Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Living the Life (Of Dreams) July 5, 2014

It has been said that when a door closes, a window opens. As your resident doggie optimist, it’s one of those philosophies to which I bow my heart. But today I got a breath of fresh air. Today I got a real-life reminder of the truth that is finding the silver lining in even the saddest of situations.

Today I saw Penny, the neighborhood sweetheart otherwise known as a cat. I know what you’re thinking. It goes against every grain of normalcy for her and I to get along. Yet we do. Something in her resonates with me. And today I was reminded why.WIley Hammock

Today was the first time I’ve seen her since her forever owner Rose died a few months ago. It was a sad day in my life hearing the news, so I couldn’t imagine what it was like for dear fragile feline Penny. Well, it turns out I had things all wrong. Because poor Penny has not been so poor these days. Quite the contrary, in fact. Though she loved Rose with all of her being, she is happier now than I’ve ever seen her. She has basically become the pet of the neighborhood, the talk of the town if you will.

While no one has officially adopted her, she hasn’t needed adopting. The neighborhood has thrown their proverbial hearts around this dear little creature, by providing her home(s) if she needs as well as plenty of food and love. I know it’s different for her now than it was with Rose, but (at least from what I can tell) it’s just as fabulous.

It just goes to show how far you can go on what might look like nothing sometimes. When she lost Rose, I thought for sure she would be lost. Instead she is thriving and happier than ever. I know this for sure since I’ve seen a lot of it around my forever home recently too. It’s taken some time since we experienced loss around here. Mom lost her favorite job and her father within a couple of weeks ago five years ago already. But I see it every day now and it brings me the sincerest sense of joy.

From the ground up, it happens when a door closes even it if takes a while to find that opened window. I saw it today as mom and dad enjoyed some steamed mussels in chicken broth on the patio in my backyard paradise. They were relaxing after taking a swim in the neighbor’s pool. Their beach towels were drying nearby. And all was well in our world. All is well in our world. We are living the life of dreams.

 

 

 

Follow The Light May 18, 2014

I’m a believer in the whole idea of a window opening when life closes a door. This probably comes as no surprise since I also support finding a silver lining in most situations and choosing to see the good in people, places and things. But there is something I do struggle a bit to understand. Something that seems to stand right in the way of me finding that open window. Because when death happens the door closes. Hard. Reflecting

I’ve been blessed so far in life to lose very few close friends. But I will be honest. I’ve never dealt well with loss and grief and the heartbreak these things bring to the survivors. Sure, I believe in the idea that the person is in a better place, but what about the people left behind? Our place is a little bit worse because that person left a big ole whole in our heart no one else can fill. I got to thinking about this today when I heard something someone said on the moving picture window (otherwise known as a TV). There was a woman, a mother, who had lost her son to a tragic car accident a couple of years ago.

She too struggled with finding silver lining in such a terrible situation. I had a little doggie heart attack thinking of what would happen to mom if anything like that ever happens to dear baby Carter. I wondered how on Earth does someone bounce back from such an awful thing? That’s when she said it.

“I follow his light,” said the woman. “He’s always there reminding me to keep on going.”

Death. From the ground up, there is something about it that seems so final. Like that door is closed for good. And in most ways it is. But only to the point you let it be. Only if you don’t keep the faith and find that window. And if it’s not open, you find a way to open it. You find a way to let the light in. Because therein lies the silver lining – in the light that keeps you going.

 

Raindrops Keep Falling May 2, 2014

Rain drops keep falling on my head. Literally. It’s been pretty rainy and dreary around here lately. Enough that it’s getting to my head a little. I don’t know why I let it happen, but suddenly and seemingly randomly I’m overcome with a feeling I prefer to avoid. I feel sad. Blue like the sky isn’t. Downright bummed out.

And it hurts. I am the dog who finds joy in people places and things. I can’t be letting a few dreary days get to me. That’s when I remembered this trick I’ve heard mom talk about a few times. It’s a game she plays with her mind and wins with her heart. Perspective. From the ground up, it’s  a pretty powerful thing. Love in Truth, Truth in Love

When you are encountered with a sticky situation (be it emotional or otherwise) think about the worst possible thing that could happen, she says. Nine times out of ten that worst case scenario will be so far out of the realm of possibility it is destined to bring relief to your soul.

It’s a good idea to be sure. So many terrible things could have happened today. Someone could have knocked down one of those candles mom lights all over the house and the house could have burned down. Carter could have gotten hurt, or sick, or worse. I could have gotten into an altercation with the neighbor dog on my walk.

I think it’s great that mom loves her new job in the news business, but I personally am in the business of ignoring news. Today I caught some news by accident and got my answer to the question of what the worst possible thing would be to happen today. Stories of tornados wiping out whole cities and local moms dying after bouts of cancer and a teenager who was arrested after police got word of his detailed plot to kill his parents and school mates. These are real things that happened in the world today.

