Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

A Shower of Gold October 9, 2013

Sometimes I want it. Badly. Other times I’m overcome with relief that I never really have to worry about it. This thing called money offers me a variety of emotional responses. Lately I’ve been struggling with the realization that while I am blessed not to have to worry about it, it doesn’t go unnoticed. Instead my people worry about it. A lot.

Money, money money. It used to come up occasionally, but the frequency has increased lately as preparations continue for my new little person. And its never really a happy conversation. Not that there is arguing or fighting, but us canines have a sense for things like stress and tension.Its just money

It happened again today. I overheard them talking about it and I was overcome with longing. I wanted money. I wanted to buy them all the nice things for the little person they keep talking about like a travel system (whatever that is) and a mobile for the crib. I wanted to give them everything they think they want.

But that’s just it. Wants are not always needs. And needs are not always wants. It sure would be nice if I somehow had all kinds of money to spend on these things. But that’s all they are – things. Just things. Things don’t create happiness, no matter how necessary they seem. Moments of real joy begin in the heart, not the mind.

I was reminded of this tonight as mom and I took a quick walk around the neighborhood right as the sun was setting. It made for a beautiful scene, with the sun shining through the trees as the leaves fell peacefully along our path. And I realized in those precious moments there is this thing about beauty – its completely free. And (even better) it often buys happiness. And joy. And gratitude.

“Here we are sitting in a shower of gold,” observed Australian writer Christia Stead, “with nothing to hold up but a pitchfork.”

It seems I’ve gotten it all wrong. I don’t want money. I want my people’s worry to go away. I want them to see the beauty in all things like I do and feel the sense of emotional richness that brings. I want them to be happy. These wants are really needs in my book. So today I renew my vow to do my small part to highlight these things in our lives, starting with my people. Because I know my heart contains within it its very own shower of gold.

 

The Perfume of Life June 12, 2013

Dog noses can pick up some pretty incredible scents. We can be trained to hunt for illegal drugs and missing persons. We can find buried treasures in the backyard we stowed away for a special occasion. We can smell that pepperoni pizza before the pizza delivery guy even gets out of his car. Regardless of what we use them for, the dog nose is a pretty priceless asset to us canines.

I use mine for all sorts of good (and evil…that garbage can never sees me coming!), including breathing in all the fabulousness of life I can handle. The fresh green grass after dad finishes with that loud contraption called a lawnmower. The bacon I occasionally get to sample after Saturday brunch. And (perhaps my favorite scent of all) the smell of my people.

I’m not talking the smell after they do their ritualistic readying routines involving various forms of scented shampoos, hair styling products, perfumes and lotions. I’m talking about their natural people smell. It might sound weird, but that is one most heavenly smells to those of us who are fortunate to find forever homes. To us, that is the smell of happiness, love and true joy.

Jess (at 10 weeks) and IAll of this came to the forefront of my doggie heart tonight when we got a visit from my mom’s good friend Jessica (also known as mom of my doggie pal Diesel). From the moment she walked in, I was absolutely enamored with her smell. And while my mom immediately attributed my obsessive sniffing to smelling Diesel, I knew better. I knew better seven months ago when Jessica was frequently visiting my mom after her knee reconstruction surgery, and I know better now. She smells like life. And I’d choose the smell of life over that of any designer perfume.

Sure, there was a faint underlying sense of vanilla and cocoa, but my heart paid no attention to that. She sat on the couch and I couldn’t help myself from sniffing all over her rounded tummy and nuzzling up against her hair. I only half heard the conversation she was having with my mom about how she is feeling with just a few days left before the baby is born. She can’t wait to meet the baby, and (to be honest) neither can I. It smells so good already and it’s not even born yet!

I don’t think I realized it until today, but this smell of life might be my new favorite people smell. It’s not really something I’ve been exposed to in the past, and I’m not likely to be exposed to it too often in my doggie life. So today I breathed it in with all my might because it truly is special. I was reminded at some point amidst my epic sniff fest that a dog’s nose can smell some pretty spectacular things. There are many moments in a dog’s life that we unconsciously give thanks for our gift of smell, but today surpassed that for me. This was no buried bone or pepperoni pizza. I smelled life today. And it smells fabulous.

This post is dedicated to my pal Diesel, who in a few precious days, will become a big doggie brother to baby Sternard. Congrats dude!

Dieselmeister

 

Another Man’s Trash May 14, 2013

The great and infamous “they” say one person’s garbage is another person’s treasure. Well, us canines are masters at making treasure out of life’s most unusual garbage. While some of us are more subtle about it than others, we canines do some pretty good treasure hunting. From garbage cans to discarded Kleenexes, we have a gift of finding gold in the most unusual of places.

