Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The Headless Happy (Birthday) Chicken February 5, 2015

It’s a matter of respect for me. I won’t say how many years ago it happened, but that doesn’t change its level of importance in my life. Which is high.

Today is my forever dad’s birthday. Though that happened at least a year or two before I was around, it’s a day I pause to appreciate each year. It’s a day I couldn’t miss, too, since mom has this thing with birthdays. I’m not sure of the rationale or reasoning behind it, but its very important to her to go above and beyond to celebrate a life. A few years back...

Today was no exception. The stars aligned and (somehow) everything got done. I wouldn’t have guessed it this morning either. Between her work and all things birthday, she was running around like a headless chicken. There was cleaning and cooking and laundry and grocery shopping to be done. And there was a surprise visit with Carter to dad’s work, and later a surprise lunch date with Carter.

And everything fell into place. Work got finished. The cleaning and cooking and laundry and grocery shopping went smoothly. The surprise work visit and lunch date were a huge success. It was a good day.

I know because we’ve had some bad ones lately that days like today should be celebrated. Not just for the obvious reason that I’m elated that my dad was born all those years ago. But for the refreshing sanity I know my dear forever family feels when things go as well as they did today. It’s invigorating.

It’s also a novel idea that there can indeed be headless chicken running that doesn’t revolve around only unsatisfying chaos. Instead there was a sense of joy about it from beginning to end. Headless and happy can coexist after all.

For me, it’s a matter of respect. I won’t reveal the number behind my forever dad’s wisdom. But today I will live the words of American entrepreneur Oprah Winfrey who suggested “the more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”

 

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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Everyone Wins June 24, 2014

It’s pretty silly. It’s one of those things that probably would be classified by most of us four-legged folk as embarrassing. But I don’t really care what people think. I know happiness. I know joy. From the ground up, it happens in these moments. Silly or otherwise.

When it comes to tricks and training, my dear forever mom has always taken the lead. From her, I’ve perfected sit, stay, roll over, play dead, give kisses, and a host of other talents I’ve come to know and love. While I love the treats (especially anything involving bacon or any imitation thereof), the joy I see run across the faces of my people is a treat in itself. Hugs

What dad and I have is different. He’s been the primary initiator of my favorite family game (otherwise known as pickle in the middle), but lately he’s done more than that. He’s been my primary buddy ever since dear baby Carter was born, and though I had my reservations about this at first he has not disappointed. He’s surprised me with a number of new things, such as catch and (my personal favorite) hugs.

Here’s the thing. I know it’s pretty silly, but I’m not too much a (doggie) man to admit I need a hug from time to time. And the best part is, dad always seems to know when those times are. I don’t know how he does it, but that’s no matter. Because when he does, it’s the kind of moment us canines live for. “Wiley, come give me a hug,” he says. And I do. And I’m not lying when I say it brings my heart just as much joy (if not more) than it does him.

I think it’s something frequently forgotten about by people these days. And although I personally believe everyone needs a good hug from time to time, it doesn’t have to happen in hug form. It can be a smile. Or a caring conversation. Or anything really, that involves truly and sincerely caring for another being.

It probably sounds silly, but I don’t care. Neither did a favorite American poet of mine named Shel Silverstein, who once wrote “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.”

That is the kind of world I chose to make for myself. Won’t you do the same?

 

The Joy of Restoration June 1, 2014

Something pretty special happened today. I know I’ve said so before, but it really is a shame they don’t let four-legged friends into that place called church. Because today my dear baby Carter was baptized. He was made new. While I say he’s been one all along, he “officially” became Jesus’ little lamb.

All of this apparently happened at that place called church, so I had to rely on the stories and photos afterward to learn of what occurred. It sounds like it was really something. Carter didn’t cry or babble or squeak (it’s a high-pitched bird-like sound he discovered he could make recently). Instead he smiled. He smiled while the congregation sang songs of praise. He smiled at people in other pews. And he smiled as the pastor baptized him.

This was somewhat a miracle since I know the time of day this all happened is usually his (and my) mid-morning nap time. But instead he did what he does best. He shared joy. He did it at church and at home later (after his nap).

Happiness All of that preparation on the table cloths yesterday was unnecessary, since the party took to the backyard. God smiled on our day with plenty of beautiful sunshine and warmth. And the 12 pounds of pork? It turned out perfectly. I may have gotten a sample (or two) from a few family members whose identities will be protected.

So there we were, all together for the first time since baby Carter was born. Mom’s family and dad’s families came together in one place to celebrate the joy of restoration. I know they weren’t there to see me, but having everyone together like this in my backyard paradise brought me the sincerest of restorative joy.

Something pretty special happened today. I still say they should have let me come to the church. But alas, the meaning behind the day takes center stage in my heart whether or not I was there to witness it. Because I witnessed the aftermath. Joy. From the ground up, it was realized by my beloved forever family today. And in doing so it brought to life my belief that faith restores us, and in turn restores the world to the way it was intended to be.

Check out Carter and mom in church: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=576672457867&l=121c4add20

 

To Live Afresh February 11, 2014

I’m not showing off. When it comes to regrets, I just don’t have many. In fact, I think I can count them on one paw. And I can trace them back to one day. One day I wish I could relive. The day that changed my life forever.

