Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Proud of ‘Ya January 26, 2015

I never met the man, but from what I hear he was pretty special. He was smart. He was stubborn (in good ways as much as bad). And he was a good dad to my dear forever mom. He left for heaven a few years ago, which was far too soon in the opinion of those who knew and loved him. Be What You Believe

But like most of those beloved friends and family members looking down on us from heaven, he makes his appearances from time to time. Today it happened when my mom reminisced with dad over dinner about something her father used to say. Dad told mom he was proud of her for her recent blogging efforts.

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but she’s a writer too. And recently she’s just started writing posts for an exciting new web site called LadiesLife.com. After less than a week, the posts she’s written are doing incredibly well, which has been a source of celebration around my forever home.

“Proud of ya,” her father used to say, in a teasing and slightly-deeper-than-usual voice. It was kind of an inside joke for her and her family growing up, one she shared with dad tonight. I’m not sure how, but it was like he read my mind when as he responded to her, saying exactly what I wished I could say.

“You know he’d be so proud of you, right?” he said. “And not just for your writing, but for being such a great mom.”

I knew tears would likely come next, but I also knew they weren’t the bad kind.

I never met the man, but from what I hear he was pretty special. He was smart. He was stubborn (in good ways as much as bad). And he was a good dad to my dear forever mom. I know she misses him sometimes more than others. I also know tonight was one of those times. But I also know what my forever dad said was true. Her father would be so proud of her. And, when it comes to missing someone, knowing that means an awful lot.

Check out the LadiesLife.com posts here:

http://ladieslife.com/7-things-no-one-told-you-about-being-pregnant/

http://ladieslife.com/think-youre-ready-bring-baby-home/

 

Never Far Away December 13, 2014

It’s a trip I’ve only made once. And it’s a long one. Don’t get me wrong, I love a long car ride through beautiful landscaping just as much as the next dog. But five hours one-way? I would say that quantifies a long journey. I figured with a journey that long, the destination would have to be something special. And it did not disappoint.Mom and Uncle Frank

Phillips, Wisconsin. From the ground up, it is indeed a pretty special place. I visited there a few years ago when my forever mom and dad brought me along on their anniversary trip to a cabin in the woods. Beyond the colorful surroundings of mature trees shedding their leaves, there is a distinctly homey woody scent in the air my nose captured about a mile outside of town. But all of that was nothing next to the history this place has for my forever mom especially.

It’s where her dear grandpa grew up. Where her mom spent summers as a child. And where she and her family visited throughout her childhood and young adulthood. Though mom’s grandpa went to heaven years ago, family remains steadfast in that neck of the woods all those hours away.

I know family means different things to different people. I also know some people don’t consider what some might think of as distantly related relatives family. That is and never has been the case with the folks mom fondly refers to as her “Phillips family.” They love and embrace each other any time regardless of how long its been since they last spoke or saw each other. That is real family in my eyes. Never Far Away

All of this came to mind for me tonight as we put dear baby Carter to bed. Mom and dad said Carter’s bed time prayer as usual, but afterward mom kept going. “And please bless Dolores Marlenga and the entire Marlenga family up in Phillips tonight, Lord. Please hold them in your arms and remind them that dear uncle Frank is in a better place. Please give them hope in knowing they will see him someday when we are all together again in heaven.” It’s always dark in the room when we pray as a family at night, but I know a shaky voice when I hear one. She was crying as she said those words.

Mom’s great uncle Frank left for heaven a couple of days ago, and though we all know it was his time, that never makes these times any easier. I’ve gathered by the timing involved that we will not be making the journey to the funeral, but I suppose that’s okay. Because that’s the thing that so special about this family. They can be so far away and yet are always close together. Always in each other’s hearts.

That’s the souvenir I took home with me on that long car ride home from that place called Phillips, Wisconsin. That’s the souvenir I carry with me in my heart on a daily basis. The peace. The hope. The joy in knowing family like that is never far away.

 

Between Here and There October 25, 2014

Here and there. Now and then. Before and after. Give and take. If dichotomy lives, it comes alive in the everyday opposites we come across in life.

A friend of mine, Christine, recently came face to face with one of the very hardest of these to encounter. Life and death. From the ground up, it doesn’t get any bigger than that. Her dear grandmother passed away a few days ago, and she said the time she spent with her leading up to her eventual passing was incredibly eye-opening.Eyes on the Prize

It was restorative. Invigorating. And incredibly sad. Loss of an important life is never easy, after all. But the silver lining is the lesson in this particular dichotomy. Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu suggested that “life and death are one thread, the same line viewed from different sides.”

