Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

At Face Value November 13, 2014

It’s a long way away, but I have decided what I would like to dress up as for Halloween next year. It’s something honorable, something I wish I could be in real life sometimes. Plus, it involves black and white stripes, which is a bonus for me (as long as it doesn’t involve jail). For Halloween next year I would like to be a referee.

I say this because it would bring to light something I’ve often felt about the beloved people in my life. I spend a lot of time observing what happens around me, so over the course of my life I have come to know a few distinct truths about human interaction.

It’s messy. And complicated. And sometimes I think it would do better if there was someone to step in, intervene, and bring focus back to a conversation that veered so far off track that occasionally people can’t even remember why they started fighting in the first place. If I was a referee, I would do just that. I would remind people that whatever they are disagreeing about must not be as big a deal as it’s being construed as or they wouldn’t have all but forgotten it. I would remind to take words at face value rather than blowing things unnecessarily out of proportion. I would remind them they love each other.Alone with My Thoughts

Because it is indeed messy and complicated. But it’s also beautiful. I just wish it looked more like doggie communication sometimes. We love with our whole selves, no questions asked. Our world literally revolves around our people. They are number one, and we take everything they do at face value just as we deliver our love in its purest form.

But alas, I cannot speak. I can’t call a foul or push pause when I see a conversation go off track. At least not until I’m wearing my referee costume next Halloween. That’s when the magic is going to happen.

 

Moments Like These October 31, 2014

As goblins and ghouls take to the record-settingly chilly streets of my beloved neighborhood for trick or treat tonight, I pause and remember a truth of mine I don’t think I’ve ever shared before. I used to be afraid of the dark. I know it’s an unusual thing for a dog, and I’ve spent the greater part of my canine adult life trying to figure out why.Trick or treat

It isn’t like there is a traumatic event or something involving darkness in my past. Nor is there anything in particular I can recall that aided in my recovery from the admittedly silly aversion I once had. Or so I thought. I found myself pondering this as darkness fell today (it falls earlier and earlier this time of year) and I realized I can indeed trace back the day of my new-found fearlessness.

It was the day after I lost Rusty, my pal from the humane society who was the only reason I survived my first night there. He went down a hallway and never came back that day, but his words stayed with me long after I last saw his wagging tail. He encouraged me to find the light. To see the bright side in even the darkest of situations. And that day, I made the decision to do just that.

My persuasion toward light has never faltered, but somehow my choice that day has led me to find the light in the darkness that dissolves my former fears on an almost daily basis.

Like tonight, as I knew craziness was happening in the darkness on the streets of my neighborhood, something special was happening inside the walls of my forever home. The bedtime routine hasn’t changed much, but dad has gotten more involved with it in the last couple of months. That was the case as usual again tonight, as he held Carter and mom said his bedtime prayers. Carter put his little head on dad’s shoulder and left it there as he drifted peacefully into dreamland almost instantly upon mom’s recital of the prayer. I stood by, as I always do, playing my (albeit silent) role in the whole routine.

I realized in that moment it doesn’t matter how dark it is in the room when this all unfolds. The love illuminates all of our hearts so brightly there is no reason to so much as question the darkness. As we all sneaked silently out of the room, I felt overwhelmed with the warmth of the loving glow in the room. Sometimes I’m in awe of how a decision I made so long ago can have such a profound impact in moments like these.

 

 

You’re So Vain October 12, 2014

It’s not my fault. Not technically, anyway. Something happened today that some might conceive to be a little (all right, a lot) vain on my part. But I promise you, it wasn’t me.

Around this time a year ago, I posted my proclamation on all things Halloween. I said we should instead of seeking to disguise or costume ourselves, we ought to embrace the things that make us unique. To stand proud, with our heads held high and our hearts 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.May The Force

This year, all I can hear in my head right now is the Carly Simon classic “You’re So Vain.” Because yes, I think this song is about me. Today, I became someone who is not myself. Apparently there is some sort of contest in our area where I could win a prize for doggy-style dress up for Halloween.

So today, I became Yoda from “Star Wars.” Well, not really, but I sure looked a lot like him, thanks to the costume mom got me. After my initial embarrassment (and discomfort) wore off, I realized there are a lot worse characters to dress up as than a strong, powerful and wise one who is respected by many all over the world.

And, knowing him, he would advise me that what happened today doesn’t make me any less who I am. He would also tell me to “do or do not. There is no try.”

So, I ask you to forgive me (even though it’s not my fault). I abhor you to humor me, even though it might be conceived a little (all right, a lot) vain. Voting starts this week for this contest mom is entering me in, and I need your help. Please take a moment (or two) to vote for me, and spread the word to others to do the same!

I know it’s silly, but it’s another of my attempts to share joy, from the ground up with whomever will take it. Happy Howlaween, everyone!

To vote: http://99.1themix.upickem.net/engine/Welcome.aspx?contestid=149089

 

 

A Moment of Magic October 31, 2013

I don’t believe in magic. Not in the traditional sense at least. The whole now you see me, now you don’t idea? What fun is that anyway? But I will never forget the day I discovered a different kind of magic.

To the rest of the world it was Halloween. To me, it was Jo’s eighth birthday. That’s all that mattered. I had been living with her and the man with the leather belt for a few months, and had seen my fair share of things I still wish I hadn’t. But this was a day to remember for all the right reasons.My Kind of Magic

This was the one time I ever witnessed Jo and the man with the leather belt happy at the same time. I was surprised he remembered the day at all, since he was usually pretty forgetful about basic things like having anything besides frozen pizza and beer in the fridge. But alas, he surprised us both. After dinner (he actually cooked something), he got out a pink cupcake with a single candle on it and sang happy birthday to her. I sat by her side, proud and humbled to share in such a special moment. Then he gave her a present. It wasn’t wrapped (it was still in the Toys ‘R Us bag) but that was beside the point.

