Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

In My Corner January 18, 2014

Take it or leave it. Regardless of the chapters I have experienced in five years of doggie life, that has always been my approach to one thing. Me. My personality. Who I am. It’s something I developed a long time ago and nothing can change this one little thing about me.

In Your CornerI think it’s something people struggle with sometimes, but for me it has never really been a question. I have nothing to hide. I have no reason to act any differently. I am confident in who I am.

I realized it today, when mom and dad had a couple of visitors who I had only met once or twice before. I was not aggressive, but Jesse needed to know baby Carter is my special little person. I stayed very close to the baby and watched Jesse’s every move.

“Oh, Wiley’s protective,” Jesse noted. Well of course I am, I thought, he is my little guy. My little person. It’s my duty to protect him. To keep him safe. I have his corner.

That’s when I realized it is one thing to know who you are in life. It’s something completely different to have someone recognize it. And embrace it. Someone to love and respect who you are at all costs. To be in your corner. This is what I fear people are really missing when they struggle with self confidence or self esteem. They don’t have an advocate.

“A boy can learn a lot from a dog: obedience, loyalty, and the importance of turning around three times lying down,” American humorist Robert Benchley said.

Indeed, dear baby Carter has a lot to learn. And I know a lot of that will happen without me. But I decided in that moment today he will never had to worry about this one thing as long as I have something to say about it. Because I will be his advocate. He will always have me in his corner.

 

One Little Ribbon December 13, 2013

My name is Wiley Schmidt. I am a five-year-old terrier mix with an inquisitive mind and an open heart. I like the snow, long walks on the beach (or wherever really), and spherically shaped dog toys. My favorite dog treats are Beggin’ Strips. My favorite people food is peanut butter. I’m an instigator. I’m a poet. I am a lover of life.Who am I?

All of this came to mind today as I contemplated life’s ultimate crisis in existentialist thinking. Who am I? Beyond that, what do I offer the world? And how are the two connected?

It was about this time two years ago when mom came home with the answer. (I remember it clearly because I make a point to remember all things that make her as happy as she was that day). She came home from a class she was taking on leadership with these little blue ribbons in hand. Upon the ribbons was a message from above. “Who I Am Makes a Difference” they read.

She received one from a friend, who explained that mom’s enthusiasm for life makes the world around her a better place. That one little ribbon signified one of the kindest things anyone has ever said to her. But the story doesn’t end there. Mom came home with three ribbons and a mission. She was to pass the sentiment and the ribbons on (or paw it forward as I’ve come to say) to someone who makes a difference to her. And that person was to pass it along as well.Joy from the ground up

So I watched (and waited patiently for my usual amount of attention I get upon mom returning home) as she explained that who dad is makes a difference in her life. He cares for her in the way only a husband can care for his wife, she told him, and he takes good care of her. Who he is makes a difference.

Within a minute or so I was getting above and beyond my usual amount of attention from dad. He didn’t say anything, but he put his ribbon on me and said who I am makes a difference to him. And that was that. We were officially out of ribbons. But you don’t need an excuse (or a ribbon) to tell someone he or she is appreciated.

So today I’ve decided to hand my proverbial little blue ribbon to you. Who you are makes a difference. Your personality, your mannerisms, your smile. Who are you? You are the melting pot of psychological and sociological backgrounds from all over the world. And who you are makes a difference to me.

My name is Wiley Schmidt and am a five-year-old terrier mix with a lot to offer. But I find the world also has a lot to offer me. I say this as a proud recipient of my little blue ribbon. Please take yours and pass it on to someone, and encourage them to do the same. It doesn’t take much. And you don’t even need a ribbon. Because who you are makes a difference. And don’t you forget that.

For more information on the blue ribbon initiative, please visit http://blueribbonstory.org/about/impact/.

This post is dedicated to my friend Huntie over at Chasing Rabbit Holes. Please consider stopping by to say hi!

 

Who Am I? August 15, 2013

Who am I anyway? This is a question I asked myself a few times a day during my time at the Oshkosh Humane Society. Please don’t misunderstand my question for pessimism, as that was never the intention. Conversely, the optimist in me wanted to be better. I tried and tried (perhaps too hard) to win over my visitors so they would take me home.

More often than not, they would opt for a younger (or cuter or bigger or smaller) dog and I would be left wondering what I could do differently. What could I do to stand out in the crowd?

JoyI knocked down a little girl so I could lick her face – partially because I loved her at first sight and partially because she smelled like ice cream. That didn’t work. I demonstrated my vertical jumping skills for a young man because he looked athletic and I thought he’d be impressed. That didn’t work. I did every trick I could think of when Katie (my favorite humane society caregiver) told me to sit because I wanted to impress a young couple. Some would see this as overachieving. The young couple I was trying to impress used the word stupid.