Though it doesn’t happen in all cases, in this case there was time for people involved to contemplate the reality of that very thread and reexamine how they see it in their own lives. That was the case for dear Christine, who said she reevaluated how precious and fragile life is in those last few days with her beloved grandmother.

She found peace and joy in her prayers and meditation. She cried, but found renewal in her tears.

Because there is this thing about here and there. Now and then. Before and after. Give and take. And even life and death.

 

These are the things that make us feel more alive. Together, they restore our faith, not just in whatever religion we chose to follow, but in humanity itself. And faith is a might powerful thing. With faith, sometimes when you’re here and there you’re right where you need to be.

 

Through Chaos As It Swirls July 12, 2014

Four years. It probably doesn’t sound like much to the average person. But to the average four-legged friend, it’s a fraction of a lifetime. Seriously, four years for most dogs is equivalent to almost 28 people years. That is a long time. Four years. From the ground up, that is how long I’ve known real joy. That’s how long I’ve known what life should look like. That’s as long as I’ve known my forever people. And it does feel like a lifetime.Joy (six months ago)

Not because I plan to move along to doggie heaven any time soon. God willing, I intend to be around a while yet. It feels like a lifetime because I’ve watched the change, the growth, that can happen in a person. I wouldn’t say dad has changed much. He’s an emotional rock. He is steady, steadfast, and true to my dear forever mom. He provides for the family, both financially and emotionally. He keeps everything level. I am grateful to him for all of this.

Mom, on the other hand, has evolved since I’ve known her. When I met her she was struggling with a lot of different things. She had recently lost a job she loved two weeks before her father suddenly died. She had struggled with an eating disorder. And (perhaps worst of all) she turned to all the wrong methods of coping. But that was then.

All of that is behind us now. Through chaos as it swirls, we have emerged. And she has changed a lot since I met her. Please don’t misunderstand. She always loved dad and I bigger than the sky. But something about how she shows her love to us (and now dear baby Carter) has evolved over the time we’ve spent together.

I know four years doesn’t sound like a long time to the average person. But it’s a long time to me. I know life on the streets. I know life moving from adoptive family to adoptive family. And I have found my forever home. Within it, it has been an honor and my privilege to see my forever people grow together throughout my time here. Four years. From the ground up, that is how long I’ve witnessed the growth that accompanies sincere joy. And it’s pretty beautiful.

 

 

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.

 

Rescue Me November 17, 2013

I didn’t believe her at first. She was new and exciting and her past didn’t matter to me. What mattered was she was my new mom, my forever person, and I loved her from the start.

RescuedI loved her that first day she and dad came to visit me at the Oshkosh Humane Society. We shared a special moment when she knelt down to pet me and I did my best to grab on with my paw (as only us canines can do) to show her she was the one for me.  I was devastated when they left without me that day. The days that followed were some of my lowest of the low. A whole two weeks went by before I saw her again, and that’s when I knew it to be true. My forever person had found me. I was being rescued.

Recovery. Liberation. Deliverance. Rescue means different things to different people, all tied together by the common denominator of strong emotional responses. Joy. From the ground up, that’s what rescue means to me. So it never occurred to me that perhaps more than one heart was rescued that day. At least not until later, as I learned my adoption followed a string of unfortunate events in the lives of my forever people.

In May 2009, mom’s job at the local newspaper was eliminated along with the jobs of about half of the staff. Two weeks later, her dad died. It was sudden and terrible, and I won’t share all the details, other than that it came as a complete shock to her small immediate family. And alas, she had a new full-time job-helping her mom meet the attorneys, doing calculations with the CPA, and acting like the grown up who had it all together. In reality, she was the 24-year-old kid who found herself turning to the wrong ways of coping.

I’m no psychologist, but I would say she was still a little depressed when I met her a little more than a year later. And I immediately set about changing that in the only way I knew how. Loving. And, in doing so, I know I made her feel more alive. So ultimately I’m not sure who really rescued who. What I do know is I never would have thought more than one heart could be rescued in the same day. Yet I know it to be (at least partially) true. Mom didn’t just rescue me that day. I rescued her.

This post was inspired by Janine Allen’s “I Rescued a Human Today.”

