Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground 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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My American Dream July 7, 2014

It probably doesn’t look like anything you would think. Certainly it’s not nearly as shiny or adventurous or out of the ordinary as you might imagine. But it’s mine and I think it’s pretty great. The American Dream. From the ground up, it’s not that unlike joy. I know it looks different to different people, so today I pause to reflect on an article I read about a misconception regarding this otherwise innocent thing. Proud to be an American

Someone who shall remain unnamed and unreferenced (purely out of principal) put out an article in recent days that says it takes an average of $130,000 to live what is conceived as the American Dream. I’m not going to tell you the particulars as it pertains to my beloved family other than that is no where near reality for us.

Yet today as mom spent some time working at home over lunch I couldn’t help but pause to reflect on the beauty of the moment. There we were, together in my backyard paradise, enjoying the warmth of the sunshine. There we were, in the moment listening as a wide variety of songbirds chirped us a song. There we were as baby Carter napped peacefully inside my beloved forever home. And in that moment I felt like the richest little mutt of a doggie known to man.

“For one swallow does not make a summer, nor does one day;” suggested ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, “and so too one day, or a short time, does not make a man blessed and happy.”

I know this to be truth in life. While there are many who could argue we live frugally and on the cheap, I would tell them I’m the richest doggie I know. I’m not ashamed to say it either. It doesn’t come encased in anything special. It’s not worth anything to anyone other than me. And I like it that way. Because to me, that is how joy (from the ground up) should look. I know it’s not anything like what you would think. It’s nothing special or shiny or adventurous like you might imagine. But to me it’s pretty great.

 

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.

 

The Luck We Make January 17, 2014

I don’t mean to be rude. Quite the opposite in fact. I make it a business of mine to speak the truth in love. Even if it hurts. And even though I can’t speak. (At least not on command).

JoyTruth. From the ground up, I have some to share today. It occurred to me as I watched more snow diamonds fall from heaven. Snow is a pretty common occurrence in the beautiful state of Wisconsin, but it never ceases to amaze me with its understated beauty. In today’s peaceful stillness of the snowfall I found myself counting the flakes, each one a reminder of the blessings I have in life.

Family. Love. Loyalty. So many things money can’t buy, all at my paws at a moment’s notice. But I wouldn’t say this makes me lucky. The truth is, I wouldn’t call myself lucky. Friends and family call me this all the time and I tend to disagree. But not for reasons one might think.

I’m not bitter. I have no reason to be negative. But I believe in a lot of things, and luck isn’t one of them. Luck implies happenstance. Chance. Random good fortune. I’ve had too much good in my life happen to believe in such things.

Instead I count my blessings. Each one is unique and brings me a different kind of joy. Like today when baby Carter grabbed my paw in his sleep. My heart surged in that moment and I instantly forgave him for all the screaming he’s been doing morning, noon and night.

No snowflake is alike, and no true and lasting moment of joy is either. Each is a blessing of its own, entirely separate from this think called luck. Truth. From the ground up, I mean no disrespect to anyone who believes in luck. Instead I tend to side with World War II general Douglas MacArthur, who once suggested “the best luck of all is the luck you make for yourself.” And my luck isn’t luck at all. It’s joy. From the ground up, this is the truth I speak in love.

 

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.

 

Get Rich Quick November 29, 2013

Shopping isn’t for me. I’ve tried it a few times when mom was kind enough to let me accompany her to dog-friendly stores and farmer’s markets and pet fairs. While I very much enjoyed the company (and the attention I inevitably draw at these sorts of places), the actual concept of shopping doesn’t trip my proverbial trigger.

I enjoy new toys and treats and fresh bags of dog food as much as the next canine. But the actual process of hunting for it? Not so much. I get far too distracted by the people. So it sounds like I would have been very distracted today, on what my people call Black Friday. I’ve never cared much for black (also known as the color of darkness, sadness and death) and I can’t say I care much for this day either.

Talking MoneyYesterday people all over the country celebrated. They counted their blessings. They cherished time with their loved ones. Then as early as last night, all of that was abandoned for shopping. It doesn’t make any sense to me that people go out and spend so much money on things (that really are just things) so soon after celebrating what they already have. Especially when those little green bills known as money have the power to make people so blue.