It started like most other days of my young puppyhood – with my birth mom bringing my two brothers and I scraps from the garbage of a nearby restaurant. I remember snatching away the last bit of bread crust from my brothers. It was so petty of me – and though I wouldn’t know it until later, I regret it to this day.

Because that’s the last meal my little family would share before it happened. That was the day we got separated. The day we were on the road and the car just came at us so fast. When I saw it coming, I ran and didn’t look back. That was my single most painful regret. I never looked back.

CozyInstead, I ran back to what I considered home base and waited for my family that would never return. I dream of them often, my brothers and my birth mom, and what happened to them that day. I pray they ran away just like I did. I pray they stayed together and lived long and happy lives. But I will never know for sure. And it eats away at my little doggie heart every time I think of it.

Then, almost as soon as it is broken, it is whole again. Because if that hadn’t happened, if I had paused for even another second, I have no idea what would have happened. I don’t regret running. I regret not looking back.

“Make the most of your regrets,” suggested transcendentalist thinker Henry David Thoreau, “never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.”

I know my mom wouldn’t have wanted me to live afresh in my regret. Because she would have wanted me to embrace life in that moment. She would have wanted me to run. And I know she would be proud. Because every decision I’ve made since that one has led me to where I am today.

 

You Tell Me November 24, 2013

Some people call me needy. I prefer loving. Compassionate. Loyal. There’s only one problem: I care what people think. There, I said it. And “needy” doesn’t exactly sound like a positive thing.

Yet I will be the first to admit I am a self-proclaimed doggie Olympic gold medalist at attention-seeking behavior. I cuddle into the tiniest crevice next to (all right, sometimes on top of) whomever will have me. I prefer to be a co-pilot on car rides rather than slum it in the back seat. Above all, I won’t rest until I’ve made someone smile. Counting Blessings

Sure, this external locus of control on self-esteem has its downsides. (Complete and utter failure come to mind). But the joy I feel in the moments I’m sharing joy with others more than makes up for that.

I thought of this today as I watched as my forever people bustled around the house. Today dad finally finished his long list of daddy nesting projects around the house. In his eyes, the house is officially ready for our new little person. Meanwhile, something called a car seat travel system got assembled, a diaper bag was put together, and baby clothes were washed and neatly folded away. I felt blessed to be a bystander in these moments. I watched it all unfold from the comfort of my doggie bed in the kitchen. And, in doing so, I became the richest doggie alive.

For 339 days, I have shared my thoughts with the world. My 365-day mission to share my unique perspective on joy (from the ground up) has almost come full circle. And today I realized perhaps one of the most important things I’ve come to know from my experience is myself. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I’ve learned a lot about the way I think, the way I perceive the world around me, and the ways in which my “needy” title is actually a good thing.

“If you want to feel rich, count the gifts you have that money can’t buy.” I don’t actually know who said these words, but I do know how they make me feel. I’ve stumbled upon great fortune during this journey of self discovery. Some people call me needy. I prefer to see myself as an ambassador of great fortune to all who will take it. Joy. From the ground up, that is my gift to give. You tell me whether it’s worth taking.

 

Who Am I? August 15, 2013

Who am I anyway? This is a question I asked myself a few times a day during my time at the Oshkosh Humane Society. Please don’t misunderstand my question for pessimism, as that was never the intention. Conversely, the optimist in me wanted to be better. I tried and tried (perhaps too hard) to win over my visitors so they would take me home.

More often than not, they would opt for a younger (or cuter or bigger or smaller) dog and I would be left wondering what I could do differently. What could I do to stand out in the crowd?

JoyI knocked down a little girl so I could lick her face – partially because I loved her at first sight and partially because she smelled like ice cream. That didn’t work. I demonstrated my vertical jumping skills for a young man because he looked athletic and I thought he’d be impressed. That didn’t work. I did every trick I could think of when Katie (my favorite humane society caregiver) told me to sit because I wanted to impress a young couple. Some would see this as overachieving. The young couple I was trying to impress used the word stupid.

But I kept my chin up. I knew my time would come. I just had to figure out who I was before I could find my forever people. I think it is the same way with people who are looking for their person. You need to know who you are before you can share that unique personality with another person. And (let me tell you) you certainly don’t answer life’s most challenging questions of identity by trying too hard. You answer them by letting go. By not trying, but instead by being. By being yourself.

As soon as I realized and employed this philosophy, I was adopted. Sure, it was by the wrong family at first (the one with all the other animals where who I was still wasn’t clearly apparent to any of us). But it worked. I let myself be myself and they let me in – the real me, not the me trying to be something I’m not. It’s not my fault they didn’t recognize everything the real me had to offer.

And I’m glad they didn’t. Because I knew right away that my forever people did. Three years ago today I met them for the first time. My people. It was a hot and sticky day and I knew it in a moment. We went outside and mom kneeled down and I put my paws on her knees. She pet me and I knew she was the one. They immediately saw me for me and loved me for it. Joy. From the ground up, it happened that day.

Who am I? There is no longer a question in my mind. American writer and inspirational speaker Esther Hicks says it best. “You are joy, looking for a way to express. It’s not just that your purpose is joy, it is that you are joy. You are love and joy and freedom and clarity expressing energy – frolicking and eager. That is who you are.”