Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Those Three Words May 11, 2013

I never really know what to expect when I spend time with the little people in my life. One minute I’m the pickle in the middle in a game involving one of my favorite stuffed hedgehogs. The next minute I’m being propped up across from an iPad being faux-interviewed about my life. Everything is an adventure in their minds. Everything seems new and exciting. I find inspiration in the surprises at every corner, and today was no exception.Pickle in the Middle

“I love you Wiley,” Abigail said, as she gave me a random and surprisingly lung-crushing hug amidst our game of pickle in the middle this afternoon. Like many of the best of love’s most precious moments, it caught me off guard. Like the North Face jackets and Coach purses of the world, the “l-word” has lost some of its impact due to overuse. 

But that doesn’t keep my little doggie mind from going crazy when I think about some of the things I love. Peanut butter. My forever people. The driver’s seat in any car. Popsicles. Long walks on sunny afternoons. My friends in the blogosphere. Aaron Rodgers. The little people in my life. My forever home. This is only a mere sample of my laundry list of people, places and things that come to mind when my heart starts to race as a side effects of thinking about the l-word.

While I am sure that no two people share the exact same list, I can also venture to say that diversity is the common thread any two lists would share. So how is it we feel these different kinds of feelings and file them all under the l-word in our personal dictionary of life?

I think it’s to do with some other l-words we all know all too well. Longing. Loss. Lies. These are some of the realities of the world in which we live. These words (and the emotional havoc they bring) are some things everyone has in common. No one’s life is perfect. If it wasn’t this it would be something else.Abby and I

But in love there is victory. Relief. Truth. Life experience brings love full circle by allowing us to appreciate the good things, no matter how silly. Perhaps it is because the loss and lies that made up much of my puppyhood made me long to feel life-changing love. One of my biggest fears was that I would never find it. The l-word. Or worse, I wouldn’t feel it again after the hurt I’d experienced.

But as American industrialist Henry Ford once said, “one of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.”

I am so blessed, not only to have found so many things to love in life, but to find it coming from so many different people, places, and things. I never really know what to expect when I spend time with the little people in my life. But I find inspiration in their creativity and sense of adventure. And I live for surprises like my moment with Abigail today. They might be said too much, but those three words have yet to lose their meaning to me.


Listen to Your Heart March 4, 2013

I’ve been thinking of Rusty more frequently lately. I had so few conversations with him in our brief time as neighbors at the humane society, but in terms of philosophical impact less was most definitely more for our relationship.

I remember being especially puzzled when he responded to my passionate delivery of my life story with a single line. I had poured my heart out to him about my mom and my brothers, and how we got separated and my time on the streets and my time with the man with the leather belt, and all he said in response was “we get the love we think we deserve.” I later discovered he borrowed the line from Stephen Chbosky’s “Perks of Being a Wallflower.”

I was irritated at the time. I remember thinking how that was kind of a rude way to respond to a vulnerable situation. I had shared some pretty intense stories and all he had to say in response was a measly one-liner. So you can imagine my surprise when my thoughts returned to that moment today.

It was a pretty normal moment and yet today the moment brought my thoughts to Rusty. Mom got home from work and dad immediately swept me up off kitchen floor and mom and dad both spent a good five minutes squeezing me and petting me and loving me. It was fabulous. And then it happened. It was like Rusty was there in the room with us, winking a wise little wink at me.

“We get the love we think we deserve,” I heard him say like it was yesterday. It’s amazing the integral role time plays in understanding life’s lessons. It’s an intense thought to be sure, putting the responsibility for happiness into the hands of our own occasionally fragile hearts. It holds us accountable, keeps us honest, and spits in the face of low self-esteem. I often wonder why it is so much easier to listen to our hearts in matters of others while simultaneously ignoring what our heart has to say about ourselves.

