Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The Whole Way Home November 27, 2014

It’s one of my most absolute favorite days of the year. Not just because I get to see the extended members of my forever family. Or because of the delicious variety of table scraps I inevitably score throughout the day. It’s not even because I know I have a game or two of pickle in the middle to look forward to with some of my favorite (not-so) little people.

It’s because of how these things make me feel. Gratitude. From the ground up, it oozes out of my soul today, as our nation celebrates a day designated to pause and reflect on one’s blessings in life. Though this is something I try to do on a daily basis, there’s something special about today. Maybe it’s the time with family and those table scraps and after-dinner games. Or maybe it’s what happens when all that is over. Joy

That was the case for me today, as my most recognizable moment of blissful gratitude took me by surprise. It happened on the car ride back to my forever home. It was dark outside so no one could see it happening. Somehow that made it even more memorable for me. As has become the norm of late, mom was in the back seat with dear baby Carter, leaving me to her former spot in the passenger seat. This is an honor in itself, but that’s not all.

Soft music echoed through the car as dad drove, Carter napped, and mom sat in reflective silence in the back seat. In itself it was a perfect moment for our little family. But what completed it for me was dad’s hand. He pet me with his free hand the whole way home. Mom tells me all the time what I already know. She loves me bigger than the sky. Dad doesn’t have to say so. And no words were needed in that 40-minute car ride for me to know true gratitude.

Because today is one of my absolute favorite days of the year. I’ve never been at a shortage of reasons why I love it so much, but this year will always stand out from the crowd for its simplicity in silence. No one has to say a word for me to know real love.

That is what I am most grateful for today. The true and unconditional love I feel in my heart for my people. And even more so for the moments when no words are necessary for me to know for certain they feel it too.

 

Life and the Living of it October 18, 2014

I used to think I did my best thinking in peace. It was quiet. It was relaxing. And my thoughts raced with big ideas. One of my favorite spots to this day is out by the biggest tree in my backyard paradise. Because every now and then, it’s good to be alone.

I was reminded of this today when my beloved forever family packed up and left me at my forever home alone. Though I was initially a little brokenhearted that I wasn’t invited along to one of my favorite not-so-little-anymore person’s football games, I got over it pretty quickly.

Alone with My ThoughtsIt isn’t often I have the house to myself these days. I couldn’t decide at first where I wanted to relax. I had my pick of the bedrooms, the living room, the basement. I had so many quiet options I struggled a bit to decide. I ended up in the living room in everyone’s favorite chair. It’s the chair everyone chooses to sit in first for a reason I don’t quite understand. I couldn’t get comfortable there, so I tried that crevice between mom and dad’s pillows on the bed. When that didn’t work, I tried the massive display of pillows in the guest room. Still nothing.

That’s when it occurred to me. Silence. It’s not my favorite thing. I’m hardly as anxious as I was as a puppy to be left alone, but the minutes ticked by so slowly this afternoon as I waited not-so patiently for my family to return home.  Minutes turned into hours as I waited by the door, which is admittedly one of the least comfortable places in the whole house.

In total, they were gone less than five hours, but it felt like an eternity. I was so happy to see them when they got home. Happy to hear mom and dad regale the day’s events while dear baby Carter was sure to contribute his fair share of screeches and babbles.

I missed that.

I know they say babies change everything. And around here, I suppose it’s true. But I don’t think it’s such a bad thing. Sure, I used to do my best thinking in complete silence that no longer exists in my world. And that’s okay. I’ve learned to love the chaos that surrounds me on a daily basis. I’ve learned to thrive on it. Because all the life and the living of it makes me feel more alive.

 

With My Thoughts March 4, 2014

I thought I had forgotten what it sounds like. Which is okay with me, since I never really cared for it in the first place. But I’m not going to lie. Today it wasn’t so bad. Silence. From the ground up, the sounds of silence brought me joy today.

