Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

On Making Mistakes May 8, 2014

It’s happened to the best of us. We looked back on something and thought to ourselves “self, that was not the best idea.” That was absolutely the wrong thing to do in that situation. That was a mistake.

But as I am in the business of not having any regrets, I have come to view such things as important (and almost necessary) pieces of anyone’s life puzzle. I do say this with some authority in the matter, as I (not unlike most characters) have a past worth considering. I’ve made questionable decisions.

My Napping BuddyLike the day I defended myself (and my dear little person at the time named Jo) against the man with the leather belt. And the time I jumped the fence in my attempt to escape from my first (failed) adoptive home in Port Washington. Or, most recently, the time I chased that rabbit around the neighborhood of my grandma’s house the night before mom had baby Carter. I gave my poor beloved forever mom an emotional heart attack that night that I still wish I could take back.

I’m not sure why I relived all of these images in my daydreams today. Or at least I wasn’t until I noticed something dear Carter did. One minute he was there in his jumping gismo, happy as ever. The next, he was not. He tried to get his big ole baby foot out of the jumper and ended up in a very uncomfortable position. Not sure whether he’ll make that mistake again.

But I suppose that is indeed the point of it all. Because let’s be honest. It has happened to the best of us. We’ve all done things in life that we find questionable later. Things we wish we could take back. Things we deem to be mistakes.

But, as usual, I agree with Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, who challenged that “a life making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life doing nothing.” I think sometimes we need to make these mistakes to remind ourselves where we are at in life. We need to make these mistakes to remember the lessons from them. We need to make these mistakes to live.

 

I’m Sorry Now April 22, 2014

I don’t really know what happened. One minute I was in my happy place otherwise known as dreamland (chasing rabbits and other small vermin, of course). The next thing I know, there was crying. Well, it was more like screaming actually. Very loud and incredibly frantic screaming. Wiley! Wiley! WILEY!

I’m not sure how long it was going on before it finally woke me from my apparently deep slumber, but out I crawled from one of my favorite spots under my peoples’ bed and there I was. And there she was.

My dear aunt Morgan was in shambles. Absolute shambles. Her hair was strewn every which way. She was crying. And she was upset. She was incredibly upset. I did my best to cheer her up with all of my tricks. I snuggled and wagged and licked and none of it seemed to work. It was apparent. I was in the dog house. The worst part was, I wasn’t really sure why.

That is until mom returned home shortly thereafter. That is when I listened to the other side of the story. I thought he ran away, Morgan said, I thought he was gone. It seems to have startled her that I didn’t respond right away, I realized. This brought to light something I’ve always known but spend very little time contemplating. Baby Love

We often don’t know the consequences of our actions until it’s too late. A lot of things are said that we can’t take back. Yet we say them, they do their damage, and life goes on. A lot of things are done that have negative repercussions. A lot of decisions are made with little to no thought of their impact. All the while I know in my heart the power of the ripple effect. Everything we do, intentional or otherwise, has an effect on the world around us.

“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life doing nothing,” as Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw suggested.

It doesn’t matter that I didn’t know what was happening. It doesn’t matter that in my dreams I was about to slay a whole coven of squirrels. What matters is the tears that resulted from my ignorance. The stress I caused with all kinds of unnecessary worrying about my whereabouts.

Because while it was certainly not intentional I learned a very important lesson today. I learned what it means to cause such confusion. Because I learned what is like to be loved. It’s not the first time, and I (while I don’t intend a repeat episode anytime soon) I am so very blessed in knowing it won’t be the last.

 

No Freedom Without Love May 19, 2013

Shelter dogs long for it. Teenagers drool over it. Adults occasionally miss it. The way I see it, there is this thing about independence I can’t quite put my right paw on. It’s almost like its one of those things in the world that isn’t all it’s written up to be. But what exactly is it written up to be?

