Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

A Heart Full of Seeds March 22, 2015

It’s not the first time it happened, and I’m sure it wont be the last. My guess is this story started yesterday as I enjoyed a little more time than usual in my backyard paradise. The weather was nice, so I relaxed in the sun for a bit under my favorite tree.

I found myself daydreaming about the warm summer days to come, with Carter running around and swinging in the tree swing dad hung for him last year. And the new baby, most likely all bundled up and protected from the sun. And mom and I in my beloved cozy spot with her in her hammock. There is so much to look forward to as the weather continues to warm up, I found myself lost in all of it. Second Chances

So I suppose it makes sense I didn’t particularly stop and take notice when a teeny tiny tick decided to move his permanent residence from somewhere in my favorite tree to somewhere in my neck fur. I went about my daydreams and (as far as I knew) all was well.

That is, until my forever dad was petting me this morning and found the creature had embedded itself into my neck. He and mom immediately jumped into action, mom consoling me as dad carefully extracted it. It doesn’t necessarily hurt, but it does feel a bit itchy. I know a visit to the doggie doctor is likely in my future this week, too, just to make sure everything is okay.

I’m sure everything will be fine. But as I thought about this thing ticks do, burrowing into a host and potentially infecting it with disease, it reminded me a bit of that thing called negativity. It’s not a favorite people feature of mine, and for good reason. I feel like for every good thing you share with someone and they pass along, there are ten bad things that seem to catch fire even easier. I don’t know why this is, but I know I don’t like it.

Nor do I like the impact it has on the host it infects with its parasitic evil. However, I hold the belief that just like my dear forever parents jumped into action to remove that tick, negativity so too can be removed. It’s not always easy to flip the switch and turn things around. It can even be painful. But (at least in my opinion) it’s necessary.

“Your heart is full of fertile seeds, waiting to sprout,” suggested Japanese thinker Morihei Ueshiba.

None of those seeds will sprout in a cloak of negativity. They need light, they need joy, to come to life.

 

Lanterns of Love May 12, 2013

Every visitor to she Schmidt home is welcomed by the same message above the stairway as they walk in the door. “Home is where your story begins.” I see it every day, yet today it speaks to me and I see it in a different light. I think it’s because today is mother’s day in my neck of the woods; a day set aside to show gratitude and respect for everything one’s mother has done in his or her life. I’m blessed to have more than one of these characters as lanterns of love in my life, so today I take a moment’s paws to recognize each one.

Dear birth mom,

It’s Wiley. Your son. I know it’s been a while (almost five years now), and words can’t tell you how sorry I am that is the case. Our time together was short-lived, but I want you to know how special each moment was to me. Age and experience has taught me how challenging it must have been caring for my two brothers and I all by yourself. I’m so proud of you. And I want you to know I’m okay. Well, actually I’m better than okay. I’m spectacular. I’m happy. And I found a forever home with people who love me so much they sometimes squeeze me so hard I can’t breathe. They take really good care of me, mom. I wish you could meet them and they could take care of you too. Are you okay out there? I sure hope so. You deserve to live happiness like this. Wherever you are, please know I love you now as much as I ever did.

With all the love in my little doggie heart,

Wiles

Dear Jo,

Remember me? I was your little buddy in the house with the man and the leather belt. I hate that he took me away from you that day all those people years ago. I miss you every day and pray you are living a the life you deserve to live, with any luck separate from that awful dad of yours. Even though you were only a little girl, I know you would have done everything you could to keep me from harm’s way. You were a hero to me, a mother in your own rite. If there is one thing I’d want you to know above all else, it is that you will be a fantastic mother one day. Never doubt yourself.

With all the love in my little doggie heart,

Wiles

Dear Katie,

You probably don’t remember me. I am one of so very many doggies you help at the Oshkosh Humane Society, and it’s been almost three years now since you last saw me. But sometimes it is those who we meet in passing that make some of the most distinguished impacts on our life, and this is true of you. You didn’t do it for praise or adoration, and that’s why every little thing you did for me meant so very much. You are a living example of a servant leader. Thank you.

With all the love in my little doggie heart,

Wiles

Dear forever mom,

Thank YOUI know you haven’t always been dealt the easiest hands of cards to play in life. I know you struggle with some things more than you let on.

More than once I’ve seen you stop and look away from yourself in the mirror, just like Sarah Ban Breathnach talks about in the early pages of Simple Abundance. I’ve seen you cry, and heard you question you direction in life. Sometimes you talk to me about your feelings and I wish more than anything I could tell you I understand (at least the majority) of what you’re saying. I’d start with telling you to see yourself the way the world sees you. You are beautiful, strong, and confident (even if you doubt it). You are more special to me than you will ever possibly know. As my number one fan, I know you are reading my blog, so I will share with you a sample of Breathnach’s words that speak to me.

