Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Paying it Backward September 11, 2013

Dear Diary,

Today started like any other day. Mom took my little people to that place called school after they ate a healthy breakfast of watermelon and peanut butter and jelly crackers. (I got samples of both as usual).

Today the schedule was no different. Except it was. Something was very (very) wrong with my forever mom when she got back from dropping off my little people at school. I could hear her heart racing and I recognized the emotion all over her face. Fear. She ran frantically throughout the house turning on every television and radio. And she looked like she could cry at any second.

That’s when I saw it. Something terrible happened in our world today. Something about planes and terrorism and the Twin Towers and New York and death. Lots of death.

These words echoed throughout the house all morning. It wasn’t long before mom went back to school to pick up the girls very (very) early. She wanted them to be home safe in case catastrophe hit again any closer to home. And shortly thereafter there we were. My forever people and I watching tragedy unfold right before our eyes. Watching history in the making (and not the good kind). All on live television. Which I find especially ironically sad since there is simply so much death.

Today started like any other day. But it ended up being anything but that. Something tells me this is only the beginning of many changes to come.

Yours always,

Pheobe

Proud to be an AmericanIt turns out I’m not the only aspiring writer in my immediate doggie family. Twelve years ago today, my forever mom’s childhood dog Pheobe chronicled the events of that fateful day that forever changed our country, New York City and the world. I wasn’t around to experience it, but I know it’s one of those days you don’t forget.

But (at least in my humble doggie opinion) not forgetting is not quite as meaningful as always Always Rememberremembering. This was illustrated for me today in the words of author and NYU professor Jim Joseph, who suggests we pay it backward to show our respects. Joseph lives in New York, and in today’s blog entry on The Huffington Post he fondly recalls his experiences in New York on September 11, 2012.

What began in his heart as a day that should become a National Day of Remembrance evolved into an idea for a National Day of Kindness. It started with the person in front of him in line at Starbucks who paid for his coffee in recognition of the day. Later Joseph seized his opportunity to pay it backward. I’d like to think kindness made its way through New York that day.

What a beautiful way to pay our respects to an event of the past. And what beautiful symmetry there is in knowing we are commemorating a day of violence with the arch nemesis that is kindness. Today started like any other day, but it hasn’t ended that way. Through Pheobe’s words that day lives on in my heart. And from this day forward it is no longer a day to simply not forget. It’s a day to remember. It’s a day to pay it backward.

 

A Tail of Two Wileys June 10, 2013

Life’s little messages startle me sometimes. It happened today on the tails of my introspective commentary and ultimate acceptance of being anything but ordinary. Just yesterday I explored my quest for normalcy to better understand the uniqueness that is me. So you can imagine my surprise when today of all days I ran into my brother from another mother at the dog park.

His name is Benny, and looking at him is like looking in the mirror. We have the same coloring, the same facial features, the same wire-hair fur, and even the same pointy ears and fluffy tail combination I thought I had copyrighted. Benny’s mom mistook me for him, and my mom (gasp) mistook him for me.

As you can imagine, we were quite the topic of conversation amongst the people bystanders. It turns out Benny was a rescue dog too, from a shelter not that far from mine. I wondered what his life was like before his forever mom found him. Did he go through the same kinds of challenges I did? Moreover, could it be? Could we be brothers? I somehow had the mind to go over all of these questions in my head while he and I wrestled for the attention of the same lass (a white terrier mix) named Addison. (I knew her first, but I digress).

I suppose anything is possible, though I overheard later that Benny is two years younger than me. His mom informed my mom that she had Benny DNA-tested and the results came back that he is a mix of Pomeranian and Silky Terrier. She didn’t buy it and neither do I, but it was an interesting theory to add to the long list of hypotheses that exist about just what makes me me.

Irony is not lost on me. I’m not sure why I got this particular reminder today, less than 24 hours after I proclaimed to the blogosphere my acceptance of being one-of-a-kind. And I was far too exhausted from playing to think about it too hard. So instead of thinking myself in circles trying to find the meaning of the message, I will take a different page from my book of tricks. I made a new friend today. His name is Benny. Simple is as simple does. Sometimes the big picture is made up of fleeting moments like these that simply require our respect.

 

Isn’t it ironic? A Pause Amidst Life’s Symphony January 17, 2013

Irony is one of those words that can often be considered most influential in the eye of the beholder. Definitions vary, but from what I can tell perspective weighs heavily upon one’s perception of what Merriam-Webster refers to as “the use of words to express something other than and especially the opposite of the literal meaning.” Sounds pretty confusing to me. My simplified perspective includes the people in my life through the lenses of my appreciation for literature, music and artistic expression.

From the ground up, I couldn’t help but see irony in life’s little messages of today. It was the kind of day one wishes could be lived in reverse. French poet Anatole France knew a thing or two about this. “Irony is the gaiety of reflection and the joy of wisdom,” he said. Alas, hindsight is 20/20, so instead of dreaming the impossible, I will reflect on the messages.

It was a pretty normal day for me…mom and dad headed off to their respective workplaces, followed closely by my morning nap, mom’s lunchtime visit, my afternoon nap, and then mom and dad came home. Mom had another one of “those” days at work. Over dinner, I listened intently as she explained the stress of the day to dad. I don’t understand much of what she does at this work place, but whatever it is sounds fast-paced and challenging.

“Well life has a funny way of sneaking up on you when you think everything’s okay and everything’s going right,” Alanis Morissette croons in her 90s hit “Ironic.” “And life has a funny way of helping you out when you think everything’s gone wrong and everything blows up in your face.”

