Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The Truth About Garbage April 11, 2014

It didn’t end well. This afternoon I decided I was going to do something I’ve never done before. I’ve been plotting it for quite some time, but never had the guts to follow through. I’m not sure what it was in my mind that finally convinced me to do it. All I know is it happened. And the rest is history.

I knocked down the garbage can in the kitchen today. It smelled like ham and apples and cheese and rice and beans and corn and peas. I love peas. I don’t know what came over me. All of a sudden, I was overcome with this urge to get in there and pick out all of that goodness for myself. I never understand how my forever people can throw such gems away. I cringe when I see leftover bacon or any kind of bones go in there. Enough is enough, I thought to myself.Did I do that??

It was quite the feast, and I ate everything in a matter of minutes. Next came the aftermath. Not only was I in (really big) trouble, but I paid for it. Apparently garbage is garbage for a reason. It’s not good anymore. I’m not generally a trouble maker, so getting scolded was almost as bad as the tummy ache that followed. Almost.

I certainly learned my lesson. (At least until my nose overtakes my mind again). Philosophically speaking, I am still a believer in the theory that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. But when it comes to that garbage, it is a lesson I already knew. I just didn’t realize it. My instincts told me my people would not keep treasure from me on purpose. In the back of my mind, I knew there must have been a reason for every single time I’ve made a pass at the garbage can in the past, I was scolded.

I should have known I could trust my instincts. I thought my nose knew better. I was wrong. And it didn’t end well

“I decided that it was not wisdom that enabled poets to write their poetry,” suggested Ancient Greek philosopher Socrates, “but a kind of instinct or inspiration, such as you find in seers and prophets who deliver all their sublime messages without knowing in the least what they mean.”

There is obviously no poetry in garbage. But there is wisdom in knowing the value of instinct. That is the lesson I learned today.

 

A Wrinkle In Time September 14, 2013

To write is to be inspired by life. I find this happens in the most unusual of ways from the most unexpected sources. I’ve found it in everything from a stinky towel on the bathroom floor to the wind blowing delicious smells throughout my neighborhood. But sometimes its more simple than that. Sometimes it’s right there in front of our face. Sometimes we don’t even notice it because it’s something we see every day. Sometimes it’s in a word. Inspiration.Deep Thinking

I keep my most simple resources for inspiration close to my side while I write, and today they spoke to me. As I write, the following titles are within arms reach:

Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy, Sarah Ban Breathnach

Marley and Me, John Grogan

Poemcrazy, Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge

Inside of a Dog, Alexandra Horowitz

A Dog’s Purpose, W. Bruce Cameron

To write is to be inspired by life. To read is to be inspired to write. Each of these titles has a purpose. A reason for being by my side in my recent past, present, and future. Today’s daily writing prompt challenged us to open to the first page of the closest book, read the tenth word, and do a Google image search for that word. From there we will find our inspiration. Or not. I can honestly say this is the very first time any of these books has let me down. In the order referenced above, the words were as follows: of, years, I, at, and squeaky.

In a word, my choices left me feeling underwhelmed. Not even squeaky sparked my cerebral cortex into action. But as a picture is worth a thousand words, I found it both ironic and enlightening to find the picture below come up in response to my search for “years.”

600-029042

This image can inspire all kinds of different thoughts for different people. For me, it looks like a wrinkle in time that immediately inspires hope. Faith in the future. Knowledge that the past is behind us (but still part of the journey) the present is a gift, and the future is looking pretty spectacular.

Inspiration. Sometimes it happens in unusual ways. Other times it’s right there next to us in someone else’s words.

 

Living in the Moment May 1, 2013

I realized today I have done a fair share of blogging about the weather. I’m not even sure how riveting a dog’s thoughts on the weather are, but (spoiler alert!) I’m about to do it again.

It began with a special moment I had with my mom in the snow. Then there was more snow. And more cold. And rain, my goodness, have we had rain. While some of it has been positive, I will admit to complaining (in the best way I know how) in some of my commentary as well.Smelling the Roses It wasn’t that long ago I asked the world where art thou spring?

