Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Whatever It Takes February 8, 2014

It only costs a dollar. But it is capable of miracles.

The winter blues have claws deeply embedded in the hearts and minds of many in my neck of the woods these days. If it’s not frigidly cold, it’s snowing. If it’s not snowing, it’s frigidly cold. And I am in good company of many Wisconsinites who still find joy in the snow diamonds falling from the sky. But even I can admit it’s been an especially tough winter. I love my backyard paradise, but it is taking a great deal to get me out there recently.Nap time

So I find my joy in other things. Snuggle time with Carter. Quiet time in another room when Carter is screaming. And (this is new) time alone with dad. Mom has been spending the majority of her time taking care of Carter (as it should be), which has freed dad up for some quality time with me.

Tonight our quality time involved cooking a special dinner for mom. Since I’ve won more of his affection lately he’s been especially generous with treats of all kinds, so I was incredibly attentive as he bustled around the kitchen. (They don’t call me the doggie vacuum for nothing). He was making a comfort food staple – macaroni and cheese. And not the gourmet kind with the roux and six different varieties of cheese (which he does also know how to make). The kind you can get for a dollar. Complete with the orange powder.

Generally I’m not that big a fan of the less is more idea. Us canines tend to indulge in whatever comes our way. But tonight less worked wonders on the winter blues. Joy. From the ground up, it happened in the Schmidt house today in spite of those nasty winter blues. And it didn’t take much.

“Your success and happiness lies in you,” Helen Keller suggested. “Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.”

That’s the thing about joy – sometimes it takes a little effort to find it amidst the blues. But once you do it almost always is worth the search. Especially when it only costs a dollar.

 

Joy: A Daily Dose December 5, 2013

Peanut butter, salami, bacon, ice cream and yogurt. I’m pretty sure these things would all be in the bag I would pack if I every was to head off to a deserted island (along with my forever people and Mrs. Prickles obviously). So it makes sense to me why people have employed these guilty pleasures to entice dogs into taking medicine. A spoonful of peanut butter definitely makes the medicine go down.Ready for my vitamin

I love these foods as much as the next canine, but I’ve never needed any such bait attached to my pills. If it hits the floor I’ll eat it. I’ve learned in life not to be choosy with such things. Instead, I eagerly look forward to my doggie vitamin each day. Every night before bedtime is when mom usually gives me my vitamin treat, which is apparently supposed to help me have stronger bones. I don’t know if it does any good (I certainly don’t feel any different), but smells fabulously stinky and tastes like chalky meat. I certainly don’t need it to be smothered with peanut butter to know what’s good for me.

Neither does joy, I realized tonight. It doesn’t need to be salami coated. It doesn’t have to come in pretty packages with bows. It doesn’t have to cost a dime. It’s completely and 100% free. It’s just up to you to take it, to find it in each day, just as you would with a multivitamin. And (just like with the vitamin) you might not even know if it’s working at first. But it is.

If you don’t believe me, perhaps you will believe the words of Helen Keller, whose blindness never kept her from finding her daily dose of joy. “We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world,” she said. “Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.”

Not every day will be filled with joy. We will struggle. We will meet challenges. We will experience loss that affects us to our core. But on these days even the smallest dose of joy can make all the difference. Even if it’s not obvious (or better yet, covered in bacon), it feeds our soul in a way no multivitamin can.

 

But Now I See November 9, 2013

It doesn’t happen often. But when it does I’m in trouble. Big trouble.

Today it happened for the purest of reasons. Mom opened the front door to greet my aunt Morgan and I ran. To greet her, not to run away. But it makes all of the people in my life so nervous when I get outside without my leash. I forget this when I get excited. I wish there was a way for me to tell them there’s no way I could do it. I’m not going anywhere, at least not on purpose. Everything along my path in life has led me here, to my forever home. I would never leave it behind. Another Purpose-Filled Day at the Office

So I don’t know how Elroy did it. From puppyhood until a few months ago, he lived with a friend of my mom’s named Melissa. She took care of him, trained him and (most importantly) she loved him. A lot. And she still does. But Elroy doesn’t live with her anymore.

Now he lives with a new person named Catalina. He was paired with her through the Leader Dogs for the Blind program, which provides guide dogs to people who are blind and visually impaired to enhance their mobility, independence and quality of life. Melissa (and her husband Daniel) were puppy raiser volunteers as part of this program. It was among the best – and hardest – things they’ve ever done.

