Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Leaving A Legacy February 16, 2014

I don’t have money. Or property in Hawaii. Or antiques. When it comes to possessions, all I really have is my comfort circle (otherwise known as my toy collection), my food, and some treats. And the fur on my back. That’s about it.

I don’t know if it’s the recent arrival of my dear little person. Or maybe the fact that my sixth birthday is rapidly approaching. But lately this is all I can think about. Legacy. What is mine worth? I know this is how wealth management professionals make a living, advising people on financial plans for the future and beyond. But I’m pretty sure there aren’t many doggie financial advisors out there.Legacy Looks Like This

And maybe it’s better that way. This occurred to me yesterday morning as I shared a very special moment with my forever family. We were gathered together in the bedroom, all five of us, when it happened. The sun was shining through the windows but that’s not where the warmth in the room was coming from. Not for me at least. My heart was glowing with the sincerest of joys as snuggled up to baby Carter, who was snuggled up to dad, who was holding hands with mom. I realized exactly what my legacy will look like in those moments.

It’s not that much unlike American songstress Tina Turner who said “my legacy is that I stayed on course…from the beginning to the end, because I believed in something inside of me.”

I don’t have money or property or anything of monetary value. I bet even if I tried to sell the beloved members of my comfort circle, I wouldn’t come up with much. But that doesn’t really matter. Because I have the fur on my back and the love in my heart. Legacy. I have exactly as much to pay forward as I choose to have. It’s worth whatever I want it to be worth.

And these paws have a lot to offer the world. Like life lessons. And everything that matters to me. And joy. From the ground up, that is what I want my legacy to be.

 

Oh Christmas Tree December 18, 2013

A chubby fisherman. A pickle. Yoda. These are all random pieces that make up the whole of the Schmidt family Christmas tree. I found myself browsing the ornaments today from my perch in the windowsill and I realized how incredibly random they are.The tree and I

There are snowflakes, and a frog, and a stand mixer, and (gasp!) even a picture of me scattered throughout the tree. Each ornament has its own story, starting with the ones mom and dad both got as children. Then there are the ones they’ve purchased together through their time as a couple. “Our First Christmas” 2004 is among mom’s favorites. This year, a stork joined the mix to commemorate the impending arrival of our little person.

It’s its own kind of melting pot of stories and memories. And that too is a random piece that makes up the whole of society. It’s different for everyone. I’d venture to say it’s safe to assume no two Christmas trees are alike. Each one tells a story (or stories) of the home it graces. There are big trees and little trees and real trees and fake ones. There are trees filled to the brim with beautifully coordinated ornaments and trees of random memories collected through the years.

As I found myself somewhat entranced by the lights today, I realized there is something more than beauty to be taken from these trees. Just as they take on their own unique sense of personality, we too have our stories that make us who we are. And, depending on the circumstances, we may not share them as openly as we could. I understand from a practical standpoint why a Christmas tree only on display for a short time each year, but I see no reason why this should be true of our unique senses of identity. That should always be shared.

Even if it comes randomly, like in the form of a tiny pig or a plaque that reads “Nothing Is Impossible to a Willing Heart” on the Christmas tree. Because I’m not certain whether stories inspire life or life inspires stories. And maybe it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the stories get shared.

 

Dear Future Me March 1, 2013

My neighborhood pal Sammy made an appearance in my backyard today. His parents let him wander around without a leash. I envy that about him. Family is at the core of his life too, with his parents and his grandparents both living in a couple of houses down the road from us.

He is one of the older and wiser dogs in the neighborhood, and I have come to respect him a great deal. We’ve had our fair share of playtime in the snow, wrestling in the mud, and moments when I’ve been able to learn from his mysteriously silent demeanor. I’m always surprised by what I learn from our sporadic moments of silence together. Like many, today’s lesson came as quite a surprise to me.

Unlike Sammy’s parents, mine make a point to leash me in our almost-completely-fenced-in backyard. My lead allows me to roam the majority of the yard, but no further. I know it is for my own protection, but I didn’t understand why until today. I overheard my parents discussing this issue and couldn’t help but pay close attention. If you put him on his leash, dad said, there is no reason we shouldn’t have at least 12-14 more years with him. What a morbidly awful thing to overhear. Yet it brings to the surface something I see in Sammy, who has had some serious health issues lately: I won’t be around forever. My days are numbered. And like Pope John Paul II said, “the future starts today, not tomorrow.”

My future starts today with reflections of my past and present. My adoptive parents are already so attached to me, I can’t say where their emotions will be after 12-14 more years. And I know part of their plan is to adopt another dog when I start to get older to ease with the unavoidable truth that they will most likely outlive me. Truth be told, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love them unconditionally and can say with all honesty that I will die happy knowing my successor is in place to make sure they keep smiling after I’m gone.

But my encounter with Sammy today reminded me there are some things the future me needs to know. Abraham Lincoln once said “the best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.” So today I make it a point to bring the future to life by penning a detailed letter to my future me.

Dear future me,

I know if you’re reading this, it means I am living the high life in doggie heaven. Sadly that means I have left the life of love and gratitude in my forever home, but fortunately for both of us you are there to fill my paw prints. I’m a simple dog, and I don’t have any reason to believe my paw prints will be too big for you to fill. But there are some things you need to know:

1) No doesn’t really mean no if you sit nicely and make a cute enough face.
2) Try not to pester dad too much at night. I know he secretly loves the interaction, but he needs his quiet alone time to reboot too.
3) Mom is pretty special. Don’t let her forget it.
4) Being “emotionally needy” is a compliment, not a criticism.
5) Barking at all sorts of animals on the moving picture window (animated, robotic, live, or otherwise) is not acceptable, whereas barking to protect from any kind of wrongdoing most definitely is acceptable.
6) Find something to be thankful for each day, then find a way to share the gratitude you feel.
7) Never turn down affection. It’s always a good time for a hug.
8) Dance like no one’s watching (this is one of mom’s favorite things to do).
9) Love with all your heart and life will never let you down.
10) Live each day like it were your last walk around the dog park.

You should know there is so much more I wish I could tell you. I am fortunate enough to have had many mentors in my days who have taught me so much either by their actions or their words. One of the most important things they taught me was to believe in myself and the power I have to share joy with the world. You share that same potential. Know that joy is yours to find and yours to share in all you do.Dear Future Me

Forever yours,
Wiles