Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Everything and Nothing January 15, 2015

Sometimes it’s hardly recognizable. Other times its clear as day. Ever since life as I knew it changed, a day in the life of me looks different than it used to. The intricacies of the daily routine are altered in most ways.

I’d come to be quite accustomed to spending weekdays alone in my forever home when my people were at that place called work all day. It fit quite well into my rigorous napping schedule, in fact. I would anxiously look forward to my forever mom coming home from work over her lunch hour so we could explore the neighborhood over her lunch hour. I would enjoy my late-afternoon nap in the bay window so I could more aptly hear the gentle hum of the cars coming home, first dad and then mom. The night together would come and go and it would all start over again.

All of that is a thing of the past, and has been since dear baby Carter came home. I see a lot more of mom than I used to, and when she’s not here, someone else I care about is (usually it’s my grandma or Aunt Morgan). My nap schedule hasn’t really changed, but my exercise has taken on a little different approach. It is a lot less frequent than it used to be (such things happen in sub-zero temperatures especially), but now it involves everyone in the family, usually at night, so that’s okay by me. Dont Worry, Be Happy

Tonight, as Carter made an art out of diving in and out of his ball pit and mom and dad and I played pickle in the middle, I was reminded how much has changed. Not just for me, but for all of us. Almost everything I knew is different now. And yet the important stuff is the same. Somehow everything and nothing has changed in the best kind of way.

“Things to not change; we change,” suggested transcendental thinker Henry David Thoreau.

The love around here is stronger than ever, the joy multiplies on a daily basis, and life is full with all things new. No two days are the same anymore, and while I will admit to liking structure, I’m okay with everything about the nothing that’s changed.

 

 

Be The Change January 2, 2015

Sometimes when you think you’ve mastered something, life has a way of reminding you how much you have to learn. That’s how I feel about this thing called change. As a young pup, it was exciting. It was something I looked forward to and sought out at every turn. That all changed the day I lost my birth mom and brothers. That was when I decided change was not my friend. Looking Happy

I’ve never exactly feared it or disliked it, but it isn’t something I necessarily feel fondly for either. So the fact that 2014 was a year of more change than I’ve ever before encountered might sound like it made for a pretty awful time of it. I’ll admit that it wasn’t always easy, but reflecting on all that change has a way of reminding me of its value. It might be scary at first (like it was for all of us when dear baby Carter first came home from the hospital a year ago today). But as time passes, it fosters understanding and appreciation for where we’ve come from.

What that means for me is a new perspective, not just on change, but on life itself in 2015. Like most things, change is only scary if we let it be. And fear tends to do nothing but bad things to most people. So while I’m against making resolutions I would argue too frequently fall into the category of not fulfilled, I shall again set a goal for myself this year. A goal, not a resolution.

It’s not necessarily something new for me, but it reaffirms a belief that has become the foundation of who I am. It pieces together the best (and worst) parts of the past into a present that bridges the gap to a bright future. Not just for me, but for those around me and those around them if all goes well.

This year I will find more ways to be the change I want to see in the world. I will live the passion I feel in my heart, knowing that the joy I feel can light the way for those around me who might fear the change necessary to make the world a better place. It’s no small goal, I know. But it’s important.

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals,” suggested American philosopher Henry David Thoreau.

I would argue that’s because sometimes when you think you’ve mastered something, life has a way of reminding you how much you have to learn. When I was a pup, I thought by exploring everything at paw’s reach I would know everything. I could do anything and everything. Now I realize how much there is left to learn that only change has a way of teaching.

 

I Said To The Darkness February 21, 2014

It happened in an instant, as these things usually do. I saw the sunlight at the end of a very dark tunnel the other day. Literally. After what has arguably been one of the most challenging Wisconsin winters I’ve survived we were hit with some seriously warm rays of sunshine. It was almost 50 degrees and I half expected my people to break out their swim suits.

