Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Things That Happen at Dusk July 16, 2014

I’ve gotten pretty used to the nighttime routine around here. Dinner, play, nap, play eat, sleep. Things have progressed slightly from where they were a few months ago, for which I am appreciative. Mom, dad and dear baby Carter spend a little more family time together than they used to thanks mostly to the six-month landmark that is solid foods.

Nonetheless, something happened today that departed from routine. And I’m not going to lie. I loved it. Moments after Carter went to bed, mom spontaneously decided she was going to take me for a quick walk around the neighborhood. This might not sound like much to the average canine, but to me it meant the world.

I can’t remember the last time I was out and about sans baby and carefree. While I realize this sounds like a complaint, I truly and sincerely digress. It’s not about that. It’s about things that happen at dusk and my love and appreciation for them.

Be it a random walk around the neighborhood, observing Carter’s bedtime routine, or watching the moving picture window known by people as the TV, it doesn’t really matter. I see stars in all of these things because these things spark happiness in the people around me.

Today, my stars multiplied because I felt like I was out living large with a chapter of my past. In what some might call the “good ole days,” mom and I adventured through the neighborhood (and sometimes even the dog park) on a daily basis. Obviously it has been some time since that has been the norm, but that doesn’t remove the importance of a thing like tonight from my heart.

If nothing else, it increases it. Because I’ve gotten quite used to the nighttime routine around here. It has departed (a bit) from the temporary eat, sleep, poop routine that was the norm a few months ago. And while that change has been welcomed, something else is welcomed along with it. While still increasingly important, routine needs to be broken every now and then. And when such a thing involves a journey to the past to which I felt like paying tribute, all is well in my little doggie world. So I say long live tradition and all it means for change.

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Chasing Treasure October 24, 2013

Saving the best for last is not a concept that resonates with me. If treats get mixed into my regular dog food, I eat them up first. If I have a rawhide to chew on, I don’t devour it. And if there is love to be had, well, that one speaks for itself.

It has come to my attention this is not necessarily the norm amongst my four-legged brothers and sisters. I realized this when I overheard my mom talking to her friend Huntie about her greyhound named Elby (otherwise known as the perpetual pen stealer). It is not uncommon for pens to disappear into something of a black hole in Huntie’s house thanks to the crafty skills of Elby. I’ve heard of dogs burying rawhides away for later, so I thought maybe that’s what Elby is up to with the pens.Treasure Hunting

And the more I thought about it, I think he might be on to something. This is not to sy I’m going to start stealing away all of the pens in my forever home. But it’s not about the pens. It’s about what they represent. For Huntie, pens are instruments of joy she uses to piece together her writing. To Elby, pens are a source of joy from the ground up.

It all makes sense now. We all need some joy stored away somewhere for those rainy days when the clouds keep us from finding the sun. Be it pens, or rawhides, or anything else that one associates with joy and happiness. And it might not always make sense at the time, but it is ultimately an investment in future happiness.

This must be why mom keeps what she calls her adventure money stashed away in her jewelry box. I catch her counting it from time to time, and can see her dreaming of what’s to come, but back in the box it goes. It can’t be easy. Just like I know I would struggle trying to save my treats, savor my rawhide or (gasp) not burst with love 24/7.

But “the true treasure lies within,” suggests Indian author and spiritual leader Radhanath Swami. It’s like treasure hunting for the soul and those little items we’ve stored away are our treasure map. Joy is both around us and within us. Sometimes we just need a little help finding it.

 

A Shower of Gold October 9, 2013

Sometimes I want it. Badly. Other times I’m overcome with relief that I never really have to worry about it. This thing called money offers me a variety of emotional responses. Lately I’ve been struggling with the realization that while I am blessed not to have to worry about it, it doesn’t go unnoticed. Instead my people worry about it. A lot.

Money, money money. It used to come up occasionally, but the frequency has increased lately as preparations continue for my new little person. And its never really a happy conversation. Not that there is arguing or fighting, but us canines have a sense for things like stress and tension.Its just money

It happened again today. I overheard them talking about it and I was overcome with longing. I wanted money. I wanted to buy them all the nice things for the little person they keep talking about like a travel system (whatever that is) and a mobile for the crib. I wanted to give them everything they think they want.

But that’s just it. Wants are not always needs. And needs are not always wants. It sure would be nice if I somehow had all kinds of money to spend on these things. But that’s all they are – things. Just things. Things don’t create happiness, no matter how necessary they seem. Moments of real joy begin in the heart, not the mind.

I was reminded of this tonight as mom and I took a quick walk around the neighborhood right as the sun was setting. It made for a beautiful scene, with the sun shining through the trees as the leaves fell peacefully along our path. And I realized in those precious moments there is this thing about beauty – its completely free. And (even better) it often buys happiness. And joy. And gratitude.