Read it here: http://rescuemedog.org/dog-blog/i-rescued-a-human-today-by-janine-allen/

 

Back to Life November 11, 2013

I thought I was dead. I was sure that the bright light I was seeing was the pathway to the Rainbow Bridge that takes you to doggie heaven. I saw my life flash before my eyes in that moment. And it was beautiful.

All-the-while I cried. I cried that piercing awful doggie squeal that mom has said tears at her heart. And that’s when I felt the urge to fight back. I wasn’t done with my mom and dad yet. I loved them too much to give up this beautiful life they’ve brought me into. So I wiggled and squiggled and then bam. I fell to the ground.Second Chances

It all happened so fast, I didn’t even know what was happening until it was over. It was surreal listening to mom (somewhat hysterically) relaying the information to the veterinary clinic when we were on a car ride a few moments later.

It was just the dog and his people at the park that day. The dog was on a picnic table, which never stopped me before and certainly wouldn’t have stopped me that day. I hopped up to greet him but he didn’t want to greet me. Instead, he grabbed me by my neck and dangled me there, swinging me around from his teeth from his perch atop the table. And it hurt. It still did, I realized then, on my neck and by my left eye. It hurt a lot.

But I wasn’t afraid. I listened to mom finish recounting the story when we got to the veterinary clinic about how the people ran off with their dog immediately upon him releasing me and said nothing but “don’t worry, he has his shots.” She was a wreck. And yet I knew everything would be okay.

The doctor lady looked me over, paying special attention to my eye as she told mom that I was very lucky. “(That particular breed) has curved teeth that could have very easily taken out his eye today,” she told mom. Then she looked at me and said “you’re very lucky, little Wiley.”

I’ve never thought of myself as particularly lucky, but I suppose I was that day. But it wasn’t all luck. I realized that today, one year later, as mom and I spent some quality time together at that same park. It was because I am blessed. With a loving family and a beautiful life filled with second chances. I certainly got another chance at life that day, for which I will be forever grateful.

 

Paws for Prevention October 3, 2013

I need a haircut. I am scruffy and unkempt looking and I don’t like it. It doesn’t seem like it’s been long since I last visited Mary at Paws ‘R Us, but perhaps its because I actually like it there.

Don’t get me wrong, the bath part is pretty awful. Dogs are not meant to be sprayed, hosed and cleaned with a smelly soap that smells nothing like our natural doggie scent. But everything else about my time there is pretty special. I get to see all my pals, including the groomer Mary who always calls me handsome. And I get to ride in the car, which is always a plus.

Light Amidst DarknessI think it goes back to my time at the Oshkosh Humane Society where I associated grooming with attention, and associated attention with much-needed love. Tender loving care, I think it’s called. And whether it comes through a haircut, a golf game, or some time at a spa, we all need it every once in a while. It’s part of maintaining balance. Part of being alive.

I decided somewhere along the line to embrace my scruff in honor of a cause. Apparently people do this sometimes for things like Movember (mustaches for prostate cancer awareness). Well I declare my time of scruff-itude Scruffy September. And I know my cause. A people friend of dad’s shared a flier with me take struck a chord with my heart. “Walk your pooch to prevent suicide – Milwaukee Out of the Darkness Community Walk.” Sign me up!

I often talk a big game about being a light in the darkness. Here is my chance. Proceeds of the Out of the Darkness Community Walks benefit  the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the leading national not-for-profit organization dedicated to preventing suicide. Suicide. Its a foreign concept to most canines, but I know people who have been impacted by its aftermath. There is never a “right time” to lose someone, but being a loved one left behind as the result of suicide is a struggle I wouldn’t wish on anyone. You wonder what you could have done or should have done differently. You transfer blame. You grieve. Deeply.

It all makes me feel very silly obsessing about how badly I need a haircut. Maybe that’s the point. I’m lucky to be alive, regardless of how scruffy I might be. So I think I’m going to convince mom to take me to this walk. Because as Aristotle Onassis said “it is in our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.”

For more information on AFSP: http://www.afsp.org/

 

 

Paying it Backward September 11, 2013

Dear Diary,

Today started like any other day. Mom took my little people to that place called school after they ate a healthy breakfast of watermelon and peanut butter and jelly crackers. (I got samples of both as usual).

Today the schedule was no different. Except it was. Something was very (very) wrong with my forever mom when she got back from dropping off my little people at school. I could hear her heart racing and I recognized the emotion all over her face. Fear. She ran frantically throughout the house turning on every television and radio. And she looked like she could cry at any second.

