Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Acres of Diamonds April 28, 2014

I stand for a lot of things. The least of which is a dog’s right to the occasional piece of bacon. But I also make a point to stand for the big things too. Like freedom. Love. Life. The pursuit of happiness. I live these things in my daily life. They are part of who I am.

So you can imagine how it was today to see baby Carter stand for something. He stood for himself today. At the tender age of (almost) four months old, my dear little person actually resembled a little person today. He stood on his own two legs all by himself. Kind of. He had a little support from the ottoman behind him. But it was still such a remarkable developmental milestone to witness.This is what happiness looks like

It reminded me that he is going to stand a lot in his life. It’s easy to forget this since he still spends the majority of his time in someone’s loving arms. He’s not mobile (yet). He still sleeps more than he’s awake. (Not that I can talk in that regard). But soon enough my little person will indeed be standing on his own, both literally and figuratively speaking.

He’s going to have thoughts and opinions about things. He’s going to learn right from wrong. He’s going to learn about powerful emotions. He’s going to live. It’s all so surreal to think about right now, yet I found myself wondering today what he will stand for in his life.

I hope he takes a page from my book about the bacon. If he doesn’t (apparently it’s not the best thing for people’s health), that’s okay as long as he learns to stand for the big things instead. Like freedom. Love. Life. The pursuit of happiness. And Joy. From the ground up, this is my wish today. Because as I watched dear Carter stand up today, the words of American motivational speaker Earl Nightengale came to mind.

“You are, at this moment, standing right in the middle of your own acres of diamonds,” he said. That is all I can hope for today and always.

 

If At First You Don’t Succeed February 1, 2014

The way I see it, they don’t exist. And yet, every now and then, mom says something that seems so strange. It’s such a foreign idea to me, and yet it must be true. Not everyone is a dog person Wiley, she says, usually in response to me doing something she deems intrusive to one of our visitors. (Jumping into their arms the second they sit on the couch, for example).

How can that be? We are so great. We protect. We love unconditionally with all of our being. We never judge. We listen better than most people I know. There is a reason we are called man’s best friend. And yet, if mom says it, I suppose there might be some truth to this idea that perhaps not everyone who comes to my forever home is a dog person.

Most recently, it happened when mom’s friend was over for dinner. I have this habit of scavenging for any bits of crumbs that may have made their way onto the clothes of people when they are done eating. This, of course, follows another habit I’ve been trying to kick (and failing miserably) known as begging throughout the people eating process. I blame my starved puppyhood for my instinct to sniff out any lost bits of delicious smelling food I can. But I digress as apparently these are not behaviors of a “well-mannered” canine.Selfie with the non-dog lover

Regardless of my reasons, I’m definitely a cuddle bug. (At least that is what mom calls me). I snuggle and burrow into places I barely fit all the time just to be close to people. To show them my love. So when mom says this about not everyone being a dog person (therein apologizing for my bad manners) I can’t help but take offense. I do not apologize for the way I chose to share joy with people.

This may sound forward, but I would much rather be the dog who tries to convert even the non-dog-lovers than one who doesn’t bother trying. And it would seem I have my first convert. Her name is Dorian and she was pretty tense around me when I first met her. She and mom have been friends for 14 years so this was something mom knew about her friend – she was not a dog person. She would pet me hello but that’s about it. Well I have managed to change that. Now the two of us snuggle like the best of them. And I know it to be true because the last time she was here, she told me so.

She was in the process of cooing over Carter (something I’ve come quite accustomed to) when she said it. I love you too Wiles, she said, and I think you’ve changed my mind about four-legged friends. Well that was just about one of the best compliments I’ve ever gotten. It just goes to show you, you will never know if you don’t try.

“Try and fail, but don’t fail to try,” American author Stephen King suggested. I guess it’s possible that there are non-dog lovers out there. And they are definitely missing out. But if all of this has taught me something its that you can’t take these things at face value. Because it’s always worth it to try.

