Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Can You Hear That? September 4, 2013

I don’t care much for cell phones. I know some people call them “smart,” but I can’t say I agree. From what I can tell, these mini computers are nothing but a distraction aimed at keeping people interested in everything but their present company. (Not to mention the teeny tiny buttons are far too small for any dog to attempt to navigate and they are capable of producing sounds that hurt my little doggie ears). They are good for keeping in touch with loved ones, but (in my humble opinion) they are otherwise overused.

Can You Hear It?My mom apparently shared my feelings (albeit temporarily) today as she was so frustrated with her phone she verbally considered throwing it as hard as she could into the hardwood floor. (That’s the thing about computers – they have a way of crashing when we need them most). I stood at the ready as I do with all things about to be thrown and was highly disappointed when she didn’t follow through with her destructive plot.

As I mourned the loss of yet another battle (me versus the phone for my mom’s undivided attention), I reminded myself the real purpose of these phones. (As much as I occasionally wish they were), they are not akin to tennis balls. They are designed to make and receive calls. Therein lies its greatest blessing.

If only we had phones capable of calling us to our purpose in life. Not our job, our career, or our hobby. I’m talking about our true purpose and meaning for breathing. That is a phone I would stand behind. But alas, no such invention exists (yet) so we are left to our own devices to receive our higher calling in life. Or are we?

“No other (person) on Earth can do what you are called to do, can give to the world what you alone were sent to give through your authentic gifts,” writes Sarah Ban Breathnach in Simple Abundance. “The call may be so faint you can barely make out the message, but if you listen you will hear it.”

If you listen you will hear it. Not the incessant chiming, chirping, beeping, vibrating and singing songs those cell phones make. Because let’s face it. Even those mini computers sometimes really aren’t that “smart.” Instead be still. Listen closely. Your heart may just hold an answer your mind has been too distracted to hear.

 

Rainbows of the Heart July 29, 2013

There are those who believe dogs cannot see rainbows. Then there is me, and I’m here to tell you we can. Sure, they may not be quite as vibrant and fabulous as what people see but they are still visible to us.

In actuality colorblindness isn’t all that bad. We can see the color spectrum; we just struggle with certain (albeit important) colors like red and yellow. But it doesn’t matter that our real-life rainbows look more brown and blue than red and purple. We don’t need to see all of the colors to appreciate their significance. Opinions vary from person to person, but I’m a believer in the theory that rainbows signify a promise. Storms happen in all areas of life, sometimes when we least expect it. But the rainbow always follows, carrying with it a promise of renewal. A promise of safety. A promise of peace.Singing in the Rainbows

I saw a different kind of rainbow today. It happened when I met Winston (the terrier mix) and Mallory (his two-legged best friend) at the dog park. Mom was kind enough to arrange the meeting in response to an email I received recently asking if I would be interested in guest blogging for the local chapter of the American Red Cross. (It is my understanding this is the place called work for Mallory). They have been wanting to integrate some dog-friendly information, and hoped to do so with a new voice.

Well, to say this new voice is excited is definitely an understatement. But excited isn’t the only thing I feel after our meeting. I feel like I came face to face with a completely different kind of rainbow. Not the physical kind that little people watch for in the sky after a downpour. The kind that originates in the heart.

While the Red Cross focuses on proactivity and preparedness, most people are more familiar with their responses to disaster. To the shocking aftermath. To devastation. And rightly so, if you consider the staggering numbers of people that the Red Cross has assisted. In the ten minutes it takes to read this blog post, 2500 people were assisted by the Red Cross*. Two thousand five hundred people who have encountered various types of disasters. Helped in life-changing ways. In ten minutes.

I’m no stranger to emotional disaster. Maybe that’s why I like rainbows so much. So I don’t agree with those who believe dogs cannot see rainbows. Indeed red is one of the colors us canines struggle to identify, but that doesn’t mean we don’t recognize a rainbow when we see it. Today I saw the rainbows the Red Cross brings into the previously stormy lives of others. Rainbows of renewal, safety and peace. And I was inspired. It didn’t rain today. There wasn’t a rainbow in the sky. Instead there was a rainbow in my heart.

*Statistics obtained from http://redcrosssewiblog.org/

(This is also the blog to which I will soon be contributing. Check it out!)

