Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Feel My Love April 9, 2015

From fluffy blankets and rays of sunshine to hugs and smiles, warmth happens in a variety of ways. And I love all of them.

So last night and today when the sky cried really, really (really) hard, it became a priority of mine (as it always does) to make sure my warmth was felt. This is not that unlike most days, yet there is something different about days like today. Getting cozy

The dreary, chilly, wet days when the sun keeps its distance and is replaced by thunder and lightning. I’ve never minded the actual weather pattern as I know some of my canine pals do. Instead, I mind the impact it has on the world around me and do what I can to adapt.

There was nothing all that unusual about what I did this afternoon as my dear forever mom settled down to get some work done during dear baby Carter’s nap time. She sat first on a loveseat, where I immediately snuggled myself in very (very) close to her.

She had to go to the bathroom a couple minutes later, so I followed her upstairs and kept her company while she did her business. Then she settled into the couch instead of the loveseat, and I again found my snuggly self a spot that I knew would keep us both cozy. And warm. In more ways than one.

I guess she must not have been very comfortable (as has been happening more frequently lately now that she’s in the home stretch of pregnancy) because she moved back to the loveseat a few minutes later. Again I followed, making sure we were cozy and warm.

It was then that she paused and gave me a good long once over. It was then I knew she felt the warmth I intended her to feel with my presence. She smiled, and scratched some of my favorite places, and for at least those few moments I knew I’d done my job for the day.

I know there are comfy blankets and rays of sunshine that can do it. I know there are smiles and hugs that can do it, too. But for me, the ways of warmth don’t stop there. Snuggles do the trick, too.

 

A Heart Full of Seeds March 22, 2015

It’s not the first time it happened, and I’m sure it wont be the last. My guess is this story started yesterday as I enjoyed a little more time than usual in my backyard paradise. The weather was nice, so I relaxed in the sun for a bit under my favorite tree.

I found myself daydreaming about the warm summer days to come, with Carter running around and swinging in the tree swing dad hung for him last year. And the new baby, most likely all bundled up and protected from the sun. And mom and I in my beloved cozy spot with her in her hammock. There is so much to look forward to as the weather continues to warm up, I found myself lost in all of it. Second Chances

So I suppose it makes sense I didn’t particularly stop and take notice when a teeny tiny tick decided to move his permanent residence from somewhere in my favorite tree to somewhere in my neck fur. I went about my daydreams and (as far as I knew) all was well.

That is, until my forever dad was petting me this morning and found the creature had embedded itself into my neck. He and mom immediately jumped into action, mom consoling me as dad carefully extracted it. It doesn’t necessarily hurt, but it does feel a bit itchy. I know a visit to the doggie doctor is likely in my future this week, too, just to make sure everything is okay.

I’m sure everything will be fine. But as I thought about this thing ticks do, burrowing into a host and potentially infecting it with disease, it reminded me a bit of that thing called negativity. It’s not a favorite people feature of mine, and for good reason. I feel like for every good thing you share with someone and they pass along, there are ten bad things that seem to catch fire even easier. I don’t know why this is, but I know I don’t like it.

Nor do I like the impact it has on the host it infects with its parasitic evil. However, I hold the belief that just like my dear forever parents jumped into action to remove that tick, negativity so too can be removed. It’s not always easy to flip the switch and turn things around. It can even be painful. But (at least in my opinion) it’s necessary.

“Your heart is full of fertile seeds, waiting to sprout,” suggested Japanese thinker Morihei Ueshiba.

None of those seeds will sprout in a cloak of negativity. They need light, they need joy, to come to life.

 

To Feel It In My Heart March 13, 2015

First the windows got opened to let in the fresh air. Then there was a bustling around the house I’ve come to recognize means one (very exciting) thing. Shoes are gathered and the diaper bag is packed to the brim and I know what’s coming next. Adventure. From the ground up, it’s one of my most favorite things.

Except when I get left behind. Disappointment filled my heart this afternoon as adventure incarnate left with mom and dear baby Carter as I stayed behind. Dogs are apparently not allowed wherever they were going, which made my heart sad. The Great Outdoors

So I went to my spot in the window and did my best to stay positive as I soaked up the sunshine and felt a warm breeze run through my fur. I watched as a group of children from a nearby school literally skipped their way down the street. I saw a few people running. The mailman stopped by as he usually does in the afternoon.

