Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

A Baby Laughing January 22, 2014

I’ve never been too big a fan of mirrors. I know barking and cowering are fairly common canine responses to them, but I do neither of these things. Instead I feel nothing. Emotionally indifferent I guess you could say. In general I don’t particularly care for the effect I know they can have on people, especially women.

So I choose to direct my attention elsewhere. I prefer to find joy. From the ground up, it was easy to find today. It happened on my living room floor with my other baby pal Alexis (daughter of mom’s friend Jessica). There we were staring at each other when it happened. She laughed.

If joy had a sound, a baby laughing would be it. It’s not the first time I’ve experienced such things, but each time it happens teaches me a new lesson about true and sincere happiness.Joy.

Today it taught me joy doesn’t come from a mirror. It simply can’t. But if you reflect joy, if you put it out there in front of you, it is likely to reflect right back at you. I mean no disrespect to mirrors. They serve their purpose and that’s all well and good.

But I do think people place too much value on that reflection staring back at them. Dogs bark and cower. People get sad or frustrated. Me? I’m indifferent to the mirrors. I would much rather focus on the person than the reflection anyway.

See the action unfold: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=569872490057&l=334242941458658880


Mirror, Mirror April 17, 2013

I had an interesting conversation with myself today. I know all dogs react differently to mirrors, and I know that I generally avoid the mirrors in my forever home. It’s not for any good reason, I just don’t see any value in making adjustments to my general appearance as I have come to accept my look as part of who I am.

But today I realized it’s not the avoidance I should be afraid of, and instead the lessons I’m missing that lay behind that special kind of glass. I’ve said before I don’t like how my mom looks at herself in the mirror, so today I thought I’d give these mirrors some extra attention to see what on Earth their problem is. At first I wasn’t sure how much I gained from the experiment, as the reflection staring back at me looked just as I thought it would. It looked just like I see myself in my head.A Wiley Portrait

That’s when it clicked. My mom doesn’t see herself in her head like I see her. Heck, she doesn’t even see herself in her head like the world at large sees her. Obviously, I see her through the eyes of complete and unconditional love, and I wish nothing more than for her to see herself that same way. And I know all those who love her see the same beautiful person I do.

But I’ve also heard this theory that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. While I think there might be some truth to it, I can’t say I totally agree with that theory. I’ve mentioned before I’m not that big a fan of the emotions I see all over my mom’s face when she sees her reflection in the mirror. So today I wondered, am I the beholder in that case, or is she?

“Everything has beauty,” ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius said, “but not everyone sees it.” I make it a point to see beauty in all things, but I know that’s not always the case, especially with the women in my life. As a lover of life and all the beauty in it, it didn’t used to make any sense to me why my mom didn’t see how beautiful she is.

But I had an interesting conversation with myself in the mirror today. I tried to imagine what it is like to be her, pressured with all the run of the mill standards of society, and it made sense. Women are their worst beauty critics, as demonstrated in a recent study done by Dove.

All the more reason for us canines in their lives to show them how much they are loved. It might seem silly to some, since we can’t actually say how beautiful they are to us, but at least through our love we can hopefully demonstrate how special they are. As the great American poet Emily Dickenson once said, “beauty is not caused, it is.” It’s just up to us to see it in all the right places.


On Self-Esteem: A Book and its Cover March 27, 2013

I hate the way my mom looks at herself in the mirror. Or (worse yet) when she avoids looking at herself entirely because of the disdain for the body looking back at her. I know it’s a common issue among women to reflect negatively about their appearance, but I just don’t understand it. And I don’t care to understand it. It breaks my little doggie heart to see her look at herself that way.

“It is never too late to be what you might have been,” the fabulous George Eliot once said. Well, I refuse to be anything other than what I’m meant to be, which is a source of joy. Joy is not in my mom’s face when she looks in the mirror, which bothers me even more given that the past several days of my journey with Simple Abundance have taught me that my Daybook of Comfort and Joy indeed cannot be judged by their cover.

Simplicity is appropriately understated on the pink cover with the little picture of a tree on it, but I obviously would not have it any other way. Forget the cover. I would love this book even if it were bound with those little plastic binder clips the movers and shakers of the world occasionally use to make financial presentations, marketing pitches or performance summaries.Mirror, mirror

I’m not going to lie to you. (A dog’s tail never lies after all.) If I judged books by their covers, I may never have taken interest in the pretty pink simplicity of Simple Abundance. But this is yet another example of a reason I am happy I make a habit of seeing the best in all people and things. And the more I thought about it, I realized I have pieced together a powerful analogy for judging a book by its cover. In the most recent daily suggestions by Sarah Ban Breathnach, readers are challenged to see beauty in oneself regardless of preconceived notions and habitually negative thought processes I know are capable of crossing one’s mind frequently throughout a day.

So I tried a little experiment today. I left my copy of Simple Abundance open on the bed when I was done reading it this morning so my mom would see it. So she would be challenged to look past the cover to the soul inside both the book and herself. So she would be challenged to look at that reflection in the mirror with positive energy rather than negative. But just as one generally doesn’t start and finish a book in the same night (regardless of how good the cover might be), I know this isn’t a change I will see overnight.

In the meantime, I will continue to loathe the way my mom looks at herself in the mirror.  I know it takes time to change a way of thought, but as George Eliot said it’s never too late. If only the mirror would show her the reflection I see on a daily basis. You know the one. There is no negativity or disdain or heartbreaking disappointment. Instead there is complete and unconditional love for the beauty of book and its cover.