 

So Happy Together July 28, 2013

I don’t understand why people call cell phones smart. The way I see it, they distract more than they connect. They take people away from the company they’re with to a cyber place with people somewhere else. And (perhaps most importantly) they detract from my favorite time of day: family time.Family Time Please

It doesn’t happen often, but it did tonight. There we were in the living room. Together. But separate. Mom and dad both were playing around with these so-called Smartphones. I don’t know what they were doing that was so important, but it doesn’t matter to me. Sunday nights are not for cell phones. They are for family time. So I did what any dog would do: I shut that technology party down.

And it was far from easy. In addition to every single one of my toys (which I still don’t understand why dad insists on putting into a basket), I brought out some of my best tricks. I sat and stared at dad. I jumped at him. I pawed at his foot. Nothing. I stared at mom. I jumped at her. I pawed at her foot. Nothing.

Well, not exactly nothing – my mom confused all of my purposeful shenanigans as a desire to be let outside. I dutifully went outside, did my business and then scratched at the door to be let back inside so I could resume my mission. I would not be ignored. Persistence and patience paid off about fifteen minutes later when I finally succeeded in luring them both into a game of pickle in the middle.

This is a favorite game of theirs and (in spite of how frustrating it can be to always play the role of pickle) it is a favorite of mine. They always smile and giggle and I can feel it in the air. There we were in the living room. Together. Joy. In a moment, there it is.

These games never last very long, but as I am an expert in the area of people watching I know what always comes next. Family time. It never stops with the game. It starts with the game. The cell phones get put away (who are you calling smart now?), and we cuddle together as a family. We are so happy together in these moments. Now if only I could figure out a trick to get them to turn off that television.

 

There’s No App for That May 4, 2013

I got something in the mail recently I couldn’t keep from sharing. As I’ve previously mentioned, I recently attended first communion celebrations for two of my favorite little people. While I was not allowed in either church, the messages of love, hope and peace filtered their way directly into my little doggie heart through the conversations that followed.

Thank YOUI was reminded of those messages this week when I received thank you notes from princesses Sophie and Abigail thanking my parents and I for our gifts of money and jewelry. Just as my name had been included on the invitations, my name was included on the notes thanking us for coming to be part of their special days. I can honestly say I was absolutely touched by the sincerity of gratitude in the priceless little people handwriting of Sophie and Abigail.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life,” author Melody Beattie writes. “It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”

These written words have an unspoken power to ignite my imagination and feed my soul. But they also bring to mind something about the written word itself. It is dying amidst our technologically savvy culture and it breaks my heart.

Every time the newspapers get thinner and smaller, I know that also means there are less people on staff to do the reporting, editing and layout. While e-books are enabling more writers to dip their ink in the wonderful world of publishing, gizmos like tablets and e-readers are encouraging people to opt for a paperback-free way of the future. And with the millions of apps and games, Smartphones are helping people around the word stay “connected.” Connected to what? Certainly not to each other, when it’s more convenient to use technology.

Why call when you can text message? Why write when you can e-mail? Why browse a library when you can buy the book with a click of a button?

I’ll tell you why. There is one very important thing people who buy too far into the technology are missing: the context of emotion. The vocal tone of a sentence can drastically alter its meaning, and good intentions can be so easily misinterpreted for sarcasm. Albeit, the majority of tech-savvy folks know that ALL CAPS MEANS YOU’RE YELLING, but a yell is meant to be heard not read. Sure, you can put a smiley emoticon (or a winky face, or a kissing face, or an undecided face) at the end of a text message, but that doesn’t come close to the impact of any of those emotions experienced in person. The thought that goes into a handwritten letter or thank-you note is unmatched by the autocorrect and spell check of word processors.

All the teeny tiny happy faces in the world can’t replace a real one. You can’t give someone a hug via e-mail. Herein lies the problem with our reliance on modern technology. Power to the people who still write thank you notes, send paper cards to family members on birthdays and anniversaries, and who read the newspaper. Call me old school, but getting those special little envelopes in the mail this week brought to light a serious problem with our continuously evolving technological society. Let us really stay connected by remembering the power of a hug or kiss can’t be felt through a text message. I will always be a supporter of local libraries and book stores. And (perhaps most important of all) there is no app for gratitude.

Related Articles:

Peace Be With You – http://wileyschmidt.com/2013/04/21/peace-be-with-you/

Hope In Gratitude – http://wileyschmidt.com/2013/01/14/hope-in-gratitude/