Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

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.

 

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.

 

On Choosing Joy June 19, 2014

I don’t get out much. I mean no disrespect to my people in saying so either. It’s a simple truth that of the 365 days in a year, about half of those days are actually walkable by a dog who lives in Wisconsin. Especially when we have an epically cold winter like we did this year, followed by a freakishly chilly (almost non-existent spring) and now this. Tornadoes have taken over cities around here lately as thunderstorms make their presence known.

Happiness IsJust the other day I was napping peacefully when alarms sounded to let my people and I know danger was potentially headed our way. Thankfully we were safe, save for a few tree branches in my backyard paradise that didn’t make the cut. But I was more upset about the interruption of my dream. As is the norm during nap time, I was in a very happy place. Except this time it surprised me to find that place was someplace other than my forever home.

It was everywhere else. There I was, on my own again, exploring the world. Except in this dream I knew I had a home to return to when it was all over. I knew because I (of course) had Mrs. Prickles with me to remind me of my forever people. But, more importantly than that, I had my joy. From the ground up, it is always with me reminding me of all things past, present and future for which I can be thankful.

I was reminded of this as the most simple of things came into question the other day. The rain fell down and the thunder and lightning were so strong they woke mom, dad and I all up in the night. Carter somehow slept through all of that (don’t ask me how). But as the rain fell and the winds shook the walls of my forever home I was reminded of what is really important in my life. It’s not my toys. Its not my plush doggie bed. It’s not even the photos of my dear forever family that scatter throughout the house.

It doesn’t matter that I don’t get out much. Our weather around here is harsh and unpredictable. But that’s okay, because it’s the joy I choose every single day that brings me strength. I think this is what is missing from so many lives, more than the possessions people seek. Joy. From the ground up, it’s yours for the taking.

 

Food for Thought November 28, 2013

I think it’s a survival of the fittest thing. Except I’m not that fit. I think about food. A lot. I just like a good sampling of whatever scraps I can get my paws on. I would have to considering my prized nickname as the doggie vacuum cleaner. If it’s on the floor, it’s mine.Are you hungry? Always.

So it probably comes as no surprise that Thanksgiving is among my favorite holidays. It’s the one day a year (almost) entirely dedicated to food. Hours of preparation go into preparing turkeys and potatoes and stuffing and cranberry sauce and rolls and pumpkin pies. Don’t even get me started about the smells. And the tastes…well, that’s the tricky part for us canines on a day like today.

I don’t frequently get people food as a practice of my parents to keep me safe (or so they say). Not for doggies is a phrase I hear all too regularly. But let’s just say I know who to sit by (or under) on days like today. I have my people who sneak me little samples of turkey and mashed potatoes. And I love them.

I had at least one of these people at each of the stops on my Thanksgiving journey. Today I got to visit both grandma’s houses, which meant I got a lot of samples.

Today I was blessed to have these people at both stops on my Thanksgiving journey. I got to visit both grandma’s houses today. The table looked basically the same at each house, complete with a turkey and all of it’s trimmings. And I scored turkey and mashed potatoes from my accomplices (who shall remain unnamed).

Getting sleepy...But I noticed something other than the menu was the same at both the houses. It’s hard to believe, but it was something bigger than either of the turkeys. It was more prominent than the spicy pumpkin smell wafting through the air. After all of that preparation, the eating itself only lasted but a half hour or so. The leftovers were carefully divided up and stored away in the fridge. And that’s when real party started. Everyone was happy to be together. Thankful. Not necessarily for the food, but for the time together.

This occurred to me as I drifted off into my own sort of turkey coma. This day, Thanksgiving, is actually about so much more than food. (Which is a tough truth for someone as in love with food as myself to admit). Forget survival of the fittest. I could not survive if not for these people. I would much rather forgo my samples than be without them.

So (while I still appreciate the dedication to food that accompanies the day), I pause tonight to give thanks. To recognize the meaning behind the deliciousness. To embrace that today is actually about people coming together to celebrate each other. To tell stories (even if they’ve all been told before). To feed something other than our stomachs. For today we also feed our souls.

 

You Tell Me November 24, 2013

Some people call me needy. I prefer loving. Compassionate. Loyal. There’s only one problem: I care what people think. There, I said it. And “needy” doesn’t exactly sound like a positive thing.

Yet I will be the first to admit I am a self-proclaimed doggie Olympic gold medalist at attention-seeking behavior. I cuddle into the tiniest crevice next to (all right, sometimes on top of) whomever will have me. I prefer to be a co-pilot on car rides rather than slum it in the back seat. Above all, I won’t rest until I’ve made someone smile. Counting Blessings

Sure, this external locus of control on self-esteem has its downsides. (Complete and utter failure come to mind). But the joy I feel in the moments I’m sharing joy with others more than makes up for that.

I thought of this today as I watched as my forever people bustled around the house. Today dad finally finished his long list of daddy nesting projects around the house. In his eyes, the house is officially ready for our new little person. Meanwhile, something called a car seat travel system got assembled, a diaper bag was put together, and baby clothes were washed and neatly folded away. I felt blessed to be a bystander in these moments. I watched it all unfold from the comfort of my doggie bed in the kitchen. And, in doing so, I became the richest doggie alive.

