Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The People That Make It Real January 31, 2015

A birthday. A baby. Job news. And a whole lot of seafood.

A day like today always starts the same way around my forever home. There is a sense of wonder and merriment that resonates with my forever mom and dad especially as preparations ensue for whatever might be to come. Music plays. The table is set. And don’t get me started on the food smells. So many deliciously mouth-watering food smells.

The best part was I don’t even think everyone realized it until it was happening. It was just going to be an informal coming together for lunch. But that turned into something else pretty quick. Celebration. From the ground up, it brings joy to life in an entirely unique way.

Before

Though I’ve gathered he would (for some reason I don’t understand) prefer not to acknowledge it, dad’s birthday is in a few days. It will never make sense to me why little ones like Carter spend all year looking forward to their birthday and then it switches when adulthood hits. But I digress.

Obviously, news from earlier this week that little person no. 2 is developing well and there is nothing to be concerned about is something to embrace with all our hearts.

And dear aunt Morgan will soon be returning to (a slightly upgraded version of) work after her medical leave for her successful carpal tunnel surgeries last month.

In these things, I felt the words of a favorite American author of mine come to life.

“Let’s choose today to quench our thirst for the ‘good life’ we think others lead by acknowledging the good that already exists in our lives,” suggested Sarah Ban Breathnach. “We can then offer the universe the gift of our grateful hearts.”

Sure, I was (more than) grateful for the scraps of table food my dear Grandma snuck to me. That made for quite a delectable treat combined with the usual purposeful droppings from dear baby Carter. But there was a sense of life in the room only the joy of celebration can bring.

A baby. A birthday. Job news. And a whole lot of seafood. Today I am grateful not just for these things, but for the people in my life that make them real. They are who make mine the good life.

 

A Living Emotion April 4, 2014

Today I was confronted with a conundrum. Happiness is a living emotion, as a favorite author of mine Sarah Ban Breathnach would say. The optimist in me believes this as truth. Yet today I encountered another living emotion. Or six.

Sadness. Grief. Devastation. Complete and utter dismay. My arsenal of positivity was not strong enough to battle these things today. I failed and I’m not afraid to admit it. It has happened before, but I don’t think it’s ever been quite this bad. Maybe it’s because I can’t say I blame them.

Mom got bad news today. Really bad news. Epically bad news. That little slip on the ice about a month ago that the doctor hoped was just a sprain? Some test called an MRI showed otherwise. It’s a torn ACL. I don’t know much about these things other than that is what mom talked so much about with her other knee before surgery the last time.

And I was here. I saw how bad it was. Mom has (not-so-jokingly) said it was worse than recovery from labor. I don’t know what happened when they went to that hospital place three months ago, but I can’t imagine it was pretty. She was there for days, after all. The knee surgery was only an outpatient procedure. She was back home the same day. And she cried. All the time. I remember her crying out in pain in the middle of the night. It was bad. wpid-20140309_115645.jpg

So the thought of it happening again has taken our whole home by complete shock. She will be completely immobile for at least a week or two. Fortunately the damage is nothing near as bad as it was in the other knee, but the doctor still estimates the recovery time as about the same as last time. How on Earth will she do the thing that matters most to her in the whole world right now? How will she take care of our little person?

These are among what I would call the big picture questions my people were asking themselves tonight. That, and a question that broke my little doggie heart. How will we ever get ahead, dad asked to no one in particular. Mom cried at the thought. It’s like I’m on a hamster wheel, she said. Every time I think I’ll break free, something holds me back and I keep spinning in useless circles. I might not care much for hamsters (as it’s in my nature as a terrier not to), but the concept of their wheel is one that has always made me a little sad.

Today sadness was the emotion living in our house. Try as I might, I realized there are some things even my best tricks can’t fix. This is a pretty awful situation. These things happen. But life goes on. If I had a message for my beloved forever people on this day of days, that would be it. Life goes on. This too shall pass. It sucks. I won’t say it doesn’t. But life will keep plodding on, and I will be here to remind them of that each and every day.

 

My Open Heart October 25, 2013

This just in – I’m being invaded. It started with diapers. Then the strange furniture (including the bed called a crib that I can’t jump into). But that could not have prepared me for this. Mom has entered something called the third trimester. I don’t know what that means exactly, but I do know the volume of baby-related buying seems to have increased exponentially in recent days and weeks.

