Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

A Heart Full February 27, 2015

There are now two cribs in my forever home. Two closets filled with tiny clothes. Two car seats. Two changing tables. And if I’m being honest, it’s all a bit overwhelming. But if there is something I would prefer not to hear again any time soon, it’s a set of words I find condescending and unnecessary.

“You’re definitely going to have your hands full,” people have been saying to my forever parents. It’s been uttered by friends and family. It’s been referenced by doctors and nurses. It’s even been joked about by complete strangers at the grocery store. And while 18 months (to the day) is not a big gap between little people by any means, it is certainly not one to be condescending about either. Thinking in the Nursery

Because while this may not have been in my parent’s play book for the ideal sibling spacing situation, it wasn’t up to them. From my perspective, it may not have been their plan, but it was certainly God’s plan. And that’s what matters.

Now that I’ve experienced infancy through early toddlerhood, I feel like I can say with some sense of (albeit doggie) authority that I think any sort of spacing would come with its fair share of pros and cons. In our case, I’m happy my people won’t be pushing the reset button after Carter is grown enough that they have forgotten how to survive through sleepless nights. Diapers and bottles and all things baby are all still fresh on their minds.

I know it won’t be easy. I’m just mentally prepared for a couple of pretty challenging years.

But beyond any of that, I heard mom say something today that put things in perspective for me. She was on the phone for work and I’m not sure who she was talking to. I cringed when I heard whoever it was say “you’re going to have your hands full.” Mom didn’t bat an eyelash.

“That’s probably true, but at least I’ll have a heart full too.”

It’s true there are now some doubles of baby things in the house. Soon it will probably look even more like a day care than the organized oasis of peace I once knew. But I’m okay with that. Because I know what mom said is true. These things are signs of what is to come. Right along with the extra crib and diapers and sleepless nights will be more love than any of us knew we even had in our hearts. And that right there is more than worth the extra trouble.

 

A Kindness Too Soon November 22, 2014

Stop. Pause. Breathe. If people could learn tricks, that is what I wish I could tell them to do this time of year.

I’ve said before the holidays are a favorite time of mine, what with all the family time and music and snow and snuggling. There are few things about the holidays I don’t enjoy. But there is one thing in particular that gets to me. It happens every single year and seems to intensify as the countdown to Christmas continues.

I Am Listening!People get rude. Pushy. Rushed. And completely inconsiderate of those around them. I don’t witness much of it in person, but I hear plenty of stories exchanged between my forever people to know what’s up. It drives me crazy. Not just because it’s the season of giving. Gratitude. Unconditional love. But because of the impact this behavior has. Negativity has an awful way of spreading like a disease no one can control, and while I would hate to see that happen at any point in time, it bothers me most around the holidays.

“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late,” suggested one of my favorite transcendentalist thinkers Ralph Waldo Emerson. If there is a reason to rush this holiday season, that’s the reason.

Because this is supposed to be a season of kindness. A season to share love with others who may otherwise not receive it. This is supposed to be a time of joy, and any ignorant person in a parking lot who steals a spot from an elderly lady or shoves their way in front of someone in line or loses patience with the overworked clerk who is only in the challenging position because the store is understaffed…well, they are doing nothing but stealing joy from other people. Not sharing it.

So I say stop. Pause. Breathe. Remember what the season is really about. It’s not about the gifts or the wrapping paper or the perfect Christmas tree. Its about joy. From the ground up, that is the real reason for the season.

 

 

Let It Go October 29, 2014

Apparently I live under a rock. At least that’s how I felt for a moment today as I heard a song I later learned has taken the world by storm. It’s not surprising to me at all that the song has become as popular as it has, with its positive message set to powerful chords. Throw that lyrical magic into a Disney movie for the kiddos, and you’re golden.

“It’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small and the fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all,” sings Idina Menzel in Disney’s “Frozen.” The message certainly must have different meanings to different people, as any well-written song does, but to me the idea of letting it go is the standout life lesson. Moving on. From the ground up, it isn’t always easy to do. Grass is grass

It wasn’t easy for me to let go of my birth mom and brothers after I lost them that fateful day all those years ago. Loss. It wasn’t easy for me to get over being returned to the humane society (twice). Rejection. It wasn’t easy for me to trust the hands of people again after the man with the leather belt. Pain.

These could all be some pretty significant emotional eyesores if I let them be. That’s the thing about negativity. It’s pretty powerful stuff. I know I talk a lot about the contagion of joy, but I feel like negative energy somehow manages to multiply with even more ferocity than the positive. I think it might be because the roadblocks we encounter in our daily lives can make it easier to complain about not moving ahead than to focus on how to actually do it.

To do it, you need to make a whole other decision. And it’s not always easy. You need to put aside the negativity for a fresh look on life. You need to move on. You need to let it go. Just like the (ridiculously popular albeit new-to-me) song says to do. Take it from me, letting go is the best decision I’ve ever made.

