Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Jumping For Joy March 30, 2014

Apparently it’s frowned upon. It’s one of those behaviors that helps earns a dog (who shall remain unnamed) the title of obedience school drop out. It’s one of those things that makes a lot of people say “no!” in loud voices. Jumping. From the ground up, it is literally one of my life’s true conundrums.

JoyBecause my forever people seem to like it. From day one, I have reacted to the simple motion of a person patting their legs while standing as a cue they would like me to jump into their arms. Obviously that must be why they are patting their legs like that. So I use the imaginary springs in my legs to jump two or three feet into the air and voila! Success for all parties.

Unfortunately not everyone understands this gesture as the sign of joy it is meant to be. I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that the thought of catching my 23-pound frame would seem daunting if one is physically unprepared. But it got me to thinking today about the unique power of the unexpected.

The unknown. From the ground up, I know it can be scary. And usually there is no way to prepare. But if we overcome it by bringing fear to purpose, it can become a beacon of joy. If we let it.

This is not to say my methods of jumping for joy are always the best. To each his own. At least I know it works for me. And for my people. And, as it turns out, it worked on the photographer visitors that were here in my forever home recently. It turns out they didn’t forget about me at all. They actually included me in a second version of the commercial, which begins with a lovely image of mom and baby Carter.

Of all things, I was jumping. There I am doing the thing that most dog trainers frown upon. The naughty thing that gets dogs like me kicked out of obedience school. The thing that seems to elicit the “no” response more than most other things I do. There I am doing what I do best. Jumping for joy. I don’t think I will ever be convinced it’s such a bad thing.

To see the second version of the commercial: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=573205620437&l=8948471090623811603

 

 

Trick or Treat October 26, 2013

There’s not a lot I would change about myself. I guess you could say love has made me confident. I stand proud, head held high, ears up, tail wagging. And no one is going to break me down. I am who I am.

I can’t say it’s always been that way. I, like anyone, have had my fair share of ups and downs with self esteem. (Being thought of as a clearance puppy comes to mind). But I’ve come to understand all of my past as an important part of my present. Challenge builds character, whether or not we like it (or realize it) at the time.

This is why I was initially a little confused by this thing called Halloween. People dress up as all kinds of things other than who they really are. Ghosts and goblins and vampires and witches. Why not instead celebrate who they are rather than focusing time, energy (and from what I understand sometimes a great deal of money) on the perfect costume?

I’ll tell you why. It’s fun. There is something kind of dangerous and exciting about putting yourself aside to become another character, if only for a day.

So today I became the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz. It is a character with whom I identify closely, especially as I have begun to better understand the relationship between fear and purpose. Like me, the lion began his story blinded by a fear that had a negative hold on his self esteem. It took courage for him to understand that fear has no place in life. Given my own personal backstory, it was the perfect costume.

My trick or treat dates (otherwise known as a few of my favorite little people) were also dressed to impress. They included a ninja warrior, a flapper girl and Scarlett O’Hara. Together, we walked the streets of Grandma Schmidt’s neighborhood collecting a plethora of goodies that I can’t have.

I didn’t mind that (too much) though. Because it was fun. And underneath by lion getup I was still me. A little dog with a big heart. Even “in character” I want to share joy from the ground up with whomever will take it. I think that’s the secret to this whole Halloween thing.

Rather than seek to change everything about who you are, you ought to find a creative way to embrace it. Stand proud, with your head held high and your heart beating strong. Because at the end of the day we are ourselves again. And (whether we realize it or not) who we are is something pretty special.

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A Dog’s Purpose September 26, 2013

It’s a big deal. I don’t know why anyone would say it isn’t. But a pressure exists in our society to figure it out sooner rather than later and I can’t say I agree with that. What are you going to be when you grow up? We ask it of our little people, who (more often than not) respond with some pretty big ideas. They want to be a lawyer. Or a writer. Or (better yet) a balloon maker (this was my mom’s dream job at the tender age of four).Fear to Purpose

Then they start school, and the ideas change. The dreams continue to evolve, but the question doesn’t go away. What do you want to be when you grow up? A lawyer? A writer? (At this point you have matured enough to rule out balloon maker as a profession).