It was the first day in what feels like a very long time that I was all alone at my forever home for an extended period of time. In the past, this would have made me a bit melancholy. I would have spent the majority of the time wishing I were with them on whatever adventure they were encountering. But today they took with them all things noisy and it wasn’t so bad. Deep thinking

I think everyone needs some alone time every now and then, so I can’t say I minded it. There I was, alone with my thoughts. Alone to count my blessings. Like my spot basking in the afternoon glow in the windowsill. And the treats they left me as a consolation prize for not accompanying them on their journey. And my family. My beloved family.

Suddenly I missed them so. They hadn’t been gone long at all, and (based on the amount of things I saw bursting from the diaper bag) I knew they would be gone quite a while longer. So I made the most of it. I made the most of my time alone with nothing but my doggie bed and the silence I hadn’t realized I missed.

It’s funny what perspective can do to your thoughts. Silence is generally not my friend, yet it was today because it allowed me to reflect on the power thoughts can have on emotions.

“You are the architect of your own destiny,” suggests motivational speaker Brian Tracy. “You are the master of your own fate; you are behind the steering wheel of your life. There are no limitations to what you can do, have, or be. Accept the limitations you place on yourself by your own thinking.”

I didn’t think it was possible. But it’s true what they say about absence making the heart grow fonder. I was so very happy to see them return from what appears to be an epic shopping excursion. It didn’t matter that they didn’t bring anything for me. Because they brought themselves. Home. From the ground up, that’s the best thing that happened all day.

 

No Backspace Button October 20, 2013

I stick my foot in my mouth all the time. Literally. It’s part of my daily grooming routine. A nibble here and there is as second nature to me as scratching an itchy ear with my foot or licking a sore paw. But I’m no dummy.

Keyboard of LifeI know the same can not be said of people, who have the luxury of hands to do a lot of these types of things. Also, I think it would be pretty challenging (albeit funny) to see them try. Literally. I think it would be a struggle.

And yet it apparently happens all the time. Figuratively. As a professional people watcher, I have picked a few things up over the years and this is one of the most interesting to me. People say really stupid things. Whether its something they don’t really mean said in an argument or a random comment out of the blue, it happens all the time. And for as often that I wish I could speak, I glory in my silence when I happen to overhear these moments of ignorance.

That’s just it. Ignorance. And let me tell you, from what I’ve seen of it, ignorance is not bliss. Nor does it excuse the behavior of saying things you don’t mean. I think that’s the challenging part. More often than not, regret follows this note of ignorance. But the moment has passed and the words were said and they cannot be taken back. Words are powerful tools, and when they get used as weapons context gives way to emotion. It makes for a very messy situation.

It brings to mind the wise words of Audrey Hepburn who suggested that “for beautiful eyes, look for the good in others. For beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness. And for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”

I’ve thought about it and now it’s time to speak up. I might look silly nibbling on my back paw from time to time, but it turns out people do it all the time too. And it hurts. But it isn’t the end of the world either. It happens. A lot. And while that doesn’t excuse anything, it does make us very familiar with the practice of moving on. I’ve always said everything is worthwhile if a lesson is learned. Well, in this case I think the lesson is crystal clear. Think before you speak. Because you can’t take it back. There is no backspace button on the keyboard of life.

 

May The Force Be With You October 1, 2013

Some love it. Passionately. Others hate it. Fervently. Regardless of which side of the Star Wars opinion fence you fall on, I think we can all agree about one thing: the force? It’s pretty cool. Using your mind to control your surroundings? Believe me, in a dog’s life of silence that would be a game changer. Use The Force

I occasionally find myself wishing I could use the force for a variety of things. But no matter how hard I focus on that food on my mom’s plate, it does not make its way to my mouth as I will it to. The same can be said of doors. I frequently long to open doors with my mind. Most recently, I caught myself willing the car door to open and alas! It did! But it wasn’t my mind that did the opening – I looked up to discover it was my dad who opened the door so I could hop inside.