 

Leaving a Legacy June 15, 2014

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I’ll never know what it’s like. Not because I don’t want to, because I do. I just can’t. I know, it’s not the usual for me, your resident doggie optimDad and Iist to say I can’t do something. But this is one of those things I honestly can’t do regardless of my feelings on the matter.

Because at some point along the line, I had an operation that will forever keep me from ever knowing what it’s like to be a dad. I didn’t have a choice at the time, it was just one of those things that happened at the humane society. Given all of the other good things that happened to me there, I know it was probably for the best. But I do occasionally wonder what it would be like to be a dad.

Especially on a day like today when all of the people in my homeland celebrate dads. Today is Father’s Day in America, and it was a pretty special one around here since it was a first for my forever dad. Sure, mom and I have always conspired to do something to commemorate the day as he is my forever dad. But this is different because little baby Carter is in the picture now.

So it made sense to me that we packed up the car (my first car ride in the new ride, and it was great) and head to grandma’s house to meet up with other dads in the family. Seeing these men together, three generations of dads, really got me to thinking about what it means to me to have such a great dad to call my own. He loves me. He plays with me. He makes a special effort to pay extra attention to me since baby Carter was born. He’s my buddy. He’s my friend. He’s my forever dad. I am so blessed.

It does sometimes bother me that I will never know what it’s like to be a dad. But I do know how to be a son to a caring, loving, loyal man. That is his living legacy. And that will always be enough for me.

 

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.

 

Everything’s Going To Be All Right February 17, 2014

I dropped the ball today. It was kind of like that movie scene where you see what’s coming before it happened. I saw it and then it happened. One minute Carter and I were lounging together comfortably. The next he was rolling.

It’s my doggie understanding that rolling behavior from a seven-week-old baby is normally something to be celebrated. Its something of a developmental marker the doctors tell new parents to monitor. Except when it happens like this.On the ottoman

We were on the ottoman together. And then we weren’t. I saw it and then I heard it. The pain cry, as mom has come to call it. Usually it happens when he accidentally scratches his face or something. This was different. Mom was coming back from the bathroom when it happened.

And in that moment I think we both felt like failures. Me, because I couldn’t stop the inevitable from happening. Mom, because she took her eyes off the situation in time of need. So she swooped him up and I was at the ready to do whatever I needed to do to help. I stayed underfoot (a place I can’t say I was entirely welcome in this situation) as mom paced and swayed with him and called the doctor.

My mind raced hopelessly with all of the most terrible of outcomes. My heart skipped a beat when he stopped crying a few minutes later. In a complete emotional frenzy, I kissed him all over just as soon as it was physically possible to do so. And then came a very powerful message from the doctor’s office. Doing what I can to help

It’s the first time, but it won’t be the last that he does something we’re not expecting. And it’s going to be okay. He’s going to be okay. I heard the nurse say it, and I heard mom repeat it (a few times) before I released the breath I didn’t realize I’d been holding. It’s going to be okay. Even though I dropped the ball, he is going to be okay.

It’s a powerful message to be sure, yet I think we all need to hear it from time to time. Sometimes we don’t even know how badly we need to hear it until we hear the words out loud. Until we release the breath we didn’t realize we’d been holding. But that’s only the first part of the puzzle.

The second is in believing it. These things happen sometimes. It’s like those movie scenes when you see what’s coming before it happens. And then it does. In this case the scene that follows is looking good – there don’t seem to be any warning signs that the fall had any negative impact whatsoever. So for now we have no choice. When all else fails we need to believe everything’s going to be all right.

 

When You’re Down January 26, 2014

Please don’t laugh. It was a big time adventure for mom and I today. She took me with her to an especially exciting destination on what was her first venture out of the house in almost a week. The grocery store! It doesn’t mean much for me, other than a brief car ride to and from, with a quick nap on the driver’s seat in between.On the Road Again

But it was more than that. I was mom’s copilot again. Amidst the last several weeks since baby Carter’s arrival, I’ve missed alone time with her. So that made what some might call a routine drive into something kind of special for me. And then it happened.

I looked around and noticed some serious changes since my last car ride around the holidays. It was all holly and jolly with twinkle lights and Christmas wreaths and joy. From the ground up, the holiday season was everywhere.

Not anymore. Today was a dreary day in Wisconsin. I don’t even think it hit the anticipated high of 26 degrees. And we face more frigid temperatures (with wind chills estimated in the -50 degree range) in the days to come. The sky was grey. And there are no twinkle lights left to bring any holly or jolly. To be honest, it is a pretty depressing sight to be seen.

So there are no more twinkle lights. We just need to make our own. I know it’s silly, but I found such joy in my car ride today. Because I’m not in the business of all things sad. As mom went inside the grocery store and I cuddled into a cozy ball, I fought to find a silver lining in these doldrums that surround us.

I know its tough not to let such things take a negative effect on emotions. But thinking about the negative inspires positivity for me. That is what joy from the ground up is all about. When you’re down, there is no where to go but up. Or on a car ride to nowhere. That always does the trick.

