Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

A Day of You October 16, 2013

I’ve got news for you. There’s never enough time in a day. I know, I know, that is brand new information right?

I’ve seen it happen all too frequently with my forever people. From work to laundry to grocery shopping to house cleaning, the to-do list sometimes outgrows the day. And with the little person on the way I know the list is about to double. Or triple.

Which is why I would like to add a new permanent item to their to-do list. Make time for you today, it would say. I know it probably sounds silly, but I don’t care. It’s important.Lazy Is Not the Enemy

This became crystal clear to me the other day when mom did not go to that place called work. Instead, she stayed home with me and enjoyed a lazy morning before leaving for a while to get something she called a massage. (Apparently its a lot like the pets I get during my love fests with my people). When she came home about two hours later, she was a new person. A sleepy new person, but a new version of herself nonetheless.

And the sleep that has been evading her so frequently lately? It did not evade her that day. She slept more soundly for three straight hours than she has in months. (I would know since I’m her cuddle buddy). It truly was a day of her for her, and it made me happy to see her so relaxed.

“Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time,” American psychiatrist M. Scott Peck observed. “Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.”

Time is a priceless gift, regardless of how we chose to spend it. I know this issue of life balance is not new information to any of us. And it looks different for everyone. But there is one thing we all have in common: sometimes we all need a little day of us. To catch a breath. To read a book. To live. Because there’s always a reason not to take time for yourself. But in the end you deserve to be on your to-do list as much as anything else.


Our Little Guy October 11, 2013

That didn’t last long. Less than ten days ago, I (figuratively) raised a scruffy paw in favor of staying scruffy for a cause. There was only one flaw in my plan. There is no really good way for me to communicate these kinds of choices I make with my forever people. They clearly didn’t get the message.

Before AfterThe good news is I saw my beloved groomer Mary and all my Paws R Us pals this week. The bad news? I’m no longer a participant in Scruffy September. Sure, I went a tiny bit longer without my routine visit to Mary. And I remain committed to the Out of the Darkness cause regardless. But I can no longer call myself scruffy.

At first I was kind of bummed out about it. Then it happened. Dad said it out loud. The news I have been dreading (and mentally denying) for the last eight months or so. You see, dad has been having awful itchy red eyes for some time now at seemingly random times. It’s not exactly constant, but its bothersome frequently enough he finally went to see an eye specialist today. And she confirmed the truth.

Dad, my forever person, is allergic. To me. I listened in horror as dad explained the outcome of his appointment to mom over dinner. The doctor apparently went as far as to inquire whether they-my people-would consider finding me another home. I felt like I’d been kicked. Hard. Right in the heart. My mind raced with questions I couldn’t ask. Silence was not my friend. And time seemed to slow to an absolute crawl.

I can honestly say I’ve never been so happy to hear dad laugh.

“I told her there is no way,” I heard him say as he looked down at me. “He’s our little guy and he always will be, won’t you buddy?”

Relief does not even begin to describe the feeling that washed over me in that moment. Seconds earlier I had been temporarily paralyzed with fear (that I would have to go back the humane society again, would never see my beloved people again, and would never get to meet my new little person). Now it was like I had the life breathed back into me.

They went on with their conversation, strategizing about ways to more effectively control my dander like vacuuming and brushing me more frequently. And I thought to myself “self, it’s not so bad being groomed more frequently if it means you get to stay a part of this family.” And it’s not. I quite enjoy seeing Mary and my pals. I will do anything I can do to help control this pet dander that is apparently contributing to my dad’s painful allergies. Because I love him, and (even though he never will admit it) he loves me. And, as Mahatma Gandhi so aptly observed, “where there is love there is life.”

So what if Scruffy September for a cause didn’t last very long. Because dad’s love for me clearly will. And that means the world to me.


As It Is August 29, 2013

Being RealI know when it’s real. I know when it’s fake. There is something in a person’s spirit that gives it away to a keen canine eye. The smile. Maybe it’s because we canines smile with our tails, but why anyone fakes it I will never understand.

But my lack of understanding of this basic human behavior does not (in itself) make it cease to exist. Quite the opposite in fact. As a regular observer of people, I know this fake smile happens all the time for any number of reasons. A need to impress. A need to console. A need to end a conversation so you can go to the bathroom.

Regardless of the why, I find it most unusual because most receivers of the fake smile know that’s what they’re getting. They’re not stupid. Life has taught me that most people are much less mysterious than they think they are. And the fake smile is no good for the giver or the receiver. It puts the person faking it in a position to act instead of live his or her true feelings. It puts the receiver in a position where they feel like they said the wrong thing, put the person out, or are wasting the person’s time.

