Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

A Story About Some Shoes March 18, 2015

For me it’s things like my increasing supply of treats from dear baby Carter. And the constant supply of food and water in my bowls. And a forever family that loves me. Sometimes I honestly can’t even picture life without these things. Yet I do also recognize that these things that feel like givens in my life are not necessarily that.

Today I scored an exceptional amount of treats. From strawberries to blueberries to string cheese bits and goldfish crackers, I had it all. I do appreciate how blessed I am to have a little person that loves me enough to share his food with me. Yet I do think it is one of a few things in life I have come to take for granted. Feeling the Love

So when I happened to overhear a story about shoes today, I felt a tug at my heart strings. Mom was talking with someone about shoes, which seemed like something of an odd topic to me at first. Sure, mom likes shoes as much as the next person, but this sounded different.

Apparently the person she was talking to is collecting shoes. And not like a New Yorker would collect Jimmy Choos. She is collecting them for people who don’t have any shoes. She is in the process of organizing a local shoe drive to collect shoes to donate to people who don’t have shoes in Ecuador. People who don’t have shoes in Ecuador. It took me a bit to process that.

Shoes. From the ground up, I’ve never had much use for the things myself. I know my people each have their fair share of shoes. Even dear baby Carter has started wearing shoes in recent months due to his increased range of activity. To think of them leaving the house without shoes on is such a foreign concept to me.

Yet apparently there are people out there who simply don’t have shoes. Period. To them it’s not a matter of whether pumps or flats work better with an outfit. Or if the black shoes really need to match the black belt.

It made me stop and think twice as I accepted Carter’s strawberries before bedtime tonight. And as I feasted on my food and water. And as I snuggled up to my dear forever people as they watched some television together. There is so much in my life I could so easily take for granted. Instead I was reminded today to pause and appreciate life’s simple little things.

 

A Man’s Best Medicine March 10, 2015

It’s not the first time it’s happened, but it might be the most memorable time to date.

“Today this little guy doesn’t have many big thoughts. Instead I have gratitude.”

Two years ago (almost to the day), I spoke these words in reference to a beautiful day in the neighborhood. It was 40 degrees, and I was cold, but it was the first time my dear forever mom and I got outside for a decent walk since before her knee surgery. Recovery from that surgery was an experience I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, so it was especially meaningful for us to hit the road again that day. A beautiful day

Today it happened again. Recovery wasn’t an issue this time, unless you count the emotional recovery from the winter doldrums we Wisconsinites all experienced for the last several months.

Instead it was simply joy. From the ground up, that is what filled my heart when dad (of all people) said the magic words. “Do you want to go for a walk?” I’m never sure why he and mom ask me such silly questions when they already know the answer.

Off we went, dear baby Carter and mom and dad and I, together, on a quick jaunt through the neighborhood. It was almost 60 degrees this time, and (while I love my alone time with mom) it was nice to be with everyone. Carter babbled in a language only he (and sometimes mom) understands the entire way. And mom and dad laughed, happy to be breathing in the fresh spring air.

Ancient Greek physician and philosopher Hippocrates took it so far as to suggest that “walking is man’s best medicine.” Today I soaked up the medicine, just as I did two years ago. And in doing so, I must have brought my mental motion to a halt because all I could think was how happy I was to be on the road again. Gratitude.

From the ground up, today I find myself thankful. Thankful for the weather. And the sunshine. And the way it warms hearts and minds. But, even more so, thankful for the people that bring it all to life.

 

A Lot Like Love February 13, 2015

It’s one of those things I’m glad us canines never have to worry about. We are what we are, and (other than our breed, I suppose) it really is as simple as that. We don’t have labels for things. Not like people with their relationship statuses anyway.

Single. Widowed. Divorced. Married. It’s complicated.

Indeed it is complicated, and not in a good way. Because in my mind there is something that unites all of these labels together in spite of society’s attempts to identify separate groups. Love. From the ground up, I find it to be a constantly evolving emotion that truly knows no bounds. Nor does it fit perfectly into any one of those boxes.

Around here, I saw this brought to life today in some intriguingly interesting ways. My dear forever mom worked mostly from home today, which means Carter and I got to enjoy a little extra time with her than usual. I watched as she put on her Energizer bunny hat, seeming determined to get some serious work done around here. When she wasn’t taking care of Carter, she was working. And when she wasn’t working, she was cleaning. Kisses

It probably doesn’t sound like much, but I could tell this particular round of chores had a special motive for her. My suspicions were confirmed when she (as she does quite often) explained to Carter and I what she was up to. Her goal was to get chores done today so her and my dear forever dad wouldn’t have to worry about them over the weekend. It was her little way, in addition to the gift and card she got him for Valentine’s Day tomorrow, to show her love.

