Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The Time Wings October 27, 2013

I don’t think I’d call myself a morning doggie. Like many of my canine comrades, I like my sleep. Though I prefer to call my daytime naps daydreams, let’s be honest. I’m sleeping. I sleep a lot.

Not only that, but I have this whole sleepy morning routine. I snuggle my way into what I guess people call a spooning situation with either mom or dad until it’s time for them to wake up. Then I keep them company while they get ready to go to that place called work. I have a special spot in the bathroom (on the rug I’m certain they place on the tile especially for me) where I watch the chaos unfold.

JoyThen I usually sneak back on the bed and snuggle into the pillows until it’s time for them to leave. At that point, I move to my doggie bed in the kitchen where I get a treat. I think the treat is meant to neutralize my disappointment at their leaving, but obviously it’s just a treat. It’s not my people. So I daydream my mornings away where (in my mind at least) I’m running around the dog park or exploring new places with my people.

All of this takes a holiday on weekends. And while I am inexplicably motivated by routine, this is one routine I don’t mind veering away from. Because I wouldn’t say I’m a morning doggie, but there is one kind of morning I can’t get enough of. Weekend mornings are my favorite. Every weekend is different, and not all mornings are the same, but there is something that seems to happen regardless. Time stands still. For just a few moments, the outside world ceases to exist. We three (soon to be four) musketeers embrace the time together.

It doesn’t have to be in the morning. Or on the weekends. But I think it’s so important to take these moments every now and then to pause to embrace those you love. “Be like the bird who, pausing in her flight awhile on boughs to slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing she hath wings,” wrote French romanticist Victor Hugo.

I wouldn’t say I’m a morning doggie. But there is something about mornings I look forward to each day. Those precious moments, no matter how fleeting, are the wings with which we fly.


A Smile Never Goes Out of Style March 31, 2013

Snow was coming down sideways for a bit today. It got incredibly dark outside and looked like it was going to rain, but instead it snowed just enough to cover the ground with a healthy layer of snow blanket diamonds in a matter of about five minutes. It was remarkable in the worst kind of way for us Wisconsinites who have been so desperately pining for the warmth of spring.2013-03-31 18.51.572013-03-31 18.51.51

I found victory in those five minutes I couldn’t help but share. Hardly anyone noticed the snow because I was the center of attention (as it should be). Joking aside, I noticed two circles around me containing a dozen sets of eyes focused entirely on me. Closest to me was a circle of my favorite little people and around them was a circle of their adult loved ones.

We were playing pickle in the middle (with me as the pickle as usual), I had just gotten the toy away for myself and was celebrating my victory. Then it hit me. In that moment I heard the most beautiful sound: a whole room of people I love laughing. Better yet, literally everyone was smiling regardless of the reality of the weather happenings outside. It wasn’t too long before a hushed sense of surprise came over the room when they saw what was happening outside, but in those few precious moments leading up to that joy was in the air.2013-03-31 18.39.44

Some may think I’m overreacting about the painfully long winter we’re having in Wisconsin. I’m not one to exaggerate the truth. I even heard a few people comment on how there is finally more green than white on the ground (which is a small spring success story for us). Then the cloudburst happened. It was brief but it was heavy.

It reminded me of those moments that seem to come out of left field and mix things up in ways we don’t always appreciate. In these challenging moments we find strength in smiles and laughter. We seek comfort from our circles of loved ones. In these moments we find sincere and lasting joy. “Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face,” as French poet Victor Hugo once said.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that all of the pictures my mom took of me being the pickle in the middle appear to have a bright light in the background. Snow was coming down sideways for a bit this afternoon, but that didn’t keep the sun from shining in the living room where my family gathered.


Brighter Than Sunshine March 10, 2013

French poet Victor Hugo once said “to love beauty is to see light.” I could use some light on this dreary Sunday afternoon, so I find myself exploring what beauty looks like to me. “Beauty in things exists in the mind which contemplates them,” as fellow empiricist thinker David Hume put it.

I love Hume’s statement as it reflects my belief that beauty starts in the mind. It radiates from the soul. And it shines brightly in those who value inner beauty over glitz and glamour. So it might not come as that big a surprise that I am not a fan of the dog show world. Don’t get me wrong – they’re not all bad. But taken to the big stage that is the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show (and others like it), my disdain is threefold and I simply can’t try to understand it from their point of view.

Please bear in mind, this perspective comes from someone who would most definitely be considered a mutt in the outwardly analytical eyes of the Westminster judges. If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times: “what kind of dog is that?” No one knows. The shows only pass judgment on what they consider to be “accepted breeds,” which I am most definitely not.

Moreover, the Westminster dropped Pedigree as one of its main sponsors after 24 years in 2012. The reason? Pedigree was running a campaign in support of helping shelter dogs (like me) find their forever homes. No. They say right on the Westminster web site they only want “the best of the best…Storied in its history, rich in its tradition, the Westminster’s Kennel Club famed annual dog show is unique, prestigious, and elegant for all concerned.”Just A Mutt with a Big Heart

Much like what the elegance of Hollywood has done to encourage the staggering statistics that accompany eating disorders among women, these shows measure beauty on an unreasonable scale. Dogs are being held to different more physically demanding standards than ever before. In some cases, the evolving physical guidelines are encouraging breeders to make changes that ultimately cause serious health problems. While judges are now seeking a more severe slope in the back of a German Shepherd, breeding to meet the standard is causing more hip dysplasia on an already common problem in that breed. Pug faces are deemed most anatomically correct the flatter they are, but the poor little dogs suffer from breathing problems as a result. Is it worth it?

I would much rather measure beauty in its purest form. “You are not your appearance, but does the rest of the world know that?” Sarah Ban Breathnach asks in Simple Abundance. How different the world would look if we all asked ourselves that question on a daily basis.

In my case, it would be a reminder that I actually love everything about my unique appearance and my (relatively) normal life in my loving forever home. Those Westminster judges might call me a mutt, but I’m okay with that because I am a believer in the power inner beauty can have on the outer world. Forget the glamorous dog shows. I don’t need a fancy ribbon or trophy to know when I see inner beauty, I see light brighter than sunshine.

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