SnowInstead mom broke out her running shoes (good choice) and I went on a very memorable walk around my dear neighborhood with my mom, my aunt, and Carter. It was my first walk with Carter and (to be honest) he didn’t seem to really notice we were outside. But I sure did.

The wind was blowing and it was not the bone chilling cold wind of late. It was the wind of spring. Sure, there is still about a solid two feet of snow everywhere. And when the sun went down it took the warmth with it. I didn’t mind because it’s coming. The end is near. Winter is almost over.

So you can imagine my dismay when I overheard on the television today that we are due for more frigid temperatures next week. Albeit disappointing, I have to admit it was a lot easier to take after that one day of respite from the cold. After I saw the light at the end of the tunnel.

Darkness has no power over light, just as negativity has no power over hope. “The light which puts out our eyes is darkness to us,” suggested transcendentalist thinker Henry David Thoreau. “Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.”

It’s a pretty powerful thing to be sure. Seeing that light, even for a brief instant, can recharge the soul in such an overwhelmingly fulfilling way. The moment may have been fleeting, but its impact remains.

To view a video of our walk: https://vine.co/v/MZDBi59lHAi

 

Search and Rescue November 6, 2013

I’ve seen it all before. And the story ends the same every time. But today the moral of that story took me by surprise.

My mom misplaced her glasses this morning. She looked everywhere as I followed her through the house. They weren’t on the nightstand or under the bed (I helped her look). They weren’t in either of the bathrooms. They weren’t in the freezer (stranger things have happened). So she stopped looking. She went about her other business and that’s when it happened. The lost glasses were found on the dresser in the bedroom right where she left them the night before. Right where the belonged.

I see the lightAnd it struck me. She had to stop looking to find what was lost. It got me to thinking about this misconception I think people have about us canines being able to find anything we’ve left someplace. Sure, there are some breeds that are especially gifted at tracking just about anything. But there are others who leave a graveyard of buried bones in the backyard of a home when moving to another. I’m not proud to say I probably fall into the second category myself.

Especially when I think back to one night in particular at the Oshkosh Humane Society. It was the night after Rusty left me to go to doggie heaven. He took his contagious optimism with him, leaving me behind with nothing but my thoughts. So I resolved to change some things that night. I resolved to stop trying so hard to be adopted. I was probably not helping matters by trying to jump into the arms of all of my visitors anyway. So I stopped looking.

I know it sounds terrible coming from your resident doggie optimist but sometimes I think that’s what it takes to find what we’re really looking for. “Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves,” as one of my favorite transcendentalist thinkers Henry David Thoreau put it.

I’ve seen it all before and it always seems to end the same way. It’s quite the paradox really. From little things like mom’s glasses to life-changing things like when my forever people found me, sometimes what we seek is more easily found when we stop looking for it. And so the lost is found.

 

Best Laid Plans July 19, 2013

I don’t care for flies. I don’t like when I can’t catch them buzzing around the walls of my forever home. I don’t like them when I do catch them and they buzz around in my tummy. The way I see it, they are useful in one (and only one) way. Metaphorically speaking, flies on the wall get all the great information before it hits the public presses. Granted, I see this as a gross exaggeration of their microscopic brain capacity, but the theory is sound.

Dog on the WallI would argue instead that dogs are the ultimate flies on the wall. We see and hear things. But more importantly we understand things. We’re man’s best friend, after all. So when it comes to understanding my people, I am your resident dog on the wall. As such, I have come to recognize certain patterns of conversation that lead nowhere fast. And I can say this because I love her more than she will ever know. My mom tends to put far too high a stake in things sometimes.

She looks forward to something, plans it all out in her head, and when it doesn’t work out — if it doesn’t go according to plan — it’s a complete disaster to her. It’s all very confusing to dad, who generally tries to make the best of a sticky situation. Unfortunately for the both of us, best laid plans don’t always come together and there is little we can do to fix it.

