Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Glowing in the Dark November 25, 2014

It doesn’t make sense. I have never and will never understand it. I will, however, question why this trick of nature happens every year. Here we are in the midst of all things holiday and literally speaking it is the darkest time of year.

The sun seems to rise later and set sooner every single day. That means less sunshine, which (at least from what I can tell) means less happy people. None of this is good news in my world. It’s also not the worst news, because I make it a point of mine in life to be a light amid the darkness in whatever way possible. This thing called daylight savings time will not break me down.

My faith in the power of one’s inner light was renewed tonight as I watched as another bought of silliness unfolded between my forever parents and dear baby Carter.Hard at Work

There we were, the four of us, in the darkness of the basement. I was sure either mom or dad would turn the lights on eventually. Instead they grabbed out these little sticks and I listened as they cracked them to life. I’m not sure of the correlation between the cracking sound and what happened next, but I suppose some things are best left to mystery anyway. Within a few seconds, the room was dimly lit by little florescent glow sticks, which brought far more joy to everyone involved than I would have ever expected.

The fun continued as mom suggested Carter have a glow-in-the-dark bath time. He loved every minute of it. He was happy. Mom and dad were happy. I was happy.

It doesn’t make sense to me why there is so much darkness during such an otherwise joyful time of year. But that’s okay. It sounds silly, but the glow-in-the-dark games tonight reminded me it’s possible not just to let your light shine, but to find new ways to do it. Routine has its perks, but switching it up from time to time is good for the soul. How you choose to shine ultimately doesn’t matter. What matters is that you shine at all.

Because as Dutch Renaissance humanist Desiderius Erasmus put it “give light and the darkness will disappear.”

 

Moments Like These October 31, 2014

As goblins and ghouls take to the record-settingly chilly streets of my beloved neighborhood for trick or treat tonight, I pause and remember a truth of mine I don’t think I’ve ever shared before. I used to be afraid of the dark. I know it’s an unusual thing for a dog, and I’ve spent the greater part of my canine adult life trying to figure out why.Trick or treat

It isn’t like there is a traumatic event or something involving darkness in my past. Nor is there anything in particular I can recall that aided in my recovery from the admittedly silly aversion I once had. Or so I thought. I found myself pondering this as darkness fell today (it falls earlier and earlier this time of year) and I realized I can indeed trace back the day of my new-found fearlessness.

It was the day after I lost Rusty, my pal from the humane society who was the only reason I survived my first night there. He went down a hallway and never came back that day, but his words stayed with me long after I last saw his wagging tail. He encouraged me to find the light. To see the bright side in even the darkest of situations. And that day, I made the decision to do just that.

My persuasion toward light has never faltered, but somehow my choice that day has led me to find the light in the darkness that dissolves my former fears on an almost daily basis.

Like tonight, as I knew craziness was happening in the darkness on the streets of my neighborhood, something special was happening inside the walls of my forever home. The bedtime routine hasn’t changed much, but dad has gotten more involved with it in the last couple of months. That was the case as usual again tonight, as he held Carter and mom said his bedtime prayers. Carter put his little head on dad’s shoulder and left it there as he drifted peacefully into dreamland almost instantly upon mom’s recital of the prayer. I stood by, as I always do, playing my (albeit silent) role in the whole routine.

I realized in that moment it doesn’t matter how dark it is in the room when this all unfolds. The love illuminates all of our hearts so brightly there is no reason to so much as question the darkness. As we all sneaked silently out of the room, I felt overwhelmed with the warmth of the loving glow in the room. Sometimes I’m in awe of how a decision I made so long ago can have such a profound impact in moments like these.

 

 

A Little Sunshine October 16, 2014

It’s a pretty easy thing to take for granted. It’s there so much more than it isn’t, so I think that’s part of the problem. But I’ve certainly missed it around here the last few days. Sunshine. From the ground up, its light has the power to warm the soul. Backyard Happiness

I do sincerely love and appreciate the beauty of fall and all the things it brings with it. This you know. The last few days I was reminded why I sometimes doubt my love of this spectacular season. It has been cloudy and rainy and downright dreary for four or five days now. I find its easier to lose count when you succumb to the darkness.

I didn’t even realize I had indeed let the weather get to me until the sun slowly revealed itself this afternoon. It was like seeing a long lost friend. There I was in one of my favorite spots in my forever home – the windowsill in the living room. (My beloved forever people call it my perch). As the light shined in through the blinds, I felt it warm my fur and somehow it seemed to soak right through to my soul.