I know Melissa and Daniel miss Elroy. And he misses them. But he has a new purpose now: to bring joy from the ground up to the life of Catalina. To be her eyes. And to nurture her heart. She was blind, but now she sees. Elroy is an inspiration.

Because I certainly couldn’t do it. Everything in my past has led me to this point, to my forever home, with my forever people. They are my purpose in life. Purpose is one of those powerful things that brings focus to even the cloudiest of situations.

“True happiness…is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose,” suggested American heroine Helen Keller. Melissa and Daniel did a truly selfless thing in raising Elroy. But they had purpose. As does Elroy. As do I. Before I met my people, I was blind. But now I see.

This post is dedicated to the wonderful program that is Leader Dogs for the Blind.

Photo courtesy of Leader Dogs for the Blind

Photo courtesy of Leader Dogs for the Blind

All of my best to Elroy, Melissa and Daniel, and Catalina.

 

Don’t Let Me Go October 7, 2013

Life. No one ever said it would be easy. Quite the opposite in fact. Life is tough. Anyone who tells you otherwise hasn’t really lived. And big or small, it doesn’t matter. Some troubles can seem insurmountable regardless of their size.

The LightI remember one of mine like it was yesterday. It was the day my first adoptive parents took me back to the Oshkosh Humane Society. I was showered with love from all the shelter workers (especially Katie, my friend who always had a few extra treats in her pocket with my name on them). Even a few of the other dogs were clearly happy to see me. But I wouldn’t have it. I was at the lowest of the low with no optimistic neighbor pal like Rusty to dig me out of the darkness this time.

In these moments of darkness, the light can seem so far away. But in reality it’s not. Oftentimes it is just beyond our reach. We just need someone to reach out and pull us that last couple of steps. We need help. Because whatever the struggle may be, it has us in such a haze of negativity we just can’t see how close we are to relief. To safety. To life.

Sometimes the realization of this happens instantly. I wasn’t so lucky. Mine happened over time, with help from Katie and her treats. And her love. And her encouragement. “They will find you, Wiley,” she would say during our daily play time. “Your forever people are coming for you. I just know it.”

And they did. The found me and I felt whole again. I knew everything would be all right. But I don’t know what I would have done without Katie and her kind words every day.

It can be painful to remember the tough times, but they are part of who we are. And now that mine are behind me, I can appreciate their meaning in my life. I can appreciate the characters who kept shining the light at me, like Rusty and Katie. And I know the importance of not just looking back where I came from, but reaching back and bringing someone with me. Because as American author Helen Keller said “walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.”

Life. No one ever said it would be easy. I don’t know how long I was in the darkness before I found the light again. I guess it was only a couple of weeks, but (take it from me) that can feel like a lifetime when your heart is in a dark place. I renewed my vow the day of my adoption never to go back to that dark place. To instead find joy from the ground up in all people, places and things. And (perhaps most importantly) to be that person for someone.

Today’s post was written in response to the daily prompt:

Tell us about a time when everything seemed to be going wrong — and then, suddenly, you knew it would be alright.

I’m a believer in the growth that can come from recognizing these moments in our lives. Please share yours with me.

 

Grass is Grass January 11, 2013

It bothers me when people talk about the grass being greener on the other side of the fence.

First of all, I don’t like fences. They are the ultimate metaphor for limitations. And while I have an appreciation for understanding one’s limitations, I don’t appreciate having a constant reminder taunting me about it.

Also, the way I see color completely negates the concept of the phrase. I see a spectrum of colors consisting mostly of yellows, blues and violets. Reds, greens and oranges are not distinguishable to me.

Regardless of my logical refutes to the phrase, I can admit there are metaphorical implications to consider. For people, fences are less of a limitation. (Especially those four-foot chained link ones that I have been known to clear in my more mischievous past.) And the grass may very well be greener on the other side. But just because something is perceived as a limitation doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be surpassed if it’s for the better good.

As with anything, it’s all a matter of perspective. I’ve said before that I’m an optimist. As a result, I’ve decided to find good in things on my side of the fence by watering the grass with my optimism. One of my favorite inspirational people Hellen Keller had a lot to say on this. Among many references she made to one’s optimistic option as an outlook on things made an appearance in today’s reading with Simple Abundance, which encourages positive thinking.

“No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit,” she said.

So I say no to the fence. And no to the grass being greener on the other side. Grass is grass, and its pretty darned great no matter what color it is.

Grass is grass