Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Don’t Let Me Go October 7, 2013

Life. No one ever said it would be easy. Quite the opposite in fact. Life is tough. Anyone who tells you otherwise hasn’t really lived. And big or small, it doesn’t matter. Some troubles can seem insurmountable regardless of their size.

The LightI remember one of mine like it was yesterday. It was the day my first adoptive parents took me back to the Oshkosh Humane Society. I was showered with love from all the shelter workers (especially Katie, my friend who always had a few extra treats in her pocket with my name on them). Even a few of the other dogs were clearly happy to see me. But I wouldn’t have it. I was at the lowest of the low with no optimistic neighbor pal like Rusty to dig me out of the darkness this time.

In these moments of darkness, the light can seem so far away. But in reality it’s not. Oftentimes it is just beyond our reach. We just need someone to reach out and pull us that last couple of steps. We need help. Because whatever the struggle may be, it has us in such a haze of negativity we just can’t see how close we are to relief. To safety. To life.

Sometimes the realization of this happens instantly. I wasn’t so lucky. Mine happened over time, with help from Katie and her treats. And her love. And her encouragement. “They will find you, Wiley,” she would say during our daily play time. “Your forever people are coming for you. I just know it.”

And they did. The found me and I felt whole again. I knew everything would be all right. But I don’t know what I would have done without Katie and her kind words every day.

It can be painful to remember the tough times, but they are part of who we are. And now that mine are behind me, I can appreciate their meaning in my life. I can appreciate the characters who kept shining the light at me, like Rusty and Katie. And I know the importance of not just looking back where I came from, but reaching back and bringing someone with me. Because as American author Helen Keller said “walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.”

Life. No one ever said it would be easy. I don’t know how long I was in the darkness before I found the light again. I guess it was only a couple of weeks, but (take it from me) that can feel like a lifetime when your heart is in a dark place. I renewed my vow the day of my adoption never to go back to that dark place. To instead find joy from the ground up in all people, places and things. And (perhaps most importantly) to be that person for someone.

Today’s post was written in response to the daily prompt:

Tell us about a time when everything seemed to be going wrong — and then, suddenly, you knew it would be alright.

I’m a believer in the growth that can come from recognizing these moments in our lives. Please share yours with me.

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Don’t Want To Miss A Thing August 25, 2013

Must. Keep. Eyes. Open. This was my mantra on August 25, 2010. All day long, it’s all I could think. I don’t know if it was pent up nervous energy, lack of sleep, or the overwhelming amount of activity all day long, but the day I was adopted was one to remember.

It started like most days at the humane society, except I could sense a bittersweet excitement in Katie (my favorite angel helper) when she let me out of my cage that day. Something was up, that much I knew, but I had no idea the adventure that day would hold. I got a bath, and a snazzy haircut, and my nails trimmed, and I felt like a million bucks. I got walked a whole bunch, and I swear Katie even snuck me an abundance of extra treats while we played outside. I didn’t realize it would be our last time playing together, but I’m kind of glad I didn’t. Sometimes it’s better that way.

As the day went on, Katie and the other angel helpers kept talking about me being adopted with mixed emotions. They were nervous for me going into a second home, hopeful this would be my forever home, and a bit sad to see me go. It was exhausting.

So when my people came to pick me up for my car ride to my forever home that afternoon, I was pooped. I was ready for an epic nap. Little did I know they lived an hour and a half away from the humane society. There I was, in the back seat of the Ford Escape with my new mom, happy and nervous and dog tired. I remember sitting there next to her doing all the things I associated with being a “good boy.” I sat. I stayed. I kept quiet.

Must. Keep. Eyes. Open.

A Younger Looking Me

My mission failed. I kept drifting in and out of consciousness in spite of my best attempts to stay awake. And yet I remember it all like it was yesterday. I remember it was incredibly hot and humid (not that unlike it is today) and mom didn’t let me sit in the seat I started in. She pulled me close and pet me and I could feel the love coming through her hands. I remember how skeptical dad seemed the whole time. I could tell he wasn’t as keen on this whole new arrangement as mom and I mentally committed that day to change that (this didn’t take long). I remember everything.

I’ve often wondered how it is I remember so much about a day so long ago (three people years is equal to about 21 doggie years depending on who you ask), considering I was struggling to stay awake the majority of that afternoon and evening. I think I got my answer today. I didn’t want to miss a thing about that special day in my life. So I didn’t. I kept the eyes of my heart open, even though the eyes on my face weren’t. So today, on the three-year anniversary of my adoption, I celebrate life. Past. Present. Future.

