Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Hide and Seek No More February 28, 2013

Everything around me was gray. I was standing on a platform that appeared to be floating and not connected in anyway to the walls around me. It was flying down and I was struggling to keep my balance. “Newbie,” I heard someone mumble nearby. I didn’t look around because that would have made me lose my focus. Instead I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and…

my first thought upon waking this morning was I was happy to be alive. Shortly after that, my senses returned and I realized I was really hungry and really had to go outside. But when I opened my eyes and saw I wasn’t on that platform surrounded in gray plunging to what seemed like inevitable death, I knew I’d made it. I was blessed with another day filled with naps, treats, playtime and love. How lucky I am.

I know it isn’t this way for everyone. I will admit, it isn’t even always that way for me. It is a conscious choice we make each day to see it as a fresh canvas ready and waiting for our uniquely personal brushstrokes. And some days are not masterpieces. Or they don’t seem like it at the time at least. Even the works of Pablo Picasso confused (and, in some cases, continue to confuse) its viewers at first. “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls,” Picasso said. That’s not so confusing.

So today I take a page from Picasso’s sketchbook and paint myself a portrait of gratitude. By doing so, I breathe life into gratitude, just as Sarah Ban Breathnach suggests we take time to do in Simple Abundance. Two months ago, I reflected on Breathnach’s concept of a gratitude journal as a necessary part of the Simple Abundance experience in Hope in Gratitude.

“If you want to continue on this journey with me, the gratitude journal is not an option,” Breathnach scolds. “Why? Because you simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life.” One month ago, I challenged myself to write my own eulogy, forcing me to reflect on the value of life. Since then, I have taken Breathnach’s concept one tiny paw step further and made it a point not to separate my gratitude journal from my other musings, as a way to trick myself into being more grateful. And I would argue that my little trick with my mind is working. I’m not the same dog I was two months ago.Thankful to be Alive

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words,” American president John F. Kennedy once said, “but to live by them.”

That is why I want to share my perspective with the world. It’s kind of like American comedian Jim Carrey said “I wake up some mornings…and I go, ‘remember how good this is because you can lose it.” I’m done playing hide and seek with life.

Instead when I wake I say here I am world, happy and alive.

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Singing in the Rainbows February 27, 2013

Singing in the RainbowsTwenty. That is the magic number of beliefs Darren Hayes of Savage Garden rattles off in “Affirmation.” I can’t say I agree with all twenty thoughts, but I know what is true to me. “I don’t believe. I know,” as analytical psychologist Carl Jung said.

Why is it then that some days it isn’t easy to know or believe? You know the ones. Those “one of those days” kind of days, when literally everything that can go wrong actually does. I remember one particularly awful day in the house I lived in before my forever family found me. It was spring, and there was a really big storm that clambered on all night. Sharing that home with three other dogs and two cats made me realize how well I do in thunderstorms compared to other dogs. Burt, the seven-year-old black lab mix, howled all night long.

The alarm didn’t go off the next morning because I’m convinced Burt broke the power with all his howling. Barbara and Jim woke up late, irritable and exhausted. Barbara got a run in her nylons, burned her forehead with her curling iron, and spilled coffee on her coat as she ran out the door. James forgot to feed us before he left for work. None of the animals got along that day. That was the day I realized negativity is unfortunately just as contagious as optimism.

But much like the storm that came before it, the day came to a close and we were all reminded that even “those days” will pass. And that’s when rainbows happen.

Regardless of what you choose to believe, I am finding the spiritual awakening in Simple Abundance to be as real as the rainbows that follow storms. “With each day of the journey, you have become more open to the mystery, the magic and the majesty of the Master Plan because you are committed to your spiritual awakening,” Sarah Ban Breathnach suggests. “You don’t have to just believe anymore because you know.”

Sure, it is sometimes easier to throw up my paws and believe the world has turned its back on me. Sometimes it is easier not to believe or know anything for certain. But I’ve never been one to do things the easy way.

 

On Being Happy: Real Life Reverence February 26, 2013

My mom came across something kind of special today. It is one of those priceless treasures that might seem worthless to the wrong person. I know this because she was devastated about a month ago when she couldn’t find it. So you can imagine her excitement when she found it at work today. And I would be lying if I said I wasn’t pretty excited myself, since it probably wouldn’t be priceless if not for its value to both of us.

Animal ID: 10451105
Species: Dog
Breed: Terrier Mix
Age: 2 years 3 months
Sex: Male
Size: Small
Color: Tan
Intake date: 7/31/2010

Hi, my name is Wiley! I am a terrier mix and like all terrier breeds, I have a ton of energy! I am a sweet boy that is interested in everything! I am really good at sit but would love to learn more with your help! I am one smart boy! I am very cute and I know I look lie a little lap dog, but I have a ton of energy so I like to move around a lot! I would love to take long walks and explore everything with you by my side! I have been approved to live with kids 10 years and up! I think I might possibly be great at agility. I cannot wait to find a home that needs an energetic, but sweet, dog like me. Are you the one?!

