Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

And Let It Begin With Me December 17, 2014

It’s not uncommon for it to happen at any given time during the year. Thanks to the evolution of streaming radio, it can happen with the touch of a button. And around here it does. It doesn’t matter if it’s February or July or September. Christmas music is a favorite thing for my dear forever mom.

What that means for me is I get to hear all my holiday favorites whether its snowy and frigid or sunny and toasty. And I’m not going to lie – it has a way of evoking that special sense of the magic of Christmas regardless of when I hear the words. Frank Sinatra’s original version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” are two of the best in my opinion.

Today I (re)discovered a familiar tune that I had forgotten about in recent years. I haven’t heard it much for whatever reason, but when I heard it today it invigorated my previously lacking sense of holiday happiness.

“Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me,” the song goes. “Let there be peace on Earth, the peace that was meant to be.” There is something so simple about the lyrics, but what stands out to me is the sense of personal responsibility for one’s role in the world. A personal responsibility for the impact we have on others. And (good or bad) it doesn’t take much.

I think I heard one too many stories of the rude and pushy people out there in the world this holiday season. It got to me.

That ends now.

Today was not unlike most days in my forever home. But hearing that song reminded me yet again what is important in even the most normal of days. Joy. Peace. Love. From the ground up, these are the building blocks of who I am.

So tonight I do my part to bring to life the words of my new favorite Christmas carol. Let there be joy. Let there be peace. Let there be love. And let it all start with me.

 

The Gift November 14, 2014

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was freezing cold outside, but snow was falling in the peaceful way it does in a snow storm. I was watching Jo watch the flakes fall from heaven from my favorite vantage point snuggled against the crook of her tiny legs. Carols were playing softly in the background, and the house smelled like hot chocolate and cinnamon.

It was Christmas Eve, and though Jo and the man with the leather belt didn’t have much, the man found it in his (usually stone cold) heart to make something special of the holiday. There were presents wrapped under the Christmas tree he helped Jo and I decorate, and as Jo opened them I was overcome with the purest sense of joy as I watched the giddy glee take over her usually very serious face.Wiley Schmidt: Blogger

It didn’t occur to me in the least that something under the tree was for me. I had never gotten an actual Christmas present. Joy had always been enough. Or so I thought.

If I thought Jo was joyful as she received her gifts, that was nothing compared to how she embodied happiness as she handed me my gift. It was wrapped with pretty paper and a ribbon, which I remember thinking was so silly since I obviously couldn’t unwrap it myself. “To Wiley, from your Jo” she read the tag to me before tearing into the box. Out she pulled one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. A collar she put together using things she had around the house (ribbons, broken head bands and the like) and a shiny tag that read “Wiley.”

If dogs could cry, I would have been bawling. But alas, all I could do was lick her and love her even more than usual, which was no hardship for me by any means. That was the very first collar I had and in many ways it remains my favorite to this day.

It wasn’t all that long after that blessed day that I remember feeling my heart break when the man with the leather belt ripped my precious collar off that day he left me on the side of the road. I loved being Jo’s Wiley. I was her protector, and she was mine. I will never forget her, or that beloved collar she gave me.

But I realized many (many) blessed days later that it’s not about the collar. It’s about belonging. It’s about knowing where I belong. Where home is.

I know there are dogs who nip and scratch and tear at their collars. I’ve never been one of them. My collar says who I am, but more importantly it says what I am. I am somebody’s. I belong. My people have changed the collars themselves up a few times since finding my forever home, but the one I’m wearing now says it all. “Rescued” it reads. Having a home, and having reminder of that to call my own is the best gift I could ever be given.

 

Look Up To The Sky May 29, 2014

It was a beautiful day around here. The perfect 70 degree sunny day without a cloud in the sky. I spent some time in my backyard paradise this afternoon soaking up the sun and thinking. This, I was reminded today, is one of my very most favorite ways to spend an afternoon. Especially when mom and baby Carter are around to keep me company. So there I was, finding myself drifting into a deep and happy sleep. It was one of those moments in life where you feel nothing but joy.