Thank you, Alanis, for putting my words to music all those years ago. Today’s Simple Abundance reading encourages us to pause to find harmony within our day, understanding that the integration of simplicity, order and gratitude in our lives will create a magical symphony of comfort and joy. “With harmony as your guide, trust that your every day moments will soon begin to resonate in a rhapsody of fulfillment,” Breathnach writes.

So I find a bit of irony in today’s daily prompt, which challenges me to “honestly evaluate the way you respond to crisis situations. Are you happy with the way you react?” http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/daily-prompt-in-a-crisis/

Is anyone? Speaking for myself, it certainly isn’t easy for me to pause and soak in the warm rays of the sun instead of running after that squirrel in the backyard. When faced with too many stimuli, I have a tough time concentrating on life’s simplest blessings. Chaos is not my friend, and I don’t think it’s any good for my mom either. I know I can’t relive today, but I can at least take France’s advice and find some wisdom in the irony.

Isn’t it ironic that sometimes exactly what is best for us is sometimes the most challenging task of all?

 

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.

 

Happiness Defined January 7, 2013

I tried something new today. I was thinking about living my gratitude, so I started the day with Simple Abundance and didn’t tell anyone about it. I read about taking note of things that make me happy and was reminded of my commitment to be a lantern of love for my mom this year. So I took notes of things that made her happy today and the strangest thing happened. A little while ago, she was talking to my grandma (her mom), who paid me the very highest of compliments (without even knowing it). Mom had grandma on speakerphone so I could hear the conversation…Mom laughed and her mom stopped the conversation cold and took notice.

“It’s so nice to hear you laughing,” grandma said, “It makes me happy knowing you’re so happy.” Even I could hear the implications of what she was saying. She hadn’t heard my mom laugh like that in a while. She was taking notice of that. And that made me happy. Funny how that works.

Its not like today was anything that spectacular, but that’s not what matters. Today I was looking…watching everything that made mom smile. “What is missing from many of our days is a true sense that we are enjoying the lives we are living,” Breathnach writes. “…Let us consider our personal preferences and learn how to recognize, then embrace, moments of happiness that are uniquely our own.”

Silly as this list may sound, here it is:

1. Working out. We woke up at a decent time, she got on this new bicycle contraption we have in the bedroom and she spent some time one it. Then, its like her contagious happiness spread to me. We went for our first walk since she had her leg surgery. It was short, but I loved it. And so did she. I could tell because I know we walked farther than she probably enjoyed. I could tell because on the way back home, she walked with a bigger limp than when we left home. But it didn’t affect her smile.

On the Road Again2. Car ride. Two of my favorite people words together in one happy phrase. The car ride followed her time on the bicycle and our walk. I love car rides. Mom knows that. She smiled when I tried to get into the driver’s seat with her, even though I know I’m not supposed to and she had to push me away right away.

3. Yummy food. When we got back from our car ride, she spent some time in the kitchen, which I know is one of her happy places. She made some sort of chicken-scented goodness that smelled like heaven, and when she was done eating, you’d better believe I scavenged for the leftovers like never before. And mom smiled all the while. Happiness: Its a Hard Knock Life

4. Friends. She talked to a few friends whose names I recognized today. She smiled the whole time.

5. Insightful movies. We watched them together. The first one was called Butter, which (I know) sounds ridiculous, but it was surprisingly adorable. I do quite enjoy butter (I’ve been known to lick it off towels in private after mom has put a pie in the oven), but the plotline was equally enticing. Then there was this movie Ruby Sparks. It opened with what promised to be a charming tale of a writer and his dog…so you can see why I would be intrigued. As an aspiring writer myself, it was a love-at-first-sight kind of love story. It ends back in the hands of the writer and his dog, and among many insightful things, the writer says “Any writer can attest that in the luckiest, happiest state the words are not coming from you, but through you.” Mom cried at the end.

A Dog and his Work

I learned something with my little experiment today. Happiness is contagious.

 

Silently Speaking: Life’s Little Reminders January 3, 2013

I’m a glass-half-full kind of dog. I wake up each day and make a heartfelt commitment to see the good in people, places and things. But even our best intentions get challenged. For me, a constant challenge to my outlook on life is silence. I hate not being able to talk. Perhaps that’s why I find such comfort in writing down my thoughts…because the silence drives me bonkers.Smiling for Silence

What I find most ironically disturbing about silence is how it can be more powerful than words. As a lover of words, I can’t help but wonder why is it that silence speaks so loudly?

I take the challenge. I am going to find something good to say about silence. Let us welcome Sir Francis Bacon to the conversation. Talk about finding the good in people. The English philosopher wore many hats, including one of disgrace following his political career. Yet somehow, he remains thought of as the creator of empiricism and respected for his influence on philosophy and science.

“Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom,” he once said. Well, I like sleep. And I love wisdom. In fact, I think my passion for wisdom got me in some trouble recently.

I noticed today that I have been one day ahead of myself in my journey with Simple Abundance. Clearly the problem is not my obvious enthusiasm for this journey of my mine. But that got me to thinking about life’s little reminders to hit the pause button from time to time. To be still in this super-sized, action-packed, fast-forward world. To respect the silence.

And we’re really missing out. Its been my experience that (even though silence is not my favorite thing) sometimes the stillness speaks to us in ways no words can interrupt. Southern novelist Mark Twain knew a thing or two about this. “The right word may be effective,” he said, “but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.” So today I pause my Simple Abundance experience and (in doing so) find something good to say about silence.