Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

A New Leaf August 28, 2014

There are a lot of people in my life who wouldn’t dare say or admit what I’m about to say. I even overheard part of an albeit disturbing conversation about it today. After the winter we had earlier this year, I can’t say I blame them. That doesn’t change the fact that they are indeed in denial. Yes, winter around here was much too long, spring barely made an appearance and summer was far too short. But tonight, as I soaked in the cool breeze coming in through the windows of my beloved forever home, it was confirmed. Fall is coming.Backyard Happiness

I could smell burning wood and hear the sounds of the night through the darkness, which is starting to fall much earlier these days. As I watched fireflies dance from one of my favorite spots in the grass of my backyard paradise, I could feel a chill rising up from the ground.

Soon there will be nothing left of summer and the long, warm nights outside will be replaced with bonfires and s’mores. Soon mom will inevitably go through her annual pie-baking phase, where she churns out more cherry and apple pies than any person could (or should) really ever eat. Soon the leaves will turn colors before eventually shedding from the trees.

Soon the leaves will turn colors before eventually shedding from the trees. For some reason, the essence of fall somehow came alive in the essence of those words in my mind. As I watched the branches of the trees sway in the breeze tonight, I was struck with the powerful message that accompanies the fall season. Just as spring is a time of rebirth and renewal, fall is a reminder that life goes on. Sometimes we need a reminder to move past something that has been holding us back. Sometimes we need to turn the page. Sometimes we need to think about finding a way to turn over a new leaf. For me, that is the essence of fall in a nutshell.

It might not be the most popular truth around the state right now, but that doesn’t change the truth. Fall is coming. Fast. And while yes, it brings cooler air and shorter days, it also brings encouragement. It also brings hope. From those bonfires to extra cuddle time to those leaves that need turning, I would agree with Irish songstress Enya that we have a lot to look forward to.

“The spring, summer, is quite a hectic time for people in their lives,” she said, “but then it comes to autumn, and to winter, and you can’t but help think back to the year that was, and then hopefully look forward to the year that is approaching.”

 

The F Word October 10, 2013

Brisk walks around the tree-lined streets of the neighborhood. Snuggling on mom’s lap while she and dad sip pumpkin spice lattes by the bonfire in the backyard. Snagging the occasional apple slice that makes its way onto the kitchen floor while mom bakes one of her apple pies on a lazy Sunday afternoon. These are the fall moments to embrace. Haunted houses, spooky corn mazes and scary movies filled with blood, guts and gore? Not so much.

I can’t personally understand why anyone would ever purposely subject themselves to any of these fear-inducing fall traditions. But then again, I have my reasons. As one who has lived on the receiving side of abuse (both physical and verbal), I am here to testify fear is truly its own four-letter word.

And that’s coming from a four-legged mind that generally doesn’t process swear words. Dogs don’t swear. Sure, we have our own unique ways to demonstrate choice words. But that’s one of the perks of silence – we never really have the opportunity to say something we will later regret.Forgiveness

It doesn’t happen often in my forever home, but it used to happen a lot in my life before my forever people rescued me. People swearing, saying hurtful things they didn’t mean, and ultimately filling their lives with nothing but regret. Well, I guess I’m not sure about the regret part. That’s not for me to judge.

What I do know is the fears I have each have a reason, mostly relating to the man with the leather belt. He swore a lot. Usually after he’d been drinking. And he is the reason I grew to fear leather belts, power tools and vacuum cleaners.

I remember the way his breath smelled on my face the time he thought he would vacuum me because he hated all my shedding. I can picture the glazed look in his eyes when he thought he’d cut my nails with his cordless drill. And the belt. That was the worst of it. The belt wasn’t usually meant for me, at least until I intervened when he would use it on my dearest little Jo (my little person at the time).

But there is this thing about fear. It has a way of controlling us if we let it. And it’s a huge roadblock to the one combination of things that can cure regret: forgive and forget. I have long since forgiven the man, but I can honestly say I will never forget the fear. It’s a part of me I can’t truly shut off, even with my forever people. I have absolutely no reason to believe my dad would ever use his belt on me yet I still cower at the sight of it. The same goes for the vacuum and the drill.

So I don’t know why people purposely subject themselves to fearful things this time of year. It’s one of those people things I have accepted I may never understand. Instead I focus my emotional energy on the words of Martin Luther King Jr. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that,” he said. “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”