Treasure HuntingThen it happened. My dream became a nightmare as I saw my worst fears realized. The man with the leather belt somehow found me. Jo was not with him, which was somehow bothersome and happy at the same time. (I know in my heart she is happy and fulfilled and away from him somewhere). He found me, though. And dear baby Carter. It was just the two of us (for some crazy reason) and we were happy as could be until he came along. Fortunately mom woke me up (as she has a habit of doing when I’m barking or whining in my sleep) and I didn’t need to witness what happened next.

It made me afraid to nap the rest of the day, that’s for sure. But as time went on, so did life. From the ground up, I found joy in everything around me this afternoon. It was nothing out of the ordinary around here – Carter is still deeply attached to his eat, wake, sleep routines. That all happened as usual. And as it did I found myself finding peace in these moments. Finding joy in these moments. Embracing life in these moments.

As this happened I knew why I had that terrible nightmare. It was a beautiful day around here. It was one of those days that makes you thankful to be alive in the first place. But I’ve said before I think God throws us on our backs sometimes to force us to look up. Well, today I looked up at the beautiful sky and was reminded yet again of that poem “Footprints in the Sand.” In my case it’s paw prints, but that’s no matter. The message is the same. Sometimes we don’t know we are being carried through something until it’s already happened. Sometimes it’s not until we look back that we see how far we’ve come.

 

 

 

 

 

The Good Life April 24, 2014

I think it’s magic. To me there is really no other logical explanation. I’ve seen it happen in both my own life and the lives of others on occasions to frequent to count. Music. From the ground up, it touches the soul in a way words alone cannot.

I was reminded of this today when I heard a song by One Republic called “Good Life.” It’s all about the band’s real experiences travelling around the world and their ultimate realization of the good life. And it’s one of those songs that always gets my paws bouncing. It puts listeners into their own good life, just in listening to it. Listen to me

Which was kind of nice today. Because I’ll be honest. (Not that I’m not always honest, but you know what I mean). Today was not a good day. It was filled with tears and screams and everything negative one could possibly associate with time spent with a baby. Dear little Carter was in rare form today, and the implication was not a good one. Because when he’s that unhappy, mom is unhappy.

And here’s the thing – I know it is because dear little Carter is her baby and she wants him to be okay so it hurts her to see him so unhappy for so long. We are talking two hours of tears long. But she can’t. She can’t fix it. Sometimes there are just things you can’t fix. I think that’s what I learned today.

Because even I couldn’t fix the situation. This is not for lack of trying, mind you. Oh no. I pulled out the big guns. The more Carter screamed, the more mom cried, and the more I attempted to intervene. Attempted is the key word in the story, as I failed to evoke anything but frustration from my beloved forever mom.

Maybe it was because I was even more relentless with my positivity than Carter was with his screaming. It puzzled me at first, since it has always worked in the past. I did this thing where I paw at mom’s leg and sit and stare at her, and paw and stare, and paw and stare, and even jump at her – it did nothing but make matters worse. She just seemed more upset.

Then in happened. Magic. The song came on the radio and somehow the spirits lifted. Joy. From the ground up, it took the form of music today. And (even though it was something other than me causing it) I’m okay with that. Because today I was reminded of a pretty important lesson. The good life isn’t always the easy one. It’s the real one.

Oh, this has gotta be the good life
This has gotta be the good life
This could really be a good life, good life

Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/onerepublic/good-life-lyrics/#Fdd7HQaTuoUmQbJr.99

 

Life in Slow Motion February 18, 2013

I’m a pretty simple dog. I have a fairly regular daily schedule that involves sleep, food, love, playtime, food, and more sleep. I can’t complain. But sometimes I do wonder what Rusty and other pals from my past would think of my life if they could somehow live it with me.Life in Slow Motion

I am incredibly grateful for the people in my life, and all of my fur friends, yet sometimes I long for perspective from those I can no longer reach. This curious loneliness often takes me by surprise. I know what Rusty would say about this, which is oddly similar to what Sarah Ban Breathnach advises in Simple Abundance. So today I take in my life in slow motion as one of these distant loved ones might do from doggie heaven.

