Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Just One You January 29, 2014

I’m glad I am a boy. And a dog. I’ve got it easy when it comes to so many things. I don’t have to worry about money, or a food source, or whether or not I’m loved. My people take care of all of that. And the whole appearance thing is so easy for me. The inside matches the outside. I’m all heart, and I work with what I’ve got. And I like it. It’s as simple as that.Be You

That couldn’t be farther from the way it works for the two-legged women in my life. The ones I see on the television are always altering the way they look with hair products and makeup and clothes and diet plans. So many diet plans and fitness commercials air this time of year, no doubt targeting those who made New Year’s resolutions to lose weight. The ones I see in real life aren’t all that different from those on the television, who (for some reason I still don’t understand) they seem to try desperately hard to imitate.

But it gets worse. I apologize in advance for the blanket statement, but the way I see it too many women want what they can’t have. Skinny women want to be skinnier. Curly-haired women want straight hair. Small chested women want a bigger chest (and vice versa). It’s madness.

I got to thinking of this today when I noticed a new kind of joy in my life. Just one you (JOY) appears frequently on labels baby Carter’s clothes. At first I thought nothing of it, but today it got me to thinking. Indeed there is only one baby Carter. And I am thankful for that. He is uniquely him and that is just as it should be.

The same can be said for the women in my life. There is just one of you, and instead of changing it with all kinds of hair products and diet plans, you should be embraced. I’m glad I’m a boy. And a dog. Because I can spend all that time I’m not worrying about unnecessary self improvement on reminding the women in my life how special they are. Joy. From the ground up, it is found on the inside not the outside.

 

A Baby Laughing January 22, 2014

I’ve never been too big a fan of mirrors. I know barking and cowering are fairly common canine responses to them, but I do neither of these things. Instead I feel nothing. Emotionally indifferent I guess you could say. In general I don’t particularly care for the effect I know they can have on people, especially women.

So I choose to direct my attention elsewhere. I prefer to find joy. From the ground up, it was easy to find today. It happened on my living room floor with my other baby pal Alexis (daughter of mom’s friend Jessica). There we were staring at each other when it happened. She laughed.

If joy had a sound, a baby laughing would be it. It’s not the first time I’ve experienced such things, but each time it happens teaches me a new lesson about true and sincere happiness.Joy.

Today it taught me joy doesn’t come from a mirror. It simply can’t. But if you reflect joy, if you put it out there in front of you, it is likely to reflect right back at you. I mean no disrespect to mirrors. They serve their purpose and that’s all well and good.

But I do think people place too much value on that reflection staring back at them. Dogs bark and cower. People get sad or frustrated. Me? I’m indifferent to the mirrors. I would much rather focus on the person than the reflection anyway.

See the action unfold: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=569872490057&l=334242941458658880

 

In My Corner January 18, 2014

Take it or leave it. Regardless of the chapters I have experienced in five years of doggie life, that has always been my approach to one thing. Me. My personality. Who I am. It’s something I developed a long time ago and nothing can change this one little thing about me.

In Your CornerI think it’s something people struggle with sometimes, but for me it has never really been a question. I have nothing to hide. I have no reason to act any differently. I am confident in who I am.

I realized it today, when mom and dad had a couple of visitors who I had only met once or twice before. I was not aggressive, but Jesse needed to know baby Carter is my special little person. I stayed very close to the baby and watched Jesse’s every move.

“Oh, Wiley’s protective,” Jesse noted. Well of course I am, I thought, he is my little guy. My little person. It’s my duty to protect him. To keep him safe. I have his corner.

That’s when I realized it is one thing to know who you are in life. It’s something completely different to have someone recognize it. And embrace it. Someone to love and respect who you are at all costs. To be in your corner. This is what I fear people are really missing when they struggle with self confidence or self esteem. They don’t have an advocate.

“A boy can learn a lot from a dog: obedience, loyalty, and the importance of turning around three times lying down,” American humorist Robert Benchley said.

Indeed, dear baby Carter has a lot to learn. And I know a lot of that will happen without me. But I decided in that moment today he will never had to worry about this one thing as long as I have something to say about it. Because I will be his advocate. He will always have me in his corner.

 

Trick or Treat October 26, 2013

There’s not a lot I would change about myself. I guess you could say love has made me confident. I stand proud, head held high, ears up, tail wagging. And no one is going to break me down. I am who I am.

I can’t say it’s always been that way. I, like anyone, have had my fair share of ups and downs with self esteem. (Being thought of as a clearance puppy comes to mind). But I’ve come to understand all of my past as an important part of my present. Challenge builds character, whether or not we like it (or realize it) at the time.

This is why I was initially a little confused by this thing called Halloween. People dress up as all kinds of things other than who they really are. Ghosts and goblins and vampires and witches. Why not instead celebrate who they are rather than focusing time, energy (and from what I understand sometimes a great deal of money) on the perfect costume?

I’ll tell you why. It’s fun. There is something kind of dangerous and exciting about putting yourself aside to become another character, if only for a day.