I’m starting to wonder whether there will be any room for the little person amongst all of this stuff. Blankets and diapers and play gyms and diapers. (Did I mention diapers?) But I have noticed something amongst the village of boxes that have accumulated in what my people are calling the nursery recently I couldn’t help but share.

ContentmentMe. I’m all over the place. Or at least a dog that very closely resembles me is all over the place. On the bedding, on the changing table, on the blankets and sheets. There is a little bit of Wiley love scattered throughout the room. And I’m humbled as well as contented by this keen observation of mine.

Contentment. That is a big word in a society that seeks to consume. It’s different than gratitude and yet I know the two are dependent on each other. Contentment. That’s what I felt as I lounged on my rug in this room called the nursery. I’m drawn to it for some reason (and no, I don’t think it’s because of the dog on the bedding who looks like me). I’m not sure how to explain the special connection I have to this one little room in my forever home other than to say it really doesn’t have anything to do with the village of boxes it encompasses.

“Whatever we are waiting for – peace of mind, contentment, grace, the inner awareness of simple abundance – it will surely come to us,” writes Sarah Ban Breathnach in Simple Abundance, “but only when we are ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart.”

So I’m being invaded. By diapers and blankets and onesies (whatever those are). But none of it really matters as much as knowing the contentment that accompanies the overwhelming joy that fills our house in this exciting time. And for that my open heart is forever grateful.

 

Reach For the Stars September 6, 2013

I saw a shooting start last night. And I made a wish. But I can’t tell you that or it won’t come true.

I can tell you it was a night to remember. My mom took me along to grandma’s house, which is exciting on its own without the surprise that awaited me. Alas, my aunt was visiting from out of town so that means my usual source of attention (my mom) had just multiplied by three (to include my grandma and my aunt).

When You WishMy cousin Buddy was there too, so we wrestled and chased and engaged in our epic dog staring contests (all of which I reigned victorious). I scored a whole bunch of people food treats, including the residual ice cream from my aunt’s dessert plate. Amidst everything I was busy doing, I noticed the upbeat conversation focused on all things baby. Everything from how mom is feeling to baby name brainstorming was on the table for discussion.

And as much as I enjoyed all of this, the best part came later. The air was cool and quiet as all five of us sat outside and stared at the night sky. The great and powerful “they” say us canines can smell fear. But that’s not the only thing we can sense. In the silence of these precious moments I smelled joy. I could feel it like a cloud hovering like a protective blanket around us.

I’m generally not a noisy dog (other than when I bark protectively at any and every animal on the television – live or animated, canine or reptile), but in that moment I felt an instinctual desire to howl at the moon. Not because I wanted to communicate with other dogs as part of a hunt. Not because I was left outside too long. Rather because I wanted to share the overwhelming sense of joy I had in that moment I saw the shooting star.

I still can’t tell you what I wished for, but I can tell you this much about wishcraft. “The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do,” Sarah Ban Breathnach writes in Simple Abundance. “Don’t just entrust your hopes an wishes to the stars. Today begin learning the craft that will enable you to reach for them.”

 

Can You Hear That? September 4, 2013

I don’t care much for cell phones. I know some people call them “smart,” but I can’t say I agree. From what I can tell, these mini computers are nothing but a distraction aimed at keeping people interested in everything but their present company. (Not to mention the teeny tiny buttons are far too small for any dog to attempt to navigate and they are capable of producing sounds that hurt my little doggie ears). They are good for keeping in touch with loved ones, but (in my humble opinion) they are otherwise overused.

Can You Hear It?My mom apparently shared my feelings (albeit temporarily) today as she was so frustrated with her phone she verbally considered throwing it as hard as she could into the hardwood floor. (That’s the thing about computers – they have a way of crashing when we need them most). I stood at the ready as I do with all things about to be thrown and was highly disappointed when she didn’t follow through with her destructive plot.

As I mourned the loss of yet another battle (me versus the phone for my mom’s undivided attention), I reminded myself the real purpose of these phones. (As much as I occasionally wish they were), they are not akin to tennis balls. They are designed to make and receive calls. Therein lies its greatest blessing.

If only we had phones capable of calling us to our purpose in life. Not our job, our career, or our hobby. I’m talking about our true purpose and meaning for breathing. That is a phone I would stand behind. But alas, no such invention exists (yet) so we are left to our own devices to receive our higher calling in life. Or are we?