It turns out you were right. My mom absolutely missed me as much as I missed her while she was away at that place called the spa earlier this week. She missed me so much she came home the same day she left! Well, that’s not entirely true. Health issues brought her home early, and I was ecstatic (albeit sincerely concerned). But what made my day may as well been a weapon of mass destruction on hers. She clearly felt incredibly ill, but moreover there was simply no cheering her up. I tried all of my tricks. I jumped and licked and wagged and jumped some more. Nothing.

Fortunately I’ve been in the business of being the dog on the wall long enough to know this too shall pass. And it did. But it got me to thinking about the best laid plans that don’t work out. Because let’s face it – things do not always go exactly according to plan. And yes, it sucks. It’s disappointing. But these things happen and it is not the end of the world. “If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment,” suggested one of my favorite transcendentalist thinkers Henry David Thoreau.

I don’t care for flies, but I sure do like their job of being on the wall. There’s lots to be learned from that perspective. I (for one) find my compensation in knowing even the best laid plans can go awry. It’s how we deal with the hurdles, how we find ways to be quiet and ready, that we grow.

 

On Morality and The Good Life June 24, 2013

I did the right thing today. It went against everything my terrier nature told me to do. And it wasn’t easy, which is why I know it was right.

Dad was using that scary loud contraption called a lawnmower in the backyard when it happened. He came across something on the ground that prompted him to turn off the machine and stare. Which prompted me to investigate what he was staring at. Sure enough, the rabbit I’ve been seeing a lot of in our yard lately suddenly appeared from beneath the ground and darted away. I chased her, but she was too fast for me and quickly ran beyond the length of my lead. I’m certain she was hoping to cause a diversion, as dad and I quickly discovered she left behind two little rabbit babies (each no larger than the majority of my chew toys) and they were both in my reach.

In that moment, I was faced with a decision. Do what came naturally to me as a terrier or do the right thing. I knew immediately what I was going to do so (in spite of my dad scolding me and pulling me away) I simply sniffed at the little guys and wished them well. Life's Big Questions

It goes back to my first moments after I was separated from my birth mom and brothers. I know what its like to be in their teeny little rabbit paws in that situation. They were me today, lost and afraid and uncertain of what the future holds for them. I wouldn’t wish that feeling on my worst enemy, let alone two helpless little rabbit babies who may or may not reunite with their mom. To make matters worse, I watched in horror as they each scurried off in their own separate way. I know it should have made me want to chase them, but watching everything unfold the way it did actually just made me sad.

Still I know in my heart that my birth mom would be proud of what I did today, wherever she is. She is the reason I believe no character comes into our life without a good reason, without a message or life lesson. Her brevity in my life made my moments with her that much more valuable, and I can say with honesty that I remember the majority of what she taught me. Some things made sense immediately: dream big, love bigger, never take no for an answer. Others didn’t make sense right away (as these things never do when we’re to young to understand) but these are the things that seem most important now. Love your neighbors as yourself. Strive to be a servant leader. Do the right thing even if it hurts.

“Aim above morality,” American author and philosopher Henry David Thoreau suggested. “Be not simply good, be good for something.”

I did the right thing today. I was good for something. And it was far from easy. But if there is anything experience has taught me its that usually doing the right thing is most important when it hurts. These are the moments when learning comes full circle and we truly understand morality and the good life.

 

My Little Peace Ritual May 16, 2013

I have this nightly ritual I’m certain my forever parents must think of as complete madness. Every night, my ritual starts the same way at about the same time.

Some of the Comfort CrewI grab Mr. Prickles from my toy basket (I’ll never understand the purpose of this basket other than making fun inconvenient) and take him to my favorite place in the house. I’ll suck on him for a while, but not too long. Then I’ll grab Mrs. Prickles. Repeat. Then Mr. Flea. Repeat. Then Mr. Tiger. Repeat. Then Mr. Angry Bird. Repeat. Well, I think you get the idea. If I’m being honest, this routine would probably continue all night if I didn’t run out of toys and sleep wasn’t necessary.