So today I became the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz. It is a character with whom I identify closely, especially as I have begun to better understand the relationship between fear and purpose. Like me, the lion began his story blinded by a fear that had a negative hold on his self esteem. It took courage for him to understand that fear has no place in life. Given my own personal backstory, it was the perfect costume.

My trick or treat dates (otherwise known as a few of my favorite little people) were also dressed to impress. They included a ninja warrior, a flapper girl and Scarlett O’Hara. Together, we walked the streets of Grandma Schmidt’s neighborhood collecting a plethora of goodies that I can’t have.

I didn’t mind that (too much) though. Because it was fun. And underneath by lion getup I was still me. A little dog with a big heart. Even “in character” I want to share joy from the ground up with whomever will take it. I think that’s the secret to this whole Halloween thing.

Rather than seek to change everything about who you are, you ought to find a creative way to embrace it. Stand proud, with your head held high and your heart beating strong. Because at the end of the day we are ourselves again. And (whether we realize it or not) who we are is something pretty special.

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Obedience School Drop Out June 28, 2013

I’ve been called a lot of not-so-nice things in my relatively short doggie life. Obedience school drop out. Behaviorally challenged. Approved for homes with children ages 12 and above. Yet I find in life’s greatest contradictions lie some of the most intricate sources of wisdom.

Its true of animals and people alike if you ask me. If you hear something enough times, you start to believe it as truth. In a dog’s life, words like stupid, naughty, and troubled haunted my puppyhood. In a person’s life, overuse of words like stupid, disabled, or challenged as a child can impact a person for the rest of their adult life. Truth becomes us. But can we become truth?

Becoming Truth

I’ve often wondered this as I think nostalgically back on my time before my people brought me into my forever home. I encountered a variety of characters in a myriad of settings who each taught me invaluable lessons along my journey. So how could I be so stupid? Why do they keep calling me naughty? What did the folks at the humane society say to my mom that almost made her give up fighting to adopt me?

Then it happened. The tides changed, and with them my life changed forever. Two distinctly similar moments come to mind when I think of the brilliance of contradictory wisdom. My first night at the humane society when I thought the world was coming to an end, Rusty the golden retriever showed me the light. Much like my favorite transcendentalist thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rusty believed we are not products of what the world tells us, but rather of what we tell ourselves. We are what we think, so of course if we believe the negative things that are said about us we indeed may become them.

The bookend to my understanding of this occurred only a few short months later, when my forever family took me to see an animal behaviorist for my alleged behavioral problems. (This was required by the humane society as a condition of my adoption.) I’ll never forget the first two sentences Jenny said when we began our session. “He’s got to be one of the most unique looking dogs I’ve ever met,” she said, “and so smart!”

It was the first time anyone had ever used the word smart to describe me. And in that moment I was both overwhelmed with joy and humbled. Rusty changed my interpretation of the world around me by changing my interpretation of myself, and here I was being praised for simply being me. I know it sounds contradictory, but in that moment I realized true wisdom is found through admission there is much yet to learn.

It is because of my personal admission of humility that I can say I honestly wouldn’t mind being called those negative names anymore. Sure, if we hear something repeated enough times we begin to believe it. But let us learn from the variety of characters life offers us. Let us choose to contradict the negative things with our positive thoughts. Let us become our own truth.

 

You’ve Got a Friend In Me March 29, 2013

Guy friends are underestimated if you ask me. I mean, everyone always talks about the sisterhood of the traveling collars, but I’m not so sure. Guys are simple. We see things for what they are and usually say so.

I’ve recently been spending a little extra time with my guy pal Diesel. Six months ago, I was bigger than him and now he’s bigger than me. I suppose size doesn’t matter in friendships though, so I digress.

From what I’ve seen and heard about gals, that’s not always the case. I don’t mean to generalize as I’m certain not all gal pals are the same. But I do think there is a certain encouragement of judgmental thinking and unreasonably high standards for things I just don’t understand.

Diesel and Me

I’ve struggled with this lately on my journey with Simple Abundance. I “cheated” recently and looked ahead a few days and it’s more of the same commentary on low self-esteem and finding your inner fashion sense. I may not identify with the message, but I certainly agree.

I’m all for outfitting our authentic selves in a way that empowers us to conquer daily life, but I don’t appreciate the pressure generally put on women in our society to present better than they might actually feel. I mean, some days you just want to laze around and be comfortable. Those days shouldn’t have to come with pressure to look or act a certain way.

Diesel and I have this thing we agree on that I think makes us the friends we are. Our moms are pretty great, even if they occasionally don’t think they are. I know the pressures of the world are tough on women, and as a result challenge their relationships with each other.

That’s what I like about being a guy. We can be lazy. It’s almost expected some of the time. I might be simple, but in my opinion simplicity opens a door to emotional openness that provides purpose to what some may see as laziness. We have all kinds of extra emotional energy to spend on making sure the womenfolk in our lives feel special.

 

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