Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Don’t Say Anything At All January 25, 2015

You are as young as you feel. It’s a thought I’ve frequently embraced with my whole heart, often appreciating the idea of keeping all things silly a part of life for as long as possible. It keeps you young, in my opinion, to be able to laugh with others, or even at yourself sometimes.

But this is crossing the line. There’s being in touch with your inner child and there’s this. Being a child for no good reason at all isn’t funny. It isn’t necessary. And it certainly doesn’t keep you young. It’s despicable really, but that doesn’t change that it happens. Being a grown up

It happened yesterday to a family friend of ours. He’s a dad above all else, and he was so incredibly proud of his baby girl (who he fondly still calls Ladybug even though she’s eight people years old these days) taking the stage in a play the last couple of weekends. Last night was the last show, and he couldn’t wait to cheer his little Ladybug on.

His ex-wife offered to buy tickets for everyone going, which (much to his surprise) included her new boyfriend and her dad and his new girlfriend. Our friend was the odd man out. Literally. His ex-wife didn’t even buy him a ticket with the rest of the group. Instead, he sat by himself in a sea of strangers. And he wasn’t invited to the big dinner celebration following the show either.

But the disappointment that filled his heart didn’t keep him from doing what he does best when he finally saw his Ladybug after the show and after the dinner he wasn’t invited to. In spite of the childish behavior that set the stage for the evening, he was a dad to his little girl. He told her he was proud of her and read her bedtime stories before putting her to bed all-too-soon after she arrived at his house.

Unlike his ex-wife, he put his feelings aside to make the most of it for his little girl. Regardless of the circumstances, I think that’s what I’m coming to understand parenthood is all about. And it’s a beautiful thing, being a grown up. Being a parent.

So I guess there are some exceptions to the rule about being as young as you feel. Some really are as young as they feel because they choose to embrace the silliness of their inner child. Others are just children stuck inside the bodies of adults. I don’t know what caused the childish behavior yesterday. But I do know that being the bigger person doesn’t make you any less young at heart. And, for what it’s worth, I’m proud of my friend for doing the right thing. For being the bigger person. For being a dad.

 

 

Sky Full of Stars July 23, 2014

When we’re little, we can’t wait for it. It’s like something we have our own internal countdown for, just waiting until that special day arrives. Then it does and we wish it hadn’t. Birthdays. From the ground up, I’ve come to wonder about them, mostly because I’ve always thought I would know when that day came. That day, when I knew beyond a doubt that I was completely and utterly grown up. That day, when I felt on my game. That day, when I felt wise.

Well I don’t know about you, but I haven’t yet recognized such a day. At the tender age of six people years old (which is equivalent to about 42 doggie years old), I say with complete honesty that I can’t say I’ve ever actually felt like a grown up. Not in the traditional sense of the term anyway. But today, as I paused to watch my forever family for a bit, I realized maybe it isn’t about that.Think with the Heart

I sat by, as I always do, while mom and dad had dinner together. More recently, dear baby Carter has joined them for dinner as he eats various concoctions of what my people call “solids,” which (at least in my opinion) greatly resemble soups of various homemade flavors. His options thus far include mango, sweet potato, broccoli, avocado and (as of tonight) banana. And it’s all very exciting both for him, as well as my beloved forever mom and dad.

Today as I watched what is my reality unfold I realized I am, in fact, living my dream. I can’t say I knew what it would look like when I was a puppy. I know I was like anyone else, looking forward to being a grown up more than anything else. I couldn’t wait for the outside world to see me differently. To see me as a grown up.

Today I realized none of that really matters as much as remembering your inner child. Sure, it’s fun to think about what it might be like one day when you’re all grown up. That one day when you have everything figured out. That one day when you feel wise. But I realized today being grown up has absolutely nothing to do with that one day. It has everything to do with the days that follow. It has everything to do with how you move forward, how you make a difference. How you live.

So today I recommit my life to one of wisdom. I recommit myself to seeing a sky full of stars whenever it’s in front of me. I recommit myself to live. From the ground up, that’s about as simple as it gets.

