Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

I Will Have Lived February 26, 2015

It’s something I’ve honestly never done. I guess I could blame any number of things for why it isn’t a priority in my life. Regardless, I can’t say its something I’d ever like to do.

Planning ahead. From the ground up, it never has been and never will be something I particularly care to do.

I’ve found through my life experience that if something is meant to be it will be. I believe that everything that happened to me as a puppy – from that moment I lost my birth mom and brothers to my time on the streets to my time with that first foster family who returned me to the humane  society – led me to where I am today. I wouldn’t redo any of it and I have no regrets. Thinking big thoughts

And if I look back in time, I know for certain no amount of strategic planning on my part would have gotten me to this point. I’m at the mercy of my people for most things, and I wouldn’t change that for love or money.

So when I heard the words of one of America’s beloved founding founders, I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe I’ve had it wrong all this time.

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail,” suggested Ben Franklin. As one who has never really made (or executed) a plan in my entire doggie life, I found this concept somewhat troubling. It made me wonder what my life would have looked like if I had somehow made a plan. Or what it would look like if I made one now.

I thought maybe five years would be a good place to start. Especially since that’s the equivalent to 35 in dog years. In five years (God willing) I will be twelve. Or 84 in dog years.

What’s interesting is that based on where I’m at in life, five years seems like a blink of an eye. Five years ago, I was a few short months away from finding my forever home. Or my forever people were a few months away from finding me. That feels like yesterday. And it feels like years and years ago. At the same time.

I think that’s why I’ve never tried planning ahead. Not only because I believe in making the best of any situation (and therefore don’t think I need a plan), but because I’ve never had a reason to question the natural way of things. It might not be a popular perspective, but it’s one I’ve decided to stick to. Does that make me a failure? I don’t think so. Instead I chose to live the life I’ve been blessed with, embracing the twists and turns that make it interesting.

Because when those five years are up I might not have done anything according to the plan. But I will have lived. And to me that means more than any strategic plan ever could.

 

Dream A Little Dream June 20, 2014

I don’t think I would admit it to just anyone. But I’ve been having this nightmare over and over ever since I heard the worst bedtime story ever. Apparently the other day when mom and dad took dear baby Carter to see all of those other babies, crying happened. A lot of crying. It was one of those instances where the people thought it was a good idea to take pictures of all six children (who are under the age of 3) together for some silly reason. The joke is on them.Dreaming in Fairy Tales

Today I finally saw video documentation of the moments, and I’ve got to say. It was pretty epic. One baby was crying and the rest chimed in like it was Canon in D handbell-style. But it wasn’t. It was family weekend with babies and everything was supposed to be perfect. The thing is, life is so frequently imperfect that it makes me wonder about this thing called perfection in the first place.

Perfection, when it does happen, seems unreal. Like it’s somehow unbelievable or unattainable or something. Reality is so much better if you find a way to discover joy in. Because (at least in my humble doggie opinion) there is too much pressure when one is in constant pursuit of perfection. It does not align with the pursuit of happiness, therefore I do not support it.

So in this moment of reality that I’ve relived over and over as a nightmare, I find an ironic sense of peace. Call me an optimist, but even in nightmares I find serenity if I search hard enough. Today didn’t take much of a search. I don’t suppose I should be surprised that today’s source of wisdom is inspired by a favorite transcendentalist thinker of mine.

“For each thorn, there’s a rosebud… for each twilight — a dawn… for each trial — the strength to carry on,” suggested Ralph Waldo Emerson. “For each stormcloud — a rainbow… for each shadow — the sun… for each parting — sweet memories when sorrow is done.”

Not every dream ends in happiness. Not every day is filled with rosebuds, or dawns, or strength or rainbows. But these are the days that make us appreciate the days filled with smiles, sunshine and all things happy. These are the days filled with joy, from the ground up.

 

On Making Mistakes May 8, 2014

It’s happened to the best of us. We looked back on something and thought to ourselves “self, that was not the best idea.” That was absolutely the wrong thing to do in that situation. That was a mistake.

But as I am in the business of not having any regrets, I have come to view such things as important (and almost necessary) pieces of anyone’s life puzzle. I do say this with some authority in the matter, as I (not unlike most characters) have a past worth considering. I’ve made questionable decisions.

My Napping BuddyLike the day I defended myself (and my dear little person at the time named Jo) against the man with the leather belt. And the time I jumped the fence in my attempt to escape from my first (failed) adoptive home in Port Washington. Or, most recently, the time I chased that rabbit around the neighborhood of my grandma’s house the night before mom had baby Carter. I gave my poor beloved forever mom an emotional heart attack that night that I still wish I could take back.

I’m not sure why I relived all of these images in my daydreams today. Or at least I wasn’t until I noticed something dear Carter did. One minute he was there in his jumping gismo, happy as ever. The next, he was not. He tried to get his big ole baby foot out of the jumper and ended up in a very uncomfortable position. Not sure whether he’ll make that mistake again.

But I suppose that is indeed the point of it all. Because let’s be honest. It has happened to the best of us. We’ve all done things in life that we find questionable later. Things we wish we could take back. Things we deem to be mistakes.

But, as usual, I agree with Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, who challenged that “a life making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life doing nothing.” I think sometimes we need to make these mistakes to remind ourselves where we are at in life. We need to make these mistakes to remember the lessons from them. We need to make these mistakes to live.