“Here we are sitting in a shower of gold,” observed Australian writer Christia Stead, “with nothing to hold up but a pitchfork.”

It seems I’ve gotten it all wrong. I don’t want money. I want my people’s worry to go away. I want them to see the beauty in all things like I do and feel the sense of emotional richness that brings. I want them to be happy. These wants are really needs in my book. So today I renew my vow to do my small part to highlight these things in our lives, starting with my people. Because I know my heart contains within it its very own shower of gold.

 

The Holiest of Holidays June 20, 2013

We all have them. Special moments in time that are only ours, cherished deep in our hearts never to be forgotten. I was enjoying the warmth of the sun in the backyard today and one of these secret anniversaries of the heart sneaked up on me.

I remembered a day at the Oshkosh Humane Society a couple days before my parents brought me home. It was hot and muggy (like it was today) and Katie was playing with me outside. She was (by far) my favorite angel helper during my time at the shelter, because she embodied servant leadership. She made me realize the important impact someone we meet in passing can have our our lives. She did little things for me to make my time there feel more homey, like bringing me extra treats and buying me a special toy. The thing is, those little things may have been little to her but they were never little to me.

Neither was our moment together that day. We were playing catch with the Mr. Prickles she’d given me in the play area outside. She laughed and I smiled and I couldn’t tell whose happiness came first. I couldn’t tell where my joy ended and hers began. That remains one of the most memorable moments of joy in my life.

I’ve never shared that moment with anyone and today I found myself wondering why. It is these special moments, these secret anniversaries of the heart, that make up our own personal unique definitions of joy, so why on Earth would we keep them all to ourselves?

Like Sarah Ban Breathnach speaks of in Simple Abundance, it took a secret anniversary of the heart to remind me that there is always time to remember these special moments in time we cherish deep in our hearts. “But there is never time enough to commemorate what we cherish unless we pause to observe, when they occur, the holiest of holidays.”

My holiest holidays usually involve moments that might seem random to the outside eye. Like the special moment I had with my mom six months ago today. Instead of the humid mugginess, we were surrounded in the most beautiful diamonds of snow glistening as they fell down from heaven. From start to finish, everything about that moment was perfect. Again I don’t think she could possibly have known how blessed I felt to watch her run around like a ninny with me outside that day. I knew she was cold because she was so excited to get outside in the snow that she didn’t put on a sensible coat. But we played and she laughed and I couldn’t tell whether my tail wagging or her laughter came first. Joy. In a moment, there it is.

It’s no secret. Today I celebrate that day, the joy it created in my heart, and the inspiration it provided to finally put my words out there for the world to read. Today I celebrate six months in a row successfully sharing my unique perspective on things with whomever will take it. Today I celebrate you. Thank you for making my doggie dream a reality.

Playing in the snow

 

Home is Where the Heart Is January 28, 2013

I’ve lived a lot of different places in my relatively short life.

When I was a little pup, my birth mom and my two brothers moved around a lot, finding shelter under garbage cans, in alley ways, and in cardboard boxes (if we were lucky). Times were pretty tough and food was scarce, but one thing brought me comfort like nothing else: cuddling with my mom. I would scrunch myself as small as I could, inhale her motherly smell, and listen for her heartbeat. It was warm, and with each beat of her heart, I could somehow feel her loving me just a little bit more. More than anything, I miss that about her. She was home to me.

Later when I was fending for myself, it brought me the most powerful sense of relief to picture myself back there snuggling myself into serenity. I could be shivering cold in the icy cold rain, and the memory of being in my mom’s arms brought me warmth.

As time went on, her smell became more a distant memory and her image became the slightest bit blurry, but her warmth somehow remained a source of solace in my heart.

People at the humane society (fondly?) referred to me as needy, and perhaps that’s what I am. I never passed up the opportunity to nudge myself into the hands or arms of the workers and especially of visitors who asked to see me outside of my room. I know that’s why I struggled in the first adoptive home with all of those other cats and dogs. There was simply not enough cuddle time to go around in that house.

That has never been a problem in my forever home. My mom and dad (and various people visitors) seem to enjoy my cuddly nature (for the most part).

The other day, it was bedtime in the Schmidt household and (as has become customary), I snuggled myself in between mom and dad on the bed. I closed my eyes, let out a deep grunting sigh and realized something. While my birth mother’s warmth is irreplaceable, I have found not just one but two new hearts to lull me to sleep with their love. And with that, I realized I am truly blessed.

If its true that home is where the heart is, my heart has found its forever home.

Smiles for Cuddles