I finally have my answer. Spring is here. Well, actually summer is here early, and probably not for long. Today is the second day in a row of unseasonably warm weather. Given my outspoken longing for warmth throughout the majority of what technically should be considered spring in Wisconsin, I would be remiss if I didn’t bring attention to the beauty around me the last couple of days. All of the snow is melted and all of the rain has left behind it a sea of color. Trees and grass are so brilliantly green they are almost blinding. Magnolia trees (which usually bloom in this area right around Easter) are finally bearing their beautiful pink and white flowers and daffodils, lilies and tulips seemed to shoot out of the ground and flower overnight.

The world around me is a piece of art right now and I am soaking it all in. (Especially since the weather forecast for the next couple of days brings our temperatures back down into the 30s and 40s). The wait has proven worthwhile, but the resulting beauty has become a study of something I find all too frequently in our society.

How true it is that is can be so much easier to pine and long and lust after what we don’t have than it is to soak up what we do? “Forever is composed of nows,” as American poet Emily Dickenson put it.

I spent all that time praying for spring to finally come and yet I almost didn’t stop and take notice when it did. Now that it’s here I realized it’s one thing to live in the moment, but sometimes that is exactly when we should stop and appreciate the brilliance of what that moment has to offer. Most likely, it offers joy from the ground up. Musings and commentary on the weather aside, that is what it is all about for me.

 

Eagles Are Flying April 12, 2013

2013-04-04 17.53.53I’ve been struggling with a secret lately. It’s something I had preferred not to share with the world, but if there is something I’ve learned in life, it is usually the things we don’t want others to know that become the most important to share.

So here it is: I have been struggling to find inspiration lately. I know, I know, the optimist in me should find something to say about each and every day, but I will admit even the optimist has a slow day every now and then. Add to that the dreary days in our area, and you have yourself a recipe for optimistic disaster.

But I refuse to see it as anything other than an opportunity for growth, so I believe in Sarah Ban Breathnach’s words in Simple Abundance. “A generous heart, a spontaneous smile, and eyes that sparkle with delight can be part of a (person’s) signature look once she awakens to his or her authentic beauty.”

I wouldn’t disagree with the importance of authentic beauty, but I would break it down to include valuable and unparalleled sense of self-understanding.

I know self-understanding and authentic beauty aren’t easily obtained. Quite the contrary, in fact, to the point where I would argue society brings the very definition of authentic beauty into question. Regardless, I have found that authentic beauty (or beauty of the soul as I call it) is worth the journey of self-understanding that leads you there. And so I come full circle and in doing so agree that full disclosure is best practice in blogging.

I wouldn’t call it writer’s block because my head is constantly budding with words my heart is dying to say. My generous heart finds hope in the spontaneous moments of inspiration, but when there is no inspiration, there is room for improvement. Room for growth. How else do baby eagles learn to fly? They don’t soar beautifully out of the gate. It takes time and practice and patience. In the meantime, I’ll take these dreary days as a reminder to keep the eyes of my heart focused on the sky until I’m ready to fly again.

 

Making Happiness a Habit March 11, 2013

The great and powerful “they” say it takes 21 days to get into a new habit. Good, bad or indifferent as the habit may be, I’d have to say I agree. On day 22 in a row of writing this blog, my newly certified habit found its words in a post on how money can’t buy happiness. As I reflect on that day, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I had happiness on my newly habitual mind.Happy Blogging!

Fast-forward to today: my 81st day in a row blogging every day and it is definitely a happy day in my life. Today I hit a landmark of 1,000 likes on Wiley’s Wisdom, which inspires me to contemplate Mahatma Gandhi’s words on happiness. “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony,” Gandhi reminds us. I celebrate this happiness today.Joy

It hasn’t been easy blogging every day. I often worry about whether my stories are even interesting or my thoughts insightful. But this isn’t about me. It is about my heartfelt mission in life to share my thoughts on joy with as many people as possible through what I say, and that is exactly what I will continue to do.

So today I choose share the happiness I feel with you. “Be the change you want to see in the world,” as Gandhi would say. To every single one of you who have supported me, offered me feedback, and (in all honesty) been a friend to me: thank you. I’ve never really had friends before, at least not in the practical sense. Yet in less than three short months since I started Joy: From the Ground Up, I now have more than 150 of them. I am so blessed.

