Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The Silence Hurricane June 11, 2013

It was like a hurricane came through the house this weekend. My mom and dad spent the better parts of Saturday and Sunday whipping around cleaning and moving furniture. I’d never seen anything like it in my treasured time in my forever home, and it frankly freaked me out. Cleaning is one thing, but this interior design coup threw me for a loop. My mind filled with questions, the least of which was what brought this on? Why now? Are we leaving? What on Earth is going on?

While I found myself feeling inexplicably ill-at-ease and fearful of the implications of the changes, I remained calm with the hope that peace would be restored. The images of undressed beds, empty bedrooms, and torn apart linen closets I was experiencing brought to life a part of the Simple Abundance journey that I haven’t yet shared.

The recent musings of Sarah Ban Breathnach have focused on bringing peace, order and contentment to the soul by taking action to bring these things to life in the home. Since I have very little control over these things, I haven’t paid much attention lately to the suggestions to make subtle changes to rooms to allow more light into the heart.

“Many of us today experience creative silence,” Breathnach writes. “Not the hush of the heart necessary to bring forth the unexpressed from Spirit, but the creative silence brought about by circumstances we feel are beyond our control.”

Suddenly it made sense. Watching my parents work together to make our house an even more comfortable home no longer brought so many questions to my little doggie mind. Instead, I sat back and enjoyed the hustle and bustle. I realized that it doesn’t matter where this bed is or how the linen closet is organized as long as I have my own little safe haven of peace and serenity to continue my daydreams. I think we all need a place like that regardless of where we ultimately lay our heads at night. A little nook to call our own. Mine is my little doggie bed in the kitchen. More often than not, I prefer to cuddle up to whoever might be on the couch (or bed) but its reassuring to know I always have my little doggie bed to call my own. What’s yours?

“(We all need) a psychic space that offers passionate reminders to attend to your private, artistic impulses, a place to encourage you to reclaim your creativity,” Breathnach writes.

I’m not sure what sparked the hurricane of furniture in the Schmidt house this weekend, but I’m grateful it happened. What a pleasant reminder to silence the question-filled world around us so we can hear the faintly whispering tones of innate creativity coming to life.

 

 

 

Lanterns of Love May 12, 2013

Every visitor to she Schmidt home is welcomed by the same message above the stairway as they walk in the door. “Home is where your story begins.” I see it every day, yet today it speaks to me and I see it in a different light. I think it’s because today is mother’s day in my neck of the woods; a day set aside to show gratitude and respect for everything one’s mother has done in his or her life. I’m blessed to have more than one of these characters as lanterns of love in my life, so today I take a moment’s paws to recognize each one.

Dear birth mom,

It’s Wiley. Your son. I know it’s been a while (almost five years now), and words can’t tell you how sorry I am that is the case. Our time together was short-lived, but I want you to know how special each moment was to me. Age and experience has taught me how challenging it must have been caring for my two brothers and I all by yourself. I’m so proud of you. And I want you to know I’m okay. Well, actually I’m better than okay. I’m spectacular. I’m happy. And I found a forever home with people who love me so much they sometimes squeeze me so hard I can’t breathe. They take really good care of me, mom. I wish you could meet them and they could take care of you too. Are you okay out there? I sure hope so. You deserve to live happiness like this. Wherever you are, please know I love you now as much as I ever did.

With all the love in my little doggie heart,

Wiles

Dear Jo,

Remember me? I was your little buddy in the house with the man and the leather belt. I hate that he took me away from you that day all those people years ago. I miss you every day and pray you are living a the life you deserve to live, with any luck separate from that awful dad of yours. Even though you were only a little girl, I know you would have done everything you could to keep me from harm’s way. You were a hero to me, a mother in your own rite. If there is one thing I’d want you to know above all else, it is that you will be a fantastic mother one day. Never doubt yourself.

