Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Rescue Me November 17, 2013

I didn’t believe her at first. She was new and exciting and her past didn’t matter to me. What mattered was she was my new mom, my forever person, and I loved her from the start.

RescuedI loved her that first day she and dad came to visit me at the Oshkosh Humane Society. We shared a special moment when she knelt down to pet me and I did my best to grab on with my paw (as only us canines can do) to show her she was the one for me.  I was devastated when they left without me that day. The days that followed were some of my lowest of the low. A whole two weeks went by before I saw her again, and that’s when I knew it to be true. My forever person had found me. I was being rescued.

Recovery. Liberation. Deliverance. Rescue means different things to different people, all tied together by the common denominator of strong emotional responses. Joy. From the ground up, that’s what rescue means to me. So it never occurred to me that perhaps more than one heart was rescued that day. At least not until later, as I learned my adoption followed a string of unfortunate events in the lives of my forever people.

In May 2009, mom’s job at the local newspaper was eliminated along with the jobs of about half of the staff. Two weeks later, her dad died. It was sudden and terrible, and I won’t share all the details, other than that it came as a complete shock to her small immediate family. And alas, she had a new full-time job-helping her mom meet the attorneys, doing calculations with the CPA, and acting like the grown up who had it all together. In reality, she was the 24-year-old kid who found herself turning to the wrong ways of coping.

I’m no psychologist, but I would say she was still a little depressed when I met her a little more than a year later. And I immediately set about changing that in the only way I knew how. Loving. And, in doing so, I know I made her feel more alive. So ultimately I’m not sure who really rescued who. What I do know is I never would have thought more than one heart could be rescued in the same day. Yet I know it to be (at least partially) true. Mom didn’t just rescue me that day. I rescued her.

This post was inspired by Janine Allen’s “I Rescued a Human Today.”

Read it here: http://rescuemedog.org/dog-blog/i-rescued-a-human-today-by-janine-allen/

 

The Little Engine August 2, 2013

I need your help.

I didn’t realize it until recently when I spent almost three hours staring at a blank screen while the little flashing cursor laughed in my face. Writer’s block happens to dogs too. And (as is usually the case in matters of stubbornness), the answer to my troubles seemed obvious. Yet it also somehow seemed impossible. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I couldn’t bring myself to ask for help.Will You Help Me?

Instead I kept having that same internal conversation – they will think less of me the weak little doggie with writer’s block. They will think I’m giving up. And (worst of all) they will be disappointed in me.

Ironically, I’ve always thought asking for help seemed like such an easy thing to do. It’s always seemed like such an easy thing to do. And (unless you’re Superman or Wonder Woman) it is generally necessary. It’s one thing to be the little engine that could, but even that special little engine needs to stop for gas every now and then. It made perfect sense to me.

Then the last seven months of blogging happened and changed everything. I set out to share my perspective on joy from the ground up. But (as the little flashing cursor mocked me) I realized never did I say the stories I share need only be mine. Like most dogs, I live a simple life in which I enjoy simple pleasures. So do a lot of people. We have this foundation in common, but the design from there differs by life experience.

So today I paws to ask for your help. For your ideas. For your stories. Please, share them with me so I can share my perspective on them with the world.

Because sometimes no matter how hard it tries the little engine that could just can’t. That’s why there are stations along the journey to rest and refuel. In life we all need to stop and refuel every now and then to keep delivering our best to the world. It’s never easy to admit, especially for those who thrive on being miracle workers. But it doesn’t make you weak. It doesn’t make you any less of a person. It doesn’t mean you’re giving up. Quite the opposite in fact. You’re breathing new life into a tried and true perspective. I would argue that makes you stronger than ever.

 

Flying The Freak Flag May 28, 2013

I’ve never understood why women wear high heels. Don’t get me wrong, I would consider myself fairly up-to-date with the fashion world thanks to various television shows and my mom’s slight obsession with a place called TJ Maxx. But (in general) I simply don’t understand why women would want to make the simple task of walking more difficult.