So when the doorbell rang this afternoon, she was actually a bit irritated at first. How dare whoever is at the door interrupt her in while she was in the midst of her love-driven cleaning/organizing/working rampage? The tears came when she opened the door and saw what awaited her outside. Flowers. From dad, Carter and I.

And so we showed our love for mom in a slightly less practical way. (Though I will admit it was dad who took the lead with the idea).

Watching all of this happen reminded me of some pretty important features about this thing called love. It doesn’t have to fit into a box. Whether you’re single or have been married for 75 years, it finds its way into life in moments like these. As it should, I feel, for anyone you care about.

So tomorrow, as we in America pause to reflect on all things love, I’ve decided to stop to take stock of all of the loved ones in my life. Not just my forever family, but my extended families and friends and those I haven’t seen in a while and you out there in the blogosphere. I might not be able to show you with chores (or flowers), but believe me when I say from the bottom of my little doggie heart: I love you.

 

What You Wish For February 12, 2015

It happens with the laundry and the cooking and the cleaning and (as crazy as it sounds) sometimes even the diaper changing.

Sometimes I wish I could help out more around my forever home. It would definitely qualify as something I feel the slightest bit guilty about. And it happens pretty regularly around here, especially since dear baby Carter was born.

I know I help with things like my remarkable charm and the unique ways I find to bring my kind of joy into every day. But I often wish I could do more. Sunshine

Most recently it happened last night. After all that talk about the silver lining of exhaustion yesterday, I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when the inevitable happened. For no good reason at all, no one slept well around here last night.

The usually sound-sleeping Carter woke four times throughout the night. My theory is twice he just wanted reassurance that mom and dad were there. The other two times he was hungry.

My dear forever mom didn’t sleep well either. I suppose being 22 weeks pregnant might have something to do with that.

And then there’s dad. He doesn’t sleep well when mom doesn’t sleep well. And the crying woke them both up every time. But when it happened at 2:03 a.m., precisely 8 minutes after mom finally fell asleep, it wasn’t even a question.

Dad took care of it. He went and got a bottle ready and grabbed a very upset Carter out of his crib to feed him before mom could get out of bed. I think I may have been as thankful as mom to see it happen, because it was one of those times I wished more than anything I could help.

 

Teamwork. From the ground up, it’s not always easy. I know dad was as tired as the rest of the family in that moment. But that’s how it goes sometimes. And as much as it might bother me that I can’t help around here in more practical ways, I know in my heart I do my part in the ways I can.

I’ll never be able to do the laundry or dishes or help calm a crying baby in the night. But I love my forever family unconditionally and for me at least that will always be enough.

 

Because I Love You December 15, 2014

It happens all the time. Sometimes several times a day. To be honest, it happens so frequently, I could very easily find myself taking it for granted. In reality I know that is the absolute worst thing I could do. I Love You

That’s why when it happened today, I paused. I took it in. I wrapped my heart around it so tightly in an effort to remind myself how special the words actually are.

“I love you so much, Wiley. Do you know that?” These are words mom says to me pretty often, and rarely do the words include one sentence without the other. The statement and the question. I used to think it was kind of silly of her to ask a question with such an obvious answer, but time has taught me not to be curious about such things. It is what it is, and for that I am thankful.

She’s taken to saying it to dear baby Carter as well, which I found some irony in as I thought about it this afternoon. Because neither he nor I can say it back. I know soon he will be talking up an intelligible storm, but that has yet to come to fruition. And I have nothing by my nonverbal arsenal to show her the obvious truth that I not only know her words as truth, but adamantly return the sentiment.

I know this as certain as I know she doesn’t need an answer to her question. She asks it all the time. But I will never (ever) take that for granted. In my book, a person can’t say they love another person enough.

“Immature love says: ‘I love you because I need you,'” suggested German psychologist Erich Fromm. “Mature love says ‘I need you because I love you.'”

A dog can’t show their unconditional love for their people in enough different ways. Maybe it’s because I know what it’s like to not hear it enough (or ever). Or maybe it’s because I’m not getting any younger and feel the need to embrace it each time I hear it. Either way, it’s okay with me.
 

