Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

A Spoonful of Sugar December 26, 2013

Apparently I have gotten a wee bit chubby. Maybe it was the tiny piece of leftover bacon I scored at brunch this morning. Or the doggie treats under any of the three Christmas trees I’ve visited in recent days. Whoever thought having a routine checkup the day after a major holiday clearly wasn’t giving me the benefit of the doubt.Do I look chubby?

Nonetheless, Dr. Morrison’s exact words to mom during today’s annual pilgrimage to the vet clinic echoed through the room. “We don’t want him to put on any more weight,” she said as she grabbed around by my hind quarters. Excuse me madam, I wanted to say, but I’d guess the majority of folks I know to be up a pound or two after the caloric splurge known as the holiday season.

Little did I know there were more stingers headed my way in the form of shots for things I don’t understand. Three shots, to be exact, each one a bit more painful than the last. That followed other poking and prodding, none of which was very pleasant. Overall, the experience was not my favorite thing in the world.

But it wasn’t the worst either. In spite of the aforementioned weight gain, I got all kinds of yummy treats. And the best part was when Dr. Morrison first came in to see me and asked how her “favorite terrier” has been doing. Or maybe it was when the veterinary nurse kept petting me and telling me how cute I am. Or when the doctor said she thinks I’m going to be a very good dog with my soon-to-be little person.

Either way, I realized something as I snuggled a little closer than usual into mom on the car ride home. We don’t always know what’s good for us. Like me, with my almost obsessive urge to sink my teeth into a piece of the apparent delicacy known as chocolate. Or my aversion to the vet clinic.

In reality, we all need checkups every now and then. Not just for our physical health, but also for our mental and spiritual well-being. And it’s not always easy to take the criticism and advice that comes along with these checkups. But we need them. And they’re definitely a little bit easier to take with a little sugar. Or compliments in my case (since I’m going to be watching my waistline more closely). That Mary Poppins was on to something. A spoonful of compliments makes the medicine go down in the most delightful way.

 

All I Want for Christmas December 11, 2013

It’s pretty ridiculous. I might even get in trouble with mom for sharing the details. But it brings me joy and, as I am in the business of sharing joy, I can no longer keep this particular holiday ritual a secret.

Every time Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” comes on the radio is go time. It’s like a trigger for silliness. There is dancing (the kind that doesn’t particularly follow the beat) and galloping around the house. And joy. Lots of joy. It doesn’t matter where they are or who they are with, because it’s a family tradition. It’s as simple as that.All I Want

Apparently it started in my mom’s family a few years back when her dad was still alive. He had about as much rhythm as a broom but that didn’t stop him from joining in the fun. It’s my understanding he even took the lead every now and then.

It’s a memory that seems to bring about bittersweet emotions for my mom at least once during the holiday season. I know she misses him. He passed away suddenly in June 2009 and she never got to say goodbye. And now she grieves the loss in knowing our future little person will never know his grandpa.

The circle of life is funny that way – it finds ways to help us remember things we would sometimes rather push aside. And in this case grief is brought to life in joy, which is especially perplexing. But I suppose that makes sense because loss itself is a confusing thing. It isn’t easy regardless of how it happens. And everyone deals with it differently. But regardless of the circumstances, it evolves.

“Grief is in two parts,” suggested American writer Anne Roiphe. “The first is loss. The second is the remaking of life.”

The second is the remaking of life. I think that’s what happens every time that song comes on the radio. A little part of what was broken is mended. And we all are reminded to cherish the most important gift we have – each other. I’m with Mariah on this one. All I want for Christmas is my people. So I say bring on the silliness. Bring on the dancing and stomping and galloping around the house. Bring on the joy. Because sometimes there is no better way to grieve than to live.

 

You can’t put Christmas away: Goals for 2013 December 31, 2012

I overheard an interesting conversation between mom and dad today. Dad was putting some Christmas things away, and mom scolded him. “Are you putting Christmas away!?” she questioned. His response surprised me. “Don’t be silly,” he said. “You can’t put Christmas away.”

Best known for writing the country classic “Happy Trails,” singer-songwriter Dale Evans had a similar commentary on the holiday season. “Christmas, my child, is love in action,” she said. “Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.”

Loving enough is certainly not the problem. I love my people (and all of their people) wholeheartedly and unconditionally. It’s how I show it, how I “give” that I think I can improve.  Quality over quantity as they say. Christmas is not meant to be about the number of gifts under the tree, so why would one measure its spirit quantitatively?

1920s singer and comedian Margaret Young had a theory on this. “Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier,” she said. “The way it actually works is  the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then, do what you need to do in order to have what you want.”Happy Trails

Who am I? I am a four-year-old terrier with a whole lot of love to offer the world. How will I accomplish this in 2013? I will begin by setting goals instead of resolutions. Webster’s dictionary defines “resolution” in a number of ways, including “the act or process of resolving, the act  of determining, or (my personal favorite) the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones.” What on Earth does that mean? As for me, I would rather set goals, which Webster defines as “the end toward which effort is directed.”

What do I want for 2013? What are the ends toward which my effort will be directed?

1. Remember that you can’t put Christmas away. It sounds simple (and perhaps even cliché), but I don’t care. Call it my effort to analyze a complex notion into a simpler one.

2. Love actively. Every day I will find a way to show my people I how much I love them. Literally speaking, I would like to convince my mom to take me to agility classes. I think it would be good for both of us – physically and mentally – to work together toward a common goal to get fit while spending time together.

3. Live life forward. I know who I am, and I want to share my perspective with the world. I will set aside the time necessary to keep sharing my thoughts on life with the world in hopes that my words might inspire someone else to do the same.

Happy trails in 2013 ya’ll.