It must have had a similar effect on mom, because it was a matter of a few seconds before dear baby Carter was bundled up and in his stroller and it was time for a walk around my neighborhood. The crisp fall air smelled so much better with the light shining down around us. The leaves fell from the trees in the beautiful silent way they do. I pranced. Carter giggled. Mom smiled. It was a happy moment for the three of us.

It was a reminder to me to cherish the sunshine. It was a reminder not to let the darkness get to me because the sun will shine again. It was a reminder to live in the moment instead of longing for something you can’t have. Because if you do these things, there is no way the dreary things in life can conquer your spirit. If you do these things, you bottle up the sunshine for the bad days. If you do these things, you have the power to warm your own soul, whether or not the sun is shining.

Take that, dreary Wisconsin fall.

 

Follow The Light May 18, 2014

I’m a believer in the whole idea of a window opening when life closes a door. This probably comes as no surprise since I also support finding a silver lining in most situations and choosing to see the good in people, places and things. But there is something I do struggle a bit to understand. Something that seems to stand right in the way of me finding that open window. Because when death happens the door closes. Hard. Reflecting

I’ve been blessed so far in life to lose very few close friends. But I will be honest. I’ve never dealt well with loss and grief and the heartbreak these things bring to the survivors. Sure, I believe in the idea that the person is in a better place, but what about the people left behind? Our place is a little bit worse because that person left a big ole whole in our heart no one else can fill. I got to thinking about this today when I heard something someone said on the moving picture window (otherwise known as a TV). There was a woman, a mother, who had lost her son to a tragic car accident a couple of years ago.

She too struggled with finding silver lining in such a terrible situation. I had a little doggie heart attack thinking of what would happen to mom if anything like that ever happens to dear baby Carter. I wondered how on Earth does someone bounce back from such an awful thing? That’s when she said it.

“I follow his light,” said the woman. “He’s always there reminding me to keep on going.”

Death. From the ground up, there is something about it that seems so final. Like that door is closed for good. And in most ways it is. But only to the point you let it be. Only if you don’t keep the faith and find that window. And if it’s not open, you find a way to open it. You find a way to let the light in. Because therein lies the silver lining – in the light that keeps you going.

 

I Said To The Darkness February 21, 2014

It happened in an instant, as these things usually do. I saw the sunlight at the end of a very dark tunnel the other day. Literally. After what has arguably been one of the most challenging Wisconsin winters I’ve survived we were hit with some seriously warm rays of sunshine. It was almost 50 degrees and I half expected my people to break out their swim suits.

SnowInstead mom broke out her running shoes (good choice) and I went on a very memorable walk around my dear neighborhood with my mom, my aunt, and Carter. It was my first walk with Carter and (to be honest) he didn’t seem to really notice we were outside. But I sure did.

The wind was blowing and it was not the bone chilling cold wind of late. It was the wind of spring. Sure, there is still about a solid two feet of snow everywhere. And when the sun went down it took the warmth with it. I didn’t mind because it’s coming. The end is near. Winter is almost over.

So you can imagine my dismay when I overheard on the television today that we are due for more frigid temperatures next week. Albeit disappointing, I have to admit it was a lot easier to take after that one day of respite from the cold. After I saw the light at the end of the tunnel.

Darkness has no power over light, just as negativity has no power over hope. “The light which puts out our eyes is darkness to us,” suggested transcendentalist thinker Henry David Thoreau. “Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.”

It’s a pretty powerful thing to be sure. Seeing that light, even for a brief instant, can recharge the soul in such an overwhelmingly fulfilling way. The moment may have been fleeting, but its impact remains.

To view a video of our walk: https://vine.co/v/MZDBi59lHAi

 

Lighting the Way January 12, 2014

It’s official. I think my people are losing their minds. Maybe it’s because of the lack of sleep. I can’t be sure. All I know is there is a new nighttime Sleep, Don't Weeproutine in the Schmidt household and I’m not sure what to make of it.

It actually starts during the day, with all kinds of loud noises, open windows and bright lights. Then at 8:30 sharp, they shut off all the lights and put baby Carter in a dark room away from any televisions or other noises. They speak to each other (and me) in hushed tones and I get scolded even more than usual for barking at animals on the television (which admittedly is one of my more unusual quirks).

Apparently it’s to do with the baby’s days and nights being flip flopped. Daytime to us is nighttime to him, so to attempt to get him on track with what my people refer to as a “normal” schedule. Tonight was the second swing at this new way of things, and I’m not sure how it will go.

