Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Moments Like These October 31, 2014

As goblins and ghouls take to the record-settingly chilly streets of my beloved neighborhood for trick or treat tonight, I pause and remember a truth of mine I don’t think I’ve ever shared before. I used to be afraid of the dark. I know it’s an unusual thing for a dog, and I’ve spent the greater part of my canine adult life trying to figure out why.Trick or treat

It isn’t like there is a traumatic event or something involving darkness in my past. Nor is there anything in particular I can recall that aided in my recovery from the admittedly silly aversion I once had. Or so I thought. I found myself pondering this as darkness fell today (it falls earlier and earlier this time of year) and I realized I can indeed trace back the day of my new-found fearlessness.

It was the day after I lost Rusty, my pal from the humane society who was the only reason I survived my first night there. He went down a hallway and never came back that day, but his words stayed with me long after I last saw his wagging tail. He encouraged me to find the light. To see the bright side in even the darkest of situations. And that day, I made the decision to do just that.

My persuasion toward light has never faltered, but somehow my choice that day has led me to find the light in the darkness that dissolves my former fears on an almost daily basis.

Like tonight, as I knew craziness was happening in the darkness on the streets of my neighborhood, something special was happening inside the walls of my forever home. The bedtime routine hasn’t changed much, but dad has gotten more involved with it in the last couple of months. That was the case as usual again tonight, as he held Carter and mom said his bedtime prayers. Carter put his little head on dad’s shoulder and left it there as he drifted peacefully into dreamland almost instantly upon mom’s recital of the prayer. I stood by, as I always do, playing my (albeit silent) role in the whole routine.

I realized in that moment it doesn’t matter how dark it is in the room when this all unfolds. The love illuminates all of our hearts so brightly there is no reason to so much as question the darkness. As we all sneaked silently out of the room, I felt overwhelmed with the warmth of the loving glow in the room. Sometimes I’m in awe of how a decision I made so long ago can have such a profound impact in moments like these.

 

 

A Little Sunshine October 16, 2014

It’s a pretty easy thing to take for granted. It’s there so much more than it isn’t, so I think that’s part of the problem. But I’ve certainly missed it around here the last few days. Sunshine. From the ground up, its light has the power to warm the soul. Backyard Happiness

I do sincerely love and appreciate the beauty of fall and all the things it brings with it. This you know. The last few days I was reminded why I sometimes doubt my love of this spectacular season. It has been cloudy and rainy and downright dreary for four or five days now. I find its easier to lose count when you succumb to the darkness.

I didn’t even realize I had indeed let the weather get to me until the sun slowly revealed itself this afternoon. It was like seeing a long lost friend. There I was in one of my favorite spots in my forever home – the windowsill in the living room. (My beloved forever people call it my perch). As the light shined in through the blinds, I felt it warm my fur and somehow it seemed to soak right through to my soul.

It must have had a similar effect on mom, because it was a matter of a few seconds before dear baby Carter was bundled up and in his stroller and it was time for a walk around my neighborhood. The crisp fall air smelled so much better with the light shining down around us. The leaves fell from the trees in the beautiful silent way they do. I pranced. Carter giggled. Mom smiled. It was a happy moment for the three of us.

It was a reminder to me to cherish the sunshine. It was a reminder not to let the darkness get to me because the sun will shine again. It was a reminder to live in the moment instead of longing for something you can’t have. Because if you do these things, there is no way the dreary things in life can conquer your spirit. If you do these things, you bottle up the sunshine for the bad days. If you do these things, you have the power to warm your own soul, whether or not the sun is shining.

Take that, dreary Wisconsin fall.

 

Life’s Little Messages August 1, 2014

It’s probably going to sound ridiculous. But that’s never stopped me before, so I’m certainly not going to let it stop me now. I’m a believer that things happen for a reason. This we all know to be true. But sometimes my faith is sparked in a way that can only be described as contagious.

I speak, of course, of moments in life when it’s like the message we need to hear finds us right when we need to hear it. Has this ever happened to you?

Feeling reflective

It happened to mom this morning when she ordered her first fully caffeinated vanilla latte in a year and a half. She has been so careful with everything she drank while she was pregnant with dear baby Carter and continued to proceed with caution throughout nursing. But today, in a moment of weakness, she gave in to the urge to indulge. She was a little nervous about some sort of presentation she was asked to give at that place called work, and felt the indulgence would somehow calm her nerves.

