Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Worth A Thousand Words October 26, 2014

No dogs allowed. Next to “not for doggies” and “want to go the vet” this might just be one of my very least people phrases in existence. Though it’s true I don’t mind the occasional instance of having my forever home to myself every now and then, when I can tell a good adventure is about to ensue and I’m not invited? It’s just sad.

It happened again today, as my beloved forever family packed up to go off to something called a pumpkin farm. I could be wrong, but as far as I know farms have animals and therefore I should be allowed to come along. Sadly, my argument fell on deaf and slightly hurried ears as my mom and dad and aunt Morgan bundled up Carter and went on their merry way.

They got back home a little bit ago, regaling stories of a yummy lunch and all the animals dear baby Carter met. Here I though the didn’t need any other animal influences in is life since he has me, but I digress. And as much as I wanted to be upset with them for leaving me behind when they clearly had such a delightful time, it was kind of tough.

There was smiling and laughter, which are contagious to me. There were leftovers (which I got to sample). And there were pictures. Lots of pictures. All with more goofy silliness to relive the day. For all the things I have against those not-so-Smartphones, the photos they take is not one of them. Since dear Carter was born, it isn’t unusual for mom and dad to take a few moments at night to relive anything particularly interesting Carter did that was caught on camera.

That was the case when they returned home today, looking through dozens of beautiful fall family photos. It almost felt like being there, without the stress of having to compete for attention with all those llamas and alpacas and chickens and emus. Come to think of it, it was actually quite nice to relive the day’s events from the comfort of one of my all-time favorite spots – curled up on the bed with my forever people.

No dogs allowed. From the ground up, this is still not my favorite thing to hear. But at least memories have a way of reliving themselves through stories and photos and all other wonderful things. I guess that makes up for it, at least a little bit.

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Walking On Sunshine October 21, 2014

I didn’t really need another reason to love fall. From homemade apple pies (and the leftover apple pieces I score) and brisk twilight walks around the neighborhood to Packer football (and my dreams of catching a pass from QB Aaron Rodgers), it’s definitely my favorite season. And don’t get me started on the cuddles.

So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that today I lived another reason to embrace all things fall. There has been somewhat of a pattern forming this time around that involves several cold, dreary days in a row followed by relief otherwise known as the sunshine. Today the sun shined on me as I strolled along next to dear baby Carter in the stroller mom pushed through the neighborhood. As we walked, I felt the crisp fall leaves under my feet and soaked up every ounce of sunshine.

That’s when it happened. I discovered another thing I love about fall. From the ground up, there is no other time of year you can walk on sunshine. Our neighborhood has an abundance of mature trees that a few short weeks ago made for a beautiful landscape as you approached my forever home. That is no longer the case, as much of the trees have now shed their (mostly yellowish) leaves, which can be a bit disheartening. Not to me.

I love the idea that today I walked on sunshine in the sunshine. I was warmed with joy to my core as we perused the neighborhood I’ve grown to know and love. I know I didn’t need another reason to love fall, but you can never have enough reasons to feel blessed. And that is how I felt in that hour or so with my beloved forever mom and dear baby Carter. Completely and utterly blessed.

I know not everyone saw the sunshine today. Literally or figuratively. So today I share the words of American baseball executive Frank Lane, who said “if you want to see the sunshine, you have to weather the storm.”

As certain as I know the sunshine will come again, I believe no one should have to weather the storm alone. For what it’s worth, that is why I choose today to share my sunshine with you in hopes the light of joy is as contagious as I know it can be.

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Give Me A Reason October 19, 2014

I’ll admit it. I hate Mondays. I heard today there is a reason no one ever says it’s lazy like Monday morning. I know it was a play on Lionel Richie’s “Lazy Like Sunday Morning,” which I think was clever and incredibly accurate since Monday is (by far) my favorite day of the week. Thank you Artist In the Sky

It’s no secret that I love all things weekend. But I think Mr. Richie was on to something in his mention of lazy Sunday mornings. Need a reason? From the ground up, I’ll give you 3.

1. Sleep. In general, it is not the same as it used to be before dear baby Carter came into the picture. That is why I mention it in reference to the weekends, when it does happen a little more than usual. Every bit of it is precious, made even more valuable to me because it’s always more fun for me to sleep with my people than without them. That, and as Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci suggested “a well-spent day brings happy sleep.” There is nothing like happy sleep.