Then comes college where the pressure sounds the worst. What are you going to be when you grow up? Law school sure is expensive. And there sure is a lot of competition to become a writer. How about psychology? Or communications? Or financial planning?

Obviously us canines don’t really go through this whole debacle as we rely on our people to struggle through it on our behalf. (All so they can go to that place called work instead of play with us all the time – a concept I’ll never fully understand). Perhaps because I don’t personally deal with the distraction of the daily grind, I’ve noticed that regardless of where along the line a person ultimately comes upon their answer to this very big question, it has something very significant in common.

None of this matters without purpose. Without passion. I may not have a career, but I’m no stranger to thoughts on what makes up a purpose-filled life. I remember the first time I questioned my purpose right after I was separated from my birth mom and brothers. I feared I would never feel what it’s like to be a family again. I thought I found my purpose in protecting Jo from the man with the leather belt, but he didn’t like that purpose very much and solved that problem by leaving me on the side of the road. I feared I would never know home again. So I spent the majority of my time at the Oshkosh Humane Society questioning my purpose in life. I feared I wouldn’t know love again.

But I have found that fear (especially in our darkest moments) ultimately brings purpose to those who let it. My fears led me to purpose in becoming a valued part of a family in my forever home. I know now with complete certainty that I am fulfilling my purpose in something as simple as that.

“As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being,” analytical psychologist Carl Jung suggested.

It is a big deal to find one’s purpose. To kindle the light. I don’t know why anyone would say it isn’t. What do I want to be when I grow up? Besides the fact I’ve committed to never actually growing up, I have found what matters. My purpose in life is to be a valued part of my family in my forever home. My purpose is to share joy from the ground up with whomever will take it. My purpose is to live, and bring fear to purpose for me and anyone who knows me. I know my purpose. What’s yours?

 

Dive Right In September 18, 2013

Water. I know it’s necessary for living. And for staying clean. But I just can’t understand why anyone (human or canine) would choose to spend any given amount of time immersed in water. My mom likes swimming in it, and I know there are certain breeds of dogs who love retrieving things from it, but the concept is one that just doesn’t make any sense to me.   In the Deep End

I can’t say I have a good reason for my opinion. It’s not like I ever had a bad experience that now haunts me or anything like that. I just don’t like it. But I do think there is something to be learned from the practice of swimming so maybe it’s not all bad. I got to thinking about this tonight after mom got home very much later than usual from that place called work. Apparently she spent the day at meetings listening to various people talk about all things interesting that relate to her job. Some speakers were more poignant than others, she told dad, which made for a long day. (She’s telling me! I hate when she gets home so late…talk about a long day!)

From what I’ve heard, public speaking is one of those things more people dislike than like. Kind of like dogs and water. As I thought about it, something unites these two seemingly unrelated opinions: fear. One of my very least favorite emotions. It’s right up on my list of disliked emotions with timid, anxious and shy. No one I know would use these words to describe me, but that wasn’t always the case.

Fear is debilitating. It commands our attention and directs our actions. And I say this as one who used to live in fear of a variety of things. I feared no one would ever love me. I feared the man with the leather belt. I feared and it consumed me. But I can say with confidence it consumes me no longer. My optimism has brought me to a place in life where I make it a goal to bring fears to purpose. And sometimes the only way to do this is to dive right in. Head first, or heart first, depending on how you look at it.

“Courage is a peculiar kind of fear,” suggests British politician Charles Kennedy. Water may not be my favorite thing in the world. And I think public speaking is one of the most common fears people have. But something can be learned from the concept of diving in as a means of facing our fears. It takes courage to bring our fears to purpose in life. Dive on in – the water is warm.

 

 

 

My Purpose-Driven Life August 28, 2013

It’s a big deal. I don’t know why anyone would say it isn’t. But a pressure exists in our society to figure it out sooner rather than later and I can’t say I agree with that. What are you going to be when you grow up? We ask it of our little people, who (more often than not) respond with some pretty big ideas. They want to be a lawyer. Or a writer. Or (better yet) a balloon maker (this was my mom’s dream job at the tender age of four).