This is why I chose to invest differently. Not in things, but in people. My biggest fears were realized in a doggie nightmare I had last night when suddenly, for no rational reason, my people were gone. It was just me, back in a cage, somewhere I didn’t recognize. No other cages surrounded me. I was completely alone. Thank heavens mom woke me up from that particular nightmare. Reality never looked so beautiful.

I know I have it pretty good. I am blessed, as my mom would say. But I know why I’m so rich with blessings – my fortune is not in those little green bills or in the Christmas presents that (at the very least) do seem to bring as much joy to the giver as the receiver. No sir. My fortune is in the people who make my life special. You can go shopping for a lot of things, but you can’t shop for those people. For friends. Or family. These are the true riches in my little doggie life.

 

I Made My Bed September 15, 2013

I dont have many regrets in life. I generally make an effort not to regret even the most regrettable of things by finding a silver lining in any situation. But (as hard as it may be to admit) nobody’s perfect. We all make mistakes.

Feeling ReflectiveI was reminded of one of mine today when my forever parents came home with a gift for me. I’ve come to expect that there is at least something for me in those goody-filled plastic bags they bring home after running errands. From treats to toys, I’m usually right. Today’s present didn’t come in a bag. It was a brand new fluffy blue cloud of a dog bed. This will be my third since being in my forever home, which I frankly find unnecessary.

If it were up to me I would still have my first one. I had just worn it in enough so that it had all the right smells and a nice layer of my fur atop the entirety of the plush surface. Something tells me the same factors that made it feel homey to me made it fall under the category of “nasty” to my people. The second was headed in the same direction as the first and (in mine and mom’s opinion) it could have been saved before it took its trip to the scary green garbage bin. Dad did not agree.

So alas I now have my third dog bed. All to myself. I wish I could have found a way to convince dad to donate those other beds to a local shelter instead of throwing them away. Like in some karmic way that would repay the wrong I did once. Because in reality this is actually my fourth dog bed. The New Digs

Shelter (let alone comfort) was not always so easy to come by while I lived on the streets so you can imagine my overwhelming sense of excitement when I found it. A discarded dog bed on the side of the road. It smelled like spoiled fish, rotten eggs and felines. I didn’t care. It may as well been the doggie Hilton compared to the cardboard box I’d been living in for the last few weeks. So of course I didn’t want to share it with the family of kittens that came my way that night. There were four of them and they were shivering. They were all alone. They kept trying to snuggle and I shooed them away. The bed was mine after all. Not theirs.

They eventually wandered off, but I will never forget the look of desperation in the eyes of the last kitten to leave. I’m reminded of that look today as I snuggle up in my cozy new bed. It’s a crisp one as fall is approaching and I feel so blessed to have such a comfortable place to keep warm. Thinking of those kittens reminds me of how lucky I am. I generally don’t need a reminder to count my blessings, but I got one today.

I don’t have many regrets in life. But nobody’s perfect. I made my bed and now I have to sleep in it. Fortunately for me, I do a lot of good thinking in my sleep. This is why I know for sure we all make mistakes. It’s what we learn from them that matters.

 

Such A Loney Word August 4, 2013

I think it’s called nesting. And apparently it’s normal. But I have to admit, the way my people are acting this weekend has thrown me for a loop. It reminds me of that Saturday a couple of months ago when they moved around all the furniture. Except now instead of moving things around, they can’t stop talking about all this new stuff.

Crib, changing table, pack and play…I’ve never heard of any of these things before recently. Yet I’ve managed to gather that a crib is like my doggie bed, changing table is like outside, and a pack and play sounds like a place I can’t wait to investigate. Not to mention the conversations about all of these things seem to get mom and dad pretty excited. I can hear it in their voices, see it in their eyes and even feel it in their heartbeats. They are thrilled, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it all. Dont Worry, Be Happy

So I didn’t care much for the direction of the conversation today when they got back from a place called Babies ‘R Us. All of the excitement had been replaced with fear and apprehension. About being good parents. About giving the baby everything. About money. Whether our forever home is big enough. They weren’t exactly fighting, but the conversation still made me uncomfortable.