2. Snuggle time. Related to, yet separate from the sleep referenced above, the majority of Sundays incorporate some amount of snuggle time with my beloved forever people. It’s always hard-earned, since Sunday is also a time to get odds and ends done around the house. I think all that effort makes it even more rewarding for them to sit down and relax, which makes the snuggles all-the-more special to me. It reminds me of American poet Shel Silverstein’s words “I will not play tug o’ war. I’d rather play hug o’ war. Where everyone hugs instead of tugs, Where everyone giggles and rolls on the rug, Where everyone kisses, and everyone grins, and everyone cuddles, and everyone wins.” For me, it’s more than snuggles. It’s like a hug for my heart.

3. Family fun. In the fall, it’s Packer football, pie baking, and playing in the leaves. The kind of fun we have together as a family indeed varies by the season, but I’m happily surprised to find the arrival of dear baby Carter has done nothing but add to the fun. Laughter and silliness abound in the most random of situations on a lazy Sunday when all really is well with my world. These are the things that are capable of healing the soul in a way no medicine can.

I know it’s not like your resident doggie optimist to come right out and say I don’t like something. If anything, that should tell you just how much it’s true. Because there is nothing lazy about Monday mornings. There is less sleep, snuggles and fun on Mondays. It’s that simple.

The best thing about Mondays is that Sunday is one day closer than it was the day before.

 

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.

 

The Day Fall Fell September 12, 2014

I already know you’re going to think I’m crazy in saying so. But maybe it will make sense if you just let me explain.

On Tuesday, it was 80 degrees and sunny. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Tonight, as I write this, it is 40 degrees and raining. It has been cloudy and cold for the last 48 hours. And (this is where the crazy happens), I am loving every minute of it. This is what we here in Wisconsin are used to, after all. I guess you could say fall has fallen. Hard. But I’m okay with that.

Yes, we had a perpetually terrible winter that lasted well into what should have been spring. It was record-breakingly terrible, with temperatures well below zero more days than not, and snow banks higher than fence lines. Spring was almost non-existent as winter somehow slowly melted its way into an incredibly mild summer. I think there were really only one or two incredibly hot weeks in the mix, and lots (and lots) of rain. Throwback snuggles

So I know it sounds crazy that I’m so excited to welcome fall with such open (albeit a bit chilly) paws. That is, until you let me explain.

Yes, fall brings colder temperatures and confirms the impending ferocity of winter in Wisconsin. But it brings so many other things along with it. I love the smell of my forever home when mom makes her famous Very Cheery Cherry pie. I dream of the crackling leaves under my paws as my people clean up the backyard. And you can’t beat a brisk twilight walk around the neighborhood as the smell of burning wood resonates in the air. But the best thing of all is the cuddling.

It happened tonight in what might be one of the most special moments between myself, mom and dear baby Carter to date. As you know, Carter is eight-months-old already, and he and I have been going through a bit of a rough patch. I will admit that the fur pulling and screeching sounds he makes as he is figuring out his vocal chords have worn a bit thin. But all of that was forgotten tonight as mom rocked dear baby Carter to sleep.

It was no different than any other night since he’s been born. My people followed the same bedtime routine as always. But tonight, after months of apparent disapproval of the cuddling concept (with only a few exceptions), dear baby Carter cuddled. For a good long while. I found myself so drawn to the simple joy of the moment that I curled up on mom’s (freezing cold bare) feet and stayed there through the duration of the rocking time.

It could have been five minutes. Or it could have been an hour. All I know is that tonight I was incredibly okay with the fact that fall has fallen around here. Because it has brought us only good things so far.

 

A New Leaf August 28, 2014

There are a lot of people in my life who wouldn’t dare say or admit what I’m about to say. I even overheard part of an albeit disturbing conversation about it today. After the winter we had earlier this year, I can’t say I blame them. That doesn’t change the fact that they are indeed in denial. Yes, winter around here was much too long, spring barely made an appearance and summer was far too short. But tonight, as I soaked in the cool breeze coming in through the windows of my beloved forever home, it was confirmed. Fall is coming.Backyard Happiness

I could smell burning wood and hear the sounds of the night through the darkness, which is starting to fall much earlier these days. As I watched fireflies dance from one of my favorite spots in the grass of my backyard paradise, I could feel a chill rising up from the ground.

