Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Let It Go October 29, 2014

Apparently I live under a rock. At least that’s how I felt for a moment today as I heard a song I later learned has taken the world by storm. It’s not surprising to me at all that the song has become as popular as it has, with its positive message set to powerful chords. Throw that lyrical magic into a Disney movie for the kiddos, and you’re golden.

“It’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small and the fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all,” sings Idina Menzel in Disney’s “Frozen.” The message certainly must have different meanings to different people, as any well-written song does, but to me the idea of letting it go is the standout life lesson. Moving on. From the ground up, it isn’t always easy to do. Grass is grass

It wasn’t easy for me to let go of my birth mom and brothers after I lost them that fateful day all those years ago. Loss. It wasn’t easy for me to get over being returned to the humane society (twice). Rejection. It wasn’t easy for me to trust the hands of people again after the man with the leather belt. Pain.

These could all be some pretty significant emotional eyesores if I let them be. That’s the thing about negativity. It’s pretty powerful stuff. I know I talk a lot about the contagion of joy, but I feel like negative energy somehow manages to multiply with even more ferocity than the positive. I think it might be because the roadblocks we encounter in our daily lives can make it easier to complain about not moving ahead than to focus on how to actually do it.

To do it, you need to make a whole other decision. And it’s not always easy. You need to put aside the negativity for a fresh look on life. You need to move on. You need to let it go. Just like the (ridiculously popular albeit new-to-me) song says to do. Take it from me, letting go is the best decision I’ve ever made.

 

Decisions Decisions March 27, 2014

It’s not one of their strong suits. Not that I can talk since I never make them myself. But I can without a doubt say that my dear people are bad at it. Decision making. From the ground up, it seems simple enough. Yet experience has taught me that couldn’t be farther from the truth.Hard at Work

Sometimes its little things like dinner. It took almost a half hour to decide what to have for dinner tonight. This amazes me, one who eats the same thing for breakfast and dinner every day. Other times its big things, like mom’s recent decision about changing jobs. And sometimes its things that make me incredibly upset. Like when mom can’t decide what to wear. Nothing fits right, she says to no one in particular. Meanwhile I stand by feeling absolutely helpless. Those are the hardest ones for me.

I realized something tonight as I witnessed yet another debate about dinner. In the end, it doesn’t matter how big a decision it is. It matters that we make them. Because as one that doesn’t make them very often I can bear witness to – decision making is a privilege. Not a given. Decision making comes with experience, Understanding. Life experience. And it is something we earn rights to over time.

Even if it’s not always someone’s strong suit. At least in my opinion, it is this – the ability to make decisions – that drives what some refer to as destiny. While I find solace in the truth that everything happens for a reason, I also believe in the power of choices that foster the reason in the first place.

“It is what a man thinks…that really determines his fate,” suggested one of my favorite transcendental thinkers Henry David Thoreau. Decision making. From the ground up, it doesn’t matter how big or small it may seem. Each decision brings fate to life.

 

So Many Choices February 19, 2014

It’s pretty obvious to me. Every morning I get the same thing for breakfast. Every night I get the same thing for dinner. And I’m not going to lie – it’s pretty tasty. Certainly not as delicious as the my favorite dog treats and raw hide bones. And maybe not quite as delectable as the occasional nibble of bacon, salami or peanut butter. But it’s definitely tasty.

So you can imagine my confusion at the frequency at which my forever people debate what to have to eat. In or out? Fancy or simple? Healthy or naughty? It’s all gibberish to me. And don’t get me started on what happens next when mom can’t decide what to wear. Though it is helped (a bit) by the previous questions, it’s never easy. Then there’s the shoes. And the jewelry. So many choices. So Many Choices

Indecisiveness has a hold on us around the Schmidt house and it drives me crazy sometimes. It’s more powerful than it sounds to be sure. It might not seem like a big deal, but (like anything) it always is a bigger deal than it seems. Not to mention the times when it stirs itself into a disagreement. All over something so silly as which pair of shoes looks better with a certain set of pants, which make up an outfit that may or may not be too dressy for the dinner destination of choice. It’s exhausting.

And I’m not even the one stressing out about these things. I’m just observing. I can’t imagine what it would be like to get caught up in the business of making decisions. From the ground up, I would much rather save all that emotional energy and apply it toward something useful. Like figuring out a way to translate dog thoughts into people words so I could tell my people to make a decision already. And so I could be there to support them when it ends up being the wrong one.

Because it seems pretty obvious to me. Certainly it’s not always as simple as what to eat for dinner. But when there are so many choices, sometimes the most obvious one starts at the beginning. It starts with the choice to decide.

 

Keepers of the Light January 27, 2014

Leadership. It’s a big word that means a lot of things to a lot of people. Ask 100 people to define a leader and you’ll get at least 60 different responses. Words like strength, courage, integrity, honesty, and loyalty all come to mind. Ask a dog, and the response is pretty simple. Leader of the Pack

For us, its almost instinctual. We have a pack mentality, therefore there will always be a pack leader. And there will always be a pack leader because of our pack mentality. It is that simple. We look to our leader for everything, and do not mind doing so because we prefer to know where we stand. And if no pack leader steps forward, we will assert ourselves as the leader. Whether or not that is the best option is left for interpretation.

I’m not saying one way of thinking is better than another, but I do think there is something to be learned from especially the similarities between the two. At least from what I can tell, there is something almost instinctual about a person’s definition of leadership as well. It is personal, usually aligned in some way with one’s subjective experiences. Good leaders have a way of asserting their leadership in a way that guides rather than forces followers. A way of making them feel at home with their place in life while at the same time in control of it.

Late great American basketball coach John Wooden had a few things to say about leadership, one of them being that leaders make decisions while followers make suggestions. Because let’s face it. It’s pretty easy to make a blanket statement about something bothersome. It’s something completely different to actually do something about it.

That’s the thing about leadership. It means different things to different people. But in a way that is also the glue that binds its meaning together. Whether you have two legs or four, one thing in particular seems to ring true. The best leaders are those whose followers become leaders themselves.

So I guess I fall somewhere in the middle of the canine and the people way of thought. The way I see it, leaders are keepers of the light. They shine brightly for those in the darkness. They guide gently with even the smallest flickering flame. They help people see the way. And (perhaps most importantly) they pass the torch along so there is never a moment of darkness.