 

 

In Good Company June 16, 2014

It sounds incredibly exciting. But also a little terrifying. Today my people packed up dear baby Carter early this morning and did not return until late this evening. All to spend time with four girlfriends mom hasn’t seen in almost three years. And their families. That meant that in addition to the adults in the group, there were six babies three and under. That is a whole lot of babies, all on their own version of the eat, wake, sleep schedule. Six babies crying, laughing, giggling, and putting things in their mouths. Six babies crawling, running, sitting and standing. Life. From the ground up, that is what filled that three-bedroom condo at a resort in a town called Wisconsin Dells. Getting sleepy...

But also there were the four girls who started it all. Since their time together causing all sorts of mischief in college, they’ve gotten married and spread out all over the Midwestern United States. And now they are all moms. I wish I could have seen it. (Then I remember all the potential hair pulling involved with that particular age group of little people and I can’t help but feel pretty grateful I stayed home and got a few visits from aunt Morgan and her pup Joey). So instead I relived it through the stories mom and dad recalled as they relived the days events when they got home. There were two things I picked up from this conversation.

Each of these friends have their own unique way of things that makes them fabulous mothers. It just goes to show how wrong those books can be because (at least from what I can tell) there is no rule book on how to be a good parent. Sure, there is a whole section at libraries and book stores on all things babies, parenting, and child rearing. But I hold the belief that these little people have a way of writing their own rule books. And their mommas have a way of translating them. It’s a truly awe inspiringly beautiful thing.

The best part is how four girls who have become such uniquely different characters as women still make time for each other. They may only get together once a year, but they talk via email and on the phone whenever they can. They are busy (re: the aforementioned six children) ladies with a lot of different things in the air. But they make time for each other. It’s a priority.

“Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing,” suggested American writer Octavia Butler. That is what today was for my mom and her friends. It was exciting and a little bit terrifying. But that’s friendship. That’s life. From the ground up, today was a celebration of these most simple of truths.

Six little stinkers

 

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?

 

Forever Young March 6, 2013

We’ve all heard (and perhaps experienced) the reality of not knowing what we have until it’s gone. Well, that pretty much sums up my first day without my mom and brothers. I thought I was doing pretty well for myself on my own. I had found a cardboard box that seemed cozy outside a restaurant that smelled like the delicious steak my mom and brothers had once shared. Moreover, I was on my own without needing to compete with my brothers for attention, food, or decisions on what to explore that day. Life was good…for about five minutes.

That is about how long it took for me to realize how lonely I was without my family. It was only about another minute that I realized how sparse the garbage at the restaurant was. Then it started raining right through my cardboard box. At least with my family around, I had love and warmth, which fed the soul more than I realized.

And so began the litany of questions that came along with being a premature adult. “Adult life is dealing with an enormous amount of questions that don’t have answers,” American musician Bruce Springsteen once said. He nailed it on the head with that one. Where had my mom and brothers gone and why was I not with them now? Will I ever see them again?

Questions don’t always have answers in adulthood. I didn’t ever see them again, but I’ve resolved to no longer be sad about that. I would have given anything in that moment to be wrestling with my brothers or getting scolded by my mom. Instead, I was on my own. A grown up. What that day taught me was that grown up is better as a state of mind than it is in practicality.Young at Heart

It breaks my heart to see the little people in my life trying to be “grown up” so soon. I wish I could tell them somehow that it’s actually not that great. I find some odd irony in the truth that (in my opinion) the best thing about being an adult is learning to be better with each passing day. I’ve said before that nothing is worthless if a lesson is learned and I truly believe that. “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether twenty or eighty,” said the founder of Ford Motor Company Henry Ford. “Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep you mind young.”

I feel the most grown up when I realize how much I have yet to learn. If grown up is a state of mind that I’m forever young. At the dog age of four, most dog-to-people age calculations put me at about 30 years old in people years. Regardless of how it’s calculated, my time on this Earth has taught me to seek answers in what we have now. Before it’s gone.