It was magic. Literally. He gave her a 100-peice magic set. “I had one when I was about your age, so I thought maybe you’d like it,” he told her. She loved it. They spent the next few hours experimenting and doing something I’d never seen them to before. They laughed together.

That was the real magic. Magic is in moments like these. Moments brought to life by a power within us to believe. “Magic flows through us,” Sarah Ban Breathnach writes in Simple Abundance, “mystery infuses every encounter of every day…You have no idea of the countless lives you touch in the course of a lifetime.”

My life was touched that day by something special. I may not believe in the hocus pocus kind of magic, but that day I became a believer in a whole other kind of magic entirely. I became a believer that the power is within us to live this magic in our daily lives. To find and embrace moments of pure joy is a magic all its own.

 

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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The F Word October 10, 2013

Brisk walks around the tree-lined streets of the neighborhood. Snuggling on mom’s lap while she and dad sip pumpkin spice lattes by the bonfire in the backyard. Snagging the occasional apple slice that makes its way onto the kitchen floor while mom bakes one of her apple pies on a lazy Sunday afternoon. These are the fall moments to embrace. Haunted houses, spooky corn mazes and scary movies filled with blood, guts and gore? Not so much.

I can’t personally understand why anyone would ever purposely subject themselves to any of these fear-inducing fall traditions. But then again, I have my reasons. As one who has lived on the receiving side of abuse (both physical and verbal), I am here to testify fear is truly its own four-letter word.

And that’s coming from a four-legged mind that generally doesn’t process swear words. Dogs don’t swear. Sure, we have our own unique ways to demonstrate choice words. But that’s one of the perks of silence – we never really have the opportunity to say something we will later regret.Forgiveness

It doesn’t happen often in my forever home, but it used to happen a lot in my life before my forever people rescued me. People swearing, saying hurtful things they didn’t mean, and ultimately filling their lives with nothing but regret. Well, I guess I’m not sure about the regret part. That’s not for me to judge.

What I do know is the fears I have each have a reason, mostly relating to the man with the leather belt. He swore a lot. Usually after he’d been drinking. And he is the reason I grew to fear leather belts, power tools and vacuum cleaners.

I remember the way his breath smelled on my face the time he thought he would vacuum me because he hated all my shedding. I can picture the glazed look in his eyes when he thought he’d cut my nails with his cordless drill. And the belt. That was the worst of it. The belt wasn’t usually meant for me, at least until I intervened when he would use it on my dearest little Jo (my little person at the time).

But there is this thing about fear. It has a way of controlling us if we let it. And it’s a huge roadblock to the one combination of things that can cure regret: forgive and forget. I have long since forgiven the man, but I can honestly say I will never forget the fear. It’s a part of me I can’t truly shut off, even with my forever people. I have absolutely no reason to believe my dad would ever use his belt on me yet I still cower at the sight of it. The same goes for the vacuum and the drill.

So I don’t know why people purposely subject themselves to fearful things this time of year. It’s one of those people things I have accepted I may never understand. Instead I focus my emotional energy on the words of Martin Luther King Jr. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that,” he said. “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

 

A (Sun)day In The Life October 6, 2013

There is simply no excuse for me. I have no good reason for not attending the Out of the Darkness Paws for Prevention walk as promised today. Granted, it would have been tough to do without my driver (aka mom) deciding to go. Which she didn’t.

Instead I was incredibly lazy. Let’s be honest – my days are generally fairly laid back. But today I felt particularly lazy as my people hustled and bustled all over the house. The windows were open to let the beautiful fall air in and dad worked on something stinky in the baby’s room. That paint stuff is for the dogs. I don’t like it.

So I stayed close to mom in the kitchen. Boy, she was busy in there today. First, it smelled spicy with what I heard her call chili. Then the meaty goodness mixed with a sweetness she called apple pumpkin soup. (There was bacon involved with this because I scored a few nibbles when dad wasn’t looking). Finally, jambalaya joined the mix. It was definitely better than the paint smell, but I was basically hungry all day long thanks to the delicious odors wafting through the air.

Outside was busy too. The hum of leaf blowers was prominent throughout the day as this is the price my people and their neighbors pay for the beautiful trees that line the street. And then I got a visit from two little boys from down the street. I tried to hug them, but I don’t think they cared too much for that. They were focused on collecting orders for Christmas wreaths. In early October.

Here I was appreciating the fabulousness of all things fall and apparently we are fast-tracking to Christmas already. I didn’t expect mom to buy one because the season is so far away. But she has been in the habit of surprising me lately, and today she did not disappoint.

So we are all set for Christmas now, at least as it pertains to the wreath for the front door. And at first I felt kind of irritated about it. What about Halloween? And Thanksgiving (which might just be my favorite people holiday)? Then I remembered that thing I like to find in all situations. The silver lining.

December may seem far away. But it’s not. Which means all of the joy of the holidays is not far away. While I am a believer in living in the joy of the season year-round, Christmas is a time when joy abounds all around me. It’s one thing to believe something on the inside. It’s another thing to be completely enveloped with it on the outside.

I didn’t have to go to the Paws for Prevention walk today to know that. To know the importance of sharing my joy from the ground up with whomever will take it. I do feel badly about breaking my promise to attend the important event. But I know I was where I was supposed to be today. Soaking it all in. Life. From the ground up. It looks pretty good to me.

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