Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The Simple Things December 3, 2013

It’s pretty simple. Fairly basic. And entirely necessary. The act of breathing is such a foundational function of life that most of us don’t even think about it. It just comes naturally. To most of us.

It’s not so easy for my great grandma who – at the age of 83 – is healthy as a horse if not for her asthma. It’s a daily struggle for my friend with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). And most recently my mom was challenged with an unbelievable shortness of breath because my future little person was comfortably lodged into her ribs. Like many things in life, the act of breathing seems to be one of those things that can be easy to overlook. We just assume that we will go on breathing, no questions asked. It’s not always that simple.

Just BreatheSo you can imagine my surprise the other day when mom held dad’s hand to her belly and had dad feel the baby breathing. I thought it was absurd. But sure enough, dad confirmed the rhythmic movements and the three of us sat there in awe for a moment. I’m not sure I understand it, but I can’t imagine it’s very easy for the baby to be doing this practice breathing. Yet it’s possible.

I know the biblical phrase is usually thought of to be “all things are possible to those who believe.” Today I got to thinking about how that applies to those who breathe. Albeit challenging for some, taking a moment to pause and recognize the miracle of breath can change a person’s entire perspective.

It certainly did for my mom the other day as we all bore witness to those miraculous baby practice breaths. In those same moments mom realized something. She too could breathe. The baby must have shifted off of her ribs in a way that made it easier for her to breathe again. So there we were, one blessed family, sitting together in silence. But it was more than that because in those moments I was reminded to be grateful for something simple. Something basic. Something that comes pretty naturally. Breath. It might sound silly, but I love when life reminds us to celebrate the simple things.

 

A Day of You October 16, 2013

I’ve got news for you. There’s never enough time in a day. I know, I know, that is brand new information right?

I’ve seen it happen all too frequently with my forever people. From work to laundry to grocery shopping to house cleaning, the to-do list sometimes outgrows the day. And with the little person on the way I know the list is about to double. Or triple.

Which is why I would like to add a new permanent item to their to-do list. Make time for you today, it would say. I know it probably sounds silly, but I don’t care. It’s important.Lazy Is Not the Enemy

This became crystal clear to me the other day when mom did not go to that place called work. Instead, she stayed home with me and enjoyed a lazy morning before leaving for a while to get something she called a massage. (Apparently its a lot like the pets I get during my love fests with my people). When she came home about two hours later, she was a new person. A sleepy new person, but a new version of herself nonetheless.

And the sleep that has been evading her so frequently lately? It did not evade her that day. She slept more soundly for three straight hours than she has in months. (I would know since I’m her cuddle buddy). It truly was a day of her for her, and it made me happy to see her so relaxed.

“Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time,” American psychiatrist M. Scott Peck observed. “Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.”

Time is a priceless gift, regardless of how we chose to spend it. I know this issue of life balance is not new information to any of us. And it looks different for everyone. But there is one thing we all have in common: sometimes we all need a little day of us. To catch a breath. To read a book. To live. Because there’s always a reason not to take time for yourself. But in the end you deserve to be on your to-do list as much as anything else.

 

To Save The Day October 8, 2013

It was 3 a.m. And it was kind of like that moment when you wake up from a really bad dream you’re convinced is real only to breathe a sigh of relief when you look around and realize it wasn’t. Except I didn’t wake up. I was already awake. And it was really happening.

Joy to the RescueMom was crying. Sobbing, really. For no reason in particular other than the unique combination of pregnancy hormones and the exhaustion that follows four sleepless nights in a row. If I didn’t know better, I’d thought my new little person had somehow been born and was having a full out temper tantrum in the middle of the night. That’s kind of what it sounded like. And nothing rips at my heart more than when my people cry.

It’s a foreign concept to me, this whole not being able to sleep thing. Let’s be honest – I probably spend about 75% of my time dreaming. (I call it dreaming since I dream as much when I’m awake as when I’m asleep). I never have a problem falling asleep. Heck, I’ve even been known to fall asleep standing up.

So you can imagine my confusion lately with mom’s complete inability to sleep. I wish more than anything there would be something I could do to help. But somewhere between midnight and 3 a.m. last night I realized sometimes you just can’t. Sometimes there really isn’t anything you can do. At least not in that moment. So I waited.

When mom came home from that place called work over her lunch break today I was ready. Waiting. Armed with the best kind of ammunition a dog can have. I jumped, I licked, I wagged and I showered her with all the love I felt in that moment. And that’s when she said it.

“Wiley, you know just how to cheer a person out of a funk, you know that?” As a self-proclaimed ambassador of joy from the ground up, you can imagine the burst of pride that surged through me in that moment. Success! It doesn’t get much more simple than that. I might not be able to save the night, but at least I can save the day.

 

I’ll Be There July 9, 2013

I’m there to help them wake up in the morning. I’m there to keep them company in the bathroom while they ready for the day. I’m there to (albeit grudgingly) see them off to that place called work. And so it begins. The daily routine many of us canines with working parents adjust to over time. It may seem mundane to those without dogs, but I would argue our job as canine housekeeper is incredibly important.

It reminds me a bit of one of those people conversations that I occasionally overhear. My sensitive senses are finely tuned to human emotion, so I can usually tell something is going on with person one before person two knows to ask what’s wrong. And when person two does ask, I can’t say I condone the way the conversation unfolds. “I’m here for you,” person two says to person one, who is generally comforted by the statement.

Now and AlwaysMy issue is not with the statement itself, but in its aftermath. What does it mean to “be there” for someone anyway? As observers of people, we all know not all of our best intentions come to fruition. We also know that being with a person physically doesn’t always mean you’re with them mentally, emotionally, spiritually or in whatever way they need you in that particular moment. Being “there” sounds to me like a mighty tall emotional promise that shouldn’t really be made if it isn’t sincere.

But I also know being there, sincerely and honestly being there, is also one of the most priceless gifts we can give a person. And sometimes it is actually as easy as sitting with a person in complete silence. Or offering them a hug. Or, in a dog’s life, giving them a big sloppy slobbery (albeit unwelcome) kiss. Or nudging into the tiniest little space on the couch for a cuddle session.

“True friendship isn’t about being there when it’s convenient,” suggested Dutch-born Catholic priest Henri Nouwen, “it’s about being there when it it’s not.” Being there, sincerely and honestly being there, is arguably one of the best things I can think of about being a dog. It’s amongst our reasons for living, and helps define our purpose in life.

And so the days draw to an end. I’m there to greet my people when they return from the place called work. I’m there to make sure we get our playtime after dinner. I’m there to cuddle them to sleep at night. And as I drift to sleep I give thanks for the peace in my heart that tells me now — and always — I’ll be there.

This post is dedicated to my dear friend HuntMode, who shared with me a gem of a video today I’d like to share with you.