Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Hide and Seek No More February 28, 2013

Everything around me was gray. I was standing on a platform that appeared to be floating and not connected in anyway to the walls around me. It was flying down and I was struggling to keep my balance. “Newbie,” I heard someone mumble nearby. I didn’t look around because that would have made me lose my focus. Instead I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and…

my first thought upon waking this morning was I was happy to be alive. Shortly after that, my senses returned and I realized I was really hungry and really had to go outside. But when I opened my eyes and saw I wasn’t on that platform surrounded in gray plunging to what seemed like inevitable death, I knew I’d made it. I was blessed with another day filled with naps, treats, playtime and love. How lucky I am.

I know it isn’t this way for everyone. I will admit, it isn’t even always that way for me. It is a conscious choice we make each day to see it as a fresh canvas ready and waiting for our uniquely personal brushstrokes. And some days are not masterpieces. Or they don’t seem like it at the time at least. Even the works of Pablo Picasso confused (and, in some cases, continue to confuse) its viewers at first. “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls,” Picasso said. That’s not so confusing.

So today I take a page from Picasso’s sketchbook and paint myself a portrait of gratitude. By doing so, I breathe life into gratitude, just as Sarah Ban Breathnach suggests we take time to do in Simple Abundance. Two months ago, I reflected on Breathnach’s concept of a gratitude journal as a necessary part of the Simple Abundance experience in Hope in Gratitude.

“If you want to continue on this journey with me, the gratitude journal is not an option,” Breathnach scolds. “Why? Because you simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life.” One month ago, I challenged myself to write my own eulogy, forcing me to reflect on the value of life. Since then, I have taken Breathnach’s concept one tiny paw step further and made it a point not to separate my gratitude journal from my other musings, as a way to trick myself into being more grateful. And I would argue that my little trick with my mind is working. I’m not the same dog I was two months ago.Thankful to be Alive

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words,” American president John F. Kennedy once said, “but to live by them.”

That is why I want to share my perspective with the world. It’s kind of like American comedian Jim Carrey said “I wake up some mornings…and I go, ‘remember how good this is because you can lose it.” I’m done playing hide and seek with life.

Instead when I wake I say here I am world, happy and alive.


Sur-reality Check February 11, 2013

I had another rare nightmare last night. I know it because my rhythmic whimpering wakes my mom and dad, who (in turn) wake me to stop the madness happening in my mind. More often than not, the madness unfortunately does not come to a complete halt upon waking. The memories of my nightmare haunt my thoughts the remainder of the night and into the day, often forcing me to reflect on paths that my optimistic personality prefers to avoid.

Today I reflect on my surreal dream by observing that the general public seems to misunderstand the concept of the word “surreal.” Until today, I always thought of it as a positive reflection on one’s experience, like a dream coming true. On the contrary, Bing aligns the surreal with the “bizarre: weirdly unfamiliar, distorted, or disturbing, like the experiences in a dream or the objects or experiences depicted in surrealism.” The optimist in me wants to see the good in all words, so this took me by surprise.

As did my dream last night, which (now that I have a better understanding of the word) was incredibly surreal. I was enjoying a car ride with my mom and dad (which is one of my most favorite things to do with them) after about a year in my forever home. We were in the car for an unusually long period of time, which had me the most excited for the adventure the journey would bring.

Then it happened. I started to recognize my surroundings and I was not happy with what I saw.

I know that bridge, I thought, and that is Lake Winnebago…I know that lake. Then it occurred to me…they must be taking me back to the humane society just like the other family did before them. But no, I thought, this is different! They love me!Nighty Night

That’s when mom woke me up. Thank goodness. Because that drive really did happen, and the ending was nothing like it was in my nightmare. My parents (obviously) did not return me to the humane society. Instead, we ended up driving for three more hours before we reached our destination: a cabin on a lake in a new, exciting place they called the “Northwoods” of Wisconsin. The three days that followed were some of the happiest of my doggie life.

To me, that is taking the reality check that is surrealism back to the positive side of the coin. Sometimes we are hit with surreal moments that remind us to be thankful for what’s real in our lives.

Sarah Ban Breathnach speaks of something like this in Simple Abundance. She refers to these moments of darkness as moments of divine discontentment. In these moments it is more crucial than ever to find value that brings a little light into the room of reflection that takes residence in our minds.

“(Divine Discontentment) is part of the process,” Breathnach writes. “It is the grit in the oyster before the pearl. This creative second chance is when we come into our own. When we finally claim our lives and wrestle our futures from our fate. When we learn how to spin straw into gold. When we realize gratefully that we can live by our own lights if we access the Power.”

Nightmares don’t scare me as much as I continue to live by my own light.


Bless You! Learning from Life’s Sneezes February 5, 2013

I react pretty noticeably when my mom sneezes. First of all, its no quiet matter. It is a loud and intrusive sound that occasionally reverberates off the walls of our home. So when she sneezes, I run to her (regardless of where I am in the house) and sniff around her face a bit. I want to know what’s going on…I want to make sure she’s okay.

Jumping for Perspective

I heard once that when people sneeze, their spirit temporarily leaves their body. That is apparently why person two emphatically says “bless you” to person one; to ensure person one’s spirit returns safely to his or her body.

Initially, my reaction to this concept was incredibly negative. I hated the thought of a person losing their spirit for even a second. But the more I thought about it, I realized there could be something gained from that out-of-body perspective.

Like myself, transcendentalist poet e. e. cummings placed a high value on the kind of self awareness one can gain from perspective.

“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit,” he wrote. Human and doggie alike, I believe something can be learned from everything. So perhaps life affords us with sneezes to force us to take a moment to reflect.

Sarah Ban Breathnach speaks of reclaiming our future in such moments of reflection in Simple Abundance.

“Today, deliberately turn away from the world,” Breathnach writes. “Absorb the shock of becoming aware that many of your preferences and opinions are not really your own. Begin, instead, to listen for the whisper of your authentic self telling you which way to go.”

Granted, a sneeze is hardly a whisper, but the concept of understanding our own authentic spirit better by turning away from distraction might take more than a whisper. Heck, for some people I know, it takes a full out, reverberating sneeze to pull away from the television, cell phone, computer, or whatever other bright shiny object grabs our attention next.

“Only when the clamor of the outside world is silenced will you be able to hear the deeper vibration,” Breathnach writes. “Listen carefully. Spirit’s playing your song.”

What do you hear?

Today’s post is dedicated to my dad. He has requested his picture not be used in the production of this blog, but that doesn’t mean I can’t say how very many pictures there would be to chose from. They all have a special place in my heart. Happy Birthday dad!