But I kept my chin up. I knew my time would come. I just had to figure out who I was before I could find my forever people. I think it is the same way with people who are looking for their person. You need to know who you are before you can share that unique personality with another person. And (let me tell you) you certainly don’t answer life’s most challenging questions of identity by trying too hard. You answer them by letting go. By not trying, but instead by being. By being yourself.

As soon as I realized and employed this philosophy, I was adopted. Sure, it was by the wrong family at first (the one with all the other animals where who I was still wasn’t clearly apparent to any of us). But it worked. I let myself be myself and they let me in – the real me, not the me trying to be something I’m not. It’s not my fault they didn’t recognize everything the real me had to offer.

And I’m glad they didn’t. Because I knew right away that my forever people did. Three years ago today I met them for the first time. My people. It was a hot and sticky day and I knew it in a moment. We went outside and mom kneeled down and I put my paws on her knees. She pet me and I knew she was the one. They immediately saw me for me and loved me for it. Joy. From the ground up, it happened that day.

Who am I? There is no longer a question in my mind. American writer and inspirational speaker Esther Hicks says it best. “You are joy, looking for a way to express. It’s not just that your purpose is joy, it is that you are joy. You are love and joy and freedom and clarity expressing energy – frolicking and eager. That is who you are.”

 

Tag, You’re It! June 19, 2013

So this is the world and there are 7 billion people in it. Among the various countries and cultures that serve as home to this incredible population are hundreds (perhaps even thousands) different breeds of dogs. While the census allows some sense of accuracy with the global population, research reveals no such thing about the population of dogs. Us four-leggers are everywhere in all shapes, sizes, colors and personalities. Some breeds even look slightly different in one country versus another.

There is a pretty big world out there. It is absolutely overwhelming to think about. Not to mention completely intimidating. How (on Earth) are we supposed to make a name for ourselves among all the other personalities out there? Truth is I have no idea if there even is a right answer for that question. But there is one thing I do know for sure: who we are is synonymous with our unique set of values and beliefs that contribute to our personality.

I’ve never been much of a digger in the literal sense (as I know some of my canine brothers are), but my archeological adventure to personal authenticity has led me to do another kind of digging. I dig deep on a daily basis by seeking to find good in all people, places and things with which I come into contact. My daily blogging journey has served as somewhat of a shovel digging toward personal discovery of my authentic self. It’s a dig like no other, and I can’t say I’d change much about what I’ve found.Surfing the world wide web

“Happiness cannot come from without. It must come from within,” American author and activist Helen Keller encouraged. “It is not what we see and touch or that which others do for us that makes us happy; it is that which we think and feel and do, first for the other fellow and then for ourselves.”

It makes me happy to believe in the power of the present in the “present” that is each day I wake. I find joy in the oddest of places, and experience the sincerest form of joy when I share it with others. When I share it with you. Every day I wish I could somehow reach farther, touch more, make a bigger difference all-the-while giving thanks for the people (and pets) all over the world who have helped me along my path to self awareness. It’s safe to say I’ve caught the joy bug and I want to share it with the world. That’s right. I’ve caught the joy bug and I want to share it with all 7 billion people and their however many breeds of four-legged best friends. My tagline is to share joy: from the ground up. What’s yours?

 

Eagles Are Flying April 12, 2013

2013-04-04 17.53.53I’ve been struggling with a secret lately. It’s something I had preferred not to share with the world, but if there is something I’ve learned in life, it is usually the things we don’t want others to know that become the most important to share.

So here it is: I have been struggling to find inspiration lately. I know, I know, the optimist in me should find something to say about each and every day, but I will admit even the optimist has a slow day every now and then. Add to that the dreary days in our area, and you have yourself a recipe for optimistic disaster.

But I refuse to see it as anything other than an opportunity for growth, so I believe in Sarah Ban Breathnach’s words in Simple Abundance. “A generous heart, a spontaneous smile, and eyes that sparkle with delight can be part of a (person’s) signature look once she awakens to his or her authentic beauty.”

I wouldn’t disagree with the importance of authentic beauty, but I would break it down to include valuable and unparalleled sense of self-understanding.

I know self-understanding and authentic beauty aren’t easily obtained. Quite the contrary, in fact, to the point where I would argue society brings the very definition of authentic beauty into question. Regardless, I have found that authentic beauty (or beauty of the soul as I call it) is worth the journey of self-understanding that leads you there. And so I come full circle and in doing so agree that full disclosure is best practice in blogging.

I wouldn’t call it writer’s block because my head is constantly budding with words my heart is dying to say. My generous heart finds hope in the spontaneous moments of inspiration, but when there is no inspiration, there is room for improvement. Room for growth. How else do baby eagles learn to fly? They don’t soar beautifully out of the gate. It takes time and practice and patience. In the meantime, I’ll take these dreary days as a reminder to keep the eyes of my heart focused on the sky until I’m ready to fly again.