 

Not-So Little Luxuries September 7, 2013

It’s kind of like counting sheep. It’s my understanding people do this sometimes to calm their minds into falling asleep. This would never calm a canine mind (for obvious reasons) but my method sure does bring me peace. I count my blessings.

The list includes the obvious characters who make up daily life (like mom and dad), as well as the less obvious things (like my special spot under my favorite tree in my backyard). Today I noticed something about the list I couldn’t keep from sharing: it never seems to get shorter. Instead, it seems only to grow to include more of the obvious (and not-so-obvious) luxuries in life.

I recognize this in itself is a blessing, and yet it got me to thinking. What would happen if something fell off the list? What if one of life’s not-so-little luxuries went away for some reason? Which could I not live without?

My constant flow of healthy food and water came to mind, followed closely by their (slightly less necessary) tasty counterparts peanut butter and bacon. And Mr. and Mrs. Prickles. Losing them would be a major problem. But I know my people would never let me go hungry. And (as much as I hate to admit it) Mr. and Mrs. Prickles are indeed replaceable (exhibits A and B: Flea and Angry Bird).  My Comfort Circle of Characters

It wasn’t until later in the day I realized what ties the list together. I tend to think through these things around the same times each day. Morning and evening. Both times have something very important in common. My bed. And I’m not talking about the dog bed in the kitchen. Nor do I understand the appeal of a dog bed (which comes home smelling like a factory) compared to a people bed (which contains all of the smells of our people us dogs long to be near at all times).

My SpotIt was not an easy battle to conquer either. I took mom down first with what I fondly refer to as “the look” combined with my persuasive cuddling skills. Getting dad to agree to the arrangement was a whole other game entirely. I had to be strategic about it. And patient. Until one night (after more than two years of effort on my part) “the look” and my cuddling skills struck again.

Since then I’ve secured my spot in the bed and I will not let it go for all the dog treats in the world. It’s ridiculously comfortable. It smells heavenly. And it’s where I count my blessings at morning and at night. But the more I think about it, I suppose even the bed itself is replaceable at least to a certain extent. Because (as much as it is indeed the coziest bit of people-smelling cloud a dog could ask for) it’s so much more than a bed.

As American screenwriter Francis Ford Coppola reminds us “I like simplicity; I don’t need luxury.” I suppose I don’t need luxury either. I just need my people. It’s that simple. So as I count my blessings tonight from my perch on the bed, I give thanks not for the comfy cloud itself. Rather I give thanks for its representation of the love I have for my people, and their love for me. Ultimately I think that is the luxury I truly could not live without.

 

Faith In the Future July 14, 2013

“Make the most of your regrets,” Henry David Thoreau once said. “Never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.”

Yesterday, I wrote about five things I would attempt to save if my house was burning down. Reflecting on the contradictory definitions a “spark,” I focused more on the fire than its aftermath. Its so easy to do in the heat of the moment. Why is it that in so many cases we don’t appreciate what we have until its gone?

Today, I realized all of the precious things I left behind. Practical things came to mind like my warm doggie bed and my Packer jersey. But I know those are replaceable. They’re just things.

Far more devastating are the memories lost in the ashes. I’ll never forget the first day my parents brought me home and let me explore my new house. All those hours spent playing fetch with Mrs. Prickles in the hallway. The first day mom let me come up on the bed. Money can’t buy back these memories.

I take a two-fold lesson from this experiment in thought. (See, there is always a silver lining).

1) Savor the small things. There are so many ways to lose sight of the importance of special moments in our lives. But there is a reason money can’t buy memories. Moments are priceless. There are groundbreaking days when major milestones make things easy to remember, but as Sarah Ban Breathnach points out in Simple Abundance “there is a lot of drudgery in most days.” These are the days we need to seek out joy in the small things.

2) Respect the past as preparation for the future. It’s all too easy to take things for granted. If we surrender to life’s simplicities and appreciate what we have on a daily basis, the future will be that much brighter. “I never regret anything,” says actress Drew Barrymore, “because every little detail of your life is what made you into who you are in the end.”