Had I been with her, I would have advised against such things, but I digress. It was not the coffee that calmed her (I could have told her that), but the message written on it:

“Know what sparks the light in you,” suggested American talk-show host turned entrepreneurial genius Oprah Winfrey, “then use that light to illuminate the world.”

I know how ridiculous it might sound. But I believe as much in those words as I do they were meant to find my mom today. And, in finding her, they found me. Light. From the ground up, I feel it is my duty to share it with you as best I know how. Because I’m a believer that things happen for a reason. That way when life’s little messages fall from heaven, I’m ready and waiting with open paws.

 

Days Like This July 10, 2014

It started last night. Dear baby Carter was upset. To be honest, I haven’t seen him this upset in a long while. In general, he naps about as much as I do throughout the day (which is a lot) and (as a result) is a generally happy baby. I’ve witnessed the effect his joy can have on people in public, and I think it’s all to do with his great napping schedule. But last night was not one of his good days. He was crying and nothing calmed him except when mom walked around the house holding him. So that’s what she did for as long as it took to put him to sleep.

Again today, I watched as more than one person attempted to calm him and nothing worked. I feel so helpless in these situations. The poor kid is teething (which I’ve heard is a nightmare), growing (which is apparently quite painful) and had shots yesterday (been there). And, as a result of all of this, he slept very little and ultimately gave his caregivers a run for their money today. Not to mention the effect his screaming had on my sleep. As one who naps pretty frequently himself, you’d think maybe he’d show some respect. But today involved no such thing. Today involved no such joy. Love

Instead, today was “one of those days,” as I’ve heard people call it. But I’ve also heard people say “there’d be days like this.” It’s a part of life. It helps us appreciate when times are good, which (at least in my humble doggie opinion) is much more frequent than days like today.

For me, the hard part was seeing that light that usually burns so brightly within dear baby Carter flicker today. His light brings such joy to so many people, it pains me to see him this unhappy. But, just as I know today is one of those days in the valley that reminds us to look toward the mountains, I was reminded of the importance of finding another source of light when the power goes out. Another source of joy is always within our reach.

Today it happened in the sun. Dear baby Carter was far more upset than I’ve seen him in a long while. When I thought for sure he would not stop crying, mom tried something that warmed my heart. She put us together on a blanket outside in the beautiful summer weather to play. At least for a few brief moments, Carter was happy, which means mom was happy, which means my heart was happy. It’s funny how that works.

“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful,” suggested my favorite transcendentalist thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson, “for beauty is God’s handwriting.” Like any handwriting, I think His can be hard to understand sometimes, but the message itself is clear. There will be days like this, but it’s up to us to find the beauty that makes them worth living anyway.

 

I’ll Be A Flashlight June 30, 2014

It’s not the first time it has happened, and I know it won’t be the last. Albeit briefly, we lost power for a bit tonight. For a few precious minutes it was darkness in my dear forever home, and I’m not going to lie. I loved it.

Please do not misunderstand. I love technology (when used for the right reasons) just as much as the next pup. But for me, sometimes there is nothing better than when there aren’t any screens in sight around here. I’m not kidding when I say it was brief either. We’re talking five to ten minutes. But I also do not kid when I say how special those five to ten minutes are to me when they happen. Happiness

Because these things do happen around here from time to time. Not so much last summer, but throughout the early summertime the years prior there was a lot of similar storms that tore through the area with all of their might. And (again) while I do not endorse the damage I know can happen in light of such events, I do wholeheartedly support the emotional connections that can happen when there is no electricity in a home.

Feeling Sleepy On the JobThe first time it happened with me around was a night my people will not forget any time soon. I remember it vividly since it involved flooding and a lot of activity in the neighborhood. I was in awe of how well everyone  banded together to make sure everyone in the neighborhood who needed power had it. Though there was no need for such a partnership tonight, I observed my own sunshine amidst the overcast clouds.

It probably comes as no surprise to anyone that it came from dear baby Carter, who today turned six months old. Oh, how I do love his little self and all it embodies. I love his smile and all it means. I love him and all the love he brings to others.

I was reminded today of the importance of light and the bearing it can give to others. I forget that sometimes, but it’s easy to be reminded of such things when the power goes out and there is no light in my dear forever home. Albeit for a brief period of time, I’ve noticed that time and time again it doesn’t matter how many lights may be lit within my special place. Because there is light enough within my people to keep the light of joy shining brightly around here. And if it dims, I will be the flashlight that brings things back into focus.