Since then, I’ve noticed he does this for my mom too, though I don’t understand why since she can do it herself. (I obviously don’t have this luxury). It wasn’t until yesterday when my dad’s friend Josh was visiting that I pieced together this mysterious puzzle. Mom, dad, and Josh were having a conversation in what will become the baby’s room. I was listening comfortably from the cozy new rug they put in there (which is my new favorite spot to think) when Josh said something that caught my attention.

He’s thinking of adopting a dog, and he’s looking specifically for a Beagle rescue. Apparently there aren’t very many nearby so he’s thinking of taking a day trip with his two-year-old nephew to one about two hours south of here in a place called Chicago. When mom mentioned it was cute he was thinking of bringing his nephew, I got my answer. “Well I want to make sure the puppy gets along with kids,” Josh replied.

Josh is currently single, but he is looking forward to meeting his future spouse and starting a family (I think people call it settling down, though I’m not quite sure what exactly they’re settling down from). Mom melted when he said this, and that’s when I realized something very important about the way “the force” can work in real life.

It’s no secret I’m a mama’s boy, so I’ve always been a proponent of treating a lady a certain way. It is probably no surprise that these feelings feed my belief that chivalry and romance are not dead. Little things (from opening a car door) to big things (like planning a future) all make a difference in both the development and maintenance of lasting relationships. It’s like the force of today. And even if you are not a fan of Yoda and his pals, you have to admit the force is a pretty neat idea. Idea it is. Reality it is not. Except when it’s used in ways I’ve come to understand as chivalry. And romance. Indeed there is a certain force a man can have, perhaps not with his mental will, but with his heart.

 

Pawsing Amidst the Noise August 30, 2013

They are apparently called hogs. Yet they sound more like lions. And I thought hogs was a synonym for pigs. My surroundings sure have me confused today.

Then I heard mom and dad talking and it all came together. H.O.G. stands for Harley’s Owner Group, which is widely known and respected as the world’s largest motorcycle club. These motorcycles roar loudly like lions. And these “hogs” taking over our city this weekend are not pigs. They are people coming in from all over the world to celebrate the 110th anniversary of Harley-Davidson. They’re coming to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where it all began. They’re coming home.

Being Still

I have to admit, these motorcycle contraptions appear to be a lot of fun. They are loud, fast, and no two bikes look alike. Beyond that, their owners are incredibly passionate about all things Harley. And I know dogs are learning how to drive cars in Australia, so I’m not sure what that means for our future in motorcycles.

I don’t suppose it matters all that much, especially with a little person on the way. But all of this noise got me to thinking about noise in our lives. It can be actual noise, like the constant roaring I am hearing outside my forever home tonight. Or it can be figurative noise, like when our brains can’t focus because there is simply too much happening in our minds. I think mom has this kind of noise in her head at night sometimes when she can’t sleep.

Being still amidst the noise isn’t always easy to do and yet I think that makes it even more important. The noise around the neighborhood tonight reminds me of the importance of pawsing to be still. Quiet. Peaceful.

“See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence,” suggested Mother Teresa. “We need silence to be able to touch souls.”

This is not to say there is anything wrong with enjoying the roar of motorcycle horsepower. In fact, I know some Harley lovers who would argue the sound is one of the most important markers of a Harley compared to other motorcycles. But those moments in between the noise are special too. I think these moments of silence amidst the noise are a big part of what this anniversary celebration is really about – passion. History. Culture.

They might be called hogs and roar like lions but they sure have a whole lot of heart. Welcome home.

 

Lost in Translation March 5, 2013

I have this habit of eating literally anything that resembles food from the floor. It’s habit enough that my mom jokingly calls me a doggie vacuum cleaner. (Oh, how I despise those contraptions!) Nonetheless, it bit me in the proverbial behind one day in the not so distant past when it was assumed I ate an extra strength Tylenol. That is a day I will not be forgetting any time soon.

It was about three months ago, not that long after my mom’s serious knee reconstruction surgery. My grandma and my best Buddy were over taking care of my mom (as they had been doing in the weeks immediately following her operation). It was freezing cold outside that day. And that was the one of the days in my doggie life that I most wished I could speak human.Buddy and I

That was the day my mom and her mom were certain I ate a Tylenol that fell to the floor at some point. While I do have the aforementioned reputation akin to a vacuum cleaner, I did no such thing that day. It was the most awful misunderstanding for everyone involved.

