Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Joy To The World June 1, 2013

I caught my mom listening to Christmas music today. There it was mixed in with the normal tunes of Phillip Phillips, Dido and Norah Jones. There’s no place like home (for the holidays). Have yourself a merry little Christmas. Sleigh Ride. I’ll Be Home for Christmas. That’s right, folks, all the classics joined the Christmas party. In June.Merry Christmas in June!

At first I was concerned, and thought perhaps she was confused by the really long winter/non-existent spring we’ve had around here. But we’ve had our fair share of randomly beautiful days too, so that couldn’t be it. My next thought was that something must be wrong at that place called work. But her job changed for the better a few months ago and the result was a much happier (not to mention more well-rested) version of herself. So it can’t be that. In my little doggie mind, I found myself making a mental checklist of anything else that might be awry with her, and nothing made sense.

That’s when I realized I was breaking one of my cardinal rules. Your resident optimistic pooch was assuming the negative before considering the positive. Maybe nothing is wrong at all, I realized. Maybe the music is actually reflective of her joyful mood.

At second glance, there is a way about her that exudes happiness as she hums along. Fa-la-la-la-la la-la-la-la! (Silly me, thinking the worst.) I’m not sure what’s got her so giddy, but I sure do like seeing her this way. That’s got to be among my favorite things about joy: it’s so contagious. It may not be wrapped up in pretty paper and bows, but it doesn’t need to be. She’s happy, so I’m happy, so I’m sharing it with you. Merry Christmas in June.

 

Do You Know the Muse-ic Man? March 10, 2013

I noticed something interesting about my blog posts this week: music is clearly one of my most reliable muses. It inspires me in ways that speak to my soul. So much of the music I enjoy is poetry that feeds my vocabulary set to brilliant chords and rhythms that spark my imagination. Six of the last eight of my blog posts incorporated music into either the title or the content. Let’s review:

1. Can’t Go Wrong, Phillip Phillips – I’ll take the best of what I can from my  mistakes/And now I know, now I  know I can’t go wrong, as long as I remember where I’m from/Hold  my head up just to keep it clear/I want a chance just to face my fear, face my fear

2. Listen To Your Heart, Roxette – Sometimes you wonder if this fight is worthwhile. The precious moments are all lost in the tide, yea. They’re swept away and nothing is what it seems, the feeling of belonging to your dreams. Listen to your heart when he’s calling for you.

3. Forever Young, Rod Stewart – May the good lord be with you/Down every road you roam/And may sunshine and happiness/Surround you when you’re far from home/And may you grow to be proud/Dignified and true/And do unto others/As you’d have done to you/Be courageous and be brave/And in my heart you’ll always stay/Forever young, forever young Forever young, forever young

4. Fix You, Coldplay – When you try your best but you don’t succeed/When you get what you want but not what you need/When you feel so tired but you can’t sleep/Stuck in reverse/And the tears come streaming down your face/When you lose something you can’t replace/When you love someone but it goes to waste/Could it be worse?/Lights will guide you home/And ignite your bones/And I will try to fix you

5. Beautiful Day, U2

You’re on the road/But you’ve got no destination/You’re in the mud/In the maze of her imagination/It’s a beautiful day/Don’t let it get away/It’s a beautiful day

6. Brighter Than Sunshine, Aqualung

What a feeling in my soul/Love burns brighter than sunshine/Brighter than sunshine/Let the rain fall, I don’t care

Musing the Day Away

Bing defines muse as a verb as the action of thinking “about something in a deep and serious or dreamy and abstracted way,” according to Bing. While some prefer to do their deep thinking in silence, I do mine with the muse that is music.

 

Fear to Purpose: My Restoration Movement March 3, 2013

I sometimes wonder what the people who took care of me at the humane society would think of me now. I know my doggie adoption profile highlighted my ability to “sit” on command, said that I would probably be best in a home with children older than ten people years, and referenced behavioral issues I had in my past adoptive home. But I’ve been with my forever family for two and a half years now, and I’ve come such a long way.

In addition to “sit,” I can now catch, shake, lay down, rollover, play dead and give high fives and kisses like they’re going out of style. I’ve always gotten along with the little people in my life, all of whom were under the age of ten when I met them. And I will never forget the day my adoptive parents took me to the behaviorist (a required stop for me in the adoption process) and the behaviorist said I was one of the smartest and most well-behaved dogs with whom she had ever worked.

I guess you could call me the life-size doggie representation of restoration. Defined by Bing as giving someone or something new strength or vigor, my restored perspective on life is in line with that of Walter Scott, a spiritual man whose name is synonymous with the Restoration Movement.Bringing Fear to Purpose

“Look back, and smile on perils past,” he once said. You see, my personal experience has taught me to find value in the unhappiest of times because it is in those moments we find the most powerful sources of strength and perseverance. Just because I would prefer not to return to the Oshkosh Humane Society doesn’t mean I don’t find value in my time there.