 

Searching for the Light June 12, 2014

It might sound silly. I am obviously happier than I have ever been with my forever family and our new addition otherwise known as dear baby Carter. And it doesn’t happen often. But every now and then from time to time I find myself longing for one special thing from a past life of mine. A lighthouse. Light.

During my time in Port Washington, Wisconsin, I lived with a family who had several other cats and dogs and that just didn’t work for me. I am now (dog) man enough to admit I acted out for attention in a variety of ways, including (but not limited to) running away frequently. It wasn’t unheard of for me to jump the four-foot fence that encompassed the backyard, just to spite my owners at the time for not paying proper attention to me. It would be one thing if I felt loved, however there were days they forgot to fill my food and water bowls. Nonetheless, that past is past now.

But as my friends and family know, it is a personal goal of mine to make my past a vivid part of inspiration for my future. So today I thought about the good things. Today I thought about the memories and experiences I gained while I lived with that family. (That is, before they returned me to the humane society for being a nuisance). Good, bad, and ugly, there was one image that kept repeating in my mind. In Port Washington there is this lighthouse. It’s way out into the lake, but there is a stony path leading to it for people who want to visit. I have never been such a visitor, but I know my people have. And I know many (many) before (and after) them have as well.

It’s one of those landmarks I wish I could have brought with me to my new forever home. Not just because it seems to bring its visitors joy. It’s bigger than that. It brings them light. From the ground up, this is one of the very most important things an object can do for a person if you ask me. Because as one of my favorite transcendentalist thinkers Ralph Waldo Emerson but it, “what lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

So it might sound silly. But from now on when I find myself longing for the lighthouse I know what I need to do. I need to dig deep and remember both what is behind and in front of me. Light. From the ground up, I know one thing for sure. This is what is within me.

 

Light Will Guide Me Home June 7, 2014

I don’t know much about the people thing called money. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – when it comes to all things green stuff, I’m pretty clueless. Maybe it’s that I don’t see colors all that well. But I do know it can’t buy happiness. It doesn’t truly “fix” anything.

I thought of it as mom sang dear baby Carter his favorite lullaby today. It might sound silly, but he loves this song. I think it’s because mom does, but (the way I see it) that’s how it should be. It started because mom was overtired in those early days when Carter came home and couldn’t remember a typical lullaby. There are a whole bunch she could have sang to him, but she chose this one. And five months later, it still seems to do the trick.

“When you try your best, but you don’t succeed,” croons Coldplay’s Chris Martin in “Fix You,” “When you get what you want but not what you need. When you feel so tired but you can’t sleep, stuck in reverse. When the tears come streaming down your face. When you lose something you can’t replace. When you love someone but it goes to waste, could it be worse? Lights will guide you home and ignite your bones and I will try to fix you.”

It’s the same Coldplay favorite mom and dad danced to last the night they were married. And it had taken on a whole new meaning now, thanks (I think) primarily to the lack of sleep referenced early in the song. But also thanks to the tears.

ChallengeThey happen around here from time to time. And If I thought mom (or dad’s very occasional) tears ripped my dear little doggie heart out, I had no idea what to expect. Carter’s tears, especially in those early days, tore my little doggie heart to pieces. I wanted nothing more than to do exactly as that Coldplay song said. I wanted to fix it.

While his moments of sheer and complete terror to the point of the kind of tears of the early days have gotten few and far between, I often seek refuge in the dark cover of the basement when it happens. But today as mom sang those words, the words of an unexpectedly perfectly fitting lullaby, to dear little Carter, it came to me.

I don’t know much about money. While I know it doesn’t buy happiness, if I were to someday come across a large some of money for some silly reason I know exactly what I would spend it on. I would fix as many people as possible. I would use it for scholarships or grants or foundations or whatever would help make the world get out of reverse. I know money probably can’t actually fix anything, but I would do what I could.

And if money doesn’t work, I know light will. Joy. From the ground up, I will find a way to make the crying stop. Babies, adults and elderly alike. That is my mission. I don’t have to know much about money to know that.

