Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

A Smile and A Garbage Can February 28, 2015

Weeks or even months can go by without it happening. Maybe it has something to do with it so often seeming much easier to complain or focus on the negative than to praise a job well done or focus on the positive. Regardless of the reason, I’m happy to report that today it happened twice.

A smile. From the ground up, it is exactly as simple as it sounds.I'm a Half Full Doggie

Today it was dear baby Carter’s smiles that made a difference in the world. Eighteen. That is how many different people’s hearts mom said he touched today with nothing more than his contagious grin. One heart in particular was touched in a slightly unexpected way.

Apparently mom and Carter were shopping the cereal aisle at Target when it happened. They came across an older lady who Carter simply loved. He smiled and giggled and smiled some more. The game continued as the duo encountered her again a few minutes later. And again in the checkout line, where the woman said it.

“I feel more loved by this little guy than I have in days,” she told mom, who was touched by the sentiment.

Then there was the garbage can. From the ground up, it is as necessary as it sounds.

A piece of plastic broke off ours recently thanks to the frigidly cold temperatures and we needed a new one. To get it, mom needed to call the city and request one be dropped off, which they said would happen in one to ten business days. So you can imagine my surprise when a new one turned up way ahead of schedule about a half hour later. It might sound silly, but that simple thing made the lives of my people a little easier, and for that I am grateful.

Kindness. From the ground up, it isn’t complicated.

Too often it seems easier to complain. Or to focus on something negative. So today I do the opposite. Today (and every day) I choose to stand for all things positive. If it happens in smiles, great. If it comes in a less conventional package (like a garbage can for example), so be it. The point is to find these things, these moments, that remind us of all the good there is in the world and do everything we can to pass it on.

 

A Kindness Too Soon November 22, 2014

Stop. Pause. Breathe. If people could learn tricks, that is what I wish I could tell them to do this time of year.

I’ve said before the holidays are a favorite time of mine, what with all the family time and music and snow and snuggling. There are few things about the holidays I don’t enjoy. But there is one thing in particular that gets to me. It happens every single year and seems to intensify as the countdown to Christmas continues.

I Am Listening!People get rude. Pushy. Rushed. And completely inconsiderate of those around them. I don’t witness much of it in person, but I hear plenty of stories exchanged between my forever people to know what’s up. It drives me crazy. Not just because it’s the season of giving. Gratitude. Unconditional love. But because of the impact this behavior has. Negativity has an awful way of spreading like a disease no one can control, and while I would hate to see that happen at any point in time, it bothers me most around the holidays.

“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late,” suggested one of my favorite transcendentalist thinkers Ralph Waldo Emerson. If there is a reason to rush this holiday season, that’s the reason.

Because this is supposed to be a season of kindness. A season to share love with others who may otherwise not receive it. This is supposed to be a time of joy, and any ignorant person in a parking lot who steals a spot from an elderly lady or shoves their way in front of someone in line or loses patience with the overworked clerk who is only in the challenging position because the store is understaffed…well, they are doing nothing but stealing joy from other people. Not sharing it.

So I say stop. Pause. Breathe. Remember what the season is really about. It’s not about the gifts or the wrapping paper or the perfect Christmas tree. Its about joy. From the ground up, that is the real reason for the season.

 

 

Random Acts of Kindness November 11, 2014

I don’t know much when it comes to the high school experience. Or school in general, I suppose, since I have made all foreseeable efforts to avoid it like the plague for the majority of my doggie life. There is a reason I’m known as an obedience school drop out, and its honestly something I bear as a badge of honor more than a black mark on my otherwise decent record.

I do know my forever parents had fairly differing experiences in high school. Mom was the A student who was in every club imaginable. Dad was the popular jock who played soccer and hung out with anyone and everyone. What united their experiences was a similar disbelief in the cliche that high school is the best years of your life. They both knew better then and live that truth to this day. Listen to me

I’m sure experiences differ from person to person as they do for my people, but I heard something about a high school today that gave me pause. Random arts of kindness. The students throughout the school are leaving various kinds of artwork throughout the halls as a scavenger hunt of sorts for all things good. They are using social media outlets like Twitter to spread the joy beyond the hallways of the school. They are exhibiting joy, from the ground up.

I don’t know much about the high school experience. But I do know enough to know this is likely something kind of special. In a society where bullying continues to play too big a role in all types of social hierarchy, it’s refreshing to hear something like this is happening in schools. It renews my sense of faith in people to do the right thing in spite of peer pressure and all kinds of other reasons not to.

And it reminds me that no matter how far out of school we are, this is what we ought to strive for in our lives. Because let’s face it, bullying doesn’t just happen in schools. Violence is not reserved for the lunchroom. And peer pressure doesn’t end when you hand in your cap and gown after graduation.

These are real things people live with every single day. Why not offset some of that with some random acts of kindness of our own? I think the methods will likely be different for everyone, but you know as well as I do the method doesn’t really matter. What matters is the heart behind it. And the heart receiving it. Because tomorrow is the first day of the rest of our lives. Together, we can make it a better place.

 

On Kindness and Diaper Wipes November 18, 2013

It’s not rocket science. I know it might be a mystery to the two-legged observer, but our canine bathroom routine is far from complicated. It’s all part of my process. I go outside, do my business, enjoy extra-curricular activities (like staring at the birds, attempting to chase off squirrels and occasionally conversing with Demon Dog), and come back inside.

I don’t use a toilet, let alone flush it. I don’t wash my paws when I’m done. And I certainly don’t use toilet paper. My Bathroom

So you can imagine how out of place I felt this weekend as I listened to a long and serious conversation my forever parents had about something called a wipes warmer. This contraption, which apparently warms diaper wipes to what is supposed to be a more comfortable temperature, has joined the ever-growing pile of baby things accumulating in the nursery. And my people are torn about its necessity amongst things like the diapers and wipes themselves.

While I consider it to be completely unnecessary (given my previously aforementioned bathroom behaviors), their conversation got me to thinking about what people refer to as the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have done to you. I highly doubt either of my people would like it if they were being woken up to go to the bathroom several times a night. Add to that some freezing cold toilet paper and you’ve got two very upset people. So why would you do essentially the same thing to a little person?

I’ll be honest. I think the wipes warmer is hogwash. But the argument for having one is incredibly solid. “Carry out a random act of kindness,” Princess Diana suggested, “with no expectation of reward, safe in  the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” While the sincerest acts of kindness and compassion require nothing in return, these things have a way of coming back to us in one way or another.

It doesn’t take much. It’s not nearly as complicated as our canine bathroom routine may seem to the two-legged observer. And it certainly doesn’t require anything to warm it to a conceivably agreed upon temperature. Something as seemingly insignificant as a smile (or in my case an enthusiastic tail wag) can contain within it more power than a thousand words. Forget the artificial warmer. Kindness. Compassion. The Golden Rule. These are the words of true warmth.

 

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.