I must have dozed off briefly because the next thing I knew, I heard the familiar car engine. The garage door opened. From the open windows I could hear the final notes of a familiar song about a rainbow. The car doors shut. The garage door went down. And in they came.

Adventure. From the ground up, it apparently only lasted just about an hour today. And at first I was heartbroken because it didn’t involve me. I found myself sulking throughout the time they were gone. When they got back, the sight of them together turned my heart’s frown upside down.

It doesn’t matter where they went or for how long. The fresh air and sunshine did them so much good, I could see joy radiating from them both from the inside out. They were smiling and laughing together, and I got an epic squeal and squeeze combination from Carter almost immediately upon their reentry into our forever home.

It made me think of the words of American pilot Amelia Earhart, who said “adventure is worthwhile in itself.” Sure, it would have been nice to be along for the ride. But seeing them come home like that, so happy, so full of life, I didn’t have to experience the adventure to feel it in my heart.

 

The Possibilities of Existence March 12, 2015

It was exciting. And interesting. And a little terrifying. I was sure it wouldn’t last long. When you’re talking about the attention span of a toddler, nothing ever does. Yet as I took dear baby Carter on an exploration tour of my backyard paradise today, I could tell he was as into it as I was.

From our ground-up perspective, the gradual incline is like a mountain, the decline like a valley. There are trees and pinecones and a garden to explore. So that’s what we did. Together we walked all over the yard, and he talked his talk (in a language neither my forever parents nor I can translate) and I listened. He showed me pinecones that I pretended were a new toy. And I watched as he took it all in. Backyard Fun

It was his first time wandering the backyard on his own two feet, since there was already snow on the ground when he first started walking. And it was fun.

It reminded me of the dreams I had all those months ago of us running and playing together in that yard. There wasn’t much running (the grass is still pretty brown and muddy) and it’s still to early to expect him to understand the game of fetch, but we’ll get there.

Not only that, but as I watched him wander and touch and feel and babble to himself, I realized this is just the beginning. There is a very good reason toddlers don’t pay attention to one thing for very long. Everything is new. Everything is different. Everything is exciting.

Watching it all unfold filled my heart with joy for these reasons. Because yes, it was a little bit terrifying thinking of him falling or trying to eat something he shouldn’t. But it was also pretty neat to think of this as just the beginning.

“That is the exploration that awaits you!” the late, great Leonard Nimoy suggested. “Not mapping stars and studying nebula, but charting the unknown possibilities of existence.”

There is so much out there in the world for my dear baby Carter to see and touch and explore. Sure, there will be bumps and bruises along the way, but that is all part of the journey, all part of the existence, I’m so honored to bear witness to.

 

 

A Man’s Best Medicine March 10, 2015

It’s not the first time it’s happened, but it might be the most memorable time to date.

“Today this little guy doesn’t have many big thoughts. Instead I have gratitude.”

Two years ago (almost to the day), I spoke these words in reference to a beautiful day in the neighborhood. It was 40 degrees, and I was cold, but it was the first time my dear forever mom and I got outside for a decent walk since before her knee surgery. Recovery from that surgery was an experience I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, so it was especially meaningful for us to hit the road again that day. A beautiful day

Today it happened again. Recovery wasn’t an issue this time, unless you count the emotional recovery from the winter doldrums we Wisconsinites all experienced for the last several months.

Instead it was simply joy. From the ground up, that is what filled my heart when dad (of all people) said the magic words. “Do you want to go for a walk?” I’m never sure why he and mom ask me such silly questions when they already know the answer.

Off we went, dear baby Carter and mom and dad and I, together, on a quick jaunt through the neighborhood. It was almost 60 degrees this time, and (while I love my alone time with mom) it was nice to be with everyone. Carter babbled in a language only he (and sometimes mom) understands the entire way. And mom and dad laughed, happy to be breathing in the fresh spring air.

Ancient Greek physician and philosopher Hippocrates took it so far as to suggest that “walking is man’s best medicine.” Today I soaked up the medicine, just as I did two years ago. And in doing so, I must have brought my mental motion to a halt because all I could think was how happy I was to be on the road again. Gratitude.

From the ground up, today I find myself thankful. Thankful for the weather. And the sunshine. And the way it warms hearts and minds. But, even more so, thankful for the people that bring it all to life.

 

To Spring Forward March 9, 2015

It’s not just the birds. They’re great and all, and it’s good to have them back. But something happened today that brought a lasting smile to my heart. I know it’s going to sound pretty silly, and I don’t care.