For Me It’s Both November 30, 2014

I have so many questions. So many general thoughts about life and all that makes it up. So many observations about people, places and things. And what I feel is a unique perspective from which to share all of this with whomever will take it.

Sometimes I feel like I’m babbling myself into some kind of intellectual abyss. Other times I feel like these questions, thoughts and observations have a way of coming together in a kind of harmony that I couldn’t replicate again if I tried. Like anyone I have good days and bad days. I know this reflects in my ongoing conversations with the blogosphere I have come to know as family in the last almost two years.Happy Blogging!

I can’t believe it’s been that long. In less than a month, I will have blogged every single day for two straight years. Seven days a week, 365 days a year, of joy, from the ground up. And while much of the obvious things in my life have remained static, I got to thinking today about how the world around me has changed so much since then.

Mom was recovering from knee reconstruction surgery all those months ago. She was laid up for what feels like forever, which I wouldn’t have minded if not for all the pain she was suffering through. Since then, our family of three has become a family of four and she has a different job that allows her more time at home with dear baby Carter and I. Dad liked me back then, but I know for sure he loves me now. And not just because he lets me snuggle with him more than he used to, but because he tells me he loves me when no one’s listening.

Life is different, simple as that, but I would take it as far as to say it’s better. Mom is happier, and an already stable marriage between my forever mom and dad is stronger. Carter is almost a year old and bringing more joy than frustration to all of us these days. Life is good.

When all of this started, I didn’t know what to expect. All I knew was I wanted to share my perspective on the joy in my world with whomever is interested enough to read my questions, thoughts and observations. Now I am blessed to have readers I’ve come to think of as family. It’s amazing what this thing called the Internet can do.

“Commitment is an act, not word,” suggested French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. In my case, it’s both. Because for better or worse, I am grateful to have your support through my good, bad, ugly, hysterical or downright challenging days. Amid all my curious musings, this is something I know for sure.

 

The Whole Way Home November 27, 2014

It’s one of my most absolute favorite days of the year. Not just because I get to see the extended members of my forever family. Or because of the delicious variety of table scraps I inevitably score throughout the day. It’s not even because I know I have a game or two of pickle in the middle to look forward to with some of my favorite (not-so) little people.

It’s because of how these things make me feel. Gratitude. From the ground up, it oozes out of my soul today, as our nation celebrates a day designated to pause and reflect on one’s blessings in life. Though this is something I try to do on a daily basis, there’s something special about today. Maybe it’s the time with family and those table scraps and after-dinner games. Or maybe it’s what happens when all that is over. Joy

That was the case for me today, as my most recognizable moment of blissful gratitude took me by surprise. It happened on the car ride back to my forever home. It was dark outside so no one could see it happening. Somehow that made it even more memorable for me. As has become the norm of late, mom was in the back seat with dear baby Carter, leaving me to her former spot in the passenger seat. This is an honor in itself, but that’s not all.

Soft music echoed through the car as dad drove, Carter napped, and mom sat in reflective silence in the back seat. In itself it was a perfect moment for our little family. But what completed it for me was dad’s hand. He pet me with his free hand the whole way home. Mom tells me all the time what I already know. She loves me bigger than the sky. Dad doesn’t have to say so. And no words were needed in that 40-minute car ride for me to know true gratitude.

Because today is one of my absolute favorite days of the year. I’ve never been at a shortage of reasons why I love it so much, but this year will always stand out from the crowd for its simplicity in silence. No one has to say a word for me to know real love.

That is what I am most grateful for today. The true and unconditional love I feel in my heart for my people. And even more so for the moments when no words are necessary for me to know for certain they feel it too.

 

A Kindness Too Soon November 22, 2014

Stop. Pause. Breathe. If people could learn tricks, that is what I wish I could tell them to do this time of year.

I’ve said before the holidays are a favorite time of mine, what with all the family time and music and snow and snuggling. There are few things about the holidays I don’t enjoy. But there is one thing in particular that gets to me. It happens every single year and seems to intensify as the countdown to Christmas continues.

I Am Listening!People get rude. Pushy. Rushed. And completely inconsiderate of those around them. I don’t witness much of it in person, but I hear plenty of stories exchanged between my forever people to know what’s up. It drives me crazy. Not just because it’s the season of giving. Gratitude. Unconditional love. But because of the impact this behavior has. Negativity has an awful way of spreading like a disease no one can control, and while I would hate to see that happen at any point in time, it bothers me most around the holidays.