I’ve previously referred to these (albeit stuffed) characters in my life as my Comfort Circle and for good reason. Ever since I was a pup, I have found comfort in nursing on the soft little bodies. Animal behaviorists have linked this behavior in doggie adulthood to early separation from one’s doggie momma and abuse in puppyhood. (I unfortunately experienced both of these things). Also, I’m not sure if all people know this, but us canines store up a lot of our pent up feelings in our jaw muscles. The shoulder tension of humans is the jaw tension of dogs. It physically relieves stress when I rhythmically nurse on the joys (er, I mean toys).

I understand science and psychology have their reasons but I have one more to add to the conversation. There is something pretty great about beingMe and My Gal transported to another place and time in your mind. That’s what these toys do for me, which I’m certain is why I find peace in my nightly ritual.

What transports you to another place and time in your mind? Do you find peace there?

“Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake,” said transcendentalist thinker Henry David Thoreau. “As a single footstep will not make a path on the Earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”

Every night, my ritual ends the same way at about the same time. Before bedtime, dad puts my Comfort Circle collection back in the basket in the living room. And every night I hop off the bed, grab whichever one is closest to the top, and bring that special pal back to bed with me. (It’s usually Mr. or Mrs. Prickles, but I mix it up so the others don’t get jealous). I don’t care if my people think it’s crazy of me to repeat these behaviors night after night. And that’s not just because I know they love me unconditionally. It doesn’t bother me because I know my ritual is my way of making a pathway to peace in my mind that brings a smile to my heart.

And I prefer to sleep smiling.

 

Penny For Your Thoughts April 13, 2013

I can’t explain it. It’s just one of those things I can’t help. I do it without thinking. I could probably even do it in my sleep. It doesn’t matter if it’s a towel, a messy pile of laundry being sorted or a tidy pile of clean laundry being put away. I instinctively (downright compulsively) rub myself all over anything and everything fabric that ends up on the floor. My adoptive parents are at a crossroads about this behavior: mom giggles and dad scowls. I don’t necessarily find joy in their disagreement, but (like I said) it isn’t something I can control.

Penny For Your ThoughtsExcept for today. Today, I overheard one of the most painfully sad conversations that made me pause. If I could speak human I would have audibly gasped. Dad asked mom what she was thinking about and that’s when she said it. “Do you ever regret marrying me?” My heart overpowered my head in that moment. I forgot all about all the clean clothes laying in their neat little piles all over the bed. I couldn’t believe my ears.

“What kind of a question is that?” Dad said.

“Well, do you or don’t you?” Mom said.

“I love you now as much as I did the day we were married,” dad said. “You are beautiful, inside and out.”

“Well said, dad!” I screamed at the top of my little doggie heart. They resumed folding laundry and I resumed my compulsive marking behavior with what I mistook for peace in my heart.

But after all the clothes were put away, I realized it wasn’t peace I felt at all. I can’t help but wonder what prompted mom to ask such a question in the first place. Certainly she doesn’t regret marrying my dad. I know they have experienced some extreme emotional ups and downs in their short five years of marriage, but I can see the purest of love in both of their eyes. And I generally don’t believe in having regrets. Everything happens for a reason, and no experience is without value if something is learned from it.

I’ll never know why mom’s head was in such a dark place today. Instead I will take a page from one of my favorite transcendentalist thinkers Henry David Thoreau and share with the world my opinion of the only way to view regret. “Make the most of your regrets,” Thoreau challenged, “never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.”

I can’t explain it. It’s just one of those things I can’t help. I do it without thinking, just like my behavior with the clothes. Penny for my thoughts? I can’t stop myself from finding the silver lining. I suppose that’s a less embarrassing habit to have then my behavior with the clothes, but I digress.