For 339 days, I have shared my thoughts with the world. My 365-day mission to share my unique perspective on joy (from the ground up) has almost come full circle. And today I realized perhaps one of the most important things I’ve come to know from my experience is myself. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I’ve learned a lot about the way I think, the way I perceive the world around me, and the ways in which my “needy” title is actually a good thing.

“If you want to feel rich, count the gifts you have that money can’t buy.” I don’t actually know who said these words, but I do know how they make me feel. I’ve stumbled upon great fortune during this journey of self discovery. Some people call me needy. I prefer to see myself as an ambassador of great fortune to all who will take it. Joy. From the ground up, that is my gift to give. You tell me whether it’s worth taking.

 

Recipe for an Unforgettable Day November 12, 2013

Some days are imprinted on our minds as if they were yesterday. Others blur and fade. And, every now and then, life hands us a combination of both. I’ve noticed that heightened emotions and extreme situations in the same day create a recipe for the kind of day that you’ll never forget with moments that you struggle to remember.

Like what happened to my mom one year ago today. I knew something was awry that morning when she and dad interrupted our usual sleep routine to go to the hospital well before most people wake for the day. It was still dark outside, and (unfortunately) there was a sense of darkness in both of them. Fear. It haunted us that day.

I worried the entire time they were gone, and my worry met its match when they returned. It was about eight hours later, but may as well have been eight months the way I saw it. Nothing could have prepared me for the days that followed.Hope Floats

There is a sound us canines make when we’re in pain. Mom hates it. It’s akin to a screech or a squeal, and it communicates that we are in intensely extreme discomfort. I don’t make it often, but when I do it’s usually because someone stepped on my paw or my tail. And I immediately seek some sort of acknowledgment from the person since I know they couldn’t have meant to hurt me.

Mom was the embodiment of the people version of that sound those few days after surgery. She had something called knee reconstruction surgery, where the doctor apparently grafted her a new ACL, repaired an incredibly shredded MCL and did a repair on a horizontal tear on her meniscus he only does in 5% of cases. Whatever all that means didn’t matter to me.

What did matter was the immediate aftermath, and the painful recovery that followed. I hated every minute of it. Worse yet, I hated to see dad struggle to take care of her and somehow (at the same time) shield her from how afraid he really was. Fear. I know that’s part of the reason mom kept crying out in the night. She was afraid. And so was I. It was disarming for me to see my people, my rocks, seem to be crumbling around me.

Those days, those fearful days, are imprinted on our minds and hearts forever. Yet, with time, they blur and fade. But what I remember most from the heightened emotions is what I am most thankful for today. We got through it. We persevered. And now look at us. Here we are a year later with a little person on the way. Mom’s knee (almost never) bothers her anymore. All of this stands to show – fear is no match for hope.

 

Hope in Gratitude January 14, 2013

Hope in GratitudeWriting can be a bit like life. Some days are like poetry, weaving experiences together in the most beautiful (albeit sometimes ironically morbid) of prose. Those days can be easier than others to write things worth reading. Other days are like the worst case of writer’s block. Nothing among the list of one’s ordinary function comes easy. Even waking up (or picking up a pen and paper) sounds absolutely impossible on “one of those days.”

Either way, I’m starting to notice how easy it is to find something to bring a ray of sunshine into even the cloudiest case of writer’s block. I say this because if its possible for a dog to have what humans refer to as “one of those days,” that was my life today. Instead of shattering a glass on the hardwood or breaking a nail (which I’ve heard can be quite painful for womenfolk), I struggled to find any inspiration in today.

Mom journeyed back to this place she calls work today. I missed her terribly. After all the time off for her leg surgery, I realize I’d gotten spoiled with people time during the day. But to make matters worse, I could tell things didn’t go well by her emotional state when she came home over her lunch break. And again when she came home from work well after the sun went down. And I will be the first to admit it: a tough day on her takes a toll on me. I can easily slip into a darker way of thinking, wishing more than anything I can somehow be that lantern of love I’ve pledged to be while at the same time not having any idea of how to light the match.

Then something hits me. A ray of sunshine makes its way through the cloudy darkness that is the blank screen or notepad mocking me with its silence. Today it was two things combining in perfect harmony, just like poetry coming together on the page: music and good writing. Two obvious things that inspire me (and lots of other thoughtful writers, poets and songwriters), but as I am embracing simplicity this year I find solace in (even) these most obvious of things. Miracles happen in simple moments like this.

I was reading today’s thoughts on Simple Abundance, which focus on finding specific things to be thankful for in even the cloudy days while listening to “Tell Me a Story” on Phillip Phillips’ album.

“Hope is just a ray of what everyone should see
alone is the street where you found me
scared of what’s behind you
and scared of what’s in front
live with what you have now
and make the best of what’s to come.”

Phillips sings to me his guitar-stringed thoughts on the world, and I find myself so grateful for his words that I want to share them with anyone who reads. Quite the paradox, since today’s Simple Abundance entry cites the thoughts of author Melody Beattie.

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow,” she said.

Tantalizing little cursor on a blank screen? You’re no match for me. Trouble lighting the match for my lantern of love? Forget about it. There is hope in gratitude, even on a day like today.