Well, you’d better believe I thought I knew the answer to that question while I was fending for myself on the streets all that time ago. After the initial anxiety I had about being separated from my mom and brothers wore off, I had a newfound and overwhelming surge of pride in my independence. I could do whatever I wanted wherever I wanted with whom ever I wanted. I didn’t have to report to anyone, rely on anyone or support anyone but myself. It was fabulous!

Feeling the LoveOh dog, did I have some growing up to do. I realized it a few days after I became an adjunct member of Tiger’s family. The dog (for whom I was previously uncertain whether to fear or despise) was my single most embarrassing misjudgment of character. It turned out he had four pretty good reasons to be protective of his food and shelter. Their names were Sam, Spike, Lucy and Lana, and they were only about eight weeks old when I met them for the first time. I wasn’t that much older than them myself, but upon meeting them I instantly felt protective like I would have been of my own brothers.

My moment of self-discovery happened a few days later when I had a rough day finding anything to bring home to share with Tiger and his pups. I scrounged harder than when I was on my own because I felt responsible somehow. I was so embarrassed to come home with empty paws that day, but Tiger didn’t mind one bit. He had a hidden stash of food for days like this. I was stubborn at first when he offered me some crumbs of a loaf of bread and a couple of almost-rotten carrots. I didn’t need his help. I could fend for myself. I was better than this. Stronger than this.

In that moment as Tiger’s earnest eyes held out to me my portion of the scraps I realized sometimes knowing when to ask for or accept help is wisdom at its core. There is more strength in those who ask for help than those who refuse it. Indeed, I was no longer the only dog who cared if I lived or died. I was no longer completely independent. And it wasn’t so bad. A few seconds later, I was scarfing down those precious little scraps with more joy in my heart than if I had returned home that day with a feast.

“Independence? That’s middle class blasphemy. We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth,” said Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw.

What a silly young dog I once was, thinking complete independence was the best thing since sliced bacon. Independence, at its skeletal core, is not all its written up to be. It’s not about being completely alone in all things, plotting through life to “figure things out.” It’s about understanding yourself well enough to know how you best relate to others. It’s about making the best of our moments of solitude and sharing the resulting joy with someone. It’s about asking for help when you think you need it least. There is no true independence, no freedom, without love.

Today’s post is lovingly dedicated to a four-legged blogosphere friend of mine named Claire.

She passed away a few days ago, and she will be sorely missed.

Claire and Frond

 

God’s Gift to Me April 20, 2013

High PawI realized today I give out an awful lot of cyber hugs and high paws lately. I love my blogosphere. Seeing it grow into a forum for sharing smiles, joy, laughter, and sometimes even a few tears has been an unexpected blessing. These are all some pretty big feelings we talk about here, which I say brings us together in a way unlike any other.

It brings to mind the thoughts of South African social rights leader Desmond Tutu, who said “you don’t chose your family, they are God’s gift to you.” How blessed I am to have so many people in my life with whom to share all my big thoughts and emotions!

God’s gift came to life in a unique way for me recently, with my receipt of the WordPress Family Blogging Award from two truly inspirational people bloggers. Thank you, Melanie and Misifusa, for what you do each day. You bring sunshine into the daily lives of so many and are truly special to me. Congratulations to both of you for a job well done. Here’s how it works:

Rules:

1. Display the award logo on your blog.

2. Link back to the person who nominated you.

3. Nominate 10 others you see as having an impact on your WordPress experience and family

4. Let your 10 Family members know you have awarded them

5. That is it. Just please pick 10 people who have taken you as  a friend, and spread the love

Sharing the Joy

I’ve said before that joy is best enjoyed when it can be shared, and what better way than to nominate some of the members of my WordPress family who inspire me daily.