 

Acres of Diamonds April 28, 2014

I stand for a lot of things. The least of which is a dog’s right to the occasional piece of bacon. But I also make a point to stand for the big things too. Like freedom. Love. Life. The pursuit of happiness. I live these things in my daily life. They are part of who I am.

So you can imagine how it was today to see baby Carter stand for something. He stood for himself today. At the tender age of (almost) four months old, my dear little person actually resembled a little person today. He stood on his own two legs all by himself. Kind of. He had a little support from the ottoman behind him. But it was still such a remarkable developmental milestone to witness.This is what happiness looks like

It reminded me that he is going to stand a lot in his life. It’s easy to forget this since he still spends the majority of his time in someone’s loving arms. He’s not mobile (yet). He still sleeps more than he’s awake. (Not that I can talk in that regard). But soon enough my little person will indeed be standing on his own, both literally and figuratively speaking.

He’s going to have thoughts and opinions about things. He’s going to learn right from wrong. He’s going to learn about powerful emotions. He’s going to live. It’s all so surreal to think about right now, yet I found myself wondering today what he will stand for in his life.

I hope he takes a page from my book about the bacon. If he doesn’t (apparently it’s not the best thing for people’s health), that’s okay as long as he learns to stand for the big things instead. Like freedom. Love. Life. The pursuit of happiness. And Joy. From the ground up, this is my wish today. Because as I watched dear Carter stand up today, the words of American motivational speaker Earl Nightengale came to mind.

“You are, at this moment, standing right in the middle of your own acres of diamonds,” he said. That is all I can hope for today and always.

 

The Pursuit of Happiness July 4, 2013

Disappointment. In a word, that is apparently how thousands of people who attended the 3rd of July fireworks in my hometown felt in response to the highly anticipated event. It was gloomy, foggy and cooler than anticipated for the spectators, the majority of whom had been holding their spots for the fireworks show as long as a couple of days. And after all that time waiting, the show was much more a feast for the ears than the eyes.

Silly FaceTonight the noise carries on as people celebrate Independence Day all over America. It’s a day set aside to remember the sacrifices that have been made for our freedoms, and (in turn) pause to recognize the anniversary of the birth of our independence. The day is laden with traditions, most of which have always involved parades, picnics and fireworks. In a dog’s life, that means a day filled with treats, treats, and more treats. (Watermelon anyone?)

Though I have to admit I have never particularly cared for the loud bangs and booms that accompany fireworks, I do believe wholeheartedly in what they represent. They are bright, colorful and vibrant as they create a beautiful masterpiece in the sky. Aglow with radiating light, spectators smile and laugh and bond with family in these precious moments. Memories are created that last forever.

Unfortunately for the thousands of people who attended the fireworks in my hometown yesterday, the memories aren’t very positive. It was certainly a show they’ll never forget, but not in a good way. This got me thinking about what today is really about. Freedom. Liberty. Sacrifice. The pursuit of happiness.

None of these are found in fireworks. In fact, the fireworks gone awry remind me a bit of our best laid plans that tend to skid off track sometimes. It’s frustrating. No one likes or appreciates the detour (while it’s happening at least). And for good reason. Valuable time and effort goes into planning something so it is upsetting when things don’t turn out. And we do love and embrace our traditions. But things don’t always turn out.

Disappointment. Thousands of people felt it four about an hour straight yesterday. It is in these moments, when we’re about to let that demon of negativity into our hearts and minds, that it is most important for us to make our own fireworks. To be our own fireworks. To bring light and smiles to those around us and (in turn) to ourselves.  Let’s start ourselves a new tradition of sharing the fireworks of joy this year. That way no one will even notice if the actual fireworks are a gloomy haze of nothingness.

 

Living in the Moment May 1, 2013

I realized today I have done a fair share of blogging about the weather. I’m not even sure how riveting a dog’s thoughts on the weather are, but (spoiler alert!) I’m about to do it again.

It began with a special moment I had with my mom in the snow. Then there was more snow. And more cold. And rain, my goodness, have we had rain. While some of it has been positive, I will admit to complaining (in the best way I know how) in some of my commentary as well.Smelling the Roses It wasn’t that long ago I asked the world where art thou spring?

I finally have my answer. Spring is here. Well, actually summer is here early, and probably not for long. Today is the second day in a row of unseasonably warm weather. Given my outspoken longing for warmth throughout the majority of what technically should be considered spring in Wisconsin, I would be remiss if I didn’t bring attention to the beauty around me the last couple of days. All of the snow is melted and all of the rain has left behind it a sea of color. Trees and grass are so brilliantly green they are almost blinding. Magnolia trees (which usually bloom in this area right around Easter) are finally bearing their beautiful pink and white flowers and daffodils, lilies and tulips seemed to shoot out of the ground and flower overnight.

The world around me is a piece of art right now and I am soaking it all in. (Especially since the weather forecast for the next couple of days brings our temperatures back down into the 30s and 40s). The wait has proven worthwhile, but the resulting beauty has become a study of something I find all too frequently in our society.

How true it is that is can be so much easier to pine and long and lust after what we don’t have than it is to soak up what we do? “Forever is composed of nows,” as American poet Emily Dickenson put it.

I spent all that time praying for spring to finally come and yet I almost didn’t stop and take notice when it did. Now that it’s here I realized it’s one thing to live in the moment, but sometimes that is exactly when we should stop and appreciate the brilliance of what that moment has to offer. Most likely, it offers joy from the ground up. Musings and commentary on the weather aside, that is what it is all about for me.