 

Making a Splash January 19, 2014

I know it’s necessary. I sure wish it wasn’t. The dreaded bath. I have a love/hate relationship with this most simple and basic necessity. Namely, I hate getting wet. Please remember this is coming from your resident doggie optimist who makes it a point to find the silver lining in all things. It’s not like me to complain. But misery loves company and I found some today in Baby Carter.

Making the Best of ItIt wasn’t his first bath since being home, but it was by far the most tumultuous. I have heard my fair share of screeching cries (most of which pierce right through my little doggie heart) in his almost three weeks with us, but today he hit a whole new range of emotional distress. From which I have gathered that he too hates baths. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by this, since he has not been quiet about his hatred of being naked. Yet I couldn’t help but wonder why we are this way.

That’s when it occurred to me. I like the attention that accompanies the ritual of it all. It happens during the bath. It happens after the bath. Sometimes it continues for a few days as I apparently smell so nice in all that perfumed shampoo they use on me. I’ve never been one to turn down attention.

I wish I could somehow communicate my thoughts on the matter to Carter to ease his pain a little. Instead I found myself thinking about the water that makes all of the turmoil possible. The cleansing, cleaning, refreshing (even I can admit there is something nice about being clean) water.

Therein I found it. The silver lining. Because I know it’s necessary. And even though I hate it, now I have a reason to love it. Because attention is only as good as what we do with it. I would much rather have my splashes mean something than have them simply get others wet. Even the smallest little pebble can make ripples in the water. And no ripple is too small to evoke positive change.

 

Recharging Life December 16, 2013

Momma said there’d be days like this. Well, not my momma. But apparently this is a message moms everywhere chose to communicate to whomever will listen. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how proudly we optimists wear our rose-colored glasses. It doesn’t matter that we chose to see the good in all people, places and things. Because ultimately we can’t always control when the battery runs out.Recharging My Battery

Literally. That is how my beloved people began their Monday. The battery went out on one of the cars, which made them both late for work. There was no turning back from there. I don’t know what happens to either of them when they are away, but I know what happens when they return. And on a rare occasion like today, I can’t say I care for it.

Clearly they both had very little emotional battery left upon their return this evening. I don’t think it’s a coincidence either. The car, which (at least in my humble doggie opinion) normally functions as a mode of transportation to various sources of joy instead gave them grief. When money is already tight. And temperatures are bitterly frigid.

That’s the thing about days like today. Most times you don’t see them coming. But that’s not such a bad thing, because the tides can turn just as quickly in the other direction. It’s not always easy, but it certainly didn’t take much today. My people were sad. Tired. Disgruntled.

So I did what I do best. I engaged in a game of pickle in the middle with my newest addition to my comfort circle cast of characters. Mr. Squirrel is floppy, unlike the majority of my other toys, and he did just the trick. It started with dad. We played tug of war on the living room floor. Laughter followed smiles. Then it caught on with mom. Joy. From the ground up. It’s a pretty effective way of recharging one’s emotional batteries, that much is for sure.

Dad swapped out the battery for a new one. I swapped out the negative energy in our house for the positive. Maybe that’s why my momma never said there’d be days like this. Just because we can’t control when or how the battery runs out doesn’t mean we don’t have the power and strength within us to recharge.

 

Survival in the Real World December 14, 2013

It’s a pretty crazy world out there. Yesterday was Friday the 13th and (though neither of them believe in the meaning of such things), both my mom and dad came home regaling a series of unfortunate events involving unexpectedly odd amounts of crazy. Their stories were incredibly different, yet one thing bound them together. Negativity. Not enough money. Not enough time. Not enough heart to practice common courtesy around others.

Going Somewhere?Mom would never have expected that nicely dressed elderly woman to literally push another woman out of the way over a bar of luxury bath soap. But it happened. Dad didn’t believe his eyes when he witnessed a near hit-and-run accident in the parking lot over a spot that was literally five feet away from the next closest spot. Wherever that person was going sure must have been important.

Regardless of the source, this negativity thing is like it’s very own breed of pollution. Its own unique type of noise that keeps us from hearing the music. And it sneaks up on you in the oddest of ways to tear away at your resolve. To bring you down. And ultimately to make you weak. It’s all so frustrating to me. I would much rather be strong. And I can be, when I am armed with the most powerful weapon.

Optimism keeps me strong. As milk is to bones, optimism is to my soul. So when I think about what can be done to reverse the pollution in our society, I think it comes down to us. The fighters. The people who resolve to retain a positive outlook amidst life’s most challenging curve balls.

“Negativity is an addiction to the bleak shadow that lingers around every human form,” proposed Irish poet John O’Donohue. “You can transfigure negativity by turning it toward the light of your soul.”

It can be pretty crazy out there. It’s enough to make me second guess my occasional bitterness that I am not allowed to accompany my people to literally everywhere outside our forever home. But negativity has no place in my home, nor out there in the world. Because the real world is what we make it, not what it tells us it should be.