Soon there will be nothing left of summer and the long, warm nights outside will be replaced with bonfires and s’mores. Soon mom will inevitably go through her annual pie-baking phase, where she churns out more cherry and apple pies than any person could (or should) really ever eat. Soon the leaves will turn colors before eventually shedding from the trees.

Soon the leaves will turn colors before eventually shedding from the trees. For some reason, the essence of fall somehow came alive in the essence of those words in my mind. As I watched the branches of the trees sway in the breeze tonight, I was struck with the powerful message that accompanies the fall season. Just as spring is a time of rebirth and renewal, fall is a reminder that life goes on. Sometimes we need a reminder to move past something that has been holding us back. Sometimes we need to turn the page. Sometimes we need to think about finding a way to turn over a new leaf. For me, that is the essence of fall in a nutshell.

It might not be the most popular truth around the state right now, but that doesn’t change the truth. Fall is coming. Fast. And while yes, it brings cooler air and shorter days, it also brings encouragement. It also brings hope. From those bonfires to extra cuddle time to those leaves that need turning, I would agree with Irish songstress Enya that we have a lot to look forward to.

“The spring, summer, is quite a hectic time for people in their lives,” she said, “but then it comes to autumn, and to winter, and you can’t but help think back to the year that was, and then hopefully look forward to the year that is approaching.”

 

In God’s Hands November 2, 2013

It’s normal for leaves to fall from the sky in my part of the world this time of year. Especially in my backyard paradise, where we have a few exceptionally large trees. As a result, a blanket of gold and orange currently coats the grass (or so my people tell me – it’s kind of tough for me to decipher these colors). But the leaves weren’t the only thing to fall from the sky today.

I was ruffling around in my backyard (aka leaf blanket) this morning when I got a surprise visit from two of my favorite little people and their parents. Apparently it wasn’t a surprise to my people, but they hadn’t said anything about Sophie and Sam coming by to spend the day with us. I suppose this may have been a proactive decision, as the mention of their names may have sent me into an excited panic until they arrived. But that’s neither here nor there.

Cuddles with SophieAfter their parents left, we sat together – Sam, Sophie, my dad, my mom and I – in the living room for a bit. (All right, more like cuddled. I nuzzled my way into Sophie’s lap pretty much the second she sat down). The television was turned to the local news station (where I’m proud to say my aunt works) and they were interviewing season 8 American Idol finalist Danny Gokey.

“God’s written a beautiful story for people,” he told the interviewer, “you just have to walk into it and embrace it.” I was touched by this idea, as I am a believer in embracing the good in all people, places, and things that make up my life story. But then she said it and my heart really turned to mush.

“When I was little,” nine-year-old Sophie said, “I used to think God had the world in His hands.” She was sure to clarify that now that she’s grown up she knows God isn’t actually floating in space holding the world in His hands, “but He’s still got us all taken care of.”

The leaves weren’t the only thing falling from the sky today. So was joy. From above. Wherever I looked, it seemed determined to find me in its varied poignant messages. God may not be physically holding the world from his perch in space, but He was certainly present in my mind today. As well as in my heart.

 

The F Word October 10, 2013

Brisk walks around the tree-lined streets of the neighborhood. Snuggling on mom’s lap while she and dad sip pumpkin spice lattes by the bonfire in the backyard. Snagging the occasional apple slice that makes its way onto the kitchen floor while mom bakes one of her apple pies on a lazy Sunday afternoon. These are the fall moments to embrace. Haunted houses, spooky corn mazes and scary movies filled with blood, guts and gore? Not so much.

I can’t personally understand why anyone would ever purposely subject themselves to any of these fear-inducing fall traditions. But then again, I have my reasons. As one who has lived on the receiving side of abuse (both physical and verbal), I am here to testify fear is truly its own four-letter word.

And that’s coming from a four-legged mind that generally doesn’t process swear words. Dogs don’t swear. Sure, we have our own unique ways to demonstrate choice words. But that’s one of the perks of silence – we never really have the opportunity to say something we will later regret.Forgiveness

It doesn’t happen often in my forever home, but it used to happen a lot in my life before my forever people rescued me. People swearing, saying hurtful things they didn’t mean, and ultimately filling their lives with nothing but regret. Well, I guess I’m not sure about the regret part. That’s not for me to judge.

What I do know is the fears I have each have a reason, mostly relating to the man with the leather belt. He swore a lot. Usually after he’d been drinking. And he is the reason I grew to fear leather belts, power tools and vacuum cleaners.

