Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

An Open Apology to the Mail Man January 7, 2014

Apparently it’s called a mailbox. To me, it’s another post to pee on during my walks through the neighborhood. And it marks the entry to the driveway to my forever home. But at least from what I can tell this thing called a mailbox must be pretty special. It gets a special visitor almost every afternoon, who delivers a variety of things.

Love/hate is how I would describe my relationship with this visitor, who is also referred to by my people as the mail man. He usually visits when my people are away at that place called work, so I feel it is my duty to at least pay close attention (if not bark and/or whine) when he stops by. Observation has informed me he is not a hazard, but one can never be too careful.One Big Card

In addition, it seems he brings both good and bad news to my people. I don’t know what bills are, but he seems to bring a lot of those. We also get a fair share of junk mail and credit card offers. But today it was good news this man delivered. In multitude.

To say my people have been the slightest bit preoccupied lately is an understatement. There’s also been a bit of sleep deprivation. (Baby Carter wakes us several times a night, and together we wander our tired family around the house to accommodate his hunger). I would say it has probably been at least a week since they last checked the mailbox for good news or bad.

So it was a big old pile that (miraculously) only contained one bill and a bit of junk mail. The rest was joy. Holiday cards and baby congratulation cards and gifts made up the majority of the contents. Congratulations cards from great grandma Fran and great aunt Kandi (including one the size of baby Carter himself). Messages of love from great aunt Lesleigh. A Christmas card from our blog friend in Ohio. A special delivery from our blog friend in the United Kingdom. Within it, each contained a personal message of love and encouragement. And each card made mom cry because to her that wasn’t all they contained. Joy. From the ground up, it was had in today’s mail.

Maybe I owe the mail man an apology.

 

The world is my dog park January 4, 2013

“Why, except as a means of livelihood, a man should desire to  act on the stage when he has the whole world to act in, is not clear to  me.” Dear George Bernard Shaw, how I enjoy your words. Not to mention My Fair Lady, but that is a whole other conversation.

I am back in Simple Abundance mode, looking to day four: This Isn’t a Dress Rehearsal. Today is about today, not about practicing for today. We have the whole world to act in, as Shaw put it, so why don’t we use it?

Today’s challenge to live each day as if it were our last got me to thinking about where I would want to spend my last day. Like many of my canine pals, it didn’t take much to come to the conclusion that one of the contenders for my final hours would be the dog park. Another playwright and lover of the stage William Shakespeare called the world an oyster….well, I don’t much care for oysters, but I sure do love the dog park.

It has everything a dog could love: plenty of room to run off all kinds of energy, lots of new and old pals (human and dog alike)…not to mention the car ride to get there. (I love car rides!) It makes me feel alive being there running (semi) wild with the wind in my hair, playing and wrestling and meeting new friends. Unfortunately for me, it also almost made me dead a couple of months ago, when I was attacked by a pit bull. But this is a new year, and I’ve resolved to find good in all things. Alas the reasoning behind my dog park metaphor.

That day when that pit bull had me by my neck four feet in the air could have been my last. The way he shook me and growled and the terrifying sounds my bones made when he threw me to the ground….I found myself (for the first time ever) contemplating the whole cat’s have nine lives concept. I didn’t want to die. And I almost did. Talk about a wake-up call.

Live for today

“None of us can be expected to perform every minute of our lives,” writes Breathnach in Simple Abundance. “But a lot of us might tap into the power, excitement, and glory of Real Life more frequently if we cast ourselves as the leading ladies — or in my case leading gentlemen — in our own lives.”

I will not play the supporting role in my own life. Especially to a pit bull.

 

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.

 

Writing my way to through Simple Abundance – Day One

A new me in 2013? I hope so.Thirteen years ago Sarah Ban Breathnach had a simple idea that ended up changing her life forever. In Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy, she set out to write an honest commentary on some of life’s most pressing questions.

“I knew I wasn’t the only woman hurtling through real life as if it were an out-of-body experience,” she writes in the foreword, “…But I also knew I certainly wasn’t the woman with the answers. I didn’t even know the questions.”

I will be the first to admit I laid out some pretty lofty goals for myself in 2013. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to find a practical way to hold myself accountable for how well I remember Christmas, love actively and live life backwards every day.

Reading the last few words of Breathnach’s foreward in Simple Abundance showed me how.

“Reading books changes lives. So does writing them. May Simple Abundance, through its gentle lessons of comfort and joy, help you find the authentic life you were born to live.”

And so begins my year-long journey to find the authentic life I was born to live…from my humble perspective. Joy, from the ground up.

Day one. New Year’s Day. “A Transformative Year of Delight and Discovery.” Today’s reading ironically challenges me to take time to dream. Take time to reflect on my most private of aspirations. All right Sarah, here you go.In deep thought

I want to be a writer. I want people to want to read what I have to say. Most importantly, I want my words to inspire people. I know its silly. I know people might not take me, a goofy four-year-old terrier mutt, seriously.

But I’m going to take the challenge to dream big. I am going to take a leap of faith and believe that this year I will post a blog entry every day. I’m going to believe in myself. Because sometimes, that is the hardest thing to do.

 

You can’t put Christmas away: Goals for 2013 December 31, 2012

I overheard an interesting conversation between mom and dad today. Dad was putting some Christmas things away, and mom scolded him. “Are you putting Christmas away!?” she questioned. His response surprised me. “Don’t be silly,” he said. “You can’t put Christmas away.”

Best known for writing the country classic “Happy Trails,” singer-songwriter Dale Evans had a similar commentary on the holiday season. “Christmas, my child, is love in action,” she said. “Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.”

Loving enough is certainly not the problem. I love my people (and all of their people) wholeheartedly and unconditionally. It’s how I show it, how I “give” that I think I can improve.  Quality over quantity as they say. Christmas is not meant to be about the number of gifts under the tree, so why would one measure its spirit quantitatively?

1920s singer and comedian Margaret Young had a theory on this. “Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier,” she said. “The way it actually works is  the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then, do what you need to do in order to have what you want.”Happy Trails

Who am I? I am a four-year-old terrier with a whole lot of love to offer the world. How will I accomplish this in 2013? I will begin by setting goals instead of resolutions. Webster’s dictionary defines “resolution” in a number of ways, including “the act or process of resolving, the act  of determining, or (my personal favorite) the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones.” What on Earth does that mean? As for me, I would rather set goals, which Webster defines as “the end toward which effort is directed.”

What do I want for 2013? What are the ends toward which my effort will be directed?

1. Remember that you can’t put Christmas away. It sounds simple (and perhaps even cliché), but I don’t care. Call it my effort to analyze a complex notion into a simpler one.

2. Love actively. Every day I will find a way to show my people I how much I love them. Literally speaking, I would like to convince my mom to take me to agility classes. I think it would be good for both of us – physically and mentally – to work together toward a common goal to get fit while spending time together.

3. Live life forward. I know who I am, and I want to share my perspective with the world. I will set aside the time necessary to keep sharing my thoughts on life with the world in hopes that my words might inspire someone else to do the same.

Happy trails in 2013 ya’ll.