“Mary Kingsley was a hunter of a dream: the knowledge of who she really was and her place in the world. So are you,” Breathnach writes. “Yet even without encountering the daily dangers she faced…you have embarked on an adventure as exciting as that of any explorer. Uncovering the source of the Nile or charting the course of the Amazon are outward parallels to the inner journey you are on today – a safari of the self and spirit.”

On my safari, I have learned everyone we meet becomes as big a part of ourselves as we let them. Sometimes the more we take in though our interactions with others, the more we get to know our authentic selves. And we are more likely to let them in if we let our guard down and take a risk. That is where our journey to self discovery can take a challenging yet necessary turn toward the unexpected dangers of life’s adventures. But it is ultimately up to us to find the purpose behind our fears and make something of ourselves.

Every now and then, I’ll be caught in the middle while my people parents throw around one of my toys and I find myself wondering if Rusty is looking down on me from doggie heaven. Would he be proud of me? I know he would be very happy with my efforts to see the good in all people and things. And he would be absolutely ecstatic to find out I’m sharing my joy with whoever I meet in the world and in cyberspace. But would I make him proud?

Of that, I’m not so sure. I’m a pretty simple dog living a fairly scheduled life. So I stay the course on my safari of self and spirit and hope my life in slow motion does as much for others as it does for me.

 

A Lesson In Storytelling February 6, 2013

I enjoy my life as an observer of people. Sometimes they do the silliest things. Like when mom and dad throw Mrs. Prickles around in the living room, and I’m the pickle in the middle. I’m not stupid – I know what they’re doing. But I play along and dart around trying to steal my precious toy back from them because it makes me so happy to see them giggling like ninnies. I revel in the moments when happiness is contagious.

One thing I have observed is how easy it seems to see the differences in people than the things they have in common. Here we are together on our journeys through life in this beautiful world, all of us asking questions like who am I? Where am I going in life? What are my hopes and dreams? How do I accomplish them?

It reminds me of a song in Paint Your Wagon. “Where am I going? I don’t know. When will I get there? I ain’t certain. All that I know is I am on my way.”

We are all on our way to somewhere. Granted, somewhere is different for everyone, but today I’m focusing on what we have in common: the journey. Moreover, the choices we make along the way. Different as the circumstances may be, we all make choices that ultimately shape our lives. (As a dog, I rely on my mom and dad to make the majority of choices for me, but you get the idea).

“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words,” the great and elegant Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “it is expressed in the choices we make.”

In Simple Abundance, Sarah Ban Breathnach speaks of the power we have to remake our world by establishing rhythm to our lives. But rhythm, like most things, is not always easy for people to master. It takes time, practice and commitment to make the right choices. But we’re all in this together. There is support out there if we can put aside the differences and remember we are all on the journey together.

“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves,” Roosevelt said.

As an observer of people, I think its fascinating that all people have something so simple in common. They are their own storytellers. This inquiring mind wants to know – what does your story look like?

 

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!

 

Grass is Grass January 11, 2013

It bothers me when people talk about the grass being greener on the other side of the fence.

First of all, I don’t like fences. They are the ultimate metaphor for limitations. And while I have an appreciation for understanding one’s limitations, I don’t appreciate having a constant reminder taunting me about it.

Also, the way I see color completely negates the concept of the phrase. I see a spectrum of colors consisting mostly of yellows, blues and violets. Reds, greens and oranges are not distinguishable to me.

Regardless of my logical refutes to the phrase, I can admit there are metaphorical implications to consider. For people, fences are less of a limitation. (Especially those four-foot chained link ones that I have been known to clear in my more mischievous past.) And the grass may very well be greener on the other side. But just because something is perceived as a limitation doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be surpassed if it’s for the better good.

As with anything, it’s all a matter of perspective. I’ve said before that I’m an optimist. As a result, I’ve decided to find good in things on my side of the fence by watering the grass with my optimism. One of my favorite inspirational people Hellen Keller had a lot to say on this. Among many references she made to one’s optimistic option as an outlook on things made an appearance in today’s reading with Simple Abundance, which encourages positive thinking.