About an hour after the alleged consumption, my grandma told my mom what she believed had happened. I could see in my mom’s eyes that she was absolutely terrified, but she tried her best to remain calm as she pulled out the trusty laptop to see what she could find out about Tylenol in a dog’s system. She found no good news…especially as it pertained to extra strength versus regular strength pain killers.

This sent my beloved grandmother into a blind panic that resulted in the two of them encouraging me to drink something absolutely disgusting (they called it hydrogen peroxide, whatever that means) and then playing with me enough that I immediately had to go outside. I couldn’t stop throwing up. It was awful.

Since they couldn’t find anything in my little puddles of foamy goo that resembled a pill, the person mom was talking to on the phone advised that I get to the Family Pet Clinic immediately. My mom still wasn’t cleared to drive because of the surgery, so off I went with grandma to the clinic, where we waited and waited and they made me drink more awful liquid (I think it was called charcoal) and they took blood and we waited some more.

Silence is not my friendI paced and moaned anxiously while my grandma cried in the little waiting room. And I knew my mom was doing the same at home. I felt so helpless, and everything I had ingested (other than the alleged pill) was making me feel weaker by the minute. When I got home almost two hours later, mom was an emotional wreck. What a mess, I remember thinking to myself, before the shivering started. I couldn’t stop shaking that night, even though I basically passed out upon re-entering my forever home.

Usually my interpretation of philosophy is figurative, but in this (rare) case it is incredibly literal. “In human intercourse the tragedy begins, not when there is misunderstanding about words, but when silence is not understood,” said great transcendentalist thinker Henry David Thoreau.

Sometimes my silence is maddening. Watching what unfolded that day between my mom and her mom broke my heart. A few days later the test results came back clear and we all breathed a collective sigh of relief. But it’s not like me not to find a silver lining in the mix of such things, and in this case it is easy to identify.

The people in my life must love me a whole lot to be so worried about me eating a teeny tiny white pill of doom. As they later found out, it would probably have taken at least three of them to do me any harm. But that didn’t matter to them at the time. No. They were blinded with worry about little ole me, the doggie vacuum cleaner who most definitely did not consume any pain killers that day. Perspective is pretty powerful stuff in matters of the heart.

 

Silently Speaking: Life’s Little Reminders January 3, 2013

I’m a glass-half-full kind of dog. I wake up each day and make a heartfelt commitment to see the good in people, places and things. But even our best intentions get challenged. For me, a constant challenge to my outlook on life is silence. I hate not being able to talk. Perhaps that’s why I find such comfort in writing down my thoughts…because the silence drives me bonkers.Smiling for Silence

What I find most ironically disturbing about silence is how it can be more powerful than words. As a lover of words, I can’t help but wonder why is it that silence speaks so loudly?

I take the challenge. I am going to find something good to say about silence. Let us welcome Sir Francis Bacon to the conversation. Talk about finding the good in people. The English philosopher wore many hats, including one of disgrace following his political career. Yet somehow, he remains thought of as the creator of empiricism and respected for his influence on philosophy and science.

“Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom,” he once said. Well, I like sleep. And I love wisdom. In fact, I think my passion for wisdom got me in some trouble recently.

I noticed today that I have been one day ahead of myself in my journey with Simple Abundance. Clearly the problem is not my obvious enthusiasm for this journey of my mine. But that got me to thinking about life’s little reminders to hit the pause button from time to time. To be still in this super-sized, action-packed, fast-forward world. To respect the silence.

And we’re really missing out. Its been my experience that (even though silence is not my favorite thing) sometimes the stillness speaks to us in ways no words can interrupt. Southern novelist Mark Twain knew a thing or two about this. “The right word may be effective,” he said, “but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.” So today I pause my Simple Abundance experience and (in doing so) find something good to say about silence.