Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

To Feel It In My Heart March 13, 2015

First the windows got opened to let in the fresh air. Then there was a bustling around the house I’ve come to recognize means one (very exciting) thing. Shoes are gathered and the diaper bag is packed to the brim and I know what’s coming next. Adventure. From the ground up, it’s one of my most favorite things.

Except when I get left behind. Disappointment filled my heart this afternoon as adventure incarnate left with mom and dear baby Carter as I stayed behind. Dogs are apparently not allowed wherever they were going, which made my heart sad. The Great Outdoors

So I went to my spot in the window and did my best to stay positive as I soaked up the sunshine and felt a warm breeze run through my fur. I watched as a group of children from a nearby school literally skipped their way down the street. I saw a few people running. The mailman stopped by as he usually does in the afternoon.

I must have dozed off briefly because the next thing I knew, I heard the familiar car engine. The garage door opened. From the open windows I could hear the final notes of a familiar song about a rainbow. The car doors shut. The garage door went down. And in they came.

Adventure. From the ground up, it apparently only lasted just about an hour today. And at first I was heartbroken because it didn’t involve me. I found myself sulking throughout the time they were gone. When they got back, the sight of them together turned my heart’s frown upside down.

It doesn’t matter where they went or for how long. The fresh air and sunshine did them so much good, I could see joy radiating from them both from the inside out. They were smiling and laughing together, and I got an epic squeal and squeeze combination from Carter almost immediately upon their reentry into our forever home.

It made me think of the words of American pilot Amelia Earhart, who said “adventure is worthwhile in itself.” Sure, it would have been nice to be along for the ride. But seeing them come home like that, so happy, so full of life, I didn’t have to experience the adventure to feel it in my heart.

 

A Cartoon A Hero and a Baby July 15, 2014

It occurred to me today. My philosophy on adventure is not that unlike my perspective on life. It is what you make it. If you believe in your heart something is possible, then it is. And as transcendentalist thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson put it, what lies in ahead and behind you doesn’t matter as much as what is within.

That’s why I know adventure becomes us. Big or small, nothing is too silly to be considered an adventure in my world. And when plans go awry and things don’t turn out like they were supposed to, the way I see it at least it was an adventure. Kisses

So today I got to thinking of who I wish I could adventure with if fiction were reality and time was relative. I think the first two are pretty simple. I wish I could explore the world with Snoopy of the comic strip Peanuts. He always could make something out of nothing. He sought out adventure in simple things. And I want to know what he thought about all that time he stared into the sky on the top of his dog house.

The second would be Benji, a well-known canine personality featured in a number of movies from the 1970s to the 2000s. He was blessed with a knack of being in the right place at the right time. He sought out ways to help others in big and small ways. He was a hero.

As I watched dear baby Carter today I realized he would be the third character whose adventures I wish I could live. Sure, he is not fictional and has two feet instead of four hands, but his mind is a very mysterious place to me. He is so curious. So many things make him smile. And the way he puzzles about things like he is seeing them for the first time is itself a marvel, especially because most times it is new to him.

The way he gazes at the shadows on the ceiling or the light cast into the room by the blinds. The way grabs his butterfly off his activity center. The look on his face when he had is first taste of peas (a personal favorite of mine). These things fascinate him. In turn they fascinate me.

As I watched him gobble up his first taste of another new “solid” food today (I giggle since it all looks a lot like mush to me), some of the mystery in his mind was brought to life. It’s not that unlike my perspective on life being what you make it. Everything is an adventure to him right now. It’s refreshing. But as I watched the life his curious mind brought to my forever parents as they too became part of the adventure, I realized it’s more than that. It’s inspiring.

 

 

Keeps On Giving December 29, 2013

It was dark. It was cold. And it was fun. That is, until it wasn’t. I ran away from grandma’s house tonight. I saw the back door open and I made a run for it. I love the way the brisk Wisconsin winter air ran through my fur as I ran around the block.

I followed two things: the scent of a nearby dog and the light from the main street nearby. I didn’t really hear dad and his brother Joe yelling after me at first. In fact, I figured they were simply joining in an especially exciting game of chase. But it wasn’t too long after that when my little adventure stopped being fun. Clearly Joe and dad misunderstood the rules of the game. Dad scooped me up and kept using several of my least favorite words.Sassy? Me?

