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.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

The Winter Doldrums Cure March 6, 2015

I know it happens in the winter months around here. It’s one of those things I have gotten used to, living where I do in the fine state of Wisconsin. And, as much as I might prefer to whine and moan about it, I know it’s for my own good.

From late October through some mysterious time in spring, I simply don’t spend much time outside. My time in my backyard paradise gets limited primarily to practical things, and my dear forever mom and I don’t walk the neighborhood much. If at all. Car rides are also limited. And the dog park? Forget about it. It’s a wasteland anyway, because a lot of other pet parents feel the same way about having their dogs out in negative-degree temperatures. Running Joy

So when mom said the magic words this morning, my heart about jumped out of my chest. (Especially because I also heard her say it was seven degrees outside a few minutes prior). Car ride. From the ground up, it is one of my favorite things to hear. Off we went, mom, dear baby Carter and I, on a car ride to the groomer.

It’s a place I like more than I think I should. I don’t necessarily like the grooming part, but the socialization is unparalleled. Today did not disappoint either, as I saw my pal Jack. He’s one of the dogs who hangs out there on a daily basis, so I’ve come to know him pretty well during my times there.

It turns out I didn’t know something pretty important about him. He too has been a big puppy brother to two little people who were not very far apart in age. And he survived. Well, more than that. He loved it. Sure, there was the tail and fur pulling phase. And the newborn screams that pierce straight through to one’s brain. But the playtime. He said that’s the best.

It was an interesting perspective to hear, especially since I’ve admittedly had my concerns about having another little person to look after. I already knew it would be okay, but it was refreshing to hear about it from someone who’s been there. Especially since he said one of the best things about having two little people around is that it makes these long, cooped up winters around here not feel as long.

Because let’s face it. It’s pretty terrible being trapped inside for so many months of the year. We usually don’t know how long it will be until it’s finally over. But the little people with all of their crazy ways have a way of keeping things busy in a way that truly warms my heart. That doesn’t mean I’m not sure as anxious for spring as everyone else around here. It just means I know I have something pretty special to tide me over until it arrives.

 

 

 

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.

 

All Toasty Inside February 14, 2015

It’s one of those things you almost had to see to believe. And I had no idea what was happening until it was too late.

My fur froze today. It honest-to-goodness turned into icicles. I had just finished drinking up the majority of the contents of my water bowl before going outside and I swear it only took a matter of a second or two. That frigid cold Wisconsin winter air hit my wet chin furs and bam! Chin fur icicles. I’ve experienced some epic cold days, but I can’t say I remember that ever happening before. Me and My Shadow

At a high temperature hovering around a whopping seven degrees, it was the coldest Valentine’s Day I can remember experiencing. And I’m not going to lie. It kind of put a damper on things. There was a variety of local festivals and other events to keep the whole family busy today, but my forever family wanted nothing to do with any of that.

Usually my people make an elaborate surf and turf dinner together in the kitchen or they go out to a fancy restaurant. This year they ordered a heart-shaped delivery pizza and called it good enough.

I know my mom well enough to know that she increasingly frustrated as the day went on that nothing was going according to tradition. Disappointment. From the ground up, it would definitely qualify as one of my least favorite people emotions.

But that seemed to change tonight as we made some new traditions. Though I gathered the pizza itself to be a bit underwhelming, the idea of it was something they had a lot of fun with. Carter had a nice long nap this afternoon, so he was a hyper little bundle of joy who earned himself an extra hour of playtime before bed with all the smiling and crazy giggling he was doing.

It might not sound like the picture-perfect romantic celebration to everyone. And that’s fine. But I know that this will qualify as one of those days we not only cherish now, but will all look back on fondly someday. Because it may have been cold enough to turn my fur into tiny little icicles outside, but the love in my home made it all toasty inside. To me that’s what love day should really be about.

 

In A Moment January 3, 2015

I woke up smiling today. I didn’t know why at first (as I sometimes don’t), but I encountered the reason as soon as I made my way outside to my backyard paradise for my early morning stroll. Snow. From the ground up, it has always been a favorite source of joy for me. I know some people (especially anyone who plows or shovels it, or tries to drive in it) don’t particularly care for the stuff. But I love it.