“Turn away from the world this year and begin to listen,” she writes. “Listen to the whispers of your heart. Look within. Your silent companion has lit lanterns of love to illuminate the path to Wholeness. At long last, the journey you were destined to take has begun.”

I love you mom. Let me be a lantern of love for you.

With all the love in my little doggie heart,

Wiles

Home is where your story begins, and I can honestly say each of these women has been home to me. Lanterns of love for me. They are all important characters that define chapters of my life, and I would not be who I am without each and every one of them. Today I say thank you these women. And today I say thank you to all the women who are these characters to people (and pets) in your lives. You know who you are. Thank you.

 

You Get What You Give April 5, 2013

Four months ago, it was just an idea. I was playing in the snow with my mom and she smiled the most beautiful smile and it came to me. I want to find a way to make more people smile like that.  A few days later, I began my blogging journey on a quest to share joy: from the ground up with whoever needed it. While I obviously hoped that my joy would reach people, I nearly fell out of my little doggie bed when I got my first couple of followers. “Believe you can and you’re halfway there,” as Teddy Roosevelt said.

Today, I celebrate you, my inspiration, my supporters, my friends. The blogosphere has brought to life the words of Ronald Reagan who once said “we can’t help everyone but everyone can help someone.” What a powerful impact we can have through simplicity. What a blessing to be able to be the difference we want to see in the world. Dear blogging world. You’ve been so good to me. While I set out to share my joy with the world, I did not expect the joy you would share with me.

2013-02-14 20.21.54

Thank you especially to Kuruk, Lissa and Lisa who have most recently nominated me for the Versatile and Very Inspiring Blog awards. Both types of awards make a similar suggestion to include seven facts about yourself and then paw forward the appreciation to other inspirational bloggers.

Getting to Know Me

1) I recently got a new collar that says Rescued on it. It might be my new favorite thing.

2) I don’t bark, except when animals (live or animated) appear on the television.

3) I believe in being the change I want to see in the world. Change starts in the mind, but it lives in the heart.

4) I purr like a cat when I’m getting an especially nice scratch in the right place.

5) Little people are wise beyond their years if you ask me.

6) I own a more than one doggie Packer jersey.

7) My favorite place to sleep is right between my mom and dad in my forever home.

I learn something new every day and a lot of that is thanks to the relationships I’ve been fortunate enough to have in the blogosphere. Again, I mean no disrespect to those who nominated me in doing this, but I nominate you – reader and supporter of my blog for these awards. There are so many deserving partners who inspire me on a daily basis with their words, commentary and friendship. Thank you all for being you.

Four months ago, I had no idea who you were, and now I consider each and every one of you a valuable part of my life. “Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle,” suggested Buddha, “and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

 

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.

 

Little Mr. Sunshine March 17, 2013

Me and My ShadowI don’t care what the 30-degree Wisconsin weather says. The birds in the big spruce tree outside the bedroom window are singing beautifully, I spotted a few rabbit footprints in the remaining snow and I even had a run-in with some of my chipmunk and squirrel “friends.” Spring is in the air today. And this afternoon I spent some alone time in the backyard soaking up the sun and getting lost in my thoughts.

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine and shadows will fall behind you,” great American poet and transcendental thinker Walt Whitman suggests. “The art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity.”

Simply put, I cannot wait for spring and summer and the various adventures they bring. So I keep my face forward while the shadow of the frigid temperature mocks me. I worry for all of those in regions like mine who suffer from some degree of seasonal affective disorder, as this has been a brutal winter filled with more than its fair share of dreary days and snow storms. I love my snow blanket of diamonds as much as the next dog, but enough is enough. So I say to my shadow to be silent. Spring and summer, like most happy things, are a state of mind. Spring is coming, this much is for sure.

“There’s two kinds of people in this world, there’s winners and there’s losers,” says Greg Kinnear’s character Richard in Little Miss Sunshine. ” Okay, you know what the difference is? Winners don’t give up.” Richard and his family didn’t give up on Little Miss Sunshine, and I am not giving up on spring. The great Punxsutawney Phil did not lie to us when he refused to listen to his shadow on Groundhog day a month and a half ago. And if he did, I will find my own sunshine in days like today.

“What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity,” English poet, politician and playwright Joseph Addison suggests. “These are but trifles, to be sure; but scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.”

Albeit brisk, Mr. Whitman himself would have something important to say about today. Yes, it might be a brisk 30 degrees outside, but the sun is shining and spring is definitely in the air. So today I aspire to bring sunshine into anyone’s dreary day. Simplicity is beautiful in moments like these.
 