My old adoption profile from the humane society is dated August 25, 2010. Documentation in itself of one of my most happiest of days, this precious and fragile piece of paper was printed on the day I met them for the first time. My forever mom and dad. And reverent is the word for how I feel about my emotional reflection upon this authentically archeological dig, as Sarah Ban Breathnach would call it.

“Reverence is that altered state of consciousness when you feel awe and wonder because you know you are in the presence of Spirit,” Breathnach writes in Simple Abundance. “Real life—the real life we are meant to be living—begins when we restore a sense of reverence to our daily affairs.”

Today is a day for my mom and I to be reverent in remembrance of the power that happens when we make the conscious choice to turn our personal fears to purpose in life. Change is indeed a conscious choice that often translates fear into purpose. That conscious choice can bring sincere and irreplaceable happiness. Life happily ever after, if you will.

So today is the day I reflect on when real life began for me. That is just it, after all – you need to welcome that kind of magic and happiness into your life by understanding the roles that past and present play in your future. I know from experience it is easier said than done, but finding a way to bring fear to purpose does just that.

 

Bring Me That Horizon February 25, 2013

There are a lot of things in a dog’s life that are uncertain. What we eat, when we eat it, when we go to the bathroom, and when we go for walks are circumstances mostly controlled by our people. We are at the mercy of our people for so many things that I’ve come to see my people as my constants in life. They are everything to me. And, as it is my life’s mission to bring optimism to life, I find there is wisdom in uncertainty.

I’m convinced this is a lesson lost on the birds in my backyard. I heard them talking incessantly to each other this morning in the tree outside my bedroom window. They were arguing about the weather, which is expected to fluctuate in extremes again from sunny and warm today to snowy and frigid tomorrow. In my experience the only way to silence them is to scare them away. Off they flew as soon as I got outside this morning, leaving me alone again to contemplate existence in peace.

As I watched them scatter into the morning horizon, it was almost as if an old medieval proverb came to life before my eyes. I’ve never cared to understand it before, so it took me by surprise to find myself reflecting on the meaning of “a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.” Though it is thought of as cliché to some people, the idea behind the phrase is that it is better to embrace certainty than take a chance and lose everything in the process.

I’m not certain of a lot of things, but I find an odd solace in that truth. Sarah Ban Breathnach recently reminded me in Simple Abundance to give thanks for truths like this. “You know what you need to do today, not tomorrow,” she writes. “Take another look at your life. Give thanks. Accept your circumstances. Give thanks. Count your blessings. Give thanks. Above all, have faith in yourself and Divine Change.”

That faith may not come easily, but I would rather take a chance on faith than embrace certainty.

“One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time,” French writer Andre Gide advised.Bring Me That Horizon

Well then, I say bring me that horizon.

There isn’t much in terms of physical risks to take in a dog’s life, so I chose to risk what I can control: my perspective. The fruits of my heart and mind are certain to me.

 

Hands: Heads or Tails? February 24, 2013

Mr. Prickles slipped his little hedgehog self under the couch again today. Darned slippery hardwood floors. No matter how hard I try, I always struggle trying to dig my little pals out from under there. And it is almost always to no avail. Inevitably I end up pestering mom or dad to use their long arms to dig out whatever misfit toy I’ve lost that day.

It’s an almost daily occurrence in the Schmidt house, so I generally don’t think anything of it. Today was different. Today my mom also grabbed out a little silver nickel stamped with the year 2010 on it. As I watched her fingers wrap around the token, I found myself pondering where I was at this time in 2010.

I closed my eyes and it happened. It’s like I was there again.

I saw him, the man who made me fear leather belts. The man whose hands made me crumple into the smallest version of myself. It wasn’t just me his hands hurt. I shudder to my core when I remember watching in horror as he lashed out at Jo. At the tender people age of six, Jo was my only friend in the world at that point in time. And her little people hands were my favorite. When she pet me, I felt her love through her hands. She was always so gentle; such a happy contrast from the awful man who abused us both. I loved her so.

You can imagine how I reacted the first time I saw what the man was doing to my poor innocent little Jo. I had heard about it on the streets, but I never thought I would see it firsthand. So I did like anyone would do – I interceded, and as a result I became the brunt of the beating that time. I don’t regret it.

It happened a few more times before the last time. I caught that man’s ugly hand with my mouth and I bit down as hard as I could. Well, that was the end of that. The next day, the man left me on the side of the road in the bitterly frigid February of 2010. It took me a while after that to see hands the same way. It wasn’t probably until I adopted my mission statement of joy that I started to trust people hands again. And I’m so glad I did.

It’s like American singer-songwriter Jewel says in “Hands.”