It’s so simple and understated as it falls silently from the sky, covering everything in a snow blanket of diamonds. Happy memories abound for me and especially my forever mom, who has on occasion been so excited to get outside and play in the snow with me that she has abandoned all common sense to do so. (Coats and boots? Who needs them?)

Family in the snow

Today was no exception to this, as we got our first significant snow that dear baby Carter could enjoy. It has been an unusually warm and dry winter in Wisconsin thus far, with hardly any snow to date. Though I’m sure the headaches involved with snow were not terribly missed, I could tell my forever mom was waited with baited breath for this day. This day when she could share her child-like appreciation of the simplicity that is snow with her son.

There was no forgetting boots and coats this time around either. Carter was so very bundled by the time we made it outside that I wasn’t sure he’d be able to move. True to form, he figured it out.

Really it’s no surprise I woke up with a smile today. Because in the matter of a few hours, there we were. Mom and dad and Carter and aunt Morgan and I, playing together in the snow like a bunch of ninnies. Dancing like no one was watching. There were snowballs. And giggles. And silliness. We played and they laughed and I couldn’t tell whether my tail wagging or their laughter came first. Joy. In a moment, there it is.

 

Shoot the Moon December 7, 2014

It’s not something I think I’ve ever done. Even if I did, I’m not sure I would enjoy it. At least that’s what I thought before tonight. It’s that time of the month again around here. The moon is full and bright in the clear night sky, and something deep in my spirit tells me this is something to celebrate.

I don’t know much about my ancient canine heritage, as I choose to embrace the life I have with my forever family without too much other than respect for the past. But there is definitely something about days (and nights) with a full moon. From what I hear, people can get kind of silly for no good reason other than some strange impact of the lunar cycle. And dogs howl.

As a dog who doesn’t bark that often, the idea of howling is pretty foreign to me. Even if it was, what would I say?

Tonight I pondered this as I roamed about my brisShoot the Moonk but beautiful backyard paradise. If I were one to howl at the moon, what would I say?

It brought to mind something I have observed about human behavior. From the ground up, sometimes things just need to explode. I know everyone processes emotions differently. Some people work out to burn off steam. Others eat their feelings. Some people vocalize everything they’re thinking. Others store it inside until they reach a boiling point. I know there are happy mediums as far as all of this is concerned, but there is also a common thread that (albeit loosely) ties these people together.

“This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it,” suggested one of my favorite existential thinkers Ralph Waldo Emerson.

At some point or another, it’s going to happen. You’re going to need a good cry. A thunderous yell. A howl at the moon. It’s only natural. Beyond that, it’s okay. Because from what I can tell, it has a way of healing deep emotional wounds like few other remedies. If that’s what you need to do to feel better, then I say shoot down that moon. Maybe not every month. But every so often, I see it as an opportunity worth seizing.

 

 

On Stupid Friendship November 24, 2014

I thought it was a terribly stupid idea. I’ll be honest and come right out and say that. In doing so, I’ll stand by dad on what mom insisted was the wrong side of the fence. Because to us it was a no-brainer. Today we had the first significant snow event of the winter and I know the havoc that wreaks on people.

Not necessarily the people I love, but people in general completely forget how to drive for the first few snow storms each year. Accidents clutter the freeways, cars fill the ditches, and sirens seem to run almost as rigorously as the snow plows and salt trucks. Snowy Dreaming

That’s why tonight was not a good time for people to come over to my forever home. Obviously mom did not know when she planned an event she referred to as “Friends-giving” that mother nature herself would try to put a damper on an otherwise festive evening. Nonetheless, she could have called it off several times on account of the weather, as dad and I thought she should.

She suggested it, sure. A couple of times. But no one agreed to postpone a dinner they had looked forward to since it was finalized on the schedule several weeks ago. Friends-giving was on, snow or no snow. And as it turned out I may have been wrong on this one.

There was turkey and potatoes and vegetables and rolls and all kinds of other goodness (which means there were table scraps for me). There was love, which has its way of seeping through all the concern about the weather. And there was joy. From the ground up, Friends-giving brought joy to life tonight.