I remember the way his breath smelled on my face the time he thought he would vacuum me because he hated all my shedding. I can picture the glazed look in his eyes when he thought he’d cut my nails with his cordless drill. And the belt. That was the worst of it. The belt wasn’t usually meant for me, at least until I intervened when he would use it on my dearest little Jo (my little person at the time).

But there is this thing about fear. It has a way of controlling us if we let it. And it’s a huge roadblock to the one combination of things that can cure regret: forgive and forget. I have long since forgiven the man, but I can honestly say I will never forget the fear. It’s a part of me I can’t truly shut off, even with my forever people. I have absolutely no reason to believe my dad would ever use his belt on me yet I still cower at the sight of it. The same goes for the vacuum and the drill.

So I don’t know why people purposely subject themselves to fearful things this time of year. It’s one of those people things I have accepted I may never understand. Instead I focus my emotional energy on the words of Martin Luther King Jr. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that,” he said. “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

 

A Shower of Gold October 9, 2013

Sometimes I want it. Badly. Other times I’m overcome with relief that I never really have to worry about it. This thing called money offers me a variety of emotional responses. Lately I’ve been struggling with the realization that while I am blessed not to have to worry about it, it doesn’t go unnoticed. Instead my people worry about it. A lot.

Money, money money. It used to come up occasionally, but the frequency has increased lately as preparations continue for my new little person. And its never really a happy conversation. Not that there is arguing or fighting, but us canines have a sense for things like stress and tension.Its just money

It happened again today. I overheard them talking about it and I was overcome with longing. I wanted money. I wanted to buy them all the nice things for the little person they keep talking about like a travel system (whatever that is) and a mobile for the crib. I wanted to give them everything they think they want.

But that’s just it. Wants are not always needs. And needs are not always wants. It sure would be nice if I somehow had all kinds of money to spend on these things. But that’s all they are – things. Just things. Things don’t create happiness, no matter how necessary they seem. Moments of real joy begin in the heart, not the mind.

I was reminded of this tonight as mom and I took a quick walk around the neighborhood right as the sun was setting. It made for a beautiful scene, with the sun shining through the trees as the leaves fell peacefully along our path. And I realized in those precious moments there is this thing about beauty – its completely free. And (even better) it often buys happiness. And joy. And gratitude.

“Here we are sitting in a shower of gold,” observed Australian writer Christia Stead, “with nothing to hold up but a pitchfork.”

It seems I’ve gotten it all wrong. I don’t want money. I want my people’s worry to go away. I want them to see the beauty in all things like I do and feel the sense of emotional richness that brings. I want them to be happy. These wants are really needs in my book. So today I renew my vow to do my small part to highlight these things in our lives, starting with my people. Because I know my heart contains within it its very own shower of gold.

 

A Second Spring October 2, 2013

We see clearly but not in every color. We hear a pin drop from one hundred feet away. We can taste the difference between health food and people bacon. The more than 200 million receptor follicles in our noses can smell diseases. But (at least in my opinion) we canines are cut off at the proverbial knees if you take away our ability to feel. And today I feel blessed.

It happened suddenly on my twilight walk around the neighborhood with mom tonight. I had one of those overwhelming senses of peace. Happiness. Joy, from the ground up. And I have all of my senses to thank. That, and the true beauty that is fall in my tiny piece of the world.

The trees have begun turning all sorts of varying shades of gorgeous. Sure, I can’t see it nearly as vividly as my people, but I can tell something magical is happening. To me it’s all its own kind of sunshine. The leaves that fall are the rays that leave crunchy paths of novelty along my otherwise familiar route. It reminds me a little of the peace I hear when the snow falls. I don’t know whether people hear it or not, but I sure do.

And don’t even get me started on the smells. Though I do still catch a whiff of grilled goodness wafting through the air, it has mostly been replaced with burning wood and leaves. And candles that smell like cinnamon and caramel. And pies in the oven that smell like all kinds of delicious fruits of the season. (Did I mention my love for apples?)

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower,” suggested French philosopher Albert Camus.

How special then that these sights, sounds and smells all align around this season of harvest. Just as crops are now ripened and gathered this time of year, we are blessed with a veritable pantheon of potential sources of joy, happiness and peace. Trusting in our senses is perhaps the most basic way to soak it all in, and (at least in my humble doggie opinion) may even be the most powerful.

So today I saw my second spring. I listened. I smelled. And I felt it. Joy from the ground up falling down around me amidst the leaves.

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