It is with my past in a special place in my heart that I find faith in the future. With faith as my fuel, I know my dreams will always be more exciting than my memories.

Today’s post is dedicated to Mandy Atkielski.

Eighteen-year-old Mandy entered doggie heaven yesterday. She will be missed.

My thoughts and prayers are with the family.

Mandy

Related articles
 

Pawprints in the Sand April 22, 2013

Remembering RustyI heard some pretty sad news today. A doggie friend of mine out in cyberspace went to doggie heaven on Saturday. I was never fortunate enough to meet Rusty in person, but my mom and the people in his life were pals back in a place in time called high school. She remembers her time spent with him fondly, as I understand he shared my belief in joy, from the ground up.

His people have been showered with love and prayers on all sorts of social media today, and I find myself reflective of not only the blessing of life, but the blessing of the people (and pets) in it. I do enjoy my routines, but I can’t help but notice that sometimes the familiar scenery starts to lose its color. The characters don’t change much from day to day. One day blurs into another and it becomes all-too-easy to forget to pause to appreciate the tulips sprouting from the grass or the person who takes the time to pet you at the dog park.

Just as people funerals are meant to be a celebration of life, I pause today to remember Rusty in the way I know he would want to be remembered. Reading all the comments from his loved ones on Facebook this afternoon, I realized people and dogs alike need at least one Rusty in their lives. Every now and then, we need someone to help us through those tough moments.

I met my Rusty my first night at the Oshkosh Humane Society, and his is a legacy I will never forget. I had one of my darkest hours that night, to the point that I resigned to thinking it might be my last. Then I met my 15-year-old golden retriever neighbor Rusty and I didn’t know it then, but he would change my life forever in a single night. On this awful night when I had given up, Rusty reminded me that sometimes we get pushed on our backs to force us to look up and see some sunshine.Rusty

Like my Rusty, I’m certain the other Rusty in my life wouldn’t have wanted us to mourn his loss, but rather to carry on, as in the words of a popular song I just can’t get out of my head recently.

“If you’re lost and alone, or you’re sinking like a stone, carry on,” sings Nate Ruess of Fun. “May your past be the sound of your feet upon the ground, carry on.” Best of all, the song reminds and encourages us all to be shining stars, or (as I see it through the lenses of my reflective day) to be a Rusty in someone’s life.

So today I pause in honor of the Rusty’s in my life to be conscious of my surroundings. I find myself thinking about my path in life, appreciating everyone who has carried me through my difficult times. I stop to find a way to carry on, to bring light to someone having a dark day, to be the Rusty someone needs to carry them through. Rest in peace, dear Rusty. You will not be forgotten.

 

Love the questions by living the answer January 1, 2013

I’ve got a bone to pick with George Eliot. While she is a beloved English novelist and journalist in the Victorian era, she got animals all wrong.

“Animals are such agreeable friends,” she once said, “they ask no questions; they pass no criticisms.” There is no question that dogs are man’s best friend. As such, we love unconditionally and without criticism. That much is true. But the mention of our perspective on questions is where she went wrong.

Big or small, my mind is full of questions…how does that squirrel keep outrunning me in the backyard? Are those animals on the moving picture window real? What is my purpose in life?

Wiley QuestionDay two with Simple Abundance challenges me to ponder the value of these questions. “The answer to your questions will come, but only after you know which ones are worth asking,” Breathnach writes.

The insightfully witty French philosopher Voltaire takes it so far as to suggest one “judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.” Well, that is a might high order for day two of this, my very own existential journey. Especially since I have every intention of answering the challenge with what might be the most important questions of all – what are my most important questions in life? How can I narrow it down to the ones that matter most?

For inspiration I turn to Johnny Depp, who happens to be one of my favorite actors.

“There are four questions of value in life…” he said. “What is sacred? Of what is the spirit made? What is worth living for, and what is worth dying for? The answer to each is the same. Only love.”

I seek my ultimate inquisition in that answer: only love. If it is having too many question that I fear, I shall embrace them rather than turn them away. I will love the questions because I live the answer.