I know I don’t speak for everyone when I say this, but that hasn’t held me back before and will not hold me back now. Just be real. I’d rather hear the truth than see a fake smile. Give it to me as it is, as Dido sings in “Let Us Move On,” even if it sucks. Life is messy sometimes. Live it. Chances are you will feel better for living it, and the person will feel better for his or her (albeit incredibly small) part they played in your overall well-being.

Because I’m not the only one who knows when its real or fake. A lot of people do too. The smile. I just don’t understand why anyone would fake it. In my little doggie eyes, it’s a sacred expression of joy that shouldn’t be wasted for reasons we can’t explain. “Honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom,” as American president Thomas Jefferson suggested. And an honest smile starts in the heart. Now if only I could get my paws on a copy of that book.


More or Less August 12, 2013

I don’t think dogs are wired to understand the people concept that less is more. I’m sure I don’t speak for all of us, but I certainly don’t leave spare kibbles in my bowl. Not a single scrap of people food hits the floor that I don’t scoop up. One toy is just never enough. But I suppose this all makes sense because we live with our whole honest selves. We wear our hearts on our proverbial sleeves. And we love with all our hearts.

2013-06-28 21.17.47I was reminded of this today when I heard a familiar phrase on television. “Amateurs built the ark; experts built the Titanic.” I’m not certain of the origin of this philosophical commentary, but I’m drawn to it for obvious reasons. Not only does it challenge us to try something new, to challenge conventional wisdom, but it aligns with another truth I hold dear about judging a book by its cover.

Don’t do it. Easy as that.

It is in contradictions such as these that I find myself pondering things on a more philosophical level. In general more is more to me, yet I believe in extracting joy from the simple things in life. I believe in giving that book with a seemingly boring cover a read simply out of principal. I believe in second chances. These are not declarations of someone who doesn’t understand how less can possibly be more.

Maybe that’s the amateur in me. It’s the same part of me that can’t leave any food and prefers the company of all my entire comfort circle of toys rather than a simple representation. But just because I don’t understand something doesn’t mean I push an idea aside. Quite the opposite, in fact, to the point that I want to learn something from everything. I would much rather build something on faith and understanding than on vanity and luxury anyway.

So perhaps I’ve been going about this whole less is more concept the wrong way. It’s not one way or the highway. When we love with our whole selves, down to our core, whether we have more or less of something doesn’t matter.


When Pigs Fly July 25, 2013

When pigs fly is one of those people phrases I don’t particularly care to support. Less is more? Sure. All good things come to those who wait? Definitely. But this pigs flying business is uncalled for if you ask me. The phrase is meant to say something will never happen or (if it does) it is incredibly unlikely.

Well I’ve got news for you. Pigs fly in my dreams all the time. They have little wings and they take naps in the clouds. They’re also animated because I like the way fake pigs smell much more than real pigs, but that’s beside the point. To me the phrase encapsulates a major problem with the way people think about the realm of possibility.

When Dogs Blog

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Albert Einstein, a man known and respected as one of the smartest in history, held imagination in high esteem. “Imagination is more important than knowledge,” he said. “It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” Some scientists might argue that imagination is the arch nemesis of knowledge, but Einstein knew better.

Today imagination made reality of some dreams I didn’t even know I had. When I started this blogging journey when pigs fly was equivalent to when dogs blog in my mind. Sure, I want to share my joy with the world, but does the world want to hear it? I asked myself this as I pondered my decision to start blogging, and doubt filled my little doggie heart. But it wasn’t too long before the comments started coming in and the blogosphere became a group of friends I look forward to seeing each day.

Shortly thereafter, I went all out. I opened a Twitter account, and a Facebook account, and a Gmail account. Then I waited. A few of my blog friends have found me on Facebook and some of my Twitter friends have found me in the blog world so I suppose you can say social media is doing its job. But email remained pretty empty so I didn’t check it often. (Checking it to find nothing made me sad, and I generally avoid things that make me sad).

So you can imagine my surprise today when I logged into Gmail and was greeted with 57 emails. It might not sound like a lot to some people, but it’s a lot to a dog. When pigs fly, when dogs blog, and now dogs are emailing. And there they were amidst my correspondence from blog buddies, Twitter pals and Facebook friends: emails from two different service organizations asking if I’d like to partner with them to spread the word about adopting rescue dogs. Would I like to share the word about rescue dogs? That’s like asking if I would like some peanut butter (which is only one of my most favorite things in the whole wide world!)

These partnerships are in the beginning stages, but I can’t help but think of Mr. Einstein’s words about imagination when I contemplate how I got to this point. The way I see it, imagination empowers the realm of possibility. Without it there is only the impossible. Do pigs fly? They sure do. And tonight I am flying right along with them.


