Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Peace on Earth December 24, 2014

It is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal. It is not the absence of war, (but rather) a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice. It begins with a smile.

Peace. From the ground up, minds filled with a lot more wisdom than mind have a few things to say about it. Like civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. And Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza. And Catholic visionary Mother Theresa.20141224_170645

Like joy, I know peace takes many forms. It looks different to everyone depending on his or her life experiences and overall perspective on the world around them. It’s Christmas Eve around here, and though we don’t have any snow (an incredibly unusual occurrence in Wisconsin this time of year) on the ground, celebrations are in high gear.

But I can’t help but think about what happens in a couple days. After all the ribbons and bows are torn from their presents. After the holly jolly music has fled the airwaves. After the turkeys and hams and other holiday goodies are all long gone. Trees and decorations get put away, and a big empty hole can stand in its place.

It all brings to mind the words of Buddha, who suggested “peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”

I hear it in the stillness of snowflakes falling around me in my backyard paradise. I feel it in my heart when my forever family is together and happy. I see it in smiles and laughter. I find peace all around me, and I know it is because it starts in my heart.

This may seem to many like a time of year for embracing all things worldly, but to me it’s just as important to remember where it all starts. The reason for the season. The love and joy and peace and all things holly and jolly. The life this season is capable of breathing into our souls is like no other.

Like the thinkers who are wiser than me suggested, it is how we arrive at a goal. It is a state of mind that can present itself in something as simple as a smile. And, as Mahatma Gandhi said, it “is its own reward.”

So from my little family to yours, I wish you a very Merry (and peaceful) Christmas.

 

Reason for the Season November 6, 2014

I think we all have them. Certain phrases or cliches that make us cringe at the mere utterance of the words. For me, it’s you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I openly despise these words, mostly because I know in my heart they are completely false. It’s that simple.

The truth is, I think this is one of many realities that translates from the four-legged to the two-legged world. Ageism is a problem in society, and it is one of the things in life I just don’t understand. With age comes life. Wisdom. Memories. These are things to be honored and respected, not tarnished by a silly stereotype. Let Your Heart Be Light

I know some people don’t like it when mom asks them how young they are, but I also know she has her reasons. And she asks the question the same way, whether she’s talking to a six-year-old or a 67-year-old. I heard it again today, as she interviewed an older woman and her husband who make appearances in our area as Santa and Mrs. Claus. Santa’s helpers, they called themselves.

They too spoke of this societal problem with age, as they focus their emotional efforts on keeping the magic of Christmas alive regardless of who they visit. And it pays off, because from day cares to nursing homes, the result is the same. They inspire a joy deep within you can’t lose with age. I would dare go as far as to say it only gets better with age, but that’s just my humble doggie opinion.

I know we all have opinions about things, just like we all have phrases that make us emotionally cringe. But that’s also the reason I found this a fitting message to share as we are at the helm of the holiday season. I know random acts of kindness become a lot less random this time of year. I know its easier to be joyful and happy as planning gets underway for fun family festivities and holiday parties.

But I also know it’s not the same for everyone. For some people, these next couple of months are a torturous three month reminder of a loved one lost. A parent, a friend, or a family member who used to breathe life into the holiday has now left a gaping hole in the heart where joy used to be.

Young or old, these people need us this year. They need our love. They need our support. They need our joy to be contagious. Because ultimately that is what the holiday season is all about.

 

Merry Little Christmas December 25, 2013

Tradition. It’s pretty important to especially my mom at this time of year. I’ve mentioned the traditions she’s put in place around wrapping Christmas presents and dancing like a ninny to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas.” There’s also certain movies we all cuddle up to watch together at given times throughout the season. (Tonight’s feature is “The Polar Express”). But amongst all of these, I think Christmas morning is my favorite.Let Your Heart Be Light

The best part is how simple it is. Mom and dad exchange their gifts to each other, I get a new toy, and we sit together listening to Christmas music. They snack on a special kind of chocolate they buy only for Christmas, and I feast on whatever treat shared a bag with the new toy. It’s a joyful moment in our home that I sincerely look forward to each year.

So you can imagine my surprise when tears made an appearance during the tradition this morning. I’ve become fairly attuned to these as my nine-month pregnant forever mom’s emotions have been a little unsteady lately. But these were truly challenging to decipher whether they were tears of joy or sadness. Bittersweet is the word I guess people use to describe what she was feeling.

This was confirmed as, about halfway through Frank Sinatra’s rendition of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” she explained to dad that she was reveling in this last special Christmas morning with just the two of them while at the same time looking forward to the changes next year will bring with the little person around.

This has always been a favorite Christmas song of mine. I have my reasons, not the least of which is found in the soul of the lyrics of this beloved song. It celebrates everything I hold dear about the holidays, like time with loved ones and how we will always be together in spirit if not in person. But there is one line in particular that stood out to me within the context of this bittersweet moment with my mom this morning. “Let your hearts be light.”

Her heart seemed to be anything but light. And yet it was. Just as mine is and will continue to be regardless of the season. The light of joy burns in my heart and that glow is one that nothing can burn out. I’m not sure Mr. Sinatra meant it this way, but that’s my take.

Who knows what will happen with all of these beloved traditions next year when we are no longer two people and a dog. But that’s okay. Because things change. Families grow. And, if anything, that light burns even brighter than before.