Then they start school, and the ideas change. The dreams continue to evolve, but the question doesn’t go away. What do you want to be when you grow up? A lawyer? A writer? (At this point you have matured enough to rule out balloon maker as a profession). Then comes college where the pressure sounds the worst. What are you going to be when you grow up? Law school sure is expensive. And there sure is a lot of competition to become a writer. How about psychology? Or communications? Or financial planning?Ground Up Thinking

Obviously us canines don’t really go through this whole debacle as we rely on our people to struggle through it on our behalf. (All so they can go to that place called work instead of play with us all the time – a concept I’ll never fully understand). Perhaps because I don’t personally deal with the distraction of the daily grind, I’ve noticed something. Regardless of where along the line a person ultimately comes upon their answer to this very big question, it has something very significant in common.

None of this matters without purpose. Without passion. And I may not have a career, but I’m no stranger to thoughts on what makes up a purpose-filled life. I remember the first time I questioned my purpose right after I was separated from my birth mom and brothers.

I feared I would never feel what it’s like to be a family again.

I thought I found my purpose in protecting Jo from the man with the leather belt, but he didn’t like that purpose very much and opted to abandon me on the side of the road.

I feared I would never know home again.

So I spent the majority of my time at the Oshkosh Humane Society questioning my purpose in life.

I feared I never know love again.

But I have found that fear (especially in our darkest moments) ultimately brings purpose to those who let it. My fears led me to purpose in becoming a valued part of a family in my forever home. And I know now with complete certainty that I am fulfilling my purpose in something as simple as that.

It is a big deal. I don’t know why anyone would say it isn’t. What do I want to be when I grow up? Besides the fact I’ve committed to never actually growing up, I have found what matters. My purpose in life is to be a valued part of my family in my forever home. My purpose is to share joy from the ground up with whomever will take it. My purpose is to live, and (in doing so) bring fear to purpose. What’s yours?

 

Fear to Purpose: My Restoration Movement March 3, 2013

I sometimes wonder what the people who took care of me at the humane society would think of me now. I know my doggie adoption profile highlighted my ability to “sit” on command, said that I would probably be best in a home with children older than ten people years, and referenced behavioral issues I had in my past adoptive home. But I’ve been with my forever family for two and a half years now, and I’ve come such a long way.

In addition to “sit,” I can now catch, shake, lay down, rollover, play dead and give high fives and kisses like they’re going out of style. I’ve always gotten along with the little people in my life, all of whom were under the age of ten when I met them. And I will never forget the day my adoptive parents took me to the behaviorist (a required stop for me in the adoption process) and the behaviorist said I was one of the smartest and most well-behaved dogs with whom she had ever worked.

I guess you could call me the life-size doggie representation of restoration. Defined by Bing as giving someone or something new strength or vigor, my restored perspective on life is in line with that of Walter Scott, a spiritual man whose name is synonymous with the Restoration Movement.Bringing Fear to Purpose

“Look back, and smile on perils past,” he once said. You see, my personal experience has taught me to find value in the unhappiest of times because it is in those moments we find the most powerful sources of strength and perseverance. Just because I would prefer not to return to the Oshkosh Humane Society doesn’t mean I don’t find value in my time there.

I did spend the majority of my time in a cage questioning everything about my purpose in life, but in the meantime I met Rusty and several other unique canine characters and the people there took good care of me. Every day I feared I would never get adopted because I was too old or too hard to train. But I have found that fear, in these dark moments, brings purpose to those who let it. Now I welcome opportunities to bring fear to purpose in my life. Like Phillip Phillips reflects in “Can’t Go Wrong:”

I’ll take the best of what I can from my  mistakes
And now I know, now I  know
I can’t go wrong, as long  as I remember where I’m from
Hold  my head up just to keep it clear
I  want a chance just to face my fear, face my fear

Forget that garbage about only being able to sit and needing behavioral training. I think the people at the humane society would be proud of me for facing my fears and bringing purpose to my life.