As the night drew to a close and a few of mom’s dearest and closest friends packed up to leave, I knew for sure I hadn’t misjudged the situation. It’s never easy for me to admit wrongdoing, but I have decided not to budge on this one. Because I know dad and I were right. It was dangerous what they did tonight, braving the storm to come together. Yet that’s exactly what they did. They came together. And it was worth it. Everyone traveled safely after sharing a delicious meal with great people.

“It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them,” suggested transcendentalist thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson.

As we celebrate a holiday about pausing to count our blessings, I’ve paused tonight to count mine. What my dear mom (and her friends) did tonight was stupid, but I guess it’s okay to be stupid sometimes. Because they were in it together. And their hearts were in the right place. I suppose that’s what friendship is all about.

 

Winter. Is. Coming. October 4, 2014

I’ve heard people talking about it for days. It started with something so tiny that popped up all over people’s (not-so) Smartphones. A glimmer of something that glitters but is not gold around here. A snowflake showed up on the forecast for today, and people were not happy to see it.

Being that it is so early in October, most of us Wisconsinites aren’t quite ready for the snowy white stuff. Except for me, that is! I suppose it might have something to do with the fact that I have nothing to do with the cleanup of it, nor the navigation through it. I get to enjoy it for what it is. And to me it is beautiful. Playing in the snow

So (please don’t tell everyone else in the state of Wisconsin I said this, but) I was actually the slightest bit disappointed when the snowflake on the forecast didn’t happen in my neck of the woods. There were some minor snow showers in other parts of the state, and (believe me) people were pretty upset about it. But not here.

All the weather-related pandemonium of the last few days did get me to thinking, though, about the inevitable winter that awaits us. It’s just around the corner. It was a frigid 40 degrees today around here, and while that is nothing compared to the subzero temperatures of this past January and February, it felt pretty darned cold. That is what I don’t look forward to about winter.

But there are a lot of good things to think about too. Like (gasp!) the snow, for me at least. And the cuddling – I love the cuddling. And the Christmas music and the lights and the traditions and all the extra time with extended family during the holiday season. And this year will be extra special because dear baby Carter will turn one whole year old.

So yes, winter is indeed coming as sure as I know my name is Wiley. And while I might be in the minority of those around me, I am more than okay with that. Warmth. From the ground up, it’s found in more than the what the forecast says. It’s found in our lives, in our minds, and in our hearts.

 

The End of The Tunnel April 27, 2014

I’m sure it looks different for everyone. In its various forms, the darkness has a way of encompassing us sometimes. Be it in a job we hate. Or a project that never ends. Maybe in a toxic relationship. Or, in the case of this four-legged life lover, the foe otherwise known as winter. It was awfully nasty this year, despite the bundle of joy it delivered into the lives of my family. (Thank goodness for that!)

Seriously though. Between the record low temperatures, and the snow sneezes that kept coming down on us every couple of days, it was a pretty epically horrendous winter in Wisconsin. And that’s coming from someone who knows winter in Wisconsin. Not to mention someone who makes a point of not complaining about things. I seek to find the good in all people, places and things, and all this talk about terrible weather has certainly not been filled with much (if any) of my usual silver-lining perspective.

Until now. Because the other day it was 70 degrees for the first time in seven months. It was gorgeous outside. And I got to spend time reveling in it all with my beloved family in my backyard paradise. That’s when I realized something I guess I’ve always known but never really paid attention to about that light at the end of the tunnel.

It is so very important because it keeps us going. It motivates us to be better. To do better. To live better. Because it’s always there, guiding the way. But maybe more importantly, the wait is always worth it. Sometimes the longer the struggle, the higher the mountain, the darker the times – the more sincere the joy is when you reach the end. When you reach the light.

That’s certainly how I felt the other day as my whole family laughed together and I wagged and they laughed and none of us knew which came first. I know it looks different for everyone. It happens at different times and varying frequencies for all of us. And I don’t think it’s ever the same twice. Except maybe it is in that one crucial way. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel. We just need to focus to see it.

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