Because the baby will probably do his own thing anyway. So to me it feels a bit like flipping a coin. And I found that frustrating at first because there’s really nothing I can do to help. Except there is. I don’t think my people are losing their minds. But I do think they need me now more than ever to remind them to seek out joy. From the ground up, it’s always there even when we lose our way.

 

From the Ground Up October 28, 2013

Scientists claim us canines can understand somewhere between 100 and 200 people words. I say that’s hogwash. What these calculations can’t account for is our keen awareness of human emotion, which so frequently is hard to encapsulate into a word.Gaining Perspective

Treat. Outside. Dog park. These are words a dog comes to know. Sit, lay down, roll over. These are tricks of the canine trade. But love, faith, forgiveness and loyalty? These are words to live by. In a constantly evolving language, these words remain steadfast.

I have never been a big supporter of the “less is more” philosophy, but perhaps there is some insight to be gained from it in the case of conversation. Sometimes less really is more, given the understanding is there to aid in translation. My favorite Lebanese thinker Khalil Gibran challenged that people will never understand one another unless language is reduced to seven words. What would your seven words be?

I know mine certainly wouldn’t be treats, outside, dog park, sit, laydown and rollover. Mine would be the foundations from which all other language could be understood. Forgiveness. Compassion. Loyalty. Love. Laughter. Faith. Joy. From the ground up, these would be my seven words of choice because these are words us canines know inside and out.

We don’t hold grudges. We know when to be still and listen. We pause (in all our overwhelmed excitement) to welcome our loved ones home whether they’ve been gone five minutes or five days. We love unconditionally – and find creative ways to show it. We know how to bring fun to the party. We know who we are – and embrace it. We have faith in ourselves, which enables us to have faith in others. And, through it all, we know how to bring the light of joy into the darkest of situations.

“Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life,” Gibran suggested, “not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.”

Scientists have their theories. And maybe they’re right. But they didn’t account for the unique perspective we canines bring to human emotion. Literally and figuratively, there’s this thing about the attitude I chose to bring to life. When you see life from the ground up as I do, you are already on the ground. Regardless of how you got there, you are at ground zero. And there is no where to go but up.

 

Don’t Let Me Go October 7, 2013

Life. No one ever said it would be easy. Quite the opposite in fact. Life is tough. Anyone who tells you otherwise hasn’t really lived. And big or small, it doesn’t matter. Some troubles can seem insurmountable regardless of their size.

The LightI remember one of mine like it was yesterday. It was the day my first adoptive parents took me back to the Oshkosh Humane Society. I was showered with love from all the shelter workers (especially Katie, my friend who always had a few extra treats in her pocket with my name on them). Even a few of the other dogs were clearly happy to see me. But I wouldn’t have it. I was at the lowest of the low with no optimistic neighbor pal like Rusty to dig me out of the darkness this time.

In these moments of darkness, the light can seem so far away. But in reality it’s not. Oftentimes it is just beyond our reach. We just need someone to reach out and pull us that last couple of steps. We need help. Because whatever the struggle may be, it has us in such a haze of negativity we just can’t see how close we are to relief. To safety. To life.

Sometimes the realization of this happens instantly. I wasn’t so lucky. Mine happened over time, with help from Katie and her treats. And her love. And her encouragement. “They will find you, Wiley,” she would say during our daily play time. “Your forever people are coming for you. I just know it.”

And they did. The found me and I felt whole again. I knew everything would be all right. But I don’t know what I would have done without Katie and her kind words every day.

It can be painful to remember the tough times, but they are part of who we are. And now that mine are behind me, I can appreciate their meaning in my life. I can appreciate the characters who kept shining the light at me, like Rusty and Katie. And I know the importance of not just looking back where I came from, but reaching back and bringing someone with me. Because as American author Helen Keller said “walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.”

Life. No one ever said it would be easy. I don’t know how long I was in the darkness before I found the light again. I guess it was only a couple of weeks, but (take it from me) that can feel like a lifetime when your heart is in a dark place. I renewed my vow the day of my adoption never to go back to that dark place. To instead find joy from the ground up in all people, places and things. And (perhaps most importantly) to be that person for someone.

Today’s post was written in response to the daily prompt:

Tell us about a time when everything seemed to be going wrong — and then, suddenly, you knew it would be alright.

I’m a believer in the growth that can come from recognizing these moments in our lives. Please share yours with me.