With all the love in my little doggie heart,

Wiles

Dear Katie,

You probably don’t remember me. I am one of so very many doggies you help at the Oshkosh Humane Society, and it’s been almost three years now since you last saw me. But sometimes it is those who we meet in passing that make some of the most distinguished impacts on our life, and this is true of you. You didn’t do it for praise or adoration, and that’s why every little thing you did for me meant so very much. You are a living example of a servant leader. Thank you.

With all the love in my little doggie heart,

Wiles

Dear forever mom,

Thank YOUI know you haven’t always been dealt the easiest hands of cards to play in life. I know you struggle with some things more than you let on.

More than once I’ve seen you stop and look away from yourself in the mirror, just like Sarah Ban Breathnach talks about in the early pages of Simple Abundance. I’ve seen you cry, and heard you question you direction in life. Sometimes you talk to me about your feelings and I wish more than anything I could tell you I understand (at least the majority) of what you’re saying. I’d start with telling you to see yourself the way the world sees you. You are beautiful, strong, and confident (even if you doubt it). You are more special to me than you will ever possibly know. As my number one fan, I know you are reading my blog, so I will share with you a sample of Breathnach’s words that speak to me.

“Turn away from the world this year and begin to listen,” she writes. “Listen to the whispers of your heart. Look within. Your silent companion has lit lanterns of love to illuminate the path to Wholeness. At long last, the journey you were destined to take has begun.”

I love you mom. Let me be a lantern of love for you.

With all the love in my little doggie heart,

Wiles

Home is where your story begins, and I can honestly say each of these women has been home to me. Lanterns of love for me. They are all important characters that define chapters of my life, and I would not be who I am without each and every one of them. Today I say thank you these women. And today I say thank you to all the women who are these characters to people (and pets) in your lives. You know who you are. Thank you.

 

Another Day in Paradise May 7, 2013

Soak Up the SunI had my first-ever encounter with a hammock today. Indeed you read that right: I, Wiley Schmidt, spent about a half hour in a hammock this afternoon.

It reminded me a bit of my first few days blogging. I felt uneasy, unsteady and uncertain. This new place is uncomfortable, I thought to myself, and I don’t know what to make of it. Then, as the moments ticked on, I felt more at home as I got to know my surroundings. But the first step was believing I wouldn’t let myself fall. With that, the unfamiliar became familiar and doubt faded away.

I know these moments of self-awareness aren’t easy to come by. I know there is always something “better” for my mom to do with that time, like clean the bathrooms, empty the dishwasher, prepare dinner, start a load of laundry, etc. But I would argue that each of those tasks can seem less daunting after a few minutes to yourself to collect thoughts and be thankful for the little things in life.

“Perhaps now – of all times – when I am nearly bowed under physically, emotionally, and psychologically by the minutiae of the mundane, is the very moment I need the reverence of poets who bear witness to the sacredness of the ordinary,” writes Sarah Ban Breathnach in Simple Abundance.

It was peaceful there in the backyard. My mom and I sat in silence together for those precious thirty minutes being serenaded by the birds while soaking in the soothing rays of late afternoon sunshine. It wasn’t fancy. It wasn’t expensive. Quite to the contrary, it was perhaps the most simple half hour we’ve spent together recently. And I loved every second of it.

“We are all given a choice each day,” Breathnach suggests. “We can react negatively to the demands made on us or we can choose to live abundantly, to transfer the negative to the meaningful. Attitude is all.”

As I saw my life flash before my eyes as I tried to catch my balance my first few seconds in the hammock, gratitude overwhelmed my little doggie heart. I realized I wouldn’t erase any moments of uncertainty from my life, as I know I have emerged a better dog from each and every one. And just as the unease and uncertainty in the hammock wore off in the comfort of home that is my mom’s arms, I am grateful for my loved ones in the blogosphere who I know would never let me fall.

 

Life: One Breath At A Time April 29, 2013

The prolific and powerful American poet Emily Dickenson had a lot to say about life and death. It breaks my heart that most of her beautiful words didn’t reach the hearts and minds of readers until after she had left this world, but what a blessing they are nonetheless. So many of her poems continue to live by breathing life into the pages of historical literature.