Sheila Morris http://essayswithhumor.wordpress.com/

Rumpy Dog http://rumpydog.com/

Maria http://acceleratedstall.com/

Cupcake (and her mom) http://cupcakepetrillo.wordpress.com/

Trev http://writetowag.wordpress.com/

Lyn http://theencouragingscribe.wordpress.com/

Wendy and her Diplomatic Doggie http://diplomaticdog.wordpress.com/

Michelle http://hopethehappyhugger.wordpress.com/

MissEllaTea http://randomencountersoftheinquisitivemind.wordpress.com/

Chaing the Perfect Moment http://chasingtheperfectmoment.com/

Rarasaur http://rarasaur.wordpress.com/

Matthew http://thematticuskingdom.wordpress.com/

Jump for Joy http://jumpforjoyphotoproject.wordpress.com/

Misaki http://themisadventuresofmisaki.wordpress.com/2013/04/20/playdate/

Amba http://soyouthinkyoucanthink.wordpress.com/

Huntmode and family http://chasingrabbitholes.com/best-advice-received/

Mangus http://magnuswendler.com/

Carolyn http://www.abcofspiritalk.com/

HastyWords http://hastywords.wordpress.com/2013/04/20/shattered-broken-pieces/

Scrapydo http://scrapydo.wordpress.com/

This is a sample of some of the most special bloggers in my life. Thank you also to Shaun (Praying for one day), who created this special award.

This is what Shaun had to say about this it:

“This is an award for everyone who is part of the “Word Press Family” I start this award on the basis that the WordPress family has taken me in, and showed me love and a caring side only WordPress can. The way people take a second to be nice, to answer a question and not make things a competition amazes me here. I know I have been given many awards, but I wanted to leave my own legacy on here by creating my own award, as many have done before. This represents “Family” we never meet, but are there for us as family. It is my honour to start this award”

Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw said “a happy family is but an earlier heaven.” I don’t know how doggie heaven can be any better than this.

 

To Making it Count February 12, 2013

I’ve heard people say hindsight is 20/20. What is that about? I learn nothing from trying to chase my own tail around, so why would people? No. I prefer to dream bigger than my memories. I prefer to respect the past as part of my present on my journey to the future. And that’s coming from someone with animal instincts.

So why is it so tough for people to be themselves? To trust their instincts?

It’s not hard for Isabelle, Sam, Sophie and Abigail. They are the four little people in my life, and I learn a lot from them. Namely, they are fearless, they dream big, and they have absolutely no censorship clause on their thoughts. They are the embodiment of joy: from the ground up. And they have no idea how good they have it. “Youth is wasted on the young,” George Bernard Shaw said.Isabelle and I - Christmas 2012

Or is it? I’d rather think of youth as the building block of memories for one’s future. Good, bad, or indifferent, youth is a time of endless imagination and that is never a waste. But something changes between youth and adulthood that I think hardens the instincts. Up go the walls of cognitive censorship, and the next thing we know, we’re living life thinking hindsight is wiser than foresight. Where, in the midst of all this grown-up thinking, is gratitude? Imagination? Optimism?

This blog is called Wiley’s Wisdom: A Unique Perspective on Joy not because I think I’m particularly wise but because I make it my life’s mission to live a life of gratitude, which I know is better when shared. I give thanks for my life by giving back to the lives of others. “I figure life is a gift, and I don’t intend on wasting it,” as the humble street rat Jack Dawson said to his millionaire dining partners aboard the Titanic disaster that would ultimately take his life. “To making it count.”

His past was a valued part of who he was, but it didn’t get in the way of his (albeit short-lived) future. Nor will it get in the way of the future of my loved ones if I have anything to say about it.

That is one of many reasons why I think something valuable can be learned from the children in my life who disregard the opinions of others in favor of their own. Let’s do as they do and forget that 20/20 business. Let’s instead think like American mover and shaker Oprah Winfrey.

“Follow your instincts,” she said. “That’s where true wisdom manifests itself.”

