Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

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.

 

If You Can Dream It November 21, 2013

A lot of things happen in my sleep. It’s like when I close my eyes, they open to a world of possibility. Sometimes it’s silliness (like when I have wings and can fly with the birds). Sometimes it’s purely hope (like my hopes for forever happiness with my beloved family). Other times, I relieve unfortunate events of the past or find myself fearful of bad things happening in the future.

DreamingToday I experienced both sides of the spectrum while my people were away at that place called work. I dreamt of a time I felt unsafe, but not for myself. I felt unsafe for my little person at the time, Jo, who was facing another confrontation with the man with the leather belt. Feeling fearful on behalf of another is almost worse than feeling it for yourself, I realize, since you have even less control over the situation.

Then I saw something fabulous. Something joyful. Something that looked a whole lot like the pictures I’ve seen floating around what my people call the Internet. The photos tell the story of Beau and Theo, a little person and his puppy brother, who have synchronized their sleep schedules and now nap together in all sorts of cuteness. Except in my dream it was me and my own little person (who looked oddly like Jo). We were peaceful and content. But more importantly we were dreaming.

They say two minds are better than one, and I can testify to that. I can’t tell you what we were dreaming about (in the dream) because then it won’t come true.

Thinking about all of this made me realize it’s kind of funny to me the way life imitates art in this way. (Or is it art imitates life?) Just as we fear, we also hope. Or as Suzanne Collins put it in her novel The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, “hope is the only thing more powerful than fear.”

Waking and sleeping, the mind is a powerful thing. It can take us places we never dreamed possible, both good and bad. But that’s okay. Because sometimes we need the bad to remember to celebrate the good. And if we can dream it, it is reality if only for those brief moments. That is – and always will be – enough.

 

A Wrinkle In Time September 14, 2013

To write is to be inspired by life. I find this happens in the most unusual of ways from the most unexpected sources. I’ve found it in everything from a stinky towel on the bathroom floor to the wind blowing delicious smells throughout my neighborhood. But sometimes its more simple than that. Sometimes it’s right there in front of our face. Sometimes we don’t even notice it because it’s something we see every day. Sometimes it’s in a word. Inspiration.Deep Thinking

I keep my most simple resources for inspiration close to my side while I write, and today they spoke to me. As I write, the following titles are within arms reach:

Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy, Sarah Ban Breathnach

Marley and Me, John Grogan

Poemcrazy, Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge

Inside of a Dog, Alexandra Horowitz

A Dog’s Purpose, W. Bruce Cameron

To write is to be inspired by life. To read is to be inspired to write. Each of these titles has a purpose. A reason for being by my side in my recent past, present, and future. Today’s daily writing prompt challenged us to open to the first page of the closest book, read the tenth word, and do a Google image search for that word. From there we will find our inspiration. Or not. I can honestly say this is the very first time any of these books has let me down. In the order referenced above, the words were as follows: of, years, I, at, and squeaky.

In a word, my choices left me feeling underwhelmed. Not even squeaky sparked my cerebral cortex into action. But as a picture is worth a thousand words, I found it both ironic and enlightening to find the picture below come up in response to my search for “years.”

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This image can inspire all kinds of different thoughts for different people. For me, it looks like a wrinkle in time that immediately inspires hope. Faith in the future. Knowledge that the past is behind us (but still part of the journey) the present is a gift, and the future is looking pretty spectacular.

Inspiration. Sometimes it happens in unusual ways. Other times it’s right there next to us in someone else’s words.

 

Obedience School Drop Out June 28, 2013

I’ve been called a lot of not-so-nice things in my relatively short doggie life. Obedience school drop out. Behaviorally challenged. Approved for homes with children ages 12 and above. Yet I find in life’s greatest contradictions lie some of the most intricate sources of wisdom.

Its true of animals and people alike if you ask me. If you hear something enough times, you start to believe it as truth. In a dog’s life, words like stupid, naughty, and troubled haunted my puppyhood. In a person’s life, overuse of words like stupid, disabled, or challenged as a child can impact a person for the rest of their adult life. Truth becomes us. But can we become truth?

Becoming Truth

I’ve often wondered this as I think nostalgically back on my time before my people brought me into my forever home. I encountered a variety of characters in a myriad of settings who each taught me invaluable lessons along my journey. So how could I be so stupid? Why do they keep calling me naughty? What did the folks at the humane society say to my mom that almost made her give up fighting to adopt me?