“To live is so startling, it leaves little time for anything else,” she once said.

Indeed, life can take us by surprise in so many powerful ways if we let it. Sometimes I fear we are our own stopping points because we think don’t have time to stop and take notice about the life all around us. In 2001, a very nervous 15-year-old girl made her way onto a very large stage to take notice. She shared the following words with the crowd that day:Chronicles of Life

Savor the miracle of creation

Create a day with no regrets

Regret only the unforgiven

Forgive your loved ones for not being perfect

Perfect your ability to smile

Smile at everyone you love

Love even those who have become frail

Frailty is just another part of life

Live today as an unexpected journey

Journey through life with courage

Encourage someone who needs light

Lighten up the room with a laugh

Laugh through the tough times…

It keeps you from crying

Whatever you do in this life

Always remember that somewhere out there

Someone is loving you

I’m so blessed to have a forever mom who (at the tender age of 15-years-0ld) published these beautiful words she called “The Chronicles of Life.” She won an award that night on stage, and I it is one of my biggest wishes in life I could have been there to see her so happy. So full of life.

But as I am not in the habit of living with regrets (especially over things I can’t control), I instead share these words with the world on a day when Sarah Ban Breathnach encourages us in Simple Abundance to ponder life’s simplest of mysteries.

“And there is certainly enough mystery to ponder—such as the mystery of what will happen next,” Breathnach writes. “But instead of worrying or obsessing, you decide to just let go and see what occurs. You choose to take joy in your real life as it unfolds day by day, hour by hour, a heartbeat at a time.” Startling as it may be dear Emily, life is most definitely worth living one heartbeat at a time.

 

Life in Slow Motion February 18, 2013

I’m a pretty simple dog. I have a fairly regular daily schedule that involves sleep, food, love, playtime, food, and more sleep. I can’t complain. But sometimes I do wonder what Rusty and other pals from my past would think of my life if they could somehow live it with me.Life in Slow Motion

I am incredibly grateful for the people in my life, and all of my fur friends, yet sometimes I long for perspective from those I can no longer reach. This curious loneliness often takes me by surprise. I know what Rusty would say about this, which is oddly similar to what Sarah Ban Breathnach advises in Simple Abundance. So today I take in my life in slow motion as one of these distant loved ones might do from doggie heaven.

“Mary Kingsley was a hunter of a dream: the knowledge of who she really was and her place in the world. So are you,” Breathnach writes. “Yet even without encountering the daily dangers she faced…you have embarked on an adventure as exciting as that of any explorer. Uncovering the source of the Nile or charting the course of the Amazon are outward parallels to the inner journey you are on today – a safari of the self and spirit.”

On my safari, I have learned everyone we meet becomes as big a part of ourselves as we let them. Sometimes the more we take in though our interactions with others, the more we get to know our authentic selves. And we are more likely to let them in if we let our guard down and take a risk. That is where our journey to self discovery can take a challenging yet necessary turn toward the unexpected dangers of life’s adventures. But it is ultimately up to us to find the purpose behind our fears and make something of ourselves.

Every now and then, I’ll be caught in the middle while my people parents throw around one of my toys and I find myself wondering if Rusty is looking down on me from doggie heaven. Would he be proud of me? I know he would be very happy with my efforts to see the good in all people and things. And he would be absolutely ecstatic to find out I’m sharing my joy with whoever I meet in the world and in cyberspace. But would I make him proud?

Of that, I’m not so sure. I’m a pretty simple dog living a fairly scheduled life. So I stay the course on my safari of self and spirit and hope my life in slow motion does as much for others as it does for me.

 

Sur-reality Check February 11, 2013

I had another rare nightmare last night. I know it because my rhythmic whimpering wakes my mom and dad, who (in turn) wake me to stop the madness happening in my mind. More often than not, the madness unfortunately does not come to a complete halt upon waking. The memories of my nightmare haunt my thoughts the remainder of the night and into the day, often forcing me to reflect on paths that my optimistic personality prefers to avoid.