I did spend the majority of my time in a cage questioning everything about my purpose in life, but in the meantime I met Rusty and several other unique canine characters and the people there took good care of me. Every day I feared I would never get adopted because I was too old or too hard to train. But I have found that fear, in these dark moments, brings purpose to those who let it. Now I welcome opportunities to bring fear to purpose in my life. Like Phillip Phillips reflects in “Can’t Go Wrong:”

I’ll take the best of what I can from my  mistakes
And now I know, now I  know
I can’t go wrong, as long  as I remember where I’m from
Hold  my head up just to keep it clear
I  want a chance just to face my fear, face my fear

Forget that garbage about only being able to sit and needing behavioral training. I think the people at the humane society would be proud of me for facing my fears and bringing purpose to my life.

 

A Saturday Soundtrack February 23, 2013

Today my neurotic’s notebook takes a page from American journalist Mignon McLaughlin, who said “a sense of humor is a major defense against minor troubles.” I’ve written about the joy that happens in my home on Saturdays, so I thought I would set it to a soundtrack for anyone interested in a lighthearted salute to today’s daily prompt.

If I were to set a Saturday in the Schmidt household to a soundtrack, I suppose it would play like this.

(Disclaimer: These have all inspired previous (and future) blog posts, so I apologize in advance for any repetition).Dancing to Life's Soundtrack

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkkFYHXlX-c
Track One: Tell Me A Story, Phillip Phillips.
Dear Phillip Phillips. A lyrical hero of mine, he inspires me with his words frequently. This is one of my favorites from his album “Man on The Moon.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfsS3pIDBfw
Track Two: Hands, Jewel
Human hands are capable of such bad things. I embrace only the good.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVOu47ib9s8
Track Three: Answer, Sarah McLaughlin
This one gets me every time. https://wileyschmidt.wordpress.com/2012/12/29/my-answer-i-sleep-smiling/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2SfmcNg8js
Track Four: I Hope You Dance, LeAnn Womack
I love to dance. Did you know that about me?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84Ns6ouwO1g
Track Five: Peggy Sang the Blues, Frank Turner
A recent favorite, this song recently inspired a blog entry about my perspective that all forward motion counts.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6ZWlDks0nQ
Track Six: Paradise, Coldplay
Forget hindsight. I prefer paradise.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vT2fM3-seUE
Track Seven: Life In Slow Motion, David Gray.
A reminder to stop and appreciate life’s special moments. https://wileyschmidt.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/life-in-slow-motion/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nm-1xvWibt0
Track Eight: Isn’t It Ironic? Alanis Morissette
I had to. 🙂 https://wileyschmidt.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/isnt-it-ironic-a-pause-amidst-lifes-symphony/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aw14mwAp5oM
Track Nine: Hard Times, EastMountainSouth
Hard times come again no more. Simple as that.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0aauXOx120
Track Ten: Free Bird, Lynyrd Skynyrd
As seen in one of my favorite movies, Elizabethtown

Please note: I do not own rights to any of these videos. They were all shared from YouTube.

 

Dance Like Nobody’s Watching January 26, 2013

I may not know the waltz, the fox trot or the samba, but I sure can dance. My mom and I have this (semi-secret) routine that (almost never) involves anyone but us.

“Up, Wiley,” is my signal the dance is about to start. And the next thing I know, I’m up in my mom’s arms and we are swaying together to anything from Norah Jones to Bob Dylan. We truly are dancing like no one’s watching. And I love it. For those three or four minutes, all is well in the world. My mom is happy, I’m happy, and (as a believer in the contagion that is happiness) I could not ask for anything better than that.

2013-01-26 20.57.00

Up, down, or sideways, music moves me. Lyrics lull me into happier places, mourn with me in darker places, and inspire me to be better, write better, and live better. From Bette Midler to Phillip Phillips, words find their prophetically poetic home amidst the strum of guitar chords and harmonious tinkling of piano keys.

I find moments of solace in these things. My journey within begins here.

“I fall into a sacred rage to escape
the hells of the world made of puppets and fake
death wont be too far now the seeds in my heart start to awake
so all I can do is be the man that the Lord brought me to today
hold on to your life by love…”

Thank you Phillip Phillips for again bringing to lyrical life the ideas of Sarah Ban Breathnach, who speaks of the basic tools of holding on to life’s authenticity in Simple Abundance: “You need enough breathing space to allow your heart to ponder what is precious,” she writes. “Or perhaps you can let your imagination soar into the twilight where dreams first dwell.”

That is what music does for me, literally and figuratively. It offers me those precious moments with my mom dancing like a ninny with me all over the kitchen. And it offers me hope in harmony best illustrated in LeAnn Womack’s “I Hope You Dance.”

“I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances
But they’re worth taking
Lovin’ might be a mistake
But it’s worth making
Don’t let some hell bent heart
Leave you bitter
When you come close to selling out
Reconsider
Give the heavens above
More than just a passing glance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance.”

She took the words right out of my little doggie mouth.