Meanwhile, I’m cozy and comfortable in the comfort of my forever home. I had food in my dish and water in my bowl. I have my toys and my health and my people. And, as usual, I had more love thrown my way than I could possibly catch. Rain drops keep falling on my head. Which, I’m not going to lie, is getting a little annoying. But there is a silver lining in even the worst case scenario. Perspective. From the ground up, it’s a pretty powerful thing.

 

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.

 

Making a Splash January 19, 2014

I know it’s necessary. I sure wish it wasn’t. The dreaded bath. I have a love/hate relationship with this most simple and basic necessity. Namely, I hate getting wet. Please remember this is coming from your resident doggie optimist who makes it a point to find the silver lining in all things. It’s not like me to complain. But misery loves company and I found some today in Baby Carter.

Making the Best of ItIt wasn’t his first bath since being home, but it was by far the most tumultuous. I have heard my fair share of screeching cries (most of which pierce right through my little doggie heart) in his almost three weeks with us, but today he hit a whole new range of emotional distress. From which I have gathered that he too hates baths. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by this, since he has not been quiet about his hatred of being naked. Yet I couldn’t help but wonder why we are this way.

That’s when it occurred to me. I like the attention that accompanies the ritual of it all. It happens during the bath. It happens after the bath. Sometimes it continues for a few days as I apparently smell so nice in all that perfumed shampoo they use on me. I’ve never been one to turn down attention.

I wish I could somehow communicate my thoughts on the matter to Carter to ease his pain a little. Instead I found myself thinking about the water that makes all of the turmoil possible. The cleansing, cleaning, refreshing (even I can admit there is something nice about being clean) water.

Therein I found it. The silver lining. Because I know it’s necessary. And even though I hate it, now I have a reason to love it. Because attention is only as good as what we do with it. I would much rather have my splashes mean something than have them simply get others wet. Even the smallest little pebble can make ripples in the water. And no ripple is too small to evoke positive change.

 

The Diaper Change Fiasco January 16, 2014

I thought for a second I was in a dream. But I definitely was not. What was happening was real. And it kind of freaked me out. Last night somewhere in the wee hours, dad picked me up out of bed, held me like a baby, and attempted to put me in something I’ve heard called a changing table.

“Dang, you’re heavy,” he half-stammered in his sleepy state. That’s when I figured it out. He thought I was Carter. He had mistaken all 20 pounds of terrier that I am for his child and was about to change my nonexistent diaper. I couldn’t have that (any more than I could wear such a diaper contraption), so I wiggled my way out of that situation right quick.Peace.

It wasn’t until morning that it all paid off for me. It happened as dad retold the story to mom, who miraculously managed to sleep through the whole escapade. Laughter. From the ground up, it rejuvenated our weary hearts this morning.

Because let’s face it. It’s rough right now. My people are (clearly) overtired. They aren’t sleeping. Their clock revolves around Carter, and my clock revolves around them. And it’s quite honestly a little frustrating since there really isn’t too much I can do to help with anything. And I know in reality it really wasn’t anything I did that caused the laughter. My warm little body was just in the right place at the right moment. I even thought for a second I was in a dream. But I definitely was not.

“Back of every mistaken venture and defeat is the laughter of wisdom, if you listen,” American author Carl Sandburg suggested. What happened this morning was real, mistaken venture that it was. I’m so glad I listened for the aftermath. Because sometimes it just helps to laugh. Out loud. At yourself. It helps to stop and listen for the healing wisdom the laughter brings. Even if you are mistaken for a newborn baby in the process.

**No dogs or babies were harmed in the making of this completely true story**

 

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.

 

Write It On Your Heart September 20, 2013

It usually makes me kind of uncomfortable. If I’m being honest, I try to avoid it. But the more I thought about it today, the more I realized my avoidance and level of discomfort are nothing compared to the actual problem at hand. Complaining. I can’t stand it. I find myself getting upset when I hear complaints because (at least in my little doggie mind) I feel it is a useless waste of time. Why would you waste all that energy complaining when you could simply do something to rectify the problem?

Don't Worry, Be HappyI got my answer today when I looked out my front window to find my neighborhood feline friend Penny was back on my front doorstep. And she looked sad. I braced myself for the worst, thinking perhaps something had happened to her person Rose. Not quite.

Rose has been in poor health for some time, but she is all right. To Penny that’s part of the problem. She’s just all right. Instead of embracing that she’s still okay, I was surprised to find Penny complaining about how awful it is to see her loved one struggle. Dear Penny went on and on about how badly she wishes she could help somehow and the frustration she experiences because she can’t.

In that moment I realized why people waste all that time complaining. Life sucks sometimes. There, I said it. And when it does, the complaining develops a purpose all its own. It’s for good reason because sometimes there really isn’t anything you can do. And it isn’t fair. But there is always a silver lining.

In this case I think it comes from understanding the difference between optimism, realism and pessimism. In order to call myself an optimist, I must recognize within me the realist. The realism is reality in the making, but it is different from pessimism, which I avoid like the plague. The line between these things may be thin, but it’s made of steel to those who employ it.