 

Young at Heart February 9, 2013

Every now and then I will be at the dog park or on a walk through the neighborhood and I hear it. Four seemingly unimportant people words strung together in a beautiful sentence that makes my heart smile. “What a cute puppy!” It goes the same way every time: mom corrects the person by telling him or her that I’m actually full grown and I wag my tail incessantly until the person kneels down to pet me. The truth is, I love the attention almost as much as the compliment. I may be a mutt to some people, but what is in a name?

You see, there is something about us canines you need to know. From Pomeranian to Great Dane, that playful puppy we once were is always a part of us. Puppyhood wasn’t always easy for my two brothers and I, but my birth mom always had a way of making even the littlest events seem special. I remember our one-month birthday like it was yesterday.

A dog's tail never lies

My birth mom had made a pretty nice home for us with decent shelter from the elements and I was so worried because she was gone for a really long time that day. Boy, did she have a surprise for us when she got home! She had spent the day relentlessly scavenging through garbage can after garbage can to find us the perfect dinner, and she did not disappoint. She finally returned to us (after finding what I can only assume must have been the garbage can of a very upscale restaurant) holding in her mouth the most beautiful steak we had ever seen. Sure, it was not that great for our puppy diets eating whole food like that, but it made us all feel special sharing such decadence.

I look back on that night often, as it wasn’t long after that when we all got separated and I found myself longing for family. Longing for home. It would be another two people years before my people brought me into my forever home, and it may as well have been a lifetime. But my puppy-like state of mind helped carry me through the hardest of times. Life through a puppy’s eyes is scary, but I prefer to see it as exciting. Everything looks and smells new, and the world is such a big place yet to be explored. When you’re a puppy, you spend your time primarily playing, eating and sleeping. What could be better than that?Playing "dead"

I can’t say I completely agree with Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, who claimed “youth is wasted on the young.” No sir. I’m much more in line with former American president Theodore Roosevelt. “Old age is like everything else,” Roosevelt said. “To make a success of it, you’ve got to start young.”

That’s why I feel such a sense of joy when people mistake me for a puppy. The best thing about childhood is making the early decision to never grow up.

 

The world is my dog park January 4, 2013

“Why, except as a means of livelihood, a man should desire to  act on the stage when he has the whole world to act in, is not clear to  me.” Dear George Bernard Shaw, how I enjoy your words. Not to mention My Fair Lady, but that is a whole other conversation.

I am back in Simple Abundance mode, looking to day four: This Isn’t a Dress Rehearsal. Today is about today, not about practicing for today. We have the whole world to act in, as Shaw put it, so why don’t we use it?

Today’s challenge to live each day as if it were our last got me to thinking about where I would want to spend my last day. Like many of my canine pals, it didn’t take much to come to the conclusion that one of the contenders for my final hours would be the dog park. Another playwright and lover of the stage William Shakespeare called the world an oyster….well, I don’t much care for oysters, but I sure do love the dog park.

It has everything a dog could love: plenty of room to run off all kinds of energy, lots of new and old pals (human and dog alike)…not to mention the car ride to get there. (I love car rides!) It makes me feel alive being there running (semi) wild with the wind in my hair, playing and wrestling and meeting new friends. Unfortunately for me, it also almost made me dead a couple of months ago, when I was attacked by a pit bull. But this is a new year, and I’ve resolved to find good in all things. Alas the reasoning behind my dog park metaphor.

That day when that pit bull had me by my neck four feet in the air could have been my last. The way he shook me and growled and the terrifying sounds my bones made when he threw me to the ground….I found myself (for the first time ever) contemplating the whole cat’s have nine lives concept. I didn’t want to die. And I almost did. Talk about a wake-up call.

Live for today

“None of us can be expected to perform every minute of our lives,” writes Breathnach in Simple Abundance. “But a lot of us might tap into the power, excitement, and glory of Real Life more frequently if we cast ourselves as the leading ladies — or in my case leading gentlemen — in our own lives.”

I will not play the supporting role in my own life. Especially to a pit bull.