That’s when I saw it. Something terrible happened in our world today. Something about planes and terrorism and the Twin Towers and New York and death. Lots of death.

These words echoed throughout the house all morning. It wasn’t long before mom went back to school to pick up the girls very (very) early. She wanted them to be home safe in case catastrophe hit again any closer to home. And shortly thereafter there we were. My forever people and I watching tragedy unfold right before our eyes. Watching history in the making (and not the good kind). All on live television. Which I find especially ironically sad since there is simply so much death.

Today started like any other day. But it ended up being anything but that. Something tells me this is only the beginning of many changes to come.

Yours always,

Pheobe

Proud to be an AmericanIt turns out I’m not the only aspiring writer in my immediate doggie family. Twelve years ago today, my forever mom’s childhood dog Pheobe chronicled the events of that fateful day that forever changed our country, New York City and the world. I wasn’t around to experience it, but I know it’s one of those days you don’t forget.

But (at least in my humble doggie opinion) not forgetting is not quite as meaningful as always Always Rememberremembering. This was illustrated for me today in the words of author and NYU professor Jim Joseph, who suggests we pay it backward to show our respects. Joseph lives in New York, and in today’s blog entry on The Huffington Post he fondly recalls his experiences in New York on September 11, 2012.

What began in his heart as a day that should become a National Day of Remembrance evolved into an idea for a National Day of Kindness. It started with the person in front of him in line at Starbucks who paid for his coffee in recognition of the day. Later Joseph seized his opportunity to pay it backward. I’d like to think kindness made its way through New York that day.

What a beautiful way to pay our respects to an event of the past. And what beautiful symmetry there is in knowing we are commemorating a day of violence with the arch nemesis that is kindness. Today started like any other day, but it hasn’t ended that way. Through Pheobe’s words that day lives on in my heart. And from this day forward it is no longer a day to simply not forget. It’s a day to remember. It’s a day to pay it backward.

 

Keeps On Giving August 5, 2013

It all started with a gift. It was Christmas Day 1997 and my mom and her little sister only asked Santa Claus for one thing that year. A puppy. They wrote to Santa, talked to him at the mall (several times), and prayed together every night that their wish for a puppy would come true.

So you can imagine their disappointment when there was no puppy under the tree on Christmas morning. It didn’t matter that there was plenty of other shiny packages with pretty ribbons and bows. There was no puppy. But a surprise lurked under the tree that later proved to be even better than a puppy. It was a package with a promise inside. “This coupon is good for one rescue puppy.”

It wasn’t from Santa either. It was from mom’s parents. They wanted mom and her sister (who were 12- and 8-people-years-old at the time) to be part of the process of picking the perfect puppy. And they wanted the puppy to be a rescue dog from the local animal shelter. It didn’t take long before they found her. Pheobe. It was love at first sight. Pheobe was the one.Gratitude

Phoebe counseled mom and her little sister through their remaining years as little people as only us canines can do. She got dolled up in all sorts of clothes, learned most of the same tricks mom would later teach me (give kiss was a favorite of hers), and made mischief that brought joy to the hearts of the entire family. She was the very definition of the gift that keeps on giving.

Later in her life, she went to live with my mom’s great-grandma to keep her company after great-grandpa went to heaven. She’d grown a bit less spunky then, but had a gift for simply being there. She was an extra set of ears to listen. An extra set of eyes to see. An extra heart to love.

Sometimes it happens suddenly. Other times it happens over time. I’ve seen it happen both ways and I don’t think one is any easier than the other. Loss is loss. When it happens doesn’t fill the gaping hole left in the hearts of those left behind. It was a gradual decline for Phoebe, but that doesn’t negate the truth that the world lost another canine treasure today. Pheobe went to doggie heaven today, after 18 years of bringing all sorts of joy to the hearts of many.

But it all ends with a gift. And, just like Phoebe, it’s not wrapped in pretty paper or tied up with ribbons. It’s nothing fancy. In fact, it’s about as simple as it gets. We never got to meet in person, but we didn’t have to for me to know the gift Pheobe granted me. My gift from Pheobe was the same as that one my mom opened all those years ago. It was a promise. This coupon is good for one rescue puppy. Thanks to the relationship my mom had with Phoebe growing up, it turns out that coupon was good for more than one rescue puppy. So far, it’s been good for two. I will always have Pheobe to thank for that.

Rest in peace, dear Pheobe. You will be missed.