I think that’s why complaining makes me so uncomfortable. It skirts around that line of negativity I prefer to stay away from. Instead I take the advice of my favorite transcendentalist thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson who encourages us to “write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year.” Meanwhile, my mind knows sometimes its not. And there’s nothing we can do about it. That’s the realist in me. It’s a good thing my mind listens to my heart.

Related posts:

Negativity – The Silver Lining http://wileyschmidt.com/2013/02/21/negativity-the-silver-lining/

Penny For Your Thoughts http://wileyschmidt.com/2013/08/31/penny-for-your-thoughts-2/

 

I’m Sorry Now August 19, 2013

I don’t know what mom expected me to do. There we were, relaxing in the hammock together on a beautiful Sunday evening. She was reading and I was cuddled up against her sniffing the air. All was well with the world. That is, until I ruined the moment.

Smelling the AirThere they were, playing and climbing one of the very same trees to which the hammock was attached. The family of squirrels who live in my backyard (and frequently taunt me from their place of safety outside the reach of my lead) simply could not go unnoticed. So I did what any dog would do. I attacked. I bounded out of the hammock in what can only be described as another one of my ill-fated attempts to take flight into the tree. The way I saw it my odds were much better than usual because I was already a few feet off the ground from my place in the hammock.

But mom didn’t see it that way. After she rounded me up from my failed attempt to show those squirrels who’s boss, I saw the physical and emotional aftermath of my escape from solitude. My dramatic exit made her spill her water all over herself, her book and her (not-so-Smart)phone. Fortunately no one was harmed in the making of this story, but I know I ultimately ruined our otherwise peaceful time. I'm Sorry Now

And (while I am tempted to argue that I only did what is in my nature and it was really actually the squirrel family’s fault for trespassing) I was immediately sorry for the apparent devastation I’d caused when I saw the pathetically defeated look on mom’s face. Any and all reasons aside, I found myself in quite the quandary. I don’t know what she expected me to do. Certainly the squirrels could not be ignored.

That’s when it hit me. Sometimes what’s in our nature gets us in trouble. It happens to the best of us, and innocent people get hurt in the process. It reminds me a little of a story I’ve heard mom recalling about her and her younger sister when they were little people. Whenever mom’s little sister did something naughty, she would say “I’m sorry now” in the cutest and most sincere voice imaginable. How can you not forgive that?

Therein lies the moral of my flying hammock dog story. Sometimes it doesn’t matter why we do what we do. If innocent people are hurt in the process there is only one way to make it right. They just need to hear it. I’m sorry now. And since us canines can’t say it, we find ways to show it. So I may have ruined my peaceful moment with mom in the hammock. But I made it up to her with lots of love and cuddles and it was like it never even happened.

 

Patience Is Virtue August 8, 2013

If there’s something us canines generally struggle with, it’s this people concept that patience is virtue. We’re not good at waiting. Stay is my least favorite trick. And don’t get me started on when dad challenges me to sit still until he says I can take my delicious rawhide. Patience is not my strong suit. But last night I got a glimpse at this virtue patience can bring. This sense of hope. Happiness. Light at the end of the tunnel.

I have been kind of a mess thinking about the story of Cabela, the dog who was blown up by a man in Washington a few days ago. I felt terrible when I finished blogging about it last night. I hate not being able to find a silver lining in any story. And it seems my negative feelings were contagious, based on the feedback I’ve gotten about the devastation, terror and grief this horrific story has sparked in people. Good News, All!

So you can imagine my relief when it happened, a mere fifteen minutes or so after I put my thoughts on this awful story out there for the world to read. I wanted to get involved somehow, to let someone know what happened is in no way acceptable. I wanted to do something. No, I had to do something.

On a whim, I sent a message to Cabela’s former owner Ty Freemantle all the way in Washington. I told him how sorry I was to hear the story, how scared I was that things like this are actually happening, and how helpless I felt to do anything about it. You see, there’s this thing about patience. It pays off. Granted, it didn’t take long so the employment of the waiting game wasn’t nearly as exhausting as it could have been.

Because I found my silver lining. Freemantle responded to my message almost instantly, sincerely thanking me for taking an interest in his story. Our conversation was brief, but the virtue was clear. The story broke a mere few days ago, and already Freemantle has been showered with thoughtfulness and prayers from people (and dogs in my case) all over the world. It’s no surprise to me that the animal lovers out there have united, as this is what we do. What did surprise me was what Freemantle said next.

He has decided to use his grief as fuel for positive change, which sounds an awful lot like a silver lining if you ask me.

“It scares me that maybe if I didn’t stand up he would have gotten away with it, and that someone else could do the same thing and walk free,” he said. “This set a fire inside me and I’m starting a organization to work on changing the animal cruelty law from such narrow specifications on what is and is not qualified.”

The ultimate goal would be to ensure that any act of aggression to an animal shall be punished by animal cruelty charges. As a survivor of animal abuse, I told him I am obviously a wholehearted supporter of his cause. I pledged to do anything I can to help. Because I know it’s not going to be easy. It’s not going to happen overnight. And us canines are no good at being patient. But now that I know the good that waits at the end of the patience path, I’d say it’s worth the wait.