Naughty. Bad. Sassy. I much prefer words like cute and cuddly, so you can imagine my dismay at hearing these words over and over as we made our way back to grandma’s house. There I was met with a whole host of emotions, the majority of which resembled the aftermath of minor heart attacks. Everyone had gathered in the kitchen. And everyone was concerned. Well, I guess you could say they were more than concerned. They were freaked. Especially mom, who kept saying something about a forecast with -25 degree wind chills tonight (whatever that means).

As I surveyed the rest of the faces of these people I’ve come to love, any of the residual wonderment I felt on my little jaunt lost its moxie and I felt nothing but remorse. It wasn’t that fun. And (now that they mention it) it was cold. And dark. And I’m not certain I would have known how to get back to grandma’s house without the help of dad and Joe. Maybe this whole adventure wasn’t such a good idea after all.

Because family offers its own kind of adventure you can’t find outside. We were all together to celebrate Christmas and there were all kinds of beautiful gifts for everyone. I made out like a bandit with treats and toys. But the best part of the night was the snuggles. I snuggled with whomever would let me, and in doing so I got the best gift of all in return. Love. The gift that keeps on giving.

 

The Time Wings October 27, 2013

I don’t think I’d call myself a morning doggie. Like many of my canine comrades, I like my sleep. Though I prefer to call my daytime naps daydreams, let’s be honest. I’m sleeping. I sleep a lot.

Not only that, but I have this whole sleepy morning routine. I snuggle my way into what I guess people call a spooning situation with either mom or dad until it’s time for them to wake up. Then I keep them company while they get ready to go to that place called work. I have a special spot in the bathroom (on the rug I’m certain they place on the tile especially for me) where I watch the chaos unfold.

JoyThen I usually sneak back on the bed and snuggle into the pillows until it’s time for them to leave. At that point, I move to my doggie bed in the kitchen where I get a treat. I think the treat is meant to neutralize my disappointment at their leaving, but obviously it’s just a treat. It’s not my people. So I daydream my mornings away where (in my mind at least) I’m running around the dog park or exploring new places with my people.

All of this takes a holiday on weekends. And while I am inexplicably motivated by routine, this is one routine I don’t mind veering away from. Because I wouldn’t say I’m a morning doggie, but there is one kind of morning I can’t get enough of. Weekend mornings are my favorite. Every weekend is different, and not all mornings are the same, but there is something that seems to happen regardless. Time stands still. For just a few moments, the outside world ceases to exist. We three (soon to be four) musketeers embrace the time together.

It doesn’t have to be in the morning. Or on the weekends. But I think it’s so important to take these moments every now and then to pause to embrace those you love. “Be like the bird who, pausing in her flight awhile on boughs to slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing she hath wings,” wrote French romanticist Victor Hugo.

I wouldn’t say I’m a morning doggie. But there is something about mornings I look forward to each day. Those precious moments, no matter how fleeting, are the wings with which we fly.

 

Far From Home July 16, 2013

I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. It wasn’t so bad. I knew where I was going and where I came from. But none of that matters. I’m in the emotional dog house tonight.

It all started so innocently. I was just doing my usual thing in the backyard when I realized I wasn’t properly attached to my lead. So I did what any dog would do – I went on an adventure. I figure I knew my way around from all of my walks with mom around the neighborhood. I said hello to the neighbor dogs, who were barking enviously from their yards. I stopped by more fire hydrants than usual to mark my territory. I even got all kinds of attention from the children at the neighborhood playground. That was my favorite part.

It was all downhill from there. I heard dad approaching and he didn’t sound happy. In fact, he sounded angry. More angry than I recall ever hearing him sound before. Wiley! Wiley WILEY!!!! He was yelling my name in a way that made me much prefer to stay and be petted more by the nice children. But I figured it would probably make things worse if I further extended my adventure, so I went to him and he took me home.

I estimate I made it a whopping four blocks away on my adventure, which is (by far) the farthest I’ve ever journeyed on my own. And I knew where I was the whole time (there’s a reason us canines were gifted with the amazing sense of smell).

So why was dad so angry? Why was mom crying when I got home? I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. But I also don’t particularly care for dad being angry or mom being sad. In fact, I realized as I watched them breathe what I think was a collective sigh of relief that dad was probably mad because mom was sad. And mom was sad because she doesn’t realize I was just on an adventure around a neighborhood I know like the back of my paw. She thought I was leaving her. Leaving them. Leaving my forever home, my dream home, forever.I'm Sorry Now

Why would I do such a thing? It’s not the first time I’ve seen them overreact, and I know its not the last. But maybe I will keep my adventures closer to home from now on. After all, there is a very important lesson to be learned from all of this. It’s not worth it to put people I love more than anything in the world through the apparent agony. Adventure may come at a price too high sometimes.