Treasure SeekerI got to thinking about this earlier today when laying on the bathroom blanket my people refer to as a bathmat. (I’m so blessed to have people so considerate to lay down this thing called a bathmat specifically for me because the bathroom floor tiles are chilly. I’m sure it has nothing to do with keeping the water off the tiles.) Every morning the Schmidt bathroom offers a myriad of scents and aromas I can’t say I appreciate.

Lotions and potions and perfumes, oh my! It is so confusing to me why my people try to hard to mask their natural (in my opinion beautiful) smell. In the shower they go: body wash, rinse, shampoo, rinse, conditioner, rinse.  Then after the shower, there’s lotions and perfumes (or colognes) and deodorant. It’s exhausting to me.

Why not find treasure in the garbage? Why not embrace one’s natural scent rather than masking it with various lotions and perfumes? I wish I could explain to my people that is why I obsessively roll around in clean clothes and dirty towels. They don’t smell like home. Call me crazy, but I love the natural smell of all my loved ones. Dogs and people alike, I prefer them in their most natural form.

“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus,” said American author Mark Twain. My eyes, nose, and imagination are finely tuned, if I do say so myself. To me, another person’s garbage is only an imaginative thought away from being my treasure.

 

Mirror, Mirror April 17, 2013

I had an interesting conversation with myself today. I know all dogs react differently to mirrors, and I know that I generally avoid the mirrors in my forever home. It’s not for any good reason, I just don’t see any value in making adjustments to my general appearance as I have come to accept my look as part of who I am.

But today I realized it’s not the avoidance I should be afraid of, and instead the lessons I’m missing that lay behind that special kind of glass. I’ve said before I don’t like how my mom looks at herself in the mirror, so today I thought I’d give these mirrors some extra attention to see what on Earth their problem is. At first I wasn’t sure how much I gained from the experiment, as the reflection staring back at me looked just as I thought it would. It looked just like I see myself in my head.A Wiley Portrait

That’s when it clicked. My mom doesn’t see herself in her head like I see her. Heck, she doesn’t even see herself in her head like the world at large sees her. Obviously, I see her through the eyes of complete and unconditional love, and I wish nothing more than for her to see herself that same way. And I know all those who love her see the same beautiful person I do.

But I’ve also heard this theory that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. While I think there might be some truth to it, I can’t say I totally agree with that theory. I’ve mentioned before I’m not that big a fan of the emotions I see all over my mom’s face when she sees her reflection in the mirror. So today I wondered, am I the beholder in that case, or is she?

“Everything has beauty,” ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius said, “but not everyone sees it.” I make it a point to see beauty in all things, but I know that’s not always the case, especially with the women in my life. As a lover of life and all the beauty in it, it didn’t used to make any sense to me why my mom didn’t see how beautiful she is.

But I had an interesting conversation with myself in the mirror today. I tried to imagine what it is like to be her, pressured with all the run of the mill standards of society, and it made sense. Women are their worst beauty critics, as demonstrated in a recent study done by Dove.

All the more reason for us canines in their lives to show them how much they are loved. It might seem silly to some, since we can’t actually say how beautiful they are to us, but at least through our love we can hopefully demonstrate how special they are. As the great American poet Emily Dickenson once said, “beauty is not caused, it is.” It’s just up to us to see it in all the right places.

 

Eagles Are Flying April 12, 2013

2013-04-04 17.53.53I’ve been struggling with a secret lately. It’s something I had preferred not to share with the world, but if there is something I’ve learned in life, it is usually the things we don’t want others to know that become the most important to share.

So here it is: I have been struggling to find inspiration lately. I know, I know, the optimist in me should find something to say about each and every day, but I will admit even the optimist has a slow day every now and then. Add to that the dreary days in our area, and you have yourself a recipe for optimistic disaster.

But I refuse to see it as anything other than an opportunity for growth, so I believe in Sarah Ban Breathnach’s words in Simple Abundance. “A generous heart, a spontaneous smile, and eyes that sparkle with delight can be part of a (person’s) signature look once she awakens to his or her authentic beauty.”

I wouldn’t disagree with the importance of authentic beauty, but I would break it down to include valuable and unparalleled sense of self-understanding.

I know self-understanding and authentic beauty aren’t easily obtained. Quite the contrary, in fact, to the point where I would argue society brings the very definition of authentic beauty into question. Regardless, I have found that authentic beauty (or beauty of the soul as I call it) is worth the journey of self-understanding that leads you there. And so I come full circle and in doing so agree that full disclosure is best practice in blogging.