“No other (person) on Earth can do what you are called to do, can give to the world what you alone were sent to give through your authentic gifts,” writes Sarah Ban Breathnach in Simple Abundance. “The call may be so faint you can barely make out the message, but if you listen you will hear it.”

If you listen you will hear it. Not the incessant chiming, chirping, beeping, vibrating and singing songs those cell phones make. Because let’s face it. Even those mini computers sometimes really aren’t that “smart.” Instead be still. Listen closely. Your heart may just hold an answer your mind has been too distracted to hear.

 

A Midsummer’s Spell June 23, 2013

The weather cast a spell on me today.

I’ve always been one to appreciate lounging in the sun on a hot summer day (who isn’t?), but today I was obsessive about it. Forget the refreshing comfort of air conditioning and bring on the warming comfort of the heat, I thought. You can imagine  my disappointment when this became a point of contention with my mom and dad. I heard them talking about the heat and how I shouldn’t be in it very long…something about 100 degree heat indexes. Whatever that meant.

This is my beg face

So I begged and whined and pestered until I got my way, albeit in five-to-ten minute increments (for my alleged safety). Each time I was barely out the door before I found my comfy spot in the grass and instantly I was in heaven. Weather is one of those unbelievable constant sources of inspiration for me. I relish every falling snow diamond, find a sort of melancholy peace with the rains of spring, and now I celebrate the second official day of summer in style. All is well with the world in moments like these.

That is, until I was rudely interrupted and brought back inside. And again I began the begging game to get back into the beauty of the summer day. It was all I could think about. That’s when I remembered the date. Today isn’t just any summer day. Indeed it is Midsummer’s Eve, a special day set aside in Europe for wonder and merriment. Rich with historical culture, June 23 is celebrated with special food, dancing and plenty of time outside (weather permitting, of course).

Sarah Ban Breathnach writes of this special day in Simple Abundance, quoting the words of Canadian writer Lucy Maud Montgomery. “(Let this become) a never-to-be-forgotten summer,” Montgomery writes, “one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going — one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doings, come as near to perfection as anything can come in the world.”

The weather cast a spell on me today. All I could think about was being outside appreciating warmth in the sun’s promise of an unforgettable summer. Just as Breathnach wishes for her readers, I will share this wish with you. “May this potent Midsummer spell never be broken for you and those you love,” Breathnach writes. I know I probably should care about heat indexes. But I don’t. Instead I relish in the Midsummer’s Eve spell that was cast on me today, and breathe in all its contagious (albeit humid) joy.

 

The Holiest of Holidays June 20, 2013

We all have them. Special moments in time that are only ours, cherished deep in our hearts never to be forgotten. I was enjoying the warmth of the sun in the backyard today and one of these secret anniversaries of the heart sneaked up on me.

I remembered a day at the Oshkosh Humane Society a couple days before my parents brought me home. It was hot and muggy (like it was today) and Katie was playing with me outside. She was (by far) my favorite angel helper during my time at the shelter, because she embodied servant leadership. She made me realize the important impact someone we meet in passing can have our our lives. She did little things for me to make my time there feel more homey, like bringing me extra treats and buying me a special toy. The thing is, those little things may have been little to her but they were never little to me.

Neither was our moment together that day. We were playing catch with the Mr. Prickles she’d given me in the play area outside. She laughed and I smiled and I couldn’t tell whose happiness came first. I couldn’t tell where my joy ended and hers began. That remains one of the most memorable moments of joy in my life.

I’ve never shared that moment with anyone and today I found myself wondering why. It is these special moments, these secret anniversaries of the heart, that make up our own personal unique definitions of joy, so why on Earth would we keep them all to ourselves?

Like Sarah Ban Breathnach speaks of in Simple Abundance, it took a secret anniversary of the heart to remind me that there is always time to remember these special moments in time we cherish deep in our hearts. “But there is never time enough to commemorate what we cherish unless we pause to observe, when they occur, the holiest of holidays.”

My holiest holidays usually involve moments that might seem random to the outside eye. Like the special moment I had with my mom six months ago today. Instead of the humid mugginess, we were surrounded in the most beautiful diamonds of snow glistening as they fell down from heaven. From start to finish, everything about that moment was perfect. Again I don’t think she could possibly have known how blessed I felt to watch her run around like a ninny with me outside that day. I knew she was cold because she was so excited to get outside in the snow that she didn’t put on a sensible coat. But we played and she laughed and I couldn’t tell whether my tail wagging or her laughter came first. Joy. In a moment, there it is.

