Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

How Big Your Brave Is August 26, 2014

For some people, it’s as simple as getting out of bed in the morning. Or standing up to a coworker about some kind of injustice. For other people, it is the decision to get an ultrasound to try to find out the origin that nagging health problem they’ve been battling. For others still, it’s spending 12 hours in the waiting room while a loved one undergoes surgery to remove cancer.

Sometimes I think it’s too easy to forget the challenges those around us are facing on a daily basis. You go about your day doing what needs to be done, and that’s not necessarily wrong. But the reality is these things happen to people day in and day out. I know it because each of those things happened today. Family members and friends alike faced a variety of uphill challenges today worthy of pausing to recognize and respect. Thank YOU

Sure, it’s national dog day in America today. I could (and almost did) let myself get swept up in that, wondering why I didn’t get a special ice cream cone like I do on my birthday. Sure, it’s the day after my adoption anniversary, which went generally unnoticed by my beloved forever people yesterday. I could let that bother me. But life has taught me there is no reason for such things. There is no reason for negativity. Negativity is its own kind of cancer in my book.

The only way to beat it is to kill it with kindness. So today instead of fretting about what I could see as disappointments in my own little life bubble, I focused my thoughts and prayers on those people around me encountering a variety of situations. Like my mom’s good friend Dorian, whose dad underwent surgery to remove cancer cells today. And my mom’s good friend Mel, who had an ultrasound to figure out what might be causing her thyroid issues. These are real life things that happened in the lives of people I care about today.

It reminds me of some of the lyrics in that catchy song “Brave” by Sarah Barielles. “Everybody’s been there, everybody’s been stared down by the enemy,” she sings, “fallen for the fear and done some disappearing, bow down to the mighty,  stop holding your tongue…show me how big your brave is.”

So to the loved ones I so deeply care about, and to the strangers I don’t know, show me how big your brave is. Because it might not mean all that much, but I’m rooting for you. I want to see you be brave.


Keepers of the Light January 27, 2014

Leadership. It’s a big word that means a lot of things to a lot of people. Ask 100 people to define a leader and you’ll get at least 60 different responses. Words like strength, courage, integrity, honesty, and loyalty all come to mind. Ask a dog, and the response is pretty simple. Leader of the Pack

For us, its almost instinctual. We have a pack mentality, therefore there will always be a pack leader. And there will always be a pack leader because of our pack mentality. It is that simple. We look to our leader for everything, and do not mind doing so because we prefer to know where we stand. And if no pack leader steps forward, we will assert ourselves as the leader. Whether or not that is the best option is left for interpretation.

I’m not saying one way of thinking is better than another, but I do think there is something to be learned from especially the similarities between the two. At least from what I can tell, there is something almost instinctual about a person’s definition of leadership as well. It is personal, usually aligned in some way with one’s subjective experiences. Good leaders have a way of asserting their leadership in a way that guides rather than forces followers. A way of making them feel at home with their place in life while at the same time in control of it.

Late great American basketball coach John Wooden had a few things to say about leadership, one of them being that leaders make decisions while followers make suggestions. Because let’s face it. It’s pretty easy to make a blanket statement about something bothersome. It’s something completely different to actually do something about it.

That’s the thing about leadership. It means different things to different people. But in a way that is also the glue that binds its meaning together. Whether you have two legs or four, one thing in particular seems to ring true. The best leaders are those whose followers become leaders themselves.

So I guess I fall somewhere in the middle of the canine and the people way of thought. The way I see it, leaders are keepers of the light. They shine brightly for those in the darkness. They guide gently with even the smallest flickering flame. They help people see the way. And (perhaps most importantly) they pass the torch along so there is never a moment of darkness.