 

A Wiley By Any Other Name March 23, 2013

I was called Zorro once. The family that adopted me for a short time tried calling me that and it was honestly the strangest couple weeks of my life. The name simply didn’t fit. It was dark and mysterious whereas I am sunny and somewhat of an open book. Wiley fits my personality perfectly. Spontaneous, outgoing and a little bit crazy? Yep, that’s me.

But now that I am set in my ways as  Wiley, I sometimes wonder what I would look like in someone else’s paws. What if I were more pensive, agile or mysterious? Would life be different? Would life by any other name be as sweet? But my past has taught me I can’t live without embracing my personality. And one of the best ways I’ve found to embrace my personality is to explore my space. Most dogs would agree that defining one’s territory is obviously very important, so I find it necessary to do so today as I explore who I am in this life.

I have always and continue to live near the beauty that is Lake Michigan. While I would prefer not explore too much due to the busy nature of the surrounding downtown area, the area near the lake is beautiful. My mom has taken me there a couple of times over the summer months and we’ve gotten into disagreements about how to spend our time there. While she would prefer to find the perfect spot and stay there with a good book, I would prefer to explore every inch of beach.

I know my mom would occasionally prefer me to be more static. Especially when she’s trying to relax on the beach and she already has the company of the sunshine. She doesn’t need me being me in those moments, regardless of the many perks of my unique personality. It reminds me a bit of a song I heard the other night while mom was cooking dinner. “But I’ll see better when the smoke clears (when the smoke clears) inside my head,” Toby Lightman sings. “And I find myself in need of a pause, I’m not sure why, but I think that it’s because  of this desire to be what others want me to be which is nothing close to me.”

I occasionally wonder what I would look like if I was nothing close to me. Would my life by another name be as sweet? Then I am overtaken by the obvious. I know it would be. “You see, whether we are consciously aware of it or not, we’re constantly programmed by the world to be other (people) not ourselves,” Sarah Ban Breathnach writes in Simple Abundance. “(But) we should only strive to be first-rate versions of ourselves. And our best is always good enough.”

So I argue that a life by any other name would be as sweet because standing still is simply not part of my personality. While I do enjoy routine, I also embrace adventure. I always have and always will. No suburban life will take that away from me. While I wonder about it, I can honestly say that I don’t really care to be anyone else. I like being me. I would make a terrible Toto, but I sure do make a good Wiley Schmidt. A Wiley by any other name would still be Wiley. And my best is always good enough.

 

Wiley Schmidt: A Fortunate Accident? January 25, 2013

Tomorrow is such a powerful word. It is a promise of a fresh start on a new day. It is another chance to get caught up with that to-do list or start that project you always wanted to start when you could never find the time. It is a chance to make a difference in the lives of others, or finally put that dream to action. But ultimately, tomorrow is the devil’s playground for procrastination. What if there is no tomorrow?

Hillary Cooper once said “life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” I’ve been fortunate to have my fair share of breathtaking moments. The day I met my forever mom and dad, the day they took me home, and the day I realized how much they loved me all come to mind.

So today I embrace life by contemplating death. It might sound morbid, but I see the value in contemplating how one will be remembered when they are no longer among the living. How would I want to be remembered? The ancient Greeks asked one thing after a man died: did he have passion?

The Eulogy of Wiley Schmidt: A Fortunate Accident?

Wiley (Coyote) Schmidt was a pretty special dog. He was dearly loved by his adoptive mom and dad, as well as extended family and friends too plentiful to list. For this, he considered himself the luckiest dog in the world.

It wasn’t always that way for him. Separated from his birth mother too young, Wiley struggled to find acceptance and love from various foster homes. He lived on the streets, fought for food and shelter, and knew life without a loving home. He was resilient amidst life’s hurdles, and slowly learned to embrace the challenges as they became part of what made him unique.

His positive outlook on life started paying him dividends at the age of two, when his parents adopted him from the humane society. Life was a series of fortunate accidents for him after that.

After two years in his forever home, he started a little blog he hoped could touch some lives. Another year later, the scope of his aspiration to share his joy with the world spread beyond his wildest dreams. His mom helped him piece together a year of blog entries into his groundbreaking book. It was called Joy: From the Ground Up, and it became an instant hit with dog lovers all over the world.

He always dreamed big, but his dreams were never selfish. The ancient Greeks asked one thing after a man died: did he have passion? Wiley had passion for the greatest gift of all: life. He was the embodiment of joy, and shared it with whomever would accept it.

People say hindsight is 20/20. Wiley didn’t believe in that. Wiley said if we live life as it is supposed to be lived, there shouldn’t be hindsight. We should be looking forward. Our dreams should always be more exciting than our memories. He would want us all to remember that.

Rest in peace, Wiley. You (and your forever joy) will be missed.