothing. I felt that this was good!

And then he ended the meditation by saying, “I am my deepest desire.”

Pause….long pause….what the hell does that mean? My deepest desire! What’s my deepest desire?  I loved the sound of it but what did it mean – I am my deepest desire?

Any stress that had left me in the past 15 minutes came rushing back. I felt pressure. I felt the calling.

Now I have to find my deepest desire!!

I repeated the question over and over and my mind immediately went to…

all the things I want to do,

all the stuff I want to have,

all the words I want to speak.

Reading over that list left me sad and a bit depressed – because a lot of those things have been on my list for a very long time.

Maybe this is about being and not about doing. That thought rang true, but I really didn’t want that to be the answer. I wanted all the things!

I ask a few of my friends and they too went to the doings: they had their projects and adventures.

“What if this is about who we are rather than what we do?” I asked. “I wondered if this might be about being and not about doing.” They nodded in agreement, yet none of us could quantify it.

When we define ourselves with what we do, or have, or achieved, it’s a defined list. These definitions come to an end when the need for us to do is no longer needed. If they are our defining moments, we will someday become undefined.

When we can define ourselves based on character and desire, our definition continues to redefine itself to the end of our lives.

This sounded really good, but I still wasn’t sure if it was right.

I repeated those words for three days. “I am.”

 What? I don’t know, but I am.

This morning I woke-up defined. The words were so solid in my mind that I don’t think they’ll ever leave me. “I know who I am.” I said to myself. “I am my deepest desire.”

What’s that desire? To trust God with reckless abandon and live each day as a new adventure.  This is a definition I can live with. This is a life I want to live. It’s amazing what happens when we quiet our minds.

Meditation isn’t new. It’s as old as the Psalms. It’s a gift that we’ve been given and one many of us have forgotten. It’s a time of peace, a time of stillness, it’s a time of knowing. Sometimes it’s a time of self-discovery.

On rare occasions it can be a defining moment.






Perceptions & Our Reality

jeannie bruenning

You know what it’s like when someone tells you not to think about something and all you can do is think about the thing you’re not supposed to be thinking about?

Taking my blood pressure is like that for me. For the second time in my life it’s been recommended that I take and record my BP several times during the day. So not only do I have to not think about it once a day, I have to not think about it three times a day. Not surprisingly this can have an effect on the BP reading.

For the past three weeks I’ve been pretending that this  doesn’t make me nervous. I’ve been self-talking in hopes to stay calm, to overcome my natural reaction to that little machine that squeezes my are so tightly it stops the flow of blood to my hand…

A few days ago I started asking myself why all this makes me nervous and I couldn’t come up with an answer. How silly is it to be afraid of something that you really aren’t afraid of.

This forced me to do a little research – I went to the Google and there was an article from Harvard Medical. “They should know what they are talking about,” I assured myself.

Come to find out there is a new range of numbers that qualify as normal. Go figure! Normal isn’t normal anymore! Also, the dear folks at Harvard recommend changing the way high BP is dealt with. It would have been helpful if I would have done this research a few weeks ago.

It is said that perception is reality and I can’t help but put this experience into that scenario. My perception of normal had effected my reality. Within a few short paragraphs my perception changed and so did my reality. Now that little machine that squeezes my arm no longer is there to show me what’s wrong, rather, to prove how normal and healthy I am.

What’s the lesson? It’s important to have an educated perception. One that is based on fact, knowledge and even experience. One that can be defined, explained and is reassuring. Otherwise our perception is simply an assumption…and we all know what happens when we assume.


If you haven’t checked it out, please take a look at Living Unstuck. It’s filled with stories, lessons and practices that have change my life and I would love to share them with you!