Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

One Little Ribbon December 13, 2013

My name is Wiley Schmidt. I am a five-year-old terrier mix with an inquisitive mind and an open heart. I like the snow, long walks on the beach (or wherever really), and spherically shaped dog toys. My favorite dog treats are Beggin’ Strips. My favorite people food is peanut butter. I’m an instigator. I’m a poet. I am a lover of life.Who am I?

All of this came to mind today as I contemplated life’s ultimate crisis in existentialist thinking. Who am I? Beyond that, what do I offer the world? And how are the two connected?

It was about this time two years ago when mom came home with the answer. (I remember it clearly because I make a point to remember all things that make her as happy as she was that day). She came home from a class she was taking on leadership with these little blue ribbons in hand. Upon the ribbons was a message from above. “Who I Am Makes a Difference” they read.

She received one from a friend, who explained that mom’s enthusiasm for life makes the world around her a better place. That one little ribbon signified one of the kindest things anyone has ever said to her. But the story doesn’t end there. Mom came home with three ribbons and a mission. She was to pass the sentiment and the ribbons on (or paw it forward as I’ve come to say) to someone who makes a difference to her. And that person was to pass it along as well.Joy from the ground up

So I watched (and waited patiently for my usual amount of attention I get upon mom returning home) as she explained that who dad is makes a difference in her life. He cares for her in the way only a husband can care for his wife, she told him, and he takes good care of her. Who he is makes a difference.

Within a minute or so I was getting above and beyond my usual amount of attention from dad. He didn’t say anything, but he put his ribbon on me and said who I am makes a difference to him. And that was that. We were officially out of ribbons. But you don’t need an excuse (or a ribbon) to tell someone he or she is appreciated.

So today I’ve decided to hand my proverbial little blue ribbon to you. Who you are makes a difference. Your personality, your mannerisms, your smile. Who are you? You are the melting pot of psychological and sociological backgrounds from all over the world. And who you are makes a difference to me.

My name is Wiley Schmidt and am a five-year-old terrier mix with a lot to offer. But I find the world also has a lot to offer me. I say this as a proud recipient of my little blue ribbon. Please take yours and pass it on to someone, and encourage them to do the same. It doesn’t take much. And you don’t even need a ribbon. Because who you are makes a difference. And don’t you forget that.

For more information on the blue ribbon initiative, please visit http://blueribbonstory.org/about/impact/.

This post is dedicated to my friend Huntie over at Chasing Rabbit Holes. Please consider stopping by to say hi!


Our Own Light September 30, 2013

The light turns on at the flip of a switch. The food in the fridge tonight will most likely be the same food in the fridge in the morning. My toys will not come alive and run away while I sleep. These are all pieces of life that seem obvious. Given. Understood. Yet under the right (or wrong) conditions, it could all change in a moment.

Life has taught me a very important lesson about this: don’t take a single thing for granted because you never know when electricity will fail, the food will spoil and the toys will wreak havoc on the world. All right, so the last one seems pretty impossible, but so does what is happening in our beloved United States of America tonight.Standing For What's Right

United we are not, at least right now. As I type, the possibility of a government shutdown looms on the minds of Americans. Something that seems so given, so understood, so basic – it could literally shut down tonight. I’d rather not get into the politics of the situation because I don’t believe in fighting for something one way or another that you don’t fully comprehend. Instead I find myself wishing I could somehow pause real life and spend some time living in the White House tonight. I’d get to know Bo (the First Dog) and we could brainstorm together on how to keep things light amidst a challenging situation.

I guess that’s what I think is important in times like this, at least in my humble doggie opinion. When the given becomes a question and the norm shifts, it’s how we persevere that defines what comes next. Sure, it would probably be pretty easy for Bo and I to get carried away playing chase and causing trouble, but that’s not what anyone needs right now. People need joy. Faith. Hope.

It’s all to easy to get swept away with the politics of it all, but the concept remains the same as if that switch doesn’t turn on. We must make our own light in these situations.  We must rise above and learn from our mistakes. Because sometimes our biggest challenges morph into fundamental building blocks of personal identity. I don’t know what’s going to happen to the American government in the next few days, but I know what not to take for granted. Character. Integrity. Honor. These titles are earned. Not given.


We Are What We Think May 10, 2013

If joy has four legs and a tail, I would be it. I have a roof over my head, clean water to drink and yummy food to eat. I have more toys, chews, and rawhides than one dog really needs. I spend the majority of my days (awake or asleep) dreaming big.

But all of that doesn’t stop my little doggie mind from running on with questions I wish I could answer about my past. I don’t think its a coincidence that the one I hear the most from strangers and loved ones in my life is the among the ones to which I most wish I had the answer.

A lot of people think I’m a puppy. Even more people think I’m a girl. (I blame my floofy tail). But beyond the commentary, the most common question I’ve heard in my (soon-to-be) five people years of life is by far what kind of dog I am. Oh, how I wish I knew the answer to that question. Care to harbor any guesses?

West Highland Terrier? But where did I get my tail from? Shiba Inu? But my face is fuller and I’m taller than that. Carin Terrier? Possible, but my height is again the wild card gene.Big Thinker

It is my understanding that while genetics in people over time have remained fairly alike, the genes involved in dog breeding have continued to grow more and more complex. What I know for sure is that I am not the product of a breeder. I am the product of a mother who loved me more than life itself and a male scoundrel who didn’t love her enough to stick around. I call it a fortunate accident with which I intend to do as much as paw-sibble. But all the optimism in the world doesn’t answer the question, and alas I am back at square one.

Identity. In a world where hackers and street-walking thieves alike have made identity theft a commonality, what does it even mean anymore. Here’s what I don’t understand about it. Identity is more than the contents of a purse or wallet. It’s more than someone’s name and picture on pieces of plastic. Please don’t misunderstand, I am not condoning identity theft. But I think there is an important lesson to be learned from the concept.

While the impact of identity theft is devastating in a multitude of ways, it doesn’t change the true identity of the victim. The life challenge may even make some fighting hearts stronger, and certainly encourage them to hang on tight to what’s on the inside (as well as the outside) that makes them who they are.

All of this makes my silly little question about what breed I seem pretty small in the grand scheme of things. It really doesn’t matter which breed gave me my pointy ears, fluffy tail and slightly-taller (than most terrier breeds) stature. American existential psychologist Rollo May said it best.

“Joy, rather than happiness, is the goal of life, for joy is the emotion which accompanies our fulfilling our natures as human beings,” he said. “It is based on the experience of one’s identity as a being of worth and dignity.”

I have the basic necessities (and more than a few luxuries) in a full life in a forever home with people who love me. And I love them. I am who I am because of the joy in my heart not because of what breed mixture of DNA my birth parents had. If joy has four unusually tall legs, a fluffy tail and pointy ears, I’m your dog. It’s that simple.