If I could tell the world just one thing
It would be that we’re all OK
And not to worry ’cause worry is wasteful
And useless in times like these
I won’t be made useless
I won’t be idle with despair
I will gather myself around my faith
For light does the darkness most fear

Hands can do so many things. They play musical instruments in the most beautiful of symphonies. They can piece together the most unbelievably delicious delicacies. They can radiate love through a delicate touch. They can retrieve beloved toys from underneath couches. They can love. And they can hate.

My hands are small, I know
But they’re not yours, they are my own
But they’re not yours, they are my own
And I am never broken

I think of Jo often, praying she is okay without me there to protect her. I remember the loving twinkle in her eye and somehow that gives me peace. Love almost always conquers hate. Of that much I am certain. Now when I see people hands I pause to respect the love they give instead of the hate.

 

A Saturday Soundtrack February 23, 2013

Today my neurotic’s notebook takes a page from American journalist Mignon McLaughlin, who said “a sense of humor is a major defense against minor troubles.” I’ve written about the joy that happens in my home on Saturdays, so I thought I would set it to a soundtrack for anyone interested in a lighthearted salute to today’s daily prompt.

If I were to set a Saturday in the Schmidt household to a soundtrack, I suppose it would play like this.

(Disclaimer: These have all inspired previous (and future) blog posts, so I apologize in advance for any repetition).Dancing to Life's Soundtrack

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkkFYHXlX-c
Track One: Tell Me A Story, Phillip Phillips.
Dear Phillip Phillips. A lyrical hero of mine, he inspires me with his words frequently. This is one of my favorites from his album “Man on The Moon.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfsS3pIDBfw
Track Two: Hands, Jewel
Human hands are capable of such bad things. I embrace only the good.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVOu47ib9s8
Track Three: Answer, Sarah McLaughlin
This one gets me every time. https://wileyschmidt.wordpress.com/2012/12/29/my-answer-i-sleep-smiling/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2SfmcNg8js
Track Four: I Hope You Dance, LeAnn Womack
I love to dance. Did you know that about me?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84Ns6ouwO1g
Track Five: Peggy Sang the Blues, Frank Turner
A recent favorite, this song recently inspired a blog entry about my perspective that all forward motion counts.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6ZWlDks0nQ
Track Six: Paradise, Coldplay
Forget hindsight. I prefer paradise.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vT2fM3-seUE
Track Seven: Life In Slow Motion, David Gray.
A reminder to stop and appreciate life’s special moments. https://wileyschmidt.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/life-in-slow-motion/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nm-1xvWibt0
Track Eight: Isn’t It Ironic? Alanis Morissette
I had to. 🙂 https://wileyschmidt.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/isnt-it-ironic-a-pause-amidst-lifes-symphony/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aw14mwAp5oM
Track Nine: Hard Times, EastMountainSouth
Hard times come again no more. Simple as that.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0aauXOx120
Track Ten: Free Bird, Lynyrd Skynyrd
As seen in one of my favorite movies, Elizabethtown

Please note: I do not own rights to any of these videos. They were all shared from YouTube.

 

Down So Long? Look Up.

Feast or Famine?Love in a dog’s life is feast or famine at times. Please do not misunderstand: this is not to say I am ever short on love in my forever home. It’s just that sometimes, it overwhelms me while at others it is a whisper quietly reminding me of its presence.

Today, like most Saturdays, it overwhelms me. Most Saturdays in the Schmidt household start the same. It is a day’s break from the routine when my mom and dad both go away all day to this zany place called work. Instead, they sleep an extra hour or two, and when they wake we all engage in something I’ve heard my mom call a love fest.

It sounds more ridiculous than it is, but these precious weekend morning moments are what get me through the long weekdays when mom and dad are away. I would prefer they not be aware of the severe separation anxiety I feel when they are away during the week. It gets a little easier with time, but there is always this ghost in my mind reminding me that maybe they will never come back and I will end up on the streets lonely and unloved again. I was down so long it’s still way too easy to go back there in my mind.

Then Saturdays come along, as if God wants to remind me of how lucky I have it and how silly I am to doubt my blessings. Instead I count them. A Saturday starts with far more pets than usual from both mom and dad. They take extra time to talk to me, tell me they love me, and (best of all) say how much they love each other. Saturday mornings are joy, from the ground up.

At first, I hesitated to share these private precious moments with the world, as I know how comical it might sound to an outsider. But never have I withheld my truest of truths, and I don’t intend to start that silliness now. A dog’s tale never lies.

Love, at times, is feast or famine. It can overwhelm my spirit in the most surprisingly cumbersome ways. But I think it’s that way for people sometimes too. I’ve seen people in my life be completely overwhelmed with love in the purest of life’s moments. These are the moments that bring joy to life. These are the moments for people who have been down too long to look up.