Heck, from what I understand about doggie booties, they do miracles in protecting our sensitive paw pads from the elements, but I’m still not sure that justifies their level of discomfort. Strap four inches of height to that? Forget about it.Fly our Flags

I know (based on the ridiculous amount of shoes of various heights and colors my mom owns) four inches is not the norm. So you can imagine my surprise today when I saw the strangest thing on my walk around my pal Diesel’s neighborhood. We saw her at the same time, Diesel and I, and I could tell he was thinking what I was thinking. The woman was walking a collie and a small terrier of some sort down a major road in our community in four-inch wedge heels. I felt a bit like one of those cartoon characters whose eyes bulge out of their heads looking at this woman.

Why not enjoy your walk with your best four-legged pals from ground level? Why be so uncomfortable?

As these questions swirled around in my doggie mind, it hit me. I sure can talk the talk, but when it comes to walking the walk, I had definitely tripped up. Here I am, always talking about accepting (and even accentuating) the things that make us unique, and I am being judgmental of someone’s fashion choice? Shame on me.

Her reasons for wearing those (albeit incredibly uncomfortable looking) shoes are her reasons, and I have no right to question them. The scenery along the journey to self-understanding looks different for everyone, but the destination is the same. We are all at different points in our quests to get to first get to know who we are and then try not to be afraid of it.

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment,” suggested great transcendentalist thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson. To be yourself is to be a leader – in your life and the lives of others. My mental commentary on the woman and her four-inch heels was not reflective of my appreciation for the spices in my melting pot of life. It flew in the face of my positive outlook on all people, places and things. It wasn’t me.

After all, there’s a lot of things I don’t understand about this world I live in, but that doesn’t give me the right to analyze and critique simply because I don’t understand. That stranger woman’s shoe preference doesn’t matter in the overall scheme of life. In fact, good for her for being comfortable enough in her own skin to make a statement like that. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not suggesting we all go out and buy a ridiculous pair of shoes to stand out in our various parts of the world. Quite the contrary, in fact. I’m encouraging us all to look deep within, dust off our own personal freak flags, and fly them with pride.

 

Progress Is Perfection May 26, 2013

Like so many things, words are what we make them. And in my humble opinion, there are far too many nouns in this world. Too many words that mean something instead of do something. That changes today.

If a noun is lazy, breathe life into it. Make it a verb. Take the word journey, for example. Whether it was career-related, a physical trip somewhere, or purely emotion, we’ve all been on a number of journeys in life. How did the paths lead? What do you remember? What was the destination? Have you reached it yet?

Progress is PerfectionMerriam-Webster and Bing both cite “journey” first as a noun and then as a verb. To me, it should be the other way around. We ought journey onward rather than simply be on a journey. Sure, it might sound like semantics to some, but let me explain.

The progress along the way, the scenery if you will, is often the highlight of the journey itself. And in a world encompassed by the constant pressure-cooker of perfection, progress is a pretty important part of every journey. Yet commercials showcasing the next revolutionary skincare regime, magazines with their airbrushed models, and high standards at school, work, and even at play, I’d say perfection is at a premium in modern society.

Meanwhile, great transcendentalist thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson challenged that “a man is what he thinks about all day long.” Well then, it’s no wonder to me why progress has become synonymous with failure to so many in today’s world of bigger, better, brighter and faster. Instead, we need to recognize progress rather than focusing so much on destination perfection. We may as well give up on perfection without first finding joy in progress.

“Advance, and never halt, for advancing is perfection,” Lebanese-American writer and poet Khalil Gabrin said. Rightly so, advancing is the verb and perfection is the noun synonymous with the destination at the end of a long journey.

Like I said, words are what we make them. And (at least to me) there are far too many words that mean something instead of do something. That changes today. If a noun in your life is being lazy, breathe life into it. Make it a verb. Don’t simply go on a journey. Journey through life with courage enough to do more than seek happiness, joy, and fulfillment. Don’t seek these things. Seek progress by instead being these things. By being happiness, joy, and fulfillment and you’ve already reached your destination.

 

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.