Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Life’s Power Outages June 27, 2013

The sky cried so hard today the tears did some serious damage in my neighborhood. I usually do all right with storms, but I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced one like this alone before. My people were still at the place called work, which seemed unusual since it was incredibly dark outside. The lightning was blinding and the thunder deafening. The wind seemed to shake the house and I thought the rain was going to break into the house somehow. Then the power went out and all I could do was wait.

Everything quieted down outside, but pandemonium continued when dad got home and let me outside. Trees are down and power is out throughout the neighborhood, I heard a stranger tell my dad, and basements are flooding everywhere. We were fortunate that our basement was the exception to the rule, but our neighbors on either side weren’t so lucky. And that’s when I heard something I didn’t really want to believe. Our friendly neighbor man died suddenly on Sunday, the stranger told my dad. I remember hearing the sirens and seeing the lights on Sunday night and saying a prayer that everything was okay. It wasn’t.

I felt like I’d gotten kicked in the doggie gut. The man was fairly young in people years (in his 50s I would guess), and had been having some health problems, but I didn’t think it was that bad. They just had everyone in the family over to their house that day. I’d never seen it that busy before. And it was incredibly hot and humid on Sunday but everyone was together and happy. There was all kinds of giggling children running around and tents and food and a bouncy house. It was the perfect day. Until it wasn’t.

I’m no stranger to loss so I can say with confidence that the friendly neighbor lady the man left behind probably feels like she’s in her own kind of power outage right now. Everything seems dark around her except for perhaps the occasional unwelcomed burst of thunder and splash of lightning. Its so much easier to see darkness instead of light right now. But what matters are those flashlights and candles, those light bulbs and lanterns, who bring the light into the dark. People have been in and out of that house constantly since it happened, offering their own sources of light. Candle of Light

The sky cried hard today. It brought down some trees and power lines. We lost power for a few hours. But ultimately the power was restored. Life’s power outages can ironically be pretty powerful sometimes. Whether we are alone or surrounded by people, these storms can take away our senses and leave us in the darkness. The wind can shake us to our core. And the tears feel like they will never stop. But they will. Just as all power outages eventually come to an end, the good news is with the help of life’s flashlights, candles, light bulbs and lanterns, our power too is eventually restored.

 

Lanterns of Love May 12, 2013

Every visitor to she Schmidt home is welcomed by the same message above the stairway as they walk in the door. “Home is where your story begins.” I see it every day, yet today it speaks to me and I see it in a different light. I think it’s because today is mother’s day in my neck of the woods; a day set aside to show gratitude and respect for everything one’s mother has done in his or her life. I’m blessed to have more than one of these characters as lanterns of love in my life, so today I take a moment’s paws to recognize each one.

Dear birth mom,

It’s Wiley. Your son. I know it’s been a while (almost five years now), and words can’t tell you how sorry I am that is the case. Our time together was short-lived, but I want you to know how special each moment was to me. Age and experience has taught me how challenging it must have been caring for my two brothers and I all by yourself. I’m so proud of you. And I want you to know I’m okay. Well, actually I’m better than okay. I’m spectacular. I’m happy. And I found a forever home with people who love me so much they sometimes squeeze me so hard I can’t breathe. They take really good care of me, mom. I wish you could meet them and they could take care of you too. Are you okay out there? I sure hope so. You deserve to live happiness like this. Wherever you are, please know I love you now as much as I ever did.

With all the love in my little doggie heart,

Wiles

Dear Jo,

Remember me? I was your little buddy in the house with the man and the leather belt. I hate that he took me away from you that day all those people years ago. I miss you every day and pray you are living a the life you deserve to live, with any luck separate from that awful dad of yours. Even though you were only a little girl, I know you would have done everything you could to keep me from harm’s way. You were a hero to me, a mother in your own rite. If there is one thing I’d want you to know above all else, it is that you will be a fantastic mother one day. Never doubt yourself.

With all the love in my little doggie heart,

Wiles

Dear Katie,

You probably don’t remember me. I am one of so very many doggies you help at the Oshkosh Humane Society, and it’s been almost three years now since you last saw me. But sometimes it is those who we meet in passing that make some of the most distinguished impacts on our life, and this is true of you. You didn’t do it for praise or adoration, and that’s why every little thing you did for me meant so very much. You are a living example of a servant leader. Thank you.

With all the love in my little doggie heart,

Wiles

Dear forever mom,

Thank YOUI know you haven’t always been dealt the easiest hands of cards to play in life. I know you struggle with some things more than you let on.

More than once I’ve seen you stop and look away from yourself in the mirror, just like Sarah Ban Breathnach talks about in the early pages of Simple Abundance. I’ve seen you cry, and heard you question you direction in life. Sometimes you talk to me about your feelings and I wish more than anything I could tell you I understand (at least the majority) of what you’re saying. I’d start with telling you to see yourself the way the world sees you. You are beautiful, strong, and confident (even if you doubt it). You are more special to me than you will ever possibly know. As my number one fan, I know you are reading my blog, so I will share with you a sample of Breathnach’s words that speak to me.

“Turn away from the world this year and begin to listen,” she writes. “Listen to the whispers of your heart. Look within. Your silent companion has lit lanterns of love to illuminate the path to Wholeness. At long last, the journey you were destined to take has begun.”

I love you mom. Let me be a lantern of love for you.

With all the love in my little doggie heart,

Wiles

Home is where your story begins, and I can honestly say each of these women has been home to me. Lanterns of love for me. They are all important characters that define chapters of my life, and I would not be who I am without each and every one of them. Today I say thank you these women. And today I say thank you to all the women who are these characters to people (and pets) in your lives. You know who you are. Thank you.

 

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.

 

Let me be a Lantern of Love January 5, 2013

You know something I’ve heard people say a whole lot that I think is a bunch of poppycock? God only gives us what we can handle. I say this as a regular and active observer of people in a wide variety of emotional situations. The people who returned me to the humane society. The people who cared for me at the humane society. And even my current people in my forever home.

Person one says this to person two, who generally nods and accepts a hug from person one. Person two thanks person one for the for the sentiment. Then, shortly after person one has either left or ended that portion of the conversation, person two gets really upset.

“God only gives us what we can handle?!” they say (sometimes scream). “I’ve never heard something so ridiculous/stupid/untrue/insert-swear-word-here in my life.” I’ve been witness to this verbal exchange often enough that not only do I recognize it, but I find myself wishing I could somehow console the clearly suffering person. I try, in my way, but I know there’s no antidote to their emotional strife.

Just like I was separated from my mom too soon, my forever mom was taken away from her dad. He was gone before I could have met him, but from what I can tell, he was a pretty neat guy. Not a born dog lover, but I know my charms would have easily won him over. He died suddenly, and I know mom has struggled with that.

More than once I’ve seen her stop and look away from herself in the mirror, just like Breathnach talks about in today’s challenge to be who you were meant to be. I’ve seen her cry, and heard her question her direction in life. Sometimes she talks to me about her feelings and I wish more than anything I could tell her I understand (at least the majority) of what she’s saying. I wish so badly I could comfort her in a better way than those that say that silly thing about what we can or cannot handle.

As my number one fan, I know she is reading my blog, so I will share with her what I would share from my experience with Simple Abundance today.

“Turn away from the world this year and begin to listen,” Breathnach writes. “Listen to the whispers of your heart. Look within. Your silent companion has lit lanterns of love to illuminate the path to Wholeness. At long last, the journey you were destined to take has begun.”

I love you mom. Let me be a lantern of love for you this year.

Me and my number one fan