“No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit,” she said.

So I say no to the fence. And no to the grass being greener on the other side. Grass is grass, and its pretty darned great no matter what color it is.

Grass is grass

 

You can’t put Christmas away: Goals for 2013 December 31, 2012

I overheard an interesting conversation between mom and dad today. Dad was putting some Christmas things away, and mom scolded him. “Are you putting Christmas away!?” she questioned. His response surprised me. “Don’t be silly,” he said. “You can’t put Christmas away.”

Best known for writing the country classic “Happy Trails,” singer-songwriter Dale Evans had a similar commentary on the holiday season. “Christmas, my child, is love in action,” she said. “Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.”

Loving enough is certainly not the problem. I love my people (and all of their people) wholeheartedly and unconditionally. It’s how I show it, how I “give” that I think I can improve.  Quality over quantity as they say. Christmas is not meant to be about the number of gifts under the tree, so why would one measure its spirit quantitatively?

1920s singer and comedian Margaret Young had a theory on this. “Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier,” she said. “The way it actually works is  the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then, do what you need to do in order to have what you want.”Happy Trails

Who am I? I am a four-year-old terrier with a whole lot of love to offer the world. How will I accomplish this in 2013? I will begin by setting goals instead of resolutions. Webster’s dictionary defines “resolution” in a number of ways, including “the act or process of resolving, the act  of determining, or (my personal favorite) the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones.” What on Earth does that mean? As for me, I would rather set goals, which Webster defines as “the end toward which effort is directed.”

What do I want for 2013? What are the ends toward which my effort will be directed?

1. Remember that you can’t put Christmas away. It sounds simple (and perhaps even cliché), but I don’t care. Call it my effort to analyze a complex notion into a simpler one.

2. Love actively. Every day I will find a way to show my people I how much I love them. Literally speaking, I would like to convince my mom to take me to agility classes. I think it would be good for both of us – physically and mentally – to work together toward a common goal to get fit while spending time together.

3. Live life forward. I know who I am, and I want to share my perspective with the world. I will set aside the time necessary to keep sharing my thoughts on life with the world in hopes that my words might inspire someone else to do the same.

Happy trails in 2013 ya’ll.

 

Reflections on Christmas: All dogs go to heaven, right? December 25, 2012

2012-12-24 23.04.57I woke up this morning on the wrong side of the bed. All that tossing and turning mom did in her sleep last night kept me awake. I woke up feeling tired, crabby, and unmotivated. I could tell mom felt the same way because she was snippy with dad over what they should have for lunch of all things.

Then they left for a while to go to a place called church and they came back completely different people. Happy and jovial even. They turned on songs like “Joy to the World” and “We Wish you a Merry Christmas” and started dancing and singing along. I wanted nothing to do with it.

I overheard their conversation about this place called church and the message they heard about peace on Earth….and this got me to thinking…what peace? Where is it? I’ve heard a good deal of stories on the moving picture window lately of shootings at schools with small children, terrifying storms that force people from their homes, and people in third world countries who probably don’t eat as well as I do. Where in the world is this peace? Perhaps I was blinded by my lack of sleep, but I just don’t see it. How is it that mom and dad do? How is it that they believe?

That’s when the reflective conversation mom and dad were having hit a chord with me. Mom told dad a story of something called confirmation she experienced when she was younger. She said the passage the pastor referenced in church today was her confirmation verse.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you,” reads John 14:27. “I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, its so easy to lose sight of peace at the time we need it most, mom said.

That’s when it hit me…this peace they found at church is some pretty powerful stuff. Its a different kind of peace – not of this world, not something bought or borrowed, or something packaged up into an extravagantly wrapped box. Its the peace of hearts that have been reminded that each day is a gift. Its the peace behind this day called Christmas Eve. This place called church sparked Christmas spirit that has caught fire in my heart.

If that’s not a reason to celebrate, I don’t know what is. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!