Forever Young March 6, 2013

We’ve all heard (and perhaps experienced) the reality of not knowing what we have until it’s gone. Well, that pretty much sums up my first day without my mom and brothers. I thought I was doing pretty well for myself on my own. I had found a cardboard box that seemed cozy outside a restaurant that smelled like the delicious steak my mom and brothers had once shared. Moreover, I was on my own without needing to compete with my brothers for attention, food, or decisions on what to explore that day. Life was good…for about five minutes.

That is about how long it took for me to realize how lonely I was without my family. It was only about another minute that I realized how sparse the garbage at the restaurant was. Then it started raining right through my cardboard box. At least with my family around, I had love and warmth, which fed the soul more than I realized.

And so began the litany of questions that came along with being a premature adult. “Adult life is dealing with an enormous amount of questions that don’t have answers,” American musician Bruce Springsteen once said. He nailed it on the head with that one. Where had my mom and brothers gone and why was I not with them now? Will I ever see them again?

Questions don’t always have answers in adulthood. I didn’t ever see them again, but I’ve resolved to no longer be sad about that. I would have given anything in that moment to be wrestling with my brothers or getting scolded by my mom. Instead, I was on my own. A grown up. What that day taught me was that grown up is better as a state of mind than it is in practicality.Young at Heart

It breaks my heart to see the little people in my life trying to be “grown up” so soon. I wish I could tell them somehow that it’s actually not that great. I find some odd irony in the truth that (in my opinion) the best thing about being an adult is learning to be better with each passing day. I’ve said before that nothing is worthless if a lesson is learned and I truly believe that. “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether twenty or eighty,” said the founder of Ford Motor Company Henry Ford. “Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep you mind young.”

I feel the most grown up when I realize how much I have yet to learn. If grown up is a state of mind that I’m forever young. At the dog age of four, most dog-to-people age calculations put me at about 30 years old in people years. Regardless of how it’s calculated, my time on this Earth has taught me to seek answers in what we have now. Before it’s gone.

 

Open My Eyes? I See Happiness March 2, 2013

Every now and then, my parents take off my collar. And I hate it. I am listless and anxious and I want it back. While it definitely eases in the scratching of my ears, that is the only positive thing I have to say about any amount of time without my collar.

So it might come as a surprise that my favorite character in the Disney classic Lady and the Tramp is none other than Tramp himself. He is such a strong, confident independent personality. He welcomes adventure at every turn and challenges those who don’t. He is an inspiration.

But let’s face it. He’s got it all wrong. He spends the majority of the movie trying to convince the domesticized dogs that life on the streets is better than life on a leash. Where Lady sees nice homes and fences, Tramp sees limitations. “Open your eyes! Look, there’s a whole hunk of world down there, with no fence around it. Where two dogs can find adventure and excitement. And beyond those distant hills, who knows what wonderful experiences? And it’s all ours for the taking, Pige. It’s all ours.”

Camping 2012

That’s the thing about adventure. It is all ours, but (in my humble opinion) it is better shared with people. I would take life on a leash with the right people over life without it any day of the week. I’ve been boating, camping, and overall adventuring and I enjoyed it that much more because I was with my people. I am happy, they are happy, and all is well in the world. My happy place is with my people, regardless of what we’re doing together.

Like Oprah Winfrey says, “the biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.” That is what I do each day, leash or no leash. Life with no collar makes me anxious. I would much rather be wearing my it because my collar has my tags. My collar says who I am and where my home is. Without it, I am a stray again. Wise as he may have been, Tramp questioned what the leash-and-collar set does for excitement. It’s no question to me. I say it brings it to life.

 

Hide and Seek No More February 28, 2013

Everything around me was gray. I was standing on a platform that appeared to be floating and not connected in anyway to the walls around me. It was flying down and I was struggling to keep my balance. “Newbie,” I heard someone mumble nearby. I didn’t look around because that would have made me lose my focus. Instead I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and…

my first thought upon waking this morning was I was happy to be alive. Shortly after that, my senses returned and I realized I was really hungry and really had to go outside. But when I opened my eyes and saw I wasn’t on that platform surrounded in gray plunging to what seemed like inevitable death, I knew I’d made it. I was blessed with another day filled with naps, treats, playtime and love. How lucky I am.

I know it isn’t this way for everyone. I will admit, it isn’t even always that way for me. It is a conscious choice we make each day to see it as a fresh canvas ready and waiting for our uniquely personal brushstrokes. And some days are not masterpieces. Or they don’t seem like it at the time at least. Even the works of Pablo Picasso confused (and, in some cases, continue to confuse) its viewers at first. “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls,” Picasso said. That’s not so confusing.

So today I take a page from Picasso’s sketchbook and paint myself a portrait of gratitude. By doing so, I breathe life into gratitude, just as Sarah Ban Breathnach suggests we take time to do in Simple Abundance. Two months ago, I reflected on Breathnach’s concept of a gratitude journal as a necessary part of the Simple Abundance experience in Hope in Gratitude.