I don’t think it is a coincidence that I wrote one of my first posts on happiness the day after it became an unconscious habit for me. When it comes to coincidence I am also a believer in something I call “God things.” You know, those moments when the stars align, the heavens open up and the birds sing our most favorite harmonious song. Or when you think, say and do are in harmony, as Gandhi would say. But there’s this thing about those moments that I can’t help but find thought-provokingly ironic. You have to actually pause to appreciate them or the moment may just pass you by. I don’t think I have to worry about that anymore. It’s official: happiness is a habit for me now.

 

Love Play Live: Lighting Up Darkness January 18, 2013

Have you ever tried to piece a puzzle together without the box? I’ve been trying that lately with Simple Abundance. I was worried that I was going to start sounding repetitive with the whole gratitude in simplicity storyline and folks would get disinterested. But I did not disregard my daily commitment to reading Simple Abundance, whether or not I made it a main focus of my blogger thoughts this week. I do wonder if that hasn’t had a negative influence on my weeklong reflections…I hope not, but I welcome any and all feedback on the matter.

What I know is that today’s Simple Abundance challenge struck a special chord with me. Living in Wisconsin, a state that gets cold and snowy and the hours of sunlight are at an extreme shortage this time of year, the concept of light amidst the darkness speaks to me.

“Outside, winter’s darkness closes in,” Breathnach writes. “Inside, you have found your own light.” We find light in the little things that may seem otherwise insignificant throughout the day, like that special treat mom gives me before she goes back to work after lunch, or that bowl of peas dad gives me after he and mom share a yummy Friday night steak dinner.Light Amidst Darkness

So again I enjoy today’s daily prompt in coordination with my daily journey toward comfort and joy:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/daily-prompt-free-association/

Write down the first words that comes to mind when we say . . .

. . . home.

. . . soil.

. . . rain.

Use those words in the title of your post.

Love play live. When I think of home, soil, and rain, those are the first three words that come to mind for me.

…home = love: Mom, this one’s for you. We both love Phillip Phillips, but when I hear his lyrics to “Home,” I think of what you and dad did for me when you brought me home from the humane society. I picture these words coming from you, which fills my heart with so much love there really are no words to explain my thankfulness. Except for those set to beautiful chords by Mr. Phillips himself:

Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They  fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down love
If you get lost,  you can always be found
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going  to make this place your home.”

…soil = play: Dad, this one’s for you. All those times you we play around in the backyard when you don’t think mom is looking…those are some of my most favorite moments. I know sometimes I make a mess of the yard, and then I track dirt into the house, but you love me nonetheless. And I know you didn’t consider yourself a “dog person” before we met, so our quiet moments together without anyone else mean that much more to me. I love you, dad.

…rain = life: This one’s for my family. I know what its like to seek shelter in the rain without a warm, loving home. I would prefer not to sleep under a stinky green garbage unit ever again. Yet somehow rain is a reminder that I probably will never have to.  Because I have home and soil, I am thankful for rain. I greet the reminder of my blessings in life.

Inside, I have found my light.

 

Hope in Gratitude January 14, 2013

Hope in GratitudeWriting can be a bit like life. Some days are like poetry, weaving experiences together in the most beautiful (albeit sometimes ironically morbid) of prose. Those days can be easier than others to write things worth reading. Other days are like the worst case of writer’s block. Nothing among the list of one’s ordinary function comes easy. Even waking up (or picking up a pen and paper) sounds absolutely impossible on “one of those days.”

Either way, I’m starting to notice how easy it is to find something to bring a ray of sunshine into even the cloudiest case of writer’s block. I say this because if its possible for a dog to have what humans refer to as “one of those days,” that was my life today. Instead of shattering a glass on the hardwood or breaking a nail (which I’ve heard can be quite painful for womenfolk), I struggled to find any inspiration in today.

Mom journeyed back to this place she calls work today. I missed her terribly. After all the time off for her leg surgery, I realize I’d gotten spoiled with people time during the day. But to make matters worse, I could tell things didn’t go well by her emotional state when she came home over her lunch break. And again when she came home from work well after the sun went down. And I will be the first to admit it: a tough day on her takes a toll on me. I can easily slip into a darker way of thinking, wishing more than anything I can somehow be that lantern of love I’ve pledged to be while at the same time not having any idea of how to light the match.