 

Love Play Live: Lighting Up Darkness January 18, 2013

Have you ever tried to piece a puzzle together without the box? I’ve been trying that lately with Simple Abundance. I was worried that I was going to start sounding repetitive with the whole gratitude in simplicity storyline and folks would get disinterested. But I did not disregard my daily commitment to reading Simple Abundance, whether or not I made it a main focus of my blogger thoughts this week. I do wonder if that hasn’t had a negative influence on my weeklong reflections…I hope not, but I welcome any and all feedback on the matter.

What I know is that today’s Simple Abundance challenge struck a special chord with me. Living in Wisconsin, a state that gets cold and snowy and the hours of sunlight are at an extreme shortage this time of year, the concept of light amidst the darkness speaks to me.

“Outside, winter’s darkness closes in,” Breathnach writes. “Inside, you have found your own light.” We find light in the little things that may seem otherwise insignificant throughout the day, like that special treat mom gives me before she goes back to work after lunch, or that bowl of peas dad gives me after he and mom share a yummy Friday night steak dinner.Light Amidst Darkness

So again I enjoy today’s daily prompt in coordination with my daily journey toward comfort and joy:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/daily-prompt-free-association/

Write down the first words that comes to mind when we say . . .

. . . home.

. . . soil.

. . . rain.

Use those words in the title of your post.

Love play live. When I think of home, soil, and rain, those are the first three words that come to mind for me.

…home = love: Mom, this one’s for you. We both love Phillip Phillips, but when I hear his lyrics to “Home,” I think of what you and dad did for me when you brought me home from the humane society. I picture these words coming from you, which fills my heart with so much love there really are no words to explain my thankfulness. Except for those set to beautiful chords by Mr. Phillips himself:

Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They  fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down love
If you get lost,  you can always be found
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going  to make this place your home.”

…soil = play: Dad, this one’s for you. All those times you we play around in the backyard when you don’t think mom is looking…those are some of my most favorite moments. I know sometimes I make a mess of the yard, and then I track dirt into the house, but you love me nonetheless. And I know you didn’t consider yourself a “dog person” before we met, so our quiet moments together without anyone else mean that much more to me. I love you, dad.

…rain = life: This one’s for my family. I know what its like to seek shelter in the rain without a warm, loving home. I would prefer not to sleep under a stinky green garbage unit ever again. Yet somehow rain is a reminder that I probably will never have to.  Because I have home and soil, I am thankful for rain. I greet the reminder of my blessings in life.

Inside, I have found my light.

 

Daily Prompt: You can’t always get what you want January 9, 2013

I had a rare and awful nightmare last night. I know people sometimes mistake doggie nightmares for dreams about chasing squirrels or playing with our favorite little people. Sadly that is not always the case.

I walked into a room, the door shut behind me, and there was nothing. It was darkness. There was nothing but blackness all around me, so I sniffed around and there was literally no water, no food, no toys, no people…and the worst part was not knowing how long I would be there. Fortunately for me (mom woke me up because I was yipping) the terror didn’t last very long. I was grateful that she put an end to the madness, but I am still thinking it over. I can say with honesty I think that scenario is among my greatest fears.

I was sleeping...Don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer in “The Single Woman” Mandy Hale’s thought that “sometimes God takes away everything you thought you wanted to bring you everything you ever dreamed of.” I now see it as a blessing to have experienced that in the years before my people brought me to my forever home.

After all, I was devastated when that family in Port Washington returned me to the humane society. Granted, I did not necessarily enjoy sharing a home with three other (much larger dogs) and those (pain in the neck) cats they had, but I definitely wasn’t alone in the dark room. I had company, food, and shelter, and I thought that I was finally living the high life. God knew better. He knew something was missing. Most importantly, he knew that sometimes what we want is so different than what we need.

I want my own doggie sized convertible so I can go on the flit whenever I please (I’m sure I’d find my way home, right?). I want to try chocolate (even though I hear it could kill me). I want to fly (and often try with no avail). Turns out the majority of things on my “want” list are not even good for me. Its almost like there is a reason I can’t have these things.

Little did I know that the same thing was missing from that home in Port Washington as the dark room of my nightmares: Love. To me, that is more important than my doggie Porsche, the chocolate that would kill me anyway, and the flying which is probably overrated. That is what I need.

It brings to life the words of historical heroine Hannah Sanesh, whose words also inspired today’s reading with Simple Abundance. “In my life’s chain of events nothing was accidental,” she said. “Everything happened according to an inner need.”

You can’t always get what you want, as the Rolling Stones put it,  but you get what you need.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/01/09/daily-prompt-fear/