Today I reflect on my surreal dream by observing that the general public seems to misunderstand the concept of the word “surreal.” Until today, I always thought of it as a positive reflection on one’s experience, like a dream coming true. On the contrary, Bing aligns the surreal with the “bizarre: weirdly unfamiliar, distorted, or disturbing, like the experiences in a dream or the objects or experiences depicted in surrealism.” The optimist in me wants to see the good in all words, so this took me by surprise.

As did my dream last night, which (now that I have a better understanding of the word) was incredibly surreal. I was enjoying a car ride with my mom and dad (which is one of my most favorite things to do with them) after about a year in my forever home. We were in the car for an unusually long period of time, which had me the most excited for the adventure the journey would bring.

Then it happened. I started to recognize my surroundings and I was not happy with what I saw.

I know that bridge, I thought, and that is Lake Winnebago…I know that lake. Then it occurred to me…they must be taking me back to the humane society just like the other family did before them. But no, I thought, this is different! They love me!Nighty Night

That’s when mom woke me up. Thank goodness. Because that drive really did happen, and the ending was nothing like it was in my nightmare. My parents (obviously) did not return me to the humane society. Instead, we ended up driving for three more hours before we reached our destination: a cabin on a lake in a new, exciting place they called the “Northwoods” of Wisconsin. The three days that followed were some of the happiest of my doggie life.

To me, that is taking the reality check that is surrealism back to the positive side of the coin. Sometimes we are hit with surreal moments that remind us to be thankful for what’s real in our lives.

Sarah Ban Breathnach speaks of something like this in Simple Abundance. She refers to these moments of darkness as moments of divine discontentment. In these moments it is more crucial than ever to find value that brings a little light into the room of reflection that takes residence in our minds.

“(Divine Discontentment) is part of the process,” Breathnach writes. “It is the grit in the oyster before the pearl. This creative second chance is when we come into our own. When we finally claim our lives and wrestle our futures from our fate. When we learn how to spin straw into gold. When we realize gratefully that we can live by our own lights if we access the Power.”

Nightmares don’t scare me as much as I continue to live by my own light.

 

Happiness Defined January 7, 2013

I tried something new today. I was thinking about living my gratitude, so I started the day with Simple Abundance and didn’t tell anyone about it. I read about taking note of things that make me happy and was reminded of my commitment to be a lantern of love for my mom this year. So I took notes of things that made her happy today and the strangest thing happened. A little while ago, she was talking to my grandma (her mom), who paid me the very highest of compliments (without even knowing it). Mom had grandma on speakerphone so I could hear the conversation…Mom laughed and her mom stopped the conversation cold and took notice.

“It’s so nice to hear you laughing,” grandma said, “It makes me happy knowing you’re so happy.” Even I could hear the implications of what she was saying. She hadn’t heard my mom laugh like that in a while. She was taking notice of that. And that made me happy. Funny how that works.

Its not like today was anything that spectacular, but that’s not what matters. Today I was looking…watching everything that made mom smile. “What is missing from many of our days is a true sense that we are enjoying the lives we are living,” Breathnach writes. “…Let us consider our personal preferences and learn how to recognize, then embrace, moments of happiness that are uniquely our own.”

Silly as this list may sound, here it is:

1. Working out. We woke up at a decent time, she got on this new bicycle contraption we have in the bedroom and she spent some time one it. Then, its like her contagious happiness spread to me. We went for our first walk since she had her leg surgery. It was short, but I loved it. And so did she. I could tell because I know we walked farther than she probably enjoyed. I could tell because on the way back home, she walked with a bigger limp than when we left home. But it didn’t affect her smile.

On the Road Again2. Car ride. Two of my favorite people words together in one happy phrase. The car ride followed her time on the bicycle and our walk. I love car rides. Mom knows that. She smiled when I tried to get into the driver’s seat with her, even though I know I’m not supposed to and she had to push me away right away.

