Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

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


A Lesson In (Servant) Leadership May 8, 2013

I’ll be honest. I don’t really care for nights when my mom works late. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy the one-on-one time with dad (especially the extra cuddles and hugs he sneaks in when no one else is around). But my heart is bursting with happiness when my family is all together. I mean it. I can literally feel my little doggie heart beating out of my chest those first few moments my family is together after they have been at that place called work all day.

So you can imagine my disappointment on days like today when I only get a few precious moments with my whole family together before bedtime. It’s heartbreaking for me to wait at home alone all day and only have this small amount of time when them. Not only that, but my mom’s face was lit up with excitement when she got home, and it had nothing to do with being happy to see me. Don’t they realize how long a day is in doggie time, my mind asked. I was surprised with the answer my heart gave to my selfish mind: it’s not all about you.Leadership Is...

Of course it isn’t. I don’t usually get so carried away like this. I don’t dig into the realm of negativity. No sir. I find and share joy from the ground up. Call it coincidence, karma, or whatever you believe, but it was a blessing to talk myself back from the negativity bridge tonight. Instead of dwelling on how small our time together was, I focused on making the moments count. I stopped thinking about myself, and I’m so glad I did.

With an open mind and heart I took in every detail about where my mom had spent that time away from me tonight. As it turned out, she truly was where she needed to be. While I don’t completely understand the kind of program she was at, I was able to gather that it was a commencement ceremony of some kind that recognized some of the leaders in our local community.

Leadership gets defined so many ways by so many different people, but mom said the theme that set this conversation apart was an emphasis on servant leadership. Leading by example, stepping up to the plate when no one else will, and (yes) sometimes not just taking the road less travelled, but paving it for others were among the highlights of the conversations about leadership. Above all, servant leadership is putting others before oneself and doing something because it’s the right thing to do regardless of potential financial, political or emotional gain.

Tonight I turned off my wishes to play fetch and steal all the attention in the room and let my mom share some pretty valuable information with my dad. She was happy and enthusiastic and I could tell she is passionate about everything she heard tonight.

Taking the moment to dwell on that instead of on my disappointment was the best decision I made today. After all, the program tonight was referred to as commencement. That sure is a powerful word. Rather than refer to it as a graduation (which is more synonymous with the end of an educational journey), mom made it very clear as she told her story the program was purposely referred to as a commencement. A beginning.

Leadership doesn’t stop when you walk across the stage – it begins. I suppose in my own little way I successfully was a servant leader in my home tonight, even though my people wouldn’t have noticed it. That is kind of the point sometimes, isn’t it? It wasn’t easy, as I do sincerely look forward to the nights when my whole family is together. But I’ll be honest. I have a new aspiration in life to be a better servant leader, and the first step on that journey is understanding it’s not all about me.