Less is not more in matters of the heart. Take time today to listen to the positive things your heart has to say about you. Do you hear it? You deserve to be loved at least as much as you love others. Remember that.Listen to your heart


Love Over Troubled Water February 14, 2013

Whoever said it is better to have loved and lost than to never love at all doesn’t know the painful bliss of true love.

There is this quote on a wall in my forever home that makes me reflect on painful bliss this Valentine’s Day. “There is only one happiness in life,” it reads, “to love and be loved.” As a believer in the crucial role of happiness and joy in one’s life, I must admit that today my heart is especially with those who have loved and lost.

Love You World

There’s this thing about true love. Or big love, as Lindsey Buckingham called it. It is unconditional, unstoppable, and indisputable. It has a life of its own. And that’s what I love most about it. Love is life.

But what about the simple physiological truth involved with big love? Without a heartbeat, we stop living. And without love, our heart struggles to beat. So we live to love. To those surrounded with loved ones, today is a cherished day to consider the role love plays in our lives.

Today (as much as I love them too) my heart is not with those people. No. Today my heart is with those who are alone. My heart is with those who have loved and lost, (or worse) those have yet to love at all.

“I was never one to patiently pick up broken fragments and glue them together again and tell myself that the mended whole was as good as new,” wrote Margaret Mitchell, who is best known for her classic American novel Gone With the Wind. “What is broken is broken — and I’d rather remember it as it was at its best than mend it and see the broken places as long as I lived.”

At its core, a truth that honest can sometimes be too painful to bear. And yet it ironically provides a freedom like no other. Sometimes the most painful truth is our own emotional bridge over troubled water. In truth there is an acceptance of the past that most likely holds our gift of emotional resuscitation. Painful as it may be, there are dreams in our past that could use a fresh breath. There are dreams in our life that need to make it over that bridge. Our very own buried treasure might be lurking around a scary dark corner. If only we could get to it!

We can. That is my goal on this day of love: to nudge everyone I care about a teeny bit closer to the love over their troubled water. For some, the nudge could lead a little closer toward self acceptance. For others, the sky is the limit. The point is today is a day for the weary who are feeling small, like those in Simon and Garfunkel‘s classic song. “When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all,” the duo sings.

Like them, please know “I’m on your side when times get rough and friends can’t be found…like a bridge over troubled water I will lay me down.”


Love is Your Life to Live February 13, 2013

Most people know chocolate can kill dogs. Consequently I avoid the stuff like the plague. But that doesn’t mean I need to stay away from the adorable phrases on the aluminum foil packaging. My mom indulged in a chocolate tonight with packaging that read “Be your own valentine.”

This got me to pondering words like courage. Strength. Life.

Great thinkers throughout history have linked big ticket words like this to what is arguably one of the most fundamental words in the English language: love. There is great debate about whether this elementary English word should be classified in dictionaries as a noun, verb or adjective. Consider your source people. In the world of Wiley, love is most definitely a verb.

Like true and authentic joy, love is your life to live. But there is this thing about love that I could never quite put my paw on…and I know it is my own fault. Every day I make the conscious decision to see the best in people and things. And every day I overlook the best in myself.

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength,” said ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, “while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”

It is not easy for most people to love their authentic selves deeply. It means accepting the unacceptable, letting go of grudges, and giving your soul a bear hug. It takes courage. It is something I should do, but don’t.


It is hard to love yourself when you get separated from your mom too young and no one will take you in. It is hard to love yourself when you sit at the shelter watching puppy after puppy get adopted while you pace hopelessly in your cage. It is hard to love yourself when you are returned to the shelter after being adopted by a family that didn’t have enough love to go around. I’ve always had an abundance of love to share with everyone but myself.

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into place,” actress Lucille Ball advised. “You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” So today I plead with you to join me in my newfound quest to literally take the words of Gandhi to heart.

“Where there is love there is life,” he said. My life has not always been easy to love, but that will no longer keep me from living an authentic life of love. As my own valentine, its my life to live.