Say A Little Prayer June 14, 2013

My people were away from home for entirely too long today. Here I am waiting on the usual extra people time that kicks off on Friday nights and I got a whole lot of nothing. Mom didn’t get home to let me outside over her lunch break, which is bad enough. But when they both got home from that place called work they left again right away (to go on something they called a date) and didn’t return until dark.

From Up AboveWhile this is incredibly disappointing, I am with them as I work on the blog tonight and for me that is enough. And it wouldn’t be like me not to find the silver lining in a day of loneliness, now would it? Rather than dwell on my differing levels of happiness when I’m with my people (versus when I’m not) I choose instead to focus on the clarity of thought peace like that offers.

Somewhere between my mid-morning nap and my early afternoon nap, I began counting my blessings. (Some people count sheep, I count blessings). I thought of all of the people and animal characters in my life who have made me who I am. I gave thanks for each one of them and said a prayer that all is well in their lives. While it’s not an uncommon occurrence for me to address my thoughts to God, I realize doing so is probably thought of as fairly unconventional in the dog world. But since when am I conventional? Why start with that silliness now?

I thought back today to the first time I prayed. I didn’t even know I was doing it. I was all alone on the street right after I got separated from my mom and brothers. I was terrified, heartbroken and alone. So alone. I was so distracted by my thoughts I didn’t notice the car that was careening my way until the headlights practically blinded me. I saw nothing but light in that moment and begged God to let me live. I will never know how the car missed hitting me, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is regardless of how alone I felt in that moment, I saw the light: I’m never as alone as I think I am.

I can’t say I cared for being alone quite as long as I was today. But solitude allows us the great fortune to do some of our best thinking. It happened that day in the street and it happened again today. I didn’t realize it until it happened, but I wasn’t alone at all. I was talking to God and He was listening. Sometimes at the moments we feel most alone we are in the best company one could possibly have.


Peace Be With You April 21, 2013

Yesterday I came across a vision in white. At first, I was blinded by it. Beauty that breathtaking can do that to a man (er, I mean a dog). She looked like a princess.

It happened after a longer-than-usual Saturday drive to what I thought was going to be my grandma’s house. Let’s just say I was excited to go see grandma and my cousin Buddy. When dad took a different turn on the freeway, I was a different kind of excited; I was curious about where we were going instead.

Behind the LenseWe ended up at the home of two of my favorite little people Sophie and Sam (and their parents, of course). From there, we caravanned to a church, where it is my understanding that Sophie had her first Eucharist. I didn’t get to go inside the church, as much as I wish I could have. Instead, I waited patiently in the car, and enjoyed a fabulous afternoon nap in the warmth of an incredibly bright strange and foreign object to our corner of the world lately (also known as the sun).

As bummed as I may have been not to get to attend the service, it turned out it the service came to me on our way back to the house for the party that followed. Mom and dad were talking about some of the messages, and I can see why. They were too good not to share.

The priest began the special message with an analogy about what it meant to him when he finally got promoted to being able to sit at the adult table instead of the kiddie table. He was in awe of the stunning china, beautiful flatware and crystal wine glasses, which were a far cry from the paper plates, plastic napkins and red Solo cups of his past. But if you don’t bring anything to the potluck, there’s nothing to get. (Except maybe some Brussels sprouts, which I don’t think anyone appreciates). I was thinking about the power behind that message and it applies in so many facets of life.Some of My Other Little People

If you don’t show up for the game, there’s no game to be played. If you don’t bring treats to dog training classes, you probably won’t get anywhere. And if you don’t bring an open heart and mind to church, you will be closed off to the impactful messages it has to offer. If we listen with open hearts and minds, it will come. It reminds me a bit of obedience school: we dogs become man’s best friend through obedience and mutual understanding of our roles in each other’s lives.

Near the end of the service comes my favorite part, when the (incredibly packed) church apparently all offered their words of peace and encouragement to each other. Peace be with you, they said, to surrounding loved ones and strangers alike. Hugs were given, smiles were shared, and peace was present amidst what has arguably been one of the more challenging weeks for us as a country.

Yesterday, I witnessed a vision in white that brought a special kind of glow to the Schmidt family. (It breathed spirit into three of my other favorite little people who I was blessed to see as well). Like beauty, wisdom can blind us with its honesty sometimes.

Even though I heard it all secondhand, the wise messages that came to them on Sophie’s special day lived up to their reputation. “It isn’t enough to talk about peace, one must believe in it, ” the  well-known former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt once said. “And it isn’t enough to believe in it, one must work at it.” Let’s work together find peace in the simple things, joy in the blessings in life, and appreciation for what it means to sit at the big kid’s table. Peace be with you all.