I wouldn’t call it writer’s block because my head is constantly budding with words my heart is dying to say. My generous heart finds hope in the spontaneous moments of inspiration, but when there is no inspiration, there is room for improvement. Room for growth. How else do baby eagles learn to fly? They don’t soar beautifully out of the gate. It takes time and practice and patience. In the meantime, I’ll take these dreary days as a reminder to keep the eyes of my heart focused on the sky until I’m ready to fly again.

 

Brighter Than Sunshine March 10, 2013

French poet Victor Hugo once said “to love beauty is to see light.” I could use some light on this dreary Sunday afternoon, so I find myself exploring what beauty looks like to me. “Beauty in things exists in the mind which contemplates them,” as fellow empiricist thinker David Hume put it.

I love Hume’s statement as it reflects my belief that beauty starts in the mind. It radiates from the soul. And it shines brightly in those who value inner beauty over glitz and glamour. So it might not come as that big a surprise that I am not a fan of the dog show world. Don’t get me wrong – they’re not all bad. But taken to the big stage that is the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show (and others like it), my disdain is threefold and I simply can’t try to understand it from their point of view.

Please bear in mind, this perspective comes from someone who would most definitely be considered a mutt in the outwardly analytical eyes of the Westminster judges. If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times: “what kind of dog is that?” No one knows. The shows only pass judgment on what they consider to be “accepted breeds,” which I am most definitely not.

Moreover, the Westminster dropped Pedigree as one of its main sponsors after 24 years in 2012. The reason? Pedigree was running a campaign in support of helping shelter dogs (like me) find their forever homes. No. They say right on the Westminster web site they only want “the best of the best…Storied in its history, rich in its tradition, the Westminster’s Kennel Club famed annual dog show is unique, prestigious, and elegant for all concerned.”Just A Mutt with a Big Heart

Much like what the elegance of Hollywood has done to encourage the staggering statistics that accompany eating disorders among women, these shows measure beauty on an unreasonable scale. Dogs are being held to different more physically demanding standards than ever before. In some cases, the evolving physical guidelines are encouraging breeders to make changes that ultimately cause serious health problems. While judges are now seeking a more severe slope in the back of a German Shepherd, breeding to meet the standard is causing more hip dysplasia on an already common problem in that breed. Pug faces are deemed most anatomically correct the flatter they are, but the poor little dogs suffer from breathing problems as a result. Is it worth it?

I would much rather measure beauty in its purest form. “You are not your appearance, but does the rest of the world know that?” Sarah Ban Breathnach asks in Simple Abundance. How different the world would look if we all asked ourselves that question on a daily basis.

In my case, it would be a reminder that I actually love everything about my unique appearance and my (relatively) normal life in my loving forever home. Those Westminster judges might call me a mutt, but I’m okay with that because I am a believer in the power inner beauty can have on the outer world. Forget the glamorous dog shows. I don’t need a fancy ribbon or trophy to know when I see inner beauty, I see light brighter than sunshine.

Related Articles

http://www.care2.com/causes/the-westminster-dog-show-is-hurting-dogs.html

http://www.care2.com/causes/westminster-dog-show-rebuffs-shelter-dogs.html

 

Simplify – An Inner Journey January 2, 2013

There is great power in words. Once uttered, they can’t be taken back. That is one of many reasons I love the written word. I’ve heard from a couple of different people that mom used to keep a book of words. Not in any particular or logical order, just a collection of words she thought were unique, insightful or just plain neat.

Day three with Simple Abundance is a reflection on some of life’s most powerful vocabulary words. “At the heart of Simple Abundance is an authentic awakening, one that resonates with your soul,” Breathnach writes. “You already possess all you need to be genuinely happy.”

In a world that seeks psychological acceptance from exterior sources, Breathnach challenges that genuine and sincere happiness occurs through internal understanding and appreciation of a set of big picture words. When weaved together, these high octave words piece together a road sign toward internal happiness.

Gratitude – What am I most thankful for? This is an easy one. I am thankful to my parents for bringing me into a loving home.
Simplicity – I don’t need treats. I don’t need praise. What I need is to wake up each day and be thankful for what I already have.
Order – My best days are those with structure. I do enjoy the occasional detour, but without the home I’m thankful for and my parents who love me, I wouldn’t have structure or adventure.
Harmony – Herein lies the key. I have pledged to make an effort to live in harmony with all things, to recognize it, to embrace it.
Beauty – Its everywhere. In the snowflakes of winter, and the dog days of summer. I will live to find beauty in even the ugliest of days.
Joy – And so we come full circle. When I started this blog, I sought to share my unique perspective on joy with the world, because it is my belief that joy is meant to be shared.

My inner journey is simple in nature. It seeks to grasp on to these powerful words and how they work in my life and to share the resulting joy with the world.