Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The Solid Foundation December 6, 2014

For some of us, I think it starts day one. From the moment we begin taking in the world around us, the foundation on which we will build the rest of our lives is built. Day by day, memory by memory, the foundation is built and layered upon as life goes on.

For others, I don’t think it’s that easy. I think there is a hurdle (or set of them) that manages to break away that foundation. I’m sure it happens at a variety of times in life. And perhaps it even happens more than once. Be it a negative life event, bad decision, or combination of the two, the result is a shattered core. A broken foundation upon which even a healthy heart could not stand. I’ve heard of this place referred to as rock bottom. Paws for Happy Thoughts

I don’t think it is a place I’ve ever visited. I feel like I would know it if I had. Sure, I had some awful times. One night in particular I remember not knowing for sure I would make it to the morning. But rock bottom? I don’t know that it ever happened to me. To my people? They too have been shaken a few times. Struggled through it. Rock bottom? Maybe. But I don’t think so.

But I know it’s happened to others. Others who weren’t fortunate or blessed enough to avoid encountering anything that completely and totally overwhelmingly devastating. Others who have had their entire world shaken to its core and can’t recognize their foundation, let alone begin rebuilding it.

I thought fondly for these people today as I read the words of British novelist J.K. Rowling, who said “rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

For me, I think it started day one. From the moment I entered the world, I was building my foundation the solid ground of optimism. But because of this I am definitely a fan of new beginnings. Second chances. Life’s opportunities to push the “reset” button. So to anyone out there who might be at that place called rock bottom, you are not alone. And life is not over. Only brightness lies in front of you. Just look up.

 

 

Walking On Sunshine October 21, 2014

I didn’t really need another reason to love fall. From homemade apple pies (and the leftover apple pieces I score) and brisk twilight walks around the neighborhood to Packer football (and my dreams of catching a pass from QB Aaron Rodgers), it’s definitely my favorite season. And don’t get me started on the cuddles.

So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that today I lived another reason to embrace all things fall. There has been somewhat of a pattern forming this time around that involves several cold, dreary days in a row followed by relief otherwise known as the sunshine. Today the sun shined on me as I strolled along next to dear baby Carter in the stroller mom pushed through the neighborhood. As we walked, I felt the crisp fall leaves under my feet and soaked up every ounce of sunshine.

That’s when it happened. I discovered another thing I love about fall. From the ground up, there is no other time of year you can walk on sunshine. Our neighborhood has an abundance of mature trees that a few short weeks ago made for a beautiful landscape as you approached my forever home. That is no longer the case, as much of the trees have now shed their (mostly yellowish) leaves, which can be a bit disheartening. Not to me.

I love the idea that today I walked on sunshine in the sunshine. I was warmed with joy to my core as we perused the neighborhood I’ve grown to know and love. I know I didn’t need another reason to love fall, but you can never have enough reasons to feel blessed. And that is how I felt in that hour or so with my beloved forever mom and dear baby Carter. Completely and utterly blessed.

I know not everyone saw the sunshine today. Literally or figuratively. So today I share the words of American baseball executive Frank Lane, who said “if you want to see the sunshine, you have to weather the storm.”

As certain as I know the sunshine will come again, I believe no one should have to weather the storm alone. For what it’s worth, that is why I choose today to share my sunshine with you in hopes the light of joy is as contagious as I know it can be.

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The Secret Ingredient February 9, 2014

For some people, it’s a choice. For others, it’s as simple as a bloodline. And for me, it happened the day my forever mom and dad brought me into their home. Because they did more than that. They brought me into a family.

I was reminded of this over the weekend as both sides of my forever family joined together to celebrate my dad’s birthday. It was the first time the families have been all together since baby Carter was born and I was prepared for anything. Well, to be honest, I was prepared to step aside and let Carter steal the show. And he did.FamilyNo Secrets

But (to my surprise) I also earned my fair share of attention. I got pets and hugs and play time and treats and amidst it all I got the best thing of all. Love. From the ground up, I am blessed to be loved by such wonderful family members. It happened when I was playing what likely is my hundredth game of pickle in the middle with some of my favorite little people this afternoon.

I realized in those moments the answer to one of life’s most challenging questions. What is the secret ingredient in my recipe for joy? My family. It takes a village, as the proverb says, and I quite like mine. I had no idea that day I came home from the humane society just how blessed I would become.