 

I Believe I Can Fly June 26, 2013

It’s a sight to be seen. Sometimes when I see other dogs doing it I laugh a little inside. But it doesn’t change the pure unadulterated truth. We canines sure do love sticking our heads out the windows of cars. It doesn’t what we look like, generally with our eyes all squinty, fur all slicked back, and ears out like wings. We are flying high and nothing can get us down.

And as we are (in my neck of the woods) in the heat of a time of year when it is best for dogs to avoid car rides altogether, I find myself reflective on some of my best car ride moments. I’ve had so many its hard to choose just one, but the heat of the day today reminded me of a day at about the same time of year two summers ago.

Laughter so incredibly gut-wrenching it brought my mom to tears. That, my friends, is what I most vividly remember about one of the most memorable car rides of my little doggie life. My aunt Morgan had just recently become the proud owner of a Volkswagen convertible, which she was committed to keeping clean and spotless inside and out. She wasn’t necessarily thrilled when my mom pleaded to bring me along on whatever summer adventure they were about to embark upon, but she ultimately agreed to let me tag along. (I gave her “the look” – you know the one – and she couldn’t say no). I Believe

I don’t remember too many details about the adventures that unfolded other than the car ride to get there. It was yet another instance of life’s journeys being more exciting than the destinations. There I was, on my first ride in a convertible with its top down, and my mom and her sister could not stop laughing. Not just giggling. This was full-fledged, gut-busting, face-turning-purple, almost-peeing-your-pants laughter. I had no idea what they were laughing so hard about, but it didn’t matter. I was in car ride heaven.

I had more wind in my fur than ever before, my eyes were certainly not even open because of the squinting, and my ears were slicked back against my head. In that moment, I could fly. In the soundtrack of a dog’s life, R. Kelly’s lyrics to “I Believe I Could Fly” were blaring in my head. In that moment felt more free than I ever had before. (Which is ironic as I know some of my former pals from the streets would consider my station in life as a family pet to be restrictive and undesirable. Not for me.) In that moment, I felt free because I felt safe and loved and no one could take that away from me. Not to mention all that laughter in the car made my heart smile.

All right, all right, I will admit it. (I may be cute but I’m not stupid). I’m 99.99% certain that they were laughing at me, because (let’s face it) I know I looked absolutely ridiculous. It is a sight to be seen, after all, when us dogs stick our heads out car windows. But to us it doesn’t what we look like, generally with our eyes all squinty, fur all slicked back, and ears out like wings. We are flying high and nothing can get us down.

 

My Kind of Zoo June 4, 2013

My mom and I have this weekday morning routine. She usually wakes up before dad, let’s me outside and then feeds me my kibble and water. I stand guard on the bath mat (which I’m certain is laid out specifically for me because of the chilly tiles) while she readies for the day. Dad leaves for that place called work, usually giving me a healthy pat on the head before closing the door behind him. When mom is leaving, I do a circle and sit in my doggie bed in the kitchen awaiting the surprise treat she always leaves me. (I’m not one to turn down the treats, but let’s face it – a treat is no fair trade for her leaving me all day).  The New Look

Today I was mid-sit in my bed when she said the magical words that turned routine into an adventure. Car ride, Wiley? Well all right then, I thought, as I practically jumped into my leash and off we went. A few minutes into the ride, she said another set of words I associate with adventure. Haircut, Wiley? I wagged my tail wildly to ensure she knew this was a more than acceptable turn of events. It might not be the typical doggie reaction to going to the groomer, but I’m not your typical doggie.

While I’m not that crazy about the entire process of being bathed, trimmed, and brushed, I do love everything else about my trips to Paws R Us. When I get there, I’m greeted by all of my pals who hang out at the shop while the groomer named Mary does her magic. It is chaos personified, with dogs everywhere pacing and playing and barking. It’s my kind of zoo.

My time today took an interesting turn for the thought-provoking as I waited in the back room for mom to come pick me up. I met a lab/chow mix puppy named Titus who wanted to wrestle and paw at my head and bare his razor-sharp puppy teeth. I wanted to talk philosophy and dreams. (I tried telling him about my blog, but he didn’t seem to have any idea what a computer is, let alone a blog).