I saw green grass. Love in Truth, Truth in Love

Well, it is more brownish green than green. And it’s only in patches. None of that matters to me. Because the windows in my forever home were all open today to let in the fresh spring-like air. The grass is taking back its presence from the snow that accumulated over the frigid winter months. I say this cautiously, knowing from experience that snow and cold temperatures are still possible in March. (I live in Wisconsin, after all).

All of that said, I’m going to say it.

Spring is here! From the ground up, I felt it in my heart today. I’m not one to encourage wishing any amount of time away. I feel the need to embrace the beauty in each day, even when its gloomy and cold and the attitude of people seems to follow. That’s the thing, though. The attitude of people seems to follow.

I watched from my perch in the windowsill today as passersby had a definite bounce to their step. Not only were they walking, running or frolicking by in the first place (a rare sight through winter until now), but their was an air of joy in their motion.

Little girls stomped gleefully in the puddles where snow used to be. Moms jogged blissfully with their baby carriages. My dog friend Izzy and I barked hello at each other during our longer-than-usual time outside. Joy. From the ground up, it joined the sunlight that breathed new life into the fresh air today.

It’s more than the green grass. And the birds singing. And the people in the street. The renewal, and everything that comes with it, is a welcomed thing. It doesn’t mean there weren’t good things to winter. I love my cozy time with my forever family and Christmas and even the snow that is slowly melting away as much as the next dog. But the time has come to renew. To spring forward. And I can’t wait.

 

 

 

 

I Can See The Birds March 4, 2015

They’re back. The winged beauties that fill the branches of trees throughout my backyard paradise during the spring, summer and fall months have arrived. I heard their chirps echo through the air this morning as I basked in a balmy 23-degree sunlight for a few minutes while I was outside. Pausing to smell the snowflakes

Perspective is a funny thing when it comes to weather around here. Though most people would consider 23-degrees far from balmy (and even Wisconsinites have been known to reach for the winter coats, hats and mittens when it first happens in October or November), it feels warm after another frigid winter like the one we’ve had. (Forget the winter coats, because it feels like spring!)

So my first thought when I heard the familiar banter between the sparrows and and finches was that it seems too early for them to be back. It may have been 23 degrees today, but it’s supposed to be mighty chilly again tomorrow. Not to mention the lingering inches of snow that still cover the ground.

But the second the those thoughts crossed my mind, I pushed them aside. Because in spite of my concern for their safety and well being, they are a sight for sore eyes. They are one of the first signs that spring is coming. Relief and renewal and rejuvenation are on their way. Soon the air will be warmer again, and dear baby Carter and I will resume our playtime silliness in the green grass of the backyard.

Only I know this year will be different. This year, spring means we are getting even closer to the arrival of little person no. 2, who is set to arrive in early June.

I’m not sure how that will change things for my outdoor plans, but I’m hopeful the bit of extra time mom will have at home with the new baby will mean a bit of extra time for all of us to enjoy the sunshine together.

“Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush,” suggested Wisconsin columnist Doug Larson. I don’t know much about wearing shoes. And I can’t whistle.

But I can see the birds. And I think that’s a pretty good sign of things to come.

 

The Day Fall Fell September 12, 2014

I already know you’re going to think I’m crazy in saying so. But maybe it will make sense if you just let me explain.

On Tuesday, it was 80 degrees and sunny. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Tonight, as I write this, it is 40 degrees and raining. It has been cloudy and cold for the last 48 hours. And (this is where the crazy happens), I am loving every minute of it. This is what we here in Wisconsin are used to, after all. I guess you could say fall has fallen. Hard. But I’m okay with that.

Yes, we had a perpetually terrible winter that lasted well into what should have been spring. It was record-breakingly terrible, with temperatures well below zero more days than not, and snow banks higher than fence lines. Spring was almost non-existent as winter somehow slowly melted its way into an incredibly mild summer. I think there were really only one or two incredibly hot weeks in the mix, and lots (and lots) of rain. Throwback snuggles

So I know it sounds crazy that I’m so excited to welcome fall with such open (albeit a bit chilly) paws. That is, until you let me explain.

Yes, fall brings colder temperatures and confirms the impending ferocity of winter in Wisconsin. But it brings so many other things along with it. I love the smell of my forever home when mom makes her famous Very Cheery Cherry pie. I dream of the crackling leaves under my paws as my people clean up the backyard. And you can’t beat a brisk twilight walk around the neighborhood as the smell of burning wood resonates in the air. But the best thing of all is the cuddling.