“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late,” suggested one of my favorite transcendentalist thinkers Ralph Waldo Emerson. If there is a reason to rush this holiday season, that’s the reason.

Because this is supposed to be a season of kindness. A season to share love with others who may otherwise not receive it. This is supposed to be a time of joy, and any ignorant person in a parking lot who steals a spot from an elderly lady or shoves their way in front of someone in line or loses patience with the overworked clerk who is only in the challenging position because the store is understaffed…well, they are doing nothing but stealing joy from other people. Not sharing it.

So I say stop. Pause. Breathe. Remember what the season is really about. It’s not about the gifts or the wrapping paper or the perfect Christmas tree. Its about joy. From the ground up, that is the real reason for the season.

 

 

Reason for the Season November 6, 2014

I think we all have them. Certain phrases or cliches that make us cringe at the mere utterance of the words. For me, it’s you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I openly despise these words, mostly because I know in my heart they are completely false. It’s that simple.

The truth is, I think this is one of many realities that translates from the four-legged to the two-legged world. Ageism is a problem in society, and it is one of the things in life I just don’t understand. With age comes life. Wisdom. Memories. These are things to be honored and respected, not tarnished by a silly stereotype. Let Your Heart Be Light

I know some people don’t like it when mom asks them how young they are, but I also know she has her reasons. And she asks the question the same way, whether she’s talking to a six-year-old or a 67-year-old. I heard it again today, as she interviewed an older woman and her husband who make appearances in our area as Santa and Mrs. Claus. Santa’s helpers, they called themselves.

They too spoke of this societal problem with age, as they focus their emotional efforts on keeping the magic of Christmas alive regardless of who they visit. And it pays off, because from day cares to nursing homes, the result is the same. They inspire a joy deep within you can’t lose with age. I would dare go as far as to say it only gets better with age, but that’s just my humble doggie opinion.

I know we all have opinions about things, just like we all have phrases that make us emotionally cringe. But that’s also the reason I found this a fitting message to share as we are at the helm of the holiday season. I know random acts of kindness become a lot less random this time of year. I know its easier to be joyful and happy as planning gets underway for fun family festivities and holiday parties.

But I also know it’s not the same for everyone. For some people, these next couple of months are a torturous three month reminder of a loved one lost. A parent, a friend, or a family member who used to breathe life into the holiday has now left a gaping hole in the heart where joy used to be.

Young or old, these people need us this year. They need our love. They need our support. They need our joy to be contagious. Because ultimately that is what the holiday season is all about.

 

The (Not-So) Funny Phone Fiasco November 3, 2014

I wonder sometimes whether people can predict the future. I know it probably sounds crazy, but sometimes its like there are signs pointing us to what is about to happen and it’s up to us to read them correctly.

Like yesterday, mom absolutely freaked out when she thought for sure she’d lost her phone. She looked everywhere. In all of the couch cushions, upstairs and downstairs, in the kitchen, under the couches, in the fridge (yes, she honestly checked there), in the bedroom, under the bed…you name a spot and she examined it. Everything except the car, where it was, right where she left it.Silly Numbers

I suppose this was a precursor for what would happen today, though none of us realized it. I wasn’t there to see it all unfold, but from what I can tell it was an absolute disaster. I warn you. You may be tempted to laugh when you see what happened, but please try to restrain yourselves, at it is actually a very painful story. (All right, all right, a few giggles is acceptable).

She left it on the roof of the car and drove away. It was that simple, and it was all over in a flash, though she was able to retrieve it when she realized a few moments into her drive what had happened. I swear, she is so attached to that thing, I’m shocked it even took moments for her to miss it.

In the hours that followed, she was reminded what it was like to not have a cell phone to check email, which was bad enough, let alone make any phone calls she needed to make for work. It was far from ideal, and the outlook appeared grim.

The tide changed as it tends to do when dad got home from that place called work, and discussion happened on what to do next. Dad got so worked up about everything, he called the phone company and pleaded with them to help us. Begged is perhaps the better word.

Not only did they offer to help, but when my beloved people got to the store, even more good things happened. I don’t understand everything personally, other than that they came home twice as happy as when they left.

Sometimes that happens. Sometimes a day that can’t get any worse does. But then it gets better. It always gets better. And I can’t help but notice it is usually thanks to a person or people who step aside to make their part of the world a happier place. Today I celebrate those people. Today I say thank you to anyone who has ever made someone’s pretty terrible situation into a better one. You are making the world go round.