Then it happened. The tides changed, and with them my life changed forever. Two distinctly similar moments come to mind when I think of the brilliance of contradictory wisdom. My first night at the humane society when I thought the world was coming to an end, Rusty the golden retriever showed me the light. Much like my favorite transcendentalist thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rusty believed we are not products of what the world tells us, but rather of what we tell ourselves. We are what we think, so of course if we believe the negative things that are said about us we indeed may become them.

The bookend to my understanding of this occurred only a few short months later, when my forever family took me to see an animal behaviorist for my alleged behavioral problems. (This was required by the humane society as a condition of my adoption.) I’ll never forget the first two sentences Jenny said when we began our session. “He’s got to be one of the most unique looking dogs I’ve ever met,” she said, “and so smart!”

It was the first time anyone had ever used the word smart to describe me. And in that moment I was both overwhelmed with joy and humbled. Rusty changed my interpretation of the world around me by changing my interpretation of myself, and here I was being praised for simply being me. I know it sounds contradictory, but in that moment I realized true wisdom is found through admission there is much yet to learn.

It is because of my personal admission of humility that I can say I honestly wouldn’t mind being called those negative names anymore. Sure, if we hear something repeated enough times we begin to believe it. But let us learn from the variety of characters life offers us. Let us choose to contradict the negative things with our positive thoughts. Let us become our own truth.

 

A Playful Trip to Paradise February 3, 2013

Today I was listening to Chris Martin of Coldplay sing about a girl dreaming of paradise and it occurred to me I would have a tough time picking just one “happy place.” For some, it is sitting on a white, sandy beach blissfully staring into the blue abyss of the ocean. Others would prefer to rock climb up a nameless waterfall in the outback.

Playing catch in my backyard and or wrestling with my pals dog park pop into my mind as obvious choices, but that seems too easy. And (as it usually does) digging a little deeper led me down a surprising path of self discovery. As I thought more about it, I found myself in awe of the idea that we all have the power to construct our own version of paradise in our minds. Paradise looks different to everyone, which is what I would argue makes it so special. Happiness resides in this place, allowing its creator to be his or her true authentic self.

I know I have more than one of these places in my life. But if I had to pick just one, it would definitely be a combination of dreams and reality because (if you ask me) that is one of the many impressive things the mind can accomplish.

I do my best thinking on paper, so I dream myself a writing room.

It has no shortage of plush couches, fluffy pillows and blankets that smell deliciously like my forever home. My favorite music would be on a constant stream reverberating off the walls, which would be covered with pictures of my family and the written words of all those who inspire me. There would be a big bay window with another set of comfy pillows on the sill. At first, I pictured myself solo in this philosophically inspiring writing room. I saw myself alone with my thoughts.

Then today happened and reminded me of the role my reality plays in my dreams. Today was an action-packed day filled with treats, hugs and loved ones who never cease to inspire me. No, I would not chose to be alone with my thoughts in my writing room. I would choose to be surrounded with people and pets who love and support me and my writing.

I honestly can’t picture a paradise better than that.

 

Little Guy, Big Thoughts January 27, 2013

Fortune cookies make me feel rich. Not just because they are yummy (and my mom accidentally drops them on the floor for me every now and then), but because of the wisdom they contain:

Seize from every moment its uniqueness.

Trust others but still keep your mind open.

A sound mind and healthy body bring many happy events to you and your family.

And my own personal favorite: You will bring sunshine into someone’s life.

These are a sample of some of the fortunes of wisdom I’ve stumbled upon in the Schmidt kitchen lately. No bigger than a people finger, those little fortunes pack a powerful philosophical punch. Little and insignificant as they may seem, I place a high value on the insights, advice, and inspiration they provide.

I know what its like to not be taken seriously because of my size. A lot of people have underestimated me in my life because I’m little. And at only a foot and a half tall and 22 pounds, I will admit I’m on the smaller side (canine or otherwise). Little guy is even one of my nicknames. But (like so many things in life) you can’t judge a book by its cover. This little guy is full of big thoughts.

Like Sarah Ban Breathnach suggests in Simple Abundance, I find joy in my daily dialogue that is this blog. It might just be the best thing since sliced bread (with peanut butter, of course).

Little Guy, Big Thoughts

“I will write myself into well-being,” author Nancy Mairs said.

I have definitely been happier since I started this blog. It gives me a medium to express myself (little as the world may perceive me) and bring sunshine to the lives of others. I love words, so seeing my own come together so cohesively on a daily basis brings me joy.

But this isn’t about me. This is about something much bigger than me. This is about me aspiring to be even the littlest ray of sunshine for people. German philologist Max Muller said it best when he said “a flower cannot blossom without sunshine, and man cannot live without love.”

Love for life brings sunshine amidst the cloudiest of days if you ask little ole me.

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