Because that proverb is right – it does indeed take a village. We all need a good support system in place for those days when the ground shakes around us. For the times when we feel like its us against the world. And for the times we are overcome with joy and need to share it with someone special.

And that someone special may not always be a relative or family member. Sometimes the friends we make along the way become their own kind of family. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a few of those in my life as well.

So to those who say you can’t choose your family, I disagree. Because in my case, they chose me.

 

A Snow Globe Life December 17, 2013

At first I thought for sure it was the snowflakes. It snowed again yesterday and I found myself in awe of the glittery magic all around me. It was like being in a snow globe. The flakes fell from the sky so peacefully. Once they lay to rest, they create a blanket of sparkling diamonds in my backyard paradise. So I thought maybe if I could collect anything in the world it would be snowflakes.

But today as the snow melted ever so slightly I realized how silly that would be. There are no lasting remnants of the snow after it’s gone. By summertime it’s like it never even existed. That is, until winter rolls around again and brings with it the frozen particles of joy.

So maybe if I could collect anything, I would collect toys. In all of their various shapes, colors and sizes, they are vessels of happiness for me. And, as demonstrated by my impressive skills in the games of pickle in the middle and tug of war, they often bring happiness to my people as well. I refer to my current collection as my comfort circle, which contains about a dozen different characters. But that’s enough to overflow an entire basket in the living room. Maybe that’s enough. Maybe I don’t need more.

ContentmentMaybe I don’t need more. This is not to say anything against collections of things, but I realized today there is strength in accepting what we have been blessed with in life. In being grateful for it. Because ultimately it’s not the things we collect that matter. It’s the details. It’s the moments.

As breathtaking as a fresh snow globe perspective can be, it’s not so much the snowflakes as the joy they bring that I hold close to my heart. Its the moments I share with mom and dad playing around in the aftermath of a big snowstorm. In the extra attention I get when we come inside from playing together and I need to get all cleaned off. In the cuddles we enjoy together to warm up.

The same goes for the toys. It’s not so much about having dozens of characters in my comfort circle as it is about making the moments with the ones I have mean something. And whether it’s just me and Mrs. Prickles, or my people are involved, I am blessed.

Perhaps that’s the bigger lesson I was to take from my observation of my snow globe life yesterday. Sure, the snowflakes are a sight to be seen. And my toys are deeply loved and appreciated. If I could collect anything, it wouldn’t be these things. It would be moments. Because they have something very important in common. Joy. From the ground up, it’s not the things that bring the joy. It’s in the moments joy is present that we truly live.

 

Just Call Me Blessed September 2, 2013

Swell. Good. Great. Peachy. These are all common responses to what I think is likely the most frequently asked conversational question. How are you? As I am a believer in responding to this question with nothing but sincere honesty, I time to time find myself cooking up creative responses in my mind. Super duper. Splendid. Or (again in support of honesty)  crappy.

Perspective has taught me a lot about the power contained in identifying with such words, or putting labels and names on things. Words are powerful tools to begin with, but names take the conversation to another level.

This struck me today as I found myself feeling particularly happy. It is Labor Day in America, which (for some reason I don’t fully understand) means my people stayed home from that place called work. I’ve never been shy about my love for the weekends, so I suppose it’s not too far a stretch that a three-day weekend is in a land of happiness all its own. Especially since they spent the majority of the day with me at home.

In turn, I enjoyed an unordinary amount of time lounging outside (where I do some of my best thinking). Today as I contemplated these words with which we identify, I searched my memory for something and came up blank. Before I was Wiley (and briefly Zorro), I didn’t have a name. I was just another dog living out my life on the streets. Characters I came across while I was nameless either had given names I picked up or names I assigned them.Peaceful Gratitude

Like Tiger, the lab mix I once misjudged as manipulative and catty because he had a sneaky selfish way about him. It turned out Tiger was sly because he had to be. He was always stealing the best scraps before I could get to them because he was feeding his puppies, not because he was vindictive. But in addition to mystery, tigers are known for their strength and Tiger was one of the strongest dogs I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.

His name (the name I assigned him) was true to who he was. And I would say mine is true to who I am as well, though I know another name would not change my identity. So today as I let the breeze sweep over me and took in all the delicious smells of the neighborhood, I developed a new name for myself.

How am I? I’m blessed. Who am I? Just call me blessed. My days are not always perfect, but this simple truth remains. From the moment I wake to the moment my head hits the proverbial hay I am grateful to be alive. I am, indeed, blessed.