It happened tonight in what might be one of the most special moments between myself, mom and dear baby Carter to date. As you know, Carter is eight-months-old already, and he and I have been going through a bit of a rough patch. I will admit that the fur pulling and screeching sounds he makes as he is figuring out his vocal chords have worn a bit thin. But all of that was forgotten tonight as mom rocked dear baby Carter to sleep.

It was no different than any other night since he’s been born. My people followed the same bedtime routine as always. But tonight, after months of apparent disapproval of the cuddling concept (with only a few exceptions), dear baby Carter cuddled. For a good long while. I found myself so drawn to the simple joy of the moment that I curled up on mom’s (freezing cold bare) feet and stayed there through the duration of the rocking time.

It could have been five minutes. Or it could have been an hour. All I know is that tonight I was incredibly okay with the fact that fall has fallen around here. Because it has brought us only good things so far.

 

Like A Heartbeat May 17, 2014

I think there is a distinct difference between a habit and repetition. At least from what I observe in human behavior. From what I can tell, a habit occurs mindlessly, like when I scratch that same spot by my collar on my neck seventeen times a day. This is different from when I spin in circles trying to find the absolute perfect spot on the bed or the couch or the floor or my dog bed. It is different from repetition, which (at least in my humble doggie opinion) occurs as the result of a conscious effort of some sort. Writer's Block?

I got to thinking about this today as my people worked in the yard. It’s the same work they always do this time of year, with the flowers and the hanging baskets and the mulch and the bird seed. It’s all too familiar, being the third time I’ve witnessed it all. It seems like a lot of work to me from my given spot of relaxation at the moment. Yet it seems to bring them joy and happiness. So my heart sings, no matter how tired it gets watching them work so tirelessly.

It made me think a little about this struggle I’m having with the blog. I’ve been at a crossroads lately trying to figure out whether my doggie opinion on things is still relevant and interesting. It certainly is in my humble mind. But it’s hard to tell sometimes.

I guess this is true for anyone at some point in life. Anyone can start to question why they are doing something – is it a habit or mindful repetition? And is either one so bad? This is a living part of my struggle as I was starting to worry I was repeating myself. But today, as I watched my beloved forever people plant the same flowers in the same place they have for the last three summers, I realized something.

A little repetition isn’t so bad. It keeps us steady. It reminds us where we came from and where we’re going. It’s like a heartbeat that keeps life’s beat in order. “Every heart that has beat strongly and cheerfully has left a hopeful impulse behind it in the world, and bettered the tradition of mankind,” said Scottish novelist Robert Louis Stevenson. That is the least I could possibly hope for on this journey of blogging. So I chose to beat on. Not out of habit, but through embracing the repetition that makes life real.

 

Dirty Paws April 25, 2014

I don’t like feeling left out. Yet I can’t lie in saying I haven’t felt left behind on more than one occasion in the last four months. That is how old my dear little person is (almost), and I frequently revel in how quickly that time has flown by. Yet it seems like ages when I consider that I am no longer first fiddle to my dear forever mom. Silliness

Oh heavens now. Most days I am second and I know it. Carter cries. I hide under the bed. Mom snuggles Carter now, not me. Mom plays with Carter now, not me. For all I know, mom loves Carter now, not me. On the bad days like we had yesterday, it’s easy to let these negative thoughts make their way from my head into my heart. Yet days like today remind me I might as well declare myself crazy.

Because days like today when I start to feel left out, something intervenes. I’m not sure what. For all I know, it is me. But today it happened again. Mom and dad were enjoying the warmer than usual spring weather. Dad was working in the yard while mom occupied Carter in his carrier thingy (which I frequently wish I would have tried out prior to his arrival). Carter was happy, which means mom was happy, which means I was ecstatic.

Then it happened. I stopped feeling left out. Partially because I jumped myself into a love fest kind of situation on the patio furniture, as I have been known to do. But in doing so, I seemed to make more than just my own heart happier. Mom smiled. Carter smiled. And my heart smiled. Because I knew in that moment we agreed on all things in life. It didn’t matter that my paws were dirty from the mud in the backyard. It didn’t matter because we all had joy in our hearts. In that moment, that is what mattered.

And that’s how the story goes. Regardless of how frequently I may feel left out, moments like I had today remind me I am losing my mind (not my heart). All is well, wehtehr we realize it in the moment or not.