“If you want to continue on this journey with me, the gratitude journal is not an option,” Breathnach scolds. “Why? Because you simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life.” One month ago, I challenged myself to write my own eulogy, forcing me to reflect on the value of life. Since then, I have taken Breathnach’s concept one tiny paw step further and made it a point not to separate my gratitude journal from my other musings, as a way to trick myself into being more grateful. And I would argue that my little trick with my mind is working. I’m not the same dog I was two months ago.Thankful to be Alive

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words,” American president John F. Kennedy once said, “but to live by them.”

That is why I want to share my perspective with the world. It’s kind of like American comedian Jim Carrey said “I wake up some mornings…and I go, ‘remember how good this is because you can lose it.” I’m done playing hide and seek with life.

Instead when I wake I say here I am world, happy and alive.

 

On Being Happy: Real Life Reverence February 26, 2013

My mom came across something kind of special today. It is one of those priceless treasures that might seem worthless to the wrong person. I know this because she was devastated about a month ago when she couldn’t find it. So you can imagine her excitement when she found it at work today. And I would be lying if I said I wasn’t pretty excited myself, since it probably wouldn’t be priceless if not for its value to both of us.

Animal ID: 10451105
Species: Dog
Breed: Terrier Mix
Age: 2 years 3 months
Sex: Male
Size: Small
Color: Tan
Intake date: 7/31/2010

Hi, my name is Wiley! I am a terrier mix and like all terrier breeds, I have a ton of energy! I am a sweet boy that is interested in everything! I am really good at sit but would love to learn more with your help! I am one smart boy! I am very cute and I know I look lie a little lap dog, but I have a ton of energy so I like to move around a lot! I would love to take long walks and explore everything with you by my side! I have been approved to live with kids 10 years and up! I think I might possibly be great at agility. I cannot wait to find a home that needs an energetic, but sweet, dog like me. Are you the one?!

My old adoption profile from the humane society is dated August 25, 2010. Documentation in itself of one of my most happiest of days, this precious and fragile piece of paper was printed on the day I met them for the first time. My forever mom and dad. And reverent is the word for how I feel about my emotional reflection upon this authentically archeological dig, as Sarah Ban Breathnach would call it.

“Reverence is that altered state of consciousness when you feel awe and wonder because you know you are in the presence of Spirit,” Breathnach writes in Simple Abundance. “Real life—the real life we are meant to be living—begins when we restore a sense of reverence to our daily affairs.”

Today is a day for my mom and I to be reverent in remembrance of the power that happens when we make the conscious choice to turn our personal fears to purpose in life. Change is indeed a conscious choice that often translates fear into purpose. That conscious choice can bring sincere and irreplaceable happiness. Life happily ever after, if you will.

So today is the day I reflect on when real life began for me. That is just it, after all – you need to welcome that kind of magic and happiness into your life by understanding the roles that past and present play in your future. I know from experience it is easier said than done, but finding a way to bring fear to purpose does just that.

 

Negativity: The Silver Lining February 21, 2013

No is not one of my favorite people words. When I first moved into my forever home, I heard no a lot.

No, Wiley stays in the crate while we’re not home.
No, Wiley can’t come on the furniture.
No, Wiley can’t go on the beds.

As a result, I have fine-tuned my negotiating skills. I blame the inherently defiant nature of the terrier in me, but I see no as an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive.

Yes, Wiley can chill out in the kitchen while we’re not home.
Yes, Wiley can come on the furniture.
Yes, Wiley can sleep in the bed.

While my parents were away at work today, I found myself contemplating the impact that negativity has on my life. (From the comfort of the kitchen rather than the crate I might add). I realized it is my personal choice to see no as a challenge. Like heavyweight champion George Foreman, I see negativity as a gift.I'm a Yes Man

“I let that negativity roll off me like water off a duck’s back,” Forman advises. “If it’s not positive, I didn’t hear it. If you can overcome that, fights are easy.”

But that doesn’t mean everyone can fight the negativity. Not everyone sees no as a challenge. Fights may be easier with that positive mindset, but even I will admit (as in the case of no Wiley don’t chew those dirty Kleenexes), sometimes no really means no. As I think about this I find myself contemplating how I can find the silver lining in life’s negativity. Would the world really be a better place without it?

I can’t say I’m certain it would be. While I don’t always understand why, there are very good reasons for some of the no’s in my life. So no, I don’t think I would completely undo negativity. Like most things, I think what I would undo is the negative perception of circumstances. I see life through rose-colored glasses because it is a choice I make every day.

“Today I choose life,” said the late American photographer Kevin Aucoin. “Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain… To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices – today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but embrace it.”

Whether I like it or not, negativity is a part of life. Its what we do with it that matters.