 

Follow The Light May 18, 2014

I’m a believer in the whole idea of a window opening when life closes a door. This probably comes as no surprise since I also support finding a silver lining in most situations and choosing to see the good in people, places and things. But there is something I do struggle a bit to understand. Something that seems to stand right in the way of me finding that open window. Because when death happens the door closes. Hard. Reflecting

I’ve been blessed so far in life to lose very few close friends. But I will be honest. I’ve never dealt well with loss and grief and the heartbreak these things bring to the survivors. Sure, I believe in the idea that the person is in a better place, but what about the people left behind? Our place is a little bit worse because that person left a big ole whole in our heart no one else can fill. I got to thinking about this today when I heard something someone said on the moving picture window (otherwise known as a TV). There was a woman, a mother, who had lost her son to a tragic car accident a couple of years ago.

She too struggled with finding silver lining in such a terrible situation. I had a little doggie heart attack thinking of what would happen to mom if anything like that ever happens to dear baby Carter. I wondered how on Earth does someone bounce back from such an awful thing? That’s when she said it.

“I follow his light,” said the woman. “He’s always there reminding me to keep on going.”

Death. From the ground up, there is something about it that seems so final. Like that door is closed for good. And in most ways it is. But only to the point you let it be. Only if you don’t keep the faith and find that window. And if it’s not open, you find a way to open it. You find a way to let the light in. Because therein lies the silver lining – in the light that keeps you going.

 

The End of The Tunnel April 27, 2014

I’m sure it looks different for everyone. In its various forms, the darkness has a way of encompassing us sometimes. Be it in a job we hate. Or a project that never ends. Maybe in a toxic relationship. Or, in the case of this four-legged life lover, the foe otherwise known as winter. It was awfully nasty this year, despite the bundle of joy it delivered into the lives of my family. (Thank goodness for that!)

Seriously though. Between the record low temperatures, and the snow sneezes that kept coming down on us every couple of days, it was a pretty epically horrendous winter in Wisconsin. And that’s coming from someone who knows winter in Wisconsin. Not to mention someone who makes a point of not complaining about things. I seek to find the good in all people, places and things, and all this talk about terrible weather has certainly not been filled with much (if any) of my usual silver-lining perspective.

Until now. Because the other day it was 70 degrees for the first time in seven months. It was gorgeous outside. And I got to spend time reveling in it all with my beloved family in my backyard paradise. That’s when I realized something I guess I’ve always known but never really paid attention to about that light at the end of the tunnel.

It is so very important because it keeps us going. It motivates us to be better. To do better. To live better. Because it’s always there, guiding the way. But maybe more importantly, the wait is always worth it. Sometimes the longer the struggle, the higher the mountain, the darker the times – the more sincere the joy is when you reach the end. When you reach the light.

That’s certainly how I felt the other day as my whole family laughed together and I wagged and they laughed and none of us knew which came first. I know it looks different for everyone. It happens at different times and varying frequencies for all of us. And I don’t think it’s ever the same twice. Except maybe it is in that one crucial way. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel. We just need to focus to see it.

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I Said To The Darkness February 21, 2014

It happened in an instant, as these things usually do. I saw the sunlight at the end of a very dark tunnel the other day. Literally. After what has arguably been one of the most challenging Wisconsin winters I’ve survived we were hit with some seriously warm rays of sunshine. It was almost 50 degrees and I half expected my people to break out their swim suits.

SnowInstead mom broke out her running shoes (good choice) and I went on a very memorable walk around my dear neighborhood with my mom, my aunt, and Carter. It was my first walk with Carter and (to be honest) he didn’t seem to really notice we were outside. But I sure did.

The wind was blowing and it was not the bone chilling cold wind of late. It was the wind of spring. Sure, there is still about a solid two feet of snow everywhere. And when the sun went down it took the warmth with it. I didn’t mind because it’s coming. The end is near. Winter is almost over.

So you can imagine my dismay when I overheard on the television today that we are due for more frigid temperatures next week. Albeit disappointing, I have to admit it was a lot easier to take after that one day of respite from the cold. After I saw the light at the end of the tunnel.

Darkness has no power over light, just as negativity has no power over hope. “The light which puts out our eyes is darkness to us,” suggested transcendentalist thinker Henry David Thoreau. “Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.”

It’s a pretty powerful thing to be sure. Seeing that light, even for a brief instant, can recharge the soul in such an overwhelmingly fulfilling way. The moment may have been fleeting, but its impact remains.

To view a video of our walk: https://vine.co/v/MZDBi59lHAi