As usual, I wished I could interrupt to remind them of how blessed we are to have each other. To have a roof over our heads. To be alive.

They got there on their own eventually but it felt like it took forever. It’s all relative, dad said. The more you make, the more you pay for things. It goes both ways. And jealousy never does anyone any good. It’s a very lonely word that doesn’t merit any emotional energy. Not when we’re blessed with so much already.

“It is not love that is blind, but jealousy,” British novelist and poet Lawrence Durrell suggested. Well, fortunately for all of us the cloud of blindness has been lifted as the conversation returned to things like cribs, changing tables and pack and plays. I guess it’s called nesting. And (even though it all sounds a bit like a foreign language to me right now) it’s music to my little doggie ears.

 

The Happiness Trinity May 30, 2013

Charlie. Milkbones. Home. A list of randomness to some, a daily happiness trinity to me.

It reminds me a bit of a bit I saw on “Sesame Street” many moons ago. I think I caught a couple episodes during my stint at my first adoptive home. The part I remember most is a song “one of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong.” I took the song at face value given my puppyhood at the time, but now I better understand the greater psychological implications of a the concept. One of these things doesn’t belong.Think Happy!

That was the story of me at the time. I know I didn’t belong on the streets. I didn’t belong at the humane society. I didn’t belong at my first adoptive home (with the people who adopted me and took me back to the humane society two weeks later). I’ve known it all along, but that didn’t necessarily make things easier. What did was changing my thought process to find a way to make myself belong, regardless of my surroundings. By using the tools I’d been blessed with at puppy birth, I was able to find my way to happiness even when the road was long and tough.

The secret equation that led me to where I am today? Finding three blessings to be thankful for on a daily basis, no matter how small. I find joy in all sorts of unusual places, and in doing so, I’m not like the others but at least I belong.

Today I met a dog named Charlie at the dog park. He is a five-month-old golden retriever, who reminded me a bit of my pals named Rusty. He was so full of life, and his playfulness was contagious. He had a personality that made you happy just because he was so happy. When I got home from the dog park, mom gave me two Milkbones (the joy involved is probably pretty self-explanatory on this one).

Then there’s that place called home. After all those places I didn’t belong, I now have a place called home. My happiness trinity is complete.

 

The Family Fortune May 20, 2013

It was an absolutely beautiful day in Wisconsin today. The sun was shining its warmth on us and there was a solid breeze from the south to keep things feeling toasty. Literally. Today brought a warmth to the soul that breeds joy from the heart. That is, until I realized how awful a hand of weather was being dealt a few states to our south.

Tornadoes tore through Kansas and Oklahoma today, leaving whole neighborhoods in their wake. The latest reports are confirming casualties at an elementary school in Oklahoma City. Precious little people who were going about their day learning their multiplication tables and how to write haiku poetry. Gone. Lives are changed forever, ripped apart by mother nature. All of this on a day that seemed pretty close to perfect in my little part of the world.

I generally make a point of avoiding disturbing news, but today I find value in a moment’s paws to reflect. The physical devastation left behind by these tornadoes is apparent, but what’s less visible is the emotional wounds that have yet to seem real to those affected. Houses can be rebuilt, streets reconstructed, building facades altered, but you can’t bring back the precious lives lost today. This is where real devastation resides.

While I don’t condone living in constant fear of the unknown, my reflections today have led me to count my blessings. Among them are many valuables that can be easily replaced, as well as two that are absolutely priceless to me. My forever mom and dad. My family. Losing one of them would be like trying to function without the ability to see or hear or taste. I know when a sense is lost, the others generally pick up the slack, but I don’t think my increased love for the one left behind would ever be enough. Together they are ultimately more special to me than everything we have, including the roof over our heads and the endless supply of dog food in my doggie bowl.

The tally of precious lives lost today has not even been finalized yet. And it goes without saying that while the sun was shining in Wisconsin today, a cloud of grief remains. Today was not such a beautiful day for a lot of people. And no insurance policy can bring them back. But I know in my little doggie heart those lost will live on through their loved ones. I remembered this today as I counted my blessings, and among them was a fortune not made up of dollars and cents. My family is my fortune. No tornado can take that away.

Heavenly Reflections