That’s when it hit me. I’m getting older. I used to love engaging with rabble rousers like Titus, but today I only enjoyed our playtime for a few minutes before I got bored. I guess it would be kind of like the equivalent of when a person finds his or her first gray hair. I can’t say it was a happy revelation to come to amidst the adventure of today. I even found myself having a moment of self-doubt, like maybe my forever mom and dad won’t love me as much when I get old and loose my spark.

But it didn’t take much to snap me out of that horribly sad state of mind. I saw my spark was alive and well in mom’s eyes when she came to take me home. He looks adorable, she told Mary with a humongous smile on her face. And just like that, all of my negative thoughts faded away.

This is the mom, I thought, who feeds me and walks me and plays with me and tells me she loves me. What was I thinking? I decided then and there to leave my self-doubt behind just like all my fur on the groomer table. As it should be, according to the wise words of great transcendental thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson. “Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you,” Emerson once said. It’s amazing what one can learn about yourself from a little unexpected adventure to the zoo.

Before            Before and After. What do you think?                  After

 

I Can’t Wait to See the View March 15, 2013

Today was like most Fridays. My parents woke up later than they wished, let me outside, filled my bowls with breakfast and water, rushed around to get ready and left for that place they call work. I slept until mom came home over her lunch break to let me outside and spend a little time with me, then she disappeared again. I slept some more. Then they got home at about the same time, made dinner together, filled my bowls with dinner and water…well you get the idea. I realized today that while I love a sense of adventure as much as the next dog, I do like our routines. They bring stability to my life story.Atop a Mountain

I will admit there are moments in my past I choose not to remember. I know I’ve mentioned it before. And I keep telling myself it’s for my own good. I keep telling myself to live my present with high hopes for the future that look nothing like the past I once knew. But maybe I’m going about things the wrong way. Maybe I’m not doing my life story justice with my emotional autobiographical edits.

A light turned on in one of those dark attics of my past tonight during something referred to in our family as a love fest. I know it as an especially long petting session for me, usually involving both mom and dad telling me they love me in their own unique ways (mom saying it directly, dad implying it with his silly behavior). I realized in that moment that if not for the valleys of my past I wouldn’t know how much to appreciate the view from the mountaintops. I know now from looking down from the mountains that the valleys are where the growth happens. That’s where the life is. I realized in that moment I am indeed doing myself an injustice by not being honest.

“People will tell you most of the story,” writes Nicholas Sparks in his recent novel Safe Haven, “and I’ve learned that the part they neglect to tell you is often the most important part. People hide the truth because they’re afraid.” I am done being afraid. The time has come to embrace the fear that Sarah Ban Breathnach refers to in Simple Abundance as “false evidence appearing real.”

Today was like most Fridays. And I do glory in routines. But I also love adventures: good or bad. Sure, there are moments in my past I would prefer not to remember. But I’m not doing my story justice with my emotional editing. I don’t want to live an emotionally edited life story. Because without spending some time in the valleys, we wouldn’t be able to move forward to the climbing the next mountain. I can’t wait to see the view.

 

Open My Eyes? I See Happiness March 2, 2013

Every now and then, my parents take off my collar. And I hate it. I am listless and anxious and I want it back. While it definitely eases in the scratching of my ears, that is the only positive thing I have to say about any amount of time without my collar.

So it might come as a surprise that my favorite character in the Disney classic Lady and the Tramp is none other than Tramp himself. He is such a strong, confident independent personality. He welcomes adventure at every turn and challenges those who don’t. He is an inspiration.

But let’s face it. He’s got it all wrong. He spends the majority of the movie trying to convince the domesticized dogs that life on the streets is better than life on a leash. Where Lady sees nice homes and fences, Tramp sees limitations. “Open your eyes! Look, there’s a whole hunk of world down there, with no fence around it. Where two dogs can find adventure and excitement. And beyond those distant hills, who knows what wonderful experiences? And it’s all ours for the taking, Pige. It’s all ours.”

Camping 2012

That’s the thing about adventure. It is all ours, but (in my humble opinion) it is better shared with people. I would take life on a leash with the right people over life without it any day of the week. I’ve been boating, camping, and overall adventuring and I enjoyed it that much more because I was with my people. I am happy, they are happy, and all is well in the world. My happy place is with my people, regardless of what we’re doing together.

Like Oprah Winfrey says, “the biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.” That is what I do each day, leash or no leash. Life with no collar makes me anxious. I would much rather be wearing my it because my collar has my tags. My collar says who I am and where my home is. Without it, I am a stray again. Wise as he may have been, Tramp questioned what the leash-and-collar set does for excitement. It’s no question to me. I say it brings it to life.