 

Love Play Live: Lighting Up Darkness January 18, 2013

Have you ever tried to piece a puzzle together without the box? I’ve been trying that lately with Simple Abundance. I was worried that I was going to start sounding repetitive with the whole gratitude in simplicity storyline and folks would get disinterested. But I did not disregard my daily commitment to reading Simple Abundance, whether or not I made it a main focus of my blogger thoughts this week. I do wonder if that hasn’t had a negative influence on my weeklong reflections…I hope not, but I welcome any and all feedback on the matter.

What I know is that today’s Simple Abundance challenge struck a special chord with me. Living in Wisconsin, a state that gets cold and snowy and the hours of sunlight are at an extreme shortage this time of year, the concept of light amidst the darkness speaks to me.

“Outside, winter’s darkness closes in,” Breathnach writes. “Inside, you have found your own light.” We find light in the little things that may seem otherwise insignificant throughout the day, like that special treat mom gives me before she goes back to work after lunch, or that bowl of peas dad gives me after he and mom share a yummy Friday night steak dinner.Light Amidst Darkness

So again I enjoy today’s daily prompt in coordination with my daily journey toward comfort and joy:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/daily-prompt-free-association/

Write down the first words that comes to mind when we say . . .

. . . home.

. . . soil.

. . . rain.

Use those words in the title of your post.

Love play live. When I think of home, soil, and rain, those are the first three words that come to mind for me.

…home = love: Mom, this one’s for you. We both love Phillip Phillips, but when I hear his lyrics to “Home,” I think of what you and dad did for me when you brought me home from the humane society. I picture these words coming from you, which fills my heart with so much love there really are no words to explain my thankfulness. Except for those set to beautiful chords by Mr. Phillips himself:

Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They  fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down love
If you get lost,  you can always be found
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going  to make this place your home.”

…soil = play: Dad, this one’s for you. All those times you we play around in the backyard when you don’t think mom is looking…those are some of my most favorite moments. I know sometimes I make a mess of the yard, and then I track dirt into the house, but you love me nonetheless. And I know you didn’t consider yourself a “dog person” before we met, so our quiet moments together without anyone else mean that much more to me. I love you, dad.

…rain = life: This one’s for my family. I know what its like to seek shelter in the rain without a warm, loving home. I would prefer not to sleep under a stinky green garbage unit ever again. Yet somehow rain is a reminder that I probably will never have to.  Because I have home and soil, I am thankful for rain. I greet the reminder of my blessings in life.

Inside, I have found my light.

 

Hope in Gratitude January 14, 2013

Hope in GratitudeWriting can be a bit like life. Some days are like poetry, weaving experiences together in the most beautiful (albeit sometimes ironically morbid) of prose. Those days can be easier than others to write things worth reading. Other days are like the worst case of writer’s block. Nothing among the list of one’s ordinary function comes easy. Even waking up (or picking up a pen and paper) sounds absolutely impossible on “one of those days.”

Either way, I’m starting to notice how easy it is to find something to bring a ray of sunshine into even the cloudiest case of writer’s block. I say this because if its possible for a dog to have what humans refer to as “one of those days,” that was my life today. Instead of shattering a glass on the hardwood or breaking a nail (which I’ve heard can be quite painful for womenfolk), I struggled to find any inspiration in today.

Mom journeyed back to this place she calls work today. I missed her terribly. After all the time off for her leg surgery, I realize I’d gotten spoiled with people time during the day. But to make matters worse, I could tell things didn’t go well by her emotional state when she came home over her lunch break. And again when she came home from work well after the sun went down. And I will be the first to admit it: a tough day on her takes a toll on me. I can easily slip into a darker way of thinking, wishing more than anything I can somehow be that lantern of love I’ve pledged to be while at the same time not having any idea of how to light the match.

Then something hits me. A ray of sunshine makes its way through the cloudy darkness that is the blank screen or notepad mocking me with its silence. Today it was two things combining in perfect harmony, just like poetry coming together on the page: music and good writing. Two obvious things that inspire me (and lots of other thoughtful writers, poets and songwriters), but as I am embracing simplicity this year I find solace in (even) these most obvious of things. Miracles happen in simple moments like this.

I was reading today’s thoughts on Simple Abundance, which focus on finding specific things to be thankful for in even the cloudy days while listening to “Tell Me a Story” on Phillip Phillips’ album.

“Hope is just a ray of what everyone should see
alone is the street where you found me
scared of what’s behind you
and scared of what’s in front
live with what you have now
and make the best of what’s to come.”

Phillips sings to me his guitar-stringed thoughts on the world, and I find myself so grateful for his words that I want to share them with anyone who reads. Quite the paradox, since today’s Simple Abundance entry cites the thoughts of author Melody Beattie.

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow,” she said.

Tantalizing little cursor on a blank screen? You’re no match for me. Trouble lighting the match for my lantern of love? Forget about it. There is hope in gratitude, even on a day like today.