 

On Solitude: A Spoonful of Peanut Butter March 30, 2013

I am a believer in the theory that sometimes (but not always) less is more. This is why I can say with absolute certainty what I’m about to say. Solitude sucks. I know I have previously commented on silence and my loathing of the communication gap between canines and their people, but solitude is far worse a reality than silence.

While I tend to agree with the majority of what transcendentalist thinker Henry David Thoreau had to say, I have found my exception to the rule.

“I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude,” Thoreau suggested. It is at this point that I take my turn away from the Thoreau way of thought. I would much rather be silent amidst a gaggle of loved ones than at a fabulously orchestrated event all by my lonesome.

I think it is true of most dogs who have an unbreakable bond with their humans – time drags on for us while they’re anywhere but with us. I know a lot of us make the most of our solitude by daydreaming, napping, or enjoying some peanut butter goodness in the Kong toys left for us in our peoples’ absence, but that’s all we’re doing. Making the best of it.

In reality, we are counting every minute until we hear that car come back up the driveway, listening for the door to shut, the garage door to go down and alas! The door opens and we are reunited at last. I think its related to the unconditional love in our not-so-little doggie hearts. Personally, I know it’s related to my understanding and appreciation that my joy feels the most sincere when I share it with someone. Whatever it is, there is nothing like that time when we’re together.

But as I am in the habit of seeing the glass half full, I found myself thinking that maybe I’ve got it all wrong. Solitude offers a unique opportunity to be alone with one’s thoughts, which (to some) is a mighty scary thing. Dark days are real. Seeing the light can seem impossible when we’re at our lowest of the low. And yet that is the most important time to see the light at the end of an otherwise pitch black tunnel. Today I seek the light in solitude, as I know there must be something in which to find solace in even the darkest of places.

Alone with My Thoughts

 

While I hope to never be exiled to a deserted island, I think I’d find a way to make the most of it. (Other than my allowable carry-on items of bacon, peanut butter, rawhide bones, water, my dog food and Mrs. Prickles obviously). Again I find myself attempting to change my perspective on solitude, and (in doing so) I change my perspective on life. “Loneliness is the poverty of self;” As American novelist and poet May Sarton said, “Solitude is the richness of self.”

And (if all else fails) a spoonful of peanut butter makes the medicine of solitude go down in the most delightful way.

 

My Castle in the Air March 25, 2013

I’ve noticed a trend in popular literature lately. While The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Matched series are all brilliantly written, society is writing itself a morbidly bleak portrait for the future I can’t say I enjoy. I would much prefer to dig into the daydreams I have, in spite of the nonsense they might contain. Dreaming of the Castle

I realized today I spend a good deal of my day dreaming. I dream sleeping, but I also daydream in vivid images that bring joy to my heart. Today I dreamed of what my utopia would look like, and I have to admit it looked nothing like the dystopian future societies of District 12, Dauntless and The Society.

In my dream, I saw the sun and felt the warmth as I heard the faintest strumming of a familiar song humming through the breeze. All of my favorite people and canines are there, happy and well. And I finally was in the company of my friends in the blogosphere who I had only once known as Gravatar personalities from around the world. Laughter amongst all of these groups of loved ones echoed through the wind as the song hummed its way closer.

“Somewhere over the rainbow bluebirds fly and the dreams that you dream of, dreams really do come true,” I hear Jason Castro croon. If dreams come true, I am one lucky dog because I dream often and I dream big. I dream in nonsense half the time, and I find humor in that. But imagination is a powerful tool for one’s relationship with his or her authentic self and I don’t intend to let mine go unused.

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost;” my favorite transcendentalist thinker Henry David Thoreau once said, “that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”

My foundation is in my life choice to see the good in all people and things. I dream by living, and I live by dreaming. “It’s not what you look at that matters,” Thoreau said. “It’s what you see.” Forget the futuristic societies of popular literature. In my future, I see brilliant cloudless skies painted with bluebirds and smiling faces.