It’s no secret. Today I celebrate that day, the joy it created in my heart, and the inspiration it provided to finally put my words out there for the world to read. Today I celebrate six months in a row successfully sharing my unique perspective on things with whomever will take it. Today I celebrate you. Thank you for making my doggie dream a reality.

Playing in the snow

 

The Silence Hurricane June 11, 2013

It was like a hurricane came through the house this weekend. My mom and dad spent the better parts of Saturday and Sunday whipping around cleaning and moving furniture. I’d never seen anything like it in my treasured time in my forever home, and it frankly freaked me out. Cleaning is one thing, but this interior design coup threw me for a loop. My mind filled with questions, the least of which was what brought this on? Why now? Are we leaving? What on Earth is going on?

While I found myself feeling inexplicably ill-at-ease and fearful of the implications of the changes, I remained calm with the hope that peace would be restored. The images of undressed beds, empty bedrooms, and torn apart linen closets I was experiencing brought to life a part of the Simple Abundance journey that I haven’t yet shared.

The recent musings of Sarah Ban Breathnach have focused on bringing peace, order and contentment to the soul by taking action to bring these things to life in the home. Since I have very little control over these things, I haven’t paid much attention lately to the suggestions to make subtle changes to rooms to allow more light into the heart.

“Many of us today experience creative silence,” Breathnach writes. “Not the hush of the heart necessary to bring forth the unexpressed from Spirit, but the creative silence brought about by circumstances we feel are beyond our control.”

Suddenly it made sense. Watching my parents work together to make our house an even more comfortable home no longer brought so many questions to my little doggie mind. Instead, I sat back and enjoyed the hustle and bustle. I realized that it doesn’t matter where this bed is or how the linen closet is organized as long as I have my own little safe haven of peace and serenity to continue my daydreams. I think we all need a place like that regardless of where we ultimately lay our heads at night. A little nook to call our own. Mine is my little doggie bed in the kitchen. More often than not, I prefer to cuddle up to whoever might be on the couch (or bed) but its reassuring to know I always have my little doggie bed to call my own. What’s yours?

“(We all need) a psychic space that offers passionate reminders to attend to your private, artistic impulses, a place to encourage you to reclaim your creativity,” Breathnach writes.

I’m not sure what sparked the hurricane of furniture in the Schmidt house this weekend, but I’m grateful it happened. What a pleasant reminder to silence the question-filled world around us so we can hear the faintly whispering tones of innate creativity coming to life.

 

 

 

Over the Moon May 24, 2013

I’m back in my world. My parents have returned from their journey, and my subsequent stay at grandma’s house has drawn to a close. While I had a fabulous time away, there really is no place like home.

I was reminded of that tonight as I sat in my beloved backyard staring at the brilliant white light shining down on me. I’m no astronomer, but I’d say the moon is fairly close to being full tonight and it is a sight to be seen. You can blame the canine in me, but I much prefer the full moon to any smaller portion of it. In fact, we four-legged people tend to run with the go-big-or-go-home mindset in most things. (That birthday ice cream cone I got this week? Consider it gone in 60 seconds!)

Ice Cream FaceSo you can imagine my confusion at Sarah Ban Breathnach’s suggestion today to find fullness in emptiness.

“It’s difficult for many of us to accept that emptiness – in life or in the living room – can have a positive influence,” she writes in Simple Abundance. “We need either to become more comfortable with waiting to fill what’s empty with what’s authentic or become just willing to accept the exquisite fullness of nothing.”

I thought of this as I stared at that big bright object in the sky, realizing that regardless of its fullness, it is empty. Devoid of life. And yet the sunshine of the night sky is a thing of beauty, even in its emptiness. Like most things in life, it took a change in perspective for me to see what the light of the moon was trying to tell me tonight. It’s natural for me to see things through to completion, but sometimes its doing (or in my case tonight, seeing) what we fear that brings us powerful truth.

“Life’s landscape becomes a lot more interesting when there an entire dimension we’ve never considered before simply because we couldn’t see it,” Breathnach writes. Being a closer of things also has its way of inspiring me not to want to miss out on anything in life, especially an entire dimension of thoughtful opportunities. So tonight I have opened my eyes to a whole new world of possibility, illuminated by the full emptiness of the moon. It’s good to be home.

 

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.