Then something hits me. A ray of sunshine makes its way through the cloudy darkness that is the blank screen or notepad mocking me with its silence. Today it was two things combining in perfect harmony, just like poetry coming together on the page: music and good writing. Two obvious things that inspire me (and lots of other thoughtful writers, poets and songwriters), but as I am embracing simplicity this year I find solace in (even) these most obvious of things. Miracles happen in simple moments like this.

I was reading today’s thoughts on Simple Abundance, which focus on finding specific things to be thankful for in even the cloudy days while listening to “Tell Me a Story” on Phillip Phillips’ album.

“Hope is just a ray of what everyone should see
alone is the street where you found me
scared of what’s behind you
and scared of what’s in front
live with what you have now
and make the best of what’s to come.”

Phillips sings to me his guitar-stringed thoughts on the world, and I find myself so grateful for his words that I want to share them with anyone who reads. Quite the paradox, since today’s Simple Abundance entry cites the thoughts of author Melody Beattie.

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow,” she said.

Tantalizing little cursor on a blank screen? You’re no match for me. Trouble lighting the match for my lantern of love? Forget about it. There is hope in gratitude, even on a day like today.

 

Writing my way to through Simple Abundance – Day One January 1, 2013

A new me in 2013? I hope so.Thirteen years ago Sarah Ban Breathnach had a simple idea that ended up changing her life forever. In Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy, she set out to write an honest commentary on some of life’s most pressing questions.

“I knew I wasn’t the only woman hurtling through real life as if it were an out-of-body experience,” she writes in the foreword, “…But I also knew I certainly wasn’t the woman with the answers. I didn’t even know the questions.”

I will be the first to admit I laid out some pretty lofty goals for myself in 2013. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to find a practical way to hold myself accountable for how well I remember Christmas, love actively and live life backwards every day.

Reading the last few words of Breathnach’s foreward in Simple Abundance showed me how.

“Reading books changes lives. So does writing them. May Simple Abundance, through its gentle lessons of comfort and joy, help you find the authentic life you were born to live.”

And so begins my year-long journey to find the authentic life I was born to live…from my humble perspective. Joy, from the ground up.

Day one. New Year’s Day. “A Transformative Year of Delight and Discovery.” Today’s reading ironically challenges me to take time to dream. Take time to reflect on my most private of aspirations. All right Sarah, here you go.In deep thought

I want to be a writer. I want people to want to read what I have to say. Most importantly, I want my words to inspire people. I know its silly. I know people might not take me, a goofy four-year-old terrier mutt, seriously.

But I’m going to take the challenge to dream big. I am going to take a leap of faith and believe that this year I will post a blog entry every day. I’m going to believe in myself. Because sometimes, that is the hardest thing to do.

 

Joy: From the ground up December 21, 2012

Playing in the snowEnglish novelist Terry Pratchet once wrote that “joy is to fun what the deep sea is to a puddle…It’s a feeling inside that can hardly be contained.”

I never knew joy that special until a balmy summer afternoon about two and a half years ago when I met the people who would bring me into my forever home. Other dogs I know think the whole love at first sight thing is ridiculous, but when I saw them smile as they approached my designated area at that place called the humane society, I just knew…they would be my people. Since then, I have been privileged enough to experience moments of overwhelming joy on such a regular basis. I have come to learn that joy like I have in my heart holds its greatest value to me when I share it with others.

And so begins my quest to experience life to the fullest by sharing my ground-level perspective with the world.

Today was a day to glory in one of the very smallest sources of happiness I have come across – the wonder that is snow and all it brings with it. It never ceases to amaze me how something as small as a snowflake can bring so much merriment. It is one of the best examples I can think of to demonstrate how joy is best when shared, since snowfall like we had today often leads to two of my favorite things – extra cuddle time with my people and playtime in the snow. I wonder if my mom realizes how blessed I feel when she runs around like a ninny with me outside. I know she must be cold because she usually is so excited to get outside with me that she doesn’t put on a sensible coat. But we play and she laughs and I can’t tell whether my tail wagging or her laughter came first. Joy. In a moment, there it is.