Must. Keep. Eyes. Open.

This was my mantra on August 25, 2010. Three years later, I share the same idea with one small alteration:

Must. Keep. Heart. Open.

It’s the only way to live.

 

Who Am I? August 15, 2013

Who am I anyway? This is a question I asked myself a few times a day during my time at the Oshkosh Humane Society. Please don’t misunderstand my question for pessimism, as that was never the intention. Conversely, the optimist in me wanted to be better. I tried and tried (perhaps too hard) to win over my visitors so they would take me home.

More often than not, they would opt for a younger (or cuter or bigger or smaller) dog and I would be left wondering what I could do differently. What could I do to stand out in the crowd?

JoyI knocked down a little girl so I could lick her face – partially because I loved her at first sight and partially because she smelled like ice cream. That didn’t work. I demonstrated my vertical jumping skills for a young man because he looked athletic and I thought he’d be impressed. That didn’t work. I did every trick I could think of when Katie (my favorite humane society caregiver) told me to sit because I wanted to impress a young couple. Some would see this as overachieving. The young couple I was trying to impress used the word stupid.

But I kept my chin up. I knew my time would come. I just had to figure out who I was before I could find my forever people. I think it is the same way with people who are looking for their person. You need to know who you are before you can share that unique personality with another person. And (let me tell you) you certainly don’t answer life’s most challenging questions of identity by trying too hard. You answer them by letting go. By not trying, but instead by being. By being yourself.

As soon as I realized and employed this philosophy, I was adopted. Sure, it was by the wrong family at first (the one with all the other animals where who I was still wasn’t clearly apparent to any of us). But it worked. I let myself be myself and they let me in – the real me, not the me trying to be something I’m not. It’s not my fault they didn’t recognize everything the real me had to offer.

And I’m glad they didn’t. Because I knew right away that my forever people did. Three years ago today I met them for the first time. My people. It was a hot and sticky day and I knew it in a moment. We went outside and mom kneeled down and I put my paws on her knees. She pet me and I knew she was the one. They immediately saw me for me and loved me for it. Joy. From the ground up, it happened that day.

Who am I? There is no longer a question in my mind. American writer and inspirational speaker Esther Hicks says it best. “You are joy, looking for a way to express. It’s not just that your purpose is joy, it is that you are joy. You are love and joy and freedom and clarity expressing energy – frolicking and eager. That is who you are.”

 

The Board of Life July 17, 2013

Personalities. Inside or outside, that’s the first thing I want to explore when I’m faced with an exciting new environment. My nose doesn’t always allow this to happen until after I have also run a perimeter check, marked some territory, and sniffed some butts (if there are other animals involved), but that doesn’t change what’s in my heart.

I realized it today when mom took me to a new dog park. It was a lot farther car ride (let’s face it, I didn’t mind that one bit) and when we got there I knew I had something pretty spectacular waiting for me inside that fence. Sure enough, there were all kinds of new smells, new dogs, and new people all just waiting for me to arrive. As I ventured around the novel space, my mind wandered to the characters I have been fortunate to meet in the various dog parks, homes, shelters, and streets I’ve had the pleasure to explore over the years.

Deep in Thought

I’ve come to think of these characters, these personalities, as those who make up my board of life. Influencers, decision-makers, and simple lovers of the present of presence make up my own personal board of directors With age and experience, the council grows and I understand more about who I am and what my purpose in life really is because of these people.

Granted, we all have characters we would probably prefer not to have met. The man with the leather belt probably tops that list for me. But even these weaker links are still very often links to something special. Without the man with the leather belt coming into my life, I would never have met Jo, a child who taught me by example what it meant to love someone unconditionally.

Rusty comes to mind as well as a major influence on my decision to embrace the good in all people, places and things. My time with my birth mom and brothers, albeit far too brief, taught me the meaning of family. Katie from the humane society, who took extra time to play with me and make me feel loved when I had never felt more lonely. She showed me the impact of compassion. And my forever mom and dad share a seat at the head of the things, bringing me into a home where I get to exercise all of these emotional lessons I’ve picked up along the way.

I didn’t come across any new board members on my journey through the new dog park today. But I did enjoy meeting the new people and dogs and getting to know their unique personalities. In doing so I realized the powers that be only shared part of the picture when they claimed everything happens for a reason. We all know that part of the story. I fear too often we forget everyone happens for a reason too.