3. Yummy food. When we got back from our car ride, she spent some time in the kitchen, which I know is one of her happy places. She made some sort of chicken-scented goodness that smelled like heaven, and when she was done eating, you’d better believe I scavenged for the leftovers like never before. And mom smiled all the while. Happiness: Its a Hard Knock Life

4. Friends. She talked to a few friends whose names I recognized today. She smiled the whole time.

5. Insightful movies. We watched them together. The first one was called Butter, which (I know) sounds ridiculous, but it was surprisingly adorable. I do quite enjoy butter (I’ve been known to lick it off towels in private after mom has put a pie in the oven), but the plotline was equally enticing. Then there was this movie Ruby Sparks. It opened with what promised to be a charming tale of a writer and his dog…so you can see why I would be intrigued. As an aspiring writer myself, it was a love-at-first-sight kind of love story. It ends back in the hands of the writer and his dog, and among many insightful things, the writer says “Any writer can attest that in the luckiest, happiest state the words are not coming from you, but through you.” Mom cried at the end.

A Dog and his Work

I learned something with my little experiment today. Happiness is contagious.

 

Greeting Gratitude January 6, 2013

I have a lot to be thankful for. A loving home. Food in my dish every day. Clean water to drink. Plenty of plush toys and rawhides. People to pet me and play with me. I’ve got it pretty good.

One of my happy placesThinking over these things made me realize that sometimes it is a little too easy to become a happiness hypocrite. The similarity of our surroundings can make us lazy. Sameness does not always equal happiness. In fact, we can get so preoccupied seeking joy that we fail to notice it all around us.

“The revelation that we have everything we need in life to make us happy but simply lack the conscious awareness to appreciate it can be as refreshing as lemonade on a hot afternoon,” Breathnach writes. “Or it can be as startling as cold water being thrown in our face.”

I’ve never tasted lemonade, but I am definitely a believer in making lemonade from life’s little lemons and serving the result to anyone who will take it. What I gain from today’s thoughts is a lesson to take time to be thankful for what we have instead of wasting time seeking what we don’t. The first step is acceptance. Only then can we share it with the world.

John F. Kennedy said it best. “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

 

Let me be a Lantern of Love January 5, 2013

You know something I’ve heard people say a whole lot that I think is a bunch of poppycock? God only gives us what we can handle. I say this as a regular and active observer of people in a wide variety of emotional situations. The people who returned me to the humane society. The people who cared for me at the humane society. And even my current people in my forever home.

Person one says this to person two, who generally nods and accepts a hug from person one. Person two thanks person one for the for the sentiment. Then, shortly after person one has either left or ended that portion of the conversation, person two gets really upset.

“God only gives us what we can handle?!” they say (sometimes scream). “I’ve never heard something so ridiculous/stupid/untrue/insert-swear-word-here in my life.” I’ve been witness to this verbal exchange often enough that not only do I recognize it, but I find myself wishing I could somehow console the clearly suffering person. I try, in my way, but I know there’s no antidote to their emotional strife.

Just like I was separated from my mom too soon, my forever mom was taken away from her dad. He was gone before I could have met him, but from what I can tell, he was a pretty neat guy. Not a born dog lover, but I know my charms would have easily won him over. He died suddenly, and I know mom has struggled with that.

More than once I’ve seen her stop and look away from herself in the mirror, just like Breathnach talks about in today’s challenge to be who you were meant to be. I’ve seen her cry, and heard her question her direction in life. Sometimes she talks to me about her feelings and I wish more than anything I could tell her I understand (at least the majority) of what she’s saying. I wish so badly I could comfort her in a better way than those that say that silly thing about what we can or cannot handle.

As my number one fan, I know she is reading my blog, so I will share with her what I would share from my experience with Simple Abundance today.

“Turn away from the world this year and begin to listen,” Breathnach writes. “Listen to the whispers of your heart. Look within. Your silent companion has lit lanterns of love to illuminate the path to Wholeness. At long last, the journey you were destined to take has begun.”

I love you mom. Let me be a lantern of love for you this year.

Me and my number one fan

 

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.